Tuesday, February 7, 2017
The Farmer and I walked into the house the other night after having been away for the evening. The scent that greeted us as we walked through the door almost knocked us over. A thick, heady honeysuckle aroma hung in the air like fog. It was wafting down the stairs from the second floor office, on its own legs. It was coming from the tropical plant that I moved there about six months ago.
The dracaena is a very common tropical houseplant / tree that I picked up for about ten bucks nearly a decade ago, when I married the Farmer and decided to make some improvements to his bachelor pad. I have a bit of a green thumb, so the little houseplant now reaches the ceiling. It and my five foot hibiscus and three foot variegated palm tree were blocking all the light out of the sunroom after thriving outside all summer. That is why I separated the plants and moved the dracaena upstairs. Apparently the tropical corn plant appreciated the change of scenery, and decided to flower. For the first time ever.
It was the scent that first drew me to the den. It attracted the cats, too. Sheila was sitting under the plant, on a mini vacation, when I walked in and noticed the stalks of spiky little snowball blooms up near the ceiling. They were dripping a sticky sap, so I moved Sheila. I didn’t want it to get in her fur; it may be toxic.
The first few weeks of flowering were pleasant enough, but when the blooms started to decay, the aroma was quite pungent. I had to cut the stalks off the plant and throw them outside. I hope the tree will forgive me.
Change seems to be good for houseplants. It may be good for other creatures too. The cows, for example, could use a change in location for their feeding troughs. The winter has been so mild; their troughs are now perched precariously on hills of hay surrounded by moats of muck and manure. The two little heifer calves have chosen their favourite napping spots and, after an afternoon of chasing each other around the barnyard, they take a rest. One prefers to nap right in the muck, beside her mother. I don’t know if it’s like elephants and pigs – their hide just feels soothed and moisturized in that mudpack. In the summer the mud is cool and refreshing. I don’t imagine it’s all that comfortable in the winter, but they do have other options. The second calf likes to nap in the bed of hay that has formed between the two hay feeders. She whittles her way in there and fairly disappears from view.
Every afternoon I venture out just before dusk to count cows and see if we have any new ones to put in the barn. Every afternoon I have to move handfuls of hay to find the little one napping there. When the ground freezes and dries up a bit we will move the feeders (and by ‘we’ I mean the Farmer) to higher ground, out of the muck moat.
The coyotes seem to have returned to our property. They left for a time after we stopped raising sheep, but they have recently reappeared. The deer returned when the coyotes left, so maybe that is what is bringing them back. They are hoping to share a meal of venison. We can hear them at night, yip yipping in the back pasture. Their call reminds us to keep a close watch on our herd. We don’t want a calf to be born in the back field and set upon by a coyote before we can move it to safety. Most of our cows are smart enough to head for the barn when labour begins, but not all of them. We’ve never had a calf attacked by a coyote before, thank God, but we have had one freeze to death, because we didn’t know its mother was in labour. It’s a guessing game every year, because the big bovines are not really good at communicating.
This mild winter has been really good to us so far. You don’t realize how much you appreciate running water in the barn until the day it freezes. We will see what February has in store for us.
Posted by Diana Leeson Fisher at 11:30 AM