Friday, July 27, 2012

Even kids like Apple products

Here you see my youngest granddaughter Lyndsay and my first great-grandchild, Kami.  What are they doing?

Why, they're playing games on my Ipad!  Best babysitter ever.  

random happenings

Three generations:  Grandson Arick, Cliff, and our son (Arick's dad).  Cliff says those blue sweatbands may be ugly, but they sure help keep him cool.

Last night granddaughter Lyndsay and daughter-in-law Deb cooked our supper.  Mighty tasty, and they cleaned up their mess, too.

Cousins catching up on stuff:  Nephew Scott and our son Jim.

I wanted to see how my new camera would work after dark; we were at Cliff's shop with lights turned off to keep from attracting bugs.  I think it worked pretty well.  That's Grandson Arick sitting on his girl friend Heather's lap, with Georgia granddaughter Lyndsay being a ham in the background.

Me making a video of my son's shooting, which was excellent until I started trying to get a video.  He told me that would happen.  Watch this:

Brother and Dad teaching Lyndsay to shoot.  

We have a lot going on around here for the next few weeks, so don't worry if you don't see many posts from me.   In the past, every time I told my readers I was taking a little break, I immediately started doing more posts than usual.  Don't count on that happening this time... but it might.  

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Upgrading the neighborhood

The house next door on the southeast was purchased a few weeks ago.  The new owners are working like crazy every evening after work and every weekend.  They've put on a new metal roof, put in central air, and are remodeling the garage and the interior of the house.  We haven't met them yet because they have so many people helping them that we aren't sure who the actual owners are.  

The monstrosity on the west?  It will soon be owned by somebody other than the bank.  Some guy mowed the grass and weeds Monday.

Wow.  That's not far off.    
Cliff and I had to laugh at the ad for the auction.

Many of my readers have seen pictures of this house and commented on how it looked like a wonderful house, and someone should fix it up.  Folks, it was improperly constructed, and it can't be fixed.  Trust me on this.  I hope some poor unsuspecting sap doesn't buy the place thinking they can fix it up.  A friend on Facebook said the folks at the courthouse told her there has been a lot of interest in the place.  I would love to see the thing sell, but we have other plans for that day.  
By the way, the bank should be angry with the misinformation here.  The ad says the place is 1/2 miles east of town, when it's actually almost 2 miles west of town.  I can imagine people wanting to check out the place ending up at Catfish Charlie's or the Sni Minimart and wondering where the house is.  There are about 25 acres with the house, but they are very rough.  If someone wanted to put animals on it, they'd have to seed it in grass and do some fencing.  It's nothing but weeds right now.  

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Ladies in Waiting

Now I have a pretty accurate timetable for the arrival of our next calves.  

Babe, the Polled Hereford, has a due date of September 12; she could calve as early as ten days before this or ten days after.  She will have a purebred (but not registered) Hereford calf.  

Bonne-the-Jersey-cow is bred to the same Hereford bull as Babe.  Her previous two babies were also from Hereford daddies.  She is due to calve around November 18, a few days before Thanksgiving.  She's always had boy calves, and now that I have other cows, I don't care if she has one more baby bull.  I'm hoping that next time she's in need of a boy friend, we can get her to a Jersey bull; if that happens, I will be wishing for a heifer.  

Jody, the baby I raised on a bottle, is due February 18.  Since she is at least half Jersey and was bred to a Jersey bull, her calf should look like a purebred.  I really want a heifer from her.  
If all three should have heifer calves (fat chance), I'd probably end up selling one of them, most likely Bonnie's crossbred calf, at weaning.  The time is approaching when we will have to purchase our hay (not this winter, thank goodness), and we can only afford to buy hay for so many cows. 
Now that we know for certain they are all bred, I look forward eagerly to the new babies. 

By the way, it was approaching noon and the temperature was at 100 degrees today when I went in search of the cows.  I was fairly certain of where I'd find them.  It's shady, and there's a nice breeze there.  They will probably stay there all day, moving only when their shade moves, and come up to drink this evening.  They do most of their grazing between 6 P.M. and 6 A.M.

Monday, July 23, 2012

At my house...

Granddaughter Lyndsay, age 12, and her mother, my daughter-in-law, Deb.  They arrived Sunday evening.  We had not seen them since Thanksgiving.  

Today our son and his son are comparing guns.  Arick's girl friend, Heather, is watching.

Titan isn't interested in guns.  

In other news, the vet came today and preg-checked our three lady cows.  All of them are definitely with calf, so we are very happy; the Hereford is the first one due, in mid-September.  The vet also gave them various shots.  
And now, back to our usual programming.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Facebook fun with the usual photographer

I posted a picture on the previous entry of Cliff asleep on the couch.  I might have known David Remley would do something with this picture.  

He took Cliff off the couch and put him on the beach.  Here are the comments that were left on the picture on Facebook:

That last comment by David concerns the area of Kansas City where he lives; he isn't that far from the drive-by shootings that occur in the big city, and Cliff is scared of the dangers of metropolitan areas.

And then my daughter, Rachel, got creative:  

Don't ever say our daughter has no sense of humor.  The Russian mentioned in the article, of course, is Meesha.  I have often wondered if there is some secret meaning to the name he uses, since I don't think it is his given name.  I wonder if we are calling him "stud" in Russian.  Hey, it could happen, and wouldn't that be embarrassing?  Who would know?

Saturday, July 21, 2012

How's that change workin' for ya?

Nope, not politics.  Yesterday was the first day of Cliff getting up early, although not quite as early as planned because I slept until 6 A.M.  I made coffee and took him a cup.  
Cliff hates getting up early; that's why he worked second shift for years.  He likes to lie in bed just enjoying the fact that he CAN lie there.  He'll sip at least one cup of coffee.  Sometimes he'll doze back off and the coffee will be cold by the time he gets to it.  That's OK with me.  
But with the intense heat we've been having, he was complaining that he can't play work in the shop because it's too hot.
I suggested he get up early to take advantage of the coolest part of the day.  "You could try it, at least.  If it doesn't work for you then I'll stop waking you up."  
It wasn't a change for me, since I'm almost always awake around five o'clock.  
So, Cliff got up shortly after six.  By seven we were heading off for our walk.  By eight, he was weed-eating, and then he mowed the stray weeds that have come up in the yard.  When he came in for dinner at noon, he was raving about the new schedule. 
"I've gotten more done today than any day since we've retired.  And it's not even hot yet!"  
That's when I had to break the news to him that it was a cooler day that we've been having recently.  He turned on the noon news and saw that it was only 84 degrees.  
"Well anyway, I sure got a lot done."
As we went to bed last night, I asked, "Should I wake you up early again?"  
"Yes," he answered, "because I have to meet Phil (his brother) at nine thirty.  We're going to a farm sale."
This morning I woke him at 5:30.  Once out of bed, he stepped out on the front porch and remarked on how nice and cool it was.  
We were heading off on a walk by 6:30.  When we got back he showered and dressed for the sale and realized it was still two hours before he was to meet his brother.  
"Man, this getting up early does give you a lot more time, doesn't it?" 
Of course, he had cleaned up to leave, so he couldn't do anything but surf Craigslist.   
He came home from the sale after one.  He hadn't bought anything.  He sat down on the couch, leaned back.....

and he's still there.  Hey, there's nothing wrong with a little siesta in hot weather.    

Friday, July 20, 2012

This drought

In my whole life, I have never seen a year as dry as this one.  I've always been staunchly opposed to watering my garden.  In the past, most plants held on until finally a rain came.  Oh, I might lose some beans, and the kernels on my sweet corn might be sparse, but I made do.  
This year I have watered with the soaker hoses.  A couple of days ago we drove past a garden belonging to someone who obviously had not watered, and the above cartoon is pretty similar to that garden.  Everything was completely dead.  
My parents were married in 1932.  Mother used to tell me about how dry it was in the thirties.  In her world back then, if you couldn't raise a garden, you couldn't eat.  She told about lean years when they had nothing but bread and water gravy for supper.  One year someone gave them a bunch of dry beans in the shell, and they ate a lot of beans that winter.  On the news I keep hearing that 1936 was a record dry year, and also had record high temperatures.  That must be the year my mom was talking about.  
I've blogged about my memories of Eagleville, Missouri, in 1954.  I was ten years old, but I recall how dry it was and how thankful everyone was when it finally rained.  
It just doesn't seem as though it's ever going to rain again.  
People are depressed and rather snippy with one another.  OK, maybe that's just me.
We are reminded of just how helpless we are.  
Grocery prices, of course, will rise more.  I just dried my cow up and found out milk costs considerably more that it did the last time I was forced to buy some.  My timing never was that great.  
At least I'll have tomatoes to cook with all winter, and there's still some beef in the freezer.  I have a lot of bean recipes, dishes that are healthful and affordable.  I'll have milk again if and when Bonnie calves.  The vet is coming Monday to pregnancy check all three of my ladies, and then we will know with certainty how many calves to expect, and when we will have our own milk again.  
There's a better day coming.

Dangerous tillers?

I was going to start up the tiller and have Cliff take a video of me using it so you could see how safe it is, but I didn't want to get all that dust on me again.  Besides, it's hot out there.  
Some of you expressed concerns that using a tiller barefoot is dangerous.  Perhaps you are confusing it with a lawnmower, which should NOT be used by a person without shoes on.  I confess that I have mowed the lawn barefoot in the past, but it's stupid and dangerous.  Besides, it makes your feet green.  
A tiller moves along very slowly, nothing like the speed of a lawn mower.  It has no reverse, so there's no danger of backing up onto my feet.  If I let go of the handle for any reason, it dies.  
I don't think you could hurt your feet with a tiller if you TRIED, unless you stubbed your toe on it in passing.  In order to have the thing run over my feet I'd have to somehow get in front of it without letting go of the handle.  
Get the picture?  

Eternal optimist

It's time to start on the fall garden.  I may be five days early, but hopefully that will work.  I planted cabbage seeds, carrots, and green beans in the dust  The soaker hose is out there doing its thing right now.  My sister-in-law wants some beets to pickle, and I'll plant some for her in a few days.  Ideal time to plant fall beets is August 1, but I'll probably be a couple days ahead of that.  
Cliff and I got out and about fairly early this morning, took our walk, and started working:  He used the weed eater and then got on the riding mower; I tilled and planted.  I still have to avoid sun exposure for four more days, so even though it was early in the day, I dressed to protect myself.  

Very dusty indeed.  

Why yes, I do always garden barefoot.  Why do you ask?  
With four cats around who think the garden dirt is their private sandbox, it gets pretty stinky out there running the tiller.  I certainly hope cat poop makes good fertilizer.  

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Changing the schedule

Cliff has been mourning the fact that by the time he goes out to play work in the shop, it's already too hot to be out there.  
I told him it's a shame he isn't a morning person, because the sun comes up at 5:30.  That's when I go out to the garden.  On a day like this one, it's still too hot, but at least it doesn't feel like a blast furnace.  
Cliff's trouble is that he doesn't like to just get up and start doing physical things right out of bed.  Since he's retired, he spends two or three hours waking up gradually, most days.  Also, his arthritis likes to be awakened slowly; his body has to get loosened up a little before he starts his day.  Years of working second shift have reinforced these habits.  
However, he agrees it's a good idea, and is going to give it a shot tomorrow.  I'll be surprised if it works, but you don't know until you try.  
I'm wondering how much it would cost to use a window air conditioning unit out there occasionally.

It's so dry...

I'm not going to bore you with some old weather joke you've heard a dozen times.  
Actually, it's depressing.  Thanks to the fact that we get our water from a well (and have a new pump), at least I can garden, but this relentless heat is horrible.  We humans get used to being able to control so many things, but Mother Nature gets the last word on the weather.   
We have enough hay in the barn that we could start feeding it to the cows right now and we could get by.  So far they are dining in the alfalfa, although it gets dryer every day.  
Our son is coming to visit throughout next week.  I bought Worlds of Fun tickets for daughter-in-law Debbie and granddaughters Lyndsay, Natalie, and Monica.  
According to the forecast, it is going to be well over 100 degrees every day next week.  When I first mentioned buying WOF tickets, Cliff suggested I buy waterpark tickets instead.  But did I listen?  Oh no. 

  The tomatoes are still going strong.  I had a Facebook friend come and pick everything that was ripe, or in the process of ripening.  They went away with five-gallon buckets full.  I was glad to get a break from canning, and I hate to see anything wasted.  So everybody was happy with this deal.  Also, these folks are the kind of people that I know would share tomatoes with me if I didn't have any.  
I've learned something, I think, about zucchini, the one garden vegetable that in the past has been impossible for me to keep alive, thanks to various bugs.  

Yes, the plant does look sick.  But every time it starts dying, I spray the ground all around and under the leaves with bug spray and it adds new foliage and keeps growing!  I don't spray the leaves at all.  I've had a steady supply of zucchini for weeks now.  I happened to read something on the Internet about spraying the ground; it seems to work for me.  At this point, I've had about all the zucchini I want.  I keep vigilant, though, because in the past what happened was the bugs would kill the zucchini plant, and then move on to the cucumbers and melons and kill those also.  We've been having delicious little cantaloupes this year, first time in a long time.  
In spite of the drought, it's been a good garden year for me.  
I finally put some jeans on over my burned belly yesterday and we went shopping.  It was uncomfortable, but I got by.  I don't think I'll go anywhere else unless I can wear a nightgown.  Cliff and I can see that the the area is healing, it's just a slow process.  I won't be lifting any more canners full of boiling water off the stove, I'll guarantee you that.  

We took Max to the butcher shop Tuesday, and Bonnie wasn't a happy camper when I took the following video that evening.  Today, though, her bawling has almost ceased and she's going about the business of trying to stay alive in this heat.  I feel so sorry for the animals.  


Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Now I understand the watermelon thing

See the previous entry.  
So I found out only one of Cliff's sisters calls the process "cleaning", but several people do remove the flesh of the watermelon from the rind and chunk it up, for a very sensible reason:  It takes up less room in the refrigerator.  Now that makes sense to me.  
Thanks to everyone who commented on Facebook, explaining this (to me) peculiar phenomenon.    Nobody else calls it "cleaning the watermelon", though.

Oh, and I found out that only one of Cliff's sisters deals with her watermelon this way.  I was corrected.  The other sister said watermelon doesn't last long enough at their house to bother doing all that work.   

Do you "clean" your watermelon?

This is just curiosity on my part.  When Cliff's sisters buy a watermelon, they cut it and chop up the whole thing in one- to two-inch hunks, throwing away the rind.  They put the chopped-up watermelon in a closed container and say, "I cleaned the watermelon."  
It wasn't dirty!  
That's what I think every time they say that.  
So I'm taking a poll:  Do any of my readers do this with their watermelon?  Do you call it "cleaning the watermelon?"  
I will post the link to this entry on Facebook, so some people will answer me there.  
I have to know if I'm the oddball.  It seems so STRANGE to me!

It's a small world, thanks to the Internet.

I have often reminisced here on my childhood years.  My earliest memories are of the switchboard house in Guss, Iowa, although I was born in Missouri.  Pictures taken on my first birthday, though, are in front of the switchboard house.  
My parents moved often, and I recall at least two other places in Taylor County, Iowa, where we lived:  Once in a farmhouse owned by Ted Davies, and once in either Nodaway or Villisca, where my parents were the telephone operators.  So I think they may have had at least two stints as "Central" in Guss.
When you do a search of this blog using "Guss" as the key word, there's a page of entries about Guss that come up.  Alvin Mitchell is often mentioned.  His blacksmith shop was right across the road from us, and Daddy loved to hang out there.  
I got an email today from a niece of Alvin's.  Even though we don't remember one another, we have some shared memories and undoubtedly crossed paths back around 1950.  Here's what she had to say:

Donna - I was googling around hoping to find a picture of my Uncle Alvin's blacksmith shop in Guss, Iowa which got me to your blog. (I was hoping for a picture as it was when I was a kid to use on my blog.) Coincidentally, a classmate and I have been doing some reminiscing about Guss and its environs and I have been trying to remember the name of the people who ran the switchboard - which I remember seeing as a kid. I think you and I must be about the same age. I was born in 1943. Do you mind telling me your maiden name and how old you were when you moved from Guss? 
I agree with what you wrote about the blacksmith shop being cave-like. One of my early memories of it was being warned not to look at the brightness when my uncle was welding - that it would blind me. Of course I looked anyway.
Aunt Lois and my mom were sisters. She died in January 2009; buried at Guss with Alvin. I remember card parties at their home. The tables would be set up downstairs and the kids would go upstairs to play. Perhaps you and I attended some of those same parties? However, I was very shy and would only talk to the kids I knew, i.e., my cousins.

Twenty years ago when people said, "It's a small world", they didn't know the half of it.  This Internet has made it tiny indeed.  You just never know who you will run in to on the World Wide Web.  That's why I choose to make my blog show up in a Google search; I love making connections like this.  
By the way, Romona is a blogger and shares memories and pictures from her childhood.  You'll find her blog HERE.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Bad attitude

I've been pretty grumpy since burning my belly while canning tomatoes.  I'm on antibiotics that won't allow me to go outside in the sun, so I feel like a prisoner.  I sneak out at sunrise and sunset when there's little risk of sunburn.  It totally sucks, for this woman who hates being stuck inside.  
I needed to get Bonnie's almost-yearling calf, Max, into the barn so he'd be ready to load and take to the butcher shop tomorrow morning.  
At 7:30 P.M., I decided it was safe to go outside.  
The heat was horrible, and as I headed out the front door, I said to Cliff, "I hate heat!"  
Cliff, being hard of hearing, asked what I said and I repeated it, and added, "... and I hate that I burned my belly canning tomatoes, and I hate that I'm on antibiotics that won't let me go outside all day!"  
With that, I slammed the door.  
I put Max in the stall and went to the garden.  I found onions, cucumbers, and okra ready, and picked all of that.  I looked at all the tomatoes turning red.  I turned on the soaker hose.    
I came in the back door and said to Cliff, "Our cup runneth over; I love gardening.  Oh, and I love air conditioning."  
"Damn," says Cliff.  "You need to use that back door all the time.  From now on, I don't ever want to see you using the front door."

Our daily walk

Looks rather like a giant handprint, doesn't it?  That's the portion of our property where Cliff and I walk every day.  We usually start at the path on the left, but while I'm walking it by myself I reverse it.

 First, though, I pass by the alfalfa field where the cows are spending a lot of time lately.  

 In the Google Earth picture at the top, you can see where a path leads to the right before we get to the "big handprint".  That takes me around the dry pond.  

 Once around the pond and a little beyond, I turn back and start toward the handprint.  As you can see, there's still some green in our pasture. 

 If it weren't for the alfalfa, the cows would spend a lot of time roaming around looking for the green grass, but they would survive.  My parents used to talk about the drought in the 1930's that was so bad, farmers chopped down trees so their cattle could eat the leaves.  

Here's what pastures look like just sixty miles east of us.

 Iris and I are walking down the finger on the right in the picture.  We walk almost to our eastern property line, then turn around. 

 This is looking back up the path after I've turned around.  The pictures don't really show it, but this is a fairly steep hill.  

 Here is the second finger of my walk.  It's mostly level, but is the longest finger in the walk.

 That's where my cabin used to be.  It's a short stretch.  

 And now, down the longest and steepest hill on the journey, the finger on the left.  It's normally our first hill, but as I said, I'm walking it backwards lately.  This is the hill that diagnosed Cliff's heart problem and led up to his open heart surgery.  

This is looking up the same hill.  Once I'm up this hill, I head to the house. 

I think I like my new camera just fine.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Doomsday approaches

 Max's days are numbered.  His best friend, Jody (on the right), will miss him for a couple of days.  Then she will forget she ever knew him.  I've had friends like that.

 Iris won't know the difference, as long as there is one cow left to stalk.

 The truck and trailer are ready to haul Max on his one-mile journey toward slaughter.

 His mother, Bonnie, will miss him for two or three days.  After that, she will concentrate on her next calf, the one who won't be born for awhile.  Babe, in the background, is in the "I don't care" group.

Mama Kitty doesn't have a clue.  "Just feed me every morning," she says.   

We won't be eating this beef.  We still have quite a bit of beef in the freezer, and someone contacted me long ago wanting to buy Max.  The money we get from him will help to finance our vacation.

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