Thursday, September 21, 2017

Mr. Morris has a Bucket List


My long time pal Morris is showing more decline as the days go on. He can't see well any more. He isn't sure how far down in his bowl the water is, so he starts to drink in the air and carefully lowers his face down into the bowl.

If I move my buckets of flowers around he will either growl at them or walk into them at night.

We smile and assist him in most things because that is what we do. Treat the elderly with kindness and love.
Yesterday I was working on a an old milk can. I spray painted it white and left it near a stump in the yard to dry.
Morris came out and growled. He walked towards it with stiff legs and all his hair raised on his back.
I was amused but realized that it was probably not funny in his world.

He is losing weight gradually but still is eager to walk the neighbor kids home from school. He asked to be carried our last time out on the last leg of the walk. I obliged. He is enthusiastic with the children and conks out on the couch when he gets home.
More and more he starts out a hike with me and turns around and goes back to the house and to sit on the back step or the porch. Our outings will involve a bit of assistance from now on.
His mobility is just fine.
He likes cuddling or sitting in my lap more often. In fact every morning he asks to sit on my lap while I browse the news and have some coffee.
In the past he always entertained himself by dumping all of his toys out and spreading them throughout the house.

So the other day he laid out his plan for his own personal Bucket List.



Morris ~~~

Car rides. More car rides. I like car rides. 

Mule Rides. I want to take some more rides on mules.

Hikes. I like hikes. But I get tired like when I was a pup. So I want a doggie back pack.

Tractor Rides. I like them too. 

A good book to read. Or someone can read it to me...

Another sleep over with my best life time friend...

NO more puppy training! Please!

A ride in the new skid steer with the Grumpy Guy.

Cookies. I like cookies. Lots of dog cookies.

A nice quiet place to sleep. Oh wait. I have that.


Another cool trip with Her.

Lots and lots of love.

When I think of more...
I will add some.


Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Tree Stand~ The Sequel

Once upon a time about 7 years ago, on November 19th, 2010 to be exact my husband decided to put up one of those neat fancy cool tree stand thingies.

It is called a Tree Stand.
I wrote about how I thought a hateful woman had invented the Tree Stand to simply get rid of her husband easily in a hunting misfortune. Misfortune my ass.
They are built to kill you while putting them up.

This new fangled Tree Stand was brought by our good friends from K-town. It is a 2 person Tree Stand.
I am sorry but I have a hard time dealing with a one person stand yet alone trusting my weight and one other person's to a TWO person Tree Stand. Add deer rifles and you get another level of excitement.

First you unpack the thing and put most of it together on the ground. Haul it out with a skid steer and a 4 wheeler. Oh, and don't forget an audience.


Poke around with the pieces for a bit and see where in the heck they do fit. Scratch your head and swat at the mosquitoes that have decided to come and watch - no doubt they were texting their other bug friends to come and watch the free show.

After one failed attempt to get it up into the tree. Threaten to shoot it.


Okay the guy in camo is not going to shoot anything. It just looked like it when I took the shot with my cell phone.
Here we are all pondering the next step.

Next step. Climb the tree with a tree climbing thingy and pull it up with a rope.


Sounds great! I was astounded. Sort of. I never saw tree climbing thing like this.


Even Scout was amazed or like me, confused.

As the light kept fading and it kept getting darker, things kept on track. There was a lot of sweating but no cursing as the kids had come up from the creek to join in the adventure too.


I stayed out of the way as I'd be absolutely no help what-so-ever.

After some tense moments the tree stand was hauled upright and sort of held in place as my husband held the stand while the other guy climbed up to secure it.

Now there were two wives biting their nails and getting a bit worked up. Both of us were pleading with the hard headed men folk to wait until daylight to finish the job!
My husband was pretty quiet during most of this as he was the guy on the ground holding the extremely flimsy ladder that was not attached to anything while the other male climbed up and strapped the seat to the tree.

I kept checking to see if I had any 'bars' on my cell phone. Nope. In order to call 911 I'd have to sprint to the top of the ridge. I took a few deep breaths and hoped the Tree Stand Gods would allow this to be erected.
I even thought of what sort of sacrifices I could make to said Tree Stand Gods to make sure the job finished safely ... in the twilight.


No sacrifices were made and surprisingly the guys decided it was too dark to continue, but the Two Person Tree Stand was now anchored.

And we headed back towards the house with the lights of the skid steer to guide us.
Yes indeed. The Sequel to putting up the second tree stand was almost as tense as the first one many years ago. But with the kids there the cussing was held to a minimum. And we no longer had the donkey contingency to watch us. However I'm sure the Dexter Cattle would have loved to give their opinion on the matter.

My friends went back early the next morning before they left and finished up securing the Tree Stand.

On Monday I went back to scout the area out. Hmmm.

Well bust my britches.
The view from the top of the stand was incredible.


And I didn't feel like I'd fall down either. I mulled things over and then took another photo down the ridge road in the other direction.
Well, hot diggity dog!


The powers that be completely misnamed this Hunting Tree Stand Thing. It should be more mobile and called "The Photography Tree Stand Thingy."


Okay. Well maybe it wouldn't be such a bad thing after all.



Dang it All to ...

Well dang it all to heck and back.

I'm not going to really whine about this too much. Hmmm. Maybe I will. It seems that osteoarthritis has crept into my life. Well at least into my hands.
I of course figured that it wouldn't happen to me.

Stupid me. I sort of knew it would. My Grandmother Pearl had twisted gnarly hands and she barely whispered a word about it. I'd see her gardening, crocheting, sewing, and doing all those normal things with her beat up hands. At the time I admired those well worn hands and said something to her about it.
In all her infinite wisdom that I never learned...she replied, "Oh I don't think you want these hands. Some days they don't do so well."
She said this as she was artfully cleaning a fish with quick skilled movements.

My mom began to suffer the same fate as did her sisters. Arthritis crept up on their hands deforming them and sometimes twisting the joints.

Over the past year or so, my hands began to ache a lot. Certain movements hurt. Grasping things was painful. My left thumb continued to hurt making grasping door knobs a real chore. In fact when we remodeled, I had handles put on the door that I could just push down on.

Opening a jar can be tricky. Using an old fashioned can opener can be a trying feat. Over the winter my hands became worse. I developed Herberden's Nodes on the ends of my fingers. As those nodes develop, the pain is quite intense. I recall my father showing me the tips of his fingers and telling me that once the bump was formed, it stopped hurting, so it wasn't so terribly bad.
Oh, he was not kidding!

So this summer those wonderful little nodes pretty much quit hurting and I was able to get along except for the thumb issue. Sometimes at night, I'd fall asleep with a cold pack wrapped around the left hand. It numbed things enough so I could sleep.
Peeling apples for apple crisp last month made the pain nearly unbearable. So I decided to see how I could process apples without causing myself a lot of pain. Easier to make jelly, juice, and apple sauce than to peel apples.
Plus I got a food mill which helped tremendously.

Brushing the mules out for riding was even a bit difficult, but I decided worth the pain.

I sort of knew what may be going on with the hands. Goodness knows I've seen it in my grandmother, my mom, and my dad. However my fingers are not being deformed much.

So when my doctor and I looked over the hand X-ray results, I was sort of surprised. There it was osteoarthritis in both hands. No fingers were left unscathed.
The left thumb showed degenerative joint 'disease'. Oh. Ick.
Mostly it means that the hands will slowly get a bit worse as I get older.

Now dammit, how did I get older? In my mind I am about 30! I look in the mirror and see that older person looking back at me. She disappears when I take my glasses off. She looks much younger after I take a shower and peer at her in a fogged up mirror.

My doctor recommended that I see Occupational Therapy for exercises to strengthen my left hand and to see how they could suggest non drug like therapies to lessen the aches and pains. I am all for that. Our local clinic has an excellent PT/OT department and they have helped me quite a bit in the past.

How am I going to 'deal' with this? Well, now that I have a name and a cause for the pain, I will not quit doing things or baby my hands. The pain is not indicative of something that will harm me.
It is simply wear and tear. I need to work out how to do some things smarter and need to be aware of the "Use it or Lose it" theory. If I stop doing things with my hands, or I stop being active ... I will be in more pain and more health problems will arise.
If the body stops moving, it will destroy itself.

My doctor said that if the thumb issue got too bad she would send me to a hand specialist to explore injections [eeks!] and perhaps surgery [eek gads! NO!]. She said she had a patient who went through the surgical procedure and the recovery and PT time took about 6 months. No thank you!

This is not earth shattering but it will include some minor changes for me.

Yes, I think my father was correct. Aging is not for sissies.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Apples. Simply delicious!

A friend of mine visited this weekend and they enjoyed some of our apple jelly and applesauce.

I explained to him that I'd picked apples and made apple juice and canned it. I also use the juice to make jelly. The pulp gets run through a mill and I use that to make applesauce.

He asked me to send him a recipe. So here is my method that is really quite simple.

Picking the apples.
I know~basic~ but I took some photos while up in the tree. I enjoyed the view in the tree!

The only thing I will do different next time is get a bag to sling over my shoulder so I won't have to climb up and down the ladder as much.



I wash the apples then cut them in half and dump them in a large pan. I add a little bit of water to the pan. It is an experiment. Sources on the 'internet' say to cover the apples. I find that makes the juice a bit watery. I found a happy medium of just adding enough water to get the apples to steam up.


I take an apple smusher aka a potato masher and mash the apples. I let them simmer on low for about 15 minutes.



I ladle the mushy stuff into a strainer and let it drain. I don't push on the mush too hard as I want some nice clear juice. Another method is to use is straining it through some material. I like to use an old cotton pillow case cut up. It gives the clearest juice.


Once you have your juice you can decide if you want to make jelly or simply can the juice. I use Sure-Jell to make the jelly. If I feel like making jelly this winter, I simply can the juice in a hot water bath for the recommended time.
I just canned a gallon of apple juice so I will have plenty to either drink or use to make jelly.

I believe the Sure-Jell recipe calls for 7 cups of apple juice.

I decided to run the leftover pulp through my food mill. It did a nice job of getting rid of the seeds and skins.


Since I had a ton of other things to do during this day, I added the pulp to my crockpot, added some sugar and some cinnamon to taste and set the crockpot on low.

That evening the applesauce was hot enough and had cooked enough to can.

From the tree to the shelf in about one day.


Oh and let's not forget that apples do very well in the dehydrator!

Monday, September 18, 2017

The Sunrise Club


Thank goodness the sun rises later in September. It makes it slightly easier to get up and out to certain places for a 'sunrise' adventure.

Our friends arrived late Friday night from the east side of the state. I love their visits. It means there will be a crazy fast and furious weekend of trying to do a million things.
I think they have fallen in love with this portion of Wisconsin. I must admit when I did the very same thing about 20 some years ago. I did the crazy thing of driving to visit Rich on Friday nights after work and spent until late Sunday afternoon enjoying his company and this area.
Until I realized that I would just move here and it would solve a lot of my traveling and driving issues.

I never looked back. And I am happy I did.

Anyway we were up early. Daryl came quietly down the stairs. The coffee was brewing and I was thumbing through my Smarty Pants Phone checking the Nautical Dawn, Civilian Dawn times and the actual sunrise times for one of the county parks I like to visit through an app called Sun Locator Lite.
Amanda came down the stairs, then Evelyn was next and finally Grace came down the stairs.

Ready? Ready.
We piled into the Subaru and headed out.

When we came down the steep road into the valley and made the bend everyone in the car said, "Wow!" in some sort of form. There is a curve that allows you to peak at the man made lake just before it reveals itself.
Yeah, it is breath taking every time I see it. And I have not become immune to it.

We parked and everyone stepped out at once, scattering quickly to get the 'best' view. The Sunrise Club had arrived. Only this time we weren't in PJ's!

I wanted to be everywhere at once but couldn't. I stood next to the car and admired the colors as the daylight began to make the area glow with light.


Having the place essentially to yourself is another bonus.
Look!
No parking issues!

We eventually migrated to the floating fishing dock and watched the skies change.

Time for a bit of goofing around.


Even the girls found interesting things to do.

And I discovered my 'best' shot of the weekend because of that. Nope, it wasn't the spectacular scenery or the incredible colors. No, it wasn't something like that at all.
It was one of Daryl's daughters playing with some wild flowers she picked.

This shot made the morning for me. I photographed it in color, but the but in my mind saw it as black and white.

Once I took a series of her picking up the flowers and setting them back on the lake's calm surface, I sat back.

My morning couldn't have been any better. I got the shot of the day. I was satisfied. This image struck me as a powerful one.

I wanted to jump up and down and shout out, "I got it!"
But I didn't. Although my friends would have totally understood it if I had.

The clouds moved in and the sun disappeared.

Time to end our morning adventure and head back to the farm.




Saturday, September 16, 2017

The usual suspects...

Siera, the dark bay mule with the funky brand on her shoulder.

I told my grand daughter that Siera was bi polar. Not mean bi polar. Just sometimes she was happy and sometimes she was not happy. Her attitude can go from ho-hum to giving you cranky looks.
Here she stands off to the side looking a bit ugly at her pasture mates. She is consistent in this manner.
Hay is coming, time to stand off and look ugly!


The red heads and Fred. Poor Fred or is it lucky Fred? He is stuck in a pasture with all females.
Poor Fred.

The red headed sisters are their own little clique. They as a rule don't hang with the bay mules, Fred and Siera. They are usually paired off together. They will even lay down and sleep side by side.
I can take Sunshine out and go riding and Sunshine never pays attention to her screaming half sister. She walks away as if Sundance didn't exist.

Mica.
It must be awful to be the only grey flea bit mule.

She truly is shunned by the other mules. She hangs out just near enough to the other mules but it seems as if the other mules are prejudice against her color. Odd isn't it?

Fred cries and fusses for all of the other 'gals' when I remove them from the pasture, but remains mum when Mica comes out with me.

We'll see how this new herd dynamic works out come next spring. I wonder if it will be the same?
Fifteen will be joining them soon so things should get interesting.

School will be back in session for 15 and Sundance once the weather cools down.




Friday, September 15, 2017

Mules, Pigs, Apples, and Stars


Here is to hoping that Rich and Mica stay out of semi retirement from mule riding. Mica is about 21 years old and has always been a 'hard' keeper. However she had a hard job in her younger years. She was a 'heeler' and a trail mule. After we acquired her she was used for trail riding and team penning.

The view from Mica is different than any other mule I have ridden.
I could really like this view...a lot!
Mica gets a little grain in the morning and a little bit at night. None of our other mules really need grain. They can stare at a piece of grass or some hay and gain weight.

I plan on riding Mica much more this fall. She is tall enough to get me through those thick weeds in the valley. After she and I break open a trail, I'll rotate with Sunshine and Siera. Fred gets a break after all of his hard work training youngsters this summer. Although he will put up a huge fuss if he is left behind.

Apples.
After juicing the wild apples the old fashioned way.

I took the left over pulp and ran it through a food mill.


And viola! I had the makings of apple sauce or apple butter.
I put the apple sauce in the crock pot with some cinnamon and sugar to slow cook while I canned 4 quarts of apple juice.
Now common sense would say that it is less work and easier just to buy apple products, but there is some sort of satisfaction in making it yourself.


Pigs.
Swine.
Vernon County Fair.

Regarding Pigs. Hmm. Well we purchase our hay from a local farmer and have for 9 years now. I met this farmer through work. Rich and Ed hit things off right away and have been friends ever since.
Ed's daughters started to show swine at the Fair along with other projects.

This year Rich and I actually went to the Fair specifically to watch the Swine judging. Rich has not been to a Fair in a very long time.


I'd forgotten how intense showing an animal at the fair can be. Months of work are then judged in an arena with a lot of people watching. The judge looks over the animals and places them.


Learning how to walk a pig and show off your pig is really quite the task. Just say I was very impressed. I'd seen the farmer's girls raise these pigs and train them.

Stars.
Last summer Lily asked me if we could see the Milky Way. So I've done a bit of studying including using a program that would show me the location of the Milky Way on any given day.
I studied and practiced in taking photos of it too.

I wanted Lily to know that indeed the Milky Way does shine right above "Grandma and Grandpa's" house.






I obviously need more practice for 'shooting' stars, but as always, ... I love a challenge.