It just keeps snowing.

Day 259 of 365

Today, it snowed and snowed and snowed and snowed. I took this picture of the chickens just about 3:00 in the afternoon, and it kept snowing all afternoon and evening. I think it’s still snowing. We shoveled snow all day long. I am very tired. Ron is very tired. Our son helped a lot, and he is also very tired.

I think most of us had a rough day from this much snow. The poor chickens were only out of the coop for maybe an hour, and the poor ducks just sat in the snow hiding under their wings. I took them warm water four times, and maybe that helped, but it was still a very boring day for a duck.

Two people who did not have a boring day and, in fact, had a fantastic day are Boudica and Bairre. Great Pyrenees love the snow. Snow is the best to them, and we had a whole bunch of it today. I must get a video of Bairre playing.

But watching Boudica is my favorite. I wish I could convey her beauty. There is no picture that can do her justice. Every winter, when the pile of snow gets really, really high, Boudica loves to climb to the top and do her guarding work at the top of the little snow hill. Poor girl. It’s the only height she can get. Great Pyrenees are from the Great Pyrenees mountains that separate France and Spain. I imagine Great Pyrenees must naturally love getting some height.

Tonight, after dinner, I looked outside to see Boudica on her little hill, watching the road, watching the woods–protecting us. In the sparkly snow in the warm light from the porch, she looked like the most magnificent thing I think I have ever seen. It’s like, when I see her, I can see all the way to the Great Pyrenees mountains.

Happy Lunar New Year! (and a Giveaway)

Day 258 of 365

It’s the Lunar Year or Chinese New Year, and it’s the year of the Rabbit! I was born in the year of the rabbit, and I am telling you the rabbit suits me well: I just read online that the rabbit is the luckiest of all of the signs (I feel pretty lucky) and that people born in the year of the rabbit are timid, gentle and will think before acting. That last part is me to a fault. I will think myself right into inaction almost every time. I’m definitely a thinker.

I also read that Rabbits go well with Goats, Monkeys, Dogs, and Pigs. Ron was born in the year of the Rat, which seems fitting giving our current struggle, and both of my children, born 12 years apart, were born in the year of the Ox. Apparently, this means they are stubborn (check) but also do not seek to be the center of attention. This is a check on the oldest but a giant un-check on the youngest.

In my older age, I have found the need to celebrate and be joyous at any given opportunity ands started borrowing holidays from everyone everywhere. It just makes life good, and it’s wonderful to learn about other cultures. I worry about cultural appropriation, but as long as I can get away with it, I celebrate ALL the holidays. In recent years, I try to celebrate Pagan holidays, Jewish holidays, Christian holidays, and I always celebrate Lunar New Year. I love folklore and tradition, so I’m interested in all of it. I will also celebrate any random day that looks good to me like “Pi Day” on March 14 is one of my favorites. Every single year I made a pie with a pi symbol in it. Just wait. I’ll do it again this year.

To celebrate the Lunar New Year and the year of the Rabbit, I have a wonderful giveaway to offer. This is a gorgeous, handmade rabbit ornament from Barbara Robinson Pottery, and I just saw that this ornament is sold out, so you will be getting a limited edition here.

All you have to do to enter is leave a comment (ideally with your Chinese Astrology sign) on this post (1 entry) or become a follower of my blog (5 entries). If you already follow my blog, if you invite someone for me (they don’t even have to follow; I’m just thankful for the try), you will also get 5 entries. Just leave a comment to let me know. The deadline for entries is January 31.

Oh, but you must be in the United States to win because international shipping is a lot.

Thank you all for reading this little farming/making/chicken lady adventures. I think I have enough cool stuff to do a giveaway every month until I reach my goal of 365 days in May, so stay tuned! Just 107 days to go!

And happy Lunar New Year!

He’s so fluffy!

Day 257 of 365

Today, I did not have to throw away eggs! We got just five, but I was so thankful to get to keep all of them.

Also, we discovered that Bairre has stepped up his game when it comes to being bratty. Lately, he has been taking the duck water bowls, dumping them, and then dragging them through the snow. We have had to fill up the duck bowls too many times of late. But, today, Bairre decided to dump the food dish and then drag it through the snow. He left duck food everywhere in the snow, which is terrible because you never want to leave any food out for rats. We struggle enough!

Of course, we could not pick up the food. It’s just under the snow. Hopefully, the Blue Jays will clean it up fairly quickly. They love to steal duck food.

Yesterday, when I was baking the bread, FOUR times, he pulled the towel off of the rising loaves! Of course, he’s just bored and trying to get attention. We try to play with him a lot and give him loads of attention, but I’m telling you, Bairre has high standards.

It’s okay though. We’ll keep trying. He’s like a giant, living teddy bear. He’s so fluffy! It’s like heaven to pet him. He’s so fluffy that, tonight, I noticed my son’s hand left an imprint in the fluff after he gave Bairre some pets. How can a puppy be that fluffy? Gus had very soft fur, but it wasn’t so fluffy. Boudica’s fur is pretty fluffy, but Baire is like Great Pyrenees–extra.

Anyway, I wish everyone could come pet Bairre’s fluffy head because it will surely make you happy.

Bread Failed, Wisdom Gained

Day 255 of 365

I wrote last night about the tragic wasting of our eggs right now. Thankfully, we have just a couple of days to go, so I am hopeful. Still, I had a very rough night tonight when three loaves of bread I had been workin on all day failed. I have never had such an epic fail of bread, and it’s so tragic because of the time and resources that go into that much dough.

The loaves just didn’t rise properly on the second rise, but I put them in the oven anyway, hoping for a miracle. It didn’t happen. I had planned to use one loaf of bread for dinner, and my son had orchestra rehearsal tonight, which meant I had little time to make something else. Thankfully, I have a very sweet husband and son who ate the sad bread and pretended like it was great. They are very kind. It wasn’t too terrible to eat, but it was surely sad.

After Ron tried to help me figure out what happened, I realized I had let the dough get too warm in the oven proofing–and it proofed for too long. I was working with my son on homeschool, and I let the dough go way too long. My son and I had fun though. The state requires some focus on Word, Excel, and PowerPoint, so I was going to show him PowerPoint today. My son has never used it, but, somehow, the software was so intuitive to him that he ended up showing me a few things about PowerPoint. Sometimes, I wonder who is homeschooling who.

Anyway, the failed bread hit me hard because I was just saying that I was becoming a good baker and was making two of the three loaves as gifts to go with a meal for my neighbor and her family. Ron gave me a pep talk about being too hard on myself, and I had this epiphany about how, though I try so hard to be patient with myself, I can be pretty hard on myself, which sets an example for my children that I really wish to not set. Both of my children can be hard on themselves, but my youngest takes it to the next level. I worry about him. I want to do better for myself and for my children. It’s such a process though, isn’t it?

But I also learned how much I am loved that my family will eat the sad bread and tell me it’s just fine–just because they love me so much. I am very fortunate to have people who are so very much on my side.

I am also writing this with a Great Pyrenees head in my lap. Yes, I am very fortunate.

photo credit: Victoria Shes, Unsplash

Throw-away Eggs

Day 254 of 365

I have been throwing away eggs all week. It breaks my heart. If you follow this blog or know me even just a little, you know how much I love eggs. They are nutritious, so yummy, and are beautiful works of art. They are also magic. I have seen an egg go from an egg to a chick, and it’s a beautiful miracle. Yeah, I have always loved eggs.

Sadly, last week, when I discovered the outbreak of mites in some of our chickens, I forgot myself and used the non-organic treatment that I usually reserve for Rooster, as he is the only one who generally struggles with mites–and he’s never going to lay an egg.

The natural stuff works almost as well, maybe not quite so well, but I should have used the natural stuff. Yesterday, I threw away six eggs. Today, just three. But this has been going on for five days, and we still have three days to go.

I think it breaks my heart extra right now because I know eggs are so expensive, and I have customers who love them and would appreciate a reasonable price for such delicious eggs, I am sure. And I can’t get these beautiful eggs to them because I am having to throw them away.

I am having my own supply chain issues, I guess.

Snow Shoveling…with Friends

Day 253 of 365

The snow was real snow today, not ice-snow, and the sun was out making for a lovely day. It was a good day to shovel snow, especially when you have such good friends who hang out with you while you shovel.

This is little Arwen. She is, perhaps, my favorite chicken. She’s the last baby from Rooster and is the great grand baby of Poe. She reminds me a lot of Poe. She’s smart and chill and observant. She hung out with me the whole time I shoveled in the chicken area, and then, when I went to shovel the deck, I saw her roaming around the whole yard, just walking on top of the snow. Isn’t she beautiful? And do you remember her from this summer? She was the little chick who would sneak under the fence and steal watermelon from the big chickens this summer. I had never seen anything like it. Her boldness was surprising, and I wondered what she would be like as a grown up. Really, really smart. That’s what she’s like as a grown up.

This is Dvorak and the back side of Piatigorsky. My little crew I raised this summer mostly sticks together still. I think Dvorak was the first one out of the coop today. Being cooped up with Rooster all day long was stressful. Dvorak completely understands that Rooster is the boss.

Every time I shovel this path, many hens will follow me out there. That’s Arwen in the front, and Poe Jr. Jr. is behind her.

These are some of the trees in the chicken area. They look so beautiful to me in the snow. We have lots of oaks, some maples, and some birch. We also have a lot of pine and fir trees.

You can see we are starting to get a little pile of snow. After a winter of no winter, I don’t mind the snow. The chickens, on the other hand, are not fans.

This is little Arwen. After I finished shoveling, she just took off around the whole property all by herself. Here, she is exploring the garden, which looks so empty in the winter time.

This is on the other side of our property where the ducks live and the dogs work and play. Bairre can’t be trusted with the chickens yet, and he’s barely able to be trusted with the ducks. We have had setbacks in the last week. It’s a reminder that Great Pyrenees do have to be taught not to chase the little things. Boudica is rebelling and not helping, which is unfortunate because she’s the best teacher, but today, Ron told her, “If he gets into the ducks, I’m gonna be grumpy at you.” I am not even kidding. Bairre did not get into the ducks the whole rest of the day.

And here she is. I think she’s the most majestic being I have ever known. Isn’t she beautiful? I think I ask that all the time, but I just marvel at her.

And last but not least, here comes Bairre. He was just playing with his stuffed gnome in the snow, but I was making such a fuss over Boudica being so beautiful. This meant Bairre had to come assert his cuteness. He is definitely majestic too.

Winter Came All at Once

Day 252 of 365

I am so tired. Not only did I spend the afternoon shoveling some very heavy ice-snow, I couldn’t sleep last night because I could hear the ice coming down, which made me fret. Mainly, I was fretting about what kind of day the poor chickens and ducks were going to have. Today was miserable weather here in our part of Maine. It was ice then snow and then ice again–all_day_long.

I shouldn’t complain because we have had a very, very mild winter. I was just seeing a farmer friend call this year in Maine “the year without a winter.” Well, I am sure my farmer friend must have jinxed us because winter came today–with force.

The poor ducks stayed out in the terrible weather all day. I took them straw and tried to give bring their water and food to them, but that just upset them. You can’t move the food bowl. It is wrong to move anything. Everything must stay the same always and forever.

Thankfully, I was able to clean out their duck house in all this mess and tuck them in tonight with a bowl of warm peas and a house full of fresh straw. They seemed happy after a long day.

The chickens, mostly, just refused to leave the coop, so they sat in there and got on each other’s nerves all day. I delivered treats once and stayed for a visit. I also visited off and on while I shoveled the snow.

The cutest story of the whole day relates to Ruby, Juliet, and Kate–mainly Kate. This morning, despite the terrible weather, Ruby and Juliet took off out of the coop front door while I was bringing in the food. Later, I realized that, somehow, Kate also got out, but she may have gone out the back door and then flew over the fence. I didn’t check for tracks, but she does that kind of thing all the time. When she was young, she used to trek through the snow all the time.

Anyway, there was nowhere for the driveway crew to go today, except under Ron’s camper shell for his truck. So, all day long, I took treats and food and water to the camper shell. There, under the shell, Ruby, Juliet, Kate, and a red squirrel hung out all day long. They all seemed to be pretty happy with the arrangement.

But in the late afternoon, just as I was getting ready to go out to shovel snow with Ron who, by the way, shovels snow like a miracle, I thought I heard someone at the door. Turns out, it was Kate. She was ready to go into the coop, and she knows to come to the door to get us.

I took this picture of her at the door because it was the cutest thing. If we had a doorbell down low, I have no doubt that she could ring it. Isn’t she wonderful?

I sure hope tomorrow is a better day for the chickens. I told them when I tucked them in tonight that tomorrow would be better. I hope I didn’t tell them a lie.

Winter Walk in the Woods

Day 251 of 365

Today, our family went for a walk in the woods behind our house. Our part of the woods is very small, but our neighbors own the rest and let us hike around when we like. There are no trails, so we do not often venture into the deeper parts of the woods. But we did today!

Even though I fell once and was whipped in the face so many times by tree branches, I had an amazing time. I love the woods in the winter. Because of ticks, we cannot got into the woods in the summer, so winter is the time. I’m a slow walker, a huge fan of sauntering, but I was extra slow today because I kept taking pictures of beautiful things and also had to hug a few trees. I had the best time!

These are some of my favorite photos from my winter walk today. I made a slideshow that I hope works. I think my favorite photo is of the tree full of woodpecker holes. Isn’t that cool?