My momma used to say, “It’s a rainy ‘ole day. Good day to stay in and write. I like rainy ‘ole days once in a while.”
I like them too. Guess I got that from her. But too many straight in a row can get the best of me. So today is a good day to post some cheerful farm photos taken yesterday while cleaning the barn . The only sunny day this week. Needless to say everything is soggy and damp. Physically and mentally. So, hopefully these fun farm photos will help lift your soggy spirits too, should you have any.
Hope you make it a be-a-blessing-to-someone kind of Saturday.
Times have been topsy-turvy here at home, and all around the globe. Normal life has been thrust into a worrisome, and unknown mode with this coronavirus. Schools, colleges, restaurants along with many other businesses and churches are closed in an effort to stop the spread of it.
The times seem very uncertain right now. However, if one would pause a moment to think about it, really everyday is an unknown. We just have this way of thinking everyday is normal. Surely there are issues that are bigger than others and this virus is one of them. It has thrown us in a panic.
So many fine blogs have been written on this current scare. I am sure I could add nothing to any of them. I so appreciate the positive and hopeful outlook of them.
Yesterday I made a phone call to my grandchildren. I “read” a book to them over the phone. My goal was to help, even in a small way, their momma and daddy with occupying the children a bit. It did not last long but was fun! We have also been having great fun sending photos back and forth over gmail. I asked my little 3 year old girlie if she has been enjoying the flowers around her house. She has. I told her how pretty ours were and promised to send some photos.
Little did I know just how comforting this promise to my granddaughter was to me. I walk everyday, but to stop and take photos of the flowers was therapeutic. So I think if there is anything I could add to all the positive blogs of coping with our current issue is to please pause a moment. Look at this beautiful world God has laid out for us. Give thanks, and know that He is in control. This virus has not taken Him by surprise. Call on Him. May the beauty of His world in my simple photos give you a sense of His calm and peace. Glory!
One of my blogging friends had fun with her photos and writing a limerick. She made an invitation to join the fun. So I have! You are welcome to join in the fun as well. Check out her blog. She has lovely photos and fun poetry! https://mountaintopspice.blogspot.com/
A limerick is usually a humorous poem. Five lines. The first, second, and fifth line rhyme, and have seven to ten syllables and the same beat (rhythm). Third and fourth lines rhyme, and each live has five to seven syllables.
There was an old man with a beard
Who said, “It is just as I feared!–
Two owls and a hen,
Four larks and a wren,
Have all built their nests in my beard!” —Edward Lear
This was a fun challenge for me because we grew up listening to our mother read poetry aloud. She was so good at it. One time a person over hearing her reading out loud asked me if she was a professional actress. So here is my humble attempt at a limerick:
There once were two best friends from Nain
Who had two big horses with mane,
On a trail far away,
And returned with much saddlesore pain. —-Mitzy Bricker
… and a couple photos to go with my limerick. Hope you enjoyed it!
But before she was even picked from that poorly taken photo, she had already stolen a place in my heart. I copied the phone number from the tattered piece of paper tacked around other crowded ads vying for attention at our local feed store.
I had no idea how this was all going to be pulled off. I just knew the time had finally come. The ad was for adopting an orphan foal. $350/foal. Health Certificates and Coggins, $62 extra. All the way in Kentucky. We did not own a horse trailer, had no barn, no fencing, no supplies, or feed. We had nothing except an open heart to adopt an orphan foal.
Which begs the question why was I even looking to purchase one? I was forty-eight years old! What kind of energy, and time did I have for raising a foal? Our kids were mostly grown, wasn’t it time to downsize for goodness sake?
Sometimes it does not pay to think too much, and I believe after my first phone call to Casey Creek Horse Rescue & Adoption I quite thinking about those little details. They told us it is best to adopt two foals. We did this, but ended up selling the gelding after ten years. Sometimes horses and folks don’t fit together well. That is a whole different story.
They told us the next round of foals would be ready for adoption one month after foaling. This round of babies were to be born in March 2005. Which meant we could pick them up in April 2005. Photos would be posted on the website of the available orphans. So we waited.
I knew all about her before I ever saw her. I had dreamed of her for many long years. I knew I wanted a filly, a buckskin, and one of moderate size. Didn’t matter if she had papers or not, I did not care. Momma gave me, and my twin sister, our own horse each when we were sixteen years old. A million dollars would not have made us happier. My little bay mare, Dolly, was fast as greased lightning. She had a super disposition. I could trust her with anyone. Yes, I knew what I was looking for.
When those photos were posted, I picked her out immediately. She was foaled March 10, 2005. We had to pick three in case they had been adopted before we got there. It was time to go. Only thing remaining was getting a trailer and driving to Kentucky. We had foals to pick up.
The borrowed bumper-pull horse trailer was filled with two stainless steel bowls for mixing milk replacer powder mix, two little halters & lead lines, a few brushes and $824 in cash. We were on the road. First stop was Mom’s farm in Clifton Forge, VA. She was all ready to join the excitement of a road trip for horses. Her farm hand would keep the place for a night. She sat in front with Bill, keeping track of towns, mileage/times, and fueling stops. Helen and I settled in the back seat of our comfortable GMC Suburban and enjoyed the scenery.
A cool evening greeted us as we made our way to the little hotel for the night. Next morning could hardly come fast enough.
The thick morning mist that had settled in the night was beginning to move out as we made our way to Casey Creek Horse Rescue and Adoption, Inc. The early sunshine seemed as excited with this day as we were. Jeanne was already out at the barn. She had a bunch of foals needing attention.
The farm was quaint. Makeshift stalls were cattle panel and such tied together to hold a newly arrived foal. There were tiny little foals in each small stall. Most were standing quietly in corners with little interest in life. Jeannie said they get depressed being taken from their mommas. I very nearly burst into tears to see all those orphan foals. At that point I wanted all of them!
Mom was busy asking Ken about the operation. Just where do these orphans come from? How are they fed? Is anything known about them at all?
Jeannie was busy throwing a rope over the neck of one of her big goats. Instantly the goat stood stock still while Jeannie milked her out. I was shocked to see that goat stand so still. Jeannie said she was an old milking goat and the rope over her head made her think she was tied! It was funny. The milk was for the foals.
Ken told us these foals were nurse mare foals. Their mommas are rented out to be wet nurses to the big quarter horse and thoroughbred farm mares where their mares may have rejected their babies or to be re-bred in their foal heat. Because these nurse mares had just dropped a foal, they were more willing to take a strange one. This leaves her baby with a most uncertain future. Thus began Ken and Jeannie’s work. Bringing these foals to their farm and adopting them out. Very little is known about these foals. They all came from different farms.
Suddenly, we heard Mom happily shouting. “Take a picture! Take a picture!” There she was, holding a huge old white turkey, pleased as ever with her catch!
The sun shone cheerfully in that barn full of foals, chickens, turkey, goats, dogs, and cats. I found my little foal very quickly. She was quiet, and was standing in the glowing sunshine. Ken put a tiny halter on her and sorta ‘led’ her out of the barn out into the yard. She was so tiny.
I chose her name from a suggestion Mom had made. She said she had a pretty mare years ago at riding school. Her name was High Hope. It was a perfect name for this little orphan. We were both so full of high hopes.
It was time for us to go. Time to start an exciting, new chapter of raising orphan horses. There would be no turning back. All the details would work themselves out. It was time to for this little orphan filly to go home.
High Hope was going home to Virginia.
March 10, 2020, High Hope will turn 15 years old. She has filled every high hope I ever dared to imagine, plus many, many more.
She has been a granny for ten years. She says she has grown pretty used to it by now. In the beginning it took a lot of heavy thinking and re-arranging of herself to grab onto the thought of grannyhood. Gettin’ old was for everyone else. Shirley just knew she would not have that issue. Ha! Sometimes things have a way of sneaking up on a person. Age, for Shirley, was one of those sneaky little things.
Used to be when she talked about her life twenty years ago, she was a young momma with little babies running all over the place. Not so anymore. Twenty years ago she was a middle-aged momma, with a bunch of teenagers on the loose! How did that happen? Don’t ask Shirley. Time seems like a mystery to her. An enigma. Shirley remembers her momma telling her that the 30’s and 40’s were the busiest times of ones life. What she did not realize was that those years would vaporize into a vague misty memory. Her momma never told her that.
Caught in a time warp somewhere along the way. Sorta like flowers coming up in springtime. They seem to be so slow in bursting forth to color the dull winter earth. But are they? Eyes were just taken off the emerging plants. Had there been a more careful watch, the growth may have been noticed. More times than not they actually start growing before one thinks they should. Shirley finds herself gingerly stepping all around the bird feeder as they make their tiny, magical entrance. Then suddenly blooms are dancing in the breeze!
Maybe that is what happened in the middle of lifehood for Shirley. She got so busy and tied up with daily going ons that she missed that whole transition from young momma to grannyhood. Poof! It just seemed to appear!
A real strange thing happened to her the other day. Her husband, Snoot, was looking through old photos. He came upon an old family photo of them. Shirley just looked and looked at that young woman (that was she). After a few moments she quietly remarked, “I knew her once.”
Surprised by her own words, and the feeling of the vapor of time, she was caught again in the mysteriousness of it all. How can something, dear reader, seem so long ago, and yet like only yesterday at the same time?
Not that she would want to go back. Not by any stretch of the imagination. Pushing ahead into a new day has always brought joy and excitement to her. Today is a day that has never been she thinks with anticipation to herself, wonder what’s in store for this fine, new day.
She plans her days to be sure, but there is a question to everyday that no one but God Himself knows. Life happens. Shirley would say that far more than we think is out of our hands. Just try not putting make-up on a day because it is Saturday and it simply does not seem necessary. Or putting on that ugly old shirt that should have been thrown out months ago. Well, there is the ‘invitation’. Nine times out of ten somebody will decide to drop by that very day for an unexpected visit.
There are, of course, very serious events in lives that completely re-arrange one’s whole life in a moment. Those are beyond the scope of this little blog. Shirley’s thoughts are centered around the normal, daily passage of time. Those daily moments that fill a day, consume a year, and turn into decades often without even being noticed. How many full moons do you see, dear reader? How many stars do you gaze at regularly? Do you ever watch anymore the sparks of a fire as they rise up to Heaven? Have you listened to the Mourning Dove’s early morning song? Do you even know it? Are these the things that fill the time warp?
Shirley and Snoot live on a farm. Life is very much the same day in and day out. Routine is important to the well being of livestock. Truth is routine is important to humans too. Shirley says don’t mess with Snoots feeding times unless you want trouble. Routine can become boring though. Shirley has ways of shaking things up. It is funny watching her chase the horses around the fields with an empty trash bag snapping in the breeze to get ’em going. Getting the dogs and cats all excited and watching them run around like mad makes everyone laugh.
One word Shirley really loathes, and has all her life—‘bored.’ She would not allow herself to say it as a young girl, neither were her children, nor will she hear it out of her grandbabies. Life is simply too short to ever be bored.
Intentional. That is Shirley’s word. She has determined in herself that life is magical. Every day, moment, season of life, with nothing to be taken for granted. The following song is a favorite of Shirleys. It says it all so beautifully. “Don’t let me miss the Glory”, by Gordon Mote.
Dandy is my pal. We have been pals for over nine years. He is a good dog. He is the best personal trainer one could ever want. He encourages me to stay on task everyday with our daily romps outside. He is always wanting to go on walks, regardless of the weather. He knows the time of day. How he can tell time of day without reading a clock is a mystery. I suppose, like the horses, he can tell by the sun. So what about all those cloudy days? He is still on time.
He is a fine sized dog too. Standing about knee height, my fingers can reach his happy head for a friendly scratch whenever he likes. He weighs about 35-40 pounds. He is part Border Collie. Thank goodness he is only part. This breed likes to run and run a lot! He is liver colored with four white paws, a white blaze and collar, and a little white “shepherd’s lantern” on the tip of his tail. He was adopted from a pound in southwest Virginia. We are often asked his breeding. Our response, “He is 100% Pure Pound!”
Folks like him. Two fellas just recently told me they wanted him. “No, you don’t,” I told them, “You don’t know what you are asking.”
Suddenly I realized I had just expounded a Biblical truth. For those very words are in Scripture. To be exact they are found in Matthew 20:22. Depending on the translation, mine says, You do not know what you are asking.
This was in response to the question the mother of James and John had asked of Jesus. That is, if her two sons could sit on two thrones next to Him. Matthew 20:22 is Jesus’ response, “You do not know what you are asking.”
The fellows that thought they wanted Dandy did not know what they were asking either. So I told them. This dog gets up every morning at 4:30 am; he is very, VERY verbal; he will tell you when he is ready to have his breakfast and supper (regardless of the time), and he goes in and out of doors a hundred times to day to keep a check up on life out here at the farm. He loves running hard daily, and he chases everything. He is in everyones face because he knows everyone thinks him adorable.
Dandy helped me realize the truth that I may not always know what I am asking for either when in prayer to God for what I think I want. He has helped me take a step back from requests I make of God that have gone unanswered over the years. Perhaps I really do not know all that I am asking for. Maybe God is not as unfair as it seems at times after all. This causes me to wonder more fully about the request I have made. Do I really know all that is involved with my request?
I do know this; in order for me to understand God and His thoughts, I must know Him. The best way to get to know Him is to read His word—The Bible. There are so many wonderful versions available the excuse of not understanding it is not plausible anymore. My favorite place to begin is in Proverbs. There are thirty-one Proverbs. It takes very little time to read one per day. It is guaranteed wisdom will be learned after spending time in these beautiful words. Who among us could not use a little more wisdom in life?
Just think of all the real truth you will learn from your pets and the great, wonderful world around you by learning Gods Word! Amazing!
Picked out of a hat with several names in the running, the name, Duke, won.
Actually, a lot of family issues have been solved this way. That is, by drawing one out of a hat; short stick vs long stick; rolling dice; or toss of a coin. It has helped to avert several family feuds where no meeting of the minds met.
The name fits him well. He is a gentleman of a horse in every way. Standing about 15 hands, he is all black with a beautiful white star, and three white socks. Right now, in this cold winter weather though, he looks more like a big fuzzy fuzzball.
June 2020 will mark the fourth year he has been here. It had been a long time since a new horse was brought to the property. A couple bad mistakes were made. The biggest one was not keeping him isolated from the herd for 1-2 weeks. He should have not been allowed to touch noses with the other horses until that time period was over. Many ailments are transmitted through noses, and an upper respiratory illness hit full blast within a week of his arrival.
That was poor management. The high veterinarian bill proved just how poor a move it was. Every other horse in the barn was sick, except Duke, of course. He was the carrier! Two long weeks of coughing was heard from the barn day and night. Wellness and good health came back to all with much relief.
He was put in with the herd a little too quickly as well. He became ‘high horse’ immediately. Because he is a well-tempered horse, that did not cause too much upset. In some herds it can be a huge issue with some horses getting very beat up. Thankfully it was not a problem.
He integrated quickly with students, family and friends. They like his gentle personality, and he is pretty!
He does not like folks mad at him and will leave the barn if able. Part of that is because of his good disposition. It also seems to be the nature of his breed. He is a Tennessee Walking Horse. They are very mild tempered horses.
He came to us late in his life so little is know of how he was trained, raised and handled. Though he responds very well to everyone who rides him. He is easy to work on the ground. He can get a bit jacked-up if his rider gets a little too forceful. Though this is true of most horses. A rider can make them or break them.
Come on out and meet him, along with all the horses. If it is a pretty day, you may get a pony ride on him!
Winds are blowing winter back. Their howling around the house are foretelling it’s coming. So are the fluffy clouds briskly floating by, while swaying trees seem to be waving good-bye to the extra-mild weather we have been having here in the Valley.
For the most part of last week, doors and windows have been open to let the mid-60^ temperatures fill the house. Since early this morning though, a tiny crack in the front door would allow the gusty wind to rudely force the door open and gain entry.
Spreading mulch over the flower beds will be a futile job these next few days. Which means some moments to head outside with the camera. This is one reason this PFO (Primary Farm Operator) likes winter so well. It is time to look at the tiny side of life through the zoom lens of the camera. Winter is especially nice because it is still, and mostly quiet in every way. All of life and nature is taking a bit of rest.
It’s a great excuse to look ‘scruffy’ and not get in trouble for it. Gardens are covered with chopped leaves and dead plant debris. Fields and yards are a dull brown. The animals are furry and way dusty with dried patches of mud all over their bodies. No sleek, shiny coats in the wintertime.
Snow drapes a beautiful blanket over it all. Ice brings crystals. Every season has its’ own beauties to be sure. But somehow the mystery of winter calls this PFO outside all the more. Perhaps because it is fun to be “all wrapped up” out in the cold elements working to stay warm. Whatever the reason, outside it is with the camera tucked warmly under the arm wrapped in a heavy coat. It is the tiny things that grab attention. Please enjoy the following ‘tiny winter’ photos. Add your own in the comments if you like. They would be a pleasure to look at.
She is the only girl, and the last child of Snoot and Shirley’s. Clyde, Ot, Bubba and Tanner were thrilled when they had their sisters’ dolls they could shoot, hang and give a general hard time to. It was quite an effort civilizing those boys. After all these years Shirley would say she and Tina did a right fine job of it. .
It would get Shirley all riled up though to hear folks telling her how she just had to keep on a tryin’ for a baby girl till she got one. Oh that would get to her. She’d tell them to mind their own business then they wouldn’t be minding hers. Did they have any idea the economic cost of having a girl after all those boys? There was not one pink thing in that household. In fact, what Shirley really wanted to tell them cannot be printed here, dear reader.
It isn’t like she had anything against girls. It truly was a matter of economics. Snoot made a fine income, still money was tight and had to be carefully managed. How was this little girl to look like all those adorable little girls Shirley knew? All she had was a batch of dirty, worn out boy cloths and toys. She used to say that when those boys were done with something it was only fit for the dump, certainly not for give-away or passing down.
Then Shirley’s own momma came to mind. Her momma never did have a ton of cloths in her closet. What she did have though was real pretty, and classic in style. She would tell Shirley that one nice, pretty dress went a lot longer and farther than a bunch of cheap ones. That must’ve been so, ‘cuz Shirley’s momma always looked pretty and very stylish.
After all that thinking Shirley realized the importance of liking oneself better than what is hanging in the closet. Most especially for girls. It seems girls have a harder time with this than boys. Anyways, boys have their own set of worries. Girls are the topic today. Shirley’s momma had a real good opinion of herself. That kind of opinion that helps one along throughout their life. Does that make sense, dear reader? Her momma was confident in herself and her abilities. She was what country people call ‘gamey’. This means she was always wanting to try new things, and was not scared one bit of failing. She just knew she would not fail. In her young days it was not fitting for girls to play baseball, wear jeans, get all suntanned from hours outside, play with dogs, or ride horses like a wild little Indian. It seemed she knew her worth was who she was, not what she wore. Do you think it might do girls a lot of good to start looking at their own selves in a similar sort of light?
All that thinking lead Shirley to the idea that she would teach Tina the same notions about herself that her momma had. She stopped fretting about how her baby girl was going to look and hauled her outside instead of the clothing stores. They spent time walking in the woods, through the tall grasses in fields, and got wet looking for fish in lakes and ponds. They visited farms where, surrounded by sheep, lambs, cattle and calves, Tina learned not to be afraid. She learned how to “read” the animals, and how to handle herself safely around them. She has always been around horses, longer than she can remember.
Four older brothers have a big way of helping teach a little sister also. They took her everywhere with them. They taught her how to fish, shoot guns, ride a motorcycle , work on cars, and how to gut a deer. About the only thing Shirley had to intervene in on was caring for her dolls. Those rotten boys would carry them by their feet! Golly, is there any hope for civilizing boys? This is how you carry your baby dolls, Tina, real sweet andgentle like, Shirley would show her. Do you have any idea, dear reader, how hard it is to teach a little girl proper ways with four older brothers?
Those brothers were such good teachers. They made her strong, brave, and ‘gamey’. Shirley used to tell folks, “Having one man is going to be easy for Tina when she grows up and marries. Shoot, she has managed four of them all her life!” It makes her laugh too when she remembers how those sons just knew how awfully spoiled Tina would get being the only girl. They gave her her first cell phone, and her first pink shotgun!
As for all those cloths Shirley worried herself over, it came to naught. Time and tide came and went. Tina grew up in spite of not having loads of pink frillies in her closet. She grew up well too. She can do all those things her brothers taught her, and more. She is an accomplished pianist, and vocalist. She knows and loves The Lord. She is a fine young woman.
Shirley did do just as her momma too. Every season of the year she went to a nice dress shop in town and purchase one real pretty dress for Tina. It cost more in the beginning, but paid out big in the end. The styles were classic, the colors rich. She may not have a lot, but what she has is good.
It seems Shirley did alright following her mommas’ advice. For one, she had less laundry. Best though was, she had more time. Time to spend with her boys and her one wonderful little girl. That alone makes Shirley…
“While visions of sugarplums danced in their heads.” So reads a happy line from the famous poem by Clement Clarke Moore, The Night BeforeChristmas. Written in 1822 for his children. Published anonymously in 1823 in the Troy Sentinel. It was thought to have been given to the paper by a family friend.
It has been illustrated many times over the years. During the 1860’s it received its’ best known illustrations. Done by Thomas Nast for the Harpers Weekly. Nast, a political cartoonist best known for his Republican elephant and Democratic donkey, dressed Santa in the recognizable red fur trimmed in white and black belt today.
Diospyros virginiana is our sugar plum here in Virginia and thankfully is on our farm. Best known as the Persimmon tree. It is also called American persimmon, possum apples, or sugar plum to name a few. Wildlife enjoy them every fall, and so do our horses. So do we! We have had them on every farm here in the Appalachian Highlands.
Old timers used to tell us they were not good for eating until after the first hard frost. And if one wants a good laugh at the expense of another, give them an unripe persimmon to eat. They are so bitter, and makes one pucker! Truth is after a spell of good cool nights and days, they can be eaten. Just be sure to know the difference between the ripe and unripe. The ripe is soft to touch, and has a pretty deeper color then unripe one. In above photo, the ripe fruit is in the center of the frame. Do you see the difference in colors? They grow deeper in that pretty orange-like color as they ripen even more. In the photo below the beginning-to-ripe persimmon displays both yellow and reddish colors. And like most ripe fruit, they are plucked easily from their branches.
Many folks do not know they even have these sweet trees on their property. The native ones do not get very large. It is rather like a treasure hunt finding them. In springtime they have the most lovely little white blossoms. The petals curl back on the flower. But for sure your horses know where they are. They will quickly clean up the fallen ones as will all the wildlife. They are a sweet treat.
Ours grow on the western boundary line of our farm behind the barn. This area is not fenced so none of our animals can get to the trees, though the wildlife can. I pick them up and give them as treats to the horses in the evening. So far I have not found any in the woods.
If the horses could get to them they would eat up every single one. Much of the fruit clings to the trees. A steady wind will bring them down though.
On your next walk about outside, look and see if you can find this sweet treat tree. You will have found a friend!
“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sailaway from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” ~ Mark Twain