Category Archives: Blog

Mud Bath

The mention of this farm animal is an insult to some. And yes, it can be used in that manner. Like many words — English has given it many connotations through the years.

Our neighbor called them “mortgage lifters” for their ability in a good year to bring the farmer cash in a relatively short amount of time.

The market is strong for them. Americans do love their bacon, ham, and pork chops. Six months from birth to market at 200 pounds is what my father aimed for. Yes, the cash was welcome. And paid bills — for farmers have plenty of those.

On a hot September day, a nice roll in the mud helps prevent sunburn.

 

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On the River Bank

The water slides past in silence. Millions and billions of drops, collected into depressions and moved by gravity. The small units merge until they are measured not by pints or buckets or barrels, but by cubic feet per minute as they hurry on their way.

Downstream. Always seeking the lower elevation. They would go deep into the earth if a hole opened.

They don’t appear to rush as I stand high on the shore. And I let my thoughts drift. Where are they bound? Will they be diverted into the water system of a town or city? Or evaporate, defying gravity until they form a cloud? It’s pleasing to think of them having an adventure, passing new places, until they join the mighty waters of the Gulf of Mexico and the ocean beyond.

Mighty Mississippi — The Father of Waters

A Flock of Many Colors

And types. Rather like going to a farmer’s market in a large city.

The clothing, language, and favorite perfumes may vary. At times they may cause much head shaking and mumbling. But under the feathers, they’re all poultry.

Don’t worry. These birds will not be going to market. Their task in life is to entertain and educate young humans.

Harvesting

October. Autumn. Fall.

The season of harvest. And giving thanks for the harvest.

This little fellow appeared to be hard at work feasting and harvesting.

When I spied him at the local botanical garden, he impressed as a creature come to life from the pages of a children’s story book. And in case you can’t tell from the photo — he’s agile with a good sense of balance. The flowers he’s among vary in height from one to two feet. And they are on the edge of a lily pond.

One false step and he’s swimming next to a taro plant.

Nibble. Nibble. Stuff. Stuff. He samples the new flower fruits and pushes them into cheek pouches for transport to his burrow.

 

A Quarter Plus

One of the parks in the area includes several types of farm animals. I visited recently on a warm, fall day and had a great time while immersed in some of the smells and sounds of my youth.

We never had horses while I was growing up. (Prior to WWII my parents farmed with horses and without electricity or indoor plumbing. There are advantages to being a Baby Boomer.)

This fine animal lookout out of the stable door is a Quarter horse. An excellent choice for pleasure riding.

And in case you don’t like the idea of only a quarter of a horse…

I give you a different quarter of a different horse.

Remember to tend to both ends of the animal.

Sunny Day Work

Growing up on a farm had advantages. (Also disadvantages, but we’ll save those for another time.)

We raised dairy cows. Cattle have a large appetite. And since Wisconsin has a season called WINTER, much of the year hay was included in their diet. Raking was one of the jobs I was frequently given during haying season. (Beginning in late June and continuing to two, sometimes three cuttings.)

My father, or sometimes an older brother, would mow the alfalfa (or clover) and it would dry as it laid in the field for one, two, or three days. They I would be assigned to rake it. It one of these:

This was a job for sunny days. I’d drive the tractor and putt along the field from one end to the other, the rake swishing the hay into a long, loose windrow ready for the baler. A large straw hat, long sleeves, and long pants protected me from the hazard of sunburn. Bumping over gopher holes made me thankful for a padded seat. But it was fun! Time to think. Sing. Daydream about the future.

Did you have a favorite chore or job while growing up?

Cat-o-phalge

Have you ever gotten the feeling you’re being watched?

You glance around but don’t see anyone. So you look again.

There she is. Minding her own business. If you accept the fact her business is to inspect and approve any visitors.

She’ll listen to your conversation. Appear to nod off as the humans talk. Don’t let the closed eyes fool you. She’s listening. Gathering every sound in the room via her sensitive years.

Thinks to be thankful for. Calicos have not mastered speaking English.

A Tick-Tock in Time

This summer I’ve visited several historical houses and sites. Part of this if due to a love of history. The other part is the writer in me doing research for a future project.

A great number of houses on the frontier contained a clock. It makes sense. American clock makers knew their customers. And produced a sturdy, quality product. They also knew that as settlers moved West – into the Ohio, Mississippi, and Missouri river valleys – telling time would be important. Here the villages would be small, farms isolated, and the tower clocks of churches and town halls non-existent.

As they tick-tocked day and night in a place of honor on the mantle, they provided a pleasant view and perhaps a bit of a status symbol.

This wooden movement shelf clock was built prior to 1835

by one of America’s best – Seth Thomas.

Urban Entertainer

Do you enjoy watching acrobats?

Then you’ll love today’s featured animal.

He’s plentiful in St. Louis. I’m not sure, but they may outnumber the humans. Very difficult to get accurate census figures for the critters.

Without humans, they would do very well in trees. Trees provide them with home building materials, home sites, and food. However, when humans are added to the mix they have no qualms about stealing fruits and vegetables from the branch or vine to supplement their diet. Like wise if you put up a bird feeder. Most of them see this as a challenge — a problem to be solved. It makes for good entertainment but a messy patch of ground under an empty bird feeder.

I’ll admit it. The times my father had a successful hunt, I ate the meat with the rest of the family. Prepare more than one per person. Not much meat per squirrel.

Old-Fashioned Laptop

You may be reading this on a laptop. Some days I write the blog on one. The modern, electronic version.

But the need for a portable, secure writing desk has been around for some time. The first time I saw one — more elaborate than the one below — was in a display of Napoleon’s mobile headquarters.

This portable desk held all the necessary supplies: paper, ink, quill, and blotter. And while this did not follow a general on the battlefield, it enabled the Justice of the Peace to write decisions and letters while away from home. And in Missouri during the early decades of the 1800’s you could not always depend on your boarding house, inn, or host to have these items available.

From my brief inspection. I believe if it was filled with modern pens and pencils, and paper and folded to it’s compact position — you could use it as an airline carry-on. Imagine the other passengers as you unfold it and work while waiting at the gate.