Sunday, November 29, 2009

Origin of Dwarves

I have been writing short stories for years. Some of them have been quite good while others have left much to be desired. Over time I have lost most of the stories, since I wasn't computer literate at the time of their writing and never saved copies. Except one story. The following story was published on the Tir Na Og website, a site for people who live and love the stories of the Fae creatures, many years ago. The website is now defunct so I republish the story here for those interested in giving it a read.

A Few Words on Dwarves from Ki'taye

.....and it came to pass that those of shorter stature and thicker features, moved away from the world of the People. They were a blight in the eyes of the People, these deformed of body, and were not welcomed at the counsel or the festival of mating.

They moved into the bowels of the Mother. Made her openings, and her dark holes, their homes. Great castles were built away from the light, and away from their birth home. Castles that were as deformed and twisted as their builders, and so a further blight in the eyes of the People; the People who were strong and tall and lived within the light.

They found an abundance of gems and metals, within their Mother's womb. Gifts to them, for being driven from their birth home. So they became the workers of stone and metals. Crafting fine weapons of war, and of peace, from these things. Jewelry that was never seen before and weapons that could not be destroyed by fire, nor by conscious strike.

Once more they were welcomed into the light, but only at trade fairs, and never in the homes that they had been born to. They became bitter and twisted of soul as well as of body. Their natures became dark and secretive. Greed was rewarded, but those born with gentle spirits were cast out and succumbed to the world outside...or so it was assumed.

A few of these outcasts tried to return to their ancestors home, but were looked upon with anger and distrust. None of the People took pity on them, as it was not a trait they possessed, and so they were forced to move on.

In their loneliness and preoccupation with survival, they crossed over to the other side. The world of humans; creatures who dwelled in their own fear and filth. Scavengers of the worst kind, for they would eat their own. These gentle ones were not able to return of their own attempts, so in ones and, sometimes twos, these gentle ones came to live with man.

The men accepted them but only slowly, for men were superstitious and afraid of their own shadows. The gentle ones, those we know of as dwarves, had within them the life spark of the People and so they lived for centuries. They lived outside of the dwellings of men and so became a normal feature of the land, as men, with their short lives, died and their children with them.

Each generation of men thinned the memory of the gentle ones' coming. Soon it was believed that they had always been there, though some of the stories told of their coming, but the young ones all knew that these were just stories told by their Mothers to frighten them.

As men grew to social maturity, or at least crawled up out of their own filth, the gentle ones moved closer, became part of the community of man. They taught the men metal smithing, but retained the magick for themselves; fearing that men would use it as their own ancestors had...for greed and angry retaliation.

They taught the women healing, and gave them hints of more to be had with the spiritual growth of man on the whole. Small magicks were passed on to those who would use them properly, the wise women of the community. The magicks of healing, and birthing, and the softer magicks of Mothers.

Those gentle ones mated within their own kind and their children as well, but soon they had become such a part of the community of Man, that by the third generation the children were mating with the humans. The older ones feared this would cause problems as the dwarf children would outlive their mates, but this was not noticed for many years.

The first to notice it were the dwarves themselves, for the line of man began living longer lives. The children of these matings were born with some innate magicks, though few learned to use them. The First gentle ones knew that their time here was through and so they retreated back to the bowels of the Mother. They became the dwarves of the Humans legends, the wielders of magick and the maker of fine metals.

It was forgotten that once, Man and Dwarf lived in the same community and worked together. The halfbreeds forgot that they were once of the line of Dwarf, for they did not believe their Mother's tales. Man retained the knowledge of metal smithing, and some few of the halfbreeds and their children became metal smiths; for they were drawn by their inner magick to work the metals. Thus some magick was returned to the craft of metal smithing.

From that line we have the jewelry makers, the metal smiths, the farriers, the engineers, the craft people, the farmers of the earth, and of course the throwbacks such as myself.

I am of the line of Dwarves, have known so for many years, but only I seem to know it within my family. My history has been lost, but I do know that my Grandmother was a throwback too, and she was an artisan....I wonder if she ever realized what she was?

Ki'taye

Monday, November 23, 2009

Alli-Oop!

Silly Chickens! For birds that can't fly very well these girls seem to do very well at getting out of their yard.

We replaced the 2 ft fence with a 4 ft fence. That kept them in for maybe three days. Then I would catch them hopping, with full speed ahead wing flapping, over the new fence. A trim of the wings help for another two or three days, then I caught Queenie jumping over the fence and landing on the exterior nest box. Of course when one does it they all get the idea and I started finding two or three getting out a day.

I added two rows of cord to the top of the fence, attached to the fences poles, which added an extra foot of height to the fence. Worked like a charm for two or three days, then I started catching one or two chickens out each afternoon. I watched and watched but they never escaped while I was watching.

Now as much fun as I have watching the girls go about their business I can't watch them from Sun up to Sunset, or I'd never get my work done. I was beginning to think I would never figure it out until PeterC just happened to look out the back door as the most recent escape took place. The entire flock cluster very tightly together at the base of the fence and suddenly one of the hens came shooting out of the middle, and straight over the fence, like a watermelon seed pinched between your fingers.

So, it seems the girls have figured out how to work together to get out of their yard. Fortunately, this technique only works as long as there are enough chickens inside the fence to toss one out. Once you get three or four girls outside the fence the rest stay put. Unfortunately, I have to come up with an even higher fence to keep their feathery bottoms where they belong. Maybe little concrete shoes would work.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Eggs!

Eggs, eggs, eggs! We have gotten another five eggs this week. Three yesterday and two Thursday. They are almost twice as big as the first one but still very small when compared to the store bought eggs. The colours are nice too. So far we have brown, buff, pink, and a lavender coloured egg.

We cracked open the first egg and found the yolk a deep yellow orange, which is a good sign that our hens are eating a good diet of grass, bugs, and feed. The shell was very thick, almost twice as thick as the store bought egg shells. Another sign of a healthy diet and a happy hen.

I got so excited by the first egg last week that I dropped everything to nalbind an egg collection basket. I used a really bulky polyester yarn and was delighted to find that the basket is stiff enough to stand all by itself. It isn't very big, but then again neither are the eggs we are getting.

I know it seems silly to be all excited over eggs, especially when this is the purpose for getting the chickens, but I really wasn't expecting eggs until March when the weather started warming. I don't know if it is the mild November, the extra 3 hrs of light we give the chickens, or if they are just happy to lay eggs. Either way, we will be eating a lot of eggs soon.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Weird Weather

I'm a bit late with this weeks post due to weird weather. Well, actually I'm late because I have been taking advantage of our weird weather. With the exception of the first few days, November has been very mild this year. We've had shirt sleeve weather for the last 4 days, making it the perfect time to get some of the leftover summer chores done.

Our big task this weekend was getting the spruce cut two years ago cut into chunks and split for burning in the wood stove. While we prefer to burn hardwoods for the BTU they put out, free wood is free wood and I refuse to waste perfectly burnable wood in the fire pit. As a concession to the higher amount of creosote in the spruce we will be mixing it 3:1 hardwood to softwood, and trying to use the spruce to start the fires but use the hardwoods to keep the fire hot through the day and night.

In other news we got our first egg last Thursday. It was sitting on the ramp into the coop when I went out to feed and water the chickens. The egg was tiny, maybe the size of a toonie in length...for the non-Canadian readers that is about 1.25 inches long, or 4 cm for our European readers. Very small, either way. We haven't had another one since but I still go out and look every day. I assume the warmer weather is responsible for the early egg too, but I am not positive.

Today is Remembrance Day here and I want to send a thank you out to all the people in Canada who have served their country with honesty, honour, and pride. While I may disagree with certain conflicts and our troops participation in them, I still honour those who have chosen to serve and have served to the best of their abilities. And while we are remembering lets take a moment to remember that our animal friends have served along side humans in every conflict be it as transport, bomb sniffers, or message carriers.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Ur -UR -ah-URRRRRRR

Well, it turns out Putz is definitely a rooster. He is 15 weeks old and discovered his voice on Monday morning. He seems to dislike diesel engines and crows every time once passes by the house. Otherwise he is a fairly quiet rooster. And, he is a beautiful specimen of the Barred Rock, but a rooster is a rooster and we have already decided to rehome him.

Luckily, PeterC works with a guy who has access to a farm, and the farm is willing to take Putz. He'll be going to his new home Saturday night. I hope he finds plenty of willing ladies, lots of goodies to eat, and a long content life as a farm rooster. I'll miss him.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Wow, Busy End of Week

This has turned out to be a very busy end of week. All the more so as it unexpectedly began Wednesday evening and is only now slowing down to a more normal pace. Well, kind of normal pace. I do have two different breads rising in the kitchen for supper tonight.

Wednesday, PeterC decided to go out and look at a horse that was being offered up for sale for an incredibly cheap price. He came home and was pensive. After some prodding it turned out he fell in love with this horse and was terrified to consider purchasing her and taking on the responsibility, but at the same time was afraid she was going to sold to the meat market. Yes, most assuredly there are people who buy perfectly good horses and sell them to the slaughter houses.

Thursday, PeterC was sick with a migraine. I actually think it may have been stress induced as he was awake most of the night trying to figure out a way to buy the horse and find a place to board her. I wish we had a place of our own to keep her but that is another story. We called a few local boarding stables and found one that could take the horse right away and would even trailer her for us. It wasn't the nicest looking stable but the owner knows horses and has broken many a green horse for riding and pulling. The best thing was the boarding price was cheaper than PeterC had feared.

Thursday evening PeterC called the seller to say we would take the mare. Turned out there were two. One was going for half the price of the first because she was crippled. PeterC and I discussed it and decided that the new mare would like a companion that she already knew and that we could afford to board both horses since the cost was so much cheaper than planned. The owner was happy as she had planned on selling the cripple for meat....a really shameful decision if you ask me.

Thursday afternoon I replaced the chickens temporary yard fencing, that was only 24" high, with a fence 4 foot high. The chickens had started hopping the shorter fence and heading into the neighbours yard. Since we couldn't afford to fence our yard this year we decided to use taller plastic fencing. We also made the yard smaller as this will be their winter yard, which I plan to keep cleared of most of the snow. Needless to say I didn't want to scrape a 25 ft x 25 ft area of yard. Instead the chickens have an area approximately 30 square feet to run around in. They also have the half barrels we use as planters. They seem happy.

Friday night we met the transport team at the boarding stable and headed out to pick up the mares. It took longer than planned as the transport team also had to pick up some other livestock along the way. It was annoying but it did cut the cost of the transport by half so it wasn't all bad. We arrived at the owners home just before dark and started the loading process. I had never seen more than a picture of the horses and was a little surprised at how nice they looked, even the cripple carried herself very well. Two hours later we arrived back at the new barn and the barn owner checked over the new arrivals and put them into the quarantine pen.

Saturday we went out to introduce ourselves to the new charges and sign the boarding contract with the stable. The weather was horrible, grey and wet, and it was nearly impossible to stand upright the wind was blowing so hard. We spent a few minutes talking to the horses and introducing ourselves to them, until the rain started coming down in buckets. I was under the understanding that both mares were Morgans but it turned out the cripple is an Arabian. A beautiful bay Arabian at that. The other is a chestnut Morgan.

We were supposed to meet the stable owner but she was running late, having had to make a trip somewhere. The plan was to let her halter and tie the mares to see how well behaved they were. We told her they were green, as we had been informed, and she was afraid they were to wild to be safely tied in the barn for grooming and regular handling. While I found the mares to be quite polite and well behaved, her barn her rules.

When the stable owner finally arrived, a couple of hours late, she dealt with some other business and finally brought us the contract the sign. She suggested and we agreed to leave the mares in the quarantine pen for the weekend as the weather could make it very dangerous, for us and them, should the horses get startled while walking over to the arena. We signed the contract, discussed taking riding lessons until we are both comfortable that we can handle the new mares, and headed home.

Today we went back out to the stable to spend some more time with the mares and to start their grooming program. We purchased brushes, lead ropes, a hoof pick, and a mane and tail comb to start with. PeterC plans to go out every day for baisc grooming and to get the mares used to being handled. I plan to go out on the weekends for a good grooming session and occasionally on the weekdays if he needs an extra hand for something, like the farrier visit or the like.

The horses were really friendly and quite well behaved. They stood well for the grooming and even seemed to enjoy it once we got the burrs and tangles out of their manes and tails. PeterC picked up both their feet and check them over for any major problems, thankfully there were none. The Arab had a hard time balancing on her right side but that was to be expected considering her injured right foreleg. We spent a very pleasant two hours getting to know these new pets.

All in all it has been a stressful few days; spur of the moment decision to buy a horse, then two; arranging for boarding and transportation to the new stables; getting to know the horses in such a way that no one, human or equine got hurt; and of course getting us and them used to their new surroundings. All that on top of the normal and regular chores that had to be done each day.

I'll be glad when we get a regular routine worked out even though it means PeterC will be much busier during the week, and we both will be busier on the weekends. Work never killed anyone, though my muscles are trying to tell me otherwise.