Category Archives: animals

Lamb Chop Chomped

I think I watched television as a kid about the same as others.  Captain Kangaroo, Romper Room.  Too old for Sesame Street and Mr. Rogers, but just the right age for Shari Lewis and her puppets, especially Lamb Chop. I knew it was Shari doing the voices but I was fascinated by hearing Lamb Chop speak without seeing Shari’s lips moving.

So imagine my dismay when YA came home today with a Lamb Chop chew toy for the dog!  And as if that’s not bad enough, it has a main squeaker along with a squeaker in each foot for a total of five!  The din is awful and it gives me a sick feeling in my stomach seeing Lamb Chop getting chomped.

Do you have a favorite character from your childhood that you would hate to see turned into a dog toy?

Luna’s Great Leap

I have written before about our cat’s fascination with my Julbocken, the Scandinavian straw goats popular at Christmas. She loves to chew on the wheat berries at the end of the straw sprigs that make up the beards. Last Christmas I left them out in the living room instead of putting them back in the closet in January. I had repaired the beard of the largest Julbock and festooned him with a lovely beard and wanted to show him off.

I had three Julbocken and an Austrian straw girl on top of a curio cabinet that I thought was out of the cat’s range for leaping. The figures were at an awkward angle to jump to from the love seat (or so I thought). I thought the angle and the narrowness of the surfaces would dissuade her from leaping. I would sometimes see Luna, the cat, stare intently up at the figures from the floor, as if calculating what she needed to do to get up there. The other evening I heard a strange yowling, and I entered the living room to see her on top of the curio cabinet feasting on the repaired beard of the largest julbock. I got Luna down and put the goats back in the closet. I left the girl, since she had no berries to chew on.

A few days later I took this photo, that I think captures Luna calculating how to make another leap.

She hasn’t, to my knowledge, leapt again to the top of the curio cabinet. The girl has been left undisturbed. Luna isn’t a very active cat, but she is far more calculating than I would have imagined.

When have you taken a calculated risk? Did it work out for you? Who are the most successful risk takers you know?

Intro to the Classics

We had a lovely time last weekend with our son and his family. We were busy with cooking and eating and visiting and all the things you do when there is a three year old in the house. Grandson loves to dance and has a pretty good sense of melody and pitch, so I thought it would be fun to introduce him to some classical music.

We have a CD of Peter and the Wolf and The Carnival of the Animals performed by the Vienna Philharmonic and duo pianists Alfons and Aloys Kontarsky, with Karl Bohm conducting. Both are narrated by Hermione Gingold. I love her voice and expressiveness. She sounds so plummy, except when she drops into Cockney when she gets to the part where the wolf eats the duck “And he swallowed her rye tup!” The Carnival text was some cheesy poems by Oden Nash, but even that was ok with her narrating.

Grandson loved the stories. We acted out the motions of the animals with the music. He thought being the wolf was the best, even better than being Peter. It is so much fun to howl and roar, you see, even when you are being taken to the zoo. He especially liked marching to the lion’s music and roaring, jumping like the kangaroos, and waltzing like the elephants. I told him to imagine that the finale of Carnival was music for the monkeys in the zoo.

As we were saying our goodbyes on Monday, Grandson rather spontaneously called out from his car seat “Thank you for the lions and the wolfs, and the elephants, Oma”. I was pretty touched, and thought we had a pretty good intro to some good music.

What was your first introduction to classical music? What are your favorite classical compositions? How would you introduce them to a three year old?

RIP Eric Carle

Sad news in the world today.  Eric Carle, the prolific and colorful children’s author has passed away at the age of 91.  He was born in 1929 in Syracuse but moved to Germany when he was six; his mother was German and missed her homeland.  He eventually returned to the States as a young man and his first job was graphic designer for The New York Times. 

In 1967 Bill Martin, a children’s author, noticed Carle’s illustration of a red lobster and suggested that they work together. Brown Bear, Brown Bear became and instant and runaway best-seller and Carle’s career as a childrens book author and illustrator was on its way.

Even if you’re not very familiar with his many books, you might recognize his very distinctive style.  Using hand-painted paper, he did collages in startlingly bright colors and his favorite themes involved animals and nature.

I’m too old to have had Eric Carle books when I was a kid but I discovered him when I was working at the bookstore and I was happy to add some of his titles to YA’s collection when she was little.  Like many children, her favorite was The Very Hungry Caterpillar.  Carle wrote this in 1969 and it’s been his most popular title every since.  It has sold almost 50 million copies worldwide and has been translated into at least 40 languages.   YA also liked Brown Bear, Brown Bear – it’s very lyrical and the repetitions made it easy to memorize.

Of course, MY favorite is Polar Bear, Polar Bear, What Do You Hear?  I still have it in my collection.

Did you have any books memorized when you were a kid? 

Planting Corn

This week’s farm report comes to us from Ben.

Been having some nice rain the last few days. Over an inch now, plus the heat and humidity and we’re almost 200 Growing Degree Units (GDU’s) above normal. I figured we were behind, but we got that warm weather back in April. Crops have almost all emerged, and things are off to a good start.

Back in Blogworld, It’s the end of April and I’m just about to start planting corn. The wild leeks are up so I’ve been nibbling on them. Oats is just coming up, anhydrous fertilizer (nitrogen) is done, planting is next. My brother, Ernie comes out and drives the 8200 tractor and the soil finisher to get fields prepped. He says it’s the first time he’s driven a tractor since he was 18. He joked it was still just as boring going around and around. Plus, it’s hard to get run over by the tractor when you’re in a cab. (Hold that thought.)

I’ve been clearing edges of the fields with the 6410 tractor and loader. We have so many box elder trees and brush and weeds that come in from the edges, it’s a constant effort to keep the edges open or we lose them back to nature. Every year I go around and knock down the big branches, but sometimes I spend time literally pushing back everything, 7’ at a time, (the width of the loader bucket) back and forth, back and forth. Ernie thinks fieldwork is boring? But it’s good to get it done.

Back in the fall of 1968, Ernie was using a John Deere 720 tractor and a 3 bottom plow and his long jacket got caught by the tractor tire and pulled him off the tractor. The 720 is an open tractor and we’d often stand up when driving them. He got pulled off the tractor into the freshly plowed ground, right in front of the rear wheel. The rear tire went right over his chest, and he rolled out of the way before the plow got to him. My parents had just built the new house that summer and they were working on that and painting the roof trim when someone commented that the tractor was going in circles and Ernie was chasing it. Dad ran over there and somehow, they caught the tractor. Took Ernie to the clinic and he was fine; doctors couldn’t believe he was really run over, but he had the dirt on his shirt to prove it. They figure the soft dirt is what saved him. Plus, the tractor wasn’t that big or heavy. Another instance of luck or miracles to grace our family.

I took the loader off the tractor, order the corn starter fertilizer, get corn planter out and greased, get the fertilizer wagon ready, and make a trip to Plainview with Amelia and the dogs for the headlight bezel on the 6410. Pushing the trees off is hard on the tractor; I’ve broken a lot of little things doing that. And sometimes some pretty major things. But this year it was just the plastic bezel around the lights on the cab.

About 4:30PM I get out to plant. I have made some dumb mistakes in my life. Here’s another. The middle fertilizer tank auger is backwards. (My dad taught me to only put a little fertilizer in to start to be sure everything is working.) The tanks hold about 750 lbs each, so I fill it maybe half full or so. When planting corn, there’s a monitor to tell me seeds are coming out each row, and when I lift the planter on the ends, I look to be sure fertilizer is coming out the tubes. There’s a shaft I watch to make sure it’s turning because that’s what makes the fertilizer come out.

But if I put the auger in backwards fertilizer will not ever come out. At the end of planting season, I pull the shafts and augers out, clean and oil everything, and put them back. I try to keep everything lined up so it goes back the right way. And normally, I look in there and make sure they’re all going the same way. Clearly, I forgot that step this time. So, I made 2 rounds to use up some fertilizer, then use 5 gallon buckets to shift some fertilizer from the middle tank to the right, and put the left fertilizer in buckets, because I have to slide the left auger out, and then the middle one out through the left tank to reverse it. Remember back on oats and the shaft broke and I dropped too much fertilizer in a row? Well, now these two middle rows won’t have any fertilizer and I’ll be able to see that too; the corn will miss a boost this starter fertilizer gives it.

A lot of guys are using liquid fertilizer these days. I still use dry; it’s just what I’m set up for. I have a 6 row planter. Small these days of 12, 18, 24 row, or bigger planters. So, I have three fertilizer tanks, each doing two rows

Kelly and Amelia and the dogs take a walk, when they come back Bailey comes across the field to find me so she can ride in the tractor. She’s such a sweetheart. 

Kelly comes out in the field with the gator and gets in the tractor and makes a couple rounds with me. There’s not an extra seat in the 6410 so riding along isn’t that comfortable. The 8200 has an “instructor seat” and it’s more comfortable riding along. Humphrey goes back home. I spend some time checking seed planting depth and spacing; all critical things to a good final yield. You want it about 2½” deep and about 6” apart.

(It’s not 6” deep, that’s just the way the ruler is laying).

The seed is treated, that’s why it’s blue / green to prevent bugs like corn root worm, soilborne and seedborne pathogens, and to keep it healthy if it sits in cold ground for a few weeks before it gets enough GDU’s to emerge. (It takes 100 -120 GDU’s to emerge) and this year it took a few weeks before it finally came out of the ground. The random red color seeds are the ‘refuge’ seeds to prevent corn borer resistance.  

I finish planting at 9:30 PM. Out of both seed and fertilizer. I had added six bags of seed, each bag holds 80,000 kernals. So, 6 times 80,000 kernels equals 480,000 divided by the 14 acres I planted means 33,500 seeds per acre which is a good planting rate.

After they start to emerge, if you measure out 17’6”, that will be 1 / 1000th of an acre and you count how many plants are in that length and that’s your final stand population.

Ever had a seed of an idea that blossomed into something?

Woodpecker Spa

A few weeks ago, Husband decided to water the strawberry bed with a rotating sprinkler that watered the strawberries as well as a section of the lilac bushes. It was terribly dry then. The backyard birds got very excited and flitted in and out of the bushes through the water. One bird, a Hairy Woodpecker, just sat very still in the lilacs letting the water fall on it, luxuriating in the shower.

One other occasion many years ago in yet another drought we had a flock of Cedar Waxwings sit for a long time in the lilacs as an oscillating sprinkler went back and forth over them. I guess we have a bird spa in our backyard!

I have never been to a spa. I have never had a massage. I know lots of people do such things. I think I fear the intimacy of such experiences. I would rather watch the birds.

What are your spa experiences? How about massage? Any good bird stories?

Believe It Or Not

There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,
Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.
                                                                             Hamlet

Unfortunately, while I like to believe that Hamlet has it right, I tend more toward Horatio.  Yeti, Bigfoot, Loch Ness Monster, aliens in Roswell…. not much room in my philosophy for some of these.  It’s not just that I have never seen them but there’s not any compelling evidence (to me anyway) that anyone has even seen them.  I suppose someday I could be proven wrong, but I’m not holding my breath.

So I was very surprised to see Bigfoot cavorting along a backyard fence as I was driving through Richfield!  I went around the block so I could see it again and then another time so I could stop and take a picture.  Like the underwear tree, the bigfoot intrigues me.  Why would someone put a lifesize cutout of a bigfoot in their yard?  Maybe the author of Harry and the Hendersons lives there??

This is the only movie that I know of about a “not proven” creature.  I’m sure there are plenty out there and most likely songs as well.  I’m thinking about that unicorn song by The Irish Rovers that was very popular when I was in high school.

Any good songs, movies, poetry for mythical beasts?

NEVER LOOK BACK

This week’s farm update is from our Ben.

This week’s farm update comes to us from Ben.

Into May and corn is all planted and working on beans. Things are going well. Back in blog world I’ve finished oats and working on anhydrous nitrogen for corn.

How good are you at details? Do you pay attention to your surroundings? I think I’m pretty good at that. And yet… I miss the most obvious things sometimes. We still laugh about the truck parked on the driveway with the naked guy asleep inside. And somehow, I missed the naked women sleeping beside him. Huh. I was just so shocked by the man being naked I walked away at that point.

And my previous post about the fertilizer spreader PTO shaft breaking; how did I not notice that? I’m looking right there to be sure the apron is still moving and 12” away is the PTO shaft and I never noticed it break or wobble or whatever it was doing when it broke.

A few years ago, I finished planting oats and was heading back home with the grain drill. Got home, turned to back it into the shed and I have no drill. Huh! Well, it must have come unhooked just up around the corner and…. Nope. Not there. It was ½ mile back up the road. Hitch pin had come out and, thankfully, it’s not a complicated machine so just two hydraulic hoses that pulled out and the hitch dropped and it just rolled to a stop. Thank Goodness it was level there and, on our driveway, and not up on the highway or something. How did I not notice that?? Still can’t believe it. However, I have started using locking hitch pins on everything since then.

My dad made a big point of looking behind and watching the machine to be sure it’s working properly. It was a bit easier on the open tractors and smaller machinery. Nowadays with cabs, monitors, and mirrors, it’s easier to pay attention to all those things and not turn around and look behind me so much. I do watch behind me! Honest! But I still miss something plugging up and suddenly I’ve made a full round and there’s a big trench behind me because I picked up a tree branch or something. Man… how did I miss that?

Sometimes I’m not good at details. Ask Kelly; she could have told you that. Maybe it’s just overload; I’m so busy watching that one thing, I miss the other.

We got a decent rain finally, .4 inches. Definitely too muddy to work in the field. Which is OK because I have straw to deliver to Northfield and made the straw and poo delivery to some of you in the Twin Cities.

Got 45 baby chicks delivered the next week. Was able to use my favorite line at the post office. “I’m here to pick up chicks.” I can hear them ‘cheep cheep cheep’-ing in the back room there. People always look and smile as I carry them out. Sometimes I crack the box open so they can look. 

Applying anhydrous nitrogen isn’t hard, but one has to be extra careful hooking up hoses and dealing with it. It’s nasty stuff so I take a lot of safety precautions and make sure I know what I’m doing. Too add to it, the coop where I get the tanks decided farmers have to pick up and return the tanks ourselves (rather than the coop delivering)  which means my truck has to have a DOT inspection, so that was an extra expense this year, plus the time it takes to go and pick up the tank. However, Kelly and I got a road trip date out of the deal. (Plus the dogs)

I always thought the tanks held 5000 lbs. Turns out it only had 3800 lbs in it, which messed up my math for how far one tank should go at the rate of 150 lbs / acre. Assumptions were made. I should know better.

Saw a pretty cool sunset too.

The sandhill crane pair that had been hanging around for a month finally moved on.

Next up: Burning CRP ground

What’s the most unusual thing you’ve ever gotten in the mail?

Arkoudaphobia

My little neighbor, who is six, gave me a very stern warning over the weekend.  “My friend had a bear come up on her deck to eat from her bird feeder.  So be really careful and be sure to close your gate at night.”

I’m not sure where the friend lives, but I’m pretty sure it’s not in southwest Minneapolis.  We normally keep an eye on the gate so the dog doesn’t get out, but I will admit that I did look out the back window last night to make sure it was closed!

Any irrational fears you’ll admit to?

Rabbit Whimsy

Last month Bill (I think it was Bill) mentioned Voyage to the Bunny Planet by Rosemary Wells.  It had been in print a few years before I was first read it to Child, but I remember that we had it from the library at some point.  The Hennepin Library doesn’t own a copy any longer but I was able to get it through InterLibrary Loan and I’m liking it so much that I’ve ordered myself a copy.  (I have a very modest children’s book collection – based solely on what I like).

There are three stories, each featuring a young bunny who has had an exceedingly bad day —  never-ending math class, horrible cousins, medicine that tastes like gasoline.  At the end of these bad days, the young bunnies wish for a visit to the Bunny Planet.  There they are greeted by the kind Queen Janet who invites them in with a “Here’s the day that should have been.”  Each bunny falls off to sleep with the visions of a perfect day dancing in their heads.

At the beginning of each story, there is a rabbit quote like this:

It is the first duty of a flagging spirit to seek renewal
in the latitudes of whimsy.  I, for one, dream on
beyond the give planets to a world without wickedness;
verdant, mild, and populated by amiable lapins.
Benjamin Franklin

The other quotes are from Rudyard Kipling (“The captain fell at daybreak, and ‘e’s ravin’ in ‘is bed, With a regiment of rabbits on the planets round ‘is ‘ead.”) and Galileo (“I designated this heavenly body “Coniglio,” but alas, never saw it again.”)

It’s gratifying to see rabbits making the grade in heavenly literature but I think it’s fascinating that Benjamin Franklin dreamed of whimsy and thought a perfect world would be a bunny haven.

I say whimsy all around!

Tell me about your “day that should have been” and how your perfect world would look?