My Office Has Its Own Ecosystem


Years ago Rich and I were talking about where to put the office for our nature toy business. We were driving by our neighbors house when we saw a handcrafted, pine, potting shed for sale. It was adorable, and we thought it serendipitous magic that we had seen it at the very moment we were discussing the subject.

That was back when we had money in the bank. We could randomly buy things and were busy fixing up our house. We had moved here in 2003 from California. I’m an east coast gal originally, and was happy working out in the woods, which is where we put the new office.

We hired a contractor to add insulation, electricity, heating and even installed an A/C unit.

It was perfect for a year or two, until we realized that the door was warping and would no longer completely shut, nor would the insulation block out all the air flooding in between the sideboards of the “office”.

I started making my own special adjustments, including a big fabric air block I used to keep out the cold air from the door. Over time, we caulked every crack with “Great Stuff,” so today, though warmer, the cute little office is looking a bit decrepit. And with all the cracks and openings, over the years, it has become a home to various critters.

In the winter, I hang mass amounts of peppermint oil on tissues all over the walls to keep out the mice who had hoped to nest in the ceiling. If you haven’t used this strategy, it works wonders. The best way to get rid of mice is to DETER them in the first place, and not try to draw them in with snap traps, poisons, and yucky glue boards.

In the spring, for whatever reason, a handful of bumblebees always hatch out continuously for a few weeks.  I will come into the office and there will be two or three bumblebees randomly flying around.  I shoo them out, and then, a day or two later, the same thing happens; which continues for a few weeks ~ them appearing, me shooing. This bumblebee ritual has become my intro to spring.

Office-for-Marjorie-RayOn the windowsill, near where I type friendly reply’s to folks who can’t understand why their Root-Vue Farm is getting mold in the winter, there live some little spiders that look like baby tarantulas.  They usually come in the summer or late spring.  The first year I kept meaning to get around to killing them, but, as close as they are, they have never once bothered me.  They don’t crawl on me or pay me one bit of attention.  Unlike the wasps.

Yes, there are wasps in my ecosystem too. I am not a big fan of them as they fly right towards my face without me doing anything. They rarely respond to being gently shoed away.  Mostly I open the door and hope they’ll leave as soon as possible.

There are big fat flies which appear from nowhere as well.  I just smacked one a minute ago and it fell into the printer.  Honestly, into the printer. Still alive, the gargantuan fly was buzzing around inside the printer and I knew I had to take action.  I don’t want old fly guts coming out on my invoices.

What else?  Let’s see, every once in a while I’ll find a tick crawling on me, but thankfully, not often.  Sometimes there are other, super tiny spiders which crawl around the bottom of my legs.  If I keep the office vacuumed, these little buggers are not too much of a problem.

Mosquitoes are frequent office visitors.  It seems they all take the same training program and learn to fly behind my right arm, hoping I’ll never turn around to smash them with the old paperback I keep just for this purpose.

Occasionally I’ve had ants, but not much. There are often little baby garden snakes that live near the doorway and near the little bridge to my office. One time I accidentally stepped on one and killed it. I felt bad as they do me no harm whatsoever.

Despite these distractions, I do my work, helping others learn about the ecosystem of the kits we sell.  Customers have no idea about the truly natural environment I’m surrounded with when they call to ask me questions about their roots and worms.


One day I heard a noise outside the window opposite of my desk. It was a slow-moving turtle walking by. I filmed him and made a little video about it, since at that time we had pet turtles ourselves. The video features my brother Steve’s music, (I wrote about him last week).


  1. Marje – I love reading about your life . You are a descriptive writer . Keep on bloggin’ Sis!

  2. You should start a “Tiny Backyard Office” movement. This is such a cool idea that allows for a separate private home office. I have a home office but even with the door closed I feel too accessible to the family. Being foot steps away from the main house would offer a more secluded and productive work environment. Well, as you noted, until nature decides to join me. I love that the theme of your office follows along with your nature toy business. Good branding opportunities.

    1. The separate office space makes a huge difference in productivity. No kids coming in and flopping on the bed while I work at my iMac (which I keep in the house). No sudden urges to get up and do laundry or jog to the fridge for yet another snack. The separate office is all about business and makes it easier for me to concentrate on one task at a time.

      The drawback is economic. It is expensive to buy a backyard office and maintain it. I have to keep it heated in the winter so that the fax machine and computer stay near room temp (well, Vermont room temp anyway). On the other hand, in the summer, I can cool down my tiny space rather quickly with a short blast of A/C.

      Folks interested in their own tiny office should check out Jamaica Cottage Shop. I love their designs, especially the Writer’s Haven.

      the Writer's Haven.

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