Posts Tagged ‘Country Living’

Friday Sounds

June 5, 2009

Things I heard today while at home:

Cows mooing in the evening and at night (occasionally it might be our cows, but mostly it’s not)

Frogs, lots of frogs!

Birds singing

Roosters crowing and chickens clucking

Chicks peeping

Cats meowing, growling, fighting

Cars on a gravel road

Babbling creek, if it’s really quiet

Big bumble bees and hummingbirds buzzing, which surprisingly sound the same

Kids playing, fighting


Barn envy

June 1, 2009

Before we moved, Tim drove from Phoenix to Illinois to bring a bunch of our stuff to the new house. Tom and I had only seen lots of pictures of the house and heard descriptions from my sister-in-law, mother-in-law, and a friend of the family who went to see the house. Tim told us that the road right by the house was gravel, which was a surprise to me (even though it should not have been a surprise). He also kept calling the large shed a barn. I argued that it was not a barn, but just a big shed. I was not mentally prepared to move from the suburbs to a place in the country with a gravel road and a barn. Now, about 7 months later, the gravel road is normal and I really wish our shed were indeed a barn. I see all kinds of barns and I want one. I have a serious case of barn envy.

How to attract wildlife to your back porch

April 8, 2009

Here’s how to get a close up view of wild animals:

  1. Move to the country, preferably an area surrounded by woods and a creek
  2. Acquire outdoor cats with purchase of house
  3. Spoil outdoor cats by feeding them soft cat food
  4. Give them more food than they can eat in the evening and forget to bring it inside
  5. Watch the skunks, opossums, and raccoons come by for the free buffet
  6. Learn that the outdoor cats are not at all afraid of skunks or possums (not sure about raccoons yet)

Good Reading

March 27, 2009

Here are some books that I’ve ordered recently. I’m even working on reading some of them, but some of them are just reference type books.

Storey’s Guide to Raising Chickens: Care / Feeding / Facilities by Gail Damerow.

The Chicken Health Handbook by Gail Damerow

Barnyard in Your Backyard: A Beginner’s Guide to Raising Chickens, Ducks, Geese, Rabbits, Goats, Sheep, and Cows edited by Gail Damerow

Storey’s Basic Country Skills by John Storey and Martha Storey

Dirt: The Erosion of Civilizations by David R. Montgomery

Vegetable Gardening in the Midwest by C.E. Voigt and J.S. Vandemark

Critters and gardening

March 23, 2009

One of the fun things about living in the country is that you have to protect your animals AND your garden from critters. It seems that every animal that won’t go for the chickens will go for the vegetables. We need to build a fence around the garden to keep out the deer, rabbits, moles, squirrels, birds, and who knows what else. Those are just the ones I know of for sure. Some of the animals that will be interested in the chickens would also be interested in the garden, too.

Our neighbor, Jeff, has an electrified fence around his garden. He probably has it down in the ground, too. I was just reading that to keep out moles, you need to put fencing down 24″ (about 61 cm). We have lots of moles. I don’t think they are over by where the garden will be, but I am sure it won’t take them long to find some newly plowed, healthy soil full of bugs and worms.

This is just a reminder to myself that I also need to join the nearest community supported agriculture (CSA) farm, just in case we don’t get a lot of our own veggies this year. We have a lot to learn, especially about keeping out critters. I don’t mind sharing with the wildlife, but I also want some for us.

That Darn Deer

March 11, 2009

On our way into town we pass only a handful of houses. First is our neighbor’s place, then the Amish house where there are often clothes hanging on the line. Opposite of the Amish house is Sam’s house. I know his name because we met him once shortly after we moved in. His house is far from the road as ours is, so there isn’t much to see.

After the Amish house is the pig and cow farmer. We haven’t met him yet, but he has pigs and cows ranging together and has a lot of cats. The guy a little further down the road, who happens to be my aunt’s cousin, also has a cat or two, as well as a few horses. There are a few other houses after that, but I mention these houses because of the cats. The cats are always right by the road, it seems. At first, I thought it was just one cat. I always slow down or stop (somewhat suddenly) so I won’t hit the cat. I started calling the cat “that darn cat” and the kids thought it was funny. It turns out that there are several cats, so “that darn cat” evolved into “those darn cats.” Now every time we drive home or to town, we are on the lookout for those darn cats.

One day last week we were on our way into town to go to the YMCA. We were on the four lane highway that takes us into Macomb. It’s not really that busy; it is certainly not like a highway in the city. I say this in advance so that no one will think I am a negligent parent! As we were driving on this highway, we saw a deer right near the road. I slowed down, of course. Hitting a deer is not something to be taken lightly. I am concerned for the poor deer, but even more concerned about my car and the passengers. People can get hurt very badly and even die if they hit a deer. So, I slowed down in case the deer bolted towards the road.

I also wanted the kids to see the deer. We must have a ton of deer on our property, but we never see them. We see their tracks in the snow and the mud. We see their trails when we go hiking and occasionally we hear them. We wake up too late to see them in the morning, I guess. The point is that they are all around us, but we hardly ever see one. So seeing one right off the highway was worth pointing out to the kids.

However, we did more than just look at it. I figured when it saw or heard a car that it would run off towards the woods. It didn’t move towards the road or the woods. I ended up pulling over so the kids could get a good look and so that no one else would hit the deer. I got out of the car to try to scare it away because I didn’t want the doe or any people to get hurt. I got out of the car, but still she did not run away. She just kept munching on the grass right near the road. I stomped my feet, yelled at her, reasoned with her, threw rocks near her. Nothing worked. I was amazed. Finally I got Aidan and Moira out of the car. I held onto Moira’s hand and told Aidan to stay right by the car. We all yelled and stomped to no avail. She must have been hungry or found some really good food.

Anyway, I was standing on the side of a not-busy highway with the kids trying to scare away a wild deer and wishing I had my camera. I thought that the people driving by must have thought we were crazy. I started thinking we were crazy because we could not scare this doe away! Eventually I put Mo back in her car seat and told them we would go and just hope that no one ran into her. Then Aidan asked if he can try to pet her. I told him he could, but to go slowly in case she looked like she would kick or something. He did and he got close enough to pet a deer!

After that I put him in the car and told him to strap himself in so I didn’t have stand near any cars. I got in the car and I beeped the horn. The doe looked up, but didn’t really move. I could tell it startled her, but not enough to get her to move. I tried it again, tapping the horn so it would be a sudden, short sound. After a few times of this, she finally did move off towards the woods. She didn’t go quickly and hadn’t gone far when we pulled onto the highway to continue into town.

It was crazy and amazing. Everyone we told this story to said it was unusual. Now we call that deer “that darn deer.”

Fresh Gravel

February 27, 2009

On Tuesday we got some new gravel for the driveway. I’m not sure yet exactly how many tons of gravel it was, but close to 45 tons, I’d guess. The guy, Fred, who brought it and dumped it said the truck holds about 14-15 tons of gravel, and he brought 3 trucks full. So…. tons and tons of gravel.

I wish I had some pictures of the really bad part of the driveway, but I didn’t think to take pictures ahead of time. I had to take some pictures when Fred went to get another load. So here is what one part of the driveway looked like before new gravel (and this part of the driveway wasn’t that bad, really): 

The lane before new gravel

The lane before new gravel

And here is a view of the lane after some gravel was put down:

Fresh Gravel!

So the lane is much better than it was. Parts of it were just mud. The bad news is that yesterday and today were warm and today was rainy, so some of the gravel is sinking into the ground faster than we would like. Overall, it is much, much better, though. Tim filled in the potholes while Fred was getting another load and that helped, too.

This is one of those things that comes with country living. I think that in the back of our minds we knew we’d have to get more gravel, but just had no idea how soon or how often or how much it would cost. We still don’t know how often it needs to be done, but we will find out! I have a good idea of the cost and it is one reason to select a building site that will not require a long lane (or to think about whether something other than gravel will work).

Why we moved to the country

February 23, 2009

I updated the About page. I didn’t start out intending that page to be about why we moved, but that’s what it ended up being about. So it’s sort of a blog post, but one that should stay in that section of the blog, I think.

I have a post going in my head about why I’m a vegetarian and why I think it doesn’t much sense anymore, at least for me at this point in my life. However, I still have a pretty serious aversion to meat, so that could pose a problem. Anyway, I’ll have to think more and write more about that.

In the meantime, here are some pictures (and some visual evidence for why we moved!):

The view from the front sunroom.

The view from the front sunroom.

In this picture you can see the corn in the distance, as well as a building (it might be hard to pick out, but it has a green roof). That building belongs to our closest neighbor, Jeff. He’s a great guy and we’re glad to have him nearby. Also, on the left, middle part of the picture you can see part of the yard where we are thinking of putting the garden. I’ll write more about that in another post because it’s been quite a lot of thinking and talking to figure out where the garden will go!

Aidan and Moira walking down the lane

Aidan and Moira walking down the lane

That’s Aidan pulling Moira in the wagon. That’s our lane, or driveway. It’s about 3/10 of a mile long. Near the house there is grass on either side. Then there are two juniper bushes, then a bit more grass, then some of the corn. After the corn is a little dip where it is currently a mud pit due to flooding. Then there is a little bridge over the creek, and then a bit more grass followed by the road. We need to work on the lane in spring. I think we are getting more gravel next week, but I have to talk to our neighbor. He knows a guy with a dump truck and I think he set it up for us. He said we need to lay more gravel while the ground is still frozen or the gravel will just get worked into the mud. So, tons of gravel will be coming our way soon!

Moira in a princess dress in the front yard.

Moira in a princess dress in the front yard.

This is Moira in her princess dress on the hill outside the front door. The house is to the left. That brown thing next to the trailer is a coop. The former owner used it to rescue pheasants. We were thinking of using it for the chickens, then thinking about building a moveable coop, and now are back to thinking of using it for the chickens at night. Again, that’s another post and one that has involved lots of talking and thinking over the months we’ve been here.

OK, I will post more. I have a couple of ideas in my head for posting, such as the issue of vegetarianism and the debate about how, exactly, to house the chickens when we get them.