Strange doin’s

Laugh Tracks in the Dust

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Some weeks at Damphewmore Acres just end up having more doin’s than other weeks. But this week took the prize in “strange doin’s.”
A superstitious person might blame the strange doin’s on the autumnal equinox happening this week. In fact, it’s today, when I’m writing this column. Day and night — equal.
The “happenings” for the strange doin’s are these: Yesterday we had weird weather. Temperatures started off in the 90s, with gale winds from the southwest. They ended up in the 60s, with a heck of a northeast wind accompanying the shift in wind direction. Plus, we had 6-tenths of rainfall last night that I didn’t hear falling.
But, when I took my first look out the kitchen window at 7 a.m. today, my gaze turned into shock seeing our aluminum flag pole snapped in two and Old Glory lying wet, degraded and insulted in the lawn grass. I remedied that when I went out to do my chicken flock chores. I even picked up a few odd tree branches that the wind had blown out and tossed them on the burn pile.
It’ll take some time and effort, but the 2-piece flag pole can be shortened, repaired and put back in place. I’ll try to do that tomorrow.
***
The second “strange doin’” this morning happened when I went out on our west deck. The temperature was 58 degrees, and drizzling rain. First thing I noticed was a ruby-throated humming bird perched on the top strand of a decorative wire fence right below the hummingbird feeder.
I didn’t think anything about it at the time because hummers sit on the fence all the time. But a few minutes later I noticed the bird hadn’t moved. So, I investigated. As I walked closer and closer, the hummer still didn’t move. I got within a foot of it and could see it wasn’t dead, but just seemed too cold to move. Then I touched it with my index finger and the hummer let out a tiny, high-pitched squeak but still didn’t fly away.
So, I gently lifted the tiny bird from the perch and cupped it in my hands and took it inside the kitchen to warm up. After about 10 minutes, I could feel the hummer starting to move and hear its squeaks. I didn’t want it loose in the house and fly into a window and hurt itself, so I went back onto the cold deck and gently opened my cupped fingers and, thankfully, the bird flew away.
I’ve seen some hummers feeding at the feeder today. So I don’t know what happened to make the hummer act so strangely. I can only hope it survives this cold day because tomorrow is supposed to be much warmer. The little guy better head south for the winter.
Hummingbirds look so helpless and fragile. But that’s not the case usually. They fight among themselves relentlessly. And, I’ve read that they can fly 500 miles per day when migrating.
***
Another strange doin’s occurred earlier in the week and involved the wind, too. Two days ago a strong mid-afternoon thunderstorm blew through. It had a little hail, blew out arm-sized limbs from trees, delivered three-quarters of an inch of welcome rain, but also simply flattened one row of tall tomato vines in the garden. Some of the plants were more than 7-feet tall and, laying flat on the ground, they were nigh on impossible to pick — and there were a lot of tomatoes to pick.
So, my young neighbor, ol’ Hunter D. Lucks, came to my rescue. I got the tractor and some light log chains. Hunter drove three steel posts next the row. The tomato cages are connected together with a piece of galvanized pipe. So, we hooked the chains to the pipe in three places and hooked them to the tractor loader. Then, I gently lifted the cages while slowing backing the tractor. It worked, we got the plants vertical again and wired them securely to the steel posts.
Then we picked two buckets of tomatoes, which Hunter took home with him. It wuz a case of Aggie ingenuity put into action. That night we got another welcome 3/4-inch of rain.
***
I call this the “Yellow Time” of fall in the Flint Hills. It’s when a plethora of yellow wildflowers burst into bloom. There are a bunch of showy varieties of sunflowers in bloom everywhere, plus, broom weed and golden rod. They are all nuisance weeds, but it doesn’t keep them from looking pretty to me. Since I’m red/green colorblind, yellow is one of my favorite colors.
There are also some fall purple flowers in bloom. My favorite is the Prairie Blazing Star, which is a single shoot of purple flowers about a foot long. The plant, before it blooms, looks like a sickly, single-stemmed pine tree seedling. It’s scientific name is Prairie Gayfeather. After blooming, the flowers turn into wind-borne seeds about like dandelion or milkweed seeds.
***
Words of wisdom for the week: “A unicorn is not rare. What’s rare is a kid who does his or her chores the first time you ask.”
“When I was a kid, there wasn’t any ‘behavioral disorders’ with special medications. Disruptive kids were simply ‘little brats’ and got their butts spanked.”
Have a good ‘un.

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