I can’t figure out why I don’t get more done…

I try not to let 3+ weeks pass in between posts, but in my defense I’ve been dealing with *a lot* of distractions lately. The weather has been so beautiful, it’s hard not to want to be outside. And that’s exactly where all the critters want me to be. It seems like whenever I get into a writing groove (since I can’t ignore deadlines for that long), I’m faced with this:

Puppy eyes are my kryptonite. Who could deny her a romp around the yard? Then I’ll come back inside, sit down and mentally steel myself to write something witty while simultaneously being informative, then decide I need a cup of coffee. (Or, in all honesty, yet another cup of coffee).

On the way to the coffee pot I’ll glance out the deck door, and have to rush back outside to save my potted veggie deck garden from 3 hungry geese. So much for the baby gate, apparently they’re smarter than your average toddler.

rampaging geese

Even Charlie is in on the “let’s keep mama from working” plan. Whenever I have a note I want to jot down on the legal pad by my keyboard, I’ll have to go hunt down a pen to write with. Not only does she flip them off the desk, she grabs them and runs off to cache them away somewhere. It’s also open season on paper and binder clips.

charlie pens

And don’t even get me started on the hummingbirds. They hover by the window and glare inside at me if the sugar water drops to what they consider to be an alarming level. You know what else has a powerful glare? Baby swallows. There’s a nest of 4 of them in the barn rafters, almost directly over where I milk Cocoa. Not only does mama swallow come flap in my face, she’s taught her babies how to creep me out:

gargoyle swallow

Seriously, some church in London is missing its gargoyle. They’re also experts at giving me the stank eye:

vexed swallow

So now I try to milk, hay, and water as quickly as humanly possible considering I’m outnumbered.

Of course, it never pays to be in *too much* of a hurry around here, since this is what happens if you do something like leave the truck door open because there’s more to unload:


first PollyWhenever I need a few moments of Zen, I’ll head over and visit the Pollies. They’re in various stages of development, and just doubled in number since I acquired most of Jennifer’s remaining tadpole stash as well. They weren’t getting enough protein in the trough, so we made the executive decision to re-home them.

The ones I’ve had since the beginning are already starting to turn into frogs and find new homes in the garden! So that’s one mystery solved – they’re tree frogs. And super cute, the size of my pinky nail.

cocoonOf course, they’ll grow up to eat Monarchs, but that’s what the Sanctuary is for! I’ve lost count of how many adults we’ve released now, it’s more than 25.

There are 7 more chrysalises waiting to hatch, and then we’ll be done for the season. I’ve already got grand plans for expansion…

Speaking of rapid expansion, with Jennifer’s help I managed to solve another mystery. In the last few weeks, I’ve noticed whenever I go outside (as we’ve established is often), I rapidly start to sound like Darth Vader after running a lap around the Death Star.

Jennifer came over the other day, and asked what was growing underneath the bird feeders. I’d originally thought it was daisies, but when they never blossomed figured they were some kind of pretty weed. I left them alone (and occasionally even watered them) because the chickens LOVE spending the day nestled in their little forest. Plus it cracked me up watching the weeds sway back and forth as they ran around looking for dropped sunflower seeds – totally reminded me of the velociraptors in Jurassic Park.

At any rate, she broke a length off, took it home, and looked it up in her book. Turns out it’s ragweed. According to my allergy test, I’m allergic to its pollen. But they should have amended the results to Ragweed, Vicinity Of, because it hasn’t flowered yet. And when I went to yank it all out, I had to pop 2 extra Claritin just to stop wheezing. I was smart enough to wear gloves, but next time I should think about long sleeves as well. Sigh.

Pride Goeth Before The Fall…

As the resident lawn mower around here (by choice, there’s something that’s just meditative about it), I get in plenty of practice. I like the grass short as it keeps the ticks at bay, plus I keep trying (and failing) to mow those perfectly straight lines.

I was even getting more comfortable with mowing the steep hill part of the lawn! And therein lies the problem… I got so cocky I even drove the mower one handed, since the other was occupied with the sandwich Gene so thoughtfully surprised me with. I had literally just started to think that I could probably mow with my knees, and thus free up the other hand for an ice cold Gatorade, when disaster struck. Not of the “I tipped the mower over” variety, but it was definitely close. Hills seem a lot steeper when you’re sideways on them, with only half the mower making contact with the ground whenever you shift your weight.

On the plus side, by that time I had finished my sammy. On the down side, getting off the mower involved jumping over a bunch of thistles, and convincing Gene that he should be the one to extricate it. Which he did, but managed to lecture me about “respecting the laws of physics” while pulling it out. Sigh. Just once I’d like an entire week to pass without getting a power tool related lecture!

So that was a bit stressful, but luckily I’ve got a brand new place to meditate. As I mentioned before, I’m rearing up a frog army which currently is still in tadpole form. They’re doing great in their huge red bucket, and I check on them multiple times a day. Some people stare at the ocean or a beautiful water fountain to achieve a Zen-like state – I’ve found a bucket of tadpoles works just as well, if not better.

First off – they’re super cute. They’ve got beady eyes that follow you everywhere, and even when they’re just floating around they look fat and happy. They also seem to have their own individual personalities, which is pretty impressive, considering. Some of them like to lurk under the broccoli leaf pieces, calmly munching away while staring reflectively at the sky. Others like to breach the surface and blow bubbles at the clouds, only to sink back down into the depths to do some heavy thinking. And then there’s the handful that are straight jerks – and yes, those are my favorite.

I’ve watched them headbutt their siblings to get the choicest bites of food (insect wings are a favorite, shudder), submarine them from below, and assume ramming speed, seemingly just for the hell of it. Total, complete Zen.

Also Zen? Hummingbirds. Once I’ve catered to their every need (which involves refilling the selection of feeders *at least* twice a day), I love sitting on the deck and watching them defend what they perceive as theirs from incursions both foreign and domestic.

Seriously – those little guys are in it to win it. Each of the 9 or so that nest around here have “their” watering hold staked out, and woe to anyone else who tries to snack from it.

Including, oddly enough bumble bees. Not only do they grow them big in Northern Minnesota, they grow them greedy. I literally have to kick them off when it’s time to refill, and they’re so sugared up by that point they kind of just sit there and shake. Whoever said sugar couldn’t help you achieve Nirvana?