Journal Entry / Thoughts For Today 08/20/2018

Home Again, Home Again

I was nervous returning home tonite. As I left for the afternoon, I gathered the turkeys and one chick who thinks she’s a turkey and put them in the big run. I searched and searched for my 3 remaining laying hens. They were no where to be found. I left the hen house door propped open with the chance they would be there upon my return.

First thing out of the car, I let my excited dogs out of the cabin, grabbed the flashlight and headed to the garden area.

The dogs, as usual, were running around half crazy, jumping on each other, so happy to be free from the soft bed and pillows they had to endure while I was a away. I do understand that is a hard row to hoe when all you want to do is run and play in an unrestricted environment.

I get out to the hen house and peek around the propped open door with the flashlight and there on the perch are my girls waiting to be secured in their clean and comfy home. I took a breath and locked them in, checked on the baby chicks, and the turkeys and headed back to the cabin.

It’s an extremely dark night. Not many stars, and the moon is obstructed by the intense canopy that covers the compound. I’m thinking as I’m walking about the chickens, because I have one that has been gone for about 2 weeks. I’m sure to predators. I wonder about the secrets that Mother Nature holds and how she has implanted the homing instinct into those chickens and so many other wonderful things that as you live here in the forest you become so aware of, when all of a sudden I am slammed to the ground by 2 rambunctious cowboys. Changed my thought pattern in a hurry, like, am I ok, how’s my back, can I get up? All the while the younger bully boy is licking me and so happy on his level. OK, where’s the flashlight? Can I maneuver around and get up? For those of you who know me, it’s tough getting up off the ground…still, since having both knees replaced. But I do get up, proceed to the cabin, complete my chores and feel blessed that as tough as this life can be here in north woods in trying to live minimally, I know that there has not been one minute that I have regretted leaving the easy life behind. For me, Life is a Journey, and I’m just takin’ it one day at a time. Cabin life, that’s all I need.

Journal Entry / Thoughts For Today 05/03/2018

Just When You Think You’ve Got It.

I was going to write about how awesome it was this morning to lay in bed and listen to the rain dance off the metal roof and how awesome it was to know I had no one pressuring me to go anywhere. But, I’m not going to write about that. I’m going to write about our cat, Chance.

We have discovered this discount store outside of one of the small towns we live in between. It carries pet foods and some other miscellaneous items. They offer some huge discounts on some really big name products that I couldn’t even consider buying so I just pass them by when shopping for my usual pet foods. Which brings me to the subject of this blog for the day.

Yep, that’s her. Our princess. We feed her well, although she is a woodland cat and at the top of her food chain, so to speak, so she can feed herself, but she still comes in to eat as she so desires. So we buy her what she likes and that would be some of those little cans of fancy stuff from the grocery store or pet food store. But only certain ones will do because some of them just aren’t right. We have wasted tens of dollars trying to figure out which ones are right.

So, at the discount pet food store they carry glam food (way upper end) cat food at way discounted prices. Like below grocery store prices. Grain free, limited ingredient, all good stuff, don’t know why they couldn’t sell them, so I’m going to buy some for my princess, I’m sure they are right they were really expensive on the pet food store shelf.

I’m thinking she’s going to love it. I buy one of each flavor, but only the pate’ because that is her favorite. At 29 cents a can I couldn’t go wrong, right? I bought 20. What a deal! Well, except for the fact that she snubbed her nose at all of it. Every different flavor we bought. Spoiled….brat, princess. So much for saving money on the canned food.

Well, we did save big on the dry cat food which she did like, the dogs food and some chicken feed. So, we scored big and felt like lotto winners when we walked out of there. However, despite the fact that we did lose money on the princesses canned food, it won’t be a total loss. I’ll donate it to the kitties at the animal shelter. They won’t care if it’s glam food or dollar store food. They’ll just know they’ve got at least one more meal coming.

Journal Entry / Thoughts For Today 05/02/2018

And Now The Work Begins

It is now officially spring in the woodlands of Central Northern Michigan. The Grosbeeks have returned to the Rollin’ Rock. We mourn their migration each August. It just makes it all so final. Oh, I’m sorry, if you don’t know what a Grosbeek is, it’s a beautiful bird . All of the ice piles have melted, the ground is soft enough to till, and there are daffodils blooming in the butterfly garden in the east20.

We are so excited and overwhelmed to get this new year of planting and reconstructing started. There are so many loose ends to tie up and projects to finish up and put in motion, but we are motivated by the warmth of the sun and the soft gentle breezes.

The wind generator will rise into the east20 with the help of friends from Tennessee, the garden is expanding, a new cowboy to raise (puppy), hopefully a few more livestock, the completion of the storage shed, build a beehive hutch, solar collectors have to be moved and completed and a host of other projects.

I’ll keep you posted as we get started. Cabin life isn’t for everyone, but I’m sure glad we’re here!

Journal Entry / Thoughts For The Day 04/26/18

An Unexpected Moment

As always in spring time, the small and sometimes large, creatures of the forest start wandering around foraging for food. Since we moved into their home and invaded their space we always get a visit from a number of them.

A week ago as the weather was warming and the days have been lengthening, I’ve been going out to close up the henhouse a little later in the evening. As I walked up upon the chicken yard I expected the girls along with the rooster to already be in the hen house. It was getting dark and usually they head in as the sun is setting. But here they are huddled up in the yard. How weird is that I thought. I’ll put their water in and then round them up. I opened the door to the henhouse and much to my surprise there was a young raccoon all snuggled up in a nesting box sleeping for the night.

It frightened me so I slammed the door shut. I stood for a second and thought about what to do. I looked around and grabbed a garden tool and went back in. I tried to pry him out of the nesting box but all that accomplished was waking him up and making him really mad. He hissed and growled and showed me his many little sharp teeth and when I tried to move him he stiffened his body and it felt like he weighed 20 lbs although I knew he was just a little guy. So he scared me, even more. I implemented plan B and went and got my husband. He brought his trusted tool and took care of business. Not my way of taking care of business but sometimes the only way to take care of business.

We then herded the apprehensive flock into the hen house and went about our evening routines. All of us that is, except the raccoon.

Journal Entry / Thoughts For The Day 04/20/18

New Beginnings

It’s almost Spring here in Northern Michigan. I say, almost, because in the woods, the ground is still frozen and we have had a couple of inches of frozen sleet still hanging around from the storm last week. It covers the ground hard packed and slippery from the sun. Soon we will once again be ankle deep in mud. It will be a few weeks before we are thawed out and dry.

There are flocks of migrating birds coming to the feeders and we’re seeing many small herds of whitetail deer in the fields browsing for edible grasses. All of the wildlife are awakening into the lengthened days of April and the Rollin’ Rock is no exception. Our household has become alive with activity with the addition of a new pup. Another little cowboy on the range to help Dish keep things in order. This presents a whole new perspective to our laid back retiree routine.

His name is “Deets”. A beautiful 9 week old pup with a pea sized bladder (and brain) and teeth as sharp as porcupine quills. He’s only been here a week and already has grown some and learned a few things about the workings of our tiny environment.

Dish being Dish, is not too impressed. Although he loves the interaction for short periods of time, he gets annoyed quickly. Although it is difficult for him to share attention, he is doing a great job.

As the world turns and brings the unknown to each day, we welcome in another year that’s going to be filled with exciting new adventures. Our journey continues……

Journal Entry / Thoughts For Today

12/27/17

It has been bitterly cold here in central northern Michigan. At 8am on my way out to feed the chicks and bunnies it was -7 degrees. Normal temps here for this time of year is around 30. Can’t wait to get back to that “normal”. The sun has been absent for days. Charging our battery bank has been a real challenge. Without the wind turbine as a backup, power has been generated with an LP generator. Not our optimum solution, but with the little power we use it’s a good temporary solution.

The chickens seem to be weathering the frigid temps. We are still getting eggs at least every other day. We did extend their lighting with battery operated LED lights, so they are getting an appropriate amount of hours of lighting to continue laying.

The bunnies huddle each in their cages waiting for fresh food and water twice a day. Not much to look forward to except warmer temps and sunshine. I’m waiting for the same.

10/27/2017 Journal Entry / Thoughts For Today

I’M FARMIN’ NOW

This spring I purchased chicks with hopes to start an organic flock. I’ve read a couple of books and most of my neighbors have chickens so information is abundant. I felt confident I could fumble through the learning curve, and I have done pretty good so far. I lost one chick right away, saved two chicks from death, one of them from the grips of our woodland cat, that’s a story for another day, and then figured out that the majority of our soon to be egg bearing hens were roosters. That part was a bummer! I’ve got to remedy that very soon, but that takes me to today.

I woke up stiff and sore. It’s cold and rainy here in northern Michigan and I tried really hard to put on my positive attitude. I stretched, got dressed, then got my chicken feed concoction ready along with the bunny greens. I let the cat and dog out and can hear the roosters crowing in the chicken coop waiting for their breakfast. The roosters are impatient and demanding (go figure) and ready to get the day started.

I walk past the bunnies on the way to the garden and chicken yard so they always get fed first, then out to the chicken yard. I stepped inside the gate and opened the coop door as usual. They are so loud, each one trying to be the first one out the door.

After throwing out the scratch and doing my morning visual inspection of each of them, I always peek in the coop making sure the chicks have enough water and grain and of course I peruse the laying boxes for eggs. I knew it wouldn’t be until around the first of November before I could expect my four confirmed hens to begin laying (only four, wow, still hard to wrap my head around that one!) anyway, today as I peruse my boxes I spy one..brown…egg. AH!!!!! I’m on the fast track now baby! Got positive energy flowing!! Nothing like working six months for one small brown egg to make it all worth while. WOW! What a great day!!

Nothing Compares

10/08/17

When I think about beauty, aesthetic beauty, only one thing comes to mind. Not fine art or a nicely decorated home. It’s the beauty that Mother Nature has bestowed upon us and wraps around us like a comforting blanket to soothe our souls when we are emotionally struggling or are lost in life trying to find the right path to follow.

If it’s answers you’re looking for, who better to help you with searching your soul than  the Mother of the universe. For without the Mother there would be no beauty. Humans try desperately to recreate the handy work that has taken Mother Nature thousands of years to perfect.

For Now

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It’s been a most unconventional Spring at the Rollin’ Rock. We missed mud season (what a shame!) but we were able to witness the budding of new leaves on the trees and the migration of the Orioles and most of our feathered friends. Haven’t gotten all of the garden planted, but did get started.  We are well underway of building a storage shed. Time to incorporate everything to one location.

As of this writing, we are anxiously awaiting for the arrival of our first nuc of Honey Bees. What happens after they arrive will depend on how well I paid attention in the classroom and how much information I’ve absorbed and retained through research. I have so much to learn. Hands on experience will be the testing ground. I’m ready for this new opportunity.

Our local Farmers Market has begun and for the 2 Saturday’s that we have now completed, we did pretty good in our sales. My hand crafted rugs are selling as expected, as an item wanted and not necessarily needed. So I have sold one each market day so far, and pretty good for the standard I’ve set for myself. Oh, and as always, the Glazed Pecans are always a hit. In a few weeks, produce will come in to play and business will pick up. Even if it doesn’t, the friendships that we have developed with our neighbors is priceless.

We had visitors over the Memorial Day holiday. The girls and families came for the weekend. My one daughter and her beau, rode their motorcycles up for Blessing of the Bikes held in a small town about 30 miles from here. It was wet, cold and windy, but we enjoyed our time spent together and all the noise, laughter and discombobulations those grandkids bring with them. Soon, we will welcome another into the family, predictions are favoring a girl. We’ll see!

This interim life we’ve created, the in between life of finalization of urban living to full time off-grid cabin life, is taking a huge toll on our lives. Money is tight, so it puts a burden on what can be accomplished and what can wait. Can we commute or can it wait? I want to live life like the homesteaders you see on TV or in magazines. They seem to have it all. Everything they need and the means to achieve anything they desire. Maybe our planning skills are below average or maybe our unscheduled push into retirement put some sticks in the spokes. Anyway, we’ve made the commitment, the wheels are in motion (slow motion), but shear will and desire still drives us forward. We’ll never have everything we need to do every job, but we are blessed to have what we’ve gotten.

Leting go is much more difficult at the end of an era than when you are in the midst knowing you can change up and recover quite easily. Leaving behind a family home shared by parents and siblings and years of collected keepsakes is a heart heavy job. Once it’s gone, there is no turning back. All you are left with are the memories you once shared. Leaving behind long standing responsibilities is even more difficult. Moving to the woods is the end, for me personally, of hands on parenting. I will now leave my children in charge of their own destinations. The end of an era. They are now busy buying their first homes and finding true love in the midst of chaos, raising their own kids and becoming the new generation of adults. I am so proud that they have taken the reins on their own lives and are forging the paths for their futures. I have loved and let go. My mission accomplished. My memories in tact.

It is now time to realize that my dreams can also be achieved in just a few small steps. Some of the biggest small steps I’ve every had to take. Starting over is never an easy thing to do and at retirement,  I’m hoping this dream is worth the risks.

Our companion and lonesome cowboy, Dish, is ready for complete transistion. He is tired of the endless packing and unpacking, and the continuous struggle to maintain sanity in this crazy life of not knowing where we’re going to be on what day and how we will manage to be totally prepared in whatever place we happen to be in the moment. The kitty is ready to remain in the woods. She hated her stay in the city, but was always good about being detained indoors for short periods of time. She disappears each time we pack up and get ready to commute for fear we’ll capture her and kennel her for the 2 hour car ride she dreaded so much. The chickens, like I said, can no longer easily be moved and our compost helper, Jack Rabbit, would prefer to be fed and left alone to do his job.

 

For now, that’s the comings and goings at the Rollin’ Rock. Work, work, and more work and the awesome feeling we’re nearing a shared goal. Oh, don’t let me forget to say how absolutely awesome it is to hear nothing but the birds and the wind blowing through the trees for hours at a time. It brings peace to my soul.

For Now……Let This Journey Carry On.