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Saturday, August 31, 2013



Just look at that face and it's easy to see that Princess Peggy is not the great gray hunter she tried to be this morning. As she futilely stalked a poor juvenile mouse around the dining room she looked as confused and frightened as the little rodent.   It scurried to the bookshelves where I picked up the little fellow and released him outside.  Meanwhile Peggy ran from corner to corner meowing and wondering where her new playmate had vanished.

If she were not such a princess, one who hates all of the other felines in residence she might have gained some hunting prowess from Sissy, the serial killer.  But, both I and the transient mice are happy that Peggy Sue is as inept as she is. 

Live and let live.  Too bad our government doesn't share that philosophy.


10:38 am edt          Comments

Friday, August 23, 2013



The dead wild cherry tree in the lower pasture wasn't very big, but it was tall.  T. and I have been cutting and splitting firewood, so it only seemed logical to take advantage of this on site kindling since it looked like dropping the tree in the pasture would be a piece of cake.  Not so.  The triple-trunk tree was only about a foot from the high tensile fence and 2/3 of it leaned in that direction.  It wasn't likely to fall into the pasture, but rather smash the fence and take down a lot of other trees in domino fashion if/when it fell. 'Not worth the risk! I called my arborist friend Dick Drake for advice. 

"Oh, no problem.  I'll just come over and take it down for you," he said.  After lassoing a high limb he hooked the long rope to the tractor.  My job was to put pressure on the rope while he cut through the trunk.  As per his instructions I gunned the tractor after the final cut.  Dick ran and jumped on the back fender for extra traction and in a heartbeat the big tree crashed to the ground.  The bad asses wasted no time inspecting the job as soon as the gate was opened.

This was the third tree lost this summer.  One peach tree was diagnosed with a terminal disease, so upon the advice of an expert it was immediately cut down.  The other one so loaded with fruit that it broke in half was also beyond rehabilitation, so it too is gone. 

I might be sad, but when a local orchard sells peck baskets of beautiful peaches for $7.00 I can't bemoan my lost trees for long.  Peach cobbler, anyone?


2:44 pm edt          Comments

Friday, August 16, 2013



At least I think that's what my name is.  The woman who feeds me and ‘trains' me also (usually) calls me Bad Girl or No-Tess, so I'm not really sure just what my name is.

I'm trying to fit in here and for a while I thought I was going to establish myself as the Alpha dog, but Julie has beaten the crap out of me, so I no longer bully her.  She seemed like an easy target with her funny crossed eyes, but I've got to hand it to her, she's a pit bull in disguise.  Yikes!  Ernie doesn't seem to care much about anything.  He plays with me if I insist upon it. He likes to chase the tractor which is something I don't understand.

Since it seems I can't be the big shot here I spend time ‘shopping' and have discovered that the kitchen counter is full of interesting things that can be turned into toys.  This is when my owner (the ‘trainer,' ha ha...) calls me Bad Girl instead of Tess.

She took me to the vet to be spayed.  He stitched me up and sent me home with orders to have the stitches removed in two weeks.  I foolishly allowed the ‘trainer' to remove one of my stitches, but after that I nixed any further messing with my belly, so she took me back to the vet.  I gave those folks a real run for their money!

I screamed as if they were vivisectionists because I knew it would get a lot of attention.  Then I bit one of the three vet techs who were trying to restrain me.  They actually had the nerve to put a muzzle on me!  I couldn't believe it!  That's when the ‘trainer' intervened, so I shot a blast of anal glands all over her shirt (I'm getting really good at this.) and they had to spray her with Citrus Spray to mask the stink until we got home.  Ha ha.  I got a lot of attention when we went through the reception room. People said I was cute.

So, when I'm not getting into some kind of trouble I spend my time snoozing on the sofa ("Get down from there, Bad Girl!") or surveying my estate and keeping the bad asses in line.  I'm pretty busy, but I'll let you know if anything interesting happens.  

Yours truly, Tess (I think...)


5:40 pm edt          Comments

Sunday, August 11, 2013



This week I said goodbye to yet another beloved family member.  Little Ivy's rapid decline from a brain tumor led to the inevitable and dreaded final trip to the vet, so her passing was not unexpected.  Even so, bidding farewell to the sweet little cat that just arrived here uninvited more than a decade ago and announced that she would be staying was very sad.

Everyone loved Little Ivy, so named because of her petite stature and kitten-like face.  She even won over those who professed they weren't "cat people."  Against Ted's protests Ivy slept snugged in the curve of his big neck, but when he was gone she made her own spot on what had been his dog bed.  Ivy is buried next to Walter. She will be missed by many.

6:14 pm edt          Comments

Monday, August 5, 2013



In response to reader inquiries wondering why there have been no blog posts for several weeks I feel compelled to explain that my formerly-idyllic small country life has been beset with a seemingly-endless series of minor catastrophes which have left me feeling overwhelmed.  But I like to think these ‘events' have exhausted themselves and that life here is slowly returning to its previous utopian state. 

On the bright side I'm happy to report that bizarre weather conditions this year have somehow spawned a bumper crop of fruit.  I was ecstatic when one of the trees that had never produced one edible peach exploded this spring with gorgeous fruit. I watched the limbs grow heavy with peaches that the tag proclaimed were Red Haven and ignored advice from experts who cautioned that I should knock half of the fruit off.  I just couldn't do it! 

Instead I propped up the limbs, then yesterday I watched as the beautiful heavily-laden tree broke in half.  It's still loaded with almost-ripe peaches that are NOT Red Havens, but a luscious white variety.  Sadly, I learned a hard lesson about orchard husbandry and next year I'll listen to the experts.

Having been raised with the mantra ‘waste not, want not' I am a very frugal person.  Waste disgusts me, so the discovery of a dumpster loaded with building materials destined for the landfill was like winning the lottery.  My friend Lynn and I have since become regular ‘shoppers.'   Thankfully Lynn is strong as a bull, so with her strength and my feeble help we first managed to rescue a set of stairs that fit perfectly, replacing the steps to my cellar workshop.  That windfall launched our dumpster diving frenzy.

The little barn that houses the bad asses, the chickens and the odd homeless cat who decides to become a resident is a cobbled-together affair. It was here when I bought the place and repairs seem endless and too often hopeless. 

Chickens, being inherently messy will dirty whatever space is allocated to them be it six feet or sixty feet.  Half of the coop floor had been replaced last year and was sound, but the other half was rotted and riddled with mouse holes, so  it seemed prudent to divide the coop in half and fix the bad flooring.  Imagine our delight when we discovered tongue and groove pecan flooring  in the dumpster!  It must have previously been installed in a very large room, so there was more than enough to replace the funky coop floor.  We filled the truck bed with the luxurious boards asking ourselves, "Just how hard could it be to lay flooring?"  We'd both seen the guys on This Old House and they made the job look easy.  We would divide the coop in half and create a new ‘room.'  A trip to the Habitat Restore netted a very nice bi-fold door complete with hardware for a mere $3.00 which T. installed because that job looked more complicated than we could handle, even with Julie's help.


But putting down such nice flooring in the chicken crap encrusted space would be foolish, so after scraping, scrubbing and mixing an assortment of paints found in the basement the place got fresh pale yellow facelift.  It smelled and looked clean and we were ready to lay boards.  The job was easier than either of us could have anticipated.  Although the new ‘room' remains empty, I'm sure it will come in handy for something eventually.  For now we just open the newly-painted door and admire our handiwork. Even Tess is impressed!


What else might be available for repurposing, we wondered.  Windows!  Big ones, small ones,' just about any size you could imagine, all destined for the landfill!  Unthinkable!  I could hear my mother, "...waste not, want not...."  We loaded the truck.

Lynn got enough to replace all of her garage windows and enough for the deluxe lodging her husband is building for a neighborhood feral cat colony.  The homeless cat shelter will have a nice linoleum floor, carpeted perches and beds all made from brand new unused scrap materials.  While the colors may leave something to be desired homeless cats can't be picky.  They will be snug and grateful in their new digs this winter.

We didn't stop there.  Before long we had hauled home enough double-glazed windows to replace five on the east side of my barn (installation postponed), two in the loft and a leaky window in the garden shed.  Unlike the old shed window, the newly-installed pair of mullioned windows open for ventilation.   I'm delighted and like the chicken coop room, Tom and Rattycat's garden shed condo is almost nice enough for human habitation.  A Bed & Breakfast, perhaps?  (Photo taken before trim was put on...)


Salvaged pieces of plywood have nearly completed a subfloor in the barn feed room and since we have enough pecan flooring left over from the coop project it might as well spruce up that room too.  I've already painted it.

We now visit our favorite home improvement place weekly. Approaching the big green dumpster sets our hearts racing!  What might be lurking in its bowels?  ‘Sometimes nothing worth hauling home, but sometimes wonderful items we just didn't know we needed.  We have become Waste Not, Want Not Construction, Inc. specializing in almost-free remodeling and building upgrades.  Perfection is not guaranteed right now, but possiblilities are endless and we all know that practice makes perfect.

So, this is just a teensy bit of what's going on in my small country life these days.

2:43 pm edt          Comments

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