Saturday, February 28, 2009

Saturday (da da) on The Farm (da da)

This is not a good farm report. On the one hand, we found a decent stock trailer for a decent price. We're happy. We also talked with our dairy farmer, who also raises Herefords. He offered us a bred Hereford cow, due to calf this spring, for a decent price. We're considering it. If we don't keep her, we can ship her, and still have a beef calf. Or we can keep her, breed her back, and have two calves next year, with more to come. We're thinking about it.

On the other hand, I went insane. I bought myself a horse. She's old and rusty, just like me. What was I thinking?

And the good news is I was able to park the trailer exactly where I wanted it, in very little time. The bad news is I bent up the back of the truck to do it. I'm dangerous.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Is There a Doctor in the House?

No, not for a human. For a plant!



Now, obviously, this Christmas cactus is healthy enough to bloom. But it looks awful. It's leaves are crinkled and oddly colored. They're purple, not green, like they used to be! Can anyone tell me what I might do to bring it back to a more healthy appearance? I will say that there is moss on the soil, and I plan to repot when it stops blooming. Maybe it's too wet? I water once a week or so, if the soil feels dry about a knuckle's depth below the surface. I keep it under a grow light, in a cool room, until it starts blooming. Then I bring it into the living room so we can enjoy it!

If anyone can help, I'd appreciate it!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

You've Read The Article, Now See The Pictures.

We woke him up early, "Early" meaning "before noon." His girlfriend, Keri, helped, and he looked a little like this when he saw her.



Yeah, he was dazed. He looked a little dazed later, when he met up with the Warrior Watch Riders and our local emergency services guys.



They let him ride in the fire engine. I wonder if he mentioned the fireman border in his bedroom when he was 3? I know he got to push the siren.



Local businesses and the American Legion were out on the streets. This is a shot in front of the beauty and barber shops; the one waving is responsible for my own lovely coiffure!



He got to speak. He didn't say much, maybe 10 words. He isn't a big talker when he's not on the spot. (The Marine had heard about this, and just showed up. His name is Owen, and he was in Scouts with Matthew and Ethan. Ethan remembered him as "one of the Scouts who had too much sugar at Scout camp one day.")



A song was sung.

video

Finally, he got to meet the school kids



and relax. Relaxing was a good thing. (He's the one in the back, in the beret, looking at the pretty girl. That would be Keri.)



As a mom, I wondered if he would enjoy it. He's definitely not an extrovert! But he did. Then I wondered if it was too public; not all soldiers are welcomed home in this way. It usually only happens when the family informs the various groups that participate. But last night, at Ash Wednesday service, I ran into one of the schoolkids. Hunter told me, "It was awesome! Terrific!" He had that, "I've seen a hero!" shine in his eyes. I guess it doesn't matter if we think it might be too public. Kids need heroes, and if it means going to a little trouble to let them shake the hand of one, well, then, bring on the trouble!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Been Busy

Mathew came home Saturday night. We--meaning our town--had been planning a welcome home parade for him. Our associate pastor, an Army Reserve chaplain, was involved, so our church bulletin included a half-page description of what we'd planned, how to become involved, and, most especially, the information that this was to be a surprise. So I had to tell him to sleep in and not come to church Sunday...He should have known, just by that, that something was up.

We flew his girlfriend, Keri, in from California for this event. She came in Monday night, about 10 minutes after Matthew came in from being with friends. Because he was downstairs on the computer, we were able to get her into the house and hidden before he knew. When he called her to say goodnight, thinking she was in CA, he asked, "Why are you mumbling?" She answered, "I'm really tired. I'm gonna go to sleep." She was mumbling because she was in the bedroom directly upstairs from him, and she was worried he would hear her. He didn't hear her until we woke him up the next morning, saying, "Matthew, there's someone here to see you. Get up!"

I had him drive to the starting point of the parade. He thought we were going out for lunch, then to our church's school, where he would talk to the second graders about Iraq. I asked him to "Pull in at the vet's for a minute." Not until he was driving through a gauntlet of Warrior Watch and fire and rescue vehicles did he say, "What is all this? Oh!!!"

We marched through the streets of Marengo, horns honking and flags flying. We headed over to the school, where the kids saluted him, cheered and sang "God Bless America." It was a great time, and I took tons of pictures.

But my camera got misplaced yesterday. I am so aggravated! I know it's in the house, but I can't share pictures with you yet. But I can send you to this link to our local paper. Enjoy!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Pro Life Corner

"I firmly believe that in every situation, no matter how difficult, God extends grace greater than the hardship, and strength and peace of mind that can lead us to a place higher than where we were before."

Andy Griffith

PS March 31 is Red Envelope Day. Please visit this site to learn about sending a red envelope to the White House. Each envelope will represent a child whose life was taken by abortion.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Soldier Boy On The Move

Matthew is making his first trip home since he returned to the US in January. We expected him Monday afternoon, but he called today to say that he'd be home tonight about 9pm. Changes a few things, but we are really glad to be watching for him. Although, with the snow, he may be regretting coming home early!

Saturday Farm Report

We got more snow. Guess how much.



That 2x4 deck railing is my fancy-schmancy snow gauge. I'm thinking 3-4". We were warned that we'd get 4-8", but never fear. It's still falling.

We've done some aerobics. Shoveling is good aerobic exercise.



We like snow. Some of us like it so much that we bring it inside with us.




But that's what farm wives are for, I guess. Finding (and holding) tape measures, running to Menard's and washing floors.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Too, Too Cute

Today was the day when the Homeschool Moms meet at my house and eat chocolate. We're supposed to study geography, then eat chocolate, but, this being flu season, we were down a few kids. So we just ate chocolate.

This absolutely adorable little face was at my table.



Don't you love those bunny ears? How 'bout the rest of the shirt?

Too, too cute!

Four Socks, Goat and Selena

Four Socks, you may remember, is a tabby kitten we rescued from the side of the road. He's approaching 6 months now, and has spent an idyllic life in the barn this winter; locked in at night to protect him from the cold and coyotes, and, often, spending days curled up with Mary while (and when) she studies.

Goat is a rooster. He was chased from the coop by his older, tougher brother, and found refuge in the barn with Four Socks and Selena. Selena is our oldest mama goat, who has a permanent injury in her front leg. This fall she was alarmingly thin, so we brought her in for the winter. She spent her winter curled up in a warm stall with a heat lamp. Sometimes, pretty often, really, Four Socks and Goat would join her. It was quite the picture, but, sadly, I didn't take a picture of it!

Goat is not fed. Well, we don't actually truck chicken feed over to him. He's been snitching grain from Selena and munching on hay. He's really a good-looking rooster, so the diet seems to agree with him.

He has also developed a taste for kitten food. Take a look at this.



I came around the corner of the barn yesterday to find Four Socks and Goat eating together. I've seen them eat separately, and I know Goat was getting quite a bit of the kitten food, but I hadn't seen them dining together yet. It was quite the sight. By the time I fetched my camera, Four Socks wasn't liking it. If you can imagine it, take this same picture and put that little right front paw over onto Goat's chest. That's what I saw the second time I came into the barn; Four Socks eating, and holding Goat back with a paw.

Shortly after this picture, Four Socks was done and took off to play. Goat resumed his kitten-food-munching. I suppose we should get him a dish of chicken chow.

But his older, tougher brother is going into the soup pot soon; we don't keep nasty roosters. Goat will have a pen full of ladies to take care of.

And I wonder if his odd diet will produce any odd offspring....

Thursday, February 19, 2009

What A Difference A Day Makes!

We got snow last night.



Say what you like about snow, it does cover a lot of of sins...



and makes things look very pretty.


Wednesday, February 18, 2009

You asked for pictures of our farm. You can't HANDLE the pictures!

It's February. February in the Midwest in anyone's yard is not pretty. February in a yard that was not maintained well in the previous fall is exceptionally dismal. February on a farm that was not maintained well in the previous fall is...well, look. We'll take a walk. In front of the deck we see;



That didn't get cleaned last fall. Sad, sad, sad. This next picture is what happens when a certain someone drives under the power lines, ripping them out. He fixes it, yes, so there is power to the barn. But the ladder...is that really where it belongs?



These




leaves don't belong there. They should have been burned in the fall. (Don't hate me for burning leaves. If you had as many as I do, you'd burn, too! And, yes, I do compost them, too!) I raked and burned many of the leaves...but didn't get to these. So sue me.

Oh. Look in front of the barn. Oh. Oh. Oh.



The burn pile. That's easy. A little napalm and we're good.



(You think I'm kidding. My boys make a mean
batcha napalm.)

Let's head up the hill. Hmm...some holes need filling.



I want to turn this into a Three Sisters garden. Yeah.



Remember when we cleared the treeline? I tried to link to that post, but I can't find it. One of these days I'll be a real blogger and categorize my posts. Yeah. This tree fell over the very week after.



These apples shoulda been picked up about the time I missed those last leaves.




This will be our vegetable garden. As God is my witness...no, we won't go there again.




The pond. That'll be John's job this summer.




He has to do something. With all my minions, I mean, sons gone to the Army, and John working harder than ever before, Mary and I are coming to the realization that its. All. Up. To. Us.

My back hurts just thinking about it.

This ends our pleasant tour. I'm tempted to ask if anyone has any teen-aged sons they'd like to lend out for the summer. Room and board, all the fresh eggs you can carry home. But I have this teen-aged daughter. That might be asking for more trouble than I even want to think about!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Don't Call Me Today

I am so daggone grumpy.

I have been fighting with our checkbook since before Christmas, and finally thought we were on speaking terms. Apparently, not. I have made some bone-headed mistake somewhere, and am going to be paying for it, literally and figuratively. I can't even find the blankety-blank mistake so I can avoid doing it again! I just know it's not going to be pretty, or cheap!

Monday, February 16, 2009

Happy Birthday, Mary!

Mary turned 14 this weekend, a fact her father and brothers are questioning. Yes, she can be that old!

She had some friends over, and there were presents. One was wrapped in a two-layer plasticized paper. When they separated it into its layers, the girls noticed (and oohed and ahhed over) that the top layer was translucent. John pointed out that, "It's like when they were 2, and played with the box the gift came in! Now it's the pretty paper!"

They were not amused.

In general, they had a good time. And she's 14. Which makes me...oh, never you mind!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Pro Life Corner

It should be the highest ambition of every American to extend his views beyond himself, and to bear in mind that his conduct will not only affect himself, his country, and his immediate posterity, but that its influence may be co-extensive with the world, and stamp political happiness or misery on ages yet unborn

George Washington

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Valentine's Day on the Farm

Valentine's Day on the farm is pretty much like any other day, except we're all nicer to each other.

Seriously, we got some snow last night. Maybe 2", but it's making for a pretty morning. John is unloading chicken feed; 1,000 pounds, which is a small amount for most farms, but we need to work on storage this summer. We've been increasing our animals bit by bit each year, and it's finally catching up.

So I've been setting aside little bits of time to work on plans for the upcoming seasons, and, sadly, it's pretty daunting. With no young men left here after March, and John working around the clock to make the Boeing 787 a safer aircraft, it looks like the farm work will fall to Mary and me this year. It reminds me of Gone With the Wind, which Mary and I watched this week. She was less than impressed. She called it "emo." Watch this scene, and you'll agree. I watch it and think of her reaction as she looked at all that work, waiting to be done on Tara...

Friday, February 13, 2009

Here ya go, Jenny

Elephant's Child asked about folding a t-shirt in the military, rolled manner. You asked for it, you got it...

video

Happy Birthday, Mr. Lincoln!

Yesterday was the 200th anniversary of the birth of Abraham Lincoln. (Some of my readers say, "The birth of That Man." I understand.) In Illinois, that's a state holiday. In our county, approximately 20,000 people stopped what they were doing at 1:30pm to read the following words;

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate -- we can not consecrate -- we can not hallow -- this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us -- that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion -- that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain -- that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom -- and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.


It was moving, regardless of your opinion of the writer, or which side of The Cause you would support. We also sang The Battle Hymn of the Republic which was not Lincoln's favorite song. That, some of you would be interested to know, was Dixie.

Something else I learned was that, although he prayed constantly, Lincoln was never baptized. In fact, he was shot on Good Friday and died the next day. Sadly, his baptism was scheduled for that very Easter Sunday. He never got to have that joy and reassurance.

We took Seanster and Justice to this event. Mary sat and listened quietly, as did Sean. Actually, I think he slept through some of it. But Justice...We had read a story about Lincoln to the boys before we left, and explained that a reenactor would be speaking, pretending to be the President. Every 5 minutes or so during the presentation, Justice, who was on my lap, would turn and say, "Is this really 'Abaham' Lincoln? "No, sweetie," I'd say. "He's just pretending. Remember, Mr. Lincoln is dead." "OK." Five minutes later...same question.

And, at the end, he had to have his picture taken with that famous Illinoisan (via Kentucky and Indiana, of course!)



He also spent a great portion of the time writing Abraham Lincoln's name on the program. I wish I had taken a picture of that, before he took it home! It wasn't bad for a 4 year-old.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

A Startling Discovery

It's been coming for years. And maybe I already knew, but I was living in denial. But I have realized something.

Mary does not like to read. It's not that she can't read. It's just not--dare I say it?--fun for her to read.

I would expect this from the boys. Boys are all about dirt and noise and action. But my guys were always readers. They taught themselves, it seemed. Yeah, I read to them constantly. But each of them, sometime before the end of kindergarten (for Jay it was before kindergarten,) came to me and said, "Mommy! Look! These words! I can read them!" And they did. We even had a deal as they progressed through school and Grandma bought them a Nintendo. "You can play it," I would say, "after your schoolwork is done and you've been outside for an hour." (I called it a deal; it was more of a rule, but it made me feel better enforcing it if I thought they had some input, I guess.) More often then not, I would find them outside, sure, but they would be reading, or sitting together, talking about something they'd read or some plan they were hatching. Not the physical activity I meant when I said, "Be outside."

Mary, on the other hand, was always physical. There are times, still, when she'll say, "I just have to go outside," and she'll be gone an hour or more. She rides her bike, or tramps through the fields, or plays with the critters. When she was younger, she'd be out there for hours. Now it's a little shorter, but it still happens. When she was in first grade and capable, but still not reading, she told me, "If I read, Mom, you'll never read to me again." I thought she wanted the cuddling, but I'm beginning to see that she just didn't want to do that kind of physical labor.

Where's the little girl who was going to like "Anne of Green Gables?" We were going to share Rosemary Sutcliff books together; she says, "It's OK, Mom, but, really, kinda boring." Historical fiction? Boring? I could do a Bronte swoon right now. This week we're watching Gone With The Wind, kind of a Civil War movie. It is not enticing her to read the book. Scarlett, in her words, is "emo," which is not a complimentary term for Mary.

And how are we going to do high school without Tolkein? Beowulf? Shakespeare, for goodness sakes? She will read C. S. Lewis, so there may be hope yet. She does like the Eragon series, and Harry Potter finally got her reading in about 5th grade. But I am afraid I may have to resort to...gasp...video learning.

Say it isn't so.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Endless, Endless

Remember my utility room? Remember how clean and sparkly it was?




Oh, how the mighty have fallen.




It seems like we clean and clean, and then discover more stuff. We have to put it somewhere, right? And there's that lovely, clean space. It'll just be for a day or so.

Yeah, right.

I'll stop lying to myself. I'll stop cleaning. If you don't hear from me for two or three days in a row, send the Mounties. With a backhoe!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Indian Spring

Indian Summer is that time in the fall, after frost, when we get a few days, or even a week, of warm weather. We're experiencing that right now, but, since it's winter, I'm calling it Indian Spring. You can call it whatever you'd like; it doesn't matter, because it looks like we'll be below freezing again by the weekend.

The warm makes for a nice break. I loved going out to chores this morning in just a sweatshirt. On the other hand, I came in all wet and splattered. The mud is horrendous, and, out there, it's not all mud, if you can grasp that thought. So my clothes were a disaster, and were changed quickly.

I need to get outside with the camera. Jr. is growing up nicely, as is Four Socks, our "little" kitten. He's not so little anymore!

Just have to say something, too, about one of the bravest men I know. Bill Morrissey, our vet, not only ventures to our silly place, but also handles our animals. Yesterday he had to take some blood from April, who may be going to a new home soon. He said, "Kick me and die," and then stuck a needle into the underside of her tail. Not. In. My. Lifetime. She stood for it, very nicely, and didn't even get a treat for her troubles.

Such is life during Indian Spring on our farm. Hope your day goes well!

Monday, February 9, 2009

I Love To Tell The Story

Yesterday in church we sang this hymn.



I love it, I always have. We used slightly different lyrics, which made it even more special. Wish I could share them, but I don't have them!

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Pro Life Corner

"Those of you who feel no responsibility in the cultural area...What if it were 1943 and you were in Nazi Germany and you knew what Hitler was doing to the Jews...Would you say, "We're not political and that's somebody else's problem?...I thank God Dietrich Bonhoeffer did not give that answer, and he was arrested by the Nazis and hanged in 1945, naked and alone, because he said, "'That is not right.'" Dr James Dobson, addressing the National Religious Broadcasters.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

The View of Sue

I promised.

There we sat, under Sue's...self.



We sat there, John and I, enjoying our coffee, until the girls showed up. They said, "Um, the rest of us are in the back. It's quieter and nicer." So we moved.



It was. Quieter and nicer. And no dinosaur behinds.

I found a lovely exhibit today. The Field always had a great exhibit on Indians, or, Native Americans, if you are more politically correct than I. Although, technically, I am a Native American. Anyway, it's called The Ancient Americas, and it's beautifully arranged and very well done. We didn't have scads of time, but we know where we'll go next time.

And then it was time to go home to chili and bread. Bye, Field. See you next time!

Saturday Report

Today the farm is warm, if windy. We'll lose some snow today.

We are leaving the farm today. Cousins are here from Iowa, and we're heading to the Field Museum to learn about the Aztecs. And maybe have coffee. It's a part of the whole experience; see the Museum, and, about 3, the adults sit down for a cuppa while the kids see one last exhibit. Sadly, the Corner Bakery is situated right under Sue's...posterior. It's a lovely location. Pictures Monday; betcha can't wait!

Friday, February 6, 2009

Grande Half-caff Whole Milk Latte

That's my usual drink, when the scale is good to me. No sugar, just espresso and warm milk. My inner child and my outer adult are both happy at the same time.

This morning, I was cozy and warm, under our down alternative comforter (makes life easier for asthma sufferers, doncha know.) I made a deal with God. I said, "Will you please wake me at 7:30?" He does that sometimes; I'll pray, and He wakes me up. This time I finished with, "Yeah, I know, get your own self up. You're a big girl now."

Henry barked. And growled. Leah, who is visiting for the night, barked. Since they are both on Mary's bed this morning, this was followed by Mary barking. She and I both told them to be quiet.

I heard an odd noise. It sounded like a wheelbarrow being pushed through the snow in the backyard. "Who the heck is in my yard, and what are they doing?" I thought, as I carefully peeked through the blinds. April lifted her head and looked in my window.

There is no caffeinated beverage, no energy drink, that can get you out of bed as fast as the thought, "The cows are in the yard." I was in the hallway before I had time to think, "What, if anything, do I have on this morning?"

That might be too much information. Sorry.

Ethan and John were dressed in a flash. I, thankfully, already was. We headed out to herd them in.

Cows are so silly. One little flake of hay waved through the air, one call of, "Bess! April!" and they were trotting back into the pasture. I guess we should be glad there are 4" of snow on the ground, and no grass visible. This adventure might have ended differently.




God's in His Heaven, not playing alarm clock, the cows are in their pasture, and all's right with the world. All before 7:30; which is when I asked Him to wake me up in the first place! He has such a sense of humor.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Laughing At Myself

This past weekend I spent some time with some other Lutheran homeschoolers in that great home of Lutheranism, Fort Wayne (known to some as, simply, The Fort.) As part of the natural course of things at such periodic gatherings, wine is consumed (and, sometimes, chocolate martinis, but that is a story for another time.) Round Unvarnish'd Tale was kind enough [ :P ] to post some pictures of me and a couple other ladies in a not-so-flattering attempt to open one of those wine bottles... Enjoy!

We Gotta Get It Open!

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Schooling Outside of the Home

Things are coming back together. The house is a bit chaotic, but we're moving Ethan back in. Tomorrow we go to see my mom, who had a knee replaced today.

Mary has been readjusting to a mom/teacher who has decided to teach again. Yesterday she managed a little math, some PE and some homework for Pastor Borhart, who will help confirm her in May. PE? Well, part of it was WiiFit, I will admit. But part of it was helping Selena, who has been taking it easier this winter, to get back some condition. Selena was so skeletal after weaned her kids last fall that we didn't breed her back. As she continued to degrade in condition, despite good food and partial confinement, we finally confined her totally to a stall in our barn. She even got a heat lamp so she wouldn't burn calories trying to keep warm.




I suppose we shouldn't be going to these extremes to help a goat, but she's a pretty nice one who has been good for Mary.

Ethan and the Seanster did a little outdoor time of their own. Ethan is teaching Sean survival skills, to be used in the event of zombie attack. I kid you not.



There they go, up the hill, to learn to shoot.

I didn't think guns worked against real zombies. Maybe that's why they took the airsoft guns.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Stale

I had a great weekend. I went away with some friends, to see another friend, and met a whole host of new friends! It was a lovely time, and I feel refreshed.

Refreshed enough to realize that I am getting stale. Stale, stale, stale. It may be because we are on day 43 of winter. That's almost halfway through, but we still have halfway to go. It may be because we are on day 67 or so since Grandma passed away, and I am finally realizing that that really has slowed me down. While I am happy for her, and understand the whole process, I really have been running on half-energy for about two months, wind out of my sails, etc.

So I will make an effort over the next month or so to pull myself up and re-engage. Some work is already being done here to return to some semblance of routine, although we're re-integrating Ethan, whose military academy was shut down, meaning he has had to move home. He'll be here until mid-March, when he heads to Basic training. We've started working on a realistic schooling schedule, figuring in barn chores, teenaged hormones and sleeping patterns, college schedules and naptimes for the teacher. This will get us on the road to freshness...if all goes well, although we know how the plumbing's been lately!

But, see how badly I need some re-energizing? My usually optimistic outlook is fading. So help me out here. Suggest a few topics for me to write about. (But not about not ending sentences with prepositions!) (Did you ever notice that you can't even direct someone not to do that without doing that?) Stretch my brain so I have to look at something different. Please, dear stalkers, be my muses, and help me get my groove back. K?