Cave Woman

It’s dusk — 6:30 this week — I’m walking Ruby to the end of our 3/4 mile-long dead-end dirt road, and we see the young coyote at the same time.  It’s alone, small, grayish brown with big pointy ears and a beautiful long bushy tail.  We stop.  Ruby bristles.  I’m breathless as it trots a few more steps toward us, 50 yards away.  They rarely get this close.  It sees us, pauses to consider, and turns into the woods.

The next day on our walk, the Bearded One and I meet the neighbor who lives where I saw the coyote.  She has alpacas and a night-time “Critter Cam” which she tells us has recorded lots of coyote pups recently — an ultrasound in the dark belly of the forest.  The pups were born last spring, so they are 6 months old now and in training to hunt for their own food and make their own dens.  “I heard about your bear sighting,” the Bearded One says, referring to a conversation at the men’s table last weekend at the neighborhood barbecue.  He wants a Critter Cam now.  Something bit off one of our blueberry bushes and hauled it away.  “Yep,” says our neighbor, “it’s that time of year.”

We get back home and are both seized with winter preparations.  The Bearded One insulates the pipes on the water faucets up at the barn and the poultry palace.

Insulated water faucet down to 18 " deep frost line. Six chicks in photo are the two Steves (on the left), Spot and Blackie, and Marilyn. Dusty barely made it in on the far right, and Tux is off eating somewhere. He's always off eating somewhere.

The Seven Chicks, who are now 4 weeks old and gigantic, fluff their feathers out on cold rainy days as they peck away at any unprotected styrofoam insulation.  One book said that they wouldn’t peck at it, but the neighbor who gave us the chickens, aka Mother Goose, rolled her eyes and assured us they’d peck it to smithereens.  She was right.  The Bearded One covers up all the low-lying insulation with pieces of old siding.

Kimber, the den mother, puts the chicks to bed in the nest boxes now.  Each night she chooses a different one, they all fly up to the perch or walk up the plank, and then all eight of them cram in.  I wonder how long they’ll be able to fit into just one.

Curtain call. The cloth at the top is attached to the roof lid which is on hinges. Good night, chicks. It's 5:30 pm.

To help keep the flock warm, we’ve decided to use a red heat bulb.  The ceramic ones, according to the guy at Ace Hardware, could catch fire because of the coils.  The red light won’t, he said, throw off the chicken’s day-night cycle.  We will check with Mother Goose on that, but she’s already told us they use a red-lense heat bulb.

The chicks, specifically Dusty and Tux, have begun to butt chests and flap wildly at each other.  Pretty obvious they are roosters.

Chicken people call young roosters cockerels, and young hens pullets, so I suppose I should, too, now that I’m a chicken-person-in-training.  I still haven’t picked one up — any gesture toward them makes them run like I’m coming at them with a steak knife — but I have gotten them to come around my feet as I give them my homemade bread and, most especially, corn. 

A rain storm this weekend knocked the corn over, so we decide it must be harvest time in the Companion-Planted garden (corn, pole beans and pumpkins), at least for the intertwined corn and beans.

We pick a heaping five-gallon bucket of corn and a pile of pole beans, which I’ve put in the barn to dry.  I’ll add the bush beans to them in the next week or so — the leaves are starting to turn yellow — and then let them all dry for a few weeks before I shell them.  Even then, I’ll have to put them in the dehydrator for a few hours, to completely dry them in this wet climate.  I’m going to try drying some of the corn, too.

Bingo pole beans drying on barn floor. Usually I wait 'til the leaves turn yellow, but the corn they were trellised on fell over and had to be harvested. The beans look ready enough, though.

But first, I’m painting our bedroom and bathroom, fortifying my own winter place with color.  “It’ll look like a cave, woman,” the Bearded One says when I show him the dark brown paint color I chose for our bathroom.  He is skeptical.

I look out the window.  Change is in the air.  It’s the Equinox and the New Moon, too.  Dark and cold are coming and are here.  I hear the coyotes howling.  I see the distinctive little handprints of raccoons in the dew on the deck in the morning after their thumping around in the cat condo last night.

It's a cave, man.

Yes, Townsend Harbor Brown, that’s what I want.  White paint is so overrated, so 1980s.  Forget all this “light and bright” real estate talk.  Give me a warm, dark brown place.  “It’s not just a bathroom,” I say, making my sales pitch to the Bearded One, “it’s a cave.”


11 responses to “Cave Woman

  1. Oh, the love and affection in that last stick drawing! I like the color of the bathroom a lot. What winds they were, huh, just a few days ago!

  2. I like the color of the bathroom too. It’s like chocolate. Hot chocolate on a cold day sounds about perfect! I love this issue, and the pictures and drawings. Superb! Sending my love to you, Keith, and all the assorted creatures of the Farmlet!

  3. Why two Steves??? Seeing Coyote means a discernment between “wisdom and folly”… stick people now in color? And now Farmlet comes straight into my email, cool!

    • Hi Suzanne, the Steves are identical chicks, and they became the two silent brothers on the old Bob Newhart Show — “This is my brother, Steve, and my other brother, Steve.” One is wise, one is folly.:) And yes, the Bearded One has used yellow and red and green, but this is the first stick man with blue. About the email, do you mean the Follow button? WordPress sent notice that it would be more palpable to people to Subscribe if they called it Follow. Subscribe makes people think of purchasing something. Following is more what happens with blogs. It’s a way to remind and notify people that a new issue is up, but some people don’t want more email. I’m glad you want to read it however you get here! Love you, ck

  4. Mama banty and the chicks are getting so very big !
    I didnt realize it had been 3 weeks already since I last visited the brood……..glad to see you guys are doing so well at chicken parenting! They are turning out to be beautiful little birds.
    Love always Momma Goose

    • Thank you, Momma Goose, for everything! The chicks are beautiful, and all Seven are still alive and flappin’. I look forward to our next visit, and a lesson on catching the little sweeties.:) Love, ck

      • Lorie and Keith

        Hey guys, turkey processing time is coming up and we have reserved the equipment for the weekend of the 21st.
        Keith has to work Saturday, so it may just be the boys and I out there.
        We also have reserved a turkey for you guys to keep if you would like. We can process it this month or closer to Thanksgiving, your choice.

      • Wow, thanks, Lorie! I’ve got the date on our calendar and we would both like to help, and thanks for the turkey, too. Just email or call when you know when you’d like us to be there.

  5. Christine Widman

    I have returned from my 10 day trip to the NW. I’m still savoring our life conversation, the Godiva Speaks poetry evening & seeing you in that fantastic purple skirt.
    I saw a young coyote on my run yesterday. His delicate elegance stopped my breath. I love coyotes. It feels primeval – goes directly to my body heart. Perhaps my particular Cave Woman DNA?

  6. And now I’m back after a week in the NW, seeing the Farmlet and you and the Bearded One.
    All the chicks are big and beautiful. The goats are fun and funky. The Farmlet is as enchanting as a Medieval painting where everyone is working and playing and planting and praising. Humans and animals in a small world together of meaningful engagement.
    My day with you has become a heart memory.
    PS How large are the pumpkins now? I’m sure Hansel, Gretel, & Batman are already measuring for their Halloween Jack-o-lanterns.
    PPS I’m still swooning over the taste on my tongue of your sun-warmed marionberries.

    • Your visit was wonderful for me, too, Christine. You found an egg!

      One of the pumpkins is a green basketball, but most are softball to volleyball size. They inflate more each day. Each HOUR actually! Hard to say which is growing faster, the pumpkins and zucchini or the new meat bird chicks. September is officially fall, but we have some of our most beautiful, clear warm days now.

      Thanks for your loving words…:)

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