Saturday, October 31, 2015

happy halloween!

still lots to do around here before the weather turns cold but took a little time today to have some halloween fun...

silly jack-o-lantern this year

had a few trick-or-treaters...

despite being treated they still left a few tricks on the porch.

couldn't wait til dark to light the jack...

happy halloween!

Saturday, October 24, 2015

what's it all for?

yesterday staal and i went in to town to get a few groceries and hardware items.  there were a lot of people in the grocery store, most of whom didn't seem to be much aware of where they were, what they were doing, or of anyone else around them.  `they were alive and functioning in many ways but there was something missing, something hollow about them.  it's hard to describe.  humans without humanity maybe.  when we left the store i felt a little sad.
our next stop was the post office.  zane and i waited in the car while staal went in for some stamps.  there are some trees and bushes at the end of the building and i often see cats lazing there in the shade.  they have the look of being somewhat feral but fed.  they're a little dirty and some of them are a little skinny but they don't seem completely uncared for.  yesterday a man was sitting there with a few of the cats.  he sat crosslegged on the ground reading.  the cats took turns rubbing and bumping against him, one even crawled into his lap for a while, and he stroked them gently as he read his book.  it was very heartening to see.  this man had what seemed to be lost to the people i'd just seen in the grocery store.

i used to drive myself into despair wondering what life was for, wondering why i was here.  i kept coming back to the conclusion that life is meaningless.  and so i thought that if life was meaningless my existence was pointless.  but after a while i came to realize that meaninglessness and pointlessness were not really the same thing.  i still believe that life is inherently meaningless but not in a negative way.  i think each life has to be made meaningful through the thoughts and actions of the one living it.  my life is not necessarily important or meaningful in any grand or cosmic sense but it is meaningful to me.  each day i try to be loving and kind and thoughtful.  i care for my husband, my gardens, my animals, my family and friends.  those are the things that make this life meaningful to me.  i cannot change the ugliness and meanness in the world but i can work in my own life on this 6 acres to put forth the love and caring and reverence i'd like to see everywhere.  and so i grub in the gardens and do what i can to make this a vibrant and welcoming place for all the lives that find their way here.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

not so common buckeye

while i was sitting out with the ducks around sunset i noticed a butterfly lighted on some plantain under the grape arbor.  it caught my eye because the undersides of its wings were a beautiful rosy red.  i kneeled down to take a picture and it stayed very still.  after a few shots with the lens nearly touching it it stayed perfectly still and i thought it was dead.  i gently pushed one of its wings with my finger so that i could get a look at the tops of the wings.  i moved the wings just enough to see the telltale eyespot of the common buckeye.  usually buckeyes are mostly tan on their underwings but after looking at some pictures on the BAMONA website (butterflies and moths of north america) it seems that they occasionally have red underwings.  so this not so common buckeye turned out to be alive but in bad shape.  part of one of its wings was missing and it had a bent antenna.  staal had never seen one this color either and because it was injured he decided to pull up the plant it was resting on and put it somewhere we could keep an eye on it.  as he was removing the plant the butterfly crawled onto his hand and seemed content to stay for awhile and even a bit reluctant to leave.  maybe it could sense staal's strong affinity for butterflies.

after a minute or two staal was able to coax the little guy off his finger and onto some sage blossoms.

a beautiful creature.  i'm happy we crossed paths.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

duck shed progress

i'm getting close to calling the new duck shed done.  it's been challenging in a lot of ways.  the biggest challenge has been working through my own insecurities.  staal is a very good builder and i get a bit intimidated by that at times.  he works mainly with standard construction methods and although i've had a fair amount of experience with standard methods helping on other people's projects, when it comes to my own projects they tend to be anything but standard.  i tend to scavenge materials and work out a way to fit them together into something that will do what i need it to do.  it's more of an artistic process---something like functional sculpture.  i think a good name for it is windfall construction since many of the materials seem to come to me a bit serendipitously.  

in the last duck shed post i did i was just finishing up the framing.  i've done a lot of work on it since then.  after i got the framing done i got the roof on.  a neighbor gifted us some corrugated metal sheeting.  it was used but in good condition.  i gave the old screw holes a squirt of caulk and although we've only gotten a couple of light rains since i put it up it seems not to leak.

staal and i came across a substantial amount of 1/2" hardware cloth when we were out yardsaling a couple weeks ago.  this amount of wire would easily have cost well over $100 new.  the woman having the yard sale let us have it for $10.  she had used it for a vegetable garden she'd grown and some of it was damaged but most of it was in very good condition and i was able to use it to seal up all the walls and eaves of the duck shed.

it took a little work to get the folds out of the wire but once that was done it went up pretty quickly using our pneumatic stapler.

once the wire was up i cut pieces of the corrugated metal sheeting that i used for the roof and nailed it to the walls to add more protection from the weather and predators.

i decided to completely seal up the north wall...

and i left the south wall mostly open.

i want the duck shed to look just as spiffy as the feed barn so i've started painting it and putting up a little trim at the top edge of the metal sheeting.
i'm using the same colors as we used on the feed barn...

and the trim is made from pieces of the old stake sides staal made for his '34 ford flatbed many years ago.

at some point i'll get the trim painted.  i'm also going to paint the doors caleb gave me.  i love the way they look now.  i like the color and the way the paint is worn in places but now that they're being used as exterior doors i think painting them would be a good measure to keep them a bit better protected from the weather.  after i get the doors painted i'll put on some heavy exterior latches to keep them securely closed.

i'll start work on an adjoining fence and yard soon.  the yard is going to include a gravel bed for the ducks' bathing pool.  i made a smaller version of it inside the duck shed for their drinking water.  

hopefully it will help keep things from getting muddy and keep the bedding from becoming a soggy mess.

it's going to be a little sad not having the ducks in the garden anymore.  as noisy as they are i still like having them close.  the move will be a good thing for them though.  they'll have more space and a more secure place to sleep.

the nerds

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

list of birds

add california towhee
to the list of birds
wild and domesticated
that i've held
in my hands

mourning dove
bullock's oriole
guinea fowl
american robin
anna's hummingbird
house finch
spotted towhee
western bluebird
oak titmouse

each feathered body
vibrant with the energy
only flight resonates
even in those
that have long since lost
the ability to fly
something still soars

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

california towhee

while i was mucking out the duck run and hauling the spent straw to the compost area near the chicken run this morning i heard a distressed wild bird calling frantically.  zane had spooked a california towhee and in its panic to escape him it flew into a roll of chicken wire and got itself stuck in two layers of wire.  i cut the wire away and carefully worked it free.  apart from being terrified it was fine and flew away when i took it over to some brush and released it.


Sunday, October 4, 2015

flea market day

had a great time wandering around the hornitos flea market with staal today.  we've gone together every year since we met and i can't recall it ever being as busy as it was this time around.  
here are a few snapshots from our day...

staal made sure we started the day off right

staal has an affinity for old sewing machines.  we only saw one today, which is a little unusual.

here are a few things that caught my eye...

toad jewelry box---i love toads and emerald is my birthstone

bronze jackrabbit

bronze deersnails?

one of my favorite parts of flea market day is stopping at the prickly pear ruins.

came home with a few cactus pads and a little trinket from the market.

it was a lovely day.