Thursday, May 31, 2012

Battered, but not beaten...

Natureman and I feel like we’ve been in a fight and we honestly didn’t see it coming. Bottom line is that some days one just shouldn’t leave the End of the Rainbow Valley… The day started out cloudy with some dark threatening clouds in the distance… but that didn’t deter my man’s optimistic cycling intentions even after I heard predictions of light afternoon showers and evening rain. When I returned home from Jazzercise and some morning errands, there were those bikes ready to go on the back of his car. Natureman gets an idea and he’s like a dog with a bone… He had also prepared a yummy garden salad (ours really does come from our garden) to win me over and we were off to get on the bike path called 7 Bridges, a 6 mile ride to the Trempeleau Hotel. It’s a scenic hotel situated by the Mississippi famous for its Walnut Burgers. 

BUT… here’s the important ‘but’ - we didn’t make it. As we slowly turned off the main road for the parking area to unload the bikes, we were rear ended and within seconds our car rolled and I watched in slow motion as the front windshield crazed and shattered and said to myself ‘May G-d be with us.’ The car somehow landed back on its wheels ??? All of the front window crunched and the side windows of the car had blown out and glass was everywhere.
I looked over to Natureman and the roof seemed crunched closer to his slumped body but he was calling my name to see if I was OK. I can’t tell you how relieved I was to hear him… I was able to open my side door and get out as he also crawled out through the passenger side. I yelled to the young driver of the other car to call 911. Police and medics were on the scene in minutes. I had wrapped my jacket around Natureman’s lower arm gash where I saw bone and finally got him to lay down even though he insisted he was fine. I was glad that he couldn’t see how bad it was. My hand was covered in glass and blood and remembering my Girl Scouting first aid, I doused it with the bottle of drinking water and held it up high to stop the bleeding. As I lay on the ground, I could see the bikes strewn along the main road a couple hundred yards apart and the totalled car. After an ambulance ride and 4 hours in the ER 43 stitches between the 2 of us, Natureman with almost all of those, we are bruised and sore but happy to be alive. The new driver was charged with inattentive driving… ya think? I think we'll be 'staying put' awhile in the End of the Rainbow Valley...

Batter, batter, batter ...

Batter, batter, batter... And not the kind made with flour and water CUZ 'country' folk defintely love their baseball whether it's playing the game/ watching it. There are busy baseball fields no matter where you turn. Irv's boys, Simon and Sam both played on a diamond that really was next to a corn field like the movie "Field of Dreams," I swear. Well anyway as I was driving home Tuesday the radio station listed where all the high school ball teams would be playing and I caught that DeSoto would be playing in Stoddard which is just right down the road from us.
So when Natureman mentioned a drive and picnic dinner, I suggested the ball park 5 miles away since I knew there was a late afternoon game and I knew DeSoto has a good reputation sportswise. There's no better place to be part of the local culture than a baseball park. Kids look the same anywhere and were donning sweatshirts and jeans as the temp had really dropped into the low 50's yet some girls were in their short shorts just 'cuz it had been hot 2 days ago. We shared the picnic table space with some old timers that probably make these spring games part of their daily social life chowing down hot dogs and chips. How many places do you go that jackets advertise Holsteins and tractors? We caught the last couple of innings as we ate Natureman's famous potato salad with a turkey sandwich and a nice cold root beer. Life doesn't get much better than this.

Oh, by the way DeSoto shut out their competition boys : final score 9-0 , girls 6-0 Way to go DeSoto Pirates! We'll talk more about battering next entry...

Wednesday, May 30, 2012


Something smells… and it’s not the neighbors spreading cow manure on their field. Some people have accused me of having overdeveloped senses but let’s just say I am observant. So if it’s a hawk/owl perched perusing the chicken coop or a new jack in the pulpit roadside, I take notice.

My children and students swore that I had eyes in the back of my head but I think that’s a Mother thing, don't you? I usually wish that I didn’t hear as much as I do as in TMI (too much information) in a classroom or the birds’s deafening 4 am morning cacophony when I’d like to wring their little necks since 5/5:30 is an early enough wake-up call. The packs of coyotes that run through the valley with a full moon can also get unnerving as Romeo starts howling with them. And Natureman sleeps right through it all. He has also called my sense of smell too sensitive. I can smell a sour rag before it would bother most people, when a cake/bread’s done, the earthy smell of spring... You get the idea, a bit 'too' attuned. So when we returned to a warm, closed up house after being gone all day Memorial Day, I started opening windows as soon as I walked in. We were promised cooler evening temps and I guess I had gotten a bit too much sun. The stuffiness was alleviated but there was a smell...How could that be? We had visited the dump on Saturday before heading out of town so how could something smell so bad in one day? OK, it was hot on Sunday so I decided to remove the kitchen garbage and place it in the garage if it was the culprit. House fans were flipped on as was the kitchen exhaust fan. Was the smell coming from outside and wafting in? I put my sniffer to work but alas I couldn’t find the source. I got diverted, forgot about it, went to bed and when I awoke I was relieved to not find the smell in the kitchen... but it seemed to permeate in the entrance hallway. I was leaving and would have to search later. Upon my return Natureman met me, anxious to share some news…(See now I knew it was bad since he smelled it too!) Natureman had found the source of the smell. Nope it wasn’t in the furnace room but as he moved the entranceway table near the door to the garage, there was the mousetrap with its victim who had been held captive long enough to start smelling. Yuckola.
I am really glad to know where that mouse trap had disappeared. You just never know why things disappear in the End of Rainbow Valley. I'm so glad that I had set the 'Better Mousetrap' with peanut butter, not cheese...

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Parting is such sweet sorrow... more Goodbyes.

This long holiday weekend continues to be filled with different types of goodbyes. Today will be another type of farewell as one ‘kid’ will say good bye to some privates as he has already started trying to mount his sister. Imagine that, incest on the farm! I have read about this type of thing. 
At a week old he's already ‘horny’? Gee willikers... BUT'T' this also leads to that next procedure which I mentioned in the Read at Your own Risk post, the de-budding (remember that’s the searing of those horn buds so that they don’t butt each other.)The de-
budder looks like an old curling iron, doesn't it? 
I was ready yesterday morning to lessen my angst of the kids and momma goats hating me forever. Those innocent ? Baby kids's bleating is sooooo 'seared' on my brain too. I don't think their Moms ever really trust me again but Irv said that he couldn’t perform the procedures as he has to prepare emotionally. Oh OK... Tuesday it will be. I can't wait.(She adds sarcastically.) I think G-d must have known to prepare me at an early age for these types of surgical procedures as I would accompany my Anatomy professor Dad at 4 years old to operate on lab mice. I really never was squeamish but rather intrigued since I didn’t know those four-legged rodents. BUT I do see these 'kids' every day... OK -Back to the castration, techniques vary but some people rubber band the testicles to tie off circulation to the area - Eegads are you guys crossing your legs?  

I would if you ever see Natureman with a sharp blade in hand... Anyhow, we do a quicker procedure where the sac is placed on a ceramic tile and slit with a razor blade followed by a quick squeezing of the gonads out and then using the razor to detach them. The sac is then tied shut with dental floss. Think about that next time you floss. Just kidding. You luck out that I can't video bc who’d hold the goats while Natureman slits/sears? You really didn't want visuals, did you? Goodbye horns and privates. What did Shakespeare say - Parting is such sweet sorrow... 

We also had another farewell this holiday weekend for my friend Cheryl and her hubby Pete as we were included in her neighborhood's bar-b-que. I was informed that the metal rooster donning her garden shed was still awaiting a new home. Cheryl's next door neighbor graciously lent us a ladder (BTW making him an accomplice) and suggested using the rooster as a hood ornament for the Miata. Thus the rooster had a fun ride home as he 'crowed' goodbye to Apple Valley and now will make his new home in the End of the Rainbow Valley. At least he doesn't have to worry about being castrated. He has 'balls of steel.' Cock a doodle doo.

Saturday, May 26, 2012


Today was a bittersweet day as Natureman and I journeyed to the Twin Cities( MSP/ St Paul ) to bid my youngest brother Keith and his family farewell as they will be relocating to Dallas after the school year ends. Of course, we wish them well in their new environs but will miss their presence at their alternate years' attendance at our Thanksgiving table and of course Melanie, my sister-in- law’s cranberry chutney. :) We’ve been able to see 2 of my nephews, Noah and Elliott, grow into nice young men.

Elliott'll be heading off to U of Mo in the fall too. My how time flies. It’s been great for me to have some of my family nearby... The reality is most Americans don’t stay put in one place as a NPR program was stating. We move to where the jobs are and that’s just the way it is more so than any other country. I am part of those statistics myself as I moved for a spouse’s job to Charleston, SC, Denver, CO, El Paso. TX, Chicago, IL, Iowa City, IA, Little Rock, AR and Milwaukee, WI. My last move was outside of La Crosse, WI to Chaseburg still because of a guy, but not his job. This guy is attached to the land we call End of the Rainbow Valley and we’re not mooving any time soon…

Friday, May 25, 2012


Sometimes one finds some really special gems along the path... One of these is a unique business set in the middle of the countryside appropriately named 'Down a Country Road' outside the town of Cashton. The landowners took hunting/fishing cabins individualizing them into a variety of shoppes painted different colors surrounded by lovely seasonal gardens sprinkled with whimsical yard art. Most of the yard art is not for sale. Why is it one covets something that belongs to someone else the most? LOL. There are even outhouses with interior decorating. Behind the cabin shops you can see the 'real' barn and cows. I told you this was a novel shopping experience. Inside the cabins are shoppers’s delights - Amish goods, shabby chic novelties.... an ice cream shoppe, jams, jellies, food stuff, tourist kitsch... fun stuff.
Great signage to add humor to your day like : "Your husband called and said you can buy anything you want..." SO, Maybe the men wouldn't be so crazy about a shopping stop but it's a good girl's outing when you are traveling east of Cashton on 33. There are even Amish tours offered from there.
Speaking of which I happen to give my own ridge Amish tour version which includes stops at furniture makers, seasonal veggie gardens, a bakery, homemade foods like egg noodles, jams, candy, etc... BUT my most favorite country road to go down is the one that leads me home to the End of the Rainbow Valley...

Thursday, May 24, 2012


Some days are more special than others and yesterday was one of them as I left the End of the Rainbow Valley to help my friend Yun celebrate her birthday. Yun will be returning to her homeland China soon and there’s something that she hasn’t experienced- so we headed to Cashton, a town of a 1000 + to spend the afternoon with 120 pregnant females… Yep, how many of you have been surrounded by that many with raging hormones all under one roof? You see we visited Diane, a Jazzercise buddy and her dairy farm with 120 milking cows, 11 calves and 130 grazing cows. (FYI as far as I know Diane's hormones weren't raging she has been haying.- a story for another day.)

We had a great visit seeing the life of the cow on D&D farm. First we saw the calves that are separated from their Moms at birth to be bottle fed by Diane. There goes a couple hours out of your day...
Remember, this is a dairy farm and you don’t want to affect the farm's 9000 pounds/day milk supply.But DANG that’s a lot of bottles for the 11 calves. Eventually the calves will be given some milk to whet their appetite before they eat other food. The calves in this photo are 2 months old. They will stay separated from the others until they reach at least 750 lbs. That’s a lot of woman! NO BULL, There are no bulls on the farm as the calf males are sold. Here’s another factoid for you - the girls even start trying to mount each other...Just thought I'd throw that in to see if you're paying attention. ANYHOW once the cows are inseminated, a log is kept to know exactly when each cow will give birth. These pg cows will be kept under one roof. They receive a special diet and rest on sand bar stalls. Tails have been cropped for sanitary reasons.( Less poop flinging) Floors are squeegied 2x/day. If a cow has an infection/whatever, they have a red tape band placed around a leg, sometimes secluded and milked with their milk not going where the others' milk is collected. Diane and her husband make sure their cows stay healthy!

Cows are milked twice a day and know the process as they head into the milking station where 16 at a time will be milked first having their teats sanitized before having a pneumatic system extract their milk.Very cool. It takes an hour and 40 minutes to milk the 120 cows. A milk truck collects each day's supply. A cow's milking life is about 10 years and then they go out to pasture.

Besides all this new knowledge about where milk comes from and new vocab like freshen and dry, Diane also sent me home with an organic liquid to apply to Unojo's hard udder with instructions to massage after application. 

Today a former masseuse friend demonstrated the best way to apply it. Let's see if I have magic fingers... AH, To milk or not to milk, that is the question.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012


It’ll be pretty obvious that I was born a city girl even if I was born in Iowa. I had many years to perfect ‘suburbia’ skills which make my ‘countrification' all the more interesting in the End of Rainbow Valley especially with regard to our farm animals. 

Today's post is about our GOATS. My children thought I needed more help and even subscribed me to a goat magazine to help me out when I first moved to the End of the Rainbow Valley. BTW those periodicals used to sit in the guest bathroom for reading material.:)
 SO - Let me introduce you to our goats: Jacqueline: who  apparently thinks the grass is greener on the other side when she has an entire pasture with these same weeds.
Jacqueline:who gave birth to Pantalones 3 weeks ago. Pantalones looks like she is wearing pants thus her given name. She is always jumping around like she is trying to pull up her pants. Jacqueline has already started giving butting lessons. Thank goodness we debud the babies before their horns start growing. I have to admit that I am an accomplice as I have to hold the baby down and still while Irv takes a hot iron to the horn buds. The smell of burning hair is soooo NASTY. The process can't be over fast enough for me and the kid!

Unojo:was purchased from the Amish to keep Jacqueline company since Louise, Jacqueline's mom passed away at 19 years last year. Unojo really just has one eye...I am not making the following up - Irv was so busy checking out her udder, he didn't notice that she was missing an eye. Is this a gender specific trait of checking out udders? Well anyway Unojo gave birth to 2 kids this past weekend. Aren't they the cutest? The female, mostly white is named Sally and the male will soon be named.

I always had male dogs growing up so I find it remarkable how these mother goats know what to do after they give birth. GEE, they clean up their newborns and within a very short period of time have those babies up and nursing. Gee I needed a whole nursing team to help me when I had my babies… The goat kids instinctively know to knock hard into their mom’s udder to signal her to let down but I noticed them switching sides frequently apparently due to a shortage of milk. Upon a quick feel it was obvious that their Mom’s udder is rock hard. Irv gave her udder a hard smack, to help her along.
OK women, now let’s be honest how would you like to be smacked in the bust when it’s super sore and hard? I don’t think so. MEN! SO- I’m finding myself holding a hot water bottle on a goat’s udder twice a day for 10 minutes. I sure hope this works. It’s an unusual job but this city gal knows that she’s got to do it…

Monday, May 21, 2012


Life in the End of the Rainbow Valley is never dull and certainly different than the first half of my life. Perhaps this is why some of my friends told me that I needed to blog. The last time I blogged was about another country, El Salvador, so welcome to my foreign 'country' life, that's not so foreign anymore...
My first topic is WOOD. The End of the Rainbow Valley is really at the end of a mile long dirt road in the back of a valley with a barn, chicken coop, two houses, the old and new house, surrounded by woods - lots and lots of trees on 44 acres. Some of you may not know that we heat with wood. That's right. Don't worry we have back up systems : a furnace, in floor heat in addition to a wood stove and our main source heat, an Ukranian stove.
The Ukranian stove is not a typical fireplace with a flue going straight up but a flue that zig zags back and forth, warming the stones which also throw out heat. One request Irv had with the new house was that we would still heat with wood. 'Natureman' wanted to continue living light on the earth, not consuming more electricity/gas than necessary. I concurred as long as he was the one chopping! Stacking, hauling and starting a fire are all skills that I have perfected although Irv does the majority of all the above. After 30 some years chopping all the wood does get old and last year we opted for slab wood to be delivered in addition to wood gathered from downed trees and recent storms. I was not, I repeat 'not' ready for the new pile to arrive before summer has even started. BUT a humongous pile greeted me when I returned home one day last week. I was not a happy camper as I just wanted to look out the window and not see wood which I equate with winter. But a man's worth in the country is his 'pile of wood' and let me tell you we are WOOD RICH. When I left the valley on Friday there was a mountain of wood needing to be stacked. When Irv told me he was planning on stacking wood while I was gone, I laughed and said jokingly "so, it will be done upon my return, right?" I never in my wildest dreams believed that 5 cords would be stacked by my return. After spending the weekend in Milwaukee I returned to this sight -
WHAT A MAN! Am I a lucky girl or what? I am certainly RICH in many ways.