Southwest Oklahoma Ain’t Lake Wobegon

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View From The Front Porch Last Week

Southwest Oklahoma isn’t Lake Wobegon, but this week I’ll use a Garrison Keillor type format to relate the news from the home place. (And, yes, I have been known to listen to public radio on occasion. I can’t all the time because as a politically conservative woman, my blood pressure tends to rise to an unsafe level.  I have, however, enjoyed A Prairie Home Companion for many years.)

Wheat Harvest

Last week, wheat harvest was in full swing in SW Oklahoma. Gramps and I were very grumpy. We stopped raising wheat for grain a couple of years ago, but it’s hard on us not to be part of the harvest hustle now. Son #2 made the comment that last year was the first harvest he hadn’t operated a combine since he was twelve-years-old.

Farmers are notoriously tight-lipped about poor yields, but I have gathered from a network of spies and informants the wheat yields were pretty putrid–between 5 and 20 bushels per acre with a few better areas. Drought and several late freezes knocked out much of the crop.

IMG_3026The wheat stored in the “elevators” pictured above, with 1,062,000 bushel capacity will make 74,340,000 loaves of white bread, or 100,890,000 loaves of wheat bread .

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 Oklahoma wheat is exported to countries around the globe because of its high quality and protein.

Our usual work went on through harvest. Gramps built fence for neighboring farmers, sold used oilfield pipe to farmers and ranchers for fence building, tended cows, and sprayed pastures for weeds. I am working on a book, so I write a lot, but I also have to do real work sometimes. One of the tasks I did entailed mulching the garden using my sweet new pitchfork. I will hide it from Gramps–who steals my tools–and will only bring it from its super secret location when I have a small job he may tend for me.

Good Neighbors

Gramps and I journeyed to Oklahoma City one day–a two hour drive. One of the May tornado outbreaks sent a twister directly through the Oklahoma City West Stockyards. All their barns and buildings looked like crumpled aluminum foil. Some of the pens were standing, but unusable because of tornado debris.

Other livestock auctions in the state are handling OKC West’s sales until they can get on their feet.

What’s the substitute for nothin’?

Later at the Cracker Barrel restaurant, (a fabulous eatery for the aging,) Gramps ordered a chopped beef steak with mushrooms and swiss cheese, with a side salad and blue cheese dressing.

Waitress brings his salad: Sorry, we’re out of blue cheese. Here’s ranch or honey mustard.

Gramps: Oh, whatever.

Later, waitress hands plate to Gramps: Sorry. We’re out of cheese and mushrooms.

Gramps: (starting to steam) This don’t look nothin’ like the picture.

Waitress: (looking like, hello! dumb farmer guy!) I know. It doesn’t have any cheese or mushrooms.

Dessert at the Senior Citizens’ Eatery

Gramps and I listen to the farm markets on the radio each morning while we eat breakfast. Also, the local news, obituaries, and the menu for the Senior Citizens Center.

Old people rejoice! Dessert today is Orange Fluff.

Speaking of old people

I have misplaced my multi-million-dollar expensive tri-focal glasses. I mostly carry them around on top of my head or on my shirt front, but I know I had them Sunday because I needed to actually put them on my eyes to see if the snake I’d shot was really dead. Gramps helped me look for them yesterday, but as I once heard a frustrated female detective say of her male counterpart: Oh, for pity’s sake, how’s he supposed to find anything? He can’t even find the mustard in the refrigerator.

Speaking of snakes

On Father’s Day I was under the weather, but tottered outside before Gramps got home from church to start the charcoals for grilling his special meal . A twenty-five-feet-long king cobra black bull snake lay stretched beneath the picnic table. I do not like snakes, and with Gramps not home, I had to do something fast–the pit viper snake lay between me and the grill. Without a gas can handy like the lady who inadvertently burned down her house trying to get the snake in this post, I turned back for my .22. By the time the gun was loaded and I returned to the scene, the puff adder snake had advanced to the tree next to the grill. Our five-hundred-gallon propane tank in the background presented a problem, because even though I hate snakes, I hesitated to blow up myself trying to get one.

I reconnoitered to avoid the tank, but by then the diamondback rattlesnake had started up the tree over the grill. That put the bullet’s trajectory toward the road, but I shot anyway. Missed. The cottonmouth snake circled to the other side of the tree. Now, the propane tank was a factor again, but the question was, To Grill, Or Not To Grill?

I dispatched the snake with one more shot, but it dropped to the base of the grill, below.IMG_3059

Which posed another problem: How to keep my feet a very long way from the copperhead snake–lest it twitch–and still reach the grill?

Well, anyway. That’s how I know I had my glasses Sunday. I had to fetch them to make sure the snake had completely shuffled off the mortal coil before commencing the grilling operations. (Gramps carried away the nasty thing body when he returned.)

Chiggers

After some late freezes and cool weather delayed their appearance, chiggers have made themselves felt with a vengeance. In Wal-Marts all across the USA’s southern tier, we see the effects on way more skin than we ever wanted to see. Bite spots range from the light pink, to angry, weeping sores clawed to infection by humans seeking relief from the itch.

Barn Cat (soon to be cats)

Here we have Paisley, the expectant barn cat. She has given up her job at the rodent patrol and most of the time, now, lays in the position shown below. The nieces, grandkids, and I eagerly await her bundles of joy.

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Farmers Have the Coolest Toys

I would be remiss to not share this super cool farmer-built motorcycle from the area. The frame is welded from used oilfield pipe–2 3/8″–I believe. A Cummins diesel motor out of a pickup powers this baby, too. Oh, yeah. The Munsters would be green–greener–with envy.

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Reading

I read a book called Dreamlander by KM Weiland. I don’t usually read fantasy novels, but I really like Ms. Weiland’s writing blog and I thoroughly enjoyed her book, too. It’s clean reading and hard to put down. Check it out here.

And, finally, a snort of laughter from the John Deere magazine, The Furrow.

A guy shouts frantically into the phone: My wife’s in labor and her contractions are only two minutes apart!

Dispatcher: Is this her first child?

The guy: No! This is her husband!

Well, that’s the news from Southwest Oklahoma, where not all the men are handsome, not all the women are strong, but all the kids are way above average, at least.

God bless all y’all and enjoy Christian comedian Tim Hawkins doing my favorite of his parody songs, Hey There Delilah.

[youtube.com/watch?v=cZ2KYbRVie8]

*And thank you very much Brenda for your info. The farmers’ co-op would be dead without you 🙂

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10 thoughts on “Southwest Oklahoma Ain’t Lake Wobegon

  1. Excellent post. Had you followed the footsteps of the late Granny, the new pitchfork would have played a part in the snake dispatch as well : }

  2. What a fun post, Danni! The snake story was my favorite, cuz we feel the exact same way, and I’m so impressed that you could hit that sucker with a 22. (I only had my very first shooting lesson last month–which sorta tells the word I’m not from Oklahoma I guess…)

  3. Well I just don’t know where to be begin–I think it should be somewhere around the “I needed my glasses to tell if the snake I shot was, in fact, dead” because I have never heard that sentence used. ever. And I nearly fell off my stool laughing at your description of the episode (crossed out words and all). And congratulations on your sweet new pitchfork. While I don’t know precisely what a pitchfork is used for, it sounds incredibly handy to have around. Well, that and a .22 apparently. Thank you, Danni, for starting my day with laughter. You have a gift with words.

    • Thank you, Anna. And for the tweets, too. 🙂 On a happy note, I found my glasses after I wrote the post. They were lying out at the snake scene on the ground. It’s a wonder I didn’t step on them and break them.

  4. Hey, I like the Lake Woebegone format. I always got a bang out of hearing the menu for the senior citizens center, growing up. (Even Paul Shields is hard pressed to sound enthusiastic about kraut & weenies, warm three-bean salad, with red velvet cake for dessert.)

    One of the Ridling guys hollered across the road a few days ago to ask if we had wheat this year. I grinned and shook my head, and he hollered back “Its a good year not to have wheat!” It does seem odd not to be involved with harvest any more. Life passes and time is reckoned by milestones like that, but ours keep changing.

    • It is so weird not to be cutting wheat anymore, but as he said, this year was definitely a good one not to.
      I know–the poor senior citizens. Gramps and I have a lot to look forward to. :0

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