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Archive for the tag “Craigslist”

Letting go

img958I made scrambled eggs for breakfast this morning. A mundane, everyday occurrence. Except when it’s not. You see, I (finally) gave up all my chickens a couple of weeks ago, at the direction of my doctor. After dragging my feet on it for six months, I placed an ad on Craigslist and they were gone in less than 24 hours. It was a good time to do it, just as we head into the winter months. They weren’t laying much (I was getting 1 egg a day from 18 hens) and the winter months are hard on them – they don’t enjoy the 6 months of rain any more than I do. Caring for any livestock during the winter months is more work (thawing frozen waterers when it freezes, replenishing straw regularly to help combat the ever-present mud, etc.), so getting rid of them now was a little easier, in theory.

I got an incredible response to the “Free Chickens” ad–over a dozen people, with half of them in the first three hours after I posted, and more coming in until I pulled the ad about 10 hours later. I had no idea old hens would be such a hot item. I replied to the first person that responded and said he wanted them all. He was close, only one town away, and was able to come after church on Sunday.

I went out mid-morning to shoo the girls into the coop, where they would be easier to catch. I donned my respirator mask, tucked my hair under my cap, and got to work. I moved them to the old chicken tractor I bought when I first moved here and needed a place for the hens I’d moved in with. It went quickly and easier than I expected. Then the tears came. I stuffed them back – I didn’t want to be a mess when the guy got here. But I had to go inside for a while.

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Loaded up and waiting.  Trying not to cry.

The fellow got here and got out of his van with three young boys, stair-step in height from age 6-ish to age 12-ish, each armed with a fishing net. We didn’t need the nets, but it was cute that they were ready for chicken catching. We loaded the hens up–there were 15 of them going—into the assortment of boxes the fellow brought and before I knew it, it was done.  I sent them off with 14 free hens,* plus my 25# feeder, the rest of a bag of feed I had, and three waterers. And it was over. After 34 years—most of my life—with anywhere from 6 to 26 chickens in my backyard, I was now chicken-less.

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So quiet and sad.

So now it’s just the adjustment to life without chickens. I know it sounds ridiculous in many ways, but it’s a huge change for me. They weren’t pets per se, but I loved having them in my life. Their simple pleasures in a good sunbath, a juicy worm, scratching in the garden, and dusting in the dry duff under the cedar trees were my pleasures, too. They are entertaining to watch, and their busy little lives were always an enjoyable way to wind down after a hectic day at work and a lousy commute. Plus, eggs. Delicious, free-range eggs on organic feed. These purchased eggs have a funny taste in comparison, and even though they’re pastured, organic eggs (at $6 a dozen) they’re not as rich or egg-licious as mine were. 20161120_123149I wake up in the morning and look out the bathroom window to the empty coop and run, so silent in the morning gloom, when it should be filled with the waking flock, clucking and pecking and preening. I come home expecting to see them come running to the fence, eager to be let out (I kept them penned when I wasn’t home, to keep them safe from predators). While raking leaves I am struck by the silence of not being surrounded by a happy flock scratching around in the leaf litter and filling up on all the goodies they find. A favorite activity was to dismantle a pile of leaves I’d raked up; they were quick and industrious, and could take down a pile in short order (like, while I briefly went to get a bin for the leaves). I feed the sheep after work and think about checking on the hens for a half beat before I remember they’re no longer out there. The coop is deathly quiet now.  It’s even noticeable at night, when they’d normally be quiet anyway, roosting for the night; my coop full of contented hens is no longer there and it’s almost ghostly.

It’s ridiculous how many tears I’ve cried, not realizing until they were gone how they infiltrated my life so completely. I knew I would miss them, but I didn’t know that virtually everything I did outside would be permeated with their loss, even as it was filled with their presences before. I don’t know why I didn’t expect this; perhaps because I never imagined this scenario. Even now, looking out my office window as I type, the vacant run is still and the emptiness is wrenching. I used to look out at them as I worked here, a moment’s respite from my labors at the computer, reflecting or looking for a word, thought, or sentence in my mind as I watched them being all chickeny, happy in their little chicken lives, providing me with entertainment and solace, de-stressing me with their calming, bucolic presence. Plus, eggs.

I’ve tried to rationalize it every which way, knowing that I had to do this for my health, that it’s for the best, that it will save me money at the feed store, that it be easier to have fewer animals to care for (whatever), but nothing is breaking the desolate void of not having them. Except my heart.

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*I’d withheld three hens for a woman on a local FB group I belong to, who’d expressed interest in them; they went to their new home on Tuesday morning, plus one who’d escaped on Sunday.

Catching up

I haven’t been here in a while, and my last few posts were sporadic.  But no posts doesn’t mean nothing going on – far from it.  I’ve been busy, and distracted both consciously and unconsciously.  A lot has been going on here at the farm, and a lot in life in general.  Let’s start with the farm…

August turned out to be a nice month, with beautiful weather that included blistering heat (a local fund raising dog walk in town had me dripping sweat, literally) and a preview of fall at the same time.  I had the excitement of a new visitor to the property, too.  While I didn’t see or meet the visitor, it was obvious by the trail of destruction that I had a black bear come through one evening.  There was enough damage to the fence, and raids on the chicken feed, bird feeder and a check of the garbage bin (empty – I don’t fill it until pickup day), then the “calling card” down by the driveway gate (at first I thought “when did Cutter come down here…and what has he been eating?”) before I put it all together.  I’d heard the branches cracking as s/he tramped through the underbrush – for some reason I thought it was deer (which can be surprisingly noisy). The late night potty run had Farley out back barking furiously, but it was 18 hours before I realized he probably scared the beast off, mid-snack.  Good boy.

So, no more bird feeder, which is a huge attractant for bears.  I’m seriously bummed, as I’ve had a bird feeder up in every house I’ve lived since I was 10 years old.  But I don’t want to habituate a bear by providing and irresistible snack, either.  The birds will be fine – there’s plenty of food around for them; a feeder just brings them close so I can watch them.  I was getting Black-headed Grosbeaks regularly, and plenty of chickadees and Steller’s Jays too. 

In mid-August I added another canine to my pack.  Maybe not the smartest move, and initially I tried to find him another home, but he’s here to stay.  He’s another English Setter that I found on my regular Craigslist perusals.  He was in a home that kept him outside on a tether 24/7 and they realized it wasn’t the best for him.  I picked him up on a Saturday and had him neutered the following Friday.  The Rottweilers pretty much ignored him.  Farley didn’t like him.  The cats hated him.  But his effervescent personality fizzed through all of us and he’s here for good.  He just turned one year old in October and he and Farley run the property like nobody’s business.  I love watching them run, and love that they patrol things.  His name was Pal on his papers, but the people who had him were calling him Rascal.  I knew I wouldn’t be calling him Rascal as I’m a great believer in the meaning of names (the people who had him believed him a rascal, and he was…for them).  While I contemplated several names (Hadley being one), the one that rose to the surface was Pal (part of his FDSB registered name).  He’s Farley’s pal, and he’s a happy little sprite.  He’s all puppy sometimes, but a very good boy considering I’m his third home in less than six months (four if you count the breeder’s home, too).  We need to get into obedience training, but for now we’re just having fun. 

So I added little Pal to the canine gang; and he’s a great little guy, but I already have three dogs.  I’m moving rapidly into hoarder territory, it seems.  You do NOT want to see the chaos inside my house, but I’m nowhere near the feces on the floor, newspapers stacked to the ceiling, decomposed dead cat in the closet stage yet.  And no sign of that any time soon, either.  I jest, of course, but living with four large dogs and three cats in a small home really does test your tolerance levels.  The floors are almost never clean (especially when one geriatric dog has urinary incontinence, and the other sometimes forgets to finish pooping when he’s outside, and the two youngsters revel in dirt and mud, and running in the door with unadulterated joy fresh from a dip in the “pond” (swampy human-made version).  The cats add their two cents with grass puke and the occasional litter box “miss.”  Which all makes it sound as if things are worse than they are…or not.  I could vacuum and mop every day, but that’s too Sisyphean for me to deal with.  I keep up, but just barely.  And what’s a little dirt and hair between friends, right?

September brought five new mouths to feed.  Planned of course…sort of.  And by eating, they’re working to keep things in check.  I’m talking sheep, of course.  I had the pasture fenced off, with two gates put in – a local fellow, Rob, did a great job on the fence – and the sheep moved in at the end of September.  Three of the sheep were wethers from a gal just over the hill who just wanted to place them in a new home.  The guy who mowed my pasture in June told me about them and put me in contact with her.  They are Black Welsh Mountain Sheep and spent the summer at my friend Susan’s farm, mowing her steep pastures (too steep for the horses), and the pasture over her septic drain field (horses will compact and essentially wipe out a drain field).  They did a great job, but it was time to move to my home.  I knew I wanted Shetland sheep, and found a couple of ewes on Craigslist (Must. Stay. Off. Craigslist.).  I picked them up the same day we moved the boys from Susan’s, so I went from zero to five overnight.  And I love it! 

I can’t believe how “right” it feels to have them here, munching the pasture and blackberry brambles 24/7 (they eat ALL the time).  The three boys are fairly friendly, with Bo (yes, in my unimaginative naming I called him Rambo, because he’s most likely to butt the dogs) the leader.  Conan, the hornless one (scurs only, probably because he was castrated as a lamb), was named by the previous owner’s child.  I kept the name but I call him Coco – which fits him, as he’s the color of dark chocolate.  And the third is Curley, as his horns kind of flare out.  He’s the shyest of the three boys, but in that is tons friendlier than the older of the two Shetland ewes, Cinnamon (I’m telling you, no imagination – Cinnamon Latte, for her color, which is called moorit by the Shetland people).  She’s super skittish and keeps a good, safe distance away from me at all times.  The little one is Pebbles – named by the previous owners kids – and seems to be stunted.  She’s almost 8 months old and still only about as big as a Springer Spaniel.  She’s adorable, and makes more noise than the other four put together.  She’s pretty friendly, but has become more wary of me since I grabbed her one day to pull some blackberry vines out of her wool.  It was a bit of a wrestle and now she won’t let me pet her much.  Oh well. 

At any rate, they’re doing a great job on the pasture, and now I’m working on (well, I’ve hired Rob again) building a sacrifice or confinement area, to pull them off the pasture (in order to rest it and give the forage a chance to recover) and give them shelter from the weather, too.  Updates soon – promise!

The stuff of life

How can one person have so much stuff?  It’s been five weeks here at the new place (that was a fast month!) and I’m still only about 2/3 unpacked.  It’s a space issue, primaily. I’m downsizing inside while upsizing (is there such a word?) outside.  I’m losing a bedroom, a laundry room, a bathroom, and the kitchen/living room/dining area (a combined space) in my new place is smaller than just the kitchen I sold in 2007.  Yes, there’s a twinge there, not regret really, but it would be nice to have a wee bit more room in the kitchen. 

I am much happier though, with a smaller kitchen and home than the larger kitchen and nice home with the neighbors building on the property line and the lack of privacy.  I’m sitting in my office now, with the dark outside complete and no weird feelings about the window being uncovered (blinds are up).  The last “stranger” I saw out there was a bobcat, early one Saturday morning a few weeks ago.  How cool is that?!!  Now that’s my kind of neighbor!

So we’re all loving it, inside and out.  Is it perfect?  No.  But it’s a great place to be for the next few years, with tons of potential.  The to do list gets longer every week, with roofing, fencing, and appliances being the top priorities.  I already got the fridge, and knew I’d have to replace the cooktop.  After I moved in I realized the oven didn’t work.  So far I’ve been making do with the microwave and the two working burners on the cooktop, but I’ll have to get an oven at some point.  Oh, and windows.  Almost all the windows (and there are a lot of them, for such a small place) are single pane, and need to be replaced with something that won’t lose so much heat (the furnace can’t keep up some evenings). 

I’m still surrounded by boxes in every room.  Slowly but surely I’m going through things, unpacking and sorting and often moving items out to the garage.  I’ve taken several boxes to Goodwill (donation) – clothing and household items – and have more to go.  I’ve been posting things on Craigslist and getting great responses; I recycled all my moving boxes to others who needed moving boxes and my futon frame went last week.  My dishes didn’t get much response (service for 8), so I’ll probably donate them to Goodwill too.  I have a dresser with a bad leg I’ll post on craigslist and my oak pedestal dining table and chairs as well.  By then I should have room to park the car in the garage!  Well, maybe after the dump run (futon mattress!). 

I have boxes and boxes of books to unpack, and my shelves are already filling up.  The office here has one wall with built in bookshelves, floor to ceiling (love this!) and I’ve already filled it.  I have at least a half dozen more boxes of books.  Time to do some culling, I think.  The local bookstore had an ad looking for used books, so maybe I’ll see if they want some of the books I don’t really need.  Or won’t read.   Really, it’s been 14 years since I bought Frank McCourt’s first book, Angela’s Ashes, new in hardcover and I still haven’t read it.  And I never did make it all the way through Cormac McCarthy’s Border Trilogy, and probably never will.  His lack of punctuation irritates me – tons of dialogue and not a quotation mark to be seen.  I suppose we should be grateful he deigns to use periods, commas, and question marks.  I struggled through All The Pretty Horses, and got partway through Cities of the Plains.  The Crossing remains completely untouched.  It’s not as if his stories are cheery or uplifting either, however well written they may be. 

Well, obviously I’ve already pulled some books for the bookstore.  As soon as I get unpacked and settled a bit more I’m going to start painting.  Not only is the wall color in most rooms disconcerting (a coral-y red in the bedroom and bathroom), but the paint job is horrid, with incomplete areas over the doors, as well as areas that need clean up and repair (looks like a child lived here at some point – drawing on the walls).  I’ve been picking out paint chips and am looking forward to tackling this job in the summer. 

The search.

I’ve been house hunting for almost 18 months now.  Not all of the 18 months has been an active hunt, to be sure, but I’ve been in search of a new nest since the summer of 2007.   It’s been an interesting time.  I sold my place in Issaquah (okay, if you must: Sammamish – blehimg_0048) and split the proceeds with J., as we agreed we would when we went our separate ways 15 years prior.  It was a good decision.  As much as I loved the place, it was time–I’d lived there over two decades, nearly half my life, and it was time to move along. 

Timing couldn’t have been better; the real estate market peaked in my area in July of 2007 (the month it went on the market, after three months of hard work from J and M, and me, to get it into a high curb appeal).  We had two solid offers in six weeks, and were signing on the dotted line in September.  Wow.  I found an amazing place to rent (Craigslist ROCKS) that allowed me to take the three canines, two felines, and 13 laying hens (not to mention the box turtles and the parakeet).  And the search for a place of my own to buy was on.

The only hitch is where?  I’ve been working on honing that issue, and still feel conflicted and undecided.  “The right place will show up.”  I know that, and trust that it will, but where? 

To be continued…

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