PICTURES OF PLAIN KANSAS:
In last week’s column, Rosanna talked about their dog Missy not being a very effective “mouser.” Here is a picture of the lovable pooch not knowing what to do with the mouse.
Below: Rosanna’s sister, Joanna,13, works in the garden. Note the Crocs, a popular footwear among the Plain people. And a lazy creek becomes a raging torrent on the Kansas Plains during a heavy spring rain.
BY ROSANNA BAUMAN
Growing up, I never understood why housewives did their “spring cleaning”. It seemed far more practical to do that cleaning in the winter, when you didn’t have stuff to do outside. I understand now. There’s just something about a warm spring breeze that gives you the urge to clean up. I have no idea why. Perhaps the sight of all the fresh green growth and new life makes you want to make things fresh and clean in your world as well. The one thing that’s easy to forget is that the exteriors of our residences need spring cleaning as much as the inside. We tend to think that, since everything outside is exposed to rain and wind, it’s basically self-cleaning. This is mostly true, but outdoors is definitely not self- organizing. I think its one of Newton’s laws of order that says everything tends towards more and more disorder. This is very true around our placel Thus, Saturday was designated Farm Cleanup Day, or more accurately, Farm Organization Day.
With the spring sun shining warmly on our backs and a soft breeze cooling our faces, Marvin, Kevin, Ivin, and I had plenty of energy and optimism to tackle the eight hours of cleanup. We have a lot of aging trees that keep losing their limbs every time the wind blows. (Which is an everyday occurrence in Kansas! No joke!) There were several large limbs down from last year, and a lot of smaller branches in our pasture that the livestock were having trouble grazing around. We made piles for the recyclable metal, the burnable, and the plastics. I was helping lvin load old, rotting railroad ties onto a trailer when I backed into a tank, Ivin did not notice that I had stopped moving so the tie rammed me firmly In my midsection.( I think it bruised my backbone…) I had hardly caught my breath from that mishap when I stepped on a nail. I know walking in junk piles in your Crocs isn’t a safe idea, but I really don’t like boots or shoes. It didn’t appear to be a very deep puncture, but I went immediately up to the house to clean and soak my foot. I’d had a tetanus shot five years previous, so I figured I should be covered well enough on that end to suit me. After soak and bandaging, I put a sock on, put my foot back into the Crocs, and continued with the cleanup.
We had three of our young cousins with us for the day, aging three, two and one. Joanna was kept busy ferrying them around to the various baby animals. The three year old, Adrianne was delighted with all of the animals, nearly squeezing the air out of Missy as she toted her around, and was very willing to go wading in every mud puddle. Laban, who is two, doesn’t have any pets at his house, so he enjoyed the chicks, lambs and puppies, but did not want the dogs or cows to come close. For toddlers, farms are full of wonders. He was thrilled to be able to see the tractors and semis roar past, and he was quite pleased to be able to sit by himself upon the four-wheeler and Bobcat. At lunchtime, Laban stared in awe at the three really big boys who sat across the table from him. (He’s an only boy in his family, so big boys are very fascinating.) Laban was with Ivin and I when we were picking up tree branches in the co’ .‘ pasture. Laban was too busy keeping an eye on the cows to help pick up sticks, but he did notice something else. “Mud!” Laban exclaimed, pleased to have found something he could stomp in. “No!’ Ivin hollered and managed to grab him just before he put his foot in a fresh cow pie! We sent him with Joanna on a safer mission- picking dandelions. Joanna picked a good quart of dandelion blossoms because we have a special spring dish that is a traditional rite of spring at our place: fried dandelions! We rinse the large blossoms, dip them In beaten egg and cracker crumbs, and fry in bacon grease. It may sound odd, but everyone likes them. I call them the Poor Man’s Mushrooms, because they have a similar taste to fried mushrooms, but without the slime.
I was tending the brush pile fires, which I discovered could be a very costly task, As the piles burnt down, the wood at the fringes of the fire would not catch fire, so I would edge as close as possible to the fire, and with a long stick would flip those branches back into the fire. I was happily flipping branches, when I suddenly lost my vision! The log I’d just flipped had a long thin twig sticking out that I hadn’t seen. The twig had neatly grabbed my glasses as it sailed by. I could barely discern the log I’d flipped, lying in the center of the fire. Great, How can I find my glasses when I can’t even see without my glasses! I tried to peer into the fire, but I knew it was useless- I can’t see the big E on the eye chart, not to mention the little letters, without my glasses! As fast as possible with my limited visibility, I ran up to the house. Fortunately, I had walked that path many other times that day, so I knew just where the hot-wire fences were that I needed to duck under. As soon as I burst into the kitchen, Mom knew something was wrong. Not because of my speed, but because I didn’t have my glasses on. Joanna quickly responded to my worried request and I showed her where the glasses-snatching log lay. While Joanna poked around in the fire, I crawled around the outside of the fire with my nose to the ground fighting off visions of charred glasses with melted lenses. I just knew I was going to have to be buying another pair of glasses… But hey! There my nose bumped into them, right at the edge of the fire, undamaged It’s a good thing, too. I don’t know how Icould have typed this column without my glasses.
At the end of the day, we had burned six brush piles and loaded three trucks of scrap metal and one load of landfill junk. We felt very accomplished, being able to see such drastic fruits to our labors, so we celebrated by roasting sausages over the embers of our brush fire. If only we had some marshmallows…