Clearing my mind

The last few days I’ve felt a growing sense of anxiety. So much to do. Worrying about things I can’t control. And worrying about things I can.

Will I be able to physically do the things I need to get done? I am hoping so. A visit to my surgeon a few weeks ago ended with him draining another couple cyst like things from my axilla and giving me a nice big steroid injection and so far I have had some relief. Still I can’t do many things I once could. And still I push to do as many things as I can. So much I leave in others hands. That’s hard for me too.

I think the issue is also mental. I forget so many things. I get overwhelmed and I get mad that I forget things. I forget to check my calendar and my notes app where I write so many things.

Today the cell phone repair guy showed up around 1pm. I had completely forgotten he was coming. I hadn’t even checked the calendar and I had put something else as a priority. Thankfully we were home. He came for my sons broken phone screen but if we hadn’t been home he likely wouldn’t have heard the door. Well anyway that worked out.

Other days I don’t get so lucky and one thing or another is forgotten or lost or a new fire shows up that needs to be put out ASAP.

My mind needs a break.

Yesterday wasn’t rainy – as so many days here seem to be. It was breezy and cold but sunny so I took off to walk on the lane to clear my mind.

It takes me half the walk to stop thinking about all the crap that I need to get done. I stop along the way and take photos. I listen to the shifting breeze. I listen to the quiet. I play some Coldplay on my phone for a bit.

I brought my dog Rudy and I watch him Focusing himself on the walk at hand. The smells and eating gross things. He just is in the moment.

And finally so am I. I feel the angst leave even if for just a while. My spirit lifted.

I have more energy for the day. And more patience. I feel happiness. I get a lot done.

Why -I think to myself – don’t I just get out and get into the natural world every morning. I need so habit. Something that centers me. Otherwise the day gets away from me.

My thoughts are not like they once were. They used to be in order – do this and then this and then that. Now they can start anywhere. It’s the difference between a straight line drawn on a board with a few blips, and squiggles drawn all over the board. My mind is squiggles. Maybe this is the meds I take , aging , a result of all the surgeries I’ve had to have over the last few years – who knows.

Anyway Clearing my mind helps get the line straighter.

It’s just a matter of making that a priority.

Anyone seen the Pied Piper?

Rats – they bit the Babies in their cradles, and ate the cheeses out of the vats, and made nest inside men’s Sunday hats….

That was a line from a play I was in when I was about 7 years old- way back when I was in a private all girls school. I don’t recall much of the plot but I do recall following whomever it was that played that part of the piper out of the auditorium. I think it was an adult and I was a rat (I’ve been called worse.).

Anyway this line from the play comes to me now daily (amazing what we can recall from our childhood) bc we have rats! Rats! In the chicken enclosure. Lots of them. I’ll call it what it is – an infestation.

And they are cute rats. Well ..until you see the tails. They kind of gross me out.

I’m told rats and chickens kind of go hand in hand. And since we have been here 7 plus years now I will agree. I had seen a rat once or twice over the years. And that was after we got chickens. When we moved in there were those rat poison feeder things all over. That should have been for-warning that rats had been here prior to our moving in.

But before I ever saw a rat I got barn cats. Three of them. And I’m thinking this might be why I only saw a few rats here in all those years and now I’m seeing so many. We don’t have a barn cat now. One retired across the street at our neighbors home where he chose the cushy life of an indoor cat who sometimes gets some outdoor time. – and the others have passed on.

I never thought the cats were controlling the rat population because I never saw a rat carcass. I only saw mice and birds left for me in the center Aisle of the barn. Someone even told me cats won’t kill rats but maybe they kill the little ones? I don’t know. But it seems like the population explosion here kind of coincides with the loss of our last cat last November.

Yesterday afternoon I caught motion out of my right eye as I was feeding the chickens and ducks meal worms. I figured it was a rat. Hubby Kevin had recently seen a couple rats looking at him from their holes in the ground -so he got some poison safe for other critters and poured it in the hole. I wanted to avoid the coop for a while because I didn’t want to see dying rats dragging themselves around my paddock and coop area.

See I hate killing things and Kevin -Bless him – knows this. So he tries to spare me from it and maybe his attempts at killing which included the poison and flooding their holes were half-hearted. After all we had only seen a few rats. But the other day Kevin saw one gallantly walking to the coop from the barn. I found a bag of chicken scratch chewed open and it’s contents spread across a work table in the barn. My son Zach reported seeing some rats in the coop. He would spray them with water to scare them off. Hmmm….I began to wonder if maybe we had more than we originally thought. And they are getting bold.

So back to yesterday. I saw the movement under the coop and figured it was a rat looking out at what I was tossing to the chickens. We have two coops and two chicken enclosures for two different flocks and I didn’t think any rats were in this enclosure but I guessed maybe they moved here after the Flood. You know the one hubby Kevin created by spraying the hose into their holes.

Only I would take photos and video of my rat problem! See they are kind of cute!

Well I was curious and I walked over to a covered run that extends out of the coop and leaned down and peeked in and what I saw was like fours sets of eyes looking at me and some busy critters jumping into and out of the coop where we have the food. And they weren’t chickens. Rats!


We all just stared at one another and then I began counting and holy of all things holy we have a problem! Darn it. I began looking at those cute little rats with their little ears and wiggly noses – they are so cute – well not the tails. Why are the tails so creepy?

The rats just kept doing what they were doing which was stealing my chickens feed and not caring I was there- and the little ones kept staring at me. Very brazen. The chickens are either fearful of them or used to them dining in their house.

Let me just stop here and say that my rats though a huge problem because of the sheer numbers of them are not the rats you see in the city. These are country rats and not the giant dumpster divers you see in the city. Country rats are not as bad as city rats. They hang in barns and chicken coops just getting into food not trash cans (though i suspect if they had a dumpster they might dive in it.) Anyway country rats aren’t as gross as city rats. I say this all in jest it but I kind of believe it. Do you like my rationalization here?

I thought back to the tale of the Pied Piper- could I get them to follow me to a safe place. Though I think in the real tale they are led to their deaths. In my grade school tale they were just led “out of town” because you know … little Kids. (I’m adding this link to the summary of the Pied Piper story. It’s scary… maybe I wasn’t a rat maybe I was a kid. But why did we do that play in 2nd grade. The ways of the world in 1970! Let’s freak the kids out! Here is the link.)

But I don’t think my fantasy can work and I think there are way toooo many for humane trapping. Like I want to say I saw maybe 10-15. Maybe more. I know… some of you experts will say -oh there are more. I know. (Insert sheepish grin emoji here. )

And when so many people would have run at the mere mention of rats I don’t. Ok if one got too close I might have run because of rabies fears. They don’t scare me like a big spider does. Gah. I even thought maybe I could hand feed them some of the meal worms I was doling out. Ok – No I didn’t but See how I am? I will not be party to their deaths. But killing them is what is coming. This is not a job for hubby Kevin – I’m calling in the big guns. Let them kill my rats.

I got online to my Carroll County farm exchange Facebook page and asked for exterminators names for rat infestations and got the name of one who uses safe products to get rid of them. We will be calling them asap.

Poor rats. They don’t know what’s coming. But It has to be. I may have actually spoken to them and told them to pack their bags. I have a tendency to talk to all animals. So now you know some more of my crazy. But we all have some crazy. At least I know they don’t really understand me!

Now I have to re-design our feeders. We (aka hubby) had recently made some out of PVC pipe and placed them in the coop. I now realize this has to be reworked. I don’t need food in the coops. Food can mean rats dining there. Having the rats in and out of there is not good at all. So back to the drawing board.

And I think it might be time to get some more barn cats.

I’ll keep you updated.


If you are at all curious take a look at this video. You will see rats and some chicken poop -so don’t look if you can’t take either of those.

When I’m 54 

Five four

Fifty four. Today I’m 54. 

19710 days alive on this earth. This beautiful, wonderful, terrible, scary, joyful, glorious, sad, happy earth.

That seems like so many days. That number is big. That’s 2808 mondays, tuesdays etc. that I’ve been around for.  I was thinking today that I missed a few of those days or most of one or two or so – but that was during college and I needed a recovery day. Wink wink.

So many days. Each one different. Each one with surprises and joys. Some with hardship and pain. 

But then I was thinking I’ve had 54 (almost Christmases) , that doesn’t seem like that many. And only 54 birthdays. That doesn’t seem like that many right? 

If we are lucky we could get 100 birthdays. That 36,500 sunrises/sunsets. But we don’t know how many days we have so I don’t want to take any for granted but I will. I’ll waste some. Some days I might not feel good. Some I’ll just be so crammed with things that I won’t take time to even register it. It’s life it’s what we do. But some days I will turn to face the wonder of this world. It’s easy to focus on the bad stuff but there is such wonder. 

Did you know that otters sleep holding hands? So stinking sweet? 

Or caterpillars completely liquefy as they transform into moths? What? 

Or two-thirds of the people on earth have never seen snow! Wow they need to see it, feel it, it amazing ( and cold!)

Or hummingbird weighs less than a penny? I knew this only because I saved one once and I’ll never forget it. It was a moment I didn’t take for granted. A magical moment. 

Thank you 54. Thank you 19710 I’ve learned so much….

And your welcome for the fun facts ….

Have an awesome day -I’m going to eat cake…:) 


Fun facts credit: 

Doing the Mundane

You never appreciate doing boring laborious chores more than when you have been unable to do them for so long. For me my weekend was filled with fun everyday boring stuff and I’m so glad I was able to participate. I still had some pain but often forgot about it as I kept busy. I’m sore as heck even two days later. My muscles are still getting stronger after being laid up for so long. But I’m feeling good and I’m happy.

So let me bore you with my mundane weekend. For me it was not a bore. It was bliss. 

There was Friday night dinner out -with my mom and my hubby as my dates. 

On Saturday there was a little butterfly watching as we began to spread sand over the dirt and stone of our chicken enclosure. 

We worked. The boys shoveled over four yards of sand and since I still can’t shovel  (maybe I’ll be able to rake again someday!) I moved sand along with my feet and that proved to be a great workout. 

We had time for a little communing with the animals. 

And fixing a Rooster with bumblefoot. 

And I have to share Kevin with his new gas powered power washer. He loves it. 

And we did  a large amount of gardening. We created a lovely area. 

My work posse didn’t want their photo taken but I bribed them with ice cream. It pays to have an awesome ice cream shop minutes from our house! I am So very thankful that my two sons worked so hard all weekend with me and even did shifts at their “real” jobs.  

(Look how tall they have gotten!) 

And of course we communed some more. 

We sanded and gardened our way through the weekend. I spent it with two usually surly sixteen year olds but somehow they were gracious and hard working. Maybe they also got the brevity of the moment. I was doing normal things again. Maybe they didn’t get it. But I sure did -and as I worked I kept marveling at what a blessing it was to put my hands in dirt again and work with the animals.  This is a part of me I’ve missed -being able to do work -I couldn’t shovel at all or lift much-but I did use the hand trowel and planted some plants.  Yes I did a lot of pointing and telling people where I wanted stuff but I spread sand with my feet and tended to a hurt chicken. I groomed my horses and I sat and enjoyed being with them. There is much I can’t do still -but there is much I can do and thats the gift. And for that I’m so grateful. 

Where I come from. 

I love cities. I love the pulse of them and the way you can walk to the shops and restaurants. I love the way the local people go about their lives while me -the visitor -watches them like they are a species. Maybe they are -city people. 

I was a city person for a short while. I lived in Boston for about a year in my twenties. I was part of the hustle and bustle. I walked to shops and I took the T down town to work everyday. I learned how to get on that T ( the Boston subway) – pushing my way in at rush hour -holding on tight to the silver rail or pole that spanned each car – packed in like sardines- and snagging a seat of it became available. And God help is if we had train trouble. Or another train had trouble. Being stuck in a train car like a sardine with no lights and no AC is a bitch. I can’t believe I didnt claw my way out when those things happened. I could not deal with that now. 

What I came to realize in the years since I left the city is that I was really a poser. I was not a city person. I was pretending to be one. 

While I lived in the city I took every opportunity to get out of it. Visiting the Cape, Martha’s Vineyard, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine. All of those visits involved camping and/or riding bikes all over those areas. We were on beaches and in the mountains. The city was where I worked and lived but it was in nature that I truly felt alive. 

When I flock to the city now I always gravitate to the parks or to the water. In Baltimore I love Fells point -bc it’s kitschy -but also because it’s on the water. I never stay long in the city. Just long enough to enjoy watching the real city people  -and maybe some of them are posers like I was. But I always leave to come home here to this little farm because I’m from Nature. Nature called me and she won. 

I’ve always found solace and peace in nature. I think we are drawn to what can balance us. And since I’ve been young I’ve been drawn to trees and the forest and to rocks and water. 

When I was a kid we had a small line of woods near our house and I had a special place I went to that was private but so close to the house I could see our backyard fence just feet away.  There was a big rock there and I could sit there and think -my hands running over the cold, smooth surface. There was a dirt path that led up through the woods. Houses flanked both sides. I could run up the path and pretend I was on my horse exploring strange lands. I could see the kitchen lights of our neighbors windows as evening fell. I’d walk in the house after being gone for hours.  Nobody worried. It’s just the way it was back then. 

“I’m going to the woods” was on my lips and came out of my mouth thousands of times during my childhood. I travelled alone or in packs with my neighborhood friends. I was known as the one who always fell in the creek. Sometimes it was by accident and sometimes it wasn’t.  I’d come home in soggy Danskins. Cold and wet but happy.  

I’m sure I escaped to the woods back then to escape the chaos that was part of my household. But it was more than that. It was like I felt more at home outside in the woods than I did indoors. 

I rode horses on Saturday’s at a farm 45 minutes from my suburban home. It felt like another world and I was so happy when I was there. I was sure I was supposed to be part of that world and not part of the confines of suburbia. I think I knew then where my heart wanted to be. 

My dad never liked farms. To him they didn’t represent the ideal world he had in his mind. He was kind of an inside the box thinker. I lived outside. And I followed my heart a lot even if it didn’t always work out. I’m the The Road less travelled type of girl – dad not so much. 

 I remember my dad taking us every so often to the Catoctin mountains about an hour outside where I lived. I loved going on those excursions with my dad. We would hike some. Then he’d drive around inside the pretty park. Once we took our dog and she puked in the car on the way there. Once or twice after visiting the park we stopped at a hamburger place in Thurmont , Md right outside the mountain park and we’d have small square hamburgers at this cute little restaurant. I always loved small towns and always wanted to live in one –and now I do. Those trips were special. My dad seemed more at ease, more focused and friendlier. Except for the time the dog puked in the car. 

 After my dad moved to Florida he would come North for fall and one year we went back to the Catoctins. He was excited to share that time with my kids. He travelled to Colorado regularly and the year before he died he took a bus trip across Idaho and into Montana and beyond. He took a cruise on the Rivers of France. That was so outside his comfort zone going outside the USA -but I’ll bet being on the water was enticing to him. 

 My dad also loved the beach. He lived the last years of his life on a small island on the Gulf side of Florida. As kids My family spent years going to the Maryland and Jersey shores every summer. He taught me how to ride waves. We ate Taylor burgers together from our favorite dive on the boardwalk on the jersey shore. 

Sometimes I am amazed at how similar we were. He just never saw it and I don’t think I did until he was gone. I wish it didn’t take death for me to see this similarity -I always looked for our differences. And we had a number of them but we both loved the beauty of the world. 

Sometimes he was the chaos I ran from to the woods to find the calm I craved -but maybe in his life he was running from the chaos inside himself. Maybe nature called to his heart like it does mine. 

It’s hard to walk into a canopy of trees and not feel enveloped in a hug from something not of the human world.   Or when you walk on the beach with the sounds of the waves and the gulls how can the heart rate not slow? 

I’m from nature. When I reach out to it it always reaches back and gives me just what I need. No wonder I often sleep with one earbud in with ocean sounds playing on my IPad. Or I crack my window open at night and can hear the snort of a horse and the crow of the roosters in the early morning. Farm sounds for free. 

I live in the country now.  We have neighbors but we have space too. I am 8 miles from a small town that I love -And not too from big cities. My place is here on my farm or at the beach. Or in the woods or at a lake. I am from nature.  

My world has been limited lately. My pain makes it hard to go out anywhere in the car. I hate being cooped up. I’m like a wounded eagle wanting to fly free. 

For now I have the lane next to my house-And the trees beside it and fields surrounding it. I try to walk everyday on the lane. I don’t make it that often but I try. I walk out the door and visit the chickens and ducks. Sometimes I have goodies to feed them. I step onto the lane -sometimes it’s dry, sometimes wet and sometimes soggy but it always calms me. 

If we open our hearts to nature it  will speak to us.  We are all part of the same thing but our humaness is a shield that hinders our connection. Drop the shield and the real world will reach out to us.  

On the lane I talk to God, my dad, my father in law, I pray, if I’m with my husband or one of my teens we chat. I take pictures. How can I have so many pictures of the same place? What a small world I live in. But the that world changes everyday. It is what nature does -it is never the same. 

I stop to take a picture and I’m somewhere else. I’m in the puddle looking at the branches of the trees in the reflection. I’m mesmerized by naked branches. I have so many pictures of the winter tree. 

But for a moment I’m not in pain.  I’m part of that tree. I’m part of that puddle. I’m part of those woods and of the cornfield. 

I come back inside and I’m grounded and whole. 

I am from nature.  

Being part of the farm again. 

For the last two days I have been able to go out and work a bit on our little farm. This is such a big deal for me. I have been unable to do anything for months because of the pain I had. “Had”being a key word. I amstill not pain free after the surgery but I’m able to be part of life again. That’s so huge.  I can’t do that many things physically out at the barn yet but I can do a little and I can give orders! 

It felt good being part of things again. It’s hard to put into words the things I feel right now. I’m such a mix of emotions all the time. But feeling like a normal human again at least some of the time is really awesome.  

I don’t have the stamina yet that I want but it will come. If I do too much I have pain.  I still have some of the pain I hoped would be gone as a result of surgery-but it comes when I do certain things which leaves me with hope that as I gain more mobility with my arm that some of these issues might go. And I’m told it may take a year to heal fully. There is a chance that some of the nerves that were bothered for so long may not heal 100%.  But I’m hoping for the very best outcome. 

But that’s just stuff I don’t want to worry about now. I enjoyed today -being outside with my animals. Just being part of the world again. I came back in before the gale force winds we are supposed to get began. I think it’s blowing away our Indian summer. I’m not looking forward to winter really I’m not a fan of the cold but I’ll not let that keep from being part of my little farm. I’m thankful I’ll be able to go out and enjoy the season. 

I took a number of photos today of basic farm happenings. But to me they are such a gift to be able to be part of such a place. The sights,the sounds, and the smells of a farm. Somehow I feel like farms are part of my soul. There is an amazing comfort for me when I’m on any farm.  I feel it’s where I’m supposed to be.  Well here and the beach and in nature.  I have a large soul I suppose! I’m lucky to have found my places where I can find my center. Some people search a long time for that. 

Hope you enjoy today’s farm photo s. 

Airy my mare

harley my gelding and the horse i ride.

asking for a treat!

the storage area pf our barn . it geta quite a collection of junk and needs to be tidied up periodically

looking out on the back forty. our land is only tonthe fence but i love backing up to preservation land!

molting hen. she is on her way to new feathers.

me standing on manure pile. sums up my life of late!

new 100 gallon water trough w heater!

inside looking out.

winter is here -why am I so surprised? 

I woke up to winter this morning. What? That was a surprise to me. For some reason I was lulled by the warm October and November temps we’ve been having and I began to think winter was still a ways off. My porch mum just died off two days ago(maybe that should have been a sign) My knockout roses are still trying to bloom. It’s like they have been trying to will winter to stay away. I am (we are -hubby included)guilty of being unprepared here for winter. Not a good thing on a farm.

Frozen duck”pond” When the hoses are no good at all that will be the end of the pond fun for a bit.

I should have known it was on the way when I walked out to the barn the other day there was that distinctive nip in the air. I even thought to myself “winter is coming.” I just kept thinking we had time.

Today time was up. An overnight freeze brought us to our senses. We have always planned for winter way ahead. My planning drive being a part of my inner being. This year not so much it seems. In my defense I am über overwhelmed with a crapload of stuff. But I’m still kinda mad at myself for being in winter denial.

I do have a barn loft full of hay but our fields are still the dangerous green that makes our horses crazy for grass and us fighting with grazing muzzles so they can graze in the fields a few times a week. It’s been too nice out.  Winter was not on my mind much. I was still in October or something.  We have been so in denial and we haven’t set up like we normally have for the five winters previously that we have lived on this little farm. And today winter let us know she’s here.

Frozen water. Frozen hoses. That’s the sign and and all it takes for everything else to become clear that we are not ready.  We haven’t set up the heated buckets. We haven’t set up warming lights for the birds. We are going to have to start hauling water from the house BC the pump has a pinhole leak running to it and the cost to replace is huge -though today I’m reconsidering getting it fixed in some way BC it lightens up the workload a ton by alleviating hauling water from the basement.

I am not in panic mode but I am on I better get my butt in gear mode. I have to get some extension cords and a new water bucket to put on top of this cool flat metal disc that keeps the water in the coop from freezing. I need to put some better bedding down in the runs and I wonder if it’s to late to get some stone dust and gravel. I think we are always trying to chase water issues in winter.  We don’t want anything to freeze. Not the pipes not the ground not the water buckets. It’s really all about the water. Then that becomes about electricity. We need electricity to keep some of that stuff from freezing. We worry about footing for the horses- we were supposed to be getting the drainage issue fixed but the company that we hired hasn’t called to say we are on their schedule- I think the ground is too frozen now. It may have to wait for spring. We may have to order a load of stone dust for the paddock – that might help.  Ice and hooves don’t mix. At all.

So today and tomorrow and over the weekend -which is supposed to bring us more of that warmer weather that makes me forget winter – we will be getting prepared. Better late than never. No matter how much I pretend it’s not coming winter is going to be here. Soon. Ok maybe it’s here now.Maybe.

Thanks for reading.


our pump that we installed last year. the pipe to it sprung a leak the second week we had it. we couldn’t afford the fix last winter. but now I am wondering if its time.


The leak to the water pump is hidden under this table so the dogs wont get to it. Today we had the water on 5 minutes bc we needed to get water to the horses so decided to try the pump – and it began to gurgle under the table. sigh…it is always something on a farm!


The prodigal cat returns

You know how when you lose an animal and you might wish from time to time that you could stroke it’s fur again or just look into his eyes one more time? I get that way anyway and when I am feeling those feelings I often get a visit from that beloved pet in a dream. I feel comforted and maybe a bit sad when I wake up. I like to think maybe my pets spirit visited me in my dream and that we are still connected. 

Well this morning my wish came true in real life. Our very first barn cat SHELDON the one we called Shell at first BC we found him at the gas station as a kitten and I misdiagnosed his sex as female -then we realized she was a he and he became Sheldon (deep breathe) he returned! Yes he came back after over TWO years. Closer to three. 

Sheldon was always a wanderer. He shared the barn with our two other barn cats Mango and momma. Sheldon would come and go and sometimes was gone for a couple weeks. Once he was at the neighbors and was stuck in their shed. That time -BC he had been gone a week -we had put flyers in local mailboxes with his photo. He was lucky that the neighbor decided they needed a tool in the dead of winter or he may have been dead. When that door opened Out he shot -the neighbor reported -and home he came. 

We got used to his absences and didn’t get too worried BC they usually only lasted a day or two. Then a weird thing happened. We had gotten chickens and had had them for over a year. At the time they were free range.  I had gotten a new batch and had just let them out to roam free. Well we realized on hen was really a rooster. Sheldon didn’t seem to like this at all. He was the car that would lay on top of the coop and watch all the hens and ducks.  He kind of backed off as the rooster grew.  I never saw an altercation but I did notice that the cat wasn’t watching the hens like he had been. Then one day Sheldon was gone and he didn’t return. We were used to this but his normal time away extended into a week and just as I was considering putting some flyers out again we got a note in our box from a family who found a cat. They lived two houses down and their land touched ours out In our pastures. 

Kevin went over and sure enough there was Sheldon. Kevin brought him home but in three days he left. Maybe he was put off by that rooster. We decided that maybe life was better at the neighbors. They had fed him so yeah there was free the food thing and no chickens and no rooster. So we left it alone. If the neighbors didn’t want him there they knew where he lived. 

Barn cats are an odd bunch. They live a tough life. Our cats (we have had only one for a while) have a big bin of food at their disposal. They don’t have to find food but they do live in our barn. They come and go. Our cat Mango lives a secret life. Sometimes I see her head in the field looking into the crops waiting for some vermin to kill. She lives in the rafters in the barn and on the hay. She loves to be petand gets  overstimulated  and will scratch when you stop. She comes out when she feels like it -she’s her own “person”.   

Over the last couple years since Sheldon has been gone we all wondered about him. We missed him. One day after he had been gone maybe a year my neighbor on the other side of us told me she found a dead cat in her shed. She though it may have been ours. I chose to believe it wasn’t and that he was living at the other neighbors but as time went on I wasn’t so sure. 

The neighbors where we hoped he was living had been in upheaval for a while as the older resident there Lou had been very ill. There was a lot going on there. I often wondered if Sheldon was still there. But we just felt that if he was still alive he had chosen where he wanted to live and I respected that but I sure hoped I would see him again. And today I did! 

I heard the buzz that says I had a new text on my phone at about 6:55 am. I suspected it was my daughter letting me know one of my sons had missed the bus-but instead there was a photo of a cat with a caption “is this Sheldon?”  Holy cat! It sure looked like him. She had to get in the bus but told me he came from across the street and was rubbing up against her. 

I yelled to my son Luke who wasn’t feeling well today and is staying home that Sheldon might be outside. He ran out but didn’t see him. I was still in bed (mom doesn’t get up that early BC mom doesn’t have to catch a bus!) I heaved myself up got in sweatshirt fully determined to find this cat. I open the door and there was Luke sitting on the porch with the cat in his lap. It was Sheldon! No mistaking him as he has a half mustache that is his most identifiable feature. Our cat was back. 

I scooped him up and holy heck he was like lead! I realized our cat had been well taken care of in his absence. He was very friendly but not sure he wanted to be held. I am very allergic to cats but I wanted Kevin to see him. (And I wanted to take him further from the road)   Kevin was training in our gym so I walked in with the cat and the look on Kevin’s face was priceless. 

Sheldon didn’t want to stay in the gym but he was interested in checking out the barn. He didn’t seem to want to run off too quickly. We got to pet him and hug him. And notice how freaking fat he is. We joked that he had been sitting in a cushy window for the last two years looking out at the world getting fat. Then he broke free. We laughed BC he had trouble jumping down from the work table where the cat food is in the barn. A feat that would have been nothing to him a couple years ago. Our boy got soft. Did he even have barn cat sense anymore ?  He didn’t have a collar on but that was no surprise the the couple years he was with us he shook every collar we got him.  We decided finally that barn cats may be safer with no collar. 

Will he stay? I’m not placing a bet on that. I am pretty sure he will go back to whoever has been caring for him after realizing the barn cat life is pretty hard. But maybe I’m wrong       I respect the choices of barn cats (or former barn cats). They are never really “ours”. You can’t make them stay.  But I’m sure glad he came back for a visit at least. It’s like a gift -the chance to touch a being you really missed and it wasn’t a dream. 

Thanks for reading. 

It’s Raining Birds- The Story of Speedy

Last week before we left for the beach my daughter was out running and she texted me a photo of a baby bird..a real tiny baby bird. She found it on the lane right where she was running – almost under her feet. No no! I did not want to become involved in this drama as I was packing to leave for the beach. When injured animals cross my path they become my responsibility to save them, nuture them, or if necessary put them out of their misery (so far I haven’t really had that happen- maybe because i get so hell bent on saving them). So to avoid becoming part of the baby bird on the ground issue I got my husband – Kevin- involved. He would not get as emotionally sucked in.

Since the baby bird’s mom was squawking nearby they decided to make a nest and put the bird in it and set it up in a tree. Lo and behold as they were doing this they found another baby bird. So they set them both in the nest. We let them be. Before we left the next day on vacation my daughter checked them and they were still alive but one looked weak she said. We had to go and I knew that the mom should be feeding these guys as I read on the I left it in Mother Natures hands.

When we returned from the beach last Saturday I had forgotten about it- but then of course I woke up at night that first night back wondering how those baby birds faired.  When that nest was checked both birds were gone. I am choosing to believe that they were ready to leave the nest and they are off in the wild.

On Sunday evening I needed a break from stuff I was doing indoors. The heat had abated some so I took all the dogs out back with their Bag O’ Toys and we began to play. We have a small kiddy pool in the yard so the dogs can take a dip when they get heated and I decided that I better change the water. I headed over to take a look and there in the pool standing in about an inch of water was a little bird- fully feathered but young. It is raining birds here on this little farm. It just looked up at me and didn’t move. Uh oh I thought- this could get ugly if the dogs notice the bird. All stars were in alignment as I was able to get my husband to help and was able to distract the dogs with toys as Kevin went over and picked up the bird. Now I was invested in the bird drama – I had to be – I can’t leave it to look after itself. I never could- I’d be awake all night.

Once out of the yard it hopped out of Kevin’s hands and onto the ground of the horse paddock. Crap! So we ran to the paddock and began chasing this tiny bird around. It could not get airborne but it could run.  I decided to name him Speedy. Oh my Speedy was fast. We were looking like a bunch of fools out there so the horses decided to come out and take a look at what we were doing. Yea- a thousand pounds of horse and hard hooves do not bode well for a little bird. And wouldn’t you know it Speedy may be fast but he did not know about horses bc he ran right under Harley – and seemed to be happy under him by his Feet! I decided I was stronger than Harley and faced him and began to hug his neck hoping he would not step anywhere. Kevin was able to retrieve speedy and we got him out of the paddock- whew. But he jumped out of Kevin’s hands again! He almost ran back into the paddock but we were able to coral him into our gym which is attached to the barn. Speedy was confused and scared. I sent Kevin to get something to put him in. Speedy and I were alone and I was determined to catch him. I turned and nearly stepped on him…he doesn’t get feet at all.  Off came my shoes – not that they would make a difference if I stepped on him but I wasn’t thinking right. Are you tired yet- on the edge of your seats?

I finally caught him and held him in my hands and stroked him. I tried to look at his wings and they did not seem broken. Since I have birds- Chickens, ducks and a cockatiel I kind of know about bird wings. I figured maybe some flight feathers were missing or he was a new flyer. He was very scared the poor thing so I didnt bug him too much. I tried to send good energy and calming vibes to him. We got him into a big box added some bedding – meal worms – seed and water. I tried to get a bit of water into him. He may not have been thirsty as he was standing in water when I found him but I tried but really didn’t make much headway. He seemed very tired and weak – we got him settled and left him in our gym for the night.

Today Kevin went to train a client early and he checked Speedy and thought he wasn’t looking too well. I realized I can nurse chickens and ducks but I am out of my league with a wild bird. So I decided to call the animal sanctuary about 35 minutes from our home. We have brought a few birds to Second Chance Wildlife Sanctuary in Gaithersburg. They take care of many types of animals that have been orphaned or injured. They are wonderful.

I had Kevin go back to get him and bring the box to the truck. He came back to the house and told me the bird was not in the box! And this was a giant box with high sides – an injured bird shouldnt be able to get out of it! Especially a very sick bird as Kevin had said he looked this morning. Where was Speedy? I had my son looking for him and I rousted my daughter while Kevin went to pick up the other son from soccer camp. I found my son searching the gym and as soon as my daughter went in she spotted him. He was hiding near some equipment. So I thought no problemo – we will just corner him and pop him back in the box. Nope…Speedy was not into this plan at all. We chased him around for ten minutes. He was crafty and today seemed much more cunning than he did yesterday. Speedy seemed to be feeling much better- but he still couldn’t fly. He got some loft but was right back on the ground. Finally- whew-after me crawling over a few pieces of workout equipment we cornered him behind some plates (as in plates you use on barbells) and I scooped him up and checked him out- stroked him – and set him back into the box – which we covered lightly this time with a small towel and paper towels.  We really had planned on putting him in a smaller box but I was just happy to have him in something. The good thing was when I peaked at him he looked perky. So that was good I thought.

We loaded Speedy and his box into the SUV and made sure he was secure. On the drive down we heard him move a couple times like he was trying to bust out. I could only imagine his escape and him bouncing around in the car trying to get out. I prayed a prayer to Saint Francis Patron Saint of Animals asking that Speedy stay put. Luckily Saint F was listening today and we made it safely to the sanctuary. It took a little getting in as I had to maneuver the box as my daughter held the paper towels on so Speedy would not try jump out. I don’t think the guy working the desk understood we could have used a hand but no matter they took the box and bird back to the back as I filled out paperwork. It was just a page asking when and how you found the animal etc and your contact info – they will email you if they are able to rehab the bird.

The guy at the desk was super busy on the phone- a rabbit in a window well- an orphaned something in DC(I should have asked what it was)…I found that we were waiting for something to happen but I was unclear as to what. Usually we drop the animal off and leave. I asked the desk guy if we had to wait as I was done filling out the form. He said they were going to look at the bird and let me know what was up… Ok this was really becoming my drama -but really part of me didn’t want to know. Speedy seemed good and I could leave and make up a big story about him living his life out fully after the nice sanctuary people fixed him. But I waited. I heard other birds chirping in the back and I think I heard Speedy chirping back- he had only made a few chirps in the gym. That must be a good sign!

After a bit they told me he was ok but seemed not to be using his foot….he used it earlier- he was like the wind- maybe he hurt it in the car when trying to jump. They said they would keep him and they seemed optimistic that he would be ok. They will email or mail a note if the outcome is good. I didn’t tell him his name was Speedy bc they might decide to keep me more involved if they knew I named him and all. I don’t want to be involved- I did my part right? These birds they have to stop falling in my yard…I just don’t have time for this stuff. Yea I am a hard ass  – uh huh. In the coming weeks, I may or may not be looking out for some email or snail mail from Second Chance – you can guess….Yeah -You go Speedy….

Thanks for Reading…

Speedy (he’s worn out from running) and me- well my hands…

Entrance to the sanctuary’s long drive.

Time away- James Farm Ecological  Preserve. 

Last week we went on our summer beach vacation to our favorite destination- Bethany Beach, DE.  I went on this trek with my hubby, 3 teens, 2 dogs, and my mom.  I decided before we went I wanted to spend the week driving around Bethany and surrounding area – Millville- Ocean View – Frankford – and others – so we could get a feel of where we might want to live one day (hopefully sooner than later) and I just wanted to really see the area. There is a lot to it.

I have been coming to vacation in Bethany Beach for 45 years but I didn’t really know the area very well.  When you have just a short week at the beach it is usually spent sitting for hours by the ocean reading and then hitting a great eating spot for dinner. The area has grown enormously over the years as many people took advantage of Delaware’s low taxes and cost of living. I had not spent a lot of time seeing what was really around bc I was trying to soak up as much beach as I could. This time it was different bc my husband and I really want to live in that area and it is important while visiting to tool around in the car and see what the different areas offer.

So on Tuesday my mom, and husband – Kevin, and I took off in the car and drove and drove for a couple hours. The area isn’t huge so we saw a lot. Armed with GPS and Google maps I navigated(I love to do this so much) us around through different neighborhoods. At one point we came across a park -called the James Farm Ecological Preserve -that I had never seen before. I got out to take a look at the trail maps- I love maps- and I saw that the trails led through some forest to a beach on the Indian River Bay. It seemed like a cool place to hangout so after more neighborhood exploring,  we headed back home to drop my mom off- get some kids and a dog and go back to this park to explore.

The Bethany Beach area (inc. areas to the west of Route 1) has Ocean to the East and two bays to the north and south. Indian River Bay is to the north this bay feeds into the Rehoboth Bay further north and Little Assawoman Bay is to the south near Fenwick, DE. Another great town just north of Ocean City Md. Here is a map link of the Delaware shore so you can get a better feel of the area. The Delaware shore is also home to incredible shoreline state parks(Fenwick Island State Park, Delaware Seashore State Park and Cape Henlopen State Park). These parks have great beaches, fishing and much more. Here is a link to the Delaware state park info.

When we got back to the park it was later afternoon. We picked a trail that was more woodsy. Fifty feet in we were enveloped in trees and the peace of the place was palpable. It was hard to believe that this trail would lead to a sandy beach on the bay!  The walk was lovely and though it seemed like we might be in the woods forever soon enough we came upon the end of the trail and to a boardwalk that had an arrow that pointed to the beach. I think the walk to the beach took less than 15 minutes from the parking lot.  When we walked out to the beach we were met with very shallow water. There were some people just standing way out in less than waist deep water talking…some were collecting oysters. It was pretty cool. With the tide out the shallow area lasted for 50 yards or so. The water was clear so you could see the seaweed floating below along with small fish that jumped in and out of the water. It was peaceful.

I am not sure this is a well know place by visitors to the beach. It was very quiet and empty. A vast difference to the July beach scene on the ocean in Bethany! The best part dogs are allowed anytime. Bethany has a strict no dog rule on the beach from mid-may to end of September. The state parks allow dogs and some of the other Delaware beaches have less stringent rules allowing dogs on the beach before and after main beach hours. So to find this quiet place that allows dogs was great.

We spent about 30 minutes on the beach and then headed back to the car via another more direct trail. All trails were easy flat walks. I plan to visit again but next time with a beach chair, a book, sunscreen, and my dog….

Thanks for reading…..

More about the preserve:

The water was so shallow and you could walk out quite far…I think the deeper water is visible in the photo where the water line is darker.

Looking at the beach from the water. I hope to kayak next time we head to the beach.

The top of the shorter trail that leads to the bay.

The boardwalk trail that leads out to the beach…

Trying to catch the peace of the place…