Country Girl Through & Through
I'm a country girl from the western part of Virginia in a small community of New Castle/Craig County. I've lived in Craig all my life-eighteen years with my parents and siblings and forty + years with my wonderful husband.
We have two children, a boy and a girl, and two grandchildren, all of which we love very much. We live on a 500 acre+ farm that has been in my husbands family for over 200 years. We are raising beef cattle, chickens, rabbits and a couple dogs.. We grow pretty much all we eat or harvest from the farm and I can't imagine living anywhere else.
I love to create, craft, quilt, read, write, decorate, crochet, candlewick, bake, bow hunt, cook, garden, farm animals and walking/hunting in the woods. I love sharing our home with family and friends.
I hope you enjoy the posts that I enter on my blog and hopefully will be helpful and/or fun to all that read it.
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Category Archives: Family
I’m still playing “catch up” with my blogging so things may come into play a little out of sequence but I write them as I get to them.
I have a twice-monthly ritual in my life that takes me to Covington, Virginia, to visit my youngest brother. I go every other Sunday and we spend the day doing whatever he wants to do. It takes me an hour to get to him and then we usually spend about 4-5 hours together before I take him home to Merryfield.
We go riding on roads we haven’t been on, we visit cousins, we go shopping, but we always go out to lunch together. He loves going to Tractor Supply to look at the farm equipment and all of the “cowboy” clothing! Dean’s favorite food is hotdogs with mayonnaise only and a bacon cheeseburger!! Occasionally we have pizza or we try to find a restaurant that he hasn’t tried. Sometimes we head toward White Sulphur Springs WV or Fairlea, WV or we drive into Lexington or Roanoke. The day just depends on the mood he is in or how much time we have. He loves to shop and we try to find unusual shops to visit instead of Walmart every visit. Eddie and I picked him up a couple of weeks ago and took him with us to a family reunion and my brother, Junior, took him home after the reunion so we wouldn’t have to do so much traveling.
I enjoy our visits and sometimes we just stay at his place and do something in his room. He prefers going out though for that one-on-one visit and we talk about what he’s done since the last visit. When we go out he dresses up in a shirt and tie and always looks like he’s stepped out of a men’s fashion magazine but he likes dressing up. His health is much improved though his kidney function is only 40% but you never hear him complain and he’s put back on some weight! Merryfield keeps him busy going to movies, concerts, wrestling matches, shopping, and Lifeskills during the week. Lifeskills is a school for teaching day-to-day things that most of us take for granted but he enjoys the interaction with his house and schoolmates everyday.
Yesterday, July 16th, I attended a Bradley family reunion at the farm of my cousins in Newport/Craig County. I had not been to a reunion since my Dad died in the late 80’s and it was held at my grandparents, Dewey and Mabel Bradley, home in Paint Bank VA. Most of our grandparents are gone and now the cousins get together once a year in July. My paternal great-grandparents were Ott and Melissa Carr Bradley and they lived on the mountain in Sinking Creek Valley. This reunion was held at the home of Uncle Claude, grandfather’s older brother, and Virginia Kathryn Bradley and I was treated to a tour of the beautiful farmhouse.
Everyone bought a covered dish and there was so much food including fried chicken, venison roast with potatoes and carrots, salads, desserts, homemade rolls and more. We each bought items for an auction to benefit the maintenance of the family cemetery which sits behind the house on the hill.
Cousin Ralph and Aunt Jean now own the house and land around it and are working like all of us that have old farmhouses to keep the house in good shape. Old farmhouses are a chore to update, restore and make livable. This one is gorgeous and I love the lower and upper porches on the front of the house. The banisters on the upper porch are beautiful and add so much charm and grace to the house. There’s porches on both side of the house too. While standing in the house the entrance doors and all windows were open which allowed a marvelous breeze to blow through, making the house feel air-conditioned with 80* – 90* temperature outside. While walking through each room of the house you could hear whispers of the family as they grew old in this incredible home! It made me want to go visit my grandparents home and hear those same voices of time that I grew up with.
Now, the auction was the entertainment of the day!! Cousins Ralph, wife Jean, and Cousin Joe kept the atmosphere full of laughter, smiles and goodwill as they “tried” to be auctioneer’s for the absent cousin that truly is an auctioneer! Everyone went home with treasures that others considered junk and a good amount of cash was accrued for the mowing and upkeep of the cemetery.
Cousin Ralph has promised to take me and my husband on a tour of the farm, cemetery and old home place on the mountain when the weather cools. In the meantime, I’ll pull together more information about my cousins, their families and our great grandparents.
What a wonderful and blessed day!! More stories to follow of my heritage as the summer goes on.
Declan Bryant, my son’s little boy, is 10 months old today!! He got his first tooth on Friday!!
My daughters very good friend from Norfolk VA came to visit over the weekend for her birthday. Ashley and Heather grew up together in elementary school and only recently have they found each other again and I’m so glad they did! Ashley loves it here as much we do and as much as most of our visitors do. I thought I would share with you our farm through Ashley’s eyes.
On January 20th my son and I traveled to New Jersey so that I could finally meet Declan Bryant Malone-Caldwell!! I cried when I met him and when I left him.
I was so shocked at how big he was and what a beautiful little boy. He weighs 14 pounds and 12 ounces, he is rarely still unless he’s sleeping and when he talks to us he sounds so serious!!! I hope you enjoy the pictures I’ve attached of this wonderful little guy that was born almost three months too soon and weighed only two pounds and two ounces in July 2016.
We had a wonderful three days with him and I can’t wait to go for another visit but it truly breaks my heart to leave him. He is a very happy little boy and his mom said that when he has the final surgery she will feel better traveling any distance with him. She said she would bring him to the farm when she feels she can safely travel any distance away from his neonatal doctors and his regular physicians.
Then we had to leave, but I hope to get up to NJ one more time before he turns one year old. Our son visits him once a month and Declan’s Grandmother Malone keeps in touch with me almost daily and sends us pictures every day that she is with him.
I had a birthday back in December and was blessed with some beautiful gifts from my family and friends.
My daughter as always overdid in the gift department and she brought me these beauties!
She has a real knack for finding cards that make me weepy and they mean so much because I know she meant every word the card had printed!
My son took us out to eat for my birthday a few days later at a new restaurant in New Castle call Bibo’s and I had the most wonderful calzone I’ve ever eaten.
Hubby never forgets my birthday and he had my gift hidden for a few days at the other farm but it arrived the night before so I could help him get it in the house where I wanted it!
I got beautiful cards from friends, hand-knitted wash cloths from Margaret (early gift) , birthday wishes from email and blogging friends and this beautiful charm from a special friend that I used to work with!
All of these are given with love and make me realize how blessed I am to have them all in my life! I never regret birthdays and getting older, I cherish them and thank God above that he still allows me to be on this earth with my loving family and friends another year!
I still haven’t seen my grandson and he turned 6 months old yesterday. He’s growing like a weed and Grandmother Malone told me weighed almost 13 pounds at his last checkup. She also tells me he smiles all the time!
I made these little sets for him for Christmas and my son will take them to him in two weeks. I hope he’ll still be able to wear what I made and the things the family bought him for Christmas.
I want to make some bibs, which no baby ever has enough of, a quilt and some more hats and mittens if he’s grown out of the ones he gets very soon! I want to make him some booties but need to wait until his Dad can measure his foot for me. I’ll mail them to Grandmother Malone for him when they’re made.
He is six months old today and looks adorable!!! He always has a smile now and looks like he’s been out in the sun!!
Nana, Papa, & Virginia family love you Declan!
My Bucket List for 2017
1st and foremost, meet my baby grandson that lives in New Jersey!
2nd Finish the snowman quilt and sampler quilt in my sewing room.
3rd Dinner once a month for my kids at our house.
4th Paint or have my living room renovated and painted.
5th Clean up and clean out my laundry room which used to be the pump room/milk house that our ancestors used to keep the milk products really cold.
6th Build up my rose garden.
7th Landscape my gazebo and put in a fire pit at the gazebo for nightly star-gazing!
Gazebo summer 2016
8th Move my chickens into their new abode.
9th Have one more yard/estate sale at the mansion with my daughter.
2016 sale went quite well and we’ll have just as many treasures in 2017!
10th Take a one-day road trip with hubby just to get away!
This doesn’t seem like a big list but finishing it within 12 months will be a huge undertaking. Wish me luck!
Nana and Papa are in what looks like a Halloween fog today but it’s supposed to warm up later this morning. Hunting season is very unusual this year and it’s too hot to hunt.
We’re preparing for winter even though it’s very warm. The woodhouse is almost full of firewood and I’ve filled three large boxes with kindling. The few apples that we had this year have been picked and made into applesauce which I bet you will love and Nana canned 20 half gallons of apple juice. We don’t buy a lot of food that we eat unless it flour and sugar. Granny Barbara can tell you about all of the fruit and vegetables that we grow and can. We’re a natural farm and raise chickens, cows, and rabbits. Victoria adopted one of our bunnies from the last batch and named her Leila.
She’s brown and very pretty and loves to play with Victoria. Her cat, Boo-Boo and dog, Jip, are afraid of the bunny. Isn’t that funny?!?!?!
We have about 65 cows and 30 calves on the farm now and three bulls. The farm looks like a golden forest at the moment but those golden leaves are falling really fast.
We have three ponds on the farm and each one holds different breeds of fish. The big pond has bass, perch and carp in it. The carp help keep the pond clean and we have a paddle boat that we use during the summer. Victoria loves to go out in the middle of the pond in the boat and read where it’s quiet. The smallest pond is used to raise minnows that Papa uses to trout fish with. The middle pond is loaded with bass and catfish. We want to catch out the bass and put them in the big pond. Victoria wants to teach you how to fish when you come to the farm.
I’ll tell you more about the farm as time goes on and hope that Granny Malone will read this to you. She has been to the farm and likes the quiet and beauty of the country. I hope one day you will be able to come to the farm and learn to love it as much as we do.
I hope you have a grand day with Granny and want you to know that we love you very, very much.
Love, hugs and kisses, Nana
Our grandson, Declan, is finally out of the hospital and appears to be doing well. We got word this morning that he now weighs 6 pounds 2.5 ounces and the doctor is impressed with his weight gain. His Daddy weighed 6 pounds 4 ounces when he was born. He will continue to wear a apnea monitor but we are not sure how long that will continue. Our son was going to visit him this weekend in New Jersey but has come down with a sinus infection and is afraid to go.
I can only dream of holding him for now and wish we could have more pictures of him but they don’t come very often. I’m keeping a journal of what we know about him and of pictures of him to share with him. I’ve also started a collection of books to read to him hopefully in the near future.
This is all we know for now but I know in my heart that God will make sure he knows about his other family in Virginia and will provide a way for all of us to see him soon!!
Declan means “man of prayer”!
Father’s Day at Caldwell Farms was blessed with glorious weather and our kids and granddaughter with us.
I fixed him a big breakfast of his favorite pancakes, maple syrup and sausages and then presented him with my gifts for being a wonderful Dad. I got him a honey extractor, double strainer and honey de-capper.
Shawn knows how much his Dad enjoys going to Cracker Barrell and gifted his Dad with a gift certificate. We like to go there for breakfast every couple of months.
Heather gifted her Dad with some new bibs, gloves and a new box of honeycomb. I think once our hay is off the ground and rolled we’ll be taking care of business with the beehives.
Our beautiful granddaughter has grown up and graduated from high school! We’re all so very, very proud of her and know she can accomplish anything she sets her mind too when she wants to. I want to share our evening watching her walk down the aisle and get that diploma.
I leave my granddaughter with this quote from Steve Jobs:
“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.” – Steve Jobs
Victoria Elizabeth, we love you and are very proud of you! Nana
I don’t even know where to begin. My daughter and I decided to have an Estate/Yard sale and for the entire month, we gathered, took pictures, priced, organized and prepared for the largest yard sale I’ve ever seen that was for one family. Of course, it was four generations of collections of one family, the Caldwells. It was a history of the Caldwell family that was taking up too much space and after watching my daughter dealing with my mother-in-laws estate and the clean-out of her house, I decided I would not do that to my children after I’m gone.
We cleaned out my house, the Mansion, and the remains of what Heather and her Dad cleaned out of her grandmother’s “stuff” and had our sale on Saturday. It included, antiques from three or four generations ago, household items from our home, Heather’s home, my husband’s grandmother and aunt & uncle, and his grandfather and great-grandfather, tools, and we filled three entire rooms of the Mansion, the front porch and the yard.
We advertised on Facebook, our personal email contacts and asked everyone to share the details. We did really well and I was blessed to see so many old friends and acquaintances including my Dad’s best friend, Bobby Rose. What a treat to have him here on the farm. There’s a wonderful family story behind this which I will share at a later date.
We worked the sale with the help of a very special friend, JoAnn, my granddaughter and one of her best friends. We were too busy to take pictures during the day but I will share a few pictures of the treasures that left the farm.
This is just a teeny-tiny bit of what left the farm. The rooms of the house were as full as we could get them. It was a beautiful day and the cleanup has begun!!
I went to visit Dean last weekend and we did our usual trips. He loves to go to the car wash and my car needed a little cleaning.
I’ve tried to coax him into rolling down his window but he won’t have anything to do with it.
This trip I was concerned about where we would eat. He just had the last of his teeth pulled but he proved nothing would keep him from his bacon cheeseburger and french fries, it just took a little longer.
All of his teeth had to be pulled because of the disease in them and the exposed nerves. I’m told that in the next couple weeks he’ll have the impressions for the dentures made. The next big challenge will be getting him to wear them all the time. His doctors also think removing the bad teeth may improve some of his other health issues.
I was told on Monday that he will be participating in a fashion show that the Allegheny Regional Community Services will sponsor and Dean has agreed to escort his girlfriend in the show as long as he can wear “western attire”. This means finding a fringed western jacket and black khaki pants. He also wants a dressier new cowboy hat for the occasion. This is going to be a formal fashion show and he will be strutting his stuff in March.
I plan to visit him this weekend again if it’s not too frigid outside!!
This post is a little late but so worth writing!! My daughter and I took our first annual girls trip this year and I so hope we continue to do from now on. We met up with our best friends forever in Norfolk, Virginia, where our Ashley lives and my best friend forever, Margaret met us at Ashley’s home for a long weekend in October. We had a blast!!
The Girls (top to bottom)
Me, Margaret, Ashley and Heather. Ashley is holding Molly!
We lazed around in Ashley’s beautiful home in a historic district, we shopped, we toured some historic areas of Norfolk, we ate (no gorged) on wonderful food and laughed until we cried!
Ashley is a childhood friend of my daughter’s that just re-connected this summer and Margaret is my best friend in the whole wide world. We’ve been through a lot together and she’s always there for me.
Here are a few of the pictures we took while on our 1st Annual Girls Trip.
We visited the Virginia Living Museum while there and it’s home to more than 250 species of animals found in Virginia including reptiles, mammals, birds and fish. They provide a sanctuary for orphaned, non-releasable or injured animals.
Heather enjoying the sights at the Virginia Living Museum in Newport News.
Ashley checking out another exhibit. It’s a wonderful excursion and we saw so many animals and their habitats.
I can’t remember exactly what this part was but it was gorgeous stone work.
We talked and laughed so much that I forgot to take a lot of pictures but believe me it was a wonderful trip!
We all cried when we parted but promised to make it a regular visit and our hostess was the “mostess”!! She introduced us to a lovely new friend Sally Haynes who joined us along with Ashley at the farm for Thanksgiving.
It was such a wonderful trip for me and my daughter to spend special time together and to be with such special friends. I’m really looking forward to next years 2nd Annual Girl Trip!!!
What a very blessed Saturday I experienced with some cousins of my hubby! On May 15, 2014, his only surviving paternal aunt passed away. Peggy Ann was such a beautiful woman and I considered her a friend because she welcomed me into the family with open arms the first time I ever met her as did her husband, Dickie. Peggy Ann and Dickie lived in Lanexa, Virginia and have two children, Stuart III and Teresa. I’ve never met Teresa unfortunately but Stuart and his beautiful wife, Debra, have become very special to me and have been to the farm previously. They have a 28-year-old son, Stuart IV, and daughters, Heather, Dana and Brianne. Heather and Dana had not been here before and were anxious to meet us and see where they’re grandmother was raised along with four other generations.
On Saturday, all of the family except for Teresa and Bri, but including two special son-in-laws and four grandchildren, caravan to Craig County to memorialize Peggy Ann and spread her ashes on her beloved mountain on the family farm which connects to our farm. This was the first time that me and Eddie had met Heather and Dana and their children. Our daughter and granddaughter joined us shortly after they arrived.
We spent the day with four of the most adorable kids and one being a seven month (I think) little girl by the name of Vada but I’ve nicknamed Ducky. I was in heaven!!
Cousin Stuart was thrilled to be able to share the farm with his kids, son-in-laws, and grandchildren and they all visited the house that his mom grew up in. It’s still standing and they’re hoping to fix it up a little and be able to come and camp out whenever they want.
Hubby is not a great champion to babies and never was but I think he fell in love with Vada and she him!
He doesn’t let just anyone wear his hats!!
Before they trekked to the mountain in the cold to spread Aunt Peggy’s ashes they all got to visit the animals, check out the cellar, hives and sugar house after we had a small lunch.
This was a day I will never forget and am so looking forward to a return visit very soon.
I’ m planning to visit little brother tomorrow and it made me think of my visit a week before last. They bowl on Mondays or Tuesdays depending on the availability of the lanes. They meaning the other Special Olympics residents in Covington. I decided to go watch him bowl without him knowing I was coming. I got there a little early and waited for the team from his residence to arrive and joined them as they were crossing the parking lot. His face lit up like a rainbow!! We went in and got they’re assigned lane and he and Kevin his roommate started changing their shoes and readied their bowling balls.
Once the other group arrived and his new girlfriend joined him with a big hug, bowling was history! 😉
The bowling lasted about an hour and then it was time to head back to Merryfield for showers, meds and winding down before bed.
It was fun watching him and that weekend at a dance given at the Covington Moose Club he was awarded a new Special Olympics metal for the area and his hard work bowling. THREE CHEERS EVERYONE!!!
This is another late post but better late than never!
My beautiful first-born has had a lot of exciting things happening to him in the last couple years.
Shawn was the little tiny thing born in 1973 at 6 pounds 4 ounces and the new love of my life in June 1973.
He grew up way too fast and we are so very, very proud of him. He took a new job in Christiansburg a couple of years ago after receiving his Bachelors Degree in Engineering. Soon after met the love of his life, Jennie Malone.
Recently got a very nice promotion, bought a new truck, bought a house AND got engaged.
Last month Jen’s mom and sister came for a visit with them and the newly engaged couple invited the family to a cookout at their new home and to meet Jen’s sister, Cynthia. We had met her mother, Barbara, last fall when she came to visit and they brought her to the farm. She and I hit it off right away and she’s a genuinely lovely person.
Eddie, myself, Heather and her husband, Joel met at the new house which they had put together after moving in within a month. I was really proud of all they had done and organized in such quick fashion. Eddie was very impressed with their new home and even more impressed that Shawn had a place all his own and not renting.
Anyway, back to the cookout, Shawn was the chef and I’m sad to say I didn’t get any pictures of that but what a spread they put out. He has become the “Grill Master” and all he needed was a chef’s hat!! We had chicken which had been marinated in a special sauce that Jen got from another chef (I believe), we had hotdogs, hamburgers and all the sides you could imagine and we pigged out. Everything was so good!!
Then came the homemade peach tart that Jen made that morning which was great. She loves making tarts. I had picked up a strawberry short-cake on the way to their home (horrible) and she had also made another strawberry dessert that I didn’t get the name of. Heather had made some of her divine deviled eggs and everything was delicious.
Shawn’s best friend joined us and a good time was had by all. There was lots of laughter, touring of the new home and relaxing on their huge deck on the back of the house. We ate until we couldn’t move and there goes the weight loss program I’ve been working on again!!
We’ve all been invited back and looking forward to it!
Definition: the capacity to accept or tolerate delay, trouble, or suffering without getting angry or upset; the state of endurance under difficult circumstances, which can mean persevering in the face of delay or provocation without acting on annoyance/anger in a negative way; or exhibiting forbearance when under strain, especially when faced with longer-term difficulties. Patience is the level of endurance one can take before negativity. It is also used to refer to the character trait of being steadfast.
In the Epistle of James, the Bible urges Christians to be patient, and ” see how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth,…until it receives the early and the late rains.” (James 5:7-11, NAB).
I’m patiently waiting for spring and the first sign of spring on our farm is this little bird.
One problem, I don’t have the patience I used to have!!
I hope you will remember previous posts I’ve written about my younger brother. He now lives in a wonderful Intermediate Care Facility near by and I see him twice a month and sometimes more often. I love him dearly and he makes me smile, most of the time.
I promised him back in the summer that I would take him on a trip to meet up with his old girlfriend that lives in another town about an hour away from where he is now. It has been 15+ years since they had seen each other. They send cards and letters to each other but had no way of seeing each other. My brother is not a big talker on the phone so they didn’t call each other either.
Right after Christmas I had a two full weeks off and set up a date for them two of them to have lunch together and go to a mall. I called her sister to see if everything could be arranged. Her sister does not drive so we couldn’t meet half way but I picked Dean up at 10:00 a.m. and we drove to her house to pick up her and the sister. I took them all to Applebee’s for lunch at one of the local malls. On the way to lunch they sit in the back seat of my car holding hands and exchanged Christmas gifts. The sister and I got quite a kick out of watching and listening to them. It was as if there had never been 15 years and almost 60 miles between them. We took lots of pictures, ate and let them order whatever they wanted, and then we went shopping in the mall. They hit every jewelry counter in the mall and talked about getting married. They’re so funny. He bought her a stuffed animal cat and she calls it Dean. Hope you can see the happiness in their faces!
We’ll make sure they get together again in warmer weather!!
She was born!
And all of a sudden she’s 17 and a beautiful young lady!!