Category Archives: Adventures in Homesteading

Feet First

With some encouragement from family and friends, I’ve decided to look into getting some of my stories published.

In looking back through all I’ve written over the past two years, I’ve found that I’ve built quite an extensive portfolio: Joe the Bug Hunter, Audrey and the Bubblebath Kids, Adventures in Homesteading and Mischief Makers plus all of the kooky poetry and haikus I’ve composed on gardening.

So why not give it a go?

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I’m just in the beginning stages of research, but so far I’ve found that there are two main options for publishing a book: self-publishing and traditional publishing.

In researching the traditional method, the common theme is that it takes time and patience…and a thick skin.

First, you have to find an agent, which takes time.

Once that’s done, the agent will want to revise your book before showing editors and publishing houses, which takes more time.

If said agent finds an editor willing to buy your book, you’re in for another round (or several rounds) of revisions before the book even goes into production. And then you may not even recognize the story as the one you initially wrote. The whole process could be a horrible experience…or a wonderful one. Which takes even more time.

In all, it could be a year or more before your precious book is published, and then…what if no one buys it? Or worse…it gets a really bad review?

On the flip side, going the traditional route has its benefits.

If the book gets picked up, you’ll have editors, an illustrator, a printer, distributor and promoters, plus a nice up-front payment. It may take a few years, but if the book is a success you’ll start receiving royalties and have only paid with your time and tears.

Then there is the self-publishing route. It’s the same steps as the traditional route, but you have to pay up front for editing, illustrating, producing, promoting, printing and distributing the book.

You, the author, also have more control over the book and content. No one can tell you to cut a scene you feel is integral to the storyline. But, as a stay-at-home mom, novice blogger, budding gardener and beginning writer…do I really have the time, money and energy it takes to self-publish with any success?

I don’t want to dip my toes in the water, I want to jump in with both feet and I’d like a guide (in the form of a nice agent) to help me on my journey.

On the other hand, I don’t want to limit myself to just one storyline, one editor or one publisher “guide”.

I want to keep writing and putting more content out there for feedback.

Then I realized, I don’t want to do traditional publishing or self-publishing…at least not right now.

I’m already putting my content out there. It’s on this blog. I share it on Facebook. And, some of my readers are kind enough to share my blog with others.

I’m getting feedback all the time. The next step is to start networking and sharing with other aspiring authors–gaining insight from their experience, giving and getting feedback in writing forums.

I don’t need to limit myself to one path right now. I’m not a professional author and my stories, while think are good, are far from polished.

For right now, I’m going to continue writing all of the stories that are racing through my mind. I’m going to be happy that I’ve found the writing bug again…that my creativity and imagination continue to flow.

I’m not going to limit myself and pull my focus away from doing what I enjoy…but I am going to start having the confidence to promote my stories and treat my writing as an art rather than just a hobby.

Adventures in Homesteading: Keira Returns (Part One)

Boots and Echo were crouched under the back deck, flicking their tails.

“Too big, way too big,” whispered Boots.

“Oh, I don’t know,” returned Echo, “I think we could take it.”

Boots shook his head and rolled his eyes…Echo’s confidence was going to get her in trouble.

The hawk, Keira, perched regally on the edge of the chicken coop and watched while the chickens squawked and ran around like their heads had been cut off. She looked intently at the chicken wire covered pen, trying to determine how she could get in and grab a tasty meal.

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The cats heard the deck door slide open and Lissa yell at the hawk.

“Shoo! Shoo!” she shouted, flailing her arms around and getting pancake batter all over the deck, the cats and herself.

Once the hawk flew off, Lissa called out, “Boots! Echo!”

The cats looked at each other and ambled up the deck steps.

They reached the door and sat, patiently waiting for Lissa to speak.

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“Well?”

Boots looked at Echo. Echo looked at Boots.

“Well??”Lissa repeated.

“Er…what?” asked Echo.

“What are you going to do about the hawk?”

“Well, first I think we should–” Echo began excitedly.

“Now wait just a minute,” interrupted Boots, licking a paw. “When we signed on to this gig, mice and small birds were the only pests we agreed to hunt.”

Lissa fairly spluttered. “The mice took on any job I asked of them!!!”

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“We aren’t the mice,” said Boots stretching his front paws.

It was true. Lissa had a hold on the mice. They were dependent on her kindness or they would starve, be in danger and have to move on.

The cats, however, could fend for themselves if they needed to. Sure there were predators that could harm them, but they were quick and smart.

In other words, she had no power in this relationship.

“Fine,” she said and stomped back into the house.

As the siblings headed to the back garden to get some breakfast, Echo asked, “Well now what did you do that for? We have it pretty good here don’t we? We sleep in the garage and have an endless supply of mice. And, we can come and go as we please.”

Boots looked at Echo and smiled his cheshire smile. “You aren’t thinking big picture, Echo. We have all of the power here and we want to hold onto it.”

Echo looked at Boots with a confused expression.

“We’ve told her we don’t have to get rid of the hawk,” began Boots speaking slowly as if speaking to a small kitten. “Now we will take care of it and she will be eternally grateful. It’s a win-win situation where we come out on top.”

A slow smile formed on Echo’s face. “Wow, you are so sneaky Boots.”

So the cats spent the morning hunting voles and coming up with a plan to get rid of the hawk.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mabel the Able Hen

Holding a cup of coffee, Lissa stared out the kitchen window and wondered at the change in the weather.

Fall had snuck in right behind summer as it always does, but it never failed to shock her. It was, of course, not as abrupt as it seemed but it still made her…just a little…sad.

“Time to move the chickens,” she said to no one in particular.

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Later that afternoon she donned her rubber boots, denim coat and gardening gloves and met her husband out at the coop.

“Let’s let them run around the yard a bit,” he said.

Lissa thought that sounded like a good idea. They could use some exercise before being “cooped up”.

Side by side, they worked together pulling all the birds out to run the yard. Most of them stayed as close to the coop and pen as they could, trying to figure a way back inside, but there were a few ladies who ventured out into the pasture, knowing they would find the good grub in the tall grass.

They were the smart ones, thought Lissa.

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It took longer to get the coop situated than Lissa had planned. The tires were flat and needed to be changed and the watering system needed to be dismantled so the lines wouldn’t freeze.

It was tough work, not helped by kids and chickens trying to get into the coop and cats trying to get chickens.

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At last the coop was moved, the heated waterer plugged in and the chickens safely back in their home.

Lissa always did a final head count of the birds before heading inside.

“Uh oh,” she said.

“What?” asked her husband.

“One hen is missing. There are only 7.”

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They both started to walk the property, looking for the missing hen. Lissa saw a flash of red out in the pasture.

“Found her!” she called to her husband. “I’ll get her, go ahead and start trimming the fedge.”

Lissa trudged out to the pasture calling “chick chick chick”.

After a few minutes of looking, she saw the bird pecking and scratching in the swale. She walked slowly and bent to pick her up but the old girl squawked and quickly waddle-ran away. She moved quickly, but Lissa was still able to make out the red spiral band on the chicken’s foot.

“Mabel,” she sighed in frustration.

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Mabel was their most aggressive and independent hen. She was constantly challenging the other birds and had pecked Lissa’s hands on more than one occasion. She was also their best layer.

Lissa knew that if Mabel didn’t want to come back in, they would be hard pressed to force her. She sat in the tall grass for a little while trying to think of a way to trick her into the coop…without getting pecks all over her arms.

They used to have a big fishing net they used to round the girls up, but Mabel had rendered it useless when she went berserk and ripped it to shreds and they hadn’t yet replaced it.

She tried shooing Mabel, but the hen just zig-zagged around her with threatening squawks coming from her beak.

She tried sneaking up from behind and grabbing her under the wings…that resulted in a few sharp stabs to her hands…one that drew blood.

Cursing under her breath, Lissa decided that her best option was to wait until nightfall. Mabel would have to go somewhere to roost, and it would then be easy to catch her. She might even return to the coop on her own when finished exploring, scratching and eating fresh bugs in the swale.

She told her husband her idea while helping him stake blackberries in the fedge. He nodded his head, thinking it sounded like a good plan.

Dusk had started to come earlier and earlier, so after dinner, Lissa once a again pulled her boots on and headed outside to search.

First she checked the coop to see if Mabel was waiting to get back in. No luck.

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There weren’t a lot of places for Mabel to roost. They had just a few trees in their yard. One by one Lissa checked the trees, not finding Mabel anywhere.

On a whim, she went out to check the wood pile. Sure enough, there sat Mabel…sound asleep.

Smiling, Lissa reached to pick her up gently.

Just as she closed her hands under the wings, Mabels beady little eyes snapped open…a look of rage pointed directly at Lissa.

It was not a pretty sight. Feathers and hair were flying in every direction. Determined not to let Mabel win, Lissa almost strangled the biddy right then and there.

Finally, Lissa was able to hold Mabel so that the talons would no longer hurt and the beak would not peck. She ran back to the coop, opened a laying box and forced Mabel in, shutting the hatch quickly.

Lissa leaned her head onto the coop, breathing heavily and taking stock of her battle scars. She heard the sliding door open and her husband’s voice calling out.

“Everything ok out there?”

Lissa walked out from the coop and slowly climbed up the steps.

“Yep,” she said, breathing heavily. “Everything is just fine.”

And with that, she walked into the house with feathers stuck to her hair and clothes and blood oozing from wounds on her arms, her husband staring at her in shock.

“Oh,” she said over her shoulder, “I’m going to go ahead and order that poultry hook.”

All Wrapped Up

It’s just about the end of the year and I cannot see making any more progress on my 13 in 14 endeavor. We tackled quite a few of the skills, and we’ve accomplished much more than planned over the past year.

And now, a final review of the 13 Skills we planned to “master”  in 2014.

1. Sewing – I did not sew a Halloween costume for the boys so the hem is the only project I’ve completed this year. I’m counting it. COMPLETE

I did, however, make an AWESOME turtle shell for Joe’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle costume.

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2. Auto Upkeep – Complete fail here. I did not learn how, or even attempt to learn how, to change my oil. I know there is still time in the year…but it’s not going to happen this year. FAIL

3. Firearm Training – This weekend I am going to attend a Women on Target class with a good friend. I am extremely excited for and a little nervous about this class. IN PROGRESS

4. Wilderness Skills – Ray and Joe camped in the backyard one night. It was a great experience for Joe. He learned how to camp, clean up and that there are always snacks when camping. COMPLETE

5. Teaching – Still no space for learning downstairs, but I’ve realized that the space is more for me than for the boys. Our classroom is everywhere we go, and a quick check in for what Joe and Jake should be doing/learning at his age has shown me that we are doing a pretty darn good job. COMPLETE (and ongoing)

6. Reloading – Another fail…there’s always next year! FAIL

7. Health and Fitness – I do have a 5k in the running (pun intended). In December, I am going to participate in a Jingle Bell Run. Our team theme is “Santa and His Elves on the Shelf.” That is pretty much the extent of my health and fitness goal. We are still trying to eat better and the CSA and garden this year really helped with that. As COMPLETE as it can I am willing for it to be this year.

8. Raising Chickens – BEYOND complete. Still super stoked on how well these birds did and how awesome the chicken coop, designed by my husband and father-in-law, turned out. COMPLETE

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9. Bee Keeping – This one is on hold for a few years per my previous update. COMPLETE (sort of)

10. Gardening – The two swales we put in have done a fantastic job holding water. We’ve barely had to water this year due to all of the rain and, with all of the trees we have planted, watering would have been a full-time job.

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Next year, we need to research and do a better job of saving seeds. We’ve missed so many opportunities this year and we’re feeling a little bit silly that we will AGAIN be buying seeds next year. COMPLETE

11. Archery – Yeesh…yet another skill put off to next year. FAIL

12. Blogging – I’ve started watching 5 Minutes With Jack and am learning more about how to grow my blog audience as well as turn it into a little side business. IN PROGRESS

13. Canning – We canned mild salsa and plan to can some hot salsa. No pickled okra, beans or pickles this year but this is a huge improvement over last year. COMPLETE

Overall we completed 8 skills, 2 skills are in progress and we had 2 fails–which will be added to next year’s list.

Our goals are complete
In some areas we’ve failed
In most we’ve outshined

Adventures in Homesteading: A Letter From Home

Dear Pudgy, Pipsqueak and Gomer,

It is with sadness I write this letter to you, my dear friends. I can hardly hold this crayon due to my shaking paws and lack of opposable thumbs.

The plan you had so carefully put into place to reclaim the garage and your rightful place as keepers of the homestead is for naught. We will not be able to defeat Boots and Echo, those horrible and heartless beasts.
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Last night, a new family of mice moved into the garage. I believe it was the Pestersons, you know too well how jealous they were of your position as chief caretakers.

Just as they were moving into your box to settle in for the night, those ferocious felines pounced out from under the van and attacked. It was a massacre, a flurry of claws and teeth, the likes of which I had never before witnessed.

Stay away dear friends. Be glad you escaped in time from this fate that could have been yours.

The funeral is Friday, but I beg you not to attend. The homestead is too dangerous for all rodents.

Yours in sadness,
Leo the Chipmunk

Side by Side Comparison

Happily, I came home from a long weekend to discover that my girls had given us two more eggs. So this morning, Joe and I decided to do a little experiment: store-bought vs. freshly laid.

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Store-bought (r) Fresh (l)

The one from the store was larger, but the yolk was not quite as yellow as the one from my girls.

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Store-bought (r) Fresh (l)

They cooked up about the same; but, though smaller than the store-bought, the yolk on the fresh one was thicker and creamier with a much richer flavor.

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I believe Agnes laid the first couple of eggs. She was in the coop this morning making all kinds of racket. She must have tried to lay an egg again, but it was a soft-shelled egg. Near as I can figure, she was up in the roost when she laid it because it was broken underneath.

When I retrieved it, it was obvious that she hadn’t tried to eat it as the yolk was still intact. If they do start eating them, we will have to start over with new layers because once they get a taste for eggs, you can’t stop them from eating them all the time. The only cure for chicken cannibalism is the freezer.

If this becomes too much of an issue, we will try supplementing their food with more calcium…but the layer feed we have been feeding them is pretty balanced, so this may just be a natural part of the learning process for a new-to-egg-laying hen.

Our makeshift tunnel finally ripped to shreds so we used some caging material we had for our plants to create a new one. I think the girls really like being able to see when they go up and down the ramp because every time I’m out there, two or three of them are taking turns going up…and coming back down…going up…and down. They’ll stop in the middle of the ramp and the one behind will yell-squawk at the one in front. “Get out of the way Bertha!”

Kind of hilarious.

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Agnes laid some eggs
She squawked and made a racket
They were so yummy

Adventures in Homesteading: The End (Part Two)

The final chapter for the mice.

***

Pudgy, Pipsqueak and Gomer were feeling sad. They had just tried to talk with Keira, the hawk who had helped them with the chipmunk problem.

They had hoped she would extend her services to Boots and Echo, the new cats on the homestead, but it would seem that Boots and Echo had gotten to her first and the three of them had come to an agreement on sharing the bounty of mice, voles, chipmunks and any other tasty morsel the land would provide.

“There are plenty of pests to be had around here,” Keira had said. “No reason we can’t share.”

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These two furballs were a threat to their existence and comfort! What about the lasagna, the cupcakes? What about their comfortable box in the garage?

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But they knew that these cats didn’t care. They knew how selfish and haughty most cats were. Looking out only for themselves. Playing with their food like the uncivilized beasts they were.

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And so, reduced to begging and hoping for some sentimentality from Lissa, they scratched at the door while the cats were out hunting and waited for Lissa.

The door opened and Lissa stepped out, looking down at the mice, here eyebrows raised in question.

“We’ve come to throw ourselves at your mercy,” said Pudgy. “We cannot stay here if the cats do.”

“Yes, it’s either them, or us,” added Pipsqueak.

Gomer grunted.

Lissa gave them each a long, hard look.

“While I appreciate all of the help you have given me…first with the strawberries, then recruiting Keira to help with the voles and birds, I can’t help but remember our first meeting.”

The mice thought back, guiltily remembering bribing Lissa to house them.

“Yes, well,” began Pudgy.

“And I also recall that some of the problems I’ve had around here have been caused by the three of you.”

They could think of nothing to say for they knew that it was true, they had caused some of the destruction that they had helped clean up.

“What are you saying, Lissa?” asked Pudgy, already knowing the answer.

“The cats stay,” she said.

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And so, as the cats pounced and played in the yard, Pudgy, Pipsqueak and Gomer sadly packed their belongings. Lissa did them the honor of keeping the cats occupied while they sniffled and scurried out the garage and down the lane.

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They’re Back…

While wandering through the garden yesterday, I noticed that the volunteer squash leaves were looking a little droopy. Upon looking closer, I noticed that there were holes in the leaves. I looked at the Jerusalem artichoke and saw something that made my stomach drop.

The Japanese beetle.

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Droopy, yellowing squash leaves

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These ants are on the artichoke cleaning up after the beetles. They are attracted to the ‘scent’ the beetles leave behind after munching on the leaves.

The destruction these beetles caused last year still haunts me. Our attack plan, while satisfying and effective at ridding the gardens of these pests, was more defense than offense; and, while we didn’t lose any plants to the beasts of destruction, we did lose a lot of production and growth.

After we saw the beetles on the squash and artichokes, we picked them off and fed them to the chickens and then wandered around to see where else they had infiltrated.

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In the kitchen garden they were all over the borage. I smiled at this, actually smiled because it told me that the borage was doing it’s job as a trap crop! Sure, it’s beautiful and edible, but that is not the main reason we planted it. We planted it to trap evil sprites like the Japanese beetle and keep them from destroying our produce.

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Japanese beetle feasting on the borage

Out in the swale, the beetles were tearing up the weeds, but that is preferable to them being all over our gardens. There were one or two in the fedge, on the aronia of course, and a couple in the vineyard.

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Newly installed bean trellis – beetle free

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Vineyard – Hops

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Beetle-free blackberries in the fedge

And so, armed with the bug vacuum and my trusty bug hunter at my side, we will be patrolling the gardens a couple of times a day, sucking up these nuisances and feeding them to the chickens.

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The beetle battle
Again we face this villain
Armed with dust busters bug vacuums

Adventures in Homesteading: The Beginning of the End (Part One)

“Since the hawk is having trouble keeping up with our vole problem and it appears we now have rabbits too, I’ve decided to get a couple of cats to help out.”

Pudgy and Pipsqueak stared, open jawed at Lissa while Gomer, once again, chased his tail.

“You are kidding, cats?” asked Pudgy, unable to hide the horror in his voice.

“Nope, not kidding. We are getting two tabby cats. Their names are Boots and Echo.”

“When do they get here?” squeaked Pipsqueak.

“This afternoon,” Lissa answered and, before they could say anything else, she had gone back into the house, leaving them to ponder this new dilemma.

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***

Pudgy, Pipsqueak and Gomer waited. The morning passed too quickly for their comfort and soon the crunch of gravel reached their tiny ears and they sensed them. They hid, trembling in fear.

After a few minutes, two tabby cats, almost full-grown, slinked into the garage with tails and noses held high.

“I’m sure they can’t talk,” whispered Pipsqueak with a shaky voice.

They watched Lissa pet the two striped beasts, give them some dry cat food and water before heading inside to fix lunch.

“What should we do?” asked Gomer.

Pudgy, for the first time, did not have a plan. He had wracked his brain all morning, but could not think of what they could do to sabotage, negotiate with or otherwise get rid of this threat to their comfortable existence. Cats, by nature, were sly, unreasonable creatures with only one thought: hunt.

“Ok,” Pudgy began, “we are not sure whether they can speak or not, but we have to give it a try. We have to attempt to reason with them.”

Pipsqueak looked at Pudgy doubtfully. “Really Pudge? You think that will work?”

“I don’t know, but we have to try,” he replied, trying, and failing to sound confident.

With quaking paws, the trio scurried behind a spare piece of chicken wire they had set up in order to safely talk to the cats. Quick to sense their presence, the two cats stopped eating and crouched to the ground, hair on end, ready to pounce.

Pudgy cleared his throat. The cats heads swiveled in unison, spying the three mice. A cheshire grin spread across their faces.

“H-hello there,” began Pudgy. “We–“.

“Well, look at this Boots,” said Echo in a sly voice, “Lunch.”

The cats slowly rose from their crouch and paced back and forth in front of the wire.

“Now wait just a minute,” said Pudgy, finding some courage in the face of danger. “We have been here a long time and we are hoping we can come to some sort of–“.

“Ah, but we don’t negotiate with our meals,” said Boots. “It’s just not in our nature.”

“But, we can help you.” said Pipsqueak. “We can alert you to the voles and rabbits, we can–“.

“Well now, what fun would that be?” asked Echo. “Where would we get our entertainment? How would we exercise our hunting skills?”

“Yes,” said Boots, sitting down and licking a paw. “We enjoy the hunt too much to get help from the likes of you. It’s the ‘thrill of the chase’ that keeps us from boredom.”

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“But if you eat us, how will we get more lasagna? More chocolate cake?” Gomer whined.

Pudgy and Pipsqueak rolled their eyes, knowing that these cats couldn’t care less whether or not they ate more of Lissa’s delicious cooking. The cats snickered.

Glaring hopelessly at the cats, the mice turned tail and ran back into their hidey hole.

“Let’s take nap,” Echo said. “We’ll get them later.”

***

“We have to move on.”

“No,” said Pudgy said to Pipsqueak. “We have to figure out how to combat these two.”

Pipsqueak looked doubtful. Gomer was biting his tail.

Pudgy sat and thought through their options, quickly dismissing each one. Lissa was firm in her decision. The cats were staying and could take care of the voles, rabbits, chipmunks…any small critter that threatened the garden. It was their worst nightmare.

“What if we talk to Keira…have her…take care of our problem,” said Gomer.

Pipsqueak and Pudgy stared open-mouthed at Gomer. The cloud of confusion that normally surrounded him seemed to have cleared momentarily. It only lasted a second, but it gave them hope.

To Be Continued…

 

 

 

 

Adventures in Homesteading: Rodent Rage (Part One)

Lissa cried out in frustration. This was the third time she had come out to find her Jerusalem artichokes dug up and scattered everywhere. Who or what was playing this cruel game?

After the first time, she set up a little fence around them, thinking rabbits were the culprits. The next time she put some netting over the fence, hoping that would do the trick. Now what should she do?

As she stood up, she spied a be-whiskered twitchy face staring at her from a hole in the tuber mound. Letting out a loud squeak, the mouse quickly retreated as Lissa threw herself down in a mad rage.
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***

Dirty and tired, Lissa trudged back up to the house muttering to herself. She stomped into the garage and shouted, “Pudgy, get out here!”

Three mice, one fat, one tall and one small scurried out from under a box.

“What is it? What happened?” asked the fat one named Pudgy.

“There are mice in the garden,” she said through gritted teeth.

Pudgy, Pipsqueak and Gomer looked at each other blankly.

“I’m not sure–”

“Mice! Digging up my artichokes!” Lissa screamed.

“Oh, but mice don’t eat tubers. We prefer grains and seeds, the occasional fruit and veggies and kitchen scraps. Of course, with all your delicious cooking, the three of us have been well fed…” Pudgy trailed off, seeing the look on Lissa’s face.

“I don’t care what you say they ‘normally’ eat. They are eating my potatoes and artichokes! I saw one, staring at me from it’s little house in the dirt mound!

The three mice took in Lissa’s disheveled appearance and dirt streaked face.  Hair and glasses askew, spaid held like a weapon at her side.

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Pipsqueak, clearing his throat said, “Yes, well…we can check this out for you. See if we can do anything to help the situation. Perhaps offer them some of your delicious lasagna or–”

“Absolutely not! I will not be feeding any more rodents…especially rodents who EAT MY TUBERS!”

With that, she stalked off muttering under her breath.

***

“Scoot over Gomer,” Pipsqueak whispered. “You’re hogging the coffee can.”

The trio hid behind a rusted coffee can watching the mound that Lissa had attacked earlier that day. Dirt was scattered all over the yard. A result of her tantrum.

“Do you see anything yet?” Pipsqueak asked Pudgy.

“No…wait, I see movement on the mound.”

The trio peered around the side of the coffee can and watched as a few, very small, mice scurried around, digging up the yukon gold potatoes Lissa had just planted.

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“Uh…those don’t really look like mice. I mean, they do, but not really…you know what I mean Pudge?” said Gomer.

In surprise, Pipsqueak looked at Gomer and said, “Wow. You’re right Gomer.” He wasn’t normally so observant.

“Hi, what are you guys looking at?”

Pudgy, Pipsqueak and Gomer all jumped. One of the creatures had snuck up behind them. It had a mean look about it like it was ready to fight.

“We could ask you the same question,” said Pudgy, trying his best to sound menacing.

The not-mouse stared thoughtfully at them and said, “You must be the mice we’ve heard about. The ones that are living it up in the garage.”

“Yeah, so?” said Pipsqueak.

“Well, we all decided that we wanted in on that deal so we moved in to this mound. The lady keeps planting potatoes and tubers so we have plenty to eat.”

“What are you?” asked Pudgy. “You’re not regular mice.”

“That’s for sure,” it scoffed, looking offended. “We are voles.”

“Voles?”

“Yeah, you know, field mice.”

Field mice, thought Pipsqueak. Burrowing under the ground, eating tubers and destroying gardens. Look at it with it’s short tail…mice are so much more civilized.

“Look,” said Pudgy, “You have to go. Lissa, the owner, is very angry. You keep digging up all of the food she’s been planting…not the way to get on her good side.”

“Ha! Do you think we care? This is the perfect place! No cats, only a little dog who doesn’t care about a few voles and only one hawk who is pretty easy to hide from. We’ve only lost 3 of our family since we got here this winter.”

They continued to argue for awhile. The mice telling him how he and his brethren must go and the vole responding with a laugh, snort and scoff that they would not.

“Do what you will. We can hide in our tunnels forever and we are very fast so you’ll never catch us.” And with that, the pesky vole scurried away as silently as he had come.

TO BE CONTINUED…