SO many eggs

The hens have been wildly productive lately, especially since I switched to a natural, fresher feed from J B Hullah, a local, independent feed store in Tiffany, an unincorporated little hamlet a few miles from here.

I’ve been collecting 18-20 eggs from 26 hens every day since late March. As of this writing, I have 37 dozen eggs on hand!

Beauty is too skinny

We abandon what only annoys us, take

our faba and melon alone and early

in such as light as the curtains allow, purchase

the weather from checkered gentlemen,

sketch lilies in the margins of unread flight novels

and barely speak of how our days went.

C’est la.

Take the print

from that wall.

It is far

too patent.

Hang it

over the antique

chifforobe, near

the finches.

It will echo

the colors

in their cage.

Our motives

are apparent

as the manner

of our shoes

is learned.

There is no music here

save that which winds

your necklace tight.

You twist a fingered imitation

of Moebius, strip gently

an oyster from its open shell,

tap your foot slightly

like your mother

and bemoan her

taste in stony gardens.

I tell another story, quit

smoking and wear myself

like a pedaled machine.

Say la. Oooh

this certainly is

the new man denied

before us, more ad

vantageous for the film

we’re in and simply

wet with worthy.

Pour les femmes

nous croyons, our visions

drawn by hands shifting

hairy in the softened

glare. A man is easier

to mold into a door

than to look at with this

much wonder. Viens-tu.

Tiens toi là.

Show us

the lighting

behind the fine

fine angles, the

lines pinched inside

the leanest shadows of you.

So blasé, the fat absentee

wiring a preference to the auction.

He is an artful office of rich

thick wool wound about the ankles

of makeshift lovers. They may

know a riddle and he wants

its name. We erase our faces’

creases with red styptic pens,

skin the peelings from our apples

and caw, when cornered, like mottled bitterns.

Oooh la la. She

is cleaner than a mother

goddess, but wanton

as a drunken peasant

at the harvest

festival, yet

finely so textured

and very well

mounted. More

than just a whistled

vision and brighter

than a primal

mask. And shaped, oh,

no demanding abstraction

or intrusion of colored

idea. No nervous

German this one; he had

a keen and steady hand

and placed on her

the correct amount

of breasts. Voila

mes freres, hypocrites

lecteurs. Ooh ooh and oh so la.

Tonight we buy.

We buy an ounce of odor.

We buy much and long

coats of favorite animal.

We want, again,

to endow our possible

limps with the lithe redemption

of hide. We cover

ourselves in the numbly felled,

in blacks and browns, in chosen

homes of nearly wood. If we

could see beauty as clearly as

the hairs we trim weekly,

we might stop bending

into magazines which ask

for nothing but our envy,

our awe, our firm pursuit.

We might lose then,

finally, these breezy lobbies

that make us wait, that play us

always, taut as catgut

across mauve violins.

What a palaver

these instruments

strewn about the band shell.

The minstrels of blue

have shut their lockers

at the station and left

whole gangs of echoes

to wander the tunnels, playing

fugues for crippled quarters,

cradling papered bottles

to soothe the din of afternoon.

A sad Selah. Our stories

are neither about ourselves

nor beyond our nailed ceilings.

There are colors

rawed in the hallway

and guitars in the kitchen

twanging inane rebellions,

the hits from days we surely

romanced or imagined.

We burn like flagged targets

in a blown sandy country

and scan the courtyards

for sculpted children

memorizing their phases of moon.

They may have lost their desire

to play as waves or sparks.

We dress darkly

and nothing of

the night surprises.

We mute its sirens by hanging

yards of grey-flecked drapes.

We count the roses

in a heavy delivered vase

and control the show’s volume

from the couch at ten paces.

We read of an emaciated carpenter

with awl holes in his palms;

he’s thin and set between panes

of glass, suspended in urine

and more than once named lovely.

Don’t bother to shock us.

We’re inured of shock, though

we know of bearded censors

and their casual cigars.

We are more than often

no more than amused.

What is immediate

we name knowledge.

We are politic, and can

spell, with some assistance,

abnegate and aesthetic.


more light.

We must

have light.

This is the art

of the lesion

on the classical

mask. Our


is a tragic


in blankets,

to cover

the darkness,

to illumine

our room at night.

We misquote

the whole

known universe

and mistake

the sublime

for fruit or time.

We haven’t begun

to define

our limbs’ uses.

LGD Puppies

Boz & Isla became parents on November 23, 2022. They’ve grown SO fast. This is from morning chow time on January 19th.

5 females are available to the right country home to people who are familiar with LGDs and have a purpose for them. There are so many restrictions at Facebook, Next Door, craigslist and other web platforms as I’ve tried to find appropriate new homes and owners for them. Too many people who’ve contacted me are looking for a pet and know nothing about these special, ancient breed(s) of working dogs. I will keep all the puppies before I let any of them go to inappropriate places & people.

Isla, a purebred Anatolian Shepherd, is a wonderful, first time mother. She is almost 2 years old, weighs 105 lbs and is 27″ tall. Here’s a picture of her on a warm day in October, 2022.

Big daddy Boz is half Kangal and half Turkish Boz Shepherd. He is 2 1/2 years old, weighs 150 lbs. and is 32″ tall. He’s very sweet and protective of the property and Icelandic sheep. Here’s a picture of him and the property he patrols from 2021, before I doubled the size of the fencing for the sheep and dogs.

Before Boz and Isla, I regularly heard coyotes howling at night, sometimes right outside the window. I haven’t heard coyotes in over 2 years, except occasionally in the far distance after I’ve heard Boz & Isla’s warning barks.

If you are within driving distance of Beloit, WI, have plenty of rural space with secure fencing, some livestock to look after, some knowledge of these ancient Turkish breeds, and a commitment to work with & kindly train them, send an email to

Read about these special dogs:

Anatolian Shepherd:


Turkish Boz Shepherd:


An abrupt abutment

of wide earth and broad air

is a line that draws him

without end to the boundary

of wide earth and broad air.

He plows a square on the plain

without end to the boundary:

the bent hedgepost by the sun.

He plows a square on the plain

he inherits and stares past

the bent hedgepost by the sun,

beyond the town, across the land.

He inherits and stares, past

an isolate tree and an elevator

beyond a town, across the land.

And on and along the horizon:

an isolate tree and an elevator

nothing save grain goes up.

And on and along the horizon,

the high hum from tall poles.

Nothing save grain goes up

from flat here. There is ever

the high hum from tall poles

from the coal mine to Chicago.

From flat here, there is ever

an abrupt abutment.

From the coal mine to Chicago

is a line that draws him.

This poem, from about 20 years ago, is a pantoum, a very difficult, repetitive & cyclical form of Malaysian origin. It’s an attempt to capture my youth chisel-plowing the flat, fecund fields of south central Illinois after harvest. On a clear day, I could see 7 grain elevators from my house and spent many hours in the tractor, turning up the dirt after harvest. It was my favorite job.

My dogs sleep in holes

Dogs like to dig holes. Fair enough. But this seems weird. What’s that poking out from under the dog house?

It’s Isla, resting in the hole she dug. Odd pup.

I’ve built two dog houses so far. Each time, the sheep have moved in and the poor dogs have to share their inside space.

Or dig deep holes inside the shelters where it’s cooler on hot days and they get some space to themselves.

Barn Swallow Delight

I have an inordinate affection for barn swallows. These tiny birds, weighing less than 1 OUNCE (~28 grams), fly thousands of miles from the northern to the southern hemispheres in early autumn and back again in Spring. They eat only insects, usually in mid-air, and their amazing aerodynamics is a sight to behold. I love to watch them dart, bank, and flit at high speed over freshly mown pasture, snapping up unseen flies and mosquitoes. Of God’s innumerable creations, they are one of my favorites.

When I was blessed enough to find and purchase this 13 acre place in the country, it had a very old barn with half the roof collapsed. There were nearly a dozen barn swallows nests in the barn, most likely built by 1900 (the year the house was built), and about 3 dozen darting about the little farm. Before I closed on the property, insurance companies required that the barn be demolished within 30 days. The barn was dangerous, with its collapsed and still-collapsing roof, but I hated to destroy the swallow colony’s home.

To replace the barn, a carpenter friend and I built this “swallow hotel” by modifying an otherwise useless pergola, adding a second 1/2 story to it, leaving openings for the swallows to use. I also sawed openings on both ends of a storage shed. I hoped to lure the swallows back to the original home the following Spring after their over-wintering flight to Mexico or South America.

Former pergola turned into a swallow hotel. Upper opening has an up-swinging door.
Rear view of the Swallow Hotel with vertical swinging doors.

I was delighted when 2 pair of swallows returned the following May (2021), despite the destruction of their barn home and built-to-last mud nests. They didn’t build new nests in the upper portion of the storage shed or their luxurious hotel. Instead, they built two mud nests beneath their 2nd-floor intended lodgings and on top of the front porch light.

Ingrates. Ha.

Front Porch Light Swallow Nest
Three baby swallows and nest beneath their hotel.
Baby swallows have left the nest.

By the beginning of October 2021, no more swallows. They had set out to their unknown destination, possibly as far south as central Argentina, ~5600 (~9100 km) away! The second week of May, 2022, 8-10 swallows appeared, a joyful sign of proper Spring in southern Wisconsin. They didn’t all settle in. There seemed to be some competition for nesting spaces, but at least 2 pair, probably 3, claimed the territory, and used the same nests built the previous year.

This year was a particularly good year for swallow reproduction. At least 2 broods of three were born and parents are nesting on at least 2 more broods of eggs this year. Given today’s explosion of the number of swallows on the wire and flying about, it’s been a banner year for barn swallows! I couldn’t be happier.

July 25, 2022. Delightful proliferation of barn swallows.

I had plans to make a small profit eventually from this small calm far. I’ve spectacularly failed to grow ginseng in the woods and, thus far, failed to grow and establish lavender from seed. I’ve also failed to market my very successful, organically grown, delicious garlic and Icelandic Sheep wool, but the wild birds are obviously thriving happy with their habitat. That’ll be fine. I bought this place to escape the city, to find peace in the country, first and foremost, and the numerous species of birds observed on my first exploratory visit convinced me this was the right place to be. Profit is so much than mere money.

Icelandic Sheep

Way back in 1988, after spending several months in France (where I was a migrant worker, picking strawberries and apricots — a unique experience and story for another time) and several weeks in England, I spent two days and nights in Iceland when my flight out of London was delayed because a bus load of Icelanders had been held up in traffic. This caused me to miss my connecting flight back to the states and allowed me to spend a couple of days in Iceland. Iceland Air — a great, low cost airline and the only airline flying to and from Iceland — was kind enough to house and feed me (lots of fish!) in a nice Reykjavik hotel until the next flight was bound for America. This is when I became enamored of Icelandic sheep.

They were everywhere outside the city, roaming freely about the landscape that looked like the moon with scant, scrubby vegetation. I called them “rasta sheep” because of their long wool that resembled dreadlocks. They were unlike any sheep I’d seen before: multi-colored, plump bodies on spindly legs, nothing like the off-white American sheep my grandparents raised or one normally sees in pictures of sheep.

So now, years later, having moved to a 13 acre place in the country with about 5 acres of pasture and roughly 7 acres of woods, I have a few of these calm, curious, hardy creatures.

A Welcome Recess

After nearly 3 weeks of frigid, sometimes sub zero, temperatures and consistently accumulating snow, the thermometer reached a balmy 45 degrees yesterday with the sun shining brightly. Finally, some welcome melting of snow that has reached an average depth of 2-3 feet.

Boz and the old picnic table that serves as a snow gauge.
Snow depth

I won’t call this a sign of spring. It’s merely a recess. It’s very welcome, though. Before the absurd cold stretch during which it was hard for me to stay outside for more than 15 minutes at a time, Boz and I would walk the perimeter of the 12.77 acre property, through the pasture, into and around the woods, as part of acclimating him to his new home and getting a bit of exercise for both of us.

We both had developed a bad case of cabin fever, limiting our outside time to short walks to the coop to change the chickens’ water, collect eggs, and check on their health in the frigid temps. Some days, their water would freeze within an hour and I could usually summon the energy to change water 4-5 times/day.

Yesterday, we walked around about about half the property. I sank into the snow up to knees with every step. Boz sank to his belly, but bounded on and was delighted to be out and about again. It’s hard work to trudge though 2-3 feet snow. I would have to rest every 5-10 minutes. Made me feel very old. I am old.

HughesNet? Don’t Do It!

What I think of Hughesnet in a simple picture.

Before I moved to the country, I knew my internet and television options would be limited. There would be no cable or fiber service as there is in the city. In the city, I used to switch between Spectrum cable and AT&T, regularly switching from one to the other when they offered a good deal and switching back again when the 1 or 2 year deal expired and the company jacked up the price. I played that switching game for >10 years and always had reliable service, without data limits.

The options in the country are limited to satellite or line-of-sight wireless service. I don’t watch much television and have never paid the exorbitant cost for cable tv in which one has access to hundreds of channels and watches less than a dozen of them, but I need an internet connection. It’s sadly difficult to live without some form of internet connection these days, especially when one has become accustomed to it over the last 25+ years.

Before moving out here, I did the research and found few options. The only wireless provider I identified was refreshingly honest and said their service wouldn’t work because of the trees surrounding the property and dense woods between the house and their tower. So I decided on HughesNet, a satellite provider. It was expensive ($70/month) and required a 2 year contract (before I had even tried it out), but the options that I had found, using the internet, of course;-), were few.

The internet connection itself wasn’t awful, but HughesNet put a brake on the speed of service when my usage went over 10 GB per month. It doesn’t take long at all to use 10 GB of streaming data. That’s the equivalent of about 2 movies and I made the mistake of using my “Smart TV” to watch a movie and 2-3 episodes of a history series when I first got the service. Within a week, I had used up my 10 GB of data. I could pay extra for more “tokens” to increase the amount of data, but I didn’t do that. $70/month was already considerably more than I had been accustomed to paying for basic internet service and television is an idle luxury I don’t require and can’t afford if I did.

The wi-fi was terrible, too. The HughesNet router had built-in wi-fi that was wildly unreliable and inconsistent. I would try to look at news on my phone or basic internet over wi-fi on a computer and it would be painfully slow or regularly drop the connection altogether. I could pay HughesNet another $100 for a wi-fi booster, but I didn’t trust that and certainly wasn’t going to give a lousy company any more of my money than I already had.

So I adjusted. I didn’t bother trying to watch any movies or streaming video on the television and limited the streaming video I tried to watch on the computer. Still, I went over the 10 GB of data every month well before the month was over. One night, some friends of mine came over and wanted to watch a movie. That went over like a lead balloon until my friend used his unlimited data cell phone account to stream the movie to the television.

In time, while talking to one of my new neighbors, he told me he used LiteWire, a small, LOCAL wireless company out of Evansville, WI (about 40 miles from here) and it worked great for him. I called them, they sent a technician out to test whether or not I had a line of sight to their nearest tower, and, VOILA!, he found a clear line of sight through a gap in the trees. So I signed up and everything works great, without limits or brakes or a long-term contract, the way business should be done. LiteWire is also $20/month LESS than HughesNet for MUCH better service with no limits on service. In the month that I’ve had it, it works as well as my urban internet serives, without glitches, brakes on data or interruptions. I bought my own LinkSys wi-fi router, too, for about $70, which works great right out of the box, MUCH better than the dreaded HughesNet router. No problems at all. I now have civilized internet service — city-style. It just works.

When I called HughesNet to terminate my service (and pay a serious “penalty” for ending my 2 year contract after only 5 months), the representative kept me on the phone for 29 minutes. He kept saying how they have “improved” their service and “guaranteed” I would be happier with it if I stayed. He never directly addressed the issue of a brake on speed when I used 10 GB of data and, time and again, wouldn’t take NO for an answer. Finally, he accepted the fact that I wanted to dump this lousy service even if it cost me another $380 and I had to climb up on the 2nd story roof to remove and return the dish receiver. Very irritating.

Don’t make the same costly mistake I made. If you move to the country, don’t choose HughesNet. They are awful.