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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, March 31, 2009

Share Your Story

Intuit has a Share Your Story contest and I've entered. Please, would you go there and comment on my story, "You Ain't From Around Here, Are Ya?" ? If I'm a finalist, I intend to use the money for two things:

- hosting of a summer quilting class, teaching people how to make a basic, beautiful quilt. At the end of the quilting workshop we'll have a quilt show where quilts and quilters are promoted. Both learning how to quilt and being part of a quilt show will increase self-esteem, teach long term skills and pass along to extended community the benefits. Hopefully, quilters will continue quilting and submit their quilts for sale to regional shops and galleries.

- website update. The Thistle Cove Farm website hasn't been updated in a long while and is in desperate need of new information and a fresh look.

Thanks for your consideration and please, tell your story. We just both might win!

Blessings ~ stories ~ quilting ~ Thistle Cove Farm ~ quilters ~

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Sabbath Keeping

Recently, it's been my pleasure to find new blogs that are heart touching in their emotional rawness and beauty. In the midst of pain and sorrow, many find they can still love even while they are healing. I love people who "put it all out there", who lay themselves on the line, who aren't afraid...or even if they are afraid...they are still real. This is how I live my life because I have a healthier fear of God than I do of what people may think of me. This is how I perceive Christianity to be but find, too frequently, it's not, raw and real.

Much like the Velveteen Rabbit, remember? Margery Williams wrote this children's classic that speaks to adults just as much, perhaps more so, than children. BTW, if you're unaware of the Celebration of Women Writers, please visit. It's an amazing resource listing women writers, the world over, regardless of how well know or what they have written. You'll find many favorites as well as new favorites.

Chronicles of a Country Girl
is one such new found blog. On her blog, she has a side button that reads "What Kind of Flower Are You?" Apparently, she's a sunflower and it grabbed my attention as sunflowers are one of my favorites. So bright, sturdy and always seeking the sun. I mean, how much better can it get, right? So, I went to their website, took the quiz and found out I'm a daffodil. first thought, not as wonderful as being a sunflower, eh? Then, upon reflection, I began to think how so many of us aren't satisfied with who we are, what we are, where we live, work...all those 'life things' that seem to be greener on the other side of the fence. Then I started remembering how the first flowers to shout SPRING! are daffodils. They are, almost without fail, found around abandoned homesteads, old farmhouses, alongside the road. They bloom on and on and on, without benefit of human intervention, nourished by God, watered and fed by Him and they bring joy to everyone. Now, I'm liking this better...

In doing a bit of research, I found out daffodils mean "respect". Hmmm, that's pretty good. I'm cautious about my name and reputation, ever so much more so than my younger days...I'm sorry to admit...and respect is a good thing. Aretha Franklin thought so, right? She's the one who made Otis Reading's song so famous although Otis died in his mid 20's and never knew. Aretha, I'm happy to say, is still going strong and has released a new album.

Anyway, sunflowers mean adoration and rosemary, while not a flower, means "to remember". When Dave's mother died, I placed a sprig of rosemary in her casket. Until now, I don't think anyone else knew but that act brought, and brings, me happiness. Since it's spring, forsythia means 'anticipation', ivy means 'fidelity' and lilac means 'first love'. These meanings come in a small advert in our weekly newspaper but there's a website, The Language of Flowers, that has the names and meanings of many flowers; it's a joy to read and I bet many brides would get wonderful ideas about wedding bouquets. The Sunday dinner table could also benefit from new-found knowledge. It's such small joys that bring happiness to ourselves and others; those small acts of kindness that may go unnoticed if not done but are always noticed when one makes the effort.

The website says daffodil means "Regard; Unrequited Love; You're the Only One; The Sun is Always Shinging When I'm with You"...Oh Joy, I like this as well! They agree on forsythia, don't list lilac and said ivy means "Wedded Love; Fidelity; Friendship; Affection". Good things, all.

Recently, I planted pansy's at the driveway as I enjoy seeing colorful flowers as I approach the farm. Pansy's mean 'love' which is appropriate as I love this farm so much. This is my digging tool which is some ole piece of farm equipment. I found it while I was digging in the garden one year and it's now used for poking holes in the earth to stick in plants.

So, what kind of flower are you? Please let me know.

Blessings ~ Aretha ~ Otis ~ Bloggers who live REAL ~ Sunflowers ~ Daffodils ~
baler twine ~

Friday, March 27, 2009

Fiber Arts Friday Carnival

The two hand dyed skeins of yarn are farm spun while the naturally colored yarn is mill spun. I bought the naturally colored yarn from someone, now retired, in Pocahontas County, WV. As you may know, that's the home of Pearl S. Buck, 1932 Pulitzer Prize winner and 1938 Nobel Prize winner for her book The Good Earth. The Stulting Family, in 1847, immigrated from Holland to Greenbrier County and later to Hillsboro, Pocahontas County, WV where Mrs. Buck was born Pearl Comfort Stulting in 1892. When she was three months old, her missionary father moved the family to the mission field in China, and subsequently, English was her second language, taught to her by her mother and tutor.

The Boxer Rebellion split the family apart and women and children were sent to the, relative, safety of Shanghai where they lived for almost a year. Eventually, she would attend Randolph Macon Women's College, here in Lynchburg, VA, to earn her degree, Phi Beta Kapa, in 1914.

As a side note, in 2006 Randy-Mac, as it's fondly known, began accepting males and the next year formally changed its name to Randolph College.

Back to Mrs. Buck. I can vaguely remember dissension in our WV family regarding Mrs. Buck. I was never sure what the problem was because grown-ups shut up when 'little pitchers with big ears' were around. I've since researched and found out, essentially, the dissension was, as put by liberal Presbyterian Harry Emerson Fosdick, "Shall the Fundamentalists Win?"

Sigh. It's this kind of controversy that, in my belief, ole Lucifer just loves to stir the kettle. When we Christians are arguing over theology, it takes our eyes of the primary prize...Jesus Christ. If we could but keep our eyes on the prize, stay the course we would ALL be rewarded with eternity in heaven. But, no, we must argue, fuss and fight over who has the right to say what's right and what's wrong. Sheesh. I thought God had already decided all that and it's up to us to "work out your salvation with fear and trembling" as it's written in Phillipians 2:12.

Anyway, Mrs. Buck's views became highly controversial in the Fundamentalist-Modernist Controversy and she had to resign as a missionary. Her life is fascinating, full of twists and turns; she was a very public figure and worth a deeper look.

All that to say, the naturally colored yarn is 50% Cheviot wool 50% silk with the wool coming from Pocahontas County, birthplace of Mrs. Buck, and being spun with Chinese produced silk, in China, in the Jiangsu Province where Mrs. Buck once lived. That has a circularity that's rather comforting, I think, and I mean no pun on Mrs. Buck's middle name.

This skein is all I've left and the hang tag is a 1934 photo of Daddy when he was seven years old. He's kneeling, arms wrapped around twin black lambs and beaming at the camera. Look closely and you'll see the stacked rock fence in the background. Daddy was the youngest boy of thirteen children and most beloved of his oldest brother and sister. As to the skein of yarn, I've yet to decide whether to hand dye this skein or even what I'll make. I do like to hold it and think about the history of what it represents, the people who have had a hand, so to speak, in the making of it; the two countries that have produced it. To me, it represents history both in the past and in the making; probably in the future as well.

Blessings ~ God who has infinite wisdom, patience, mercy, grace, love ~ history ~ my skein of yarn ~ Daddy ~

Cat Head Biscuits Recipe

This is the molasses, yes, it is homemade, in the enamel saucepan on stove top. I think enamel makes for a better end product and I know for sure it's easier to clean!

I learned how to cook and bake by watching the women in my family. From the time I was old enough to eat, I was old enough, almost, to watch Mom, Grandmothers, Aunts in the kitchen, at either the stove or sink. Grandmother didn't have an icebox but had a cellar and spring house where foods were place to be kept cool. Aunt Bonnie had an icebox, later a refrigerator, but still had a cellar. We've also got a cellar but needs clearing out, a hot day job, so I can begin storing food again. Dave wants to put wine there as well and that's a good idea as it's always cool but never freezes.

Daddy's Mother, Hattie Gay Hamrick Bennett, was born in the 1800's and all of her life, used a wood cook stove. I well remember the time when she got the wall mounted, old fashioned telephone hung as well as remember Daddy holding me up so I could put the ear piece to my ear while he talked into the mouth piece. do know these were two separate pieces, right? -smile- Her ring, three long and a short, let the other folks on the party line know who was being called. Everyone kept up with everyone else's business because they would all run to the phone and listen in to the conversation. One soon learned not to put anything Very Personal over the phone line!

It's just been since we've lived at Thistle Cove Farm that Aunt Esther has gotten a private line. As recently as the late 1990's, she had a party line and, same as above, folks would rush to listen in whenever the phone rang, no matter for whom it rung. -that makes me smile so I'll leave it written that way-

This is the molasses, with a pinch of baking sody, aka baking soda, to be stirred in and made a part of the whole.The sody and 'lasses are beginning to fizz. Anyway, at a tender age, I was allowed to help bring her kindling, wipe and set the table; all chores designed for young hands. Truth be told I was probably more in the way than much of a help but, at the time, I was in my element. Our womenfolk have always tended to home, hearth and family, have made a life for themselves taking care of husbands, children, spinster sisters, wayward brothers and anyone else who wandered across their path and needed a resting place.

It was Grandmother Hattie Gay who influenced me the most in my biscuit making. To this day, I make cat head biscuits, the old fashioned way, without a recipe. As a matter of fact, that's what we're having for lunch today - cat head biscuits, thick sliced black pepper fat bacon, macaroni salad, milk, water, coffee. My 1914 Acron stove works well for her age but the tops of my biscuits don't brown as nicely as the bottoms. I've not noticed the flavor is affected though and no one else has complained so I must, still, be doing something right.

According to Joy of Baking, flour was once spelled flower and dates to a time when mortar and pestle were used. Some folks still hand grind their own flour but I buy mine in bulk.As best I can, here's the receipe. Make sure your flour is fresh, as fresh as can be. I use baker's flour but perhaps you have your own favorite brand.

Cat Head Biscuits


2 cups sifted flour

2 tsp. baking powder, more or less, generally I use more becaise I never measure my flour so always end up having to use a little bit more of everything to even it all out

4 tablespoons butter, shortening or corn oil -not vegetable oil though, always use Real

1/2 tsp. sea salt

about 3/4 cup whole buttermilk. Please. Not the low or no fat stuff!

I don't sift although some say it makes for a lighter product. Well, okay. I do sift using my fingers but not a sifter. I figure why dirty up something else?

Cut in shortening or butter using hands or fork, doesn't matter. I always use a fork so I can spear some of the worked dough for a taste sampler. Love cookie dough as well -smile.

Add buttermilk gradually, stirring until soft dough is formed. Turn out on lightly floured board and lightly form into circle, just enough to shape.

Roll 1 inch thick, or thicker...I usually make mine thicker.

Cut out with 2 inch floured biscuit cutter, I use a tin can, cut out both ends, that used to hold something but I can't remember.

Bake in a greased metal pan in a 400 degree oven for 12-15 minutes or until done. I cook by sight and my old 1914 Acorn stove is a bit cranky so it, usually, takes a lot longer for me.

Makes 6 biscuits if you've done it right plus a little left over for sprinkling with cinammon and sugar or snacking...the dogs and I like raw dough.

I serve with real butter, sometimes home churned butter, sometimes churned butter from another woman who churns. Also on the table hot 'lasses whipped up with a pinch of sody, as told above, or home made jam - strawberry, cherry, blackberry or, my personal favorite, blueberry and damson conserve. Most always, there's a goodly serving of peppered thick sliced bacon on the side...what's breakfast without a little pork fat, eh? And, yes, for those inquiring a matter of fact, I do butter my biscuits before pouring the hot 'lasses over them. It's okay though, it's not like I eat like this but once every so often.

That's about it, try it and let me know how you like it or give me your favorite biscuit recipe. Let's face it, even poorly cooked or baked food, served with lots of love taste better than fast food thrown over a counter. But when good food is cooked or baked with love...that's amore!

Blessings ~ cat head biscuits ~ hot 'lasses ~ home churned butter ~ memories ~ womenfolk ~

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Cat Head Biscuits

How many hundreds of times have I watched my Grandmothers, Aunts and Mother’s hands deftly turn raw flour, shortening and buttermilk into biscuits? With the addition of a little sugar and vanilla that same mixture would turn into melt in my mouth sugar cookies.

In my earliest memories of Grandmother Hattie Gay’s kitchen I am seated on the 6’ long bench hand carved by Granddaddy, my elbows propped on the table, drinking in the sights and smells of Grandmother’s bustling endeavors. Grandmother made cat head biscuits...the kind of biscuits that would see a man through a day of cutting timber or laying railroad line. Her biscuits were huge, more like tomcat head size, and for a little girl of 3 or 4, required both hands just to lift them from plate to mouth.

She always had a churn of butter going so when those biscuits made their way out of the wood fired oven there was a mound of butter waiting to be slid between bottom and top. On special occasions she would have some black strap molasses heated on the stove, into which a pinch of baking soda had been whipped. Once the 'lasses foamed, the biscuits were torn apart and that hot ‘lasses poured over both sides. It was only when I was an adult that I heard the phrase that fit, “to die for”.

Aunt Bonnie’s hands could turn out a pan of cat head biscuits as well. She, like her mother, would use fresh ingredients, a wood fired oven and make the same miracle. Aunt Bonnie had the rolling pin that her Grandpa Samp had carved for his wife using a solid piece of poplar wood. Even so, Aunt Bonnie never actually rolled out the dough, but rather patted them into a round shape and took her tin can and cut out the biscuits. She said the more you worked the dough, the tougher the biscuit. The little leftover bits she would pull into a longish shape, sprinkle with cinnamon sugar and tuck in the bread pan alongside the biscuits.

Mother doesn’t make cat head biscuits. She likes her biscuits a little less doughy and a little smaller. They taste just as good but, somehow, my eye and my mind are at war with each other. It just seems like such a waste of effort to butter and ‘lasses what should rightly, to my mind, be a ham biscuit biscuit. You know, one of those cute little biscuits made by beating the dough 300 or 400 times.

I, as you might imagine, make cat head biscuits. When Mother and Daddy visit, I do try to remember to make a couple of ham biscuit size biscuits but my hands reject the betrayal. It is always an argument to get my hands to pat out thinner dough in smaller sizes. Too often my hands are the victors and the loss is my mothers. When I bring the biscuits to the table, I see in her eyes a slight disappointment. Once again, I have failed her and we are each reminded of the differences between us.

My parents have a snapshot taken of me when I was 6. I stare defiantly into the camera and am wearing a cowgirl outfit complete with hat, boots and twin six shooters. I’m seated on a pony attached to a carousel and the owner had interrupted my daydreaming long enough for whom – Mother or Daddy? – to take my picture.

I always wanted to be a cowboy and live on a farm (never a ranch). I wanted to tend to animals, fix fences, work a garden but never hang curtains, vacuum rugs or wash dishes. On top of the betrayal of not wanting to be a “girly” girl I also made cat head biscuits.

My mother has often despaired of me over the years; but she and I are also alike in many ways. I share her tender heart toward animals, children and old people, her love of books (especially the Bible), putting up (canning) the garden every year and her dislike of wasting anything.

As importantly, I share her hands. Side by side the older and younger hands speak silently to decades of honest work, of loving play, of making a life for our families and ourselves. In her case, she tries to keep her nails manicured; I simply try to keep mine trimmed and clean. In the years I’ve lived on our farm, I’ve had nail polish on exactly one time but I do wear good gloves and that helps. Working with the sheep also helps as the lanolin works its way into my hands and, eventually, softens them somewhat.

I don’t think Mother understands my love of the farm, the mountains, my horses and sheep. She questions why I do the physical labor necessary to keep the farm going. My lifestyle puzzles her much, I imagine, as I did when she was trying to tame an unruly tomboy into a ribbon and lace little girl.

It is not in our physical looks that we are alike either. She is dark haired, brown-eyed and turns a lovely golden brown in the sun. I am her exact opposite; I am blond, green-eyed and sallow skinned. Rather it is in what lies below the surface that bonds us more tightly than death could separate. We are both strong women with strong opinions, strong likes and dislikes, strong love and hatreds. It is in our strengths that I find I am, after all, my Mother’s daughter. I look at our hands, Mom...our hands and our hearts.

Blessings ~ Mom ~ cat head biscuits ~ hot 'lasses ~ home churned butter ~ hands and hearts to do the work God sets before us ~

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Farm Happenings

We've had a couple of warm, sunny days and that means farm chores. This week the farm chores are getting done in bits and spurts due to a photographer following me around for Country Magazine.

Country Magazine has asked me to keep a farm diary and it will be in their June July 09 issue. This has been a different sort of reality for me, being on the lens end of the camera as I'm, usually, the one taking photos. The photos here are taken by Mary Quesenberry, a photographer friend, although the watermark still says my name. All my usual chores are being done in "photo bites" so Mary can take advantage of the weather. Today, Wednesday, it's raining so I'm catching up on blogging, e-mails, yarn and roving orders...that reminds me, I need to head to the farm office and take photos of the roving.

Dave says my sheep are my pets and he's right. They have names, although I tend to get some of them mixed up and, perhaps, one or two of the rowdiest don't have names other than "you big heathern!" They come when called and will follow me from pasture to pasture because they know there's, usually, a treat of whole corn involved. Sisters Carly, Sophie and Beryl, along with Carly's twin sons, Samuel and Sampson, will paw me if they feel they aren't receiving their fair share of corn. I've given up explaining to people that, "no, I am not an abused woman but a beloved woman...beloved of her husband, her dogs, her cats, her sheep and her horses. And, trust me, every one of the above has given me their share of bruises and knocks to show me just how much they "belove" me! (Post Script - in re-reading this, it amuses me to see I've given Dave "credit" for "beloving" me. That is true...we were walking up the back walkway, I stumbled and would have fallen except Dave grabbed me by the upper arm. In doing so, he left his handprint in the form of bruises. I gave up explaining to people what had happened and just let them wonder! -smile-)

I wouldn't give up the bruises for anything though; it's a fabulous life!
Carly is pawing me to let me know she'll take some corn NOW, please! The building in the background is where water used to be stored. Via a windmill, water came up the hill, from the underground river that, eventually, becomes Maiden Spring and then the Little River. This building is all that's left of a much larger structure and I use it to store a few fence posts and other odd things.

Abigail and I are off to hunt for ramps. It's a rite of spring around here but as I found out, it's too early for ramps. They are just beginning to poke their little heads above the fallen leaves so it will be another week or two before there's enough for a mess. They are a member of the onion and garlic family but a bit more full of flavor -smile. That's a better way of saying "they stink!" Dave and I both love eating them, especially when mixed with potatoes, garlic and onion...the more the better except we try to remember not to eat them near the end of the week or else no one wants to sit with us at church on Sunday.

Most days I wear a skirt or dress with apron. I find aprons give me extra pockets and a skirt reminds me to slow down, take in the sights, smells and sounds of Thistle Cove Farm, to enjoy this great blessing and gift God has given. I've always worn jeans at Sheep Shearing though; I really have no desire to show J. Q. Public the color of my undies!

Yesterday, I fixed lunch for everyone and served broccoli slaw, macaroni salad, fried ham, cat head biscuits, tea, milk and water. Soon, I'll tell you about cat head biscuits, give the recipe and post a photo.

A Giveaway a Day
just e-mailed me and I'm giving away some yarn on her site. It should be the 9th - 10th of April, a bit after Sheep Shearing but just in time for my birthday on the 11th.

it's pouring rain and cold with a wind making it even colder. A good day to stay inside, except for necessary chores. We've got to go to town for haircuts and other errands. Our neighbors, Ginny and Tiny Tot her sister, are both in hospital. Both women are in their 80's and, like all of us, slowing down a bit. They were born and raised on their farm and, for a large portion of their lives, have lived on their farm. I love visiting their big country kitchen and it was a shock when, yesterday, I went to the back door and turned the door knob only to find it locked. During the day, like our house, the doors are never locked so I knew something was wrong and later found out the problem. They knew my mother-in-law for all their lives and brings home, once again, how we're all connected in this small valley. A good many of us are kin by birth or marriage and the rest of us are connected, somehow, someway.

Blessings ~ the Cove ~ family ~ my sheep ~ neighbors ~ a good meal ~ aprons ~

Monday, March 23, 2009

Pickens, WV Pancake Breakfast

For most of the past twenty-five years, Aunt Esther and I have been going to the Pickens, WV Pancake Breakfast which is also the WV Maple Syrup Festival. Time has lost the beginnings of our tradition and that's okay, what matters is we made it another year! Aunt Esther turned 91 in January and is still spritely, spry and full of vim and vinegar. There's another word that is, sometimes, used for the "vim" word but it's not suitable for a family rated blog -smile-.

As I travel through Webster County, I arrive at a small community called Bergoo. It's an old coal mining town and has gone through its share of boom times. This bridge cross the Elk River right at Carol's store, and the road continues up river where a few people live year round and a load of other people have camps.

This road is further up river and leads out of Webster County into Randolph County. It's an interesting drive, especially when one meets traffic coming the other direction. I've had to back down this road, Very Carefully, many times...especially when I'm going UP river and have the river on my right hand side. It's not, quite, so frightening when the river is on the left hand side but it can still be frightening. Long ago, I've given up driving this road after dark, unless it's an Extreme Emergency!

Whittaker Falls is on the county line of Webster and Randolph Counties. Folks are trout fishing and the weather was cold, just about freezing. I told Aunt Esther those guys had to be freezing and she said, "Yes, and if their wives asked them to bring in a bucket of coal, they would complain it was too cold!"

She's right, you know.

This is the American Legion Hall where the breakfast is held and yes, it is heated by a pot bellied stove. The way you can tell is by the feller backed up with his hiney close to the heat -smile-.

This photo is of the entire room and it's as fine as elderberry wine. Hot buckwheat and plain flour pancakes, *heated* fresh, local maple syrup, one sausage patty and all the coffee and milk you can drink...all for $8.00. What a deal!

Every year, after the Pancake Breakfast and Bean Super, there's a Square Dance; only $5 to dance, look or do both...what a great bargain. I've never been, mainly because it's such a long drive from dance to bed, across several mountains, terribly difficult roads and in the dark!

Every year the Pickens folk raffle off a quilt; this year it's especially beautiful. Aunt Esther and I each bought six chances for five dollars. We decided if either of us win, one will keep it six months a year and the other will keep it six months a year.

The Belle of Randolph County, WV! She said her dress was older than she so they are both a beautiful original.

The Pickens Post Office which was open all day long.

These folks were making corn meal and buckwheat flour right while we watched. I just love buying meal and flour right when it's freshly made. This corn meal has a bit of tooth, meaning when used to make corn bread, the corn bread will have a bit of bite to it, some heft that translates into chewy goodness and flavor...yummylicious! I make some of the BEST cornbread you'll ever sink your teeth into and nope, it's not bragging if it's true -smile-.

Someone asked me if I wanted to buy this John Deere A. I told him, "I've already got one, thanks!" And, that was, sort of, true...'cept mine has a steering wheel and seat so I guess I know which where to turn -smile-.

But Absolutely Nothing is as beautiful to my tired ole eyes as Thistle Cove Farm, home of my heart! What an incredible blessing and gift God has given our grateful hearts.

Blessings ~ pancakes ~ belles ~ quilts ~ heritage ~ rivers ~ festivals ~ Aunt Esther! ~ home ~

Friday, March 20, 2009

Friday Fiber Arts Carnival

I'm on my way out of town, taking Aunt Esther to the annual Pickens Pancake Breakfast. This is the 25th year of the WV Maple Syrup Festival and Aunt Esther and I have been to most of them. She's 91 this year and full of spunk and refuses to say, "No, dear, I don't think I'll go this year." The only time one of us doesn't go is when we're too sick to get out of our bed.

So, Friday Fiber Arts Carnival will be a photo of my spinning wheel and some store bought and handspun yarn with imagination for future projects. Yep, photo was taken one summer and I've enjoyed it ever since. The red shawl, on the chair, was woven on a tri-loom.
Blessings ~ family ~ Aunt Esther ~ spinning wheels ~ yarn ~ maple syrup ~ pancakes! ~

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Day's End, Thursday

Oh My. Why is it the day comes earlier when you get to bed later the evening before?

Dave and I went to a new Japanese restaurant in Princeton last night; we met some business associates who have now become friends. Nelson and Diana are smart, funny people who have raised some fabulous children. Their son has been trading in the stock market since he was 16, of course with parental supervision, and has become quite the investor. He really impresses me because he's so well versed in a number of topics. I've not met the daughter yet but she's off to grad school and on a full scholarship so I'm looking forward to meeting her as well.

The Japanese place is “restaurant theater” where people sit around a common table and the chef wields his knives with lots of flash and fury. The food was really good and the company was even better but we didn't get home until 10:30 or thereabouts and I've been up since a little before 5:00. I just had enough sleep...imagine that!, it astonishes me!...and got up to start the day. Fran came over to help me but at 6:00 I wasn't quite ready to head to the barn so put her on the sofa and she caught a couple more hours of Z time.

I went to the pasture at 7 a.m. because I thought Zach was cast; it turns out, he was only soundly asleep and, more than, a trifle put out I awakened his slumber. While at the barn, I fed the barn cats, opened up all the other buildings in preparation for the day's work. Back at the house, Dave told me he's off the farm, working today, but had made appointments for The Furnace Man and the Ranger repairman to both show up.

That's been my morning and afternoon plus

two loads of laundry, washed, dried, hung and put away,
baked 5 pans of shortbread and delivered 1 to a neighbor just out of hospital, will deliver others tomorrow and will take some to WV family,
found out the strawberries are in and had to run get them,
The Furnace Man showed up, made a pot of coffee for him while he worked on furnace,
Ranger repairman showed up, needed more tools, went back to the shop, returned and has been here several hours -the Ranger needed a mirror put on and a leak stopped, turns out they were both related but more of a job than first anticipated...but then, aren't they all? -wry grin-,
saw Zach in the same spot, rushed to the pasture and moved him back to the barn as it's supposed to be cold, rainy and windy tonight; he'd surly die in this weather should he be left with no shelter,
Fran comes to tell me one of my horses has wire caught up in her mane; grabbed scissors, headed to the pasture and, while there, trimmed manes of two horses. Took manes to studio so I could use them in spinning yarn,
froze 6 quarts of strawberries after putting them in seal vac packs BUT a handy little tip for those who use seal vac packs...put the berries in the quart seal packs then freeze the berries FIRST and the next day, go back and vacuum pack seal them. If you put the berries in the packs and then try to vacuum seal them, the berries will crush, the juice will run out and it's all fairly ruined.
packed for quilting tonight,
made flyer's to take to tourism office, vet's office, art center on my way out of town tomorrow,
gathered embroidery to take to WV, still need to gather two coolers as one is being returned to Daddy and the other will be packed full of steaks to bring home. My sister-in-love is headed to the slaughter house and they have US prime steaks that are out of this world! Their sausage isn't too bad either.

Cove Community Association met tonight and we've got some interesting programs planned. The CCA will sell hot food and drink at Sheep Shearing Day to fund educational programs. We've started a new blog, a Very New Venture for us; we're the kind of people who, quietly, tend to our own lives and our own business so a blog is a Very New Venture. Although there's no post, yet, there is a lovely photo of the Cove, where we all live.

It's been a Very Long Day and I'm headed to bed. Quilting Bee was good although I mainly caught up on valley news. Some might call it gossip but when it's kindness and not malice it's news and not gossip. That's my story anyway -smile-.

Night all, sweet dreams and God bless.

P. S. The sign, at the top of this post, is hung on the back porch at the back door entry. Pretty much sums up Thistle Cove Farm life.

Blessings - the Cove - strawberries - neighbors - quilting - heat - Ranger - clean barns -

Sheep Shearing Day Preparations

Sheep Shearing Day is 4 April and I'm frantically getting ready for this working day on the farm. It's always been open to the public with no entry fee. Generally, visitors have been families, older people going on a 'Trip to Bountiful' -delightful movie yet heart tuggingly poignant' and a few looky-sees who see the event listed in calendars, local newspaper or stumbled across my blog or website. This year I've posted the event on Ravelry and on Mary Jane's Farm and, if the number of phone calls and e-mails I've gotten are any indication, we may have a Very Large Crowd.

Our stables are pre-War of Northern Aggression and built on hand cut limestone blocks. About three years ago, we had the original barn siding covered with rough cut hemlock which greatly improved the looks, added value and structural integrity and just makes the farm look loved and well kept. The first summer we did this, people would come by and stop in the road just to watch work progress or tell us what a fine job we were doing in restoring this farm.

Do any of us ever get enough words of encouragement or compliments truthfully spoken?
"But everyone who prophesies speaks to men for their strengthening, encouragement and comfort," so says I Corinthians 14:3. Word have great strength and, in times past, names were given great consideration prior to a child being given a name. Not only could one tell from what family the child was born into, one could tell whether the parents had hopes, dreams, aspirations, despair or lack of vision. Often, when I meet a person and hear their name, I will later research their name to see if it's fitting for them. Often times it is quite appropriate and other times I simply wonder, "just what were their parents thinking?..."

Thistle Cove Farm has become not only a labor of love but our life's work and we're much closer to completion than when we began fourteen years ago. We still have a couple of fences that need replacement but, perhaps, can squeeze another year or two from them. There's the garden lot, about half an acre, that needs a lot of work; nut and fruit trees need to be chosen and planted and the vegtable garden needs to be laid out within that same area.

But today we cleaned the barn of winter's detritus, the uneaten hay, bits of wool, baler twine and the like. The barn was nice and cool and there was a lot of air traffic, at least half dozen small planes and one helicopter that was, from the sound of it, the med evac copter. I always say a prayer for the safety and well being of folks when I hear the med evac copter or see a wreck on the road or hear the sirens. One day that may be someone I love or even me and I like to think there's someone, somewhere praying.

Just to the upper left of the pole there's a speck in the sky, that's one of the planes. There were so many beautiful clouds it was difficult to see the planes and copter, they kept going in and out of coverage.

For some reason, Bos Man decided climbing the rafters would make him happy. First he climbed the door, then jumped on the rafter and peered into the barn loft. That's one of the places the barn cats hang out so, perhaps, Boscoe was saying hello. He and Abbie kept me company all day and Gracie would visit every so often. Mainly she laid under the truck and watched the proceedings from a safe distance.

There were six or eight wheel barrow loads of hay taken to the burn pile. I don't know why I call it the burn pile as rabbits have since moved in and I'll, probably, never strike a match to the pile of tree branches, hay and other stuff. It's in the middle of the garden lot and provides a lot of cover for rabbits and birds. I did notice the blue birds were nesting yesterday. Last week, I'd cleaned out their box so it was ready for them. I'm ashamed to say, I'd either forgotten to clean it last year OR they had built two nests...not sure which but there were definitely two nests in one box.

Down at Clinton's, there's a lambalanch going on; he has one of the largest flocks of down breed sheep in the Commonwealth and lambs somewhere around three to four hundred lambs every spring. I enjoy riding down the road to see the newest lambs on pasture but have learned the hard way, to NOT stop the Ranger to take photos. When I'm driving the Ranger, they associate the motor with the ATV's Clinton uses and the yo's, as they call the ewe's around here, will rush the fence, thinking it's food and the lambs are liable to get injured or even trampled to death.
It's almost as dangerous to stop the truck but they aren't as used to my truck so don't react as speedily.
The lambs have learned to drink, almost, on the run because the mothers are eating spring grass. It takes an amazing amount of food to nourish both mother and lamb and calories are needed in high quantities to keep both well and healthy. In short order, lambs combine drinking milk with eating grass but for the first few weeks of life, it's the milk that sustains them.

This little one is sated and chewing cud while drinking in sunshine.

Abigail, my faithful co-pilot. Again, not the safest thing to do but I've got a firm finger thrust threw her collar and we're traveling at a slow rate of speed. It was my intent to juice the truck battery a bit, enjoy a bit of the spring day, see Clinton's lambs and pray a prayer of thanksgiving and joy for the Oh So Many Blessings in our lives.

Abbie is ever viligent as we travel down the road.
Blessings ~ strength to do the work He sets before me ~ my animals ~ the hope of a good Sheep Shearing Day ~ Thistle Cove Farm ~

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Fabric Give-away

There's a fabric give-away over at M & M Studio, check out the fabulous fabrics. One is sure remind you of spring.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Day's End, Tuesday

Oh My Gosh. Daylight savings time was the master plan of Ben Franklin but he must have been a pencil pusher, no way could he have been a farmer! When you're out in the day, it's easy for your body to acclimate to sun time but when everything switches to DST, the body's natural rhythms are thrown, totally, off!

The days still start much the same; up at first light, make a pot of coffee and then to the sun room to give dogs and cats their morning treats, listen to preachers on XM radio, prepare for the day, make notes on what needs to be accomplished.

I love this plant against the windows, especially on a rainy, overcast day. I keep a good many houseplants and they all require a good bit of attention but to have green, growing things in the sun room seems necessary. Simple treasures bring such great joy and the work is made worthwhile.

Abbie, though not in this photo, snuggles on my right side while Miss Kitty curls on my lap and Gracie snuggles on the left side. Miss Kitty and Gracie both enjoy being brushed but Abbie will
growl if I so much as wave the brush in her direction. Gracie and Miss Kitty both are hogs for attention and will talk and talk and talk...if I pause in stroking them or brushing them. They are harsh task masters and vocal in both their pleasure or displeasure.

Every morning, geese fly on their appointed rounds going from someplace to somewhere else. They honk their encouragement, calling out to each other and me, the earthbound human. I always run outside to take photos and wave at them. I wonder if they are amused at the little human, waving to them, calling out encouragement, telling them to be safe, stay together and return at their soonest. Sometimes they fly overhead so close to me and to the earth, I can hear the beat of their wings...thrump, thrump, they keep time to something I can't begin to hear.
A robin sat on the tree limb, watching me as I watched the geese. I'm sure to provide much amusement and entertainment for God's creation; probably even God Himself.

The clouds come pouring forth over the mountains, into the valley, and are So Beautiful my breath catches in my throat. In the matter of only a few minutes, I can watch the clouds fall over then roll through the valley as we're all encased in beautiful fog.

Today, the horses needed hay so I got out the tractor and went to the hay lot. I go amazingly slow, my time is my own and I'd rather go Very Slow than be a farm statistic. Almost two years ago, omeone we know was killed in a farm injury. He was setting out round hay and, somehow, someway, the round bale got away from him, rolled on him and crushed him. Yes, I am Extremely Mindful when I use the tractor for anything but especially setting out hay. I doubt I'm going much more than one, perhaps two, miles per hour.

Here, I'm backing up to the round hay bales, preparing to spear one to move to the pasture.

I always pause to see who else is doing what in the valley. It's too far to see, perhaps a quarter mile, but, because of the pasture, I assume it's Rees' men on the 4-wheelers. They are checking to see how many calves were born last night; they will also tag and vacinnate the calves to give them a better chance in the world. In the background, our little red volunteer firehouse stands waiting.

Abbie, my faithful co-pilot, rides with me on the tractor. Nope, not at all safe but, as mentioned before, I go, perhaps two miles an hour, a crawl really, so I let her ride with me. It breaks her heart for us to be separated so I try to prevent that whenever possible.

Here, I'm looking backward to see if the round bale has unloaded successfully. It takes me far longer to set out hay than it does a man to do the same job but I'm happy with my schedule, with my pace. I have nothing to prove, only to get the job done without injury to anyone.

The sun was breaking through as I headed to the pasture so this photo is out of sequence. It's a beautiful view of the valley though so wanted to include it.

When the sun finally came through it was glorious! This photo taken looking through the round pen, where I work horses, back towards the house. Because of the dip in the land, the barns aren't seen but, trust me, the barns are there as well as farm office, granary and livestock scales.

Don't you just love happy surprises?! Gaynelle, a quilting buddy, came by this afternoon with a hand crafted gift. She's made me a fleece throw, one with white sheep, yellow quarter moons and stars on a red background. The back of the throw was also red and the whole thing is simply enchanting! You could have knocked me over with a feather! Gaynelle does lovely work and is always, quietly, doing things for people. Perhaps she thinks word never gets around but it does, Oh Yes it does! She's simply one of the nicest people you'd ever want to meet and has a sweet smile. Come to think of it, if you're headed here for Sheep Shearing Day, you will meet Gaynelle. She'll be here, selling her quilts, some paintings and, perhaps a few other hand crafted things. Just introduce yourself and chat for a while; you'll be glad you did!

Blessings ~ Gaynelle ~ farm chores ~ SUNSHINE! ~ hay ~ a hot bath or shower ~ but Not Daylight Savings Time! ~
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