By Heather O.
Yesterday was one of those days.
It started out okay, and I was determined to make it a good day. I got up early-ish, and spent the morning snuggling with my son before he bounced off to school.
Then I spent the morning with Little Sister, and I got her all ready for preschool and me ready for a run. I’m making slow progress with my foot and leg, and managed to push myself to 3 miles yesterday. They were slow miles, interspersed with walking and some skipping (I’m trying to strengthen a leg that has some serious atrophy issues, and plus, it’s kinda fun. Don’t judge me.). By the time I got home, sweating and feeling triumphant at the distance I managed, I felt like the day was going great.
I was digging in the front yard, working on reclaiming a space that has been taken over by weeds, when I came across a furry little nose. I knew immediately it was a vole. For those of you who don’t know what a vole is, it’s a cross between a mouse and a mole. They look like mice, but they have sharper faces, and little mole-like feet. They are notorious for ruining gardens, and we have felt the effects of their appetite. They ruined a gorgeous lavender patch we had growing, and I’m convinced they also ate our lovely lilies bulbs that were my pride and joy last summer. They make their own small holes through the lawn, or jam on mole holes (which can ruin a lawn by their burrowing, but tend to leave plants alone).
I am not a vole fan.
So when I saw the furry nose, I called my dog over. She’s a lab, after all, and caught a mole once. So I was confident she could dig up this sucker.
And she didn’t disappoint. She stuck her head down and got to work, paws moving furiously as she chased the vole.
She didn’t just find one vole. She found SIX! And they were BABY voles. The adults were too fast, but she dug up all six of these tiny little things no bigger than my thumb. And while she demonstrated again her amazing soft mouth by picking them up in her teeth without hurting them, she quickly dispatched them with her paws, which cut through paper thin baby vole flesh quite easily.
In case you were wondering, vole guts are gross.
I was beside myself, especially after I saw the momma vole come sniffing out of her hole, looking for her babies. I felt like a murderer, a barbarian, a lumbering human who rejoices in throwing nature out of balance.
I made DH dispose of the little bodies, and had the heebie jeebies the rest of the day.
Strike #1 on my beautiful day.
Then I was cleaning the kitchen, and felt something crawling on my leg. I tried to shake it off, but then the feeling stopped, and I wondered if I was just feeling itchy and crawly because of the vole death. A little while later, though, I felt something bite me behind my knee. I pulled up my jeans and I FOUND A TICK SUCKING MY BLOOD. Yuck, blech, aaack, NOOOO! I quickly pulled it off and threw it in the sink and turned on the water to flush it down. Usually I burn them with a match, not for any scientific reason but because it’s so dang satisfying to see ticks sizzle. But this time I was so totally freaked out that I just flushed it down with water.
I turned to my husband and said, “NATURE IS GROSSING ME OUT!!!”
Strike #2 on my beautiful day.
To get myself back in a good head space, I started working on some strawberry jam. We picked 3 gallons of strawberries at our local farm on Saturday, and I had already canned some jam. But I wanted to get some more done. Plus, I had bought a new cool little canning basket that looked like it would make processing the smaller jars I use for jam much more convenient.
I must not have been in the greatest space, though, because I forgot a step. But, hey, when you have 8 cups of strawberry goo boiling on your stove, you just push forward and hope for the best (and remember not to give this batch away as gifts). I got everything ready, put the jars into the canner to process, and heard a tell-tale “crack”. I ignored it–after all, the jars COULDN’T be cracking–I had heated them properly and everything. And who has ever heard of a jar cracking while processing in a canner? Not me.
I set the timer for 10 minutes, went back to check on the jars, and found strawberries floating all over the canner. I still hadn’t put it together—maybe one of the jars had come open? I pulled the basket up, and found that not one, but TWO jars had cracked completely, making one giant hot sticky strawberry mess. And 28 ounces of delicious strawberry jam was lost. An evening’s work lay melting all over my counter and stove.
Strike #3. Done. Out. I give up.
I cleaned up most of the mess, but left the boiling cauldron of strawberry stew to cool and face in the morning. It’s now morning. I haven’t faced it. I haven’t faced anything, really. I’m almost afraid to leave the house, for fear of what will happen to me today.
But I’ll tell you one thing. I probably won’t be making any strawberry jam for a while. And I’m not sure I can look at my dog the same way again.