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I am Sandra - faithful steward. listener. shepherd. present. dream believer. hard worker. collects brass bells, books, boots. Jesus follower. contented. star gazer. jam, bread maker. farmer. prayer warrior. country woman. writer. traveler. homebody.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Planners and Planning


Do you use a planner? If so, what kind? I've tried Filofax, Franklin Planner and, eventually, settled on designing my own to suit my needs and not that of someone who has to show up at the office and dance to someone else's tune. In all cases, my planners must have a zipper both to stuff full and to keep stuff inside.



This is a Filofax mini-planner and designed to be both planner and bill fold. The front zipper container has a place for business cards, small note paper, holder for pen


and on the back side a zipper change purse and two sides with an envelope for bills.


The middle planner is is a much larger planner by Franklin Planner and has a zipper on the inside left that holds money, personal notes and things of the sort. The slots hold business cards and the plastic sleeve holds paper clips, stamps and other things that help make life easier. Behind the plastic are note paper, calendar, sticky notes and a pen holder on the far right. If you use a Franklin Planner, click here for sale items.

Filofax and Franklin Planners have six rings while my current has three and I always buy replacement pages with six rings so they'll fit both six ring and three ring planners. The mini planner has it's own smaller pages and must be purchased separately.


I switch between all three and am currently using a three ring leather book that I've had more than 25 years and is hardly broken in. On the left side are business card holders, pen holder and a sleeve where I tuck sticky notes. The cardboard is to provide a barrier to protect the inside of the notebook.


The plastic sleeve holds an eraser, pins, mechanical pencil, small ruler, stamps, envelope and paper clips. Probably a few other things as well as I find necessary.


The first page is a six year calendar and the page on the right side has birthdays and anniversary's noted. It's the only way I can nudge myself to send cards, letters and notes.


On the left, the plastic sheet holds eight business cards and on the right, plastic sleeves hold my coupons. Don't you hate getting to the store and realize you've left your coupons at home? This prevents that from happening.


On the right, two questions that guide my days as well as a couple of quotes. The two questions: What can I do today to further the Gospel and What can I do today to make my life better? The first can be something as simple as doing a kindness and the second something as simple as updating my planner. No pun intended, but frequently, during these cold, hard winter days, updating my planner takes more out of me than I've got to give.

The two verses: "The plans of the diligent lead surely to plenty but those of everyone who is hasty surely to poverty" from Proverbs 21:5 and The Lord will work out His plans for my life" from Psalm 138:8.


One grouping is a Health & Fitness Tracker that reminds me to work out, eat healthfully and, very important, drink seventy-four ounces of water daily.


Behind the Tracker is this blank page is where I write my To-Do lists that seem to grow, rather than shrink, daily.

 Here's where I list oil changes, tag renewals, insurance, etc. for vehicles, both personal and farm.

Book sections include blog posts (where I keep ideas for blog posts and have far more ideas than time to write about); finances (need to re-write my will and living trust; studio (a list of projects both to start and to finish); TCC (Thistle Cove Cottage with a list of projects, important dates, reminder to send rental agreements and a tag showing a sham I need to purchase); TCF (Thistle Cove Farm with paint chips, a list of house and farm chores for me and hired help);


The goal section is saved for four or five projects that need constant attention to keep me on track. I am so easily de-railed, especially in this cold weather it seems all I do is either feed animals or recover from feeding animals so I can return to feeding animals. Right now, around 7:30 Saturday evening, it's 8 degrees above zero and supposed to dip below zero. The wood stove is hot and two loads of wood inside so I have no need to go outside before day break and I'm struggling to stay awake. (If this post makes no sense, put it down to fatigue.)

The last two sections are writing and new home/farm and, yes, this notebook is heavy but is kept in a leather satchel, readily at hand. Those little bits and pieces of paper drive me mad and having a planner keeps my life in some semblance of order.

Do you use a planner? What kind and what do you both like and dislike about it?

Blessings ~ planners ~ wood stove ~ load of wood~  

Tuesday, February 09, 2016

Again, up to my Boots with SNOW Plus a WINNER!


Only yesterday I awoke to a passel of cows and calves in my lower field. They'd broken through the fence because my field is, primarily, a hay field while their field is grazing and hay. My field hasn't anyone eating it down so was lush to their way of thinking.


These men are neighboring farm workers and I don't believe are afraid of anything! A few months ago, I told one feller his rooster had flown the coop and was living in my barn. He said, "I'll be up after work and get it" which was better than fine with me. That blasted cock had talons that looked like eagle talons and every time I went into the barn, he gave me the stink eye. It was only a matter of time, or so I believed, that bird would attack me and then, as they say, the fight would be on! He might get a meal but I have the upper hand...due to thumbs, don'cha know...and don't hesitate to shoot anything that throws the first punch. You've been warned, I told the bird, but he acted not at all impressed and again with the stink eye.

Anyway, by the time I left the house and got to the barn, Ty walked out of the barn, cradling that bird and petting him like a kitten. For a fast moment or two I was embarrassed but then took a look at those talons and felt better about it all.

So, back to the above photo...one man is riding a four wheeler while the other man is leading the cows through the fence. The most amazing thing is, the man walking is carrying a feed sack full of grain. I don't know about you but there is absolutely NO WAY I'd walk in front of a bunch of pregnant cows rattling a feed sack! I mean, anything pregnant is always hungry...right? B.R.A.V.E.


Today, it's a foot of snow on the ground with drifts of two feet and another foot of snow expected by Thursday because it hasn't stopped snowing since it started. So much for the "1 to 3 inches" we were told.


The dogs and I sweater up and go to the barn twice a day to throw out hay for the American Curly horses. They could do without because they have a round hay bale in the pastures, but it makes me feel better taking such good care of them. Miss T, the black mare, has ice hanging off her coat but due to the extra layer of fat and the hollow core fiber coat, she's in good stead. All Curly horses have hollow core fiber, extra layer of fat and used to be range horses out west. Miss T was an abused horse that Dave gave me for my birthday when I begged like a toddler. Finally, he gave in and let me go get her and bring her home but his words were, "You mean we have to BUY a rescued horse?" Well, yes, but she's been a good 'un and I've never regretted the decision. All the horses have run-in shelter but they rarely stay in the barn which is all right with me; I figure they know how to be a horse better than I.


The front fence is covered in snow and presents a lovely sight


while the view from the main road shows home with Short Mountain in the background. Short Mountain is part of the Clinch Mountain Range and the Clinch Mountain Wildlife Management Area is the second largest, but most biologically diverse, in the Department's management area system. There are vast differences in elevation and the 25,477 acres are spread over four counties...Tazewell, Russell, Smith and Washington.

So blogger buddies...I'm a bit chuffed at you. Yes, that's right YOU. Not a single one of you sent me a note to remind me of my terrible memory! Or....don't you remember? LOL Last month I had a giveaway for the Downton Abbey cookbook and #4 Martha won. She's been notified she has until 6 tomorrow night to claim it or I'll have to have another name. My apologies, all, for my memory.

Blessings ~ safety in this snow storm ~ a warm and cozy house ~ healthy animals and human (for the most part) ~ Downton Abbey Cookbook ~ American Curly horses ~ great neighbors ~ Clinch Mountain Range ~ 

Sunday, February 07, 2016

Sabbath Keeping


"Be still, and know that I am God!
I will be honored by every nation.
I will be honored throughout the world."

"The word LISTEN contains the 
same letters as the word SILENT."

"The sound of gentle stillness after all the thunder and wind have passed will be the ultimate word from God." ~ Jim Elliot ~

"Everything takes time.
Bees have to move very fast in order to stand still."

"When you change the way you look at things, 
the things you look at change."
~ Wayne Dyer

"Whenever there is stillness there is the still small voice, God's speaking from the whirlwind, nature's old song and dance..."
~ Annie Dillard ~

"When you are in doubt, be still, and wait; when doubt no longer exists for you, then go forward with courage. So long as mists envelop you, be still; be still until the sunlight pours through and dispels the mists -- as it surely will. Then act with courage."
~ Ponca Chief White Eagle ~

"Learning how to be still, to really be still and let life happen - that stillness becomes a radiance." ~ Morgan Freeman ~

"Once I knew only darkness and stillness... my life was without past or future... but a little word from the fingers of another fell into my hand that clutched at emptiness, and my heart leaped to the rapture of living." ~ Helen Keller ~

"And He awoke and rebuked the wind
and said to the sea, "Peace! Be still! 
And the wind ceased and there was great calm."

Prayer Keeping ~ those in the path of the next storm ~ Hancock family who lost a matriarch ~ a blind gentleman whose home was burned to the ground ~ a young woman who was able to move from a tent to a trailer but the dwelling has problems ~ 

Monday, February 01, 2016

FeBrUaRy, the Longest Short Month of the Year

~  February's first heart ~ 

May I be the first to say, Happy Valentine to you? While cleaning the porch of snow...which is to say I found the edge of the mat and pulled up...this heart was my gift.


~ January's Wolf moon was stellar! ~


The driveway had drifts of about three feet but my Ranger was able to move about albeit with some difficulty. Daniel Miller, using John Fisher's tractor and snow blower, cleared the driveway...a wonderful gift!

~ Polaris Ranger ~

Each day, the Ranger was parked next to the house, out of the worst of wind but with the nose exposed to the first rays of sun to warm the engine. Have I mentioned how often I bless Dave's name and memory for buying this work horse for me? It has never failed although the wind shield wiper no longer works...not sure what the problem is and will have to ask around for ideas.

~ white tail fawn ~

One morning I woke up to this sight...this white tail deer was asleep in the field next to the house. Fortunately, deer in this valley always eat if they find the pastures where silage is put out for cattle and hay for horses and sheep.

~ Here there be dragons ~

There resides a cast iron dragon atop the wood stove and when the stove heats up, vapor pours out of the dragon's nostrils. While it's true, it's not a lot of vapor, it's also true the dragon provides me with amusement on a daily basis. I am so easily entertained!


Thistle Cove Farm can't be seen in this picture unless you know where to look, but it doesn't subtract from the beauty, does it?


My neighbor's barn against the backdrop of Morris Knob. One site says it's 4,455 in height while another says 3,500; I suppose it's a matter of...you choose. According to this site, Morris Knob was named for Morris Griffith, part of a hunting party in 1767-1769. The hunting party was put together to encourage expansion and anyone interested being a member would be given a land grant. The names in the hunting party have heirs still in Tazewell County: James Burke (for whom Burke's Garden is named), Rees Bowen (Dave's clan), William Harmon and others.


VDOT did an outstanding job of clearing our road; it took several passes daily but they persevered and a clear road is the result. Their diligence allowed me to make a run to the grocery and feed stores, all the eaters at Thistle Cove Farm are most grateful.

How did you manage January's snow storm?

Blessings ~ clear roads ~ enough coffee, food and milk to keep the human take care of the animals ~ 

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Sabbath Keeping


"And it shall come to pass that before they call, 
I will answer;
and while they are yet speaking, 
I shall hear." 

"Man finds it hard to get what he wants because he does not want the best. God finds it hard to give because He would give the best and man will not take it." ~ George McDonald ~

"God loves you just the way you are, but he refuses to leave you that way. He wants you to be just like Jesus." ~ Max Lucado ~

"You can't analyze God. He is too awesome, too big, too mysterious. I know now, Lord, why you utter no answer.
You Yourself are the answer." ~ C. S. Lewis ~

"Sometimes you ask God for something
and you don't know what you're asking."
~ Mahalia Jackson

"The best way to start a new day is to ask God to refresh and clean our heart and mind." ~ Mariane Corbito ~

"Child of God, do you sometimes ask, "Why this cross? Why this bereavement? Why am I perplexed by this dilema? Why is this difficulty piled like a barricade across my path? You do not have the answer now, but you will. Until then, settle firmly in your faith that "all things work together for good to those who love God to those love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose." ~ C. H. Spurgeon

"Praying we usually ask too much. I know I do. Sometimes we even demand. I think I am learning to ask enough for the moment--not for the whole year, utterly veiled in mystery; not even for the week, the month ahead; but just for today.

Jesus said it all when He told us to pray: 
'Give us this day our daily bread.'

That bread is not material, it is spiritual; in asking for it, we ask for a sufficiency of strength, courage, hope and light. Enough courage for the step ahead--not for the further miles. Enough strength for the immediate task or ordeal. Enough material gain to enable us to meet our daily obligations. Enough light to see the path--right before our feet." ~ Faith Baldwin

"Don't ask God to guide your steps
if you're not willing to move your feet."
unknown ~

"Ask and it will be given to you;
seek and you will find;
knock and the door will be opened to you."

Prayer Keeping ~ Jim ~ Debby ~ Vic ~ Sandra ~ 

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Sabbath Keeping


"Like snow in summer and like rain in harvest,
so honor is not fitting for a fool."

"No person was ever honored for what he received.
Honor has been the reward for what he gave."
~ Calvin Coolidge ~

"You will never do anything in this world without courage.
It is the greatest quality of the mind next to honor."
~ Aristotle ~

"I will honor Christmas in my heart,
and try to keep it all the year."
~ Dickens

"Nothing of real worth can ever be bought. Love, friendship, honour, valour, respect. All these things have to be earned."
~ David Gemmell, Shield of Thunder ~

"The greatest way to live with honour in this world is to be what we pretend to be." ~ Socrates ~

"I have learned the hard way to mind my business, without judging who people are or what they do. I am more troubled by the lack of space being provided for the truth to unfold. Humans cannot seem to wait for, or to honor, the truth. Instead, we make it up based on who we believe people should, or should not, be."
~ Iyania Vanzant ~

"If it ever occurs to people to value the honour of the mind equally with the honour of the body, we shall get a social revolution of a quite unparralleled sort." ~ Dorothy Sayers, Gaudy Night ~

"A truly American sentiment recognizes the dignity of labor and the fact that honor lies in honest toil." ~ Grover Cleveland ~

"Mine honor is my life; both grow in one.
Take honor from me, and my life is done."
~ Shakespeare

"The moon doesn't have enough gravity to keep an atmosphere around it and some men don't have enough honour to keep God's angels around them!" ~ Mehmet Murat Ildan ~

"But often life asks much of you, and you either honor life by answering with all your heart, or you cower your way into your grave." ~ James Clemens ~

"Come now, let us settle the matter,'
says the Lord.
Though your sins are like scarlet,
they shall be as white as snow;
though they are red as crimson,
they shall be like wool.
If you are willing and obedient,
you will eat the good things of the land."

Prayer Keeping ~ Juliet ~ Jim ~ Sandra ~

Saturday, January 23, 2016

And now...for the rest of the story...

~ fence posts are almost buried ~

Recently I posted I might take a long break from blogging and it may still happen but not sure when. Saturday, my left ACL tore and I've been advised to have surgery. That'll happen when I find someone to do the surgery; I'm still researching while both knees are tightly wrapped when doing chores. This morning, someone e-mailed to ask how I was doing in this snowstorm/blizzard. Here's my edited reply: 

~ waiting for breakfast ~

All is well here; going to barn, feeding horses and barn cats 2xday. Climbing into hay loft to toss down 60-75 pound bales of good alfalfa hay so the horses can have quality hay along with their round bales. I've got the wood stove fired up, propane fireplaces fired up, oil furnace fired up...the only thing not fired up is me. The house temps are like the dang tropics and much better than the 48 degrees F it used to be in my bedroom (when the furnace was broken and I had no idea...grief is a frightening thing...in hindsight).  
~ deep snow drifts ~

Yesterday, I took a toes up between feedings and John Fisher cleaned out my driveway as a kind surprise. THANK YOU JOHN! There were/are snow drifts to my knees...yeah, speaking of knees, both are wrapped tightly and, Thank God, have held. Who needs Kings Dominion when I've got the Ranger in 4-wheel drive, yelling at the dogs beside me to "STAY STEADY!"? At one point I got stuck in a drift, furiously switching the steering wheel back and forth to work my way out, I found myself yelling, "PUSH, JESUS, PUSH!" And you know what? He must have because I got out of the drift! (PTL!)

~ Adam ~

This morning I made it to the barn, heard a noise, turned around and it was Adam (neighboring farm worker), climbing out of his truck, smiling broadly and shouting, "HONEY, I'M HOME!" He checked, then started, the tractor while I loaded the bucket with square hay bales. He drove to each horse lot and we tossed hay to them then I climbed into the loft to throw down more hay (I like being prepared for the next feeding.). Adam cleaned my barn lot, both driveways and a portion of the yard of snow...the snow is now stacked 8 feet deep in the barn lot. I brought him to the house, made him sit in front of the wood stove, gave him hot cocoa to both thaw and warm him, then wrote him a check. I was soooo happy to write that check because my knees were screaming like babies before going to the barn! My morning plan was to clear a portion of the yard of drifts to make using the Ranger easier but Adam's plan was so much better! Thank you, Adam!
~ notice drifts in relationship to front wheels ~

After Adam left, I called to check on my parents then sweatered up the dogs and we all went back to the barn to do a second feeding. We finished, came to the house and sat down to eat a Mrs. Somebody or other pot pie, cleaned up and prepared to settle down and knit which...didn't happen. The VDOT driver came to back porch, half frozen, needing assistance because some IDIOTS (yes, I AM shouting!!) thought it would be fun to ride around and take pictures. They ended up two miles down my dead end road with their Suburban rear end plunked down in a huge ditch while the front end was stuck so far in the air one could walk underneath. VDOT plow didn't have chains so I sweatered up the dogs (for the third time today), got my knees wrapped (for the third time today) and we went to the Ranger (bless Dave's name and memory for buying that Ranger for me!). I drove all of us...dogs aren't stupid, they ride up front...to my garage where we found a suitable chain then I drove VDOT driver to his snow plow. He got in the plow and I followed on the road he'd already cleared. Seems the "folks" were elderly (which is what I thought I was so they must be ancient!) and we weren't sure how they were doing after a 30 minute wait. If need be, I would offer them a warm meal, hot liquid and a bed for the night but all the while hoping they were able to continue home. My face, all too plainly, shows my thoughts and my thoughts weren't very kindly toward people who would go joy riding in a blizzard putting themselves, and most of all others, in danger.


No, I did not hurry. They had heat and it would do no one (least of all me) any good if I hurried, slipped and finished tearing my ACL. I brought the VDOT driver inside, put him in front of the wood stove while I got the dogs and I ready. 

~ VDOT ~

At the bottom of the hill we met Jim, whose son/family live in the head of the Cove. He pulled over to let us know he had a chain and pulled those folks out of the ditch. That was no mean feat because Jim, due to health problems, isn't supposed to stress himself! (GO JIM!!) As Jim was relaying his message, the VDOT supervisor arrived so Jim left and I turned around to go home. As I pulled alongside the supervisor I opened my door and said, "I don't get to have any fun!" He started laughing and said he'd been pulling people out of ditches all day long so one more wasn't any big deal. Both men thanked me for my help and I reminded them they could always come to the house for warmth, food, hot liquid or sanctuary. Those men (and some women) have a difficult, frightening job and I like being available should they need help. The Deputy Sheriff's Dept knows the same; I like helping the folks who are helping keep me safe. 
~ the header photo in today's blizzard ~

A while back my brother asked me, "It's not like you have an actual job; what do you do all day?" I just laughed and said, "Come to the farm and try to keep up."

And, as I wind down...I look out the window and my neighbor is still out feeding his cattle. He's a mile away but I can see his lights as he spreads out either hay or silage so his cattle will have food for this dark and frigid night. One of the largest life lessons I've learned on this farm is...the work is never finished. A farmer only reaches a stopping point and then...stops. I've always strived to be as prepared as possible for any storm and then I sleep well at night. When I've done what I can do, I can do no more except trust God will see me, the animals and the farm safely through the night.

If you're breathing, thank God.
If you're reading this...thank a coal miner.
If you ate today...thank a farmer.
If you want to help with chores, call me for directions.

Blessings ~ God's answered prayer for strength and help ~ VDOT ~ Jim ~ coal miners ~ farmers ~ chores to keep me going ~

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