Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Lesson #100 in Letting Go

Actually, I'm sure I must be up near the thousands at this point. No matter how often I realize that I'm obsessing on something, or worrying, I still forget this lesson: Do what you can in the moment, deal with the future as it arrives.

The ramp has started to come off the coop again and this time I realize that it has to do with the way it was put on. I need to redo the ramp system because I can't keep tightening screws that are working their way out of a split piece of wood. However, it is sleeting outside and my chickens have nowhere to go while I perform major surgery on my coop. I spent all morning working out what I need to do but the weather isn't cooperating with me. And then it hit me: I am worrying about a ramp falling when it hasn't completely fallen yet; I want the sleet to stop so my chickens won't get wet when I tip up the coop, but of course I can't control the weather; I am thinking so much about the chickens that I am forgetting everything else today.

And so here it is: I'm letting go of the ramp problem right now. This doesn't sound like rocket science, but right now it feels like it. I'm focusing on making a new batch of granola, on helping my son with his Physical Science homework, on getting the floors swept and the laundry washed. I can't do anything until it stops raining. I have to negotiate slippery, slushy, snowy roads in a little while to get Grace at school. I have to take my neighbor Hazel to her doctor's appointment later in the afternoon. I have to figure out how to get myself and my son some exercise (the latter one is the most difficult--I am being repaid for all those years I lay on the couch reading during the winter, not exercising, getting winter-plump, with a child who is exactly like I was). Looking back at that long list, I realize I have written a lot of "I have to"-s. But really, it's all what I do, it's my life and I am happy with it and grateful for it. When I stop and let go of the nagging obsession or worry, I realize how beautiful all of it is, even the obsession and worry. It's life, I'm alive, I am part of it all.

And who knows, maybe the ramp will survive tonight and tomorrow will prove to be a better day for repairs?

Monday, November 29, 2010

Recent Happenings, or How to Clean Out a Coop in the Snow

We have had so much snow in the past week. Well, a lot of snow and then a lot of cold weather so the snow is still here. It last fell on Saturday morning, prompting my dad and his wife to leave for Bend earlier than they had planned. Ice on the Gorge or in the hills up from Biggs Junction is not something to wait around for.

Typical for me, I have been obsessing about the chickens. Once I got the freezing water situation under control (runs out to the back every two hours with boiling water), and figured out how to cover the coop well at night, my thoughts turned, quite naturally, to the growing piles of poop- and pee-soaked shavings in their sleeping area. I've read (and have seen first hand, now) that chickens do well with cold weather, as long as they stay dry. Humidity is the big baddie, apparently. So I've been thinking a lot about all that pee since the girls are not too keen on frolicking around in the snow. They spend many, many hours upstairs. Suddenly I understand why a big coop is a great idea in cold climates. Of course, this not normally being a particularly cold climate, certainly not one with snow and below freezing temps before Thanksgiving, I didn't take this into consideration when building a coop. Even Dave, not one to spend much time thinking about the chickens, remarked upon the utility of a barn.

Which leads me to Sunday morning. It warmed up enough that the chickens actually flew/hopped out to the boat rack and perched there for about an hour. They were clearly stir crazy, from being "cooped" up too much (ha ha). Grace and I ran out to do errands, ending up at Basin Feed (which had three absolutely adorable miniature Australian Shepherd puppies that I managed not to walk out with) to get new shavings. I came home and stewed about the situation until I saw all five chickens downstairs. The moment was right, I made my move:

It's fuzzy but maybe you can see three of the chickens on top of the coop--Ruby, Silvia, and Bunny, from left to right. The other two are behind the coop. They were none too pleased to be kicked out, but hey, don't mess with an obsessed chicken-keeper. And I have to say, the eggs are much more enjoyable to collect now that they aren't streaked with poop.

This morning I let the ramp down only to hear a big thud. The ramp came completely off its hinges. You probably can't tell too well from the picture, but the only way to screw the ramp back on is to do it from inside the coop. So this morning I flipped the whole coop over on its side and screwed the ramp back on. The chickens did a nice job of staying on the dry spot, I did a good job of not stepping on them, and Grace came out just in time for me to flip the coop back into place without crushing one of them. All before my second cup of coffee and breakfast. I'm thinking I could tackle pigs, cows, goats.... Yeah, only in my dreams. I'm still a city girl at heart.

And keeping my fingers crossed that the weather lets up so I can leave town for a while before the holidays.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

More Snowy Scenes

Breakfast first thing this morning. Amazingly, we are still getting a couple eggs a day.

The view from the chicken coop, back onto our house.

A spiderweb from inside. The spider is hiding up top, out of sight.

I walked along the river to get to the store for some last minute items. Fog settled just off shore.

Looking up at a sycamore on my way back from the store, frost falling off the tree.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Sudden Transitions Part 2 (aka Sitka, Alaska)

Our ticket to Sitka

The Sitka Conservation Society and University of Alaska, Southeast invited Dave up to give a talk, a radio interview, and a book signing. By an incredible stroke of luck (and a lot of help from friends and family babysitting for us) I got to go, too. It was our first vacation alone since before the kids and it far exceeded our expectations. We absolutely loved Sitka, Dave was warmly received by environmentalists and fishermen alike, and we felt completely invigorated to be in a walking city, surrounded by interesting, funky sorts of people. In other words, a place that is drastically different from where we have lived for the past 12 years. We love where we live but Sitka spoke to a deeper place inside us.

Downtown Sitka

In Totem Park

I have fond memories of a picture of my grandpa in his naval uniform, standing in front of a totem pole in Sitka when he was stationed there. Maybe this is the very same totem pole?

Dave at the Sitka harbor. Unlike Bristol Bay, fishermen here use trollers to fish.

The Lutheran Cemetary

We were lucky to stay in this vacation rental--two blocks from a grocery store and two blocks from downtown Sitka.

At the top of a terrific hike. This is muskeg country here, boggy and space-age looking trees.

On the other side of the previous picture. This isn't the Tri-Cities, that's certain.

Sudden Transitions

Last week it was still relatively balmy here. And then yesterday it started snowing.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Signs from Above?

While cutting up wood in the front yard--detritus from fence preparations--I heard a very loud thump behind me. Turning around I found a dead, headless pigeon in my driveway.

I was just happy that 1) it wasn't a chicken and 2) that I wasn't under it when it fell.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Parenting Is Not For The Faint Of Heart

And to throw in homeschooling on top of it, I guess you have to have a few screws loose.

It's just been one of those days.

On the other hand, it is a spectacularly beautiful fall day, the light is incredible, the trees shimmer in golds and yellows and reds; little juncos flit all over the yard, scrounging up a meal; the chickens have a very clean and dry coop now; I am almost done knitting another hat, this one in wool (left over from the sweater) to keep my head warm in Sitka; two loaves of bread are in the oven; the Monthly Progress Report for "school" is submitted; the house is now quiet.

All I need now is a nap.