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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.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

A Melodious Small Collection

Some years ago, ML, a dear friend of decades, traveled to London. While there, she bought this small bell, designed to be worn by a sheep or goat. When she returned home, she presented me with this little treasure and said, “I wasn't sure if you had an animal bell...”. No, I didn't but she started me on the way to a small, melodious collection of, mostly, animal bells.

Not for me the beautiful yet fragile, glass, tinkly bells. No, I have always desired the sturdy, time tested, time worn and, preferably, hand made of whatever venue. This now includes bells. A lot of my bells are handmade or, in this day and age, the word is “handcrafted” and all are sturdy and produce sounds ranging from a deep clanging of a cow bell worn to the tinnier sound of the bells worn by horse, sheep or goat.
When Dave and I traveled in Eastern Europe, we were both always on the lookout for animal bells. These, and the one on the right, as evidenced by its tag, were found in Romania and all designed for a horse. Frankly, I cannot imagine having such a clanging going on aside my head but humans, as mostly always, do what they do without considering the animal. Or, perhaps, the humans did what they did and considered all in notifying folks ahead there was a horse and wagon approaching. During all our travels, I only once saw a human riding a horse and that was for the benefit of tourists; it was invariably always a horse pushing a wagon. As an aside, the horse collar is designed so the horse pushes against it and the wagon has no choice but to follow...ingenious design!
This bell was purchased on our trip to 2004 Russia. It was this trip that necessitated my first passport and, come to think of it, the first bell ever in my collection. It now reminds me of wonderful memories of foreign travel. Dave and I were in Yaroslavl, Russia at a museum where a bell maker had a nice collection of his hand poured bells. Our translator, a former ABC guy (which is what I called the no-neck former KGB man) pressured Dave into buying the bell. Dave was furious but we were alone in a country where we didn't speak the language and the translator had been arranged by the man who had arranged the trip (and would arrive much later) so Dave purchased the bell. Frankly, I'm glad he did as it's a wonderful reminder of a fabulous trip where we did so many exciting things and met so many incredible people. Even so, Dave had many awful things to say about the ABC guy and none were complementary!
This bell was purchased in Ukraine, at a flea market. Ah me, I could have spent a small fortune at that flea market but came home with this bell, some textiles and carried home a hand made from wood pieces room divider to give to my sister. That dratted thing weighed a small ton and I'm not sure my back has ever recovered from carrying it around until I got to the airport and boxed it. Back to the bell...the leather collar is held in place by a hand carved wooden clasp; both leather and wood are well worn, the leather somewhat stiff with age but still a thing of beauty.
This bell is Polish, or rather, was purchased in Poland. That's about all that can be said as it's unknown where the bells were made or by whom. Especially the hand made bells because it's impossible to know the history but the well worn patina from both being hand crafted and worn by many animals, handled by many hands is still a sweet mystery. 
It embarrasses me I cannot remember where I purchased this bell, above. Perhaps my memory will surprise me one day...or not.

This bell still has its leather collar which is in, surprisingly, good shape and could be used today with no other preparation.  This one and the one below were purchased in Southport, NC at an antique shop. The shop owner said the, now deceased, bell owner traveled a good deal in Europe and she thought the bells might be European. It pleases me to know another woman found delight and mystery in such simple, hand made goods. Another woman saw the beauty in the everyday, hand made and found these bells worthy of being bought, carried home and admired.

This one is a cow bell, pounded out on some farmer's anvil and has a deep, melodious sound that brings to mind a placid cow, walking across an alpine pasture with nothing more serious on her mind than good grass, sweet water and being milked come evening. 

That's what comes of getting ready to move; no, the farm hasn't sold yet but like Noah ben Shea said, "Be patient. Patience is also preparation. It is the action before the act." Like I've always said, "Wait is a verb."  While waiting, I'm giving away, packing, tossing and wondering at a life well lived here on Thistle Cove Farm. Dave and I made it a good great life, one full of memories, good times, mementos and, it seems, every little thing has a history, a story and I can recall almost each one. I've begun using a small white tag to write where something was purchased or why it's special. I'm told the provenance of something, when written down or proven, makes the item more valuable. I know it makes the item more valuable in that when I read that small tag, memories, precious memories, flood over, around, through me and I'm transported to that time and place. It's part of the healing process, a good part, and I'm grateful.

Blessings ~ ML ~ a melodious small collection of bells ~ Willie Nelson ~ Precious Memories ~ Noah ben Shea ~ Dave ~ 


  1. I'm blessed to have had this guided tour of your collection, and I think it's a wonderful treasure. I have a few bells that I've inherited from various family members, and I don't have them all in one place, so I didn't think of them as a collection before. But now I will. :-)

  2. I can imagine how lovely these bells sound and what dear memories of purchasing them. We moved yesterday. Packing, I re-lived many sweet memories of the story behind each memento - including the loved Virginia Rose platter you so graciously shared with me. May God bless you. Love, M

  3. Oh yes, tag then all if you can! For if not you, then who? The tags will give meaning and clarity, to those who do not understand....

  4. BEAUTIFUL bells and those memories are priceless. I love that you are writing down where and the memories attached. I think more should do this with the things they love and found with the one they love.
    HUGS to you and I know this is hard but oh those memories are sweet. Hug B

  5. I have a small bell collection too. Yours is lovely and you have wonderful memories.

    This last bit of your post touched my heart.

    ** I know it makes the item more valuable in that when I read that small tag, memories, precious memories, flood over, around, through me and I'm transported to that time and place. It's part of the healing process, a good part, and I'm grateful. **

    Love and hugs to you dear Sandra ~ FlowerLady

  6. I agree, write something about each object. It's wonderful to read when it's been before. Sending love, Sandra.

  7. I too have a bell collection - mine are all handbells, rather than animal bells - but each has a memory. Thank you for sharing yours with us x

  8. I found this post very interesting. Really makes one wonder about the animals that might have worn them, the farmers who kept the herds and flocks, and so much more. ( Poor Dave remembering the ABC man whenever thoughts of your trip to Russia came to mind )

    I like the way you're preparing for the sale of your home, in anticipation of God working it all out in the right time. ( His time )

  9. I like the sounds of bells too. Also, windchimes are a biggy with me. I feel a little thrill when it's windy and I can hear their little clank or tinkle outside. (It's good to always tinkle outside ... lol) Anyway, that was fun to look at your bells too. I know that even though you're excited about the move that there's a little trepidation too. There's probably a zillion mixed emotions there. I pray that this will all go quickly and smoothly for you. Thanks for sharing the collection with us. What else ya got in those cabinets there ... ? ~:)

  10. I loved this Sandra. I spent time imagining some of your animals making melodic bell sounds from a distance.
    What treasures these bells are and filled with memories of travels and days with Dave. I hope this is one collection you won't give away . . .

  11. Lovely bells and memories ! Thanks for sharing , Have a good weekend !

  12. Loved the story of the bells. Thanks for sharing.

  13. I enjoyed your collection and the memories surrounding them :)

  14. A very nice collection!

  15. Sandra- what an amazing collection of bells- they are all so unique, I love reading the stories about how they came to be part of your collection. They are all so very special--

    I'm sure looking at them brings back some great memories-

  16. These are lovely bells! So you always have the sound of animals all around the world, on hills, on mountains, on big lonely plains,on green and lovely meadows; sheep, cows, even horses - always the neverending peace of animals working together with humans living a simple, hard, natural, honest life.

  17. Such a unique and amazing collection. Especially when you got to pick them up yourself in some great countries.


  18. That's a truly beautiful collection, Sandra, and all the more meaningful b/c each one elicits happy trips, happy times. They are gorgeous -- I also prefer the metal, leather, wood. They were useful.

  19. Gretchen, I've heard two of anything is a collection, especially when it's put together.

    Mildred, some of them sound lovely and some clang. It doesn't matter to me, they are all beautiful! I'm so glad you're enjoying the Virginia Rose platter.

    Hi Vic, I've tagged them all except the one I cannot remember...oh well...

    Hi Grace, hope you've enjoyed your time to the big city; love to go, love coming home even more. all bells but one are tagged, can't remember where I bought that one.

    the healing process takes as long as it takes, Rainey, it's a daily process and, lately, it's been a difficult process. love and prayers to you.

    Marsha, if I don't write it down now, I never will because I won't remember any better later.

    Angela, in another lifetime, I played handbells...what a joy!

    Kathy, I'm always after the mundane, those things that make every day life a trifle easier. Dave was very testy with the ABC man, especially as he was my interpreter and drunk by 11 a.m. daily. Yes, still packing up and trying to be ready. I somehow think when it happens, it'll happen quickly. I am SO hopeful I won't have to spend another winter here, even so, I'm preparing the house, farm and myself in case that happens.

    Pam, I like windchimes as well and should buy some. Although, why buy something I'll have to's rather discouraging these days. Grief has set in again and there are no interested folks in the farm. Like I said...God prevails.

    Lynne, I didn't use the bells on my animals; my farm is so small, I could always eye ball them. No, my bell collection is a keeper of my memories; I can't give any away.

    Hi Country Gal, thanks for visiting Thistle Cove Farm; come back soon.

    Vicki, each is special...even the one I cannot remember where I bought it...laughing at're right, great memories.

    Hi Dori, those bells bring such lovely memories...when I can remember...haha!

    It's a wonderful collection, Glenda, and bring back such good memories.

    MK, the useful always appeals to me; pretty is as pretty does.


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