Saturday, August 30, 2014

Taking a Break

"There are far, far better things ahead than any we leave behind."
~ C. S. Lewis ~ 

There is simply nothing left to give.
Hopefully, that will change.
In the meantime, as God brings you to mind, 
you'll be tucked in prayer.
Please, return the kindness.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Faces of Appalachia

~ fawn and cat on my brother's WV farm ~
As I've gotten older (thank God!), my to-do list and my ability to complete that list seem to be in direct conflict. It just takes so much longer and so much more energy to accomplish what needs to be done, leaving what I want to do, still on the list. Ah well. I'm glad I've got that problem instead of "absent in the body, present with the Lord". Don't get me wrong...I'm ready to go but I'm not homesick and, as energy depleted as I generally am, this life suits me fine and dandy.
~ Daddy and Mom, celebrating their 60th wedding anniversary, the same day Dave died ~
You may know, I live in Appalachia and Thistle Cove Farm is the result of a prayer made when I was six years old. Daddy and Mom are both from Appalachian mountain stock and farming families, and the prayer of the girl I once was, asked God to, "please let me live on a farm and have animals." His timing isn't my our timing and it took more than three decades for that prayer to come to fruition. Along the way, I've collected photographs of all things mountain beautiful and hope you enjoy as much as do I.
My small flock of Shetlands, Romney's, and Merino's were, generally, easy to deal with. Sometimes, the horns on a Shetland would grow curling into the side of their face. When that happened, Daniel would take a fine wire and saw off the horn tip. Someone had to hold the sheep's head (I wasn't never strong enough) in order to keep things safe for human and animal. I like this photo...the intensity of Daniel as he saws off the horn, the muscle strength of Clinton's arms while holding the sheep. 
Old Mother Hubbard goes to festivals and tells stories both American Native and Aesop. She's local color in southwest VA, probably throughout the eastern TN/KY region as well and is a delight. I don't know her Christian name but, if you're interested, you could do a search and find out. She's been written up in several newspapers and been interviewed on various television programs.
The definition of tolerance is " the ability or willingness to tolerate something, in particular the existence of opinions or behavior that one does not necessarily agree with." In other words, please don't send snarky notes about bear hunting or hunters. This gentleman killed this bear for both food and pelt while it was legal to do so...bear hunting season. 
In 2013 Dalton, and his sister, Kim, helped demonstrate butter making at the county fair. He took his job seriously yet managed to enjoy the process.
Kim, Dalton's sister.
 Leslie Shelor, Greenberry House, demonstrates big wheel spinning around the region. 
 The Shockley Old Timey Days festival is in Hillsville, VA. It's one of the best little festivals around, imho, and characters this gentleman and his vintage antique truck. They aren't the best at updating their information so if you want to go, best call first for correct dates.
 This old feller demonstrates shocking hay...putting it into huge shocks, or stacks, so weather will run off of and not into the hay. I've traveled in Eastern Europe and this is is the way farmers still store their hay and even leave the edges of the field for others (widows) to glean. It's very Old Testament and Biblical; click here for more information and another way of seeing.
This kindly woman demonstrated churning and had the churn her grandmother used. I love it when generations pass on the tools and the knowledge of how to do things. 
Emily, helping John, her son, put up my hay. Emily is also an Episcopalian minister, serving at Christ Episcopal Church in Marion, VA and serves on a number of boards, all relating to agriculture. 
Clinton Bell, a neighbor, still moves his cattle and sheep the way he was taught...while on horseback. 

Someone told me this woman is 94 years old and she's still lifting a leg to clog at the Whitetop Mountain Ramp Festival in Grayson County. The Ramp Festival benefits the  Mount Rogers Volunteer Fire and Rescue Squad. Ramps are a delicacy in the Appalachians with those of us who love them LOVE THEM and those of us who don't...are Philistines. (joke!) Ramps are classified as wild onions and taste like a blend of onion and garlic, are fairly strong and best when fried up with potatoes and sausage.
Bud Thompson, smithy, demonstrates in the area and used to demonstrate on Thistle Cove Farm. This is one of my favorite photographs...looks rather Old World, don't you think?
Charlie Butcher, dulcimer maker who also makes other instruments. I've got one of the first dulcimers he ever made and it sounds just as sweet now as it did almost twenty years ago.
Jeff, my cousin's husband, harvesting Wolf River apples. Wolf River and Summer Rambo apples are my favorite apples!
Robert Woods and Daddy, checking on the bee hives. Neither of them have ever worn bee gear; they believe if you handle the bees gently and calmly, they won't become agitated and sting. Robert added, "And never after having an argument with your wife!" 
There are four distinct seasons in least the Appalachia where I live. Each one is special and loved for its own reasons. My Grandfather died in November 1959, when I was five years old, and it was a cold, wintery, blustery day. It was, in one word: Appalachia. Even though Appalachian winters are harsh, I love them just the same and they call to mind my kith and kin of past days. My people have always been intimately connected with "heat and eat" and it's no different for me now. As long as I have oil in the furnace, wood for the wood stove and propane in the tank and cook stove Appalachian winters can be enjoyed and not just tolerated. Now that my sheep and alpacas are gone, my work load has been cut by twenty-six animals; I expect I'll do just fine this winter. Just like all those winters gone before. 

Hopefully, you've enjoyed these photos; it's difficult putting "some" on the blog when I've more than 20,000  from which to choose. These aren't all my favorites but are only some of my favorites either because I dearly love the people or the places they call to mind. In a day and age when folks aren't, seemingly, interested in being solely an "American", I am. In fact, I'm proud of the fact I'm a "double" Appalachian American. 

My heart wouldn't have it any other way.

Blessings ~ people ~ land ~ animals ~

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Sabbath Keeping

~ Sadie Lovebug ~

"Through all this, Job did not sin nor did he blame God."
~ Job 1:22 ~

"Some people's blameless lives are to blame for a good deal." ~ Dorothy Sayers ~
"If your daily life seems poor, 
do not blame it; 
blame yourself that you are not poet enough to call forth its riches; 
for the Creator, there is no poverty." 
~ Rainer Marie Rilke ~
"We are taught you must blame your father, your sisters, your brothers, the school, the teachers - but never blame yourself. It's never your fault. But it's always your fault because if you wanted to change, you're the one who has got to change." ~ Katherine Hepburn ~
"A good leader takes more than his share of the blame,
a little less than his share of the credit."
~ Arnold H. Glasow ~
"The search for a scapegoat is the easiest of all hunting expeditions." 
~ Dwight D. Eisenhower ~
"Sinful heart blames."
~ Toba Beta ~
"My life motto is Do my best so I can't blame myself for anything." ~ Magdalena Neuner ~
"We may place blame, give reasons, and even have excuses; but in the end, it is an act of cowardice to not follow your dreams." ~ Steve Maraboli
"You can't blame gravity for falling in love."
~ Albert Einstein ~
"A man can fail many times but he isn't a failure until he begins to blame somebody else."
~ John Burroughs
"If you reveal your secrets to the wind,
you should not blame the wind 
for revealing them to the trees."
~ Khalil Gibran ~
"Blame has no purpose and it is a lousy teacher." ~ John Yokoyama
"One of the ways that people avoid taking responsibility for their role in their own pain is what I call the BP's...blame and projection." ~ Iyania Vanzant
"Great tranquility of heart is his who cares for neither praise nor blame." 
~ Thomas a Kempis ~
"When you blame others, you are affirming that you have no power, and your existence is only a reaction to the power of others...Until you stop blaming and become positively self-critical you are not going to move forward...Blame anchors us into the past; a place we cannot change. Acceptance frees us to the future...Empowerment is never about blame; it is about taking personal responsibility...Stop blaming and start being!" ~ Bryant McGill ~

"Let no one say when he is tempted, "I am tempted by God";
for God cannot be tempted by evil, 
nor does He Himself tempt anyone."
~ James 1:13

Please let me know if you have a name you'd like added to the prayer list.

Prayer Keeping ~ Christians in Iraq ~ James Foley family ~ Christians serving in military and government ~ Christians in Muslim countries ~ Evey ~

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Sabbath Keeping

"As for God, His way is perfect;
The Word of the Lord is tried:
He is a buckler to all them who trust in Him."

"The most important lesson that I have learned is to trust God in every circumstance. Lots of times we go through different trials and following God's plan seems like it doesn't make any sense at all. God is always in control and He will never leave us."  
~ Allyson Felix ~
"Calmness is how we show we're trusting God." ~ SKB ~
"Disappointment is inevitable. But to become discouraged, there's a choice I make. God would never discourage me. He would always point me to Himself to trust Him. Therefore, my discouragement is from Satan. As you go through the emotions that we have, hostility is not from God, bitterness, unforgiveness, all of these are attacks from Satan." ~ Charles Stanley ~
"I know God won't give me anything I can't handle. I just wish He didn't trust me so much." ~ Mother Teresa ~
"I trust God with my life.
After all, He gave it to me."
~ unknown ~
"It's not about me telling Him what I want. It's about trusting Him to do things the way He wants me to do them." ~ Shawneda ~
"Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God." ~ Corrie ten Boom ~
"Love people but put your trust in God. Love people but put your full trust only in God."
 ~ Lawrence Welk ~
"Trust in God and keep your powder dry." ~ Oliver Cromwell ~
"Trust is not a passive state of mind. It is a vigorous act of the soul by which we choose to lay hold on the promises of God and cling to them despite the adversity that at times seeks to overwhelm us." ~ Jerry Bridges
"I trust in God, especially in silence." ~ SKB ~
"It's not can you trust God, it's whether you can trust Him in His timing. "
~ Liz Curtis Higgs ~
"Trust God. Father knows best." ~ SKB ~

"Do not let your hearts be troubled.
Trust in God; trust also in me."
~ Jesus, John 14:1-4 ~

If you have a name for the prayer list, please let me know. Around the world, people are praying.

Prayer Keeping ~ Jim ~ Sue ~ Donna ~ Jim ~ Petal ~ Maas ~ Sandra ~

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

10 Things Thistle Cove Farm Has Taught Me

~ Sandra and Sadie ~
I've been churning butter since last Thursday; finally finished Sunday afternoon. In case you're wondering, there's a little more than eight pounds to a gallon of cream. One pound of cream yields around one-half pound of butter and ten gallons of Jersey cream made somewhere between around forty+ pounds of butter. Maybe more but, frankly, I am so tired my brain stopped working sometime Friday. Maybe Thursday night; it's all a blur.

Suffice it to say, I will never, ever, as God is my witness (shades of Scarlet), be talked into buying ten gallons of Jersey cream again. At least not at one time. Nor will I never, ever churn more than two gallons at one time. Ever. Unless there's serious money involved which means I'm probably safe.

I'll blog about Churning 101 later but it needs to be told, at two separate times, my dasher broke and I churned with my right hand only. I never knew it could be done either but, it's been said, necessity is the mother of invention, and I proved that right.

P. S. NOTE: I lied. Not intentionally but lied nonetheless. Tonight, I was putting the kitchen to rights, before taking my shower so I could then pass out which is what I call sleep after such a bone crushing day, and found the gallon enamel covered bowl containing whipping cream. O lawz. I thought I was done and finished but noooooo. It took an extra hour but I made another four pounds of hand and by hand, I mean working the whipped cream like making bread until it separated into buttermilk and butter. Another four pounds of butter. I swear, the first ten people who call me will gifted with one-half pound of home churned butter. 

It's been raining since Saturday morning and today, in the middle of the day, we had 3 hours of sunshine. I took advantage of sunshine to climb on the tractor and move hay from the middle to the edge of the field. I hate for hay to stand where it was baled; it makes dead places in the pasture and every dead place means nothing will grow...except weeds which aren't wanted. Moving hay bales gave me time to think and what I thought about was what I've learned on the farm. Many, many lessons but these ten are worthy to be told now...imho...grin!

1.  Chores get me out of bed.

2.  Farm work is hard but it keeps me strong and moving forward.

3.  When I'm prepared for the storm, I can sleep through the night.

4.  Nature is the supreme white noise.

5.  God is stronger than my tears or fears.

6.  Each dawn begins a new day to get it right.

7.  Schemes and dreams are very different.

8.  Solitude is golden.

9.  The perfect ratio: 6 days for work, 1 day for rest.

10. It's easier to step in manure than get it off my boots.

Sure hope you've enjoyed these ten things and, perhaps, some of them might apply to you and your situation. If they do, let me know which and how, 'k?

Blessings ~ chores, nature ~ dawn ~ God ~ churning ~ butter milk ~ butter ~

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Sabbath Keeping

~ HayJ, American Curly horse x Percheron ~
"He counts the number of the stars
He calls them all by name."

"When it is dark enough, you can see the stars." ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson ~
"I will love the light for it shows me the way
yet I will endure the darkness because it shows me the stars."
"Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars and change the world."
~ Harriet Tubman ~
"Yours is the light by which my spirit's born:
-you are my sun, my moon, and all my stars."
"Moonlight drowns out all but the brightest stars.
~ J. R. R. Tolkien ~
"Silently, one by one, in the infinite meadows of heaven,
Blossomed the lovely stars, the forget-me-nots of the angels."
"Shoot for the moon and if you miss, you'll still be among the stars." ~ unknown ~
"Though my soul may set in darkness, it will rise in perfect light;
I have loved the stars too fondly to be fearful of the night."
"For my part, I know nothing with any certainty, but the sight of the stars makes me dream." ~ Vincent Van Gogh ~
"God writes the Gospel not in the Bible alone, but also on trees and in the flowers and clouds and stars." ~ Martin Luther ~
"Keep your eyes on the stars and your feet on the ground." ~ Teddy Roosevelt
"Jump into the middle of things, get your hands dirty, fall flat on your face, and then reach for the stars." ~ Ben Stein
"Two things fill the mind with ever-increasing wonder and awe, the more often and the more intensely the mind of thought is drawn to them: the starry heavens above me and the moral law within me." ~ Immanuel Kant ~
"stars are the scars of the universe." ~ Ricky Maye
"What wretched poverty of language! To compare stars to diamonds!"
~ Gustave Flaubert ~
"Art is everywhere you look for it, hail the twinkling stars for they are God's careless splatters." ~ El Greco ~
"Just remember this, my girl, when you look up in the sky you can see the stars and still not see the light." ~ Jack Tempchin ~

"so that you may be blameless and pure,
children of God who are faultless in a crooked and perverse generation.
among whom you shine like stars in the world."

Blessings ~ tonight: Perigee Moon ~ August 10-13 Perseid Meteor Shower ~

If you'd like a name added to the prayer list, please let me know.

Prayer Keeping ~ Jim ~ Donna ~ Evey ~Sandra ~ 

Wednesday, August 06, 2014

Time is Fleeting...Wear Purple Now

~ turkey vulture or buzzard ~

"Time is fleeting and I'm not waiting to wear purple
Or red or kiwi or orange or magenta or any other color

I'll spend my time sitting under the sunflowers while 
the mares snuffle my hair and kittens play in my lap

Today I'll take my knitting to the pasture and 
chance a wet bottom when I sit on the ground
Samuel and Carly will nuzzle my pockets for treats of corn 
while the other sheep bleat at their boldness

My needles will lie quietly as I watch birds float 
on unseen columns of wind
The barn swallows and goldfinches and robins and 
even the buzzards will bring me joy on their outstretched wings

Tonight at midnight the dogs and I will walk in the pasture
I'll whisper secrets to the horses and sheep
I'll look for falling stars and the big and little dipper and will nail Orion's belt with the north star

I'll drink good wine and strong beer and sweet water
I'll eat chocolate for breakfast and pastry for lunch
mix cream in my flavored coffee and turn up my nose at 
powdered milk and ill mannered people

Tomorrow I'll give compliments to perfect strangers and 
speak to people on the street just to watch their reactions 
as I grin at my silly self

I've worn hats for over thirty years and see no need to stop
I'll not waste happiness on tomorrow but spend it willy nilly today
Time is fleeting and I'm wearing purple now."

Sandra Bennett, copyright 2004 and first published June 20, 2005 and here, May 21, 2009.

As you can see, I wrote this poem in 2004 and it seems donkey's years ago! My point is, don't wait. Don't wait for "someday" or "when I have time" or "when I retire" or "when I don't have anything else to do". That day will never come, I promise you and, in the meantime, life is fleeting. With each and ever breath we're getting closer to our end and happiness, joy, contentment, peace, satisfaction, love, life can't wait. It won't wait so you might as well jump on the bandwagon and make a joyful noise.
Turkey vultures are a common warm weather sight around here. In the winter, I think the scavengers are foxes, coyotes, bobcats and the like. They are the Hoovers of the animal world and do road kill clean up and, I think, are sorely under-appreciated by a lot of folks. 
While perched, they like to steady their balance by outstretching their wings and, in the early mornings, they hold their wings thusly in order to dry the dew from their bodies.
Even though they have one of the most detestable jobs on the planet, I find them beautiful. They soar on the wind thermals but aren't as graceful when they fly and smaller birds torment them by chasing them around the sky. It's truly comical.
I always honk my horn when I come upon one in the road. I hate to disturb someone when they're working and, even worse, hate to kill something. I'll invite gents here to shoot groundhogs all day long but I'll go out of my way not to kill one with the car. 
Yeah, I know, it makes no sense a'tall.

The day is wearing thin and the car is packed with my butter churning equipment. Soon, I need to grab a few ice packs, the camera and a few other dribs and drabs and skeedaddle out of here. When I get home tomorrow afternoon, I'll make some buttermilk cat head biscuits, get out the home made 'lasses and serve it all with fresh churned butter. If I remember, I'll make some fresh cottage cheese as well. Don't you know I'll have more "friends" than Warren Buffet tomorrow!

Blessings ~ turkey vultures or buzzards ~ home churned fresh butter ~ buttermilk ~ cottage cheese ~ wearing purple now ~ life ~

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