Tuesday, April 26, 2011

More Stinky Dead Things...

Digging for Dead Treasure
So once again the kitchen is filled with a strange bad smell.  It seemed to be coming from the room off the kitchen aka T's workshop or Ed's freakshow or the crap room.

T feared that it has something to do with the 2-seater outhouse that's in there.  Maybe they never pumped it out or the wetness was causing whatever remained to get churned up and stink.  It didn't smell like septic though (and yes I am also very familiar with that smell).  I told him it was Ed decomposing under the house (the previous owner whom he blames for all the quality craftsmanship or lack thereof).

So last night he got the flashlight and went down the basement stairs (which are still treacherous and not fixed) to peer in-between the wall slats and look under the floor in the "crap room".  He called me over to look at the furry creature he could see that appeared (and smelled) to dead by the old crapper. This is a picture of T digging under the house (the foundation consists of a few rocks and some cinder blocks if you are lucky) to try and scoop up the beast.
Not enjoying himself...
And this is T with toilet paper stuffed up his nose to try and deaden the horrible smell while he retrieves the creature.  He wasn't happy about the camera either.  I wanted to video him but the dry heaving and profanities would have been a problem for you tender viewers.

We did successfully remove the offending creature.  It turned out to be a very large possum that apparently crawled under the house to die.  The weird thing is that when we were looking at this house, this particular room had a similar smell and in September T found a dessicated skeleton of another possum...hmmm...

The source of the stench - a possum bigger than my house cat!  He is now buried way out in the back yard and the house has been aired out.

On another note, T found two dead baby bunnies in the well.  Shall we take the toll - one squirrel, countless mice, one snake, two possum, two baby bunnies...let's hope that is all for this year anyway.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Dear Easter Bunny....

There is no doubt about it, the Easter Bunny is in over his furry bunny head this year...  These are notes to him from my children...
This is from my daughter:

"Dear Easter bunny,
What I most want I want a puppy and igseresreas (accessories) for my doll.  I don't want candy.  I want a puppy.  so can you give me a puppy
Cassandra XOXO"

and this is from my son...

"Easter List"
All I want for Easter is ducks.  I can give you 3 reasons why

1.  I would like to watch and learn about ducks

2.  I'm intred (interested) in birds
3.  Cassie has Rory, Rory has Cassie but me I don't have anyone.

Now if that isn't about enough to break your heart I don't know what will.  Thank goodness my three year old cannot write!!!!

Poisoned by Ivy

Okay yeah, so all this yard work is really starting to pay off.  I've got my first case of really bad poison ivy.  Of course it is my own fault - I did have short sleeves on and I did suspect that there would be some residual poison ivy...

T and I both had it mildly last year.  He sprayed with round up and the plant is pretty dormant - no leaves yet - but yup alive and well. 

Thankfully I wore gloves!  I've got it bad on both forearms and one elbow and scattered patches elsewhere.  The itching is so bad that it wakes me up at night.  I went online to see if there was a cure.  I came up with a lot of conflicting information - the gist is to dry it out, but whether you do that with calamine or alcohol or saltwater or gasoline is debatable.  I even read something about rubbing a mango on it.  I haven't tried that yet, but I am about that desperate...

So I went to visit my docotor.  I thought maybe she would give me a cortizone shot or prescription strength something to stop the itch.  She told me to use ice.  She also wanted to put me on a steroid called prednisone.  She then cautioned me that some of the side effects might be weight gain and depression.  If I felt puffy I could stop eating salt (!)...

I can't help but being reminded of Jack's "Would you rather" book ...  Would you rather have skis for eyelids or buttocks made out of bologna?  Neither!  But after weighing my options I decided that I would rather be itchy than fat and crazy.  It's been a week now and I am taking my nightly epsom salt baths, washing with Burts Bees Poison Ivy soap, slathering up with hydrocortizone and trying not to scratch...

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Godzilla vs. the crocuses

Happy Spring!!!
Most of the existing gardens on the property are fairly neglected.  Having moved in the fall we were not sure what the spring would bring.  We were happily surprised by these crocuses.  They popped up in the back yard.  The tree provides a nice wind break and southern exposure.  They were the first to bloom.

The kids actually found them and even my three year old was excited to give me a tour of the yard and show me the newly blooming flowers.

Our enjoyment was short-lived however.  It seems a certain three year old (we shall call him Godzilla) took it into his cranky head to go on a flower stomping rampage.  By the time my oldest son came in to report the situation, the damage was done...  Upon inquiring, the best I can make out is that the flowers were "evil" and had to be destroyed.  Something about Mrs. Figgy ( a diabolical pillow-pet pig ) controlling them and they had to be stopped... 

Sad, pathetic stomped crocuses
Sigh!  We had a big talk about stomping flowers and how now we have to wait a whole year for them to rebloom.  He said he won't do it again, but unfortunately it is too late for this year.  He got pretty much all the crocuses blooming in the yard.  He better not TOUCH the daffodils!

My daughter said "Mom, it's a good thing you took a picture!".

Thursday, April 7, 2011

The big duck dilemna...

Add caption
My oldest son is obsessed with having ducks.  I think he saw a documentary or something and is fascinated by how the ducklings hatch and imprint on what they see.  I think he is intrigued by the idea of them thinking he is their mother.

The duck thing started last year, before we moved.  He was excited to move to a place that was actually big enough to have ducks.  It also was surrounded by neighbors who had farm animals.

For Christmas he received a book on raising ducks and he has read it many times.  He has spent hours on the Internet researching all the different types of ducks, their personalities and their egg laying abilities.  He wants to sell their eggs at the farmer's market...

All this sounds great, right?  But ducks are messy.  They poop everywhere.  You have to give them clean water and clean bedding every day.  You have to build them a predator-proof pen.  Everything eats them.  Even hawks will fly down and if not snatch your duck, just grab a piece.  They don't go to bed at night like chickens so you have to put them to bed...  If they survive all the predators they can live for 20-30 years!  They also can become emotionally attached and dependent upon people.

The last thing I need is a depressed duck because my son has lost interest (or grown up and gone to college)...  I tried to discourage this whole thing (really!).  I took him to meet someone who had grown ducks (really not so cute as ducklings).  We talked about the fact that some will die.  We talked about him having to clean up poop and deal with the stink and the flies.  We talked about having to hire a duck sitter to give them fresh food and water if we want to go away overnight...

He is undaunted.  Daddy says no! - he has too much to do, he can't handle ducks and needs at least another year to get a pen ready.  We need him to dig a concrete foundation (so nothing can dig under there) and frame it up and cover it with two types of wire (to prevent racoons from sticking their hands in and grabbing them) and cover the top so hawks can't swoop in and predators cannot climb over.  That stuff is beyond me....Jack is not happy. 

If you want to know where to find ducklings, they have them at Clem's in Spencer around Easter.  Ducklings cost $5 each and they have different kinds.  If you want to build a duck pen there are plenty of youtube videos.  My favorite site for step by step with materials options is this one:  Build a Duck Pen.  If you want someone to talk you out of ever getting a duck - this is blog to read:  Want a Pet Duck?

And here is some light reading....
Enslaved by DucksStorey's Guide to Raising Ducks, 2nd EditionGiggle, Giggle, QuackKeeping Ducks & Geese

Clearing the Land...

Rory with his ships - or are they just sticks???
We got a burn permit from the fire department for burning brush.  I don't think this land has been touched since well before the ice storm of 2008.  There are so many downed trees and branches, and trees covered in vines, poison ivy and briars.

 Rory, Pilchy and I have been making stick piles.  Lots of stick piles.  Rory also makes lots of "ships" out of branches and I have to figure out what is a "ship" and what is a branch that can go in our piles.  If I pick a "ship" there is a lot of protest.

My friend Eric likened us to the pioneers, clearing the land.  I think he has been reading too many Little House in the Prairie books lately! 

Me and Pilchy picking up sticks - yup in my pjs and coat...
Although I will say that there is a certain satisfaction in picking up all the chaos and putting it in nice neat piles.  It is kind of like when you pick up that playroom and after hours you finally have missing pieces returned, everything in it's place and a clear view of the floor.  Only it's actually more satisfying than that, because when you are done "cleaning" then you get to burn it all.

There is still so much to be done, but we have made some progress.  We can burn things until the end of May I think.  We will need every day of that!
The Snarled Mess of Vines

The stick lands...
Here are some pics of what is still left to clear.  Of course this is only the wooded part.  The back field is a whole other story...  T is planning on brush cutting all of that and eventually putting in a garden.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

The snake in the well...

Can you see the snake on the right hand side?
So there is this well in our back yard and my husband and the kids think it's cool.  There are interesting things in there like frogs and snakes.

It makes me a little crazy because as you know things can fall into a well.  Things like children and cats.  Important things like that.

This well is about five feet deep.  The water is usually at the half way point - about three feet, but sometimes after heavy rains it can be up to the top.

I tried to convince my husband to fill it with rocks or dirt or cement, but he refuses because he likes it.  He thinks it is neat.  I tried to talk him into covering it with a big metal grate (where can I find one?).  He has plans to build some stone thing around it (mind you not immediate plans).  I found a large wooden wishing well at the MillStore that we can stick over it.  I just need to steal his truck and some strong people to heft it through the overgrown briars and cover that hole!

Anyway, I digress, the point actually was to show you the snake.  If you look in the far right corner you can see a garter snake half in the wall with his head resting on the log.  The problem was that he was there for three days in a row.  I poked him with a stick  (yes I am very brave) and he didn't try to get away.  I concluded that he must be stuck.

A few down the well.
So I waited for my husband to come home.  He is after all the snake expert in the family and doesn't seem to mind touching them.  This by the way is not the same snake that was living in our kitchen.  That was a milk snake and this is a garter snake.  Unfortunately, I can now tell the difference.

So Tristan comes home and he checks out the situation.  He said that snakes "don't get stuck" and that he was sure he could get out of there.  He poked it with a stick too with the same results (jeesh I DID that...)  He opted to leave it alone and didn't do anything.  I told him to stick his hand in there and see if he could loosen it or push it down.  He didn't do it.  I offered to get him vaseline so he could grease up the snake.  He thought I was crazy.

Man investigates snake
So the next day I went to work - I actually work twice that day so there is not a lot of time at home to play with snakes.  When I got home finally around 11:30p.m.  he had a confession for me.  He told me that the snake was still there and that he decided it was stuck (!).  He tried to pull it out (I really really wish I could have been there to video it - I find it highly suspicious that he avoided me and my camera.  huh!)  and got it out, but it's tail was a bit mangled and it had a cut on it's belly and did not survive the rescue.  I am pretty sure that it had been stuck since the weekend so it was probably pretty weak as well. 

So I guess you can add a snake to our death toll of one squirrel and many, many mice.  We now have a snake free well.  The snakes do come back though to eat the frogs so I am sure there will be more.  Hopefully the others will be smarter and not get themselves stuck in the wall.