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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, October 28, 2009

Kissed by Frost

~ the last of the cosmos, kissed by frost ~

Autumn is my favorite time of year, although, it's also the most difficult to make an adjustment to the changes in light and time. I know DST doesn't change until November 1, Sunday, 2 a.m. but the already shortened days confuse my cicadian rhythms and both body and mind suffer. Most folks I know who tend to land and/or animals are acclimated to the natural rhythms of the earth, sun and moon. We tend to sleep when it's dark; work when it's light and when those rhythms, cicadian rhythms, are disrupted, I tend to do stupid things. As soon as we turn the clocks back, this Sunday, those stupid things are sure to escalate. Unfortunately.

~ sheep weather! ~

 For example, this morning I hurried through chores so I could rush to town and take Zumba and  yoga. No problem there except the yoga instructor has family illness so that class was canceled and I came home to clean. Again, no problem except I detoured and ended up cleaning the space where we keep linens and also did a boat load of laundry. I hate going into the winter with drapes and curtains that are dusty but with more than thirty windows, most sized nine feet by three feet but some larger, in this farmhouse, that chore takes the better part of a week...and that's if I keep at it like there's a paycheck at the end.

~ Frosted Zinnia ~

At 5:00 I stopped everything, took a shower and got ready to head to town to see Justin Lookadoo. I've really been looking forward to hearing him; he comes highly recommended and some kind person or persons, unknown to me, paid to have him come to Tazewell and speak. When I arrived at the fairground the parking lot was empty, not a good sign. Long story, short: he's scheduled for next Wednesday, November 4th. Oh well. I head home and then remember...something else was scheduled for tonight and I missed that too.

~ Frosted, feathery cosmos ~

~ Frosted sedum ~

Off and on, these past couple/few weeks have been just like that...a day late and a dollar short. It's always this way in Autumn; it's always me playing catch up, body trying to adjust to the shortened day light, chasing the sun and getting my D's, vitamins, that is. I'm sleeping like it's a sickness and still can't manage to get caught up; anyone else having these problems?

~ Frost on the gate ~

We've had a couple of hard frosts and they've been beautiful! An occupational hazard of working outdoors is a frosted metal gate; there's no better way to lose some skin than to grab hold of a frozen metal gate. Remember the scene from The Christmas Story when the boy licked the street lamp? YEEWOUCH! I felt his pain; still do for that matter.

~ Maple, in front yard ~

One of the lovely things about "silence" is there's room enough to hear things that, otherwise, go unnoticed. Things like leaves falling through the branches of the maple tree. There was no wind, it was just Autumn and time for the leaves to fall. They made a rustling noise, reminding me of an old man, sitting beside the fire, work boots to the side, sighing the sighs of someone who has accomplished something that day. Something worthwhile, something to put food on the table or in the manger. Those falling leaves reminded me of someone who has done what they could to take care of what they should; to prepare for winter and the deep, silent sleep. They reminded me of my Granddaddy Bennett and how he would sit beside the fire, work boots to the side, toes wiggling in dirty socks, hand made wooden chair tilted against the wall, waiting to be called for supper.

He died when I was six but I remember him well. He was a giant, in my eyes then and now, as I remember him. He wasn't a big man; I'm probably about his size but he was a man's man and one of the richest men in West Virginia owes his start to Granddaddy and Granddaddy's hard saved money. He was that kind of man; always willing to lend a hand or a dollar, always seeing to it that folks ate or had a roof over their head or blankets on their bed. He was one of the biggest men I'll ever know and to make it even better, he was a man after God's own heart.

~ Across the road, a corn field ~

October is Harvest Moon and this month is the last possible time to gather in food for man and beast. Gardens are limping along with the occasional winter squash, the Granny Smith apple tree still has a few apples clinging to the upper branches and the corn silage has been cut. Corn silage is high in protein and easy to digest; it has a nice, yeasty smell like corn, how could I possibly know that, you wonder??? Dave thinks it stinks but I like to smell it and the cattle love eating it. The field across the house was cut last week, much to the dismay of the black bear living in the field. It was easy pickings for him, for a while, but now he's had to go back to the mountain to eat and prepare for his winter sleep.

~ Cutting corn for silage ~

Farming is risky business and ranks right up there with any other dangerous job. I've known men to be caught in farm equipment and the fortunate ones are walking around, perhaps without an arm, but they are walking around. Driving farm equipment takes skill and most men started driving when they were old enough to see over the steering wheel, with or without a stack of books under their bottoms, and with or without, a stick to poke the gas or brake pedals.

About half the time the tractor driver is looking forward, gauging the row, and about half the time, he's looking backwards to make sure the equipment is in alignment with the corn rows.
~ corn silage ~

This field took three days to cut and that was with two trucks working full time to catch, hold and carry the silage to a nearby field for storage. In the photo to the right you can see the little red volunteer fire house in the distant left and, to the distant right, the old Cove elementary school, now Community Center and where the school shots were filmed for the movie, Lassie: Best Friends Are Forever. If you've seen the video cover, that's Thistle Cove Farm in the distant background behind the boy and Lassie, although there's absolutely NO credit given to anything or anyone in Tazewell County. Perhaps you remember Clinton Bell, my shearer? He and Bullet, his Border Collie, were the behind the scenes stars because they worked the sheep. Lassie is a looker, I'll give him that...yes, Lassie is a HE, always has been...but the boy is all looks and no brains.

Wait. That's not exactly true. Lassie can act but he's not the kinda working man that gets his, paws dirty. Lassie let ole Bullet do the heavy lifting while Lassie did the styling and profiling for the camera and kiddies. Likewise, Clinton did the heavy lifting as he directed ole Bullet when the sheep were rounded up, moved, etc.

We bought this farm the year after the movie was made and people were still tiptoeing into the yard, peering in the windows. I'm not quite sure what they expected to see: Lassie seated at the table, dish of vittles in front of him...? Or, Lassie in the bed, snug as a bug in a rug...? Or, one of us in our altogethers as we stepped out of the shower...? The mind reels!

 Anyway, back to the corn silage. Cattle love it, it's inexpensive... meaning it doesn't have to be purchased like grain but it does cost in labor, equipment and fuel, and it's high in protein. But, you know most of that if you've been paying attention -smile-.

~ Someone's dream house, once upon a time ~

 This house sits behind the corn field and is where quite a few folks have set up housekeeping in days gone past. Now, it's a shadow of its former self, slowly going the way of all flesh and, probably, as full of snakes as a Christmas goose is full you know. Still and all, it's a purty sight and I love to sit and make up stories about the folks that once lived there.

Remember the old Bill Monroe song, "Gotta Travel On"? It goes

"Done laid around, done stayed around this old town too long
Summers almost gone, winters coming on..."

He's right, summer has gone and autumn is close behind; winter is hurrying right along and soon it will be time for flannel sheets. It's almost too cold to go to the barn in my nightgown, boots flopping on bare feet, scarf wrapped 'round my head and too large jacket on my back. The dogs and I can see our breath in the mornings, the sheep and horses have little beards of frost and the mist rises off the water trough as warmer mountain river meets colder mountain air.

 ~ mist rising off water trough as frost glistens on the ground ~

It's a great time here on the farm even if I'm struggling to keep up; struggling to stay awake. There's never enough time to do all that needs doing on the farm but now it's especially difficult. Even so, there's no place on God's beautiful earth I'd rather be than here, home at Thistle Cove Farm.

Until next time,

Blessings ~ this piece of heaven on earth ~ corn silage ~ work to keep us busy and strong ~ frost ~ the last of the flowers ~ Autumn ~


  1. Hi Sandra... Nice to meet you and your blog! Love all your FROST photos...We've been hit hard too. Enjoyed looking around at your space here, I'll be keeping an eye on you to see what you've been up to!!! Stop in anytime, love to have you, xoxo~Kathy @ Sweet Up-North Mornings...

  2. Oh Sandra you have brought back so many memories of living on my inlaws "real farm". We are smaller than small scale here ;-)

    Great pictures!

    I didn't like you rubbing it in about the time changing though! I hate the short days. Talk about getting out of sorts!!! I have been on such a late milking schedule this summer and fall because it seemed the evening milking would always be disturbed for some 'summer happening' so I just milked at almost dark. Well it's a big span of time between 5 PM and 9 PM!!!! I have been slowly scooting it back to a winter schedule.

    Great post! Tell Lassie I said 'Hi"!!

  3. Hey Sandra, this was a beautiful haunting post! I really enjoyed it! :)

  4. I really enjoyed your post. What a lovely place to live, even though it is a lot of work.

  5. Your blog posts always make me stop for a few moments and take a deep breath. Thank you! Your words and your images make me feel like I am there.

  6. Hello Sandra. Thank you for this post. It's so lovely and beautiful. For a few minutes I was able to breathe deep and smell the frosty air, the corn being cut, and the sheep as they breathe little clouds from their perches on the hills.


  7. Sandra, thanks for visiting my site this morning. I wanted to answer your question on 'charm & Jelly'. I think they are specific to Moda, but have become generic. There is a table on the sidebar under weights and measures at that give the deminsions.

  8. Thanks for your words of encouragement on my blog. I really appreciate your lovely photos! They give me a lift. Blessings for your day. This is my favorite time of year, also (even in the Los Angeles area). Blessings

  9. i don't believe there is anything more beautiful than the frost covered plants and flowers! i love fall, you never know what kinda weather you are going to get.

  10. I always love seeing frost covering plant and flowers for the first time. You have some beautiful pictures!

  11. I have often noticed that i tend to be a bit more drowsy and in need of naps in the Autumn, and this always puzzles me because the season also invigorates me.......

    As usual, the pictures of your precious countryside are beautiful and the history you present is interesting and even educational ( but don't tell anyone lest they shy away from that idea).

    I have actually had a few days like yours, where i realized I had completely missed a 'looked -forward- to' event because I lost all concept of correct time and date. I have even worried about myself at times like I will take your account as a comfort and usual occurrence! Thank-you Sandra.

  12. Sandra, I so enjoyed reading your post this morning. Can I come and visit! (LOL!) You write so well and I don't think I will ever think that corn sillage stinks again! Thank-you for sharing your farm with us.

  13. Thank you for stopping by. I have enjoyed your blog and can identify with you on the farming! I love the life, but as you said it is a tiring time when you have to get the crop in. We just did our soybeans and are waiting on the double crop to be ready. I would love to come over to your farm. Mountains..... mmmm..... love them. Grew up in Alaska around lots of mountains and ocean. Miss it bunches!!!!!!!!!! Kansas is beautiful also where we live, but nothing like Alaska!! My daughter said yesterday. Momma God has made so many beautiful places here on earth, can't imagaine how beautiful heaven will be. Smart girl! : )
    Thank you for signing up for the drawing.

  14. just found your blog. gorgeous frost px.

  15. We haven't had a frost yet - in fact still have blossoms coming on green peppers and tomato plants. Strange weather for us this year. We don't really have a farm - just ten acres and we have goats to keep our agricultural exemption for tax purposes. So not nearly the work you have to do! Always amused me (my grandparents were farmers) how people thought everything calmed down after harvest - always work to do around a place. Wonderful pictures and memories

  16. Sandra,
    Was looking for anything on the Cove and came upon your Blog. I love it, thanks so much for the inspiration. The picture of the old house brings back so much for me. My Father's Mother's family lived and work in the Cove for years as Tenant farmers. The old house you have in the photo was my Great Aunts home Ruth Brown Lowe and her husband Walter Lowe. My Great Grandfather (Poppy Brown) was the last living Blacksmith in the Eastern United States and lived in the little house on Hogback Road. We had our family reunions for years at the Cove Church and at my Great Uncle Reece Brown's old home. I love your photos, I travel through there quite a bit just to snap photos for myself. I love it and so happy I stumbled upon this site. Thanks Again. ReaZhonda

  17. Welcome, Kathy - good of you to stop by and visit, please return soon.

    Welcome Rebecca - are you getting more used to regular time? I think I am...finally!

    Welcome Carol - your words are a treasure, thank you.

    Welcome Deborah - a ton of work but I love it so -smile-.

    Welcome Jen - thanks for visiting and glad you enjoyed yourself. I sure enjoy seeing you here.

    Welcome Diane - thank you for the explanation. Those jelly rolls sure are cute.

    Welcome Moo - glad you visited, come back soon and thank you for your kind words.

    Welcome Life is Good - weather is always changing around here. Right now the wind is blowing around 40 mph and it's HOWLING!

    Welcome Farmchick - thank you for your lovely compliment; glad you enjoyed the photos.

    Welcome KathyB - I think I'm, finally, becoming a bit more acclimated. But, then, I've said that before and it wasn't true -smile-; hope springs eternal.

    Welcome BritChickNY - Come On Down! You sure may visit; sheep shearing day is 4/10 and I could use the help - hint, hint.

    Welcome Linda - I sure love Alaska and have family in Kenai. I'm hopeful we'll visit next year, God willing.

    Welcome Janean - many thanks for visiting and your kind words.

    Welcome LindaSue - while we have a bit more than 10 acres, in VA that's all that's needed to establish farm status. It's still a bunch of work!

    Welcome ReaZonda - That old house was home for many; Brownie/Walter and Bertie Ellswick set up housekeeping there many decades agao.
    I'm not sure I know what you mean about the last living Blacksmith in the Eastern US...I know of some, living and dead. That little house on Hogback Road is known as Joe White's Store and, as you know, housed the area blacksmith farrier.
    If y'all are still interested in reunions, the Cove Elementary School is available for rental. The Cove Church is in a state of turmoil, not quite sure what's going to happen with it. is the "community" blog... 'cept no one but me writes posts. I keep trying to get others interested but... you know how it is, I'm sure.
    Visit again, sure enjoyed meeting you.


Thank you for visiting Thistle Cove Farm; may God bless you, yours and the work of your hands and heart. My goal is to respond, here, to your comments although it may take a while.

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