Author Archives: countrygirllifeonthefarm

About countrygirllifeonthefarm

I am a wife, mother, and grandmother that lives on a farm in Craig County, Virginia and I am retired. I love to cook, read, quilt, craft, garden, hunt and take long walks in the woods. I have one gorgeous teen granddaughter, a wonderful little grandson and two beautiful and caring children, boy & girl. I've been married to my farmer husband for 46 years and he's the "love of my life"!! I love doing things the "old" way such as canning, making maple syrup & cider, handcrafts and baking. I've taught myself to crochet, embroider, and quilt with help from my paternal grandmother. I could read until the cows come home. We live off the products we raise and hunt for the most part. We run 75 head of cattle on our farm, 30 chickens, three rabbits and one dog. I help my husband with the cattle, feeding the livestock, hauling in firewood, fence repair, and general maintenance on the farm. I was a stay-at-home mom to my children and then went to work when they finished high school. I was a cook at a School for At-Risk Teens and part-time substitute teacher. Then I started work at our local Farm Bureau and stayed there for 17 years. I worked at Virginia Tech for almost five years and decided to take early retirement in July of 2015. NOW, I'm a full-time farmwife and loving every minute of it! I love to read fiction and the Bible. I'm currently hooked on quilting novels and Annie's Attic mysteries. I started this blog in 2011 and have met so many interesting bloggers and have kept up with my friends through my blog. I love to hunt with my bow and rifle and with a camera. We hunt to fill the freezer and cellar but would never kill anything for the fun of it. I have friends and family all over the United States. Some of my ancestry last names are Bradley, Dickson, Hylton, and Rose. I've lost both of my parents to brain cancer and miss them very much. I have one sister and four living brothers. I was raised in Paint Bank VA and moved to New Castle VA when I married. I went to school in Waiteville, WV, Gap Mills, WV and New Castle Va with a short semester of college at Virginia Western Community College in Roanoke VA.

New Flowerbed

This is my newest flowerbed. It’s located between the house and the gazebo. I took with Eddie’s help all of the large chimney rock that bordered my beds in the house yard and placed them in a large rectangle in the middle of the big yard. It’s a work in progress.

The bed at the moment only has one plant in it and that’s a clematis that wasn’t getting enough sun around my porch. I placed a growing arbor in the middle for it to grow on. We stretched chicken wire around it to keep the free range chickens out of it.

I plan to add more growing medium in it before major planting next spring. I need to find some more chimney rock to build it up a bit and it’ll need about 12 large bags of MiracleGro potting mix added to it.

It’s rather dwarfed looking now but once its full of sun loving perennials it’ll be a show place, I hope! I think I want to go up one more layer of stone before adding to it. I’ll work on a plan for the plants this winter when updating my gardening journal.

The gazebo is another garden I’m working on.

I cleaned out all the stone and dug out all of the trumpet vine. This vine was too overwhelming and was growing out the roof.

After removing all the stone I cleaned up the weeds and have planted moonflowers all around it. They slowly taking root and hopefully the end of July I”ll have huge white moonflowers all around it. It’s such a peaceful spot to just sit in the late afternoon and listen to the quiet.

These were the moonflowers last summer. Can you imagine them all around the gazebo!!

Up close view of the bloom that blooms all summer.

Handmade Gifts

I love handmade!   Over the last few years I’ve asked my husband to make me gifts rather than buy them.  He hates to shop and lately I’m the same way.  Handmade means someone took the time to think about the person they’re gifting and come up with something that they think is perfect for the giftee.  Here’s a few of the things my wonderful man has made for me over the years.

This is my favorite photo of the Eddie and I. He took two old single-trees, cleaned them up and put them together to frame our photo.

 

Three spice racks made from oak, cedar and pine and now full and hanging in my country kitchen! Most of my most used spices in one spot and easy to pick out what I want.

 

Shelving runs lengthwise in my 30 ft kitchen on both sides. 

He made these in two different years to hold all of my old kitchen decor. 

I hate using plastic storage containers now. I had a large stockpile of 1/2 gallon canning jars so I moved all of my dry goods into the jars. Eddie made me this unique cabinet to go over my pie safe and that holds a lot of our food.

Staples are in airtight containers and easy to put my hands on. No more smelly plastic containers.

Eddie made me a baking tin cabinet from some wormy chestnut boards from the farm.

My round baking tins and loaf pans go in the top shelp. The baking sheets and bread pans go on the bottom shelf.

It fits perfectly beside my range and the spice shelves are directly above it.

This is my newest piece of handmade gifts from my husband! appliance/baking center in the kitchen.

I’m the luckiest girl alive to have such a loving and creative man to live with.  He doesn’t understand why I like the old, primitive look because he likes the more modern look.  I keep telling him I’m just a country girl at heart!!

Country folks!!

Three Tips

Here are three of my favorite tips around the home:

If your brown sugar hardens up or get big hard lumps in it before you can use it up, stick a single slice of bread in the container and close it up.  In 12 -24 hours your brown sugar will be fresh as if you just bought it.

 

I bake a lot of homemade cookies and at times I can’t put my hands on a truly airtight container to store them in so I treat those cookies just like my brown sugar.  Stick a fresh slice of bread in the cookie tin on top of the cookies for a few hours and those cookies will be as fresh as they were when you first baked them.

 

Like I’ve said before I love to bake and one of my favorite baked goods is a lemon meringue pie.  My oven is not exactly right and there are times that the outer edge of my pie crusts gets over done.  To remedy this I keep a long piece of foil by my baking tins.  I tear it off the roll about 30-36″ long, fold it in half until I have a long strip about 3 inches wide and I wrap it around the pie crust when the crust is golden so it won’t burn.  Make sense??  The next time I make pies I’ll take a photo of the results.  This strip of foil can be used over and over again.

More of my tips to come!

A Little Under The Weather

Where is summer???  I’m cold!!!  Last week I only worked one day and on Thursday I came down with a killer head cold and a lot of congestion.  On Wednesday last week hubby and I spent most of the day wearing extra shirts and got a big chunk of our winter wood split and stacked for the winter.

Eddie split and I stacked.

He had already stacked two ranks when I joined him.

The wind blew all day but I was never uncomfortable and we did this for about five hours taking short breaks every so often.

At the end of the five hours we only had this stack of sawed wood to split.

We had this stack of wood that didn’t need split to stack.

And these logs to saw up, split and stack.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We were tired but very proud of the big job we got started.  I fixed supper that evening after we finished our regular chores, took a hot shower and went to bed.  I woke up the next morning barely able to move and a head full of the awfulest mess you could ever have.  I started taking meds for it and slept off and on for forty eight hours.  I missed this entire week of work and am recuperating but still not able to be out amongst folks.  Eddie worked more on the wood pile today but I have been in the house trying to feel better.  My inhalers and Muscinex are helping but everyone is telling me it’s going to take time to get completely over it.  I truly hope that summer comes to visit next week because this crazy weather is NOT my friend!!

Road Trip With Carol

One Friday in the middle of May and very dear friend and I took a one day road trip all by ourselves and had a ball during the entire trip.

My very, very special friend, Carol Trutt

We had been planning for it a few months and when the day finally came it started with fierce thunderstorms and rain.  I don’t like to drive in the rain especially to areas I’m not familiar with and I was the designated driver on this trip.  When Carol got to my house it was a little later than we had planned and with the storms I thought maybe we would just head to Roanoke and spend the day looking in some of my favorite shops.  She was disappointed but understood why I didn’t want to drive further.  When we got to Salem we had breakfast at Denny’s and by the time we came out from breakfast the skies had cleared and we decided to head on to Staunton.Staunton, Virginia

The main reason we wanted to go here is because several times a year there is a wonderful book fair and we are both avid readers and I had been here twice with my daughter   Carol had never been and boy was she in for a special treat!  We were headed to the Green Valley Book Fair.Green Valley BookFair

The Green Valley Book Fair is a discount book outlet store featuring over 500,000 new books at incredible bargain prices.  Image may contain: outdoor

We spent about two hours there and both came out loaded with books, audio-books and more.

My daughter, the traveler, had prepared us a itinerary for the day and so our next stop was The Cheese Shop in Stuart’s Draft.  “Sugars & Spices and Much More at GREAT Prices!”By the time we came out of here it was 3:30 p.m. and we had a two hour drive back home.  Loaded up with all kinds of baking goods, snacks, cheese and the famous cake donuts we headed home.  We had not eaten breakfast and we dug into the dozen donuts I picked up before we left the store.  Stuffed and loaded with sugar we got back home safely after a wonderful day of catching up and decided we would take the trip again later in the summer so we could hit some more of the shops we missed on this trip!

Carol, I love you, and thank you for making it such a special day for me since I don’t leave the farm very often!!

Sadie is Growing Up

Sadie at 3 1/2 months

This has got to be one of the most loving pups we have ever had in our home.  She came to us with some bad habits but in three months they’ve all been corrected or being worked on.  Sadie will be eight months old next week and she has stopped chasing the chickens,  she’s learning not to jump up on everyone that comes to the farm, she’s treeing squirrels and she not afraid of Donald our drake anymore.  She has learned to stay away from the cattle and she alerts us to new guests that arrive.  She does get overly-excited when anyone comes to visit especially our kids and granddaughter.

I still bring her in the house at night or we would get no sleep. She barks at everything that moves!!!

I’m sure this will change once she becomes more aware of the wild animals that are lurking about at night and the not so wild ones!  In the meantime, she’s our baby and some hunting/training will begin more strictly once hay season is finished and Eddie has more time to train her to a lead and get her out in the woods on a more frequent basis. Until then I will keep up the simple training in the yard and on a daily basis.

Sadie sits peacefully with me as we had our breakfast.

She is not full grown yet and has so much energy.  Norwegian Elkhounds are wonderful dogs and very protective of their owners.

New Chicks On the Farm

Our farm is constantly growing something whether it be crops for the cattle, the garden, the herd or the flock.  Each spring I try to add new chicks to the flock so that in the winter months I can still have eggs while the older chickens can take a break.  Most chickens start laying at six months of age.  I recently added eighteen bitties to the farm.There are six Buff Orpingtons, six Speckled Susses and six Columbian Wyandottes.

Mother’s Day 2019

Nothing special was planned this year for Mother’s Day mainly because of the weather but my beautiful children were with me for short visits throughout the day.  My day started with a big breakfast (which we have every day that I don’t work) and then Eddie presented me with my new engagement ring which was actually my old ring with a new stone and the band rebuilt and cleaned and my wrap cleaned and so sparkly!!!

Later in the morning my gorgeous daughter came to visit and she got me new cushions for the front porch furniture and a Bleeding Heart plant for my bell garden.

Red cushions for two of my porch chairs.

Two striped cushions for the other two chairs.

This flower garden is called the Bell Garden because all of the plants are surrounding an old dinner bell.

I needed one more Bleeding Heart in my bell garden and Heather got it before I could even shop for them.

Soon after her visit our son came to visit and brought me some roses to replace in my rose garden that the rabbits killed.

This one is a Sunsprite Yellow Floribunda.

This is a white Pascali

The third rose is a peach/pink/yellow Peace rose.

We had a wonderful visit with both of my babies that I would give my life for in a minute.  I well up with tears when I think about how blessed I am to have my wonderful children and the father that gave them to me!!!

Unusual Bird

 

We had a visitor on the farm not too many weeks ago and at first glance we did not realize it was a crane that had come in during the night with the fog.  We see them all the night but had never seen one preening itself on our boat house.

He looked so very short sitting up there and I was convinced it had to be something different until. . . .

It flew off and set atop a broken down locust tree in the bull lot next to the boat house.  These birds are huge, endangered and eat lots of fish from our pond and we think are probably the cause of the demise of our frog population too!!

They are huge yet elegant birds with extremely long legs.

He sat in the top of that tree for most of the morning and I don’t think we’ve seen it since that morning.

 

Lost After 47 Years

Not too long after we got Sadie, our Norwegian Elkhound puppy, we decided we should take her for walks around the farm to get used to everything.  One afternoon we walked down what we call “Barker Hollow” (our neighbors, George and Betsy live down that way) with our pup and started walking back toward home and I realized it was gone!!  The diamond my husband got me when we got married had come out of the setting after 47 years.  I WAS DEVASTATED!!

I received it on February 4, 1972.

We knew there wasn’t much since in looking for it because it could have fell out of the setting anywhere  down through the dirt road we had walked.  When we got home I took off the engagement ring and the wrap that he bought for me a couple years back and was determined to replace it as soon as I could.

My hand looked rather naked without the whole set bu t the band meant as much to me as the entire set!! 47 years is a long time!!

Eddie replaced it for me for Mother’s Day and my hand feels back to normal!

I don’t wear much jewelry but these pieces mean a lot!!

The hands show the age now, used and worn.

The sparkle of the rings take away from the wrinkles!!

I sure hope this one lasts as long as the old one!!!

April Blooms All Over The Farm

Peonies are up and growing fast. Not blooming but going to be awesome when they do.

Iris and Allium are making a show. We are about three weeks behind everyone in town, 10 miles away.

Easter lilies

More Easter lilies

Forsythia in mid-bloom.

Pear trees blooming.

Peaches next to the house.

Second green gage and full of bloom

Cherries in the mountain hayfield.

Cherries in the end of the other mountain hay field.

Starting African Violets

Frilly and elegant African Violets are gorgeous and are the only plant that intimidates me on a large-scale.

Their beautiful bloom and the velvety leaves are the two reasons that I continue to try to grow them.  My Aunt Kathleen had such a green thumb when it came to growing these beauties.  She had so many of them in every color under the sun!  Last fall I got some leaves from a friend and tried once again to get them to grow.  I got really frustrated and took these steps.

Start with a stem like this.

Using a pair of scissors, snip most of the stem off.

Leave about a 1/2 inch to 3/4 inch piece of stem on the leaf.

Then cut the top of the leaf off leaving about an inch of bottom on that little stem you just cut.

I know this works because I finally got six plants started and more seem to be coming on.  Proceed!

All of the instructions I have said to use a special African Violet potting soil but I just used some leftover Miracle Gro potting mix and it did fine.  Take a lead pencil and make a small hole in the soil for the stem you’ve cut.

I used a rooting hormone called “Take Root” that I stuck the stem of the cutting in a little water and then into the white powdered rooting hormone. It works, I promise!
Next, stick the stem of the cutting into that hole and press the soil tightly around it. NOW WAIT!

It took about two months before I really started seeing results.  Truthfully,  I didn’t figure it would work so I took several cuttings and put them in a tin foil pan that I filled with the Miracle Gro just as directed above.  I had about 10 – 15 cuttings in that 10″ by 12″ tin foil casserole pan that I bought at the grocery store.

I started seeing results but still wasn’t sure they would make it through the winter. I put the pan in a north facing window of my upstairs foyer which stays around 50 – 65 degrees in the winter. It got lots of light and I only watered them when the soil looked dry, careful not to get the leaves wet. Water will make ugly spots on the leaves so water from the dirt, not over the leaves.

In March those plants took off and I had a pan full of 5″- 7″ plants and little ones coming up under the big ones.

And I had my first bloom!!!

It was time to come out of the foil pan and go into individual pots.  Sunday afternoon I went to work separating (gently) from the pan and re-potting in nice little pots I got at Dollar Tree for $1 each.

I placed them in an east facing window along with the pan that small plants are still growing in. They all got a good drink of water and they’ll be fertilized in about a month.

Now, I wait and see how they all do and when I have pots full of bloom, I’ll show them off in another post.

House Plants

I love house plants and while I’m waiting to get in the garden I thought I would share with you some of my favorite house plants.  I love plants and grow them inside and out without a lot of difficulty.  The only plants I have trouble growing are aloe, violets and beautiful orchids.

One of my favorite house plants is the prayer plant which is native to Brazil.  I’ve grown them for years and their easy to grow, keep alive and propagate.

Prayer plant

During the winter months I keep it upstairs in front of a west-facing window.  It’s watered every 7-10 days.  In the spring and late fall it gets a tablespoon of Epsom Salt.  It never stops growing and when it overflows the pot I pinch off good stems and start them in a glass of water over my kitchen sink in the window.  This plant gets its name from the petals folding up like hands in prayer at dusk.

I break stems from the main plant and stick them in clean water. If the water becomes milky before I’m ready to set them in pots, I drain off the water and refill with lukewarm water. Keep in mind that I live in the country with a well and no chlorinated water.

When I’m ready to set them in pots (you will have lots of fine roots coming from the end of each stem you pinched off), I make sure my pots are clean and fill them with Miracle-Gro potting soil.  I make an indention in the top of the soil and place the rooted stems in the dirt.  I press the soil tightly close to the stem, sprinkle a tablespoon of Epsom Salt around the base of the plant and water good.

I take this plant outside every spring after any danger of frost is gone as I do most of my house plants and they live under our maple tree on this table all summer.  They seem to dry out faster outside in the summer so I water at least once a week.

Hanging plant table used year round to hold plants in the summer and bird feeders in the winter.

My next favorite house plant is the pothos, which is really hard to kill and the one I have is over twenty years old. Several of my friends have starts from it.

This is my Pothos mother plant that is over 20 years old.

This plant takes less care than the Prayer Plant BUT while pothos plants are an easy to care for houseplant, you do need to be aware that they are poisonous. Though rarely fatal, the plant can cause irritation and vomiting if ingested due to the fact that it contains calcium oxalates. Even the sap from the plant may cause highly sensitive people to break out in a rash. It is considered toxic to cats, dogs and children, but as mentioned, it normally will make them very sick but will not kill them.  I personally have not had any problems with it but I do not keep it where children can get to it or my pets.  It’s a beautiful shade of green and if you forget to water it you may see a leaf turn yellow.  Pull off the leaf and dispose of and water the plant.  It gets the exact same care that my Prayer plant gets.

Baking Catastrophe

Saturday was a baking day.  I made bread and a pound cake for friends that help us out all the time.  So Sunday afternoon, I decided to make us one of our favorite pound cakes.

My favorite pound cake with lemon and pineapple flavoring. This won’t last long either.

Five beautiful duck eggs and three cups of sugar later it went in the oven.  It was a damp day and I knew I would have to watch carefully that it got done on the inside without getting too dry.  Forty-five minutes later it was almost done so I set the timer for another five minutes.  Thirty minutes later I didn’t hear the timer and was involved in something else and I ended up with this:

VERY WELL DONE POUND CAKE!!!  

It doesn’t look that bad in this picture but it’s black down in the pan and so dry that I’m not sure the chickens will eat it.  What am I thinking, those chickens will eat anything that doesn’t eat them first!!!

Thankfully I didn’t ruin my favorite pan!

I guess that’s what I get for trying to do too many things at one time!!!  I’ll start over today as soon as my butter is at room temperature.

Hours Later, All Gone

We went to bed with 39 degrees and woke up to frost.  In just a few short hours its ruined!

Pear trees blooming.

Peaches next to the house.

Peaches at the end of the garden.

Green gages at the other end of the garden.

Second green gage and full of bloom

The apple trees are not blooming yet and one of my pear trees are just at the bud stage.  Three years in a row we’ve lost fruit to frost.  We have cherry trees high on the mountain and in our back orchard that may not have been hurt but this is April and frost is a normal spring thing!!!

Cherries in the mountain hayfield.

Cherries in the end of the other mountain hayfield. 

With this bloom gone we just have to pray that there will be enough other bloom not damaged and the honeybees will have enough to live on until we have more bloom.

Heifer Calving Issues

March plagued us with unusual calving events but not due to weather events.  First and previously posted was the “trouble” issue from a first time mother and a calf to large to deliver normally.  Eddie assisted in that delivery which produced the largest calf we have ever delivered and to date the largest calf this year.

This is Trouble. Biggest bull calf ever raised on the farm. He was born to a black angus heifer which means it was her first ever calf. We don’t like for our heifers to have large calves but apparently she was fed well which helped him grow. The sire was a two-year old Angus with small head and shoulders. Can’t imagine what he will look like fully grown or his son!!

Our second abnormal delivery was an older cow in our spring herd and she had never had any issues in the past.  This time she delivered a normal to small bull calf that was dead.  Shortly after this delivery she had another small dead bull calf and then all of her insides came out.  I’m not talking about prolapse, this was all of her female organs and intestines.  Eddie put her down quickly after to prevent ANY suffering.

Then about 10 days later another heifer delivered a huge bull calf that Eddie and I both helped deliver in our holding.  This calf lived but mother and calf were weak for about two weeks but the calf is growing.

First time heifers are always a challenge but this has been quite worrisome

VERY GRAPHIC::

The last one born was also a five-hour labor ordeal with a heifer and we had an issue after the deliver that Eddie assisted.  About an hour or so after the delivery the calf was never able to get up to nurse.  We have found in the past that if the new babe and mom are left alone things usually go as expected.  We watched this calf and mother from our front porch and Eddie decided to take the heifers some grain to keep them away from the new mother and babe.  After pouring the grain he went to investigate the situation and found all of the calf’s intestine had come out of its belly button/naval.  NEVER had we seen or heard of this!  We called a neighbor and they had never dealt with it but had heard of it and was willing to come assist.  In the meantime, I googled it and how to fix without a vet’s assistance (the cost of the vet and having to take to a hospital would far out weigh what we could get out of the calf IF it survived).  We got a clean tarp and put it in the bucket of the tractor and Eddie and I lifted him into the tractor bucket without issue.  We then hauled him to the garage where our neighbor found us to work on the calf.  First we sterilized all the equipment with 100% alcohol and then poured it all over the intestines and tried to get as much dirt and debris from the navel and the intestine without bursting them.  This took lots of time and Andy was so meticulous about cleaning everything.  Inch by inch he started pushing the intestines back into the body cavity and at one point he had to make the navel opening a bit larger and after about an hour he was ready to close up the opening.  During this entire process Eddie was holding the back feet & legs and I was holding the front legs and feet, the calf did not move even being on it’s back during the entire time.  Andy cleaned the incision several times more and then closed it all with vet staples.  He gave the calf a large dose of antibiotics and covered the wound with more alcohol. We took the calf back to his mother and she started cleaning him all over again.  You have to remember that his calf had never been able to get up to nurse.  We tried to give him colostrum to no avail and in the next three days he got up three times that we saw but we NEVER saw him nurse even with mom’s encouragement.  On the fourth day he died and as an afterthought we think we should have used a system that you put a hose down their throat into their stomach for nourishment or may should have put it down immediately but we always try to save them after the mother has gone through nine months of keeping them alive.

I want to thank our wonderful neighbor, Andy Hutton, for all he did that day and help he has given us in the past.  He hauls our cattle, helps us find good buyers for our stock, helping in repair our equipment and there for us to answer our questions.  Though we’ve been farming for 40+ years it’s always good to get first and second opinions.  Andy is our “go-to-farmer”!!!

We only have two more heifers to calve and about 9-10 older cows in our spring herd to deliver. Wish us luck!!

View From the Front Porch

What a glorious morning with all of the green grass around the farm!  We had a horrific thunder and lightning storm around midnight that lasted 35 minutes.  It was so bad that I brought Sadie and she slept peacefully by our bed all night.  I would love for you to be sitting on my front porch and see the glory of God that I can see!!

Sadie sits peacefully with me as we had our breakfast.

For some reason my camera is showing yesterday’s date but believe they’re two entirely different days!!  Yesterday was gloomy and wet most of the day!  As soon as the cake comes out of the oven and I get the bread made I’m going to be outside enjoying the splendor!!!

TROUBLE

This is Trouble. Biggest bull calf ever raised on the farm. He was born to a black Angus heifer which means it was her first ever calf. We don’t like for our heifers to have large calves but apparently she was fed well which helped him grow. The sire was a two-year old Angus with small head and shoulders. Can’t imagine what he will look like fully grown or his son!!

His mom was in labor for five hours and I was alone on the farm with her. I tried several times to get close to her to help by pulling the calf but she would have nothing to do with it. Finally when Eddie got home from a doctor’s appointment she was tired enough to lay still and he pulled the calf. Immediately she got up and walked away having nothing to do with the pain she had been in.

Of course, he was also born on a very cold and wet day and was covered with mud. The other heifer mothers came to the rescue and cleaned him up while Eddie got a bottle of milk to warm his insides.

His mother finally came back to him the next morning but would never let him nurse. She was and is protective of him but would not let him eat. Trouble is now a bottle baby and doing really well.

He was born on March 4th and instead of one month old he looks like a three-month old spring calf. Unlike most bottle fed babies he is not pot-gutted, he’s very strong and doesn’t play with the other calves though they try really hard to get him in on the racing they do each day!!

We’ve not decided if he will possibly become a sire on the farm but he definitely looks and acts like a full-grown young bull!

 

A Little Bit of Yard Cleanup

When Mother Nature allows I get out and play in the yard.  Last week I spent three days and completely cleared the debris and now I’m ready to rearrange my flower beds and fix it up!

Two weeks ago this yard was full of leaves from the leaf drop in the late fall, limbs from numerous storms through the fall, winter and spring.

All of the leaves and tree debris are gone and now I wait for warmer weather to sow some new grass.

East side of the house would be great for a flower bed along the side of the house but because of the maple trees there only a very short time for anything to get enough sunlight. I’m thinking about those shade loving hostas but I need to wait until next spring for them because we need to do some major work to the floor of the enclosed porch on that wall this year. It is nice and clean on that side of the house though.

West side of house, big cleanup. I would still be working on it if Eddie hadn’t use the leaf blower to get around the house and the wood house. The wind seems to rotate most of the leaves in this area.  This side of the yard will need the most grass seed and straw.  It’s covered by shade from June until late fall.  When we have ice, it’s worse on this side and longer to leave.

The flower beds are ready for some new growth and I’ve started flower seeds for the “dinner bell” flower garden and I’ve expanded my rose bed.  I’ll be replacing six roses, last falls cleanup left me with the area in front and behind the yard fence and I’ll be working on a new project between the front yard and the gazebo by the pond.  More on that to come soon.

 

Birthday Party Extraordinaire

Friday nights birthday dinner at Merryfield with Dean and about 60 of his friends and housemates was wonderful and he had a blast!  As soon as I got to Merryfield that evening Dean opened the door to greet me and everyone started talking at one time.   Shortly after I arrived the other guests started coming in and at 5:30 everyone gathered in the family room which had been set up along with the dining room for the dinner and festivities.  The birthday cake was presented, Happy Birthday was sung while gathering around Dean.  He was in heaven.  The blessing was given and everyone followed Dean to the food.

The festivities begin with the cake, Happy Birthday and blessing before the meal.

Toni, the dietician and chef told me that she came in at 4:30 a.m. Friday morning to start the meal and Dean was up and dressed shortly after she arrived.  He supervised the cooking all day and he was very proud of himself.  He had requested salad, lasagna, spaghetti, and a strawberry cake for his party. Toni also added green beans and fettuccine alfredo to the menu and wonderful rolls.  Along with the strawberry cake were sweet rolls and cupcakes.

Joni making sure Dean is the first served and that he gets everything he wants. There were two eight foot tables covered with the main meal.

A ten foot table was set up in a different room for all the desserts. Pecan rolls, sweet rolls and strawberry cupcakes and room in the middle for the birthday cake.

Two layers of strawberry cake with strawberry cream cheese frosting and fresh strawberries.

Dean and Ruthie, one of his housemates. They pick on each other all the time.

Joni and Dean before the party began and she thanked him for all of his help during the day.

The dining hall was so gorgeous with all the red balloons and sparkly table pieces.

Dean making sure his spot was perfect for the party!!

When does this party start!!!

Bertha, one of the CNA’s/counselors, and Dean enjoy the meal. It was Bertha, Tammy and Vergie’s day off but they wouldn’t have missed his birthday for anything.

He was chowing down on that cake and strawberries!

The birthday boy all dressed up for a party.

Eddie and I are taking him out on the 29th for his birthday to his favorite restaurant, Applebee’s!  He got lots of nice gifts and money at the party and it was a very festive event.  

Birthday Boy Turns 60

Eddie Dean Bradley looking so dashing and he’ll turn 60 on the 29th of this month.

It’s so hard for me to fathom that my baby brother will be 60 years old this month.  He is a very quiet and gentle man unless provoked.  He loves to joke and tease just like our Dad did.  Like our older brother he loves to dress up and there doesn’t have to be an occasion.  Dean lives in a long-term care facility about 60 miles from me and I go visit him every other Saturday or Sunday but usually on Sunday.  On Saturday his group is always out on a movie outing, concert, museum, parades, civic center venues, shopping or outings with their Special Olympic events.  Sundays are church and quiet time and he and I go out to eat wherever he wants to go and occasionally we visit some of the aunts and uncles that live in the area.

Tonight is the monthly Family Birthday Dinner at Merryfield where he lives and I’ll be attending to celebrate with him.  Next Friday night Eddie and I are taking him to his favorite restaurant to celebrate his birthday.  He’s been asking about it since the end of January.  He has asked for gift cards for his birthday so I’ll pick those up tonight for Hardee’s (because they have hotdogs that he loves) and Wal-Mart where he does his shopping with the counselors from Merryfield.

He’s a pretty handsome dude, don’t you think?!?!

Sadie

She’s growing like a weed, smart as a whip, and so very, very affectionate.

Sadie turned five months old this month and it’s hard to believe we’ve had her for a little over a month!  She has turned into quite a guard dog by barking when someone comes in, if she sees someone walking along the road, if the bulls move from one side of the bull lot to the other, and especially if the newborn calves are running and playing.

Last night we had a stray dog come to visit and the hair was standing all along the top of her back, from head to tail.  She was going to eat it alive!  We don’t know who it belongs to but it soon left.  It was solid black with a blue rhinestone collar that lit up when our spotlight hit it.  Sadie yipped  and growled until we went to bed.

She’s just as beautiful as she was when we got her and we’re just as in love with her now as we were a month ago.  Her favorite toy our is our coonhound Mischief and they will play all day.  She has learned that it’s not polite to run the chickens and ducks and now we’re concentrating on NOT chasing cars from our house or anywhere for that matter.  She’s a bit intimidated by the tractors and she still does not like riding in the vehicles or the gator but we’re still working on that.  Sadie loves walking in the woods and when there’s no wind we go on family walks with her.  Eddie hoping we’ll eventually run across some squirrels during our walks.  She has already treed one below Mischiefs doghouse but didn’t stay with it very long since she couldn’t find it once it went up the tree.

More updates to come on her growth and progress!  Enjoy your animals!

Preserving Season Has Begun Again

We love Creasy Green which others may call Field Cress or Dryland Cress.  We haven’t had any on this farm though we’ve tried several times.  We’ve concluded that the ground is too rich and creasy greens like poor ground.

These are the earliest of spring greens and they love the cooler weather. They’re not strong or bitter.

We have a market fairly close to home that brings in fresh produce weekly and we asked the owner of SuperValu on Rt. 460 if he could get some in and call us when they come in.  He called on Sunday afternoon and we went to pick them up.

The box they came in is about the size of banker’s box and held about 15 pounds of greens. The cost was $1.49 per pound or a whole box for $25.00 and we got the entire case.

Monday and Tuesday afternoon I washed them, washed them a second time (sand seems to hold fast to them) and then blanched them in a very large pot.

This is the largest stainless steel pot I own and I filled it to the top and put about an inch of water in the bottom of the pot.

I boiled it hard to blanch the greens and they cooked down to about a quarter of the bottom of the pot.  No salt or seasoning because I wanted to freeze them in quart bags.  I got six quarts out of the first cooking and four out of the second batch.  We had a large bowl of them for dinner last night and they were so good.

I can keep them in the freezer for about six months but they won’t last that long.  I froze just enough in each bag for a meal for the two of us.

We love them with pinto beans, fried potatoes, and cornbread!!  Great meal!