Summer Faces
August 16, 2011, 10:03 pm
Filed under: August 2011
I love Fudgesickles

August 16, 2011

     This little boy came to help his daddy do our concrete. He had a great time playing on the farm. He ran and played with my grandchildren, fed the piggies and chased kittens. His favorite part was eating a fudgesickle after supper.
     I love fudgesickles too. I have learned to keep most of it in my mouth now and even off my shirt 😮  I will say though, that there is something neat about not giving a darn and just letting her rip! Another joy of childhood that is only a memory.
     Today is the anniversary of my father’s death. I went out to his gravesite and talked with him for a while. I miss him and it makes me feel good to visit now and then. He liked fudgesickles too, but our favorite was an ice-cold chocolate soda pop. Oh yea, and ice cream … we both love ice cream!
     When kids visit our farm, I am reminded of my dad. He liked kids of all ages. He could see good in all of them … and every now and then he had to look pretty hard! I will say though, that when I hear children playing, I think of him. It is a fitting tribute to a man who loved them so…. messy mouths and all!
     Elvis Presley died on this day too…. no wonder “I’m all shook up!”

Blissful Sleep
August 15, 2011, 11:40 pm
Filed under: August 2011
Sleeping like a baby

August 15, 2011

     My grandson slept in his stroller as a cement truck thundered by. He dozed happily as we poured the cement patio. The big trucks engine revved and lots of folks were shouting and talking loud. Our little snoozer kept right on sleeping as if all was quiet.
     I sleep like that from time to time, but only after some very hard work. Many nights I wake often thinking about the day ahead and things that I can’t change. My corporate world is one of stress and drama. The later taxes my sleep too much. It is the bliss found on this farm that relaxes my soul.
     People think that I work too hard here. I usually laugh it off. This farm work is not work to me. I can’t wait to set myself free and get lost in my projects, chores and horse time. I love this place. It nurtures me, heals me and keeps me healthy. I find true peace here and it is that peace that makes everything else in my life OK.
     My family is here. My friends gather here. My animals know me here and even the plants respond kindly to me. Sure, I have a bad day now and then, but mostly it is as good as it gets here on Earth. I don’t want to be anywhere else.
     My grandson slept feeling safe. He was surrounded by people who love him. He was protected in the shade and he had his binky to comfort him. I guess that darn thing comforts him… makes it hard for me to understand him, but he sure likes it. He did find comfort here, just as I do, no matter what else was going on.
     I am enjoying a few days off. I am not working hard, but have been working steady. I am accomplishing things that please me. I am enjoying the animals, harvesting the garden bounty and spending quality time with close friends and family. I am on vacation right here at 44047…who needs the Caribbean?
     We got another inch of rain last night. That makes a five-inch total since the storms started Saturday. Everything is well soaked and water stands in puddles. There is mud to navigate and the ditches a running too. The pond levels have recovered and the corn is reaching for the sun. All is well in my world and I am ever grateful.
     Tonight I will sleep the sleep of a child. My body is tired, my soul is full and my mind is filled with peace. I don’t have a binky… but I am comforted just the same 😮

Cementing Friendships
August 14, 2011, 9:21 pm
Filed under: August 2011
The patio goes in, friendships are cemented

August 14, 2011

     My son and his friend put our patio in. They stamped the concrete to look like flagstone. It went very well and looks nice. They had quite a bit of help from their children, but survived it anyway 😮
     My son and his buddy have been friends since they were very small boys. They grew up near each other and spent lots of time together. They played little league and other sports all the way through high school.
     They learned life lessons together. One that comes to mind revolves around a few beers, a muddy pasture, a small truck  and physics. You can’t push a small truck out of a muddy pasture in the middle of the night after a few beers … and you have to tell Dad.
     I was not too tough on them. I pulled them out, praised them for not drinking and driving and kept most of their secret, between us. I still keep a few secrets for them. I have also shared my dis-pleasure with them in such a way that they kept on the straight and narrow in spite of testosterone.
     I watched the two of them work and was very proud of both of them. They worked hard, cared about what the did and exemplified teamwork. Their children watched, waited and learned as well. Those little kids will one day be great friends too, I bet.
     I have enjoyed watching my sons and “Ryan” grow up together. I am enjoying even more watching them become men, husbands and daddys. I am proud to have been a part of who they are and thank God for that pleasure.
     Most folks will see our patio and see a slab of stamped concrete. I look at the cement and see a lifetime of love and guidance, along with a friendship that will last the test of time.        Thank you boys … you are doing real good!

“Fair Gone Conclusion”
August 11, 2011, 9:11 pm
Filed under: August 2011
Harness Room

August 11,2011

     The Ashtabula County fair is in full swing. We were among the attendees today. The horses got the day off from manure spreading. I guess I got the day off too.
     We looked at many projects, garden produce, maple syrup, homemade wine, grains, hay and of course, all the livestock. The children were busy showing their animals and tending to them as well. I have many fond memories of the fair and going takes me back to a much simpler time.
     The food smells wonderful as do most things that aren’t good for you … but it is only one day. We ate some of our favorites things, walked along and watched the people too. I kept remembering folks that I once knew, events that had happened and they made me smile.
     We went to the draft horse barn. My feelings there were bittersweet. The horses all looked good. The wagons, carts and harnesses all were clean and show ready too. My only trouble was, that many men and women who I associated with in the draft horse world, were missing. They have mostly died away. I miss many of them ……..
     Perhaps one day we will show our horses at the county fair. It seems my off farm job gets in the way for now. Oh well, one day we will show as a family. The horses are ready, it’s just me that is the weak link. I need to be there someday, to honor those who mentored me, taught me and shared with me.
     Today was another beautiful northeast Ohio day. Sunny, warm and breezy with a hint of excitement in the air. The 4-H kids worked on livestock projects, social networking and building relationships that will last a lifetime…. Funny thing though, most have not one clue… They just think they are having fun!

Did you hear they are ripe?
August 10, 2011, 2:52 pm
Filed under: August 2011
Hoss and Knight discussing work

August 10, 2011

     It looks to me like my horses are talking in this photo. I bet they are talking about me and the work we are doing. There is a chance, however, that they are asking if the other knew that the blackberries are ripening. They sure are, I ate a few yesterday while checking on their progress.
     Blackberries are a free gift from nature. They grow on their own. They don’t have to be weeded, trimmed or cared for in any way. They just come up, blossom, set fruit and then die. They self seed leaving a new crop for the next generation. They bloom and fruit the second year, so don’t trample the lush new growth as you pick the berries.
     The price we pay for the fact that there is not much work involved in growing them, is that they grow on prickers. I suggest a long-sleeved shirt and a hat for the serious picker. It makes the whole experience better as you fight the thorns while sweating in the heat of August.
     I have picked blackberries since I was a boy. My grandpa and grandma Rice were the most accomplished pickers that I ever knew. My grandpa was no doubt a picking champion. He would pick with a bucket hung on his belt. His fingers flew over the fruit and his bucket filled rapidly. I still remember his purple hands, scratched arms and full pail. I mostly had purple lips, cut fingers and a sweaty brow.
     Berry picking is just one more chapter that fills my memory book. I have passed this skill on to my children. My oldest son is showing his kids how to pick … they learned how to eat them all by themselves..just like I did  😮 
     The berries make awesome pies. Many I know like to eat them in a bowl of milk or cream, but not me man, blackberries are for pies! I hope to march out into the woods, armed with my bucket, long-sleeved shirt and plenty of resolve. I will fight the thorns, deer flies and God only knows what else, to pick the free fruit. It is worth the effort … really it is!
     More rain here, mixed with sunny skies. It is a beautiful day for work, play or berry picking. The humidity is low and the temperature is in the mid 70’s. A cool breeze blows upon your skin and your whole body is comfortable. This is the summer weather that I like. It is days like this that make the freezing, deep snow of winter all worth it.
     I guess living in the land of ice and snow, working in a garden, picking sweet fruit among the thorns, is a lot like life … the reward at the end is the real prize 😮

Talking to a friend
August 9, 2011, 2:27 pm
Filed under: August 2011
Just horsing around

August 8, 2011

     There are times when you visit with a friend and there are times when you talk to a friend. I think visiting is when both people share in the conversation. Talking to a friend is a wonderful thing too. You can talk about yourself as long as it’s not a bunch of bragging gibberish, but rather sharing things, so your friend knows you even better.
     You can also be talking to your friend, because nobody else can get through to him. Perhaps he has a mental block about something and just needs a rational guy to help snap him out of it. Middle aged men get these a lot. They get stuck on fast cars, women or tattoos and need a poke now and then to help clear their minds … no you are not a young man anymore .. get over it 😮
     You can talk to your friend and share a business plan or some other life long dream and he won’t pass judgement, just listen and offer suggestion based upon his experience. The best thing is that no matter what you talk about, a true friend, keeps it to himself and tells no other.
     My friend made it through his surgery and is recovering in the hospital. Soon he will be able to go home. I will need to talk to him and encourage him. It will make us both feel better. I want to be sure he knows that his current situation is an inconvenience and not a set back. He is only bent and not broken.
     I talk to my horses all the time. I think they humor me and listen even though they don’t speak English. They understand, but do not speak. Like a true friend, they don’t have to. I can see the genuine caring in their eyes and body language.
     One time Lucy( my old Border Collie) and I were horsing around. She let out a kind of low growl that sounded like “I love you.” I was amazed . The cat walking nearby stopped, shook its head and said, “Holy crap a talking dog!.” …. and Then I woke up 😮
     Friendship is like that. You can horse around, be yourself and your friend will forgive you anyway. Heck, they might even act goofy now and then too! Well, at least let their guard down a little and relax, letting the wonderful waves of life,wash over them.
     I guess my point is, be a friend who will talk when the silence is deafening. Start conversation and help a friend over a rough spot. Encourage them, motivate them or just share with them. Give yourself permission, to be a friend to someone dear. Take time out of your busy day and the hustle and bustle that is life, to spend a few minutes being a friend to someone. It is not just what you can get from them, but rather … what you can give.
     You might ask me how I know this stuff … That’s easy .. My horse told me.

Low Hanging Fruit
August 8, 2011, 3:17 pm
Filed under: August 2011
Last years clearance apple tree

August 8, 2011

     This picture is of a few apples hanging on a branch of a tree we bought in the late spring of 2010. It was half price. I planted it and thought what the heck, if it grows it grows. I guess you could say that I picked low hanging fruit that day at the tree and shrub sale. We bought this Gala and a McIntosh to start our little orchard. So far so good 😮
     The orchard is made up of semi-dwarf trees. The fruit may take a step-ladder to pick one day, but still not the job of standard trees. I am looking out for my old age. I do, however, think I will plant some standard trees around the farm for my grandchildren to harvest one day.
     We got a nice rain last night. It measured three-quarters of an inch in the rain gauge. It came down slow and steady soaking into the ground. It sure made things jump today. The zucchini is in HIGH gear!  Talk about low hanging fruit!
     I have a friend who is under the weather a bit today. He is having some surgery that everyone calls routine. I think they don’t have chores to do. Small surgeries, bad flu or even a twisted ankle makes choretime a bummer. The animals don’t understand. They are counting on you … sick or not. It might be routine if all you do is lay on the couch and watch TV.
     He lives too far away for me to go help and make it home in time to do my own chores. I would help if I could and it pleases me to know that he knows I would too. His wife will be the chore person today and for the next few days. It’s a good thing she is a trooper and that she really loves her husband.  He is lucky too to have such a great partner. In this case, it’s a good thing he didn’t settle for the low hanging fruit.
     I believe there is merit when taking the easy way, but I have found, that the stuff worth getting is well worth the effort. Don’t settle for the low hanging fruit, reach for the good stuff. The highest fruit on the tree is often the sweetest..raise the bar, reach for the stars..go get the ladder.