Of Mice And Making Men


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I don’t know about you, but we are sleeping in later and later each day of this pandemic. Some people may be losing sleep right now, but we are not them. Bedtime has become a bit of a slippery slope, since 8yr old Manchild and 10yr old Girlchild have absolutely no where they need to be, so most nights the kids are in bed about a half hour later than usual.  It’s not a huge deal, but what I don’t understand is how they are sleeping two hours later in the mornings to make up for it? Rest assured, there are no dark circles under the Schenanigans family’s eyes!

After reading in bed til midnight myself, it felt like the dead of night when I heard a loud crash and thump, like falling toys or plastic on a carpet. I bolt from my bed and launched myself into Manchild’ s room, where I find Jax the cat with Sally the mouse in his mouth. This was Manchild’s pet white mouse, and she was dead. I looked at her cage and it was still  locked up tight. I look around the room and see nothing that would make a huge crashing sound (a few scattered toys, but that’s our norm around here).  I have NO IDEA how that stinkin’ cat got this mouse out of her cage.


Manchild had crawled into bed with Captain Schenanigans and myself at some point, so when I gently relayed the events to him in his sleepy state as I climbed back in bed, he registered no emotion. When I reminded him what transpired this morning as we sat on the couch waiting to watch church, he remembered but didn’t react much. But as I lay with him at bedtime tonight, the sadness came. It always does at night. He told me how he had just gotten used to Sally’s squeaking (she was ridiculously loud hosting raves in her cage all night for being a single tiny mouse), and that he wouldn’t be able to sleep without her sounds now. It was pitiful. Then, on my way out of his room, I was nearly eighteen inches from freedom, he dropped the pet bomb. It never fails.

“I want another pet”. He asked, sadly, yanking on my irrational heart strings. “I want something else to be responsible for.”

Thankfully, my sarcastic side stepped up and kicked the heart strings in the throat. Not gonna die on this hill of empathy, we’ve got 16 other animals to care for on this property.

“You mean like a rabbit?’ I say dryly. We all know the fight that ensues daily to get Manchild to put his shoes on, go outside before the bus comes, and feed his bunny, Hops. Every. Single. Day.  Why on earth would this kid need more pets?

“No, ” Manchild begins, but I cut him off before he could get farther.

“How about a chicken?” I offer a bit too far on the snide side. We are up to our armpits in chickens, WHICH I LOVE, but I can’t replace some of my lower producing breeds with better egg layers because half my flock belongs to my children. They take them to the fair, and love earning ribbons and prizes (Manchild cleaned house with a Grand Champion layer last summer). But do I have to twist their tiny arms behind their backs to get them to gather eggs, or heaven forbid, throw feed out for them (not literally of course, we have cameras everywhere on this property)!? Chickens, to my children, are pets of convenience. Because I love being out there messing with them every day, the kids rarely have to pay attention to their birds (although that has changed now that they are home all day due to Corona, and have waaaaaaay more time for chores like gathering eggs – WOOT)!

“No”, Manchild begins, and I head him off again because we are rapidly losing animal categories, and I don’t need anyone setting their hopes on a terrible plan at 9pm.

“No more rodents! We aren’t getting a hamster”, I declare. Something we’d discussed at one point in the past once we saw how non-bitey they were and just all around better BFF’s than mice.

“I want a fish” Manchild declared.

“A fish? Only if it’s in a bowl and you feed it and you change the water!” I lay the guidelines hard and fast because deal breakers are best found quickly.

“And AFTER all this (Corona) is over!” Captain Schenanigans chimed in from another room in stealth mode. He has learned to monitor my animal conversations with the children as this dramatically cuts down on the volume and variety of furry souls we drag home without his knowledge. I’m still trying to get him to agree to a nice, silent alpaca. They max out at 5 feet tall and we’ve got a 6 foot privacy fence,  boo yeah! Hellllooooo suburban alpaca homesteading!

photo of a llama

Photo by LARAINE DAVIS on Pexels.com

It was agreed. We’d get Manchild a fish. It’s ALWAYS the first night after a pet death that this type of bartering occurs. I simply can’t say no to a sad child who wants to love an animal. I can not. But I can put up boundaries on acceptable species, and it’s not my fault if you don’t like your options. That only took ten years of parenting to achieve.

I pictured a nice little blue Beta fish for Manchild, and am taking bets on how long it will be with us. Sally the mouse made it a year, and considering Jax doesn’t like seafood, this fish has a real shot! This time I really, really, really won’t feed this pet for my son. I promise to make him care for it alone and feel the weight of this much desired responsibility. Granted, Sally’s cage was stupidly hard to clean, and when your pet buries it’s food you have no idea when it needs more. But those days of Mrs. Nice Mom are over. This is the Fish of Tough Love! The Responsibility Enforcement Fish! The Beta of Life Goals!

So yes, I will pay another $10 for another shot at my son learning responsibility. Like a carnival game where you’re pretty sure the first 4 tries are a waste of money, but by the 5th time you hit your groove and win the stuffed banana with a slow leak out the back where the seams don’t quite meet. I want him to win the prize of a tiny, fish sized burden on his carefree, unfocused little shoulders. It’s needs are tiny enough for his little hands to meet. It’s environment doesn’t change with the seasons, demand heated water bottles, or require extension cords. No nail trimming, vet trips, or fear of being bitten. This is actually, quite a perfect pet for an independent experience. It you can care for it barefoot and shirtless, then Manchild will have no problems!

Of course, there is the little matter of timing. Cause now I’m pretty excited about a new fish in the house, and Petco has curbside pick up, and I’m not really sure what waiting for the Corona virus to pass has to do with marine life anyway. I mean, if anything, now is the time for new indoor entertainment, right Captain Schenanigans?! 😉

close up of a siamese fighting fish

Photo by Chevanon Photography on Pexels.com

Sweet Warriors and Sleepy Chickens

In this time of lots of time on our hands, I am very much enjoying the disruption in our busy lives. I LOVE having everything cancelled. I LOVE having my kids home (most of the time), my hubby around, and no commitments to keep. It’s an introvert’s dream! Well, except that my nursing job still makes me come in to an office building filled with hundreds of people (where they send me e-mails telling me to stay away from crowds of 50) to make my phone calls from my desk. But thankfully, I work part-time…

Anyway, over the week-end it was SO bright and SO beautiful here in Baltimore, that we were just making up excuses to be outside. Nearly 8 year old Manchild invited me to join him in spending time with our chickens in the backyard. Naturally I jumped at the invitation, and settled into a hammock chair while my wild man tore around the yard chasing my hens like he was the Corona virus and they were germophobes. Eventually, after several reminders that the birds would hate him if he always scared them, he stopped chasing the seldom caught ones, and just picked up the few tame favorites that we always held. Like Squeaker.

Squeaker is a bantam (miniature) White Crested Black Polish hen who is a family favorite because of her wild hairdo and pitiable live choices. Polish Crested chickens are all a bit special because of the bouffant crest of feathers around their head that tend to limit their vision and block their brain waves. Think hawk bait. We have two of these Mensa rejects, Squeaker and Phyllis (Gold Laced Polish Crested), both of whom tend to get so busy scratching and pecking in the yard that they fail to notice when the rest of the flock has moved on.  Suddenly they raise their poofy heads and they are alone! Panicked chirping and squawking from these two is not unusual as they try to get one of their brainier henfriends to holla back and Marco Polo the gang’s new location. Once again.


Squeaker is the front left, Phyllis is the one on the right, nearly camouflaged with the dirt.

Every time we let the chickens out to free range, Phyllis runs up and down the same fence, looking frantically for the nearest exit, while all the other hens calmly walk through the open gate like normal girls. Phyllis can NEVER find the exit on her first try. Ever.

But even better than Phyllis, is Squeaker, who can’t go in reverse. Because she can not see behind herself, this 1lb puff of fluff assumes she can not move backwards. Which is why when I do an evening head count, finding Squeaker turns into an Easter egg hunt. I usually find her wedged (barely) between a bench and the wall. Or a pallet and the fence, or any small space she thinks she can fit through, but then can’t, and so she stands there and silently waits for help. Bless her heart. Her tiny, special, heart.

So Manchild settled in his hammock chair and cradled Squeaker in his lap. He then began to swing, and his arms fell limp. Instead of noticing her big chance for freedom to leap from the lap of a “dangerous” boy, Squeaker instead hunkers down, puffs out, and falls asleep to the rocking motion of the swing. Manchild noticed, and he began to sing a lullaby to her. Not knowing any good lullaby’s, Manchild hummed the ABC song softly to himself, and that worked just fine. Squeaker was content, Manchild and his soft touch (he really is tender for a wild boy) had won over yet another little creature.


After a time, he sets the little hen down, and instead of running off to join her peers, she starts pecking at the dirt between our feet.

“Your turn!” Manchild instructs me.

So I scoop up the tiny bird and begin to rock her in my lap. Sure enough, her head bobs low, she fluffs herself out just a little and squats into a small sleepy ball. It was very sweet. I began thinking Captain Schenanigans needs to build a chicken swing in our run. Especially since we plan to plant new zoysia grass plugs this weekend, so the chickens are going to be on lockdown like the rest of us. No free ranging for quite some time. It’d be a great boredom buster!

After we set Squeaker free to run with her fast crowd, Manchild went back to catching hens we don’t hold often, and bringing them to me for cuddles like a toddler with a dandelion bouquet. He knows what fills his momma’s heart with joy! I check each girl’s feet for Bumblefoot (a common staph infection) when I get them, since some of these girls are rarely touched and wilder than feathered honey badgers.  I hold them and talk to them long enough to undue whatever stress my well meaning child had put them under, then hand back their freedom as I set them down to roam. They are generally indignant and full of attitude, but that’s not uncommon round these parts, let’s be honest.

So in this time of chaos I urge to to stay home, rock your pets, enjoy your spare time, and wash your hands. Because we all know that chickens carry Salmonella! 🙂


Hank, Manchild’s Silver Laced Wyandotte. This girl is a boy’s chicken! She’s survived being mauled by a dog twice, being sewn up by both myself with medical sutures, and my husband with sewing thread, and she still clucks on, laying and scratching two years later. Occasionally pausing for snuggles. #Survivor


Fan Club Manager


This week, I have been getting text messages from my cat’s friend’s. Dead serious. He has no cat friends (’cause he’s a jerk),  but the human ones he has in spades! People I do not know and have never met are texting me and calling to share their about their relationships with my socially promiscuous feline. Why now? Because this is the first week they’ve had access to my phone number.

It all started on Monday with a phone call. Someone had picked up my un-collared kitty and taken him to the SPCA as a charitable act of good will towards orphaned animals. Problem was, this cat has a home, and a massive social network, and he just can’t seem to keep his collar on!

At the SPCA I explained how my very friendly, uber popular tabby had gone through so many collars that we’d given up. The last one he lost was green. Then a few days later he come home wearing a BLUE one, I have no idea where that came from. But I figured surely everyone in the neighborhood knew he was ours by now, right? Especially if they’re helping him with costume changes and what not. Except for one thoughtful soul who was pet sitting in the neighborhood, and was approached by our fearless and chatty cat, who no doubt allowed himself to be lifted up and taken home like a giant dummy. Now I get to bail his yellow tail out of the clink downtown in the middle of a work day. Where they had re-named him, “Lil’ Sebastian”.

That’s not the first time this cat has been re-named. He came to us as Jax, but his medical paperwork prior to the rescue listed him as Mr. Mustard. And when I first met my neighbor down the street, she had pictures of Jax in her phone and was referring to her routine patio visitor as him as Mr. Wiggles. This cat gets around!


At the SPCA, I was given a tag for his new collar that read “JAX, indoor/outdoor cat”, and listed my name and phone number. The very next day, after wrestling him into his new collar and bright shiny tag, I get a phone call. It’s from a woman a few streets over who I vaguely recalled meeting about 3 years ago, with a couple of kids. She informed me that she had Jax at her house, and asks if he is supposed to be out and about. I assured her that he was. That he’s most likely hunting rodents and visiting his fan club, but that he is still within bounds. Thank you for the welfare check, though! 🙂

Two days go by, and today I get this text message.


It was very sweet. I responded with a little bit of Jax’s back story of being adopted out from a rescue as a barn cat who would never make a good pet, and tell her about his recent trip to the SPCA which earned him shiny new ID tags and a sparkly blue collar. I encouraged her to enjoy Jax, and love him up as much as she wanted.

Last year Captain Schenanigans and I met a couple while walking our dog who, upon petting Grover and learning where we lived, asked me “Oh, is this Jax’s dog?” After that conversation, I had a sneaking suspicion my yellow boy was being fed at another location. He’d gained weight, and the vet didn’t want him to get any bigger. I had assumed it was this couple, but on the off chance there were more handouts being given, I took a shot…



Yep, I was right. So we are not Jax’s only family. While he manages to make curfew at our house every night, and was inside enough this winter not to bother with growing a winter coat, I always suspected this kitty had relationships on the side. And I was glad for it! He really does brighten people’s lives. My neighbor who shows cats tells me that Jax has the personality the judges would love. I believe it.

Another neighbor who walks a black lab stops in our yard every day so Lincoln can sniff and visit Jax during their walks. Jax acts like he’s only tolerating Lincoln, but I noticed he’s not running away from the attention! Lincoln’s mom sent me this pic a few weeks back, and I love it! Screenshot_20200306-112916_Messages

It’s funny how my pets have their own relationships. Lincoln is actually Grover’s BFF. They love each other! It’s also incredibly First World that I am even managing my pet’s relationships. Who does this? But God made Jax with the gift of socializing, and as he trots on as the Schenanigans Family Ambassador, I’m sure there will be more texts and phone calls in the future. I look forward to it. I’m a huge believer in community and knowing, really knowing, your neighbors. If it takes my cat for me to meet the families two streets away, bring it! The more we network together, the better off and safer everyone is. 20200211_204015

C’mon Global Warming!


It’s not spring yet. I know that. But I’ve never been labeled a patient woman. Well, once I was by a Spanish interpreter while I on the phone with a young pregnant patient, but that was the ONLY time I can remember being complimented on my patience. Because I’m not. Even my blog posts are FILLED with spelling and editing errors because I’m so excited to finish, that I can’t slow down enough to be perfect. This is how I am, warts and all.

Ergo, this Sunday when the weather hit the mid 50’s in Baltimore, despite being February February, I had to get in the garden. So while my wonderful husband reluctantly took the kids to a poorly timed school ice skating event (which he immediately told me upon return was not enjoyable), I stayed home and got my hands dirty.

In an effort to be more responsible in my gardening and consume/waste less water, I decided to implement core gardening techniques to my beds this year. I learned about care gardening from Migardener.com, a blogger in Michigan who does incredible things with minimal watering (check out his blog and seed store). Here is their explanation for those of you who have not heard of core gardening.

coregardening– CORE GARDENING
Our #1 preferred method of gardening. We use this in combination with raised beds to provide the most amazing growing conditions for our plants. It is a method adapted from the people of the sub-Sahara desert  region who use Sahara grass in ditches that they then cover with soil and top with nitrogen rich manure to grow directly in. The soil holds on to water like a sponge for weeks at a time (once charged), the grass breaks down quickly feeding the soil, the nitrogen prevents any nitrogen from being taken from the soil during the breaking down of the grass, and the organic material adds good drainage, porosity, and loamyness. Here is a video of us setting us a core garden bed and one of us explaining what core gardening is.
PROS: Easy to set up, retains water, amends soil quickly, doesn’t mound soil like hugelkulture, breaks down faster than hugelkulture, loosens soil, increases drainage, and allows for microbes and fungi to colonize the straw and interact with plant roots.
CONS: Takes some water to charge the core initially”

I have two garden plots smack in my front yard, the only place the sun hits. I had lined the bottom of one with cardboard before filling it with soil, compost, and rabbit manure last year. The other I used feed sacks because I ran out of cardboard, and it does help with the weeds. That being said, my beds aren’t super deep, but just enough to grow non-root veggies.  Impatient people don’t do well growing food they can’t see anyway, so it’s that’s really not an issue. 🙂

I busted out my rake, made a trench down the center of both my gardens like I was laying pipeline, and filled each trench with straw. Wanna know where the straw came from? You’ll never guess. FAKE BABY JESUS! Yep, that’s right, my straw was upcycled from the manger scene on stage last Christmas at church. Round about January every church with a manger scene across America realizes that they now have 5 bales of straw and nothing to do with them! Thankfully, my crazy proceeds me and I got a text from a staff member asking if I could put five bales of straw to use. Heck yeah! First I was gonna use it for hen bedding, but I honestly didn’t need that much. I generally use old leaves, anyway.  Then I was going to use it for seeding my back lawn, but decided to go for zoysia plugs instead. Then once I remembered that I was planning to core garden this year, I was thankful once again for the amazing church I belong to. It’s the perfect garden sponge material. Check with your clergy, Homesteaders, there’s free straw up for grabs every Christmas! Jesus doesn’t need it. The pastor doesn’t want it. Speak up!

Anyway, it was just a few minutes and I was done. Granted, due to my shallow garden beds my front lawn now looks like freshly dug graves, but who cares. I’m now ready for seeds!


I stared at the USDA Planting Zone guide over and over again, wishing there was wisdom in straight sewing seeds in Feb for Zone 7. There’s not. It will freeze. My stuff will die. But just in case global warming was on my side, I chucked a few head lettuce and cauliflower seeds down on either side of my grave site for a little produce gamble. I didn’t plan on using those seeds anyway, so if they grew, awesome, if they didn’t, eh, they failed me last summer anyway.

I had a few extra cauliflower seeds, so I made indoor trays and spread them in a few locations to experiment. My house is fairly dark, so I have never had much luck starting things inside. I generally end up with a cat sitting on them, or the kids knocking the trays to the ground during a heated light saber battle. Man I hate those things. Poor seeds hold a better chance of life straight sewn in the ground against the elements than trying to sprout in my cabin of chaos.


So we’ll see if my efforts pay off. The water conservation will, I’ve no doubt of that. The seeds are hit or miss. They mostly kept me busy until the real spring rolls around and I can cut loose. I also planted two raspberry bushes yesterday, and a packet of dollar store poppy seeds. Third times a charm with brambles, right? I keep trying…

Next on the agenda is the Schenaniganlets division of crop seeds, which I imagine will go a bit like the NFL draft in with of planting rights. Girlchild wants melons. Lots of melons. All the melons. Manchild is gunning for tomatoes of all sizes. I am certain there will be literal turf wars once her plants grow into his. I have yet to come up with a barrier solution, but I am open to suggestions! Anyone? I’m not interested in a Paul Harvey rotten tomato fight re-enactment in my front yard. We’re a corner lot, for pete’s sake! 🙂

20200225_095555 (1)




Not Quite Goodnight Moon

In the small square house

There was a little brother

Who was a lot of fun

And a picture of–   Two cowboys racing the sun.


And there were several brown bears on your way to the stairs


And was one yellow kitten

No matching pairs of mittens


And a Lego made house

And a white mouse


And a girl looking flush on her way to the bus

With a middle aged mother who was hollaring “RUSH”


Goodbye square house


Goodbye hens

Goodbye dog chasing all the hens


Goodbye bunny

And to brother wearing honey


Goodbye bears

Goodbye stairs


Goodbye kitten

And unmatched mittens


Goodbye dishes

And goodbye kissess


Goodbye Lego house

And Goodbye white mouse


Goodbye girl

Goodbye bus


Goodbye Dad

and couch so plush

And goodbye to the mama hollaring “RUSH”


Goodbye Barbies

Goodbye dolls

This happens to us every Fall


Racing Sunset by Tim Cox



What Smells?

“Oh my goodness! What’s that smell?” I gasp, “It’s terrible! Manchild, did you spray your Fart Spray IN THE CAR?”

“Yep!” Giggled an overly proud Manchild. ” I sure did!”

“Ahhhhhggghhh!” Wailed Girlchild as she put her window down and attempted to hang her head out like a dog. This was a small car, there was nowhere for that scent to go!


Flash back to a few hours earlier. A wise woman told me that as much as we punish our kids for doing wrong, we need to praise and reward them for doing right. With that thought in mind, and Daddy out of town, I had both young’ens in the car for a highly anticipated trip to Five Below, a $5 or less store. While I give verbal praise freely, I rarely reward them with “stuff” as a result of good behavior. They had their dollars in their pockets and had finished their homework early. Chores were done, and there was an hour until bedtime. Excitement was in the air!

Heading out, we detoured first through the drop off area of a local second hand store to drop off a bag of curtains I no longer needed. None of the employees came out to the car to get them, so Manchild offered to jump out into the evening mist and deliver the goods. On his way back to the car, he paused. I watched him bend over, pick up an item, and deliver it to the donation bin. Upon returning to the car, he explained to his impatient mother that he had found a ball in the gutter. It was about to go into the storm drain and down to the Bay. Figuring that another child may enjoy using it, he picked it up and made sure it got where it was intended to go.

That is just so on brand for Manchild. At nearly 8yrs old, he is always the one to stop and pick up litter, deliver someone’s dropped trash to a trash can, or recycle bottles and cans in our own bins. He has an innate, thoughtful nature that only someone who allows distractions in life can have. I love it. And to show him my appreciation for his responsible, caring side, I informed him and his 10yr old sister (who just this week started the dishwasher without being asked- granted it had a dozen items in it, but I appreciate the effort) that they could pick out anything they wanted at Five Below and I would buy it for them as rewards for being such great kids. They rejoiced!

We arrived at the store and immediately split up to canvass the inventory. Actually, we arrived in the parking lot, exited the car, and Manchild promptly falls over a cement parking block. His sister lovingly darts to his side and helps up end him, just to drive home that Good Kid reward as absolutely necessary. In the store, everyone heads towards their favorite area. Manchild to toys, Girlchild to beauty products, and Myself to clearance. Because even though nothing in that store costs more than $5, I still want a better deal!

After half an hour, my arms are full of discount bath bombs, eye liner I won’t feel guilty over losing, clearance nail polish, and Valentines Day candy for my sweetheart. I grab the very same rolling basket I had scoffed at needing upon entering the store (I won’t get that much stuff), empty my arms, and set out to find my spawn.

I track down Manchild in the Matchbox car section, arms heavy with a variety of small cars he will NEVER play with after opening. He’s a Legos, Star Wars, Spiderman kid. I have yet to see him play with toy cars. I remind him of this tidbit of information, and he rapidly abandons the cars, grabbing a suction cup bow and arrow set instead. He then lifts up a small aerosol can about the size of his little hand. Like it was made for small boys about his size. I read the label. Fart Spray. I could not imagine anything more useless in my life. I impart this wisdom on to my son, and leave him in the aisle to finish his decision as I his sister. He had brought his own money and had not selected nearly enough items to spend every last penny. I remind him we are leaving in a few minutes and received a wealth of protests, as delicate decisions were not to be rushed.

Girlchild was found in the candy aisle, filling a bag with ten cent candy. Upon finishing, she begins the age old argument we have every time we visit this store. One can buy a very large, very plastic, barrel of cheese balls for a mere $5, and while her mother has never let her win this fight so far, Girlchild attempts again to receive permission to bring 35 ounces of nutrition-free calories home with us. While technically I had agreed to get them anything in the store, nutritionally there is nothing good about this decision. I am picturing the face of her bean eating pediatrician as we speak. I can not allow my 10 year old to assume ownership of a border collie sized vat of cheese balls. But I don’t want to go back on my word, either. I point out the fact that her father is like a moth to a flame with said cheese balls, and is going to want to eat them with her. As I walk away I hear her mutter under he breath “He can want to all he wants”.  *sassypants*

Back to Manchild, who has made no progress in his painful decision making, I inform him of our pending departure. Protests arise, minutes are counted, and I vacate the aisle with him trailing behind. We scoop up Girlchild, who had settled on Boom Chicka Pop popcorn instead, to my relief (because any snack that starts out by being made in someone’s garage in Mankato, Minnesota HAS to be wholesome, right?). Sidling up to the first self-checkout scanner, I proceed to get us out of Dodge. Right up to the point where Manchild hands me a can of Fart Spray and his money. I was trapped, I was distracted, I scanned that sucker and handed it back to him without a second though. Naturally, he would use it wisely in well chosen, ventilated locations with an age appropriate audience, right?

************************End scene*****************************

Now we are back to where this story began, halfway home and dying of olfactory abuse. It was bad. Not gonna try to describe the orifices it triggered as memories, but to Manchild, it was glorious power! Seeing as how Captain Schenanigans just so happened to be the owner of this vehicle, and he was out of town again, we made a quick conference call to loop daddy into our current situation. I don’t suffer alone well.

Captain, hearing screams once again upon answering, immediately thought we were in another round of angst and calling for his objective spirit to help settle sibling rivalry. Once he realized I wasn’t calling because of a family feud, but to inform him his car has been inoculated with an aroma of which there is no description, he laughed long and hard.  He clearly wasn’t here.

The next day, Manchild was granted permission to use Fart Spray in his room, alone, when I was not required to be present at any time in the near future. He was happily content with the decision, though I kinda felt for Sally-the-mouse who was trapped in her cage. She had no vote. Perhaps she slept through it all. One can only hope! #jealous20200213_122332


Full Circle

20191022_093941It’s been 10 months since I wrote a blog entry, and truthfully, I thought my time as a blogger was over. Just another passing phase. But I found a genuinely enjoyed writing, and while our family hasn’t done anything super funny or worth writing about for quite some time, I still missed that feeling of finishing a good piece of writing!

To catch you up on life here in my suburban homestead, we are right now finishing up a HORRIBLY busy winter. Like, projects we should never have started ourselves because they are too time consuming but it’s too late now, sort of busy. We are presently ALL rotating bedrooms (9yr old Girlchild gets a brand new one), thanks to the hard work of Captain Schenanigans, who turned our 2 bedroom house into a 3 bedroom house! Such a blessing, but such a ton of work to get done by Girlchild’s birthday sleepover next week-ed!! Ugh.

We are also in the midst of selling our townhouse starter home that we had been renting. I never want to pull up another scrap of carpeting ever AGAIN! My new life goal is to never have to prepare another house for market- it’s bananas. I don’t know how other people with kids and jobs and lives make it look so easy. Add to that a crazy demanding work/travel schedule for my better half, a bucket full of anxiety for everyone,  and this season of  our lives is the hardest it has been in many, many years!

On the bright side, I have started selling backyard chicken eggs to one customer consistently, and another I barter eggs in exchange for swimming pool privileges in the summer for my children.  That one is really a steal! Next week-end I plan to purchase a few Prairie Bluebell chicks to help boost my flock’s future production. Having only last week earned back my chicks-in-the-house privilege (I promised to keep the smell down this time, only 2-3 chicks, really, honest, why are you laughing?), I now can rear birds earlier so they will be laying by July/Aug. Before I had to wait until the barn temp warmed up enough for my plate heater to do it’s job properly- in April.



Manchild has just sold his last batch of pinkie babies, since the cat keeps snacking on his breeding livestock. We moved them to a smaller cage for his new room and guess what? Mouse babies can fit through the bars on commercial cages- who knew?! So, his get rich quick scheme went bust before he could form a pyramid, but it was a good run while it lasted. He’ll probably have some summer produce to sell instead. Him and Sally, the last mouse standing. 20191221_110445

This year I plan to scale back on the 3 rounds of crops I planted in my 2 gardens last year. I got sick of picking stuff, and it seems to get frost bite in my vacuum sealed bags. IDK why? So I’m giving each kid half a garden (Manchild called dibs on the half closest to the house, of course), and letting them plan and run their own plots. It should be interesting, (Girlchild is already complaining that Manchild’s tomatoes are going to cross the line onto her side, a preemptive produce war strike).  Junior Homesteaders they shall be, if not the Hatfields and the McCoys. Can you really fight about future events that haven’t even happened yet? Really? REALLY?

Anyway, that’s all I’ve got for now. If you are one of the 3 readers this site has managed to hang on to since my disappearance, hey, thanks for your loyalty. Maybe more will read, maybe not, but my goal of being a homesteading, Jesus loving, time filler blog site is back in action. Once again. 🙂





Snippets of Life

I was gracefully awoken at 7am yesterday morning by a hysterical 9yr old girl, who explained that her rabbit’s insides were coming out of his stomach and she could see his veins and flesh when she held him!

Outside in my flops and nightgown.

Checked Chester.

Turns out I woken up at 7am on a Saturday morning to teach my daughter (again) about testicles. Hello weekend!

That’s a out how its been around here. Today my 7yr old son informed me that believes Trader Joes’ hoagie rolls are the same bread that Jesus ate.

I just stared at him blankly and nodded quietly. Matza was a desperate times, desperate measures kind of meal, so was manna, that rules out the only Biblical breads I knew about. Soooo, why not? Some days I don’t know where he gets it.

Last night after bedtime Jax-the-Cat knocked Manchilds male mouse cage off a desk and had a very stunned mouse in his mouth when my hubby located him in the living room. After returning Ted (from Hey Dude) to his cage, the poor mouse was found dead this morning.

Manchild was angrysad, and could not decide if Ted was livestock (Manchild is trying to raise mice for a friend) to be pitched over the fence, or a beloved pet to be buried with honor. It being a Sunday morning, we left Ted in the cage and went to church while Manchild thought his feelings through.

Unfortunately when we came home, because we are indeed slow learners, the cage was open on the floor again and mouse and cat were both missing in the house. Ugh!!

Now we have two, hopefully pregnant, females we are awaiting to deliver whenever, since my mouse husbandry skills are brand new and fairly half-assed. Plus I get to stop by the pet shop next to work to pick up a new Ted tomorrow as I head home. Ya-hoo. I don’t like driving with mice in my car. Creeps me out!

But what canyado? Children are weird, God is good, and felines are crazy! Amen.

Of Meat Rabbits and Idols


Wanna hear a crazy secret? I actually worshiped homesteading.  Not outright bowing down to it physically (’cause that’s impossible), but every spare second I was reading Morningchores.com online. Or I was reading through stacks of homesteading books, trying to accomplish EVERYTHING everyone else was doing. I was pouring hours and dollars, over and over again, into making more of everything I could- stopping just short of goats in my suburban backyard. More hens, more meat rabbits, more seeds, more eggs, more chicks, more, more more. Spiraling out of control wasn’t hard, but it was a slippery, quiet process.

See, I was super proud that I had the not-so-common skills of being able to raise my own protein source and butcher it. None of my friends could do this, and I wanted to be noticed for my rare achievement (for Baltimore). But everyone just thought it was gross.

So I thought if I could not only provide for my family, but make money selling food to a restaurant, that would prove my skills were important indeed, and not just gross. So I did it. I got a verbal contract from a local chef I was friends with and he agreed to buy 20 of my rabbits at a time, 3-4 times a year. I was THRILLED! Now I was legit. It wasn’t just a gross hobby anymore if someone else wanted to serve my hard work to the public. Now I was a real farmer! An entrepreneur. A business woman.

But it was all I could do to keep up with my housekeeping, child raising, meal cooking, nursing job, wife-ing, and farmer obligations. My hubby didn’t want to to lose all home my time to this “hobby”, and had legit concerns about everything growing so big on a backyard plot. I had concerns about how to go on 2 long trips this summer, leaving my  work load to be managed by someone else in my absence. I had completely lost all my spare time, and was stealing time in other areas of my life, like spiritual growth. I wanted to spend time with God everyday, but most days that didn’t happen. I was too busy. I had live creatures that depended on me, both 2 footed and 4 footed, and all of them had time sensitive needs!

I asked God to help me get back my daily time talking to Him and reading my Bible. I wanted my life to have a spiritual focus first, not homesteading first. But I wasn’t willing to cut anything out. I had gotten myself stuck, and wasn’t giving anything up. So, God took over.

Remember all the meat babies I got last month? I paid $140 to an Amish kid 1.5 hours away after none of my does would get pregnant, and I was behind on growing time for my restaurant demand. Yeah, all but one of those died due to a feeding error on my part. Thirteen baby rabbits (the last one we sold as a pet to a family). But not until I had sunk 2 vet bills into their care.  What a mistake.

At the same time, I had a mama bunny deliver 6 kits, then mysteriously die 2 weeks later. I hauled her body and the 6 kits to the vet, and found out her uterus prolapsed. I was given tiny syringes to feed the babies (baby rabbits will not suck a nipple bottle, and are terrible at hand feeding) and I keep kitten milk replacer on hand. I wrapped the babies up in a big bowl for warmth, feed them twice a day, and set my heavy laptop on the bowl to keep the cat out, leaving only let a small hole for air. They were in the wiggly, eyes closed stage still, and had to be kept in a nest for warmth.

The next morning, several tiny babies had died, and the two strongest kits were missing. MISSING. IN MY HOUSE! This was out of control. I found one kit on the living room floor, soggy with dog spit, laying on it’s back and kicking the air. It was cold, but not hurt. He died the next day anyway, despite my best efforts to warm him. As did the rest of his siblings. But where was the second one? I could NOT find it anywhere. The whole family looked, including my exasperated husband who was flat out of patience. Nada. That bunny was gone. Guess Grover or the cat got him. Darn it!

So I traded my last non-pregnant doe ( the one who wasn’t bitten by a fox, nor suffered a uterine prolapse, that girl) for another big doe from a friend. Wouldn’t you know it? My doe delivered 6 babies at her house 2 hours after she brought her home!!! I can’t make this stuff up!!!! I was failing miserably in this rabbit project! I was beyond irritated that night, and agreed to buy my own babies back from my friend. Ugh! Seriously? Then 2 days later they all died. My guess is that being on the ground in my yard gave mama bunny coccidia (something we thought we got rid of last year, but honestly it’s everywhere). So we traded back does. I didn’t want mine infecting her herd.

That was the last straw. I bought kits, they died. I bred kits, they died. I wasn’t even positive how I was going to dispatch 20 rabbits at 1/2 an hour a rabbit, and deliver them fresh-not-frozen to a restaurant. My fridge isn’t big enough to hold 10 rabbits overnight. But it didn’t matter anyway ’cause I was throwing in the towel. What had started out as a fun hobby, then a respectable income to prove myself, had turned into throwing time and money down the drain at the expense of my husband’s happiness. I was calling it, we were done raising meat rabbits!

Rather than feeling sad, I felt relief! Finally, I had the time I desired to have daily dates with Jesus. My foyer, which housed 20 rabbits one week-end, was now clean and empty. My feed bills were down, and my chore time took minutes each morning. I had peace. I felt spiritually joyful, and the silent relief in my husband was priceless. I let the restaurant know I couldn’t provide, and felt no shame. It was a good thing. I was unable to give my livestock a humane, healthy, safe life, so I would quit trying to keep them. The adult stock I had turned into pets, and the kids understood why we weren’t breeding baby buns anymore. I no longer judge the breeders who keep their rabbits in hanging mesh cages. That is literally the only way to keep them parasite-free and safe.

But just in case I needed affirmation that quitting my farming-in-the-suburbs obsession was the right way to go, I got the grand finale. A week later I was vacuuming the foyer to get any stray wood shavings, and rolled our sliding door closed so I could clean the wooden track. Out fell the worlds flattest, deadest, baby bunny. I had found the missing kit. I could not believe what I was looking at! What if I had skipped vacuuming that week?! Eeeeeew!

So yes, I had lost control of my priorities, and yes, my rabbit business never really got off the ground. My skill set will never be as cool and in demand as my sound engineer husband. But I have by spiritual life back. And I have my marriage on track. And right now, if you get real quiet, you can hear the tiny sound of rabbits everywhere breathing a sigh of relief! Whew.

20190216_164006              See the bloated belly on the gray top bunny? They shouldn’t be that round. 😦

So Far This Morning…

20190206_183734.jpgThe squeal of a rabbit is about the same decibel as the cry of a newborn baby. A frequency that alerts and upsets women long before men. At 2:30am this morning I was suddenly alerted to, and upset that there was a crisis in our rabbit colony, I’d heard the squeal through my bedroom window. With Grover dog at my heels, I thundered up the stairs and out the back door. Thankful that our bedroom window was part of the 4th wall of our rabbit enclosure, or I never would have heard a thing!

Outside, barefoot in the snow, I see what I knew I’d find. A fox was inside our rabbit colony, and upon seeing Grover, LOST HIS MIND trying to get out. Farm dog Grover was in ALL his glory, barking up a storm and running around the enclosure. Trying to get at that fox through the wire walls. I, being super helpful, was yelling at the fox to get out of there. The whole house was now awake.


I called to Captain Schenanigans that there was a fox in the run, and he staggers up the stairs in a haze. By now, I’ve realized the fox is unable to leave, and watched him throw his whole body face first into each wall of the pen repeatedly. The stench of fox pee is in the air. Yuck.

After failing to find his freedom, I stomped through the snow barefoot in my nightgown, flipped up the lid of the pen, and watched that fox light out of there in a mad panic. Grover dog, God love him, is HOT on that foxy tail and doesn’t let up the entire way across the yard. I have never been prouder of that dog! I really though he was gonna get that sneaky fox. But, honestly, Grover just loves to chase anything. I doubt biting was even on his scattered little mind.


Flipped the lid back down, I retrieved my boots and set about inspecting damage. Captain headed inside to reassure the kids all was well, and both Schenaniganlets ended up in our bed. They hate fox stories.

I saw the hole the fox had dug under the fence (he’d started it three days ago, but I kept covering it up with rocks and lumber, thinking it was the rabbits trying to get out), and upon only seeing one of the two doe bunnies in the cage, lay down in the snowy mud to look through the tunnel for doe #2, Padame. A red eyed white New Zealand who was new to us and less than a year old.

I saw a white nose and paws in the dark, shadowy tunnel. They weren’t moving. She was dead. But I couldn’t reach her from this side of the fence, the tunnel opening was too small. Guess a wild fox is skinnier than a meat rabbit. Who knew?

I crawled back up off the wet snow, entered the pen and laid back down on my belly inside the colony. I peered down the other opposite end of the tunnel. I saw bunny booty, but no blood. That actually kinda surprised me. Guess she must have broken her back. I get up, retrieve a battery powered lantern from the kitchen, and get a second look at the front of the tunnel. I reached in to touch a paw,  and it moved back slightly.  I was pretty sure I saw it more. I think. Then I noticed a twitching nose. She’s not dead! But she’s not okay, either.

Rabbits are known to literally die of fright. They are not hearty creatures. So if this one was in shock, and not bleeding, I planned to leave her alone. Yanking her out just might have pushed her over the edge, better to let her come out on her own. I snapped of my lantern, headed back into the house, and cleaned all the manure, mud, and snow off my knee caps and shins. My nightgown was covered in filth, so I pitched it into the laundry and redress.  Still shaken with the nights startling events.

My bed was filled with children,  who were filled with questions. We did a quick family debrief in the dark to prevent further worry, reassured them that their pet rabbits, Luke and Hops, were in the safest cage we had, and no, nothing bad would happen to them tonight. Yes, Grover was a hero. No, Mommy wouldn’t be crawling back into that bed. I chose the nearby couch and hoped sleep would come. It didn’t.

My mind raced about how to protect my rabbits, what more I could have done, and how could I blog this all up? 🙂 When I got up an hour later to see if schools would be delayed (we’d had 2 snow days this week and it was only Wednesday), I popped a Melatonin and crawled back under more covers. It worked.

Come 8am I headed back outside, laid in the snow in yet another pair of jammies (I don’t have clothes designated to laying in snow), only to see that Padame had not moved at all. I gently removed her from the back of the tunnel, and she released all her bladder on to me. Adult rabbits have never peed on us before, only the kits do that. Padame was scared, and not well. She held her ears at a funny angle, had scabby lumps on her head. She wasn’t hopping. But there was no blood anywhere!? Huh.

I got 9am vet appointment and sure enough, my girl had two puncture wounds on her head, one shallow, one deep, and her winter coat had covered them over. Had she not screamed, she would have been a goner. She also had a sore hip, and after a head shaving and would cleaning, came home on antibiotics and pain medication. A hundred dollar vet bill for a ten dollar rabbit. But if you’re not going to cull an injured animal, you have to treat the pain, no matter what. I skipped x-rays of the hip, we wouldn’t have done surgery anyway, but infection and pain management are must-do’s for animal care. Padame was hopping and kicking enough to show us she could use her hip, she just didn’t want to.

So now there is a second doe in the house, sharing the foyer with Honey, our newest  mother bunny. Padame’s in a cage on the other side of to room to avoid any stress of another doe, and we hoped to convince Honey no one was going after her growing family. Well, except Grover who tended to like to taste the rabbits. Farm-dog-in-training.


We’d also lost a baby rabbit today from last week’s herd. It had gotten it’s head stuck in the fencing. Not a great day for bunnies, but considering how long we’d gone since an incident, not too shabby.  Yes, my rabbits would be completely safe in small wire cages like all the other breeders use. But they wouldn’t be able to run, hide, dig, or snuggle on those biting metal wires. I’d rather their lives have more physical freedom and enjoyable moments, than total safety with depression and sore hocks. We could say the same for our children. A life in a bubble is no life at all.