Cityfolk Farmers

Country life has been a great change of pace from life in the city. Here you will find Blog posts and stories * Recipes * Critters * Garden * Life in the Slow Lane

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Perfect

 My favorite (only) Aunt and Uncle came from Texas last week for a nice long visit.

They walk a little slower now, but the timbre of their laughter and the stories they tell are the same. A little greyer, maybe, a little forgetful, but with pushing late 80s they are entitled.

We took them to the ocean, on a bluff between Jenner and Bodega Bay, for what may be their one long last look at the Pacific.

It was somehow extremely important to share digging our feet in the sand with them, watching the fog burn off to beautiful windy fall days and hunting for seashells as the dogs dance along the waves.

We had great talks. I'm German, it turns out. And French and English, which I knew - and Scottish on my father's side. My Grandfather was married twice, once during the War and he was overseas when his bride died of influenza. We talked of my mother, my first marriage, things that were wrong and right in our lives. I listened to what life was like growing up in Chicago during the 30s / 40s, and we sang out loud in the car. 

We are gamers, and evenings were filled with Tripoley and Mexican Train and laughing out loud. We dined on Dungeness Crab, local and fresh, and Alaskan Salmon with Sourdough. From the hot tub you could watch the waves wash ashore.

There was something deep and resonating about spending time in a little fishing shop turned retirement home sitting among big and beautiful properties. We felt grateful, even after losing power and having no TV remote. We sat in the dark with little battery candles and watched the waves. The soft worn floors and Indian rugs and the leather sofas brought us comfort in spite of no wifi, not much in the way of phone coverage, and spotty landlines. We sank into beds with soft feather pillows and slept tight in the cold foggy air.

There were redwoods nearby and the Hubs and I reminisced about Guerneville in our youth.  On the way home we stopped at a sandwich shop in Petaluma and ran into Randy's nephew, if you can believe that. Some things just happen because they're meant to.

Thanksgiving had been all week, but we celebrated with the family on Saturday before they headed home  - 14 strong - all stuffed into the kitchen and living room along with 3 dogs - with helpers at the stove, at the sink, at the island doing tasks.  My aunt taught me a thing or two and she said I taught her a thing or two ( although I think she's got me beat in the kitchen department.)

Everyone chipped in.
Everyone laughed.
We had long visits with Mike, who is moving to Philly at the end of the year
... and most everyone stayed long after dinner was through. 

I can't imagine anything better than that, other than remembering to take some family pictures. Totally forgot!

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Fresh Turkey Bake

Right out of the oven, ready to cut
Recently, I've been thinking about how we drive ourselves nuts with Thanksgiving preparations that have six different dishes demanding things

COME TOGETHER
at the
PRECISE MOMENT
so everything is hot
AND COOKED
and perfectly seasoned

...and a pie on the sideboard that probably won't be eaten because everyone is in a near coma state from all the dinner carbs.

Cauliflower mashed looks a lot like mashed potatoes
I wondered about a lasagna style make ahead dish made from Thanksgiving foods. Surely someone had thought of this already, right? So I went on the hunt.

I found Nothing! There were tons of the old tired cream-of soup casseroles from the 1960s that are gross, a rolled turkey breast (like you make sandwiches out of) stuffed with stuffing and potatoes, and a few more casseroles with quinoa and noodles and curry and broccoli and lots of cheese and other fatty add-ins. Pass.

So today I made my version of a Turkey Bake that is convenient, freezes well, and is made with wholesome fresh ingredients. I used cauliflower mash instead of potatoes because - well, we like them -- and honestly, in this recipe you can hardly tell the difference, so it would be an ideal time to try cauli-mash if you haven't already.

The recipe was great!  It had great texture, good flavor combinations, all the comfort foods of Thanksgiving in one little square, with plenty of room for a big green salad. I can't wait to finally use up all those sides we usually have left in the fridge - but what I most like about this dish is the balance and honesty of  it.

(Layering is for one 9x13 casserole)

A ladle or two of gravy on the bottom
A layer of fresh cooked and sliced Turkey Breast - side by side
A layer of cauliflower mashed/or potato mashed
A layer of broccoli florets - steamed al dente
A layer of your favorite stuffing
Another layer of turkey breast
Top with your favorite gravy (just a few ladles, don't drench it)

Cover in foil - bake at 350 for 1 hour to heat through. Let rest 5 minutes and serve.

---------------
These were our layers.

Fresh turkey slices with 2 small casseroles being prepped
Turkey: We thawed and baked a 3lb frozen turkey breast at 350 for 90 minutes, and let it cool before slicing 1/4" thick along the largest part of the breast. It gave us 10 good slices, enough for one full casserole dish top and bottom.

Mash:  Trimmed and cut a head of cauliflower and steam in the microwave - we recommend you use the stalks too. Drain well and use a food processor to pulse until smooth. It doesn't work with a masher.  {Do not add water or milk or the cauliflower will be runny}. Turn out into a bowl, season, cool in the fridge and let rest at least 2 hours - preferably more. If you still need to thicken, whip in a little dry Parmesan or dry potato flakes, resting between adds to let it gain body. The trick with cauliflower is not to undercook it. {Or you can just make your usual mashed potatoes}

Cuts and holds its shape like a good lasagna
Broccoli:  Cut into small pieces, cover with saran wrap and microwave it 3 minutes or so until al dente.

Stuffing:  I used Mrs. Cubbison's traditional stuffing bread - and followed the directions on the box - onion, celery, butter, and organic turkey broth and a little sage.

Gravy:  I cooked down gizzards in 2 c water and seasoned it up with herbs (sage, tarragon, marjoram, basil, rosemary, poultry, a little pepper). I added some Better Than Bouillon for depth and some pan drippings and thickened it with a flour roux until it was smooth and not too thick.








Thursday, July 21, 2016

The Craftsman

There is a constant flow of ideas out here.

A giant bee and butterfly garden here; a bigger herb garden there; decorative fencing breaks between the drive and the back, the back and the grass, the grass and  the gardens.

The promise of the land whispers, How long have I lain dormant, thirty or more? More than that contributed to the ruination of the house and what it had become. There was just too much to do, the farmers thought to themselves as they watched the Twins fall apart. They considered buying both houses to tear them down because the land underneath was more useful.

In the early part of this century a man found the main house and fell in step with reviving her. He worked tirelessly for many years, a craftsman himself who did much of the work. New windows, and floors, and walls, and bathrooms, and a better kitchen, electrical and septic, and a media room in the attic upstairs. Friends and family helped.

And underneath it, the rich, mocha soil became a dump for the construction worksite and the farmers itched to get their hands on it, or so the story goes.  Before this there had been 35 years of renters who grew pot in the back, and the sheriffs deputies snuck through the corn fields to get the drop on them. Some had a menagerie of unfenced farm animals wandering into the street stopping traffic and eating in the farmer's fields.  Some had too many cars and too much junk. The whole town lived here at one point, and there is still the occasional stop-on-by'er to tell us how they are connected.

Putting up a garage after a century caused quite a stir at the Post Office, which is still open despite the Postmistress retiring a couple of years back. Her mother before her was the Postmistress, and her Aunt. The USPS didn't want to keep it open but finally agreed that someone from the community can work it 9-1, pass out the mail, sell stamps and mail packages if you have cash.

Our little acre has a little garden in back, an herb garden on the side, a Iris garden faded and needing to be cleared, and an artichoke and berry fenced area that doesn't do a very good job of keeping out the squirrels, the birds or the dogs. There's a run next to the garage and a backstop all the way in the back for target shooting. Dotted around are olives, 5 of them, two pomegranates, two mission figs, and an almond that is making a comeback. And about 25 glorious Valley Oaks in all shapes and sizes.

Most of the land is flat and unused. There's more than our share of ground squirrel tunnels and we knock down weeds, and there's a low perimeter of water troughs for the crops that stretch in all directions all the way to the buttes. I long for a lush and orderly space reflecting my hands in the soil springing with life.

I discouragingly wonder if time and energy and money will ever permit a transformation.  And then I think of the Craftsman, his patience, his ingenuity, his devotion to the house, how he must have felt as he transformed it into what he imagined it could be.  It would have taken years, more money than I can imagine, and more talent than I possess. Had he given up, who knows where the house would be, maybe in a heap of lumber somewhere having been cleared for the crops that would take its place.

What a crying shame that would have been. Our beautiful home is a testament to a thousand people connected here, lives won and lost, chock full of memories. The Craftsman reminds me everyday that it is about the journey, after all.

The Craftsman

There is a constant flow of ideas out here.

A giant bee and butterfly garden here; a bigger herb garden there; decorative fencing breaks between the drive and the back, the back and the grass, the grass and  the gardens.

The promise of the land whispers to me. How long have things lay dormant, ten years? Thirty?  Fifty years or more contributed to the ruination of the house. There was just too much to do, and the farmers considered buying both houses to tear them down because the land underneath was so rich and useful.

Then came a man in the early part of this century who was in step with the house and revived her. He worked tirelessly for many years, a craftsman himself who did much of the work. New windows, and floors, and walls, and bathrooms and a better kitchen, electrical and septic, and a media room in the attic upstairs.

And underneath it, the rich, mocha soil became a dump for the construction worksite and the farmers itched to get their hands on it, or so the story goes.  There had been 35 years of renters who grew pot in the fields, and the sheriffs deputies snuck through the corn fields to get the drop on them. Some had a menagerie of unfenced farm animals wandering into the street stopping traffic and eating in the farmer's fields.  The whole town lived here at one point, and there is still the occasional stop-on-by'er to see it and tell us about their recollections.

Putting up a garage after 110 years caused quite a stir at the Post Office, which is still open despite the Postmistress retiring a couple of years back. Someone from the community works it 9-1, distributes the mail, sells stamps and mails packages if you've got cash or check.

Our land has a little garden in the back, an herb garden on the side, a iris garden faded and needing to be cleared, and an artichoke and berry fenced area that doesn't do a very good job of keeping out the squirrels or the dogs. There's a run next to the garage and a backstop all the way in the back for target shooting. Dotted around are olives, 5 of them, two pomegranates, two mission figs, and an almond that is making a comeback. 

Most of the rest of it is flat and desolate, with ground squirrel tunnels and knocked down weeds, and low perimeter water troughs for the crops that stretch in all directions all the way to the buttes. I dream of looking around at a lush and orderly space reflecting my hands in the soil springing with life.

I impatiently wonder when the time and energy and money will come.  When I get down on myself, the craftsman comes to mind, his patience, his devotion to the house, how he must have felt as he transformed it into what he imagined it could be.  It would have taken years, more money than I can imagine, and more talent than I possess. Had he given up, who knows where the house would be, maybe in a heap of lumber somewhere having been cleared with crops standing tall.

It is the journey, after all.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

All Smiles

It's been quiet out here with the owl family having moved on. We hear a couple of them in the trees some nights squawking to each other when they think we can't hear.

I had a full weekend of visitors of the two-legged variety. There were long dips into friendships I treasure and miss, freshening them up and making plans. There's a certain kind of laughing old friends do. You've got your stories to haul out and kid each other about, and you wait for it to spring out, and it always does. You start with the warmth of a hug and end that way, too, and in-between you dream of trips to the lake, to the mountains, to the sea ... because they're fun to think about, anyway.

The Heirlooms aren't happy, but the new little hybrids already have a few tomatoes. They may save the day.  The bells and zukes are doing the opposite, and we're glad for that.

The dogs and I walk the fields, watching the sunflower buds struggle to unlayer themselves. They look like artichokes with little edges that look sharp but are soft and pliable. I spied one open flower in a field of 20 acres of green. Soon they will be all smiles.

I look for the bee boxes, rooting for them to help the sunflowers (and the garden). If the flowers open without boxes we're probably neighbors with the non pollenated varieties of sunflowers, the enemy to the honeybee. Having nothing to nourish the bee in field after field of flowers would exhaust them. They would literally die trying.


Rent-A-Hives are everywhere in the early spring. I sometimes pull over with the windows rolled up and watch the hive at work. They are busy and productive and seem happy. Everyone has a job. After a few weeks of pollinating, the hives are carted away to recover and rest. More than a few people have suggested I consider become a beekeeper and it made me wonder why there aren't any beekeepers in our community.

I listen to the answer in the evenings with the sound of the Mosquito Vector helicopter covering the area in sticky spray to keep down West Nile and Zika and whatever else mosquitos carry, and in the rumble of ATVs with chemicals being sprayed on the silage corn and alfalfa and tomatoes.  There is so much to farming that is not good to know.

I think the only hope for the beautiful, delicate and vital honey bees might be to get them on the endangered species list and protected from harm.  Legislation should be passed, chemicals should be curtailed and the bees should be able to concentrate on being bees. I don't want to have to try to explain to my great grandchildren how the honeybees became extinct on my watch.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

The Aquafir

There's moments when you just have to own your city roots, like when you forget the difference between well and city water.

We've been having a devil of a time keeping the garden alive. The drips are in place, just like usual; the soil is amended, just like usual; heirloom plants are purchased and planted, just like usual; and the season started right on time.

It's been a typical summer, meaning hot days followed by cool evenings, and some cool days interspersed. About the halfway point to being grown, the leaves started to yellow on the tomatoes, and crispy edges formed on the squash and the stalks hollowed and began to droop. Some squash came off, but most of it never got going.

We added nutrients, read up on the possible causes, sprayed with natural herbicides, checked for fungus. We trimmed everything back and sprayed Miracle Gro to give it a boost, sprinkled slug and snail pellets on the perimeter.

No improvement.

We upped the amount of water twice a day, and the plants still looked parched and starved. Somehow those drips just didn't look up to the job. A couple of our best tomato plants gave up the ghost, and were replaced with more sturdy hybrid naturals (that's what I call cross-bred plants in the same genus to naturally resist disease).  Hybrids get a bad rap sometimes. They are often as healthy as Heirlooms.

Anyway, I became obsessed that we might actually lose everything except for the peppers and Japanese eggplants, which were doing great.

Out front it was the same story with the hummingbird and bee bushes. They looked starved and just hanging on. We kept talking about having had a lot of rain over the winter and the Aquafir should be in pretty good shape. Maybe sediment? We swapped out the sprinkler heads, cleaned and lowered the risers, and still not much improvement.

It been all bountiful crops from the garden, the fruit trees, the olives for 4 yrs. Even during the drought, we had ample water for the house and the irrigation systems and good water pressure. The filter on the well had been changed recently, and our inexperience just let the think that was enough.  We kept upping the pressure and lengthening the watering cycles.

Eventually we went back to the well.  It didn't smell like sulfur, showers were fine and water pressure in the house was good. And the Hubs checked it probably because I was freaking out about the garden. He found the brand new filter was caked with rusty, mineral-y, thick calcified gunk. Right away the place burst to life (literally: we had to repair the blow outs in the drip line from too much pressure). We readjusted the times and satisfyingly watched the water pool at the base of the tomatoes and squash.

You know, I'd been all over those garden websites when people write in about their plants turning yellow and dying off for no apparent reason. They're helpful, but this was a good lesson. Sometimes it's the soil amendments or the temperature or fungus or a worm. And sometimes it's forgetful city folks who didn't realize that with any natural water source it's likely to change from year to year.

This morning, the bird feeders need filling for the bright yellow birds that talk incessantly, the little brown wrens, the blackbirds and bluebirds and bluejays and red birds with black wings. That's about my speed. And then I will check the garden.



Monday, July 11, 2016

A New Kind of Normal


I was driving to work and not far from home when I saw a beautiful hawk floating above the freeway. Suddenly its wings lost the current and it literally slammed into the ground. West Nile does that, we hear. Bam, just like that.

So when our 5 yr old Pitty became seriously sick, we rushed her to the vet thinking it might be that.

In just a few days our robust dog had become virtually incapacitated. Her temp was over 104, she could barely get on and off the couch, she quit eating, she had labored breathing and didn't even try to get into the cab for rides in the truck (her favorite activity other than chasing squirrels).

She cried out when we touched her, so much so that we couldn't even narrow it down to where an injured area might be.

The vet immediately began rounds of blood and urine tests, swabs and xrays and numerous evaluations that turned up nothing. I mean, they knew a lot more than before the testing. They knew it wasn't a sprain or strain, not fungal, yeast, or valley fever infections, not heartworm, not a tick borne disease or rheumatoid arthritis. There found no visible skeletal or muscular trauma but it was clear she was losing muscle mass in her hind quarters.

She was a 5 year old dog that was acting 14.  Now there were 2 top vets on the case.

They focused on pain management and fine tuned that. What's working are 6 tabs of Tremidol daily plus 4 tabs of some other pain reliever, a Glucosamine and an anti inflammatory.

Fearless

Special screens are going up on the house, and sunflowers are filling the fields and growing by leaps and bounds. It won't be long...

How many acres of cheerfulness, I wonder: 200? The farmer broadcasts his workers in every field, running temporary pipe, planting and watering row after row, so it all coincides. We will post when the blossoms burst out.

As for the screens, they have a really small grid, extra small, as in too-small-for-bug size. We are having them made for every window.

This is the first time in 4 years we have been able to open the window in the oval office for a cross draft during the nicest part of the spring and summer...when black gnat no-see-ums and mosquitos thrive.

Fearless.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

The Barn Owlets, Then and Now

 

January. February. The empty box is waiting

March. New Mama occupies
 

Daddy owl checking us out while watching the owlets

April. Spied owlet #1

April.  Spied owlet #2
Early May. The structure of their faces are changing rapidly

Late May. They are friendly and curious about us


Mid June. Big changes going on, and look, a third one
Mid June. Better glimpse of the third owlet

Late June. Their first week of flying lessons
(We thought there were three, or possibly four)





And we would be wrong!!  FIVE.
Two female and three male owlets


Late June. A little female learning to hunt in the yard


Early July. Empty again The owlets are making their way.




Ridiculous

It was a beautiful day for a holiday: not too hot, not too windy, not many mosquitos, not much going on.

We waited for dusk to see the owls, and two arrived together. We think this is the brother and sister team that forged a friendship when he helped her learn to fly. Every night they stop in together, and sit on the same branch. Earlier in the day was a flourishing of red tailed hawk juveniles flying low over the fields and then back to home base.

It is sometimes hard to remember we lived anywhere else.

Nothing going on seems ridiculously satisfying. We don't even object to the impossibly endless list of chores.

Today pea gravel went down in the drive and a space was made for parking.  Four years ago Sunday when we were handed the keys, this is exactly how I thought it would be.

Lily has not been herself, but today she and Sam romped like they used to, making the rounds first to the ground squirrel holes, then curiously watching the workers tending the sunflowers, and finally having a good game of chase with sticks in their mouths.  They spent the evening sacked out.

Life breathes here, in the branches and the feeders and the old metal wheels with no place to go. It is in the quiet of all this life where unrealized dreams percolate.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

The Greatest Honor

Just days after we celebrate our country's freedom, family is heading there, where it all began.

Freedoms everywhere are being squelched, civil rights are being trampled and lives are being viciously taken. We withstand it, but there is no communal response.

And so for ID 2016,
          In spite of the challenges of the First (and Second) amendments
               In spite of the bickering and privileged whining
                    In spite of It being far from perfect or fair,
                           I pledge allegiance.

I do not endorse Her fully and whole. I resent the 1%; I am shocked by the callous disregard for the mentally ill and victimized; I see cowardice in its lack of action against violent entertainment that is played out on our streets and in our homes. 

And to the Republic for which She stands.  
         One nation.
                  Under God.
                         Indivisible.

Working for a world of one people, one vision, indivisible rather than splintered by the inequities of  money, power, repute, language, color, culture.  In a world paralyzed by fear, how can anyone not consider it an honor and privilege to raise a voice to vote? 


Don't squander what so many others will never have.
With Liberty and Justice for All.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

A Plan Without a Template

The garden is in neglect and the long 4th weekend is just in time for a day tending and fertilizing and providing extra water on these hot, hot summer days. I can't seem to keep Armenian cukes alive this year.  Something is eating them right down to the soil, along with the pole beans.

We've sprayed vinegar and water, snail bait, and kept a look out. Other than slugs, we don't see anything. Around it grows Japanese eggplant, tomatoes, 8 ball zukes, spaghetti squash, tomatoes, red and green bells, and more tomatoes. Did I mention tomatoes? I'll make another stab at replanting, but this will be the third go round.

Monday, June 27, 2016

The Liebster Award


Liebster Award: CityFolk Farmers

Cityfolk Farmers transports you from in front of your keyboard and plants you

in the middle of their life adventures on their little piece of heaven on earth.

Cityfolks shares their gardening process, successes and failures and then if that

is not interesting enough "we" the readers are taken into the kitchen for amazing

culinary creativity using the gifts from the earth! Cityfolk Farmers is a place of

heart and soul and some really cute critters too!

Get your cup of tea and relax here: 
http://cityfolkfarmers.blogspot.com





Saturday, June 25, 2016

Shrimp Louie


Here's a quick and easy hot weather treat.

The Shrimp Louie 

Two minute Dressing:
2/3 c. mayo (homemade or store bought)
2 T. sweet pickle relish
1/3 c. chili sauce
just a tiny, ever so small dash of vinegar
Mix. Chill.

The Salad:
Iceberg lettuce
Medium shrimp, precooked, tail off
Hard boiled eggs, halved
Wedged fresh tomatoes
Sliced fresh avocado
Sliced fresh cucumber
Slivered red and orange bell pepper

Friday, June 24, 2016

Big Brother's Alive and Well

Just for the record, we don't take too kindly to chemical companies messing with our food. What a foolish idea for anybody to let anybody or anything own both ends of the growing process.  These companies are producing the chemicals being sprayed while devising chemical-resistant crops so these poisons can continue to be used. Talk about insider trading.

Lots of folks don't think anything about crop spraying. They've been whipped into believing these killer chemicals are the best and only option to protect our crops.

But that's not true. There are other options for healthy wholesome food.  Consider this: chemicals are being sprayed at nearly every stage of a plant's development. It gets into the roots, up through the stalks into the vegetables and fruit. This level of pesticide doesn't wash off, so that juicy peach has more than juice trickling down your throat and into your bloodstream to who knows where. Stomach. Heart. Kidneys. Pancreas. Breast. Prostate. Brain. 

Like I said, not a fan.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Five!

Like Mary Poppins' carpet bag, we were astonished to discover five fledglings when they finally emerged from the owl box a week ago to finally try their wings.



Five!  

For weeks we have seen only three, and then there was a hint at 4.

We can't imagine how five birds this size could fit in the rather small owl box, but they do.



What a sensational time as they gather their confidence to fly for the first time. In one short week, their very first start has turned into anxious impatience waiting for just enough dusk to do it again.

Murphy

2016 is definitely the year of the bird.


A fledgling fell from his nest 30 feet up in the Pine out back. We hadn't noticed the huge nest at the crest of the tree. It was a Red Tailed Hawk whom we named Murphy after our fondness for our attorney.

We know the family. Father Hawk has a symbiotic relationship with the Hubs and they go squirrel hunting together. (The Hubs shoots, the Hawk eats.) A year ago, the Hawk pair raised three chicks who now include our place in their territory.

Murphy fell a long way. He wasn't scared at all as we gently lifted him and moved him under a shrub, the way wildlife pages suggested - to keep him out of direct sun and also out of open spaces where predators could spot him. We put a little dish of water nearby and waited for Mom and Dad to come.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

And Then There Were Three...

Here are the Barn Owlets at about 8 weeks.
Today the Hubs had the first *real* glimpse at the third baby.

An adjustment to the names of this friendly brood is in order!

Introducing
Hoot 'n Toot 'n Holler










Sunday, May 22, 2016

Hoot & Holler

Our Resident Hawk
You may recall that last summer we saw an encounter between a Barn Owl and a Hawk. The Owl had been chased into the trees and the branch could not sustain its weight. It flipped upside down, still clinging to the branch, and fell to the ground with a rather large thud.

The Hubs filmed it, and as walked closer for a better shot, his movements distracted the Hawk long enough for the Owl to get away. The Hawk turned out to be the Patriarch of a family of at least 5 Hawks in and around the place.

The Owl Box from scrap lumber
He and the Hubs have a very nice relationship. The Hawk sits quietly on the target out back for Randy to take out a couple of ground squirrels so he can relieve us of them. No foolin'.

Female Owl, Alba
Barn Owls have been on the brain ever since the Hubs found one huddling in the rafters of the unoccupied house next door in December.

The idea to build an owl box and put it out front at roughly the same height as the rafters was all the Hubs. He thought she would take to it if she found a mate.

And just like that, within a couple of months they had moved in.

She is beautifully speckled and has a perfect sweetheart face; he is snowy white with a large wing span and steely black eyes. We had a hunch their babies would be magnificent.


Male Owl, Tyto
Our living room has a big picture window and is roughly 100' from the owl box so every surface of the house has a pair of binoculars. Even the diningroom table.

There were weeks we barely saw her after that, and the only activity seemed to be when the male would hunt at night and bring her food as she sat on the nest. 

And then suddenly, activity.

Hoot, April 25
In mid-April the parents started acting awkward and nervous. They were looking down a lot and constantly repositioning themselves, as if trying not to step on something.

Two somethings, actually.  A facebook friend came up with the names Hoot and Holler. They are the cutest darn things.

Holler, May 7
It has brought us joy watching them, reading about them and seeing them grow. We feel honored to be trusted to be this close.

Hoot, May 15
Alba seems very comfortable around us, and the babies are always curious and poking their heads out to watch. They are curious when the dogs chase the stick, they watched us plant shrubs and now they like the sprinklers.  We curiously watch them, too - getting ready to try their wings - and how their now-really-cramped space is causing them trouble to stretch their wings up on the wall, or one sticking out the doorway, all tangled up.

Hoot & Holler, May 21
The other day I was smoothing some of the topsoil out front and glanced up over my shoulder to see Alba quietly watching me. I was probably 35 feet from her and so we chatted a while, about the yard and what it was going to look like. She seemed interested in my tone of voice if not the topic.

It might have been that moment when I realized the little speckled Owl that had been chased into the tree last summer had been Alba. Perhaps that brought her back to roost in the rafters next door, and why the owl box wasn't such a stretch for her to occupy.

Life finds its own hospitable environment. How lucky we are that it's here.