Thursday, June 30, 2011

Making Up For It, Part 4 (Or How Not to Love Your Neighbor on Christmas Eve)

Truly, you must read Parts one, two, and three, if you haven't yet.

Where were we? Ah yes:

"Mom!" Big Sister yelled. "You killed BUSTER!"

My heart sunk, and my eyes about popped out of my head. Buster?!? WHO the heck is BUSTER???

Little Artist answered that thought, "Yeah, that's LEXI'S dog!"

Lexi's dog? They only met that girl once! And they have two ankle-biters that chase our van, but neither looks like THAT thing! This can't be right! Oh my gosh, I've killed a LITTLE GIRL'S DOG on CHRISTMAS EVE?!??!?

I just wanted to faint away. The presumed owner is a family that lives up at the beginning of our driveway, and the granddaughter who lives there played with the girls when we had been working on the fence in fall. I'd had two interactions with them in the year or so they'd lived there - I took them homemade soup and bread when they moved in, and didn't even get their names in return, and once got a phone call from the grandma when our dog had escaped and gone up to their house to play - our lab picked up one of their dogs (looks like a chihuahua-sized doberman) in her mouth - and the daughter (lexi's mom?) about came unglued. While no one thought our dog was being aggressive, it still (understandably) unnerved the person who considered it 'her baby.' 

And I have, lying dead in my backyard, another dog from that household?!?

Like a criminal wanting to turn back the clock, I told the kids (who were really not that upset - they knew the condition our hens were in, and understand that animals who prey on livestock are not to be tolerated) that they were NOT to tell anyone about this! NOT their grandma tonight at Christmas Eve, nor their cousins, nor their friends, nor ANYONE. EVER! I was still a little on edge, do you think? :) They looked at me with big eyes, and asked, "why?" but I don't know that I answered coherently. I was too busy imagining some sweet little girl knocking on my door on Christmas Eve, asking if I'd seen her favorite dog Buster, who had once saved twenty-six kittens from being run over on the freeway (or some other selfless, angelic act). Hurry up and come home, let's get out of here FAST! I still had sewing to finish up, and I managed to, and I even made it through the evening without anyone spilling the beans (I think the next day Hubby had to brag about it to someone, and the notoriety began...).

As it turned out, no one came knocking. If indeed it WAS 'Buster,' he was one kept in a kennel outdoors who "was mean" and from whom the girls hid from on the trampoline when they played with Lexi that one afternoon. [And I've had time to prepare my statement: "Have you seen our dog? Small, brown, long hair, red collar." and I will say, "I'm not sure. Does he kill chickens?" And they will back away, muttering about musthavethewronghouse, and I will close my door with a smile, because we will both consider ourselves blessed. :) ]

And while I certainly felt terrible about having killed someone's dog, I did NOT regret it, if that makes sense. In the country, NO ONE can have an animal that terrorizes, injures, or kills other people's animals. And hopefully (those people did move from town though) everyone understands their responsibility in that way. We certainly do; imagine your animal causing damage to a top milker in a dairy, or scaring a prize racehorse that gets hurt... Wow. 

Truth be told, the owner of the dog is liable for the losses it caused. I have obviously not sought that, but I could've called the county animal control and filed a report and all that. I was well within my rights defending our animals on our property, and could've gotten compensation. I felt justice had been done, however, having laid to rest this problem. And besides, it seemed a little much to knock on their door on Christmas Eve, carcass in one hand, cookies in the other... "Is this your dog? Oh good. [dumps body on porch] You owe me $100. Oh, and Merry Christmas! I baked these for you!" 

**Lest you be concerned for the alleged Buster, and any pain he experienced, Hubby says he was shot through his ignorant head and was dead immediately - he died much better than my chickens, and that is how you tell the good guys from the bad.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Making Up For It, Part 3 (Or How Not to Love Your Neighbor on Christmas Eve)

Be sure to read the first and the second parts.

Where were we? Oh yes, the report of a shotgun...

...And the dog, feathers in his mouth, dropped.

(well, actually he flipped, then landed in a firm drop.)

Along with the immediate feeling of protecting and saving (what was left of) my hens, several thoughts collided in my head, before the echo of the shot had even returned. Wow, that was loud!... Oh NO, who's dog did I just *kill*?!?...Wow, that bump on my cheek; THIS is the gun I was to afraid to practice with when Hubby was teaching me to use his guns!

I was stunned, and shaking from the adrenaline, the cold, the fact I'd just used a firearm while in my slippers. (you might be a redneck if...) The dog didn't even twitch, and I began coughing and scrambling - I need to call Hubby. He needs to come home NOW, and bury this dog, before someone comes looking for their pet. Where is the phone? In the sewing room, that's right.

I took the 8 steps to the back door, beelined for the stairs, and called him. Between choking breaths, my raspy voice said, "You need to come home and bury someone's dog. Please, now!" He thought I'd said he needed to bury OUR dog, and that I'd finally come to the end of my rope with her. :) I explained, and he said he would pay for his purchases and head home directly. There was some discussion of how many shots it took (I only had one bullet. Shell. Whatever), what size the shot was (I don't know. It was on your dresser. It fit in the gun.), did I eject the shell (huh?), where I hit him (I'm not going back out there, YOU come check!). It took him a long time to get home, or so it seemed to me. I emerged from the sewing room, trying to steady my wimpy self, and found the kids by the front door putting on their coats and boots, ready to check things out. "You are NOT leaving this house! You just stay put until daddy gets home."

I sat down on the stairs, PRAYING he would get there before I had to face whomever might actually value the wicked beast, and tried to relax. To my chagrin, the kids all headed for the dining room window, which offers the best view of the backyard... and also a fairly close view of the evidence.

"Mom!" Big Sister yelled. "You killed BUSTER!"

To be continued..

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

To Make Up For It, Part 2 (Or How Not to Love Your Neighbor on Christmas Eve)

Read part 1 first. :)

So I rounded the house on the east, where there was now NO dog and NO chickens. Our dog in her kennel continued to bark, facing toward the chicken coop, to the west. Here, like this:

I jogged toward the northwest corner of the backyard - to the coop. Most of the chickens were in front (eastward) of their coop, clucking nervously, but I didn't see any marauding canine. Our dog, in her kennel, continued to bark. I jogged back toward her, and considered letting her out, because she seemed more likely to find the intruder. I thought twice though; not wanting to shoot at anything (if I had to) with her in the mix. Where did that beast go??? Perhaps it had left, circling the west side of the house as I had come around the east? I jogged that direction, and stood at the east corner of the house, looking down the driveway for movement or any sign that the animal had left. I was momentarily glad we had no neighbors within viewing-distance - I was sure I made quite a sight; frilly half-apron flapping in the breeze, worn slippers, shotgun in hand, chest heaving from the freezing air... and bits of thread and sewing-fallout all over me I'm sure.

Maybe I heard something, or maybe I just turned around, but I saw The Critter running along the chicken house, towards me (though probably 100 feet away still) with one of my hens in its mouth!!! "Oh no you don't...!" It saw me as it came alongside the playhouse, turned in front of it, dropped the hen, and went racing across the backyard toward the swingset the way it had come. I thought very little, except that I didn't want to shoot my chickens or my dog, and that I had better do it before he was out of sight on the other side of the house. I raised the gun, aimed just in front of him, tracked him until our kennel wasn't behind him (from my perspective) and... <<<boom>>>...

To be continued...

Sunday, June 26, 2011

To Make Up For It.

I've been a terrible blogger lately. I'm so sorry. To make up for it, I'm gonna tell you a story. However, I do  caution sensitive readers... (as if any sensitive readers could read here for any amount of time...).

I'm hoping the statute of limitations has run out by now... :)

Last Christmas Eve, I was chained to the sewing machine, where I usually am on Christmas Eve. Hubby had gone to the local toy/household/seasonal cheapy store (where HE usually is on Christmas Eve). It was early in the day, but we intended to be at the inlaws for the evening (and again the next morning), so it was my last chance to finish up gifts and projects. The days before were taken with cooking and baking, and prior to that we'd spent a few days with Gigi.

We were sad to note, upon our return from Gigi's Big City, that a predator had killed a couple chickens, and injured almost all the rest. They were bleeding/wounded mostly at their tail area; feathers missing, blood-stained, etc. We hadn't seen the coyotes since September, but figured that is what had happened. [The worst of it is, we had them cooped up - but the door is an old screen door, and the glass had cracked in a windstorm. Apparently the glass fell out, leaving just the screen for protection.]

In any case, I was in the sewing room, upstairs, with a view over the driveway (facing south). I was on the phone to my mom when out of the corner of my eye I saw a flash of brown in the driveway. Being otherwise occupied in more ways than one, it didn't register as it normally would have. When I finished my conversation, I noticed I could hear the dog (in her kennel) barking, and the chickens clucking noticeably. I hollered to Big Sister to see what was making the dog bark, but I had the door locked (and the children banned from the room), so she didn't hear me. I yelled again once or twice before getting up and opening the door to the hallway to yell down the stairs. I turned into the girls' room (view to the east, side yard, swingset) and went to the window to see if I could see which way the dog was barking, and ascertain anything.

Just below me was a terrible sight. A fairly small brown dog was mauling one of my hens. My heart just seized up within me. I slammed my palms on the window and shrieked the most ear-piercing girly-girl scream ever (I'm so not proud of that). I tried to open the window, but we had wedged a broom handle to keep it from sliding open (when Organique spent a naptime shredding the screen and pitching anything within reach to the small porch below), and I could not get it out. I slammed my hands repeatedly on the glass, and screamed even more, without having any affect on the violence being done there below.

I turned and ran down the hallway - in my slippers and frilly apron - saying things like, "I need a gun. Where's the gun? You are NOT going to kill my chickens you filthy ba*****." Hubby keeps one by the bed, so I ran that way and grabbed it up. Hubby had taught me to shoot the .22, and I looked for the spot wherein you put the ammo. "Where's the little slidey-thing? I can't find the thingy. Oh Lord, what do I do?" I turned the gun over, back and forth in my hands. No slidey-thing. But on its underside, a springy area. I remember that. I lifted my eyes to the dresser top, covered in nuts and bolts and keys to things, and saw shotgun shells. I grabbed just one, and dashed back up the hallway, turning the shell this way and that, wanting to make sure I knew which end was which. Firing cap. That goes to the rear. Genius, I tell you. I flew down the stairs while tucking the shell into the little springy slot, and said to the girls in my most firm voice, "Stay IN this house!" and I was out the front door (towards the driveway). I crossed the front lawn towards the east side yard and swingset muttering, "I need to get it into the chamber. How do I do that? I don't know what to do." My left hand on the foremost grip responded to some kind of genetic instinct* and I heard the oh-so-Hollywood sound - "shuh-shuck!" of chambering the shell. My eyebrows lifted in wonderment, and a little bit of surprised pride, THAT should do it. I came around to the side with the swingsets and saw.... nothing.

To be continued...

*My mom (who died, see About Us) told me, when I was young, that the purpose of my conception was so my dad could have a hunting partner. As it turned out, I wasn't the boy they expected, and my dad met the Lord when I was a toddler, and thereafter laid down his idol - guns and hunting - so I think a little part of me must be wanting to fulfill my original - if misguided - purpose. :)

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Incredible Narration

We aspire to a Charlotte-Mason style education, using narration as a fantastic tool.... I can't say my kids are THIS excited about it, however. :D

Love it!!!

Friday, June 17, 2011

In the Garden...

Carrots, 2010

Oh my days are so full! I like it; I really do, but I will also enjoy it when it is less so. I *have* written, but haven't posted. Sometimes the full days lead to full emotions and I think twice come morning and I don't post. :) You're welcome.

In the garden... I can't believe it's June 18th (almost). My garden is SO LATE this year. Most years it's just plain late. This year is worse. :) I am NEARLY done, though... Now I just hope to have a harvest!

Today I planted:
Sweet Meat Squash (seed) 
Neon Pumpkins (seed)
Patty-Pan Squash (seed)
Raider Cucumbers (seed)
Strawflowers (seed)
Edible Flowers (seed)
Lavender (seed)

This week I planted:
Rattlesnake Pole Beans (from a neighbor's saved seed)
Nash Bush Beans

I have also planted:
Roma Tomatoes (10 plants)
Old German Tomatoes (5 or 6)
Some Beefy Tomato (5 or 6)
Sweet 100 Cherry Tomato (1)
Golden Girl Tomato (5 or 6)
Some Other Tomato (5 or 6)
Spaghetti Squash (2 or 4)
Some Other Squash (or is it cucumber? zucchini?) (2 or 4)

[The reason for the variable and questionable items above is this: Sometime between my return from the greenhouse and the planting, A Child removed all the cute little tags from the dirt these were planted in, and for their 'art project' proceeded to cut them all into tiny bits. I'm depending on my memory, which is hardly helpful, because I looked at and thought about so very many things, and I don't exactly know which I decided upon. I know I have 34 tomato plants total.]

Tomato Rainbow, 2010
Purplette Onions (seed)
Purple Haze Carrots (seed)

I have tilled a spot for Precocious Corn and Indian Popcorn, but haven't planted yet. One portion of my tilled spot gets regular watering, the rest is (currently) desert. I'm not sure what to do with that difference, prior to planting...

I have also set up quite the pole bean trellis, consisting of (what amounts to) a rebar-teepee, fronted by two arched-over cattle panels, hopefully creating a tunnel/cave of bean vines for the kids to play in.

This might not sound like much, but let me tell you... It has been quite the process. My garden varies year-to-year in size (usually depending on whether or not I'm about to give birth), and layout. The entire thing is fenced in, yes, but I try to rotate things. You know, if I planted tomatoes in one spot last year, I put them somewhere else this year, etc. And between years? Well, it's not exactly nicely manicured dirt. Before planting *anything* this year, I first had to mow (I didn't mow. It choked the mower. I used a push-trimmer-thing, like a weed-eater on wheels [and steroids]) the thigh-high grass and weeds. Er, hopefully first I found all the hidden hoses and debris hiding in said grass and weeds. Then I raked what was cut off, and tossed it rudely over the nearest fence. THEN I rototilled this direction, and that, and possibly cut a length and dug a trench around each side of black plastic mulch, depending on application (i.e. not for carrot seeds, but certainly for tomato plants). I am quite proud and astonished to see such a neat-looking area where for some years it's been very wild and weedy (since 5 years ago at least).

In our dry area irrigation is also an issue, so any time something goes into the ground, I need a reasonable way to water it (this obviously changes yearly with the layout). The garden has a water line running down the center length of it (as my rototiller can attest to. Ahem.), with risers every so often (5 or 6, I think) that once held tall sprinklers. Most of these have been retrofitted with faucets or little "Y" shaped things to which you can attach two hoses, etc. I use soaker hoses for some things, attach regular hoses (for hand watering) to others, etc.

I have gone all-out with the cucurbits, as you see. I hope I am prepared this year. I bought some Neem Oil which *should* kill squash bugs without also adding to our blood chemical levels. I hope it works! Visions of pumpkins dancing in our heads... :)