Wednesday, August 16, 2017

One Day And Holding

The record of 48 consecutive days of 90 degrees and above down in the valley is finally at an end.  It was again a most pleasant day up here.  That's a holding pattern I could get used to.

Vultures are coming back in greater numbers now.  I took a hard look at those on the fence posts yesterday morning because they had black heads instead of the red I'm familiar with.  Turns out they are immature turkey vultures whose bald heads will turn red later.  There does not seem to be a ready way to determine sex, male and female not having particular characteristics.

The mice are beginning to come back from vacation.  There were two in the goats' feed barrel when I was filling the bucket yesterday.  Can you imagine how hard it is to scoop up a mouse who is racing around like Jimmie Johnson and all I have is a cottage cheese container?  I didn't want to terrify the little guys, but couldn't leave them in there, either.  It took some doing, but they were finally set free.  Bluejays are a constant down in the barn, and yesterday they were joined by some sort of sparrow or wren.  They've been absent for awhile. 

It was a good day to get some watering done, and this little guy was enjoying an evening bath.  He's somewhat larger than the barn birds.  He'd jump in, splash around, then sit on the edge and chirp with joy.  Doesn't take much to please a bird.

Beau had been doing some work for Cam and they stopped by for a drink as she was driving him home.  Honey is so funny (sounds like the title of a song).  She knows the routine and when she comes in, she immediately goes to the cookie box (milk bones) for a treat.

It was a good day.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Day Off

Five-thirty a.m. and the foxes are barking and yipping in the dark down along Perry Creek.  There really is a creek, not just the name of a road, and it evidently makes for good hunting.  Foxes have none of the melodic yodeling of the coyotes, and they definitely carry on longer until the neighborhood dogs get irritated and yell at them to shut up.  I haven't used or needed an alarm clock for years.

After a flurry of company, welcome as it was, I took yesterday off.  It was a perfect day to sit out on the deck with Bess and think pleasant thoughts, watching the turkeys and feeling the breeze.  The deltas had kicked in for real and the temperatures were in the low eighties; such a relief!  It won't last, but, gosh, it was so nice to get a break from the heat.  The cats came out of hiding, wherever they go when it's hot, and took turns sitting on my lap.  Ralph "made muffins," that rhythmic kneading that cats do, with such an intent, serious look on his face.  I had a chunk of polenta in the fridge, fried it crispy, and put a few drops of truffle oil to finish; heavenly!

There are things I could have done and should have done, and I don't feel one bit guilty about not doing any of them.  As my daddy would have said, "Put that in your pipe and smoke it!"

It was a good day.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Celebrate!

It seems the barn mice have all gone on vacation.  I haven't seen even one for several days.  I imagine they're all on a beach in the Bahamas, eating coconuts and sipping banana daiquiris while lying under the little pink paper umbrellas that usually come with a froo-froo drink, probably to celebrate the downfall of the Percy gang.  They haven't sent so much as a postcard.

Man, I've been living high on the hog the last couple of days.  First the KFC with Deb and Craig, and then Pete came up yesterday with all the fixings for a steak dinner that he cooked and plated:  filet mignon, grilled peaches, and a baby arugula, spinach, and tomato salad with almonds.  He introduced me to black truffle oil and now I wonder how I got along without it.  Now I understand the word umami.  My only contribution was an appetizer of batter-dipped and sauteed zucchini blossoms that Deb and Craig had brought from their garden.  (Forget the squash, I'd grow zucchini just for the blossoms!)

Two days of visits from my Kids is more than enough reason for celebration in my house.  Add in two great meals and I'm over the moon!

It was a good day.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Hard To Beat

Some days are good, start to finish.  I can't be the only one who looks for omens:  three green lights in a row means good luck; if Tessie is easy to milk, that's a good sign, too.  Yesterday and she and I were in and out of the barn in no time, so I was ready when Deb and Craig arrived.  My personal shoppers had filled my list from the "big box" store and brought KFC.  Those were just bonuses as the real treat was spending the day with these Kids.  After lunch, Craig napped and Deb and I had some one-on-one time to catch up.  The day just sped by and way too soon it was time to call out, "Love you!" as they drove away.

Later, Cam called.  I answered, saying, "You do realize I'm twelve years old right now?"  She said, "And just how did that happen?"  "Time travel.  I'm watching 'The Quiet Man.'"  Memories had come flooding in.  It came out in 1952, and I saw it at a drive-in with my sister and her four little kids in a station wagon.  My brother-in-law sold tickets so we got in free.  It took three tries before we actually saw the movie:  the first time it rained and the second time the show had sold out.  Finally we got in, got the kids settled in the back, and munched on popcorn that my sister had made at home (money was tight back then) and put in a big brown grocery bag.  I have seen this marvelous film with John Wayne and Maureen O'Hara countless times since then, never tire of it, and always go back to being twelve years old.

To put the frosting on the day's cake, Pete called and said he's coming up today to celebrate National Filet Mignon Day.  Now that's a holiday I'm happy to get behind!

As days go, yesterday was hard to beat.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Close Encounters

Had to make a hit-and-run trip to town yesterday (aarrgh).  I put on a clean shirt but wore the morning's bibbies and my barn shoes.  The little grocery store was crammed with people and there were long lines to check out.  The smiling young man behind me, meaning to be pleasant, said, "I see you've been working in the garden today."  "Umm, no, I raise goats," as if that would explain everything.  A conversation ensued regarding goats, and I mentioned I sometimes made cheese, chevre in particular.  "Oh, that's exciting!  Do you have a card?"  Reaching into my purse, I tried to give him a doctor's appointment card but finally dug out one of my business cards.  It would be nice to have another customer.

In the feed room last evening, I heard sounds again and was looking at the shelves, but there, on the other side of the window, was a mouse standing on his hind legs, pawing at the glass, trying to get through.  It was almost exactly as I'd imagined.

The last thing I do before going back to the house at night is check the wild thing's water pot.  I don't know if I rescued this little guy or ruined his sunset swim, but he was just floating there and I thought he was dead.  Nope.

This was not the morning to sleep in, so of course that's what I did.  Deb and Craig are coming up and I'm going to get caught with my dust rag down.  Again.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Oh Dear

All was quiet in the feed room in the morning and I was filled with smug satisfaction, thinking I'd finally outsmarted Thing and his wrecking crew.  Down in the barn, it was a little lonely because, although it was nice not to have to battle Percy and gang, not one mouse came out for breakfast or a slurp of milk.  I guess my feelings for the smallest residents at Farview depend on location, location, location.  There was only the borborygmus of the goats to keep me company.  I just love the word borborygmus (rumbling in the stomach and gut due to movement of gas) because it sounds just like what it is.  It is very important to hear this in horses, goats, cattle, etc., because a quiet gut is a sign of colic, which can be deadly.  Flatulence in humans is embarrassing, but when a goat passes gas, it's reassuring.  (I don't know how you can work this information into polite conversation, but feel free to use it should the occasion arise.)

In the afternoon I made a big batch of marinara sauce with tomatoes from Beau's garden.  Gardeners are known for optimism and enthusiasm and are incapable of planting one or two of anything, resulting in an overabundance of everything.  I'm about squash-ed out.  As much as I like them, there are just so many ways to fix a squash and I've done them all.  Too many tomatoes can always be made into sauce.  Back in the day, Joel and I would coordinate our gardens so we could plant different vegetables and trade off.  Offering zucchini to a person who had planted zucchini was taking coals to Newcastle.

At day's end when I was putting the kids to bed, I turned on the light in the feed room and, wouldn't you know it, heard the sound of small feet scurrying for cover.  Oh dear.  There weren't nearly as many as before, but still.  Now I don't know if Thing had chewed his way in, or if I'd trapped a few laggards in the feed room where they can't get to the feed or get out.  That's the stuff of nightmares.  Oh dear.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Heh Heh Heh!

I shut the connecting window into the feed room first thing yesterday, feeling delightfully evil as I did so.  All day I kept imagining little whiskered noses pressed against the glass like kids outside a toy store or, more likely, a bakery.  In between hearing "We Are The Champions" (Queen, 1977), I worried about retaliation.  I doubt that Thing is going to take this sitting down.  If he and his minions organize, I could be in big trouble.  One possible scenario is that they will chew through the wall and take revenge.  The best possible outcome, of course, is that they would all move on and become someone else's problem (dream on).  To be continued....

Shortly after returning from the barn (no squirrels!), my friend Harold called with an invitation to meet for lunch that I was happy to accept.  Funny how leaving home to do something fun with a friend is so different than a trip to the store or the doctor's office.  Harold is good company and lunch was delicious (and the cafe was air conditioned!).  It was a most pleasant break in the day.

The temperature has been climbing incrementally and the deck plants were gasping so watering was next on the to-do list.  Robert the Raider is evidently Mexican, as he discovered the epazote plant and broke stems and ate leaves, leaving that perennial herb a disaster.  My deck is so sad.  Every pot, and there are many, used to be filled with flowers that I changed with the seasons.  Now, I can't justify the money to provide feed for the squirrels.  The only thing left in most pots is garlic chives.  At least they do put out a pretty seed head and they're just about ready to bloom, so I have something to look forward to.  Chives are not to Robert's liking, heh heh heh.

Cam and Honey came by in late afternoon.  Celeste is my early warning signal.  She takes off like a shot at the first sound of an engine and doesn't come out of hiding until she hears that engine leave.  Ralph, on the other hand, is becoming quite social.  He has taken the measure of Honey, knows she's no threat, and even rubs against her when she lies down.  He's pretty funny, although I don't know how Honey feels about that.

I had to put the kids to bed by flashlight.  Counting beaks as I do every night, I discovered that the little red hen didn't make it.  Doggone it.  My flock is reduced to seven hens and Tzar Nicholas.  I see chicks in my future next spring.

It was a sad ending to a good day.