Monday, May 28, 2007

Memorial Day, 2007

Because of the price of gas, and the fact that the pickup only gets about 18 mpg, I've decided not to go decorate this year. This makes me very sad because Memorial Day is my favorite holiday and there's not many family members left above the ground.

I was looking over last year's posts on my Memorial Day roadtrip and decided to share them again. If you wish, you can view them here, here and here.

Have a wonderful Memorial Day! I'm going golfing.

Sunday, May 27, 2007


Sunday morning I got this shot of a male Ruby Throated Hummingbird taking his breakfast outside my kitchen window. He and his brethren are on their way to the northern reaches of the world to mate and raise their families before returning to the islands for the winter. Beautiful!
(P.S. I need a better camera!)

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Thoughts of Spring

It's hard to express how spring affects me. Winters seem so long and bleak. Even the blizzards are welcome because then at least something is going on outside. After the mad rush of the holidays, the bitter cold of January, the muddy mess of February and the winds of March, April is so welcome with its gentle warmth and sunshine.

The early flowers, like Daffodils and Tulips, are blooming and the Forsythia is putting on its show. The birds have shed their drab winter coats and found their voices in an effort to attract a mate. You no longer have to wear coats and mud boots just to walk outside. People are out cleaning up their yards of the detritus from winter and working their gardens in anticipation of planting. And the farmers are going gangbusters in the fields.

By the middle of the month the first shoots of corn are peeking out of the ground. I cannot describe the thrill I feel when I drive along the road, looking at all the neatly furrowed fields and I spy that first shoot of green. It affects me the same way every year - I never get tired of it.

I imagine the farmers must feel the same way. That's probably why they break their backs, their hearts and their bank accounts just to see this sight. A farmer I knew back home was asked what he'd do if he won the lottery. "Farm until it's gone" was his answer! Farmers are the biggest gamblers I know. They place a lot of time, effort and money on a piece of dirt and hope that they can get something from it. Kinda like gardeners - only bigger.

Even though these pictures should represent a new field in April, they were in fact taken just last weekend. This year our April had a little bit of January, February, and March all thrown together. It was below zero for the first part of the month, then it blizzarded in the middle of the month and ended with flooding rains. Most of the farmers now have all their corn planted and are working on their beans. There was an old 'saw' that said corn must be all in by May 10th to be knee-high by the 4th of July. I'm told that isn't the case with the new hybrids they raise today. Thank goodness.

Now that May is almost over, the "gentle warmth" is being replaced with the oppressive heat of summer. School is almost out for the year and mothers everywhere are groaning. My garden is in and so far the rabbits haven't gotten too carried away. I imagine that the dogs running in the yard have something to do with that. The yard has been mowed, the grill and outdoor chairs cleaned, the garden tended, and the back porch had it's yearly cleaning. All is right with the world.

Monday, May 21, 2007

New Fence

We have - make that I have - wanted to fence in our back yard for years. We live on an extremely busy corner (this is the main road to the school and the swimming pool) and I always worry that our dogs will get away from me and get run over. It's been a miracle that, of all of the animals we've had since living here, only one cat was ever killed on that street.

Finally DH and I decided that a fence really was in the best interests of our boys, as well as my piece of mind, so I ordered it from the lumber yard and had Pat and Ben Ulrich put it in. Pat is one of Daryl's sons and has moved back to West Bend to help his dad and brother's with all the construction work they do. And these guys do everything - from roofing, framing, any type of construction work to, well, putting in a fence!

Here's a few pictures of the job:

And here's what the boys think of their "new" yard!

After a dozen full out runs around the fence, they have declared that this was a VERY good idea. Thanks Pat and Ben - great job!

Farmers Compost

The fire department was called out last Friday for a fire near Rodman. When they came back I asked one of the guys what the fire was and he told me that a farm compost pile had caught fire. Compost pile?!? I knew they generated heat, but to spontaneously combust?!? "It's the carcasses" he says. "They generate more heat than leaves."


"Yep. Farmers compost their dead critters."



But, I've always been told not to throw meat or dairy in my compost pile because it will attract varmits. And, what about the rendering plant guys. I thought they picked up the dead animals.

"Don't know anything about that," he said. "You need to talk to a farmer who has one."

And so I did. The farmer tells me that since the BSE (mad cow) scare, renderers don't have much of a call for their products so they've raised the price of picking up dead animals. "Used to be $10 an animal, now they charge as much as $30. That's just too expensive."

And so you "compost" them?



"Just cover them with manure and dirt."

Doesn't it smell?


How long does it take for the animal to...ummm.. disintegrate?

"Depends. Hogs pretty fast; cows take a couple of years."

What about the bones? Archaeologists dig up bones thousands of years old. Surely the bones take some time.

"Not really. Hogs completely disappear; cows' skulls and hip bones can take some time. But you can drive over them with the tractor and they just crumble."

(I don't even want to ask about the hoofs. The hoofs scare me.)

Can you use this "compost" in your fields like I use mine in my garden?

"Absolutely. But, actually, there's not much of a pile left after the bugs get through with it. I've been doing this for years and you really can't see much of a pile. Of course, this only works when you have one or two animals which die in a year. When the big hog confinements lose a couple of hundred hogs due to disease, then they call the renderers to dispose of them."

Thank God!

Friday, May 18, 2007


And, of course, we can't forget our other boy - Dusty!


For some time I've wanted to have Elvis' picture taken by a professional photographer. Since he is so black, his beautiful face is just lost in a black void on my camera. I knew that I would need proper lighting to get a good shot of his expressive face. So, last Saturday, DH and I took him to Lisa Thompson at The Darkroom in Algona. Here are the results. Isn't he sweet?

Thanks Lisa!

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

In Case You Haven't Noticed ...

.... I haven't posted much lately. Two weeks ago I started on a colostrum regime. I did this mainly for the health benefits which were purported to occur using colostrum. My friend Kathy had been using Lepi-Trim for a couple of months and for the first time in years she could walk and sleep without pain. She's had both knees operated on for cartilage problems several years ago and she could barely move without pain. The weight loss she experienced was just an added benefit to go with the renewed energy she felt.

I read up on colostrum a bit and could find no ill, or side, effects to taking it and decided to go ahead with the program. I received my package of pills, powders and potions two Saturdays ago - the same day I woke up to an abscessed wisdom tooth. Having read that colostrum will boost your immune system (and having called the dentist only to find out he was gone until the next Wednesday) I decided to go ahead and start taking the stuff. Saturday and Sunday my jaw was so swollen I couldn't shut it. The dull, throbbing ache pretty much assured me I was in the middle of an abscess-induced nightmare. So, I took Tylenol for the pain, took my colostrum pills, used an ice pack and basically never moved off the couch. The only thing I could eat was luke-warm broth and I didn't really feel like eating that.

Sunday night I notice a reduced swelling but figured it was the Tylenol and ice. Monday morning the swelling was almost gone as was most of the pain. By Monday night I could eat and by Wednesday all swelling and pain was gone! (Unfortunately I still have to go to the dentist...ugh.)

I told you all that to tell you this: some people experience a "healing crisis" when they first start taking colostrum. I've read that, as the colostrum drives the toxins out of your body, some people actually feel worse for a while - bloating, diarrhea, rash, etc., etc. My healing crisis has been a full-blown case of the worst palmar pustular psoriasis I've ever had. (Yes-it's just as icky as the name sounds.)

The upshot is that it is arduous to type (and file and write..) so I've not even been leaving comments on blogs which I read like I usually do (not to mention posting anything here). Is it painful? Well, since I compare any "pain" I have to childbirth, then - no - not really. Annoying, more likely. But I have been staying away from the keyboard and even the mouse doesn't feel good in my hand. On the bright side, I've got a ton of energy so I've been getting stuff done around the house and yard that I've put off for lack of initiative. So that's a good thing.

I've got a bunch of stuff in my mind to post, but that will wait. I just wanted you (3 people who read my blog) to know that I have not died. Indeed - I feel great! I just don't feel like typing right now.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Fern Leaf Peony - 2007

This is quite a bit different from this -

The above picture was taken last summer. That early April freeze really took it's toll on my Fern Leaf Peony as well as the Surprise Lillies which you can see in the background. I'll be very "surprised" if they bloom this year.

Below zero temperatures, blizzards and now rain has made this an interesting spring. I did get my garden in the last weekend in April though, and am I glad I did! I usually wait until Mother's Day to plant just to make sure we aren't hit with any late frosts, but we decided to work the ground as soon as it dried out to get our plants in. It was a perfect weekend with temps in the high 70's. The soil was pure heaven to work with. Then it rained the entire next week so we were really glad we hadn't waited.

Needless to say, the farmers are beside themselves with worry. The corn isn't all planted yet and the rains keep them from working the fields. But farmers, and gardeners, are a patient lot.
On another note - it was absolutely gorgeous this past weekend. DH and I golfed and gardened. It was a perfect Mother's Day. I hope all you "mothers" out there had a wonderful weekend as well.