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!)

You can also check me out on:  www.lifelessonslived.com for all the fun things I have learned in life.

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TURKEYS – WHO KNEW?

I just love when I stumble across something that I did not know before.  Anyone after the age of fifty can relate to this.  I love learning, so it is a pleasant surprise when something like this happens:

MMN.COM – Turkey Facts You Didn’t Know.

They actually have things that I had never even thought to think about before…

  • Where and how the turkey got its name.
  • Ben Franklin did not suggest the turkey as our national bird (this one threw me!).
  • And this one just is not right – You can tell male from female by its poop?!? (No, we had/have turkeys, and I NEVER checked this out. I can tell male from female just by looking at the bird.) What I want to know is who discovered this and why?
  • I never knew it was called a “snood” – the thinking on the top of their beak. I have seen the males get quite long when they are excited.  Hint, dead give-away it’s a male.

They listed other little factoids, but I knew all the rest.  You may find them interesting if you have never been around a domestic turkey.  Oh, and a been there-done that word or caution: YES, THEY CAN BE VERY MEAN!  Then again so can a rooster.  We had a rooster that would purposely hide behind anything the minute he heard my daughter’s voice.  When she got close enough he would come charging out at her, head down, wings flailing, and ready to throw spurs first into her legs.  Scary, but I burst out laughing every time because he never bothered me.  Could be because he came at me once, I kicked him and told him he would be freezer meat if he didn’t knock it off.  He never tried to attack me again.

We had one turkey, Whiskey was his name, and he would follow me around everywhere outside.  The first time I sat up in the garden after weeding away and found him squatting behind me, it freaked me out a bit.  Then it dawned on me that we raised almost all of our birds from babies.  He was one, and so I was kind of his mom.

My daughter was afraid of him too.  Not because he would try to attack her, but because he was big and scary when he would “fluff” (as we called it).  Males get all poofy, the tail feathers go up and spread out, the snood gets huge, long and droopy, and their whole body seems to swell up with pride in themselves.  Then they make this weird puffing noise (This site: http://www.wideopenspaces.com/sounds-turkeys-make-and-what-they-all-mean/ provides all the different sounds.  The cluck is the closest to what it sounds like.) while they follow you.  I just wrote it off as having too much air from being all puffed up like a balloon.

This lovely Thanksgiving Day, make sure you give thanks to this wonderful bird.  They are a real wonder of nature – like how can something that fat get all the way up in a tree?

(These two are wild ones.)

Whiskey with guinea

(This was our prize – Whiskey.  Oh, and if you read the full article, it mentions Guinea Birds in Turkey.  That is what the white bird is behind him.  Close up they have the head of a dinosaur.)

ARE YOU ALWAYS LOOKING FOR MORE?

I grew up on a farm, moved to the big city of Denver for 20 years, then choose to move back to farm life in 2000. City life is (and was) great fun – however – just not for me. I found I was always looking for more.
I do not hate big city life; there is much to be had there. It is still a lot of fun to go back and see all the unique things it offers – museums – zoos – specialty shows (Stock Show just came through) – and all the little out-of-the-way spots I know. The problem, the thrill is gone.
Don’t get me wrong; I loved living in Denver when I was young and unattached. My gal pals and I used to go out every weekend. Dancing and shooting pool were my most favorite activities back then. I was pretty good at both (ok, maybe not so much on the dancing side – but I did win a lot of trophies for shooting pool.) The stories I could tell of those younger days, but then I don’t want to keep you up at night.

pool-trophy

My thrill now is the farm and all the wonders it shows me. I was watering in the greenhouse yesterday and found a baby Praying Mantis – WOW! Here I thought it was too early for my cuties to be out and about? She was very tiny – but alive and well. We do not heat the whole greenhouse in the winter, just a part of the herbs and our ever-bearing strawberries. She was playing in with the strawberries (smart girl!).

bb-praying-mantis
The latest newbie came in an email I received from Farmers Almanac is regarding today – Groundhogs day. There is a special section that states this day was originally called Candlemas Day – this is something new to me:

For as the sun shines on Candlemas Day,
So far the snow will swirl until May;
For as the snow blows on Candlemas Day,
So far will the sun shine before May.

I do not know where this little quote came from (folklore they say) but I just fell in love with it. This is part of the fun of living on a small farm. I get to take a moment and enjoy these little oddities. I took a moment to do some digging and found that this is a traditional Christian festival that commemorated the ritual purification of Mary forty days after Jesus’ birth. I am a Christian, and I never knew this. Without the internet and the wonderful people at Farmers Almanac, I might never have known this!
The farm has so much to offer, and there is something new at least once a week (sometimes once a day). This date – February 2nd – will now hold a stronger meaning for me. When my January’s get to overloaded (like this last one has been), I will make it a point to place the phrase “Candlemas” on my calendars. This will be my hint to myself to seek out something out-of-the-norm new. So here are some more bits of obscure facts I found for this day:
• It is also called the Festival Day of the Candles, from the past when there was no electric for lighting. A year’s supply of candles was blessed on this day for the church.
• Candles, symbolic for Christians, are to remind us of Jesus – The light of the world.
• Midpoint of winter – half way between the spring and winter equinoxes.
• Folklore again, stated the Christmas season lasted 40-days – until February 2nd.
• Another lovely old saying: “The Snowdrop (we have these on the farm), in the purest white array, First rears her head on Candlemas Day.”

snowdrop-flowers-2

• This is also the day for you procrastinators to put away your Christmas ornaments.

The next one’s to look forward to will be Valentine’s day (yes, I do know about this one) and Kissing Friday (see, here’s another I know nothing of – gasp!), alas, this one ended in the 1940’s boo hoo!

prarie-dogs-kissing

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HOW TO SAVE MONEY AND NOT KNOW IT?

I found out a nice little secret idea. Forget about it! Yep, this is my secret to saving money. Here’s the story:
In 2014 most of you read that we had the house fire. During the months that followed, tons of wonderful people (a bunch that we didn’t even know?!) were sharing things with us. They gave us clothes, toys, furniture, money and gift cards. Well, we were getting so many gift cards that I had to come up with some type of organization system for them. Some needed to be used up immediately after the fire (clothes, grooming supplies, etc.) but some would not be used until we had our home back (food, namely for the pantry and freezer. My method was to put them all in a small metal box that a friend gave me for crafting. It was about the size of a 3×5 index card. I purchased an index card alphabet file and stuck it in the box. Now I could place each of the cards under the appropriate section – smart right…maybe?!

gift-cards

It has been almost three years since that fire. When I was cleaning some stuff up, I found the box. First instinct was to shake it (have no clue why I did that – duh!) and it made noise, so I opened it. The individual file cards were still in there, so I decided to check it one more time. SURPRISE….two Safeway grocery cards!! WOO HOO – even better was when I called on them to find out they had not lost any value! We started the first of our new year with $150 to spend on groceries – yea!!!
Once upon a time, I carried a Safeway savings card, but for the life of me could not find it now (figures). We got to the store and the first thing I did was sign up for a new card – machine was broken (figures again – yes, I am giggling at myself now). The nice lady in the booth did tell me that the card would work just fine but to try to register on the machine next time I come in. Now, I remember thinking to myself “Sure I will – not – I very seldom go to Safeway to shop since it is more expensive UNLESS you have their card – which I hate deeply!”
I took the card, caught up with my sister and grandson, and we continued to shop. The cart kept getting more and more full – got me a bit worried. We could not afford $300 worth of food at that moment and really did not need that much. Our last stop was at the deli at which point my sister and I decided; there was enough food in the cart to not hit up the deli.
Time for the damages!
My sister and grandson were unloading while I grabbed my new Club Card and the two gift cards. I also took out my checkbook waiting to see how bad the damages were. The cashier kept sliding foods; the little dinger kept dinging, the total kept growing on the screen. I had shown her the new club card and the two gift cards before she started, now she was asking for them.
She scanned the first – $50 off. Then the second $100 off. Then the club card…the dinger kept dinging. The noises stopped, and she announced to me:
“Your total is .75¢.”
I am sure the look on my face was shocking enough to scare a ghost – I thought I heard her wrong, so I said: “HOW MUCH?” (yes, my voice did get louder here!) To which she replied the same –
“Your total is .75¢.” (This time with a really big grin on her face!)
I stood there stunned for a moment, then glanced over at my sister who was now starting to giggle a bit. I calmly dug into my purse and pulled out a one dollar bill and handed it to the cashier. The gal waiting in line behind me leaned over and said: “Can I shop with you next time?” At this point, we were all laughing. Two more people behind her also requested to shop with me.
So now, the family pick-me-up motto for this year is “only 75 cents, ” and anytime we feel a bit stressed, one of us will look at the other, say “only 75 cents,” and start laughing! Over $200 worth of groceries for .75¢ – can’t beat that way to save!
Well, I have told my sister that I am going to try this for 2017 Christmas time. I am going to pick up a gift card (Walmart too) and every time I shop in that store, add $10-$20 to the card. Then just shove it back into my purse for “saving” purposes. I will try to remember to share with you, toward the end of this year, if this worked or not. Wish me luck! I don’t think it will be as nice a surprise as this Safeway visit was, but it may just make my Christmas shopping easier!
( I got the idea to share this story with you from a fellow blogger’s 2016 resolution: https://achatovercoffee.com/2016/12/31/new-years-goals-stash-some-cash/ She also has a pretty good sense of humor and shares some great ideas on her home improvements. Check her out if you get a minute!)
merry-christmas    to me in 2017???

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AM I REALLY THANKFUL FOR THIS?

  1. 1. MY HEALTH: Who am I kidding – it sucks! My sister has started with the nick-name of Bionic Woman – ha ha ha – not funny! Almost all of my major joints (shoulders, knees) have been replaced with metal, plastic, and pins. My grandson gets a huge kick out of the knees when they pop out of joint (yes it hurts). You can see and feel it, and it goes “thunk” when it pops back in. He gets a great giggle out of it.
  2. MY FAMILY: They are all still here – THAT’S A GOOD THING MARTHA!! I am glad for that – I think? I have not been picked on for a while, makes me worry. One of our biggest family motto’s is: If we don’t pick on you, we don’t like you. It’s true. We grew up with very humorous, sarcastic parents and it rubbed off on all of us. Every year for Christmas, someone gets something that is a slam.
  3. MY FRIENDS: Actually, I feel sorry for them. We treat most of them AS family, so they get the same bashing – woo hoo! I hope they all know that we are always there the minute they need anything! They have been there for us during our darkest hours, and I would not trade them for anything in the world (oh man, got sappy when I was not going to do it – grr hee hee)
  4. MY FINANCES: hahahahahahahahahahahaha…AND THAT’S ALL I HAVE TO SAY ABOUT THAT!
  5. OUR LIFE ON THE FARM: Where do I start? Oh yes – here goes:
    a. The break in one of our hydrant lines that has apparently been leaking for over a year now. At least we did figure out when one it was and that it was happening:
    b. The coyotes that just absconded with 3 of our chickens (so I guess they get Thanksgiving Dinner too – jerks!).
    c. The chickens that are molting. Down to about two eggs a day from, what was, about a dozen a day. Hey, at least we are still getting them!
    d. The freezer full of meat. This was due to the generosity of Sida. Side-a-beef that is. He was the property of the guy that leases our big field. He had come of age (and size) that it was time to provide for those that provided for him. Grass and grain fed. All natural. Yummy!
    e. The mild weather – NOT! This just is not right. Eighty degrees yesterday?? This is not my wonderful fall! This is also making everything really dry – double grr! By this time of year, we should have had at least a couple of rain or snow falls. Our rain barrels are empty.

Well, that about covers it for this Thanksgiving. Can’t wait to see what the new year will bring – OH JOY!

jim-carrey-happy-dance

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WHY ARE THERE NO THANKSGIVING SONGS?

I have been digging around, and this is all I found:

1. Food, Glorious Food from the movie Oliver (yes – they consider this a TG song??)
2. Count Your Blessing Instead of Sheep – from the movie White Christmas (Christmas – Hello!?)
3. Funny Thanksgiving Song “Thanksgiving Overture” (done to William Tell Overture – it is funny!)
4. Thanksgiving Prayer by Johnny Cash (this one is a REAL TG song – yeah!!)
5. Thanksgiving Song by Mary Chapin Carpenter (love this one – beautiful!!)
6. My Favorite Things – by Julie Andres from the Sound of Music movie (sort of counts?)
7. Over the River and Through the Woods. Some try to say this is a TG song, sorry but I really think this one is more of a Christmas (especially since they use the words “Merry Christmas” in the song – DUH!)
8. This is a true Thanksgiving song and happens to be one of my favorites: Thanksgiving Song by Adam Sandler.
9. What a Wonderful World by Louis Armstrong. This is also one of my favs, but I use it in many, many more circumstances than just Thanksgiving.

Well, you can only listen to these few songs so many times before you crack! So I am turning to old-fashioned Christmas songs to go with it. These together make me smile and bring back some really wonderful memories.

our-wild-turkey

(Wild Turkey that visited us earlier this year – hope you can see him on the fence?  He is kind of like Where’s Waldo in this pic – hee hee.)

our-turkey-whiskey

(This is our fat bird “Whiskey,” and no he will not be on the menu. He follows me everywhere, and I named him – idiot me!)

I remember helping dad with so many great yummies. Peeling grapes (I hated it), then cutting them in half to go into the fruit salad. We had to open them up back then because there was no such thing as a “seedless grape” – CRAZY I KNOW, BUT TRUE!!?? The fruit salad was always my favorite because I would sample the fruit as it was being cut into tiny pieces. Dad would shoot me a glare every now-and-then, but it would turn into a smile with a “Cut that out” attached to it.
We always had a variety of food, and there were always the potluck’s that came from other family and friends. See, this was also a HUGE football day back then so all the family and closest friends came over. I think it was mainly because of 3 things:

1. All the men fit into our huge living room.
2. All the women fit into our huge kitchen.
3. All the kids had the farm, barns, animals to mess with and kept them away from the parents.

Worked out perfect for all involved!

nice-fall-centerpiece

SO BRING IT ON THANKSGIVING!! I have a lot to be thankful for this year!

 

(Side thought: Has anyone else ever read Stephen King’s The Dead Zone?  What are your thoughts on it?)

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WAS THIS A KINDER TIME?

I fell back to childhood again when I looked at this picture from my Facebook feeds:

ultimate-xmas-tree-2016

I am linked to a page: DoYouRemember.  Most of what they send out just brings back some fun memory.  This one struck a heart string.  A thought and feelings from what seemed to be a kinder time.  

My Grandmother, on my mother’s side, had a home and tree that I think looked just about like this.  Grandma Hill was amazing.  I do not remember much of her, unfortunately, but what I do remember is wonderful.  I also do not remember her EVER being cross with anyone or anything.

Her home was nestled behind this hidden garden.  It was the other lady’s garden ( I don’t remember if she was the landlady or just the lady in the other apartment.  I remember she always looked beautifully put together.  Not a hair out of place. Her apron may have had recent dirt or cooking stuff on it, but it was obviously freshly pressed before use.

We always called her Grandma; her husband was Grandpa Joe.  I was very young when both passed away, so much of them is not clear.  There was something about her home.  It was always warm and welcoming.  There is something about the window behind this tree that moved me to write about this – I just cannot put my finger on it?

Maybe it is just the tinsel on the tree?  It is different now and hard to find but still out there (going to try to find some this year!).  It used to be made of different things: aluminum, cellulose acetate, lead alloy foil.  Then there are the issues of toxins, animals, fish and birds having troubles with it after Christmas.  I just remember how extra special it made the tree look.  All the fancy lights and light shows they have now just don’t come close.  I am surprised that no one has created a safe version of the stuff. 

Childhood was real trees.  We could not afford a fake one.  When the season was over, all the ornaments – including the tinsel – were taken off the tree and stored for next year.  The tree then went down to our dump (yes, we were big enough to have our own dump, then again most farmers did back then).  

So today, November 15, 2016, I had a flashback to one of my Christmas memories from long ago (VERY long ago – J).  I like to keep my holidays in the season, but this season is not cooperating with me.  I apologize for the early topic, but I wanted to share the happy thoughts.

Happy November 15th!

 

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WHERE WAS I AGAIN?

Ok woman – get your hands back in that dirt!  Ahhh, warm, living, comforting soil!  Breathe deep, life goes on (hopefully), pull up your big girl panties and move along.  Seventy plus degrees – November 2016 – Colorado – WHHAAATTT??

If things were not going freaky enough, we are going to have 70 ° today and the next couple of days?  Now Colorado weather is strange, major part of why I love it here.  But seventy in November is just abby-normal!

I do not have, nor do I want spring fever right now.  I have been sucking in the Hallmark channel trying to bring back my happy-happy, joy-joy of the holidays…p.s. it’s not working – grrr!

I have been working on all kinds of crafts for family and friends for Christmas.  We purchased a ½ a grass-fed beef to present a great meal for the family Christmas Party.  I have been pricing turkeys and checking out recipes for all kinds of side dishes.  I WANT MY FALL WEATHER!

A lot of leaves have fallen, but a bunch are still hanging on.  My honeysuckle, and winecup still have flowers on them?  The California Poppies were over eight inches tall (until my grandson thought they were weeds and helped me by pulling them out – eeek, boo hoo, hahaha).

The Robins, Blackbirds, and ladybugs are all still here?  My Blue Jay’s and Chickadee’s have not shown up yet?  There has not been a single fluke drop of snow yet (by now we should have had at least one fluke flurry)?

dsc_0011

We put the heater in our pond for the fish, but now it’s just a waste of electricity.  The trees can’t make up their mind either:

So now I must trudge on!  Keep creating.   Keep cookie planning and prepping going.  Keep the mood heading toward holiday happiness. 

Maybe I will take this picture, blow it up and hang it on my bedroom ceiling.  This way I can wake up each day thinking it will be the holidays soon:

fall

Or maybe this one would be better:

frozen pond 2-3-16

Then I can remember what winter feels like. (Ok, I am sick – Fall, Winter, Spring, Summer – my likes in that order!)

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SO EASY AND SO FUN – BREAD IN A JAR!

We subscribe to Countryside Magazine. It is one of the few we actually enjoy and use!  It has everything for small farming, hobby or backyard garden/farming, recipes tried-and-true methods; you name it, they have it (have had it or will have it).  Perfect for anyone wanting to grow their own food.

A few years back they ran a series on “oven canning” which included several recipes for Bread-in-a-jar.  My sister and I were intrigued, so we gave it a shot.  Besides being fun to make, they were the perfect sizes to eat.  They made a fantastic gift for just about any occasion.  We did banana, blueberry, chocolate chip, spice, pumpkin and plain sweet bread.  Then, because we are so crafty, we added a sticky label with ingredients (for allergies), then decorated with bows, ribbons, and a tag.  We received so many compliments on it that we were amazed!

Well, with the house fire all of our saved and categorized Countryside issues were lost.  Along with those the bread-in-a-jar and oven canning secrets – UNTIL NOW!

I subscribe online to thewhoot.com.au it is out of Australia, but a lot of what I get from them can be done anywhere in the world (mainly recipes and crafts).  The latest wonder that they delivered to my email inbox was about Banana Bread-in-a-jar!  WOOO HOOO – oh excited me!!

This is what the completed plan looks like:

banana-bread-in-a-jar-600x400

I was so happy to find it I just had to write this up and share it! Hope you all give it a shot. The bread’s we made up (about 30 jars) sat on our pantry shelf for at least a year (maybe a couple of months more) and were still just as fresh and yummy as day one!

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