Okay, we give up. Our campaign against ground squirrels has ended in rout for the little buggers — sheer numbers have overwhelmed our firecrackers, boy pee, poison, hired guns, shouting. We’ve withdrawn to the patio and flower beds around the house on which we’ve sprinkled cayenne in the last ditch hope to protect our petunias and geraniums. Plenty of lettuce and green beans at the grocery, right?

What about the thistle mentioned in the last blog? After several days slogging around the pastures with a backpack sprayer addressing the thistle and tansy, Larry called our guy at Fish and Wildlife. “Too late to spray,” he says. “Only thing you can do now is mow.”

Wishing he’d called Jarod a week ago, Larry headed for the barn, hitched the brush hog to the John Deere, and is just now employing the nuclear option. Off with their heads! It’s supposed to hit 95 this afternoon, so best get the farm work done early.

As you can imagine, I’m not much help when farm work gets beyond weed whacking, so have been staying inside these hot days making pickles with Vik, more pickles — bread and butter — with Larry manning the slicer. An earlier round of sauerkraut is now fermenting away in the garage refrigerator, but that’s about it until and if the apples ripen. We still have “produce” from last year in the freezer, and I made something resembling pear crisp yesterday. Nothing crisp about it. Ugh. But Larry will eat it. Good man.

So what have I been doing? Reading all day and painting my nails? Kind of. But those of you who are old like me may remember suffering through home ec back in high school days. Had to make a blouse or skirt or something, maybe an apron for the beginners? My sisters and I lived in outgrown clothes packed up from family in Ohio, and on my mom’s sewing skills. Which weren’t wonderful. As in, she’d buy a bolt of cloth in a burst of economy or efficiency and make up matching outfits for the four of us. Oh God. Martha finally got a job at a clothing store in the summer and we could use our babysitting/crop-picking/cannery-work money on real clothes.

Does that all sound appropriately pitiful? Yeah! It was. Well, somehow I never got over it, and have turned again to my sewing machine. So the point of this long narrative is that I needed a yard of plain white shirting, and went to the only fabric store in town, JoAnn’s. They didn’t have white. I mean? We’re very busy, the clerk told me. Everyone’s stocking up.

Can this be true? No one I know but me sews anything in the clothing line. Sure, quilting is definitely a thing, but we can hardly be running low on white cotton. Sigh. Interesting times.

Okay, I’m taking a moment to go out and shoot photos. We want to see Larry on the tractor, after all. Back soon.

Looks hot and tired, huh? While I was out with my phone I decided to take a few more shots:

Larry’s garden. I’m not that fond of orange flowers, but when I asked him what was up, he said because he can see orange flowers. Oh. Color blind, he can’t see all the lovely rose, pink, lavender blossoms. Awww. Well bless his heart. It’s his garden, after all.

We’re going for Biggest Onion at the county fair. These are Walla Wallas, one of which will last us a week, and we have maybe 25? Plus another 50 assorted red, yellow. Seems the squirrels don’t like onions.

And the grapes. Not ripe yet, but the question is whether the birds will get them all when they are.

A little farm trivia: chickens have a particular song when they lay an egg, which I can’t reproduce but you’d know if you hear it. So while I was taking photos, Rhody climbed up on the water dispenser and started singing. Oh good, I thought, I’ll just bring the egg in on my way. Except it was Toastie’s egg. What the heck? She was crowing because her buddy laid an egg? Maybe she doesn’t know we can tell the difference. Hmmm.

Larry just came in, says he’s through for the day. For sure. Well, call me if you want a supply of onions!


This morning I had such an amazing compliment that, modesty aside, I want to share with you. Larry and I had stopped to get gasoline from the Safeway station on Philomath, and the attendant was a rather older woman, which, you know, makes you feel a little sorry that she has to have this job. But she was good, knew what she was doing, and on completion, stopped at the window to tell us to have a nice day. I’m in the passenger seat, so she took a moment to smile at me, too. “You look just like my grandmother!” she said.

OMG. Seriously? How could anybody that old even have a grandmother at this point? I must look 200 years old. Larry didn’t stop laughing all the way home.

But otherwise, it’s been a nice Independence Day weekend. On Sunday we had a nice, responsible, of course, visit with former neighbors and dear friends, Renee and Dick Edwards. Burgers and macaroni salad and ice cream-with-cookies on their deck — and anyone who knows Dick will be able to imagine how abundant and lush their property is.

Backing up, on Saturday we spend the actual 4th dispatching the flowering heads of a monster patch of thistle in the creek-bed planting north of the driveway. Larry turned off the juice to the electric wire, so we could crawl under the rail fence with boots, clippers, a plastic barrel. There are two types of thistle, Bull, and Canada here. Both non-native to our valley. Note: I have just learned that Canada Thistle is the “March Invasive Weed-of-the-Month.” Well, hat’s off! Larry had previously sprayed, and they were beginning to wilt. But we thought we should behead them before the flowers turned to puff balls and flew away to infest even more territory.

Strangely, the cows came to keep us company, I guess, and they all amiably gathered along the barbed wire and continued to graze. They make a lovely sound while tearing the grass with their tongues. Pastoral.

Backing up again, on Thursday of that week, we’d been invited to follow our neighbors, Marjorie and Ted, out to a surprising little lake near the town of Shedd. No, we’d never heard of Shedd, either. Apparently some time ago a consortium of water-ski enthusiasts had managed to create a bespoke lake along a small river in the middle of the grain fields. Ted is a competition-level skier, and spends many sunny afternoons on the lake with his boat.

This Lake Sabrina is a half-mile long, and a path around the water makes a nice walk and viewing site.

Ted really is amazing. It was quite beautiful to see the balletic way he leaned around the buoys, switching hands to pull the rope as he wove back and forth. His patient wife just takes a book and a folding chair, finds some shade and spends the afternoon reading. Nice.

But Larry and I had to get back home, and driving through Shedd we noticed a sign: “Shedd Cemetery Road. Dead End.” Hahahahahah.

Yes, I’m finally getting back to Amy’s graduation weekend. We looked forward to having the family together, though of course we were unable to add David and Caroline to the guest list. And then, as you know, our Alli tested positive and the Ederers were therefore unable to come. But it was such a pleasure for us to visit with the Lewis family, long-time friends of Peter and Allison, and Amy’s childhood best friend ever, Madelyn. They brought Abby along as well, so the three girls were together for perhaps the last time for long years into their future.

Peter took the boys for a ride around the Wood in the ATV, and to our dismay, Charlie was slammed with an allergic reaction to some of the weeds through which they traveled, and spent the afternoon lying abed with a cool, damp cloth on his fiercely swollen eyes. Sorry about that, Charlie.

And, to complete my narrative, Peter and Andrew had driven to Corvallis earlier to hang out with us. On discovering a tiny frog under the front wheel of my car in the garage, the mission to rescue it began. First, of course, I carefully backed the car away and Andrew took charge of catching it. Nope. It could leap a yard at a time and completely evaded capture. So, we would guide it outside with the broom where it would be on its own?

That kind-of worked and he was on the way to freedom when he made what we think may be a fatal mistake. Hopped under the stone siding. Maybe he would come out if we made a little puddle for him? I can’t tell you if we succeeded because we never saw him again.

So what do you get if you have three grown-up boys, some ancient fire- crackers, and a plague of ground squirrels? Caddy Shack II.

There were lots of suggestions for the solution to the squirrel problem. Larry had been offered the first at Wilco when considering the purchase of a live trap. What do you do if you do catch a squirrel? Drive him out to the woods somewhere and let him out? What if you catch a skunk, instead? “I’ll tell you what I do, the friendly clerk said. “I got three boys and I just have them pee in the holes the squirrels dig. Most fun they have all day while the ammunition lasts.”

I can’t report if this method was tried by the above trio, any or all, because I didn’t witness same, but they were sure laughing.

Okay, what about those firecrackers? Lay one on the hole, light it and back away. Yeah! But what if a guy were to wrap two together? Even better. Wait. I bet we could bundle four or five and light them. Yes, they could.

Luckily the fire power was insufficient to do any real damage to the lawn, or, unfortunately, to the squirrels, but it was loud. Happy Fourth if July!

Tomorrow Larry travels to Eugene to see about a greenhouse for the garden. That could be the only solution that may keep those damn squirrels in their place and out of Larry’s space. Next fall? My family has developed a mantra, oft repeated: “Who knows? We’ll see.” Meaningless and endlessly applicable. Yes, you may borrow it, and God bless.