Saturday, January 1, 2011

The Year in Review

Tonight we end 2010.  It's hard to believe that an entire decade has passed since the Millenium, and everyone believed computers would stop, and the World Would Come to an End!  I worked part time managing a theater then, and the boutique there sold "2000" pins spelled out in rhinestones; I still have mine and remember with a laugh all the dire predictions.  Now ten years has flown by as if on the wind.
Keith and I spent it at home, quietly, he practicing his putting in the shop, and me watching tv with the pugs.  It was quiet and nice, but very, very cold out after a day that literally reached 65 degrees yesterday here in Leavenworth County.

So I sit here at the computer late, at 10:30, thinking about what has happened here at Calamity Acres this year, and all the changes we have made, and the changes still to come.  Everyone stops to assess their lives at the end of the year, some make resolutions... Keith and I have made none, other than to make a list of things we want to accomplish here in the next few years. 
Beau, up on the porch where he drank from the dog fortex.  Lilly had enough sense to stay on level ground!

Our house is humble, and needs many repairs.  We have focused on the external things, building the shed, originally for the horses and now used by the llamas.  We converted an outbuilding used as a nursery for the children of those who picked strawberries here into our main chicken house, and Keith built a second, the little henhouse.  We have decided that the coming year will focus on doing more of the things that we need in the house.... pulling up carpet and putting down tile.... and an eventual remodel.  Keith built a beautiful deck last year on the south side, and has a side deck about half finished.  That is a project that will be finished next year, and an access door at the kitchen end and the bedroom end of the house to it.  While we won't use it as much as the other (it is on the road side of the house) it will be decorated for the seasons and the house will be enhanced by it.  Eventually we'll put flowerbeds at it's base. 

The gate project is almost finished.... we still have to take down the outer (old) red gate, to be re-used for a future project.  Some strengthening of the corner posts will be done, and that project will be finished.  It's a pleasure to be able to pull off the road and get out of the car and not to have to worry about the rear end of the car being hit. 

We planted fruit trees... two pear and two apple.  We hope to plant more next year.  We had our big garden tilled and we planted it, and though it overgrew with weeds, we harvested a bounty from it.  We planted a new flowerbed using the lasagna method and it prospered greatly, so we are planning on several more, and have started them already.  Eventually the vegetable bed will be planted with the same method, and will be a no-till bed.  We are collecting leaves and chicken house cleanings, etc.  and will make manure tea with the llama poop for the new garden beds. 
In August we went to Powell Gardens for our birthdays, and got lots of new ideas for the gardens.

We had 40+ chickens born here this year.  The little hens went broody constantly, and despite my giving away over 20 birds, we still have 17 in the little henhouse.
Gray pullet at center dead ringer for her mama, Rosewitha! 

We started the year with four llamas, a pony, a mini mare, four geese and four ducks, along with 40 some chickens, 4 dogs and one cat.   We sadly lost Nickie, my cat from the first Calamity Acres, on December 19 last year.  During the terrible winter of 09-10, and despite the bad weather for three weeks in December and January, and the continuing snow and bad cold until March, we did not lose another animal except a dear hen that went missing, Rosie.  Keith literally stopped at home for weeks at midday to make sure the ducks and geese had warm water to keep clean in.  We carried buckets at 5:30 in the morning, and as soon as we got home in the evening to keep all the animals alive.  We kept the horses in the yard, and made a makeshift stable for them in the old one-car garage used for garden storage, 100 feet from the house.  The llamas took over the horsebarn.  We had a heated trough in the pasture and one near the "horse stable".  We had heaters in the henhouses for the waterers, but still had to burn heat lights to keep the hens warm. 

We managed to keep our 30+ year old pony, Beau, going over the winter, only to see him rapidly go downhill in spring.  Our vet visited several times, and told us that the winter had been hard on all the old horses she saw.  After dental care and numerous vet visits and trying different feeds, we realized Uncle Beau was no longer eating, and made the hard decision to let him cross the Rainbow Bridge in June.  His companion, the gentle and sweet Lilly Horse, went back to our friend Joani, who had kindly let us borrow her after Beau lost his companion little Lacey. 

Beau, the last week, with Lilly

Mama Llama went back to Joani as well.... and we kept her last two sons, Tony and the beautiful red cria Yankee.  When we sent them to be gelded, we lost little Yankee, leaving us Tony and Inca, the pretty girl with the banana ears I had bought the fall before.  On November 2nd, Inca presented us with a sweet new cria, Aztec. 

In March, very suddenly, we lost our beloved pug Addie Mae.  This devastated us, as it was so sudden and unexpected.  The hole left in our hearts was filled by Abby, who was adopted from the same rescue that gave us our dear little blind Hannah.  Abby has become the quintessential farm dog, and follows me everywhere.  ABBY is on a diet now for the new year, and we are resolved to get some weight off her so she will be around a long, long time to help us herd the chickens.

Sweet Addie Mae

In September we lost Gwen, the Queen of the House.  Always small, we had adopted her from a rescue during our year and a half in Illinois, as Keith finished his Army career.  She had been abandoned with 19 other cats in a trailer.  She was an affectionate little cat, and we miss her terribly. 

In late September I found Josie the Beautiful under a car at church in the parking lot.  Feral, or abandoned, she screamed in fear as the car was started, and luckily a man at church was able to pin her down.  A squalling, sprawling bag of bones, she mewed silently, as feral kittens are trained to do by their mamas.  After three days of looking for a home for her... we realized we loved the little baby and decided to keep her.  She has turned into a wonderful little cat. 

In early October on the Kaw Valley Farm Tour, I saw a litter of kittens at a farm down the road, and we adopted one.... Jenny.  Jenny has been sick since we brought her home, and though she is the most loving little kitten, the purr machine, it is still touch and go with her.  She is on her fourth course of penicillin, and now Josie is sneezing, so we are still trying, but the jury is out on her health.  She has had a hard week this week, and even today is not feeling well at all.  Our good vet Dr. Tom thinks she can outgrow the infection... and we are going to give her a fighting chance. 

In August I re-homed my ducks and geese, reluctantly.  I realized that until we have a proper pond and a 12 month pump in the pasture, it is not practical to have waterfowl.  Once these have been accomplished (and I am a little closer to retirement) we will do it again.  We have had call ducks several times, and I enjoy having the little ones around.... but this time we want a proper place for them. 

I re-homed eight of my big layers, but regretted it soon after, and in retrospect, am planning on replacing them.  We lost a duck and three or four chickens, several mysteriously, and had to put down several due to infections.  The rest of the flocks are clean, though, and for that we are grateful. 

We had a snake take five purebred babies in September, but the three survivors grow tall and strong, living with Butch the Rooster in the feed room of the big henhouse.  In the spring, they will go out to an outside pen and their own little henhouse for the summer.  (shhh.... don't tell Keith). 

In July, a microburst or small tornado took down a hundred year old maple tree in our yard, and two of the local television stations did their six and ten PM broadcasts from our yard and deck, so we had our fifteen minutes of fame, and the bulk of the stump still lays in the yard, waiting to be cut up.  We have an even older walnut tree that must come down in the coming year, as it has quit producing walnuts and is beginning it's slow death.  It is a majestic tree, but threatens the workshop and garden shed, and we will have to remove it.  We are hoping someone can use the many board feet of wood it can provide. 
Electric crew at work repairing line damage from fallen tree....century walnut in the right background, towering over the workshop.

In December, my beloved sister Kathleen was told her cancer was in remission, and chemo will stop, delighting us all.
In December we also adopted yet another pug, Gertie, who had been passed from home to home.  She has turned out to be the most loving of little dogs, bonded with Abby immediately, and was accepted into the animal and human family readily.

Keith and I are still blessed to have jobs to go to each day, that pay decently and allow us to help our children and grandchildren, and improve our place, and we try to help as many as we can with the blessings that God has given us so generously. 

I am lucky to have a husband who loves this place as much or more than I... who lets me have the animals I love.... who loves me unquestioningly... who loves to work on and improve our property.... who "digs" gardening as much as I.... who threw himself into learning how to can and how to bake bread, and how to make pickles...and who has amazing ideas on how to improve this place and our lives so we can spend our golden years as we want.

Keith's Beer batter herb bread

Next year we will put in a real pond, instead of the scooped out hole that has dried up.... and a pump and waterer to the pasture, so bucket carrying will not be so time-consuming.  We will begin planning a bigger shed, towards getting 3 goats when I retire.  We will continue improvements to the garden, and plan a larger henhouse, so that we can raise production in two years for donations. We will continue to learn more about preserving the bounty of the garden, and hopefully get a deydrator and pressure canner.  (yikes).
We will continue with the help of Abby...

Hannah, who even now is at my feet...
The Beauteous Lilly, Mighty Hunter of Moles and Mice
and the ever vigilant Ranger, guardian of all of Calamity Acres 
And on a final note, I want to comment about my blog this year... it is a wonderful outlet for me to talk about the things I love... not just this beautiful piece of paradise that we call home, but all the historical places I've seen this year, the fantastic homes, the antiques, the friendly shopkeepers, the schoolhouses, the goat dairies, and all the other things that are part of my life.  I love so much to read what others are doing on their own places... and while I love the wonderful photography and the gorgeous tablescapes and fancy houses I see and read about, I enjoy most the simple and regular pleasures that others like me are experiencing, both near (Wyandotte County) and far.... across the seas in Moldava, or in the Ozarks, Wyoming, or in West Virginia, or Vermont, or Washington State. I don't know you all personally, but I feel akin to you and love to read the stories of your lives... because really, we are all sisters under the skin.  Thank you all for twelve months of sincere pleasure, and I hope we all have a blessed 2011!



  1. Hello there! Thank you for stopping by my blog, and leaving a Comment. Comments rock. We meet new bloggers, because of the Comments left! :-)

    You are one busy lady! Good for you! You are doing what you enjoy and happily living life.

    And you didn't like "Up In The Air" dvd... :-) We each enjoy different films, I think. I didn't buy-into his life style, and was surprised by the plot twist at the end. But, I still enjoyed it. Like I said, to each his/her own.

    Gentle New Years hugs...

  2. I enjoyed this trip through 2010 with you, Mary Ann... isn't it funny how when we lose some of our beloved critters, somehow new ones "find" us and even though they will never take the place of the ones who are gone, it's almost as if you learn you can love all over again!! I look forward to follwing along in your journey in 2011!!

  3. Mary Ann, hello! I wanted to drop by and thank you for your kind comment on my blog. I was very interested in your year in review. So much has gone on in your lives, especially in regards to your animals. Such a handsome llama too!

  4. Love reading about your family and animals. You wrote quite a story. Glad you found a soulmate. Love, Mary G.

  5. Hi Mary Ann!! Thanks for visiting our blog!! If you check the blogs we follow, you will find a bunch of pug blogs if you are interested.

    Pugs & Kisses,

    Yoda, Brutus & Ellie

  6. Sad and happy. But that is life.


I love comments!