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A Small Town Gal

Pets and Their Beauty Sleep

Mel Boone 

Pumpkin resting in bathroom sink.

I admire people and animals who seem to be able to a nap pretty much wherever. The pets do give me a laugh. Mainly because I can't believe that they can pick a spot, fall asleep, and be comfortable all at the same time.

Tang takes a siesta on the couch.

It's pretty much routine to find Pumpkin asleep in the bathroom sink. That's his spot. What a way to startle the guests when they ask to use the bathroom. "Oh sure, go right on ahead, just make sure that you take a bottle Purell with you so that you don't disturb the cat." Ironicly enough, Pumpkin has been known to eat and drink in the bathtub, providing the water is in a water bowl and not the actual tub. Talk about quirky!

Missy has claimed the kitchen sink upon occasion to lay her feline body for a nap. Tippy, her offspring, prefers the back of the sofa. Sofie, the back of the recliner, or the kitchen table if it means a head rub because she's in my way.

Like the cats, Jake and Buddy have their own spots as well. They jockey for position on the back of the couch to sleep in front of the window. I don't think it's very comfy, but it does mean that whichever one is there will be first to know that one of the humans have pulled into the driveway.

At night, I can't sleep without both of them under the blanket with me. It's really not my decision, it's theirs. They insist that we must sleep like we are sardines in a can. Once in a while when I get up from bed and come back, I find Jake on top of my pillow. Once in a while, he's under my pillow. I've yet to figure that one out.

Jake really enjoys sleeping on top of my stepdad. We're not sure why. It's funny, though. A life size human pillow. Jake must be comfortable since he does it a lot.

Jake uses my stepdad as a cozy spot to sleep.

And so it goes in the lives of our pets.

Sometimes Jake likes to sleep under the pillow.

The Life of Cats

Mel Boone



Perhaps it's just me, but being related to farmers, or at least coming from a farm family, can give you a unique outlook on life. Or, at least it differs somewhat from someone who has never experienced farm life. I can't say that I know everything that a farm kid does; however, even though I was a town kid, spending time on my grandparents' farm gave me some insight on life that I'm betting some of the town kids never got.

Missy and her kittens

One of those experiences was a firsthand look at where our food comes from. It starts long before it gets the the grocery store. Another experience is the life and death of the animals on the farm, along with the occasional surprise.

Just the other day, I was looking at the photos on my iPod. A couple of those pics were of Missy and her litter of kittens she had in March. Four little bundles of furry cuteness. One black, two tortoise shell, like their mother, and one yellow kitten that literally sticks out like a sore thumb when compared to the rest. Tang, as I call the yellow kitten, reminds me of another yellow cat that was on the farm many years ago.

When Grandpa was still alive and actively farming, there was a yellow cat named Tommy. He was a lovable cat that never met a stranger, and a pretty good mouse catcher, too. He would make an occasional trip in the house to curl up in one of the living room chairs for a nap. Many catnaps for him were on the Massey Ferguson seat or hood when there was a nice breeze. Tommy never missed a chance to ride on the carryall on the back of the Massey when Grandpa was taking square bales from one barn to the other.

One day, Grandpa went out to do chores and found Tommy dead. This was a sad day for all of us. The feline was a beloved member of the family. Grandpa managed to hold back tears as he buried Tommy. For about four days, the farm didn't seem the same without him.

After the four days passed, Grandpa, as always, was out doing morning chores. As he entered the barn and turned on the lights, he looked over at straw on the floor. It was bedding that he had left for Tommy to sleep in at night. After staring at it for awhile, he uttered only one word: "Tommy?"

From the straw came the response. "Meow!" Up pops Tommy out of the straw nest over to greet Grandpa. Yep, that's right, Grandpa buried someone else's cat without realizing it.

This is one of those memories that I can't help but to chuckle at. You don't get memories like that living in town.

Missy and her kittens

The Old Family Farm

Mel Boone

The old Roe farm

I guess you can say that there are two types of farms. There are big corporate farms, and then there are the family farms. I'm glad to have had grandparents who owned a small family farm.

There are so many memories of that farm that I couldn't possibly list them all. Even though I was raised in town, I spent many wonderful times out there. Big yard (or at least big to me), and lots of pasture to play in and to explore. I was never at a loss for playmates. There were always dogs and cats there that were willing to play with me just so that they could have some attention.

I grew up assuming that the farm would always be there and someday I would be the one to it over. Now I must admit that I have been proven wrong. Grandpa passed away from Parkinson's disease several years ago. My grandma, who's health is declining, is now in the nursing home. The farm, since the deed was still in her name, was sold in order to pay for the nursing home.

Nobody expects their golden years to be like this. My grandparents were no different, so planning for bad health issues was something that they didn't get around to planning for.

Stuff had been moved out of the house. Some to storage, some to an auction house. On July 16, 2017, the little knick knack stuff was sorted through. Mom went home and I made one last trip back to the farm by myself.

Don't get me wrong, I really do like the farmer who bought the farm. He's a great guy who loves the land and is passionate about farming. His daughter and her husband will be moving into the house. I am so grateful that these people are cat lovers and were willing to take grandmas cats. I'm glad the cats get to stay where they are. But it's still hard for me. Perhaps that's selfish for me to say. But what is done has been done.

As I pulled into the driveway on Sunday, July 16, I made my rounds petting all of the outdoor cats that I could find. I went to the east fence where the pet cemetery is and stood there for a moment. I walked to the pasture one last time. Then I went in the house. I found the four indoor cats laying in the living room. So I sat there with them and cried like a baby.

No one said that saying goodbye was easy.

Crops in the Fields

Mel BooneFor as long as there have been farmers, there have been fields for the farmers to grow their crops. I don't care if it's a large field or someone's little garden spot, I love watching what people plant grow.

There's a lot of corn planted around here. It's everywhere, planted as far as the eye can see. I think the deer love the field corn. Of course, if you've ever come to an intersection in the country, a corn field may not be your best friend. It can usually mean that you have to be cautious about pulling out onto the road when you can't see past the corn stalks.

When grandpa Roe was still alive, soybeans were what he planted. Fields full of them, growing and then ready to be harvested, are a reminder of Grandpa in his Massey Ferguson combine. I can still remember walking through the soybean fields with him, checking to see if they were ready. I knew it had to be exhausting at times. I say this because he farmed while working at a full-time job in town. You had to do what you had to do in order to keep things going.

I really do go head over heals when I see fields of red clover, sorghum, sunflowers, and lavender. Of course, I would pick crops that I don't see growing around where I live. Pictures of these crops are about as close as I've ever gotten. I hope that someday that I will get to see a field full of one or all of the above. I'm sure I will wear out my camera when it happens.

Then again, maybe I can just dig up my yard and plant them myself. That should make me happy, and I won't have to mow the lawn!

Sweet corn growing in my garden.

Fourth of July

Mel Boone 

It's getting time to celebrate our nation's birthday; the fourth of July is almost here. I don't know about where you live, but here in northeast Missouri the American flag is everywhere you look. Firework stands have already started to pop up; every time I turn around, there's another stand.

I've gotten into decorating my antique tractors for the Fourth of July holiday. The F-20, F-30, and John Deere B each get an American flag displayed on them. I might even put a red, white, and blue lei on each of them, providing that I can remember where I put them.

The "boys" (aka my terriers Jake and Buddy), will be out and about showing off their patriotic style this year with red, white, and blue bandanas around their necks. And on the SUV goes another American flag flying from the window.

I remember what happened several years ago when I was still working as a carryout at one of the local grocery stores. One of my fellow carryouts came to work dressed up as Uncle Sam. What a surprise that was for everyone! He put a smile on everyone's face that day. I managed to take a few good pictures of him and made prints just for him. He tried to pay me for them, but I wouldn't accept his money. Just seeing the customers smile, especially the kids, was payment enough for me.

July Fourth, the Fourth of July, Independence Day, so many different ways to describe the same holiday. It's still a day for people to show their patriotic side. Perhaps we should do that more than once a year, but this is the time of year when patriotism gets the most attention.

There's times when I perhaps take my freedom for granted. I shouldn't do that. So if I don't say it often enough, thank you to all who serve. For your service and my freedom, I will be forever grateful.

American flag
Photo by Adobe Stock/inna253

Summer Break

Mel BooneSummer break was so much fun for me when I was a kid. Three months without school, who didn't like that? It was a blast. Of course, I like to make fun of my childhood summers. I didn't have Nintendo, PlayStation, computer, internet, or a smartphone to pass the time with. I had to use my imagination, and as an only child I probably used my imagination a little too much.

There was the little plastic wading pool in the back yard. I can still find those at Dollar General, can you believe that? In fact, I bought one of those several years ago when I still had my dog Stubby. He loved to play in it as much as I did all those years ago when I was a child.

When I got a little older, I lost interest in the little plastic pool; so I spent quite a bit of time running through a sprinkler attached to the garden hose. Looking back, I wonder how high my parents' water bill was during the summer months because of me. I'm sure that would have been one reason for them to be happy  to see me go back to school.

One of the best part of summer break for me was also the most agonizing part at times. That was waiting for the ice cream truck to come by. I could always hear its music playing from the loudspeaker from several blocks away. It could never get to my street fast enough. Once there, I had the hard task of picking just one item. No matter what I chose, it always the best that I ever had!

The other best part of summer break was spending time with both sets of grandparents. I always loved being with them. It's a bittersweet memory now. Grandma and Grandpa Boone have both been gone for several years now. They, along with several other neighbors, sold their home to the bank. I end up on what used to be their property every time I go through the drive up window or ATM. My grandma on mom's side is now in the nursing home. The farm that her and grandpa worked so hard on has been sold. There's a lot of memories during the 41 years of my life on that place.

Summer as an adult definitely isn't like it was when I was a kid. To be a kid again, even for a little while, would be a blast. Just don't tell on me!

ice cream truck
Photo by Adobe Stock/adambstew

Learning to Drive

Mel BooneOne of my earliest memories of driving was on Grandpa Roe's Massey Ferguson. I was too small at the time to reach the pedals. So I would sit on his lap and "operate" the steering wheel while grandpa worked the clutch and brake. I don't remember how old I was then, but I felt like the most important person in the world to be able to help drive that tractor. Plus, for a little kid like me, the hood seemed to stretch out for a mile!

1973 Massey Ferguson 165
1973 Massey Ferguson 165 that my grandpa bought new.

My next driving lesson came a few years later. My stepdad would take me out to drive out in the country. No gravel roads, just the blacktop roads where there wasn't much traffic. Mom never knew about the driving lessons until we accidentally got caught one day. My stepdad had to go to a job site to bring in the boss's International Harvester bucket truck and had me with him. Once there, it dawned on him that he had to get the truck in but had no way to get back to the site to get his van. So there I was at age 13, following the bucket truck to town while driving the van by myself. We would have gotten away with it if Mom had not been at home looking out the front door when we drove by. That pretty much ended my driving lessons for a few years.

Later on in life, I managed to buy a couple of antique tractors of my own. Both are John Deere model B tractors. The first B I bought when my Grandpa Boone was still alive. I can still remember being in his driveway showing it to him. I think he was the happiest guy on earth to see a granddaughter get into the antique tractor hobby. Perhaps in a way, it also reminded him of his oldest son (my uncle Bob) who collected and restored antique cars. In a odd sort of way, I was following in my uncle's footsteps.

John Deere Bs
One of two John Deere B's that I own.

My uncle and both grandpas are gone. But both John Deeres and the Massey Ferguson are about ready for the 2017 tractor shows. It seems to me, as I sit on the seat, my hands on the wheel, I can almost sense that I am not alone. There are three spirits there, smiling down at me. I wish I could tell them how happy I am to have them supporting me in my favorite hobby, but I think they already know.