Dense Fog Alert.
When I see that pop up on my smarty pants phone, I get the shivers. I love how fog shrouds the landscape in its ghostly way, but I don’t like driving in it. Fortunately, I was driving home from work when it was still a general mist. Not enough to induce panic, but enough to widen my eyes and appreciate that strange feeling of floating in a sea of nothingness. Driving on rural roads banked with flat cropland covered in snow and layered with mist leaves no notion of landmarks. It’s an eerie feeling. By the time I got home, I felt a sense of relief.
There’s only so much “floating in a sea of white” that I can take. Once home though, the mist became The Fog. With a vengeance. Thus the always helpful, “hey-just-in-case-you-didn’t-know-already” Dense Fog Alert. No problem, I’m not driving. Except drat, my cat has a vet appointment in an hour. And the fog is getting more and more heavy-handed. Oh Siri, so you gotta let me know, should I stay or should I go now. If I go there will be trouble (I can’t see in front of me) an’ if I stay it will be double (the cat is scratching her ears, and her nails are digging into me).
I opted not to go and will pay double. Thanks for the options Clash. It’s a white, white world out there and I think I’ll play it safe. The cat got a reprieve. She doesn’t have to go the vet. She doesn’t know how close she was to her most unfavorite car ride. But don’t worry kitty, a reprieve is just that, a mere postponement. In two weeks time we will be visiting the vet. It’s called, “rescheduling due to inclement weather”.
Don’t give me that look, or I’ll have them give you a bath too!! (p.s. love you cat!)
When one is bestowed a beautiful, snow-carpeted day, one must go forth and explore. Cue me and out the door I go to follow some tracks. I am not a professional tracker by any means. But I can pick up subtle movements laid down in the snow. What’s this? Looks like, tracks. Tire tracks. Upon closer inspection I determine these to be tractor tire tracks. It was the silo that tipped me off.
Emboldened by my discovery, I pushed onward. No stranger to harsh winters and blinding snow, I remained fearless in the daunting cold. (if not the snow, something’s sure getting thick around here)
But what is this? More tracks on my trek. I see small animal prints going one way due south I believe, and a larger Platypus-like print going due west, no doubt for better foraging grounds. Those are fierce-looking tracks large and small.
Walking the perimeter, scanning the horizon, I hoped to come across the creatures that laid bare their path in this barren snow.
When lo, I spy…the elusive creature, Felis Barnus Caticus. Around these parts he is well known for his skills at climbing onto and into parked cars, peering through kitchen windows and preying on bits of blueberry bagel. Felis Barnus Caticus is looking a little stout by the way. Must be the winter coat.
To be clear, Felis Barnus Caticus should not be confused with another elusive creature known as Felis Domesticus Spoiled-Rottenus Caticus. Similar in stature to Barnus Caticus, this derivation of Caticus is conditioned to and owns the indoor territory. Every inch of it. In fact we had to move into the barn. It’s cold.
That still leaves us with the mystery of the Platypus-like tracks. But I have it figured out. It’s Yeti! In Wisconsin! Yay, my husband will be so pleased! Not pleased. It was just me. Yeti me. Happy trails for the New Year!
It was a quiet, foggy day here on the farm, lending itself well for general indoor activities. That is until Action Figure Pete came stomping in the door with his giant Mickey Mouse farm boots and proceeded to say “Oh um”. Rats, whenever he starts a sentence with “oh um” I know I’m in for it. My quiet morning reverie began to look a little more like this:
In other words, it’s procedure time. There are moments when Action Figure Pete needs a helping hand when his two are not enough. So I pulled on my big girl boots and faced the situation. Align the mixer chute so that the corn flows into the properly assigned bin. Tractor, check. Mixer, check. Farmer, missing. What am I doing here?
Once AF Pete was present and accounted for, and in the proper tractor driving position, I assumed my designated stance at window number #4, also known as window #5. Window #4 and #5. When did we start assigning numbers to windows and why wasn’t I told? And why two numbers for one mere window? And why don’t I get a number? I’ll give myself a number. I’m #1! Unless there’s a window called #1, then that can get confusing.
Back to it, my job today was to help guide the chute into window 4 or 5. Whatever it calls itself. All this while Action Figure Pete very slowly backs up the tractor/mixer to the window. Which puts me in a bit of a precarious position. I find myself between the proverbial rock and a hard place. I am standing in a puddle of poo between tractor wheels and fence. I’m very mindful of the fact that should the tractor slip and slide, my exit options are few, and boot traction is minimal. So there are a few tense moments making this not one of my favorite procedures.
Thankfully, the chute easily aligns after a little bit of manuevering and down spills the corn into its storage facility. Oh, this is where the mystery of two numbers for one window are solved. Inside, there are two separate bins beneath that window. One to the right and one to the left. Thank god for reason.
This is getting corny.
After the bin was filled to its capacity, we once again maneuvered the chute out of the window without pulling the entire structure down. This is where I did my finest work. I saw the chute about to get caught on the window and pushed with all my minnie might! Clear! Procedure done. Good-bye Action Figure Pete, see you at the next procedure:
Once again this brings home to me how one farmer’s day-to-day activities are much more trickier than my average day at work sitting in front of a computer. What with the season of ice and snow upon us, I just want to say, stay safe to all of you farmers and your families.
November is being very kind to us weatherwise. Yesterday was an excellent day for a perimeter field walk which took me around the fields and down to the creek and back up to the barn in a round about way. It’s a very nice walk in which to check out the nooks and crannies of the property for places to hide. One never knows when one would need to hide, I’m that side of neurotic.
On my way back, I saw Action Figure Pete climbing the ladder to open the feeder, allowing the corn to drop in from the mixer. All this for the big calves’ meals-on-tap. Go, Action Figure Pete, Go! Climb that ladder. And don’t fall down.
In my excitement to see Action Figure Pete, and because I had no way of avoiding him due to my trajectory, I approached with a hearty hello; “S’up Farm Boy?”
“Just normal stuff” said Action Figure Pete.
And that’s all it took, one turn away from the machinery, and the abnormal happens. Kernels of corn started popping, pushing and pulsating up and out of the mixer in classic Jiffy Pop style. I’m not a seasoned farmer’s wife, but I’m pretty sure that wasn’t part of the procedure.
This needed to stop. So I couldn’t understand why A.F. Pete wasn’t cutting the engine. He let it pop. And I just wanted to grab buckets and race around gathering the little poppers before they hit the ground. I can’t stand waste. I’m that frugal.
Those golden nuggets of corn hitting the ground pained me. So I offered to shovel up the random poppers into the wheelbarrow. Every last kernel. With tweezers if necessary. Fortunately, the more rational side of my brain overpowered the crazy and said it’s okay to let some things spill. So I just scooped up the major portions under the watchful eyes of these guys:
Because it’s these guys who count. They don’t like to see their feed randomly pop out of their reach. I understand. So I shoveled and scooped what I could within the realm of reason. Which really didn’t amount to much I suppose.
And now for the gratuitous kitty photo portion of this post! This little barn kitty was exhibiting symptoms of a cold. One vet visit and 2 shots later, she is climbing me like I’m a set of monkey bars. And wolfing down food better than the boys. She is all of one pound and I’m sure she will continue to grow and prove a kindly match to all the other barn cats. Grow baby grow!
My husband always teases me and says that there were no cats on the property until I moved in. Now, cats. Everywhere. Indoor cats, outdoor cats. White cats, black cats. Silly cats, spooky cats. Which brings me to our latest addition to the cat family; Primitive Cat.
He’s a little tarnished and worn on the edges, but that’s what makes him so adorable. Plus, he is cousin to my love, Primitive Guy. Now together they can rap on walls, stomp on floors and make eerie noises in the dead of night. Just what this old farmhouse needs. Makes me proud.
Now that Hallowe’en is drawing nigh, our little Primitive Cat sends out his wishes to you;
Nicely said Primitive Cat. You’ll do just fine here. Let’s go have some fun! Happy Hallowe’en every one!
Yes, I’m falling for it. This season of color and crunch. The leaves have made a clear path whipping from the front yard, around the corner and into a pile-up onto the side porch where the herb garden resides nearby. I have to dig under crispy leaves to cut back my herbs before they give up to freezing temperatures. My little plot o’ herbs has been quite productive. I’ve been giving some away and freezing others. And what I don’t freeze or give away, hangs to dry. But uh oh. I’m running out of places to dry them. So I’ve had to get clever about it and come up with some alternative spaces. Our uncurtained windows seemed just the thing.
I was just waiting for Pete to come in the house and say something about it. But I don’t think he even noticed. I must not have put enough up. I’ll have to put more up. Or maybe hang some from his computer. I bet he still wouldn’t notice. He does have bigger things on his mind like tractors being fixed or crops to harvest. Indeed, the beans were harvested recently in the stealth of night. Where once lay a field of scrappy looking beans is now a neatly cut field. But yay there lies corn beyond.
So while he’s busy with all that harvesting, it’s grape time for me. I cut the grapes from our vine amidst great adversity. I don’t exactly like reaching into the depths of the grape vines with the bunker crop of wasps we’ve seemingly nurtured around here. I think I’d rather deal with mosquitoes. I’m sure I left more on the vines than I picked due to my wussy nature. But I grabbed enough to proceed with canning some jars of jam. Which if all goes well will happen today with the help of Pete’s mom who is well versed in this process. Following wuss protocol, I tend to avoid the combination of heat and glass so I have to call in for the extra help. Fingers crossed explosions will be minimal.
Sadly, with the onset of cold weather, my warm weather studio is now transferred to the confines of the house. Poor little milkhouse, I’ll see you next summer. Some day I will winterize you, and we will be together forever year round.
Falling is hard to do. I’m so reluctant to close the studio, cut back my herbs, and bring in the outdoor furniture. As long as I can, I put those things off. Hence, the little bistro set still lingers under the trees. I heard it’s going to be 70 degrees tomorrow so I’ll let them bask out there for a little while longer. Until it snows.
Oh, and then there’s the porch furniture. That’s troublesome too. I find that I bring in one item at a time to soften the blow of transition. Plants first. Pillows next. Furniture, eh, when it snows. I just can’t do it yet!! Did I mention it’s going to be 70 degrees tomorrow? I might need to sit out there still.
So falling isn’t easy but there are some perks. Like pumpkins, ghosties, and barn cats sitting next to pumpkins.
Oh barn cats, enjoy the the sun while you can, roll around on the ground, chase the falling leaves, and rip the screens out of our windows while the warmth yet lingers, for pretty soon you will be making tunnels in the snow from barn to porch. Let’s all fall down!
Saturday morning presented a muffled landscape of fog. It was the kind of fog that settles in for the long haul, just begging me to to settle in on the porch with my coffee and Rainy the Cat (Mr. Hans, first-cat-in-command, is currently sequestered indoors due to recent surgery) I puzzled out what I might do while these wads of cotton pressed down around us. Cat and I, what can we do? I had an idea. Let’s go Steer Staring. It’s a great game and the steer are always eager to participate. Head to head. Eyeball to eyeball.
The game goes like this; I stand really still and stare at them. They stand really still and stare at me. The first one who turns tail and runs loses. Cats are really good at this game, I lose all the time to Gray Ghost. Not only does she stare me down to the bare bone, she adds an iciness to her stare. I can’t compete.
Anyway, this game kills a lot of time. In fact, it’s a big time waste when I should be doing more productive things. Like laundry. Dishes. Vacuuming. Things that are all so very productive, but let’s go to the steer. Game on. Contestant number one emerges stealth-like from the mist. Good strategy using the cover of the fog as an intimidating factor. I almost didn’t see him coming:
With barely a nod, he pulls in more resources. Good move. More eyeballs to wear me down. I’m still standing strong at this point. But my knees are quivering. The stakes are high. (ha, get it? Stakes? Steer? Yeah, sorry.)
He’s playing rough now. He somehow pulled in more hoofs from the left flank. I didn’t see it coming. I’m almost done in. Steer from the right, steer from the left, more in the back if needed. My cat took off. Thanks cat. I’ve got it. Don’t worry about me and the millions of eyeballs staring me down.
Just when I thought all was lost, this happened:
They took off! I win! I swear I didn’t flinch. Back into the mist they go. And you know what? Me too. Back into the mist and into the house. My winnings are modest. I get a pickle. Yay pickle! But that’s it. Because I know those steer. They are cooking something up to recoup their loss. I still haven’t forgotten when I got my hand stuck in the steer shed and they just stood there and laughed at me. So my win is a quiet and somber one. Respect the steer.
Meanwhile, Mr. Hans is getting lots of love after his surgery. Hang in there little guy, we’ll get that cone off soon:
Whitewashed, glass-tiled, cool in the summer, cold in the winter. That is the milkhouse that has become my studio where I hope to get back to my basic roots of drawing, painting, and at some point, printmaking.
And just in case you think this is all about my artwork, I'll be posting about daily life on a small, working farm as well. And since I didn't grow up on a farm, and have no idea what to do in many cases, you may find a few amusing anecdotes as I grow accustomed to life here.
This will be an evolving, and in all probability, ever-changing site as I figure things out. So stick around and let's see what happens!