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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.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

January chores, weather & seed catalogues

What is it that's said about good intentions?

Ah well...as long as I keep writing when I can. The second week in January was a gift...the weather was beautiful, the skies clear, the sun shining and the weather in the 50's and sometimes 60's F. A blessed gift! I spent every day of that week on the tractor and doing farm chores. I mucked paddocks and lots, manured garden beds, spread mulch...there are now two garden beds ready for spring planting and the burn lot is ready for a hot dog roast. Lovely!

Friday was the last day of warm weather and the dogs and I spent every waking moment outside. When at last we came to the house, the hound had a cut on her leg. I vetted her and we went to bed knowing we'd done our best. The next morning it was still a straight, clean cut but seemed to have lengthened during the night. {Surely it wasn't that our middle aged eyes hadn't seen properly the night before?} Dave and I decided to take her to the vet where he put in 15 or 16 staples, brought her shots up to date and sent us all home. Within twelve hours she had chewed them out. AAARRRGGG! Back to vetting on her myself. We did call the vet and he said, "no more staples or stitches as she obviously doesn't want them". So, I'm putting iodine and salve on her twice a day and trying to keep her quiet long enough for the meds to do "some" good.

Saturday was spitting snow, sleet, the roads were iced over...just an unlovely day to drive over the mountain but we did it anyway. Sunday was more of the same and we stayed home. Monday was icy cold, frigid cold really, but somewhat clear. Since Monday though, we've had snow, more snow, ice, howling winds and frigid temps. Brrrrrrr.

I've been trying to finish up some knitting projects, trying to get some things de-cluttered, trying to cook some good meals and succeeding, a little bit, at all of it. Especially the good meals. This is hot soup and bread weather and we've been enjoying home made soup from vegetables canned last year. If there's *anything* better than home made soup from canned vegetables it has to be vegetables fresh from the garden. I made a pan of cornbread and I don't care what the naysayers natter on about...cornbread is *still* cornbread even with a touch of sugar. You go to your church and I'll go to mine. Besides, it saves me from adding a touch of sugar the next morning when I break a few chunks into a glass of milk and eat as cereal.

Seed catalogs have started coming and it's wonderful to sit with a hot beverage and dream about the gardens. This year, I'm trying heritage seeds along with the standards such as Big Boy tomatoes. I use a lot of horese manure in my gardens and the tomatoes turn to pure sweet, there's not any "nasty" acidic taste and they don't burn your stomach. There are some little green and purple cherry tomatoes I'd like to try. They are supposed to be wonderful, we'll find out. And Romas round out the tomatoe mix...some for sandwiches and canning, some for drying and some for eating in the patch.

This year I want to try some mini-watermelons and expect them to be quite tasty. Daddy tells me watermelons planted with horse manure are sweeter than sweet and oh so delicious. I aim to find out.

One of my favorite seed catalogs is www.rareseeds.com , Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds located in MO. Last year when I spoke at the National Small Farm Today conference, I met the young man, Jere Gettle, who is the Seedsman behind Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds. He's an interesting person and at such a tender age has made this his lifes work. I wish him well and am sending him an order for both seeds and his magazine later this month. You might consider doing the same. Lord knows when we find a young person who is doing such a good work, we're beholden by the laws of God and nature to help out. He's doing the whole planet a favor by saving heritage heirloom seeds.

One of my gardening plans this year is to use the fence between the pastures and the house in addition to the gardens. There are two fences I can use for climbing plants but the fence behind the house is where the sheep can eat the plants. The fat little darlings would do just that too...eat all my plants and then cry for more. They did do me the favor of eating the tops off my lavender and rosemary this autumn. That saved me the trouble of topping them so they would grow again, hopefully, in the spring.

I think brussel sprouts are a must...I adore little cabbages when sauteed {actually fried...who am I kidding?} in a little EVOO as Rachel Ray says. EVOO is evtra virgin olive oil and we go through gallons of it every year. Toss a few pine nuts or walnuts in the mix and yummy... Tastetelicious!

I enjoy planting pumpkins and gourds so those are a must; small sweet pumpkins for pies and gourds for fun. Salsify is another I'd like to try and squashes of every sort. Gosh, I can't forget to plant the sun flowers and other merry flowers that add joy simply by living. The flower bed alongside the driveway has been prepared and is ready for plantings. I need to drag out the tractor and pull up the maple tree stump that the former residents left by the driveway. That will give me more room for parking vehicles and maybe I can squeeze out another little garden bed.

Every year though is the same sad story...I run out of garden before I run out of seeds. I expect this year to be no exception but that doesn't keep me from dreaming and trying to attain my dream.

If children are God's opinion that life should go on then gardens are God's opinion that the world should go on.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Election Day

The storm was fast and furious but we survived. I usually go into the one room of the house, Dave's office, that has only one window. I take the dogs with me...HA! as if I could escape them... and find a television program that's LOUD. Then we watch television until the storm passes by and nerves have got us all ready for bed.

Today is election day. Our House Representative, Jackie Stump, is resigning due to health problems. He and my Dad served on a state committee dealing with Veterans Cemeteries. Both Dad and I found Mr. Stump to be a good and gracious representative. He'll be missed greatly as well as being remembered in prayer.

There are four men running for this office; today we vote. For me, voting is a privilege and I've yet to not vote in any election. Too many men and women have died to afford me this privilege and I take it very seriously.

It's raining again but the temp is in the 40's F and that makes it chilly but nice. This is not January weather and *real* January weather waits right around the corner to shake us out of our doldrums. The horses are covered in mud, that's one way they insulate themselves against the chill, and the sheep are grazing peacefully. They, with their long wooly coats, aren't bothered at all by the chill. In fact, they much prefer the chill of the colder months.

Yesterday I finished a scarf design for the 2007 Knitting Pattern a Day calendar. Their website is www.accordpublishing.com/knitting;knitting.htm . Today, I'll e-mail the photo and pattern to Pauline; there are also a couple of other patterns I need to send her. The calendar is a joyful little box with each day having a separate pattern with photo. In 2006 my offering was a child's hat called Bebe A-Go-Go on October 19th. It's a cute little hat and Sophie, my brown Shetland ewe, modeled it for me. If the weather abates, I'll have Sophie or Carly model this red scarf for me as well.

Yesterday I also knit up a couple of hats for the afghans for Afghans project. They are trying to get 500 hats on 500 little heads by end of January. If you're interested, please visit their website at www.afghansforafghans.org ; it's a great project. Just think, in one half of one day you can put a warm, woolen hat on a child's head. What a small blessing to give, what a great blessing to receive...or do I have that backwards?

There are several packages and letters I must mail today; I'm trying to beat the postage increase on Sunday. My barn chores have been done for this morning and I'm waiting for better weather - hope springs eternal - so I can set out another round bale of hay for the mares. The sheep have almost finished eating the Christmas tree needles and I need to find them a few more trees. I need to set out minerals for both sheep and horses; birdseed for the feeder and am tempted to gather in the Christmas decorations. I generally wait until Twelth Night which is Friday but have the yen to start this week unencumbered by knowing there are chores ahead of me I could tend to now.

Our thoughts and prayers are with the West Virginia miners who are trapped underground. Our prayers include their families and the rescue crews. Family lores has it my Daddy's people came to this country from the coal mines of Wales and my Dad started out as a coal miner before moving to central VA. But, his Daddy and brother, cousins, friends and other family members stayed in the West Virginia coal fields/mines. My cousin was part of a crew that was in a mine explosion and they were, eventually, thought to be dead and the mine sealed with all bodies inside. My favorite Uncle died while on the job and various kin folk are disabled due to mining accidents. It can be a violent job; fraught with perils and dangers both above and below ground. If the work of our men folk have always been the coal mines then the work of our women folk have always been prayer.

The tradition continues.

Monday, January 02, 2006

Rainy first Monday of 06

We're having thunder storms with lots and lots of thunder. How do I know? Because I've got one dog in my lap and two more trying to crawl into my lap. Our dogs are not happy dogs when they hear thunder. We think it's due to, possibly, one of two reasons. We think someone might have been shooting at them. I know, I know...that's illegal. So is speeding but even grandmother's and preachers speed. The other reason is Dave's mother is deathly afraid of thunder storms and the dogs have picked up on her fears. Whatever. It's really not pertinent and nothing can be changed, their fears are very real and we just deal, as best we can, with them until the storm passes. I am hoping the storm will pass very quickly tonight as I'd like to go to bed in the next few minutes. Unless the storm abates though, that's not going to happen.

oops. lightening. signing off now...