Every year my favorite part of the garden is the pumpkins. To be specific, the arbor that the pumpkins grow over. This year I had plans and came home to fine that my hard working husband had built it for me while we were gone for the morning. The pumpkins were just starting to vine at the time, that was a few weeks ago. Now the trellis is nearly covered.
I couldn’t believe that the vines were growing as fast as it seemed so I took pictures. I took them morning, noon, mid afternoon, evening and the next morning. In twenty four hours the vines grew at least six inches. We really could sit and watch them grow.
My parents stopped to see us on the way back from this years grand adventure up the west coast. We had our own much littler adventure camping with them at Fort Robinson, then some time in Chadron and even a little spent at our house. Then my brother and his family came and we all enjoyed each others company for a day. Then my parents went home and we got to spend a few more days with my brother and family. It was so fun and so busy that I would never get this post written if I tried to include everything. So I will stick to pictures, they will convey the idea just as well.
This post is long over due. I don’t know where time went, how did it get to be over a month since I last did anything here? I have to document the start of corn and wheat harvest every year. We often look back to see when we did things last year and this is the easiest place to do so.
So it’s started. They started on the neighbors and it’s going pretty good. After rats destroyed the combine over the winter it’s amazing that it’s going at all. I can never mention enough how awesome my husband is. He spent the spring and early summer coming home from work a little early, disappearing into the quanset where he clean and deconstructed the combine cab entirely. On weekends he spent all day in there, soaked in sweat from the heat. Crammed into that tight little cab with the filth and stink of the rats, until he got every drop of the wiring carefully pulled out.
He took the entire wiring harness into work at his real job and carefully reconstructed it. Many trips down to the giant tractor junk yard were required for parts. We went along and explored as he sweated away inside the cab of a wrecked combine digging out the needed parts. Using the new/old parts to piece together the original the rebuild required countless hours, an office that now smells like rat poop, and approximately one hundred and seventy five connectors. After finishing the careful meticulous job of finding every single chewed through wire, finding the matching end of the wire, and reconnecting them he hauled the entire wiring harness back home to the tractor.
There he continued his cleaning while he hooked back up every piece of electronics in the entire tractor, turn signals, lights, sensors, and controls. There was some flickering but after tightening the ground wires everything worked on the first try! Only a few new parts were required, such as the seat, and he brought the rebuild in under what insurance paid and WAY under what just a new wiring harness cost alone much less after adding the labor to have someone fix it. He saved his dad a fortune.
The much loved combine is back up and going. Small children are once again riding around in a cab that didn’t look as though it would ever go again much less be safe and clean enough for the kids. Have I mentioned that my husband is awesome?
We could feel it coming already on Sunday. The air turned heavy and sticky, the wind blew out of the East. No rain came that night. By Monday the air was heavy with tension. The heavy heat had only intensified and the wind blew hot and cold as the day was at once sticky hot and chilly.
By afternoon weather warnings were everywhere. The clouds were building in the west, small still. Soon the first sever storms were popping up on the Wyoming border, in the open empty country along the Wyoming border up to South Dakota and around Harrison. Still nothing here.
We covered the garden as best we could, made sure the horses shelter was in good shape. They came and helped, looked around a little then followed us back out. We repaired their wind break and picked up any loose toys in the yard, basically battened down the hatches. Still no storm although the sky was cloud covered and the radar showed red getting towards Chadron.
We sat down to supper and finally the storm hit. Big heavy drops first, slow to come, slow to cover the sidewalk. The weather radio couldn’t keep up with the watches and warnings, often interrupting its self to start the new before the original was finished. we debated unplugging things and decided not to worry about it yet. We let Daisy in to cower under the table. I went to see if I could spot the horses, I couldn’t, I did see lightening striking the ground in staccato beat. Each bright flash violently hitting the ground barely beyond the tree row, nearly in the pasture on the hill. Rushing back down to the kitchen I said that I thought we should definitely unplug. That was the end of watching the building storm on radar.
The lights in the kitchen fluttered, blinking on and off. Never all the way off, just enough to be distracting. Then, lightning hit a line somewhere, they pulled down, humming and dim. Then with a crash of nearby thunder they flashed back to full brightness. We were glad to have the computers unplugged.
As we finished eating, interrupted by constant trips up to look out the windows, the weather radio was going insane. Tornadoes on the ground, we listened carefully to hear where they were. Severe storms all around us, yes we could see that. The last of our meal forgotten on the table we watched the pounding rain turn to hail. Few at first, pea sized scattering across the ground as the wind blew it sideways. Then more and larger. Fortunately the larger were few and the wind stilled. Managing to get some signal on his phone my husband worried for his garden and crops checked out the radar. The worst of the hail was going by to the south.
After the blast of hail the rain let up and the lightning slowed. I wanted to go check the horses. In mud boots and a sweat shirt I ran out into the still falling rain and closed the door on the chicks then down to find the horses. Of course they weren’t in the barn, dry with plenty of room. Instead they were squeezed under a fallen down roof, wither high and no sides. I had hesitated at first to even let them into a pen with such junk and hazards but checking it carefully for sharp protrusions I had decided that the extra space was worth the limited danger involved and now it’s their favorite hang out.
Wading out to the windbreak through ankle deep water and mud I called and called for them. If they would just come I could lead them to the barn with safer shelter and more room. They stood, huddled and refused to come out for me. I debated walking out for them and watched as lighting struck, hot and bright, to the ground over the hill in front of me. Looking down at the water surrounding me and at more lightening striking past the trees I called once again and went back to the house. They could have that shelter if it was what they wanted.
All evening the radio gave bad news, as we waited for the second round. Trying to keep children calmed and entertained and finally into bed, we kept half of our attention on the news. A large tornado at Chimney Rock, we have a friend right there. Large hail and high wind at the intersection of our highway and the Niobrara River, a couple miles south. Tornadic storms going through Fort Robinson and Whitney. Still hail and tornadoes stayed away.
The storm finally passed out of our area. The weather radio actually shut off between warnings, until the sound of it became startling instead of background noise.
The next morning we took stock. Nearly three inches of rain. The garden damaged as much by too much rain to quickly as by hail. The corn in the fields is still standing. Amazingly none of our little herd of cattle were hit by lightening. It was so bad and so much I couldn’t believe nothing would be hit. Instead we found full ponds and a nearly deafening croaking of frogs. They seem to appear out of nowhere and went straight to mating. Soon there will be tadpoles. Not all is bad in the aftermath.
Unfortunately everyone can’t say the same. Bayard NE received a direct hit. The nursing home was nearly? destroyed and the town hit hard. A feedlot was also in the direct path of the storm and many pivots twisted and flipped. A pivot repair company in the area is desperately looking to hire short term help. Many homes and barns were in the path as well as livestock, including horses.
We had a friend over for supper. She’s funny, great company, and very busy. We don’t see her often. We sat and talked, enjoyed our meal. She brought a salad. A seven layer salad she called it, to be exact. I was digging in, scarfing down the unusual, for us, dish. She gave a list of ingredients, at mayonnaise I nearly gagged on my mouthful. Anything can be good if you don’t know what it is. I shrugged mentally, attempting to hide any outward reaction, and told myself that if it tasted good before that horrible word was uttered it tasted just as good after. Eating more was difficult though.
She offered to leave the remains for us to finish at another meal. We happily accepted, the rest of my family not sharing my revulsion of mayonnaise for some strange reason. Bidding her a fond farewell, with hopes to see her again much sooner than the last spell between visits, we promptly forgot her offering in the refrigerator.
Going in after milk or some other much needed commodity, I would glance towards that lower shelf upon which it sat and think absently to myself that I should do something about that, then completely forget about it again. Finally, needing the space, I dug it out, fearing to open the lid, and sat it on the counter. I would take it out to the chickens and open it out there, by now it must be getting a bit stinky, no use in smelling up the house.
And there it sat. A large flat dish, taking up most of my counter space but useful to set other things on top of so we could work around it. Spring is busy. I got busy and forgot about it, sitting there taking up my whole counter. I always meant to get to it, as soon as I finished washing the other dishes. As soon as I got lunch made. As soon as we finished working cattle and there was more time. Until, I couldn’t stand the mess in the kitchen any longer. All the dishes must be washed! I was on a mission.
How do other people manage it? I am proud to be a member of a hobby who’s participants pride themselves on their lack of house cleaning skills. Clean house? Me? Nonsense I have a horse to ride! It is the cry of horsewomen everywhere. Between horses and children I always have somewhere else to lay the blame for my lack of housekeeping skills. Or any interest in that area at all.
But the time had come. All things must be reckoned with eventually. Carrying the carefully sealed container outside I opened it and quickly dumped the white, lumpy, congealed contents to the chickens. And left it lay there to “air out”. A day, or two, later I returned for the repulsive thing. I moved it as far as the hydrant where it received a compulsory washing then was left lay until I could stomach bringing it into the house.
Once in the sink we began our battle in earnest. I started scraping, it responded with a desperate cling, refusing to budge, attacking my fingers and anything else it touched. It did battle with a sticky film, removable only by scrubbing the skin its self off. Hot water was applied liberally, more scrapping and finally the big guns, an onslaught of 409 backed up with more scrubbing, then soaking.
There it sits, in my sink. My enemy, my foe, my companion for the last month. Two months? How long has it dwelt there, haunting me and my kitchen. Still there taunting me. Daring me to try again to vanquish it once and for all.
Or to admit defeat. To admit my failing to my friend and just buy her a new pan already.
His favorite magazine had a special issue out. Unfortunately his favorite magazine isn’t one that he gets, weird I know, but it is published in England and ridiculously expensive to have shipped over. I proposed a special trip up to Rapid, we could see if any of the stores up there had it in stock and have a nice little road trip. It was time to plant corn and road trips aren’t so nice with the small children. He was sad.
As the week went on everybody online had gotten the magazine with its special toy. They were doing cool things with it. The magazine was completely sold out, there would be no going to Rapid to get it. Copies were selling online for a small fortune, many, many times what it cost new. He read about these things and was sad.
I smiled. I laughed. I rejoiced in his sorrow. Not out of cruelty but because I had a secret. I had called my parents when he started mentioning the special edition, they live near book stores. One of the perks of town life. They stopped in and found only a two month old issue on the shelf. Asking the workers about it they were told that the book store wouldn’t have the new issue in stock for some time to come. European magazines didn’t arrive until much later than their American counter parts. They looked around, it’s a book store, how can anyone not linger? As they reached the doors to leave the helpful worker person ran them down. A new box had just been opened in the back, in it was the new issue of the magazine. They only bought one, in retrospect they should have bought many.
Unable to contain our great secret any longer I told him in time to forestall buying any of the well marked up magazines online. Once the magazine, a box really with stuff and a magazine inside, arrived he and The Goblin Child tore into it. Taking everything out and looking at it then carefully putting it back. Then it sat. It sat through corn planting. It sat through a crazy week at work. It sat and waited for the time to play.
Finally they took it out and put the puzzle together. In a magazine were the components of an AIY (Artificial Intelligence Yourself) kit. “An intelligent device you can talk to.” A cardboard device that uses Google assistant to answer questions. That’s as simple as I can make it. I don’t really understand all his computer stuff, I just know that it’s really cool. To use with one of his many Raspberry Pi’s, that didn’t come with the magazine, it supplied the components, card board box, speaker, push button, voice hat, and microphone board to make this thing.
He and The Goblin Child sat and put it together, they had to wait overnight for the soft wear to download but the next day they were back at it and had a great new toy. T.G.C. loves it and is always thinking of things she wants to ask it. Rosie technically, she decided to name “it” Rosie. Rosie is a little slow to respond with our slightly slow internet, in town she does much better. But even handicapped as she is, she has many of the answers, especially when she can understand what is being asked. Understanding can be a little challenging for her on occasion.
What is the purpose of this you may ask? I don’t have an answer to that, even less than I knew what to call her or explain what came with the magazine. I had to ask for a description. But they are happy and enjoying their new toy, that is all that matters. Thanks mom and dad, you guys are awesome!
There are so many things I’ve wanted to talk about lately and I haven’t found time for any of it. I need to look back through all the pictures I’ve taken to remind myself what we’ve done. I finally got the garden written about. I haven’t mentioned any of the chicken adventures, or the corn planting, or what ever else there has been.
Some how I missed corn planting. But it’s planted and getting rained on. Hopefully it will be warm enough for it to come up. The home made GPS worked beautifully, even if the John Deer planter didn’t hardly work at all. Yay for John Deer. We will stick to Case.
We got the garden in. Started to that is, the first plantings of corn, the zucchini, pumpkins and stuff. We planted 20 hills of squash! All of them different varieties. I keep saying 20 different types of pumpkins and having it pointed out to me that the count includes acorn and spaghetti squash. There are some new types this year and three types of carving pumpkins.
I meant to write this to document the date of planting but didn’t get around to it. It was almost two weeks ago now and everything is starting to come up. Just in time for snow this weekend. Oh well.
My poor husband loves the combine. He keeps it scrubbed clean, well oiled, and tucked away safely for the winter in the back of the Quonset. It was pure chance that anyone happened to look in. Usually it stays sleeping and ignored until nearly harvest. But look in they did and found, much to everyones horror, that rats had eaten the combine.
Not mice, mice we can handle. They usually get in and cause a few problems. They are nothing compared to this. The seat is unstuffed, the stench unbearable, the wiring chewed through. When the key is turned, nothing happens. No lights, no starting, no buzzing, the cab is dead. My poor husband is sad. He loves the combine, the destruction is sickening and he is not looking forward to the, very expensive, repairs.
I was talking to Grandma as we arrived at the school. We talked as we walked towards the door, until I looked up. There, walking to the front door, was a deer. It stood looking in the window as we approached, I hung up on Grandma, then it turned and walked right up to 8.
Not quite all the way to him, being the concerned mother that I am, I stepped between my small child and the wild animal that was approaching him with no fear in broad daylight. He was shooing it the way one shoos a cow anyway, I’m sure his efforts would have succeeded without my help. The deer, looking confused, turned and walk on down the front of the school.
Later I heard the rumors that the deer had been raised by a family who live north a town a couple miles. The doe died and they took it in. I happened to run into one of the family and she confirmed it. Not only had they raised a wild animal as a pet but they had it gelded so there is not the slightest hope of it ever living an even slightly normal life. It’s sadder than it is cute and a solid lesson in why wild animals should be left wild. He doesn’t know that he should be afraid of people, even if he doesn’t get shot people can do horrible things to animals foolish enough not to fear them. He is unable to mate, unable to function as a deer. The people who love him have taught him the wrong things, not to be afraid, but have not instilled the most basic of training principles.
As horrified as I am by the whole thing I do think it would be a great exercise in clicker training.