A tropical storm is working its way up the coast today. First thing this morning, the air was thick and still, like the world was holding its breath before it erupts in strong gusts later this afternoon. Unfortunately, it sounds as if we will not be the recipients of much rainfall with this storm. Now several weeks into a drought, we are in desperate need of rain. My body craves it, as do the vegetables and flowers in our field. Pastures will not grow without rain; the sheep at Slip Away are receiving bales of hay and grain to keep them fed. The air is so heavy, and I imagine a sweet release arriving with a rain shower, but it seems it is not in the cards for today.

Keep doing your rain dances, all.

Each week when I write the column, I like to browse through the Chappy Chats Facebook page for any pertinent information. This week it seems there is no news. A few free couches and a lost (and then found) dog or two, but that is about it. If you ever have news (or just a good Chappy story or two), please email me at slipawayfarm@gmail.com.

In the absence of other news, I will share with you a bit of the goings-on from the old homestead.

We adopted a little grey kitten several weeks ago and named him Cricket (or Popcorn, depending on who you ask). We call him our Porch Cat in the hopes that he will primarily live outdoors, using our large screened in porch as his home base. We have only just recently started letting him outside and he has taken to launching up our scrub oaks at a remarkable clip. He gets to a certain height, usually just beyond our reach, and then becomes paralyzed with uncertainty. Several times we have had to drag out the ladder for a high-stakes rescue. I can see him just now, up the tree right outside our screen doors, gripping onto a branch as the breeze causes the tree to sway. I think another ladder rescue may be in order.

In other homestead news, we have a very mean barnyard duck on our hands. He chases around the hens, running after them unprovoked and pulling out their tail feathers. When this happens, the rooster puts on a good show at protecting his flock, but as soon as the drake’s attention turns to him, he runs off the other way without so much as a glance back at his poor hens.

The drake will also chase humans, head out, mouth open, hissing, but only when your back is to him. As soon as you turn and face him, he pretends to be looking at the sky or searching for bugs (I think he would be whistling, too, if he could). We have even seen him boss around our old dog, who is considerably larger than him and has sharp teeth. Poor Baxley has been cornered before, unsure how to get around the overbearing, mean duck in his way.

We hatched out a new duckling this spring (to a mama hen who also had two other chicks… talk about a cute batch of kids!) If the new duckling is a drake, we may find a way to disappear the old mean one. Anyone want a curmudgeonly, sour duck? Or maybe we’ll take him out the pond and drown him… (that’s just a little bit of dark duck humor for you).

That’s all the non-news from Chappy this week. Be sure to check out the Community Center calendar for all the upcoming happenings.

Wishing you all a happy first week of August.