Be it ever so humble…

Day 67 of 365

This week was such a busy week for our family. It’s hard to run a little farm and then leave to go do anything else during the summer. You are quite tied to your land. I don’t mind this. I love this place so much, but it’s a reality. So when you have to be on the coast all week for your child’s music camp, you have a busy week. On top of this, I had several classes I teach end, which meant epic end-of-the-term grading of big research projects. It was a week!

It was a fantastic week, though. My son played in two concerts and did very well. I used to have a lot of anxiety watching him play, but now I get less nervous. I have seen he’s a solid cellist and will continue to get better and better. He’s kind of steadfast in his growth and reliability, and I have come to an understanding that getting to this point is a sign of good progress as a classical musician. He still messes up tiny bits in longer pieces, but he hides it well. It’s cool, as a mom and a teacher, to watch someone learn and improve at such a difficult skill. He is fortunate to have an amazing teacher. He learns well from the way she teaches.

I had tremendous joy watching him perform in both concerts this week, and I think the joy is doubled just by seeing all of the children making music. They are all wonderful! I can’t play any instrument at all, though I love music. I admire all of them greatly. When the younger children first started to play, I cried and cried and couldn’t stop. They had some squeaks. Those strings are hard to play, but they were brilliant Yeah, it was a fantastic week.

But I was so glad to get home tonight and know I get to stay home tomorrow. I missed our animals, especially Boudica. I won’t have to worry that the baby chicks are okay tomorrow. I will be here to keep an eye on them. They are in a fenced area, but bad stuff can still happen. There are many chicken predators in the Maine woods. There are extra chicken predators for baby chicks. So no worrying about the baby chicks feels like such a relief.

And I missed our trees, which may sound strange, but I did. I missed the coolness of our house (we have so many wonderful trees). It was hot being in town all day. I finally found a decent spot to work outside under a tree, which helped, but I still missed our trees. I missed having tea with Ron on our deck in the mornings. Those are critical to starting the day with joy. They are like one of my hygge rituals, even in summer.

When we pulled into the driveway tonight after a long drive home from a perfect evening of music, I felt such joy at getting to be a homebody for a few days. Tomorrow morning, I’m having tea with my husband on our deck where I can visit with my tiny neighbor, who is sitting on her second clutch of eggs! I really missed our Eastern Phoebes. I know my time with them is short.

Nobody blogs about chicken poop dust in your hair…

Day 12 of 365

I generally feel like I live in two different worlds–the classical music world thanks to my son’s interest in and love for the cello and the farming/homesteading world where we talk about things like dirt and poop. Dirt and poop are actually far more important than I ever could have imagined, but that’s another post.

Sometimes, these worlds feel connected. Farmer-ish makes my worlds make perfect sense to me, for example. Sometimes, my worlds feel worlds apart. I don’t think this was ever more apparent to me than yesterday.

My son has made it to the next round in a music competition, and this has meant he’s had to work with a pianist to accompany him. First of all, I had no idea this was even a thing until like two months ago. I am essentially an idiot in the classical music world. I love classical music with every fiber of my being. It can be transcendent to me and is always a joy at the very least. But I know I am an idiot. Thankfully, I am a good listener and a quick learner. Still, I have so much to learn.

Come to think of it, I’m pretty much an idiot when it comes to farming. It is also magical to me. I love good animal husbandry with every fiber of my being, and I can talk about chickens until people want to run away or cry. But outside of chicken care and food preservation, I know about 10% of what I need to know. Thankfully, I am a good listener and quick learner. Still, again, I have much to learn.

But I digress. Yesterday, I had to take my son to the pianist’s home for a rehearsal. The pianist was very kind to us, and her home is beautiful, just beautiful. I didn’t feel jealous like I thought I might in such a situation, but the art and musical instruments were magnificent. Our old house has popcorn ceilings. We try to cute things up, but our home is well–quirky. It suits me, and our property with the trees and garden and beautiful fences Ron built by hand, is lovely. Still, it’s quirky.

I sat while my son played with her, and he did so well. He played well. He conveyed thanks to her. He was polite. All the things you hope for in such a situation. It was a good mom moment. While they were playing, I looked around with my eyes. The lighting was wonderful, and I was in love with the pianos and wall art, which I later found out included framed art from her children’s art growing up. Of course, I thought this was magnificent. I love art from kids. It feels so honest. But I was in awe of the loveliness of everything. Even the books stacked on the table looked magnificent to me. They were all books about classical music, and I wanted to read them.

Then, we came home. I finished grading essays and then had to clean the chicken coop and duck house. I, somehow, decided it was necessary to do a full deep clean of the coop. Maybe it was because I worry about lice and mites when we get a lot of broody hens in the summer. Broody hens won’t go dust bathe, which makes lice and mites more likely. We will soon have to make some decisions about who gets to raise babies this summer. Ruby was first, so she got some hatching eggs. But we will have ten hens go broody any given summer. We can’t bring that many chickens into the world. Our coop has limits, and we want the birds to be comfortable. So some broody hens will have to get ice packs and forced time outside the coop. This helps “break” them from being broody. I will get to choose one more to be a mama this summer. I always try to choose wisely.

So I scrubbed everything in that coop. I cleaned out every nest box and check every broody hen for lice and mites. Then, I started scrubbing chicken poop from the lower nest box and ladders. I’m telling you, there’s nothing like scrubbing dried chicken poop. I generally don’t mind cleaning the coop, but as I sat there scrubbing the dried poop with a scraper, I realized after a bit that my face and hair were covered in chicken poop dust. Yeah, it’s a good thing I wear a mask.

In that moment, I felt light years from my morning in the beautiful home listening to my kiddo play beautiful classical music. He’s playing The Swan. I mean, everyone loves The Swan on cello. And, there I was in the afternoon, with chicken poop dust in my hair. I had to wonder also why I have never seen a chicken blogger talk about the down and dirty of chicken poop dust in your hair.

It’s worth it, of course. I will clean chicken poop until the day I die because I adore these animals and want them to have a good, clean place to live. Still, that moment really made me think about the difference.

Later, when I was giving one of our hens a bath because she was the one chicken out of all of my health checks who had a mites. When I turned on the bath water, the noise scared her, and she flew up and broke the faucet. Just broke it–like we have to buy a new faucet kind of broke it.

I turned to Schumann, who is named for the classical composer, of course,, and said to her, “Schumann, I’ll bet classical musicians never have their chickens break their faucets.”

***

I have to do a Ruby update quickly. I’m getting a lot of messages from people saying they like knowing what’s happening with Ruby, which just makes my day. She’s actually doing very well. I figured out that she wasn’t eating or drinking very much because she is so broody. So I started today, in addition to giving her treats, holding the water for her while she drinks. Honestly, my Ruby who generally just grumps at me these days because she’s doesn’t want me messing around near her or her eggs, seemed really thankful. So I’ll be holding the water for her every day now. Every broody hen I have ever had was different. Sometimes, they seem to handle things well and don’t make me worry. But I had one who wouldn’t even get off her eggs to go to the bathroom, and I had a three-day rule. If she went three days and didn’t move, I would pick her up and physically make her walk around. I would move her legs for her, until she would go make the biggest poop in the history of the world.

There’s been lots of talk of poop tonight. If you made it all the to the end of this, I promise to give the poop talk a break tomorrow.

Everybody Loves Cello

Day 6 of 365

Today was a big day off of our little farm. That’s why I am so late to write. My cello mom work started early this morning and didn’t end until long after dark.

photo credit: Janderson Tulio, Unsplash

Our son is a cellist, and he’s a pretty serious cellist. Today, my husband drove us to Augusta, and we listened to one of the most beautiful orchestra concerts I think I have ever heard. There was the drive, the rehearsal, the making of food to eat in the car, the drive home. It’s a long day at the end of a long season of 10 weeks of driving, eating in the car, sitting in the car during three-hour rehearsals.

But, truly, it’s worth it and then some. If you have never heard The Sicilienne, the third movement of Faure’s Pelleas et Melisande, give it a listen here. It’s magnificent! And I just heard it played live by an orchestra—and my kiddo played in the orchestra. I have no words for the joy this brought me.

Thinking of the cello reminds me to tell you a story about the Eastern Phoebes who have made a nest on our deck. It was just a treat watching them build that nest over the last few weeks. Those birds worked so hard. Thankfully, I learned Eastern Phoebes tolerate people very well. How fortunate am I? I mean, I won’t get too close. I promised the female Phoebe I would be respectful of her space (I have a whole other story to tell about that later), but I am still in for some joy this summer. I read they might raise two broods! I am so glad these fantastic birds chose our deck. 

Last night, when my son was practicing his cello, it started to rain, and I had to step outside onto the deck to bring in some aloe plants I had potted during the day. When I stepped outside, I could hear my son’s cello so loudly and clearly from outside the window, and then I realized the Eastern Phoebe nest was right above the window to our son’s music room. 

For a moment, I worried about the nest being so close to that loud cello music, but then it occurred to me that the Phoebes would have surely been aware of the loud cello music while building their nest. Our son plays cello six days a week for about two hours each day. Maybe, just maybe, Eastern Phoebes like cello music, too. 

“At least that A string,” Ron said when I told him what I noticed. “Yeah, at least that A string,” I thought.  

We have a duck who injured her leg on the ice one winter several years ago. She had to live in the house for nearly eight weeks while she recovered. During that time, we discovered she loved the cello. When our son would start to practice, she would come from wherever she was in the house and park herself right under the cello. She would stay there for the whole cello practice! It was amazing!

I did some research and learned that birds process music in the same part of their brains as we do. How cool is that?   

***

Oh, and I have a quick Ruby update. She’s still on the eggs and took no break today. I gave her some leftover homemade waffles as a treat. She ate them out of my hand very aggressively and then gave me a good hard peck on the hand for good measure. Oh, Ruby! 

I will candle her eggs on Wednesday.