Saturday, March 31, 2012

Samson 2, Squirrels 0

It happened again.  Samson captured and killed a squirrel.  It has been almost 4 years since he last caught a squirrel.  He has bagged a few rabbits and field mice since then, but squirrels have been beating him at his game for a while.  Until today.

It seemed an innocent enough act.  Samson was at the slider in our Back Room and he was squeaking.  Samson makes a high pitch squeak when he wants to go out, and his squeakiness is attenuated when there are squirrels in his yard.  I saw two squirrels running around near a large tree in our yard.  I thought that Samson would have no chance whatsoever to catch either of these squirrels.

I was wrong.

I did not see him bag his quarry.  It was Deirdre who looked out into our yard and said to me, "Oh my!  He got the squirrel!  He got the squirrel!."

I went outside and Samson was proudly standing over his prey.  The squirrel from my vantage point did not have any obvious wounds, but it was clearly not moving.  I called Samson away and he did walk away, but he kept looking back at the squirrel, as if it was going to get up and play again.

We got Samson in the house and Deirdre said to me, "You know, I am not taking care of the squirrel."  I acknowledged her comment.  I went into the garage to get a shovel and gloves in case I needed to humanely end the life of the squirrel.

I walked up to the squirrel and he was clearly dead.  I rolled the animal over and there were abrasions in his fur, most likely put there by Samson's canine teeth.  The squirrel also seemed quite limp, so I am suspecting that once Samson had the squirrel in his mouth he shook it a couple of times and broke its back.

I disposed of the squirrel's lifeless body, returned my tools and gloves to the garage and I came into the house.  I praised Samson for his efforts.  His tail was wagging wildly as I patted his head and gave him a puppy treat.

Be forewarned if you are a squirrel or other varmint and you dare cross into Samson's yard. You do so at your mortal peril.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

From the Archives: Happy St. Patrick's Day

From the archives.  Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Those of you who know my heritage know that I am half Irish and half German. My mother's family came over from County Mayo in the 1800s and settled in easter Pennsylvania. The Irish did not stray far away from other Irish when it came to marriage, so I come from a long line of Hastings and Clancys. My father, however, is a first generation German. His mother and father emigrated to the United States in 1921. My parents met when they were both stationed at Parks Air Force Base in California. They married and moved back to Michigan where I was born and raised. Well, my mother is quite proud of her Irish heritage and when I was growing up, St. Patrick's Day was always a cause for celebration. We would go to the annual St. Patrick's Day Parade in downtown Detroit, we would wear green clothing and sometimes put on silly hats and pretend to be leprechauns. One part of the celebration was the evening meal, which invariably was Corned Beef and Cabbage. For the life of me, I think that the reason why so many Irish left the Emerald Isle is because like me, they could not stand this vile cut of seasoned meat.

Each St. Patrick's Day my family would look forward to eating what was essentially boiled shoe leather. My mother would fill a cauldron with water, throw in a hunk of corned beef, some potatoes, cabbage, maybe some salt and pepper, perhaps some celery for flavor. How one could ever flavor shoe leather is beyond me, but she would try nevertheless. The aroma of this dank cut of meat would fill the house, so I would try to spend as much time as possible outdoors whenever this "dish" was being prepared. After my father came home from work, the table would be set and the the carcass of beef would be removed from the pot, along with the soggy vegetables and potatoes. My siblings would rejoice at the thought of the meat, while I could barely keep myself from retching at the stench of it.

So, we would then take our places at the table, grace would be said and then my parents and siblings would relish in the consumption of this thoroughly proletarian dish. I was forced to eat this wretched excuse for a meal, so I would slather as much mustard as possible between two pieces of bread, then put a slice of this offensive meat there as well. I would then try to gulp this down, chewing as little as possible so that I would not have to taste it, much.

So, while I applaud the celebration of the birth of the patron saint of Ireland, to this day I cannot stomach the smell, taste or appearance of corned beef. I will probably have a beer or two, maybe even a green one. I will leave the consumption of corned beef to the peasants.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Farm Living

Yesterday, Deirdre and I spent a few hours on a local dairy farm.  One of Deirdre's former co-workers, Jessica, is married to a diary farmer, whom she affectionately refers to only as Dairy Man in her blog.  It was quite an event to spend some time at a functioning dairy farm in western Michigan.

First off, it is the size of things.  Everything seems larger than life.  Large barns, large cows, large equipment.

From 10 Mar 2012

Did I tell you that the cows are large?

From 10 Mar 2012

Everything runs on a schedule.  The cows are milked three times a day, every day of the year.  What was amazing to me was how the cows just seemed to know what to do.

From 10 Mar 2012

From 10 Mar 2012

From 10 Mar 2012

The trundle into the milking parlor and quietly take a position in the row of of milking machines.

When the milking is done (it takes about 10 minutes I am told), the cows trundle out of the parlor and the next set of cows enter for their turn at the milking machine.  Repeat.  Repeat.  And clean.  Every time the cows move, something is cleaned.

And can these cows eat.  Lots of hay and hominy and alfalfa.

From 10 Mar 2012

These cows are gentle creatures who at first back away from you as you approach them.  However, after a few minutes they sense that you are no danger to them and the seem to snuggle right up to you.

From 10 Mar 2012

Cow 1851 seemed to like the fact that I was there taking her picture.  

Thanks you, Jessica and Dairy Man for showing us a little bit of your world.  next time we visit, we all need to go to the Blind Squirrel.

From 10 Mar 2012