A Small Town Gal

Entertaining Squirrels

Mel BooneI find animals to be a wonderful source of entertainment. If a squirrel is involved, not only am I entertained, sometimes I find myself laughing so hard that I cry.

Where I live in northeast Missouri, I see plenty of gray squirrels. Once in a while I will see a red squirrel, but that is a rare occasion for me. If and when I see a red one, it's usually at the county fairgrounds. The gray ones are everywhere! The library, my backyard, someone else's yard ... well, you get the picture.

At home, I've seen as many as four squirrels at one time. They are usually scampering around my backyard as well as the neighbors' yards, going from tree to tree. A few times I have watched a couple have a great time running around on the hood and gas tank of the old, 1929 McCormick Deering 22-36 tractor in the backyard. If they get startled, it's an easy jump from the gas tank to the fender, then from the fender to the utility pole. Once on my utility pole, they can get to the neighbor's tree without ever being on the ground. It's a good laugh for me until I start wondering how many nuts they have stashed on the old, steel, wheeled tractor. There's a part of me that's too scared to go look.

I once read an article about a town that has white squirrels; I think the town has even been on the news. It has been years since I've read about them, so I've since forgotten the name of the town. I often wonder if the white squirrels are still there. If I could remember the name and knew if those white squirrels were still there, I'd love to take a trip just to see if I could spot them. (If anyone has a better memory than me, please feel free to send me an email, deeregal2@gmail.com).

For now, I'll just watch the gray squirrels here at home. I'll be happy to watch them just as long as I don't find them in my attic!

gray squirrel

Rain

Mel BooneI ended up not going to one tractor show this year on account of rain. It was a four-day show that I normally attend as a spectator for one day, and it really wasn't raining that much. However in the end, between the light drizzle and a van that was near its death, I decided to miss Boonville this year.

 

Flooded parking lot
Rainy day at the library.

Water, like the sun, is essential. All living things need both to survive. We cannot live without them. Too much can cause a disaster to farmers. Too little can also be a disaster for farmers. Nobody wants a drought, nor do we want a flood.

But adults may be the only ones who think of rain in terms of disasters. How many reading this blog remember going outside as a kid to play in the rain? I know I did many times as a young girl. After every downpour I would be outside, ready to tackle every puddle that I came across. Nothing felt better than trying to see how big of a splash I could make.

More recently, Stubby, my Jack Russell terrier, used to love to run through the water puddles. I would laugh so hard it hurt. Sometimes I would be reminded of my own running though the puddles as a kid, and I would join him. The Jack that I have now, Jake, doesn't like the puddles and will go out of his way to avoid them.

Now I sometimes dread seeing the rain, especially when I'm on my way to the farm. Since the last weekend of July this year it's a daily trip out there to care for my grandmother's cats. She can barely care for the ones in the house, so I have ended up with the daily ritual of feeding the outdoor cats. The three miles of blacktop road from the four lane highway to her house can be a nightmare to drive on when it rains. Puddles are all over the road. If not driving slowly and carefully, you can find yourself hydroplaning into a ditch. I had angels looking over me once, and that was enough for me to learn my lesson.

We can't stop Mother Nature, but we all should be aware of our own actions, too. Pollution of any kind and discarding our trash and sewage into our lakes, rivers, and streams are man-made problems. I'm betting Mother Nature would be grateful if the humans here on earth cleaned up our bad habits.

Perhaps the next time it rains I should take the time to honor Stubby and my childhood by going outside to play.

River and herons
Crane at the spillway, Long Branch Lake and State Park, Macon, MO.

Giving Thanks

Mel BooneWe should be thankful and grateful that we live in the United States. As Americans, we have so many freedoms and rights that it's easy to take them all for granted. There are places in the world with far fewer rights, especially when it comes to women. I can't imagine living in a country where it was illegal for me to drive. Come to think of it, how long ago was it when women were not allowed to vote right here in the USA?

With today being the first day of November, I am reminded how grateful I should be for the rights that I take for granted. There are three days this month in particular that remind me.

November 10th is the birthday of the Marine Corps. Yes, I admit that I never served. However, I was raised by a Marine. That Marine stepdad was the kind the made it clear that:

1. You capitalize the "M" in Marine every single time
2. It's called the "Marines Hymn," not the "Marine Corps Hymn"
3. You don't dare forget Tuns Tavern in Philadelphia, Nov. 10, 1775!
4. Every Marine has two birthdays — one of which is November 10th.

So to all who read this blog that served in the Marines, Happy Birthday and Semper Fi!

Not to ignore all the other veterans: Veterans Day is November 11th. It is all of you who served — regardless of which branch of service — who keep and have kept America free. So from me to every single one of you, "Thank you for your service and my freedom!"

Let us not forget the last Thursday of this month, Thanksgiving. As always, we will stuff ourselves silly with turkey and all of the goodies that go along with it. Some will be watching the football games. I know I will be glued to the television watching the National Dog Show. During this day, we should all take a moment to count our blessings. I know "blessings" will be different for each of us, but still, they should be counted. Take the time to also remember the ones who cannot be here with us during the holidays, whether they are the military serving overseas, friends and family living someplace else, or our loved ones that have passed away.

All will be in my thoughts and prayers. I hope they will be in yours, too.

Thanksgiving meal
Photo by Fotolia/pressmaster

Halloween Candy and Teal Pumpkins

Mel BooneThis time of year, I think about Halloween. Sometimes I think about it a little too much. I remember when I was a kid, my mom would make homemade sugar cookies with orange icing to pass out to trick-or-treaters. These days, if you get something homemade, it gets thrown away because it isn't commercially packaged.

I was always excited to get home and go through my bag of goodies. I wanted to see how much of my favorite candy I got — Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, Snickers candy bars, Mr. Goodbars, KitKat bars, Hershey's chocolate, homemade popcorn balls, and homemade Rice Krispie treats. Anything that was left I couldn't care less about. Come to think of it, about half of what I got every year ended up as candy for my parents and grandparents. It didn't bother me a bit.

These days, not only do the homemade treats get tossed out, some kids don't get to eat candy at all. These days we know more about food allergies, so they have to be careful of the nuts, wheat, milk, etc. that prevent them from indulging in this holiday. This is why I love what the local library does, along with a few other people.

They leave a teal-blue pumpkin on their doorstep. This teal pumpkin is a very special pumpkin. It lets kids with allergies and their parents know that this spot gives out small toys instead of candy to children that are trick-or-treating. Now, kids with allergies can participate and keep what they get! For those who would like to participate with a teal pumpkin on their porch, take a look on the Oriental Trading Company website. I know they sell bulk candy, but you should be able to find some bulk toys to hand out, too.

It's also this time of year when I think about getting some sort of Halloween tattoo. I know, I know, it's such a silly idea. I probably won't do it, but I really want to. It's my favorite holiday, and I don't mind showing it. Perhaps a bat on my ankle or a black cat on my wrist. Maybe a cute little witch on my shoulder.

Of course, if I got one, I'd have to put it in a spot that can be covered up with clothing. Employers frown upon tattoos that can be seen when you are working. Maybe I'd be better off without the lifelong commitment of a permanent tattoo when a kids' sticker-type one can be easily washed off!

Halloween candy
Photo by Fotolia/Pétur Ásgeirsson

Ghosts, Witches, and Scarecrows

Mel BooneAs I post this blog for you to read, Labor Day weekend is well behind us. The tractor shows that I go to are done for another year. Kids are back in school. With the end of 2016 inching a little bit closer, fall has come to signal that my favorite holiday is near: Halloween.

Halloween has always been my favorite holiday, the 4th of July a close second. I've always loved dressing up in costume — ghost, witch, hippie, farmer, or whatever I could come up with. While working at a couple different retail jobs as an adult, being able to dress up for Halloween was a nice break from having to wear the typical, everyday, "store employee" uniform.

For several years, I decorated my front yard for Halloween. It usually consisted of three dummies: a witch, a scarecrow, and a spider on one or two of the antique tractors that my step dad and I have. Some purple and orange lights, garlands of fall leaves, and other decorations were included. I enjoyed doing it every year. As things go, decorations get worn out, lost, or damaged, so I've put that tradition on hold until I can afford new stuff.

One year, I put the spider dummy in the tractor seat of the Farmall F-20. The scarecrow and the witch were sitting on square bales of hay behind the tractor. This was the year that I had a stray cat named Slick living on the property. He was a friendly cat with shiny black fur that made him look so slick and shiny. He took to those hay bales as soon as I came home with them and spent most of his time curled up between the scarecrow and witch, sound asleep. Sometimes he even curled up on their laps. Slick managed to startle several drivers when he moved. They didn't realize that he was real!

The pictures that I took of the various Halloween displays that I've put in the yard have been misplaced. At least I have the memories. Those are memories that can put a smile on my face.

Halloween sign

Buggy for Sale

Mel BooneGoing to various sales and auctions, you never know what you might find. This summer at a local auction, which happened to be of the first day of the flywheel reunion, there were items for sale that I didn't expect to be there. Among the farm tractors and implements there were some Amish buggies for sale. A few of them were the open buggies that the Amish use, and one was the kind that was I call a "closed in buggy." I'm not sure what the Amish really call it.

Buggy

In the part of Missouri where I live there are a few Amish communities. They are not as big as some of the other Amish communities here in Missouri, but they are here. I've seen them ever since I was a little girl, and I suspect that they made their home here long before I was born.

Even though I don't have any Amish friends, the ones that I've been around have always been nice to me. They have always had a smile on their faces and seem to be happy to say hello. The ones that know my stepdad always find the time to visit for a few minutes. I've bought the homemade noodles, pie, and bread that some of the women sell. The taste is absolutely amazing! There's no doubt in my mind that they could teach us "English" a few things about cooking. Their food tops anything that would come out of high-priced restaurant or culinary school.

Their work ethic is amazing. They all work so hard, and they do it without modern technology. How many of us can go without our smartphone, tablet, wi-fi, etc. for any length of time? I was without a computer and internet for four days and then spent two hours trying to rid my inbox of 500 emails.

Now to circle back to that auction. Looking at those buggies sitting among the tractors and implements to be sold, I wondered why these Amish buggies are being sold. A death in the family? Perhaps all the children are grown up and married, so a few of the buggies are no longer needed? Or did a family leave the Amish community to live their life as the "English" do?

I may never know the answer. As an "English" person, my curiosity still makes me wonder.

Trip to the Fair

Mel BooneEvery year, I can't resist going to the local county fair. I didn't participate in 4H or FFA as a kid. At that time, people had a tendency to look down their noses at a "town kid" being in something that was supposed to be for the "country kids." I guess it was just as well. I was way too shy and bashful. I really had no place to raise a project — like a chicken, turkey, or pig — at home.  So as an adult, I applaud the youth who are in these organizations and participate in the local and state fairs.

Goats
2016 Macon Town and Country Fair, Macon, MO

Here at home, the local fair is in July at the county fairgrounds, just a couple of weeks before the antique tractor show. The kids are really in to it. They come out and, with the help of adults, set up the pens and bring out their animals. Once there, the kids are always busy grooming, feeding, and showing off their animals. It's wonderful to see one kid there and, a year or two later, the sibling competing as well. They learn to be responsible. They learn what it is like to be a good sport, too. Not everyone can be Grand Champion or Reserve Grand Champion. When the fair is over, the kids all come together to clean up and take down the pens. You can go out there the very next day and not know that the fair was just there. The kids clean the place up that good!

Someday, I would love to go back to the Missouri State Fair in Sedalia. I've only been there twice: once to a Red Power Roundup, and once to the fair when I was 16. That trip was just to go to the Clint Black concert. I would love to make a day trip to it, just to see the animals.

If you ever get that chance, take it. The kids who participate are our future. With all the hard work that they do just to get there with their animals, they deserve a pat on back.

Prize winning turkey
2016 Macon Town and Country Fair, Macon, MO