Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Til the Cows Come Home

It's my birthday.

 I was just sitting here thinking about birthdays on the farm which led me to think about the birthday when I was 9 or 10.

I remember that they made me go out to bring in the cows for milking. I wasn't happy at all about that. I complained and grumbled to myself the whole time because I thought I shouldn't have to do the chores. After all, it WAS my birthday.

Photo credit: Kathy & Yale Dawson
Pictures from my cousin's farm

All in all, bringing in the cattle was not all that bad of a job ...unless it was raining. The cattle don't cooperate too well especially if the wind is blowing. They want to turn their backs to the wind, so if the wind is blowing the opposite direction it is quite a challenge to get them to do anything. (Who can blame them)?

Speaking of driving cattle in the rain

We once had a young man from Germany come to the farm as an agriculture exchange student. Bringing in the cattle was Franz's job every morning. One morning, a great thunderstorm came just at the time for bringing in the cattle for the morning milking. I'm not sure whether Franz had even seen a thunderstorm before since storms in the midwest are not the same as those in Germany.

My father rose to the sound of thunder and went to tell Franz that he should wait to bring in the cattle. But it was already too late. Franz had gone out into the storm to bring in the cattle. My father drove down in the truck to find him. To my recollection, the winds were blowing the wrong direction and had driven the cattle to the far end of the pasture with their back to the rain! Since Franz is still connected to us, maybe he'll be willing to share "the rest of the story".

Back to my cattle driving story

In Ohio, we had this creek bed that would turn into a bed of mud nearly up to your knees.  Crossing that mud bed can be a real challenge for a short kid like me. I remember many times walking right out of my boots! There I would be standing in the middle of this mud with one leg and a socked foot up in the air. In retrospect, I should have just taken off the boots and socks and walked through barefooted. It could be that I did figure that out after a while because I was always the first one to go barefooted in the spring.

When we moved to Wisconsin, I think this job was awarded to the younger kids. Though we did buy a good cow dog when we arrived.  I do recall having to do the job once though, (sadly with the same grumbly attitude). But Jack and I headed off towards the pasture to bring in the cattle. In a few moments, Jack was nowhere to be seen and I started grumbling about the worthless dog. UNTIL, moments later when the cows met me coming. Jack had run on ahead and brought them in. I only had to treck half way down the pasture. That's when I found a new appreciation for dogs. Up until then I really didn't have much use for him.

Back to my birthday story

I'm sure you can figure out how it all turned out. When I got back to the house, the dining area was all set up for a little birthday party. That can make a person feel really guilty.

It reminds me of a little wisdom found in the Bible

  ...and it comes right after we are told to have the same attitude as Christ.

Do Everything Without Grumbling12 Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, 13 for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.
14 Do everything without grumbling or arguing, 15 so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.”[c] Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky 16 as you hold firmly to the word of life. And then I will be able to boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor in vain.

 I'm pretty sure the Christ would not have complained and grumbled about doing a simple chare little bringing in the cattle. Our selfish attitudes can most times get the best of us especially when we find out later that our "trials" were all for our good. There was something good at the end.

And don't we all know that is true? God has something very good at the end for us. Much better than cake and ice cream. Let's persevere with the attitude of Christ.

P.S. Hey, farm friends, and family. Share your story about bringing in the cows in the comments

Friday, August 11, 2017

Meanwhile, Back on the Farm

There once was a young man from Georgia. 

This Story about places will link=up with the Five Minute Friday crew (2017)

He did not know the Lord, but God had a plan. He met a young girl whom he could not live without. He pursued her until she accepted a date, but she gave one stipulation. If he wanted to be with her on Wednesdays or Sundays, he would be with her at church. He accepted the challenge and it did not take long until he loved the Lord dearly. He married the young girl and soon the Lord called him to be a preacher.

Off they went, far off to Mississippi, to pastor a small church. Over the next few years, they served God in several places. Along the way, they adopted a girl and a boy. Of course, the next month, they learned they were expecting a child .. a boy. They were all happy and served the Lord together. Before long, they moved back to Georgia. They were living in a small town south of Atlanta called Barnesville.

Meanwhile, back on a farm in Wisconsin ...

There once was a girl who lived on a dairy farm.
She loved the animals and working in the soil, but the hours were long and the work caused her to be late everywhere she went. She did not want to stay on the farm.

Her father wanted her to marry a neighbor boy so that the families could consolidate the farms and have a great big farm business together. This did NOT sound like a good idea to the girl.

Other people loved how she sang and played the piano. They said, "You would make a great pastor's wife."

"Oh no", said the young girl, "I don't want to be a pastor's wife."

So she went away to college in Kentucky to get a degree. She got a degree in computer science (which is very funny now because she and machines really don't get along. She always has to have help with her computer.)

One day, while sitting in the chapel balcony. This girl looked across the hundreds of students. She thought, "I wonder if my husband is sitting here in the chapel somewhere."

As clear as a bell, she heard the Lord speak to her, "You will marry a widowed man with children." "Hmmm..." she thought.

Well, the idea was so crazy that she just tucked it away, but did not tell a soul about it.

After college, she moved to the south (Columbia, SC to be exact) to write computer programs. She enjoyed the work, but what really tugged at her heart was teaching the children at church.

Back in Georgia about this time...

 a sad, sad thing happened. The preacher's family was on their way to school. As they made the left hand turn, their car was struck by a log truck. It was so sad because the mother and daughter could not survive their injuries. The older boy remained in a coma for nearly a month.

The younger boy, who was 8 at the time, had already been dropped to his school. This tragedy made him and his dad very sad. It was so hard to go to school. Every day, he wondered, "Will this be the last time I see my dad?"

Back in Columbia, SC

On Wednesday night, the computer girl went to Bible Study. The pastor shared a prayer request. He shared about a terrible car accident involving the pastor's family in their home church over in Georgia. This girl's heart was saddened. She wondered, how will this family manage without their mother and daughter? She prayed for them diligently.

It wasn't long before the pastor's wife began to talk to the computer girl about going to meet this broken-hearted pastor and his sons. She had the idea that the computer girl would be a good wife for the sad preacher. The girl thought this was a crazy idea. "This pastor must be much older than her", she thought, and it didn't seem like a feasible plot. But after much pressing and urging, the young girl decided to go to Georgia with her pastor's wife ... just to make her stop bothering her about it.

She went to Georgia and sang a special at the church that Sunday. Everyone there knew why the girl was really there. Everyone but the preacher, that is. He didn't have a clue ... until people began to tell him he should call the computer girl.

Well, that was a little scary for the preacher. He had not called a girl in over 15 years. And he didn't think that this young girl would be interested in a preacher with two boys.

But the girl remembered what God had told her years before,

 "You will marry a widowed man with children." 

This eased any fear when the young preacher called her and asked to see her. So she said, "Yes he could come to call on her."

Well, that was in 1989 and the beginning of a great and wonderful romance that continues today. The computer girl was me and the preacher was my husband, Michael Farmer.

We have raised his two boys and another boy and a girl. What a beautiful family God has given us. They have joined in our ministry and made our lives complete.

This Sunday, August 13,1989 is the day we met, over 30 years ago. We celebrate how God used my pastor's wife to bring two people together that would never have met each other any other way.

Here is an interesting side note

The girl who would NOT marry a farmer, and NOT marry a pastor, married Pastor Farmer!

Doesn't God have a sense of humor?

Happy anniversary of the day we met, Michael Farmer.

I love that you are a preacher! 

I love that you are a Farmer.

 I just plain love you!

Monday, July 10, 2017

I Don't Want to Play Anymore

"I Don't Want to Play the Piano Anymore!"

Did you ever watch someone doing what you are trying to learn and it just made you want to give up? That is how I felt whenever we went to family campmeeting every summer.

The Sing-a-long

I don't remember the gal's name, but she could outright play the piano. I recall being in a youth meeting one time where she was there to play the piano for us. We were having a sing-a-long. People were shouting out choruses and we would sing them.

Two girls suggested a song but the pianist had never heard the song before. So the girls got up from the chairs and began to sing the song acapella.

The girls didn't even get through the first verse before the pianist was picking out the notes on the piano. By the end of the second time through, she was playing the song like she knew it all her life.

Playing by Ear

She played by ear. I talent I have never had. I truly do wish I could do it. I have picked a tune out in my living room but I have never played a song in public by ear. I just never had the confidence to try to do it.

As a teenager, I would tell mom how amazing this lady was. Then I would say, it just makes me want to quit playing the piano.

Thankfully, my mother would not let me do that. I kept taking lessons and practicing every day. I would sit at the piano for hours playing through entire books of music. My siblings got pretty tired of hearing me play.

But it was worth it. 

Now, I can play just about anything you put in front of me.

It's been a great blessing to our ministry. 'Cause pretty much every church wants to know if the preacher's wife can play the piano.

Plus, I've been able to teach a few kids to play the piano along the way.

I still wish I could play by ear though.

This post was inspired by the gals at Five Minute Friday. Where we are given a prompt and asked to write fo 5 minutes with no editing. This was my attempt to write on the prompt: 

So, do you play an instrument? Were you ever tempted to quit playing? Let me know in the comments below.

Friday, June 30, 2017

Lessons on the Back of a Bike

I must have been in the first grade because it was the only year that my
brother, Doug, and I rode the same bus. And I must not have yet known how to ride a bike because I rode on the back of Doug's bicycle. In those days, bikes could have a flat metal piece over the rear wheel. I image it was for carrying things. We used it to carry an extra person.

Anyway, our home was situated in the middle of our farm giving us a lane about 1/4 mile long. Though it sure seemed longer than that in my memories. The point being, we rode our bikes to the end of the lane to catch the bus each morning. In the first grade, I rode on the back of Doug's bike.

On this particular day we headed off to catch the school bus, but my shoe was loose and began to fall off. So I placed my foot on the chain guard to push the shoe back on.  I'm not sure what happened next. I only know that in a moment, my shoe flew off, my sock flew off and my tiny foot found it's way into the spokes of the bicycle.

Meanwhile, Doug was pedaling feverishly as we were headed up the hill portion of the lane. He thought it was tougher because of the hill but, indeed, it was my foot causing the hold-up.

Fortunately, there was no broken bones, just some pain. The rest of the day is a blur. I don't know if or how any of us got to school. I do know that the inside of my ankle has a scar that looks much like a smallpox vaccination {ha!} and I have had a weak ankle all of my life.

But we learned a few good lessons. 

  1. Keep your feet out away from the wheels and spokes. 
  2. Tell the driver if you have a problem.
As we grew, Doug graduated from riding bicycles to riding motorcycles. Usually, getting a "ride' meant going around the drive. But there were a few other times I hitched a ride with Doug to a venue.

Now, I have never had a great sense of balance or equilibrium but I had to learn a lesson or two about riding a motorcycle too. You may have been on a motorcycle yourself, or maybe you have watched Motorcross racing on TV. If so, you realize that the motorcycle must lean into the curves. As it goes around the curve, it may seem that it is on its side nearly parallel to the ground.

My sense of equilibrium never really liked leaning into the curve. I was more apt to want to lean the opposite direction and make the bike stand up. However, resisting the lean only causes trouble. You will soon find yourself and the bike and the driver all flying in different directions.

It's much like this in our spiritual lives. Let's equate the bike with our lives and God as our driver. As the driver, he can see the bigger picture. As we ride along in the back, we are only seeing glimpses of what is ahead. 

Here are a few things we must do as we ride on the "cycle" of life:

  1. Trust the driver (God). He sees what is coming up the road.
  2. Talk to the driver. Tell him if you have a problem. He can solve it.
  3. Lean into the curves. Don't resist. God knows what He is doing and He will get you through.

Trust with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.
Proverbs 3:5-6 

Friday, April 21, 2017

Mishaps in the Farm Kitchen

This post is inspired by a prompt at Mama's Losin' It,
 "Mistakes in the Kitchen".

Oh, those yummy biscuits!

photo credit Pixabay
I pulled out of the oven the most delectable biscuits I had ever made. They were browned to perfection.  I couldn't wait to serve them with supper. I had made biscuits a few times before, though we were a canned biscuit family for the most part.

But on this particular day, I made from scratch these lovely baking soda powder biscuits. They looked delicious, but that turned out to be as far as it went.

We all gathered for supper. 

Hungry, I am sure since we are talking about farm folks here. So after a short blessing, we all filled our plates and began to eat.

I'm not sure who was the first to bite into a biscuit, but what a surprise! A bitter aftertaste that sucked your lips in, leaving you wondering if there might be a lemon in your biscuit.

No. Not lemons, but how about BAKING SODA.

Yes. Unfortunately, I had used BAKING SODA instead of BAKING POWDER. It really makes quite a difference.

Now I was the baker in the family and THIS was out of character for me. It will definitely go down as an unforgettable event in our family.

In My Defense

I'm not the only one who had a mishap in the kitchen.

Photo credit: Pillsbury
I recall my younger brother and sister made Easy Cheesy Lemon Bars. These never made it to the table due to the dough tasting ritual in our family. (not to name names, Alex and Marcy)

Yes, it wasn't long into the process until they realized that they had put 1/2 CUP of salt into the mixture instead of 1/2 TEASPOON!

Mom did the math to see how many times we would need to double the recipe. It was such a large number. I think we would still be eating lemon bars today!

That dough went into the trash!

Moral of the story
God gives us the recipe for a godly life, if we don't follow the recipe to the letter, we may end up with a bad taste in our mouth. Follow God's law and you will "Taste and see that the Lord is good!" Psalm 34:8

What about you?
Any kitchen mishaps on your part?

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Another Lesson from the Farm

This post is inspired by a prompt in the journal, "Reflections of a Mother's Heart". The Prompt: Did you ever have a special hideaway?"
 Each year, the challenge was different.

Once the hay was all in the barns, each of us would take the challenge. Somewhere in the huge stack of fresh hay bales was a tunnel. Not just a straight tunnel through the hay, but one that took various turns. Left. Right. Up. Down. Once, I remember a rather large opening in the middle.

It was a specialty of my brother Doug. He stacked the hay and created the tunnels. Not sure what got him started doing it. Maybe just for a challenge to change up the doldrums of stacking bale after bale in order. Or maybe the loft was just that much too large. All I know is that we enjoyed finding our way through.

Speaking of stacking bale after bale

I'm reminded that Doug took a lot of pride in stacking the most square and orderly wagon of hay. Back in the day, hay was not rolled up in a huge ball and left in the fields. It was baled into a rectangle. Some farms had a bale thrower which baled the hay and then threw the bales into a wagon. 

But on our farm
Wagon built by Dad & brother
maybe others

The bales were carefully stacked on the wagon usually by Doug. I laugh thinking about the times we hired some high school boy to come out and stack the hay. Those wagon loads were a sight to see. And many times, they didn't make it back to the barn before the hay was falling in every direction on the road.

Anyway, Doug took real pride in having an orderly load of hay, stacked nice and tight. They only thing that kept this from happening was ... uh, the driver which was usually Kandy or me. :(

Picture This

Doug takes the bale from the baler, carries it to the already stacked hay, and lifts the bale above his head to toss it up on the top row. About this time, there is a large clump of hay being baled, the driver realizes she must slow down or the baler will shear a pin due to too much hay at one time. So she puts her foot on the break. This causes a chain reaction. You know, 

"Every action has an equal and opposite reaction."

Since Doug is focused completely on tossing the bale up and back, he has no idea that the train of equipment is stopping.... uh, maybe somewhat abruptly. I think you know the result.

Usually, he wasn't all that happy with me,  I mean, whoever was driving. But the result was really six to one, half a dozen to the other. Because he didn't get happy over a sheared pin either.
And either probably resulted in extra work.

But regardless, we got the job done. 

And most of the time we drove into the barnyard with a beautifully stacked wagon of hay. 

I'm not sure who or how Doug was trained, but there was certainly an example set before him. It may have been Uncle George. Here is a picture of him and my big sister climbing one of those lovely wagons of hay. 

Climbing the Hay Wagon
Climbing the Hay Wagon
Doug and Kandy 1962

Lesson Learned

1 Corinthians 14:40(NLT)  be sure that everything is done properly and in order.

Whatever you do should be done properly. If you do it well the first time, you don't have to go back a correct the problem. If hay is stacked haphazardly, it usually will fall causing a huge clean-up job and lost time.

1 Corinthians 10:31 (NLT) whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.

Take pride in what you do. Wether you enjoy doing it or not. Whatever work you are doing, do it as if you are working for the Lord.

Just another lesson from being "Raised in a Barn"

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Farm Trucks, Close Calls and Prayers

I have been working on a series of devotionals and was reminded of an incident from the farm that went along with a point I was making. I couldn't remember all the details, though. Since the incident involved my sister, Kandy, I asked her to fill in the gaps for me. She did that and more, thanking me for bringing back to mind such a traumatic moment in her life! :)

I Can't miss the opportunity to share with you what she shared with me!

Photo by Wisconsin Historical Society

not our truck, but it may have looked kinda like this

Undesired Chores

Dad had an arrangement with the cheese factory where we sent out milk to haul whey for the cattle. It was fed as a nutrition supplement. He had acquired an old milk truck with a tank in order to pick it up. It was my unfortunate duty to occasionally go pick up the whey. There were actually 2 instances where I was clearly protected by God from disaster.

In order to funnel the whey into the truck, I had to pull alongside the building where the large whey tank was located. The driveway sloped down to the end of the building where there was a cross-street, then a short grassy bank into a small river.

Traumatic Instance #1

I always set the parking brake, of course. But on this day, after I was done loading and back in the truck with the motor running, I noticed that the spigot from the tank was dripping. So I hopped out to turn the faucet tighter.

Oh, I neglected to mention that my little brother, LeAdam, had come along for the ride.

From the corner of my eye, I noticed the truck moving. As I turned back toward the truck, I took several steps, jumped up on the running board, and slammed my foot on the brake. I stopped mere inches from the river bank.

All I could see in front of me was water. 

I shifted carefully into reverse and quickly backed up the slope. LeAdam sat there with his eyes wide open!

I also narrowly missed a school bus that had just passed - the driver stopped to see if I was ok.


Traumatic Instance #2

Another time while driving home from picking up whey, I came upon a railroad crossing in town where there were no crossing bars or flashing lights. 

I must have been daydreaming because all of a sudden I heard a loud sound, and realized a train was coming. If I hadn't stopped, I would not have made it across the tracks.

So there it is. The sordid tale.

Thanks for bringing up that terrifying moment! Ha!

-Gettin' Back to my Roots

Anytime, Sis! You can always count on a sister to remind of times you would rather forget!

The point of dredging up this scary moment in time is to talk about the prayerfulness of our mother. If there was ever a prayer warrior, it would be her. The day of the second story mentioned above, Mom had a premonition while washing the dishes. A concern for Kandy.

Immediately, she stopped what she was doing and began to pray. It was quite a shock to hear Kandy's story when she arrived home.

The Moral of this story:
When prompted to pray,
stop immediately and pray!

If you are interested in my devotionals, you can receive one once a week by e-mail. Just click on the purple box along the right side of this blog, "Oh Lord, How Long?"

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Recipes: Surprise Cupcakes

Surprise Cup Cakes

Being raised on a farm comes with many advantages, one of these was learning to cook and bake. I learned to bake early in life so when I entered junior high and ended up being required to take Home Ec twice, I wasn't that happy about it.

One thing I did take home from that class was a recipe from my best friend, Martha. One day in class, she demonstrated making surprise cupcakes which have been a favorite at home on the farm, at college, and with my own children.

These cupcakes were quite popular with my friends in the dorm and I made them often. Several friends wanted the recipe, I refused to share it until graduation day. And true to my promise, I wrote out the recipe and passed them out to all my friends on graduation day.

Thanks, Martha, for some great fun and tradition down through the years!

And here it is ... Surprise Cupcakes.

1 package of Chocolate cake mix
8 oz cream cheese
1/3c. sugar
1 egg
dash of salt
1 c. chocolate chips  (or peanut butter chips)

  1. Mix chocolate cake as directed less 1 TBS of liquid.
  2. In a separate bowl, mix cream cheese, sugar, egg, and salt
  3. Add chips.
  4. Fill baking cups to no more than 2/3 full.
  5. Using a teaspoon, add cheese filling to the center of the cupcake taking care to not allow filling to touch the sides.
  6. The cake batter will rise up around the filling so there is no need to add cake mix on top.
  7. Bake using the directions from the cake mix.
  8. Frost with cream cheese frosting.

Note: I have also used my grandmother's chocolate cake recipe instead of a boxed cake mix.


Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Grandma Easterday's Devil's Food Cake

Zoa Easterday, 1890Carrol Co., Ohio

Devil's Food Cake

Mix together and set aside.

1/2 c. Cocoa or 4oz bakers chocolate2 tsp baking soda1/2 c. boiling water

In a separate bowl, mix in order

3/4 c. sour milk
1 1/2 c. sugar
2 eggs
3/4 c. minus 1 T. shortening to grease pan.
1 Tbs vanilla extract
pinch of salt
Chocolate mixture (above)

Grease & flour 9x13 pan.

Pour batter into pan 

Bake at 350 degrees 

for 35-45 minutes or until inserted toothpick comes out clean.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Play is the Work of Childhood

Play is often talked about as if it were a relief from serious learning. But for children play is serious learning. 
Play is really the work of childhood.
- Fred Rogers

There were 6 of us children ranging across 16 years when I was growing up on the farm. My brother, LeAdam is the youngest. I was nearly 12 when he was born. In a lot of ways, I watched him grow up rather than growing up with him.

My sister and I were in junior high and high school when Le was playing hard in the backyard. He had his trucks and tractors and spent many hours "bringing in the crops". This was a common event because he just followed suit for what dad and the older siblings did so often.

I didn't really think much about what children play until one day when Kandy came home with a funny story. She had a friend that lived in town. This friend also happened to have a small brother. On this particular day, Kandy was in town and saw little Danny playing in the dirt. She asked him, "What are you doing today?"

Expecting something like "Baling hay!" she was a little surprised to hear him say matter-of-factly, " .. putting in sewer lines." It had never really crossed our minds that a town kid would play differently than the farm kid. It's the whole "Like Father, Like son" idiom.

Now I wasn't one to play with trucks and tractors, I was more of a mommy type. I can remember dressing the cat and pushing it around in my baby buggy. I'm not sure why the cat put up with that!

I loved the animals too. Especially the young stock. We had a small fenced-in pasture for the calves just off the backyard. There was a fallen tree that created for us a small cove that we used as a show ring.

Our family participated in several cattle shows every summer. We selected the best two or three cows, cleaned them up, trained them to be on a halter, and took them to shows. Alex and I, along with our friends, would have our own little cattle shows back in the cove. We spruced up the calves and paraded them around in a circle while one of us did the judging.

Mr. Fred Rogers was evidently right. Our play was a serious learning time. We all ended up doing well at the county fair and other cattle shows around the state. I even won a 4-H cattle judging competition once!

This post was  inspired by a writing prompt in "Reflections from a Mother's Heart". The prompt was "What was your favorite pastime as a child? Did you prefer to do it alone or with someone else."

Photos from Columbia County Fair in Portage, WI 1976

Doug & Kandy

Alex ~ 1st in showmanship
Me with my cow, Marietta

What was your favorite pastime growing up?