The End of the Line

It’s the last day of July--sob!--and for us summer freaks, this is a sob-worthy fact.  On the way to church on Sunday, when I realized that it was the last Sunday in July, I soberly made a list of all the things that we hadn’t done enough of this summer, for my tastes, at least. I’ll admit, my mood was morose.  A bit “too-much-work-and-not-enough-play-makes-Amy-a-dull-gal-ish.”

And then, rather than feel sad about these un-accomplished and un-done things, I promptly determined to schedule them in to August–no matter what!  So I got out my little calendar and I pencilled them in.

It’s irritatingly easy for me to work my fool head off, day-in and day-out.  It just seems to be the way I’m wired.  But it takes having a granddaughter here with me for an evening, or my little boy tugging at my hand, a wistful look on his sweet face, for me to remind my dumb self that playtime is important, too.  Even to grown-ups.  Especially to grown-ups!

So without further ado, here’s my “Happiness List” for the first few weeks of August:

  1. Go fishing with Mack again
  2. Take the canoe down the Big Blue with Mack and Amalia (with fishing poles!)
  3. Get a pedicure with Bethie–it’s got to be next week!
  4. Read a good book, preferably in Amalia’s treehouse (ahhhh!)
  5. Go for a bike ride to the cemetery with the kids
  6. Ride bikes to town, go to the DQ, visit with Anya and her parents
  7. Horse around with little Mack in the pool
  8. Watch one of those summer movies that the girls and I have been talking about

We’ve spent a lot of time this summer working on the hoophouse and planting and nurturing our garden and orchard, not to mention the flower beds and whatnot, caring for the chickens and trying to keep up with the mowing, but all that work and busy-ness gets a bit stale after awhile, if we don’t take enough time for recreation to balance it all out.

Little Mack keeps us grounded, because if we just work and forget to play, he shows it in his behavior.  He’s our happiness barometer.  Our normally-happy and cheerful and creative little boy gets moody and grumpy and snappish, and that’s a sign to me that we need some play-time And fast!

So it’s the end of the line for July, but the beginning of August is tomorrow, and I’m planning on doing a bit less weeding and cooking and mowing and planting, and a little more swimming and fishing and biking and playing.  Sounds good, doesn’t it? We still have a few weeks left of summer, and I–for one–plan to make the best of it.

I hope you do, too, Gentle Reader.

Then we can start school at the end of the month with no regrets about the way we spent our time this summer.  Anybody with me on this?

IMG_3292 It was the end of the line for my meat chickens today, and a number of my old hens, as well, and perhaps that’s why I’m feeling a bit melancholy.  I assured these meat chickens that it would never work for me to keep them as pets, as I gently caught each one and put them in their transporting cages, also the old hens.  I tell you, Gentle Reader, every year I wonder if I’ll do this again next year.  I know that it’s not feasible for me to keep dozens (hundreds, thousands) of chickens for pets, but I don’t enjoy the butchering and culling process.  At all.

I don’t even butcher them myself.  I make a date with small processing place, and I drop them off at the back door, go have coffee at the local *cafe, and then come back a couple of hours later and pick them up at the side door.  They are butchered and cleaned and chilled and ready to put into my freezer. The largest of the meat chickens were over 8 lbs, a really nice size for a big roasting bird.

And hey, here’s an interesting fact:  you can buy a cup of decent coffee at the Brainard Cafe for 25c, with free refills! Cool, huh?

Little Mack is holding one of the Cornish Cross roosters, which weighed in--dressed--right at 8 lbs.  My son decided it was the End of the Line for his bangs, and he chopped them off.

Little Mack is holding one of the Cornish Cross roosters, which weighed in–dressed–at over 8 lbs. My son decided it was the End of the Line for his bangs, as you can see, and he chopped them off.

I do enjoy stocking my freezer with these great-quality chickens that have enjoyed lives of free-ranging at our place, taking dust baths, scooting around after bugs and scrabbling after scraps.  I know how they’ve lived their lives, and I approve.  But I still hate this day.

I do know that my life will be a bit simpler now.  I’ll have to haul a lot less feed and water (the meat chickens, in particular, gobble down a lot of food) and I can put away the temporary meat chicken shelter that we’ve been using, and I won’t have to keep baiting the live trap every night.  (It wasn’t a fruitless exercise.  See “A Slew of Varmints” to see what we caught.)

So there’s that.  And it’s a great feeling to have the freezer partially filled for the winter’s worth of eating.  I’ll get lots of delicious, steaming pots of chicken noodle soup and chicken and dumplings out of the tasty old hens, and the meat chickens will make excellent roast chicken with veggies from the garden:  parsnips, onions, potatoes, and carrots, yum!  But still.

Here are a few other things that happened at our house during the month of July:

Timothy gazes at his birthday trifle.

Timothy gazes at his birthday trifle.

Our Timothy turned 19.  I am so proud of the sweet young man that he has become, and I am excited about his talents and his abilities, and how he’s using them to build himself a business and to bless others.

End of the LineWe stole away for a day and went to a park that we’d never been to before, here in Nebraska.  The Indian Cave State Park is a lovely place, and just a couple hours from our house.  There are actual Petroglyphs that native Americans carved into a cave wall there, and lots of lovely woodsy trails and river-front views.  And a couple of cool old cemeteries, and a living history town. It was just wonderful.  And so close.  I’ll write more about this special day–you guessed it–in August.

Do you have a place that is within a couple of hours’ drive from your house, that you have always wanted to go visit?  Maybe August is the perfect time to do that.

The End of the Line I’ve been pestering and pestering my good husband to check on our bees . . . I mean, he hasn’t been working on anything else this summer like building a hoophouse or anything, after all.  What’s the deal, anyway? We have two hives, one which is the result of a spontaneous swarming this spring.  He finally agreed with me that it was time to check on them, to see if the bees were making lots of honey or not (they are!) and he invited me to watch.  It was a hot day, and he let me use the one bee suit that we have. Now that’s love, People.

The bees got a little upset, but I didn’t get stung.  Bryan did get stung, but just once, bless him. I’ll write more about that experience in August.  August is starting to sound like fun, after all, isn’t it?The End of the Line

One more thing–my darling daughter Bethie has been home all summer, working as an electrician’s apprentice at the community college near our place, missing her Hawaiian boyfriend, and generally just  sweetening up the place, as usual.

But she’s ready to pack up her new school clothes and her expensive college text books and to flip her ponytail independently and go back to college in a few weeks. (Ouch.)

But first–she’s going to go visit her boyfriend in Hawaii! We’ve been on a couple of shopping trips to find her a few new things.  Guess where?

My girls are so much more creative and content than I believe I was at their age.  Once a month, we make a run into Lincoln to have fun at the 99c Day at the Goodwill stores there.  You can’t believe what you can find for 99c at Goodwill:  formal dresses, leather coats, wool jackets, jeans, cute skirts, sweaters, just about everything.  And it’s fun, fun, fun!

But I’ll write more about that . . . you know . . . in August. . .

I could go on and on, but you, Gentle Reader, need to make your “Happiness List” for the month of August, and I need to go get busy, myself.

After all, August awaits.

End of the Line

And you know . . . somebody else is waiting for me, too.

P.S. . . . Did you wonder about my header photo?  Those are my daughters Bethie and Amalia and me with our tough gangster looks, before we headed out to dominate the Goodwill Store. What do you think? Are you afraid?? 😉

19 thoughts on “The End of the Line

  1. maureen

    Thank you for sharing your life and pictures; they are all beautiful! Thanks for being an example of mind-shifting; reminding us that even though July is over; Summer is not and setting the intention to have more fun!

    Have a great August and enjoy all those intentions; I know you will!

  2. Roy A. Ackerman, PhD, EA

    You know why coffee is only 25 cents? Because I have never been there!
    My coffee shop used to offer free refills (up to an hour after the first one)- and figured out that was a bad idea…
    Not that I mind- the refills are reasonably priced and I get to spend time with my friends, besides.

    I look forward to seeing that list X’d out.

    1. dramamamafive Post author

      I’ll keep you posted on the list, Roy! If you ever decide to check out the 25c coffee at the Brainard Cafe, let me know, and I’ll have a cup with you!

  3. Sharon Cattermole

    Loved your blog and getting to know about your chickens and the hoop house..yes August beckons with all the mysteries it holds in store. My happiness to do list will include a trip to a Physic garden in London and a production of Taming of the Shrew plus celebrating my friend’s 50th on Saturday. Good luck for the future. Sharon

    1. dramamamafive Post author

      Thanks, Francene! We plan to get a lot more summer in before it’s over. I’ve enjoyed spending July with you, too!

  4. Alana (@RamblinGarden)

    The August to-do list is a nice idea for a blog post. I hope you get everything crossed off. Remember, all your fans will be watching you. My “to do” list for later in August: We are returning to Arkansas for the first time in 27 years, to check out what has become of the places where we lived. Will our hearts be broken? Will we be pleasantly surprised? We’ll have to see.

    1. dramamamafive Post author

      Alana,
      I plan to do as much as possible from that list! No regrets! I’d love to hear about your trip to Arkansas after 27 years. I took a similar trip last summer, to my old home town of Nelson, NE. I took the kids along. It was wonderful, a little sad, but very sweet. I do hope your hearts aren’t broken!

  5. nicole

    your happy list sounds great !!! I don’t even know what to put on my list for August. This first year on the farm was a huge test for us. The winter was longer than usual, everyone around this area ran out of hay…which made it hard to feed our horses…the grass didn’t come up fast enough…we only had one months of hot … way too hot weather and now we have fall temperatures already. The garden didn’t grow at all … only the potatos seem to do fine 🙂 We had a nice flock of chickens…until … the fox came and killed 13 of them in one strike. what a horrible day that was. i don’t even know if i can, after that happened will be able to put any of my chickens in the freezer…but I am working on it…or me 😉 its all about experiences right ? and not giving up…I hate to have those winter thoughts already…but they are there…building a winter shelter for the chickens and a new shelter for the horses closer to the house. I guess that is number one and two on the list for August !!! Enjoy the rest of the summer :):) ~nik~

    1. dramamamafive Post author

      Nicole,
      Don’t despair, homesteader girl! Just as soon as you decide that country living isn’t worth it, you’ll get just the rain you need, or a huge unforeseen crop of peaches, or a bumper crop of hay. It always seems like it’s one step forward and two steps back out here, too, and just because I don’t write about it doesn’t mean that some years aren’t really a challenge. Last year, for us, was just awful. We had a Dreaded Varmint (you may have seen the series on my blog) that cleared us out, eating all our ducks, one of our geese, and at least a dozen hens before we caught him in November (at least one him—who knows how many there really were??). It was also an awfully hot and dry year, with a historic drought, and so many of our established trees died; our orchard and garden produced very little. But this year, I’m pinching myself because we’ve had rain, an unusually cool summer, and a bumper crop of nearly everything. So if you had an awful year this year, next year is bound to be better . . . right? Blessings–Amy

  6. Carolina HeartStrings

    Looks like it was a busy month. But, hey, aren’t they all? Hope you DO get to do some of the August to-do “do”s. As for the chicken slaughter – sad, yes but all part of it I guess. My dad told me how growing up when his mom served chicken the children were always told it was the neighbor’s chicken.

  7. Debbie

    August is half over and we have canned, froze and dehydrated many things. Everyone has there jobs and we are getting ready for county fair.
    I love reading your posts.

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