November 20, 2015
Tonight the temperature is dropping. It is still a very nice night for late November, but all of us farm critters feel the nip in the air. The cattle and sheep are full, chewing their cud and resting happily. The pigs are all huddled down in their soft beds of straw. Even my dog Cinch has eaten and is curled up in his bed. I watched the flames in the fire, enjoying the warmth and the dancing flames.
There is nothing like a warm fire on a cold night. I remember teamsters gathered around a noon time fire on a cold winter day, when logging was my vocation. A man named Jack would build a big fire every day at lunchtime. I told him one day that he sure builds a big fire. He said, ” There ain’t no sense in having a cold fire!”
The warmth felt good back then as we exchanged stories or poked fun at one another. Sitting around a campfire on a summer evening is another fond memory. Sometimes, just sitting alone watching the light pierce the night, makes me feel good.
There is nothing like a fire to warm the body and soul. It can fill your heart with memories while warming your hands. It can conquer the darkness or accompany the dark in a blended dance. I hope to reflect light in our world. Like a flame in the night or a star in the sky, I want to be a bright spot in someone’s life.
On this cold night, I will cherish old memories and savor the warmth, as the flames lick the sky. I will join the animals in their relaxation as we wait for the winter blast soon to arrive and I will say again…There is nothing like a fire!
November 19, 2015
What a great week this has been! First my book came out and yesterday, I learned the secret to percolating coffee. I find myself humbled by both events! It is kind of funny how both things go together; Both of them took over twenty-five years to come to be.
I have been gathering life experiences, remembering funny things and even some tragic events to write my book. It is about me, but it is a book that will touch anyone. I step outside of myself and tell the stories through another’s eyes. I laugh at myself and invite the reader to laugh along with me. I tear up a little and allow a time for reflection and peace to sweep over my audience. I end on a happy note, because in spite of all the rough things, the bumps and bruises on body and soul, the ride this far has been an awesome one!
My coffee has been a big part of my life too. I have drank it cold…not on purpose. I don’t like iced coffee, but I do like the stimulating liquid. I like it hot and black. I thought the way it was made, was to boil it on the stove for half an hour or so. However, I found that there is really some finesse to the method.
Chances are, I will still boil my coffee now and then, because I will get preoccupied and forget it on the stove. It is surly a fact that life will throw me a few curves yet as I stumble down the road to old age and beyond. So, I will take my coffee black and life any way that I can get it :o
November 18, 2015
This morning, after 25 years of making coffee wrong, I made the best coffee ever. I enjoy a good cup of perked coffee. I thought that I knew exactly how my mother made it. I was wrong… I “Googled it”.
Turns out you don’t have to boil it for 20 minutes on the stove…In fact, you’re not supposed to boil it at all! You just set the percolator up with coffee in the little basket. Put in water to just below the basket. Put it on the stove and heat it up. As soon as the pot perks once, reduce the heat so that it just hiccups every little while. keep an eye on the little glass window at the top and let it percolate for 3 minutes! That’s it!!
It’s not bitter. It is hot and smooth. I couldn’t believe it. Up until today coffee and cow kidney had the same recipe…You just boil the piss out of it :o
Man, was I ever wrong. This will be fun for the next 25 years. That bitter, sometimes stinky swill, that I used to drink, is forgotten. I am sure my kids and farm visitors will be very pleased! Old dogs can learn new tricks!
Filed under: November 2015 | Tags: Bethany Caskey, childhood, deer hunting, farm life, Farming, Gene Logsdon, horse logging, rural life, short stories
November 15, 2015
It’s here! My book is finally done. This project of putting together a collection of short stories, to warm the heart and soul, Is done. I have been putting my memories and life experiences down on paper for over twenty years. This past January, I began to select stories and get them in order for this book. I write a column for Rural Heritage magazine and a few of these articles have been printed, but most of these 63 stories are original to this book.
My friend and mentor, Gene Logsdon, was kind enough to write the forward for this Reflection of my life. Bethany Caskey, from Iowa, illustrated the pages and cover. This work of mine is 235 pages of easy reading that will make you laugh and make you cry, as I tug at your heart strings. There are stories about love and life, farming, logging, horses and children. They are assembled from the pages of my life.
This book is available through the Rural Heritage website WWW.ruralheritage.com , here at the farm, or in Jefferson Ohio at The Jefferson Milling Company, J.R.Hoffestter Jeweler and the 4-H Extension Office….for the bargain price of $14.95 I invite you to come along, share a story, a laugh or a tear.
It is the simple things in life that matter. I will take you away from the stresses in your life, as you relax and take a mental vacation to my farm. I am not responsible for coffee or tea sprayed on your favorite chair as you bust out laughing, but I will take credit for the warm feelings that will be stirred in your heart.
Filed under: November 2015 | Tags: comfort, cost cutting, down sizing, kindness, livestock, pigs on pasture, status quo, stress relief
November 13, 2015
These hogs have been out on pasture since July 4th. They get supplemented with ear corn, but forage for much of their food. It is no accident that they are in this good condition. I grow red clover and fescue pasture for them. I look after them and nature provides a bounty of nuts and wild apples. I also supplement their feed when needed. The stock is fattened by the eye of the master.
These hogs are, like me, very content. They are not bored. They are not standing in manure or swill. The mud on them is usually because they choose to put it there. They make wallows to cool themselves. They push up leaves and brush to create a warm bed. They snuggle together and slumber. They do root a little, but the damage is usually done to quack grass roots that I want to eradicate anyway!
I think about my livestock often. It is my job to keep them safe and fed. I choose to raise them in a stress free environment. I know that, living with minimal stress is better for all of us. I do many repetitive things. I feed at the same time. I use the same gates. I call the pigs different than the horses. Each specie knows when I am calling them, the rest barely look up. I am resistant to change, much more enjoying the status quo.
In my off farm job, change is constant. On the farm, when an animal leaves, the rest get more room, perhaps a bite more of food. When someone disappears from the workforce, it is unsettling for everyone. The poor person is now looking for work and everyone else gets a bigger share of job duties. They have great names for it like; cost cutting, down sizing, team initiative, lean manufacturing etc….sounds like freezer camp to me…anyway you put it, someone gets axed and the herd goes into disarray. The dynamics change as the next “herd leader” picks out his favorites and beats up the rest :o
I prefer the order of things. If the axe must fall, it is done humanely. I don’t talk about it for weeks, stir up a rumor mill or threaten the animals with the phrase, “You might be next.”. I do what needs done swiftly. I don’t put on a show and I comfort those left behind. There are many lessons to be learned on a good farm. I am glad to have learned, listened and watched, but most of all I am glad to have this haven to call home. It truly is what it means to be … Living the good life!
Filed under: November 2015 | Tags: Farming, Farming book, Love, short stories
November 12, 2015
I snapped this photo the other morning just as the sun was coming up. The leaves, now long gone, were shimmering in that chilly sunshine. It was beautiful. I was thankful for the gift of sight. The morning was quiet. The animals hadn’t awakened yet. So, I stood in the quiet of morning, breathing the cold, crisp air and soaked in one of the last full days of autumn. My hands were wrapped around a mug of hot coffee. The aroma of the coffee mixed with the sweet autumn air and I drank up all that I could hold….confirming once again that this farm is my place in the universe. I am so very happy to be here.
Over the past winter I labored over a writing project. It was much bigger than my column in Rural Heritage magazine. It was the culmination of many stories, memories and life experiences. I worked gleaning my notebooks and in some cases bits of paper as I put together a book of my life thus far. “Cultivating Memories”, is not an autobiography. It is a collection of short stories that will warm the reader and touch their very core. I will make you laugh and I will make you cry, as I talk about all things country and farming.
My book is forwarded by Gene Logsdon and illustrated by Bethany Caskey. “Cultivating Memories”, is a labor of love and will touch people from the city and country alike. I will give more details in the coming days as to where to get your copy, so stay tuned in. You will not be disappointed. :o
November 11, 2015
One of the brightest lights in our world today… the American Military.
Thanks to all of you veterans…past and present