Thursday, November 7, 2013

 I was at care group last night and shared a story from my past, which I then mentioned on my facebook page because I was reminded that I need to tell that story more, and give God the glory for what He has done in my life. I was further appalled that my children have responded to that post with remarks that I have never told them the story. So here it is in detail.

When I was 13 I took a fall from a pony on the frozen ground right on my tail bone. I guess the fall resulted in compressed vertebra so over the next few years my back pain worsened. It slowed me down, not enough to quit riding and working in the barn, but that lifestyle made the back pain flare up continually. I wore a back brace for riding and barn work, uncomfortable and hot and I know I often snuck it off because it interfered with my riding. By the time I was 16 my back pain had worsened to the point that I was going to the chiropractor 3 times a week, on excessive pain medication and missing much school. The chiropractor visits helped immensely, but I still used painkillers to continue to function, especially in order to ride. I remember competing at a Pony Club National Rally in Lake Placid NY and both my horse (borrowed) and I were on the same pain medication, one not usually prescribed for humans because of it's dangerous side effects. I remember the night before the first phase of the competition doubling both of our doses (illegally), but I was not going to let my team down.

Several years later (maybe like 10) I was married with 2 children and attending a church conference in Indiana, PA (Celebration, for those who know). My back was so bad that I could not lean over and tie my shoe laces; my oldest son Gabriel had to do it for me. I moved very carefully so as not to strain or twist and fall down with pain. One evening meeting there was a man with the gift of healing who called for anyone wanting healing to come down to the front. We were in the gymnasium of Indiana University of PA and climbing up and down the bleachers did not stop me from responding. I knew God could heal me, but I had been dealing with the pain for so long I wondered if He would.

Now some of you may be a bit uncomfortable with the next portion of this story, but this is exactly what happened. More then a 100 people were down in front and the man was just walking along, going from one person to the next and placing his hand on their foreheads. The assistants had laid the wrestling mats on the ground behind us, and would stand behind each person as the man prayed for them, for when he prayed the Holy Spirit would overcome them and they would pass out. I remember thinking as he approached me, what do I do? I was not sure how this being "slain" in the Spirit worked! Like I needed to have it all figured out! I remember the man praying for the person next to me, then stepping in front of me and reaching his hand to my forehead. I do not know whether he actually touched me, for the next thing I remember was coming to, lying on the mat, with a blanket laid over me. As my consciousness returned, helpers helped me up, and there was no pain!!!

It has been almost 30 years since this has occurred and I have never had a re-occurrence of that excruciating pain. Yes, I can still have muscle aches form overdoing it, like anyone else, but not the debilitating, tear producing, limiting pain of my teen years.

What would my life be like without God's healing touch? I ride horses all the time; I work on the farm; I lift feed sacks and hay bales, tackle sheep to vaccinate and pull lambs, shovel snow and manure. It is clear to me that without God's healing touch, I could not be farming, I could not have the active life style I so enjoy. My children would not have had the life they did growing up, or my grandchildren the experiences we have now.

I am so sorry that I have not given God the glory He deserves for the blessings in my life. He not only provides for my salvation, but for the good life I have here on this earth. With such a testimony there is no doubt in my heart that God is who He is: powerful, good, caring. May my testimony encourage you too.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

90 Day Challenge

I know this is not my usual type of post, but I just started a 90 Day Challenge and I am very excited. You have got to hear about this.

The other day I was riding my horse in my dressage saddle and I discovered that the saddle was no longer as comfortable for me as for my horse. Yes, I still could sit deep and still, hold my leg on him to balance him at the canter(he wants to break out of it all the time). The uncomfortable part was that my fat belly rubbed against the pommel of the saddle. Now I have always maintained that I will muddle along with pain and inconvenience as long as it doesn't effect my riding. At least that's what I told the orthopedic surgeon who looked at my knee MRI. Once it makes riding uncomfortable, then it's time to do something.

So it is time to do something about this extra weight that I carry around on front of me like a backwards fanny pack. (yes, this is here for the benefit of my daughters who bemoan the fact that I still sometimes do wear a fanny pack-how embarrassing for them).

Hence the 90 Day Challenge:
My goal is to lose 20 pounds-harder then 10 which was off last year around this time, but still attainable. In the course of this lighter 20 pounds, I also plan to drop a pants size by taking inches off this offensive belly.  If in addition, I feel better about myself, have more energy and can encourage others to enter this challenge with me so they too can have these benefits, all the better.

So let me invite you to join me. Check out my web site. Watch the video. Give me a call or drop me a message. Let's tackle our health future

Friday, April 19, 2013

Belling the Lambs

Another year of lambing is over for the most part. Now sheep have gone out on the mountain, eating the new spring grass and easing the squeeze on my pocketbook from buying hay all winter. Of course, there is the ever present danger of predators on the mountain. We have an abundace of coyotes, bears, bobcats, ealges, and even mountoin lions, no matter what the DNR says; I have seen one.

 A  few years ago the farmer to the south and the one across the road stopped running sheep because of the coyote problem. DNR has a predator control officer who willingly comes out to diagnosis your problem, "yep, you have a coyote problem." He will put poison collars on the lambs, which does not save that lamb, but it will be the last lamb that coyote will ever kill. However, while a workable solution, you must lose several lambs before getting help, and by then so much of your hard work has gone to feeding your enemy.
We have tried guardian dogs, donkeys, llamas, and now bells. We still have a donkey, who would rather live with the horses. Our last llama has died and we have the alpaca but I am not sure how that will work yet. We are on our forth year using bells and for the dollar, it has worked the best.

I noticed that when we put the poison collars on the lambs, the coyotes quit killing them. Not because they had died, but for some reason they no longer even made the attempt to attack. So I thought that if I put bells on the lambs it might have the same effect. The DNR man told me it might work for a while, until the coyotes realized it was a dinner bell. I tried just the same, with great success. Now instead of losing nearly half the lamb flock, I may lose none, or only one or two.

The first year I bought harness bells and took them to a tack store and had the Amishman help me fix them to elastic collars. It worked marvelously and when the lambs ran across the mountain face behind the house, it sounded like Santa's sleigh was arriving. The next year I was able to reuse some of the collars but some were lost or stretched out too much. I bought the smallest cow  bells from my friendly farm store and easily attached them to the collars by stringing them on the elastic and sewing the elastic closed. Then I moved to cutting the elastic longer and just knotting it shut. With the bigger bells, it sounded like the salvation army had set up shop on the mountain side and were ringing for all they were worth.

This year I needed to replace a few collars and add some more, having a larger lamb crop then in past years. I bought all the bells the friendly farm store had in stock and still was short. I asked my son to bring some home from across the mountain in the valley where he worked. He prompted me to order form the computer. Of course! Today's' age. Unfortunately, no one carried the little bells I had been using, but the larger ones used at sport's events were much cheaper. I thought to give it a try and ordered red ones, believing they would be easier to locate if a lamb lost one.

So all lambs are belled. The larger ones make me think that we have a football game going in the back field. However, since all of the types of bells are now represented, I feel more like sitting on the swing and listening to the bell choir sounding over the mountainside.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Life with Daddy, part 1

In the last little while I have had friends lose their Dads or their Dads have fallen ill, sometimes seriously. As I walk through those times with my friends and try to offer words of wisdom and condolences, I am reminded of my Dad,his great personality, his giving nature,his mischievous heart, and his wisdom. I would like to share some of that with you, to remind you to cherish your
Dad or his memory, and to reminisce for myself.

My Dad passed more than 24 years ago and while the ache is not always present, there are times with I miss him just as acutely. Other times when the pain is not as sharp, but the sorrow is still present, especially as I wonder what he would say about my life, the decisions I have made, and his grandchildren.

Several years ago I was speaking with my sister about my relationships with others growing up, and she made the remark that I had not had many friends because Daddy was my best friend. What a remarkable concept. I loved going with my Dad on his appointments, even if I had to sit in the car with a book until he had finished. Because I was the tail end of the children in my family, sometimes it was as if I was an only child. Dad was older and had more time(and money)to lavish on me. Remarkedly enough, I don’t believe I was spoiled. I remember a girlfriend's mom telling me one day that she never heard a child say thank you so many times. I also remember Dad taking me shopping for horse equipment and asking me, “do you need this?” I tried not to be too greedy, for he was generous. One time it was a rain sheet for the horse. None of my friends had something so extravagant, even the wealthier ones. Finally he asked me if I had it would I use it. Of course, and was glad to have it to cover me and my horse while waiting for my turn to jump at the competitions. It wasn’t long until others had rain sheets as well.

The horse hobby was an expensive one. I got my first horse for Christmas at age 7. Before that I was the horse. My mom says I didn’t know kids were supposed to walk upright until I went to kindergarten. My family rode western and mostly just trail rode, until I convinced Dad to let me go to the riding part of girl scout camp. I wanted to return home when I saw there were no western saddles. Sometimes I wonder if Dad ever regretted forcing me to stay, for I came home from camp two weeks later vowing to learn to ride English and jump. That started the rounds of lessons, more expensive horses, Pony Club and competitions,the whole way up to national level.I remember the first horse my father bought me, he complained how much he had paid for “a gelding, not even registered! More than my sister’s registered mare!”  a few years later he was pleasantly surprised to find my riding had increased the horse’s value, at least until he realized he had to pay more for the next one as I moved up in the levels.

 After I was married and supporting my own horse habit, I began to realize even more how expensive it had been. One day while walking with my Dad through the woods, I thanked him for all he had made possible with my riding, admitting how expensive it had been. His response was this, “Who knows how inexpensive it was?” he was referring to how so many of my peers had gotten into trouble with boys, drugs and alcohol. He said he always knew where I was, what I was doing, and knew my horses were my priority. I dated a guy in high school. One day my Dad asked me if I was still planning to go to college. Of course, I told him. Well, he said, that young man is thinking marriage. I was incredulous. I was only a junior in high school. He was a senior. I had plans for my life. Shortly after that I broke that relationship, and at the end of his senior year he got married to someone else. My Dad’s wisdom and my passion for horses prevented me from making a lasting mistake.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013


Do you ever think of how much time and energy we put into waiting? As children we wait for school to let out, Christmas and birthdays and vacations to come. As adults we wait for things all the time, checks in the mail, vacations, and school to get back in session.

Seems to me that as a farmer, waiting is even more a part of life. After seeds are planted, we wait. We wait for them to sprout, to grow , to produce so we can harvest. We wait for the fruit of our planning when we wait for baby animals to be born. We wait for the weather to be right to make the hay; we wait for the parts to come for the tractor, hoping that the weather will still be right for hay making when they arrive. We wait for snow to melt, for rain to come, for sun to shine. We wait for mud to dry, grass to grow, corn to tassel, females to cycle, gestate and give birth, and for babies to nurse and grow.

We have things to do while we wait. We can prepare birthing areas; we can prepare equipment; we can prepare storage areas, fences, ground for planting, and hundreds of other things. But we can not prepare for waiting. It just is. There is nothing we can do to hurry things along, it is not in our control.

The weather will do what it does. We wait. The plants will grow at their own pace. We wait. The animals will birth when it is time. My grandmother said “the apple will drop when it is ready” when referring to waiting for babies. We just wait.

And sometimes we wait what seems like forever. Like children waiting for Christmas, or the end of a long car trip. Are we there yet? Right now we are waiting for a foal to be born. Almost every morning I get a call from someone. “Any baby yet?” It’s almost as bad as when I was pregnant with our children. Of course, like most everything in my life, they were late. The last little bit of waiting seems longer than the months before; as the end approaches the time seems to slow. This is an unplanned pregnancy of an older pony so there are more risks involved,so family and friends are even more anxious for the outcome. The pony belongs to little 6 year old Levi and he is excited and concerned. 

So what do we do while we wait. All the other chores that still need done. All of the things that we can do to prepare for a new baby: a safe and warm stall, kept clean, a supplement in the grain and more for mom to eat. Handle mom, especially in her udder area so she will not kick at a baby. And watch and wait. And pray.

How can we not pray? With everything that is out of our control, everything we wait for; how can we not know that God is controlling things? Everything we wait for and see come about is evidence of His provision and gift of life. It is a miracle unexplained by science, how a single seed of grain can be put into the ground and grow to produce many. How an egg and sperm can unite and divide into a multifaceted being of many unique cells. So we pray. For a healthy baby, a safe delivery, our own little miracle of life.

We are waiting. For spring, for a foal, for grass, for visitors coming, for the future whatever it may bring.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Auction Fever

Auction Fever

Some people love to shop. There are countless jokes and stories of women shopping. We shop because we need to make purchases, but for many of us it goes beyond need and becomes a hobby, a pleasant pastime, and sometimes to a point an obsession. Really, how many pairs of shoes does a person need? and you know who I am talking about. or books, although I could probably make a case for that one.

Some people shop for stress relief, to some it is only a stress. I had a friend who would shop and then a day or two later, return most of the stuff. I usually don’t get to the checkout before I put stuff from my cart back to its home.

My downfall is the auction. I love auctions! I can remember with pleasure specific auctions where I have made purchases that sit in my home like my grandmother’s estate auction where I bought my dining room table. It was her older table from her basement that she used for crafts. (I could not afford her oak one from upstairs). When she asked me what I had purchased that day, and I told her, she smiled and said that was the first table she and Pop-pop had purchased when they got married, at a sale in the early 1900’s, and that it was old then. What a treasure.

I think the draw of an auction for me is just that. What kind of treasure will I find? What kind of bargain can I make? Then of course is the adrenalin rush of bidding. How high should I go? Will the opposing bidder pay more? There is definitely an accelerated heartbeat, a flush of victory over a purchase that is not found in a department store.

The best type of auction for me is a livestock auction. Maybe my husband would say the worst. While at estate auctions I have seen people get carried away bidding on “mystery” boxes, accruing more junk than treasure, I can rarely go to an auction of animals without adding to my menagerie. In addition to the excitement of bidding, add the live animal aspect of the purchase. Even though your eyes can see what you are buying, there is always an element of surprise when you get the purchase.

This past Saturday is a perfect example. I traveled with my friend Amanda to a weekly livestock auction for the purpose of purchasing 2 bottle calves to raise for our freezer. ( I know, a whole other story, yes we eat what we raise, and love it.) Of course there are more than calves for sale, and we have to sit through hours of other stuff, like eggs, butter, cheese, veggies, baked goods, chickens and rabbits. I took advantage of the home made cheese and butter. I told my friend if I didn't get the calves,that it would be expensive cheese and butter, but I didn’t want to go home empty handed after the three hour trip to the auction. As if I needed an excuse. So when the rabbits came up, I watched. Didn't need another rabbit, I had three. Have you guessed it? Notice the past tense in the sentence about the rabbits. The young male angora, who was so matted he had pulled some of his hair out trying to groom himself, needed me. How could I pass up such a deal? They normally sell for forty to sixty dollars and nobody (nobunny) wanted this one, so he came home with me to the tune of six dollars. The chickens were just too cool. And our biracial family just had to have a black chicken, right? Amanda had taken a stroll through the barns to see the pigs. She returned to tell me there was a llama. A llama? I was excited and knew danger feelings when they popped up. We had lost our wonderful llama last winter to old age. I would love to have another. However, it wasn’t a llama, but its cousin an alpaca. Those sell for  a lot of money. Imagine my delight, mixed with dismay, when no one started bidding as the auctioneer dropped the price again and again. At thirty dollars, I couldn’t stand it anymore and made a bid. Amanda looked at me in amazement.I bought him for fifty dollars, money not in the budget to spend. Then it was my turn to look at her in dismay. “I just bought an alpaca!”

All I can say is that my husband is an understanding man. He still lets me go to auctions. Of course I make sure and tell him how good he has it, by comparing me to the two ladies that sat in front of us. They were buying chickens, and turkeys, and ducklings, again and again. I lost count of how many, but they had so many boxes that they had to take some to their car because there was no more room for them, stacked beside them and along the ring side in front of them. Amanda asked where they were going to put all those chickens because she overheard them remark they didn’t even have a chicken coop. The one lady said she guesses the peeps would have to come in the bedroom with her.

At least my husband does not have to share our bedroom with any of my purchases.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Farm Fashion

Just because we are farmers, does not mean we have no fashion sense. It just means that we have our own sense of fashion.

What is farm fashion then?

The most common denominator of farm fashion is boots. No matter what else is being worn, one should not be without their boots. Even in summer and shorts. I have tried going in flip flops but stuff oozing up between my toes on a misstep is not fun, and that's an understatement. And with boots goes socks, which is almost a fetish with me. Ask my grandchildren. The 4 year old often comes up to me and says, "Look Grrmamaw, I have socks on."

So picture the pretty teenage girl at the county fair in short shorts, T shirt with rolled sleeves and striped socks peeking out above her ankle high boots. The boots might even be pink or with blue and pink top stitching. And of course, everything is brand named: the boots, the jeans, the T shirt, maybe even the ball cap.We think it's cute. And she doesn't stick out because all the girls, except the fair queen, are dressed similarly. (The fair queen would be dressed that way too if she could. Instead she is doddering around in heels trying to hand out ribbons in the uneven footing of the show ring.)

But farm fashion does not stop with the people.

Many people are now dressing up their dogs. Outfits for dogs are a large part of pet industry. And if you attend horse shows you will find horses bedecked in matching blankets and bandages, with undergarments of loud colors. They have a purpose-to keep clean and hair laying flat, but a simple unobtrusive color would do the same; but no, that would not express the individuality of the rider.

Well, on our farm the lambs get fashionable. In the cold of winter, lambs wear wool sweaters. Not the ones God has given them, but cut down and redesigned old sweaters for additional warmth. For the fun of it, when I go shopping at recycled clothing stores, I try to find the wildest colors. I love the added color to the landscape when lambs are rollicking about the pasture. Everything is brown, drab and depressing, until I see these cute little splashes of color.

So even the lambs get into the fashion scene. The other day I saw a picture of a sweater on a chicken. Now I draw the line there. Next thing someone will want to dress up their pet mouse or fish!

Monday, February 11, 2013

Dust Bunnies

Ever see one of those signs on someone’s door, “This house protected by…”? I’ve seen them protected by big dogs such as German shepherds or Rottweilers. I’ve seen them say by little dogs like dachshunds and poodles, although they may be more vicious then the big dogs. I’ve even seen them say a cat or something else silly like a gold fish. The one at my house says “This house protected by attack dustballs.”
I live in an old farm house, with wooden floors and have 4 dogs that live inside, when not out working on the farm with me. Their hair accumulates in every corner, under counters, stove, desks, piano, chairs and tables. Well, you get the idea. It is a goal to sweep every day, but sometimes the day gets away from me. And so does the hair. 

So what would dust balls, called dust bunnies in my house, do when they attack? Well run for your lives, for this is a tale of horror. Dust bunnies attach themselves to you and do not let go, or only under the most aggressive battle can you free yourself from them. They stick to your clothes, so badly not even a lint brush can free you. With the winters static electricity, they stick to anything plastic: the inside of the laundry basket, the computer screen, the TV screen, and the back of any device blowing air, like the electric heaters in the living room and kitchen.

They are vigorous little creatures, hiding in unlikely places and jumping out at you when you least expect it; you will find them in your drawers –both the ones that store your clothes and the ones that cover your, well, you know what. Even when I sweep every day they try to get away from the broom and their waste can destination by jumping into the air and floating around behind the broom, or clinging in hard to reach places like corners and chair feet, and scurrying back further under furniture.

 So truly beware of these dust creatures. You don’t want to take them home with you. They seem to multiple rapidly-why else call them dust bunnies? They are easy to feed requiring what everyone has readily on hand, more dust. I think some of them have gained the size of jack rabbits in my house, especially under the fridge.

Monday, February 4, 2013

The Computer

I love it. I hate it. I use it, but I don’t trust it. That stupid computer. Of course it would never be the stupid computer operator. It’s never my fault. It’s always the machine. Or maybe my husband for whom the machine willingly obeys. In fact he can even teach it new tricks. Which it then uses to confuse and agitate me.

I have a dog that listens better than the computer. At least to me. I ask him to move the sheep and he rounds them up. I tell him to back off and he comes behind me. I tell him to stay and he does. That’s what the computer is to my husband. If my husband tells the dog to do something, the dog just looks to me for permission. That’s what the computer does for me. I just don’t have the authority and the range of commands to get it to cooperate and obey.

Now I can get the computer to do some things. Even my husband can put the dog out to go to the bathroom. I can look up information on the sheep data base. I write my articles on word perfect. I can even cruise the internet for information. That’s if nothing has moved from where it was previously. Or if the password hasn’t changed. At least I don’t change my dog’s name. It’s usually easy to find him too. He’s wherever I am. Well, if I had to look for the computer I would know where to find it. It would be wherever my husband was, since it’s a laptop. He spends almost as much time with it as I do my dog, except my dog sleeps in my bedroom. Used to be at least my husband couldn’t take the computer to bed with him, but even that has changed. 

Why do we aggravate ourselves with this machine? It is supposed to make life easier. I love to write on it. I can go so much faster. One of the best devices is spell check. I only have problems when my spelling of a word is so far-fetched that the computer can’t even make a guess at the word. The sheep data base is still in the making; my husband, I believe likes changing it and pulling up different configurations of ways to group the sheep. He still can’t answer my questions though. And I don’t trust the computer to not lose my precious documents, I still do a print out regularly and keep a hand written back up notebook. 

Email, and now chat on Facebook have been great inventions. I still can’t understand why, though, a person living a non-long distance phone call away insists on sending me emails, messages and texts.  I’d still much rather talk to a person.

While I like spending time playing games and surfing the net, often the frustrations outweigh the pleasures. A fight with the computer can change the flavor of my whole day. I yell at it and it sits there smugly, not doing what I want. My articles are lost, I can’t make changes to a document, I can’t upload a picture, or change it’s size. I can’t get on the internet; I can’t find where something has moved. I think I’ll choose my dog for a companion. The only annoying things he does are chasing the neighbor’s truck and coming into the house with muddy feet. When I yell at him at least I get a reaction, even if he does turn upside down and piddle. Bet my husband can’t get his stupid computer to do that!


Saturday, February 2, 2013

3 In 30 Setting Goals

My Daughter in law has encouraged and challenged me so I have decided to link up with goals of my own for the month of February.

1. Follow my new cleaning schedule to work some each day(except Sunday) in every room. Because I had worked full time and also have all the farm chores to do, the house has been greatly ignored. Now the cleaning can be overwhelming, so I have devised a method where I break down each room into details, realizing that not each room will be completely cleaned before  moving to the next room and attacking its problem areas.

2. Spend time each day with a horse in training.(5 days out of 7)I have 2 unbroken young horses and a retraining to complete in order to have a more marketable animal this spring. One of those I hope to keep for myself.

3. Reach a minimum of 5 bags of STUFF to be given away. After living in this house for over 14 years, and not even counting all the stuff we transferred from the old house, I have accumulated too much stuff: clothes I don't wear or don't fit me, nick knacks that gather dust, appliances that I don't use, books I have read and probably won't read again, just stuff that clutters my house and my life.

A work in progress, and with a deadline. This is my guest bedroom and my son is home on leave on Tuesday. This is where he sleeps.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Refrigerator Masterpieces

I have a papered refrigerator. Nowhere else in the house is papered; I learned years ago that paper doesn’t stand up to little fingers and rambunctious boys. But the refrigerator is covered with the artwork of grandchildren. When they come to my house one of the things they like to do is color. To that extent I keep coloring books and crayons replenished on their little table.

Their mother wants to know why they don’t color at their own home, at least not as much as here. I don’t know. Maybe it’s the choice of pictures in the coloring books, or the chance to use fresh crayons. I remember how wonderful it was to get new crayons and how it motivated me to color more pictures.
So these pictures are displayed with pride on the frig. They use every magnet available, and orderly cover the entire front with their masterpieces. 

Last night I was researching horse poems for a project, and came across a song entitled “Watercolor Ponies”.* The songwriter talks of the pictures of water color ponies on his refrigerator door, and how soon the children will be gone and the water color ponies will ride away. Great song to remind parents, and grandparents, how time flies and children do not stay little long. 

Next time they color I am going to join them. And when it’s time to hang more pictures on the frig and there’s no room, I will have them choose the ones they want to save in a folder, so some day when they are grown, I can look back and remember these days of childhood pastimes, coloring pictures for grandma’s frig.

*Watercolor Ponies by Wayne Watson, Nov 15, 2005 album “How Time Flies”