Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Mouse Whisperer

Goat chow is kept in the barn in a big, blue industrial barrel with a lid.  It has taken years, but mice have finally chewed a small hole up at the rim for access.  The girls get a nighty-night treat of a few mouthfuls of grain as an incentive to go in their stalls.  For some time now, almost every evening I find two or three (or more) mice in the barrel.  Once in, they can't get out again.  At first when I'd lift the lid, the mice would become hysterical and race around and around like it was a hippodrome.  Not about to try to catch them with my hands, with great effort and many misses, I'd scoop them up one at a time in a feed bowl and fling them out to freedom.  (The Flying Wallendas fly again!)  One thing is certain, mice are not stupid. The past few nights, I lift the lid, there are the mice, and I reach in with the bowl.  Surprisingly, the little creatures do not panic anymore.  They do not run around, but wait for the elevator to arrive, then actually climb into the bowl for a ride to the top.  On their own, they've evidently decided I mean them no harm.  I guess I can add Mouse Whisperer to my resume.  There probably won't be a big demand for my services, but it's always nice to expand one's repertoire.

Rain came again in the afternoon. 

Monday, November 20, 2017

At Last

A large breakfast crowd had gathered when I walked out the door (tap the picture to enlarge), muttering to themselves and ruffling their feathers.  Monarchs could not have marched more regally than the strutting toms toward the feeding station.  The hens, however, broke ranks when I threw down the seed and rushed to get there first.  It's quite a way to start the day.  One thing is for sure:  I dasn't run out of birdseed.

It seemed very strange to be walking down to the barn without a bucket yesterday.  Sheila has been giving not more than a couple of cups of milk a day and it is time to let her dry up.  I'll milk her maybe every other day for a week or so to help that process.  But, as I said, after all these years, not having a bucket and really working in the morning was very different.

Determined to make some advance toward the holiday, the kitchen seemed the most likely place to begin.  Groceries were sorted and a collection station was set up in the round room for Thursday's meal.  It helps to have everything in one place.  Progress was somewhat slowed by the Vikings vs. Rams football game, as well as the NASCAR race, and I went from kitchen to chair to catch up on scores and placements.  I'd made significant inroads on the kitchen when Pete called and said he'd like to come up, and had finished by the time he got here.  He tried to suppress a shudder when I offered him Limburger cheese or liverwurst; like I said, scarred for life.  Pete is neither a football nor race car fan, but he was tolerant when I'd periodically check on both.  (The Vikings kicked butt!)

Celeste has her babies on the move again.  I hear one being brought down the hall now, and I stepped on baby bear this morning.  An owl is hooting just outside in the dark.  These are the sounds of Farview in the morning.

What with some progress at last and a good visit with my Kid, it was a good day.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Almost Pleasant

I girded my loins (whatever that means) and bit the bullet and reluctantly drove to town.  Not just town, but down to Cameron Park!  The day was mild, traffic was light, and the hills were punctuated with pools of gold and spires of red.  Most of the potholes had been filled so I wasn't constantly swerving.  Winding, hilly Bucks Bar can be a beautiful drive when conditions are right.

I anticipated a grim crowd of tense customers fighting over turkeys and cranberries at the store.  (When it comes to shopping, I always anticipate the worst.)  I wonder if the store hadn't put something in the air conditioner, because, while there was a pre-holiday crowd, there were smiling faces and an exchange of pleasantries everywhere.  The nice man at the counter went in the back and found a 23-pound turkey for me.  It's my theory that it's too much work to roast a dinky 12-pounder.  Half the fun of Thanksgiving dinner is doling out leftovers, keeping plenty for self.  Imagine my surprise when I found I was actually having a good time.  And best of all, the store had not only liverwurst, but Limburger cheese!  I haven't been able to find that stinky, stinky cheese for years, and I love it.  Back when the Kids were small and I wanted a little peace and quiet, I would open a package of Limburger and the house would immediately empty.  I probably scarred the Kids for life.

I've made the same Thanksgiving menu for probably fifty years (don't mess with success).  While I took the precaution of making a list, I could probably shop for ingredients in my sleep.  I was in and out of the store in next to no time and was home well before the witching hour (4:30).

By sundown, bags and bags of food had been unloaded from the truck (you don't want to see my kitchen counters at the moment), I'd had a bit of a sit-down, and was ready to put the girls to bed.  As much as I detest shopping, I'd have to say that my outing yesterday was almost pleasurable.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Slowly, Slowly

It would be preferable to have steady, if slow, progress toward the holiday instead of the fits and starts I'm experiencing.  Ah, well, at least I'm moving forward, even at a snail's pace..

It was a lovely, crisp fall morning and the goat pen is entirely carpeted in green once again.  Those barely visible patches of grass are now about three inches tall and growing.  The weather was so nice that I was able to take more time and do a better job of cleaning the stalls.  Another couple of dewy mornings and the girls' hooves will be soft enough for a pedicure.

I received a surprise call from another brother-in-law yesterday with an invitation to meet for an early dinner at Poor Red's.  This is the same BIL who had advised me not to get a milk cow when I started talking livestock because I'd be so tied down to the animal's routine.  Well, I didn't get a cow, but I know he understood when I had to reluctantly refuse the invitation because the girls' bedtime is so early these days.  I'd gotten a late start getting ready to go shopping and had to postpone the trip because I couldn't have made it back by 4:30.  Be advised:  goats will put a crimp in your social life.

All of Celeste's foster babies have been transported from the bedroom back to the living room, one at a time and loudly.  As I don't walk around the living room with bare feet, I won't be stepping on a little furry body in the dark for awhile. 

Friday, November 17, 2017

Progress Report

The thing about a progress report is that there should have been some progress made, or at least have a good excuse ready.  I have neither.

It poured rain all day.  Once again I appreciated that ridiculous piggy hat with ear flaps that kept my head dry during barn chores.  I left the big room open for the girls.  Between the rain and the wind, the play yard was wet and they would have been miserable instead of just cranky.

Back at the house, I got Stove cranked up, changed to a dry jacket, and sat down to warm up.  Just the act of sitting down is an invitation to Celeste.  She jumped into my lap; I was doomed and we spent the day napping off and on.

I hope to have a better report tomorrow.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Why, Celeste?

Sometimes Celeste does it in the daytime, but mostly at night after lights out, and I don't know why.  She wanders up and down the hall with one or another of the smallest soft toys like the bald hamster in her mouth, plaintively meowing the whole time.  Celeste has not had nor will ever have kittens, but it's as if she considers them babies.  At first I thought she was perhaps mourning over them, but now I wonder if she's singing to them as she carefully puts the little one in a safe place.  Ralph pounces on the toys, throws them in the air, and claws with his hind feet as if to disembowel the creature.  That is not Celeste's way.  Is some mothering instinct going on?  As I do so often with the animals, I wonder why.

It rained off and on most of yesterday.  I took advantage of a dry spell to bring more wood to the porch.  This isn't a particularly cold storm, but the dampness seeps into the house.  Thanks to Clay, there is a nice mix of oak and cedar to keep Stove happy.  I got a pretty good start on the glassware once Stove got going.  There are dozens of wine glasses to be washed.  Camille asked why so many when we are not a wine-drinking family (usually only at Thanksgiving).  There is no good answer.  It probably goes back to my theory that if one is good, more is better.  Steve built a long sideboard in the dining room, and that doesn't count all the glasses in the liquor armoire.  (I'm not going to mention the six or so complete sets of dishes in the other cupboard.  Steve used to call me the Imelda Marcos of dishes.)

The brunt of the storm hit after dark and the girls were tucked away in the barn.  The bedroom is on the south end of the house and, as I've said before, it's like being on the prow of a ship with the wind howling and rain banging on the windows.  I am so very glad I got the covers up on the barn in time.

It is still dark this morning and Celeste is coming down the hall with her mouth full...again.  Why, Celeste?

Wednesday, November 15, 2017


Mexican food has become an anniversary tradition for me.  It began because Steve had asked me what I'd like, and I said Chinese, but then changed my mind because I knew he liked Mexican better.  I've gone with friends and I've gone alone, but I go out for a Mexican lunch every November.  Cam accepted an impromptu invitation and we met at a restaurant new to me.  My benchmark for that cuisine is chile verde, and that which I enjoyed yesterday was excellent.  The problem with that system is, if the chile is not good, I don't go back, and if it is, that is all I ever order.  I once attended a week-long seminar out of town; on the second day I went to a Mexican restaurant.  Their chile verde was very good and I ended up returning for the same meal four days in a row.  You know you're in a rut when the waiter asks, "The usual?"

Another day of changing from work bibbies to go-to-town clothes and back again was wearing.  Just going to town is wearing, no matter how pleasurable the reason.  I spent what was left of the afternoon just fiddlefarting around.  That's a term my daddy used, and I learned in later years that it had, in fact, originated in east Texas, where he was from.  (I would really like to study lexicology.)

Today I need to knuckle down and start getting the house ready for company.  At last count, there were eight, possibly nine, coming up for Thanksgiving.  I'll leave the dusting for last.