Thursday, June 28, 2018

Happy birthday Mr. Darcy

Our golden retriever Mr. Darcy turns one year old today.

We received a charming postcard in the mail from the breeders on this momentous occasion, which I thought was very cute.

Mr. Darcy, as you no doubt recall, filled the hole left in our lives when our Great Pyrenees Lydia unexpectedly passed away. Originally we thought we'd get two puppies, but as it turns out, Mr. Darcy is plenty dog enough for us, so we'll stick with just him.

He still has a lot of puppy energy, but Don has worked hard on his training and he's turned into quite an excellent dog -- though we can't quiiiiite seem to break him of the habit of chasing chickens. Maybe maturity will help.

Stick! Sticks are good!

He's due for his next round of shots in mid-August, and we'll have him neutered then as well.

Altogether he's been a fine addition to our household and keeps us young at heart. Happy birthday Mr. Darcy!

Monday, June 25, 2018

The contempt for "breeders"

I'm still coughing my guts out from this nasty and lingering bronchitis. Lately I've taken to sleeping in a recliner chair because I cough too hard when lying horizontal (it's no fun not sleeping with my husband!). It's amazing how this illness has diminished my lung capacity -- walking the dog actually means taking some rest stops along the way. Whee, it's been fun.

Anyway, here is the past weekend's WND column entitled "The Contempt for 'Breeders.'"

A reader sent the column to a friend of theirs, who commented: "Excellent article!! Reminds me of when I was pregnant with Andy (#3) and our neighbor in posh Palo Alto said, 'Is this a mistake or are you just trying for a girl?'"

The reader responded incredulously. "'Is this a mistake?' ... That's how the left sees children, isn't it?"

Here's the text of the column for those unable to access WND.

The Contempt for ‘Breeders’

We had some friends over for dinner a few weeks ago. They brought with them their three-point-five youngest kids. Three were already born; the youngest was still in the oven.

This deeply religious family is expecting their eighth child in August, and we hope they top out at a dozen. Why? Because I don’t think I’ve ever met a more “perfect” family.

I mean seriously, this couple puts most peoples’ parenting skills to shame. In their quiet, modest way, they have produced a brood of some of the most charming, polite, well-educated, and contented children we’ve ever met. Packed into a 1600-square-foot house, the kids share bedrooms, toys, adventures, love, friendship, work, prayer and meals. The boys swarm around their father and engage in engine repair, construction projects, and livestock care. The girls help with the youngest children and generally do traditionally feminine activities (they’ve won county fair awards for their exquisite sewing skills). Needless to say, the children are homeschooled.

We live in a part of the country where very large families are common, so no one blinks an eye at this family’s size. But in other parts of the country, they would be metaphorically (I certainly hope not literally!) spit upon for reproducing so frequently.

Why? Because so many progressives hate “breeders.”

The first time I heard the word “breeder” as applied to women was from a critic who had read my book “The Simplicity Primer” and felt compelled to take me to task over various issues, including the shocking and reprehensible fact that I have two children.

I later learned this term was often contemptuously thrown at traditional women by those of the feminist persuasion in an attempt to reduce mothers to the sum of their genetic output. Presumably the ones with the lowest genetic legacy “win.”

Or do they?

I am surrounded by “breeders.” Here in the rural heartland of America, families are sometimes breathtakingly large – we’re talking 12 kids and sometimes more. Often the older siblings are married and having kids of their own while the younger ones are still in diapers.

When we first moved here, this penchant for large families took a little getting used to. How do these families cope, I wondered? How do they manage a budget? How do they transport so many children at a time? How does the mother handle it?

Then I got to know some of these families. Large families aren’t for everyone; but for those who have them, they seem to have a special gift for calmness, patience and efficiency that would leave any CEO in awe.

It got me thinking about the sneering contempt of feminists toward children. Not all feminists, of course; many are happy mothers of their own genetic output. But no one who uses the revolting term “breeder” can possibly fathom the utter contentment and fulfillment of those women who choose to become mothers – particularly mothers of large families. Instead, these feminists are appalled at women who take on what they see as a subservient role in a marriage centered around reproduction and domestic tranquility.

Even many feminists dislike the term. “It’s possibly one of the less attractive aspects of radical feminism,” notes a radical lesbian feminist (who is also a mother). “To apply such a term to fellow sisters, a term that reduces them down to their reproductive capabilities is, without argument, pretty offensive and dehumanising. Not only that, but it flies in the face of what I perceive to be feminism. A love for your sisters shouldn’t manifest itself in offensive terms such as that. A commitment to make the world safer and more supportive for women does not include a sneering disparagement of their choices or circumstances.”

But you see, the radical feminists want to dehumanize children. It’s the only way to be gung-ho supporters of abortion. The lesbian quoted above may be committed to making “the world safer and more supportive for women,” but what does that mean?

A dear friend of mine (who has five children, all splendid) wrote of what she sees as the liberal agenda of death. “On the surface, the constant stream of propaganda fed to us by the media appears to promote unity and peace, safety and tolerance; however, beneath the veneer of this great deception lurks the true agenda – death, on a massive scale. … Liberals proclaim their love of life by encouraging mothers to rip their children from their wombs. That is the deception – they speak of life, yet promote the death of entire generations.”

The world is not “safer and more supportive for women” when entire generations die. Isn’t it better to have loving close-knit families who will contribute to society, than to kill off our native children and resort to importing violent, radical people (ironically, who breed like rabbits among multiple wives) whose children grow up to oppress women (at best) or become terrorists (at worst)?

When pressed to verbalize their objection to large families (or children in general), many progressives fall back on the “It’s bad for the environment” argument, though they’re curiously silent about the huge number of children the afore-mentioned immigrants have. More and more progressives are electing to remain childless or forego biological children:
Consider this tweet from Comedy Central comedienne Nikki Glaser (since deleted): “Don Jr. and his wife have five kids. No one should be having five kids. Why are people still allowed to have five kids?”

The most telling – and disturbing – word in this tweet is “allowed.” Who should make the decision about how many children people should be “allowed” to have? Glaser? Why do women in happy committed marriages earn hatred for their 11 children, but women who have 11 children by 10 different men are praised for their “bravery” and heaped with government largesse?

Personally I applaud progressives who decide to forego having babies; they may well be responsible for saving the nation. The real hope for the future of our country is not to be found in the increasingly obvious failures of liberal policies. No, it's in the children who grow up and deal with the mess made by their progressive forebears.

And these morally educated children produced and nurtured by upright, intact and traditional families could well turn the tide back to the values that made America the shining city on the hill.

So liberals, I stand with you on this: Don't have children. It may be the best way you can save the Earth – or at least America.

Friday, June 22, 2018

The latest con-artist scam

So my parents -- well into their 80s -- went to a small "spring fair" in their community this past week. My mother wrote me:
So we are walking around and this young man comes up to me and tells me he has a great cream that erases wrinkles. He tells me how good it is and I asked him the price. He said $1250. I said I can't afford that and he said he could drop it to $800. I said no way.

Then he said he could sell it to me if I used my Medicare card plus American Express (which we don't have). I walked away from him. I should have reported him.

Think of it, if I spend $1250, I can have a six month's supply of anti-wrinkle cream. Whee!!
Yeah, handing a Medicare card plus a credit card to a perfect stranger at a street fair -- what could possibly go wrong?

Lots of chutzpah from that fellow. That's all I can say.


Yesterday was a mishmash of clouds and sun, with thundercells darting around us. The weather called for localized small stream flooding in places thunderstorms hit. But at our place -- nothing.

Until evening.

Then a storm cell began building up, the proportions of which we seldom see around here. It grew bigger and more ominous, and Don and I made sure everything was battened down. It approached from the unusual direction of the northwest (our prevailing wind is from the southwest).

As we watched, the lip of the cell moved over a distant hillside and started dumping rain.

The edges of the cell were seriously dramatic. This is looking north:

And this is looking south:

And then the rain hit, pounding so hard it made bubbles in the puddles. Lightning danced all around us, thunder crashed. Surprisingly we didn't lose power, except for a couple of flickers here and there.

The cattle, which had been grazing in the pasture, came dashing up to take shelter under the barn awning.

The cell passed within 45 minutes. Around 11 pm, another cell passed overhead, with bright flashes of lightning and crashing thunder.

Today is calm and clear, but everywhere are little debris dams from where the rain swirled and washed over the ground during the evening before.

The good news is after a pounding like that, I'm off gardening-watering duty for at least two days.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Birds and bronchitis, bits and bobs

For the last week and a half, I've been coughing my guts out with a charming case of bronchitis. I've slowly on the mend -- at least I'm not having to get up in the middle of the night to go sleep in Younger Daughter's bed so I don't keep Don awake -- but it's been a slice.

Since my brain isn't functioning at full capacity, here are just a couple homestead snapshots.

One, the other morning robins started going nuts in the yard -- clucks of alarm -- and Mr. Darcy suddenly seemed interested in whatever the birds saw. I dashed out in the yard and saw a fledgling robin flopping around, with Darcy pouncing after it.

Poor Mr. Darcy didn't understand why I dragged him into the house. After all, he was just trying to play.

So I picked up the fledgling. Instantly his beak flopped open, revealing the bright yellow interior: "Feed me!" (Sadly I couldn't get a photo of this.)

I put him down on the ground well outside the yard, and he instantly flopped away, then paused and gave me a saucy look.

Meanwhile the parent birds fluttered around in agitation. The fledgling portion of their offspring's development must give birds gray hair. Gray feathers. Whatever.

I've also been keeping an eye on the blackbird nest I found the other day. On June 11, it had one egg.

On June 13, they were up to three -- one of which seemed much smaller than the others.

The parent birds, of course, flutter and fuss at me whenever I invade their privacy. Here's the mother:

Here's the father:

On June 17, there were five eggs -- one of which was definitely smaller than the others. I'm assuming it's a dud, though time will tell.

This is probably as many as the female will lay. Hatching takes 12 to 14 days, after which I'll get photos of the developing nestlings.

On another note, while weeding in the garden a few days ago, I came across the iridescent remains of a dragonfly -- namely, the wings.

These wings are really incredible marvels of construction and engineering when viewed close up.

It wasn't until I picked up one of the wing pieces that I realized the wings were slowly being harvested by some tiny, tiny ants, which couldn't have been over a millimeter in size.

When I checked back a couple hours later (hoping to photograph the wings in the sunlight), they were gone -- either they had blown away, or they were buried by the ants.

As a final piece of bits and bobs around the farmstead, behold the busy chipmunk, eating a not-quite-ripe strawberry.

And a cedar waxwing, also harvesting strawberries.

Harvesting strawberries is a very popular activity among the wildlife this time of year.

UPDATE: Readers have pointed out how the "dud" egg in the blackbird nest actually belongs to a cowbird, which nests parasitically (dumping its eggs in other birds' nests). They were absolutely correct -- it's a cowbird egg. However some articles suggested not removing a cowbird egg because cowbirds can actually act vengefully: If they find their egg missing, they'll ransack the nest and destroy the other eggs.

So, I compromised. I removed the cowbird egg...

...and popped it in the freezer overnight. Then I let it come back to room temperature and slipped it back into the blackbird nest. Hopefully this will work to everyone's benefit (except the baby cowbird's, of course).

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Smorgasbord !!

We've had it.

Ever since losing our Jersey cow Polly, as you know, we've been using Amy as a nurse cow to feed Polly's orphaned calf Anna. We kept Anna and Amy's calf Trooper in the corral, and twice a day we brought Amy inside to nurse them (the morning nursing was just a matter of releasing the calves from an inside pen).

Well let me tell you, Amy hated acting as a nurse cow. (Notice her eyes slit into malevolent loathing for the task at hand in the above photo.) She would barely tolerate Anna nursing when her own calf was nursing, and often not even then. She was sulky, she was grumpy, she was disgruntled. Singing to her helped a bit, but it sure didn't help when it came time to fetch Amy up from the woods or field and bring her into the corral. No amount of cajoling, no amount of singing, no amount of grain worked to entice her to return to a hated task. Fetching Amy became a two-person job: I would haul on her lead rope, and Don would follow up from behind to whack her on the backside if she balked.

Then Amy developed a simple and effective new strategy: whenever she saw me coming with the lead rope, she would just walk away. Sometimes she would trot away, or run away. In all instances, the operative word was away. Believe me, you cannot catch a cow that doesn't want to be caught.

So we tried confining her to the feedlot, but somehow she managed to escape (don't ask me how). Bottom line, it was sucking up more and more of our time, energy, creativity, and patience to keep using Amy as a nurse cow. There is also the very real chance of making Amy hate our guts, which would be a shame since she's Matilda's calf and has the potential to be a very good milker. The one thing we didn't want to do was utterly ruin Amy's formerly sweet disposition.

So a few days ago we decided Anna was old enough to spring from the corral. She's a canny little lass, and hopefully would be able to sneak drinks of milk from other less-hostile cows.

So one morning after having Amy nurse the calves, we opened the gate to let Amy out -- and just left it open. Trooper followed his mama without a moment's hesitation.

Anna didn't hesitate either, but she sure as heck wasn't gonna follow Amy -- not if she could help it! Instead she paused and started crunching on grasses. (To those concerned the calves' stomachs couldn't handle so much fresh grass after weeks in the corral, no worries; the corral had enough greenery in it they wouldn't have a dietary shock.)

Trooper followed Amy toward the rest of the herd...

...while Anna continued cropping the grass right by the gate.

When Anna finally raised her head, everyone had disappeared.

But soon enough her wanderings brought her into the midst of the other animals. I followed because I wanted to make sure no one picked on the orphan.

At first, Anna and Trooper stayed together.

But soon the other calves came over to greet them...

...and in no time, all the calves were dashing around having fun.

And that's when I left them.

We kept a distant eye on Anna as the day progressed. In the early afternoon, she was curled up next to Trooper amidst the rest of the herd, looking relaxed in the shade of the barn awning. So far so good.

Amy also looked more relaxed and was able to groom her calf Trooper without the little brat interfering.

By the end of that first day, what was significant is what we weren't hearing rather than what we were hearing. Namely, we weren't hearing Anna bellowing. By this we were assuming she was able to sneak enough milk off other (non-hostile) cows to satisfy her little tummy.

As the days went by, I noticed Anna seemed to have an affinity toward Victoria, a motherly older cow with a sweet disposition. Good.

And then we started seeing solid evidence: Anna, always angled in the back and always waiting until a cow's calf was already nursing, busy filling her belly. Told you she was a canny lass.

In fact, she's getting better fed now than she ever was with just Amy. She has a veritable smorgasbord of choices before her! Three fairly tolerant cows (Pixie, her older sister; Victoria; and Sparky) who (mostly) don't mind a little double-dipping.

So despite the crushing loss of Polly, it looks like Anna will grow up nice and healthy. As an added bonus from her weeks in the corral, she's quite friendly toward us, and someday may turn into just as good a milker as her mama.