Sunday, November 30, 2008

The source of that smell

My family teases me about my nose. No, it's not large or funny shaped, or even particularly small or adorable. My nose is just very sensitive. One might even call it HYPER sensitive. Some close to me think it's really funny to roll their eyes at me when I mention things I smell. Others simply tell me that I'm "imagining things". Regardless, I am known for my nose.

I can detect scents and odors where others will remain oblivious. So, when others in my home begin to mention that they smell something bad, I know things have gotten really out of hand.

But let me back up a bit.

When we moved into our house last January, I noticed a bit of a, shall we say, funky smell in what was to be my youngest son, Aidan's, room. I probably should have been suspicious when I found *this* in his closet:

It's one of those scented stick-ups, you know, that is supposed to mask nasty odors? It's stuck to the wall, about one foot up from the ground, just inside the closet door. I recall thinking at the time, "Hmmmm...the person who lived in this room before must've had really smelly shoes".

Unfortunately, this wasn't the case. The smell began to get worse. Soon, Aidan mentioned the smell, too, and I knew I wasn't crazy. Eventually, Jim, too, had to admit that there was, indeed, a horrible smell emanating from our 16-year-old's bedroom (and it was NOT the 16-year-old!).

Then we started to hear it, a rustling and bumping from inside one of the walls. It's an odd wall for a sound to be coming from, though, as it's the interior closet wall that extends into the room itself:

After running my super power nose along the entire circumference of Aidan's room, there was no doubt that the smell was coming from there. Then, the smell began to get worse. It took on an almost cyclical would go from bad to worse and then wane a bit, only to get bad again. Since we kept hearing the noises, I thought something was actually living, and had possibly built a nest, in there.

Finally, after months of trying to mask the smell and hoping that the problem would just go away, we gave up and, the other night, finally cut a hole in the wall.

This is what we found:

What is it, you ask? I'll spare you the extreme close-up, but this is what sixteen (yes, 16) dead and decomposing mice look like:

Apparently this section of the wall acts as kind of a "chute" that the mice are falling down into and are then unable to get back out. How do we know there were 16 in there? Jim counted tails as he pulled them out. Sometimes, it was only the tail that was left.


After thoroughly cleaning out the mouse CHUTE OF DEATH, we cut another hole the next stud over to make sure it was just that one section that the mice were getting stuck in:

Yup. No other mice to be found. Now we have two holes in the drywall. But wait...what is that SMELL?!!

Well, the upside is that we seem to have located and isolated the problem. The downside is that the smell is still there. Rotting mouse stench (known in educated circles as R.M.S.) has apparently permeated the drywall. Lysol, a constantly -running dehumidifier and plenty of ventilation is not even touching the odor. Now what?


I double-dog-dare them to laugh at my nose again!

Friday, November 28, 2008

A day in the clouds

This is how it looked all day at our house today. It felt like the clouds literally sat on our shoulders all day long. Yet, though the clouds did not lift once, this didn't stop us from fully enjoying ourselves. It was, after all, a day off from work and school!

All in all, it was a simple day. We slept in late, ate leftover turkey (of course) for lunch, and then headed outside to have some fun:

We tried to light our (very wet) burn pile:

but my son, Aidan, was mostly just engulfed in smoke:

Aidan then pulled out his childhood tire swing and hung it up (even 16 year-olds can still enjoy a good swing):

And my sweet farmhusband pulled out this:

It makes him really happy to rev this baby up:

I overheard some teenage chainsaw wisdom being imparted from the tire swing (this is always popular with middle-aged men):

Meanwhile, I delighted in following my chickens around while they free-ranged (they didn't mind the fog one bit):

Aidan, by the way, loves to chop wood:

Seriously, he really does. He loves all sharp-tooled, loud-engined, potentially dangerous activities. (Now, carrying the chopped wood to the woodpile is a different story...):

It's getting dark so early now. We'd barely gotten outside and it was time to go back inside. That's ok, though: I built a deliciously warm and cozy fire:

and served up the red bean and sausage with rice dinner that had been simmering in the crockpot all day:

I just took a look at my weather pixie and had to share this. Remember what I said at the beginning about how "the clouds literally sat on our shoulders all day" ? Well, take a look at my poor pixie!:

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Gentle Thanksgiving receives an incredible gift

As I mentioned in my last post, the Lighthouse Farm Sanctuary, in Scio, Oregon, held its annual Gentle Thanksgiving party last Saturday. This event is a simple, no-animal-eating, family-oriented, get-to-know-you affair. Its primary purpose is to share with the public the beautiful animals who live here as well as to increase awareness of the Sanctuary's existence.

This year was a great deal of fun and, as if this weren't enough, it also brought us an amazing surprise at the end of the day.

The new pigs, rescued from the Iowa floods by the nationally-known Farm Sanctuary and brought to us in Oregon last month, were excited by all the hub-bub:

"Say Cheeeeeeese":

And, yes, little piggies really do have curly tails:

Here's Jessie, the sheep, wondering why all I have in my hand is a camera:

The weather was perfect for the event - the donkeys enjoyed napping in the sun:

The llamas, generally quite standoffish, did give me a nod and an ear twitch as I called out to them:

Fyrefly always looks like she has something important she wants to tell me:

Roy, the gentle giant, stood right next to the fence the entire time, waiting for pats and carrots:

The animals love it when company comes:

Have you ever noticed how photogenic geese are?:

Summer, the goat, gave everyone a thorough treat-check before they were allowed to leave:

So, now, allow me to direct your attention to the lady inside the pink circle (that's her son with her to her left):

This is one of only two pictures I have of her. And it's purely by chance that I got the two that I did at all. You see, we've never met this woman before. At the time I took this picture, she was no different from any of the other kind people to visit the farm that day. She arrived quietly, took a tour of the farm, visited with the animals and, when she was finished, introduced herself to Wayne and presented him with a $10,000 donation check. I am not kidding. This woman is my hero. I can't even begin to tell you how much the Lighthouse Farm needed this money. This incredibly generous donation will help to not only care for all the animals over the coming winter, but allow us to make some much needed additions and improvements to fencing and shelter as well. Incredible.

I wish everyone a safe and happy Thanksgiving that is full of smiles and laughter!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Lighthouse Farm Sanctuary Gentle Thanksgiving & Pig Party

If you just happen to be in the northwest Oregon area this Saturday and are looking for a fun family activity to participate in...

From the press release and website:

Join us this Saturday, November 22, 2008 at the Lighthouse Farm Sanctuary, 36831 Richardson Gap Rd., Scio, OR 97374 from 12:00PM to 3:00PM.

Help us celebrate a “Gentle Thanksgiving” by honoring the formerly abused and neglected farm animals now living at the Sanctuary. Meet our latest arrivals – Pepper and Jacks, victims of starvation, and Rosebud and her family of piglets who survived the Iowa floods.

Enjoy hot apple cider, tea, muffins and other goodies. Most important, don’t forget to bring apples and carrots for the animals.

This event is free to the public and is our way of thanking our supporters and letting our animal ambassadors show their appreciation for your generosity.
For more information regarding this press release, please contact Wayne Geiger, President, Lighthouse Farm Sanctuary at 360.394.4486 or

Wordless Wednesday: What I see when I look down

Monday, November 17, 2008

Pistol's happy day

Sometimes really lucky things happen. Often, there is no explaining that luck when it happens, so I've learned to accept it, be thankful for it, and try not to question it too much.

Case in point: Pistol the donkey. As you will recall, he was the last remaining Peaceful Valley donkey at Critter Farm, as the rest of his pals had found forever homes with new adoptive parents. Just as I was really starting to worry about him being alone, one of my earlier donkey adoptive parents called to give me an update on things. When I mentioned that Ian and Brownie had been adopted, he immediately zeroed in on the fact that Pistol was going to be alone. Almost instantly, he expressed interest in adopting him. (I *love* donkey people!!!)

As if that in itself is not a great thing, the best part of this story is that Pistol has gone to live with Sarah and Holly, the two bonded jennys who I adopted out in August!

I tried not to take it personally, but Pistol was ready to go. He was done being an only child:

"Is that a diesel truck engine I hear?"

Andy and Carrie have gotten the backing-in routine down pat:

What a difference this trailer loading event was from Brownie and Ian's! Once Pistol caught whiff of Andy's sweatshirt (Andy had just finished brushing the girls a few hours earlier), Pistol practically walked into the trailer on his own:

"Let's go, already!"

Andy and Carrie are very happy to have Pistol join them at their property near the Oregon coast:

...and are much more relaxed donkey parents this second time around:

Once Pistol arrived at his new home, Andy and Carrie were quick to send me a very funny photo update. The following pictures are some of the ones they sent.(Below captions provided by Andy...)

This is when we got Pistol home. He spent some time wandering around the property:

These are some curious faces….I think they are excited to say the least:

More curiosity and wondering who the “new guy” is at school. Hehehehe:

“I like it here…Just not so much the rain!!!” - Pistol. :

Nothing like a good ole fashioned butt scratchin’:

First feeding. Letting them all see each other:

Morning feeding. There was very little shoving. Mostly eating. We took them to a more open space out of the rain:

"Hi Sarah!! Wanna meet later in the barn???":

"Holly, have I told you lately just how beautiful your eyes are???":

"Hope you two like eating MY BREAKFAST!!!":

"Goats??? We have GOATS to play with??? AWESOME!!!":

"Holly…This isn’t Lady and the Tramp…If you wanna kiss, just ask":

"Look Sarah…there’s enough of me to go around. I got mad skills. Promise.":

Thank you so much, Carrie and Andy!
I think Pistol is going to be just fine. :-)

And first six foster donkeys have all been successfully adopted out to wonderful forever homes. While the goal always was to find permanent homes for these beautiful animals, I never imagined that it would take me less than six months to do so. Donkey people are very special people, indeed.

If you are interested, you can read some highlights from my first time as a Satellite Adoption Center donkey foster mama for Peaceful Valley Donkey Rescue below:

5/24/08: T'was the night before donkeys...

5/26/08: Donkeys for Danni

6/09/08: Introducing....the donkeys of Critter Farm

7/19/08: And then there were five...

8/29/08: And then there were three...

10/02/08: And then there was one...