I miss my cat.

Pretty sure the coyote’s got him.

He’s a neutered tomcat, so that impulse to travel the neighborhood  in search of love  was not there.

The longest he has ever been gone before this was  4 days.

Today is day eleven.

The night he went missing we could hear coyote’s hunting just a few hundred yards to the south of us in a cornfield.

Some of you know I mentioned on my other blog, there were live traps  recently placed in the ditch near our home.

I checked both of them several times…nope.

I grew up on a farm…we had your typical herd of barn cats.  Never got emotionally attached to any of them like I have been with this cat.  He was a Russian Blue.  Rescued him when he was a little kitten two years ago.

Originally named him “Toodles”  

Can’t tell you how many times I have stuck my head out the door to call him,  wake up in the morning thinking, maybe today is the day, he will be back, scratching on our front door to come in for a snuggle.

I’m still processing.

I do have a couple of thoughts that console me.

First, he should have been dead two years ago.  Had I not stopped to rescue him,  pretty sure that would have been  the end of him that day.

Secondly, he LOVED being outside.  He was an out-door cat.  We locked him up a few weeks ago, in the garage while we had someone here treating a rat infestation.

That lasted one night.  He broke out a window.  Wasn’t having any of it.

And because he was an outdoor cat, who loved to hunt small birds, ground squirrels, mice, grasshoppers, you name it,  there was always a chance something would get him.

Better two years doing what he loved, than years and years, stuck in the house, as some de-clawed, depressed, shadow of a cat.

Doesn’t mean I don’t miss him.

I do.

Daughter and her family stopped last night before heading home after being in the area for Thanksgiving.  She was scrolling through the pictures on her phone showing us some photos from another family get-together.  One of the pictures showed her father-in-law sitting in his chair, with his favorite cat Larry on his lap. Granddaughter Addy told me, that Larry, loved to gently “knead” his paws against her grandpa’s arms when he held him.

Made me jealous.

Barron used to do the same thing.  I read it was a behavior cats sometimes do…it mimics what they do when they are little kittens wanting to nurse, trying to get their mother to let her milk down.

Barron (initially called “Toodles”) my missing tomcat.

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Just Because….

Too good to keep to myself. 🙂


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Trying to BEE Careful. Bee Hive update 9/2/2018

I am right in the middle of putting the apiguard

mite treatment in the bee hive.  (ie. 5 minutes ago)

I was standing there in my bee keepers suit.  Had the top off the hive, was filling the tray feeder with a fresh batch of sugar-water when BAM there was a big crack of lightning.

1001  10002      (then a flash).

Then 30 seconds later it started to pour.

Doing the math to calculate how close the lightning was, according to that link above, I took 2  seconds divided by 5 = means the lightning was 4 /10’s of a mile from me.




Soooooooooo,  I put the lid back on the hive and headed for the house, where I am now sitting until the rain lets up. ( I am still damp).   This is my first attempt @ using a mite treatment. ( This is just my second season with bees.)  Pretty sure one of the main reasons our honey bees didn’t make it last year was because of the lack of mite treatment.  Just a guess.

Wish I had a local bee keeper here to walk me through some of this stuff.

I had one super on the hive. (that is the box with frames in it you put on the hive for honey)

Well, you’re supposed to not have that on the hive when you treat for mites with the apiguard, because it will make the honey stink.  Wasn’t sure what to do with the hundreds (1000’s?) of bees hanging out on the frames.  Decided to take each frame out one by one, brush the bees off with a bee brush back into the main hive, and hope most of them stay put.

In order to keep the bees calm you’re supposed to blow a little smoke on the bees. I tried to find some burlap for the smoker,  (as per  AVWalters suggestion)

but couldn’t find any, and the pine needles are all wet.  I tried to generate enough smoke with the newspaper and cotton seed fiber I have on hand. What a joke.  Smoked for 20 seconds, then felt like I was trying to calm down a hoard of barbarians who would at any second realize, I the intruder of their inner sanctuary was standing right outside their hive unarmed.  The tone of the hive (the pitch of their buzzing sound, went from calm to agitated pretty quick.

Planning to go to my first local bee keepers meeting in two weeks.  It won’t be soon enough.

I read (and was told) this is the time to treat for mites in our area.

Maybe I will finish tonight, and maybe I won’t. 😉

2018 bee hive.



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Already there is the hint of Fall in the air.

The Ginger-golds (my personal favorite) are picked and in the cooler.  The Cortland’s will be ready to pick this week. Already the earliest ones have started to drop.  The Japanese beetle plague is winding down.  The morning fog has been making an appearance for the past couple of weeks….the cool morning temps combined with the warmer earth temperatures….love, love, love the effect, especially in the valleys, and around some of the farmsteads on my way to work.  (See picture of blog header/ that is a view to my east @ the top of the hill.)

This morning as I went out to check on the bees, I noticed already at 7 AM a flurry of activity around the hive. When I attended the bee keeping class two winters ago, our teacher commented that honeybees tend to be sleepy heads…don’t really see too much activity until 9:30 or 10.  Well,  my girls must be the exception then, because they were hard at it at 7 AM.

While I was standing a safe distance away from the hive (hoping to take a short video clip)  an agitated squirrel was making his feelings known about me just over the deer fence in the wind break.  Could not see him…looked for his shaking tail…but he was too well hidden.

I’ve noticed something about the pumpkin blossoms this year, more so for some reason than previous years… when I step out in the morning they are in full glory, but by mid morning (or when it starts to heat up) the flowers close up.  There has got to be a spiritual, or life lessons in them ..(maybe multiple lessons), I just haven’t cracked the code (yet).

The tomato harvest this year has been a little sparse.  I grow two varieties.  Amish Paste (which are large  Roma’s )  and Brandy wines.   My sister first turned me on to the Brandy wine several years ago.   An heirloom tomato…large, beautiful and prolific.  I save their seeds each season.  It’s one of the simple harvest rituals that keeps me grounded and engaged .  Doing that makes me think of sustainability.

I’m a reader.  One of my favorite books growing up was the Lord of the Rings series….So  I tend to have thoughts about hobbits and Middle earth flitting through my brain whenever I have any dealings with the Brandy wines.  Something about the name makes me think of the Shire.

When I first stepped out side this morning, I could hear crows.  I love the sound of crows.   They are one of my favorite creatures I get to share the neighborhood with.

I’ll close with a video I uploaded on You tube a few years ago.



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2018 Japanese Beetle Plague

They say, I picture is worth a thousand words.

Two nights ago, I made a point to check on the peach trees. (We currently have 7)   There were 3 or 4 Japanese beetles on the tree.

3 or 4!

Made a mental note to pick  peaches on Saturday (three days later).  Would rather pick them before they were 100% ripe than wait and let the Japanese beetles get them.

When I got home from work last night, this is what I saw:

Crazy just how much things can change in just two days.


Funny, this morning I was reading along in one of the on line gardening groups I belong to. Someone shared their garden this year was a “bust”  ie. complete failure… Half a dozen other gardeners then said the same thing.  Several different reasons, but all experiencing the same thing.  Reading those  several comments actually encouraged me.  I was encouraged because,  failure goes part and parcel with life.

I can focus on the nasty beetles  (and I  sometimes do) or I can look @ our Cortland trees  this season, limbs loaded with fruit, that the beetles have left alone and be thankful.

Sometimes I hit it out of the park, and other times….

🙂 DM


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Bee Careful

Your time is valuable so I will try to keep this brief. 😉

Our honeybees  from last year didn’t make it.

Some of you already knew.

I think it was mites.

Because the whole thing is a hobby, and both of us have been working real hard and are mindful of where we spend our money, I didn’t think there was another $125- $150 of discretionary money available to purchase more bees this season.  I still want to keep bees, just in the context of the rest of my life, it wasn’t going to be this year.

And then a few weeks ago, I stumbled across $90  tucked away in my gardening notebook, money from the sale of green beans, apple cider, apples, and  pumpkins from 2017.

Side note –  Wife and I both get a $25 a month “allowance” to do with whatever we want.  Mine normally goes for coffee beans, (Starbucks/ french roast/ whole bean/ not ground)  but because of my birthday, the visit from a friend, and finding some Starbucks french roast on discount @ the Amish grocery store my wife frequents, I still have some of my money. 😉

Suddenly I had $150 to buy more bees.

I found a bee keeper about 30 minutes from me who was advertising bee nucs for sale.  I called him and got my name on the list.

Sunday morning I went to pick them up.

Last year when I brought the bees home to our property, they were in the body of a hive box.  10,000 honey bees alive and somewhat ticked off, after a 20 minute ride  in the back of a pickup.  I still remember the feelings of lifting that hive out of the back of my pickup, just as it got dark.  Felt like I was handling dynamite. Not having ever been around honeybees before,  it was surreal.

That time, things went without a hitch, but I was still creeped out. There was nobody around but me.  Other than a six week bee keeping class and some words of encouragement from another bee keeper, I was flying solo. If something went wrong, there was nobody to bail me out.

This time, the bees came in a cardboard nuc box. 2000 bees on (4) frames. The frames look like this:

photo by google

I plunked them down on the passenger seat of my pickup.  As long as the little cardboard door stayed shut, I would be fine.

Half way home,  an agitated  honey bee suddenly began flying around inside the truck.  Back and forth on the inside of my windshield.

My first thought was…how in the heck did he get out?

Then there were two…

Photo compliments of google

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Moving to town

Picture of dad milking by hand/ early 1970’s


Today was a BIG day.

We moved my parents off the family farm.

Growing up on a  120 acre working family farm shaped me in ways I will probably never fully appreciate.  Dad bought 20 Holstein milk cows when I turned 12.  Expressed purpose was to give us some spending money.   Milking is a two times a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year activity.  Up close and personal with the whole cycle of life.   Learned about delivering babies, afterbirth, still birth, cesarean births,  the art of milking a first time heifer whose utters are on fire with mastitis.  Learned how to deflect the back hoof of an animal ten times my body weight, that wanted to kick the crap out of me, because she didn’t  like what I was doing to her.

Manure.  Could write a book on the topic.  Sometimes you just have to block out the fact, you are getting splattered with e-coli.

Winter mornings so stink’n cold, haying the cows, my fingers felt like they were on fire.

I learned it was not a good idea to engage the power-take-off on the manure spreader with a 20 mile wind to my back.

I remember side raking hay, singing along to Band on the run.

Last month, I worked alongside a young man vacuuming hallways.  He  lasted three days. Told my son that his wrist was bothering him.  Said he had pulled an all nighter playing video games,  wondered if he could knock off an hour early. I felt sorry for him.  He doesn’t know any different.

Baling hay in the summer is still one of my favorite memories.  My job of choice was  in the hay-mow.  Our barn could hold 300 tons of hay if we packed it to the top.   (10,000 bales X 60# = 60,000# divided by 2000# = 300 tons) Over the course of a season, I would have handled every one of those bales at least once.    In mid July, in Iowa, the temperature gets into the upper 90’s, so it had to be 100/ 110 degrees in the mow.   We never gave it a second thought.   It was just a part of getting the crops in.  Working in those conditions shaped my attitude about the weather.

When our kids were still home, out of financial need, we started a small commercial cleaning business on the side. The older ones went with us in the evening and weekends as we emptied trash cans, scrubbed toilets, vacuumed and mopped the floors.  I wished we could do more to incorporate the chores of my youth, but we were living in town and a dairy cow was not an option….

Final story.  Look at that picture of my dad milking again.  See that fuzzy cat on the left?    Come to find out, she (Fuzzy)  was a prize-winning show cat. Had blue ribbons to prove it.   She used to hang around the lumberyard where my dad worked.  He thought she was a stray, so he took pity on her and brought her home. Year later, lady who lived close to the lumberyard happened to be visiting our farm, noticed the cat and mentioned she used to have a cat like that.  We never let on.

If you were a cat, would you rather spend your days  eating dry cat food or having a front row seat by the family cow?

You get extra credit if you can tell me the breed of the milk cow in that photo.

Here are a couple of action photos from today:

Dad loading up the family picture.

The moving crew

The next chapter begins…

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