Sunday, March 27, 2022

Back to the Land of the Living

 Friends, the day after my last post, I went down as sick as I have been in these last ten years. 

It began with cold symptoms, and even though my son and daughter in law had just had one, I had not been around them to be infected.  I had stupidly gone two days without wearing a mask... yes, I'm one of those people... once in the small town where my two oldest grandsons live... and once here, at home, in Walmart, of all places.  

I paid for it.  

The cold symptoms segued quickly into flu symptoms, and I was so weak I spent the larger part of every day in the recliner, with a cat in my lap and a blanket around me.  My youngest son did the necessary errands we needed done, thank heavens.  He also ate frozen food for almost two weeks. I finally ran a fever two days, and called up to the post at Fort Leavenworth and arranged for a drive thru covid test.... negative.  I could not believe it when I was sick a second weekend, still weak and tired.  I managed to do chores every single day, but sometimes, I don't know how I did it.  The first week was beautiful weather, and my grandson was off school ... we had planned to do lots around here, with me paying him for his help so he could earn some money.  The second week was miserable, with rain for four days and cold weather.  

I did finally go to a walk in clinic, and was tested there for flu...negative.  The only thing is by then I was dehydrated, and was told to go to the ER if I could not get fluids down.  I have been drinking Pedialyte. 

But... Wednesday, I was able to get my favorite food down... On the Hook cod, from the fish truck.

I gave most of the fries to my son.  Here, let me say I am NOT  a seafood lover.... but 
I LOVE On the Hook.  That was the first time they had been in Tonganoxie since last fall, and I was able to eat my fish and more importantly, keep it in me.  

Two days later, they were twenty five miles away in Shawnee, and I was feeling better, and drove over for Round Two.  That was the second meal of the week to stay with me.  I felt better after getting something in me. 

On the Hook is based in Colorado, and travels with its' trucks through about seven states, if you ever see them.... pull over!  They sell only fish and chips, but trust me when I tell you it's worth it... they have the best "tartar" sauce I have ever tasted. 

So, now that I am back in the Land of the Living, I am far behind with farm chores. 
Here is one: 

A week ago, my oldest son Jim came out and put holes in that old trough on the sides and bottom for me, and the feed tubs that had been stored in my old garage.  He made drain holes in them, too. 

The plastic planters were there last year.  I am going to dump several of them, they have 
weeds in them and I cannot get a shovel into them... but... for the most part, they just need filling. 
You might remember I had in-ground raised beds, that I had my helper Ben remove two years ago. 
They were always hard to keep weed-free and full.  Keith also did not build them with enough space for the mower in between them, so that was a problem.  

Peppers and small tomatoes are going in these deeper planters. 

Grandson Jax loaded me up. 

I need two bags of manure and two or three more bags of planting medium.  

Here are the last two of the raised beds: 

I covered most of them with black plastic in the fall, weighed down by bags of dirt, 
which I'll add to them.  I am uncovering this week. 

I would like to take what iris I have left and consolidate them all in 
one of these beds.  (I'll take closer pictures this week). 

In the middle ground of the top picture, you can see the feeding platform that 
Keith built so many years ago, and I have something to say about it. 

I am almost at the point where I cannot afford to feed the wild birds. 
I can't believe I am saying it. 

The forty pound sacks of the best blend, Back Yard Blend, have gone to 33.95 a bag.  I am NOT blaming the wonderful owners of my feed store, it is just a fact of life.  Unfortunately, 
I used to buy FOUR bags a week (when it was 18.95 a bag).  I can't do that now, I can hardly justify two with trying to keep up everything else.  So... I am pricing cheaper mixes.  There is waste with the BYB, and I know there will be waste with the cheaper mix... what I thought of doing is mixing a bag of black oil sunflower with the mix.  I am down to one small hanging feeder, and I love watching the birds on it, but it is the most wasteful way of feeding I know... the seed regularly spills all over the ground.  My other feeder is the platform Ben built for me, that I use for finch feeding. (though I just watched a gang of starlings descend on it!!)  In one week, at the end of March, the hanging feeder is coming down for good.  
It's like the end of an era here. 

This morning's dawn.  I get up early, feed Molly and Bullseye, and 
then put dry food out on the deck for Wanda and Coco.  
I ran back in and grabbed the camera. 

Wanda, the Kitten who Wanted to Kill me last summer, and Coco wait every morning now for me to come out the door with the bucket with the canned food in it.  

The beautiful Cleo was out there this morning, too, 
but not Teeny, the little cat who was neutered three weeks ago. 

Cleo lived in the Wild Area all last summer.... but this winter 
has been living in the barn daily.  She is glad to see me in the morning, because I pick the dry food up at night. 

This coming weekend, the things stored in my barn by my oldest son will all be removed, and I'll get in there and clean it out.  My hopes are that I can put two or three cat trees in there, and... get the wood burning stove fixed so we can use it next year. 

I carried the camera along with me when I opened the pophole this morning. 

I have been getting enough eggs from the girls I have left to have given away ten dozen this last week. 

I have three Silkies I keep in a brooder pen in the big hen house.  
Brutus, the rooster, was hatched last summer. 
Martha and Mary were given to me a year ago. 

Every day I carry them down to their pen in the enclosed big hen yard, so they can get fresh air and peck around.  Three times in the last two weeks, I was so sick and distracted, I forgot to put them out.  It made me feel so badly.  

I wish I could afford another small hen house, but .... things are different now with inflation the way it is. 

For now, we will go back and forth.  I can't put them in with the other two silkie roosters. 

My beautiful Zoey, on her big bed where she spent so many hours in January and February, when I use the electric heater for some supplemental heat in the kitchen-living room.  It is on this morning, 
it is a little colder out today.  I think we are in for some cold days and some rain this week. 

The Best Dog in the World, Jester. 

Under Oscar's tree in the north side of the yard, are some daffodils that were planted by someone many years ago.  Every spring, they have struggled up through the tree roots and bloomed. 
This year, I am going to plant a batch so that whomever is here after me can enjoy them, 
as I have enjoyed seeing these. 

Happy Spring, everyone. 


While I was sitting here at the kitchen table typing this post, I looked out the front door to see a black and white bird on the arbor.  I jumped up quickly to get the camera with the big lens... this is what I captured...

Here it is, closer. 

I swear to you it looks like a duck. 
Ducks carry H5N1, which is getting closer to me all the time. 

It flew off right after this, and I did not see it fly to know if it WAS a duck. 

Saturday, March 12, 2022

In and Out of the Deep Freeze

We continue having psychotic weather here in Northeast Kansas this year. 

We will have one or two days of balmy, spring like weather, followed by three or four days of very low temps, mixed with a .... wintry mix.  Thursday of last week, I got eight inches of heavy snow here on the homeplace, and it drifted to a foot or more around the buildings in the yard.  Let me tell you, these old legs and feet felt it when I did chores, it was not fun tramping through the heavy snow in my heavy Hunter boots... but thank heavens for them. 

The poor chickens were in for three days, and when they finally got out, they were bewildered by the snow on the ground.  The three silkies that sleep in the brooder cage did not get to go out until today, because their pen was so full.  I did put them down on the floor in the front of the hen house, though, so they could at least get exercise.  

The feral cats mostly hung out in the shop where they at least had a bit of supplemental heat from the electric heater... more about that in a minute. 

Two new cats have appeared.  

This picture, taken through the front door, was my first sighting of "Checkers", as I have been calling him.  He is a HUGE male, not cut.  I have never seen him before last week, and I sent his picture over to my neighbors and they don't know him.  For those of you who don't know, I am the first house on the road, 2/10 of a mile off a state highway.  Across from me is a 26 acre undeveloped piece of ground that is now wooded, with very little water on it, which people have tried to develop several times, but for now, is blessedly "The Wild Area".  My neighbors across the road, Gary and Linda, live just south of that and are far off the road... and my neighbors Troy and Kathy are on the same side.  No one knew this boy.  

This very pretty girl is a kitten, about 3/4 grown.  I have a suspicion she is coming into heat... and that is why the male is there.  Troy sent me a picture from his Blink camera ten days ago, to see if she was one of my ferals.  This picture makes her look big, she is not.  I have got to try to trap both of them and have them neutered.  Do you see Coco's head looking up from the cat bed under the light? 

I have been walking out to the shop at 9 on very cold nights to turn the heater back on, it will run eight hours at a time.  Once the weather lightens up a little, my grandson and I are going to get out there and clean out the southeast corner, bring some order to the place, and next year I hope to use the wood burning stove in there instead of the electric heater. 

My electric bill that came on Saturday was the highest I have ever received here!  Yes, I can pay it, but at some point in time, I will be making decisions about "extras" that need to be dropped.  Right now, I feed the stray cats dry food at will during the day, and take it up in the evening.  I also give them wet food... I am going to start phasing that out, it is just too high now.  

The other decisions are being made about wild bird feed, which has just become very expensive.  I so enjoy watching them... and... I was not plagued with hundreds of starlings, in fact, I rarely have seen them this winter.  But the feed is 33.95 for forty pounds, it was 18.95 a year ago.  

This is the other thing that is going to happen. 
I have been taking up the dry food every evening (they are licking up the rest of the wet food in the bowls.).  They come in through a rotted opening at the back of the shop... the cats come in through a small opening in the wall at the front.  This morning, I went around to look at that hole... it is an area that is totally rotted out, and my worker, Brandon, would have to do an extensive re-build.  I took a picture of it, but this program will not draw on today's picture from the phone, so I may not post this until morning.  My idea is to finally block the possums and raccoons from even coming in.  Yes, they will try the front opening, and I will probably have to do something about that one, but I will have Brandon put on his thinking cap about it. 

(I have decided what to do, and that is to put a temporary fix with fence wiring attached to the back of the barn so that the larger critters cannot get in.  The whole corner needs to be rebuilt, and right now, I can't afford that).  

I obviously forgot to bring that food in early that night. 

They are HUGE. 

This is the reason Zoey never goes out without a lead on after dark. 


Guess what, friends?  It's March 12.  I began this blog post clear back in February!

I actually have been through several more snow/melt/snow situations since then, 
and this morning, the temperature was 5 above when I went out to do chores. 

I start in the shop. 

Teeny and Wanda. 

Teeny is here to stay, I think, though she would make someone a lovely pet.  She is very, very tame and loving.  On Monday of this week, I took her to Hope Clinic in Leavenworth, where she was spayed, 
making sure there would be no kittens. 

As it stands, the count of neutered cats is... Teeny, Wanda, Cleo, Coco, Rusty (coming only at nights) and Diamond Lil, who is sleeping under Troy's garden shed, I think.  She comes out when I put the food in the garage in the morning.  Yeller, the yellow tiger male, comes daily to the deck to eat.  IF I see him, he gets a can of food.  He is next to be trapped and neutered. 

Checkers, the big black and white male... I believed he would go home once Teeny was no longer in heat.... HAHAHAHA.  He let me pet him this morning in the shop. 

So, in a few weeks, when it is reliably warm, the junk in the shop is going to be hauled away, and I am putting two large cat trees in there.  

On to other things. 

Here are three of the red hens roosting last night in the little hen house. I am still using supplemental light at night, it will be off soon.  (we are going into a week of sixties!) 

These hens are producing gorgeous eggs daily. 

I gave away eight dozen eggs last week... I have four in the refrigerator right now, 
and hope to give away all of them tomorrow and Monday.  I have a hen laying the hugest egg I have ever seen, and I think it is the five year old Leghorn, the only one I have left.  There are so many chickens I would love to try... but I am just too darn old. 

We have discussed putting chickens back at the National Agricultural Center now that covid has slowed down... but the pen was taken down and would have to be re-built, and talks are still in the early stages of planning. 

I will tell you one thing, they are keeping me in good shape, even when I am trudging around in the cold, blowing snow. 

Totally gratuitous picture of my grandson, Nathan, and his 
beautiful little daughter, Aurora.  It is one of my favorites, and he is truly a great girl dad. 

The camera picked up these three on the porch one day.  They are the three almost grown kittens... Coco, (black), Wanda (white) and Bullseye.  All neutered.  

They play together every day, chasing each other around the yard.  

The girls come up to the house regularly, and Coco loves to be petted... Wanda will come to me, but still will not allow herself to be touched, though she clearly wants to. 

Here goes little Zoey, ears flying, across the deck. 

And here she is, thirty minutes ago, staying warm.  Both dogs just went out 
though, for a few minutes, and now are back in until later.  Tomorrow, the weather will be much improved and indeed, go to the fifties. 

My next post will show you how I am making goat cheese after a hiatus of some six years (I hope successfully) and... my garden plans for the year.