Archive for April, 2012

I have four cats, Smoke, Puff, Callie, and Salem.  When people hear the names of my older two cats, I often get the question “What do you smoke?”  The answer is, “I don’t.”  I am allergic to smoke.  Exposure to a little bit isn’t bad.  Too much exposure gives me bronchitis, and can lead to pneumonia and pleurisy.  Yay.

Smoke was born in the Winter of 1995.  She was rescued by some friends of mine while they were fishing.  A car drove over a bridge as the driver threw a bag into the water.  The bag held seven kittens.  Smoke was the only one to survive.  Smoke is a tortoiseshell calico.  She has lovely emerald green eyes.  I lived in an apartment in a city of about 100,000 people.  I don’t like cities. So when my best friends invited me to move onto their country property, I did.   I’ve been here ever since, and so has Smoke.  Smoke had two litters of kittens before we got her surgery done.  Some of her kittens stayed here; some were found good homes.  Smoke is a hunter.  She loves to catch mice, baby rabbits, voles, moles, grasshoppers, and more.  She even caught a small bird once or twice.  She is starting to show her age.  She’s more bony, less muscular.  She is starting to have difficulty jumping up on my bed.  She pulls herself up instead.  She’s still fiery when confronted by a strange dog.  She prefers to fight rather than run.  She once left a nasty cut on the nose of a Doberman that cornered her on the porch rail.  Smoke and my dog, Freya, are my old ladies.  Freya was born the Spring of 1996. Puff is a huge gray cat.  He’s typically quiet.

Puff was born at the neighbor’s house in the Spring of 2000.  He is heavy, but not overweight.  He loves to hunt field mice.   Once when I was doing an interview, the camera lady’s mouth dropped open suddenly.  I looked where she was looking only to see Puff with a large mouse in his mouth.  He ran under the house with three other cats in tow.  When Puff was younger, he tried to catch birds.  He even caught a full-grown rabbit once.  I was quite impressed.  Puff also has green eyes.  He loves to put his feet up on my lap while I’m typing.  He does this when he wants me to lift him into my arms.  I put him on my shoulder so that his back feet are on my belly.  Then, I rub him up one side and down the other at the same time.  He loves this so much that he curls his toes and purrs deeply.  If I allow it, he’ll fall asleep in my arms.  Usually, I put him down after a few minutes and go back to writing.

Callie and Salem are litter-mates.  (I don’t have photos of them to share, yet.)  Callie is a tri-color calico with a bottle brush tail and long fur.  She loves to wrestle with her brother.  She also loves to give the other animal kitty kisses.  When she was younger, Thor would groom her.  Over time, Thor gave Callie dreadlocks.  Then one day, the dreads were gone.  Thor had groomed them off.  She has been dread free ever since.  Callie loves to hunt bugs more than anything else.  She also loves the climb the door when she wants to be let in.  None of the other cats have done that before.  That action is strictly Callie’s.  She also hates to be picked up.  She tolerates being petted occasionally.  She has a gentle meow.

Salem is my black cat.  He loves to pounce Callie when she’s not expecting it.  He loves to catch almost anything that moves.  Salem enjoys being petted.  When he wants down, he wants down NOW!  Salem prefers to sleep outside at night, unless it’s very cold.  He has a very quiet meow.  He loves to sleep near Thor whenever they are both inside.  He also loves to give Thor kitty kisses whenever Thor grooms Salem.  Salem enjoys going out into the woods.  I saw him once trying to catch minnows.  He was fun to watch. As with many other people out there, my cats are part of my family.  They make my life fuller and brighter.  Do you have any cat stories to share?


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I awoke this morning at 3:17 a. m.  The sky was dark.  The clouds covered the stars.  My tired eyes don’t want to be awake, but my mind is busy.  My body is stiff from yesterday’s preparations for our visitors.

My dogs are still asleep.  Freya is lying on the floor beside the bed where my son, Billy, sleeps.  Thor is on the bed where my son, Joshua, is sleeping.  Two of the cats are inside.  The other two are outside.

When I first awoke, the world was quiet.  Now, it’s starting to wake up.  I hear the early birds.  Our chickens are starting to talk to each other, but they’ve not come out into the run.  I hear a vehicle pulling the nearby hill.  The deer are on the move.

The tadpoles in our pool are still quiet.  None are moving.  Sleeping tadpoles on the grass thrown into the water by the lawn mower.  It makes a warm, safe place for them to sleep.

I’m starting to get sleepy again.  My eyes are tired.  My mind is starting to quiet down.  I think I’ll go back to bed.

Good morning, everyone.  I hope you have a wonderful and blessed day!

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This morning dawned quietly as most mornings in rural areas are want to do.  The chickens are eating and looking for bugs.  The baby chicks are doing the same.  One of my dogs is outside; the other, lying beside me.  The cats are outside, too, chasing field mice.  The sun is up and has reached over the trees.  It’s warming the chicken coop, but has not yet reached the garden. This is the time of time when I enjoy working in the garden.  I don’t have to worry about sunburns or getting too hot.

Today, though, we have company coming. Plans for today include moving the firepit from the upper yard to what used to be our goat field.  We can’t leave it where it is because errant sparks could damage the new greenhouse before I ever get to use it.

Next, we need to cut up dead standing trees for the bonfire.  These trees are usually young pine that died without falling over.  This allows gravity to work.  Most of the sap and moisture drain away leaving dry, ready-to-burn wood.

We also need to mow in the goat field and the yard.  Fortunately, we have three lawn mowers.  One is a riding mower.  We’ll use it for the larger areas.  The second mower is a push mower.  It’s perfect for the front and side yards, as well as any tight areas.  The third mower is a sickle mower that is mainly used for very tall grasses, brambles, and hay.  It may not get used today.

In the house, the dishes and bathroom need to be cleaned.  Boxes of recently purchased items need to be put away.  Dusting needs doing.  These things are fairly easy and shouldn’t take much time.

The last things that need doing are decorating, preparing the Maypole, and cooking for the potluck dinner.  I love to dance the Maypole.  We always end up laughing and having a good time.  This year, I have friends bringing their drums and others who will be belly dancing for us. Today promises to be a wonderful day.  Time to get busy,…after I finish my coffee.  For now, I think I’ll enjoy the quiet.

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Cornish Rock chickens are meat chickens.  They are a cross between a  Cornish strain rooster and a white Plymouth Rock hen.  The Cornish strain is a double breasted breed.  The Plymouth Rock is tall and large boned.  These broiler chickens have a high food conversion ratio.  They grow quickly and are ready for harvesting at about seven to nine weeks of age.

Cornish Rock chickens have a thirty percent mortality rate before reaching harvestable age.  They are also quite content to lay between feeder and waterer all day long.  They were slow to grow feathers.  They walk with a waddle.   The body cavity is large which makes for easier cleaning.

Harvesting chickens isn’t for the faint of heart.  We put the chopping block in the garden.  This allows the chickens’ blood to fertilize the garden.  Before harvesting, I talk with my chickens.  I explain what I’m about to do.  I thank them for giving their lives so my family has food.  I than them for being a part of the food chain.  Being and giving thanks for one’s food is only proper.

By raising our own chickens, we know how they are treated, what they eat, and how they are treated when harvested.  We also know that they are not given hormones.  We know how old they are, and where they were purchased.

At the end of the hard work, my family has chicken for soup, for canning, for freezing, and for tonight’s meal.  All the work is worth the results.

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Quiet Time

One of my favorite things to do when I’m in need of some peace and quiet is to go out into our woods.  No music, no people, no traffic, no phones.  Sometimes, my dogs and some of my cats will follow me.  We have a cabin in the woods that is situated not far from a creek.  I like to sit and listen to the creek.  Most days it’s gentle sounding.  The water tinkles over the rocks.  After heavy rains, it roars and overflows its banks.  Some days, the roar fits my mood.

We also have a small glade in a thicket of rhododendron trees.  These trees are about fifteen or so feet tall.  They get beautiful flowers on them about this time of year.  The flowers are kind of purple in color.  I like to go to  the glade and lie down.  This allows me to look through the branches of the trees to the sky.  The sun shines through to me providing dappled light.

In the summer, the forest is a nice reprieve from the heat.  Just walking into the tree line is about five or more degrees cooler, or so it seems.   It is sudden heat relief.

When I’m in the forest, I like to listen for animals.  Mostly, I don’t see any because my dogs and cats scare them away.  Sometimes, mostly when my pets aren’t with me, I see squirrels, chipmunks, birds, and deer.  I know that we share our woods with bears, but I have yet to see one while down there.

Bears have a very distinctive odor.  They smell very earthy probably because they love their dens.  Male bears tend to have a stronger odor than females.  Also, remember that if you see cubs, momma’s not far away.  Back away quickly and leave the area.  Do not run or you will attract the momma’s attention.  If you are in a forested area that is known to have bears, then make some noise while walking.  Talk with friends.  If you are alone, say “Hey, Bear!” loudly.  You don’t need to scream it, but it does need to be loud enough to warn any bears that might be nearby.  Some hikers put bells on their backpacks.  However, some bear experts warn that this attracts bears because they’ve learned that where there’s a bell, there’s food.

A good rule to remember is that the forest is their home.  Be polite and respectful.  Don’t litter.  Leave any babies you find alone because mom is nearby.  Be mindful of your surroundings.

The forest is a peaceful place that is perfect for meditation, relaxation, and exercise.  I love to go there to watch the creek and animals.  I hope you do, too.



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My dogs always alert me to thunderstorms long before I ever hear them.  Freya always wants to be petted during the early part of the storm.  She comes to my right side and places her head on my leg.  She shivers with fear.  Once the storm really gets going, she hides under my bed.

Thor, on the other hand, pushes his way under my desk.  He likes to put his head in my lap for a few minutes so that I can reach under my keyboard tray to pet him.  Once he knows it’s okay to be there, he lies down and waits for the storm to pass.  If the storm is really bad, Thor tries to climb into my skin.  He doesn’t just try to climb into my lap.


If it’s nighttime when the thunderstorm arrives, my bed vibrates with Freya’s shivering.  Also, Thor lies down on top of me, or at least he tries to.  If I manage to get my arm around him and get him to lie down beside me, then I can curl up around him.  Once I manage this, he feels safe enough that we can both sleep.

Lately, Freya’s hearing has gotten worse.  She doesn’t hear the storm unless the rain is very heavy or the lightning is close.  As I write, she is lying beside me totally unaware of the storm.


Thor is under my desk hiding from the storm.  This storm really isn’t that bad, not yet.  According to radar, the worst is yet to come.  I’m fairly certain that he will be under my desk for the majority of the day.

I’m fairly good at training my dogs.  Each knows many commands with Thor knowing more than Freya.  I have yet to find a way to teach them not to fear thunderstorms.  Any suggestions?

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I was sent the photo above on Facebook.  I don’t know the original source.  I like the idea, though.  Reusing rather than throwing away is always good.  From the photos, I can’t really tell what is being done in steps 10 through 12.  At first, I thought it might be tape.  Now, I think about it, the person may have been sewing it to flatten it out.  It looks like a total of six bottles were used.  I’ve not tried this project.  I wonder how well it sweeps.  I also wonder how long it lasts.

Any know?




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