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Saturday, August 27, 2005

Making Hay While the Sun Shines

So many of our sayings have their roots in agriculture...making hay while the sun shines, broadcast seeds and...memory fails me right now for more. Yesterday we made hay, all the while racing against the storm that threatened to overshadow us and ruin the hay. Hay that's been rained upon is good only for cattle or sheep or other four stomached animals...but not equines. Hay that's put up wet can mold and this can be a cause of severe ill ness or even death in horses.

The usual run of events is cut hay one day, kick or fluff it the next and bale it the next. Kicking or fluffing hay means to flip it over causing the dry top side to be underneath the, now on top, wetter hay that was next to the ground. At Thistle Cove Farm, we usually have the first cutting in July and it's put up into round bales which weigh around eleven hundred pounds each. These round bales are moved by use of the tractor and a spear; very dangerous but I go really, really slowly, take my time and use all precautions. The second cutting is put up into square, actually rectangle, bales which can weigh anywhere from sixty-five to seventy-five to one hundred pounds. It all depends upon how the baler is set. Yesterday the baler was set to a minimum of seventy-five pounds and around three and a half to four feet in length. All of which means, I'd better increase my time at Curves from three days a week to five! These bales have to be hand handled; this winter, I'll have to carry them the length of the hay loft, drop them to the ground below and then life and load them into my Workhorse to be distributed to the animals. It's a lot like cutting firewood...I get warmed a lot because the hay is handled many times prior to be eaten by the horses and sheep.

It was a l-o-n-g day yesterday and very stressful. The hurricane, Katrina, is supposed to send us some wet thunderstorms. There's also a storm coming down from the lakes so we spent the afternoon and evening racing against the rain. God was so good in that He held the rain at bay and we put up DRY hay! Thank you, God! Yes, I'm one of "those people" who believe in prayer, but, more importantly, I believe God hears my/our prayers. I kept reminding Him of how He had stilled the storm for the disciples and how He's the same yesterday, today and forever. Yes, it was more for my account than His but my memory is such a poor servant, it helps me keep life in perspective.

We put up hay on shares as well as share our barn space and the young folks worked like Trojans yesterday. I don't swing hay bales anymore but will drive the tractor, pulling the wagon, to collect hay bales to be stored in the barn. I make sure everyone who wants to eat, has a hot meal at the end of our day. I cooked and fed in two shifts yesterday; the first group eating around seven p.m. and the second around eleven p.m. I'd rather have more food than too little food and, while the table didn't look like the tables I remember from childhood, I still managed to put on a good feed, as they say. Folks ate sliced cantaloupe, sliced tomatoes, corn, green beans with bacon, baked potatoes and onions, chicken sausage, kielbasa sausage, Brunswick stew, home made biscuits, sweet tea, lemonade and homemade apple pie. Never let it be said anyone walks away from *my* table and is still hungry! --grinning at my own silly self here-- My female kith and kin would have my hide for such an egregious sin.

We had a bit of mist but no rain; when I went to the farmers' market this morning, I found they had had a downpour resulting in standing water. All this only twenty miles up the road. It's a small farmers' market but I like buying locally and from folks I know. The sweet corn was picked only minutes before I bought it and will be nice served with butter beans. The red and yellow tomatoes are sweet when served with just a touch of sea salt. The market was smaller this morning because of the rain but I chatted with folks and enjoyed the outing.

I stopped by the library and picked up some books on tape, some hard backed books and bought some paper back books from the sale table. I'll listen to the books on tape while I weave my rag run or knit. The hard back books I'll read whilst ensconced on the chaise lounge on the back porch. I'm taking two whole days off...OH JOY! I'm taking today off because I had close to a twenty hour day yesterday and my "old bones" need a wee bit more recovery time than they used to need. I'll take tomorrow, Sunday, off because I keep the Sabbath and only do that work which is necessary. That means feeding the animals, going to church and doing whatever emergency work crops up, if any.

When we first moved to the farm, I didn't observe the Sabbath, I'd go to church in the morning and then come home and work...as in physical labor. It took me years and a Bible study on the Andy Griffith series, to realize people keep the Sabbath for a very good reason. It's impossible to work seven days a week for any length of time and not pay the price. The price is usually sickness or illness or accident or the family suffers due to impatience, grouchiness, churlishness, pettiness and the like. I believe I'm a better person for keeping the Sabbath; Dave agrees with me and we both enjoy a day of rest and relaxation.

By having a day, or two, of R&R I can hit the floor Monday at a run. I can enter my work week refreshed and relaxed, ready to do the work God sets before me. Without sacrificing today, I'm already looking forward to Monday.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Summer is slowing

Each morning the fog lies heavy, so heavy that we can only see a few yards before the white mist obliterates all. I've heard there's a correlation between the number of fogs in August and the number of snows to follow. If that's the case, we're up to 25 snows and counting. We've had fog every morning this month and that's not unusual. Temperatures are dropping as well and the 50 degree F nights make for pleasant sleeping. Day temps are still in the high 80's but that's bearable knowing that night brings coolness.

Last weekend we had a covered dish dinner for my nephew who is home from the Air Force. Seeing the man he's becoming, the self confidence and assurance he possesses, makes me think our country is the poorer for not having a draft. So many young people seem to be adrift, without any direction, so angry and bitter. I was raised with a strong work ethic and, while it's true I've fought being a work-a-holic in my day, it's also true I've never been bored. I'm blessed in that I've got meaningful work in my life and one of my daily prayers is "Please God, give me the strength to do the work you've set before me."

Can one have a life worth living without having meaningful work? I don't think so. I believe work is a gift and meaningful work...work which gives us joy and pleasure and a reason for being...is also a blessing.

As a society, we seem to have lost our pride in a job well done. We no longer give our employer a full days work in exchange for an agreed upon wage. We've forgotten that, for a good many of us, we *do* have a choice. Change is difficult and sometimes overwhelming but most of us have the power to make changes in our lives that will turn us topsy turvy. What we lack is the courage to make those changes.

School has started as has my class at Concord University. I teach Tourism Promotions and have about a dozen students this semester. I try and make them understand how vital it is for them to find the work that will enrich their lives; that will allow them to bloom and blossom as periennals and not as annuals. Life is for the long haul, I hope, and I want life in my years as well as years in my life.

Erma Bombeck once said (paraphrased) when she died she wanted to stand in Heaven, before God, empty handed, and say, "I haven't brought anything back; I used it all up." What an incredible life well lived!

Each day we touch the lives of others, either in a positive or in a negative way. I want God to say to me just like the Knight said in the Indiana Jones movie, "You chose wisely."

I challenge you...each and every time you leave your home, pay a total stranger a compliment. If circumstances prevent you from leaving your home you can still play. Tell the clerk at the grocery store you appreciate her patience. Tell the auto mechanic "thank you for doing such a good job on my car." Give the person on the other end of the telephone line a nice compliment. Tell someone, anyone something nice...at least once a day. Cast your good bread upon the waters; treat others the way you'd like to be treated; put out good karma.

Don't pay it back; pass it forward and make it something that will cause people to remember you kindly...if not in total surprise. Then, reap the benefits of choosing, and acting, wisely.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

R&R and the speed of life

Last night I was so pleased to be able to take the time to sit down and update my blog. Folks who update on a daily basis have my utmost admiration! It's not such an onerous job but it does take time from an already crowded schedule. So, I updated, was quite pleased with the results I must say, hit the submit button and **CRASH**...lost everything including my sanity. Ah well...such is life.

Dave and I have just returned from a vacation to San Francisco, northern California and southern Oregon. One highlight was salmon fishing on the Rogue River where Dave caught a thirty-two pound salmon and I a ten pound salmon. They took Dave's photo and gave him a "30 pound club" pen for his hat; they let me watch.

We walked the hills of SF until we were both exhausted but walked through China Town and had some dim sum for lunch. On a street corner, a woman was hawking her family's restaurant so we followed her and ate lunch. The food was good and we enjoyed the little break. We saw the Golden Gate Bridge, before the fog set in, the rock that's called Alcatraz, which looks forboding and forlorn, and the usual street party happenings at Fisherman's Wharf and Gheradelli Square. We wanted to ride the street cars but the waiting line was several hundred people long...our desire was outdistanced by our common sense. We hailed a cab instead.

We took Dave's GPS which was a stress reducer and time saver. I drove and he navigated and we made out just fine. I drove over the Golden Gate Bridge, going and coming, and that was fun. We headed to Petaluma where Knitterly Yarn Shop is located with great staff and selection. They gave us a short cut to #1 Highway which is the Coastal Highway and that was one of our primary "tourism destinations". The Coastal Highway goes up the coast with breathtaking scenery of both the Pacific Ocean and the dramatic cliffs that hug the ocean. We eventually made our way through the Redwood Forest and that was awe inspiring. As high as the eye can see and the neck can crane the trees go up, up, up, up. My God is an awesome God.

Grants Pass is where Dave spent his early years and we saw the house where he remembers living. He called his sister and mother, back on the East Coast, and they tripped down memory lane. The Grants Pass Farmers' Market is the oldest in southern Oregon and just filled with fabulous food, hand made crafts and a white woman with dreadlocks singing her folk song heart out. That was a sight...a white woman with dreadlocks singing folks songs. It seemed a bit incongruous to me but she did have a lovely voice. Away from the ocean the heat was dreadful! It was supposed to be around 100 that day and one farmer told me, "oh but it's a dry heat." Right...like hot isn't hot if you're not sweating. Trust me, it was still hot but the only difference between East Coast heat and West Coast heat is I wasn't stewing in my juices.

Back to the coast where we enjoyed lovely cool temps, lots of fog and, at the Albion River Inn a fire in the fireplace if we were awake. How lovely is the ARI...it overlooks where the Albion River enters the Pacific Ocean and the scenery is breathtaking! We did some major rest and relaxation and our entertainment was reading, knitting or simply gazing out the window. No televisions available; those ARI folks have their priorities straight.

The Mendocino Yarn Shop is, quite simply, fabulous. The owner is a truly delightful woman who is very free with her knowledge, her time and her self. She was moving next door into a larger building and was having a sale in the old shop. What Bliss! To find a yarn shop having a major sale...some serious burning was done of the the old credit cards and I was happy to do it. I found a copy of a Mission Falls pattern book I didn't have; Mags K. is the Mission Falls designer and probably my favorite. I enjoy looking at her patterns as much as I enjoy knitting them. If anyone knows her, please pass along the compliment...her work is terrific.

On the flight out, we were stranded in Charlotte, NC airport for five hours but I wasn't bored. I always take my knitting,...along with the TSA page that says knitting needles are allowed...and I sat in the main terminal, in a rocking chair, and whiled away the hours. I met three other knitters, one of whom I had read about in a earlier issue of Spin-Off Magazine. It was a charming and delightful way to pass time while waiting for our new flight connection.

We've been home a few days, have settled back into a routine and are happy to be here. Vacation is most heartily recommended, especially those that are longer than a long weekend. Three days are nice but, somehow, don't quite give the same amount of stress reduction as does a longer vacation. For the next few months we'll eat smoked salmon and relive our fishing adventures. Last night we had a supper of warmed smoked salmon over a bed of mesculin greens with dried cherries and a vinaigrette dressing. It was worthy of being served in a restaurant!

Time is approaching for school to start, craft festivals to begin and autumn is coming. It seems almost too soon we're getting ready for cooler and colder weather, long johns, boots and woolens. I did take a lot of photos and did buy a lot of post cards while on vacation so will have those to remind me of good times.

Now if I could just figure out *how* to get photos on this blog!
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