pink peony

pink peony
old-fashioned peony

Monday, September 17, 2012


FISHIN' (the farm way)

Big brother and little sister came home with us after church yesterday. Although the day was rather dark and dreary, we created some bright spots by going fishing in our farm pond. When we got to the water's edge, we found we were intruding on someone already there. Can you see him? That black-and-white speck sitting on a limb over Wyatt's right shoulder?

I'm sure he was thinking that we were a noisy bunch, but it didn't scare him away. There were, after all, fish a-plenty.

It's so much fun to get a bite...

and then all that work to bring the big one in ....

but it's SO worth it!

Our superhero, VICE-GRIP MAN, to the rescue! (I need to do a whole piece about that -- the many uses of these ever-present, ever-helpful tools that make holes in his back pocket, but we go nowhere without them!)

Our friend kept tabs on the catch...

and probably resented the size of our haul....

but we were sure proud!~

Just as we turned our backs to leave, he decided he'd had enough...

and flew to the other end of the lake to complain to the ducks.,,,

who decided to boycott the whole thing.

We had fun -- even those of us who don't fish -- and will recall the afternoon as a bright and shiny memory, in spite of the gray skies that threatened to soak us.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012


We normally harvest much of our hay and silage in late spring and early summer, but this year has been different, in almost every way. The extremely hot and dry weather that began as early as March meant that first cuttings were skimpy, and second cuttings were non-existent. Putting up hay now feels like it's the first hay of the season. A couple of nice rains this month have given the plants just the boost they were waiting for; it seemed as if you could see the grass, alfalfa, lespedeza, orchard grass and crab -- yes, crab -- grass grow. (University extension studies show that crab grass makes a very nutritious feed.)

This evening the boss was baling late. He wanted to finish the field before he came in. So at about the time most suburban midwestern families were sitting down to dinner in their dining rooms, I took him a milkshake and a hot dog; he smiled his thanks (I couldn't hear over the roar of the tractor and baler) and kept on chugging.

I ate mine as I watched him for a while.Every little bit he would stop and let the baler deliver one of these babies.

He was working in the field through which I normally take my walk.

I've been noting the progress of other crops along my route. The one I've been keeping a close eye upon is the crop of buckeyes.

I love these small trees! They bloom beautifully in spring, and their fruit is so interesting. This is how they look when they begin to ripen,

and this is how they look when the shell splits and the seeds emerge.

No wonder they are named as they are -- see the eye?

Despite the difficult summer, there appears to be an abundant crop of most everything, including walnuts,

hickory nuts

and some straggler wild plums.

This is the true crop we produce on our place.

The hay (and silage) are harvested for their benefit; we use all we produce.

If we had extra this year, we could do right well selling hay because the shortage has put it at a premium.

We're just thankful to have some to go into our barns. The cows and calves will be very grateful in a few short months.

I have never ceased to wonder at the vision of our ancestors who saw the potential in the Ozarks land, for it was surely rugged and rough, covered with deep woods, with nary a prairie to be seen down here.

But with lots of hard work and sweat equity, farms have been carved into the hollows and on the ridge tops. While it may not be the easiest place in the world to farm, surely it is one of the most beautiful.

The sun was nearly down, but as I came back home, I stopped to admire this passion flower,

growing among the ditch weeds. If it were dug up and trained upon a fancy trellis in the garden of a society horticulturalist, it would be oohed and ahhed over, its lovely blue noted as remarkable. I note it each time I walk -- another gift.

Hope your Wednesday has been a remarkable fall day.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012


Meet Fern!

Isn't she lovely?

Can a fern be a she ... or a he? I don't know, honestly, but this fern has a decidedly feminine look about her. She's a she in my book.

I really am fond of my friend, Fern. She has been a porch companion of mine for many, many years. At least 10, and surely more. I don't know how Fern has survived, when so many of her cousins have not. Under all her frilly fronds, Fern is a hardy old girl.

I'm not going daft in my old age, feeling affectionate about Fern. There is just something about her that mades me feel fondly toward her.

In one of my most favorite Masterpiece Classics, Miss Betty Barker, retired milliner of Cranford, almost loses her beloved milk cow after the old girl wanders into the town's lime pit and gets stuck. The poor bovine loses all her hair because of the nasty experience, and so Miss Betty sews her up some cow-sized flannel pajamas to keep her covered. In one of the episode's funniest lines, Miss Betty says, in all sincerity, "That cow is like a daughter to me."

Well, I feel that way about Fern. Except, unlike Miss Betty, I do have real daughters. So don't tell them how I feel about Fern. They might not like sharing my affection.

This is one of Fern's favorite seasons. She's happiest in Fall. So am I. We're a lot alike in some ways, Fern and I. We love the porch, and we love gentle breezes, the warm morning sunshine on our faces and a nice cool drink in the warmer afternoon. It really doesn't take a lot to make us happy.

There's a lot to be said for a friend who is always there for you, doesn't demand much and doesn't talk back. Fern is a forever sort of friend.