Ohiofarmgirl's Adventures in The Good Land is largely a fish out of water tale about how I eventually found my footing on a small farm in an Amish town. We are a mostly organic, somewhat self sufficient, sustainable farm in Ohio. There's action and adventure and I'll always tell you the truth about farming.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

The End.

The scene: A short, somewhat unkempt woman in a dirty shirt and a bad ponytail walked out onto a stage. A single spotlight illuminated her in the darkness. She was holding in her arms a small gray and white cat with wide green eyes and little, white Mickey Mouse paws. She stopped center stage and the cat jumped down, sat himself down at her feet, and wrapped his tail around his paws. He looked up to the woman and nodded.

Thank you, Little Mo, and thank you all – friends – for coming. I know that yesterday's post was a shock and I wanted to tell you all what is going on.”

First, thank you all for your well wishes and kind words. We have received some very, very bad news and are reeling from what we found out and what is going to happen.”

I spent the whole day Friday at the OSU Veterinary Hospital with My Most Excellent Good Dog, Titan. It did not go well. Two extremely knowledgeable and kind doctors confirmed what my own vet told me the previous Monday. Ti has been diagnosed with the very worst kind of bone cancer, osteosarcoma. This is extremely aggressive and fast moving. They said by the time it presents like this it is already too late.”

There is no treatment and there is no cure. The only thing we can do is treat his pain until it becomes unmanageable. This will be Titan's end. The doctors there said that he has “a few weeks” until it becomes unmanageable. We reviewed all of the options and the hard truth is, there are no options but pain management.”

When you get a puppy, folks tell you that large dogs - especially some breeds - don't live very long....and you think, 'Well, ten years is a pretty long life.' But then the time passes very quickly and then before you know it you are told that your most beloved good dog will not live to see his eleventh birthday. It has been a terrible shock.”

For now Titan is OK. But I am not. He has the right meds so that is helpful but his decline has already been sharp and steep. He, of course, has no idea what is going on other than I am extremely upset, I keep giving him treats, and he can't play ball like we normally do. He is also sick of my hovering around and giving him worried looks. The rest of the pack is on edge so we are trying very hard to have a normal routine and have regular days.”

So why did I write that story if Ti is still with us? Because this is the final post of Adventures in the Good Land. My blog will end today.”

I think it's weird when people just stop blogging so I feel like I owe you all at least an explanation and a proper goodbye. With everything going on with Ti, I honestly cannot think about anything else right now.”

I also wanted Ti to be remembered as I see him, as a hero on our 'battlefield' - the both of us slaying foes and doing the best we can for the farm. I wanted him to be remembered in all his glory and valor. I wanted to have that picture of him to carry with me....and not as him dying in my arms as we lovingly send him to his final rest. I wanted you all to know him how I see him and I wanted you all to know that he is going on ahead of me. I wanted you to know how he changed me as a person and how much he changed my life.”

Even tho I spend so much time talking about the details of our days, in real life I am an intensely private person. Most of you will not even know when Ti passes. So I wanted to give him one last glorious tribute because I don't think I can do it after he is gone. So that is why I wrote the story now, while he is still at my feet.”

Yesterday was the first day that felt like fall here. It feels like the turning of the page and it feels like the right time to end my blog of our life here. I started this blog as our own record keeping... but then it turned into me teaching folks about farming. We have acquired a huge body of knowledge here and I'm glad that I could share it with you.”

In a million years I never thought anyone would read this or care about our life. But you did and I thank you most heartily for your friendship. I have loved to watch you all start projects, begin your farm, try new things...and best of all – to be able to cheer you on. My greatest satisfaction is watching you all be successful in your efforts. Thank you for letting me be part of that. I have enjoyed letting you all come along as we all figured this out together.”

But my grief for Ti is my own and is not for others to watch. I cannot talk about it or share his decline. The most respectful thing I can do for such a proud and noble dog is leave you with the memory of him being robust and full of life.”

Of course, there is more.”

Earlier in the year I felt like things were beginning to change. I didn't know what it was but I felt like we had to start preparing for changes. Big changes. It felt like how it was when I was getting ready to leave my old life. I recognized that feeling and so we have been preparing ourselves.. We've been trying to figure out what is going to happen next and getting ready for that next big thing.”

The next big thing is that we are moving. We are ending our time here at the farm, packing up some kind of Noah's Arc (not ark but arc as in “story line arc”) to transport our cats and dogs, and heading out for the Land Where They Don't Have Winter.”

Both my husband and I had that moment last winter when we just couldn't take the snow and the cold and the ice one more second. We realized that we are not tied here for any reason. We can go anywhere and do anything...and so we are.”

We started reaching out, started wondering, started trying to see if we could make it work... and miraculously all the points lined up. Quite unexpectedly, and entirely surprisingly.... it looks like it is all going to come together in a way that we could not have believed or planned. But it is all happening in the very best way.”

Nothing is set in stone right now but the momentum of the thing is picking up. Unexpected turning of events, a few “just so happened”, a couple of “right places and right times” are all weaving together a new story for us...and we are eager to get going.”

Are we giving up? Selling out? Quitting? Nope. We love our life. We just want to do it where we can enjoy the entire year and not be stuck inside cursing the snow and ice. We think that is entirely reasonable. You see, we are actually ten years into a five year plan. We thought that being here was going to be short term but we actually ended up being trapped here when the economy turned. But we adapted, pivoted, dug deep and made this work. Gladly.”

The best thing that happened during that time was that my husband got a CDL (commercial drivers license) and now we really can go anywhere and live where ever we want. He can also drive a huge greyhound style bus that has been converted into an RV-like dog and cat ark. So that is what we are doing. Why not? There are other adventures out there and we are going to find them.”

So why not continue the story? Document our journey and The Long Drive with an unnatural number of cats and dogs in a huge bus?”

Because my heart is broken and I cannot carry the burden of thinking about anything else except for my beloved Good Dog. I don't know if he will make the trip with us... in all likelihood he will not. While there is a poetic beauty to knowing that he will only ever know the farm and working with me outside and leading our pack... I simply cannot do this right now. The idea of writing about him after he is gone just breaks me. So that is why I wrote our final Adventure Tail .and that is why I am closing down the blog. ”

For those of you who like to be in touch, I will mostly be offline. I need to concentrate on shutting down this part of our life. But most importantly, I need to take care of my Good Dog. My people are not given to grand shows of emotion or public displays. We don't even cry in public. So privately, respectfully, I will tend to my most beloved, most faithful, most valiant companion. And when it is time, I will not fail him. I will continue to praise God for providing me with such a wonderful friend and thank Him for all the time that Ti and I have spent together.”

My Most Excellent Good Dog, Titan Wolfgang Maximus Big Bear. My Right Hand. The First in Command. The Other Half of My Sky. That day we randomly went to look at puppies... he picked me. He.picked.me. I have never been so thankful for anything in my life.”

Thank you all, friends, for your well wishes and prayers. Thank you for our time together.”

The single spotlight fades to black. 

The End. 

Editor's Note: Thank you, everyone, for your kind words. 


Tuesday, August 16, 2016

A Brave Warrior Falls. The End of the Adventure Tails.

You're slowing down, Ti! Are you feeling your age? Ha!” Yelled OFG over the din of battle.

I'm just getting warmed up, Sir, it is you who cannot keep up with me!” Col Ti answered.

The two war companions were fighting as they did in the old days, surrounded by foes, fighting back to back. The melee of battle around them. But neither felt more at home. Or more alive.

The evil rat fiends and the mouse menace had joined forces and called the fighters of the Good Land into open combat. OFG and Col Ti had answered with a merciless show of force. It would not be long and these rodents would know the true meaning of the word defeat.

The mud and the blood and the chaos that was hand to hand combat swirled around them. They were holding their ground. OFG's forces were making her proud. She could hear the horns cry out their commands, see the banners direct the ground troops to their next moves, and very soon this battle would be very handily sorted out.

Out of the corner of her eye she saw her fighters advance. It was all going perfectly according to plan. Overhead she heard hundreds of arrows from her archers fly overhead. That would drive those stupid mice back. They could advance now.

At sides!” She cried to Col Ti and as one they both took opposite steps and now were fighting side by side. They fought mightily.

We'll be home for dinner soon.....” She said.

Just as soon as I finish off a new more of these damnable creatures! Then you can count my kills and see I've bested you once again!” Col Ti roared a laugh that struck terror into the hearts of enemy.

OFG turned to answer the jibe with her own when she saw it. It seemed impossibly slow. There he was, her most trusted, most able battlemate, her First in Command, her Right Hand. Col Ti was robust and full of life, his massive figure against the backdrop of the day's warring when it struck.

The arrow.

She tried but could not break it's path. She could not pull him to safety. It was insidious. Wrathful. It struck true. She watched in horror as it pierced Col Ti and struck him down. She felt it as surely as it had ran through her own heart.

NO!” She roared. “No! Ti! No!”

OFG had seen death. She had seen those she loved be taken. She knew that an old warrior like Col Ti would not live forever. But she did not think it would be here. She did not think it would be this day.

He was on the ground. Mortally wounded. She was there with him. The battle continued to rage around them as if her world had not just ended.

Get up. Get up, Ti, get up. No, no, no...”

He was calm. He looked at his wound. He knew. “No.” He said. “I am struck down.”

She was crying hot tears now, refusing to believe what she was seeing. “Get up! Get up, Ti. Get on your feet, soldier!” She ordered trying to pull him to his feet.

The wound was beyond repair. They both knew it.

No, stop it now.” Col Ti said to her, almost gently. “Don't do this. Do not deny me a glorious death in battle. Today is a good day to die. We will be victorious and you will sing song of this day and tell stories on how this day was won! Tell them of how I fought by your side today and all of these long years.”

He reached up and brushed away her tears. She held his big hand to her face, she kissed it, she was still shaking her head. “Don't go, Ti, I need you.”

But his eyes were past seeing her now. He was looking just beyond her. “Do you hear it? My ancestors call to me!” A wolfish grin past over his lips. “Do you hear the songs? I... I... have only heard that language in my dreams! Such proud songs being sung! Such bold warriors! And oh, the feast! Do you smell the roasts on the spits! Have you ever seen so much bloodwine!”

He reached out weakly as if he was pushing open a large door.

There! Look there! There are the brothers of my youth! I have not seen them since I left my own mother's door. Such brave warriors – look at them. Do you see them? Such a great company!”

OFG was crying hard tears. “Please, Ti, don't...How can I do this without you? My most beloved companion. Please... please...”

In a final moment of clarity he looked at her. He saw her and said firmly, “It is your only command that I cannot obey. I cannot stay. You must let me go to the halls of my ancestors. This body is ruined. Be glad that I lived such a good life with you. Be glad I will not grow old and feeble, unable to walk, or work, or be of any use. Look at me. I am strong and clear … I do not want to die an old feeble man muttering into my porridge. Death comes for us all and I will meet it head on. It is my time.”

He continued, “Do not be afraid, my master, The Shining Light of the Realm will show you the way. And what harm can befall you if you stand under the Shadow of the Black Death? Kai and Zander will help you now. They will be your companions. Let them guard you well. But you must let me go. ”

Acceptance gradually washed across OFG's face, through her tears. She struggled to find the words to tell him how grateful she was for every day they were together. To tell him how proud she was of him. To thank him for all their long years together. To say everything she ever wanted him to know... but he already knew these things. There was no need for grand gestures now in these last few moments. All the love she had for him had been given freely – on each of their days together. He knew.

If you wish, I will wait for you outside the doors of The Great Feast, my master, I will wait until you join me. When I hear of your coming I will gather the others and hail you home. I will cry out to you – my war cry will be loud and long and you will know it is me. We will all run to greet you and usher you home. I will do this. It may be long years for you but it will be just a moment for me. I've waited all these years to go home to my ancestors... I can wait .. just... a few...”

And then he was gone.

Across the battlefield The Dread Commander Zander, The Black Death, saw Col Ti fall. He saw his mother throw herself down to him, to hold his hand, to look into his eyes, and now she was burying her face in his chest.

To your liege!” He cried and rallied his men, barking orders, and urging them to OFG. The men spread out around her.

From up on the hill The Princess Kai heard the urgent horns she turned to see her mother's standard bearers run up the black flag. She knew what that meant.

Fighters! On me – and try to keep up you slackards! Fight you fools, fight like your very lives depend on it. Now run!” Kai's fighting forces cut through the enemy like a scythe. Kai raced dangerously ahead of her men but she was relentless. The sunlight caught her flaming battle tiara and she was The Shining Light of the Realm. 

The Princess Kai ran with such force that when she reached the fallen Col Ti she skidded to a stop. The warrior Princess crouched low in front of her mother, guarding her and the fallen hero. Kai took the brunt of the blows and her men killed the enemy without mercy.

There in the midst of battle Zander stood over them, fighting their foes. Zander's mighty shadow covered OFG slumped over the dead body of Col Ti.

Time passed.

A small figure hurried through the darkness of the forest. A pale moon barely lit the path but she went as fast as she could, completely aware that she was being followed. Little Mo was absolutely the worst tracker in the history of the Good Land. She hoped he would give up but she had to admit he was determined to keep up with her.

Finally she stopped. “Come out, Little Mo, I know you are there.”

She turned and waited for him to come out from behind the tree. He peeped around the trunk, his wide eyes reflecting in the moonlight. “You need to go back, Little Mo.”

He stepped up to her determinedly. “Sir, I am going with you.” He had a small pack and was wearing his traveling clothes. He looked at her, pleading. “Please, Sir. You need me.”

She was dressed as a traveler also and not as their leader. She didn't even carry her axe...but Little Mo had it in his pack for her.

OFG sighed heavily and swept the hood from the nondescript cloak off her head. Little Mo could see the silver in her once dark hair. For perhaps the first time he noted the lines on her face. She never did recover from the death of Col Ti. He had won a glorious death in battle but it was she who carried a wounded heart that would not heal.

You cannot come with me, Little Mo.” She said firmly. She held up her hands to stay his protests. “The Good Land needs to you stay. Zander needs you to stay and help him. Together with Bitty they need to rule the Good Land and you need to help them. Do this for me, Little Mo. Please.”

From in the darkness a horse nickered and stepped. Little Mo looked up to see the big man seated on the enormous black horse with no name.

OFG gestured to the big man. “You know that I cannot be married to both the Good Land and also to my mate. It is time, Little Mo. Do you know the best thing about getting older? It is that you know when it is time for the younger ones to take over. This is Zander's time. Bitty came to us at just the right time. Kai has gone off to establish her own Lands. This is the turning of the page. Zander and Bitty can do this but they need your guidance. Please, Little Mo, for me.”

She drew Little Mo to her and kissed him on the top of his head. “Go on now, go home. I have other adventures to find. And your place is here.”

Little Mo blinked back tears and nodded. He watched as the big man pulled OFG up onto the horse behind him. She looked back once at him, then turned, and they rode away into the darkness. Begrudgingly Little Mo turned back to walk home. The moonlight seemed paler and the night seemed colder. It was a long walk back alone.

Little Mo silently crossed the Great Hall. The Commander Zander would not want him as an adviser. Surely he would chose one of his own men. Little Mo arrived in the Good Land alone, and he would depart as such. He wondered what would become of him.

A figured stirred and Little Mo started. “Oh.. I'm... Commander, I am so sorry. I didn't mean to disturb you.”

Zander was sitting in OFG's chair on the dais... his elbows on his knees. It was dark except of the soft light thrown by the braziers. He looked sullen.

So she is gone then?” Asked Zander. Little Mo only nodded.

I was just getting my things. I will pack them up and go....” Said Little Mo.

Go? Go where” Zander seemed concerned.

I just thought that you would find someone else. I ...” Stammered Little Mo.

Someone else? No.” Zander shook his head. “I don't know the first thing about administrations, Little Mo. I'm a soldier. I...” He spread his arms, “I don't even know what we should do tomorrow. I...”

Well, I happen to have a list here, Commander...” Little Mo pulled a scroll out of his sleeve. “I have the schedule here and the duty roster and...”

See? This is why I need you.” Zander smiled appreciatively. “Please stay on, Little Mo. I really want you to stay. She trusted you and so do I. Come, let us talk like men.”

Little Mo bowed low. “Of course, Commander. One thing I think we should consider, now that she has gone, we should shore up our alliances. Surely someone will try and test your resolve. I recommend we immediately send word to have a Counsel.”

Agreed. I should meet with Bourbon of the Red, the old bastard. My mother regarded him as her own brother. But I never cared for him. Do you know that he once chucked my chin when I was a pup?”

Little Mo looked surprised, “You don't say.”

It's true. I showed him my teeth, yes, I did. He is still probably terrified.” Zander and Little Mo laughed a little.

Where do you think she's gone, Little Mo? My mother..” Zander looked a little worried.

Little Mo crossed his arms and thought. “Well, she cannot go to see her own brother, Henri the Bold, in the Land of the Ocean's Tide.. you know well of 'The Troubles”... so not there. But there are rumors she has a sister in the Land of Ever Summer. She is said to be fair haired and the Mother of Many. Apparently she leads a band of warrior maidens.”

A sister?” Exclaimed Zander, “By the heavens can you imagine two of them?” He shook his head chuckling.

Zander and Little Mo glanced at each other, grinning. Then the slightest look of pain crossed their faces. The both nodded to each other knowingly. Then Little Mo and Commander Zander got up and started to make their way across the dimly lit Great Hall.

Onward, then?” Asked Zander.

And upward.” Said Little Mo.

The scene faded to black, then opened again. This time outside a small house in the rural Ohio countryside. Two people were busily loading the last of the boxes and tools onto a huge, black, Greyhound style bus. The big man got in the driver' seat and started the engine – the bus roared to life.

We are ready for action!” He said to her. “Almost done?”

I dunno, I feel like we are missing someone. Let's do a tail check... one, two....” She started counting an unusually large number of cats in cages line up along the walls of the bus. She got distracted and looked up. “Hey honey, does this big ol' bus have a name?”

Nope.” He said. “And it's not going to have one either. Do you know why?”

She went back to counting cat butts, “Huh?”

So we can say that..... we've been thru the desert on a bus with no name...” He started singing, “It felt good to be out of the rain...In the desert you can remember your name...”

That is the stupidest joke ever.” She said. “You aren't funny at all, you know. I'm the funny one. .... Ohmigosh!”

She suddenly ran into the house and came about out carrying a huge gray cat in a too-small carrier who was loudly protesting. “We almost forgot Nicholas!”

Don't forget the Nicholas, baby!” He laughed.

Nicholas yowled his discontent. But now they were all loaded. The bus had all the seats taken out of it and was converted into a kind of Noah's Ark. It was filled with dogs and cats all securely in the places for The Long Drive.

So,” Said the woman, “We are just gonna drive away from our life here. Just take all our people and go?”

Yep.” He said. “We are pointed in the direction of adventure.” He looked at her, “You OK, baby?” He said putting his hand on her arm.

I'm just thinking of everything that happened. We had a lot of good times here in this good land... and we got a lot of good friends here.” She said gesturing to the bus full of cats and dogs. “I guess we are leaving some behind too.” A tear welled in her eye.

My old lady cats, your good ol' girl Shady, Grumpy old Teddi...and...” She stopped herself and tried to refocus. “I just...Wow. We've lived a whole life here.” She wiped the tear away and made herself smile. “But it's time to go and do something different.”

So.. onward then?” He asked.

And upward.” She said.

For the last time she walked out to the gate, opened it, let the the huge bus roll passed, closed the gate, and then hung up a sign.

She hurried to the door of the bus and climbed in and exclaimed, “Ohmigosh, who has the toots?!? Is it dogs? Do dogs have toots? Oh boy.. this is going to be a long drive. Are we there yet?”

Ha ha.” Said the man and he checked his mirrors one more time.

The bus pulled out of the drive and headed in the direction of adventure. Dogs barked, cats screamed, and the two people laughed.

Back on the gate a sign read, “The End.”

And that, friends, is The End of the Adventure Tails. 

Editor's note:  Friends, as you know there is always some truth in our Adventure Tails - we call them "Not Entirely Fiction" for a reason. We here have received some devastating news. I'll provide the "what really happened" tomorrow. I know that there are a lot of questions and they will be answered. Until then, thank you for your loving support. 


Sunday, August 14, 2016

Bitty Finds Her Place in the Good Land. Part Two.

Did you look in Commander Zander's quarters?” OFG asked as she was standing, leaning over her desk.

Yes, of course, Sir.” Said Little Mo.

Did you look under his bed?” She asked more fervently.

Yes, of course, Sir.”

OFG harrumphed and began pacing. “For heaven's sakes, how hard could it be to find her! Have you gotten an update from the scouts?”

Not since the last time you asked... which was exactly five minutes ago.” Little Mo looked at her, unblinking. He was seated at his stool just in front of his liege's desk. He was reviewing reports and getting his lists ready for the next day... and trying not to be frustrated by OFG's frustration.

Just then Kai burst into the room, OFG's Inner Chamber. “So, what's this now? She is missing again?” Kai had a bit of cheeky tone and was smiling much too widely to be actually concerned. “Did you check Zander's quarters?”

Yes.” Said OFG and Little Mo together. OFG harrumphed again and started pacing. Again.

She'll be back. Bitty is probably just playing with her potato somewhere. She always comes back.” Kai threw herself down in one of the chairs and picked up a mug of strong broth. She gulped it down, wiped off her mouth, and said, “She always comes back.”

Another report was handed to Little Mo and then the page hurried out of the room.

Nothing yet, Sir.”

The small room had more people in it than normal... OFG, the Princess Kai, Little Mo, some pages, runners, some of OFG's personal guard.... and then Col Ti stalked in. He looked annoyed and shot OFG a glance. She looked surprised, smiled, and then said, “Really? When?”

The corners around Col Ti's mouth tightened and OFG laughed.

So soon?” She asked out loud. Col Ti, shot her another angry look, then stalked to take up his position near her. He always watched over OFG regardless of who was actually on guard. He stood silently. Watching.

The secret language between OFG and Col Ti had vexed Little Mo since the first day of his duties at OFG's side. How on earth did she expect him to know what was going on if the ruler of the Good Land and her First In Command spoke is silence and glances? Only heaven knew what this surprise was going to be. Little Mo stared hard to Col Ti. Nothing. No discernible means of communication whatsoever.

Kai, sweetheart, I have a surprise for you.”

Kai brightened and turned toward her mother, “What?”

You'll see... soon.” OFG said still smiling.

The door to OFG's sleeping quarters which adjoined her Inner Chamber, creaked open slowly and a very groggy Bitty stumbled out rubbing her wide eyes and shuffling her little feet.

What's going on?” She asked with a big stretch.

All eyes turned to Bitty in shock...and then an eruption of questions and scoldings. Kai started laughing.

Bitty! Where have you been? I have riders out looking for you!” OFG was mad. But not too mad, Bitty was kind of cute ...shuffling along in her stretch.... she was a funny little thing. But naughty for hiding again.

Kai raised her eyebrows and muttered, “I told you.....” Kai casually threw one leg over the arm of her chair and started swinging it in mock annoyance.

For heaven's sakes! Call back the riders, Little Mo, and tell the men to stand down.” Ordered OFG.

Bitty! Have you been sleeping under my bed? Do you have one of your little piles of hidden food there? Is that why I have been dreaming of chicken?” OFG scolded. Now she was mad. They had yet to break Bitty of her bad habit of hiding food away. And hiding. “What have I told you about.....”

OFG turned her attention... A big man walked thru the door.

Father!” Cried Kai and she raced across the room and threw herself into his arms. OFG smiled as she watched her Princess daughter, one of the most deadly fighters in the Lands hop around and squeal in excitement at seeing her father. Kai was chattering to him, and hugging him, and giving kisses on his cheek.

It was clear he had been traveling a great distance. Little Mo hurried toward the man to take his pack, to ask if he needed anything? Little Mo shoo'd away a page to bring strong ale and a platter of food. Satisfied Little Mo returned to his place to record the return of the big man. He took out a scroll and pen. The room was swirling with excitement. In the midst of it Little Mo caught sight of Bitty.

Bitty was standing alone, unnoticed, her wide eyes were huge and her face in shock. She was mouthing something but no words came out. Tears brimmed in her eyes... “Pa...... Pa....” Little Mo could hear the faint words and his jaw dropped in amazement.

Papa....” Bitty said in barely a whisper.... “Papa...”

Little Mo dropped his pen and scrolls. Eyes turned to see what he was looking at.... conversation stopped.

The smallest voice was finally heard by all, “Papa?” Bitty reached her arms toward the big man like a child.

Kai turned to see what everyone was looking at and heard Bitty call the man, “Papa.”

No!” Snarled Kai, “This is not your father! This is my father! He is MY father!”

The big man was transfixed by Bitty standing there, her arms toward him, big tears rolling down her face. He shrugged off his cloak and started to walk past Kai...

NO!” Screamed Kai savagely and she rounded as if she was protecting her father. “No! This is my father! Stay away from him! Bitty, you minx! Liar! This is my father! I should kill you for your lies!”

But the big man kept walking toward Bitty.

The shock in the room that was a stunned silence now turned to alarm. What if Kai killed Bitty in a rage? Col Ti was the first to spring to action. He hurried across the room and caught Kai in his arms, held her tight to his chest, and hustled her out the door.

Lock the door behind me!” Col Ti ordered one of the men at arms. Others had joined Col Ti in trying to subdue the Princess Kai but she was as an enraged wild animal screaming in fury and threatening death.

The door slammed shut.


Papa.” Bitty was crying. The big man was standing over her now and looking down at her with gentle eyes. He reached down and picked her up and laid her on his shoulder. “Papa..... I.... I thought you were a dream.”

Bitty heaved big sobs, exhausting herself with emotion. The big man came back. Her Papa finally came back. After all these years, all this time, she thought she made up the memory of a big man leaving her there in the middens so long ago. The last thing he said was that she would be safe there and that he would come back. She stopped believing it a long time ago. 

And now she was here in her new life, surrounded by friends who loved her...and her own Papa had come back for her. Here in the Good Land. She had everything she ever wanted. 

The big man put an enormous hand on her head to comfort Bitty. “Child.” He said, claiming her as his own.

Bitty hung on his shoulder like a small doll, sobbing softly, and saying over and over... “Papa... Papa...”

Little Mo realized his mouth was still hanging open. He was trying to piece it together but...but.. the line of succession! It had to hold. Zander was the chosen one. He was the appointed one who would rule the Good Land next.. unless this was some kind of power grab? But why? Who would try and overthrow OFG?

His liege. Little Mo blanched and then swallowed hard. That man, that big man was her mate but OFG was not Bitty's mother. That man then... he..... Then it occurred to Little Mo that in all the time Bitty was here... the big man had not been around. This was the first time he saw them together in the same room. And now he was Bitty's father? It was all too much.

Oh no.” Thought Little Mo.

How is OFG going to react? Would she strike at that man? Cast him out? Try and kill him for this obvious betrayal? Or would he try and take the throne for himself? Would that big man try and establish a new line with Bitty as the next ruler? Would....

Little Mo glanced around nervously. Col Ti had left the room. What if the big man tried to kill OFG? What if there was blood to be spilled? She was unprotected.

Little Mo put his hand on his dagger and resolved to himself, “Then I will fight for her. I will fight for my liege and I will die for her.” He nodded to himself.

Little Mo never liked the big man. He was too tall, too dark, and too brooding. In truth Little Mo was afraid of the big man. But if that man were to try and kill his liege then Little Mo would find the courage and he would fight and die for her. He held his breath and waited to see what was going to happen next.

So,” Said OFG quietly. She started to cross the room toward them. Her boots on the hard stone floor was the only sound. The big man was still holding Bitty on his shoulder, patting her gently.

Your own child, right here, right under my nose this whole time?” OFG chuckled.... “I should have known. I just knew there was something about her. She is a pip that is for sure. I should have known...”

OFG had reached the big man and he had stretched out his arm and pulled her close. The three of them stood together. OFG put her head on his chest and a hand on Bitty lovingly.

This little Bitty. I should have known.....” Said OFG chuckling to herself.

Nothing else in life could have shocked Little Mo any more than this turn of events. He stood agog, his hand still on his dagger watching the scene with absolute shock. His mouth was still open. His liege was not going to kill the big man. There would be no death. He shook his head a little trying to make sense of all of it.

There was a ruckus in the hallway and a loud and familiar voice was yelling, “Kai! Kai! What are you doing? No - settle down. What is going on? Ouch! Kai! What is the matter with you? What do you mean you are leaving!?!”

Commander Zander ordered the men guarding the room aside, “Open this door right now or I shall kick it down and the rest of you with it!” The door was unbolted hurriedly and Zander angrily slammed the door open, came into the room, and stopped short.

His mother, the big man, and Bitty were all standing in the middle of the room. Hugging. Bitty was crying.

Bitty? Mother? What on earth is going on?”

Editor's note: You can read more about how Bitty finds her place in the Good Land in Part One here....and the rest of our Adventure Tails here.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Bitty Finds Her Place in The Good Land. Part One.

The frozen ground crunched beneath OFG's feet as she paced the courtyard. The accursed winter had lasted longer than anyone expected. A false spring had teased but now the wind whipped and the cold settled across The Good Land.

The sun had set not long ago and purple streaked the skies. She shouldn't worry but she did. The Princess Kai was one of the finest fighters that the Lands had ever seen but it was a mother's prerogative to worry about her young. And so OFG paced and waited for her daughter to return. Kai could be reckless. Impulsive. The Princess left with her men at arms early in the day and still had not returned.

In the coming darkness a small figure hurried across the way, catching OFG's eye.

Bitty! Is that you? What have you there?” Called OFG. The small figure stopped, clutched something to her chest, paused, and then begrudgingly turned toward OFG.

Nothing.” Said an unconvincing voice.

Bitty, come here right now and show me your hands.” Said OFG. At least Bitty was wrapped in one of her new cloaks and was wearing good boots. It was a struggle to keep their wild little one appropriately clothed and shod. Bitty was not used to living with people even after these many months.

Let me see.” Said OFG. Bitty pulled her hands from under her cloak and some chicken bones clattered to the ground. “Bitty... have you been scavenging again in the trash piles?”

Bitty hurried to answer, “No...but... yes... I mean... look! There is still some good meat on these and we shouldn't be wasteful and we might be able to....” Her voice trailed off under OFG's disapproving glare.

What does the Old Wisdom say about leaving generously for the gleaners, Bitty?” Asked OFG trying to temper her annoyance. Bitty had not stopped her habit of stealing away food and hiding it. They found unclean and ruined little piles of her scrap stores all over. It was getting to be a problem.

Bitty harrumphed and gave in. “That we should leave extra for the unfortunate and....” She honestly could not remember the rest.

And those who cannot ask for our help.” Finished OFG. “Bitty, we are about to have Evening Meal – there will be plenty of food and you do not need to take from those who need to glean. Do not be selfish, Bitty.”

When Bitty lived on the middens it never occurred to her that someone with so much wealth would leave generous scraps for someone like her. She drew her eyebrows together thinking about it. Could it be true that someone cared for her then? Someone who didn't even know her? She was used to only looking out for herself. She did not think it was selfish but rather just survival.

OFG watched Bitty try and piece it all together. “Now off with you, Bitty, go and sit at my table. Tell Lucky HouseMaster that I said to bring you an extra portion and then you can think about how you want to use it. You can squirrel it away to be wasted or you can take the best portions and leave the rest for someone else. Now off with you or I shall box your ears.”

Bitty scampered away. She didn't really think that OFG would box her ears.... but she didn't want to take any chances.

Sir!” Called the century from the watchtower. “They are coming!”

At last.” Muttered OFG under her breath. As she turned toward the Great Hall she hear Kai's laughter on the wind. It wouldn't do for Kai's men to see OFG out there like an old mother hen, fussing over her daughter's return. By the time OFG reached for the door she could clearly hear their merry banter.

No!” Protested Kai in an easy tone, “I will! I will honor the wager! You won...you did!” Her men scoffed and joked and then Kai laughed and said, “I will! I will serve you as much bloodwine as I can carry!” More laughter.

We can drink a lot of wine!” Said someone.

Then I shall serve you a lot of it!” Laughed Kai.

A clattering of hooves and feet filled courtyard as the tired band of warriors made ready for the night.

OFG was already seated at her table on the dais, with Bitty seated at her left, when Kai and her men entered the hall. Kai had removed her armor, tiara, and weapons and was in just a light shift. Her face was dirty but she was laughing. She was trailing behind her men and being far too over dramatic when she gestured and called to the barman for “The largest tray, filled with the largest cups of bloodwine!”

One of her men, clearly enjoying the jest, called to her, “This way, Wench! When the tray is full, of course!” The company burst into ruckus laughter. Kai half curtsied to them, shouldered the enormous tray, and followed along calling out, “As you wish, Commander!”

All the fighters in The Good Land loved the Princess Kai – especially those in her own ranks. She was brave, fearless, and never asked anyone to do anything she herself would not. The men adored her...and more than that they all respected her. She could best any man in The Great Hall, save her brother of course, and she was utterly devastating in battle. She was fair in her judgment and true to her word. If she had wagered her men and this was her penalty then she would fulfill that obligation gladly... and they would love her more for it.

There happened to be a pair of travelers that night in the Great Hall. From time to time men like them would come to pay their respects to OFG and offer their services as guides, huntsmen, or fighters. OFG kept some of them on but mostly these drifters were just that. They lacked the iron strong discipline of her fighting forces.... and besides who could trust a man who fought for money? They were just passing by. These travelers could exchange work for provisions or trade for goods. All were welcome as long as they kept the law and traditions of The Good Land.

This man, a rogue of no good character, sat at the end of one of the many long tables in the Great Hall. All around were the soldiers and fighters sworn to OFG. The rogue sat muttering and complaining to his companion about the wealth of this liege of theirs... that woman who commanded them all. His companion, a small thin man of no note, just nodded and stared into his cup. They had been there for some time. Drinking. And muttering.

Now there's a lass.” Said the companion jerking his sharp chin over the rogue shoulder. “Aye...she's a pretty one.”

Behind them Kai's men at arms continued to joke and jibe at the Princess-turned-serving-wench, “Keep up now, Wench! That tray isn't too heavy for you now, is it?” Laughed the leader of them. He was young and handsome. His coat was a dark silver-pewter. His name was Augustus. “And don't spill anything!” The soldiers laughed again.

In truth, the tray of drink was heavy but Kai shouldered it well. They had won the wager and she was a good sport. She walked behind them and good-naturedly took their jibes, laughing them off and playing along. All of them would die in her service and she knew it. This little fiction, her serving them, had been won in the field. She drove her men with determination so it was nothing for her to play along. They deserved it.

From her dais OFG watched the Princess Kai with interest. Kai was always doing something outlandish so this was nothing new. A game perhaps. Normally any of the warriors would be honored to bring her a cup or serve her food. This turn about of roles thrilled the men.

The Princess Kai's build was very powerful. On the battlefield she could be mistaken for a man. But she was quite feminine when she was relaxed as she was now. With her shining eyes and mirthful grin here in the Great Hall she lit up the room. She was the Shining Light of the Realm. Even with her dirty face and without the symbols of her status Kai was quite regal. She was beautiful.

Kai naturally rolled her hips when she walked. Some found it.... alluring but none would cast a wayward glace least Kai's grin turned to snarl and hell befell anyone who thought to put his hands on her. It was known. Except to this rogue.

No one will know if it was the drink or the jealousy of the treasures of the Good Land that caused the rogue to make such a dreadful mistake. But as the Princess Kai walked passed his table he reached out... and grabbed her bottom.

Kai's yelp of surprise filled the Great Hall.

Immediately a deafening silence filled the air. Then the scraping of benches and chairs being pushed back and those who were close scrambled to get out of the way. Some serving ducks raced to take the tray from the Princess. It required four serving ducks to carry and even then they struggled. Fear encouraged them to make haste.

Colonel Ti,” Said OFG, flatly, from her seat on the dais, “Please take Bitty to get a closer look.”

Sir.” Her First In Command nodded.

OFG then turned to Bitty, “You will see how Kai handles her honor.”

Bitty got up and followed obediently but muttered, “I don't see what is the big deal, he just patted her on the bottom....”

Col Ti heard all things and so he turned to her and replied sharply, “That man's lack of respect brings dishonor, Bitty. If you want to be taken seriously then you need to BE someone who is taken seriously. She cannot let this go unanswered. What are you if you do not stand up for yourself? Do you think anyone would pat my bottom?” He glowered down at her.

Bitty tried not to shrink back and just shook her head.

No one would ever want to pat his bottom.” She thought.

And further,” Col Ti continued, “It is not wise to manhandle the Princess Kai as some have found out. But more importantly we do not allow such indignities in The Good Land. All are safe here. Even the least among all of them.” He said pointing to the crowd.

Do you think that someone who cannot fight or who has a lower station should be treated so poorly - without respect? Who are we if we allow others to be mistreated? Discipline. Courage. Respect. These are the values of The Good Land and we defend these.” He stared hard at Bitty and then walked on.

Bitty hurried to keep up. She never really liked Col Ti. He was as hard as the angles in his face, gruff, and only ever seemed to like OFG. He also scolded her and made declarations like, “Be on time for morning maneuvers, Bitty.” Or, “Stop fussing and stand at attention, Bitty.” And of course, “Stop playing with that potato, Bitty.” He was much to coarse for her. She wished Zander was there but he was away on patrols.

Not only did Zander never scold her – The Commander Zander always laughed at her jokes, loved to watch her dance, and always let her ride on his shoulder. As it was Bitty had to run to keep up with Col Ti's swift steps.

Col Ti abruptly stopped and cleared his throat. Immediately those in front of him cleared a path to the scene. He took up a wide stance and crossed his arms over his massive chest. Bitty scowled.

Col Ti? I.... I can't see.” Said Bitty. If Zander were here he would put her on his shoulder but Bitty doubted Col Ti would do that. Instead Col Ti reached down, picked her up, and placed her on the nearest table. She could see now. Not that it mattered. The Princess was just standing there. The man and his companion were looking around trying to gauge what was happening.

Suddenly Princess Kai turned to him, a laughing grin and a glint her her eye. She stood, coyly, on one hip and blinked at the rogue.

What is she doing?” Asked Bitty.

Playing with her food.” Replied Col Ti without looking at her. Bitty shivered.

The man looked around nervously. “What's this?” He said, “What is this?”

The serving ducks had all but disappeared and the nearby fighting men had backed away. The rogue noticed that some, who all seemed to be wearing the same insignia, had formed a perimeter. One though, a younger fighter, in a silver coat was standing nearby.

The young fighter had unsheathed his sword and was holding it loosely in his hand. He then spun it by it's tip on the floor, chuckling, and grinning as if he knew some secret joke. The sound filled the hall, metal on stone.

You there!” Said the rogue angrily, “You! Tell me the meaning of this! What is so funny?”

At that Augustus threw back his head and laughed out loud. The Princess Kai continued to stand, grinning at the man. Intentionally she slowly shifted her weight to her other hip and then narrowed her eyes at him. The man started to panic now and looked around for help. He was getting none.

What? What! What... is this wench something to you? Is she under your protection?” Demanded the rogue who's companion had disappeared into the crowd.

Augustus just shook his head, started to turn away from the rogue, and took some steps toward the perimeter. He swung his sword so it laid casually over his shoulders. He held the grip in one hand the blade in the other.

The rogue was astounded. This young soldier was completely open to attack! His back turned, holding his sword like a walking stick..... and worse, the young soldier continued to laugh.

If it wasn't for the band of men around him,” the rogue thought, “I could surely take this young dandy and teach him some manners.” He wondered how he could get the young fighter alone. The young fighter was now shaking his head, his back still turned.

No,” Said Augustus casually, “She is not under my protection...” Augustus turned toward the man and looked him directly in the eyes, “I am under hers.”

The rogue whipped his head back and stared in terror at Kai. It all seemed to come together for him. It could not be - this must be some terrible mistake. Could this really be the most deadly she-fighter in The Lands? The one who commanded legions of fighters and destroyed her enemies? The BearKiller herself?

He looked closely at the wench now and could see beyond her dirty face and unkempt appearance... he had heard the Princess was beautiful but he would have never guessed she would dress as a servant. It didn't make sense, his world spun under his feet.

You... you can't mean..” He was stammering now and trying to back away but could not get his feet under him. “You are... you are the VengeanceBringer?”

His last words were barely a whisper.

When it was over Col Ti walked Bitty back to her place at OFG's side. The brutality of the thing left Bitty stunned. She sat quietly not knowing what to think. The night's activity returned to the Great Hall, the Princess Kai had gone off with her men, and the serving ducks were cleaning up a terrible stain on the floor. No one would mourn that rogue. The story would be told... and no one would dare such a thing again. 

Life is hard, Bitty.” Said OFG, “It is harder if you are a fool. You are not a fool but you must understand the Way of Things. If you continue to sit at my table, to be at the Commander Zander's right hand, then you must learn these thing. Hard things. All of your actions must be to defend The Good Land. Always.”

Bitty sat thinking of these things. She did not know if she ever wanted to be among the rulers. She was just Bitty - and only just recently named at that. She was no one. She never thought of being “at Zander's right hand.” But … maybe that is exactly what she was now. Bitty sat thinking of these things for a long time.

The dark night gathered around the Great Hall. 


Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Fall Planting

One thing that has always befuddled me about this part of the country is that folks only really plant once during the growing season. Me? I'm doing fall planting.

Me and kale.... note my sophisticated chicken keeper-outter.... old fence FTW!

I planted two kinds of beets, some beans, and kale in the upper garden. I need to find my turnips so I can get those going.

Might as well plant some beans.

The turnips did really really well all last fall and into the winter. I was able to have roasted turnips into January... and they help improve my bad soil. I'm also going to get some cover crops going now and not wait until November like last year.

This guy helped me by providing management and oversight. 

I might try and get some last minute potatoes into the ground just to see what happens. Cant hurt, right?

Happy Wednesday everyone! Are you fall planting?

Monday, August 8, 2016

Grilling corn on the cob.... nekkid.

I have a very fun friend who has extremely funny sayings. My favorite was when their dog was kind of naughty and they said that he "was having a large day." It's a good way to describe it. When Kai is being a toot we say she is having a "large day."

So when my friend was asking me about grilling corn they asked if I just put the corn directly on the grill... just shucked and with nothing else... just nekkid. I thought it was a very very fun way to say it.

 Grilled corn. The perfect way to prepare it.

So several days later I was in town talking to some gals that I only kind of know. We were all standing around watching folks flock to the back of a truck to buy sweet corn. The farmers were selling tons and tons of it and so we were talking about the 'best' way to fix it. There are a million different ways to prepare corn on the cob.

I was thinking about the fun way my friend had described grilling corn and so I said, "Well all's you gotta do is grill that corn nekkid."

Both gals whipped their heads around and looked at me in shock, mouths open. I realized the error of my ways.

"No, no, no... I mean the corn is nekkid... not you."

The teetering began.

"What kind of farm are you running, OFG?" Asked one of the gals.

"NO! I mean..."

It was over. You know how sometimes a gaggle of gals will get to laughing and then go directly in scream-laughing? Yep. That was us. Almost to the point of tears. We were hanging off each other. Everyone was looking but we didn't even care.

So to clarify... how to grill corn on the cob:

Just put it on the grill. As is. Nothing else.

1. Go and get the freshest corn you can. NOT from the grocery store. Stop at a roadside stand and buy it a dozen for $3.

2. Heat up the grill.

3. Shuck that corn.

4. Place the corn directly on the grill.

5. When it starts to get a little color on it, give the cobs a quarter turn. This takes about 3 minutes. Do this until it's nice and done. A little char doesn't hurt anything.


There is no further preparation. You don't need to soak the corn, or grill it in the husk, or whatever. Directly on the (clean) grill. That is it. How easy is that?

My favorite way to eat corn on the cob is in the Mexcian street style. Prepare yourself. This might blow your mind.... 

Take that freshly grilled corn and butter it. Then take mayo and give it a slather. Next give a little shake of a spicy spice mix (like this one), shake a little Parmesan on it... and most important.... a squeeze of lime.

Did you totally gag?  Don't. This is life changing. You will not be able to believe this taste sensation.

If that is honestly too weird you can always use leftover corn to make fritters.

I know that it sounds weird. Mayo? On corn? Yep. It's a thing. You may never go back to butter and salt and pepper.

I can feel you not believing me. I was once in your shoes and then I saw the light. Just give it a go. What do you have to lose?

Happy Monday everyone! Are you grilling corn... nekkid?

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Holy tomatoes!

I love summer. I love every thing about summer. Today it's hot and I don't even care because it's summer and I love it. (Plus the humidity is lower so it's not so bad)   One thing I love about summer? Tomatoes.

How cool is this? Butterfly on a zinnia! What could be more summer like?

Remember when I was so excited about the tomato that was just about ripe? I ran right out there expecting to pick it the other day and found this!


Look at it!  You know who did it, right? Chickens that's who. I can tell you truly that someone is on their way to glory in a pot of noodles very very soon.

I was mad. Real mad. So mad that I was telling anyone who would listen about my tomato-lovin' chickens. Someone finally listened and they took pity on me. So they gave me this.....


How hilarious is a big ridiculous tomato of doom?  I think it might be the heirloom Gold Medal. I didn't pay attention when they told me what variety it was because I was so filled with tomato glee. They also gave me some perfect ones and a bucket of beautiful cherry tomatoes. I'm set now until my maters are ripe.

So I've been having a tomato-rrific day... despite those chickens and their tomato killing ways.

Happy Wednesday everyone! Do you have a big ridiculous tomato?

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