Deep Clean

Day 92 of 365

When you find out that some of your flock have poultry lice, you Google to find out what you did wrong. The old timers will say, if you keep chickens long enough, you’re going to get a case of lice or mites, but you Google anyway. Of course, the internet shames you, says your are not taking good care of your chickens. You consider that it’s only your very old hens with the lice and that it has been a terrible summer for them because of the heat, but what if the internet is right and you are terrible chicken mom?

Of course, you are doing all of the things the internet says to do to prevent lice, but you realize that you are going to have to deep clean the coop and treat it. It is necessary when your chickens have lice, and a deep clean is always a good idea anyway.

You start about 5:00 to make sure everyone has finished laying eggs because you are going to have to treat the nest boxes. You think this whole process will take about an hour and half. You are so wrong.

About two hours in, you start questioning your life decisions.

You may ask yourself “How did I get here?”

You may ask yourself, “Why do I have so many chickens”/”

You may ask yourself, “How did chicken poop get there?”

After more than three hours and you are finally finished cleaning the coop, complete with a good vacuuming and treatment, and it’s time for straw. You put in the fresh straw and then open the coop door to let the chickens in.

And then there’s a chicken party because nothing’s more fun than a coop full of fresh straw, and then you realize this is why you do this. You love chickens, and seeing them have joyful lives, knowing they are pretty lucky chickens, makes it all worth it. And maybe, just maybe, you are not a terrible chicken mom after all.

The Weather Report for Chickens

Day 89 of 100

I was going to write tonight about corn and give a crop report. It’s fascinating to me what Ron has managed to do in the garden despite the water and temperature struggles this summer. Some things have failed–but not many things. But I will have to give more detail tomorrow because I have a joyful story to tell, and I feel like, right now, if you have a joyful story to tell, I want to hear it. I hope you feel the same.

This is Juliet’s baby, who is on her own with her brother since last week. Oh, Juliet! She has no name yet because I have to know her a little before I can name her well. Today, I learned something about her. I was giving watermelon to the big chickens first, and this tiny hen squeezed under the fence, ran out there with the grownups and stole some watermelon. That’s bold. There’s an order in chicken culture, and this would be punished with a good peck if she were to be caught. She surely knows this, but that baby ran out there anyway while the other babies watched in awe and stole some watermelon. This is fantastically bold.

I always give my chickens the weather report to try to help them through the bad days. I am so sensitive to how they feel that, when they are struggling with extreme weather like we are, I worry extra. I try to make their lives reasonable during tough times, I mean, the watermelon rinds are piling up out there. Still, hot and miserable weather is hot and miserable weather for everybody. Generally, in the summers, I can say, “just a few days, and we’ll get a little break,” but it became apparent last month that we were in for a long heat wave and dry spell the likes of which I have not seen in Maine. I did not want to tell my chickens the bad news, so I just laid low.

But, today, as I delivered another round of watermelon and checked all of the waterers, I got to to deliver the good news as well–one more bad day! The cooler temperatures are coming for us on Monday. The high tomorrow is supposed to be 95. The high on Monday is supposed to be 70–and the rain is coming too! All the animals, including some very old hens who I was really worried about in this heat, seem to be going to make it!

Mary Jane is still alive. I gave that old girl a pep talk today. She is doing much better than I thought, so I told her to hang in there a little longer. If she can make it just one more day, she can live to see another glorious fall around here. Chickens LOVE the Fall. The cooler temps, the leaves, the bugs on the leaves. Even if they take turns molting, overall, fall is a fun time for our pasture-raised chickens. The pasture gets extra fun.

I was feeling so good about sharing the good news with all the animals tonight when I tucked everyone in for their bedtime. Shortly after, I came inside after wrapping up the duck game. While outside, I could hear music coming from the house, as, of course, all of the windows are open. When I came inside, I found Ron and our son dancing in the kitchen with the music so loud I am sure the neighbors could hear it. It was 7 Nation Army by the White Stripes, and they both looked so quirky and adorable. Our son was wearing his sunglasses and dancing around with his “old da.” The best part was that Boudica was joining in and jumping and playing in between the two of them.

I smiled so big my face literally hurt.

There is joy in the air on our little homestead. The rain is coming. The heat will break. Ron has kept the crops alive, and I have kept even Mary Jane alive. It’s been tough. I am so thankful rain and cool are coming.

The weather report looks good.

P.S. If you are a farmer or homesteader reading this post and you are struggling with heat and drought, my heart goes out to you. I hope with all of my might that you get some rain soon, too.

Rain.

Day 88 of 100

Tonight, I spent some time in the farming and homesteading discussion forums. It was fascinating to read about how other farmers are dealing with the heat and drought that has been just extra this year. Too many people are having their wells run dry, and it’s just heartbreaking to read about people having to give up their animals or find temporary homes for their animals where there is still some water.

photo credit: Frame Harirak, Unsplash

It’s easy to feel isolated in farming and homesteading work. In the summers, you are so busy that it can be hard to make time to connect. But connecting is important to learn from one another, and I am thankful for good forums with smart homesteaders and farmers. It’s good to share strategies in times of challenge. This year has been a challenge.

I have seen that Ron is pretty weary from all of the watering he has had to do this summer. Tonight, I read story after story of homesteaders just being so weary as well from all of the hand watering. Some are just giving up and praying for rain. I also read some articles about what has happened in Italy and Spain’s olive crops. It’s all concerning to me.

Ron has not given up, and we are very fortunate in that he has kept most of the crops healthy, but it has taken a toll on him. And when he’s watering all day, it leaves a lot of other chores to me. I get a little weary myself from extra responsibilities. It’s important and joyful work to me. I love having and caring for animals, but summer is extra work with all of the teenager chickens, babies, broody mamas, and the extra watering and care required in this kind of heat.

Early next week, it is supposed to rain. I think we’ve had just two good rains this whole summer. And that last one wasn’t as good as it needed to be.

Tonight, as I read the farming and homesteading forums, I wished for all of those farmers to get rain on Monday. I wished for us to get rain. I wished for everyone who so desperately needs it right now to get rain. This is the summer that climate change, for me at least, went from being something I have been wringing my hands about to something that I understand is just going to have to be dealt with–and it’s not going to be easy. I wish to be wrong on that, but I am worried I am not.

Hen or Roo?

Day 87 of 365

There is a little game chicken people play every spring and summer. Overall, I have gotten pretty good at it, but sometimes, I am wrong. Generally, I can tell if a chicken is a hen or a rooster fairly early on. There are clues even when they are very young–thickness of their legs, tails, behavior, and in some situations, the comb can be a tell.

The last time I was thrown way off was years ago with one of Poe’s babies. That little boy had no comb and did not crow until he was 15 weeks old. I have seen roosters crow at 5 or 6 weeks. It’s the cutest thing ever! When I heard Poe’s baby crowing and realized I would not be getting a hen from my Poe, oh my goodness, my heart broke.

That was the last time I was way wrong on guessing in the hen or roo game, but I have a tricky one now. It’s Rostropovich.

When that chicken was little, I was pretty sure she was a she with an overall smaller size and thinner legs. I could tell quite early on that Dvorak was a boy, and Rostropovich definitely looked different from Dvorak. However, in the last few weeks, Rostropovich’s comb has gotten big enough that I am worried a bit.

Still, there has been no crowing at all from her (please be a her), and we have a Buff Orpington hen (Rostropovich is a Lavender Orpington) with a giant comb. So I try to be hopeful, but I worry my bias in hoping for a hen is influencing my ability to fairly assess the situation.

I took pictures tonight to share the dilemma.

This is Piatigorsky, definitely a girl and the sweetest
chicken in the history of ever.
This is Dvorak, definitely a rooster.
And this is Rostropovich. You can see the dilemma, right?
Also, I think she’s wondering why someone pooped in the
watermelon.
One of my greatest struggles is that I can’t tell anything by
the tails. Usually, the tail is a tell. But this is Dvorak with like
no tail yet. Piatigorsky also has like no tail. And then
Rostropovich has a pretty big tail. I could not get a picture
though. Still, it’s no help when the known hen and known
rooster of the same breed have the exact same tail at this point.
This is Emily, our Buff Orpington hen with a comb as big as
our rooster’s comb.

So what do you think? Is Rostropovich a hen or a roo?

505 Blueberries Per Quart

Day 84 of 365

After my second quart, I announce “There are 505 blueberries in this quart!”

“Is that all?” Ron hollers from across the field. I don’t know why that man is never impressed. I thought he might say, “Wow! That’s amazing!” He never says things like that. I don’t know why I imagine such things in my mind.

“Yeah, well, I got lucky with some bigger blueberries early on and filled up the bottom of the quart super fast!” I holler back.

I suppose counting blueberries is what one does on a hot day in August when your kiddo, who is usually with you to complain about the heat and the wasps, is at summer camp. Today, it was just me and Ron and the heat and the blueberries that were three sizes smaller than last year. I felt a little lonely. I felt a little bored, I suppose. So I counted blueberries.

We pick blueberries at a farm that lets things be all natural. It’s in the middle of nowhere. You have to watch for bears. And they don’t/can’t water their berries. The berries we picked today were so much work, so much smaller than in years past. Apparently, our county in Maine is not officially in drought, but we are not far away from one. Ron is starting to worry about the well. But, for today, we just focused on the blueberries.

We eat a lot of blueberries all winter–in oatmeal, muffins, and I am determined to try them with quinoa this year–so we stock up on local blueberries every summer. But today’s picking was tough. The berries were so small that it took at least twice as long to fill up a quart as it did last year. I take that back, I would say three times as long.

And some of the bushes just had no berries at all. I was a little panicked at first, worried we wouldn’t get our quota of berries, which are extra important since the birds ate all of ours, though truly, our bushes did not make a lot of berries this year either. But I found a few generous bushes. I was so thankful to them as I picked. Sometimes, I just said it out loud to myself as I plucked the berries. “Thank you for this one and this one and this one. Oh, and especially this big one.”

I also learned to follow the wasps to the good berries, though not too closely. I have been stung before. Miraculously, though I had a few close calls, I did not get sting today.

Somehow, we managed to pick ten quarts, which will go a long way toward our quota but will not quite make it for us. I have a friend who sells wild blueberries though, so I am going to write to her and see if she has any boxes of the wild ones left. My fingers are crossed.

Just as I was about to start my last quart, an older couple (of course, I realize as I write this that my husband and I are pretty much an “older couple”) pulled up next to the car as I was heading toward the car to leave a quart in the trunk and pick up one more empty carton. They were kind.

“Did you leave us any berries?” the man asked. I told him it was a tough year, but I told him the spots that were better. His wife was disappointed.

“It’s the lack of rain,” I said. “It’s been a tough year.”

“And I guess they can’t water way out here,” she said.

“Right, right,” I said.

“Last year, the berries were jumping into our cartons,” the man said.

“I know. It’s a lot more work this year, but they’re there.” We all reminisced about last year’s berries. Last year, we started the growing season short on water. It was looking like another drought, but then the rains came and came and came. We had so much rain late last year, after begging the rain gods for it for months, that we had carrots rot in the ground from all of the water. The blueberries loved it though. Oh, how I wish for that rain again.

Every single day, Ron checks the weather hoping for rain. Every single day, he complains it’s not coming.

Right as we had to go pick up our son from camp, I came upon two great bushes of berries. As we walked toward the car, I saw the woman.

“Right here, there are two great bushes with good berries, kind of middle of this row and then another right across from it,” I told her.

“Thank you! I’ll check it out,” she said.

Home Again, Home Again

Day 82 of 365

We are home, and I am with my Boudica again! Just now, I was outside freshening the duck water, and Boudica came up to me with a big smile on her face. She, apparently, did a great job with the sitter, but she’s happy we’re home.

I experienced a lot of mixed emotions being home. I was happy to be here, but things had changed more than I thought they would in just three days. Mainly, I missed the departure of my tiny neighbor’s second and last brood of babies. I had a bad feeling I was going to miss it, and I did.

I took this picture the day we left. There were four babies, and there was simply no more room in that nest. I hate that I missed them go. Last time, I was able to witness it. Thankfully, I got this picture right near the end of things. I had read you have to be careful getting too close to the nest right when they are about to fly. You can scare them into trying too soon and cause problems.

I approached the nest so tentatively and pretty soon realized this little gang of wide-mouthed baby Eastern Phoebes was only going to watch me with mild interest–and I do mean mild. Yes, I am thankful for this photograph.

Interestingly, when we got home Ruby was out with the flock!

I could not believe this, but there she was, acting like a normal chicken. Kate, who has officially dumped her baby was also out with the flock, as was Bianca. Everyone was behaving so well and so orderly like. How could these be my chickens?

But it didn’t take long for the quirkiness to reappear. As I was out saying hello to my babies, who grew so much I almost cried when I saw them, I watched as, one by one, all of my quirky chickens flew over the fence and came my direction.

At first, Ron was like, “Well, you spoil those chickens too much.”

But, later, he said, “I’m sure there’s just a certain comfort level with mom being home. It can’t be easy on them to be cared for by a stranger.” I agree with this wholeheartedly. I am amazed at how differently my chickens behave when people they do not know come around.

Our little vacation was the first one we have taken since becoming homesteaders. There’s just too much work to leave to other people for very long, but we did it thanks to a fantastic farm sitter. I am so glad to be home, but I don’t want to wait so long before we do it again.

And I am hoping with all of my might that, tomorrow morning, I hear “fee-bee, fee-bee” outside of our bedroom window.

The Green Beans Are Ready

Day 78 of 365

Sometimes, on our little farm, we get overwhelmed. Today, we are overwhelmed with green beans. “Good problems to have,” we always say. Still, as I am trying to work on the annual, care for chickens, make dinners, parent, and grade papers and Ron is trying to care keep the garden alive morning, noon, and night while also parenting and cooking, it’s difficult to find time to process green beans.

Still, good problems to have.

I love green beans. Green beans are the first thing I ever grew in the garden, and I fell in love with them. They are magical. They are generous. So generous. I mean, you plant one tiny bean, Ron adds water and chicken poop compost and works his magic, and just like that one tiny bean seed turns into 20 or 30 or 40 green beans. How generous is this?

Ron is processing the green beans right now. He just had me come look at the beans drying on the table and the side tables. I think there is enough for our family for the whole winter from this one harvest. And the green beans, generous as they are, will produce at least two or three more harvests of this size. I hope our farm share customers like green beans! I am sure they do. I mean, they are green beans.

They are magical and generous.

I wrote a poem about green beans. It is the first and only poem I have ever written. Maybe, one of these years, I will share it. Maybe. But I feel the fact that the first and only poem I have ever written is about green beans speaks volumes about the respect I have for this fantastic plant.

***

Also, I have a quick Ruby update. Ruby has turned into the most difficult chicken I have ever seen, and I feel like there’s nothing we can do. When I put her in the coop, people pick on her. So I have to let her run around. Still, she has more and more and more just decided that she’s doing whatever she wants. This includes digging up the flower bed and using it for her dust bath and getting into the mama hens’ crates and trying to sleep there instead of roosting somewhere in the garage. Tonight, I had to drag her out of Juliet’s crate–TWICE! And each time, she screams at me like I have wronged her in a way that is beyond all wrongs. Oh, and when I come outside to check on people, she meets me at the door and demands treats about half the time–and by demand, I mean she screams at me.

I actually have a chicken who is a brat. I have no idea what we’re going to do about her, but she’s so cute and quirky that you just have to give in to her. Today, I was at the kitchen window, and I overheard this conversation:

Ron: Ruby, get out of there! This flower bed is not for you to destroy!

Ruby: loudly complains and argues with Ron

Ron: What are we going to do with you, little chicken?

Everybody Loves Watermelon–A Photo Essay

Day 72 of 365

It’s so hot. It’s hot everywhere. Last night, I saw the Tweet going viral that shows a map of the global temperature now compared to global temperature in June of 1976 when, apparently, there was another global heatwave. Truly, there was no comparison. The current map looked how it feels–like the world is on fire. Of course, below the maps, I read the arguments for and against climate change. People were arguing whether or not it’s real. People were arguing whether or not humans have played a role in it. Some people were arguing with NASA.

I mean sure. NASA scientists were able to take a telescope on its last run and use the gravity of Jupiter to sling shot the telescope around to reach Pluto. But I am sure NASA scientists have no idea what they’re talking about. The guy on Twitter knows all though. Sigh.

It’s so hot that I worry about our chickens and ducks, especially the older folks. Today, I did a grocery store pick up and bought a bunch of watermelon. These watermelon were not cheap. In fact, I cannot believe how much watermelon cost now, and since it’s so darn hot here, I am going to make the case for a watermelon patch in the garden next year. We tried to grow a watermelon about five or six years ago, and it almost made it. Ron said it needed to be just a little bit hotter here. Well, it’s hotter here now, and watermelons are like $7 each. I bought six today. I watched the kind young man loading the watermelons. He asked me if I wanted them in the back of the car in any certain way, and I told him to just roll them in there. I told him they were for the chickens. He laughed. I don’t know if he thought I was lying or just truly a strange chicken lady. I think the latter.

I swear, it was worth it. Everybody around here loves watermelon, and everyone was so thankful for it. I thought I would just tell the story of today’s watermelon feast in pictures. I hope the sweet chickens getting some sweet and juicy relief from the heat makes you smile.

There is so much anticipation when I am cutting up the watermelon. Rooster (our rooster) starts calling everyone. Ron came over to see why Rooster was carrying on. “It’s the watermelon,” I said.
Here, the big group is enjoying the watermelon. In this picture, you can see Rooster and his lovely tail, Saint Saens, and that’s Bertha in the front. You can also see the back of Mary Jane.
This is Mary Jane in all of her glory. Notice how she has a piece of watermelon all to herself? This is because everybody knows Mary Jane is epic. She is a miracle of a chicken. She is a pardoned meat bird (a freedom ranger) who was pardoned the day Tom Petty died in 2017. That’s why she’s named Mary Jane. She is now over five years old (I expected she might live two or three years). She LOVES watermelon the most!
The babies get some watermelon too, only they’re not really babies anymore. These are two from Ruby’s crew. Aren’t they gorgeous? They look like little muppets to me. We finally have names for the four girls from Ruby’s clutch. We named them after girls in Beatles’ songs–Eleanor, Prudence, Lil, and Molly. Right now, I do not know these four well enough to tell them apart, but I can see one is always dissatisfied at everything. I think she’ll be Lil.
Here, you can see another of Ruby’s crew along with my babies. That’s Piatigorsky in the center (the sweetest chicken in the history of the world), Rostropovich on the right front, Hector is the black hen on the right, and the little rooster in the back is Dvorak. He’s still very sweet so far. I hope he stays so. As an aside, Rostropovich seems to have learned her lesson and no longer runs from me at night. However, when I squat down and hold out my hands for her, she still attacks my hands before she jumps in. I have no idea exactly what this is about, but it seems like she resents needing my help.
And this is Kate and her miracle baby! I have named her Beatrice, and she’s very sweet. Kate has also turned out to be a better mama than I thought she might be originally. She has settled down a lot and does a really good job. I’m proud of her, and I am so thankful that little miracle chick made it. She’s a bit small for her age but not much. She’s mostly caught up.

Very Difficult Chickens

Day 70 of 365

I had planned to write about other things today–muffins, flowers, gifts, and amazing women. Instead, I feel compelled to tell you the story of difficult chickens.

Handling teenage chickens seems to be just as difficult as handling teenage humans. Sometimes, they’re babies. Sometimes, they’re all grown up. And, figuring out this in between can be challenging. When I went out tonight, in the rain, I might add, to put up my baby chickens and Ruby’s baby chickens, most of my babies were ready to go. Dvorak (the little rooster) and the girls–Piatigorsky, Faure, and Hector–were waiting for me and crying to go to bed. I have been trying to teach them to go to the crate, but they’re not having it. Thankfully, they are either very easy to catch or will literally just jump into my hands.

I have one more baby chicken though. Her name is Rostropovich, and she’s pretty difficult. Every single night, she makes me chase her down. I am too old to be diving into the dirt to catch a tiny chicken. Tonight, I decided we would not be playing that game. I kept squatting down and calling for her. She would come close and then take off.

“Fine,” I told her. And I went about the rest of my chores. She continued to cry and cry but continued to refuse my help. I went to the crate to double check Ruby’s babies and was pretty sure I saw just three chickens. There should have been four.

Suddenly, the events from this morning all made sense. This morning, Ron made it to the garage first and opened the doors. I came behind him shortly and started working toward moving the baby chickens out of the garage and into their fenced area for the day. But one chicken was missing. I asked Ron if he saw her fly out of the garage. He said he hadn’t, and I started to panic. I had not checked the crate super closely last night. Did I forget one of Ruby’s babies somehow?

I started searching our yard in a panic. I couldn’t find her anywhere. I couldn’t believe she would not have gone to the crate last night. She always did before, and I couldn’t imagine any other place she could have hidden from me. But after about five or ten minutes of searching, suddenly, she appeared. I concluded she must have flown out of the garage and Ron just missed it.

I realized tonight, she must be going somewhere else. I went and got the flashlight and started looking everywhere in the fenced area and saw nothing. Then, it occurred to me to start looking up. I shined the flashlight upward and found her way up high on top of the remnants of a wooden playground structure. This tiny bird was way up high, and I was not happy about having to climb up to get her in the rain. But, of course, that’s what I did.

When I made it up there, I gave her a good talk. She’s a creamy white chicken. “You know it’s a miracle an owl didn’t eat you last night?” She seemed uninterested. I scooped her up and managed to make my way down with just one arm to hang on and one arm for her. I put her into the crate and started, finally, wrapping up chicken chores for the night.

All this time, Rostropovich was still running around crying. It was quite dark and quite rainy at this point, I squatted down and called her to me. I held out my hands for her. She got really close to me, attacked my fingers, and then jumped into my arms.

I guess, when you’re a teenager, it’s hard to admit you need mom’s help.

Black Bear

Day 69 of 365

In a strange kind of way, I have a long history with bears. When I was a kid, my reoccurring nightmare was being mauled by a bear. I had it over and over and over. As a result, I am really scared of bears. Ridiculously so, I think. Over the years, we have had enough black bear visits around here that I am not quite so skittish as I used to be. Still, I have to tell you I am NEVER going camping in Yellowstone. Ron is from Montana and has done this, which makes no sense to me whatsoever.

photo credit: John Thomas, Unsplash

We have had bears visit our property several times. Once, it was in the middle of the afternoon. Boudica was a puppy and never even saw it, but Ron and I looked up one day while we were eating lunch on the deck, and there, inside the mobile chicken coop, was a young black bear. He was not eating the chickens, thankfully. He just had his big paws in the chicken food and was scooping it up and into his mouth as quickly as he could. Poor bear!

Ron chased him away, and we called the game warden, just to be safe. The game warden said it was the time of year when young bears were hungry and that, as soon as the berries came ripe, the bear probably wouldn’t be taking such chances.

A more recent bear visit was a visit we didn’t witness; we just saw the aftermath. We were going about our chores one morning when Ron discovered the fence was down. “Only a bear could take down that fence,” he said. Sure enough, as I walked around the chicken coop, I saw two giant muddy bear prints right next to the window in the chicken coop. It was like the bear was peeking in the window to see what was inside. That must have given the chickens quite the fright. Ron repaired the fence, and that was the last bear visit until now.

This afternoon, I got a message from the neighbor who lives directly behind us through the woods that they had a bear right in front of their house last night. It was like 10 feet from their front door. She asked me if we had seen it, but I had not. However, last night, very late, Boudica started acting like a wild dog. She was freaking out, and I didn’t want to let her out because, a couple of weeks ago, she was desperate to go outside and got sprayed by a skunk. Ron and Ronan say she still stinks a bit. I have no sense of smell, so she smells fine to me.

In hindsight, I should have let her out last night, as she is the best bear deterrent there is. I sure wish she still had Gus though. Those two together were the fiercest things I had ever seen. Tonight, however, I knew to let her out and do her barking work.

But when I went out tonight, I forgot.

I went out to play the duck game and put up the ducks and for some reason left Boudica inside. I took the flashlight because Ron said the two of the chickens at the back of our property, right near the woods, didn’t want to go up this evening. He said we needed to remember to close them up later, especially with a bear in the area.

So I got the ducks tucked in and took the flashlight out to close the door on the mobile chicken coop and make sure everyone was tucked in out there too. I decided to shine the flashlight into the woods to see if I could see anything.

I cannot tell you how many times I have shined the flashlight into those woods, half scared because of my imagination, never to see a single thing. Tonight, about thirty feet from me, there were eyes looking back.

I froze, and the goosebumps came. I realized it was the height of a bear and the eye shape made me think bear. They were shining a yellow-green. They were so still and there for so long that I started to second guess myself. Maybe it was a reflection of something, I thought. But then they moved. Then, they were gone.

I ran to the chicken coop door. One rooster was still sitting in the door way. I shoved him into the coop, told him it was for his own good, closed the door, and ran to get Boudica.

“Do your work, Boudica!” I said. And so she did. With gusto.

I came in and Googled pictures of bear eyes at night, and yes, that’s exactly what I saw. Tonight, I am extra, extra thankful for Boudica.