Dishcloths and Memories

Knitted Dishcloth.JPG

One of my first posts I ever wrote; spoke of my yarn stash and how I was trying to use it up. I have been somewhat successful in that endeavor. I say somewhat because it never seems to totally disappear. It might be a little like the story of the widow’s oil in the Bible.

I should confess that it probably never disappears because I tend to keep purchasing yarn here and there for various projects. It never fails that you always end up with some extra from any project you do. At least I end up with some extra each time.

When I ventured over to the stash and looked through it I found some Sugar ‘n Cream cotton yarn. I thought I should probably turn it into a couple dishcloths as mine are getting pretty tacky.

Years ago, my Grandma made dishcloths and taught me how. I never knew what a YO (yarn over) was until she showed me.  I even have her pattern, in her handwriting, on a 3 x 5 index card. It is very special, at least to me, to be knitting a dishcloth from that pattern. Her spidery handwriting brings back more memories than just dishcloths.

In looking back she taught me way more than just how to make dishcloths. She taught me that there is a satisfaction in making something with your own hands that can be used in your home. She taught me that even things like dishcloths can be beautiful and colorful.

I can still see her sitting in her kitchen, on her chair with the wheels on it. (I personally thought that was pretty neat as our dining room chairs did not have wheels!) She would be hunched over the table, reading a pattern, a pile of yarn in front of her and a bowl, in the middle of her table with a single rose floating in it.

When she saw you come in the door she always made sure you sat down for a visit (at the table) and were served a piece of cake, cookie, banana bread or some new muffin she had tried. I learned at her kitchen table that a person could visit, eat lunch, and knit at the same time!

Grandma shared easily and so in the spirit of my Grandma I would like to share the dishcloth pattern with you. These are not too difficult to make if you can knit and do the YO thing.

They are a great project to take along when you travel; as they don’t use a lot of yarn or take up half your car with needles and balls of yarn. It is a pattern that works up quickly and is not overwhelming.

I also love how these clean my dishes. They have a slightly “bumpy” texture to them, which works great for scrubbing. I have also discovered that if they become stained or tacky looking; they make wonderful cloths for scrubbing the floor.

Knitted Dish Cloth
Sugar ‘n Cream or other cotton yarn
Size 10 knitting needles

Cast on 4 stitches
*K2, YO, K to end
Repeat from * until you have 45 stitches on the needle.

**K1, K2 tog, YO, K2 tog, K to end
Repeat from ** until you have 4 stitches on needle.

Bind off.
Weave in loose ends
K = knit, K2tog = knit 2 stitches together, YO = yarn over
NOTE: Grandma always made them with 45 stitches.
I tend to knit looser than she did so I do 40 stitches.

I hope you have as much fun making these as I do. I also hope you find them as useful and pretty as I do. If you do give these a try….let me know how they turn out for you.

In looking for a quote to go with this post I ran across a bunch of them by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee. They are so funny …..perhaps because so many of them are so true!

“Achieving the state of SABLE is not,
as many people who live with these knitters believe,
a reason to stop buying yarn,
but for the knitter it is an indication to write a will,
bequeathing the stash to an appropriate heir.”

Stephanie Pearl-McPhee,
At Knit’s End: Meditations for Women Who Knit Too Much
“SABLE- A common knitting acronym that stands for Stash Acquisition Beyond Life Expectancy.”
Stephanie Pearl-McPhee,
At Knit’s End: Meditations for Women Who Knit Too Much

 

 

 

Gratitude Moments

The People's House.JPG

Today was not one of those days that I felt overworked. I probably should have worked harder today; but I did not. Today I chose to sit in front of the television set and watch history, once again, take place in my country.

Just like four years ago I could not seem to tear myself away from the set as I watched the traditions and pageantry that make up our presidential inaugurations. I have always loved history and being able to watch it is truly a gift. (It was also fun to watch as I had been to D.C. just this past July with my sister.)

I am not going to veer into a political discussion on this post. I am going to say that today was just a day for being grateful. I am grateful for the country that is the United States.  I am grateful for those who protect and serve us. Having three nephews in the military probably makes me extra thankful to those men and women. Having had a grandpa and and an uncle who were the town cops (as we called them) still makes me grateful to those who serve in that way.

I am grateful that I live where I do…..in the country….on a farm….near lots of small towns. The people in this area are the salt of the earth, maybe not all of them, but the ones that I know; truly are. They are plain-spoken, giving when it is needed, and holding you accountable when called for.

I was going to start this post writing about how grateful I was for the chicken wellies I received from my sister last April. For some reason it did not start out that way.  (Did you ever have a post that kind of took on a life of it’s own?… this one did!) Anyway….back to the boots. Way back in April I wrote a post about those chicken covered boots.  https://thechickengrandma.wordpress.com/2016/04/20/chicken-wellies/

When the weather gets warmer on a winter day, on the farm it translates into a sea of water and mud on the yard. So yes, I was ever so grateful for those wonderful yellow, chicken covered boots. Those boots are the best things for keeping my feet from exposure to the elements…namely the above-mentioned water and mud.

I was also grateful for the memories those boots bring. When I received those boots this past spring, I Chicken Welliesfigured when I wore them it would bring thoughts of my sister…. and they do! They bring thoughts of her generosity and her smile when she gave them to me. They also bring back memories of the great time we had in Washington D.C. Anytime I put those boots on;  they make me smile. Even sliding through the mud to feed my chickens today; those boots brightened the day.

I hope you were gifted with a gratitude moment in your day today. I hope you had at least one thing that brought a smile to your face and lightened your spirit. I pray there is something as simple as boots to keep your feet dry, that turn your day around and make you feel blessed.

Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life.
It turns what we have into enough, and more.
It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity.
It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend.
Melody Beattie

Read more at: https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/keywords/gratitude.html

 

 

 

 

Old Years and New Beginnings

Twilight.JPG

I walked outside last night to lock my girls in the coop for the night. The minute I stepped out of our garage door and walked across the driveway I noticed how still it was. The wind had died down, there were no traffic sounds and all I heard, as I walked, was the crunch of gravel under my feet.

The sky was darkening quickly and the horizon was displaying the last light of day in a thin yellow ribbon. Evergreen trees in the backyard were silhouettes against the coming dark of night. It was truly the space of time between day and night where the world lies hushed and waiting…..hanging onto the old day and yet ready to give way to something new.

These last few days of 2016 are rather like that space of time. We are busy trying to wrap up the old year while our thoughts are beginning to focus on what the new one will bring. The past year brings back so many thoughts and memories. Things we did accomplish….things we did not get done. New people we have met and friends and family that we will not meet this side of heaven again. New jobs, new hairdos, new additions to our families …….changes…. sweet and some bittersweet.

Some of last year we cannot wait to be rid of. Plans that did not work out and caused us pain.  Memories we might like to toss out…. like the Christmas tree after the season. Some memories are not quite so easy to toss out. Some consequences must be lived with.

Some memories we will hold onto tightly. We will keep them close and cherish them. The time we spent with people we love and who love us are like pictures in our minds that we can “see” and just smile at the memory. These are things that time cannot erase.

Last year brought some wonderful things.  At least into my life. My children encouraged me to blog and I have met some amazing, wonderful people while doing so.  The kids just grin when I speak of some of you; as if I saw you just yesterday; when in reality I have never met you in person.

I have been privileged to share in your lives and have been thoroughly blessed by that fact.  I have been honored to pray for you during this past year and look forward to doing that in the coming new year.

So many thoughts can run through my head as I stand outside watching the day turn to  night. Thoughts of people and their lives, their hurts and their joys. Thoughts of places I have been this past year and places I hope to go in the coming year. Thoughts of things accomplished and things still on my to do list when it comes to faith, home, health, relationships and fun.

That space of time between day and night is a great place to pause and reflect. It is a place of hushed, reverent wonder. It is a place where the soul can dance. It is a place to offer your thoughts and prayers for peace when it comes to certain memories and thanks for others. It is a place to ask for renewal in the year to come.

My prayer for all of you in this coming year is joy, peace and hope. May you have joy in the everyday things, peace in adversity, and hope in every breath you take.  May you be blessed and may your soul dance…..

 

 

  “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past.
See, I am doing a new thing!
Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.”
Isaiah 43:18-19

 

 

Anticipation of the Season

top-hats

Only a few more days till Christmas and I have one more cookie recipe to share with you before the day is actually here. This is one is that my youngest two sons wait for with great anticipation as it is their all time favorite. In fact, the youngest told me just the other day; that he did not care what other varieties of cookies there were…..as long as there were plenty of Top Hats.

His enthusiasm for these cookies is contagious.  When I told him I was in the process of making them I could almost hear his smile through the phone line in that one word he uttered, “Yessss.”

It is always fun to find out what things are important to my children and husband on the holidays. Certain foods and certain traditions all speak different languages of love to each of them.  With daughter-in-laws and grandchildren added to the mix; it just makes it all the more fun.

Anticipation of the season for me is about so much more than all the preparation, baking, list making, shopping and so on. For me it is wrapped up in family and the love I see in their eyes for each other. The joy they have when they get together is a blessing to the heart and soul of this mom.

The anticipation of the laughter, the memories, the stories, the good-natured joking has taken hold and added a glow that rivals the brightly colored lights on the Christmas tree in the corner. My mindset is ready for the day to arrive….my preparations are not…..but they soon will be completed and if they are not; it really does not matter.

I finished the last of the cookies yesterday and tomorrow is house-cleaning time. If I figure it right I will be all set to go by the time the kids arrive this weekend.

I am not sure where I got this recipe; as I have been making these for more years than I care to count. These cookies take a little “canooey” work as my Grandma used to say. I will tell you; if you do make them….they are definitely worth the effort.

Top Hats
Cookies:
1 cup butter
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 cups + 2 tablespoons flour
Filling:
6 ounces cream cheese
2 cups powdered sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 cup nutmeats (optional)
1 cup flake coconut
Frosting:
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons water
Melt and beat in 1/2 cup powdered sugar.

Mix cookie dough and shape into 1 inch balls.
Bake on ungreased cookie sheet for 12-15 minutes at 325º – 350º
Remove from oven and thumbprint.
Mix filling and put on top of cookie.
Top with chocolate frosting.
NOTE: I choose not to add the optional nutmeats to the filling as my family does not care for them.

I will be counting the days till my family gathers. (I will also be guarding the cookies till they all get here!) I will be soaking up the joy that is this season and anticipating the contentment that is family.  May you be blessed in your preparations for this season of joy.

Christmas…that magic blanket that wraps itself about us,
that something so intangible that it is like a fragrance.
It may weave a spell of nostalgia.
Christmas may be a day of feasting, or of prayer,
but always it will be a day of remembrance
…a day in which we think of everything we have ever loved.

Augusta E Rundell quotes 

Thanksgiving Blessings

IMG_6532

My husband and I are working on getting ready to host my family for Thanksgiving on the farm. We have been sorting, cleaning and even getting some more woodwork put on in the hallway.

It is good to have people come over some times. I find that some deep cleaning gets done, sorting and tossing of stuff happens,  and the house gets organized once again. I should probably have company come more often!

I love the thought of having my parents, my kids, the grandkids, siblings and their families all come to our home. To be honest I love it anytime family gets together. I may have inherited that from my dad who is always looking for a reason to gather.

I remember as a kid going to my Aunt Jean’s house. Her home was not that big and there were a bunch of us….a big bunch. The kitchen smelled amazing and by the time we were all seated , no one was able to move from their seats, other than the aunts who served the food. (We were all warned in advance to use the bathroom as it would not be available during the meal.)

It did not matter if the house was small. It did not matter if the windows were drafty or the carpets were worn. It did not matter if the flowered wallpaper was peeling or the woodwork was scuffed.  What mattered was the fact that we were all together and that was the blessing.

The noise level must have been unreal and I am sure there were stressors for the adults. Would the turkey get done?  Would the pie crust be flakey? Would there be a snowstorm? I don’t know if the women worried if there house was good enough or not. As children we were not aware of those things and were just happy to be with cousins.

I hope the memories made during this holiday season will stick for years in the minds of my children, grandchildren and my nieces and nephews.  I hope when they look back it is with a warm satisfaction. My hope is that down the road they want the same type of gathering when they have children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews.

There is an excitement in the preparations for those holiday memories. There is the making of lists and the remaking of lists. Just when you think you have your to do list all made out; you think of something else.

I thought I had all my groceries purchased last week…..not so. I am in charge of pies/desserts and had forgotten to purchase the lard (and other items) for the pie crust. I am probably pretty old school with my pie crust; but Betty Crocker taught me this way and I am a creature of habit.

The plan is to have a couple pumpkin pies, a cream cheese pie and one layered chocolate cake that involves the use of heavy whipping cream and Skor candy bars. Baking day is Wednesday so I will get those recipes to you then…..complete with photos! I cannot wait for the aromatic smell of spices in baking pies to fill my kitchen.

Today I am going to share the stuffing recipe that is a family tradition in our home. It is one that my husband was raised on and I had to learn to make when I married into his family. It is one that I have now passed on to my kids.  It has the added bonus of being gluten free!

Holiday Rice Stuffing
2 Tablespoons melted butter
1/2 Cup onion, chopped
1/2 Cup dried parsley flakes

1 Cup grated carrots
1 Cup uncooked rice
3 Cups chicken broth
1/2 Teaspoons salt
Dash Pepper
Cook first four ingredients for 10 minutes.
Add the rest and stir thoroughly.
Cook on low 20 minutes.
Do not put in chicken or turkey until ready to put the bird in the oven.
NOTE: I do make this recipe the day before and store it in the fridge in a bowl.
In the morning I stuff the bird and put in the oven.
I also double or triple this depending on size of bird.

I usually make plenty of this stuffing as my family loves leftovers. I also save the turkey carcass and put in my pressure cooker with celery, carrots and onion. I then strain that and freeze to use in place of the chicken broth the next time I make stuffing or Chicken soup.

I would love to hear about some of your family traditions for Thanksgiving. My hope for all of you during this Thanksgiving week is that your preparations run smoothly, your stress level stays low and that your eyes are opened to the blessings around you.

“Home is people. Not a place.
If you go back there after the people are gone,
then all you can see is what is not there any more.”
Robin Hobb, Fool’s Fate

“So much of what is best in us is bound up in our love of family, that it remains the measure of our stability because it measures our sense of loyalty.”
Haniel Long

 

Road Trips and Memories

The Boyden Pit.JPG

Yesterday was a wonderful, slow, autumn Sunday. As there was nothing urgent taking place in the afternoon we decided it would be a good time to take a little road trip. My husband had a couple ideas of places to go and we picked one that brought back a lot of memories.

The place we decided to head for was a spot that we used to visit a lot as teenagers……the Boyden Pit. Back when we were in high school it was the place to be on a hot summer afternoon. After hot sweaty mornings of walking beans it was a great place to go and cool off.

The beach was small and did not have the greatest sand, but it was always full of teenagers, moms with little kids and was loud with the sound of laughter, water splashing, and the tunes belting out of multiple battery operated radios. It was the perfect place to see others and to be seen.

All we needed for a great afternoon was a beach towel, a  radio, a few snacks, some pop, and as many friends as we could round up. We didn’t worry about sunscreen…..skin cancer was not on the radar that decade. In fact we would use baby oil to get the great dark tan that we all coveted.

There weren’t any life guards on this beach and we were all responsible for our own safety. We did make sure to swim in pairs if we were swimming out to “the island”. (I am not sure it was really an island but it was on the other side of the pit and seemed to take forever to get there.)

I don’t know the entire history of the Pit. I do know it was a former sand/gravel pit where some company or other dug out the sand and gravel to use in other places. Once they had gotten as much as they wanted the machinery was taken away and water filled the hole that was left. It became a natural place for people to go and cool off on steamy summer days and nights.

There was even a massive cottonwood tree with a rope attached for those who wanted to swing off the cliff, dangle precariously over the water and let go in a timely manner. If you did not let go soon enough you slammed back into the cliff and slid, in an inglorious fashion, down the face of the cliff and into the water.

the-cottonwood-tree

Later the tree met it’s end when it was sawed down because too many people had hurt themselves. (Our high school Bible teacher ended up having surgery after smashing his heel against that cliff wall.) All that remains of the tree is the weathered stump in the photo above.  It was a sad day for those who loved the thrill of flying over the water and plummeting to the water 20 feet below. I never had the urge to attempt that feat after having witnessed the slamming and sliding type of end to a swing on the rope.

It seemed that with the death of the big cottonwood; a lot of changes came to the Pit. Someone drowned and the Pit was closed for a number of years due to insurance issues. The beach that once was alive with shouts and laughter slowly grew over with weeds and small trees. The concrete bath house was torn down and only a non-functional light pole remains to mark it’s location.

Some years back the County took over the Pit area and began the task of turning it into a place where people would once again picnic, fish and camp.  It is not the same as it was back in the day I regularly visited it…. there are some things I like better and some memories that are hard to let go.

The beach area is no longer available for swimming as there is no swimming allowed.  People now come with their canoes, fishing poles, tents and campers. They come and once again this place is a place for people to spend time together.

The quiet that is this fall season, lays like a blanket over this area. The mowed path that now makes it’s way around the pit is an invitation to take a walk and listen to the leaves rustle in the wind. It is fun to observe the frogs sitting on the rotted logs at the water’s edge and to see the birds flit from tree to tree.

I have a feeling it is the same quiet that held this place way back before it’s years as a gravel pit. It is probably the same quiet that descended when the pit was closed to the public for those many years. It is a quiet that permeates this place and seeps into the soul when you stand quietly at the water’s edge.

The “new” pit is a beautiful, peaceful place. For those who did not come here in the 70’s and 80’s it is probably hard to imagine how noisy it once was. All I have to do is stand on the overgrown beach, close my eyes, and those days once again play out in my mind like scenes from an old movie.

I think I have enjoyed the best of both worlds that make up the life of this place.  I have lived the vibrant, noisy memories of my youth spent on this beach and I am also getting to soak in the quiet, soul-nourishing peace that it is now. It is indeed a blessing.

All changes, even the most longed for,
have their melancholy;
for what we leave behind us is a part of ourselves;
we must die to one life before we can enter another.
~Anatole France

Doing Life….Together

Family.JPG

My husband and I had the opportunity to go to a wedding this weekend of a cousin. It was a great time spent with family that you don’t always get to talk to. It was so much fun reconnecting with some of his cousins.

Lots of childhood stories were passed around the table at the reception. Stories of games played at family gatherings, tales of “remember when…….”, time spent comparing memories each cousin had of the same event in their past, and stories of uncles and aunts who pulled pranks on newlywed couples (also known as Shivareeing….and nope I am not sure how to spell that!).

The sense of family and being together was like a warm blanket wrapped around our hearts and souls. The feeling of belonging to something that was timeless brought a contentment that is hard to explain. As talk and laughter swirled around that church fellowship hall it was neat to just stop and look around to absorb the joy of relationships.

So many times in life, busyness gets in the way of relationships and so it is good to have an event that celebrates that very thing. It is good to be reminded that these cousins and siblings have been there your entire life and you can pick up the threads of your childhood anytime you get together.

There is something special about the bond of siblings and cousins. They know pretty much everything about you and still love you….they have to because they are family! They know your strengths and your weaknesses and if you have stayed in touch they will always have your back. It is indeed, a good thing when your family also becomes your friends.

Talking to a cousin or sibling will definitely keep you grounded as they never, ever forget all the brilliant (and stupid) things you did as a kid. They will not let you forget that you shot your brother in the back with a BB gun (this would be my brother in law). They will never let you forget that you put a shotgun shell through your mom’s living room ceiling (another brother-in law ….though my husband usually gets the blame for this one). The stories of roller skating in Grandma’s basement, playing in haymows and remembering certain favorite toys at uncle’s and aunt’s homes are such sweet memories.

I always have so much fun just listening to these stories of my husband’s life. We have been married almost 36 years but every time we get together with his family it seems I learn something new about his childhood.

Maybe that is part of the beauty of relationships…..there is always more to be learned about another person, another facet to their life. I have a feeling it may take way more than my lifetime to really know everything about this man God gave me.  I think that is a good thing.

 

 

A cousin is a little bit of childhood that can never be lost
Marion C. Garretty

Summertime & Sweet Corn

Sweet Corn.JPG

For some reason it just seems like summertime and sweet corn go together. It seems a long while back that my husband and I put those little pink colored kernels into the ground just in time for them to get rained on.

I ventured into the patch the other day and ended up coming back to the house for some  5 gallon buckets. By the time I was done going through the rows I had 4 buckets full of ears of sweet corn.

My husband helped me husk them and then it was up to me to get them ready to freeze for the coming year. Working with those ears of corn brought back lots of memories. I remember as a kid going with my folks to my uncle’s farm to pick corn to eat fresh and to freeze.

My mom would spend the entire day husking corn, blanching it, cutting it off the cob and packing those beautiful golden kernels into plastic freezer boxes. Our job, as kids, was to help with the husking. Then we would wait for mom to blanch it and cut it off the cob. There was nothing quite like sneaking slabs of cut off corn and popping them into your mouth after they had been blanched and cooled slightly.

By the time mom was done; the kitchen was hot, steamy, sticky with the milk from the kernels and corn silk seemed to be everywhere. The upside was the rows and rows of freezer boxes filled to the brim with corn and tucked into the huge chest type freezer in the basement.

I remember the first time I froze corn, as a young bride. I went to my mom in laws house and the procedure was pretty much the same as I remembered from being a kid.  The only difference was my mom in law used a huge oval copper canner on her stove for blanching the corn and when it was cut off the cob it was packed in freezer bags instead of boxes. It was so satisfying to go home with bags for my own freezer.

Ready for the Freezer.JPG

There is comfort in the continuity of putting up produce. It seems to weave the generations together. I can look back and remember grandma, mom and now me doing the same task that has been done for years. Perhaps that is why I enjoy gardening; canning and preserving produce…..it has the feel of timelessness.

I remember even as a kid waiting for those first ears. There were no farmers’ markets back then and no early sweet corn in the grocery store. If you wanted sweet corn you either had to grow it yourself or know someone who did and would share.

I know other families would have corn on the cob as the vegetable with their meal. When my husband and I were kids our families had corn on the cob as the entire meal. Our moms would put big pots full of sweet corn on the burners of the stove and let them boil till those ears were a bright yellow. (There were also no varieties around here other than yellow!)

It was so delicious to slather those ears with butter, sprinkle them with salt and sink your teeth into the juicy kernels. It also was a given that the first one you ate would definitely burn the roof of your mouth and you would spend the next few days having that skin peel off. It kind of makes me wonder how many layers we did lose from the roofs of our mouths through the summertime?

I have a feeling the reason we had it as an entire meal might have been because it was cheap and filling. That may or may not have been the reason we fed it to our boys!

I have found an easier way to freeze corn than the way my mom did.  I will share the recipe with you that I use.  I have used it for many years and it has always turned out wonderful and delicious.

Prepping the Sweet Corn.JPG

 

Freezing Sweet Corn
4 cups sweet corn (cut off cob)
1 cup water
1 teaspoon salt
3 teaspoons sugar
mix salt and sugar into the water.
pour over sweet corn and put in a freezer bag.
I have found that using a round angel food cake pan and an electric knife work great
for cutting the corn off the cob.  Prop your ear on the middle part of the pan and when you cut
the kernels will drop right into the pan.

Always do your best.
What you plant now, you will harvest later.
Og Mandino
Read more at: http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/o/ogmandino164003.html

Make Hay While The Sun Shines….

baleing

Once again it is that season to bale waterways, ditches and grass hay in general. I know it is that time when the temps soar into the 90’s and the air is so thick and muggy you feel like you could swim through it.

I knew this time was coming…..but I think in my head I kept thinking that maybe, just maybe it would not happen. A very distant hope, but a hope, none the less.

To understand my feelings on baling you need to realize that I did not grow up on a farm. I grew up in a small town and had cousins who lived on farms. When we went to the farm we had fun.  We played on the sack swing, played kick the can, played with the chicks (this may have triggered my love for chickens), and once in a while we decided we should try to ride a pig……because that is what you do as a kid in a rural area when you are done with your chores.

The closest I got to farm work growing up were the summers spent walking beans and detasseling corn.  These occupations in no way prepared me for baling or tractor driving.

When I married my farmer we decided we should milk cows. I found out quickly that milking cows involved more than milking twice a day.  There was the gutter to be cleaned every day, feed to be ground, bulk tanks to be washed, and baling. Pretty much everything you did, all day, every season revolved around cows.

Those first summers that my husband requested I drive the tractor for baling are etched firmly in my mind. As a gal who had never driven a clutch it was quite an experience for me and probably more for my husband as he attempted to remain upright on the hay rack as I would put that tractor into gear.  I must confess I had him on his knees several times……I am quite sure he was not praying…..but then again maybe he was! If not, he probably should have been.

Quite often my dad in law would show up as we were baling and ask if I wanted him to drive.  You have never seen a woman get off a tractor so fast! Now that he is going to be 87 I don’t think he is going to show up to rescue me anymore.

There came a time when we had to decide to get big or get out of the dairy business and we chose out. That ended my time of driving a tractor for baling.  I thought this was forever but nope.

Last year my husband decided that, once again, we should take up the fine art of small square baling. As he purchased a disk mower, rake, and baler I was really wondering if this was such a good idea for a couple who was a lot closer to 60 than we liked to think.

Once again I am learning how NOT to pop a clutch, how to decipher what all those hand motions mean (no, he is not just waving with joy at me all the time), how to make the turns and how to follow the long row of raked grass without leaving too much on the ground.

I am learning  slooooowwwwwllly. Yes very slowly. I am getting better (that might just be in my own head). I still do not like driving on a slant.  One half of my brain knows that I will not tip the tractor over on this gentle incline but the other half persist in arguing that the ground in not level. I pray against fear on that one. My husband keeps assuring me it will be fine but the one half of my brain, again, is not convinced. Maybe next year?

I keep telling my husband that a utility tractor would be a good investment if he is going to persist in this baling thing. I just know I would feel safer if I were driving a tractor that was lower to the ground and much “squattier”. Once again…..maybe next year??

Every so often I take a turn on the rack when the ground gets steeper than I like or the turns get way to tight in the back corners of the waterway.  My husband is very gracious with my stacking of bales.  To be very honest…….. My stacking skills suck. (please forgive the language–I have raised three sons—-on a farm).

I will have to say there is a satisfaction in seeing the bales, stacked neatly in a haymow. I have a feeling that for my husband, it is the same feeling I get when I see my pantry full of  canning jars that are full of produce.

I think my husband loves baling because it brings back his teenage years.  He spent many hours throwing bales for various farmers who needed extra help. He worked for the grand wage of $1.75 an hour.

I am starting to think I may have to find one of those teenage boys who want to throw bales.  That way my husband could do the driving……I am seeing a win-win situation here.

“Only a farmer
knows the difference between
5 MPH and 5.5 MPH”
-Unknown

“Farming is a profession of hope”
Brian Brett

 

 

The Swimming Pool/Hole

The Adult Wading Pool.JPG

I finally put up my pool…..or as I call it my adult wading pool.  Several years ago I purchased one of these 10′ x 30″ pools when it was on sale. It was a great decision.

Some years it gets put up and some years it doesn’t. Now that I have a couple grandkids it seems like it could be a lot of fun so I hauled it out and filled it up.

It does take three days to fill it as we do not have rural water and our only source is the well on our place. (Fortunately this well has never been known to go dry even in the very dry 80’s.)  So I pace myself and fill it one third at a time.

While filling the pool my husband and I spent some time reminiscing about our experiences as kids and swimming.  We remembered those cold early morning swimming lessons that we were required, by our parents, to take. The town kids (me) got to take their bikes to the pool….the country kids (my husband) carpooled with about 5 neighboring families to the pool in town.  They just jammed the cars full of kids and went to town….who needed seatbelts?

The first couple years that we took lessons we had to get on a school bus at 7:00 in the morning to go to a pool in the next town. Once our town built a pool we finally got to have later morning lessons. The year our parents finally thought we knew enough to keep from drowning they let us quit. I was very grateful for that.

My experience with swimming as a kid was very different from my husbands. I lived in town and my folks thought it would be a good idea for us to earn the money ourselves to purchase our own pool pass. We spent time working for an elderly lady, nicknamed the Goose Lady (because she had geese), pulling weeds and cleaning her house.  We also walked beans and detasseled corn.  Once we had enough; we went straight to the pool and bought our passes and spent our afternoons in the town pool. Nice and clean and chlorinated.

My husband, on the other hand, grew up in the country and only spent time in the town pool for those dreaded lessons. He would play in the ditches after a rainfall. If he, his brothers and his buddies really felt adventurous they would bike to a creek in the next mile. Once there they would wade into the shallow creek, where they sunk past their ankles into the mud. They would then venture under the wood bridge that spanned the road.  He said the water was deeper there but I do wonder if they perhaps just sunk deeper into the mud.

He told me they had to watch where they walked under that bridge as it seemed to be a dumping spot for old rolled up barbed wire and anything else that farmers didn’t want.

He related that to cool off they would go underwater and when they came up they usually had twigs, pigeon droppings, leeches and who knows what else clinging to them. I have a feeling they had some very strong antibodies in their systems!

Our boys were also farm boys but they had an upgrade from a creek.  We would fill the 2′ x 4′ stock tank and let them cool off in there. They spend many fun hours with each other and cousins in that stock tank. Every so often we would head for the river (when it was not to high), find a sand bar and take them swimming and fishing in the river.

I love it that filling my pool brings back so many good memories of our childhood and of raising our boys.  It is just another plus to putting the pool up. It is probably a good thing it takes 3 days to fill….just extra days for those memories!

Live in the sunshine, swim the sea, drink the wild air.
~Ralph Waldo Emerson

The tan lines fade,
but the memories last forever…….
unknown