ONE OF MY MOST FAVORITES!

Farm kids find the simplest ways to entertain themselves.  Making hay is hard work, but building forts while putting that hay up in our barn was tons of fun.  (There were only regular small bales back then and, sad to say, there are very few places that still make them today.)  Rolling down our steep hills was also a form of great joy, and then there was the Milkweed plant.

It is a weed, so, as such,  most farmers would destroy them in favor of their paying crop.  We played with ours, which, I think, made our father a bit mad.  If you broke open the stem, it produced a milky substance that was very sticky (just try to mess with the plant without getting sticky!?!  Can’t happen.), but our favorite part was the pods.

It is a strong and pretty plant that produces a heavy bushy type of flower during the summer and is best known as the perfect food for the Monarch butterflies.  Then as the summer ends and fall begins, they grow these pods.  The pods are filled with tons of little brown seeds, and each seed is attached to a very light and feathery stem.  This is where dad would get mad.

We would break open the pods and purposefully pull out all the seeds on their feathers and throw them up into the air.  We would pretend they were little fairies floating all around us.  Pretty obvious why dad didn’t like it, but also pretty sure Mom Nature loved us for it.

Countryside.com just sent me this email:

Milkweed Plant: A Truly Remarkable Wild Vegetable

Discover the Many and Varied Milkweed Plant Uses, Including Sustenance for Butterflies

It is a perfect read, especially since I have never looked at them as a veggie, but they needed to add the joy that it can bring to little kids as one of its best benefits.

On a side note, I need to thank our neighbors.  They own big fields of paying crops (including crops that go into cow bellies) but have never stopped to ask us to get rid of them.  The plant was not originally on our farm.  The first one showed up in our front yard about five years ago, and my sister and I protected it.  No, we did not pop open the pod and watch the fairies dance (but it was a thought); it did that all on its own.  We just encouraged it to grow and enjoyed watching it feed our honeybees, butterflies, and other beneficial bugs.

You can also check me out at:  https://lifelessonslived.com/ for all the fun things I have learned in life.

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WHAT THE HECK IS IT MADE OF?

I know it is moth season (yes, we have a season for them), and I know that they help to feed the birds; but do they have to be so nasty?  And, what is there poop made of?

I hate that they get stuck in my hair AND CRUNCH when I try to get them out!  I hate that they fly right into my face over and over and over again (makes me think of a Coyote/Roadrunner cartoon), and it doesn’t phase them at all.

Wilie Coyote help

The worst thing of all is the poop they leave behind – EVERYWHERE!!  What the heck is that stuff made of?  I swear it is worse than tar to try to get off, and it ends up in the strangest places.  I found several yuckies on my DSL this morning, and the thing sits upright on a box (better air circulation since it gets kind of hot), and yet it has two trash marks from Millers on it.

Moth poo 6-3-20

Have you ever tried to clean that stuff off of something?

  • They are a bug and not a real smart one.
  • They are bird and bat food.
  • They don’t live very long.
  • They turn to dust in a heartbeat.
  • They squeeze into the smallest of places.
  • They pop out of the weirdest of spots.
  • THEY ARE EVERYWHERE!

I just don’t get how something so temporary can leave such a lasting mess.  With the large amount of them appearing this year, we will be trying to clean up after the little monsters until Christmas!

The other thing I hate about them is when they pop out by the dozens in the most unsuspecting spot.  I was cleaning up the gazebo and just shifted the chair cushions and got bombarded by a gang of them.  (Yes, I have decided that a group of more than one is called a “gang” because they are so destructive when gathered together.)

If any of you out there reading this has some great idea on how to get rid of these nasty leftovers easily, please share so I can tackle this mess.  Thank you!

miller-scary

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TIME TO BRING THEM BACK?

Growing up on a farm in Wisconsin in the 1960s was fun.  It was a ton of work, but I don’t remember thinking of it as work. I do remember the “special” things we did each week and other stuff just once every couple of months.

The weekly fun things were the Friday night trips to the grocery store with my dad, followed by a fun dinner (usually Dairy Queen-yum!).  Between my dad and my younger sister (his favorite by the way), it was always an enjoyable experience.  My sister did everything in her little power to make him laugh.  It was most times, her physically acting out.  Walking down the aisles as a mini-Hunchback dragging one arm and then talking to dad like the old movie icons: “Hey Roy (his name was Ray), can I hab dis?” Holding a chocolate bar in her hands.  He AWAYS gave into her!  I’m pretty sure it was mostly because she could make him laugh after a hard week at work.

The semi-monthly thing I remember was the outdoor movie theater.  Dad would make up a bunch of snacks (popcorn, mini-sandwiches, and cool-aid), so we never needed to buy stuff there.  Mom made sure we had blankets and pillows because we ALWAYS fell asleep before the movie ended. It was just us, our family, enjoying several hours together.  Yes, there are other families in cars around us, but we never knew they were there once the movie started.  We were in a world all our own!

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We would load ourselves and all of our supplies into the car, and away we went.  First stop was always the long line of anticipation – the drive-thru ticket taker (which NEVER seemed to move fast enough):

movie T ticket

The next phase was for all of us to scream at dad to “pick that spot, no – pick that one over there” to make sure we had the perfect place for all of us to witness the glory of the big screen (oh silly us – the area was designed so that every spot was for ideal viewing.).  Once found, the astounding addition of the speaker was added to the car.  It had to be hung on the partially rolled up window (oh – no electric windows for us back then) in just the right spot.  Several adjustments were made to position and sound for our absolute listening pleasure.

movie T speakers

There was the allure of the mystical Snack-Shack left hanging in the back of all the innocent child minds.  All cars had to pass it on the way in (bonus for the theater to entice the kids – sneaky!), thus urging everyone to run and purchase the necessary munchies and drinks BEFORE the previews started.  Get there fast.  Get there now.  Don’t interrupt the family movie night while the movie is running!

Our parents were brilliant!  They made the most of one of the cheapest, easiest ways to entertain the whole family:

  • We had food.
  • We had drinks.
  • We had blankets and pillows to keep us snug even on the coldest evenings (we NEVER turned on the car and wasted gas just to warm us up).
  • WE WERE TOGETHER AS A FAMILY!!

The last statement was the best of all.  We were together as a family, and that was the best thing:

  • No one was calling on the phone (yes youngsters – we had phones that hung on the wall or sat on a stand. Oh, and they did NOT tell us who was calling, because there was no fancy answering machine, so we had to answer the phone.) to interrupt us.
  • No one was stopping over unannounced. (Actually, our family had tons of family get-togethers which include kids playing on the farm while adults talked, played poker, and gossiped.)
  • No one or nothing could stop us from being all together, and having fun as a family should.

So, AMC Theaters (or whichever indoor theaters might happen to read this), here’s a money-maker idea for you:

  1. BRING BACK THE DRIVE-IN’S:
    1. Make everything drive-thru:
      1. Take tickets like they used to right from the cars as they pull in.
      2. Create a drive-thru Snack-Shack. Have the snacks posted just like fast-food restaurants have today. Make them long enough and large enough that the whole family can read the menu on their way to put in the order.  They (through the speaker system, also just like modern fast food) state their order, pull forward to pay, and pick up the goodies.  All from the convenience (and distancing) of their vehicle!
      3. Now here is where you should spend some money: speaker or sound system. The old drive-in sound systems were large and clumsy and sometimes had static.  With our modern technology, you should be able to come up with a much better, lighter system.  Still make it hook into each vehicle for that personal family experience.  Maybe something wireless?
      4. One last update addition: A unique bathroom system. I’m not sure how to do this, but if you can figure out an automatic system that can tell how many people in vs. how many people out.  You could still have several stalls, but the structure would know to unlock the “in” door when someone used the “out” door.  You could hang plastic sheets along the waiting hall so that people would have to stand and wait between the layers.  Perhaps an overhead sterilizing spray would go off as the “out” door would open, and people would move up to next-in-line?

I know you all think I’m on crack or something after reading this idea – well, no, I don’t do drugs.  I just read an article about the fight between AMC Theaters and Universal Pictures because movies need to go out, even when the theaters have to be closed.  I understand and sympathize with both sides of the story, so I came up with this beautiful idea for them all to get along.

Theaters make money.

            Movie-maker companies make money.

                        Safe distancing protocols would still be maintained.

                                    FAMILIES HAVE A FANTASTIC TIME ALL TOGETHER!

I say we start throwing this idea out there and get it done!  BRING BACK THE DRIVE-INS!

Movie T end

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I SWEAR, SOMETHING’S LIVING IN THERE!

We recently lost the last of our chickens.  This is not something new, as farmers we know there will always be predators that attack all parts of a farm.

  • Prairie dogs making leg-breaking holes in animal pastures.
  • Gophers-from-hell eating the roots of our asparagus.
  • Snakes popping up when you least expect them (luckily, I only had a Rattler once -knock on wood!).
  • Skunks hiding in the cat barn to sleep with a warm, furry, bundle of cats and eat their food (yes, one of them crawled out from the cat bed box on a frigid winter day and scared the snot out of me. I calmly said: “Good Morning.” Then backed out of the barn rather fast.).
  • An opossum choosing to hang out in our barn to avoid bad storms (the little sucker hung around for over a week, and popped up in a variety of places.).

oppossum

I want to find out what monster is living in my chicken barn, but a big part of me is also afraid.  Just my luck, it will lunge at me when I discover it (eeek!!). My sister was so nice and brought up the option that it might be a badger – great?!?  Yes, we do have those out here, but we have not seen any on our property since we first bought the farm (2000).  We initially had one living on the side of the hill by the pond.  We left it alone, and it left us alone.  Roughly four years later, it disappeared.  We have not noticed any living signs on our property since (would like it to stay that way – mean critters!).

badger

During cold winter times, we purchase the critter foods and put them immediately into containers.  Then the empty bags are piled up until spring and then put into the trash.  We usually put bags into bags and simply leave them until the weather is warmer for dragging the empties to our trash.  Things have been so strange this year, that the bags have piled up.  My fear is my monster is hiding in that pile.

I have left the barn door open the last several nights (since the loss of our last chicken) in hopes that whatever got stuck in the barn has now made its way out.  Today is the day of discovery.  My task, since the winds-from-hell have subsided, is to get in there and pull everything out.  We stored large dog kennels, that we used for various reasons, in there.  I have peeked into those already and no monsters.  I do want to drag them out so I can get back in the corner behind them.   Wish me luck that all meanies are gone!

Here’s to spring cleaning – eeek!

spring cleaning

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ONCE AGAIN: SHORT, SIMPLE, AND SMELLY?

We knew that living the rural life had many benefits, but never expected things like this to happen:

  • No coffee filters.
  • No toilet papers.
  • No dish or laundry soaps.

We have found that rural is better for pandemic problems too. The only time I saw a shortage of any of the above items was during the initial hoarding. Since that first time, I have had no problems obtaining any of those items whenever we need them.

We also are major R.R.R. people.  Those of you that do not know it stands for Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle.  This is the one individual habit we put in place decades ago and are very proud to have it.

Reduce Reuse Recycle keep calm

My email inbox had another wonderful message from my buds at familyhandyman.com:

What to Do If You Run Out of These 5 Household Items

Harrison KralUpdated: Apr. 10, 2020

It’s a great read, but I do have a few adjustments to contribute:

  • Borax: If you don’t know what it is, it is one of the original dry soaps.  We always have a couple of boxes on hand for dozens of different reasons (including pest control in the gardens).  The contribution here is, “get it online!”  It is not carried in stock in many places.  Your best bet at the best price is to get it online.  We get ours from Amazon (not affiliated), but I am always on the hunt for better deals.

Borax(This is the big one we get every couple of years.)

  • Baking Soda: We use that and cider vinegar to clean most everything (another goodie for pest control in the gardens).  Make sure you read the whole story, INCLUDING the things you DON’T want to use with baking soda.
  • Coffee Filters: Not sure why those are running short in areas, but we also invested in a permanent coffee filter.  It is a fine-screened, plastic-framed cup that fits in most coffee makers.  If you can’t find one, or one that fits appropriately (like our larger, commercial, coffee pot), I simply took some fine-screen material and cut it to fit the inside of the filter cup.  It does the job very well.  You simply lift out the wire lining and shake it in the trash.  We shake ours over the garden plots in our front and back yards as the grounds are great for the soil and plants.  If you are in an apartment, you could shake them off into a bucket (old coffee cans work great too), then spread some on your house plant soil.

Fine-screen material (click on the pic to go get it)

  • Toilet Paper: This one is great, and I have heard/read this idea before.  The only thing none of the articles I read, explained is how to deal with the smell.  They all talk about simply throwing the used material or cloth into the trash – NO – YUCKY – SMELLY!  You must have, or get, a bucket or garbage with a lid!!!

trash w lid(click on the pick to see great review on these)

I cannot stress this enough.  Tons of places online had great little trash cans with step openers and lids – PERFECT!  You get done on the potty, step on the foot lever to open the lid, and put in your leftovers.  No muss, no fuss, and the only smells are the initial opening nasty.  Two other hints for the smell:

  1. Sprinkle some baking soda on the bottom of the trash can BEFORE you add the liner bag. Then once you have your bag in, sprinkle some more in the bottom of the line.  This helps keep down the smell a lot.
  2. If you have the funds splurge on some stick-up air fresheners. They are perfect as they can be stuck to the inside lid of the can and help the baking soda to keep those icky smells under control.
  3. CHANGE OUT YOUR LINER BAG ON REGULAR INTERVALS. The intervals depend on the number of people in your household.
  4. My last helper hint is if you choose to use cloth for toilet paper – DON’T CRINGE (you can giggle). Cloth diapers were around for centuries.  All you need to do is have a bucket of soapy water and a bucket of clean water near the toilet.  Make sure EVERYONE in the household understands how to use it!  The soapy bucket is to rinse off the cloth after usage.  Then place the cloth in the cleaner water bucket to be put in the clothes washer and washed up for another useable day.
    1. Make sure to only fill the buckets about half full of water to have ample washing ability.
    2. Make sure to change out the waters often (but don’t go nuts and change them every time someone uses the toilet) on the soapy bucket, not as much needed on the pre-soak 2nd bucket. The cloth in the 2nd bucket should be semi-clean enough to go straight to the washing machine—no need to try to wring anything out (week).

2 buckets                          old wash machine

(2 Buckets – no waiting.)                          (Good old-fashioned washing machine-LOL)

Stay safe.  Stay well.  Stay smart.

talk about garbage-raccoon

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SERIOUSLY? Don’t say you don’t have time!

If you have been following me at all, you know that I usually try to find the humor in everything.  I even share stories of my screw-ups (especially the really bad ones) because they often make me laugh at myself, so why not share.

The pandemic is all everything everywhere is talking about – ok, it’s big, it’s terrible, and it’s scary – we got it.  I have been checking for ways to best kill time during this yuckiness (yep – I created a new word, shame on me!).

I then realized it was:

Prepping our farm and garden equipment for start-up time again, otherwise known as spring.

spring prep 1  spring prep 2

(YES – this is what the big mower bed is – eeek – and YES – we do have a tiller this big -double eeek!)

They all got the end of season shut down method late last fall, so now its start-up time.  I ran everything that used gas out of it, so they all need refilling.  Oil check and fills, spark plugs, tires, etc.  All the usual routine stuff.  The thing I forgot about was my beautiful car (idiot me!).

Once again, my email buds at familyhandyman.com popped in to remind me of this:

13 Things You Should Never Do To Your Car

Rick Muscoplat

I am not a complete idiot when it comes to my vehicles.  I grew up around motorheads (thank you, Cousin Clay!) that ignited my love of cars.  But I have to say that #6 is a newbie for me.

handyman

If you don’t know squat about your vehicle, this is a great article to memorize, save, and do.  If you do know some stuff but may not know it all, check it out.  You have the time now; just do it!

My riding lawn mower has become my second-best friend next to my Subaru.  I used to have to mow everything (talking about more than five acres here) by push mower – ouch!  It is still best for getting up close around things, but for the majority, it is my rider, hands down!

When I am in my “mowing zen”:

  1. I have my cell phone on my favorite music.
  2. Earbuds (FYI this is the only time I wear buds – HATE THEM – would rather have headphones, but can’t listen as well when the mower is running) hooked to phone and in my ears.
  3. Noise-blocker headset over the buds on my ears.
  4. Sweatband on my forehead, so nothing gets into my eyes.
  5. Sunglasses (also note tons of sunscreen because I burn easy).
  6. Bug head mesh netting over the top of all of that (completely covers my face, head & neck against the monsters that arise when mowing – and my nemesis the Wasp!).
  7. Then my gardening hat (wide brim) on top of that. It has a drawcord so I can keep everything in place while mowing.

This may sound like overkill, but the gnats get into my ears, been stung by a Yellow Jacket on my face (2017-not a pretty sight!), and swallowed a few of God-knows-what because I like to sing as I mow.

rachel norm            Rachel wasp sting

(BEFORE………………AFTER – eeeek!!!!  Oh, and hurt like hell, but took out the wrinkles!)

I hope you will take a moment to send a little love to your vehicle.  It deserves it!

love your car

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SHORT, SWEET, AND SIMPLE STUFF.

I have been watching the news WAY too much lately.  Our weather is at the point where I can step away from all the ugly, and look to the future.  No, this is not a Syfy article.  I am talking about simple things starting with gardening.

info overload(FYI click here:  How to Avoid Information Overload, it will take you to another friendly post. My favorite is #7.)

We always start some seeds inside – tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers – things that will provide an abundance of food but may take a bit longer to produce it. I have come to trust my email newsletters, YouTube videos, and even some gardening supply websites for information like this one:

So, You Want to Start a Garden?

8 tips for planning and planting your first garden

By Kevin Espiritu

We haven’t purchased anything from them in a few years (no need, we have enough), but I am thrilled that I was smart enough to sign up for their awesome newsletter.  More and more posts, blogs, and email newsletters are turning to gardening as a way to destress from all of today’s scary stuff.  I am going to try to find the special ones that are designed for “first-timers,” people that are kind of new to gardening, and those that would just like to revisit a simpler time as a refresher.

simple gardener

I learned something from an IT Tech decades ago (yes, I am ancient and proud of it – stone-age computers were vicious monsters from hell, but I did learn not to be afraid of them.):

“There is nothing you can do, that I/we can’t fix.”

Silly man! It was my task at that job (middle of the night after everyone else went home; it was my unique task: 1. I knew so much about computers; 2. I was not afraid of them.) to purposely try to shut it all down.  It was a brand new computer system at a school for financial planning, and I got very good at my job.  Well, my words of encouragement to you are the same, “there is nothing you can do that we can’t fix.”

nothing you can do

Here are five of the ways I have been handling all the scare:

  • Pulling weeds: This is actually one of my most favorite ways to handle life whenever it is out of my control.  I rip them suckers out of the ground for about an hour and I feel great (pain)!  Physically and mentally exhausted to the point of merely just sitting back and enjoying my work.  It is very rewarding (pleasure), at the end of the day,  to see what I had accomplished.
  • Disconnect: This one is very hard for me.  I have forced myself to try to do two things better in this regard: 1) Share fun, funny, or inspirations stuff in the morning.  2) Only share ideas that are relevant to all of us helping each other or protecting ourselves better.  I have to be honest that the second one is much harder for me to maintain as there is just too much B.S. coming from our elected officials.  I try to stick to traceable facts.

disconnect 1

  • Read: I love to read, but most of my reads are how-to books (and ebooks).  Perhaps this is turning out to be a great thing.  I read up on how to do something and I just want to dive right into creating it.  Unfortunately, I do not always have the supplies that I need for the project, so I just bookmark (or lots of sticky notes) it for later and go on to the next.

bookworm

  • Craft: This is my most favorite thing to do.  I have several crafts I am into and find it not only distracting, but very relaxing, and once again it is great to see the end product of my hard work at the end of the day.

crazy crafter

  • Exercise: I am in no way an exercise nut. It’s just not in me.  We bought a stationary bike after my first knee surgery to make sure I keep them (both have had complete replacements) flexible and robust.  It turns out this was an excellent idea for all year around exercising.  The bike faces a large picture window where I can watch birds eat at a feeder, trees blowing in the wind, or a good thunderstorm.  It also faces toward the TV, so I can watch a movie or cartoons (my favorite) while I am peddling away.  I am very “mental” my head never stops thinking, so even regular exercising (like suntanning – could never to that either – just lay there?) never works for me.  I get to cheat at this step by taking lovely walks.  We have a small farm with lots of gardens and a greenhouse.  Just trolling around all of that really adds up the steps without having to think anything about it.  I have a great step-tracker on my phone, and as long as I keep it in my pocket, it will add it all up for me – no brainer!  (I use Pedometer Step Counter-free version – for my Android phone, however, there are tons of freebies to download to your own phone.  It only tracks my steps.)

stationary bike

I have been researching things that, my hope is, will make my life less complicated or stressful.  One last share for you is WorkFlowy.com. I LOVE THIS PROGRAM!  It is free and so easy to use.  The best part is I create, add, delete my to-do list from anywhere at any time.  I built the original on the website (did I mention it is FREE), and then review, add, or remove as I accomplish my tasks.  No more carrying around (or abusing trees) pads of paper and losing pens. It’s all done technologically.

I hope that some of these ideas will help you to deal with all the scary stuff, even for just a little while.

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I’m Mad As Hell, And I’m Not Gonna Take It Anymore!

We are so tired of theft we could just scream!  It is not because of virus issues; it is something that has been building up over multitudes of years.

I am not talking about money – I am talking about our critters.

Two more of our hens were killed in the last two nights.  It took me until today to figure out how the monster(s) is getting in.  The white hen disappeared, leaving just feathers – the first clue of the perpetrator.  This morning it was our red Hennie, and I found her gutted under some sheet metal in the back corner of the chicken barn.

We have gone through great lengths to make sure our chickens are safe from the monsters in the night.  It had been working reasonably well for the last year or so.  Apparently, they have created a new gap in a far corner that I would not have found had it not been for the corpse.

We try very hard to follow the live-and-let-live motto.  However, when we are down (sorry – were down) to only four birds, it’s just wrong for the beasties to attack them.  We have prairie dogs, rabbits, mice, and various other critters very near our barn on which they could have feasted.  That would not have bothered me at all.

So, today, to try to bring our thief to justice, we are sharing photos in hopes that someone will spot this thug (and its gang) and put an end to our injustice!  Here is the criminal:

Don’t be fooled by that innocent, cute look on its face – it is a natural-born killer!  You might even find it hanging around with this murdering mob:

coyotes

(Ragged bunch of gangsters if ever I saw one.)

If you happen into their local watering hole, you may find them with the lesser thieves who only nab eggs and babies:

Notice that one even wears a mask to try to hide its identity – but I know who it is.

Please, keep an eye out for these dangerous killers and help to bring them to justice.  In the meantime, we will be having a memorial this Friday to morn the loss of our dear Hennies (beers and Yahtzee will be provided – HOWEVER no more than one at a time in the porch please.).

Stay Safe!

(Yes, I did get stilly in here, and we did lose two chickens, but it is live and let live for us, so we will forge onward with humor wherever I can find or provide it.  My wish is that I put a little smile on your face for just a moment today.)

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DO YOU LOVE YOUR BUGS?

No, this has nothing to do with the virus.  Today, I am back to talking about chemical-free gardening stuff.  We are officially into the spring season, which for us means prepping, planting, and planning.

Our home has started this season as it should:

  • Flies and spiders sneaking into the house.
  • Little bunnies hopping all over to test our predator defenses.
  • Rhubarb, tulips, iris, and several other things, popping out of the ground.
  • Like every year – we have the Odd Thomas poking up out of the ground. Later it will be determined friend or foe and dealt with accordingly.

baby bunny

These are the standard spring bits of proof.  Then we have the oddballs:

  • I spotted my old nemesis – A WASP (Yellow Jacket) – grr!
  • A skunk has already invaded our chicken barn for the barn cat food, pee-u.
  • What would spring be without Miller moths (stay out of my hair!). It just seems a bit too early for them, but they are here.

skunk

We cut the cord a couple of years ago, so I rely heavily on the internet for my valuable data.  My email box receives tons of information – daily – that I have specifically requested (vs. T.V. which bombards with junk I did not ever want to see).  One such request is from my Joe Gardener.com, which originated on our local PBS channel while we still had satellite T.V.  His name is Joe Lamp’l, and he is just full of excellent gardening stuff.  The best part of his shows is the guests.  If he doesn’t know a lot about a specific subject, he is not afraid to go to a guest source for the nuts-and-bolts of the issue.  This email was about the Monarch Butterfly (one of my favorite good bugs – also endangered species.).

Several years ago, we were lucky to be witness to a Monarch migration.  They came in the hundreds and landed on our trees, bushes, fences, house – you name it, they were on it.  IT WAS OUTSTANDING!  They did not stay long, but we felt gifted that they chose our little piece of heaven to stop for a rest.

That one-time massive visit threw me into a frenzy to find out more about them and ways to help them survive.  I was not the only one that was enthralled by them.  Dr. Agrawal is a professor in the Department of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology and Department of Entomology at Cornell University, was one of his guests, and spent time learning all he can about the Monarch.

This recent post by Joe shares a ton of great information, and EVERY gardener should learn.  It doesn’t matter if you grow for beauty, for food, or both; you need to learn to save our nature’s helpers.

147-Monarchs and Milkweed: A Precarious Struggle Between Life and Death

MARCH 12, 2020 | GROWPODCAST

(Please feel free to join me in the Monarch Watch group to help monitor the migration and population.)

The big thing that caught my eye was “monarchs and milkweed,” of which I had forgotten how much the two are connected.

milkweed and monarch

A couple of years ago, a milkweed plant sprouted in our front yard – all on its own.  I took that as a sign and saved the pods.  Remembering back to my childhood, we used to love popping the pods and watching the feathery seeds fly everywhere (F.Y.I. Dad hated it when we did that because they are a weed, and as such, he did not want them in his food fields.  Nothing worse than having to walk a field and handpick weeds – wait – picking rock was worse.).

The milkweed is crucial to Monarch survival.  Knowing this, I cherished the newbies on our property and encouraged them to continue.  We do have hay and corn farmers around us, not for human food but animal food.  We also have bees and a Beekeeper, that has our blessing to use our place as needed to allocate his 600+ colonies of honeybees every year.  The bees love the milkweed just as much as the Monarch, but for a different reason.  The article goes on to explain this in more detail was some fantastic pictures.  I hope that all of you read his article – gardener or not.

HAPPY SPRING – HAPPY GARDENING!

You can also check me out at:  https://lifelessonslived.com/ for all the fun things I have learned in life.

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MASHED POTATOES DO NOT STICK.

A dear friend reminded me of how much fun doing housework can be.  The following story is true from my past days growing up on the farm.

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Our father was way too trusting.  He believed that when he told his young daughters to do something simple like clean up the kitchen after dinner would be done without any issues.  Wrong!

Dad loved to cook but hated to clean.  This was fantastic for mom as she was just the opposite.  With parents that handled these specific chores in such a manner, what were two mischievous daughters to do?

  • Put leftover foods away.
  • Do the dishes.
  • Clean up the area.

Simple right?  Nope.  My sister and I are, even to this day, well known for never doing the simple ways.  We usually do things in a round-about way or come up with a better way a couple of years after-the-fact.  Cleaning up was perhaps where this whole issue started.

We had a very fun childhood, and our parents encouraged us every step of the way.  This was maybe not such a good idea.  Dad made dinner, which consisted of fried chicken and mashed potatoes.  Our father came from a big family, so he consistently made too much for us to eat in one sitting.  When he very innocently to clean up the kitchen, I don’t think he was even close to being prepared for our idea of “clean up.”

It all started out the right way, put the extra food into containers (Mom was very proud of her Tupperware) then put it into the fridge.  Fill up the sinks with dishwater on one side and clean rinse water on the other.  Put the dirty dishes (after emptying them) into the dishwater.  One daughter washes and rinses, the other dries and puts the dishes away.  Once again, very simple, right?

The whole concept came to a screeching halt when my younger sister decided that mashed potatoes were a lot like clay or playdough (we had lots of arts and crafts stuff – mom’s idea to turn us into creative wizzes).  Yep – it molded into a ball beautifully when cupped in 7-year old hands.

ball mashed potatoes

It was only a matter of time before we were tossing it back and forth like you would with a ball in a game of catch.  Our game of catch turned into dodge ball.  I don’t know exactly when it happened, but somehow one of our throws ended up on the ceiling. – WOW – MASHED POTATOES STICK TO THE CEILING!

We got so squirrely excited and made the mistake of giggling.  Dad finally noticed our noises and called out from the living room (his after-dinner routine: Nightly news from his comfy recliner.),

“What are you two doing?”

To which we so innocently replied: “Nothing.”  We calmed down, and he did not bother to come to check on us.  Awesome!

LET THE STICKING BEGIN.

  1. Scoop up a nice hand full of mashed potatoes.
  2. Roll them around in your hands until they form a smooth tight consistency.
  3. Locate an easy-to-fling spot on the floor with a clear aim to the ceiling.
  4. Squat down a bit with your hand holding the potato ball hanging between your knees.
  5. Tighten your shoulder and flex your arm muscles to get an intense action.
  6. Then let-er-go!

OUTSTANDING!  The balls of mashed potatoes stuck on the ceiling.  The downside – not for very long.  We found that when we flung them up there, they would stick, but due to the butter used in making them, they slowly eeked loose from the ceiling and fell to the floor.  Then the next game became trying to catch them when they fall.

After about an hour of this (personally, I just think the news was over and he finally really heard us), dad decided to get up and see just what we were up to.

We were having so much fun that we never noticed just how many mashed potato balls were on the ceiling or floor, nor did we have any dishes done.  On our behalf, the food was all put away (except the game ball goo), and the kitchen was clean – for the most part.

Dad stepped through the arch and into the kitchen just in time to see us both throwing up our next ball.  He screeched out a: “WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON HERE?”, making both of us jump to attention and immediately stop laughing.

He proceeded to reprimand us and give us follow-up instructions to get things back in order.  We heard none of it.  We both caught the fact that there was a stuck ball on the ceiling just above his head, slowly preparing to fall.  All we could do was stare at his face.  I am sure he thought we were finally being good little girls and listening close to follow his every command.  Nope, we were just waiting – quietly.

Then it happened.

The mashed potato ball above his head finally lost its grip and flopped right on top of his head.

ball to the head

It should be noted that our father was a stellar father.  He never raised a hand to his children (that was mom’s job, and she was delighted to be the Executioner) and that in most circumstances, he acted more like a kid than we did.  This, at first, was not one of those times.  He never saw it coming even though he did see dozens of residual oil spots on the ceiling.  It never dawned on him to look up before standing in a place.

We poor well-behaved children could not hold back any longer.  The laughter exploded from us to the point of rolling around on the floor and holding tight to our little tummies that ached with laughter muscle overload.

ball laughter

Initially, dad was furious (you could see it in his eyes) but, either it was the fact that it caught him by surprise, or seeing us rolling on the floor in explosions of laughter, he also could not hold back his funny bone anymore.  He burst out in laughter along with us.

Once we all calmed down a bit, he made sure we finished cleaning the rest of the kitchen up.  The unfortunate mashed potatoes that had brought so much joy were dispensed to the critter bucket (all foods that we did not reuse were given to the critters unless it was compostable.  The compostable foods went into the garden.) never to be flung again.  So sad.

I don’t know how he did it, but after we went to bed, he managed to get all the greasy ball marks off the ceiling before mom got home.  If he had not told her about our escapades, she would have never known.  Personally, I think he was so proud of our ingenuity, that he was just bursting to tell someone.  Mom just happened to be the first person he met.

Now that I have shared one of our most favored family memories feel free to try it with our own children.  The world is full of scary stuff – why not throw in a few mashed potatoes.

You can also check me out at:  https://lifelessonslived.com/ for all the fun things I have learned in life.

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