dog attack, chicken feathers

Another Dog Attack on My Chickens and Ducks

It must be noted that every time there has been a dog attack my birds were on my property. Sometimes loose, sometimes penned, and always on my property. I have no neighbors in sight. There’s no excuse for their dogs to be here.

Another Dog Attack on My Chickens and Ducks

The phone rang while I was on my way home. I knew it would be Steve. We’d spoken an hour earlier but he’d be checking in. “Hey…how do I get the ducks out of the pond in the dark?” That wasn’t what I was expecting. They should have been safely up for the night in the hen house. I told him to gather up rocks to toss into the pond and wait for me. Ten minutes later I stood at the edge of the pond wondering what in hell happened.  dog attack

The ducks were frantic. They dove and splashed, scattered across the pond. They’re normally together, no more than a few feet from the next duck. I spoke softly to them. “Come on, duck ducks, let’s go.” More splashing and diving and scattering. Ava went into the pond and tried to herd them together but it was useless. She eventually got cold and tired and made her way back to the house to shiver on the porch. Silkie chicken, Khaki Campbell, duckling, henAlmost an hour into our efforts, Steve left to make sure  were in the hen house rather than the high tunnel. I saw the beam from his headlamp at the tunnel and then heard “Hey Rob? The chickens are gone.” Gone? All of them. Gone.

While that sunk in the older Runner ducks headed for the far bank to a spot where they leave the pond. Up over the bank, two and three at a time, the waddled up the steep slope. “Steve! Don’t. Move. They’re out and headed toward you.” We helped the stragglers that got tangled in the tall grass along and tucked them in for the night. Now what? How do you find 13 chickens and five half grown ducklings in the woods in the dark?

I searched for a while, stopping to listen to a lusty cow moose in search of a bull. Whuh whuh. whuh. whuh. She wasn’t very far away. I looked in all the hidey holes, three high tunnels, under the garden shed, as far into the woods as I could see, in the wood shed, the barn, anywhere I could think to look. What did this? I needed help. I interrupted Ava during her supper and brought her out to search. She quickly found feathers and intestines I’d walked by in the dark. Beautiful dark orange, fluffy, soft feathers and orange and black tail feathers littered the ground. A rooster.

Coyotes don’t behave this way. Bobcats kill as many birds as possible but they don’t lug all of them off. Fox kill and carry away, but there hasn’t been any indication of a fox in the area. And really, 18 birds? Or…the neighbor’s effing dog. It’s been here before, caught peeing on the live trap by the game camera. I got the card viewer from the house and checked the first camera. Nothing there. The second camera had what I needed. It was the next door neighbor’s dog. Son of a bitch. Another dog attack. This is the fifth attack from four sets of neighbors. I live in a town with a population of 65. Four sets of neighbors is huge. What is WRONG with people? dog attack

Stomp stomp stomp stomp back to the house, fling open the door, throw off my coat, pull on my vest, snatch the keys, ‘it’s their fucking dog,’ and out the door I went. I drove over so I could use the headlights to search the sides of the road for birds. The dog was tied out. “You! You’re the one!” Pound pound pound on the door. wait. pound again. And there ended my Irish temper. The older kids answered the door. I can pitch a bitch fit like no other but not in front of kids. Toss out Irish temper, insert former union negotiator. (Did you know I was a negotiator for the union back in my city days?)

dog attack, chicken feathers

Ava found the remains of a rooster that night. She goes back often during the day. She’s upset about her birds.

I was clear and firm. This is what happened. It was your dog. Here are the photos. Apologies. Admission. Offers to do everything possible to make it as right as possible.

Sweetie, the Silkie that hatches and raises ducklings for me, and her ducklings were gone. Boss, the red hen given to us by Jaime, gone. The egg laying machines I depend on for protein, gone. Four roosters, gone. Thirteen chickens and five half grown ducklings, gone.

I went to bed but got up an hour later. No sense in lying there listening for roosters that aren’t going to crow. The ducks were settled in and quiet. If there are raccoons still around (we’ve killed four coons and two skunks in the last two weeks for trying to get into the hen house) we kept them away by traipsing all over the place. Later, I napped for a couple of hours. At 4 am I started listening. Oh how many times I’ve thought “Oh shut up so early” but this morning I wished like crazy for one crow. I got up, made coffee and went out. Nothing in the live trap. No crowing. Now what? I’ll tell you tomorrow.

Short-tailed Weasels in Residence

Short-tailed Weasels

It started with a bag of birdseed, kept on the enclosed sun porch to prevent the red squirrels from having a feast. Mice, able to squeeze in through the small gap between the floor and door, left sunflower shells at the top of the birdseed. I thought about setting a snap trap in the bag but knew I’d forget it was there and snap myself. short-tailed weasel

Late one afternoon last winter, movement on the porch caught my eye. An ermine darted around the porch, onto the back of the chair by the window, and looked in at me. I was glad I hadn’t set the snap traps. short-tailed weasels

short-tailed weasels

Immature short-tailed weasel

Short-tailed weasels, also known as stoats and ermine, have a brown and yellow-white coat from late spring to late fall. Their winter coat is white except for the black tip on the tail, and they are then called ermine. They blend into the snow well except for that black tip that confuses owls, hawks and mink, causing them to miss the ermine. short-tailed weasels

In the wild, short-tailed weasels live four to six years. They have a 10” long body and a tail that’s 3 to 4.5” long. They weigh just under a half pound with females a bit smaller than males.

Short-tailed weasels have a voracious appetite. They’ll eat more than 40% of their body weight each day. Their diet consists of mice and voles, red and gray squirrels, cottontail rabbits, snowshoe hares, birds, and insects. Meadow voles can cause a lot of damage to greens in our high tunnels during the winter, and red squirrels take up residence in the attic so I’m happy to have a bit of help with pest control. Consider the power it takes an eight-ounce weasel to kill a four-pound hare. The weasel wears the hare down by chasing it, and then delivers a well-placed bite to the back of the neck, severing the spine. short-tailed weasels

These weasels will wipe out the inhabitants of a rodent nest and take it over as their own home. They also live under tree roots, brush and rock piles, and inside rock walls. They keep multiple dens. I think one spent some time in our lumber pile, driving the dogs crazy. I moved a pile of empty grain bags in May and heard squeaking. Assuming it was mice, I pawed around a bit to locate the nest. Instead, I found a nest of furless, wrinkled short-tailed weasels. The mother squeaked furiously at me, out of sight but very close. I replaced the bags and left.

Next morning, still dark and early, I heard movement in the attic above the kitchen. The weasel wasn’t having another episode with me and moved her babies to a safer place. For the next two and a half months we listened to scurrying, squeaking and some rough and tumble play. We let them be; they weren’t hurting anything.short-tailed weasels

Short-tailed weasels aren’t shy creatures. Mother weasel left the attic, ran through the attached woodshed, out the back door, across the yard, and into the woods. We crossed paths often as I did yard and garden work, and I sometimes sat to watch for her when I took a break. She returned, sometimes in two or three minutes and other times as long as 15 minutes later, with a meal in her mouth. When she started bringing fresh meals to the nest her prey seemed to be dead. Later on, as the babies grew, her prey was very much alive. She hunted from before sunrise until after sunset for the last two weeks they lived in our attic.

In mid-July, just outside the hen house, a bird fussed in the top of a choke cherry tree. In the branches, a young short-tailed weasel robbed the bird’s nest. I wondered how much of a problem I was going to have with my poultry. Being curious, the weasel skittered around a cold frame and came to rest at the top to check me out. I let the dog bark at it in hopes of scaring it far from the hen house. short-tailed weasels

I haven’t seen a red squirrel in months and haven’t heard one in weeks. I’m happy to have them, the short-tailed weasels, and the squirrels out of the attic.

Sourdough Toast – Homemade

Sourdough Toast

Sunday morning. Steve has weekend duty so we’re working all weekend. I worked on a piece for 1800Gear yesterday then loaded, moved, split, and threw three-quarters of a cord of firewood into the high tunnel. It feels good to do heavy work again without hurting more than the normal ache of hard-worked muscles. Steve didn’t have time to cut more logs into stove-length pieces and I’ve cleaned up everything he cut last weekend, so I have the morning off from firewood. I’ve been knitting, reading Taproot (best magazine ever), and made myself some breakfast.

sourdough toast

I have a loaf of sourdough that isn’t as fresh as I like for a sandwich but it’s perfect for toast. Toast and a couple of fresh eggs sounded great. I could have gotten out the toast but I wanted better toast. Not fast toast, but definitely better toast. One of life’s little luxuries is sourdough toast, you know.

Heat the cast iron pan until it was hot enough to start smoking, then turn the heat back to a little more than low. My propane stove has two power burners on the front (one would have been plenty) so low on my stove is medium-low on a regular stove. Adjust accordingly.

Place the slice of bread on the pan and keep an eye on it while you do other things. Flip when it’s golden brown. If you don’t like your toast soft in the middle, continue flipping until both sides are nicely browned and the center has dried. I like dry toast so that it better absorbs butter, jam or egg yolk. If you want to have the butter all hot and melty, butter after the last flip and leave it on the pan.

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sourdough toast, cast iron, silkie eggsI was a bit over zealous in cracking the first egg and broke the yolk but that’s okay, it’s all delicious.

Homemade sourdough toast, eggs from homestead-raised, free range, self-feeding chickens, and a dab of local butter. People wonder why some of us share pictures of our food. I think they would too if they had such good food, even if they think they wouldn’t.

I fed the sourdough starter this morning. Unlike good sourdough keepers, I don’t feed mine daily. I forget. It’s not an old starter, only two weeks old, so I should be tending it better. It’s good but has room for a lot of improvement. It will get better with age. It has a tangy, sour aroma now and it adds flavor. I’ll pay better attention this week since I’ll be home. I need to feed it twice what I have been so that I can make two loaves this week and share some with Tammy.

Next time I bake bread I’m going to add pumpkin and pumpkin spice to the dough. I think pumpkin spice sourdough toast will be nice for fall. If it turns out well I’ll share the recipe.

sourdough toast, cast iron cooking

What’s your favorite way to make toast? And what kind of bread do you like?

Enter to Win a $50 Gift Certificate to Coffee Bean Knitting

$50 Gift Certificate to Coffee Bean Knitting!

gift certificate to coffee bean knitting

It’s chilly! Let’s do a giveaway to help keep one of you warm this winter. Kristin Follette Coulombe, owner of Coffee Bean Knitting and the gorgeous girl in the photo, is giving away a $50 gift certificate. There are several ways you can enter to win. You may spend the gift certificate anyway you’d like. The gift certificate expires on December 31, 2016 so you have a while to use it, but why would anyone want to wait! Kristin accepts custom orders. You can work out the details with her.

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brick wall

I Hit the Wall

I Hit the Wall

It’s official. I hit the wall yesterday afternoon. Two months of baiting and hunting, being away from home for eight days, more freelance work than usual (which I’m loving), the garden, death, raccoons and a skunk… In a nutshell – life. I don’t need to list everything. You know how it is. Life caught up to me yesterday afternoon and I hit the wall.

Here are some of the things I wish I’d blogged about but didn’t. I’ll get back to it  next week. Monday’s blog is already in the schedule. I have a mental list of things I want to write – organic sour dough sandwich bread, The Liberty Project, chicken butchering, a writers and readers conference, and bear hunting. Applesauce and apple pie filling. A bear skin rug. So many things! I’m ready to settle in by the fire with too many cups of coffee, and blog.

So, here are the things I wish I’d blogged about but didn’t because was busy preparing to hit the wall.

I didn’t shoot this bear.
black bear, hit the wallI’m still picking eggplant, cucumbers, tomatillos, leeks, eggplant, tomatoes and peppers in the high tunnel. There are still beets, turnip and broccoli in the garden. This is Little Prince eggplant from Renee’s Garden.

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Little Prince eggplant, Renee's Garden, eggplant, hit the wallThis happened times three, plus a skunk, in about 10 days. The ducks fuss all night. I go out to check on them, the raccoons disappear. I don’t let Ava go with me because she absolutely hates raccoons. I don’t want her tangling with them. There are more.
hit the wall, raccoon in a live trapI picked five bushels of apple on Wednesday, then harshly pruned the tree. The branches were so heavy with apples they pulled the branches to the ground. It was an apple tree cave. An old doe eats under the tree every night. I was concerned about the safety of people driving by and the deer, so out of season, I whacked away at the tree. There’s a bit more to do but it’s going to need a chainsaw. The ground couldn’t be seen before I started.
apples, hit the wall apples binWe got 6.87″ of rain yesterday and this happened a third-mile past my house. See the difference in pavement past the last cone? This happens too often. I hope someone’s able to figure out a way to cross Peter O’Neil brook permanently.
hit the wall, flood damage, September 30, 2015I’m happy to be slowing down for a while. Life is good.

building a fire pit

Building a Fire Pit

Building a Fire Pit

Two weekends ago we had family over for a campfire dinner. Taylor and Steve put together a stone fire ring that morning because I hadn’t gotten to it. Since May, I hadn’t gotten to it. I liked it so much better than our other, small ring that I knew I wanted to expand it so that I can cook outdoors more often. I got busy with building a fire pit Sunday morning. I’m excited about the new opportunities for campfire cooking. building a fire pit

building a fire pitSteve dug boulders out of the garden and yard with the tractor over the years. They were piled at the end of the garden, hard to mow and weed whack around, and a pain. Snakes enjoyed the warmth of the sun-warmed boulders but I didn’t appreciate the weeds.

I had this great idea from Pinterest. I’d build the base, leaving openings for air flow and light. It would look great at night! Ya. Pinterest fail. None of the bounders are the same size and while some are flat-ish, they’re not fire pit flat. They aren’t carefully chosen and shaped to fit together. I thought we’d space out the boulders and cover the gaps with other boulders. It was a nice thought. building a fire pit

building a fire pit
This 100 pound boulder was supposed to bridge a gap. It does not. After fooling around with it a few times I told Steve I didn’t really know what I was doing (it was not news) and suggested he put the boulder down and go back to cutting firewood. He closed the gaps since that wasn’t going to work with what I have to work with, and went on his merry (relieved) way.  This is what I came up with as a start. building a fire pit

building a fire pit
It was a start. I gathered up the rest of the rocks and pieced them together. I’ll replace the small rocks with bigger ones as I find them. building a fire pit
building a fire pit

building a fire pitI have room for four Dutch ovens in the big pit. That’s great for get togethers but most of the time it’s just me and Steve. I rolled the tire rim in. It’s sitting on rocks to let air flow in to keep the fire burning well. I don’t like a smokey fire. building a fire pit

building a fire pitI thought more about the design as I worked at building a fire pit. Some of the rocks came out and were spread around. An opening will make it easier to use.

building a fire pitI wanted to get more rocks today but still had next year’s firewood to work on. Being Maine, there are more than enough rocks available. It won’t take long to get them, remove the small rocks, place the larger ones, and fill in with the small. It isn’t fancy but I like it!

Autumn Morning

Autumn Morning

autumn morning, fire, flames, coals, woodstove, wood stove, wood smokeI miss sunshine when I want to walk at 5:30 am. Ava misses going out at 4:30 am when we get up. It’s still very dark then. If it weren’t for skunks I’d let her out. She’s making friends finally, trusting other dogs, and if she came upon a skunk she’d probably let it get close. I knew we had a skunk a few weeks ago when I bent to dump a water pan and caught a whiff from under the hen house. Later, I found small holes in the lawn, evidence of a skunk digging for grubs.

The forecast called for 38° this morning, and 38° it is. I closed the windows and set up the fire last night. A match took care of the chill this morning. When it was light enough to see without a flashlight (which doesn’t have to be very light if you let your eyes adjust) I let Ava out. While I put my boots on she charged the live trap. It was tripped, flipped over, dragged around, and empty. The empty bait buckets were on the ground. We have a raccoon. It’s been here at least three nights, upsetting the ducks and chickens.

No frost this morning. The forecast calls for our first frost tomorrow, September 26. That’s three weeks later than average, and I’m still not ready. I’m still hoping the pumpkins will ripen. One’s getting there. I’ll pick all of them today, bring them to the porch, and cover them at night to keep the frost off them. The chickens will eat them even if they stay green. autumn morning

I picked up a half bushel of apples yesterday and will pick up at least that many today. Applesauce! And probably some fruit leather. I’ll bring more apples to the food plot for the deer, turkeys and hare, and a bunch to the laying chickens. This batch of meat birds doesn’t like apples. That’s unusual. autumn morning

I love an autumn morning.

We Have a Problem

We Have a Problem

Oh my goodness, life is too busy these days. I still haven’t harvested a bear, and I’m running out of time. He was on the game camera five minutes after I left Tuesday evening. Five minutes. I was sick to my stomach over it and wished Steve hadn’t told me. He must have known I was there and waited for me to go. Had he been walking in as I was leaving he’d have heard me and been scared off.  Three days left to hunt and I don’t have a bear yet. We have a problem but that’s not “the” problem.

I didn’t exactly hit the ground running this morning. It was more like staggering. Slow staggering. A cup of coffee before chores helped. The 32 meat chickens were down to their last 48 hours. While the five gallon waterer filled I dumped food into their 2 gallon hopper. Thirty-two meat chickens share two gallons of pellets with 20 ducks and 12 laying hens. They’re on their own for the majority of their food. There’s plenty out there for them to forage.

I moved on to the high tunnel to let Sweetie and her five ducklings out. She’s done a fantastic job of raising these ducklings, as always.

Back to the meat chickens. They’re 32 heat creators in a covered chicken tractor. Steam trickled out when I opened the tarp to let them out for the day, the tarp tucked into snug to let air flow. I’ll be more careful tonight. We’ll load them into crates Friday night and they’ll be leaving at 4:30 am Saturday. If I fill my bear tag I’ll be going with Steve when he takes them to a friend’s house to process. The friend has a plucker. I wanted one but can’t spend $700 for something we’d use twice a year.

I have 20 ducks now. They’ve discovered the pond so I fill the blue plastic kiddie pool for the tiny ducklings that are just starting to feather out. I leave the water running while I let the ducks and laying hens out and collect eggs. There were only two eggs this morning; they need a light. I’d like to find a home for the Runners. They’re not great layers in their older age but I don’t have the heart to eat them. I’ll keep the older Khaki Campbell drake, the first drake that hatched this year, all of the KC hens, and one or two KC x Runner hens if there aren’t a half dozen new KC hens. Follow that No, me either. The ducks I don’t keep will be butchered. We have too many ducks right now but that’s not “the” problem.

I took a peck of apples, a mineral block and the game camera to the new little food plot. Something has eaten all of the brassicas and nibbled at the tender new clover. I suspect its the resident hare but it could be deer or turkeys. Or all three. The camera will tell the story of what’s dining in the plot. I hoped the brassicas would get a little bigger and last a little longer before being eaten, but that’s not a problem.

Back in the house, I had two cast iron Dutch ovens to season. The problem with seasoning with olive oil is the smoke. The smoke alarm went off twice even though it wasn’t that smoky. While the ovens were in the oven I picked up a half bushel of dropped apples to turn into sauce. I’ll get to it tomorrow morning. They can wait; it’s not a problem.

There are so many apples this year they’re weighing down the branches. I’m pretty sure I was doing Downward Dog from yoga while picking up dropped apples under one of the trees this morning. I brought in the half bushel and didn’t make a dent in what’s still on the ground. I hope to get them all cleaned up on Sunday. More will fall but if I can get caught up I’ll be able to keep up. Keeping them cleaned up helps prevent apple scab. I don’t use pesticides of any kind on our apples, and as you can see, they look great. I want to keep it that way.

problem, applesThe problem is, we have a mouse. I noticed a few empty shells on the huge sunflower head sitting on the dishwasher a few nights ago. “Jerk. I don’t have time for you.” And then there was mouse poop in the drawer where I keep the kitchen towels, potholders and dish clothes. “Little bastard…” I had to wash and bleach them, and now they’re stored on the counter where they’re less likely to be chewed into nesting material. I went to the kitchen two nights ago and heard chewing. I flung open the drawer and there he was, a small young field mouse. I called to Ava but she was not interested in ending her rest. He got away before I could smack him.

problem, mouse trapI should have set the traps then and there but I was tired and lazy and didn’t want to look for them. The one functioning trap is now set in the drawer. Didn’t mouse traps used to last for more than few mice before breaking down? I don’t like these wimpy plastic traps out today, and the old fashioned ones are surely trying to snap my fingers off…at the elbow.

While looking for the traps this morning I found about a cup of sunflower and bird seed in the drawer. The new BBQ baster has been destroyed. We hadn’t had mice in the house in over a year. I suspect the steel wool I used to block their hole has been relocated. The short-tailed weasel hasn’t been around as far as I can tell. She killed hundreds of voles and mice while she was raising her offspring here.

Mice are cute and all but they’re pee dribblers. They pee here and there and everywhere as they skitter around. They’re poop machines. They have no decency. Their world is a bathroom. Their world cannot include my house. When I catch the mouse or mice they’ll be placed on the bird feeder for the blue jays. Waste not, want not even when it comes to mice.

I have a ton of freelance work due. That’s not a problem but timing is tight. I’m going to write another article for The Liberty Project before I leave to hunt this afternoon. I’ve already prepared the photos. I’ll fill you in on what I’m doing there as soon as the first article has been published.

Note to self: add mouse traps to the shopping list.

Bear Hunting – One Week To Go

taylor follette, bear hunting, maine bear hunt
It’s the last week of black bear hunting over bait. Taylor took her first bear last Tuesday, a 220 pound dry (no cubs) sow. She butchered it herself and with the help of family and friends, made a lot of bacon burger and sausage over the weekend.

I’ll be hunting the rest of the week. I’ve seen four bears but none suitable for harvest. A sow brings her twin cubs to the barrel daily/nightly. I watched them on opening day but haven’t seen them since. I sat at that bait a lot, hoping for a big bear. Instead, this little one showed up over the weekend. It’s a yearling. I’m not interested in this bear. I passed on a different yearling about 10 days ago.
yearling, black bear, maine bear hunt, bear huntI’m hoping to be in the right place at the right time, be able to sit still, and be able to hold myself together well enough to make an excellent shot or two today, on this bear. If not today, by the end of the day Saturday.
black bear, bear hunt, maine bear hunt, bear hunting bear hunting, maine bear hunt, black bearThis one has me a little nervous. I don’t know which direction he comes in so I don’t know if he’ll follow the road behind me and a trail beside me. Maybe he’s coming in from the left in this pic, which is ahead of me when I’m sitting. And speaking of sitting, I’ll be sitting in a ground blind. The tree stand at that site is painful to sit in so we set up a new blind over the weekend. Steve and Matt sat there Saturday.

We’ll either have the broken freezer repaired by the end of the week or a new freezer purchased. Either way, we’ll have a lot of room for this year, or another if an acceptable bear shows up, and the chickens by the end of the weekend. I can be patient but today would be great.

Homesteading Writer: A day in the life

Homesteading Writer: a day in the life

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

I’m having an identity crisis lately. I’m a homesteader and a writer, and a lot of other things. I wanted to be just a writer today. Not a homesteader, a maid, or anything else. I wanted to put in a solid 12 hours of writing. HA! Being a homesteading writer means few trips to the grocery store (once a month), being too busy procuring food to write as much as I’d like, and not wanting to trade it for the world even though I sometimes bitch about everything I need to accomplish (I don’t get it all done most of the time).

Most of our meat chickens are roosters. Maybe all of them are roosters now, I’m not sure. When I let the birds out of the tractor yesterday morning one of them seems to have been trampled. Going in last night, she was off her feet. This morning, no better, and maybe a little worse. <sigh> Off with her head. Literally. While she bled out I let the rest of the meat chickens out, opened the bird door on the hen house to free the ducks and egg chickens, tended Sweetie and her ducklings five, and forgot to collect the eggs. On the way back to the chicken I noticed broccoli ready to be cut so I grabbed a half bushel basket and half-filled it with main heads and side shoots. Some of it should have been picked a week ago but I wasn’t home. It’s going to be made into cream of broccoli soup. Should I Honest Kitchen the recipe?

chicken tractor, homesteading writer, a day in the life

This is a chicken tractor. These are not this year’s chickens.

8 am. Chores are done. We currently have 32 meat chickens, eight egg layers, four roosters, and 20 ducks varying in age from around four weeks to 1.5 years. They have to be fed, the waterers scrubbed and refilled, and eggs collected. The meat chicken is dead, Spotify is playing Dan Gibson’s Forest Cello, and I’m going to the kitchen to remove the breast meat and legs from the headless chicken lying on the counter. It took six minutes to process the chicken. She provided 1.1 pounds of meat that will give us two meals for two adults. The carcass will be fed to wildlife. Nothing goes to waste. There’s a lot more to being a homesteading writer than homesteading and writing but both take up a lot of my time. It leaves little time for mundane things like housework. I’ll get caught up on that sometime or other.

There’s time to write now. I have to write Wednesday’s Honest Kitchen recipe for Stuffed Mushrooms in 20 Minutes or Less. I’ve started this blog for Thursday. My first draft of the first article for The Liberty Project (so freaking excited!) has been written; I’ll work on the second draft.

Ava needed a bath. Desperately. “Oh no I’m NOT getting in the bathtub.” I picked her up and wrestled her in. She was good after that but by the time we were finished with the second wash she was over it. Any bets on how long I can keep her out of the pond?

Back to writing. I’m nervous about the article. I’m letting lots of what ifs get in my way. Break time.

Ava and I go “bear hunting.” I take her with me to check the bait barrel. I haven’t been in 12 days. I officially called it done before bear camp. It hadn’t been touched by anything but vultures. I tipped it on its side, took the logs out, and left it. It was “hit” sometime in those 12 days. Everything but a bit of molasses and oats were gone. I stood it  up, put the logs back in, and backed out. Will it be hit again? It still smells like molasses. We head home so I can get ready to hunt.

I sit at the ground blind about 50′ from the barrel. Behind the blind, I can scribble notes about what’s happening while I’m watching for bears. A brown creeper lands on a tree 15 feet away. If I had a camera it would disappear quickly; I’ve never been able to photograph a brown creeper. It creeps up and down the tree for five or six minutes.


What I think is a sharp shinned hawk lands in a tree six feet from me. I startle it when I move but it doesn’t go far. It sits 20 feet away for about a minute.

At 6:30 pm my phone lights up. It’s on silent while I’m hunting. Whoever it is, I’ll call them back. Oh…it’s Taylor. OMG IT’S TAYLOR! “Hello…” I whisper with a bit of excited apprehension.

“I just shot the big bear,” she replies. She hasn’t heard a death moan but she did hear it crash (fall over). She’s called her friends, also her co-workers, and they’ll be there soon to help her.

I try to sit still for a few minutes but I dropped my quiet voice in my excitement. If there were a bear in the area it knows I’m there. I call it a day early and go home to wait from word from Taylor. It’s a long night that I’ll tell you about after Taylor’s been home to tell us her story.

It’s dark when I get home. The meat chickens are asleep – outside the chicken tractor. It takes a few minutes to get them moving in the right direction. I close the bird door to the hen house, take the silkie hen off her perch in the high tunnel and make her stay in the pen with her five duckling babies.  I bread and pan fry the breast from this morning’s chick while steaming broccoli. Supper is delicious, homegrown and simple.

I stay close to the cell phone to wait for texts and calls from Taylor. I climb into bed at 10 pm, reply to her text at 1:30 am.

A day in the life – not what you were expecting, eh?