Miss Beatrix Potter Hen

Miss Beatrix Potter Hen
Miss Bea posing for Mama!

Saturday, November 14, 2015

The Life of a True Christian in the Face of Struggle

"If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new."- 2 Corinthians 5:17

Amen and amen!

According to twentieth century evangelist, Oswald Chambers,"Character in a saint means the disposition of Jesus Christ persistently manifested." Everyday life is difficult to say the very least. How can we persistently manifest Jesus Christ when every single day we come in contact with people and situations that continually cause us frustration-when family and friends disappoint us, when people continually cut us off in traffic, when the "difficult to love" people in our lives push our buttons, when the children are whining and the dog vomits all over the new family room carpet, when the budget just doesn't quite stretch as far as needed, when the mountain of dirty laundry seems unconquerable  and when our patience is running so thin that it's as faded, flimsy and raggedy as your favorite old T-shirt that's clearly seen better days, but you desperately struggle to hang on to it.

We don't! But, what we do do, is try our utmost for Him. We equip ourselves as "new creations" with the armor we need to persevere and push on in all circumstances. No, it's not easy. It's downright difficult and may seem impossible at times. It is NOT impossible, though!With the right mindset and the "perfect gifts from above" we can persevere through anything that life throws at us. When life literally stinks, I've found that prayer works. Immersing myself in Jesus's promises reassures. Lifting my voice up in song and worshipping my creator God, refreshes and renews my spirit.

Will my spirit dip low tomorrow? Perhaps. Will I struggle with the ordinary frustrations of life? Definitely! I may even be hit with extraordinarily difficult and stressful periods and face tragedy in my own life or in the lives of family and friends. Just because we are Christian believers and made new in Him, we are not immune to the struggles of life here on earth. We are just much better equipped to deal with them.

In light of the brutal and tragic attacks on the beautiful La Ville Lumieres or City of Lights, I pray that you find comfort in prayer and the promise that God is with you every moment of every day.

My thoughts and prayers are with those in and around the beautiful city of Paris.

"Fear not for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.:- Isaiah 41:10

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Egg-sclusive Interview with Lisa Steele of Fresh Eggs Daily!

As part of the Writer's Digest October Platform Challenge, participants were asked to contact an expert for an interview. I immediately thought of fellow chicken keeper, blogger and book author, Lisa Steele from Fresh Eggs Daily fame. Lisa was kind enough to share her thoughts on chicken keeping, putting that passion into words, and how to put them together to create Fresh Eggs Daily-the Facebook Page, the Blog, and the Book. Thank you, Lisa!

Here's what Lisa has to say about the clucky, wonderful world of chicken keeping.

On Chicken Keeping

Do you have a most memorable moment as a chicken keeper?

I didn't have the nerve to try hatching our own chicks until we had been raising chickens for several years. But once I finally did, that moment when the first chick broke through the shell and I realized that I had helped to create a new life was really game-changing for me. I've since raised several batches of both chicks and ducklings and that feeling never goes away. It's just so miraculous that in just 21 days an egg goes from being 'just an egg' to being a living, breathing chick is amazing. And then to think that just 20 weeks later or so, that chick will start laying eggs of her own. Mind-blowing!

What’s your funniest chicken story?

My husband's car got side swiped in a parking lot a few years ago and the insurance adjuster came out to our house to do an estimate of the damages. We were standing around in the driveway and he was taking quite awhile with the paperwork, so I told him I would be right back,, and went down to collect eggs. I came back with a basket of eggs and asked him if he would like some. He looked in the basket and said, "So the chickens lay them and you just go get them and bring them back to the house and eat them? Just like that?" So I said, "Well, we usually cook them first, but yes, that's pretty much how it works!" He seemed amazed that they didn't need to be inspected or processed or something I guess.

How do your chickens feel about their celebrity status on the Fresh Eggs Daily blog? And, in your book?

You know, at this point my chickens have been photographed and posed and filmed and carried around so much, they really don't blink an eye at any of it. They have figured out that anytime strangers arrive with film equipment, that means extra treats for them! And they're all about that. I have a few favorite hens (Violet our Lavender Orpington, Annie our Australorp and Charlotte our Australorp) who I know I can grab and sit and do an interview with while I'm holding them and they'll sit for ten minutes or an hour without making a peep.

I'm working on a third book now and my editor was talking about using 'stock chickens' and I cautioned him that my readers and fans know my chickens by name and won't really take too kindly to a book with chickens they don't recognize in it! So while my chickens don't consider themselves celebrities, they certainly are in the eyes of those who follow their daily adventures!

Do you have a very vocal chicken or “spokes chicken” that has a thing or two to cluck about her experience being one of the Fresh Eggs Daily flock?

I don't have a clear alpha hen. My oldest chicken, Charlotte, is an Australorp (a notoriously docile breed), so while she enjoys a bit of respect just for her age, I'm not sure she's really the alpha hen. They all seem to get along very well – although all the Marans I've had are stand-offish and all the Ameraucanas I've had are mean and love to peck the others, especially at bedtime. But as for one spokesperson, I would say that would be Violet. She's a gorgeous Lavender Orpington. She always catches the attention of anyone who comes to visit our flock – and she is more than happy to get a little air time or be my model for the day. She's not too chatty, but she loves being the center of attention.

Can you share your “FIRST EGG” story?
Funny story. My husband and I were patiently awaiting our first egg from our very first flock of 6 chickens back in 2009. Then one morning, finally, there was an egg in the nesting box! I was so excited, I might have squealed, and I ran to the house to call my husband at work (he was in the Navy stationed at the Norfolk Navy Base back then). He picked up the phone and I blurted out "Orange Chicken just laid her first egg!" There was completely silence for a minute and then my husband said, 'Um, I have people in my office and you're on speaker phone, can I call you back?" Apparently he was in a meeting and waiting for someone to call in to conference them in – and thought that's who it was when I called. He said it took him a VERY long time to live that one down!

Read about how Lisa Steele put her passion to work for her.

On Blogging and Writing

Do you have any writing experience prior to the Fresh Eggs Daily blog? If so, can you describe that background?

I had chicken keeping experience but no writing experience. In fact, I used to work on Wall Street, if you can believe that. I think I might have taken one Creative Writing class back in college,eons ago. But I've always been really creative and loved to write and draw and paint and build things,so this'career' is much more suited to me.

What prompted you to start a chicken keeping blog?

I had started my Facebook page about a year before I started the blog. We had gotten our first chickens and I was posting photos of them on my personal Facebook page – and finally my friends started saying, "We're unfriending you if you post one more picture of a chicken!", so I picked a name out of the air (Fresh Eggs Daily) and started a chicken-centric Facebook page where I could share my chicken photos with people who would appreciate them.

People started following and asking questions, and I soon realized that I was answering the same questions over and over day after day. The problem with Facebook is that once something moves off the first page, it's virtually impossible to find, so a blog just seemed a much more organized, efficient way to archive some of the answers to the questions I got asked all the time. I figured I would write up maybe 20 or 25 posts on the common topics and be done with it and then just be able to direct readers to the links when they asked questions. Well, nearly five years, more than 600 posts later, I still have more topics I want to tackle!

What role did your chickens play in that decision?

Obviously the chickens played the starring role in the decision to start both my Facebook page and my blog. I grew up across the street from my grandparents' chicken farm and raised chickens as a kid, so I guess this really is my destiny.

How did you attract followers? Sponsors?

At the time I started my Facebook page and blog, backyard chicken keeping was just beginning to take off. It's a booming niche right now and many more pages and blogs have been popping up year after year. I think I had a distinct advantage though starting when I did because there really weren't many of
us doing it at that time – and the fact that I focused on natural methods, and talked all about old-timers methods and old wives tales really resonated with so many people who were raising chickens in part to know what they were eating and ensure they were feeding their families the healthiest food they can, so alternatives to conventional medications and antibiotics really spoke to my readers.

My blog quickly became one of the most well-read sites focusing on backyard chickens and my readership just continued to grow, as did my Facebook following. My Facebook page has nearly 600,000 likes right now and is THE largest chicken keeping page by a long shot. Sponsors quickly started to notice my following. I did have to pound the pavement at first of course, reaching out to companies and trying to convince them to work with me, but now my reputation and popularity has made it so that usually I am sought out by the companies.

From the beginning, I have been very picky about the companies I work with, I only recommend good-quality products – most of which I personally use myself – and my readers have come to trust what I use and recommend. And companies realize that. It's a win-win because I certainly couldn't afford to sit at home and post cute chicken photos on Facebook all day! I need to earn a living, like most of us do, and I am very fortunate to be able to do it from my kitchen table, doing something I really enjoy and am passionate about.

Can you please describe the transition process from blog to book? Was is easy? Difficult? Do you have any helpful advice for that process?

My first book, in many ways, is a compilation of my blog posts, but of course even though the information is the same, a book reads one way and a blog reads another, so the rewriting process took month and months. I had a wonderful editor and because of her tutelage, I have become a better writing in general as a result of writing my books. My second book on ducks was a lot more original content since I really haven't written much about ducks on my blog, but I find the process of writing to be extremely challenging, rewarding and almost therapeutic, so I enjoyed that process just as much.
One downside to 'rewriting' your blog into a book format (and I find that foodie bloggers who write cookbooks face this as well), is that fans might feel cheated if they follow your blog religiously, then buy your book and don't find much fresh, original content. Others feel that there's no need to buy the book if they can access all or most of the content online. But I still believe in real, honest-to-goodness paper books. I actually refer to my own books on occasion! I just find the format far easier to reference things than searching on google or on a blog.

What is your best advice for putting your passion(s) into a book?

I truly believe that you have to be passionate about what you are writing about. If not, it will show through in your writing. You don't have to be a perfect writer, you don't need formal training in journalism or English, you just have to have a way of telling a story or relaying your knowledge to others in a way that engages them and makes them want to read more.

Was it easier the second time around when writing Duck Eggs Daily?

In some ways, writing my duck book was easier. Since it was with the same publisher as my first book, I knew the 'drill' - the timelines, deadlines, formats they wanted etc. But in other ways, it was more difficult because I felt that there was pressure on me to surpass my first book and do an even better job. After all, I wasn't a rookie any longer! My first book has sold exceedingly well - #1 in Bird Care on Amazon for much of the time since its release – reaching a sale rank of #625 (out of more than 8 million books sold on Amazon) at one point – so I had set the bar high for myself!

Are you pleased with the reception your books have received? Reviews?

Both books have done very well, I can't complain. They have held the #1 and #2 spots in the Bird Care category on Amazon at times, which is pretty remarkable. I actually find that 'selling' my books to my Facebook fans and blog readers has been a bit of a challenge, since as I mentioned earlier, they are happy with all the free information they can find on my blog. To combat that, and reach a wider audience, I have been fortunate enough to have been asked to speak and sign books at the Country Living and Mother Earth News magazine fairs which has been to standing room only crowds to my sheer amazement! And when I arrived at the bookstore to sign books at the Mother Earth News fair, I was told they had already sold out! Before I could even sign a single copy!

It has been pretty humbling to stand up and speak to rooms full of chicken keepers, many who have been raising chickens far longer than I have, and have them sit and nod and agree with my advice and then come up afterwards to tell me how much they enjoyed my talk.

The one downside to all of this has been dealing with a few really nasty people who purposely leave hateful reviews or comments about me or my books purely to try and discredit me. I try not to get discouraged though – as my husband has said time and time again, "Who cares if a handful of people don't like you? Many tens of thousands more do!"

I actually got some very good advice several years ago from P. Allen Smith. He said, you aren't successful until you have some haters. People don't bother hating those on the bottom. So I try and just let it all roll off my back and keep doing what I do best.

Do you have any parting advice on writing in general? 

If you enjoy writing, then write. Write Facebook posts, write in a journal, write a blog. If you want to write a book, check several publishers websites for the submission guidelines and submit a proposal. You should focus on publishers who specialize in the type of books similar to what you're thinking about writing. (Search Amazon or your local bookstore to get some leads on publishers)
And above all, don't give up. I was turned down by three publishers before my book became a reality. I kept pushing and I'm glad that I did. Writing my books has opened doors that I would have never imagined. I've appeared on television, I made a nice living as a freelance writing, and I am able to sit at home at my kitchen table, doing what I love – and hopefully making the lives of backyard chickens better,one flock at a time.

And, there you have it friends-Lisa's advice in an egg-shell! You can learn more about the wonderful world of chicken keeping by visiting Lisa's blog:ww.fresheggsdaily.com

Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts and advice with me, Lisa. I wish you continued success as an author and am looking forward to seeing what the future holds for you. Cluck, cluck, cluck!

All photos courtesy of Lisa from Fresh Eggs Daily.

Monday, November 2, 2015

6 FUN Creative Writing Activities for Homeschoolers!

Writing doesn't have to be so serious all the time. Let your children explore the lighter side and give them complete freedom to simply create. When children have to follow a rigid model, it can be quite intimidating. They feel pressured. They don't know what to write. They stare at a blank page. Sound familiar?

So,transform your ordinary writing program into an extraordinary one! Add some F U N writing activities to your writing program. Be creative! Creativity inspires and motivates.

Create the Ultimate Bedroom or Treehouse
Do your children feel like the grass is greener in a friend's bedroom? Hmmm, if keeping up with the Jones's kids is keeping your kids up in your face, then challenge them. Kids just love a good challenge. This activity even adds a bit of an artistic flair for the dramatic. Give your wishful thinking kiddos some graph paper and some colored pencils and let them create their ultimate bedroom or even a tree house built for a king.

The sky is really the limit on this ultimate challenge. The point is to have FUN! Once they've created their masterpiece, have them describe it in words. Supply them with a list of ultimate-like words such as enormous, glittery, mobile, bright, cool, cozy, organized, contemporary, expressive, roomy, avant garde, etc.

Sports Commentary

This is the go to activity for all sports fanatics! Don't fumble the ball in your writing program. Get kickin' and score with this sports themed writing workout. Do you have a sports fanatic in your homeschool? Then play into their interest with this on the go writing assignment!

Let your budding sports announcers write up a play by play account of the BIG game! Or, let them focus on a single play-the play that won the championship!

A Day in the Life

Biographies give us great insight into famous people from the past and present. Reading books written in diary form can help students to feel as if they're reading letters from a best friend. Help them to imagine what life was like for folks like Laura Ingalls Wilder, Daniel Boone, President Abraham Lincoln, or Harriet Tubman. The possibilities are endless-let their interests lead them toward choosing someone they admire.

Back to the Future, Again

With all the Back to the Future hype recently, it's only natural that the future is on your mind. So, what lies ahead in the distant future? Are we destined to dwell tall and zip around in bubble shaped cars like in the Jetsons? Will robots become part of the family and nonchalantly glide around our houses acting as our personal assistants? Let your students soar into space with their take on what life will be like in the future.

Bananagrams, Scrabble, 

Go solo! Piece together a story as you create word after word on the Scrabble board or in Bananagrams. Let your imagination run wild and think CrAzY as you create your plot. Or, better yet, have siblings play the word games together and then collaborate on the story. Writers could take turns adding a line. Who knows where the story will end up!

Alternate Ending and Deleted Scenes

What are your students' favorite picture books? Do they prefer the classics like Treasure Island, Huckleberry Finn or The Count of Monte Christo? Or, do they leap toward more contemporary characters such as the delightful Frog and Toad series? Whatever their tastes, there's a story just waiting to play twister. Have your young scholars add a twist to a childhood favorite by creating an alternate ending or writing an entirely new scene.

These activities are great because they're creative, different and exciting. They're overflowing with freedom-your children have the chance to really gear the assignment toward their interests and passions. So, put a little dazzle back into your writing program and watch your students jump right in.

Happy writing!!

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

6 EGG-cellent Writing Tips from My Egg-straordinary Hens

The world if chock full of suprises! Simply look around you and you'll discover great things. As a backyard chicken keeper, I spend a great deal of time simply observing my fine feathered friends. As a country dweller, I must be on the lookout for signs of predators, and therefore, always supervise their free range time. Talk about surprises! Although I did a great deal of research prior to cradling my very first flock of day old chicks in my hands, hands-on learning is priceless. I could literally fill a half dozen books with what I've learned about chickens. However, they've taught me far more about life itself. So, imagine my surprise, when I overheard some very clucky insights...on writing?
Miss Felicity, my Speckled Sussex

1. A Simple Routine Reaps Great Rewards

    Chickens thrive on routine. They're not much for change. Kudos, to you-dos, my happy
    hens, because a simple routine will take you far in life. Routines provide guidance and
    help to keep you on track. You all know only too well, just how easy it is to go off on a
    social media tangent and leave America's next great novel or award winning blog to
    gather dust on your desk.
     If you're more of a flap-happy free spirit, your routine needn't be written in stone.
     It's always a good rule of thumb to allow some flexibility, just in case. After all,
     NO chicken worth its cluck would resist a nice juicy worm just because it wasn't
     on the schedule.  

2. The Power of Perseverance

     The humble worm doesn't stand a chance once spotted by the keenly sighted
     chicken. The dynamic duo of a chicken's egg-cellent eyesight and perfectly
     chiseled beak are winners every time. Flying insects, on the other wing, are more
     of a challenge. Watching my gals leap and flap while in pursuit of a flying, flitting,
     buzzing snack is great fun. Chickens aren't naturally good flyers. They're clumsy.
     But, what they lack in style and grace, they more than make up for in perseverance.
     They keep their eyes on prize and do...not...give...up! Enough said, yes?

3. The Importance of a Flock of Support

   " It's friendship, friendship, Just a perfect blendship..." Cole Porter certainly knew
    the value of  friendship. Having the unwavering support of friends is so important in
    life. Chicken flocks are the epitome of a support group! Flocks that forage together,
    stay together. It's just that simple.
    Writers need that same unwavering support. Having like-minded writers in your
    dog-eared book corner is the greatest gift-they wholeheartedly understand the
    plot twists of a writer's life.

4. Fuel for Thought

    In the wild, chickens eat from the land-pecking up a multitude of all natural nutrients
    in the form of bugs, grains, berries, and grasses is the best form of preventative
    health-care ever. Now, while a good balanced diet is necessary for the brain to
    function well, let's talk a little bit about another type of fuel. A good writer should
    always be reading, reading, reading-reading the classics, reading how-to articles to
    improve your craft, reading colleagues works, etc.

5. Promote Yourself

    Writers have to don a LOT of different hats to be successful. You have to write,
    research, edit, seek out markets for your awesome works, and you need to promote
    yourselves. Chickens are the most egg-straordinary egg-ample of self-promotion on
    the planet. Why, one simple "egg song" can literally be heard from miles away. Talk
    about promotion! Now, don't be shy! Take a cluck or two from the humble laying hen
    and sing your praises by posting links to your works, awards, and accomplishments
    on social media platforms!

6. Always Put Your Best Beak Forward

    Chickens are meticulous cleaning machines, continually flip-flopping in their dusty
    baths, flapping off all the dust and debris, and then preening to fine tune the
    process, so to speak. The end result is a beautiful, soft and fluffy, clean chicken.
    Just perfect!

    For writers, this means editing, editing, editing. Even though you may need to edit
    until the cows come home, the time you put into crafting your "just right" piece will
    be sooo worthwhile in the end.  Always, always, always submit your BEST work!

Now, while these six simple tips may seem like common sense; sometimes, we all need a
gentle reminder to stir things up a little. So, I encourage all you wordsmiths to always be
on the lookout for teachable moments. They tend to pop up when you least egg-spect it,
and may come from the most unlikely source...Cluck, cluck, cluck! Cheers!

Monday, October 19, 2015

Autumn Haiku

A chill in the air
Crunchy leaves scattered about
Autumn is knocking

Autumn breezes in
Painting trees with bold brush strokes-
Bursts of color shout

Pretty White Birch Tree
Dressed in yellow for the fall
Sways to the music

Streams continue still
Flowing, running, racing time
Until winter's wrath

Foraging nearby,
Rhode Island Reds complement
The tree's party dress.

Daylight wanes each day
Starlight boasts of longer hours
Meteors zip, zip

Autumn rain drenches
Fallen leaves lie soaked and flat-
Slippery as ice

Nuts drop,drop and bounce
Great prizes for passing squirrels
Watch out, drop, drop, drop!

Sweet Corn harvested
Cornstalks drying, fading fast-
Brittle in the breeze.

Bright orange pumpkins
Growing, thriving on their vines
Shining in the sun

Blustery days shout
Trees discard their leafy cloaks
Shivering trees cry

The sun sets early
Sleeping so soundly and long
Dreams of early spring

The grass wears glitter-
Silvery, frozen, shining
Crunches underfoot

Juncos just appear
Heralds of  a season's end
Snowbirds chitting...snow!

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Make it a Magnetic Monday!

Ah, Monday morning...can't trust that day!

Don't sing the blues just because it's Monday. Drown out those Monday Monday blues with a new melody. Put on your favorite song, turn up the volume and turn down any invitation to sing the blues. Make it a magnetic Monday!

If you don't have any projects that warrant immediate attention or dastardly deadlines looming, change direction and mold your otherwise hum drum Monday into a productive and magnetic networking day. Or, even if you do have something due, start your day out with a positive twist-spend a power hour marketing, meeting new writers, making connections, and making a difference in your Monday mood.

Ready, set, go...

A great place to start making new connections is to pop on over to the Writer's Digest October Platform Challenge where Robert Lee Brewer has compiled a CrAzY huge list of writer's blogs.

Reach out to fellow writers-read a few posts or a dozen, then leave a companionable comment, and invite them to visit your blog by including a link to a post you think they might like. Perhaps you share more in common than a way with words. Take a moment to really introduce yourself and share a tid bit about what it is you have in common with them. Making lasting lifelong connections can begin with a single word-Hello.

I've taken this challenge and ran with it like a GIANT run on sentence. I've reached out to more than twenty new writers and what I got in return is priceless...friendship. Thank you fellow wordsmiths!

Another great place to make connections is to join an online writer's group. Facebook is overflowing with "just the write places" to find comaraderie. The Write Life offers this fine list of  FB writer's groups-there's sure to be one to fit your writing style.

Mondays will take on a whole new mood when you reach out and make it a magnetic Monday!

So, I challenge you, fellow writers: go, seek, comment, and invite.

Maine-ly France-Places I Want to Live!

Hello and Salut mes amis!

Ahh, the beauty of travel-journeys that revitalize, mesmerize and captivate our senses-is one of the great joys in life.

Two such places find their place deep within my heart-Maine and France. Maine is a place I've traveled to several times and it simply takes my breath away. It's such a beautiful, beautiful place. I want to live there. France is a place I visit almost every day...in my mind. I hear it's a beautiful,beautiful place. And, I want to live there,too.

Maine, with its magnificent forests and craggy coastlines, quaint little historic towns, and lovely pastoral countrysides makes me positively daydreamy. I could daydream the day away with vivid recollections of this amazing place crashing into my mind like the waves that crash into its lengthy shoreline-continually, fervently.

Places you absolutely must see: Acadia National Park, Bar Harbor, Lisa Steele's Fresh Eggs Daily farm, Boothbay Harbor, the classic New England town of Portland, Camden, and the delightful little fishing town of Rockport.

Maine is soooo much more than forest land and sightings of monstrous moose, although, just as I am anxiously awaiting to spot the elusive Wassergass Black Bear, I would like to spot a real moose someday! Again, from AFAR!! Seriously though, Maine is breathtaking! It's beauty is incomparable-there's just no place like it on earth. This notable northern work of art has it all-seafood, one of a kind finds for the antique treasure hunter, vast beaches and acres of pure undisturbed forests, lovely historical lighthouses, quaint shops overflowing with books, odds and ends, nautical knick knacks and much, much more.

France, with its foreign allure, the city of lights, quaint little historic towns, and lovely pastoral countrysides, also makes me positively daydreamy.

Image courtesy of Vichaya Kiatying-Angsulee from FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Places I long to see one day:gay Paris with its towering landmark, the Eiffel Tower, Chelles, where my friend, Bea calls home, the town of Lyon, recommended to me by my new fellow writer friend Rose M Griffith, the pretty town of Annecy and it's beautiful spotless lake, The Luxembourg Gardens, pretty, pretty, pretty Provence, of course The Pont Alexandre III, Etretat, Carcassone, and The Dordogne Region in central France.

The country of France is home to famous art treasures, rich cuisine, miles of fine wine trails, cute little cafes on the street, markets and museums, beaches and rolling hills, yet it's missing one small detail...me. Oh, I've no doubt that one day I will step foot on French soil. And, oh how sweet that day will be. I can picture it so vividly in my mind that I can almost taste that first bite of my freshly baked croissant, mmmmmm! Bon appetit!

I want to explore the countrsides. I want to walk along the bustling Parisian streets, pause to rest at a sidewalk cafe, and try my hand at speaking the native tongue to order a sweet treat...delicieuse!

Goodbye and aurevoir for now my friends! I'll see you at the top of the La tour Eiffel!

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

We're Not in Kansas Anymore, Toto!

We're in bear country!

Apparently, our little countryside corner of the world is now home to Black Bears.

Black Bear Image courtesy of criminalatt from FreeDigitalPhotos.net

While my two, now grown, children were growing up here in this lovely quiet countryside hamlet of eastern Pennsylvania, I often remarked that one day a bear would walk out of the woods bordering our backyard. That remark was met with a flurry of laughter and disbelief. Well, no one's laughing now. In fact, this is anything but a laughing matter. It's got me downright spooked!

As a regular walker and a chicken keeper, I believe in a NO Black Bears Allowed policy in our neighborhood. Mother Nature begs to differ. Yes, Black Bears have been spotted wandering around the backyards across the street. A week ago, a Black Bear was seen wandering around MY backyard. Did I see it? NO! We were all out, but my neighbor told me about it later that evening, being sure to clarify that it was BIG! Do I want to see a Black Bear? Yes, but definitely from AFAR!!

More and more Black Bears are being spotted in our local area. Mama bears out for a morning stroll with a couple of mischivous cubs in tow and single wanderers looking for a new haunt have been spotted and talk is definitely not cheap. I know I stop and pay rapt attention whenever I hear any mention of a Big Black presence moseying around my neighborhood.

I know what they say. I've heard the hearsay many times. They're more afraid of you than you should be of them. Make a LOT of noise-it scares them. Don't R U N, but slowly and gingerly back away from them. All sound advice, yes, but it still offers me little to no comfort. They're BEARS after all. And, this isn't Jellystone National Park where your typical bear dons a sweeter-than-pie Yogi Bear cap and banters back and forth with a short furry sidekick named Boo Boo.

Anyway, I took action. I now whistle when I walk-carrying a whistle with me at all times while I'm out and about in my neighborhood gives me a sense of control over this un-bear-ably scary situation. I don't feel so powerless and fearful. Now, while I do stay closer to home these days and only walk during daylight hours when I can pretty much see any things that go bump on and around my path, I think it's extremely safe to say that I am still spooked.

Another tip from "the newest neighborhood gone bear country" is knowledge. Knowledge is powerful! So, I googled them. I read all about these black blurs that have been frequenting my lovely peaceful lane. I now come equipped with the knowledge I need, should I encounter said blur. I got the facts straight from the Black Bear's mouth so to speak-the Pennsylvania State Game Commission. Now, while this information was written with your average Pennsylvanian in mind; the frank, very helpful advice can be applied to any encounter with these big black beauties of the forest. Yes, they are beautiful, awesome creatures of God, but that doesn't mean I have to like them or want them wandering through my backyard.

Always be beary, beary careful when in bear country-be mindful of your surroundings and take steps to eliminate whatever food source is attracting Black Bears to your neck of the woods. Black Bears are voracious eaters and not discriminating in the least-they eat anything and everything. They'll even knock around your trash cans searching for any leftover scraps that they deem beary beary good. As true omnivores, bears eat a wide variety of foods-garden vegetables and plants,small backyard farm animals such as my egg-straordinarily sweet laying hens, your lovely well-manicured lawns, dead animal carcusses, bird seed set out for song birds, beehives, and  fruit trees, etc. are all on the menu. Your backyard is a definitely a Black Bear smorgasbord.

So, all that being said, I still have yet to sight one of these Big Black Beauties. I'll keep you posted, though.