Sunday, July 29, 2012

WHY?


Why do people hate snakes so much?  When I was a kid, my brother and I would go looking for them. Of course, we knew the ones with the wedge shape heads and eyes with pupils that went upwards were the "bad" snakes, but we went anyway knowing the dangers. I love the feel of snakeskin on a live snake. It is NOT slimy - it is SILKY. The beauty of each scale is also marvelous, as is the entire coloring and patterning. Their little pink, red or black forked tongues slipping in and out of their mouths are so delicate. Have you ever examined a snake as closely? I'll bet not. 

When my kids were in their summertime exploration mindset, I gave them each a plastic bucket and told them to hunt for snakes and catch a couple and to pick them up, with a stick if they were afraid to touch them, and put them in their pails and bring them to me to see. Once in a while, they would be lucky, as I told them just where to look and what to look for before picking them up. Now, I guess I was actually giving them a challenge, but then, in my mind, I was just sending them out on a nature hunting adventure.

None of us will ever forget the time one of the snake finders gave their youngest sister a small garter snake in her playpen. She was about 1 1/2 years old.  That child picked it up, and then BIT into it! Right in the middle! She made a face and then looked to see what she had done. It was a totally unexpected event and everyone who was watching her "play" with her first snake was shocked. We never killed our catches and "look and release" was the  result after thorough inspection.

One time, as an adult, I was in a field picking wildflowers when I looked down and saw that my feet were placed right next to a coiled up snake. I looked closely and determined it to be of the poisonous variety and stood very still while calling my husband to get his gun and come and shoot it. He did. To our dismay and great horror, we had killed a plain ol'e watersnake with the body markings of a copperhead, and her encapsulated babies had been blown out, still in their sacs and wiggling, all around us. There were many. How ashamed we were. The lake watersnakes are nonvenomous and are important to our environment. 

Why do people hate snakes? They are awesome creatures in countless ways. I think many people are uninformed of so much nature gives us.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Farm Capers


All day today there has been a buzzing in my mind. I've determined that is a bombardment of a swarm of memories that was stirred up yesterday shortly after writing about my dad's occupation in the 40's. 
Oh, incidentally, have you ever stuffed a gob of honeybee comb in your mouth and sucked out the honey... then chomped the leftover crumbs into a wad of waxy chewing stuff? I have.


Two particular episodes (true tales) include my brother who was three years younger than I and joined my explorations around the farm when dad was gathering his milk samples in the cow barn. I especially remember standing in front of a large cage that was raised up on "stilts" high from the ground containing many turkeys. We would both go right up to the cage, flap our "wings" and shout, "Gobble! Gobble! Gobble!" at them. It was a pure lesson of action and reaction. The whole flock replied "Gobble! Gobble! GOBBLE" right back at us. Someone came through the barnyard to see what the commotion was and we were chewed out to quit stirring the flock.  The other memory is one that I'm able to put down here because I'm lucky. Innocent, but alive. We played hide and seek throughout the barns and it was great fun because there were so many neat places to hide. I once got my hide tanned by dad for hiding in the silo! I loved the smell of silage fermenting and almost stayed too long. If it weren't for the farmer entering from the main floor of the barn (that's how I got in) to poke a pitchfork back where it was kept, he wouldn't have seen me there. My brother couldn't find me and gave up just before I was discovered. A lesson about silo gasses was sternly given to both of to NEVER go into a silo.

Many farms had horses, both riding and working. The horse barns were where I usually could be found when it was time to leave. One farm in particular was my favorite because of the horses and I always made a beeline to see them first with my package of "Charm" hard candy to pass out to each one. The groom there was a bent over older Scottish man. He made me feel welcome as I pummeled him with questions regarding the horses, tack, tools, and everything I found there. During one visit, no one was around and there was a large and very handsome new horse in the large end stall. He let me pet his nose and took my candy delicately. I boldly opened the stall latch, entered, and sat down in a corner under the corner feed tub. I was reaching up and feeding hay to him by hand when "Scottie" returned. He noticed the stall not latched and looked in and saw me. His gasp and stunned expression immediately conveyed to me that I should not have been in there! Later, after his impending heart attack faded away, he sat me down on a trunk in the hallway and strongly reprimanded me, "Missy, don't ever go into a stall again without me giving you permission." Then he went on to explain that the horse in the stall I had entered was a new stud horse and was vicious in nature. He was known to kick and bite! Only the breeding handlers were allowed to work with him. WHAT!! He was a pussycat with me, never exhibited any form of a threat and I knew enough horse body language to feel safe with him. I've always wondered about that episode. Of course I was only a little girl of about 10 at the time so didn't exhibit any danger to him either, did I?  "Scotty" never told my dad so I was "home-free" on that caper.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

With a Moo Moo here, a Moo Moo there....


Well, I said I was a "country girl" and that I am, but I never actually lived on a farm when I write about my younger days. 

My dad was a cow tester; AKA milk tester. That means that he worked for the USDA through Rutgers University in NJ, driving all up and down the state, going to every farm that sold milk, testing the milk by taking samples. He (I think) was the only tester of two who did this back in the 40's for the entire state. 

Many times I went with him to the nearby ones. Many other times he was away overnight due to their distance from our home. Several farms tested three times a day and he would take a "sample" from each cow at each milking time. When he stayed at the farm overnight he was provided with all meals and a place to sleep.

I'd like to now try to explain to you just what he did as I reminisce back to those days. The memories are very vivid, but I can't guarantee if they are accurate. That's what happens as time passes. 

Dad had "barn clothes." He would either take these or wear them to the farms. When he returned home, they had to be hung in our cellarway due to having the "barn smell." That was one of my mother's rules. I do remember, however, that at least one of the farms provided pure white coveralls and a hat to be worn in their barn! Boots were mandatory. Boots were a choice in most cases, anyway, because of the muddy yards, snowy driveways, and barn interiors. 

Back to what he actually did. Remember that I'm trying to describe his tools and procedures as best as I can. Dad was a very jovial person, so greetings and handshakes were the first to happen. Why? Well, a milk tester tested each cow's milk once a month. The tests were to document butterfat content. A high producing cow and her female calves were more valuable due to the production record and its dam's and genetic line. Somewhere in the mix, the bulls were considered regarding milk production. I never did know if his tests were also for other reasons, but the farm managers and owners wanted to keep him in their good graces so they could continue with having quality records of those tests. I seem to remember it was called production testing.

Recording data: Dad had sheets of paper with blank cow body outlines and a blank cow head and drew in each cow's markings. The paper also contained information such as their names, ear tag numbers, and time of milking and amount of milk produced at the specific milking. He did this all by hand written work, mostly at home on the old desk in the sun parlor.

In those days most milking was done by hand, but the wealthier farms and the more progressive ones started using surgers. Each pail of milk from each cow was hung on his scale, which was certified, and he wrote down the weights. 


Back home he set up and maintained equipment to process the samples he collected. This included his shiny brass-front spring scale, centrifuge, acid, caliper bottles and pipettes, calipers, many little bottles and a carrier for them, and his record books. 


This is how the testing is actually described: "The process of testing milk begins with the introduction of a small quantity of amyl alcohol into a glass test bottle. To this liquid was added a small sample of milk through a pipette, delivered into the glass bottle. Strong sulphuric acid was then added, with a wooden cork placed over the neck of the bottle to achieve  firm seal. The contents were then shaken vigorously until it became a hot solution of a light brown color. Before placing the glass bottle in the centrifugal machine, a small quantity of diluted sulphuric acid was added. The machine was then worked (in the early days with a hand crank) for about half a minute or until all the contents appeared as a clear yellow oil. The quantity of remaining contents were then read from a scale present on the side of the glass testing bottle." 



YES! that is exactly what my pop did! He later put the bottles in his bottle carrier, took it out to our driveway, and shook it all out over the grass that grew down the middle. OH!

His sample bottle carrier was one he probably made with a sheet of copper and solder with a wire carry handle. I remember the pretty greenish solder marks. 

Well, I just have relived some of my trips to the farms with "Pop." More later..............I'll have to tell you what I did while he was collecting those test samples!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Farming on my Fanny

I have been so lucky to find a web blogger who has taken me back on the farm! She writes such interesting stories and takes wonderful photos! I recommend her page to be read thoroughly by all - who like me - love this way of life!


http://chickensintheroad.com/about-me/

or.....follow this link:  http://chickensintheroad.com/

(Put your boots on!)

Egg Drop



This is posted from the same blog and there's more to the story!

http://chickensintheroad.com/

That's What I Call Fresh



This is from a blog I love! http://chickensintheroad.com/

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Me Time


Today I went to a mall with two longtime girlfriends. I don't usually go to malls. These ladies are both under 62 years of age and are world-savy. I needed a pedicure and all of us decided to have one. They go on a regular basis. I go only three times a year, usually, when my friend at our SC place goes and takes me along.  Now I haven't been since the end of March. I had "planned" to go at the end of June, but then shoulder and arm breakage prevented me from even thinking about toenails. Mistake! 

The nice fellow who worked on my old feet did a really nice job. They were a mess. I absolutely could NOT even clip them myself so he he had a real challenge. When I walked out of the facility I felt so great.  I have to "save up" to have this procedure performed. It is a luxury event for me. The fellow even put my socks and sneakers back on! 

Applebees was the next stop for a wonderful lunch. I never eat out. The morning was a complete success, thanks to two very caring friends. After reaching home I was able to take a two hour nap!

I cannot get by without the support of friends, be it via personal contact or the internet. It is a wonderful thing to have people in your life who REALLY care for and about your comfort and welfare.

Thanks! Nancy and Laura! 

Photo taken 1 week after stubbing toe.

 
Photo taken June, 2012, 3 weeks after shoulder/arm accident.



Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Before Air Conditioning

This story was written by my mother. She was born in 1914. 


A Porch To Remember

I'll never forget the house where I grew up, and the wonderful summer hours my father and mother spent with me on the wide porch that surrounded two sides of our white four-room bungalow.

 At first it was only a summer cottage. It was purchased by my parents, in the early 1900's from the nearby railroad company which had used it for their workmen while building what was later to be known as "The Cut Off."  The two-track, wide, dirt and rock fill had taken many years to build, but the savings in miles from New York City to points north and west, mainly to transport anthracite coal, were well worth the huge expenditure and effort.


In later years, with the addition of a basement, central heating, and two more rooms, the cottage became a year-around home. It still stands today, modernized by new owners, but one thing has remained untouched—the porch.

The porch made a wonderful sleeping room on hot humid nights. We all had cots where we slept each night from early summer to early fall. Sometimes the bedding became a little damp, but the hot sun in the daytime soon took care of our reluctance to crawl under the covers again. Lying there at night, we listened to the crickets, the katydids, little screech owls and an occasional marauding cat or barking dog.

The mornings were begun by a chorus of crowing roosters, both near and far, joined always by the birds; song sparrows, robins, meadowlarks, orioles, and yes, even bluebirds. Wrens added to the chorus and always built their nests in the rambler rose bushes that bordered the porch, and it never ceased to amaze us how much noise could come from such a tiny bit of life. And the hummingbirds!  Of course they didn't sing in the morning, but if one watched carefully, they could be seen flitting fro their tiny nest in the honeysuckle vine to each ivory-hued blossom. The little jewel-like bodies then took off on invisible wings to the nectar-laden trumpet vine with its bright orange flowers waiting to accept the long bills thrust deeply to gain the life-sustaining fluid.

The view from one side of the porch, since it faced the east, was often spectacular in the early morning. Each day, each week, each month and season had its own special splendor. As the house sat upon a fairly high hill, one could see just about full circle. The mountains were the farthest away, preceded by fields and a few houses scattered among the fence-lined checkerboard hills in the mid-distance. The little country town in the valley below was mostly hidden by large trees along the few small streets, but one knew it was there because the gray slate-covered church spire could be seen dominating the partially visible patches of the roofs of the few scattered homes.

Toward the north, a huge oak tree hid most of the nearby view, but it was the source of many hours of pleasure because it supported a swing which hung from its lowest sturdy branch. I recall how hard I tried to swing to get just high enough to touch the leaves of the big branch. I don't think I ever quite made it, but the effort occupied much of a long summer afternoon. A horseshoe shaped stone fireplace was built in the shade of the friendly ancient tree. A picnic table and cedar-poled shelter faced the fireplace and many family picnics were enjoyed in this long remembered spot of quiet majesty.

To the south, the view from the porch consisted mainly of the railroad embankment and a few farms, accented here and there by tall red or gray silos. That may not sound especially lovely, but have you ever seen a lighted passenger train streak along in the evening darkness? Many was the night we sat on the porch just waiting to catch a glimpse of the "Limited" as it sped on its way toward the city. On a holiday there would be more than one section, often two, and sometimes even three, each group of ten or twelve passenger cars a diamond necklace displayed fleetingly against the black velvet curtain of night.

On nights when there was a full moon, it was something really special to watch as it rose from behind the mountain. We sat on the porch for hours and watched it grow from just a suggestion of brightness in the sky to a full disk of purest silver. If anyone had told us then that one day human beings would walk upon the surface of that disk, we would have laughed derisively and accused them of being dreamers or even worse.

At any time of the day or night, I think that the most impressive sight we looked forward to was that of a thunderstorm! Yes, looked forward to, because we had the most wonderful view of the whole spectacle from start to finish. I firmly believe this is why, to this day, I have no fear of such a storm. We watched as the dark lead-colored clouds began to form, as the wind drove the misty curtain of rain up the valley, and as each flash of lightning illuminated the scene around us. No two bolts were ever quite the same or in the exact same spot. No two thunderclaps ever sounded exactly alike. The mountains echoed each clap to its own mysterious timing in an ever changing pattern. After one especially severe daytime storm, we were treated to a sight not seen by too many people—a double rainbow! The ends of one side of the rainbow were anchored behind the mountain in the distance and the ends of the other side were buried deep in the center of the village and touched with ghostly colored fingers, the very top of the church's spire.

The corner of the porch had another function to perform when it became the center of a new beginning, a small family gathering to celebrate my wedding in 1934. A loving neighbor decorated the area with flowers from her garden, among which were tall stems of the old-fashioned "Golden Glow" which is seldom seen today.

In a few years the porch performed one more use, when a playpen provided a safe area for the first baby, a daughter, to enjoy the fresh air and sunshine. When not in the playpen she enjoyed rocking in a tiny 'Mission' rocker that had been mine and still remains in the family to this day.

No matter where I live, or how far away I may be, I shall never forget the wonderful porch of my first home. Now that porches are back in fashion, I sincerely wish that others could experience some of the sights and sounds which have meant so much to me and stayed with me in memory over the years. Their influence on me has colored and shaped my likes and dislikes over the stretch of time. 

I often think back to those special days and am so grateful for my present home with…you guessed it…a porch. No, I do not wish to go back, but rather to profit by the many incidents that occurred while I enjoyed my first home with a porch, and to learn to enjoy and appreciate my life in the present time and place.

Pauline F. Nulton  (1914 - 2005)


PFN 1924 - An only child has her dolls for friends.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

More Clouds

These come from my favorite meteorologist in SC! 




MOTHER NATURE'S MUSHROOM CLOUD - What an anvil over Conway. 
This image sent to him by Joe Bunting.


ANOTHER AMAZING ANVIL - When you first see this photo, it looks like a nuclear bomb detonated. It's actually a thunderstorm with a very well defined anvil. Warm, moist air rapidly rises and condenses, creating clouds and rain. Eventually the rising air reaches the top of the troposphere and bumps up against the bottom of the stratosphere. The air here is warmer than the air at the top of the troposphere so it no longer rises and spread out in all directions. It's perfectly circular because of the lack of strong winds at that altitude.                                Thanks to Judy Kunkel for the great photo.

Research for Davis Photo


Slender Orange Bush Lichen


Scientific Name: Teloschistes exilis (Michaux) Vainio
Common Name: Slender Orange Bush Lichen
Certainty: positive
Location: Texas; Hill Country
Date: 20070113
Source:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/7147684@N03/981917771/

Here is the Image I hunted!


Photo by Davis



Storm a Comin'

This photo is for "Leave it to Davis" to see because I don't know how to send it to her. I follow "our" SC Weatherman especially since he posts such marvelous photos taken by his followers.
                      This one really really grabbed me! 


 "Here's another shot of the awesome storm that rolled through northern Horry county yesterday. Thanks to Tracey Floyd for sending it."

My Day Off


From physical therapy, that is; I mean actually going to the facility to be stretched and manipulated. The day started out with a wonderful view of several wildlife activities at the lake while having morning coffee at the dining room table.

A little green heron was perched on our "woodpecker" tree branch, looking down into the lake for his breakfast. He soon flew down and did his searching from our dock. 

He then disappeared and I never saw him again.



Next came a crow flying with "something" dangling from its beak. He landed on the grassy beachfront under the large spruce tree in front of the cabin.  When my husband went out to see what he had caught, he flew away, leaving a small sunfish behind! After husband returned to the cabin, the crow came back and picked that sunny clean. He even brought a friend and they shared this treat. It definitely wasn't the usual crow behavior that I had ever watched before! In fact, the crows (VERY large ones) have been acting quite kinky this summer. Just the other day we saw one picking off the petals of the day lilies and then actually picking the entire flowerhead off and dropping it to the grass.

A trip to the town laundromat was next. In the summer I hang all laundry out to dry. We brought it home and my "helper husband" pinned items to the line while I was able to sort and get them in the correct position to be pinned. It was a two person project and the line was full and the laundry hung "properly." I hope sometime to be able to reach up and do this myself again, but it just can't be accomplished yet. 

Then!!! A rain shower came, but thankfully it only lasted for about 10 minutes. I picked this day to launder because the forecast for the next four or five days was for daily thunderstorms. If we had waited any longer, we would have certainly had to go without underwear and socks! I refuse to feed those driers in the summer. How lucky can we be? A lovely breeze is now doing its best to complete this chore. The sun is out.

My next undertaking was to sweep the front porch floor. It is concrete and, for the past week, the pesky millipedes have been curling up and dying there, due to the perimeter of the cabin being treated to keep the usual yearly carpenter ants at bay. This year there haven't been ants seen, indoors or out, BUT....we were seeing and disposing of about a dozen millipedes every day - indoors!  Because of their moisture requirement, they usually don't survive indoors for more than a few days, but we don't want them in here anyway!  This has never happened before so we just figure it must be another natural anomaly due to the crazy weather we've experienced here during the past couple of years.

Our life is never boring and it is a good one. Who's complaining?

Friday, July 13, 2012

P.T. Camp


The summer is moving right along here in the Endless Mountains of Pennsylvania. I'm moving right along with it and not falling down again! Attitude in action.

Physical therapy should be called painful torture, but it sure is helping my shoulder movements. Of course, repetition and continuation after I leave the facility are still necessary. I have to remember not to go beyond my comfort level and resist forcing the stretches and movements. Sometimes I get too exuberant in my enthusiasm to attain my best restoration of range of motion. Today's therapy session was an example to remind me to slow down. It cannot be accomplished quickly.





The strengthening exercises of walking both hands up and down the wall to the highest height I can reach, and then walking them back down is the most difficult so far. The problem is that I don't have a wall on which to practice this one at home! My walls here are all rough flat logs. The doors are planks and unfinished. I tried it in front of the refrigerator but its height is short for the reach I need. Let's see.......there must be some other way....hmmmm.

I'm told that bone healing usually takes six to twelve weeks and that regaining full strength may take up to a year. Today is my 7th week anniversary of the fall. I'm just a beginner. Game ON!

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Fall Down NOT Downfall


Glad to be back in the mountains! All going pretty well here. Ed is a bit overworked, learning new housekeeping and kitchen chores. (see story below.) Computer work is difficult for me now and, hopefully it will be easier in a few months.



 I am healing. On May 25, I stubbed my left toe when following a neighbor to her back yard to see a bush of flowers. As we were walking in the grass along the paved sidewalk to get around her golf cart, I stepped up with my right foot, and tripped on the left, plunging me forward onto my right shoulder. I fell HARD! I heard cracking and crunching noises. I never had an instant to put out my arm to break the fall. So........after trips to two emergency rooms, I was sent home with pain medicine and an order for a CAT scan in 4 days. Of course, the hospital was jammed with life threatening emergencies and I sat on a gurney in a hall for several hours before seeing the trauma orthopedic surgeon. It was Memorial Day weekend besides being bike week!  Both emergency facilities took several x-rays (each wanted its own film).  The CAT scan was then viewed by another orthopedic surgeon at another facility. This doctor does shoulder joint replacements as his specialty. He would have had to do a reversal joint replacement - meaning that the top( head) of the fractured humerus would be replaced with a "socket" and the shoulder would be made into a ball. He also thought that the trauma surgeon who saw me first might be able to pin, rod and plate the humerus. Back to the first doctor. NO. He said there isn't enough dense bone mass on the fractured head to sustain an internal fixation for a successful repair and the reconstructive surgery most likely wouldn't hold up and another repair would probably have to be done.  Well........I had been in a tight immobilizing sling for over three weeks already and was ready to kill them both! The black arm was turning purple and yellow and the multiple breaks were healing (according to doc) because there was good blood flow to the injury. Since I had to make a decision on both recommendations I decided not to have any surgery and live with a permanent "range of motion" disability. Of course, it is my dominant arm, but my fingers work well and from the elbow down functionality is fine. Eight weeks of physical therapy, three times a week was ordered and I started immediately, accomplishing 5 sessions so far. I will be continuing PT here, reaching for the most function possible. The joint was also dislocated, due to the fractures, and will stay that way. I think I can deal with it. I'm NOT going to mention the pain and frustration because I actually feel fortunate that it wasn't my head or hip. So, I'm now entering the healing phase. HAD to cut off my long hair, but it was donated to the Locks of Love Cancer program and was 12 inches of a color they really loved. Gray hair was accepted and is sold to offset the manufacturing costs. That's good. There was NO WAY I could work with it long.

 June 26, 2012

  June 27, 2012

So now I will adapt and overcome. There was a saying in the PT facility that "The achievement of your goal is assured the moment you commit yourself." I am committed to functioning to the best of my ability. I'm even typing this fine, and have stacked two milk crates, topped with a board to move the mouse. My "helper" left hand moves my arm over to the lower level where my mouse now must be. Hooray!