Archive for March, 2017

Calendar Girl

When I was in my 20’s, I remembered nearly everything. In my 30’s and early 40’s, raising a family meant keeping a large wipe-off board on front the fridge, along with a small calendar that I  tucked into my purse, with almost every square filled in. Things are not nearly as busy now, but the older I get, the more I tend to forget. One simply can’t live with sticky notes stuck all over the place. A couple of years ago, I decided to get with the program and use the calendar on my smart phone. Assuming (correctly) that I would somehow screw it up, I kept a duplicate of the calendar on my desk at work. I really liked the reminder that smart phone gave me each morning of any upcoming appointments, although I often forgot them by afternoon. Last year, I decided to let my fingers do the walking and went strictly with the electronic calendar. It was easy, and I had to use only the occasional sticky note glued to the steering wheel of my car or my desktop at work. All right, I’ll admit it:  OCCASIONALLY the bathroom mirror.  The dates for doctor and dentist appointments, vacations, birthdays, weddings, and lunches with friends were at my fingertips at any given moment. You might be surprised at how many things can be going on in the life of a simple Farm Woman. Still, life was good…until the phone died. It was not a “Gee, my phone is acting up and I should think about getting  a new one soon but perhaps I’ll wait until I can afford it” type of death. It was D-E-A-D. Deader than a doornail. Deader than disco. Deader than that dead skunk in the middle of the road. The phone experts were able to revive it enough to save my contacts’ numbers,  but the calendar was gone. I must admit, though, that ignorance is pretty blissful. With no stress of an upcoming schedule, life is simple again. I’m thinking that I should keep it that way. If I am a no-show at your birthday party or baby shower, please forgive me. I’m busy watching the grass grow and the chickens scratch. 

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Family ties and apple trees

  • Long long ago, when the thought of being a real Farm Woman was just a twinkle in my eye, we would visit my aunt and uncle’s farm in Michigan’s upper peninsula. Uncle Al always had plenty of advice and rules, the most important of which was not to eat the apples from the sour apple tree which grew next to the farm house. “You will get a bellyache for sure!” he warned us every visit. My cousin and I were not always known to be listeners or even rule followers, so we always climbed high up into the branches and ate as many of those apples as we dared. They were not even that good, but the thought of going against the rules seemed to sweeten them up a bit. Sure enough, by early evening, we would be holding our bellies and head to bed early, only to be giggling later with flashlights under the covers well into the night. We loved the times with our family at the big farmhouse table, passing around good food and listening to three different conversations going on at the same time. Fast forward a few years…well, more than a few years. Funny, or maybe not so funny, we are now the older generation. The earlier generations are sadly missed, and yet there are new faces around the table that we couldn’t imagine being without. The branches of the family continue to grow, just as the branches of that apple tree of long ago. The farm has been sold, so we now gather around a different family table, passing plates of delicious food. There are still three different conversations going on at once, so things don’t change much. Dear Uncle Al is 96 and in a nursing home, the last of the generation. He is not able to join us any more, and for that, we are sad, so we visited him with all the latest news. He sits quietly with his eyes closed, biding his time, and not saying much except to wonder why I didn’t bring my dad with me, forgetting that he has been gone for many years. He listened as Caroline, his great-granddaughter and I played the piano and to the sweet old woman who sang along to the songs even though she couldn’t remember the words. She didn’t care, and neither did we. I did get a small glimmer of the old days when I spoke to him of farm days, apple trees, and bellyaches. Remembering, he opened his eyes, laughed, and said “The years sure go by, don’t they?” Yes, Uncle. Yes, they do.

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Is it spring yet?

I don’t know why I am so anxious for spring to get here. It hasn’t been a particularly bad winter, nor do I want to wish my life away, but I am more than ready. The first pair of swans flew over the creek yesterday, and the mere sight of them gave me spring fever. The days have been warm enough to keep the door to the chicken coop open most of the time. By that, I mean the door to the fenced-in run, because the wild animals and birds are especially hungry this time of year and would like nothing better than a nice plump chicken for dinner. The snow in the south-facing run is starting to melt, especially where the sun hits, and the girls are glad to have a little dirt and mud to scratch in. If you read “The Farm Woman’s Guide to Raising Chickens Even When Your Husband Doesn’t Want Them”,  it explains that “fresh clean water is essential to the good health of your flock.” I read it. I live it. I haul fresh water daily, even adding a few drops of organic apple cider vinegar to ward off disease. Today, with the melting snow in the run, they were drinking out of a mud puddle mixed with old straw and probably  doo-doo.  They hadn’t touched their water. The path to the coop is getting wet, too, and probably in a week or two, I will have to start wearing rubber boots. As spring continues springing, the snow will melt before the frost is out of the ground, causing standing water and mud everywhere. Along my route home, I often see people park at the end of their driveways and walk in, wearing their own rubber boots and carrying their shoes. The last thing they want is to be stuck in the mud in the middle of the driveway. Although it is not a pretty time of the year, I love it because it means the long winter is finally over. When I was a kid, back in the olden days, they would give us a few days off from school and call it “Mud Vacation”. Country roads were not as well maintained way back when, and nobody wanted the school busses to get stuck. My friends and I, who lived in town with paved roads and sidewalks,  wore green rubber boots all spring, and would spend our mud vacations playing marbles in the slush and the puddles, our fingers freezing in the cold water. We eagerly awaited and reported the first green shoots of spring and watched for pussy willows to burst into fuzzy little catkins.  I don’t think there was a mom in the entire town who didn’t have a bouquet of pussy willows on her table each spring. Even at my age, I still watch for them, checking out the bush that grows right next to the coop every single day with the same excitement as when I was ten.  I also look for the cowslips, also known as marsh marigolds, which grow in the wetlands, their cheery yellow flowers telling us that spring is finally here, even though they are sometimes surrounded by snow. And speaking of snow, we can always expect a snowstorm or two well into March or even April, but this time, we know it won’t last. What I’m looking forward to the most this year is Daylight Savings Time. For some reason, I have awakened each morning at four bells, ever since the last time change. HE says it is because I fall asleep at eight. I say it is because you can’t teach an old Farm Woman new tricks. 

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