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Thursday, March 05, 2015

Thursday, It's a Sleety Day

On Thursdays, TexWisGirl hosts Good Fences at The Run*A*Round Ranch and since I've got the great fence under water photo, decided to link along. As an aside, some years back I used to live in Richmond, VA where there was a restaurant called Texas-Wisconsin Border Cafe (now closed) but were well known for good food, especially chili and Legend beer. (My mind slips, quite easily, from something to nothing, wouldn't you agree? Rather like those several, many, a lot of folks who come to mind because they are as substantial as fog and twice as vague. For some, holding onto a thought is as tenuous as chewing an oyster.) But I digress.

Yesterday, temps were well above freezing, perhaps even in the 40's and most of the snow melted. This morning, it's been sleeting since before dawn and shows no sign of The road that's under water is now under sleety ice and water and is life endangering but the only people out today are those who have to go to work, using SUV's, and neighbor's on tractors. Still, it's dangerous and, on days like today, I stay on the farm; no need to add another potential wreck to the treacherous mix.

The dogs have been having a gay ole time, dragging the two hind legs of a deceased deer around the yard. Perhaps some would look askance at such but it's a farm, they are dogs and 1 + 1 = 2. Maybe that's a giant leap for some but an easy stroll for me and for a lot of other farm dwellers. I saw Daddy John yesterday and he said one of last year's fawns was in his barn and looked half starved so was given feed.  The deep snows have been dreadful in length (more than two weeks of deep snow on the ground) and a lot of wildlife simply aren't going to survive.

These lambs will make it, due to size and good health. They're still on their mothers but have taken to going around in a pack of their own and will be weaned in a few weeks.

My exhaustion level is still high while the energy level is still low, and the pulled back muscles nag like a shrew while the dogs and I fight over their beds in front of the wood stove.

Dear Lord: I am quite ready to complain about the summer heat. Amen.

Blessings ~ still able after all these years ~ lambs and mothers ~ fences ~ sleet, because it's got to stop sometime...right?! ~

Wednesday, March 04, 2015

So Long, Farewell; It's Good to see the Last of February!

Scenes from February...making it not so very difficult to say good-bye.

Snow drifts (upper end) made it impossible to get the tractor out of the barn and on the lower end, the doors opened inward giving access to the tack room and hay loft.

High winds, with wind chills of 30 below zero tore a portion of the roof and work is due to start in the next week or so. This side of the roof is being totally replaced and will meld quite nicely with the rest of the roof.

Deep snows, then ice, then more deep snows

Due to heavy rains and spring thaw (and here I use the word euphemistically) Falling Rock has flooded the cave, leaving our road two feet under water. It's extremely dangerous yet I see cars crashing through like the surface is dry. Also, when they get through the other side, there's no evidence of brake lights being tapped to dry them and I wonder what happened when they got to that first nasty curve going downhill?

Today a driver delivered a load of silage to Daddy John but overshot and drove to the head of the Cove, a distance of about 2.5 miles. When he got to the end of Cove Road, he had to back down Cove Road, in reverse, in order to deliver the silage. I felt so badly for him but he was a champ, driving safely and with no ill humor.

The water is almost covering the fence posts and has torn down a section of fence and with tomorrow's three to six inches of snow expected, the fence might be pulled down totally; time will tell.

February has been treacherous, life threatening even and I'm glad to see the end of it. Hopefully the weather will remember its place and welcome spring with all due haste...gee, didn't realize that was going to rhyme...but I like it --lam--!

Blessings ~ warmer weather ~ rain, not snow or ice ~ someone to fix the roof ~ Downton Abbey because I'm just now watching the first four seasons and finding it enthralling ~ a daily nap which is helping my exhaustion ~

Sunday, March 01, 2015

Sabbath Keeping

"But the meek shall inherit the earth;
and shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace."
~ Psalms 37:11 ~

"When you focus on being a blessing,
God makes sure you are always blessed in abundance."
~ Joel Osteen ~

"Not what we have but what we enjoy constitutes our abundance." ~ Epicurus ~

"If God has given you the world's goods in abundance
it is to help you gain those of Heaven
and to be a good example of sound teaching
to your sons, servants and relatives."
~ St. Ignatius ~

"The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much, it is whether we provide enough for those who have little."
~ Franklin D. Roosevelt ~

"Abundance is a process of letting go;
that which is empty can receive."
~ Bryant H. McGill ~

"Talent is always conscious of it's own abundance and does not object to sharing."~ Solzhenitsyn ~

"You give because the love of God has been poured into your heart,
not to satisfy the law." ~ Sherry K. White ~

"Plant seeds of happiness, hope, success, and love;
it will all come back to your in abundance.
This is the law of nature."
~ Steve Maraboli

"The world is full of abundance and opportunity,
but far to many people come to the fountain of life with a sieve
instead of a tank car...a teaspoon instead of a steam shovel.
They expect little and therefore they get little."
~ Ben Sweetland ~
"God will overflow your cup, 
so grab the biggest one you can find." 
~ Rob Liano ~

"The enemy takes what isn't his.
Jesus gives from what is His.
Which are you more like?"
~ David McGee ~

"The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy.
I came that they may have life and have it abundantly."
~ John 10:10 ~

Prayer Keeping ~ Peggy ~ Pat and family ~  GJ and Bill ~ Noreen ~ Donna ~ Sandra ~

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Mind Your Moments Because Moments Matter

~ evening in the valley ~

It's extremely doubtful this post will dig any deeper due to extreme weather on God's part and extreme exhaustion on mine, yet, looking back at notes made last year, I see February 2014 was just as horrible and I lost three sheep - Harry and Sophie Shetland and my beloved Carly Shetland, age 21.

~ Carly Shetland ~

This morning, at 5:00 a.m. there's no promise of dawn much less of sunshine and it's only hope and perseverance that gets me out of bed. Well, perseverance and the fact Daisy wakes me because she needs to go outside. We all stumble downstairs and I open the back door to frigid temperatures, twice, and decide I might as well stay up and start a cup of coffee. Eventually, the sun shines and hope stirs that today might just be a tad more gentle than the rest of this month has been. Surely, February, you can end on a gentle note, eh?

~ this morning, 7 a.m. ~

Slow Living is what my life is called and it's mostly concerned with what I call "heat and eat" or what Abraham Maslow called a hierarchy of needs: "food, shelter, clothing". Should you click the link, you'll find an article saying Maslow's work "suggests people are motivated to fulfill basic needs before moving on to other, more advanced needs." I find enormous humor in that statement because, to my way of thinking, there are NO "more advanced needs". Certainly there are other needs, different needs, but "more advanced needs" It could be I haven't any idea what's meant by "more advanced needs" and I struggle to think of Work is what I do because I love to do it and am blessed to do it...the work of my hands and heart is tending to this farm, these animals and myself. Self-esteem? Again, so tied in with my work that it's impossible to tell where one ends and the other begins and I've never felt that way about any other job. Sure, I've always done my best when employed by others but those jobs didn't give satisfaction like this farm, possibly, due to the bosses I had. It's nigh on impossible for me to respect a boss anyone who isn't honorable, trustworthy or who is a Janus. Truth be told, I don't even try.

The article says there are five needs: psychological (survival needs - food, shelter, clothing); security (employment, safety); social (belonging, love); esteem (personal worth, recognition) and, the highest level, self-actualization (personal growth, less concerned with the opinions of others, fulfillment of potential). Again, amusement because Dave once told me, "I wish you cared, just a little bit, about what other people thought of you." My response, "Dave, I care enormously about the opinions of those whom I respect; the others...ummm, not so much." That's still true and it amazes me when people say, "What will people think?" and I'm blown away by the prospect people will think. What they think is between them and God and I've enough to answer for without concerning myself with someone else's judgement.

Slow Living means daily, the animals need food and fresh water and that means going to the barn, twice a day minimum, to throw out hay for the horses and chicken scratch for the guineas. Far too often to suit my body, ice has needed to be broken and removed from the water trough and for that I use a crowbar and pitchfork. I'd like to say of all the jobs, that job hurts the worse but then I remember pulling the fire wood from the barn (one hundred yards, all uphill) and how it took three days for my body to recover (if it has). It's hard work yet I take perverse pleasure in being able to do it and, when my spirit, yet again, faints at the prospect I remember so many stories told in Daddy's family and find the strength (due to God's mercy) to carry on.

I believe it was my third Great Grand Daddy and Grand Mother who made their way from central Virginia (late 1600's - early 1700's) to the Appalachian Mountains of (what is now) West Virginia. Joining a group of travelers, she and the smalls (toddlers, babe at breast, younger children and girls) drove their covered wagon loaded with supplies (food, clothing, cast iron cookware, etc.) and, crossing many mountains, headed to the new home place. Grand Daddy and the older boys drove the livestock in a different direction but they were all to meet at the new home stead in time to plant a late garden. When Grand Mother's group got to a river (can't remember which) they didn't realize spring rains had dislodged the marker and it had caught, downstream, in a different place but not realizing, she nudged the horses into the water. Before anything could be done, the wagon overturned; everything, and everyone, was claimed by the river. When Grand Daddy got to the home stead the caskets of his wife and children greeted him.

So my questions are these: why and how do people who don't know Jesus or have such stories keep going? What's their motivation? From where does their strength come?

It's a privilege go live here, on this farm, in this valley. Every day moments are mine to receive and they all matter because all are gifts. When someone would ask Aunt Bonnie, "Why have you never left the farm?" she would reply, "Why would I leave heaven on earth?" I believe she well and truly cultivated the gift of contentment and found joy in the moments because they mattered greatly to her.

The Canada Geese are back and staying at Maiden Springs where they have food and water

and Maiden Springs cave drips with ice that will take another few weeks to fully thaw. Camus said, "In the depth of winter, I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer." Summer is mine to claim as well; a merciful gift from God and the stories of family...those great clouds of witnesses gone on before.

I mind my moments because moments matter...greatly.

Blessings ~ Maiden Springs ~ my animals ~ witnesses ~ stories ~ heritage ~ winter ~ summer ~ moments ~

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Sabbath Keeping

"It was You who set all the boundaries of the earth;
You made both summer and winter."
~ Psalm 74:17 ~

"Hope springs eternal in the human breast;
  Man never is, but always To be blest:
The soul, uneasy and confin'd from home,
  Rests and expatiates in a life to come."
~ Alexander Pope, An Essay on Man, Epistle 1, 1722 ~

"She stood in the storm 
and when the wind did not blow her way,
she adjusted her sails."
~ Elizabeth Edwards

"Live in the sunshine
Swim the sea
Drink the wild air."
~ Emerson ~

"A friend is someone who knows the song in your heart,
and can sing it back to you when you've forgotten the words." ~ unknown ~

"Let us love winter for it is the spring of genius." ~ Pietro Aretino ~

"No winter lasts forever,
no springs skips its turn."
~ Hal Borland ~

"One kind word warms three winter months." ~ proverb ~

"Dear Winter:
I'm breaking up with you.
It's time to see other seasons."

"What a severe yet master artist old Winter is...
No longer the canvas and the pigments,
but the marble and the chisel."
~ John Burroughs, The Snow-Walkers, 1866 ~

"Spring, summer, and fall fill us with hope;
winter alone reminds us of the human condition."
~ Mignon McLaughlin

"Winter must be cold for those with no warm memories."
~ An Affair to Remember ~

"let there be a cottage... a real cottage... a white cottage, embowered with flowering shrubs, so chosen as to unfold a succession of flowers upon the walls, and clustering round the windows through all the months of spring, summer, and autumn - beginning, in fact, with May roses, and ending with jasmine. Let it, however, not be spring, nor summer, nor autumn - but winter, in his sternest shape. This is a most important point in the science of happiness. And I am surprised to see people overlook it, and think it matter of congratulation that winter is going; or, if coming, if not like to be a severe one. On the contrary, I put up a petition annually, for as much snow, hail, frost, or storm, of one kind or other, as the skies can possibly afford us. Surely every body is aware of the divine pleasures which attend a winter fire-side: candles at four o'clock, warm hearth-rugs, tea, a fair tea-maker, shutters closed, curtains flowing in ample draperies on the floor, whilst the wind and rain are raging audible without..."
~ Thomas De Quincey ~

"I wonder if the snow loves the trees and fields, that it kisses them so gently? And then it covers them up snug, you know, with a white quilt; and perhaps it says, "Go to sleep, darlings, till the summer comes again."
~ Lewis Carroll ~

"My old grandmother always used to say, Summer friends will melt away like summer snows, but winter friends are friends forever." ~ George R. R. Martin ~

"A lot of people like snow.
I find it to be an unnecessary freezing of water."
~ Carl Reiner

"The heart can get really cold if all you've known is winter."
~ Benjamin Alire Saenz ~

"I prefer winter and fall, when you feel the bone structure of the landscape - the loneliness of it, the dead feeling of winter. Something waits beneath it, the whole story doesn't show." ~ Andrew Wyeth ~

"Drive my dead thoughts over the universe
Like withered leaves to quicken a new birth!
  And, by the incantation of this verse,
Scatter, as from an unextinguished hearth
Ashes and sparks, my words among mankind!
  Be through my lips to unawakened earth
  The trumpet of a prophecy! O, wind,
If Winter comes, can Spring be far behind?"
~ Percy Bysshe Shelley

"Pray that your flight will not take place in winter
or on the Sabbath."
~ Matthew 24:20 ~

Prayer Keeping ~ Noreen ~ Grace ~ Donna ~ GJ & Bill ~ Quinn ~ Sandra ~

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Another Day, A Lot More Snow

Looks like the new chain method works rather well; the feeder was filled twice today and will be filled tomorrow morning, soon as it gets light.

Between Daddy John, Daniel and Clinton the road was plowed today; good thing because Joe, Clinton's helper was stuck again and couldn't get home.

The view from my back porch; the snow is even with the porch and difficult to see where to step off. All that nice plowing Daddy John did yesterday...for naught. We've had another foot of snow and more drifts of 2.5 feet; going to the barn is wearing me down and I made Sadie stay inside this morning. Even with her sweater, she gets cold; she and Sam will be six next month and I'm starting to treat her with gentle care. She doesn't have much of a coat and gets cold easily; no need to tempt pneumonia.

Sam needs a longer coat but not sure where to find one; when he comes in, his nose is covered in snow so I make him lie in front of the fire until he gets warm.

Charlie called to say the boys couldn't get here today to bring a load of wood and that's just as well...Charlie is calving and it's spirit crushing work. He's lost two calves because they froze due to deep snow and cold; most of the others he takes to the garage where there's a heater to warm them and keep them alive...calves and Charlie too.

My back porch wood supply was down to nothing...seriously not one stick of wood! when I went to do afternoon chores, I took the canvas log carrier with me and put six or seven biggish pieces of wood inside. Then, using a horse lead rope, I pulled it through the straps and placing each end over each shoulder and using a ski pole to help me walk, I hauled enough wood to last me through the night. Sadie is standing in the path the carrier made as I pulled it through the snow, a distance of about one hundred yards and all uphill; it's from the far back side of the barn in the right of the picture. Tonight is going to be a four aspirin night and a couple of fingers of B&B but I'm just glad I was able to do this although the pain level is beginning to increase throughout my shoulders, arms, legs, feet body. A couple of weeks ago when those mountain climbers got hung up in Washington state, Daddy said, "What on earth makes people do stuff like that?" My take is, "They don't have physical do any more and they need to expend energy and prove themselves." I'm not so much proving myself as just doing what it takes to keep us fed and warm and am, I do believe, as ready as I'll ever be to sell and move. It would kill Dave to know I want to leave but that was then and this is now; it's time for me to move forward and HEY GOD...I believe I'm ready -lol-.

As I've heard all my life...this is a sight for sore eyes. Not sure what it means but this is what I look like when I get in from the barn except I've removed my gloves. Most of this snow isn't from falling down, it's from the latest snow storm and high winds blowing fiercely. Weather report said six inches but it was more like twelve with drifts to my knees; Daniel said it was terrible off road and feeding the cattle was treacherous.

To the ejit who threw Daisy Mae on the side of the road...thank you. As it happens, that dog does hunt and it's a beautiful sound and sight.

Daisy brought home a raccoon this week; last week it was part of a deer but I don't think she killed the deer as it wasn't as "fresh" as the raccoon.

When I went outside to bring in my last few sticks of fire wood, I saw this sight and it brought tears to my eyes! Daniel blew the snow off the driveway and tomorrow the youngin's are coming to bring fire wood from the barn to the house. This makes it easier on them and it's going to be plenty rough enough, but, they're eighteen years old and probably won't feel a thing. I'm well more than three times older and I'm sure to feel it all...for them and me -lam-.

Weather report is rain, rain, rain and temps of 41 above; the wind has started up and sounds dreadful. Please Lord, keep my horses (and us at the house) safe. I fed double this afternoon and they have shelter...should they choose, so I've done what I can do, at least for today. Someone told me it was going to be slushy tomorrow but I don't care; at least, I don't think I care. I know it's going to be above freezing and, God willing, I'll get a load of firewood and right now that's enough...heck, it's more than enough!

Blessings ~ your prayers and don't mind asking for more ~ Daniel, blowing my driveway clear ~ enough wood to get me through the night 
~ safety, safety, safety ~

Friday, February 20, 2015

February 2015 Snowstorm

It's beautiful but it's also treacherous. I'm wading through 2.5 feet of snow to get to the barn and the dogs let me go first so I can break a path. It's just about to my knees and by the time I get back to the house, my pant legs are soaked. The snow is too deep to use the Ranger, which is in the shop anyway. Matt said he's going to try and bring it to me tomorrow (even though it's his day off!) but I waited to cry at his kindness until after we'd said good-bye.

 Yes, those are chains on the bird feeder; it's to keep it from being blown about by the wind and all the seed falling out. Those are two lengths of chain, about two feet each that's wrapped around the feeder and attached to the metal hanger. After all that, it didn't work so well so now the chain is in a long U around the feeder and then wrapped around the metal hanger. Tomorrow morning I'll be able to tell how well it works.

A gift this morning...a male cardinal at the feeder and such a bright spot of color in an otherwise white landscape. 

Another gift...a woodpecker who didn't want to wait his turn at the feeder. There are times the woodpeckers will eat birdseed but the feeder needs to be vacant.

I don't have photos of the ice in the horse'll have to trust me when I tell you this morning it was 3.5 inches thick. I'm using a crow bar to break the ice and a pitchfork to lift it out of the trough. By the time I get back to the house, I no longer feel my hands and that's a good thing because when they do warm up, they've moved from aching to actual pain. Quinn and I e-mailed, she's in the same boat...joints aching from use/abuse, weary from slogging through snow to tend to the animals, exhausted sleep. Heck, it's winter in Vermont for her and it's winter in Appalachia for me...although, come to think of it, it might be winter in Appalachia for her as well. hmmmm...

Sam and Sadie wear their sweaters when we go outside; Sadie is cheerful about wearing her sweater but sometimes Sam says NO! He's funny, I'll call him, "Come Sam, put on your sweater" and he'll look at me, lower his head and turn his back. That's when I say, so freeze you ejit! The dogs are standing in one of two bare spots, where the wind blew the snow off the ground. 

Tonight there were thirteen deer at Daddy John's silage pit; the snow is laying deep and it's getting harder and harder for the deer to find food. Sometimes you can see them lined up with the cattle, eating hay that's been spread on the ground.

VA Dept of Highways and Transportation have a plow or snow blower, not sure what it's called but it's fabulous! When the driver came to my driveway, he stopped the blower so he didn't block my driveway...BLESS HIM!

After morning chores, on my hands and knees I...and the Good Lord above...worked on getting the snow and ice away from the granary doors so I could get the 4-Runner out. It took a lot of work, a lot of prayer but, eventually I was successful and drove down to Daddy John's to ask a favor. I asked if he would use his tractor to mush down the snow in my driveway because the young men are delivering a load of black locust to my back porch tomorrow (!!!!!!!!!!...ah, excuse me while I have a joyful fit!) but the driveway was full of snow. He said, "No problem, I told you to let me know when you needed help."

Well, I hate to ask unless it's something I simply cannot do and I don't want to wear out my welcome so I'm sparing when it comes to asking for favors. When I came home from errands (dog food, cat food, cat litter, dog treats, and coffee and apples for me), the driveway was PLOWED! Daddy John didn't just mush down the snow...he PLOWED the driveway! O HALLELUJAH! I drove my car right up to the back porch, unloaded the not so heavy stuff and will ask the young men if they'll unload the dog food and cat litter tomorrow. (I'm saving my strength to carry square bales of hay to the horses...not kidding either.) I'm fixing the youngin's a pan of shortbread to hand to them with their money. (pssssttt...they charge $70 for a truckload of black locust that they deliver and stack exactly where I want it! jealous yet?)

I know this post is disjointed and stiff but I'm just happy to still be able to do what I do. I go to bed early, get up early and in between time do physical labor better suited for someone half my age. Thank God I'm able to do it but, yes, I am looking forward to warmer temps and, eventually, spring. Weather report is calling for another six inches of snow by tomorrow late afternoon then a "wintry mix" which means cold, icy, sleety krap falling from the sky and making everything life threatening. I use two ski poles to get to the barn; the good news is every time I've fallen down, it hasn't hurt...blessing! I'm not even promising to visit around Faith says, "I'm not being mean or anything but I. am. wore. slam. out and it's all I could do to give this update.

Your prayers are welcome, needed and greatly appreciated. If you're covered in snow, be careful and don't go if you don't have to go. Today was the first time off the farm since last Saturday and not sure when I'll be able to leave again but not sure I care much either. Someone asked me, "Oh, aren't you loving all that time to read, knit, etc." I hate to admit this but by the time I get in from chores, pretty much all I do is sit, stare out the window or listen to preaching and rest until it's time to go back out; thank God I'm able to go.

Be safe out there, ya hear.

Blessings ~ Daddy John plowed driveway ~ soft snow ~ able to go to town for errands ~ fire wood delivered ~ ski poles ~ birds at feeder ~ dog sweaters ~ considerate VDOT employees ~ 
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