Soil; the dig begins

Friday evening we stepped out the door and on our way to dinner in town. A few steps off the porch I was hit with a distinct smell….not manure if that’s what you’re thinking. That happens too, but this was different. It was, soil! I’ve been living here 4 years now and I’ve never been gobsmacked in the face with such a strong smell of soil. In fact, I had to announce it to Pete. “I smell soil”. Someone must be digging. Sure enough, our neighbor of the field next to ours was out in his tractor churning up the earth, turning the soil and letting loose that delectable smell. It’s digging time.

Field and Tractor

Now the days get a little unpredictable. If the weather is good, any other plans are put aside and Action Figure Pete hits the fields running, engines on, full tractor speed ahead. Go man go. And that’s where I saw him yesterday while I was taking Bowzer B. Dawg for a walk along the tractor road.

MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

Here he comes. Let’s take a Dawg break and watch Action Figure Pete tear up the field. Bowzer B. doesn’t really like taking a break when he’s doing some serious dog walking. He’s pretty goal oriented that way. I mean it took Bowz about 10 minutes before his butt slowly maneuvered into a true sit position. Sometimes he’ll hold it in mid-air for a long while in case I change my mind and do continue walking. But I held my ground and waited for the tractor’s approach.

Tractor and Farmer

Oh how nice. He stopped for a visit.

Tractor Farmer Approaches

“No need to stop. Keep digging. I’m just walking Dawg.”

Tractor Farmer Approaches

Nope. He’s still coming. “Don’t you have to keep digging? Don’t you have a deadline? Why do you look so serious?”

Soil 7

“‘Sup there tractor-boy?” Turns out tractor-boy had something to say. And it sounded like a pick-up line that I’d expect to hear in a night club,

“Look at my new drag!!”

Whaaat? Er. Okay. What’s a drag? Well, it’s a $5000 piece of equipment attached to the back of the tractor behind the disc. All gleaming metal and chains. A girl would be impressed. And I am. Looks pretty. What does it do, besides dragging that is? Well, it helps even out the soil that the disc just turned up and over. It kinda sounds like a paradox but okay. It smooths out the soil that you just took the time to dig up. Dig and drag.

Tractor and Drag

After being duly impressed with the new drag, Action Figure Pete leaped back into the tractor cab to carry on. But not without first cracking the door open one more time so I could hear the radio cranked up high and filling the cab with classic rock, nice and loud, nodding his head to the pounding beat. Slamming the door shut, he bounced the tractor on its wheels up and down a few times like a souped-up ride before turning up the next row. That’s right, you bounce that field Pete.

Tractor Farmer Head On

Next time you’re driving along and you see a farmer digging his field, nod your head to the beat he’s got going. It’s soil baby.

The Mummies’ New Adventure

“We’re bored” said the mummies. You would be too if you were all wrapped up with nowhere to go, stuck in a room waiting for a more permanent spot on the farm. And where do mummies on a farm go anyway? So they cooked up a scheme for themselves while I lay sleeping. Those scheming mummies. Most of their work happens at night so I might as well get some sleep and let them do some work for a change.

mummy group

What they did surprised me. They got themselves signed onto a new fashion ecommerce company called shopvida.com that connects artists worldwide with producers in a way that brings them back to life. You can imagine how happy the mummies are about that. I am too. The mummies and other drawings I’ve done are reinterpreted into tops and scarves. I can now wear my mummies! And so can anyone else if one so desires. How cool is that!

Mummies on dress form

This ecommerce company has a story that I feel I can get behind. Not only does it give my mummies something better to do, but shopvida.com collaborates with multidisciplinary artists to produce custom apparel while at the same time, providing education for the makers of the final product allowing them to go on to build a better life for themselves and their families. It may only be one small way that I can help give someone else a leg up in this world, but I’ll take it if I can. I’ve always been hapless with volunteering. I can’t build a house, I’m awkward around strangers, and the last time I volunteered to pick up trash in a park, there wasn’t enough trash! So the mummies and I are in on this one. We now have a collection on shopvida.com. http://shopvida.com/collections/voices/micka-klauck,

maskie top

If you do visit, be sure to read the company’s back story. It really is enlightening. Plus, the wealth of artists and their product is simply beautiful and one of a kind. And it’s made to order. It’s not running off the press like yesterday’s rag. All custom-made items are printed, stitched, and hand-finished before it gets to you.

ForestMist scarf

I don’t know how this will ultimately go I’ll be honest with you, but it is a kick in the pants to get back to some drawing. Now that warmer weather is approaching, the milkhouse studio will be opened, aired out and back in business. Which means maybe I can start working on some Primitive Cat studies…

Primitive Cat Sketch

Because every mummy needs a cat.

*Disclaimer note: I did not take the photos of the dress form images. Those are composite images of my artwork on the apparel provided by shopvida. Just wanted to mention that. Otherwise, the mummies and primative cat…yeah, me.

 

Kitty Reprieve; it’s a white world

Dense Fog Alert.

Foggy Laundry Line

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.

Foggy Barn

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).

Foggy Road

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”.

Gray Ghost Domestic Gray

Don’t give me that look, or I’ll have them give you a bath too!! (p.s. love you cat!)

 

Trek Trak Yeti 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.

Tractor Tire Tracks

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.

tracks crossed

Walking the perimeter, scanning the horizon, I hoped to come across the creatures that laid bare their path in this barren snow.

Field and Home

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.

snow leopard cat

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.

House cat

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!

making tracks

Foggy day procedure

MistyCalves.jpg

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:

PoopPuddle.jpg

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?

ReadySetTractor.jpg

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.

Window4or5.jpg

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.

GettingReady.jpg

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.

CornFlow.jpg

This is getting corny.

CornPile.jpg

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:

TractorGoing.jpg

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.

BarnRoofLine.jpg

Accidental Popcorn

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.

Farm and Field

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.

Action Figure Pete Climbs Ladder

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.

Pete and MixerAnd 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.

Corn MixerThis 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.

Corn on the groundThose 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:

Cattle Corn CallBecause 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.

Shovelled Feed Corn But what little I did scrape up off the ground, I did haul over to the little guys. I’m not good at this gig I will admit. But if I can do a little, it makes me feel a bit better.

Calves feeding

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!

One Pound Kitten

Primitive Cat

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.

Primitive Cat Portrait

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.

Primitive Cat and Primitive Guy

Now that Hallowe’en is drawing nigh, our little Primitive Cat sends out his wishes to you;

Happy Halloween wishes

Nicely said Primitive Cat. You’ll do just fine here. Let’s go have some fun! Happy Hallowe’en every one!

Primitive Cat Close up

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