Spring has sprung and the grass is riz …

Spring has sprung and the grass is riz … I can’t remember how the rest of that goes but it’s not important. This weekend my daughter’s five-year-old horse will be coming back to the farm for the summer.  He spends his winters in a beautiful facility with an indoor arena because he’s young, needs to be ridden and is a bit of a jack… I will leave it at that.  For this reason, I jumped in the golf cart and decided to check out the fence lines to ensure the fortress was secure and he wouldn’t land at a neighbour’s unexpectedly.  I’ll admit I may have suggested a few times that we should ‘set him free’ but I wasn’t serious, at least not then.  Watch this space.

As any pretend farmer like myself learns, fences can be hard work.  Maintenance is constant and wood rots, especially when your property is littered with underground springs.  As I tore around the back 40, golf cart on high, travel mug in hand, wind whipping through my hair, I was reminded of the fence installation when we first moved to the farm.

Not me.      Me.

We were not flush for cash at the time, and we fancied ourselves to be quite the DIYers. It should be noted that over the years we have discovered that this is not the case.  We don’t DIY well.  But back in the day when knowledge was slim and egos were large, we paid to have the post holes dug but we put the cedar posts in the ground ourselves, well, with the help of some dear friends … some of whom I haven’t seen since. Odd.

Water filled every hole and needed to be bailed out before the posts went in. We had tiny buckets and little shovels.  We looked like a crew of morons but we were in the back for the most part and no one could see. At least that’s what I chose to believe.  After a weekend of burly fencing there was only the small section by the road that needed posts inserted.  Early Monday morning as everyone else went back to their real jobs, I went out solo. I planned to put the posts in myself. Why not?  I have skills dammit, I’m a writer for goodness sake.

It was a dewy morning, muddy grass sloshed under foot but other than the birds tweeting and a motionless heron at the pond, the perimeter was clear. My section of remaining post holes skirted the road and surrounded the water. I picked up my first cedar post, all strong-like, bending at the knees, wearing super-cool work gloves ~ I looked the part ~ I had that post on my shoulder in no time — well fairly fast, there may have been a bit of wobbling but whatever, just listen to the story. I positioned the enormous post over the hole and prepared to let ‘er fly when something caught my eye – I immediately dropped my post, creating quite a rut in the mud, it was just that big people, and peered into said hole. Squinting into the murky depths below, I focussed hard, wishing I had night vision (that only happens in books though – have you read The Viridian Chronicles?), but after returning to the house for a flashlight and a quick snack, what should my faux farmer eyes see?  Why it was a webbed footed friend of the frog family and he was not alone ~ he’d brought some kinfolk. Whatever would I do now?

Well, obviously like any other like-minded farm savvy person would do, I constructed a little froggy elevator and took them out one by one.  It took me all morning, face down, head practically inserted in each post hole, rescue apparatus in hand ~ frog saving is slow, they hop, clearly don’t understand English and the slimy f*ck&rs, sweethearts were in every hole.    E-v-e-r-y hole.

“GET – ON – THE – PLATFORM. I – AM – TRYING – TO – SAVE – YOU”, hissed the gargantuan lips from above. The obstructive amphibians did not find my words comforting. All resistance aside, I am proud to say by day’s end I was able to free all frogs and the posts were in the ground; some of them even straight. (well, not that one)  It was this day, when on display for all to see, that I am fairly certain I secured my village idiot status.  I still hold the title.

That’s about right. 

Outing my inner bird nerd.

So, anyone who knows me well, knows I am really into birds ~ and I mean really into birds.  A recent home renovation was inspired by my need for larger windows so I could watch the birds eating at the bird feeders and nesting in our many bird houses. I am proud to say I inherited my bird nerdiness from my late parents.  As a family we would all sit in front of our big windows during a winter storm, drinking coffee, just to see what kind of birds would blow in.  Braving the elements, we would fill the feeders over and over again, often in our pyjamas, so our feathered friends could stay nourished and find a safe haven from mother nature’s wrath.  Our go to book, “Field Guide to the Birds of North America,” was never out of arm’s reach in the event a speedy identification was needed.  “Ah yes, sparrow.” It was a family pastime which resulted in some quality time spent and now looking back, cherished. I try and instill the beauty of birds on my dear teenagers but no matter how often I endlessly rattle on, they still don’t remove their headphones.

With Spring slowly emerging and I should emphasize the slow bit there, I have been enjoying the flurry of activity in the back yard.  Grackles, red winged black birds, those elusive sparrows, robins all gathering dried grasses, small twigs and horse hair (which my shedding horses are more than happy to supply) to line their nests and fill their wee houses.  The bird bickering, pecking, stealing, shoving and general pandemonium at times can be a little less peaceful but nothing a bb gun doesn’t solve.  Just kidding. I only use that with the kids and the occasional spraying tom cat. Okay, I’ll stop. I have no firearms and probably for good reason. I digress.

Now back to nature … my mother-in-law gifted me with the most wonderful bird house this past Christmas and finally this weekend we found the perfect spot. It is now on the open winged market!  Positioned perfectly for viewing from the living room, I happily procrastinate from writing and wait for the first tenants to arrive.  The location is ideal, fairly private but close to town, you know, prime real estate. It will become more private and picturesque when the tri-coloured beech tree in front comes into leaf.  The horse shoe, positioned with the open side up to catch good luck and more than a few bird droppings, is an added bonus for any feathered friend who chooses to live there.  I may host an open house this weekend!

Follow me on Instagram @a.e.outerbridge to get the Friday updates of the geese nesting at our pond.  I am sure goslings are on the way … despite my best efforts, I don’t think mother goose likes me much?