A Goodbye to a Dear Friend

My dear rooster Fred Mertz died this morning.  If you are a regular reader, you already know that Ricky Ricardo passed away a few weeks ago; he was nine years old, and Fred was seven.  Fred had been in declining health since Ricky's death.  He had lost the full use of his legs, struggled to walk, and sometimes just collapsed. 

It's never easy losing a beloved critter.  The Lord takes good care of me, though, and I know I'll see Fred again.  I have this heart image of my old buddy being welcomed in heaven, not just with open arms but with open wings.  (I have a bunch of chickens up there!)

My young rooster Ernest T. Bass has some mighty big rooster shoes to fill, but I know he's up to the task.

Freddy dear, it's been quite a journey.  I thank you for your great kindness and gentleness.  You've added so much to my life. 

A Rooster in the Bunch

The baby chicks are pretty well grown by now; they'll be laying eggs in the next couple of months.  Now I know that there will be more baby chicks, though, because one of the girls is actually a rooster! 


Here is Ernest T. Bass, formerly Clarabelle Morrison.  I think Ernest T. is absolutely magnificent.  Those colors you see in these photos are real.  I've suspected this for a little while now.  I've observed some nifty rooster behaviors: putting out a wing and pushing a hen or two to another place in the yard, watching everything very closely, and over the last couple of days practicing his crow (three syllables in a low octave).  This morning my senior rooster Fred Mertz sounded his usual "time to get up" song, and Ernest T. answered him back.

Hooray again!  And happy "cockadoodle doo" to me!

Here's a fun clip from The Andy Griffith Show featuring the real Ernest T. Bass.  Great classic tv!

History Lessons

Here's a little series of photos from my trip to North Carolina's beautiful, historic Outer Banks, one of my favorite places on earth. 

First, here's Island Farm, a living history farm that portrays daily life around 1847.  I am a believer in historical interpretation as long as it's as real as possible; Tilden's  Interpreting Our Heritage says it this way:  " Interpretation is a growth whose effectiveness depends upon a regular nourishment by well-directed and discriminating research.  There is no substitute or it, and no historic preservation should be attempted without (it)."  Yes, this is a lovely restoration.  I know it's not exact, but the hard facts like slavery and hard work aren't ignored.  There's local color.  There's atmosphere.  There's a devotion to this place in spite of the hardships the family faced all those years ago.   I was encouraged by one of the interpreters to sit on the beds, try out the chairs.   I declined but was charmed by the freedom to do so.   One almost expects a resident to be seated in one of the rooms or to be supervising the workers. 

A welcoming little corner of the porch.  Those lovely hydrangeas grow by the bush-full on the property.


                                        A view of the front porch --- and a beautiful quilt.

This magnificent ox is Charlie.  He pulls that wagon on popular little farm tours.

                     Visitors are treated to this view when they exit the visitor center.

        Even on the hottest of days, work on the farm continues; the interpreters all wear        historically accurate clothes.  This gardening lady wore a long cotton dress, white stockings, and heavy black shoes.  I loved the hat.  I wouldn't have loved gardening this way.

                                       A small section of the garden.  Simple and beautiful.

                               It's wash day, here done with lye soap  and a washboard. 

    The house is light and airy this time of year.  There are no window screens; there was no such thing back then, but the summer air was delightful on the day of my visit.
                                                             You may enjoy this link:
                                                                       The Island Farm

Now to Cape Hatteras and one of my favorite lighthouses.  Its history is fascinating and very extensively detailed, so I won't cover it here.  It's impressive. 

A very interesting side note about this lighthouse --- it was moved from its original location where it was just too vulnerable to the ocean.  Here's a link to the story:

                                                           Moving the Lighthouse


A little collection of my Outer Banks books with a Great Lakes reader in the mix.  I bought that "Old Salt" hand-carved figurine in Petoskey, Michigan, about 45 years ago.  Doesn't he look great with them?  Every now and then I'm inspired to dig into these books again.  That time has come; history awaits.

Chicken Antics

Some fun photos of the babies.  They'll be three months old the 19th of this month.  Big girls.  Sweet girls. And so much fun to watch!

Jennifer Morrison, also known as Little Round Jenny, is on the left.  That's Aunt Bea doing the lovely ballet step on the right.  Jenny is an araucana like her sister, Mrs. Mendelbreit.
Here's Clarabelle Morrison, Clara for short.  She's amazing.  She's the biggest of the bunch, and we don't know what breed she is.  Clara was with the araucanas when I bought her, but I know she's not that breed.  The blue feathers in this photo are actually deep iridescent green in real life.  The red ones are cinnamon brown with burgundy highlights. 

Clara again, this time with Daphne.  (Or is that Skippy?  Aunt Bea?  The leghorns all look alike.  I just pick one of the names when I need to use one.) 

My older chickens are doing fine.  Thelma Lou even hangs out with the babies in the evening before she beds down in her hut, and Fred and Lucy are sleeping in one of the pine trees again.  I wonder if they still miss Ricky since his passing - it's been almost three weeks.  Fred's turned out to be a good leader, though.   All is well with my precious, quirky chickens.

A Miscellany of Critters

Opie, Otis, and Virgil - all lined up and headed to the barn.  The boys are doing very, very well.  I love their sweet companionship; even cleaning out their pasture , a seemingly endless task, is a pleasure as they watch my every move - and my every shovel-full.  They're curious and friendly and love to be petted.  Are they spoiled?  Oh, my goodness, yes!

 Otis has the endearing habit of cocking his head when there's a camera around.  Cute, huh?

Opie and Virgil in a serious mood.  This actually isn't a very good picture of Virgil; he doesn't look this "horsey" in person and has a big, boxy head.  Sweet donkeys.

 The baby chicks, now almost 3 months old, are difficult to photograph, but here you can see their size and color.  There are three white leghorns, two araucanas, and one I'm-not-sure-what-she-is.  Their coop in the chicken yard looks pretty rough, doesn't it?  I've had it for almost 3 years, but it's never been used (or maintained!) until now.  I'm treating the girls to a new coop in a few weeks.  It's going to be big enough for these grown-up girls to roost at night and lay their eggs by day.  They free-range but always return here to sleep.  Precious babies.

 Our constant companion, Lucky the farm dog. He's a German shepherd/chow mix.  A handsome boy, his duties include greeting visitors, supervising outdoor work, watching out for "his" chickens and donkeys, and keeping watch at night.   

My only rooster, Fred Mertz, watches over Lucy and Thelma Lou now.  Ricky Ricardo the rooster died last week (details in previous posting), and Fred has become a good leader.  That's my chubby Lucy with her feathery back end toward the camera.  Thelma Lou, one of her nieces, looks just like her.

And here's my sweet Thelma Lou.  She's really much prettier than the photo shows. 

So that's what's happening these days with the critters here on the farm.  They send their hee-haws, their cocka-doodle-doos, their clucks, and their barks your way on this beautiful day!

"Behold, I make all things new..." Rev. 21:5

A sad morning on the farm --- my head rooster Ricky Ricardo died around 6:00 a.m.  I heard him crowing in response to Fred Mertz, his buddy and  occasional rival.  Then it was just Fred, who now realizes that there won't be any rooster responses.  The Lord told me about this yesterday, that Ricky was in no discomfort but was fading away; he'd been slowing down the last couple of weeks, and even his usually lusty crow was different.

Ricky was nine years old. He came with the property when we moved here as did four other roosters and five hens.  He was a wonderful leader - always on the lookout for danger to his hens and always attentive to finding new food sources for the girls.  I have a few nifty videos and lots of photographs of my handsome guy. I'll look at them and remember and smile.

God takes good care of me, and He gave me this scripture this morning: "Behold, I make all things new."  (Revelation 21:5)  Yes, I know the full context of this verse.  It deals with new heaven and the new earth after the tribulation, after the millennium, after the great white throne judgment.  (I am not one to take scripture out of context !)  But it deals with His great and precious promises and provisions.  I dug a little further.  Here's more reason to rejoice in I Corinthians 2:9 -10:  "No one's ever seen of heard anything like this, never so much as imagined anything quite like it --- what God has arranged for those who love Him.  BUT YOU'VE SEEN AND HEARD IT BECAUSE GOD BY HIS SPIRIT HAS BROUGHT IT ALL OUT INTO THE OPEN BEFORE YOU"  (the Message transliteration --- capital letters mine).  I fully expect not only comfort but full realization of what the Lord will do for me in a glorious, wonderful way, not only in eternity but here in this life, too.

So in spite of my sadness, there is so much more that enriches my life.  Like I often say "All this and heaven, too!"  And seeing my precious critters there.  Wow.

I miss you, dear Ricky, but I know I'll see you again.

A Saturday Sampler

It's a beautiful day here on the farm.  This week's storm brought us four and a half inches of rain, and everything is green and growing.  I took a few pictures this afternoon; here's a little sampling of what's happening around here.

Opie, Otis, and Virgil always enjoy their hay.  Here they are having their lunch.  Of course, in between meals they graze their pasture.   Sweet boys.  And good eaters.

The blackberry bushes are growing like crazy.  We're blessed with thousands of these.  Really.  They grow in the woods, along the edges of the pastures, anywhere they please.  They're wild here; some folks consider them to be weeds, but we love the sweet little berries and have to pick them as soon as they ripen --- the birds and the deer love them, too.

One of the hay fields has a low area that makes the prettiest little pond after the rain.  It's beautifully decorated with yellow flowers right now.

Oh, how the baby chickens have grown!  Here they are today, almost nine weeks old.  That's Clarabelle in the back.  She's joined by Mrs. Mendelbreit, Skippy, and Jennifer.  The other two, Aunt Bea and Daphne, were elsewhere, filling their little chicky tummies nearby.

A  chicken question for y'all:  what kind of chicken is Clarabelle, the gal in front?  When I bought the babies, she was in the bin with all the araucanas, but she isn't that breed.  See those burgundy-brown feathers?  Jennifer, right behind her, is an araucana.  Clarabelle is a beautiful girl --- I just don't know what type.  Perhaps someone at the feed store will be able to identify her if I bring a picture. 

There's always work to do here, but it's so very pleasant to be surrounded by beauty and critters as we complete our tasks.

Hope y'all have had a lovely Saturday, too.