Welcome to our 1864 farmhouse…life is good!

Friday, December 23

fingers crossed...

It's two days before Christmas and right now I'm settled in by the fireplace having (yet another) mug of hot chocolate. The fire is crackling, which is such a comforting sound, contrasting sharply with the sound of icy, gusty wind that's making the windows in this old house rattle like the rigging on a sailboat caught in a storm. 

I say fingers crossed, because I'm afraid that if I actually say "it", I may jinx myself. Let's just say with a temperature of -8 degrees and a wind chill of -30, I'm so grateful that the Elektron (in Greek) is still on and hasn't even flickered.

Yesterday allowed for just one more chance to check and double-check lists for anything that might need doing, while at the same time my phone continued to alert me of a Winter Storm Warning. Outside I noticed gentle rain showers, as the temperature was still fairly warm at 40 degrees. Then, sure enough, as the evening sun plunged below the horizon, the temperatures plunged with it and flurries danced in the wind. 

Now it's about time for another trip outside to get goats & chickens tucked in for the night. Bailey and I will bundle up head to toe (or for her, head to paw), and while we're certainly not stylish, we'll be as warm as possible and moving as quickly as possible.

And so, just in case we do lose Elektron, I want to wish you a very Merry Christmas. May you be warm, safe, and enjoying this special time of year.

Below is the greeting you'll find on our door, and below it, one of my very
favorite Christmas quotes.

"Children all over the world are eagerly awaiting midnight
and the arrival of Santa Claus.

In a few hours from now, many of you will attend midnight
services in the church of your faith.

It is the Silent Night, the Holy Night, it is the solemn,
thought provoking night that precedes the dawn of another joyful Christmas.

Of the many gifts men cherish most this Christmas Eve,
surely the one all spirits yearn for, is the illusive gift of peace. 

Peace on earth good will toward men, so it was eloquently
phrased in ages past.

May each and every one of you find that abiding peace in
your own hearts this Christmas Eve.

And if enough of us, in enough places, earnestly and bravely
seek out such peace, the world cannot help but heed this
growing desire for lasting good.

So amid all your holiday rejoicing, pause for just a moment,
won't you? To add your silent prayer to the fulfillment
of that great promise:

peace on earth, good will toward men."

-Harold Peary
The Great Gildersleeve radio show, 1940-1954

Monday, December 19

when the weather forecast says...

There's nothing like reading this when skimming the early morning news...



Well, that will get the mind racing! As always, when predictions like this are the leading new story, overnight we'll see grocery shelves become low or completely bare of basic supplies. And while I keep food storage and water on hand, I admit, I do add a few more items to the shelves,
"just in case." 

Living on a farm, there are always extras added to the "to-do" list when the forecast is like this one. Immediately I think of 4 things: food, water, heat, and animal care. 


check food storage, and know that cooking in the fireplace, on a camp stove, or grill is always an option if the power is out.


there are two large tanks in the basement - one 60-gallon and one 30-gallon, both filled with water. Without city water, no power here means the water pump won't run, so no water.


There are 4 cords of firewood in the barn, along with extra wood that could be split if needed. It's time to double-check the kerosene and small propane heaters and generator, and also to see how much fuel is on hand. 

Animal care:

By late October, heat lamps have been secured and heated water buckets are set up. Tarps are also in place to help block cold air. Chickens will get scratch and warm mash to help keep them warm, and goats will get extra feed and grains.

And then there are odds & ends...

plug the outside dryer vent with quilt batting so the washer lines don't freeze in the laundry room (don't forget to run out in the freezing cold to unplug the vent when it's time to dry laundry) 

and run an extra-long, extra-hot dishwasher cycle to help prevent the dishwasher water lines from freezing. Yes, both of these have happened, and the repairs are just too expensive to take a chance and not do them.

Whew, while preparing for Old Man Winter, we're still making ready for Christmas, so I thought I'd share a few photos:

from a favorite prim/antique shop...

I found an 1850-60's Oakleaf Wreath cutter quilt piece 
that was too sweet to pass up

And keeping it real...

this tangled mess is what I discovered when I pulled out the tree lights.
Really? What was I thinking last year?!

The countdown is on friends...I hope you're settled in and cozy surrounded by twinkling lights, candlelight, with your feet up, sipping chocolaty cocoa. 


Sunday, December 11

baking with Mae...

When the December sky is a gun-barrel gray and any warmth from the sunshine is lost behind the thick clouds and blown away by the brisk winds, there is always something that I know will bring me warmth...baking in the farmhouse kitchen. 

Built 158 years ago, I often think back to the many women who prepared meals in this old farmhouse, and as someone who loves history, it's been fun over the years to cook in the kitchen fireplace...an antique tin kitchen/reflector oven makes the best roast turkey! 

But this past week, it was Mae and I who did the baking. Just for fun, I've named some of my vintage items...the little 1963 Camper is Maizy, my road-side find 1956 sewing machine is Fern, and Mae is my 1950 Hotpoint stove. Mae is a big 40-inch-wide workhorse...if you'd like, you can read the story of how she came to the farm here.  With 2 ovens she can bake double what I could before - she's a gem!

Pies were needed for a church get-together, and then I thought I'd try a couple of recipes from my blogging friends.

Staci at Life at Cobble Hill Farm, was kind enough to share her recipe for cranberry-orange biscotti - I've never made biscotti before, but I love the combination of cranberries & orange...it was wonderful!

Not nearly as pretty as Staci's - I need to work on my rolling/cutting skills, but they were oh-so delicious!

Then I wanted to make the sticky ginger cake from Jules at Along the WayExcited to try her recipe, I dusted off my food scale and I was meticulous in converting grams to cups.

However...my apologies Jules. I didn't choose the correct pan size, so I had an overflowing, not-so-pretty loaf. Well, to try and save the day, I used my cookie dough scoop and made sticky ginger balls. Again, not the exact recipe from Jules, but the flavor was amazing and it's a recipe I'll make again (with a larger pan!)

This coming week will find my son home from college for Christmas break...he has a couple more exams and my daughter just completed hers - and so the holidays begin!

In a drafty old country farmhouse on a cold December evening, it's time for me to settle in on this Sunday evening...a cozy blanket, a mug of cocoa, and our local PBS station is showing 3 back-to-back episodes of All Creatures Great and Small...heaven for me!

I'll say goodbye with a photos of Santa on the blue barn shelves and some of my favorite ornaments on the little old-fashioned tree.

...have a good week, friends!

Friday, December 2

on the mend!

A short note to say "Thanks" to all for the sweet get-well messages...COVID has passed, now to get on with the fun of the holiday season!

I'm one who loves tradition...pumpkin carving, decorating the tree, sparklers on the 4th of July. And so to give Thanksgiving and Fall their due, I never put up any Christmas decorations until December 1 - except this year, I did! 

Source: Unknown

I know, I know, it's not like me; however, while preparing for Thanksgiving my daughter thought it would be nice if her brother came home that week and there was holiday sparkle to welcome him...something to help push aside the stresses of freshman year at college and the pressures of mid-term exams. 

What a great idea! Mantels were decorated, wreaths on the doors, greenery draped along the porch, skinny tree positioned in the front window. And you know what? She was right! It added a bit more fun to those few days, and honestly, now the month of December has less things on the "to-do" list. 

Saturday we took our usual trek to the tree farm, the day was gorgeous (and believe me, when it's rainy/muddy/icy/freezing, it is not the magical experience it should be.)  The kids found the prettiest tree and now it's in place with just white lights...when exams are over in a couple of weeks, and we're all together, we'll complete the decorating. 


A couple of years ago I remember reading this:

Christmas is not a competition
of how decorated your house is,
of how perfectly perfect your gifts are,
of how busy your days and nights are,
of how much baking you do,
of how many homemade gifts you can crank out,
of how beautiful your family is (or appears to be).
let's all. 

I've always thought it was one of the best posts I've ever read...you can find it here

And so in an effort to continue to follow that advice, this is what I'm looking at right now...trying to keep it simple while holding onto traditions. 

And so it's the end of another week...I hope you're cozy, feet up, and easing into this wonderful time of year. 

Wednesday, November 23

Thanksgiving week in the Midwest...


A few snapshots of what's happening around the farm...

a gorgeous sunrise,

and lovely sunset, 

spying a vintage corn crib 

old-fashioned corn shocks,

November clouds above the water,

and a little pre-Christmas decorating on my old Hoosier cupboard.

And what else did Thanksgiving week bring us?
(wait for it...)

Let's pull back a little from Santa...
Are those N95 masks?

Why yes, they are! Thanksgiving week has brought us Covid! 

Vaccinated - check
Boosted - check

I can truly say it's the worst I have ever felt. Sunday and Monday are a blur; however, I'm grateful to be bouncing back...pies are in the oven now and homemade bread and sage stuffing will be baking tomorrow morning.

And no, I won't be able to enjoy the heavenly aroma or savor the taste...what cruel Covid symptoms. 

Really...a loss of taste and smell, and it had to be Thanksgiving week? 

And so it goes...there's still the joy of watching the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade followed by the National Dog Show. I love tradition, and settling in with Bailey to enjoy both of those will make the day even better.

Ahhh snuggling with her stuffed pig and egg!

I'm so thankful for your friendships across the miles. Wishing you all a day of peace wherever you may be.

Tuesday, November 8

shifting focus...

In reading your blogs, I'm always inspired by what you're doing wherever you are in the world...all across the United States, to Great Britain, and to New Zealand. Whether it's outings on the fells, cozy family get-togethers at the lake, clever cupboardscapes that change with the seasons, or inspiration for simple living and homesteading, I always learn something new.

All of your wonderful blogs have me now shifting focus, working harder to settle into a more observant phase of life...as the song says,

"Breathe before your breath runs out.
This is life don't miss it." 

Yes, there's always work to do, but there's also a need to enjoy the small & simple things. I remember hearing once that we all get caught up thinking real life is just a little farther down the road...enjoy the season you are in.

As the photos scroll by on my video below, listen closely to the words: the song is Don't Miss It sung by Francesca Battistelli.

You'll see snapshots of life on the farm, the pumpkin patch, snippets from a mother-daughter weekend road trip, and other seemingly small things...

things that are much more important
 than their simplicity might suggest.

Thanks to all of you who inspire me...I wish we were neighbors!

Friday, November 4

Friday freebie!

So on the way to the "big city", I passed a cute little wicker chair on the side of the road...sitting next to a trash can, someone was tossing it out.

"Hmmm" I thought...wheels turning.

Now, I don't normally give roadside trash a second look...except, well I did, (click here) but you have to admit, snagging a free 1956 workhorse of a sewing machine like this was the find of the year!

Anyway, when I passed by a couple days later, it was still there...alas, no time to stop. I'd made up my mind though, if it was sitting there later in the day when I was on my way home, it was mine. 

And it was! I quickly made a bee-line for it...pulled in the drive, popped it in the back of the car, and yay, it was coming home with me!

I added a $2.00 pillow and soon I was smiling at my free find...sitting in the sunshine by the little kitchen garden, she makes me happy. Now, her seat is weak...no sitting in it, but still, she was just too cute to pass up!

So, have you ever found a freebie that was just too good not to come home with you?!

Monday, October 31

merry Hallowe'en!

First, thank you to all those who expressed such kind thoughts and words on my last post as I struggled with a feeling of helplessness...paired with the mounting frustration that our vet would not reply to my calls, or at the very least, have an on-call replacement available. In my eyes, the welfare of an animal should always come before personal niceties...a letter has been sent. While I don't expect a reply, I feel as if I've done all that I can do. And just maybe, he will think twice and return a desperate call from the next client who finds herself in the same situation.

from the cutest little blog on the block!
(Susan Branch - click here)

Hallowe'en...I have to say, I just love it! No, not the gruesome movies or gory costumes, but the old-fashioned fun of carving pumpkins, seeing little ones dressed up as pirates or princesses, a dinner of mummy dogs, along with a 1940's  old-time radio show mystery starring Vincent Price, or even a funny Hallowe'en show with The Great Gildersleve. 

Here's a quick look at this year's pumpkins...the warm, rainy October days have definitely given them the perfect Hallowe'en wrinkles!

A visit to the pumpkin patch on a beautiful blue-skied day...we were welcomed by a terrific pumpkin-colored barn and a cozy spot to sit down and enjoy a little pumpkin tic-tac-toe!

Happy Hallowe'en to all...these days will go by before we know it - enjoy every day of this beautiful, autumn season.

Thursday, October 20

goodbye GB (Goat Boy)...

Over the years, we've learned that there's nothing quite as heartbreaking as having an animal in distress. Realities of farm life, regardless of all the love and laughter our animals bring us, still happen.

About 5:30 Sunday evening, as we were packing the car to take my son back to college after his 4-day fall break, we found our goat GB was down. Immediately I called our vet only to get an answering machine; what? no one on call? There has always been an on-call vet for after hours emergencies. Immediately I began calling all the other local vets...only to reach answering machines, no one noting that they were on-call. All the messages told me to call the large animal vet at our state university. I did, and they could only see GB if I brought him in...he was in no shape to make the hour-plus ride. 

At this point my son needed to leave...he had a project deadline, so he sat with GB for a few minutes, stroking his head, and then we said our goodbyes. As he rode back to college, he continually texted me with names/numbers of people that might be able to help us. We called our 4-H advisor, I called our vet's private number and left a message, then I called the university again.

The university recommended a vet in another county, and so I left a message with him. At this point, about 2 hours had passed. I gathered a blanket, light, phone charger, and sat in the barn next to GB. And yes, if you knew me, you'd know I talked to him and even hummed a tune. In the field behind the barn, I could hear the "yip, yip" of a coyote. Coyote attacks on people are rare, but I wondered if it could sense a sick animal. GB and I were outside along the fence and not tucked safely in the barn...thankfully, before long, the coyote moved on not to be heard again.

It didn't take long for the out-of-town vet to call, and while he couldn't travel the distance to see GB, he was kind enough to try and diagnose the problem over the phone...he taught me how to look for the signs of stroke and bloat, guiding me on what to do based on GB's temperature...if it was high, he listed the medications I would need and he'd walk me through administering them. He listened to GB's breathing over the phone, we used FAMACHA scoring to check the color of his eye mucous membranes, and lastly he let me know how to help GB breathe easier and be comfortable.

Sadly, the end result was I didn't get to take his temperature or roll him on his chest to breathe easier...he was looking to me for help, and my knowledge was limited. The hard truth was, no matter what I did, without an experienced vet beside him, his chances of recovery were slim, and soon I'd lost him.

I covered him up, gathered my things, and came in to call my vet. My voicemail was firm, while I don't expect him to give up his private life, not having an on-call rotation of vets is unheard of. Couldn't a vet we've had a relationship with for nearly 10 years, someone who knows our animals, have the courtesy to walk me through the steps a vet I'd never met before did?  Wouldn't that have been the humane and compassionate thing to do?

I'll be changing vets...my plan is to see if the out-of-town vet will make farm visits. Because he was kind enough to help, he seems like the sort of vet we want caring for our animals. I have a bill to mail to our current vet - he was just out recently to administer vaccines, you can bet there will be a strongly worded letter included with my check. 

Once upon a time I wanted to be a vet...I'd read all 5 of the James Herriot books over and over, and even now, I can pick one up and know exactly where in his stories I am. I dreamed of living in the Yorkshire Dales, traveling the roads he did. I think there's just something about being alone with my thoughts and the sweet animals - a simplicity to it. However, high school classes in Chemistry and Biology were not my strong points, let alone Zoology, Microbiology, and Physics that I knew would be required in college...they would not be challenges I could successfully meet, and I chose another major.

If you're looking for a good series of books to read this winter, I'd suggest James Herriot's All Creatures Great & Small series...this is a link so you can read the books in order, just click here:

We love our animals, they're a part of our family...it's a sweet joy to open our hearts to them, sharing the time together, all the while knowing there will be the pain of loss.  And still, this is my happy place...

Thursday, October 13

sweet rescue farm animals...

There are so many simple pleasures this time of year...the sight of trees filled with blazing colors, the hum of combines in the field gathering the harvest, the feeling of cool breezes making outdoor chores, well, less of a chore! There's the sweet smell of just-delivered hay or the scent of wood smoke, and the delicious aromas of pumpkin bread and pumpkin pies coming from the kitchen. 

Along with all those country pleasures, surely one of the sweetest is just being outdoors. My daughter and I love to take what we call "an adventure road" through the countryside just to see what we'll discover...along the back roads (some we've never been on before) we'll see fields of cattle, sunbathing cats, flocks of chatty ducks, and hillsides filled with sheep, donkeys, or horses. We both share a love of farm animals, often laughing about which ones might fit in our back seat and would the farmer really miss them?!

Recently she found an animal sanctuary that rescues abused, neglected, and abandoned farm animals, and soon we were off to visit during their open barn day...helpful volunteers opened gates and introduced us to the animals, telling us their stories. Some animals were very welcoming of the love we couldn't help but show them, while others were a bit more bashful.

I wanted to share some of their sweet faces with you...from retired race horse Alice to Willie the donkey, and  Moo Moo Lilly the cow, all of these animals have probably seen a lot of things, which makes having their affection so special; it needs to be earned.

Heartfelt thanks to those giving their time, attention, and funds to support these animals. From the volunteers to the farm owners to the vet...as one volunteer told me, "It's a labor of love." 

And while you may not be in the market for a Jersey cow, there are so many loving animals at shelters who need a good home. If you can, visit a shelter...you'll leave with a new best friend. 

Tuesday, September 27

the golden days of autumn...

As September closes and we're on the doorstep of October, there is color everywhere. Not the summery colors we find in geraniums, sunflowers, and daisies, but the colors of fall. Yes, the grass is still green, but mixed in with that green are dark-brown cattails surrounding ponds, farm stands filled with yellow squash, orange pumpkins, golden sweetcorn, and orchards bursting with juicy red apples.

Here in our part of the world, the weather has become, for me, absolutely perfect. Sunshiny days in the 50's to 60's, and nights in the 40's. As October moves closer, we look forward to the wolf moon, bonfires, pumpkin carving, and glowing jack-o'-lanterns in the dark of Halloween night. It's time for warming soups, comfort food, crackling fires, cozy sweaters, and football games.

We are poised on the edge of cold and snow and want to be ready. Days have been spent stacking hay and firewood, cleaning goat and chicken houses, building tables to hold water tanks, counting food storage, cleaning and organizing freezers, and making any last minute repairs. I've been trying to keep myself busy ever since my youngest went to college, and because there's an endless list of things that need doing, I'm throwing myself into the middle of it with wild abandon, as the saying goes!

So while we enjoy the brilliant patchwork of autumn, knowing that a hard winter is most likely ahead, I'm working hard to enjoy the moment I am in. It's time to settle my noisy brain and appreciate the simple pleasures of this season, and savor each moment to the fullest...

beauty found in nature:

signs of harvest:

hay stacked for 
nosy goats and sleepy cats!

A Susan Branch quote says it best
(visit her here for magical inspiration)

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