Author Archives: katharineotto

About katharineotto

I vote with my big mouth, boycott packaging as much as possible, shop with a canvas "Acupuncture" bag, read to understand Humanland, do as much of my own cleaning, cooking, gardening, landscaping, clothes making, and home repairs as possible. My home is my laboratory, where I invent things out of the dribs and drabs of inheritance from my pack-rat parents. I also conduct animal behavior studies on three chickens and a cat, who study me while I feed all the other wildlife that likes chickens and chicken food, including mice. Mice like to eat wiring, too. There were no mice when my rat snake was still around, but I kept losing eggs.

Confusion

Tuesday, November 15, 2022, 8:35 AM EST, USA. It's cloudy and about 60 degrees Fahrenheit, here on the salt marsh of coastal Georgia. Thunderstorms are predicted later today, so I'm outside now with Tweety and Speckles, my two remaining chickens, before we all have to take cover from sudden climate change.

For those who don't recognize it, the photo above is the US Capitol building, where the PowersThatBe deliberate what they believe is important for the political entity some people claim is the US government.

But it just looks like confusion to me, a mingled mass of varying motives, agendas, egos, opinions, and personalities who seem to believe they can wield power over each other and the world, but to what purpose?

As I sit outside here, with cold fingers, I hear the noise from the auto body shop northwards, a spot-zoned addition to the neighborhood in recent years.  Tweety seems oblivious.  She is standing at my feet, preening, as is Speckles, a few feet away.

Do my chickens, or any animals, concern themselves with the squabbles of the PowersThatBe in Washington DC?  Should I?

Some people think human politics is relevant, but I wonder if the threat of nations provoking other nations into war should concern me.  At 70 years old, I have seen and done plenty, but I have not seen or done war, except in small and petty ways, when other entities' fights affect my equilibrium.

And the machine noise continues, and the sun starts shining through the clouds, and Tweety appears beside me on this concrete bench, flies down, and is greeted with a flirtatious coo from Speckles, before she runs back and starts pecking at my sock.

And I now hear a military helicopter overhead, reminding me that this political entity, otherwise known as the US of A, is constantly preparing for the current or the next war against enemies of its choosing, in order to please those groups and individuals who derive gratification from spreading pain and suffering among those whom they've identified as adversaries--and anything else that gets in their way.

Have a nice day, anyway.

Today

Wednesday, September 21, 2022--I write a lot about my chickens, my perceptions, imaginings, and sensations, both in my hand-written journal and on-line.  My purpose is to communicate to the outer world and to myself, better to externalize the ever-shifting panorama of my inner reality.

Today is almost over, at 11 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time, in the US of A, and soon "today" will be a different day.  Just establishing the time of day takes time, and focus.  That's why there are so many methods for orienting oneself in a dimension outside physical space.

The weather constitutes its own dimension, although climate is not given the status of dimensionality in common parlance.  Yet with a temperature range of 30 degrees Fahrenheit today, weather begs for inclusion in our beliefs about reality on this Earth plane.

Curtains open.  Curtains closed.  Doors open or closed.  Windows open on one side of the house and closed on the other.  These are the adaptations required to maximize comfort this fall so far in Savannah.  

We are broaching fall, as the calendar reports it.  The calendar itself has changed over time and over cultures.  The measurement of time is the bailiwick of politics and cultural beliefs. Time is as fluid as the weather, hard to pin down mathematically or predict with certainty.

According to the Greenwich, England standard of measuring time, which begins tomorrow in fifteen minutes, in my time zone, but not for another hour a little west of here, the Earth's spin on its axis takes a mathematically convenient 24 hours.  Trouble is, the earth's rotation takes 25 hours, thus we have "leap years" every four years, and compensate by giving February a 29th day, to account for the fact that the earth's rotation actually requires 25 hours, so a solar year is actually about 365 1/4 days.

Natural cycles are perverse that way.  They refuse to conform to human mathematics.  The moon, almost a quarter the size of the earth, is just as unyielding.  Its 28-day cycle doesn't allow mathematics to control its motion, so we have fabricated calendars and clocks according to mathematical parameters, striving to create precision in the wobbly dimensions of time and space.

And now, it is 12:13 AM, EDT on  September 22, 2022, according to the latest version of the Western hemisphere, planet Earth's calendar.

Good night.


Squire, In Memoriam

Squire, my 11-plus-year-old rooster, died yesterday, Saturday, September 17, 2022.
S. Squire Rooster, Attorney, for the Law of the Land
This photo, taken September, 2016, shows Squire at his most dramatic, crowing joyfully, but in celebration of Toozie's death and release from earthly struggles.

I hope my Squire-wire feels a similar joyful release.  He leaves a sad but relieved human being behind.

I've watched Squire decline for almost a year, since Brownie died last October.  Although he continued to watch out for Tweety, spar with Speckles, and ascend to the top of the shower stall of a morning, if I didn't catch him first, he has been losing weight, and his crow was beginning to crack, as though he no longer had the wind or vocal dexterity to finish his five notes.

Tweety and Speckles are adapting, but they seem sad, too, as I am, because Squire is no longer there to guard and to crow and spar.

We all have to die sometime.  As I enter my 70s, I feel more acutely than ever the impending personal transition.  

Squire left lots of memories behind, memories I share, in part, with Tweety and Specs.  I see his memory in every situation.

I love you, Squire, and will never forget how you brightened up my life.  May you rest in peace.

Where’s Tweety?

Sunday, September 11, 2022

Miss Tweety Pie, my 2-year-old hen, has a variety of nicknames.  My favorite is "Miss Nemesis," for the goddess of divine retribution.

I only have three chickens, but this follows a 14-year history of chicken-keeping, and the asociated challenges that come with the territory.

In all, 20 chickens have passed through my life, but Speckles and his father, Squire, are troopers, over ten years old.

Animals make great gurus, says Seth (of the Jane Roberts series).  Whether pets or wildlife, animals have a wisdom that awes me.  
After the rainstorm today, which dumped a couple of inches in an hour, the sun came out, and I watched my six deer (mine because I feed them) frolic on the lawn.  Birds flocked to the feeder.  The stray cat I feed showed up for supper, and Coooney the racoon was looking to steal whatever food I might not be watching.

Miss Nemesis has no fear, but Squire watches out for both of them--when he's not sparring through the gate with Speckles. 

I don't have the words or the space to describe the joy Nature exhibits after a storm. Soon a gorgeous sunset, with brilliant orange sky, appeared and vanished while I was getting chickens settled and watching over the cat while he ate his supper. I saw the racoons--at least two of them and maybe more--scouring the deck for spilled bird seed and chicken scratch grains and other treats the ants hadn't finished.

Squire's tail drags when it's raining, but all the chickens love getting outside after the rain stops, just as the other animals, mosquitoes and biting sandflies do.

Ain't Mother Nature grand?  We human beings have the gift of the drama provided by all these actors, and we don't have to leave home to enjoy it.
Squire on his soapbox kco 2017

Drenched

Monday, September 5, 2022-- We had another torrential downpour in the wee hours this morning, but I was awake, resting from yesterday's relentless but individually petty demands on time, attention and patience.

The animals I care for and about survived the day, but I was worried about Speckles, alone in the coop, especially when the storm started, and Specs had no warming or drying light.

So I collected the basics of rain protection and trudged barefooted with flashlight through the deep mud puddles the 100 feet to the coop, to turn on Speckles' light.

But the rain was so heavy that I wanted to stay with him and wait out the worst of it.

Speckles, my first-born chicken, is a trooper.  He has had a traumatic life for most of his ten-plus years.  He will be eleven years old in late November.

Speckles with Toozie, my second and last- born, taking dirt baths, March, 2012, kco2012
Speckles with Brownie in the coop, 2017, kco2017
Speckles crowing, kco2015
I call him "The Screamer," because he has such a powerful and relentless crow, but he is also a cuddler, having endured my medical interventions repeatedly over our long relationship.  The worst was when scale mites ravaged his feather/scale junction so badly that the resultant ulcers were making it hard for him to walk.

I developed unanticipated veterinary skill in soaking and debriding the wounds, including holding Specs almost upside down to see the edges of the wounds and clean them.

Specs spent several winter nights on the floor of the coop while healing, and his consort, Brownie,  guarded him from her perch on the high shelf.

But Brownie died last October, at ten years, ten months old, and Speckles has had only Squire, Tweety, and me, to keep him from getting too lonely. 

Today, Speckles took advantage of the marginally sunny skies, by taking a long dirt bath under the guest house attached to the coop, while I spiffed up his quarters, in time for hurricane season and winter.

From Damp to Saturated

Highest tide on record, Savannah, GA, October 27, 2015

August 29, 2022– My property is sinking into the marsh. The roof leaks in so many places that I’e lost count, but my head knows how to find the drips, just as my feet know how to find chicken poop that my eyes don’t see.

Still, the county government believes my property is worth taxing twice as much as it charged a mere ten years ago. The county knows what it’s worth to them. Chatham flies its spy planes over my house on a regular basis, but the planes don’t see the roof leaks. The planes do know I live in a flood zone, because the local government has notified me I must obtain flood insurance, to protect my valuable piece of mud.

It’s enough to make me want to walk or float away, provided I can get through the swamps, maybe with an ark to carry my chickens and me. Let the county extort its taxes from the river.

Nature’s art. A stump in the Okefenokee Swamp, Southeast GA, 2000

My Life is Damp

Heat and humidity. The Now competes with my desire for comfort, for myself and my precious little darlins: Tweety (ladies first), Squire (now my senior chicken, who had a re-birthday August 25.) I brought him home from a central Georgia auction 11 years ago for Squiggles, who had gone “broody” and was starving herself for lack of a guy.

Speckes, son of Freckles and Squire, adopted as an egg by Squig and raised by her until Squire ran him into the jaws of a fox when he was six months old. Speckles lost all but three of his tail feathers in that encounter, but survived to put out his father’s right eye before succumbing to scale mites, loss of both spurs in attacking me, and becoming companion to Brownie, who finally died last October. Speckles will be 11 years old late November, my first-born, and a Sagittarius.

This is history. Now, Tweety is the queen, and Tweety has everyone wrapped around her mean little beak. Beware anyone who approaches any food she wants, or attempts gardening in her territory, or who tries to pick her up until she’s good and ready to cuddle on her terms.

Tweety has no fear of cats or racoons. She likes the roosters, and they like her. She has adopted Brownie’s habit of standing in the water dish on hot days, which may protect her from mites.

Mites, insects, rats, racoons, squirrels, mold, and mildew are thriving, too,and everything that can rot is rotting, or becoming brittle, like plastic, in this humid, salty, almost tropical, flat setting. And there’s the rust and corrosion on everything metal.

Climate change? Where is the climate not changing? Live long enough, and you may experience it all.

Flood. Ocean rising or land sinking? kco2019
Speckles (the Screamer) and Brownie in the mist kco 2016
Johnston Street flood. Savannah, GA. June, 1999 kco 0699

Memory Lane

One of my favorite photos, of blooming camellia behind palm, found by accident while I was beating back the jungle of my overgrown yard. kco2015

From the Museum of Appalachia, Norris, TN kco0406

The Museum of Appalachia, near Knoxville, Tennessee, is a fascinating working farm containing much local history.

Discovered in the library. It addresses land issues around the world.

I blogged “Who Owns the Land?” about this book on March 8, 2018. As I re-read my synopsis, I am impressed,once again, with Pearce’s comprehensive but compassionate take on the shifts in proprietorship of arable land over the world. This remains a must-read book for those who want to rescue the planet from the ravages of eco-warfare on a grand scale.

The Huaorani, an indigenous clan in the Amazon rain forest of Ecuador, threatened by oil mining on their traditional lands.

A compelling book by a journalist and investigative reporter who lived among the Huaorani, primitive jungle dwellers who live off the land in Ecuador. They are known as fierce warriors who have never been conquered. “Who are the Savages?” was the title of my blog posted February 20, 2018.

Blog “Like a Sphere in Flatland” posted on April 12, 2018 about labels for groups and their identifying characteristics. The book, “Flatland” was used to highlight the dangers of limited dimensionality.

Yesteryear

Rocky the Racoon, kco2020

Brownie and Speckles on the porch, kco2019

Folk art, Telluride, Colorado, kco 2003
The Squire-wire and Speckles sparring through the cove grate, kco2019
S. Squire Rooster, Attorney for the Law of the Land, making his position perfectly clear. Above it all.

Squire atop the shower stall, kco2015

In the Now

Balance of opposites. Each contains the seed of the other.

The ten-year span from August, 2012 until now, August, 2022, has brought many changes, but events continue to evolve and exert their effects in multi-dimensional patterns.

As a plant grows from within, lives grow from the inside out, governed by an individualistic blueprint that may adapt but not change its fundamental nature.

Thus with my life. As I note my 70th birthday this month, I read my personal journal from August, 2012 and feel the continuity of my individuality, even though circumstances have changed.

My introduction to chicken-keeping in 2008 represents the beginning of an exploration into previously unimagined worlds. Each day brings new insights gathered from the Now as it relates to the Then, and to the imagined.

Together, they create a pattern of timeless associations, just as any emotionally significant experience does.

In August, 2012, I turned 60, by the calendar, and this month, August, 2022, I’ve turned 70. I’m now a septagenarian, having lived longer than both my parents.

I’ve also outlived others in my chronological “cohort” and mourn the passing of people, pets, and conditions that held significance for me.

Re-reading my journal for that time stirs emotions akin to what I felt then, but these now have the depth of memories accumulated over the past ten years, the sorrows, regrets, and the longing for what once was but will never be again.

I have the Now and choose to appreciate the gifts it offers. At the moment, peace and quiet, with my three chickens safely roosting in their preferred spots, and the stray cat I feed having eaten a decent supper before Cooney ran him off and stole his food dish. Cooney is one of an apparent family of racoons who have found that I am a reliable source of food, for as long as I can keep it up.

This evening, I learned that Cooney may be trainable, since he allowed Squire and Tweety to finish their evening treats after I ran him off the porch. He came back later, all wet and muddy from a swim in the river, so I let him steal the remainder of Lollipop’s cat food. The cat is skittish, but he seems willing to share food with the coon, and he is particularly deferential to Tweety, who is not afraid of cat or coon.

In the Now, we are all enjoying this break in the heat wave that has made days miserable for everyone except blood-sucking insects and other vermin. The rats and ants are thriving, as well as the chicken mites, termites, mosquitoes, and flies.

The torrential downpours we have had the last few days have cooled things off and are good for the mosquitoes and sand gnats but hard on my Goodwill shoes, floors and rugs.

I was actually glad to hear and see the Malathion Man’s helicopter the other day, as he sprayed the marsh in a futile attempt to control the mosquito population.

The Now is loaded with inspiration, for those who are awake.