Culling Roosters on Independence Day

This is the third year we’ve turned chickens into food.  See here and here.  Some differences this year –

  • We didn’t buy cornish cross chicks – the so-called meat birds that possess a body shape that resembles the chickens found in grocery stores.
  • Instead we decided to cull our extra roosters.  There were too many and were getting to be a little hard on the hens.
  • We only did two birds rather than ten or twenty.
  • I did not do any of the work.  My husband did it all himself with a little help from the kids.  The kids rounded up the two birds and put them in a crate.  My husband set up the pulley and bucket, table and hose, scald pot and plucking counter.  All I did was remind him to wear long sleeves and to read the directions.
hen with bald patch because of too many roosters

hen with bald patch because of too many roosters

 

covered animal crate

covered animal crate

 

bucket , table, hose

bucket , table, hose

 

one of three roosters who gets to stay

one of three roosters who gets to stay

  • Because these were older, scrawnier birds they’ll probably be for the pot rather than for roasting.

Our roasting chickens were delicious and twenty of them lasted us almost a full year so we’ll probably do that again next year, but at least we’ve got something.  And it’s nice to move a little closer to sustainability.

Enjoying Today

Bright yellow light is filtering through green leaves. I’m feeling all the promise of an unspoiled day.

The house will stay messy today because we are going out right after school. We’ll go look at the falls and climb some stairs and take deep fresh breaths and exert our muscles and use all these gifts that we take for granted too often.

Then tonight we’ll stay up too late waiting for the last light to leave the sky while we collect lightning bugs and poke the little flame in our ring of creek stones which doesn’t really approach the magnificence of a bonfire but which we give that name anyway. We’ll come home filthy and tired, covered in charcoal and bug bites, grateful for a shower and bed.

What a luxurious life! Hot coffee, slow starting, warm air, interesting children, books to read, clean sheets, comfy chair, creative projects, long walks. My favorite things. What are yours?

Soda Bottle Rockets

One of the best things about homeschooling is time and flexibility – drawing the attention of my students to the feast that is set before them and then allowing them to take their fill.

I wish we had the time and the … whatever it is… to study like the ancient Greeks; sit in a room with some sand on the floor and figure out geometry. Not because it’s necessarily useful (though it is!) but because it is interesting, beautiful and just because it IS.

My middle boy spent some of his own money on a big jug of white vinegar and two boxes of baking soda and has spent every free minute for the past three days figuring out the best way to make various pieces of recycling shoot into the air. I’m pretty sure it was the best $3.60 he ever forked out.

I could show him videos and books that demonstrate the “best” way of doing this but he is so invested– financially, temporally, emotionally, intellectually – I don’t want to ruin it. It would be like telling Archimedes about pi while he was figuring out his approximation.

Bonus: he has been entertaining his brothers as well.

Excitement in the Neigborhood

Yesterday afternoon the electricity began to flicker and then went out. I stepped out on the front porch. There was smoke coming from the direction of my neighbor’s house. Could he be using his woodstove this time of year? I sent my son up to his room to look out the window. No, the smoke was not coming from the chimney. I walked along the road toward his house and almost walked right into a downed power line that lay across his lawn in a smoking black snake. At the end of the grass it lifted into the air to a pole at the edge of the woods – my woods – where it was smouldering.

It took the electric company about forty-five minutes to arrive to shut off the power so the fire department could put out the fire. Then they had to send for another crew to repair the damage, but the repair itself only took about a half hour.

There is no major damage to either the woods or to my neighbor’s home, though there is a burnt wavy line across his front yard.

While we waited to see what would happen neighbors all came out and stood around talking to each other. I miss that about the city. There is so little casual interaction here. There is no daily hello and wave, except from inside our cars. Here, if you want to talk to people it has to be purposeful; you go to church or Kiwanis or Rotary or a spaghetti fund raiser or an auction or an event of some kind.

And it was exciting to begin making contingency plans. Would we stay in our own home? If so, what would we do for water? (electric well pump) Should we pack a bag? Maybe we should camp out. Where are the batteries? Go swimming? Visit relatives? Well, the power was back on before we got to do much of that.

But we did eat all the ice cream!

I’m On a New Schedule and Can’t Think Properly

New schedule sooooo tired.  Words not werking write.  I make free sociation pohum.  Brain back soon hoping.

 

There are 34 reasons to quit

And 86 times when I did

And I stop and I stare at the lies in the air

Swishing from side to side

I wanted to cry or scream or die

But I lived and that’s why I’m here

So suck it

 

 

I Studied This in Grammar School

in the 1970s.  Did you?
by Emma Lazarus
Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

Wildflower Beauty

I spent years feeling like there was no restful place for my eyes.  Maybe there is something wrong with a person who has such difficulty finding beauty in her surroundings.  Now that I’ve moved away from “the city” I think it wasn’t so much an inability to find beauty as an inability to ignore ugliness.  Beauty was everywhere, but it was tainted, surrounded, out of place.  There was sorrow too apparent in beauty’s struggling on, in its insistence on survival.  That’s still true, I suppose, but now I find beauty the abundant rule and ugliness is the intruding exception.  There is less bitter with the sweet.  What changed?  Me or the landscape?

dame's rocket and a little buttercup

dame’s rocket and a little buttercup

Dame’s rocket is a flower that is among the first to bloom in a succession of uncultivated flowers that celebrate the passing of the temperate weeks.  And as these pass away they usher in other blossoms.  They look like Easter candy in shades of violet, lavender, pink, and white.  They line the roads and ditches and creek banks.  They fill the edges of the woods.  In the evening they give off a sweet musky springtime scent and seem to glow in the diminishing light.

Its latin name is hesperis matronalis which I think has something to do with mothers at night, but makes me think of “The Wreck of the Hesperus” – fitting since dame’s rocket is banned in Massachusetts (and Connecticut, Colorado, and Wisconsin) owing to its invasive nature.

But it sure is pretty on my counter.

ETA:  I apologize to everyone who landed here because I erroneously added the tag “beauty.”  I didn’t realize that was code for cosmetics.  I’m just figuring this tagging thing out.  

Never Leave the House Without a Watch Cat

The sun had already set, but the twilights this time of year are long, especially up on the hills.  I carried a book in my hand, and a pencil, because sometimes I like to argue with my reading material.  I climbed the slope up to the vegetable garden with Snake, my favorite barn cat, rubbing in and out of my legs.  His mama was here before we moved in and he was born right on my kitchen porch.

I sat criss cross applesauce on the rough and weathered wooden bench overlooking the raised beds, with the hill and woods and pond at my back, and opened my book.  Snake was having none of it.  He walked across my legs bumping and rubbing on my book, my arms, my elbows,  back and forth, over and over, trying to share a flea or two because he’s generous like that.  After some negotiation we settled into a rhythm of simultaneous reading and petting.  The darkness began to spread through the light but I barely noticed.

Suddenly, Snake looked up.  Something over my shoulder had caught his attention.  His ears cocked forward, eyes wide, whiskers trembling.  There was movement in the brush behind me.  A bird?  Deer?  Ax murderer?

You have never seen a dumpy middle aged woman move so fast.  I rolled down the hill.  Once at the bottom, I looked back to see that the cat was headed toward the barn, but there was no urgency in his saunter.  He had done his good deed for the day in saving my life and now he was off to the Jellicle Ball.

Between Readers

I came across your margin notes

In a book I bought at Goodwill.

I have to say I don’t agree.

 

You mocked my favorite author.

You knocked my highest thoughts.

You made me quake with rage.

 

You wrote in red;

You wrote in caps.

You added a doodle too.

 

If I had you here

I’d give you a shake

and make you take it back.

Parenting Then and Now – Freedom

When I was a kid my parents often sent me and my brother to the store to buy cigarettes.  Nobody thought they were bad parents.  Now, all of them who haven’t died, have quit smoking and they’d poop their pants if anyone sent their grandkids to the store for milk and cookies.

My great-grandfather would sometimes want to stop at a bar* when he was out with his children.  Women didn’t often go to bars in those days and certainly little girls didn’t, so he’d leave them on the front step and bring  bags of potato chips out to them or give them a couple of nickels for ice cream.

This was not a scary thing for my grandmother any more than going to the store was for me.  We knew the neighborhood, we knew the neighbors.  More importantly, the neighbors knew us.  The man at the Superette knew me and my parents and he knew they smoked Benson & Hedges and Virginia Slims.  If I had tried to buy Camel or Lucky Strike, I would have had a problem.

Some people say that kids don’t have enough freedom these days and that parents hover like helicopters.  Maybe that’s true.  But I’ve noticed that a lot of what might have been called “freedom” was borne out of parental laziness, or sometimes parental need, rather than a philosophical belief in a child’s need for independence.

I’ve heard that, statistically, crimes against children are fewer now than they were when I was a child.  But maybe that’s because we don’t send them out alone to buy cigarettes.  What do I know – I haven’t read the studies.

So, do I say “our parents did it and we turned out of OK” as if turning out OK is any thing to brag about?  Do I say that kids aren’t missing out on some wonderful things that can only come from navigating their little worlds without adult interference?  The truth is I straddle this line and pick my way through one step at a time just like generations of parents before me.  And I hope I’m doing right.

Luckily I don’t smoke.

*Apparently, Neir’s is having something of a renaissance these days.