Bring it On

We heard the storm was coming for several days over the radio, giving us goodly time to prepare for it. It is not that we live so far from town, but we have a long private drive to keep open and clear. Winter has been slow hitting this year, but has made up for it this week.

There are about five inches of snow on the ground, with a nice, hard layer of ice firmly placed all over the top like a crusty bagel. The strong winds demand the ice to stay put, which makes it all the more easy to stay put in the house as well. No chance of any melt today either. There is some clearing we need to do with the tractor blade out at the barn. The thick ice and frozen ground puts a strain on the horses, most especially the minis. They stayed in and around the barn all day yesterday. Duke ventured out a bit this morning, but not for long. Our mini, Snowbell, thought she would join him, but smartly changed her mind.

In preparation, this past Sunday afternoon found my husband in the warm garage getting blades set up on the tractor, checking fluids, and filling up with fuel. I, on the other hand, was out tending to the animals and barn. Spreading fresh, warm straw in stalls, and under the roof for the horses, checking salt, filling water troughs, filling the chicken feed dispenser and fresh water. How chickens enjoy scratching around fresh straw!

Tractor is ready and waiting
How chickens enjoy scratching in fresh straw.

It is a magical time just before a storm. The overcast sky foretelling the coming weather, preparing itself, just as we were. A text from families living in both Harrisonburg, and Timberville happily announced snow was falling. Was it at our place? Not yet. They generally always get it before we do.

The gentle announcement of snow falling.
High Hope doesn’t seem to notice snow, she is happy with her hay.

‘Keep going, it will be all ready for the animals,‘ I told myself. Thankfully one big worry that no longer exists is water troughs. With heaters in them, the only concern is keeping them filled. That is for the horses anyway, the chickens’ water is different. Having two water containers for them, one stays in our heated tack room, to switch out when the other gets frozen.

Fill up water troughs. Heaters keep them free from ice.

Something told me to stop my work and look around. For one thing I needed to find our puppy, and be sure the chickens were hanging around the barn. That is when I saw the snow quietly making its gentle announcement. It fell steadily and thicker for the rest of the day. As night fell so did the sleet, and with it, the Old Man Winter wind blew his icy blast heartily over our cozy, buttoned-down farm.

Duke ventured out for a while. He had to paw through ice and snow for grass.
Snowbell had difficulty breaking through ice.
She decided the barn and hay were better option.
Our icy, snowy field and woods.

Looks like there may be a break one day this week to clean things up and prepare again. Bring it on. We are ready.

Spring will soon be here!

FMF—Writing Prompt: Determine

Determine. I like this word.

It speaks of a persons strength of character. To determine to do something or achieve a set goal is a deliberate action. It seems as if I am in God’s plan for me when I work towards a heartfelt goal of mine. God knows our hearts.

One of the goals this year is to become more comfortable, knowledgeable, and accurate with my shotgun at the range.

I am off to a good start.

FMF Writing Prompt—Important

Important. A fine word for the start of a New Year.

Great for reflection and looking ahead. The questions I ask myself are: Did I accomplish those things I thought were of value and importance to me over this past year? What specifically is important to me in this coming New Year? How am I going to achieve those things I deem important?

One specific goal is to ‘be still and know that I am God’. To set aside quiet time to spend with God and reflect upon my daily life. Reflection is important. I plan on putting this photograph of our grandson astride our miniature horse, Snowbell, where it is easily seen as a reminder to be still a moment of a normal, busy day and think on God. A feeling of refreshment and hopefully a quiet assurance that God is here with me will fill my heart.

The Magic of Poetry

Do you like poetry?

Our mother read poetry many times to us when we were little. She read out-loud beautifully, with great skill and inflection. Reading out-loud is an art, and she owned it.

I have spent many hours in practice of it over the years. Reading hundreds of poems and books to our children when young, I feel I have gained, perhaps, a bit of Moms’ amazing talent.

The way she could transport us into the magical world of childhood poems was thrilling and at times downright scary. I just knew if I got sassy with company or “ole folks” visiting, “They was two great big Black Things a-standin’ by my side…ready to “snatch me through the ceilin’ ‘fore I’d knowed what I’s about!” Mom had read ‘Little Orphant Annie‘, by James Whitcomb Riley plenty enough for me to know I had better behave myself when “ole folks was there”. I can still hear her laughter at the way she had all we little twins mesmerized by the poems she read.

How we laughed when she would read ‘The Raggedy Man‘, also by James Whitcomb Riley:

O The Raggedy Man! He works fer Pa;

An’ he’s the goodest man ever you saw!

He comes to our house every day,

An’ waters the horses, an’ feeds ’em hay;

An’ he opens the shed–an’ we all ist laugh

When he drives out our little, old, wobble-ly calf….

And on goes this delightfully, happy, imaginative poem.

None of us can even look at the moon without hearing the rhymes of ‘The Man in the Moon’, yet another delightful poem of James Whitcomb Riley—

‘Said the Raggedy Man on a hot afternoon, “My! Sakes! What a lot o’mistakes some little folks makes on The Man in the Moon!

But people that’s b’en up to see him, like me, and calls on him frequent and intimutly,

Might drop a few facts that would interest you, Clean! Through!—if you wanted ’em to—….’

Eugene Field is another poet Mom enjoyed reading to we children. To this day I refer to ‘The Duel’, by Eugene Field, as it so aptly describes interactions between people at times…

‘The gingham dog and the calico cat

Side by side on the table sat…’

I have read all these poems and many, many more to our children, and now grandchildren. The sing-song words create fantastic pictures in our heads, whether young or old. Indeed, poetry in meant to be read aloud to get the full joy and magic out of it.

There are many wonderful poetry books to choose from. Take turns having members of your family read aloud. It only takes more practice to get good at it, and it is great fun!

Do you have a favorite poem? Please share!

P.S. I would be remiss if I failed to mention this all-time family favorite. It is for all the twins in the world—‘The Twins’, by Henry S. Leigh:

In form and feature, face and limb,

I grew so like my brother,

That folks got taking me for him,

And each for one another…

This poem is a MUST for every twin. Guaranteed to make you laugh! Enjoy!

“Pop-pop, is this de hole ‘at the Wunks is got?” This line from James Whitcomb Riley’s poem ‘The Raggedy Man’ is what popped in my mind the moment I took this photo.

The Joys of the Senior Dog

“There is something wonderful about a senior dog.” I texted to my twinster recently.

“Like what?” came her reply.

I began typing: “They are comfortable with their lives; they are quietly calm; they are easy to please; they are more relaxed, to name a few.”

“You know,” I continued, “They know where they belong, and if well cared for, they are happy with that. They have the most understanding eyes. A ton of patience. There is also a great understanding between them and us, if cultivated.”

“I agree,” she said, ” Just wanted to see what you would say.”

All those great attributes between a dog and a human takes time and deliberate energy to develop. Once developed, they last a lifetime. A forever friendship, even long past the life of the dog.

Such was the friendship between Dandy and me. He was ‘my pal’. We walked the trail of life together, nearly everyday, for over 10 years. I was asked often while out walking what his breeding was. The standard answer was always the same, “He’s 100% Pure Pound!”

He has been gone now for nearly three months. We got our puppy last Spring, so thankfully, the two were able to spend several months together. I wanted so much for Dandy to teach HoneyPie how life worked out here on our little farm, and what her duties were. He was a great teacher. Their five months together was well-spent before our Dandy lost his battle with an infectious disease no vet could figure out. Through it all our vet did a fine job.

HoneyPie stepped right into his paw prints. She has taken his posts where he faithfully watched over the farm, and sleeps in the places that were his alone. She is a grand replacement to my pal..

There is something wonderful about a senior dog.
They spent five months together.
We were constant companions.
He had look-outs all around the farm.
We walked everyday in spite of the weather.
He taught HoneyPie well.
I sure miss my pal.
I am glad she knew him too.

FMFWriting Prompt—Nourish

What a great word for this Thanksgiving week.

Thanksgiving rather gets lost in the shuffle of the holiday season. Not much money can be made in the sale of it. It is my favorite holiday.

I enjoy preparing my contribution (everyone brings something), and especially I enjoy preparing the table. There is something special about gathering all around a table for a beautifully prepared meal.

On little slips of paper we list those things we are thankful for, as we recognize just how abundantly The Lord nourishes us daily. So while our food nourishes our body, our family gatherings nourish our sense of who we are. While giving thanks to God for it all. For we know everything flows abundantly and graciously from Him.

We thank Thee now our God with hearts and hands and voices.

Five-Minute Friday Writing Prompt: Wander

Not all who wander are lost.

This is a popular line from JRR Tolkien’s famous book series, Lord of the Rings. Specifically, Fellowship of the Ring.

Aragorn wandered all over upon learning of his royal heritage as future king. He was wanting to learn about the land and the people he would one day be ruling over. Thus, he had a specific reason and goal to his wanderings.

It seems that was the point of this well-known line, i.e. to have a goal in life. To know why and what one is wandering for. A good lesson for all of us.

This series is a great adventurous read with much excitement. You will need to read the series to find out how Aragorn does!

Not all who wander are lost.

All in a Days’ Work

I grew up working in the hay fields at home on our 1,300 acre farm at Endless Caverns in New Market, Va. I always loved being out in the hay fields. The fresh cut hay always smelled so good, the rhythmic sound of the machines, and of course, hay can only be made ‘when the sun shines!’

That farm was sold many years ago. Though memories still linger, most especially in springtime here in the valley when hay making is in full swing. In this time of year barns are full of the fresh hay of this past season. A barn full of new hay is a sweet smell indeed. Folks have come into our little barn and remarked about how good it smells! We do not have enough land to make our own. It must be purchased.

Our barn is small, so we have to go often to restock our supply from our man in West Virginia. He has beautiful hay, and has been our supplier for many years. Our horses are in good care with the quality of his hay. I am a hay hog, or so I have been told. I do not feed our big horses grain, but I do feed them lots of good hay. On cold, blustery nights and days, hay is a far better feed for the horses. It keeps them warmer longer than grain. On bitter winter days, I have ‘hayed’ them three times during the day. There is such a thing as horses getting what we call a ‘hay belly’, but I have found that is mostly because of poor quality over quantity.

Most hay is now baled in big rounds. Ours come in square bales. We prefer it that way. It is more work on our part as we must tend to the animals morning and evening. However, there is not as much waste. Horses are picky eaters. Ours lick up their daily supply! I also like to shake it out on the ground for them to check for weeds, and, believe it or not, I have actually found a baled, dead field mouse in one bale. Yikes! It happens occasionally.

Time is nearing for another hay run!

HoneyPie eating sunflower seeds chickens left behind!
Eating time!
Time for a drink.

Five-Minute Friday word—Treasure

There’s Treasure Everywhere.

This is the title to one of the books of my most favorite comics ever—Calvin and Hobbes.

Created by Bill Watterson, Calvin is a creative, mischievous little boy who owns a stuffed tiger, Hobbes. Hobbes comes to life when no one is around, and they have grand adventures together.

Boyhood is captured so remarkably well in these comics. They are filled with joie de vivre, and keep the reader laughing.

Now that is something we all could use more of. Laughter! There truly is treasure everywhere if only we had the eyes and will to see.

This is the comic book cover.

Farewell BR

I was 31 years old when BR was foaled on February 12, 1986. Truly a lifetime ago. He died this Thursday, September 23, 2021. I am now 64 years old. He was 33 years old when he died. A good long life for a miniature horse. A good long life for the both of us.

What does one say about a good old horse? Who would ever understand except those that have had one in their lives? Or any dear animal for that matter for any length of time? Animal owners are a different breed of folks. The type of folks that can not imagine their lives without an animal in it. Forget the dirt, hair, and all the mess involved with animal ownership. We love our animals way too much it seems. And yet “for people like us”, as my dearest friend says, “animals are a beautiful place…God is good.”

So just what do those of us who love our animals say when one dies? I am a photographer, so for me, photos say it all. So here, please enjoy the good life of a grand horse I was blessed to have in my life for many, many years.

Greeting visiting senior citizens from local retirement community.
Entertaining folks (our Corona Virus skit for Riding Recital 2020)
Happily greeting visitors.
Last photo of him.
Farewell BR…my good, good horse.