DO YOU EVER GET CARRIED AWAY IN THE MOMENT?

Happens to me every fall.  I just can’t help myself.  I have tried. I keep myself busy with harvesting and crafting and food processing – but it just can’t stop it.  Those pesky childhood memories come flooding back every fall.

There is so much work that has to be done right now.

  • Canning, cooking, freezing, dehydrating.
  • Digging up old and prepping for new in the spring.
  • Start or end projects for the holidays
  • Then there are all the decorations – dig it out, put it up, take it down, pack it away.
  • Clean up/out the house for winter ready (basically the same as spring cleaning, but now is more to get the dust out and keep the bugs out.).
  • Pack away the spring/summer clothes and get out the fall winter clothes – and don’t forget the boots!
  • Finish any critter roofs that need to be tacked down and/or sealed.
  • Shear up any walls that got knocked around by winds.
  • Mow everything one last time (that takes two days in itself).
  • Get the tank water heaters out and make sure they are working (for critters and the fish pond in the front yard.).
  • Fix any doors, windows and shutters on all buildings.
  • Re-insulate, caulk, or trim any place that may have lost it over the summer.

This is just part of my to-do-list before the first frost hits.  One weather forecast said colder than normal; the other said warmer than normal, pretty sure I do not even know what NORMAL is anymore?!

I started to water what is left of the gardens, and heard some kids (very young) laughing as a truck drove by; and that was all it took!  I had to come in and write up my last blog (cool dad #2) while it was fresh in my mind.  (OH, for those wondering – the memory is great – only lasts about 5 minutes, but it is great! Lol)

Then I realized I left the water running in the strawberry plot – oops!  Oh well, been meaning to do that anyway.  The temps are still in the mid 80’s here during the day, and only dropping to around 40 at night (actually just before dawn), so they are safe with the flooding.

This weekend is supposed to be a bit cooler.  We have “volunteer” trees that have to come down, and some nasty rats that need some bubble gum!  I just hope my mind can stick to the task at hand?  Fall and Winter are my most favorite seasons simply because of all the delightful memories!  How about you?  Do you get carried away in the moment too?

dsc_0003  (Too many volunteers right on the fence line – both sides!)

dsc_0005   dsc_0004

dsc_0006

(You may not be able to tell from these pics, but each hill from the rats is about a foot tall!  They have even invaded our corn patch – jerks!)

Advertisements

OH NO – NOT ANOTHER COOL DAD STORY?

To properly explain this one, I am going to have to write you a picture:

  • Two sisters, one about four the other about six.
  • It is early1960’s in Wisconsin.
  • Our farm is several miles from the nearest major highway, so a trip is required for everything.
  • The main road: County Trunk W.
  • The type of road: 2-lane, HUGE hills (cannot see the other side until you are on top of them type hills).
  • And so our story begins:

It is a beautiful fall day.  The leaves are either turning or falling, and this part of Wisconsin has such an amazing variety of trees that you are awestruck by colors.  The air is crisp, even in the mid-afternoon.  Dad decides we have to go to the grocery store in Adell (not the closest city, but a larger selection) to pick up some stuff.  We are taking the farm truck (I have no clue year, make or model – have to ask my older sister since she totaled it – but that’s another story).  No seatbelts (neither in it or required to have it- go figure?).

Dad grabs the girls and throws them into the front seat of the truck, then slides in on the driver’s side and starts her up.  Varoom, rumble, rumble, rumble (yes, this is how an old farm pickup truck sounds) and off we go.

From the end of our driveway, you turn onto County Trunk W and go east toward Adell.  We sit at the top of a hill, so the start is fun picking up speed on the way down.  Now remember, it is early 1960’s so cops really didn’t look for speeders on all the county roads (most of them were still gravel anyway – now ours.)

Down the hill, up a smaller one, and over – picking up some more speed.  Down again, up again, down again; this continues for about five or six miles, and THERE IT IS – SKUNK HILL.  The reason for the name is because of all the dead skunks on it.  You cannot see over to the other side, so there is no time to slow down.

  • Once over,
    • you see it,
      • it’s dead – and
        • your car/truck will stink for a month

It was the tallest hill around.  Dad was beatin feet to get up that puppy.  Hit the top and it happened, up we went off the seat into the air!  Squeals of joy and laughter rung out!  Dad was laughing even harder at us and our excitement just over a jump on a hill.  Great joy in the little things.  The laughter did not stop for another 3 or so miles until we got to the store.

NOW, some of you will be seeing the danger here.

Some of you will be seeing bad parenting here.

But some of you, just some of you will see this:

calvin-n-hobbes-laughing

  silly-minion-1

silly-minions-2

farm-dad-1

     great-dad2

Our parents were great!  Loving, funny, caring, sharing, encouraging, outstanding.  So please do not judge too harshly the decade we grew up in because it was all good. 

They were not rich, but our lives were.  If I could, I would wish that all children would have at least a couple of summers, and maybe a few falls, on a farm.

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

How Cool is Your Dad?

Our dad was AWESOME (yes, you must sing the last word here!)!  Our parents were outstanding but in completely different ways.  It took the two of them to create we three monster sisters, but this story is about Dad.

Fall brings back more memories of Dad than Mom.  He kept the farm rolling.  He worked a full-time job in Milwaukee, at the same time carried a full-time job working our 80-acre farm.  That’s a lot of working and a lot of stress.  The amazing part is he always found time for us.  He included us in all parts of the farm.

In Wisconsin, we had to do a chore every spring called “picking rock” – yes, we hand picked up large rocks in the fields.  This had to be done before the plows could come through or they would cause major damage to the equipment.  My little sister was about 4-years old when she was initiated.

pushing-boulder-up-hill

We had this great little gray Massey Ferguson tractor.  It was the littlest one on our farm and a perfect fit for little girls.  Dad hooked up one of the flatbed trailers to the tractor, lifted us three girls up on the flatbed, and out to the fields we went.

Once in the field, Dad put the youngest (only four remember) into the driver’s seat, tied a wooden block to her gas pedal foot, put the tractor in the lowest gear and off she started.  My older sister, I, and my dad then would walk the field alongside the trailer finding, picking up, and loading all the rocks about softball size and up onto the wagon.  Easy right?  WRONG!

The best thing our parents gave us is our sense of humor; it is also the worst.  The baby sister and I were always at each other; it was our “thing.”  She now had a perfect advantage.  It all started out innocent enough, scooting along in the tractor.  Nice and smooth, slow and steady.  If we had a fairly big rock her job was to stop until we had it loaded (Yep – here it comes).

She did her job perfectly with Dad.  Just as well with our eldest sister.  Then there was me.  First, it started out as it should, moving along, picking up and loading rocks.  Then she saw me pick up a rock that was obviously very heavy and awkward for me.

She stopped the wagon.

Waited for me to get right up to it to set down the rock.

Then purposely bolted ahead so I could not set down the rock (little jerk)!

What made matters worse for me, was Dad laughing.  Our older sister joined in, and I was once again the brunt of the joke.  The more they laughed, the more she did it, the angrier I became – which made them all laugh harder.

dont-throw-rocks-sign  (or little sisters)

Dad would eventually compose himself and reprimand baby sister – sort of.  She would be good for a while, then start back up again.  This became the family ritual every rock picking season.  Funny how a person can get used to good-hearting ribbing, but others will call it a form of abuse.  To me, it was just normal family fun farm stuff.

3-sister-stones

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

THRILLED FINDING MY NEW GUEST!

Gardens and gardening is a never ending adventure for me.  Every time I go out to them, I find something wonderful and amazing.  Today is her day:

gardenspider-1

She is a common garden spider for out here.  The funny part is the first five years on our little piece of heaven; we did not see any of them?  Then, in the 6 year, they were everywhere.  We had a fun one that made a next on the old chicken shed.  The front of it was all chicken wire to let the sun in, and she found that to be a perfect spot for feeding.  We also have one of our well pumps right beside that spot.  Well, we would go to water the animals and turn on that pump, and she would spaz out. She was a massive predator!  The minute her web wiggled, even a tiny bit, she was all over it.  Most of the day she was very lazy and just hung out in the middle sunning herself.  But the first time I was trying to untangle the hose for the chicken water and splashed her web – I freaked out (my turn I guess, haha).  She came bolting across to where I hit her web, and I must have jumped back a foot at least!  They are not a small spider:

gardenspider-2

My fingers are right behind her in this shot, and she is not even full grown yet! Eeek!!  Her body alone gets about as big as a ping-pong ball, and those legs stretch out about three inches from that.  She actually has a pretty silver streaking going on, but I was at the wrong angle for the picture to properly show that.

Considering how aggressive she is toward bad bugs, how she doesn’t bother me if I don’t bother her, and I caught her eating a wasp – she is welcome to stay and call the greenhouse home!  Now I just need to remember that she is in there because this web is up as high as my head, and the place we turn on the swamp cooler pump is right behind her.  Would hate to not be paying attention and have her right on my face – double EEEK!!!  Happy gardening you all – and keep your heads up!
Follow my blog with Bloglovin

FARM KIDS AND FLYING HAY.

We had an 80-acre farm in Wisconsin that grew veggies for canning for winter food.  We also grew wheat, corn, and hay for the winter critters.  We raised beef cattle, had horses for fun, and a 4-H project with rabbits that got way out of control but filled the freezers with meat for a year (that’s another story).

One of my fondest memories growing up was of making hay.  Now before you panic, let me explain.  These were the old, small bales, the ones that usually weighed between 50-80 pounds and a normal adult could pick up and throw around.  This process became a family tradition.

We were the family with all the land and all the equipment, so when it came time to doing something like making hay, it was an extended family event.  Cousins, Aunts, Uncles and even some close family friends would be involved.  The parents and older kids worked the fields, while the kids got to work up in the haystack in the barn (I know, we were ripped off!).  The lower starting levels were not bad; but as the stack grew and the gap between the top of the hay and the top of the barn got smaller, the heat got more intense.  I don’t remember anyone passing out, but I also do not remember anyone coming out of there dry.

hay-baler-pic

(This is close to what ours was like, except back then there were no side racks, the hay came off the baler and we pulled it onto the wagon and stacked it.  The wheels were also up front and in back instead of in the middle)

The only major issue I remember is at the end of one season; the kids were allowed to go out and ride the last wagon of hay back (huge praise for our kid work).  My dad’s brother, Uncle Vern, was the tractor driver that day.  The wagon was full, we were all on top, and he was cruising back to the house.

The road from the hay field to the barn had only one stop.  The problem was it was at an intersection that sat at the bottom of a very steep hill (appropriately there also happened to be an old cemetery right across the street from where we had to stop – a very spooky cemetery!).  Well, Uncle Vern knew how bad this intersection was so he had been watching the top of the hill as we approached.  Instead of coming to a complete stop Uncle stood up, looked both ways one more time and then gunned the tractor.   (Everyone hated that turn because you couldn’t see anyone coming until they were already over the hill and just about on that intersection…this is why I said the cemetery was: appropriately placed there – eeek!).  He started the turn, was going a bit too fast, the hay on the wagon was not tied down (ya, no one even thought to do it back then), and we all tipped over!  The hay and the kids flew.  The tractor and, surprisingly, the wagon remained on their wheels.

UNCLE VERN STOPPED!

Parents from the house were watching from the top of the hay barn and saw us all fly.  Immediately they came rushing down the hill to help.  One group stopped traffic up by our driveway on the top of the hill.  Another group went to stop traffic in the other directions.  The rest ran to our aid.  You should have seen their faces.

NO ONE WAS HURT – NOT EVEN A SCRATCH, AND WE WERE LAUGHING!

 calvin-n-hobbes-laughing

Yep, crazy farm kids, had a blast flying off the top of the bales into the ditch.  It was grassy and semi-soft.  We were on the top of the stacked bales, so nothing landed on top of us, and besides; we all had jumped from greater heights inside the barn into the straw pile.  We thought it was fun – scary, but fun.  Later, eventually, so did our parents.

hay-wagon-pic

(This is very close to what it looked like before the dump.  The bales were stacked the same way, only add one more top row – 5 high – and we sat on top.) Ahhh,  childhood memories!

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

CAN YOU SEE ME NOW – BOO?

Cool looking bugs have always fascinated me. What interests me most is how well they blend in. I can spot a Ladybug just about anywhere. Grasshoppers stick out also. But the praying mantis is just too cool!
I was doing some spot watering in the greenhouse today. We have plants in there that are now as tall or taller than me (I am 5’5” in case you are wondering). Well just cruising along the plots minding my own business then I happened to glance over my left shoulder. There he was. Hanging out – upside down – on the tarragon bush (Which, by the way, also gets HUGE! Cut it back three times so far this year, and it’s getting close to another butchering!).

male-mantis-1   male-mantis-2
I know the females (green ones) are in the greenhouse as we put most of them in there. But this was a he-male. First male I have seen in the greenhouse and that is this big…

I placed my hand behind him just to show how huge he is. My guess is about 3-1/2 to 4 inches long. I couldn’t help just staring at him. The details, the grace among the plant, the fact that they wipe out bad bugs – awesome!
We are getting into my favorite time of year – fall! This is when I really start looking at things in great detail. I was pulling weeds in the front patio and finally saw a velvet ant – not bad. They are the size of the red ants here, but shiny/fuzzy bodies. This one was bright red. However, I was asked once if the “cow killer” I found was actually a velvet ant. I can now firmly say – NO WAY, NOT ON YOUR LIFE! This velvet ant was really “ant” size – small, about ¼ inch long. The Cow Killer was the size of a large black beetle or a full-size bumble bee. It also moved really, really fast! Pretty sure I do not EVER want one of these to bite me – ouch! I would also prefer to not EVER see one again thank you – – – way too scary!

cow-killer-bug  (Cow Killer)
I am thinking that climate change has all the bugs off-whack too. Insects that we used to see in the heat of the summer, have just appeared in the last 3 weeks…yellow jackets, for example. There have been a couple here and there, but not like right now. Masses have accumulated at the south side of our home and in the greenhouse. We have to go in the greenhouse early or late in the day. We have set up some traps, but their numbers are greater than our little traps can handle. This is very odd indeed. Over the last several years we have gotten the occasional honeybee that was lost, confused and ended up inside. A wasp or two was no big deal. But this year is biblical plague size.

scary-wasp-face

 

 

 

 

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

SO WHAT’S WRONG WITH A YOUNG ADDICTION?

Don’t you just love a good addiction?  My first one started when I was only seven years old, and my parents put me into 4-H.  We had cattle, horses and lots of other farming things that I could have worked on and taken to the fair – but nooo – I chose to take a shot at knitting.  YES, with yarn – now how scary is that?

I have no clue what attracted me to it.  My mother would crochet once in a while (in a very long while), but it was not one of her passions.  I still remember the very first pair of needles I picked up.  I swear there was some type of chemical on them that the moment I touched them I became obsessed!  It was (and still very much is) an addiction.  The very first thing I ever created was called “The Pixie Slipper” – I won first prize – blue ribbon.  It was the ugliest thing anyone ever suggested for a pattern.  Real easy to do for a first-timer, but still ugly.  What brought all this up?  The pattern is back – EEEKKK!

You can find tons of all types of handmade slippers (and just about everything else) on eBay or Etsy.  I have searched and used both, but this one just made me giggle:

pixie-slippers

(you can click on the pic to take you to the site for more info)

Other than the major curling in the toes, it is pretty much the same old pattern.  Funny, the whole thing is just one big square?!?  If you go here: https://www.etsy.com/market/pixie_slippers  you can find a ton of variations to this project – who would have thought?

I remember putting such effort into that project.  There was just something about the feel of the needles that hooked me (yes, pun intended).  It then became the different feel of the yarns and fibers.  When I went to the fair after judging, I spotted so many other beautiful projects that kids just like me had done, and I was instantly drugged!  I would never be the same innocent me again – yarn – the culprit!

Now that I am older (notice I did not say wiser!?), I have come to realize it was not the yarn’s fault…it was the needles!  Well, it’s not really their fault either…it’s my tiny hands and fingers and MY PIANO TEACHER!!  Dun, dun, daaaa – the plot thickens!

hands-on-piano

Her method of teaching us (yep, little sis and I both had to take piano lessons – mom insisted!) was to wack the back of our hands if we didn’t reach an octave.  (Those that are lucky and have never had to, check out a piano some time – try to reach eight keys with your thumb on one and pinky on the other – that’s an octave.)  I couldn’t because of my short little fingers.  But, if I lowered my hand I could just reach the corners and make it – NOT ALLOWED – WACK! 

“You must pretend you have a golf ball stuck under your palm – this is how you must play!”  Wack – again…never did get that setup – BUT – I still tried.  Then on I was always sticking something in my hands, between my fingers (ok, sometimes up the nose – hee hee), working and trying to make them longer.  Didn’t work.  So, instead, I learned how to be more creative.  My favorite reading is “how-to’s” and love learning new things and techniques.  I love to write, draw, paint and all the other fun things you do with fingers…but the best, and most favorite, is still the original – KNITTING!

 

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

THE FIRST TIME I TRIED TO DIE (no, not on purpose!).

To this day I cannot keep my hands off baby animals.  Don’t care what kind of animal it is, just as long as it is in baby form.  Adults, not so much.

On a farm, there is always some type of babies being born.  If it wasn’t my 4-H rabbits, it was the cousin’s pig.  Well, one fine year we had a Welsh Pony, her name was Dolly.  She was a booger!  The meanest pony I ever met.  Once you got the bridle and saddle on her, she was fun to ride.  Trying to get them on without her stepping on your foot or trying to nip you was another story.  I don’t know where or when it happened, but she got pregnant and had a colt.  A beautiful black and white spotted thing just like her.

dolley and baby

I can’t tell you how many times dad warned us NOT to go near Dolly.  She was very protective of her baby, as a mother should be.  Did I listen?  Nope!  I would go out there for hours and try to get close enough to touch the baby.

There was a small shed out in their pen with the door and window blown out.  Dolly would hide in there with her baby, and I knew it.  I would crawl up to the side of the building and try to reach in to get to touch the baby.  Never worked.

One day I decided I was just going to do it!  Just who did this pony think was the boss anyway?  So, I put on my little cowboy boots, grabbed my coat and off I went.  I marched right into that pen, right up to the pony and that was the last thing I remember of that encounter.

Apparently, she knew she was the boss and the moment I got too close, she decided to show me.  Swung her butt around and planted a hoof square on my head – knocked me out cold.  I was lucky for two reasons:

  1.  Dolly did not want to come after me for more damage once I was down.
  2. Dad saw the whole thing.

He managed to get me to the house (back then you didn’t just rush off to the hospital or doctor, you tried to handle it at home first.) where mom took over and eventually I came around.

Now, I’m not going to say I was okay.  As far as “ok” – that is still left to be determined (sure hope not)!  However, I was an idiot back then, and I will continue to prove this to you in my future family stories. (FYI – Dad’s nickname for me was “Dumb Shit” for a reason.)

headache dog

Follow my blog with Bloglovin