Susan Spess Shay

Still playing make believe.


Small World Chickens Vs. The Coyotes


The Spess Gang and most of my Small Town World is in mourning this week.

Remember when I told you about Dad’s chickens? He loves those babies! He’s had a ton of fun, raising them and figuring out the best way to keep them.

He shared a ton of eggs. He shared with his kids (yay!) his employees and friends.

shell-tiny And we all adored him for it.

At first, the eggs were itty-bitty, but they got bigger. Much bigger.


Dad and his wife discovered if the chickens got to range a little in their yard, they’d eat some green growing things and make the eggs even better and more nutritious.

So the other morning he turned his hens out to forage–all twenty-nine of them–and went inside to eat breakfast and get ready for work. A while later, he went out to put them back inside as he left for work when he saw something that didn’t belong.

A four legged critter with a furry tail. Coyote! She had chicken dinner for breakfast.


When he got to the scene, he found one dead hen, a pile of feathers and 12 hens sitting in the trees and other hard to reach places. Since one scrawny coyote probably couldn’t eat that many chickens, Dad figures there was a whole gang of them. (I’ve been told coyotes run in packs, not gangs, but I think street terminology fits here.)

One hen did limp home the next day, but that’s it. Only thirteen hens, and somewhere, not far away, a pack/gang/gaggle of really fat coyotes.

shell-2 We’re hoping to relocate a few wild dogs.


Yard Shoot

While we were in Arkansas last weekend, I took a lot of pretty-leaves-from-a-distance pictures. I never thought about what closeups would look like. Then I read a blog where a woman said taking random closeup shots of fall leaves was good for her soul.

I loved her pictures and wanted to try it. Our leaves aren’t that gorgeous this year. And I don’t have a ton of time for going out to find them.

When I came home yesterday, I decided to try it anyway, and stay in my own backyard. I kind of like the results.

See what you think.

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I also took pictures of my one remaining tomato plant.

I had two plants here, back in the spring. After they’d grown a while, they looked like this–

Then one of the plants ate the other one, and now he looks like this.

I keep my fingers crossed that he won’t eat Molly when she’s out playing in the yard. So much plant, so little fruit. 🙂


Hitler AND Attila in MY Garden?

It rained here this weekend, and cooled down enough for me to take a stroll through my back yard. Know what I noticed?

Things have gone wild!

Mainly weeds. (Grass that grows in my garden=weeds.)

Remember the vine trying to take over the world?

Attila the Vine? I’d planned to move him (or at least part of him) but with the weather as dry as it was, I thought I’d wait until fall. Instead, I wound him around a pyramid thingy he grows on.

There are so many layers now, I may never find the pyramid thingy again.

This is the best part of my garden. (The wildest, at least.)

The green pile on the left that looks like Cousin It on St. Paddy’s Day (Cousin It–Adams Family. Remember?) is Attila the Vine. In the back is a castor bean plant. Yes, they’re supposed to be poison, but I haven’t seen any little animals dropping over in my garden.

I planted it to keep moles and gophers out of my yard. And it worked . . . kinda. I’ve seen only one mole run since I started planting castors. It started in the middle of my yard and headed (can you guess?) STRAIGHT for the plant.

Of course, it might have been a mole who strolled up to the plant, saw it was a poison bean, dove into the earth and drilled away. (I’m remembering a cartoon from my childhood as I write with a gopher working under a garden, pulling veggies from the roof of his run. Anybody remember that?)

Now meet Hitler.

Hitler is a gang of watermelons. They, too, are trying to take over the world.

See the thing hanging on the fence to the right of the bean, next to a star?

There you go. You can tell what it is now, right? It’s a watermelon. Anybody else grow watermelons on their fence?

These watermelon plants are volunteers. I planted them last year, and they came back.

(Isn’t winter supposed to kill off things like watermelons and pumpkins? Wait. Did we have a winter last year?)

Anyway, this gang has reached out to all parts of the garden and they’re even growing over Cousin It. (I pull them off, they crawl back on. What’s up with that?)

This guy was stuck in the back by that star, but I pulled it out,

which MIGHT have been a mistake. I’m not sure how much longer the vine can hold it there. (I wonder if a sling would help? Anyone who’s just over a carpal tunnel surgery want to donate?)

I have a few melons growing on the ground, too.

They’re also growing down the wall at the back of my garden into someone else’s yard. Yes, there are melons down there, and I can’t get to them. One even split open. *sigh*

Anybody know how to tell when a watermelon is ripe?


Purple Tails, Sunflowers and Warm Hearts

Seems as if this was my first weekend at home in forever! When did summers get to be so busy?

We had a couple of uninvited guests run into the house Saturday morning.

There were three to be exact. Isn’t he cute? I love the purple tail.

I caught him with a paper towel and took his back outside. He wasn’t more than an inch-and-a-half long, and he was so light, when the paper towel blew in the breeze, it lifted him right off the ground. He held on tight though. 🙂

Another one ran inside and, when I tried to catch him, right down the air vent. I just hope he can find his way back out.

Remember this guy? I’ve decided he’s not a real sunflower (the bloom is too small) but I’m still having fun watching him grow. G-Man says it looks more like a sun-tree than a sunflower, and he might be right. 🙂

He peeked at me last week.

 And now he has that eye open.

I had to shoot up to get the bloom.

The center almost looks like a heart, doesn’t it? I couldn’t resist playing with it just a little.

What do you think? (I used Photoshop Elements to make the change.) Almost looks as if God made it that way, doesn’t it?

Sunday we celebrated Father’s Day three times. Once in church (where every day is God the Father’s Day) once at Sister Debbie’s house (she makes Chicken and Poodles that taste like Grandmother’s did) and the third time with our boys at Johnny Carinos.

Want to know the best part of family get-togethers (including my church family) for me? The joy, laughter and having time just to be with each other.

Warms the heart, doesn’t it?

How did you spend Father’s Day?






Happy-Face ☺☺☺

I got the neatest present. And it was a complete surprise! I’m not sure who gave it to me. The birds. My man (when he fed the birds.) Or God.

I first noticed Sunny when she stood about knee high, so I pointed it out to G-Man. “Please mow around it.”

He was happy to go with me on that one. 🙂 Pretty soon, we noticed it was growing with leaps and bounds. “I think it grew at least a foot since last night.”

This morning, I glanced out the window. WHOA!

I didn’t plant it, I don’t water it. I haven’t fertilized it. God makes it grow.

He does a much better job than I do!

It’s covered with buds.

When I see a field of sunflowers growing, each only has one bloom at the top. Sunny (that’s what I named this one) has buds all the way down the stalk. Does someone pinch off those buds so the top bloom is larger on the “real” sunflowers?

But I can’t wait to see Sunny, covered with big yellow, happy-face blooms!

And today at the very top–

–a crown!