Of Wood Chucks and Butternut Squash

Did you know that wood chuck’s love butternut squash?

I know this to be true because I sacrificed one to bait the live trap last week to catch the furry little varmint who was trying to move into the pole barn.

It worked! That wood chuck ate every piece of that butternut squash as he awaited his fate.

When my husband told me the news, I jokingly replied, “At least he had a good last meal!”

To which my husband responded, “I think I’ll just take him with me to work and let him go at the river.”

I won’t repeat my reply.

Fast forward to that afternoon. Nate and I went to help some new neighbors move in about ten miles away and Jan joined us later, after work. When we were finished, we sent Nate home alone so the two of us could ride home together.

I had a few minutes to sit in the suburban alone savoring the peace and quiet after the busy afternoon before Jan joined me.

We took off down the gravel road, and I proceeded to fill him in on every little detail of my day (as only a wife can) and was in the middle of a long – but very important story – when he suddenly stopped the Suburban on a bridge.

I paused mid-sentence and asked the obvious, “What are we doing?”

He pulled on his gloves as he said, “Letting your little furry friend go.”

What?! That creepy rodent of unusual size was sitting behind me the entire time?! I shuddered at the thought.

I don’t know what was worse – sitting there in blissful silence while a beady-eyed wood chuck sat menacingly behind me or if he had a made a noise and announced his presence.

I think the latter.

“I thought you were going to let him go this morning on the way to work?” l asked while he carefully grabbed the trap from behind me.

“I couldn’t find a good spot”, he replied as he carried the cage to the edge of the concrete bridge and opened it.

I won’t repeat my reply.

But I wasn’t happy as I sat in the Suburban and watched my husband try to get that critter to leave the cage.

After several minutes I had had enough. I grabbed an extra set of gloves, marched across that bridge, picking up a stick as I went and then -mumbling something about pesky varmints and husbands who should listen to their wives – I whacked the cage where his back side sat with a primal scream that sent that critter running.

“And you better not show up at our place again!” I yelled as he disappeared.

My husband laughed.

The laughing stopped two days when he looked out the window and saw a wood chuck hobble across our yard.

My husband said it might not be the same one – but then again – it might be limping with a sore backside from a ferocious whack!

I won’t repeat my reply.

But I did sacrifice another butternut squash to catch that furry nuisance.

And this time he didn’t get another chance.

At least he had a good final meal.

 

Calf Races

It’s Teen Pact week for Buddy!

While he is at the Iowa State Capitol running for office, passing legislation, playing ultimate Frisbee and hanging out with friends – I’m doing his chores at home.

So of course – a cow gets out.

I spotted it eating grass in the ditch on Tuesday. My first response was to call Buddy – who would have grabbed his boots and coat and calmly taken care of the situation.

But then I remembered that he was gone.

So I called Angel Girl – who thankfully had the day off from work.

“Can we do this ourselves?” I asked.

Angel Girl took one look and said, “It’s just a calf – no problem – I got this.”

“Do you need my help?”

She shrugs, “You can come out if you want to.”

By the time I went to the bathroom (at my age you don’t run anywhere with a full bladder), found shoes and socks and a hoodie, she had calmly walked out and with a few waves of her arms had that calf were he belonged.

Seriously.

In yoga pants, flip flops and a t-shirt.

I was impressed.

Fast forward 24 hours.

I look out the kitchen window and see that same varmint calf in the ditch.

What? I thought the fence was fixed?

Buddy’s gone. Angel Girl’s at work. It’s just me. But if they can do this, honestly, how hard can it be?

I went to the bathroom as a precautionary measure, found shoes and socks and a hoodie and walked calmly down the road just like the kids.

But that calf took one look at me and started running. The opposite direction. Fast.

Seriously? Do I look that scary in the morning? Maybe I should have combed my hair?

We run back and forth along the fence line a few times before he bolted for the yard. Under the clothesline, past the house, and through the garden with me in hot pursuit.

He hooked a right just as we got to the gate, ran back to the yard and we did the whole thing again.

Twice.

As we rounded the corner past the house for the third time I called it quits.

Varmint calf won.

I walked in the house and called my husband.

I can’t tell you what I said, but it worked.

He drove home.

He calmly walked to the ditch where he found the varmint calf resting, obviously exhausted after our race.

Then he waved his hands.

And that varmint calf miraculously found the hole in the fence and jumped back in.

Boom. Just like that.

I give up.

I think I’ll stick to quilting.

Broken Fences

b099e3ee-a45d-4f37-90c8-d3cf83e07397The far back corner of our property has some of the worst fences we own. It’s wooded and overgrown with raspberry thickets and multi-flora roses.

The barbed wire is old and weak. The woven wire is saggy.

We patch and we fix, knowing that what we really need to do is rip the whole thing out and put in new. But it just never makes it to the top of the to-do list.

It’s the weak spot in our defenses.

A few weeks ago a neighbor got a new bull – a noisy, take-charge type – that has let the entire countryside know of his arrival. His arrogant bellowing was a challenge to our cows.

It didn’t take them long to find the weak spot and push their way through. Twice.

A cow round-up gives one ample time to think, and I pondered the profound as I drove the 4 wheel drive through the neighbor’s rainy pasture.

I have personal weak spots.

There are areas in my life where my defenses are low, and I am the most vulnerable.

And it’s at those weak spots that the bellowing of the world will be heard the loudest; that the siren call to see what was on the other side will be the most alluring.

It’s in those vulnerable areas, that I will be tempted to push my way through and wander in areas that I don’t belong, away from the protected pastures that God has prepared for me.

There is no way that I can silence the neighbor’s arrogant bull, and there is no way to silence the call of the world around me.

But I can identify those weak spots.

Use scriptures like barbed wire to protect myself.

And fix that fence.

Surprises

Life is full of surprises.

Some of them good.

Like having two of your kids surprise you with a visit.

Bringing flowers.

Filling the house with laughter and conversation and fun.

And surprise birthday parties for sweet friends at church.

11146493_10152775272351423_2927726358448763586_nSharing memories, laughter, tears.

Singing. Hugging. Crying.

Praying for healing.

Such sweet times.

Other surprises are not so fun.

Like waking up on Sunday morning – after 3 inches of rain overnight – to a flooded basement and realizing that all the dirt work and the new gutters didn’t work.

Then getting more rain and more flooding.

And there are the surprises I’m not so sure about –

Like the box of orphan kitties Buddy brought home.

New ImageThey sure are cute – in a very loud and needy way.

Their constant cry for love and attention is breaking this momma’s heart.

Meow. Meow. Meow.

Did you know there are thousands of different ways a kitty can get himself in trouble – especially without a mother? It’s a wonder any of them make it to adulthood.

But they are so adorable.

I actually sat down and held one. More than once.

Yep. Life is full of surprises.

 

Checking Cows

IMG_2029Every afternoon when Jan comes home from work, he grabs a snack while I grab a coat and we head out for a walk.

The official term for this jaunt in the winter afternoon is “walking the fence line” or “checking the cows”.

He can call it whatever he wants – but I call it the best part of my day!

It’s a perfect excuse to hold my honey’s hand and hike across the frozen pastures, catching up on the days activities.

And  – since it’s also the one time during the year that I can walk freely anywhere on the property with no fear of poison ivy – I’ve been in and out of ravines and to every remote corner.

These walks, however, are not without their hazards. There are always thorn trees, the evil multiflora rose bushes and the dreaded blackberry vines to scratch you and impede your progress.

Not to mention the the occasional slip on steep banks or frozen cow pies to trip you up.

And I guess one of these days we’ll actually find the cows.

And they won’t be where they are supposed to be.

And the fence will be down.

And our peaceful walk hand in hand through the pasture will turn into a cow chase and a trudge back to the barn for fence supplies.

But that’s a risk I’m willing to take.

‘Cause there’s something pretty wonderful about soaking up the late afternoon sunshine while walking hand in hand with my husband.

Frozen cow pies and all.