Tuesday, May 31, 2016


Give a goat a good meal and she'll forgive you anything.  After two days of dumping their cereal bowls, the girls were giving me really dirty looks.  It wasn't like they were starving, what with extra alfalfa and tons of yard growth to munch on, but they do like their chow.  Sweet cob doesn't have the extra protein, but it's heavier with molasses than lactating goat chow so it's a treat for the girls.  Goats, in case you didn't know, have a real sweet tooth.  As the last few days will attest, contrary to public opinion, goats do not eat any- or everything.  They are actually quite selective diners.  Every one of the girls ate every bite and licked the bowl yesterday, so I think I'm out of the doghouse for the time being.

Summer has landed with a thump and it's hard to acclimate in such a hurry.  Not that I'm overloaded in the first place, but heat drains me of what ambition I have.  After the worst part of the day, I did get the driveway, road front, and one side yard mowed in late afternoon.  One yard to go.  Whew.

It looked like earth's heat moved into the sky last evening.  It was a good (hot) day.

Monday, May 30, 2016

Come To Order

The regular (daily) meeting of the Breakfast Club was well attended yesterday.  He might be a bit difficult to see, but the grey tree squirrel raced the turkeys to the buffet and was sitting in the feeder cracking sunflower seeds.  This is the little guy with the growth or injury under his ear.  I was happy to see that it seems to be smaller and is no longer angry and red.  A crow joined the turkeys on the ground, and a ground squirrel, as well (also hard to see).  The word is out, "Come one, come all!"

The girls are not happy with me.  The last bag of goat chow purchased is bad feed.  It is either very old or moldy.  When the girls shunned it the first night's treat, I was hoping it was just unfamiliar, but no.  They've dumped their breakfast bowls for two days now.  It's a good indicator of how bad it is when the mice won't eat it, either.  The barrel is only so big, so I had to empty some of it to make room for the sweet cob I got yesterday.  It's still in the truck because the hand cart was down in the barn.  I need to get stocked up before surgery because I was told I won't be able to lift anything heavy for awhile.  The bags of feed are 50-75 pounds; I consider that heavy.  I'm hoping that the sweet cob will get me back in the girls' good graces this morning.  I definitely need redemption.

I am always amazed at how much water chickens need.  The eight pullets are still small, relatively speaking, but they drink a full gallon of water a day, and I've added that to the list of chores.  I've got to get out there and clip their wings.  I'm finding them on the roof of the Taj now.  Their small pen is covered with chicken wire so it's not critical at the moment, but it's better if they never learn they can fly before they're relocated in the big, open pen with their larger counterparts.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Knockin' Them Off

My to-do list is long, very long, and my approach is slow, very slow.  Seeing how good the west field looked, yesterday was "tackle the front yard" day.  This is "before" Fu and I made our rounds.  The white building by the power pole is barely visible.

Ta da!  Slightly different angle, but now the white building and even the goat barn can be seen.  The weeds are still two feet (or more) high in the lavender bed, but that's a job for another day.  I'll put it on the list.

Fu is earning his pay these days.  I'm knocking off one yard a day (I said I'm slow), and have two full yards and the driveway to go.  The backyard hasn't grown up much since the last mowing and so it doesn't count.

I'd rather mow than dust, so it was a good day.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Nothing Like It

I'm feelin' the love here and there's nothing like it.  Thanks for the good wishes.  Okay, that's enough of that stuff.

It's a squirrel invasion.  Even my standing in the open doorway did not dissuade this bold boy from enjoying the view from the porch.  As long as he stays away from the Talisman rose, I guess I'm good with that.
He probably felt safe knowing he was under the watchful eye of Shaddup, the lookout on duty in the top of the juniper bush.

It's said that music will soothe the savage breast, but I'm here to say that nothing will calm a troubled mind like working with animals, pulling weeds, or mowing on a lawn tractor.  Doesn't matter what's going on in your head or how late you might be for chores, you can't rush a goat.  They instinctually pick up on your vibes and get (dare I say it?) squirrely.  To maintain peace, it's necessary to slow down, take a deep breath, and calmly go about the business at hand, or both hands, as the case may be.

It was a beautiful day, but a little too warm to pull Fu out of the shed early on, so Bess and I went past the squirrels to pull weeds in the walkways and herb/peony bed.  We go out several times a day, so I was able to make some inroads.  I try not to look too far down the path because the amount of work ahead is somewhat daunting.

When the peak of the heat had passed, I fired up Fu Manchu and off we went.  We came to an abrupt halt, however, on the first pass when a wheel dropped into, yes, a squirrel burrow.  The rear wheels are the drive wheels and one was in the air spinning and useless.  Trying everything, and I mean everything, including trying to lift Fu up and out, I couldn't get the tractor to move.  I hated to admit it, but I needed some manpower.  With great reluctance, I put in a call to Beau.  I sure don't want to take advantage of his kindness or have him think I'm going to be a problem child on a regular basis.  He came immediately and was, with the same strength as with the battery, able to get Fu out of his rut.  Took him two minutes and I'd been futzing around for 15 by myself.  Oh well.  Around and around, mindless work on a lovely, warm afternoon with a light breeze blowing, there's nothing like it.  There is still plenty to do, but the west field looks like a park now.

This sunset was actually a couple of days ago (not a cloud in the sky yesterday), but it's still a fitting ending to a very good day.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Day To Day

"Angel Face" rose that was given to me when Steve died.  I've given it to others in memoriam as it seems so appropriate.  Not only is it beautiful, it has a wonderful, strong perfume.  I felt it was worth sharing.

Another knight rode to my rescue yesterday.  You know you live in the country when a guest comes up the drive on a big John Deere tractor.  Beau came to discuss a deal we've got going.  When I said I was going to take Fu's battery down to be checked, his response was, "I can do that."  The battery was still in the back of the pickup and had slid up to the cab.  Beau reached over and I told him it was really heavy.  I should have known better because that was taken as a challenge and the big show-off lifted it with one hand and carried it like that to the John Deere.  Men.

I've thought long and hard whether I should mention that I'll be having surgery soon for breast cancer, but since that will have a big impact on day-to-day life here, I've decided to take readers along on this adventure (I may have to skip a day or two on the blog, too).  I didn't tell my Kids for a month or so because I wanted to get a "road map" and know exactly what the next steps would be.  "Adventure" simply means a step-off into the unknown, and that's where I'm headed.  One of my biggest concerns has been my animals.  It isn't like goat-milkers are standing on street corners looking for work, ya know.  With propitious timing, Beau had asked me not too long ago if I'd teach him how to milk.  He and wife Katie had recently purchased two doelings and they'd been buying milk for the little ones from me.  The deal we'd been discussing was that he would tend the goats, milking and mucking stalls in exchange for all the product and some change until I can lift things again.  What a relief.  Cam will take care of Bessie Anne overnight (she can play with her friend Honey) and feed the chickens.  Ralph and Celeste will be fine on their own; they're indoor cats and will entertain each other.  Friends and family, what would I do without them?

My Kids have been incredibly supportive since they got the news.  Deb and Craig have insisted they will be my ride and companions the day of the in-and-out but day-long procedure.  Each of the others offered, but I've tried to lessen the impact on everyone; Deb doesn't take No for an answer, bless her.

If the battery held the charge, I've got a full day of mowing ahead today.  Fingers crossed!

Thursday, May 26, 2016

The Hay Man Cometh

I put in a call yesterday morning to see about a delivery of alfalfa.  I was down to the last bale and the bottom of the barrel of goat chow.  If I time it right, Patrick, a stalwart young man, will toss a bag of chow on the flatbed with the alfalfa.  He handles the 75 pounds of chow like they were a bag of potato chips, the same feed that I struggle mightily with to get out of my truck and into the shed.  Dave wasn't sure when the hay would be delivered, so it was a great relief to see the Mt. Aukum truck coming up the drive yesterday.  Ta da!  Patrick is the male equivalent of Chatty Cathy and I hear all about him, his woes and triumphs, and bits of news about others as he goes about bucking the bales off the flatbed.  He's a good-hearted guy and will stack the alfalfa no more than two bales high for me, three high being difficult for me to pull down, and he easily put the goat chow in the shed.  I'll deal with getting it down to the barn later.

A load of alfalfa is a crapshoot, depending on the time of year and where it was grown.  The last delivery was a disaster, all ten bales.  Nothing but loose stuff, impossible to pull off a flake to throw over the fence for the girls, and a good portion of each bale fell into the shed and was wasted.  Sometimes it's nothing but stems, not so good for the goats.  Patrick said this load was heavier than any he'd bucked in the past.  This could be a good thing, or it could mean the alfalfa was baled when wet and could go moldy.  One can hope.

He did me an extra favor by taking the battery out of Fu Manchu so I can get it tested today.  I have faced down large bobcats and rattlesnakes, but anything electric scares the snot out of me.  Laugh if you will, but I won't leave an extension cord plugged in once the appliance or whatever is disconnected because it's my theory that electricity will leak out the open end.  Batteries are also heavy so Patrick put it in the back of my truck so I'm ready to go.

It's a good day when the hay man cometh.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016


My tendency to procrastinate sometimes comes back to bite me.  Weeks ago I bought a new set of windshield wiper blades because the old ones were trashed.  And there they sit in pristine packages on the floor in the cab of the truck, waiting for me to install.  Yesterday I got caught on Bucks Bar Road in a sprinkle and then a downpour of rain.  Crum.  The old blades did their best with bits of rubber flying off.  Fortunately it was just a short cloudburst and I made it over the hill safely.  Guess what's high on my to-do list today.  Or not.

My cellphone and I do not keep the same hours.  Phone likes to sleep in.  Me, once my eyes open I'm out of bed in the morning and headed for coffee.  While waiting for the drip, drip, drip, I check the weather app to get an idea of what I'll be facing for the day.  As with many mornings, today I caught Phone not yet awake.  It gives me yesterday's report.  It comes slowly to face the day, sometimes giving me the right time and temp, but with the day before heading  (e.g., today is Wednesday, it says Tuesday.)  Ah, only an hour and a half late, Phone has finally wakened and knows where we are, with the correct time, day and hour.

One thing I've learned never to get caught without is cat litter.  I've never known two cats with such active digestive tracts.  I clean their box four to six times a day.  On what would have otherwise been a wasted trip to town (another story for another time), I stopped to pick up a jug of litter.  That puts me one ahead, but then...  I like the idea of the "lighter" litter (say that five times fast), but found it doesn't work as well and the cats didn't care for it either.

I've got to water the houseplants today or I'm going to get caught with a roomful of dead greenery.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

All Creatures Great and Small

Persistent Percy is living up to his name.  I've got to give the little guy credit, he doesn't give up.  I doubt there are many performing squirrels as they are not easy to train, and patience is not a squirrel's virtue.  He shows up at one grain pile and then another.  He endures a super soaking with warm milk and comes back for more.  I'll admit to a sneaking admiration for his persistence.

Either Pom-Pom's tail has regrown that ring of missing fur or he's gone to his great reward in Squirrel Heaven, as I haven't seen (or identified) him in some time.  They come and they go.

When Pete was here, one of the squirrels who live in and under the juniper bushes in front of the house started that oh-so-very irritating constant chirp.  I told Pete I often felt like going to the door and yelling, "Shut up!  Shut up-shut-up-shut up!"  He laughed.  It wasn't much after that when I heard Pete yelling, "Shut up!"  It really does get on one's nerves.  Google tells me that a group of squirrels is called a dray or scurry, but that squirrels are solitary animals and don't colonize.  Bet me!  That might apply to tree squirrels, but there are towns and cities, metropolises even, of ground squirrels here.  I take some satisfaction in revenge,  When the opening to one of the underground burrows gets big enough that one could lose a small dog in, I dump a big bag of used cat litter down it.  I know, gross, but it at least causes the offenders to move on and tunnel elsewhere.

Miss Muffet shows up regularly for breakfast, grabbing a fast bite and going to sit in her corner.  More youngsters are coming out, tiny little kids, not sure of the routine.  Older mice are quick to chastise if the babies try to take cuts in line.  It seems to be a fairly regimented society with acceptable rules of behavior.

The large "committee" (that's what a group of vultures is called when on the ground, and a "kettle" when in flight) of the big, beautiful birds has not come around for some time now.  I'm assuming they're still down in the Owens Valley.  It was a surprise yesterday to see one lone bird sunning on a post by the goat pen.  Rarely have I seen one bird by itself.

Celeste has finally forgiven me my sins and is a constant feature on my lap again.  Ralph has taken his cue from her and squeezes in regularly now.  Bessie has found her own way of dealing with the lack of space.  When I'm out of the chair, she jumps up (sometimes she has to take a running start) and will only grudgingly move over a tiny bit to make room for me.  I can't swear to it, but I think she gives a silent horse laugh to the cats as I perch on the edge with no lap left.

And so it goes with the residents of Farview Farm.

Monday, May 23, 2016

I Try

I don't know why, but I keep trying, and I'm not the only one.  My pitiful little lettuce bed has one again been decimated.  For the third time, the blankety-blank ground squirrels have come just as the lettuce is ready to pick, and they pick it.  Silly me.  Those pesky little guys have also started kicking dirt out of the flower pots around the deck.  It's possible they are doing some planting of their own (acorns?) or, worse, using the pots as latrines.  Either way, they're making a mess.  I'm afraid I might jinx the situation, but so far they've left my Talisman rose bush alone this year.

Taking advantage of an unexpected spurt of ambition (where did that come from?), I got a lot of housework done yesterday, as well as pulling a nice patch of weeds from the peony bed.  I've learned not to stay at that job to the point of pain, so pull a bit every time I go out the front door.  I'm a bit hampered by my constant companion, Bess, who comes to lie in the freshly turned earth right in front of me.  Maybe she's looking out for my best interests and/or my back.  The chickens love this time of year because, if they're the right kind of weeds (nontoxic), I throw armloads over into the chicken pen and make the little girls happy, happy, happy.  Since I can't let them free-range anymore, it's the next best thing.  I try.

After a pretty productive day (or destructive, depending on if you're a ground squirrel or a weed), sundown was a welcome sight.

It was a good day.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Game Called

Due to total confusion on my part (I hate when that happens), I messed up the message that yesterday's crew was called off because of rain.  I sure don't blame the Kids for not wanting to come a long way and run the risk of getting soaked.  The silly part of that is that is we never did get precipitation up here, but evidently they got dumped on down in the valley.  The good part is that I hadn't dusted yet.

There won't be a Triple Crown winner this year.  The as-yet unbeaten Nyquist came in third at Pimlico on a sloppy, sloppy track during the Preakness in Baltimore.  Horse races aren't called because of rain.

NASCAR races are a different ball game.  The All-Star race at Charlotte, NC, was delayed and delayed again due to a wet track.  By the time they got the green flag, I was out of TV time and didn't get to watch it.

"Hey, lady!  Give a guy a lift?"  More and more frequently I'm finding one or more turkeys hanging out in the back of the pickup.  It's pretty funny.  However, they drop their calling cards and that's not so funny when the guys throw bags of feed back there and I have to pull them out.  Eeeuw.

Out of the kindness of my heart, I'd been saving the weeds in the herb-slash-peony garden for the Kids.  Guess I'd better get out there today and start pulling.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Up In The Air

Thought for awhile yesterday that we would end up in Oz.  An icy-cold wind blew all day and blew hard, but we didn't go whirling away in the air so it's all good.  The sun would shine and then the sky would go black and I thought, "Well, we're for it now," but we got no rain.  This morning it's blue sky all over, although rain is predicted for this afternoon.  It's iffy.

Cam and Honey came by late in the day yesterday for a fun visit.  She'd had a couple of rough days and it was time for some R&R.  I'm always up for that.

Plans for today are up in the air.  I haven't heard who all are coming up, if they're coming up, or when.  I've planned a pot of soup for lunch, so I'll be prepared for one or two or the whole gang.  (But I still have to wave a dust rag around.)

Friday, May 20, 2016

Music In My Head

"You don't tug on Superman's cape.  You don't spit into the wind.  You don't pull the mask on that old Lone Ranger, and you don't mess around with Jim."  (Jim Croce, 1972)

Busy as usual with morning chores.  I'd finished milking and cleaning the stalls.  One of the last things I do down in the barn is empty the two-gallon bucket of goat droppings over the fence into the big paddock in a pile.  A welcome wind was cooling the high temps of the days before when I dumped the bucket.  Guess which part of the lyrics above came into my head and which way the wind was blowing.  That wasn't spit blowing back in my face.

There was a great advantage to growing up in a three-generation family.  My parents were late 1800's-early 1900s.  My sister was early 1920s, and me in 1940.  I had, besides many other things, the benefit of three eras of music.  Before television, we listened to the radio.  My parents loved to dance.  In fact, they met at a "tea dance."  There were ballrooms and hotel lounges with live music, bands and orchestras, for dancing everywhere, and tea dances were held in the afternoon.  People actually socialized face-to-face without electronics.  Good dancers were in high demand.  I learned the fox trot and waltzing and the Charleston as soon as I could walk; before, in fact, as my dad would dance with me in his arms long before I could walk.  My sister's music was swing in the Big Band era and during the war years I learned to jitterbug from the marines and sailors who called our place home when they were on leave before shipping out.  In the 1950s, rock-and-roll was the thing.  I'd bring my little radio to bed and listen to "Wolfman Jack" under the covers at night.  It cracks me up now to hear that music termed "classic."  When my Kids came along, there were radios in each of their rooms and it was a trip to walk down the hall and hear different music behind every door.  Black Sabbath and Aerosmith were favorites.  I've never been able to get into New Wave or heavy metal, no offense meant.

This morning I put on a tank top as I had yesterday, opened the door for Helper Dude who is here to do some weed whacking, felt a really cold wind and came back to put on a sweater.  I'll check to see which way that wind is blowing before I empty the bucket this morning.  I need a new song.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Dog-gone It

Fair warning, I am off on another rant.

I have had such problems with my neighbor's dogs running loose in the past, so much so that Animal Control is on speed dial.  Stray dogs do show up here now and then, but it's a one-time shot and they're gone.  When my neighbor's dogs get loose, my goats and chickens are simply too tempting for them to resist and up the hill they come.  When the Kids were here, I caught sight of two dogs racing across my driveway.  I made note of it but didn't think too much about it until a little later when Pete came rushing out the door, saying there were dogs at the chicken pen.  He chased them off and they went barreling down the hill to, you guessed it, my neighbor's yard.  Still thinking they might be strays, we watched to make sure the dogs didn't harass her livestock as they were at her horse stalls; I was going to give her a heads-up call if there was a problem.  But then she came strolling out and the dogs went to her.  Oh crum.

It had been such a long while since this has been an issue that I thought she had it all under control.  I'd love to let my chickens free range again, but there was always the worry that her pack would come back and kill them as they had in the past.  Yesterday Bessie frantically let me know we had unwanted critters on the property.  Bess is too old now to defend herself and if she runs too hard, her old legs pay the price afterward, so I left her yelling in the house and went out to check.  Son of a gun, there were the same two dogs harassing the chickens. 
The larger brown-and-white took off running, but the little black poodle-looking dog faced me down barking before finally going after the other.  My neighbor evidently saw me because only then she started yelling for the dogs.  She knew they were gone, and I knew she knew.

Doggone it, I don't want this to start up again.  I don't want to be on high alert.  I don't want to worry about Bessie Anne if she's outside and the dogs show up.  I don't want the goats or chickens panicked.  I don't want to call Animal Control.  I don't want to shoot the dogs, as Animal Control had advised in the past.  I don't want to get into another war with my neighbor.  I want peace on all fronts.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Partial Forgiveness

Celeste seemed to feel I'd been sufficiently punished (I'd certainly done enough groveling) and relented somewhat yesterday.  Once in the morning and again in the afternoon, she resumed coming to my lap for a nap.  I can't say much for her timing (or perhaps she'd planned it that way) as I'd been just on the verge of making a potty run when she landed.  Having begged her to come to me, I wasn't about to risk further displeasure by displacing her and so sat quietly as directed.  I think this is why people coined the term "crazy cat lady."

The last edict from Waste Management has had an unfortunate result.  They demanded that all trash bins be placed in a row along the "big" road instead of on our corner.  Last evening when Bess and I took our trash down, all the barrels were on their side and garbage strewn all over.  It seems that mailbox baseball has been replaced with trash bin bowling.  What possible pleasure can be derived from this?  With darkness coming on, I started picking up the mess and was later joined by Cam.  I saw postings this morning that ours was not the only cluster trashed, pardon the expression.

The last couple of days have been in mid 80s, not as hot as it's going to get but high enough to qualify as a heat wave in my opinion.  By Friday, temps in the 50s are predicted.  Go figure.  It's a good thing, however, as last evening Deb let me know that she and Craig were organizing a work crew to come up on Saturday to "get me in shape" before summer.  Man, did I luck out with my Kids or what?!  I look and see what needs to be done on the property, but have been either too busy or too overwhelmed to do much about it.  I'd like not to need their help, but am eternally grateful for it.

I'll be waiting to see if Celeste is still in a forgiving mood today.  One can hope.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Guilt Trip

I am being punished.  Celeste does not like company.  She takes off like a shot to hide if she hears a car drive up.  She'll stay hidden for the duration, but when said car leaves, she immediately comes out of the bedroom and wants/demands to sit in my lap.  On rare overnighters, she goes to the kitchen to eat only after lights out.  Guests here for four days and the Wild Bunch here on Saturday pushed her over the edge.  There is just so much a girl can take and it was time for payback.

I waited after Pete and Jake drove off for Celeste to come down the hall.  And waited.  I started getting worried and went looking for my little girl.  She was under the bed and reluctant to come out.  Finally and with much coaxing, slowly she crept out from her safe place, all the while telling me she was not happy.  We walked out to the living room and I sat down to make a lap.  Which she ignored.  "Don't think I'm going to make this easy for you, lady.  You did wrong and you shall be punished."  Treats in the kitchen.  "No thanks."  Throughout the day, Ralph would come to me, but Celeste kept her distance.  "Please, Celeste.  It's not like we have company all the time.  People come, they stay for awhile, and then they leave.  You know this."  "Yes, but four days?  Seriously?  What were you thinking?"  I was careful not to promise it wouldn't happen again.  Those days were priceless for me and I hope for more.  But I did apologize for her discomfort.  She kept her distance all day long to make her point clear, but relented somewhat in the evening and came to my lap for a short visit.  Boy, talk about a guilt trip.

I am being punished.  Cleaning up, I found (wait for it) someone's presents had been left here under the Christmas tree.  Aaargh!  There was no name on the bag of goodies, so I don't know who to blame.  I'd like to lay a guilt trip of my own.  I know it wasn't Larry nor Clay, so I'll have to contact the usual suspects.  Holiday or not, I'm going to take down that ferschluggen tree!

The girls headed for home under a gorgeous reverse sunset last night.  I didn't want to be late putting them to bed.  There's only so much guilt my shoulders can handle.

Monday, May 16, 2016

One After Another

And the super-duper days just keep coming.  Yesterday was downtime after all the hoopla and gaiety of the day before.  Farm life goes on regardless of the occasion, and Larry and Tay had to leave while I was milking goats.  A beep-beep goodbye and they were on their way.  Pete and Jake had volunteered to take on chores, but I wasn't about to miss an opportunity to just spend time with my boys.  Jake will be going to Air Force boot camp (I guess the PC term is basic training, but I'm old-school) in a few weeks and it will be a long while before I see him again, and the illusive Pete lives such a long way away, so we relaxed, talked, and watched a movie or two. Jake is Pete's only chick and it will leave a big hole when he leaves.  Cellphones and internet will be a blessing, faster and easier now than when it was waiting for snail mail when Pete and Dave were in the service.

Cam came by in the afternoon and joined us for dinner.  I had some trepidation when putting zucchini pie and mushroom crostini down for the boys (vegetables aren't really their thing) so caramelized some kielbasa for them, too.  Surprisingly, the veggie dishes were well received.

The guys will be leaving early today to miss traffic in Stockton and the Los Angeles area on their long trip home, it's burning daylight, the computer picked this morning to go funky, and I've got stuff to do before they get up.  It was another good day.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

More IS Merrier

It is true that "the more, the merrier," and yesterday was most awesomely merry.  For me, it was birthday, Christmas, Easter, Fourth of July, reunion, and any other holiday you can think of rolled into one.  I snapped only this photo and was so disappointed that I didn't get my always-smiling Craig in the frame (his hands at far right).  From the left:  Deb, Clay (the Good Son), Larry, Dave, Jester (FSMC, another of "my boys"), Pete, Jake, and the illusive Craig.  Taylor was taking a nap.

My Kids showered me with extravagant goodies of all kinds and brought a wonderful lunch.  So the fire department didn't have to be called, Deb kindly put only one candle on my birthday cake, a cheesecake!  They spoil me rotten.  I couldn't even complain when I lost my allowance on cards.  I would say we take poker very seriously except there was so much laughing going on that I wouldn't be believed.  However, when it comes to poker it's "no quarter asked nor given," and Mom status gets no breaks.

It was a day far beyond good, it was glorious!  (Gonna take down the Christmas tree at last.)

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Animal House

(Apologies to John Belushi.)

If yesterday was a preview of coming attractions, it's gonna be a wild weekend.  Larry, Taylor, Pete and Jake arrived in early evening and the race was on.  It was a nonstop comedy show with the guys telling stories on each other and themselves, some of which I knew and some which were jaw-dropping news to me, but all funny as all get out.  It was nearly two a.m. when I got to bed, so if this is late getting posted... well.

I'm watching a tree squirrel sitting on the deck railing munching on something (probably something I wanted to keep) and watching me watch him.  I don't know why, but a ground squirrel comes daily and digs holes in the flower pots, the tree squirrel is a new visitor.

The grass (weeds) in the goat pen is belly high to the girls and I needed to take a bag of chow down to the barn, almost impossible to wrestle the hand cart through that jungle.  The solution was to fire up Fu and cut a path.  The girls got so excited when I let them out.  "Chopped salad!"  Cindy had munched her way up and down the newly mown weeds and was coming back for another rub-up.  Gee, it was a pretty day.

I don't remember if I mentioned it, but the door to the downstairs room had somehow been shut and locked some months back.  Not a big deal, except I couldn't find the key and the other two doors were dead-bolted.  (There are a lot of doors in this house.)  Larry has house-breaking talents I never suspected, because he was able to get the door open and it was such a relief.  The extra beds are down there and I needed space for Pete and Jake to sleep.

With company in the house, I had to excuse myself when it was time to put the kids to bed and I was afraid it was going to be a challenge to get the chicks into their coop.  Guess what.  Those little kids had tucked themselves in all on their own.  As they say in the South, "Bless their little hearts."

It's going to be a super-fine day!

Friday, May 13, 2016

Flew The Coop

These were the chicks when they first came home, little bitty girls who fit easily into the cage.  As kids do, they grew and grew.  What with weather, rainy or hot, and other demands on my time, after pulling the weeds in the Taj pen, I just hadn't been able to rearrange the dirt mounds that the ground squirrels had created or filled in the holes to the center of the earth until yesterday.
Finally, finally got the deed done and the chicks got their first taste of freedom.  They weren't really sure how to react and instead of yeeping and dithering as they had in the cage, the little flock went silent and still.  It was, after all, pretty scary out there in the big, wide world with no walls or roof.  The water dish was familiar, so they clustered around that.  It wasn't long before they were running around, scratching in the dirt, and sampling the bits of weeds I'd left for them.

Putting them to bed later went pretty much as expected, like catching BBs.  It helped that I'd put the food dish in the coop and just like their big sisters, they got a nighty-night treat to make bedtime something to look forward to.  They'll get the hang of it.

My Kids are coming home to roost for a little while. Pete and Jake and Larry and Taylor will be here tonight and the rest of my flock will come up tomorrow.  Since I played in the dirt yesterday, there's still a lot to do in the house today.  It's burning daylight and I need to get a move on.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Hostess With The Mostest

Miss Audrey and her human mom, Arden, came to visit yesterday.  I can always tell when Audrey has been here.  Bessie Anne is the best, most generous hostess, allowing canine guests to raid her toy box at will.  Honey helps herself to the larger toys, one or two at a time.  Audrey, however, goes for mass quantities. She's a social little girl and takes her trove into the "round room" (the breakfast room) to be close to Arden and I in the kitchen where we talk.  Our chat is accompanied by the weekie-weekie of various squeaky toys as Audrey amuses herself on the couch.  Bessie is so tolerant of these antics, lying quietly in the doorway.  When guests, people or canine, leave, Bess accompanies them to their car to say goodbye.  This behavior isn't something she was taught.  She simply has innate good manners and is definitely the hostess with the mostest.  (Apologies to Perle Mesta.)

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Fast Track

I was on a dead run all day yesterday, and I'm still not sure if I was the winner.  I didn't mention that, in addition to the computer tech, I also spent time with the satellite TV dude in the morning.  The television in the bedroom evidently thought I'd gone hard of hearing because it insisted on giving me closed captioning on every channel and every program for the past three nights.  It's true I'm creeping up on fourscore, but I haven't needed that assistance yet.  Turns out I'd mistakenly pushed the CC button on the second remote (in the dark).  I didn't know it even had a CC button.

My barn chores done, Cam called and said she'd gotten an order for feta cheese if I'd make it.  Of course, so started that.  Cheese isn't difficult to make, but it is time consuming.  Leaving the curd to set, grabbed a shower and headed to town for an appointment.  That done, I had a massive amount of grocery shopping, knowing that the hungry hordes would be arriving.

They say one should not try a new recipe on company, but the other night I'd made a zucchini pie chock full of fresh veggies and herbs for Cam and her mom, Olga, and it was such a hit that I decided to make it for the boys and Taylor.  The guys are not vegetarian so I'll fry up some kielbasa to go with.  Pete doesn't need to worry, there won't be a pea in sight.  I'd also made mushroom crostini with fontina and Parmesan cheese that Camille and Olga raved over, so replenished my supply of mushrooms.  On a summer visit some while back, I'd made icy cold White Gazpacho and hot, crispy fried, batter-dipped zucchini blossoms for Pete.  I can still see his face.  "You're giving me cold soup and fried flowers?"  "Just try it."  He did, and he liked it!  I'm hoping to get the second leg of the Triple Crown this time with another winning menu.  (FYI, the Preakness will run on May 21 this year.)

Late, late, late getting home, there wasn't enough time to clean the pen and coop for the chicks, so they're still yeeping in the laundry room this morning.  We'll all be glad when they move to new quarters.

No matter how fast one is running, it's important to take time to "smell the roses."  No perfume from the newly opened peony, but it sure is pretty.  I'm hoping for a slower track today.  One can always hope.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

I Didn't Do It

How many times did I hear my Kids say that?  Well, today it's my turn.  I was awake before sunup and then, coffee in hand, ran into a computer glitch.  Could not connect with my server, regardless of how many times and ways I tried.  Even the nice tech couldn't help.  Ratchafratch.  Decided to give it one last try before heading to the barn and Ta Da!  Computer back on line, but I'm out of play time.  Will try to get back online when I get back to the house.  It is a beautiful day with a lousy start.

Monday, May 9, 2016

Chicks In My Nest

Yesterday was Mother's Day for the rest of the world (mine is on hold until next weekend).  Not only did I receive calls from all my Kids, I found out that all of my Chicks are coming home to roost!  Pete and my grandson Jake are driving up from SoCal on Friday.  Jake will be entering our nation's service in the Air Force next month and I was afraid I wouldn't get to see him before he put on the blue uniform.  He signed up for a six-year hitch and that's a huge commitment.  His Dad and Uncle Dave were in the Navy and, while very proud of Jake, they think he's gone rogue.

As if that weren't enough good news, Larry and my granddaughter Taylor are also coming up to spend the weekend.  I've beds aplenty and will turn the downstairs into a dormitory.  As soon as I came down off the cloud of euphoria, I started planning menus.  Hey, it's what I do.  Deb and Craig have planned the meal on Saturday when they, Dave, and Clay are here, and she promised me it's a no-fuss lunch.  It's going to be one whoop-de-doo party combining Christmas, Easter, birthday, Mother's Day, family reunion, and any other cause for celebration we can think of.  I see a day of poker in my future!

The skies may have been cloudy yesterday (again), but there was sunshine in my heart.  Blue skies this morning, so maybe I'll get the chicklets moved out so my Chicks can move in.

Sunday, May 8, 2016


Everything came to a screeching halt yesterday.  It was the running of the Kentucky Derby and that took top priority in my book.  Camille was waiting for her own tree guy to show up, so called and asked if she could come watch the race here.  "If you'll ignore the dust, of course!"  I do enjoy all the hoopla at Kentucky Downs, but was disappointed that only two races were televised before the Derby.  Deb and Craig and I were ready with our nickels to place our bets, but we were none of us winners yesterday.  Phooey.  Craig came closest with his horse, Gun Runner, coming in show (third) position in the Derby.  Cam and Honey had to leave when her appointment showed up, but I knew she'd be back.  She dropped her cellphone here on the way out.  They returned in time for the big race.  As Deb said, four hours for the fastest three minutes (or less) in history!

As if putting it all on hold during the day for the Derby wasn't enough, NASCAR ran a Saturday evening race and that was the end of that.  It was kind of a drizzly day, so not much would have gotten done anyhow.

It's grey and wet again this morning.  The girls are tired of it.  I'm tired of it.  I really need a day of sunshine so I can get the little pen ready for the chicks that are rapidly transitioning into pullets.  Had to laugh yesterday when Cam heard them yelling in the laundry room and said, "You have chickens in the house??"  Pretty much the same reaction I had when I visited a neighbor who was raising a calf in her kitchen.  Country living at its finest.

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Muffets and Tuffets

Most of the barn mice come to the breakfast bar, grab a bite and either duck back down into their burrows or sit by the pile of grain and watch me.  And now there's Miss Muffet.  She paws through to find the choicest morsel, then takes it over to her favorite corner to sit on her tuffet and nibble.  She does this over and over every day.

I'm always in wonder at how little creatures who live underground manage to have such clean, shiny coats.  Scruffy seems to be the victim of poor parenting.  His fur goes every which way and looks slightly dusty, the result of faulty grooming.  He isn't well accepted by the clans, so he's a little timid when he comes to eat.  Scruffy is definitely one of the grab-and-run guys.

The turkeys come running every morning for birdseed when I call, "Turk, turk, turk."  Lately, a grey tree squirrel races to the feeding station when he hears me call and thumps his front feet while he's waiting for me to put the seed down.  I guess squirrels are short on patience.  This particular guy has a growth on his jaw just under his ear.  Somehow I never thought about wild things getting tumors, etc., but of course it must happen now and again.

Pom-pom is a ground squirrel who shows up down in the barn.  He either got in a fight or an accident, because he lost hair in a ring around his tail, leaving just a tuft at the end.  Sure makes him easily identifiable.  He's determined to help himself to the little pile of grain put down for the barn birds.  I can't do much sitting on the milking stand but clunk my feet together to scare him off.  It's worked so far, but he's getting bolder.  It's not like I don't put down breakfast for the squirrels before I leave the barn; I do.

I'm hearing the first morning yeeps from the chicks.  As soon as it dries out some, they've got to move out to their pen.  They're big enough now that one of them flew out of the cage yesterday while I was putting down fresh feed and clean water.  It was better that I caught her before Ralph could.

And that's the way it is on Farview Farm today.

Friday, May 6, 2016

What About Me?

Bessie Anne lies on the bed behind me while I'm "working" at the computer.  She evidently looked over my shoulder to read yesterday's entry about Celeste and got her feelings hurt.  Big brown puppy-dog eyes looked into mine, "What about me, Mom?  I was your girl first.  You could write something about me, too."  She must have missed that she gets mentioned nearly every day as we go about our in-and-out routines.  That, or she's just feeling needy.  Bess is more than a little jealous of the cats anyway because they get more lap time than she.

Bessie has quirks of her own and they're becoming more pronounced as she becomes a senior citizen.  The family all know now that when she asks to go out, she wants company and stands waiting for the door opener to take a step outside.  That's all it takes, just one step works for her and she'll go on alone while the person is free to step back into the house.  Whatever it takes, I guess.

Our mornings begin exactly the same way every day (every day).  Nothing happens for cats or dog until I've got my coffee going.  My house, my rule.  Then I put breakfast in their bowls and check the water dish.  Bessie comes to the dining room door and waits.  She waits for a milk bone, which she gets every morning.  Just one and, being the lady she is, she takes it into the dining room to eat.  Then she goes around to the hallway door and waits.  She waits for one soft treat from the treat drawer.  I have no idea why the two doors, but it's her ritual.

As a puppy, she had to have several surgeries and subsequent follow-up visits with the vet.  She was prone to car-sickness, as well, for awhile.  Since her experience riding in the truck only led to the House Of Pain, Bess was reluctant to even get in the truck.  To help her overcome her fear, when we got home I'd give her a lamb stick treat.  Now she expects a lamb treat even if we just went down to the mailbox.  I keep a supply of those on hand only for truck rides.

My girl is on the bed behind me and I hope this has satisfied her.  Ralph has gotten enough front page coverage, and he's too busy to care much, anyhow.

On a dead run to get to an appointment yesterday, I did not get the windshield wipers replaced.  Coming out later, I discovered, for the first time in years, I had locked the keys in the truck.  While waiting for Triple-A to come to my rescue, I could have used that time to install the wipers but, of course, the new set was in the truck.  I dodged the bullet because only a light mist fell on the way home.  It's raining today, and too wet to work on the truck.  Sigh.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Spotlight On Celeste

Ralph is such a dufus, he gets more page space than his sister, but Celeste has some definite quirks of her own worth noting.  I've mentioned before how she herds me to the kitchen for treats.  What I didn't tell is that, without fail, she gives a thank-you rub up before taking a first bite.  (Ralph doesn't have the same good manners.)   When Celeste wants lap time, there is absolutely no saying no to her.  I've tried ignoring her or pushing her away but, like a cork in water, she pops up and settles herself while I'm trying to figure out how she did that.  While Celeste doesn't look it, she packs quite a few more pounds than Ralph and she's as solid as a rock.  She's a darn near immovable lump.  I didn't realize I was starting something when, on a particularly cold day, I huffed warm breath on the back of her neck.  Now it's a ritual.  She jumps up on my lap and stretches her head up, showing me right where she wants me to breathe.  A word of advice, don't do this if you've just put on lip balm or you'll have a mohair mouth.  We are heading into weed seed season, and Bessie brings in foxtails and whirligigs every time she comes in the house.  This evidently bothers Celeste.  She goes about like a four-legged Hoover or Roomba, cleaning up the bits.  I always wanted a maid.

Those new windshield wipers will not do me any good in the cab of the truck.  First order of business today will be to install them.  If I can get Celeste off my lap.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

What A Day!

Running late (what a surprise!), racing through barn chores, and I got a text from Clay saying he was running late.  What a relief.  That meant I might have time to get spiffed up for our "date."  Mission accomplished just before he drove up.  It's at least an hour on the road for the guys, longer for Deb and Craig, when they come up so the first order of business is always a pit stop before whatever comes next.  Next, yesterday, was getting into the truck and driving another half-hour to Poor Red's.

I am so happy to report that Red's has kept most of the old ambience, the 1940s mural, the same horseshoe bar (refurbished), and, while there are new employees, the same friendly faces and greeting by the staff.  There is a welcome addition for more tables; previously there were only ten and a long wait for seating.  Poor Red's was the place to go for slow-roasted pork ribs.  Clay and I decided to branch out and try something new.  In all the years, none of us had ever had anything but ribs.  I had a pulled pork sandwich and probably the best batter-dipped onion rings ever, and Clay went for a cheeseburger done to his liking.  There was that moment or two of silence when you know that the food is super good.  De rigueur at Red's is a Gold Cadillac, a nummy, frothy blended drink that defies description.  And guess what?  Our drinks and food were every bit as delicious as in the old days.

Clay is one of those genuinely upbeat guys and a delightful companion.  He was willing to make a hit-and-run stop at Walmart on the way home (never make an extra trip to town).  With more rain in the forecast, we both needed new windshield wipers, and my "new" shoes had totally disintegrated and were falling off my feet.  With no dilly-dallying, I'll bet we were in and out in less than half an hour.

Back at the house, we took some time to decompress and let lunch settle before he drove off into the sunset.  Gee, what a great day!

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Looking For A Hook

Some days are harder than others to find the hook, the topic to write about.  Sometimes it's a word, an event, something funny or sad or maddening, a photo op, and some days are uneventful, period.  Yesterday was one of the latter and so I started at the end with sundown.

It was just one of those run-of-the-mill days, nothing bad and nothing spectacular.  Milk Guy and Mrs. MG came by.  I made a run to the local grocery.  Big whoop.  Not enough dust accumulated to justify pushing a rag around.  Not enough ambition to go out and weed or finish the chick pen.  Ho hum.  Hey, some days are like that.

Tomorrow's blog fodder will have more substance.  Clay is coming up today and we're going to the newly reopened "Poor Red's."  Poor Red's has been an institution in the hamlet of El Dorado.  It is a bar and barbecue joint that opened in 1948.  It has a long and rowdy past, home of the Golden Cadillac.  Red's was, at one time, the largest purveyor of Galliano in the world.  My daughter first took me to Poor Red's back in the early '80s when we had to drive the 60 or so miles up from Sacramento, and it worth it!  Red (his wife, Rich Opal, had died) finally sold the place and mismanagement by the new owners caused it to close a couple of years ago.  We've all been waiting and hoping for a reopening.  Today's the day!

Monday, May 2, 2016

Christmas Is Coming!

All of the NorCal Kids are coming up in a couple of weeks (yay!).  That gives me hope that we can finally celebrate Christmas with those who didn't make it in December and I will finally be able to get rid of the presents and the tree with the Easter bunny decorations still in the living room (yay!).  I was beginning to think the tree was part of the permanent house fixtures.  It's possible my eccentric reputation had preceded me because Tecla and Bruno undoubtedly noted the wreath on the door and the tree in the room and never said a word.  That's a bit worrisome, don't you think?  Let's face it, my family marches to a different Little Drummer Boy.

I'm looking out the window in the early morning light at a very pregnant doe under the oak.  It's a good time of year to give birth to a fawn as there is plenty of high ground cover to hide the little one.  Ohmigosh, there are two of them, both with heavy bellies.  How cool is that?

Even with a very exciting race at Talladega yesterday, Bess and I took a short break out on the deck.  (Talladega had lived up to its hype as "The Big One."  Only 21 cars out of 40 were in shape to cross the finish line!)  Enjoying the sunshine and watching birds, I was struck by how different the wing movements are on different breeds.  Vultures are the most energy efficient, mainly floating on the breeze like giant kites.  The hawks put on a burst of speed and then coast.  Ducks flap with a rowing motion, one wing forward, then the other.  There are two types of doves locally, the band-tail (actually a pigeon) makes a loud clatter, and the mourning dove takes off at the slightest sound, but is definitely more quiet.  Geese just get down to business and speed from here to there.  Quail flocks almost zing, they go so fast, but nothing like the hummingbirds.  I understand their wings move in a figure-8, but who could tell?

On a beautiful sunny day, dark clouds started to pile up over the mountains in the afternoon.  In the blink of an eye, those clouds slid down the hill over us and put on another spectacular thunder and lightning show.  That put an end to any plans to finish getting the little pen finished. 

I really need to get the chicks moved outside.  Those silly, silly creatures.  One would think they'd be used to me by now, knowing that I bring their food and water umpteen times a day, but no.  They dither and screech every single time I open the cage as if I were on a par with hawks and mountain lions.  And messy?  Clouds of pinfeathers swirl through the nursery, having been replaced by their true feathers.  That doesn't even begin to measure up to the everlasting droppings.  I need my head examined.

I guess I'd better reprogram the telephones to play Jingle Bells again.  The Christmas spirit is once again upon us.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Getting Mushy

Saturday mornings are loaded with cooking shows and I watch most of them.  Yesterday Lidia Bastianich devoted most of the segment to polenta.  My mother made polenta.  She called it mush. She wouldn't have known polenta from a ponytail.  I'm going to guess she had a Magic Chef freestanding stove in the 1940s.  It had a top over the burners that could be folded out of the way and a light above.  Most nights, after the dishes were washed, that was that and the kitchen was closed down and dark.  Once in awhile, that light over the stove would be on and a pot of corn meal and water was plop-plopping on a burner and I knew what was coming.  I have never been much of a breakfast eater, but when Mother made mush the night before, put it in a loaf pan to refrigerate, and then sliced and fried the mush until crispy, I'd be the first one at the table.  Daddy liked it drizzled with dark Karo syrup, but I preferred it salty with just butter.  (I think Karo was the only syrup we ever had.)  Just think, I've been eating polenta all my life!

A strong, gusty wind blew most of yesterday, but I felt the need to get out of the house.  I could see from the breakfast room that weeds were growing tall in the Pig Garden and that seemed like a good chore for the afternoon.  Bess and I went out and I got a small start, enjoying the pleasant aroma from the few strong-scented roses in bloom in the Garden, but then decided my time would be better spent in the chick pen.  The little kids are getting pretty big and the cage in the nursery (laundry room) is becoming cramped, so we moved on.
I'd cleared maybe half of the nearly waist-high weeds in the pen when this photo was taken, just to give an idea of what I was dealing with.  These are those dratted, but lovely, weeds that later would develop bijillions of dart seeds.  The fortunate thing is that they have shallow roots and the plant covers a lot of territory, so it didn't take all that much effort to clear the plot.
It's a good thing I'm used to watching where my feet go, because I might otherwise have stepped on this hibernating little toad.  The leaf on its head was a nice touch, but didn't do much to hide him/her.  It didn't move the entire time we (we?) we were working.  Bessie is the inspector on the job.
Same corner of the pen after clearing.  Any weeds there were left on purpose.  They are the grassy stuff that will be good for the new residents when they move in.  I do hope the toad finds new quarters because the chicks will kill and eat it and then I'd feel really bad.  I will check before I bring the chicks out and relocate toad if need be.

I'd call it a productive afternoon.  The pile of pulled weeds is nearly as tall as the back of the Taj Mahal!  There's more work to be done in the pen, filling in the many squirrel burrows and leveling the mound in front of the drop-down door, for instance, but it was a good start.

It was a good day.