Grit Blogs >

Rosedale Garden

Wintertime Dairy Chores

Rosedale Garden 


Most of the time I miss our dairy farm. However, cold spells like we’ve had lately, I tell myself that I don’t miss it on cold January days.  We had snow this week and very cold weather. 


We would come home from school, go out feed the chickens, change the water and collect the eggs.  Then we would take a hammer with us to the cattle and pig water troughs to break the ice and refill.  Sometimes the hydrant was frozen, so we would have to run a hose from the barn to refill.  Back to the house to warm our hands. By then it was milking time. 


The cows stayed in a wooded area around the hay barn and silo when not in the pasture.  A dry creek ran through the lower portion of it. The silo had a long trough that the silage would fed via a long auger.  On one side a row of free stalls each was narrow enough for the cow to walk in lay, stand up and back out.  Any manure would land in the isle for easy clean up.  Milking time we would go to round them up, only sometimes the boss cow would decide they weren’t ready.  If a boss cow decided she didn’t want to do something or was going to do something, then the rest of the herd was with her. The boss cow would pick a time when you are the most miserable to decide she didn’t want to do what you wanted.  Bone chilling cold or rainy days seemed to be her favorite. She and the rest of the herd would play ring around the rosie with you around the silo, the free stalls and feed through. You’d just hope that they would stay on the concrete path and not take off down to the other end of the woods.

2018_01_16_1497_Helen Keller home

After extended rainy days with a 150 head stomping around, the Alabama clay and dehydrated manure would turn into gooey quicksand, especially in the area that ran off of the hay barn roof.  In order to walk in it, you had to hold on to the top of the boot and pull it out along with your foot. The clay would glue to the boot, and if you didn’t pull it, would stay in the clay.  This particular time, we had several days of heavy cold rain followed by a drop-in temperature to below freezing.  The surface of the clay and manure was frozen, but would collapse if you tried to walk on it.  This was one of the days the boss cow decided not to come up for milking. My sister chased them around the silo for a while and came up for help. Two sisters went down to the silo, one blocking access around to the free stalls. I was out in the muddy area to prevent them from going down the hill to the back of the woods. We had just about got them to the barn, when one of them turned to run down the hill. I ran as best I could to head her off and turn her back to the barn. I found out that the clay will glue itself to your feet as I almost fell into the muck.  My sister finished getting the cows penned and I hunted my socks and boots. When I walked into the milking barn holding my socks and boots, Dad wanted to know what happened to you.


Cottrell Electric kept our milking equipment going.  Dad may have recycled it from a previous milk barn or bought it used from somewhere, as it looked close to a hundred years old. Dad always kept things way past their normal life span. Our old milking barn was a stanchion type. We would bring 16 cows on each side, lock their heads in so they could be fed and milked. Dad and our uncle would have to do a lot of squatting while milking. The floors were slightly inclined downhill toward the back of the barn.  Manure would be shoveled out to a small pit outside the barn via two trap doors for each stanchion side. When the pit was full, the manure was shoveled out into a manure spreader and taken out to the field.


One cold winter spell, Mr. Calvin came out to work on the old milk machine, and brought his boys with him. We took down to our fort along the dry creek, and on the way back, he decided he was going to walk across the frozen pit. He didn’t make it far. We fished him out and brought him into the milk barn. Dad took a hose to him and washed him down. By this time, he was about frozen, clean but still stinking to high heaven. Dad carried him to the house and handed off to Mom who stripped him and wrapped him in a blanket and put him near the kerosene floor furnace to warm up. She hung his clothes on a fold-up rack over the furnace to dry. 


This was the first and last time Calvin brought the boys out. I do know his wife wasn’t happy with the odor when they got home. The manure may have been washed off, but the odor still remained.


On the home front with the Hooligans, Problem Child Patches has figured out how to outfox the under-ground fence. It starts vibrating 10 feet from the line, so she bounces back and toward the line until she overwhelms the battery recycling just long enough to get out. When I get home, she is laying in the ditch in front of the house. I unload everything out of my truck while she is impatiently barking at me to let her back in. She also did something she hasn’t done since she was a pup; turning the faucet on the front of the house to get a drink. Only she doesn’t turn it back off. I was hoping that it was only on for a short time, however my meter reader left me a card on the front door that I had a big jump in water usage this time. I used over 6,900 gallons this time, and needed to check for a leak. She must have turned it on the afternoon before and it ran all night and most of the next day.

A musician/author friend of mine Cabot Barden let me sit in on his recording session at Fame Recoding studios in Muscle Shoals. It was very interesting learning how a song is put together especially with one artist playing all of the instruments.  As I set in the control room overlooking the studio, my mind wandered to some of the greats that recorded there:  Aretha Franklin, Duane Allman, Arthur Alexander, Etta James, Clarence Carter, Lou Rawls, Donny Osmond, Candi Staton, Little Richard, Bobbie Gentry, Paul Anka, Otis Redding, Drive by Truckers, Jason Isbell & the 400 unit, Travis Wammack, The Dell Rays, Terri Gibbs, The Osmonds, Billy Joe Royal, Lobo, Alabama, The Blind Boys of Alabama, Shenandoah, Andy Williams, Mac Davis, Larry Gatlin & The Gatlin Brothers, Dobie Gray, Wayne Newton, Liza Minnelli, Tom Jones, Wet Wiilie, Wilson Pickett, Jerry Lee Lewis, The Drifters, George Jones, Ray Stevens, Jerry Reed, Billy Ocean, Heartland, Darryl Worley, and Waylon Jennings among others.

658207232015_Rick Hall 

Rick Hall, the founder of Fame, died earlier this month. His funeral as expected was a great musical sendoff. I was in the second week of bronchitis and didn’t get to attend. I photographed Mr. Hall at three events, a benefit for the Fame Girls Ranch, a meet and greet at the Alabama Music Hall of Fame, and his autobiography signing.


We had a nice warm clear day between the two snow events we had, and I took the opportunity to drive over to Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge. I finally was able to see three of the twenty plus whooping cranes overwintering.



Christmas 2017

Rosedale Garden 










When I woke up this morning and looked out the window, I told myself it would be a great morning to go to Wheeler Wildlife to see if I could see some of the whooping cranes and get pictures. No, no, no, you need to make those cookies for Friday night and get the lights up in the sunroom, and finish your Christmas card so you can start mailing them out. 

2017_12_03_4455_BelleMont volunteers









Okay, so I look for the recipe I like in the kitchen drawer with the mixer. Not there. Those of you who have seen my kitchen know how small it is, so things should be easy to find. I find it in my computer and print out. Get the 2 sticks of butter out of the freezer to let warm up. While the butter was doing that I worked on finishing the Christmas card cover. Next it was hunting up measuring cups for the two sugars. I got that blended, and went to measure out the homemade vanilla and baking soda but couldn’t find my spoons. I only have two drawers these things are kept in. I finally find a teaspoon and guess at the half I needed.  Next add the four and oats without any complications. Next the butterscotch chips and chocolate chips. The butterscotch ones were in the refrigerator, but the chocolate ones I bought Sunday are MIA.  While hunting through the countertops I find the recipe I was looking for.  I put required amount in and put the rest in a zip-lock bag, and got out an empty one for the chocolate ones. I put raisins with the bowl. I’m looking for the zip-lock bag to put the rest in, and it’s missing.  I find the bag, put the rest of the raisins in the bag, put back in the box and put up in the cabinet with the flour and there’s that half of box of raisins I thought I had. Now back to looking for the chocolate chips, I finally find them in the refrigerator with the cheese I bought. 










Everything together and in the oven, I go to start on putting the lights up.  After the couple of accidents I’ve had, I decide to wait until the cookies are out of the oven, and it’s turned off. 










The refuge’s page is sharing pictures bragging how many sandhills are around the observation building. 













War Eagle!!!  Auburn stomped Alabama in this year’s Iron Bowl, so it will be peace for us alumni and fans until next year’s game.  










Christmas events are taking place all over our area. The Belle Mont mansion’s Plantation Christmas was well attended.  The home is decorated in the 1800s style with what was around in the season. The North Alabama Dance Club made their annual appearance performing dances of the period.  They are very popular each year.  Dulcimers played in the dining room where visitors enjoyed various cookies and punch.  A volunteer was stationed in each room in period clothing to give the history of the resident of the room.




















The Dicken’s Christmas Ya’ll was in Tuscumbia the next weekend, complete with Dickens characters, arts and crafts and Clyde and Pride pulling a beautiful carriage up and down main street.  A Dickens period feast with the play the night before opened the festival. A Christmas Ball closed out the weekend.

























 Each city in the area had Christmas parades.  I was able to attend and photograph the Tuscumbia, Muscle Shoals and Cherokee parades.

























December 16, I attended the first Wreaths Across America at Shiloh National Cemetery. Five hundred wreaths were donated for 3,800 graves. I thought lack of enough wreaths was because it was the first year Shiloh participated in the event until I stopped in at Corinth National Cemetery (Mississippi) on the way home and saw what looked to be about 2,000 wreaths and several thousand graves lacking wreaths. 

CorinthNational Cemetery_2017_12_16_7757








CorinthNational Cemetery_2017_12_16_7749
























On December 14, Tuscumbia celebrated their 200th birthday, kicking off the next two years leading up to Alabama’s 200th year of statehood December 14, 2019.  








 My three Hooligan Border Collies, Patches, Blackie and Levi, have finished their letter to Santa.  I had a couple of accidents that involved falls, and they are getting to the age I’m afraid the girls, Patches and Blackie, might get hurt due to their arthritis. They like to have a lot of fun roughhousing making the pictures for the card.  This year I took a couple of each one from over the years we’ve been doing this and made this year’s card.  Plus, Auburn beat Alabama 26-14 this year, so I had to put my school colors orange and blue in the greeting.









Dear Santa:

We’ve been very good Hooligan doggies this year. Well Mom has been calling Patches "Problem Child," so she hasn’t much. Mom has been working a lot and late, so we tried to help her weed by digging holes around the yard. Mom said we dug the holes too deep and also dug up the good plants along with the weeds. She didn’t explain to us the difference between a good weed and a bad one. All plants look the same to us. Patches also turned on the hydrant on the front of the house, got a drink and walked off.  When Mom came home, she said Patches needs learn how to turn it back off. 

Santa, we want lots and lots of biscuits, rib bones, and rawhide chews. Mom won't let us have them. And bring us lots and lots of biscuits, not the healthy stuff Mom gets us. Levi has learned how to make a sound like a woodpecker when he’s trying to get Mom to hurry up and feed us. Mom says he’s been a very bad boy and stands there holding our food. It is a very irritating sound Santa, so please ask him to stop. When it’s time to eat, Blackie decides to go hunt for mice. She’s had all day, Santa, and she decides to go hunting at feeding time!! Make her stop, Santa! Patches takes her sweet time when it’s time to get our biscuits. Mom calls and calls her and she just lays there looking at her and we are having to sit and wait on her to come. Finally, when Mom is about to give us ours and go in the house, she decides to slowly get up, walks over slowly. Then she has to smell Levi and finally sits so we can get our biscuits.  Also, Santa, we want all of our backyard back.  Mom says lightening hit it in the bottom and she needs to replace it. In the meantime, we only have the front and back yard. 

And Santa, we want lots of biscuits, bones and chews.

Wishing you the Warmth of Home, the love of Family and Friends. May you have Enough.  

May you have a Blessed and Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

The Hooligans and Mary

Oh I’d be remised if I didn’t attach the recipe for the cookies:



• 1 cup (2 sticks) butter or margarine, softened
• 2 eggs
• 1 cup packed light brown sugar
• 1/3 cup granulated sugar
• 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
• 1 ½ cups flour
• 2 1/2 cups quick cooking oats
• 1 teaspoons baking soda
• 3/4 cups golden raisins
• 1 teaspoon cinnamon
• 10 ounce mixture cinnamon or butterscotch chips, chocolate or white or dark chocolate chips


1. Heat oven to 350 F

2. Beat butter, brown sugar and granulated sugar in bowl until creamy.  Add eggs and vanilla; beat well. Combine flour and baking soda; add to butter mixture, beating well. Stir in oats, chips and raisins (batter will be stiff). Drop by heaping teaspoons onto un-greased cookie sheet.

3. Bake 10-12 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool 1 minute; remove from cookie sheet to wire rack. Makes about 4 dozen.

*BAR VARIATION: Spread batter into lightly greased 9-by-13-inch baking pan. Bake at 350 F for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown. Cool and cut into bars.