One More Sign Or Just Legend?

I just love stories like this one:

Rare oarfish, regarded as omens of natural disasters, found alive in Japan                          By Alex Stambaugh and Junko Ogura, CNN

Makes me wonder what the true reason is?

Owning or working anything that requires you to mess with nature, should make you think about these things.  The very least you should take notice of them.  I do believe that all things happen for a reason.  Our home was destroyed by a tornado late last summer.  Not the house so much, but the gardens and greenhouse.  I’m still not knowing what the reason was behind it, but I could drive myself nuts playing with theories:

  • First was punishment: We got disgusted, frustrated, and angry at all the people mooching off of us, so we threw them all out.  On is in jail – again –  but that is now for his own mother to worry about.
  • Second was preparation: Prepping us for something worse to be happening soon.
  • Third was par-for-the-course: Just when I think things are going better for us, something else pops up and shits on our parade.

That’s just three, but my list keeps building.  Then I read stories like the one above.  These are based on real news – things that are happening now.  Then they throw some flare like “legend has it” in there for reader interest.  Well, it works on me every time, especially when it has to do with nature.

One of my biggest why is this happening theory is based on the thought that someone, somewhere is trying to tell us something.  It could be something that we are not doing right?  Maybe it is something we are doing all wrong?  Maybe we should be doing more?  Maybe we should be doing it all differently?  These thoughts are also endless for me.

Now that we (humans that is) have evolved into such creatures of technology, we are better able to track and record things.  Simple things that we tracked just for the sake of tracking decades ago have now developed a purpose, and sometimes a greater meaning.  (WOW – do I sound deep here or what?).

Personally, I love the weather.  Humans have been trying to track and control it for centuries, and we still get it wrong.  I love to follow the old wife’s tales of the past:

  • If your barn animals have a thick coat come fall, you are going to have a harsh winter (not necessarily a full of snow winter, could just be extremely cold.).
  • Achy joints – the weather is going to change. (This one I do believe because mine will kill me when the weather does a severe change.).
  • It’s going to rain because the cows are all lying down. (NOT – those huge 4-legged monsters get just as tired as we do, but it is funny to see a whole feed of them on a hot sunny day lying down on the job.)
  • Head to the southwest corner of the lowest part of your home (like a basement) when a tornado hits. They say this isn’t true, but  – to this day – that is EXACTLY where I went and will continue to go when they strike.
  • If the Wooly Bear caterpillar has a thick coat, it will be a heavy snow winter. Have no clue on this one and here in Colorado I have not even seen many of the Wooly Bears. We did see one really early last spring – totally out of season. Then had that tornado in July – hmmm.  Maybe it was trying to tell us something?

My point is that I do believe in signs.  I think there are things all around us in nature that if we just stop and pay it a little bit of attention, we may just learn something.

I watch the skies for signs of rain or a bad storm.  I watch the soil to see if we are getting enough moisture for the gardens to make it, or will I have to put in a lot of extra time watering to help them out.  I watch the geese fly overhead and if they are traveling north or south (north for summer, south for winter as the saying goes).  Then again here in Colorado, this one can be a bit off.  We have geese here year around, but we only have snow geese in winter.  On a warm day, you can see them traveling north one moment then south a bit later?

I do keep a really close eye on the budding of the trees.  We have such odd weather here.  If it is too nice out too early and the trees start to bud, they could be in for trouble before they are ready.  We have lost blossoms many years because it would be 65+degrees in March then dump snow and below zero temps in April.  One year on two weekends (back-to-back no less) in April Friday reached up to the nineties, but by Monday we were below thirty and snowing like the east coast is now (ooo – new phrase: Snowing like the east coast in 2019!?!).

According to the article above and the tales connected to it, there may be a natural disaster headed for Japan within the next year.  The scientists even agreed that these rare creatures may have popped up because of some underwater change.  However, they also agree that this does not mean they are headed for another 2011 tsunami.  Will be interesting to check back on this post a year from now and see if anything happened?

Do you believe in the signs around you?  Do you even watch for them?

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

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ARE YOU A ROCKER?

I have this thing for rockers.  No, not the Rock-n-Roll type rockers (but yes, I am one).  I’m talking about rocking chairs.  I do so many things during the course of a day without realizing that I am doing them.  One biggie is movement.  I am a Yarnie (i.e., One who works with yarn crafts) and can be found working on a project almost every day.  I recently noticed that while I am working on a project, I am rocking, or my foot is rocking.

Rockin cat

The only rocker in our home that I remember as a child was an antique glider rocker.  It was so beautiful that mom would not let anyone touch it.  You could get an immediate slap just for playing too close to it.  We were farm kids, so our play area was not as important as the play itself.  Can’t tell you how many times my sister and I got a smack for getting to close to it.  Once we ran into it and that put us in separate chairs, staring at the ceiling for the whole morning.  It was excruciatingly painful just to sit!
old glider rockerI’m not sure where exactly my love for the rocker came from, I know I can’t go a day without one.  There is something so soothing about knitting or crocheting, while I am rocking.  My grandmother on my dad’s side was a baker (explains a ton about his love of cooking and my sister’s addiction).  My grandmother on my mom’s side died when I was very young.  I don’t remember what her passion may have been.  My mom insisted that I learn how to knit my very first year in 4-H.  She knew how to crochet and always wanted to learn to knit, but never did.  She was good at making sure her girls knew how to do things that she never had the opportunity to do (like playing the piano but that is whole other torture).

It may have happened because I was so young and it was something to share, just mom and I.  I think I have this thing about the way the yarn feels.  My hands are not very big, so manipulation of the yarn is one of the few things in my life that I can control (yes, I am a control freak).  I used to hold the yarn in my left hand, but when I lost half of that index finger, I thought I was going to have to give up my passion.  I taught myself how to use the other hand.  Takes a bit longer but it worked.  Since the amputation (6/2014) I have also taught myself a ton of different ways to hold the yarn.  I guess you can teach an old dog new tricks.

old dog new trick

There is a certain kind of peace that goes along with rocking.  On several occasions, I have found myself rocking to the rhythm of my yarn working.  Most times I do not even have to count or pay attention to the stitches I am working.  It becomes a type of “Zen” world for me.

My hope for you this new year is that you can find a comfortable old rocking chair somewhere, sit back in it for a bit.  Close your eyes and rock.  Try to rock to the rhythm of your breathing.  You might just save a ton on therapy by doing this simple thing?

zen stone n sand           =      cat in rocker

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

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Just Another “DUH” Moment.

I love to write and tell stories, and I have tons of them regarding farm life. The problem I have is trying to get them out to you during the garden season (yes, that is a season – at least for we farmer/gardeners). Well, sitting here thinking about some more stories I had a “duh” moment.

Why am I trying to dig up a time to write my fun farm stories during the gardening time? One of my blogging buddies turned me onto a wonderful, helpful website called: www.workflowy.com
‘It has been an eye-opener for me. I have lists all over the place. My computer, my tablet, my phone, notebooks, sticky notes, you name it; I tag it. Now I love that my creative juices are constantly flowing, but I hate that I slap my moment of inspiration onto anything I have handy. It all gets lost, mixed up, or forgotten.

8 hands not enough

Not anymore. Workflowy is FREE (up to 100 items), and I have connected it to all my techno stuffs. Since my phone is almost always on me, it is perfect for those quickie thoughts. Once entered into workflowy.com, I can pull up my ideas in a listed format anywhere.

NO – I am not affiliated with them, so there is no compensation for this post. I just wanted to share something I found to help me a bunch, with you to maybe help you a bunch.

Under the free program, you get to load up to 100 listed items. When you sign up, you get a GREAT tutorial that makes the whole thing work effortlessly. You can sign up (and pay) for a larger program, but since I use it more-or-less like a checklist, I found no need to increase (not at this time anyway).

So, I am now using workflowy to keep track of all my stories, ideas, crafts, and farm/personal to-do stuff. My “duh” moment came when I realized I could build tons of stories for a blog post using this format. I have started loading bits and pieces of things I remember from growing up on the farm in Wisconsin. Starting this winter, I am going to create those wonderful, fun stories to share – HOWEVER – I am going to set them up as “scheduled for a later date” in my Word Press blogs.

I feel bad when I cannot keep up with my posts during the summer. I have managed to plug in some quickie things when I don’t have to weed or water. If you garden at all, you know that the weed and water job is one of the most important and time-consuming. Now, by creating and later date scheduling, I hope to keep you all entertained all year long.

I hope my “duh moment” share helps you with any of your duh moments.

Happy gardening!

moon flower

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

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PLOWSHARE THURSDAY 9-28-17 – extra eyes.

There are several things I wanted to share today, but my best bet became “an extra pair of eyes.”

This is not really something you can buy through Amazon, but some days I wish I could.  There are a number of times, during any given year on a farm, where some extra set of eyes would come in handy.

We do a large amount of bartering with a variety of friends and family.  We were lucky in the fact that our in-ground planting in the greenhouse provided us with a ton of food.  This year it was needed more than ever as it is the first time since we bought the farm that we are without fresh farm eggs.  Fricken coyotes and foxes picked them all off (even my beloved turkey) in one afternoon.  Brazen jerks did it in broad daylight too.

Whiskey 4-20-16Some days you just cannot make sense of something that happens, this was one of those occasions. We took major precautions over the last several years to upgrade our poultry pens.  We taught them all to go into the barns at night where they were closed up tight.  We added a 360-chicken wire, attached enclosure for them to wander in and out of at will.  The only thing we did not consider was human intervention.

Xcel Energy and W.A.P.A have access through our property to get to their overhead power lines.  Both have been down in the lower neighbor’s field making all kinds of racket changing out poles and lines.  The best part of this is that they had managed to scare off all the wild critters that were hanging out in the swamps – including foxes and coyotes.

Roughly three years now we have not heard a yip or howl from either of the two groups to our joy.  This turned out to be a curse.  Yes, it was great we did not have to worry about them attacking our critters, but we became complacent.  I would open the doors up and let the critters roam all over the farm because I believed their predators to be gone.  Oh stupid me!

Once nice summer day with none of the worker crews around, and our whole flock (except the two chickens that hung in the cat barn) was taken out by the monsters.  It took no more than an hour for the chickens.  The turkey was nabbed by a coyote later that same afternoon. (He was carried off, and he was huge!)

So my share today is to get more eyes on your property.  Friends or neighbors driving by.  Neighbors close enough to notice strange movement.  We are even thinking about installing motion sensors with cameras in all of our hard-to-see areas. 

We have been able to exchange fresh fruits and veggies, canned goods, and homemade goodies for eggs and the like.  The pantry is not looking too bad, but I still feel totally bummed about our loss, and missing the wobbly birds that would come running when I called them.

 

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DO YOU STOP AND SMELL THE ROSES?

Bad news.  Bad news.  Then more bad news.  I AM SOOO TIRED OF BAD NEWS!  I have started a new self-help campaign…seek out good news!  Here is one that I came across this week:

Love the smell of spring? Here’s where the season’s odors come from.

It was kind of sad and disgusting.  So I choose to turn it into a good thing.

I like to learn the scientific reason for the smells that I love (which was key to the above article), but I prefer my reasoning…it is because of my past.  Here are some examples:

A fresh cut hay field: This one catches me at the second it hits my nose (and it’s a big nose) and instantly throws me back to the 80-acre farm I grew up on.  It’s spring, and we have started the first of several cuttings to create bales for the winter ahead.  This follows with the families joining to bale the hay.  Kids playing in the hay, the fields, and with the horses.  Parents would gather in the shade of the large garage we had or maybe in the back yard covered with huge trees.  Fresh squeezed lemonade, sun tea, and beer were the drinks of choice (Oh, and the water for the kids always came from the hose.  We had a well with great tasting water!).

new mown hay

The air after the first big spring rain:  Once again I am flung back in time to kids with little plastic (yep plastic, not rubber – that was for city kids!) boots.  They were very floopy (is that a word?  Pronounced like soupy.) so we never bothered to wear any socks with them.  The puddles we splashed in would throw the water up and over the top of the boot, and our feet would float.  This made it even more fun because as you went running up on a puddle, your slippery foot would slide sideways and cause you to fall into the puddle instead of just splashing – laughter all around!

flowers in spring rain

Pine trees, rosemary, evergreens:  These smells are sort of the same and all lead to the same thing – CHRISTMAS!  I have had a few bad ones, but most of my Christmas’s were crammed with wonderful memories!  Once again all about family and friends all smiling, laughing, and sharing. (FYI: This smell always makes me feel better if I am sad or depressed.)

Fresh baked bread:  Who doesn’t love the smell of fresh baked (or baking) bread?  It never has a chance to completely cool in our house!  As soon as it’s touchable, we slice it up, butter, and eat it!  This one does not go back to my childhood, but it does include family.  Mom hated to cook.  Dad loved to cook.  I just do not remember any baking specifics (except Christmas cookies) until I moved in with my sister – she’s a bake-a-holic!  One of her specialties that I swear I can smell clear out in the barn is her bread.  She loves to make a variety of them and is always looking for a new recipe.  I have resolved myself to the fact that I will never be skinny.  I can blame it on genes, surgeries, no time for exercise – whatever- but I know the real reason is that I cannot keep my hands off her homemade bread – yum!!!

d star bread (This is one of her creations!)

With all the surgeries I have been through, I wondered what would be the worst to lose: sight, hearing, smell, touch?  I have already lost part of my hearing (major ear infection as a kid) and some ability to touch.  Getting older the eyesight fades (can sometimes be corrected), but I think the loss of smell would break my heart!  It is the one sense that can reincarnate good times no matter where I am in life.

Yep, when it comes to smells that float up my nose, happiness resides there not science.  I will continue to breathe deep and suck in all the fun fond memories that I can, while I can!

upclose dog nose

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WHAT SONGS ARE YOUR KIDS SINGING?

Do you know what your kids are singing?  Especially your very young kids?  Now I am no spring chicken anymore, but I know that one of the first things that kids learn is music – specifically singing.  They are taught at the youngest age to do simple rhyming song.

  • Oh, Dear, What Can the Matter Be?
  • Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star.
  • One that my sister was taught was Chicken Riding? I, personally, had never heard it before or after she sang it (sometimes I think she just made it up to keep me guessing?!)
  • Itsy, Bitsy Spider – and so on.

The one children’s song that came to mind this morning is about one of my favorite creatures – the Bumble Bee.  “I caught a little baby bumblebee, won’t my mommy be so proud of me.”  (It’s kind of tragic at the same time – stings the kid, gets squashed, makes a mess of the shirt, and in the end, the kid gets into trouble…ahh, kids songs?!)

We have honey bees that are brought up from New Mexico every spring.  A company (friends) has our permission to pull their huge semi-truck onto our property.  Park it there, unload, and distribute over 600 colonies of bees.  It takes about three days to get them all spread out here in northeastern Colorado.  Then in the fall, they do the reverse.  We have extra free great pollinators all summer long.  (They should be here in the next couple of weeks.)

We also spend a fair amount of time every spring adding more (or new) good-bug-friendly plants to our yards and gardens.  The first few years on our little slice of heaven were kind of sad.  A few spots out front with a few flowers in them, but nothing to really attract our good bug buddies.  I can still remember the first time I saw a Praying Mantis.  Got so happy I cried a bit!

Over the years and our continuous work, we have managed to attract all types of garden helpers.

  • More Praying Mantis (green & brown – for those that do not know – female and male in our territory.)
  • Walking Sticks
  • The continued Honey Bees
  • Humming Birds.
  • An ever-growing variety of wild birds.
  • Lacewings
  • Ladybugs
  • Soldier bugs
  • And a variety of beetles.

The one that is closest to me, in more ways than one, is the bees.  We have several varieties here now.  The one that I did not see until just last year was the Bumble Bee.  I didn’t even think about it until I read this email: Mother Nature Network (MNN)

Bumblebee gets a helping hand from Endangered Species Act

I didn’t know they were on the endangered species list?  I know the Honeybees have been declining, so we help them as much as possible, but it never dawned on me that the Bumblebee is was having issues as well.

Maybe they should start teaching kid song to save things like the bumble bee instead of squashing it?  Maybe we could help starting now?

music notes 1

There was a little baby Bumblebee.

So I sat real still as I could be.

The Bumblebee came and sat on me.

Oh, what a wonderful thing to see.

Then he turned and smiled with glee.

Don’t ya just love those Bumblebees!

music notes 2

(Can’t write right now, because I can’t stop laughing at myself!)

Ok, so I cannot write a song, but you get the picture.  The idea of teaching our kids not to be afraid of things like Bumblebees, Honeybees, and Spiders just appeals to me.  I though, have my work cut out for me with my grandson.  He is a big giant panzie!  He can’t wait for summer, but asks every day if the snakes are out yet?  If I say yes, it is time, then he won’t go outside – grrr!

silly friendly snake

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ARE YOU AN AVID LEARNER (or obsessed as I am)?

In keeping with last new year resolution – more fun shall be added to this, 2017, year as well.  So, this is my first writing spill for the new year – hope you like it!

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Well, the holidays were a blast but over way too fast.  The new year started out with discovering that my car needed a new battery…ON THE COLDEST FRICKEN DAY OF THE YEAR!!  So, now I am thinking this will be a year of “be prepared” situations.  The problem is, how do you prepare for what you don’t even know is coming your way?  I got out my crystal ball (ya, like I have one?) and discovered the following about myself.

crazy-crystal-ball

I was never a Girl Scout.  My thing was 4-H, and they are basically for farmers, creators, crafters, gardeners, artists, and taught very little in the way of preparedness.  Since that time (let’s just say it was a while ago), I have become a bit of a prepper by choice.  We (my sister and I) do the following:

  1. Try to grow most of our own food.
  2. Reuse, repurpose, recycle just about everything.
  3. Use natural and sustainable growing, farming methods.
  4. Learn every kind of craft we can get our hands into. The things we don’t know, my cousin in WI is pickup (she is so creative – even made her own bentwood chairs a few years back, now she’s into metal and welding – how fun is that?).  Our long range plans are that one day she will be here on the farm with us.  So double bonus!
  5. We can:
  6. Fish
  7. Hunt
  8. Camp out
  9. Could probably butcher just about anything for food.
  10. Process foods by canning, dehydrating, drying, freezing, and we are now getting into oven canning (too cool!).
  11. And the best thing – barter!

The best is barter!  We connect with those that can do things we cannot, or do not like to, do.  Absolutely love to share stuff!  It can be everything from my knitted stuffs, our canned stuffs, part of our side of grass fed beef, recipes, to even poo and wood chips for composting piles (yes, we have an abundance of both!).  In return, we get things like our hunting friends may share part of their kill.  Seeds are always exchanged.  Crafting techniques, (my friends Judy and Carrie are much better at sewing than I am so I will always get into what they are working on) and we will try just about anything once – twice if we like it.

I got hooked on this type of life years ago by accident.  Way back in the early 80’s I was more of a read-a-holic than I am now.  I came across a book called:

FOXFIRE by Eliot Wigginton, George P. Reynolds, and Kaye Carver Collins

foxfire-books-on-amazon

I do not usually promote books, but when I do it is because I love them or find them useful (I have more how-to’s than anything, and I do not own a single romance novel – boo hoo, hee hee. The very first one immediately hooked me. I went on to purchase the whole series (now up to 12 plus some anniversary additions) as each new one was published.

The way to explain how important I found these books, is to let you know that they were the first replacements I purchased for myself after our fire took everything. If you are into doing anything in a self-sufficient manner, I strongly recommend that you go to your local library and request the very first one. It explains how they all came about(Spoiler alert: It started as a way for a big-city teacher to reach his Appalachian class.). You may also want to be prepared for some fun and wild reading as parts of the book are written how the people of the area speak (or as best as they could reproduce it for the book).

Like I said – I got hooked.It is very detailed, includes numerous pictures, and is a major how-to on almost everything you could need to survive on your own or in a small community.

The only way to survive, thrive and become self-sufficient, in my opinion, is to connect with others. It may sound wrong but, if you think about it, there will always be something someone else has or can do that you may want or need. Even though I love to do tons of stuff myself, I cannot do it all (shocker I know!).I count on others to barter, share, swap, exchange (whatever you want to call it) to get by. However, I think we are exceptionally lucky that we have made connections with the same type of wacky sense of humor people that we are! This way, when times get rough (and they always do), someone in the group will always find something to laugh about!

little-girls-laughing

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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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THE BEST NEW YEAR RESOLUTION – AND ITS NOT ABOUT DIETING?

So. Had a wonderful white Christmas (sorry to all you Easterners – but I guess you all had enough last year to hold you over this year at least?!), and I began to ponder about 2016 – as you do. This is what I came up with…

My 2016 resolutions:

  1. LAUGH MORE.

smiling kitten

2. LAUGH OFTEN.

smiling goose

3.LAUGH WITH FRIENDS

smiling puppies

4. LAUGH AT SELF (don’t take things too serious, life is too short)

laughing panda

5. SMILE “HUGE” AT PEOPLE I DON’T KNOW.

smile sheep

6. IF THINGS GET ROUGH – REFER TO RESOLUTION #1.

laughing horse

A lot of you may dismiss this as being too simple and common place – WRONG!

Stop what you are doing right now and think back to this past year. This will only take a moment or two, as most of us cannot remember what we did yesterday (yep – happens to us all!). Can you remember any time you laughed so hard you had tears coming out? How about partying with friends and laughing so hard you had to run to the bathroom (been there, done that way too many times! Hee hee). If you don’t remember doing it this last year, something major is wrong in your life!

smile dog-full teeth

How about sharing a huge – teeth showing- smile/grin at a total stranger? Maybe at a checkout line at a store, or passing through the door of a quick stop place? What about a simple “hi” to someone you do not know – with a polite smile of course? Did you do any of these? Do you remember doing any of these? If not, you are missing out on something Colossal!!

  •  It does NOT cost you anything.
  • It doesn’t hurt to do it (no, really it doesn’t hurt to smile – ok, ok, if you have been a grumpy Gus, you may be a bit rusty and the laugh lines might be a bit stiff and creaky, but it really won’t hurt! HONEST!!).
  • Anyone and everyone can do it.
  • Guaranteed to make your day a bit nicer – oh, and someone else’s too.

smiling baby pig