Wednesday, October 26, 2011
MUST BE HORMONES.
5:43 pm edt
Two hens are setting on clutches of eggs and surprisingly one of them is a young white orphan, possibly the one with the missing
wing. I have never before had such a testy hen! She will probably be one of those abusive mothers that confront
us daily on the news.... I'm trying very hard to excuse her unpleasant attitude as temporary hormonal imbalance, but
what used to be a pleasant part of the day has become hazardous.
When hens become broody I mark a chosen number of eggs with a colored slash and collect any other eggs her gal pals might
lay in that box, so this requires lifting the expectant mother each afternoon. My hand now bears witness to her nasty
disposition. Meanwhile, her little red friend in the adjoining box is polite and cooperative. I wish the little
red hen would explain that such violent behavior is unacceptable. Wearing a leather glove to collect eggs should not be necessary.
For the past hour a helicopter has been making wide circles overhead. While this event is odd, what this chopper is
trailing is even more peculiar. Behind the red, white and blue, fast-flying vehicle streams a very long tail of rope,
chain or cable of some sort. On the end were what appeared to be three balls or balloons. It just made yet another
pass still trailing the long tail, but minus the three appendages. Is this related to the fracking frenzy? To be continued....
Call me paranoid if you will, but considering the intrusions to our privacy which have become all too common, things like
helicopters trailing weird-looking orbs and making repeated passes over this innocuous farm concern me. It also annoys
Tomorrow this time I will be dining in Roanoke, Virginia. Neighbor Sandy will be in charge here, much to the critters'
delight as she spoils them shamelessly. While I look forward to rediscovering the beauty of the Blue Ridge Mountains,
it may not be possible to keep up with this blog. I will try to post if/when time permits.
Tuesday, October 25, 2011
THE LAST OF THE SUMMER WINE.
7:07 pm edt
I know it's a
British comedy, but it seems a fitting description of my gardens too. What was so beautiful just a couple of months
ago had become just a gigantic withering mess. It seemed to happen overnight. But, here' the real problem. Plant
one dahlia, enjoy the blooms, then dig up six dahlia tubers. They multiply like rabbits.
I had many tubers thanks to the previous years multiplication, I planted a lot of dahlias this past spring. Yes, I had indeed
enjoyed glorious blossoms and bouquets all season, but now I am faced with digging up hundreds more tubers. I've hardly
made a dent in the project although I've been working at it for days. This is just one little garden! There are three
Once they're out of the ground they still must be packed in damp peat moss and hauled into the cellar for the winter.
I've decided to offer some for sale in the spring (after all the hard work is finished...). Watch for my Craigslist
It would be nice to think this will be the end of the labor, but not so. There are still gladiolas and countless cannas lilies.
Planting is so much easier than fall clean up!
Monday, October 24, 2011
3:51 pm edt
Today began as
any other; stumble down the stairs, let the dogs out, feed the cats, fill the dog bowls, let them in, pour coffee.... But
enjoying that first cup was short-lived because Andy stood at the fence screaming that he wanted his breakfast (he speaks
for himself and his little partner in crime Corky...) and he wanted it NOW, so it was off to the barn a little earlier than
I'd have liked.
There, the routine is unvaried; open the chicken coop, dump a scoop of grain in their feed trough, feed the donkeys and clean
the stall. All was going according to schedule when a great commotion arose from the barnyard. As I've often remarked,
we who keep chickens understand "poultry talk" and the cries that pierced the quiet morning meant one thing-hawk!!!!
Lothario was in a frenzy. He's good at protecting his harem and his message was clear; "Take cover ASAP,"
so all the girls huddled under the spruce as their mighty protector (who is as big as Ted) made noisy skyward threats.
Dear visually-impaired Julie was also in a tizzy. Apparently her overhead vision is much better than her peripheral
sight. She ran the fenceline, the hair on her back standing on end making her look like a Rhodesian Ridgeback rather
than my meek little cartoon dog.
The redtail swooped low as if hoping to find a straggler. I ran from the barn brandishing a broom and finally the aerial
marauder seemed to give up. He lit atop another pine tree for a brief rest, then headed north. But he had not
given up. He had merely gone for the rest of the family.
"Come with me. We'll all go to KFC (Karen's Fresh Chicken) for brunch." Before I was finished with morning
chores two juveniles and one adult arrived. They spent the next several hours patrolling the barnyard while the poor chooks
nervously raced from one cover to another. The redtails should stick to catching rodents. Sissy the cat certainly
has no trouble. She brings at least one poor victim home each day.
So far, all birds remain safe, but Julie
and I can't be out there helping Lothario patrol the barnyard. We have work to do, so it will have to be survival of
the fittest. I wish my girls the best of luck.
Saturday, October 22, 2011
5:20 pm edt
On Tuesday a dear friend
is coming to visit. She's bringing her two dogs with her, so it should be party time for the animals here. Later in
the week I'm heading for the Blue Ridge Mountains on a press trip. It's been such a long time since I've visited this
area that all I can remember is that it's quite beautiful, so I'm looking forward to the trip.
Of course, all
of this means crunch time here at home. Making the place presentable for my house guest while addressing all the other
things I've put off must now be finished before departure. As usual I am easily distracted. Today
I worked in the gardens.
Knowing my love of words a friend gave me a word-a-day calendar. While many of the words are familiar, many are not-like
todays word; bricolage. It's a nice word that feels good rolling off one's tongue and one that could certainly be used
in describing projects undertaken by people in my social circle. Bricolage means construction achieved by using whatever
is at hand. Hmm.... Since my home is an assemblage of thrift store finds it is unlikely I will be able to get it guest-worthy
Friday, October 21, 2011
IN YOUR OWN NEIGHBORHOOD.
6:46 pm edt
I've avoided mentioning
the heartbreaking event in Zanesville, something that could have/should have been prevented. But thanks to Ohio's archaic
animal welfare laws and an effete governor a the lives of innocent animals ended badly. A lot of people would be surprised
to know how common situations like this are. I know because several years ago I was involved in a similar nightmare.
there's a deer living in a cage the size of a desk," said the caller. The location was less than ten miles away.
I jumped in my truck and went to see for myself. His description of the cage was exaggerated, but what he didn't see
was far worse than the Sitka deer confined to a chainlink pen that was knee deep in mud and manure. There was no place
for the poor animal to escape the water and muck, but that was just the tip of the iceberg. In a shack the size of a
garden shed was a whitetail doe named Lorraine.
Countless plastic sky kennels held exotic birds so restricted that their tail feathers were broken off. Moldy wet grain covered
the floor. A corn crib was filled with quail and wild turkeys. Another shed (I use the term loosely) housed several
wild boars, also imprisoned in a swamp of muck with no escape. Two bears languished in a windowless concrete garage
with nothing but a tire and a bare lightbulb for "comfort." One was sitting on his haunches holding a birthday
cake in his paw the first time I saw them.
In a dark back stall of another building an enraged bull bison slammed at the rotting boards of his prison while a Scottish
Highland bull stood tethered to a truck axel outside. Each discovery was worse than the previous one, but the one that
ripped my heart out was the metal shipping container that held two foxes; one Arctic and one Silver. The owner had hoped
they would breed. Thank God they didn't. The two animals had never set foot on anything but metal grating their
entire lives. They were crowded onto deteriorating flakeboard shelves eating spaghetti, not exactly a natural vulpine
Most bizarre of all was the fact that all of these creatures were on a property where no one lived, but it didn't take much
effort to discover the owner, another eccentric man who claimed to love the animals. After politely pointing out that
he seemed to be in over his head I asked if he would accept some help to which he agreed.
A crew of volunteers
was recruited and we spent the next several weeks putting up fencing, persuading the sickly man to part with releasable birds
and to sell the bison. We released the boars into their newly fenced habitat and someone took Lorraine and promised to release
her in a safe place, but my biggest coup was getting the man to sell the two foxes to me. I wasn't entirely sure what
their fate would be, but it would certainly be better than they'd known up to that point. I began making phone calls.
a sanctuary in New Jersey agreed to take them and so one a blustery December day my daughter and I loaded the caged foxes
into the enclosed back of my truck and we set off for Popcorn Park. They must have thought they had died and gone to
heaven as they had dry bedding and food. They traveled well, but our journey became treacherous when we encountered
the blizzard of all blizzards in eastern Pennsylvania. At one point the storm was so intense we couldn't see the road.
We spent the night at a mom and pop motel that had only sporadic heat, but we were grateful anyway.
sanctuary with the odd-sounding name was a wonderful place! They were expecting "Ebony" and "Ivory"
(as they dubbed them) and had a quarantine pen ready and waiting. The 10' x 10' enclosure had a dog house and even a
small pond and best of all, appropriate food. To see those animals set foot on solid ground and to explore their new housing
was one of the most gratifying efforts of my life. They were vaccinated, their long nails were trimmed and after a thorough
examination they were released into a huge enclosed natural habitat where they lived out their lives. The sanctuary
sent annual updates and photos and notified me when one of them died about ten years later.
Back at "the
ranch" an ongoing relationship was established with the man whose "love" of exotics had gotten out of control.
Ultimately he relinquished all of the animals and birds except for the pitiful bears that remained imprisoned in their concrete
hell. He died several years later, but from the Zanesville incident it is obvious that situations like the one I knew
are all too common and often times far worse for the animals.
Thursday, October 20, 2011
THINGS TO COME..
9:46 pm edt
In 1999 in preparation
for several articles about the impending Y-2 K "crisis" I interviewed the owners of Lehman's Old-Fashioned Hardware,
a quaint place which has been supplying the n0n-electric community for nearly seven decades. At that time the owners
were overwhelmed with a flood of new customers who were preparing for a feared life without electricity. While the store
enjoyed a boom in business, the stupidity of the new customers drove some of their employees who had worked there for thirty
years to resign.
"People were buying a dozen oil lamps...," said the sort-of, but-no-longer-Amish owner. He was perplexed because
they just didn't get it when he tried to tell them you only need a lamp in the room you are using, so theoretically one or
two lamps would be adequate. Now that the first real blast of cold weather has hit I am reminded of Galen Lehman's words,
but as it applies to heat.
Having just spent $635.00 for the first tank of heating oil I am reluctant to turn on the furnace, especially since it doesn't
really warm the house anyway and it's only October. It just sucks up the liquid gold, so depending upon it to stay warm
would cost a bloody fortune! I'm just one person who can only be in one place at a time, so a fire in the woodstove
keeps the living room toasty and a small space heater next to my desk keeps the office toasty. I move between these
two rooms, one of which is my work space, the other my relaxing space, and it's really all I need.
The effort involved
in staying comfortable and saving money changes ones entire perspective on life. The warmth feels luxurious. The
generous supply of firewood I see stacked on the porch and behind the tractor shed provides a satisfying sense of security.
This cold wet day reminds me there is still more winterizing to be done, but I think uncomfortable reality checks are important.
How else can we know what really matters and what's really necessary?
Tuesday, October 18, 2011
DID SOMEONE SAY CHEESE...
7:12 pm edt
Just don't say it around me! I freely
admit that the ‘art' of cheese making is not within my realm. Unless the finished product (which won't be finished
for at least another 24 hours...) is utterly fantastic, I will not be making any more and I will tell old Kenny to stop his
twice-weekly milk deliveries.
reading many cheese making web sites and consulting two books on the subject (all of which assured me the process would be
fun and easy) and sterilizing every pot, whisk, spoon and sieve in my kitchen I began making what one authority called Beginner's
Cheese. I call it One Shot Cheese. The cheese making process requires concentration, dedication and precision timing
and temperatures. No matter how careful I tried to be, there were spills. It was a mess. The dogs and cats
and chickens all had whey with their food this morning and I don't think any of them were keen on the stuff.
I shall spare you readers all of the boring details, but
suffice it to say that I have a renewed appreciation of the finely-crafted stuff available at the grocery. The next time
I say "cheese" it will be to place an order at the deli. "...and some Stilton, please...."
Monday, October 17, 2011
WHAT HAVE I CREATED?
3:35 pm edt
Admittedly I have a
soft spot in my heart for the orphans, especially the white ones since I've rarely had anything but colored breeds. But now
it seems I've created chickens who consider themselves special and more privileged than the rest of the flock. They
prefer to hang around the house rather than scratch around the gardens like their compatriots. They frequently sit on
the patio bench. They hurry toward the house whenever they hear the door open and when my truck pulls into the driveway
they race across the yard as if they've just won the Publisher's Clearinghouse Sweepstakes. Now they have discovered
that by coming up on the deck they can peer directly into the kitchen. I know this is a ploy to make me think they are
starving--especially if I happen to be cooking. I think that given half a chance they'd march right inside. It
seems that even a small amount of favoritism directed toward poultry can get out of control.
Birds need to
be birds, but you've got to admit, these girls are pretty cute, aren't they?
Sunday, October 16, 2011
5:09 pm edt
When I was a kid
I spent a good bit of time on a dairy farm in Carroll County. My uncle liked to help with haying and other farm work
and he also put in a huge garden there which supplied a lot of our family's food. The farm family rarely came into our
town, and when they did it was usually for a funeral or some other formal occasion. They would be all cleaned up; no muck
boots, no coveralls, no engineers' caps (husband and wife dressed alike). While they might have been wearing their city
clothes they still smelled like milk. The back door would open and they'd enter my mother's tidy kitchen and regardless
of what she'd been cooking the room instantly took on the aroma of their milk house. I fear I may be heading for that
Friends will soon dread seeing me coming up their walkway and they'll run for the Air Wick or Oust. The reason is because
thanks to old Kenny I am drowning in the white stuff. The first thing I saw this morning when I looked out the kitchen
window was the black Volvo station wagon at the end of the drive and old Kenny unloading two gallons of Cow's morning output.
The dogs and I went out to the gate to meet him.
"Kenny, what in the world am I supposed to do with all this milk?" I questioned. Never one to mince words he replied,
"Drink it!" He then went on to suggest that if I leave it outside for a few days it would turn to cottage
cheese. "Then you just drain off the whey and drink that. Go to the health food store and get some flax seed
oil and mix that with the curds. If you've got cancer, this will cure it." Hmm, I wonder if he's shared this
secret with the Cleveland Clinic.
As you see the chickens have taken the lacto-ova dietary designation one step beyond. As an experiment I offered them
a bowl of milk this morning. They clustered around the unfamiliar stuff, clucking quietly among themselves; "I'm
not tasting it. You taste it...." No one wanted to be the first, but all were curious. Enter
the odd little red hen, the rebel of the flock. "Ah, I've been dying for some milk," she said and began to
drink with chicken gusto. That's all it took.
While this may augment their scratch feed and all of the other things poultry enjoy eating, it will hardly make a dent in
the continuous milk supply, so tomorrow I'm picking up a cheese-making cookbook and other supplies. Waste not, want
Saturday, October 15, 2011
STAND UP AND BE HEARD.
4:42 pm edt
Today was the first really cold and blustery day of the season. The morning skies were dark and ominous and the wind
bit at my face as I trudged up to the barn. I wanted to hurry back to the house, pour another steaming cup of coffee
, curl up on the sofa and watch This Old House. That's what I wanted to do, but that isn't what I did do.
The Occupy Wall Street demonstrations which have made their way across the country had scheduled a noon protest in a nearby
town. After all my complaining about societal apathy I could hardly ignore this opportunity. Outside the winds
were howling. Inside the phone was ringing.
"So, are you going?" asked T. I hedged and carped about the cold and the threat of rain until he replied,
"I guess you're just a fair weather activist, right?" That did it. I hung up the phone and headed to
the cellar ‘sign shop' and hastily whipped out my succinct message: TAX THE GREEDY, HELP THE NEEDY and hoped the
paint would be dry by the time I had to leave.
Driving to the site I wondered what the crowd would look like. Would they all be twenty-somethings? Would there
even be a crowd? I was pleased to be met by a milling group of about one hundred other disgruntled citizens.
Yes, there were some twenty-somethings. In fact the event had been organized by a dedicated and confident young man,
but it was gratifying to note that most of those in attendance were of my generation. These were people who had marched
for Civil Rights and demanded the end to wars. This was not their first demonstration.
Everyone was cold and the raging wind threatened
to rip signs from frigid fingers, but as an endless stream of traffic passed us, tooting their horns and offering thumbs up,
the cold seemed not to matter.
Will these demonstrations change anything? Probably not, but I'm glad I went. I wish I had handed my sign to someone
to hold so that I might have gotten a photo of the crowd instead of just a few butts.
Friday, October 14, 2011
ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT US?
7:00 pm edt
I acquired this old farm I also acquired two old ponies; Wildfire and Joe Pye. They were sweethearts who did not whittle
away at the barn. They respected their home. They only ran away from home a couple of times during the many years they
lived here and even then it was just to turf neighbor Bill's pristine lawn. Then they came home. Those ponies
were wonderful. They were happy to give rides to little kids. They walked in parades and they caused me no grief. Life
seemed so much simpler back then. Who could have guessed their successors (the bad asses) would be so bad!
barnyard used to have many trees, but Corky and Andy immediately set out to remove as many as possible. One might have thought
they were being paid for their demolition work. They managed to kill nearly all of the trees which were ultimately cut down
and turned into firewood. Encircling the sugar maple with wire fencing saved that one. Thankfully it remains robust.
In the middle of the paddock stands a southern pitch pine tree--or at least what remains of it. The bad asses girdled
the exotic looking evergreen and the missing bark quickly took a toll. It's now more dead than alive, so when the winds
pick up, the limbs fall down. And so it was this week. A couple of big boughs came down during the night, much
to the troublemakers' delight. Suddenly they found themselves with an all-you-can-eat buffet plus a new toy. In
the course of an afternoon they consumed more than half of what nature had brought down. Today they hauled some of the
limbs into their stall. ‘Late night snacks perhaps? Yesterday someone asked me why I have these two. "Do
you just love them or do they work for you?" I really had to stop and think about how to answer that question.
Thursday, October 13, 2011
ANOTHER LOVELY DAY!
4:32 pm edt
"I love fall! Fall is exciting.
It's apples and cider.
It's an airborne
It's pumpkins in bins.
It's burrs on dog's chins.
It's wind blowing leaves.
It's chilly red
It's nuts on the ground.
It's a crisp dry sound.
It's green leaves turning
And the smell of
It's clouds in the sky.
It's fall. That's why...
I love fall."
I know this is really a corny poem, but I too love fall.
The recipe du jour utilizing old Kenny's milk was café crème brulee and I must admit it's quite good.
This is from an old Joy of Cooking book.
eggs slightly beaten (thank you my lovely hens...)
C. sugar (I use raw sugar which I believe to be tastier)
1 tsp. vanilla (not called for, but I added
¾ C. strong brewed coffee
2 ¼ C. milk or cream (Kenny's milk is very rich)
Ramekins lightly coated with caramel.
Pour the well-blended mixture into the ramekins and place them in a shallow pan of water. Bake at 350
degrees for an hour or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Enjoy.
Wednesday, October 12, 2011
5:29 pm edt
In the gray drizzly morning light
it was easy to spot the two jugs of milk sitting next to the gate. Kenny had delivered Cow's morning production. I scurried
out to collect it, then read about pasteurization and decided this milk would not go to waste. After employing sanitation
measures old Kenny had not employed I used some of it to make the following recipe. Note my modifications in parenthesis.
While making this quiche required a lot of messing around, the finished product tasted good enough to share.
1 (10 oz.) pkg. frozen chopped spinach (I used fresh Swiss Chard,
chopped, steamed & drained)
3/4 c. cream (I used 2 cups of Kenny's fresh milk which I had pasteurized)
1 1/4 c. milk (xxxx)
Salt and pepper to taste
2 tbsp. lemon juice
2 tbsp. parsley, chopped
(I also added about 1/3 C. of chopped onion)
1/4 lb. Feta cheese, crumbled
1 quiche crust (pie crust) unbaked
3 tbsp. fresh grated Parmesan or Romano cheese
Drain spinach (chard) and squeeze out (drain) as much moisture as possible;
it should be fairly dry. Mix the eggs, cream and milk. Add the salt, pepper, lemon juice and parsley. Stir in spinach and
Feta cheese. Fill quiche crust and place the grated cheese on top.
at 375 degrees for 30 to 40 minutes or until a knife inserted in center comes out dry. Cool for 10 minutes before serving.
Also good at room temperature.
Tuesday, October 11, 2011
7:50 pm edt
I was preoccupied as I drove
down the road toward home. Then I saw the black Volvo station wagon ahead of me.
By the time I'd parked my truck and walked
out to the mail box the Volvo had turned around and was drawing to a stop. In the driver seat was none other than my
not-so-secret admirer, Kenny. I put on my happy face and said, "Hi neighbor, did you find the cookies I left for
you?" He nodded and thanked me, but somehow I knew what was coming.
"Hey, can you use some more milk?"
he asked. Thank goodness he didn't have another barrel of the stuff in his car, but he had a little of everything else.
Like all of his vehicles the Volvo is like a variety store on wheels.
He sometimes drives his dead sister's
Hornet,out of nostalgia I suspect. It's a miracle it still runs. His two-tone blue truck with the cap seems to be his
"farm truck" and the Volvo is without a doubt his luxury car, but Kenny's preferred mode of transportation is his
bright red truck with matching cap; his chick magnet. Neighbor Sandy says he uses it to court his alleged Amish girlfriend.
been cleaning out his barn and I suspect that what he has taken from that "storage area" has been stuffed into the
aforementioned cars and trucks. They are all jam packed; 'no room for passengers that I could see! There are dented
cans of tuna, soup and salmon, vacuum cleaners (one per vehicle), great piles of newspapers and magazines, most of which are
yellowed and dry (fire starters perhaps?), assorted clothing, plastic jugs and buckets and who knows what else is hidden under
the visible top layers?
I explain that five gallons of milk is simply far more than I could ever hope to use, but I mention that I'm thinking about
making cheese and when I get the required equipment I will be grateful for a small amount of milk. His round face punctuated
by the bluest eyes brightened and the mouth with only a few teeth spread into a big smile. "Well, all you have
to do is let it get sour and then you've got cottage cheese," he said. I don't think so!!! I have something
a bit more artisanal in mind.
Kenny is about 90 years old, give or take a year either way and he's still living independently on his family's farm, keeping
cows and keeping busy. He pulls chickweed from the manure paddies and pops it into his almost-toothless mouth and he
says he's never drank anything but raw milk his entire life. Maybe there's something to Kenny's diet, but I just can't
bring myself to adopt it.
Monday, October 10, 2011
A HOUSE OF SECRETS.
8:35 pm edt
The little gray house
is as nondescript as its color. It sits back from the roadway sheltered by a few nice trees on the south side of the
creek. Sometimes a man on a John Deere tractor would be seen mowing the grass, but other than that there was no sign
of life at the odd little property. Then one night sirens screamed down the road and terminated at the dull gray house.
After that the grass grew tall.
from the trees and one time this summer the township mowed the lawn. No one knew the name of the gray-haired man
on the green mower and now he is gone. We all speculated that the ambulance had carried him away, but the truth has
come out. Rural people love gossip.
The nameless man
didn't die. His wife, the one no one knew existed did die. When the widower discovered that the house (which was
in the name of the dead woman) had not been left to him, but to a son (not his) who lives in California, he abandoned his
green John Deere and the dreary gray house and vanished like the wind. Now the house sits empty amidst a sea of grass
that has again grown tall and wild. The man none of us knew is as gone as the wife we never knew.
Sunday, October 9, 2011
REDUCE, RECYCLE, REUSE
7:20 pm edt
Kenny finds a use for everything. Here you see he has repurposed
an old washing machine agitator. It now serves as a unique fence post finial. Clever Kenny.
Saturday, October 8, 2011
5:51 pm edt
Peggy has fit right in. Tiny told her the plants needed to be
pruned, so here she is investigating the situation. Last night I was awakened from a sound sleep when a man's voice
loudly announced, "To delete all old messages, hit delete again." Peggy had discovered the answering machine.
Tomorrow she will have her first critter sitter experience as I will be kayaking and biking at Preque Isle. Neighbor Sandy
will be in charge. I need a break!
Friday, October 7, 2011
THE NEW FARM MACHINERY.
4:52 pm edt
It sounded like
a combine in the soybean field to the north, but I soon realized the sound was stationary, so with my entourage of cats and
dogs I set off on the nature trail to investigate. It was not a combine. It was the OMNI seismic drillers and they were
about one hundred feet directly north of the well that supplies the barn water. Will this well be affected when they
set off the charges? Only time will tell. I will concede that when they finished the thirty foot drill there was no
sign they'd been there other than new pink markers amidst the beans.
It's hard to describe the tension in the
air around here now that we have confirmation that a fracking well will definitely be drilled just up the road at the farm
of my hay man. Hay man has boatloads of money and a lot of land which already hosts a couple of oil wells. Rumor
has it that he plans to be conveniently absent during the process in order to avoid any unpleasant confrontation with township
residents. He'll be on a two month holiday. How nice for him....
None of us want to say what we all know;
that the quiet country life we've long taken for granted is now threatened. The fleet of white trucks, the huge spools
of cable, the inevitable fracking that will forever change life as we've known it; it's all too frightening to acknowledge,
so we watch in impotent silence. All of our early concerns and objections fell on deaf ears and the powers that be gave
a hearty okay to the drillers. Now we just wait and worry.
I'm not quite sure just how I stumbled upon Erin Silva's blog, but it is certainly worth sharing. Ms. Silva's scholarly
site focuses on sustainability, a word and a concept glaringly absent in all the political blabbing these days. She
articulately echoes my own thoughts about how and why our planet has become so imperiled. Her blog is compelling and
Oh, to be as oblivious as Sissy on this beautiful fall day.
Thursday, October 6, 2011
WASTE NOT, WANT NOT.
2:25 pm edt
Even knowing the unsanitary
conditions at old Kenny's (especially in the barn), allowing the five gallons of raw milk which he delivered on Sunday to
go to waste disturbed me. I bottled and refrigerated four containers and the cats have been having cream for breakfast.
I also took some to TPP to feed to the feral cats at the trailer park, but even so, there were still a couple of gallons left
in the big bucket and the milk had gone sour. I had no choice but to dump it.
The taste and health benefits of raw milk
can't be beat, but only if the cow is grass fed and production conditions are hygienic. By such standards Kenny gets
just a 50% rating. An excellent web site detailing the facts about raw milk answered a lot of questions, but I emailed
the director regarding Kenny's milk and got an understanding and encouraging response. He said it's a pity the milk
is tainted because five gallons of raw milk has a value of $80.00! (http://www.raw-milk-facts.com/ )
I know that Kenny would gladly trade more milk for eggs, cookies, soup, etc., so I'm now looking into the possibility of making
cheese. I know nothing about this procedure, but it may provide a use for the abundance of Cow's milk and it would give
me a chance to clean up old Kenny's milk house. This project is still in the "thinking about" stage.
To be continued.
It's crunch time for the garden. I've taken down the fence that kept the chickens at bay. They are welcome to
all that remain on the tomato vines. I picked all that were turning and those are ripening in the garden shed while
sauce is simmering on the stove. Beets are also cooking and I've processed the pumpkin and squash. The freezer
full of pureed orange stuff will be great for soups and pies this winter. I'm eager to pull out all of the plants and
ready the garden for winter, but instead I'll use the rest of this sunny afternoon to fill the wood box with dry kindling
and to begin loading the log rack on the porch.
I love to be outside working. Yes, there is a boatload of work on my desk that calls to me, but one just can't afford
to ignore weather like this. Manual labor is just as satisfying as mental efforts. In my opinion, a balance of
the two make for a very satisfying life.
Wednesday, October 5, 2011
OVERHEARD IN THE COOP.
9:35 am edt
"Well hell yes it hurts! And you know how cheap she is, so I probably won't get a prosthesis
and it's hard to get around with just one wing," said the ravaged white hen. Her gal pals listened anxiously, hoping
she'd tell just where she'd been for four days and who had ripped off her wing. Her story would be a best seller for
sure and who knows, maybe even a made for telly kid flick.
She's safe now, but her former friendly demeanor is gone along with the wing. When I reached up to pet her she pecked
the heck out of my hand, but who could blame her. I'd probably be testy too if someone had ripped off my arm.
Chickens are very resilient! Aside from a grumpy attitude she has resumed her place in the flock as if nothing much
DEBUT PEGGY SUE.
Park Person's place isn't likely to make the pages of House Beautiful, but compared to just a few days ago, it's downright
elegant. All the windows are cleaned and secured with glass storm windows which I got from the local hardware dumpster
or heavy plastic. Matching draperies (formerly from my bedroom) were retrofitted and hung to complete the remodel.
My friend Diana was an invaluable helper and we were both pleased with our accomplishment, but really happy to be out of there.
What a hell hole!
I did not leave TPP empty-handed. Meet Peggy Sue. TPP says someone dumped this kitten and that's probably the
case. The baby is no more than 7-8 weeks old and too cute for words. In the past couple of years my daughter has
trapped and vetted twelve cats from this trailer park. There are three new feral adult cats that will have to be fixed,
but Peggy has been saved from such a fate. The following story about Jill's cat rescue group ran in our local newspaper
over the weekend. I'm very proud of her. http://www.cantonrep.com/life/x360258461/Helping-Hands-Lake-Township-woman-works-to-control-population-of-feral-cats
Tuesday, October 4, 2011
WITHOUT A CLUE.
10:06 am edt
Several days ago I bemoaned the mysterious disappearance of one of the white hens. The orphan had vanished ‘without
a trace.' Now she is back leaving me ‘without a clue.'
This morning I looked out the kitchen
window to see what appeared to be white paint all over the road in front of the mailbox. Clad in my robe and slippers
I trudged out to investigate. It was not paint, but thousands of white feathers-clearly the plumage of the missing hen.
led from the road through the dense weeds and into the soybean field. In the ditch was a clutch of more feathers and
each side of the road for about fifty feet in either direction bore a white dusting. It seemed the hen had met with
disaster, but why was the evidence only showing up now? She vanished four days ago and my searches had produced not
a single feather-clue. Dismayed I returned to the house where the breakfast club had congregated to await their morning
oatmeal. I was talking to T. on the phone, telling him what I'd just discovered as I was dispensing treats to the flock.
"...And I really was fond of those white hens," I was saying just as the third white chicken came around the corner.
I could not believe my eyes!
She's thin and her pretty plumage is smeared with blood. She has a limp, but her most critical injury is the missing
wing, evidently the result of the mailbox massacre. Chickens are rather stupid creatures. While I'm amazed at
the resourcefulness of the hen who survived out on her own for several days, I'm repulsed at the reaction of her comrades.
Instead of a hearty ‘welcome home' greeting, she was met with vicious pecks. Injuries that produce blood trigger
cannibalism in poultry. It's a disgusting behavior.
The hen had to be cleaned up. Still in my night clothes and slippers I hurried to the barn to get the landing net, an
invaluable tool for poultry people. By the time I returned the hen had taken refuge in the shoulder-high branches of
the big blue spruce. She sat next to the trunk making it impossible for me to get near enough to grab her and rendering the
landing net useless. Even my near-perfect chicken chatter failed to sooth the traumatized hen. People who keep
poultry become bilingual without even trying. She hopped down from the tree and joined one of her white sisters who
urged the patient into the donkey stall, safely away from her feathered tormenters.
Twice last evening the dogs leapt to attention,
upset and barking as if something or someone was at the door. Although I saw nothing, the events of the morning suggest
that this was probably when the predator was ripping my poor little hen's wing from her ragged body just on the other side
of the gate. I suspect a fox or coyote.
She is now eating and drinking and has told me she is very happy to be home. An updated portrait will be taken tonight when
she is safely roosting in the coop. While few of my birds have names, I think this hen is deserving of a moniker.
Submit suggestions! I don't have a clue.
Sunday, October 2, 2011
7:04 pm edt
a loss for words and for me that's unusual, but here is a synopsis of the events du jour. My back has been killing me
since digging Buddy's grave, but T. called and suggested that this might be a good time to see about weather-proofing Trailer
Park Person's (TPP) place. T. can fix anything. He's a genius, so while I might have liked to loaf by the woodstove
I could not ignore his generous offer. He had no idea what to expect for all he had to go on was my inadequate description
of the deteriorated trailer. He loaded up his tools and we drove to the dismal "neighborhood." Things
were worse than I remembered from my previous visits there!
T. did a remarkable job of screwing several plywood plates on the rotted doors that didn't even shut. Daylight beamed through
places that were supposed to be solid. He patched a huge hole in the floor and then jacked up the doors so they can
be more or less secured. Five of the windows are jalousies with no interior glass, so the louvers that don't close allow
the frigid air to blast through the ratty rotten trailer.
Early this summer I recruited a lot of
donations for TPP, but I couldn't help but notice the absence of all of the furnishings, dishes, linens, lamps and the whole
truckload of goods intended to make life a bit more comfortable for this person. When questioned about the vanished
good the reply was, "Well, the cats kept jumping on the table, so I gave the things to someone who really needed them...."
I was speechless. Not only were all of the above items gone, but so was the refrigerator! There was no sign of
food and the home-baked muffin I'd taken over was immediately consumed with gusto.
TPP clearly has some serious mental issues
and fears being evicted from the hell hole that serves as little more than the most basic shelter. My barn animals have
more comfortable accommodations. Tomorrow I will return to staple plastic over the windows and to hang some heavy draperies
that will help keep out the weather, but the situation is pretty hopeless.
TPP's existence came to light when my
daughter was called to help capture some feral cats. I wonder how many poor souls like this exist just under the radar.
I hope the monster landlord who exploits TPP and others in this ghetto meets his Karma soon! As I said, cats were the introduction
to this place and not surprisingly I met Buddy's replacement there today. The kitten was allegedly dumped. It's
no more than eight weeks old and of course it's darling, but when T. and I prepared to depart the kitten had vanished or it
would be here right now. It is somewhere in that trailer, so hopefully I will get it tomorrow.
I were discussing the pathetic plight of TPP and other such vulnerable victims of greed as we pulled into my driveway.
On the walkway sat a big, white, lidded bucket. T. lifted the lid to reveal what sort of looked like beige paint, but
also sort of looked like milk. I touched a drop to my tongue (yes, I do stuff like this...) and confirmed that while
we were being Good Samaritans I had been the lucky recipient of a giant bucket of milk from old Kenny. I guess I've
been forgiven for liberating the bull....
What to do with more than five gallons of questionable milk!!! I've bottled about half of it and put that in the fridge
for the cats. I'll deliver some to TPP tomorrow for the countless cats roaming that trailer park, but the rest is still
on the patio.
It's been quite a day and I'll be glad to wrap this one up.
Saturday, October 1, 2011
WHY PEOPLE GET MARRIED.
10:10 am edt
Personally I am not the marrying type (although I was ‘Mrs.' a long, long time ago...), but now that winter is pushing
in I can see some advantages to being half of a pair; you can blame someone else for procrastinating. Darn. I
have no one to blame but myself for the wet firewood. For weeks I've been trying to remember to buy a couple of tarps
to cover the beautiful stack of nice cordwood. Now it's raining and it's cold and it would be lovely to have a cozy
fire in the woodstove, but.... Today I'm definitely heading to the hardware to get what I should have gotten weeks earlier.
But, back to reasons to be married.... That's the only one I've come up with so far, but I'll think about this.
Surely there are other bonuses. Right?
The deluge of tomatoes is finally slowing down. Those I'm currently picking aren't nearly as nice as earlier harvests,
but they aren't bad, so weekly sauce production continues. I've found a simple short cut and the result is very good.
'Wish I'd thought of this months ago.
Blanch the thoroughly ripened tomatoes (allow to deepen in color on the windowsill) for about 30 seconds, then peel and core
and cut into big wedges. Toss them into a kettle along with coarse salt, garlic cloves, full leaves of basil and parsley
and allow the concoction to simmer over low heat for a few hours. Stir occasionally, taste and adjust spices before
putting the entire contents of the kettle into the blender. Hit puree. It couldn't be easier. No need to
chop and dice because the finished product is smooth and thick and delicious.
I will use the latest batch of sauce for eggplant parmesan.