Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Spring doings at the new house

I thought you might enjoy seeing what's happening down at Matthew and Margaret's house. If you are a new reader of my letters, please scroll down past the postings till you see 'letter topics.' Then click on 'the making of a home' and you will find eight posts from May - August 2010 which will tell you all about this exciting adventure.

Well, now they've been happily settled into the house for going on seven months. The builders didn't have a chance to do the landscaping last fall because it was too late in the year. So the homeowners had to endure the late winter/early spring mud season. There were many days they had to park along the road and walk across to the house on boards. Just this week the big machines have appeared - flattening the land, clearing brush, digging out giant boulders. They found big tree stumps which were buried and had to be dug out, leftover from a logging operation before we bought this place thirty years ago! There is now a real driveway, parking area, and sown grass seed covered with hay.

They greatly enjoy their front porch

And I love the 'country' boots

Plants up in the loft area - one of my favorite places in the house

I think this motto pretty much sums up how they live

Last fall Matt spent a day bringing manure down in the tractor bucket. And this spring, he built four raised beds, loaded them with the composted manure, and he and Margaret planted vegetables. They are so excited and it warms our hearts to see their enthusiasm.

When May arrived, Matt and Margaret decided to buy two ducks. The local feed store couldn't guarantee if they were males or females, so we'll see what happens! Tom had kept our duck house which he'd built years ago when we had ducks. Matt had saved an old dog pen, and set it up for the duckies. This will be their outdoor area, with the addition of a kiddie pool,

but they also have a safe inside home that Matt rigged up in the cellar.

And here are the little darlings! These photos were taken a week ago, and they're quite a bit bigger now.

The wooded area to the east of their house which adjoins our pasture feels like a magic place to me. It seems more like an English 'wood' than our 'woods' which are dense and vast.

We gave them some spiderwort and they planted it under a spreading red maple tree.

Wouldn't you like to climb onto this branch and read away an hour or two?

Margaret texted me on the morning of May 16: big big blk bear in the back yard. headed towards ur house. :)

I didn't see it so I guess it went off into the field before it got here. The local newspaper is full of bear news this time of year, warning people to keep their trash inside and to not feed them. We have a neighbor who doesn't feed them but they seem to enjoy hanging around his deck, and one even took a nap there one day a couple years ago. The other day we were driving on a road about a mile from our house when three cubs and the mother bear crossed the road in front of us. Those babies were so cute. Two came out first and kind of stood there until the mother showed up with the third baby running to catch up with her.

And last evening, after we had supper at Matt and Margaret's, I went into our kitchen around 8 pm to close the windows above the sink. I couldn't believe my eyes! There was a black bear walking across the lawn. He or she then walked onto the road. I called Margaret immediately to make sure Piglet and Lexi were inside because the bear was heading her way! She texted to say he had crossed opposite their driveway into the woods. Then in the next minute Tom and I saw another one up the road just a bit before it also went into the woods. Wow! It isn't often we see black bears. We've had a banner year in sightings!

PS I want to apologize for the quality of the outdoor pictures. I took these the last day of May in the early evening, and they didn't come out very well.


  1. I think the pictures were fantastic. I want a duck now!!

  2. Looks like PARADISE now. And those duckies...they're adorable.

    They've done such a great job...I could feel the coziness, yet so simple and naturally elegant.

    All joys,

    Sharon Lovejoy Writes from Sunflower House and a Little Green Island

  3. What a beautiful spot for you and your family, Nan. And duckies, too. :)

    I have a book for you: ENSLAVED BY DUCKS by Bob Tarte. You will love it. :)

    Ah, black bears. Even here - I live a couple of blocks from town - we get a bear now and then. I've had to stop feeding birds because the last time I did - a couple of years ago, the bear came and destroyed the feeders and bent the iron shepherd's crook I had hung the feeders from. Very frustrating.

    I know bears have to eat too, I just wish they'd learn to share. Ha!

    My daughter lives further into the woods in her town about a half hour from here and they have more bears than they know what to do with. She's had to stop feeding the birds as well. She and her hubby are 'birders' so it's especially hard on them not to be able to see the wide variety of birds that used to show up at their feeders.

    My daughter Skye took an amazing pix of a black bear on their back deck one afternoon. He was on the deck leaning on the rail (his back to her) and looking back over his shoulder at Skye while she took the pix. It made the local newspaper. :)

  4. I'm so jealous of the abundance of nature you have surrounding you. I live for your photos. The duck are so cute.

  5. I'm glad those sweet ducks are indoors safe from the black bears!

  6. I so love the duckies!!! And I can see how the loft area with the plants is your favourite place in the house. The floor is so shiny! All those bear sightings... wow, that truly IS exotic for me, since the only bears you find in Europe live in zoos...

  7. Don't apologise, it all looks beautiful!

  8. It is fun seeing all that is going on around your place and Matts. Those raised beds will be great. I hope the bears don't like duck. Those little fluff balls would be just a snack for them. I wonder what has caused all this bear activity around your place? Have the bears been displaced elsewhere?
    Love your banner photo.

  9. Great photos! Thanks for sharing - I was actually wondering about the progress of their house. I love ducks! I think it's great they bought a pair. :)

  10. The house is really looking like a home now. I'd love to keep ducks but I don't think I would like bears as regular visitors. It does sound exciting, though.

  11. Great photo diary of the new house.

    I can only imagine how fast your heart beats when you see a BB Bear in the garden!


  12. Nan, thanks for updating us on your kids' house. It is just lovely. The front porch looks very inviting. I'm amazed at your bear stories, although I shouldn't be. We've certainly had our share of wildlife and will likely have a lot more. :-)

  13. Nan, what alot going on around your place! Black bears galore! Margaret and Matt's place looks really great and I love the ducks!!

  14. The house and surroundings are beautiful, and the shining floors really caught my eye. Too cute ducklings; they look like they're smiling for the camera. They're lucky ducks too - look at their homes.

  15. The photos are fine, and I'm so enjoying the updates! Love the ducks. My parents have some country property (in Texas) where we kept ducks a few years when I was a kid, and I remember them fondly. :) Thanks.

  16. Staci, they are dears!

    Sharon, you've described it beautifully.

    Yvette, I'm always a bit leery of animal books. Do any ducks die? My heart is very tender when it comes to creatures and kids.The bears don't come in the winter, do they? Around here people mostly feed birds only in the fall and winter and early spring, and Fish & Game always says to take them down by April 1 but that's a tad early for us here.

    What a lovely thing to say, Diane! It is pretty 'abundant' these days!

    Tia, isn't that the best set-up? I love it. And btw, there's a letter coming to you soon!!

    Librarian, come on over anytime, and I'll try to arrange a 'meeting' :<) The loft also has a couch, a turtle in a tank, book shelves, and a nice little round desk. It is very cozy, while at the same time open to the rest of the house.

    Thanks, Barbara. The outdoor shots just didn't come out well but I still wanted to give the feeling of what it's like down there.

    Lisa, they are always here in the woods. We own about 200 acres of mostly woods so they've got a good home. :<) They just come out once in a while and this year we've been lucky enough to see them. In town it's because of dumpsters and if people don't take down their bird feeders for the summer.

    Kittiefly, we are pretty sure they are both girls! this will make things easier, I think.

    Maureen, as long as they don't come to the door, they are fine! And yes, they do come to some people's doors. Yikes!

    Thank you, Carol. It was fun keeping track of the progress. Of course the 'kids' have lots of pictures too, but I enjoyed doing a regular blog entry as well.

    Kay, I would take a thousand bears to one rattlesnake. :<)

    Sherri, yeah there's a lot of action in the natural world just now!!

    Barbara, that's just what Tom said - that they look to be smiling! They are just the sweetest creatures.

    Julia, aren't they just wonderful. Kindly, sweet-natured birds.

  17. Stunning pics. I'd love to see a bear. They are often mentioned in Louise Erdrich's novels as part of the landscape and the image is so appealing - maybe not too close, though!

  18. Curious about your (and Margaret's) raised beds for vegetables...don't you have a problem with rabbits and even deer?

  19. Vintage Reading, every time I see one I do a sort of double take. I can't believe my eyes. They look like big black dogs for a minute. And they really do lumber. Isn't that a great word. Though they can run fast (30-40 mph) if needs be.

    Jill, we've had a garden for thirty years here and no creature has ever bothered it. I told someone recently that it might be because we are surrounded by woods. We don't live in a development that used to be woods or open country. No animal's natural home was taken away by our homestead. This house has been here since the mid 1880s.We have about 240 acres in all - a smallish amount in fields and pastures, and the bulk of it in woods. There are deer and moose and bear and occasional coyotes. And as I have noted sometimes, we do have a rabbit that shows up once in a while. We stop everything to watch it because it is an unusual sight. We once stayed in a house in England for a week and at the end of the road there was a field full of rabbits. We would walk down there at day's end and just marvel at them. Long answer, eh?!

  20. I agree with Staci. The pictures are fantastic! However, I'll skip the duck and take that gorgeous log home! :) I love reading about all that they've done and I think it's just wonderful that they live so close to you and Tom. Not so sure about those bears, though. ;) We were constantly on the lookout for bears, moose and "cats" (mountain lions & cougars) while in Colorado last month. Our friends would bring the hummingbird feeder in every night, but didn't seem concerned about the bird seed. They put a bear pad (a large piece of plywood with dozens and dozens of screws poking up through one side) in front of the doors when we left to head back to NE. It's supposed to discourage the bears from breaking into an empty house/cabin. I'd be tempted to put it out every night before bed! I can't imagine living some place where the bears actually break into homes!

  21. Les, I just read a bit about bears in Colorado, and it's much the same situation as here. They are drawn to food sources. If you are interested:


    I find bears much less of a worry than people breaking into a house!

  22. Oh Nan, thank you. Would love to have ducks but think some critter would get them. I have deer, wild turkeys and small game - no bears :) I smile about all you shared - just a little envious because my children are in other states and the two who are an hour away - want to live in the city.
    Would love to have them on this acreage :)

  23. I feel like I've just had a lovely visit with you. So nice to hear about the new house and the ducks and the excitement of the bears. Life is good.

  24. Nan, there are some animal deaths in Bob Tarte's book, but they are so part of the on-going story that though I was saddened, I didn't get all teary which I normally do. When you have such a large assortment of animals as Bob and his wife live with, there are bound to be sad episodes in between all the day to day hijinks. I loved the book.

    I know what you mean about not wanting to read certain types of animal books, though. I'm in line to read the next of Bob's books. I think it's called FOWL WEATHER.

    On the whole, Bob's books are more funny than anything. He and his wife are SO patient with their animal family which consists of every animal (or so it seems) except dogs. No dogs in the household. Some fun cats, though. :)

  25. It all looks so lovely, thank you very much for sharing it.
    We used to have ducks, Noah, Nellie and Nora!! The woods do look quite like Slad here but........no bears, not yet anyway!

  26. What a beautiful home. Can there be anything friendlier than wood? And I love the ducks. We, too, have created a home nestled in the woods...lots of magical, soft places just beyond the treeline.

    We have a few bears here, but they are thankfully very shy. I've yet to see one in my yard!

  27. Ernestine, we are so very pleased she wanted to build a house here. When we had ducks something got them, which is why I'm so pleased with Matt's little indoor duck home.

    What a nice thing to say, Margot! Thanks.

    Yvette, thank you for coming back to tell me. I'll take a look. No dogs! I can't imagine a life without dogs.

    Carole, ours were Cornelia and Bella. :<)

    Deborah, I think they are naturally shy except when it comes to food!

  28. You will now need to carry your camera around at all times as we need bear photos! I love that your daughter and you are texting bear news back and forth - and I love those ducks!


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