Rosedale Garden


Fall 2018 in NW Alabama

Rosedale GardenFall has arrived in the south. So far, it's not sweater weather. Temperatures are still in the nineties.

Hummingbirds see to be staying around a lot longer than previous years. Maybe it's the effect of all the tropical storms, or the warm weather.

The first weekend in October and I still have three feeders up, and seeing several birds. A large percentage of corn has been harvested, along with early planted soybeans.

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Beans planted later are starting to show a yellow fall color. Farmers have defoliated cotton and started picking.

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Most have switched to the pickers, which makes the large round bales wrapped in plastic that are easier to store in at the gin or barns until it can be cleaned and baled. It is able to pick more cotton than the old-style pickers.

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They have less waste than the pods that were used previously. The pods were made on the ground, so the bottom layer would be lost if it stayed out in the field, especially with a lot of rain.

Temperatures have been in the nineties, above normal, through the first part of October. We had a warm fall and winter in 2010, and had a big snow storm the next January.

I lost a lot of dogwoods and fruit trees that year. This week temperatures have been below normal with temperatures in the seventies.

I'm getting over food poisoning from a local restaurant in which over 170 became ill from a norovirus. It took a while for my stomach to get back to normal.

You'd think if you were basically on a liquid diet for a couple of weeks, one would lose weight. But no.

Now it's the attack of the giant ragweed. I was checking fencing, and had to go through it and goldenrod down along the dry creek.

That night, I had a sore throat, plus stuffy ears. The coughing was so bad, even the 'Recipe' couldn't help.

Thanks to my Facebook friends, they placed my lost copy of the 1962 cough syrup prescription from a Pediatrician. I had legal moonshine, lemon juice, local honey and peppermint for making it.

It helped for a little while, but every time I went outside around the ragweed, I would have a relapse. Being a Microbiologist, I don't like to take antibiotics unless absolutely necessary.

After a week, I could see I was heading toward a case of pneumonia. A trip to the doctor, and a change in antihistamine/decongestant and a course of antibiotics greatly helped.

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With everything going on, I still was able to take a media ride a Pathfinder B17 bomber the "Madras Maiden" operated by the Liberty Foundation. It is only one of twelve B17's that still fly today.

The media were given a preview of the plane the week before she was available for public tours designed as a fundraiser for the 1.5 million dollars needed to keep the "Madras Maiden" in the air and out of a museum. We were taken on a low-level trip around the Huntsville International Airport in Huntsville, Alabama.

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The flight made me appreciate what our airmen went through while flying the aircraft. I could imagine how cold it was flying at its highest altitude with all the open-air turrets, and gun bays.

When flying in rain, the inside of the plane would get wet. I could imagine what they went through trying to stay in the air without being shot down.

The B17's held twelve 500-pound bombs in a bay right behind the pilot's compartment. In order to go from the back part of the plane to the front, you walked through the middle of the bombs, six on each side, on a narrow I beam.

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If one of the bombs were hit during battle and it exploded, along with the other eleven, nothing would be left. There was a total of 12,732 B-17's that were produced between 1935 and May 1945.

Of these 4,735 were lost in combat. In a single 376 plane raid in August 1943, 60 B-17s were shot down. That was a 16 percent loss rate and meant 600 empty bunks in England.

In 1942-43 it was statistically impossible for bomber crews to complete a 25-mission tour in Europe.

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After we got back on the ground, both elbows had boo-boos from trying to get through the bomb bay during the flight. It was a once in a lifetime experience.

My hope is that the public will continue to support the Liberty Foundation's mission and keep this aircraft flying. The younger generation needs to know what their grandparents went through to defend their freedom.

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I entered a press lottery for press box or sideline passes for Auburn's home games. I drew the Southern Miss and the Tennessee games.

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I was able to go to the Southern Miss game, but had the allergy crud for the Tennessee game. The game with Southern Mississippi started at three p.m.

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A lightning delay for an hour and half with four minutes left in the second quarter, meant the game was over after nine p.m. I got home to Tuscumbia around two a.m.

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Auburn's Bald eagle, Spirit, flew from one of the stadium towers to start the game, and circled around the inside of the stadium before landing in the center of the field. Since it was homecoming, fellow alumni Governor Kay Ivey was there, and I was able to meet her.

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Auburn's mascot, Aubie noticed I was taking his picture and put on a show for me.

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Cooler weather started this week. With the cooler weather, some of the water birds are back at the river.

I saw my last hummingbird on October 6, but one of my feeders in a spot that I can't see from the house, looks like it is being used. I'll leave my feeders up until the first part of November.

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Monarchs and other butterflies and dragonflies have disappeared. I need to bring plants into the garage that I want to keep over winter soon.

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Hopefully there won't be a snake trying to hibernate in one of them this year. The Hooligans aren't happy when they see one in a hanging basket.


Photos property of Mary Carton.

Friday the 13th

Rosedale GardenLast month, I had one of those historic milestone birthdays. It was also on Friday the 13th. I'm not a superstitious person, but somehow the two just didn't seem to be a good combination. I had to watch every step I took that day. Look down not up.

Somehow though, I don't feel any different. I'm already retired sort of. I'm getting Social Security, and only working one day a week at the Laboratory at Eliza Coffee Memorial. I'm building the dictionaries in our computer system for resulting the tests we do, plus the reference laboratory we use.

I'm also working a couple of days at the Colbert County Reporter. So technically I am retired sort of as of September 5, of 2017, so turning 65 shouldn't be a big trauma in my life.

Since I had back surgery at twenty-one and a knee replacement at age forty-seven, I already have a lot of aches, pains, pops, and creaks. My neurosurgeon told me one time that I had the chart of an old woman.

Ages that really bothered me for some reason, was turning twenty-five, thirty-two, forty-two, fifty-five and sixty-two. The big five-o, didn't bother me. The big six-o, didn't bother me.

Turning sixty-two was the roughest. I was trying to figure out why. Maybe it had something to do with being eligible for Social Security.

A former co-worker of mine came in complaining that all of a sudden, her Bible class stopped calling her "Nelda," and started calling her "Miss Nelda," not "Mrs. Nelda." I teased her about it for a little bit, that they were just being respectful. She was a year older than myself.

Then it happened to me. All of a sudden, I was no longer "Mary," it was "Miss Mary"! Is there a certain age that a woman gets that Miss is added in front of their name? It doesn't happen to the guys, they get to keep their first name intact. Why?

Thinking back, it seemed to have started around age fifty-five for both of us. Maybe that's why fifty-five bothered me. It was that Miss in front of my name. Just call me plain "Mary."

One benefit of turning sixty-five is getting that senior discount. About sixteen years ago, I got together with a group of my high school classmates at a fast food restaurant for supper. I'm the last one in line and as I put my tray down on the table Pam grabs my ticket and exclaims you didn't get it either!

She was the only one in our group who was given the senior discount. The youngsters at these places don't ask, if you look old, you get the discount. Maybe that's another reason turning sixty-two bothered me.

Levi and Blackie have stopped looking for Patches every time I come home. They knew I took her off, and she was supposed to get out of the truck when I got home.

It was several weeks before they decided she was no longer coming back. I still look for her laying in the middle of the road waiting for me to let her back in the yard.

I'm getting over a case of food poisoning from a local restaurant. I had a salad, and apparently, they didn't keep the lettuce at the correct temperature, nor cleaned it properly as almost 70 folks were sick with a norovirus.

It wasn't as bad as the bacterial food poisoning two bucket disease I had in college. I don't remember the ambulance ride to the infirmary, nor the first two days I was in there. First, I was afraid I was going to die, and as it progressed, I was asking, "Please Lord, put me out of my misery."

Hummingbirds are really hitting the feeders, since lack of rain has caused a lack of flowers. Migration apparently has also started.

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hummingbird

It's been like a kamikaze raid around the six feeders I have up. I'm making a few more ant moats out of detergent caps, and will be putting up a few more feeders as soon as the caulk dries. I've been seeing a lot of Gulf fritillary butterflies on my zinnias, and a few monarchs.

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Corn has tasseled out and started t dry, soybeans are knee high in wheat stubble, and cotton is blooming, as fall gets near. My area has seen less than an inch since the monsoon we had during the Helen Keller Festival in June.

The W.C. Handy Music Festival had very nice and pleasant weather for its ten-day run. Usually the temperatures are close to triple digits.

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This year, the headliner concert was a reunion of Fame Recording Studios artists Candi Staton, Willie Hightower, Travis Wammack and Mickey Buckins, and others, with guest Christine Ohlman, the "Beehive Queen."

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I caught the tail end of the Spring Valley Fire Department rodeo, their main fundraiser. The last day was at the church of legendary Percy Sledge for a special tribute by his son Howell and children.

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The best rendition of "How Great Thou Art" I've ever heard was song by Howell Sledge and Christine Ohlman. I didn't get to record it at last years tribute, but got one this year.


Photos and video property of Mary Carton.

RIP Hooligan Patches

Rosedale GardenThe Hooligans have the run of the whole three acres I own. I installed an underground wireless fence around the whole acreage. The collars start vibrating then feet from the wire, and shock if they get with five feet of it.

My "Problem Child" Patches had it figured out just how close she could get out without being shocked. She was always testing it, so the battery wouldn't last the normal three months. She was the master of escape. She wouldn't tell me when the battery was dead. She would get out after I left for work and would come back home before I did.

One time she got out and head up the hill, Karen caught her and stuck her in her back yard with a bunch of new rescues. She called me at work, I said I would leave her and pick her up after work. When I pulled up to her carport, there is Patches standing up plastered to the storm door going into the back yard, with a look of save me in her eyes. She must have thought she was back in rescue, as I didn't have problems with her for a while.

She knew the collar kept her in, so when changing the batteries, I had to tie her up. She wouldn't let me put it back on the first time I changed the battery. When the battery was good, she figured out that she could bounce forward and back several times and overwhelm the collar just long enough to get out. When she wanted in she would stand at the end of the driveway barking for me to let her in. If she got into something that she knew she wasn't supposed to get into while I was gone, she managed to tell on herself when I got home.

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patches

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Last May she got into a neighbor burn pile and was sick the next day. We made a trip to the vet, and she got better for a week or so. Then she slowly started wasting away. We tried different medications for her heart, but I had to make a decision to let Patches go over the "rainbow bridge" on May 31. She was fourteen years old.

Blackie and Levi keep looking for her when I get home. This is the first time that I had more than one dog and didn't realize that they mourn the loss of their buddies. They know I took her off. She wanted a lot of attention from me the last few weeks we had her. Now I understand why. I still look for her at the end of the driveway wanting back in and giving me the "look." Her ashes will be buried near my last rescue, Casey, an Austrian Shepard. I had Casey for sixteen years.

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Farmers have finished up combining wheat and have planted soybeans over it no till. Going through my pictures from last year, it looks like the wheat harvest was a couple of weeks earlier this year. Corn is over head high, tasseled out and looks like it will be a good crop again this year. We had snow in February and went from winter to August temperatures. We had a lot of rain, which delayed corn planting in some areas to hot dry weather.

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Bluebirds have fledged once and are building new nests on top of the old one.

We were really needing rain, and it finally hit before the 40th Helen Keller Festival. The festival is held each year during the week of Helen Keller's birthday. I went home every night from Spring Park muddy from the knees down from walking around the outdoor stage.

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This year, it was all Muscle Shoals based music. Red Marlowe, who finished in the top four of The Voice, played Friday night. Saturday night some of the Muscle Shoals' legends played in the headliner. Sunday, the local churches take over sponsoring concerts. This year Jamie Grace was the headliner. The Sunday attendance has been very good each year.

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William Gibson's play, The Miracle Worker, is performed during the month of June until mid-July each year, right on the grounds of Ivy Green, Helen Keller's birthplace in Tuscumbia. Local actors do a great job in it each year. Patty Duke, who played in the movie version, was so influenced that she made several trips to Tuscumbia over the years.

The W.C. Handy Music Festival starts at the end of July, where the Shoals celebrate the "Father of the Blues," W.C. Handy. Ten days of music. I keep several chairs in my truck. He was born in Florence, on the other side of the Tennessee River.

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The Fourth of July was spent in Russellville, Ala., at their celebration at Sloss Lake. Darryl Worley was the headliner. A storm hit just before he was to play, it knocked out power to the park and damaged some of his band's instruments. After the storm passed, they did the fireworks first.

Darryl Worley had the city bring in a flatbed trailer and did an acoustical concert with his drummer and guitar player in the dark until midnight. The only lights on were the lights around the ball field behind them. He could have collected his check and gone home. His actions speak volumes about his character.

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Photos property of Mary Carton.

Electric Fences

Rosedale GardenThe first electric fences were invented in 1936-1937 by New Zealand inventor Bill Gallagher. Apparently, he was irritated at his horse using his car as a scratching post. I remember seeing some of the porcelain insulators that Dad used on our dairy. The insulator had a hole in the middle for nailing it to a post. One miss whack and the insulators were history.

In 1962, another New Zealand inventor, Doug Phillips, invented the non-shortable electric fence which could be used up to 20 miles. When these improved electric fences that used a plastic insulator first came out, several farmers in our area embraced them.

My Dad and one of his friend's J.B. Enlow were great fans of the new and improved version. Dad also used pieces of wire to repair or hold equipment together instead of duct tape.

One day Mr. Enlow was visiting our farm. He had his rubber boots on and was leaned up against a post by the bull lot. He and my Dad were busy spinning their usual yarns as they normally did when they got together. The kids surrounded them taking it all in.

One of the dogs decided to check out the smells on Mr. Enlow's britches leg. ZAP! Mr. Enlow jumped and ran one way thinking the dog had gotten hold of his leg, and the dog took off the other way thinking Mr. Enlow had gotten hold of him. The rest of us jumped out of our skins. The electric fence was running along the top of the posts to keep the bulls from jumping out, and J.B. had his hand on the wire. He wasn't grounded until the dog decided to take a sniff.

Mr. Enlow owned property on Frankfort Road next to the property Dad was renting from Johnny Gattman. He used the electric fence around his pastures to control areas grazed by his cows. Part of each property extended up in the mountains. This was during the time the county was dry, and the mountain area wasn't good for cattle grazing. It was full of cactus, rattlesnakes and moonshiners. The moonshiners were the reason one stayed off of the mountain; they didn't take kindly to anyone wandering near their still.

Remember the moonshiner, Hollister, shooting at Andy and Barney? One morning Mr. Enlow's cows were out. He checked on his electric fence and found out a two-legged animal had gotten into it. One of the moonshiners was hauling two of the large water cooler glass jugs full of shine out of the mountains back to town in the middle of the night.

Apparently, the moonshiner didn't see the electric fence and ran into it. The zap made him drop both jugs and all that shine flowed into the ground. He got so mad that he tore down the fence from one end of the field to the other.

The cows on the other hand were happy for a few days.

electric fences

Locally, farmers are still trying to get corn planted. We are expecting three inches of rain this weekend. A few fields dried out just enough to get the planters in. Normally corn would be up by now. Probably only about 10 percent is in the ground. Winter wheat, however, has taken off with the warm spell.

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Dogwoods are in bloom, but a hard freeze bit the blooms, so very few are pretty this year. Iris and peonies are just starting to bloom. The feed store in town received a nice shipment of GMO free heirlooms. I picked up my usual Cherokee Purple, and also a couple I haven't tried before, Old German, and Orange Oxheart.

Since we still had cold weather possible, they went into quart containers. We had freezing weather last weekend, so they were moved into the garden. Yesterday they went back out into the driveway. The first of the week, another cold spell is predicted, so they'll make one more trip into the garage. In about a week, they will go out into the flower beds along with squash and peppers, as it's been too wet to plow the garden up.

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bird

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Bluebirds are building nests. I checked some of my fourteen boxes, and three already have eggs. In one box, the eggs are white instead of the normal blue.

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Hummingbirds have returned. I saw my first one March 26. I have three feeders up, and plan to put up a couple of more next week.

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hummingbird

bird

The Hooligans have been fairly inactive. Blackie and Patches are limping in the front shoulder, and Levi is limping on his back leg. A couple of stray dogs invaded their turf. Just as Levi's leg starts to get better, he gets excited about eating supper and runs to the back garage and re-injures himself.

Photos property of Mary Carton.

Learning to Drive a Stick Shift

Rosedale GardenGrowing up Dad had a big old white Chevy truck that he used to haul cattle with. It also had a dump bed that he would haul silage from the field and dump in a pit behind the hay barn. The side boards would also come off for hauling hay. It was a five-speed straight shift, with a reverse and neutral settings. Plus, it had another little knob on the side of the stick shift with a cable running down through the floor board, that I never learned what it was for.

I seem to remember Dad using it to gear down on hills, but my memory is foggy on that one. We would ride over to Corinth, Mississippi to the cotton gin there to pick up a truck load of cotton seed hulls and cotton seed meal to feed the cows as they were being milked. We had a tie stall system then, sixteen on each side of the barn, with their heads locked in. A trough ran down in front of them for feeding.

We would walk in front to drag buckets of hulls from the feed room on each side, add a scoop of meal. Then we would go get a bucket of molasses from a 50-gallon metal barrel that was out in full sun and pour over the hulls and meal piled in front of each cow.

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Before we left for Corinth, Dad use to say before every trip to take an extra pair of underwear with us. The road back then was two lanes, and full of hills. Dad used to pass on curves and hills all the way over and back.

When we got home our knuckles were white from holding on tight. After we got home we would unload half of the cotton seeds by shovel into one feed room on one side of the milk barn, and the other half into the feed room on the other side. After Dad's knees got bad from all of the squatting up and down, he decided to go to a parlor type milking barn.

Six cows would come in on each side while he and my uncle where down in a pit where they could easily wash and put the milkers on and off. It meant going to a corn-based feed that fed by auger to each cow. So, no more shoveling of cotton seed hulls and no more white-knuckled trips to Corinth.

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flower

One day Dad decided to teach me how to drive the old truck so I could help in the hay field. He takes the stick and goes through the gears. "This is Lo, Lo," while he puts it in first. He pushes it to 2 and says, "This is Lo." Third gear was first, fourth gear second, and fifth gear third, while I'm telling him it says three, four and five on the stick.

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flower

First, he tells me to push on the clutch a put into first. I put it into first. "NO, NO, that's Lo, Lo."

"It says one," I told him. That's Lo, Lo. I put it in second.

"No, that's Lo." I put it in third and ease off of the clutch. We start off and after a while, he says put it in second, so I did. "NO, NO, that's Lo again."

"Well you said second." I put it in fourth, and he was happy. Finally, after a while of this, I ask him to just get out and let me practice.

winter

Years later, I decided to put a garage door opener on the door at the house I used to own in Muscle Shoals. I used two step ladders to get it installed by myself. Next time I visited my parents on the farm, I told Dad about putting up the opener. He asked why I didn't call him. I mentioned the truck driving lesson. Also, he usually didn't read manuals.

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On the home front, we had snow in early February followed by temperatures in the seventies. I ran around Tuscumbia for about three hours until I decided to step on a loose piece of concrete by the depot and sprained my ankle. I'm still in a brace. Daffodils and star magnolias are blooming. Winter wheat is starting to green up and grow. Bluebirds are building nests in a few of my boxes. Farmers need to get corn into the ground but haven't been able to plow their fields.

We have been getting lots and lots of rain. I had over seven inches in the last week, and around three inches are expected this weekend. TVA has opened most of the spillways of nearby Wilson Dam on the Tennessee River in Muscle Shoals. The pelicans and gulls have been eating well. A waterfall was running off of the bluff at the Rattlesnake Saloon west of Tuscumbia. I'm surprise the Hooligans haven't grown a fungus, as they are out in the rain a lot instead of going in their garage.

waterfall

I was the photographer for the Jake Landers Bluegrass Festival again last month. Blue Highway and Iron Horse played. Jake was sick and was not able to attend this year. He died a few days after the festival. He made arrangements for the festival to continue.

We also lost Rick Hall, the founder of Fame Recording. The studio was world renowned in the sixties along with Muscle Shoals Sound studios and others as the hit recording capital of the world.

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ironhorse

Wintertime Dairy Chores

Rosedale Garden 

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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. 

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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. 

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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. 

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Christmas 2017

Rosedale Garden 

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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. 

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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. 

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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. 

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

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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.  

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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.

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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.

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

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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. 

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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.  

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 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.

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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:

OATMEAL CINNAMON CHIP COOKIES

Ingredients:

• 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

Instructions:

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.







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