Wiechmann: Fall Décor, Ranch Style | TSLN.com

Wiechmann: Fall Décor, Ranch Style

I recently received an invitation to participate in a fall decoration contest for homes and yards in the area. I must admit I chuckled.

First of all, I don’t decorate, second, I don’t decorate, and third, I don’t decorate! But it did get me thinking about ranch style fall décor, and since ranch style is all the rage, I thought I’d share my musings.

I suspect, from observations, that most conventional rustic fall décor revolves around a harvest theme: ‘When the frost is on the punkin’…’ as James Whitcomb Riley’s poem celebrates. Depending on the operation, farm/ranch décor may also be harvest related. Grain samples waiting to go to the elevator. Lunches packed to be hauled to the field. The soybeans, sunflower seeds or corn that fell out of my husband’s cuffs when he took his boots off. A bill from the hay hauler and another one for the winter’s supply of feed that was just hauled in. Tomatoes of various hues spread out on the basement floor. While the occasional pumpkin may find a merely decorative purpose, most will be stored for the winter, cooked up and frozen, and eventually made into Thanksgiving and Christmas pies and scores of pumpkin muffins. And, in my kitchen, most of the pumpkins are squash…

Fall décor is also medicinal. Never mind pumpkin spice candles. I have vet supplies! Empty vaccine bottles. Vaccine guns waiting to be washed or spread out in pieces to dry. Draxxin and LA for that droop eared calf and the bull that won’t get over his foot rot. Bute for the horse that got sore after yesterday’s gather. Anticoccidials on hand for newly weaned calves. Wormer for the dogs, wormer for the cats, wormer for the horses… Well, you get the picture. It’s probably all gathered artistically on the end of the kitchen table.

Fall, and the coming of frost, also means lighting the wood stove again. During the hot days of summer, the top of the old Monarch cookstove that stands in my kitchen generally serves as a countertop, also known as a ‘horizontal surface’ which is one of the most widely used storage spaces known to mankind. (Kudos to John Phipps, long time Farm Journal columnist for the definition.) Prior to lighting a fire, everything that has taken up residence on the stovetop must find a new location. The shotgun shells that were set out the last time a ‘coon showed up, several rows of jars of canned tomatoes, the last three days’ worth of mail, five mismatched gloves, a pair of spurs, two cookie sheets waiting to be washed, a bouquet of dried prairie flowers, and a collection of pretty rocks, old nails and rusty fence staples must all be relocated. Hopefully the person who undertakes this task doesn’t just move it all over to the table…

Of course, with the lighting of the stove comes the bringing in of the firewood. This adds a new layer to my ‘fall décor’—a layer of dirt, sawdust and bark chips. It’s usually complete with a hatchet, a bucket full of kindling, and an overflowing box of newspapers. If the weather happens to be damp when the wood comes in, it will also come with a layer of muddy footprints and be stacked on the open oven door to dry out before it goes into the stove or the woodbox.

Other means of combating the ‘frost on the punkin’ also appear to add to my rustic ranch décor. Coats, jackets, hats, gloves, boots all make a sudden appearance in the kitchen. Their favorite spot is on the floor right next to the door. Most likely, they will not be color coordinated or paired up. They will, likely, be the dog’s favorite place to nap.

A slight variation on the fall theme involves Halloween. While some take joy in adorning their home with oversized spiders, cobwebs, jack o’lanterns and the like, I do not find any need to add anything creepy to my home. Fall is a great time to gently relocate the two large grey spiders, Charlotte I and Charlotte II, from their chosen abode in my living room windows back out to the wide world where they can return to the wild. The frost has, at least, killed the flies, and I don’t need their assistance with fly control in my house any longer.

I will not be entering the fall decoration contest. If anyone wants to stop by and observe my rustic ‘ranchy’ seasonal embellishments, sans spiders, you’re welcome. There’s a fire in the stove, a dog or two handy, and I’ll put the coffee on! We might even have a pumpkin muffin or two around somewhere…

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