Saturday, January 30, 2016

The week in review

Yesterday when Bruce and I stopped to see a friend in the nursing home, she said, "What have you guys been doing?" To that we pretty much had to reply, "Not much!" Well, except for cleaning yards, hauling manure, feeding animals, splitting wood, hauling out ashes, cursing rabbits (they are devouring everything in sight), walking on the treadclimber, sweating bullets, cursing the contraption, weighing myself, cursing the scale, other than that, not much.

Yesterday I decided I needed to check on the bees to make my decision whether to restock the empty hive. It was a lovely winter day, we are getting our January thaw. I fired up the Gator and strapped the dogs in their camo vests.

Murphy loves hers....

....Mollie not so much. I put her's on first and when Murphy saw us, she jumped in the Gator, "Put mine on, put mine on!!"

I knew something had been messing with the hive, the last time I was there two of the wine corks were pulled out that block the extra entrance holes and the hardware cloth wire covering the one entrance hole to discourage mice from getting inside. I took along the industrial staple gun and glad I did. I was quite surprised when I pulled away the hay bales blocking the south side to find a possum had taken up residence and made a mess. He pulled the corks back out, completely tore off the wire and was busy shredding the 2 layers of tar paper that covers the hive, trying to get inside.

The bastard!

I called Mollie and she quickly dispatched him and if you think that is cruel and inhumane, possums can carry a parasite that infects horses with EPM, Equine Protozoal Myeloencephalitis, a serious disease that eventually killed my big, beautiful, Phantom, on the left.

Needless to say, possums are not welcome around here. 

I read on my bee forum to use a stethoscope to listen inside the hive for activity without opening it. Years ago, Janet gave me one to check blood pressure and the only thing I ever used it for was when Lacey coliced and I listened to her belly for 'gut sounds.' If you don't hear anything moving, you got big trouble.

I searched for my stethoscope under the bathroom sink, it wasn't there. I searched my shoe bag that hangs on the basement door that is a catch all, it wasn't there. In desperation, I cleaned off the back table, it wasn't there. Then the lightbulb came on and I searched the tack room, found it!

Dodging the possum poop, he really made a mess under the hive, I put the diaphragm to the entrance hole and was rewarded with buzzing, lots and lots of buzzing, it made my day! I set to work with the staple gun, luckily I left a piece of tar paper over there and was able to shut it up again until I ran out of staples, dang it.

On the way home we were treated to a beautiful sunset, I have my big honking lens on, the bins and the tower are in Cleghorn.

Today it was still mild, so the dogs and I went back to the pond to make sure the possum didn't have a family. I reloaded the staple gun to finish my job and then peeked under the lid where the sugar bricks are. There were bees all over the sugar, I did my happy dance and got the heck out of there before any came out to sting me. 

That made my decision whether 'to bee or not to bee', I'm going to bee, in fact I bee'd this morning when I sent a check off to my bee guy to reserve a package.

Maybe someday I will actually get some honey.

A girl can hope.

Friday, January 22, 2016

To Bee or not To Bee, that is the beekeepers question.

I became an accidental beekeeper when a young man abandoned two bee hives that he had put at the pond 3 years earlier. Multiple phone calls to his home went unanswered so one day I decided I now owned two bee hives. My 'Honey Man, Dan' inspected the hives and found one was dead but the other alive and stinging. That fall Dan helped me extract 7 1/2 gallons of honey and I was on a honey high! I passed out honey filled jars right and left, after all, the bees were in their hive replenishing it, right?

Wrong, when spring came around, I found a dead hive, AAUUGGGHHHH!!! What made me the most sad, was that I think they starved to death, I did not leave them enough honey stores to make it over the winter. But Dan helped me restock the hive and the bees were busy all summer making honey, right?

Wrong, the bees swarmed, took their queen and left the hive en-mass with only a few fat lazy drones to hold down the fort. Boy, this bee keeping isn't as easy as I thought! I did a blog post on 
  • Redneck honey extracting. in July 2013 if you wish to refresh your memory. Then I did a lot of thinking about raising bees. Bruce's 2nd cousin, Todd, was really interested in top bar bee hives and sent me some information.

Todd and Mollie 

So two years ago, Rosanne, Sue and I built some top bar bee hives...

....two for me, one for Rosanne and a trap hive for Sue. (So far we haven't trapped any bees!)

Bruce and I set up the hives at the pond and I installed two packages of bees......

.....I was thrilled to see my bees building their free form comb!

With 14 acres of trees, bushes and plants, it should have been Utopia, but it didn't seem to be. By fall a check of the hives showed few honey stores for winter, Bruce and I brought them home and I tried feeding them fondant to get them through the winter, it did not work, by mid winter I had two dead hives.

I was not going to be deterred that easy, I found another supplier and last May picked up two packages of bees in Sioux City and again, installed them in the hives. They took off going great guns, they had a leg up on the previous hives because the comb was already built, all they had to do was lay eggs and fill the honey stores.

They did well all summer but by fall I could see that one hive was failing and the other did not have a lot of honey stores so I started feeding sugar water. I lost one hive but hoped to save the other one so when it was too cold for sugar water, I made sugar bricks and installed them inside the hive and on top of the bars.

I can only open the hive for inspection when it's 40 or above and one day last week it reached the magic temperature. I took another pan of sugar bricks, tentatively pushed away the hay bales, swept the snow away and raised the lid. I was pleased to see some live bees feeding on the remaining sugar bricks. I quickly laid down some more newspaper but not before one cheeky bee flew out and stung me in the neck. I hated it, it hurt her a lot more than me, she would die. I scraped out the pan of sugar and closed everything back up, replacing the hay bales. 

I won't know until spring whether I was successful or not. I just received an email from my 'bee guy' that he is taking orders for 2016 bees packages. He said there is a bee shortage and that he is getting 30% less this year so if we are interested, we need to get our orders and down payment in now.

I'm in a quandary, to Bee or not to Bee?

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

They all have their own unique personality..

Of course I'm talking about our cats and I've divided them into different categories, the Good, the Bad, the Infirmed, the Challenged and the Naughty.

The Good is Bruiser LaRue..

He arrived at the farm, still inside his very pregnant mother, she was tame so I knew someone had dumped her off to rid themselves of the responsibility. Five days later she came up to eat and her belly was gone, she ended up leading me to them, five tiny babies in the old hog house. I knew if I left them there, a tom cat would most likely kill them.


I took her and the kittens home and set up a nest box in the garden shed, she and the kittens were safe from marauding toms and anything else that might do them harm. Three of the kittens did not survive, two died in the garden shed and one was tragically run over in the driveway. My niece, Carri chose Appleton and that left Bruiser to re-home. He was a very shy kitten, wouldn't play, cringed when I picked him up so I set about to socialize him. Everyday I cuddled and played with Bruiser and one day when I came home, he ran to me, threw himself on the ground and rolled on his back for me to tickle his belly. That was the day I knew he already had his forever home, how could I give him away?

He's a big, fluffy teddy bear who gets along with everyone, each morning I see him walking side by side with one or two dogs and he is always ready for a cuddle by me when I'm feeding the horses. But don't mess with him, he has been known to body slam a dissenter.

The Bad is Stinky, a bully who terrorizes the other cats, except Bruiser, he has been on the receiving end of his wrath. 

My Mom took Stinky in when she was living in Whiting but when he pitched onto her cat, she banished him to the basement. I didn't think that was any life for a cat so brought him home and neutered him, thinking farm life would be good for him. Perhaps he did not take the neutering in stride?

It didn't take long to see that he has a dark side, Stinky can be such a lover one minute and turn around and attack one of the cats the next.The dogs are law around here and have carte blanche to break up cat fights and they do so with gusto, rattling him between their front legs,  getting in a bite or two, Stinky pays the price but that doesn't stop him. After the chase is over, all is forgiven and they lie down together - until next time.

The Infirmed is Clyde, life started out hard when he was abandoned by his mother, had his leg broke by his exuberant sister, Bonnie and accidentally poisoned by me, with the vet's help. 

Despite this rough start, he has grown up a happy cat, he just doesn't know he's handicapped. He can climb into the cat tower, it just takes him longer and he might lose his balance and fall out before he reaches the top. But he perseveres and claims the King of the Mountain prize.

Clyde walks with the the gait of a drunken sailor and has a lot of 'falling dreams' while sleeping on the couch that come to fruition when he then launches himself onto the floor out of a sound sleep. His bobble head becomes more pronounced when he is under stress and my fluffy robe sends him into paroxysms of ecstasy when he climbs on my lap, stares into my eyes and kneads it slowly and deliberately, "Are you my Mum?"  

The Challenged is the Ghost, who was born in a cornfield to her feral mother. I thought she was just too pretty to leave in the wild and trapped her but her feral roots ran deep. Even though she grew up in the house, she has never been as ease around anyone but me and lived most of her life upstairs in our bedroom, dashing downstairs to eat and use the litter box. When we have company, she is never seen, that's why she's the Ghost.

Todd, a young family member, spent a summer with us several years ago and Ghost grudgingly had to accepted him, but she made it clear the sooner he left, the better off we would all be. He set up his computer in the radio room and everyday Ghost ran downstairs, into the room, stopped, looked at Todd and continued on her way to the food. On her way back upstairs, she'd stop, look at Todd as though to say, "Are you STILL here??" then run upstairs. 

"I may have to accept him but I don't have to like him!"

Ghost is really old, I'm guessing 16 or 17 and suffers from near blindness from hypertension. I wasn't sure what her future would hold but found out that cats are quite resilient - just don't move the furniture around! Ghost is like these Roomba automatic vacuum cleaners, when they bump into a wall or object, they reverse course. Everyone treads lightly when the Ghost is on the move, trying not to startle her or get in the way. It's almost like the Secret Service, "Head's up, 12 o'clock, the Ghost is heading north, move, move, move!"

As cute as Zoe is, she gets the moniker of The Naughty, she is the youngest and probably a bit spoiled, ya think?

She has always terrorized the Ghost, lying in wait on the computer chair, hiding around a hidden corner, crouching in the shadow of a stair step, attacking the Ghost when she least suspects it. When I hear a kerfuffle break out, my first response it to yell, then hunt down the perpetrator. Zoe is fast but she sometimes doesn't choose her hiding place well. I found her on the back of the toilet tank, behind Bruce's towel hanging from the wall rack, she was well hidden but her tail gave her away, she forgot to pull it up.

The Ghost is spending the winter downstairs so Zoe doesn't get too many licks in on her because I'm always watching. She has turned to tormenting Clyde but since they are buds, she is a bit more devious. Zoe tears through the house, working off excess energy and grazes him or jumps over him, working Clyde into a frazzle and causing his palsy to kick into high gear.

I've never had a cat that is so jealous of me, if Clyde is in my lap, she 'innocently' slides in beside him, knowing full well that will tick him off and he leaves. If I call to Ghost come up, Zoe appears out of nowhere and stakes her claim in my lap, just because she can.

After all, she is the cutest kitten in the world.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Am I losing my mind?

I've been going through packets of pictures, lots of laughs, some sad thoughts of those who are no longer with us and total bafflement - Who Are These People????

I have no idea!

Have you ever had this happen?

Was I (upper left with turquoise sweater) a photo bomber?

Did I stumble in off the street after a few too many wine coolers?

Is it a bizarro class reunion?

Seriously, who are these people???

Sunday, January 10, 2016

What to do on a frigid winter day....

....well, we didn't have church because it was "too cold", no the church was not off the power grid, the powers that be just deemed it too cold to go to church, go figure. Bruce and I still had to battle the elements to feed and bed our animals but it was too cold......?

The dogs love cold and snow and mobbed Bruce when he came in from chores...

.....and Bruce eggs them on.


Zoe went outside and stayed for 2.7 seconds before racing back inside and stretching out in the kitchen by the wood stove.
"Ahhhh, I wonder what the poor cats are doing?"
The Vikings were playing at noon so I decided to make a good dinner, Pioneer Woman sticky, spicy, crockpot ribs and broccoli salad that was on Saturday's show and Aloha buns that is one of my pins on Pinterest board, "I just can't have too many bread recipes." It's a knockoff of Hawaiian buns, the liquid is pineapple juice instead of water or milk. YUMMY!

Sorry, Janet, but this one is for you.

(The dinner was a success, unlike the Vikings when defeat was snatched from the jaws of victory by an errant kick.)

The frigid temps makes for lots of cuddling in the coop, Larry the third and his two little hens are conserving heat.....

....while the 'outcast' has to roost alone.

But she is getting the last laugh, when temps fall below 0, I plug in the quartz heater that hangs from the ceiling, over the roost. She is sitting on the board that holds the heater, by now her little tushie is warm and toasty.

That's what we can all hope for on these cold days and nights.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Quizzing a possible president?

As farmers and investors in three ethanol plants, the production of ethanol and the Renewable Fuel Standard, otherwise known as the RFS, is very important to us. BUT - let me explain first why everyone in the US should be interested in ethanol production.
1. It replaced the carcinogen MTBE that oil companies use as an oxygenate for their fuel. (MTBE was found in water supplies in CA that necessitated the city of Santa Monica to shut down their two drinking water facilities and purchase bottled water.)  That is how they reach the minimum 87 octane in the fuel you purchase, in fact, in recent years they are reducing the octane already in their fuel to 84% and making up the difference with ethanol.
2. Ethanol is renewable, whether you are talking about corn or cellulosic, we grow the corn each year and the residue is in the fields every year that feed the cellulosic plants. With the research in seed corn, the improving varieties are also producing more corn stover so removing some from the fields is not detrimental.
3. Ethanol is a clean burning fuel, China is contemplating importing more ethanol to help clean up their air, have you seen the videos of the pollution in their cities?
4. Ethanol is helping lower the cost at the pump for everyone, this is a quote from the National Corn Growers Website on the RFS:' a 2011 study by economists at the University of Wisconsin and Iowa State University (the Center for Agricultural and Rural Development, or CARD) found that ethanol reduced U.S. wholesale gasoline prices by an average of 25 cents per gallon from 2000 to 2010. The authors found that in 2010 alone, ethanol reduced gasoline prices by 89 cents per gallon. This equates to $800 in reduced spending on gasoline for the typical American household.'

Ethanol production began over 40 years ago and innovators  persevered to make it into the competitive industry that it is today. In the early days, it did cost more to produce it than it sold for and there is a professor from Cornell, David Pimental who still spouts those 'facts' to anyone who will listen and report them. Looking into his research, he went clear back into the cost of producing the machinery it takes to farm the land! WOW! As if we would never buy another piece of machinery if there was not ethanol production!
I was an ethanol user long before I became a farm wife, driving 90 miles a day on my mail route, on roads bordered by corn fields, it just made sense to me. Why purchase fuel from countries who hate us, when we can produce our own from what we know how to grow?
Fast forward to the year 2001 when a small group of farmers, business owners and local leaders got together to brainstorm some way to raise the price of corn in our area by using it here, rather than seeing it shipped out on trucks and rail cars for someone else to profit from. Farmers know how to grow corn and for years it cost more to grow it than was received in sales and we received government payments to make up the difference. Kind of like farmer welfare and no one was happy with it. 
Little Sioux Corn Processors, L.L.C. was born and after a LOT of hurdles, fundraising began in earnest to raise enough money to build our own ethanol plant and it was a struggle. A project like this was not for the faint of heart, I can't even imagine the hours that this dedicated group put into the project, uncompensated. 
It was a very exciting day in 2003 when Bruce and our neighbor, Tim, a founding member of the discovery group and a board member, delivered the first loads of corn to be processed into ethanol.

Lots of people jumped on the ethanol tankwagon, so so speak, and building was going on in full force, there was a slight hitch in the process, the industry had to rely on Big Oil to distribute our product. Big Oil had taken notice of all the plants being built and did not like the competition, even though they needed us to add to their fuel, they only wanted to use as little as necessary.
Congress created the renewable fuel standard (RFS) program in an effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and expand the nation’s renewable fuels sector while reducing reliance on imported oil.
The RFS program was authorized under the Energy Policy Act of 2005 and expanded under the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, the amount of renewable fuel required increases each year, escalating to 36 billion gallons by 2022 when the law is set to expire. By then, the plants are expected to stand on their own feet but in the mean time it gives us investors, confidence to put our own hard earned money into these plants, knowing there is a market for that product.
Big Oil does not like the RFS, as the volume of renewable fuel required increases, the harder they fight against both renewable fuels and the RFS and you can believe they are throwing money at presidential candidates to get that done.
Iowa is ground 0 right now with the caucus' in three week so we are bombarded by TV, phone and print ads, the Hallmark Channel is ruined to me, if you watch it, you know why. I do not watch it live anymore, just recorded shows that I can skip over. We have heard over and over that Ted Cruz wanted to get rid of the RFS, not wait for it to sunset and that he was backed by Big Oil. We were challenged on Monday by a campaign caller in his camp, when I listed the reason we did not like him, to go ask him the question ourselves. We looked on his website and found he was coming to Cherokee on Tuesday afternoon so we took that challenge.
I do want to reiterate that ethanol is not the only thing we are basing our decision on, we have a lot of problems both in our country and abroad but it is very important to us. Just as our family members with young people trying to get a college education without coming out with crushing debt. Or family members struggling with low paying jobs with not much hope of that improving.
So Bruce and I dressed in our 'going to town clothes' and went to Danny's, a local restaurant, packed to the gills and found places at the back. Ted Cruz is a fine looking man! He's shorter than I thought, Steve King, our representative who we really respect, he has been such a renewable fuels champion, introduced him. We liked everything Ted said, but he didn't get specific on the RFS so I was ready when he took questions and my hand shot up so fast, it's a wonder I didn't throw my shoulder out! We had gone to see Dr. Ben Carson talk at Orange City and know they don't take too many questions. I asked him to explain his stance on the RFS. He was obviously expecting it and said all the right things about using all the available resources, be it bio-fuels, wind, solar, but the government shouldn't be picking winners and losers and he wants to get rid of ALL government subsidies. He was ready to move onto the next question but I was just as ready and I reminded him that the RFS was put into place to give confidence to investors and it has an expiration date of 2022, was he willing to just jerk the rug out from under us? I also reminded him that corn ethanol gets NO SUBSIDIES, unlike Big Oil, whose subsidies are written into law, they don't even have to go and beg for them as other bio-fuels, plus wind and solar. 
This time, Ted went into more detail, he did say he would not 'jerk the rug' out from under us, he knows it has a sunset clause but he wants to gradually wean down the RFS, ending in 2022. But he also said he would remove obstacles that the government, specifically the EPA, has thrown in front of ethanol. This year we had a huge corn crop, every elevator around had outside corn piles, but the EPA, in all their 'wisdom' lowered the amount of ethanol to be produced, thumbing their nose at the standards written into law for 2015. It didn't make any sense, we along with thousands of others wrote letters but they know best.
We'd love to see someone take the legs out from under EPA.
I was happier with this answer but we shall see how things shake out. He only took two more questions and wrapped things up, Steve King was standing across the room and pointed to me to wait for him. But before he could get to me, I was mobbed by the media! I had microphones, cell phones, cameras shoved in my face, asking my name, where did I live, did we farm? Steve went into the back room with Bruce and other guys and I talked to the media. I tried to explain ethanol and the RFS and why it is important to us, I talked until I was so dry I could have spit cotton balls. One reporter from Austin TX was the one who wouldn't leave. He obviously knew nothing about ethanol and it was enlightening to me to try to boil it down so his eyes wouldn't glaze over. Just as you, the readers, are probably doing right now.
One thing I wish I would have brought up to the reporters, lest they think Bruce and I are just looking out for our own selves, is that Little Sioux, our flagship plant returned $40 MILLION, with an 'M' to our and surrounding counties in dividends for 2014. Since start up, we have received 5 times our original investment and the plant is debt free. It is a proven fact that the money will turn over 7 times, we purchase machinery, put up buildings, buy new cars, in turn those business' do upgrades, hire  construction workers, who then stay in motels, eat in restaurants, etc.
So in a nutshell, that is why ethanol and the RFS is important to us.

Our niece, Anne, surprised me today with an email link to CNN, where they quoted me, it's not the video, it's in the story below.

Kind of exciting! If you want me to send you an autograph, mail me a self-addressed, stamped envelope!

If you would like to see an 8 minute video of our flagship plant, go to, it is very interesting and will explain the process.

I have a flat butt, maybe that is TMI but I've sat here all afternoon, working and re-working this blog, writing is hard work. Now I turn it over to Bruce to proof read before I publish it.

I want to end with a shout out to Bruce's cousin, Dick Pedersen, who I know reads my blog. I read in the Marcus News that 80 years ago, in 1936, he was the first baby born in Cherokee County, making his appearance at 3:40 AM!

Fireworks in the Pedersen household!

Way to go, Dick, many more!!

Monday, January 4, 2016

A Boy and his Faithful Dog

It takes work to keep the home fires burning and today it was time to refill the garage with wood. Mollie spied Bruce by the woodpile and made a beeline to him, anticipating a good butt scratch.

This is their routine each day, Mollie gets between his legs and he scratches...

....while she dances and wiggles, it feels so good.

Then comes the cuddle....

....and the full body hug.

And then the pup shows up!

"Hey! What about me??"

And Mollie has to be reassured, 

"You do love me best, don't you?" 

"Yes, Mollie, I do love you best."

"So beat it, Punk!"

And all is right in Mollie's world once again.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

♫My New Year's Resolution....♫ to keep up on my blog, here it is New Year's Day and I've not touched it for over a week. My excuse was that with the cold snap we are in, our computer room is C-O-L-D and I can't type with mittens on. In winters previous, we moved the big computer into the living room when it got cold in there but the weather has been so moderate this year that I didn't think about it. I decided today was the day but then I was subjected to much wailing and gnashing of his teeth as Bruce was watching the pathetic performance by the amazing Iowa Hawkeyes in the Rose Bowl. I retreated back into the kitchen where I continued watching the Hallmark marathon. 'Signed, Sealed and Delivered' where everyone lives happily ever after.

We spent a quiet Christmas Day, just the two of us, but we each managed to surprise the other with an unexpected gift under the little trees, it's a Christmas Miracle! Mine was a much coveted MMC Championship Football sweatshirt and Bruce was so sneaky about it.

He always regretted not buying sweatshirts in 2012, their first state title and he was not going to make that mistake this time. He went to the local business right after the Eagles were victorious and asked about sweatshirts but was told that no decisions had been made yet and to check back later.

I never gave it a thought until right before Christmas when Bruce took the car to Marcus to have the oil changed, when he got home I asked if he ever got the sweatshirts ordered and he said by the time he checked back, it was too late. I was disappointed but didn't think much about it so was completely surprised when Bruce pulled a rather large package out from under the tree Christmas morning.

I always see our neighbor, Jon, wearing headphones while driving the tractor so before Thanksgiving, I quizzed him about how well they work, I was considering getting a pair for Bruce. He said he bought them at Bomgaars and they work great, good reception and they block outside noise. Black Friday is always the 20% off sale at Bomgaars so while Bruce was distracted with his own purchases, I found the headphones and squirreled them away in the car, out of sight. I hid them in the sewing room but I probably could have hid them in plain sight because Bruce isn't a snooper. Christmas Eve, I wrapped and tucked them under the little trees, not noticing the rather large package at the back, guess I'm not the only one who isn't nosy because Bruce said it was under there for a few days.

When Bruce unwrapped them, I was tickled to hear him say, "WOW! These are just like Grassy's! I was thinking of getting a pair!"

So after church on Sunday, while we were still cleaned up, I wanted some pictures of our gifts and no, that is not an angel flying out of Bruce's ear! Note to self, check the background before taking the picture.

We had hamburgers, fries and champagne for dinner, then settled in front of our respective TV's for the afternoon, I believe there was also some napping going on.

The rest of the week was spent battling snow and rats. I thought I'd won the war on rats until I found one was trying to chew his way into the chicken house through the chicken doors that I shut up tight at night. I put the game camera out in the scratch yard to see where it was coming from and caught him red-handed, crawling out through a hole under the coop right by this door.


The movie Charlotte's Web made the rat, Templeton, so cute and cuddly, well, they aren't! They are scurvy creatures that sneak in at night and steal baby chicks and they must be eradicated! I stuffed 3 packets of rat bait down his hole, then, just to make life miserable, I took a grease gun from the farm and pumped a bunch of sticky grease on top of the bait and finished it off with a rock pounded into the hole entrance.

Further surveillance has not produced any further evidence of rats so for now I'm declaring victory.

We had two snowfalls in two days but the weatherman was wrong when he predicted the wind would blow and make blizzard conditions, thank heavens. I'm still not able to get in and out of a skid loader so that would have left Bruce all alone clean up. It was pretty and brought birds flocking to the bird feeders.

Mollie and Murphy were anxiously awaiting the new snow and one last chance to wear their Christmas finery.

I'm already falling behind in my NY resolution as it is Jan 2, Bruce is snoring in his chair while another ball game is on TV. The kitchen stove is purring away and Zoe rolled up the rug to make a pillow for her afternoon nap.

Clyde had a frightening experience, he crawled inside an empty dog food sack that was lying on the floor, then scared the daylights out of himself and barely got out with his life. He's now asleep in my chair, trying to forget the entire traumatic experience, he will now give sacks a wide berth, they aren't nearly as innocent as they appear.

The sun is shining brightly, warming the cows and horses who are out soaking it up but the chickens are not going to be tricked into stepping out into the snow so they gather on the edge of the coop and keep watch. I was checking for eggs and there was a hen sitting in the nest, I slid my hand under her and found an egg, to let her know I was grateful I said, "Thank you." Quietly she replied, "Bwak, bwak, bwak." I took that to mean, "You're welcome."

Wishing you all a Happy and Prosperous New Year from Julie, Bruce and all the two and four legged critters.