On October 27th I had a very special lunch date with a very special guy in my life and he’s not my husband!!! This lunch date was to celebrate his 5th birthday!
LOVE YOU, MICAH!!
On October 27th I had a very special lunch date with a very special guy in my life and he’s not my husband!!! This lunch date was to celebrate his 5th birthday!
LOVE YOU, MICAH!!
I brought all of my flowering Thanksgiving and Christmas cacti in the first week of October and now my upstairs foyer is full of color! Everything outside has lost its beauty since the leaves are gone and we’ve had so many frosts and freezes! The beauty inside is grand!
Hubby and I have had more dates this year than we have had since we moved on this farm. I’m not sure why but don’t question it because I love every minute we’re together whether it’s here or away from the farm.
On September 26th we went to Cass, West Virginia, and took a rail ride that was awe-inspiring and I would recommend the trip to everyone. I’m going to leave you with a little snippet from their website and then a pictorial or our wonderful day trip.
Cass Scenic Railroad, an 11-mile (18 km) long heritage railroad that is owned by the West Virginia State Rail Authority and operated by the Durbin & Greenbrier Valley Railroad.
Founded in 1901 by the West Virginia Pulp and Paper Company (now WestRock), Cass was built as a company town to serve the needs of the men who worked in the nearby mountains cutting spruce and hemlock for the West Virginia Spruce Lumber Company, a subsidiary of WVP&P. At one time, the sawmill at Cass was the largest double-band sawmill in the world. It processed an estimated 1.25 billion board feet (104,000,000 cu ft; 2,950,000 m3) of lumber during its lifetime.
In 1901 work started on the railroad, which climbs Back Allegheny Mountain. The railroad eventually reached a meadow area, now known as Whitaker Station, where a logging camp was established for the immigrants who were building the railroad. The railroad soon reached to the top of Gobblers Knob, and then to a location on top of the mountain known as ‘Spruce’. The railroad built a small town at this location, complete with a company store, houses, a hotel, and a doctor’s office. Work soon commenced on logging out the Red Spruce trees, which grew in the higher elevations.
Hope you enjoy the pictures as much as we enjoyed our day. It was our first ride on a train and I would go again in a heartbeat. For more information, here’s the link to their website, http://mountainrailwv.com/tour/cass-scenic-railroad-bald-knob-trip/ . They provided us a lunch and when we returned from the ride we took in the sites around the depot.
This summer our home has been a work in progress project for me. I’ve wanted my living room and kitchen painted for two or three years but haven’t had the courage to start the painting myself like I used to. I just didn’t have the energy! When hubby asked last December what I wanted for my birthday and Christmas I told him I wanted professionals to paint the living room for me. The darling man told me to find who I wanted to paint and to get a quote for doing our master bedroom ceiling (I painted the walls last year), living room and the kitchen! I was so excited so I called my favorite painter in the county in May and Eddie approved the quote he gave us!! Pallette Painting started the job on September 29th and finished the following weekend! It looked fabulous, clean and bright! It took another week to get everything put back together and I’m one happy camper!!! Here are before and after pictures:
Bare in mind that our wonderful home has been in the family for almost 200 years and we have lived in it since 2002 and I’ve only painted it once. I clean a lot but you can only do so much.
The living room is small but comfortable and has a wood stove in it for heating it and our bedroom. The kitchen is huge and has clapboard on one end of the room, wide wood boards on the other three walls with two different kinds of paneling halfway up the walls. I LOVE MY KITCHEN! It’s dark due to an enclosed side porch on the east side and a family room on the west side. I need and want lots of light!!! Here’s what I got:
I am a happy camper and love my old farmhouse very much!
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.
The last two years we’ve had an abundance of cabbage which I have canned and frozen. We shared with our daughters and other family and some of our neighbors. I was starting to run short on sauerkraut so I contacted my neighbor, Linda Smith, about the moon signs to work the cabbage and we got to it.
We brought in four large heads (very large) and Eddie started cutting thin strips from the washed and drained heads. First he quarters the heads and then uses one of our LEM butcher knives to slice off thin strips into a large pan. I mention LEM knives because we think they’re awesome (http://www.lemproducts.com/category ) because they keep a sharp edge longer than most we have and they have all sizes you could possibly need.
Next we bring out my big crock and mallet that Eddie made for me years ago.
As you mash the cabbage, liquid will start oozing out of the cabbage and this will make the brine needed to sour the cabbage. You WILL NOT add any water to this mixture, only cabbage and table salt. You MUST salt each layer as you go through the process.
My first peek at the concoction is about 5-7 days from the covering. We check to make sure it’s bubbling/fermenting and we do our first taste test. The cabbage will taste slightly salty and may be just a bit tart. If we get that taste we know everything is good but if we don’t we may be in trouble! We check again in two days, sour is good, smelly is bad!!!! If it’s bad, we throw it out to the chickens. If it’s sour, we’re whistling Dixie!! Don’t be surprised if you get a little darkened leaves on top or even a brown bubbling “stuff”, it’s part of the fermentation. We let it ferment, checking daily now and when it get’s to the sour point of making your face crinkle you’re ready to stop the process and pack it in jars. I used to use quart jars but the last three years we’ve used pints. Finish it off by packing the kraut in the jars, cleans off the tops of the jars, put on new lids and rings and pressure can the jars for 15 minutes at 10 pounds of pressure, remove from the canner and wait for the jars to seal. Man, I can taste that kraut & smoked sausage, pinto beans, fried potatoes and cornbread now!!!
The chickens needed a new home due to the age of their existing house! It leaked like a sieve. Critters were getting in no matter what we did and killed eleven of my new chicks that were under two months of age. The hill I walked to get to it was becoming a hazard for me in the winter months. We moved the chickens (they were not happy at first) into a cinder block building which has electricity and water and a separate room for their feed.
Now the chickens use the remaining area as a dusting bath! Next spring I’ll spread it out a bit and start a new area for gardening.
In our house dating was almost a thing of the past until this summer. Eddie and I have had several off the farm dates and hope to have more. We are both race fans and attend Shelor Motor Mile Speedway to watch our favorite racer, Michael Looney. If you haven’t been to a race before this is where you should start!
The races start in early summer and end in September. Mike Looney was one of my Cub Scouts a few years ago and I thoroughly enjoy watching his success behind the wheel in the Late Model Stock Car heats. Michael placed 2nd in points at the end of the 2017 season.
Eddie and I only found time to go to two races at Motor Mile Speedway this past summer but enjoyed every minute and we followed Michael on to Martinsville in September 23rd to watch him compete against about 80 other competitors.
Then on October 29th we went back to Martinsville to the NASCAR race!! We had a great time and we owe this trip to some very good friends of our that won the tickets but don’t like racing!! Thank you Jo and Rusty!!! We spent the night at The Dutch Inn where we stayed on our first honeymoon back 45 years ago!!! It was a fabulous date!
Back in September I posted about all of the wonderful vegetables and fruit that we now have stored for winter. It’s hunting season and all of that wonderful meat our hunters will bring in will stay fresh for a long time if you use the equipment I use!
Today I wanted to show and tell you about the best piece of equipment we’ve ever purchased and used to preserve our food.
We have had three of these in the past 7-10 years and they range in cost from about $50 to $130. We have had the more expensive ones but they didn’t do the job or last as long as the cheaper one. We have meat and vegies in the freezer that range from one month old to four years old and every package we open is as fresh as they day we vacuumed, sealed and placed in the freezer. Before we started using this sealer my vegies and fruits came out of the freezer mushy and old tasting but now it’s like eating fresh from the garden and vines!!
You can get the rolls of Food Saver bags from Walmart for $13.98 (two roll box) or you can get the bulk rolls from Cabelas for $29.99.
You can’t go wrong with this food preservation system! It’s quick and easy to use!
For the last four or five years I have enjoyed making personal calendars for my family and it’s a gift that they can enjoy all year-long. I’ve started calendars for this year but they are a work in progress.
I have an old computer program that I got years ago called “Greeting Card Factory” and I use it to format my calendars and I also use it when I want to make “special greeting cards. It’s awesome and I’m not sure there is a newer version on the market or not.
Once I get the main format set up I can add photos, special dates, different fonts, and the list goes on and on.
Calendars are great stocking stuffers and as I said previously they’re a gift your family and friends can enjoy all year round!! Adding family birth dates and anniversaries is a great addition and make the calendar date blocks a little large makes for a day planner, too!!
A cluttered mess is what my laundry room has been for way too long! In June I took the bull by the horns and completed a redo in about three days. Some history of the laundry room includes the fact that it was used as a milk room back when we were children. It includes a cement trough that was used to hold spring house water to keep milk cold until the dairy truck arrived to pick up the milk. It houses a hand dug well at the end of the trough that is about 12 feet deep and covered with a concrete top. When we moved into the house this well was still used but we had a new well dug shortly after moving in. The room has had nothing done to it until I retired two (almost three) years ago!!
First I emptied all I could move myself out of the room. Then I swept down the ceiling, wall, sink and floor. Next I bought two gallons of paint, one with primer and one was semi-gloss white. I wanted everything to be brighter and cleaner!
One more item off the retirement bucket list!!!
I honestly can believe the last time I posted was in September but I promise to get caught up if not by the end of today but definitely by tomorrow! Over the next two days you’ll receive several emails of my/our hectic life which has been full of hard work, fun, a few trips, more work and preparing for the winter that is sneaking up on us quickly.
For several years now I’ve been making my own cleaning supplies. I do this because over half of my grocery bill is expensive cleaning supplies and I only buy groceries maybe once a month!! I even make my own body wash and I do love it. I want first to let everyone know that I’m not the creator of all of these recipes, I follow some very frugal ladies and gents that share their wisdom with the world. Some recipes have been tweaked to meet my own needs. Tip Junkie is my favorite at the moment but I get ideas from HGTV, Real Simple, and a lot more. All you have to do is “google it”!!! My favorite make-your-own blogger is https://www.onegoodthingbyjillee.com/homemade-body-wash.html
Today’s recipe is for body wash and I love the commercial Dove Bodywash. I have very dry skin as I’ve grown older and my OB/GYN told me years ago that Dove was the mildest soap you can buy over the counter.
To make a gallon of bodywash you will need nine bars of Dove soap (other soaps tend to vary) and 18 cups of boiling water. I like to make a gallon at a time so I don’t run out as quickly!! All you do is get an old vegetable grater and grate the bars of soap into a pan. I tried to use a food processor and burnt it up, don’t do this!!!
When you get down to the last bar of soap to grate, put your pan of water on the stove to boil. The harder boil and hotter the water the quicker the process of melting the soap takes.
This bodywash makes my skin feel silky but not sticky or greasy and it lasts a lot longer than the commercial packaging!! Smells so feminine!
I’ll post more homemade products I personally use in future posts including my favorite window cleaner, furniture polish and floor cleaner. Let me know if you try the recipes and if you like them!
Cooler weather is good and upon us and we’ve actually had a fire in the woodstove several nights to take out the chill and dampness. Fall has crept in on us with the trees changing color and the shadows falling on the ground remind me of Halloween. Pumpkins everywhere we go and bales of straw. Scarecrows sitting in every nook and cranny!
With fall come the acts of nature that we overlook until you almost walk into it! By this I mean, bee nests and I walked right under this one several times before actually seeing it!
Can you see anything hanging from the tree? My first encounter was in July and I walked through that path about six times one looking for little chicks in distress because they couldn’t find their mom. I never saw a thing while walking but that afternoon I was in the laundry room folding clothes and looked out the window and there hung a hornet’s nest the size of a volleyball!
We didn’t want to destroy them because as long as you leave them alone hornets are good! They catch thousands of houseflies!! That’s the GOOD!
The BAD is if I had walked into their nest and made them mad!! I would have been stung several times before realizing what was happening! The UGLY is those insects are black, big and build onto that nest all summer. It’s huge now!
Along with the hornets we’re seeing lots of bumblebee’s which have a nest in the ground in my rose garden. The rose garden is a mess now because I can’t get in it to weed. The yellow jackets and sand hornets are all over the apples in the orchards but we haven’t found their nests yet. All of the bees make great pollinators but they do have an ugly and mean side!!!
I’ve not had a lot of time to write posts this summer because I’ve been doing this:
Of course we also had green beans this year but I didn’t can very many because we had a lot left over so about four canners (28 quarts) was enough to fill up the shelves.
Then to sum it all up we have these:
I have a new plant this year that is absolutely gorgeous! They’re called Moonflower’s because their huge blossoms open during the night.
We woke this morning to this beautiful sight at our gazebo at the pond.
Fern Michael’s is at the top of my reading list at the moment and I have listened to several of her audiobooks in the last few months when traveling to see my brother and going to my cleaning jobs. She makes me laugh, keeps me enthralled with every word and spins quite wonderful tales of a “sisterhood of women” executing justice for those taken advantage of. The following are only three that I recommend and think any woman will enjoy! For more of her books that I have read and rated check out my GoodReads site at
Future updates to come! Read a book and take yourself to a good place!
We have lived in our present home since 2002. Due to reason’s beyond our control we could not do anything to the house for several years. The house is over 200 years old and needed lots of updating as most old farmhouses do. Each year we had a bucket list of things that needed attention or changes. We also had 500+ acres of farmland and beef cattle to care for. Closets were the least of our worries!!
Finally this spring I got to clean out a very small closet under the stairs which were on the west side of our living room. We rarely used it BUT it needed to be cleaned out and cleaned up!!
It was full of boxes of dishes, old farm receipts, tax papers dating back as far as the 1960’s, some antiques, a telescope, cobbler’s shoe tree, antique dynamite detonation box, and lots of very old clothes. I had several bags of trash to take to the landfill!
Now it’s cleaned out, scrubbed and refreshed with only the telescope taking up residence. I will probably store our window fans in the nice space after summer heating is over. I had hubby cut me some cedar blocks from a fallen tree to place in the space to keep it from smelling like an old house and the beautiful wooden planks on the wall show up nicely now.
One more bucket list item marked off!!
These cutting remind me so much of forsythia but they are in fact willow tree branches from a very old tree at my husband’s grandfather’s farm across the road from us.
Our daughter loves weeping willows and has bought several and planted at her new home on our family farm but they have all died.
Hubby and I decided to get some cuttings from Granddaddy Harry’s farm and see if I could get them started in a bucket of water. We cut about 50 branches of new starts, old branches and broken branches. I put them in a five-gallon bucket and filled it with water and placed the bucket under the roof overhang of the east facing side of our house/ They set there for about two months and the roots that came out on those branches were quite plentiful and very healthy.
In April, I set about 20 of the healthiest starts out in buckets of very fertile soil and the majority of them have lived.
Now all she has to do is decide how many she wants and where she will plant them. If they don’t make it there will be no money lost and my time was worth the wait to watch them become little trees. I love growing things!
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.
They’re wild and ripening!
We’re thinking ice cream and jelly, nothing to beat fresh made ice cream with raspberries mixed in. I have to pick them daily because the chickens have found the stash and are eating what they can reach. We’ve picked about a gallon so far and should get at least that many more from this small patch.
Do you like the convenience of a dish towel hanging close by in the kitchen? For years I’ve made my own hanging towels and they’re quick and easy and only take half a towel.
I have lots of them and change them about every other day depending on how much they’ve been soiled. Here’s how I make them:
Then I fold them in half and cut them in half. Then I turn down the cut edge about a 1/2 inch and using a large darning needle threaded with a matching yarn, I blanket stitch the fold down. The stitches are usually about 1/4 – 3/8 inch long, longer stitches will show more and not fill in the top of the towel quite enough.
Tie off the end of the towel with a couple whip stitches and knot. From here I make a single crochet using a Size F crochet hook in each blanket stitch across the towel. At this point you can use any crochet stitch you want throughout the towel until it’s about five to six inches wide. I mix the crochet stitches on some and single crochet throughout, just depends on my mood and how fast I want to make up the towels. At the end of each row, DO NOT chain and turn. This is how you will decreast the rows to go into a point. To decrease the row, pull the yarn through two or three stitches. My instructions aren’t great but if you crochet at all you will know how to do this. For more details just comment on this post. When I get towards the end with about 6-9 stitches on the row, I add that turning stitch until I have a tab look at the end. At the end of the last row you crochet make a chain of about 10-12 chain stitches and carry it back to the start of that row and pull through your first stitch several times to make it stay.
Fold that tab over and place your button in the middle of crochet work to meet the chain. Your done! Not sure I would make a very good crochet instructor unless it was a one on one session!!
Every year our pond becomes invaded by snapping turtles that eat the fish and frogs from the ponds. A few weeks ago we found where some varmint had found several turtle egg nests on the farm on the side of a mountain spring that runs through the farm to Sinking Creek.
You can see the shells along the side of the hole and below it.
But with that being said we don’t like having them in our pond so we set “trot lines” (heavy nylon thread with a huge hook on the end ) to catch the beast that eat our frogs and fish. We caught one night before last and our dinner that night was chicken fried turtle. fried potatoes, cantaloupe and asparagus. So good!!!
officially begun! Two small meadows were mowed yesterday along with a corner of one of the large fields. Today and tomorrow will be a mad rush to get all of it baled into 4 x 5 bales before another good chance of showers rolls in.
The Art of Living
This site is about my life as a farmgirl, wife, mother and grandmother and the things I love to do. I've been married to the same man that I love for 40+ years. We have two beautiful adult children and one granddaughter. We pretty much live off of our farm by raising our food or hunting for it. My blog is a day to day walk-through of our life.
Ben Eagle thinking about food, farming, sustainability, conservation and the countryside
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