Monday, July 31, 2023

July is done!


July was intense. 

Dry, smokey, moody, dusty.

We had company, we had drought, we had storms and we had intense heat.

We mowed the yard for the first time in July on the 24th. Since then we have had some rains and some parts of our state and the surrounding Midwest had intense storms.

I went on two kayaking trips and decided it was something I would love to do A lot more. I even went on line to learn more via reviews. I'd definitely love to get Charlie to go with me. He would need a lifejacket. After all, I taught him to ride the 4 wheeler with me, so perhaps we can manage a kayak together.

Most of my outdoor activity was in the early morning or late evenings. I managed to ride for a little bit almost each night [except when it was unbearably hot].

August is looming around the corner. What does it have in store for us?

Shorter days and the thought of entering fall? Hot and dry or cooler and wet? Who knows?

I can't stop time, so I will make the best of August and prepare for what follows.

Sunday, July 30, 2023

Maiden Voyage

The fella above is named Steve. There is a little background regarding Steve here: Merry Green Marvel.

This was his first 'tour' or as he called it The Maiden Tour. Last week I was supposed to do this, but communications got fouled up and because of that he invited myself and my friend for a 'no' charge tour as an apology.

Steve gave us a demonstration on how to get in and out of the sit on Kayaks, how to steer, back paddle, make figure eights, and deal with the wakes from speed boots if we encountered them.
He explained Strainers and how not to be a Noodle.
[For the heck of it a few days ago I looked up the Kayak Lingo and terms...]
Strainers are low hanging branches and a kayaker can get hung up like a noodle trying to go through them on a river current.
Dragging over logs or getting Boned is another expression -- he didn't use that though. It wouldn't have been appropriate with all female Kayakers.

We took off and headed first into the what he called the Lotus Garden.

If you have never sat near these flowers and smelled their exotic and beautiful have not lived!

I paddled along with Steve's son for part of the journey and we talked about different kinds of kayaking. He lives in Alaska and has kayaked on the ocean. Wow. The difference in lakes, rivers, and oceans are pretty big and I enjoyed hearing about them.

We paddled for around 3 hours with a break on a 'beach' along the main channel. After that, we headed down river to find another entry point into the backwaters. Or as Steve called it, the Braided Sloughs of the Mississippi which was an excellent description.

The crazies were out on the main channel with their speed boats racing up and down the river. Personally, I've never seen the fun of that.
Quiet and slow have always been my motto. Silent sports and I get along the best, although I hold nothing against those who like those sports.

How was it?


Will I do it again?
Steve's shot of me exploring the
Lotus Garden

Oh yes.


Next time? Maybe an evening paddle? 

It was a well run 'tour' which felt more like a friend taking us to see some amazing sights.

The photos were taken with my little waterproof point and shoot camera. So I didn't get great shots of the eagles or the juvie eagle...or the eagle nest and turtles.

Friday, July 28, 2023


While driving home through Mad City [Madison], we went through construction sites at rush hour. 

I was in the left lane and the car in the right lane splashed us with what I thought was mud. The wipers barely got the mud off with repeated spraying. I just figured I'd run it through the car wash the next day.

Nope. This was liquid concrete and guess what? It doesn't come off! I read up on the different ways to try and get it off. Nothing works and it scratches the finish of the vehicle. 
Nasty Stuff!

So yesterday I stopped at the local body shop and talked to the husband/wife team that ran the place. He said I could scrap it off but ruin the finish on the hood, the door, the front, and the roof of our car. The front bumper and head light would be terribly damaged and messed up. 
His suggestion was to report it to my car insurance.

Now. The car is 5 years old. I love this car. I could take the money and run, have it scraped and deal with the rust and scratches. However.
For now? I will see what the insurance has to say.
Two years ago, I had a groundhog eat my transmission line and my insurance covered that.

At least I can say that I have some really odd claims?
Groundhogs and splashing concrete!

The bent plastic by the fog light was from a parking lot incident. I have no idea how that occurred when I was at the clinic last year... but if that part needs to be replaced, I'll have a two - fer.

Frank, the gent I hired for plowing last winter also farms and has a gravel pit as well as a business that does driveways and whatnot.

He and his worker arrived yesterday morning to see what we wanted done. This shot is of his bulldozer parked in the lower driveway. This section of driveway has no base left and becomes a mud sucking pit each spring. 

I have to park on the ridge or park on the hill and walk with groceries to the house. It would be nice not to have to deal with that next spring. He will dig out the culverts on the hill driveway and level out a place next to the back door for me to park and for vehicles to turn around.

What the driveway looks like during the thaw. View from the house:

These improvements have been needed for a long time. Hubby kept putting it off thinking he'd do it himself. The last time we had any real work done, it was in 2007 and that was on the hill. Nothing has been done to the lower drive since we bought the place.

2007 work:

This is sort of exciting. 

It pays to stay local and seek out someone who you know to do the work. Frank lives close enough to be called a neighbor. We've been neighbors since he was a young man. 

The work that was done in 2007 was from another local friend that has since retired from his work for the county. That was a huge undertaking and has really kept the hill driveway from washing out over the years.

As a bonus, Frank noted that two pines near the house were dying. He commented that he'd just push them down with the bulldozer. I said that was fine too. However I couldn't cut it up. I'd hack off my legs with a chainsaw.

He looked at his co-worker and said that they'd do that and haul it away. They could use the wood for the outdoor wood heater he'd purchased for his shop.

Well now. That seems like a good deal to me!

Wednesday, July 26, 2023

I got "Karened"


For real. I got yelled at for pulling into a pump to get gas. 

Apparently the 'Karen' decided that I was in her way. I had to pull in so I could fill the tank on my passenger side which meant I had to pull in and go nose to nose with her vehicle.

She came out of the gas station store with her bag of goodies and started to yell at me and gesture. Apparently there was no reverse on her vehicle?

I don't know. I just gave her my best sweaty stare and listened her to chew me out and tell me that I shouldn't have blocked HER car and that I was inconsiderate.

I waited until she was done yelling and asked if there was an R in her vehicle. That meant 'Reverse', and maybe she could use that? I shrugged and then said nicely that if she wanted to wait, I could use my reverse and then she could drive through.

She said I was rude and despicable.

I said, "Thank you. You have a nice day also."

Maybe she was just having a really bad day. 

Tuesday, July 25, 2023

Hot! Oh Hot oh and other farm stuff.

July 2023 has been one of the most unusual months in recent memory. Rarely did we have a beautiful sky in the mornings. The sunrises were orange or brown and once even a frightful red [without the rains!].

It makes me wonder how the wildfires and smoke are effecting
wonderful creatures like the Monarch Caterpillar..

 or my neighbor's crops... 
the drought, smoke, and hot days, cold nights??

What sort of strange times do we live in? 
Rhetorical Question.

Moving on.

Yesterday I spent some time with the fellow who came out to tune up our skid steer. It was having an issue. 

Caveat, I do dislike machinery. I don't like operating machinery -- farm machinery. Period. He replaced three thingies that make the lights, blower, and starter run properly. Fuses. That's what they were. He admired our nice skid steer. I did mention that I would be happy with one of the first ones we ever had. It was simple with no electronic fusies to fuss with. He offered to trade me for his older little one.

I learned a few things from him and he showed me how to check hydraulic fluid and other stuffs. He explained it nicely so that my eyes and brain didn't explode, shut down, nor did my eyes glaze over.

The gent that we have purchased large square bales called me back this morning. I said "Hey Darryl, bet you can't figure out what I called for!"

"Oh," he said, "I'm sure it was to talk about the weather or perhaps good books to read?"

He always jokes with me.

He'd been waiting for me to contact him. I gave him an estimate of the amount of hay I'd need to carry me through next year. 

I pared it down from last year. We've lost Fred and Mica won't make it through this winter. She is the grey mule we have. 

Her COPD/heart situation has been depleting her strength and condition. It would be cruel to let her hang on into the cold. 

Today she wouldn't even trot up to the next pasture rotation. She literally walked slow while struggling to take breaths. It would be cruel to keep letting her suffer like this. 

Anyway, Darryl said he'd make sure we get what we needed. I have it delivered all at once and stack it in the machine shed. I pay him on the spot.

He said he was turning down a lot of requests and was taking care of his regular customers first.

I get it. We are grateful that we've been faithful customers of his for the last 10 years.

Rain. It would be good to get some.

We mowed some of the yard yesterday. This morning I cleaned all the stock tanks and put out fresh cool water for everyone.

I even got out of making supper tonight! Ms. Olive invited us up to her place for homemade pizza.

Stay cool if you can.

Teddy Bears save the Day by Sunshine

Did you know that Teddy Bears can stop the killing instinct that bicycles have?  I didn't know this!

See how the bike seems subdued and harmless? Obviously these wild bears have tamed it!

In fact, the Bears took down the bike and laid it on the ground!

Down the bike went in a big heap! The Bears crawled all over it until it showed no Aggression.

 Siera is still not quite convinced, however with the Bears nearby, she manages not to snort at it. Her reply is:

"This Wild Mule Eating Bike may be subdued! However those mini humans with Unicorn Heads probably cannot control their Meat Eating MiniBicycles!  Bicycles are evil as are Baby Strollers.

I rest my case.

I think I'll see if Val can bring a Teddy Bear with when we ride next. She told me last night that we are on 'Staycation' because the weather is getting very hot and humid along with icky air. I'll miss the riding and play time.

Sunday, July 23, 2023


The Yard Superintendent watches from his comfy spot...

The shaded part of the yard puts on a show.
Another Clearwing Hummingbird Moth.


More Pink!

Beautiful shade and light on a Poppy Flower.

More pretty 'stuff'...

A Pink Poppy...

I am enjoying the variety of flowers that the wildflower [shady mixture] has given me this year. On the other side of these flowers there is a riot of Nasturtiums.

I'm really happy I planted these this year and kept up with watering them. Each day the variety and colors change which delights me and the bees to no end!

Today is a stay home and read a book day. It looks like the weather is going to turn hot and terribly muggy.

It means my routine of doing chore things will be dawn and dusk again. With the second rainfall in a week, it looks like the grass is greening and could need a mowing!

The last time we mowed was July 1st and it was just to chop weeds. I have half a notion to let my mule girls do the job for me.

Friday, July 21, 2023

More Killer Bike Adventures by Siera

I cannot believe it!

Val came walking with a Wild Killer Bicycle! You could see it was wild, it hadn't been groomed in ages!

I tried to warn her by snorting and spinning in our pasture about the dangers of spokes and wheels. But she paid no mind and left it in the grass on the opposite side of the fence. 

Sunshine concurred with me. She trotted away shaking her head but stopped a safe distance away.

"Do you suppose it will eat all of our hay?" She asked. She stared over at the bike and gave it the evil stink eye.

Oh NO! I hadn't thought of that! What if Bicycles EAT hay? Or sweet feed? Or gasp...can crawl under hot wires and and steal our food?

This called for immediate action.

I slowly crept forward and around the pen to come from the Bicycle's backside. Maybe it couldn't see from the back? I inched forward bobbing my head up and down.

I lurched forward and grabbed a mouthful of hay and then spun away ready to kick.

Sunshine followed suit, but she backed away. I suppose that was a smarter thing to do.

The Bicycle didn't move all day. It just lurked and lurked.

Later in the day Val walked over and kicked it. It fell over and we were quite impressed.

"Did you see that?" asked Sunshine, "She is so brave! She can handle that wild thing! Wow."

I was not impressed because later I came by that section of fence and it was back up and it had moved!

My immediate concern was that a Regurgitating Baby Stroller would join it when we weren't looking. 


Thursday, July 20, 2023

The Killer Stroller & Siera

Or how baby strollers can eat mules by Siera. 

Our ride was totally normal last night. I'm usually in a hurry when I am riding with Val alone. I'm sure she would like to get this whole saddle and riding thing over as quick as possible. I mean, how fun can it be to sit up there and watch the world go by? Shouldn't she be doing something important like eating or maybe taking a dust bath?

She thinks she knows where she is going, but when we do fields she hesitates a little. She claims she doesn't like riding too close to rows of corn because deer like to pop out right under our noses too often. 

I like to get close enough to the corn to take a bite if I can, which kind of ticks her off. 
I mean the deer are doing it -- why not a starving mule like me?

We explored the second hay field that had been planted and walked between corn and a hedge row. Eventually she asked me to stop and stand.

Hint. I don't always like to stop and stand when I am alone with her. I mean, what is the point? We had a conversation about that and finally I sighed and stood quietly while she gazed around and enjoyed the scenery. Well, that is what she told me.

We took in the turkeys in the soybean field and watched more deer. It was quiet and it was pleasant. She even let me graze a bit!

We went back out to the road to head towards home and I stopped in my tracks.

Ahead were little people with helmets on and they were on....

drum roll please...

Killer Kid Bikes...

followed by

 A Killer Stroller that had swallowed a whiney child.

Wheels are dangerous. They are more dangerous on bicycles and strollers than on tractors and skid steers. Wheels look innocent until. Well, until they aren't. 

The child in the Killer Stroller made noises and the people pushing it stopped. 

Val dismounted and explained to them that I was undeniably terrified of strollers and bikes [she said she didn't know why -- those wheels -- they will TURN on you in an instant and make a grown up mule into muleburger!]. She walked me back into the hay field so I wouldn't be too close to them.

The bicycles threw the kids, or the kids threw the bicycles. I don't know which. The stroller regurgitated the child onto the gravel road. It WAS terrifying!

I could feel the pressure building and there were wavelengths of malice and danger coming off the wheels and the Stroller. I couldn't deal with it any more. I did a backwards bolt until Val stopped me. She let me stand there and breath while she said calm things like

stupid mule. Okay, she didn't say that. But the stroller people thought it!

Val just stood and talked to me quietly until my eyes stopped being the size of dinner plates.

The kids wanted to come and pet me. Val said perhaps they should come to the house at another time and pet me in the yard when I wasn't scared. [Because really, almost nothing bothers me except ... bikes and Stollers!]

The people left walking slowly back up the road towards home. As long as those things are headed away, I'm good. I mean I would chase them as long as they were not facing me.

Val remounted and made me walk slowly towards home. I gave her a what to by shaking my head and bobbing it up and down to show my displeasure. 

I wanted to get back to my pasture mate Sunshine and away from the monsters.

When I got back in the pasture and Sunshine wanted to know how the ride went. 

I told her about the killer bicycles and The Killer Stroller that spit out children.

Sunshine shook her head and turned away. I swear she muttered...

Stupid Mule.

Wednesday, July 19, 2023

Spa Day for my 2 girls

Well, not a Spa Day for real but I did give them a royal treatment. The farrier tag team came out and trimmed all hooves and visited with Rich at the same time. [No photos guys, I was busy handling the critters]

One trimmed, the other chatted with Rich. They had a little fold out step stool they set in the shade so he could sit and they could talk 'men' talk while I held each mule.

It is always pleasant to have Dan and Danny out to trim. They also like trimming our critters as they are well behaved.

After they left, Rich was tired. While he slept I gave Sunshine [the red Molly] and Siera [the bay Molly] baths.

They each then got some time in the yard for some munching on fresh grass. Yes, I can walk away and leave them in the yard unattended for a little bit and they won't go anywhere.

With the rain we had last week, we might have to mow the yard soon!

Last night, I called out to the gals and Sunshine came up to the gate as if to say "Pick ME!".  The disappointment on her face when I led her over to the trailer and saddled her up was obvious.

Pictured below is her 'necklance' of small bells that my mules wear while we are riding solo. Some say that the noise is comforting to the equine, some say that they can hear their cadence, and I say that it is a great sound to warn off the deer ahead of us.

A friend introduced me to the idea of a bell necklace when I was riding endurance rides with Badger. I found that the little bell really worked. I rarely walk up on slumbering deer.

I really dislike riding in the wide open spaces. Sunshine's mom used to look for Monsters along the edges of fields. If a turkey or doe walked out of the corn or woods even up to a quarter mile away, she'd be sideways in a second.

Sunshine watches as the deer that were ravaging the field corn run back into the woods. We counted 10 deer.

We rode out to the end of this newly planted alfalfa field and looked down towards the valley where we generally ride. I wanted to explore this field that in 20+ years has always been in corn or soybeans. The folks that rent the cropland generally plant right through the snowmobile trail which makes access to the valley impossible during the summer.

It was shocking to see how sparse the new growth was. Rain is definitely needed.

We didn't go all the way to the woods. We sat and watched 6 Tom Turkeys eating in the far field. The tops of the corn in this end of the field have been chewed off by deer. I've never seen anything like it and assume that it is due to the lack of food in the forest.

I took this shot with my cell phone and then put it away. Two fawns popped up from the corn field just a few feet from us and crashed through the corn sounding like Godzilla.

Sunshine did her 180 degree leap and stopped. She looked around as if embarrassed. We took a few moments to talk about it. Sunshine sighed and we turned towards home. Funny how the fawns laid there when we walked up but decided to bolt when we were standing still.

Note. When startled like that Sunshine will move like lightening. Siera? She just locks her legs up. 

Our ride back home was quiet. We saw two bucks in the distance and just before we left the hay field, a coyote came bounding out of the corn about 50 feet away and bounded across the field into the forest.

Sunshine didn't miss a beat. I don't think she was surprised. I know the mules can usually detect most anything before we humans can.

When we got home my sweet little red mule got some more yard time.

This was another evening well spent. As long as the weather holds, I'll be alternating between the two girls each night. They are still separated from the other girls but not stressed out anymore.

There was no screaming out or calling when I left with my little red mule last night.