Apparently Cattle Don’t Eat Okra

The cabinets are in! Mostly, anyway. We still need quarter-round trim around the toe-kicks, plus some wood tops for areas that aren’t getting granite counters. These things weren’t included with the original order. Our home was full of noise and disorder for many days, but the installers were good workers, pleasant to us and each other; and as all the upheaval had such a worthy purpose, it was easy to bear. The dishwashers aren’t installed yet, and it will be another couple of weeks before we have countertops and a kitchen sink, but already things are much tidier. I am writing this from my new kitchen desk, with a big shelf standing in for the wood top.

This month Ann and Ben went on a two-week trip to Peru, so Greg and the kids have been taking care of their dog and yard. Day before yesterday, the renter’s cows broke through the yard fence, no doubt attracted by the green grass of the watered lawn. Rene, the lady with the horses for whom Emilie sometimes works, called to tell us. So Greg headed over with Ready to drive the cattle out. Sam, Ann and Ben’s little Chihuahua mix, seemed glad to see them. No doubt it is one thing to bark at cows through a fence, and quite another to confront them after they bust through and start munching the St. Augustine.

This was Ready’s first chance to show what he could do with cattle, and he turned in a fine performance. He dutifully barked at the intruders from inside the yard but would not pass the boundary of the downed fence to send them on their way. Whenever Greg yelled at the cows, Ready abruptly hushed his barking and looked chagrined, apparently thinking Greg was yelling at him. Greg may experiment with a distinctive cow-rousing sound, perhaps a whoop, to avoid confusing the dog.

 The downed fence has been raised but not really repaired; the cattle could bust through again if sufficiently motivated. So every afternoon, around the time when the cattle mosey up to the water tank up by the house, Greg heads over with Ready and Tara to make sure they keep their distance. Tara watches Ready carefully, waiting for him to take the initiative; she knows her place in the dog hierarchy.

Besides watering the plants and protecting the yard from interloping cattle, Greg has been picking okra from Ben’s garden. I have never raised okra myself and did not know how productive the plants are. This okra keeps coming and coming. Greg picks all the right-sized ones and brings them home in a grocery bag, and the next day there are just as many ready to be picked. Last night Anna and I sliced and bagged five pounds—that’s five future batches of gumbo this winter. (It’s too hot now to even think about gumbo.) And the end is nowhere in sight.

Yesterday I learned that I’d sold another short story. I won’t see the money till fall, but the time will pass whether I sell stories or not, and if I work consistently, I should be able to generate a nice stream of pay. I have other stories out right now that I hope to hear back about soon. My current work in progress is a space opera short story geared towards an online magazine. The pay is nominal for this particular market, but the project appeals to me.

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