LOST MEMORIES FOUND.

I love remembering things from my childhood.  The best ones are the rare ones that a unique smell, sight, or sound recalls.  This cart is just a prop for a local business, but it is exactly like one we had as kids with our horses:

We had a black and white spotted Welsh pony named Dolly.  She was a brat.  It was obvious that she had been abused by people somewhere in her life, but now she was with us, and ALL of our critters were spoiled rotten (even the ones we would eventually eat – eek-haha!).  Well-fed.  Plenty of pasture room to roam.  Beautiful barn for housing everyone from the harsh Wisconsin winters (we were not far from Lake Michigan, and the winter winds off the lake are brutal).  We worked all summer long to store enough food for our critters, ourselves, and some friends and relatives.  We had some new neighbors move into the small home across the road, and they had three young boys – about our age.

Once we got to know them, they realized that we played like boys even though we were girls.  Mud was a blast.  Getting into stuff we were not supposed to was classic.  Then there were our horses which was an instant draw for all kids. 

The folks splurged on a 2-wheeled little cart (just like the pic above) for us to try to train Dolly to pull.  Keep in mind, most of our training was self-taught.  They got us a good harness, taught us the basics, and then we had at it.  When the boys next door found out, they could not wait to get up on it.

Jeffie (the youngest of the three boys) ran up to the cart all excited and was not paying attention to what he was grabbing ahold of to try to get up.  He placed his hand on the wheel instead of the seat, then pony leached forward (because she was a brat – remember?); his hand slipped in between the spokes and got caught on the edge of the seat, thus breaking his arm.

We ran him back home at once, and his folks took him to the doctor.  He came home with a cast that had to stay on most of the summer.  It never slowed down his wanting to get on the wagon, ride a horse, or just play with us. 

The best part of remembering this story now is that no attorneys, lawsuits, courts, or any of the nowadays B.S. usually happens.  It was just kids playing, and it was an ACCIDENT!  Yes, accidents really did happen back then.  Apparently, there is no such thing as an accident anymore?!?  Our parents even offered to pay the doctor bill, but the neighbors would not hear of it – “they were just being kids.”, was their reply. 

Isn’t it funny, the things you thought were long forgotten, then a simple something like seeing a cart can bring them all back? 

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When Did I Move Back to Wisconsin?

Colorado weather can be very different than most places.  We never know what is coming over the mountains or which way it is going to flow.  I have built up a pretty good sense of when to plant our starts and when to put in seeds, but not this year. It’s been a mess in more ways than one.

I am used to wet Marches, wild weather ups-and-downs in April, and then “get-it-in” Mays.  This year has been snow, winds, wet and wet, and WET.  I swear I am back in Wisconsin, and I didn’t know I was planning on a move? 

IT’S GREEN!

Yes, Colorado does get green in the spring, but it is usually the fields, gardens, and lawns that get irrigation that the green appears.  This year I am hard-pressed to find a non-green spot.  We are supposed to be a higher altitude, arid, and much drier area – WHAT HAPPENED?  I blame it on climate change since that has been messing up tons of places over the last several years. It’s either that or Mother Nature is really pissed off at us now.  Even our poor crop farmers have had a hell of a time just trying to plant their typical fields.  Everything is mud!  FYI, tractors and mud do NOT mix.

Since our greenhouse lost its cover from the tornado, the plots have been susceptible to the weather, and right now, it’s a forest.  We even have a ground cover base under all our plots, but the grasses and weeds have gotten too much rain support to slow down.  Now the wonderful world of weather is telling us to expect close to 90degrees this Saturday.  SATURDAY?  With 80s in between.  Great.  Put some majorly intense sun and heat onto those already crazy weeds and grasses, and it will be time to dig out mazes to find the plots.

Oh, and part of my job during all this moisture was to figure out where all the leaks are in our buildings, then try to plug them – hahaha.  It was easy to see where it was leaking, but not so easy to find a dry day to get out (or on top) and fix them.  Now that we will have drier weather, I have become a hurry up and get it done Lady.  Sure.  Two fake knees, 1-1/2 fake shoulders, one fake foot, ½ an index finger, and osteoarthritis up the wazoo – YOU GO GIRL!  Not!  If anyone tries to tell me that my joints don’t feel the changes in the weather, I will pop them in the nose. 

This old body got used to the dry, arid, comfortability of our beautiful Colorado.  Now every step I take and every move I make has a corresponding snap, crackle, or pop to it.  Oh, and let’s not discuss the getting down and trying to get back up again situation (yes, my dear friends who have seen me do this in action, you may laugh hysterically now), shall we.

So Wisconsin, you can have your floody spring back.  I want my dryer Colorado and I am not willing to compromise!

I am leaving you in this post with a perfect picture that my cousin sent me.  It totally sums up this spring for me:

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WHAT ABOUT THE REST OF US?

I just opened another email about food, and I have had it!  Why are all of these beautiful dishes designed for master cooks?  Shaved asparagus salad – really?!

I love asparagus but NEVER thought of shaving it. I didn’t know it was that hairy.  Are they just talking about a trim or remove the entire beard – and where is it?

Seriously, who has the time, techniques, and of course, tools to make all this stuff?  If I can’t put it all together in one bowl and in less than thirty minutes, it ain’t gonna happen!

I don’t mind cooking or baking; I just don’t like to spend a ton of time on it.  My sister, on the other hand, finds it her perfect hobby.  Now, I don’t envy her or her hobby; but why am I always the taste tester?  No wonder I can’t lose any weight.  I will do great all week, and then she turns into a bake-a-holic on the weekend, and all I just lost comes back to visit – grr!

I love Martha Stewart’s stuff, and I know that once-upon-a-time in her life, she was a fabulous cook.  That is how she became who she is and KUDOS to her for it.  I, however, do not have that passion.  I am thrilled with myself when I can make pizza pockets with my sandwich maker:

  • layout already made bread,
  • fill it with something,
  • put the top piece on,
  • close the lid and ta-da, sandwich!

That is my gourmet cooking ability.  I like to make homemade fudge and angel food candy at Christmas.  I also have an excellent recipe for homemade granola, and ratatouille and that is about it.  Everything else better be a mix, can, or noodle dish, or it won’t get done.  I have begone experimenting with slow cookers and insta-pots.  So far, so good.  I like the idea of just throwing it all into one pot, turn it on, and let it go.  No muss, no fuss!

So, here’s to the not-so-great cooks out there that agree with me.  I love to eat. I just hate to mess with it.  Oh, and my most favorite way to get my food is fresh from our gardens.  Nothing better than pulling a fresh tomato or cuc right from the vine and munching – yum!

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I CUT HER LOOSE – LOOK OUT!

This last weekend I finally cut my sister loose and let her play in the dirt.  There are two big things in her life that bring her great joy:

  1. Playing in the kitchen because she has a passion for cooking.  
  2. Playing in the dirt, in this case it is starting seeds. 

I brought all the grow lights, heat pads, and various other seed starting items up from the shed.  It took her about two days to get “her” areas set up.  Yes, they are “her” areas as it is her job to do the starts.  My task now is to design all the plot areas on our little farm and what will go in where.

If you think about it I got shafted in this deal.  All her job is done in the house and in just 2 places:

  • Her porch (it is hers because that is where she can smoke and contemplate life issues).
  • Her kitchen (yes, I can cook in there too, but it is mostly just warming stuff for me).

I am better with the computer than she is, so I created some charts.  The first is centered around seed starting and maintaining the starts until transplant time – this is Spring.  The second I labeled Summer.  This will be my turn to track things.  It will have when and where I put in the transplants.  It will also have all my direct sowing information. 

This will be the first year in many, many years that we actually have some kind of handle on our gardens.  Too many disasters have stretched out too long for us to properly concentrate on the gardens.  The only bummer is that my body is only a fraction of what it was 10+ years ago.  Simple things like getting down on the ground (my favorite place to work on plots) and getting back up again take enormous effort.  Fake knee and shoulder joints, massive surgeries for my major joints, and replacement parts add to my dismay.  You would think they could come up with something like the Bionic Woman for replacement parts by now?

Yes youngsters, that was a real TV series, and yes oldsters, I watched it.

What a wonder it would be if I could just pull weeds stronger, faster.  I could pull my garden carts without major issues.  Best of all, I could get down on the ground and back up again, without looking like a Flamingo on ice (not a pretty sight but very funny to watch – oh, and don’t get me laughing or I will NEVER get up!).

My major task over the last 20 years is to make life easier and not harder.  So why does life want to throw a wrench into my ideas every time I turn around?  She is so wicked that way.  Wish me luck on my endeavors this year.  Maybe we will finally have a great fall harvest.  I will let you know how it goes.

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I HAVE TO TIE MY SISTER DOWN.

She is only allowed to be hands-free when she goes to work or is in the kitchen.  Our seed orders are coming in, and I gave her a new “toy” this year, a seed planning, planting guide.  My BIG mistake!

Dirt is in our souls.  We grew up on a farm and will (hopefully) die on a farm.  With that said, we both share particular duties on our little patch of heaven.  She is in charge of the “starting,” and I am in charge of the transplanting and keep it running.

We go through the same mess every year.  She gets the garden bug way too early, and then I am last minute slamming things in wherever I can find the room, so they don’t die.  She gets them started far too early, and we have flowers appearing before the last frost is done.  If I don’t get them in somewhere (fast), we could lose them.  This year I have decided to tie her down to get-our-ducks-in-a-row!

She has specific orders NOT to start any seeds until our new cheat-sheet guidelines say so.  (Got it free from a fellow blogger/grower here in Colorado.)  Even though they were developed by a “foothillser,” and we are plains people, it is all Colorado.  Mountains would be very different, but the foothills are close enough. 

According to the charts, she should not be starting anything until the end of February.  Then, the only ones to start at that time are the long-term veggies.  The rest is not to be started until mid-March, and it is killing her!

I told her that she could play with her seed starter, soil mix to her heart’s content.  But she must leave the seeds in their packets!  At least the new charts are keeping her busy.  She has to list all the packets and the standard info on them.  Oh, and she also has to have them sorted by category, as well as alphabetical.  Hee hee, I can be mean when I want to.

In the meantime, I am mapping out all of our plots and planting spaces.  I am also revamping our backyard double plots into a mini-greenhouse.  I want to move our starts out there when they start getting into the hardening-off stages.  The side walls will be rollups, so I won’t have to move anything, just open the sides and let in the sun, air, and whatever.  I will try to remember to get pics as I go to share here.

I think my plan will work as long as she does not start setting seeds in the middle of the night (yes, we do wake up at all hours of the night – it’s the age curse).  I check her fingernails when I get up to make sure she isn’t trying to sneak a seed or two in.  Sisters?!?

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OUT ALREADY?

I realize that everything last year was off whack, but I thought I could count on somethings remaining normal.  Nope.

Our seed catalogs usually start showing up around October or November.  I understand that anything that had to do with the mail was going to be late.  What I was not expecting was for our catalogs to already be out of seeds?

How can this be?  We just started getting the catalogs in late December.  I assumed that most other garden lovers were also going to have delays.  Apparently, there are a bunch of sneaky-snakes out there that didn’t wait for their catalogs; they just went right to their favorite websites and ordered ahead – grr!

What is with garden planners?  Holy crap!  There are hundreds of them out there on the internet and material world. 

  • Some are free to sign up for their email. 
  • Some cost minimal.
  • Some go as far as making them a whole book.

I currently have five different ones that I have saved, bought, downloaded, and/or created.  One of my first goals this new 2021 year is to get something that actually works – AND HELPS – me.  The last 6-10 years have had one terrible omen after another.  I refuse to listen to them anymore.  This year WILL be a winner in our gardens, and I will figure out how.  Come hell or high-water or tornado!

On a side note, I just realized that the movie “I Robot” is supposed to be what the year 2035 looks like.  This is now less than 15 years away.  Between that and the film “Runaway”, I have decided that there will NEVER be robots tending my gardens.  At least not while I am still alive.

Happy Gardening!

(Many thanks to some very talented – and funny – cartoonists!)

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UNBELIEVABLE! REALLY?

The very first day of the brand new year, and we get a fox!  Damn! 

We just got a new batch of chickens from a dear friend for my sister’s birthday. It’s the first time we have had a flock in the last five years.  Things just seemed to be one issue after another, so there was never time to spend on a new batch-o-birds. 

They came over on 12/27/20 with twelve birds, eleven hens, and a rooster. It’s a beautiful colorful mix of babes.  Just to hear them clucking around, and the rooster crowing again filled us with hope for the new year. 

Usually, when you have any newbie animals, it takes time for them to acclimate before providing anything; but these girls were up for the change and gave us our first two fresh eggs the very first day.  Woohoo – an excellent sign for a new year, right?  Wrong.

This morning at 4 a.m., my sister hears the rooster going nuts in the barn.  She grabs a flashlight, throws on her slippers (note, we still have some snow on the ground), and runs out there to find our rooster dismembered.  Proof positive of a fox in the henhouse.  JERK!  We have not even had them a full week.

AND IT’S THE VERY FIRST DAY OF A NEW YEAR – REALLY?!?

I just finished a nice post on my other blog (https://lifelessonslived.com/ ) about how I will simplify things this year to get more done, and then this happens.  We spend a month shearing and prepping our chicken coup in hopes of finally getting newbies in 2021. 

  • New wire.
  • New roofing.
  • New bedding.
  • Clean up and fixed all nesting boxes.
  • Shearing up any/all holes, gaps, or possible access spots.

All this, and yet the fox won.   I was not even sure we still had them near us since we have not had anything for them to pick-off in years?

We are farmer/gardeners at heart; it’s how we grew up.  We believe in live and let live, and everything happens for a reason – HOWEVER – this one’s got me baffled.  Why us?  Why the first day of a new year?  Why in less than a week?

I never believed in trapping before, and it would be hard with all our barn cats, but I am seriously debating it now!  The monsters have tons of rabbits, pigeons, prairie dogs, and rats around here to get food – STAY AWAY FROM OUR CHICKENS.

Happy New Year to us; we get to spend the day figuring out how the beastie got in and shear it up before it (they?) comes back again. 

Oh, Happy New Year to us!

(Time to call in the Winchester boys for help!)

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THAT FEELING OF FALL.

This post is just short and sweet.  This picture truly says fall to me:

Image by Larisa Koshkina from Pixabay

Not necessarily Halloween, but you get the feeling it’s close.  Pixabay.com has been a great source of inspiration for me over the last several years.  They send things to my email that they think I might appreciate and this one hit the nail on the head.  They even do it free, mostly.  Some creators expect payment before you can download, but most you can, as they call it, buying the creator a cup of coffee.  In other words, you can donate to their efforts, but you don’t have to, and the download is free.  This one was a freebie, but I did donate a dollar toward a cup of coffee.

I use a lot of these Pixabay pics in my writings.  I can usually find exactly what my writing mood is in there.  No, I am not affiliated or receive any type of payment for this share.  I just love sharing stuff that is either free or fun, in this case both.  I hope you take a moment to go visit them and view all the great stuff.  If, for nothing else, to get a good feeling in these trying times.  Enjoy!

 

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A JACK?

I wonder if it will ever stop?  I know that the state (or county) put a sign on east-bound I-76 just before our exit that states “services next exit “, but it is wrong-sort of.

Yes, there are the services listed, however; when you get to the bottom of the off-ramp (which just happens to be right by our little farm), there is nothing to tell anyone just where to go for those services.  It is another three miles to those services.  Oh, and at the bottom of the off ramp, there is nothing telling them which direction to turn!

This has been a problem for us since the day we moved onto the farm (over 20 years ago now).  I swear, everybody and their brother has to ask us something – or for something:

  • “Can you tell me where such-and-such is?”
  • “I ran out of gas, do you by chance have any to help me get to a gas station?”
  • “Can you tell me where the nearest gas station is?”

Those three questions are the most asked, but we also have some real beauties that have happened:

  • An elderly couple in a big, beautiful Caddy pulled into our driveway.  The man got out and rang our doorbell.  “I am sorry to bother you,” he said, “ but my wife really needs to use a bathroom.  Could she possibly use yours?”  Yes, we said yes.
  • While enjoying our Friday night cocktails one comfortable summer evening, we watched a Motorcyclist come down the off-ramp.  A pretty standard practice there as tons of Cyclists have done it in the past and continue to do so today.  This one was a bit different.  He got off the bike (which was not small by a long shot), pulled out his cane, and proceeded to step back to stretch his legs.  That’s when it happened. Just as he stepped clear of the motorcycle, it fell over.  He tried to catch it but it was obviously more than he could possibly handle. We got up from our comfortable porch chairs, walked across the highway over to him at the off ramp, and proceeded to lift his motorcycle back up for him.  He thanked us endlessly and even offered us money (we declined) and said he was just on his way back to Denver from Sturgis (he went to the bike rally up there) and just needed a bit of a break.  We kindly suggested he may want to look into getting a tric (tricycle motorcycle).  We all had a nice laugh and he went on his way.

It should also be noted that I am a mom that became a very light sleeper when I had my child.  I have never been able to sleep long or sound for a full eight-hours after I had her possibly because she was born with a disability, possibly just because it is a mom thing?  This last Friday proved, once again, that it is a very good thing.

It was around 11:30 p.m. Friday night, and the dogs started barking weirdly.  They have several types of bark, but there is one that signals there is something really strange outside.  This bark was one of those types.

They woke me and I went to the windows to see what was up.  Then I saw the vehicle lights which were aimed at our vehicles.  Definitely not a good sign!

There are several reasons people with vehicles are in front of our home in the middle of the night:

  1. Gotta pee.  This is by-far the biggest reason.
  2. Dog has got to pee. 
  3. Check directions.  Since the road signs do not clearly tell drivers where to go, they will drive by several times, stop, review maps or GPS and then figure it out.
  4. Change drivers because the current one is starting to drift off.

But, I have to say, this one was a first:

  • As I was walking toward the widow where our vehicles are parked, I could see the top of someone’s head bobbing toward our door.  The window was open because the night was cool and I leaned over and yelled out, “What do you want?”  The poor kid jumped a foot! (Ok, I have to be honest and say that this made me laugh-internally- even though I was mad for the middle of the night disturbance.)  He then proceeded to apologize profusely for the intrusion, but he/they had a bad flat tire.  He asked if I had a jack.  My first reflex action was “NO!!”  I told him there was a garage just on the other side of the overpass and he could go there.  (I knew full well that they were not open after 5p.m. any day, so the kid(s) would have to wait till morning.  Serves them right for bugging me in the middle of the night!)  After several more minutes of begging, offering the $20 he had for my trouble, and swearing he was not up to something bad; the mom in me gave in.  I told him to pull in by my car and I went out to help.  The tire was shredded so they must have been riding on it for a while. I got the jack out of my car, they proceeded to replace the tire and then the little fart offered the $20 again.  I said no and then he asked if it was OK to give me a hug?  He was going to visit he grandparents and I remined him of them.  I caved in and then wished them a safe trip.  Through all of this my sister, who fell asleep on the couch, did not budge – JERK!

I shared the story with my sister and we both laughed.  Then she said was that she was proud I tried to not help them as we have sworn to each other to quit doing it.  We have had too many bad experiences with strangers in the last 10 years and are trying to quit being so nice.  The problem is, we were not raised that way.  Our parents raised us with do unto others and help those that cannot help themselves growing up so its embedded in our D.N.A.

I guess that with the state of things in the U.S. right now, maybe this little act of kindness is good thing and possibly even appreciated?  A jack?  In the middle of the night?  Man, I have gotten soft!

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MY 7-DWARF’S STRIKE AGAIN!

Short, squatty, dumpy, frumpy, snarky, gimpy, and yuck.  Yep, those little buggers in me are at it again.  First, it was the extreme heat that got them rumbling.  Then came the smoke from the Colorado fires.  Next was the smoke from the California fires.   Roll them all together, and my seven dwarfs strike again!

It’s been hard enough trying to keep the gardens going with the sun trying to bake them to a crisp, but the lack of rain has made it worse.  We are lucky and have our own well (we had it tested when we moved in – great water and a very full stash – yea!), but we still try to collect all the rainwater we can get our hands-on.  This year the tank fills have been few-and-far-between.

If you have been following me, you know I am an old-ish fart that has had too many major surgeries for such a young age.  Getting around now is nothing like getting around in my twenties.  Simple things like oh say, breathing, can be a challenge on a regular hot day.  Throw in smoke clouds so thick they block out the sun to an orange type of glow, and it becomes a battle.

Everything is being “spot” watered now.  I only use the sprinkler once a week in select areas.  The spot (hand) watering takes me about 3-4 times longer than my regular watering system.  The normal system takes me about 4-5 hours.  Currently, I start at about 5:00 a.m. and do not finish until around noon.  It is also hard on our well-pump, and that baby is only six years old.  I can feel her pain!

The final straw was this morning.  Working about my regular watering routine, I reached the greenhouse area.  We still don’t have a roof (thank you Colorado winds from hell, oh, and the tornado of 2018), but the plots are doing great.  This is the one place I actually laid out drip lines, AND THEY WORK!  I turn on the water line to this area, make sure my splitters are watering all my beautiful veggies first, and then proceed to wander the plot rows to see how everyone is doing. (Yes – every ”one” as I talk to them all just like I talk to humans.) 

I watch closely for anybody starting to turn color.  My method is to clear them out a bit so I can keep an eye on them every day.  When they get to just the right color, I nab them for our dinner table.  (If tons are coming in at once, they become canned, dried, or frozen foods)  I had a beauty of a tomato coming in.  Yesterday it was just about ready, but nope, I waited one more day.  I squatted down to pluck my perfect tomato (oh, by the way, it is about the size of a softball), and my fingers were covered in tomato guts-YUCK!!  DAMN MICE!!! 

We have farm cats all over the place, and I have yet to see them catch a single mouse.  The greenhouse is wide open, so they can come and go as they please.  They please to take a dump in there on occasion, but can’t seem to catch a mouse?  So, I wandered back to the house and got a trap.  It is set with peanut butter (favorite mouse food, in case you didn’t know) and sitting right now just under my poor beautiful tomato.  I swear, if I catch that stinking mouse, I will dangle it by the cat’s noses then feed it to the dogs! 

Maybe I need to buy some rubber snakes to set in my tomato bushes?  Then I can scare off the mice and myself when my old-ish age makes me forget that I placed them there.

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