No Guts, No Glory

Note This blog was written on Saturday, May 12, 2018.  In my haste to get it out, I failed to press the ‘Publish’ button.  I was out of town and was not able to get it out.  So, I send it now with belated Happy Mother’s Day wishes.  Though late, the wishes are still heartfelt for mother’s everywhere.

 

Motherhood.  Not the popular, most celebrated occupation; pay is not great; hours are long, and many times lonely;  no gossip magazines producing glamorous photos of it; or waiting in line to interview those working diligently in this occupation.  Yes,  it seems to be a rather unpopular profession.  It takes guts to be a mother.

 

Yet for those that want to embrace it to the fullest, it is an occupation of joy, riches, and times never to be had again.  Life is ephemeral.  Childhood is too.  It is an exciting way to go into a time one will never see.  That is through our children.  So as you celebrate being a mommy or grandmother today, enjoy!  Give this not-so-popular profession a thank you for all it has offered to you through your momma and to all it offers to your children because of you!

 

Happy Mother’s Day!  Here are flowers from our farm sent specially for YOU!  Happy Mother’s Day!!

 

 

 

You are a What? A PFO? What is That?

PFO, Primary Farm Operator. That is what I am, and is what I do. This title was given to me by my twin sister several years ago. Actually, she is a PFO as well. Are you?

We are the main care personal or Primary Farm Operator on our farms, or ranches as my twinster, who lives in Colorado says. It is a growing movement in the rural parts of our country. Where woman are the mainstay, while husbands have full-time, away-from-the-farm jobs.  Indeed, we have a small farm because our husbands do work an outside job.

Making ‘livable’ money from farming alone is pretty much non-existent. Most especially for small farms. Father Harry (aka my husband, Bill) has worked away from home for all our married years.  This PFO has considered the home and farm her business. It is true we have had our little farm for only thirteen years, and we have been married nearly forty years!  Those years before our farm, I considered myself the PHO, or Primary Home Operator.

I have always looked at our home as my ‘business’.  The way I saw and still do is;  no one–NO ONE has the interest in the prosperity and success of this business as I do.  The work has been lonely and long, as Father Harry travels far, wide, and often.  It has been a choice, an agreed upon choice by the two of us, and it has worked well.

Thirty years ago, the house was full of five active children and pets.  Now it is full both inside and outside of pets and animals.  Some would say the animals are better than the children.  Some would say children are better because “they grow up and go to college!”

I say they are similar in many ways.  For instance:  to leave the farm for any amount of time requires finding farm hands to do the work;  having healthy kids or animals is the product of attentive care and attention;  the work is never-ending;  the rewards are far greater than the back-breaking labor;  they all are more fun than television; they keep me young-at-heart;  they all make me smile.

Different tools and skills are required, of course, between home and farm.  There are excellent books on small-scale farming.  A good place to find them is Tractor Supply stores.  Tractor Supply also has great tools you will need.

Enjoy our blogs on something every PFO needs: A Tool Purse.  A Chain Saw.  A Tractor.  Click on links to read blog posts on these important farm tools.

Happy farming gals!

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Read about tools you will be sure to need in our link below:  The Tool Purse

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This tool is necessary.  A small one is very manageable for a PFO.

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Every PFO needs to be able to operate one of these wonderful tools!

Continue reading

Easter Tradition reminder from fellow Blogger

Easter supper was celebrated this past Saturday here at the farm.  It was a better day for all family members to get together before starting a new week,  however it knocked this PFO off her groove.

Though it was a thought in the mind of some of the grown children not a word was mentioned.  Nancy’s post on her blog, Two Trails One Road, was a reminder that something important had been forgotten.

 

Posted Easter day, April 1, 2018, her blog jogged the foggy memory of this farm gal.  That was only after reading it today, April 4, 2018.  Just the same, Easter morning found no freshly made Danish Pastry waiting for the hungry crowd.  Truth is, it was totally forgotten.  Never even thought of.  Sometimes cliches hit the nail right on the head—  making the pastry fell right threw the cracks of this farmers’ plans.

 

No sooner had Nancy’s post been happily read did it hit home.  In a hurried rush were things flying about the kitchen to make the “We have had it every year for forever,” tradition danish.  What a blessing the recipe is straightforward and turns out very well every time.

 

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The recipe is straightforward and turns out very well.

The almond flavoring gives this pastry a surprisingly nice and different flavor.  Toasted almonds are used also for they have a nice full flavor, and look very pretty as the topping on this family Easter Tradition Danish Pastry.

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He is Risen!  He is Risen, indeed!

Now life can move onto the next exciting moment.  Thank you, Nancy, for your reminder.

 

Know the farmer.  Know the farm.

Homemade is best.

 

Nancy’s blog site:     twotrailsoneroad.com

You eat Meat? Why?

There is much in vogue these days.  One arena that certainly is not, however, is Biblical knowledge.  It is a well documented fact that we current Americans are the most Biblically illiterate generations ever in our history.

Whether one believes the Bible is the inspired Word of God or not is a mute point.  It is still the best selling book in the world.  More civilizations have been influenced by it than any other writing.  Spend some time reading it, and try to deny it does not see into the ‘heart’ of man better than anything else written—ever.  Want a starter?  Here are a few quotes from the book of Proverbs:

  • The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge.  Prov. 1:7
  • For the Lord gives wisdom.  Prov. 2:6
  • From His mouth come knowledge and understanding.  Prov. 2:6
  • Happy is the man who finds wisdom.  Prov. 3:13
  • The Lord by wisdom founded the earth.  Prov. 3:19
  • Put perverse lips far from you.  Prov. 4:24
  • Ponder the path of your feet.  Prov. 4:26
  • He who  walks with integrity walks securely. Prov. 10:9
  • The hypocrite with his mouth destroys his neighbor.  Prov. 11:9
  • …he who hates correction is stupid. Prov. 12:1
  • The righteous man regards the life of his animal.  But the tender mercies of the wicked are cruel.  Prov. 12:10

 

These keen human insights go straight to the heart of man, like it or not, and they were gleaned from just the first twelve Proverbs!  A man, or woman, cannot hide themselves when reading from this book.  The words shine straight through us as if we were a little piece of glass from front to back.  It is sobering, and beautiful.

So what does all this have to do with eating meat?  Just this, it is our own sin that caused the killing and eating of animals.  Our ‘original sin.’  That is, the very first sin committed in the Garden of Eden by Adam and Eve.  When they disobeyed God and ate “of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil”, God said,”…for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”

Adam and Eve were forced to leave the Garden.  It was because of God’s love for us they had to leave.  They were not to be trusted again, and God did not want mankind to be eternally dead by eating from the Tree of Life.  This would have kept mankind forever in our sin.  So, because of love, He sent us away.  Yet, He clothed us before we left (another act of His great love for us).  How did He clothe us?  “…the Lord God made tunics of skin, and clothed them.”

That was the first shedding of blood—for our sake, for our benefit.  Blood represents life.  Animals were killed for our sake;   Jesus Christ died for our sake.  This is all accepted by faith for those that believe.  The same faith that is exercised every time we drive a car, sit on a chair, eat at a restaurant, put money in the bank, get married…and on, and on.   We do all these things out of faith.  Think about it.

Ever since that fateful day meat has been a regular diet of mankind, and their skins were our clothing.

Here at the farm,  steers are raised for beef.  These animals are very well kept. This takes much time, effort and money.  They have a good life.  All except for one day.  It is very hard on us when that day arrives.  The quiet of the woods offer sweet consolation to a sad heart when the cattle are hauled off.  It is the hardest part of this work.  Reread the last quote in the above list again, for it is our guiding light.

Here is a thought to those who question why we eat meat.  Who would be willing to keep the loads of animals that sustain us just to feed and clean up after them all the twenty to thirty years they live?

This is why this farming family says grace every night.  We are very well aware of the sacrifice the steers have to make for our good.  And we are especially thankful for the sacrifice our Lord Jesus made for us on the Cross.

Happy Blessed Easter.

 

Know the farmer.  Know the farm.

Homemade is best!

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The righteous man regards the life of his animal.  Proverbs 12:10

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The animals are well-cared for.  This takes time, effort and money.

 

 

 

 

 

You are not a Cow-Poke! What do you know about raising Beef?

It was apparent there was some reason family members were not purchasing the good beef that has been raised here on the farm.  A Bible verse came to mind that helped explain it, “A prophet is not without honor except in his own town, among his relatives and in his own home.”  Mark 6:4.

 

That explained it.  Really, it was a good question though.  Growing up on a cow/calf operation on a farm as a youth did not teach much about growing good beef cows.  Or did it?  The training of our minds has been such that if one does not have a degree in a subject, or years of work in it, how could anything be known on any subject?  Years ago that learning was called the ‘school of hard knocks’.  Learn by doing, by asking good questions, and reading good material.  Learning from those who have walked the long path we newbies have just started on.  Learning from trial and error.

 

Reading, asking questions, visiting other farmers, going to feed stores and touring a processing plant  was begun months before the steers arrived.  We toured Joel Salatin’s farm, Polyface Farm,  in Swoope, Virginia.  Purchased several of his books:  Folks, this ain’t normal ,  Salad Bar Beef; and The Marvelous Pigness of Pigs  to name a few.  We toured T & E Meats in Harrisonburg, VA.  We visited farms and spoke with beef farmers.  We spoke with feed store owners about types of feed and how much to give.  Finally, we purchased quality miniature beef from a reputable farm and breeder, Bryan Hill Farm in Broadway, VA.  That maiden year then became trial and error as the first steers were unloaded onto our green pastures.

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The steers were quality miniature Herefords purchased from a reputable breeder.

There were buyers for all the beef, and it was exciting hearing the feed back come in.  We knew it was good, and now so did our customers!  We are now finishing our second round of hand-raised beef.  These, we feel, will finish out as nicely as the first ones.  It is satisfying work.

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These steers are finishing out very nicely.

 

So it was exciting when the inquiry came from a family member for a roast.  The freezer is cooling a lot of empty space right now because thirteen months have passed since those first beef cows were processed.  Yet, there was a nice-looking bone-in roast remaining, weighing around three pounds.

 

With bated breath we awaited the remarks from this tough family customer.  A text came through with this photo and remarks:

 

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The flavor not only was good.  It was the meat, it was tender, creamy, almost buttery.

We consider this compliment better than one that could be given from the Queen of England herself!  (No offense to the Queen, please.)

Some of our previous blog posts you are sure to enjoy about the cows:  “Meet the Farmer & the Farm”, Aug 14, 2016;  “The Steers are Gone”, Jan 4, 2017;  “Feedback has Come”, Mar 5, 2017.

We all have begun as a newbie at some point or another.  Keep on keeping on, do the due diligence, follow your gut and heart, and love what you do!  Happy farming to you!

 

 

 

Know the farm, know the farmer.

Homemade is best.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Are Horses Safe?

This good question is worthy of thought.  Horses are beautiful, graceful, and powerful…but are they safe?  Blue Rock Horses and Farms’ motto is:  Safety First, Beauty Second.  This is taught to students here at the farm because:

A horse can kill intentionally.  A horse can kill unintentionally. 

It is hard to think in those terms, after all, they are so pretty!  So are Polar Bears…

“Put your horse brain on,” is probably heard from this instructor second only to, “Keep your heels down!”  For good reason.  Horses do not think like humans.  To be safe and stay safe around them, humans must learn the horse.  Reading good horse books is a wonderful way to learn, however,  observation is the best way to know horses.  Watching them interact with one another is an education in itself.    There is an obvious hierarchy and language among them that can be learned by careful observation.  They ‘speak’ to each other in many different ways, and indeed ‘speak’ to we humans as well.  So, pay close attention.  And remember, it takes time to learn another “language!”

 

Horses are not like dogs.  This must never be forgotten!  Dogs are prey animals, horses are preyed animals.   This is a huge and many, many times overlooked difference, and is a large factor in safety around horses.  Startle a dog,  it will jump, and we laugh.  Startle a horse, and we may be spitting out our own broken teeth!  Is this the fault of the horse?  Absolutely not!  Always make your presence known around the horse.

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Always make your presence known around the horse.

When frightened, horses run away.  That is their first natural defense.  Often before fleeing they will look at what is causing the fear, then take flight.  For this reason, horses need to be tied loosely so they may keep an eye out for danger (or the boogie-man, as this instructor calls it!).   After-all, who wouldn’t keep an eye-out if you were someones potential lunch?

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Tie and lead horses so they are able to look around and keep an eye on their surroundings.

Horses are as accurate in striking with their forelegs and with their hind ones.  The safest position is either right up next to them or way out of striking distance.  They have excellent aim!

 

So, are horses safe?  Yes!  Though a safe, knowledgable horseman is the best way to insure a safe horse.

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Though sign was found on an old manufacturing plant, it rings true for horseman (or woman as well!).

These are minimum basics of safety around horses.  Hope it helps!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Good Old Senior who turned 30 Today

He was a keeper.  That was easy to see from the first.  He was the right color, good temperament, but best of all he showed signs of being the perfect height and build.  Yes, indeed, he was a keeper.

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He was put together very well.

Foaled February 12, 1988 at Mom’s  Tag-Along Farm located, at that time, in Gaithersburg, MD.  She had big plans from the start for him.  She, and my step-father, Carl, bred, raised and showed Miniature horses for 20 years.  It was their retirement ‘fun’.  And fun they had.  His registered name is Tag-Alongs Boomerang,  which was quickly shortened to BR.  It has held ever-since.

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Mom and BR had many fun outings at miniature horse shows.

He was just a baby when Tag-Along Farm moved to Clifton Forge, Va.  Days were full for this miniature horse who was sure he stood 16 hands tall!  He was one of  two breeding stallions for the 26 head of broodmares on the farm.  He was a show stallion, an entertainer (see above photo), and a perfect show-off host to farm visitors.

 

Time marches on, and upon Carl’s death, the horses were sold.  All except five.  BR was one of the five.  They were pals, he and Mom, and she could not let him go.  So, she gelded him and the five lived out their later years at the farm until Mom passed away.  And now, he, and his stablemates are here at Blue Rock Horses & Farm.

And today he turned 30!

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He still entertains farm visitors.

 

Today BR is 30 years old!

He got lots of treats at feeding time tonight!

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Good ‘ole BR, even with all his white, still looks real fine in his blue halter.

Whether the Weather be fine…

Falling snow, like the ever quiet steps of the cat, can hardly be heard as it dances joyfully to the ground.  It quiets the world in it’s ‘hushful’ way.  Everything seems under the cover of a snowfall.  But it is not all under cover.

 

So, for fun on this cold winter day, see if you can tell what the snow is revealing to those who take the time to look!  Answers at the end of blog.

 

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#1?

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#2?

 

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#3?

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#4?

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#5?

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#6?

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#7?  (the big prints)

  1.   Dog prints (in the header of this blog).
  2.   Feed bucket (set it down to open gate).
  3.   Cow imprint.
  4.   Chicken imprint.
  5.   Farmer’s boots.
  6.   Bird imprints at bird feeder.
  7.   Cat prints on rocks.
  8.   Mystery!!  Saw these on the frozen pond and have no idea!  Any guesses?

Snow makes farm work laborious and in some areas dangerous.  That is a given.  Job description of farmer for many places would be incomplete without snow in it.  Though many would not complain of being ‘fair weather farmers’, the cold is taken in stride.  Just as is all the weather God gives we farmers.  Reminds this PFO (Primary Farm Operator) of the little poem read many years ago to this once house-full of little children:

Weather

Whether the weather be fine

Or whether the weather be not,

Whether the weather be cold

Or whether the weather be hot,

We’ll weather the weather

Whatever the weather,

Whether we like it or not.

Anonymous

We farmers are rather philosophical about it!

 

Know the farmer.  Know the farm.

Homemade is always best.

 

 

Have to Purchase Hay?

Purchasing hay for livestock is one of the most costly of all the never-ending expenses of farm life.  Running a tight ship on minimal cost is a challenge.  Purchasing hay from local feed stores is a sure way to pay more than one may want.  There are other avenues worth checking into.  Every feed store has a bulletin board.  Most likely there will be ads from local hay farmers advertising their hay for sale.  This will assure at least a couple dollars less per bale.  Asking farming friends where they purchase their supply is always a good idea, this PFO found her hay man this way.  It always pays to ask questions!  Another great way is to drive around the backroads of home.  Many times hand-painted signs are tacked upon fences advertising hay for sale.

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Asking a farming friend helped this PFO find a hay farmer.  See him waving at the camera!

 

Thank goodness for Father Harry (FH), as he must travel often to pick up the needed supply.  The barn holds only so much.  But as anyone who knows farmers know how much they enjoy standing around talking about weeds, weather, feed, gardens, tools, etc. after work is done, makes this errand more of a social event than work!

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Hay wagons stand quiet and still while waiting for the next season.

Livestock on this farm have eaten Lin’s hay for over a decade.  They lick it up!

 

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FH (Father Harry) tying down a load of hay while chatting with Lin.

 

A fine friendship has developed over these years.  As long as Lin keeps making hay, Blue Rock Horses & Farm will keep purchasing it.

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Dormant hay-wagons—

 

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—-until next Spring.

Know the farmer.  Know the farm.

Homemade is always best.