Sunday, February 23, 2020

Wool, wings and wonderment

So we bought this big ball made of twisted sticks and filled with alpaca wool and hung it in the tree. It goes well with the little basket that we bought last year. It seems, indeed, that we have become friends of the birds. And we love it!

I look at the nesting material within this crazy looking ball of wool and wonder why we didn't create something like this long ago. You know that feeling you have when you walk into a store and find something that costs a small fortune and is a really great idea and wonder why someone in your family or you didn't come up with the idea before? Well, that's more or less the way I feel when I look at these two things hanging in the tree. The little basket is a refuge/escape for little birds being pursued by some critter like that nasty Steller's jay that hangs out in our back yard. We have never seen any bird go into it but feel satisfaction knowing that they have an escape room. So now we have this big ball of fuzz that the hummers seem attracted as it is nesting time. We like to think that we are indeed feathering (wooling) nests. Alas, it seems we fall for birdy accessories, but then we don't have a dog.

I know I often talk about birds, but you don't grow up on Neff Road without having a deep appreciation for the sweet things. However, having said that, I do find it weird that long ago we sat listening to birdcall records at Granddad Loxley's house. It might have been a bit odd, but then a bird hidey-hole might be a bit off track as well.

Perhaps it is retirement that makes one more aware of the joy of birds. Perhaps it is entertainment for those wondering 'what would you like to do today' when all days run together. For me, it was born in me along with the smell, the feel, the very soil of Neff Road. Dad could whistle bird songs. He would whistle to a singing bird then tell me to listen. A duet between a songbird and a songster. I wonder if that makes my grandmother Whistler's mother. Ah, but I get sidetracked once more.

I will be heading to Indiana/Ohio this summer to spend time with my sister June. Once more I will sit and marvel at the cardinals that for some reason cannot fly over the Mississippi River to Oregon. Fireflies have that same problem. Of course, their wings are shorter. I will listen to the songs of different songbirds as I watch the orioles, which are more colorful than ours, flit by. And, once more I will be home.

Monday, February 17, 2020

Farmer Fun Facts for February

Wow! That's a mouthful! I thought it was time to have some fun since February is a slow farming month. Now I am a farm girl, yet I realize that I do not know everything, even though you thought I might. I did some research on a few sites and found facts that will awe and astonish you. (Well, that might be a bit over the top.)

Let's start with cows. Did you know that no two cows have exactly the same spot pattern? Not even twins. Perhaps it is due to their short memories that they space out on who is who in the bovine community. Of course, as we all know, and perhaps wonder how anyone can know, cows have a memory that lasts for three years. AND, perhaps they can remember longer but as is also known, cows know their names, but they don't always come when called. Another cow piece of trivia is that a cow will lie down when a storm is coming. To clarify this a bit further, cows will lie down to nap and sleep without a storm approaching.

Then we have goats. Goats are not prejudiced. They like people and their livestock friends. They were actually the first domesticated animals. Goats have rectangular pupils. They can see in the dark. I just think they are cute as the dickens. And, I have a deep love for those wooly sheep. There are forty-seven breeds of sheep here in the U.S. Seven to ten pounds are freshly shorn off them each year. Now this might seem like a lot, but all this wool is merely enough to make a man's suit. Just one pound can make ten miles of yarn. There are one-hundred-fifty yards of wool in one baseball. Baaaaaa.

Here are just a few random facts that I am sure you did not know. The longest recorded flight of a chicken (now I do not know if this a boy or girl chicken) is thirteen seconds. And those silly birds can make over two hundred distinct noises for talking to one another. But let's not forget the pigs. We could actually pit onev against a chicken, because it can run eleven miles per hour.

Agriculture is the single largest employer in the world. There are nine hundred million acres of farmland. Farmers, you live in a wonderful world of nature and mystery. Don't ever forget to be in awe of what the earth gives to your hands and our hearth. Thank you for putting up with a silly lady.

Sunday, February 2, 2020

The future built on the past

Where once it stood a field stands fallow. No longer do swings creak with the rhythm of back and forth motion. There is no dust rising around the merry-go-round. The bats (both kinds) are gone.  The corner of Hogpath and Byreley stands empty with only sounds and sights of the past, residing in those who knew the halls of Franklin School.

It was just a walk down the road. A leather belt wrapped around a few books and possibly even a slate was slung over a shoulder or dragged dangerously close to the ground. It was a trek down Yount Road then around the corner store onto Red River/West Grove Road where the one-room school sat, waiting for the kids with scuffed shoes and perhaps even bare feet. Now only a memory of those who still remain and those gone.

The old brick schoolhouses dot the country roads. Some are now residences while others stand empty. They preserve memories of the children, teachers and a community who loved these buildings, who built these buildings. They cry out in a voice from long ago that spoke of the importance of education. They stand as a sign of progress in a time when wagons and horses were the only other travels on the gravel roads.

Progress is necessary. It is built on the very roots of such schools. Now instead of a slate or an old Underwood typewriter, computers are used. Latin is no longer taught. You can choose from a variety of tongues. Kids advance more quickly and so, too, must the schools. Kids no longer play jacks at recess or jump rope. Their lunches are more likely prepackaged from the grocery or even from a vending machine. In some schools, the kids sit on the floor surrounding the teacher. Parents and teachers are in contact via the computer, and kids have study time at school on the computers. A sick child will miss nothing with such great communication. Schools are preparing for the present and the future. They are building on the footprint of those before them.

The future built on the past.