Welcome to our 1864 farmhouse…life is good!


Tuesday, April 2

this, that, & the other thing...

April, how can it be April already?! The promise of spring is in the air, and here on the farm, it's been a time for making plans, catching up with friends, and being filled with anticipation!

Like so many of you, we're preparing for incoming severe weather in the next few hours. Stepping outside is deceiving; I'm greeted with sunshine and birdsong, I've even put some clothes on the line to dry. However; it's best to be prepared...emergency backpacks are put together, firewood is stacked by the door, and other odds & ends are completed that help us feel ready. And who knows, maybe, just maybe, the weather predictions will be wrong!

And so, with those things taken care of, it's time for a quick catch-up; here's the latest...otherwise known as This, That, & The Other Thing!


this- 

is the cute little face of a new cat that's been visiting lately. While still a shy fellow, I'm sure we'll win him over in time. We've named him Barnum...so now we have Barnum & Bailey!



that- 

is the souffled egg sandwich my daughter treated me to on my birthday...it was so delicious! We went to a fun little bakery/coffee shop called Fox in the Snow and had a wonderful time.




& the other thing - 

In my last post, I said that I hoped soon I'd have a surprise to share. Well, it was official right before my birthday. One of my favorite sayings is: Never Stop Making Wishes. That goes for all of us; we're never too old to start something new and chase dreams.

For years I've been a fan of Mary Janes Farm - the books, the magazine, her story.  Now, I'm so happy (okay, tickled, thrilled really!)  to be a little part of the MaryJanesFarm family. 

I'll be joining the other terrific Farmgirl Bloggers - Beach, City, Ranch & Suburban, writing online as the Rural Farmgirl...my first post can be found here. Now, know that I am NOT crazy about having my picture taken, and honestly, I think my daughter took 27 before I found one I kind-of liked - oh well, it was a must for the MaryJanesFarm website, and so, here we go...


  

       


I am so excited to be able to share my love of writing and stories of what's happening here on the farm. Be sure to stop by and read what the other Farmgirl Bloggers are up to in their part of the world...I always find something new to inspire me!

Well, it's getting dark outside and I hear thunder, and so it begins...time to batten down the hatches, as the saying goes.

Wishing you all a good week!






Tuesday, March 19

spring or winter?

Warm or cold? Sun or snow? Mother Nature is quite undecided and up to her old tricks. Last week it was ideal for taking long walks with our dog Bailey. The sun was shining and the days were oh-so warm and breezy. Early evenings meant maybe tossing on a jacket or sweatshirt, but they were still lovely.




Late afternoon drives along the winding country roads were just as nice...cows, goats, sheep, and horses were lazily enjoying their time in the fields and the warmth of the sun. A spinning windmill created a beautiful silhouette against the setting sun.




And then last night it began to snow...you know the kind I mean, those big, fluffy snowflakes that seem to float in slow motion. The ones that drift down ever so slowly that they don't look real.

No, it wasn't a lot of snow, but it was a surprise that brought a quick dip in the temperatures...a 40-degree change from just a few days ago.

Brrr...time to curl up in a cozy blanket, slip on a pair of warm socks, and sip hot chocolate. That's okay with me...it's always good to settle in and relax.




Plans for this week on the farm? I'm still spring cleaning, emptying closets, and tossing unnecessary paperwork with wild abandon! My daughter has two weeks off from the ballet company, so we'll most likely have a few day trips just for fun. 


Soon I hope to have a surprise to share with you...


something I'm so excited about...




Until then, enjoy your week!


Saturday, March 9

bread & Bailey...


It's a gray, rainy day here on the farm, and stepping outside there are chilly winds out of the northwest spinning around me. I move quickly, and once back inside, I'm greeted by the welcoming aroma of baking bread.

My goal for this winter was to become a better bread baker. Not only to sell from the milkhouse, but for my family to enjoy. Oh, how I can remember my grandmother's bread and rolls, and I desperately wish I had her recipe. But you know what? I do think she was probably a "pinch of this, dash of that" kind of baker who didn't use a recipe. Funny, I continue to read that "bread baking is a science" hmmm, maybe not, based on what I remember from my grandmother's kitchen, just maybe it's an art.

Anyway, my bread baking efforts in the past have NOT been art! And so, almost each week I've been trying new recipes, making changes, and then retesting them. So glad my family and neighbors have been willing taste-testers in this goal!

Right now there's a jalapeno-cheddar sourdough loaf in the proofer (first attempt) and I've been working to making a light wheat sourdough similar to one my neighbor tasted at a restaurant. 

Here's a peek at some of the successes - failures have been enjoyed by the backyard bird population!


white


pesto twist


sourdough


light wheat sourdough

chocolate babka

and meet Ivy...
my sourdough starter

They say everyone names their sourdough starter and so I thought, why not, I named my stove Mae! And I'll tell you, she's a 1950 workhorse. 

My plan is to keep testing recipes, although all this bread eating (who can resist warm bread with butter or jam?) will not be good for my waistline. Alas, I'm committed to the cause. And if you have any bread recipes you'd like to share, please do - tried & true are always the best!

So that's the bread part of today's post; now on to the Bailey part. If you haven't  had a chance to read how Bailey came to the farm, you can read up on it here.  



Now, this is a personal opinion only for my personal blog - but one I feel strongly about.

This loving dog, who was found hiding and scared in our barn during the summer of 2020, has become the most sweet & kind addition to this family. Never have I heard her growl or seen her snap or attempt to bite. She is gentle with children, other animals, and can always be found snuggled close to one of us.

Whenever I leave home with her, I go through a little speech in my head, knowing I'll probably need it.

Someone we meet will surely say: 
"Oh, that's a pitbull." 

And I will try to explain, 
"No, she has the markings of an American Staffordshire Terrior." 

I'll most likely hear, "She's a pitbull." 

I will keep trying...
"No, that's a catch-all term for several breeds descended from a Bulldog. She's a Staffy."  

Why try? It's easy to see their minds are already made up without even knowing her.

One day when my daughter and I were on a walk with Bailey, a mother crossed the street with her children in what appeared to be an obvious choice to avoid us. Now, in all fairness, there are also families who come up to us and love to pet her and ask questions.

Here's the thing:
There are so many stigmas surround bulldog breeds...originally bred as working dogs, they are loyal. However; sadly, because of their muscular strength, they began to be used as fighting dogs. 

I've read with interest the articles banning dog breeds, and I have to say I've read nothing more important than the phrase:  Profile by Deed not by Breed

No, I have never been bitten, and the reporting in the news can be horrific. Any dog in the wrong situation has the potential to bite. However; this is an issue not only about dog behavior, but also reflecting human behavior. Some dogs have owners with less than honorable intentions. Again, it is my personal opinion, but banning dogs based solely on their breed is beyond responsible, and euthanasia of dogs based solely on their breed is a different moral discussion altogether. 

 
My friends:

This is what the media wants you to be scared of...






This is what they warn you about...







What is Bailey's background...was she dropped off or did she run away? We'll never know, but I can honestly say, she is truly the sweetest dog I have ever known. 





Wednesday, February 28

oh the fickle weather!

 If I didn't know it was February, yesterday's weather would have me absolutely believing it was April. I woke up to bright, cheery sunshine and a breeze so warm that I found myself opening windows. Before long, the temperature was 67 degrees - unheard of in a month that has an average snowfall of 6-10 inches and is the second snowiest month. 

It was the kind of day that tempts me to forget indoor chores and decide to get my hands and knees dirty tinkering in the garden, plotting and planning on changes to make, while dreaming of sun-kissed tomatoes. Yes, it would have been a terrific jump-start on the garden to-do list, but I resisted.





Yesterday my plan was to finish sorting the computer room closet...and when I say closet, I'm being generous. It's one of those tiny spaces tucked under the stairs in old homes, where the ceiling gradually gets lower and lower - no standing up in the back! And while it's small, and truly, can't hold much, it was certainly overflowing with paperwork. I ended the day with most of it done, happy that on Wednesday I'd wrap it up for certain.




Except that today I'm a bit sluggish...there's nothing like the adrenaline surge from a 5:30 AM Emergency Alert for a Tornado Warning - in February? Shaking the cobwebs out I read the words, "TAKE COVER NOW!" and quickly made a mental checklist: blankets, ID, flashlights, phone chargers, etc. ready to move to the basement? And while we were spared any damage, unfortunately some areas saw winds gusting at 60-110 mph and weren't as fortunate.

And so yesterday's hint of Spring is now long gone...today it is bleak with icy winds finding every way possible inside a house built 160 years ago. Tonight the low is expected to be 21 degrees, but here, surrounded by acres of open fields, it will be colder...I'd say Winter will linger just a bit longer. 




Ahhh February - somehow it seems to teach us patience as it teeters between seasons. 

Well, we might as well make it an event then, I'm planning on toasting marshmallows over the fire tonight - it's always a good time for s'mores! 





Thursday, February 8

Thursday thoughts...


These slow-moving February days...somehow they seem just right for contemplating common sense:





 and nonsense!




Leaving home to run errands can sometimes feel like a change in cultures as we leave behind the pleasant, bucolic scenes of country life,


friendly cows




a fella who has earned the name
Acro-Cat



peaceful sunsets beside the lake.



And head to the "big city"



This week alone we've dodged drivers running red lights, running stop signs, passing on a double-yellow line, and as witnessed above, a truck toting WAY too many pallets (once upon a time we found ourselves in this same scene, and yes, the pallets came off right in front of us.)

Don't get me wrong, there are lovely and exciting things to be found in the city...ballet performances in gorgeous historical buildings, an amazing zoo, a beautiful conservatory with botanical gardens, and the best-ever souffled egg sandwich.

And many times, this saying rings true;



 

Do I dream of faraway places? Sure...the rugged Yorkshire Dales, the beautiful landscapes of Wales, the glacier lakes in New Zealand. However; I have to admit, I'm most comfortable settling in at home. To hear and feel the quiet is calming. 

The familiar sights and sounds remind me, as the saying goes, that "home" is more than where we hang our hats.




I have a feeling that Gladys Taber and I would have been friends!







Wednesday, January 17

brrr!

The sun is shining brightly and the sky is a perfect shade of azure blue; birds are chattering as if to catch up on the latest gossip, and our rooster, Bandito, crows loudly to tell me I'm late in bringing warm mash for breakfast.

Yes, it sounds like a lovely winters day; doesn't it? 

Except that it's 4 degrees and the National Weather Service has issued a High Wind Warning...meaning winds of at least 40 mph with gusts of 58 mph or higher. 

A cutting wind is sweeping strongly across the open fields bringing with it a wind chill of -15. With plunging temperatures and gusty winds, oudoor chores are done quickly with heads bent down against the icy winds that easily cut through a heavy coat, thick gloves, and woolen hat. Water buckets are filled and animals get a hearty breakfast, then it's time to start cars, check the propane level, look for any fallen tree limbs, add to the stack of firewood by the mudroom door, and tie down or move anything that might blow away. 

And while this picture was taken a few years ago, my "stylish" winter apparel never changes:


Stylish? No

Warm? Yes!





Christmas decorations have been tucked away, but I had to share an ornament story...

This little tent was bought years ago as a reminder of all the Cub Scout campouts.




Now, as young kids do, they sweetly felt that the Baby Jesus ornament needed to be inside the tent to stay warm & dry...and so it was.

Look closely inside. 

And there it's remained for many, many years, and always makes me smile.



Something new...this year we celebrated for the first time with Christmas Crackers!  





And to answer a question, searching for the pickle ornament is just for fun. It's an old tradition that is said to have originated in Germany. There are three pickle ornaments hidden on the trees that the kids look for; when they find them, there's a family gift to share. Most years it's a board game, but this year it was Sundae Set, and so Christmas dessert was a variety of ice creams and toppings!




These days I'm spending time sorting and organizing. Winter months just seem to be a good time to take stock of things that need doing...all those things that somehow seem to slip a bit when warm weather calls me outside.






However; I need to remember to make time for more important things than chasing dust bunnies and organizing books. Time for non-stop movie marathons,
 mugs of chocolaty cocoa, snow ice cream, and s'mores in front of the fireplace. 





"Winter is not a season, it's a celebration."

— Anamika Mishra


Monday, January 1

happy new year!

Here's hoping you had a lovely Christmas!

I'm sending wishes for a joyful, peaceful, healthy new year!


                                                      


The days fly...December found us visiting the lights at our local zoo...

      

                                            


and enjoying The Nutcracker ballet in a beautiful old theater built in 1928;
here's the stage:


                                      


and this is the ceiling...lovely!


                                  


We enjoyed secret surprises, ate favorite foods, and as always, had the kids search for the pickle ornament. Something we've done for ages, when they find it, there's an extra gift for all of us to enjoy.



Then December ended with a little mystery.

While now gone, one morning I came upon this in the front yard...





glittering, sparkly, and pink, I have no idea what it was. It was found in a little muddy area under an evergreen tree; I'm definitely stumped!

I don't have any sparkling decorations outside and we don't often walk under that tree. While I tried zooming in, I just couldn't get a clear photo. Then, as if by magic, it was gone.


My guess: holiday faeries or maybe Santa's reindeer?

Your thoughts?!


Here's to 2024...
don't follow your dreams,
CHASE them!





 
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