Wednesday, August 31, 2016


Stepping out the kitchen door yesterday morning to refill the hummingbird feeders, I noticed a pile of grain where no grain should be.  Two steps from the door and next to a case of stored water.  What in the world and how did it get there?  Evidently one of the many ground squirrels who have taken over decided it was too far to go back to the chicken pen for a snack while he was lounging on the deck and filled his cheek pouches to deposit in a handy spot.  The best I can do is say that at least he was neat and tidy, but really?  I'm of the opinion that this has gone too far, but probably better than a line of squirrels with picket signs declaring me unfair to rodents.

Bringing morning milk to the chickens, I didn't see Rhonda either in the pen or anywhere outside.  She usually comes running to get a slurp, but I sat with Betty for our daily tete-a-tete and no Rhonda.  Worried that she might have gone walkabout one too many times, I kept an eye out all day for her.  As she is one of just two white hens, it's not hard to tell when one is missing.  Dang it!  Then, late in the afternoon there she was, back in the pen as if she'd never left.  Sometimes I think it might be worth investing in a Go-Pro camera.

Yes, really.  Another sunset.

It was a good day.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

One Of Those

Not too much to say about the farm yesterday, as it was a go-to-town day.  Actually, a go-see-the-doctor day, aarrgh.  It wasn't all bad, though.  I, who take maybe four aspirin a year for pain, will be on daily meds now but found out my co-pay is $3 a month.  Woohoo!  While at Wally World, decided to check out a smaller size jeans and, guess what, they were on clearance and the sale price was...$3!  Best of all, they fit.  I haven't worn this size since, what, junior high?  Like peanut butter, I've always been chunky style.  Stopped at the vet's office to pick up Bessie Anne's heartworm medicine and wished I had a co-pay for that.  But they gave me a rebate coupon, so that was good news.

It was just one of those days, but a lovely, lovely sunset to top it off.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Hangin' With The Guys

Poor Red's was jumping yesterday when they had their Grand Opening, or reopening, as the case may be.  Red's always had an eclectic clientele and it was apparent yesterday that some things don't change.  Age groups ranged from barely legal to silver-haired and the parking lot was packed with high-end cars, pickups, and Harleys.  The building has been expanded and upgraded, but much of the "flavor" has been retained.  What had been the garage where Red had worked on motorcycles with his buddies has been replaced with a large patio, and this is where a band set up and a number of well-represented biker clubs congregated yesterday.  As the official "Club Momma," I was, as always, treated like royalty by Dave and my guys in the Freed Spirits.  Nothing quite like being surrounded by good-looking dudes in black leather to raise my spirits!  Several club members I hadn't met yet were there and some from the El Dorado chapter, as well.  What a great group of guys.

Needless to say, it was a good day.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Butterflies Are Free

I'm becoming quite a social butterfly.  Thursday was a date with the Ladies, yesterday I had lunch with my friend Harold, and today I'm meeting up with Dave and the Freed Spirits at Poor Red's.  (Monday I see another of my doctors, but not looking forward to that.)

All this leaving home has Bessie Anne depressed.  When I'm here, we're never far apart.  Even though she spends most of her time sleeping now, she needs to be close and preferably in contact with me.  If I'm in my chair, Bess prefers to be in my lap or lying with her head on my foot.  When I'm at the computer as I am now, she crawls into the knee hole of the desk and her head warms my bare foot.  She has difficulty walking without slipping on the kitchen floor, but comes just inside the doorway to watch.  When she wants to go outside, we're supposed to go together (according to her rules).  If I'm busy, I must at least step out the door before she'll go out, but she'll accept it if I go no farther.  The best, of course, is when we go together.  Bessie has cataracts in both of her beautiful brown eyes, but I know she still has some vision.  It's her hearing that is gone.  Sometimes when she has been out on her own and comes to either the kitchen or dining room doors, if I'm at the other and call her, she doesn't respond until I stamp my foot on the deck.  She can feel the vibration and come to me.  Calling her is useless.  She no longer hears a car drive up or the coyotes on the hill.  Bess depends more and more on familiar routines and I go along with her program.  It's the least I can do for my little friend.

Like the butterflies, I've got places to flit to and I'd best get started.  We're burning daylight here.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

That's Cool

Temps have been in the mid-to-low 80s the last couple of days and there has been a slight rise in ambition.  (It doesn't pay to get carried away with these things.)  A good portion of yesterday was spent watering; watering the pig (rose) garden, the herb garden, and all the pots on the deck.  Watering here is a rather lengthy process because of the well.  My well only draws about 4.5 gallons a minute and it needs time to replenish when I'm using a lot of water.  A leaking faucet can run it dry, as I've learned to my dismay.

Camille scored big on produce trimmings this week and was kind enough to share.  The chickens are happy, happy, happy!  The store had also thrown out a pineapple that had seen better days.  The topknot leaves were brown, but the fruit was still firm.  Hey, I'm not too proud and I'm here to say it was the best pineapple I've ever had.  And yes, I stole it from the chickens.

After weeks of needing the ceiling fan on and just a sheet on the bed, it was cool enough last night to put a blanket back on and leave the fan off.  Bess, Ralph, and Celeste also noticed and got right back in the practice of snuggling tight up against me.  Sure makes turning over and/or stretching out difficult, but I can't say I blame them.  Feel free to remind me of this when I'm whining about freezing this winter.  I'm cool with that.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Shut The Front Door!

Rule #1:  If you don't want a goat to get in somewhere, don't give 'em the opportunity to get there.

Brought Inga into the milking room and let Cindy, Esther, and Tessie out into the pen.  Finished working with Inga.  As I let Inga out, Esther was basking in the sun by the barn wall.  Took the rope and went around to get Sheila from her stall.  All was going according to plan, and then all hell broke loose.  Coming around the corner with goat #2, I saw that the door to the milking room was open and Esther wasn't lying down beside it.  She was in the room and had discovered the mice's stash of grain.  I got Sheila up on the stand and tried to get Esther out.  But then Cindy came in (door not shut) and I had two to contend with.  Both Cindy and Esther were pushing Sheila out of the way to get to her cereal bowl.  I finally got the rope around one and then the other's neck and out of the room and shut the door.  Whew!  Settling down to milk Sheila, I heard banging and baa-ing from the back stalls.  Oh good grief!  In my rush to get the invaders out of the milking room, I hadn't quite shut the gate to the rear of the barn.  All four of the others were in there, pushing and shoving in the aisle and going in and out of the stalls.  This was the reverse of a clown car; instead of tumbling out, goats were getting in everywhere.  When I'd finished with Sheila (first things first), I went around to chase the miscreants out.  That's when I found Tessie in Cindy's stall and someone had slammed that door and shut her in.  It's hard to be mad when you're laughing.  With a certain degree of calm restored, the rest of the morning went well.  Lesson learned.

Spent a lovely afternoon poolside at Cam's with the Ladies of Fair Play.  We all enjoyed a potluck buffet, cooling libations, and good conversation.

After a somewhat crazy, rough start, it was a good day.

Thursday, August 25, 2016


Bliss:  supreme happiness; utter joy or contentment.  It was worth the trip to town to use another portion of the gift certificate my Kids gave me for a massage.  It was pure bliss.

Boys... Dave said he's thinking about replacing the seat on FuManchu with a motorcycle seat and, of course, adding a cup holder.  Just the thought of it cracks me up.  Nice to know Fu went to a good home.

I try never to leave home for just one reason, so also ran an errand or two and found another recycling center yesterday.  I save up squished cans and take them in once or twice a year.  The refund on CRV fee adds up!  I got a nice chunk of change yesterday.  A massage plus extra money equals bliss in my book.

It was a good day.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Out On The Town

Runaway Rhonda is at it again.  She manages to slip through the opening under the fence that I thought I'd blocked.  She goes walkabout several times a day.  I would worry more about her but she never goes far and unlike dithering hens in the past, she always goes back into the pen on her own.  If she happens to be out when I take the morning milk to the chickens, she comes running to be let in the gate to get her share.  Rhonda is no dumb chick.

I've been calling the pullets the "little" little girls, but they're growing into full-size chickens.  All except for BF Betty.  Betty seems small compared to the others, light when I pick her up.  And, of course, I continue to pick her up at least once every day.  There is a box roost in the coop and Betty and I sit down for a cuddle and a chat in the morning.  She will forego whatever treats I've included with the scratch just to be held.

Bonding with chickens seems to run in our family.  My mother and (step)sister were alone for some years before Mother married my father.  I've seen pictures and heard stories of Tootles, a pet hen who followed my sister like a puppy and traveled with them in the car.  (I don't think I'll go that far.)

I don't know what's going on with the hens.  They seem to have just quit laying eggs.  There was only the one contribution from the pullets and no more.  I haven't changed their feed and they get plenty of oyster shell supplement as always.  Production has always slowed down during the hot days of summer, but this is ridiculous.  I've had no eggs to sell, and I'm down to just one in the refrigerator for my use.  We're going to have to have a serious discussion about this situation because I'll be really ticked if I have to buy eggs.

The Ladies of Fair Play are meeting tomorrow for a pool party at Camille's, so I needed to go, not as far as town, but to the grocery store.  It made me smile when, not for the first time, someone passing by said, "I like your overalls."

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Waste Not

Since I switched to sweet cob from that old lactating goat chow, all the girls are gobbling their breakfast and licking the bowl clean and the mice leave nothing, either.  As a post-depression era and then WWII child, I was raised hearing the idiom "Waste not, want not," and seeing food left uneaten or dumped on the ground hurt my soul as well as my wallet.  Thinking these thoughts while listening to the goats crunch their cereal, my mind went freewheeling (again).

Every household had a button box to hold buttons cut from clothing that had finally given up the ghost after having been outgrown and passed on to the next smallest (and the next), or had frayed cuffs and collar turned, or the hem let down.  Even then, still usable material was cut into strips and braided into rag rugs.  When next to nothing was left, clothing became dust rags.  And those buttons?  Why, they were sewn on to new creations made by housewives from scratch.  I grew up hearing the sound of my mother's sewing machine.  I still have her button box and can remember specific dresses and such just from seeing the buttons.

In a recent conversation with my son Pete, he mentioned remembering the two cans always under the kitchen sink, one for disposable grease and one for the bacon fat that gave flavor to so many dishes.  There were times in my mother's childhood when bacon fat (in essence, lard) was smeared on bread because there was no butter.  There are still grease cans under my sink because, with a septic tank, one simply does not pour grease down the drain.

Camille frequently asks the produce manager for trimmings and unsold, semi-spoiled fruit and vegetables for the chickens.  For awhile, the store's policy forbade giving it away and instead put it all in their dumpster, and what a waste that was.  The chickens happily overlook a bit of mold and gorge on lettuce trimmings, etc.  When there is enough to share, my hens dine well, too.

I recently found to my dismay that the closest recycling center had closed.  In this disposable society, there is so much that is going into landfills that could be reused, and the land, as well.  What a waste.  What a shame.

Monday, August 22, 2016

The Expected And The Other Kind

As expected, Dave's visit was great.  As it was with Clay the day before, one-on-one time with the Kids is special.

I am having coffee this morning in a souvenir mug from El Grullo, Jalisco, Mexico where Clay had gone on vacation.  He's given me other mugs for my morning brew from NASCAR events.  I have a large collection of such cups given by many, and making a choice is like having coffee with that friend or family member.

Many, many of my pigabilia items have been given by Dave.  He keeps his eyes open for the unusual and truly unique.  Yesterday he presented me with this cutie, a tiny yarn piglet.  At the moment, Piglet sits (and fits) on the handle of a wooden spoon.

What was not expected was to be awakened at 3:00 a.m. by thunder, lightning, and the sound of rain!  Rain?  Are you kidding me?  Thinking, "Oh goody, maybe I'll get to give John Dear a workout," I rolled over and tried to find space among the clustered cats and dog (they don't like thunder) to go back to sleep.  Crum!  Nothing for it but to get up, slip on a pair of shoes, find my keys and go out wearing my nightgown to move the truck over to the feed shed.  The weather being what it was, I'd not been in a hurry to put the bags of feed away.  It was a very light rain and I think I got the bags under cover before they were soaked.  As for me, it was quite refreshing and cool and made it easy to get back to sleep.

Of course, I overslept this morning.

It was a good day.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Bye-Bye, Fu!

Hello, Clay.  Goodbye, FuManchu.

Nothing makes me happier than to see one (or all) of my Kid's smiling faces coming through the door, and I was a happy woman yesterday.

There is a little backstory here:  I had bought John Dear, thinking that FuManchu had been destroyed in that shop fire.  Then Fu reappeared and I had two yard tractors.  Steve would have been thrilled, but for me that was overkill and I went on the hunt for a buyer.  My boys in the Freed Spirits have a big yard at their clubhouse and generously decided they could use a riding lawnmower, but needed a way to transport it.  That's where Clay and his trailer came in.  He was drafted.

In a conversation with Deb in the morning, I'd mentioned that I would need to show Clay Fu's quirky starting procedure so he could show the Freed Spirits when he delivered him/it.  She suggested making a cellphone video, and I did tell Clay but he opted not to do it.  The next-best thing was to have him start it by himself several times and hope for the rest.

It was great to spend the day with my Kid and hearing of his adventures on a recent vacation visiting friends in Mexico.  It was somewhat bittersweet, however, watching brave little FuManchu climb the ramp into the trailer.  John Dear and I haven't yet established a relationship.  Fu and I spent happy hours making left turn after left turn in the fields together.  I know he'll do a good job for the Freed Spirits.

My grin is going to be permanently pasted on my face because I found out Dave is coming up today.  Goodbye, Clay.  Goodbye, Fu.  Hello Dave!

It was a good day.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Plan Ahead

Living alone as I do out here in the back-of-beyond, it's necessary to plan ahead.  The cupboards are stocked with a second, backup staple so I don't get caught without.  Whenever I open a jar, can, bottle, box, or bag of something, that something immediately goes on the shopping list (a dry-erase board on the refrigerator).  When the stores are miles away or close at dark, it doesn't pay to run out of anything.  Case in point, I found out yesterday that Clay is coming up later this morning.  Bread doesn't keep well and I don't use much anyway, but it did seem ungracious to have to ask him to bring a loaf so I can make him some lunch.  I am out.

On property as large as this, it pays to pre-think every project.  It isn't as if you can holler out, "Honey, bring me a thingamabob, doohickey, whatchamacallit, or widget!"  I logged many miles as Steve's gopher (go-fer) when he'd send me back down to the shop or the barn for some forgotten tool.  I may load up with more screwdrivers or wrenches than necessary, but that's better than having to stop mid-project to get another size.

Probably the most important thing to remember is to put a fresh roll of toilet paper nearby when the one in use is getting low.

Friday, August 19, 2016

All's Well

All's well that ends well, as the saying goes.

It was another of those nothing-to-write-home-about days.  In fact, nothing to write about, period.  Bess Anne slept most of the day.  The cats were either sprawled out on the tiles or hiding.  Betty actually tried to fly up to my arms, wanting to be held.  Rhonda somehow got herself outside the pen and in again.

And then it was time to tuck everybody in and turn off the lights.

The end.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Sundown, Moonup

Star thistle abounds, but it's too dry to bring out John Dear.  I didn't plant a garden due to the increased water usage that would require.  Having dusted the other day, there's still a bit of a shine so no use becoming a fanatic about that.  The summer doldrums are upon us.

There are some things I could be doing.  I could load the truck with stuff for the dump, but then that would require a trip to town (I shudder at the thought).  I could clean up the mess in the feed room from Thing's latest rampage, but he'd just throw everything off the shelves again so that would be an exercise in futility.  He found a partial roll of paper towels recently and gaily festooned the room.  He's just full of surprises.  I could wash clothes, but with the clothesline still down, I wait for full loads of laundry to get the best use of the dryer.  I could be doing these things, but what I do best is make excuses and wait for sundown and the slight drop in temperature that brings.

I know it had to be a month ago, but it seems like just the other day when I commented on the full moon rising and here it is again.  Coyotes yip and howl on the hill across the road as they take advantage of that giant nightlight to hunt.

It was a good, albeit hot, day.  I just didn't get a lot done.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Who's The Boss?

Master of all I survey?  Right.  The thought that I'm in charge here is just that, a reassuring illusion in my mind.  Who do I think I'm kidding anyhow?  My day revolves around the animals.  Can't go to breakfast or make morning appointments; have to feed and milk.  Evening activities depend on the time of year; have to put the critters in before dark.  Bess wants out/in?  Of course I stop whatever I'm doing and open the door.  Celeste asks so nicely but persistently for a treat that I weaken and open the bag, put out a few, then stand there and wait for Ralph to mosey in.  Who in her right mind carries a chicken around while tending the flock?  That would be me.  Even the mice have me well trained.

The turkeys have gone too far.  This not a self-serve establishment.  It's not as if they didn't get breakfast every morning, and I did not appreciate finding the bag of chicken scratch torn open and the contents spilled in the back of the pickup.  I'd loved to have blamed it on the dadratted ground squirrels, but they are just that, ground squirrels.  It's my own darned fault because it was too hot when I got home to unload the feed and I thought, it being so dry now, that it wouldn't hurt to leave it until morning.

I am not the boss.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Slow Start

It seems I'm a sunup-sundown person.  I wake up these days with the feeling I'm late!  And, of course, I am.  It's getting light later, but the clock keeps on ticking.  Where I'd been getting up at 4:30 well before daybreak, now it's nearly 6:30 as it's getting light and I waken.  On the other end, darkness comes before 8 p.m. and I get sleepy soon after putting the critters to bed.  Obviously, I wouldn't do well in one of those places on earth where the sun either doesn't rise (or set) for months at a time.

I'd taken a half a chicken breast and a cup or so of homemade marinara sauce from the freezer, so the thing to do at the last minute, obviously, was invite Cam for dinner last night.  Whatever possessed me?  How in the world to stretch those meager fixings to a meal for two?  Slice the chicken, saute with onion and garlic, add the sauce with herbs and spices, cook some wide noodles, put in plenty of cheese, and voila!  There was even enough for seconds.  Camille brought a chock-a-block salad and we ate like queens out on the deck.

It's burning daylight and I'm already behind the eight-ball.  I prefer to ease into the day and don't like hitting the floor running, but that's what happens when you get a slow start.

Monday, August 15, 2016


The day after I moved the pullets over to the big pen I found one of the two white Leghorns, joined by a redhead, had (I thought) managed to fly over the fence to play outside.  Perhaps I'd not clipped enough feathers?  They went back in that evening and I thought no more about it.  Then a couple of days later I saw the Leghorn out and about on her own.  Hmmm.  Then she was back in the pen.  That was good; at least she'd figured out how to fly in both directions.  Yesterday I was filling the pot with water for the wild things when I saw the little escape artist sneak under the fence through a channel dug by the ground squirrels, not very big, but big enough.  Busted!  Going out later, I managed to herd her back in through the same hole and then blocked the opening with sticks.  Yeah, good luck with that.  Runaway Rhonda was on the loose again at bedtime and I didn't know it until I heard squawking and fluttering as I was getting the chicken feed.  Bess had discovered Rhonda and was doing her best to herd the escapee back to the pen.  I grabbed Bess as the two raced by and got her into the feed room.  Rhonda was more than happy to rush back into the pen to rejoin the flock.  I'll have to walk the fence line this morning and find where that little twerp is getting out.

That was enough excitement for one day.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Not Much

Yesterday I stuck to the plan of doing not much.  This is the couch I'd be sitting on if I were a true couch potato.  Not a very inspiring photo, but it wasn't a very inspiring day.  The couch is significant, however, in that it has a much needed new slip cover.  Ralph and sun damage had left the sofa with rips and tears and stuffing showing.  I find that when faced with mounting financial responsibilities (bills), it does wonders for my spirits to spend a few dollars on something not absolutely necessary.  I like the couch because, unlike what seems to be the current trend in sofas, one doesn't sink into low cushions and need a crane to get up from this one.  When we moved into this house, everything was powder blue:  tile counters in the kitchen, carpet throughout, grout and patterned tile in the bathrooms.  Over time, all blue has been replaced by shades of green and white.  I like green.

It was a good day to watch an excellent film, "The Heiress," with Olivia de Havilland, Montgomery Clift, and Ralph Richardson (1949).  No matter how many times I've seen it, this movie never fails to impress.

It was hot, hot, hot.  Not much else to say about that.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Happy Dance!

Boy, I've never been so happy to write "the end" as I am, knowing my trips to Cameron Park are finished.  Oh, there will be follow-up visits, but I'm done with the daily grind.  Woot woot!

Wanting to get another onerous task out of the way, I stopped on the way home and did grocery and miscellaneous shopping at Wally World ("Vacation," 1983, Chevy Chase, Beverly D'Angelo), aka Walmart.  This losing weight business is getting expensive.  Not too long ago, I'd bought a new pair of jeans a size smaller because the old pair no longer fit (happy dance!).  Then I started having to cinch my belt up another notch, until I ran out of notches.  I got the clue I needed a smaller pant size still when I unbuckled the belt but hadn't unbuttoned or unzipped and the darned jeans slithered down to my ankles.  I'm just grateful my belt didn't break in public.  I now have another new pair of jeans.

I'd thought Betty might have just been suffering anxiety from being moved, but it seems she truly wants to be "besties" as she continues to beg to be held.  She makes it a bit difficult for me to get in through the gate with a full container of water in both hands and Betty is doing her best to get to me.  Chickens have an extensive vocabulary.  Betty has a high-pitched peep when she's asking for a lift, and a much lower satisfied trill when she's being cuddled.

And what am I going to do with all my free time, now that I will have free time?  Nothing.  I plan on doing a lot of nothing because it is getting hot, really hot again.  I will do my happy dance this morning before the sun comes up.  The end.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Ta Da!

My little girls are growing up.  I found a pullet egg, the first, in the coop yesterday, ta da!  Pickings have been mighty slim in the egg department for quite awhile; could be due to the hens' age, the heat, or....  I've had no eggs to sell, and few for personal use.  I did threaten the girls with the Colonel Sanders song, but they've remained unimpressed, a bunch of freeloaders on the dole.  Perhaps if the little girls start producing, it might stimulate competition in the flock.  (She said hopefully.)

As I was telling my cousin the other day, Bessie Anne thinks I've gotten a job because I leave every weekday, and she wants to know where is the paycheck.  I hate to have her think I've been fired, but, boy, will I be happy for the end of this commute after today.  I'll be done with doctors (I think) until a follow-up appointment with the oncologist in late September.  Ta da!

I stopped for gasoline (again!) on the way home and decided to replenish feed at the same time.  Normally, the girls get lactating goat chow that has more protein in the form of pellets mixed in, but the last two bags of chow have been old.  It's pretty bad when even the mice won't eat the pellets.  Feed is too expensive to bring home just to throw out, and I don't have anywhere or any way to throw it anyway.  I can't know the bag is bad until it's dumped in the barrel, and once it's in the barrel, it's impossible for me to lift.  This time, I got a bag of sweet cob for the ladies.  I know the mice will be happy.

That cooler break in the weather is at an end, it seems.  It's been heating up the last couple of days and even hotter temperatures are predicted.  And I expected what?  It's summer, don'tcha know.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

...And A Wake-up.

Eagerly anticipating one of our many shared camping trips years ago, our friend Dan would say, "Only one more day and a wake-up."  That's me now, looking forward to the last of these dadratted trips down the hill.  Today, tomorrow, and done!

BF Betty.  What can I say about a chicken who is so dependent?  Every single time I step into the pen there she is, asking for a cuddle.  A dear cousin called last night and suggested I just stuff Betty into the bib of my bibbies and use that as a baby sling.  Betty would love that, I'm sure.

Bedtime was a disaster last night.  Every so once in awhile the goats take it in their heads that they're not going into the barn.  It wasn't yet dark, the back of the stalls easy to see, but the girls stood in a clump and looked at me like they'd never gone there in their lives and had no idea what I was asking.  Aarrgh!  "Come on, Sheila!  Come on, Tessie!  Come in and get your treats."  "No, and you can't make us."  Sheila was the worst.  Time after time she'd come just to the gate and I'd get hopeful.  Then she'd back off and rejoin the others.  "Come on, Cindy, please."  She's usually the first in, but not last night.  At last, Esther relented and showed a modicum of good sense, going to her room and munching away on her grain.  The others could hear her and I guess, since she was eating and not being eaten, they decided all at once to do the right thing.  Nothing quite like getting rushed by a herd of goats headed to their stalls.

Poor Bess.  Because I'd had to put her in the feed room the night before while I chased down the fugitives from the chicken pen, Bess got the idea that was going to be part of our routine.  She went in with me while I got the chicken treats and laid down as she had.  "Bess!  BESS!"  She's pretty much deaf; doesn't hear cars drive up or even a knock on the door.  I stomped on the floor to get her attention, telling her that no hens were out of the pen and she could come out now.  Going about the business of putting the chickens to bed with Betty in my arms, of course, and chores for the day were done.

One more day and a wake-up!

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Be Careful...

There is a saying, "Be careful what you wish for."  It's right up there with, "There can be too much of a good thing."  I had hoped that BF Betty would continue to want to be held.  That wish was granted.  I opened the little door to let the chickens out in the morning and Betty all but leaped into my arms and I carried her with me while opening the big door and checking the water bowls.  With goats to tend, I put her down, told her to have a good day, and went about my business.  Later, taking the little kids their milk and trying to pour out of the bucket, there was Betty pecking at my shoe.  "Hey, down here!  I'm down here, lady!"  So I set the bucket down and picked up the chicken.  There was a repeat performance at nightfall.  I'm about ready to change her name to Needy Nellie and get one of those baby slings to carry her next to my chest.  (She's pretty funny.)

Not so funny was finding one of the white pullets and the cockerel waiting outside the pen at dusk.  They'd evidently overcome the clipped-wing inequality and flew over the fence.  Drat!  Fortunately, Bessie, with her failing eyesight, had not seen them and I hurriedly put her in the feed room.  Bess is an inveterate herder and makes it her mission to get the chickens in at night if they are the least bit reluctant and I didn't want to have a wild chase on my hands.  The rest of the flock had to go into the coop before I could open the gate for the two escapees.  Happily, they came in the pen right away, I opened the door for them, they joined the flock, and chicken chores were done for the day.  Poor Bess had no idea why I'd locked her away, but she has a forgiving heart.

I had hurried home from the daily (only three more to go!) radiation appointment, knowing Linda would be coming over.  She traded a cantaloupe for a cold beer, and I don't know who got the better deal.  The melon was delicious.

It was a good day.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016


Meet my new Best Friend Betty.  When I went into the pen to give the chickens their morning slurp of milk on my way back from the barn yesterday, the little red hen again asked to be picked up.  Okay, I've always got time for a chicken snuggle.  And last night, there she was again.  It's not easy to take a selfie with a hen cuddled in your arm at sundown, so this is the best I could do.  I absolutely love it when an animal (or fowl) shows a distinctive personality.  The pullets are fitting themselves into the flock well.  The older hens sometimes put the youngsters in their place with a well-timed bonk on the head, just as they discipline the ground squirrels when they get too pushy.

There is a trainee in the radiation-oncology office.  She was having difficulty getting me in position for the machine to do its thing yesterday.  The staff was letting her struggle on her own; she must learn to do it herself.  It probably didn't help that I started laughing as she pulled and pushed me this way and that like a side of beef.  I know full well that this is serious business, but honestly, it's pretty funny.  Finally she broke out laughing, too, and then it went much smoother.  Only four more trips!

Had a lovely phone call from Clay in the afternoon.  Here's a shout-out to the gang at Bimbo Bakery who, Clay tells me, follow the blog (especially Charlie).  Thanks, fellas.

We've lost about an hour of daylight as we begin to change seasons.  Six-thirty now and the sun isn't quite up, and sundown comes at eight.  Not so long ago it was still light at nine o'clock.  Pretty soon I'll have to change all the clocks again.  Sigh.

Monday, August 8, 2016

Another Pick Up

There were a lot of raised voices and verbal sparring going on in the chicken pen all morning as the newcomers were placed in pecking order by the older established residents.  By afternoon there was "peace in the valley" again.  The pullets are of a size to be able to hold their own against the hens and if I was right about the cockerel, he'd be inclined to protect his girls anyhow.  I don't know how much damage Nicholas could inflict.  He has enormous, four-inch-long spurs, but they get in his way even when he walks.  He's quite a high-stepper, as he must lift a foot up and over the spur on the opposite leg or risk tripping and falling flat on his face.

I don't usually watch NASCAR road races (as opposed to oval track) because camera coverage is spotty.  Yesterday at Watkins Glen, NY, a blimp was used to full advantage and it was a lot more fun to see the entire track with the aerial shots.  Poor old Clint Bowyer can't catch a break.

On purpose, I waited until almost too late to put the chickens to bed last evening.  It's their natural inclination to go under cover for the night, and that would make it a lot easier than chasing down the newbies who were out of their element in the big coop and not used to that routine yet.  My plan worked, with one exception.  Remember way back when when Pick-Me-Up Peggy would ask to be held before bedtime?  One little red-headed youngster hid around the corner waiting, and came to me as I was shutting the smaller door.  Prepared for a great chicken chase, it surprised me when she just stood there and let me pick her up.  It might have been first-day insecurities and I won't give her a name unless this behavior continues.  I hope it does.  There's something special about a hen who snuggles in your arms and almost purrs as her head is stroked before being tucked in for the night.

Today is the first day of the last week of radiation.  Ta da!

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Good, Better, Best

An instructor asked the college class, "How many of you are happy fifty percent of the time?"  Some hands went up, but I did not raise mine.  "How many would say you are happy thirty percent of the time?"  More hands went up, but again not mine.  I had thought he was going to go higher, not lower, and he continued to drop the numbers.  It was just sad, in my mind, that so many could only find happiness in such small doses.

Not every day is a good day, but there is some good in every day, to my way of thinking.  Admittedly, sometimes it's pretty well hidden and it is only on bedtime reflections that one realizes there were some bright spots, after all, and it was a good day.  Then there are the better days when everything goes smoothly, you had a nice visit with friends, the laundry danced on the line, the girls went easily through the milking routine, and there is a sense of accomplishment and contentment at sundown.

And then, for me, there are the best days, days spent in the company of one or all of my Kids.  As a surprise, Dave drove up yesterday morning by himself and we sat in the kitchen and talked all day.  His current construction site (he's a foreman) has him driving to the Bay Area every day, so I doubt the hour's ride up here seemed appealing and I appreciated his visit even more.  "Oh, yes, go up to Mom's and be miserable!"  Dave has a severe allergic reaction to cats and must dose himself with eye drops and medication when he comes up.  Since Ralph and Celeste sit on the "fur"niture. we stayed in the kitchen on stools at the breakfast bar to minimize his symptoms.  Curiosity got the better of Ralph and he jumped up on the counter to check out my guest.  Dave didn't move or say a word, but he gave Ralph "the look."  Ralph's eyes got as big as saucers and he slowly backed away before jumping down and leaving the room.  Dave's look had made Ralph a believer.  I laughed so hard I almost fell off my stool.  It was great to play catch-up with my son, and there's nothing quite like hearing "Love you!" as my Kids leave.

Having two pens of chickens has been twice the work and I've been waiting for the pullets to get big enough to move to the big coop.  Introducing new chickens into the flock must be done after dark to minimize possible warfare.  It's also much easier to catch a sleeping hen than to run after her during the day.  The time had come last night and I put on my lighted hat and grabbed a small pair of scissors to clip wings.  The pullets had been flying up on the roof of their coop and that wouldn't do in the big, open pen.  I'd learned from experience to clip the feathers on just one wing, otherwise they can still get lift and fly.  Eight times I went into the little pen, reached in to get a chicken, clip the wing, and take it over to settle in with the bigger hens.  I'm afraid one of the pullets is, in fact, a cockerel and I can only hope that Tsar Nicholas will tolerate the competition.  The sleeping flock opened an eye, ruffled their feathers, and moved over to make room for the newcomers.  I can only hope for peace this morning.

All in all, yesterday was one of the best!

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Start To Finish

After I finish with barn chores, Bess likes me to take her outside.  She's perfectly capable of going out on her own but she likes my company and I enjoy hers, so we go together.  I miss sitting on the bench at the south end of the deck, but at this time of year we stay in the shade by the dining room where there is a small table and a couple of chairs.  "Now how did a leaf get caught in the porch light way up there?"  (I said to Self.  I talk to Self a lot.)  Curiosity got me and I had to look.  Had this moth been anywhere else, I would have missed it completely, so well camouflaged.  It made for an interesting start to the day.

The trip to Cameron Park was uneventful; another week crossed off the calendar.

I'd just finished an early dinner when a neighbor called.  Could I see smoke over to the north from my place?  She'd heard sirens, never a good sound.  Going out to look, I could see a smoky haze, but no column or plume.  Of course I called Camille and left a message.  It's the Fair Play version of jungle drums.  She called back shortly and had checked the local FB page.  There was a fire burning up Slug Gulch and down on Rocky Bar Road, a fairly inaccessible area not far from here.  Cam called again a little later and said "they" were asking for people with pickup trucks to help transport the fire crews down to the line.  It was about an hour before sundown so I jumped in my truck (4WD) and took off.  Anything to help those who do so much for us.  As it turned out when I got to the staging site, no one had asked for trucks and none were needed so it seemed prudent to just get out of their way.  The best part of this story is that the fire was contained to about ten acres and was out before dark.

An interesting day, start to finish.

Friday, August 5, 2016

Who Needs It?

I'll give the little guy this, he's got moxie.  (He's on the right, she's on the left.)  The two were locked in a game of tug-of-war over a shrouded victim, flailing at each other with those long legs as they balanced on the delicate web.  Mules can't hold a candle to spiders when it comes to stubbornness; they stayed locked on for the duration of my time in the barn, neither willing to give up the prize.  Who needs TV?

Ralph and Celeste don't need television to amuse themselves, either.  They sit at the front screen door and watch live "Tom and Jerry" cartoons, or, in this case, I guess it's "Jerry and Jerry."  The family of ground squirrels put in a change-of-address card and have officially made themselves at home here.  The cats don't bother with kek-kek-kek anymore, but sit with swiveling heads to watch the youngsters run back and forth on the front porch, sometimes so brazen as to come up on the step and stare back at the cats.

What is it about Thursdays?  There was more traffic yesterday than there's been all week combined, going and coming.  I pulled over a couple of times on Bucks Bar on the way out to let cars go past (and I wasn't going slow, either), and three times on the way back.  I don't like people riding up my tailpipe, nor will I be pushed to speed up over 45 on that winding road.  Being in a hurry didn't pay off for some poor sucker.  Coming around a particularly bad blind curve on a steep section known as The Devil's Elbow, there was a man standing in the road to stop traffic.  I asked if he were all right, and he said, "Yeah, he's okay."  Rounding the bend, there was a pickup truck on its side, the contents of its bed scattered over the road.  Somebody's day was ruined, for sure.  I'm glad "he's okay," whoever he is.  I was pleased, however, that I made it past before the cops, EMTs, and tow-trucks arrived or I'd probably be there still.

Cartoons in the morning, drama in the afternoon, and a gorgeous evening nature show.  Who needs TV?

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Beyond This Place

When Old World cartographers ran out of known territory, they would put a warning on their maps, "Beyond this place there be dragons," definitely more scary than "Do not enter."  On opening the gate to the goat pen yesterday, there they were:  dragon(flies).  Where there had been none, overnight squadrons had massed in the heated air over the pen.  Hovering, rising, circling, darting back and forth like the helicopters they so remind me of.  I'm always glad to see the dragonflies arrive, and not just for their aerial acrobatics.  They feed on the clouds of tiny, irritating midges that dance before my and the goats' eyes at this time of year.

Since discovering the tiny lump that sent me on this latest journey, I've often felt that somewhere in the reams of information given there should be printed, "Beyond this place there be dragons," as it certainly requires a step off into the unknown.  Next will come five years of anti-hormone therapy, a pill a day, and whatever side effects that brings.  This for someone who, if I take a half-dozen aspirin a year, it's a bad year.  Once again I'm going into uncharted waters.

So far, so good.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Turning Events

Seeing two daddy-longleg spiders in the same web is not the norm.  He (smaller abdomen) was motionless and I thought it might be a case of deadly romance.  He might have come over for a little hanky-panky and she, like the Black Widow, killed him dead afterward.  If Beau thought I had a screw loose by feeding the mice and giving them milk, I don't want to know what he'd think if he saw me catching flies and feeding them to the spiders.  Hey, it's a challenge and a way to fill time when a nonmilker is on the stand.  Anyhow, I dropped a fly (they have to still be wiggling) into the web for the female.  And then, before she could get to it, the smaller male sprang to life, dashed over and grabbed the prize!  That little booger had been lying doggo in the more successful lair.  I felt bad for her, so caught another fly and dropped it in another spot near her while Mr. Greedy Gut was busy wrapping up his take-out meal.  What an unexpected turn of events.

"Let me get this straight.  Four weeks of treatment and an additional week of booster radiation, right?  Five weeks in all."  I had asked the doctor several times before declining that fifth week.  One of the techs later had said, "Then your last day will be on the 12th."  "No, the calendar I was given showed the 19th, after four weeks."  "I don't think so, but I'll check."  There had been some major miscommunication going on because when I again asked for clarification yesterday, I'd been scheduled for three weeks of accelerated radiation and a fourth week of booster (which I'd declined).  In a most welcome turn of events, I'll be done with go-to-town in this and one more week!  Ta da!!

It was a good day.  (Not for the flies.)

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Quick Change Artist

I'm beginning to feel like an Edwardian lady, what with all this changing of attire on go-to-town days.  Bibbies for barn work, jeans and a clean top for the doctors' office (they're only interested in my upper half), back to bibbies to put the kids to bed, and lastly a nightie.  It also makes for a mountain of laundry.  The dog gets depressed when I put on a bra because she knows I'll be leaving.  Living alone as I do, I don't bother anymore at home.  The bib on bibbies hides a multitude of sins and/or deficiencies and, at my age, nobody looks anymore anyhow.  That implement of torture is the first thing off when I get home.  Ahhh!

Monday appointments are going to take longer, as that's "see the doctor" day.  Yesterday I was informed that they want to extend treatment for an additional week for targeted booster radiation.  On finding that it would "boost" chances by only a degree or two, I declined.  All this changing clothes is getting to me.

I'm running late, the computer keeps locking up, I've got feed to unload from the truck, and I've got to get dressed.

Monday, August 1, 2016

Warm Cockles

Yesterday was a "feel-good" day.  Marginally cooler (a couple of degrees), barn chores went a little easier.  I got that old standby, a three-bean salad, put together and in the fridge to chill as my contribution to the afternoon meal.  In the cab of my truck was a hodge-podge collection of stuff that needed to be removed so as to put the back seat down, so that was the next task.  Rather than caravan with separate vehicles, Arden and Camille would ride with me to meet Linda at her store.  Getting a phone call from my daughter is always such a pleasure.  They're in the throes of having a new roof put on so it wasn't exactly a day of rest for them.  I was ready and waiting when Arden arrived and we loaded up.  Proud of myself, I remembered to get the bean salad out of the refrigerator.  We met Cam down at the bottom of her long driveway and off we went.

Linda lives in Pollock Pines, northeast of here, and the route to her house is even more convoluted than to Farview.  She had offered to drive the three of us, and we accepted.  Home improvement seems to be the order of the day.  Linda has been clearing property as well as having her house painted, and an unexpected project cropped up yesterday.  The promised air conditioner had gone kerphlooey.  She placed several small fans in the kitchen where we congregated so the A/C was hardly missed.  Good conversation trumps A/C any day.  Later we enjoyed a meal of baked salmon and a spinach salad with fresh strawberries and slivered almonds.  It was then, and only then, that I realized I'd left the bean salad in my truck.  Sigh.  After gelato with elegant toppings out on the deck, Linda drove us back to my truck.  Another great meeting of the Ladies of Fair Play.

Later, sitting on my deck with Bessie Anne, I received a message from Dave telling me that "my boys" in the Freed Spirits are planning, on their own initiative and without a suggestion from him, to ride up again to "take care of Momma's to-do list."  Talk about making a gal feel good!

The layer of smoke still in the air at sundown was more widely dispersed than yesterday.  We could smell as well as see it.

All in all, it was a day to warm the cockles of my heart.  (I'll be eating three-bean salad for a week.)