Wednesday, October 30, 2013

All Soul's March

In the crisp chill of October night costumed children toddle down darkened lanes, their tittering voices fending off silence.

They come dressed as ghouls and monsters, aliens of outer space and starship captains from the 25th century. Masked as heroes and demons, wild animals and crazed villains, our youth knocks upon the doors of strangers demanding treats.

Continued at... All Soul's March

by Michael Hofferber. Copyright © 1994. All rights reserved.
Rural Delivery
Out of the Past
Holidays and Notable Events
Artwork: Three Kids in Halloween Costumes With Scary Masks

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

What Logs to Burn

"Logs to Burn! Logs to Burn!"
"Everyone needs logs to burn!"
Hear the woodman sell his wares.
What trees they come from, no one cares.

Ah! But here's a word to make you wise,
When you hear the woodman's cries.
Never heed his usual tale
That he has good logs for sale,
But read these lines and really learn
The proper kind of logs to burn:

Continued at... What Logs to Burn

by Michael Hofferber. Copyright © 2004. All rights reserved.
Rural Delivery
Shop Tools and Hardware
How To Do  It Books
Artwork: Stack of Firewood

Monday, October 21, 2013

How to Make a Jack-o-Lantern

First, you start with a pumpkin seed, but not just any pumpkin. Seek out seeds of a Halloween or Jack-o'-Lantern or Spookie variety. You want a pumpkin that matures to the size and shape of your own head.
Sow your seed just before the last frost in mounds of soil and manure. And as you plant, reflect on how deeply the roots of pumpkins sink into history. Native to the Americas, pumpkins fed Indian tribes before Columbus landed and gave white settlers in frontier cabins sustenance through cold, dark winters.

Grow pumpkin vines in full sun with plenty of water. When they sprout small pumpkins, pinch off the tips of the vines. When the pumpkins are six inches across, pick all but one pumpkin per vine.

Continued at... How to Make a Jack-o-Lantern

by Michael Hofferber. Copyright © 1996. All rights reserved.
Rural Delivery
Out of the Past
Holidays and Notable Events
Artwork: Jack-o'-lantern

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Signs of the Weather

Bad weather is on its way -- ferocious storms of rain and maybe snow. I see it clearly in the night sky: that ring around the moon -- a sure sign.

The brighter the stars, of course, the better the weather, but when a cat begins to wash its face a storm is coming fast. And when smoke drops in a chimney, rain soon follows.

Continued at... Signs of the Weather

by Michael Hofferber. Copyright © 1996. All rights reserved.
Rural Delivery
Out of the Past
Artwork: Ring Around Moon by Alan Lenk

Monday, October 14, 2013

Silent Sentinel of Crop Protection

He stands alone near the fenceline staring out at the horizon. The breeze that rustles through the dried corn stalks stirs his tattered shirttails. He sways slightly, but keeps a firm grip on his rusty pitchfork with a broken tine.

Since spring planting he's been out there, a silent sentinel of agricultural defense. As the fields were plowed and fertilized, he was watching. He witnessed the first emergence of seedlings and saw the workers moving handlines during the early summer drought.

But now the crop is in and harvest done, and he's still standing there, waiting. I find him unnerving.

Continued at... Silent Sentinel of Crop Protection

by Michael Hofferber. Copyright © 1995. All rights reserved.

Rural Delivery
Holidays and Notable Events
Artwork: Scarecrow by Susan Savad

Saturday, October 12, 2013

A Bite Most Deadly

Some folks are afraid of spiders, others snakes. Lightning puts the fear of God in many of us, and so do earthquakes, tornadoes and dark moonless nights. Living in the country presents many special worries, like the threat of wildfire or the potential for flash floods. More cars collide with wild animals on rural roads than city lanes and the chances of eating a poisonous mushroom or contracting the deadly hantavirus are much greater off the beaten path. But there is no threat so terrifying in rural places, or as fatally serious as rabies.

Growing up, I learned to keep a wary eye on grape arbors and tall, dark hedges of lilacs lest some crazed bat should emerge, grab hold of my hair, bite my scalp and infect me with rabies. Older cousins planted a terror of rabies in my pre school mind with accounts of the terrible vaccination shots in the belly that bat bite victims had to endure and how, more often than not, the bitten person went crazy and was committed to an asylum, ranting and raving and foaming at the mouth.

Continued at... A Bite Most Deadly

Michael Hofferber
Rural Delivery
Out There
Pet Supply
Artwork: Mad Dog by Mike Savad

Friday, October 4, 2013

A Fruitful Year

It was the final day of the season for the Fallins' roadside produce stand and Mae Fallin was ready to close up.
For three months Mae and her husband, Vern, had stood behind their tables of melons and corn and apples and squash. Thousands of their homegrown tomatoes and watermelon and peppers passed through their hands this long, hot summer, sold to customers from Boise and Twin Falls and Pocatello and even New York.
"The customers from New York were a nice little family," Mae recalled. "They had been to Alaska and were heading home taking the back roads when they saw our stand."

Continued at... A Fruitful Year

Michael Hofferber
Rural Delivery
Farm Supply
Artwork: Mae Fallin with squash (photo by Michael Hofferber)

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Bird Wars

Some farmers enforce their property rights with shotguns; others use feral cats, cannons, balloons or plastic owls. If they don't, birds can eat them into poverty.

This is the time of year when sparrows, starlings, pigeons and other overwintering fowl start making a pest of themselves in barns and feedlots. Feed lines in dairy barns are black with birds and the backs of the cows are often slick with their excrement.

An adult starling, according to some reports, will eat one-and-a-half times its body weight in feed per day if given the chance. Wintering flocks numbering 2,000 birds will consume a ton of feed a month or more.

Continued at... Bird Wars

Michael Hofferber
Farm Supply
Pest Control
Artwork: Starlings by Will Borden