EARLY MORNING VISITOR

One of the coolest things about living in the country is, the visitors we get. They follow the creek bed and leave the security of the tree-line to graze the short pasture grasses, or sample the hay bale our horses enjoy.

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Ever curious, but cautious, this buck tentatively ventured out of his shelter this morning. My husband’s studio looks out toward the creek and trees bordering our property. We know when they’re around because our horses ears will perk up and look in the direction they see or sense another creature invading their turf.

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Before my husband could secure his camera, he missed the harem that had been grazing with this good lookin’ guy!

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I’m sure  his highness has fathered a future crop of babies. Maybe we’ll get a glimpse of them this spring.

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My dad used to hunt deer and many other game, but when I see how majestic these creatures are, its hard for me to imagine shooting one. That’s just me! I’d rather see them in their habitat doing what they do. I’m sure my son-in-law and nephews are shaking their heads, when I say this.

I know the argument about keeping the population down and that many people are injured and killed each year from colliding with a deer.

My mind says, “You’re right!”

My heart says, “Nooo!”

So, we’ll just enjoy this beauty and his family. They’re safe with us!

KRE

 

 

Cows In The Mist

When I return to Iowa, I always have to check on my sister and brother-in-law’s cows.

As I’ve stated before.”I love cows!”

It’s a typical Iowa winter day–cloudy and gray. The kind I hated as a kid!

The cows don’t seem to mind though.

These girls lounge in the lot now, expecting any day, hour, or minute. They are heavy with calves, just waiting to join the world alongside the other newborns.

For now, these black beauties are contented to lay in the hay, chew their cud, and wait it out.

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The old Richwoods Church stands alone in the mist as it has for decades. A comforting landmark that watches over its eternal guests, day and night, rain or shine.

 

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The old barn, a behemoth of a structure, gives shelter when needed. It was a great place to play and hide when my siblings and I were home together. It still serves that purpose for grandkids and cousins.

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This one’s belly makes me hurt!  Surely she won’t go another day…will she? How do they do it…out in the cold, no heated blanket to keep from shaking? She’s a better cow than I am.

Her attitude and look says, “Go away! There’s nothing to see here…yet!”

So, I’ll go back inside and report my expert observations. Truth is, these girls will probably give birth during the night when we humans are tucked snug and warm in our beds.

KRE

Chicken!

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I haven’t posted for a bit. I guess I’ve been distracted by all the politacal banter. I had an election block! So, here goes…

The term, “Chicken!” comes up a lot in conversations. It implies more than the species, I’m afraid.

We’ve all heard it since childhood. I wasn’t sure about the origin of the non species term, so…I looked it up.

The term “Chicken!” can be traced to Shakespeare’s time.

But I found this little tidbit about one way it came into the American vocabulary.

Chickening Out may come from 1864 Union Army enlistment in which a chicken was provided to each person who enlisted. He would take the chicken home, clean, dress, and cook it for dinner- no refrigeration in those days. The next day he came back to ship off for the Union Army.

Should he not come back his name was printed in the local paper-very shameful to the family name – not like today. A relative with the same family name could fulfill the Army contract by enlisting instead of the original person. The Union Army didn’t care as long as they got someone of worth.

We all remember the scenes from  movies,  American Graffiti, and Grease. The game of “Chicken” was played out in order to settle a score, impress a girl, or just to show off.

Anyway, I digress.

What I really wanted to talk about was…chickens!

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Growing up, our family raised chickens for their eggs and their meat. I’ve talked about chickens before, but I truly love chickens.

They go about their days pecking at the ground, seemingly not a care in the world. We don’t give them a lot of credit for their smarts.

Chickens have played many roles in our literature and society.

There’s “Chicken Little,” who ran around proclaiming “The sky was falling!” We attach that term to people who are always forecasting doom.

Henny Penny reminded us of what escaping hard work will get you, nothing!

Those Henpecked husbands, we all know a few!

Chicks, the guys all talk about!

Cock of the walk, we know who he is!

Cocky devils.

Chicken Lips!

But there is references of strength and loyalty in this species, as well.

We’ve all heard about “Mother hens.” I  remember a story that made an impact on me when I was a little girl. It was about a mother hen who spread her wings over her brood to protect them from a fire. It made such an impression on me, that I asked my Mom if she would do that for me. She said, “Sure!”

As a result my extensive Chicken research, I found these nuggets…

CHICKENS SEE BETTER THAN HUMANS

CHICKENS TEACH EACH OTHER

CHICKENS HAVE THEIR OWN LANGUAGE

CHICKENS KNOW WHO THEIR OWNER ARE

THE EARLIEST CHICKEN JOKE IS DATED IN 1847

CHICKENS ARE SMARTER THAN BABIES

CHICKENS DREAM

THE OLDEST CHICKEN LIVE TO 22 YEARS OLD

HENS COMBS GET LARGER JUST BEFORE THEY LAY

CHICKENS WERE THE FIRST TO HAVE THEIR DNA SEQUENCED

CHICKENS OUTNUMBER BY ROUGHLY 4 TO 1

DINOSAURS=CHICKENS

HENS TALK TO THEIR CHICKS BEFORE THEY HATCH

CHICKENS ARE SPEEDY

CHICKENS HAVE HIERARCHIES

CHICKENS LOVE PLAYING

DUST BATHS ARE CHICKENS BEST FRIENDS

DOMESTICATED CHICKENS CAME FROM ASIAN JUNGLE FOWL

CERTAIN BREEDS ARE ABOUT TO BECOME EXTINCT

A DOZEN EGGS NEEDS FOUR POUNDS OF FEED

There now…I’ll bet you forgot all about the election!

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Go hug a chicken!

http://www.thehappychickencoop.com/20-surprising-things-you-didnt-know-about-chickens/gets…

KRE

4 H

When I was a kid, in Iowa, I was involved with 4 H. I loved animals and wanted to show my sheep Curly, and Hereford steer at the County Fair.

The cruel reality of this venture was, I’d have to walk my ewe or steer up to the loading chute to their eventual slaughter. After the months of feeding, grooming and recording all that was required in my 4 H ledger, it was hard not get attached to my projects.

I have always loved animals. It was me who’d try to save a paralyzed cat who drug her hind-legs behind her after being stepped on by one of our cows. The chicken who had flown into a sharp branch and had to be extricated from the low hanging limb before she made things worse. The birds who flew into our windows like kamikaze pilots. I was the Dr. Pohl to our farm animals, and any other four-legged critter that crossed my path, in need.

But, in order to show my subjects, I had to be enrolled in girls 4 H as well as the boys division. In those days, it was separate. So, reluctantly I joined the girls side and made a cake or something so I could get on with the more important projects, my animals.

My Dad took me to a neighbor who raised Herefords. He let me pick out a calf for my project. I was so excited, riding with him in our pick up with the stock racks rattling as we traveled to our destination. Not much was said on the way, but I could feel his excitement for me. Good memory.

My problem was, I got attached, and dad knew it. He’d try to prepare me for the inevitable, but it was difficult. When you’ve looked into the eyes of a bovine, with those long eyelashes and deep brown pools of innocence, it’s hard not to love them.

I still have the halter, but my steer, well…I’m not going there.

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This was taken on my parents front porch with my brother Stan, and sister Eileen. I was training my sheep to lead. My Grandpa Ross gave me my first lamb. He wasn’t much for showing emotion…hugging etc, but he did see to it that I got my lamb. I guess it was his way of saying he loved me. It meant a lot that he trusted me to care for one of his animals.

I was so proud! How many girls do you know, who have a pet lamb?

And, check out how stylish I was doing it!

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This is Curly, my adult ewe. She was a sweetheart. Sheep are trusting and docile. That’s why they are so vulnerable to predators. Thus the Biblical passage, “Like lamb to the slaughter.”

Note the fresh cow-patty in the foreground.

I wish more children could experience the joy of caring for an animal. Whether it’s a guinea pig or show horse, it’s a great opportunity to educate children about love and loss, of management, and the responsibility of caring for a living creature. The utter and total dependence it has on the caregiver.

So, go out there and get that child you love, something to love.

Preferably not a snake, but it’s your call!

KRE

 

 

 

 

 

My Dream Job

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As a high school girl, in the 60’s, I held various summer jobs.

I baby sat, and detasseled corn. The one I remember with fondness, however, is the one at the DREAM DRIVE-IN. Yes it’s true, I was as car-hop!

The Dream, as we called it, was the place to work. It was a way to keep up with the social scene during those crazy days in high school– to make a little extra cash (65 cents and hour) and of course, to see and be seen!

Waiting on a cute guy was always exciting, and a little frightening. If he had a date, that pretty much killed the flirt factor. Usually the order went smoothly. I could tell if it was their first date by how nervous they both were. He’d also grin and say, “Hold the onions.”

If he was alone, or with his buddies, it would be, “Howbout a Cherry Coke!” Emphasis on the Cherry! I’d politely nod and fantasize about dumping the cherry coke in his lap to cool him off. If you were a girl in that era you understood his, not so subtle meaning. You learned to have a thick-skin when it came to waiting on fellow teens.

Older adults like, Doc Hunt, our veterinarian, or Mr. Biggs from the hatchery would always leave a nice tip, as well as my relatives. The tips, thank God, made up for the meagre wage.

The work was hard and many shifts were long, especially if there was something happening in town, like the County Fair, ball games, or The Old Threshers Reunion. And, when the Drive-In let out…yikes! Some nights the cars would be three deep in the parking lot.

One summer our boss decided we needed to wear roller skates. I don’t know what he was smokin’, but balancing those trays was hard enough without putting our feet on rollers! Trying to come to a stop, step down from the middle island, and settle the tray without spilling it on the customers lap, was like performing a circus act.

Often I would be called-in early to slice onions or pound our famous pork tenderloin. If you’ve never had an Iowa breaded tenderloin…well, you’ve missed out on the best sandwich in the world. It’s big, crispy, and heaven on a bun! Anyway, I pounded out those little gems until they were the size of a dinner plate.

My good friend, Charlotte worked across the street at the A&W Drive-In. We’d wave at each other if we had the same shift. Even though they were a national chain, I always felt we had better food.

Shrimp baskets, chicken baskets, burger&fries basket, tenderloin basket, and onion rings– it was all greasy and wonderful!

There was something magical about those warm summer nights that brought out the community. Horns would honk and tires would squeal out of the parking lot to empress anyone in the vicinity.

Conversations would float between cars with a, “Hey what are you doin’ out so late?” or, “Does you wife know you’re out with such a pretty gal?” Knowing full well it was the wife sitting next to the customer.

Dates were made and broken, as well as hearts. Gossip was shared– who was heading off to the service, who was getting married, and who had to get married. Who was smoking, who was up for Homecoming King and Queen, etc…etc…etc…

I smelled like a vat of grease when my shift ended. I’d tumble into bed, my head filled with the nights events, and dead to the world in no time.

I learned many important lessons while working at the Dream… how to count back change… was a big one, but getting that paycheck was the icing on the cake!  It wasn’t a lot of money, but it was mine.A rite of passage that would mark my youth.

I wouldn’t trade all the cat-calls, spilled drinks, and onion tears for anything.

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KRE

If anyone has photos of the Dream, I’d love to see them. Just forward to my email.

Saddle Up!

Over the past weekend we did a little riding. Our niece, Emma, was here so she got to ride as well.

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Emma, is my brother’s daughter, and…Emma is tall! I mean… really tall…like 6’2″ tall! So… we had to adjust the stirrups for her, quite a bit! She loves the horses and plans to be a vet someday.

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Isabelle, our granddaughter, has ridden since she was able to walk. Izzy has a natural talent when it comes to ridding. She loves to saddle up with grandpa.

Oh, the red one is Ruby, and the palomino is, Watson!

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Daniel, our grandson, is a good rider as well. He looks good in the saddle and rides every chance he gets. Oh, and Daniel is my favorite oldest grandson! He’s getting to be a big help around the place. Daniel is always willing to give us a hand. He’s a hard worker and always has a cheerful disposition.

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Our favorite, youngest grandson, Asher, is just beginning his riding experience. We take him to the horses every chance we get. His little legs have some growing to do, but give him a few years and I’m sure he’ll master the skill.

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In the meantime, this wooden horse I found at an antiques shop will do nicely!

KRE

Farewell Sweet Sage

Yesterday, we said goodbye to our beloved pet, and companion, Sage.

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After thirteen years (that’s 91 in dog years) our sweet Sage left this heartbroken family, and her playground here on the Ranchette. The creek, hills, and the horses she loved to work, made her happy. It was her destiny to herd!

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Our children and grandchildren will miss her jubilant personality, her licks and always… that extended paw. She was a good babysitter too!

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We’ve always had a dog, but Sage was one of our best!

“Sagie,” as we sometimes called her… was smart, obedient, intelligent, and  a darn good dog!

Sage was a “keeper!”

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Australian Shepherds have that working instinct bred into them. They will herd anything, including children and other pets.

We once had a litter of kittens… they would invariably wander away from their mother’s watchful eye. Sage would gently, but firmly nudge and prod the unruly felines back to their mama.

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I will miss seeing Sage in my husband’s studio, keeping him company while he worked on his paintings.

And, I will miss her sneaking up the stairs for a snack…sometimes a hot dog or a bagel… she wasn’t picky. My husband would often find her buried booty in the sofa cushions, or under her pallet.

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And, one of her favorite treats was the hoof clippings when the farrier came. He’d line them up, and she’d have her own buffet!

She wouldn’t turn down an ice cream cone from McDonald’s, either.

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Getting around had become difficult with the progression of arthritis, and her hearing wasn’t as sharp as it once was. We had to remind ourselves that Sage was getting older and at thirteen she’d lived a long life for her breed.

So, when her quality of life became an issue, we made the tough decision to let her go. As any pet owner knows, its gut wrenching when, for the last time, their eyes say, “I love you and would do anything for you!”

Our sweet and professional veterinarian, Dr. Karen, helped us navigate a peaceful and dignified, goodbye.

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If there’s a dog heaven, I hope she’s herding her heart out, and has all the clippings she wants!

“RIP, Sagie!”

KRE