Is it Gray, or is it just Winter?


We’ve been lucky with fairly mild weather so far.  But now it seems to be turning colder.  And wetter.  Cold and wet are like friends who egg each other on to be a bit more extreme.  One by itself is ok.  Both together — they go way further than they’d independently dare.  And with the sun not being as high in the sky . . . it’s as if the supervisor has turned their back so that Cold and Wet can be even bolder.  It makes for a bit of melancholy.  Or does it?  Some people enjoy the long evenings.  Time by the fire.  The  opportunity to do crafts, or read a good book.  Or watch movies and play games together.  It’s like permission to NOT farm. 


But the problem comes when farming HAS to be done.  Then it’s cold and wet and dark, and you still have to get out there and put wood in the fire and feed the cows (do they even feel the cold?  It doesn’t look like it.) and chickens.  Chickens definitely feel the cold.  They all snuggle on the porch by the front door – collecting the heat that slides through the crack that was supposed to be fixed three years ago.  I can tell they’re there, because a collection of “chicken dust” always blows through in a certain pattern when the heat from the house isn’t strong enough to push against the cold air from the outside.  And chickens don’t lay many eggs in the winter time.  I wouldn’t want to either. 


And when there are evening things to be done (as there invariably are – like school board, and the other school board, and Pathfinders), it just seems like it’s way too late to be going out in the wet and the cold and the dark. 


I wonder how people do it where it’s perpetually dark, like for months on end.  I can’t imagine it’s just dark.  I think that cousin Dark is the worst influence on Cold and Wet.  Send in the sunshine!!  I’m not cut out for this.


You can join me in seeing all sorts of skies here. You might even see some sunshine!



Crossroads and Fire






I long for milder weather when I can sit on my porch and watch the flames of the jiko.  More than that, I wish the flames of the jiko would help me to think more clearly.

I made a conscious decision to NOT make new year’s resolutions this year. (Does that mean I made a resolution?  I’m DOOMED)  I’m so tired of unfulfilled resolutions.  What is the point!?  Why do people think that the change on a calendar page is going to improve their ability to follow through better, avoid everything bad and accomplish everything good?  Really!?  Does it happen?  Why can’t we just decide on a random Tuesday in February that we want to make a change and expect positive results?  I guess people do.  It just happens with a vengeance around New Year’s day. 

I hope that the people who DID make resolutions experience success.  There are plenty of things I’d like to change about myself.  I didn’t resolve to NOT make those changes.  I just decided that the change wouldn’t have to magically happen in January.  Except for that "Juice In January" thing.  I bought a juicer.  It’s all the rage.  Everyone has a juicer.  And they’re juicing.  Some of my friends even juiced in December (WHATever!!!).  I’m juicing in January.  But not every day.  And not every meal.  Just sometimes.  Except for one week.  I am going to do an entire week of juicing.  But not this week.  And probably not next week.  And mostly likely not a Sunday – Saturday week either. It is not a resolution.   It’s just something I decided to do.  And I like alliteration, so I’d be hard pressed to figure out how to use my juicer in February.  I think I’ll Fry in February.  Everything I eat is going to be fried.  Yeah.  That’s it.

Here’s an interesting thing . . . I "resolved" to NOT make any resolutions, but here I am at the beginning of the year with a new blog post.  After what, like 2 years of NO posts?  Is it a resolution, or just something that happened?  I think that’s the issue.  If you start doing something at the beginning of a year, then people (or I) automatically label it a "resolution" and put all that pressure on a person.  And watch how laughably unsuccessful that person might be.  This blog post is NOT part of any resolution – it’s just something I’m doing.  Maybe I won’t do another post for like 28 months.  So go ahead, and hold your breath (or not). 

- – - by the way – - – when I started my blog originally, it wasn’t on January 1 either.  Just so you know.  I’m rebellious like that.

The Attack of the Dead Rooster


There once was a happy family of chickens. Among those chickens there were two beautiful roosters.


One of the roosters was mild-mannered and happy.  The other one was . . . well – he wasn’t mild-mannered.  Or happy.  He thought he was the boss-rooster and did his best to make his dominance known.  The hens suffered much under his authority.


This rooster was so mean, that even the neighbor’s dogs (who have had many tasty chicken dinners at our expense) decided that this guy was just good for nothing.  He did teach the rooster a lesson, however.


Despite this scuffle, the rooster survived, albeit with a reduced ego.


(By the way . . . the dog who attacked this rooster is dead.  And it wasn’t by my hand, even though I threatened repeatedly to run over him with my car, and would have had I not worried about the damage that would have happened to my bumper and to significant family relationships)

But one day, very recently (yesterday), this rooster made a fatal error.  When I let the chickens out of their coop for a break from  the mud that is their home (with all the rain this week and last), the rooster challenged me to a cock fight.  Now, this has happened in the past and he has received quite the beating.  I’ve witnessed him flying backwards by 10 feet (with help from my foot) he’s met with a broom, and a shoe, a hand, and various other implements of torture by various other people.  But this time, he made his lucky fatal strike.  He spurred my ankle.  With a vengeance.  Had I not been in a hurry, I think I might have sat down and cried.  I didn’t realize the extent of the damage till I got to my destination.  This is the "cleaned up" version . . . I was actually leaving a trail without knowing it)

Now, trust me . . those little puncture wounds (did you see them on BOTH sides of my ankle!?) didn’t hurt very badly.  They didn’t want to stop bleeding, but they didn’t hurt very much.  But my ankle ACHED.  Like BONE-ache.  It was as if poison had been injected into my joint or something (that’s how it felt – it’s not actually what happened).  As the day progressed, the pain increased.  A day later, my ankle looks like this:

Red, swollen, itchy, and . . . not as sore as yesterday, but definitely tender.  And a bit cripple.


I called Prince Farming at the office part way through the day yesterday to make sure I didn’t need an amputation or anything.  I could almost hear him laughing at me and I was sure he didn’t understand my pain.  But last night, under the cover of the moon and clouds, that darn rooster mysteriously disappeared.  I asked Prince Farming where he’d been, but he didn’t want to talk about it.  Nor did I.  But my relief is great.  Now guests and family can come and go without my having to chase chickens out of their paths. 


- – - – - – - – -

Several Hours Later – - My ankle is more swollen, and more sore than it was last night this time . . . it’s hot to the touch, but there is currently no streaking (indication of infection).  I walked without much of a limp for most of the day, but by this evening I can’t put any weight on it .  Must be time for bed.  I have a presentation to do tomorrow – hope I can refrain from hobbling.

Japie – the transport


So we know that Japie arrived for the price of a pie.  But WHO do you imagine might be the broker for this donkey deal?  A shy guy?  Or maybe someone who has a questionable background and knows that a face on the internet might alert the appropriate authorities to his where-abouts.  We know that he definitely did NOT want is picture taken.  His motives for avoiding the camera are still under investigation – I’ll keep you posted.   Here’s what we got:


Whatever he’s hiding from, he is obviously kind enough to have found my very cute donkey, accepted a pie in payment, and transported Japie to our farm (I might owe an additional pie for the transport – but don’t tell anyone). 

Blackie was able to coral the donkey before we arrived.  Then he expertly moved the donkey to his horse trailer and off again at our farm.

Here I am trying to get Japie to eat a carrot – but he’s a bit distrustful.  Maybe he learned that habit of distrustfulness from the people he was associated with before moving to Gredemeer.

Donkey Pie


Actually, it’s CREAM CHEESE PIE

This recipe came from a great friend who we originally met in Delaware, and who we visited in Atlanta.  We ate this pie and absolutely LOVED it.  So I’m sharing it with a few of my good friends.  Enjoy.


12-14 graham crackers, crushed

1/2 cup butter, melted

1/3 cup powdered sugar

Combine and press into 9" pie pan


12 oz cream cheese

2 eggs, beaten

3/4 cup sugar

2 tsp vanilla

1/4 cup lemon juice (OR 1/4 cup Kahlua – YUMMMY!!!)

Beat together and pour into crust.  Bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes.  Remove from oven for 5-10 minutes then add:


1 cup sour cream

3 1/2 Tbsp sugar

1 tsp vanilla


Pour topping over pie and bake 10 minutes longer.  Refrigerate 5 hours before serving.  Actually, it’s better on the 2nd or 3rd day (if you can wait that long).

So why is this post titled "Donkey Pie"?  Here’s why.  This pie is good enough to be full payment for the VERY cute donkey


Critters of Gredemeer – continued


Several of you know about my yearning for a donkey.  Prince Farming was not as eager to add another creature, but was willing to acquiesce (look it up) if the price was right.  I’ve been talking to people and spreading word about my need desire for a donkey, and I finally found one.  For the right price.  I’ll share that in another post.

Here’s my new little friend.  His name is "Japie" – named after my grandmother’s donkey.  She used to tell me stories about how she rode to school on a donkey.  The word is pronounced  "Yah-ppy" – where the vowel sound is a little longer than in the word "yuppy".

Isn’t he cute!?  I love his markings. 


He’s exploring his new field – all by himself for the moment.  No cows in that field yet – he owns it for the moment.  But I think he’s lonely.

It’s time to make friends . . . it’s going to take time because no one has really been interacting with him, but I know it will happen.

He’s curious enough.  I just need to remember to bring sweet treats down with me.  I’m loving looking out of my window and seeing Japie.

You can read about more critters of Gredemeer here and here.

Three Signs of a Compromised Fence

You have to be able to read the signs on a farm.  I’m getting better at it, and now I’m going to help you too. 

Cows are herd animals.  They like to hang out together, and it amazes me how they unanimously decide to migrate across the field to eat, or drink, or whatever. 

The first sign of a compromised fence is when you look over to their field and see just a few cows.  SOMEthing is up.


Sign #2 is when you examine the herd more closely and you see this:

Now to regular folks, this would not be an issue.  But I know it’s a sign of a problem because we don’t own a horse.  Nor have we invited one over for a barn party.  The presence  of this horse means that it was able to come over somewhere from next door without too much trouble.

Sign # 3, and fail-proof evidence of a significant problem is when going on a fun ride with my visiting city-slicker friend, we came across this – about a mile away. . .

These cows are in an unfenced field.  They are black.  And they are ours.  So it’s time to gather the neighbors and do a bit of herding.  It’s always most adventurous to herd the cows when it’s almost dark.  It’s inevitable.  When it’s time to herd cows, it’s on it’s way to being night time.

Time to check on the fences.  Again.


Hazards of Farming


Last summer I spent quite a bit of time telling you about the process of doing hay.   For city people, it’s quite an education.  I am still learning – in fact every time I get on the tractor, it’s like learning all over again.  Well, this year I learned something new.  It’s a bit embarrassing, these lessons of mine.  But I feel like you need to know.  I mean, if you ever get thrown onto a farm (willingly or reluctantly) I want you to have the knowledge that I wish I’d have had before this process.  It’s like the parent who wishes their kids would learn from their mistakes and not let their kids learn from personal experience.  It doesn’t always happen that way, but at least I’m doing my part. 

One day I was in a store – can’t remember which store.  I saw this, and thought it was a sort of gag item.  Something that might have been sold around April Fool’s day or maybe Halloween.

Doing research for this post, I happily stumbled across this:

Let me ‘splain.  It’s been hay time again.  And while I’ve helped fairly extensively in past years, there’s always been reprieve.  Prince Farming’s dad and his help have come over, and Prince Farming has done at least one of the processes himself, so my time on the tractor was broken up.  But this time I had to mow, fluff, and rake three huge fields.   Normally I mow with a tractor that has an air-conditioned cab.  But on my way down the hill when I tried to raise the mower arm, there was a hydraulic hose in just a wrong spot, and the hose got pinched and broke, rendering the hydraulic system useless.  With very little time to spare (rain in the forecast), I parked that tractor, and rode over to Prince Farming’s dad’s farm and borrowed their mower, which was already conveniently attached to their tractor.  An open cab with a canopy.  No worries, I can handle an open cab.  Never mind that this tractor has to be started, not with a key, but with a loose wire that you hold to two spots and it kicks on.  That’s another post though.  So I got started mowing, and only an hour later than I’d hoped.  The shade of the canopy was good, but it was still hot.  I was in shorts and flip-flops, and figured I’d probably get a bit of sun, which couldn’t be a bad thing.  First day – all the mowing was done. 

Second day – on to fluffing (or teddering, for those of you who can’t stay on the farm when the word fluffer is used).  This time I could use our own tractor – but not the air-conditioned cab one.  The little cub cadet – also with a canopy – was the vehicle of use (not choice).  I don’t love this process because I can’t see where I’ve been as clearly as when I mow or rake, but it’s a necessary process to help in the drying of the hay.  I got all the fields teddered, and went to bed exahausted.  Spending 6-8 hours on a tractor might sound like a lazy day, but my body was sore and my mind numb.  I woke with a start at 2am.  It was POURING RAIN on my freshly cut and teddered hay.  That means that instead of raking first thing in the morning, I had to go over and fluff all over again.  So there I was – on the open tractor.  Let me paint a little word picture for you.  It’s HOT.  The fields are BUMPY.  On the sides of hills, you can barely keep yourself from sliding off the seat. And you’re SWEATING.  The combination of wet, sweaty shorts, very bumpy, slidey riding . . . well.  Here.  This might give you a better idea.

This is what spending endless days on a tractor leaves you feeling like.  I’m not kidding.  Prince Farming came  home from work when I was just done with the teddering and suggested I take a break.  I was SO relieved.  I really didn’t want him on the tractor much – especially on the bumpiest of fields because he hurt his back a  few weeks ago, and I didn’t want him to aggravate the injury.  His dad came over to help bale.  I’m not sure how the conversation went between them, but Prince Farming made it known that I needed a break from the tractor seat for a while.  He finished raking and his dad did the baling.  And my butt got a break. 

It took a couple of days to feel totally better, but I was able to go back out and load the hay bales onto the trailer and bring them to the barn before too much more time went by.  And I wasn’t on the open tractor for long enough to aggravate my injury.

There.  Consider yourselves educated.  And warned.


I Love Numbers


Those of you who have read my blog for a while or keep up with me on Facebook know that I love numbers.  I take photos of my odometer when I’m on the road and a cool number shows up.  And when I look down and see this:

I get slightly quite very annoyed.  Anyone riding in the car with me wonders if we have a flat tire, or if I forgot my phone or purse at home, or something else worthy of a loud gasp and an emphatic statement.  But I have learned to take it in stride.  I can anticipate the next good number, and often I actually can capture it ON the number, not a mile or two past.  Like this

  People make fun of me, but the more I talk about it, the more I realize that there are other people who appreciate symmetry in numbers.  And really – who wouldn’t!?  It makes perfect sense to me.  In fact, someone recently emailed me this photo.  Notice the odometer reading AND the speedometer reading.  I had to text back and inform this person to be careful of the pictures that get sent.  They might be used in harmful ways if placed in the wrong hands.  But it’s safe with me.  I’m just sharing it with a few personal friends, right!?

Well, today is an amazing day.  My dear friend Louise reminded me of it’s approach, and today it happened.  Check this out.  This morning at 5 minutes and 6 seconds past 4am, the clock and calendar said this:

04:05 06 07/08/09

Now THAT is a beautiful thing.

- – - – - – - – - – - -

UPDATE:  For those of you who don’t read through my comments, Madge pointed out an even COOLER number (can’t believe I didn’t see it coming . . . I must be slipping in my old age). 

12:34:56 7/8/9


Time to Stamp


I’ve been dying to stamp.  A new catalog was unveiled in January, but I didn’t order anything till March, which shows amazing restraint on my part (even if I have to say so myself!).  Most of the stuff I ordered is still in the box, which is absolutely shameful, but it’s the way things generally go when it comes to stamping.  There just is not enough time in a day.  Or should I say . . . I just don’t place stamping near enough to the top of my priority list (I recently did an inservice in which I emphasized how we are not victims of our environments – we have lives full of CHOICES – and we have to take responsibility for our choices and stop casting blame. . . . sigh).

Anyway, as mentioned in an earlier post, our church sends care packages to the kids of our church who are away at school (highschool or college) to let them know we’re thinking about them and care for them.  I invariably stamp cards for these packages (we generally send about 18 packages).  Here is the card I made for the March packages.

I send the card through my printer before I cut and embellish the front.  I generally include a Bible Verse and a message to the kids.  People who don’t donate package "stuff" sometimes donate money to put in the cards.  I think this might be one of the kids’ favorite part of the packages!

I wanted to stamp a memorable card for my daughter’s 13th birthday.  I worked on it some, but didn’t end up giving her any card (I’ll tell you about our celebration in a different post, if I get to it).  But I had fun playing and learning.  One new product that was introduced at SU convention last year was the "Big Shot" which is a sizzix product.  We have a very cool "pop-up" card helper (actually several, but I have only played with one).  It’s a cake die-cut.  Here are my attempts at a card.


When the card closes, the cake collapses, like this . . .


I ran out of time to do another card.  I din’t end up giving her this card because I got annoyed by the fact that the candles didn’t hide (I put 13 candles on the cake).  There are several things I could have done to make this card work, and I haven’t discarded it, I just haven’t gotten to it yet.  Here is what happened:

(this is the view from the back)


We did other birthday stamping, but I forgot to take pictures.  The girls (my daughter and her friend) made "name frames" where they stamped and embellished their names to put in a frame.  I’ll have to find an example to show.  They had lots of fun and they did a great job!

Another new product we got that I LOVE is a cuttle-bug-like folder that matches one of my favorite stamp sets.  I gave the card to a friend without taking a photo of it – but I’ll be making more because they are SIMPLE and quick – which is the best kind of stamping!  I love that I have the opportunity to create as an outlet.  I will make more time in my weeks for stamping – it helps me maintain balance and is an opportunity to share too.


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