And just as I wrote how “my” creatures were doing so well, our little runt, Pebble, who had held her own and was doing so well, got a wing torn off, through the wire fence of the chicks’ extra run, in broad daylight. We isolated her, and I looked at the wound as best I could on my own. She seemed alright, roosting, eating, drinking. But then chickens never want to show they’re hurt or in pain; the flock weeds out the weak links instantly and viciously  (we’ve seen it). Still, foolishly we thought, “let’s give her a chance.” After a while I was able to look at the wound, with DH helping, and she was smelling bad already. I sharpened my cleaver, speaking gentle words took her to the back of the garden, laid her down on a tree stump, and without thinking about it took off her head. Amie and I buried her in the pet cemetery. RIP, Pebble.

The Little Coop they’re in has a coop (box) and a run made of welded wire, impenetrable by predators and their claws. It is getting too small for them, so I had made an extra run out of some garden wire staked into the ground, a garden wire ceiling. Not knowing what got Pebble (we thought a cat), I let them in their extra run and stuck around, reading a book (Alphonso Lingis, The Imperative, in case you’re wondering). After an hour or so I looked up to a commotion near the big chickens’ run: it was a racoon. At 3 in the afternoon! Aren’t they’re supposed to be nocturnal? Then I realized  he/she was inside the run, but how? I was sitting right in front of the only entrance. My exclamation of surprise sent it scurrying through the hole he/she had made, giving it away: a narrow gap between the fence top of the run and the coop. So that’s why I was blasting through chicken feed so fast: each evening before dusk we closed the run, but this raccoon had been partaking of the buffet, night and day. And yesterday I also took Pebble’s wing.

So we’re somewhat stuck. We’re letting the big chickens out, hoping they can fend for themselves, but we also closed the gap and now that racoon may be getting hungry enough to go after them. The little chicks are cooped up in their too-small run, except when I am in the chicken yard with them, reading books (not a bad thing). It’s not sustainable. Stay tuned.

Following my nose, trying to find what was smelling so bad in the front yard, I almost stepped on him, the Barred Own. Flattened over his prey in the growing dusk I hadn’t seen him. He took off silently. Startling. Here’s what he had been covering: a headless cottontail in the front yard (photo taken from inside the house).

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Soon the hunter reappeared and we could take photos and video of him, ripping and eating, trying to move the rabbit (but he could only drag it a few feet), all the time keeping an eye on the surroundings, us included. He stared right at us, not intimidated.

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Darkness fell fully and we could no longer see him. In the morning this is  all that was left:

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After over a week of temperatures in the 90s and scorching full sun, it is cooler overcast with some mild rain (still not enough, though). I get to catch my breath. Today I weeded, pruned and trellised tomatoes. Tomorrow I may really get to the wood chip piles: add them to Wood Chip Heaven and (this will require carting them up our hill) as a mulch to the perennials up top and in the paths in the vegetable garden, all the while pulling weeds. If I have any oomph left I may even move some into the chicken yard, or I may start laying out some paths on our slope.

In the meantime one more critter has joined the menagerie of bunnies, chipmunks, squirrels, and lots of birds in the clover:

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We are also seeing some interesting insects, like this one, which Amie called the cotton candy bug, literally on our doorstep:

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I’m finally harvesting tomatoes, peppers (hot and green) and zucchinis. I pulled all the garlic, 125 bulbs for about 6 lbs.

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For seed I am saving the largest heads, as well as the actual garlic seeds from the scapes I allowed to mature. These seeds are also planted in Fall, and make great bulbs. I also finished the disappointing potato harvest: 6.25 lbs of tiny potatoes for about as many of supermarket potatoes that I put in – I blame it on those seed potatoes, next year I may splurge on actual seed potatoes. This means I have two more empty beds for the Fall harvest plantings. This year will I actually have a Fall harvest?

A friend found a dead sparrow and brought it to us for our home school. It resided in our freezer for a couple of weeks until today we remembered it.
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We unwrapped it and studied it for a bit, which wasn’t easy as it was frozen stiff. Then Amie suggested a funeral. We brought it outside to the compost bin. I put it in there, and Amie said some words. She had no connection with this individual bird, so it was a different, exploring kind of speech. She tried “Have fun in heaven” and “You flew so high”. Then she remarked that we all have to die, “like Gilgamesh learned”. (I had told her the story of Gilgamesh yesterday evening.) That was fitting. She poured some “happy sand” (yellow sand) on the little corpse. Then we turned the compost over it so it can feed new life.
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After that we visited the chickens, which were yelling for us. They are such complainers, but they’re very generous: in the nest boxes we found eight eggs.
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Our last stop outside was also with a bird. This was a chicken Amie made in summer out of clay. This is what it looks like after a winter on the porch:
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Amie knew exactly what had happened. It had been wet and then frozen, so it exploded from the inside.

This was the third Monday, in a row, that school was cancelled. This storm’s a long one, and it’s not done yet. But this is what it looks like for now:

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I think that, after (very nearly!) eight years of this blog, the creation of a “weather” category is in order.

The juncos have arrived from up north.

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This morning we were all still in bed when there was a loud rap against our bedroom window pane. I jumped out of bed, knowing it was a bird that had just collided with the glass. I looked out and there, among the flock of juncos grazing in the grass, was a spread out, unmoving one.

I threw on my jacket and scarf and rushed outside with a kitchen towel. There is was, still not moving. Normally I’d leave it, watch it from a distance, but it was cold and a bird in shock like that would probably not recover, or get eaten by a cat or what have you. So I picked it up and wrapped it in the towel. It was only as I was bringing it into the house that it revived a little.

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We kept it warm for ten minutes, then it started squirming and got away from me, demonstrating its desire and ability to fly. I caught it and brought it outside to let it go. It flew off in a jiffy and we rejoiced.

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We had the clothesline out on Sunday to dry out some tarps, and it was graced by two dragonflies who really liked their perch: they let us photograph them from pretty up close, and whenever they flew off, they returned immediately, so we got to try the new camera’s macro function and lens.

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