It is a “Dandy” Lion
October 31, 2011, 3:31 pm
Filed under: October 2011
Until Next Year

October 31, 2011

     Today, I scrambled around getting my chores done and sorting out my thoughts. My mind raced a hundred miles an hour. I saw something in the lawn. It was this last yellow dandelion. He bloomed proudly in spite of several frosts these last few nights. It was as if he was saying “Wait until next year, my friend.”
     I like the little bothersome flower. Many people spray their yards trying to kill the resilient pest. I say, “let them bloom.” The floating seeds are just right to catch and release as you make a wish on them. Their lazy whimsical flight is a delight to watch. The yellow carpet of their blooms is a joy to look at for me.
     Those yellow flowers fill our yard long before the summer annuals are much to look at. They bloom no matter what the weather, hot or wet. Their greens make a good summer salad or cooked like spinach they are great. I understand they make good wine too, although I have never tried it.
     I think the very best thing about them, is when a child brings you a fistful of blossoms just to say I love you. So, when I look out at our lawn filled with the yellow sun drop blossoms, I see nothing but love in its simplest form.
     Today, I was feeling a little down in the dumps. This little flower brightened my day. I know it was a gift sent to say I love you … and I am very pleased with that.
    Until next year, I will feel that last warm kiss of love. It will be enough to hold me over until the first crocus peeks through the snow to say hello. Yep, those really are some … Dandy Lions 😮

October 29, 2011, 9:40 pm
Filed under: October 2011
The “Prep” is the worst part!

October 29, 2011

     As I age I have been getting to do all sorts of things that folks just don’t talk about. There is that whole prostrate check thing and most recently a colonoscopy. I understand the necessity of both tests and thankfully passed both with flying colors… I didn’t even study 😮
     I do not mean to take away from the importance of these tests. I put my colonoscopy off for a couple of years just being lazy. I then started to hear about friends and folks I know with bigger problems. Some of these guys were tough guys who were sure they were just fine. Others had economic issues and a few were just embarrassed.
     I know of a few guys who are wearing bags and a couple others who are fighting a curable cancer, because they put off the tests for too long. I recently got a dose of reality form a friend, so I scheduled my test. The whole thing is easy, painless and you sleep through the whole thing… BUT the prep work is by far the worst part.
     I will now embellish this story a bit to bring a little humor into a serious subject that is certainly no laughing matter. Please come along for the laughs, but get yourself to the doctor and get the test… no excuses especially if you are over 50.
     The receptionist said to just fill the four liter jug to the top line, dump in some “Crystal Light” lemonade mix and shake. Refrigerate the jug overnight and follow the directions on the paper she gave me.
     The paper startled me right off when it said , “On the day before your procedure, eat only a liquid diet.” This diet was all laid out and told me to have a cup of tea, six ounces of broth and four ounces of Jell-O. That was to be my breakfast and my lunch….. Are you kidding me?!
     Once I had eaten that wholesome delightful lunch, I was to take two “Ducalax” tablets at noon. I would then have a bowel movement within the next few hours, BUT if I did not, either way, I must start drinking the refrigerated liquid promptly at four o’clock pm.
     I am a very regular guy. I had my morning consitutional earlier in the day. Those tablets were the most nutrition I had eaten all day. They made no difference to me at all. Once the clock struck four o’clock, I poured my first eight ounces into a cup and drank.
     I was to drink eight ounces every ten minutes until it was gone… about three hours worth. The first swallow was not unpleasant. The drink was pretty thick, slightly salty with the sweet tang of lemonade. I drank the first cup thinking, “This isn’t so bad.”
     Dutifully I drank that thick ,sticky stuff every ten minutes for about the first hour. Then a felt a sort of low rumble. I knew what was coming, so I was not surprised just yet. Ten minutes into the second hour and Lord Almighty, that low rumble felt more like a Tsunami in my intestines.
     I will tell my dear reader, that one should head for the bathroom once you feel the rumble or you might not make it. I, being the tough guy, tested the boundaries of my sphincter muscles. I did make it, but would not try it again on a dare!
    That is how it starts and just like the Energizer Bunny, you keep going and going and going. One would think that it would be enough just keeping up with that job and all the paperwork, but no, you must continue to drink that cold, thick, lemon tasting fiber in a jar. You are only half way done drinking it by now, as you pour in one end and out the other.
     You become bloated, perhaps even just a little crampy and you still have a third of that nasty thick beverage to go. You decide at this point to never drink lemonade again and to pay more attention to which bathroom tissue is the softest. You consider sitting and drinking to avoid all the running back and forth, but decide that is way to gross, even for this job!
     Three hours or so after taking your first drink of the clean out liquid, you drink the last few swallows. Those last few are the worst. You don’t think you can do one more drop, but the receptionist’s words echo in your ears… “Do it right or we’ll make you do it again!” So with all the courage you can muster, you down the last of the concoction.
     Ahhh, you feel vindicated that you are done drinking. The only problem is, that now, all that liquid is racing through your intestines in an effort to win a race. I am not sure what race, but I ran with the best of them 😮
     I ran for five more hours. I decided to read the ingredient statement on the magic jug. There must be something left out, because I was sure that there must have been rock salt and cayenne pepper in that mix. This is the time when you start to think that the French people might have a great idea with that “bidet” thing!   …………….  Actually I was considering laying in the yard and just hosing myself off 😮
     Finally, after several hours you are done…well pretty much. DO NOT.. think at this point, that it would be OK to pass some gas … I didn’t try it and wasn’t about to,  even into day number two! 
     Those wonderful meals you had earlier in the day are long gone. You are not hungry, you are tired, sleepy and terrified to allow yourself to sleep …. Just in case! Sleep does eventually overtake you, but it is not the restful sleep that comes from a tired body and a full tummy.
     My procedure was not scheduled until late in the afternoon of the second day. That is a very long time to go without eating. I did think of people who are starving and felt a little guilty for being such a wimp.  I was, however, looking forward to a meal once we were done.
     The worst part of the procedure was the IV stick and that didn’t even hurt. The folks who did the job were polite, professional and almost fun to be around. I asked the doctor for a signed affidavit that said my head was not up there. We agreed, after all, that she would know me inside and out.
     I woke up a short time later. I felt nothing, except hungar. I was a little woozy, but felt fine. Then the recovery room nurse came by and said “They use a little air to inflate your colon so as to take pictures. You’ll need to pass some of it.”  She said it so matter of factly that I almost wanted to do it just to please her.
     Now, you spend a great deal of your adult life holding gas in so as not to offend people. I was not comfortable just letting it rip … I mean Jeeze!  About this time I realized that the ” little air” … compares to …”you might feel a little pinch.” I think they over inflated me 😮
     Luckily, I was still in and out of sleep from the anesthesia, as were the other inhabitants of the recovery room. I apparently was having no problem deflating, because I heard that nice nurse tell my wife.. and ten others walking nearby that I was passing a lot of gas …. I pretended to sleep, while the hurricane in my bowels dissipated.
     Once my stomach returned to a more normal size, I woke smiling. I asked that nice lady for something to drink and a little to eat. She brought me one of the nicest tasting muffins I have ever eaten…bran I am sure!
     The doctor talked with us, told me I had a complete clean bill of health. There were no polyps or anything to be concerned with. There is no family history, so I don’t have to repeat this for ten years… I’m hoping by then, that  my bowels with have returned to normal and I might even like the taste of lemonade.
     Okay, now that I have made you laugh at an embarrassing topic, get serious for a minute. Ask yourself if it’s time to get yourself tested. Don’t put it off for another day…make your appointment ….. and call your mother!

The Nurse and the Quilt
October 28, 2011, 9:57 am
Filed under: October 2011

October 28, 2011

     I have done a few crazy things in my life and last Tuesday I did another. A man told me once never tattoo a gal’s name on your body. No names for me! Do you think a nurse wrapped in a quilt will make anyone think of Connie?  ……….. Well, I do 😮
     We had a BIG frost last night. Everything was covered in it. The grass was crunchy and the cars were encased in it. I am sure that is the end of the growing season…. because it even frosted in Cleveland and that is where the weatherman is located….. NOW its official  😮
     We have been working getting the old horse barn renovated. The boys have been knocking out the old stalls and helping with the clean-up. It is almost done and not a bit too soon. The snow will soon be blasting us and I want all my equipment inside. The horses will benefit too with a smaller, snug barn.
     The barn where the horses will be has a copula on top. It draws fresh air at all times. The barn stays warm and odor free as the foul air vents up and away. The best part is that the barn stays dry because the horse’s breath moisture is exhausted as well. A barn too tight is stinky, damp and just plain yucky!
     I installed ventilators on the hog barn a few years ago. It works pretty well too. That barn also stays warm and free from odor much to the delight of the pigs. The baby ones benefit most because their little noses are closest to the ground. The ammonia and other odors are all but non-existent. This makes for a much healthier environment for all the inhabitants.
     Things are good here at Riceland Meadows. The crops continue to ripen, many projects are being completed. My wife laughed at my new tattoo and will still let me continue to live here… but… know that it was quite a surprise!

An Imposter Among Us
October 25, 2011, 9:15 pm
Filed under: October 2011
See the deer?

October 25, 2011

     The other day I was out taking pictures and I snapped this one of the sheep. If you look real close, right over the white ewe in the foreground, there is a deer behind her, only its head is visible.                                              
     I guess he is camouflaged, hiding among the sheep. The sheep didn’t seem to mind. It was almost as if they didn’t know it was there. I think they call that hiding in plain sight. It is a ploy used by some criminals… I am not sure what the deer had in mind, but the potlicker stole my heart 😮
     I have a friend who had some testing done. The doctor gave him the unpleasant results today. He has a long road in front of himself as there is cancer living in his body. I guess it too was hiding in plain sight. I know he can beat it. He has a positive attitude, a great wife and a stable full of good broke draft horses. That is a winning combination if there ever was one!
     I will be in my friend’s corner. I am a bit too far away to help with chores, but I will console him, lift his spirits when I can and be here for him just to listen. He is a tough guy who is in great shape. I refuse to think sad thoughts, I know he can hunker down and beat the doggone thing.
     My youngest son came today and worked here on the farm. He made some real progress on my list. I had to work away from the farm, but he worked liked two men. I am thankful and proud of him. He has had three older brothers to watch work and by golly he is as hard-working as them. I am proud of all my sons.
     The weatherman says that we will get some more rain tomorrow, followed by some wet snow on Thursday. I guess we will get “squaw winter” out-of-the-way so we can have some “Indian summer”. I am looking forward to a few more nice days as we prepare for the cold and snow that will soon cover us.
     The deer may hide with the sheep and a disease may hide in a man, but time and the seasons march boldly forward. The best way to tackle any of it is head up and head on. The deer with have to face his kind and the fighting that occurs during breeding season. The man will fight as his body heals and all of us will fight the ice and snow of a northeast Ohio winter.
     The only things hidden in plain sight will be all the things that I didn’t get put away before the snow covered it all up. Those things , just like a child’s toy on the floor in the dark … will find a way to remind us to quit fooling around and get busy!

Are you picking on me?
October 24, 2011, 10:29 pm
Filed under: October 2011
Ears with the ends picked by birds

October 24, 2011

     If you click on the picture above, you will see the damage done to the end of a few ears of the drying corn. The birds feast on the corn that grew out of the husk. The large ears push their tips out past the end of the husk in response to a last minute flush of rain at the end of the growing season.
     I guess I should be upset that the birds are eating some of my corn. Maybe I should kick the ground and stomp my hat because I will lose a few ears to the wildlife. I will tell you that it isn’t going to happen. I plant enough to lose a few ears. I plan to leave some in the field every year to feed the wild critters.
     Some may think I am wasteful, but I think that I am being humane. I am leaving a little for the deer who also feed us. The raccoons will also benefit, but they too are trapped to keep their population in check. The wild turkey enjoy eating much of the winter on a few plants we leave. They also grace our table once in a while.
     This farm provides for us. I like to keep it all in balance as much as I can. Giving a little back just seems like the right thing to do. My livestock will also glean the fields for feed. The animals help clean up after harvest and eat seeds that would become a nuisance in the next crop. They also fertilize as they graze…paying me back. It is just part of the cycle of life.
     When I was a young kid, I was picked on from time to time. I guess now it might be called bullying, but we thought it was part of growing up. I know that I got some thick skin from the name calling and what have you, but I turned out okay. Looking back, I hope that anyone I teased as a kid, has forgiven me. Life is too short for such nonsense… but children don’t see that far ahead.
     I will continue to leave a row or two for the animals. I will spread manure on the coldest, snowy days. Just a load or two in fields where no danger of run-off exists The birds dine on whatever is in that manure. I can’t see much of anything in that composted black gold, but they eat with gusto!
     I will also continue to teach my grandchildren, like my children, not to pick on other kids. I will help them appreciate the simple things in life.  I hope to make them stewards of our farm, our community and our planet. As for the corn … I hope to teach them to enjoy…… picking it 😮

October 23, 2011, 3:41 pm
Filed under: October 2011
End of the growing season 2011

October  23, 2011

     The clouds cleared out-of-the-way enough for us to get our first frost of the season. That is the end of the growing season for this year. What a season it has been. You can see the extent of my corn harvest so far. Usually at this time corn shocks would be standing in neat rows around the outside of the field. This year, however, the mud keeps man and machine at bay.
     The corn looks very good. It is drying down nicely with big, full ears. I am impressed with the late planted crop. I almost didn’t plant, but wow I dodged a bullet this year. Good growing conditions, plenty of moisture and a late frost has made my crop a success. I won’t gamble every year, but this year it has paid off so far.
     The new strawberry bed looks good. The little plants have rooted well. I will apply some compost to them next week and give them a boost while putting them to bed for winter. I am very glad that the grass should stop growing for this year. The pastures look great and our lawn looks like a pasture …. almost 😮
     Our weather continues to be unsettled, with rain forecasted for most of next week. Like the rest of the farming community in our area, I will work around the rain drops and wait to get the harvest in. Luckily for me … I have other stuff to do to keep me busy!

What’s Up
October 22, 2011, 7:12 am
Filed under: October 2011
King watching television

October 22, 2011

     King has discovered the TV. I think he thinks the people should come out and pet him. He watches it close, especially anything with an animal on it. He looks like a professor to me.
     New things make many people uncomfortable. I am among those people. I don’t like change too much, but our world is full of it. The changes come so fast that I can barely keep up. My phone still flips open and text to me is the print in a book …. WTF 😮
     I have a struggle using all the gadgets that are in the TV remote. I never did learn to set a VCR to tape a show or movie. Looks like that was a good thing because by the time I would have gotten  it all learned…VCR’s went the way of 8-track tapes!
     How about cursive handwriting? I understand that it too may become a thing of the past. I was never very good at it and have printed most of my adult life. I do remember some people having beautiful writing skills. Their notes looked like something from a King or Queen. Mine often looked liked something awful…especially when writing with an ink pen.
     What’s up with all the technology? I am so far behind. I just got used to head phones and the world is moving on to the next generation of “I-Phone”  What the heck is “4-G” anyway?      And by the way…. I thought a Droid, was the trash can looking guy named r2d2 from Star Wars!
     I am ready to let most of this new stuff pass me by. I do like the internet, MP3 players and rubber tires on my wagon. I like the synthetic harness that has taken the place of leather. It is easy to clean, looks nice and is much lighter.
     Maybe I am more advanced that I thought. I do work horses, but have adapted several progressive pieces of farm equipment to make up for lost time. I guess that is the whole driver in technology anyway…. TIME. Where does it go? We can talk on the phone while doing just about anything else. We can speed across town in automobiles. We can research anything on the internet saving us hours of precious time… BUT, where does the time go?
     I saw a lady yesterday that I haven’t seen in quite a while. She made an incredible difference in my life many years ago. She found in me, a person no one else could see. She inspired a spark in me that burns brightly today. She could see beyond my farm boy roots and into the future, knowing that I would someday inspire others. I am forever in her debt.
     She was my high school English teacher, who taught me to write. She helped me find myself and gave me the ability to put into words my thoughts and feelings…with a plain old pencil and paper. She graded hard. She hated commas, but I still use them to excess 😮 
     So I write. I shun technology. I work draft horses and farm the old ways of my grandparents. I don’t text, tweet or Facebook. I do enjoy a good book and friendly conversation. I may learn some day to embrace change, but I doubt it.
     What’s up …………  you ask?       Too dang much if you ask me!

Giving the Raspberries
October 20, 2011, 1:52 pm
Filed under: October 2011

October 20, 2011

     King got another puppy shot today. He is growing well. He now weighs 54 pounds. He grew 15 pounds in just a month. He continues to be a well-mannered dog and good companion to yours truly. He is just playing with Connie, giving her the raspberries, as she took his picture.
     The clouds abound today and sprinkles come and go. The weatherman says we broke the all time record for rainfall in one year….. and we still have over nine weeks of this year to go 😮
     Outside the wind is steady and cold. The dampness chills a man to the bone in a short time. I usually have no trouble knowing how to dress, but these damp, windy fall days test a guy’s knowledge! If I put too many layers on, I’m hot, too few and I’m cold… I guess that is the idea of the layers. Now, if I can just remember to bring them all back in, after I take them off.
     The horses worked good today. The cool weather makes them feel good. There are no flies to swat at or be bitten by. The sun is warm but not relentless and the only sweat that can be seen, is just under the harness. I guess we are all more comfortable working in the cooler temperatures.
     Next year’s strawberries have been planted in the raised beds. I am hoping to get a raspberry bed made, amended and planted yet this fall. The rainy weather seems to have other plans. I guess it can be said that the weather is giving me ………….. “The Raspberries!”          😮

Sun in the Fall
October 18, 2011, 10:51 pm
Filed under: October 2011
Looking northwest

October 18, 2011

     The sun was shining today. We are in between two storm fronts. The rain will move in tonight, but it is good to see the sun. Our summer seemed short due to the rainy spring and rainy late summer. The poor folks in Texas could use a bit of our rain…trust me, we don’t mean to be hogging it all 😮
     We moved animals around to different paddocks today. The goats moved to a nice pasture that has a few extra weeds that need eaten. They were moving right along tonight clipping the noxious offenders as if they were candy from a dish. The little steer in with them munched the white clover. I could almost see him smile as he ate his fill.
     The horses soaked up the sun on their black coats. They know that soon the warm days will give way to the cold and snow of winter. I guess we should all get out and soak up some of the warmth. The wet dreary days will soon return with the dampness that makes baby pigs snuggle in straw and men hunger for a bowl of homemade vegetable soup.
     The harvest waits while the fields try to dry out. The rains just don’t want to recede. The mud is everywhere and ponds and creeks are still full. The weatherman keeps sending us rain, but the sun in the fall, warms a man from the outside in…be patient…all will be well soon.

You guys cold?
October 17, 2011, 9:21 pm
Filed under: October 2011
Piggies looking for a blanket

October 17, 2011

     All this recent wet weather has been rough, but now a cold front has moved in…making us wimps want a blanket 😮 The damp cold has me wearing a hooded sweatshirt for half of the day. The piglets burrow down in the warm straw and cuddle up…and its not even winter yet!
     The gas fireplace feels good for a few hours each night. We run it to take off the chill and to look at the pretty blue flames. It seems funny that only last week it was 80 degrees and this morning it was 42 degrees F. It was a normal October day, but dang where did summer go?
     I worked on some coffee table plans for a couple of pasture sheds for the sheep. They are hardy, but the cold rain, they do not like. The icy freezing rain of late November and December, they detest … just like the rest of us. I am planning to add a couple more shelters to pastures that don’t have any. Usually we don’t use those pastures in winter, but the rains have made for some very nice stock piled grass for the sheep to graze upon this winter.
     I have a material list and thankfully most of the materials needed. I have some willing help, although they don’t know it yet, now all we need is a few dry days. I guess we could work in the rain, but we have been doing that so much this fall we are getting webs between our toes 😮
     I delivered some breeding sheep stock today. The new farmer was pleased, his wife seemed happy and his children are probably still talking about the new additions to their farm. It was a nice trip…farm animals and children belong together.
     I managed to talk with several friends and family members in the last few days. Its funny almost every one of them said … “You guys cold?”  I can’t help but think of the snuggled down little piglets and I just smile … winter is coming.