Wednesday, May 30, 2012

No, I am NOT ashamed

I have never considered myself "religious".  Even during the most "churchy" times of my life, I did not proselytize  in any way.  I did not hand out tracts or sneak them under the toilet paper in public bathrooms as I heard others say they have done.  I didn't hand tracts to the tellers at banks.  I guess I am not a tract person.  I used to feel guilty that I didn't care more about lost souls.  

Now, I know the Bible says the fields are white unto harvest and more workers are needed.  Sorry, I've never been too good at that.  Oh yes, I went on two missions trips to Mexico to help with programs and Bible schools for children, but honestly, I went because I wanted to see Mexico and we couldn't afford a vacation at the time.  I was touched, however, by the people there.  They seem so light-hearted and happy, to have so little.  I came home very thankful for my house and all I have.  Mexico taught me more than I taught those children.  

I have never been ashamed of going to church.  
Hold on, I am leading up to something here.  

When I did the entry about how I wrote "God's Patchwork Quilt", I started out with a disclaimer that went something like this:  "Warning.  Religious content, if you are not comfortable with that, move along."
Then I thought of blogs I read that make fun of God and religion, and I realized none of them give any warning or disclaimer.  In fact, many of those people seem to have the primary goal of poking fun at others' beliefs in hopes those people will read what they have to say and feel bad about themselves.   

I support their right to speak their minds.  So then, why shouldn't I speak mine?  
I won't go into detail, but my beliefs have become ever more liberal as I grow older.  However, God is still a big part of my life. 

I talk to God often throughout the day, but I don't usually ask Him to change the order of things or perform miracles.  I ask Him for strength to deal with whatever comes my way, and I ask the same for my loved ones.  

At my age I seem to always be misplacing something, and when I've looked everywhere without results, I stop, take a deep breath, and say, "God, You are going to have to help me or I'll never find it."  
Nine times out of ten, He does.  

I'm sure that to people outside the church (in my book, "the Church" includes various denominations, not just one) might find the words to Patchwork Quilt rather insulting:  "We once were ragged remnants...," "a person without Jesus isn't much to brag about," etc.  
These lines are written from my viewpoint, from what my life was without Jesus.  The song isn't meant to put down outsiders.  It's all about me and my past.

In the end, I removed the disclaimer.  It's my blog, my beliefs, and my song. 

You don't have to like it. 

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Catching up

We had a great weekend.  Nephew Scotty asked me on Facebook if we would be home Sunday; I told him we would, except for the hour or so we would be gone to church.  Then I told him I was singing a song I wrote, and invited him and his girl friend, Marsha, to come out and go with us.  They arrived on Scotty's motorcycle in plenty of time to go.  
All I am going to say about singing at church is that by the time I got up to sing, I was a nervous wreck.  It's been so long, like about twenty years!  I got through it, though.  
After church I breaded tenderloins and we had tenderloin sandwiches.  The grandson and Heather arrived about the time we were finishing, so I fixed them tenderloins too.  Scotty wanted to see our daughter, Rachel, and we had expected her to come out for a visit at some point, but finally we got tired of waiting and went to her house instead, on our motorcycles.  Since she already had a house full of company (probably the reason she hadn't been able to leave), we didn't stay too long.
Then we went for a bike ride east on 24 highway to Waverly.

We took this picture of Scotty and Marsha at a park in Waverly.  That's the Missouri River behind them, of course.  
We are eating green beans and potatoes and beets from the garden now.  I am absolutely DREAMING of ripe tomatoes, but of course it will be awhile till that happens.  Probably a month, at least.  There are tiny cucumbers and zucchini on the vines.  
We had intended to ride the bike to Versailles Monday, but when I got up yesterday morning, my heart just wasn't in it and I wanted to stay home.  Cliff was agreeable to that.  We did ride to Excelsior Springs today, and I told Cliff we need to do more of our errand-running on the motorcycle like we used to when we first got it.  It was really a fun little ride.

Here we are returning home through Lexington today.  
It's pretty warm, but the windows are open and the A/C is off for the first time in three days.  We're supposed to have a real nice cool-down the next three days, and there's a chance of rain.  I am crossing my fingers.  The soaker hoses just don't do as good a job watering the tomatoes as a good old-fashioned rain does.  

Just so you know, I hate entries like this where I say "We did this, we did that, then we... blah blah blah."  But I have a sister-in-law in St. Louis who likes to know what's going on with us, so there you have it.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Lurrene Czeshin, co-songwriter

Once in awhile a chance meeting can lead to some unexpected surprises.  
By the way, the last name on the heading of this post is not pronounced the way it's spelled.  You pronounce the last name to rhyme with the first, which results in a very musical-sounding name.  
Because I was asked to sing at church last Sunday, I dug out the old songs I wrote back in the 90's, dusted them off, and practiced them a little.  I separated the ones I consider to be good from the big stack of mediocre.  One of my favorites of the "good" ones is called "God's Patchwork Quilt", and if Lurrene had not dropped by one day to ask a favor, it would never have been written.  Back then I used to sing at various local functions, and when I sang this song I sometimes jokingly said that Lurrene was the co-writer.  

A group of ladies met on Tuesdays at Napoleon Methodist Church to quilt.  Once a year they would invite ladies from other churches to join them.  They would have a little program, refreshments, and a devotional, and they'd all gather round the quilt frames, stitching and chatting.        
Back then I was making myself write a poem every day, sort of a project, a challenge.  As you can imagine, this resulted in a lot of lousy poetry, but sometimes a good one came forth from my efforts.  Lurrene, a lady I only knew as my neighbor Diane's aunt, called one afternoon and asked if she could come and talk to me, and I told her to come ahead.  
She wondered if perhaps I could come up with a poem "or something" that would work into the theme of their upcoming ladies' day.  The theme was "quilts".  
If someone gave me a one-word topic today and asked me to write a poem, I probably would not even attempt it, but back then I was a pretty prolific writer, so I told her I was sure I could come up with something.  
As I started writing, I realized this poem needed to become a song, so I started strumming chords on my guitar and came up with a tune.  As with the very few good songs I've written, the thing absolutely wrote itself.  I could hardly write the words down as fast as they came to me.  
So last week, as I went through the songs trying to decide which one to sing at church, Lurrene Czeshin came to mind every time I would run through "God's Patchwork Quilt.  It was the song I was going to sing, but I decided to let Cliff choose, and he picked a different one.  He wouldn't have cared what I sang, but I went with his choice.    
Lurrene died yesterday at the age, I believe, of ninety, and now I wonder if I was supposed to sing Patchwork Quilt after all.  I would have been singing it at about the time she died.    


When you're in someone's house and see a pretty quilt displayed
Did you ever stop to think about the way that it was made?
Somebody took some remnants and they trimmed them down to size
And created something beautiful that's fit to win a prize.  
Now a person without Jesus isn't much to brag about,
Just a dirty, ragged remnant that the devil would throw out.
But Jesus' blood has cleansed us and acquitted us from guilt
And He's found a place to put us in His lovely patchwork quilt.  

The pieces all are different, but we share these noble goals:
A life that's worth the living and salvation of the soul!
God trims my ragged edges and conforms me to His will,
And if sometimes I unravel, well, He's working on me still.
Isaiah said our righteousness is naught but filthy rags;
So nothing I could do would give me any cause to brag.
But I'm a part of something for which Jesus' blood was spilt
And when we all work together, we're a lovely patchwork quilt.  

We're different shapes and sizes, yes, and different colors too,
But we're all necessary from the Father's point of view.
We each one need the other to perform without a hitch,
So the Lord binds us in unity with love in every stitch.  
We once were ragged remnants but we're now a work of art,
And what God joins together, let nobody tear apart!
Don't ever take for granted this old Church that Jesus built,
For He died that we might all become his lovely patchwork quilt.  

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Good news!

The little bluebird I rescued this morning stayed in the bottom of the bucket I had lined with hay for a couple of hours.  I went to check on him and decided to find some safe place for him outside, since I didn't want to interfere with nature.  When I picked up the bucket, he started flapping his wings like crazy.  I held him in there as best I could because I wanted to put him in a tree where Mama Kitty wouldn't find him.  Well, I got to the Bradford pear tree out front, reached in the bucket, and he took off flying, landing on the ground up against Cliff's shop.  A half-hour or so later, I went to check on him and saw he was still there, but when I approached, he flew to one of the pine trees behind the shop.  So I feel as though I gave him a second chance, if nothing else.  I'll bet he has a headache!  (Obviously I snagged this picture off the Internet.) 
I've had a productive day:  I pitted all the cherries I picked yesterday and got three more quarts for the freezer.  I pulled the half-dead peavines and the spinach that was going to seed, tilled that area, and planted some green beans.  

Oh yes, I picked our first green beans and dug a few potatoes for green beans and new potatoes cooked with turkey kielbasa.  I did not intend to get my big ugly feet in the picture, but didn't have time or desire to retake the shot.  
While I was doing this entry, my next-door sister-in-law called and asked if I wanted the bones from a turkey she cooked today.  You bet!  I put it in the freezer for use in turkey frame soup on some cooler day.     

One of many reasons I hate English Sparrows

This is a half-grown bluebird I found on the bare floor of the bluebird house.  Sparrows kept building nests in there for a couple of months, and I'd tear out the nests before they could use them.  I really don't know what this little guy was doing in there with no nest, but he was; Cliff and I were heading for our walk, and I wanted to check for sparrow nests.  At first I thought he was dead, but when I reached for him, he moved.  
"Remind me when we get back," I said.  "I'll see what's up with this bird."
We both forgot when we got back, so it was probably a half-hour later when I thought of it.  As I headed toward the birdhouse I noticed a sparrow sitting atop it, and another one nearby shouting encouragement.  That's when I realized the sparrows were intent on killing him.  If he dies, he'll be the third such victim of cruel sparrows.  

  See his poor bloody head?  I have him in a bucket.  I'm hoping he will be able to rest up and get his strength back in a few hours, but I'm not expecting it.

I think the bluebirds would be better off if I would just take the birdhouse down.  

Friday, May 25, 2012

Picking cherries again

A lot of the cherries are past their prime and falling from the tree.  I baked a pie yesterday that was SO delicious, I just couldn't bear to let all that potential goodness fall to the ground.  So I spent about two hours on the ladder again today, picking cherries.  A pair of robins scolded me unmercifully while my head was up in the branches, and I finally noticed their nest.  I got a little higher than I probably should have with my fake knee, but here's what I saw:  

Baby robins are ugly little creatures, aren't they?  I snapped several pictures, but this is the only one that wasn't blurry.  My head was just even with the bottom of the nest, so I couldn't actually see what I was getting a picture of.  Most of the shots were blurry.  Oh, but I did get a brief video!

I don't plan on picking any more cherries.  There are probably at least six cups I picked today from which to remove the seeds:  It's a sticky, messy, clothes-staining job I detest!  Don't suggest a cherry pitter, I have to watch for worms.  So I seed the little cherries one at a time.  

Four years ago I planted a trumpet vine out front to attract hummingbirds.  I was warned that these things can take over a place if not carefully watched.  If this one oversteps its bounds, Cliff will be Johnny-on-the-spot to take control.  There is one down the street from my daughter's house that has consumed a whole building... incredible!

The hummingbirds really appreciate these flowers.  Now that we've actually gotten some rain, perhaps all my flowers will bloom a little longer.  

Most of my day lilies turned brown and didn't bloom, but the Asiatic lilies are really showing off.

What is better than a timely rain?

Yesterday morning Cliff and I went to Bob Evans to eat breakfast, since I had mentioned the day before that I was craving an omelet.  
We used to patronize Denny's when we had a breakfast craving, but the closest one to us is a little greasy and has dirty windows sometimes.  At Bob Evans, the windows, tables, and floors are spotless.  Yes, this review is coming from a person who usually doesn't notice cobwebs on the ceiling in her own home unless she runs into one.  So sue me.  
The omelets were good, although after paying $20 for two of us (before the tip) with only water to drink because coffee is so expensive, I have to ask myself if it was worth it.  It really wasn't.  Do you know how many breakfasts I could fix for the two of us for $20?  And we can afford coffee at home, too, and I don't expect a tip.  
Next time we go to Bob Evans, I'm getting the biscuits and gravy to keep the cost down.  Their biscuits are really good, and they actually put sausage in the gravy.  But there again, I could make better biscuits and gravy at home for a much smaller price.  
While we were eating breakfast, a lady across the way overheard me saying something to Cliff about watering my garden and said, "There's a ten percent chance of rain later today."  
"It's never going to rain again," I answered.  
Of course I knew eventually rain would come, but I was getting so discouraged, what with moving the soaker hose around all the time and seeing my garden turn into a desert.  It just felt like rain would never come.  Or if it did come, it would likely only be a little sprinkle.  Sometimes I lean toward a pessimistic outlook.  
But last night the rains came, gentle rains that did no harm, but only good.  The kind of rain that soaks softly into the parched soil.  Cliff had just mowed the yard, and a couple of days before he had mowed the hay and gotten it put up.  Perfect.  He won't be mowing for hay the rest of the year; we'll let the cows graze it.  After all, it isn't really an alfalfa stand, it's a grass-mix pasture.  I don't think there will be a problem with bloat at this point.  
There's a little over an inch in the rain gauge.  Perfect.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Sweet Potato Ranch

I ordered a dozen sweet potato slips for $12 from George's Plant Farm a couple of months ago.  They arrived after six days in the mail.  The roots had been wrapped to keep them moist for their journey, but after so long a journey, of course there was no dampness left.  The plants were dry and the leaves so dried out they crumbled and fell off the slips when I unwrapped them.  
I ordered from George's Plant Farm last year and had a bumper crop of sweet potatoes, so I was very disappointed... not so much in George as in the United States Postal Service.  I emailed the farm and they informed me that they would be happy to send me more plants.  
As dead as the original slips seemed to be, I decided to plant them and see if maybe some of them would live.

This is pretty much what they all looked like when I set them out.  

And then, like Ezekiel's dead bones, they started showing signs of life!

Yes!  Those tiny slips on which I had given up REJOICED at the daily drinks I gave them and came back to life!

Some were more lively than others, but still.

Oh by the way, George never sends just a dozen.  If you order a dozen, he sends you at least sixteen plants.  So when I went out to take stock of things today, I realized I had fifteen living sweet potato slips.  Maybe sixteen:  The one in the top picture doesn't look like it's alive, but neither did the others when I set them out.  He might just be a little slow.  
Then I went to the mailbox a while ago and found that my replacement plants had arrived.  They were in great shape, by the way.  So what else could I do?  I started setting them out.  

There was room for some of them in the raised row with their older, valiant brothers.  

I put the rest in a row next to the raised row.  I did not raise this new row.  I was tired.  Let's call it an experiment to see whether I need to go all that trouble of making raised rows.  Yeah, that's it.  
I now have three dozen sweet potato vines, and no cellar in which to store sweet potatoes.  It's OK, though.  Last year I found out you can mash cooked sweet potatoes, put them in conveniently-sized containers, and freeze them.  We love sweet potatoes, and there's only one more container in the freezer.  

If you want a source of good, healthy sweet potatoes, guaranteed to arrive in decent shape, I highly recommend George's Plant Farm.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Hard times

After watching this, I realize I really don't know hard times.  I shared this on Facebook, then a friend posted it on his blog.  I've decided to share it on mine also.  Be prepared, the pictures are not pretty.  

This and that

Yesterday Cliff and I had almost finished our daily walk and were heading toward the house when I looked up toward the mowed alfalfa/grass field and saw a fox with his nose near the ground, walking slowly.  I was really surprised he hadn't seen or heard us, since we were keeping up a steady conversation.  We stopped, then took a few steps, still talking.  The fox didn't notice us.  
Finally I yelled at him at the top of my lungs,  "Hey!!!"  
He took one look at us, turned on the speed, and was out of there.  

We received our passports today.  Now, our original plan was to hook up with Cliff's brother and his wife for the trip to Canada, but he's having radiation five days a week, which is sapping his time and depleting their travel funds.  We first thought we'd wait and all go next year, but at our ages we hate to put anything off that long.  It's been six years since Cliff had open heart surgery, and we've considered every year a bonus since that time.  But who knows what will happen tomorrow, next week, or next year?  So I think we'll go this year.

I picked sour cherries from my tree this morning, then seeded them.  What a boring, messy job!  I used two cups to make a cherry dessert, sort of a cobbler; then froze the other four cups.  I really wanted to bake a pie, but I had just turned on the air conditioner and didn't like the idea of using the oven while it's on.  I'm not sure if I'll pick any more cherries or not.  Too much work for too little product, PLUS I have to watch for worms as I am seeding them.  

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Nielsen ratings

I got a phone call about a month ago asking if I would be willing to take part in the Nielsen television ratings.  I figured, what else am I doing?  Besides, this was a way to let my voice be heard and help keep my favorite programs on the air.  
When I finally got the TV diary, all my favorite programs had finished their season, so I was done watching them.  
The first thing I had to do was list all the channels we receive in our home.  Had I known about this, I wouldn't have volunteered in the first place.  We have Direct TV.  I can't tell you how tired I got of writing down channels I didn't know we even had, and had never heard of.  Oh, and I did not even write down all the stupid music channels I never listen to.  
If they want to make my choices null and void for this decision, so be it.  
If we watched something on the DVR, we had to enter when it originally aired AND when we watched it.  Pain in the neck indeed.  
I will tell you that Judge Judy got a wonderful rating from us, because I lied and said I watched her for an hour each day, and if I watched it on DVR, I didn't say so because it was too much trouble.  So now you know just how accurate those ratings really are.  
So if you get a phone call asking you to participate in the Nielsen survey, you know what you are up against.  
My advice?  DON'T DO IT!  

Here's their stupid website.  

Oh, on a positive note?  With my TV diary, I received a crisp, new one-dollar bill.  
I almost felt insulted.

We went to Kingsville livestock auction

These steers ended up bringing $1.86 per pound.  I wish I had written down how much they weighed, but I can guarantee you that they brought over $800 each, probably closer to $900.  
Little baby calves that had been taken from their Angus mothers brought well over $300 apiece, and one teeny, almost midget-like heifer brought over $200.  The cheapest small calf they sold was blind in one eye and not too healthy-looking, and brought around $100.  
The last time we went to the sale, I decided we should have another cow on our place to have high-priced babies and ended up with Babe; Cliff paid half of her cost, and I paid half.  So we are both equally invested in her.  Of course, what's his is mine and what's mine is mine anyway... wait, did I say that?

When you sit in a livestock auction barn for an hour, the smell is embedded in your clothes and hair.  You don't notice until you are well away from the place, then you start sniffing and realize you stink.   

My Father's World

In an entry yesterday, I told about learning "This is My Father's World" at my one-room school.  My daughter left a comment saying that she surely must have heard me sing that song if it meant so much to me.  
I doubt that she did.  I think my early memories of the song were buried in my past.
A strange thing happens when you get old:  Treasures from the distant past float to the surface of your consciousness, things you had not thought of in years.  
So last week that song appeared out of nowhere and sang itself to me, over and over, until I shared it on my blog.  
I have figured out why I loved, and still love, the song so much:  I am one of those people who feels closest to God when I'm outside.  After all, look at the words in the song as it was originally written:  

This is my Father’s world, and to my listening ears
All nature sings, and round me rings the music of the spheres.
This is my Father’s world: I rest me in the thought
Of rocks and trees, of skies and seas;
His hand the wonders wrought.
This is my Father’s world, the birds their carols raise,
The morning light, the lily white, declare their Maker’s praise.
This is my Father’s world: He shines in all that’s fair;
In the rustling grass I hear Him pass;
He speaks to me everywhere.
This is my Father’s world. O let me ne’er forget
That though the wrong seems oft so strong, God is the ruler yet.
This is my Father’s world: the battle is not done:
Jesus Who died shall be satisfied,
And earth and Heav’n be one.
This is my Father’s world, dreaming, I see His face.
I ope my eyes, and in glad surprise cry, “The Lord is in this place.”
This is my Father’s world, from the shining courts above,
The Beloved One, His Only Son,
Came—a pledge of deathless love.
This is my Father’s world, should my heart be ever sad?
The lord is King—let the heavens ring. God reigns—let the earth be glad.
This is my Father’s world. Now closer to Heaven bound,
For dear to God is the earth Christ trod.
No place but is holy ground.
This is my Father’s world. I walk a desert lone.
In a bush ablaze to my wondering gaze God makes His glory known.
This is my Father’s world, a wanderer I may roam
Whate’er my lot, it matters not,
My heart is still at home.

Do you see it?  Nature, music, rocks, trees, skies, seas, birds, morning light, lily white (flowers, in other words, rustling grass, earth.  

All the things that make me feel close to the Creator are mentioned in the song.

Monday, May 21, 2012

How does my garden grow?

 I haven't had tomato plants that look this good in twenty years.  I am scared to death that something will happen to them.  I am still mulching with newspaper, as you can see.  I did this many years ago with great success.    

 Sweet peppers are blooming.  In the foreground, if you look closely you will see beets that I just planted a few days ago.  I really like using a soaker hose rather than the spray-type waterers.  The water goes exactly where I want it, and it doesn't evaporate into the air.  It seeps out so slowly that it doesn't work our well-pump too hard.  

 This picture doesn't seem to show it, but the eggplants are blooming too.

 We'll be eating cabbage from the garden before you know it!

 The same for the green beans.

 See the beans?

 This is my most precocious tomato plant.  It already has three tomatoes on it.

 Isn't it cute?

 This one is about the size of a plum.

In spite of the fact that I haven't watered them, the Asiatic lilies are showing off.

A hymn I learned in a one-room school

A song from my past has been running through my head for a few days, a song I learned when I was attending Skinner School in Taylor County, Iowa.  A hymn, actually.  I don't think I ever heard it at church, but the first time we sang it in school, I connected with it; it was my song.  The words in that song had everything in it that I, a six-year-old child, believed.  My spirit soared when I first heard it.  The song still makes my heart sing, and it calms my soul.  

1. This is my Father's world, 
 and to my listening ears 
 all nature sings, and round me rings 
 the music of the spheres.  
 This is my Father's world:  
 I rest me in the thought 
 of rocks and trees, of skies and seas; 
 his hand the wonders wrought.

2. This is my Father's world, 
 the birds their carols raise, 
 the morning light, the lily white, 
 declare their maker's praise.  
 This is my Father's world:  
 he shines in all that's fair; 
 in the rustling grass I hear him pass; 
 he speaks to me everywhere.

3. This is my Father's world.  
 O let me ne'er forget 
 that though the wrong seems oft so strong, 
 God is the ruler yet.  
 This is my Father's world:  
 The battle is not done.  
 Jesus who died shall be satisfied  
 And earth and heaven be one!

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Missing cow

Babe, the whiteface cow we bought from Cliff's brother, is missing.  Because we were so distracted and busy yesterday, we don't know just when she disappeared.  
The best-case scenario is that she saw the cows on the other side of the fence to the east, and since our fences aren't the best, she joined them.  It's happened before with other cows.  I've called the people who own the cows over there and left a message.  
Worst-case scenario?  She may have fallen off one of the quite precarious cliffs and overhangs on our property and broken her neck.  

Babe, please come home.  Bonnie isn't saying much, but I'm pretty sure she misses you.

Update:  Babe wasn't lost at all.  Cliff went out to close the garage, and there she was in the pasture with the others.  

Saturday, May 19, 2012

The tractor cruise

 Cliff was at the shop an hour before departure time, dusting off the tractor.  Never mind that we're in a dust bowl and were going to be traveling over dusty roads for almost two hours.

 Then he and his sister sat there and admired the dustless tractor until time to leave.

 Yes, I did ride like this for forty minutes, until we arrived at Lexington.

 Here we are passing below our daughter's house in our little town.

 Once we met the group in Lexington, I boarded the trolley... formerly a livestock trailer, but now transformed into a people trailer.

 Leaving Lexington.

 Looking back at our group.

 Arriving at Orscheln's in Higginsville.

Yes, we had porta-potties!

This guy was my boss years ago when I worked at the apple orchard.  He is in our tractor club.

 My grand-dog Titan came to see us at the tractor show.

 He brought Heather and Arick, our oldest grandchild, with him.

 No, I am not pregnant.  Why do you ask?

 Here you see most of the club members who were at the show.

Cliff's brother, Phil, was there for awhile with a couple of his many grandchildren.  

Oh, by the way.  Cliff won "Best in Show" with his tractor.

Here's an 18-second sample of what the ride was like from my point of view.

Friday, May 18, 2012

How dry is it, you ask?

Leave it up the the Hyperblogal guy to doctor a picture at every opportunity.

Population explosion

Each morning when I look out the front door, this is what greets me:  the cows have decided they should spend their nights up here close to my house.  If you are a city dweller who comes to visit me, you will notice the odor of cow poop in the air; it probably is offensive to you, but I scarcely ever notice it or think about it.  I keep intending to lock the cows out of the little lot so they will poop a little farther away, but it just doesn't seem worth the effort.  Personally, I could probably bed down next to a feed lot and sleep peacefully.  Visitors may have to use that trick I've read about in books, where people who work with decaying bodies (like CSI folks, and morgue workers) rub a little Vicks under their noses.  
But I digress.  
I was at the kitchen sink looking out on this sight this morning and suddenly realized that if the three females, all of whom have been exposed to a bull, are pregnant, my herd is going to practically double this fall and winter!  
Jody, on the left, was bred Sunday.  Babe, lying down on the right, was bred in December.  And Bonnie, standing, was (we hope) bred in February.  Max, the lone male, will leave us in August for that big meat locker in the sky.  I was thinking about seeing if I could trade him for a Jersey heifer, but what on earth do I need another animal for?  Do we have enough pasture for seven cows?  
We have forty-three acres.  Half of it is woods and deep ravines, with very little for an animal to graze.  With two horses and seven cows, I think our pitiful pasture would be severely over-grazed.  
We'll see how this all pans out.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

It's a drought

I don't know how long it has to be this dry to be officially a drought, but I do know we are painfully short on moisture.  A while back I bought a twenty-five-foot long soaker hose; Monday I started using it, leaving it on one row for for three or four hours, then moving it to another.  I hardly ever water my gardens, but I'd hate to see things dry up and die.  
I ran into a problem with the tomatoes, though.  I have cages around them, and in order to get the hose where I really want it, I have to run it through the bottom of each cage up against the plant.  This was going to be quite a chore every time I wanted to water.  Cliff suggested we simply buy another soaker hose and leave it on the tomatoes, hooking it up to the hose when I want to water them.  Great idea.  
I was going to give up on planting corn, but decided to try it one more time, only with fresh seed.  The seeds I planted so far were a year or two old.  On our big shopping expedition yesterday, it never occurred to me to buy seed corn.  Besides, we needed a motorcycle ride. 
We went first to Lexington, gassed up, and bought ten pounds of cheap potatoes; maybe we won't have to buy any more for awhile if the potatoes in the garden hurry up and grow.  Then we went east on 24 Highway to Hilltop Farms for seed corn.  
Finally we went to the little Walmart in Higginsville for a soaker hose.  Unfortunately they only had fifty-foot hoses, but we took one anyhow.  I threaded it through the tomato cages, around the eggplants, and back up the next row where the peppers are.   

Tomatoes are my favorite garden crop.  I can handle it if everything else dies from bugs or blight, but I NEED garden-fresh tomatoes!  By the way, I have one tomato about the size of a cherry.  I can almost taste it now.
Last year I ordered a dozen sweet potato plants online from George's Plant Farm.  They cost $12, and shipping was free.  I was delighted with them and ordered again this year.  They arrived Monday, but the packing around the roots that was supposed to keep them moist was dry as a dessert; all the leaves on the "slips" were brown and crinkly.  I was very disappointed, and checked the box to see when they had been shipped:  May 8, six days before they arrived!  
I emailed the sellers, telling them I realized it wasn't their fault because of the length of time they were in transit.  I soon got a return email saying they would send me more plants, so I'm happy about that.