Friday, May 29, 2015

There's a new sheriff in town

We have two cats at the farm, our old gal, Lady Porky, spent the winter in Leo's shop, provided with a warm bed, food and heated water dish in return for mouse control. She fell down on the job.

I was working in the shop one day and heard some rustling and these little buggers were all over the place. I stood two feet away and filmed them robbing from the cat bowl.

I moved the Lady Porky to the porch of the old house and installed a new sheriff...

....Morris in turn is deputizing Murphy and Mollie.

"Okay, girls, this is how it's going to play out...."

I know, I know, they look cute but they create havoc wherever they choose to live and multiply. We fought mice in the house this winter, between the trapping and Clyde, we kept them down but I still hear skittering in the ceiling.

Zoe was no more help than the Lady Porky, all she wanted to do was play with them and inevitably they would get away.

I'm getting ruthless in my old age but there is no place for vermin in my life.

The next on my list are rabbits, I used to love those cute little bunnies until they foraged on my plants this winter....but that is another blog for another day.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Remembering good fishing buddies on Memorial Day

This year on Memorial Day, Bruce and I went to the Oak Hill Cemetery for their services, we'd heard how impressive they are and we were not disappointed. There were 250 flags that volunteers put up for the weekend, they have over 650 flags that are dedicated so they rotate them every year. Each flag has a dog tag with the name of the person it represents and this year there were 11 (I think) new flags dedicated to veterans no longer with us.

It takes a lot of volunteers to put this on, the Cherokee High School band played several numbers.

The Boy Scouts explained the symbolism of folding the flag, what each fold stood for.

The younger cub scouts with their leaders placed a wreath .... did the Girl Scouts.

We found out at the cemetery that a flag was being dedicated for Gary Doherty, Bruce made a few trips to Canada fishing with him and the Luetkeman boys and always had a great time. His wife, Jean, daughter Lisa with her husband, Jeff and children, Amber and Brady followed the flag down the path. 

This was one of the trips, Don on the left, Dale on the right with Bruce in the middle, showing off their catch. Don and Dale both lost their fights with leukemia and cancer respectively and were gone much too soon. 

I knew I had more pictures of all the guys on one of the Boat Farm trips to Lak Seul fishing resort and have been searching frantically, Bingo!



....and Gary. Unlike the other two, Gary died suddenly while fishing in Canada, a great shock to his family and friends.

I think we would all like to go while doing something we love, but Gary seemed way to young at the age of 71, not yet, not yet...

I had to add this picture of Don and Bruce, he loved those fishing trips, now his buddies are fishing in heaven.

This is a video montage that I made up of the day, I hope you enjoy it.

 This Memorial Day weekend in Chicago and Baltimore was marred by violence and shootings leaving 21 dead and 79 wounded, including a 4 yr old girl.

Our young people were taking the time out of their weekend to help put up the flags and pay tribute to those who protected our country and are no longer with us.

They make us proud.

God Bless America!

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Graduation parties, cows and ducks

Last weekend was busy with graduation parties and family outings, traveling from home to Paullina to the tiny burg of Buck Grove and back to Marcus over two days. Lots of good food, fellowship and laughs, congratulating the graduates and wishing them the best in their future plans.

Bruce's sister, Carol, came home for a few days and spent Tuesday afternoon with us, walking the dogs at the pond and smelling the lovely cow smells at the home place. Bruce and Carol looking for fish off the dock with Murphy.

"I love my big brother, even though he was kind of ornery to me when I was little."

"I sit at my Master's feet......"

"I love Bruce, more."
A goose family with their babies.

Our newest baby at the farm, my Hereford, Fancy, delivered this adorable little girl.

It seems it was only yesterday when she was a baby herself.

This is why cows don't carry hankies......

...well, this and the fact that they don't have any pockets.

We were standing at a gate watching these cows and they watched us back.

"What? Do you expect us to break out into song and dance?"
But the biggest surprise and mystery of the day was when Carol and I went in the old house to look around and found a dead wood duck in the kitchen! I just couldn't take a picture of the deceased bird so found this one on the internet.

I was convinced that it was a stuffed bird from out in the pool room but Carol, the nurse that she is, bravely poked it with a hanger and said it was not stuffed. We went to find Bruce, who laughed when we told him, I'm not sure he believed us. But there was the evidence on the kitchen floor, ignoring Carol's hanger, Bruce wasn't squeamish about picking up the dead bird and examining him. "Yep, it is a wood duck and it is dead."
Now the questions...
How did it get in the house?
WHY did it get in the house?
If I had only checked a few days earlier, could it have been saved?

They are so beautiful, it's a darned shame.

This is one for the record books, how many people have a wood duck expire in their house? Come home again soon, Carol, for more adventures.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Fishing, Morels and Broody Poop

Two years of not enough rain left our farm ponds low and that killed all our fish over the winters. Last summer with all the rain we had, Bruce restocked two with baby fish from Beemer Fisheries at Bedford, IA. We were happy to go into winter with all the ponds full and we have had abundant rain this year.

Rosanne, Peter and Kaiza were up a week ago and Rosanne was telling Bruce about the bass and crappie that Carri and Kaiza were catching in their pond so Bruce asked if he could catch some to bring home to stock another pond here, Rosanne said by all means! Catch away!

Tuesday she called and said the morel mushrooms were out and that they had never been so prolific, it's been years since I've had a morel and my mouth was watering. Friday morning Bruce and I loaded a stock tank in the back of the pickup with a lid, fishing gear, coats and camera and headed south to Smithland.

Rosanne had dinner ready, chicken enchiladas, salad and rhubarb crunch for dessert, we wasted no time in eating and were soon bumping down the road to their pond. It's long and narrow, widening out at the highway and it's about 20 feet down an obstacle strewn path to the canoe Bruce and Kaiza would be fishing out of.

Rosanne and Bruce, with his ginormous tackle box lead the way....

...followed by fisherwoman, Kaiza. I'm bringing up the rear, recording the action with my camera and trying not to fall on my face.

A confab at the canoe...

....catching Bruce in an awkward moment...

.....Rosanne pushing them off....

"......Stroke, stroke, stroke...."

With Bruce and Kaiza in the water, Rosanne handed me a mesh potato sack and we set off in the search for the elusive morel, a delicacy that is only available for a few short weeks and commands prices from $15 - $30 a pound. It's been 22 years since I have gone mushroom hunting but I haven't lost my touch, I soon spotted this baby trying to blend in with the surrounding flora and fauna.

Mushroom hunting, as in beekeeping, is not for sissies, we were climbing up and down the steep bank, hanging onto small trees to keep from tumbling down into the pond and swim with the fishies, and trying to avoid the prolific poison ivy that is everywhere. 

Then I heard Rosanne shout, "I found an orchid!!"

This is a tiny plant growing in the side of the bank, not quite open yet and is called a showy orchid. When Rosanne first found it years ago, she couldn't identify it but finally found a professor who told her what it was and that hers was the first sighting in the state of IA, WOW!

After duly admiring the tiny plant, we went back to our hunt, each finding a few mushrooms but it was a hard fought battle. Soon Bruce and Kaiza paddled up with a stringer of fish for us to transfer into the tank in the pickup and that was no easy job.

Rosanne made her way down the bank with a tow rope, hooked the bucket handle and hauled the fish out of the canoe, up the bank where I grabbed it and dumped them in the tank. One of the crappies was laying on it's side so we drove up to the house and put a pump in the water to circulate and add oxygen while we waited for the Bruce and Kaiza to catch another load.

Rosanne also has a broody hen, Aussie, so she bought her some guinea and chicken chicks to mother. Aussie wasn't quite sure she was ready for such a brood but after a day of forced captivity with the family, she decided they were okay.

There is nothing more fun than a mother hen with chicks and we were drawn to the 'outhouse coop' just watching as she fluffed her feathers and fussed, teaching them where to find the tastiest morsels in the pan of food and to drink oh so daintily out of the waterer.

But there is a dark side that no one tells you about, Broody Poop! The hen only gets off the nest once a day to eat and poop and things build up. I've only dealt with my bantam hen but I always knew when she had dropped her load.

Rosanne and I were hanging over the dutch door of the coop when Aussie got up from where she was sitting, waddled over to us, squatted down and deposited a HUGE, the size of a double yolker egg, smelly, steaming pile of broody poop! We both heard her sign of relief and then the smell hit!!! It would have cleared a city block, police could use it for riot control. Our eyes were watering but Rosanne bravely scooped up the offending pile and deposited it outside the coop where I marveled over it's size. Since I'm too polite to show an actual picture, I did my best to draw one.

It was getting on in the afternoon and I decided it was time for us to head home so Rosanne and I drove the pickup back down the hill where Bruce and Kaiza had the canoe with a few more fish, one was a huge bass that hardly fit in the bucket. We hope she is a big mama full of eggs. Besides the fish, Rosanne sent us home with leftovers for dinner today, filled the rest of the pickup with plants and gave me a sack of mushroom to enjoy.

Back at home we drove to the first pond, lifted the lid and saw with relief that they all weathered the trip well, Bruce had to dump some water out just to find them.

The first crappie and bass.....

....and then the Big Guy, or mama we hope and another crappie.

I transferred them to the pond and watched them all swim away, looking great. It was a very successful day, Bruce has been chomping at the bit to fish, Minnesota is still two weeks away and I got some mushrooms!!!

To top it off, on the way home, Janet called and said the whole family, home for granddaughter, Jessie's, graduation were going to Germantown for chicken, WOO HOO!! The perfect ending to a fun filled day with no ticks or poison ivy to mar it.

Bruce was humming the song, ♫I Want to Check You for Ticks♫ on the way home, he didn't get the chance.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Gardening with chickens and toads

Last evening I was out planting in containers and in the ground, trying to get the place spruced up, I'm going to be on a garden tour in July, YIKES!! What was I thinking????

Anytime I have a shovel, I collect an audience, they know that the shovel magically turns up worms, tasty worms, YUM!!

Two hens appear....

....then red spies them and wants to join in the worm fest.

Three become four, it's getting pretty crowded there when you put me in the mix...

.....I finally gave up and went someplace else till they were done with their excavation work.

In front of the scratch pen is an old chicken feeder on legs that I was going to plant to cockscomb...

Get it? Got it? Good!!

I was raking out the top soil from last year to replace it with new and I wasn't being very gentle. I was pulling what I thought was a tuft of dog hair wedged in the side.


It wasn't dog hair!!

It was a tree frog who had buried himself in the planter to ride out the winter and was very pale!

This is what he will look like this summer on a green plant...

....but if you find one on a fence or tree they are brownish, kind of like a chameleon?

I gently reburied him in the planter and put all the cockscomb in around him to continue his nap. It reminded me of the time when I lived at Whiting and Rosanne came visiting. She was walking around the yard and then came to get me, took me out by the propane barrel, pointed down and said, "Look." It took a minute but then I saw a toad face in the dirt, I said, "Who did you ever see it?" She said, "He blinked!"

I was busy in the MacGregor yard, cleaning out a plant that wants to take over, FYI, when someone wants to give you a plant and says, "It does real good," RUN, RUN FOR YOUR LIFE!!! I was digging and pulling when a vehicle drove in and a guy gets out and says, "Hi, Julie." My mind went blank, did I know him? Then I saw the Liberty township map out of the platt book clutched in his hand and thought, "AH HA!" An Insurance Salesman! I was right.

But I have to give him credit for not missing a beat as he stood and talked with two big dog noses stuck in his crotch!

Oh the indignities of a traveling salesman. 

Monday, May 11, 2015

This post is for you, Carol!!

Hey C.G., I've spent a lot of time at the pond with the dogs and every time I'm there, I think of how much you love it. So this post is for you.

Remember when you were here two winters ago, Janet, you and I had a walk at the pond?

It must have been late winter/early spring because we already had some hardy geese tromping around.

This is such a familiar sound, if this doesn't bring you running home, what will??

If you ask the dogs what is the best part of their day, it's always, "Going to the Pond!"

I do not know who planted these daffodils but each spring a row of them come up along side the road leading to the picnic area.

My dogs can climb trees!!

No snow or ice here, just white caps and barn swallows diving for insects.

The road leading to the first cabin, Bruce is having to take out a bunch of dead pines that Leo planted too close together.

There is always adventures at the pond.

We stumbled onto a nest of goose eggs, the next time we looked a goose was sitting.

This was the first nest I saw and one day all there was, were feathers.

In the next pond was the mother with seven adorable babies and a protective and proud father.

We were there late one night, the sun was going down over the water.

And to get your juices flowing, just smell the pork burgers grilling by your big brother, smothered with grilled onions. I think Mark has his plate full.

This was taken 8/17/2011.

Even if we don't squeeze a picnic in while you are here, I hope you at least get a walk in, see you soon!!