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marlingardener's Blog

Farm living and laughing


On being a magnet for the strange

Category: Farm Doings | Posted: Mon Mar 02, 2015 4:55 pm

My husband swears that if there is a weird, strange person within five miles, he/she will find me. Over the years, his statement has proven true.
We had been married a short time, and were sitting in our living room watching an old Sherlock Holmes movie at about midnight. There was a knock on our door and a neighbor was standing on our front porch, holding a six-foot long 2x4. Since he wasn't in the construction trades, we figured something was up.
He asked if we had seen a German Shepherd go by. We replied very few dogs trotted through our living room at 11:45 p.m. so no, we hadn't seen the dog. It seems this neighbor constantly left his garbage can out, and the dog constantly knocked it over. The 2x4 was to whack the dog if he encountered it. We didn't mention any dog worth its salt would go right past that six foot stick and get the neighbor by the nether regions.
The neighbor also had a rather large bandage on his forehead, and since I have no sense at all, I asked him what happened. It seems he shut the car door on his head. I left it at that.
When we moved to Texas, I stepped up my game. Here in Texas we don't keep our strange folk at home, we let them wander about to entertain the populace.
Our vegetable garden faced the Methodist Church parking lot. One evening a gentleman came to the back door and asked if he could plug in an emergency light so he could fix a van that was used for a charity's clothing distribution. We said sure, and showed him where an outside plug-in was located. We chatted, and found out that his name was "Lucky". A misnomer if there ever was one! First, he had only one arm, having lost an arm in a farming accident. Then he said that he couldn't drive his car because the driver's side door was missing. He went to the library to fill out forms for unemployment benefits and parked on the street. When he opened his car door to get out, another car whizzed by and ripped off the driver side door. Since he had no transportation, he couldn't get to the charity that let him drive the van. The charity had him on a waiting list for food and shelter, however.
Then there was the older lady who lived on the street in back of us. She came over one day to ask if we had seen her garbage can. (Remember the German Shepherd incident - deja vu!) No, we hadn't seen any garbage cans going by. Well, it was missing. Later that day she drove by, dragging the garbage can underneath her truck. It seems she had backed over the can which got stuck in the undercarriage, and she was trying to figure out where that strange truck noise was coming from!
Since we moved to the farm we've met a better class of strange people. There was the guy that wanted my husband to 1)trap bees that were in a camper (with flat tires and that obviously hadn't been used in years; 2) provide the hive, frames, and other equipment that bees need; and 3) give him the honey when we got it extracted and bottled. He was slightly offended that we weren't enthused about his plan.
We also have a neighbor who recently got a smart phone, and is convinced it has gotten into his head somehow. We tried to explain "cookies" that trace your preferences and recently visited sites, but he wanted to take it back to the store because it knew too much about him. I felt sorry for the smart phone.
And then there was the absolute stranger we had never laid eyes on before that pulled into our driveway and laid on the horn. We went out and she said she wanted to fish our pond and we should open the gate for her. Needless to say, she fished somewhere else.
I go into town once a week, and my husband worries I'll find yet another stranger that is strange. I cope well - over the years I've learned to smile, nod, and edge away (unless they are really strange, in which case I stash the story away for later use!).


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You can judge a man by his boots

Category: Farm Doings | Posted: Mon Aug 25, 2014 3:34 pm



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Early morning trip to the barn

Category: Farm Doings | Posted: Tue Aug 05, 2014 5:53 pm



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The Pig and I

Category: Farm Doings | Posted: Mon Apr 21, 2014 7:10 pm

Shortly after we moved into our little farmhouse, we had an urgent need of a plumber. That is when we met Buck, a thoroughly delightful young man and one heck of a plumber. He came, fixed our problem, chatted a while, and left. About two days later he called and asked if we wanted a pig. I told him we didn't have a pen or sty for a pig, but I sure appreciated the offer.
No, he was offering a feral piglet. It seems his mama ran a "we buy feral hogs on the hoof" business, and someone had come in with a large feral sow and her piglets. Buck got stuck with the butchering and there were ex-piglets up for grabs. Since Buck was so nice, I said I'd love to have a piglet.
Buck came with a cooler with a headless, footless, skinless pig carcass with the tenderloin laying by its side. "I cut out the tenderloin because I wasn't sure you knew how," Buck said. Honey, I've never seen, much less cut up, a pig carcass!
Undaunted (after all we are in the country and I need to learn these things) I let the cooler water and the blood drain out, as instructed by Buck. Then I hauled the little carcass into the kitchen; donned my apron; opened my trusty cookbook that has instructions on how-to-do everything; whipped out a filleting knife and a chef's knife; and learned how to dismember a pig. We ended up with two fresh hams, ribs, the tenderloin, a pork sirloin roast, and various little bits where I made a mistake or the knife slipped.
Feral pig, at least the young ones, are delicious. We ate "high on the hog" for a while, although my apron has never been the same.


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Meet and Greet in the Coop

Category: Farm Doings | Posted: Mon Mar 17, 2014 7:29 pm



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A Day on the Farm

Category: Farm Doings | Posted: Mon Jan 13, 2014 4:08 pm



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Why I went to college

Category: Farm Doings | Posted: Mon Jul 29, 2013 3:47 pm



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A Day in the Kitchen

Category: Farm Doings | Posted: Fri Feb 22, 2013 9:03 pm



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Old Dogs and New Tricks

Category: Farm Doings | Posted: Fri Nov 30, 2012 4:10 pm

The other night we were talking about all the great and glorious plans we had when we first moved here to the farm. We were "old dogs" in book knowledge of nature but we learned a lot of new tricks by just living here, watching what happens with no human intervention, and with a LOT of help from our neighbors (who look upon us as a source of entertainment!).
First, we were going to put a barbecue, picnic table, and chairs down by the pond so we could "picnic" there, and do some bird watching. We soon learned that we could sit at our dining room table, eat in comfort without hauling stuff across two acres, and bird watch anyway!
Then, I had the brilliant idea(?) to plant a big flower garden in front of the house--kind of an "I have arrived" statement. I had never encountered Bermuda grass before. That stuff has roots based in Beijing and spreads faster than the flu in a kindergarden class! Five years later I have a lovely flower garden with a Bermuda grass ground cover (I'm still fighting it, but losing the battle).
I wasn't the only one that was naive. My husband thought that a walk-behind shredder would do fine for our seven acres of scrub. Wrong! That poor man would struggle while cutting down sapling mesquites, going over fire ant mounds that put some comdominiums to shame, and finding all the little bundles of barbed wire, old tires, and other detrius that previous owners had tossed out in the field. We now have an sturdy All Terrain Vehicle with a tow-behind shredder, and I still have my husband.
Armadilloes are cute--slow, armored, and very Texan. I was thrilled to see one waddling through the back yard. I wasn't so thrilled when I stepped in a hole the darned critter had dug and spent two days limping. I have been told armadilloes also have very vicious front claws (for digging traps for unsuspecting folk) and can claw you badly. I have no plans to get close enough to one to get mauled. I have a gun.
Neighbors in the country aren't like neighbors in town. For example, when was the last time a town neighbor showed up on his tractor? When we moved here we had had enough of people. We were going to hunker down, not speak to anyone, and become hermits. Well, that didn't last. Before we got unpacked neighbors from three, four miles away were showing up with casseroles, offers of help, and of course, tractors.
So, these two old dogs have learned some new tricks, and enjoyed every minute of it (except for the armadillo hole incident).

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The Joy of Chickens

Category: Farm Doings | Posted: Thu Jul 19, 2012 6:17 pm

When was the last time you received a standing ovation when you entered a room? I get one every morning when I take the ladies their breakfast. The hens hop down from their perch, run to greet me, and make little gurgling noises. Their adoration knows no bounds.
Feeling unappreciated? Go pick a few cherry tomatoes from the garden and toss them into the outside coop. Instant gratitude from the ladies. They bounce around chasing tomatoes and gobbling them up, then give you adoring, expectant looks, hoping for more.
When we work in the garden or mow the barn lot, every move is watched by our fan club. Rock stars don't get this much attention. If we happen to throw some grass into the coop or give the girls a handful of weeds, it's better than a signed autograph from Mick Jagger!
Think you don't have any power or influence? Go to the coop--you'll find out that the ladies consider you to be the bringer of all things good (and you are also the coop cleaning staff). Having their water container filled is a source of constant amazement to them--"Look, she has water in that bucket, oh joy!" When you fill their food tray, it's a minor miracle and only YOU can do it.
It would be awfully hard to be depressed, sad, or lonely around chickens. Hens are great for the ego and self-esteem, and if you ignore the fact that all that adoration is caused by food, you can feel pretty good about yourself.
My fan club and support group:


All together now ( photo / image / picture from marlingardener's Garden )





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