Category Archives: pets

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?

The Driveway

Big doings this week at our house.  After 30 years the driveway is getting re-done!  It’s looked awful for years, the cement seams filled with weeds and the asphalt part crumbling but I let it go as long as I possibly could.  But starting last year we’ve had to be way too careful driving up and down because the ruts in the blacktop were deep enough that if you just drove straight up/down, you could scrape the bottom of the car.

It turned out to be a two-day job because I decided to replace the little paving blocks in the back with a real sidewalk as well.  The first day, they demolished the driveway, moved the paving stones and dug a nice trench for the sidewalk.  Then in a very smart move (amazing how they know their own business!!) they covered everything in plastic; it poured buckets overnight.  Watching them take up the soaking wet plastic and get as much of the water into my yard and my neighbor’s yard instead of onto the driveway was almost painful.

The cement business seems like periods of very hard physical labor punctuated with standing around.  Waiting for the next phase of the job begins or waiting for some piece of the job that someone else has to do gets done.  Just as well – if they worked that hard for 7 hours straight, no one could last in the job!

The cement truck couldn’t get all the way up the driveway so they filled an intermediate container on wheels – looked like a big bug.  Then from the bug to the wheelbarrows, then the hard work of spreading it and shaping it.

All this excitement was hard on the dog and the cat.  Of course, with all the work in the backyard, Guinevere had to do all her business at the end of a leash and overnight she had to be “escorted” into the yard to make sure she stayed off the plastic.  The noise made her a bit anxious but keeping her upstairs helped a bit.  Nimue also disliked the noise and disruption; I’m never quite sure how much she picks up from the anxious dog and how much is her own crabbiness at having her routines varied.  Not that her routine actually varied that much.

There were a lot of logistics for us as well.  First there’s the car issue.  You’re not supposed to drive on the new cement for 7 days.  And after spending the last year reading about people breaking into cars or stealing catalytic converters, we were both a little hesitant to park on the street overnight.  We decided to be a one-car family for a week; hers stayed in the garage and I parked on the street during the day and then in my neighbor’s driveway at night.  Second issue was the dog – she spent three days on “house arrest” – only getting out when she was supervised or on a leash.  Third issue was actually the biggest… this was SO distracting.  YA and I both were fascinated and I think we would have easily just sat and watching the proceedings for the entire 2 days. 

It looks fabulous now and I can’t wait until the first time I can drive up it and not worry about getting all the way to the right or left to keep from scrapping!

What’s a project that you put off too long (currently or in the past)?

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?

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?

Lost and found

Steve’s lost skillet put in mind the losing and finding of things. Husband and I often wonder where our cat has got to inside the house. She never goes outside, and we are always careful about not leaving the doors open, but we both have this irrational fear of her being lost outside when she isn’t immediately visible. All I have to do to get her to come is to roll up a piece of paper into a ball. The minute she hears that crinkle of paper, no matter where she is, she comes running, expecting me to toss it for an exciting game of fetch and chase.

I don’t remember much of this, but when I was about four, I left my security blanket draped on a post on the side of the road on Minnesota’s North Shore. I must have been ready to give it up, as I reportedly shrugged off its loss. Prior to this, my mother could only wash it when I was asleep, because I wouldn’t be parted with it.

These days, the things we lose are most often things that are right in front of us as we look for them. We also have so many accumulated recipes compiled in cook books and ring binders that it is hard to find the exact ones we want at times.

What is your strategy for finding lost objects? What have you lost lately? Did you find it?

Farming Day 1 Part 1

Today’s post comes from Ben.

Well not exactly day one. But the first day in the field doing spring work so it’s day one from that point of view. 

Spent the morning doing my usual stuff on the computer: emails, newspaper, moms banking, our banking. A few phone calls, etc. before I’m finally out the door mid-morning. 

I needed to take a couple of tires to get fixed and the one on the grain drill I already had loose. Also had a tire on the four wheeler with a slow leak and that’s easy to put a floor jack under the back end and use the impact wrench and four nuts and that comes right off.

Got both tires in the back of the truck, loaded up all three dogs, and headed for Millville Minnesota. We’ve been taking tires to Appel service in Millville for as long as I can remember. It’s about half an hour away and you won’t find a nicer, family owned business, anywhere. Millville is a town of about 180 people and so far down in the valley you can’t get any cell phone reception. There are a couple of bars, couple of restaurants, one Church, a cemetery where I have several relatives, a gun shop, and in a better year I would’ve dropped off the tires and then gone to get lunch at the Lucky Seven Café. 

When I got to Appels, most of the crew was at lunch so I said I’d come back. They are really good at fixing your tires while you wait but I may as well keep moving. Back up the road a few miles to pick up my Oat seed. It was such a nice day, pretty amazing weather for this time of the year, and we worry that it’s so dry; all the farmers are going hard. mostly applying anhydrous ammonia- Those white tanks you see in the fields. I probably saw a dozen farmers doing that. There was a couple guys ahead of me at Meyer’s Seeds and we stood outside and talked while Meyer’s rounded up seed and bring it out on the forklift. I petted some cats (The camera snap on the phone scared them away) and I got a nice metal ‘stick’ used for checking seed depth. Always wanted one of those.


After I got my 54 bags of oats, I strapped that down in the truck, and then back to Millville. As I pulled up, they were just taking the four-wheeler tire in and the drill tire was done. There’s something pretty interesting about watching a guy change tires. The machinery involved and just the whole process is really pretty fascinating. The guy ahead of me was watching his tires get fixed, I watched them fix my tire, while at the same time trying not to get in the way or look TOO interested. (It’s kinda loud and hard to talk or ask questions).

Just a tube needed in the four-wheeler tire. The grain drill tire is kind of special. It’s about 3 feet tall, and completely smooth except it has two heavy ridges on each edge. That way, going through the field, it makes a real clear mark that’s easy to follow on the next round of the field. I had ordered two tires: they had one in stock, the second hasn’t shown up yet. And that’s OK, this one was worse than the other. $262 for the tire. $13 labor to mount both. The only thing missing was the bottle of grape pop from the café. 

The dogs love riding in the truck. And they don’t miss a chance if they can help it. Although Humphrey lays in the back and looks completely uninterested but he does spend a little time looking out the windows. Bailey bounces back-and-forth between the front seat and the backseat and she spends half the trip with her nose in my face. Allie, the queen of them all will eventually setting in some place where the others don’t walk all over her at least for the moment.

Once we are back on our driveway, I let them all out to run home. About halfway down the driveway there was a squirrel about 75 yards away from the trees and making a beeline back to the trees. The dogs were a good 200 yards away. Missed it by “that“ much. 

Do you like car rides?

Got any stories about tires? 

Happier

Yesterday was a beautiful, sunny day for walking – even if a bit windy.  I walked along Minnehaha Parkway and as I looked down at one point I saw the words “Happier” and “Ed Sheeran” written in chalk on the sidewalk.  While I know who Ed Sheeran is, I wasn’t sure if I knew the song, so I whipped out my phone and looked it up.  It was very nice:

I don’t usually listen to music or audiobooks when I walk.  I prefer being present in the outside world and I’m not so sure that earbuds are all that safe.  I also need more attention than you would imagine to make sure that the dog is staying in a good state of mind.  But it was nice to listen to the song for a bit as we walked.  It won’t make me an Ed Sheeran fan but I liked the idea that I was hearing a song that someone else thought enough of to chalk it for passers-by.  We kept going along the parkway and I didn’t see anymore song titles.  Just the one.

If I could leave just one song written on the sidewalk for others to come across, what would it be.  One of my absolute favorites is the Ave Maria by Franz Biebl, especially the rendition done by Cantus.  But what message would I be sending the world with that one?  So I think I’d have to write “Everything is Holy Now” by Peter Mayer.  I think this is a song the world needs to hear.

I’ll supply the chalk.  What is the one song you want to add to the sidewalk?

The Pacifier

With the nice weather over the weekend, my nextdoor neighbors got their chalk out and went to work creating a village on their driveway (designed by Margot, who is 6).  When I stepped outside to appreciate it, Matilda (the almost 2-year old) informed me that she had a new bed.  Turns out it is just her crib but with the side down and a bed rail attached, but she was happy about it.  There was more big news… last night was her first night without her pacifier.  It was apparently a trade – the pacifier for the big girl bed.  I laughed and thought about my experience with pacifiers when YA was little.

When I went to China to pick up YA, there was a big list of “suggested” items that I take with me; a pacifier was on the list so I dutifully packed it.  YA, even as Tiny Baby, was not interested.  After a couple of futile attempts, I stuck it back in the duffel bag.  Nonny was at the airport when we got back to Minneapolis and she stayed for a week or so while I got my feet underneath me.  Nonny was absolutely sure that if she presented the pacifier enough times, Tiny Baby would accept it and all would be right with the world.  (It’s funny looking back because Tiny Baby was not fussy, there really wasn’t a great need.)  But Nonny kept trying and every time TB rejected a nook, it would end up on the side table or a chair or someplace where it became irresistible to someone else:  Baron. 

Baron was an 85-pound ball of fluffy, sweet, calm Samoyed.  He wasn’t the brightest bulb but he was sure that these pacifiers that Nonny kept leaving around were meant for him.  Of course as soon as he absconded with one, it became off-limits for the baby; slowly but surely over that week, we went from having a collection of 10 baby pacifiers to a collection of 10 dog pacifiers.  If ever there was a dog that didn’t need a pacifier, it was Baron.  He had self-soothing down to an art.  Eventually he chewed them all enough that I had to throw them away and we never had any more, since Tiny Baby didn’t need or like them.  Nonny wasn’t amused but I thought it was hilarious.

Do you have any self-soothing practices?  Are they working well for you?

Mad Kitty TWO

We have a mad kitty again. 

We noticed that she had a lump on her chest last weekend.  Since she had a fatty tumor last year that required surgery and some serious recuperation and a real notch out of my wallet, we were worried.  I made the vet appointment and then checked on the lump every day.  It seemed more fluid filled and it turned out to be a hematoma – the skin gets pulled away from the muscle and the body tries to fix it by filling it up with fluid.

It’s a fairly easy fix if your kitty isn’t mad.  These days you sit in your car in the parking lot while the vet deals with your animal.  They call you on the phone to let you know what’s going on and what they recommend.  When they called me, they said that Nimue was unhappy and uncooperative.  She’s gotten more uncooperative over the years; she used to be a sweet little thing but I guess some of her vet experiences have made her decide she’s not crazy about being there.  They said they would need to sedate her in order to give her a little tummy shave and to drain the hematoma.  I ok’d this and about 50 minutes later, they called me again to give me the final update along with after-care recommendations, which included putting a shirt on her (if possible) to keep the incision site clean for 24 hours.  They said they had given her a little bit of sedative reversal, she would be coming around soon and they brought her out to me in her carrier.

Well, it’s easy to put a shirt (borrowed from the neighbors) and an unconscious cat.  It took her a LONG time to come out of her sedation – I was very relieved when she started to blink and she continued to be really zonked out for most of the night.  By this morning, she was awake and moving about but NOT happy about the shirt.  We ended up taking it off at about noon but she’s still a little crabby.  Treats are OK but not much scritching or cuddling is allowed for now.  Hopefully she’ll be back to her happier self soon.

Do you ever sleep too long?  Does it make YOU crabby?