Quilting, Farming, Variety

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Another Finish

This is the second of the two quilt tops I finished last week. This one is larger and, with its darker colors, would make a good companion quilt for a toddler or preschool child while watching TV or enjoying his favorite book. The star points (hst's) were made from pieces leftover from a larger top and when I found a picture of this quilt online, I sized the blocks, then added the strips as shown to make a pattern like the original. So, here's another top, stacked, waiting for cooler weather.

Today wouldn't have been the day; it was 107* shortly after noon, then rain circled us (actually we only got enough to show tracks in the dust) and cooled the air, for which we were grateful! It is just so sad to see the pastures brown and the grass gnawed to the ground. The heifers here at the barn have not had much grass to eat since May, only hay, and this morning Popa fed a bale to a larger herd. That makes every bale we put up valued.

"It is of the LORD's mercies that we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness." Lam. 3:22,23


Saturday, July 30, 2011

Staying Out of the Heat & Catching Up

In an attempt to stay out of the heat, I've spent time yesterday and today in the sewing room, after the morning chores. I had two baby quilt tops, partially finished and tucked back in the cabinet, so I decided now would be a good time to complete them.

A few years ago I bought this book, and made a twin sized quilt like this
I used a lot of homespun plaids and bright colors, and gave it to one of my granddaughters. The blocks are different sizes and filled out with strips of fabric to make them all the same.

This is the baby quilt top whose blocks were stuffed away in a box, needing to be sized all the same, and a border to put an ending to the strips. The cat's tail, the dog's ears and the cow's ears hang free.

The picture is a little blurred; poor Popa! I asked him to hold it up for me; he frowned and I told him, other men hold up quilts for their wives to take pictures. So, he agreed and was standing under the ceiling fan! so it was waving a little I guess. I'll post about the second quilt top tomorrow. See, it's this way: I'll get them ready, under the ceiling fan, while the temperature is 108*, and quilt them next winter, beside the space heater, when it's 28*.


Thursday, July 28, 2011

Why Me, Lord?

I picked blueberries again this morning, dark sweetness burdening the stems to the ground, and more in abundance than I need. As I popped a few into my mouth, the image of thin, starving babies being left alongside the road to die, in drought stricken areas of Africa, crept into my mind. And I remember these words, penned by Kris Kristofferson a few years ago:

"Why me Lord?

What have I ever done,

to deserve even one

of the pleasures I've known?

Tell me Lord,

what did I ever do,

that was worth loving you

for the kindness you've shown?"

America you've been so blessed!! Can't you see it?


Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Ready for the Frames

The little string quilt top is ready for the frames; it measures 38" x 45".

This is the fabric I chose for the borders and the backing. The borders were added, not to make the quilt larger, but to make a stopping point for the string blocks. This piece of fabric was given to me by my oldest daughter a few years ago, and once, when I started to use it for a backing, much to my dismay, it had little holes every so often in the fold. They look like someone snipped the fold while on the bolt. I had wondered if I'd ever be able to use it; today I made the borders from it and have a solution for the holes.

I made five of these wonky house blocks and set them here and there in the top.

This is a picture of the string blocks, showing how I used selvages in them.

Now, this little bear is the solution for fixing the holes in the backing fabric. I'll take his pattern and applique bears over the holes. After all, most of the animals living in the wonky houses are bears. The paw prints on the backing fabric may be dog tracks, but we can pretend they're bear tracks, can't we?


Monday, July 25, 2011

Nature's Summer Singers

With the hot, dry, summer days comes nature's singers, the cicada and the cricket. And, they have made their presence known in our area this week. One afternoon, as I passed a group of post oak trees, I could hear the song of the cicada above the noise of the Kubota engine, so when I read that these insects produce sounds among the loudest of all insects, I could believe it. Although it's unlikely, their sound can cause permanent hearing loss in humans, should the cicada sing just outside the listener's ears. They produce their loudest "music" during the hottest time of the day; perhaps our hot temperatures are ideal for their concerts!

Crickets -- ahh-- I hate crickets! There's just something about being awaken during the night by the song (chirping) of a cricket that annoys me to no end! And after doing a little research on crickets, I learned that the male does all the chirping, and he doesn't do it by rubbing his legs together. It seems there are "teeth" on the bottom of each wing and the noise is made by rubbing these teeth together, and he has four types of song: a calling song, a courting song, an aggressive song, and a copulatory song.

Last night, around 12:00 a.m., the devil entered a cricket, and soon I was wide awake. It almost made me wish I wore hearing aids that could be taken out and I'd never hear anything again until morning. I knew I couldn't go back to sleep with that shrill "music" streaming down the hallway and into my bedroom, so I got up and walked quietly toward the culprit. The closer I got to the laundry room, the more shrill the noise; then -- silence. I was close to him! I turned on the lights but didn't see anything along the walls, nothing around the washing machine or window, so I got the fly swat and waited for him to resume his concert. Then I saw a little black blob in the corner by the door, and when I tried to pull it out, the blob jumped! That swat was on him in a split second! That was the end of his music!

Thinking back on it, I realize he was singing his calling song, which is fairly loud, trying to attract females and telling other males, "This is my territory! Stay out!" Please, don't attract females to this house! And, I don't know about the folklore which says cricket chirpings are signs of rain; it hasn't had any effect so far. Also, in some countries, a loud chirp means money is coming in, and the cricket must not be killed. Oh dear! What have I done?

Be happy, Charlotte

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Gleaning the Fields

The past few days we've been gleaning the fields for a few more bales of hay, hoping for rain to make the grass grow for one last cutting before fall. It was good hay but very few bales as compared to what there should have been.

This is the view from the front of my tractor; I'm almost a full wind row ahead of the baler. That's the way I like it, so I don't have to feel pressured to hurry.

Today we hauled bales from the field to the house.

Now for some updates on previous posts: 1)The little calf died; she was just too weak to survive. 2)There were twelve comments left for the tomato question. Everyone agreed it was the top of the tomato. You see, I'm the only one in my family who thinks it is the bottom; however, one comment said I was technically correct. I always looked at it this way: that is the end where it is attached to the stem, and if it were not for the weight of the tomato, it would not hang on the vine the way it does, upside down. Also, the blossom would be at the top, I think. Of course, it isn't important; I just know that no one ever wants to eat that slice, whether it's top or bottom; the center slices are always picked first. And since I can't stand to see ONE slice of a good, ripe tomato go to waste, I just take that slice and leave the others for someone else. Another comment ask if a tomato is a fruit or a vegetable -- ?? 3)There is only one little string block left to piece to make enough for the top; needless to say, that one little block has been on my mind all day, but I'm too tired tonight to sew it.

Hope you have a happy Sunday with good friends and family,


Wednesday, July 20, 2011

A Question for You ---

This question comes from a controversy in my family, so maybe you can help me.

Is this the TOP or the BOTTOM of a tomato? I'd like to know what you think --

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Another Little Mouth to Feed

Monday evening Popa found a little calf all alone. Then he found a cow with a little calf who was the spittin' image of the first one, so he knew what we had: a set of twins. And, as happens so many times with twins, one was taken and the other left behind. This morning he brought the cow and both calves to the barn here at home and now I guess I have another little mouth to feed; remember I've been feeding one since Mar.{see post for Mar. 3, 2011, Left Alone}

This little calf if not nearly as big as the March calf was, but she sucked the bottle as soon as I gave it to her, so maybe we're off to a good start. She tired quickly, so in order to make sure she got the milk, Popa put it down into her stomach with a tube feeder.

This is her twin sister; they're like "two peas in a pod". Now wouldn't it be nice, if this evening when I go to feed her, she would be sucking the cow? It's not a difficult job, just time consuming and more stuff to wash up.

I wonder what the bigger calf will think when he has to share me with the baby?

Wish me luck! Charlotte

By the way -- I'm not as big as I look in that picture!

Monday, July 18, 2011

My Thought for Today

Mama must be quilting today, for there are little wads of cotton falling from heaven.

Sunday, July 17, 2011


Our blueberries are ripening and this side of the bush is so full of berries it hangs down into the grass. The bushes are old, and for the most part get little attention as far as cultivation and feeding go. I did just a little pruning last winter to take out old wood. Anyone could have a plant or two; they would be right at home in a yard with some mulching materials and an acidic soil.

Blueberries are hard for me to pick; just because they're blue doesn't mean they are fully ripe and they'll taste sour. I sorta pick them by feel and size; the bigger ones usually have the best flavor. So this year, because of the hot, dry weather some are not getting very large and not as sweet. When the chickens went out I began watering them to try and save more of their goodness. After picking them, which takes me at least an hour to pick a gallon, I can begin to understand why they are so pricey in the grocery stores. Or is it because of all the hype they've been given as to their health benefits?

These are waiting in the refrigerator for someone to come along and claim a box. I have several in the freezer already. Wish I could share with you.

And this is my favorite way to eat blueberries, fresh, with ice cream or cereal. Won't you join me?


Saturday, July 16, 2011

My Hands

I have ugly hands. I used to look at my classmates' hands, with their smooth skin, long slender fingers, and a watch sliding down from their wrists, and wish my hands looked that good. And when I got a watch, nothing changed with my hands.

My hands have thin skin with veins standing up, painful arthritis knots on my fingers, white scars from the removal of precancerous spots, red spots from sun exposure, and even the slightest bump makes a purple spot on them.

My hands are working hands. They can do the simplest of things, from brushing my teeth to combing my hair and pulling on my socks. They can wash dishes, clean toilets, change bedsheets, hold a broom handle and a dust cloth, hold a bottle for the calf, pick up chickens, catch a cow in the head gate, and steer a tractor. They can shell peas and peel potatoes, and although there's a little tremble in them at times, they can still thread a needle and guide it through the layers of a quilt and turn the thin pages of my Bible.

I have good hands and have no need to hide them; for who is going to remember me with, "Do you remember what ugly hands Charlotte had?" I hope the day never comes when my hands lie idle in my lap.

God is good!! Charlotte

Friday, July 15, 2011

Back to Work ---

Well, it's back to work here on the farm. Six days without chickens didn't give us much time to rest from it. The little biddies had a hot day to come to the farm but they are pushing up to the water lines for a drink and some are sprawled out sleeping after being dumped out onto the shavings. No heaters going for sure!! Just big fans to pull fresh air over them.

Now we'll probably get back in the hay field for a few days, then I hope to have some time to work on sewing projects, such as -- making aprons again.

I ordered these two pieces of fabric from Connecting Threads to make up into aprons.

Isn't it a wonderful apron? My daughter gave the pattern to me for my birthday back in April and it's been in the back of my mind all this time. View A is very much like an antique apron I have; I've tried several times to figure out how to make it without a pattern but I'm not very good at things like that. So we'll see -- it may be fall before I get to start it.

Have a good day, Charlotte

Thursday, July 14, 2011


We got rain last night -- 3/4 of an inch!! Then we've had two small showers this morning. The skies are beginning to clear from the north so that will probably be all for now. I just wanted to let those of you who have sent comments to me, following my complaining, that God is gracious to us, and we give him thanksgiving for these showers.

This morning is being spent in the chicken houses getting ready for baby chicks coming tomorrow afternoon. Maybe this afternoon I'll get a chance to piece more string blocks. I have about 70 so far and five wonky house blocks. My daughters thought the house blocks needed a small border around them to set them apart from the string blocks. I added a border to them and it did make them show up better. I guess the little bear in this house would rather read than sew. :)

Have a wonderful day, Charlotte

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

More Heat Today

Ahh -- remember this?

I think it's called rainwater? Oh how nice just an inch of it would be! I think I must have complained too much the day it flooded the yard. :( The temperature has reached 109.5* this afternoon and there's still several hours before sundown. I'm staying inside!!


Monday, July 11, 2011

A Little Doll

This little doll is known as a half doll, a doll that is sculpted from the waist up and the bottom is left free to be replaced with a pincushion or brush. Half doll pincushions reached their height of popularity between 1900 and 1930. Sometime in the 1920s the dolls took on a more modern look with bob hairstyles and flapper attire. They were not as good in quality because they were being mass produced and were poorly glazed.

This half doll has been in our family for as long as I can remember. Her hairstyle and hat makes me think she might have been made in the 1920s but of course I don't know that. The doll was made in Japan. She never had a skirt (pincushion) until a few years ago; I made one for her from feed sack squares. Now she sits on the shelf over my sewing machine.

There are many, many half dolls listed on eBay and for the most part they are pretty expensive to buy. But wouldn't this be a great hobby, collecting half dolls; I won't start another collection though. Do you have a half doll pincushion or remember your mother or grandmother having one? I'd like to hear about the doll.


Oh, by the way, the temperature has been 108* for a good part of the afternoon and has now dropped to 106.5*-- Whew!!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

The Ugly Side of Summer

At 3:00 p.m. today, the thermometer hit 107* and then dropped to 106.5* for most of the afternoon. No clouds to shade us, just hot, hot sun. Faces feel parched in just a jiffy when we go outside.

So there's no use pretending, not everything is pretty anymore; I have posted pictures of my flowers on Wednesdays when they were in beautiful bloom. Today I'm giving you the other half of the story in pictures: the ugly side of summer. Most flowers have no blooms now, just brown and yellow foliage. I'm wondering if some of them will die.

The pastures are grazed low and are turning brown except in the "draw" where there is still a little moisture for the smart weeds to grow. The cattle don't eat them.

The water in the stock pond is getting very low and has turned a velvety green color, really not good enough for the cattle to drink from. Usually they will come for a wade to cool off, much like the little neighbor children in their pool, but this afternoon I didn't see a cow anywhere; they were all in the shade of the trees.

Finally a little cloud; not a rain cloud, but a welcome shade for a few minutes.

Now I realize some areas are in a much worse drought than we are, and my heart goes out to those who rely on the rains to water their crops. We've probably already put up enough hay, with what we had left over, to feed the cattle next winter; however, if the weather continues to be so hot and dry, we will have to start feeding hay before fall.

But we have hope: "When the poor and needy seek water, and there is none, and their tongue faileth for thirst, I the LORD will hear them..." Is.41:17


Saturday, July 9, 2011

A Free Plaything

I picked blueberries this morning and heard a June bug fly past me. Now if you've never heard of a June bug, this is a description of one: the adult is 3/4" to 1" long, the upper body is velvety green, and the underside of the body is shiny metallic green or gold. They have a distinct, small, flat horn on their heads, and as I recall, rather stout hind legs.

I never could understand why they were called "June" bugs because we would never see them until around the first of July, and most commonly, whenever blackberries got ripe, then we would see them feeding on the big juicy berries. Also, they liked to feed on over ripe peaches.

My cousin, Dane, and I never considered them as pests, but rather as free playthings. We had great imaginations; ( for example, in the picture, that box was put on old wagon wheels and had become our wagon) June bugs became our little flying airplanes. First we had to catch a bug, which wasn't hard to do once they were busy eating. Then we would take a long piece of twine string, make a slip-knot in one end, slide it over one hind leg of the bug and draw up the slack in the string. Holding one end of the twine securely, we let the bug fly --only as far away as the length of the string of course. It would buzz and buzz, flying in circles until it tired, then settling down on the nearest thing for a rest until we pulled the string and the whole routine started again.

Cruel? Perhaps -- but we were being entertained outdoors in the fresh air and sunshine, moving, running, laughing and storing memories to recall on a day when we hear a June bug.

Do you have June bugs in your part of the world?


Thursday, July 7, 2011

A Hot,Stressful Day

We reached a high today of 102*; little showers built up to the southeast of us late this afternoon but none for us. The chickens are 53 days old and will go out tomorrow. The first houses will be caught in the morning but the others won't be caught until afternoon. I expect a lot of them will die from the heat and the stress of being caught because there's probably not going to be any relief from the high temps. We've kept the houses as cool as possible for them with cool cells and the misting system, but when they get this big some just can't take the heat. It would be nice to take a few days for ourselves; however, the company is bringing chicks to us again next Friday! :( Popa plans to clean out some of the litter to put on the fields and get new shavings. Then the equipment (feeders and water lines) have to be let down, feed boxes put out and step, step, step! My feet hurt already; no rest for the weary!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Wednesday -- Around the Yard

There is at least one plant that is putting on a show in spite of the hot, dry weather: a hibiscus. Too bad the blooms only stay pretty for one day. I've been saving clean water from the kitchen to put around it since it is prone to wilt in the heat of the day.

The pecan tree is heavily infested with web worms; I do believe this is about the worst I have ever seen it. We've always thought of this as being a sure sign of dry conditions, so maybe that's why they are so bad. While walking beneath the branches, I could hear their droppings hitting the ground and my head! What a life!! Reproduce, eat, ????, and die. Apparently the worms leave the web during the daytime to eat and return at night. A pesticide-free way to get rid of them is to cut the web from the infested stems and dispose of them. That wouldn't be too practical here on such high branches.

In this picture, the brownish glob, just to the upper right of the green spot, is a colony of worms which have just hatched out. In the past I have sprayed the worms at this stage while they are low enough to reach. The worms usually aren't fatal to the trees they infest, but in dry weather the trees can be stressed. For some reason, there are no pecans on the tree this year; neither mulberries nor wild cherries have fruits. We don't recall having temperatures low enough to freeze the fruits last spring. Poor crows and squirrels -- they'll have to look somewhere else for fall and winter food supplies.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Kitchen Art

There are some things, stained as they may be, that just belong in the farm kitchen, hanging on the wall. This old flour sack was found among a 92 year old woman's things, after she passed away, and we helped place her possessions in new places. I know, it looks dirty and faded, but it has found a new home in my kitchen.

This collection of antique egg beaters has also found a place on the wall in my kitchen. (This is about one half of them.) The collection started with a beater from Mama, then one from a great aunt, and it grew from there, with many purchased on eBay. Several were beaters I had never seen, such as the ones made to fit over bowls. I was never lucky enough to buy one with its bowl.

While adding to collections, I have learned one shouldn't buy something, regardless of its condition, just because it's available; wait until an article that is in good condition becomes available. You'll be happier with it.

Smiles, Charlotte

Sunday, July 3, 2011

July 4, 2011

*******Happy Fourth of July!!*******

Saturday, July 2, 2011

There's A New Cat in Town -----

There's a new cat in town tonight; he moved in this afternoon and now he's all tuckered out and washing up before bedtime. He'll be living a few blocks down from the bear.

Smiles, Charlotte

Friday, July 1, 2011

This Makes Me Happy ....

What does a person do with a mess like this ... a pile of strings and squares of paper?

Well, I take the squares, sew the strips onto the paper, press, and then trim. Presto!! pretty little quilt blocks.

This time I'm adding selvages to the blocks with the strings. I think more fabric companies are making pretty selvages now, for they used to just be plain. I don't have a big stash of selvages, only what I've cut off and some that my daughter saved for me. I don't know that many women who sew anymore to ask for their selvages. I have learned, when cutting the selvages, to leave at least 1/2 inch of the print with them for a seam allowance.

Next I made this little wonky house, with plans to include a few here and there with the string blocks:

It may be a sparse neighborhood; it took a long time to "build" this house.

Making these little blocks makes me happy; when one is finished I want to start another and time goes much too fast to do all I want.

Do you have a hobby that makes you happy?

Smiles, Charlotte