Thursday, January 31, 2008

Busy, Busy, Busy

Handyman has been off this week, so we are busier than one-armed paper hangers! There's no rest for the wicked (me) when Handyman is home.

Monday was still warm, but drizzly and Handyman was putting up guttering--big, long guttering on the barn. And, since my dad is still in FLORIDA, without his dogs--#1 and I had to fill the big boy shoes. We all got to stand on ladders with our hands over our heads, for hours it seemed, in the drizzle. Did I mention that these are leaning ladders with two feet on the frozen, muddy ground--not folding ladders with four feet? I have grown through a lot of ladder fear during my years with Handyman. He is a ladder fanatic. His record is an 8' folding ladder, bungie-corded to the top of four levels of scaffolding and he stood on the tip top. I was pregnant at the time--it was not a restful scene.

So after the gutter was mostly done, I was cleaning the stalls while H. worked on the downspout in the barn aisle. Now, the entire south side of our barn is open at this time. The horses can go in and out into the paddock at will. So he's inside the barn and I am in that open-sided stall area and there are a few hens working the manure/compost thing for me.

All of a sudden there's a hawk landing almost at my feet in the dirt of the paddock and the hens are leaving VERY quickly. I yell, "a hawk", to Handyman and then go at it with my manure fork to scare it away. It doesn't scare too quickly and then it just flies to the paddock fence and looks back over its shoulder at me. Handyman goes out the big barn door, around the corner to look at it from the other way and it flies back toward me! He thought it was going for my hat!

Then it goes up into a tree over the driveway, and watches for more hens. They were all frozen in the barn aisle. So interesting to see. They just freeze wherever they are. No one murmurs or turns their heads, for minutes.

Self-Picture of Hat>

So, that excitement over, I head out to get the mail and H. hears #1 yelling from the house that there's a hawk in the garage! So we hustle up to the house in the gloomy gray. Sure enough, that hawk has flow in the garage door toward the back of the garage where there's a fixed window. Unfortunately for him there is also a huge 5x5' fixed window stored almost exactly in front of the actual garage window and now this raptor is stuck between the two windows, flapping wildly, unable to get out.

Unfortunately for us, the stored window is wedged behind a furnace unit on one side and a LOT of racked lumber on the other side, with a big ZTR mower parked in front of it. So there will be no sliding the window away from the wall. So Superman, I mean, Handyman dons big leather gloves and gives it his best ornithologist try. He succeeds in getting the bird to drop all the way down to the floor where he cannot reach it at all and it is still flapping violently. #1 and I are hiding in the breezeway so as to not frighten it more or get hit by talons on its way out.

Handyman has us dismantle the apple picker from its 14' pole and he uses that to scoop the bird up into the window sill position where he can try to get a hold on it. Finally, after lots and lots of flapping and minor cursing, he nabs it! I, of course, remind him to cover its eyes and when he does, complete calmness abounds! It was a little thing. We determined it to be a sharp-shinned hawk, probably a juvenile. I'm not sure he could have picked up one of our hens--but H. reminded me that he doesn't have to pick it up to shred it and eat it! Anyway, we released him/her and were thrilled to see that he/she had no trouble flying. What a thrill!

Tuesday it continued to be warm and grey, but then we got one of my favorite Midwestern weather scenarios--Tornado warnings in January! Yes folks, we went from 50 degrees at noone to 16 degrees at 11 pm. with thunderstorms that became ice storms. Can you ask for more fun than lightening and ice in the same 6 hour period? I think not. The girls were trying to put the plexiglass in the big chicken coop window before the rain really got here and were scared back by a huge lightening show. Then after they went to bed, Handyman had to pry open the breezeway door for me because it was frozen shut and we had to go put vaseline on the combs of some of the chickens, to prevent frostbite.

And he complains about all the coats hanging up in the kitchen. We can't put anything away--who knows what season tomorrow will be! Horse blankets on, horse blankets off. Chickens in the kitchen, chickens out of the kitchen.

Oh, oh! The piece-de-resistance was that yesterday (temperature 14F), Handyman hired the big strapping son of a friend and they took down the eyesore behind our house! (This same young man also worked for us on the hottest day of the summer, putting in a new retaining wall. Poor sap! He must think we are complete freaks.) Remember, we bought an "as-is" house with all the eccentricities that come along with that. We, I mean, Handyman has removed all the furniture piles from the yard and re-done the house so that it doesn't look the same, at all. But there was one last vestige of icky hideousness lurking on the north side of our house. The only room that faces that way is the living room, where he has been redoing the deck--which got interupted by the barn electric project and then Christmas. (We have remodeling ADD.)

See--I wasn't kidding about the whole eyesore thing!

So, what I am saying is that I sort of stay away from the living room, so I don't have to see that thing. That thing is/was a barn about 12x18' with a sloped roof, looked like it was built out of particle board. It was also filled with junk, including appliances. #3 called it the possum barn. All children were banned from it, at all times, but I don't think they would have gone near it anyway. Everything about it said "70's Baby!" Cheap construction, weenie design and stash your trash mentality. We found a walker??, futon frame, two freezers (complete with dead raccoon inside--poor guy!) a rolling seeder, miles of garden edging and albums filled with pictures of kids available for adoption ??. Weird, weird, weird and ugly and yucky and now it's GONE! Two loads to the dump, a bunch burned and two freezers left sitting there. Bummer. Looking at old rusty appliances is almost as bad as the barn itself.

I guess my appliance lifting quota is going up this month. I'll have to post a picture of my biceps.


Debbie said...

WOW!! What a day! That was very exciting! Glad you were able to get pictures. And you've been able to do what I haven't figured out and that is to get the pictures in the middle of the blogging or where you want them. You will have to explain that to me sometime.
and yes, this has been some crazy weather! Thanks for sharing!!

Melissal89 said...

Hello! Thank you for visiting my blog. That is so exciting about your hawk! It is beautiful. I am certainly no hawk expert, but I think that perhaps it could be a juvenile Sharp-Shinned, however to me it also looks a lot like a juvenile Red-Tailed too.

For me I would determine based on the length of the tail (I can't see that in the picture). Anyways, you may be familiar with this website, but there is some very similar pictures of juvenile Red-Tails here:

Nice to meet you!

Blessings, Melissa