Memorial Day

Sgt. Floyd Monument

As a child, my Memorial Day holidays were spent proudly wearing our paper poppies (purchased from our legion post).  We started the day by running across the road and through the alfalfa field to watch the veterans, in their uniforms, do a 21 gun salute in the Caltholic cemetary

We did not really understand the meaning of it all; but were very excited to gather the spent shells and smell that wonderful sulfur smell that came from those pieces of brass.

We then went with our parents to the cemetery that was across town.  We listened to the message given by the speaker, watched the legionnaires shoot the guns, gathered some more shells and looked at all the little flags that decorated the graves of servicemen.

It was impressed on us that great sacrifices had been made so that we could enjoy the rights we had. If I close my eyes, I can still hear the snap of the flags as they waved in the breeze, the sound of the guns as they were shot, the slap of hands on the stock of the guns as they were done shooting and placed in position on the veterans shoulders and the playing of the bugle as they retired from the field.

To this day, a flag waving in the breeze against a blue sky stirs something deep inside.

Old Glory.JPG

My husband and I have three nephews in various branches of the military.  We are so proud of these young men. They have given up years of their lives and time with their families to train and protect our country. Their families have had to celebrate many events without them…. Christmas, Thanksgiving, weddings, and birthdays to name a few.

On this holiday, this Memorial Day I want to give my heartfelt thanks to all those servicemen and their families. I want everyone to know how incredibly proud I am of our nephews – Sam (US Army Airborne), Kevin (US Army) and Justin (Navy) and their families.

Make sure to let our servicemen and families know how grateful you are and let us never forget those who gave their lives for the freedoms we enjoy.

The story of America’s quest for freedom
is inscribed on her history in the blood of her patriots.
-Randy Vader

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The Bird Test

Field Guides.JPG

This is a great time of year, when you can sit on the porch in the morning, drink your tea (coffee if you are my husband) and listen to the birds singing from all the trees that line the gully.

All those birds singing did bring back memories of “The Bird Test”. My sons will know exactly what I am referring to when they read those words.

When our boys turned 10 they received their Daisy Red Ryder BB guns for their birthday present.  This was a huge rite of passage in our household. In our home, guns were not and have never been treated as toys.  They are tools to be used  and respected.

I have a feeling the kids could still repeat the words their dad told them, “NEVER point a gun at something unless you intend to kill it. If you do need to kill something, do it quickly…you will NOT let it suffer. A gun is NOT a toy.” Actually, our boys did not own toy guns for this very reason.  They did however use any stick, vegetable and fruit in place of a toy gun.

Back to the bird test. Our sons had taken their BB guns out to do a little shooting.  They were allowed to shoot starlings and sparrows as they would fly from hog farm to hog farm and possibly spread disease. The boys came in, all excited that one of them had gotten a bird.  When my husband saw the bird he was not impressed. They had shot a wren. They tried to use ignorance as an excuse.

My husband decided to make the punishment fit the crime.  The Red Ryders were confiscated and the bird books were hauled out.  The boys needed to study the local songbirds and be able to identify and draw a dozen of them.  They also needed to know what colors they were and what their silhouettes looked like.

There would be no way they could plead ignorance in the future.  Once they had accomplished this they were allowed to have their BB guns again.  It took them awhile, but to this day they can identify the common songbirds we have in our area. To my knowledge, they never did shoot another songbird.

The BB guns were great sources of fun for our kids.  They spent hours plinking cans, trying to shoot leaves off the trees and making targets to practice on. Unfortunately,  they did share their weapon with their little brother before he owned one himself.

When a 6 year old has never shot a BB gun, they should not attempt to hit a sparrow that is sitting on the top of your car.  After a trip to the local Auto Salvage yard and dismantling the drivers’ side door, we once again had a window in place. This may also explain why we were missing window panes in the barn.

At this phase in our lives, our windows are safe and the song birds can sing freely without the fear of a BB coming their way. I cannot guarantee it will stay that way once the grandkids turn 10, and  are inducted into the world of the Daisy Red Ryder.

It will be interesting to see what our grandkids haul off.  It will also be interesting to see if the Bird Test will need to be repeated and become a family tradition.

Start children off on the way they should go,
and even when they are old
they will not turn from it.
Proverbs 22:6

New International Version

 

One Lovely Blog Award

One Lovely Blog Award.pngI have just been nominated for the One Lovely Blog Award. A huge thank you to AliciaEatsHerWay for the nomination. You should definitely journey over her way and check out her blog.

I am not totally sure what the One Lovely Blog Award is totally all about but I have found out that once nominated I need to pass on to you at least 10 blogs that I like and enjoy. I also need to give 7 fun facts about myself that you may or may not know.

First for the blogs that I am currently enjoying:

  1. AliciaEatsHerWay – I have found this blog to really interesting.  I am learning a lot of new things about food, food prep and a healthy way of eating. I also learned you can use an entire carrot as food. And thank you for nominating The Chicken Grandma!
  2. Tell His Story – This is a great faith based blog.  In an earlier post I had included a link for her new book The Happiness Dare. I love how Jennifer weaves faith through her everyday life story.
  3. goldenbrodie – The Brodie Here page on this blog is hilarious. It is written from a golden retriever named Brodie’s point of view. Light hearted and lots of fun.  Her pictures are also great.
  4. A Nene’s Life – Another blog I love.  The author covers everything from her child’s wedding, the granddaughter, hot flashes to DIY furniture restoration. Definitely one to check out and enjoy.
  5. Nandini – This is a food based blog.  Her pictures are amazing and make you want to go get those ingredients and get in the kitchen.  She has all sorts of great tips and goes into detail complete with photos.
  6. Tammi Kale – I am so glad this woman stopped by my blog so I could lead back to hers and check it out. A woman of faith and convictions who is not afraid to tell her story. I am looking forward to getting to know Tammi better.
  7. theDaddyBlitz – This man, husband and father of 5 sons blogs about family, religion and politics.  (He is indeed fearless to take those on!) His insights are good and I really enjoyed his post on Wile E. Coyote Parenting.
  8. Goats and Grace – This is a new one I have discovered and I am really enjoying it.  The first post I read from this author was about her dad.  She is so very proud of him and I love that.  I highly recommend this blog.
  9. HelbergFarmStories – a good read on farming, gardening and all the things that are so much fun to try.
  10. The Free Gift – This one is by a college gal who is making her way through life.  It is full of her journey and encouragement for others making the same journey.  She does not post often but when she does it is a great read.
  11. SmokedFishHoney – This is a great place to look at beautiful pictures.  The photography is amazing.
  12. The Vanilla Tulip – I cannot believe I forgot to add this blog to my list!  I will confess this gal is my niece and she is an amazing mom. She covers topics such as living thrifty, home-schooling, and food. Make sure to check it out.

I love to share things so I went over the 10 and gave you 12!  Enjoy!

 

And now the 7 facts about me you may or may not know:

  1. I am a word-a-holic. I am unashamedly addicted to words.  As a kid (and even now) I will read words anywhere – T-shirts, catsup labels, books, closed captioning on the tv even when the sound is working………
  2. I love a good joke.  If it is on me that is okay.  If it is on someone else (as long as it does not hurt them emotionally or physically) it is all good.
  3. My faith and my family are the center of my life. Anytime I can have my husband, kids, and grandkids around -all at the same time- I am loving it.  Throw in my siblings, parents and the in-laws and life just got better.
  4. I love to travel and see things. If I had the finances I would do a little globe-trotting. God created a big world out there and I would love to see as much of it as I can.
  5. I do not like pictures of myself.  I am getting over this one after reading somewhere that if you never let your picture be taken; how will your grandkids be able to remember what you looked like. I do, however, like to be in the back row of a group photo but when you are short that does not happen very often.
  6. I love to be crafting.  My husband thinks I keep getting new hobbies. He does not understand it is all under the big umbrella of crafting. Making cards, Making decorated sheet cakes, blogging, repurposing items, essential oils……all crafting though my oils also fall under health.)
  7. I have learned more lessons on living life and getting along just from watching “my girls” (chickens). Living in the country has given me an appreciation for the things around me and allows me to have chickens.  One of my favorite things to do is sit on our porch with my husband in the morning, have a cup of tea and listen to the birds singing in the gully. This would be pre-mosquito season….

Thank you all so much for stopping by.  I look forward to getting to know all of you.  That is one of the best things about blogging.  I am finding out people are pretty much the same wherever they come from.  We all have dreams, hopes, love our families and want to make a difference in some way.

Iron sharpens iron,
and one man sharpens another
.

Proverbs 27:17

 

Weeksend

Planting with the 766.JPG

You are probably wondering if I misspelled the title of this post.  Nope, I didn’t. It just always seems to come out as one word when you say it.

Did you ever have a week that when it was over you kind of sit and let your brain shut down because it already felt a little mushy?  That pretty much says it all about this past week.  And then it was the weeksend!

It was a very  busy week over here.  We started with grandkids over to visit.   They left to stay with the other set of grandparents, I filled in a couple days for one of the cooks at school, the weather straightened out, the garden got tilled and planted and my husband got to work spraying, disking and putting the soybeans in.

We don’t have that many acres, but it all still takes time.  It seemed  to be a constant busyness of running to town for things like spray, fuel, etc.  Then there was the time spent hooking up things like the sprayer, disk, and planter so each task can be done in the proper order.  It sometimes seems that there is always something that needs to be welded or fixed before you can actually get to doing the fieldwork.

My job in all of this is to help hook up various things.  It saves some time if I can run around with the hitch pins as my husband does not have to hop off and on tractors.  My other job in all of this is to help put the correct size sprocket in the planter so that we will plant the correct population of seeds.  (I keep wanting to call them planter plates – that may or may not show my age!) I also get to drive around the section to either pick my husband up or drop him off.

It is an exciting time of year and also crucial.  It seems we are always praying about the weather –  “Please let the rain hold off so the crop can get in” to “Okay the crop is in now, please let it rain”.

I can happily report – our planting is done. Then the next phase starts. It becomes time to clean up the tractors that were used and the equipment. Everything gets a good pressure washing before it gets put back in the machine shed.

 

Cleaning the Tractor

Putting equipment back in the shed is rather like fixing a giant jigsaw puzzle with a place for everything. I am convinced a machine shed is never quite big enough.

It feels so good to be able to sit at the weeksend and look back on everything that got accomplished the past week. It also feels good to get back on a regular schedule and caught up on the “normal” things of daily living.

“No one ever says,
I sure wish I had made
my machine shed smaller.”
Luke K.

 

 

Faith and Family

Faith Tree.jpg

I don’t normally post on a Sunday but this morning we sang a song in church that I absolutely love.  The name of that song is  “By Faith”.

I just want to share it here so you can also enjoy it. The words make me so grateful to have a background of parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents who were faith based and not afraid to teach it. It is also a great blessing to have a church family.

As a kid I used to be slightly embarrassed by one of my Grandma’s outspoken ways of dealing with people who were swearing.  She had no qualms about stepping up and asking them to not use “her Lord’s” name in that way.  Looking back, I can see she was a woman to be admired and emulated. She was not ashamed of her belief. I would love to say I am as fearless but I know I am not. I am working on that.

May you be blessed this Sunday and through the coming week.

May the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind be always at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face;
the rains fall soft upon your fields
and until we meet again,
may God hold you in the palm of His hand.
(traditional gaelic blessing)

 

Apple Crisp

Making Apple Crisp.JPG

I know it seems kind of early to be thinking of canning, but now is a really good time to start scouting out which of your neighbors, friends, or relatives have a good apple tree. (it helps if they are willing to share.)

One of our favorite quick desserts to make is apple crisp.  Years ago I was given a cookbook, from my mom-in-law, for the microwave.  In this book I found an apple crisp recipe. It calls for raw apples but I adapted it for my homemade apple pie filling.

This recipe makes an 8″ x 12″ pan full of sweet apple deliciousness. The recipe is as follows:

Apple Crisp
1 quart homemade apple pie filling
(or  5 cups peeled, cored, and sliced apples)
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup quick cooking oats
1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 cup butter or margarine
Place apples in an 8″x12″ glass baking dish
Combine flour, brown sugar, oats, cinnamon
Cut in the butter until mixture is crumbly
Sprinkle evenly over apples
Microwave on high for 11 minutes or till apples are tender
Serve warm and enjoy
NOTE:  is really good with ice cream melting over top
NOTE: if using raw apples increase cooking time to 15 minutes or till apples are tender.

I rarely have any idea what variety of apple I am using. The people I have gotten apples from usually have very old trees, planted by parents or grandparents.  When you ask them what type they are, the response you get is “Mom always used this one for pies and they were good.”  I figure if it was good enough for mom it is good enough for me!

Homemade Apple Pie Filling.JPG

To make the pie filling just follow this recipe:

Homemade Apple Pie Filling
Enough apples to fill 7 quart jars
Peel, core and slice them
Syrup
Mix together:
4 1/2 cups white sugar
1 cup cornstarch
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. cinnamon

Add (slowly) 10 cups water and stir.
Cook till thick.
Add 2 Tablespoons lemon juice.
Pour over apples in jars (try to remove air pockets)
Wipe rims clean and put on lids that have been prepped.
Process in hot water bath for 20 minutes.

I find that it is never an exact science in getting the apple to syrup ratio worked out.  I usually end up with extra of one of them.  You can store the syrup portion in the fridge for a few day till you do your next batch of pie filling.  

Making homemade pie filling does take time and effort in the fall, but the rewards the entire next year are so worth it. If you have company show up unexpectedly it is very easy to throw this apple crisp together and serve delicious hot crisp.

Apple Crisp

If you do make these recipes, stop in again and let me know how they turned out for you. I would love to hear from you and am open to any ideas you have on tweaking them.

Food should be enjoyed
rather than endured.
Steve Hamilton
 

Stinging Nettle

 

My Nettle Field.JPG

My Nettle Field

 

 

Stinging Nettle used to be a weed I hated with a passion.  I say used to; because now I harvest it.

I had no idea this “weed” could be so helpful until my friend, Sara, told me she was purchasing some dried nettle. To be honest, I thought she was nuts. I had always avoided this plant like the plague and here she was paying money to buy it!

To have to buy nettle also amazed me as it grows very prolifically around our farm. Pretty much any shady area has a great quantity of it.

My husband and I have always called it Fireweed. Mainly because when you brush against it with your bare skin it makes your skin feel like it’s on fire. A person can get red raised bumps and sometimes even blisters from it.

Then Sara sent me a link to a university study –Stinging Nettle. After reading the article I figured maybe I should give it a try.  I could see we had a bumper crop of it around our place, just waiting to be utilized.  If nothing else I could harvest, dry and bag it for Sara.

When I pick the nettle I make sure to wear long pants, a long sleeved shirt and gloves.  I, then head out to the patch that Lar leaves for me.  This is my organic, non-sprayed area of nettle. I am also armed with an ice cream pail and a pair of scissors.

The scissor work great for snipping off the top few leaves of the plants.  I make sure to choose plants that are not yet budding or flowering and have no bug holes in them.

Once I get my pail full of leaves I put them on my dryer trays and get the dehydrator going.  If it is a nice day out I sometimes let the trays stand outside on the deck so they air dry most of the way and then finish them in the dryer.

Drying Nettle

It is really crazy, but once these leaves are dry and papery you can handle them without any fear of reacting and welting up. I did not trust that at first but after drying numerous trays of nettle I no longer wear gloves when handling the dried leaves.

I like to use a few of them in my tea in the morning, especially during allergy season. If I wake up with a plugged head it doesn’t take long to open it back up.  I am now a firm believer in the wonders of nettle.

When you find yourself questioning a friend on one of their “different” ideas maybe you should take a step back and check it out.  You may be surprised, like I was, that it actually works. It is always good to stay curious……and it can be a lot of fun!

I wonder what other “weeds” God put out there that I can use for something……..

If you are fortunate, like I am, to have a friend like Sara; you will find yourself learning many, many new things!

“Their fruit will be for food, and their leaves for healing.”
Ezekiel 47:12b