Friday, December 29, 2006

Here a Hen, There a Hen, Everywhere a Hen Hen

My new layers this year were very late in starting to lay eggs. They are wonderful foragers though and truly free range all around our property. They go in the woods, they cover the garden area, they even make it to my front yard. They are in the goat pasture, the sheep pasture, and down by the pond. I was told that since they started to lay so late this year that I should not expect many eggs through the winter from them. They are laying very well. However, I wonder how many eggs are being layed in obscure places that I have not found. This morning when I went out to do my chores, I was watching the chickens all scattered around. As I ducked my head and went into the goat shed, I looked to the right and the chicken in the first picture was laying in a nest that has been used lately. I find anywhere from 1 to 3 eggs in this nest each day. Then as I went into the milk parlor area, the chicken in the second picture was sitting on the crate in there doing her thing. This crate has some stuff stored in the bottom. There is a window opening just above it that goes into the hay rack area of the goat shed. We put hay through the window all the time and some drops off and it has built up in the crate. We find anywhere from zero to 4 eggs in there each day. Then as I looked out into the goat area of the shed, there was another hen in the corner by the water bucket laying her egg for the day. We find them all over the place. If it will ever start to act like winter and get cold for an extended period of time, we want to lock them in the coop for a week and see how many eggs we get and to try and teach them what nest boxes are for. =)

This is Honeysuckle all by her lonesome. She misses having her daughter in with her. They talk over the fence though. Her daughter is still in with the buck and will be there until sometime tomorrow. Then all will be back to normal. =) Doesn't she look sad??

Thursday, December 28, 2006

The Sun Overslept Today!?

The sky was really strange this morning. I looked out about 11:30AM. On a sunny day, the sun would be high in the sky. Today is cloudy and overcast. I am not sure if it was just the clouds or what, but there are all sorts of shades of pink you can not see in these pictures. It looked just like a sunrise, although a late one. Maybe the sun overslept this morning!! =) It was very beautiful.

You can see our 2 jersey milk cows up on the hill in the last 2 pictures. We are praying that they are both bred. We bred the darker one, Molasses to a beef bull. Buttercup, who is honey colored we hope was bred to a honey colored jersey bull. She spent a long time at our friend's dairy farm. He is still not sure she is bred. She has VERY silent heats and it is really hard to figure out when she is in heat. I am praying that she is bred and that it is a little honey colored heifer calf. I prefer the honey colored jerseys. Molasses is very dark brown and I know that anything she would throw would probably be that same dark color.

You can also see that our pond is full. Now we need a good freeze and people can ice skate. We did not get a hard freeze last year and the bugs and weeds were terrible all summer long. So, we really need a long hard freezing period this year. Also, we have friends from Florida coming in a couple of weeks. They are praying for snow as are we. So far, most of December has been in the high 40's, 50's or even low 60's.

Well, we have new lawn ornaments now. Our neighbors butchered their pig. At least 2 of the feet have found their way into my yard. EEWWWWW!!! Dogs can be really gross!!!

This is a picture of the buck we borrowed. His name is Cinders. He has already bred Honeysuckle, but Magnolia (on right in picture) has not shown signs of heat. So, we used some lutalyse (sp?) to try and bring her into heat. She is in with the buck until this Saturday. Then he goes home. We are praying that she will be bred. She is the granddaughter of our herd matriarch and the daughter of Honeysuckle. I would really like to see a baby from her.

That is what is going on here. I would love to hear what is going on at your house!!!

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Young Men are Sure Different!!

We spent part of Christmas Day at Michael's parents. His youngest sister was there with her 3 little girls. The youngest was just born on November 21st. Being the baby hog that I am, I held her for a long time. I was just getting ready to go and pick her up again, when Grandma went for her and I did not have the heart to take her away from Grandma. It was killing me to be nice though. =) Her babies are all small. This one was just up to 7 lbs. She was adorable. So small and sweet and cuddly. More family came, but we did not get to see a lot of them.

Then we went to my brother's house. Another brother and his family were there and my Dad was there as well. We were playing a game called Apples to Apples. We had a lot of fun playing it. However, I now realize that my family has very LOUD mouths. You could hardly hear yourself think it was so noisy. =) Then the young men went downstairs to play their version of ping pong. They video taped their game. They would play one on one. When one person got 2 points ahead, their opponent had to put their shirt up over their face. This made it so that they could not see and also exposed their bare stomachs. Then the other guy would hit a ping pong ball as hard as he could and try to hit the belly of their opponent (brother or cousin). They would flinch and it left these round red welts. They thought this was FUN??!!?? I never did figure that one out. My son is very fair skinned and so his welts would turn to red quickly and they showed up clearer than on the others. His looked like little ring worms. They brought the video tape up to show all of us this "fun" game they were playing. That is what the pictures above are all about. The men (their dads) were laughing themselves sick right along with the young men. The women were all looking at each other in confusion wondering if they were totally missing something. They had the video go in slow motion when my son was getting hit with the ball. You could see the ball hit, he flinched and then immediatly this red welt showed up. They all thought that was really funny. I still didn't get it. I was told it was a "guy thing".

Friday, December 22, 2006

Christmas Goodies

My Mom had a secret recipe for candy. She would not give it to anyone but family. I think it came from my Grandma. She finally let me have the recipe right before I got married, but with the stipulation that I would not give it out. I have been faithful to that through the years. Now that my Mom has graduated to heaven, I am not sure if I still need to keep it secret or not. At this point I would feel guilty to give it to anyone, but a daughter-in-law. The top picture is the candy while it is still on the stove top. The second picture is after it is in the pan and covered in chocolate. We put the 2 pans of it out in the fridge on the porch. When it is totally cooled, you hit the bottom of the pan and break it into pieces.

I was once again blessed by my friend and her children. She brought her 3 oldest girls over on Wednesday around noon and left them here until 5PM. They helped me make Christmas cookies. I am cut-out cookie challenged. When I roll out the dough, it is never nice and even. It always sticks to the counter and I break off any small parts (like legs or stems) on the cookie. Rachel (17 years old) made it look like a walk in the park. She rolled it out perfect the first time. She picked the dough up and moved it over. Not one piece stuck to the counter. She could shake the cookie dough out of the cookie cutter and nothing fell apart. I am convinced that making cut out cookies is a gift that I did not get at birth. We made a double batch of four kinds of cookies. There are cut-out cookies, thumbprints (my favorite), peanut butter sandwich cookies and Russian tea cakes. We tried to make the peanut butter cookies really tiny, but we used butter instead of the crisco that the recipe called for and they spread way out. There is peanut butter cream between the 2 cookies. Most of these will be given away to friends and family. I made the candy (above) today and also iced the cut out cookies today. However, I would still be making cookies if they had not come to help me. I am very grateful for their help, plus they are a lot of fun when they are here.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Watch Me Grow

I was talking with a friend recently about different traditions that families have. We were sharing some neat ones that we had heard of and made comments that we wished we had thought of those when we first got married or first had children, etc. One of the traditions that we talked about was done in both my family and my husbands family. It was having a place in the house where your height was measured. In my parents home it was inside the broom closet doorway. In my husband's family it was a piece of woodwork in the kitchen. In fact when his parents had their kitchen redone, they had them carefully take off that piece and they saved it and still put the grandchildren on it. You would stand with your back agains the wall and make sure that your heals touched the wall. You would have already taken your shoes off. Oh, and if you had grown enough to notice since the last time, a big deal was made of it. =)

My Sister-In-Law wanted to do this with her girls. She asked me to make her a board that they could use. This is what I came up with. The first picture is of the entire board. Then the pictures are in order from the bottom to the top. I really enjoyed doing this and even thought about making some to sell, but never got around to it.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Is This Really December???

The weather is truly amazing. Last year at this time we had temperatures in the low teens and single digits. That was really cold for this area... so they say. It has been in the 50's here all week. We did have one day of rain, but the other days the sun has been shining. These temperatures are really warm for Ohio in mid to late December... so they say. =) I always wonder who "they" are. I happen to have a personal relationship with "The Weatherman". He controls the weather and sends it as He sees fit. I think He likes to keep the earthly weathermen guessing. He also likes to send us a variety of weather to enjoy. I love the snow and winter, but I am also very thankful for this wonderful week of milder weather. It saves on our wood supply and it is much more pleasant to go out and do chores in. It is a small vacation from the cold that winter can bring. We have friends from Florida coming in January. Their children are praying for snow. We are praying along with them. I would like lots of snow the week they are here. When you live in Florida and rarely if ever see snow, it is a big deal. Snow is still a big deal to me, even though I live here. I lived in Florida for 13 years and was ready to come back to 4 seasons. I love to watch the snow come down. I love it when people come and bring their children and they build snowmen in my yard.

What is the weather like at your place?

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

The Spoiled Queen =)

Well, I feel really spoiled. I was treated like a queen for my birthday. A friend and 8 of her children came over on Friday about 11:15AM. They were there to clean my house. My upstairs has been untouched for awhile since we do not use it. We have company coming from Florida in January and I wanted to get a head start on it. They heard me and decided to bless me. They wanted me to sit, sip tea and read to the 2 littlest (1 and 3). However, I was the administrator. I was being constantly asked, what else do you want me to do, where does this go, can I do this... etc. They brought a nice lunch and stayed helping me until about 4:30PM. The Mom did take all but the 17 year old girl home for the last couple of hours. Rachel and I made a pumpkin crunch and did some finishing touches on the house.

Then my husband and son took me out to dinner at the Olive Garden on Friday night. After that we all 3 went out to look at a stereo receiver (another story). Joshua spent the night and went to work from our house on Saturday. I was allowed to sleep in on Saturday morning. I spent the whole day with my sweetheart. We ran errands and worked around the house. He got me new slippers, my favorite perfume with matching skin lotion and shower gel, and a whole bunch of candles all in Christmas scents. Then Joshua came home to have dinner with us. He gave me 2 big Yankee candles in wonderful scents.

Michael had invited people over for cake and ice cream. I do NOT like being the center of attention. I had 2 of the 3 year olds help me blow out my candles. I got one nice card, a funny homemade poem and a MEAN card. =) It had something to do with making it look easy going over the hill and it had a cat on it. The poem was by the 12 year old girl next door. I will have to get it and type it out for you. It was cute.

Mrs. Blubaugh's Don't Like List

She doesn't like birthdays,
She doesn't like bats
She doesn't like dirt, dust or
Mice in her cracks.

She doesn't like spiders,
Worms, insects or rats...
But she definitely,
Positively, Really...

Happy Birthday and may the Good Lord keep all cats out of your sight today!!

They put all that in about rats and mice, because something recently died in our walls and has really been stinking.

I got a beautiful calendar with artwork by Bill Suys, another candle (Can you tell I like candles), a bag of Reisins, some beautiful and dainty handkerchiefs, and a whole set of snowman table ware. There was a platter, a big bowl, salt & pepper, napkin holder and 4 mugs. There was probably more, but I would have to go and look. They stayed and played games and watched a movie until almost midnight.

I got a white mock turtle neck and a darling sweater from my inlaws. The sweater has snowmen on it and is in shades of blues. There are trees and cardinals. I was thrilled with it. I got several phone calls and lots of cards and e-cards as well.

It was a great weekend. God has been so good to me. He is still honing and teaching and pruning me, but He is faithful and loving and His mercies are new every day.

Now, you know why I was feeling spoiled.

The stereo story...
Michael and I bought a stereo receiver back in December of 1979. It finally died recently. It even got stolen once. The police called and told us to come down and claim our stuff. They asked if we could identify it. Our name was on the box. =) It had been in a storage unit. Anyway, we have been looking for a new one. We went Friday night after dinner to look at them again. We found a really good deal on a home theater system. It had the receiver with a DVD player (we didn't really need that) and 5 or 6 speakers. It was the same price as most of the other receivers we had looked at that had nothing with them. Our speakers weren't broken, but they were not that good anymore. They were scratchy, etc. So, we decided to buy this set. It was in their sale flyer, but they did not have it in stock. The salesman told us that in all the years he worked there, he had never actually seen this happen, but their policy is that if it was in the flyer and they do not have it in stock, you move up to the next best for the same price. Well, in our case, the only thing they had was twice as much as the one we picked out was. So, we got a REALLY nice system for an average system price. We were thrilled.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Christmas Memories

These are pictures of Christmas at our house. If you look at the top picture, you will see snowflakes hanging from the beam. These are all hand cut out of paper with an exacto knife. I have saved them for years and have never been able to make any so intricate since. =) On the beam on the right are hand made ornaments. I have two sister in laws that are into beading. They make us Christmas ornaments. The icicles are glass and all twisted and delicate. The stars are made of ornate metal. Each one is a treasure.

The second picture is of my table. You can see Christmas cards at the top of the closet door and then my first birthday card lower on the door. The last picture is a close up of the table taken without the flash. I love to have candles going. My husband and son always come in and exclaim how dark it is in here. =) Then all the lights go on. Sometimes late at night we will turn off all the lights, but the tree lights and sit and talk quietly or listen to Christmas carols as we snuggle up together.

The third picture is of items from my childhood. The little green tree lights up and blinks. Each star on it, used to have different colors of cellophane on it. They were long ago punched out and I have replaced them all with red (the only color I had on hand). It no longer blinks either. The little choir used to always sit on the mantle. The choir figurines as well as the two little angels are all wax candles.

The next picture is of our tree. Sometimes I have strung popcorn and cranberries for a garland, but did not do it this year. I also had some red wooden beads that looked like cranberries, but we have lost a box of Christmas stuff somewhere in the shuffle. So, this year it is much more plain than normal, but I still love plain. The wooden star on top was cut out and painted by me. The pattern came from a book. The lady called the star binkle, because when she made her first one, her little 3 year old cried out, "Binkle binkle little star, how I wandered where you were." That has always made me smile. I don't know if you click on the picture of the tree if you will be able to see it any better, but there are at least 6 snowflakes with pictures of Joshua in the center. At one of our churches in Florida, they gave each child 6th grade and down a snowflake ornament to take home. It has the year on the back. They are my favorite ornaments. The heart with the handprint was made by Joshua when he was 2 years old. All my ornaments are either homemade or special gifts from people.

Tomorrow, I will put up pictures of our nativity sets. Our neighbors have a very large beautiful set they put on top of their piano. Since they and we believe that the wisemen probably did not get there until Jesus was about 2 years old, they put them over on one end around a fire ("far" if you are a hillbilly like we are). So, they say the wisemen came from a "far". =)

The Snow Won the War!!

It looks like the snow won!!! I have always told people that the first snow that sticks is around my birthday. My birthday is tomorrow and here is the snow. We came home from our Bible study last night and the snow was coming down pretty thick. About ten minutes after we parked and went in, I looked back outside and saw that the car was already mostly covered. The last picture is what we woke up to this morning.

We are going out to dinner for my birthday this evening. Our son, Joshua, will be joining us. Then tomorrow evening, we will be grilling steaks and having another birthday dinner. Then friends will be coming over after dinner for cake and ice cream. I really detest being the center of attention. I have never liked it when someone threw me a party or a shower. I love to throw them for others though. My friends are ignoring my protests and coming anyway. =) One of the families is coming over today to bless me. They are going to help me clean my house and take care of somethings. They said they want me to sit and sip tea and read to the little ones while they clean. That is a major blessing. They are also bringing lunch. I will feel like a queen by tomorrow evening. Someone will have to pop my big head for me. =)

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Weather Wars

I looked out the window this morning and saw this scattering of snow on the ground (bottom picture). It is snowing in the picture, although it is hard to see. I looked out again later and it looked like a blizzard. Pretty soon, the sun came out and all the snow disappeared. Then it was snowing again and snowed just enough to leave a bit on the ground. Then the sun came out and the snow all melted again. =) Now, I sit here and it is snowing while the sun is shining!!! I love watching the fronts come in over behind my barn.

Praise the Lord that He is faithful!!!! He has answered prayer for us in a big and miraculous way. He hears His people when they cry out to Him!!!

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Was It A Morning Like This?

This was the sunrise this morning. This picture does not even do it justice. There were shades of aquamarine and light blue that are not even showing up in the picture. Each new day there is a very unique sunrise. Each one painted by a loving Heavenly Father, who likes to bless us with beauty. Not only does He paint us a new sunrise every morning, but His mercies are also new every day. Praise the Lord!!! Whenever there is a spectacular sunrise, I think of that first Resurrection Day morning. All of creation had to have been rejoicing that He was no longer dead, but ALIVE!!!

I was talking to a friend recently that felt really wretched because of things in her life. She was a born again believer though. If you have asked the Lord to forgive you of your sins and accepted that free gift of salvation He offers, then when God looks at you, He does not see wretchedness, He sees righteousness. It is not our righteousness, but He looks through the blood of Christ that covers us and sees Christ's righteousness in us.

I have talked to many people who feel that accepting Christ is just a means to escape hell. We do escape hell if we accept His gift, but we are also redeemed, bought with a price, and no longer our own. We now belong to Him. We should be asking Him what He wants us to do with our life. We should be in His Word every day seeking to know Him better. People tend to overlook the verses that say that those who follow His commandments are His disciples. They think they can pray a prayer and then do whatever they wish and still have an automatic ticket to heaven. They don't even know what His commandments are. They dabble with things that are better left alone. Galatians 5:19-21 Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. They watch things on TV or in the movies that are vile. Ps 101:3 I will set no wicked thing before mine eyes: They rebel against their authorities (parents, teachers, employers, gov't) 1Sa 15:23 For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. These are just a few samples of commandments and instruction that we are given in the Bible. Let's all commit together to read more of His Word this coming year. There are many schedules you can get on line to read through the Bible in a year. As we let the Holy Spirit teach us, we will draw close to the Lord in a whole new relationship. We will be blessed beyond belief!!! There is great joy in that relationship. It is not a hard, ugly place to walk as some seem to think. Try it!!!

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Winter Wear and Winter Yard Decor

It is hunting season here in Ohio. Last week was gun season and I believe it is still bow season. We did not do any hunting this year since we have all the meat that we need. Our neighbor took two of his older children through the hunter safety course and they have spent some time out hunting. The one boy and his dad both got a deer. They processed the deer themselves and left some of the scraps out for their dogs. Now our dogs are visitors at their house and their dogs visit our house. They are all friends. My dogs have decided to help themselves to some of the treats that are next door. Then they leave them lay in my yard. These are a couple of the lovely lawn ornaments that we found yesterday.

Last night when we were out doing chores, my goats were shivering. We leave sweatshirts out in the goat shed for them. They rarely wear them, but if they are shivering we put them on. The blue sweatshirt actually has a logo of the company my husband works for. They already call him Mr. Green Jeans, so I thought it would be a good picture to show them. A goat in a corporate sweatshirt. =) I thought you would enjoy seeing the girls in their finery.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Getting Older

I have a birthday coming up at the end of this week. I will be 48!! That is SO hard to believe. There is still a 20 something woman living inside this aging body. I remember when I was in my early 20's looking at people who were 50 and seeing an adult that was "getting older". =) I keep waiting to feel like I am one of those "older adults", but I still feel like this younger woman. I assume that those "older adults" still feel young as well. Time is something that just keeps on passing whether we want it to or not. I still would love more children, but maybe it will be grandchildren instead.

When you are going to be 48, you sit back and reflect where you are in life, where you thought you would be at this age and what caused the difference between the two. I was going to get married and have 12 babies. When the farm dream came and we pursued it, we again saw a house full of children helping us on the farm and living the "good life". God gave us a house with 6 bedrooms and we thought He was going to fill them up with children. Then we tried for a year and a half to adopt a sibling group of six. God has had other plans for us. As far as babies, He has given us one. He is a good one though. =) The Lord has placed lots of people in my life that do have lots of babies. Most of them have shared them with me. I had two friends who allowed me to be at their home births and then totally hog their children at church. I would have 2 babies in my arms and when someone asked to hold one, I would tell them to ask the mother of the baby. Both friends would say, "No, Marci has them." One of those two ladies, Rhonda, really shared her whole pregnancy with me. I got to help in the delivery and little Audrey was truly part mine. Melanie, who has a blog Candle By Night, shared her first little guy with me. Then just an hour after having her second one (at home), she called and told me to come over and cuddle that brand new little blessing. Not many people get to do that. So, God has blessed me, but in a different way than I envisioned.

The difference between the 2 outcomes of my life, is allowing the Lord to choose my path. His choosing is always for my best. He uses the hard things in life to hone me and to make me more like Him. However, He also showers down the blessings on us as well. I publically praise the Lord for all He has done for me!!

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Winter is Back

Today the sun was shining brightly with hardly a cloud in the sky. It was in the mid 30's. It is what you would call a cold crisp winter day. After all the days we have had in the 60's it sure feels cold out there. The sun did feel good though.

The sheep really love this type of weather. Their fluffy wool coats keep them nice and warm. They get really frisky and frolic about when the cold first hits. It is almost like a dance of joy. They are fun to watch. The ram is in with them now. He is just a little guy. The people we bought him from named him Ashley Wilkes. They do lots of theme names each year. He is a very gentle little ram so far.

I looked out the window tonight before it was completely dark and saw the moon in the clear sky. It was a true winter landscape. The trees all bare and naked of their leaves stretching their limbs skyward and outward like arms reaching for something. Sometimes it can seem sad, but other times it is just a stark beauty to behold. It reminds me of the verses in Ecclesiastes.

Eccl. 3:1-8 To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;
A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.