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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.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006


Emerson once wrote, "The man who has seen the rising moon break out of the clouds at midnight has been present like an archangel at the creation of light and of the world."

It's an awesome thing to ponder upon Creation and the Creator. To know my mind is so finite I cannot comprehend, this side of the veil, what it must have been like there, at the beginning, when all was void. I close my eyes and see darkness and think, "is this void or is this only darkness?"

I've seen "the rising moon break out of the clouds at midnight" and gasped aloud at the sheer beauty. In the summer I regularily get up at three in the morning to hear the mockingbird sing. There's a piercing sweetness at that dark hour that can't be found after the sun rises. There's hope for all mankind, peace for the moment and enough joy to carry me into the day.

Every day there's so much beauty a lifetime can hardly hold it and yet, it keeps coming, rolling like the waves on the ocean shore. Beauty and more beauty for those with eyes to see and ears to hear.

I've come to realize just how much I need, crave, have to have my daily portion of solitude. It's a drug and I'm addicted; I only want more and never less. It's only when my cup of solitude overflows that I can be a help meet to my husband, a, sometimes, dutiful daughter and daughter-in-law, a good friend. There's so much clamor in the world, so much going to and fro it's no wonder there's a surplus of anxiety and stress in the world.

My life is a quiet life meaning there's very little non-natural noise. My life is spent surrounded by the voices of the horses, sheep, dogs, cats, cattle and birds. Never is the radio used and the television perhaps a couple of times a week. Voices are natural and not canned. I can hear at any given moment what is going on in my world...if the animals are peaceful or at odds with each other, if someone or something needs my attention. I live at life's pace, the pace of the seasons and usually have time to take the dogs for a walk or sit in the sheep pasture and knit. Most of the time we eat slow food, fresh food lovingly prepared and offered as a gift to our bodies. We attempt to treat our bodies like a temple and not a tent.

Annie Dillard wrote, "How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives."

In addition to the above, I'm now spending a portion of my days in partnership with Leslie Shelor, Greenberry House. She and I have begun a new venture, Fiber Femmes, an on-line magazine dedicated to supporting, encouraging, promoting and publicizing women the world over involved in the fiber industry and arts.

Leslie has great strengths in many areas, including web and blog design. She has a great talent for understanding computer language and templates and settings and high tech things. She's steady, patient, kind and a never-ending source of strength and, even better, believed, and continues to believe, in the dream of Fiber Femmes.

Leslie and I are the original Fiber Femmes and have united our trust and faith in each other and in a common dream and goals. We're encouraging, supporting, promoting and celebrating each other; in turn, the strength that is two can encourage, support, promote and celebrate Fiber Femmes the world over. Individual and united we're

Fiber Femmes - Great Women Building a Gracious World

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Summer & A Trip

We've reached and passed the Summer mark for 2006...the longest day of the year, the day with the most sunlight (if you didn't have rain that is...) and it's all "downhill" from here.

How is it the most wonderful day of the year brings the most sadness?

Farm folks live by a seasonal calendar and not by a monthly calendar. If the weather is good and the hay needs to be cut...we cut hay. We've been known to have frost every month save August and this year has been very cool and wet. A really good month for most growing things, especially weeds and wild flowers, but it's been a little dicey figuring out when to cut hay.

Blackberry Winter was late this year; very late and very, very cool. That means a good blackberry season though and Daddy and Mother report a gallon can be picked in twenty minutes. If one wants to move more quickly in this heat (surely not!), a gallon can be picked in even shorter time. They live in central VA and their season is a couple of weeks behind us. They should have more blackberries than they can use by end of July. Daddy has a beautiful garden and orchard and raises all manner of vegetables and fruits. My vegetables aren't doing as's been too cool at night so I'm hopeful with the increased heat of summer, the garden will catch up.

I've missed a couple of appointments due to farm conflicts. As noted, we sheared sheep and they are happy campers all. Even the older sheep (and there's more than a few oldsters!) have been witnessed cavorting and leaping in the pasture like lambs. Everyone is elated to be rid of their winter coats and, even so, are still panting like dogs in the heat.

Today, the Sabbath, sees everyone quiet and calm. We've already had several storms and more are expected today and the rest of the week. It's good for the hay field and I can see a daily difference in the increased growth.

Today is a day of rest, relaxation and recreation, a time for reflection. Just a few short weeks ago, Daddy, Mother and I met at the West Virginia cabin and enjoyed the company of friends and relatives. I love going to the cabin; it's on a road that was paved several short years ago and it's only been in the last six or eight years telephone service went from party to private line. Electricity has been extended up the river and now almost everyone boasts electric lights instead of camp fires and candle light or flash light only.

The view from Steve's front porch:

We visited my brother's farm in Randolph County and it's a beauty! I'm so proud of Steve and his accomplishments...he's a gifted person and hard worker and anything he puts his hand to is successful. This old fence forms the property line between two farms.

Daddy's family is Bennett and Hamrick but they married with the Mills over on Mills Mountain. We decided to visit the old school house (pot belly stove and inside of the one room school house above), church and graveyard. It was an hour's drive, across several mountains, just to get to the forty minute drive on a dirt road, across a couple more mountains so we could pay our respects.

They had no electricity no Mills Mountain and lighting was provided by oil lamps hung high on walls.

They did have a girls/women/ladies and boys/men/gentlemen bathrooms but visitors didn't tary in the winter and had to remember to check for snakes in the warmer months.

These facilities serviced the church also so I guess some male child was given "snake duty" upon first arriving for services.

Washing up was done at the pump, just outside the school house and a respectable distance from the outhouse. Having many years of practice, Daddy grabbed the pump handle and started pumping away. In just a very few seconds, cold refreshing mountain water sprung from the "tap". It taste a lot like iron and a bit like sulfer as does most of the water in this central part of Appalachia. No priming was required of the pump which surprised me.

We visited the church, next door, where the original lighting is still being used (although now electrified) as are a lot of the other furnishings, including this beautiful print of the Lord's Supper still in its original frame.

Further down the road was the cemetery where family lore has it Daddy's Grandfather is buried. Mountain people were, by necessity perhaps?, hard people and Grand-Daddy, Ernest Ray Bennett was put out on his own at age eleven to make his way in the world. It's easy to judge, especially from a distance, but in the late 1800's Appalachian times and people were hard and tough. Being cast into a frosty world at such a tender age didn't dampen Grand-Daddy's spirit and he's remember as a kind and gentle man who, although small in statue and short in frame, stood as a giant among men.

There are dozens, if not hundreds, of people who got their start in life due to the encouragement and generosity of Ernest Ray Bennett. One of the largest landowners in West Virginia, now owning more than 100,000 acres, got his start with a $1,000 loan from Grand-Daddy. God only knows what that $1,000 represented to Grand-Daddy, him with a family of thirteen children and whoever else needing a bed to sleep in and a hot meal.

The cemetery is full of now un-marked graves. Time and the elements have worn away the hand chiseled names and dates. Like Daddy always tells me, "Mother Nature and Father Time will make dust of us all."

We visited on Decoration Day and, even in that remote corner of the Appalachian Mountains, people remembered. Flowers and flags decorated graves of those fallen in war, children who didn't get a chance to suckle and those living a long life and dying a natural death.

My favorite though are the wild honeysuckle, mountain laurel and rhododendron planted by people who have, in all liklihood, gone on before. Those who knew that time erases all memory and yet by planting the wild flowers ensured those silent sentinels would stand the test of time. While those of us left behind on earth might forget, God in His heaven would forget only when the East stops meeting the West.

Angels, and a great cloud of witnesses, stand rejoicing, waiting on us all.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Storms, Good-Bye

And it rained and it rained and it rained.

Anyone remember Andy Griffith's "What it was, was football"? We had a beautiful light show complete with sound effects around 3 a.m. this morning. I would have enjoyed it more except the dogs were trying to sleep under me, beside me, on top of me. The main reason I didn't enjoy the storm more was sheep. Sheep as in we were going to finish shearing this morning but I forgot to put them up last night and wet sheep cannot be sheared.

Oh joy...not.

So, my darlings are carrying Lord only knows how many extra pounds of wet fleece and I'm still up against the question...when will we finish shearing? It's totally my fault and I feel foolish. I should have put them in the barn last night but I forgot. By the time we got the mare and her colt loaded in the horse trailer and then I finished evening chores, I simply forgot. I did spend two hours in a tub of HOT water, trying to alleviate the pain of a pulled shoulder muscle. I've noticed the older I get, the more attention I have to pay to pain and find ways of alleviating and dealing with it. When I was younger, I would work through the pain and it would, eventually, dissipate.

Some of my time has been spent on a new venture called Fiber Femmes that Leslie Shelor and I have started. Fiber Femmes focuses on women world wide who are involved in all aspects of the fiber industry. We'll showcase, promote, publicize, have fun and, hopefully, make some money, with this new on-line e-magazine.

In order to help promote Fiber Femmes, we've got a blog where we talk about what's happening on our farms, with our animals, our fiber projects, interesting things, etc. We've having a lot of fun and think we'll fill a very large niche market. There are lots of magazines for knitters, crocheters, some for weavers, some for fiber but none that cover all of the fiber industry.

We're looking for folks to write articles, send in photos, buy advertising and join in our fun. If you're interested, check out the Fiber Femmes and let us know.

In the meantime, I've got to get to farm chores and then prepare some food. A dear man passed away and his wake is tonight. Clyde Woods was a gentleman and beloved friend; go in peace, Clyde. We loved you well.
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