In Focus #7—Flowers in Vase

Spring is here, in full bloom. Glory!

That means busy times here on the farm and in the gardens, regardless of any virus. Plants have no opinion about it, and go about their business in full force of the season.

It is time to bring cut flowers from the gardens into the house for Sunday meals with family. Virus or not, we have our Sunday meals together. We believe in the rich value of family, fresh air, and community immunity. Fresh air is magical.

There is little time to be on computer, as the outdoors is quite demanding this time of year. Spare moments for this primary farm operator are spent trying to catch the beautiful Barn Swallows on film out in the barn. Apparently they are camera shy, for every time I am out at the barn without my camera they are everywhere working on their homes in the barn. When camera is in hand, there is not one to be seen anywhere. I’ll catch them yet!

So in the meantime, here are a few photos of flowers in the vase on the dining room table. The floral arrangement in the second set of photos are not from the garden. I did not like the usual vase they were delivered in, so I put them in the ceramic one after the beautiful lilacs expired. The iris are blooming, I believe they will be next!

Thank you for stopping by. Hope these photos inspire the hope and joy of this Spring season in you.

Hope springs eternal. Blessings to you all.

Is there anything that smells sweeter than a lilac?
They are easy to grow as well. Which color is your favorite?
Sunday family meals are important.
I did not like the usual flower-shop vase these flowers came in.
This ceramic vase is lovely.
The iris are blooming.
They will be the next to fill the vase.

At It Again

The ‘highly educated’ are at it again. Ho-hum.

It is the same old song and dance from over thirty-five years ago. Talk about beating a dead horse. These ‘educated folks’ are tiresome with their old rhetoric of the ‘dangers’ of homeschooling.

It appears they are worried, that with this shut-down, more and more parents may realize they could teach their children at home, and indeed shall. I know of one family that is planning to do just that. Do you know of any?

This particular family sends their children to a pricey private school. Yet, I recently heard them say that even some of the things taught there did not line up with their viewpoints. This shut-down has brought to light to them the joys, simplicity and freedoms associated with homeschooling. This young family is excited about the free time they will have to travel and visit family.

It is not as hard as one may think. In fact, for the most part, it is fun. The biggest issue is to not fret. I should know. I started homeschooling our five children in the 1980’s when hardly anyone knew anything about it. In those early days, when we had only two children, we would not go out in public until after 3 p.m. because of the barrage of questions I would get. I was young and not fully prepared to answer all those questions.

It did not take long to find my voice in the matter. I read excellent materials on the subject, i.e. Raymond and Dorothy Moore’s books. They put into words what I felt on my heart in regards to the education of our children. They gave me courage and a guiding light on that poorly lit path.

(1) Home Grown Kids–A Practical Handbook for Teaching Your Children at Home; (2) Home-spun Schools–Teaching Children at Home-What Parents Are Doing and How They Are Doing It; and (3) Home Style Teaching–A Handbook for Parents and Teachers.

These folks knew what they were talking about. Sound reasoning may be out of style, but not relevancy. I also found other families that were on the same track as we were. Some of us, to this day, are still close friends with wonderful memories.

I had good practice in finding supporting folks. You see, dear reader, I also had most of my children at home. The most important thing I remember my lay-midwife tell me was to surround myself with positive folks that supported our decisions. Seek and ye shall find.

That is why I can say with certainty the lame excuses these ‘educated folks’ are using against homeschooling are empty, and have been soundly refuted. Behind those old arguments is an intense desire to shape and mold the minds of our children. Cookie cutter minds are far easier to teach and manage over independent thinkers.

For those of us that want to homeschool, kindly leave us alone to exercise our freedoms. For those of you that prefer government or private schools, please, stay on top of what is being taught to YOUR children. They are the hope of the future.

These books were an important help in my homeschooling days.
We volunteered at a local historic site. Our families have remained friends after all these years.
Homeschooled kids are some of the best at interacting with folks of every age.
They travel a good deal, learning about the history of all Americans.
They learn exciting skills, i.e. fishing…
Engine work. The fun of racing…
How to defend their own property (top photo), and how to defend their country.
They got used to folks taking photos of them, and answered all the questions visitors asked them.
They learned the importance of following directions well. These beautiful historic dresses earned ribbons for these girls at their county fair.
Outside makes a great classroom.
Imagination grows with free time. So do family ties.


I dare you.

I dare you to make the call. Make the call to Jesus right now. We all have the extra time with the virus shut-down. So, #makethecall. Ever tried before? It does not matter. Jesus is waiting to hear from you. He will hear your call. He has promised that. Put Him to the test. He can take it. He will take it. He has taken it.

He is not like our politicians who pretend to hear our calls, then go about their own selfish business, (which, by the way, is an extremely human trait). He hears. He listens. He cares—truly cares. But how would you know if you have never made the call? Dare to believe those that have called on Him. They have been where you are in your unbelief. Have you been where they are in their belief?

I dare you to call out-loud (so you can hear yourself) to Jesus for a week, this beautiful Psalm of David:

Psalm 23 Psalm 23 Print Psalm 23 Poster Bible Poster Bible Print ...

Call on Jesus. Ask Him to put this Psalm on your mind throughout the day in these trying times. Test and see if you will not feel a peace that passes all understanding.

Put Him to the test. I dare you.



The Diva

I work with a diva several times each week.

She is nice to handle much of the time. There are times when it is obvious she is not going to cooperate at all, or Heaven forbid, I forget her. That is always a disaster. She takes it very personal and falls flat on herself.

But when she has a mind to perform. Man! She’s great! Everyone enjoys her.

I have fooled around with many divas over my years. Currently my favorite is Whole Wheat Raisin Bread. She is pretty fussy and often does not rise to the occasion, but this recipe is very satisfying.

This diva—Whole Wheat Raisin Bread

I know folks must be baking more at home since virus broke out because finding flour is tricky.

So happy baking folks! These divas are testy, but keep trying. You’ll be glad you did!

When she is happy, she rises to the occasion and delights everyone!

Happy baking and have fun with your diva!

In Focus #6

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.

Pause a Moment

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!

May you pause a moment and know God is near.

The Fun of Limericks

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!

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,

They rode out one day

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!

Two best friends…
…from Nain.

Our High Hope

She was picked from an internet photo.

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.

This is the internet photo I first saw of High Hope
Drinking their mixed powdered milk from stainless steel bowls.
Taking a rest stop.
We had to stop every few hours to give them their milk.
Welcome home to Virginia, High Hope.
She was so tiny.
Mom showing off her catch.
Our daughter and our orphans.
Two pretty yearlings.
This very helpful little booklet was in the adoption papers. It was very well written and encouraging. Jeannie Holland signed it for me.
Inside of front cover.

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.

The Time Warp

Shirley is a granny.

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.

A Truth Learned from Dandy

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!

Enjoy the photos of my pal, Dandy.

The very first time we met in the pound. How does one refuse that face? And YES! he is barking.

He was taken everywhere with us to socialize him. Mom sure liked him too.
He kept a close eye on Mom as though he knew she needed watching as she grew older.
He enjoys trail riding with the horses.
My pal.