You CAN teach an old dog new tricks

Look out world, my almost 77 year old father has discovered the INTERNET.  I tried to interest him some time ago and maybe it wasn’t the right time or maybe I didn’t have enough patience to teach him.

Recently, I suggested he look into getting some lessons from a local library and this time he was all over it.  He got a library card and is so proud of that.  He goes monthly for lessons but since he is allowed to go as often as he likes, he goes for private instruction from a lady named Lois who has taught him about GOOGLE.  Apparently, each time he goes, he can sign on for an hour or maybe two.  Now he looks at OBITUARIES.  Sadly, this is an important place to look when you reach a certain age.  Heck, at 51. I have more than a handful of people that I graduated with who are gone. 

Dad likes to tell me about all the former teachers he had and friends from Ambridge and the US Navy who have passed away.  I keep telling him everybody dies dad so live each day, learn new things and keep your mind and body active. 

For the past 5 years or so that we reconnected in life (long story) he has made A LOT of improvements. He has cut out most processed foods and eats in a much more healthier manner.  He had kidney issues and we cut out exceedingly high and high oxalate foods and now his kidneys give him no issue.  He joined the Y and takes group exercise swim classes, joined the VFW for some comradeship and even had a girlfriend for a bit.  Things are definitely looking up for my dad. He lives in a little apartment across from our old house on Neville Island where I moved him.  There, he keeps tabs on the 3 single ladies who also live in his building.  They have formed a nice friendship and he is the designated driver of Rose to places she is afraid to drive and also takes her back and forth when her car is getting work done.  One of the ladies does his laundry for him.  He buys the soap and dryer sheets.  I can tell he is happy there which is good. 

To give him something more cheerful to explore and investigate than the obits, I showed him You Tube and I thought his head was going to explode when we found all The Ventures concert footage that is on there.  He discovered the Ventures in Japan when he was serving in the US Navy during The Vietnam War.  Dad LOVES surf sounds and loves to regale us with stories about his intense drumming in the old days and all things NAVY.  He still has rhythm that is for sure.  If you ever see him just mention WIPE OUT and he will smile a million dollar grin.

I asked him if he ever watched Laugh In and we checked out a few clips on YouTube.  I showed him how to do searches to find out literally anything he wondered about, ANYTHING. 

Then I wrote down my website address and he is to go to the library and see if he can find it and this blog.  We talked about how this new skill is going to open up his whole world and allow him to get an email account, BUY things online and really let his imagination go wild.  The internet is truly amazing.    

We looked at recipes and  talked about Facebook and how he can apply for his own rebates now for the Seresto collars he puts on his dog, Holly.    It will be fun to see him get excited about finding his favorite movies and TV shows from his childhood and seeing what else interests him.    Not that I want him sitting any more than he already does, but at least he will be hopefully learning something while he sits.  He promises to get up and walk around every 30 minutes or so. 

I will next mention online dating.  My dad is still very much interested in the fairer sex and perhaps he will venture into the world of  You never know!!!!!

We are going to buy him a laptop for his birthday next month and he is to get internet installed with his cable.  I think he is really going to enjoy life a lot more now that he can join the conversation going on around him.  We take for granted that we have unlimited knowledge literally in our hands.  I wish I wasn’t so dependent on my phone and all that it can do for me, but it IS IMPORTANT stuff, not just Instagram and FB that I look at all throughout the day and I probably couldn’t survive without it.

Welcome to the internet dad.  I hope it brings you great joy and a GIRLFRIEND.  You never know……

Sing it with me—I don’t like Spiders and snakes……..

My last blog about getting the first chickens had me thinking to the early days of learning how to take care of them and living in a really country environment.  Change is inevitable, growth is optional and I experienced a lot of changes with living WAY OUT HERE and I had to learn to grow to accept creatures of all varieties sharing my space.

I am not particularly a tough girl.  I mean, I am known to scream if I see a large spider or a snake.  I go deep into the woods to pick blackberries and years back my friend’s dad, Vic, who had a cool homestead said to me as I set out one day with my berry picking gear behind his property, “There is a snake here.  You may see him.” He was right.  On one of my treks to those berry bushes, I ran into that snake.  He was doing his thing and I was doing mine.  I was surprised as he was, I screamed, he raised his head to check me out and slithered away.  No biggie.  I had before and since ran across some snakes while hiking my dogs and picking berries. It happens!   Seeing a snake sunning himself on a log that you HAVE TO CROSS to continue on the trail is a bit scary and having dogs with me who could bark at and agitate the snake is always a little scary, but nothing has ever happened in 25 years of hiking dogs in the wild!  I am grateful. 

Early on at the farm as I was clearing more straw from the chicken house I uncovered a REALLY BIG black snake all coiled up sleeping in the straw.  I froze and my heart went CRAZY.  I backed up and exited immediately and reported to my husband. 

The next day he was sleeping in one of the laying boxes.  I was thinking he was stealing and eating the eggs.  I had heard that could be the case, but it didn’t seem like it.  He was just sleeping there amongst a few eggs.   So I gently closed the laying box and as the chickens will do when I am in their neighborhood, they all came out clucking.  As I gave them some chickie treats, I asked the girls if the snake was bothering them.  They said, “No, mom.  He just lives here too.”  So, I did nothing. 

Then a few days later, I was heading in to the “bee room” where I keep the bee and chicken supplies and all my holiday décor and probably 1000 canning jars.  This room is connected to the hen house and has the door access to the laying boxes.  It is a REALLY cool feature and I always enjoy lifting the lids and seeing where the girls are laying, door #1,2 3 or 4.  Well, as soon as I entered the area I got QUITE a surprise.  I saw what I believed was a TWELVE FOOT LONG BLACK SNAKE literally hanging all around the boxes and across the medicine cabinet.  The former owner had some things in there and I didn’t see any reason to remove it so it stands today and houses a knife and box cutter, dust masks that I use for cleaning the poop up and whatnot.  Anyway, I definitely screamed at the site of that and went RUNNING back to the house.  I told my husband and being an Eagle Scout and not afraid of anything, he went right out to take a look.  He came back a few minutes later and reported it wasn’t a twelve foot snake but TWO 6 foot black snakes MATING.  Oh my goodness!    He said let them finish their business and soon they would be gone.  He was right and soon after all sorts of baby snakes were hanging out around the henhouse. 

Since then though, I have rarely seen the snake family.  I think they have moved on.  I am too much working out there that it must disturb them.   I have unfortunately mowed over a few babies and always feel terrible about that. 

As I dig into the ground to plant herbs and flowers, thin out out bulbs and clear some land for planting, I find tons and tons of worms and the chickens know when momma gets her digging implements out, follow closely.  They can devour those worms like nobody’s business and as long as I have work gloves on, I happily pick those squirmy things up and toss them to the girls.  They actually eat so many bugs and worms (and an occasional mouse) that in summer, they don’t eat much regular chicken food.  They find their own protein sources.   It is so interesting.

We have pretty much eliminated the wasps and hornets that were living in the pole barn and attacking me and most of the animals like groundhogs and skunks stay FAR AWAY as Bandit and Bubba will tussle with them.  The raccoons continue to come at night and we continually set traps.  They like the chicken food too and we have lost chickens to them as well so we have to do what we have to do to keep the flock safe. 

We caught a possum last week and let her go of course.  She just marched on off towards the pond. 

The neighbor farm had a nice gaggle of grey geese who now reside on our pond and as summer is soon coming to a close, we expect the Canadian Geese convention to come soon. 

In late fall at dusk from all different directions for about a week, THOUSANDS of them converge on our 2 acre pond and make quite a racket.  They seem to have a set annual meeting and then head their way south.  It is quite extraordinary and we look forward to it every fall.  I wonder how the grey geese will enjoy all these trespassers this year? 

So, in addition to what I mentioned above, there are our bees of course, the bunnies who eat my strawberries and hop around the property and we hear coyotes at night but we have never actually seen any. The cats do a fair amount of hunting of small game and birds but mostly they just watch all this wildlife.  It is a paradise out here of nature.  I am eternally grateful to live amongst the animals and hope to have more fun tales to relay as the years go by. In the hopes to learn more about insects, I am currently reading this book. Fascinating!