Sunday, March 27, 2011

Simple Joys....

Edouard Vuillard, Interieur a la Table à Ouvrage 1893
It seems everywhere I go in the Blogiverse, everyone's reading it.  One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp.  I am too.  I'm not too far in yet, but it's a book to read slowly.  Slowly is mostly how I read anyway, so that's good.  Somebody said, "Ever forward, but slowly," and I think it's a fine way to read or to live, even though I sometimes go forward fast, or should that be fast-forward?  Anyway, the author challenges herself  to be thankful,  to take joy, to live fully in the moment,  to see God's hand on all things.  Throughout the pages, she lists simple joys -- actually writes them down in her journal, no matter how silly or trite they might seem to someone else.  These, I am supposing, will be the One Thousand Gifts.

Back when I was homeschooling a passel of children every day at our kitchen table, we would take turns reading a chapter of the Bible every day aloud.  When we were done, we would always pray together.  Each of us would choose one person to pray for and then give a *thankful.*  A *thankful* was just that.  A thankful.  Whatever you happened to be thankful for at that very moment.  It was the prayer that we all wanted to pray.  Thousand Gifts is like that.  And my list below is a list of simple joys or thankfuls, for to be thankful brings joy.  Don't you think?

Simple Joys

Spring.... new bird arrivals daily, baby calves, warm days followed by snow and frost.  Wild winds which will eventually bring more warm days to us.

Edouard Vuillard
Lack of sleep.  Everyone takes their shift to check the first-calf heifers through the night.  Sleep deprivation  makes going to bed a joy and sleep comes easily.  "O Bed!  O Bed!  Delicious Bed, that Heaven upon Earth to the weary head."  ~Thomas Hood

Cold cookies thawed perfectly from the freezer.  A blend of cold, yet not frozen, and chewy, not crunchy.

I love you's and thank you's and kisses on the cheek from the people I live with.  (They are the best of people!)

Spot and Big Boy just joined the bum lambs after their mother died.  Big Boy has always sucked the bottle, but not Spot.  Spot just started sucking yesterday and he is so happy to have milk now.

Wet snow.  I really don't want any more snow, but I know that snow is good.  It makes grass grow and fills up our stock ponds with fresh water.  There are so many folks in the USA who are drying up and blowing away and experiencing fires.  I've been there.  I don't want that, so I'll take the snow.

Steak and eggs and toast for breakfast.  All homegrown, homemade things.

A little time to read in my bed with my cozy shawl wrapped around my shoulders and a cup of herb tea on my nightstand. 
Edouard Vuillard, The "Voiles de Gênes" Boudoir

Art.  I feel so blessed to be able to enjoy lovely art like Vuillard's on my computer.

Deviled eggs.

Wool-fleece lined slippers.  There's nothing like them for comfort.

Holding hands.

What simple joys are you thankful for?

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Playing in the dirt wouldn't hurt....

I wonder....
if we all spent more time playing in the dirt
 wouldn't the world be a happier place to live?

"For lack of attention, a thousand forms of loveliness elude us every day."
~Evelyn Underhill

Monday, March 21, 2011

Just Do It!

It's spring.
It's time for a change in the seasons.
Something happens in my head about this time of year and I want change inside my home as I see the changes happening outside. I want light, fresh, clean, new.
This week, I was ready for a change in our bedroom.
My motto is Nike's --
Just do it!
The pic above is the BEFORE of our gold bedroom.

And this picture is the light, fresh, clean, new AFTER picture of our bedroom transformation.  I covered the walls with Valspar's Macadamia and the ceiling got a coat of Bran Muffin.  My son, J,  helped me pull off the all trim around the windows and doors and the base boards, then I sanded, stained, and varnished the wood in a rich mahogany to reflect the red stain of our bedroom furniture.

The paint almost takes on pink hues in these pictures, but it does not look pink in our room.  Must be the lighting.  I really like my branch on the wall.  It's a hunk of honeysuckle vine that I pruned last year.  I knew when I trimmed it off, I would find a good use for it.
S., our college student, made this wonderful papercutting in his art class.  His tools were a piece of 18x24" sketch paper and an Exacto knife.  That's it.  (He got an A!)  He knew I'd love it, and I do.  I think I'll put a brown background paper behind it instead of the grey.  It is now hanging on the wall with some vintage bird pictures I printed off from The Graphics Fairy and feathers that I've picked up in the pasture.  I tend to collect feathers.  I don't feel that I'm completely finished with our room yet.  I am looking for the perfect, funky little night stand for my side of the bed and I'd like to add some turquoise accents.  For the now, I'm so happy.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Take a bath...

Picture from Builders Square

In the winter months especially, I love a hot bath.  A good, long soak in the tub with a cup of hot tea on the ledge and a good book or magazine in my hands is a really happy place to be for a half an hour or so.  Doesn't this bathtub look like the perfect place for unwinding?  (I wonder how you clean a wood bathtub?)

When I was a kid at home, long baths were never an option.  I recall taking group baths with my siblings when we were littles.  Do any of you remember pictures taken in the tub with your hair all sudsy and formed into a tall curlicue?   My mom loved doing that, and I'll admit that I have some pictures of my own children with their hair all done up in suds and their clean faces smiling for the camera.  As we grew up, baths were dumped for showers. Timed showers -- about five minutes.  Unlike homes of today, ours had just one bathroom and there were six of us to share it.  There was also limited hot water.  Oftentimes we took our showers in shifts.  Some of us showered at night and some showered in the mornings.  It helped with the hot water and the time factor of getting everyone ready for school and work.  So bathing became a luxury or something that was done when you were really sick or needed to soak a throbbing back.  

This past winter you'd find me soaking in the tub in the evenings after the chores and the dishes were all done, and I'm not yet finished with taking baths.  It has become a way of treating myself for a day's work well-done.  The rest of my family enjoys an evening bath too, so we have to take turns having a bath night since our tub is fairly big and requires plenty of hot water.  The first to call it, gets the first chance at the tub.  Lately we've been taking turns passing the flu back and forth and so the bathtub has had a lot of traffic.  A hot bath is so therapeutic for the flu sufferer.  Stuffy heads, achy muscles, and pounding heads seem to melt away when you can submerge yourself in a hot bath.

I have found some interesting facts about bathing recently when I decided to try adding some Epsom salts to my bath water.  Here's what the Epsom Salt Council says about adding salts to your bath.
Studies show these benefits from the major components of Epsom Salt may: Magnesium:
  • Ease stress and improves sleep and concentration
  • Help muscles and nerves function properly
  • Regulate activity of 325+ enzymes
  • Help prevent artery hardening and blood clots
  • Make insulin more effective
  • Reduce inflammation to relieve pain and muscle cramps
  • Improve oxygen use
  • Flush toxins
  • Improve absorption of nutrients
  • Help form joint proteins, brain tissue and mucin proteins
  • Help prevent or ease migraine headaches
I didn't realize it, but magnesium is easily absorbed through the skin and most of us are very short on the mineral.  Magnesium is not easily absorbed through supplements and so the best ways to get it is to eat foods high in magnesium (nuts, seeds, grains, fruits) and to take a bath or soak your feet in Epsom salts three  times a week or so.  How about that for a healthy way to relax?

I pulled out my blue Ball canning jars and filled them up with Epsom salts and set them out in the bathroom so my family could easily dump salts into their baths.  Pretty and functional! 

Another way I like to soak is to take an oatmeal bath.  I made some Oat Floats a few months ago for gift-giving and for my family.  I add one to my bath and squidge it around so the powdery oats dissolves in my bath, and then I use the pouch to rub the moisturizing, oat-y goodness all over my skin.  If you have dry skin, it is very soothing.  I sometimes add a little coconut oil to my bath water which also moisturizes the skin nicely.  I have even used coconut oil as a hot oil treatment for my hair and then follow up with my regular hair washing routine. Click here for more information on using coconut oil for your hair.

So if you're feeling tired, sick, harried, overwhelmed, or you just need a few minutes to relax, consider a hot bath. Would you like to know more about the health benefits for taking a hot bath?  Click here.  It'll cure what ails ya.

Sorrow can be alleviated by good sleep, a bath and a glass of wine.   
~Thomas Aquinas

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Is Spring on the way? Here?

Here's a little Peach who likes to play with bum lambs.
She's just the right size for ear nibbling.
The first calf of the season is born.

As I was feeding sheep this morning, my eyes caught sight of meadowlarks on the fence post.
Then when I got home, I heard their unforgettable song...
"Turn on the spring sprin-kl-er."
The Canada Geese have made their descent too.

Warmer temperatures have arrived and the weatherman predicts more sunshine into next week!
(It has been a long, long winter here)

As I was typing this, I saw the first robin of spring fly up to my tree in the backyard.

Snow is melting, water is running into the creeks and stock ponds.

 Yes!  I do believe Spring IS on the way!

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Bummin' around....

 There is only one more ewe left to have her lamb.  All the others have done their jobs -- some more proficiently than others -- and it has been a lambing season well-done.  Above is a picture of Miss Peach playing with the bum lambs.  (Check out the adorable polka dot Boggs I got her!)  It's still in the "teens" for high temperatures here, so we continue to dress in our warmest clothes when we are out at the sheep shed.  Bum-mer!

We are up to 8 orphan lambs now.  That's 8 bottles, four times a day.  I'm reading up on ways to wean bum lambs early, can you imagine why?  The kids and I have raised many bum lambs through the years, but we have never weaned them early like some folks do.  The idea is to get them on solid feed as soon as possible.  I'm going to make a feed mixture of soybean meal, cracked corn, alfalfa, and salt and sprinkle a little milk powder over the top to entice them to start eating it.  They will get this mixture along with milk.  The thing I'll have to watch is sickness due to the change in diet and over-eating.  I'll keep on bottle feeding for a few weeks and continue to add in more of the grain mixture.  Eventually, we'll quit the bottles.  In the meantime, we vaccinated the little fellas with Clostridium perfringens, C&D which is an over-eating vaccine.  Too bad they don't make it for humans!

This is one of the most spunky lambs of the bunch.  I think I'll just call him Spunky!  The kids used to always name each and every bum lamb we had.  There were some unusual names too like...
Jack knife, 
Mother Teresa & Gandhi (when we studied India) 
Anthony Grey, Barny, Starbright, Brown Eyes,
Odin, Vili, and Ve (three Nordic Gods we had studied)
and many, many others I cannot remember.

Here's a short (very short) video clip that someone accidentally took of HP and me feeding the lambies.  You'll get a brief (very brief) *feel* for feeding bum lambs.

I got to do a little bummin' around of my own today.  After lunch, I drove to town for a haircut and went shopping for a few baby things for the next baby-on-the-way.  There will be a baby shower for Cupcake this weekend so I had to be prepared with gifts.  I've been a busy Gram, sewing up cloth diapers in my spare time so there are enough  when the baby comes.  Oh, there are lots of other baby goodies to sew yet.

Saturday, March 05, 2011

Simple things turn into special things...

 French Tea Garden by Childe Hassam

Bread and water can so easily be toast and tea.
~Author Unknown 

Simple things turn into special things...

Water and Epsom salts turn into a healthy, relaxing bath.
Paper and pen turn into a letter to a friend.
Paper and crayons turn into art.
Words and a tune turn into a cheery song.
Fruit and sugar turn into jam for scones.
Needle, thread and calico turn into a patchwork quilt.
Knitting needles and yarn turn into cozy slippers. 
Water and cold air turn into frosty crystals.
A hug and kiss turn into balm for the soul.

Can you think of more?

Thursday, March 03, 2011

Lambies and scones...

I tried to get a picture of our little lambies frisking and dancing as requested by Pom Pom, but I just couldn't capture them at it.  You know how it is with camera clicking.  One minute you think you have it, the next minute you don't.  At least you can see how healthy and cute they are.  These lambs are about a week old.


Aren't these chaps the cutest?  To me, they look like storybook lambs, but of course, lambs in storybooks do not have numbers spray painted on their sides.  Many have sweet ribbons tied around their necks.  Notice the second storybook lamb has a cross on his side.  The rhyme says, "Little Lamb who made thee?"  At docking time we give each of the lambs our brand (painted) which tells others who they belong to.  The brand on the lamb in the picture tells you who he belongs to.

We have our lambs numbered so we can keep track of which  babies go with which mommies.  We have had so many sets of twins that our numbering works very well to help us know which lambs were born first, helps us to keep them matched with their mothers, and to know when someone's missing.  The spray paint we use washes out of the wool, so the lambs aren't labeled for life.

Now for the scones.  I have been reading about various scone recipes, and I have been so hungry lately that I decided to make us some.  I made Lemonade Scones and Stone Gable Scones.  I had to fudge on the Lemonade Scone recipe because I didn't have self-rising flour nor heavy cream, but since I am the Queen of Substitution, I improvised and they were delish.  Not lemony as you would think though.  Just good.  The Stone Gable Scones were made with sour cream and these, too, were delish.  Both had a softer, moister texture, not dry as scones sometimes are.  I think it might be because they had a "sour" ingredient added in -- lemonade/juice and sour cream or because they had extra fat (cream).  I really liked the crystal sanding sugar on the tops of the scones. If you want our family's favorite scone recipe, try these Strawberry Scones.  We especially like the frosting drizzled on top! By the way, I have used frozen strawberries and raspberries and even blueberries in these scones.  Do not thaw the berries.  Use them frozen.  Enjoy.

The Lamb

Little Lamb, who made thee
Does thou know who made thee
Gave thee life & bid thee feed.
By the stream & o'er the mead;
Gave thee clothing of delight,
Softest clothing woolly bright;
Gave thee such a tender voice.
Making all the vales rejoice:
Little Lamb who made thee
Does thou know who made thee?

Little Lamb I'll tell thee,
Little Lamb I'll tell thee;
He is called by thy name,
For he calls himself a Lamb:
He is meek & he is mild,
He became a little child
I a child & thou a lamb,
We are called by His name,
Little Lamb God bless thee,
Little Lamb God bless thee.

~William Blake

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

The senses....

The days, they are full. I am trying to "live in the moment" and take in all that is around me so I decided to  share some of the things I see, hear, smell, feel, and taste.  Beware, not all things will be pleasant.
I see.....
Pink morning skies; snow, snow, snow; my breath; hat hair; eagle pairs; yellow cats on gray fences; chickens that want out of the coop; eggs in my bucket, strong men flipping bales from a stack; strong men grabbing ewes on the fly; my grandgirl carrying her own crook; two crooks hanging in the rafters; a dead skunk; three dead lambs; fresh straw for the jugs (pens); week-old lambs frisking and playing together (just like the storybooks); Mary Toodles smiling up at me.

I smell....
Ammonia and manure at the sheep shed and on the bottom of my boots; summer when I open an alfalfa hay bale; the dead skunk; that fresh, earthy smell when snow melts into the ground; ham frying for breakfast; milk when I feed the bum lambs; greasy lanolin when I rub down the bummies after their feeding; fresh paint; soapy-clean after a hot shower; line-dried sheets when I went to sleep last night; fresh coffee when I rise in the morning.

I hear....
The pick-up trucks running as they warm up each morning, the coffee trickle into the pot, boots tromping off the snow on the front porch; soft newborn baa's and mothering murmurings as ewes imprint their lambs at birth; the metal gate creaking as it swings; the sliding shed door; the newly-arriving blackbirds chortling, an owl hooting at dusk;  banging ice from water buckets, dogs whimpering in excitement to go with me in the truck; the guys radio-ing me; the water running into the bath tub.

I taste...
Ham & eggs for breakfast and honey on toast for breakfast-dessert; black coffee; freshly-made cake doughnuts; milk; brown beans; afternoon oatmeal cookies; snow when Hazel Peach offers me a bite of her snowball;  fresh, clean water; grilled cheese sandwiches; more hot coffee.

I feel....
Tired; energized; cold; sick of winter and cold days; finally warm in the hot bath; glad that I can work hard and go to bed tired; blessed to live in the country and to be a part of new life; wet, cold hands dipping out chunks of ice from buckets; sorry for lambs with no mothers; happy for lambs with good mothers; sorry for lambs with crazy mothers; physically stronger for the hard work; hungry; like I need a nap; the need for spring; warm wool slippers on my feet; slimy, wet lambs in my hands; wet gloves; hugs from my family; satisfaction.


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