Homestead Happy Snaps

Just another loungey Sunday on the wee homestead and sharing some of the love with y’all!

The dogs are off for a swim in the pond, their favorite time of day, right after breakfast and dinner.  The pastured pigs come up to greet the group, hoping we brought treats, no doubt.  They are looking much more slender now that they are only foraging.

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Papi’s back on track, thank heavens!  After a big scare, where we were planning for his death, a great resurrection now follows.  We took him back to the vet, they replenished him with fluids by IV, and coaxed out a football-sized hardened stool.  I know this issue was caused by the prescribed meds, so this time when he got home with a new set of pills, we threw them all in the trash.

He’s again his old sassy self and it really does seem like a miracle after how despondent he was—wouldn’t eat or drink, was vomiting and not pooping, would hardly move, wouldn’t even whine or bark, though he’s normally very expressive—we really thought he was checking out for good.  He’s back and still trying to lead the pack.

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The garden is growing great, the green beans and melons are looking particularly impressive this year (so far that is, never count your melons before they hatch).  I’ve just harvested our first cucumbers, with tomatoes soon to follow.  The bees sound as pleased as me!

Speaking of bees, I can now confirm with a fair degree of confidence that my high-risk hive split last month was successful.  What made it high-risk, in conventional beekeeping protocol, was that there was no queen, I didn’t re-queen at all, rather I intended that the small split-off colony should raise their own queen themselves.  There was not even queen cells present in the brood I transferred, only capped brood and larvae.

My beekeeping goal is replicating genetics that suit our needs and desires here on the wee homestead: semi-feral colonies whose first purpose is pollination, second purpose is sustainability and study, third purpose those glorious products—honey, wax, propolis, pollen, etc.

For this goal I choose to split from our “ninja” hive, but don’t let their nickname fool you.  They are not ‘mean’ like the nickname might suggest, and two other hives here are FAR meaner.

Rather, they are natural warriors.  Maybe this is because during the ‘tornado’ last spring their home was turned upside down.  Or maybe because I experimented on them with a screen bottom board, which meant they had to fend off attackers constantly from multiple fronts all summer, the warm winter and early spring.  Or maybe because they are right next to our house, where there is constant traffic from critters, mowers and us.

All I know is, this team is tight, because they’re so busy with all their other tasks, they leave me in relative peace in order to meddle in their ranks.

And speaking of queen bees, at least in the canine kingdom, Buttercup is exercising her own maternal instincts, on our new chicks.  It seems she doesn’t trust her brother, Bubba.

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Buttercup: “Don’t worry Daddy, I got your back.”
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Bubba: “Mmmm . . . Snack size!”

Whereas once upon a time Buttercup crawled in submission from 20 paces, then rolled over immediately once within sniff-range of current Queen Tori, I expect there will soon be an active rivalry.

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I wonder when someone will finally come to rival this old queen?  Someone once asked me when we first moved rural, “Why do you need so much land?”

Seriously?

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Life & Death

Natural is the cycle of life and death.  Normal is civilized man believing he can control all aspects of nature.  There is little natural about normal.

This big turtle might have met my tires, if I wasn’t such granny driver.  I haven’t seen one quite like him before around here, so I turned around to try to catch him with my phone camera.  I tried a dozen shots, he was so stealth and so well camouflaged, this was the best I could get.  I have a great new respect for wildlife photographers!

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Spot the butterfly enjoying the vetch I planted.  The bumblebees and honeybees like it too.  The hummingbirds visit the salvia all the time, but I can never get even a remotely decent shot.

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This baby cardinal flew the coop where he was nesting in the veggie garden.  His parents keep close watch on his effort, which I assume was successful after this first fall, because they were all gone by the next day.

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The making of our fruits and vegetables requires the repeated exile, territory confiscation and/or downright murder of rabbits, voles, squirrels, deer, feral hog, wandering cows, untold number of stink bugs, aphids, cabbage worms, hornworms, ticks, fire ants, snakes, scorpions (and occasionally spiders, by accident).

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The reason the gardens look so awesome right now is because they’re getting loads of poop.  Well-managed grazing livestock work in far better symbiosis with nature than vegetable gardens do, but don’t tell the vegetarians that, they might pout.

Speaking of poop, our dear Papi, who I recently rushed to the vet because half his tongue was paralyzed, made a turn for the worse once he got back home.  Seems the pharmaceuticals I agreed to give him hardened his stool to such a degree he would hardly eat or drink, for nearly a week.  Why would I allow such a cocktail of drugs be ingested by our dear pooch when I’d refuse them myself for sure?

Out of fear, ignorance, and the misplaced trust stemming from those apertures.  I’m quite ashamed of myself.  I love him so much, I made his life worse.  Sounds like I have something significant in common with our current political tyrants, except that I really do care about him.  But, I have little confidence in my pet healing capacities, and that must change.  Another gift of Ba’al—that giver just keeps on giving.  Our old buddy’s back at the vet, fingers crossed even tighter.

Our prized borrowed ram has already lost interest in his harem and is apparently pursuing a bromance with the car.  He spends hours leaning against it each day while his girls are nowhere in sight.  I suspect he’s not missed too much by them anyway, as his primary deed’s surely been accomplished by now.

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In the land of milk and honey co-exists more death, disease, disaster and drama than any man could ever wish for, so why, oh why, I wonder, would he ever need to recreate it all through so much media?

 

 

 

 

 

Shooting Mockingbirds

He now knows I’m hunting him, no doubt.  I’ve shot twice and missed.  I’ve never been a good shot.  Now, he knows that.  He strategically positions himself like a bull’s eye in the small window of wires just above the transformer.  His predecessor did that too.  What are the odds?

His predecessor hit the grass thanks to Handy Hubby, a far better shot than I.  It’s not like we make a sport out of shooting birds.  We love the birds!  But please, don’t let their small stature, or innocent and cute demeanor cloud the fact that they are really loud, opportunistic, clever and occasionally infuriating.

Did you know mockingbirds will go on all night long?  So, when they’re right above the bedroom window, I’m sure you can imagine how exceptionally annoying it is.  That is, if you’ve ever heard the mockingbirds go on and on all night long.  They must be the most annoying-sounding birds ever, right after guinea hens.  It would take a real saint to suffer through it incessantly, I’m sure.

The mockingbirds are, as James True has made me deeply consider, gifts of Ba’al.  They force me to get up from my cushions, to feel the shame in my lack of skill, to suffer their shrill monotony, to become a better shot.

They make me understand that irritation is a very powerful motivator for me.  And my own limited threshold for verbal abuse, and my own cunning, and sensitivity, and impatience, and so on.  For better, but moreover, worse.

I got lucky this time, don’t know why, seem to be riding that wave lately, at last.  I heard him out, while weeding in the garden.  He went on and on, right over my head.  I was so tempted to get the gun.  But I thought, let me try my patience today.  A little self-test.  I didn’t notice he’d gone until a day or two afterward, remarking on the silence suddenly, while weeding once again in the garden.

How calm and quiet, what’s changed?

Low and behold, the mockingbird was gone, and no replacement has yet appeared.  But, the same morning I realized this, which was yesterday, I had to rush our old dog Papi to the vet, half his tongue is paralyzed, well into his throat and he can’t eat, is drooling badly, has a fever, and they’re keeping him for the weekend under sedation.

He’s old and sometimes as annoying as the mockingbirds.  He’s always been our ‘problem child’.  It’s been fairly constant for his now 12 years—in and out of the vet for snake bites and ear issues and inexplicable poisonings.  He’s fond of disappearing for days, one time he came home clearly overdosed on mushrooms.  He drives me into a regular frenzy by, in general, being a real hooligan.  I miss him already, a lot.

Not that these random instances might be related or anything, just noting the timing, just in case.

Get well quick old buddy, your annoying antics are missed already.