Of Grit and Bone September 13, 2018

About the title, read this if you’re curious.

6:39 AM. Sun is just coming up.

Normally, about this time, our resident tomcat Barron  comes to the front door and starts scratching.  He wants two things.  First, a snuggle.  He’s the only cat on the property, and since he and Libby (our Labrador) do not like each other, we are Barron’s only family.    I found him a couple of years ago , in the median strip of a 4 lane highway about 2 miles from here.   He was a half-grown kitten at the time.  If I’d not stopped to rescue him, he would have been run over.

Which means he owes me his very life blood.  🙂

(Remember that scene from the Star Wars series? That creature with the big floppy ears)

Second thing he wants is to get fed.  If I leave his food dish out over night, sure as heck, a raccoon or opossum will find it.

Here are some of the issues currently in the mix:

My Dad,  New remodel at work, the Rat Invasion, The apple crop.

I’ll start with my dad.  Dad is 86.  Until a week ago, he was still driving.  Mom and him would go out daily for lunch. They moved to town in May, after 50 plus years on the farm.  Last Tuesday I got a call from my sister in the morning.  Dad had fallen and was en route to the hospital.   Pretty sure he’d broken his leg. (He did)  Quite a bad break.  Doctor told my dad and sister (who is a  nurse) before going into surgery, there was a very real chance he might never be able to walk again.  Surgery went better than expected.  He will be able to walk, (will probably have a limp) but considering the alternative, that was very good news.  My mom, was already scheduled for hip surgery before all of this happened.  Looks like the two of them will both be using walkers in the near future.  They are so thankful to be surrounded by a large network of extended family. That’s the sort of thing you don’t think about when you’re in your 20’s or 30’s, healthy, and living La-Vita Loca. (Living the crazy life.)

It has been so touching, humbling, encouraging, energizing, and inspiring to watch how different ones have stepped  forward to use their individual talents to help out.  One sister is a nurse. She spent the first several nights with dad @ the hospital.  Another sister, has the gift of administration.  Between the two of them, they have coordinated  all of the communication between the various health care entities, rehab,  scheduling who is available to drive when and where.

Wife and I have been  staying overnight with mom, helping drive her to her various appointments, etc.

You may have already seen this action photo of the crew who helped move them in May:

Several of you  have come to mind recently.  (Marilyn, Val, and Di to be specific)  All of you have had to say good-by to your mom within the past couple of years, and that thought has  energized me to make the most of the time with both of my parents.

    Work. I am in the middle of a large remodel.  It has been a mixed bag.  House is situated out in the middle of 40 acres of timber.  Yesterday we could hear the walnuts falling.  It continues to keep me physically fit, and it pays the bills. I get to work with my son on the project. He scheduled his work load to be available to help. Considering, I started taking him to work with me about the time he was 5…he is a gift to have on the crew. On the negative side of the ledger, we’ve just finished  enduring almost 2 weeks of nonstop rain.  Financially that cost me in rental equipment, and lost productivity.  I saw some yellow fungus  starting to grow on the side of house Monday.   One of my new co-workers decided to not show up the day we set roof trusses (between rain showers, over the existing house)  That ticked me off.  His phone has been surgically  attached to his hand so I know he could see me calling to find out where he was.   He didn’t answer.  That proverb about a faithful man…who can find?  Yep, they are getting harder and harder to find.

The rat invasion

Normally I equate rats with an active farmstead with grain and fresh feed supplies..(we don’t have either)  Well, when I got on my lawnmower 3 weeks ago,  4 large healthy rats came tumbling out of the mower deck.  We have a lawnmower with a 6 foot deck.(the mower is in  front rather than underneath.)

Creep-ed  me out.

Two of them were as large as squirrels.  I  had noticed half a dozen holes around the perimeter of our red barn (rat activity) but never gave it any thought until that day.  As I looked around the basement of the barn, I could see multiple spots where the rats had dug tunnels right up through the concrete floor.  The thing is, the barn is less than 100 feet from our 110 year old farmhouse with a limestone foundation.  Come winter, the last thing I want is for that horde to send some scouts over to our house.   So, I bought a 9 pound pail of rat bait.  It was gone in 3 days. Bought a second. Same thing.  Talked to Dave @ the store, he recommended the more expensive stuff. I am on my 3rd 9 pound pail of super-duper, heavy-duty rat bait.  At $50 plus dollars a pail, the novelty has worn off. (and one feeding is supposed to kill them)

There is definitely a life lesson in all of this for me.

And finally the Apple crop.

Another Japanese Beetle invasion decimated 80% of our Gingergold and Honey Crisp apple crop this season.  Each female beetle can lay up to 60 eggs in the fall.  Last season, I thought..it couldn’t get any worse.

Well, it did.

Japanese Beetles on a Ginger gold apple

(I think they look like Christmas tree ornaments.)

Japanese beetles on peaches 2018

We did manage to save 2 bushel of peaches. Bartered for some peach wine, and peach pies from the neighbors.

In spite of the rats, the beetles, the no-shows at work, and the rain,  I have a remarkably flippant, detached attitude most of the time.  I can trace it right back to a book my dad gave me when I was 14.  He said to me, “Junior, you need to read this book.”   

I did.

Norman Vincent Peal’s book, The Power of Positive Thinking.

It changed the trajectory of my life.

Not saying I’m on my game 100% of the time…but can’t imagine what life would feel like to just focus on the nasty.


Well, time for me to wrap it up.

Bus leaves in 45 minutes. DM


20 thoughts on “Of Grit and Bone September 13, 2018

  1. Neither the guys at the body shop nor I am certain, but we think it was rats that chewed large holes in the rocker panels on both sides of my car. When I visited my insurance agent to discuss the claim, I was astonished when she said, “Oh, yeh. It happens.”

    More rat bait, please!

    And glad to hear that your dad’s doing well, considering.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Couple of years ago, I had a brand new heavy duty plastic garbage can with a lid, for storing my chicken feed…unbeknownst to me, the rats had chewed right through the side of the can (we’re talking almost 1/4 inch thick industrial grade plastic.) I can almost hear them laughing and snickering

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Framing a response to this post has me pausing to remember your interest in Muir and how you take his words to heart regarding substance and details in writing. I believe you are the only blogger I follow who almost always asks me for more Doug–more information, more detail, more sharing of myself. Sometimes I manage to fill in the blanks, sometimes not for my answers begin to feel like I am usurping your space with a blog post of my own!
    I also remember that I owe you a blog post about autumn- will continue to work on that 😉
    Some takeaways from your words today:
    Why is it that we hear, all too often, that when older folks make the decision to finally move to someplace that is supposed to be easier and more user friendly to their stage of life they begin to experience issues-like falling? That begs the question- are we doing the best for them by changing things up late in life?? Likely no clear answer to that one.
    Rats and insects-thank goodness I only have a few wayward spiders to contend with here. Once a week a new one shows up inside looking for a winter home now that the weather is getting cooler. The ones I cannot tolerate due to size and creepiness, get removed back to the wild to fend for themselves. If any showed up near to the size of a rat though…I might be the one to move!

    Liked by 3 people

    • One of my favorite John Muir stories takes place somewhere on the west coast…you can read the rest of it here: http://www.thestoryweb.com/muir/
      Anyway, thanks for taking the time to leave a thoughtful comment. 🙂 I don’t take for granted someone would take time out of their busy lives to not only read but say something. the ironic thing is dad fell on his old stomping grounds…he was out @ the farm that morning puttering around in the machine shed..the one he’s been familiar with for 50 years…thank goodness he had a cell phone..otherwise could have laid there a long time before someone found him.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Bless you for having me in your thoughts. It’s hard to believe it’s eight months since Mum passed away. I miss writing to her.
    As for the rat thing, Paul used pasta bait, which promptly disappeared so he had to put down more, but eventually it was left. The bait is taken back to the nest, the rats and babies eat it, and die. So maybe all is not lost with your financial forking out.
    Here we’ve been inundated with ladybirds, though they’re good for the veg as they eat aphids. Maybe not in their thousands though. I have never seen so many.
    Hope your Dad isn’t too uncomfortable, and I’m not sure if your Mum’s surgery is still pending or she’s had it. Hope she’s OK too anyway. Take care Doug. How are the bees?

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Sorry to read about dad, and mum.
    Getting older is a real bitch!

    As for your rats?
    Doug it’s time to buy an air rifle or learn to make roller traps.
    Bait is growing largely ineffective across the world simply because rats become immune to it over time and although people clear their immediate problem, the next time it reappears, they do exactly the same as last time i.e. lay the same type of bait.

    Thus rats just think “Ho hum, that same funny tasting food has reappeared” but now they are immune, to them, it’s just another take-out.”

    If you’ve got a spare 20 -50 gallon drum, time to think about a sunken roller trap.
    Needs non attention only emptying every couple of days, or when nothing is moving. Look at youtube, there are plenty of examples.
    Rats can swim, but not for 24 hours.
    Plus it’s cost effective in bait i.e. they never get to it.
    Best I’ve seen was 53 in 24 hours floating head down in the 1/3 full drum of water in an industrial unit I set one up in (that was a 50 gallon drum.
    Two sets of rollers (coke cans) in a cross, bait hanging above them in the middle.
    Some of them rats looked cat sized!
    That too was a classic case of using the same bait again and again.

    Oh yeah, if the cat is a ratter, you might like to think about NOT giving it a cuddle.
    Rat bites have all sorts of nasties in them and when the cat gives you a lick with that 80 grit tongue? Well you might not wish to go there friend.

    Meanwhile your missing worker.
    I remember when I turned up to a security job and the only person there was me.
    A 4 strong team was called for and 5 had phoned in sick. Number 5 being the watch supervisor.
    Poor luvs. It was raining and they probably didn’t want to get their hair wet.
    Anyway I got triple time and a week off for 12 hours work that night.
    I was well knackered at the end of it but after the tax man had taken his cut I could still afford not to work for two months!
    Those sort of jobs, (whoops) I meant paydays, I really liked!

    Keep safe my friend

    Liked by 1 person

    • If rats multiply as fast as I think they do, I hate to imagine how many of those suckers were living under that floor. Grosses me out..and I’m a farm boy who is not easily grossed out 🙂 I think you should come for a visit, build one of those roller traps, and spend a week, teaching me more of your tricks 🙂 I’ll put the tea pot on. Great story about the Overtime/ no show from your fellow security team members…it is getting harder and harder to find someone who actually wants to work these days.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Doug if we could afford it we’d come tomorrow. That is if your TSA or State department would give us a visa. Di’s OK for sure but I could be a teeny weenie bit less acceptable.

        Liked by 1 person

      • For whatever it’s worth, I’ve been told by many that rat bait/poison only attracts more rats. Apparently they make it so delicious so the rats will eat it, that it will attract more and more rats over to your place. They breed and multiply so quickly that the ones that die don’t even begin to compare to all the new ones coming and birthing. We have tried nearly everything and the one thing that finally worked- it’s been a year and a half now and no problems at all anymore- was getting several barn cats. Maybe you need a couple more kitties???! Good luck 💙

        Liked by 1 person

    • Awe..thank you Susan… He’s surrounded by a great team @ the hospital. my sister (the nurse) know them all..they have dad, just across the hall from the nurses station. (the staff @ the hospital love my sister too.) she works in the rehab area, and has touched the lives of countless people. I hear stories all the time from people who she has worked with. Dad is being well taken care of. Appreciate your kind words. DM

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I am glad you take things lightly. 🙂 We have packrats out West here.. they chew through all car wires and things, make nests in motors, climb on roofs, climb young fruit trees and chew off all fruit and branches and new grafts. They surely can make gardening miserable. They steal squash blossoms and vegetables right off the vines. Then there are gophers and quail who do the same. Dont even get me started. Lol
    I hope your dad recovers. All the best

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Oh no, I am so sorry to read of your Dad’s fall and subsequent injury – and your Mom is stressed and worried as well. Thank God for family being around and willing to help — what a kick in the pants that fall is, though. Yes, spending time with them where you can, the running the doing is all necessary but, as you said, slowing down to just “be” with them, too. They must be so frightened (and ticked off, too, I would be).

    Rats? Holy Hell — I’d get the traps, bait and dynamite — I’m with you, yes I’m a farm kid but the thought of barn-cat sized rats working their way into my basement? Heebee Jeebies right there!

    and on the worker bee that turned out to be a wasp … sadly … it’s becoming the norm –> with a strong economy ppl have choices. They don’t always make the right ones.

    Peace be with you, you’ve got your hands full!!


    Liked by 1 person

  7. 1. I love how you speak of your parents and cherishing them, and then in the next breath talk of your son and his being there for you, helping you in work…. beautiful.
    2. I hear you on the hard to find, we’re struggling too (always it seems) with keeping faithful employees
    3. I would REALLY LOVE to hear the life lesson you discover from the rats. Next post idea?! I have 2 titles for children’s books that I keep swearing I’m going to write one day “Rats, Cats and Bats” and “Pack Rat Party”. Looong story!
    4. Sorry about the beetles. I know I have recently heard a recommendation for that very same book. Have you posted about it before? I’m racking my brain. Definitely going to check it out.
    5. Your writing makes me happy, thank you 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  8. “The mountains may disappear, and the hills may come to an end, but my love will never disappear; my promise of peace will not come to an end,” says the LORD who shows mercy to you.”
    ‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭54:10‬ ‭NCV‬‬
    Praying for your mom and dad to have complete recovery! Praying for you to be able to get rid of the invading hordes! 🙏🏼♥️

    Liked by 1 person

    • thanks for the prayers Michelle. Dad is supposed to come home today. I think between the two of them, they will manage, though neither of them would be able to lift the other, if one of them does go down. Just read your latest post. I too go through seasons of writing. I will probably stick with the writing (vs the other forms of posting on line) Take care. DM

      Liked by 1 person

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