Nature verses the local grocery...

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Snow Trails: Christmas Blizzard

Mother Nature gave us a Christmas gift that whitened up our outdoor wonderland, will probably test a few snow-shoveling hearts today and slow down travel to an as-needed basis for a day or two.

Received an e-mail from a Southeast Colorado neighbor/writer/friend in Lamar this morning about his snow coverage.  Oris George always tells a good story, and this one is no less descriptive or real than those in his new book, Along the Back Roads of Yesterday. This e-mail is a must-share!  As is his book - a great gift for your last-minute buying.

 “Mother Nature zapped us a good one! …about 12 inches of new snow last night, drifts 3 to 5 feet…  In places the cows are eating corn stalks, etc. that are on completely bare ground.  Snow drifted onto the back porch, three feet deep!

I opened the kitchen door at 4:30 this morning…  Much to my sleep-eyed surprise, our border collie who was supposed to be in her doghouse, came bounding into the kitchen, acting all smart! Her pen had drifted full and she had walked out over a 6 foot drift. With this knee just recovering from a replacement, I could hardly walk in the drifts.  (In my advanced age I am becoming a sissy.)

I have not a clue how I am going to clean the snow out of that dog pen. I wrapped myself in a heavy coat, put on heavy rubber boots and ventured out to feed the chickens. Trying to walk through those snow drifts with boots on and the snow deep, I found I needed to go back to the house and wait for spring!”

I suspect poor Lily (the smart dog)...may spend a few days visiting Oris's chicken yard!

Enjoy the beauty, wonder and awesome power of Nature-at-work this Christmas Southeast Colorado.

Particularly today, as the snow plows roar by...Nature prevails!

Friday, December 9, 2011

Science Trails: Lunar Eclipse

In the early moments of humankind’s scientific awakenings, an eclipse – solar or lunar, might have created serious fear.  Here in the sky, something big and different, above their heads, may have sent early humans into hiding.  Maybe not.

But today, we understand eclipses – at least mostly, and look forward to their occurrences as an expected and exciting phenomenon that surely does not threaten our existence.  Rather, it heightens our knowledge, awareness and emotions.  And most likely creates just a few photo shoots of varying results. Tomorrow, December 10th will host a total Lunar Eclipse for parts of the western hemisphere.

According to the site, “Ancient Chinese recorded 2,000 lunar eclipses, including 400 total eclipses. Outside China the earliest records of solar eclipses were found in the ruins of ancient Babylon, and the earliest solar eclipse among the six records took place in 911 BC.  Yet in China the earliest record of solar eclipse, found in the inscriptions on bones and tortoise shells unearthed at the Yin ruins, was in 1200 BC, nearly 300 years earlier than the ancient Babylon record and more than 600 years earlier than the first record of solar eclipse in Europe. The Spring and Autumn Annals compiled by Confucius recorded 37 solar eclipses in 244 years, and 32 of them have been proved reliable.”

S. J. Johnson in the journal Observatory, 1888, stated that a Lunar Eclipse was recorded in Annales Cambriae in AD 690.

Tomorrow, being a Saturday may prevent some late risers from joining the observant multitudes who will usher in this incredible astronomical event.  But for the rest of us, lets get to bed early tonight and set our alarm clocks in time to observe yet another of Nature’s fantastic performances. The eclipse begins about 4:45 AM PST; we'll be out there about 4:30 AM...just in case.

Nature Prevails!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Chicken Trails: The Pupalotte Kids

Hasty Acres introduces the 5 day old, Pupalotte kids - all 25 of them! Nature, in its tiny, fluffy stage.

-The Pupalottes are little bundles of energy with growing wing feathers, some just a little, a few - over half already!
-The Pupalottes already flap their little wings fervently as they jump/fly short distances.
-The Pupalotte personalities are developing; l'tle Ms. Pupalotte, pale yellow with teeny black spots, is my fav; she sits quietly on my arm and seems to enjoy her head and chin rubs.
-Most of the black Pupalottes, the cockerels, are more flighty, less touchable.
-A few of these black Pupalottes quickly peck at my finger if its close to them, while the others are more approachable.

More Pupalottes on the way; Hasty Acres awaits...

Nature prevails.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Chicken Trails: Welcome, Little Peeps...

Had someone told me years ago that I would entertain the fascination I do for little critters of the feathered flavor, it would have been my best joke of the day.  But Yesterday when our little balls of fluff arrived, it truly brightened my spirit, my day, my month! as it always does. DH and I fussed and doted for about 2 hours till completely convinced that the heat lamps were perfectly placed; that the water had just a touch of sugar for the first few hours; that they seemed settled in and happy; that they were all cuddled several times; that every detail of their amazing little bodies was discussed and absorbed! 

My order stated 8 Easter Egger pullets and 2 Cockerels.  For warmth reasons (to my surprise) the hatchery added 15 Cockerels of unknown type.  I'm guessing they are some sort of sex-linked or possibly Maran variety judging from the spotted heads and dark greyish black feathering. They will make many meals ahead.  If they are Marans, I'll keep 1 or 2; it is my understanding so far in my research that adding the dark chocolate variety to the Easter Egger gene pool will produce olive eggs - a nice addition to the color palette in the egg cartons!

Easter Egg birds (who come from Ameraucana crossings) have beautiful, varied colored feathering, never quite the same with each new addition.  Laying mostly egg color variations of blue, greenish or pink, these adorable creatures are an interesting endeavor.

This group came from Ideal Poultry in Texas; these are by far, the calmest yet liveliest birds we've owned; easily handled, not jumpy.   Did I mention they are almost as cute as newborn kitties?!

Meyer Hatchery is sending 15 more next week. Visit here for updates as the flock grows.

“We can see a thousand miracles around us every day. What is more supernatural than an egg yolk turning into a chicken?”  S. Parkes Cadman

As always...Nature prevails, in my chicken coop tonight.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Trails of Kindness: A Special Glass of Milk

I received an e-mail today, one of those that circle around with embellished tales of Love and kindness that put a tear to the eye and tip our daily spiritual bank accounts a little toward the ‘full’ side.  Today, I followed this e-mail through and found its basis to be even more ‘filling’ than the embellished tale, itself.

The e-mail reads:

Glass of Milk

One day, a poor boy who was selling goods from door to door to pay his way through school, found he had only one thin dime left, and he was hungry.

He decided he would ask for a meal at the next house. However, he lost his nerve when a lovely young woman opened the door.

Instead of a meal he asked for a drink of water! . She thought he looked hungry so brought him a large glass of milk.
He drank it so slowly, and then asked, How much do I owe you?"

You don't owe me anything," she replied. "Mother has taught us never to accept pay for a kindness."

He said ... "Then I thank you from my heart."

As Howard Kelly left that house, he not only felt stronger physically, but his faith in God and man was strong also. He had been ready to give up and quit.

Many years later that same young woman became critically ill. The local doctors were baffled. They finally sent her to the big city, where they called in specialists to study her rare disease.

Dr. Howard Kelly was called in for the consultation. When he heard the name of the town she came from, a strange light filled his eyes.

Immediately he rose and went down the hall of the hospital to her room.

Dressed in his doctor's gown he went in to see her. He recognized her at once.

He went back to the consultation room determined to do his best to save her life. From that day he gave special attention to her case.

After a long struggle, the battle was won.

Dr. Kelly requested the business office to pass the final bill to him for approval. He looked at it, then wrote something on the edge, and the bill was sent to her room. She feared to open it, for she was sure it would take the rest of her life to pay for it all. Finally she looked, and something caught her attention on the side of the bill. She read these words ...

"Paid in full with one glass of milk"

(Signed) Dr. Howard Kelly. has a touching and true short biography review on Dr.  Howard Kelly which you can read through the above link.  According to Snopes:

  • Though Dr. Kelly was never destitute, he did give over half of his services, free, to those who were.
  • Thought Dr. Kelly did not save the sick woman from a rare disease, his charity to her and all of the above-mentioned non-paying clients seems rare in today’s world of me, me, and more me.
  • Though, coming from a wealthy family, Dr. Kelly was not selling items door to door to pay for schooling, he was on a Nature walk when he received his pivotal glass of milk.

Sometimes we are annoyed and irritated by the plethora of ‘pass it on’ e-mails that clog our in-boxes through the days.  And I wonder sometimes if many of them are even worth the time it takes to read them. 

Yet, once in awhile, they give us a peek into the special parts of other lives, that indeed become – at least for a few minutes in our hectic worlds…’the wind beneath our wings’.

As always...Nature prevails.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Critiquing Trails: Torture Tactics

Louis L'Amour once said: "There will come a time when you are finished.  That will be the beginning." As a prolific writer himself, Mr. L'Amour must have had a writer's first critiquing session in mind.

Jan Verhoeff recalls, "Gasping for air, I looked around the table at the faces looking back at I watched them hatchet my work with X’s, lines, scrolls, and deletions they believed I should make." They call this particular type of torture, critiquing.

Sometimes the writers across the table from you, who seem to have taken your new creation right up to death's doorstep, are truly opening that proverbial door to new beginnings, new heights of perfection that will lead you down a quicker path to publication.

Verhoeff's article pokes some fun at her first critiquing experience at a writer's group.  But most new writers face their first critique session with trepidation; and with good reason.  They've poured hours of hard work into their article/story/book, pushed Spell Check 212 times, double-checked their quotation marks, cut some sentences, capitalized a few words and generally put in hours of editing.  It is truly perfect now, they boast with pride. Every editor this side of the Atlantic is writing them a check.


Ms. Verhoeff and a gazillion other new writers survived this torture, so will you.  Be prepared, all good writers have to pass under this troll bridge to reach the other side, the side where acceptance letters outweigh pink rejection slips. In fact, seek out this necessary skill of critiquing, learn the ropes so you can return this life-breathing favor to your peers.
Here are a few tips for wading through the shark-infested waters of your first critique.

1.Distance your emotions; remember that the papers that your so-called writer friends are using for red-pen torture tactics are simply cold, unfeeling words on hard, dry paper.

2.Trust your fellow writers; they have your best interests at heart; they've walked this road before and survived; so will you.

3.Calmly ride out the wave of adrenaline; it only lasts about 20 minutes; you will bless them all when your editor sends you your first check.

4.Respect the life-long learning curve; five heads really are better than one.

5.The secret here is this; the first critique is the worst, each one thereafter is easier.

As you approach your next writer meeting, group or workshop, park your itty-bitty feelers at the door; they'll be patiently waiting for you when you leave. They do have their place, they are paramount to the rest of your writing; love scenes, arguments, plots and all your characters ahead must be driven by good emotions as well as intellect, talent and hard work.

Treasure your critiquing peers. Truth is, the time will come in the not too distant future when you will seek out these chicken killers with any number of valuable bribes. Critiquing is truly the biggest key to your writing success.

Besides...revenge is sweet, they have papers too!

As always, Nature prevails.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Fireside Trails: A Pink Event

Pink is not necessarily prevelent in Oris George's life, since he does not like the color! But today, Mr. George inadvertently created a 'pink event' in his life.

Sometimes, Mr. and Mrs. Oris enjoy an evening near their wood stove, reminiscing by the fire, sharing donkey memories and re-reading one of Oris' special stories, A Man by the Side of the Road (one of my favorites). And sometimes, Oris' camera gives him even more memories...

It was on one of these chilly evenings that Oris took these photos.  His talent is awesome, and helps us prepare for the cold, winter months ahead.

                                      Photo by Oris George

Mr. George tells me these shots were taken with the glass front of the stove - closed!  I am continually stunned and in admiration of this writer and his photography talents.

"Stove is a Hearth Stone Heritage model Non-Catalytic Wood Stove with glass door.The camera is a Nikon coolpix p100 nikor 26x wide optical zoom ed vr , 4.6 120mm 1:2,8-5.0."

"I was sitting looking at the stove from an angle. I watched the blue flame dancing across the top of the logs as the gas from the logs was burning. I noticed when the flame flared...As I looked at it from the angle, it flashed a column of light that seemed to come out from the stove."

                                      Photo by Oris George

As always...Nature prevails, even in the flames of life.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Tiger Trails: The Tiger Book

Pictures of the two versions of John Vaillant's book, The Tiger, from

 The Siberian Tiger. Fast facts from National Geographic
  • Mammal, Carnivore
  • Size = 10.75 feet
  • Weight = 660 pounds
  • Protection status = endangered.

A new book by John Vaillant, The Tiger, gives deep insight into the mind and soul of a Siberian Tiger in Russia. A true story that will shock and sadden you and change the way you think about tigers.

This video by Vaillant explains this true thriller.

As always, Nature prevails.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

The Last Hurrah: Trails of the Little Red Boat

Once upon a time, in a little town on the prairie, two young-hearted oldsters took their little red boat out on the reservoir for a last hurrah.  After all, 80 plus degrees can't last too much longer; it's October 15th!

Life is good.

The husband of this young couple, whom hereinafter shall be referred to as DH, is always so particular about packing life jackets, oars, etc., for a boat trip; he's quite the responsible knight-in-boating armor.

The doting wife of this couple, whom hereinafter shall be referred to as DW, also embraces a responsible approach to life; she's been spotted wearing her life vest while cleaning the boat in the driveway.

But, I digress. Back to the big pond.

DW gets into the little red ship.  As they happily begin their putt-putting away from the dock, DH mentions...’Aahhhh, DW, 'I think the oars...are missing.' 

Hmmm, said DW, we do live so close, only two miles to the she basked in the warm glow of the fall afternoon sun from a puff-filled sky.  Her cheeks were dusted by an ever-so-soft breeze off the surrounding, calm, cool water.  She glanced over at DH, his glazed-over eyes resembling those of a hunter lost in the bowels of a Bass-Pro Shop...the week before antelope season.

Life is good.

They shared deep, abiding thoughts...

'The motor always purrs like a kitten, why would today be any different, right?'


'We only have about an hour before sunset, right?' 


'We checked Weather Bug so we're assured there will be no wind or storms for the rest of the day, right?'


By now, the responsible oldsters had putt-putted to the middle of the big pond on the prairie and DW was deep into a photo shoot, logging picture after picture as she daydreamed of National Geographic awards for her surely priceless, back side shots of the one-and-only John Martin Dam.

Life is very good.

Grebes were popping in and out of the pond, Pelicans scattered here, there and yon; the paradise effect of the last hurrah was reaching toxic proportions. So DH headed the putt-putt west, leaned heavily on the throttle and the oldsters were off, flying down the full length of the pond...

Life was more gooder!

DW has a lovely friend from up north whose psychic abilities are renowned state-wide.  She had sent DW a touching message earlier in the day, but DW...had forgotten; it was the farthest thought from her mind:

"Sometimes we have to live through the valleys and experience the mist beneath the falls, to remember the magnificent views from the top."

Just in case your story-reading skills are a tad rusty, try to keep in mind that this quote is the pivotal point of this little tale of the oldster's last hurrah...

Back to the pond.

DW says to DH; "Oh Love of my long life, could we pretty please stop in front of the Point Campground so I can have one more stunning shot of the gorgeous cliffs below for my upcoming sale to National Geographic?"

DH - deep in his boater-in-shining-armor mode, quickly obliged and the putt-putt stopped.   

Silence grew gentle and warm around the oldsters.  A moment of all moments. In the distance, flowing across the water…bird sounds reverberated from the cliffs, ducks flew gracefully about overhead, and the sun rays hugged and warmed their firm, shiny skin.  The water was still, the camera worked. 

DW finished, looked at DH; there was no word to describe the magic between them.

Life is great!

After a few moments of heavenly bliss, seared into their psyches forever, DH starts the putt-putt.  Putt…nothing.  Putt...nothing, again and again and again.  Putt-putt is tired.  Putt-putt is stubborn.  Putt-putt is dead!

Life is no longer good.  In fact, life sucks!

DW looks over at DH.  No glazed-over eyes there! There was no word to describe this look.  DH looks back at DW who quickly looks back at the cliffs, and obsessively takes 97 thousand more shots! Blood pressure pills...are good...

Moments...or maybe hours pass.

"Are you sure about the oars?"

"Yes, dear Love of my life, this little ship is pretty small, I doubt they are hiding…"

"Shut up!"

DW - who is famous for tons of big ideas and no follow-through, gets the bright idea of wrapping her hand through straps of the firm, spare seat flotation device to fashion an oar, and begins to paddle. 

"Faster, faster," goads DH, "the sun is almost down and it'll be dark soon!"

"Shut up!"

Before long, magic being magic, things began to change.

"It is so quiet and gorgeous right here, right now," whispers DW.

"Indeed it is," agrees DH.  The oldsters relaxed and Nature surrounded them.  Their hearts and souls soaked up the beauty of the big pond, on a luscious fall day, in southeast Colorado.

After some time had passed, DH began to murmur sweet nothings to his little buddy putt-putt and before long, putt-putt came alive again! The oldsters hugged and all was lovely, as they quickly putt-putted absolutely-straight-back to the dock.

Life is always more near the big pond on the prairie. It’s the occasional valleys and mists… that can be a bit bothersome.

Nature prevails.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Egg Trails: A Baker’s Dozen

By George, they almost did it! We collected a baker's dozen of eggs today, leaving only two pretties not producing as yet. We're singing egg-praises to our productive flock today at Hasty Acres.

The usual egg singing that goes on most of the morning was a bit louder today; now the cause is clear. At one point in this morning’s loud rock concert (a bit off key), we peeked into the coop and chuckled at the line of singing hens that ran from the chicken door to the ladder below the nest boxes. We need more nests...was the general consensus. So we added 3 extra milk crates to the nest area to hopefully assist them in expediting their morning chores.

We sat watching our flock through several cups of coffee today. We couldn’t be more pleased with the final flock members, following our final culling last month. We had a couple of White Rock roosters who thought they owned the place! They made the girls scream and kept the flock in an uproar for hours. They brought $3.25 a piece at the monthly auction!

3 roosters remain, an Americauna and 2 Cornish. You’d never know they were on the job if you weren’t watching closely. The girls cooperate quietly for the most part due to the gentle care they get from their mates. The dominant guy is a gorgeous Americauna whom we have dubbed Mr. B.D. (big daddy!). He’s mostly wheaten-colored with a stunning rust saddle across his upper back. His prominent tail sports lovely, rust-laced wide feathers with a nice complement of saddle feathers laying down both sides of his lower back. There will be a photo shoot soon; he just needs to get a little more camera-ready.

The remaining flock consists of 2 Light Brahmas, 2 White Leghorns, 4 Americauna pretties, 1 darker reddish hen that may be a Rhode Island Red cross, 1 reddish and white hen who resembles a Golden Comet, 2 Shiny black hens with some reddish lacing on their chests – possibly Black Star crosses, 2 Black hens with slight Columbian-type white collars resembling a Birchen Maran and of course - our new Buff Orpinton.

Our flock is growing strong and productive and we are enjoying the 6 to 13 eggs a day.

As always – particularly in our backyard chicken flock these days…Nature prevails.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Tasty Hasty Eggs: Breakfast Trails

Hasty Acres presents our first home-grown egg-fry. When our hens started laying their first eggs 4 days ago, we were excited. Today, after enjoying this tasty egg-fry made with our home-grown onions, some pre-baked yellow potatoes, red pepper dices, a few mandarin orange decorations - and - of course, the main attraction, a combo of white and brown eggs from our pretties, well...yummbly fits!

Though a lot of the hens are singing their gotta find a nook to lay this egg song, most have yet to discover the stylish nests waiting for them on their wall. Grass hay lines their nests made from matching milk crates; all 5 of the cubbies have a white golf ball in the middle...hints are good...

We traded a rowdy Rock rooster for an overly broody Buff Orpington from my dear friend who knows more about chickens, farming and everything else in life - than I will in a hundred years!

Buffy thinks she is setting on a nest full of eggs...all the time! When approached - by human or peer, she puffs up, sticks out her wings and clucks up a storm. She really looks BIG and BAD. I have no problem understanding her..."come near my babies and I'll pluck every one of your feathers - or eyes - take your choice"! Even the Rock roosters take heed. This chicken is a trip! I hope she will be one of our main setters next spring.

"The incredible, edible egg" is a phrase to ponder when trying to regulate your diet while ingesting healthy, nutrition-packed food.

For anyone hesitating to eat eggs, here are some links to browse for healthy information about eggs.

As always, Nature prevails.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Egg Trails: The First Egg of the Flock

Ladies and gentlemen, a moment of due silence, please, as the drum rolls.... The girls are listening.

The first egg of the flock arrived this AM; it's real; it's at Hasty Acres; it was in the nest; it is perfect! And almost full size.

Interestingly enough, it is brown. We expected a white one from one of the leghorns since the literature suggests they are the earliest layers in our flock.

When we arranged this idea (as I mentioned in an earlier post), we chose breeds that would round out a natural flock with tendencies for:

-eggs - including production and colors
-small combs - to better handle winter temps
-setting tendencies - for natural flock reproduction
-and of course - prettiness (is that even a word!) for enjoyment.

Our pretties arrived at the post office from Cackle Hatchery, March 23rd, 2011. Leghorn, Americauna, Cornish, Rock and Brahma pullets filled the welcomed, long-awaited box of teeny-tiny, chirping pretties of various shades of chicky colors; we were ecstatic!

Their palace awaited their arrival. A brand new sheep tank in our chicken house feed room sat chicky-ready complete with heat lamps snapped to both sides, newspaper-lined bottom with paper towels on top to keep their legs from splaying. 2 brand new red, long chicky feeders filled with Chick Starter and 2 chicky waterers filled to the brim with fresh water laced with some sugar to ensure they perked up – from a long, scary chicky trip from Missouri.

Extraneous chickys entered our flock during the week or two following the March date above, as Big R feed stores had the gall to have rows of tanks full of chicky-pretties to tempt us! More on that later.

August 20th, 2011. 5 months...shy 2 days!

Which ever pretty you are, congratulations! You are the leader of the eggs,the queen for a day; you rock, egg-layer-leader of the Hasty Acres chicken flock.

Even in chicky world, Nature prevails.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Space Shuttle Trails: The Changing of the Space Guard

The article linked below succinctly sums up the era of the space shuttle. Richard Velotta intertwines a little family humor with some sad facts about the last flight of Atlantis.

At 64, I hesitate to imagine that an era of 30 years has passed. I vividly recall - even the moon walk, the rockets, the ocean landings with the astronauts bobbing around in the bumpy seas. Where has all this time gone...

But, as Mr. Velotta suggests, sometimes a closed door opens another - maybe different, but usually better. Better...may entail asteroids, other planets...and maybe in another lifetime, another universe.

LinkAs always, Nature prevails - even in Space!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Fiction Trails: Babe Ridge

I dedicate this story to my brother who lost his long-time feline friend, Babe, several years ago.


Babe’s meowing woke Kayley, again. 4:24 AM showed faintly red from across the room.

For five consecutive nights Kayley had endured the far-away cries, sleeping only fitfully from exhaustion now. Several times a night she’d stumble around the old farm house, searching the same corners, hoping that maybe this time, Babe’s long, elegant Siamese head would appear, staring at her with those stunning blue eyes. Each time Kayley began her search, the cries stopped. Each time she’d doze off, they returned. Her meowing sounds so far away, lonely and pleading. A forlornness surrounds me each time I hear her, she thought.

It’s impossible. Kayley reiterated her thoughts during each trek through the moonlit house. Even if Babe was trapped somewhere close by, she’d have surely passed out if not died by now. I’m going crazy - there is no other logical explanation…

The alarm at 8 AM seemed much earlier than it was. But soon, sounds of coffee dripping and its all too familiar aroma, covered Kayley with a thin layer of overdue sanity as her brain tried to make sense of the past five days. Looking through the large, kitchen window out over the garden brought her ongoing grief to forefront as she yet again, struggled with the memories of Babe’s disappearance three months ago. The day after the early October snowstorm that shut down upstate New York for a week, she thought. I'll always remember that empty, white morning.

Babe is gone! Embrace that. She stiffened her back, forcing a semblance of emotional strength into her gut. Yet the cries she endured these past nights seemed almost normal, or maybe that was her mind playing tricks – wishing Babe back into her life, into her arms. I miss the purring most; whether Babe was on my shoulder, against my face at night, on my lap in the porch swing…always the purr – loud, yet strangely soft and soothing.

She poured the warm, inviting coffee into her old, chipped cup with the Siamese cat picture. Grabbing her coat by the back door, she decided to walk out to the empty garden while the coffee worked at restoring some life back into her neurons. Maybe if I can experience the sadness just one more time, stand in the garden where Babe and I shared our last moments the evening before the storm...maybe then, I can let most of this sadness go.

31 degrees showed on the porch thermometer; daily temps this week hadn’t topped freezing.

Dried out, bare stalks stood where her luscious tomatoes had hung only months before. The bean plants were unrecognizable, the beet patch showing only some remnants of leftover leaf parts. Involuntarily, she was drawn to the garlic. A few dead stems, some frozen cloves lay about. She wiped her tears as she recalled Babe’s favorite game: she’d roll around in the garlic plants, Kayley then scolded her, and a Siamese streak went for the barn. After her weeding, Kayley would call Babe and they'd meet a few minutes later, back on the porch swing. Babe’s sorrys were understood in her purr – always, the amazing purr. This game was one of their connections, their bonding rituals, their play together. Kayley struggled daily with the void that filled her now, peppered only with shadows of the old reality that had soothed her life, filled her hours, solidified the friendship so unique between humans and animals.

Instantly lost from her reverie, she froze in her position as she noticed the paw prints in the ground by her feet. Babe’s unmistakable 2 missing toes on her left hind foot made for positive identification. But…how could that be, Kayley struggled for a sense of logic, understanding, reality. I was here just yesterday – no prints then; everything was frozen; no moisture…

The prints continued, up towards the ridge. Kayley followed them as if led by an unknown, calm strength she did not understand, yet obeyed. Ten minutes passed before she reached and began to climb the small ridge which stood about 20 feet higher than the top of the old farmhouse below. She pulled herself to a level rock outcropping and stood still. Why am I here?

The cold, morning air was absolutely still. No bird calls, nothing moved. Tree limbs stood bare in their browns and grays, frozen in place in the stark, low rays of sunlight coming across the property. Kayley looked over her 50 acres with a deep, profound Love and belonging. Willed to her many years ago when her parents died, the upkeep filled her soul - her deep need for a connection to Nature, her yen for privacy. The work here was spiritual; there was no better word. But Nature - in all her strength and awesome beauty, sometimes took things from her, killed things, changed lives and left scars. For Kayley, this balance - a leveling of good and bad, high and low, positive and negative - made sense in a mystical, unexplainable, natural sense. She didn't understand Nature's purpose sometimes, but the mystery of this life fit her like a new prom dress and she held on to this dance she did each day, with every spark of her consciousness.

She sensed and felt her aging, of late; her mother seemed to appear more and more in her mirror, her grandmother's hands sometimes worked her crochet needles now instead of the tightly skinned fingers she used for years before. And even though the pain and anguish of life still caused her emotions to override her reason at times, a deeper understanding seeped in with the years. Some 'wisdom to know the difference between the things to change...and not...', showed more clarity these days. Slowly gaining this understanding of the circle of life, fed her the strength to cope, to rise above, to let Nature...take its course. NOT that she liked the downfalls – the ’winters’, any more than not. But her 60's...were a mixture that smelled of good wine, tasted like aged fruitcake, warmed like her grandmother's quilt.

Then there was the cry, only this time it was faint, almost imperceptible – but real; a tiny, kitten noise. Her ear followed the sound to the right, just inside a small opening in the rock. Kneeling down, Kayley looked inside. She stopped breathing at the sight of an emaciated Siamese Momma cat curled around 4 small kittens. Babe. There is no mistaking your purr – even in your present state.

Sunlight concentrated in the small opening in the rock and the temperature was warmer around the cats. Kayley picked up the one kitten that still moved. Oh Babe, she’s you, she thought as she quickly tucked the frail feline inside her coat. She reached over to pet Babe, getting ready to take her too, but the purr was gone. Babe was gone. Her beautiful Siamese friend, just laid there, curled around her three, still babies.  I have to get back to the house. Save the kitten; hurry!

Late that afternoon, the low rays of the setting sun filled the little farm house living room and surrounded the tiny kitten in Kayley’s lap. The heating pad had kept life burning inside the new-born feline during the critical hours of the long morning. Within a few hours, the kitten had revived enough to take a little milk. Kayley marveled that she had kept her old doll bottle all these years, a life saver for which she thanked the Creator today.

Kayley knew the kitten would most likely survive. 40 plus years of staff-time to numerous cats gave her confidence of her conviction. Yes, Baby would be just fine. Kayley also knew she would have to continue her fitful sleeping schedule for a few more weeks until Baby matured enough to handle longer periods without food.

I'll go to the ridge in the morning and bury Babe and her kittens. But for now, I'll walk through the garden one more time, a good-bye walk, I think. She bundled Baby, tucked her safely into a box by the fireplace and put on her coat. One last look at the paw prints, she thought.

Kayley spent over an hour in the garden; Babe’s paw prints were gone.


My original focus for this blog was a scientific one. My Geology background coupled with my fascination with Nature was to blend into something fairly academic, coupled with shades and shadows of life intertwined amongst the facts and theories. I ended up doing more blogging than research, a trend I endeavor to change.

Written words make marvelous toys. They take us to a different, separate world, away from the hustle and stress of life and daily reality. The car crashes, political battles, diseases and other dark parts of life seem so much more removed in a story, though in some ways, carry more impact. But whatever a story contains, it it foremost, completely and only...a story. Your imagination is the dealer; the cards remain benign.

When you have your brake pedal to the floor and your vehicle is sliding ever so quickly towards a turning truck - very few feet in front of you, (as I experienced yesterday), one reacts much more harshly and realistically than if this truck belongs to Clive Cussler's main character - who obviously needs to live through 203 more pages! Your imagination p l a y s with these words, the stress is make believe. When your story is finished, you take your imaginative toys, and go back to reality.

My brother really has a 'Babe Ridge' on his property, named of course, for his lost friend. But from there, I allowed my imagination to make its own soup, mixed with my sensing as I listened to his story and memories of Babe, last year.

The general overview of the story congealed almost immediately during our conversation. But when I sat down to actually write it a few weeks ago, I lost contact with my surroundings for awhile and the keys tapped out this slightly different version. When I read through the completed rough draft, I seemed to be walking in a strange land of ethereal shadows, threaded whispers and unknown realities.

From where does a story rise? How do the words find familiarity, juxtaposition and cohesion...if one is not in direct control? I understand the birth of the original meaning in this case, but I almost want to run from the thought that I, myself, created this. And not because of any ego-bound emotions of good or bad, etc. But from the unknowing, the separation of my consciousness from the final product. I look at the first, physical presentation of my imagination and meet it for the first time as a stranger..who is yet - part of me. Fear is not quite what causes my fight or flight urge from further writing of this nature, rather my sensing indicates something similar including distance, a loss of understanding, a strangeness with which my discomfort level is high. I am flooded with self-doubt; can I do this again if I don't know how I did it?

During the early part of the last century, Carl Jung, a respected Swiss Psychiatrist, coined the phrase, Collective Unconscious. Wikipedia explains; "Collective unconscious is a term of analytical psychology, coined by Carl Jung. It is proposed to be a part of the unconscious mind, expressed in humanity and all life forms with nervous systems, and describes how the structure of the psyche autonomously organizes experience. Jung distinguished the collective unconscious from the personal unconscious, in that the personal unconscious is a personal reservoir of experience unique to each individual, while the collective unconscious collects and organizes those personal experiences in a similar way with each member of a particular species".

Brilliant, educated minds such as Jung seem to trust this theory; maybe I can, as well. Maybe I had help with my story. did many other fiction writers.

With Jung's shadow on my shoulder, I will persevere to pull more fantasy and make believe from the belly of my imagination.

After all, Nature still prevails, even in the recesses of my imagination.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Political Trails: Let's Scare the Old People!

Please enjoy a more "mature" view on the never-ending scare tactics from Washington.

It seems the political "wolf" is yet again, chasing Social Security through the proverbial woods; will he finally stop Grandma's check from reaching her door?

This raises our stress levels; we're both retired with Social Security filling more than a third of our wallet.


Comments encouraged; let us know your thoughts and any further information you may have to enlighten this issue.

As always, Nature prevails.

Trails of Peace...

"May you have peace within, today.

* May you trust that you are exactly where you are meant to be.

* May you not forget the infinite possibilities that are born of faith in yourself and others.

* May you use the gifts that you have received, and pass on the love that has been given to you.

* May you be content with yourself just the way you are.

Let this knowledge settle into your bones, and allow your soul the freedom to sing, dance, praise and love. It is there for each and every one of us."

Author unknown

Received 4/22/2011


As always...Nature prevails.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Animal Trails; too funny!

I received this in e-mail. I do not know the author - this is NOT my writing. (wish it was). I would appreciate being able to credit the proper author; please contact me if you are the author - or can assist me in that direction; thank you. In the meantime - all you animal lovers...enjoy!

The following was found posted very low on a refrigerator door.

Dear Dogs and Cats: The dishes on the floor with the paw prints are yours and contain your food. The other dishes are mine and contain my food. Placing a paw print in the middle of my plate does not mean that is suddenly your food, nor do I find that aesthetically pleasing in the slightest.

The stairway was not designed by NASCAR and is not a racetrack. Racing me to the top of the stairs is not the object. Tripping me doesn't help because I fall faster than you can run.

I cannot buy anything bigger than a king sized bed. I am very sorry about this. Do not think I will continue sleeping on the couch to ensure your comfort. Dogs and cats can actually curl up in a ball when they sleep. It Is not necessary to sleep perpendicular to each other, stretched out to the fullest extent possible. I also know that sticking tails straight out and having tongues hanging out on the other end to maximize space that you are taking up, is nothing but sarcasm.

For the last time, there is no secret exit from the bathroom! If, by some miracle, I beat you there and manage to get the door shut, it is not necessary to claw, whine, meow, try to turn the knob or get your paw under the edge in an attempt to open the door. I must exit through the same door I entered. Also, I have been using the bathroom for years - canine/feline attendance is not required.

The proper order for kissing is: Kiss me first, then go smell the other dog or cat's butt. I cannot stress this enough.

Finally, in fairness, dear pets, I have posted the following message on the front door:

(1) They live don't.
(2) If you don't want their hair on your clothes, stay off the furniture.
That's why they call it “fur”-niture.
(3) I like my pets a lot better than I like most people.
(4) To you, they are animals. To me, they are adopted sons/daughters who are short, hairy, walk on all fours and don't speak clearly.

Remember, dogs and cats are better than kids because they:
(1) eat less,
(2) don't ask for money all the time,
(3) are easier to train,
(4) normally come when called,
(5) never ask to drive the car,
(6) don't hang out with drug-using people;
(7) don't smoke or drink,
(8) don't want to wear your clothes,
(9) don't have to buy the latest fashions,
(10) don't need a gazillion dollars for college and
(11) if they get pregnant, you can sell their children.....

AS always...Nature prevails - particularly on all fours.

GetStuffGone Trails; Hasty Acres

Monday is July 4th; we could be out careening around crazy boaters on John Martin Reservoir, stuffing our face with god-knows-what-ingredient-containing hot dogs, or even dodging traffic and law-enforcement on the hiways and biways. Instead, we thought we'd focus at home.

It's only a little half-acre here and the work will NEVER be done for us ole folks. Since our future goals to move closer to a large city must have total support from a GetStuffGONE effort, our mission ahead is to GetStuffGONE! Now that the local Bent County garbage-receptacle place charges for deposits, we are learning new lessons in creativity.

  • -The local monthly auction in Las Animas (last Sunday of the month/Cody Downare, auctioneer), though not always very lucrative - does keep your stuff after it sells; one way to GetStuffGONE!
  • -Our entertaining, local Lamar radio station, KLMR,, conducts a daily Swap-Shop show; you call in or e-mail your GetStuffGone items and they send it out over the airwaves. NO, unfortunately the stuff doesn't do the air-wave thingy (I WISH!), but the info flies around techno-land and sometimes, treasure-hunters call - even keep their promise to arrive, and if you are particularly fortunate that day, they leave with one or more GetStuffGONE item(s). Presto! The mission moves forward. After all, nothing in life is perfect, - just moments of perfection.

Our learning-curve with this new, creative approach to our concerted GetStuffGONE effort - is slow. But we're ole folks, after all; at least that's my story and I'm stickin' to it!

Next month...yard sales?

Hasty Days - a masterful, yearly event in our little town, occurs in September, complete with parade, plentiful meals, tractor pulls and a live-band-dancing event under the stars. We may be Hasty Days ready for a gar-jantic yard-sale along the parade route in two months...or not. Learning to part with stuff...takes time, right???

Do you have GetStuffGONE thoughts? Please share; daniellesimone (that's a zero after my name), or post your thoughts in a comment below. We're on a mission...

As always, Nature prevails.


Sunday, May 8, 2011

Memory Makers: Mother's Day Trail

We always receive the blessings we need - at the time we need them.

My friend phoned me a Mother's Day wish (I had forgotten the holiday), in one of her soft-spoken, Loving tones I so enjoy sharing. The conversation became philosophical - as it so often does with us; we spoke about 'Memory Moments'.

"As I've experienced life along the way, I find that I don't always realize I'm experiencing a 'Memory Moment' - until it's past.’That's the one', I realize down the road. So now I wonder at times, is this a "Memory Moment?"

I so hear her thoughts. I think maybe - if we wonder if any particular moment is a Memory Moment, it most likely is.

Memory Moments - make life bearable - even awesome at times. Think about it. When your child is 4 and asks; "Were you alive when the dinosaurs lived, Mom?"

And what about…-"Give Grandma the money!"

  • "Do they have gas stations in space, Mom?"
  • Watching my 6 week old chicks fly around their newly opened outdoor pen with unmitigated joy!
  • The day my foal took her first, few wobbly steps as her Mother nudged her flank with a worried brow.
  • Holding my husband's hand as he awoke from serious surgery, and smiled.
  • Watching the sun set through smoked filled clouds following a week long fire that came within a mile of my house.
  • That feeling in my bones as they handed me my new-born child.
  • The day the mold report came and stated our house was too moldy to inhabit.
  • "Will you marry me?"
  • "I Love you...anyway."
Last but not least..."Happy Mother's Day, Mom."

Count your Memory Moments; hoard them, dust them off regularly; they are food for your soul. Treasure them.

More importantly...propagate them freely. Life is short.

Especially on your...37th Mother's Day...

As always, Nature prevails.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

More Chicken Trails; we can fly!

In 5 weeks, these little guys have tripled in size, have grown most of their feathers and can fly 2 to 4 feet high. Their energy is catching and I find myself watching them for long periods of time, smiling and full of awe with these wondrous little critters.

My initial research suggested this as a Khaki Campbell duck, but now at 3 months, both of these matching ducks appear to be Roen females.

A white duck and its 3 siblings are from Pekin stock. A meat bird with little or no broodiness, their eggs usually need to be incubated to hatch little guys. The little Cornish chicken just had to get in on the shot!

This pretty Toulouse goose was in perfect pose; I couldn't resist. There are 2; one is smaller overall with a smaller head, so I'm hoping they are a pair. This breed makes great parents and they so enjoy eating all the grasshoppers and goat-head seeds they can find.

A Backyard Poultry article a few months ago explained how you can let your chickens do the hard work of turning your compost. By allowing them access to it, they'll scratch through it, accomplishing most of the turning while speeding up the ripening process.

The compost bed pictured above took only a couple hours of work today and some leftover, old lumber garnered from a generous contractor/construction site. Made mostly of 2 X 4s, I added 2 removable shelves on the two short sides. The chicken waterers will reside there so any spilled water will help keep moisture in the compost pile, as well as being a handy surface to rinse and refill these containers. Being off the ground will keep the water cleaner since chickens have a bad habit of scratching dirt into their water. I engineered this compost bed around an elm tree so it, too, will get plenty of water from the daily container changes.

Aside from racing a thunderstorm with tool pickup, our day was fun, productive and will help keep our chicken flock happy.

As always, Nature prevails.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Chicken Trails back on Track

Two day old poultry of geese, turkeys and chickens grace our lives - yet again. One of our local ranch stores got their yearly boarders of geese, turkeys, ducks and chickens. Cackle Hatchery had already mailed our chicken order so it was soooo easy to justify...JUST a few additions to the already large chicken family en route! Yesterday we brought home a couple turkeys and geese; today 2 ducks. Presto; the new Hasty Acres poultry flock is complete!

"EXCUSE ME, but you're hoggin' the water bowl"!

The larger poultry waterer at the other end of the sheep tank seems to be the playground for the geese and turkeys so we added a few small water bowls on this end, for the lit'ler guys. The water levels don't last long and the chicks do more swimming than drinking!

Most of these chicks are too small to easily reach into the chick feeder so we sprinkled a generous amount of feed on the paper towels. Most is wasted during the daily paper changes but the chicks seem to eat more this way. And even at 2 days old, a few of the chicks already know to scratch around in it besides the initial pecking instinct. Mother Nature gives these little guys a quick start!

We bought 5 different breeds of pullets and 3 different cockerels, with plans to bring together certain breeds that will propagate a combination of broad traits into the flock. We're hoping to combine productive layers, tasty meat as well as natural tendencies to set, to allow a natural growth of the flock.
  1. -White Leghorn pullets (female), white eggs, almost daily layers, but non-setters.
  2. -Americauna pullets, green, blue, pink and brown eggs, multi-colored birds that are good setters, tasty meat.
  3. -White Rock pullets, fast growers, good layers of brown eggs.
  4. -Light Brahma pullets, large birds, fairly good layers of brown eggs, good setters.
  5. -Dark Cornish pullets, excellent tasting meat birds, fair egg layers of brown eggs, good setters.
  6. -Americauna, Cornish and Rock Cockerels to hopefully support the tinted eggs, tasty meat, quicker growth and natural setting tendencies.
The turkeys, ducks and geese will also provide meat that does not contain medicines and pesticides. As an added benefit, the geese love to eat goat-head stickers which plague our yard; the entire flock will hopefully keep down the persistent hoards of grasshoppers that graze across our property and garden every year, eating everything in sight!

It seems more and more people are raising chickens. Articles are popping up in magazines; more cities are allowing poultry raising within city limits; poultry websites are growing and the building of chicken houses is growing into an art-form! And some inner city chicken stories are worth retelling...for a long time.

Thinking about a few hens and some home-grown, healthy eggs? Leave a comment, ask questions. We'd be glad to help - OR - send you somewhere for helpful answers.

Hasty Acres chicken tracks...are back! Weekly updates ahead.

Nature prevails.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Pawprints in the Sand

We lost a set of kitty paw prints in our sandbox today. Our Blazee lost her fight with renal failure.

I believe life begins a lot harder than it leaves; one second she was crying...the next, peace took her to wherever kitties go, who Love with all they're worth. There is a large void in our world - DH's world particularly; she was his shadow from her first whisper of a hiss as a day old lump of black, wiggly fur, fourteen years ago.

She took on the world like a miniature tigress with her first step, ran like the light and was a complete wild-cat to most, except her immediate family. With us, she could never get her fill of pets and chin rubs and ear scratches, nor did she ever stop giving her Love in the form of licks and burying her head in our bent elbows or rubbing our cheeks; her purr-box worked till the very end - even considering the pain and anguish she must have endured in her anemic, skin-and-bones state of being, over the past weeks.

Most of her life entailed free run of 7 acres and all the surrounding farm fields her little legs could handle. Kitty, my son's large orange tiger cat, was her only nemesis. I believe Kitty lived for the times he could corner Blazee up a tree. She'd scream like a tortured soul - which of course brought us to the rescue; we'd duly chastise Kitty, and the game was over...for a few days. Truth be told, I'm sure she could have taught Kitty more lessons than he ever dreamed he'd need in one lifetime. But that was their life, their game. And of course - as her good, loyal, devoted staff, we did our part.

Our struggle began about a month ago with blood work and a diagnosis of Renal Failure. We did the sub-cutaneous Lactated Ringers for a week, it helped a bit, but put her through more pain than it saved; one week was enough. We gave her a smorgasbord of soupy, kitty fare to keep her hydrated, but her overactive kidneys ran all liquids through her just as quickly as she swallowed.

We waited...and waited, giving her attention and saying our good-byes as the moments presented themselves. It is a weighty power, this control we hold over our pets life and death, a two-edged kill...or not to kill - under the auspices of humanity.

Today, it became obvious her kidneys were no longer doing their job and she was in pain. It was time. And our hearts bled.

A 5 foot tall, Russian Olive tree, now stands guard over her.

She will be missed...forever. God-speed, dear Blazee.

Good or bad, large or small, animal or mineral...Nature prevails.