Over the fence chat for 4/29/01 to 5/4/01

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Another beautiful weekend out there folks - too bad I'm trapped on the wacko ward and don't get to enjoy it :o( . Can you say "Poor Polly"?

I'm fibbin' just a little as I did get all my hanging baskets done for the porch and got my new beds mostly nailed together before I started this weekend. Hubby is going out to square them up for me this morning so I can mark for my peach trees that came in the mail Friday. I'm planning to plant nasturtiums around them to help control peach borers, so I'll take my seed to work with me tonight to nick the seed covering and then soak - and be all ready to plant when I get home from work Monday morning. Depending on how much energy I have, I'll try to get a couple more partial beds turned and start planting my beans and maybe okra. Need to transplant my tomatoes and peppers into larger containers in the house as they are starting to get crowded.

The bluebirds are back and the whip-poor-wills started calling last week as well. We've had a few hummingbirds stop by so we cleaned up a feeder and hung it out, but they seem to be traveling on north. Haven't seen the barn swallows yet - sure hope they don't pass us up this year. I'm planning to make a couple of nesting places for them on the new grape arbor - just love to watch them swooping about in the evenings; and really love the resulting drop in the 'skeeter population! Pop found some morels and I have them soaking in salt water - I'll fry them up tomorrow night - mmm-mmm!!

I only get one day off, then have to work three more 12's - after that I get three whole days off!!! Prom is next weekend - I still have to shorten Sis's dress and she has conned me into making pre-prom dinner for 4 couples as they are all too broke to go somewhere fancy to eat. I'm planning chicken and teriaki beef shish kebobs, rice pilaf, hot rolls and some kind of fancy veggie and dessert - any suggestions?? I have a funny feeling that there will be a small post-prom party over on Pop's 18 acres on the other road - 'course, I'm not SUPPOSED to know anything about that!

Can someone tell me why is it, that when you have a billion and one things to do outside, suddenly all these piddley little inside jobs that would be absolutely perfect to do during the winter seem to be screaming for attention. My kitchen cabinets are a total mess and are begging to be reorganized! A huge stack of mending has materialized on my sewing machine! I'm gonna have to organize a search party to go into the store room to find the humming bird feeders! Ah well - Wal-Mart has more feeders and the rummage sales are booming so I'm sure I can find a pair of shorts that the butt is still in - and as for the cabinets, Heck! Who needs plates when you don't have time to cook anyway!!

Well, I'm off to bed to catch some ZZZ's before I have to go back to work. Happy May Day!!

-- Anonymous, April 29, 2001


Well it finally looks like we are going to have spring after all! The weather has taken a turn for the desperate (desperate to plant those day lilies, desperate to get those new beds going, desperate to plant the strawberries, desperate to haul some manure --), and began hauling plants outside to enjoy the exceptional April weather. 50's at night, almost 70 in the day and possibly climbing. Open all windows!!!

However, the daffodils are yet to bloom here. I moved clumps of them over from the former house and planted them out on the dog's graves, which looks nice under the old family lilac bush. The spring peepers are still peeping, so it's time to release the leopard frog that I was given over the winter so that he can go find girlfriends (I've really enjoyed his funny little singing at nights tho. He sounds like someone rubbing a thumb over a balloon!)

I have to find a replacement apple tree...the one that got sunscalded last spring gave it up over the winter. There had been a little margin of graft left that put up a shoot last year (that my mother's hired 'help' jammed off the tree.) and I had hopes it might rally yet this year with a good root system, but no. The Duchess of Oldenburg and Honeysweet are both fine it seems. It was the Haralred that died, so now I've got to think Haralred again...or do I go with something like Bonnie Best, or Sweet Sixteen...

Polly, have you ever made Pavlova? Speaking of fancy desserts that is. I don't have the recipe handy at the moment, but an on line search would probably find it. It's basically a large meringue, that you bake, it caves in, you fill it with custard and/or whipped cream, and top with fresh fruit. If you're southernly enough to have fresh strawberries, that would be heavenly. Otherwise you can always go with triple-chocolate anything. Death By Chocolate...

I jumped the gun a bit and bought a fushia (I can never keep them over the winter!) to let the summer hummers know that the welcome mat is out. They always show up here on May 12th, so I'll be ready. It's warmed up enough that I think I'll hang out the feeders a bit early, just in case. I got up today and discovered 4 pairs of Evening Grosbeaks using the feeder. I haven't had but one female that travels with a flock of goldfinches in years (many years ago I had a regular dinner crew of 60 of them, then they all disappeared, and I got a regular dinner crew of over 200 goldfinches. Now THEY have scaled way back so I don't have more than 30 or so of them and that lone female grosbeak. I really hope she found one of the males.). So with those new customers, and a new pair of mourning doves, I am quite happy. The purple finches are still here, but the Juncos have left. I have regulars of white-breasted and chestnut- breasted nuthatches that nest around here (I love it when they bring out the babies!), Blue Jays, Chickadees, and the Song Sparrows have returned as well. I put out numerous nesting pockets for them this year to entice them. I hope I'll have the Kinglets back as well. Oh, and of course the STARLINGS are back...!!!

I heard that the population of Starlings are bottoming out over in England. They're kind of unsure as to WHY that is, pesticides perhaps, but if they'd like their birds back, I think we should all package 'em up and return them. One or two starlings are cute. Flocks aren't.

I hear you on that bit about all the house cleaning chores! I think it's because it's finally sunny and warm out that you (and me!) feel motivated to do some of the things that got the 'tomorrow' treatment all winter... oh well, I'm cleaning out the garage, does that count?

-- Anonymous, April 29, 2001

Spring has finally arrived here in central,coastal Maine. Daffodils are just about done blooming and the tulips are starting. We rotilled last year's manure into the garden so now I have to get off my butt and start the cool weather crops. Warm weather stuff can wait til May 1st. or so. Last weekend I disbudded all my "kids" and this weekend was banding weekend for the baby bucks, or should I say "wanna be" bucks!!! Anyways, after walking funny for half hour or so all is well now...I guess!! Hard to concentrate on our homesteading tasks as my husband and I are doing our best to help my mother-in-law through the loss of her husband last Nov. She was sooooo dependent on him and now is tending to replace him with her son (my husband). Of course he loves his mother and wants to help her thru this, but he also lost his father and is trying to deal with his own grief as well as hers. Sometimes it's so overwelming!! Plus my 29 yr. old son and his family are having financial problems.....talk about being stuck in the "sandwich generation"!!! My only relief lately is to go to the barn and play with the "kids" or sit and watch the chickens go about their daily activties. Guess I'll be glad to get out and play in the garden dirt again. But I'm rambling on way too long...Happy Spring to all!!

-- Anonymous, April 29, 2001

Beautiful weather here too. Julie and I are over 200 miles apart and we seldom have the same type of weather, but this weekend is apparently an exception! Helping my best friend move really cut into my weekend (but it was kinda fun, we didn't work the whole time -- went to hear Gordon Lightfoot Friday night).

The garden plots are now tilled and have been assigned, and I am now the proud renter of a 15x30+ space. I am feeling a bit overwhelmed after looking at it. We have alot of clay in the soil, and though a lot of the clods are broken up, there are still plenty waiting for me. There's one corner that's sort of down in a dip, untilled, a mess. Maybe I'll toss all the big clods down there. I won't have to break them up and they'll kind of fill in the area.

I'm sort of having panic attacks about getting this all done. Gotta get the fencing up as soon as I get the soil as worked over as I'm gonna. I'm thinking about hilling it up into semi-raised beds. I have some bales of straw coming soon. I have to hit the farmer's markets and nurseries soon too, and probably buy way too much.

Unfortunately, I have to be out of town for about 3 days in mid-May -- with my luck, it'll be nice weather that I could have been working in the garden. Usually, it rains for this annual meeting. Hope it does this year too. Then I won't feel so badly that I have to be gone!

-- Anonymous, April 29, 2001

Hey, I just *have* to know....did Gordon Lightfoot do "Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald?" Whenever we go to bars or cabarets with musical entertainment (not often anymore, tho!) we always request that song....sends the musicians into a panic (although outside of Vegas a couple of years ago, a guy really did do it...ALL the verses, too!!!)

Just curious!!

-- Anonymous, April 29, 2001

Yes, Sheepish, he sang it -- I don't think he'd dare NOT to do that one in this area. Most of his fans in the Great Lakes region remember the shipwreck only too well. It was big news in these parts. It might also be his best-known song, not sure. Or would that be "Sundown"?

What's the MATTER with those musicians? I think I could sing almost all the words myself (even if my voice isn't all that great)! My friend commented that if Gordon had stopped singing, it would have been discovered that the entire audience was singing it as well. We just didn't have mikes and amplifiers.

I thought the joke was to ask for "Stairway to Heaven"? I'll have to try asking for "Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald" when groups refuse to do Stairway . . . . ;-)

-- Anonymous, April 29, 2001

Wow... I'm enjoying this weather... if we don't get blown away that is... I'm just pulling the weeds in the flower beds... yesterday, today and tomorrow according to moon signs are great for weeding and getting grubs... so I'm attacking it...

the indoor plants are doing great and they are anxious to get outside in the ground.. but to much chance of a frost...plus the ground is very cold yet...

I have disked the garden once but would like the first batch of weed seedlings to appear to disk under a 2nd time...

hi, Julie... I thought it was you... like the frog name...

Gordon Lightfoot huh, Joy???? sad sad sad...wish I could have been there

I have a quick story about the Edmund Fitzgerald... went I first married years ago (forgot how many.... really)... one weekend the hubby and I went to the locks in Michigan as we lived in Ohio then...

it was great watching the ships go through... and one of them was the Edmund Fitzgerald.. and I have a picture of it... going through the locks...

that fall she went down...

I kinda thought that I was the cause... because the next summer we stayed in Estes Park, Colorado... a few weeks later... a big flood rolled through there.. some people died if I remember correctly...

I know... I know... I'm dangerous ;-}

btw... I have the privilege of living about midway between Joy and Julie... and a better priviledge of meeting the both of them... great sisters...

-- Anonymous, May 01, 2001

Thanks sweetie!

-- Anonymous, May 01, 2001

Joy, I guess the joke is out here that nobody knows that song and everyone knows "Stairway..." including the local grocery store musak machine. I dunno, but I think most West Coast people think the earth falls away after you hit the Rockies. Buncha yokels...

Actually, the original joke song request for us was "Estimated Prophet" by the Grateful Dead. That was always a real "huh?" in piano bars.

I always liked Gordon Lightfoot, but not enough to buy any of his music I guess. I haven't listened to him since the early 70s but he sure did have a nice voice...very smooth!

Stopped raining for a while today. It maybe got up to 52 degrees too. Whooo-hooo. Spring. Lots of downed trees yesterday in a windstorm. Peas are doing well though. Sheep are very wet. Mom continues to get better. Work was tough today b/c I'm behind now.

My husband turned 49 today. What a geezer! We're going to the local pub for a few microbrews tonight. Should be fun. Later all....

-- Anonymous, May 01, 2001

Sheepish, if you are inclined to get any of his music, I recommend "Gord's Gold" -- course, that was pre-Edmund . . . .

I got SUCH a deal tonight at Menards! For once, it pays to be confused and indecisive. I couldn't find garden stakes that I wanted (they were out of the short metal ones). As I was standing there staring at the long pieces of wood, thinking about cutting stakes (expensive) from those, one of the employees came to see what I needed. Then he showed me the wooden garden stakes (I just didn't go down the rows far enough), but I didn't like them because some were of treated wood. So we went back to where he found me, and lo and behold, here were 2x2 "furring strips", 4 ft long, for 29 cents each. And a LOT of them were CEDAR. I bought a whole bunch. Want some, Julie? Maybe my fellow gardeners here will want some. I think I can build other stuff, plant supports and the like out of them. Whee!

I ended up buying the plastic coated "chicken wire" -- I couldn't spot it when I was there last time, but found it right away tonight.

I was over at the garden plot, raking it a bit to see how well tilled it is and how much was still clumpy. I stepped into the bed and started sinking. I need dirtshoes -- like snowshoes, only for the garden!

-- Anonymous, May 01, 2001

I'm really a late bloomer-just got my Countryside today.Apparently mail is still delivered by muleteam here :o) Briefly skimmed it and saw your article.Way to go Polly!

-- Anonymous, May 02, 2001

...I recommend "Gord's Gold" -- course, that was pre- Edmund . . . .

Yep, I've got that one on CD... great music. Ruth turned me on to him when she and I first started dating. Of course, she turned me on to a LOT of things but that's a whole 'nuther story.

I especially like listening to his music while driving along the North Shore from Duluth to Grand Marais. Seems like the perfect setting for his music - the view of Superior and the rocky shoreline with all the pine trees...

I absolutely LOVE that part of northern Minnesota. I always fantasized about living up there but the economic part of the equation never worked out.

-- Anonymous, May 02, 2001

I just finished off prom dresses also. I have sewn weddings, proms and party dresses for several years. (Guess most folks think I only do goats :) The girls this year had the theme of "naked" :) sure wish I would have one come up to me and say "make me Cinderella" my favorite kind of sewing! Oldest daughter is getting married in September, will give me an opportunity at least with her dress to really sew.

I took down the raised beds and son leveled out all the soil, growing grass this year. I have a freezer full of food that didn't get canned last year, and all my Y2K canning left. I know I am going to miss it when I can't go out and pick tomatoes, peppers, jalepeno's, and some runner onions and make a quick bowl of salsa! We also have great produce markets, and excellent road side stands.

I was a closet Gordon Lightfoot, Jim Croce and James Taylor fan. Vicki

-- Anonymous, May 02, 2001

Grand Marais!!!!???? That is our favorite spot, that whole shoreline from Grand Marais back through Pictured Rock National Forest, we have pretty much walked the whole way at one time or another. Really warm in Michigan this week. Apple trees are starting to blossom, red buds etc. So gorgeous. Just got back from a 3 hour drive to South Haven to pick up blue berry bushes. Starting with 30 to see how they will do and if they do well might go for a pick your own (big maybe there). So wonderful to be outside and enjoying it again. We got some rain last night and are hoping it was enough to bring on the morels. We have not found a one yet this year. Blessings and good vibs to all.

-- Anonymous, May 02, 2001

Hi All. Saw a very odd thing - dead opossum on the road. Opossums in central MN! I had heard they were expanding their range but...but this is way too far north (I thought). Had to check twice to be sure, never seen one before. They do look like Hell's version of a rat. I've always wondered about them - they are the only marsupial on this continent. How can that be? Where did they come from?

Found a tree nursery that is not sold out - yay! Ordered 175 red pine and 175 white spruce. I have 4 days to plant all 350. Will be glad to get back to work so I can rest.

Cattle panels were delivered Tues., now I can put up a hoop house for storage. I foolishly told my daughter that I would store some furniture for her when she moved. I am looking forward to 'building' it, though. Surely I can have it up in one day. I think I can.


-- Anonymous, May 03, 2001

Possums out here are like road-kill carpeting. You almost need snow tires to drive around heresometimes. I bet I see one a day squished on the road...what a way to wake up on the way to work....

-- Anonymous, May 03, 2001

Q: Why did the chicken cross the road?

A: To prove to the possum that it can be done!

Sorry, couldn't resist!

Gas prices shot up 20 cents overnight, premium is now over $2/gallon. I don't think I"ve ever seen $2 gas before in my life! Thank the Gods I traded in my SUV for a Ford Escort last summer when the prices jumped. I keep telling Keith that we need to start carpooling to work, but he's ignoring me. Maybe I should just get up early on Monday morning and be waiting in the car for him when he's ready to leave!

-- Anonymous, May 04, 2001

Man am I whupped! 6 - 12 hour shifts in 7 days is about enough to do me in. And I gotta go back in for a 4 hour shift at 3 am. Will some of you people please go to nursing school?! When the national nursing shortage makes it's way to Podunk, you know it's gotta be bad - and our hospital has been begging for RNs for 2 or 3 years now. When I was in nursing school, they were turning away applicants; yet only about 60% of those who started made it through - if that many. Some states now require that you have a BSN (bachelors) to be an RN; and the American Nurses Association is backing legislation to require all RNs to be BSNs. (Which is one reason they don't get my $200 dues every year!) Not real sure how they think that is going to help the nursing shortage. Most of the BSNs I know push paper rather than care for patients - No Thanks, I'd rather do REAL nursing.

Okay - Thanks for letting me vent! Get bitchy when I get tired, don't I?!

Well, we got the peach trees planted and I got some more stuff planted in the garden. Pop and Uncle Ivan got the field corn, sweet corn and sunflowers in, and Pop is planning to plant the melons when he gets up from his nap this afternoon. I still haven't got all the 'maters transplanted, nor the peppers. I feel like I'm way behind!! Maybe I'll catch up this week-end - I swear I'm not answering the phone!

Today is Pop's 73rd birthday *< :o) His girlfriend, Lisa, is having us all in for a fried chicken dinner to celebrate this evening - yum! We got him a Leatherman tool and a fishing hat and some gaudy fishing stuff. He'll gripe and carry on and be pleased as punch that we're paying attention to him! Lisa's little girl, Bailey, will be 2 near the end of May; then Jessie's 17th birthday is the 4th of June, so we will be doing plenty of celebrating in the next few weeks. Uncle Ivan has already helped us get a tractor tire to make Bailey a sand box - now we just need to go get a load of sand and make a kitty cat cover for it. Oh - and pick up some sand box toys, of course!! I think that Jes's little plastic picnic table is still up in the top of the shed, might be a good time to pass it down to the next generation. Aren't the simple toys the best!?

Jessie's present will be plane tickets to go to Texas to see Ryan for a week or so before summer classes begin. (Anyone near Killeen?) She's picking up some college classes so she'll be ahead of the game when she graduates high school next year. I must have trained her right - she is planning to go to nursing school! She'll still work at least four days a week this summer; I just hope she takes the time to do some fun stuff too - I hate to see her get all wrapped up in work and school. Plenty of time for that stuff later on!

Well, my fingers are stumbling on the keys so I reckon I'd better head to bed - g'night errr...good afternoon all!

-- Anonymous, May 04, 2001

Good joke about the chicken vs. the opposum!!

Well, since it was raining out yesterday, I got a wild hare on and went off to Jungs...you know that you're not like the rest of the country when your ideas of favourite shopping places are Fleet Farm, Ace Hardware, Jungs, and Country Seed. You look for jeans that have enough give in the waist because you're gonna spend all your time bent over in the garden, or over a horse's legs, instead of seeing which ones have a cute seat to them...you tell others excitedly about the great new pots you found for your fig tree experiement....and you come out of the hardware store with a bag full of plumbing supplies.

Whoo hoo!!! Life in the fast lane!!

I settled on a semi-dwarf 'Sweet Sixteen' apple tree after all, and then couldn't resist trying out one of the new 'Ballerina' type apples as well, bought a yellow cultivar and tried to rationalize that it would be good as a pollinator and not take up any room at all...

THEN I went into the herb section and came out with watercress, a new type of sage I haven't grown before, another walking onion, lemon balm, & cinnamon basil to add to the African Blue basil I'd already bought....couldn't find any lemon basil....my sister and I are a bit odd for lemon-scented herbs, be they basils, balms, or thymes.

AND a bunch of tomato plants that I probably didn't really *need*, but the mania is beginning to clutch at me....

I bought snapdragons for the flower garden. They are a much under- rated flower in my opinion, blooming all the way up into autumn when other flowers have given up the ghost and only the mums, stonecrop, and asters struggle on, but there is the snapdragon, still gamely blooming! Cerise pink, a bright lemon yellow, and some 'orange' ones that I thought were more a coral/apricot/yellow.

I got in the strawberries! All planted! 25 each of 'Jewel' and 'Honeyone'. Now I want more beds so I can put in some 'Sparkle'...the books tell me that 50 plants should be sufficient for an average family, but you need more for jams and freezing....I ask you, what is an 'average' family when it comes to either strawberries or ripe tomatoes? Can you ever have too much? (well, my two plants that DID give red tomatoes last year gave my mom a mild case of the hives...maybe I should have thought of putting in a yellow or white tomato for her....drat... another chance to experiment missed, as well as a reason to buy yet another tomato plant!)

I planted the daffodils I had to move from the former house on top of my dogs' graves, and hope that they'll thrive there for years to come. You might all keep Dee in your thoughts. Her 93 year old grandmother is in the hospital and it sounds like she is fading fast. Dee is spending final hours with her, trying to make them as comfortable and loving as possible, and says that she is okay with it, but it is still a very sad time for her.

-- Anonymous, May 04, 2001

I will keep Dee and her Grandma and their family and friends in my prayers. It sounds sad. I hope it goes as best as it can.

Happy Birthday to Pop! It sounds glad! And Pop seems like one of the family on this forum!

Re: Nursing. Sheesh, Polly, with such great hours, I think you could attract a lot of folks to the profession (not!) Seriously, I think it's fascinating and I thought about it (very briefly) when I was taking the classes to support the Med. Transcription certificate I got (i.e. terminology, med law and ethics, etc...lotsa future allied health folk there) I just don't think I could handle the responsibility. Really. Therefore, I have enormous respect for nurses. They have all the grief and little glory. Last night I went back to the hospital where Mom had been and gave the med/surg nursing staff that had helped her a funny card and a fistful of lottery scratch tickets...the idea being that Mom was lucky (this was from her.) One of the nurses gave me a long hug and kind of had tears in her eyes. Well, of course she was glad that Mom was okay, but I really think she was thirsty for some appreciation (and probably exhausted, ya think?!!) With MAs and PAs and everybody else getting all the attention (and a lot of the money) I think nurses, esp. RNs are getting the short end of it. And all the other nurses and nursing assistants probably too....

I agree...we are all getting up there in age. *Somebody* had better get busy b/c no matter how great the technology is, somebody still has to hold your hand when you get scared. God bless nurses!

-- Anonymous, May 04, 2001

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