May 8, 2012

Cat Tales: George Cooney still at home

LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. — George Cooney, my pet raccoon for almost two years now, still comes every evening and eats leftovers from a food bowl and washes his hands in the water bowl every time he gets them dirty.

He comes out around 9 p.m. and if I’m late in putting out his food, he will try to get into the garbage can where I store the bird food. The other day I caught him in the can and he looked up at me like a little child who got caught with his hand in the cookie jar.

Sometimes he just waits anxiously on me under the tree where I put the food. When he sees me, he follows me around until I put down the food dish. He reminds me of Garfield in the comic strip — always wanting food. He doesn’t bother the outside cat and he acts just like one, except he only comes out at night. He runs around the yard and comes right up to me. I’ve never have hand fed him, but I could if I wanted to. I think I could make a pet out of any creature — except a man.

For the past few weeks I’ve noticed a big, gray rabbit eating dandelion leaves in my yard. I guess he’s waiting for me to plant my garden so he’ll have some real food to chow down on.

I’ve got my big garden plowed up and covered with black plastic-like material, but I haven’t planted anything in it yet. I’m glad I waited because of the cold weather we’ve been having.

I have three raised beds that are full of cold crops, though. One bed has asparagus that started coming up in late March, and a rhubarb plant I bought this spring. I plan on making some strawberry and rhubarb pies when my strawberries get ripe. I have a raised bed that is loaded down with their white blooms. In the third bed, I have peas climbing up about four inches on wire cages. Next to the peas are salad onions, lettuce, and radishes I have been eating for the past two weeks. The rabbit, now named Sir Dandi, doesn’t know I have cabbage and lettuce planted in the raised beds.

I bought brandywine and Mr. Stripey heirloom tomato plants I am going to try to raise in big pots in the back of my house instead of in the garden. For the past several years, my tomato plants have gotten the blight, so it must be in the soil.

I also have cucumber, basil, zucchini, and gypsy pepper plants to set out when it gets warm. I’m going to try to plant Kentucky Wonder and Blue Lake green bean seed this weekend and I have pumpkin, cantaloupe, watermelon, and okra plants that have just come up from seeds in Styrofoam cups, which will be planted around the middle of May.

A couple of weeks ago I bought three double wave petunia hanging baskets, pink, red, and purple and hung them on my newly painted deck I wrote about in my last column.

My mother promptly informed me, after reading that column, that the deck was hers, not mine, since I had it built for her a few years ago so that she could make a planter garden on it. I forgot that I built it especially for her.

Since it has been so windy and cold, the hanging plants have been sitting on the carport covered up with sheets most of the time.

My tulips I planted last fall were colorful this spring but have all bloomed and died, but my mother’s purple and blue irises look beautiful and smell so good. I’ve been picking some and bringing them into the house to put in a vase. The irises are planted all around the house except on one area that stays shaded by a hemlock.

I’m going to plant some cosmos and zenia seeds in my pet cemeteries and some Bonanza Bee marigold plants on one edge of the garden. These are French marigolds that have different shades of gold petals, the darkest being a burnt orange.

I’ve got a red Million Bells flowering plant in front of the house on a stump and an orange plant called Calibrachoa in a bucket on the wishing well bird bath.

I’ve helped my mother plant some mustard green, onions, and potato cuttings for new potatoes in her “pot” garden on HER deck. She has a flat parsley plant that has grown back from last year so I don’t have to plant any in my garden.

I may plant a few more vegetables and flowers, but by the end of May everything will hopefully be planted and most of the work will be done. Last year, I got lucky because it was rather rainy and I didn’t have to water except about four times.

We have four apple trees and four small plum trees that need spraying, but the rainy, cold, windy weather is not cooperating. I sprayed our small mutsu one evening, but it got dark before I had time to spray the others.

There have not been many days with the right conditions for spraying, especially when I get home from work most days after dark.

Mow man, where are you?

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Now that school is out, what are your family’s summer vacation plans?

A. No major plans. We will probably hang out around Laurel County.
B. Going to the beach!
C. Kentucky has a lot of wonderful state parks, and we plan to visit a few and enjoy quality family time.
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