Saturday, May 22, 2010

In which Minerva Twelve becomes a wild and free chicken at long last

While working in the garden this afternoon, we heard a terrible commotion inside the new Chicken Tractor.
All the hens were pecking Minerva Louise Twelve.


When they were living in the garden, there was room for her to run away. We had hoped that putting the five least-bossy hens in the new Tractor with Twelve would be okay.
Apparently not.
We keep the hens confined for their safety, mostly. A platoon of hawks is on continual patrol on the thermals above the Farm, looking out for fat rabbits and unwary hens.
We figure that, eventually, one of those hawks will get Twelve...but it's better than leaving her confined with a bunch of bullies. I hope that she remembers where to lay her eggs.

At first, Twelve didn't want to leave the other hens, even though they shouted bad words through the chicken wire of their confinement.
Perhaps she was afraid to be lonely?


We all reckoned without Luna.
Twelve needed a friend who wouldn't peck her.
Luna volunteered to be Twelve's friend.

I heard one time that other farms have normal pets.
We just don't know how to do that here.

In which we celebrate Saturday Stories with a little wisdom

What is the Answer?

A wise man had an apprentice who was very clever. This apprentice wanted, just once, to outwit his master. Finally he had an idea.

He took a very young bird and hid it in his hands behind his back. He stood before the wise man to ask the question:

Is the bird in my hands alive, or dead?

He thought that if the wise man said that the bird was dead, he would show that it still lived; if the wise man said that the bird was alive, he would crush it and kill it.

The wise man looked deep into the eyes of his apprentice, and put his hand gently on the boy's shoulder and said to him,

"The answer, my son, is in your hands."

Thursday, May 20, 2010

In which my alter-ego briefly absconds with the Haiku Farm Blog

I have a terrible confession to make.

Haiku Farm is not my only blog.

I actually write two blogs: one about the farm, and the other....

well....

...the other blog is titled "Sex in the Library."

The other blog is all about selection policies and mission statements of public libraries and school libraries, and why those two things are different.

Of course, selection policies and mission statements are boring. I know that.

That's why I write Sex in the Library--it's my attempt (with the help of my SITL partner, school librarian Mary Jo Heller), to make boring stuff into interesting stuff.

To do that, we review books written for teens that have sexual content or deal with sexual situations. We also travel to various conferences and conventions to talk about Sex in the Library and how more people should have it. Most of our readers are teen librarians and authors of teen books.

Except when I accidently send a SITL blog post to the Haiku Farm blog site.

Oops.

So, if you're one of the confused Haiku Farm readers wondering what the heck that PINK post was that blipped briefly onto the screen, there's the answer.

And hey, if you ever want to know more about Sex in the Library and how to have some, you can visit the other blog here.

Monday, May 17, 2010

In which Fiddle and I do not get lost, but we do get bewildered.

"I can't say I was ever lost, but I was bewildered once for three days."
--attributed to Daniel Boone

I have a pretty good sense of direction, but I have had plenty of bewildering moments.

I can wander around the wilderness for days, and know where I am within about a quarter-mile. That's pretty good. (this is only true outdoors, BTW. I have been lost several times in the mall, walking in circles for hours and always ending back at the --ick-- perfume counter at Macy's. I just don't go to the mall anymore)


The problem is that knowing where I am is not exactly the same as knowing how to get home.

Sometimes the road just stops. Sometimes there's a tree blocking the trail. One memorable time, there was a gigantic irrigation pipe across the path that we couldn't go under, over or around (we were bewildered until about 2 a.m. on that little adventure).

Today, Fiddle and I returned to the trailhead we visited last week. The last time I considered myself "familiar" with this trail system was in 2004. Since then, the forest has changed. Some parts have been chopped down, other parts have grown tall. There are no reliable trail markers, and there's no map. But, what the heck: it was a good day for bewilderment!

I took the GPS with me, but today we had a heavy cloud cover and some rain--not ideal conditions for a good GPS signal. As I expected, my wristtop GPS "chirped" at me several times to indicate that the signal was weak.

I also took surveyer's tape to drop along the path. Unfortunately, because I had lost the bright pink tape on my last ride, I had to use green tape. It blended in with the foliage really well. Sigh.

Speaking of blending:
This little doe was hoping that I wouldn't see her. In fact, I could see her quite clearly, but the camera had trouble spotting her (it was raining, and the sky was pretty dang dark considering that it was 1:00 in the afternoon!)

After passing the deer, I pointed Fee up a STEEP trail that ascended the side of a clearcut. When we had almost reached the top, I saw something unusual in a teenage fir tree:
I know, it's a crummy picture. I could see the owl quite clearly, but she decided that my big moosey-horse was scaring all the game, so she left before I could get a good photo. I've never seen a wild pygmy owl before--she was about the size of my hand, and she flew like a chickadee, dropping down from the tree before bobbling up to the top of a tree further away from us. To learn more about pygmy owls (and see better pictures), click here. They are pretty cool little creatures.


The view from the top of the clearcut.
Here's a little video I shot from the top. I was so proud of Fiddle for hauling my butt up this trail, and she was hardly winded at all...in fact, partway through the video you can hear her munching on a tree branch because she's bored with standing still while I run the camera. The trailhead is at an elevation of about 200 feet (or fewer) above sea level.

All the elevation you see was gained in about 3 miles of scrambling up a skinny little trail.
It's no wonder the pygmy owl was surprised to see us!

About 100 yards after the owl abandoned us, Fiddle alerted and signalled "predator." Fiddle's signals are not totally reliable. She thinks cows are predators. However, we were on the side of a wilderness hill, and I know there are bears and cougars in the area.


My solution?


Sing!


Human voices in general are shunned by bears and cats, and my voice, lifted into a boisterous version of "Oh Dear, What a Catastrophe / Seventeen Pirates got Stuck in the Lavat'ry" is pretty much guaranteed to warn off anything shy of a rabid wolf.


(we don't actually have wolves here, rabid or otherwise, just in case you were worried).


Within 100 yards, Fee stopped alerting. Whatever it was decided that the better part of peace and quiet would be elsewhere.


At the top of the scramble, the path wound through some Very Tall Trees. It might be tempting to call these "old growth trees", except for the stump that sits as a reminder of what REAL old growth trees were like:
The cedar tree that used to be attached to this stump was cut, by hand, at least 80 years ago. That means that 80 years of rotting has gone by, and the stump is still more than twice as big around as the trees surrounding it.


Cool.

Walking through the climax-forest. These trees have very little undergrowth beneath them. They will continue getting bigger until they are cut (or burnt) down.

A much larger log shows how "little" the standing trees really are. The fallen log has probably been down for at least 20 years.


When I emerged from the patch of tall trees onto a logging road, I was interested to discover that, although I mostly knew where I was, and was perfectly capable of re-tracing the route I had just travelled, I really didn't know where the logging road would lead. The trailer was parked to the south, but the road to the south went uphill. When you've parked at sea-level and want to go back to the trailer, uphill doesn't help much, even when it's the right direction. So, with 6 hours of daylight to play around in, Fiddle and I chose to go downhill and northwards.


The logging roads aren't nearly as steep as the scramble trail we had taken uphill. It was nearly two miles of gravel downhill before we came to a trail that turned south and downhill. I walked beside Fiddle and fed her grass. I sang. There are lots of verses to the Pirate song, and I can make up lots more whenever I need some.


It was good.


The downhill/southwards trail started seeming familiar, and suddenly:
pink flagging tape! I know who put that on the trail!


Just around the corner from the flagging tape was a property marking sign.

From the sign, just 2 more miles of familiar trails until we hit the "main" logging road that led back to the trailer.


Total time elapsed: less than two hours

Total milage: about eight miles


Total fun?


You know it.


Life is good.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

In which the chickens move out of the garden and into summer digs

Jim put the last wheel on Chicken Tractor II.

Finally, it's time for the girls to pack up their bikinis and sunscreen and move to the summer cabins!

CTII is much prettier than the old chicken tractor, but it weighs a ton. Jim installed a new "steerable" wheel system on it.

There's a nesting box on each end of CTII.

CTI is at the dock, waiting for passengers to embark. Generally, chickens don't like new stuff, and need to be coaxed, carried or coerced into their new quarters.
Chicken #12 is the exception to the rule about hens not liking new stuff. Twelve likes exploring the yard, and finding new places to lay her eggs, but we are hoping that CTII will keep her safely inside with the other hens.

Another Minerva, enroute to her summer home.

"No wants!"

"Oh hey. Der's FOOD in here. Dat's goood!"

Nesting boxes in CTI, lined with fresh hay, the chicken-keepers' equivalent of washing the sheets.

The last batch of eggs from the Winter Palace.

Chickens inside CTII. If you listen closely, you can hear Hawaiian music in the background (Da Coconut Wireless airs on our favorite radio station on Sunday afternoons.) It seems appropriate.



The End.