Monday, June 29, 2009


In December when I ordered my new chickens, I picked Buff Orpingtons because they still had the instinct to go broody, and I wanted to be able to raise some chicks myself instead of buying replacement hens all the time.

Except, as my pullets reached maturity, the rooster I had was ambushed and stolen by a coyote or some other creature.

And, I was actually OK without a rooster because now I didn't need to watch my back (or my shins) when I went out to gather eggs or take care of the chickens. It's been rather nice and relaxing. Besides, without a rooster to worry about, Miss Kat has actually gone out and helped with chicken chores. She was/is afraid of roosters. Especially since one spurred her a couple of years ago.

But now, I have a new problem.

I have three hens who've gone broody and are trying to set a nest.

Except the eggs they are sitting on will not hatch because they haven't been fertilized.

For the past three nights, I've made three hens very angry and frustrated as I've pulled them off of nests and out of nesting boxes. And, they've pecked me in frustration. One hen isn't even sitting on any eggs. One had 3 eggs under her yesterday and the third had 2. Friday night, one had 3 the other two had 1 egg each.

And, they really don't like me much right now. I've apologized. I've tried explaining the facts of life to them. I've even had sex education classes, but they didn't listen. Evidently they know more than I do about this procreation thing... And, if you think teen aged girls are moody...well, maybe you should spend some time with a broody hen.

So, I'm in the market for a rooster. I think I've found one (maybe two.) We'll see what develops.

Friday, June 26, 2009


One summer harvest was very memorable. I think it was the summer before my Senior year. Working at the elevator that year was: Bob, the manager, Mom, the "second man", Rick, Muriel, Me and Nina.

In one way or another, we were all related too. It's a small town thing...Bob's little sister married Mom's cousin. Rick is their son, which technically makes him my second cousin. Nina was Rick's little sister, and Muriel was his wife. So we were basically all family in one way or another. Nina, Muriel and I were working in the office. Rick was dumping trucks. Mom and Bob were either in the elevator, or they were loading railroad cars with wheat. Mom was also responsible for posting all tickets and keeping everyone's account in order and most importantly, she was the payroll person!

But, that year, we needed more help. The corporate office in Hutchinson sent out this guy to work with us. I do not remember what his name was, and I'm not sure I took the time to really learn his name. We all called him Arkie and he left quite an impression on us all.

I'm pretty sure Arkie was from the Ozarks. He pulled in on the first day of harvest driving an old school bus that he had reconditioned and made it his home on wheels.

Arkie himself was a tall man, at least 6 foot. And he weighed a good 300 lbs. He always wore overalls. In fact, I think he wore the same pair the entire time he was working with us--2 weeks. Mrs. Arkie was short, probably 5'2" all the way around. Her favorite outfit consisted of a big loose skirt and a tube top. Oh, and no bra, and no underwear, and, she didn't sit in a ladylike manner either.

Yep, they were quite the pair. He was a fairly good worker, and the Mrs. would sit out in the elevator watching him work all day. The truck drivers really enjoyed that view; Ms. Arkie, sitting on the steps, or in the corner in line with the side mirror, sitting with her skirt hiked and no underwear...

Arkie knew everything about anything. He was very well educated. All you had to do was ask. Which we tried not to do, but somehow it didn't matter. He knew everything.

Our favorite part of Life with Arkie was when he'd come in to use the facilities.

We'd have to evacuate the building and fumigate before going back into the office. Which wasn't real convenient during harvest.

Seriously, the man had serious gas. Noxious gas. It took a vvvveeeeeerrrrryyyyy long time for the place to air out. And Air freshener did not work. It just made it worse.

Late one night, (or early one morning) we were shutting down. Arkie had gone out to his Bus, and we were all getting ready to go. Mom and Bob were even in the office. Rick said he just had to tell us the latest piece of information... Arkie had asked Rick if he would like to switch wives for the night.

To be honest, I'm not sure how Rick kept a straight face at that, and I do think he told Arkie just where he could go with that idea. But, by the time he told us, he could laugh about it. Because the idea was just mind boggling! Muriel and Rick were still newlyweds, and they were crazy about each other. The thought of Rick trading Muriel for one night of "pleasure" with Mrs. Arkie...well, yeah, it was hilarious. Especially since Arkie had already shared with us (on one of his facility visits) that he and the Mrs. liked to...well, their favorite spot for conjugal matters was the cemetery.

So now, we all knew that they were...odd...added to their dress and overall hygiene, and well...yeah. I know I would have been tempted...

tempted to run the other way.

Fortunately for us, we only needed Arkie at the elevator for 2 weeks. He moved on; in his bus, with his wife. I have to admit though, we all thought that some of our family and neighbors in Big E were eccentric, and very red-necky, and down right odd; but no one, and I mean no one, could hold a candle to Arkie.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Working at the elevator

My first job was at the Elevator during Harvest. Now, working at the Elevator is a short term job, because wheat harvest lasts 2-3 weeks usually. Short term, but long hours. I'd been looking forward to being able to work for a very long time. My plan was to work there the summer between my 8th grade and Freshman year, when I was 14.

You had to be 14 to work at the Elevator, and all a 14 year old could do there was roll tarps, but it was a job, and jobs were scarce in Big E. Unfortunately, the Federal Government stepped in that year and changed the law. No one under the age of 16 could work at an Elevator, and you had to be 18 to work in the Elevator.

Instead of working at the elevator that summer, I painted window trim for some friends and my grandparents.

But, the year I turned 16, I worked at the Elevator.

My job that first summer was to write out the tickets that we gave to the truck drivers. They'd pull on the scales, get weighed, and go on to the elevator. After being dumped, we'd weigh them again and figure the number of pounds of wheat they had, and figure the number of bushels. Another gal weighed the trucks (using a bar scale), she had her scale tickets, and I had the other tickets--the official tickets. We'd check our numbers with each other to make sure we matched and then I'd run my ticket out to the driver. My ticket also had the account name on them. Since several farmers leased ground, or farmed on shares, I'd have to change the names on tickets as they changed fields.

We took wheat from farmers for miles around, some from the Ditch Valley area of Oklahoma, some from the Mennonite settlement, and some from the northern part of the county. There were lots of names to remember. And, I did pretty well. Except, I did make one lady very angry.

One of the trucks came in and I ran out to find out who's wheat it was. The lady in the cab said it was "Minnow F.......'s wheat." Minnow? Who on earth would name their poor kid Minnow? But, I went inside and wrote Minnow's name on the ticket, we dumped the truck, I gave the driver the ticket, and she drove off --normal procedure.

But on their next trip to town, the driver came storming into the office, madder than a wet hen. She was furious. She stormed into the office where my Mother, who was also my Boss, was posting tickets from the night before. We gals didn't know what went wrong, so we quietly went about our work. The lady left, somewhat calmer. Mom came over and said, "Shell, you made a mistake on Mr. F.......'s ticket. Minnow is spelled M E N N O, after the founder of the Mennonites. Mrs. F....... thought you did it on purpose, but we got it straighted out, so from now on, make sure you get it spelled right." And then, she laughed, and Bob, the manager laughed and thumped me on the back.

O my. I felt awful, and I was so embarrassed. But, how was I to know that Menno wasn't Minnow?

Every year after that, Mom and Bob would come in each time the F.......'s came in and checked to see if I had spelled "Menno" correctly, and then they'd laugh. Real comedians...

But, I never miss-spelled it again.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Starting to "snip" the cord

For the past couple of weeks, Andy has been nagging us to up-date our cell phone plan and allow him to upgrade his phone. We haven't been real receptive to his need for a fancy-schmancy phone. So, we've been basically ignoring him. It's a gift we parents have.

Yesterday, he asked me if he could take himself off his phone. After all, he has a job now (temporary), and he'll be in college soon, and he is 18 now, and he wants to start being responsible for his own life and blah blah blah.

I've heard it all before. In fact, I said similar things 20 some years ago when I was 18--only without the cell phone thing.

So, we decided to put a snip in the cord and let him go off our phone plan and on his own. Of course he got the fancy phone with Internet and a qwerty key pad. His plan will be "either $71 a month or $108 a month." (I heard the sales rep say $108, but Andy said he only paid $71.)

My independent son, who wanted to cut the cord then asked me, "Mom, if there's a month I can't pay, will you pay my bill and then I'll pay you back." My reply? "Nope. It's your responsibility. You'll just have to make sure you have the money to pay it every month. That's how it works."

I pretty confident he'll make sure it gets paid every month. And if his summer job ends with the end of summer, I have no doubt he'll find another one. He's pretty responsible.

But, boy is it scary letting him take these tiny steps into adulthood. I keep telling myself that I made mistakes and stupid decisions when I was his age. So did his Dad. So, I guess it's time to start letting him make some moves of his own.

It's time for all of us to take those snips at the cord.

Monday, June 22, 2009

pond pictures

Miss Kat took a few photos of the pond and the water lilies blooming. The above shot is of the first stream, which drops water into the small pond. We've added water Iris and Flags and a yellow water lily to this pond this year.
Here's a shot of one of the yellow lilies blooming. You can see the flags and water iris and the bricks the pots sit on in the background.

A close up of the yellow lily. I really like the yellow one, it's my favorite.

A close up of the pink lilies in the big pond.

Another shot showing all 5 blooms. We've got 8 flowers blooming right now. The green plants that aren't lilies are water hyacinth.
Kev's pretty happy with the ponds this summer. I promise, we'll post more pictures soon.

Green & Gorgeous Kansas

We've had an insane amount of rain and storms during the month of June. Some tornado warnings, more hail warnings, but it's been crazy. Just this past Saturday, we had, at our house 5 inches of rain. In one day. Insane.

This is a view from the house, looking east. See the gold wheat, the dark green of the pastures, and the double rainbow? Yeah, it's tough looking at something like this after a rain storm. I feel sorry for you guys who only have trees to see. Just look at what you're missing.

When I'm miserable, hot and sweaty, I'm going to look at this picture and remember how nice and cool it was that night.

These shots are of the same storm, which did drop a few funnel clouds and lots of hail just north of us. (In fact, many wheat fields will not be harvested this year because they've been hailed out.) The first one is looking over the chicken house, across the pasture. Isn't that pretty? And right now, the creek is full of water. And cows. See my chickens? (The chickens are those golden blobs in the foreground.) I'm gettin' about a dozen eggs a day right now. They've enjoyed the rain and the bugs, and they've even enjoyed a couple of frogs. (Not tadpoles, they are still tadpoles...sigh.)

This last shot (above) is looking north. The clouds were just a swirlin' and twistin'. We stood outside, watching the clouds and listening to the tornado sirens in town. It was cool.

But, now, the rain is probably gone for the rest of the summer. Forecast for the week, 100 degrees all.week.long. ugg. In one week, the nice dark green will be gone, and we'll be back to shades of brown and yellow. But for now, it's green and gorgeous in Kansas.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

the book

When I was in oh, 12-14, sometime in there, I read this book. (Ha! Imagine, me reading a book. What a revelation! I'd bet you never imagined me reading...) Anyway, I didn't write down the title, and I usually did. But, for years I've been remembering bits and pieces and I've been trying to find this book. Only problem, I couldn't remember the title or the author.

Here's what I remembered.

The girl in the book grew up in a Christian home in Germany. Her mother made sauerkraut. The girl became a leader in the Hitler Youth movement. She met a boy, he name was something. I thought the girls name was Maria. After the war, she and the boy met again and got married and later they immigrated to the US. At a church service, the congregation started singing a hymn, but the music was also that of the Nazi's anthem, which the former Hitler youth couple found hilarious.

When I was an early teenager, I read lots of testimony type of books. During the 1970's, many Christian writers of European heritage were writing about their experiences during World War II, their experiences with the Holocaust, and even their experiences behind the Iron Curtain. Both the Nazi regime and the Soviet block suppressed Christianity, and by the 1970's, many Christian survivors were sharing their stories.

Because I had read so many of these type of books, it's understandable that I was having trouble remembering the title of this one. I finally found this book though, and read it again last night. (Interlibrary Loan is my friend.)

The title of my lost book is Hansi: the girl who loved the Swastika by Maria Anne Hirschmann. I had remembered most of the above points correctly. But they weren't necessarily points that were important to the plot. For instance, the was talked about on page 2, and never again. So, why did the homemade sauerkraut stick in my memory? And the hymn, that was also a small point on one page. So, why did that stick? Who knows.

Sometimes I've been disappointed re-reading a book that really made an impact on me as a young person. My adult perspective is very different than it was when I was a teenager and some of the books I loved then. For example, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith.

I read it at about the same age I read Hansi. I remember thinking how cool Francie's life was and how neat her father was, and how loving. I enjoyed her adventures, and I remember reading about her attack by a bad man in the stairs, but I really didn't understand what was so awfully bad about it. As an adult, I was more aware of the poverty, the drunkenness, and the attempted rape. As an adult, I picked up more on the reality of life of Francie's poor Irish family and her desire to achieve more. As a child, I romanticized much of this book. As an adult, I was horrified to think about all the terrible experiences Francie dealt with as a child. (But, it's still a good book.)

I was afraid that my perspective of Hansi might be similar. But it wasn't. I remembered it all pretty well and accurately. It's a nice testament of a woman's journey in faith. I'm glad I found it again.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

In my next life

In my next life, I think I'll come back as a Canadian Goose. (or is it Canada Goose?)


That's what I think I want to be--a goose.

I like watching them fly.

I like watching them swim.

They're pretty.

I like the fact that they are monogamous.

I like the fact that they mate for life.

I like watching geese with their young.

I like the fact that they can walk around on the ice and snow and their feet don't get cold.

Kev says I'd never make it as a goose. He says I'd be the only goose who's feet did get cold.


I still think it would be cool to be a goose.

Monday, June 08, 2009

I'll never be a Vet

Last year, Miss Kat's rabbits had babies. Five babies. They grew up and I gave two away.

We were stuck with the other three. I checked the undersides and the back sides of all three and decided they were all the same sex. Male.

They all lived together in the same pen. Peacefully, in the same pen. I was so proud of myself for sexing them correctly.

A couple of months ago, one of the three died. It was so thin, and knowing how Miss Kat "occasionally" forgets to feed them, I assumed that the other two were dominant and pushed the third one away from the food. But, not knowing for sure, I gave all the rabbits some Teromycin.

Last week, one of my remaining boy bunnies killed the other. No idea why, but it was murder plain and simple. We removed the deceased, and, like all prison murders, the guilty party is in solitary confinement. (Well, he now doesn't have to share a cage, so I guess that counts as "solitary confinement!")

Saturday, Miss Kat and I ran out to feed before our trip to Hays. She arrived first, came to a screeching halt, and looked at me with a horrified face.

There were two newborn baby bunnies in with our murdering male rabbit. Dead.


Male rabbits can't have babies, can they?

Perhaps my remaining murderer is really a murdering mother?

I removed and disposed of the kits and checked her box. Sure enough, 3 more babies.

Which, explained why the other rabbit was killed. And, it tells me that I'm not a good vet, because I sure didn't sex these rabbits very well! If I'd known I had a female...a pregnant female, I'd have never have given "her" Teromycin.

Yesterday, I was down to 2 babies. "Mom" ate one.

Today, the remaining two were dead.

Which is sad...not really...

well, kinda.

We didn't need more rabbits. Mom wasn't taking very good care of them (no nest to keep them warm) and I'm sure the drugs Mom got while pregnant didn't help.

Yes, there is a reason why I'm not a vet...


I've made a new goal for myself. Someday, I will relax over the weekend.

I will not go anywhere.

I will not have any pressing projects.

I will not have to run one of my children somewhere.

I will stay in pj's all day long.

I will take a 2 hour bath.

I will watch hours of mindless TV, or read a good book, or stitch.

I will not cook.

I will not clean.

I will not do laundry.

I will relax.

I thought things would slow down after graduation. But they haven't. We've been down to Mom and Dad's 3 weekends in a row, working on projects for them.

Last weekend, we ran down to measure a shed from the Hill to see if it could be moved and used by Mom for a lawnmower garage. It could. So, last Tuesday, Kev and Kat ran down and poured concrete for the floor. (and, yes, Kat actually helped!)

Saturday, Kev and Andy ran down and moved the shed. I opted out that day...(actually I was driving to and from Hays, dropping Kat off with friends from Colby.)

Kev and Andy were going to move the shed into town using skids. That was plan A.

But it didn't work out because of all the trash and crap inside the shed (courtesy of pack rats.) So, they moved on to Plan B. Which consisted of cutting part of the front of the shed out and backing the pickup under it. (We were planning on cutting out the front for wider doors anyway.)The shed rested on the pickup bed. The roof was higher than the pickup cab, and the walls of the shed were outside the pickup bed. A cute little window on the was such a nice redneck camper! All it needed was curtains.

Yesterday, Kev and I ran down and bolted it down to the concrete slab and started framing in the new doorway. Kev also helped Dad set up a new tank at the farm windmill. Mom and I went through stuff that I brought home for our upcoming garage sale. (She's gone through stuff. I haven't even started yet...)

It was another busy weekend; which is why I so desperately want that "someday" weekend...

Friday, June 05, 2009

inside the pond

See those little black spots in among the rocks? Any idea what they are? Check out the picture guess....
If you guessed tadpoles, you'd be correct! We've had several toads or frogs take residence in the pond. Not only have they moved in, but they laid eggs and those eggs have "hatched." We have about a million tadpoles in the pond. And, I'm not exaggerating either. I counted!

I've had visions of being inundated by toads...or frogs...whichever...who cares? Both are creepy! But, with a million tadpoles, they will eventually tun into frogs and then it will look like Egypt after Moses. Fortunately, Kev bought some fish. I haven't seen the fish, and I'm not seeing a great decline in tadpoles yet, but I hope they feast. I much prefer fat fish over a million frogs.