Do You Miss Home? Part 4 – Winter.

A true child’s story of winter.

When winter finally set in the snow would start.  I am sure we must have had snow-days due to the heavy snowfalls, but I don’t remember them.  I do remember spending almost every daytime second outside.  We didn’t care how cold it was; it didn’t matter.  You know how they dress the kid from A Christmas Story all bundled up – that was how all of us looked every time we went out to play.  My little sister and I would just flop down on the heavy blanket of snow and roll all the way down the hill.  It was a blast and a beautiful memory – even the struggle trying to climb back up to do it all again.

kid in full snowsuit (Yes – we looked EXACTLY like this every winter!)

Christmas was a wondrous time, but winter itself was (still is) my thrill.  Snow drifts would build over six feet high and get a frozen, crusty layer on the top of them.  That was always our snow forts.  We would start hollowing the drifts out and make tunnels, doorways, windows all along the drifts.  As long as the weather stayed freezing, the drifts would stay in that shape from playtime to playtime.

These pics give you the idea. However, we were never such woosies that we had to use portable fire pits. (Mainly because we did not have them back then.)  Oh, and NO DRINKS of any kind.  When we got cold enough, into the house, we would go, and mom always had hot cocoa on the stove waiting.  A bowl of marsh mellow’s on the side, please.

The kids on top of the snowbank are exactly what we looked like.  Not so many trees, more steep rolling hills.  When dad came through the driveway, around the barns and sheds with the tractor and front end blade;  the snow would really pile up on the banks, and then the fun would begin.

old tractor and plow

(Yep, this was like ours but no Quonset, we had a machine shed -bigger than a Quonset – that kept all of our farm equipment.)

We also did not have sleds we had saucers and one huge bad-ass toboggan.  The toboggan held the whole family if we squished together, it was huge!  The saucers were the most fun for us.  Not only did they go downhill the fastest, but they were lighter/easier to lug back up the hill, and could easily be hooked on ropes behind that little tractor and pull us all over the place.  Our large field off the yards and gardens was our favorite.  Plenty of room to swing way out when sledding.  Think of water skiing only sitting down on a big metal saucer (yes, our original ones were metal – never grab without gloves metal), hanging onto the heavy rope handle that was tied to the tractor.  Dad’s job: Take corners fast enough to swing us wide and try to dump us off our sleds – happened every time.  Dad 3, daughters 0.

Kids saucer-plastic      This is a new version of our old favorite, and yes, if I had the opportunity to try one today – I would!

kids saucer-metal   This one is almost exactly like ours – but no tow-rope or connectors for it, and the handles were a heavier rope type, not floppy like these nylon-cloth ones.  Man, could it fly down the fields and across the snow!  Think about your car sliding around on icy roads.  That would be us only laughing about it all the way.

When it gets right down to it, I still believe that winter is my favorite of the seasons.  The others have their merits, but winter is:

  • Family
    • Christmas
      • Fun
        • Warmth
          • Sharing
            • Playing
              • HOME

Tis the season to remind us that snow is here specifically for the kid in us all.

winter-time for home

(Oh, and a Merry Christmas to all!)

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DO YOU MISS HOME? Part 2 – Summer.

In keeping with my fond memories of what our home was like, I move on to the next season.

Summers were filled with running amok.  Dad was one of those “real dad” type guys.  When it came to my baby sister, maybe too much so.  He tried very hard to make sure we had all that we needed and more.

We had horses, eighty acres to ride them on, and very wild imaginations.  Dad also got to know our neighbor with fantastic woods, so we could ride their lane when we needed a different scene for our imaginations.

We played at a pretend secluded cabin in the woods.  The horses were placed in a make-shift corral we made from downed logs. The fact that they were downed, to begin with, should have been a hint to us.  On more than one occasion the beasties got lose.  They, of course, were intelligent enough to head straight back to the farm where they are well fed.  We, of course, never learned not to do that.  Grumbling and walking all the way back to the farm became a, several times a week, task.  The best part is we would do the same stupid stuff every summer.  Ride the horses into the woods, slap them into a make-shift coral, and expect them to just stay in the rickety thing – duh.

While in the woods, we would dream of hunting and fishing for our meals.  A branch of the Milwaukee River broke through our back fourty and again at the end of the neighbor’s woods.  There were turtles, frogs, and great eating fish in that stream.  Sometimes we would actually go fishing, but most times we just caught turtles and frogs to play with.

kids playing in creekThis reminds me of our pond.  It was only there in the first part of summer as it was created from winter snowmelt.  No fish, no turtles, some frogs, but lots of blood-suckers.  The first couple of years we didn’t think about it.  If the day was hot and we were not riding the horses, we would chase them into the pond and grab onto their tales.  I still remember the feeling of being dragged through the cool water.

If we were riding, my younger sister had to make sure to stay AWAY from the pond.  If she allowed the horse to get into the water up to its knees, the darn thing would drop and roll on her.  At first, I thought it was just the one horse.  But she had a couple of others after that one, and they did the same thing. Now, I know it was just their way of getting rid of her.  Don’t worry; she never got hurt when they flipped.  I felt sorrier for the horses, as she would catch up with them and punch them in the nose (ya, like that would hurt the horse?) for dumping her.

One exceptionally warm summer the pond was still up in July.  The only reason I remember this is because of the blood-suckers (leeches).  We (our cousins and my younger sister) all decided to go for a dip because of the heat.  It started out fun, then my sister came up out of the water in her bikini and had blood-suckers all over her belly.  We freaked out and started whacking her stomach to get them off.  Eventually, it worked, but her belly was red for the rest of the day.  Mom banned us from the pond the rest of that summer.

leech picture

As the summer waned, mom would get the Aldens Catalog (a mail-order Sears-type catalog) in the mail.  We would all gather together to go through it and pick out our school clothes for the upcoming school year.  A few weeks later we would come home from riding horses all day to find several large packages piled on the dining room table.  It was like an early Christmas!  We couldn’t wait to rip them open and try them all on.  Then the hard part was trying to decide what to wear on the first day of school.

This also marked the end of all our summer fun and the start of fall school year – bummer.

aldens catalog pic

Tis the season for reminding siblings that revenge is sweet.

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DO YOU MISS HOME? Part 1 – Spring.

I am not talking about where you may live now. I am talking about that feeling of home you got when you were young. This time of year, I get very homesick for those fond family home memories.

I decided that my way to handle it this year is to share a bit of my Wisconsin home life from back in the 1960’s. I will be posting “Spring” today. Then over the next 10 days, I will share, Summer, Fall, and Winter (just in time for the Christmas). I hope you will enjoy my memories and share some of your own.

Maybe I was just very blessed to have the childhood I had.  Sure, some bad things happened, but you get up, get over it, and get on with life.  One of my little sister’s fav saying is:
“Ya just need to pull up your big girl panties and move on already.”

My home life, compared to others, apparently was outstanding!
Spring on the farm meant:
• Picking Rock
• Planting the fields.
• The beginning of hay season.
• Planting the family garden.
• Catching tadpoles, baby turtles, and whatever else we would get away with.
• The end of the school year and the beginning of the summer fun days.
I bet a bunch of you stopped at the “picking rock” statement. You need to understand the big picture here. So, here goes:

A big, strapping, dark haired, blue eyed, father of three daughters. The daughter’s ages roughly four, six, and eleven. Three girls that, through the grace of their mother, were each blessed with a very warped sense of humor.

The youngest, being too small to actually pick up most of the rocks, was harnessed with the task of driving the tractor. I specifically say harnessed because she was. It was just a small Massey Ferguson tractor, but she was still too little to reach the pedals or do anything more than drive it in a straight line. Dad strapped a block of wood to her foot to reach the pedal to stop, and then tied her into the seat so she wouldn’t slip off. He had her stomp on the clutch to stop the tractor; he would put it in gear at the very lowest speed, and away she went. It only took her about three tries of popping the clutch and killing the motor, but she finally got a feel for it. Then the fun began.

old fashioned rock picking(Ok this pic is a bit before my time, but you get the idea. We did not have cell phones or cameras in the field while picking rock. But rocks this big were occasionally dug up.)
She, on the tractor, was to simply pull the flatbed wagon in a straight line down the field. Keep in mind this is the slowest speed so the three of us could walk along, pick up the big rock, and place it on the wagon (FYI, our mom had one of the best rock gardens around by the time we sold the farm). Dad would get the biggest rocks. My elder sister the next size down. My job was to pick up anything that would not fit through the plow tines. No problem – right? Wrong.
My little Speed Racer sister on the tractor was getting bored. She started watching us picking up the rocks. The first time she pulled the stunt, it was on me. I had found a larger than my normal size rock. It was a bugger just to get it out of the ground, never-the-less me pick it up, but I did it. I was struggling to get it to the wagon. Speed Racer’s job was to stop the tractor when she saw we were having a hard time with any rocks. A major part of her task was to give us time to unload it.

She saw I was struggling.

She stopped.

I approached the wagon and lifted my monster to place it on the wagon and…

She took her foot off the clutch and lurched forward.

I dropped the rock on the ground (missing my foot by inches.).

kid picking up big rock

Dad, who of course had been watching the whole thing was trying to reprimand Speed Racer, but could not stop laughing long enough to get the words out. This became a family tradition.
Up until the day we sold the farm, Speed Racer got to drive the tractor, we got to load the rocks, and I was forced to chase a wagon every spring picking season.
Even though this “tradition” was not one of my favorites at the time, I remember it very fondly today.
I hope you join me for my next post so we can visit our family summer traditions.

Tis the season for reminding siblings who is the boss. 

(When I figure out who it is, I will let you know.)

dancing kittens-saved

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PLOWSHARE THURSDAY – NOVEMBER 16, 2017

Today I am not endorsing any specific idea or product.  Today I have decided to do something a bit different.  My Grandson decided, all by himself, that he wanted to gather up some of our leaves.  Not to help me mind you, but to help himself.  He said they were getting in his way.  So he grabbed one of our leaf rakes (at least he grabbed the right kind), and began wrestling with it and the leaves.  So, to pay homage to the poor rake because he beat the snot out of it:

An Ode to the Humble Rake.

(Please sing to the music of Moon River.)

Humble rake, ever you’re on call,

Always in the fall, you’re used.

You leaf raker, my heart breaker,

Forever the one, the one that I choose.

 

Two huge trees, litter up the ground,

There’s such a lot of ground to see.

We’re after the same goal my friend, rakin’ up the bend,

My gardens you help tend, Humble Rake and me.

Today’s Plowshare is simply to acknowledge that the leaf rake is one of the most used, and abused items in our gardening armory.  My Grandson was a bit overwhelmed by all the leaves and quit after only an hour.  I found the rake, on the porch, leaning against the house like this:

our leaf rake after N done

I hope that my share today will help you to appreciate your poor gardening tools.  They do so much for us and ask so little.

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HOW DID I MISS THIS SEASON?

I have discovered that there is a third season.

• First, there is planting season, which is on and off all year long.
• The second was school season, which is only from around the first of September until the end of May.
• Now I have realized that I have a third season. We are getting our first snow of the season which turned on all my crafting switches, so – IT’S CRAFTING SEASON.

DSC_0048    (This is one of many I have on Etsy.)

I truly hope that everyone who is reading this has their own crafting passion. It is something that no one should be without. It is one of the few things in life that brings me enormous amounts of pleasure, especially when I can give something I made to someone else.
I have known for decades that I am a craft-a-holic. I may slack off on it sometimes as the other seasons will take precedence. When we have to get things in the ground, or process foods, that must come first, or we will have nothing. When it is time to start school, supplies, clothes, and all other school things must take precedence. When it comes to crafting season – colder weather gives it the precedence.

il_570xN.854844369_id2v

(Hand crochet crown choker cowl with deep bronze Swarovski jewels.)

Childhood on the farm in Wisconsin as a kid was forever fun. The huge snowbanks, ice skating on the pond, sledding with family and friends down our hills (and we had come goodies), and the warmth of shedding the snow-covered exterior layers of clothes on the porch, to go in for hot chocolate by the heaters. Thank goodness we had a huge, cement floor, porch. It had a large hanging rack just inside the door where everything outside was hung to drip and dry. Since it was a cement floor, it was easy to mop up the mess as it melted.

  • Even as I kid, I was always making things(Fair warning – some of this you may find gross.):
    • Snowmen and snow forts.
    • During the summer it was wonderful weed and grain pies from piles of cow poo (ewe-yucky but great fun to play in when we were kids).
    • Using fallen tree branches to make horse pens way out in the woods. This may not have been the smartest idea since we were at least a mile away from home, and the horses always broke out of it. They were the smart ones. They always knew to run back to the barn where they got grained. We would have to walk back.
    • The walking back also led to crafting ideas. Picking up leaves, twigs, dead things, and occasionally live things and bringing it all back to the house to make something.

    • The frog eggs led to frogs lose all over that wonderful cement porch.
    • The turtle led to turtle eggs, which led to the pet raccoon eating the turtle eggs and us having to take the turtle back to the river – boo hoo.
    • All leaves, feathers, odds, and ends, were always transformed into mega messy glue works of art (mom loved, dad questioned and laughed).

So, in conclusion, I believe that this is my most favorite time of the year. When the crafting bug hits me this hard, I just can’t wait to see who I get to gift too next.
Happy first snowfall everyone!

DSC_0006

(Simple knit ultra-warm hat. You can also see that I have so many different yarn things now they are just piled up on the table. Oh, and can you find the cat snuggled in it all? And yes, the cat chewed off the nose of my head display – stop laughing – LOL – if you can cuz I can’t.)
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HOW DANGEROUS IS YOUR GARDENING?

This question came up while I was driving by a farmer the other day.  He was out on one of their huge new-fangled tractors (you know, the kind with the cab over it for heating and A/C), with the strangest thing I ever saw behind it.

My father’s influence made me pull over and watch it for a bit.  He is long gone now, but I still look at all the newest farm stuff with him in mind.  The thing behind the tractor, at first, looked like a normal plow – no way.  It turned out to be anything but “normal” in my eyes.

(ours – pretty close anyway)                     (the newbies)

We used to have to take wide swatches when we plowed because it was not easy or safe to turn a tractor pulling any heavy equipment in tight formation.  So, the common practice was to begin in the center of the field, plow through it and along the far side bottom to the farthest corner.  Turn and plow up to the top, across the top, then go back down next to the row you first created.  You simply drove in a type of rectangle/circle formation moving one row over each time until you got back to the gate where you entered the field.  It worked perfectly fine.

Well, this new creation would have made my cousin squeal with joy.  Before he even got his drivers license, he was elected (pretty sure he didn’t volunteer for the job) to plow up one of our fields.  He was kind of cocky so when he got the general gist of the project he took off.

We happened to be riding along the lane next to the field when it happened.  He was going too fast and not paying attention to the plow in the back.  Took a corner too fast and too tight, and the tractor wheel got caught in the plow and lifted the front end of the tractor right up off the ground.  Luckily he was so scared and shook up that he took his foot off the peddles too fast, and the tractor quit right there.  He could not get it all undone by hand and had to go, teary-eyed, back up to the house for dad’s help.

I am glad I was there to see it. However, this new-fangled plow would never do that.  The farmer had some type of hydraulic system that actually picked up the plow into the air, flipped it around, and set it back down.  He was able to go whipping back-and-forth, up-and-down through the whole field with barely slowing down – AMAZING!

Pretty sure my dad is in heaven somewhere, wetting himself, watching me watching that.

angel dad humor

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SEASON TWO – WOO HOO!!

It’s time for the next game-plan here on our little slice of heaven – food season!

The grandson started school this week. Therefore I now have more time to spend on/in the gardens (can you hear me jumping for joy?!).

First thing I am working on is revamping the greenhouse.  It’s been going well for the last five years, but it’s time for some improvements, at least I hope they will be in the long run.

  1. Tomato Racks: We have tried a number of ways to work with our tomatoes to get the best results:
    1. Wire tomato cages – not good in the greenhouse. The weather in there makes the cages fall apart after only a couple of years.
    2. We took an idea from our local Corp. Hydroponic Tomato Plant. They “hang” their tomatoes on long lines.  Once I understood the necessity of trimming off lower branches and useless branches, hanging seemed like a great idea.  Nope, the ropes disintegrated, and wires cut the stalks.
    3. Let them lay where they will. VERY WRONG IDEA!  Yes, we had tons of tomatoes, but we could not find most of them until too late.  Either they would rot or get stepped on.  Unless we could see them, we would lose them (and we lost too many for our liking!).
    4. Now we think we have a solution – a wooden rack:

 

So far, so good!  The only issue we have is that I thought of it too late.  The tomatoes in the background (pic on the left shows best – the walkway disappeared – hee hee), are how long and bushy we are already.

We had to go on one row/side of the plot and flip all the branches over to the other side.  Then we installed the rack.  Once in place, we very delicately found each vine and hung it on the rack.  There is a metal field fence (has 4”x4” squares to it) piece attached to the wooden rack for us to build the vines on.

They went into a bit of shock right after propping up; however, it has been about two weeks now, and they are starting to bounce back.  During the whole time, we had plenty of tomatoes.  We had enough that we can begin our barter time:

  • Eggs for tomatoes.
  • Squash for tomatoes
  • Fruit for tomatoes
  • Even got a new thermostat on the truck for a loaf of bread and a bunch of tomatoes (tiny eaters and large sandwich type).

We hope to have the three racks installed in that row by the end of the month (mid-September at the latest).  The front faces west which is our most intense heat.  This leaves the east side in full to partial shade by mid-afternoon.  Carrots, lettuce, spinach are going in there.  We are also building frames to go over the racks for extra cover on really cold nights.  One other year we had tomatoes through Christmas. Hope we can do that again this year.  Fresh tomatoes make such a great gift!

Happy gardening!!

(If you enjoyed this bit of humor, please feel free to visit my latest blog: Life Lessons Lived  to get more laughter in your life!)

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I NOW REALIZE THERE ARE ONLY 2 SEASONS!

I used to have the normal four seasons: Spring, Summer, Fall, and Winter. Well, not anymore. At least, not since I took custody of my 8-year old Grandson. My new “two” seasons are just:

SCHOOL SEASON

go to recess when

– AND –
FOOD SEASON

School season is obvious to anyone that is a parent or guardian. When the kids go back to school, I have so much more time for “me” activities. The only bummer is that never seems to be enough time! My biggest problem is that we live in the country, but my grandson cannot ride the bus (older kids picking on him).  This means I must take and pick him up.  If he were on the bus that would give me at least one more hour of “me” time and I would not have to drop-and-run.

The “food season” is different. It starts about January with seed/plant selections. We go through all of our saved seeds, plot planning preps, and start designing what we would like where this growing year.

Once selections are made and purchased (as needed), then comes the seed starting – end of January to first of March. This includes figuring out where to put all of them as they grow. Starting is always in trays – easy!

Then they start getting big (sometimes too fast for us to keep up) and need to be transplanted. This is the next decision…

  • Pots for repotting
    • Newspaper,
    • Cardboard, etc.
  • Pots for repurposing – plant to be removed before going in ground.

Once every one gets big enough and weather (which is another tricky situation) permits, it’s time to move everyone (notice how I call my plants “everyone”!?) to their permanent home. Outside gardens, front yard, greenhouse, trellis or special garden helpers required? That’s just some of the decisions that need to be resolved.
Right now everyone is starting to put out “food” which means we now have to start processing. Wouldn’t you know that the most important parts of the food season also seem to fall in the off-school season!

  • We have time now for picking and eating.
    • Picking and freezing.
      • Picking and eating more.
        • Picking and dehydrating.
          • Picking and eating more.

(I’m sure you get the picture here! If I do not process it fast enough, it gets eaten before I can store it – LOL!)

Soon we will have to break out the “big-guns” and get the pressure canner and hot water bath set up running. By the time that starts, the kid should be back in school. Oh, but the Holidays are just around the corner, and I only have a fraction of the gifts made – grrr!
Somewhere in all this mess of the two seasons, I manage to find time to write (like now), knit, crochet, make cards, sew. Now I have picked up a couple of new crafts to add to my confusion – beading and punch needle (ahhh – more Christmas gifts to give – wooo hooo!!).

Since the grandson is just as important to me as the food season is, I guess I will just have to deal! Happily, I hope (FYI – I am listening to Christmas music while I am writing this – I am such a sicko!)

christmas therapy

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FFF-FRIDAY – WOO HOO!!! Have you seen the signs?

It’s time to prepare! 

Have you seen the signs? 

There are many out there: (please do NOT click on the links until the very end-thank you.)

Cicadapocalypse: What you need to know.

Snakes found hunting in packs.

These two were just in today’s email information.  Then there are the other signs:

What is a supermoon?

Are you ready? 

Are you prepared?

Are you ready to handle the worst signs yet?  Hold on to your butts:

  died fighting  (Tried posting this at the edges of my gardens as a warning sign for our birds…this is what I got in return:

ckn kickn leaves

Then I received a sign from the rooster:

ck terror human

I really got worried when they ganged up on me and employed music to terrorize me:

ckn bach bach

 

When all else failed they came at me with this:

best hen house

FINALLY – I saw the signs!  Not happy about them – ok, and a bit scared, but definitely not happy!  Dang chickens.

 

WHY?

I have found the answer to the world’s oldest question.

WHY DID…

chicken 1

THE CHICKEN…

chicken 6

CROSS…

chicken 2

THE ROAD?

chicken 5

To run over and steal all the wonderful worms from my gardens as I work!

chicken 3

Hiding behind the garlic grasses will not save you from my wrath bird!

chicken 4

I swear if you girls were not laying 6+ eggs a day you would be freezer meat! (I still have about a dozen other birds you know?!?  And they are staying OUT of my gardens!)

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