Homeland Farm

Homeland Farm

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Fire in the hole!

      I will admit I am a pretty good cook. Growing up, I spent long hours at Nanny's side, learning how to make good, old fashioned farm food. Nothing fancy, just plain, wholesome food, much of it raised right here on the farm. So tonight I thought I would try a new dessert. It is a "S'more Pie", and has a rich chocolate layer on a graham cracker crust, with broiled marshmallows on top. The filling came out perfectly, so I spread the layer of marshmallows on it and popped it into the oven to lightly brown the top and melt the marshmallows.
       It wasn't long at all when I heard the stove start a continual beep. I thought, " Huh, I must have hit the timer when I set it to broil." As I got up from the table to go check and see if it was done yet,  I noticed the stove's panel read "F1" and it kept blinking. "Huh," I said again. "What do you think that means, Cliffy?" I asked as I opened the door. Well, apparently it stands for FIRE, as yes, my dessert was burning like a bonfire when I opened the oven door.
      "CRAP!" I exclaimed, as I dragged out the pie and set it down on top of the burner. Liam jumped up from his chair by the stove, afraid for some unknown reason. I didn't know why. I took my pot holder and kind of beat down the flames, and stood back looking at my new dessert. My little mini marshmallows looked like dark, cultivated blueberries scattered over the top. Now, if you read yesterdays blog, you know darn well if I wasn't going to let a coyote killed turkey go to waste, I was sure as heck not going to waste chocolate! After all, chocolate is the base of my own personal food pyramid.
      What did my beloved have to say to all the fireworks he had witnessed? I believe it was as follows, and I quote.."I'm surprised that's the first time you've seen that F1 message in all the years you've had that stove." Funny guy, my Cliffy. I took a fork, and carefully peeled off the blackened marshmallows, and brought the "not quite as pretty as the picture on the recipe" pie to the table. Oddly enough, I was the only one that wanted to eat some. And perhaps even more oddly, except for the occasional crunch of blackened marshmallow, it was quite tasty. I think my kitchen bloopers are inherited because, even though my grandmother was a great cook, she too had a few mistakes in the kitchen.
       There was one time she was preparing a delicious Thanksgiving dinner at her house next to the farm. The whole family was there to eat, and all except my sister and I were in the livingroom, laughing and chatting as Kim and I helped Nanny get dinner on the table. Back in those days, we not only cooked a turkey for dinner, but also a roast pork and gravy. Us farm folks were good eaters! We were bustling around the kitchen, setting the table, mashing potatoes and turnip, and getting everything ready. Nanny reached in the oven and took out the roaster. She set it on the stove and took off the cover. There was the succulent roast pork, all golden and yummy looking. I got her the platter and she took the meat out and set it on the platter. Then she picked up the platter of meat to go set it on the table. As she made her turn, platter in hand, it happened. That golden brown, juicy cooked to perfection pork roast, slid right off the platter and into the sink of hot, soapy water.
       Kim, Nanny and I all froze. Nanny looked down at the now empty platter in her hands, and then at me. I looked at Kim, and then at the sink full of water. Suddenly, we were jolted out of our coma by Nanny swearing, something she NEVER did. We all rushed to the sink, and watched as Nanny plunged her hands into the water and pulled out the dripping, sudsy, sparkling clean pork roast. I turned on the water, and Nanny rinsed off the meat. Kim held out the platter and Nanny plopped the meat on it, then grabbed a paper towel and started to blot it dry. By now, we were ALL trying not to bust a gut from laughing. From the living room came, " Everything all right out there??" "Oh yes," my grandmother said, as she rushed to the spice draw and took out the "Bells Seasoning" she uses on her pork. She gave the meat a liberal shake, and a sprinkle of fresh salt just as people started to file into the kitchen. Kim and I tried not to let on anything, as we finished getting the food on the table.
      Everyone sat down, grace was said, and we all started to pass the food around the table. Once everyones plates were full, the good natured laughing and chatting stopped and  the family started to eat. We had only just begun, when my mother exclaimed " Ma, this is the best pork I've ever had." As everyone nodded in agreement, Kim and I burst out laughing, as we told them the story of how our dinner was washed before it was served.
     I thought I would include a photo of tonights dessert and the recipe for those people that like S'mores. It is a very rich, chocolatey good pie. However, I would caution everyone..The marshmallows? Yeah, they brown very quickly, and should smoke roll from your stove? Its done.

                                    S'More Pie

One graham cracker pie crust
one cup heavy cream
8 oz semi sweet chocolate -chopped or use choc chips like I did..no chopping!
3 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups mini blue, oh, umm mini marshmallows

 Put your chocolate chips, or choc pieces into a bowl, then     
 Bring the cream just to a boil. Pour it over the chocolate chips.
 Let it sit for 5 minutes, then whisk until it is smooth. Then whisk in eggs,
 and vanilla. Pour into shell and bake at 350 degrees, until it is set. When ready to serve, pour the marshmallows over the top.Turn your oven on broil, with the rack set 5 inches from broiler. Place pie in oven and DONT TURN YOUR BACK ON IT. As I was just reading the recipe to write this, the last line says.."Broil until toasted, watching carefully to prevent scorching, approx 20-30 seconds. NOW they tell me......
     

Monday, January 30, 2012

Raccoons, Coyotes, and Foxes, Oh my!

     I have always loved living in the country, and was outside playing, riding horses, and fishing all my life. I really can't imagine growing up anywhere else but here. I am quite thankful I never had "Gameboys" or "Xboxs" to waste endless hours playing. I love nature, with all it's flora and fauna. Here in Maine, we have always had a vast array of wildlife, and still do to this day.
      Which brings me to a problem I have had to handle for years, and frankly, I have not done a very good job. As a "gentle-woman" farmer, I have always owned chickens. We have never NOT had hens actually. I have eaten farm fresh eggs for so many years I think I would probably have an allergic reaction to store bought eggs. I love my biddies, and even though we  have had as many as 120 at once, we still have favorites and names for some of them. We like to let our hens "free range", meaning they are loose to roam and eat delicious grass, worms and bugs. That is what makes the fresh taste and bright yellow yolks farm eggs have. ( I tell my girls to go a little easy on the worms..yuck..)
      The problem is, not only do we like to see our free ranging hens out enjoying their day, but so do varmints. They LOVE a nice free range hen. And, of course, there are so many different varmints around that there is a never ending supply of critters trying to eat  my biddies. I know I just sounded like Ellie May Clampett,  but I was trying to make a point. We have seen, here at Homeland Farm over the last several years: Lynx, Bobcats, Coyotes, Foxes, Fisher Cats, Weasels, Black Bear, Eagles and Hawks, and some very large animal that Cliffy and others think is a wolf hybrid, or extremely large coyote. It is truly amazing we have a feathered friend left on this farm, and were it not for the diligence of the farmer and farmer's wife, we wouldn't.
      Now, I am a "live and let live" person. I have never killed a creature in  my life. Until I met Cliffy, I never had access to a gun, which was probably a good thing. I used to live next door in my grandparents house, before I moved into Homeland Farm with my family. We had chickens in my Uncle Billy's barn, and had been having terrible trouble with foxes. I started sleeping with my "Blank" shooting gun near my bed, so I could get up and grab it if I heard something at night, or in the early morning. One such morning, I heard a commotion outside my window, which faced the barn. I was more then half asleep, but rolled over and grabbed the blank gun and started hollering "GET OUT OF HERE"! As I pulled the trigger, in bed. In a house full of sleeping kids. Several times. I laugh now as I think of that. The explosion of hollering and dog barking and gunfire, was, at a later time, very amusing. The kids all came running into my room, and by now I had gotten up and was looking out the window, watching the fox high tailing it down back, as fast as he could. Brogan hollered "What the heck?Why did you shoot in the house, for Gods sake?" I turned around to answer her, and she burst out laughing. I had fired apparently at very close range, because my face was all black with gun powder. That, dear friends, is why I never owned a real gun.
     I often had to use whatever was at hand however, to save the girls. One night I was asleep, and yet again, I hard the sound of chickens in duress. I leapt out of bed,  and ran to the barn, opened the hen house door, and flipped on the light. There, in all the dust, feathers, and chaos, was THE biggest, fattest raccoon I had ever seen. He was standing up straight, reaching up with his cute little hands, trying to get to the window he had come in through. He stood over 3 feet tall, with his arms stretched up. BIG and FAT.
And now, he turned around and made his run for freedom. Which of course, was the door, right behind me. I was wearing the latest in raccoon chasing gear..my granny nightgown.
      I hollered my usual cry of "GET OUT OF HERE!" and kicked out at him as he ran by me, out the door into the dark alley where we had no lights. I only grazed him and he disappeared into the darkness. It is hard to get a good purchase when you are kicking in a nightgown, I discovered.
I ran out behind him, and started running down the alley toward the front of the barn. I looked down and darned if he wasn't running right along side of me, casting an uneasy glance my way as we both huffed and puffed down the alley. I was in my "prime" back in those days, so I turned on the juice and got ahead of him. I burst out into the front cow stanchion area and grabbed my broom. Now all this did not take place in silence. The hens were still cackling, and squawking and I was hollering and hooting and cursing, and that fat raccoon was snarling and hissing and we were both running barefoot. He ran into the cow area, saw the open door behind me and made a run for it. I hoisted up my floor length granny night gown, and swung that broom as he ran past me. I paddled his fat butt the whole length of the stanchion room, hollering and hooting like a maniac. I can honestly say, I never saw that raccoon again.
     Foxes are a different story. Once they find a good hunting spot, they come back. Often. This spring we had a terrible time with foxes. They started coming around early, and that was it. They came almost every day. They varied it just enough so you didn't know for SURE they were going to be here, but more often then not, they were. Foxes are truly sly, clever creatures, and NOT afraid of humans. After they had killed several of our hens, over a few week period, I said we have to get serious. They figured out that my blank shooting gun was just that..shooting blanks. It wasn't until we busted out Cliffy's real guns, that they were scared. Slighty. But, not if I was shooting. They knew there was no danger there. You know the old expression " Can't hit the broadside of a barn"? Yeah, that was me. On several occasions, they attacked so fast, I never had time to even get a gun out. ( I'm apparently NOT in my prime any longer...)
     Once I was sitting in  my office, not even daring to have my music playing for fear of missing the R.A.B. ( Rooster Alert Broadcast), when a fox ran past the back barn door, not 10 feet from where I sat, chasing a poor hen. I bellowed my usual war cry "HEY! GET OUT OF HERE!!" and ran out the door. The gun was down in the laundry room and I knew I didn't have time to go get it. He heard me holler and ran past the hen, and squeezed through the horse pasture fence behind our back lawn. I grabbed what was handy, a shovel, and started banging it on the metal of the four wheeler and waving it around in the air. The fox stopped, turned around and looked at me. The little bugger was sizing me up! I could almost hear him thinking.." Oh man, thats the slow gimpy one thats past her prime and can't shoot. What am I running for??" He actually turned around, and headed BACK toward the barn! "CRAP! CLIFFY! WHERE ARE YOU??" I hollered. This was war. I didn't get a responce from Cliffy, so I ran back to the laundry room and grabbed the gun (out of the mixing bowl, of course) and ran, kind of, down to the barn. Mr and Mrs Guinea were having a royal conniption so I knew he was close by. Sure enough, there he was sneaking through the grass, headed toward the chicken coop. I leveled that gun, and BLAM!" Missed him by this much", as Maxwell Smart would say. However, it was enough to scare him off..for THAT day.
     The foxes stopped coming by as suddenly as they started. By mid summer, we never saw another fox again. I assume they were killing to feed their kits, so I was glad we never killed any. I just hope they don't come back again this year.
      The strange thing last year was that while we had a mess of foxes, we didn't have any coyotes. The last we saw was the fall before, when one of them got one of our turkeys, free ranging of course. The thing about poultry is, if there is a way to get killed, they will find it. The turkeys liked to free range as much as the hens, so for a short time each day, we would let them out and they would wander and eat grass. There is an old wives tale about turkeys being dumb, and I can verify it is true. We had to chase those things out of the road, out of the flower beds, out of the horse stalls etc. It was like they were desperate to find a way to die. Well, one day, Cliffy and I walked out the back door to see where they were, and they were caught on the backside of a fenced in area, which of course, abutts the woods. Where the varmints live. Cliffy walked down to herd them back out, and suddenly hollered "Carmen! Get my gun!" I looked down  and didn't see a thing, so therefore wasn't about to run if I didn't need to. "What is it?? What do you see?" I yelled back.
     "A coyote or some sort of large animal just killed our biggest turkey!" he responded.
     "Crap!!" I said, as I walked down toward the woods. "Is it still there?"
      "No, its gone, but boy that was big." He said he really didn't think it was a  coyote. It was really tall, and had a real long tail and swung his head around to look at Cliff when he approached. When Cliff turned to tell me to get the gun, it disappeared.
      My mind was on to other matters now. "Is the turkey dead?" I asked. Cliffy was in the woods now. "Yes, its dead. Its our biggest." I thought for a moment..then said.."How bad is it? Did he make a mess of it?" Yep, I know you know where this is going. He said it only had a broken wing and his neck was crunched, where the animal had hauled it out into the woods.
     So, I said..." Drag that bad boy out here and we can dress it out. A broken wing won't matter and we have to cut off the head anyway." So, with the banjo tune from "Deliverance" playing in my head, Paw and I dressed out that ole turkey and stashed it in the freezer. Brogan said to me the other day "What is in the freezer in the trash bag that looks like a small human?"
I said.."That's some vittles for next time you bring yer fella home for a visit. It's called Coyote Turkey." She thinks I'm kidding...

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Granny Nightgowns..NOT just for sleeping.

     I love my granny nightgowns. I am sure there are lots of people that do. Mine are a lot more then nightwear however. They serve several purposes for me. They are casual wear, lounge wear, even business wear. They are mostly plaid, and when they are all clean and stacked up on my shelf where I keep them, they look like a "Gathering of the Clans" in Scotland. I do have a few flowered models, as well . I like to have a wide variety to choose from. I have some that are floor length, mid calf, and some knee length. All, very sexy.
      I can usually be found in a granny nightie from 7pm until 10-11 am, and perhaps on a Sunday, all day. I think I inherited my love of flannel from my Aunt Dorothea. She could often be found running the vacuum around in the afternoon, still granny clad. I know I didn't inherit it from my mother, who, A) doesn't wear granny nighties, and B) cringes every time she hears of someone new catching me in my granny.
      Like today, for example. It was a new egg customer, who stopped in and wanted three dozen eggs. I had never seen him before, and now, probably never will again. I was folding laundry on the kitchen table, while chatting with Brogan on the phone. ( I am a fierce multi-tasker). Spud the Wonder Dog was next door on his morning visit, and the poodle is pretty close to deaf, so no one was around to let me know someone was pulling in. Since  I was sitting behind a huge mound of laundry, I was oblivious.
      "Crap!" I said to Brogan, as the guy stepped on the porch and knocked on the door. "There is an egg customer here.." to which Brogan replied, "And I'm sure you are in your nightgown". "Yes, of course", I said, after all, it was only 10:30 am. "Don't answer the door," she suggested, as I sat looking at the guy across the top of the clothes pile, which I had thought earlier was too darn big, and now thought it wasn't nearly big enough.
      " I can't ignore him. He is looking right at me, knocking on the door", I said, which seemed a bit peculiar to me. He was standing on the porch, not 10 feet from me, looking directly at me, knocking. Weird. Anyway, as I went to the door I was glad at least it isn't my ripped granny nightgown, of which I have two. ( Parting with a flannel nightie is very hard for me to do. They are just at their softest when they start to tear. It is tragic that way.)
      "How many dozen did you want?" I asked the guy through a crack in the door. I noticed how he was trying not to look too closely, yet, couldn't seem to tear his eyes away from the vision of plaid loveliness that stood in front of him. " Umm...three would be great", he said, clearly thinking, if I get three, I will never have to come back. "Okay, hang on", I said. I realized there was no way this guy was going to be any trouble, so I told Brogan I would talk to her later. Although, I'm not exactly sure what I expected her to do should he have been trouble. Holler bloody murder on the phone?
      I went out to the laundry room, trying to not sway and wobble too much, and was thankful I had my floor length model on today. They are great at covering up my Cankles. I grabbed three dozen which were  thankfully all  boxed up. I would hate to have had to sit there and wash and box 36 eggs while the guy stood watching me, in my nightie, from the cold porch. I quickly gave the man his eggs, and sent him on his way...just as the dog started to bark. Day late and an egg short there ,dog.
      Not that it has only been egg customers to catch me not ready to face the day. There was the oil guy, the guy that rents upstairs, the farrier. I am pretty sure the UPS guy has too, since they recently changed drivers. I heard our old driver requested a different route. I am sorry to say I suspect I had a hand in that. It isn't always my fault however. The other day, my daughter had a couple horses she was saving delivered here by an old family acquaintance. The new owners were going to be arriving at the same time with their trailer to pick them up. I knew all this, and said to Cliffy, "I better get dressed early today. I don't want Pete to catch me in my nightgown." He agreed, as Cliffy always does, ( a mighty good fella, Cliffy..)and I walked through the house to get dressed. As I walked toward our room, Lacy scratched the door to go out. She is 14 years old now, and can't be trusted to hold it too long, so I peeked out the window, saw nothing, opened the door and let her out. I stood in the living room window and watched as she hopped down off the porch and disappeared. Now, she is getting a bit senile, and is so small, I didn't dare leave her outside to go get dressed in case they pulled in with trailers in tow, and didn't see the little dog. So, I peeked again, nothing. I opened up the door, and called her. No poodle. I could hear what sounded like trailers coming down the road, clattering and banging. Again, I said "Crap!" I ran out on the porch, and looked and there she was half way across the lawn, sniffing around. "Lacy!! " I hollered. She can't hear a thing, so didn't respond. " LACY! GET OVER HERE!!" I bellowed this time. She had her back to me and didn't move a muscle. By now I looked down the road, and here comes Pete, early, darn him.
      I leaped off the porch as graceful as a gazelle, ( on three legs, with a monkey riding on his back), and hurried over to where the dog was. I snatched her up off the ground, and turned to hurry back to the porch. I saw the truck put its blinker on out of the corner of my eye. "Crap!" yet again. I whipped open the door, jumped inside, slammed it and went to close the inside door when I realized I had closed my long, flowing flannel in the door. About 3 feet of bright red flannel was flapping in the light breeze, as I stood clearly, right in the doorway. If the truck had been a bull, he would have charged, there was that much red waving. I dropped the poodle, quickly opened the door, yanked my nightie in, and slammed it again. I closed the inside door, and decided there was enough people out there to move the horses from trailer to trailer. They really didn't need my help.
      Now, I know what your thinking. Why not get dressed? I don't know. My granny nightgowns are so comfy, I just love them. Heck, my prom dresses were as close to a granny as you could get, I realized many years later, looking back at old photos. I've even said I want to be buried in one, on my side. ( I hate the thought of spending eternity on my back). And surely, not in anything, but a flannel granny nightgown. Say, I have a wedding coming up...Think they make white flannel?

Saturday, January 28, 2012

A short photo collection from Homeland Farm

       Howdy from Homeland Farm. Tonight, I thought I would share a few photos from us here on the farm. I thought it would be a good way to introduce you to the animals and people that call this place home. We have 5 horses, 4 cats, 2 dogs, and approximately 50 laying hens. Plus, Mr and Mrs Guinea, our pair of guinea fowl. We love Mr and Mrs Guinea. They answer me when I call them and come running for food. They actually listen better then my children, come to think of it.
       This is a picture of some of the turkeys we raised last year, in their new Turkey Hotel. The animals live pretty well here at Homeland Farm. We raised Giant White and Bourbon Red turkeys.









This is a giant black turkey...no, no..wait..This is actually my oldest son Cameron, chilling with the birds after we moved them into their new grassy pen.









This is our Thoroughbred Amira, and a pal last winter. We got way too many "free" roosters in our pullet order from the hatchery, so we had to separate the extra roosters from the 3 we decided to keep, until we found a home for them. This guy found a nice warm roost for the nights. Amira is so good, she didn't even mind when he climbed up and sat on her neck.
The girls had a very busy spring. We were getting 10-12 dozen a day from all our hens. We unfortunately had alot of trouble with the foxes this year. I will tell that story at a later date...It was an exciting time at Homeland Farm.




Farmer Daigle needed new haying equipment very badly. Nothing makes a fella happy like a new tractor!





Look closely at this picture...The cat is on the dog bed, and the dogs are on the glider, and the humans are standing. " And that," says Spud the wonder dog, "is how it should be."
That's Lacy the toy poodle sitting with him and Sipsy Sue, the "Katrina" cat in the background.


      Then, this would be Muffinhead, the black cat, and her pal Stewie. Muffinhead, aka Muffinbrains, Muffinezer Scrooge, was found by Brogan as a kitten on the side of the road. Stewie, aka Stewbeef, Beefer, Beefaroni, Baby Beef, Justin Beefer, was a rescue cat. Neither have missed many meals, and both have ALOT of personality. Just ask them...they will tell you.
      So, here are a few more members of the family. I have many animal stories I can share. They give us alot of joy, headaches, and from time to time, heartbreak as well. That is all part of Life here at Homeland Farm.

Friday, January 27, 2012

I'm just glad it wasn't me....

      I have had horses in my life since I was a kid with a cranky pony. Like I mentioned in an earlier blog, I have fallen off a horse every way possible. Some ways, I didn't even think were possible, but I managed to pull it off. I think everyone that rides has their share of stories about being bucked off, or scraped off, or knocked off. Which is exactly what happened to my sister Kim one day when I tried to be the "kind, older sister" and take my younger siblings for a ride. I got in trouble. It was the last time I played "kind, older sister."
       My brother Zak, the youngest in our family, had gotten a cranky pony of his own. Her name was "Duchess" and she was as wide as she was tall. Zak didn't really want a mare pony..he was hoping for a gelding so he could name it the name he wanted, and when it didn't quite work out like that, he went ahead and named his fat little female pony "THUNDER BOY" anyway. So, my sister Kim, who was a "delicate" little thing kept teasing that she also wanted to go riding with Zak and I. The problem was we only had Duch..err Thunder Boy, my horse Angel and her 4 year old filly Flicka. Now, I had been working with Flicka, and she was well on her way to being trained. So, I figured for a nice slow ride down to the powerline, I would ride Angel (I was the only person that could ride her), zak would take his pony, and Kim would ride Flicka.
       So, we all went out to the barn, and I was a wonderful instructor. I showed my eager younger siblings how to brush the horses correctly, and how to apply fly spray, then finally I helped them get all saddled up. We led the horses out of their stalls and walked out into the pasture. I helped Kim get up on Flicka, and Zak straddled his fat steed, and I walked over to open the gate that lead down through the woods toward the powerline.
      As I was opening the gate, Flicka was getting a bit excited at the prospect of a ride. She started to act a bit sassy, throwing her head, turning around and  just generally acting excited. I told Kim, "don't pull her head up too much..let her have a little rein." Zak and his pony stood beside Angel as I swung open the gate. When the gate creaked open, Flicka spooked a little bit, and Kim, not being the MOST experienced rider, yelled. Well, that did it. I knew our ride was over, before it really began. Flicka started to trot along the fence line. Kim was bouncing up and down, weakly pulling back on the reins, and almost whispering "whoa..whoa." Me, being the pro here, started to holler out directions. "Let go of that saddle horn and use both hands to pull back!"
      Kim, of course, ignored the wise coaching from the side lines and continued to bounce along, as Flicka made a nice slow turn, and headed along the edge of the woods. Now Flicka wasn't out of control, or mean, or even trying to get rid of Kim. She was merely trotting along the woods, enjoying her day. "Whoa, Will you please whoa? " came my sister's plaintive voice. One more time, I hollered to her, "Kim! Let GO of that saddle horn, and pull her up!"
      Well, it was not meant to be. In what seemed to be slow motion, Flicka casually trotted along the treeline, where she  ducked under a low pine branch, and, you guessed it, Kim didn't. Whap! Kim did a really nice somersault off the back of the horse and crashed to the ground. If I was an Olympic judge, that dismount would have been a 10! At this point, Zak had slid off the pony, and was standing beside me. According to him, I sighed heavily, passed him Angel's reins, and said "I'll be right back." I started to walk over to where Kim lay in a heap, and I think I had started in on the old saying  about "getting right back up on a horse when you fall off etc", when Kim staggered to her feet, and said those words I always hated to hear. " I'm going to go tell mother," and then she bolted for the house. Great, just great.
      I knew our ride was over for sure now, so I told Zak we might as well go back and unsaddle the horses. We lead them back to the barn, and I had just taken Flicka's saddle off, when I heard the dreaded call I had been expecting. "Carmen!! Get in here"! Great, just great. Zak said, " Don't worry, I'll finish down here". Dead teenager walking.
      I headed up to the house and got the tongue lashing I knew was coming. "Why did you put her on that horse?? She doesn't ride horses...What were you thinking!" Then I was sent to my room. As I walked into the living room, I saw my sister Kim, or, as I thought about calling her that day "Benedict Arnold", laying on the couch, an ice pack on the big ole goose egg on her forehead. She looked pale and had the barf basin on her chest. I shot her my best look of disgust, and planned on being mad at her for a long time. But then, she said, as I rounded the corner to go up the stairs, " I was going to come back out and try riding again, but mother wouldn't let me." I decided I shouldn't be mad at her after all, but, I am fairly sure that was the last time we all went for a "ride" together.
      Zak and I went out together a few times though. He liked hanging out with his big sister. I just liked watching to see what the pony was going to pull this time. Thunder Boy was a fat Shetland cross pony, with all the manners of, well, a fat Shetland cross pony. She was stubborn, crabby, and very strong willed. My brother was skinny, optimistic, and not as strong willed as the pony. She would do exactly what she wanted, and I remember the time she pulled an old pony trick out of her hat and gave Zak a big surprise, and me, a good laugh.
      We were once again headed down through the woods to the powerline. I was riding Angel, and leading the way. Zak and Thunder Boy were moseying along behind us, nice as you please. Since she was doing so well, I said " Wanna try a trot?" He smiled a big ole smile, and said " Yeah!" So, I loosened up Angel's reins and she broke into a nice smooth trot. I looked back, and Zak and the pony did too. I thought, "boy this is going great." She showed no signs of crabbiness on this day, so I hollered back " How about a canter,? Ready?" " Yeah!" came the enthusiastic response.
      I squeezed Angel a little and she broke into her nice smooth canter. I looked back and Zak and the pony were cantering along as good as you please. I turned and Angel went a bit faster. We rounded the corner and pulled up at the entrance to the powerline to wait for Zak. I heard the thundering of Thunder Boy, and smiled as I waited for them to come around the corner. Suddenly, the pony came into view, stirrups just a bouncing up and down against her sides. The stirrups, and saddle were empty.
Not a fat pony, but a nice Ex race horse for this farm kid!
      "What the? Zak??" I hollered. I kicked Angel into a canter and we went back down around the corner,and there lying at the end of a fifteen foot skid mark, was my brother. He was sitting up, pulling pine spills and dirt out of his hair and off his shirt. I started to laugh, as he told me what had happened. Apparently, when Angel and I rounded the corner out of sight, ole Thunder Boy, who had been cantering along happy as a lark, suddenly stopped, and put her head down. My unsuspecting brother went over her head and slid along the ground on his belly, then watched her canter merrily by. Ponies! Gotta love 'em!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Happy Birthday to Cliffy!

      I'm not going to write much of a blog tonight, or as I should call my writings a "Blob". It was a very busy day here at Homeland Farm. Cliffy had his 70th birthday today, so I was a cooking and cleaning fiend all day. Hey, you don't turn 70 everyday. We had a Scottish themed dinner, as I love Scotland. My grandfather ( Poppa) came from Scotland as a youngster and worked hard here in the "New Country" to make a life for himself. He saw my grandmother and told his pal, "That's the girl I am going to marry", and he did.
        I have been lucky enough to travel to Scotland a couple times, but Cliffy, who has traveled alot in his life, has never been to Scotland. So, I am hoping that when we tie the "proverbial knot" later this year, maybe we can manage a trip to Scotland for a honeymoon. I am not sure what Cliffy's plan is.... Maybe I should ask him if he even wants to go to Scotland? He might be happy with a trip to Tractor Supply...
          We have our 7th anniversary coming up in February. Remind me to tell you how a Farmgal from Southern Maine met a Logmantrucker from Northern Maine.....

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

A "Carmen" Blooper Blog...

     As I mentioned in an earlier blog, and do NOT need to mention to those who know me, I am not exactly graceful. My Uncle Billy always said.."Your worse then a bull in a china closet", and it was true. I was always falling, tripping, banging around, or falling off a horse. It wasn't just accidents like that either. It has always seemed like if something had the remotest possibility of going wrong, screwing up, or backfiring, I was, and still am, somehow involved. It usually turns out OK, and more often then not, funny. Which is good, because frankly, it happens..often. These are just a very small sample of some "Carmen" Bloopers.
     Back when Liam was a baby, we got two new kittens. Our older cat, Stink E. Lewis did not like them at all. We tried to gradually introduce them to each other, but one day, Stink chased one of the kittens outside and down across the lawn toward the woods. Brogan who was around 15, Cameron who was 8 and I, carrying baby Liam, walked down back calling the kitten, trying to find her before it got dark. We made it down to the back pasture, with Cameron walking ahead of us, looking through the underbrush for the kitten. Brogan walked on the other side of the clearing, while I brought up the rear.
     Suddenly, we heard it. A terrible howling, and the sound of running on the power line that ran parallel to the back pasture where we were searching. We all froze...listening as the howling got louder, and hearing the occasional snap of a branch just through the woods beyond us. " Come back here, Cameron.." I whispered, as he was closest to the power line.
     "I can't.." he loudly whispered back to me. I walked in his direction, and stopped near our backhoe that was parked at the edge of the pasture. Brogan came toward me, as we heard howling and rustling getting closer all the time. "Cameron! Come over here!" Brogan said.
     "I can't," came Cameron's voice from in the thicket. We could just see the upper half of his chest and his pale, white face. "Why not?" asked Brogan.
     " Coyotes! All around me!" came the answer. Well, I had heard enough. There was no way a coyote pack was going to get my oldest son, So, I picked up the biggest stick I could find, passed it to Brogan, and said.."Go save your brother!"
       "WHAT?" she asked??  Mom of the Year for 2000 said " I have the baby so I'm going to get up on the backhoe and see if I can see the coyotes!"
Meanwhile, the racket and snapping was right behind where Cameron was standing. Brave Brogan, or as I liked to call her afterwards, "She who fights coyotes to save sweaty pale boy", started to head over toward Cameron, who stood absolutely still. She got closer to Cameron and said.."where are they????" He didn't move..just whispered..." All around me...". I was sitting on the backhoe thinking "Crap, this could be bad!", but what I said was.."Hurry up and grab him!"
        Brogan reached out her hand and said quietly.."Take my hand!" You know that old expression, "paralyzed with fear", yep, that was Cam. He didn't move. She said it again, and when he still didn't budge, she reached out and grabbed his hand, holding her stick high in the other fist. She later said it was like grabbing a sweaty, clammy fish. She yanked him out of the thicket, and dragged him out of the woods, toward the backhoe. I passed down the baby, climbed down and we all beat feet back to the house.
Turns out those coyotes..the ones who were  "all around" Cameron ,was actually a friend of the family who liked to run her 5 dogs down the power line behind our house, howling like a coyote to get them all excited.
Cameron was never in any danger. I knew that, I just wanted to see how cool Brogan was going to be under pressure. She handled that test just fine.
      The backhoe is a handy thing to have on a farm. We love having it to use when we have to spread manure. It is alot easier to scoop up a big bucket load and dump it in the spreader, then to shovel it by hand. One day, we were trying to do our usual 10 jobs at once, and Cliff was stressed. I said.."Go ahead downtown and do what you have to do. We will get everything done, don't worry." I am nothing if not wise. He left to go get parts, and after he left, Brogan and I looked at the spreader and tractor and backhoe in the corral, already to go. I know how to run the back hoe, so I came up with a great idea.
       "Hey Bro, " I said, genius as always. "I can run the backhoe, load you up and you can take the tractor out and spread it." "Ok," said game daughter, "lets surprise Cliffy."
         So, we headed over to the backhoe and I looked it over. Now, I have to admit, it had been a long time since I had driven it, and I think it either grew taller, or I shrunk, 'cause that first step was a doozy
        "Bro..." I said,," Crap. I have my good foot under my bad.." She hurried (sort of..) over and stood behind me. I couldn't see her, but sensed she was trying to keep a straight face. "What am I supposed to do?" she asked. " Well, I don't know..I have to get my good foot on top so I can step up". I was kind of shuffling..leaning across the top of the platform by the seat, which was just a little too high for me reach. Suddenly, I felt this big Whump! She drove her head under my butt. I said.." What the heck are you trying to do??" She replied, " I'm trying to boost you higher so you can lay across the platform! Are you there? Can you pull yourself up the rest of the way??"
        Now, I MIGHT have been able to do that, and was concentrating really hard, but then I suddenly started to vibrate, shaking up and down, just ever so slightly. " What are you doing?? Are you laughing???". She was, and once she started, so did I. And then I was helpless to move. So there we stood..I couldn't go higher, or get down..Bro had her head under my butt and was laughing so hard she couldn't move either. Finally, I said "OK! PUSH." She did, I pulled, and dragged myself, good foot and bad, up onto the floor of the backhoe, then climbed up and into the seat. By the time we stopped laughing, Cliff was back from town and I had to climb back down. I don't think we even spread one load. The best part??? My parents live across the field from our house in my grandparents old house, and my mother saw the entire thing through her binoculars. And even better?? She was on the phone, with my cousin in Scotland, who got a play by play account. The story of Brogan's head shoved in my rear was played out on two continents. Ahh, good times.
     My arthritic knees played into another blooper moment my son Cameron loves to recall. Cliff, Cameron, Brogan and I were out doing chores on a bitter, Maine winter night. We were out on the frozen tundra, uhh, corral, locking the horses in their stalls for the night. They like to be out of the elements on a frigid night. I had turned to walk back across the corral, when I think I rolled my ankle on a frozen hunk of manure. Suddenly, some weird law of physics occurred, and I somehow starting running, bent over at a ninety degree angle. I am fairly certain if it were not for the side of the barn, I would have continued my run clear down the road to Zenya's house next door. However, the barn was there, and yes, I hit it, going full tilt, bent over at ninety degrees. Everyone asked me later, "Why didn't you just stand up?"
Frankly, I couldn't, and I don't know why. I just hit the side of the barn, and turned around to see everyone staring at me with their mouths open. Which reminds me of a church supper, but that is a different story.
     
 
 

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Round up!

     I have lived on this farm for most of my almost 50 years. It has been in our family for 5 generations, and in this day and age, that is not all that common any more. My sister Kim, Brother Zak and I were very fortunate to not only have this nice house to grow up in, but were also able to grow up surrounded by family. We lived next door to my grandparents Bill and Althea Crook, and my Uncle Billy.My cousins Zenya and Natasha lived on the other side of us, and my Aunt Dorothea and Uncle David lived a little farther down the road past them. We were always having many great aunts and uncles, and loads of cousins stop by to visit almost daily.Summers were filled with cook outs, and holidays and birthdays were big family affairs.
     My grandparents and Uncle Billy were so much fun to be around, I am not even sure I will ever be able to put into words how much they meant to all of us. My sister, brother and I spent as much time as we could across the field at their house..Eating  breakfast, lunch and/or supper..Spending the night..playing "Fish" with Billy, or trying to sneak up through the field at night to jump up and scare him as he sat in his kitchen chair reading. That was one of our favorites. If we really pulled it off, he would swear and that would always make us laugh.
     My uncle was a farmer and kept cows, chickens and pigs. My grandfather, Poppa as we called him, kept an immaculate garden and raspberry patch, and the lawns were perfect. My grandmother, Nanny, kept the house neat enough to eat off the floor. I learned how to cook from Nanny, how to fish from Poppa and how to take care of animals from my Uncle Billy. He loved his cows..what he didn't like was horses. Any horse. He had had a bad experience as a child, and that was it. No horse was safe.No, he stayed far away from horses.
     So, that fateful day when the horses got out of the pasture, I knew he was not going to be much help at all, and I was right. It was a warm spring day, and the horses were leaning heavily against the fence, because as you guessed it, the grass WAS greener on the other side. I was in the house, when I saw a red flash go by the window..then a black, somewhat slower flash. Then my mothers voice came ringing through the house "Carmen! Angel is out! Hurry! There goes Ebony! Where are you?? There goes the cow!"
     When she said that, I knew we were in trouble. When one gets out, they all get out...and they were. I raced out the back door to the horse barn to grab some grain, halters and a lead rope. I walked across the back lawn toward the grazing animals, shaking the bucket of grain, telling them it was a new bag, and nice and tasty. As I walked past the kitchen, I could see my mother on the phone, and knew she was calling the "Reinforcements." I looked up across the big field and could see my grandparents house. My grandmother had come outside and stood in the middle of the lawn, arms outstretched. My grandfather went down to stand by the roadside, broom in hand. My Uncle came outside and stood on the front steps-he hates horses.
     Battle lines drawn, I headed toward the grazing animals, shaking my bucket of grain. Ordinarily, they love grain and will follow you anywhere as long as you have it, but on this fine day, the weather was just too nice, and the green grass just too sweet. I was slowly coming toward them from the rear, and my mother was easing in from the side, and for one brief, wonderful moment, I thought she was going to be able to grab Ebony's mane.
Angel was not about to let that happen. She snorted, shook her head and off they went full tilt, cow and all. I saw the "Reinforcements" tense, as the animals started their charge. "Here they come!" I hollered, and broke into a run. I stopped after a few yards, and watched as the "Reinforcements", usually so reliable, failed.
     Angel was clearly the leader as they went tearing across the field. Ebony was a close second, and the cow was right behind her, tail up in the air waving like a flag. As the animals bore down on them, Poppa started waving the broom around and hollering at the cow, who was careening across the lawn right at him. Ebony had decided on my grandmother, who was flapping her apron up and down, which was hard as she was still in it. Angel quickly assessed the situation, and headed right toward the weak spot, my uncle, who, when he saw the "damn fiery red horse" coming at him, jumped back up on the top step.
All were lost from view for a moment, and when the dust had settled, the broom had been knocked from my grandfathers hands, my grandmother's apron was torn from all that flapping and my uncle could be seen leaning out the kitchen window, still bellowing at the top of his lungs. The animals were disappearing down the road toward the highway, and the the last thing I could see was the cows tail still waving up in the air. It was time for "Operation Round Up".
      I turned and headed back toward the house, and saw my mother jump in the old LTD Stationwagon. I stopped to wait for her, tired from lugging all that grain around in my pail.I heard a reving, but it wasn't my mother. It was the "Reinforcments". They set off down the road toward the highway, looking for the runaway farm animals. My mother drove up beside me, and off we went. As we drove by my grandparents house, I could see my uncle, closing down the garage door. ( Like the horses were planning on making a run for the garage..)
Nanny and a calf at Homeland Farm
Mother and her calf at Homeland Farm
Carmen and her calf at Homeland Farm
4th generation calf owner Brogan at Homeland Farm
     "Do you think they made it all the way to town?" asked my mother. Before I could answer, she yelled "Look!" I looked down the road that ran parallel to the highway, and there they were. The "Reinforcements" had done their job..Angel was still trotting in the lead, Ebony a close second, and the cow a distant third, tail not quite so high in the air any more. My grandparents were following along behind them, giving a HONK when they started to lag.  My mother and I parked at the intersection, to block them from turning the wrong way and heading out into the highway. It was smooth sailing after that..They were all pretty tired by the time we drove them down across the field, to where my Uncle Billy sat in his truck, beside the open corral gate. As they made their way into the corral, and my grandparents, mother and I  pulled up in the cars, my uncle got out and slammed the gate. He leaned on the top bar, and said.."Well, we got 'em back, didnt we?"

Monday, January 23, 2012

And the Mother of the Year Award goes to......

     In case you don't already know, I have three children. Brogan, my daughter is 25, Cameron my oldest son is 19 and Liam is 11.  They are all great kids-well adjusted, smart and independent...despite their mother. I of course contributed heartily to their DNA, and made sure to cover important childhood events, like birthday parties, a happy Christmas, and a good number of sleepovers for each of them. They haven't been expelled, robbed a bank, or gotten in any trouble with drinking or drugs. So, when they start recounting some childhood "incidents", I just smile, because I don't care what they say..I did good.
     Brogan had a crazy scare when she was in high school. She was driving home from a town about 20 minutes from home, when she was pulled over by a cop. Trouble was, he wasn't a real cop. She had the good common sense to feel something wasn't right with the guy, so she didn't open her window when he walked up to her car. He asked for her license, and she held it wisely against the glass of the window, instead of rolling the window down. He then tried to force the window down with his hands, and she quickly stepped on the gas, and drove right to the police station to report the incident. Apparently, she tried to call me from there, but, well, I was asleep. After filling out the report, she drove home and quickly came to tell her mother, looking for comfort? Support?
     "Mom! Didn't you hear the phone ring?" she asked, as she came in. It was way past my bedtime, and once I'm in bed, I don't 'rise and shine' very easily. "No, I don't know, maybe..I figured they would leave a message," I said. "Why? Why are you getting home so late?" I asked, as I looked at the clock, and saw it was past her curfew.
      "I was almost kidnapped!" she exclaimed. I believe this is when the epic fail occurred. I said the words that have come back to haunt me several times over the years...I said.."There's always something with you Bro. Well, get some sleep, you will feel better in the morning." Snore. Yeah...ask me how many times I've heard about my apparent lack of concern over the years. It wasn't that I wasn't concerned, it's just that I'm not one given to hysterics. Obviously, she was home, safe, and all was well. I didn't get too worked up until the next day when the detective came by to ask for more details. Then it was a bit more scary, not worth panicing over, mind you, but it was scary. They did find the guy after he attempted the same trick on a girl in another nearby town. The fact that Brogan was aware and alert enough to not be fooled showed good common sense. Yes, I taught her that.
      I also taught her one of my Uncle Billy's favorite sayings.."Its a long way from your heart." When she had her hand stepped on by one of our horses, she thought she should go to the doctor and have it looked it. I believe my kind words were.." It isn't THAT swollen..put some ice on it." She did, but finally persuaded me she needed to go. I was pretty busy, so  I wrote her a permission slip to see the dr and well...she drove herself to the emergency room. Came home with the diagnosis that she had cracked a bone in her hand. My bad. Poor Bro.
       So, after seeing how his older sister was treated, it was no surprise for poor Cameron that when he had a stomach ache, I said we had to finish supper before we went to the hospital. Now, in my defnse, this child had no serious symptoms, except a worsening stomach ache. No fever, no vomiting, nothing. Diagnosis? A bad appendix. Really bad, like, we are taking him to surgery now bad. So, off he went, while the family gathered in the waiting room, doing what we do best in an emergency situation..laughing and joking. People think we are nuts, but that's how we handle the stress. Cameron emerged feeling better and is fine today. And for some reason, doesn't hold it against me. ( I HAD cooked a huge supper that night, after all.........)
      He was sadly used to having the "Underachiever Mom". In elementary school, he proudly carried home his "beautiful" ceramic creations, only to have me drop them while opening up the newspaper wrapping. I believe I managed to keep one in tact until later Christmas day, but they were all still in the trash by sundown. Poor Cam.
      One Winter morning, I tried to have a real "Waltons" moment, and made a big french toast breakfast. I always feed the heels to the chickens, but on this morning, I thought maybe the crows would like them. Cameron was out in a small building we have in our backyard, where I had him stash his video games, when I was tired of tripping over the cords in the living room. I opened the back door and hollered " Cameron!!  Cameron!" I threw the bread heels across the snowbank as he opened the door up. "Breakfast!" I hollered. He saw the heels sliding across the snowbank, and hollered back to me.." IS THAT IT???" Oh brother...Did I laugh. I hollered back. " No Cam! This is a special occasion. You can come inside and eat today!"
      Liam faired no better. He is such a joy to be around today,smart, handsome and such a nice young man. However, as a toddler, he was a handful. Capital H. There wasn't much he didn't do. Peeled wallpaper off his new bedroom walls, and in my hallway. Dug a hole in the sheet rock in the living room. Cut the cat with a pair of scissors. Ran away from home and had to be brought home by a nice lady. Ran away from me whenever he could. Did not listen to a word anyone said. He was very exasperating. Which explains one of his favorite MOM stories. Cameron was walking down through the field from Grams house, when he heard a commotion coming from the barn. Suddenly, Liam came running out of the barn door, full tilt, followed closely by, no not me, but my shoe. I followed closely behind the shoe, and around the house we went..Liam won. I never caught the little bugger. Hard running in one shoe. Cameron went back to grams. Poor Liam.
      There are a lot of other "Mother of the Year Award" winning moments out there..My kids love to recount them. Often. I say I accomplished my mission. Brogan is a well organized ,go getter that isn't afraid to delve into some less then savory animal welfare issues. Cameron is in his freshman year at Southern Maine Community College, and Liam is the Geography Bee Champion at his school for the second year in a row, and, is still, a wicked fast runner.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Why I don't have a housekeeper...

     As a busy farmgal, mom, and fledgling blogger, or should I just say farmomlogger, I sometimes get a bit behind on my least favorite job..cleaning.
I am usually pretty tidy, but stuff sort of ...ends up places. Now I am not talking about filth, or even  really bad dirt ( except maybe the laundry room/barn boot drop off/frozen pail and hose thawing room/egg basket drop off location. THAT room is in rough shape, 90 percent of the time. I was admiring Ree Drummond's house while watching her debut on the cooking channel the other day. Have you heard of her? She blogs as the "Pioneer Woman" and now has a cooking show. My Gosh..her home is SPOTLESS! Now, I am sure it isn't quite like that all the time, but wow, what a house. She is the "Martha Stewart" of country bloggers, and I think I must be the "Roseanne" of country bloggers! Night and day, except we both like kids and animals and food. Alright, we have a lot in common, but  I guess I would have to admit she is a tad tidier then I am. For example, I looked by her sink, and I didn't see any signs of rooster spurs. Hmm..maybe that is more of a farmgal thing, rather then a Pioneer Woman thing.
     Now, I know your saying..you have what?? by your what? We had a really pretty rooster that unfortunately passed away last summer. Rooster Cogburn was his name and he was a very nice bird. He was never mean, took good care of his biddies, and crowed like clockwork every morning at 4 am. Ok, except for that, he was a great rooster. The 4 am thing was a bit early, even for us farmers. He was 6 years old when he died, fairly old by rooster standards, although they can live a lot longer then that. He had huge, long spurs that grew off the back of his legs. They are what roosters  fight with, if they ever need to, as the spurs can get long and sharp. He was always protected from predators by us farmers, ( that story is for another day), and so never needed to defend himself with his spurs. When he died, I decided that I would keep them, so I cut them off and save them. Now, I was thinking earrings...But my daughter said if I did that she would have me committed. So, oddly enough, and I'm really not sure how, they have ended up on the  shelf above my sink. Which brings me to why I will never have a housekeeper.
     This past summer Cliff, Cameron, Liam and I took a trip to Aroostook county in Northern Maine to rack up some serious driving hours for Drivers Education. While we were gone for 2 days, my darling daughter thought it would be nice to have a house cleaner come in to clean, as a surprise for me. It is fair to say the housekeeper was the one surprised.
     Brogan got here early to get a "head start" and go through to put away anything I might have left out that I wouldn't have wanted a housekeeper to see, like underwear, for example. The house keeper arrived shortly after Brogan got to the house and started in...
     " Uh, Miss...what is this?" came the first question. Brogan walked into the bathroom and found her holding an antique spike approximately 6 inches long that was, for some reason, stuck into a roll of toilet paper. Now, I know about that spike,,and I am not really sure why I have always kept it in the bathroom on the shelf under the antique "Cattle auction" sign, but, I do not remember seeing it stuck into a roll of toilet paper. Brogan assured the lady that it was probably just one of her brothers playing a joke and they went about their cleaning.
     "Uh..Miss Brogan, what is this?" came the same question, this time in the living room. Brogan stopped dusting and looked over as the housekeeper pulled a 4 inch horse blanket pin out from under the couch cushion. "oh..that's just a horse blanket pin...not sure how it got there." Brogan replied. I had no clue either. Weird.
     They continued through the dining room and out into the kitchen. Brogan said, "Lets do the back porch and my mothers office before the kitchen", so out they went, dragging their cleaning supplies along with them.  Sure enough, they had no more then started when Brogan heard.." Uhh, what do I do with this?" She looked over at my computer where the woman had been  dusting the bottom shelf of my stand, and lo and behold, she was holding a holster, complete with bullets, and one of my bras, which according to Brogan, "hung down the whole length of the housekeepers body".
     " Ohhhhh boy," said Brogan, rushing to take the weapon of mass destruction ( and I'm not talking about the bullets and the holster!) out of the hands of the bewildered housekeeper. "Well, you see, " stammered my flustered oldest, " We have a fox problem..and well..I guess my mother must sweat a lot out trying to save the hens, or maybe, well, I JUST DON'T KNOW!" Brogan grabbed my unmentionables ( oops..too late for that) and the holster and ran into the laundry room, where she deposited the bra in the hamper and tossed the holster into the large mixing bowl, where the gun was waiting for it. What? Doesn't everyone keep a gun in a mixing bowl?
     She hurried back to find the housekeeper was done with my office, and was now in the kitchen. Brogan started to clear off the wood stove, which is a catch all for everything in the summer months, when she once again heard the housekeeper speak. " Oh my...What is THIS?" Brogan hesitantly turned, and yes.,.the housekeeper was holding the rooster spurs in her hands, turning them this way and that...a very, uneasy look on her face.
     Brogan, took a deep breath, and said..." Those are part of a pair of earrings my mother is making", walked over, took them out of her hands and said.." I think we are done! How much do I owe you?"
     The housekeeper said she was too busy to be able to fit me into her schedule. That's why I do not have a housekeeper...But, do have the start of a nice pair of earrings.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

I ain't as good as I once was....

     With yet another birthday pending in the next couple weeks, I have been thinking about being yet  another year closer to age 50. That's when it occurred to me..like Toby Keith, I ain't as good as I once was. Now, I will admit, I was never what you'd call particularly athletic. I was lucky to stay on my feet just walking home from school, after the bus dropped us off. My cousins that walked with me used to find great joy in watching me roll an ankle and trip, or perhaps slip on ice jumping off the bus and end up underneath it, thankfully while it was in parked position. I swear they still talk about that 30 plus years later. The big difference now however, is that I don't "bounce back" quite like I used to.
       I was always accident prone, and I guess it was because I was always running around like "a bull in a china shop", as my Uncle Billy used to say. He also had another phrase he used liberally while doling out words of wisdom to his oldest niece, and that was "it's a long way from your heart". I was never allowed to wallow in my pain around Billy, and growing up on a farm, I had my share of injuries.
       I was always on a horse growing up, and while I was a decent rider, I had my share of mishaps. I have come off the back of a horse every way possible. I have been bucked off, scraped off, rolled off, and had a horse leap out from under me while we were standing still in the yard. That last spill was particularly interesting, and one of those many occasions where people have said.."That could only happen to you, Carmen."
        My cousin Zenya and I were teenage girls that loved to ride horses. We saddled up one day to ride our two horses, Angel and Ebony. We headed out around the front of the house, having decided to ride down the road, on this particular day. My mother called us over to to the porch where she stood waiting to find out where we were headed. Dingle, the orange barn cat sat on the porch railing, twitching his tail and soaking up the nice summer day. The horses relaxed, dropped their heads and cocked a hind leg, as we sat, feet out of stirrups, chatting with my mother. I had just told her we weren't going to be gone long, when suddenly, the lights went out.
         The next thing I remember, I was hearing wailing sirens, fading in and out. I opened my eyes, and realized two things...I was now on the ground, and that wailing noise? It was my mother. The next thing I realized was that I couldn't catch my breath, and couldn't answer my mother who was now hollering " Carmen! Can you speak?? Are you alright???" I tried to take a breath but couldn't seem to get enough air to answer her. When she saw me gasping and trying to speak, she did what any caring, concerned mother would do...no, not call 911. Instead, she grabbed me by my legs and started  to drag me to the car, across the front lawn, doing her best impression of an ambulance, "OhhhhOHHHHohhhh!"
          I finally sucked some air into my lungs, and got out an "I'm ok, I'm ok", and she let go of my legs. I slowly sat up, and looked over at Zenya, who was now standing in the driveway 10 feet away, holding both horses, who both looked all relaxed and peaceful. I sputtered a "what the heck happened", as I slowly got to my feet, trying to catch the breath that had been completely knocked out of me.
          Zenya said she had no idea, just that we were standing there and suddenly Angel lunged past Ebony, and I was on the ground. My mother spoke up and said " I know what happened, I just don't know why it happened.. You were both sitting on the horses, and I saw Dingle watching you. Before I could do or say anything, he suddenly leapt off the porch and landed right on Angels back! She just shot out from under you and I swear, you hovered in the air 10 seconds before you crashed."
           After that, Zen and I decided we were done riding for the day, so we headed back to the barn, wondering what would possess Dingle to leap on the back of a horse. Unsaddling Angel, I got my answer. As I went to swing the saddle down off her back, right in the middle of her rump, I found a smushed horse fly, right where Dingle had landed. I would like to have said I was at least pleased he got the fly he was after, but my painful tailbone wouldn't let me be happy for him. Ever.
            I think about falling like that now, and I shudder. I took so many spills riding, walking and farming it is amazing I can still get around at all. These days I manage to impale my gums on a shard of bacon from a hamburger at a fast food place (true story), cut myself on a plastic Pepsi bottle (happened today), and go over a big bump in the car and hurt my knee (pretty much every time). Heck, I even have a padded toilet seat to try and avoid injury, and as my Uncle Billy would say, that is one part of my anatomy that is truly, a long way from my heart.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Testing, ONE TWO THREE...

Hello from Homeland Farm. After much debate and some very crazy ideas, I decided to name my blog "Life at Homeland Farm". I did enjoy the suggestions I received from everyone on Facebook, but decided to go with the simple. ( Not that MAINE MAMMA FARMA didn't apply, mind you..and the MENOPAUSAL MAINER suggestions were indeed correct), but I thought short and sweet would apply too, as I am indeed, short and sweet!

So, here we are on the very first post to LIFE AT HOMELAND FARM. I suspect a lot of people that read this will be friends and relatives and you all are probably familiar with me and my family and life. Should anyone be reading this, and not know us, you soon will. I am part of the "lay it all out there" crowd, so you will be hearing stories and seeing pictures from the farm- the good, bad and the ugly (the latter of which might show me rounding up horses in my granny night gown or calling crows for breakfast, also in my nightgown. (or blogging in my nightgown, as I am right now! ) Well, it may not be ugly, but it ain't real purty!

So, for now, I am going to try and see if I can get this to actually post to the blog, and find out if anyone can even read it, before I write any more. I wish I could say I am wicked computer savvy, but I'm not, so this oughta be good! Have a great day and I will write more later ( should I ever find my way back to this site again!) Carmen