Tuesday, August 2, 2011

My Ideal Morning

Morning is my favorite time of the day. I love getting up to the sounds and smells of the morning. Today, on my morning walk, I thought about what would make an ideal morning for me.
First, I sleep late. Well, late for me, which is about seven o’clock. Then I get up, get dressed, and make my way into the kitchen for a cup of aromatic coffee, warm and rich, with just a bit of bite. The dogs lie at my feet and a cat jumps into my lap and settles down for a purr as I check my email and Facebook for the latest news.
After my cup-o-joe I get up and invite the dogs to join me for my morning walk, to let the chickens out of their coop and then get the paper. We walk up the driveway with the dogs chasing each other and running to nuzzle Anna as she guards the driveway from unseen intruders.
The chickens are moving around in the coop, watching me through the window. Crowlee is anxious to get out and lets me know by crowing over and over. I can hear Iris, the guinea hen, making her “ka-ka-ka-ka” call, also ready to be out of the coop. Tending to the chickens is next, adding feed to the feeders and giving them fresh water, then I can open the door to the coop and let the birds out to greet the morning. Crowlee literally jumps through the door and stands in the opening blocking the other birds from getting out, but they push past him, even running through his legs to do so.
Next I continue on up the driveway, calling the dogs and cats to join me on my trip to get the newspaper. We stop to look at the orchard and then start back towards the house via the path around the pond. The dogs take a short swim in the pond, and chase each other through the woods, running back to join me on the last leg of our morning stroll.
Our last stop is back at the house where I fill the dog’s water bucket and water the plants before I step back into the house and settle in with another cup of coffee and another check of my email.
Yes, this would be my ideal morning….
But wait. I have just described this morning.
I couldn’t ask for more.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

On “The Farm” Life Is Certainly Entertaining

This morning was one of those mornings that held a delightful surprise for me. It wasn’t yet dawn when I crawled out of bed, got dressed and started my morning farm chores. The morning was rainy and damp and I didn’t relish the thought of getting out in it and experiencing the ambiance of a cold, wet day. Morning farm chores. Sounds positively dreadful, doesn’t it? Well, let me explain…

My mom started calling the acreage I bought “The Farm” from almost the first day she heard about it. The name stuck, even though, in fact, it was not a real farm. We have always had dogs and cats but up until this year we had no livestock. Three hens, a rooster, and three guinea fowl are now my livestock. Livestock!

Since I am now an official farmer I have official farm chores, which include letting the birds out of their coop in the morning, giving them feed and water, and closing them up in the coop at night. These chores are not something I shirk or try to avoid. I know from owning dogs and cats that they need daily attention to not just live, but to thrive, and I happily try to give them what they need to be happy dogs and cats. And now I do the same for my chickens and guineas.

In fact, I enjoy working with the birds, especially the chickens. Each time I approach their covered yard they run to the gate to greet me. I’m sure they are expecting a treat but I prefer to think they are happy to see me. As I work in their yard, giving them feed and water, they follow me around and two of the hens come up close and watch me. I pet them frequently, thinking that they will be used to human contact when it comes time to clip their wings and then remove the netting from the yard so the guineas can roam freely, eating the dreaded ticks that plague the other animals on The Farm.

This morning it had started to rain so I decided to open the coop up early in case the rain got harder and I wouldn’t have to go out in a downpour later on. I figured that the birds weren’t even awake yet since I hadn’t heard Crowlee (our rooster) crowing. I grabbed my raincoat but didn’t grab my camera because it was too dark to take pictures anyway. The dogs and I made our way to the yard and I opened the door to the coop. The chickens weren’t too anxious to get out of their cozy coop and into the rain, and I was ready to get back into the house. Then it happened. Crowlee crowing. What’s special about a rooster crowing? This time it wasn’t an ordinary crow, the one he crows regularly. No this was Crowlee making his trilling crow. He was still in the coop, but he was crowing and trilling. I wasn’t sure if he would still be crow-trilling if I went back to the house to get the camera to record it, but I decided to try anyway. When I got back to the chicken yard with the camera he was nice enough to crow for me a time or two. Thank heavens I was able to catch it.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

My Tag Team Alarm Clock

Do you need an alarm clock to wake up every morning? I certainly don’t! At times I daydream about the high pitched rhythmic “beep, beep, beep” of my old alarm, wishing that it could awaken me out of my dreamy slumber like it used to. But alas, my alarm clock has become worthless. Useless. Not at all necessary. Yes, my alarm clock went the way of the Dodo bird.

And why is my alarm clock extinct? Well, you see, I have cats. Not just any cats. Special cats. Cats who have a built-in alarm system all their own. And they are nice enough to share.

It usually starts with Mini walking up the length of the bed stopping near my pillow where she sits and waits for me to wake up enough to get up to feed her. Instead I move her away, then roll over and try to snuggle back into the covers for another few minutes of sleep. Again she walks back up beside me and tries the “slap at the light switch” and the “climb the lampshade” maneuvers. I move her away from the lamp and try something different by rolling over, scooping her into my arms and trying to hold her down, hoping she will settle in and decide to sleep with me a while longer. Since her efforts have not resulted in their morning feeding her brothers Bart and Yowlee step in and take their turns. One of the two will jump up on the bed and attack my feet while the other lies down on the floor and uses his claws to pull him along the perimeter of the box springs. Now I snap my fingers, which at some remote time in the past worked to stop the cats from their bad behaviors, but not this time. No, the clawing at the box springs continues, sounding like the plucking of a guitar string below the bridge. Plunk, plink, plooopk. Noises guaranteed to get me out of bed and reach for the spray bottle of water I keep next to the bed to discipline the cats. I step around the end of the bed and aim the spray nozzle at the cats but they are not there. They have skittered down the hall and are now waiting in the kitchen for their expected breakfast.

No, I don’t need an alarm clock any more, and if you’d like one of mine I would certainly consider sharing.

I wonder. . . would I miss my purring foot warmers?

The cats enjoying their breakfast after getting me up.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

The Virtues Of Patching Jeans

I know, I know… The fashion trend is to have shredded jeans. Some even have ‘patches’ showing through. At a recent art and craft fair I saw a pair walking by with shreds from thigh to shin on each leg, and quilted floral fabric peeking through the shreds as the 'patch'. And it was quite… ahem…. fetching? Well, not really. Especially because I knew that they had been purchased that way.

You see I believe that shredded jeans and patches should be earned and not purchased. Any hole, rip, shred or fringe that appears on my jeans is there by my hard work. And, when my favorite pair of jeans does develop said hole, rip, shred, or fringe what do I do? Wear them to town and flaunt my 'designer' look? No! I PATCH them.

Patching jeans is a tradition passed down from my Mamma, who was a true virtuoso when it came to patching jeans. She patched my brother’s, my dad’s, my friend’s, and my jeans for years. Her style was usually more structured than free-style, and her method was to use the best unworn denim she could find for the patch and to never use the stiff, ugly iron-on patching material that is still (believe it or not) available today. Even before she had a zigzag sewing machine she patched using a plain straight stitch. This utilitarian method, while not fancy, was certainly effective, and those patches usually held better than the surrounding jean fabric.

After getting a zigzag machine her patches became more artistic and whimsical, some even funny. I remember a certain pair of red jeans I wore and wore and wore, until the seat was paper-thin and the knees virtually gone. When she returned them to me after her patching session they sported appliqué fabric flowers on vital spots on the derrière, and vines and leaves and more flowers on the patches she applied to the knees. I wore that pair of jeans with pride and bragged to anyone who would listen about my Mamma’s patching talent.

Recently my brother presented me with four pair of jeans to be patched. I put the task off for several weeks because once one begins to patch it is hard to stop, and I was afraid that I would end up patching the cat-claw-shredded mattress pad that covers my box springs if I ever got started with patching. But yesterday, since the weather was nippy and I didn’t want to work outside, my conscience began to gnaw at me, forcing me to uncover my sewing machine and begin the patching task. I pulled several pair of really old jeans from a pile that I reserved for patching material and began to look for enough good denim for the patches I would need to apply. I unfolded one pair and looked carefully at them and there they were; patches from mid-thigh to shin, stitched with a feather stitch in dark blue to mimic the color of the denim. Patches made by Mamma.

I sat and fingered the stitching; thinking of her love for us; to patch clothing that was clearly worn but not worn out. Sacrificing her time and effort to stretch the life of the clothes. Making something work instead of making something new.

In today’s language she would be recycling. But that wasn’t the reason she patched jeans. She did it because she loved us and it was the right thing to do.