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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, February 09, 2015

Three Days of Absolutely Beautiful!

~ home sweet home ~

I'm participating in Vicki's Grow Your Blog Party here and have giveaways.

Just yesterday, the weather report said three days of absolutely beautiful! Today, tomorrow and Wednesday are supposed to be warm, sunny, bright and, totally, un-February. 


Today is rainy, chilly and absolutely not clothes hanging outside to dry weather so no laundry today and not even thinking about it. January and February have been bone crushing exhausting and mostly spent on the road, tending to business which, for the most part, is almost caught up. The South Carolina Cherry Grove condo was made ready for Canadian snowbirds (hi John and Rosie) and then for the season ahead.  The website has yet to be updated but VRBO is, mostly, updated.

In between trips, it's been farm work with time taken for drinking in the beauty. I never want to allow myself to be so busy that I forget to take time to enjoy this moment. Recently, my brother asked if I remember something and was surprised when I said, "No, I've got maybe half dozen memories of the last three years. For the most part, it's a blur." That's what grief can do to a person's mind and body; it can wrack you with such emotional pain that you simply lose huge swaths of time. Never let someone force you into how you should respond, what you should do after the death of a loved one. Thankfully, due to God's mercy and grace and the positive actions and prayers of many, I was able to come through to this side mostly whole. It takes as long as it takes...

The dogs and I did a pasture walk to clear out the water trough, pick up trash and take photos. Please note, all the work was done by the one with actual working thumbs as the dogs are moral and love support only. ahem. 

This photo was taken from the far corner fence line, in the alfalfa field and the house is seen, barely, in the distance, to the left of Morris Knob (at about 3400 feet, the tallest point in Tazewell County), where the copse of trees stand. 

On the upper hill, hay needed to be set but I have to wait until the afternoon sun has come 'round and heated up the stable door lock so it can be unlocked. (Ain't nothing ever easy, is it?) It's difficult to tell but the tractor is on a slight hill, facing downward, so I always raise the front end bucket to offset the weight of the 1100 pound round bale being picked up behind; the tractor is in 4-wheel drive for added security. I spend a lot of time thinking things through in an attempt to do my part at preventing accidents but pray and rely on God to do the actual preventing. Although, as Daddy says, "There's no such thing as "preventing an accident". I believe he's right, basically, it's just an oxymoron. So, I spent a lot of time thinking about safety and then following through.

With the tractor in reverse, I floor it, just a tad, to shove the rear spear into the hay bale. For me, this is a tricky part...the three prong spear has to be in the right places in order to pick up the bale and you can see snow on the ground so it's a trifle slick. The three prongs are one on top and two side by side below, somewhat forming a triangle. 

Usually the round metal hay ring is frozen to the ground and I'm beyond the point in time where I could physically break the ground hold then move the feeder. The round feeder weighs close to 250 pounds so the tractor is put to good use by using the front bucket to lift the feeder and break the ground hold.

Before putting the ring around the hay bale, I remove all the twine that was used in baling the hay. Others have told me they don't remove the twine but all I see is a vet bill should the horses eat the twine and it gets wrapped around their intestines. It takes all of a minute to accomplish this step, lessens my anxiety and is safer and healthier for the horses. 

Once the ring is broken from the ground I, physically, lift it from the ground

then walk it so the flat side is toward the hay bale

and drop it over the hay bale.

The last step is positioning the ring so it's even all around making it easier for the five horses to eat. 

The dogs help by providing entertainment...Daisy on the left, Sadie in the middle and Sam on the, jump, bark and generally have a high ole time. Sometimes I join in and then we all take a toes up on the pasture to enjoy heavenly scenery. 

And in the "whoever said God doesn't have a sense of humor department" might remember when, first of January, I was bemoaning the fact my wood supply was, dangerously, low. To some folks I mentioned I wanted a supply of black locust because it has the best BTU's of any wood around here, burns cleanly and leaves few ashes. I also mentioned that to God but on the next to last day in January, I figured He had other plans for me. ... Until I remembered Charlie's son had a small business selling wood. In nasty weather, on the last day of January, B. and his friend, delivered a load of wood, directly to my back porch! The wood rack had three pieces of spongy, sorry looking wood.

While the young men were working, I asked, "I'm not good with wood but that looks like oak, is it?" B. stopped working, turned to me, looked me in the eye and said, "No ma'm, it's black locust we cut out of a fence line about four years ago so it should be plenty dry. We really appreciate you buying wood from us." 

I started laughing, raised my hands to the ski and said, "Thank you, God!" The young man grinned and looked at me. I said, "First of January, I asked God for a load of black locust and, honestly, figured He'd forgotten but this proves me wrong! I bet there's laughter in heaven right about now." (Truly, I know God doesn't forget but sometimes it's easy to confuse myself.) 

I ordered three more loads and will, probably, order more before summer. I like having wood stored in the barn; makes me feel like I've got a hold on winter before it gets here next year. This young man is impressive! He shows respect by stopping his work, looking me in the eye, listening and responding with beautiful manners. Several times he said, "Thank you for buying wood; we really appreciate it." Pick me up off the floor! Charlie, you and K. have done a fabulous job; I love this boy...may I have him, please?

Using the Polaris Ranger and an old metal bed spring, I drug the yard to distribute horse manure. Lightly has been allowed to graze the yard and her manure means I don't have to spend money on chemical fertilizers (as if!). Next time, I'll use the tractor as this job was a bit too hard on the Ranger. (Daddy John did warn me...)

What's on your back porch? 

If you've surmised my computer woes are over...they are, at least for the here and now but who knows how long that will last? For a lot of years, there have been no computer problems but, since October, that's changed. Hopefully, I'll have a spell where I'm able to visit around so act surprised when I show up on your blog, although, it'll be slow going for a while. Yesterday, I dropped a ladder on my right hand and the pain level is such I'm forced to go slow; thank God my hand isn't broken.

Blessings ~ days of beauty ~ safety ~ round bales of hay ~ dogs ~ black locust wood ~ another day above ground ~ I'm ready to go but I'm not homesick ~


  1. I think you are very brave.

  2. Gosh, what a wonderful thing! Just the IDEA of someone delivering a load of locust stovewood to my place actually brought tears to my eyes.
    I think I've already reached the worn-down part of February, Snow has been deep for weeks, and is thigh-deep in the paddocks. More falling now. When I'm out struggling through chores I keep reminding myself how glad I am that I can do it AT ALL, and that is true!...but I sure don't seem to have the energy to do more than the absolute rockbottom minumum. Then I come inside, dry off, warm up, and...that's about it. I'm fretful about not doing the many things that ought to be done in the house, but I'm just fretting - not DOING.
    I think I'll do a little belated attitude adjusting today. There's a lot of Winter still ahead, and this is no time to weaken, is it, Sandra?

  3. I'm sorry you had rain yesterday because it was spectacular here. It was so nice to talk a walk with a light jacket and to open the windows! I think your views are spectacular no matter the weather.

  4. i simply want you to know that you're such a sweet encouragement and inspiration to my own grieving heart. thank you. {{{hug}}}

  5. Hi,

    Nice to meet you from Grow Your Blog party. Your live in a beautiful area and I enjoyed reading about your life and seeing your dogs having fun playing.

    Have a wonderful day,

  6. Hang in there Spring will be here soon.

  7. So many good things in this post but by far the best was God's answer in giving you the perfect wood and the young man who delivered the wood. How wonderful to read about such a young man and hope there are many, many more being raised to be a light & beacon in a world that seems to have lost respect for manners, and anything else but self.

    Your home is so beautiful and I am happy to read you're taking time to soak up the beauty & blessings while you're still living there.

  8. Hello Sandra,

    It us good to see an update from you and to know that you and the farm are progressing well together. You have obviously simplified some of the work, which is sensible, but you still have a lot if responsibilities. There can never be a dull moment, that is for sure, but it is important to 'catch the moment' and appreciate the natural beauty which surrounds you and this you do. You are a model for us all to follow in giving thanks for the many good things in our lives.

    The dogs look so very joyful as they skip and dance whilst you work. They must be great company and their antics must keep you amused. Such an pity, though, that they cannot give practical assistance. But, still, emotional support is as good a tonic as medicine.

    Now, do take the greatest care of yourself, Sandra. You are doing wonders but remember to be kind to yourself.

    All love, J and L xx

  9. How wonderful that God supplied exactly the kind of wood you wanted and it was delivered by a kind young gentleman.

    What a life you live there on the farm. It's exhilarating, beautiful, fun, satisfying, even though it is very hard work.

    You inspire me dear Sandra.

    I'm sorry you hurt your hand and hope it feels better soon.

    Happy Valentine's week ~ FlowerLady

  10. had to smile through your post-I can relate to all the hard work and especially making sure I have enough wood to stay warm in the winter.
    God does provide-hugs

  11. Great post . . . what a woman, not sure how you manage all that work, equipment . . . did I say WORK!

    Happy about the black locust . . . and pleasant delivery. I probably have already mentioned this . . . my dad loved to burn cherry and Apple wood because of the sound!

  12. What a great post! I love it when God gives us "Black Locust" gifts! I can always hear him giggling when he sees that we "get it!"

    And I can ask you a question that I've had for a long time.... We have two horses and have always purchased square bales., that we keep in the hay room until feeding time. We've thought about buying large rolls, but were concerned about the centers getting wet and moldy, out in the field. Is this a concern for your horses? Why or why not? Thanx! You can post the answer here or email me through my blog.

  13. I am really impressed with your skills on the tractor. Good job! Love the picture of the dogs frolicking.

  14. First of all, you amaze me, taking care of all of that heavy duty farm work! Secondly, I love when God answers our prayers so blatantly. Thirdly, I seriously love your white farmhouse! It's like the farmhouse of my dreams!

  15. Speaking of preventing accidents. I bet you didn't plan to drop a ladder on your hand. Ouch! Sure hope it feels better now. I imagine with the grief and likely being bone tired most days, it would be hard to remember much. Glad you got your wood to keep you warm. Take care, Tammy

  16. Speaking of preventing accidents. I bet you didn't plan to drop a ladder on your hand. Ouch! Sure hope it feels better now. I imagine with the grief and likely being bone tired most days, it would be hard to remember much. Glad you got your wood to keep you warm. Take care, Tammy

  17. Hi Sandra...I read this post and just found myself saying that you are a real trooper! I'm not very good with words, ( and this comment will be very random, I am recovering from a bit of dental surgery) but find your attitude one that I admire very much, and I want you to know that. And I know that is not your intent in writing about your work and life. The work is hard and frankly I can't picture myself doing it by myself. ( when we started our "farming" operation, it was the first time I worried about my husbands safety AT work...I couldn't believe we owned a tractor) You write so matter of factly about the work you need to do around the farm. I am grateful that you had such wonderful people deliver your wood and I love the locust wood part of the story. I am glad you have your dogs too...such companions. Your faith in God is so apparent. Thank you for making me stop and think about my own attitude about work and life and situations... And let's look forward to spring together too...I look forward to seeing the farm green up in the upcoming months! God bless you...

  18. We all do grieve in our own way, don't we? I know I remember very little of the four months I sat by my husband's bed in the hospital and nursing home. I choose not to try to dredge those memories up either! God brought me through moment-by-moment and brought me out the other side. I came across some photos of my husband in the nursing home on my camera the other day and I deleted them. Some would find this strange, but I don't want to remember him sick and feeble. I have pictures of him when he was a child; healthy and happy. Probably much closer to what he looks like in Heaven! Hang in there. Spring's a comin'! :)

  19. You are VERY brave and VERY honest. I love that about you.
    Every day you accomplish so much and I pray your rest is restorative.
    Sending love . . .

  20. Well, thank you so much for visiting A Bit About Britain. I haven't seen any previous comments you left, otherwise I would have replied - but Blogger is doing some very odd things recently. Are you following with Google Friend Connect? Yes - I discovered Vicki recently - she's a superstar. Enjoyed reading your post - fascinating - I wouldn't know where to start with the jobs you are doing there! I've never heard of 'Black Locust' assume it's a kind of wood. I think you are right; coping with loss takes time. I don't think you ever recover, exactly. But I do think we are lucky that some people come into our lives and stay awhile; it's a privilege. All the best from across the Pond!

  21. You are my hero!! I mean that sincerely. I often wonder if I could exist on the farm if it were just me doing all the work. We just never know what life will bring, but Faith, Love and True Grit can take a person through it. (I do have a Ranger now also, that would help! lol) Bless you.. you are a true inspiration to me! -Tammy

  22. Fascinating to read about your work with the tractor. Loved seeing the dogs playing.

  23. I am so impressed and intriqued by your life and work on the farm. Thank you for sharing your day with the rest of us. ANd I love the fact your black locust showed up just when you were really in need of it....smiling yeah God does it His way huh?

  24. Getting cold again. It's looking great over in Tazewell, though!

  25. Oh Black locust that is wonderful. You knew that would happen:) Oh you work so hard Sandra I do know that. I am not even going to ask about the ladder:) Take care OK, at least you will not worry about warmth. Hug.B

    Sandra I am having a hard time reading this size font I thought maybe others might be too. Thought you should know. HUG B

  26. My sister's husband died 2 years ago last month. She lives alone, now, in Western Maine. I'm sending her this blog post. thank you so much for sharing your personal love letter.

  27. Sandra, be careful with yourself! You can't afford to injure yourself -- as you said on a recent post, and Dave said, you are the most important piece of equipment on the farm!!! I hope your hand heals fully and quickly. What weather we're having! Ugh. Can't wait until warmth comes again.


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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