summer greens at Mountain Glen Farm

summer greens at Mountain Glen Farm

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Goodbye 2014

As 2014 comes to an end, let us all reflect on
 the good memories of the past year…

 accomplishments, deeds, family and friends…

and hold these memories closely to and warmly in our hearts!
see 'EWES' next year...

Monday, December 29, 2014

St. Mary's Wilderness

Last Friday afternoon, son Matthew, home on holiday leave, and I went on a hike in the nearby U.S. Forest Service St. Mary’s Wilderness. The afternoon was a perfect spring-like, warm and sunny, December day. A snowless and balmy Christmas/winter season is OK by me.


most of the trail was narrow and rocky
The St. Mary’s Wilderness Trail is not strenuous but very rough and rocky due to repeated flooding of the adjacent river resulting in disposed rocks from the adjoining rocky outcrops and ledges.  Most of the trail is covered with fallen autumn leaves making each step a possible hazard.


I was expecting the trail to be muddy because of the recent rain.  I brought along my farm rubber boots, but they are not comfortable for any length of time, so I elected not to wear them.   Instead, I opted to wear my most worn out pair of Nike running shoes because I did not want to ruin a decent, more supportive pair.  A good pair of hiking boots would have been a better choice, but I do not own hiking boots.  So, my thread-bear Nikes with the sole separated from the shoe on the left foot made do.

barely a trail along the water's edge...the rock near center foreground is the one that I used as a teetered,
sending my foot into the cold water

Within the first 10 minutes of our hike, my foot slipped into the cold water of St. Mary’s river.  The path had narrowed to a person’s foot width right next to the water’s edge on a slightly steep slope.  I took a step onto a protruding rock positioned about six inches off the bank, but that rock was not stable and it moved sending my foot into the water. My right shoe and pant leg were soaking wet, my foot cold. Matt, walking ahead of me and checking back on me from time to time, said he saw that coming. OK…so why did he not warn me? Fortunately, within a short amount of time, my foot warmed up.


Shortly, we passed two hunters.  They were well-equipped with guns and leashed, radio-collared dogs. I knew what that meant, but I just had to verify. I asked if they were hunting bear.  The affirmative was quick.  They continued on without stopping and without my getting a chance to ask if they had seen any bear. Putting the thought of running into a bear out of my mind, I focused on the beauty of the trees, the river, the rock formations, and the time spent with my son.


I kept a steady, but slow pace trailing behind much faster, even at his reduced stride, Matt.  I am always conscious of slipping, falling, or making a misstep even under the best conditions.  I do not want to fall.


1 1/2 hours into our hike, the trail ended on our side of the river and it continued on the far side of the river. The water moved fast and looked deep.  I knew it was cold.  Even though Matt had carried my boots in his backpack, I decided that the water was probably deeper than my boots high.  Decision made. This was an ideal turn-around.  We would not make it to the waterfall today.  That would be a goal for another day.  I am thinking mid-summer when the water level is lower and getting wet would actually be refreshing.


For now, I will chalk up the day to fun with my son!


Sunday, December 28, 2014

A Mild December Day

Yesterday, we had another mild December day.  I will take as many spring-like winter days as I am offered.


Glenn and Matt worked on fences for the majority of the day. They fortified a wooden board fence with woven wire to make a tight enclosure to keep the guard dogs and sheep in and to keep the coyotes out. They also continued rebuilding the barn paddock fence.  This is a project that was started about two years ago and one that exhibits very slow progress.  The old fence is quite deteriorated and, in places, non-existent.  Therefore, this project has been upgraded to one of priority.


I washed a load of laundry and hung the clothes outside to dry.  I just had to spend time outdoors.


I worked a few hours in my garden cleaning debris, mostly sticks and stuff gathered and stashed by the dogs, and clipping dried perennials.  I just had to spend time outdoors.


I went for my daily, actually more like my fair-weather, walk.  This time, all four dogs decided to accompany me.  Avalanche has not taken the full circuit walk for months.  Today she did.  I just had to spend time outdoors.


The day was warm, sunny, and comfortable.  I was being called.


Did I mention that I just had to spend time outdoors?


A craft project was ready to be painted.   Dishes gathered on the counter waiting to be washed.  The floors needed touch-up vacuuming.  Jane Eyre sat untouched on the table.


I just had to be outdoors!


My time was well-spent. 

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Happy Birthday To ME!

Sixty…that is the age I became today.  It is my birthday.  The good news is that I do not feel like 60. 


And, just because I am 60, does not mean I am slowing down.


Even though my Christmas preparations are not complete, and the items on my ‘to do ‘list never seem to get crossed off, and the dogs usually wait until after 9:00 PM to get fed…well, I have plenty of explanations to offer in my defense, the most valid is the fact that I just keep adding more tasks, more activities, and generally more stuff onto my 24-hour plate. 

my 2nd oil painting - Snowy Night

Recently, one new activity I added was painting.  No, not the walls of the house (which are truly in need of refreshing), but painting pictures on real ‘artist’ canvasses.  Glenn only rolls his eyes thinking of all the new supplies I will need to add to my already overwhelming stash of fabric, and beads, and yarn, and buttons, and how-to books, and patterns, and…well, I am sure you get the idea, more for all my other interests.  My house overflows with my supplies for my various projects.  I have fun creating; talent or no talent. Truthfully, I lean more toward the no talent when considering my results.


And, I have pretty much no talent for painting, but I find it extremely enjoyable to try.


Later today, the tree will go up and I will begin the decorating process of transforming the white pine into a Christmas tree.  I will add my newest ornaments that I made last week with my friend Ann during, what is becoming, our annual ornament workshop. 
our workspace - looks like we have been busy...

Aren't these guys cute?

This year she presented the ideas and materials for little almond birds and pinecone Santas.  Pinecones seem to be a reoccurring supply because they are so readily available just outside our doors.
Ann made the twisted and woven snowflakes with my instructions.


Then, she packed me up with a emerald green glass ball for homework.  I am to paint winter trees and birds. I swill let you know how that goes.


Needless to say, that project has been added to my ’to do’ list, but high on the list.  I have 10 days to embellish that glass ball.  I have confidence I will because I am anxious to paint.


But, today’s priority is to reflect, enjoy and celebrate my 6oth.  This is one day I cannot put on hold, cannot place on my ‘to do’ list.



Wednesday, December 10, 2014

A Glimpse from My Window

It is amazing what I observe when taking just a glance out the window.

Today, it was a large flicker pecking at the ground for food. The feathers of brown, white, and black with a patch of red melded into a magnificent display for my watchful eye.  This bird may have been hidden to another who glanced with less interest.


A few days previous, Glenn witnessed, and called out for me to come quickly, a trio of huge pileated woodpeckers gathered about our back deck.  To see one pileated is a prize, but three at once a most incredible marvel.


Many of the local birds have made themselves scarce with the coming of winter, but still plenty abound to provide a moment’s pleasure.


And, I partake of that pleasure daily.
Hmmm...I wonder what surprise will greet me tomorrow?

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Got the Tree...Christmas Tree, That Is

Today, Glenn and I went out and cut down our Christmas tree.


We are not as late as many years, but we are not as early as others either in pursuit of this annual tradition.


We, I mean Glenn, cut down a white pine, our usual species of choice, at the very local farm, Ridge Road Ranch.


We drive past this Christmas tree farm often throughout the year as it is located only about 1.5 miles down the road from Becky’s farm.

The business is small and family-run located in the northern part of beautiful and picturesque Rockbridge County in the gorgeous Shenandoah Valley of Virginia.  OK, OK…I am a bit biased.  Mountain and farm  views can be had in all directions. This is a wonderful place to saunter about with family and friends looking for that perfect Christmas tree.  A sunny and pleasant day, as today, was an added bonus.

tool of the trade - tree netting device
Several species of tree are available: white pine, Scotch pine, concolor fir, and Canaan fir.


Next year, I am already eyeing one of those concolors…soft needles, full round branches, a bit rotund - kind of like how I picked out all our puppies in our life - the softest and tubbiest of the litter.  I guess I stick with a formula that seems to works well for choosing puppies and trees both...go figure.


mid-sized needles and oh, so soft

The tree is still outside, standing in a bucket of water, waiting for its grand entrance.


I just need to dust and vacuum the living room first.  That task is on my schedule for tomorrow, but then I think I have mentioned, a few times the very least, that I hate to clean.


But, this time I have an get that tree decorated in lights; to hang the vintage, family and friends ornaments; to be surrounded, inside, with the aroma of a pine forest; and to sit back, reminisce and enjoy!


Haven’t got your tree yet?  You still have plenty of time to partake of this holiday pleasure!

Friday, December 5, 2014

I Got My Satisfaction

Yesterday, I had to help Glenn separate cattle.  A man was coming to purchase some of our South Poll calves and our main herd bull, also South Poll, Little Red Jr.

Bye, Little Red Jr.


Becky was working at one of her other jobs, so Glenn’s only option was me.  Good or bad, he had no other choice.


I have been trying to do less farm work because Becky has taken over most of my past duties, I am not very comfortable around the animals that are many times my size and many more times my weight, and quite frankly I have been involved with a myriad of other activities that consume, in a good way, my time. Reading, writing, photography, quilting come to mind as activities more to my current liking. Separating cattle…not!


Getting into a small enclosure, approximately 20 feet by 20 feet, with the entire herd of calves, yearlings, cows and several bulls nervously moving around did not appeal to me or my senses.  But, Glenn could not complete the task alone and we were under a time restriction.  Our buyer was arriving at 1:00 PM to load his purchases. Glenn worked (open and shut) the gates as I weaved around the animals trying to coax the right animals to the gate.


We had several different groups to which we had to separate the herd.  The calves and Little Red Jr. for the buyer, the cows and young bulls that were to remain on the farm, cows with young calves and heifers to be moved to Becky’s farm, and cows that needed to be pregnancy checked.


I pulled on my boots, put on my hooded sweatshirt, layered with my bulky down jacket, grabbed my gloves and was ready to go.  Because the ground was wet and muddy, Glenn drove the tractor down to the working area in case he had to pull the buyer, his truck and his loaded livestock trailer back up the hill…he did.  I drove the mule.  Three dogs followed. 


The fun began.


Due to the placement of the ewes and spring lambs in different pastures, we had to open and close five gates on our way to the working area. I hate having to stop, exit vehicle, open gate, get back into vehicle, drive through the open gate, stop, get out of vehicle, chain gate, get back into vehicle, and drive off.  This scenario was repeated five times.  I was tired before I even met up with the cattle.


I took a deep breath, entered the enclosure, and started moving the livestock around and moving one animal at a time through the open gate into another holding area.


Becky’s dog, Sammy, was too involved with the process and created more chaos than we needed, so he was put into solitary into our empty stock trailer standing nearby.  The cattle soon settled down and were, for the most part, quite cooperative.


Not one cow, calve or bull charged me.  That was huge to my peace of mind and to my overall calmness.


A few hours later, the task had been complete.  It was 12:50 PM. There were no hostile incidences.
South Poll calves - SOLD!

 Becky had a break from work and arrived just as we finished. 


We were done.  I felt energized for a job well done on my part.


Glenn expected no less from me.  A ‘at-a-boy’ might have been in order from him.


Unfortunately, the only patting of my back was from my own hand. 


And, I’ll take it!