Sunday, August 6, 2017

Summer Takes a Break

by Pa Rock
Farmer in Summer

The hot, arid days that scorched the Ozarks in late July have been replaced with unseasonably mild weather. 

It was so nice here last week that I was able to finish the latest round of mowing in relative comfort, and then spend some time working on the farm pond which retains only a small amount of water at its very center.  Because it is usually near empty, I amuse myself by keeping the bowl (that would be a pond if it had water) mowed.  But there is one large hole in the side of the bowl and a couple of erosion trenches that block the mower - so this week I have been filling them with rocks and then cementing over those rock-filled areas.  Now the mower can reach much more of the dry pond.  If I keep up the patchwork I will eventually have a cement pond like the one the Clampett's had at their California home - the cement pond in which Elly Mae taught her cat to swim.

Sadly the geese have not taken to the water that is in the pond.  They much prefer for me to fill a plastic kiddie pool for them to bath and play in.  The five geese will walk right up to the edge of the small amount of water that is in the pond, but they won't splash on in.  They do like eating the tall grasses around the pond, but prefer their water to come from a tap.

If anyone ever compares you to a goose, be very offended.  Geese are as curious as cats, but have only a fraction of the intelligence of felines.  Last week I was in the house when I heard an awful commotion out in the backyard.  It sounded as through some varmint was killing one of the geese.  I rushed outside and discovered a goose dragging a pair of tomato cages across the yard, trying to free himself of the clanging wire devices - and the four other geese were close by honking wild support for their friend!  The goose finally broke free, and I gathered up the tomato cages and put them back next to the house where they had been stacked out of the way - or so I thought.

The tomato cages are next to the house and not out giving support to tomato plants laden with heavy summer fruit because of . . . well, the geese.  The first rule of farming is that a person may raise geese - or tomatoes - but not both.  This spring as I planted tomatoes and peppers, the young geese almost knocked me down as they rushed to devour the green delicacies!  Someone told me that placing rubber snakes in a tomato patch would keep the geese away, and I tried that - only to learn that the geese were delighted with the snakes and would carry them all over the farm in their beaks.  My geese are very fortunate - not every farmer would have bought them toys!

There is a birdbath out in front of my living room window that has always drawn the passing interest of the local birds.  There are, however, so many watering dishes strewn about The Roost, that birds have an abundance of places at which to bathe - so the official birdbath is nothing special - or at least it wasn't until recently.  A young male robin has taken to bathing there on a daily basis - usually in the mornings - and by bathing, I mean scouring.  The little fellow soaks himself from head to toe and vigorously scrubs and shakes.  His regular routine takes five minutes or more, and when he is finished he has to be the cleanest bird for miles around.  Making sure that birdbath is cleaned out and full of fresh water each morning has become one of my priorities!

It's raining this morning, a slow soaking rain that will help the grass grow and soon have me back out on the mower.   The guineas and geese are all out in the rain, but most of the poultry has better sense and is gathered in the chicken coop - probably playing pinochle.  I have an early variation of something in the crock pot that I am calling "Pa Rock's Hillbilly Jambalaya."   I can already tell that it will take a couple of more tries to perfect, but today's version appears both passable and edible.

Maybe I'll make some cornbread, and read a bit, and enjoy the peacefulness of this rainy day.  Summer will return soon enough.

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