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How I Spent My Summer Vacation Two/Backyard Barnyard

“I don’t know which is more discouraging, literature or chickens.” – E. B. White

This is the second post about the summer of 2020, a summer spent chiefly at home during the time of COVID-19. Except for occasional grocery trips, visiting my mother, or a trip to the wide open beach, we have been home. I’m putting together two or five posts about this time to document this Home Time, with a keen focus on the silver linings of the situation. This post is about our physical space, a small gentleman’s farm we share with chickens, alpacas, goats, doves, a peacock, and a lot of backyard birds. You can read more about my husband and me and our little farm in the first post in the series.

The video above includes the storm’s fast moving clouds over the roof of the front of the house and heavy rain and thunder as viewed from my summer pottery studio. I’ll write about the studio in a future post.  Other future posts will include family connections and my husband’s recent hobby, all with a focus on the silver linings found in pandemic quarantine – or – Home Time.

Side yard with chicken coop


It is appropriate to begin with chickens because they brought joy to teaching last spring with the Make A Chicken project after we brought home a new batch of chicks in mid-April. They’ve been growing like crazy this summer as you can see in the following photos:

Chicks in April
Chickens in August

Of all these beautiful chickens, one I admire is Snowy, named for her white coloration, which stands out among the still beautiful rusts and golds of the other chickens.


We have four other hens, who we count on for eggs, that reside in the coop attached to the main barn. Our peacock, Lapis Lazuli, lives there, too. Lapis is the last of four peafowl we’ve had over the years. He is one of the original two males and female we bought several years ago. The female, Cerulean, hatched one peachick we named Krishna, after one of my students (from India) suggested the name because the Hindu deity of the same name always wears a peacock feather in his crown. Our Krishna’s father, Pavone, was the first to die and he was followed within a few years by Cerulean and then Krishna. Lapis is getting older, and each year we can see it in the sparseness of tail feathers and uneven display. He is still beautiful, however, as you can see here:

Lapis Lazuli

Aging but still splendid, he is the inspiration for my Peacock Room, a former guest room, now doing duty as my remote teaching classroom.

What I see while Zooming
What everyone else sees while we’re Zooming

One of the best times of the day while teaching remotely is the mid-day lunch break when I can stroll around the farm checking in on the plants and animals. These are our barnyard friends:

Alpacas: Andy Warhol, Man Ray, Ivanhohhoho
Goats: Frida Kahlo & Judy Chicago

The alpacas started the summer with more wool on their backs than usual due to our shearer not being able to travel due to the pandemic.

Needing a hair cut

Finally in early June they were able to be sheared. Shearing day is always a busy day on the farm. And it ends with the alpacas feeling a little underdressed and shy.

Shearing day before and after

The two goats are always eager for snacks, especially those offered by sweet grandnieces:

Gemma and Judy
Gianna with Ivanhohoho and Judy
Josslyn with Ivanhohoho
Gemma with Judy and Frida

Along with our barnyard animals, we always have many backyard visitors, most of them with wings. While I love them all, especially those with bright colors, my favorite are the hummingbirds:

Hummingbird soaring
Hummingbirds at rest
Hummingbirds in flight

We feed the birds year round, and they are a delight no matter the time of year. Here are some brightly colored Orioles, Grackles, and Cardinals!

Baltimore Oriole (male)
Baltimore Oriole (female)

And on really special moments, I catch the Cardinals feeding each other and they look like they’re kissing:

This Home Time has provided a great opportunity to enjoy and appreciate the birds and the beasts in our backyard. Taking photos is a rewarding hobby as well. It enables me to relive the moments and the memories. I wonder if down the road, kids in schools and historians will take a look back at what we were doing during this time. Not the politics and pandemic, but the human interest side of things. How were people spending their time? As long as this electronic media survives, this series can shed light on what was happening in my backyard at least. Whiling the hours with the birds and the beasts, camera in hand, and always looking for those silver linings.

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