Saturday, September 28, 2013

A tractor sold in the midst of moving


Yesterday evening a young fellow paid Cliff cash and hauled away the 1655 Oliver.  This isn't the one Cliff uses as a parade tractor, the 1855.  You can read about the purchase HERE.  He had it on Craigslist for a long time, asking $1,000 more than he gave for it.  Then he dropped the price by $500, and it still didn't generate any interest.  
Finally just the right person decided to look at it and bought it.  Cliff said he seemed very enthusiastic about his purchase.  There was little, if any, profit made on it, since Cliff put some money into it after buying it.  But he felt he had more tractors than he could properly take care of.  

The fellow who bought it told Cliff he was googling 1655 Olivers a couple days ago and ended up on my blog.  He got to find out when and where we bought the tractor, and commented that one picture had been taken in the shop with the 1855, torn down for rebuild, in the background.  So I did a search and found the picture he was talking about.  This is it.   

Cliff has advertised the 1855 on Yesterday's Tractors a few times and actually received a few calls on it, in spite of the outlandish price tag.  The callers, though, were all quite a distance away.  It would be quite an expense to haul a tractor through several states.    
There are still a few odds and ends to be moved, and one deep freeze that I think we'll keep in the garage (the one with this two-story house).  Cliff is thinking he will use the one at the mobile home for a tractor garage.  I've done some cleanup at the other house yesterday and today.  I hope to have the electricity turned off by Tuesday.  When winter approaches, we'll do what we must to keep it from freezing.  Cliff got some pointers on that from my sister, who was visiting last weekend.  She's spent winters in Texas for years, and has the process down to a science.
Last night Cliff and I both took showers here and were surprised to find the water wasn't soft.  He looked in the softener and found out it was totally empty of salt.  If the water isn't soft by Monday, we'll call Culligan to come and get things going.  We are spoiled now; we like our soft water.  We had them take away the one in the mobile home because it was easier to get to than the one the sister-in-law had here, and both were the same.  No sense in Culligan coming to get hers and then coming to put ours over at the mobile home in the same spot.

Here's an interesting thing that happened:  Travis, one of the next-door twins, happened by with a buddy to use Cliff's shop and we latched onto them to help move the refrigerator and our very heavy couch.  (You find out who your real friends are when you are moving.)  Now, I've wanted a new refrigerator for a long time.  The crisper drawers long ago fell apart on the old one, and I figured we could take it out to the shop to use when the garden is over-producing, or when I'm saving up milk to make cheese.  I'm not in the market for a big, fancy refrigerator.  I just want some crisper drawers.  Anyway.  Cliff  got the refrigerator over here, plugged it in, and it started running.  However, an hour or so later it was not running any more, and it hadn't even started getting cool.  It was about 4 P.M., and we were totally numb from all the lifting, walking, and hauling we had done; there's no way we wanted to get cleaned up and go to Sears.  I mentioned the appliance store in Odessa, which is only a few miles from us but closes at 5.  I called to see if they had a fridge small enough to fit in the place were a refrigerator has to go in this house, and the lady said yes, she had one.  However, when she described it and told me the price, it was $100 more than a similar one at Sears.  I wasn't that desperate.  
We got out the coolers.  Cliff went after ice and we put the perishables in the coolers.  As soon as we had done all this, Cliff walked past the refrigerator and said, "Hey, come here and listen:  Is this thing running?"  
It was indeed.  I was so happy to have that problem disappear.
   
Monday we go buy a full-size box springs and mattress, since there isn't really enough room in our bedroom for a queen-sized bed.  We already have it picked out, so all we have to do is go get it.  We've never cared for queen-size anyhow.  We spent most of our lives sleeping in a full bed, and we're both glad fate took a hand.    

Whew.  I sat down thinking I had nothing to put in my blog and got all carried away.  

Friday, September 27, 2013

Changes

Yes, there are many changes going on around here lately.  Cliff sold the 1655 Oliver, and I will address that later.  We're mostly moved back into the old house that built my children, who were ages six and eight when we bought the place.  
But there is Iris.  Poor Iris was so confused when we got half of our furniture moved into what she considered to be Angel's house, Angel being Cliff's sister's mini-dachshund.  Little by little she has figured out that we are going to live here.  After all, the stuff she knows is ours is all here:  Her bed is here, and her dog food dish.  She's decided to live with us, wherever we go.  

Iris sheds a lot, and one of her worst habits was rolling over on her back on our carpet, rubbing it to and fro on the carpet, and then getting up and shaking in such a way that hair goes everywhere.  When we started moving here, I suggested to Cliff that we keep her off the carpeted rooms (the living room and the bedroom).  This means she lives in the kitchen (because everybody wants dog hair in their kitchen, right?), the hallway, and the bathroom.  
Iris may be a basket case in many ways, but after less than 24 hours she has figured out that she isn't supposed to be in the carpeted rooms.  Oh, she has forgotten a couple of times, and once she deliberately tried to tippie-toe into the living room; but when either of us tell her no, she quickly backtracks.  

She actually seems calmer than we've ever seen her.  Maybe we should have given her boundaries long ago, but of course, had we limited her to non-carpeted areas at the mobile home, she would only have had the tiny kitchen.  And there really wasn't room for a dog bed in that kitchen.  

Meanwhile, Iris bids my readers a sweet good night from the kitchen of the old house on Woodhaven Acres.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Getting used to a small baby, and other short stories

In the process of getting acquainted with the baby we are watching, I have spent a lot of time hovering over her, checking her diaper, and learning to use new-fangled inventions they didn't have when I was a young mother.  Even the bottles are different. 
She is a very good baby, and starting to smile (REALLY smile, not gas smiles) and trying to coo.  Because she is so young, she isn't afraid of strangers, but looks us right in the eye as if she has known us forever.  Today I'm trying to learn her routine and I haven't done much but hover; once I get to know her better and settle down and relax, she seems as though she will be an easy baby to have around and will give me plenty of time to do the things around here that need to be done.  At this point, even when she is sleeping you'll catch me bending near her face to make sure she's breathing.    

Cliff and I discussed this morning whether to try and rent this mobile home out.  He was all for it, and I was ready to give it a shot.  He wanted me to put in the ad something about how we only wanted two people.  That's when I found out you can't say that.  You also can't say "older people".  So we called Cliff's brother who is very familiar with the renting process, and he confirmed all this, and also mentioned that we HAD to show the house to anybody who called to ask about it, if we placed an ad.  

So, at this point "word of mouth" is the only way we would rent it.  If we met someone face to face who had a child or two, we might be flexible on our requirements if they seemed like upstanding folks.  We might even allow them to have one dog, who knows.  But we don't want to be forced to rent to someone with ten kids, because there would go my peace of mind out the window and I'd be back in the same situation I was five years ago.  

Sunday, September 22, 2013

I almost forgot my blog

We have several things going on, so my head is filled with a jumble of stuff and yet really nothing to blog about.  
We will have Baby Cora for the first time tomorrow.  Her mom is going to ease back into the working life slowly, only Monday and Wednesday this first week.  So of course, that's on my mind.  We are so ready!  
And then there's the move back to the house, which we'll get done by next Thursday, I am hoping.  Then we'll have the electricity turned off at the mobile home, probably a week from Monday.  We want to clean the place up before we close it up.  We're going to buy a large supply of mouse and rat poison, because those critters would take over an empty house if you let them.  A couple of people have asked what we intend to do with the mobile home.  I tell them we are just going to wait and see what happens.  I know this sounds strange to most folks, but it works for us.  
We are losing the $200 a month we got for rent, but the kids who rent our pasture for their horses (they are Cora's parents) are going to bring a third horse before too long.  Between that, the money saved on a phone bill, and the money I'll get for babysitting, we won't even miss the $200.  In fact, I think we will come out better than we were.  That's usually how things seem to go around here, as though Someone might be watching out for our interests.   
Cliff's sister is totally moved out.  The weekend was nice, with my sister coming for an overnight stay last night, and Cliff's younger sister and her husband in and out as they were helping Rena get ready for the movers.  

Good times!  

Thursday, September 19, 2013

For someone named Tina

You asked my daughter to relay a message to me because, like so many other readers, you can't leave comments here.  You wondered if Kelly from Georgia was still blogging. 

Well, I think her blog still is there, but she hasn't done entries for a long time.  I wish she would, because I follow her on Facebook, and wow, the changes she has made since she was blogging you would not believe.  She still has some chickens, but they are no longer her number one priority.  If you are on Facebook, you can follow her as Kelly Lindsey Corley. 

She has become my inspiration.  She has a remarkable story to tell.

KellyGa

It must be a day to save money

Cliff and I went to see the insurance man about our house insurance, since I knew already that it costs less to insure a home the owner is living in.  Indeed, it turns out we are getting far more insurance for quite a bit less money.  

We have moved our auto insurance a couple of times lately, the last time to Progressive.  While we were talking to our independent insurance agent, I had him look over our policy.  Guess what?  He gave us twice the amount of insurance for less money.  Folks, there is a definite advantage to dealing with an independent insurance agent.  Why did I wait so long to talk to him?  

Back at home, I called Direct TV to have them set up a time to move the dish next door.  We had everything agreed on, and then he asked what credit card I wanted the moving cost to go on.  
"You charge for moving it next door?" I asked.  
"Yes, there is always a charge for moving.  That will be $75."  
"Oh well, never mind.  Once we are back at the house, we can have cable."
The local cable TV isn't great, but it was good enough for me to make a threat that I could follow through with, if I had to.  
"Oh no, I'm not going to let you do that," the guy answered.  
I did have to do a new service agreement, which means if we leave before a two-year contract is up, we pay $20 for each month that's left on the agreement.  But we like Direct TV pretty well. I don't see us changing.

That got me thinking about that cable option at the old house.  I loved their Internet, it was SO much faster than DSL.  And wait, if we don't need the phone company for Internet, we don't need the phone!  So I called the cable company and set up a time for them to hook us up for Internet only, which costs $30.  Getting rid of DSL and the phone, even counting the five-dollar bundling discount we'll lose with Direct TV, will save us $50 a month.  

Now all I have to do is call the phone company and bid them goodbye.  

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

A bucket full of sour dock seeds

Cliff and I were walking past the clover field and noticed the invasive Dock weeds were taking over once again.  
"I need to come back here and mow," Cliff said.  
"The seeds are already there; looks to me like if you mowed, the seeds would just lie there until next spring and germinate and grow a new crop."  
He agreed.
I decided to take my nippers back to that field and wage a war on sour dock.  I took the bucket you see above and started cutting off the seed heads.  Cliff considers it "mission impossible", but by george, every bucketful holds thousands of seeds that won't fall to the ground and grow.  
Those brown seed-heads are ready to fall now, so I handle them carefully as I put them in the bucket.  When the bucket is full, I take them to our junk ditch and toss them over the edge.  
I've cleared about 10 percent of the field of the seed heads, and probably won't come close to getting them all before all the seeds dry up and drop to the ground.  But there's an old saying, "Do something, lest ye do nothing."  
Well, I'm doing something.  At least the several thousand seeds I removed will be that many that don't reproduce.  It's sort of like when I use the Furminator on Iris.  I work on her for ten minutes, getting handfuls of dog hair that flutter and blow around the yard, enough hair to make a puppy, it would seem.  She comes in the house and shakes, and  just as much hair flies as it did before all my work.  But I tell myself with each handful of  hair I remove outside, "At least this is 5,000 hairs that won't be in my house."    

Another Internet friend and her experience with Diet Coke

This from a longtime Canadian reader:

Hi Donna,
I will tell you my experience with Diet Coke and aspartame.  For years I drank diet coke,  probably a can a day and more on weekends, without any side effects.  I too used to have terrible stomach pains, bloating, etc. after eating but never thought anything of it.  Then I started to get really achy joints,  especially my knees,  it felt like I had fluid around my knee joints and it was difficult to get up from a kneeling or even a sitting position. About this time I read/heard about side effects from aspartame and one of those being stiff joints, so I decided to quit diet coke. Wow,  not an easy thing to do,  that stuff is really addictive. Most people would say it's the caffeine in the drink,  but I was still drinking lots of coffee,  so that wasn't it.
Long story short,  without diet coke in my life,  the stomach pains and the stiffness and pain in my knees went away.  Never thought about the damage it was doing to my organs.
I went without diet coke for years and then like most addicts I gave in  one day when I was craving a soda and had one.  I love the taste of Diet Coke,  not pepsi or any other drink,  just diet coke.  A Diet Coke once a week when I went for groceries turned into more, especially during hot summer months.   I was on the train again, and soon the knee stiffness and pain returned.  I am once again weaning myself off of Diet Coke, .    Fortunately,  since I only get to town once a week,  it is easier to keep it out of the house but I still have trouble passing it up in the soda aisle.
I think the chemicals build up in your system over time and that's when the problems arise.
I also used to use Splenda as a sweetener but have given that up as well.
Maybe some people can drink this stuff without side effects but I can't.
Will be interested to see the comments on your blog.


Another thing I've noticed, and Cliff, the hard-core Diet Coke drinker (he does try to hold it down to one or two a day) agrees:  There seems to be something addictive about Diet Coke, whether it's the aspartame or something else.  People who drink Diet Coke seem to go around with a can in their hands all the time.   

Just so you know, when I drink pop, it's Pepsi Throwback, because I like the taste.  I buy a twelve-pack and it lasts one to two months.  Usually the 12-ounce can is more than I want and I pour some of it down the drain.  

If any of you have had a similar experience, email me and I might share your story here.  No, this is not going to become an anti-Coke blog.  I'll get back to the chickens and cows tomorrow.

Aspartame

I, personally, don't use aspartame.  I don't care for any of the diet sodas.  Cliff drinks quite a bit of Diet Coke.  I do use Sweet N Low in our morning oatmeal or cream of wheat, and in tea; but that's saccharin, something that's been around for years.  
You can go to Google and search for facts about Aspartame; what comes up is a bunch of witch-doctor stuff from the same kinds of people who take alfalfa pills and such... people who are usually among the sickest I know, by the way, always having headaches and other problems.  So I've ignored the criticism of aspartame  until lately, until someone I know had a personal experience.  
When I say "a person I know", I'll tell you I have never met her in person, but I've known her online for years.  Kelly lives in Georgia, and she's had a personal experience with aspartame.  This morning I asked her on Facebook to summarize her experience with the product so I could blog about it.  Here's what she had to say:  

I drank a lot of drinks with aspertame in them. For months I had what I thought was stomach pains off and on. Especially right after I would eat, it would get bad. Once the pain started I had to lay down or it would get worse, and sometimes it got worse anyway. I would take pain killers to try and make it subside. (Ibuprofin, etc) Usually it won out and I would go down for days. I couldnt do anything from the pain. Shelby and Ian had to fend for themselves and the chickens and animals had to be cared for best they could by Ian and Shelby. I went to visit a friend in Alabama and it got so bad there I waited until daylight and then drove home moaning and in miserable abdomina pain. Once I got home I laid down. By 10:30 that night I told Ian I couldn't take the pain anymore to take me to the hospital. Once we got to the hospital and I was checked out, they took a blood sample of course and came back and said Mrs. Corley do you know you have diabetes? I was floored. They set up for me to have an ultrasound done of my liver. As I waited they gave me an IV of morphine to help with the pain. After the ultrasound the findings were in fact lesions on my liver. Lesions on my liver had caused my pancreas to stop functioning properly and processing sugars, thus the diabetes. I went to a diabetes specialist doctor and ended up on shots, checking blood levels, the whole nine yards. I was told I had Type 2 diabetes and I would have it the rest of my life. I began to take natural supplements to help heal my liver, as the liver is a regenerative organ. One day I took my morning shot and just about went down on the floor. I rushed to the kitchen and shoved a couple of granola bars in my mouth and laid down. Within 15 minutes I felt better. From that day forward I checked my blood sugar regularly for months and it was normal. I never took another shot. I also never went back to the doctor because they lie and they dont always know what they are doing. I did the right things to heal my body and eat the right foods and drink the right things and here I sit today.


As a side note, after I left the hospital, even after I was diagnosed with diabetes, I was sent to a gastrologist (gastrointestinal doc?) and I think to this day he just wanted to do a bunch of stuff to me because I had good insurance. He asked me questions like do you have acid reflux. No, I do not. Do you have ulcers? No, I do not. He wanted to send me to the hospital to have a biopsy done on my liver, which would have required a 48 hour stay, and a painful procedure. He also wanted to run a camera down my throat and into my stomach just to 'check' and be sure. Wait. We already established it was my LIVER and it was not anything to do with my stomach?? I know some people trust docs to do whatever to them, but I said NO. I walked out, and guess what? I didnt die! I am still here! Amazing isnt it?  I knew what had caused it. It was the aspertame in the drinks. I stopped that, never touched anything with it in it again, and my liver healed itself.

Ian (Kelly's husband) has a coworker that actually has been told by his doctor that he has cancer because he drank so many Diet Cokes with aspertame in it for so long. Why it is still allowed is beyond me.

Sorry about the way the fonts change in this entry.  Every time I try to copy and paste something to my blog from Facebook, I mess it up in some way.

Monday, September 16, 2013

I'm a hoarder

We moved back here behind the barn five and a half years ago.  I threw away a few books, but kept most:  some I thought I would eventually read, and some I loved the first time I read them.  Looking at the bookcase in the bedroom, I realized that I haven't read, or re-read, any of the books I moved.  And I'm getting ready to move them back to the house?  

That's silly, I muttered to myself.  I'll just keep the ones I have a real attachment for.  

But as I went through them, half of those books tugged at my heart!  


Here are some I am definitely keeping:  a book about old Kansas City by a local author who is also a Facebook friend; a Bible Story book like the one I read as a child; a couple of books about Johnny Cash and one about Hank Williams; all my Pioneer Woman books because they are personally autographed to me, by name; a little self-published book, I think, about the history of the town of Wellington; an old Uncle Wiggly Book I used to read to my oldest grandson; and some shape-note hymnbooks from my childhood.   


Here are some I wanted to keep, but decided to stop hoarding.  There are three Bibles here, and it's hard for me to throw away a Bible.  That one in the foreground, "Horses Never Lie", turned my last horse into my best buddy, but I won't have any more horses and it's stupid to keep it.  There's a box set of the Little House On the Prairie books I'm attached to but won't read again.  A couple of nice coffee-table books by Life Magazine, but we don't have a coffee table and I've never done more with them than flip through to glance at the quite interesting pictures.  I've read Jimmy Carter's book, "An Hour Before Daylight", twice and love it, but I'm probably done with it.  


These books are all leaning because of the ones I removed.  A lot of these I picked up cheap at garage sales thinking I'd read them.  There are a couple of Sue Grafton books there, and I see yet another Bible.  Since I started reading E-books, I seem not to have a desire to read actual books.  

Thrift stores accept books, and that's probably where I'll take these.  Now that I've started de-cluttering books, I wonder what I'll work on next?

*added later*  I posted this link on Facebook, and one friend asked for the Little House set and "Horses Never Lie".  

Tomatoes, tomatoes, tomatoes

It has been a marvelous year for tomatoes around here, even though they got off to a late start due to a chilly spring.  I have canned tomatoes and juice, and my daughter has hauled bushels of tomatoes to work to pass out amongst her co-workers.  The supply is slowing down and the tomatoes are getting smaller.  Blight has almost killed the heirloom varieties, while the blight-resistant plants look as though they will give us tomatoes until frost, and even after, if I pick some of the green ones and bring them inside.  
I'm sick of messing with tomatoes now.  I don't need to can any more.  A while back I tried my hand at sauce.  Thanks to advice from a friend who had already been down that road, I knew I should put the juice in my heaviest pan to reduce it to sauce; a light-weight pan, she told me, would cause the juice/sauce to burn and stick to the bottom. 

My mother gave me her two best stainless steel pans many years ago.  She bought them at one of those parties where a guy cooks a meal for several people with very few groceries, using little or no oil or shortening.  The pans were terribly expensive; I was surprised Mother bought them, as frugal as she was.  Anyhow, she used them for years and passed them along to me.  The pan you see here is the larger one, which holds a little over a gallon.  Last time I made tomato sauce it cooked for six hours or so on medium, and never offered to stick.  
Now, my Ball Blue Book said to reduce the juice 50% and it would be sauce.  Perhaps they assumed I would be using Roma tomatoes, which don't produce as much juice as regular ones, because when it was reduced by half, it was about the thickness of commercially canned tomato juice.  

I'd say I reduced mine down to about 20% of what I started with before it seemed thick enough.  

I canned the sauce in half-pint jars and came up with six jars.  You can buy tomato sauce for fifty cents a can.  I cooked all day long, made a big mess, and had three bucks' worth of product at the end. Not worth it, I decided.  I probably used three bucks' worth of propane!

So guess what I'm doing today?  Making more sauce.  I had all these ripe tomatoes sitting around the kitchen in buckets and I just hated to think about tossing them out.  I guess there's the pride of making it myself to be considered.     

Sunday, September 15, 2013

We'll be moving

Cliff's sister wisely decided to buy a house, and will be moving in a week.  

The more I thought about renting either the house or the mobile home out, the less I liked the idea.  If we stayed here in the mobile home, we would have to pay two electric bills, because Cliff's shop, the barn, and, most important, the well pump, are with the old house. 
   
Also, the mortgage is on the house, not the mobile home.  The house has to be insured so if it burns down, the bank gets their money.  Insurance companies won't insure a house that is uninhabited.
  
I love living back here behind the barn, but it's more about the location, not about the actual dwelling.  I can walk back here any time I please and stroll among the flowers.  We are not really giving up anything except the little dab monthly that we were getting from Cliff's sister.   

Five years ago we had a mobile home across the driveway from the house where my mom once lived; when she moved on to senior housing, we rented it to a family of four who paid their rent and really didn't cause a lot of problems, but there was a lack of privacy and the place grew more unsightly and cluttered over the years.  When I walked out the back door, that mess was the first thing I saw.  Now, when we move back and I walk out the door of the old, two-story house in the morning, I will actually be able to see the sun rising over the pasture.    

In the old days, between the teenagers living in the trailer, teenagers on the left, and teenagers on the right, all of them trekking across our yard and partying all night practically right outside our window, I felt like I lived in a ghetto.  The rental trailer is gone, some of the former neighbors have moved, others have simply grown up and matured, and there seems to be very little partying or brawling at 3 A.M. these days.  Not that any of that ever bothered Cliff, because once he takes his hearing aid out and goes to bed, he hears nothing.  

Cliff's sister made some improvements to our old house, with us footing the bill, of course.  There is air conditioning now, and better storm windows all around, and some other amenities.  I will have a larger kitchen with a much bigger sink and more counter space than this place has, and the water pressure is better there.  There are advantages, and actually, if I made a list, that house probably has more going for it than the mobile home.   

If the right person came to our door and asked about renting either place, we would think about it.  But we aren't going to pursue renters.  I am enjoying my privacy.  

Cliff told me that if we move back to the house, it is entirely my decision.  He doesn't want to be held responsible or hear me griping.   

So there you have it.  Since my life is an open book here on the World Wide Web, I felt it necessary to tell my readers what's going on.

P.S.  I went to a Passion Party last night.  It was fun.  I won a prize that Cliff now uses to scare the dog.  

And that's all I'm saying about that.


       

Friday, September 13, 2013

A comfort food from my childhood

I knew Cliff and I would have crustless spinach quiche today, because that's what I made for our main course yesterday, and it makes four servings:  Two for yesterday, two for today.  

Crustless spinach quiche

4 eggs
1/3 cup half and half (or milk)
1 1/2 cups (6 oz) shredded swiss or mozzarella cheese
1 10-ounce package of frozen chopped spinach, cooked and drained
4 slices bacon, crisp-cooked and crumbled
1 tsp. lemon juice (optional)
1/2 tsp salt

1.  Beat eggs with half-and-half until light and fluffy.
2.  Blend in cheese, spinach, bacon, lemon juice and salt.  Pour into lightly greased quiche dish or pie pan.
3.  Heat oven to 350.  Cook 40 to 45 minutes or until knife inserted near center comes out clean.  
4.  Cut into 10 wedges and serve.  

I cut it into 4 wedges, and by my figures that comes to about 250 calories per serving, even with all that cheese.  

I nearly always forget to add the lemon juice, so I guess it isn't needed.  This is a recipe I had forgotten about for ages, or when I did think of it there was no bacon in the house, or no chopped spinach in the freezer.  I don't have to worry about eggs at the present time, since I'm getting about six a day from my hens.  In fact, that's what jogged my memory about the recipe, wondering, "How can I use all these eggs?"  
However, this is not the dish from my childhood that the title speaks of.  My mother, grandma, and aunts probably never heard of quiche.    

I needed to decide what to fix to go with the leftover quiche.  I decided to use the half-head of cabbage in the refrigerator to make stir-fried cabbage with onion and green peppers.  I could have made smothered okra, but we just had that a few days ago.  Looking at all the tomatoes sitting around the kitchen, it came to me:  Macaroni and tomatoes:  I love that, and I never think to make it!  
So I skinned a few tomatoes, chopped them, and cooked them with finely diced bits of sweet pepper and onion to make stewed tomatoes.  When that was well cooked, I added some salt... not much, because I don't salt heavily.  And I added enough sugar so there was a pleasant sweet taste to it, and enough corn starch to thicken it.  I poured in the macaroni I had boiled, and took a taste.  Perfection!  
Cliff's Aunt Gertrude is the only person I know, other than me, who still makes macaroni and tomatoes.  She serves the dish at almost every family dinner at her house.  When we're there, I'll see it on the table and think, "How come I never remember to make that?"  

I've seen and heard it called a depression dish because it doesn't cost much to make. 

And there's plenty left for tomorrow!

How many of my readers aged fifty and over ate macaroni and tomatoes as a child?  I'll bet most of you, especially those with roots on the farm.  How long has it been since you've made it?     

And now I'm remembering another favorite:  Creamed macaroni.  It's something I used to ask Grandma to make when I spent time at her house.  Another depression dish.  

Thursday, September 12, 2013

The flock

Every afternoon around four o'clock, I let the chickens out.  I feel guilty that they don't have a pen attached to their house, and letting them roam for a couple of hours makes me feel better.  Animals have a sense of time when they are on a certain schedule, and as it approaches four P.M., those chickens come swarming to the door of their house to meet me.  
When I open the door wide, they come running and half-flying out and start scratching in the grass.  On these hot days, they make their way to the garden and loll around in the dirt to cool off between the rows of tomato plants.  They peck holes in the lower-hanging tomatoes, which at this point bothers me not at all, because I have plenty to share with them. 

The way Iris attacked small animals when I first got her, I would never have thought she would hang around chickens without killing them, but she acts as though they are invisible.  The other day I actually saw the rooster chase her away.  
  
The two Buff Orpington hens (the light-colored ones) are very tame, and one of them will even squat at my feet and let me pick her up when I reach down toward her.  All of the full-size hens will come up to me as I sit in a chair and eat chicken scratch out of a cup as I hold it, and one of them will fly up onto my lap.  

Cliff's brother gave me this banty hen because next year I want to have a hen to hatch a few chicks, and banties are the ones you can count on to go broody.  I call her Little Bit.  

Because Chickie and Little Bit are at the bottom of the pecking order, they tend to stay in the hen house for awhile when the others are outside, catching up on their eating.  In fact, Little Bit seems to be scared to leave the hen house.  

However, Chickie is gradually blending in with the flock.  I was surprised to see the rooster and the others so close to her little cooling-off bed in the tomatoes without attacking her, and without her running away.
  


Wednesday, September 11, 2013

So I can't post to Facebook tonight. Gee, thanks.

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Okra


Here you see my okra plants.  I counted twenty of them this morning; I could easily get all the harvest I want from ten.  Perhaps I will remember that next year.  These plants are now taller than I am, and by the time the season is over, I'll almost need a ladder to pick them.  
Last year a strange thing happened, at least locally:  the plants never got tall.  They produced a crop just fine, but everybody around had short okra plants.  Perhaps it had something to do with the drought.   
Okra demands nothing of me.  Once it has germinated and gotten a good start, it doesn't need to be watered, no matter how bad the drought gets.  The plant originally comes from Africa, and seems to thrive in the heat.  
I love fried okra, especially since I found this recipe. 

Southern Fried Okra

1 pound fresh okra
2 eggs, beaten
1/4 cup buttermilk
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup cornmeal
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon Cajun seasoning
Freshly ground pepper to taste
Vegetable oil

Wash and slice okra; pat dry with paper towels.

Combine eggs and buttermilk; add okra, and let stand for 10 minutes.

Combine flour, cornmeal, baking powder, salt and pepper.

Drain okra, small portions at a time, using a slotted spoon.

Dredge okra, small portions at a time, in flour mixture.

Pour oil to depth of 2 to 3-inches in a Dutch oven of deep-fat fryer and heat to 375*F (190*C). Fry okra until golden brown. Drain on paper towels and serve immediately.
Makes 4 servings.

I cook mine in a cast-iron skillet on medium heat.  This year I'm experimenting with coating it, spreading the pieces on a cookie sheet so they don't touch, freezing it, and pouring it into a freezer bag.  Here's hoping we can enjoy fried okra a few times this winter.  

I enjoy smothered okra, too.  For use in this type of recipe and for the gumbo below, I simply slice the pods and freeze them.  I don't thaw before using, just measure the frozen, sliced okra and add it right to the pot.

SMOTHERED OKRA
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped green pepper
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons butter or oil
2 cups cut okra
2 cups chopped, peeled tomato
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1/8 teaspoon (or more if you like things hot) cayenne pepper

Cook and stir onion, garlic, and sweet pepper over medium heat for five minutes or until tender.  Add other ingredients, cover, and simmer twenty minutes, or until okra is very tender.



CHICKEN GUMBO

1 Tablespoon margarine, butter, or olive oil
1 large yellow onion
1 clove garlic, minced
½ small green pepper, chopped
1 med. Stalk celery, chopped
2 Tablespoons flour
1 15 oz can tomatoes
1 c chicken broth
¼ tsp hot pepper sauce or cayenne
2 cups s sliced okra, fresh or frozen
1 ½ cups cooked chicken or turkey

melt margarine and add onion, garlic, pepper and celery. Cook till veggies are soft. Blend in flour and cook 3 minutes. Stir in tomatoes, broth, and hot sauce. Cook, stirring constantly, till mixture thickens and comes to a boil, 3-5 minutes. Add okra, bring to a boil, and cook 6-8 minutes. Add chicken and heat through.   
  
I also like to toss a handful of frozen slices into any vegetable soup or stew I make in the winter.  How much okra you use depends on how much you like the "slime" it creates.




Still missing her mom, 36 hours later



Jenny bawled pretty much non-stop yesterday and, as far as I know, all night long last night.  Right now there is silence, so she must have gotten hungry enough to graze.  

On the plus side, Miss Jenny has always been a bit of a touch-me-not.  Who needs humans when you have your mom to take care of you, right?  Well, now she lets me pet her, rub her back, and scratch her neck.  She has never cared much for grain.  This morning after shooting this video, she actually ate the sweet feed I served her.  We might end up best friends.    

I told Cliff Jenny was standing at the barn door as though waiting for her mom to come out, as she did when I milked Jody.  Cliff said, "Why not let her in the barn so she can see Jody isn't there?"  
Why didn't I think of that?  The man has finally learned some things about cow psychology from me.  I opened the door back and secured it in place, and Jenny went inside and sniffed at every item in there.  When she came back out she left the barn area, rejoined the other cows, and after a few minutes, stopped her incessant bawling.  

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Another scorcher

We've having near one-hundred degree temperatures every day, with no rain, as usual.  The garden continues to produce food for the table, though.  My mid-summer-planted beets are a great success, even though the sweet potato vines have completely covered them up.
You really have to search to find those beets.  You may recognize the leaf of another plant in that picture. 

Somehow some melons ended up in there with the sweet potatoes.  I don't recall planting melons in that area, but who knows?  

I'm watering these late carrots with a watering can in the evenings.  

I was amazed at the radishes I planted a month ago.  They aren't too hot, and made nice big, round radishes.  This is my most recent planting, which seems to be doing well too.  I don't eat many radishes, but Cliff devours them.  The lettuce I planted the same day hasn't emerged; seems like I read someplace that lettuce won't germinate in hot weather, so it may never do anything.  Three days ago I found some beet seeds and planted those.  I don't know if there's time for them to develop before winter, but I'm learning new things just by trying.  Beets are SO reliable!  
I don't can my pickled beets.  I make up a gallon or so and store them in the refrigerator.  The cookbook says they will keep in the refrigerator for a month; I don't know about that, since a gallon of pickled beets never lasts that long around here.  

I've learned to cook the beets in the evening and let them set all night.  That way they are cool when I peel them and put them to simmer in the pickling solution the next morning.  

I am surprised that I haven't heard Jenny bawling for her mother, Jody, this morning.  She must have been ready to wean.  I expected things to be pretty noisy around the barnyard for a couple of days, at least.  This morning she was calmly grazing with the rest of the herd.  



  

Monday, September 09, 2013

One of my favorite poems

I first read this poem in an ancient version of "Book of Knowledge".  I was 10 or 12 years old when I discovered it.  I've never been one to have a lot of friends, so these words spoke to me in a huge way that you probably can't even imagine.  They still do.  There is truth in these verses.  Back in my teens and early twenties, this poem kept hope alive in my soul.  Someone on Facebook posted a quote by John Burroughs, and it reminded me of these words from his golden pen.  His words probably changed my life.  

Never give up.

Waiting

Serene, I fold my hands and wait,
Nor care for wind, nor tide, nor sea;
I rave no more 'gainst time or fate,
For lo! my own shall come to me.

I stay my haste, I make delays,
For what avails this eager pace?
I stand amid the eternal ways,
And what is mine shall know my face.

Asleep, awake, by night or day,
The friends I seek are seeking me;
No wind can drive my bark astray,
Nor change the tide of destiny.

What matter if I stand alone?
I wait with joy the coming years;
My heart shall reap where it hath sown,
And garner up its fruit of tears.

The waters know their own and draw
The brook that springs in yonder height;
So flows the good with equal law
Unto the soul of pure delight.

The stars come nightly to the sky;
The tidal wave unto the sea;
Nor time, nor space, nor deep, nor high,
Can keep my own away from me. 

Goodbye, Jody

We waited as long as we could today to take Jody to the butcher shop.  At 3:30 I went back on "the point" where the cows were lying in the shade.  I put a halter on her, attached the lead rope, and made her get up.  She followed me just like a dog would follow.  The phrase "like a lamb to the slaughter" came to mind (Isaiah 53:7).  We had very little problem getting her in the stock trailer, which makes me feel good.  I don't like animals that are heading to the butcher shop to get upset in any way.    

As I was leading Jody from the back of the pasture I thanked her for being such a good pet when she was small; for being such an easy cow to milk, never kicking or messing in the barn while I was milking; and for presenting me with a beautiful heifer calf.  I also thanked her for the meat we'll be putting in our freezer.  She has fulfilled her purpose on earth in many ways.  Isn't that what life is about?  

People always tell me they could never eat meat from an animal they raised, but I have no problem with that.  Oh, I'm teary-eyed right now, but I would rather eat the meat of an animal that I know had a wonderful, happy life than to eat meat of cattle that are so cruelly treated in a slaughter-house.  

Jody weighed a little over 1,000 pounds.  Dairy animals butcher out at about 50%, so that's around 500 pounds of beef, mostly ground.  The oldest grandson and Heather are paying for the processing at the butcher shop, and for that they get half the meat.  

I chose not to put any pictures of Jody in this entry.  If you want to see pictures of her, just type "Jody" in the search feature at the upper left-hand corner of my blog.  Many entries, with pictures, will come up.

Saturday, September 07, 2013

Helping cows to cope with their fears

The two grown cows, Bonnie and Jody, had no problem going through the opening in the electric fence to get to the clover, as I mentioned in another entry.  I had to lead Gracie through twice before she got the idea, and it took four times of being led into the clover for Penny to get the idea; but this morning she made it.  That left three bovines outside the clover:  Jenny, George, and Crystal, who are not tame enough to lead.  
Yesterday I told Cliff, "I think if we rigged something up with a couple of panels so it would look to the cows like they were going through an opening in a regular fence instead of an electric fence, we could get them all in there."  
Cliff couldn't see why I was so worried about getting them all into the clover field, since there is plenty of grazing outside that area.  But he's used to patronizing my whims.  (I want them on that clover because it's higher in protein than plain old grass, so they can grow faster, make more milk, grow a nicer calf, etc.)  

So here's what Cliff did.  Instead of concentrating on the nearby "hot wire", the cows would now feel as though they were going through an ordinary fenced entryway.  You've probably figured out by now that cows aren't all that bright.  

All but one of my cows will now enter to eat the clover.  That white one that you can see between two other cows, in the distance?  That's George.  He's on the outside, keeping as close to his herd as possible.  

If all else fails, he can hang out with the horses.  Poor Lonesome George.

Thursday, September 05, 2013

The garden

*UPDATE ON THE PREVIOUS ENTRY*  Grace found her way into the clover field unassisted.  I still had to lead Penny in, but she hardly fought it at all.  There is hope!  


In the most distant row, you can see carrots that hardly did anything, thanks to the drought.  One row closer, there's a spotty row of Top Crop green beans that I would have pulled up, but I think maybe I'll get a mess or two of green beans out of it; those things produce amazingly well.  Closer yet is the late row of carrots I planted in August.  Most of them came up, and I am hoping for some homegrown carrots in the next few weeks.  
On the left side of the picture, that's where the late cabbages were.  The plants did well, but the worms invaded big time.  I still managed to salvage about six heads.  They were planted from seed, so they didn't cost much.  


You are looking at a sea of sweet potato vines, Beauregard variety (with Virginia Creeper and honeysuckle mixed in).  You can't tell by the picture, but one row of these sweet potatoes takes up eighteen feet of space altogether.  I know this because I took my tape measure out and checked.  I love sweet potatoes, but imagine how many rows of something else I could have planted in that space.  Probably about six.  Maybe I won't plant sweet potatoes next year.  Of course, we do have over forty acres.  Maybe I'll just have Cliff plow up more garden space.

Stupid cows

We've had the cows in the alfalfa/grass field for some time, but they were trimming it a little shorter than we liked.  We have both hayfields electric-fenced.  The way we keep the horses out is to string an electric wire up high enough for the cows to get under, but low enough that the horses would get shocked if they tried to go in.  This has always worked great, with the exception of one of Bonnie's calves, who refused to ever go under the electric fence.  While his mother feasted on the good stuff, he picked at bluegrass on the outside.  

This was the opening to the alfalfa/grass field.  Cliff closed it off yesterday with a piece of cattle paneling.  No cow has ever hesitated to enter that field.  

This is the opening to the clover field.  

Crystal, Bonnie's daughter, will not go through that opening.  Neither will George, seen at the right of the picture.  The other four are in the field, but two of them were dragged in by me.  

Four cows in the clover (Bonnie, Jody, Grace, and Penny), three cows outside (Crystal, Jenny, and George).  

Penny in mid-chew, knee-deep in clover.  She's wearing a halter because I had to drag her into the clover with a rope.  No easy task for an old woman.

Four cows enjoying the clover, three cows just wishing they had some clover.

I asked Cliff if he had any idea why they will enter the other pasture but not this one and he had an excellent answer:  The opening to the alfalfa (now closed) has fence or panels on either side, so it doesn't feel to the cows as though they are walking right through an electric fence.  

Wednesday, September 04, 2013

If you could meet any living person, who would you choose?

I've seen this question posed time and time again.  I have thought of various people I admire, thinking how nice it would be to meet them.  Then I realize I wouldn't know what to say to them if I met them.  I'd be so tongue-tied, I would be wasting my time with any of those idols of mine.

Last night Cliff and I were watching Youtube videos of old country music entertainers, and I suddenly realized I had found the one person I could meet; the one who, if I became tongue-tied, would talk to me until I felt comfortable.

Willie Nelson.

We've seen him perform in person.  He cares about his audience.  We love him for that.  But watching a video of him singing back in the old days before he became "an outlaw", back when he was a Baptist deacon, I watched his face.  I watched his eyes.  I would be comfortable talking to him.

Here's the video that made me realize I really do want to meet Willie Nelson.  Be sure to look at that face, those eyes.  Watch closely.  


Sometimes you worry even when you think you are not worrying.

Cliff recently went to the doctor for his yearly physical.  All his prescriptions needed renewing, so there was no way out of going.  After the examination and a few questions, the doctor told us he would see us in a year, that everything looked good and that the office would call with results of his blood tests.  
Two days later a nurse called to say that one of his tests showed him to be a little anemic; he needed to go back and get yet more blood tests.  
"No wonder I'm anemic," Cliff said.  "They are taking all my blood!"  
On the way home, he asked me why he would be anemic, since that has never been a problem before.  
"Well," I told him, "four months ago a surgeon came out of the operating room to tell me that your gall bladder was fused to your liver.  He said getting it removed was like taking paint off a wall.  I imagine you lost quite a bit of blood in the process of a seven-to-eight-hour surgery.  I'll bet that's the cause."  
"Oh yeah, you're probably right," he answered.  
Usually any time blood tests are run at our doctor's office, we get a call the next day with results, even if everything is normal.  As we got ready to go to Iowa, I mentioned that they would probably be calling Thursday as we traveled, to let us know what the new tests revealed.  
They didn't, nor did they call Friday.  The first thought in my mind?  I swear to you, I thought, "They aren't calling because it's bad news and they don't want to ruin our holiday weekend."  
Where did THAT come from?  I didn't think I was worried at all.  At this point, the word "leukemia" sneaked into my brain.
You need to remember that I'm a little punchy after that mess in April.  Oh yeah, and the memory of the daughter's fight last year with cancer always looms near; sure, she's cancer-free, but cancer leaves a long shadow that never quite goes away.  
A person just never knows what's going to sneak up on her or her family.      
  
Today Cliff got a voice mail on his cell phone saying to call and get the results.  I called back and left them a voice mail.  That two-hour wait for them to call back had me on pins and needles.  
Finally they called, telling Cliff things were fine but that they want to see him in three months.  
Whew.  We are assuming they just want to make sure he isn't anemic at that time, because originally he wasn't supposed to go back for a year.  

But I feel MUCH better.

Merry-go-round at Mt. Pleasant

I rode the merry-go-round at Old Thresher's, and I made Cliff ride too.  He wouldn't get on a horse, though.  He sat on a bench seat behind me.  These horses don't go up and down like those on merry-go-rounds of my childhood; they simply rock back and forth like a rocking chair.


Just think, my grandmother was only a girl when this thing was manufactured.


This is what makes the merry-go-round go around.  Steam power!


And this supplies the music!

I happened to find a Youtube video showing the whole thing in action.  (Sorry you have to watch a few seconds of a commercial before it gets under way.)

Tuesday, September 03, 2013

Yes, I've been busy

Cliff and I wanted to go to Mt. Pleasant, Iowa, for the Old Settler's Reunion.  Trouble is, we no longer have a camper, and motels for fifty miles around are usually booked months ahead for the event.  I mentioned that we could buy another tent, but neither Cliff or I wanted to do that.  I started calling motels, just in case somebody might have cancelled at the last minute.  Imagine my surprise when the second motel I called had one room available:  It was $119, and had a Jacuzzi tub.  That's more than I like to pay for a motel, but I knew it was our only chance, so I grabbed it.  
I usually read a book aloud, on a road trip, to keep Cliff awake and to make the time pass faster for both of us, but this time I checked out some audio books from the library.  Although we neither one liked the way the first book, one of the Spenser series, was written (too many "he saids" and "she saids") , it did help pass the time and we followed it through to the very predictable ending.  The book we started on the way home was much better, but we'll never finish it unless we go on some spur-of-the-minute road trip between now and September 13.  


Drilling a well


Cliff found lots of junk useful items for sale.  

While he looked at useful items, I went for a train ride.  You'll find a Youtube video HERE, but I should have had my Ipad turned the other way when I made the video.  
It was 104 degrees at the hottest part of the day, which took some of the pleasure out of things, but we enjoyed ourselves anyhow, and a couple of nights away from home are always fun.  I may share more pictures in another entry.  

There are some changes coming to our vast estate in the near future:  Cliff's sister, who has lived in our old house for over five years and taken excellent care of it, has bought her own place and will be moving in a couple of weeks.  She is very excited, and we are happy for her.  However, we're not sure what our next move will be.  We're not fond of the idea of renting the house out to strangers.  Been there, done that.  It's an imperfect house, and some people might not want to live there.  Although if the right person came along, we would rent it very cheaply.  What is the right person, you ask?  An old couple with no pets that doesn't throw wild parties and goes to Texas in the winter. Oh, and with no pesky grandchildren or grown children that would want to move in with them.  
Yes, we know.  That perfect rental couple doesn't exist; if they can afford to go to Texas, they don't need cheap rent or desire life in the boonies.  
The insurance company, as well as our bank, demands that somebody be living in that house.  The bank has no interest in our mobile home.  As far as they are concerned, it doesn't exist.  Cliff suggested perhaps we might rent the mobile home out, but mobile homes are built very cheaply.  They deteriorate fast enough when the owner lives in them; you can imagine how quickly they fall to ruin when occupied by most renters.  We know this from experience.  
I prefer my yard and the view where I'm living now; if we are not going to rent the old house out, we would have to move back into it.  We would lose the rental income, but we've only been getting a very tiny sum for it because of who was living there, knowing she would take care of it.  I think we could tighten our monthly budget by such a pittance.  
Some of the major problems that drove me back behind the barn have disappeared into thin air.  Not-so-desirable neighbors, the falling-down rental trailer, kids on every side partying until 4 A.M. and walking across our yard  All those things are just fast-fading memories.  I could always bring my morning coffee over here, sit on the back porch, and watch the sun come up, just as I do now.  We would, of course, turn off the electricity and drain the pipes.  The mobile home would be waiting for us if and when something else turned up, or if we changed our minds.  
We shall see what happens.  Wish us luck!  I'll keep you updated.