Thursday, August 6, 2015

Varmits on the deck

Last week on an evening I was actually home there was a bit of excitement at my house.  I was sitting in my office trying to upload pictures to facebook when I heard a horrible growling sound come from the living room.  I got up and came out to see what the fuss was.  There was Chevy sitting on his cat bench staring out the french door glass at some unseen enemy.

As I looked out the other glass door I could see the problem.  There on the deck was a raccoon eating the cat food it had pulled down off the ledge, spilling the food all around.  The raccoon was not very old, or should I say not very experienced, because it looked up at me as if to say (read in your best cartoon animal voice), "hey there, what's up?  I am just grabbing a snack since all the cats were inside, so don't mind me any cause I am not concerned about that growly cat on the other side of the glass."  Yes that is exactly what that raccoon said to me.  His face and body language spoke loud and clear.

So I calmly turned away from the french doors and walked across the house to the other side where my trusty 0.22 rifle was leaning against the wall by the other door.  I picked it up and walked back to the french door.  Now normally, the wiser wild animals would see me coming back and take off.  Not this guy.  First I walked over and switched the yard light on to illuminate the deck and west side of the house.  Next I came back to the french door, took the safety off of my rifle and slowly opened the door.  Again the raccoon looked up at me coming out of the door as if to say, "Oh you are back?  Look, this was just knocked over and me and my buddy here were passing by and figured if your cats were going to be that careless we could at least help clean up the mess."  The next thing he knew I was yelling at him to get off my deck and to stop eating my cat food.  The raccoon turned slowly to leave as I raised my gun to shoot it.  One shot laid it on the deck where it kicking its feet like it wanted to run but couldn't because his legs were now parallel to the deck.  Then I yelled again and told it to get off my deck because I didn't want to have to clean up a bunch of blood.  About that time I heard the 2nd raccoon exit stage left rustling the leaves of my pampas grass and taking cover under the deck.  When I looked back the raccoon I had shot was gone.  I looked beyond the deck and did not see anything dragging itself towards the windbreak so I figured it had gone under the deck to die.  Oh great, that is just what I need (I thought).

I got the broom and cleaned up the rest of the spilled cat food.  Picked up the dish and took it inside.

Sunday evening when I came home my worst fear that the raccoon had crawled under my deck and died was verified.  When I pulled up on that side of the house to unload the car from the weekend I could smell the distinct smell of death.  Great, I thought.  I took a walk to the gardens to check on them and on my way back I was surprised to discover that the raccoon had not in fact died under my deck but rather beside it.  Right there in plain sight.  The death beetles were already hard at work on the dead body but I couldn't have that stench right there by the deck where I want to work on my project for the next week or so; and I especially did not want it out where the dogs would easily find it when they got home on Tuesday.  So I grabbed a bucket and my shovel and removed the dead body from its resting place.  Cremation followed in the morning when the wind had died down and I could burn my trash.

So you see - you never know what is going to happen on the farm.  A lot of the time things go on all the time and I am just not there to observe them, but on the rare occasion I get to, I might just have a story to tell.

Gearing up for Pumpkin Season

I have not had much of a creative writing streak these past few months and for that I apologize.  Sometimes my stories just take a while to hit me.  Maybe it is because my creative energies are working in a different way.  Let me tell you what has been going on.

Firstly, I am working hard to be a master gardener or maybe I am just trying to be a better gardener.  Either way, I have 3 gardens in 3 locations this year.  This takes a lot of work and thankfully I have help where the biggest garden is located.  That is also where all my creative ideas have been working on other projects because by this time next year there will be the beginnings of a new house that I will get to call home and with that comes lots of creativity needed to make it comfortable, functional and easy to live in but not look like it is brand new out of a box.  But back to the gardens; I planted 200 pumpkin seeds this year.  Yes 200!  I have 100 pink pumpkins in a patch all their own on the East farm.  In another garden plot there I have 7 other varieties of pumpkins, none of them being the normal orange jack-o-lantern style.  At the farm I call grandma's, because that is who used to live there, I have another smaller patch of 10 pink pumpkins with a volunteer baby boo left over from last year.  At my house I have 2 patches of approximately 18 each of the pink pumpkins.  With all of the pink pumpkins growing, I have decided to continue raising money for breast cancer research by selling my pink pumpkins and sending the funds to 2 different foundations - The Breast Cancer Research Foundation and the Pink Pumpkin Patch Foundation.  Between these 2 wonderful foundations I will split 75% of my proceeds of my pumpkin sales.  All of my pumpkins get to help, not just the pink ones.  My plan is to set up every Saturday morning somewhere in NW Kansas the 5 weeks prior to Halloween with the last sale culminating in a special presentation to a Lion's Club in Shawnee Mission, KS for my sorority sister, Kimberly Morrow.  So if you are in NW Kansas and see a dark blue hatchback with a royal blue canopy in a parking lot, that is likely me selling pumpkins.  Come and see what I have and get yourself a fun and unique pumpkin.  Look for banner too as it pictured below.  My fundraising website is listed on it and if you can't get to me to get a pumpkin, you can always donate to my fundraising efforts.



Secondly, my creative energy has been channeling into designing a house.  But it does not stop there.  I am trying to envision everything from the skeleton parts to the electrical and plumbing and just where all that will be located, how it all fits inside the walls and then once all of that is set, what will it look like when a person walks in.  Of course, I see a finished product in my mind, but making what I envision come out and appear in real life, that is the true challenge.

Third, I am trying very hard to find a creative way to make my life work.  I feel like I am stretched thinner now than I ever was when I had a child under my care.  I work 2 part time jobs and try to help my family and my future family on top of that which is another part time job essentially leaving me no time for myself.  My house is a mess.  The cats are almost certain that I have abandoned them and whenever I am home they are all glued to me like they fear I will disappear again for days on end.  No one ever told me when I was a kid that being a grown up was such hard work.  None of my teachers in high school sat down and told us what real life was like or all about.  That would have been a great educational tool to have but as I look back I realize, we were confident teenagers who thought they had it all figured out and that there was nothing we couldn't do successfully.

Finally, forgive me for the lack of blogs and quirky stories about life on the farm.  If anything has been going on, I have not been around to observe it and weave it into a fun little story for you to read.

Stay posted, pumpkin selling starts in about 6 weeks and surely that will bring some stories around.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Summertime on the farm

Sunday, June 21 ushered in the longest day of the year and the start of summer.

The things I love best about summer are varied.

I love the fireflies - they go about their nightly display as if on queue and greeted me Sunday evening with a dazzling display in the waning sunset and shortly there after flitting and twinkling about in the grass, my holyhocks, the wheat, the trees, everywhere.

I love sunset after 9:30 p.m. because even though I only get to see the very end, sometimes that last bit of twilight is the most beautiful as the stars in the skies start to show but the sun is still adding its glow on the horizon.  I was able to enjoy both edges of night time this way.

I love the night sky.  My most favorite night in the summer is August 12 when the Perseid meteor shower comes through and I can sit outside in the middle of the farm yard where I have no light pollution and watch the meteors fall for an hour or 2 before I make myself go to bed.

I love sun tea.  I always have some on hand and use a very old recipe that is tried and true.

I love my birthday so near the 4th of July so I can have sparklers to celebrate with.  The downside is that I can't do fireworks on my birthday if the wheat is still in the field because it might catch fire and I surely could not blow those candles out.

I love watching the wind dance through the wheat fields as it ripens and dries out the heads just before harvest.

I love the song of the summer night chorus when the crickets and birds and other bugs sing their songs together in one beautiful serenade.

I love to watch my garden grow.

I love to go to the cabin in the Rocky Mountains and unplug from the hectic daily grind, reconnect with mother nature there and find my inner peace in the sound of the wind blowing through the pines and rustling the aspen leaves in my favorite aspen grove.

The last thing I love about summer is that when it comes to a quiet close my most favorite season starts and that means pumpkins, Halloween, cool, crisp air and football games on Saturdays.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Daisy the Cattle Dog - farm work

This past weekend was supposed to be tree removal day but due to all the rain we have had in the past week to 10 days it got rescheduled because it was just not deemed dirt stable enough for a tractor and a big bucket truck required to drop a whole elm tree and manuvering to trim other trees around what will be the house location.

So instead of tree work, we continued to work on the clearing the build site.  That includes 2 more border fences that have to be removed so we worked on the longer of the two.  First was the 2 rows of barbed wire.  This was easy enough until it got to be time to roll the stuff up.  I failed barbed wire rolling and Larry took over that task as I continued to pull staples holding the fence to the posts.

 Now this is a story about Daisy - she was my supervisor the whole day as I was working on this task.  She would lay down next to the fence and watch me.  I never could get her to dig at the base of the fence post where the dirt had actually buried the bottom row of staples, but she was encouraging with lots of loving licks and shaking my hand for a job well done.  She also was busy doing border patrol to make sure no stinky varmints bothered me while I worked.  We had seen a skunk run across the county road that goes through the farm the night before.  The long fence is now rolled up and all that is left to do is pull the posts.  So progress is being made.

Daisy would also help me check on the garden growth by walking through the garden with me.  Of course, she was not as careful about where she stepped and I am sure there was more than one plant that got a paw push.  Her new responsibility is keeping rabbits out of the gardens so the plants can grow big and strong.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Serial Miller Moth Murder now. . . .

I have to admit that I am officially a serial murderer of miller moths.  Actually I have been for a long time, but I am finally ready to admit such.



They showed up the last week of May and every night I am armed with my weapon of choice - the fly swatter - and I kill every single miller moth in the house that I can find.  In the mornings I open the french doors to let cats out and there is always a cloud of millers trying to escape the safety of the door jamb where they have nestled into for the night.  Morning murders are especially fun because I have help - the meadowlarks (Kansas' official state bird) will swoop down and pick them out of the air for a tasty morning treat.

Just the other night before I went to bed there were no less than 6 in my bedroom and that is a sacred room where no miller moths are allowed to live for any length of time.  I killed 5 almost immediately as they were gathered around the door.  Easy targets really, hardly any sport in the murder spree.

Then last night it was another onslaught in my bedroom but this time I was ready for them.  I had finally found my backup fly swatter and was armed as I entered the room.  I used the bathroom light to lure them away from my bed.



They have also invaded the office and so I have a secondary murder location with dead miller moth bodies strew about.  I think it is almost time for a clean up and that will require enlisting the help of the vacuum cleaner to help me dispose of the bodies and leave no trace of them behind or the murderous carnage that I bestowed upon them.

There will be window washing and possibly curtain washing as well before the cleanup is all finished but for now I fondly look forward to the end of this season because I am just getting to old for all of this.