Tuesday, June 30, 2009

This Post Brought to You By the English Mastiff

Missy is feeling all better these days. She is always on the look out for anybody misbehaving on the farm.

She looks quite stately sitting in her stance. She no longer limps from her car accident. I thought she would always have a limp, but it seems to have passed. This is good because a dog this big with a limp looks kind of strange.

Here she is explaining to the chicken that it needs to eat a lot so we can hurry up and eat it. I am sure the chicken was a bit startled when Missy started whispering chicken recipes in its ear. She also loves to play tag with the chickens. She runs until she catches them. She pins them to the ground and puts their head in her mouth, and then she lets them go. They are not hurt except for the extra slobber on their feathers. I am sure that somehow it does hurt their chicken dignity or something like that!
grace and peace,

Monday, June 29, 2009

Tennessee State Champions

Jacob's 12 and under baseball team had a wonderful baseball weekend. They played their hearts out, and were rewarded for their hard work. They became the 2009 Tn-USSSA Baseball 12 and under Double A champions!!!!!

They played hard last weekend just to qualify for the tournament. Only 16 teams from around the state made the qualifications. This weekend was spent playing for the gold. After 4 straight games, we finally came out on the winning end!!! Let me just say, it was one hot weekend. I was amazed that those boys could play 4 straight games in the heat. They started playing ball at 12:45 in the afternoon and they ended around 10:00 p.m. They only had enough breaks in between games to get a drink and eat a bit of fruit or granola bar. When the last play was made, you wouldn't have even known the boys were tired. They were whooping and hollering like there was no tomorrow!

We only have one more tournament left this season. They will be playing in the Double A world series located in Knoxville. Then we will have a break from baseball until fall!!!!! Did I mention that my little man had a great weekend?

grace and peace,

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

What I Learned at College In Just One Day

After spending the entire day at the college freshman orientation, I decided to share with all of you what I learned. This is some earth shattering information so be prepared before beginning to read.

First, if you have birthed 5 children NEVER drink 2 cups of coffee and then sit through a seminar. I don't know what I was thinking, but the bathrooms were far far away from the seminar room.

Second, bring breath mints to share with the other moms who keep whispering in your ear. Somehow every mother that chatted with me was a smoker!

Third, spending $50 for a freshman orientation was a waste of money, except for the fact that we had to do it if he wanted to register for classes. Go figure...you would think that paying $7,000 for tuition should be enough to cover the fee to register for the classes!

Fourth, did you know that only one out of every 2 college freshman will graduate? According to the big wig man doing the speaking, this poor stat is due to the fact that the students let life get in the way. I thought that was called LIVING...apparently I was wrong.

I was also reminded just how much I like being at home making a place for my family to live life to its fullest.

grace and peace,

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Off to College I go

I am leaving for college. I am trying to get excited about spending the day in the big city, but truth be told I would rather be weeding the garden. Well, the day isn't for me really. I have already done that college thing. I even have a degree, which by the way, earned me NOTHING. I am so smart that I got my husband to pay over $15,000 for a piece of paper that says I am qualified to teach high school! Then I had a baby and the last thing I wanted to do was to leave him. Now that baby has grown up and graduated so it is his turn to go to college. We get to spend our day being at orientation. I am looking forward to the time we will share together today, but I would rather be doing something else with him. I am sure we will have a great day together. There are lots of new things for him to explore and learn. It seems like just yesterday that I was beginning my college career. Matthew was unsure about what he wanted to do with his life. We have always told him to seek the Lord concerning this matter, but that was a bit vague. Finally, I asked him what was his passion. I knew, but I wanted him to state it in his own words. He is passionate about working out which is one of the reasons we call him our resident health nut. We looked at different avenues to apply this passion to a career. He has settled on majoring in kinesiology, which is the study of the body's movement. This will hopefully be the stepping stone into the field of physical therapy. He would be great at that as he is wonderful with older people as well as children. Only the Lord knows all the plans for this child, but we are excited to see what is in the next chapter of his life.

grace and peace,

Monday, June 22, 2009

Summer's First Sunflower

Sunflowers seem like such happy flowers. They always brighten my day. It has only been in the last few years that I have really decided that I love sunflowers. I didn't take their beauty seriously because I am not a lover of the color orange. I also wasn't impressed with the shape of the giant sunflowers. They just looked like big ugly Frisbees with deformed petals to me. Then I discovered that sunflowers don't have to be the gigantic variety and they do come in many different colors. I plant a variety of sunflowers, but my favorite are the smaller versions. I love the autumn colors or the beautiful yellow ones. I have even come to love the orange ones. The great thing about sunflowers is that they will reseed themselves. If you plant a few this year, you will have many more next year without any effort. Now, how can you beat that?
I also love sunflowers for the simple arrangements that can be made with them. Here I have taken a wine caddy and a vase. I plopped the sunflower in the vase and put the vase in the wine caddy. It adds a pretty country touch in my living room and it took me all of about 30 seconds to put together. How is that for a timely flower arrangement? The sunflower is usually a heavy flower. The sunflower in the above picture would not have stood up in the glass vase alone. It was so heavy that the vase would have fallen. I usually display my sunflowers in heavy containers. I will use an old coffee pot from camping or a heavy pitcher. I also try to leave some of the foliage for added support and beauty. Just remember it is best if you can take off the leaves that will be touching the water. If you remove the leaves that would be down in the water, it will extend the life of your flowers. The leaves that are in the water tend to decay quickly and make the flowers go bad. Along with the decay comes a nasty smell. It is an easy fix to clip the extra leaves, but don't take them all. Leave a few that will be out of the water for some extra beauty.
grace and peace,

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Happy Father's Day

"And he will turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers..." Malachi 4:6

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Farm Changes

Our horses came to us about four years ago. I have loved them dearly, but we didn't spend the time with them that they require. A few days ago we gave them to a wonderful family. I knew it was pleasing to the Lord to bless these girls in this manner. I also knew it would be good for the horses. We loaded them up in the stock trailer and Michael and Jacob drove them to their new home. I remained home to dry my tears. I do miss them, but I know that this is the best for them. Plus, they have a wonderful new family with two teenage girls who will spend ample time with them.

The other change came this week wasn't so pleasing to me. We have had a hard time keeping our sheep on our property. One of our neighbors doesn't mind a few sheep in his field. I think he likes them, but the other neighbor apparently did mind. He wasn't the kindest person concerning this matter. We knew we didn't have enough time to rebuild the fence, and we couldn't guarantee that the sheep would never wander onto his property again. So we sold them all. I cried myself to sleep that night. I miss them dearly. Our farm sounds so quiet. At times I look out to the pastures and it doesn't seem like a farm any more. In my mind, farm equals lots and lots of animals. Now all that we have are 50 chickens and 3 beef cows and 2 jersey cows. Well don't forget the English Mastiff and the Border Collie!

It seems to me that we have taken a step backwards. My husband on the other hand is breathing a sigh of relief. The farm has been a lot for him to handle with a full time job. We have put so much effort into the farm this past year that we have let the house go. It is time to switch gears and finish renovating our home. I am happy about this, but I still want my sheep back!

grace and peace,

Saturday, June 13, 2009

A Baseball Moment

Hold it just like this, Seth...Here...let me help you.

And you run just like this!
Since Seth has gotten his glasses, he has been all about playing some baseball. He would even play baseball with Missy if she would play. Instead she just chews up his balls. Yesterday, our oldest son's girlfriend was over for dinner. Seth had her out in the front yard throwing pitches to him. He has asked me to throw to him. I learned early on NOT to play baseball with the little people. They grow and then they throw the ball much harder than I care to try to catch. Then they realize that I am really scared of the ball. Then it dawns on them that they are superior to me in the baseball arena, and they hang it over my head for the rest of my life!
grace and peace,

Friday, June 12, 2009

Come to the Garden With Me

Missy is having a little trouble getting out of bed this morning. So if you don't mind, would you like to come to the garden with me? While we are there we will be picking more squash and zucchini. You are MORE than welcome to take some home with you. We have been eating a lot of stir fry and fried zucchini here lately so we have plenty extra to share. You are more than welcome to help pick the potato bugs off our beautiful potatoes. You see, we have declared war on the little bugs, but I am afraid they gain a little extra ground every day.

Our cucumbers are now in bloom. There isn't much to do in this bed because I have already weeded it. By the way, while we are in the garden do you care to spend three or four hours helping me do some weeding? You don't have that much time? Neither do I so I guess it will have to wait for another day!

We have also been picking, shelling, and eating peas. Don't worry about this bed. My husband offered the kids a deal they couldn't refuse after dinner last night. They had the choice of going to pick the remaining peas and he and I would do the dinner dishes. Their second choice was they could pick the remaining peas AND do the dinner dishes when they got back. Yes, I raised smart kids so they chose the first option which gave my hubby and me some time to visit. On a side note after helping me with the dishes last night, my hubby did mention that we would be purchasing a new dishwasher very soon. I have been doing dishes by hand for several months now. He has done them once and he is NOW ready to buy a dishwasher!!! So apparently I was the winner last night because I had the children doing the garden chores AND I will soon be getting a new dishwasher!

Our lettuce was beautiful this year, but we had to till it under due to the fact that it bolted. We still have enough to make one more salad for tonight's supper. Don't worry about this bed. The kids have already tilled it up and I have replanted it with okra and more yellow squash. Yes, I am trying to succession plant squash this year to see if I can stretch out the harvest. I now have planted okra three different times this year. If I don't see some little okra plants this time around, I am done. I will just go the farmer's market and buy it!
Thanks for helping me in the garden this morning. I wonder if Missy ever got out of bed?
grace and peace,

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Thanks for the Prayers!!

Seth went back to the eye doctor this week. We got a great report. To sum it up, his eyes have already improved by leaps and bounds. His glasses have allowed his eyes to go back to being straight. This apparently was something that the eye doctor was unsure would ever happen in Seth's case. It took only two months to make such progress. He was planning on using a patch to help strengthen his weak eye. However, since it has made so much improvement the doctor decided that step wasn't needed at this time! (Before we found out that Seth would not need an eye patch, our oldest son asked if we could purchase eye patches for all of our boys. That way they could play pirates to help Seth be more comfortable with the patch. You got to love brothers!)!!! I just wanted to thank you all for the prayers on Seth's behalf. We know that this was the hand of the Lord, and we wanted to take the opportunity to share our celebration with all of you! We still have a long ways to walk with this, but we have come so far in just a few short months.

grace and peace,

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

While We Were Away

We also took some time on our vacation to study some history. We went to visit the Cape Hatteras light house. Beautiful. We didn't climb to the top because of the cost per person, but we stood and looked from the ground. Still it was beautiful. All of my children love history so it is just something that we always try to incorporate any time we head to somewhere new. We didn't get our fill of the light house, so we purchased a beautiful puzzle of this light house. Everybody worked diligently to get the puzzle put together before the end of our vacation. Well, except for me, I read diligently. They almost finished the puzzle...there was just a little bit of sky left to finish.

The beach is such a drastic change from the mountains and farm life that we live on a daily basis. The beach is beautiful in its own way, but I sure was happy to get back to our mountains and our farm. Farm living is definitely for me!!!!

grace and peace,

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

While We Were On Vacation

We enjoyed the time away so much. We did a lot of this...

and lots and lots of this....

We even built a fire on the beach and roasted marshmallows and ate somores.

Many memories were made and much fun was had. This trip was a request of our son who graduated this past May. He asked for his graduation present to be a family vacation to the beach. (How can you deny that request)? We have saved since last winter and we rented a house that sat right on the beach. The house came with its own private pool so when we got tired of the sand we could just swim right in the pool. We had no agenda other than relaxing and having fun. We didn't have to be any where at any certain time. We were free to just enjoy the time away from all the responsibilities of life. We brought all of our own food so we all pitched in together and grilled something yummy every night. One night we did go to a local seafood restaurant and treated the family to some fresh seafood. Everyone in our family except for me LOVES seafood. I had an order of onion rings!

While all of the swimming and playing was taking place, I took the time to pursue one of my favorite hobbies. I am a reader. I love to read, but I seldom take the time to read fiction. One of the reasons that I don't read very often is that I am an undisciplined reader. Reading is like a rich dessert to me...it is easier if I never take the first bite than have to eat just a little. I read until my heart was content on vacation. I got up early and read by the pool with the sounds of the ocean washing over me. My favorite book that I read was Gap Creek by Robert Morgan. The setting was the Appalachian mountains in 1899. Wow, did they ever have a hard life. As I was reading, I realized how many things I take for granted in life. Then it occurred to me that my own grandfather was born in 1899. This connection made the book come even more alive to me as I read it. Perhaps my own great grandparents had some of the same living conditions and experiences. I do not know much about my great grandparents. I have vague memories of my grandfather leaving early every morning to go to the nursing home to feed his mother breakfast. I always wanted to tag along, but he never allowed that. Instead my own grandmother would pour me a cup of coffee in one of her beautiful tea cups and allow me to add sugar and cream to my heart's desire. I do know that my great grandfather apparently committed suicide. My grandfather never spoke to me concerning this. (After reading this book, I could only imagine that times could be disheartening at best). However, my own father swore that it must have been an accident. He never bought into the suicide theory. He just knew that his own grandfather wouldn't do something such as that. There is no one left in the family to fill in any of the gaps. I wish I had the knowledge as a child that I do today and I would have asked my own grandfather to talk more about his childhood. I remember him telling me that he and his friends grew up ice skating on the Ohio River, but that is about all I remember of his childhood. The book brought so much of that era to life for me. I loved it, and if you don't have time for a vacation perhaps instead you could take a few hours and curl up with a wonderful book instead!
grace and peace,

Monday, June 08, 2009

I'm Back

It is hard for me to believe that it has been so long since my last post. While I have been away, our family has had a vacation, played ball tournaments, gardened, and just generally worked hard. It has been a very enjoyable few weeks, but I have come to the conclusion that everything is never accomplished. There is always something else that needs our attention. The hard part of life is balancing the work that must get done and the fun that needs to be had all at the same time. We are still working on it here in East Tennessee!

Our garden has been busy producing lettuce, broccoli, green onions, beets, and peas. We have declared war on the potato bugs. (At the moment, I think they are winning)! Our broccoli has bolted so we will no longer have any of that wonderful treat this summer for our table. Our lettuce is headed in the same direction. I should have succession planted more lettuce, but it is a little hard to do that now that the days are so much hotter. Our peas are coming in by leaps and bounds. In the last two days, I have picked close to a bushel of yummy sweet peas. They taste like candy because they are so sweet. YUM! I have also started picking zucchini and squash. This week's menu plan is based around fresh peas, fried zucchini, and squash casseroles. It can't get much better than that!

There have been a couple of disappointments this year in the garden. We suffer some each year so I choose to turn them into learning experiences. First, our okra didn't germinate. This has been the second time that I have planted it. I bought new seeds and I will try again this week. We lost a lot of our peppers so I need to replace some of those. A board from the raised bed fell and smashed them. I will pick up some more plants from the farm store later this week. While we were on vacation, our broccoli decided to bolt. If I had been home, I could have pinched off the flower heads and kept them a good bit longer. However, I wasn't around to do that. We just lost part of our harvest. I will NOT be on vacation this fall so we should be good with the next harvest of broccoli. Also due to vacation, the weeds got ahead of me this year. I am still trying to dig out from under them!!

For the most part, I have been pleased with the garden production this year. Our next big endeavor will be butchering the 50 meat birds that are walking all around our farm. We are also just about ready to put 5 lambs into the freezer and the cow is getting closer every day. I feel like the little squirrel who is working hard to get his winter food supplies stored in the tree!

grace and peace,