Enjoying two- and four-legged friends

“A funny thing happened on the way to …” and it should continue “the Forum”, but in this case, it was the recycling center.

Happily, the center is only about a block from me, and I recycle everything possible, so I make the trip about once a week. (And I am always appalled at the terrible accumulation of waste paper, mostly newspaper and catalogs. Recycling is great, but it can’t bring back the trees that were destroyed.)

On my last trip, there was already a car being unloaded by a gentleman, and, as this is a friendly (mostly) neighborhood, we acknowledged each other with a nod and “Good morning.”

And then he said, “Where’s your column?”

Startled, I said. “I beg your pardon?”

And he repeated the question, adding, “I always look forward to it.”

In shock, I thanked him, and went on my way in a much lighter mood. I don’t know the gentleman — he said he was retired four years from township employment — but he’s going to be surprised when he reads this and I tell him how he made my day!

* * *

All kinds of fun things happened during the visit from my nephew and his wife, so we need to catch up on the “news” from this semi-wild kingdom.

On their first evening here, Joey and I and Winnie were looking out the back barn door and enjoying the view, when suddenly the red fox appeared down by the pond. We watched him amble eastward, but he was stopping momentarily, curling up and ducking his head. He was being dive-bombed by little birds that very much objected to his presence in “their” property. He finally ran and disappeared in the jungle.

The next adventure was Winnie’s excited posture, which declared there was a groundhog in the humane trap in one of the stalls (which over the years has been literally excavated). Obviously, the hint of sprinkling household ammonia near the den didn’t deter them for a minute. Joey had never seen a groundhog up close, and even took its picture before we found it a new home.

Meanwhile, on the back porch, an unlikely gathering convened: two rabbits, a chipmunk, a pesky red squirrel, and adolescent grackles as big as their parents and demanding, noisily to be fed.

It should be noted that the strange weather here has created an almost tropical rain forest environment and the growth of everything green has been phenomenal. The wisteria vine is about to swallow up this building and the old cast iron farm bell, mock orange blossom bushes blocked both ends of the porch and had to be cut back. The rose of Sharon shrubs have grown so thick and tall I can no longer see the side yard and they, too, will have to be cut back. I hate to disturb the natural look, but enough is enough!

* * *

I noticed Laurie Steeb had a recipe for homestyle potato chips in Farm and Dairy. In the “good old days” when no one had money to blow on commercial potato chips, we teenage girls would get together at someone’s house, peel potatoes, slice them very thin, fry them in hot lard (no such thing as vegetable oil) and spend the afternoon munching and talking, no doubt about boys.

And to illustrate how amazing this world is today, I heard on a cooking program on National Public Radio “how to sex-up coleslaw!” Can you believe what we have wrought?

* * *

There was this morning when I heard, but could not see, the caroling Carolina wren until I looked to the roof of the barn and there was the bird — perched atop the horse on the antique weather vane and singing to the beautiful day. It was that same day I heard one liquid note and saw only a flash of black and gold, but I knew the Baltimore oriole was back and enjoying the mulberries.

* * *

On the Assee Lake in Munster, Germany, a swan has fallen in love with a white plastic swan-shaped pedal boat and stares longingly at it, cooing and swimming circles around it as parkgoers pedal around the lake.

* * *

Some people are not really aging, they’re just ripening to perfection. (I love it!)

About the Author

A lifelong resident of the Mahoning Valley, Janie Jenkins retired in 1987 as a feature writer and columnist at the Youngstown Vindicator. In June of that same year, she started writing her column, "On My Mind" for Farm and Dairy. She loves all animals and is an accomplished equestrienne. Local history is also one of her loves, and her home, the former Southern Park Stables, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. More Stories by Janie Jenkins

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