Just like on COPS

!! Trigger Warning for drunk driving, car wrecks, and drowned kohlrabi. May want to skip this one if that sounds like too much, I’ll be back to lighter content next week. !!

A note: I feel fairly confident posting this story as I was somewhat involved and it was in the newspaper the next morning. If I come to find out other involved parties are uncomfortable with this post, I’ll happily remove it

Hello Friends!

Well, we have some good news and some bad news about the state of the garden. The good news is the tomatoes and potatoes seem to be quite happy and are well on their way to growing big and strong and tasty. They seem wholly unaffected by the weird weather of crazy storms, just happy to have some ground to flourish in.

On the other hand, we may have lost the kohlrabi and the carrots. They were already unhappy about the continued fluctuations between hot and cold, but after the last crazy heavy downpour they had just had enough, they simply were done with the nonsense. While I am bummed, I cannot blame them as I also am not a big fan of standing out in a torrential downpour. It’s just been a very rough year for the garden. I don’t think we are going to end up with much of our intended yield. 

I have a few squash plants waiting to go in the ground as well, but the weather hasn’t been nice for getting that done. 

Seems like it’s going to be a routine, all week long we work to fix the storm damage, washed out driveways, destroyed plants, rutted and flooded corral and arena, and then each Sunday it storms hard enough to undo all of that in about a 15 minute period. We spent yesterday under flash flood warnings, it’s no wonder the garden is a state.

Speaking of “in a state”, you will not believe my last Friday night. We had quite the hubbub. 

So, my sweet mom was looking out of the kitchen window as she passed by when she stopped in her tracks. My mom has what’s called aphasia, which means there’s a bit of a disconnect usually between what she’s thinking and what she is saying or trying to articulate. Names come out wrong, yes means no, sometimes whole new words are created. Generally we’ve noticed that in more serious situations, her words come out a little clearer, doc thinks that it’s maybe that the sudden concern is helping pull language from a different neural pathway. Whatever the reason, you can imagine how fast we moved Friday evening when, clear as day my mom goes “Jeff, there’s a car”. Not the most concerning phrase on its own but it was dripping with panic from my mom.

Looking out my kitchen window, easy as you please,  just on the other side of my pasture, perched at the top of my neighbors field, was a little hatchback on its top. Mom was right, there was a car. A car doing things cars are not really meant to do.

Two different agencies, my little red Durango, and the ambulance (which wasn’t needed in the end thank goodness)

Obviously, there was much ado after that. I called 911 and, because I didn’t know the extent of the wreck, I asked them to send out everything they might need to extract someone from a car. I didn’t know if there were injuries, or the car was on fire or leaking gas, or what have you, so when asked what services I wanted rolling toward me, my answer was firmly “all of it, I don’t know how bad this is fixing to get”.

Luckily I was grossly over-prepared. Worth a quick note here, as soon as I got off the phone with the dispatcher, we kenneled the dogs so they were safe. The horses had already opted to head to the barn, so they were safe as well.

While I was on the phone with the dispatcher, my dad grabbed my car (his was in the shop) and went out to assess the wreck. I was so afraid there were going to be kids in the car or, God forbid, someone no longer with us. At this point no one had seen the actual wreck so we didn’t know what happened, but we have a fair amount of older people on the roads around here and it’s not terribly uncommon to hear about an elderly person having a medical emergency and wrecking out as a result. 

But amazingly, considering the car was, I’ll remind you, turned turtle, completely on its top, there were no serious injuries. When my dad got up there, he found a single occupant. She was definitely not totally understanding the gravity of her situation, as she was not in a state where she should have been driving.

I have a very strong distaste for those who drive under the influence, and she’s incredibly lucky she wasn’t more seriously injured or injured someone else. Around the time that I was graduating high school I remember thinking it was an absolute crime wave of drunk drivers killing classmates and family members of classmates. I don’t think you could go more than a week without hearing about someone else and let me tell you, that did more to teach us about drunk driving than Red Asphalt ever would have.

Overall this lady was incredibly lucky considering the choices she made. They landed in probably the softest dirt in the valley, on a back road where there wasn’t anyone else to injure. She wasn’t hurt, she landed in the nicest people’s field, where she probably won’t have to have consequences for destroying crops or property, and she was found by a retired first responder (my dad). If you’re going to make poor life choices, that’s probably the best possible outcome. 

Look at how little visible damage was done in the soft sandy soil! So lucky!

Plus, here in Idaho they don’t take drunk driving very seriously at all, which greatly infuriated me to find out, but I digress. 

Anyways, it took them several hours to get the car pulled up on the road, because the dirt was so soft, the damage was not as bad as it could have been but the amount of “stuck” the car was proved incredible. It was also super warm so the poor tow truck driver was simply not having a great time. But we had a pretty good time watching it all happen.

Anyways, that’s been pure crazy set of nonsense for the week. Always something new on the farm. At least most of my stories end with “and everyone was okay”. 

Until we chat again my friends.

Tsch Tsch Tsch

Hello friends!

What a week. I unfortunately got pretty sick again this week, but I think mostly due to the very long hours at work and the weather and pollen counts. It’s not been the most fun so I don’t have a huge amount to report. 

My dad and Christopher were able to get some of the sprinkler lines up and running in the pasture finally. It’s so late in the season, but the weather just hasn’t been cooperating lately. But there’s few things more “spring-like ” than watching the sprinklers run for the first time. I used to love watching the hand pulls and wheel lines start sputtering to life when I was younger, after an early morning helping my uncle with the irrigation. I remember sneaking around trying to get dressed quietly so I didn’t wake the whole house, how my uncle did it was beyond me, but I really wanted to help move pipe in the morning so little Amanda would get up at 3:30 or 4 am. Now I do it for work all the time and, to be honest, still not a morning person at all. I dunno, it never stuck. I can do it, but I’m not built for it.

But I love the sound of the sprinklers moving along. To clarify, impact head sprinklers are my favorite. They spin along on the impact of the little spring mechanism, making that trademark “tsch tsch tsch” noise that is the perfect background for a good book, or a good nap. The little arm swings in front of the water before moving away and that impact pushes the head around its spinning path. It’s a lovely rhythmic noise that screams spring to me because some of the earliest tasks when the weather warms involves getting them set up.

Unfortunately because we keep returning to the cold, late snow and freeze warnings, and nasty storms we have halted most of the spring chores. 

While I’ve been sick, I haven’t been able to ride much, as I start to cough and wheezing and it stresses out Ro. She mother hens me and while horsemanship is almost always good for the soul, it’s a little hard when neither horse is willing because mom sounds more like a velociraptor than a human. I’ve not had much of a voice at all.

So, instead of riding, I’ve started organizing the tack space. It got a little rough over the winter because someone tried to help me clean up, without telling me, and sorta completely changed everything. But it’s slowly getting back in order and the family member meant no harm. 

I’ve labeled the boxes, so I can tell where most things are, my shelves are mostly back in order, I’ve hung up my halter hooks again and I put up my “whoa” sign on the wall. I haven’t cleaned since the last dust storm though because I was trying to not completely aggravate my cough (spoiler alert: I did though). Mostly sitting down jobs for me for now. 

Speaking of signs, I can’t remember if I’ve mentioned in a previous post that we’ve had a new family hanging around that feels the need to sneakily feed my horses, so I bought some “please don’t feed” signs I need to put up (and some “my fence is hot” signs too, no leaning please, although you’d think the barbed wire would dissuade them). I’ve had horses I knew killed by well meaning families feeding recklessly over the fence, plus Nellie has a history of colic now, so it makes me nervous. Plus it’s just a super dangerous habit to teach your children, you don’t know if my horses are aggressive, maybe biters, and you don’t know if my fence is hot, which mine always is.

I’ve tried in the past to educate, and let them know that if they want to feed the horses they are always welcome to come knock and I’ll usually be able to take a quick break from work to come hang out and let your kiddos feed the girls, and most people are receptive or at least reluctantly understanding. Unfortunately this family mostly just got really upset with me. Hence the signs. I wanna be friends with my neighbors, but more importantly I don’t want humans or horses hurt and if they find that offensive, well, I’ve hit an age where it’s no longer important to me to be liked. You can be the sweetest peach…. etc, etc, ad nauseum.

Watson having a nervous cuddle during a storm

Problem is, for now, I haven’t really felt well enough to stand out in the winds and rains to put them all up…. So my porch is a no feeding zone. It’ll come in time.

Anyways, I think I need some more warm tea, so I’ll end this here.

Until we Chat again my friends 


Hello friends!

Can I just tell you about some of the crazy clouds we’ve had lately? I know that sounds like a dull topic but my mom is originally from Nebraska so watching weird clouds with a suspicious eye is ingrained. Even when we lived in the Puget Sound, where severe weather literally never happens, we were taught to watch the skies.

We had the most amazing shelf cloud roll over the other day, it was super windy and gross outside so I took pictures through the windows. We had just gotten inside, see, I had gotten home from running errands and hopped in the shower to get the day off, was just brushing my hair when my dad cam running in (which never happens, with the layout of the house, usually he will just get my attention by calling from the dining space and ask me to come to the kitchen when I have a chance, or he will knock at the door to my room so he doesn’t startle me at my desk, he never just runs in). He was worried about the horses in the pasture and he was right. Behind that shelf cloud was a major set of winds and rain.

Yesterday we had some major clouds as well, and funnily enough, it went a little opposite. I looked out at one while cooking and thought, “oh, that’s a crazy storm”. So I stepped outside to investigate, pulled the radar and my weather map up on my phone, consulted the birds and my girls, and the general consensus was that this giant wall of storms sure looked like it was going to bypass us. Remember, I live off the side of the valley floor, so a lot of times I watch storms roll up and down the valley without being affected. I figured this was going to be one of those cases so I walked back inside, finished cooking my meal, and sat down to eat. I had the spoon halfway to my mouth for the first bite when our emergency alert tone went off. 

Those alerts are pretty accurate so I immediately changed tactics and went running out to bring the animals in and to batten down the hatches where I could. Unfortunately I was, and am, the only one in the house not majorly sick (this flu is awful this year) so while Christopher came down to help, I mostly just ran around doing things myself. I even took a small video, but WordPress and I are having a bit of an argument about it, so no promises it actually plays.

I think the girls are better weather barometers than anything else because while they usually come into the barn area fairly nicely, they do it with a quickness in a storm. Sometimes they will come in and attempt to close their own gate if they think I am being too slow because there’s been a few times I’ve misjudged the weather and ended up having to get them to the barn in a microburst or something.

Anyways, just as I got inside as the rain started to hit and it quickly got so bad it knocked out cell service and satellite. It was so loud that we could hardly hold a conversation, and we mostly just sat inside hoping passed quickly. We also ended up having quite a bit of hail, but luckily it didn’t get as big as they said so we didn’t end up with any serious hail damage.

Poor Joe especially hates the thunder, he gets very stressed out. He came and tackled me shortly before all this went down, at the time I was a little miffed because 100lbs of dog flying at my face was not fun, but I realized he was hearing the thunder in the distance and needed me to know immediately that this was a problem.Joe rarely actually tackles me intentionally, so you know he’s serious.

The emergency alert tones went off for most of the afternoon and into the evening as the storm slowly crawled through the valley. The dogs got used to the sound and that it seemed to go off before more thunder and rain so they would get all antsy when it would sound off again. I also realized that the horses can hear that noise, as I could hear it down at the barn as well, and I noticed they were starting to work out that it wasn’t a good noise as well. I guess that’s a good thing, maybe eventually I can get the dogs to head to their crates when that noise goes off and the horses to the barn. Either way, it’s a shrill noise that they now know is important.

The alerts also managed to go off every time I sat down to eat, and you have to get up and tune the channel in usually to get the information, so the amount of food I spilled Sunday evening was unreal.

We were lucky, the only damage was a washed out driveway and some minor flooding around the barn, some people in the area had more severe hail and thus hail damage as well as wind damage. I am, once again, so grateful we replaced the old roof with metal a couple summers ago.

Until we chat again, my friends!

The Nerdy Owl is a Know-It-Owl

Hello friends!
It’s very early in the morning. I’m awake because a hoot owl has taken to slowly circling the house and, unsurprisingly, hooting in the early morning hours.
Its supremely unsettling. I tend to wonder if it’s to upset the dogs, or if there’s vermin in the bushes around the house that he wants, but either way, being able to follow his path and knowing exactly when he’s outside your window…its unsettling.
This last fall, when I would be sitting at my desk later in the evening, I would often get the impression that I was being watched. My desk sits under the window, across the way from the window is some tall Arborvitae bushes and down a bit is a tree (possibly an Locust tree? Dunno) who’s branches reach out closer to the window. Well, the hoot owl learned that if he sat on top of the Arborvitae or in the outer tree branches, well, he could see right into my room. So several nights in a row I’d get an ominous feeling, start to hear the hooting, and I would look up from my desk just to make eye contact with him. Needless to say (but I’ll say it anyway) I started closing my blinds shortly after sunset, no matter what. Previously I’d just sorta waited until the next time I got up to stretch, but now its been made a priority all its own.
I’ve been told that seeing an owl peer through your window is good luck. It doesn’t particularly feel like good luck to have a large predatory bird staring at you while you work. Especially when you have a very small dog sleeping on your lap (admittedly, I don’t think the owl could see Watts under the blanket under the desk but still). So, I thought I’d look it up and see.

One of the owls in the parliament (I can’t tell you how difficult this shot was to get, but I respected the owls space and comfort and used a huge zoom)

(It’s at this point that I tell you my “research” consisted of a Google search, this was in no way thesis level work and you should probably double check what I’ve written before proudly declaring it at your next party/meeting/carpool.)
Looks like, based on the first three links of my Google search, that owls are associated with the night, death, and fear just about as often as they are associated with bravery and good omens. It also seems to be a fairly even split, on cursory look, amongst the Native American populations as it varies wildly by tribe.
In a more blanket “spiritual” sense a lot of religious and spiritual groups seem to see the owl as a sign of good fortune and wealth, and one looking in your window is meant to bring joy and comfort. But I could seem to parse exactly why they hold that belief.
Look, I don’t know if I felt comforted at all about an owl outside my window and I don’t think I believe in lucks and omens and signs. I do believe I will keep a better eye on my small beans as they go through their morning routines. Especially as this owl gets bolder and has started yelling when I turn on my light in the morning. In fact, he’s chewing me out as we speak. I’m meant to let the dogs out for their morning business in about an hour, I always stand out there with them anyway (I never let my beans out at any time of the day without supervision, as I don’t have a fence and they all grew up with a fenced yard, and even if that wasn’t the case, there’s just too many dangers for them to navigate on their own), but honestly, I’m kinda thinking we might push it back a bit. Watson is really owl dinner sized, and this owl has already buzzed family members, so it’s clear he has no regard for humans. Just yesterday he watched me take the boys out and softly hooted from a nearby tree. I have only ever seen this owl from a great distance in the daylight but I know he gets fairly close at night, under the cover of darkness. So I think outside time with the boys will be a two or more person job for the foreseeable future. Safety in numbers maybe, that way we can always have an eye out.

Nellie looking amazing.

We’ve had some other visitors around the farm too that have made the boys and I varying levels of nervous. There was a lone coyote around, maybe still is, dunno, that was getting a little bold and twice I ended up grabbing dogs and hauling them up on the porch and into the house with a quickness. I don’t know if he’s brave enough to try to steal or take on one of my dogs, but I don’t care to test it. I worry about Cordelia, the chickens, and the horses, but Cordelia spends most of her early mornings safely in the rafters of the equipment shed, the chickens are in the coop at night, and while the mares have run of the arena and corral at night, I am pretty sure my girls would win with a coyote, and I’d hear about it fast enough to get down there in help. Basically, I only worry my citified little canine pack because they don’t know any better and I get the distinct impression they would want to make friends.
We’ve also had a skunk hanging around. You can tell because of the way the farm often smells. Theres enough variety of critters around here that the skunk seems to regularly need to defend itself, or at least announce itself, and while I’ve not laid eyes on a skunk since my first year here (when one walked out from under my car and I called my boss to say I’d be late as I hauled to the house) I have absolutely no doubt this guy exists.
The deer have been more hit or miss but I know they’re around too. You can sometimes see their glowing green eyes in the grass and sometimes they still come down to watch me feed in the evenings. There are still tracks and droppings in my yard and evidence they’ve been snacking occasionally on my hay. So, they clearly don’t feel too threatened.
Well, the hoot owl seems to have chilled out, and I’m thinking it’s about time I started work for the day. Keep an eye out for critters on your morning walk, lemme know if you see anything cool!
Until we chat again my friends!