December 8, 2011, 30 degrees, fog beginning to lift, and it’s calm. Spider threads, silken frosted strands, hang from lichen-crusted white oak branches, and Western scrub -jay fluffs in the pale winter sun. –Mule Springs Birding Journal
New Arrivals: Outbuildings Bountiful
Workers hustle to get the buildings around the barn completed before the weather turns and the holidays arrive. This Friday will be our workers’ last day until the Christmas season is over.
By now The Dalles should have experienced wind, rain, and snow, but fall has extended its normal reach. Though we’ve had some fog and hoarfrost our days are rain-free. Neighbors seem a little less pleased than I am about winter’s late arrival. Those that cultivate vineyards and orchards say it has been “too dry.”
The fair weather has allowed the builders to finish the pigeon loft, chicken coop, wood shed, and an outhouse.
The pigeon loft and chicken coop are in a building divided from each other by a wall. The chicken coop will not be done inside until the spring, but the pigeon loft, and the aviary is bird-ready.
Keeping in step with our progress- packed style, I made sure birds arrived the day the loft was ready.
On Monday four aerial performance pigeons, known as oriental rollers, were carefully placed into a special air travel box, and shipped overnight from Grand Rapids, Michigan to The Dalles. Oriental Rollers have a distinct flying style: they “show a variety of different figures in the air” “single. . . [and] double summersaults, rolling. . . . , rotation with open wings,” free fall glides, and “nose dives.” These birds are terrific fun to watch as they perform in the air. Plus their lively personalities and color varieties make them a pleasure to raise and work with around the loft.
Though not as exciting, but certainly useful, the woodshed provides shelter for rows of stacked wood, and the wood will fuel a small stove in the tack room and another small stove in the sleeping loft inside the barn. Most of the woodshed is made from the old farmhouse floor and other materials lying around the barnyard.
Since the new house is not built yet, we will need an outside privy. The outhouse is connected to the woodshed, and the compartment is well insulated, has a great view of the lower pastures, and will have a comfortable, though unheated, toilet seat. Still, I’m not sure everyone in my family will use it. My mother grew up in rural West Virginia where outhouses were fairly common. She left the country, in part, so that she and her kids could have modern conveniences, so as you might imagine she wasn’t overjoyed when I told her our new farm was going to have an outhouse.
Author’s Note: I haven’t been able to keep up with weekly postings recently, because of all the added activities and duties associated with the holiday season. I may post short pieces during the next few weeks, but plan on getting back on track after the holidays are over. Wishing everyone a happy holiday season and a Happy New Year.
What would you like for Christmas? If you could give a gift to the world this season what would it be? Describe a traditional holiday meal you share with your family.
Our traditional meal: roasted prime rib of beef, garlic mashed potatoes, mushroom gravy, green vegetable, salad, and Margaret Atwood’s lemon custard cake for dessert.