Sunday, January 25, 2009

Issue 6- Updates

Introducing "Kitty"
As I walked into the barn to get Dudley from his kennel a few weeks ago, I was greeted with a surprise. (In late November, we put Dudley's outdoor kennel in the barn so he didn't have to survive the snowy, windy days.) As I went to open the latch on the kennel, I heard a "meow" right next to my leg. I looked down and saw a kitten of about three months cuddling up to my snow boot. It continued to meow until I picked it up to pet it. It proceeded to cozy up to my neck and rub itself against my warm skin. The kitten was cold, trembling, and malnourished. It didn't look like one of the kittens at Marsha and Doug's house, so I figured it was either one of the neighbor's kittens that was exploring around or a very lost kitty. It followed Dudley and I out of the barn and down the street for a short walk before we went inside for the night. As Dudley and I headed in the door, it tried to come in behind us. I called Grant to the door to see our new friend, and we decided to make a bed for it out in the barn. It meowed behind me all the way back to the barn and snuggled under the fleece blanket I placed on one of the straw bales that surrounded Dudley's kennel. If the kitten was still there the next morning, Grant would take it to Marsha and Doug's where it could join the other kittens and cats.

The kitten was still under the blanket the next morning, so Grant walked it across the street where it would be fed until it planned to return to where it came from. The next evening, I went out again to bring Dudley inside, and I did a double take as the kitten came walking out of Dudley's dog house right behind him. Dudley looked unfazed and happy to see me as usual. This time though, I had a second furry friend to greet me. I guess the kitten wanted to keep us as friends! So, now we have Kitty living out in our barn that hangs out with Dudley when he's in his kennel. Kitty's blankets have gotten bigger to keep her warm in these below freezing temperatures, and she seems to be getting healthier by the day. Every morning when we walk out to the barn, I am greeted with a sweet meow and a rub against my snow boot and Dudley is wished good morning with a sniff of his nose. Although I never was fond of cats in the past, I have taken a liking to Kitty and hope she sticks around to keep Dudley and I as her friends.

Bald Eagles Spotted
This morning I saw my first wild bald eagle in the cornfield behind my house. I say wild because I've seen bald eagles in cages before. This time, however, was spectacular! Grant had told me that during the winter months they sometimes see bald eagles down by the river, but I wasn't going to believe it until I saw one. Last year there weren't any sightings, but Marsha spotted a group of seven yesterday. I was able to snap this picture of one of them that was in the field today, even though it's pretty far away. I'm going to try to get a better shot in the next few days if they hang around.

Winter...are we done yet?!
With each passing day of incredibly cold, windy, and snowy weather, I ask myself that question. While walking the dog the other day, I noticed the ease of taking each step on the actual grass and the dirt road. I didn't have to trudge through three foot drifts of snow or worry about the ice that could be secretly waiting under a white blanket for a deadly step that would send me to the ground. As nice as it would be for winter to be over, the truth is we're only half way there. I was reminded of this when I woke up this morning to an inch of new fallen snow. We've survived -22 degree temperatures last week when I had three days off of school because of the cold, so our only hope is that it doesn't get colder than that the rest of the winter season.

In my last posting, I was keeping my fingers crossed that I wasn't going to slip and fall on the ice, but I guess I uncrossed my fingers because I took a huge spill the next day. I share this with you now because even though I was very sore for a few days, I find humor in the experience and I hope you do too. Before heading to my basketball game with Grant, I was walking Dudley out to the barn with a bowl of his water in my left hand and his leash in the other. I was taking very careful, slow steps knowing how terrible the ice was all over our property. All of a sudden, Dudley pulled quickly at his leash and with my next step I lost my footing and fell completely backwards onto my lower back. My fall was in slow motion as the bowl of ice cold outside faucet water flew up in the air and came free falling back down on top of me. I don't know what stunned me more, the pain of falling on my back or water soaking my freshly washed and ironed khaki's in -20 degree temperatures. With the loud scream I let out as I fell, Grant came running outside to see what happened. I stayed on the ground, soaking wet, until I went through a mental checklist of body parts that were not in pain. Thankfully, my heavy down jacket cushioned part of the fall, and I didn't throw out my back like I've done in the past from falling. Instead of crying from pain and shock, I only laughed at my luck of not only falling but also showering myself with water. Note to self: don't carry water while walking the dog when it's icy!

I also mentioned in my last posting that we were hoping to keep our power considering how much ice there was on the power lines. We had already had an ice storm, but a wind storm came on Sunday, the day we were to celebrate an early Christmas at Doug and Marsha's house and then head up to the suburbs to see my family for the week. The snow was blowing so hard that I felt like I was in the desert when they show on the news how horrible the sandstorms can get. I used the house as a shield from the wind when taking the dog outside, but when I'd turn the corner, my breath was taken away from the fierce wind. The wind blew our power out right after I had just emptied the tub of emergency water since I wanted to shower. What great luck! Grant, Doug, and Jeff (our brother-in-law) frantically worked to hook up generators at the barn where there were baby pigs to be kept warm and Doug and Marsha's house where we were to gather in a few hours. Knowing it would get cold in our house, I headed across the street where the generator was keeping the first floor warm. We still had our Christmas celebration that afternoon, but since the kitchen was the only place with electricity from the generator, we had to finish opening of gifts by the dwindling sunlight. At about 7pm, Grant and I went back to our house to drain the pipes (so they wouldn't freeze) and to check on Dudley. We decided that there was no way that we would risk driving to the suburbs in the low temperatures and the dangerous wind, and since our thermostat read 48 degrees, we packed an overnight back to sleep on the warm floor at Doug and Marsha's. Before heading back across the street, we opened our gifts from each other by candle light...I know, I romantic! Later that night, however, the power came back on and we were able to head back home to sleep in our own beds while the heat in our house kicked back on. Thankfully, our house didn't have to go overnight without heat because that would have been a mess. The next morning, the sun was shinning, there was little wind, and we were able to pack up and leave for a fun-filled week in the suburbs. As we drove, I realized then, that living in the country brings a whole new set of adventures. I had never witnessed "survival mode", where everyone was working to do what they could to make sure we and the livestock would survive without power. I also now know the importance of making sure I shower when I know we will have power. A tub full of emergency water can come in handy when one least expects it!

One last funny to leave you with...
I just had to share this picture with all of you of two Dunlap students really, really, really wanting to play tennis on a 14 degree day this past Saturday. I pulled up to the high school for a basketball game, and I had to slow down as I saw one kid shoveling the tennis court and the other one wrapping saran wrap around the two tennis poles. I got out of the car to take a picture of them to find out that one of the kids was in my class as he exclaimed, "We just really wanted to play tennis!" I guess when you live in the Midwest you can't let the winter weather stop you! I thought of sending this in to Ellen or David Letterman because I thought they'd get a kick out of it. There's definitely something to be said about inspiring kids to be creative thinkers! I give them an A+ for effort!