Farming, quilting, variety

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Another Rainy Day

Well, just as promised, yesterday was another rainy day, and even this morning we have had showers. I took advantage of staying indoors and worked on the re-do of my white ribbon quilt. It's coming along and looks better than I ever thought it would. Late in the afternoon we went to haul hay in to feed the heifers and when I got back the sky was darkening but I quickly took a walk; those clouds with lightning can move pre-tty fast! By around 7:00 p.m. a more serious storm was coming our way and we watched as the wall cloud passed over with no funnels sited.

As the clouds passed on to the east, the sun peaked through the rain, just as it was setting.

Poor heifers, their good hay got wet again!

No rainbow this time; I guess it was too dark.

Monday, April 25, 2011


How does the old saying go? April showers bring May flowers? This is how my flowers should be looking now;

however, we've had more rain than just showers, several days worth, in fact, and when the big iris blooms get weighted down with water, and the wind blows hard, they just give in and topple over, sometimes even breaking the stems and ruining the unopened buds. They are one of my favorite flowers, and after waiting through a long cold winter for their beauty, I'm saddened by the loss.

The old snowball bush suffered too; some limbs were broken.

And late this afternoon, just when I thought I could go to the barn to feed the calf, rain simply poured down. This was taken from the back porch,

and this from the front porch. I'm afraid the ground will be so saturated around the shade trees that one could go over under a strong wind. One of our hay fields is flooded, and more rain is forecast for tomorrow.

I do hate to be complaining, for who knows, in our state this could be the last rain for a long time, but for now we're just having too much of a good thing. Isn't it strange how things happen? Texas is burning in places and we're flooding.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

He Is Risen

"...the angel said to the women, Fear not: for I know that ye seek Jesus which was crucified. He is not here: for he is risen, as he said." Matthew 28:5,6

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Rabies and Fearful Times -- the Finale

Uncle Dewey came before supper with bad news: a neighbor had killed a mad fox. "You know," he said, "that cow may be mad." So Daddy called a veterinarian to come look at her. "The only way to be sure is to kill her and send off her head to be tested," he said. "I can't afford to kill my cow!" exclaimed Daddy. "Maybe she ate some poison weeds or something. She could be alright in a few days." But the vet told Daddy he should kill the cow for the safety of the family. Mama expressed her concerns about having used the cow's milk, but he told her, "No the milk was alright to use. The disease is passed through the saliva of the animal." And then he asked if the girls played around the barn and she told him they played in the sand close to the barn. "Then it's possible they could have picked up the germs from the sand if they had a cut or scrape."

So Daddy went to the house for his gun while some other men got the cow back inside the barn. This time the door was fastened with a chain. The cow went wild inside the stall, hitting the walls, pawing the ground and snorting. She put her head under the sill of the barn, trying to get out; her head stuck and she couldn't get up. Uncle Dewey put the barrel of the gun close to the cow's head and pulled the trigger; a single shot rang out, and the cow slumped to the ground.

The cow's head was cut off and put into a container with ice packed all around and the vet took it into town and shipped it to the State Health Department. Daddy and Uncle Dewey hooked chains onto the cow's legs and pulled her out of the barn, then took her to a brush pile and lit a fire underneath. Quickly the air was filled with the stench of burning hair and flesh.

The long anxious days of waiting for an answer from the tests were difficult, and when the report came, it said the cow had rabies. Mama, Daddy, Wanda, Charlotte and Uncle Dewey would have to take the rabies vaccinations. The doctor explained the series of shots to them: each person would receive fourteen shots, one each day, in the large muscles of the arms, legs and hips, and since Charlotte was so small, her shots would be put in her tummy.

By the end of the first week of shots, Charlotte was bruised and sore; hard swollen lumps were on her tummy and she felt feverish and didn't play much. "She's so little to have this much pain; she was just beginning to gain a little weight after her bout with scarlet fever, and now this had to happen." Mama buried her head in her hands and cried.

The soreness slowly left their muscles. At first, every headache and every pain was thought to be a symptom of rabies, but the fear lessened with the passing of time.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Rabies and Fearful Times -- continued

"Don't move or say anything!"said Daddy in a frightened whisper and he kept the beam of light from the flashlight on the fox as it walked around the feet of Daddy, Mama, and Wanda. They stood motionless as the fox sniffed Daddy's shoes, then ignored them and ambled off into the darkness. "Get in the house!" Daddy ordered. "Something was wrong with that fox! I'll bet it was mad," he said.

During the night the old dog came to the porch, licking himself, and Daddy said is was a sign that he might have been bitten. So the dog was chained up until enough time had passed to see if he would take rabies. The girls were told to stay away from him. It was hard for Charlotte to stay away from Pudge; while Wanda was at school he made a good companion, but she knew Mama and Daddy meant what they said, so she squatted down on the back doorstep and talked to him. "Are you mad about something, Pudge?" The quarantine time passed and the dog showed none of the signs of rabies and so Daddy turned him loose.

One day the milk cow bawled from morning until evening and when Mama tried to get her in the barn she wouldn't go inside to her calf. Charlotte could hear the cow bawling before she went to sleep and when morning came the cow was very restless, circling the barn, bawling. Daddy went with Mama to the barn and when he opened the door to let her inside with her calf, she ran up to the stall and stopped, then went inside. She snorted, pawed the ground, slung her head at Daddy, and kicked at the calf. She turned to the door and Daddy quickly put the calf in another stall and went outside. "I've never seen a cow act like this before. Let's leave her in here today and maybe she'll calm down." All day she bawled and thumped against the walls of the barn; by mid-afternoon the thumping had stopped, but the cow hadn't calmed down. She had broken the latch on the door and was outside the barn. She still bawled. be continued

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Rabies and Fearful Times

After a cold winter, spring had finally come. Tender garden vegetables grew rapidly, strawberries put on their red berries, a new calf was in the barn and twenty four new baby chicks tottered about in the yard.

One day Daddy came home and told Mama a neighbor's dog had been bitten by a fox and now it had gone mad. "What's he mad about?" Charlotte had asked. Mama explained that the dog wasn't angry, but that he had rabies, a bad disease that makes an animal act crazy: it slobbers at the mouth and runs in circles like it's having a fit and would probably growl and bark a lot. Daddy had vaccinated his hunting dog, ol' Pudge, so maybe he wouldn't get the disease, but he warned us girls to get in the house quickly if we saw a fox or a dog acting strangely.

For the next few days Mama and Daddy worked in the fields, always cautious, and when nothing unusual happened, they returned to a more normal routine; the girls played in the yard again and the family walked to church at night with less fear. About two weeks later, while at church on Sunday night, we heard a distant, mournful cry. The preacher talked and the cry interrupted now and then, and after church services a man told Daddy the sound seemed to be coming from our house. "It may be a lost pup," someone said as we left church and started walking home by the light of a flashlight. The Sears family walked with us as far as the gate. The pitiful cry interrupted their conversation several times as they talked and then the men said the sound was coming from the house. Daddy carried me and Mama held Wanda's hand; Daddy used the flashlight to brighten the path, and when we reached the steps, a fox came from the shadows under the porch. It was coming toward us. be continued

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Beautiful or Bothersome ?

If you were traveling the rural roads of our area, you would see fields covered with these yellow flowers. We have had tourists stop at the community store and ask about them. Farmers call them buttercups; I don't know their scientific name. They have a glossy sheen and are about the size of a nickel. To us who raise cattle, they are a nusiance, choking out the grass until they have made seed and die back. Usually we will spray with a herbicide which would be most effective while the plant is small, but weather conditions aren't always suitable at that time so they can quickly get ahead of the grass. Before pastures here were fertilized with chicken litter we didn't have this weed; perhaps the litter changed the nutrients in the soil. They make a very dense root system and can't be pulled easily if they get started in the garden. So what is beautiful to some is a real bother to us.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Our Little Girls

My husband and I were blessed with three little girls; when the last one was born and I asked, "Are you sure it's not a boy?" I was secretly pleased to have another girl.

This picture, of the first two, has always been precious to me; she looks as though she's saying, "Now baby, it's like this ..." She did pull the infant seat to the edge of the table once, but I caught it before the baby could fall. They were only fourteen months and nine days apart, and became best of friends ...
and then, along came another sister, premature, weighing only three pounds, fourteen ounces, in a hurry to get here and on the go ever since.
They loved her but sometimes she made them a little unhappy, like pulling hair and pestering. I think they still love her though.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Dark Ride Home -- continued

--- and now for "the rest of the story"...
"I brought my lantern," said Mama. Emily said we had to try it and that she would drive slowly and that we could help watch in case something was in the road. Mama fumbled inside her pocket for some matches, and by starlight she struck a match and ignited the lantern's wick. The weak flame soon strengthened and burned steadily. "If you will hold it out the window I think I can see the edge of the road," said Emily. Mama put her arm out the window and held the lantern up so Emily could see and Wanda stared past the little circle of dim light, watching for something in the road. "Here comes a car!" said Wanda and Emily pulled her car to the edge of the road and stopped, waiting until the other car had passed.

When they came to the end of the pavement, Emily had only the weeds to use as a guide for the edge of the road. Wanda knew they had only come about halfway. Her eyes were tired and she began to wish she had never asked to go to the program. She peered out into the darkness as they came to the cemetery. She thought she saw something but she knew it had to be a shadow, but she shivered anyway. The tall gravestones glistened in the starlight. They stood scattered among the graves like soldiers on guard. Wanda blinked and rubbed her eyes. Had she seen something white jump up between the graves? No, just because this was a cemetery didn't mean there were real ghosts here. Then there was no mistake about it; something big and white had jumped up and was coming straight toward the car! She gripped the seat and tried to tell Mama they were being chased by a ghost, but her voice wouldn't work! She could hear the ghost breathing as it got closer to them. Soon it was right beside the car!

"Ruff! Ruff! Ruff-ruff!" Wanda jumped from fright and covered her head with the tail of her skirt. "Oh my goodness!" exclaimed Mama. "That old dog scared me so bad I almost dropped the lantern!" The dog ran behind the car for a while, then turned and trotted back to the shadows of the cemetery to wait for another car to chase.

When Emily turned the car off the main road, trees blocked the starlight and the darkness seemed to close in around them even more. "Well, at least we are close enough to home now that we can walk the rest of the way if we have to," said Mama. Everyone was tired; it was way past bedtime. "Wanda, you'll have to carry the lantern home; my arm is too numb to carry it and Charlotte."

As they walked from Emily's house, Wanda said to Mama, "Thank you for finding a way for me to be in the program. I hope Daddy can get a car of his own soon."

(Please understand that parts of these stories may not have actually happened; for instance I don't know if a dog chased us or not. However, the main theme of the stories did happen.)

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Dark Ride Home

Wanda had finished her first four years at the country school and when fall came she started classes in school at town. There were more things to do at the new school and she made new friends. One day she brought home a note from her teacher inviting Mama and Daddy to a program at the school. Wanda had practiced with her class, not knowing whether she would get to come. Daddy still didn't have a car of his own and he didn't think Grandma liked for him to drive Uncle Dewey's car, so he told Wanda, "I'm not going to ask!"

Charlotte was afraid of Daddy's stern looks and his harsh words, but Wanda had a stronger personality and she sometimes challenged his authority, but this time, no amount of begging could change his mind. "I'll find a way to get us there," Mama had told Wanda that night, and when morning came she had a solution: she'd ask the young neighbor lady to take them. So she swallowed her pride and got up the courage to ask Emily, who agreed happily to give them a ride to the program.

All went well with the songs and after the program Wanda felt like she really belonged in this class. "It sure is dark tonight, isn't it," said Mama when they got into the car and started home. There was no moonlight and the stars seemed even brighter than usual. About two miles out of town Emily thought she saw a flicker of lightning, but Mama said surely it wasn't since there were no clouds in the sky. Then Mama thought she saw a flicker too, just before everything went black. Emily couldn't see the road! She stomped the brake peddle, pitching Wanda forward in the seat and Mama threw out her hand to catch hold of the dashboard. "What happened?" asked Mama, and then it was bright again. Emily told her the car's lights had gone out for a minute; she barely had the words out of her mouth before the lights went out again, and this time they didn't come back on. "Now what will we do?" she asked. "I don't know anything about fixing car lights!"
They sat in the blackness, trying to decide what to do. All was quiet except for the chirping of crickets.
to be continued ...

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The Visit -- continued

Meanwhile, at home, Mama realized that she didn't hear Charlotte talking to the dog and cat anymore. She went to the backdoor; "Charlotte, what are you doing?" There was no answer so she went outside and called a few more times, "Char--lotte! Maybe she went to the toilet," Mama said to herself. She walked to the toilet and found the latch unfastened. "Charlotte, are you in here?" When Charlotte didn't answer, Mama opened the door, only to find it empty.

"Oh no!" she gasped, "not the well!" It was every mother's biggest fear that one of her children would fall into the dug well. Mama ran quickly back to the yard. Her heart beat rapidly and she stumbled as she hurried down the hillside path to the well. The lid was still over the top of the well! She slumped to the ground in relief and sat for a moment to catch her breath.

"She must have gone to Dane's house. Why didn't I think of that in the first place!" she thought.

As Charlotte stepped up to the side of Dane's crib to wake him up, Mama came to the door. "I'm sorry she's bothered you Leola. Now, little lady," she said to Charlotte, "let's go home."

Mama gripped Charlotte's hand firmly and with a tug they started home. Before they reached the gate, Mama broke off a keen switch from one of Grandma's peach trees. She gave Charlotte's legs a little swat with the switch.

Surprised, Charlotte jumped up and down and squealed as the switch stung her legs. All the way home Mama explained, "I was worried to death about you! I don't like to switch your legs but you have to learn not to disobey me."

At bedtime, Charlotte climbed up on Mama's lap and put her arms around Mama's neck. She hugged Charlotte close and gently rubbed the little legs.

(Mama would have been 97 years old today. See post for 4-11-09)

Monday, April 11, 2011

The Visit

Charlotte continued to gain strength, and although she didn't eat as well as Mama would have liked, she was able to play outside again with Wanda, who carried rocks and laid out a square playhouse on the hillside. Mama gave them some old jar lids for plates and they took their dolls and doll clothes to the sunny house.

On cool days Uncle Dewey and Aunt Leola came to visit , bringing their baby boy, Dane. They lived in the old family farmhouse with Grandma. Charlotte was eighteen months older than the little boy and she loved him even if he did still sleep a lot.

Mama was sewing today and Charlotte wanted to go play with Dane, but Mama had told her she didn't have time to take her and the cows might be in the road. So, what could she do? Wanda wouldn't be home for hours. She went to the toy box but the old dolls with holes in their sawdust heads didn't appeal to her today. Begging got her nowhere. She sorta wanted something to eat; some candy would be good. There were some chocolate squares on top of Mama's cabinet. She wasn't supposed to eat any of them though; Mama had said they were medicine. But surely just one wouldn't hurt her. Carefully she climbed up on the old trunk and took a step over onto the cabinet. By standing on her tiptoes, her fingers touched the box. She gave a little jump to grab it. Crash! She had knocked a pan off onto the floor!

"Charlotte!" said Mama as she rushed into the kitchen. "What on earth are you doing on the cabinet? Is that the Exlax box you have in your hand?"

Charlotte went outside, wandered around, talked to the old black cat and the hound dog. Soon she had walked to the barn; the cows were not anywhere close. She dabbled in the mud in the road, and her feet took her closer and closer to Dane's house. She looked back toward home. She didn't see Mama; she ran to the gate and crawled under.

Aunt Leola came to the door when Charlotte knocked. She asked if Mama had let her come by herself and how long she could stay. "I can stay for one hour," said Charlotte.

to be continued ...

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Done Up in Blue

The chickens are four weeks old now, and with the 90* afternoon temperatures it's time to get the cooling system going. All the cool cells have to be filled with water and of course one pump had to be out of working order, so Noel has spent most of the day fixing things. I walked through all four houses this morning and put in migration pipes which keeps too many chickens from crowding towards the cooler air; they are smarter than they look and act.

So, with a late lunch behind me, I went to the sewing room to complete what I had started yesterday: another set of sheets and a pillowcase for the oak doll bed. I had already made another mattress and pillow. This time the sheets are done up in a soft blue and the pillowcase is edged with a multi-pastel eyelet:

This little Rail Fence quilt top will be a nice complement to the soft blue, when it's quilted.

Now, if only Charlotte Emily would keep her shoes off the bedding!!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Scarlet Fever

Charlotte and Wanda

In the beginning, it had been difficult for Wanda to accept Charlotte. After all, for over six years she had been the only little girl, and now she had to share Mama, Daddy, and Grandma with a baby. But as the baby grew old enough to do more than sleep and cry, and could walk, Wanda began to play with her; however she was glad when school started each fall so she could play with her friends. Sometimes she brought storybooks home and either she or Mama would read them to Charlotte.

But Wanda brought home more than just storybooks. She brought home measles, chicken pox, whooping cough, and mumps. One day she came home with a fever, and by the next afternoon she had a red rash over much of her body. Soon the rash disappeared and she seemed to have a cold and she coughed and sneezed and had nose bleeds. In a few days Charlotte had fever; her head hurt, her arms and legs ached, and the air chilled her. The only way Mama knew how to make the fever go down was to wrap the little girl in a blanket to make her sweat.

By morning a red rash covered Charlotte's tummy and neck; she could barely swallow because her throat hurt terribly. She stopped eating because of the pain and Mama told Daddy, "We've got to have a doctor for Charlotte. She's so frail and can't go on without eating." The doctor came the next morning and told them the girls had scarlet fever. He swabbed Charlotte's throat, the pain cutting through her throat like a knife.

Mama tried to cook the things she thought Charlotte would like, but still she wouldn't eat. She became so weak she couldn't walk across the floor. Charlotte knew Mama wanted her to eat, and she was hungry, and the sore throat was almost gone now. But she had gone without eating for so long that even the smell of food made her feel sick. Mama tried mixing vanilla and sugar into milk for her to drink, and added vitamins; Charlotte could smell the vitamins and refused the milk.

And then one morning Daddy went to town and brought home some bananas. Charlotte ate a couple of slices for supper, a half for breakfast, and she didn't get sick. By noon she felt like drinking a small amount of canned peach juice. Gradually she began to eat a few bites more, and gained enough strength to learn to walk again.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

It's My Day

April 5th -- It's my day! 2011 - 1941 = 70!! How did that happen?

"Once upon a time

when days were still fresh

and new,


and uncomplicated,

I was a free child

in love with everything...

a bee buzzing

the wind in my hair

a branch to hang from

bare feet in the grass

dandelions and fairies

teddy bears.

I don't remember growing up.

It must have happened while I wasn't looking

but it is obvious from my heart

that it has happened

for I am less simple

more complicated

and more cluttered.

I would not choose

to become a child again

but I am looking to children

and searching in them

for a simplicity and ordinariness

that makes being an adult

easier to accept

and miracles easier to see.

Children are not too sophisticated

to wonder

to take off their shoes

to reach out, and up

and all around

for that's where miracles are.

The child in me longs

to touch all of the adults I know

with the magic wand of littleness

and perform that great miracle

of enabling them to understand

that it's not too late

to live happily ever after.

The problem is so simple

they could miss it.

Their teddy bears

they've thrown too far

and how desperately they need them."

From page 21 of the Harper paperback, Seasons of Your Heart, by Macrina Wiederker

(Can anyone tell me how photos, like the one above, were colored? This was taken at home; I know because that's our old house behind me.)

Monday, April 4, 2011


About fifteen years ago this old sunbonnet came into my possession, faded and torn, too fragile to be worn, so I tucked it away, it being a reminder of days gone by. Mama and I wore bonnets and I always found them to be hot and confining, but they were more lady-like than a hat for a woman to wear. Every now and then I would take the old bonnet out, look it over, and think about making one like it. The bonnet is a very simple one, made from one flat piece of fabric with the tail snapped to the front sides. The actual bonnet part had a lining but the tail was bound in bias. So over the weekend I put it on a piece of freezer paper and drew a pattern. Instead of binding the tails, I cut two entire pieces from separate fabrics, sewed them together, turned them right side out, top stitched around the entire thing, and put four snaps on each side to give it the bonnet shape.

Pattern with two fabrics cut out

This was the end result, very easy; the most difficult part for me was sewing on the snaps by hand. I'm getting clumsy when it comes to holding small things.
I may wear the bonnet when I work in the garden, but not while driving the tractor; bonnets always seem to cut off peripheral vision and I want to be sure I know what is on all sides when I'm operating machinery.

Have you ever worn a bonnet?

Friday, April 1, 2011

New Bed Linens

Even though the weather is still too cool for spring, let's fix up the bed with new linens, starting with a tufted mattress and soft pillow, done up in ticking.

Add crisp, white sheets (they're the best) and a lace trimmed pillowcase. For those cool nights, top them off with a quilt, either appliqued,
or patchwork.
Now tuck yourself in and have a wonderful, dreamy sleep.