Friday, April 29, 2011

Questions for You

Having recently finished doing a Q&A series I now have a few questions to ask you.

  1. What is the big deal about the royal wedding? It seems every where I turn people are swooning and giddy. Am I missing out on something or why doesn't it interest me in the least?
  2. Do you think interest in the Amish culture will peak and start waning any time soon? Why?
  3. I am looking for some simple yet tasty recipes to use for our main course in the evening. Could you share some of your favorites?
  4. When you have people over to your house and their children are beyond rowdy, do you grin and bear it and vow to wait to invite them again until they're grown, or do you try to distract them with something else to do? What is the proper way to handle situations like this?
 I'll stop with these four questions today and let you answer those before I ask some more sometime. Maybe next week or maybe not until next year.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

My Forenoon

Pant, pant, puff, puff. Wow! I got way more than I bargained for this forenoon and it sucessfully wiped the blog post I had started out of the window.

I was sitting here typing, listening to the roar of the waterfall. The creek is extra swollen this morning from all the rain we got last night. Glancing out the window I happened to see a cow give birth to a calf right in the middle of the creek. I frantically tried getting hold of the owners to come take care of things but no one was answering their phones which left, guess who, to go wade through the mud and the muck and rescue the poor little thing before it drowned.

It is now safely on the bank with it's mother who is now being all motherly, and I feel like propping my feet up on the recliner and enjoying a tall glass of lemonade.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Our Little Corner

Things have been busy in our little corner of the world. But I have still managed to take a few pictures this past week.
The spring flowers are blooming nicely under the old maple tree in front of our house. I wish there was a way to make that you could smell them.

 A beautiful forenoon had a lot of people passing our house to get to the nearby hiking trail.
 The children got up extra early and went outside to pick a bouquet of flowers for my birthday. I love, love simple gifts like that!
 We have been having lots of rain this month. I like how steam rises from the fields after  another rain has passed.
It's that time of year when a lot of new calves make their appearances. One of their favorite spots to hang out is near the waterfall.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Our Growing Family

Looking at the little baby in my arms I marveled at the fact that I actually had a daughter. So tiny and helpless and ours to love and care for. LV looked as proud and thrilled as he had when Sailor had been born. We prepared to go home and I couldn't wait to tell Mom that she had a grandaughter.

After I was settled in bed at home LV went to my parents to bring Sailor home and share our happy news. Mom came home with them and worked around the kitchen until our hired girl arrived several hours later. I wasn't disappointed at her excitement of having a grandaughter.

Sailor admired the baby but was much more impressed with her pacifier than anything else. I realized he must not have forgotten how much he used to like his own pacifier before I had weaned him from it.

Not long after my six weeks of of relaxing and enjoying our new baby was up LV had to go help someone with their hay. my day was going well, I had put Sailor down for a nap in his toddler bed and was taking care of the baby. After she was asleep I placed her in her crib and went to get some other things done. I peeped in Sailors bed on my way to the kitchen and was horrified to find it empty.

I looked through the house but there was no sign of him anywhere. I noticed the back door was slightly ajar and my heart sank. I ran outside calling his name. I looked for him in the barn, in our machine shed, and remembered how he loves playing with ears of corn so I checked the corn crib but there was no sign of a little boy anywhere.

I ran the half mile to where our mailbox was thinking he may have wanted to go fetch the mail. He always enjoyed going with me. I couldn't think of anywhere else to look except all our fields and the woods and felt helpless at how I was supposed to find him by myself, especially with a baby that would wake up and need me any minute.

I ran to our phone shanty and left a message on my parents voice mail and then called one of our local taxi drivers and told him to go over and tell them to check their phone. I checked the baby and then kept searching and calling for Sailor. My brothers were there to help before long and we continued looking.

I went into our hayloft and called again and then happened to spot the corner of Sailors favorite blue blanket on top of a stack of hay. I climbed up and found him curled up, sleeping, with the baby's pacifier in his mouth. I was so relieved to have found him safe and sound, and a little amazed how at two his conscience had already made him seek a hiding place to enjoy a forbidden object.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Winter Evening Chores

Our barn used to be a semi cozy place during the winter. Chilly for me but comfortable for our animals. LV used to make sure the barn never got too warm, a cool 40ยบ was the healthiest temperature for the animals. I never got tired of the sounds that greeted me when ever I stepped inside. The cuds being chewed, hay munched, and the little water bowls next to each cow being used. Our dog always came running to meet me and a few cats walked unconcernedly around my feet in hopes of getting a handful or two of cat food. The heifers and calves moved around their pens at will and clanked at the stanchion openings where we scooped their silage, grain, and hay into the feed bunk in front of them.

In the back of the barn our horses stood munching their hay and the chickens added their own happy sounds. I used to push Sailor's stroller to a spot where he could watch us and then went to gather the eggs while LV fed each cow her correct rations. As he was finishing up I assembled the milking equipment and made sure our lantern was filled with kerosene and ready to go as soon as it started getting dark.

Not long after we started milking it would be time to pump air into the lantern, fill the little bowl next to the generator with Paco and light it to heat the generator in order to be able to light the lantern. Once it was hot enough the lantern was turned on and brought into the barn where it was hung on a hook hanging from a beam near the middle of the barn. We had an air hose with a special attachment at the end that we fastened to the lantern to keep the air pressure consistent and the lantern burning as brightly as possible. It added it's noisy hissing to the rest of the sounds of chore time.

Once the milking was done I had to wash up all the equipment and get it ready for the next morning while LV cleaned the gutters. We both bedded the cows, and once a week took time to curry and brush all the cows. Before we went to the house we opened the door to a large pen in the back of the barn and unsnapped the chain from our buggy horse's halter. He would walk into the pen where he would spend the night on a thick comfortable bed of straw.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Answering Questions ~ Part Six

Do Amish churches have denominations ?

I believe this question was answered here.

Which version of the Bible do they read?
Their German Bible is the Martin Luther version. They use the King James Version when they use English.

Hi there! I was just wondering if you folks had indoor plumbing. I believe that my Amish neighbors in Crawford County, PA do not...but I know lots of others do. Also, did you folks have windshields or rear-view mirrors in your buggies? Were BBQ grills permitted?

Yes, we had indoor plumbing.  "Windshields" in buggies are called storm fronts and yes we had those as well as mirrors on our buggies.

BBQ grills were okay in our community as long as they used charcoal.

I would like to know, the secret to growing celery. My celery growing attempts in the garden have not been too successful. Our family still serves it at weddings, something his grandparents and parents did, and it has just stayed in the family.

Sorry, I can't help you on this one. Our family wasn't very fond of celery and therefore didn't raise it.

Also, how do the Amish keep their stock tanks and chicken waters from freezing in the winter, without the aid of heatlamps and water heaters??? We farm, and loose power every winter and struggle over this one. We can keep the house warm, cook with wood, heat with wood, but can't seem to figure out how to keep the horses, live stock and chickens in water.

If stock tanks and chicken waterers are kept in freezing conditions there is no way to prevent the water from freezing. It takes a lot of ice chopping during the winter unless your barn is kept above freezing.  (All part of the simple life.)

Did you have a time of "rumspringa?" And if so, what did you do?

Personally I don't like the phrase rumspringa since the public latched onto it and distorted the whole meaning. Yes, I had a time of rumspringa. We had Sunday evening hymn singings.  Rumspringa is not a time to decide whether or not to be Amish and it does not end when you become a member of the church. It ends once you get married or decide to remain single for the rest of your life.

You have said that 2 of your brothers have left the Amish, as well as yourself. How many siblings do you have? How about your Husband's family. Have any of them left?

I have five brothers. My husband has three brothers and one sister. His sister and one of his brothers have left the Amish as well.

I hope I am not late in asking....Do Amish have set days for chores like laundry etc and what is the schedule? Or is it different in each community?

There are no rules about when you do certain things. Schedules are made by each family to suit their specific needs and life.

What kind of stove did ur parents have when u were growing up, a gas or a kerosene?

We had a Pioneer Maid wood stove and also several kerosene stoves to use during the summer.

Also did u have a gas or kerosene fridge?

Neither. Our refrigerator was a chest freezer that we converted to a refrigerator by putting a large specially made stainless steel pan in the bottom with coils of  freon filled copper pipe along the sides. We filled it with water and then had an engine run an ice compressor which made lots of ice and kept everything nice and cold. We had built shelves into the freezer but used to set our milk into the icy water which kept it delightfully cold. We also floated bowls of food on the water if we needed something to chill quickly.

The worst part of this type of refrigerator was siphoning the water out every month and cleaning it.

Others in the community had a regular refrigerator with their stainless steel pan in the top freezer compartment. Those never kept the food as cold though.
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This concludes the Q&A series. Back to regular posting next week. Hope you all have a very nice Easter!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Answering Questions ~ Part Five

Thank you for taking our questions, Mary Ann.

Mine has to do with your earlier post about the "trustee" who came to your house and made your business his... it sounds like you were expected to tithe? To me that sounds like a worldly idea. Was this an expectation in your church?
In our church district, we were expected to give something during each communion service, but there never was any pressure about how much that should be.

No, we were not expected to tithe. Our church as well as all the other Amish I'm familiar with did not believe in tithing. They think tithing is a worldly practise.
 
The Somerset County Amish also didn't believe in having auctions, bake sales, or anything along that line for raising money for school and church expenses. Their reason behind it was they didn't want the public to support their schools or church.
 
They still needed to get the money somewhere so they taxed all the married people. I don't know how their system worked or what percentage we paid because our bill was a grand total of $8.67 per year. (Teacher's in Somerset get $11.25 per day so we didn't even pay for a day of school.) We would have been happy to pay a hundred or more if it would have saved us from going through the deal of having to answer all their questions.
 
We also gave alms at communion but those funds were hardly ever touched.  Hospital bills were helped by asking for freewill donations.
 
I also have wondered if you've ever read Beverly Lewis' books and how you feel about that. Truly, a lot of the things you described from your growing up years, courtship and wedding reminded me of things I've read in Beverly Lewis' books. If you have never read them, will you promise not to judge her books by the movies that are only based on her books?

Yes, I have read some Beverly Lewis books. She is a talented author who writes great fiction.  There are bits and pieces in every book that I have to smile at because it's not Amish, but since it doesn't hurt the story, it's not too hard to shrug it off and enjoy the plot.
 
I've heard rumors about these two things and wonder what the true answers are.

Do Amish people wear deodorant?
And do Amish women wear bras?

Speaking from personal experience the answer is yes to both questions.

I would love to know more about you as a person:

If you were stranded alone on a deserted island, and you could only bring 5 things, what would they be? (No people. Ha Ha!)
What is your favorite tool or kitchen gadget?
What is your most favorite meal? (including beverage, main dish, and dessert)
What is your favorite song?

If I were stranded on a deserted island alone I would like to have my Bible, a blanket, fire, a huge supply of bottled water, and if I could really choose anything I'd go ahead and bring a house too.

My favorite kitchen tool or gadget...... I really like my cast iron pans and my blender.

My favorite meal would have to be fried cheesy potatoes, fried chicken, seven layer salad, and sweet corn for main course. Cold, sweet, fresh water from our well. (When Sunbeam first tasted it after we moved last year she sat around sipping water all day saying it tastes like chocolate milk. It doesn't taste like chocolate but it is sweet.) Dessert would be my mother-in-laws cherry pie. She makes the best!

My favorite song keeps changing. Right now this is one of my favorites.



Hi, thanks for the opportunity to ask a question. I'm wondering ...what is one thing (if anything) that you miss the most about the lifestyle you left behind? Thank you.

God bless. :)
Every once in a while I think it would be nice to have a ride with our horse and buggy again.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Answering Questions ~ Part Four

How has all this change affected your children?

They were still young enough, that it didn't really affect them.

I have a question about preserving foods, which Amish folk would obviously be adept at doing. Would you mind giving a brief description of your method of making sauerkraut? (I am growing cabbages for the first time this year, and there are about thirty of them in the garden.)I have the Ball Blue Book, but I would like to learn how Amish folk put up kraut. Thanks so much!

Actually I have never even tasted sauerkraut. We used to raise a lot of cabbage and always made sure to plant plenty of the late variety, Danish Ballhead. We would leave them in the garden until just before the first hard frost when we would remove them by pulling them out leaving the roots attached. We would place them upside down in a cool dark spot in our basement and then got to enjoy fresh cabbage for quite a while in the winter.
 
We never made sauerkraut so I'm sorry that I can't help you on this one.
 
Do you still wear aprons or head covering?
I no longer wear Amish headcoverings or aprons.

Do you bless the food silent with the head of the table clears his throat?Or do you all bless the food?
 
We no longer have a silent blessing. At breakfast and dinner my husband asks the blessing. And at lunch when he is at work either one of the children or I do.
 
I am wondering if the Amish have mirrors, because they do not like their photos taken for vanity reasons, so wondering if they look in the mirror to see how they look?

The Amish don't pose for pictures because of one of the ten commandments where it says not to have any graven images.

They do use mirrors, and know how they look.

Now that you have left Amish how does that leave you standing with a legal binding wedding? or how does that work ? Does it still get recorded through the State? or would one have to remarry again..

We have a legal binding marriage. Amish get a marriage license just like anyone else does. You can read about the day we went to get ours here.

I read lots of Amish stories by Beverly Lewis as well and was wondering if you could explain courtship/dating? Most of the stories I have read say that dating takes place under the cover of night and nobody knows until the couple decides to publish that they will be getting married.

Our dates were at night, but the fact that we were courting was not a secret. People usually sense when a wedding will be happening soon but other than close friends and relatives they don't know the exact date until it is announced in church.
 
The thing I seem to miss most in our modern church life is a sense of community and commitment. Do you find that's true? Obviously you miss the family and friends that you can no longer fellowship with, but have you found a close community of Christian brothers to replace the one you lost?
 
We have made many new friends since we left the Amish and are not lacking in the area of having a lot of people around us.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Answering Questions ~ Part Three

If you were ever to decide to rejoin the Amish, would you be welcome to do so?

Yes, we would be welcomed back. We would have to go through a period of proving time which lasts anywhere from six months to a year afterwards if they thought we showed proper repentance we would be accepted back as members in the church.

How did it feel to have to start paying taxes after leaving the Amish?

Amish pay taxes. They are exempt from paying into Social Security because they sign a form promising they will never collect from it or any other form of  insurance. Most Amish don't even accept refund checks.

Do all Amish burp to show their appreciation for a good meal?

No, they don't.  I'm guessing you saw the movie "Saving Sara Cain" where there was burping. I shared my thoughts about it here.  I have never been in any Amish community where that was practised, nor have I ever heard of any community where they do that.

What food, other than the usual celery is served at Amish weddings?

The only Amish weddings that serve celery are Lancaster and it's daughter settlements. The wedding menu is usually chosen by the brides parents and varies slightly from family to family.

At our wedding we had creamed potatoes, gravy, fried chicken, meatloaf, roasht, sweetcorn, seven layer salad, and bread, butter, special wedding peanut butter, and a special wedding jam. For dessert we had fruit, several kinds of cake, two kinds of pudding, and four kinds of pie. The bridal party had all of that plus our favorite foods.

How old do you have to be before you are allowed to drive a horse and buggy?

There is no set age when you can start driving a horse. It again varies a lot from family to family plus on the ability of each child. I was twelve when I drove our horse the first time, with Mom or Daddy sitting right next to me. I was fifteen at the time I started driving by myself.

Do you still sew your own clothes?

I don't sew very many clothes any longer. Rosebud has her eye on a piece of fabric that she is hoping I turn into a dress for her, so that will probably be my next sewing project.

What was the hardest thing about leaving the Amish?

The hardest part of leaving the Amish was knowing how deeply it would hurt my parents, and that our relationship would suffer because of it.

Mine is a simple question. I realise tradition is a huge part of Amish life. But I cannot understand the shunning of one who has left the order.

Do you see your parents or family at all?

When someone leaves the Amish they think they are heading down the wrong path and to serve as a warning to the members of the church and hoping that by doing this it will make those that have left reconsider their ways. They have a members meeting after church services where they excommunicate them by practising 1 Corinthians 5:5 To deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.  The thought of being handed over to Satan is terrifying especially since we used to believe that if a person died before they were accepted back into the church there was no hope for them.

Any person that is excommunicated is shunned 1 Corinthians 5:11. We can still go see my parents, though they are happy to see us there is kind of a cloud of sorrow there as well. When my Grandma passed away we stayed at my parents house overnight. They gave us a bed, plenty of food, we visited, but we couldn't sit at the same table to eat, and we weren't allowed to help them work. They won't accept gifts from us, but birthdays and Christmas always brings packages in the mail from them.  Our relationship has changed. We don't call and talk with each other every week like we used to, they don't come to visit us, but there is no doubt in my mind that they still love us.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Answering Questions ~ Part Two

Do you or your daughters ever wear pants or shorts?

No, we don't.  We wear skirts and blouses, and dresses.
 
What colors do Amish women wear?

It varies from community to community. In the one where I grew up colors worn by women were all dark but in the shades of  blue, green, teal, purple, red, brown, black, and grey.
 
I never had a red dress though since my parents didn't think it was an appropriate color, especially since we had a store and dealt with the public on a regular basis. I can understand their reason.
 
Do men have more options for colors than women?

In the community where I grew up there were no colors or shades of colors off limits for men's shirts. With five brothers our clothes line used to look quite colorful every Monday morning.

What books other than the Bible do the Amish read?

This depends a lot on individual families and what their preferences are.  My parents were quite careful with what kind of reading material made it's way into our house, while my husbands family was much more lenient.  We had a lot of books written by the Amish as well as the Little House books, Anne of Green Gables series, Elsie Dinsmore series, and anything from Rod and Staff and Christian Light Publishing.  My husbands family had books by Lewis B. Miller, Louis L'Amour, Grace Livingston Hill, lots of mystery, as well as Christian romance.  I was in book bliss after we got married and I was introduced to a lot of new genres and authors.

Have you added a lot of new books to your home library since leaving the Amish?

We have added some books, but not nearly as many as we used to buy while we were Amish. As a matter of fact we got rid of a lot of books after we left the Amish.

Do you ever miss the more simple life?

Every once in a while. Mostly just when the power goes off and I think of the days when I never had to worry about having my life interrupted like that.

How often do the Amish bathe?

This again varies from community to community and family to family.  During the winter we used to have a Saturday evening bath but during the summer we enjoyed a shower at least once a day.


And how did it seem to be able to have a shower after leaving the Amish?

At the time we left we were used to having daily showers year round so that part of our life didn't change when we left.

What do the Amish eat for breakfast? Also lunch and dinner?

This again varies from family to family. Growing up we used to have hearty breakfasts. To start off we had eggs, slightly salty slices of onions and buttered bread. We would cut it up, mix it together and enjoy it. (It's still delicious!) Next we had fried cornmeal mush with tomato gravy, followed by oatmeal with some kind of pie or cake and a cup of hot unsweetened tea.  Oatmeal had a huge gag factor for me so I always passed on it and sipped my tea while the others ate.
 
For lunch during the school year we had soup, bread, some kind of pickles or red beets, and fruit.  During the summer we used to have potatoes and gravy, meat, vegetables, and salad.
 
For dinner we had potatoes and gravy, meat, vegetables, and if the garden was in season we added salad. We always had dessert afterwards.
 
Saturday evenings we enjoyed soup with fresh homemade bread, hard boiled eggs, and most of the time peaches.
 
What are some of your favorite foods?
Fried chicken, pasta...... I enjoy almost anything except oatmeal.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Answering Questions ~ Part One

Since leaving the Amish have you made a lot of changes in how you decorate the house?



By looking at how our house is decorated it could still very well pass for one of the plainer Amish homes. There were blinds at the windows when we moved in and so far I still haven't found the curtains I want, and other than calendars and clocks the walls are basically bare.
 
Do you homeschool your children? Will they go to school through high school? How do you feel if they chose higher education, or is that an option?

Our children will have at minimum a high school education and if they want a higher education that is an option.

I guess this is actually two questions, so feel free to only answer one! I read Beverley Lewis' novels of Amish life obsessively, and I was wondering if you're familiar with them and how accurate they are. Because they are my only real exposure to the Amish, I noticed that you use the names Mom and Daddy in your blog; her characters always call their parents Mamm and Dat. Is there a lot of variation from family to family or community to community in what children call their parents?

In the entire Somerset County Amish community there are very few families who call their parents Mamm and Dat. There are variations from family to family and from community to community.  Daddy, Papa, Dad, Dat, Pap, and Pop are all used as well as Mom, Mama, Mamm, and Mem.

A good thing to remember when reading Beverly Lewis books is that they are fiction and there will be things in every book that are not 100% accurate. I don't begrudge anyone the joy of reading those books though.

I read many Amish books both fact and fiction. We have lived our lives plain in comparison to the average person. What are ways that you see that would benefit us that we could learn from the Amish ways.

We want to have more friends and community, more peace and less drama in our lives. Can you list things that you see that some could change and make a better life for themselves. Thank you for helping.

One of the biggest things that we still think add value to life that we were raised and trained in practising is, forgiveness. Being able to forgive people freely whether or not they "deserve" it makes a huge difference in the amount of peace and drama in your life.

I understand that there are a number of different groups of Amish with the majority affiliated with four orders: Swartzengruber, Old Order, Andy Weaver, and New Order Amish. Old Order Amish are the most common and Swartzengruber the most conservative. In which order were you raised, Mary Ann?

There are two orders of Amish. Old and New. In those orders especially the Old Orders there are huge differences among communities from Swartzentruber and Swiss being some of the most conservative, to the way more liberal communites. I don't think I can even begin naming all the different types of churches among the Old Order.

I was raised in Old Order. Specifically, what the Amish refer to as Somersetah.

Have your brothers left the Amish? They come for visits from time to time to see your family, so they must've left. Their clothing doesn't look Amish. Are they also being shunned by your parents?

Two of my brothers have left the Amish, and yes, they are also shunned by my parents.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Wondering

It has been quite a while since I did any question and answer posts. So today I'm giving you a chance to ask me anything you want to and starting on Monday I will begin answering your questions.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Trustees

Each of the church districts in Somerset County has two trustees. They took care of all the donations when ever there was a hospital bill or another need in the community as well as taking care of the church and school expenses.

Every five years they took a month to visit every family to go over all their financial information to decide how much you had to pay in church taxes.  LV and I detested that meeting more than anything else. The bishop used to announce in church when they were planning to make their rounds and encouraged everyone to stay at home so that you would be available when they stopped in.

The head trustee in our district was a short pompous guy with a long scraggly beard. He strutted with an air of utmost importance at the job he had to do being in charge of everyone including the bishop.

The time had arrived that they were making their rounds again and we knew our turn to be interrogated would soon be here. I was only a few weeks away from having our baby and was in no mood to be stuck in the house with those men. LV made plans to take Sailor and me over to spend the day with my parents as soon as they arrived.

According to our plan LV gave me a ride to my parents and then hurried home to get the unpleasant deal with the trustees over. They had brought all their papers in their satchels and proceeded to need to know exactly how much money we had in the bank and in our pocketbook, how much debt we had and what we owned. The list of things they had that needed to be answered was ridiculous, it seemed the only thing they forgot to ask was how many rolls of toilet paper we had on hand.

Once they were done and went back out to the barn to get their horse one of our cats went on a spree, climbing up the legs of the little pompous guy and sitting on his shoulder. He removed it but it immediately turned and ran right back up. He was not impressed and his lofty dignity and importance seemed to crumble as he kept trying to get rid of the cat which was just as determined to not leave.

LV finally got it and held onto it until they left. We never did figure what made the cat act like that since it never climbed onto anyone else.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Thursday Share

Spring is definitely on the way which means violets should be starting to bloom in several weeks. I'm looking forward to that for more than one reason this year. I love violets and when I found the recipe for Violet Syrup on a lovely blog that I like to visit I knew immediately that I want to try making it.

You can find the recipe here.
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Another blog that I enjoy visiting is The Wordsmith. In this post she relates one of her earliest adventures in hairdressing. The sweet gentle way she has of relating her memories from her childhood and life have brought me back to visit often.

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And any time you need a chuckle head over to Nezzy at Cow Patty Surprise where she writes about her life as a farm wife in the Ozarks. This post was one of the first ones I read on her blog. The next post was a satisfying conclusion to this story so you won't want to miss it either.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Sailor's Shreds

The main floorplan in our farmhouse was very open with the livingroom, dining room, and kitchen being in a big L shape. It made it nice that I was able to be working in the kitchen and still be able to keep an eye on Sailor as he played in the livingroom.

He spent hours playing happily with his toy tractor and a few animals everyday. As soon as he had been able to sit by himself those were the toys of his choice.

One day he was playing and I wanted to make a batch of homemade ice-cream. Setting the hand cranked freezer into the sink and a few pails of icy snow on the rug next to me I was ready to start. It was a long tedious task trying to do it by myself but I kept turning the crank and adding more snow around the tub. I had the stick that i usually used to lift laundry out of the hot water of the washing machine to poke and pack the snow harder into the freezer. Pausing a little I realized that Sailor was strangely quiet, no happy tractor sounds were coming from his direction. I looked into the living room and he wasn't in sight. Leaving the ice cream I went to see what was happening.

I couldn't believe my eyes when I found him sitting at the end of the couch with a pair of scissors and his pant legs both cut into hundreds of little pieces on the floor next to him. All that was left of each leg was a little strip hanging down the back that he had been unable to reach. I wasn't very happy about it but had the wildest urge to burst out laughing at the sight.

I changed him and then set him on the sink to watch me until the ice cream was done. I left the pile of  shredded pant legs and the butchered pants on the floor so LV could see them once he came into the house.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

This and That

We drove behind this buggy for a little while on the way to church on Sunday morning. Coming home we noticed women leaving the Amish church house and walking out to the buggies parked in front of the horse barn. It was their Sunday for "ordnungs" church and families were taking turns to go out to sit in their buggies to eat the lunch they had packed that morning. Church would last all day and end with all the members having to remain seated after the children were dismissed, they would then be getting an update on any new rules, offences would be cared for, and plans made to have communion in two weeks. We were so happy to be able to drive past their church house and not have to worry about what new rules would be affecting us.


I love spring flowers. Our yard and flower beds are filled with these poking up through the leaves that had never been raked last fall while we were gone for several months on a business thing. I tried to rake the yard a little yesterday but the ground was still almost too wet, and when a shower popped up I gave up and went to find other things to do. I was glad that I managed to remember to take a picture before they became rain beaten.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Maple Syrup Winner

After reading all your comments I've come to the conclusion there are a lot of tired, happy, hungry, and blessed people reading my blog. With those four being the most popular answers to the question of how you are feeling.

Using Random.org to choose the winner, here are the results.
Number 22

Remembrances said..........
Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious!

Congratulations! Please send me an email with your address and I will get the syrup sent to you.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Giveaway

Maple season is over and local stores are restocking their shelves with a fresh supply of  maple syrup, and today I'm giving away a pint jug of fresh Grade A maple syrup.

If you would like to have a chance to win this leave a one word comment telling me how you're feeling right now.

For a second entry post a link to this giveaway on your blog or Facebook and then come back and leave another comment telling me you did.

Giveaway is now closed. Winner has been chosen and to be announced shortly.

I will be choosing a winner on Monday April 11th using Random Generator.
Disclaimer: I am not being compensated in any way except the warm fuzzy feeling I get from giving this away.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Adjusting

I find myself having to adjust to changing plans quite often and today has been no different. It's drab and gray outside and raining again which is getting rid of the last remnants of snow.

Our power was off this forenoon for some strange reason and I kept wandering through the house like a lost puppy. It seemed everything I wanted to do was not an option. I couldn't take that extra time to do some baking, the laundry had to wait as well as the majority of my house hold chores. Almost everything was impossible except dusting.

LV was at work so the children couldn't have their usual continued mystery story that he tells when ever the power happens to go off in the evening so we didn't have that to keep us occupied.   

And now since half of the day is gone already I have some majar catching up to do. Thankfully the power is back on which makes it so much easier.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Springtime on the Farm

Springtime on our farm was always such a pleasant time of year. The robins and all the songbirds were back and singing all day long. There was a vernal pool at the lower end of one of our pastures which was filled with the usual vernal pool creatures.

After spending all day working in the fields getting them ready to plant LV would spend the evenings checking and repairing all our fences before we would let the cows and heifers back out to graze. I always enjoyed going along to talk and watch while he made the repairs even though I had to carry Sailor most of the time. My favorite spot on the farm was a corner of giant trees at the lower part of our heifer pasture. There was an old dry creek bed running through the middle which was now covered in the most delightfully delicate grass and violets. From a distance it looked as if the entire floor of that patch of woods was purple from the millions of violets that bloomed so sweetly. I always gathered a small bouquet to take back to the house to enjoy. Violets were my favorite springtime flowers, so sweet and pretty, and somehow almost humble.

We always waited until the second week in May to finally let the cows and heifers out to pasture to allow the grass to grow a little more and the ground to become solid, otherwise the grass would have become trampled and a lot of the pasture turned into a muddy mess.

The cows always seemed to know when the day arrived that we were going to turn them out. Right after chores we had to put salve on their udders to keep them from becoming sunburned until they were used to being back outside. It wasn't long before they were all staring longingly out the open barn windows and mooing loudly. It was one of the most musical days of the year. As we walked along the rows of cows to unsnap the chains from the stanchions they turned and walked outside. It was always fun to watch those mature cows forget their age when they got outside the barn and started running and kicking up their heels at the joy of being able to be outside after being in the barn all winter. By evening they would be their normal selves again and only walk with their usual slow steady pace. But for a few hours they were feeling young. 

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Grilling

It was our inbetween Sunday and my brothers had come to spend the day at our house. It was beautiful outside and it wasn't long before they decided that they wanted to ride back to Mount Savage. There was an old faintly marked trail from a long abandoned railroad, a dark tunnel that was starting to crumble in spots, and then the other side where they climbed to the top of the mountain. It was always a long day when they decided to go to the mountain.

While they were gone I decided to try out the funny smoker grill that LV's parents had given to us. I read all the instructions to make sure that I understood everything. I filled the water bowl in the bottom and then filled the firepan with charcoal and lit it.

I had butched a few chickens the day before and after selecting a recipe from the back of the instruction book I started grilling. It was supposed to take a lot longer than a normal grill would but I had plenty of time. I checked and rechecked the meat, turning it every once in a while. It didn't seem to be getting tender yet so I gave it still more time.

By the time LV and the boys came back the chicken was still not tender but instead reduced to tiny bits of hard beyond rubbery pieces that we didn't have any hope of trying to eat.

I had plenty of freshly baked goods in the house and after making a big bowl of popcorn no one seemed to miss the dehydrated chicken.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Lake Erie

LV and I both enjoyed fishing and when we got an invitation to join his brother for a day of fishing on Lake Erie we were happy to accept.  My parents were happy to have Sailor stay with them all day while we were gone.

After spending all day on the lake we returned home with plenty of huge fish. We saved the biggest one for my parents as an extra thank you for making that LV and I got to enjoy a day together.  We had enjoyed it so much that we hoped to make having a fishing trip on Lake Erie an annual thing.

Several months later LV's parents were coming to visit and stay with us for several weeks. His Dad wanted to go fishing after hearing how much we had enjoyed it. His Dad had hired a captain and a big boat and seemed to really want LV to be there. LV didn't think he needed to go and leave me at home with another baby on the way and having all the chores to tend to.

I assured him I would be fine if one of my brothers came to help me with the chores and that I wanted him to go have a good time.

He decided to go, and though fishing wasn't nearly as good as it had been earlier that summer he still enjoyed the trip.  A week later we noticed a small mention of the fishing trip in the Budget from the scribe in his parents community. We didn't think too much about it until the next Sunday all the members had to stay in after church again and the bishop announced that they had seen in the Budget that a young married man had gone on a fishing trip and that no more fishing trips would be tolerated and any offenders would be dealt with accordingly.

We couldn't help but stew about that for a while. Fishing trips had been an accepted thing for as long as we could remember and now since we had started enjoying them they would no longer be allowed. It didn't seem quite fair but there was nothing we could do except accept it.

Monday, April 4, 2011

That Day

It was a beautiful fall day. The sky was a clear blue with hardly a cloud anywhere. I wished everything was as cheerful as the morning appeared to be, but unfortunately I was on my way to the hospital with more complications from being in the family way again.

We had dropped Sailor of at my parents until we got back. As we were driving along we noticed a big plume of smoke ahead of us. LV and the driver commented on it a bit but I was too wrapped up in why we were on the road to begin with to worry about why anyone had decided to light a big bonfire.

Once we got to the hospital we had to wait a long time while everything else seemed to be in utter chaos.  Finally when the doctor was ready to see me she told  us that everyone had been on standby to take care of any survivors from a plane that had crashed nearby. Unfortunately there had been no survivors.

After being told to go home and stay in bed for a while we left. Driving home was a sober, almost fearful feeling as we listened to all the latest news regarding the attacks in New York City and D.C. and that everyone was thinking that Flight 93, that sudden plume of smoke we had seen was connected.

We of-course found out that it was indeed connected and the following days there seemed to be a sense of dread hanging over the entire community. The ministers would warn of bad days to come in their sermons and were sure that young men and boys would soon be called into a draft.  They had their own theories on how they would probably be screened to see if they would be eligible for C.O. status. Basically using this as another handle of control which seemed to work considering all the church confessions that were being made.

Life got back to normal for us before long, but everytime we would pass that field where Flight 93 went down we were reminded that for some people life would never be the same again and all we could do was hope that somehow they could find comfort and healing.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Bits and Pieces

This is what I see when I look outside my window right now. I love how the snow and later the freezing fog clung to every surface it touched. It makes the woods look so much prettier while they wait on being clothed in their pretty spring garb.
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Our small town has been having their annual Maple Festival. I had hoped to be able to attend again this year but it's almost over and the way it looks I'll have to wait until next year.

We did have a chance to get some fresh maple syrup which the family has been enjoying on their pancakes. I don't like maple syrup at all, though I wish I did because it always looks so good and almost everyone I know really likes it.

I blame my aversion to it partly because for several years when I was a little girl it was the only option for sweetner my parents used. Every cookie, cake, and pie tasted like maple syrup. Even canning strawberries, peaches and other fruits maple syrup was used instead of sugar. I can taste the awfullness of it just by thinking about it.

Thankfully that phase lasted for only a few years and I have been maple syrup free since then.
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There is a big fat fly buzzing clumsily around and around the room. I can't remember where I put our fly swatter and I'm having a hard time trying to ignore it. It's amazing how annoying something so small can be.
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I'm celebrating that I have finally caught up on all my email. I appreciate every note I receive from you and apologize to those that had to wait a little longer for a reply.

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I have decided to make that leaving anonymous comments is no longer an option. For everyone that read the one yesterday before I deleted it would you join me in praying that God will bless this person with peace and joy that comes only through Him?