Saturday, April 30, 2011

In the Spirit of the NFL Draft...

     While the courts are trying to settle this whole NFL lockout thing, my dogs are definitely in the spirit of the NFL draft that's ongoing. The nice thing about my dogs is they don't negotiate huge contracts. A little high protein dog food every day and occasionally a nice steak bone keeps them very contented. They love playing the game. Heck, they'd play even if they weren't fed, but they do enjoy the perks.
     I'm really wondering what kind of pay the top draft pick will command when it comes to signing on the dotted line. I've never really understood why college football players, who are unproven in the professional world, think they are worth millions. Baseball players work their way up through the farm ranks, but football players immediately think they need huge paychecks without ever stepping foot on the field. Sure, they've earned all these honors in college but, let's face it, that's a whole different ball game. It's like stepping up from junior high to high school. I think all collegiate players entering the pro football ranks should be given a base pay for the first year. Everyone on an even keel. Then after they've proven themselves, they can negotiate. That way a youngster coming out of college doesn't make more money than, say, Peyton Manning.
     That's where my dogs come into play. They'd be happy to play for bare bones, shall we say--pun intended. They don't really care what shape the ball is, as long as it travels and they can carry it in their mouth. They're really not true football fans, however. Patches, the Blue Heeler, carries the nickname Tulo. So you can figure that baseball is her sport. She can stop a hot grounder just like the Rockies all-star shortstop. We fondly refer to Tippy as Air Jordan. She loves basketball. Ask any kid who has tried to dribble past her--it just doesn't happen. She plays defense unlike anybody--dog or human. She uses her nose and bats the ball away just when you think you've gotten past her.

     But, like I say, they just love playing ball. The reason they are currently playing with a blue football is because they have lost their favorite rubber balls. I think that with the recent windstorms, those balls may now be in Kansas somewhere. So they dug up this beat up football. It's a little tough for me to get some distance on it when I kick it, but they don't care. It's the opportunity to chase a ball--for minimal pay and maximum fun. Isn't that what it's all about. And it didn't take a court order to decide that.

Friday, April 29, 2011

The Wheels on the Cart Go...???

     So I must ask why, out of the multitude of shopping carts in a store, particularly a grocery store, I always seem to choose the one that has problems. It either has a squeaky wheel, or it pushes hard, or one wheel is out of round, or it pushes like a car needing an alignment job, or...
     I'm thinking there should be some type of job security out there for someone who can be a fulltime cart repair person. Perhaps that can be my new profession, or at least my second one. I try to be as inconspicuous as possible at a grocery store. There really should be no pomp and circumstance surrounding the spending of hundreds of dollars on a few items that fill only three sacks (or, if you're into green, fill only two bags that are brought from home).
     There I am, headed down the breakfast meat aisle, when all I hear is "sqwaak, thud, sqwaak, thud, sqwaak, thud." It doesn't help that I cannot seem to find the lean hog meat that we consumers are supposedly demanding these days. The judge just put an ultra-trim hog on top of the class at the county fair, but that gilt apparently did not make it to the grocery store. I think some cull sow wound up on the cooler shelves. So now everyone is looking at me, wondering what--or who--is making that awful noise. No, the "sqwaak, thud" noise, not the noise somewhat loudly complaining about the lack of lean hogs.
     I throw in some of the leanest fat bacon I can find, then head on toward the dairy products. "Sqwaak, thud, sqwaak, thud." What!!! That's highway robbery--three bucks for a dozen eggs. Oh, I see. They're from cage-free, organic, free-range hens. Well that explains it. Maybe those egg producers could donate a little of their profits to getting these free-roaming grocery carts fixed. I don't get three bucks for a dozen eggs and my hens most definitely are free-range and cage-free. Heck, I have no idea where they range all day long--unless I spy one out in the pasture chewing her cud with the cows.
     This cart is really beginning to annoy me. I am no longer inconspicuous (like I ever was!). I wander on over to the bread aisle, herding ole thump-a-long as I go. It's got a nice beat, but you can't dance to it. Holy smokes--$3.65 for a loaf of bread and the wheat producer gets how much from that loaf? Of course, with nearly four dollar fuel, it's obvious the grocery store can't afford to buy oil for the cart wheels.
     Well, it's a good thing this grocery shopping has nearly come to an end. I'm nearly worn out from the push me-pull me that's holding my little pot of gold ('er food). Yep, think I'm gonna pursue that idea of becoming a shopping cart repair person.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Sometimes, Simple is Better

     I just heard this morning on the radio that the royal wedding is going to cost $34 million. Can you even fathom that? $34 million! I don't think I even spent $1,000 on my wedding. I thought mine was a royal wedding, but guess it didn't compare to this one coming up at the end of the week.
     Let's try to grasp that number--34 million. What could be done with that much money? Well, if it was divided equally among three places in the world, it could provide some rebuilding relief. How about Christchurch, New Zealand (have we forgotten that city was devastated by an earthquake?); or Haiti (how quickly we've forgotten about them); and then there's Japan (topping the headlines these days). That would be slightly over $11 million each and I'm sure each of those places would be so thankful to receive that much money to help out.
     We could bring it back to the United States. No, I'm not talking about plugging it into our budget, although that might be helpful too. Devastating tornadoes ripped our nation's midsection last week. A middle school was destroyed in Iowa. Can you imagine if your community's school was leveled in a disaster? That's the heart and soul of a community, particularly a small, rural one. Those kids have nowhere to turn right now. The families have been displaced from a school and many from their homes. Southeast Oklahoma lost many lives and homes in a rash of tornadoes. St. Louis was rocked just a couple of nights ago. It breaks my heart to see so much devastation. Arkansas is being flooded right now. Colorado, Oklahoma, Kansas, New Mexico, and Texas ranchers and farmers are going to need some type of financial aid pretty quickly if we don't receive some type of measurable moisture.
     And yet the British government is spending $34 million on a wedding. I really, truly wonder what Prince William and Kate really think about the whole deal? It kind of reminds me of a beautiful Easter church service. You can have elaborate choirs, instrumentalists, and bands playing to bring home the Easter message. Or, you can opt to reveal the word in simplicity, with your pastor singing a solo that definitely tugs at the heartstrings; or a good friend who has taught herself sign language and chooses to sign a beautiful Easter hymn.
     Most times, simple is better.

Friday, April 22, 2011

My Back Yard

     Welcome to my back yard. I'd invite you in to sit a spell and enjoy a glass of sweet tea, but the sharpshooters on my roof tend to frown on uninvited guests. They also tend to point first and ask questions later. So you'll have to view my back yard from a distance.
     It wasn't always like this. About 35 years ago you could actually come through my back yard and into my home. I would even take you on a tour of my lovely house. I would explain many of its historic values and sometimes I would even invite you into my den--more commonly known as the Oval Office. If you were real fortunate, I'd even take you to the kitchen where, occasionally, I'd fix myself a late night snack without anyone else having to do that for me.
      I enjoyed showing off my home and my back yard because I really felt like it belonged to everyone--not just me. We'd light a huge Christmas tree together on the grounds. We'd hunt Easter eggs together after attending a Christian church service that morning. Oh, how I long for those days when we could all enjoy my home and my back yard.
      But those days are gone, thanks in part to 9/11 and some in part to my own choosing. Now I like to think of this place as "mine." I don't have to share it with anyone else. Wrought iron fences surround my back yard and you can peek through the fences, but you can't advance any further. You don't have that right. You're a commoner. But perhaps someday, when we once again begin using the constitution that was framed by some extremely wise men well over 200 years ago, we'll all be able to tear down those fences and enjoy my back yard!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Where, oh, Where???

     I was eating lunch today at a fast-food place. I'm not naming names, but it was the place that's been accused of omitting a good portion of its beef out of the orders. Point of the story is--it wasn't a five-star restaurant. Which brings me to the next point of my story--why is it so difficult to decide where to sit in a fast-food restaurant?
     We're not exactly looking for a seat with a view here. I've got two choices--either I can watch the traffic fly by on Academy Boulevard, or I can stare at the nearby 7-11 store. So where I choose to sit is basically a no-brainer. But it almost became a comedy of errors watching some people after they picked up their order.
     Okay, guys, I'll give you some credit here. It's usually the male who FIRST chooses the seat. He meanders on over to a booth, fixin' to sit down and tear into his triple-decker, soft/crunchy tacorino, when he suddenly is halted in his tracks. "That table's got some hot sauce on it. Let's find a cleaner table," she screeches. "This table is cleaner 'n that one," he counters. She shoots him THE LOOK. He obediently turns, drool dripping down his chin from the anticipation of biting into that tasty tacorino, and trudges to a table clear across the restaurant. It's the one with the view of Academy Boulevard.
     He places the tray on the table and begins to slide into the bench seat, but he's abruptly halted in that half-crouch position. "Eewww! I feel something sticky on this table. Let's move to that one over there," she orders, pointing back across the restaurant to the table next to the original choice. He glances at the tray filled with mouth-watering, heart-clogging temptations. Then he glances at the table across the way. Back and forth he shifts his glance, all the while maintaining the half-crouched position.
     "Come on," she growls. He pries himself away from the booth and trudges obediently to the other table. He carefully slides the now-lukewarm meal onto the table, hoping to salvage some semblance of a hot meal for lunch. He shoots a passing glance around the room, probably figuring this will not be his final destination. He's right. He doesn't even get into the crouch. "This table is too close to the door. Let's move to that one," she directs, pointing at...the original choice which, by now, has been wiped clean and invites hungry lunch-goers to utilize its dining prowess.
     She checks her watch. "Hurry up and eat!" she orders. "We're gonna be late for our appointment. I told you we didn't have time to eat lunch."
     By now, I'm on my third tacorino, trying to figure out what they did with the excess beef!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Cats, Chicks, Canines...and Crayons

     I came across a saying the other day that totally impressed me. I shared it on Facebook, but, in case you missed it, here it is: "We could learn a lot from crayons; some are sharp, some are pretty, some are dull, while others bright; some have weird names, but they all have learned to live together in the same box."--Robert Fulghum
     That's kind of the way it is around our farm. Our animals are much like crayons in a box--they have all learned to live together. It is not unusual when I am feeding the horses or feeder calves in the morning to spot a hen casually clucking and scratching under the feet of said large animals. But no fuss or fight is made. They all coexist. I think there's something to be learned here.
     Our chickens, I believe, think they are part human and part dog and cat. They love eating the dogs' and cats' food. The photo below confirms that. They have no fear of those animals and, in fact, have been caught pecking a cat on the head for shear enjoyment, I guess.
     In the late afternoon when I go to gather eggs, it's a literal zoo at my feet. Cats, chickens, and canines surround me while excited clucks, meows, and an occasional 'woof' fill the air. It's comical to watch. When I'm filling a vehicle with fuel, I don't dare leave the door open or one of the feathered friends will hop in and check out the digs.
     The two remaining ducks that reside on our farm feel as though they are the queens of the place. If they hear any human voices, they immediately begin squawking and quacking, voicing their opinion on the matter. They love to pester the dogs by trying to sneak food out of the pan right in front of them. You can see in the photo where Patches is protecting her 'plate.'

     I like how these animals are unassuming and have no fear. They're a friendly bunch and there is no proverbial pecking order, if you will pardon the pun. They all coexist--much like crayons in a box.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Only in Colorado?

     I am a Colorado native. More specifically, I am currently living where I was raised (English teachers say you 'raise' cows and chickens and 'rear' children--I was raised). So over the years, I have come to understand that Colorado natives should not be surprised by our ever-changing weather, particularly in the springtime.
     Right now, as I look out my window, it's snowing and the wind is gusting over 50 miles an hour. This morning it was 70 degrees at 9 a.m. We attended church and a social function this afternoon, and upon returning home at 4 p.m., it was 44 degrees. That's, what, a 26-degree drop in seven hours? I almost didn't take a coat with me this morning when we left the house, but then I remembered I do live in Colorado. It once snowed on July 4th while we were at a rodeo. This was in southeastern Colorado, not in the mountains where it really never is summer.
     During calving season, I have had to move baby calves out of a raging snowstorm and put them behind windbreaks for protection. But I don't ever remember having to pick up a newborn and move it out of a sand-blasting dirt storm--happened one day last week. That would be the same day that three wildland fires were burning out of control to the south, east, and north of us. That, too, is very unnerving. It seems as though the whole state is on fire. Right now there are two wildland fires burning out of control south of here. One is only 30 miles away, the other near the Kansas border, but they have had to evacuate that nearby town.
     Tomorrow the high temperature is supposed to be in the mid-40's. By Wednesday, the high will push 70. We'll have our windows open again and be basking in the sun, all the while fighting "breezy" conditions. Out here, if it's going to be hurricane-force windy, the weatherman doesn't even bother mentioning it any more in the forecast. But if it's only going to be "breezy", he'll say it will be windy. We natives know of what he speaks.
     Last week we were reveling in eight inches of wet snow that had melted before mid-morning. It left behind approximately four-tenths of an inch of moisture. That's great for the green grass that is yearning to pop out of its winter doldrums. Eighty mile per hour winds do not aid the growth of green grass.

     So, having said that, if I can figure out all this technology, I'll post some photos with this showing the severe weather differences in a week--heck, even in one day. The natives know of what I speak!