Down with dust

FINALLY got some rain this morning. Nearly 3 inches here at the farm and 2.5 at RBGR. I was going to start early today with more fencing we're doing at RBGR, but Amber got up to let the cat out at 5 AM and whispered to me that it was raining. Rain is good news for sleepy farmers. In case you weren't aware, we are in the epicenter of a very severe drought. Hay rolls down the highway like water to a sinking ship. On this U.S. drought map we are in the extreme/exceptional drought area. 3 inches goes a long way towards helping things. Last significant rain we had here was nearly three months ago. Ouch.

Deer droppings

Okay kiddos... here are some ground rules. It is not cool to drop off animals at stranger's houses. This rule also applies even when said stranger already has one specimen of whatever unusual species you are trying to unload. Case in point... We have an 8 point whitetail buck with an orange collar and a bell in the pen in front of our house. He came into our lives three years ago on a chance encounter in one of our pastures and for whatever reason has decided that he we will not leave, despite my tantrums, and despite the allure of heavily scented females in the surrounding woods. Well, as far as females go, he need not fret nor wonder any longer. Some benevolent individual, assuredly upon seeing his plight, has taken it upon themselves to provide him a mate. Family and I looked up a few days ago and discovered a new beating heart in our paddock. A little, baby female deer. Surely delivered by that illusive stork that populates our world, depositing babies and Gerber coupons in all needy locales. How else can one explain such a gift? Well, children, here is one attempt.

Individual X finds himself dressed in full camo alone in the woods on some stranger's property with his rifle. Ahoy! And what is that there? A doe? A deer? A female deer? Oh my. Oh me. Oh what am I to do? Well, shoot it I will. Yes, that is what I'll do. But wait! It is only July and hunting season is months away. Oh my. Oh me. Oh what will I do. Just shoot it. Okay. And shoot it X does. Well now, that was easy, and the eatings good. So dress it and haul it to my house I will and fill my freezer and light my grill. But wait, what's that? A little deer in the brush? It is. So quivering and scared. What to do, oh what to do? It's mother was alive but I shot in July. Oh? That is why, that is why there is no hunting season in July! Well, I'll take it to my daughter and she'll raise it on a bottle and we'll keep it till it's grown and give it a home, oh give it a home! So to his daughter little Bambi goes and she loves her spots and loves her nose. But feeding her is hard and they're playing games out in the yard, oh daddy no, daddy no, I will not take care of this Bambi anymore. Hmmm, so what is X to do with a baby deer in July... why I know!! I will put it in my truck and take it down the road to a place where I have seen another deer not in the woods, I will take it to the Greer's, to their yard, to their house, I will leave it without note as quiet as a mouse. They have a deer with a bell! So surely this will work out well. And I can tell that he's quite lonely and now poor motherless Bambi can be his one and only. The end.

Or... someone just found it. Or... the mother was hit by a car. Or... the stork?

And I really, honestly, without a hint of sarcasm have nothing against hunting or against killing an animal that you plan on eating. But regardless of whether or not a scenario similar to the above one actually lead to this baby deer being dropped off at our house, you know it happens all the time, and it really is pathetic. The rule is... killing is okay, but you have to kill by the rules.

Roadside Karl and a fat tomato sandwich

Been selling stuff on the side of the road again. Just can't seem to get away from the stink of fuel and the rumbling blasphemy of down shifting eighteen wheelers. Roll on! Actually I kind of enjoy meeting people who stop on the side of the road. An adventurous crowd, eager to see what pleasures I have to offer. This week my pleasure happens to be watermelons. Red meat and yellow meat, as they're known, although the yellow is actually orange and personally I find it a little odd to equate the cool, sweet flesh of a watermelon with rich, dense, incisor requiring animal flesh. Truth be told the melons are quite good. I've certainly had my fair share, and feel stronger, taller, and more healthy for it every day.

I've also initiated a recent addiction to a fairly common food item: the tomato sandwich. Just a tomato sandwich? Yes, just that. But its meager components combine to create a sandwich to remember. At the behest of the author Tom Robbins, who has a wonderful essay in his new book about why he would eat a tomato sandwich as his hypothetical death-row last meal, I have even given up one of my many food prejudices and use the dreaded white bread to prepare this poor man's delicacy. Tom's actual recipe requires only salt and pepper, Wonderbread, ripe tomatoes, and Hellmann's mayonnaise (known as Best Foods west of the Rockies). Wonderbread is apparently on the outs in these parts, so I had to use Holsem brand (whose name I really doubt). And mom prefers Kraft mayo, so that was what we had. And for the tomatoes... I just happened to grow some Brandywine tomatoes this summer, reputed by many to be the tomato to crush and wither all other tomatoes. And truly they are wonderful tomatoes. Big, thick, tangy, juicy, and red throughout. Everything a tomato should be, and nothing else. The recipe is simple: heavily mayo the bread, add slices of tomato, salt and pepper to taste, and voila! Delish! The first sandwich I made had tomatoes only minutes removed from the vine. They were still warm from the sun which made their flavor sing only that much louder. If you have homegrown tomatoes you're wondering what to do with, then roll up one of these honkers and wonder no more! It will certainly be one of my summer staples from now on.

The Moon Cannot Be Stolen

Ryokan, a Zen master, lived the simplest kind of life in a little hut at the foot of a mountain. One evening a thief visited the hut only to discover there was nothing to steal.

Ryokan returned and caught him. "You have come a long way to visit me," he told the prowler, "and you should not return empty-handed. Please take my clothes as a gift."

The thief was bewildered. He took the clothes and slunk away.

Ryoken sat naked, watching the moon. "Poor fellow," he mused, "I wish I could have given him this beautiful moon."

- traditional Zen koan

The rain in Spain...

falls mainly on the wrong plain. Or so it is here in the Northeast woods. I am trying to build a fence in Palestine and the rain cometh, oh how it cometh. Yet in Daingerfield where we are trying to grow plants and animals the rain hath dithered for yea on two months. We had a little rain for a few moments yesterday. An 8 inch rain, as our friend Paul said. A drop of rain every 8 inches.

But today here in fence building land we had 2 inches of real rain and lightning. You really shouldn't build a metal wire fence when there is lightning. Not that I'm going to stand in the rain anyway, but lightning gets me in even quicker. You don't want your cows to stand by the fence during a storm. That is a recipe for a premature barbecue. Lightning strikes a tree on the fence or hits the fence direct and its fajita time. Or so I've heard. Of course, there is a greater chance of a cow winning the lottery than...

My friend Richard is volunteering some time this week on my fencing project. I like it when my city friends ask to come do some country work... for free. There really is no better cure for the city than the country, and vice versa. Sometimes you just need to get outside and sweat a little or not even that but just get to where there is less happening or less of what you are used to happening is happening... and sometimes you just want to hear some decent live music and eat at a nice restaurant and do a little people watching. I am not a coffee at the Dairy Queen kind of guy. (For those that don't know, all across rural America men gather in places and drink coffee. Dairy Queen is particularly popular in Texas as there is one in almost every town.) I get my burgers to go and get my culture in the city. Maybe when I grow up I'll find my way into a coffee circle, but I've had the misfortune of being stuck in a few and really just have better things to do right now.

Because of the rain Richard only got to experience a couple hours of "fencin." Hopefully we'll have better weather tomorrow. We are nearly done here and ready to be finished and onto the next thing. While the rain was a hindrance, it was also a blessing as the heat dropped off and we got to imagine we resided in more pleasant climes for a while.