Sunday, June 24, 2018

Poor Orchards Almanack: Let it Rain

           Double tasking today:  partly watching the rain advance on laptop radar, then getting up to watch it plinking into the frying pan we set on the deck to feed cats and measure rainfall.
        It could rain all day and rain all night and it would not be enough to bring the well up enough that we could actually water the vegetables … except from the ponds, which are only slightly more than mere wetland now, and I don’t know if much less than a week of rain would be enough to get the orchard through a good fruiting.
      It is a good thing we have social security and egg money, because ….  after several years of disasterous late freezes…  if we were depending on produce from our hundred trees, we would have been eating bark.

   Then this season, we had the early warm temperatures again, but (so far) no freeze, although … with the present administration of climate … a freeze could happen anytime.
        We had so many blooming Pear trees this season that I was afraid  there would be more fruit than I could tend to;  but I have only found a dozen or so trees that will have a full crop that I will need to thin and harvest. 
      I leave a few of the natural trees to grow tall in the steeple  form that allows them to come up above the brush and   pollinate the others through the wind. 
     But that didn’t suffice.  It seems we really need another agent of pollination.
 I saw a couple of honey bees when the Horse Chestnuts were flowering, which is not the swarm we need to do the job.but they are non native anyway; they are commonly trucked up here from florida, like other migrant laborers  in season. We do have neighbors with their own hives, but we should be able to depend on our native bees anyway, even if they can’t be enslaved and don’t look like Disney cartoon characters. 
  So have the native American bees all been pushed to reservations, or what?

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Stormy Weathers

 I don’t know why my grandson named the kitten “Stormy”, but now, a few years later, he looks like he has been through some violent weather.  One day when he was still a kitten underfoot, I dropped a wet salmon filet into deep fat that splattered and burnt his  ears, so now they are jagged,  and, for years,  had chronic head infections:  sneezing bloody snot and developing continually oozing sores on the side of his head. He is partly or totally deaf, with a loud un-modulated voice. and despite, or along with all that he has bursts of wild energy, skittering across the floor and bouncing off the furniture  on his way from feeding dish to litter box, Some of those symptoms have eased and Stormy was generally improving … then the Racoon attacked.

             Hearing  a strange cry, I jumped up  and ran outside.
         Near the bottom of the deck steps, a Racoon had  our cat Stormy by a hind leg.

    I had seen that little criminal the day before he grabbed Stormy:  Hearing  our top rooster Gerald honking his alarm, I  jumped up, grabbed the loose table leg I keep by the door, and ran out to the deck. 
  I saw Swan the white hen, flying up the path between the  garlic patch and the little trailer, followed by six or eight other hens and a coon about hen size who went after of the hens as she dodged under the trailer.  He got her before she quite made it out the other side but by that time I was there with my table leg. they were just under the bumper of   the trailer,  and I couldn’t get a clear shot at him with the table leg, so  I hit the added wooden bumper next to them, hit it pretty hard, so the Coon dropped the hen, which ran off, and I went all around the outside of the trailer on my hands and knees and my belly, growling and shouting, but I didn’t see the coon anywhere. 

    It rained the next night as we knew it would,  and though we have evicted most of our least feral cats to sleep or stalk outside now that the weather is warm …. they know how to keep dry and they are somewhat nocturnal   …. but we kept  l Stormy inside because it seems sometimes that he does not know how to stay out of the rain, or that he doesn’t care if he is wet, as if he were just as numb as he is deaf. 

 Then came the day Stormy was so unbound that  he bounced off the wall onto my side-table and I stopped him only as he was about to run across this keyboard, which is where I draw the line.  I put him out.

      Then,  I heard a strange cry. I jumped up  and ran outside.
    where that small Racoon had  our cat Stormy by a hind leg.
        I got down the steps and grabbed the Coon around his neck, but it would not let go of Stormy.
 I picked it up by the back legs and   slammed him on the ground, but he was still attached to Stormy whom I didn’t want to slam on the ground too; so then I just stood on the Coon’s head…and pushed down hard … didn’t actually stomp, because of Stormy in those jaws … but the Coon let go, so I reached behind for a rock to bash the thing with, but then the little bastard was gone, and so was Stormy which, in itself,  was at least a good sign.
 After the Coon atttacked him  I didn’t think we would see Stormy again uintil we smelled him rotting somewhere under the house, but he is now sleeping peacefully on the back rest of Geoergia’s chair.
    I wonder how the coon fared after I stood on his head.
         I am hopin he has learned a lesson: . If you mess with Dogs Plot Cats, a  two-legged Oaf will stand  on your head very hard. You are welcome to eat with the Cats and even the Chickens, even to be out and about in the daytime, when Coons should be asleep,  but no eating family members.
          Georgia has bandaged Stormy up, and he has been sleeping, eating, and pooping since now, at the bottom of the page, a few days on, he is still just sleeping, eating, and pooping. He has enough use of that coon bit leg that he can scratch himself behind his ragged right ear, and bound around the house between his cat perch and the litter pan, like the bat crazy cat he is.
                     Most of the time  on most days,  Dogs Plot is a peaecablle kingdom. Racoons, Possums, and Skunks often live right under the chicken house and feed together on our deck with a sort of family understanding.
   But  every Spring,  Skunk, Woodxhuck, Fox, Bear, and Coon mothers in the woods around us evict  their adolescent children who must then explore new territory…  and something like this is likely to happen again next year.
     Meanwhile we have an integrated, adult resident Coon , about  the size of a Bear cub, who  eats   with the cats, and sleeps away  the daytimes when the Chickens are about. 
       Yesterday down by the Asparagus patch I found a mess of feathers and the body of one of our several chickens we have allowed ourselves to name. Blanch, who  had already over the years endured several attacks, most recently by fun-loving Labrador Retrievers on their own adolescent wander-about.  I don’t know that the little coon I stomped on is responsible for the death of Blanch … looks more like the work of a weasel, as not much of her is gone.  The Weasels, I can tell you about weasels and that includes Mink as well as the usual local Short tail Weasels, that can weasel through a hole about the size of a mouse.

  But, as for Stormy:  we bandaged hime bandage on for a few days after the last change and when we took it off yesterday, you could hardly see the damage.  Except for the ears, of course.

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Free Loading Chickens

Why we want thirteen dollars a dozens for our eggs:

Saturday, April 7, 2018

How to Write


  The problem with being a young writer is that to be a good writer you need to have developed enough wisdom that you actually have something to say. 
  One truth you often hear from the elders is that  you are only as old as you feel; so I am pretty damn old now.  When I was a young, learning writer, I decided that I would  practice writing until I was old and experienced enough that I actually had something to say, so now, I do, so you may  ask me about any question and I should be able to give you a brief and compelling answer.   
       Alternatively, you may believe that, as Robert Frost so cleverly put it,  learning to write is simply a matter of learning how to have something to say.  On the other hand, as Frost maybe learning to write is really more a matter of learning how to say something, anything, just so that  you   convey some relevant information, entertain or piss the reader off, or at least drag them with you all the way to the end.
      If there are no more questions, I will have to be getting along now.  Marshal? “What is the meaning of Lice.”
        Bite me Marshal, you joker.  Thanks for being here for us.  Bye now.

My Collegue the Carpenter Ant


  I sleep deep, and if I dream down there  I don’t   remember it, but as I get closer to waking I experience shuddering images of roof- rot, rising damp,  mice- shredded insulation and so on: all of which   follow me from that half-sleep  into the day time, even as I drive down a street, painfully aware of the condition of each roof I pass.
   I don’t worry about Carpenter ants though. They may be foreign and invasive, but  Carpenter ants are my friend, and not because were work the same trade, which is not exacctly the case. They are your friend too, if you only know.
        Despite the common belief, Carpenter Ants do not saw lumber from your studs, and use it to stick-frame little ant houses of their own. Looking for a home, they simply seek out rotten wood they can easily tunnel through and hollow out. If you destroy the ants, you will need to get new ones, although if you replace the rotted wood, and take care of your lousy leaking roof or the place where the gardener piled the dirt up against the clapboards inorder to plant your Azelias. 
    After that is taken care of, you should consider a roof job, as the shingles that were put on, maybe thirty years ago, had a twenty five year warranty at the most and, anyway, that roof has too low a slope for shingles to seal it and should have been done with metal, rubber, or at least double coverage asphalt roll roofing, and if you don’t plan to keep the eves trough clear, it would be better to just leave it off after the roof job, seeing as it has foot high locust trees growing in it, and serves to back up the runn off so that it is rotting the eves.  
         Clearing gutters well forested as that, I sometimes find populations of mature earth worms, which I am careful to transport to a better place.  Worms are my friends.


Wednesday, March 28, 2018

I carry my camera almost always and take pictures endlessly but, until now,  I haven’t downloaded anything from the camera for a week or so, and that is because of what the camera saw….  I  dread looking at the photographs,   and am uncertain how I can get that sight off my mind without getting it off my camera and on somebody else's mind. 

      In any case, it happened that I was down by the chicken house when I heard the voices of our neighbor kids going up their long driveway toward the road  behind the corn crib where I could not see them. One of them was calling to Zoey, their St. Bernard rescue dos.
     When I came up the path Georgia, standing on the porch, told me that she saw the kids in   the middle of the road, and standing around something lying there.
         She called out “Are you allright?” No answer, just the kids talking fast, over and under one another as they went back up the drive to their house, calling Zoey  along.

            I went out to the road.

         Up close, the lump  on the road was a Grey Fox: larger than a Red Fox, smaller than a Coyote; grey, red, and brown with  face markings like an owl or a hawk:   beautiful and burst …split open, her naked foetal kits lying on and around her,
    I put the vixen and her   kits off to the side of the road where the Crows and Vultures that clean up around here will not block the highway.
  I am grateful that I did not have to go back to the house for my gun to put her out of my misery, as has happened  with deer, here at the level top of this hill where animals like to cross, from gully head to gully head, and people in cars, having gained the top of the hill, really get up to speed.


Monday, November 27, 2017

WILLIAM    I hope you are doing okay out there, wherever out there happens to be. Still wrangling chickens for period movies? Riding a getaway bus out of Portland?
        Anyway, I hope I am not just talking to the night here.   I don’t know where you are or whether you even read your Facebook feed   since you have not posted here in a very long while, but  I figure this is my best shot at contacting you.   We  are doing well enough ourselves, but Dogsplot is thickening ….getting complicated, as you will understand.

     A guy named Owen Pierce showed up here a while back  looking for you, saying he had read our “Book of William,” and that he is your biological brother. According to him, before you showed up at our house in Natural Bridge, you and he were two of more than several kids born in a shack at the edge of the Fort Drum military reservation … enough kids that after a few months as a baby in the house, you would each move to the chicken house out back, where you mostly looked after one another. Then you moved on.  And he himself has moved to this area.
           Oren Pierce  wears black clothes and boots with high heels; teaches badmitton as a zen type sport, or so he says.  Probably not in those boots though.  He has shown up at the house a few times since first appearing and I have seen him around, mostly walking the roads.  He has offered to look after the place when and if we travel, and has been submitting stories for our magazine about the stuffed animals in our trunk.  We don’t plan on going anywhere anytime soon, and I am not sure I would be ready  to leave the place with him. 
        Any chance you might get back here sometime?