pink peony

pink peony
old-fashioned peony

Saturday, June 22, 2013

A Tailor in the Making ...

Mimi isn't too good with power tools of the carpentry type -- saws, routers, all that -- but she can find her way around a sewing machine and other implements found in a sewing room. So when Wyatt spent a couple of days with me and wanted to MAKE SOMETHING, it made sense to teach him to use the tools I'm familiar with. Turns out, that was a good idea!
He learned how to use a hot iron, a rotary cutter and ruler, sharp pins, needles and, of course, the best of all -- a sewing machine.
"It's a lot like driving, Mimi," he said, of guiding the fabric. That's a skill he's already mastered, I guess....
Pinning through three layers was harder than sewing through three layers.
On the afternoon of Day 1, he sewed his mama a pot holder made like a miniature quilt: a four-patch top, insul-bright lining and backing, and binding around the edge. I forgot to take a picture of the finished item!  :(  Bad Mimi.
That pot holder was fun, but on Day 2, he wanted more of a challenge. We talked about making a pillowcase or a wall hanging, but he decided to make his little sister a quilt that she could use for her dolls. He chose the fabrics himself (mostly pink because that's her favorite color), placed the squares in the order that was pleasing to his eye (after MUCH rearranging, which I said was the really fun part) and began to sew.
Wasn't it just yesterday that the back of this sweet neck was covered in curls?
He's so grown-up now, five years later, and is talking about how he can become a part-time tailor when he's in high school and sell things he makes to earn money for college so he can learn to be a farmer like his dad and his poppy.
My eight-year-old grandson figured out how to install the walking foot on my new sewing machine, something I gave up on a month ago. He'll be sewing circles around me in no time.
He's asking his dad to bring him over this afternoon so we can make a second pot holder, this one for his Mawmaw.
And we're in the market for fabric featuring Legos, to make something for one of his friends, and either baseballs or wild turkeys to make something for another of his friends. He hasn't even mentioned making something for himself.
I do love this little boy.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Taking a head count ...


Today I was the official chauffeur, picking up farmers and taking them to tractors that needed to be moved and then picking them up again and taking them to trucks and stuff. Along the way, I stopped to take a few pictures of wildflowers. There is such a profusion of them this year, and their bloom times seem to be overlapping, giving us extra time to really appreciate their beauty. I thought I'd see just how many flowers were blooming on one little stretch of dirt road.

black-eyed Susan

The black-eyed Susans called out to me, saying, "Notice us! Aren't we pretty?" They're showy like that.

Missouri evening primrose
There were many other varieties, all along the roadside, jumbled together in the prettiest bouquet. The primroses almost always grow in the rockiest places.

I'm not sure what these tiny little purple-ish flowers are. There weren't many of them.

purple coneflower
But there were LOTS of these beauties! The last few years I've thought the purple coneflowers were disappearing, perhaps due to the spraying that the highway crews have done to control knappweed. But this year they are back, in a big way! They are prettiest en masse.

ox-eye daisy
 The daisies are also at their best in big bunches.They've been blooming for a few weeks now, but they are still pretty. (See the little tiny pink/purple bloom among them -- that's the one I don't know.)

daisy fleabane
These tiniest daisies have an unlovely name but they are so sweet and pretty...and abundant.

meadow salsify
This looks a lot like a giant dandelion seed head, but it is about 4 inches in diameter and is (I think) meadow salsify.

I spied the first milkweed of the season -- not quite open but the butterfly had already found it.


Butterflies also love coneflowers. Can you spot him (or her?)

I love them, too.

fire pink
For the longest time, I called this Indian paintbrush, but finally someone set me straight. It's not pink at all -- truly red. Sort of like redbud, which is not at all red but pinkish-purple.

These little blue gems aren't showy, but they are sweet. I forgot to taste a leaf -- anyone know if they taste minty?
I'm going to cheat a minute here and add a picture that was NOT taken on the same gravel road as all the others. I took this picture yesterday. It is rare to see this much wild larkspur all in one bunch, but as I drove along this road, there were clusters all along the way. So I did what any wildflower fanatic would do: I stopped my truck, right in the middle of the highway and got out to take pictures. I took a bunch, walking up and down the pavement and even getting down into the ditch. And no one came along to stare at me or ask if anything was wrong or to give me that patronizing "nutty lady with the camera"smile.  Only in the OC...

Musical accompaniment
Back on my dirt road ... the beauty of the flowers was accompanied by the music of this little stream, the water tumbling down over the rocks and splashing a little melody. It will soon be dry, but just last week it was rushing full-stream ahead.

Here's another little purple flower I don't recognize -- but I do know that view. It is called Amazing.

Sensitive plant
Just as I was nearly to the end of the dirt road, I noticed several clumps of sensitive plant growing in the ditch -- this is one wildflower you do NOT want to pick. The viney plant is covered with sharp stickers -- covered! You'd need to be very INSENSITIVE to handle this pretty but dangerous plant.

tame hollyhocks
My neighbor, who lives just before the end of the road, grows hollyhocks that come from seeds his mother grew 60 years ago. He threw a handful out by his mailbox, and, of course, they are thriving. He's like that -- not just green thumb but green hands.

 Not everyone finds pleasure in spending hours stalking ditches and meadows to find what's bloomin' -- some folks like their excitement to be a little more lively. I'll leave you with a glimpse of another form of Ozarks-style entertainment.These two fellas (going exactly 15 mph down the road) were on their way to a little fox hunt. That's Ozarks for coyote chasin'. I know the venue because I know the folks who run it. The people who show up at their "pen" (160 acres) with a pickup load of beagles LOVE to hear the dogs on the trail of a varmint. They don't care if they catch the critter or not -- it's the hunt and the hounds they love.

Next month there will be a passel of different wildflowers blooming, and I'll go back and see what's new. It really is a good growing year, and I'm going to enjoy every single bloom!

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Making Hay -- Even when the sun doesn't shine

This spring, it has been a different challenge. Last year, there was no rain. None. The grass didn't grow well, and the hay just dried up and disappeared. By June we were traveling far afield to buy trailer loads of hay to just get through the summer because the pastures dried up, too, and we had to feed then -- for the first time in memory.

This year the rain has been plentiful, and the grass has grown well. The cooler-than-normal temperatures have been delightful, for humans and for hay crops. The windrows are lush and big.

Yesterday, as the weatherman predicted more rain on the way, my Farmboy was rushing around, trying to make hay while the sun shone -- or didn't. It clouded up, so he called in reinforcements. Our son-in-law brought his baler up from the south farm, and they both jumped in and got it done.

In mid-afternoon, I was called upon to bring extra baling twine to the field. I made my delivery, and then I just sat for a few minutes and watched.

When the baler has picked up enough hay to make a bale, the operator stops for a minute and lets the machine wrap the twine around the bale. The the back end of the baler raises up, and a big, fat bale rolls out. It always reminds me of a chicken laying an egg. Success!
And then he drives on and does it all again, over and over.
This particular field is one of the prettiest places on the farm. It is high, with a soaring view to the west, looking toward the Glade Top Trail, south to Arkansas, and southeast to Caney Mtn. There is always a breeze here, and it feels vast, like a scene from the American West. I love this lone tree still growing in the middle of the hay field. The men had made silage from the ground where there are no hay bales (on the left in the picture), but when the silo was filled, they switched to baling.
We are so thankful for a better spring, for better growing condiditons and for the ability to put up feed for next winter's needs. It's a busy time on the farm, but there is satisfaction in the tasks that fill every day, from sunup to sundown.