Quotes I like:

“Not all those who wander are lost.” -- J.R.R. Tolkien

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Ahhhh warmth!

Well I have escaped the farm and the cold and am enjoying the sunshine in Florida.  Of course it did get cold here and actually snowed a little bit - just flurries the day after Christmas.  But it is now warming up and supposed to be in the 70's by Friday. Yippee!!!

I am spending the holidays with family and my 3 year old grandson.  What a wonderful way to see Christmas! This is the first year he really "gets" it and has been singing Jingle Bells -well not the whole song, just the Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells part. He has also been saying "Ho, Ho, Ho Merry Kristas" to everyone. (he is still learning to talk--sometimes none of us can understand him and I wonder if he learned speech from "Nell") But he is really doing well.

I got him the Polar Express DVD for Christmas not sure he would really like it as he is a firm addict to Sponge Bob but he did.  In fact I have now seen it about 15 times and it is on again.  Soon I will know it word for word.

Today we will go outside and play--maybe to the local playground, and enjoy the weather. Take the dog for a walk with us.

I will enjoy being here for the next several days until I have to go back to the frozen north. But I can count the days before our soldier comes home and I will be free to move on. I forecast warm weather from then on out as the palm trees are calling.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

It's 12 minutes past midnight

So that makes it officially Christmas.  I have my daughter, youngest sister and grandson all together this holiday which makes it really nice.  Things have been very hectic with travelling, visiting and the general holiday frenzy but we made it.  The last gifts have just been placed under the tree and everyone is now nestled all snug in their beds with visions of who knows what dancing in their heads. Of course the evening didn't go exactly as planned and was not as idyllic as we would have liked.  It ended up including a spanking for the grandson who decided to take off all his clothes and run around the house terrorizing the dog and tearing up the decorations. When told to stop and get dressed he responded "No Way!" and proceeded to hit his mother. This resulted in the drinking of gingerbread martinis on the grownups part. Speaking of gingerbread, my daughter and sister decided to make a gingerbread house from a kit today with my 3 year old grandson "helping".  At one point my daughter  had icing all over her hands and my sister was trying to hold the sides of the thing together so the house wouldn't all fall down. Meanwhile my grandson was happily eating all the candy decorations that came with the kit and licking the icing from the icing bag while everyone else was busy trying to get the house to stay together. I decided that was a good time to leave and go to the store for something I needed at, of course, the last minute.  When I came back the house was pretty much done and actually does look better than the photo above albeit minus most of the candy. 

So now all is calm, all is bright and quiet and I am enjoying this time along with a nice buzz from the martinis.  Ahh, Santa's drunken elves! I don't remember them in the Night Before Christmas!

Hope your holiday is great! Or at least uneventful! Cheers!

Monday, December 13, 2010

I am turning into a Golden Girl

Of course it is still snowing here.  The weather hasn't changed since last week-cloudy each day with snow showers/flurries/snow accumulation.  brrrrrrrrrrrrrrr

It seems that I am entering the phase in life where I am soon to be confined to a nursing home as I am managing to spill everything on myself.  I have already had on three tops today.  My three year old grandson is less messy than I am.  I managed to get wood ash from the fire on my new cream colored sweater and since I was already in the basement I took it off to soak it in the laundry tub.  I put on a clean, white t-shirt and proceeded to bake chocolate cookies and -you guessed it-managed to get chocolate on it.  Crap!  Off it came and down to the laundry tub to join the sweater. I then put on an oxford shirt as I was done baking and now determined that I could manage to make it through the rest of the day stain free. Unfortunately I was cleaning up the kitchen and moved a bottle of cough syrup that someone had not tightened the top on (those child-proof lids do sometimes annoy) and the top fell off and I managed to dribble red cough syrup down the front of my shirt. Oh Man!  Really?!?!

I wish I could chalk this up to one of "those days" and perhaps it is -a bit. But I have noticed that lately I have become best friends with Oxyclean, Shout, color safe bleach and 20 mule team Borax. I can't seem to eat anything, cook anything, or basically touch anything that doesn't wind up on me somehow. I feel like I am living in a commercial for laundry products and becoming somewhat of an expert on how to remove various stains from clothing.

I'm sure my kids think I have lost it and should start wearing a bib and being spoon fed (at the nursing home).
Some days I think the home would be nice. I could take long naps, watch tv, shuffle around in my bathrobe and not have to shovel snow, get eggs, check the cows or feed the fire.  I will let you know where they send me. Maybe you want to come along?

Friday, December 10, 2010

Mooory Christmas!

Just about two weeks til Christmas.  There is snow all over the farm, the tree is up and decorated and the kitchen has been producing wonderful scents of homemade goodies. Sounds idyllic doesn't it? Well, life on a farm just looks that way.  Now that it is cold there seems to be more work to do. 
The cows seem to eat more now that it is colder and they let me know when they need something by moooing - loudly!  I know when I hear that noise that I will need to trudge out to the barn to see what they need. They used to be afraid of me but now they are friendly. Too friendly!  I didn't know cows would lick you like dogs do but they do only but they are much bigger and have really large, rough tongues. Trudging out to the barn in the snow is not much fun. The boots I bought at Tractor Supply seemed like a good idea this past fall but I am finding that the deep treads on the bottoms tend to get clogged with snow and other matter (we won't mention what) and I gather this stuff up until I am walking around with a large, heavy mass under each foot which I then need to knock off to get into the house. I can never get it all off so I end up with a yucky mess that melts all over and have to clean the floor. Besides having feet that look like I am wearing snow shoes made of ice, snow and crap, I come back to the house with wet spots all over from cows licking me. Ewwwww.
We have to be sure to gather the eggs on a regular basis each day so that they don't freeze.  The cows and chickens need their water checked as it is freezing and needs to be kept fresh so they have water to drink.    The wood burner is going full time and eating wood like candy. I have to shovel the snow off the steps and walks and put down some salt.  Have I said how much I HATE snow! I think I have.

Well, anyone who would like to visit a working farm and enjoy the life is welcome to come!  There's a snow shovel, feed pail, and muck rake just waiting for you!

Monday, December 6, 2010


It started snowing on Saturday and hasn't stopped. It will never stop. I am doomed to live in snow. Ugh.
As I think I have mentioned, I HATE snow~! The weather forecast is calling for snow everyday for the foreseeable future. As tender of the home fires I am trudging up and down the stairs to put wood in the furnace every hour or so now that it is so cold. Good news is I can give up the gym membership as I have my very own version of a stairclimber.  I thought I was living in the 1940's house, but I was sadly mistaken. I am living in the Dr. Zhivago house.  I can't decide if this is the one that was covered with ice and snow and was so pretty to look at (ha ha--easy to look at from the comfort of your couch!) or the one where he has returned to his home to find the stove out and scolds his wife for not keeping the fire going.  Her father tells him that she lets it go out everyday while he is at work as they do not have enough fire wood.  I can relate.  The stack in the basement grows smaller each day and I am starting to eye the furniture.  I am trying to watch movies with the word "beach" in the title hoping I can pretend I am somewhere warm.  I listen to Jimmy Buffet and dream of islands (any old one will do) and boat drinks with little umbrellas. I can be very delusional when necessary! I would feel much better if Zhivago himself were here to keep me warm and write poetry for me.  Sigh.

Saturday, December 4, 2010


I was quietly performing my morning ablutions at the bathroom sink the other day when I caught a glimpse out of the corner of my eye of something running across the hallway floor. What? What was that? I stepped out of the bathroom, went to investigate and found a mouse hiding under a table. EEEEKKKK!!!  I managed to scream loud enough that any of you reading this must have heard me and I scared it back into running in the hall. I stood there frozen in terror as I watched a small, grey mouse run under the oven.  Oh crap. I had been warned to expect their intrusion but still I had hoped I could get through the next few months without  having to encounter one.  I HATE mice (and their larger cousins rats of course).  Ugh. I knew that, left uncaught, it would climb onto the counters, nibble on various snacks and bread stored there and create all kinds of havoc particularly that of me having to scream again when I next encountered it which I was sure would happen.  I also have a strict policy of not sleeping in a house that has vermin.  I just know that while I am sleeping they will crawl on me and I will awaken to feeling little mice feet walking on me. EEEEEEKKKK!!!!!
I remembered seeing some mouse traps in the house and went to get them.  This was war and I planned to be fully armed.  These traps were the old fashioned kind with a spring loaded snapping bar that kills the mouse when it tries to eat the food in the trap.  I prefer the new kind that are a box type where you can catch and kill the mouse without ever having to look at it.  (as previously mentioned there are enough dead things around here already)  It took me several tries and pinched fingers but I managed to bait the trap with peanut butter and hook the spring bar open.  I removed the drawer from the bottom of the stove, pushed the set trap to the back of the oven, replaced the drawer and set about my daily chores hoping I would not hear the loud SNAP of the trap being sprung.  I want to catch the mouse and  want it to be killed but I don't want to hear the sound. ewwwwww. 
Later that evening I decided to check the trap as I wanted to know whether I would be sleeping that night or not.  My daughter was in the kitchen and had heard about the "mouse incident" earlier that day. She is worse about mice than I am. When she saw me start to remove the drawer to the stove she ran from the kitchen and wouldn't come back until I had it restored back to its condition pre-mouse.  Since I had not heard the snap of the trap I was not sure I had caught anything, but upon removal of the drawer saw one grey mouse caught in the trap. At least it was truly dead. I have seen these traps manage to just catch enough of the mouse to allow it to live and struggle. EWWWWW!!!  I do not like to see these things.  I gathered up the rubber gloves (which I am finding that I can't live without here) and a wire hanger - always be sure you have some wire hangers on hand no matter what you may have heard in "Mommie Dearest". 
I DO NOT clean out traps.  I steeled myself and bent the hanger into a long handled hook, donned the rubber gloves, grabbed a trash bag and proceeded to reach under the stove.  I hooked the trap with the hanger and dropped everything into a trash bag.  After securing the trash bag and placing it into the trash can I replaced the drawer and told my daughter she could come back into the room.  Tomorrow I will go to the store and get the new boxy mouse traps so I don't have to see dead mice any more.

Planes, trains and automobiles?

On my recent travels my car broke down in a small town in North Carolina. I stopped in this little town to get some lunch, parked the car and when I came back it wouldn't start.  Of course it was pouring down rain and I didn't know anyone in this town or what to do about the car.  I decided to stop in one of the little stores that inhabited the strip alongside where my car was parked to inquire as to where they suggested I call about my car.  I was told to take it to a local place that everyone swore by.

I called for roadside assistance and a tow truck showed up within the 45 minutes promised. Unfortunately I was parallel parked and there was a car behind me and one in front.  I expected the tow truck driver to be very peeved with the situation and I tried running from store to store in an attempt to locate the owners of the cars to get them to move.  I have to say that the people there couldn't have been nicer.  When I explained that I was only passing through town and was going to be stuck there several of the shopkeepers offered to help. One offered to take me home with them to stay the night. Another gave me a free bagel.  The guy who owned the little wine and gourmet store gave me his card with both cell and home numbers and made me promise I would call him for "anything at all". And he really meant it. It seemed as if the Christmas spirit had really taken hold of the town folk. I was amazed and really felt blessed. The tow truck driver stayed around until the cars were moved and didn't even charge me anything extra. I was starting to feel like I landed in some strange Brigadoon-like place where everyone was nice until they all vanished the following day.

Once the car was towed and the guys at the shop had looked at it, they told me it might take a few days to repair it.  Somehow I expected this to be the case and began to calculate the cost of staying in town along with the cost of the repairs which all started to add up to quite a lot.  As much as it would have been nice to hang around the lovely little town, I really wanted to get back home.  I decided to rent a car and drive back thinking I could always get back to pick up the car later.  I started calling car rental companies and was turned down by several who either had no cars at that time or did not rent one-way.  I began to get desperate and started thumbing through the yellow pages for an option to get home.  It was too late to get a plane out of town.  The local rental companies were beginning to close as it was nearing five o'clock.  I decided to try U-Haul because I knew they rented one way.  I figured I could drive home in a truck if needed. Unfortunately they had nothing small to rent and I really didn't want to drive a big honking truck all the way back (7+ hours).  I was really beginning to despair when I got a call back from one of the car rental companies that had a car if I could get to the airport to pick it up.  Hurrah! I called a cab and we took off in the pouring rain for the airport. On the way to the airport the cabbie told me he had to stop for gas and asked if I minded. I told I would mind more if we ran out of gas along the way.  He pulled off the highway into a gas station, got out and then came back and got in the cab without getting gas. I began to wonder what was going on and asked whether there was a problem. He explained that he couldn't use his credit card at that gas station. I asked if it was a cash only station and he said "No, they just don't take my brand of credit card here".  OK, I know this is a small place, but what kind of credit card could he have that wasn't accepted at most gas stations?  Fearing that I would be stranded once again I offered to pay for the gas if he would only get me to the airport before the car rental place closed.  He got the gas and we took off again.

I made it to the car rental place in time to get the car and then had to drive back to the car repair facility to retrieve my suitcases from my car.  I hadn't wanted to drag them in the rain to the airport so had to go back and get them.  As it was still raining I managed to get soaking wet during the transfer of items from one car to the next. Cold rain had plastered my hair to my head and was running down my back managing to soak my clothes from the inside out as well as the outside in. As soon as I finished getting everything into the rental I took off on the highway for the very long ride home. 

I had to drive through the mountains in either pouring rain or dense fog.  At one point I was only able to follow the taillights of the car in front of me to know where to go.  I kept praying that the rain would stop.  Well, you know that old saying about being careful what you wished for?  It stopped raining. It turned into snow. The roads got slippery and the going was slow.  I really began to once again think I would not make it home.  A seven hour trip turned into a nine and one half hour trip and at 4:30 AM I pulled into the driveway at the house.  Whew!  I don't think I was ever so glad to climb into bed!

Unfortunately, the saga continued as the next evening I had to return the rental car to the local airport and it was still snowing.  Took extra time to get to the airport and on the way back we had to take a detour as there was a jack knifed tractor trailer in the road.  We managed to turn a 45 minute return trip into 3 hours.

Sometimes when you hit the road, it hits you back. Big time.  Think I'll stay home for a bit.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

On The Road Again

Well, the grass has grown long beneath my feet and it is time to go travelling again.  I will be visiting West Virginia, Maryland and North Carolina on this trip.  Ah, the open road! I love to hear that asphalt running under my tires! 

I left yesterday and it was snowing. The right time to leave. I HATE snow!  Oh, I know it's pretty to look at, but I still hate it. Just don't want to be cold and wet which is what you get with snow. It's just plain yucky to me.

Stopped in West Virginia to check on things--all is well. And then off to my one of my old favorite stomping grounds-Annapolis, MD.  For me a visit to Annapolis is like meeting up with an old lover.  Lots of fond memories and just a little heartache knowing that what was will never be again.  But the view of the downtown harbor and the boats docked there warmed my heart and the sea called to me again.  I have been landlocked these past several months and find that if I do not spend some time near or on the water I lose a little bit of who I am.  Somewhere in a past life I am certain that I was a sailor on a tall, wooden ship plying the waters in search of new experiences. To paraphrase the singing sailor, Mr. Jimmy Buffett:  "Mother, mother ocean I still hear you call, I've wanted to sail upon your waters since I ere can recall."

Spent the day visiting favorite places, doing a little Christmas shopping and revelling in overwhelming memories both happy and sad. Happy for all the wonderful times spent here and sad for those I have loved and lost along the way.

Even the throngs of Christmas shoppers and the nightmare of parking downtown did not spoil my sentimental mood.

I hope that this holiday season you have the time to spend with those you love--even if they happen to be a town!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Gobble, Gobble

Happy Day After Thanksgiving!  The turkey and I were stuffed!  Now is the time that overeating for the holidays starts-first with Thanksgiving and then the holiday parties, Christmas and New Years. I already feel that 10 lbs I recently lost creeping back. Except this year I am determined not to let it happen.  I plan to hide out over the holidays and avoid the food.  I'm starting by leaving town tomorrow to get way from the left overs. If I have to stay in the house I will hear the leftover turkey, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes and pies calling to me.  I can be perfectly happy working around the house and suddenly I hear the food in the refrigerator calling me.  "Hello! We are here waiting for you! We know you want us, come and get us!" I can't take it.   I know this seems extreme-running away from food-but I have very little restraint so I have to take drastic measures.  Besides I plan to exercise while I'm away.  Lots of walking (read-shopping), stretching (to reach things high up on shelves in the stores), bending (to reach things down low), weight lifting (carrying all those packages to the car) and of course some cardio when I run back and forth between the car and the stores. I did skip the crazy Black Friday shopping day today-it's just not my idea of fun. I don't mind the exercise but can do without the stress. It just makes me hungry!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

John Denver - Country Boy? No way

I'd ask what John Denver was smoking when he wrote "Life on the farm is kinda laid back, ain't nothin an old country boy like me can't hack" but I think we all know.  Life on the farm is anything but laid back.  There is always more work to do than hours in a day. A friend of mine who owns a horse farm once told me that she wished for a day when "nothing broke". She actually wished this for her birthday.  I would rather wish for lavish trips to exotic places for my birthday but I can relate to what she wanted.  I would like to wish that I could actually have a day where everything on my "to do" list for the day got done. This never happens.  I wake up everyday full of high hopes and plans for the things I will do that day only to wind up each evening with few things crossed off the list. Sigh.

And now it is coming on "HOLIDAY TIME".  This simply means more work to be done.  Folks are coming here for Thanksgiving expecting a wonderful, heartwarming farm experience holiday (think Hallmark card combined with any made for tv chick flick on LMN).  I will do my best to make that work.  I can only hope no one steps in a cow pile or has to help chase chickens that day.  We will do the usual turkey thing with all the trimmings and hope our dinner rivals a Norman Rockwell painting. At least I got to buy the turkey, frozen, at Walmart and we didn't have to go out and kill one and pluck it. 

But really it will be nice to have the family here.  Well some of them. I mean some of them are coming, not it would be nice to only have some of them here. (they read this blog-I have to be nice)

Of course following the big ol' turkey day is the traditional "Black Friday" where many of the family members are planning on heading out to shop at some ungodly hour like 3:00 AM.  One of them sent me an email today telling me that a certain toy is on sale on Black Friday for $3.  The regular price is $7.  There is no way in hell that I am getting up at 3 AM to save four bucks. They are already getting armed for the big day.  The planning for shopping on Black Friday is no less intense for these folks than what must have gone into planning D Day.  They are already surfing the Internet for any leaks available on things that will be on sale that day.  They are cutting coupons and reading ads.  A plan is being formulated on where to start the attack and at what time.  I picture them stealthily creeping out into a dark and cold early morning armed with coupons, fliers, cell phones to keep in touch and report to each other and copious amounts of coffee for the caffeine jolt.  Of course I will not be awake to see these things. I will be snuggled in my covers sleeping.  I have only gone out once in my life for Black Friday. One year my sister and I arose at 4:30 AM to be at Walmart at 5AM.  We got into the store and everything we wanted was already snatched up.  The lines at the registers stretched back to to the far reaches of the store.  I left with a $5 "vacuum" which was really only a dustbuster on a stick.  We were back home at 6:30 and agreed that we would never try that again.

Well, enjoy your holiday folks.  I have to go visit with Mr. Hainey and Mr. Ziffle now.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Carnivore Cafe

This is the least offensive photo I could find for this subject. I am giving the following warning as well:

WARNING: the subject matter of this blog may be offensive to some individuals (I know it is to me!) If you are with PETA or the SPCA or any other of these do-gooder groups, please do not read the following post. I do not want to be blamed in any way for the destruction of critters. Thank you.

As I have discussed in the past, there are these wild dogs who live in the yard.  They are not "feral" as they belong to the family and were asked to live here, but they are wild none the less.  They roam about freely and have tendencies to bring things home to the farm.  I am always finding strange items in the yard. Many times these things are:  unknown toys from unknown origin; trash of various types; parts to appliances or cars; and most recently half of a jack o lantern left over from Halloween. I have no idea where these things come from. They are just random weird things that show up. I spend days walking around with trash bags picking up this detritus and putting it in the trash.

Unfortunately, these dogs are also hunters and I have am routinely freaked out with the dead things or parts of dead things that manage to find their way here.  It was bad enough when they were killing chickens and leaving the dead carcasses in the yard for me to find and dispose of but now that we have managed to lock up the chickens they have taken to killing all sorts of other wildlife.  I assume they are very proud of their kills as they bring them to the house and leave them for us to see.  Sometimes the dead things are just left in the yard for me to inadvertently find.  This always freaks me out.  I am walking around picking up trash and suddenly there is a dead thing or its parts lying there. AAAIIIIEEEEEE!!! Nooooooo! I don't want to see this!!  Ugh.  So far I have found:  1) a dead mole (ok not too bad they are small),  2) a deer leg (?) can't figure that out-maybe was a road kill that they dragged the leg off, 3) a squirrel's head - just the head-oh yuck yuck yuck and 4) a whole dead possum AAAIIIEEEE!!!
I REFUSE to remove these carcasses. I will not pick them up even with elbow length rubber gloves. NO WAY!  The possum was really gross.  It was lying in the front yard. Dead with its little legs all stiff and everything. OH GOD! UGH! I hoped that overnight something would come and drag it off. Unfortunately the wild dogs must have decided that I deserved the possum somehow and they left it for me to find the next morning right by my car.  AAARRRRRGGGGHHH!  I had to step over it to get to my car! EWWWW!  I did notice that they had dragged an empty feed bag into the yard so I used it to cover up the possum. Sort of CSI-like when they put a sheet over the body.  At least I wouldn't have to look at the possum.  I wondered if his possum buddies were looking for him. I hoped maybe they would get him and give him a decent burial.  But maybe I shouldn't have covered him up. Maybe they would not come get him if they thought they might tamper with a crime scene.  I imagined a chalk outline of the little possum body. Ugh. 

I left to run errands praying that when I returned the possum would be gone.  I was happy to note that when I pulled into the driveway the feed bag was gone and there was no dead possum lying where it had been. I was beginning to feel that it was safe to get out the car so I did only to encounter the dead possum lying near the foot of the steps to the house.  AAAIIIIEEEE!!!! NOOOOO!  This is getting to be too much but I still won't pick that thing up. Well, maybe if I get the snow shovel and scoop it up. But then what do I do with it? If I just put it in the woods the wild dogs will probably just bring it back out.  Crap. Do I have to bury it? This is a lot of work. Where are the buzzards when you need them?

Once again, life on the farm not at all as idyllic as it is often portrayed as.  Give me strength.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Thank you for reading (unabashed plea for readers)

Thanks to everyone reading this blog.  If you are enjoying it, please pass it along to your friends.

You can leave comments by clicking on the link under each blog entry. I love feedback!

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Anyway, I thank you again for taking time out to visit with me here!! Please come back as I love company!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Lordess of the Flies

Life on a farm is nothing like anything you may have seen or read as I don't recall any mention/vision of the multitude of flies that live around livestock in any movie/show/book.  Somehow I don't think this was ever the conversation at the Waltons:

John Boy:  Pa, pass the peas.
Pa: Here you go John Boy.

I guess now that the cold weather has hit the flies are all looking for a nice warm place to spend the winter. Apparently they have decided to move from the barn into the house.  No kidding, I easily have killed 20 flies today. Luckily I have a hand fly swatter and am pretty adept at hitting the little buggers. Oh, wait a minute, there goes another one. SWAT! Got him! I can't stand the thought of fly paper even in the barn where it is used.  I think it is extremely disgusting seeing a long strip of sticky paper with dead and struggling flies all over it.  I actually think swatting them is faster and more kind.

I think that I honed these skills playing whack a mole. You know that game at the arcade where you hold a big hammer and when a mole sticks its head up you whack it.  Very close to fly killing. SWAT!

I wonder how long this will go on?  I have already been warned about the upcoming infestation of mice once the weather gets cold.  Really looking forward to that.  I am trying to make an agreement with the insects and animals--I won't live in their space and eat their food if they will not live in my space or eat my food. Seems fair enough to me.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Burn Baby Burn

Several years ago there were a number of programs on PBS which involved modern day families living life as they did in the "olden days".  As I recall there was one about living in Victorian times and one about living during the pioneer days.  The families had to live exactly as they did in the time period they were recreating which meant no modern conveniences.  The families had to actually cook their own food (including grow/raise it for the prairie families) and boil water to wash their clothes. There was no cheating allowed. Life was tough for these guys with no internet, tv, cell phones, ipods, etc. and made tougher having to cook everything from scratch, wash clothes outside, bathe in bath water shared by several and wear a corset while doing so. If I put on some spanks, I am there.

I think I am living in the 1930's house.  One of the family members here has gone off to war, there are farm animals in the barn which need tended, we scrimp as much as possible as we are in the midst of a severe recession and we heat with a wood stove.  I am in charge of the heat.  This is no small task.  It started out with the realization that in early fall there was no stockpile of firewood.  Of course my first thought was to call the firewood man and have him deliver loads of wood to the house, but that is not the case here in the country.  Besides in the midst of a d(r)ecession that would have cost too much. (oh, I forgot we are in the 1930's house-no cheating!)  We had to cut, split and stack the wood in the basement.  Luckily farm families are close and we had help of relatives to do this work.  It took three or four days and several cases of beer to haul wood to the splitter then from the woods to the house, dump it on the ground, toss it through the basement window and then stack it in the basement.  This was really hard work.  The good news it that I have lost 10 lbs since coming to work on the farm. Of course my hands look like a farmers--where is that bag balm??

Once the cold weather arrived (shortly after we had the wood stacked) it was time to build a fire and keep it going.  Now I know what they meant when they said "keep the homefires burning" as I do it every day. I feel just like Freddie Kruger from Nightmare on Elm Street as I trudge into the basement several times a day, open the door to the burning inferno and throw in more wood.  No one likes to go into the basement so that makes it a little more creepy. 

Regulating the temperature is tricky as best.  Most days I am sweating and peeling off clothes and that's just the menopause! The excessive heat from the wood burner doesn't help.  The thermostat works like this:  too hot?  open some windows-- too cold? throw more wood on the fire.   It took me awhile to learn how to make the fire last all night.  I draw the line at getting up in the middle of the night to put on more wood.  I will literally lie shivering under the covers and praying for morning before I get up and go down to put on more firewood. Just one of my quirks but I am highly adverse to getting out bed into the cold. I did finally find that piling as much wood as possible into the stove and closing the damper part way will just about get us through a night.  I am able to come down in the morning to some fairly substantial embers and add more wood without having to go through the whole fire starting thing again.

Well gotta go let the bread raise. I'm ready for PBS as soon as they show up with the cameras!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

The Cow who Jumped over the Moon

I had a wonderful day away from the farm the other day.  Got to go to a decent sized town and shop. Ahhh! Ate lunch out! Ahhh!  Life was good. Until we got home.  While unpacking our purchases we had an unexpected knock on the door. It turned out to be the farmer next door asking whether we were missing any Holsteins as he had two in his cornfield.  I walked out to the barn with hopes that I would see all the cows where they belonged, but noooooooo, the cows had gotten out yet again. 

OH NO! Time to round up (chase) the cows again.  I really didn't enjoy the first cattle round up and did not look forward to another one but what can you do?  The cows needed to come home and they would not be inclined to do so on their own as they were having a grand old time at the all you can eat corn buffet next door.  We sent out calls for help and quickly had a posse of cow chasers come to help with the cattle drive. If this keeps up I am asking for a horse.  If I am going to round up cattle I want to be able to do like they do in the movies.

With four of us doing the work we were able to chase the cows back home and direct them toward the pasture.  One of the cows decided he'd really rather go into the barn, which was ok with me except the door to the "cow" part of the barn was closed. Or rather the bottom half was closed as it is one of those doors split so that you can have the top half open and the bottom closed.  He proceeded to make a mad dash for the door and I had visions of an impending collision between cow and barn door. It is a fairly hefty door but I doubted it would hold up to a cow crashing into it.  I was screaming at the cow to stop but they apparently don't speak english so he kept running and next thing I knew he jumped over the door and into the enclosure. I was dumbfounded.  I had no idea cows could jump that high!  The door is probably chest high on me, which given that I am not that tall isn't so much, but is probably at least 3 - 4 feet tall. WoW! I guess that there really is something to a cow jumping over the moon!

Maybe I am getting better at cow chasing. I think I will need some boots and a cowboy hat soon! LOL!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Scary Halloween!

This photo is of Halloween in the good ole days!  When costumes were made of plastic and had masks that you could barely see through and hardly breathe through.  The days when your parents turned you loose on the neighborhood all by yourselves.  No mollycoddling for us--no siree bob!  We went out in the dark, alone armed with paper bags and plastic masks. But back then you knew most of the folks in your neighborhood. Most of them were your friends parents anyway cause we were the boomers.  Whole neighborhoods of kids that overwhelmed the school system and just about everything else for the rest of our lives.  We came from families that routinely had three to five children and we were a mob to contend with.  Imagine if you will a neighborhood of 25 homes with an average of 3.5 kids per house (no DINKS back then!).  That comes to alot of kids marauding about on Halloween night and most every other night and day of the year.  We travelled in packs.  We had wierd nicknames - not like kids now who have wierd names period. We had names that we could shed when we grew up if we were lucky enough to escape the monikers.  I had friends who I only knew as: Jelly Face, Stinky, Dolly (whose real name was Barbara but whose parents thought she was just like a little doll) and Little Dicky; which didn't mean much to us as kids but is a riot now. I do hope that kid outgrew that name!  We all had a rude awakening when we went to school and found out that kids had "real" names.  I remember my younger sister coming home crying that kids at school were calling her names. When my mother asked what they were calling her, she replied with her "real" name.  She was not consoled when our mother told her that WAS her name.

So Halloween 1961 was unbelievably different from now. Like a galaxy far, far away. We suited up and headed out as soon at is was dark and we had eaten our dinner.  We were all forced to take along our younger siblings, which we did not want to do because, according to us older kids, they were all crybabies and would slow us down from our quest to snag the most candy possible. My cousin won the candy king title one year as he was older and allowed to go farther than the few blocks we were allowed on.  He went out early and hit all the houses and then went home and changed into a different costume and went back out again.  As I recall he bagged enough candy to last past Christmas that year.  We were all astonished! But we still managed to rake in enough sweet stuff to rot our teeth out entirely in three weeks. Ah, yes, those were the days.  Candy was brought home and sorted.  Not because our parents thought there might be razor blades in the apples (APPLES??!?? who wanted those anyway-we tossed them aside).  We culled through candy and hoarded our favorites first.  For me that consisted of any and all of the miniature chocolate candy bars. Least favorite candies went to one side (MaryJanes, squirrel nut zippers, bit-o-honey and candy corn for me)-those were to be traded later.  Our mother then made us throw out any candy that wasn't wrapped as she was afraid it might have unknown germs from other people's houses (that is a whole other blog unto itself) We then traded with our siblings to increase our odds of having something good to trade. The little kids weren't allowed to go to the trading as they just got the "baby" candy--lollypops and things they couldn't choke on. Mom made us give them our lollypops and she gave us the M&Ms and other "chokable" stuff. Which was fine with me as lollypops in general did not bring a good price in the trading wars. Tootsie Pops were good but the other pops, particularly the Saf-T-Pops with the looped handle made of twisted paper didn't bring diddly squat. You would be lucky to get anyone to even take them off your hands. If you were lucky you had a younger sibling to pawn them off on.

The older kids would then gather the day after Halloween to trade candy.  Now this sounds simple but I assure you that it was as complex as any market day in Istanbul or opening day on Wall Street.  We had some shrewd traders.  We would meet at a designated place, in our neighborhood it was the cul de sac at the end of the street, and everyone would bring their bags of candy.  We would sit in a circle and trading would begin.  Now you would not bring out all your candy and show it off. No--this was like poker.  You held back on some of the better stuff for later when the trading got harder and the prices went up. At first the trading was fairly easy.  If we were lucky one of the kids had an allergy to chocolate and had to trade out all their candy bars.  Chocolate candy bars were the favorites and brought the highest bids so most kids did not trade theirs easily.  Everyone would start by displaying their least favorite candy.  I put out my Mary Janes, Bit-o-Honey and Squirrel Nut Zippers.  I always knew at least one kid who liked one or more of those items and could usually make a good deal trading 2 or 3 of my least favorites for something I liked better, like Tootsie Pops.  They were a good deal as they were still considered in the "Lollypop" category (lowly lollypops) but I liked them and was always glad to get rid of the other things. In the hierarchy of candy the trading went like this:


Apples, Popcorn Balls or anything "homemade" in general.  Most moms didn't let us eat any of this stuff unless they knew whose house it came from and then it depended on their opinion of the mother at that house (i.e.: I wouldn't let my kids eat anything from _____'s house. She isn't very clean.)

Undesirable Candy:

Candy Corn or any variety of it (little candy pumpkins, etc.) - no one really liked this so if you had any you were probably stuck with it. If you were lucky to have a kid who liked it you either traded some for something he didn't like or kept it until it got to hard to eat anyway.
Lollypops - you would have to give up 3 or 4 lollypops in exchange for one piece of a mid-range candy. Most kids had plenty of lollypops so they were hard to move.
Black Licorace, including Good-N-Plenty - not very popular but there was always one or two kids who liked it and would trade it off of you if you were game.

Mid-Range Candy:

These were the staple of trading days.  These candies were the ones that were not as popular and could be traded for something you liked better.

MaryJanes, Bit-O-Honey, Sugar Daddies or Sugar Babies, Turkish Taffy, Squirrel Nut Zippers--these were candies that I didn't really care for but could manage to trade off fairly well.
Red Licorace including shoestring, twists,  or bottle caps.
Candy Dots - the little colored dots on paper backing.
Kits, B B Bats, JuJubes,
Necco Wafers - we used to use them to play church with as we would use them as the "host" in the communion (there were alot of Catholic families back then) This is also probably worth a separate blog itself.
Caramels-obviously left over from making caramel apples

High End Candy:

Chocolate candy bars - Milky Ways, Mars bars, Reese's cups, Snickers, Sky Bars (always one of my favorites), M & Ms - plain or peanut (that was the only kind they made back then), Peppermint Patties, Malted Milk balls, Nonpariels, MalloMars, Reese's peanut butter cups (they didn't make the pieces back then)

Ah, the trading would go fast and furious until everyone was traded out. We would then trudge home with our sacks of candy and dream of the next holiday---Christmas! and more candy!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

I don't want to hear it

I have tried to enjoy life on the farm and not think about a) what is going on in the world; b) what is going on in my life or my family's, or c) almost anything else which could be negative in any way.  I have tried to take a mental vacation from the stress and worries of daily life.  If there were any sand here I'd stick my head in it.  Unfortunately, there is television and the Internet here so I do get to occasionally hear about the outside life. Not to mention that it is election time and the television is full of political ads which are negativity to nth degree.

It seems that the planets have aligned themselves to create as much havoc as possible now. In addition to the general upheaval of the country over politics, several of my friends are going through some personal hell right now all of which has been visited upon them by others rather than occurring of their own volition. Which brings me to the point--whatever is going on I WANT IT STOPPED! NOW!   I have decided that everyone has lost all sense of propriety, good reason, etiquette, fairness and civility. I honestly feel like we need a very large mother to come and spank a whole lot of folks for general bad behavior.  If my mother were alive today she would not be tolerant of the name calling, backbiting, mud slinging, whining, tattling and overall pitching of fits I have seen on large and small levels going on everywhere.  Believe me, I know how she would handle behavior like this---with a sharp warning which, if unheeded would result in getting hit with whatever was available--wooden spoon, hairbrush, ruler, flyswatter or just her hand. I don't know who raised these people, but it was not my mom. I remember hearing that a whole generation of children raised by parents who embraced the methods touted by Dr. Spock would result in some terrible adults. I think I am seeing them now.  Adults acting like 3 or 4 year olds on a playground.  If things don't go their way they will blame others, lie, name call, threaten, bully or have a tantrum.  I wonder where all the adults have gone. People who can sit down and work together to come to a solution that is equitable and meets the needs of the general good.  People who can hold a discussion on topics without resorting to screaming. People who can handle responsibility.  I am really tired of it all.  So in memory of my mom I have the following to say:







and finally:


Thank you mom.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Mystery Meat

There are scary things in the freezer here.  Life in the country means that food is often processed without the benefit of a licensed, certified butcher.  It also means that there is meat in there which is from "game"--mainly deer as these folks hunt. In order to prepare dinner I need to go into the deep freeze (that would be a chest type freezer that requires leaning into and routing around in) and snag a package of something to cook. It is an ordeal for which I have to be mentally prepared.  First the lid to the freezer will not stay up on its own so I have to hold it with one hand while trying to dig around dead body parts for a suitable dinner dish. I have fears that I will accidentally fall into the freezer, the lid will shut and I will either freeze or suffocate. Yikes! There is a lot of mystery meat in there as there are packages of meat which have no label and are in unrecognizable forms. (is this beef? deer? what part?) Do it yourself butchering seems to create interesting cuts of meat to say the least. And then I have to don gloves to do this as my hands freeze in the process of digging in a pile of frozen parts. I feel just like Nanook hunting for meat in a frozen land.

Now I have to say on word on hunting here. I am not against hunting per se.  There are way too many deer in the world and someone needs to control their population. I also feel that if you are going to kill the deer you should use it to feed people. Just not me. And please don't tell me that there is nothing wrong with venison. I have eaten it and, properly prepared it can be fine.  BUT part of the proper preparation means that someone who knew what they were doing butchered the thing to begin with and I do not know whether that is the case here. I don't even know that the deer was properly killed and not found lying along the roadside somewhere a victim of a vehicular fatality. Ok, maybe I am exaggerating. Maybe not.

Once I find something that looks recognizable I haul it up to the kitchen for the defrosting process. It is a gamble at this point as to whether we will have dinner or take out.  I wait with suspense for the meat to thaw so that I can then attempt to recreate my best impression of CSI by making a determination as to what type of meat it is and what cut it might be.  I often have to answer the question "What's for dinner?" with "I'm not sure yet.....check back with me when I get the DNA results".  Sometimes we have dinner and sometimes the dogs get it.  I am beginning to seriously consider becoming a vegetarian. At least we haven't started killing and eating the chickens in the hen house---yet-anyway.

Thank goodness for take out pizza!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Chicken Catcher

Ok, what is it with these critters?  You put them where they belong and they manage to escape.  I walked out to the chicken house the other day only to be confronted by a wandering chicken outside the coop.  It FLEW THE COOP!  Now I do understand about the whole free range chicken thing, but you see it is necessary for the chickens here to stay in their house!  It is not safe for chickens to wander outside as 5 of them have already succumbed to coyotes and wild dogs (well wild dogs which actually live in the yard).  Having already almost tripped over a dead chicken lying in the yard I am not anxious to revisit that event. Not to mention that I had to pick its dead carcass up and drop it in a trash bag for the garbage.  I know, I know, if I was a “real” farmer I would have plucked it and eaten it for dinner. Yuck-the dogs already chewed on it. Double Yuck.
So in the interest of saving a poor chicken and thus avoid my having to remove another dead one from the yard, I thought it best to catch the chicken and put it back in its house with its little chicken friends. It seemed to be wandering ever so slowly around the yard, scratching the ground and pecking at things. I figured that I could walk up behind it, scoop it up and toss it back in the hen house.  Ha, ha, ha—chickens can run really fast when something is chasing them. Not to mention that they run here and there, hither and yon, zig and zag.  I spent a good ten minutes chasing after this chicken with no close encounter of any kind.  Shoooeey! (this is a farming term I have recently learned) I needed a better tactic for chicken catching.  I called a fellow farmer and asked how to catch a chicken and was told that you have to sweep them off their feet. Hmmmmm-flowers? candy? compliments? No, I was told, you sweep your arm to the side of them and catch them by their ankles.  WHAT??? Ankles?? Where?? I can’t tell if they have ankles or where they are on their legs.  I thought about this and asked whether the chicken couldn’t scratch me with their claws? (I guess that’s what you call what’s on the end of their toes, that is if chickens have toes)  So I was told to wear gloves or to get a chicken catcher.  Yep, I exclaimed that is exactly what I needed-a chicken catcher. I inquired as to how much one cost and was told that they cost less than $10.00.  Wow! What a bargain! I can get someone to come to the farm and catch this chicken and put it back for less than $10.00!  My fellow farmer was now getting exasperated with me and explained that you get a chicken catcher at tractor supply.  Now in my mind I am envisioning a bunch of men standing around the front of the tractor supply store waiting for chicken catching jobs.  I remember that when I used to live in Maryland there were always a bunch of guys hanging around the parking lot at Home Depot looking for day work and so I figured that was what these chicken catching guys must be doing.  To my deep dismay, I found out that a chicken catcher was basically a long metal rod with a hook on the end used to catch chickens. You are supposed to hook them by their feet with this rod thing.  Fearing that the chicken would not live long enough for a trip to Tractor Supply, I attempted to catch it using a towel.  I thought that if I could throw a towel over it and pick it up I could deposit it back into the hen house; easier said than done.  I spent a half hour running around the yard with a towel chasing a chicken.  The chicken took off into the woods nowhere to be found.  I spent the next several days keeping an eye out for the chicken and did not see it again. I harbored thoughts that the chicken ran away from home and found another chicken coop to live in with other chicken friends.  Unfortunately I was sadly mistaken having found the dead chicken on the back porch a few days later where I am sure the dogs deposited it. I feel bad. I feel like I let the chicken down. Everyone thinks I am nuts as here in the country people think animals are expendable. They think they don’t have feelings.  But I still do. 

Sunday, September 26, 2010

The Mystery of the Missing Cow

I love a good mystery.  I am an avid reader of detective novels so am well versed in sleuthing techniques. This came in handy recently when I arrived home to the farm after a morning of errands.  I got out of the car and noticed a cow flop (pie) in the front yard.  At first I chalked it up to living life on a farm but then I noticed a second one slightly further away in the yard.  Hmmmmm, I thought, the cows live in an enclosed  area (paddock, pasture--whatever you call that place they live); why would cow flop be in the front yard? I made a closer inspection and the "flop" seemed to be fairly fresh.  I have now stepped in enough of them to recognize fresh over others.  Using my years of accumulated knowledge on sleuthing, I decided to check the barn and pasture to see if the cows were still there (very deductive reasoning on my part).  Of the two cows who live on the farm, only one was visible leaving me to conclude that one cow had left. (man--I'm good at this detecting thing).  The next logical step was to figure out where the cow had gone.  I first assumed that the cow could not get out on its own so perhaps the family of the farmers had come and gotten a cow for purposes I could not or, perhaps did not, want to know. I looked around the yard and didn't see a cow so maybe it was taken away.  Maybe it was cattle rustled! 

I made a call to find out whether the cow had been purposely removed only to be informed that no one had come to take the cow away.  I then deduced that the cow had probably not been rustled as most of the other farms around here already have plenty of their own cows and wouldn't need to come and steal this one which left the only other option----the cow had gotten out and wandered off.  OH NO!  I have no idea how to: a) find a lost cow; b) get it back.   Unfortunately I am not fond of westerns so haven't learned any useful knowledge about cow retrieval by reading those novels.

Luckily, following my phone call alerting them, the family sent two relatives to find the cow, which they did - it was in the woods happily eating whatever cows eat in the woods.  The two of them managed to chase it back to the enclosure where I waited with the gate open so the cow could be chased back in.  Who knew that you only had to chase the cow? Of course it did take two of them on either side of the cow as it wanted to wander left or right while being chased rather than be directed back to the proper cow living abode.  I secured the gate behind the cow happy to see it returned with the knowledge that I would not have to encounter any more cow leavings in the yard.  An inspection of the fence showed a place where the cow managed to knock a part down and get out.  This was repaired and now the cows seem to be staying where they belong. Thank goodness. I don't mind doing the detecting but am not sure I can cow chase worth a damn.