Saturday, September 20, 2014

SORRY -- CAN'T MAKE YOUR PARTY

It's "Pet Appreciation Week" (P.A.W.), and Del's Feed and Farm Supply is sponsoring a pet event today. Our dogs can't make it, though. They have to work.

[Bess waits patiently in the back of the Dakota. I think she'd live there if Mike would let her.]


Thursday, September 18, 2014

OVER THAT HURDLE -- ON TO THE NEXT


Nellie lying in dirt on hot day
Bess hunting behind the pond

Mike rumbled into our driveway at 3:30 yesterday afternoon (Wednesday, Sept. 17). Nellie, Bess, and I were glad to see him. Correction: Nellie and I were glad to see him and Bess was downright elated, as though she sensed the beginning of more really good times. After greeting Mike affectionately, Nellie ran to nuzzle me as if to say, “Hey – Mike’s home! Isn’t it great? But you did a really good job of taking care of me.” Then she moved off to continue her quiet lounging while Bess spent the rest of the afternoon trailing Mike, bouncing in and out of the house behind him while he unpacked his stuff and cleaned his motorcycle.

Nellie -- note clothes on line
Now our autumn schedule begins in earnest. I’m cleaning and exchanging “Americana” for pumpkins and Halloween. My schedule is filling up with meetings while Mike and Ken look forward to hunting. Washington chukar season opens on Saturday (Sept. 20) and next week is the Washington “old man’s” pheasant season. We laugh about that “old man” season – giving a handicap to the guys who have plenty of time and are also the largest age group of hunters. Whatever.
 

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

TO BOLDLY GO . . .


The Old Home Place

When I’m the dogs’ caretaker, I prefer to be at the farm. Exercise options are more difficult in town, whereas, at the farm, I don’t have to control their every move – or worry (much) about what they’re doing.
Plank's Pitch from west of house

As we staycated at the farm, every day after lunch, the dogs and I went for a hike. It could be any place on our property or the neighbors’, but it could not be the usual route to the mailbox. We hiked across the fields avoiding gullies and draws, rocky places, thick grass, etc. My goal was to see the house from different perspectives and take pictures with our new Nikon Coolpix P600. A hike can be tedious, but a picture-taking expedition is downright fun! Of course, mid-day is not a great time to take pictures, but never mind -- that couldn’t be helped.

“Did you see the huns?” asked Mike when I told him about our hikes. For the past 15 years, Mike has worked to conserve the coveys of Hungarian partridge there. This year it looked as if they would be sparse, but a couple of weeks ago he discovered one covey, possibly two, and was encouraged.

No, I replied, we hadn’t seen the huns.
“The huns don’t leave,” said Mike. “They’re there someplace.”

Nell on point -- east of barn
Well, I did think when Nellie suddenly pointed at nothing east of the barn (the huns are virtually invisible in the stubble) that the huns had probably been there. Nothing got up, but Nellie is hardly ever mistaken.

No, I didn’t see the huns until Monday as we left the farm for town. I had just descended that first steep pitch on the lane when five or six got up to the right (June’s field). Then a covey of about twenty or so got up to the left (the north field). It was a joy to see them fly.
Doe in north field at evening

If the huns are elusive, the deer abound. Clearly, the deer are beautiful but a nuisance. They take liberties in the yard when we aren’t there, but when we are, they’re wary of the dogs. I watched one evening as a big doe cautiously crossed the lane into the north field, keeping a watchful eye toward the house, guarded by a diligent, opinionated, and vocal Bess.

This doe posed for me
One day, as we hiked north of the house on the other side of the draw, I was surprised when a young doe loped into the field where I was. She stopped some distance from me, and we momentarily stared at one another. I figured she would lope off before I had a chance to take her picture – so often the way – but the camera was on and I decided to give it a try. She posed nicely – then went on. KW



Monday, September 15, 2014

YES -- I CAN!



Mike has adventure goals that I don’t share, and we have a family (some people call them dogs) that tie us down somewhat. So, I tell Mike, “You go – and I’ll stay and take care of the dogs.” I’m not really a pet person, but the last two dogs (Nellie and Bess) have accepted my awkward dog ways and even feel some responsibility for my well-being.

Several year ago, Mike began taking motorcycle trips, and I kept Nellie at the town house. Then, when Bess joined us last year, keeping the two of them in town just seemed too difficult. So, I learned that I can indeed load the pick-up, coax the dogs to jump in with the supplies, and take care of all three of us at the farmhouse.
  

 
Mike left Tuesday (Sept. 9) – seems a hundred years ago now – to moto-cache Colorado with son Yancey. Through the magic of cell phone technology, I’ve heard from him daily, and I’m happy to report that neither one of us experienced an emergency.
 
It took me two hours to pack the pick-up with all sorts of things in addition to regular supples – my Bernina 630; embroidery toolbox; sewing “project box;” and lots of extras in case embroidery plans fell through (but they didn’t). I set up the sewing machine on Grandma Ina’s pantry hutch in the dining room, put my laptop on the ottoman in the living room, and covered the dining room table with my “Halloween Masquerade” quilt which is still a work in progress. While my sewing machine chugged away on a special Halloween free-standing lace project, I did handwork on the center of the quilt. I made good progress on both projects during our six-day stay.
 
But -- dogs are a solemn responsibility – and they make sure I take them seriously. Mike walks them almost first thing every morning, so they expect that. (He says the walk is to limber his back and not for the dogs, but they know otherwise.) Then on Day 1, I decided that we should take a noon hike, and if you know dogs, you know that they don’t forget an activity they enjoyed, and they tell time by the sun – so we had a noon hike every day. And of course, we always walk prior to suppertime – always. The exercise is good for me, but it does make me feel that my life revolves around the dogs’ schedule, which, of course, it does.
 
All good staycations must come to an end, and today was the day. The dogs knew what was up the minute I started packing. Nellie watched through the dining room window as I put the last items in the pick-up. When I said it was time to go, she marched straight out the kitchen door and jumped to her place. The set of her jaw said she was none too happy about it.

But Bess, who was sulking near the little cherry tree, said, “Tell me again why we have to leave here.” It took some coaxing to get her to join Nellie.

And now we’re back at the town house – all three of us tired, all three of us waiting . . . KW
 

Thursday, September 11, 2014

THE LITTLE BLACK BOX

"There she goes again -- dawdling along with that black thing. Maybe we should tell her we're hungry."

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

SHORTHAIR MIND GAMES


Both Nellie and Bess love to practice in the field

At this time of year, I have a tendency to think, “Isn’t these beautiful late summer days great! Maybe we can still swim in the river for a few weeks. Maybe the garden will continue to produce.” I forget to factor in the impact of shorter days. Our afternoons have been warm -- to 90 and above – but only for a few hours, and without long hours of hot sun, the river grows colder and the garden quits producing.

Yes, days are shorter now and suddenly that shortening process seems more noticeable than it did when summer was at her peak.

Wishing for more action
No use to lament the change. At my house, we embrace it and celebrate not the end of summer but the beginning of autumn. It’s a great time to be an Idahoan. And -- it’s already begun – football and hunting. Personally, I don’t care about either one, but as Mike becomes occupied with his interests, I have more time for mine.

Even the dogs know what’s up. Young Bess can hardly contain herself knowing that it’s hunting season while “Old Pro” Nellie now takes it in stride.

What have we here?
This year Nellie will spend more time with me instead of hunting every hunt, a fact she already seems to accept with grace. She has never tolerated heat well, and those hunts on warm afternoons drag her down. She’s always needed a day of rest between hunts, but now she likes two – maybe even three. She’s wistful if she sees the pick-up or Ken’s 4-Runner leave without her, so I usually contrive that we’re out of the house and down the street before the hunters leave. That way it appears that we’re leaving Bess behind, giving Nellie a psychological advantage – if they think about it.

Fortunately Nellie and I have always had a good relationship that includes daily routine activity. We enjoy long walks where she just gets to poke along at her own pace.  And with that pesky Bess out of the house, Nellie gets the all the perks of being the house pet.

Waiting in the pick-up
Meanwhile, little Bess has turned into a fun-lovin’ bird-hunter’s companion. If she hears Mike take a gun from the cabinet, she’s there! If she sees a gun or his hunting bag in the pick-up, she hops in to wait – and wait and wait if necessary. She loves to be out with Mike and Ken, and quickly adapts to whatever she’s supposed to do.

When the hunters return, it’s a happy reunion all around. No one holds grudges. Everyone gets treats. KW




Saturday, September 6, 2014

LATE SUMMER'S BOUNTY -- APPLES, PEARS, AND PEACHES


Distant Field Burning

Apples
Walking into Walmart a few days ago, I immediately saw a display table filled with beautiful green Granny Smith apples in white sacks. “98 centsper pound” read the sign. I’d been thinking about apple pie and the price seemed good, so I gave in to temptation and dropped one of those apple-filled white sacks into my cart.
Mike enjoys late summer sun

Fast forward a couple of hours and I arrived home with my purchases. In preparing my receipts for the financial manager, the cost of the apples caught my eye -- over $8.00, or $1.77 per pound. That difference of 79 cents per pound was noticeable, and beyond that, it was the principle of the thing.
Spring Wheat -- Teakean Butte

So – it was back to Walmart, carrying the sack of apples and my receipt to customer service. I was in luck – no line of testy customers ahead of me. “I was charged $1.77 per pound for this sack of apples,” I said, “and I could have sworn the sign said 98 cents per pound.”

The path home over June's field
“Oh,” said the associate behind the counter, “that’s because they’re 98 cents if you buy a single apple but a sack-ful is $1.77.” Suddenly I saw myself in the fourth grade trying to work this as a story problem. I opened my mouth, but before I could say anything, the associate volunteered to check the display. She was gone a long time – and now the line was growing behind me. I knew she had discovered I was right and had stopped to discuss with a supervisor how she was going to process this transaction. When she returned, she found she had to first process the refund. That’s when I should have taken the money and run, but instead something in me became perverse and I stood my ground. She then left her station again and went to a checkstand to weigh and re-check the apples. It took a l-o-o-o-n-g time during which the ever-growing line of impatient customers stared at me as though I was the problem.

“Hey, I’m doing all of us a favor,” I should have said. “I’m not letting the store get away with over-charging us.”

Soon enough the issue was resolved and I walked out of Walmart with the apples and $3.57 in my pocket.

Pears
In late summer I traditionally dry a box of pears, so on this same shopping day, I stopped at a local produce mart. $16.99 read the sign on the box of beautiful pears, but nearby I spied a box of less lovely pears (culls, I call them) marked at $6.99. This fruit was ripe and ready to use which was important due to time constraints. And it worked out perfectly. I spent Wednesday afternoon preparing the pears for the drier, and by Thursdays afternoon they were done and ready for packaging.

Peaches
Friends gave us two buckets of peaches from their tree today. I could see they were short of buckets and still had peaches to pick, so right away I transferred the fruit to a box and returned the buckets. Wouldn’t I take more peaches, they asked. So, I said I would and there went my sewing time for today, which was probably already gone anyway.

That’s the trouble with fruits and vegetables in season. Processing must be given priority in our schedules, and while there’s a certain comfort in preparing the bounty of the season for later use, I know we wouldn’t starve if we didn’t have it. It just isn’t for me as it was for the farm wives of yesteryear who depended on the fruit of the land to feed their families. Still, my sense of economy dictates that I should do what I can to preserve this bounty – wisdom, economy, etc.

At home in the kitchen, I examined each and every peach, dividing out those that needed to be used immediately and setting aside a full box that need a little time to ripen. With the ripest, I made a large peach pie. Mike tells me that peach pie is one of his very favorites. If I ever knew that, I’d forgotten it. Well, he’s going to be in “peach pie heaven” for at least the next three days.

And now, what shall I do with the rest of them? KW