Tag Archives: humor

Suppers and Scarves

Last night, Daniel and I took our local family out to supper in honor of Christina‘s “Glad I Got’cha Day!”   We slipped it in after a day that was hectic and hard on many fronts, but I’m so glad we did.  I needed it desperately, and I’m pretty sure I wasn’t the only one.

Yesterday afternoon, in the hospital gift shop, I had bought a new scarf that had the color teal on it. This was to honor Youngest Daughter, Rachel Jane‘s request that we take note that the month of April was Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM). Yesterday was specifically designated as #everybodyknowssomebody day. People were asked to wear something with the color teal to indicate that they cared/knew/supported victims. I had forgotten until I was out of the house yesterday morning. Besides, I didn’t think I had a single thing that was teal, either in accessories or apparel. So I decided to check at the Milford Hospital Gift Shop where I have made some friends, and where I often find unusual things. The only thing I found was a scarf with butterfiles that had teal accents. It was pretty, and it would do.

So last night I wore my usual black skirt, a simple white top and with the assistance of Deborah dressed it up with the pretty scarf. The evening was pleasant, We ate on the patio at The Palace, and the six of us (Christina, Jesse, Charis, Deborah, Daniel and I) enjoyed our time together immensely.

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We got home, and I was getting ready to run into the hospital to see Linda. I was absentmindedly running the ends of my scarf through my fingers when I hit something crackly. Oh, dear! The price tag from the gift shop was dangling from the end of my scarf with one of those plastic string things that establishments use to keep garment price tags in place.

I hadn’t seen it! Deborah hadn’t seen it. I wonder who did!

Maybe as many who noticed the teal in the scarf and knew what it was for. And in River Town. Art Town. Home Town. We are Milford,” that just might have been nobody.  But they should have.  In researching my home town, I was saddened to discover that, for all we have going for us, this is also (allegedly) true:

Crime

The city of Milford has a crime rate higher than the national average in some categories, much higher in rape, assault, and theft, and lower in others.

Milford Nation
Murder 0.0 6.9
Forcible Rape 97.22 32.2
Robbery 166.7 195.4
Aggravated Assault 1333.3 340.1
Burglary 1027.8 814.5
Larceny Theft 5500.0 2734.7
Vehicle Theft 291.7 526.5

Formula used for chart: ((Crimes Reported) / (Population)) X 100,000)[12]

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Filed under Family, Family living, My Life

Nocturnal decimations

Delaware Grammy has always enjoyed the hours when she could sleep, undisturbed and quiet in her comfy bed.  Even though she is not one to claim (or even need) quantity of hours, the quality is mandatory so as to see her through the days that wrap themselves around the old farmhouse at Shady Acres. It has been a great blessing that Delaware Grandpa, though troubled by Restless Leg Syndrome and a family gene that causes insomnia, makes it his business to sneak stealthily from the room when he cannot sleep so as not to disturb his wife with his wanderings about in the still, quiet nights.

In recent weeks, things have gone awry in such a way as to make Delaware Grammy think there must be a conspiracy going on amongst the gremlins that disturb sleep.  And they are using almost every method available and opportunity afforded them.

The changeable weather caused one restless night.  Delaware Grandpa and Delaware Grammy sleep in a bedroom that tends to be on the cool side, and several weeks ago, when the weather turned cool, Grammy brought forth the electric blanket, threaded the controls under the bed to the respective sides and plugged everything in.  That very night, things warmed up and so it wasn’t needed for some time.  However, when the nights became cooler again, Grammy began to ask Grandpa if he was going to turn on his side of the blanket.  He always said that he didn’t need it “yet” but didn’t care if Grammy turned hers on.  So there were some nights when Grammy would turn hers on for a brief period, but most of the time it wasn’t necessary at all.  And then one night she came to bed feeling very tired and quite warm from a long day cooking and getting ready for company.  It was a cool night, but she kicked the covers off her feet, and didn’t think she needed the electric blanket at all, so she didn’t even look at the control.  She was restless all night, just feeling so warm, and finally kicking back the electric blanket and sleeping with just the sheet.  But then she was too cold, so she pulled it back up again.  Whew!  Then she was too warm.  Along about 4am, Grandpa took himself downstairs to his La-Z-boy and Grammy happened to fluff her pillow up over the side of his and take over part of his side of their bed.

H-m-m-m-m-m-m.  His side was cool.  Considerably cooler than hers.  Wait a minute!  She was suddenly very much awake.  She turned back over to her side of the bed, and grabbed the electric blanket control that was languishing on its side on her bedside table.

Oh, dear!  No wonder she was warm.  In the darkness, a bright green 10 shone out merrily.  TEN!  Oh, for crying out loud!  No wonder she was warm!  But how in the world???  She hadn’t touched that control for a number of days.  However, it didn’t take too much sleuthing to realize what had happened.  Last year, if Grandpa went up to bed early, and thought it was cold, he would turn on her side of the blanket so that it would be warm for her when she climbed in.  He never bothered to change the settings, but would just turn it on.  On this particular night, he was feeling chilly.  And even though he didn’t feel the need to start his side of the blanket, he was looking out for the comfort of his wife.  Somehow the setting was at TEN on this particular night, and so all night long Grammy roasted away while she tossed and turned and barely slumbered.

Around the same time, there seemed to be an upper respiratory bug going around the household of Delaware Grandpa and Delaware Grammy.  Grandpa was coughing and snorting around and Grammy was trying really hard not to catch it.  All she needed was a stopped up nose and a cough to complicate her life.  And so one night, getting awake in the middle of night, she found her mouth exceedingly dry and her throat feeling scratchy.  She padded over to the bathroom and got a drink and then climbed back into bed.  Lying there, thinking about the probability that she might be getting sick, she decided to spray her throat with some Chloraseptic spray that is always on her bedside stand.  She felt around in the dark and found the spray bottle.  Undoing the plastic top, she aimed it for the back of her throat where her tonsils once were and gave a hefty push on the spray top.

Ugh!  Oh, awful!  There was a horrible burning sensation, a terrible taste in her mouth and the smell of liniment.  Yepper!  You guessed it!  She had gotten her “pain spray” alright, but it was the one for aching muscles and creaky joints, not the Chloraseptic Sore Throat Spray that she was expecting.  It wasn’t just Grandpa who was coughing and snorting that night.  But her mouth certainly wasn’t dry for the rest of the night.  Ah, yes.  There was lots of watering going on.  But she hadn’t gotten terribly much, and she didn’t seem any the worse for it, so she waited for the light of day and then made sure that she had what she wanted and that it was where she wanted it for the next time it was needed.

And then there was the week between Christmas and New Years.  Delaware Grandpa and Grammy’s family came home for a few days, and Grammy had come upon the bright idea of giving Eldest Son and his family their side of the upstairs for the few nights they and their four children would be home.  The two bedrooms and the bathroom was a good fit, and Grandpa and Grammy could easily sleep on their recliners those nights and all would be well.

All would have been well except for a stomach virus that laid the family low during their stay, and there was much vomiting and bed changing and such going on.  On Wednesday, Eldest Son took his family back to Sugar Creek, and Delaware Grammy reclaimed her bed for a few hours until the same stomach virus laid its savage hand upon her, and she was back in her recliner for thirty hours or so.  Quickly recovered, she had pleasant sleep for all of Thursday and Friday nights, and quietly prayed that God would spare the rest of her family.  Especially Our Girl Audrey and Blind Linda.

It was not to be.  Saturday morning she came down to a very miserable BL.  She had projectile vomited over her bedroom floor, clear to OGA’s bed, and then vomited profusely while in the bathroom.  All day long, there were ministrations of gingerale and peach juice and Phenergan.  By evening, she wasn’t vomiting, and she seemed to be better, but Grammy decided that it would be best for her to sleep in a recliner, where she could be helped quickly if she needed assistance.  (She also was remembering the three hours she had spent cleaning the bathroom, spraying Lysol over all the surfaces, and scrubbing the rug between the beds in the bedroom.  Linoleum floor and a Schwan’s ice cream bucket seemed a far better choice than a bed with clean sheets and a still wet carpeted floor.)  So, with Linda in her chair, and late night things to finish up, Grammy finally got settled very late, indeed, into her own recliner and drifted off to sleep.

It was a restless sleep, however, and scarcely was she asleep an hour when she was suddenly awake.  She heard voices.  People were talking somewhere, faintly.  Then she heard the driveway monitor.  This did not produce confidence.  As quietly as she could, she put the foot rest down on her recliner.  Stealthily she sneaked out to the kitchen and looked out the window.  Yikes!  The motion sensor light had been activated on the back deck towards the chicken house lane.  She stood stock still in the middle of her kitchen, straining her ears to hear, but the voices had fallen silent.  Had they detected movement through the kitchen window?  She stood contemplating what she should do.

Then it didn’t matter any more.  It was time to move to safety of her own bed and to the protection that the presence of Delaware Grandpa always affords.  She thought about the fact that it had been about eight hours since BL had vomited, and decided to take her to the bathroom and put her into her own bed.  With clandestine movements, intended to keep her out of the direct view of any windows and hushed, whispered instructions to BL, she got her from her chair, into the bathroom, and tucked into her bed.  She quietly sang her a bedtime prayer, and crept out of the room.  As she stepped out of the room, she heard voices again, and this time, she could make out words.  It felt like a cold hand had grabbed her stomach —

. . . until she realized that it was coming from the computer room..Her computer had not been shut down for the night and was picking up window after window of commercial drivel and playing it loudly to a dark, empty room.  She opened the door, shut the eight or so offending windows, and then shut the computer down.  And then she gathered her nightie tight against her and climbed the steps to the comfy bed where Delaware Grandpa lay snoring softly.  Slipping in beside him she gave a contented sigh and was almost instantly asleep.  There was a space of a mere two hours until she needed to be up again, but the quality of those two hours was unblemished by any interruption or disturbance.  Just pure blissful sleep.

She never did find out what set off the driveway monitor, (probably a cat on an nocturnal stroll) or activated the sensor light (probably a breeze in the branches that have grown into the line of perception).  But whatever it is that disturbs the slumber of Delaware Grammy, the truth is that she will always sleep better when Grandpa is there to defend and protect.  And so she continues to pursue quality hours of sleep that will refresh.  And if she can remember to check her blanket controls and keep watch over the contents of her bedside table, it stands to reason that peaceful slumber will be the norm and not the exception.

For this, her heart truly does give most grateful praise!

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Filed under Family living, home living, My Life, Stories from the Household of CM & CMW

Charis and Grammy Butcher a Chicken

The big trucks had pulled in and out of the lane at Shady Acres for most of Wednesday  night.  The big, fat, stinky chickens had been caught, put into the cages and hauled away to the processing plant.  Certain Man, short on sleep and long on labor, had finally come into the house and collapsed on his beloved chair and fell fast asleep.

The day was full with much coming and going, but somewhere along the line, Certain Man said, “The chicken catchers left one chicken — one big one!  Do you want to butcher it or shall I just put it into the composter?”

“I want to butcher it!” I said.  “I will probably not get to it, though, until tomorrow.”

“That’s fine,” he said.  “I will catch it and put it into my coop and you can get it whenever you want to do it.”

And so the day passed.  Thursday, I got a note from a cousin asking about some chicken soup for one of my neighbors, and I was reminded about that chicken, waiting for me.

“Sweetheart, did you catch that chicken for me?” I asked in one of my conversations with him during the day.

“Oh, no!” He said.  “I didn’t get around to it.”

“Do you think the fox got it?” I asked, reminiscent of the last chicken I had planned for a pot of soup.

“Shouldn’t have,” he said, “because it was in the chicken house and the doors were closed.”

Thursday nights are “Grammy Night” with Charis, and I decided that, unless her Daddy and Mommy objected, or unless she thought it was too gross, Charis and I were going to butcher a chicken for Grammy night.  I called her Mommy and told her my plan, and she and Jesse talked it over and decided to ask her what she wanted to do.  After school, when her Daddy was bringing her down he broached the subject.

“Grammy thought maybe she and you would butcher a chicken tonight,” he told her carefully, explaining some of the possibilities of the evening.  “Would you like that?”

“I wouldn’t like that,” she said, all excited. “I would love it!”  And so, it was decided.

She came into the house, all fired up to get busy, but I had something to get in to the post office before it closed, and she occupied her time with other things until finally, I was ready.

“I’m not so sure about this,” I said to her as we started out.  “Grandpa didn’t get this chicken caught, so I’m going to have to chase it down.  I’m getting a little old for this sort of thing.”

“Oh,” she said, confidently.  “You have me!  I’ll catch it for you!”

“I’ll be glad for your help, Charis,” I said, “but this is a big chicken.  It isn’t very easy to hold and it might hurt you.”

“Will it bite?”  She asked a bit anxiously.

“It probably won’t peck you, but it has spurs on the side of its legs that can scratch pretty hard.  I wouldn’t want you to get hurt.”

“Oh.” She said.

“Maybe you can chase it towards me and I can catch it,” I said.  “We’ll just see what works out.  Do you know which chicken house it is in?”  (She had been conversing with Aunt Lena who had helped Grandpa with some of the chores in the chicken houses that follow the movement of a flock.)

“Yup!” she said proudly.  “House three!”  So we headed out towards house three.  I was on the golf card and she was on her bike.  We stopped at the barn and the shed, also at the ante rooms of both house two and three, looking for the hook that makes catching a chicken a whole lot easier, but alas!  None was to be found.  I was wondering how in the world all of this was going to work out.  Chasing a chicken in a newly emptied house is precarious business for a woman of my age and weight and athletic ability.  The litter is uneven, with ruts and often wet places.  Chickens are crazy birds, with the ability to turn on a dime and run in the opposite direction.  They squawk and flutter and they are often the bearers of chicken poop on their feathers and always on their appendages that you are most like to grab when you are trying to catch them.  And without a hook?  I was most certainly in for some trouble.  But there was Bright Eyes beside me, chattering cheerfully and so very excited about our upcoming adventure.

We pulled up at the end of the chicken house and I opened the end doors.  It was dark and reeking of ammonia and the foul smell of a chicken house.  Charis nearly gagged at the heavy wave of barely breathable air.  We peered down the long expanse towards the other end, and in the darkness, somewhere near the middle door, I saw — well, something!  It didn’t really look like a chicken, but it was some sort of interruption in the emptiness, so I said to Charis, “We are going to go down to the middle door.  Grammy thinks she sees that chicken down there.”

We both got on the golf cart this time, as Charis decided to leave her bike and come back for it later.  Away we went, down to the main side door.  I opened it wide and stepped inside.  Charis stayed on the outside, undecided as to what she wanted to do.  She let the door swing shut.  I couldn’t see a thing.  I opened it back up.

“Charis, can you hold this door open so that I can see?”

She half-heartedly held it a bit, then stepped inside, then stepped back out, then held it open about a foot.  I still could barely see, but I could make out our intended victim.  He was a big old duber,  and when I stepped in his direction, he started getting away as fast as his little legs could carry him.

“Charis, can you come and help to chase him towards me?”  I was of the opinion that she could at least stand guard while I snuck up on him.  I caught on really fast that wasn’t a happening thing.

“Grammy, see, I can hold a little chicken,” she said from the safety of just outside the door, “but I don’t know how to hold a big one!”  She watched as I traversed the litter and got him over to the other side of the house.  Then, “Grammy, I’m gonna’ be down here,” she hollered as the door slammed shut and I heard no more.

I had a little more light at the far side of the house and it occurred to me that darkness might be in my favor in this situation, and so I eased myself slowly in the direction of the chicken.  He watched me with his beady eye.  I was almost ready to reach out and catch him by his wings when he suddenly took off towards the other end of the house.  About then I heard Charis at the end of the house where she had gone to retrieve her bike.

“Grammy, I’m down here, if you need me,” she hollered.  It was only 175 feet away.  I was pretty sure that she wasn’t going to be much help.

“Okay,” I yelled back.  “That’s good!”  At least she wouldn’t be getting hurt by a frantic rooster.

The things I had been concerned about were reality as I went over the ridges and rolls of the litter in the empty chicken house.  It was loose and I slipped and skittered around, trying to keep my balance.  Oops!  There was a very wet spot.  I hurriedly dislodged my foot from there, wishing with all my heart that I hadn’t worn my sandals for this job.  It already felt like there was at least a half a cup of litter between my sandal and my foot and now there was dampness. Oh, yuk! But I was intent on my prey, and he was stepping closer and closer to the wall.  I very slowly  narrowed the distance between us and suddenly made a grab!  Caught him squarely!  He squawked and protested mightily with his strong wings, but I quickly subdued him.  Charis, noting that he was safely in hand, disappeared again from the back doors of the chicken house and with amazing speed, met me at the side door as I exited with him.

I had procured some baler twine from the side wall of the barn when I had been in there looking for the hook, and I wrapped it around his legs while Charis made comments about his soon demise.  I put him into the back basket of the golf cart where my unreliable efforts to incapacitate him would not allow him to escape.  He looked questioningly at me through the wires.

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Charis fancies herself an animal whisperer.  She got up close to him and started to talk to him.

“Hey, little guy,” she crooned.  “Do you know you are going to get butchered?”  She didn’t seem sorry at all, and there was no pity or compassion or even regret in her voice.  She said something about it being her relative, but when I asked for clarification,  she changed the subject.

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“Come on, Charis-girlie.  We need to get this fellow up to the house and find a place to hang him.”

“Are you going to cut off his head?”

“I am, but I’m going to hang him first.  That’s the way my Daddy taught me.”

“Aren’t you going to lay him down and chop off his head?”  (There was entirely too much enthusiasm for carnage in this little person.  Maybe this wasn’t the best idea after all.)

“No, Charis, I’m going to hang it from the baler twine, then while it is hanging, I am going to go in and get some water started to scald him with.  While the water is heating, I will come back out and cut off his head.  But I don’t think you want to watch that part of it.”

“Yes, I do!”

“Well, we shall see.  But for right now, we need to find a place to hang it up.”  When we tore down the old shed, I lost my row of chicken hanging ropes.  I needed to fashion something to hang this chicken where it could bleed and flap about.  Charis and I checked out several possibilities while the chicken watched from his spot.

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I was feeling sorry for him about now, but my companion in crime was going full speed ahead.  “Why are we hanging him upside down, Grammy?  Why don’t you hang him on your onion rack?   Why are you doing that?  What are we going to do next?  Are you going to cut off his head with your knife?   Are you going to get your knife?  When are you going to get your knife?  Why do you need to get water?”  I answered questions and did my best to downplay any violence either intended or implied, but her thirst for gore was unabated.

I finally hooked the blue baler twine over the railing for the sliding door to the woodshed and secured the poor chicken into its restraint.  It was beyond much protest.

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But, wowser!  That fellow was really heavy.  Certain Man had said that he didn’t think I would have any trouble catching him because he was too fat to run too far, but for as heavy as he was, I thought he had run pretty fast!  Now, hanging him up, I wondered if my baler twine would hold him.  I didn’t think it would break, but it kept slipping down and the piece of wood that I had gotten to serve as an anchor wasn’t proving reliable.  I finally twisted and wrapped and wrapped again and decided that it would hold.  Charis wanted to touch him, but was worried.

“Do you think he will bite me, Grammy?”

“No, Charis.  I’m pretty sure he won’t.”

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And then we left him dangling in the evening sun, and we went into the house, started the water in a big kettle on a power burner, and sharpened my favorite butcher knife.  I tried to talk her into staying in the house with Auntie Beebs while I took the head off, but she insisted on accompanying me back outside.  The chicken was quiet.  I explained that hanging upside down like that made all the blood run to his head, and it kinda made him unconscious.  I told her that the knife was really, really sharp, and it only took a second to cut off his head.  I told her that her Mommy and Auntie Beebs and Auntie Rach and even the neighbor children and Grandpa didn’t watch while Grammy cut off a chicken’s head.  I told her that Grammy didn’t even watch while she cut it off.  She found the place on the neck that the knife needed to go and turned her head away so she wouldn’t have to watch.  I told her, again, that I didn’t want her to watch.  I told her that she had to stand back because the chicken would flop around up there on the rope and she could get blood on her.

“Okay, Grammy,” she said cheerfully.  “I’ll stand clear over her and I’ll do this.”  She backed about ten feet away and covered her face with her hands.  I checked to make sure she wasn’t peeking through her fingers.

“That’s good, Charis.  I think it’s better if you don’t watch.  I’ll tell you when you can look.”

“Okay, Grammy.”  Still cheerful, still not looking.

I grabbed the head of the big old rooster in my left hand.  He had a really thick neck.  I felt for an indention where I could put my knife, and put it there.  I turned my head while I made a quick, clean slash with my razor sharp knife, then dropped the head on to the grass.  And turned my head far enough to see two brown eyes peeking through conveniently spread fingers.

“Grammy!  I saw it!  I saw it!  I saw you cut it off!”  There didn’t appear to be any trauma connected with it, and I decided that I wasn’t going to make anything big of it.  In years gone by, many were the seven year old children who had to help with the family butchering, and seemed none the worse for it.

I gathered up my knife and said, “Come on, Girlie.  We need to go get the boiling water.”

“What are you going to do with the water?” She asked.

“We will put the chicken into it and scald it a little and then the feathers will come off.”  We procured the water, got it into a big pail, and came back out to where our now very dead chicken hung.  I dipped the chicken into the water and checked to see if the feathers were pluckable.  They were, and I hung it back up and started pulling feathers off in great quantities.  This seemed to bother Charis more than anything else.  She had donned latex gloves with the intent of helping, and I explained what she could do.

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She helped for a while and then, “Grammy, I didn’t know that I would have to do this.  I don’t like it.”

“It isn’t the most pleasant, but it is something that we need to do before we finish butchering it.  We have to get all the feathers off.  That’s first!”

“When are you going to take the guts out?”

“That will be next,” I told her.  “But first we need to get as many feathers as possible off.”

She manned the hose when I wanted the chicken rinsed off, and then we carried it over to the outside sink that her Grandpa had installed by the garden.  I scraped the skin and cut off the legs.  She watched in great interest as I made the first cut to loosen and remove the crop and windpipe.  She was unabashedly curious about every part that I removed.

“This windpipe feels like a tube!” she said as she fingered it.  And then, “Grammy is there any ‘chicken’ on the wings?”  I must have looked surprised, because she motioned towards the wings and asked again, “Is there any ‘chicken’ on the wings?”

I realized then that she meant “meat” and I said, “Oh, yes, there is.  You know, when Daddy goes to get hot wings, that’s what he’s eating.  Chicken wings!  Lots of people really like them.”

She looked thoughtful.  Then puzzled.  “Grammy,” she said, “do buffalo have wings?”

I had to laugh.  “No, Charis, buffalo do not have wings.  When the wings are called ‘buffalo wings’ it is talking about a certain spice that they put on chicken wings.  It’s still chicken wings, but it’s called by the name of the spices that are used.”

“Oh,” she said.

By then I had made a cut into the abdomen to draw out the innards from the bottom.  (I seldom cut up a chicken into pieces because I mostly use them to cook whole for soup or to stuff and roast whole or to soak in Tenderquick to put a different taste-twist on it.)  It was here that I expected some gagging or some serious revulsion and a hasty departure.  There was nothing of the kind.  The gizzard, the heart, the liver, the lungs, the intestines and even the gonads were duly noted, examined and discussed. And when all was cleaned up, a little girlie carried the heart, the liver and the gizzard to the house while Grammy carried the big old bird.  Inside, we put him into a big container and Charis added a cup of salt.  We filled the container with water until the chicken was covered, added ice, snapped on the lid and left it for the night.  I got a little pan and fresh cooked up the giblets.  Charis wasn’t much interested in partaking of any of them, so Grammy got the liver and Grandpa gladly speared the heart and gizzard for himself.

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Then her Daddy and Mommy came and fetched her home, and her Mommy reported that she slept almost as soon as her head hit the pillow.  Another “Grammy Night” was history.

After the chicken had spent the night in salt water, I took it out and put it into a big Ziplock bag to take to the fridge in the garage. On the way out the door, I stopped at the scales in the laundry room and plopped it on.  A full 8 pounds, all dressed.  He was big!

Then I cooked him up and today I made him into a big pot of chicken corn noodle soup with a generous portion of Delaware lima beans in it.  It made over two gallons.

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That’s enough to give away, share with friends and feed my family (who just might be getting tired of Chicken Corn Noodle Soup!) for a few days.

And that’s the news from Shady Acres, where Certain Man is always glad to let the butchering of chickens up to his wife, where none of The Offspringin’s are interested in learning this particular skill, and where Only Granddaughter has some stories to tell about her latest Grammy night.

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Filed under Family, Family living, Grandchildren, home living, My Life, Stories from the Household of CM & CMW, Uncategorized

Designs on the Resolve

It had been a long day.  And as it got later and later, I felt some dismay creep into my soul.  I took a quick appraisal and decided that there were still some things that needed to be done before I climbed the mountain to my sweet, sweet rest. Middle daughter was home, but working, Certain Man’s day had been physically and emotionally taxing and the two of them were out of sight for the duration of the evening it seemed. Certain Man was within shouting distance, but Middle Daughter was documenting a complicated Hospice admission that she had just visited, and that rendered her pretty much oblivious to the goings on down in the main floor.

I sighed a bit (since Certain Man was NOT within sighing distance) and looked at the kitchen that I had just straightened a few hours earlier.  Since then, I had made a coffee cake for Certain Man, fed my ladies, picked and brought in some garden tea, and the kitchen was in disarray.  Over 50 containers of strawberry jam sat on the counter, ready to be taken to the basement and the tea hadn’t been made, so there was a small, green mountain on the cupboard where there were some small beasties crawling around.  There was still laundry to be sorted for the morning washing, and I was really tired.

There is only one thing to do in these situations, and that is to get busy QUICKLY and do what needs to be done.  But I’ve found that, while the sighs don’t help, and neither does feeling sorry for myself, it does help to look for things to be happy about. So I got busy and sorted some laundry.  Certain Man had already fetched the laundry from our side of the upstairs and brought it down to the laundry room.  (He’s always done that for me, ever since our children were little, and it is a big help!)  Our Girl Audrey had also gotten hers and Blind Linda’s into a big basket and pulled it out to the laundry room, which was another gift to be counted.  And Middle Daughter would bring hers down later.  In case you’re wondering, my angst was not at any of them.  It was just that this needed to be done and there was no motivation on the part of the one who needed to do it!  Uh-huh!

So.  Since I felt like I was supposed to stop sighing and be cheerful about things, I turned on one of my favorite CD’s and sorted the laundry that was available.  That was easy enough.  I like sorting laundry.  Especially to music.  And then I looked at one of those yet unappropriated laundry baskets and decided to use it to carry the strawberry jam to the basement.  I would need to make a couple of trips, but not FIVE.  So I started some water for the tea and then loaded my first sturdy basket with thirty jars of jam and headed on down to unload it.  The freezer needed some rearranging, but it wasn’t too bad, so I smiled at it and resolved to be cheerful and did what needed doing and got my first layer of jam jars into the freezer and then went back for more.  The water was boiling and I had managed to strip the leaves off of enough tea for a gallon, so I got that steeping, and then took the second load of strawberry jam to the basement and got it arranged where it belonged.  Wow!  That was satisfying!

Upstairs again, I found that Certain Man was off his chair and winding his clocks.  He was working his way around the family room, living room and then into the sun room.  I stirred about in the kitchen, finishing the tea and getting it into the fridge.  Then Certain Man said something about thinking it was time to go to bed.  Which suited me just fine.  He came out into the kitchen to see how things were progressing, while I finished arranging things in the laundry room for the morning’s chore of laundry.  He was saying something to me, and I was replying in my cheerfullest, brightest voice while I stacked some wash baskets around the corner from him when–!

Ker-thunk!!!

Down came a heavy wash basket right on my toe!  Right on my big toe.  Right on my toe that I had done surgery on to remove an ingrown toenail two nights ago!  It hurt so much that I couldn’t see straight, much less talk in a cheerful, bright tone.  I kinda’ stopped everything in that split second and didn’t say anything out loud.  (And NO! I wasn’t saying any bad words!)  But in my swirling head where all the stars were milling about I was saying, “REALLY???  (Oh ouch!!!)  All this concerted effort to not feel sorry for myself, (Oh ouch!!!) to count the gifts and to be cheerful, and this happens to me???(Oh ouch!!!)”  And of course, I had to say to my Heavenly Father, with my face all scrunched up and water standing in my eyes, “I just don’t get it! (Oh ouch!!!)  And why is this hurting so much?  REALLY much!!!  (Oh ouch!!!)  What sort of unholy design is there upon my honorable resolve???)  Thankfully, I was around the corner from Certain Man and he was sleepy enough that he never noticed the abrupt (long) pause in my cheerful, bright conversation.

After awhile he said, “You ’bout ready to go up?”

I took a deep breath, and discovered I was not going to die of toe-itis-meyeomia and decided to go for it.  “Yup!”  I said in my cheerfullest brightest voice while my poor toe throbbed and I gave thanks he couldn’t see my face, “I’m just finished.  Let’s go get some sleep!”

And so, we did!

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The Littles

We’ve started the new Sunday School year in our congregation.  Even before Mama fell in May, I had planned to take the month of June off from teaching The Littles because of family vacation and a Yutzy reunion.  With the passing of my Sweet Mama, it was easy to just let other people take care of things and to soak up time with my peers in an adult class of women.  I needed them.  I needed the time.  And it was healing and good.

But I missed my littles.

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We had many good times in the crowded room beside the kitchen at Grace Fellowship Church’s gathering place, where our church body has been meeting since the fire damaged out building on the corner of Carpenter Bridge and Canterbury Roads.  This picture was take the night we got together to pack a goodie box for another child.  It was only taken seven months ago (Actually seven months ago today!) but I cannot believe how much they have grown and matured in these short months.  Katie is a self assured kindergartener, Judah is talking and paying much better attention and Charis is more aware of the needs of her classmates and is less jealous of her Grammy’s attention.  All three are more participant.

The summer had passed so quickly, and I thought often and prayed that God would show me whether I should offer to teach the class for the year coming up.  We have some talented young blood coming up in our church, and teaching is a blessing that is often overlooked in the maturation process.  I know that not everyone is cut out to teach, but I also know that choosing to teach has been one of the ways that God has used in my life to encourage growth, personal study and reliance on HIM for wisdom and courage and strength and even results.  The blessings that I have reaped have been beyond what I have deserved.  And quite honestly, though I really wanted to teach this particular class again, I also didn’t want to step in and  volunteer when God had laid it on someone else’s heart to teach the class.  He may have had blessings abundant in store for someone else, I reasoned, and it would be wrong for me to grasp someone else’s opportunity.  And so, even though I thought the end of summer was coming quickly, I decided to hold my peace and wait and see.

Then one of our superintendents, Davey Burkholder, approached me last Sunday and asked if I would be willing to teach that class of Littles.  I was suddenly unsure of what I should do.  I asked for some time to think about it.  He said that was fine, and in the reorganization part of our Sunday Morning service, it was announced that they were looking for a teacher for the class and they asked for volunteers.

“Whew!” I thought.  “That will be a defining event.  If someone volunteers, I will know that it isn’t for me this  year.”

But I kept mulling it over and over in my head.  I asked Certain Man what he thought  I should do.  He didn’t know.  And he didn’t feel strongly one way of the other from what he said.  I asked Middle Daughter whether she had any advice for me.

“Well, Mom,” she said carefully, “I think that wanting to teach the class is a pretty good indicator of what you should do.  It’s something you enjoy, and if you want to, then I think you should!  I’m taking the year off from the young women’s class, and if you need me, I can help you out.”  And that pretty much did it for me.

So I waited a few days, then called and got the curriculum and found myself back in one of my favorite spots yesterday morning.  The lesson that we used on Sunday was one from the last quarter that hadn’t been used, and it was called “A song for walking outdoors.”  One of the activities that I decided to do was to take the three on a walk outdoors looking for different things that they could pick up in nature to put in their ziploc plastic bags to take home with them.  A flower, a leaf, a seed pod, bark from a peeling tree, a stone, berries. Grace Fellowship Church is located in an industrial park, and is surrounded mostly by concrete and asphalt, but there were stones, a few trees, lots of weeds, and  a couple of patches of grass.  Around a corner and past a chain link fence divider there were some landscaping bushes around another building that I hoped would provide some berries for variety.

I checked the time and then said, “Let’s go over there and see what we can find.  There might be something different over there!”  The three of them were delighted and we headed out across the asphalt patch that separated the us from the other building.

“We have rules,” said Katie confidentially.  “We aren’t allowed to go anywhere on this pavement over here without a grown up.”

“That’s a good rule,” I told her.  “You should never go anywhere without a grown up unless your Daddy and Mommy say it is okay.  And this isn’t a good place for you to go unless there is a grown up with you.”

“Yup,” she said happily.  “But you are a grown up!”

I laughed.  “Yes,” I said, “I guess I am!”

“You are a very old grown up.” She said. (Emphasis Katie’s.)

And I laughed again.

Oh, my Katie-girl!  If you only knew how it is.  Just yesterday, my own girlies were five years old and learning family rules.  The day before that, it was me.  I only turned around twice before I got “very old.”  But you and your brother and my granddaughter, all growing so fast, remind of once was and I feel the eternity of the spirit in these old bones.  You cannot imagine how it is to feel five years old in your heart, but almost 62 in a body that will not run and jump and dance to the music of our incredible world.   But I promise you this.  There is coming a day when this body will dance to the music of Heaven.  And my spirit, eternal and free, will be as young as yours.

And what is inconceivable to me now will be an actuality.

My heart sings grateful praise.

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Cutting the “Grumpy” Out

Some of the most exciting times of our lives as farmers have centered around the bovines that Certain Man raises for meat.  As noted in the last post, there was considerable excitement when one such animal jumped the fence and gave all of us a run for our money.  In another post, I may tell the story of the night we had that supper when we invited everyone who helped that day to a mystery supper — but there has been another story brewing over very recent happenings at the very same farm involving the same sort of animal.

Certain Man has gotten little Jersey bulls over the last couple of years because they were not as hard on his pocketbook as the ones of the Holstein lineage.  These beautiful little critters are smaller than their big boned counterparts, and CM was loathe to deprive them of their manhood, contending that they would “convert better” if they were given some time before becoming steers.  This has always been a point of concern to his wife, especially since there were times in the past when the intent was to wait until the last possible minute — and then, somehow, it got “too late” and then the last couple months of the lives of our two year meat projects were spent “being careful” whenever Certain Man was in the same pen or even pasture as the bulls.

And this happened again this year.  Our yearling Jersey bulls had escaped the precautionary operation and had matured at an alarming rate.  One of the three was docile.  He was actually the smallest of the three, and he spent his time quietly going about his business, eating grass, not paying much attention to anything.  The second of the three was suspiciously bossy, occasionally acting like he wanted to start something, and he wasn’t to be trusted too far.  The third one, the biggest and oldest, was a basket of fury and hormones and aggression.

From the time he was a small calf, he wouldn’t take much from anyone.  Spunky, feisty and strong, he grew worse as the months passed.  By the time he was nine months old, he was the boss of everything, even the older steers that were about to go to market.  But this spring and summer, he became incorrigible.  He would bellow and snort at anything that took his attention that was out of the ordinary that he didn’t approve of.  He would bang his horns against the fence and against the side of the barn, tearing holes in the tin on the side of the entrance to his pen.  He would dig big holes in the pasture and loudly make known his displeasure with anything and anyone.

“You need to do something about that bull,” I would tell Certain Man.  “He’s going to hurt someone!”

“I know,” Certain Man would say.  “I really need to do something, but I am pretty sure it’s too late to band them.  I think I’m going to see if Billy or someone will bring his chute down here and give me a hand.  I think I’m going to need to get the vet.”

And then more time would go by, and someone would mention something about that “bull sounds really cross!”  or “What in the world is wrong with that one of your cows?  He makes a terrible fuss!” or (the thing that really bothered me) “Our kids won’t go out there to talk to your cows any more.  They’re scared of them!”

“Daniel,” I would say on occasion, “I’m really afraid that someone is going to get hurt.  Most of the kids who come know not to get into the pasture, but what if one of them does?  Or what if he gets out?”

“I know,” he would say, impatient at my nagging, but also not sure of what he should/could do.  “I really need to do something.”

And then, one day while he was in the pen, the bull started at him, pawing and snorting.  Certain Man had the handle of a pitchfork at the ready, and he walloped him a good one and caught him just below his horns.  It was a hefty blow, and the bull backed up, shook his head and came at him again.  This time Certain Man got a solid whack across his nose and brought him to his knees.  He got up and turned away.  As he rounded the corner leaving the barn, CM saw that his nose was bleeding. This particular incident had two effects upon Certain Man.  He began to make sure that his pitchfork handle was always handy and he began to actively plan a time in the very near future when he could take care of this militant aggressor’s basic motivation.  As for the subject at hand, he appeared to be watching for his chances, but was always very respectful when he caught sight of the pitchfork handle.

The bellowing and snorting and pawing and clanging of the horns against anything close at hand was not lost upon our observant granddaughter.  Ever one to be at her Grandpa’s side whenever possible, she was very concerned about the state of affairs in Grandpa’s barn.  On more than one occasion, she complained to me about that fussy bull.  “I don’t like how that cow sounds, Grammy,” she would say.  “He sounds so mad!”

Then came the day when Certain Man’s vet, Dr. Christina Dayton-Wall stopped by to check on the newest member of Certain Man’s herd, a lively, beautiful little jersey bull calf.  She checked him over thoroughly, gave him a vaccination and a shot and pronounced him healthy and strong.  All the while, the belligerent fellow bellowed his protests at the intrusion into his domain.  Certain Man seized the opportunity to tell her about his troubles with the mad bull and asked her opinion about the feasibility of “banding” or whether she thought the present state of affairs would demand a knife.

“No question,” was her cheerful reply.  “They will need an operation.  And I wouldn’t wait much longer if I were you.  There’s no way I’d get into the same pen with those fellows without some kind of protection.  They mean business!”

“Would you do it?” Asked Certain Man. “I have a friend who can bring his chute that he uses for hoof trimming and we could contain them.  I’d like to do all three.”

“I’d be delighted to do it!” said his pleasant young female vet.  (He later told me that he just can’t figure out why the females think this is such a fun thing.  “They’re all tickled to death to help out with this,” he said woefully.  “They just don’t have a clue!”)

And so they set the date for a Monday at three in the afternoon.  But that Monday was still almost two weeks away.  I worried about whether we would make it that long without someone getting hurt.  It seemed like things were getting worse and worse.  Our neighbor, Mr. Fox, who cuts our pasture for hay, parked his tractor in the adjourning shed one afternoon and created an episode of pawing holes in the side pasture, great bellowings and clattering of horns that went on until dark.

“You’ve got yourself a crazy animal there,” Mr. Fox told Certain Man.  “All I did was park my tractor in the shed and he stood at the gate and acted like he was gonna’ come through it.  He acted like he was crazy.  And they have big holes dug in that back pasture that I cut for hay.  One was two feet deep.  Something’s wrong with him!”

That was the night that Charis and I were walking out by the garden, checking on the produce and watching Grandpa doing his never ending work in the shed and barn and chicken houses.  We had also been drawn by the racket in the pasture that just wouldn’t stop.

“Grammy, that cow is really grumpy!” Said Charis, a little apprehensively.  “I don’t like how he sounds.”

“I know, Charis,” I said to her, “He really is grumpy!  Grammy doesn’t like it either!  But do you want to know a secret?”

She looked expectantly up into my face. “Yes!”

“In just a few days,” I told her conspiratorily, “Grandpa’s vet is going to come and Billy Bender is coming to help and they are going to cut that cow’s ‘grumpy’ out!  And then he won’t be so grumpy!”

She laughed.  “Really, Grammy???”

“For real, Charis!” I promised.  “That’s exactly what they are going to do!”

She did a little happy dance and then she went home with her Mama and I told Middle Daughter and Youngest Daughter all about my wonderful explanation.  I was rather proud of myself for being able to explain such a delicate situation to a six year old.  I was surprised when Middle Daughter looked at me aghast.

“Mom!” she exclaimed with consternation.  “That was a terrible thing to tell her!’

I was surprised.  “Why is that so terrible?”

“Because that is what her Mama always threatens her with when she is being grumpy!  She teases her and says, ‘You better get happy, or I’m gonna’ cut your grumpy out’ and Charis is probably really confused about this whole thing.”

I decided not to worry about it.  Some things can just be handled by parents who made the situation in the first place.  Except that a few nights later, walking with Charis, I noticed that she was thoughtful.  And then, there came the question.

“Grammy, what is the ‘grumpy’ that they are going to cut out?”

(Gulp!  I don’t consider this my territory of responsibility!)

(Oh, Lord, what do I say???) “Well, Charis,” I began slowly, but was suddenly struck by a stroke of Providential brilliance.  “The boy cows have a gland that makes them act grumpy as they get older.  The vet is going to come and take that gland out and then they won’t be so feisty and mean.”  And that satisfied our curious six year old granddaughter. Let her Mama answer any further questions.

The day finally came without any damage to the humans that traverse the lands at Shady Acres, and the good vet came to find that Certain Man had done his work (as usual) with careful attention to safety and without fault.  The three bulls were shut in their pens with only one way out — and that was into Billy Bender’s sturdy chute.  Once they were securely restrained, Dr. Dayton-Wall gave a little shot of Lidocaine that they hardly felt and before they knew what had happened, they were out the other end of the chute, steers!

They were strangely subdued that first hour or so.  They grazed a bit, but there was no pawing or bellowing.  As the evening wore on, they were more and more languid. Eventually they stopped trying to motor at all.  The biggest fellow — the most maniacal, lay out in the field like he was dead, just giving an occasional melancholy flip to his tail — lifting it up about six inches and sadly dropping it down again.  There was no noise.  At all.  The pasture around Shady Acres’ barn was almost spooky with the change in atmosphere.  But eventually, they realized that they weren’t going to die after all, and began to graze and gingerly walk about.

“Any bellowing or carrying on?” I asked Certain Man two mornings later.  Dr. Dayton-Walls had warned us to be careful for ten days to two weeks.

“It will take them that long to get rid of the ‘boy stuff,'” she said cheerfully.  “Don’t trust them until you know how they are going to be.  Those guys, particularly the big one, could really hurt someone!”

Certain Man grinned.  “Nope!” he said.  “Not a bit.  No pawing, no clanging against the fences and buildings, no digging, no nothing!  These guys are different animals!”

“Do they seem to be okay?” I asked, suddenly wondering if such an alteration could kill them.

“Fine as can be,” he told me.  “They just don’t act like they care about anything.  They are eating and grazing and just as calm as they can be.”

Several days later, I was outside when I heard a noise.  It was a gentle mooing sound that our steers would make when they thought it was time for Certain Man to feed them.  I had never heard this particular sound from these animals.  I stood in the side yard and thought about what a nice sound that occasional, controlled mooing was.  I thought about how nice it was to not worry that someone was going to get hurt on our farm by an angry animal.  I thought about the meat that we should have to share with our family and others when these steers would be full grown.  I thought about how “cutting a grumpy out” can be so pivotal in the atmosphere of a family farm.  And I thought — well, I could draw all sorts of analogies, here, but I think I won’t.

And that is the news from Shady Acres where Certain Man continues to protect and provide for us in so many ways.  Where whatever it was that happened on that Monday afternoon was final — there was no more aggression on the part of any of the newly altered bovine males.

And where Certain Man’s Wife gives very grateful praise for a job well done.

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Certain Man’s Wife Chases the Bull

This is an old story — as indicated by the date in the first sentence.  The reason I am posting it is that — I have another story about the bovine creatures at Shady Acres that I’ve been wanting to tell — and wanted to reference this story.  Alas and alack!  This story, though in my book, is so old, it never appeared in a blog posting.  Many of you have heard it.  Many of you have read it in my book.  But for those who haven’t — here is one of my favorite stories about life at Shady Acres and the neighborhood that we call home.  Sadly, two of the integral people who helped on this infamous day have gone to their reward.  I would just like to say that I deeply miss my dear friend, here referred to as “Good Wife Joan,” as well as our neighbor, Roland Willey, also a dear friend and trusty neighbor.

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Now it came to pass on the very first day of September, in the year of our Lord, 2004, that Certain Man’s wife was complacently enjoying a busy morning of preparing for State Inspection. On impulse, that very morning, she had hired a friend, Alma Miller, to help clean the kitchen cabinets, and CMW was working at cleaning the bedroom that was to be inspected.  It was a beautiful morning.  There was a good breeze, the sky was blue, and all was well.

CMW had other reasons to rejoice.

For several weeks,one of the male bovines that Certain Man kept for meat had been showing signs of aggression, indeed, had charged Certain Man on a number of occasions, with great bellows and kicking up of the dirt. Now this Meany Pest of a bull was only 18 months old.  Certain Man had not had him neutered because he had never had a problem with other bulls when he hadn’t,and he liked it that an un-neutered bull would convert better to meat.  Since he only keeps his meat animals for two years, it had never been a problem. Until now.

This turn of events had been enough disconcerting to Certain Man that he had called the Honorable Allen Beachy and had him come and “band” the two young calves that he was raising for the spring of 2006.  That done, he also called the butcher shop and arranged for the slaughter of Meany Pest.  Immediately.  With the traffic of people and children through the property of Certain Man, he didn’t want to take a risk.  It was too late to tackle the neutering business with Meany Pest.  Unfortunately,slaughter time was a few weeks out, so close watch had been kept until this very morning when Friend, Tommy Eliason had come with his cattle trailer and hauled him off.  CMW drew a great sigh of relief that was matched by her husband.

Now, at the same time that CM had procured Meany Pest, he had gotten another male calf which grew up along side of MP.  What Meany Pest had in aggression, Second Fellow, though also un-neutered,  made up for in friendliness and complacency.   When Tommy Eliason came to pick up MP, Second Fellow wanted to go, too, and tried to stick his head into the truck..  Certain Man and Tommy enjoyed a chuckle at the friendly fellow’s expense.  They had to chase him away.

When Certain Man came in from sending Meany Pest off, he said to CMW, “Now,I locked the other three in the front pasture. Second Fellow is pretty upset, and I don’t want him getting out.”

Certain Man has always maintained fences in proper order, and it is a rare day when any of his animals get out.  He learned the hard way that it is no fun to have creatures running around at night on busy roads.  So he has a high tensile fence that has electric on the inside of it, nearly all the way around his pasture.  He has a four foot high board fence that runs for a short distance between buildings, and he keeps all his fences in good repair.  He has a large back pasture,well fenced, where he allows the animals to run around and graze, but it is behind the chicken houses, and out of deference to CMW, who cannot see back there from the house, he decided to confine them on the smaller, front pasture,where they could get into the barn if they wanted to.

The morning was so pleasant that the windows were open in the house, and all morning, Second Fellow was protesting loudly.  Around eleven o’clock, he sounded louder and nearer, and Youngest Daughter of CM and CMW went to look what was going on.

“Oh, my goodness, MOM, there is a bull out.  A BIG Bull.  Oh, my, it is one of the big ones, Mom!!!”

Certain Man’s Wife went out the back door to the deck, and sure enough, there was Second Fellow, prancing across the yard.  Behold, her heart made a very fast trip to her shoes.  He looked so determined and “bullish.”   She looked around for ammunition, and laid her hands upon a Stanley broom that was conveniently leaning against the deck.  She hollered for Youngest Daughter to call her father, and took out across the yard as fast as her 50 year old body would allow her.  In the past,getting animals back into their pens has been challenging but not impossible,and she had a great deal of optimism as to how quickly she would conquer again.

But something had happened to Second Fellow.  He had caught wind of a heifer in heat who belonged to a neighbor.  He was determined to seek her out.  By this time, Friend Alma had seen the predicament, and had come to join the fray. CMW sent Youngest Daughter out to the cow pen to open the gate.  Youngest Daughter thoughtfully locked the two younger (now) steers in the barn, and opened the large gate wide to the front pasture.  Friend Alma’s young son stood on the deck and yelled.

Second Fellow saw two determined humans coming across the yard, and was suddenly urged to run in the direction of the road.  He lowered his head and charged blindly toward the poorly armed females who were supposed to be directing him in the way that he should go.  Whop! Went the broom, scarcely making contact, but diverting him slightly. Friend Alma and CMW ran to and fro, trying to herd obstinate Second Fellow towards the barn.  Every time they achieved a few yards, down would go the head, and with a bellow, back the bull would charge.  CMW noticed that he was not kicking up any dirt with his bellow, but it did not comfort her heart very much.  It occurred to her that there were many guardian angels standing between the bull and the two inadequately armed females, for time and time again, he would head for them, only to turn aside in the nick of time.  Unfortunately, it was pretty obvious who was winning the battle of the wills despite angelic protection.

After perhaps five or six time of attempting to head him off at the road, kindly neighbor, Eddie,noticed that there was considerable difficulty going on in the yard across the road.  He and neighbor Steve left their task of putting siding on the house and came to help.  One of them had a stick, and CMW had her faithful Stanley broom, but otherwise the crew was unarmed.

Said CMW, “I surely do wish Daniel would get here!”

Said Kindly Neighbor Eddie, “What would he do?  Does he have a secret?”

“Not that I know of,” said CMW heatedly, “but it would be HIS problem!”

About then, Kindly Neighbor Eddie’s wife,Joan, appeared to lend her strong arm, and a shiny  red convertible also stopped.  Friend Bethany had seen the dilemma and decided to help, too.  CMW thought ruefully that RED was not especially the color that she had in mind for the present situation, but there was no doubt that help was needed, so she welcomed the extra body.  By now there were fully seven people in hot pursuit of seemingly demented bull.

They managed to chase Second Fellow up the chicken house lane for a short distance, when he suddenly caught on to the idea that it was not the right direction.  He turned and lowered his horns and headed back out the drive.  Sticks and brooms and bodies had no effect upon him whatsoever, and the posse scattered before him in grave disarray.  He headed out towards the road again, and then turned and trotted along the edge of the fenced woods where he was sure that his intended was hiding.  He bellowed and stopped and sniffed and bellowed and trotted.  Of course, all the traffic on the busy road beside CM’s farm were beginning to take note, and cars were going by slowly while gawking at the motley crew, and some were pulling off to see if there was something they could do.  Chicken trucks and work vans, jalopies and mini vans, town cars and meter readers got all jammed up on the road.  CMW’s face was as red as a turkey gobbler, and not just from exertion.  WHY DIDN’T CERTAIN MAN COME HOME???

Then the owner of the heifer, Neighbor Willey, came forth from his house down the road.  He had probably heard rather than seen the hubbub, guessed what the problem was, and secured offending female far from the site of the battle.  He picked up a sturdy stick and came to help, too.

With his approach, Second Fellow decided to turn around and head back up the fence line towards Shady Acres.  With great difficulty and many yells and whops with the weapons, the Bull was directed towards the back pasture.  CM had been called again, and he informed frantic Youngest Daughter that he was heading for home (in earnest with his state truck and his flashers going). CMW was pretty sure that they would be getting the bull in right before he got there, and that is exactly what happened.  Just before he sped in the lane, Neighbors Eddie and Steve managed to drive him into the back pasture and hook up the electric fence.

Things started to calm down a little then.  CMW was panting and tired, and the neighbors were saying friendly things about how “That’s what neighbors are for…” and CM was going back to bring Second Fellow to the front pasture and secure him there.  CMW was heading out towards the barn when she saw Second Fellow come around the edge of the barn at a gallop.  At this inopportune time, she remembered that she did not know how he had escaped in the first place.  It suddenly occurred to her that the two little ones had been inside the fence the entire time he was out.  It didn’t make sense.  A great feeling of dread came over her as she saw him make a straight bee-line for the four foot wooden fence.  Was there a break in it somewhere?  She watched in disbelief as Second Fellow trotted up to the fence and in one smooth motion was OVER it!  If it hadn’t been so terrible, it would have been beautiful. A perfect Olympic jump.

Believe me, there was some shrieking going on then! Certain Man jumped in his truck and headed out the chicken house lane,trying to head him off.  If it had been his own pick up instead of his work truck, he said that he would have run into the critter, but since he needed to be careful with the state’s property, he was unable to stop him.  Once again, out on the road,traffic stopped, and neighbors running and helping.  CMW was inclined to go inside and pretend that she wasn’t home,but she ran and herded and whopped with her faithful Stanley broom until the entire group had successfully herded him to the entrance to the pasture.

Certain Man had gotten out his blacksnake whip and was making good use of it.  Just before going through the gate, Second Fellow made a mighty dash for freedom.  Certain Man snapped him soundly with the blacksnake whip, but lost his footing and fell into a very green, very stinky body of water that was left over from the latest rain.  His efforts to divert the bull were effective, though, and while he picked himself out of the muck, the neighbors closed in and Second Fellow went back into the pasture.

CMW and Friend Alma and Neighbor Willey, and Neighbor Eddie and his Good Wife Joan, took up positions along the board fence.  Good Wife Joan held the black snake whip, CM held the faithful Stanley broom and the guys stood there and looked MENACING. Youngest Daughter went into barn and called cheerfully to Second Fellow with promises of FEED.  Certain Man gave her instructions from the pasture. Second Fellow was drawn by the cheery voice.  He was tired from so much running.  He ambled over and looked in the door.  He went in a few feet.  She continued to coax and call him from behind the feed bunker.  Certain Man sidled over, out of sight, while she wove her deceptive web.  Finally, Second Fellow was far enough in to shut the metal gate behind him.  Oh,NO!  It was hooked to the wall.  Second Fellow acted like he was going to go out again.  Youngest daughter took advantage of the situation to scramble into the pen and unhook the gate so it could swing free, then went back to her wheedling, cajoling call.  Again, the pull was strong, and Second Fellow turned back towards the feed bunk.

Certain Man, muddy and stinky looked at the great mud hole between him and the gate and did not waver a single moment.  Good work shoes and all, he plowed through the mud that was deeper than his shoes and grabbed the gate.  Second Fellow made one final dash for freedom,but CM hollered mightily.  When Second Fellow paused, CM clanged the gate shut, and this time the offending animal wasfully trapped.  Metal bars and chains and cement would need to be moved for him to escape this time.

“Whew!” said everyone.

“That was fun,” said Good Wife Joan.  “Quite a diversion from a boring afternoon.”

Neighbor Eddie and Neighbor Willey did not say much.  CMW noticed that they were looking positively cheerful, though.

“I’m glad I was here!” said Friend Alma.  “I’ve had lots of experience chasing animals when I was a girl!”

“You aren’t half as glad as I am,” said CMW.  “What would I have ever done without help?”

“That’s what neighbors are for…” said Good Wife Joan, again.

“Well,” said CMW, “I am quite certain of one thing.  There is going to be a steak dinner one of these days and everyone who helped is going to be invited!”

That was well received, and the neighbors went back to their jobs and CMW went back into the house to cool off and rest her weary bones. CM, after making double sure of everything in the barn, came back into the house to change his clothes and shoes and to go back to work.  He would have to call this time at home his lunch hour for the day, and CMW felt sorry for him.  But the bull was in, he was cleaned up, and he could get into his air conditioned truck and leave.  That didn’t sound like too bad a deal to CMW.  She needed to keep on getting ready for the coming inspections.  But first, she needed to write a story.

So, that is the news from Shady Acres, where Certain Man is working on a new electric fence that will compliment a particular board fence, Certain Man’s Wife’s face still feels hot and her knees feel weak, and Youngest Daughter is the only one of the children who was witness to the events of this momentous day.

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Filed under Family living, Stories from the Household of CM & CMW