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Archive for January, 2013

All Cooped Up

Hello! My name is Tattletale, and The Farm Woman asked me to take her place this evening while she is under the electric blanket watching “Downton Abbey” and dreaming of having a downstairs maid.  She says that I am somewhat of a celebrity after writing a column last summer called “All My Chickens” and that people are asking when I am going to spill the beans again, so here it is.  I don’t know why she thinks that I know everything that goes on around here, because I spend most of my time keeping my feathers clean and minding my own business, but I will try to make an attempt to give you an update on what’s going on.  There’s lots of that cold white fluffy stuff on the ground and it seems like it keeps coming.  None of us like the cold and refuse to go outside and play. When the temperatures plummet, as January temperatures often do, the Farm Woman keeps our door closed and the heat lamp on.  Just imagine being all cooped up with a bunch of old biddies, silly young chicks, and a few frisky roosters. Oh, you say that I just described your family during the holidays? Welcome to my world, and how would you like it for a month or two during the winter?  They really drive me crazy, but that’s enough of that.  We lost old Baldy the Rooster last fall.  I guess chasing the young chicks around all summer finally did him in, so he’s buried next to the coop with a brick on top of his grave. The Farm Woman thinks that will prevent animals from digging him up. She’s always looking around for wolves and coyotes and such.  I think she is a bigger chicken than all of us.  Old Mum finally hatched that single egg and despite the Farm Woman’s prayers that it NOT be another rooster, it sure was. Even though all the hens got together and tried to vote  the men off the island, she says she will not eat any of her roosters for dinner and chooses to buy them from another farmer. Makes no sense to me, throwing good money after bad, but just pay me no mind because I’m just here scratching around and trying to mind my own business. We spend our days looking out the windows of the coop and waiting for spring when we can scratch for worms and bugs again. The Farm Woman gives us plenty of food, but it is just not the same.  She keeps two large feed bags in the coop and discovered the hard way that we often share our food with others.   One evening, she reached in the bag to scoop out some scratch and a mouse ran up her arm. She shrieked so loud that it that it frightened us and we all started cackling and clucking and I think one of the girls laid an egg right then and there.  All that drama over a little bitty mouse! Now she does a funny little dance every time she comes in by kicking at the bags and jumping back.  Kick…jump…kick…jump…put the hand in…pull the hand out. Kind of like a Farm Woman Hokey Pokey, if you know what I mean.  Speaking of drama, I’d better get back to fluffing my feathers and keeping an eye on things around here. Is it spring yet? I’m ready for it, how about you?

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Word of Mouth

I used to think that I was just an old-fashioned type of girl, but using the age-old woman’s prerogative, I have changed my mind.  Modern technology is simply amazing.   From my telephone, I can watch digitally restored old television shows and movies, play a game, or read a book. An entire library is literally at my fingertips.  All of this is done without plugging and unplugging or dragging a cord behind me.   Telephones were among the first electronic things to go  wireless. These days they are not only wireless, they have GPS systems in which a parent can just push a button and find out where their children are at all times.  I grew up in small-town Minnesota, where we played outside no matter what the season.  We thought that the cartoon character Dick Tracy had a very cool telephone on his wrist, but we never dreamed that in our lifetime there would be phones small enough to fit in our pockets.  My pockets were usually filled with jacknives, rocks, and artifacts anyway, and there wouldn’t have been much room for a phone.  Instead of dialing telephone numbers to reach us, our mothers hollered out the back door. No GPS was needed.  Once the mom hollered, the news would be passed around from yard to yard and street to street simply by word of mouth.  “Your mom is calling you!”  “You’d better get home, she sounds mad!”  would be heard throughout the neighborhood, especially around dinner time.  Pity the poor child whose mom actually had to come out and look for him!  I was always a little disappointed because our family ate at 5:00 p.m., which meant that I lost out on an extra hour of fun that the 6:00 p.m. eaters got to enjoy.  I also had a mom who believed her children should actually help with the dishes after dinner.  She washed while we dried and put them away.  I thought it totally unfair that I couldn’t eat and run back outside before the next group got called in for dinner.  As I grew from child to teenager, Mom developed a sixth sense and always seemed to find out if I was not where I was supposed to be or didn’t go where I said I was going.  I don’t know if I blinked or I twitched or just plain  looked guilty, but she could smell a fib a mile away.  Sometimes she would use the “surprise” method of interrogation and ask me how I liked the movie, knowing full well that I had sneaked into the “R” rated movie with my friends the night before, where we sat in the back row, hunched down and giggling and tossing popcorn at one another.   And how the heck did she find out that we stood on our tiptoes and tried to look into the VFW window to see just what went on in there?  Yes, I think she probably would have liked to have GPS in those days, with two spirited daughters to keep track of, but I think she did just fine using her own radar, because not much got past her.  I raised my own daughter with the same eagle eye because…well, just because.  I must confess that I didn’t show her my own high school yearbook until she was ready to graduate because underneath my senior picture there is a quote that says:   “I always tell my mother where I’m going and sometimes I go there.”  I didn’t want to give her any ideas.

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Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah

I was probably not Mrs. Johnson’s favorite student, but perhaps I was one of her more memorable ones.  Mrs. Johnson was one of our high school Home Economics teachers who taught sewing, knitting, crocheting, and all that crafty stuff. A tiny petite woman who always had a smile (or perhaps was gritting her teeth over students like me) probably would have forgotten me altogether if it weren’t for that darn zipper. Each of us was to make our own garment from start to finish in our junior year. Girls only, of course, because that’s just how it was back in those days.  The boys got to be somewhere in the school’s basement doing fun things like woodworking and auto repair. I was stuck on the second floor with that stupid zipper and a roomful of young women who actually liked to sew. I come from a long line of sewers. Perhaps I was switched at birth or some sort of genetic anomaly, but my project seemed to be doomed from the start. I couldn’t figure out where the bias was.  I didn’t even know what a bias was. I poked myself with the pins and left spots of blood on the fabric.  Being left-handed with only right-handed scissors available, my fabric resembled something worse than a monkey could do with one hand tied behind his back and a banana in the other.  Then there was that horrible zipper. Mine was extra long. The longest back-waist measurement Mrs. Johnson had ever seen, she said.  “You’re just so…..tall!” she said, after a pause.  I was a  5′ 9″ Gulliver who wanted to  do be anywhere else but in a room full of sew-crazy Lilliputians.  One by one, each girl finished her project.  There were “oohs” and “ahs” galore.  I grimly kept my nose to the grindstone of that special zipper foot that was supposed to be somehow attached to the sewing machine. Changing out a transmission down in the shop class was probably easier than figuring out how to attach that zipper foot. It would pop off midway through each attempt, breaking the thread and causing me to again rip out the seam. And again. And again.  I made about ten attempts to get it in.  That’s nine times ripping out that zipper, but one time getting it right.  Well, almost right.  It had a few puckers and was a little crooked, but it was in.  We were encouraged to wear our garments to show them off, and I wore mine for the first and last time the next day.  I had to borrow a sweater because the seams started coming apart, right around the area of the zipper.  Mrs. Johnson, bless her petite little heart, gave me a B that semester.  It was surely more than I deserved.  I know you are thinking that there has got to be a little “twist” to the end of this story.  Perhaps this Farm Woman now makes all of her own clothes or moonlights in a zipper factory, or something like that.   Well, all I can tell you is that there is a little sewing kit around here somewhere, and the last time a button needed to be sewn back on, HE did it!

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