Of Grit and Bone 6/6/2021

Regarding the title, read this first.

Several short stories from the past week.

The centenarian

My wife has a friend Betty who is 106.

One hundred and six!

We stopped to see Betty yesterday for a few minutes. One of her sons and his family were in town, they wanted to see us while they were in town. Betty has spent most of the last year (due to COVID restrictions) sitting alone in her room at a care facility.

This was the first time I’ve seen her in well over a year. She was reminiscing about her days as a teacher. She loved being a teacher. Then she remembered her principal, Sister Lucia. “She was a good principal. Had the biggest laugh. I loved to hear Sister Lucia laugh.”

(Wouldn’t that be a legacy to be remembered by your laughter?)

It made me think.

As Betty was attempting to figure out who was in the room, (there were 6 of us), when she got to me, boy did she light up.

Made me feel like a local hero.

You see, my wife has been the eyes and ears for Betty’s family for the past year. All of Betty’s children live several hours away, all in their 70’s and 80’s. With her loss of hearing and sight, even phone calls have been a challenge. So in order to have something to talk about with Betty, my wife and I often make a list things she can talk to Betty about. (Honey bees, apple trees, harvest tables, baby chickens, wild flowers, starting tomato seeds, etc)

So many of the things they’ve talked about this past year, have involved me in one way or the other.

So there I was, in her room, in the flesh.

I could tell she was trying to find the right words to describe me to her family…“This is the guy who builds tables out of reclaimed barn wood then ships them all over the United States! He has so many interests! He is such an interesting person!



Son and I started another house roof this week. 2600 square feet. Two existing layers that need to come off. 100 square foot of shingle weighs 240 pounds. Doing the math, we will handle close to 4 ton of shingles between the two of us, the next couple of days. Temperatures are in the upper 80’s. Perfect hay bailing weather.

This may sound like one of those “When I grew up, we walked to school, up hill both ways stories”

But I’m going to tell it anyway.

Growing up on a farm in the 1970’s, the weather (hot or cold) was not the big deal it’s made out to be today.

When it was time to make hay, we just did it.

Yes, we listened to the forecast, and might hold off mowing hay if there was rain predicted, but other than that, I had no idea of how hot it was.

“Heat index”… Never heard of it.

These days when the temperatures are in the upper 80’s and 90’s, mentally, I just shift gears.

It’s hay baling weather.

Drink lots of water, wear a hat, If you start to feel woozy/ take a break. Savor the breeze, savor the cloud cover. Just don’t talk to me about how hot it is.

You think this is hot? You ought to be in the haymow.

Nothing more exhilarating than sliding down the hay elevator after stacking a couple of hundred bales of hay.


Had to put her down

I’ll keep the next story short.

Needs to be told.

We have about 20 chickens. Couple of them I’m especially fond of.

It’s their personalities. The ones that come up to me to say “Hi” when I get home from work. Or they’ll let me pick them up and sit on my lap.


And in one case, it was because she was the low chicken on the pecking order. Everybody else bullied her.

Last week I had to put the my favorite chicken down. Wife noticed some blood on her back side. She had been acting a little “off” the past week. Couple of nights when I went to lock them up, she was not in the roost. I had to go find her. That is not normal.

Sure enough, when I went to check her, her back side looked infected. Way beyond the point, of taking her to the vet. I hate watching anything suffer. So I did what any good farmer would do. I put her down. Carried her gently over to an area that I’ve used before to butcher chickens put her in cone and did what I had to do.

This all transpired in just a few minutes. (From the time my wife mentioned seeing blood, to me finding the chicken, then deciding what I needed to do. It was not an act (for me) that I did lightly. But it was the right thing to do.

Then I buried her.

Here’s the thing. We live in such a sanitized culture.

Sometimes life is messy.


Speaking of messy

Son and family are camping this weekend.

We stopped by their campsite last night for an hour.

At one point, I noticed the15 month old , sitting on the ground, playing on top old campfire spot.

I watched as he sprinkled fine grey ash over his legs.

Did my heart good.

His parents didn’t just rush in and stop him..

His mom said, “Why is he doing that????

I said “I think it is instinctive. Lots of animals do that.

Horses love to roll around in the dust…and chickens too. Ever see a chicken give itself a dust bath?

22 thoughts on “Of Grit and Bone 6/6/2021

  1. That last photo is hilarious. It reminded me that, when I was in grade school, I had a classmate who would eat a spoonful of dirt for a nickel. In those penny candy days, a couple of spoonfuls could guarantee him a Slo-poke, four root beer barrels, and a couple of crystal mints. Long live the entrepreneurs!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Oh fun! Would you believe I STILL love baling hay? (not the big round bales either..those little square ones, you get to stack on the wagon) I must have a little something off in my head…something about bringing order to those bales as they come off the baler.

      Liked by 2 people

      • As long as it’s the small square ones, it’s almost like a religion. Certainly a beloved experience, with so much satisfaction. And, as you said, it could be AS HOT AS … ! Ah, the comradery of a long, sweaty day’s work and a barn loft full of hay! 🙂

        Liked by 2 people

        • Yes, yes, yes. and yes. You understand. 🙂 ….and the sweet smell of curing hay on the afternoon breeze. It takes me right back to my teenage years. I’ve smelled it twice this past week.

          Liked by 2 people

  2. I love these small glimpses into your life Doug. Simple and clean. Sometimes you don’t need someone to write paragraph after paragraph (I’m guilty of that!) but just tell the story clearly and let the reader take from it what is needed.

    Liked by 3 people

    • I appreciate the feedback Deb! When I sat down this morning, I realized I did have a few short stories to tell from the week. I like how you put it..”small glimpses….simple and clean..and let the reader take from it, what is needed.” Yep, that does capture what I’m attempting to do. Thanks Deb! DM

      Liked by 1 person

  3. To this day….I cannot fathom how my brother and I managed to pack bundles of shingles up an extension ladder to the roof. Ow! On the shoulder you throw the bundle over. If I were to pack one up a ladder today – I’d have to go home and take a coffee break after.
    Funny about chickens – if hubby notices one being picked on, he will separate it out to hang out elsewhere. Our usually live 10 plus years. They usually perk up and do well for some time longer. But yes – if they’re suffering, you have to do something. 😊

    Liked by 3 people

    • Carrying shingles up the ladder is not for wimps. and then when you get to the top, transferring them to either the roof, or someone waiting..either way..it’s hard work. Dead weight. On this job, the homeowner said he wanted to buy the shingles himself..what I hadn’t figured on, was the place he bought them from ONLY had a fork truck that would lift 10 feet….I am used to having a boom truck deliver, so all you have to do is take them off the pallet and disperse. What a work out..carrying 75 bundle up the roof and dispersing the other day. I was sucking air by the end of that delivery. Always good to hear from you Val. DM

      Liked by 2 people

  4. It’s been hot here–low nineties. But it’s also the time to get the garden in, and we’ve been building new raised beds. Then comes the time to fill them–blending soil and amendment, screening the stored topsoil and spreading it. Garden timing waits for no one–like making hay. You could stay inside, and hope for cooler weather, but then the garden would be behind, (and every other project to follow it.) You drink more water, take a few more breaks, and sleep well at night.

    Liked by 2 people

    • A laborers sleep is sweet. And the older I get the quicker the energy level starts to be a factor. 🙂 How many new raised beds? You may have written about them, but I forget..what are you using for the beds (stone, wood, etc?) Do you plant everything in them or just certain crops? How is the native soil where you are?…questions, questions 🙂 BTW, you’ll appreciate this…I checked both of my walkaway splits tonight for the first time and BOTH of them were loaded with newly capped brood!!! What a rush…this was my first unsupervised attempt. ( I did the split about 6 weeks ago) Talk to you soon! DM

      Liked by 1 person

      • Four new raised beds. Two cedar, two concrete block. That makes for a total of eight. We’re shooting for twelve, maybe next year. We grow most everything in them, since our soils are so poor. (Glacial sand–and alkaline to boot.) What’s this year? carrots, beets, potatoes, tomatoes, zucchini, yellow crook neck squash, delicata squash, pie pumpkins, watermelon, green beans, box choi, peppers (two kinds), chard, lettuce (four kinds) radishes, lemon cucumber, sugar snap peas and scallions

        Congratulations on the splits. Our bees have been neglected–at first, too busy, and right now, too hot!

        Liked by 1 person

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