Thursday, September 30, 2010

Some people probably should not get a tattoo

Kelly, in Georgia, shared this on Facebook.  


More about debit cards

Dave Ramsey is quite the champion of debit cards.  He doesn't want people using a credit card, even if they carry a zero balance, for the simple reason that most people will buy more with a credit card than they would with a debit card.  I'm pretty sure that's true of me; I'll be using cash whenever possible.  Here's what Dave has to say about debit card safety.  The print shows up small on my monitor; if it's too small for you to read, just do ctrl/+ until it's easy to read.


Think a credit card is safer to use than a debit card? Most people do. They convince themselves that credit cards carry a better track record, and you're less likely to have your money stolen from you when you use a credit card. Sadly, those people are wrong.

Credit cards carry a huge risk of allowing the user to incur debt. Debit cards force you to pay with money you already have. If you hold a debit card from a well-known name like Visa or MasterCard, it will have the same policy about unauthorized charges that credit cards have. Don't fool yourself into thinking that credit cards are the "safe" way to go. They'll only get you into trouble and force you to make payments.
Debit cards are being used at an all-time high today and are used more often than credit cards. Last year debit card use exceeded a trillion dollars. That's a lot of people using debit cards! Although we like to see the increase of debit cards versus credit cards, we still want to make sure you're being careful with your debit card.
Since a debit card is directly linked to your bank account, it's a convenient way to purchase things without incurring debt. When you use a debit card, the money is immediately withdrawn from your account, which means no interest, late fees, over-the-limit fees or annual fees—all good things to help you avoid debt. Debit cards are also great to use because they don't require you to carry cash or write a check.

Know your PIN.

When you make a purchase with your debit card, you should have the choice of running it as a debit or credit purchase. Always choose credit. Credit? Yes. This will insure that you are protected by the card company's zero-liability policy—you will not be responsible for unauthorized transactions. If you have to use your PIN, be sure to memorize your PIN and never carry it with you. Report lost cards immediately, change your PIN frequently, and use your debit card only if you must.

Check bank statements.

To insure that no one but you is using your debit card, check your bank statements online every day. It may seem tedious, but it's better than someone stealing your money. Be sure your internet connection and computer are secure before logging into your personal information. If you spot anything suspicious, call your bank immediately.

Watch your debit card.

Keep your eyes on your debit card when transactions are taking place. It should be within your sight at all times. Once the card leaves your view, anyone has access to your card information and ultimately your bank account. That's why it's always best to use cash!

Check your credit report.

Every year you can order a free credit report from each of the three nationwide consumer credit reporting companies (one per company so you really get three a year). Do it! If you think someone used your debit card, report it to the credit bureau immediately and request a copy of your credit report. Monitoring it regularly will help cut down on any illegal activities.

Be on the lookout.

The latest scam involves criminals attaching "skimmers" to card-swiping devices and gaining access to your personal information and bank account. If a card-swiper looks questionable, don't use it. Never use an unbranded ATM.

With all that being said, I will still be using a credit card online.  There is too much information out there saying you should not use debit cards for an Internet purchase.  I will only use the credit card, however, if I have the money in the bank; that way I can go online and pay it within a day or two, whenever it shows up on my account.  Of course, with many of my purchases I use Paypal, which comes directly out of my bank account.  That's ideal, because I am spending money that I actually have.  
To see why Dave doesn't want us using credit cards at all, click HERE.


Wednesday, September 29, 2010

How much do you know about religion?

There's this atheist woman who has a a blog.  I would link to her, but since she deletes my comments, I refuse to do that.  She thinks SHE is an outcast?  Well, she rejected me, so I know the feeling.    
Anyhow...
She found a quiz that is supposed to tell you how wise you are about religions.  
I took it and got fifteen out of fifteen.  I would have aced this test when I was twenty years old, for pete's sake.  
There are questions about the Muslim religion and the Jewish religion.  This is no problem to me, since I have blogger friends of both faiths.  OK, my Jewish friend isn't all that religious, but still.  I do know when the Jewish Sabbath starts.
There's a question about the Mormon faith.  I am a curious person, and I have googled a lot of queries about Mormons because their beliefs are so different from mine.  I know who founded that religion.
Cliff and I do business from time to time with Hindus.  
It's a small world, after all.
  
If you want to test yourself on your knowledge of religions, click HERE.  
I don't think you have to be an atheist to ace the test.  

debit cards and phishing

Cliff and I live between two small towns; there's a bank in each town, and we've used both at different times.  Several years ago we switched because the larger of the two banks had online services, while the smaller did not, and I was told they probably never would.  I'm a little sloppy with my bookkeeping, and it really helps me keep my affairs in order if I can check my figures with the bank periodically.  
When we switched banks, I applied for debit cards.  After a couple of embarrassing failured attempts to use them (PIN numbers not accepted while a line of folks stood impatiently waiting for us to finish our business), Cliff and I both gave up and went back to using checks.   
Because Cliff is looking at retirement in a few months, I'm trying to avoid using credit cards altogether; so I called the bank, told a lady my situation, and she ordered replacement cards for us.  Here's hoping we have better luck with them this time.  
So after talking to the bank and ordering my debit cards, I did a little online research and found out there are a lot of situations where you shouldn't use a debit card because a credit card is safer.  Most of those situations are the very things for which I wanted it!  
Gasoline, for instance.  The main thing for which Cliff uses a credit card... usually the only thing, actually...  is to buy gasoline for the car and motorcycle, and diesel for the tractors.  I was really anxious to be able to stop using credit cards for this, and now I find out it isn't a good idea.  
After the big credit card bill we wracked up on our little Arkansas adventure in July, I was looking forward to using a debit card next time, paying as we go.  If we don't have the money, we don't go.  Makes perfect sense, right?  Ah, but hotels are another place one should not use a debit card because they often put a hold on more money than the cost of your stay, in case you leave damages behind.  
And then there are online purchases; because a debit card is linked directly to your bank account, it would give somebody an opportunity to hack into your money.  Ditto for restaurants, because there are too many people handling your card out of your sight.  Credit cards are advised for these situations.  
So where can I use my debit card safely?  Walmart and grocery stores, evidently.  But I pay cash from my Dave Ramsey envelopes at those places.  It's the same for pet expenses and clothing and co-pays at doctor's offices and prescriptions:  Cash from envelopes.  If you missed the above link with all this information, click HERE.    
Now that I've already ordered my debit cards, I realize I probably should do as my friend Lona does:  Use one credit card that gives rewards for purchases (air miles, cash, etc.) and pay the bill in full every month.  
Live and learn.   
Speaking of online dangers, I got an email yesterday that appeared to be from Chase, which is a credit card Cliff uses for gasoline.  In part, it said, "This message has been sent to you from Chase Bank Online because we have noticed invalid login attempts into your account, due to this we are temporarily limiting and restricting your account access until we confirm your identity."  
 Beneath that was a link I was supposed to click to "confirm my identity".  
"If your account information is not updated within 48 hours then your ability to access your account will become restricted." 
The technique is known as "phishing".  This ain't my first rodeo, so I recognized it immediately and forwarded it to Chase.  They replied to confirm my hunch that the email was fraudulent.  Beware, folks.  Don't take for granted that just because an email appears to have been sent by your bank or your credit card company, it's OK.

Monday, September 27, 2010

NIce day

Mornings are cool now, and the daily highs are in the seventies.  You just can't beat weather like that.  
My sister Maxine lives only forty miles away from me for six months of the year, so you'd think we'd see her quite a bit.  We don't, though, and I'm terrible at keeping in touch by telephone because I don't like talking on the phone.  
So last week I realized it's almost time for her to head to Mission, Texas, for the winter.  I think we've seen her once since she got back home.  
I know!  It's unforgivable, really.  And she's one of the sweetest people you'd ever meet.  
So I called her Friday and invited her out to dinner (the noon meal) today.  Cliff leaves for work at 2:30, but I figured this would give us some visiting time before and after the meal.  Sunday it occurred to me that my cousin Betty and her husband hadn't seen Maxine for a long time, so I invited them to dinner too.  
What a nice, laid-back time we had.  I fixed Tex-Mex chicken and rice, ratatouille, fried okra, and biscuits (made with self-rising flour and buttermilk, of course).  We had apple pie and ice cream for dessert.  I love having people over for dinner who appreciate the meal, and these guests did.  
Maxine admired the red hibiscus plant I started from seed that Betty gave me last fall, and I sent her the rest of the seeds; I'd kept them all this time in a sealed baggie.  I won't need them any more, now that I have a plant going strong. 
Now I'm asking myself, "Why did I wait so long to have these folks over for a meal?"

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Sometimes I need to read this


After a While
(You Learn)


After a while you learn the subtle difference between
holding a hand and chaining a soul.
And you learn that love doesn’t mean leaning,
and company doesn’t always mean security.
And you begin to learn that kisses are not contracts,
and presents aren’t promises.
And you begin to accept your defeats
with your head up and your eyes ahead...
With the grace of a woman,
not the grief of a child.
And you learn
To build all your roads on today,
Because tomorrow's ground is too uncertain for plans,
and futures have a way of falling down in mid-flight.
After a while you learn that even sunshine burns
if you get too much…
So, you plant your own garden,
and decorate your own soul...
Instead of waiting for someone to bring you flowers.
And you learn that you really can endure…
you really are strong,
you really do have worth.
And you learn, and you learn…
with every goodbye,


You Learn…

Motorcycle ride to Kansas

Cliff's Kansas brother, Don, bought a used Harley motorcycle a couple of years ago; he put a lot of work put into it. It was a good-looking bike.  


This was taken when he first got the Harley, before he added a windshield.  That bike was NOISY, even for a Harley.  Of course, that always seems to be a source of pride for Harley owners.  Whatever.  
Don found out that his hand went to sleep if he traveled far on the bike, and he began wishing he had cruise control.  He starting looking for a Honda Gold Wing.
He finally found one, a 1988 (I think) 1500.  Cliff was dying to see it, so we agreed to meet Don and his wife in Fort Scott, Kansas, and picnic in the park.  This would give all of us a two-hour-plus ride, one way.


When I went out to get in the hot tub yesterday morning, it looked as though a beautiful day was brewing.  Checking the weather forecast, though, I found out there was a fifty percent chance of rain in our area after noon; not so at Fort Scott, where only clouds were forecast, no rain.  I told Cliff, "Fifty percent chance of rain means we have a fifty percent chance it won't rain; let's go ahead."  


We gassed up in Bates City, where lots of motorcyclists had gathered for a ride.  Blue skies, nothing but blue skies did I see.  (I sang that to Cliff as we headed south.)


We took a wrong turn in Kingsville.  Cliff chose a shabby-looking blacktop road off this highway and I said, "This looks like the kind of road that will turn to gravel before long."  He ignored me.


The road turned to gravel.  Cliff found a place to turn around; we looked at a map and got back on course.


Cliff remarked on those huge grain bins.  The words on that barn say it's a Hereford farm, but we saw no sign of any cattle; the farm was all planted in soybeans and corn.


We entered Kansas, and Highway 2 turned into Highway 68.


We had agreed to meet Don and Mary at the Walmart in Fort Scott; they beat us by a half-hour or so.


In spite of the fact that Don's 1500 Gold Wing is an older model, it has all the extras and looks almost as if it just came off the showroom floor.  Wow!  (To my St. Louis sister-in-law:  I'm sorry I didn't get a better shot, but Cliff and Don were swarming all over it and this was the best I could do.)


Heading back home, we wondered what those huge smokestacks in the distance were about.  Notice the blue skies have a few clouds in them now.


By the time we got past Harrisonville, Missouri, things weren't looking very promising.  We were moving right along until we saw police cars with blinking lights ahead, and the traffic stalled.


Oh brother.  This was not what we needed.  As we sat there waiting to be allowed past the wreck, I felt sprinkles on my face.



As we were allowed to move on, I took this brief video.  I know it looks as though night was falling, but it was 4:30 in the afternoon.  It's the clouds causing the darkness.  


I thought I was taking a video here, but the camera was set for "photo".  At this point I put my camera away because it started raining pretty hard.  Shortly after this we pulled into a gas station and put on our rain gear; by the time we got all decked out and ready for rain, it slowed to a sprinkle.  The rest of the ride home was enjoyable.  
To make a good day even better, as soon as we got in the house Cliff's sister called and invited us over to eat with her and her son.  So I didn't even have to worry about cooking supper!  

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Picking up walnuts

There are five black walnut trees down at the bottom of that hill, three on the right and two on the left.  Click on the picture to make it larger and you'll be able to see all five trees; they're the ones that have lost most of their leaves.  There used to be a small pond in this hollowed-out place.  If we had more clay soil instead of wind-blown sand, we would have had a large pond put in here, stocked with fish.  But alas. sand lets the water slowly leak out and we would have wasted a lot of money on a leaky pond.  It's a good place to gather walnuts, anyhow.


Of course, there's a big hill to ascend with a heavy sack full of walnuts.  But it's good exercise.  The horses were on their way to the barn lot; right after I took this shot they broke into a playful run.  


The walnuts hide in the tall grass, where I step on a lot of them before I see them.  That's all right, because I step on them to loosen the hulls when I get them to the house, anyhow.  Cliff normally doesn't let the pasture grass get this tall, but we had a huge fuel bill a couple of months ago, on top of expenses from a trip to Arkansas during which we charged motel and gasoline expenses... followed by the purchase of an alternator for the Gold Wing.  I do not take kindly to $700 credit card bills, and Cliff is a little afraid to start up a tractor right now for fear he'll send me into some sort of conniption fit.  Those big tractors don't operate for free.  We have this huge yard to mow, and Cliff uses the John Deere for a large part of that job; we buy fuel for Cliff's sister's yard, as well as ours.  Although yard expenses are a drop in the bucket compared to what that big 1855 Oliver costs to operate when Cliff is plowing.  


Bonnie and Clyde passed by, curious as to what I was doing.  Those two stick together like glue.
  
I hauled another half-bushel of black walnuts back to the house, thinking about how good they'll taste in Christmas goodies this winter.  I think Mother used black walnuts exclusively when she made Christmas candy.  Brown sugar fudge with black walnuts:  my favorite.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Things I looked at this morning

This is a flower on the hibiscus plant I grew from a seed my cousin gave me.  Isn't it breathtaking?  


Almost six inches across!  Don't you just love old yardsticks?  My mom broke a few like this on my butt as a kid; it was her choice weapon for spanking me.  Probably because there was always one close at hand, thanks to her wallpapering sideline.  


When I removed the strawberry plants from the bed in front of the house, I hated to see that space just sit there growing weeds, so I grabbed a ten-cent envelope of flower seeds I had on hand and planted them, without reading the envelope.  


This is what I got.  


Here they are from the other side.  I wish I knew what kind of flower this is; I'd be sure and avoid buying that kind of seed from now on.


Here's another mystery plant I purchased over two years ago.  I like it.  


Here are the walnuts I've gathered so far.  I spread them out in the barn so I can periodically stomp them to get the outside hulls dry enough to remove.  Someone left a comment saying she was going to pick up black walnuts, but after reading about them, she decided it was too much trouble.  Honestly, it's no trouble at all.  You pick them up from beneath the trees, which I consider fun because it's done in the great outdoors.  You remove the nasty hulls:  I used to spread them on the driveway where the car would run over them a few times, which works fine except occasionally the whole nut will get cracked.  Removing the vestiges of the hulls will stain your fingers, but it eventually wears off.  You let the hulled walnuts dry for a couple of weeks, and then all you have to do is crack them and pick out the nutmeats.  My mom always stored the hulled nuts in a garage or shed; on cold winter days she would put on a coat, go outside with a hammer, and crack a dishpan full of them.  She would bring the cracked nuts inside, and in the evening she and Daddy would pick out the nutmeats as they sat around chatting and waiting for bedtime.  
I planted beets in the spring, and only a few of them came up.  I think I made borscht once, and I left the rest of the beets in the ground all this time.  Today I pulled up one huge beet, peeled and diced it, and microwaved it.


The color of the beet was interesting, sort of streaked with white.  I didn't know if it would taste good or not.  


That five-month-old beet turned out just fine, and I fixed it up Harvard style.    




Cliff wanted me to take a picture of his plate, so here it is.  Stuffed peppers, green beans, and Harvard beets, all brought in from the garden this morning.  The hamburger in the stuffed peppers, of course, is from Sir Loin, Bonnie's calf from last year.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Autumn goings-on

I put the calf in the stall last night so I'd have lots of milk this morning; I'm having a good time experimenting with cheese and making butter.  When I got up this morning, I wondered why Bonnie wasn't bawling and bellowing for Clyde; normally when she's separated from her calf overnight, she gets quite vocal.  
When I got to the barn lot, I noticed the sliding door to the stall I'd put Clyde in was open about three inches.  I peeked in and realized the calf wasn't there.  Obviously, Bonnie managed to push the door back a little with her head (I've seen her trying this) and the calf managed to push out through the small opening.  
I called them up again, got the calf in the stall again, and this time, shut Bonnie out of the small lot so she can't get near the sliding door.  I'll milk this evening.  
I'm trying my hand at making ricotta cheese today.  I had no idea you could make something out of the whey that is left after making cheese; it's practically clear.  You wouldn't think there was anything there of substance.  But when it's heated to almost boiling, it looks like... wallpaper paste!  Yeah, that's it.  Don't ask me what I'll do with the ricotta cheese if it turns out; I read that it's highly perishable.  
I gave in and ordered a dairy thermometer, a much cheaper version that I had originally looked at.  My candy thermometer just isn't accurate enough to suit me.
Cliff and I went out in the pasture and picked up black walnuts yesterday, and I got a few more this morning.  I'm in this hunter-gatherer mode lately.  So are the mosquitoes hiding in tall grass where the walnuts had fallen.  They were ecstatic to have a warm-blooded creature actually show up where they're living.  
My son-in-law came in last night and showed me how to remove my mini-blinds.  Of course, now I'm totally out of the mood to clean blinds; I'm busy hunting, gathering, and cheese-making.  However, it's good he took one down for me and showed me how it's done, because now I am forced to do this task that desperately needs to be done.  
Iris has decided that I should go outside any time she goes, and almost refuses to go alone... I practically have to push her out the door.  I guess she got used to me going outside for my coffee when dawn was coming so early and thinks she requires my companionship.  
This is the first house dog I've ever owned that will not potty on command; she goes when she's ready, and not before.  Also, like many dogs, if the grass is wet or if it's storming, she doesn't want to "go".  I finally got her to the point that she will pee in the nice, dry barn if it's been over twelve hours since she last relieved herself.   Crazy mutt.  

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

One blog leads to another

I have more blogs on my Google Reader than I can keep up with, so I certainly don't go looking for more.  Somehow, though, I stumble across one after another, and some are just too good to pass up.
I don't know how I ended up reading Milly's Muse, or where I first found the link to her blog.  She teaches at a school in the troubled Kansas City district.  I don't know how she manages to do all she does; it's no wonder she doesn't post entries very often.  
A while back she did an entry similar to what I'm doing now, telling about the blogs she reads.  When I saw one by a farmer in Nebraska, I checked it out.  After all, farmers always interest me, and I have cousins living in Nebraska.  That's enough incentive for me.
Cliff Morrow's blog is one of the best I've stumbled across lately.  You don't necessarily have to be interested in farming to enjoy his downright poetic way with words.  
I don't know if I've ever given a shout-out here to Patsy; her blog, "My Life and Times" is one of those I read daily.  She lives in Arkansas, and she's liable to blog about national politics or local news or her chickens and guineas or her flowers.  You just never know, but I'll guarantee you it will be straight-forward and down-to-earth.
I've read Toni's musings for years on her old blog, but she recently started a new one, "The Wise Woman Builds Her House".  Here's how she describes herself on her profile:  "Grateful to be a stay-at-home wife and mother of four, homeschool educator, former RN and airline customer service rep. For the record, I follow Jesus. Boldly!"  
Toni has an excellent way with words; she could make her living as an author, I do believe.

Dabbling in cheese-making

When I recently bought rennet tablets to experiment with a different way of making cottage cheese, I found recipes inside the box for mozzarella cheese and a basic hard cheese similar to cheddar.  This piqued my interest, and I've read the directions several times, finally deciding to try the basic hard cheese.  One of the things required in the making of this cheese is a thermometer with a reading range from zero to two hundred twenty-five.  I don't have such a thermometer; the lowest temperature that registers on my candy thermometer is 100.  
I checked out dairy thermometers online, but at a cost of $40 (plus shipping), considering the "iffy" state of my knowledge of cheese-making, I'm not buying one.  I've been reading a Dave Ramsey book that cautions me against what he calls "stuffitis": getting "stuff" on impulse, not because you need it, but because you want it.  I've been guilty of that, and I'm trying to change.   (Thank you so much, Daily Steals, for feeding my stuffitus problem with cheap stuff.)  
After all, even if the cheese turns out great, just how often do I want to go through this process?  
Last night I was supposed to have the milk at 68 degrees, then blend in 1/4 cup of buttermilk.  This morning I'm supposed to warm it to 86 degrees and add the rennet.  I'd say the room temperature in the kitchen is at least 78, so that wouldn't take much warming.  I'm going to guess at it; after all, what do I have to lose?  I have lots of milk.  
Another concern:  I'll be using an empty twenty-ounce cherry-pie-filling can as a cheese press; like all cans, it has slight ridges encircling it.  I'm not sure how that will work when it's time to remove the cheese.  
I'm not optimistic about this project, but I'm trying it, just the same.  I'll let you know how it goes.  
Oh, by the way.  It takes at least two weeks for the cheese to get done.  

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

About my "free food"

Someone commented on my previous entry that food from the garden isn't really free, because my labor counts for something.  
If I considered it labor, indeed it would.  
This reminds me of a conversation I had with a couple of Cliff's cousins a couple of weeks ago.  These ladies have friended me on Facebook, and have found my blog.  They told me they were amazed at all the hard work I do, milking a cow and churning butter and making cottage cheese.  
"That's not work," I told them.  "I'm playing!" 
It's hard to explain to people that I do all that kind of stuff for fun.  I don't have to do it; I do it because I like to, because I want to.   
Financially, we could do without a garden; in fact, I had not gardened for a long time because I got tired of blight taking my tomato crop and squash bugs killing my vines.  Then two years ago, I got a hankering to have a go at it again.  
Last year I had a blast, and this year I've had even more fun with it.  As much as I love the food, though, if it weren't fun, I wouldn't be doing it.  
It's the same with with milking and churning and making cheese.  
I do all these things happily, while ignoring mundane chores like washing windows, cleaning my mini-blinds (I still haven't figured out how to get them down), or shampooing the carpets.  
So:  I have a hobby, gardening.  If I happen to get some food from it, it's simply a by-product, and it's free.  I have another hobby, taking care of my pet cow and milking her occasionally.  If I happen to get some milk or cream or butter out of the deal, that's just icing on the cake.  
Anyone who knows me will tell you that I do very few things that I don't want to do.   
There aren't a lot of people who can say that.  

We're still eating free food

When I was young, I would plant a couple of hundred-foot-long rows of green beans, then pick and can them like crazy.  Once I had enough of them canned, that was the end of my green bean planting for the year. This year, I've had four tiny plantings and canned none.  


This is the row I'm picking from now; it's about eight feet long.  Today I picked from it for the fourth time.   


 This row of green beans is just about to start blooming.  


The beans I picked filled this two-quart pan; the onions are store-bought.  Behind the beans is some smothered okra, otherwise known as okra and tomatoes.  It's slim pickin's around here with the tomatoes, but I was able to get two cups chopped to put with the okra.   I like to cook these dishes for the same meal because two slices of crisp, crumbled bacon is really good in the smothered okra, and the resulting bacon grease flavors up the beans.  No waste.  Bacon, of course, is neither healthy or diet-friendly.  But I figure two slices aren't going to do much harm.    


This head of cabbage ought to be ready to eat in a week or so.  


I'm still bringing in bell peppers.  These are from this morning.  


There are tiny cabbage plants up that probably won't mature before frost, although cabbage can take a certain amount of frost.  Carrots are up, too, and some lettuce.  I know that lettuce can germinate, then go dormant for the winter, and start growing again in spring.  I don't know if this is true for cabbage and carrots, but I'm about to find out.  


So, that's how my garden grows today.   

Monday, September 20, 2010

Eagleville, and Pearson's Store

I suppose we lived at Eagleville, Missouri for two years, perhaps a little longer.  It was during the mid-fifties, and I would have gone from fourth through sixth grades there. Most of that time, we lived in the switchboard house where Mother and Daddy were "Central"; when modern phone service arrived, we lived on Glen Wyant's farm for a while.
For some reason, out of all the places we lived when I was growing up (we moved a lot), Eagleville seems like my home town.  Maybe it's because we had so many relatives living in that area.  I'd see Grandma often, and Uncle Leo's family and Uncle Carl's, too.  Oh, Aunt Ruby and Uncle Lloyd lived on a farm near Eagleville at that time.  
Cliff feels the same way about Versailles, although he never actually lived there.
I'm fairly certain there's not a soul alive in that town who remembers me, but I have a fondness for Eagleville that will stay with me until I die.     
One of many memories from that time of my life is that of reading comic books at Pearson's store.   
When I walked in the side door of the place, there was a display of comic books on the left, and I would stand there and read my favorites:   Donald Duck, his nephews Huey, dewey and Louie and Uncle Scrooge were at the top of the list of characters I loved.  I read a few of the cowboy comics, too.  And of course, Bugs Bunny was an essential part of my life.  I never really cared for the ghoulish horror comics, and I wasn't wild about superheroes.  I think maybe new comics came out once a month; It was always a good day for me when I saw the new issues were in!
I must have stood there for half an hour at a time, maybe more, just reading away, and nobody ever ran me off.  I seldom bought a comic book, because I could read them for free at Pearsons.   


I was clicking around the Eagleville.com website and found out the old Pearson's store building had to be torn down.  That's what brought back this flood of memories.  


See the doors on the brick building?  Just through those doors and to the left was the comic-book display.   I believe the checkout was immediately inside those doors.  My mother sometimes sent me to Pearson's with a dollar or two in an envelope, along with a list of things she needed.  


This is the front of the store; I think walking through those doors placed you in the dry goods section.  The groceries and comic books were in the back.  


There are more pictures at www.Eagleville.com, if you are interested.  Click HERE and keep scrolling down to the pictures right after it says "Sunday, July 11".    I have a couple of cousins who read this blog who might want to see them.
Here's a strange thing: if you type eagleville.com in the browser, it takes you to an RLDS site.  If you type the WWW at the beginning, that gets you to the town's website.  

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Bummer

Yes, I've been a little bummed this weekend.  
I recently blogged about a nine-year-old boy in my county dying in a terrible accident at the orchard his family owns.  I don't really "know" the family, but I've bought apples at their market.  That tragedy is still haunting me.  
Children shouldn't die.  
Saturday morning, I learned by way of Facebook that a local boy died in a horrific automobile accident, a nineteen-year-old who just graduated this past spring.  I won't share his name because I don't want Google bringing people to my blog.  See, I don't know enough about the guy to say anything about him.    
Once again, this is not someone I knew personally.  His mother has taught in our local school, though, for several years.  In fact, she taught one of my granddaughters last year.  It's a small school, so something like this affects the students in a big way.  
The young man didn't do anything out of the ordinary for kids his age:  He went to a party, he drank, and then he headed home without bothering to fasten his seat belt.  I have a hunch that most of our kids have done the same thing at one time or another.  I'd be willing to bet that both of mine did.  
I'm reminded that it's just pure luck if anybody's children make it to adulthood.  I realize, once again, that life isn't fair.  
I grieve with the family of this boy who will never get to live life as an adult.  

Babysitting memories

Like most teenaged girls, I used to occasionally babysit to make a few bucks.  Because we lived in a lower-middle-class neighborhood very near a large Catholic school, there were plenty of kids around to keep me busy.  
My mom worked at an answering service; do those even exist these days?  Anyhow, her boss, Gwen, lived not far from our house.  She had two small children, and she used my services every once in awhile.  Now, Gwen's sister was our preacher's wife; her grandfather was a much-admired preacher in the Church of Christ known as "Brother Kepple.  (We called everybody at church Brother or Sister so-and-so.)  
But I digress.  
Gwen's two children's names were Farsheed and Mimi.  Her husband was from Iran, and he worked in some local film-making enterprise, in advertising, I believe.  The marriage later ended in divorce.  
The man's name was Reza, and if you google his name, you'll find out he's made himself rather famous over the past few years as a director.  
That's about as close to a famous person as I'll ever get, I imagine, unless you count the time Cliff and I had our pictures taken with Jimmy Carter and his wife.  
I wonder what ever happened to Farsheed and Mimi.  They were a joy to babysit.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

diets and such

Speaking of gaining weight, which I was in my last entry, let's talk about my diet history.  
Cliff and I have gone for as long as two or three years eating properly and maintaining our weights.  After his open heart surgery, we were especially conscious of doing it right.  Then, little by little, we became careless.  
Oh, I still cooked the good stuff.  But we'd eat out now and then, which is something that people like us just should not do, especially not at buffets; before you know it, "now and then" became twice a week.  If we were eating out, or if we had company and I cooked fattening stuff, or if we went to someone's home for a meal, I didn't fill Cliff's plate for him; and I really didn't want to be telling him, in front of everybody, "You shouldn't have that."  
"I'm not your mother," I told him at home.  "You need to take some responsibility for what you eat."
I'd see him eat three plates of spaghetti away from home, or two pieces of cake or pie (I love to make pie, I'd whine to myself.  I never get to make pie because he shouldn't eat it.  Now here he is eating pie, and it isn't half as good as mine would have been).  
Then he'd mention he'd been hitting the snack machine at work, getting junk food.
Now remember, I'm getting plump right along with him, but I haven't had heart trouble, so that's OK.  
Marriage can be a slippery slope.  
Please realize I am not griping about Cliff.  This is a two-way street.  It will be a cold day in hell before I belly-ache about my husband to people I've never met.  I'm just trying to get you to see the psychology that is involved here.
Recently, once again, my husband said, "I can't even get up and down without difficulty; I have GOT to lose some weight."  
So I'm back to cooking 100% healthy meals, and only having pizza and McDonald's frappes when the oldest granddaughter spends one of those nights when Cliff is at work.  
Cliff's overalls had begun to get looser.  
And then they had a record month where he works, and they served a steak dinner to the employees, with all the trimmings.  
Last Saturday we went to a family reunion and fish-fry where the desserts were to die for.  
Today we'll meet with some of Cliff's cousins in Sedalia at Golden Corral.  Yep, a buffet.  
Oh, and there's another free dinner scheduled at work to celebrate all the money they are making.  Why don't they just share the money with us, and stop with the dinners?
I might as well have taken an ad in the newspaper saying, "Cliff is trying to lose weight, so would everybody please go ahead and sabotage his efforts?"  
We both know how to lose weight, and there's only one method that works for us:  calories in, calories out.  Diet and exercise.  
Over the years I've heard people raving about various fad diets, and I do see them lose weight.  Two years later, thought, they are fatter than ever.  If you don't believe it, just look at some pictures of Oprah over the years.  
Do you know anybody who ever went on the Atkins diet and actually KEPT the weight off?  Seems to me the Atkins diet makes people fatter in the long run.
I just can't help it, every time a yo-yo dieter tells me about his new, wonderful diet, I am saying to myself, "I wonder if it will last this time."    
The same is true for me and Cliff, with our sensible counting-calories diet (I write this as though I'm eating properly right now, and I'm not, except when Cliff is around).  
I think that's the one thing that causes me to stay overweight.  It has never lasted before, so why bother (one excuse is as good as another, and fat people must have excuses).  I may as well just enjoy myself.  I shall continue to try to keep temptation away from Cliff's door, though.  I would like to see him live to enjoy retirement.  
If only the universe would join with me in my efforts.  


By the way, I do know the real reason I don't try lose weight:  It's hard to deny myself, and I'm not disciplined.  I want what I want when I want it, and I want lots of it.  Those, my friends, are the cold, hard facts.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Has this ever happened to you?

It's no big secret that I've gained some weight in the last three or four years; at one point I set out to lose it and then decided I didn't want to deny myself all the food I loved, and I kicked the diet out the door.  
I can honestly say I don't even feel too bad about the weight.  Not nearly as bad as I would if I couldn't have pizza sometimes.  (Don't give me that "moderation" speech; I like LOTS of pizza.)
Meanwhile, I don't buy myself any new jeans, because who wants to buy that size jeans?  I bought two pairs, a couple years back.  They fit.  I wear them when we ride the motorcycle.  When cold weather comes, I'll be wearing sweats a lot, because sweats lie to me and tell me I haven't gained an ounce.  Then there's the fact that they're warm.  But I don't buy more jeans because I keep thinking I'll lose weight and all my old ones will fit.  
Can I get an amen?  I think that's called "wishful thinking".  
We were going to go for a motorcycle ride the other day, so I switched from shorts to jeans.  You can imagine my dismay at finding the jeans were uncomfortably tight.  But by george, I was going to wear them!  I refuse to go up another size.  
Sitting on the motorcycle it wasn't too noticeable, except these jeans were slightly low-riding.  Not extremely low, mind you, but enough so that my belly fat insisted on squeezing up over the top of the jeans.  Because, you know, all that has to go somewhere.  
Then when I'd get off the bike, the legs of the jeans were a little tight until I tugged at them and pulled them down.  I should have been enjoying the ride, but all the time, at the back of my mind, I was wondering how I gained so much weight so quickly!  
We were at home that evening when I starting sorting dirty clothes and found both pairs of jeans that fit properly in the hamper.  The jeans I was wearing had not fit me in two years; I'd dug them out of the bottom of my drawer.  


Whew.  There for awhile I thought I was going to have to lose weight.  What a relief!     

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Garden plans for 2011

Next year I plan to move the tomatoes, potatoes, and peppers to a different location in an effort to slow down the blight.  Oh, it will still rear its ugly head, but hopefully not as early on as it did this year.  This will leave room in the old garden for something else, so I might have a few cantaloupe plants.  
My sister-in-law worked for some tomato farmers in Wisconsin who raised their tomatoes in a greenhouse, without soil.  They still had a blight problem at one point (it's in the air, as well as the soil), and Rena says the guy sprays the plants with fungicide every day now.  
I intend to get a soil test on both plots and add whatever is needed.   
I think I've found the reason why squash bugs always got my zucchini:  The straw I put up against the base of the plants to keep weeds down and conserve moisture (as if THAT were needed this year) was providing a cozy home for the little pests.  I did not put straw around the zucchini I planted in July, and it's still going strong, although I did see squash bugs and their eggs a couple of times, early on; I removed the parts of the leaves with eggs on them, and sprayed for the bugs.  Next year I will plant zucchini with hope in my heart.  
I planted Top Crop green beans this year, my mom's favorite variety.  I think Blue Lake might produce better, so that's my choice for 2011.  I'll stick with the Bodacious sweet corn.  My mom's favorite was Iochief, but sweet corn has been greatly improved since her day.  It was a winner in 1951; we've come a long way, baby.  
I want to find sweet peppers with a thicker wall, so I'll do some research on that before we visit Colonial Nursery.  
At long last, I managed to get a basil plant to grow from seed.  One plant.  Nobody would need more, though; it grew into quite a bush.  The flavor of fresh basil is much better than the dried stuff I've always used.  The only other herb in my garden was a single parsley plant, but something caused it to die; I suspect my dog might have wandered through and decided to dig in that spot, probably searching for the mole that's now wreaking havoc with my beet seedlings.  
Cliff would like to move the whole garden, not just the blighty things; but the strawberries are part of the old garden, so I figure we may as well continue to use the rest of the space for some vegetables.    
In many ways this wasn't a good garden year:  tomato and potato blight, made worse by excessive rain; onions that insist on rotting before they're ready to harvest; squash bugs as usual.  And yet, look at all the food we've gotten in this "bad garden year".  Even the rotting onions yielded a couple of gallon freezer bags full of diced onions for use in cooking.  
So I look forward to the garden of 2011, hoping I'm still as enthusiastic about it as I am right now, and hoping I'll still be around.

This and that

Cliff got our pasture seeded Sunday and Monday; it was mighty wet for him to be working the soil, but our sandy soil drains quickly and he got the job done.  Grass of any kind needs, ideally, to be sown by September 15, so he got it in just under the wire.  Tuesday the rains came, over 2 1/2 inches.  The pasture ground is not level, and we both figured half the field was washing away.  As it turns out, the rain came slowly, and there was only minor erosion.  
Yesterday it rained again, almost an inch in the course of the day.  


Again, the rain came slowly.  So far, so good.  All this rain should have that seed germinating in record time; once the grass and clover is up and growing, the danger of erosion will be reduced.  
Cliff has been having a lot of back pain lately.  He has a history of back pain, ever since he worked at the butcher shop and was the only person big and strong enough to move beef quarters from one rail to another.  But he's been able to manage the pain.  Now he has a hip bothering him too, and it sometimes pops when he's walking.  I'm pretty sure what that means, but I'm no doctor.  I do have experience with osteoarthritis, though.  
Anyhow.  We've never been ones to go to a chiropractor, but Cliff decided to try one while we still have good insurance coverage.  We'll see how that goes.  His first visit was yesterday. He experienced some relief immediately following the treatment, and he goes again today.  
It seems as though it takes forever for daylight to arrive now.  I was in the habit of going outside with my coffee and checking the garden and flowerbeds to see what little miracles had occurred while I was sleeping.  These days the coffee is long gone before it gets light enough to see.  
On the garden front, I'm feuding and fussing with a mole who insists on making his run right under my row of fall beets.  The miracle zucchini is producing better than ever, and I am celebrating the fact that the squash bugs have not bothered it.  
I'm only getting a couple of tomatoes each day, and they aren't very pretty.  But they still taste better than store-bought.  
We're getting garden-fresh green beans, and these recent rains have given the eggplants new life.  I've blanched a couple of gallon freezer-bags of sweet peppers to use in stuffed peppers this winter.  
My little garden is giving us lots of free food, and I'm thankful for every bite.  

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

It's been storming this evening

I took a few pictures.  Some looking north across the muddy field Cliff seeded to pasture Sunday, others more to the west.  Oh, and of course, the obligatory picture of Bonnie-the-Jersey-cow and her son.  Here's the slideshow.

A couple of blog entries that made me laugh out loud

There's an Arkansas blogger I follow who is not afraid to voice her opinions, which sometimes conflict with my own.  But you know what they say about opinions.  Anyway, something about her entry today made me crack up laughing as I was nodding in agreement.  Check out her views on presidents' wives at My Life and Times, and say hello to Patsy while you're there. 


My Kansas City Russian friend, Meesha, has decided to put his blog to work:  He's going to try using it as a dating site.  Check out the entry HERE.  Don't bother reading the million dollar bill, just scroll down until you get to the meat of the post.  


Sister Mary Martha is always good for a laugh, too.  If nuns could be stand-up comediennes, she'd be a good one.

So brief

When I headed out to milk the cow, I noticed clouds in the east, so I put down my bucket, went inside, got my camera, and slipped it in my pocket.  I've learned that early-morning clouds in the east can mean a beautiful sunrise will soon appear.  


When I came out of the barn with frothy, warm milk in my bucket, I was rewarded with this sight, and I took a picture.  
I spent about five minutes straining the milk and putting it away.  When I stepped back outside, this moment of glory was gone.  I've learned over the years that if you want a picture of a pretty sunrise or sunset, you'd better be quick.  The beauty lasts but a short time.   
When you think about it, each of life's golden moments is like a pretty sunrise; you'd better savor the good times while you have them.  There will be others, but none will be exactly like this one.


Speaking of brief, the hummingbird season is about over, too.  Two weeks ago I couldn't keep the feeders full of nectar.  Now I only fill them halfway, and I still end up pouring some out.  I've learned if I don't keep the nectar fresh, they stop drinking it.  
Some people take the feeders down "so the hummingbirds will fly south".  Others, as mentioned on a hummingbird education website, go to the opposite extreme:   "Q: Will I keep the hummingbirds here if I feed them into the fall? A:  It is not necessary to take down feeders to force the birds to fly south. They will migrate. If hummingbirds are sticking around, it could be because they are sick or injured. Some experts recommend leaving the feeder up with a spot light (150 watt bulb) on the feeder to keep the nectar from freezing). Amazingly enough some hummingbirds are still able to find insect larvae in the bark of trees. It is not necessary to ‘fly’ the birds south. Nature is nature and is never a guarantee that all birds will survive."  
Personally, I take my feeders down when they haven't seen any action for a few days.  It makes me sad to see the tiny birds leave, but next spring I will be so excited to see the first arrivals; so in a way, their absence is worth it.  Perhaps if I had to feed them year around it would start to seem like drudgery.  Just one more reminder to enjoy a good thing while I have the opportunity.
"To everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven."  

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Ratatouille revisited

Ratatouille is a precious commodity around here, as I've mentioned before.  We all love it.  Cliff's St. Louis sister likes it so well that she bought all the ingredients needed to make it, looked at the recipe I posted on my blog, and started cooking.  
Unfortunately, it was a miserable failure.  Hers was dry, she told me.  The more she tried to fix it, the worse it tasted.  We went over the recipe on the phone, and she had used the proper amounts of everything.
So this past weekend she brought the ingredients for another batch (my garden was being a little stingy, what with the recent rain) and asked me to make it while she watched; perhaps, she thought, she could figure out what went wrong.    
I started cutting and chopping and got everything in the pot.  "That's all exactly like I did it," she said, perplexed.  
Then I put the lid on and turned it down to simmer.  
"Oh, I didn't put a lid on," she said.  "Do you suppose that's the problem?"  
She kept peeking through the glass lid, remarking on how much liquid there was.  She seemed amazed, really.  Mine usually has so much liquid that I take the lid off toward the end and let it simmer until it thickens a little.  
So we solved the mystery, and hopefully she has a life filled with the joys of ratatouille.  


I brought in more free food from the garden this morning, and it looks like once again I'm making ratatouille.  It's low-fat, low-calorie, and nutritious.  Most importantly, Cliff and I never get tired of it.  I only have a couple of tomatoes ripe, so this time I'll be using home-canned tomatoes.  We'll see if that makes any difference.  

Monday, September 13, 2010

Silly horses

Yesterday Cliff shut the gate to the big lot, with the three horses confined in it.  (He thought.)  
He forgot he had removed one gate and put it up here in our back yard fence.  
Two of the horses didn't know this, but Snickers, our next-door neighbor's horse who is never ridden or touched, is the smartest of the bunch.  She immediately found the opening, ran out, and started eating the expensive seed Cliff was going to plant.  
The seed was in the bucket of the Mahindra tractor, so Cliff just went and raised the bucket out of her reach.  
I didn't see any of this.  But my daughter came over, saw the problem, and told me about it, asking if I could catch Snickers.  
I figured I would block the escape hole in the fence, try to catch the horse (I have my own group of names for her, but they aren't nice names) and put her back in the lot.  
I found a livestock panel and dragged it down to the opening, then wired it to the fence.  They couldn't escape now.  
That's when the real fun began.  
I got a rope and tried walking sideways up to Snickers.  Many times I've been able to catch a horse just by not looking her in the eye and approaching her from the side.  
It wasn't happening this time.
So I got a can of feed.  Snickers was interested in this turn of events, so I held a handful of sweet feed out to her.  She grabbed a quick bite and ran.  
Imagine this happening about ten times in a row.  Picture me, a person who really doesn't curse, calling Snickers a name that starts with a "b" and ends with an "h".  
Then I decided to think the way she does.  
I took the can of feed into the lot, where two other horses had been watching from the other side of the gate.  I led them to a spot where I could give them the feed.  Snickers, of course, was watching intently.  
I walked to the gate, opened it, and Snickers RAN through and joined the other two horses.  
I closed the gate, and that free spirit was captured.  You can imagine my pleasure when she later ran down to the place where she had escaped before and found it closed.  
It was almost worth all that trouble I had gone to.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Dragonflies and hummingbirds

Cliff's cousin Edna called today asking me if I had any idea why there are so many dragonflies this year.  I told her I have no idea, but that yesterday when we got home, there were literally hundreds of them.  We've seen lots of them all summer.  
After Edna's call, I decided to check with Google, and they gave (sort of) a reason.  If you want to see what they said, just click HERE.  The good news is, they eat mosquitoes.  
Now, on to hummingbirds.  Two weeks ago we had so many little hummers it was almost like a pestilence.  There aren't even half as many now, so I'd say they've begun their migration south.  
Have trouble with hummingbirds getting in your garage and then not finding their way out?  Click HERE.
There are a lot of myths about hummingbirds.  Pure fiction.  Don't believe that malarky about them hitching rides on geese to migrate, or the people who tell you that you should take your feeders down so they'll go ahead and migrate (it's built in them... no force on earth could stop them from migrating).  If you know how to use Google, you can find out all the real facts.   
One of the things that makes hummingbirds so precious is the fact that they aren't here year around.  A highlight of my year is the day I see my first hummingbird in the spring.  Of course, this was only my third year of hummingbird-watching.    
Other things about my day:  I made okra-and-tomatoes for the first time ever, and Cliff, Rena and I gave the dish a thumbs-up.  We also had catfish and corn bread. and green beans picked fresh this morning.   Cliff got most of the fallow ground seeded; he is one tired puppy.  
I hope each of my readers has a happy and blessed week.
Life is good.

Sunday stuff

Cliff's St. Louis sister and her husband are here.  They needed to catch up on some things around their farm here, and they intend to visit Pat's parents.  
Charlene is dieting, and if I cook something she can't have, she eats something else.  She's having great success with losing weight.  Anyhow, I cooked a double batch of Tex-Mex Chicken and rice before they came; it's low-fat and nutritious, and very filling.  Oh, and it warms up well in the microwave.  I knew Cliff and I would be going to the reunion, and I wanted to leave something the visitors could grab and eat that wouldn't break Charlene's diet.  It worked out well for our supper last night, too, since we didn't get home until after 6 PM.  Today Charlene and Pat are working at the farm again, and they took food with them to microwave.  So that will be their lunch.  


I'm pondering supper.  I picked some green beans a while ago, so there's that, and I have a couple of zucchinis I might stir-fry with peppers and onion..  Charlene and Pat may be here for supper, or they may take his parents out to eat; I've decided to fry catfish.  If they aren't here, Cliff and Rena and I will bust a gut eating catfish.  Oh, wait... make that Rena and I, because Cliff is trying to lose weight.  He'll have a moderate portion of catfish.  I should do as he is doing, but I'm not motivated.    


Around here, Rena has a wash hanging on the line; she has to get things done on the weekends because she works all week long.  


She is also getting rid of things in the house she doesn't need, so Cliff has the John Deere sitting there with the bucket-loader for her to put things in.  


Earlier, Cliff was preparing a seed bed for the mixed-pasture-grass seed, which he is right this minute going out to broadcast.  


Bonnie-the-Jersey-cow was grazing when I went to check on her son, who had a slight diarrhea this morning;  Cliff and the brother-in-law wrestled him to the ground and forced a pill down his throat.  There will hopefully be a repeat performance of that tonight.  


The horses were all three lined up watching Cliff at work, and it looked like a perfect shot.  Then Cliff headed toward them and they broke and ran.  Oh well, I tried.  
And now, I'm heading to the kitchen to make some tartar sauce.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

The best thing about Facebook

I've seen people get on Facebook for awhile, then leave, saying it isn't of any worth to them, or that it drives them crazy; Cliff still says, "I don't get it," every time he logs on.  
I know the constant game updates from "friends" drives some of them away; they have no way of knowing they could block those games and not have to see them ever again.  
But here's my favorite thing about Facebook:  I'm getting to know relatives that I couldn't have picked out of a crowd until we Facebooked together.  
My cousin, Lela, doesn't have Internet, but her daughters do; I didn't know them before Facebook.  It's the same with my nephew's son's wife, Heather, who occasionally posts an update about her children.  These people don't put a lot of information online, but it's enough so that I'm getting to know them as individuals.  Before this, they were just faces I saw at reunions or get-togethers sometimes.  
Cliff's mom's side of his family has a fish-fry each year after Labor Day, a family reunion of sorts.  I know his dear old aunts, but most of the other people attending this thing were a mystery to me.  You know how it is, attending somebody else's family reunion, right?  Or is it just me?  
Today, I got to know a little more about two of Cliff's cousins.  Not that they reveal much of themselves online, but two of them have been reading my blog (thanks to Facebook), so that gave us a conversation-starter, some sort of common ground.  
I actually had a good time at Cliff's family reunion!  
Now I know a little about these lady's jobs and their lives.  We have a connection.  
Facebook seems like a funny place to get to know your relatives,  but it works for me!

Friday, September 10, 2010

What a shock

I just learned, while reading Midlife Mom's blog, that Barn Goddess died.  She used to comment regularly on my blog.  She had pretty much stopped blogging some time ago, and you know how it is:  Out of sight, out of mind.  I'd almost forgotten her.  
She was the mother of two sons, aged sixteen and six, I think.  
She had a thirty-year-old horse she loved dearly; according to what I read on another blog, he was put down shortly after his owner's death.  
Nothing has been said about how this lady died; I am keeping her family in my thoughts.  


Another shock:  I found out on Facebook that a seven- or eight-year-old boy, Garrett Rasa, was killed in a tragic accident at the family's orchard.  This is the orchard we most often patronize; I feel I know Garrett's grandmother, since she is usually the one at the cash register when we buy our apples.  I can't imagine the heartbreak she and the rest of the family must feel.  I know the family needs and would appreciate prayers.  

Stuff about cows

A reader asked me to explain what a bobby calf is; I will, but I will lead up to it.  
Dairies exist to produce all the milk they can.  In order for a cow to give milk, she has to have a baby.  Ideally, when she calves, the calf will be left with her for three days, or at least fed colostrum from her or other cows that have just had calves.  After three days, the cow joins the milking string, never to see her baby again.  Two or three months following, she will be bred.  Six to eight weeks before the next calf is born, she will be "turned dry", or "dried up", as my parents would say.  When the dairyman stops milking, she stops producing and puts her energy toward growing the fetus.   
If the cow has a heifer (female) calf, the dairy will probably keep her and raise her as a replacement.  At the age of two or thereabouts, she will have her first calf and go to work producing milk, and the cycle goes on.  
Half of calves born are bull calves, although with artificial insemination, is it possible to buy sexed semen, which produces 80% heifer calves.  
Dairies have no use for the bull calves, so they are usually kept for three days and then sold.  In my part of the country, these little bulls are called "bobby" calves.  I've read that in other areas they are referred to as "bummer" calves.  
What good are they to anyone else, you ask?  Well, they make fine beef if you raise them past a year old.  I'm sure many of them end up as veal, too.  For a few years I had several milk cows and no use for all that milk (I do love to milk cows, it's a fact), so a nearby dairyman sold me all his Holstein and Brown Swiss bull calves.  I'd milk the cows, put the milk in calf nursing bottles, and feed all my babies.  It's possible to wean calves at six weeks, but I found they do better if they can have milk for three months.  Once weaned, I'd feed them a mix of grains for a month or so and then turn them out to pasture.  We usually hauled them to the sale barn around the age of six months, and I made a pretty good profit with this enterprise. 
  
I raised the calves in individual hutches, shown behind me here; the kids are my two oldest grandchildren, Arick and Amber.

On to another cow subject, butter.  I posted a picture of my pretty butter on Facebook yesterday evening, and a friend asked if that was the natural color of the butter.  Indeed it is.  When cows are on pasture, as opposed to eating hay, their butter is more yellow.  Also, Jerseys and Guernseys don't convert carotene to vitamin A very efficiently; so their butter is especially yellow.