Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Winter School Days

Winter brought lots of snow in Somerset County. It made the walk to school harder, but we didn't mind too much.

The part I didn't like about school was recess. I loved my books and learning new things and if I would have had my choice I would not have ventured outside of the schoolhouse all day. Ever since L.V. had started calling me an elf he and his friends carried on with it when ever they had a chance.

In a way I was very happy to have snow covering everything outside, because there were no grasshoppers and snakes available any longer to be chased by. They could move so much faster in the hand of one of the boys and the only safe place was the girls outhouse.

In another way the snow presented a new problem for me. Behind the schoolhouse there was a very long steep hill with a creek in the bottoms. Almost every recess everyone would run outside and get a feedbag that neighboring farmers had supplied for this purpose and slide down the hill on them. I used to stand at the top of the hill and watch the others go flying down, but the sheer size of the hill terrified me and there was no way I wanted to slide down.

Teacher Hannah was sure I would enjoy it too if I would only try it. I didn't want to disappoint her and she assured me if I didn't like it I wouldn't have to again. She helped me sit on the bag and told me to hold it firmly so it won't get away from me. I sat down and she let go of the bag. The sliding path was worn shiny and slick from the many bags and children that had already been sliding on it for days. The hill was steep enough that as soon as I started off I was flying and my speed only increased the further I went. Halfway down I somehow managed to get my hand between the bag and the snow but the ride was so dizzying fast I had no control of anything. Once I got to the bottom I saw that my mitten was worn through and the back of my hand was bleeding.

It took a long time to climb back up the hill. Once I got to the top Teacher Hannah looked at my hand and took me inside to bandage it. She never asked me to go sliding again and I never did. That was the first and only ride I ever took during all my school years.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

There is a very generous giveaway over at The Mennobrarion. You may want to go check it out and then stay awhile to enjoy her interesting blog.
This is only one of the four groups of things that you could win by commenting on her post.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Random Bits

Why do children enjoy noise? It isn't enough to just pop the bubbles on big bubble wrap. Today I caught them holding it beside their ears to pop them to get the full benefit of the noise.

I could understand it if they would be trying to hold it beside each others ears but to voluntarily hold it beside your own ear?
Does anyone have a recipe how to fix hominy that it actually tastes good?

The past three years Sailor has not talked about much except ships, and being a captain once he is big enough. But recently he has dropped it in favor of building a pioneer village. And now he is excited about all things pioneer.

I bought some hominy and fixed a little bit tonight and since trying to eat it he is rethinking the whole pioneer thing. After tasting it his description was. "It's like trying to eat wet paper towels Mom."

So if anyone could share a recipe to make them more tasty I would greatly appreciate that.
I really, really detest mending. And when an almost new pair of Wranglers come home with a big cut (by a chainsaw) all the way across the leg and getting part of the pocket too it does not create the happiest moments in ones life.

After trying to care for the ugly wound, you focus on the pair of Wranglers and wonder if it wouldn't be easier to just buy a new pair every week or so.

There are all sorts of jobs out there, and when your husband's choice of occupation involves one with a higher than average risk of injury, you just have to stay occupied with nice quiet things and not dwell on the maybe's and what ifs too much.

But every once in a while something happens that reminds you anew of the danger he is in everyday. You try to bandage him up with the best of your ability, take a picture of the injured area and threaten to post it on your blog.

But instead of sharing the gruesome picture you just take an old song and change some of the words.
"Mamas don't let your babies grow up to be loggers!
They work too hard and get lots of scars.

The remaining lyrics to the revised version shall remain a secret.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

The Tractor

John, David, and I loved playing on Daddy's new Leyland tractor. We used to sit on the seat and turn the steering wheel and pretend we were working in fields. The farms we owned and worked on in our imaginations were beautiful.

Daddy didn't mind if we played on the tractor, but we had been warned not to touch the levers or anything except the steering wheel. One day we were once again playing on it. Daddy had it parked in the potato patch on top of the hill. As I was driving through an imaginary field I pressed my foot on the clutch and the tractor rolled forward slowly. I quickly took my foot off and John and I looked at each other. That had been fun. We had not touched any levers and certainly had not started the tractor so we really weren't doing anything wrong we reasoned.

John wanted to know how I did it. So I showed him as I pressed my foot on the clutch again. The tractor rolled forward again. It was exciting to be on a tractor that is actually moving. John wanted a turn too, so I switched places with him and he pressed the clutch in and clung to the steering wheel as we rolled further down the hill. I wanted another turn so we switched again and we rode the tractor down the hill almost to the road.

Once we were there we were presented with a problem. The tractor that had so willingly rolled down the hill for us now sat stubbornly and would not climb back up before Daddy came home and saw what we had done. We were glad for the row of pine trees that had blocked our adventure from Mom's eyes but there was no way we could hide that tractor from Daddy. It would be the first thing he saw as he was coming home from work. Since we couldn't hide the tractor we did the next best thing and hid ourselves. We climbed into the attic of the old house next to ours, but today all the fun antiques didn't even look interesting as we sat in a corner waiting for Daddy to come home.

After what seemed like a long time we heard him drive into the driveway. We peeked out of the window and watched him go into the house. Before long he came out again with the milk pail and called us.

We knew we had to go so we climbed down and went to see what he had to say. He just said it is chore time and we followed him out to the barn. I stood and held the cow's tail as Daddy milked her. I usually enjoyed chore time as John, David, and I would tell Daddy everything that had happened that day, but tonight we couldn't think of anything except that tractor and wondering what our punishment would be for driving it down to the road.

Once the cow was milked and Daddy poured a bowlful of fresh milk for the cats. He set the pail down and looked at us. He asked "Is something bothering you? You have been very quiet tonight." John said. "We drove your tractor today." I quickly added that we didn't start it up though.

Daddy asked how it happened, and we told him all about it. He didn't say much but then warned us to never try something like that again because we could have easily rolled on out onto the road and been hurt.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Thursday Introduction

Recently I was at a grocery store doing my weekly shopping. My cart was filling up fast when I remembered I still need eggs. When I got to the egg section I noticed a lady checking for cracked eggs but I didn't pay much attention to her as I started getting the eggs I needed.

I put several dozen in the cart when she said "Hi, how are you today?" I glanced at her thinking she is probably talking on a cell phone, but I didn't see anything and she was looking at me so I answered. "I'm doing great. How about you?" But that only made her glare at me, as she said "I'm here at the store. Is there anything else you need for tonight?"

It was then that I noticed she was wearing a Bluetooth. I hurriedly finished my shopping and went my way more resolved than ever not to use a Bluetooth. It's not that have anything against anyone who does use one, which includes my husband. But I personally find them to be a nuisance. Which brings to mind a well written hilarious post, "Toothache and Technology" by one of my favorite bloggers, Robynn's Ravings. You can go read it for yourself, I am sure you will enjoy it as much as I did.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

"An Gewachsen"

David was only four months old when one of Daddy's sisters got married and we all went to the wedding. It was cold and the ride to church was especially so since the area where Grandpa Swarey's lived did not have storm fronts in their buggies.

Mom tried to keep David from getting too cold but the wind kept blowing into the buggy and by the time we got to the place where the wedding services were held we were all thoroughly chilled.

After church started David was very cranky and Mom and I went into one of the bedrooms where she tried to get him to be happy again, but nothing seemed to work and he kept crying lustily. Finally an older woman came to see if she could help. With twelve grown children she had lots of experience with children already. She asked Mom what seems to be the matter and she tried to explain how his little belly seems to be very tight. The lady reached for David and felt him and calmly stated that he is "An Gewachsen" Mom agreed that he had all the symptoms of the dreaded ailment that occasionally afflicts Amish babies between the ages of 6 weeks and 8 months usually after a long buggy ride.

The lady said that there is something she could do to help him. I watched in horror as she took a firm hold at his ankles and held him upside down and gave him three hard shakes. Now instead of only crying he started howling and kept on until he was totally worn out and fell into a fitful sleep. From that point on he was a very fussy baby. And no wonder because the treatment he had received gave him a hiatal hernia at that young age.

I grew up with a fear that babies can get the ailment of An Gewachsen. It wasn't till after I had several of my own that I realized that it is only an old wives tale.

The Amish definition of An Gewachsen... a condition in which a young child's intestines grows to the liver after an especially bumpy ride.

In reality it is nothing more than a bad case of gas/ indigestion from swallowing too much air.

Monday, September 21, 2009


Our barn walls had cracks between every board and Daddy wanted to close them up before winter came. He bought a lot of 1 x 4's and started nailing them over the cracks. It made the barn resemble a cherry pie. With its red sides and the narrow white strips that were nailed over the cracks.

Daddy gave us children each a hammer and several nails to help nail the strips to the barn. It took several days to get it done since Daddy only worked on it in the evenings after he got home from work.

Once it was done it was nice and snug inside for our horse Jim, and Jenny the cow.

David was having problems with a hiatal hernia and some one had recommended using goat milk would help him, so Daddy built a pen to keep several milking goats. There was an elderly man in the neighborhood that enjoyed going to livestock auctions, so Daddy asked him to buy several goats for us.

Several days later he drove up with two nannies and a billy. We put the nannies in the pen Daddy had built and tied the billy to a post until Daddy could build a pen for him too. John and I used to run home from school and go to the barn to feed the goats. It was fun letting them nibble grain and bits of hay from our hands.

One afternoon we were once again feeding the goats. I was bending over to gather bits of hay from the floor, when to my dismay the billy bumped into me. I wanted to quickly get out of his way but was horrified to discover that I couldn't because his horns had slid up inside the back of my coat and by now the billy wanted to get away from me as much as I wanted to get away from him. He was bleating loudly, but my cries were even louder as I dangled helplessly from his horns. I couldn't touch the floor with my feet or my hands as he swung his head wildly trying to get rid of the unwelcome burden.

John had run inside to get Mom and she hurried out to my rescue. She managed to open my coat and I tumbled to the floor as the billy goat hurried in the opposite direction still shaking his head and voicing his grievances. Mom checked to make sure that I was alright and then sat on a bale of hay and laughed. I had never seen her quite so amused before as she sat there rocking with laughter. I wasn't quite able to see what was so hilarious but seeing her laugh like that soon had us children laughing too as we headed for the house to prepare supper before Daddy got home from work.

Mom told Daddy all about it at the supper table that evening and everyone laughed again. But from that day forward the billy and I mutually avoided each other as much as possible.

The barn looks forlorn and sad and very weather beaten 20+ years later. The new owners cut a hole in the side and moved my little playhouse to the side of the barn.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Sunbeam's Progress

Sunbeam had an appointment with her doctor again yesterday. We were very happy to find out that she is totally healed and can once again run and play like she used to before her accident.

She will have to have surgery again in several months to remove the plate and screws but for now we are all enjoying having life back to normal once again.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

New Meeting House

By fall of our first year in Somerset the church house in the Pocahontas area was completed and everyone was looking forward to having services there.

The finished church house was very similar to the other two that were being shared by the four other districts. Since Amish only have church services every two weeks one church house could easily be shared by two congregations. The first one had been built in 1881. The story behind it was that the coal miners used to show up after church to enjoy church dinner. It got to be overwhelming trying to feed all of them so they decided to build a meeting house and have services there instead of in homes. It worked well and they wanted to keep everything the same throughout the Somerset County Amish therefore we got a meeting house too even though there hadn't been any hungry miners showing up for the past century.
The shutters are always closed during the week and only opened whenever services are to be held there. Buggies drive up to the porch where the woman get off and stand in one of the two little rooms at the front of the church until it's time for services to begin. It is always a solemn occasion with no more than a few whispered conversations until it is time to file to your seat.
This is the small table in front of the ministers bench. It had several songbooks and the New Testament laying on it. Plus a water pitcher and two glasses in case the ministers would happen to need it. Sitting right across the table from the ministers was a bench that the main song leaders sat on. Behind them were three benches for single boys, and directly behind them were four benches for single girls.

Standing at the back of the church house you can see the doorways for the two little rooms.The one on the right is where the ministers would go into for their meetings while the rest of the congregation sang the slow church songs. The men sat along the right side of the church house and the women on the left.

Part of the horse barn where horses were kept while services were being held. There was room for 120 horses.
These humble buildings were the place where a lot of things would happen and milestones reached over the next twenty years, but for now I was happy to sit beside Mom and help sing the songs. It was nice to have a back to lean against instead of the backless benches we had been used to. I could see Daddy from where I was sitting. John and David sat beside him. I would listen intently to the sermons most of the time, although there was one preacher that when it was his turn to preach I would count all the knots in the boards on the walls and ceiling rather than try to figure out what he was trying to say. It was years before I found out that Daddy and Mom could never follow his ramblings either.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

I'm Back!

After traveling over 700 miles to spend the week end with family I'm back home again, and hopefully will be able to start a more regular blogging schedule again.

We started off on Friday afternoon and drove until what we considered to be bedtime. We found a hotel and..... let me interrupt by saying our experiences with travelling and hotels over the past five years have taught us a lot but we have added another lesson to our things not to repeat folder.

Never willingly choose to stay at hotel that is right across the road from a busy truck stop. All night long we were awakened by trucks starting up and then they all clanged horribly as they drove down the road. The next morning we discovered why, when we saw the mother of all potholes that every single truck had to hit when they turned out on the road.

There wasn't much to see on along the way so we had to find other means to break the boredom. Taking turns to balance a stuffed toy on our head provided a few moments of fun. Sunbeam was declared the winner even though she used her hands to help a little. Her intent expression was priceless.

There was a lot of road work along the way and I have this thing that prompts me to count. I counted more construction cones than I would like to admit. It gets very wearisome especially if they're spread out over 14 miles at a time.

We got a kick out of the smart cars on the road. I think I would get claustrophobic inside one of those toys. Since we spent our first thirty years with a horse and buggy, we feel no need to try to save the environment by driving one of those things. We have already more than done our part in being green and for anyone who wants to be more environmentally friendly we still have a harness for a horse that they are quite welcome to use for the next thirty years.

We spent a very enjoyable two days with one of my cousins and her family. On Sunday afternoon everyone went to a nearby park where their 14 year old daughter took a lot of pictures. She had Rosebud pose for a number of pictures and then shared some of them with us.

We enjoyed our much needed "vacation" and came home recharged and ready to go on with our life.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

School Begins

John and I were excited about starting back to school. The summer had been both busy and fun. We had spent a lot of time in pinching off all the blossoms from the strawberry plants. That took a long time since we had an acre to cover and they bloomed profusely. The new garden had a lot of stones that we had to pick up and pile on the wheelbarrow for Daddy to dump once he got home from work.

Daddy piled all the stones beside the barn for future use. Once he had more time he would take one by one and smash them with his sledge hammer to make gravel for the driveway in the barnyard.

But today we didn't have to worry about picking rocks, pulling weeds, or any of the other things we were used to doing. It was time to go to school. Mom had sewed new clothes for us and we each had a brand new lunch box. Mine was yellow with flowers around the edges and a little elf girl sitting on a lily pad with the words "Herself the Elf" Elf fun is for everyone.

We each had a pack of new crayons and a ruler. The school would supply anything else we needed.

We started off early. We no longer needed anyone to walk with us. The morning was beautiful as we said good-bye to Mom and David on the front porch and started up the road. We turned into the small dirt road and turned to wave one last time before we rounded the bend. Black Eyed Susan's were growing in the ditch and we gathered a handful to give to the teacher. We were talking and thoroughly enjoying ourselves when our peaceful morning got disrupted by the barking of three huge dogs as they came flying out a neighbors driveway. We dropped the flowers we had picked and ran as fast as we could go. The dogs followed us for a short distance and then turned around and loped back.

We managed to catch our breath and hurried on to school. We arrived in plenty of time and we got to explore the new schoolhouse before the bell rang. It was situated on top of a steep hill. The front door was a nice walk in without any steps. At the back of the schoolhouse there was a fire escape with ten steps and a basement door. There was a big sandbox in the basement for rainy days and a furnace. In a little side room there was a big pile of coal and an area to stack firewood.

School started with everyone saying the Lord's Prayer and singing three songs. As soon as that was done we got our arithmetic assignments. The forenoon passed quickly and it was time for lunch. Mom had fixed an egg sandwich and a small bowl of peaches for our lunch. I closed my lunch box as I was eating my sandwich so I could admire the picture on the front. LV  was sitting across the aisle and happened to see what it said and called out to one of his friends "Hey Norman, MaryAnn's lunch box says Herself the Elf Elf fun is for everyone." Everyone laughed as I cringed in my seat and wished I could disappear.

I hurriedly finished my lunch and ran outside. I was still in the entrance when LV and some of the other boys came out and gathered around me chanting elf elf elf Herself the elf. I felt like crying and managed to get away and run to the girls outhouse where I vowed to stay inside until recess was over.
20+ years later the schoolhouse no longer looks new and exciting. But it is holding lots of memories!
The inside of the school house.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Taco Ring

I enjoy trying new recipes and the one I tried tonight will definitely be going into the keeper file!
Taco Ring

1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
2 Tbsp water
4 Tbsp taco seasoning
1/2 pound ground beef

In a bowl combine meat, water, taco seasoning, and cheese. Mix well and form into 16 one inch balls and place on a baking pan. Bake for 12 minutes in an oven that has been preheated to 400.

Drain meatballs on paper towels. Reduce oven heat to 375. Now take two tubes of crescent rolls (8 oz each) unroll and separate into triangles.On a 14 inch pizza pan or a large foil lined cookie sheet (Spray with non stick spray) place triangles forming a ring with pointed ends facing outer edge of pan and wide ends overlapping. Lightly press wide ends together. place a meatball on the wide end of the triangle and fold point over and tuck under wide end of roll. Bake at 375 for 15-20 minutes until rolls are a golden brown.

Remove from oven and fill center of ring with:

1/2 head iceberg lettuce, shredded
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 medium tomato chopped
1/4 cup sliced ripe olives

If desired fill a small dish with sour cream and place in center. Serve while still warm.

These are surprisingly simple to make, and delightfully delicious!

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Today's Chuckle

I was looking for our favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe and stumbled upon this:

A "recipe" concocted in the head of my 10 year old brother and written on the inside of a 'Today' cow treatment box, soon after I was married. It was intended I'm sure to make me gag , but instead I tucked it away for chuckles in years to come.

I had my chuckle for today, but still have not located my cookie recipe, so I'm going to bake Apple Goodie instead.

Friday, September 4, 2009

A Busy Summer

     The first summer in Somerset County was very busy. Not only were we trying to get our 15 acres to look better, there was a large garden to take care of, a new 1 acre strawberry patch to start and keep weeded. We also were adding a large L shaped addition to the house that was almost twice as big as the house was right now. The blue back porch was torn away a number of fruit trees and lilac bushes removed and a neighbor came over with his bulldozer and started digging away at the ground behind the house to make a basement. John, David, and I enjoyed watching as the earth was moved from the ever increasing hole in the ground to a big pile in the pasture.

Once it was finally deep enough Daddy dug a footer by hand and the cement truck came. Uncle David came to help pour the concrete for the footer and then the basement floor. As soon as the cement had dried we played on it with our wagon. Daddy did the cement work, laying the blocks etc by himself. He gave John and me each a small tool to smooth the concrete that showed between the blocks. Once the walls were too high for us to reach he did it by himself.

Once the blocks were all laid we had a frolic to get the floor, walls and roof on. We soon learned that the Somerset Amish were true to their farming roots and really had no idea what to do unless they were told. It was a very frustrating day with only a fraction of the things done that we had been hoping to get accomplished in one day.

Once chore time came and everyone went home to milk their cows Enos Lee stayed behind a little longer and offered that his oldest son could help out as long as Daddy needed him. We were very glad to accept the offer. The following days Edwin would arrive right after breakfast and help with what ever Daddy had planned. The addition progressed slowly, there were quite a number of days that nothing was done at it until evenings because there were lots of other frolics going that summer and Daddy always went. One was to build a new school house and the other one was to build a church house.

The church house was painfully slow in getting built since most of the older men thought it had to be built exactly like the ones in the other districts that had been built in 1881. They had a big fuss about finding square nails and old windows and who knows what kind of siding. They finally compromised somehow and our church house got vinyl siding and normal nails. But they managed to find old windows somewhere and ancient stoves to heat it. Daddy used to come home from a frolic at the church house and when Mom asked him how his day went he would just shake his head. We children knew they wouldn't talk about it in front of us but if we managed to stay awake long enough we could hear them talk about everything once they thought we were asleep.

Our addition finally got done and we move our kitchen sink and cupboards into our new kitchen. It looked strange with it's bright orange counter top since there were no matching orange doors and walls any longer. We also had a large pantry now and so the refrigerator could be moved in from the front porch and into the pantry. The rule in the Somerset Amish is that you can not have a refrigerator in your kitchen. So for seven months we had to go outside whenever we needed something. It seemed really nice to have it indoors once again.

There was a nice sewing room at the one end of the addition. A really big kitchen and then a cement porch. The porch was supposed to be turned into a laundry room in the future but for now it was an exciting place to play since it was almost ten feet off the ground and had no railings.

Our old kitchen was turned into the master bedroom. So now I had a room of my own upstairs and no longer had to sleep in the hallway. It seemed really great. The new school house was done too and John and I were looking forward to starting back in a few weeks. The church house still wasn't completed but we were looking forward to that too. I had never been inside of a church house before and could hardly wait to see how it would seem.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Giveaway Winner

The giveaway is now over and a winner has been chosen. We put every ones name in a bowl and made sure we added the extra entries too for those that were eligible.

Sailor was happy to have the honor of drawing a name.

And the lucky winner is "Sunny" Congratulations Sunny! Please email me with your address and I will get your package in the mail.

Tuesday Introduction

Soon after I discovered the blogging world I found a lovely blog that I like to visit regularly. I would like to introduce you to it too.

Janie and her husband enjoy riding their horses almost everyday. They take lots of pictures on their treks into the wilderness and then share them on their blog. Reading it and enjoying all the gorgeous photography is almost like taking a mini vacation yourself.

Janie graciously gave me permission to borrow a picture from her blog " Janie & Steve's Utah Trails " to share with you. Anyone who enjoys the outdoors and the beauty of nature is sure to enjoy her blog.