A Duck Egg & Half a Thousand

Weather: 36* & Sunny

1-10-2015_frozen-lake1When I wake up of a morning one of the first things I do is go to the bathroom, draw aside the curtain and look out over the woods at the lake.  This is the first time that it’s ever looked like there was ice on the lake.  Of course, in the past I was usually at work before the sun came up so I’m sure I’ve missed other times.  Not having a job is tough!  I did other things around the house, but by 10:00 or so I couldn’t ignore the chickens anymore and if I’ve got to get dressed for outside then I figured I might as well go take a closer look.  My end – the shallow end – was indeed frozen.  I’m glad I wore my Wellies, because I just had to go walk on it.

1-10-2015_LakeEggI walked over to the old plastic and styrofoam boat (that was buried under some leaves behind the cabin when we bought the place) and tried to push it into the cove, (It had floated over here during a storm and has become an unsightly, permanent fixture.) but it was frozen in place.  I did, however, discover something I’ve never seen before: a duck (?) egg in the lake.  My neighbor, Diane, has tons of ducks that she lets out every morning and calls every sunset to go inside an enclosure.  She said she started raising them to keep the algae on the lake down.  I took it with me when I went back up to the cabin, cleaned it off and broke it open.  It had a clear, but filmy area in the white and some tiny bubbles!  So…  I didn’t eat it, but I did fry it up and serve it to my chickens along with an old apple that I cut up for them.

Walking out on this end of the lake I was privy to millions of duck prints in what was formerly mud.  They like coming into “my” cove because it’s shallow and I suppose they feed on the teeny tiny minnows and bugs.  The cove is FULL of leaves and I would love to have it dug out – made deeper – and have a sandy shore, but that’s not likely to ever happen.  Being surrounded by wooded hills on all sides, the leaves are never likely to quit blowing into the lake.  There were some other prints that were noticeable out there too. 1-10-2015_raccoons4 Muddy raccoon prints across an otherwise clear sheet of ice.  There were at least 3 distinct sets (unless Mrs. Raccoon walked over to the bank, circled back around on dry land and repeated herself).  See all those leaves?!

I snapped a picture of the cabin from this view.  1-10-2015_from-the-lakeYou can see my ugly (but very useful) carnival stairs that I need to finish painting.  Originally they were all yellow.  Now most of the sides and rails are a dark brown.

The large patch of vines and brush over on the right beside the boat has always been an eye-sore and something I’ve not looked forward to tackling.

Back up to the house.  Went and took the tarp off of the hoop garden, picked some dandelions for the chickens that STILL had not frozen and got the mail.  Remembered that my water and utility bills are due today and as I needed coffee I decided to change and go get some before I paid it.  Eight miles to town and I discover that I left my wallet after six of them!  I passed 4 HUGE combines on the way and wondered what in the world they could be up to.  On my way back – after retrieving my wallet – I discovered they were harvesting soybeans.  In January, with temps in the 30s!

I watched a few YouTube videos, tried to do some writing, cleaning, anything but listen to my male cat whine about wanting out no matter how cold it was.  He’s got cabin fever as much as I do, I guess.  Out he went, and after changing yet again so did I.  My little Mexican was aching to go to, but we left the Japanese princess inside as she’s not prone to listening.

1-10-2015_working-area_beginI decided to head down the slope the way I had come this morning and cut down some of those tiny trees that I had neglected this past year and the new ones that had popped up.  I cut a few down on the way along with a few low-hanging branches, but this fallen log was my real starting point.  I had intended to zig-zag down the slope staying in this general area, but I think I wandered as much as my chihuahua!  Over to the spring’s trail down to the lake on the left.  There was a line of small trees on either side that looked like they had been planted there by design.  I cut down the ones that were messing with Nature’s aesthetic, but by now the jacket had come off and I had to keep an eye on Nitro so he wouldn’t hike on it while I was distracted! Wandered far over to the right and cut down some big vines.  Closer and closer to that dreaded spot of tangles on the peninsula…

I didn’t start counting my clips until I came to the log, but when I hit a 99 I couldn’t remember if it was 299 or 399, and after I got to the tangle and started clipping vines I lost track again.  All in all, I cut down 430 (or 530)+ budding young trees today! 1-10-2015_twigs Who would have imagined?!?  The area in this photo STILL has to be cut down, but it gives you an idea of what I was facing.  I did not get the peninsula cleared – not even close – but I did make a huge dent in it.  My loppers seized up on me like they did a few days ago before it turned frigid.  And I must confess, I was getting a little claustrophobic.  I don’t have TRUE claustrophobia – MRI machines or closets don’t scare me, but put a too-tight shirt over my head or let me get tangled up in these vines and I temporarily freak out!

1-10-2015_ducksThe ducks that had been laughing at me from a distance, finally came closer.  I guess they could tell that I was kaput and no longer a threat.  Or maybe they just wanted to say “goodbye Crazy!”

1-10-2015_birdI stepped across the frozen area of the lake again to survey my work and spotted the two little birds who had been singing to me all afternoon, right above the tangleweed area.  I have no idea what kind they are and they were probably grateful that my presence had kept the ever-present hawk at bay.

1-10-2015_LakeBrushBHiking back up to the cabin, I’m surprised that it’s so warm.  I’m wearing sweat pants and a short-sleeved t-shirt!  (or is it just middle-aged me? 😉 )

It’s after 4pm and I haven’t had any lunch.  Oh well, maybe I’ll do some more tomorrow…

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Nature’s Velcro

Weather:  45* & Sunny

1-6-15_pile1There’s supposed to be a brutal cold front coming in tonight, so I decided in spite of a bum right knee and left wrist that I would try and get some more of the vines and scrub brush cut down.  After looking everywhere, I finally found my knee brace, bundled up and headed out.

After pulling down only one pile of junk off came the jacket, then shortly thereafter the hat.1-6-15_me2  I was tugging quite hard at some honeysuckle vines when I managed to pull down a tree! (It was old and rotten, but it created more work than I was prepared for.  Another tug and down came another smaller tree.)

1-6-15_ravine1As I was dragging my piles to the ravine – which is filling up fast – I remembered my idea as I was laying in bed last night.  Perhaps I’m chasing my own tail by throwing my refuse in the ravine.  At the time it seemed like a good idea – to fill it up, but last night the idea of a root cellar was on my mind and what easier way to build a root cellar than in a ravine that is already “dug out”!?  I’m wondering if any of our ancestors made use of such a situation…

10885416_10205704991443106_1187893391937180403_nI quickly got hotter than I could stand and thinking to quit for the day, headed back up to the cabin where I shed my fleece top.  Now I only had on my long johns, yoga pants and a short sleeve shirt.  The chickens were angry that they had not been fed yet, so I took care of that and while I was there decided to clip just a few small trees near the coop.  That led to a few more a bit further down the slope until I had cut down probably 20!  The spring bed had water in it and I just knew that I was going to get muddy if I tried crossing it, but it was so warm out…  I trimmed more small trees and vines along the spring bed and then on out to the lake where I pulled up an adirondack chair and clipped the brush along the bank.  I then moved over to cut out some of the bamboo across from where the spring empties into the lake, but my loppers seized up and I was done!

1-6-15_stickersClimbing the hill back up to the cabin was tough, let me tell you.  I did manage to pick up a few cut branches along the way to add to my burn pile.

I let the the dogs out while I sat on the porch swing and picked stickers out of my hair.  They were all over my pants and shirt. My 8 yr old chihuahua, Nitro, came over and tried to help me.  1-6-15_Nitro2

1-6-15_stickers2I don’t remember what plant has these, but they are such a nuisance.  They came out of my hair easy enough and after I took a long hot bubble bath I felt another one slip out easily, 1-6-15_stickers3so that gave me the idea of soaking my pants.  If these little natural velcro stickers get wet they lose most of their cling and made pulling them off much easier.  (Well, I’ve got one pant’s leg done. 😉 )

I drove to town for some sugar and cat litter.  I suppose Jerry will get to sleep inside tonight.  Tom had breakfast and took off doing what he does best – tomcatting around – so it’s doubtful he’ll show up tonight.  I’ll probably have to shut my window tonight, but right now I better get up in the loft and get my bed cleaned off.  I piled everything on it this morning looking for that knee brace!  Hunnie Baer out.

More De-Vining

Weather: 41* & Rainy

Stayed up late again, although not because it was New Year’s.  I’ve got to learn to quit taking my tablet up in the loft.  I always think of something else that I could look up!  So, of course, I slept late.  It was supposed to rain, so I took a bath and ate some breakfast thinking I wouldn’t get anything accomplished outside for the next few days.  It hadn’t started raining yet, so I decided to go on and get done what I could.

10801860_10205701819003797_6751706453839948818_nBoy those vines are something else.  I suppose neither of the former homeowners ever tackled the job as there are just so many of them!  I wasn’t sure I wanted to keep the indigenous bamboo, but it’s “growing” on me.  😉  So trying to take out the vines, while leaving the bamboo just makes things harder.  I’d also like to kill off the vines permanently without harming the bamboo, but I have no idea how to accomplish that.10308724_10205701797643263_2341123905413422038_n

It doesn’t look like I got much done, but something is better than nothing.

The rain started at a drizzle, but I plowed on for a bit, until it became uncomfortable and I had to go to the cabin to take off my wet clothes.  Pneumonia isn’t something I ever want to experience again.

10898236_10205704654394680_7320714581423921971_nIt’s hard to tell from the photo on the left, but I *did* manage to cut down & pile up quite a bit!  I’m using loppers and it seems like there should/could be a better tool for this, but I don’t know what.  I’ll have to cut them down even further to burn in the fire pit (unless I decide to have a bonfire on the gravel drive… 😉 )

10898328_10205704982082872_1463111839207376258_nI took another hot bath and had no sooner put on my fleecy pants when I looked out the loft bathroom at the lake.  The ducks had been laughing at me the whole time I was working (even though they couldn’t see me or me them), but now they were no where to be seen.  So, of course, I had to walk down there and get a “gander” at them…  Stuffed my fleecy pj pants into my Isotoner moccasins and walked down the hill.  They saw me coming and got off the lake and went to their enclosure at Diane’s.  Looks like she’s added Mallards!  Now my Isotoners are soaked too and will have to wait out the day by the heater.

10897080_10205704997683262_8993818699409190669_n

The “beach” has certainly grown up this past summer under my neglect, the boat is full of water and the beach chairs need cleaning.  There was a long-poled fishing net that I’ve never seen before lying near the boat.  Perhaps my son brought it down (along with two disposable drink cups he left on the beach!)…  😦

10885416_10205704991443106_1187893391937180403_n


10420342_10205704975282702_5541070234828845224_nThe view from the hwy to the lake is getting better, 10881568_10205705007323503_1853631468794433856_nbut the view from the lake up towards the cabin still needs some thinning.

I’ve had my blackeyed peas for the day.  I think superstitions are stupid, but any reason to have blackeyed peas is good! 😉  Have you had yours’?

Can’t Sit Around Forever…

Weather:  38° & Sunny ☼

I sat around all day yesterday.  It was sunny but cold and I got bogged down into starting this blog, looking at examples, trying to figure out how I wanted it to look, (reading other people’s blogs…  like this: Depression Era Homemade Bread & then watching YouTube videos of this woman: Depression Era Cooking with Clara) until it was evening and I realized I had done almost nothing ALL DAY.  Oh I dried out some banana peels in the oven and ground them up for my garden.  Along with spreading out some coffee grounds and egg shells to dry.

So today, I decided I better get my butt in gear.  It’s still cold – 34* – when I woke up.  The water in the chicken run was frozen, but the water in the coop was fine.  I had an apple and fed the peel along with an over-ripe banana to the chickens.  Started 2 eggs to boil and went up to the loft to get dressed to work outside.  By the time I came down I had forgotten about the eggs and was about to walk outside when I heard the water gurgling.  Except now I had on long johns, yoga pants, wool socks & boots plus a fleece top, buffalo jacket and crocheted hat!  I wasn’t about to stay inside and peel those eggs.

10891649_10205688764037431_5085008462981175401_nI’ve been working on clearing an area up near the road next to the driveway.  I have mixed feelings about it because on the one hand it’s unsightly (and was scary walking past when I first moved to the woods/country), but on the other hand having it cleared will allow a clearer view of my cabin from the road.  😦  Eventually I want to add something along the boundary to re-block that view but I’m still debating on what.  Evergreen trees or bamboo would be nice, but I’m afraid of the bamboo spreading out of control.  I would really like to add berry bushes and/or fruit trees, but I’m not sure which/what type yet and I’m a little worried about the County cutting or spraying the roadside area up to the power lines…

With an area chosen, I got to work.  It didn’t take long for the jacket to come off.  Next was the crochet hat (which is a dumb choice when working around sticker vines).  I was really tempted to take off the yoga pants and just work in my long handles, but the occasional vehicle out on the hwy put me off.  😉

The birds started showing up.  I guess they were hopeful that me moving all the deadfall and leaves would reveal something good.  A couple of little wrens were flitting around in the ravine where I was dragging all of my vines and branches.  A male cardinal stopped by.  Perhaps he was interested in the old worm container that I found.  I’m always amazed at what I discover out there under the leaves!  Today, along with the worm container I found a soda can, a 2 liter coke bottle and a couple of huge pieces of concrete.  How or why they are there is an absolute mystery?!

wpid-20141231_124151.jpgOne of my male cats – Tom, the Wanderer – was standing on his hind legs stretching toward the door latch when I opened the door this morning.  He’s been gone for 2 days (which is typical for him) and was skinny and starving.  His brother – Jerry, the Sweetie – was nowhere to be found.  He rarely goes far and as I write this he has shown up, eaten and gone to the sunroom to sleep in the warmth.  His brother, meanwhile is outside curled up on the wicker settee under the heat lamp.  He is so skittish that he has a hard time coming inside and just resting.  Both of them were found in the woods near my house in the city when they were über little.

10885382_10205688774597695_4435927021834368966_n Garbage-areaWell, two hours later and I’m done for a bit.  My left arm hurts.  I’m stinky and tired and hungry.  I definitely earned my morning bath.  Oh yeah, and breakfast!  I’m tempted to take my eggs to the bath, but it’s hot in here (why don’t I ever remember to turn off the heat before I go outside?) and only slightly warmer outside (37*) than when I began, but I just want these clothes off!  Outside I go to take my boots off on the porch.  The shirt came first and sitting here on the front porch steps I realize I really hate it that my progress makes me visible to the road.  😦

P.S.  My daughter and two friends just showed up from the city.  She’s on Christmas break and needed something from her room.  Her first words as she peeks in the front door is “Mom, do you have clothes on?!”  Gotta love #CountryLiving!  😀