Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Hunting and Gathering

Today is that magical day; payday! We get two of those a month, and that means Hunting and Gathering Day.

Our ancestors were hunter-gatherers. They went out into the woods and fields, hunting meat and gathering other foods as they found them. I have the blessings of having had someone already do that for me, and my hunting-gathering is confined to places like Joseph's, Woodman's and WalMart (I know, I shouldn't. But I can't pay more than that for paper products!!.) So off I will go today, spending frivolously on food and drink the money my husband works hard to provide. Then comes the unloading...And the packing away...And the cuppa afterward...

I really don't mind Hunting and Gathering Days. They can be better than Laundry Days, doncha think?

Monday, August 30, 2010

Monday, Monday

Monday is one of those days when the housework gets done. The other is Thursday. Yes, I am one of those old-fashioned people that believes in housework. I don't farm it out to paid help; I do enlist the other people who live here.

Mondays, the stalls get raked out. Mondays, the beds get stripped. Yes, we wash sheets weekly, odd as that is to many. I remember my mom doing it, and I love the feeling of those clean sheets. So it's worth the work to me. Mondays, the floors get vacuumed, even though we have hard floors everywhere and no carpeting. Mondays, the frig gets cleaned out, and all the stuff that might turn green soon finds a new home in the trash. Other leftovers get slotted in for meals during the week. Oh, yeah, I make up a menu for the week. Sometimes it's just in my head, but, with Matthew and Keri here, we've been writing it out as much as possible. Mondays, the laundry gets started. Laundry for a family of 6 adults takes 2 full days to finish, but we get it done. Mondays, the bathrooms get cleaned, the trash goes out, the cat boxes get scooped, the garden shed gets swept...It's a lot of work, but it feels so good at the end of the day, to have it all done.

At least until Thursday, when it starts all over again!!

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Saturday Farm Report

Last night we got The Call. "I left a rack of hay on the hill for you. I need the rack back by 10:30 tomorrow morning."

That's how it works. The man who cuts the hay on the field behind our house regularly leaves us a rack full of hay when he bales. We unload it and give him his rack back...with a check for the hay. We usually have more time, though, to empty the rack.

This morning we were up at 6am, out at 7, to unload hay. I wish I had $1 for every time I though, "I wish I knew where my camera was." It's gone AWOL again. I had so many neat shots to capture for you. Mary flinging bales off the rack, the morning sun making her a silhouette. John moving hay from the hand truck to the hay tent, little beads of sweat growing on his Army Dad t-shirt. There was even a neat, artsy-fartsy one with soft strands of green grass hay filling the viewfinder, with a small, dried Queen Anne's Lace in the right lower quadrant. Can't you just see it?

About 10, with 120 bales in the tent and another 30-40 still sitting on the driveway, I had to head to work. I came home with fried chicken, beans and watermelon. Keri had made an apple pie. Jay and Kris brought the younglings. It was a nice evening.

Now I'll sit back and relax in front of a movie. Maybe this one.

Friday, August 27, 2010

My Bleeding Heart

No, this is not another garden essay, although I do have to do something about the bleeding heart. They're getting old...

But this is another matter. Tonight I am worrying about a 7 year-old boy named Joey.

Joey and His Friend came into the store today. I checked their groceries through, and His Friend, a 40-ish man who seemed to have lived a hard life, did not have enough money to pay. He was about $3 short. He said, "If it's OK, I'll just run get more money." I said it would be OK, and off he went, leaving Joey with the groceries.

Now, most people would have meant they were going out to the car, and that is what I assumed. But, no, this Friend left Joey at the store while he drove home for money. I didn't know this. Neither did the lady behind them in line. We waited, me cooing over her toddler boy, she asking about some specials...and Joey anxiously looking out the door. I noticed that he ran to the door about three times, then out the door. When he came in, said, "I can't find him," and began crying, I went to the parking lot with him. That's when we realized he had left.

Joey didn't know His Friend's phone number, nor where he lived (except that it was in the town where the store is, and that Joey actually lived in another town, just over the Illinois-Wisconsin border.) He did tell me his mother's name, stepfather's name, and where he lived...but he didn't know any phone numbers, or the street address.

My manager was no help, telling me that she had customers to help and couldn't help me with the increasingly frantic little boy. Checking through the nice lady with the toddler, I headed to the office to try and call mom. Surely she'd care that this friend had left her son in a grocery store? But, although we searched several phone books and tried to reach directory assistance, we never found a working number.

His Friend, whose name I still do not know, returned. It had been about 20 minutes. He claimed it was "only 5." He told Joey, "I would never leave my food, Bud, and I would never leave you." We looked like a bunch of fussy hens to him, I suppose, and they left. It was the hardest thing I could do, to let him go off with that man, but I had no one to back me up. The kid came in with him, so the kid had to leave with him.

About 20 minutes later, the police showed up. Someone--most likely Toddler Lady, we decided--had called. Finally someone at the store decided to step up for the boy; my manger (remember the one who had customers?) told the officer that "That man was intoxicated." About the only positive thing I could say about the guy was he probably was not. The officer thanked us for caring, and left.

I wonder if I'll sleep tonight?

If you have young children, (remember, Joey is 7) please teach them the basics. Kids as young as 4 can memorize their names, addresses and phone numbers. If nothing else, write it on the inside of a piece of clothing.

And for the sake of all you consider holy, keep kids under 10 with you. They're too young to go off with Your Friends, unless they know those things. Bad Things can happen, even to your kid.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Lessons Learned

Some friends just stopped by, and dropped off their dog. They'll be doing college visiting this weekend, and needed a dogsitter. So Shiloh is at doggy camp for a couple of days.

While they were here, they asked for a tour of the garden. Hahahaha! You mean the garden that has become a weed field? Remember how I started this spring? Well, it's not that tidy anymore. As summer begins it's third and final month, things are pretty messy out there. And I am beginning to tally up lessons learned this summer.

Firstly, don't bite off more than you can chew. Our garden started at roughly 40'x60'. When I decided to convert to raised beds, I should have tallied to cost in cedar before I committed my brain to it. It's been easy enough to just say, "Hey, the money's not there for all of the beds. We'll make do this year, and finish up next." But my perfectionistic little brain looks out there and says, "Major fail." It's not, and I really do know it, but I have to keep reminding myself.

Secondly, plant things you know you're going to eat and enjoy. While we like zucchini bread, and zucchini boats, we get tired of them quickly. Why plant three plants? I won't do that next year. One will be enough. Potatoes. We'll need more of those. Tomatoes. More Romas, because I like to can sauce, but fewer slicing tomatoes, because they mostly took up space that Romas could have used. Grape tomatoes will always be there, though!

Weed. Weed religiously. Weed when it's cool, in May and June, when it's too pretty to do work. Because in July and August, when it's too blazing hot to do work, those little weeds you neglected in May and June will be as high as your eye. And you won't like it.

Plant in compost. We have grape tomatoes the size of some Romas you'll see in stores, which are half the size of our Romas. And the flavor....Yes, poop smells badly. But it imparts lovely flavors...Oh, get over it!

I hate picking beans. I hate it. The mosquitoes live under the leaves and leap out to feast when you reach under to pick. I love eating beans. I'll have to find a way to reconcile the two.

That's the beginning of my list of Garden Lessons Learned This Year. I'll have more, I'm sure, before First Frost. But that's six weeks away now. I'd better go see what I can get in the ground before then!!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Gold Star Mother

I found this clipping on my mom's dresser the other day. We were cleaning out clothes, jewelry and other items that she had collected through the years. I remember seeing this when I was a young mom, maybe 24-25 years old. I sobbed like a baby, thinking, "I hope that won't be my son." I had only one at that time, and would have gone bonkers if someone had told me, as I read this poem, that someday I'd have three, all serving in the military.

It's a little smarmy and silly, but it's all true.

She gave him birth and watched him grow
And dressed him up from toe to toe.
She taught him how to smile and walk,
To eat and drink and how to talk.
She made his lunch for school each day,
And she taught him how to work and play.
She urged him on and helped him choose,
And nursed each cut and bump and bruise.
She guided him from wrong to right,
And she told him how and when to fight.
But most of all, right from the start,
She gave her boy her loving heart.
While he, in turn, was more than glad
To give up all he ever had,
That you and I and other sons
Might never meet the blazing guns.
So let us pay our deep respect,
And solemnly let us reflect
Upon the grave she gave that we
Might carry on to victory.

She told me once that the clipping had come from her mother, who thought it was moving and shared it with her. There is no author cited, so I can't give credit! Thank you, unknown person!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Back in the saddle, yet again!

Yeah, I took an unannounced blogging break. It just seems like there's one thing, then another, then five more. But I will try to be back for good this time.

Celebrated an anniversary this weekend. 29 years. I remember when only old people were married that long. Go figure.

Canned peaches last week. I think I'll freeze them next year. They always float in the jar, leaving me with half jars of peaches for all my work. Frustrating.

I spent yesterday helping my sisters clean out Mom's dresser. I found a poem I had been looking for for a LOOONG time. I will share it here tomorrow. It's titled Gold Star Mother. Bring Kleenex.

Today is planting in the garden, going through old, old, pictures, (some are pre-1920) and heading to work. But I've had some coffee and it's a gorgeous day. If I could sing in public, I'd be singing this today.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Saturday Farm Report

Back home again, after 3 days in a foreign land. Indiana, that is.

We came home to RAIN. It started out as simple rainstorm, and became a torrential downpour by the time we got to the house. Since we had planned a campout with our family for the weekend, we were plenty disappointed. We weren't going anywhere, just camping out on the farm, but it is still a disappointment. We still managed to grill some brats and have a nice family evening with all the grandchildren, children and an aunt and uncle thrown in for more noise. We may try it again tonight, although NOAA is still mentioning rain. We'll camp inside tonight, if it happens.

There are beaucoup tomatoes in the garden. I need to hit the WalMarts for some household products, and Woodmans on Monday for groceries. I also want to find some peaches and get them canned. The tomatoes and peaches will make for a hot, steamy canning adventure, but I'll be glad of it in the winter months. And that's what central air is for, right?

A jar of pickles hit the ground last night, courtesy of a helpful grandchild. He was trying to load pop into the frig so it would be cold, and out fell a half gallon jar of that cucumber salad I mentioned a while back. Never fear! There are also plenty of cukes in that garden, so we'll make more. It helps to have Keri here; she jumps in and cooks, slices, and even cleans at the drop of a mention.

So, there's my day. Feed critters, hit the farmers' market, WalMart and a local orchard. Come home, can peaches. Harvest tomatoes. Can those, maybe tomorrow, if I run out of steam (Bwahahahaha!) Grandchildren coming for supper and possibly a sleepover. A normal Saturday, here on the Farm!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

On The Road Again

We've left the farm for parts south. Sometime last fall, I decided that we would take this week off, and head out for camping. Well, pardon me for assuming the weather would cooperate. Our intended destination to the north is expecting thunderstorms all this week, so we headed south, to Bloomington, IN, where John's parents live. We're being pampered by Grandma and Grandpa for a couple of days, and forgot our cameras, so we can't even document what we're doing. I guess I'll plan to not blog, so there ya go. Try to continue your life without me. C'mon, you can do it. Yes, you CAN!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Pachelbel? Or Paganini?

Yes, I do know which.

We are not big on Praise and Worship services, and our congregation was having one this morning. We also had a friend riding at the Fair, so, between the two, we had a Perfect Storm that, yes, tempted us away from worship to the Fairgrounds instead.

I headed home when the rain started (another storm, a not-so-perfect one, this time) and was reading some e-mail. This song was played at our wedding, 29 years ago on the 22nd of this month. I saw this version this morning, thanks to a friend from Iowa, and had to share. My favorite part, if you'd like to know, comes at about the 4 minute mark.

I will apologize in advance, as some of what Ethan calls The Dark Language Which Must Not Be Spoken Here is used in the introduction. But it's a fun video, anyway! Enjoy!

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Saturday Farm Report

Much, much news, here at the Farm.

Firstly, if you take a look at my Profile, you will see a slight change. Matthew has left the Army, and is driving home to Illinois today. Last we heard, about an hour ago, he had gotten himself into Missouri. We expect him home sometime tomorrow morning. Keri, who has been here for about a month, is thrilled to have him getting closer! He's not leaving military service, however. He's joined the Illinois National Guard, and will be reporting there in about a month.

Yesterday was our 4H Fair. Mary showed her horse, Wakiya, and her friend, Lindsay, showed my horse, Hope. Several ribbons were earned, some fun was had, and we have many stories to tell. We came home exhausted and overwhelmed, but it was a good experience overall. I'll be sharing some of it over the next few days.

Thursday, August 5, 2010


Wisdom comes in many forms, and comes to us through many avenues. This morning, while checking my usual webpages, I checked out the latest cartoon at DBS. Well, he's also got a Facebook page, where, this morning, his wife was asking,"We all like a good motto, right? Do you have a personal motto?" Some of the wisest words I ever read are in those mottoes that were posted. Most, I am guessing, were posted by active or former members of the US military. We hope those guys and girls are using their noggins out there.

The greatest risk is not taking one.

The worst thing you can do is fail miserably and become the laughingstock of the entire free world.

If we're facing in the right direction, all we have to do is keep walking.

If you fall down 10 times, stand up 11.

It is better to beg forgiveness than to ask permission. (My personal permutation of this is It saves more time to beg forgiveness than to ask permission.)

If the enemy is in range, then so are you! (Of course, many of these have military significance. But I can also see civilian applications in them, even this one!)

When in doubt, get a bigger hammer.

Pain is good. It means you're still alive.

Smart people know the answers. Geniuses know where to find them.

When going through Hell, DON'T STOP, keep going.

If you can't duck it, well, you're supposed to do something to it that rhymes with duck. You can figure it out.

Illegitimus non carborundum. (Modern street Latin for don't let the...bad guys...make it hard for you. People in the military often use colorful metaphors. We call it Military Mouth at our house.)

Love many, trust few, and ALWAYS cut the cards.

Never try to teach a pig to sing. It wastes your time and annoys the pig.

A cadet will not lie, cheat, steal or tolerate those who do. (Someone was thinking seriously.)

Deeds, not words.

If Engineers were supposed to be sociable, the Army wouldn't have given us concertina wire.

I set out to save the world, but I saw something shiny. (That one's for Mary.)

Trust, but verify. (One of my favorites; I've used it since I was pretty young.)

Does it affect the fate of the free world? (When my kids would argue or bicker over some petty thing, I would ask them something like this.)

Find anything in there you'd like to make your own? Have one to add? I'd love to see them! Use the Comments page.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

I've Heard Enough

I've heard enough about President Obama's birth certificate. It seems there are some who can't let this drop. Here's my take on it. I'll pretend you care.

His citizenship is cloudy. He should clear it up. He won't. We have two choices.

Obsess about it and divide those whose principles, united, could effect some real change, as soon as this fall.

Let it go and get on with the work of restoring what has been degraded in the past two years.

Seems simple to me. I'm letting it go. Not forgetting, but letting it go.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010


It means stew, or pottage, and it's derived from an Old English word meaning moose. (Go figure.) In Switzerland, it's a popular breakfast cereal based on uncooked rolled oats, fruit and nuts. My friend's mother, who was from Switzerland, introduced me to this yummy stuff when I was about 11. I found a recipe about 2 years ago, and make it often.

You need rolled oats, (I used the old-fashioned kind that take 5 minutes to cook) milk, yogurt, raisins, apples, bananas, blueberries (or three other fruits; I use these three) and nuts. Oh, and a little citrus juice and maple syrup or honey.

3 cups of oats go into a bowl, and you pour 1 1/2 cups of milk over them.

They sit for about half an hour; usually enough time to start the coffee, start a load of wash, let the dogs out, then back in, feed them, let them out again, and put 1/4 c of raisins in 1/4 c of hot water. They sit for 15 minutes. (Kind of a psychedelic photo, doncha think?)

While the oats and raisins are soaking, cut up a banana; I usually cut it in half lengthwise, and then slice it into 1/4 inch slices.

Grate three apples; the original recipe calls for them to be peeled, but, I figure, the more fiber the merrier.

Pour 1/4 c orange juice and 2T lemon juice over the bananas and apples.

I have used all orange or all lemon, but the mixture of the two seems "brighter," if that makes sense. Mix the fruit with the juices; the juices will slow down the process of the fruit turning brown, while it gives it that nice flavor.

When the oats are done soaking, pour in 1/4 c honey or maple syrup; I use the syrup.

It's not as sweet, if you can imagine that, and has a more mellow taste. I tried to get by with just 2T today, but I had to use the full amount. I'm such a conformist! This is also the time to add 6T plain yogurt.

I use Greek yogurt; this container is just 6 ounces, or 6 T, so, in it went. It isn't my favorite brand; this one is, but the one in my hand is the one I had available. Stir this all together.

Drain the raisins. Toss them into the mix. Add 1 c blueberries and 1/2 cup chopped nuts (any kind; I like almonds.) Stir gently together. I like this best with hot coffee, in my chair out on the deck, while listening to the birds sing. Your mileage may vary!

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Pro-Life Corner

The Good News of a crucified and living Savior does not trivialize human struggles--the struggles of women, of problem pregnancies, of difficult situations. It speaks to them! The Good News defeated death and brings real love and compassion and neighborliness to bear in dealing with human struggles in very personal and practical ways. Life, not death, is our source of help and hope.

Lutherans For Life