Turn Left At The Cornfield

Learning how to hurry up and slow down.

Changing course…



Ah, Utopia, where holes are dug and filled; where a patch of berries and grapes expands; and where a writer’s course is changed.

Having a weekly column to chronicle both the adventures and misadventures of the homesteading duo, as well as a cat and a dog, prodded the writer to meet a 500-600 word deadline each Monday for eight years.  Now that no deadline looms, it would be very easy to stop writing, altogether.

However, to not write would be akin to never taking another breath.  Working with words to form the “just right” sentence; and, in turn, working with sentences to form a cohesive and entertaining paragraph becomes a challenge that keeps those wheels turning and the synapses firing in the writers’ head.

One of the most creative endeavors this writer enjoys is chronicling the daily lives of the four who call the homestead “home sweet home.”  Although there are a few notable interlopers also known as “varmints,” that invade the homestead, the stories have always been about the cat and dog, since the humans are really uninteresting, if not boring.

In just another four weeks, the Ohioans will be at the homestead for nearly two weeks, with all of the fishing, bonfires, crafts, swimming, and just regular fun that comes with having the Ohio cutie pies at the farm. Although they have grown taller and wiser since the Yuletide, they will surely enjoy the silly “Knock, Knock” jokes collected by the resident wordsmith and “pun”-loving person AKA as Gramma.

Hopefully, the twice yearly “Ice Cream Social” at the Lebanon Four Corners will be held during their visit. There is nothing better than having dessert for dinner unless it’s having a bonfire with hot dogs, corn on the cob, and s’mores.

Although the homesteaders are excited about having a wisteria covered pergola as a place to relax among the vines and blooms, the woodman dreaded the vital first step for any building project–digging four, two-foot deep holes—and filling them with concrete.  The next, almost-as-much-fun-as-a-root-canal-step was centering and inserting the post hardware into the unset concrete to ensure perfect pole alignment.

As usual, the estimated time to dig four holes and fill them with concrete was way, way too optimistic.  Fortunately, the ground wasn’t rock-hard, and the rainstorm waited until all of the post holes were dug, filled, centered, and covered.

The first hole was dug and the planning for the other three entailed geometry, head scratching, countless measurements from planned pole hole to the next one, as well as sketches, the Pythagorean theorem, computing square roots, and pounding and re-pounding stakes in the ground when the diagonal measurements were off a whole ten inches.

The pergola building crew really needed Lil’ Bit to help with some of the mathematics.  While setting the table at the Ohio “grands,” Lil’ Bit was asked, “What is 2 plus 2?” She quickly answered “4,” which is understandable since her sister, Baby Girl, is a first grader, and has been practicing her addition and subtraction facts with flash cards.  Besides, everyone knows four year olds are like sponges who soak up everything they hear and see–both good and bad.

Trying to stump that little lady, her Poppy asked her, “What is 4 times 4?”  Lil’ Bit quickly answered, “16,” which was a totally unexpected answer.  Instead of stumping the four-year-old, the Ohio grandfather probably scratched his head in bewilderment.   Yes, those homesteaders really needed that half-pint-sized math wizard to help figure out what the diagonal measurement should be for a six foot by six foot pergola.

After consulting books, writing formulas, and using a calculator, the diagonal was computed and proved to be right when the sides were each six feet and both diagonal measurements equaled 102 inches.

It’s a very good thing that the pergola building duo weren’t contracted to build any of the pyramids or Stonehenge. The dynamic homesteading duo would still be in the first stages of construction, which always includes a lot of arm waving, head scratching, and paced-off measurements.

The Seven Ancient Wonders of the World would only be six-and-a-half, and such things as the $20,000 Pyramid game, and a famous casino venue in Las Vegas would be far less impressive.

The recurring theme for any recent outdoor project–digging holes for posts–and having a lot of livestock help is getting a bit tiresome.  There is nothing more helpful than having a cat’s paw or a dog’s nose exactly where a wire staple needs to be driven into a post; especially when the woodsman was pulling and tugging on the wire to make it as taut as possible.

The grand and glorious experiment of using sawdust to squelch weeds was a huge flop.  Instead of  being nearly weed less; the flower bed was completely covered with super-duper, hyped up dandelions with roots so vigorous and deep that it would take a case of dynamite to mildly disturb their hold on the front flower and shrub bed soil.  Happily, there wasn’t enough sawdust for all of the flowerbeds.

Whenever either the dog or cat take up residence in a human lap, the woodsman always says “You make it extremely difficult to…” “…weed, dig, pour concrete, trim shrubs, and wash the car…” Not only do they climb unto a lap, but they also lick faces, expect hugs, non-stop petting, and the rapt, undivided attention of their humans.

The flower loving homesteader has been rewarded for planting long-remembered favorites, like bleeding hearts, phlox, and lilacs last year, with the profuse blossoms that have gloriously covered every stem and limb, this year.

As always, the favored flower of all toddlers—the dandelion—is abundant without any other human encouragement, other than when little hands wave the cottony dandelion heads in all directions.

“When you look at a field of dandelions, you can either see a field full of weeds, or a field full of a hundred wishes.”  Unknown


Author: Prairie Writer

No one could have predicted that a fourth generation native Coloradoan, in love with the mountains, would migrate east to the Southeast corner of Iowa; and fall in love with rolling hills and fields. Ten years ago, my husband, the woodsman, and I moved to the 200-acre farm he had inherited in the early 1990s; where we built our dream house over a span of five or six years. One of my hobbies is teaching! Although I retired over ten years ago from being a full-time geography teacher, the teaching bug continues to flow through my veins. I have found the perfect way to teach—substituting—where I enjoy teaching something different every day I’m called. My other hobbies include reading any and every thing; planning and planting our flower gardens; sewing; being “crafty” and creative; finishing furniture pieces crafted by the woodsman; and writing. I was the editor for a pictorial book about Van Buren County, the first year we lived in Iowa. Additionally, I wrote two weekly columns for the local newspaper for eight years. Now, I look forward to writing regular posts about living in the country with a cat, a dog, and a woodsman in my blog, “Turn Left At The Cornfield.”


  1. I am enjoying reading your blog! Keep it up!

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