“Jehovah Rapha,” is the cry of my heart this sad week. We cry out to God, and He hears us. Oh Lord, heal our land, heal our people.
We are living in an upside-down world of no sense. Wrong is called right and right called wrong. Yet, we all can agree the mass murders that took place this week are wrong and devastating. If only Your people would hear Your voice, You would heal our land. Repentance belongs to us, we must repent of our sins for God to hear us. Dear God, hear those that cry out to You. Comfort our hearts, those families. Spread Your loving wings over our hurting hearts. We need You! This is my prayer this week. To God be the Glory!
I grew up working in the hay fields at home on our 1,300 acre farm at Endless Caverns in New Market, Va. I always loved being out in the hay fields. The fresh cut hay always smelled so good, the rhythmic sound of the machines, and of course, hay can only be made ‘when the sun shines!’
That farm was sold many years ago. Though memories still linger, most especially in springtime here in the valley when hay making is in full swing. In this time of year barns are full of the fresh hay of this past season. A barn full of new hay is a sweet smell indeed. Folks have come into our little barn and remarked about how good it smells! We do not have enough land to make our own. It must be purchased.
Our barn is small, so we have to go often to restock our supply from our man in West Virginia. He has beautiful hay, and has been our supplier for many years. Our horses are in good care with the quality of his hay. I am a hay hog, or so I have been told. I do not feed our big horses grain, but I do feed them lots of good hay. On cold, blustery nights and days, hay is a far better feed for the horses. It keeps them warmer longer than grain. On bitter winter days, I have ‘hayed’ them three times during the day. There is such a thing as horses getting what we call a ‘hay belly’, but I have found that is mostly because of poor quality over quantity.
Most hay is now baled in big rounds. Ours come in square bales. We prefer it that way. It is more work on our part as we must tend to the animals morning and evening. However, there is not as much waste. Horses are picky eaters. Ours lick up their daily supply! I also like to shake it out on the ground for them to check for weeds, and, believe it or not, I have actually found a baled, dead field mouse in one bale. Yikes! It happens occasionally.
Think I should have kept track of the number of times I heard that little question this week. It was usually followed by:
May I have a peppermint?
Is it tablet time?
When will breakfast be ready?
Let’s go play with the squirt guns!
Is it dessert time yet?
Can HoneyPie go outside to play with us?
So many questions from our grandchildren that were here with us on the farm this past week. They went home today. Pop-pop and I think they would have stayed longer! There is a lot of freedom out here on the farm. Running all around without much concern for cars. We neighbors all know one another here on our private drive ‘hidden valley lane’. It is a comfort and a huge blessing.
The next-door neighbor children are happy to come over and play in the late afternoons. They run, giggle, play ball and climb trees. They have a great time outside with one another. How is it they all get thirsty, hungry, and have to use the restroom all at the same time!?
The Frederick County Fair was in full swing while the grands were here. We made a long, full night of it there. To be sure there where were no bedtime complaints upon getting home that evening. Everyone, young and old, was whipped, and full of sugar!
Gentle reader, you will never guess what the big “wow!” was—the feet and nail brushes that are in each bathroom in our home. Those giggles will resound in my memory for a happy long time! Those grands raced to the bathroom to scrub their feet with those brushes. Hey, one cannot go to bed with dirty farm feet!
All those questions had a big ‘YES’ to them during this week. Oh the fun of it all. Until next time…..
Catching photos of birds has always been a joy and pain at the same time. It seems my camera is always not on me when I see a great photo. Forget about running into the house to fetch it!
Bird watching has been a wonderful pastime for years, learned from my dear Aunt from many a walks in the woods. I started keeping a ‘life list’ of the species in my 30’s. I only have about 130 species checked off so far. The last, very exciting species I saw (and have only once) was the Bobolink!
Our feeder is filled daily with sunflower seeds. The bird bath is next to the feeder. Watching a bird take a bath will make one laugh! One day I’ll catch a photo of it. BTW, sunflower seeds attract Goldfinches as well (some folks insist thistle seed is the only feed to attract goldfinches). Truly, life is not the same without the beautiful, cheerful Goldfinch in it.
Another fun discovery for us with sunflower seed is how easily they grow all around the house and garden! We have beautiful sunflowers from the seeds the birds drop all around the house. We leave them on the stem and enjoy watching the birds, especially the Goldfinches, eat on them all through the fall and winter. Bonus! If your zinnias are left to dry out in your garden, you will see the birds eating them as well, plus they will re-seed themselves next spring. Double bonus!
There are many other birds around here on the farm than posted on this blog. These are the few that just happened to turn out rather nicely. Thought it would brighten the day to share a few of these lovely, happy neighbors that are all around us.
Thank God for birds. A friend of mine recently told me where she read “of another service rendered as the birds sing their praises in the morning…that somehow the vibrations of their voices actually affect and aid in the awakening of God’s creation for the day.”
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!
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.
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.
You are invited to come out to the farm and meet our animals. You may end up wanting one for yourself and your family!
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!
Our discussion revolved around pigs. A family member that is vegetarian expressed an interest in ‘saving’ all animals from slaughter. It sounds very noble to not want to kill farm animals for food. It is a hard, dirty business to be sure. The problem is it is not practical.
Twice a day, everyday of the year regardless of weather or personal inclination, livestock needs tending to. These are the realities of having animals be them house pets or farm animals.
But consider these ideas. Our society is transient. How many of us live in the same home our parents lived in, or even the one we grew up in ourselves? How many hours are you away from home everyday? How often do you travel? How long are you gone when you do travel? Do you have a summer home separate from your winter home? How about a summer cabin? Summer vacation?
So, who is going to feed the pigs? Day after day, year after year for all their long lives? And that is just pigs.
Yes, it is hard sending our cattle off to slaughter. I was thanked by a man recently for raising cattle for beef. He said that because he recognizes the fact that if cattle are not used for beef, they would be extinct! Because—who is going to feed the ‘pigs’?
Sometimes it is hard to tell. Most especially through the tiny viewfinder on the camera. I have taken photographs all my life. Which is now turning into a long time. I thought getting old would take longer.
The camera has no opinion of my age, though it does have a way of telling me my eyes are not what they used to be. Lighting can be manipulated, color, tone, etc as well. But not focus. On days I am feeling especially smarty, I tell folks I meant for that photo to be out of focus!
I took a photography class not long ago. The instructor said if our photos are not shared, but most especially not printed, our photography is incomplete. So I have decided to regularly post some of the photos that folks seem to like.
It would be a great joy if you would comment and share some of your photos as well. Include stories associated with photograph, if you like. Which one do you like, and why? I appreciate the feedback.