It’s ladybug season. They’re everywhere around the house, on screen, windows, etc. Trying to get in, one supposes. Yep, says Dr. Google. “Known as cluster-hibernators, ladybugs swarm because they’re looking for a warm place to hibernate for winter. When one of them finds a suitable place to spend the winter, it releases a pheromone that attracts a couple gazillion more of them.” And why are they called ladybugs? “In the middle ages, farmers prayed to the Virgin Mary to save their crops. Soon Ladybugs came, ate the plant-destroying pests and saved the crops! The farmers began calling the ladybugs “The Beetles of Our Lady”, and they eventually became known as “Lady Beetles”! The red wings represented the Virgin’s cloak and the black spots represented her joys and sorrows.”

Your factoids of the day. Where did the children’s refrain”fly away home” come from. That will be the discussion of another time. Meanwhile:

Here are the Old Ones. They are at least 5 hundred years old, the rings tells us, and are fragments of the Homestead Oak felled when we first planned to build a house in the shelter of this tree. We wanted them set up as a sort of Stonehenge entrance to the path through the forest, but their power is undeniable and they deserve their own, not appropriated, name.


I’m a little more woo-woo about them than is Larry, but it’s hard to consider them without, at least, respect. And the path is beautiful under our present blue skies and brilliant fall colors. By the way, the oaks are not brilliant. For brilliance we look to the ash and maple among us.

“Jane! Put on your shoes and come out here! I need you!”

Okay, I’m on it, but which shoes? “Do I need my boots?”

“I don’t care! Just come! Henrietta’s out and I can’t catch her!”

Tempted to laugh, I look out and there she is, lovely and elegant on the newly green grass. I grab a cup of dried corn (chicken candy) and head out to the rescue. While Edith and Sally come running when they see me, Henrietta is more aloof. She is French. Larry makes a couple of attempts to grab her while I shake the corn at her. No, thank you, she says politely, and easily evades Larry’s reach. Of course, we do eventually herd her back and into the coop, but this could be a problem. How the heck did she get out? It’s not very chicken-like to go burrowing under the fence, we think. I’ve seen this girl fly and OMG! She Flew The Coop! That’s where the expression must come from, right? But did she do it knowingly? Will she try it again? Time alone will tell.

Way back at the beginning of this adventure, I said that I would like a particular downed oak to remain as bird/critter habitat, and so it has. Never mind that the rancher and conservation people hid their amusement at my naivete, while the thing reached up it’s black arms in, as I think of it, a rather Halloween-ish gesture. It punctuated the driveway as it winds up the hill and even became known as the Habitat Tree. Of course, it’s been a wonderful habitat for the invasive blackberry, the wretched thistle, for all I know, hornets and wasps and snakes. Sure, birds probably liked it too, but for heaven’s sake, we have enough upright trees on the place for them. Time to lose the sentimentality! Away with it! Larry and I spent yesterday and this morning at work on the thing. He saws, I collect and pile the chunks onto the ATV, which we drive to one of the burn piles about the place. It’s pleasing to be at work on an unvisited bit of the property, and to see the morning sun from a new vantage. Makes me feel, again, amazed and lucky to be here. But we couldn’t finish it, and the rains will soon come. Next year!

Now I have to tell you a story about the title of this chapter. Someone told us that we must watch a wonderful documentary called Chicken People. It’s insane. You’ve heard of the Westminster Dog Show? Can you imagine it translated to chicken? People buffing their bird’s toenails. Fluffing their feathers with a hair dryer? The anxiety as the judges grade the little darlings? The absolutely weird and yeah, creepy, hybrid, long legged, scrawny, ugly things that have been bred for this show? Don’t go there. We are not Chicken People.


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