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.

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?

Redemption

Day 74 of 365

I have to follow my rule of writing every day, but to those of you who have come to know me through this blog, I need to ask a favor. I have to keep these posts short the next three days because I have to complete the next Farmer-ish print annual by Monday. If I start going on and on about something and you happen to read it, please leave a comment and tell me to get to work on that print annual.

So I will be very brief tonight and then get to work on the print annual at least a little bit more tonight. It’s pretty close and so pretty. I can’t even begin to tell you how good the pieces are. I wish I could write as well as so many people in this book!

Today, I took a picture of my tiny neighbors’ babies, and it shows more than balls of fluff! I took the picture, burned my feet on our wicked hot deck in the process, and then showed Ron my picture.

“Who’s the best wildlife photographer in the world now?” I asked him.

I definitely got some side eye.

But he also had to smile. He loves me extra today. He is overwhelmed with work outside and asked me if I would be able to put up some broccoli and cauliflower in an emergency. It was going bad in the heat. I had to make three batches of raspberry jam from the berries we got yesterday, so I had a bit on my plate too; still, I agreed, but then the broccoli and cauliflower kept coming and coming. This picture was early on in the game.

He kept thanking me and thanking me. It’s hard to keep the garden alive in this heat, and it’s a full-time job for him right now. I am thankful for him right back.

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.

Free to Good Home

Day 68 of 365

About 8 and 1/2 years ago, we got our son an aquarium and some fish for his room. He loved nature documentaries when he was little and just loved fish and ocean programs especially. When we went to the local pet shop chain, we met a fish expert who really was a fish expert. Most of the people we encountered in the chain pet shops were not. While we were looking for a light for the aquarium, I asked him about getting one with the blue light to leave on at night.

“Why do you want to leave a light on the fish at night?” he asked me.

“Well, I wanted it to be a night light for our son,” I said. It was true. We were getting the aquarium, in part, with hopes that it would help our son sleep in his own bed at night. He had a long history of real night terrors and couldn’t sleep alone very well. He had really big trouble waking up from nightmares. He would be stuck in limbo for such a long time that it was scary. He used to speak in what I thought might be another language. I had never seen anything like it. So, in an effort to make him feel safer at night, I was willing to try anything. Maybe fish could help comfort him. I didn’t know that it was bad to keep a light on for fish all night, that they need dark to sleep too.

“Well, whatever is good for your kid. Who cares about what’s good for the fish,” he said with a tone that shamed me to my core.

It made me realize that he was right, that we were buying these fish without nearly enough education about what fish need to thrive. I had no idea how intelligent they are, especially certain types of fish, like angelfish. We bought two angelfish the size of quarters and an array of other fish that would be compatible with the angels. Eight and 1/2 years later, our angelfish died. During that 8 and 1/2 years, I learned a lot about fish. I mainly learned that they need and deserve a lot of good care. I learned I never wanted to have fish again. It’s a lot of work to do it well. It’s very time consuming.

I loved my angelfish. They grew to be the size of my hand. The first one passed away at about 5 years old, but the second girl, named Michael, made it to 8 and 1/2. I mourned that fish for sure, but I knew I was done with the fish game. I had just one other fish left in the tank, a lone Khuli loach–and Khuli loaches should not be alone.

I took myself back to the pet shop chain, hoping against hope, that the fish expert who so rightly shamed me would still be there. By some miracle, he was. Much like mine, his hair was much grayer than the last time I had seen him, but I knew this was the guy. He didn’t remember me, of course, but I told him the story and asked for his advice.

He told me he was impressed I had an angel make it to 8 and 1/2 . “Are you sure you don’t want to start a new tank?” he asked. I told him no, that we have a farm and a busy kiddo and that I couldn’t give fish the attention they deserved.

“I respect that,” he said. And, then, he said he would adopt my Khuli loach! I was so happy. Over the years, I had come to greatly appreciate those little fish, and I wanted this last little loach to have a good home. It was going to the best home! He told me to bring it in the next day and that he would take it.

When I took that little fish to the pet shop the next day, I didn’t see my guy at first. I started to worry. I waited for a bit, and finally, he came out from the back. I guess he was on break, but he saw me and came straight to me. He had a line of people, but he came and took the fish right away. He looked me in the eye and said, “I will give it a good home.” I nodded my head in a slow, deep thanks and told him I was so grateful. He nodded back and was off to help the next people.

When I got home, Ron said, “You did right by that little fish.”

Today, I did right by three little roosters, and I am even more grateful. We had four roosters in our summer round of baby chicks. We were very fortunate. Out of 12 babies, we had 8 girls and 4 boys. We are keeping one boy, named Dvorak by my son. For the rest, I really wanted to find good homes for them because they seem to be very good roosters so far.

And a good rooster is hard to find.

This is one of Ruby’s babies. He’s a very pretty boy and went to a good home today. I hope he’s doing well. The first day is always tough.

So I told their story on Facebook. They are of a great breed that is docile, so I knew, surely, someone would want them, at least some of them. It’s very hard to find homes for roosters. This is Maine. Everyone has chickens, and everyone who hatches chicks has too many roosters. In the early fall, you can drive down the road and see signs “free roosters.”

I have a rule for the roosters I raise. If they seem to be bad roosters, we keep them and make soup out of them when they are older. If they seem to be good roosters, I do everything in my power to find them a good home.

Today, I got really lucky. I delivered roosters to some really kind people. The little super sweet boy went to a woman who lives on the coast and was wonderfully kind. She asked about paying for him, and I said he was free to a good home. So she brought a gift instead–seaweed for the garden. Yeah, she was awesome!

She later messaged me and said she was going to skip a meeting she had today and just watch the “cute little dude.” He was staying in a crate in her house for a few weeks while he was in quarantine. This made my heart so happy. When I caught him today for his trip, he was very upset and cried and cried, but when I snuggled him, he leaned in and just put his little head on my shoulder. He’s that sweet. I am so glad he went to such a fantastic home. I think he hit the rooster jackpot, and I over the moon for him.

Two roosters went to another woman, who also seemed just awesome. “Oh, I’m the chicken lady,” she said. I thought this was excellent. My people for sure. She told me she has four different coops, and the chickens can choose which one to sleep in at night, based on who they want to be with. So the chickens get to choose their people! This is the best and so wonderful for chickens. I have thought many times about how my animals who don’t like each other get stuck living with people they don’t like. I feel so sorry for them and try to help make the best of it. Lots of space helps, but truly, having four coops is the best. Ron told me not to get any ideas.

So it was a good day for roosters and a good week for me for finding good homes for some deserving animals. My work here is done…until tomorrow, of course, when I have to teach my babies and the rest of Ruby’s babies how to get along and live together. They are pretty young. This should go fairly well. I mean, I hope so.

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.