Ok, I know, officially, the first day of summer is another two weeks away. But for me, summer has arrived. Already a bunch of summer time things are going on. Late rains postponed this year's spring hay crop. Now farmers are dodging rain showers as they try get the hay crop in.

Speaking of hay, don't you love the smell of newly mowed hay? It is a smell like no other. I especially enjoy it now that I am no longer called to the hay fields to haul square bales. Those were the days! Hot and dusty are words that come to mind. There is hardly any heat that compares to the stagnant air high in a hay loft.

And dust? My father grew a lot of red clover and Laredo soybean hay. If either got wet, those dark green leaves turned black. The dust that came with that hay was almost unbearable. Why, I believe I've blown a black hale of hay out of my nose a few times! When my brothers and I complained to our father about black leaves and coarse stems, he had two comebacks. "They'll (the cows) eat every bite of it!" he'd exclaim, or "It'll beat a snowball!"

Of course, it's the time of year for thistles. I hate thistles. Whenever I see a thistle in one of my pastures, I bristle. (That's almost poetic.) As in, "I bristle at a thistle." I know, I know, we are not supposed to hate. When I find myself hating a thistle I take comfort in Ecclesiastes 3:8 "… a time to love and a time to hate…" I also take action. I rarely check cows without the company of my trusted hoe. This year my hoe and I have inflicted some serious damage on the thistle crop. Going to battle against thistles is a summer thing. I try to head them off before they head out.

Speaking of checking cows, most of the spring calves have arrived. I love to watch them grow. Shaded pastures and lazy creeks running cool make for a scene right out of paradise. I almost feel sorry for all those city folks who know nothing of country living.

Many years ago, my friend, Johnny Godwin, who grew up in Midland, TX (where he said they had ONE tree) and his wife, Phyllis flew to Tennessee by commercial airline. "When we looked down from that plane and saw 'the greenest state in the land of the free' we decided we were never going back to live in Texas!" Johnny said. They have lived here ever since. Summer time showcases the "green" of our beloved Tennessee.

And summer speaks of gardens in our part of the world. Soon gardens will be coming "in." My brothers, Tom and John are the garden growers in our family. There is nothing quite like fresh vegetables "right out of the garden." Hats off to my friend, Jackie Oldham, who will share his sweet corn with" half of Dixon Springs." If you want to see a great garden, slow down next time you are driving through Dixon Springs in Smith County. You can't miss it.

Of course, summer time is a time for cooking out (That is opposed to "eating out.") Bring on the grills. And speaking of grills, here's a little promo for the beef industry. A few steak houses are now offering a cut called a "flat iron" steak. It is a less expensive cut (about 3 to 5 dollars less than a rib eye.) I asked the meat cutter at Kroger the other day about the "flat iron." "Oh, yes," he said. "It's called the poor man's sirloin." You might want to give it a try. I suggest you marinate it in your favorite marinade with some garlic at home, or try the "flat iron" at Longhorn Steakhouse.

And, then, there is summer time heat. On one of these hot summer afternoons I suggest you make a tall pitcher of lemonade (with real lemons) or fix yourself a glass of sweet, iced tea, take off your shoes, and go bare-footed. You might even go down to the creek and go wadin.'

There's much pleasure to be had in "the good ole summer time."

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