Killer Bees

"There's something chewing in the wall."

"It's probably a mouse. Or a squirrel."

The hubs and I weren't terribly concerned. It wasn't the first time we'd found critters in the walls. Our house had been sitting vacant for two years before we moved in. We had taken it back from the wild. Squirrels, mice, spiders (so many spiders), flies, those creepy centipede things. We'd fought them all so far and won. Except for the flies. We seem to always have flies. But a mouse in the house was no biggie. The sound was coming from behind the head board so we shifted the bed out of the way and found a depression in the drywall. Yikes. That thing was hungry and probably coming through the wall soon. The chewing sound had been keeping us up for two nights before we finally got to the store to pick up some mouse traps. What? We were busy.

We pulled the bed out and blocked off the doors to the room. Then we let the cat in. The plan was for the hubs to jam a drywall knife into the wall. "I'm going for the kill shot first," he said. If I don't hit it and it runs into the room our cat will get it. She's a fantastic mouser. One! Two! Three!

BEES! RUN!

I caught a glimpse of the beginning of the apocalypse. Out of the hole in the wall a swarm of yellow jackets erupted. Straight out of a Steven King novel or a child's nightmare. I was starting at the wall and didn't move until my husband started pushing me out the door. I couldn't look away. We rushed into the bathroom (the closest door) and slammed it behind us. The door is glass so we both stood there, noses to the glass, watching our bedroom fill up with bees. Angry, buzzing, swooping bees. I cracked the door open and called the cat. She looked terrified, and also a little upset that there wasn't a mouse, but hustled out of the room. We watched the bees for awhile, feeling lucky that neither of us got stung and that they were confined to the bedroom and not filling our whole house.

Now what?

My husband is the bravest, calmest man I know. He put on all of his winter clothes, including his face mask, grabbed a roll of duct tape and a fly swatter and headed into the room. Like a real live MacGyver. He covered up the hole in the wall then opened the back door so the swarm could fly out. Which they did. God bless the architect who designed our home to have a door from the bedroom to the backyard. Then we killedabout 100 wasps. The hubs with the fly swatter and me rocking the hose attachment on my vacuum. We made quite a team.

Because they were wasps and not honey bees we called an exterminator to kill them. Yellow jackets are meat eaters and I didn't want to be their breakfast. Plus I was too scared to spend any length of time in that room. I spent three nights sleeping on our living room couch and every time I open the bedroom door I check for bees before I go in. I'm pretty sure I'm scarred for life.

 

Lazy Tomato Salad

 

One of the perks of living on a farm are all of the yummy veggies that are just laying around. Where most people open the fridge and say, "Hmm. What do we have to eat?" I walk out to the field, look around and say the same thing. It's like a giant, living pantry filled with all kinds of scrumptious ingredients. However, the sad truth of farming is that the farmers are usually too busy or too tired after a long day of farming to actually prepare any of the food they've grown. We are just like every other family in America that orders pizza when we can't get up the energy to cook. So yes, although I have endless options of ingredients to mix together the reality is that not only do I have to make the food, I have to go out and pick it, too. On the (somewhat) rare occasion that I get it together enough to make something I prefer it to be simple. This is especially important if it involves making something for a potluck or other obligatory get-together. One of my favs is the Lazy Tomato Salad. This fits the bill in that it looks really impressive, involves minimal ingredients, and takes almost no time at all. 

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Lazy Tomato Salad...in five steps:

Step 1: Go out to the field and pick a bunch of tomatoes. Oh, you don't have a tomato field? That's ok. Hit up the farmers market or, if you must, go to the grocery store. The trick is to select tomatoes in a variety of colors and sizes. My favorite combo is San Marzano (red, elongated), Green Zebra (green striped, round), Indigo Rose (purple, round), and Sungold (orange, cherry). 

Step 2: Cut up the tomatoes. Get a knife (preferably serrated) and start hacking. Slice the round ones end to end like you see on a sandwich. Cut the cherries in half.

Step 3: Arrange on a plate. I am almost hopeless when it comes to "plating" food but fortunately this one is easy. I do the maters one layer at a time. Start with flat ones, not cherries, so it makes a flatter base. Then keep adding layers of the different tomatoes.

Step 4: Drizzle some olive oil around on top. There's no right or wrong amount. Just start pouring and move the jug around as you go. This makes it all shiny!

Step 5: Sprinkle with herbs. I usually spread a little salt and pepper on top and then some basil. If you have it fresh, tear it up and toss it around. If not, dried is perfectly fine. For some reason food looks fancier if there's little green flecks all over it. This is why I'm constantly running out of parsley.

Step 6: There isn't one. You're done. Go set the platter out and impress someone with your kitchen prowess.

Chickens Attacked by a Fox

I started my morning with a frittata and a fox hunt. It was an exciting start to the day. While making breakfast I heard the tell tale "security" call from one of our birds. Our white Easter Egger chicken had jumped the fence and instantly become the victim of attempted murder. I ran outside in my jammies, spatula in hand (I was making the frittata. Eggs and tomatoes from the farm. It was delicious) and spooked the fox trying to drag the bird back to his little fox family in the woods.

Fun Fact: You can tell what ate your chickens by what's left. A pile of feathers but no carcass? That's a fox. A bloody carcass? A raccoon. A dead bird with a broken neck or legs? Probably a dog. 

Back to my story. I never saw the fox since I was only focused on the bird but the hubs sent our dogs out on patrol. Then he scooped up the bird and put her back in the run. TWO SECONDS LATER she had jumped the fence again. We've done a lot to protect this bird. We recently switched out the fence for a taller one after a raccoon got in the coop. Then the hubs butchered the rooster because he kept bullying her. And this chick had NO APPRECIATION. NONE. I was angry. And maybe a little irrational. I yanked open the living room window and shouted at her, "Do you not understand that we put you in the pen for your own good?! It is to keep you safe from predators! Did you learn nothing from what you just experienced? WE ARE TRYING TO SAVE YOUR LIFE!"

She looked at me over her shoulder and walked toward the dog run where she drank their water. Unbelievable. 

"BRING HER TO MEEEEE," I thundered. And I promptly clipped her wings right in my foyer. I am usually not a supporter of wing clipping. It's not very effective and I think it's an invasive measure for my own convenience. Also, you're not supposed to spank your children while you're angry. And that's exactly what I did. 

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Whitey is fine and currently trolling the yard. And please note: No frittatas were burned in the saving of this chicken's life.  

This chicken is a rebellious teenager

Our white Easter Egger chicken, who we call "Whitey" because she's our only white bird, is going through some sort of rebellious teenager phase. At least I hope it's a phase.  

She refuses to sleep in the coop.  

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She picks fights.  

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She lays eggs wherever she darn well pleases.  

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She is a bad influence on the other birds.  

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She's downright rude. 

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But she lays lovely green eggs and she's been with us for a few years now. I'm hoping she grows out of it.  

The Romance of Laundry Lines

Why is everyone so nostalgic for laundry hung outside? Sheets flapping in the wind, the smell of sunshine on your clothes, a woman in a sundress and a woven basket humming while she pins wet laundry to a rope strung between trees. The image evokes something in all of us even though I'm fairly certain no woman in my mother's generation ever hung laundry out. The rise of suburbia meant that all of your neighbors could see your skivvies and some places have outlawed the practice entirely. But ask anyone you know about hanging out laundry and something in the face relaxes, it's a wistfulness. Have we all read too many Nicholas Sparks novels? Seen too many Lifetime Original Movies? Where does this dreaminess come from? Especially since laundry is generally seen as such a chore. 

There is something about hanging clothes out that says 1) I have time for that. The advent of the dryer meant that advancing the laundry takes all of five minutes. Hanging clothes means you have some time to spare. 2) It's a sunny day. You don't hang laundry on a  rainy day. That defeats the purpose. 3) I've turned a chore into something fun. Hanging laundry is to using a dryer as farmers market shopping is to going to the grocery store. In the former you get to carry a basket, take your time, and enjoy the experience outside. The latter is generally a rushed process, fraught with frustration (my family doesn't appreciate that I'm doing this. grrr.) and usually on a to do list. 

Installing laundry lines in the yard. Our cat helped. 

Installing laundry lines in the yard. Our cat helped. 

It seems obvious that we'd find it more fun to hang sheets on the line rather than stuff them into the dryer and run off to get the next chore done. Besides, when you hang it on the line it never gets wrinkled, so you can take "ironing" off your to do list.