Children & Farm Animals

Two of my favorite subjects. That they go so well together is a big plus for this primary farm operator who runs around the farm with a camera in her hand.

Children make animals better. Provided they are taught properly how to behave around them. The very first step is respect. Some children are afraid of animals. This is a good step towards respect of the animal. I have found that children who have no fear of animals are a bit harder to manage. Mostly because they want to get “in their face” too quickly. This can make an animal very nervous . Animals of prey, such as dogs, and cats may strike at them in defense of this nervousness. Preyed animals, i.e., horses, chickens, pet birds, will run or fly away in fear to get away. However, always keep in mind that any animal will strike out if cornered. Never corner an animal unless you are looking for a fight.

It is always smart to move slowly and quietly when meeting farm animals for the first time. Extending a hand so they can smell it is a nice way to say hello. Look them in their eye and smile. Give them a soft pet on their nose or ear. Talk happily and kindly to them. They will respond positively to all these actions. Should they look nervous, take a step back and get out of their space. Let them check you out! Sit quietly, and they will most likely come to you. Yes, a budding friendship has begun!

Here on our farm, children are encouraged to interact with the animals.

Animals make children better. There are any number of positive qualities animals give to children. The first is responsibility. A child must be responsible for the way they manage themselves around the animal. If we want animals that are nice to be around, we must first be nice and good to them. We are their stewards, not visa versa. Teach your child to “read” the animal, for this is how they “talk” to us. This is learned by simply watching the animal.

Stand quietly, extend your hand and let them
smell it. Such a nice greeting!
Let them take small steps when getting comfortable around larger farm animals. Give everyone space.

Children know their own comfort levels around animals. Go at their pace. You, the animal, and your child will be happier and more confident. This is our goal out here on the farm. We want the children to know how to handle themselves and the animals. So much of this learning is carried into their adulthood as they work to manage gracefully their own lives.

The fence provides the protection for this little fella to say hello to Duke. They both look happy to greet one another.
My twin and I learning early how to be quiet and polite with a foal.
Spending time with animals is always time well spent and lessons well learned.

You are invited to come out to the farm and meet our animals. You may end up wanting one for yourself and your family!

Animals are good for the young-at-heart too!

Enjoy your children and animals! They are gifts!

Who blesses Whom?

This past Wednesday morning made a gentle, lovely entry here on the farm. Good. We needed it for the folks coming to visit. It showed all the signs of a day made to order.

These delightful visitors had special needs. “Make sure you put the canopy up for them. It is going to be hot!” our daughter called out before leaving for work. ‘Be sure the chairs are on level ground, with room for the van to get around easily”, was her last detailed order before closing the car door and departing.

A week in the making, everything was in it’s proper place. Except…the canopy! It must be set up! Our visitors must be in shade. A big sigh of relief was heard with that last detail was completed.

“We are loading up! We will be there shortly! The text came across my phone, and immediately put my two helpers and myself into high gear. “Tack the horses, Sarah! Sam, I’ve already brushed them, get your riding boots on. I want you two riding out in the yard when the van pulls up!”

Smile, and enjoy yourselves! It’s our Show Off Day!

I was so grateful for my two riding students, and their mom’s willingness to bring them out to help. I could not have done it without them.

“Today is our Show Off Day! Smile, look lively, and most of all enjoy yourselves!”, were my last minute instructions once they mounted up.

Our students were a huge help!
I could not have done these visits without these two terrific students. Love, love those smiles!

The van quickly arrived with our delightful guests. Off they came in their wheelchairs and walkers. These lovely guests were from Shenandoah Valley-Westminster Canterbury. Our daughter, Helen, is their Activities Coordinator. This past week was National Assisted Living Week, and Helen planned two visits here with the residents.

The van quickly arrived. Whoopie, our official greeter, was the first to say hello!
Our guests were a joy to have.

One group came in the morning. The second group arrived early afternoon. Time between the two visits was filled with pizza and an ice cream trip to Pack’s just down the road.

Animals have a sense of their surroundings and people that I do not fully understand, but can clearly see. They are quite, gentle and patient with these senior citizens. They move slowly around them and stand quietly for a scratch. I hope you enjoy these special photos:

Everyone got a big chuckle watching the chickens following me! #chickensmakeuschuckle

Who blesses whom? I think that is easy to see. What do you think?

Our Perfect Hostess

We had the pleasure of entertaining special visitors here on the farm this week. Our daughter, Helen, works as an Activities Coordinator at Shenandoah Valley Westminster Canterbury Retirement Community. A premier retirement community here in Winchester. I will be posting a blog with delightful photographs soon. This little blog, however, is about our perfect hostess, Whoopsie.

Whoopsie is the perfect hostess by unanimous vote. This little blog is a photo story illustrating her keen hostess abilities. We are sure you will agree!

Whoopsie takes her greeting/hostess job very seriously.
She must be sure she sees every single guest!

Just look at that happy little greeter giving our guests a hearty “Hello! Welcome to the farm!”
Ahhhh, our perfect hostess is being unceremoniously excused from her job! For shame, Helen! (Actually, she had to move to make way for the wheelchairs.)

The Lazy Man

I may be lots, I told myself, but one thing I am not and that is lazy.

Is that so? The next thought begged the question.

My thoughts immediately turned on their defensive mode. I grew up in the tourist industry on a big farm. We twinsters started earning paychecks long before our hours could be legally reported. No, no, I am not a lazy man!

Yet, there they sat, all ready to go. My photographs. Carefully place in frames that added to their visual appeal all ready to be entered into the county fair. Why bother with this fair in this other county? You have already won ribbons from your own county fair. You do not want to take the time to drive all the way over there. Think of all the work you could get done here in the time wasted doing all that mess! My thoughts nagged me.

Does anyone else have thoughts like these? These: don’t do it; it’s a waste of time; it’s not worth it, kind of thoughts? What a battle! I was exhausted! When suddenly floated in the encouraging words from my daughter:

“Yeah! Go for it, Mom!”

“You will have fun!

“Your pictures will win, they are great!”

The urge to not let my main cheerleader down pushed me to grab up the photographs and head to the fairgrounds.

It was in this struggle that the truth of Proverbs 13:4 hit me head-on:

“The soul of a lazy man desires, and has nothing; but the soul of the diligent shall be made rich.”

Just how diligent am I being toward gaining my personal goals? What are my personal goals? It has struck me that I am a worker. I know how to work. But this Proverb did not speak of work. It spoke to me of desires. These are two different notions.

I do work hard. It is hard work to keep our animals healthy and well cared for. It is hard work maintaining the gardens and farm. However, I desire to become a better amateur photographer, a better blogger, a better horsewoman, a better Christian.

I realize I must be diligent in working toward my desires. After all, they will not improve just because I want them to. I must not be lazy in working to improve them. These desires add a great richness to my life. A cheerleader is another important piece to this puzzle. I did not want to disappoint her hope in me. Everyone needs a cheerleader in life.

As for the entries in the fairs? I won eight ribbons between the two fairs. It was a fun surprise to see which ones won. Call me sappy if you like, but when I saw that blue ribbon hanging from the photo of our steer, it put a lump in my throat!

I am rich indeed.

Ribbons won from both the Frederick County and Clarke County Fairs.
The blue ribbon on this photo of our steer put a lump in my throat. Yes, I am sappy.

Trouble the photos—Grrrr…..

Computers are like cars. They are great when they are running as they should. But when they do not! Grrrrrrr…….so blasted aggravating! What have I done with the photos?

Since my last post, ‘something’ has happened to my photo gallery. I am unable to post photos. I know they are in here somewhere. I just do not know how to ‘find’ them and put them back where they belong so they can be added to my posts. Man! This is so frustrating!

I need help, and am hoping my computer savvy son will be able to set it aright. Will be back ASAP! 🙂

Largest in the World

We came upon it by chance while visiting the gift shop in Plymouth, Massachusetts during our twinster vacation this spring. We noticed a postcard of it, realized it was nearby and decided to pay it a visit. Wow! Amazing! Astonishing! How did we not know about this magnificent monument?

It is the National Monument to the Forefathers, in Plymouth, Mass.

This is the description of it on the postcard we purchased: “Erected in 1889, this 81-foot memorial is dedicated to the four virtues that brought the Pilgrims to the New World: Morality, Law, Education and Liberty. It is the largest freestanding granite statue in the world.”

It is absolutely magnificent. Have you visited it and spent time with it? It is a must see while visiting Plymouth, Mass.

The base reliefs all around the monument tell the story of the Pilgrims.
The detail is stunning.

It is a magnificent, beautiful monument.
Standing 81′ tall this National Monument to the Forefathers dwarfs my twinsters.
It is this u-tube with Kirk Cameron where I learned about this beautiful monument.

I’m Glad I’m not Married to YOU!

The salesman meant every word of that when he said it to me so many years ago. I had hauled the digging iron up to the counter at our local hardware store, happily paid for it, and proudly announced I was, “Getting it for my husband for Father’s Day!”

That salesmans’ mouth dropped open and his eyes about burst from their sockets. “I’m glad I’m not married to YOU!” he promptly proclaimed.

Golly, I thought to myself, at least it is not a hand-held post hole digger! I thought digging irons were cool. Guess not.

Isn’t this a cool digging iron? I thought so.
See how nicely it has aged?

I thought it was a great tool and idea. It would keep my main squeeze in GREAT shape! No need to waste money on gyms.

And last week my husband brought something home to me. It made me think of that funny incident way back when at the hardware store in town. And this is what he brought me:

A brand new gas-powered weed-eater!
Now we can weed-eat together. Ain’t that cozy? 🙂

Hey now! Is he trying to tell me I’m looking FAT!! Uh-oh…..

In Focus? #3 – Negative Space

Negative space is an element I enjoy incorporating in my photographs. I have discovered some folks enjoy negative space, while others do not. They want the area filled in with something. Anything! Just do not leave all that empty space. Sort of like putting one beautiful slice of a garden tomato on a huge dinner plate. Fill that plate up for goodness sake!

I can understand this philosophy. Being wasteful is not a bragging point. However, I appreciate the way the negative space emphasizes the beauty of the one or two objects in the photo. Or for that matter also in a flower arrangement, and even sculptures. It leaves a space for the viewers imagination to fill in with their own experiences and ideas.

So take a stroll through this gallery. Fill in your own stories, and share your thoughts. Have fun!

Use a Nightlight—Please!

Today is an official “feel sorry for myself” kind of day. I shall be brief. However, I do implore you to take the small, important pieces of advice I offer this pretty summer morning here in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia.

I have had three mishaps in the past three weeks. July 7th, I slipped in a hotel tub while getting out. Took a stiff hit to my head and backside. Know the worst of it all? I even looked at that rubber bath mat that I should have put down before getting in. Use it!

Last week my sweet bike decided to buck me off right onto the pavement. Good grief, and they say a horse has a mind of its’ own! Yeah? Well, so does a bike.

However, the mishap this early morning at 2 a.m. was the straw that broke the camels’ back. I tripped hard over our dog at that dark hour. I never have seen her sleeping in that spot. The right side of my face slammed firmly with the edge of the door jam, and I landed with a hard thump on the tile flooring. This one really hurt.

With a grateful heart and needed help, my husband and daughter took excellent care of me. I do not look too bad this morning, though the both of them are calling me Scarface! A merry heart does good like medicine. Hey! They are trying to make me feel better. It worked.

So the painful lesson learned? Use a nightlight! Here is a photo of one I purchased long ago while visiting my twinster in Colorado. It has a new home here in our bedroom area. Now we will be able to see where the dogs and cats are peacefully sleeping. Or at least trying to sans the crazy humans that have to get up in wee hours of the morning.

Sweet dreams.

This fun nightlight will surely help avert those painful trip-ups over our pets that are sleeping in their ‘never do sleep here’ spots.

Beef comes from Where??

What a silly question you may be thinking. However, it may not be so silly after all. Years ago, while at a homeschooling convention in Richmond, VA, my friend and I noticed an excited bunch of folks gathering outside the mall in the courtyard. We asked the food service fella what it was all about. He said there was a milk cow out there for folks to see! Really? All that excitement over a milk cow? How odd we thought. Everyone knows what a milk cow looks like, right? Actually, no.

A lot of years have gone by since that day. It seems a milk cow is not the only thing folks think comes from Costco, the local grocery store, or farmer’s markets. So here is another insight into our lack of food source knowledge:

Beef does not come from food markets either. Neither does chicken, pork, lamb, duck, or fish. Or anything for that matter.

This seems like a no-brainer to the majority of us. But please do not ask a youngster if chocolate milk comes from a cow!

This is not to say we all should have our own milk cows or grow our own beef. However, we would do well to remember that all these grocery store items and meats are grown with care (mostly) by many farmers. However, growing a few vegetables regardless of home location is rewarding, not to mention delicious.

All this comes to my mind today because our Herefords went to the slaughter house two days to be processed. It is one of the hardest times on the farm for me. Death is hard but it is a part of life.

Why not visit your local farms? Many farms are open to visitors. It is fascinating to experience a working dairy, or cattle farm. Have your child help gather eggs with the local egg lady. A summer spent working on one of the farms would have a lasting impression on anyone. Donning a pair of muck boots and getting down and dirty on the farm gives everyone an appreciation for the farmer that works to bring us all this good food.

Our children need to know where our food comes from. It helps us understand the hardships of growing food and feeding this big country of ours. Perhaps, just perhaps, we would cease being so wasteful and careless with our sustenance.

You are welcome to stop by our little farm and meet these critters that live here. Hold a chicken, pick a bean from the garden, toss some hay out to the animals, take a tractor ride, sit on some sweet smelling hay. You and your kids will be glad you did!

This is where beef comes from.