Friday, December 14, 2012


Summer 2011
Road Trip to Portland, Oregon
My daughter, Arianna, our friend, Søren, and I.
How did she become so different than me?
I gave birth to thee!

50 percent of her genetics I gave,
though naught but the luminous, copious mane
of rich, deep chocolate brown,
did I make.
With almond eyes, soft and serene,
skin tinted with olive and kissed by the sun,
she is more her father than her mum.

The ornately carved bazier that holds her spirit, deep within,
burns low and slow with the embers of wisdom
that comes from the many lifetimes her spirit has cycled herein.
So unlike me,
hot and ready to flee,
easily startled and quick to flame,
I have the intensity while she has the power to sustain.
I want to win.
She wants to have fun.
I obsess,
    she knows when to let things fall.

This difference is so hard for me to embrace,
her lack of desire to always win the race.
My anger and anxiety builds,
as I see her competitive with only the middle of the field.
I know I need to let it go,
Let her find her own rhythm and flow.
I try to ease my burst of flame,
with the forcing of self to walk away.

And with deep breaths and sighs,
I strive to just be happy with her choices in this life.

She is not me,
I remind myself constantly.

I am not you, Mom,
Her soft gaze says to me silently.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

News from the Hen House - December 2012

Brad - announcing his latest blog post!
Hi all,

Brad here. I know, it has been a long time since I posted any stories about life on the farm but I am turning over a new leaf for 2013 and plan to post a short story every month or so. Life on our farm is always busy and our caretaker, Renée keeps everything running smoothly. She is amazing and we all love her!

I believe it is Winter 2012 but the weather has been unseasonably warm. The laying ladies and I have been able to continue foraging not only in our little yard but also the horse pasture and the neighboring soybean field. 

I LOVE it when the crops are harvested. The machines always leave yummy treats behind with soil that is loosened up and perfect to scratch around in, looking for grubs, worms and other underground insect life.

The composting horse manure pile is a perfect place to start the day. Sometimes we find leftover bits of grain but always lots of yummy earthworms. I especially love to find the little red ones. Sweet, succulent with a hint of earthiness. Ah, Heaven on Earth is a nicely composted manure pile . . . but I digress.

Snoozing with the Laying Ladies
Usually by the time Renée gets out to do chores, around sunrise, I have already escaped out of the noisy coop and started feasting near one compost pile or another. Sometimes she shuts the big window I like to fly out of, what with the nights being rather chilly, and sometimes she just shuts our little door. I hate it when she shuts both at night because that means I have to endure listening to the girls gossip and squawk about other farm residents while they get about the business of laying eggs. The things those girls say! I love them but really, who cares if Max, the head of the sheep flock, got into a head-butting match with Berk, his younger half-brother?

Do NOT be deceived by the
cute-ness of this image!
He is terrifyingly fast and loves fresh chicken.
Well, enough about me, let me tell you a little bit about other exciting events on our farm. Most recently, I was witness to the brutal killing of my good friend, Rusty and two of our laying ladies - while they were in a cage! 

What could have committed such a bloodthirsty crime? A MINK! We tried to tell Renée about him but she didn’t seem to understand until her husband found the mink curled up in a sunny corner of the pigeon coop. Since the pigeon coop has better rodent protection, once he got in, he couldn’t get out unless he slipped out the door when one of the humans opened it. He had done this successfully before, relishing in the fresh water and spilled grain from the fancy pigeons.

Somehow, Renée and Bashir caught the mink in a cat carrier and had a friend come over to help in disposing of this evil menace. All I can say is - good riddance! We haven’t had any random, midnight attacks since and I am hoping his friends or family doesn’t decide to come looking for him.

The next day, after the mink had been taken care of, I wandered into the barn to check for leftover kitty or dog treats and there was Renée, highly focused and carefully skinning the mink. I wonder what she plans to do with his hide? He was good sized but I don’t think he is big enough to make anything with. I’ll keep you posted on what she ends up doing with it.

Hide from a doe, left on our road, mostly
fleshed, salted, tanning oil applied.
Along those lines of skinning animals, a couple of days before the capture and ultimate demise of the mink, Renée and a friend brought home a white tailed deer hide. I overheard them talking about how they came into possession of this messy skin. 

Apparently, people like to dump deer carcuses on our quiet country road and Renée spotted a fresh kill of a large doe on her way home from work. She went about her business and later decided to go back to check it out since it looked like the hide was still intact, meaning no coyotes had found it yet and maybe it was salvageable. 

Renée has made it clear to all of us, on the farm, she loves and values all our contributions toward making her life and her family’s lives healthy, and she doesn’t like to waste any “gift” that we have to offer. She feels that way about wildlife too, even though she is not an active hunter, she believes that if you kill an animal, you should try to use as much of that animals’ gifts as possible. The gift of a “hide” was too hard to pass up so Renée and her friend, in the dark of night, with knives and pickling salt in hand, went out to harvest the hide and prepare it to be tanned.

Late into the night, the two humans worked, sharing stories, listening to music and honoring the beautiful way nature has created us critters. The artist inside of both women, took joy in the divine patterns found on the skin, left by the placement of muscles, tendons and other fibers. The scientist in both women, admired the complex connections of seemingly simple layers of skin, adipose connecting tissue and muscles, as they carefully “fleshed” the hide. The doe was thanked for giving her life to feed the hunter’s family and for the future warmth, her hide would give to Renée.

Buck skin, given to Renée by a neighbor.
Needless to say, Renée’s family, once again, has shook their collective heads and smiled at her latest adventures into pioneer life in the 21st Century. When Renée started working on yet another deer hide the next day, given to her by a conscientious neighbor and friend, her son pointed out that she was one trashed TV set away from becoming a pioneer wife.

Well, he is right about the trashed TV set, as Renée has often been a vocal opponent of the brain drain but I think she has a long way to go before she is truly a pioneer wife.

I hear tell, from Blackie the cat, who hangs out by the back door of the house, that Renée struggles with the canning process and cooking in general. Well, she can’t be perfect in everything she does but at least she tries. 

Curious George
- repurposed as a laprobe.
That’s all for today. Renée has her finished mink hanging in her art corner, next to the warped up loom, waiting to be turned into something useful, the two deer hides are in the garage and in the process of being broken in before becoming usable, one of five sheep skins is almost ready to be gifted to a nephew, with the other four, in various stages of fleshing, salting and tanning. She is a busy girl!

Be well all, and happy scratching,
Handmade dish towel by Renée.

Alpha Rooster
Renée’s Hen House