Wednesday, June 26, 2013

It's Okay - I'm From Arkansas

I was standing out on the front porch the other evening.

Smoking a cigarette.

In my boxer shorts.


When a shiny Cadillac pulled up along side the road. The electric windows powered down revealing a well decorated blue haired lady.

"You should be ashamed of your self! We shouldn't have to look at that! Don't you have a bathroom?!?"

I shook it, flexed at the knees like we men always do and stowed it away again. I took a long draw from the smoke, blew out a puffy cloud.

"Naw! I ain't got a bathroom! But it's okay. I'm from Arkansas

Pig Tractor Part 3

 After only three weeks on this patch, the pigs had tilled it all up, we moved them to the next area and we planted tomatoes and Mississippi Silver Crowder peas, mulching heavily with old hay the morning after our rainstorm described in "Struck By Lightning". Between the rows of peas on the right I have a bed prepared for a planting of garlic come October.

 After only two weeks (the pigs are now HOGS and becoming more efficient at pulling up the weeds) the second patch of garden space has been cleared. Now its our turn to lay out the beds and plant with something that will add nitrogen to the soil and something that will loosen it a little.

 Here are Squeal and Grunt in their final paddock in our garden area. This over grown area has already been obliterated by their tough jowls and muscular snouts. The picture was taken after only two days on the patch. Next up for them - they will do the same in our pasture areas where we will throw down grass and clover seed for the rest of the year.

This, in an unrelated note, is our asparagus bed (three 30 foot rows) all "ferned out". It has finally been weeded and mulched. Nothing else to do here until the first heavy frost kills the ferns. Then we snip them off at ground level, fertilize the area, lay down a heavy blanket of leaves, and then place the ferns on top to hold it all in place. Then, God willing, by the time the Irises bloom out next spring we will be up to our ears in asparagus!

Sunday, June 23, 2013

It's Okay - I'm From Arkansas

I had the idea for a series of very short stories I would call "It's Okay. I'm from Arkansas" a few years ago on an ill-fated "family reunion" we "good" Hutchinses held in Branson Missouri. There were 12 of us on the trip. Mom, Dad, my sister,  Patt and me, and our three boys, and my brother and sister in law and their two lovely daughters. After a weekend of shopping and a "Hee Haw" type musical show, it was left up to us (Patt and I) to decide where to eat one last time before heading home.

We decided on an Irish Pub located around the Promenade there in Branson, much to the chagrin of my mother and sister. I checked with my brother to make sure it was okay if Patt and I ordered a pint of Guiness. He said he didn't mind. I was worried that our drinking a beer would cause an uncomfortable situation with he and his daughters. It did uncomfortable situation with my sister and mother was, of course, inevitable. "What are you drinking?" they asked. "Root beer", I said.

We had all finished eating our meals. Every plate was still half full. Mine because I ordered too much, my sisters and mother's because they would not admit they liked it even if they did. The waitress came out to present the check and asked if we would like "To Go" boxes for our left overs. Mom and Sis said "no" because we were going to be driving 6 hours home.

Patt and I said yes. But since no one else wants their left overs, we would take them all. "Just bring out a garbage bag. We'll fill it up to feed the pigs when we get home." The waitress smiled and said "Sure!"

I glanced down the table  at Mom and Sis to be met with looks of incredulous disgust - shock really. I looked at them and said in my most reassuring, sarcastic laden tone:

"It's okay. We're from Arkansas!"

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Struck By Lightning

I started writing "Hot and Dry and Humid" in my farm journal (which I hope to turn into Boyd's New Arkansas Farmer's Almanac someday), what seems like a year ago. Progress on the farm has been occurring in fits and starts, go out, work a little until I just start feeling a little dizzy, then back inside for a rest. Hot and Dry and Humid. Every day. Eventually I stopped writing it out and opted for just the acronym, "HDH". Once I tired of this exercise I start just making the "ditto" marks, then, this being too much to bear, day after long hot day, the entries are blank. So I really can't tell the last time we got any significant rain.

Today I worked a few projects until the heat got too bearable - 9AM Arkansas Time, then I reverted back the strategy of keeping the projects short and doable, so I could run back inside, shirt soaked, in front of a fan, reading my favorite book of all time until I fall into a catnap, then back outside for another little project.

The last project I started, out of desperation, was to set up a sprinkler in the portion of the garden where our tomatoes and cow peas are planted. My hope, in addition to watering the plants, was to soften the ground which has become hard and cracked, so I could do some easy weeding early tomorrow morning.

I performed my annual ritual of soaking my self with the sprinkler until I could get the range and direction set to only water what I needed watered and then did the evening chores. Hark! What do I hear? Is that the rumble of what we used to call thunder? And the flashing on the horizon? Could that be, what was it we called those bright flashes that immediately preceded this thunder. Lightning, that's it. No rain though, just the preamble. Kind of like a movie trailer that promises a laughing in the aisles comedy but fails to deliver once your in the middle of it.

The air did cool down a bit and the breeze picked up making it tolerable, at least, to be outside. So I decided to help Patt weed the strawberries in the Cross Garden. started to rain! Rain! Glorious Rain!

I continued weeding. Patt called the dogs and ran in the house. I thought she would have asked me to come in the house with her saying something like, "You'll get hit by lightning". To which I would have replied, "Then I will die doing something I like to do...or I'll survive and be one of those savants that can read people's minds..."

When she returned, wearing her straw hat and work gloves, I smiled inside. You know, like the feeling you get when you know that everything is going to be okay? By the time she got back out to the garden my white woven cotton work shirt was soaked through. I was dead sexy! Kind of like Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy coming up out of the lake sexy. Funny that Patt did not mention it.

Any way, we got the strawberries, rosemary, and thyme beds weeded. I ran to the barn to turn the sprinkler off while Patt went inside. The cool air refreshed me as I entered. Patt showed me the radar of West Arkansas out of Russelville. There was one storm on the screen. A small one, directly over our farm.

I told Patt that what happened made all the heat worth it. She said, "well I wouldn't go that far."

Now a nice dinner of beef in a wine reduction and swiss chard with raisins and pine nuts.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Migraine Management

It starts out with a vague tingling all over my scalp which causes me to tense up my shoulders and neck. No matter how much water I drink I remain thirsty. Nausea makes its appearance. Eating a snack helps for a few minutes; fluorescent lights begin to blink - I can see the waves of photons flashing on and off giving me a sense of vertigo. I try to relax my shoulders, neck, and back, but the relief is for only as long as I can concentrate on doing so. Before I know it, I am tensed back up. My face becomes flushed and the tingling that started on my scalp begins to make my hair hurt - I know this is strange, but it is so. I start to feel dehydrated and feverish, ache-y, almost flu like. Now I feel as though a giant is standing behind me and he has placed  his big paw, fingers spread on top of my skull and he is pressing down and squeezing my brain. Bright lights intensify the general discomfort I am feeling. Smells pleasant and otherwise turn my stomach. I long for an inert environment, no smells, no lights, no heat, no noise. Now, when I have to bend over, read, or look down, the membrane between my skull and brain begins to throb. Before days end, and with still an hour's drive to get home, the throbbing is constant, the nausea is ever-present and intensifying; the air conditioner is on high, the vents directed right at my bright red face, but I can still feel the hot blood coursing through my skin. This is my migraine headache.

Here's how I fix it.

Supply List:

Damp, not dripping clean wash cloth.
2 Excedrin Migraine tablets
Ice cold glass (not plastic) of water
Oscillating fan
3 Pillows
Dark Room
Pleasant smelling (to you), natural essential oil like peppermint, lavender, or rosemary.
Loose fitting clothes

Step 1 - soak the wash cloth in cold tap water, wring it out so it is very damp but not dripping wet. Throw it in the freezer.

Step 2 - take the Excedrin tablets drinking the entire glass of ice cold water.

Migraines are generally accompanied by a feeling of fever. One can sometimes not cool down, the face is flushed and hot, one can sweat. 

Step 3 - Take a "quick-as-cold-as-you-can-stand-it" shower. Don't use soap, the aroma can make the headache worse.

Dry off so you are not dripping wet but leave your skin a little damp.

 Step 4 -Put on your pajamas or whatever loose fitting clothes you are comfortable in.

Tight fitting clothes increase the discomfort and exacerbate the stress you are feeling.

Step 5- Stack the pillows on your bed so you will be comfortably reclined. And set up a fan in such a way that it will gentle blow air across you as you lie down.

Step 6 - Get the wash cloth out of the freezer, go to the bedroom, close the door, turn out the lights, lie down, take a brief sniff of the oil (I like peppermint or lavender),  place the wash cloth over your face.

Make sure it is quiet and you are comfortable and able to relax shoulder and neck muscles. Lying on your back, I have found, is best.

Concentrate on relaxing and breathing. Consciously refrain from grinding your teeth or clenching your jaw.

Follow this breathing pattern.

Deep breath in for 4 seconds, hold it for just a moment.
Exhale for 8 seconds. (I usually just count the throbs of my temples to keep time). Hold for a second.
Count 1.
Repeat this.
Count 2 and so on.

Counting and breathing keeps your mind off your crappy day, how bad you feel, and any stresses that may creep into your mind that may cause you to tense up again.

I have found that I will drift off to sleep within about 5 minutes and if I don't have anything to do, and the family is willing, I will sleep all night. But, if I do need to get back up to take care of things during the evening, I usually am able to and I wake up refreshed and pain-free.