Monday, June 19, 2017

Step away from the baby deer....

And that is just what I had to do yesterday after finding a tiny baby deer in our front yard. So small.... about the size of our cat Mickey, except the deer's legs were longer. And so fragile.... it was all I could do to resist the urge to pick up that baby and cuddle him close. But.... not exactly what you should do with a baby deer.

The momma deer will leave their baby for ten or even twelve hours at a time, so we are all told out here not to touch them, move them, or try to feed them when they are alone. The baby deer just rests and sleeps, and picks up its head every once in a while for a little look-see, and then goes back to sleep. At one point this afternoon as the sun moved through the trees, the baby's sleeping spot was no longer in the shade. We watched from the kitchen window as the baby deer got up and stretched its legs and then gingerly moved three steps into a shady spot. My husband and I watched from the kitchen window, both of us wanting to go out there and somehow help that tiny fragile baby.

We got close enough to take some pictures, neither of us touching the deer but both of us wanting to. I kept Savannah away from that part of the yard all day, and let Mickey stay in the kitchen so even he wouldn't bother the baby. At dinner time, I walked Savannah in the backyard, and when I got to the front yard, the baby deer was gone. I walked all around the pecan trees and the gazebo and then all through the side yard to make sure the baby hadn't wandered off. My guess is that the momma deer had been watching the yard and when she saw me go out of sight around the back, she came and reclaimed her baby.

The yard felt so empty all of a sudden. I walked down the road a bit and looked out into the tall grass of the pasture, and then I walked up to the barn and looked out into the fields there.  Not a sign of any deer at all. Well, I am hoping that momma and baby are safely tucked away in the woods by now. And I hope the hiding place there is as quiet and as safe as our front yard was all day for that tiny baby.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

There's a new rooster in town...

....and he lives on one of the properties along our road. We can hear him crowing (and probably strutting his stuff) every morning. Truly a country sound coming from that rooster. So much nicer than the howling of the night-time coyotes.

Hearing the rooster gets me to missing our chickens, but I just don't want to adopt any more hens, thank you.  For our first batch of hens, I named each of them after my aunts. Big mistake. The first one to die was Edie, because her curiosity got the best of her and she drowned in the fountain in the front courtyard. I had to explain that calamity to my Aunt Dolly, and she was not happy.  Actually, my Aunt Dolly is under the impression that the hen named after her is still alive and gifting us with eggs every morning. I didn't have the heart to tell Aunt Dolly that her namesake was killed by a snake nearly four years ago.

After the first flock of hens met their chicken-maker, we got another half dozen and I named those after characters in "Gone With the Wind."  After a while, they also got taken by foxes, hawks, and heaven only knows what else, with Scarlett being the last survivor until a snake got her also. Life is not easy in the world of chickens, unless you can keep them completely fenced-in all the time, and even then, a snake can get in if he is very determined. (Refer to Scarlett.)

So now the chicken coop is a screened-in porch for Mickey Kitty..... he can get into the coop from his sleeping spot inside the garage. We keep him in the garage at night, hopefully safe from predators. Mickey loves the coop, and I don't think he would be happy to share his spot with chickens. Actually, I doubt very much that a flock of hens would want to be sharing space with Mickey either.

Saturday, June 03, 2017

Life in the country....

As I type this, there is a snake in the breakfast room window... and of course it's the window right behind my chair. This is the second time a snake has gotten himself caught between the screen and the glass of that particular window. As it happens, there is a bird's nest right above that window. So the snake smells the eggs in the nest, tries to get up into it, and gets itself caught behind the screen.

The last time this happened, half of the snake was hanging out below the screen and my husband used a snake-grabbing pair of tongs to capture the snake and throw him out into the field. For all we know, this could be the same snake, back for a second attempt. However, this snake was very determined, and all of his slithering body is now behind the wood screen. In order to get him free, my husband would need to unscrew the wood frame of the screen, but in doing so, he would be in close proximity to a very aggravated snake. Not a good thing.

So I closed the shutters of the breakfast room window and I am trying to forget the snake is there. Fat chance of that happening. Either the snake will get out of his screen-prison by himself, or he will take his last breath in there and then my husband will unscrew the wood frame and toss the dead snake out into the field. Thankfully, even though there is an inch-wide gap between the screen's frame and the windowsill, the glass window itself is very tight and secure and I know for sure the snake cannot get into the breakfast room. Give me a blessed break with the wildlife out here.

In other, more sane happenings..... I am still collecting books for The Magic Wand Book Club. The one thrift store that offered me free books had a nice selection for me when I stopped in there this morning. In another thrift store, one of the girls who works there gave me some nice books for the students. I will probably have enough Halloween-ish mystery books for the month of October, and Christmas stories for December. I am still making bookmarks and now I have started on the bookplates for the books the students want to keep.

Busy, busy.... who has time for snakes in the window.  I just looked over there.... I can see his shadow moving, so he is trying to get out. Either that, or he wants to join the book club.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Free books....

I went shopping for books today, looking at the bookshop in town and at the thrift stores. I plan to buy gently read books for the Book Club.... books that look new, without names or markings.

The bookshop in town is moving to a larger store on the corner of their street, so everything in there is buy two/get one free.... great deal, plus I have a big book-credit and plan to use all of that for the Book Club books.

At the smallest thrift store in town, they offered me as many books as I wanted, for free.  Totally free, not even adding tax. The lady there said they get so many books that they can't shelve them all, so they would be happy to contribute books to the Book Club students. Totally overwhelming.... and I found about 20 books in there today. I told her I would be stopping by every week.

I plan to have a huge stash of books for the students by the end of the summer. Easier for me to find them now, rather than having to search the shops during the school year and possibly not find good titles for the kids. I already have a good mix of novels and non-fiction, along with some books on wildlife and sea-life.

Free books for 'my' kids.... so nice of them. Such a great surprise. Life is good.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

How far is civilization?

That is the question my cousin asked me this past weekend..... "Just how far is it to some sort of civilization?"

The daughter of one of my cousins was up in Dallas last week on business, and she drove here to visit us before she flew back to NY.  For two nights and three days, my city-girl cousin watched the goats across the road, took a selfie with a friend's horse, and watched the kids down the road riding in a wagon attached to their dad's tractor.

We walked around the streets in town and the fact that our downtown square looks very much like Mayberry did not escape her city eyes.  She couldn't get over the fact that so many shop-keepers told us to 'Have a blest day!' as we left the stores.  She said in NY, all they say is "Next!!!"  (I guess I had forgotten that.)

C is getting married this coming December, and she is looking to move out of NY, to somewhere less crowded and less expensive. Not as rural as where we are, but not as city-ish as where she is living now. She said she wants a better quality of life, and to feel that she is not working to just live and pay bills. The sight of the neighbor's kids playing out in their yard and riding along in the wagon with the tractor just floored C to the point where it made her sad to think that kids can't do that up on Long Island.  Kids up there have play-dates, she said. Sounds way too structured, I said.

I hope that C can convince her mother to get on a plane for the next visit.... her mom has never left NY... and I have been trying to get her down here for years now.  Her mom, my cousin F, would love it here. Except for the coyotes. And the snakes. And the lack of world news being broadcast 24/7.  C told me that we are in our own little world up here in these the hills.

Indeed we are. And most of the time, that's just fine.

Friday, May 19, 2017

School Daze

I was sitting in the principal's office of a local elementary school before nine o'clock this morning, explaining the plans for my after-school book club for book lovers in grades 4, 5, and 6. The principal loved all of my ideas, and even wrote down a few of the book titles I had chosen for the students.

We decided on Thursday afternoons for the book club, and rather than giving me a classroom to use for the meetings, the principal suggested I use the school library. Perfect!  All of this begins in September, which gives the students a couple of weeks after the start of school to settle in and settle down after their summer break.

The principal especially liked my idea of teaching the kids how to keep a book journal, so I will be searching for brightly-colored notebooks when the school supplies go on sale in mid-summer. From now till September, I will be searching for appropriate books for the students. I brought in a sampling of the books I have already collected for the kids, and the principal was pleased with the selection.

This is going to be so great... I can hardly wait for September!

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Mother's Day

It was a year ago today that our Savannah found her way home after being lost somewhere in the woods for 12 days. We thought we would never see our dog again, considering the dangerous wildlife and poisonous snakes out there, but somehow she not only survived, but came back with just one tiny scratch on her leg, and her collar and leash were still attached. An amazing miracle for which we are forever grateful. I never take it for granted that Savannah relies on us for love and care and shelter.

My husband and I have both been under-the-weather for nearly two weeks now, even though the weather itself has been picture-perfect, Texas-postcard beautiful. I think my very bad cold turned into bronchitis and my energy level dropped to zero on at least two of those days. When I'm not able to even hold a book and read, then you know I'm sick... but my head and chest were too stuffed-up to even concentrate. I'm still coughing a bit, but I feel much better.

This coming Friday, I am meeting with the principal of a local elementary school. I will outline my plan for an after-school book club for the 4th, 5th, and 6th graders of that school. "The Magic Wand Book Club," inspired by our recent trip to Universal to see the Harry Potter exhibits there.  I doubt that any series of books has resonated with children as J. K. Rowling's Harry Potter -- and it wasn't just the kids who latched on to those books. It seemed like everyone was reading about Harry and Hogwarts when that series was being published. And looking at the 'magic' happening still at Universal, Harry's popularity hasn't diminished.

I am certain that the love of books and reading can be brought to kids everywhere, whether or not they're able to travel to Florida to see the world of Harry Potter. I intend to do just that... to take kids who already like to read and make them see that reading is not just an assignment for their school years, but it's a habit that can follow them through their entire lives, enriching it with untold blessings and diversions and discoveries.

Wands are on order... pens and book journals.... and I will be buying books, books, and more books. I will teach the kids how to take care of the books they wish to keep, and hopefully encourage them to start little libraries of their own, whether it be one small shelf or an entire bookcase. I spent some of my recent sick days making bookmarks for the students, and writing an outline of our weekly meetings. I already have nearly 40 books, and plan to have at least a few hundred before our first session of the new term. I intend to have novels and non-fiction for the kids to choose from... they will pick out what they would like to read, then tell the rest of us about the story. After completing three books, the kids can choose a wand. I am hoping this reading experience becomes a life-long love of books for all the kids who join this book club.

The most important message of the book club will be its motto:  "The magic is not in the wand... the magic is in me!"