Welcome back to Magnetic North, a place of beauty that frankly looks a bit seedy nowadays. That’s pretty normal for late summer/early fall. The farm is showing wear and tear; fences are leaning over like arthritic ciphers. And the poor old chicken coop! It’s been worn to a nub.
One of my goats makes a beeline each morning for the chicken wire enclosing the run and uses it like her own personal back and side scratcher. After months of this, she has pooched in the wire and pulled the wood to which it was attached up out of the ground. Not good timing, since I’ve just learned that raccoons are wreaking havoc on friends’ chickens.
While measuring the chicken wire for repair, I of course found even more work: another wire panel inside the run is flapping uselessly in the breeze. The wood block step into the coop has turned to mush after a decade of bearing our weight. And the grand old tree that collapsed behind the run last year, sparing both it and our outhouse, did chuck just one branch onto the top of the run, poking a raccoon-size hole right over the geese’s winter A-frame.
The birds and bunnies look just as sorry as the buildings and plants. They lose feathers and fur in the hot weather, so now they have a moth-eaten look. And they know it. The hens that look the rattiest won’t lay and the bunnies with the biggest bare spots hide themselves from view at feeding time. A bad hair day for a hare is just as devastating as it is for a human. And for them, no do-rags or baseball caps to hide the hideousness!
All is not grim and grungy in mid-September, though. Going to seed can be a positive experience for the gatherers among us. For instance, my nasturtiums and sunflowers set hundreds of seedpods after gifting us with gorgeous blue and red and orange blossoms day after day. The yellow marigolds were stunning this year. And so was a new variety of daisy called Gazenia…so much so that I figured a way to keep them.
Whenever I remembered, I took pictures of the blooms I loved most and gathered their seeds. My intent: to make seed packets out of the pictures, enclose a few dozen seeds, and send them off to friends throughout the winter. Anyone who has visited us here on this patch of heaven will certainly get a kick out of looking forward to growing another generation of posies from a place they like almost as much as we do.
Another gift project evolved from my never being able to pass up a nice pinecone. With a little hot glue and patience the assorted cones go into wreaths. With just a month or so of gathering left for the cones, I have already filled every basket in my home with them. But still, I lust for more. Somewhere along the way in this obsession I got it into my head that finding at least three cones in a day was akin to a blessing, an omen or “atta girl” of sorts. Call it magical thinking if you will. I just call it fun.
On the critter front, I’ve been working hard to give Summer, my wandering llama, so much TLC that she will stay close to home on those occasions when she sneaks down the driveway. So far, I’ve scored big by extending her fence line out into the meadow and by gently combing out her dreadlocks. Yes, you heard me correctly. Unless you shear them annually, llamas end up looking quite reggae. Very cool, but methinks pretty itchy and more than a little mood dampening. And so, we have beauty spa time each morning after she allows me to put the hated halter on her lovely velvet schnozzola. How could I ever have thought of selling such a beauty?
Folks tell me all of the above is “a lot of work.” And although it certainly is, it’s a mystery to me why I enjoy it so darn much. But my friend, Peter, said last week that life is a mystery to be lived, not a problem to be solved. Like feeling blessed, not by winning the lottery, but by finding three pine cones all in one day.
Airdate: September 25, 2010