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I am Sandra - faithful steward. listener. shepherd. dream believer. hard worker. collects brass bells, boots. Jesus follower. contented. star gazer. homemaker. farmer. prayer warrior. country woman. reader. traveler. writer. homebody. living life large.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Rain....blessed rain!

The drought is over and rain is heaven's gift to the thirsty land. We've actually got water standing in the pastures; not that it's been a hard rain but rather it's been a constant rain. I adore the rain, whether doing my farm chores or sitting on the back porch just waching the animals and the rain.

Today, the air has been so humid it depletes my energy...what a lovely reason for porch sitting! But, depleated energy leaves little strength left over for even the simple act of breathing. At times I must concentrate on drawing in a breath deep, and, after holding it for a moment or two, release it slowly, carefully so as not to give in to the vertigo of a quick release.

It seems the most joyous of life's moments are like a deep breath. Compelling, fulfilling but ephemeral and, all too soon, a memory destined to fade all too quickly.

A favorite author is Jeanine McMullen, I try and read her books every year. She's an expat Aussie who bought a smallholding in Wales and her books are the tale of her farm journey. A Small Country Living, A Small Country Living Goes On and The Wind in the Ash Tree are so well written and I always laugh until I cry at some of her experiences. She loves her animals as much as I love mine and their personalities are as real to me as any human I've ever met. I would love to meet Ms McMullen, better yet in Wales over a cuppa and with one of her books in my hand. If any of you know her, please tell her I'm a great admirer.

Recently someone gave me a wonderful compliment... they said my writing reminded them of Gladys Tabor; what a kind comparison! She wrote so many books of her life at Stillmeadow; a 1950's Connecticut farm with so many memories put to paper, with accompanying photos.

She said, "We need time to dream, time to remember, and time to reach the infinite. Time to be." How true yet how many of us actually take that time? Tempus Fugit...but we're always so busy, going here and doing that...
I'm one of those people who have a small flock of rare Shetland, Romney and Merino sheep specifically for their fiber; not for their meat. They earn their keep by providing me with excellent quality fleeces which are then processed into blankets, yarn or hand crafted items. They also earn their keep by just being themselves and giving, unconditional, love on a daily basis. (Although I have noticed with some, their love seems directly related to the corn bucket.) Farming is my choice of lifestyle. It's how kith and kin lived in generations past. My family settled Appalachia more than 250 years ago and put down roots for mostly poorer in money, richer in living.

As a society, it seems we've exchange busyness for productivity and haven't even noticed we've sold our souls. We tell each other we're "just busy, busy, busy" but, really, don't have much to show for it except short tempers and crossness.

It's true I struggle to sell my limited collection of farm spun wool yarn
but I'd rather struggle at selling my yarn than at a two hour commute each
day. My commute is strolling down to the stables each morning and feeding the sheep and horses. Along the way, each one greets me and is most excited to see me coming. I've got time each day to play with the kittens, curry a horse and carry my knitting to the pasture...all because Dave and I have made choices to slow down, stop being so busy and enjoy life while we're living it. And, there's absolutely nothing like knitting with yarn from a sheep I know. It gives a circularity to life that suits me just fine.

So, while it's true time does fly, it flies more slowly when I allow it to sift through my fingers...when I take time to sit, to think, to be. I give myself permission to enjoy both my rest and my labor, to enjoy myself, my home, my family, my husband, my sieze the day.

Carpe Diem...

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Independence Day 05

I truly appreciate the sacrifices of those who have made another Independence Day possible; many, many thanks. We spent the Holiday visiting Aunt Esther and other family members in WV. My brother and his wife have just purchased a 130 acre farm in Randolph County and they have become bona fide rural farm dwellers...welcome, I say...welcome! Country life is a great life even though some small luxuries such as ethnic food/restaurants, wonderful food markets and bookstores are given up in exchange. Fortunately, we live within a 90 minute drive of such luxuries and aren't disposed all that much. Our "local" city even has a yarn store...oh joy!

I adore gathering with whatever family and friends can make it to the cabin. We sit, talk, eat and I'm usually knitting as well and enjoy the good company of shared experiences, shared family, shared love. When Dave and I came home it was to attend the 25th wedding anniversary of friends; I also photographed that pleasant gathering. It was so delightful to just sit and listen to the laughter and talk of folks who gathered to celebrate Richard and Carlena. There were many children, toddlers and infants, who completed the circle of life.

Unfortunately, on Saturday morning before I left for the picnic, a kitten dodged under my foot while I was at the barn trying to feed everyone. I heard the yowl of anticipated kitten pain, jerked my foot upwards which threw my entire body off kilter. DOWN I went on the dirt barn floor with no one to share my misery nor help me to my feet. As I've aged, I've noticed falling is a more serious event. It just plain *jostles* me and seems to rattle my brains, my breathing, my center. It takes me a few moments to stagger to my feet, all the while managing to avoid bashing my head into the barn wall, and lean, gasping while clasping a post to lend some support. I stood there a bit trying to gathering myself, my thoughts, my center and then managed to finish feeding horses, sheep and cats.

We've had problems with feral cats moving into our barns and our beloved barn cats (Miss 91, Miss Kitty, Skunk, Leonetta and Hattie's Mother) don't care for the competition. Can't say as I blame them. I can't catch the wild things and don't have the heart to not feed them. When I go to the barn, they are waiting as if expecting me to run the gauntlet (which I do) and when I put my hand into the manger to gather up the food dishes, the dratted things swat and hiss at me. With the rabies count in this county up to eight animals, having feral barn cats is a *serious* matter. I've borrowd a have-a-heart trap and am trying to catch them to take them to the shelter. At least they will be given a peaceful end and I'll not have to worry about having to take rabies shots.

At first I thought my injuries would prevent me from attending Leslie's Crafts in the Meadows (please see Leslie's blog for more information and photos, but after keeping ice on my leg for more than three hours Saturday, I decided to try the two hour drive Sunday. I am SO glad I did! What a delightful day...her brother, Sammy Shelor, played bluegrass music with the Compton family, Lura of Friendship Farm ( had her tri-loom and a beautiful mohair shawl being woven upon it, Leslie was spinning and had her lovely crochet work displayed, her sister-in-law, Sue, displayed hand crafted gourds and some folks from the Appalachian Author's Guild were in attendance. It was a good first showing for all of us.

It was wonderful being in the company of friends who share fiber interests and I'm looking forward to August 13 when we do it all again.

Yesterday, the actual 4th of July, was spent quietly. I knitted a baby blanket and worked on my woven rag rug (started at the earlier mentioned craft show) and enjoyed a peaceful day. No matter which side of the political camp we make our beds, surely we can all agree to give a heartfelt thank you to our service men and women who ensure our freedoms. As we all know, freedom isn't free and the efforts and sacrifices of our military personnel are all gratefully appreciated.

While I'm expressing gratitude, let me give thanks to God for the bountiful rain we had today, Tuesday. Our patures have been so dry and the grass so brittle and I've been concerned about food supplies for my animals. We had a bit of rain last night as well and with the rain today, perhaps we might stave off a shortage of hay. I'm hopeful we'll get a second cutting of hay before frost sits in. It seems funny to be talking about frost but it's only a few weeks away; we'll have frost by September 15 some years.

I should have put some baby shampoo on the horses and if I'd known it was going to rain I would have. Shampoo makes it easier to brush the horses and also decreased the tangles in their manes and tails. They really enjoy being brushed; can't say as I blame them. How delightful to be fussed over; being fussed over is in short supply in this chilly world.

I hope someone fusses over you the most pleasant way imaginable, of course.
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