Freaky Bicycle Guy

You can't have my bicycle!
You can't have my bicycle!

Greetings,

We like to think of the CowChows as a place of higher learning, and not just because it sits at the top of the hill. For example, I learned a valuable life lesson a little while ago. Actually, I re-learned it but like most good life lessons once is never enough.

You may recall that during this past Summer the neighborhood kids were torturing me daily by riding their four-wheelers up and down the road all day long; up and down, up and down, all day long. I’m not sure which was worse, the sound of the machine growling its way up the hill, the sound of it whining its way down the hill, or the two minutes in between when you couldn’t hear it but knew it was coming back. It was brutal because they took it in shifts and never let up. But, wanting to be a good neighbor and not do any permanent emotional damage to their young psyches, I smiled and waved and called them names they couldn’t hear.

Then one day, the little girl next door was out riding a bicycle. I told her how much I liked her bike and how pretty it was, and I praised her bike for being so wonderfully quiet. Over the next several weeks any time I saw her out riding her bike I was sure to tell her how nice it was and how much I liked it. It was working like a charm. Suddenly, the four-wheelers fell silent and all the neighborhood kids were riding bicycles. Peace came once again upon the CowChows, and it was great.

A little while ago I was out messing around in the yard and I looked up to see the little girl next door riding her bike. I waved and she waved back. I called out, “That sure is a nice bike you’ve got.”

She looked at me for a long moment, saying nothing. I was about to repeat my compliment when she suddenly screamed, “You can’t have my bicycle!” And, then she rode off as fast as she could go.

I realized that I had gone too far. I’d commented on her bike one too many times, and sometimes the difference between achieving the desired result and becoming the “freaky bicycle guy” is just knowing when to shut up.

Shortly thereafter, I began hearing growling and whining again. So far it’s just me, but I expect the four-wheelers to start up any time.

Best Regards,

Tim Couch

Celebrate the day but watch your step

wind-generatorsGreetings,

The CowChows is on the road this weekend for a long overdue visit with family. Time with family is like an ice cream cone; there’s never enough and it’s always gone too soon.

I stepped outside this morning to watch the day arrive, and as the darkness gave way to the light I beheld a strange sight. In the distance, on a northern ridge of the Wichita Mountains, a staggered row of wind generators stood overlooking the valley. They stood tall and straight, and spanned the horizon from east to west. As the dawn grew brighter and the morning breeze picked up their great wings began to slowly turn. It was as if they were sentinels heralding the birth of a new day.

I stood mesmerized as these giants slowly came to life in turn from east to west. I marveled at the modern technology placed here in the most ancient mountain range in North America. I wondered at the progress we made in the past century, and that which we will make in the next. And I was moved, also, to celebrate the birth of this new day.

I raised my arms to the rising sun and let its life-giving rays warm me. I listened to the music of the songbirds as they joined in the celebration. I closed my eyes and found a rhythm in their song, and I began to dance a welcoming dance to the day. I felt the morning dew splash up on my ankles, and I became childlike and exuberant as I joyfully skipped through the freshly mown grass.

I whirled and I twirled in the growing light of day. The sun smiled warmly at my offering; the wind generators seemed to applaud my performance, and the birds cheered me on. And then, I stepped in a pile of dog crap.

So, it’s going to be one of those days. I knew I should’ve stayed in bed.

Cordially yours,

Tim Couch

Simple Freedom

Greetings Brother,
Life is good here at the CowChows. The necessities of life are bountiful.
I was out back a while ago just rocking on the porch and watching the rain fall. There’s nothing more peaceful than a rainy afternoon in the Ozarks. While I was sitting there soaking up the peace the cattle that are pastured behind our place came down for a drink from the creek. They come by a couple of times a day and sometimes they stop to say hello. This time they did.
I watched them file into view along the fence line, and one after the other they stopped and turned my way. Ocassionally, one would dip her head to the ground and come up chewing a mouthful of fresh, wet grass. I wondered what it must be like to live your life inside a fence, not able to come and go as you please. I wondered what it must be like to know nothing of the world beyond the borders of iron posts and steel wire that enclose you. I wondered if they even realized they were captives. As I sat there wondering these things I felt sorry for these poor simple creatures and I hoped they didn’t know what it meant to be free, for then they would know what they were missing.
One of the heifers looked around furtively, and then stuck her head over the fence and looked directly at me. She craned her neck as if she were gesturing me toward her. At first I thought nothing of it, but she kept making this gesturing motion until my curiosity overcame my desire to stay dry. I descended the steps and began slogging my way across the wet grass toward the fence. I was drenched through before I had taken a dozen steps, and all the while she was nodding to me as if to say, “Come on.”
As I neared the fence, feeling more than a little silly, she again looked furtively up and down the fence line. I reached my hand toward her to let her sniff it, and then gently stroked her forehead. “What is it, girl?” I whispered, “What do you want?”
She looked me directly in the eye and whispered back, “If you ever want us to bust you out of your pen you just say the word.” And then, she winked.
"Just say the word"
"Just say the word"

Greetings,

Life is good here at the CowChows. The necessities of life are bountiful.

I was out back a while ago just rocking on the porch and watching the rain fall. There’s nothing more peaceful than a rainy afternoon in the Ozarks. While I was sitting there soaking up the peace the cattle that are pastured behind our place came down for a drink from the creek. They come by a couple of times a day and sometimes they stop to say hello. This time they did.

I watched them file into view along the fence line, and one after the other they stopped and turned my way. Ocassionally, one would dip her head to the ground and come up chewing a mouthful of fresh, wet grass. I wondered what it must be like to live your life inside a fence, not able to come and go as you please. I wondered what it must be like to know nothing of the world beyond the borders of iron posts and steel wire that enclose you. I wondered if they even realized they were captives. As I sat there wondering these things I felt sorry for these poor simple creatures and I hoped they didn’t know what it meant to be free, for then they would know what they were missing.

One of the heifers looked around furtively, and then stuck her head over the fence and looked directly at me. She craned her neck as if she were gesturing me toward her. At first I thought nothing of it, but she kept making this gesturing motion until my curiosity overcame my desire to stay dry. I descended the steps and began slogging my way across the wet grass toward the fence. I was drenched through before I had taken a dozen steps, and all the while she was nodding to me as if to say, “Come on.”

As I neared the fence, feeling more than a little silly, she again looked furtively up and down the fence line. I reached my hand toward her to let her sniff it, and then gently stroked her forehead. “What is it, girl?” I whispered, “What do you want?”

She looked me directly in the eye and whispered back, “If you ever want us to bust you out of your pen you just say the word.” And then, she winked.

Best Regards,

Tim Couch

A Butterfly Flaps Its Wings

Whatever
Whatever

Greetings,

I hope the recent storms have been kind to you. We’ve had some minor tree damage here at the CowChows but nothing serious. I was out back a while ago cleaning up some of the broken limbs when I felt a little tickle on my forearm. I looked down to see a beautiful yellow butterfly sitting there. I raised my arm to get a better look, and as I brought him close he looked up sheepishly and said, “Sorry about your trees.”

“Excuse me,” I said.

He blinked and said, “Just wanted to say sorry about your trees. I was in South America a while back and well, I flapped my wings.”

I shook my head but it didn’t help. “What does that mean,” I asked, “you flapped your wings?”

He shrugged his tiny shoulders and said, “I landed on this flower and when I saw all the nectar was gone I flew away in a huff, and I probably flapped my wings harder than I should have. When I got back here I heard about this storm and thought I should apologize. So again, sorry about your trees.”

Still struggling to understand I said, “So, you think that when you flapped your wings in South America you somehow caused the storm half way around the world that broke my trees?”

“Haven’t you heard?” he said. “It’s all connected. Every breath we take, every move we make causes ripples in the fabric of all that is. Every thought and every deed has its own cause and effect that impacts everything and everybody. It’s all connected, man.”

“But,” I said, “you can’t possibly believe that you’re somehow responsible for everything that happens because everything is connected, can you?”

“Whatever,” he said in disgust. “You are so out of it.” He flicked his proboscis at me and gave his lacy wings a mighty flap. I stood and watched him fly away and as he grew too small to see I heard far off behind me, the distant roll of thunder.

Cordially yours,

Tim Couch

Life Among the Tomato Vines

Life Among Tomatoes
Life Among Tomatoes

Greetings,

Life here at the CowChows is pretty laid back today. The sun is shining; the breeze is blowing; and all God’s children are at peace, at least for the moment.

Gardens are funny things. We’ve got a little plot out back where we planted a small garden just to grow some tomatoes and peppers and squash for the dinner table. We did our best to place it in just the right spot where it would benefit most from the rains and would get just the right amount of sunshine. We prepared the soil; we water it frequently; we’re careful to keep the weeds out and the insects under control. Occasionally, we give it a little boost of fertilizer when the leaves start to look pale. LadyBug even talks to the plants and tells them how proud she is when they bloom and set new fruit. Our little garden does pretty well, and while we haven’t had an overabundance we have had fresh produce on the table all summer.

But then, there’s this other tomato plant. It came up volunteer on the other side of the house. It’s right next to a concrete walkway in hard packed earth; it’s in shade most of the day, and has struggled all summer against creeping ivy and overshadowing shrubs. I haven’t so much as given it a drink of water, and except for pulling off a few tomato worms it has grown entirely on its own. The thing is, this tomato plant is laden with tomatoes that are bigger, more tender and richer in flavor than those we have so carefully cultivated.

So, why the difference? We gave our little garden everything it needed to grow and prosper, and it provided just enough to keep us fed. While the plant on the other side of the house has thrived against all odds and produces an abundance of delicious fruit.

Is the difference due to the struggle? Do we, perhaps, flourish most when our accomplishments require our greatest efforts? Or, do we prosper and flourish most when we allow nature to guide us into the proper circumstances which will enable us to grow?

Cordially yours,

Tim Couch

Tomato Snake Early Warning System

Dreaded Tomato Snake
Dreaded Tomato Snake

Greetings,

I hope you are enjoying these lazy, hazy days of summer.

You may recall that a couple of years ago we had a real problem here at the CowChows with tomato snakes. Basically, the tomato worms were growing to such an enormous size that they thought they were snakes. When you pulled one off the plant they would wriggle around and try to bite you. Some would even spit at you. They were scary. The whole ordeal was so traumatic that we didn’t even have tomatoes last year. I think they upset the entire CowChows eco-system.

Well, I’m proud to announce that this year we have a solution to this menace and are once again enjoying our very own delicious homegrown tomatoes. After years of research, upon which no expense was spared, I have devised the Tomato Snake Early Warning System. What, you may ask, is this ingenious solution? It’s simple really. I have learned to recognize their droppings.

What makes the tomato worm such a formidable foe is his camouflage. He is of the same color, shape and markings as the plant. When you get close to the plant he stops moving and virtually disappears. But, his poop is dark brown, in the shape of a tiny little barrel, and it stands out against the bright green of the plant leaf. So, all you have to do is search the plant for these tiny barrel shaped gifts and when you find one you know there is a tomato worm lurking somewhere below. Of course, you still have to find him but at least you’re not wasting time searching for something that may not be there.

The one danger with this system is that you incur the risk of your neighbors thinking you have gone mad. So please, if you’re out around the CowChows and you see a grizzled old man in a floppy hat bent over at the waist and staring at a plant, don’t call the Sheriff. He made off with half my crop the last time.

Cordially yours,

Tim Couch

Bruno the Hornet

Bruno the Hornet
Bruno the Hornet

Greetings,

We’ve had some lite excitement here at the CowChows today. I don’t know if you’re aware of this but there are “House Hornets” in the Ozarks. I thought hornets pretty much stuck to building their nests in the woods far away from meddlesome humans, but apparently they will also build under the eaves of your house. Fortunately, for them, one eave of the CowChows is about thirty feet up in the air.

I knew it was coming, this showdown with the hornets. I had noticed the nest about a month ago when it was the size of a golf ball, but I thought I’d wait and catch them early in the morning when they would be less active. Unfortunately, I don’t do early all that well and time slipped away and I forgot about them. I noticed the nest again this afternoon and it’s now as big as a good sized cantaloupe. My first instinct was to pretend I didn’t see them and hope they would do the same, but then my rational mind spoke up. It said, “Hey, it’s pretty cool today. They wouldn’t even see it coming. What are you waiting for?”

So, I drug out my big ladder and placed it against the house; I extended it notch by notch until it was high enough and close enough to do the job. They seemed surprisingly undisturbed so far but I waited a while to be sure they were calm. When my palms stopped sweating I figured they were probably calm enough so I went back outside and began to creep up the ladder.

At about five feet away I could hear the hum, like being too close to a high voltage power line. It wasn’t a high pitched alarmed hum, but more of a just going about our business hum. So, I kept creeping up. I stopped a couple of feet below the nest and all was well. I pulled my sprayer up to get into position and that’s when the ladder shifted.

It wasn’t much but apparently it sent a vibration through the nest that set off all kinds of alarm bells. In a matter of seconds the casual hum changed to the sound of a pissed off jet engine. I froze there on the ladder hoping they would calm down again, and I waited and I watched. It was then that Bruno the Hornet stuck his head out to see what was going on. He looked around and when he saw me I swear he smiled. I’m not sure but I think he turned back into the nest and put two of his little bug fingers into his mouth and whistled for all the other badass hornets to follow him. I’m not sure because I was half way down the ladder by then and headed for the house.

It’s not that I’m scared of a bunch of bugs. I’m not at all scared of them; it’s the stingers in their butts that bother me. Anyway, I’ve decided that as far as neighbors go we could do worse than a clan of hornets, and I’ve learned it’s often best to go with that first instinct.

Until next time, if you see Bruno I suggest you stay out of his way.

Cordially,

Tim Couch