Friday, December 31, 2010

lessons learned

2010 is quickly winding to and end and I've got mixed emotions about it, you see 2009 was a doozie and 2010 was awesome so naturally I hope that 2011 will be good and I certainly hope that we won't have another 2009. I've got lots of things nay goals for 2011 and I'm hoping to be able to pull them off to some degree by using some of the lessons I've learned this year. The biggest things I've learned is that above all other things time need to be taken to enjoy the ride. Don't get so wrapped up in it; what ever it is, that you forget to enjoy the ride. We only get one shot at this life it would be a shame to miss it, don't ya think?

Some of the other things I've learned are:

1. "They don't eat much hay." is a subjective term. Much hay compared to an elephant or a goat?

2. There is a reason for the old farmers saying that fences need to be horse high, pig tight and bull strong...

3. No matter how much you prepare your self or steel yourself against it taking animals to the abattoir hurts more than you think it will.

4. Good neighbors are amazing!

5. Do some research before raising animals, (especially for food) as you don't want to go in blind, but know that it will cost you more than you think, but not too much and it's worth every penny.

6. Farms are built by blood, sweat and tears and worth every drop.

7. Others will laugh, scoff at or even make fun of your choices and that's ok, let them. Forgive them, they just have now idea how blissful your life really is.

8. Enjoy the breeze on a warm sunny day at the beach with your children.

9. Crops fail, livestock eventually becomes deadstock, and large amounts of wind, rain and snow happen, roll with it. Hopefully it doesn't all happen on the same day, sometimes it does. On those days count your blessings and move on.

10. Lots of things just don't matter, it's the little things that do...

11. Sunsets are beautiful and a nice way to end the day with the hope for a beautiful tomorrow.

12. It's easy to bite off more than you can reasonably chew at one time and it's ok to say no.

13. It's very exciting to see an egg being laid and even more exciting to watch one hatch!

14. Children grow up way to fast and horses age way too quickly.

15. Sometimes it takes a 500 pound heifer and a show ring to give a young girl some self confidence, and it's heartwarming to watch.

16. We do all get the same 24 hours in a day it's how we decide to spend them that makes the difference. We do have the time if it is a priority. But sometimes even the best laid plans can get 180'd because the pigs got out or the truck got a flat or whathave you and not everybody understands. I hope you make it a point to surround yourself with people that do.

17. You are able to do exactly what needs to be done when it needs to be done even though you didn't think you could.

18. Red and grey squirrels; albeit cute, are very destructive!

19. A barn full of happy animals is a wonderful thing to hear first thing in the morning, or anytime really and a ride on a trusty steed can lift even the darkest cloud.

20. White tile flooring is not really ideal for my lifestyle. It shows way too much crud and despite the fact that the floor is swept daily it rarely looks that way. So I'll take a bit of wording from Joel Salatins wife, 'If you're coming to see me come anytime, if you're coming to see my house make an appointment.'

There are lots of other things I've learned this year so this is just a smattering, but I don't see how it would be possible to learn it all at once or in one year, nor would I want to. Learning is part of the journey. So here's to a look back at 2010 and lessons learned and a hope for a prosperous 2011 for you and all of us here at From the Country Farm. Good Night, God Bless and Happy New Year! Welcome 2011!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Birthday Girls

Faith discovered while choosing her 4-H heifer this year that they shared the same birthday, how neat is that? So being the thoughtful girl she is, she called the dairy barn and asked if she could pop in to wish her girl a happy birthday and to see if she could bring her a carrot treat. The barn obliged her but suggested to her that a bit of grain might be a better treat as opposed to the carrot. We hadn't seen Blitz for a few months as show season is over as is the lease agreement, she's a whole lot larger now than just a few months ago; we found her in yet another barn but not surprisingly she was eating! Did I even mention that she's a pig! Yes, she's a Holstein, but she ate a proportionately larger amount of food while in our care. Anyway, her head was sticking out through the slots to the feed trough, it was almost like she was expect Faith. Faith walked up to her and held out her hand with a palm full of grain, Blitz licked it up and looked for more. Faith reached out to give her a scratch and Blitz backed away shyly, Faith was patient and took her time and eventually the light came on for Blitz, (no small feat for a Holstein I'm told.) and then she stepped forward to Faith to pat and scratch, then she gave her another bite to eat. I chatted with the barn owner while all this was taking place and we agreed it was lovely for a child to choose to spend time with a heifer in a dairy barn any day, but especially on their birthday.

Monday, December 27, 2010


Last year our Operation Christmas Child boxes went to Madagascar and Zambia, this year they went to Belize and Equador! Very cool!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas!!

Wanted to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and wonderful New Year!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

11:30 pm Dec 22

Think I can crank out TWO pairs of jammies before I go to bed tonight? It's crunch time!

good quote

"When you are struggling with something, look at all the people around you and realize that every single person you see is struggling with something, and to them, it's just as hard as what you're going through."

Nicholas Sparks
(Dear John)

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

tradition or habit

Are we doing things because they are 'traditions' or because they are a habit?

Sunday, December 19, 2010

WAY better than a Hallmark movie...

... and there are some AWESOME Hallmark movies!

I'll admit it I'm a sucker for Hallmark Christmas movies. Last year I think I figured out that the reason Hallmark movies are so wonderful is because they are soooooo unrealistic. I mean really, think about it, there is no stress from everybody needing to be pleased by having everybody around on 'the day.' One side of the story always has a horrible tragedy, their side of the stress has been removed by a death or abandonment or something. Nobody has stress from having to find the perfect gift; as it is always there, and all the shoppers are in a festive mood, polite respectful, helpful, and joyful. (I was out yesterday and that was SOOO not the case!) The small rural town is always saved, the jobless find a job and the hungry are fed and it all goes on and on. Don't get me wrong, if that happened in reality it would be wonderful and the world would be a better place because of it. But it's not real. Reality is stress from the commercialization of it, the stress of having to be everywhere, rude shoppers, an oven that dies while trying to make chex party mix, (yes this happened to us this year) not being able to do something for a loved one because it is just out of reach financially and you are dedicated to making your financial plan work ; which in the long run will ultimately be worth it. Reality is the lack of joy and hope because they are looking for it in the wrong place. It's not found in a store or under a tree. It can be hard to keep the Reason for the season in focus sometimes and in my opinion there is nothing better to celebrate. But as I've said before, it's really about perspective. You can get caught up in the worldliness of it or you can follow the Example of giving.

My sister and I went out yesterday and had a grand time, yes, we were Christmas shopping, but unlike fellow shoppers, we were laughing, giggling and generally speaking, thoroughly enjoying the day. We both love the feeling of Christmas and she enjoys Christmas the way more people should, the way you do as a child. We both love giving at any time of the year, but especially at Christmas, you see, neither of us look for joy or happiness under the tree. Last night we were shopping/laughing and having a great time but needed a drink, laughing is hard work, apparently. So we headed to Starbucks, I got an iced tea and she a mocha something, so we stood there drinking and thinking and talking a young serviceman walked into the lobby and up to the counter. He was carrying a itty bitty car seat all decked out in pink and had a pink diaper bag slung across his chest like it was his M-16. Proud and capable. I stood there for a minute looking at this young man and thought, 'He is exactly who I want defending our great nation.' The strong, quiet, confidence that this young man had said to me he was confident in himself and his abilities to not only guard our nation but would lay down his life for his child... well as mine.

He guarded his daughter proudly and confidently and I was humbled. He pondered his order, placed it and was setting his daughter down to reach for his wallet as I was placing the cash on the counter to pay for his order. He looked at me, shocked that a stranger would do that, a look I returned in admiration. He said to me "Thank you." "No," I said, "Thank you." I smiled and walked away. Now I'm not telling you this to toot my own horn, but to make a point. If I'd been so caught up in the worldliness of the season I would have missed the opportunity to follow the Example of giving, to rail against society's selfishness, to create a Hallmark reality.

Yesterday was exactly what I needed to experience to snap me out of the worldly funk I'd been in; having allowed myself to be sucked in by it; to prepare me for tonight.

I was out making a delivery with my children this afternoon and saw lots of paper bags lining the road leading up to the church. It's the quintessential 'Hallmark' church, very stately with a huge white steeple, swinging french doors in the front, stained glass windows, archways, the works. It's really a beautiful church, not the place I worship, but still beautiful. At first I just thought is was trash, but as I looked up the road I realized it was luminaries lighting the road to the church, they were just being set out to be lit later. I drove past the church and headed down the other side of the hill. Luminaries on that side too. I thought it was a great idea and would look very beautiful after being lit. On the way back from delivery, my children noticed the church was having a candlelight service tonight and asked if we could go. I thought about it for a second and said yes, probably we could. So we made it home and went on about our day, about 6pm we started to get ready, I decided to walk to the church because we live well within walking distance. At 6:30 we; bundled in hats, scarves, boots, jackets, mittens, flashlight, lantern and headlamp; headed out to the service. The moon was nearly full and it was a near cloudless winter sky so the moonlight was reflecting brilliantly on the recent snow which was squeaking beneath our feet as we strolled along. The kids and I walked along our quiet country lane, past the little brook that hasn't quiet frozen solid yet so it bubbled happily in the moonlight, past our neighbors homes where soft light poured through the windows and woodsmoke billowed out the chimneys. We walked along the path through the woods that lead to the church and could see the lights from the stained glass windows and steeple through trees guiding us along. We talked about what a wonderful time we were having and how old fashioned it was.

We walked through the parking lot and saw the luminaries lining the road, saw some of our friends and neighbors heading into the church and stepped across the road to take it all in. (And take pictures of course, but I'll try to post them tomorrow, I cannot upload pics onto this computer.) It was beautiful. We walked back across the road, inside the church foyer, was greeted by a neighbor and headed upstairs to the sanctuary. There were evergreen boughs everywhere, candles flickering in the windows and the pipe organ was pumping out Christmas carols. We found a seat in the old wooden pews, and looked around and waved to friends and neighbors and smiled to those we don't know yet. The service started and was really beautiful.

There is something to be said for worshiping in an extraordinarily beautiful place. So many of the churches that are being built today lack the ornate details and beauty like the old churches are famous for and that make it a fitting place to worship at and I find this trend sad.

I have always loved Christmas candlelight services and went as soon as I was old enough to drive and breaking a family tradition. I've never regretted it. Tonight was no exception. I sat there listening to a version of 'The Holly and the Ivy' being sung by an angel I'm certain. She also played the violin while her dad played the guitar. I have a video too, I cannot wait to share it if it came out well. It was dimly lit, so I'm not sure. After the service ended, we were offered refreshments in the lower part of the church, Andrew was all about this for sure. And Faith wanted to see the violinist. They had a nice spread of crackers and cheese, cookies, and sweets and offered coffee and mulled cider, which was a nice treat before stepping out into the chilly winter evening after chatting with fellow service goers.

We stayed a bit despite the fact we had barn chores to do and it was past bedtime, we stayed because we could and because the fellowship was wonderful and because it was nice to have had my focus redirected to what matters.

Faith and Andrew and I all walked home in the cold, winter, moonlight air and not even Hallmark could have made a more splendid evening, because this was real.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Soap of the Month Club - coming soon!

Stay tuned as we here at From the Country Farm will be starting a soap of the Month Club in January 2011. I am very excited about the positive response to this, details coming soon!

* If you know you are already interested in this contact me at or leave me a comment here and I'll put you on the list!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Red Wiggler Update # 3

It occurred to me the other day that I hadn't checked on the red wigglers in an while, but seeing as they are very low maintenance and I wasn't smelling them I figured we were good. I was correct! I decided to pop open the cover and take a peek and this is what I saw! Black GOLD! This is a job very well done! I didn't have time to remove the castings, so I added more bedding and a bite to eat and gave them a stir and shut the cover. I've been at this for just over a year and I'll tell you it a slow process, but it's worth it and not something that requires any stress or much time. Peel a couple carrots for a salad? Do not put them in the trash, put them in the worm bin, or the pigs bucket, or give them to the chickens, or a treat for the horse or goats, or put them on the compost pile, but for crying out loud, DO NOT throw them away! Unless of course you have none of the above and if that is the case, get one or more! At a later date, when things are slower, I'll harvest the castings and post pics if you're interested, I'm thinking it'll be about the time I do some seed starting!

Friday, December 10, 2010

a wonderful circle

This may come off as a soapbox rant than anything, but I figure those of you who are regulars would see the sentiment behind it.

I've been making soap like crazy for about three years now and every year the variety of scents grows. Most of the ingredients are purchased locally, yes, I could get them for a few dimes cheaper online, but I love the customer service of local businesses. Well I've shipped several boxes of soap this week and last, which means money has been spent here at the farm. So that means another local business has been supported, then tonight I took some of the money and supported another local business when I made my children so happy as I pulled into the parking lot of a Christmas tree farm. I'd say that's a pretty wonderful circle!

Oh! Speaking of customer service.... about a week ago I pulled into the feed store, (the same one I blogged about here) to get more feed, the guys who normally load the feed into the truck greeted me inside the store and knew what feed I was there for! I didn't even have to say what I wanted, to say that I was stunned was an understatement. Maybe caught off guard would be a better description. I appreciate very much when they call me by my first name and not just after I write it on a check or sign a debit card slip, but as I walk into the store, I appreciate that they know my children's names and converse with them and that when my husband goes into the store, despite the fact we've never been in together they know who he is too. But to be able to know what I need to but before I said it was above and beyond just customer service!

Monday, December 6, 2010

it's not going to be a good day tomorrow

On this snowy night as dark settles in on our farm it is with a very heavy heart that I write tonight. I've had a horrible pit in my stomach since the flipped the calendar to December. (Hence the lack of posts.) Tomorrow I'm taking our girls; the pigs to be harvested. The tears are really flowing now. I knew it would hurt when we got them and I knew this would not be easy. One person said to me the other day, "It'll get easier." Well, I don't want it to get easier, I don't want the fact that I am responsible for their lives and deaths to be easier, to feel painless, like it means nothing. I've been entrusted to care for these creatures, their well being depended on me. It was suggested that we get two so they could keep each other company and so I wouldn't get so attached to them. I'm glad we did get two, one would be so lonely as they really are such smart and social creatures but as far as to prevent me not getting attached to them that was unlikely to begin with, I love animals. I know why I'm raising meat, despite the fact that I'm a vegetarian and I'm ok with the end result; it's like ripping off a band-aid after the wound has healed, but tonight the wound is fresh and very raw. I hope I gave them a good life, they seem happy and in the end when it's all said and done I hope while on this earth it was just one bad day they had.

Tomorrow will be a very long day and the kids and I will hurt. Ron is working from home tomorrow to be here so the kids don't have to go with me to drop them off and I'm so thankful for that. So tonight I ask those of you who are of The Faith, if you're so inclined, I'd really be grateful if you'd send up a prayer for us tonight. We are really going to miss our girls.

They've grown a bit...

...and enjoyed a "mar sarge" or two...

...and been 'loved on' a little...
.. and will sincerely be missed...

Wednesday, December 1, 2010