Monday, December 7, 2009

How Cold Can It Go?

I am not complaining.  I would rather have colder temperatures and sun shine during the day than warmer temperatures and endless fog, but this cold spell is a challenge for fair weather, heat seeking souls such as myself.  I took two hot water bottles to bed with me last night.  The heat from the gas heater in the living room just doesn't make its way 15 feet down the hall to the bedroom even if the ceiling fan is working at top speed.  The outside temperature this morning was 18 degrees.  The temperature in my bedroom this morning was 46 degrees.  What can I say, San and I have never left the heat on at night but tonight I think I will.  The forecast is for 9 degrees by morning.  I am so glad I don't have to worry about goats any longer, just four chickens who are huddled together in a snug little chicken house, but I wonder if they drank any water all day.  The fresh water I left out this morning was froze when I got home after work and it didn't look any lower than it did in the morning.  And what about the dog and the cat?  No worries, they are sprawled out in front of the gas flames of the heater, never yielding their pampered position.

Frosty Sunday Morn

Saturday was a miserably cold, foggy day.  San and I sat around the stove most of the day, not wanting to venture outside.  We finally forced ourselves out to put up Christmas lights at 2:00 in the afternoon.  We went to bed with forecasts of colder temperatures.  Sure enough, it got colder but, oh, the beautiful day that dawned Sunday.  San's theory is that all the fog froze in the night so no fog remained in the morning, only crystal clear air and white frosted beauty on every fallen leaf.  As we walked down to the Community Center for a Lion's Breakfast, I captured the frozen beauty and drank up the sparkling air.


Sunday, December 6, 2009

Hot Chocolate

If you want a wholesome but indulging cup of warm winter comfort, then tuck the pre-packaged hot cocoa mix away and stir up the real thing.  You can make it as wholesome and organic as you want.  The recipe calls for sugar but I have used agave, honey, and brown sugar instead.

1/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1 cup water

Mix these ingredients together in 2 quart saucepan.  Bring to a boil over medium high heat.  Boil for 1 minute, reduce heat to medium and add,

3 cups whole milk

Heat milk and chocolate, stirring occasionally until very warm but not boiling.  Remove from heat and add

1/4 cup of half and half
1 teaspoon vanilla

Serve immediately topped with whipped cream or marshmallow or peppermint sticks or enjoy it undressed in all its goodness and wholesomeness.

The secret to making this an enjoyable indulgence it to not over heat the milk.  When you add the half and half the chocolate milk becomes the perfect temperature to guzzle down for a gentle warming from the inside out.  A perfect way to start the day on these freezing foggy mornings.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Finding my lost puppy

Toby has been getting out of the yard lately but I kept patching hole and I thought the fence was secure when we left for Thanksgiving dinner at my moms on Thursday.  San went home while I stayed to play a game of Scrabble with the family.  San called to tell me Toby was missing.  After spending a miserable night worrying about him, and posting signs around the neighborhood the next morning, and calling animal control, a man called to say he had found a little black dachshund the night before on Rapp Road.  He thought he had been hit by a car because his eye, nose and mouth were bleeding.  He brought him back that afternoon.  Toby seems to be all right though a little more subdued than normal.  I hope Toby has learned a lesson and will be content to stay home from now on.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Finding long lost relatives

I found out that a section of the Rogue River is named "Gleason Bar." I discovered this when Sanford and I went for an Autumn hike recently. The hike was beautiful. We hiked from Graves Creek to Whiskey Creek, a 6 mike hike there and back. I was surprised to see my maiden name on the Forest Service map. I've been told, by relatives visiting Ireland, that "Gleason" is an English corruption of the Irish name Gleeson. Therefore, I am certain I must be related somehow to the person this part of the Rogue River is named after, even though there is no clear link that I know of; but the proof came only two days later when I attended the annual Sunny Valley Applegate Trail celebration with my mother. We discovered a lone surviving photograph of the early Gleason pioneer women. They hold a remarkable resemblence to my mother and me. I have always felt I had pioneer blood in me.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

It must be October

The flowers are still blooming even though we did have a frost last week. This is our new little black kitty. I haven't settled on a name yet. I am open to suggestions.

We had a wonderful surprise this fall. When I knew we would be selling the farm early this summer, I was sad to think I wouldn't be able to harvest the abundant apple and grape crop this fall. I knew the grapes at the new house wouldn't amount to much because the tenants had done nothing to keep the outside groomed or watered. I was wrong. The grapes growing along the back fence at our talent house are beautiful. We have had an ample harvest with lots to give away. And talk about taste. They are delicious and beautiful to behold.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Aesthetics and God

Commit thy works unto the Lord
and thy thoughts shall be established.
Proverbs 16:3

One of the details I was up set about when we moved into the Talent house was the heater. I suppose I should have been happy it worked, but I was not. It is the first thing you see when you step in the front door, and I want my house to be beautiful, not just livable. I asked Sanford about replacing the gas heater. He was not too enthusiastic about the idea, so I decide to do some investigating. I visited some local gas stove dealers to see what was available. I saw some beautiful stoves. Just the kind of heater I would like to have in my home. I especially liked the heaters with enamel finishes, but they were $1600 to $2000 or more. I knew San would never agree to spend so much on a new heater when the old one worked and would heat the house. $2000 for aesthetics was out of the question. So, I committed my desire to the Lord. I asked him to find me a new heater if it be his will.
Well, I wonder,
did the Lord come up with the idea for Craig's List?
My friend found a used heater on Craig's List. I went to look at. It was $400 dollars. I figured $400 was in the Fleming budget for aesthetics, but to tell the truth, I was not really excited about the stove. It would be better that the old one but not really what I wanted. A few days later I found a brand new stove on Craig's List for $450. It was beautiful. I could definitely feel proud to have that sitting in my front room, even if it wasn't finished in enamel. It had a matte black finish. I contacted the dealer and asked, no, I begged them to hold it for me. I didn't hear from them for 2 days, but when they called they said, "We'll hold it for you." That very afternoon I went to pay for it. When I came through the door I asked them if they had any other heaters for sale. "Only one they replied." Sitting next to the one I had begged to buy was a burgundy red, enamel finished, cast iron gas stove. I gasped with surprised amazement. The color was the exact color of my sofa and chair. I cautiously asked if I could buy that one instead. Yes! Yes, it was still available but it cost $300 more. I bought it. It is perfect. I could not have found a stove I would like better. It will be the first thing you see when you come to visit me. God hears the desires of our hearts and if we trust him, he will establish our thoughts and direct our steps. I think God likes beautiful things as much or more than I do. This burgundy red, enamel finished, cast iron gas stove is my latest "Ebenezar", my rock of rememberance.
"Thus far the Lord has helped me."
I Samuel 7:12

Psalms 37:4 & 5
Delight yourself in the Lord;
And He will give you the desires of your heart.
Trust also in Him, and He will do it.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

From Farm to Village

Psalm 33:22
"Let Thy mercy be upon me, O Lord, according as I hope in Thee."

My transition from the farm to our rental house in Talent has been difficult for me to accept, but in the end I did accept it and chose to trust in God for the grace to make a change I did not want to make. I can honestly say, I am glad to be living in Talent, once again. In fact, I love living where I am. Even though my home is not the picturesque cottage I would like it to be and there are many improvements that need to be made, I find joy in the many blessings I have received since moving here. Here is a partial list:
I have a neighbor (my son) from whom I can borrow anything.
I can walk to the store,
the post office,
the library,
the dentist,
my nurse practitioner,
the pharmacy,
my mother's house,
Sunday worship service,
and my friend Chloe's house.
I can catch the bus to work.
I can ride my bicycle home from work.
I don't have to carry the laundry up or down stairs.
I will be babysitting Dan Horton's children on Saturday, next best thing to being a Grandparent.
I can attend the Friday Market in Talent where I can buy fresh farm produce from local gardeners.
I have a new black kitten.
Neighborhood children stop by to visit.
I don't have any grass to mow,
so my week-ends are free for doing other things like taking a trip to Springfield.

I thank God for his bountiful mercies and continue to put my trust and hope in him.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Hi-Ho Cherry-O

When the cherries ripen at Bramble Creek Farm, one must call on friends, relatives, and strangers to come help bring in the harvest. As in the game, the dog gets a few, the birds get a few, and if we don't spill the bucket, the humans get a bunch.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Tom and Huck Together Again

To hear these two talk you'd thing Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn had been reunited again after 100 years. Actually, the man having breakfast with us is Wayne. He came into our lives last years and we consider him a "God Sent." He has helped Sanford get things running and fixed up around the farm just in time to find new owners for this 11 acres. While eating hash browns, bacon, and eggs washed down with lots of coffee, these two talked about plans to float down the Mississippi in a pontoon boat and to go ultralight flying, fishing in the bayous, and sailing up the gulf coast. This will all be financed with the gold they pan in Northeast Oregon. If they have their way, Tom and Huck will be turning with envy in their graves while San and Wayne show them how adventures are meant to be.

Call of the Wippoorwill

There are few sounds that can transport me back to a lazy summer day of my childhood more than the sound of quail calling out from the field and orchard. This beautiful bird sat all morning on top of the gasoline tank and called out to me while I finished brushing paint on the east side of the house, preparing it for the new farmer family who is buying the farm. As I listened to it sing its familiar tune I couldn't help but be filled with overwhelming gratitude to my family for the happy memories of growing up in this beautiful place. I am also grateful to my dear husband for returning here for the past 9 years, allowing me to experience farm life as an adult with all the joys and frustrations that come with it. I also couldn't help but think how I am going to miss this place that has been home to my family for 45 years. There is something sweet but a little bit sad in the call of the Whippoorwill. It's what leaving the farm sounds like.

Monday, June 8, 2009

The fairest of seasons

If there were ever a time to sell the farm it would be June. The farm is at its best during this fairest of all months. The entire 11 acres if still lush and green. We have just had a solid week of thunderstorms with rain everyday. The red climbing roses are looking their best. The early cherries are ripening. The birds are fluttering everywhere. Today I saw a yellow oriole and yesterday I saw a yellow finch, or some such bird. The hummingbirds have been drinking the feeder dry every week. And wouldn't you know it, that sweet, young, organic farming couple who looked at the farm, and showed an interest in buying, offered us a price we felt we could accept.

Jail Birds

The chickens had been flying the coop. Toby tried his hardest to keep them in their pen. He chewed on them and pulled them and chased them, but they still flew over the four foot fence like it was nothing. I was complaining to San. Well, okay, I was ranting and raving about how aggravating those chikens can be and how I should just get rid of them when he told me the obvious solution. Clip their wings. It is so easy and doesn't hurt them. The first project of the day Saturday morning was trimming the tips of the flight feathers off. The girls have stayed behind wire bars ever since. One still hops over the two foot fence dividing Toby's run from theirs. She lays an egg every day either in Toby's doghouse or just in front of his door.
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Thursday, May 14, 2009

Having the right gear

Sanford told me the roof on the big barn needed to be fixed. He was going to ask Justin to go up there and fix it.

I about blew a gasket! What!! You're going to ask my son to risk his life and limb by crawling over loose tin sheeting 60 to 70 feet in the air!!! All I could picture was Justin floundering about with a rope tied around his middle and the other end around Sanford.

Well, thanks to some friends, Justin borrowed Peter's tree scaling equipment. I wasn't there for the occasion but our neighbor, Poppie, snapped some shots of the event so I could see how it is done. Justin looks pretty relaxed. He had no problem securing the loose roofing.

Thank you Peter.
Thank you Poppie.
Thank you Sanford.
Most of all, thank you Justin for helping your Ma and Pa do a potentially dangerous job with such grace and ease. Next time I'll keep in mind the fact that any job is possible with the right gear and the right friends.

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Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The Blossoms of Spring

I predict it is going to be a good cherry year.
The cherry trees are in full bloom and the the weather is 90 degrees.

Standing under the canopy of white cherry blossoms,
I can hear a distinct hum from the hundreds of bee wings buzzing around my head.

The bees are flying from blossom to blossom,
around and around creating a constant cloud of movement and sound.

Looking through the lilac bush,
I can see the pear blossoms in the orchard next to our farm.

It seems the whole valley is in bloom.
I think it might be a good year for pears, also.

There is a sweet fragrance in the air.
I comes from the millions of crab apple blossoms.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Easter Joy

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Celebrating with friends - Easter 2009

With delicious food,
The day was bright.
In the company of friends,
No greater delight

A baby goat, Zoli and Ari, and curious llamas.

Oh, oh, there's llama poop in this egg. Toby's been up to his usual tricks.

Year of the Canadian Geese

For a month or more there has been a flock of Canadian Geese in or around the pond.
One day I counted 21 geese and 5 wild ducks.
That is the most wild geese I have ever seen at the pond.
I have felt honored when I have seen two geese on the pond, but 21 swells my heart
to near bursting with long for everything wild and free.
Every year I hear the wild, woodland sound of the geese as they honk to each other.
Every year a send telepathic messages to the geese.
"Stay here! Come back! You are welcome."
But every year I am disappointed when a few touch down for an evening
and are gone the next day.
For several years we have had
a goose couple hatch out young, but I never believed they survived the summer.
One summer, Jasmine hunted them. Chasing the mother and babies into the orchard.
The babies were too young to fly and so I thought they must have perished,
but now I think perhaps the goslings did grow to adulthood and have now
returned to their place of birth.
What an honor!
Bramble Creek Farm - home to a tribe of wild Canadian Geese
And to think,
they heard my messages all along.

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