Monthly Archives: October 2017

Guard Duty

Farm animals. Working animals. Some of them take their jobs serious.

Say the phrase “working animal” and several things may come to mind.

Dogs – they guard the house, assist the handicapped, and sniff out the criminal and the explosive.

Horses – strength and training combine to have them pull all sorts of useful and entertaining vehicles. Buggies. Wagons. Farm implements. Parade floats. And many of them hold their head taking pride in their work.

Cats – urban residents may not want to admit it — but felines (when allowed to roam) cut down on the rodent population. Often they are aided in this task by large birds. Yum, yum, mouse supper.

And then we have today’s featured guest. Definitely guard duty. And a creature I don’t want to anger or do battle with.

GOOSE – with attitude.

Carefully collected

Autumn. Fall. Harvest. A time to gather together the bounty of the earth and store it for the bleak winter to come.

Growing up on a farm, this was one of the busiest times of the year. The oats were threshed (later combined), a final crop of hay gathered, and then the corn. These days there’s a soybean harvest also. Long, busy days full of dust and noise and satisfaction.

The final vegetables from the garden were picked. Or dug. Some ended up preserved in jars. Some, like potatoes or squash, in a wooden box to story in a cool, dry, dark place. Onions were  pulled, the long tops braided together and hung on a nail in a cool, dry place.

It’s different when living in the city. Items we considered useful but messy are used for decoration. Cornstalks at the grocery store? One straw bale set out where the weather could attack from all sides?

An elegant, colorful, seasonal display.

Kid’s Game

Me! Mine turn! Let me do it!

We’ve all either shouted or listened to others call out the above.

A little competition can be good. It will make you strive for your best. And at times you may even surprise yourself — and to something better or faster than you were aware of.

It’s best to keep it friendly. Words or gestures for a job well done often encourage people of all ages and sizes to put in an even better effort next time.

These kids – some are adults – love to play “king of the rock”.

Extremely distant relative of “Rocky – The Great Northern Goat”.                          Do you remember what he advertised?

A Safe Place?

My thumbs are pale, pale green. This is especially true with my attempts at a vegetable garden.

Now don’t get me wrong. Aside from a possible drowning if we get too much spring rain, the plants start out great. My tomato plants are both tall and bushy. One eggplant reached for the sky and challenges my own height.

The problem is thieves. In gray coats (some may be brown). They arrive when I’m not watching and steal the produce before it is ripe. Do green tomatoes have a nutrient lacking in the normal squirrel diet?

So far, these have survived. My friends the rabbits – in league with the squirrels – have not dined on the tops. My hope is that when I dig these up in the next couple of weeks I’ll have enough carrot to roast with some meat.

Considering  a switch to all root crops next year. Suggestions?

 

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.

 

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.