Beautiful End to a Training Day
December 5, 2020, 2:26 pm
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December 5, 2020

I took this picture last night at sunset. It was a beautiful exclamation point. Yesterday was my mother’s birthday. She celebrates with the angels now. It was her 80th. I though about her many times yesterday. This sunset just seemed to signify that all is well.

I visited her gravesite, hot coffee in hand. I shared with her stories, tales of life events and happenings here on the farm. It makes me feel better. Mom passed too soon. I hope to keep her memory alive, as long as, I can share her stories, she can live through me.

First time out

Later in the day, our son Jake came by driving his yearling for the first time. She did great. He was all smiles too. I watched them walk up and down the driveway, as I cleaned the pig pens and horse stable. When he put the yearling “Anna” away, he was soon dashing through the snow with his horse “Belle”. That scene was made sweeter because he was pulling his kids behind him in a sled. They swooped around the farm lane and made a pass near mom’s resting place. The laughter was easy to hear as it echoed off the snow. It truly was a beautiful day…from beginning to end.

Because I Said So…
May 2, 2017, 10:09 pm
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May 2, 2017

Those four words still make my hackles stand up! I absolutely hate to hear those words. As a strong willed child, I did hear those words from my mother, quite often. I would try to reason with her, but once she said, “because I said so.”, that was it. There would be no more conversation of any kind. Unless of course I wanted to bring the house down upon myself!

As a parent, years later, I tried not to say those words. I realized that shutting down conversation is never good. I tried to listen to my children’s point of view. I didn’t reason with them very often, but I did try to take the time to explain my decision. If their persistence continued, then I would resort to “the look”. That “look” would also end conversation once I had gotten exasperated.

The difference between my mother’s approach and mine, was that I would revisit the conversation again once we were in neutral territory. I don’t mean to imply that I am a saint. I just wanted to give the other person, even if it was a child, the opportunity to share their opinion. I have been swayed by other’s logic and experiences more than once, by cooling off and listening….even the logic of a child.

Training children, is good experience for training young horses. The young horse has spirit, feelings and heart. They learn by repetition. I also think that kindness goes a long way. Make no mistake, I am in charge and we will do it my way, but I will allow a certain amount of playfulness. I want to train the youngster, not break its spirit. I will sometimes move to neutral territory to continue a lesson. I will look to see if something is out of order, like a sore spot or annoying harness part causing the distraction. I will check for flies, strange objects in view or new noises. I will not force my will at all costs.

I say again, I am the boss. We will do it my way, but I want to lead in such a way as to make the youngster want to please me. When they think its their idea that helps a lot. When they come to know that it is “our” idea, that is where teamwork begins. I could force my will. I could beat or threaten to beat my ideas into them…but that would only serve to make them hate me and it would only make me tired….that would be total failure!

Today’s “take away” is to lead by example. Take time to listen. Look for clues in other’s logic and experiences. Remember, there is more than one way to reach an objective. By softening your stance, you can still be in charge. You will foster teamwork, team building, respect and perhaps even love. So…lighten up! …. because I said so….

Waiting for Snow
December 4, 2015, 11:30 pm
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December 4 2015

Today marks my mother’s birthday. She has passed on, but rests here on my farm. I visited her today. As I sat and talked, I realized that we still have not had much snow. Mom liked winter when everything is covered in white. “The snow hides a lot of sin.”, she would say :o)  I couldn’t help but giggle at the thought.

Cinch and I are waiting for snow, but I don’t mind not having to shovel it yet. We are feeding hay and offering good places for the animals to sleep. The choice is theirs, sleep outside or under cover. They mostly sleep outside, unless the cold rain is falling. The hogs however pile together in a heap of straw. They, like me, enjoy a warm soft bed.

We are chasing firewood today and tomorrow. It will be used in 2017 to make maple syrup. It is almost fun getting wood when the woodshed is full. The stress is gone and the wood piles up quickly. The horses and I are dragging some in, but I scored four large maples from a city friend. He had them cut down and got a better price because I am taking the wood.

Bringing home the large amount, gave me the opportunity to connect with an old friend. He has a log truck. Tomorrow we will finish bringing it to the farm. I will have two and a half truckloads, lots of work and plenty to do….just the way I like it while I wait for the snow!

Bringing It Home
December 10, 2014, 9:33 am
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Headed for the woodshed

Headed for the woodshed

December 10, 2014

Yesterday, we spent the entire day hauling the cut and split wood to the sugarhouse woodshed. We needed to make room to be able to split more. We hauled four sled loads, then switched to the wagon and hauled two very large loads with it. The woodshed is filling up.

A friend of mine who heats his house with an outdoor wood burner, has been working with me. We are working on the “share” plan. I fill his trailer once or twice a day along with the loads to the woodshed. There is plenty of wood and it is good to have the help.

I am sure that I will have the sugarhouse woodshed full before the next round of bad weather comes. My buddy will have more wood stored away than anytime since he started burning wood. I want to keep right on going, making wood for next year. It will be a very good thing to be ahead of the game!

As I gather the lines, after the sled or wagon is loaded, and head for the woodshed, I am filled with a sort of peace. It feels as good as going home. The abundance of wood, stored under a dry roof reminds me of mom’s Christmas cookies. Maybe it is the anticipation of the maple syrup season, maybe its the dry wood shed, or perhaps it is just the feeling that all is well? I can’t describe it, but my heart is full, my mind satisfied.

I remember getting off the school bus and walking in the backdoor of my childhood home. It was mid December, snow was on the ground and Christmas decorations were about. On our old chest freezer, on top of a holiday table cloth, were rows and rows of Christmas cookies. The frosted ones were my favorite, but the other kinds were eaten with joy too.

Perhaps the rows of wood in the sugarhouse woodshed, remind me of the rows of cookies. I only know that it is mid December, snowflakes are falling and I am as happy as a child. My memories of mom are on my mind and like a full woodshed…that is all good!

Mom’s Place
April 22, 2014, 8:51 pm
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Mom's Final Resting Place

Mom’s Final Resting Place

April 22, 2014

Who doesn’t like to go to mom’s place? There are many happy memories there. I remember the smells of dinner cooking, fresh-baked cookies and Estee Lauder perfume. I remember hugs, comfort and a certain look…a look that could stop traffic, or at least a teenage boy from doing wrong. I remember love above all.

All of us have memory triggers that will fill our minds with thoughts, both good and bad. I am pleased to say, that most of my memories about mom’s place are happy ones. Now, since my mom has passed away, she rests here on my farm on a little hill next to the sugarhouse. I visit this place often.

Sometimes I talk to mom as if she were sitting next to me. Other times I just talk aloud complaining about some trivial thing that doesn’t matter in the big picture of life, but I feel better after I vent awhile. Often is the time when I simply sit quiet listening to the world around me. The peacefulness that surrounds me is as comforting as a hug.

My dad rests on this farm too. He lays under a hickory tree in my pasture. I discuss all things farming with him. I enjoy the time spent there, but I do wish that I could spend a few more hours with him, listening to his stories and corny jokes. I am sure that both he and mom are proud of my accomplishments and I take comfort that even though they are both gone, they are still very close.

I get to visit my parents graves without leaving my farm. I have had countless cups of coffee with them as I work out a problem or pour my heart out when life kicks me in the teeth. When I am depressed, cranky or heart-broken, I always feel better after visiting mom’s place. Some things never change I guess, and for that, I am very grateful.

The little hamlet where mom rests, is a spot she picked out. I chose the spot for dad. I know he would like to watch the animals, walk the furrows with me when I plow and feel the lines in my hands as I drive the horses. My mom loved maple syrup time, but I think it is more the laughter from the children who visit and the fact that I spend a lot of time in and around the sugarhouse, that caused her to pick her place.

My lambs are being born right now. The mother’s are doting over their babies. They keep them close and bleat when they get too far away. They nurse them and rest beside them. The lambs don’t stray too far…at least for now. The babies will grow fast and like all babies, will one day leave mom behind…we all did. Mom, will watch them go with a special sadness in her heart, as they make their way in the world.

Then comes the day when mom is gone, life is forever changed…A longing for the “good old days” will smack us in the head now and then, when we stop to remember her. The bond between mother and child is never broken. It might get bent sometimes, but a mother’s love is pure and everlasting … that is why, she is never really gone… just absent.

My mom has two places here on my farm. One place is that quiet place by the sugarhouse. The other place is deep in my heart where only goodness is found…..which according to some…is buried pretty deep. I hold her dear, remember her often and always feel pleased when I take the time to visit Mom’s Place.