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Archive for September, 2013

Politics and Roosters

My hens, with the exception of a few angry squawks and pecks at each other, seem to get along fine, but the roosters are fighting again, or perhaps I should say still.  Not the little banty roosters. They are nice old fellows who rarely fight.  It’s the big strutting I’m-the-boss-and-you’re-not boys that are fighting.  They fight over territory.  They fight over food.  They fight over women.  I tell you, with all the arguing and fighting that has been going on, I feel like I’m living smack-dab in the middle of Washington D.C.! A Boy Named Sue (named because my Sweet Sue turned out to be a boy) is a warlord. He is big and strong and he knows it. He never bothers me, because sometimes I carry a big stick…..er….a broken fishing pole in my hand. I’ve never touched any of my chickens with it, but if I carry it in my hand and say “Jump!”, A Boy Named Sue will ask, “How high?” Or at least I think that is what he would say in chicken language. Big Boy used to be the boss, but Sue beat him bloody more than once, so I relegated Big Boy to the barn, which is an old garage adjoining the coop. I may have disrupted the pecking order, but I am soft-hearted and don’t like to see an animal hurt.  I don’t think he is too unhappy there.  He has food, water, and an occasional conjugal visit from the girls.  Big Boy seems to think that I am a giant chicken and is madly in love with me.  I know this because when I let him out of the barn every day, he makes romantic little clucking noises and offers me a lovely dinner of bugs and worms.  When it’s time to go in, I tap  my trusty  broken fishing pole on the ground. Big Boy says “Yes Ma’am!” in chicken language and hightails it into the barn.  I don’t often have to ask twice.  Peace has once again been restored, no chicken is bleeding, and all is right in the world.  At least it is all right in my little Farm Woman world, that is.  Too bad the rest of the world isn’t as peaceful and quiet. I’m thinking about taking my show on the road, starting with Washington D.C., which has more than its share of dumb clucks.   I would like to shake my broken fishing pole at all the “I’m-the-boss-and-you’re-not” Senators and say “Jump!”, and they would ask “How high?”  I would like to tap the ground in front of those strutting, feather-fluffing Representatives and say “Move it!” and they would answer “Yes, Ma’am!” I really think that a couple of middle-class Farm Women could get the budget balanced  in half the time with half the salary with only an occasional squawk and minimal pecking at each other.  Pardon me for speaking so frankly, but I think we could have all the poop shoveled out of that  coop in no time.

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Guaranteed

Harvest time ends what has been a mediocre gardening year for me.  We had a snowy spring, I had a late start, and summer must have been around here somewhere,  but I sure as heck don’t remember it being here very long, or perhaps I’m starting to get forgetful. I had (and still have) plenty of tomatoes, thanks to the little hoarding problem I have with tomato plants. Even in a bad year I have bushels. Last year I had so many cucumbers and zucchini that I gave them away by the sackful and this year, I had one. Not one plant, but one zucchini. The plants were smothered by the winter squash and pumpkin vines which took over half the garden. My cucumbers failed twice. The first batch didn’t come up and the next planting was taken over by the sugar snap peas that just wouldn’t quit.  I love those sweet crispy peas but sure did miss the cucumbers.  My sunflowers, which threatened to take over the garden last year and grew seven feet tall barely came up this year, and should bloom about the time we get our first heavy frost.  I planted my cabbage in black landscaping fabric, and they have thrived.  I have plenty of both red and green, and not even one of those ugly garden slugs which have plagued me in seasons past.  Now don’t laugh, because my years in the south will show here, but I really want to grow watermelon and sweet potatoes in my garden.  I have planted them before with my usual sense of eager anticipation, only to be disappointed every time.  This year, I planted six sweet potato plants and found room for them behind the extra tomatoes that I didn’t need but bought anyway.  The same day, I planted two yellow watermelon plants which “guaranteed the sweet taste of summer and sunshine”.  I always fall for that kind of stuff.  Although the vines took off, I soon lost them under the giant leaves of the Big Max pumpkins.  How could the doting grandmother of a baby named Max NOT buy those seeds?  When our usually hot August temperatures kept dipping into the 40’s, I threw up my hands and decided to give up on my heat-loving favorites.  Today I’ve been harvesting the remnants of my garden as there are frost warnings out for tonight.  I tossed a couple of immature pumpkins into the chicken bucket along with carrot tops, weeds, and soft tomatoes. As I dug up my little sweet potatoes I had to laugh. Instead of nice round potatoes, I had a few small roots shaped like carrots, some of them entwined together as if they were trying to keep warm. I know just how they feel.  I will steam the little darlings, skin and all, and toss them with butter, salt, and pepper. I would give you a taste, but there’s not enough in the entire harvest to make more than a meal or two. When I started slicing the immature pumpkins into chicken-sized pieces, I was surprised to discover that one was a yellow watermelon! It was as small as a softball and full of seeds, and I couldn’t resist taking a bite or two. On this Sunday afternoon with a nip of Fall in the air, I finally got to enjoy that sweet homegrown taste of summer and sunshine.

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The Quilt

I met my husband when I was a teenager, and married him before I  twenty. He had a southern accent, very attractive  beard and long curly hair and I tell you, he was hot!  Thirty-six years, a daughter, three moves and a grandson later, I am the hot one, but unfortunately, it comes in flashes.   His hair is much shorter and grayer now, but he still has the beard.  Every marriage has its ups and downs, and ours has thankfully been mostly up, and even though I often write true stories about HIM, he good-naturedly accepts it. I used to complain that he didn’t LISTEN, and now I complain that he doesn’t HEAR. You might think that both would have the same outcome, but they don’t.  Here is a recent example of something that is happening more frequently:  Me:  ” I fixed you a glass of ice for your tea.”  HIM:  “Humph. Well,  I just bought ice cream, too!”  I fear that this decrease in hearing could really become a problem in our later years, as perhaps the following could happen:  Me:  “Help, I’ve fallen and I can’t get up!”  HIM:  “Coffee? No thanks, I don’t need another cup!” Me: “(sigh).”  Once upon a time, we would dance the night away.  These days, we would be afraid that a revival of break dancing might cause us to break something while dancing so we stick to an occasional slow one.  We can still be party animals, though, as long as we are home by nine  o’clock, ten at the latest.  If you would have told me 36 years ago that I would someday be married to a grandpa, I would have laughed out loud. All joking aside, a marriage of many years is very comfortable. It is the kind of comfort you get by wrapping a soft old quilt around your shoulders on a chilly Minnesota evening.  The patchwork of years and memories and events are sewn together with threads of love and respect and friendship.  The threads must be strong as well as forgiving.  You can rub your fingers along the repairs, where perhaps at times the cloth wore thin. If you make the time and take the effort, the quilt can be as strong and comforting as ever.  I’d better stop with the romantic quilt analogy before HE thinks I have a terrible disease or something.  (With apologies to the poet Robert Browning)  Me:  “Grow old with me, Sweetheart, the best is yet to be.”  HIM:  ” What do you mean the guest has lost her key? We don’t have any guests. If we did, the house would be cleaner!”  Me:  “(sigh)”.

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