Farm Life

Farm Life

Friday, May 23, 2014

Funny, On The Farm....Runaway Rototiller

    It is time to dig out all the gardening tools and tune up the old machinery used to till the soil for another season of gardening. This year, my father-in-law graciously fixed me up an old rototiller to replace my previous disaster that had bit the dust. As I checked out my new toy, I couldn't help but think back to my relationship with my departed rototiller. We were never on the best of terms. We never started out on the right foot. It was a huge rototiller with a mind of it's own. Frequently it lunged forward without warning and sped up with no notice! I have been a farm girl my whole life and have been running heavy equipment for as long as I can remember, but this big red rototiller was determined to get the best of me. It seemed that the harder I would fight, the meaner she would get!
(My "new" rototiller)

    One day, I decided I needed to get some tilling done at the end of our long dusty farm driveway. I had visions of a beautiful flower garden welcoming guests to the farm in grand fashion. There would be beautiful color mingling with the aroma from big gorgeous blooms. I started the red beast and went to work. I was determined to make some serious progress on my dreamy garden project. It was rough going and I was having a bit of trouble keeping up. It bumped and bounced and lept along. Then, it happened. In one sudden jerk, she broke free of my grasp, and hit full speed in a flash! She roared toward the road kicking up soil sky high with me running and tripping trying to get a grasp on her. I felt the terror you get inside when you know things could get bad. A car was coming and my only option was to try to stop this evil machine before it crashed head on into an unsuspecting vehicle! My hair must have been flying wildly about me and I was running through dirt clumps which kept me from standing upright. I felt as if I would topple over at any moment and at full speed. I had torn my pants and dirt colored my blonde hair brown. My shoes were filled to overflowing with garden soil and weeds. My terror increased as the road rushed closer. Inside I was screaming, "NO! NO! PLEASE STOP!!!! PLEASE STOP!!!!" My stomach turned and tied itself into a knot. This was going to be bad! Really bad! All of this drama was crammed into mere seconds, but oh, it seemed to be playing out in slow motion. I clambered up and out of the dirt clods just as she bucked and leaped across the road in front of a stopped car. The man in the car was in full hysterical laughter as I still chased the offender across the road, into the ditch, and towards the woods. My brother-in-law happened to be the driver of the car and was still roaring with laughter at his sister-in-law's near demise! As my nemesis arrived at the woods, I caught up with her just as she began digging at roots, and spinning up leaves. I hit the choke, and cut the power to her escapade. I then stormed off up the long driveway with a dirt smeared scowl, while wisps of laughter danced after me. She had gotten the best of me and our relationship was over!!!
    We reconciled quite some time later, but we were always leery of one another. As I embark on a new relationship this season, I can't help but be a little nervous. What wild path might this new soil tilling beast take me on.......
(One of our gardens that will need tilling this season.)

Sunday, May 18, 2014


    I love cranberries. Not jellied from a can, or plucked from the grocery store shelves. I love home grown cranberries just like my grandfather did. He would be thrilled if he could see that I have planted a total of five cranberry bushes so far. I started out with two and lost one, but here I am trying again. I had a few berries make an appearance last fall and this got me excited to add some more bushes, and that is what I did this season.
    I love it when the U.P.S. truck speeds up the driveway in early spring. I know that these packages contain living plants that I get to nurture into a food source. While cold winds blow and snow drifts against my door, I carefully plan out where each new plant will be placed as I sip my hot chocolate by the fireplace. This keeps cabin fever at bay and is a pathway to keeping summertime dreams alive. So, as planting season struggles to arrive, I am prepared, and overwhelmed with anticipation......
First, I dig my holes to accommodate the roots.
I then amend my soil to the needed growing conditions for my cranberry bushes.
I add peat moss, sand, blood meal, bone meal, epsom salt, and rock phosphate. 
I then make sure to loosen up the roots as they are pot bound, and sink them into my mixture.I water them generously. To protect them from a crazy lawn mower wielding son, (or husband), or from a
stampeding cow, or any other farm related accident, I surround my new additions with old car tires. I will remove these as they grow larger.
   As I sit back and admire my new cranberry bushes, I can't help but think of the steaming tart berries with some crushed pecans on top. I lick my lips as I dream about our farm raised turkey with all the fixin's. It brings to mind my grandmother's stuffing recipe, and family and friends gathered together at the farmhouse table for thanksgiving. Our celebration would simply not be complete without the taste of these deep red beauties.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Thanks, Mom.....for being home!

    Growing up, my mom stayed home with my sister and I. Her job was to raise us girls, which couldn't have been easy. We went to a Christian school and she worked one day a week as a teacher's aid to help with tuition. She was always there when we came home. On the rare occasion that mom was not at the house when we came through the door we were devastated! Why wasn't mom home? What is going on? Our world was turned upside down! One summer, my mom took a job a mile up the road at a quail farm. She wasn't gone very long each day, but I do know she was not home for lunch!! My mother is a tremendous cook! Growing up, all my friends would crowd the table hoping for her homemade pizza and home canned dill pickles. I would take my mom's cooking to school and sell it at lunch time. I could always make a sale and mom wondered why I always had a little money to spend. She is famous for her yeast rolls and at any family gathering she is expected to bring those along with her homemade butter. Everything we ate growing up was homemade. We never ate anything from a mix! Thank-you mom! Because of this, my sister and I cook from scratch and we both can our food every year. I can remember shelves lined with canned food all ready for a long cold winter. Applesauce was a favorite and the strawberry jam mistake was the best! The strawberry jam did not jell as it should have, but instead turned out to be a thick sauce perfect for topping ice cream. Yum! Best mistake ever! I still replicate this mistake every year. Mom's garden has always been the best and still is! She works for hours every day, all summer, weeding and tilling. All summer long we ate fresh from the garden.
     In the summer, mom would let us roam our 175 acre farm. I would rise in the morning and gobble down a homemade breakfast and then I was off! I loved the adventure of the woods. My mom's very loud whistle was the sign that it was time to return. I could hear that whistle from a mile away! We all wished we could whistle like mom. She let us be kids and wander and explore. We learned a lot from this. Independence, curiosity, and a love for nature. An education from nature is invaluable. 
    My mom and dad sacrificed a lot for us. We didn't have any money, but I didn't even realize it! Each summer, before school would start, my mom would always take us to this huge sidewalk sale at a local small business. We returned home with bags full of brand new clothing. She never paid more than a few dollars for clothes, but I can remember my excitement. At the grocery store she tripled coupons and came home with food for nearly free! Sometimes they paid her to take it! She was an extreme couponer before it was cool. Some days after school, for a special treat, she would take us into the old general store in our small town. We could pick out penny candy from behind a glass case. We took our time and used great thought in selecting our ten pieces  That is only twenty cents, but to a child it was a treat that we excitedly looked forward to. She stretched our money and we never knew the difference. 
    Mom never had time for herself back then, but now we have begun to be adventurous. A few years ago, my mom and I, along with my niece, started taking a clogging class. We now can actually dance, and we perform at country fairs and events with our dance group during the summer. She so enjoys this and it's a fun hobby to participate in together. 
    We loved having mom at home. A stay at home mom is a big job! Moms shape youngsters into the human beings that they will be for life. Stability and consistency are learned when you come home to mom every day. A light always on in the window, and the smell of a home cooked meal dancing in the air was the norm. This is what I hope to give my boys throughout their life with me. So, on this Mother's Day, thanks mom.....for being home!

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Noise, Mud, Frogs, and.... My Cup Runneth Over!

    On any given day, you can find bikes in the yard, matchbox cars in mud puddles, Spiderman clinging to the back of my couch, woodworking projects on my kitchen table, and hunting gear ready to go. There will be work boots piled by my door, army men strewn about, fishing poles at the ready, and bare cupboards. Yes, I am a mom of boys. Four boys. My days are filled with chaos and it is always loud. I am a chef. I am always cooking and doing dishes. Always. I never stop cooking! Did I mention never? I never stop cooking! It is like feeding a pack of ravenous wolves! I was never prepared for the amount of food that they can put away! It seems like I just figure out the mighty portion of food that needs to be prepared, only to find out a few days later that it doesn't cut it anymore. Their growing bodies are demanding more! I am a maid. I find rocks, matchbox cars, toy soldiers, nails, bullets, jack knives, marbles, fish hooks, and many more surprises in the boy's pockets as I do laundry. I sweep mud from my floors. I can't keep a tablecloth clean. Ever. I am a referee. Rough housing is the norm around here. Mom's breakable treasure's sometimes fall victim to a hurtling ball, fist, or someone's noggin. Occasionally, I just let them sort it out for themselves. At times they just need to beat the stuffing out of each other, get it out of their systems, and then rejoin the civilized. I am a medic. Good thing this mama is a farm girl with good patching up skills. I have assisted many a farm animal in the healing process and don't mind blood. I can attend to a pencil up the nose (yes, that really happened), scraped knees, poison sumac, and jack knife mishaps. I am a disciplinarian. Boys do not like sitting on their bed's when they could be out and about getting into mischief! My duties never end! I have been handed bugs without notice, found fake spiders in my bed, been tickled unmercifully, and have been hoodwinked. I have been shot with a blow gun. I have discovered dead squirrels in my freezer, legos in my boots, and have had my house plants upturned. I have had my van mired in mud, and been jumped sky high by sudden fireworks. I look in the mirror and wonder why my hair is sticking out fifteen different ways, how my shirt got peanut butter hand prints, and why I'm still in my pajama pants? When I dig into my purse I pull out a toy tractor, matchbox cars, and Ninja Turtles. Leaving the house is like moving Patton's 8th Army. Chronically late, with any one boy leaving the house minus a boot, hat, or jacket. One has jeans that are stained and ripped out, and the other can't find his belt and his pants are falling down. I am exhausted! Some mornings I wonder if I can pull this wrecked body out of bed for another hootin' and hollerin' day. But.......                                                                                 
 ...these four boys make me happy beyond any words I can put to this page. 

                                                 Words are not adequate....
     My days are filled with laughter, snuggles and kisses. I get grins from dirty faced little boys and bear hugs from boys bigger than I. I treasure the little moments, and do not take these precious boys for granted. They give with a smile and a big heart. I have the bird houses and feeders to prove it. I have received many thoughtful gifts made from the heart. Painted pictures are framed on my walls, and notes are tucked into scrapbooks. I have opened my messages to find a "Mom, I love you to the moon and back" from a sixteen year old sweetheart. I have soothed a babies tears after a fall, and gained two baby hands on mama's cheeks, and a spit covered kiss as a "thank-you". I watch with pride as they learn to ride bikes, to read, play the fiddle, and drive a car. Creativity is proven time and again within skills such as carpentry, hunting, welding, horticulture, and more. I have heard, "I love you sooooooooo much mommy", and "I love you this big", and "mama! You're as pretty as a ladybug!!!!" How can you just not love this? I love the good things and I love the hard things. It is all my life. I love being a mom of boys! I feel protected and loved. I love the adventures and all the fun. It's baby giggles, and funny faces. Pig piles and chocolate chip cookies. It's laughing with your teenager until your cheeks hurt. Hay forts, snow forts, and blanket forts. Story time and sleepy boys. It's noise, mud, frogs, and.... cup runneth over!

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Welcome to My Farm Girl Adventures

  Hello, from a New England farm girl and mom of four boys. I have to admit that I am more muck boots than lipstick, but what farm girl doesn't like to throw on some cowgirl boots, a cute dress, and then add some lipstick to camoflauge the recent hours of grueling labor in the barn or the hay field? I grew up on a dairy farm in Maine started by my grampa in 1966. I just could not tear myself away from this life and so here I am. When you are born with farming in your blood there is no escaping it! I am here for life with lots of big dreams for our little farm. We raise a lot of different livestock, from dairy cows and goats, to meat chickens, turkeys, and pigs. Beef critters, horses, and laying hens also grace the landscape. Many years we have had bees, and I hope this year to add ducks again, and also wish to start meat rabbits as a new venture. Our goal is self-sufficient living with any excess being sold for income. I run a vegetable C.S.A. and really enjoy my customers. Our little family farm is powered by a team of Belgian work horses. Most of our field work is carried out by faithful friends, Kate and Buck. This brings about a lot of curiosity from those passing by. I hope to eventually offer old fashioned sleigh rides to customers who wish for the magical experience. Right now I am in search of the perfect sleigh. So much to do and so little time! Also, as if we're not busy enough, we are building a log cabin mortgage free. This means lots of salvaging and enormous amounts of physical labor. More dreams coming true....
   I invite you to join me on my farm girl adventures. From field work to building projects and from goat kids to human kids. There is never a dull moment!