Rural Life

Name Yet Another Bug


I know, you thought that we were done with these. This will be the last one of 2014 (unless my friend, Hunter, spies something near her desert digs in California).

Insects featured previously on Funny Farm include the Eastern-Eyed Click Beetle and the male Dobsonfly.

This one should be easy. Cayden nailed the answer on the first try.



Here’s another one that I spotted. Both were photographed in late-summer.


The first correct answer wins beetle bragging rights!


Dumpster Love


The dumpster was Martin’s idea, a few years ago. He was sick of lugging the trio of trash cans down our long, rutted drive. Or hoisting them into the pickup and chauffeuring them roadside each week. The solution? A big, green commercial receptacle, emptied bimonthly. It squats beside the barn, not far from the abandoned trash cans.

At the time, I didn’t care about disposal options. I was fine either way.

Since then, however, I’ve developed an affection for the dumpster. I like the dumpster, especially when it’s filled to the gills. Likewise, its emptiness is enticing — I feel a gravitational pull to fill the void. To toss in trash, junk, broken toys.

And other things.

“Gimmie a hand, will ya?” I asked, gesturing at the feed bin. While cleaning the barn, I’d discovered that the horse grain was moldy — unfit for consumption — and trash-worthy. I dragged the bin outside but it was too heavy and unwieldy to shoulder alone.

Martin flipped open the lid and together, we lifted the feed bin and positioned it at the edge of the dumpster. A moment before the spoiled grain spilled over mounds of kitchen trash and garbage, Martin glanced into the dumpster’s depths.

I never thought he’d look inside.

“Hey!” he shouted indignantly. “Hey! Are those my good hiking socks in there?”

I tipped the grain bin just enough to send its contents downward. An avalanche of oats, cracked corn and barley spilled out, pounding plastic bags and clattering against the dumpster’s innards. But there wasn’t enough to bury the evidence. One of the socks poked conspicuously from a mound of grain.

What are MY good hiking socks doing in the dumpster?” he asked.

“I threw them in there,” I replied.


“Because they were dirty and I didn’t want to deal with them.”

“So you threw them out instead of washing them?”

“Pretty much, yea,” I said. “When I get annoyed with you people, I throw your stuff in the dumpster. Sometimes it’s toys, camping equipment, that stupid whiffle ball set that the kids left out. It’s very cathartic. A huge stress reliever. You should try it sometime.”

Martin did not want to try it. Nor did he see the therapeutic value of a purge. My confession simply confirmed his suspicion that I’m nuts. And, he was ticked off about his socks. (Frankly, he was lucky that his filthy shoes didn’t meet a similar end.)

But I learned a lesson: Always cover your tracks. I’m not going to bag the evidence, since my throw-out therapy is spontaneous, never premeditated. But I can conceal my actions with strategically-placed garbage or empty feed bags. I can mask the contents until Thursday, when a trash truck upends the dumpster and spirits away the contents.

And leaves that big, green monster yawning and empty.

Ready to gulp down more garbage.

Or someone’s discarded clothing, wadded up on the floor. Or seldom-used art supplies. Or outgrown toys, stuffed animals, a travel mug with a missing lid, a flashlight too small to be helpful, those sunglasses of yours that I’ve never liked, that shirt — you have too many shirts anyway….

The dumpster’s hungry.

 webTRASHBAG 11124-3C



The winter weather wager


In recent months, Martin and I made a big decision:

We are sending the barn to college. So to speak.

Actually, we are replacing the barn roof, which will cost as much as a year’s tuition and fees at a private college.

What else could we fund with this kind of cash? A new car, an awesome kitchen renovation, a first-class trip around the world. Hell, Martin could buy a fleet of those army trucks he trolls for on Craigslist.

Instead, we’re funding an improvement for the horses, cats and occasional opossum. (See, I can joke now. I’m beyond the nausea-inducing sticker shock phase. Over the summer one contractor quoted twice the price of previous estimates, and I got a little woozy. Do you need to sit down? he asked, sympathetically. Our roofs are guaranteed for 100 years, he added. What did I care? I’d be dead then!)

Speaking of 100 years, that’s the age of the barn, and — aside from a few spots — the roof is original as well. Hence the need for replacement. Viewed from a distance, the roof doesn’t look too tragic. But the leaks are beyond patching. It’s not like a colander with visible holes. Instead, imagine cupping water in your hand: eventually it seeps through your fingers. That’s our roof, dripping at the seams.

After a decade of patch jobs, we are committed to renovation. The big question is “when”?

Our roofer can start in mid-November, a time that taunts winter storms. Precipitation and frigid temps could push the project to Christmas or beyond.

And our contractor mentioned another speed bump. “You know about the wedding season, right?”

I knew that our roofer is Amish. I didn’t know that Amish weddings are held strictly from November to early December, after the harvest, but before winter sets in. (And typically, weddings are celebrated on Tuesdays and Thursdays… now that’s a bite from the work week…)

So, late-fall construction is fraught with what-ifs. The alternative: a springtime build.

In the spring, the project would take just a couple weeks, avoiding winter and matrimonial distractions.

But a five month delay gambles on a season’s worth of bad weather. Any significant rain or snow would be problematic. And this is a possible El Nino year.

So that’s the debate. Do we wager that El Nino’s a bust and wait until spring? Or do we bet on a belated winter and an uneventful wedding season?

We’ve got a few days to flip a coin.


See, it’s nice from afar…