Tuesday, July 29, 2014

A chicken story

I can't even explain to people how much joy I have received from having Mama Hen hatch out thirteen chicks, watching her care for them, and watching them grow.  As far as I can recall, I have not had a settin' hen hatch eggs since about 1968.  I've had chicks, but I ordered them from hatcheries or bought them at Orscheln's.  This whole process of watching Mama take care of her babies has been fascinating.  

I had no idea how long a mother hen cares for her babies before she goes back to doing what she did before, which is producing eggs.  I would never have imagined the change would happen so fast.  

Saturday morning I watched that little hen chase a tomcat three times her size away from her babies.  On Monday, it was as though an internal switch turned on, and she no longer cared about her kids.  I noticed her comb was getting red again, which signaled to me that she would soon be laying eggs.  Monday night she went to roost in the hen house, leaving her babies to put themselves up in the only home they had ever known... with no mommy.  

So evidently, a mother hen is only obligated to care for her babies for about a month.  

I plan to try and sell, or if necessary, give away, all the old laying hens, because a new generation will be laying eggs by October.  I was going to retain one hen, Chickie... the one I raised in the house for the first part of her life.  That plan has changed.  I am only keeping Mama Hen, figuring there is a good chance she will go broody next year and raise more babies for me, since she did such a fantastic job this time.  Besides, she has turned into a pet during this past couple of months.  When she sees me outside, she follows me wherever I go.  Her friendliness and great mothering skills have earned her the right to live another winter.  
By the way, she laid her first egg in almost two months today.

We were originally going to kill the older hens and freeze them to use as the meat in chicken and noodles.  There is a reason why we are now going to get rid of them in whatever way necessary.  That's another story, and I will do a separate entry to explain why we changed our minds.  

Monday, July 28, 2014


Cliff has a lot of old pocket knives that I keep in a made-in-Germany stein that our son bought when he was stationed there.  Every single knife has a story.  Tonight we were watching something about knives on Modern Marvels:  Buck knives was mentioned, and the memories began.  I told Cliff that if he passes on to the great beyond before I do, I will be keeping the Buck knife that Boyde Dudley gave him one time when he was drunk.  Don't ask.  And then I told him that I'm pretty sure the kids and grand-kids would all like one of those knives as a keepsake. 

"They don't care about that stuff," he said.  

"Oh yes they do," I replied.  "They may not care about my grandma's stuff, but they will care about your stuff.  If the kids don't want them, a couple of grand-kids will."  

Then he lovingly picked up each knife one at a time and told the story about it.  The three on the bottom right are K-bar knives, every one completely worn out.  The third from the right on the top row is one he used to castrate pigs with, although he wasn't particularly fond of that knife.  The black one in the middle of the top row is the one I want.    

Every knife has a story.  I intend to put each one in a baggie with a note telling the story about that particular pocket knife.  I'm pretty sure somebody related to us will want one of them.  

Sunday, July 27, 2014

I promised a calf, right?

I'm sure you are all wondering, "Where's that calf you promised us?"

Yes, even relatives have been asking me that question.  Trust me, I am sick of having Crystal penned up in our front yard.  The other cows come up at night and keep her company across the fence, but when they go out to pasture each morning, Crystal bawls and bawls and bawls.  This has been going on for days now.  On the bright side, Cora has learned to say "Moo".  If I tell her to say moo, she goes to the window and looks for the cow, saying "moo" as she goes.  She's obviously a genius.

Here's the deal with the cow:  She got out onto the neighbor's pasture at some point.  When the grandson and Aaron went searching for her on a Saturday, I think it was, they didn't find her.  When they found her on Sunday, she was high atop one of the bluffs on the neighboring property, and although they tried to get her down to a place where it would be easy to cross the property line back home, she refused.  My daughter says that, as she remembers the story, they got Titan (the wonder dog) to sort of "sic" her and then got her to a point where she could come home.  There was no bull in sight, nor any cows, although the previous day they had seen the farmer's herd, and Arick had even taken a picture of them.  Crystal wasn't with them.  They concluded that she couldn't have gotten bred, since she wouldn't leave her perch.  When she came home, she was hungry and very thirsty. She obviously hadn't had anything to eat or drink for two days.

I watched for her to come in heat for weeks, and never saw her cycle.  That's when it hit me that she must be bred.  Even though she wouldn't go DOWN the mountain to Mohammed, Mohammed evidently came to the mountain.  But wait!!!!  What weekend was that, anyhow?  

I knew it was one of two weekends, three weeks apart, so I wrote both dates down.  If the first date was correct, she would be due sometime around July 21.  If it was the second date I wrote down, she would be due around August 10.  

It is still possible that she was bred on the earlier date:  I've had cows go as much as ten days past their due date, when I knew for certain the exact day they were bred (this was back when we used artificial insemination... God bless Emmett Kolster, who stored the Jersey semen I bought and came and bred my cows for free).  Otherwise, we may be waiting for another month.  And the baby can work on her mooing skills.  

Friday, July 25, 2014

blogging sporadically

This is what happens when you babysit a toddler.  Not only blogging, either:  Most everything I do is sporadic.  And I wouldn't have it any other way!  That little girl makes me laugh often and loudly.  

I probably should get things done while she's napping, but I often find I am napping at the same time she is.  Or catching up on whatever book I'm reading.  I do think it has worked out well that we have her only four days a week.  This gives me time to read and garden, relaxed time when I am not on the alert for what the Little Princess is doing... although I sometimes catch myself starting to check on her when she isn't even here.  

Believe me, she is on the move all the time, and doesn't miss a trick.  She's happy and contented.  I don't turn my back, though.  She checks all the time to see if I'm watching, and if I'm not, she heads for the "no-no" areas.  Usually if I'm going to a different room, I just tell her to come along and she does.  I don't go to the bathroom alone when she's here, I just invite her to join me.

Some things are more fun to do when Baby is here.  Hanging clothes on the line, for instance.  She wanders around the back yard while I'm doing what I need to do.  She loves chasing the baby chicks, who are growing like crazy.  I caught one and held it up to her face and she grabbed its neck with both hands and stuck the tip of its beak in her mouth for a kiss.  (Yuck.)  Cliff said he would have expected Mama Hen to attack a kid chasing her babies, but she doesn't; she just runs away with them.  The grown chickens, though, aren't allowed within two yards of her and her brood.  When I throw down chicken scratch and call "chick chick chick", the old hens won't even venture near.

Lately "Punkin", as Cliff calls her, has taken to joining me in the kitchen when I'm cooking, which makes me nervous.  She grabs one of my legs and hangs on for dear life.  It's pretty hard to walk from counter to stove to table that way.  Yesterday Cliff took pity on me and came in to play with her and keep her out of the kitchen.  And what did he do?  He showed her how to build a fort out of an easy chair; he tipped over her toy box so she could crawl inside it; he helped her climb onto the couch.  Her mother posted pictures on Facebook today of her doing some of the tricks Cliff taught her yesterday.  

Anyway, when I have free time, like during my three-day weekend, blogging seems to fall to the bottom of my list of priorities.  There is an E-book I need to finish before it vanishes into thin air in three days, and if that happens, I'll never know how they caught the bad guy.  

As for my garden, tomatoes and potatoes flopped, big time.  Blight killed the potatoes early, and will have killed the tomatoes entirely in another week, I believe.  Corn is doing great, so at least I have something out there that doesn't make me ashamed.  Honestly, I'm not too worried about it.    

OK, I'm heading back to my book.  I'm still here and I haven't quit blogging.  Before you know it, the kid I'm watching will be going to school, and all I will have is the happy memories.  And then cows and chickens (and the blog) will resume their position of importance in my life.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

A dog story (whatever happened to Iris?)

We all love a dog story, don't we?  Lassie-Come-Home, Rin-Tin-Tin, and all of that.  

I've been hesitant to tell this tale, knowing that some people see things differently than I do; I shared it privately with two Facebook friends, and I've told close family members, who are my witnesses.  Just remember, no pets were harmed in this story.  You need to know that going in.  

I don't recall whether I've said it on my blog or on Facebook or both, but I do know I made public the fact that since we started babysitting the little princess, I was fed up with the dog hair in the house.  Actually, I was always fed up with it, but I made a commitment when I took Iris in, and I felt it was my duty to try and give her a decent home.  If I had been able to find somebody who wanted her and would treat her right, I would gladly have let them have her.  

Now, when we went to look at her, she was in the section at Wayside Waifs where they put the animals that are not to be adopted, often because they are dangerous in one way or another.  When the lady took Iris out of her cage, she (Iris, not the lady) snarled and tried to attack the dogs in nearby cages.  She did the same on the way back to her cage.  

When we first got her here, she attacked Cliff's sister's little miniature Dachshund, my daughter's big dog (forcing Hawkeye into the back of their pickup, even though he was much larger), my nephew's dog, and my granddaughter Amber's dog.  This wasn't a matter of a little bit of snapping and growling:  She would have killed the smaller ones if someone hadn't been there to separate them.  I'm proud of the fact that after a couple of years, she finally got over that bad habit, and even learned to ignore the chickens when I turned them loose.  

Iris was always deathly afraid of storms, and I tried to make sure she was securely inside if a storm was coming.  A year or more ago she was outside when thunder boomed and she disappeared, later to be found at a house about three miles away as the crow flies.  She had scratched on the door and they let her in, and then put a picture of her on Facebook; my grandson saw the picture and brought her home.  

So a few weeks ago, it happened once again that I didn't get her inside in time.  At the first bolt of lightning, she was gone.  One day passed, and then another.  As much as I didn't want the dog, I worried.  I prayed.  I hoped and wished that perhaps she would scratch on just the right door where a family lived that wouldn't mind hair and would love an old, needy dog.  

On the third day of her absence, I went through the back door to take the trash out and saw her dog food dish sitting there.  My heart felt heavy, wondering what had happened to her, and once again I hoped/wished/prayed that she would find a home.  

There are steps leading up to our trash barrel, and as I put my foot on the bottom step, looking down I saw this:

The thing is so tiny, it amazes me that I even saw it.  I knew the grandson had been taking trash out there, and asked him if he had ever seen it.  He had not.  Neither had his fiance or Cliff or anyone else who might have used the trash barrel.  It looks a little like Iris, and I decided to accept it as a sign that Iris was OK.

I'm not sure of the timeline, but it may have been three or four more days when the grandson and Heather came over.  As they entered the house, Arick said, "We've found Iris."  


"About three houses down the highway!  There was a boy out walking her on a leash.  Heather asked if we should stop and tell them where she came from, and I said, 'Nope'."

After that, one day the Little Princess' mom came to leave her for the day and said, "I just saw Iris!  I saw a lady walking her on a leash."

"I know," I answered.  "And I'm very happy with where she is.  Obviously she has found some people who are letting her live in their house and love her."

Yesterday Cliff saw her there for the first time.  "She was groomed, and the white part of her coat was REALLY white.  She was so clean she was shining."

I consider it an answer to prayer.  I have said lately, thinking about Matthew 10:29, that "His eye is on the sparrow, and obviously His eye is also on the unwanted doggie."  

I don't know why He took such good care of Iris and yet Mandy and Sadie, my previous dogs, had to die as young as the did.  Maybe because I prayed harder.  Maybe it wasn't God at all, but just the right circumstances.  

When I first found out where she was, I told Cliff, "I wish she had found a home a little farther away from here."  

But then I realized, if that had been the case, I would never have known what happened to her.  I am thankful to God, no matter if He set the whole thing up or not.  Here's another picture I took of the toy dog I found.  I put it beside a quarter so you can see how small it really is:

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Another walk through the old house

Another walk through the old house.  Sorry I was so fast turning the camera around from one point to another.  Actually, I saw that the battery on the camera was 1/3 gone when I started, and was trying to get it all done before it died.  The Lori I mention is a pal from the old AOL chat room (known as Lahdee on AOL).  She said one of her boys enjoyed looking out the windows on my last walk-through.


Is it time for a new baby calf around here?

A little over nine months ago, Crystal, daughter of Bonnie-the-Jersey-cow (best cow ever), came in heat and disappeared.  She was missing for a couple of days.  We looked and looked for her.  Finally the grandson came over with his future brother-in-law and they went over to the property east of ours where an Angus bull happened to live.  When the boys found her, she was nowhere near Farmer Steve's bull and the rest of the herd' she only wanted to come home.  It wasn't easy, but they got her across the fence and back where she belonged.  We never saw her in heat again.  I wrote down the date, October 12, just in case she was bred.  

During the last few weeks it has become obvious that she is pregnant.  She's fat, she's springing, and she is "making bag" (her udder is filling up with milk... don't ask me to describe "springing").  I looked at the notes on the Ipad and saw that IF she were bred October 12, she is officially due two days from today.  Cows, though, like humans, can go as much as two weeks over their due date.  However, we decided to keep her in the small lot for awhile.  We don't need another calf in the canyon.  We have had several of those, including Crystal herself.  You can read about her frigid birth HERE.  

Here are some pictures I took of her just a while ago.  I may let the grandson and Aaron name her calf, as long as I approve the name.  After all, they spent a whole Sunday forenoon running through the brush and hollers getting her to come back home, while we were at church.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

They know my voice

I've been letting Mama Hen roam loose for most of the daylight hours.  So far, she hasn't lost a chick.  When I first gave them some freedom I was apprehensive, and honestly assumed that a few of them would perish.  So far, so good.  The chicks are old enough at this point that I would really feel terrible if something happened to any of them.  They've come so far!  And yet I can't bring myself to keep them confined in their tiny pen.  

I've noticed that the hen always keeps the babies near some sort of cover:  tomato plants, evergreen trees... something they could run under if danger threatened.  This isn't because she has a high IQ; it's instinct.  One of the chief predators during daylight hours is the hawk.  Obviously, the hen was somehow born (hatched?) knowing this, and stays near cover.

All my chickens know me:  When I let the hens (and rooster) out each afternoon, I stand right by the gate, and they aren't afraid to pass by me.  If Cliff, or anybody else, stands beside me there, they refuse to exit the pen.  And now even the baby chicks know my voice.  When they hear me talking, they, along with their mother, come running.  They even know where I keep the chicken scratch, which chickens consider a treat.  If I say nothing, but walk over to the barrel where the scratch is kept, they come running, unless somebody else is nearby.  

My cows are the same way:  They know me, and I can pet them, but nobody else can get too close.  They know my voice.  I once raised a few baby lambs.  They also knew my voice, and would come running when I called.  It reminds me of a Bible verse.

My sheep know My voice, and I know them, and they follow me.  John 10:27

Antenna TV, Roku, Netfix, and closed captioning

Cliff's brother gave us a television he no longer needed, and I intended to play around with it using the four-dollar antenna I bought on Ebay.  I believe the television is HD, but it turns out HD isn't enough.  I would have had to buy a converter box in order to use the rabbit ears.  My son told me, "You can buy a new TV at Walmart for $100."  

So that's what I did.  

I also wanted to experiment with Roku and all the possibilities there:  Amazon, Netflix, and Hulu Plus.  See, with the way inflation is going, I'm thinking eventually that $60-plus a month we pay a satellite company might be needed for groceries.  I could lower the Direct TV bill by doing away with the DVR, but that's the main thing we love about Direct TV, that ability to record our favorite shows and watch them at our convenience, sans commercials.  

I mentioned on Facebook that I wanted to experiment with Roku, and a friend said he happened to have a Roku 1 he would give me.  So I can use a 30-day free trial from Amazon, Netfix, and Hulu, one at a time, and actually have the ability to watch my favorite shows free for three months.  In the bedroom, on a teeny-tiny television, but still!  We're talking about something that costs $8.99 a month, as compared to over $60.  

No, I won't be using it much.  As I said, I'm learning, so when the time comes, I will be prepared.  One of the first things I checked was whether I could get closed captions.  I found out I do get them on local stations via antenna, but not with Netflix, so I came to the computer to find out what I needed to do.  I did a Google search and found out the original version of Roku doesn't allow closed captions, but the later versions do.  Not a big deal, since this is my learning tool, not something Cliff will be using at the present time.  If we decide to switch to Roku in the future, I will purchase a newer model.  He can't make out anything on TV without captions.  

As for the antenna, it brings in a bunch of channels:  A couple of them broadcast old TV shows from many years ago (Leave it to Beaver, etc.); I might watch some of those occasionally.  There are a bunch of religious channels and home shopping channels, neither of which I watch.  

The truth is, I don't watch that much TV these days.  My favorite shows, Modern Family and The Good Wife, are on network TV for free, if I could put up with all the commercials.  If I understand correctly, there are no commercials, or very few, watching TV shows via Netflix or Hulu; so that $8 a month would take care of the commercial problem, and also let me watch episodes at my convenience, like the DVR does.  

I'm tied to a contract again with Direct TV, since I dickered with them on what I would have to pay for our recent move.  But when I think about how little television we actually watch, and how many books are available to me electronically from the local library, I can foresee us bidding satellite television a fond farewell in the future.

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

Back to exercising

When I first got a knee replacement, the grandson's girl friend (now fiance) gave me an exercise bike.  I used it for a couple of months, then went back to walking in the pasture and sold the bike on Craigslist.

Within two years of the knee replacement, both knees began to hurt me so much that I had to stop going for my daily walk.  I wanted to do some sort of exercise:  I tried calisthenics (exercises on the floor) and weights, but got bored and quit both.

Recently a Facebook friend mentioned having an exercise bike for sale, and I decided to give that form of exercise a chance once again.  Many years ago I put in so many miles on a cheap exercise bike that I wore it out.  By the time I gave up on it, it was squawking loud enough to raise the dead, and I couldn't even hear the music I was playing to distract me.  I've often told people that the most boring form of exercise is riding an exercise bike.

However!!!  I just got off the recently acquired torture machine after twenty-five minutes, and the time passed quickly, thanks to the Ipad.  There's a little ledge on this bike that's made to hold a book.  Not a very big one, because I wanted to place my current library book on there and it wouldn't fit.  But the Ipad fits just fine, thankyouverymuch.

I alternated between playing solitaire and checking Facebook, and twenty-five minutes fairly flew by.  The really good news is that I have ridden the exercycle two days in a row, and my knees feel better for it!  Could be just a fluke, but at least I know this form of exercise isn't going to hurt my knees, and it may be helping them.  Wish me luck with this effort.

I'll leave you with a video of Mama Hen with her babies.  I've been letting them out in the afternoon; so far, no hawks or varmints have bothered them.  They are spoiled, though:  When they see me approach the pen in the morning, they start running along the wire and cheeping pitifully, expecting me to turn them loose.  I'm not brave enough to let them be free all day long.  I am amazed that Mama Kitty hasn't had one of them for a snack.  Maybe she tried, and got chased off by the hen!


Tuesday, July 08, 2014

Just a little scare, that's all

Now that it's all over and everything is fine, I hope Cliff won't mind my sharing this.  

Thursday morning Cliff got up as usual; he went out and puttered around the shop and fed the pigs.  After a couple of hours of stirring around, he decided to go for his usual morning walk.  The weather was nice and cool for July.  

He had only been gone for about twenty minutes when he came back in the house, pale as a ghost.  He hadn't gotten far, he told me, when he began feeling weak and faint.  He sat down on the couch and checked his blood pressure, thinking maybe he was over-medicated and perhaps his blood pressure had fallen too low, which has happened in the past.  I gave him an aspirin, because it never hurts to take an aspirin; and in case of a heart attack or stroke, it can do a world of good.  

He started feeling better, but still was obviously not himself, so I started pushing him to go to urgent care and get checked out.  I knew if I mentioned the emergency room, he wasn't going to go anywhere.  He hasn't had the best of luck with emergency rooms in the past.  He was refusing to go anywhere until I reminded him that the next day was the Fourth, and we had a lot of company coming.  "What if you have a spell like this with all those people here, and have to go to the emergency room on the same day that people are blowing off fingers and putting out eyes?  You'd sit there for hours!"  

He agreed I had a point, and we went to urgent care, where a nurse turned us away because he has had heart issues (bypass surgery) in the past.
"If you tell him to go to the emergency room, he won't go," I told her.  

By now he was feeling better, although not quite normal.  She had a heart-to-heart talk with him; once we got to the car I reminded him again that the next day was going to be a big one, and he should get checked out.  So we went to St. Mary's.  

His heart rate was low, and the ER nurse actually got him ready for an IV, thinking he would be admitted.  Of course they did an EKG.  They also checked to see if anything was wrong in his brain (in case of stroke); there were the usual jokes about that.  After a couple of hours there, his heart rate was normal and he was feeling much better.  All the way through this he kept saying he felt stupid for being there, that he felt fine.  I told him, "If you feel stupid, just tell them your stupid wife made you come."  

Yesterday we saw his cardiologist, who assured us that Cliff probably was just under-hydrated and overheated.  There is a thing that can be implanted in his chest to monitor his heart activity all the time, but the doctor said he didn't feel it was necessary unless he has two or three more of these spells in the future.  

So meanwhile, Cliff is saying, "I told you there was nothing wrong!"

And I remind him of his habit of sticking his head in the sand when he has any problem and refusing to go for a checkup, and winding up in surgery.  

Anyway, I feel good about the whole situation.  If I didn't, I wouldn't be telling about it on the blog.  In a way, this is his chance to see me saying, in writing, "You were right."

He should like that.  

Monday, July 07, 2014

A walk through the old house, as it is now

Today, I'm 70 years old

I remember thinking my Grandma Stevens was really old when she was in her sixties.  Silly me.  I am receiving dozens of birthday greetings from my Facebook friends, which is always fun.  These days I am not a greeting-card-sender, so I don't get a lot of cards, and I don't really expect them.  Still, all those superficial greetings on Facebook are nice.  Somebody knows I was born!  

Psalm 90:10 has been on my mind lately:  "The days of our lives are threescore years and ten; and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years, yet is their strength labor and sorrow.  For it is soon cut off, and we fly away."  

Well, I've now made it to threescore and ten, and I'm thankful for every minute of it.  I stepped outside with my coffee this morning and there were cone flowers and day lilies wishing me happy birthday.  The cows were up front of the trailer house, laying behind the barn, and I thought, "I love cows."  I mosied out near the chicken house and there was Mama Hen with her 13 chicks.  What fun!  Happy birthday to me!  

You know you're getting older when your morning prayers includes words like this:  "Please help me endure whatever pain comes today, and thank You for aspirin and Tylenol."  I'm serious, I pray this often.  

Even though aches and pains plague me at times, I enjoy life.  I have fun with my husband, my computer, my cows and chickens, and my life behind the barn.  I enjoy my family.  The little girl we babysit has been a highlight, our little ray of sunshine; she's a birthday gift every time she comes through the door, a gift that keeps on giving.  

We had a perfectly wonderful Independence Day here, with interesting people sharing the day with us.  Yes, friends, I've learned that you can still have fun, even if your knees ache sometimes.  I wish I slept a little better than I do, but I remind myself often that waking up early in the morning just gives me more time to enjoy life. 

Me, eight days old
If you read my recent entry that included a letter that the doctor who delivered me wrote to my mother after my birth, you probably read between the lines and figured out that I was not expected to live.  Then there was a time when I was seven years old that I spent over a week in the hospital, and once again, family members seemed to think I was a goner.  We never knew what was wrong with me, I just suddenly got better and my parents took me home.  When I think about these two "close calls", it makes me extra thankful for this life.   

So it is, indeed, a happy birthday for me. 

Sunday, July 06, 2014

My garden: The good, the bad, and the ugly

Cliff watched the weather on TV just before he came to bed last night.  There would be no rain storms in Kansas City, they said.  At 2 AM I awoke to a downpour, and a dog barking.  Cliff's sister left Angel here while she vacationed.  Angel barks at thunder.  It poured and thundered for over two hours.  Even Cliff, as deaf as he is, was awakened, and finally put her out on the back porch and then promptly went back to sleep.  As for me, once I'm awakened at that time of the morning, the chances are slight that I will go to sleep again, so I'm draggy and grumpy today.  
Thanks to Facebook friends, I found out that the rain really was very spotty.  We received over 2 1/2 inches.  Spring Hill, Kansas, got no rain at all, even though that's usually in the direction from whence our storms come.  Harrisonville, Missouri, got three inches, while a friend in Independence only had a few drops in her rain gauge.  She's about twenty miles to the west of us.  Perhaps that forecast for Kansas City was correct!  

My garden is not much to brag about this year.  For some reason I can't get beets and carrots to germinate; I've planted both three or four times, and except for the first planting, which was very small, I'm getting nothing except an occasional beet or carrot here and there.  The potatoes got sickly early on, from blight.  I need to make a mental note to plant Kennebecs next year; they aren't so susceptible to blight.

There have been triumphs:  So far my cucumbers, butternut squash, and zucchini have survived the attack of squash bugs, although I fought them diligently at first.  Cucumbers are on this end, then the butternut squash, then the zucchini, which received quite a battering in the wind last night.  I just prepared a batch of cucumbers and onion in vinegar and sugar for our future meals.  

  That's the early corn.  I learned a valuable thing about corn:  For years I would plant it, only to have the moles eat it as soon as it was in the ground.  This year I put the seeds between layers of paper towels, soaked it all, put it in a plastic sandwich bag and sealed it, and about a week later, planted the germinated corn.  Apparently moles don't like their seeds germinated, because every single seed came up, all three plantings.  

The tomato plants are loaded and doing well since Cliff put up electric fence to keep out the varmints who were using green tomatoes for bowling balls.  I've always told people that if everything in my garden fails except for the tomatoes, it's a successful year:  Tomatoes are the queen of my garden.  No blight to speak of except on one old-variety plant, Steakhouse Hybrid.  I need to leave the heritage varieties alone.  They never do well for me.    

On the right is the okra, and on the left is my second planting of corn.  The wind blew it over last night, but it will be standing up tomorrow.  In the background is my other row of tomatoes.  For some reason I planted a row at either end of the garden, which makes no sense at all.  Just on the other side of the corn you can see my sickly potato vines.  At the other end of the two corn rows are my second-planting green beans.  My aim is to have plenty to eat fresh, and none to can.  I still have canned green beans from last year.  

We'll be eating stuffed peppers before you know it.  

Here are the flowers along my sidewalk.  The Asiatic lilies are long-since done, and the day lilies will soon be through.  The Hibiscus plants have buds, but no flowers so far.  The cone flowers in the distance are doing well.  I love cone flowers:  They perform well in all kinds of weather and require little care.  

I will leave you with a picture of what used to be our bedroom in the old two-story house:
That's looking into the kitchen.  It doesn't look like that now, though.  They have stripped off the plaster; it's down to wood, just like this room.  I'm rather excited with some of the grandson's ideas.  He's moving the stairs in order to have a bigger kitchen.  And this, which was my bedroom, is going to be a dining room.  They will sleep upstairs.