Having 9 grandchildren here we see our share of bumps and bruises. So far we haven’t had any visits to Urgent Care, I probably shouldn’t put that in writing? We usually take it all in stride. Someone comes running telling us so and so is hurt. First we inspect the damage, then if more than a kiss is necessary we use an ice pack and maybe a little Tea Tree Body Butter, which the grand kids call grammy’s lotion.
But, it is always a little alarming to see a little one bleeding from their mouth. My go to for that is ice pops. I keep some in my freezer year round. The kids always want them when they are up here playing, but I try to reserve them for warm weather treats. But when someone puts a tooth through their lip it is ice pops to the rescue. It never fails to stop the bleeding so we can see where the blood is coming from and it never fails to make them feel better.
All other bumps, scraps and bruises get ice pack and maybe some of my lotion. If that doesn’t work maybe an ice pop too.
This time of year, predators are more of a concern here on the farm. Spring is when they are bolder in the hunt for food to feed their babies. I had always thought our pony Caddy deterred predators from coming too close to the chickens. But now I have found out, not always. Our dog, Cora had been barking all morning. That is not at all unusual, she is a little bit like the boy who cried wolf, except she doesn’t do it for fun. She sees something that wasn’t there before, and she feels compelled to alert us to the issue. Sometimes it’s a vehicle that is parked in a different spot, or maybe the wind blew something like a bucket into the yard. I did get up and check but didn’t see anything that she might have seen.
A little later when I looked up from my office window, I noticed Caddy and Midnight looking down at the bottom of the hill. I got up to see what they were looking at and saw all the guinea hens down at the bottom very upset about something. I saw something orange and at first, I thought it was our big orange barn cat George. On closer look I realized it was a red fox! I immediately started down to chase it away before he got any chickens. The fox was distracted by the angry guineas, until it saw me. Then it picked up the dead chicken, that I had not noticed before and ran up the hill and disappeared into the woods. I tried to follow it up the hill, but it was gone without a trace of it or the chicken it stole.
I made my way back to the barn and called the birds into their pen. I took a head count and was missing two chickens! Now I have a dilemma, do I keep them safely locked up or continue to let them free range. Obviously, the problem with letting them free range is we take the chance of providing chicken meals for baby foxes. On the other hand, if I keep them cooped up (pun intended) not only will the chickens be unhappy, but the guinea fowl will be angry and they tend to take out their frustrations on the chickens, which they need very little reason to do anyway. For now I will try to let them out later in the morning and pay more attention when Cora is barking.
On December 16th we got our first significant snowfall of the winter. It was over 24″ in a short period of time.
I enjoy the beauty and renewal of a fresh snowfall, even though I have to shovel a bit, mostly because I choose to have animals out in the barn to feed. Dean’s job however, he doesn’t actually enjoy. He takes on snow blowing our 800′ long driveway, on our 20+ year old tractor. It doesn’t sound too bad except he usually gets all the snow blown back on him. It can take him hours depending on how much it has snowed. He ends up looking like a tall thin frosty the snowman and he probably feels that cold too.
Our son has a snow removal business. The big snowstorms, like our first significant snow means, very long days, but he is grateful for the work.
My sister and husband usually winter in the Florida Keys, but this year decided to stay in their summer home in Upstate NY because of Covid. She greets every snowfall with happy anticipation of shoveling snow, hmm; well, not so much. She hates it and can’t wait to get back to the tropical weather. Oh did I mention she is always cold and has little bitty dogs and chickens so has to go out in the morning to shovel and she is not exactly a morning person. She vows that next winter to stay in their travel trailer safely parked in the warm breezy sunshine.
Now the grandkids come from a whole different perspective. What is not to love about snow when you’re a kid? Do you remember? Both families are homeschooling so they don’t actually get a snow day from schoolwork. But they still manage to get up here to relish the newly fallen snow. They know when the snow it great for sledding or making snowmen or snow forts. This year they have graduated to our longer north facing hill. Now we get to watch them from our window. It is so fun to watch them and it is also a good thing because at their ages, they don’t recognize danger when they see ( do ) it. Like the time we saw the twins sledding down the hill and under the gate at the bottom the hill and Miss Number Four bumped her head on it. I made them stop and I told of the the dangers. The next day my daughter said, she had asked her what paralyzed means. Yes, I went there. The next time they were sledding into the ditch at the bottom of the hill. They had been told not to go into the ditch which has lots of big pointy rocks. Anyway, if there is no snow for a while the hill gets icy and fast. The kids were not happy when we told them it was too dangerous to sled today. Then we got another 8 inches of snow. Oh happy day, let the fun begin!
Can you see a Dad in this picture? He is the little speck in the middle of the picture, to the left of the tractor. The reason he doesn’t even look like a person is because he is up to his chest in a drainage ditch he has been working on. Our son and his partner’s landscape business (Terra Mira) have been using our front field for their landscape business and compost operation, but that field is eventually going to be the site of our daughter’s family house so Terra needed to move. Terra was hoping to buy a piece of land this year for their compost operation, but that deal fell through. Now they needed a place fast, to put the leaves they will be collecting soon from all their fall clean ups. So this Dad suggested using our back field, but it needed some leveling and a drainage ditch.
Terra planned to do all the work, but they are growing so fast they just ran out of time so dad suffered through bulldozing ( just kidding, Dean jumps at a chance to learn to drive a piece of heavy equipment) and then followed up (without heavy equipment) getting the ditch ready for landscape fabric, adding stone and the drain pipe. They didn’t ask him to do it, but this Dad knew they were going to need the field before they would be able to get to it and it needed to be done before it rained again. It was cold wet work, but he didn’t want the boys ( both in their 30’s but we still call them boys :o) to work into the wee hours of the night to get it done or worse yet not get it done and not be able to use it for their fall clean up. So he worked all day getting the work done, because he is a good dad.
This is not an isolated incident. He gets up early and before he leaves for work at 5am he does a little book keeping for the boys landscape company. He also meets with them sometimes before he leaves to see how things are going. He is always there for our family and all the grandkids, even the youngest think he is just the best. I think I have to agree.
Dean would like to take a vacation to see new places, but I am sort of a homebody and we usually don’t go any where. I am usually happy to stay here taking care of our little farm.
Until 5th grade, I grew up not too far from Sandy Hook, NJ and our family spent a lot of time there in the summers. So even though I love our little farm, I sometimes get a yearning to watch the sunrise over the ocean and walk barefoot on the beach for miles. I love smelling the salt air and hearing the shore birds calling.
The last few years, we have tried to get away for a little vacation to celebrate our wedding anniversary. Last year I waited too long to make reservations to go to one of my favorite places, Long Beach Island, NJ. This year despite covid and Dean figuring out he could even take a few days off, it all worked out to take a few days off to go to the beach.
For some reason trip logistics are always my job. The first order of business is always to see if one of our kids and their family would like to stay here and take care of the farm. Fortunately all the grand kids love it here and our daughter was happy to stay. Somehow our daughter managed to take on the added burden of caring for all the critters living here. She kept up with the garden, barn chores, our annoying dog and her 5 kids and their homeschooling.
Even though the weather was cloudy and chilly, we saw sunrises, walked for miles, collected seashells and saw pelicans and dolphins. So we had a nice little vacation, mission accomplished. I know Dean would like to go and see new places but he still likes me enough to humor me and accompany me to the Island.