"Carnation Milk is the best in the lan'

It comes to you in a little red can,

No teats to pull, no hay to pitch,

Just poke a hole in the son of a b--."

- Anonymous

This little ditty above was penned about the time canned milk made its appearance in the West. It was in a book Don Holmes wrote on sourdough. It seems the cowboys didn't like to drink canned milk because they thought it gave them calves' breath. Not manly you know. But a pioneer lady loved the convenience of canned milk and wrote the first two lines and sent them off the Carnation Milk Co. Somehow, on the way to the post office, a cowboy added the last two.

Yes, I am into sourdough baking. My Hero has a sourdough starter that began life with his Grandma. It sort of intimidated me in the beginning. I gave him that sourdough cookbook for Valentine's Day. He loves to cook, that was my excuse ... but I really needed that book. I discovered the casual way that sourdough has been treated through the years. From cowboys, to chuck wagons, to the ranch kitchen.

I started going through flour like Grant took Georgia. I was on my way to becoming famous for my sourdough baking. At least in my own mind. Of course when you talk sourdough baking, it is very important to be very casual. And you say things like, I ALWAYS put this or that in, etc. But then I discovered the awful truth about where all that flour was going - straight to my hips! Ohmygosh!!! I am now looking into growing celery.

Speaking of hips ... I remember wondering why all the guys look so sexy in the Wallowas. I spent a good deal of time enjoying the research on this subject at the gatherings we have at the Store. And it came to me ... it is the tight Levis the guys wear! That is why they never look old. No baggy pants for these dudes. They saunter in wearing western shirts, a big belt buckle holding up these new Levis. A new Stetson usually tops the cowboy look. I love it. This look is perpetuated by the wives. I heard one of the guys complain that his wife keeps buying him the same size of Levis even though he would like them a scoch larger. Fat chance! He likes strutting, you can't kid me. Wait til' My Hero sees the size of Levis I just bought for him.

The big contest has started. It is a contest no one will ever admit they have entered. It is one where there are no prizes. The winner is not announced. But EVERYONE knows. It is the first garden that produces. It starts very subtly. As you drive along, you spot a plot of ground that has been plowed. It just appears. Like in the middle of the night someone was out there working the ground up. How do they do it when nobody can see them? Yesterday the ground was wintery and now it is pregnant with seed. Amazing.

Get ready for the first annual Banana Belt Garage Sales, to be held on Saturday, April 17. There will be baked goodies for the weary travelers also. Just to add a bit of excitement, the sale will be combined with a Poker Run. Everyone will be given a poker card at each home they visit. They will turn in their best hand at the Store. Five card stud is the game. Homes having a garage sale will have flags out and maps will be available at the Store. Of course there will be a nice prize and as soon as we figure out what it is, we'll tell you. But you better buy your suntan lotion and sunglasses now as to be ready for the trip down canyon.

Our Katie Wilde was 94 last Sunday. You all know Kate. For newcomers, she is petite and dainty with curly white hair that writers describe as a halo on her head. She sort of glows. When I first started going to coffee, I noticed that she would put her hand over her cup when Don Siedelman would stroll by. I looked at her with a question in my eye. She said, "He loves to torture me. He puts his finger in my tea if I don't watch him." She, on the other hand, walked past Doc yesterday, put her cane beside his neck and told him to stop saying 'those' things about her. Then they had a duel with their canes.

I know you are all wondering what Marge Siedelman is doing with all this time on her hands. I am taking up some of her time with questions about what I can write about. I am now like the Shadow. I don't walk by night but I know many things. Boy would I like to tell you some stories! Anyhow, yesterday she told me at coffee that she, Alice Blankenship and Anna Carriger were going to hike up the side of the canyon. When Marge said where they were going, I guess I had this alarmed look on my face so she said not to worry, that Alice was 'packing.' Bill Bailey asked how accurately she could shoot over her shoulder. Hey, I mean there are cougars all over. But that is one of the stories I can't write about. There are rumbles about a Cougar War down here if the Fish and Wildlife people don't get reasonable. Stay tuned.

Bonnie Marks just returned from Alaska where she was feted as The 4-H Leader of Oregon. for 2003. Her daughter, Darla, attended also. She is from Wyoming and is an extension associate. Bonnie started 4-H leadership by helping kids raise livestock. Soon she branched out into handcraft, crafts,sewing and anything else the kids needed to learn. She is also the postmaster here and what I think is, she doesn't sleep. How could she and get all this done?

John Stein, son of Katia and Mike, has been going to school with four Warnock boys. Since they talk 'livestock,' John has asked for a horse, or a cow, or calf for his upcoming birthday. He almost became the canyon's youngest rustler last week. A cow and calf had wandered part way down his lane. He helped them along. Opened his gate for them in fact. Then announced with a big smile to his folks that he now had both a cow and calf. They broke his heart by explaining they belonged to someone else. Now he wants a replacement for his seventh birthday.

With the spring, the turkeys are thinking of nesting. At least the hens are. You know how that works. First the Tom and the Hen have to pitch woo. I repeat that at least the hens are thinking along these lines. I watched a hen make herself as attractive as possible by fluffing up a bit and circling a huge Tom. As she circled she got bolder. Still no interest by the Tom. Finally she threw caution to the wind and backed into his face. Still nothing. He definitely had a headache.

My Hero and our neighbor Benny Fields burned off the gully between our houses. Seems we have an abundance of some kind of weed that can lay dormant for seven years. It is deadly if eaten by livestock. After the fire I had a couple years ago, it almost made my teeth itch to see the flames licking away. What happens down here when you have a fire burning is interesting. Pickups, van,cars and even four wheelers just appear. The driver will stop, get out, peruse the fire and make the decision about whether their help is needed. In this case, they drove on. The fire did almost get away from them. The wind came up from nowhere like it does when you are burning and whoosh! It tried its best to race up the gully to the top. Jim was completely surrounded at one point. This is why you won't see eyebrows or hair on his arms. Pretend he looks OK.

I just got the dreaded phone call. You know, the one where a voice confirms you are not perfect. The nice voice belonged to Marvin Maxwell. Now I know his nickname is NOT Bud. To make the facts clear, it was he, and not Bud who gave me the information on the goats. Sorry 'bout that.

I'd write more but I really have to do those windows. Not just any windows. The front of the house stands three stories high. Anyway you look at it, it takes a tall ladder. "Oh Honey ..."

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