Friday, June 20, 2014

Wild Kingdom

Here are some of the things about Summer that I hate:

We are in the period of heat and stinking high humidity.  You can hardly breathe at midday.  This morning, I was out using the trimmer before seven a.m.  I worked up a good sweat.

A giant black snake is helping himself to eggs in the chicken house.  Okay, okay... he does a service by keeping the mice and rats down to a minimum.  I suppose he is entitled to a share of the eggs in return.  However, I am sometimes startled by his unexpected presence and I have to look in each nest box before placing my hand inside!

Something has killed and eaten three ducks this week.  I'm thinking a little family of possums or raccoons.  They do us no service that I can recall.

The first kill was through hardware cloth which had been pried loose.  I repaired it and thought all was now safe.  Wrong.  The second kill was through a corner of exterior plywood which was pried loose.  I charged up the drill and drilled holes for the new long stainless steel screws.  I screwed them down with the drill into solid wood supports.  "This is a good repair," I thought.  They cannot pull this apart.

It was not pried loose.  The predator CHEWED A HOLE through the plywood in order to slither through and get the third duck.

These are some clever, determined creatures.  I'll have to place a new piece of plywood over the existing one and screw it down in short sections.  But first:

The remaining ducks will not go into the duck house tonight.  I will set a Havaheart trap with dog food inside with the door of the duck house closed and locked.  They can use their entrance hole to get in.

Will this work?  Who knows.  They'll probably manage to eat the dog food and get away.  Why do I feel like a frustrated old fool trying to outsmart a woodland creature -- or like Sylvester trying to catch Tweety Bird?

Friday, June 13, 2014

Summer Vignette

The old fellow goes out to the garage and hops on the riding mower. His wife hasn't hidden the key and it starts up. He mows odd meandering paths around the property. They reflect the meandering of his mind.

“I don't see no more grass to mow,” he tells his wife when he goes back inside.

“It looks fine,” she says kindly. She is now on her second round of child raising.

She cannot relax or take a break for more than fifteen minutes. He has tipped the three-wheeler over during a rain storm and lain in the mud for over an hour. He used to regularly run down the tractor battery when he tried to use it, or fix it, and left the key in the “on” position. Male relatives managed to convert most of the accessible farm machinery so that keys could be removed. The riding mower is the only toy he is allowed to use.

He is bored and restless, having led an active life prior to this. Now, there are regular doctor visits and short day trips his wife devises to keep him out of trouble. He is not allowed to drive the pickup anymore. The last time he did, he quickly became disoriented and luckily a relative stopped him before he left the private rural lane.

He sleeps deeply in the lounger in front of the television. The Andy Griffith Show blares on, but he doesn't seem to hear it.

I've brought over a bucket of duck eggs, which the wife likes for baking. She invites me in and we take a tour of the small home to look at her vast collection of pig figurines, knickknacks, baskets, and key chains. She's been collecting them for many years and they fill the tops of her kitchen cabinets and the spare bedroom. I express admiration and we walk back to the kitchen through the living room.

I sneak a look at the pale man in the chair. He is breathing so shallowly that I briefly wonder if he's died.

He is okay and the next day his wife stops by as she picks up her newspaper and I weed the garden in the early morning. We stand by the fence and have one of our more frequent conversations on nothing in particular and lots of small unimportant topics. We both need the diversion.

The husband has expressed concern over our llama, which he hasn't seen in several days. I explain that Zorio has been staying inside the barn during the hot, humid days. He needs a Summer haircut, but won't stand for me to shear him. The goats are going out llama-less in the meantime. However, the llama is healthy and is getting hay and feed inside during the day and can graze during the cooler nights.

She will tell her husband to assure him that there is nothing to worry about.

I muse on the mystery of declining minds and aging bodies. I think about the bond of kindness and patience in long term marriages.

Sunday, June 08, 2014


We are beginning the transition into summer as the humidity slowly cranks up. 

There are more lightning bugs at night than I can remember from years past.  My colored lights are working to keep the deer away from the daylilies and the first blooms are appearing.  I didn't realize how much I missed their lovely blossoms.

Speaking of deer, they've dropped their fawns in protected fenced pastures and cool woodsy spots.  They give it away by running in front of my UTV as I zip along.  I guess the instinct is to divert potential danger away from the hiding places.  They evidently have no idea how little incentive I have to chase them.

The cows are also doing the reproductive thing as well.  We have three brand new calves that I know about.

I love the way that my cows smell -- milky and sweet.  The other smells of early summer include chamomile, honeysuckle, and fresh mown hay.

The hay sheds are filling up as the "hay conglomerate" gathers big round bales from area fields.

Meanwhile, all my mowers and trimmers are in working condition, allowing me to keep the lawns and grassy areas under control (for now.)