Backyard Opossum, Oh No!

Tonight I got quite a fright when I went to check on my backyard flock of hens. There he was looking at me with his eyes flashing back like highway reflectors—a opossum! He just stood there frozen still with his mouth open. That saying, “playing possum,” is true. He didn’t even flinch when we moved suddenly in his close proximity.

Playin’ Possum is an involuntary response, like fainting. What would happen if you had both fainting goats and opossums?


I saw this devil-animal incarnate a week ago when I heard his scratchy paws on the tree bark, thinking it sounded strange for a neighborhood cat. (we have tons of alley cats around us). When I located the critter he was high in the backyard tree.

The opossum is often misspelled as “possum,” and is so common, that it’s an accepted way to spell it. Opossums are marsupials, not rodents. Like kangaroos, opossums give birth to offspring early in the gestation cycle. The baby opossum crawls into the mother’s pouch, attaches to a teat and nurses through the last stages of its gestation.

As for our backyard opossum, as soon as he had a chance, he ambled along and climbed the tree. I’m sure he’ll be back, so we’ll have to set a trap soon, because opossums and chickens are not simpatico.

Up, up, up into the tree he goes.



Cooking with Kids: Apple Love Pie & Garlic Toast

When I was a girl I wanted an Easy Bake Oven so badly. My mother just said, “here, you can cook with a real oven.” And then she helped me make cookies. That began my love of baking and it lit my sweet tooth on fire. So when my son wanted an Easy Bake Oven, I guided him to cook for real.

We cook a lot in our household. And it’s natural that our son wants to cook too. I’ve always included him when he was interested, letting him peel carrots, helping him make “stew,” and just letting him create “concoctions” with our amply stocked spice cabinet. I’ve even used a box cake (dare I say it out loud) so that he can say he did it all by himself.

Today he really wanted to cook and create. He announced his after school snack should be garlic toast. So we made garlic toast.


He wanted to cook more, and I had several apples that needed to be used. He wanted to make a pie, but halfway through, he said he wanted to make cut-out cookies.

We came up with the best of both worlds by making a pastry top with cut-out heart shapes. We called it our Apple Love Pie. (Complete with the pie bird.)

Apple Love Pie


Backyard Chickens

Just a few photos from my backyard flock. I have a post series planned about how I went-and-lost-my-mind, and now-I-have-chickens.


Edna – soon to be the roo who goes to live with Nanny.


Buddy—the chicken who clucks a lot and sounds like a Kung Fu fighter.


One of the greatest photo bombs ever! Way to go, Sapphire. (And yes, that is my patio furniture doubling as a roost.)

Experiment: Propagating Roses

I am experimenting with rose propagation. I don’t really know what I’m doing, but I have read about it and gotten advice from my rose-expert friend, who has successfully propagated roses clipped from bar ditches and yards with a caved-in houses.

According to the internet and my friend, a stem that is about the diameter of a #2 pencil with multiple nodes is ideal. It’s recommended to use a seed starter mix, perlite or vermiculite as the medium and rooting hormone.

These roses came from the flowers at my grandmother’s funeral. They were beautiful and smelled amazing, so I figured I’d give it a go and see what happens. I can’t identify these roses (although they are technically not roses, but rather floribundas,) and I don’t know if they are GMO freaks or their growing history. I’m sure they were bombed with all kinds of chemicals and preservatives.

1. Since it’s off season, I got what they had at the hardware store, putting the starter mix into a tub and watering thoroughly. Water, stir, water, wait, water, stir.

2. Once the starter mix is sufficiently moist, I packed it into a couple pots.

3. Made planting holes several inches deep with my handy chopstick.

4. Clipped the roses down to use just the stems with multiple nodes.

5. Dipped the stems into water, then into the rooting hormone so it would stick, and placed each stem into the holes.

6. Covered with plastic sacks to create a mini greenhouse. I left the pots on the ground in the greenhouse in a partially sunny spot.

Now we wait and hope.

The last time I tried this it didn’t work, but it was July, in Texas, during a drought, and we left for vacation, etc. A north Texas November and a commercially grown floribunda may not work either, but I figure it’s worth a try.

Homesteaders of Alaska


Alaska:The Last Frontier is a reality TV show about homesteaders and their lives in rural Alaska.

Many of their activities are similar to the ones I’m familiar with working on a cattle ranch. However, calamity seems to follow these homesteaders everywhere.

I was watching tonight as they started building a fence, thinking this is not going to go well. They narrowly avoided breaking the quarter-mile wire strand. Then they began herding cattle to move them to a new pasture. According to their narrative, they’ve had cattle for generations, but they don’t demonstrate it. There is one behavior you can count on with cattle, since they are heard animals, they will always follow the crowd.

But it is interesting to see that each family member owns an area of expertise–fishing, keeping bees, smoking salmon, growing vegetables, composting, welding, hunting, butchering, etc.

They eat what they grow and kill. They work hard. They know where their food comes from. They know how many hours of labor it took to put the turkey or bear pie on the table. They are thankful and mindful of the life that was sacrificed for their dinner.

Watching these Alaskans is inspiring, entertaining and even comical sometimes.

A Life Well Lived

We buried my grandmother today. She lived a wonderful, long and prosperous life. She was the last of my grandparents and now they are all gone, but vividly living in our hearts and our memories.

She was here today and gone the next. I am so sad, but relieved that she didn’t linger or suffer.

She was making banana bread the day she died. There is dignity in dying that way. She was still making plans—still living. We should all be so blessed to live and die with such grace.

Her life was not always easy, she struggled and was tested in her 84 years. But she never broke character, always remaining faithful and certainly was an example of a life well lived.

Love to you, Maw Maw

Precious Time

Time is truly a precious commodity. It’s here, then it’s gone. Most of our regrets in life revolve around spending time differently or about what we didn’t do.

Today I regret that I don’t have more time with my grandmother and that I didn’t do more with her.

She is gone now and with her goes her stores of different days, the stories of her family—of my family—what she did as a kid, and about the changes in the world that happened in her 84 years.

What I don’t regret is the time I did spend with her and the things I did do with her. It was time well spent.