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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.

Monday, November 25, 2013

It's Beginning to Look Like Winter...

~ left, week's worth of wood ~
Snow is expected, 70% chance, from Wednesday through end of week. Tomorrow, 70% chance of rain and temps are low, low, low and I've been beavering away at outside chores to prepare animals, farm and myself. The wood rack is full and the wood stove is readied as well, all it needs is a lit match laid to the kindling and heat! I always like to wait until 1 Dec to start the wood stove but I'm no hero and when it's wet, cold, windy and just plain nasty, that's reason enough to light the stove and get cozy. 

I like to combine trips to town, make my gasoline count as well as my time but, lately, I've had to run errands every single day. It seems I just can't get a grip on life but, rather, life has me by the neck and is running me ragged. When I do go over the mountain, I always see this bee's nest, right. I think it's a paper wasp nest but empty now that's it's cold. It hangs over the edge of the road and, in warmer weather, I hardly ever have the moon roof open when I pass. 

Gray Tom Cat, left, likes to curl up with Sam who is resigned to his fate. Tom isn't above slapping someone when he doesn't get what he wants and Sam is the gentlest dog it's ever been my pleasure to know. Tom has almost figured out, I'll slap back, but Sam just heaves a sigh and pretends it's not happening.

Twice a day, I've been chopping ice in the livestock water tough and yesterday, made a mad dash to Tractor Supply to buy a de-icer for it. Chopping ice is no fun, especially when I tend to drench myself from the stomach down. Then, I have to deal with ice, freezing water, single digit temps, sub-zero wind chill and all while in wet clothes. I don't mind admitting I've stood there, chopping ice and cried the entire time. The livestock tank has had an air lock for more than a week and, every day, I've taken a broom stick and rammed it into the overflow pipe, hoping to break the air lock. Today, thank God, the air lock broke and water is flowing freely again. 

Carly, the 19 year old Shetland living in the yard, presents a problem regarding her drinking water. Her water has been freezing several times a day and drinking water is just as critical for four-legged animals as two-legged. The blue bucked has an electrical cord which is plugged into the studio outlet. Now, Carly, the dogs and cats have warm water 24/7. I only have to remember to fill the bucket every week and to clean it every couple of weeks. The only downside...I had such a $40 bucket last winter but sometime between then and walked. I've got a pretty good idea where it went but the game isn't worth the candle so I bit my tongue and shelled out money for a new bucket. 
~ left, blue electric water bucket ~
~ Big Red Jack, right ~
Lately, I've been buying equipment that Dave and I should have bought years ago. I don't know why I've waited this long...sometimes something can be right in front of my face and it takes me years to see it. Like the mortar work on the foundation. Since we've lived here, our foundation has had gaping holes where, over the decades, the mortar has fallen out. In October, my eyes beheld the holes yet again and, as the light dawned, I thought, Quikrete! See here where I bought some Quikrete, mixed it up and filled the holes and it's made a difference in the comfort level inside the house. 

In the above photo, the Big Red Jack is being used to lift the lawn mower so the tire can be replaced on the wheel. While mowing leaves, I cut the wheel too sharply, too often and the tire came off...what a drag! Everything is fine now...tire back on wheel and mower back in barn.  I always talk to the folks who work at the store, ask their advice, etc. and was told this jack is strong enough to handle an SUV or pick-up truck. It makes sense to upgrade just a tad in order to have a piece of equipment that will serve many masters.

This winter, I'm going to make it as easy and safe on myself as possible. The round hay feeder has been moved from over the hill to behind the stable and barn. I've frightened myself silly way to many times, driving the tractor, carrying a huge round bale of hay over the hill in slick, snowy, icy weather. The location isn't totally protected from the wind but the stable and barn are blocking the wind quite a bit and the horses have shelter just to the left of where they're standing. Boys and Girls, this is as good as it gets this year; Mama is tired and winter is yet to arrive! 
This skull is...your guess is as good as mine! and is what happens when I let the dogs enter the house without checking to make sure they have nothing in their mouths. Should I be ashamed to admit that?

Oh well.

Thank you for reading and for those who follow...following. There are close to 500 followers to this blog and when the number reaches 500, I'll have a giveaway. The treat will be a $50 debit card...just in time for Christmas. You bless me so much and I am so grateful; God bless you, yours and the work of your hands and heart!

Blessings ~ a day of national celebration this week ~ yesterday's Sabbath Keeping, it sure blessed me! ~ work to keep me busy and healthy ~ good equipment ~ a full wood rack ~ electric water bucket ~


  1. You are describing the kind of winters we knew in Vermont and Wyoming--and I shudder with chills at the memory. We used the water tub de-icers in years past. There are a few mornings when we have to break ice in the tub here, but the water doesn't usually freeze solid.
    Yes, one can be moved to tears of weary frustration when struggling with farm chores.
    I'm enjoying your Sabbath/Sunday posts--scripture is always a comfort and you have some other great quotes as well.

  2. Sounds like you are well prepared for winter for you and your animals. My goodness but you are a woman of pioneer spirit. Now it's time to light that fire, cozy up and KNIT. I know you have a stash and WIP's...oh wait...did you finish them all last year? I'm working on my WIP's...both knitting and crocheting. It's a comfort and I feel in touch with my Pioneer Spirit and my Great Grandmother Martha Jane.

    Sue CollectInTexas Gal

  3. I very much enjoyed this post! I am amazed that you can keep the animals and yourself going with all this work. how very sad that your other blue bucket grew legs and ran away from home. i have having to lock things up, but we would have nothing left here if we didn't try. Life among the multitudes, I think. Blessings, and well wishes for the coming Thanksgiving Day. I would definitely close a top roof window,if there were a hornet's nest (paper wasps) over me too! They can be ferocious! Lots of rain headed our way, cold enough to snow a bit, maybe tonight or tomorrow night, buckets of rain due for tomorrow.

  4. Oh you make me tired just reading all you do to keep the farm/ranch up and running. It sounds like you are ready for hibernation and well deserved. Hope you have a blessed Thanksgiving. Thank you for blessing us with your blog.

  5. My gosh! I cannot imagine living in a place where you have to have an electric water bucket. I presume it is all grounded etc. We have paper wasps here and they sting really badly. Happy Thanksgiving.

  6. Every time I think that I get a lot done I just come here to check on you. You are so much more active!

  7. OK, a Houston weather update: the temperature has fallen 2 degrees today, all the way down to 44f.
    I so admire all you do for your animals, Sandra. The Lord will reward you, as He already has by giving you this life. It's cold, but hey, my darling friend, I think that is better than 110, don't you?
    much love

  8. And so we pray with even more fervency about that beautiful farm blessing someone else...way too much responsibility for you, Sandra. It certainly was great to check my list and find your blog among them!

  9. I'd put a run of chain around the bucket handle, and run it through an eye-bolt you can set into the landscape timbers or into a foundation hole and mortar it in place...

  10. Good thinking, Sandra! Anything you can do to make the chores go even a tiny bit more sensibly is a good idea, in my opinion! Glad you found an alternative to hauling that hay over hill and dale this winter :)
    I lucked out and found a 'birdbath de-icer" at a tag sale a few years back, and that has been keeping the goats' main bucket thawed. Before that, I was carrying fresh buckets out twice daily and carrying the ice-filled buckets back into the house to thaw in the shower. Can't say I miss that particular sport!

  11. "but I'm no hero and when it's wet, cold, windy and just plain nasty, that's reason enough to light the stove and get cozy."

    I'm realizing what a slug I am after reading this post. You must be in some great shape! Looks like you're ready for the winter and so brave to do all you do. Hope you are cozying up to the fire tonight.

  12. Having the right tools makes a job so much easier. Glad you move the feeder closer and don't have to go so far with those large bales of hay.

    Have a great Thanksgiving and enjoy that wood stove when you do light it up.

  13. Wow, that's a lot of followers! Glad to see you're still at Thistle Cove Farm. I'll be sad when you leave, even though that's totally selfish of me.

  14. I didn't know that you could keep water unfrozen this way, that is cool. While reading this post I thought this is what it must have been like for my Grandma who was often alone on their homestead while my Grandfather was off working. She was far from town and neighbours-they were Norwegian Pioneers, your life is amazing and you are impressive!!!

  15. Dear, dear Sandra ~ I have just started following you recently and you never cease to amaze me in all that you do taking care of yourself, the farm and your critters. If you can do all of that, I can certainly, with God as my strength, handle my little 1/4 acre.

    I'm coming up on the first yr. anniversary of my husband's going home to be with God, and you inspire me so much.

    I really enjoy your sabbath posts too, thank you.

    Have a lovely Thanksgiving week and Thanksgiving day.

    Love and hugs ~ FlowerLady

  16. Dearest Sandra,
    I'm so glad you are working to make things a little less exhausting around there. Stay warm, please. The horses are so cute!

  17. Hi dear -- I love to hear about your farm, although the description of your work load is heavy! I'm glad your goal this year is to make things safer, more convenient, and easier to manage. You have so much on your plate. I love the description of Tom and the cat -- oh my!! He is a patient, long-suffering dog. As Adam says, you can only be long-suffering if you have first been long-bothered :)

  18. You popped up on my Facebook feed this morning via Karen Maston's FB. Very timely as I joined the ranks of widowhood in the last week. I'm reading your posts to glean info and am very blessed to have seven children, some of whom are old and experienced enough to really help me through all of the business end of things. We have a small hobby farm, but over the months of my husband's illness I've sold off the animals. I think our situation is much less involved than yours, but it's still no picnic. I praise God every day that Bob is safe in heaven and we'll all see him again! Day-by-day, that's how we have to do it! Hugs to you and thanks for the information and advice. :)

  19. Just reading about all of your winter preparations exhausts me. God bless you as you toil on your land and tend to the dear creatures who are under your care.

  20. My computer just crashed when I was in the middle of up a long comment to you, but the bullet points:

    ♥ I hope the rest of this winter is cozier and safer-feeling than it's been so far. I wish you warmth and rest and comfort.

    ♥ I'm glad to see FlowerLadyLorraine's above comment. She's the friend I mentioned to you months back. I've had a feeling for awhile that you two are kindred spirits.

    ♥ That can't-get-a-grip feeling: Yessssss. I hope things start to feel smoother. One of my own goals lately is to learn to take as good of care of myself as I do of others and of the things around me, and I know I'd lose my own life-has-me-by-the-neck feeling and just feel better if I could figure that one out.

    ♥ There was something else--Oh, "following." I follow along but don't even know *how* I'm following you or most people anymore. I need to organize my email susbscriptions, bookmarked blogs, GoogleReader/Blogger-followed blogs, BlogLovin'-followed blogs, etc. It's a minor thing, but I was so much better at keeping up with people when GoogleReader existed. I follow too many people to list them as a sidebar on my blog anymore--Blogger limits the number that can be listed--so that's out. Anyway, that's a trivial item on my to-do list, but I'll feel more organized after sorting all that "virtual clutter" out and just have all my good online reads listed in one place. But I'm here. :)

    I hope there's some rest and quiet moments by the fire ahead for you this week. We're getting some snow today but nothing major yet.

    Love and Best Wishes,

    Val ♥

  21. I love seeing what you have been up to and oh so cold. I can't even imagine that kind of cold.
    I do understand getting wet, I stay wet the whole time I am taking care of things outside.
    At least my clothes don't freeze.
    Have a wonderful Thanksgiving.

  22. Tom and Sam: just LOVELY! All the photos tell a romantic, serene and good-prepared winter-beginning-story in Original Thistle Style!

  23. It is a relief to me to hear that you are working on making it easier for you to get through the winter, as with the new blue bucket. I'm thinking that way, too, that is, wanting to ease the stress on my joints, my time, my emotions, to make it possible for me to keep going through the rest of my *life* :-)

    Having all that firewood at the ready will help, in many ways. It's so heartening. Here, also, we are ready that way, but yesterday and today -- and for how many cold days will this last?? -- we are forbidden to burn wood because of the air quality. :-( This always happens on the coldest days. At least, we do have a forced air natural gas furnace, and I do thank God for that!

  24. You're the hardest worker Sandra. I know you just do what has to be done but wow - what a lot you accomplish. And I'd be standing at that trough crying too! Hugs and stay warm.

  25. Stay safe and warm! Love the picture of Sam and Gray Tom Cat. Hope you have a blessed Thanksgiving Day.

  26. Hello MM, thank you for visiting TCF and for your kind words; most welcome, I assure you. We're due for a couple of warmish days...thank God! most welcome as well, I assure you -smile-.

    Sue, I've been knitting wash cloths to go into Christmas baskets. When those are finished, I'll start on a sweater I put down a while back and, hopefully, finish it by spring.

    Annie, I keep *everything* lock up and inside a building which is also sometimes locked. I've learned to trust no one much and that's sad.

    Charsley, right now I am so tired and in such pain I need 4 aspirin and 2 beers to sleep. It's been a week of tending to a down animal but, please God, it looks like he might pull through.

    Naussie, the bucket is sitting on the that grounded?

    Vicki - 'cause I have to be, woman, 'cause I have to be.

    Marsha, I'll take freezing over 110 every day! I despise the heat.

    Dianna, we are SO in agreement! Bless your heart!

    Vic, good idea but I want to take the bucket when I leave; $40 is $40 after all -grin-.

    Quinn, I'm doing everything I can to make it easier on me. This last week has been dreadful...down animal, single digit temps, snow, sleet, rain and my body is crying like a baby.

    Midlife, if round is a shape, then I'm in great shape.

    TL, I've been on a tool buying kick lately; have bought some dandy ones.

    Michelle, when I leave, I'm taking Thistle Cove Farm with me...the name at least.

    Lynne, thank you and I don't consider myself amazing, just doing my job. some days I cry like a girl...when it's cold and my body hurts.

    Lorraine, it's so difficult and it hurts...not quite as much, eventually but the pain is always close.

    Karen, yes, staying warm, at least trying to stay warm.

    MK, Tom is the cat (get it...Tom Cat? grin) and Sam is the dog and long suffering. as to the work...mercy, it is a lot and in the cold, seems double lot.

    Lisa, I am so sorry, please accept my condolences. Losing a spouse to death is awful, the worst thing I've ever gone through. Any time you need to chat...e-mail me.

    Donna, the work exhausts me too!

    Val, we are SO in agreement! I despise the changes and don't understand most of them. I don't have the time to learn a bunch of news stuff, just so it can be changed in a year. grrrrrr!

    Farm Girl, the cold works on my body and bones...I ache like a toothache most nights and a lot of days.

    Dori, you are a ray of sunshine, thank you for visiting! one of these days, you and I are going to sit down and chin wag for a very long time. hope my mansion is next to yours when we get to heaven!

    Gretchen, wood stoves gets lit after Dec 1; this week it's going to be a trifle warm...30's during the day and lower at night. Flannel nightgown weather, to be sure.

    Jill, right now my body is crying like a baby. this cold has gotten to me and I've got another day to go before I can hunker down for Sunday then Monday, back on deck. I do want to move and start complaining about the heat -grin.

    Debby, it was a quiet day and uneventful, thank God.


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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