Saturday, September 4, 2010


Whoo knows what evils lurk?

9 pm. After playing 20 questions with a toddler who didn't care that it was bedtime or that her sister was trying to nurse and sleep, everyone is finally tucked in.
Outside, Alaska makes it's presence known. Night is returning. The 9 pm sky was dusky enough to cause the shadows to play tricks on me. Every dark patch is a potential moose, bear, or wolf. Simple things like a chicken squawking because it was locked out of the coop make you jump out of your skin. I hurried through outside evening chores. Didn't pet chickens or talk to the turkeys as usual. Wanted to get back to the house before the shadows ate me. With the chickens locked up in their coop, I scurried up the path to the house, a watchful eye on the treeline, a skittish glance around the corner of the house to make sure the water was turned off.

Only once I was safely on the front porch did I pause to really survey the scenery. The dark of twilight gave sharp contrast to the yellow hues of the birch and cottonwood trees. Details like peeling bark stand out against those same spooky shadows. A glint of light off an owl feather high in the spruce trees makes me glad the chickens are tucked away. "That's MY dinner" I say out loud to the night predator.
Smoke curls from the neighbor's chimney. Wood smoke is carried through the damp chill of the autumn-like night. I take a deep breath of it. Damp, smoke, rotting leaves, wet dirt, and even yucky chicken yard... I love this season.
I survey the 2.65 acre homestead and think about tomorrow's work. Much to do.
Meanwhile, I should head in and build a fire. It was 36F this morning when I let the chickens out. There was ICE in their waterer. No doubt now. Summer days, driftin' away. That's okay by me. I'm ready to settle down for the big chill.

Farm work is calling this week! We'll begin by butchering a few chickens tomorrow. By Tuesday evening, we'll be eating from our own stock. (For farm rookies, "resting" the meat after butchering makes it more tender. I could tell you the science of that but don't want to offend anyone's taste for meat.) It's a bittersweet occassion for me. I tried hard, but I admit that I love all my little birds. Even the surly rooster that really needs to be butchered because he's come after me twice. He has a name, but I can't print it. Poor guy. He's first on the chopping block.
*Ricky Bobby might be spared. He's a good rooster. It's a toss up between him and another really good fellow. *

We'll only be butchering a few birds- mostly roosters and the Cornish Rocks that were selected as meat birds from the start. We'll do the major culling and butchering once we establish a good laying flock. Still waiting for eggs from the freeloading hens.

Once butchering is done, we'll finish clearing off a portion of the land and try to get a bulldozer in here to level it off. Once that is done, we may be able to get the flock to higher ground.

The potatoes will be harvested this week. The rest of the garden was ripped out and will be tilled under, along with a blend of poo to fester under the snow all winter long. Maybe then we'll get a better garden. If I can get them in time, I'll try to put in garlic starts.

Then, the task that will continue until it's too cold to be outside (because it will neve be "done")- splitting and stacking wood. And even when it's too cold to be outside, J will likely continue to split and stack wood, because it will still need to be done. Me? I'll be knitting by the fire, or homeschooling at the kitchen table, or watching reruns of my favorite Little House episodes on DVD.

I should be reviewing butchering instructions in our poultry raising library.
Until Next Time,
Happy Moose Trails!


Gloria said...

Lots of hard work to be done yet, but it needs to be done. Sure wish I could help!

JackDaddy said...

Your post reminds me of why I only live 1/4 mile from a grocery store! :)

But I bet the benefits far outweigh any convenience I might have!

JackDaddy said...

Re: Dog Hair

Not Jack. Some guy comes to the local park every day and brushes his dog and leave the mess everywhere :(

Anonymous said...

Maybe if you butcher those "free loaders" (chickens) maybe the other chickens will get their butt in will scare the eggs right out of then you can make the Breakfast Casserole :)