pink peony

pink peony
old-fashioned peony

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Autumn 2012 in the Ozarks has been so beautiful. Perhaps it seems even more so because of the hot, dry summer that preceded it. We didn't expect much in the way of fall color, but it has been wonderful and longlasting.

This is a busy season on the farm, for it is the time for our second bout of working cattle. We work them in summer, also, when it seems much harder. The men actually enjoy it this time of year, with cool, crisp days of bright-blue skies and no humidity.

I'm invited to help when they get the cattle up, by standing in the road or at a gate to turn them in. This week, as I was waiting for the herd to come charging in, I thought about our "working conditions" and of how fortunate we are.

This was the view from the west "window" of the office Friday morning. The fall colors are gone now, but it is still a breathtaking view.
And this is how it looked out the east window.

This is the board room, where many important executive decisions are made.

Feminists would like our company -- we hire mostly females. A few males are required for peak performance, but the "girls" are really responsible for production. This is where they spend their workdays.

We don't have many complaints from the workers. They just appreciate being left alone to do their job. It IS a good work environment...Casual Friday is the dress code every day!
We don't even complain when they gather around the office "watering hole" -- in fact, we encourage it!

Sometimes we entertain foereign dignitaries who visit unexpectedly, to see how we do things in the Ozarks. These Nebraska Sandhill Cranes asked how we manage our wetlands and wondered about our winter weather.
When we told them we sometimes get snow, they bid us goodbye and continued on their journey. Hope they come back to visit again! Having them drop in was a nice little interlude in the midst of a busy week

Cattle working will continue through the next two or three weeks. Our brand will be applied to our product, and after several more months in growth and development, will be ready to be marketed.

If you enjoy an occasional nice, fork-tender steak or juicy hamburger, you may benefit someday from the superior care we give to our workers, the excellent working conditions under which they labor and the highest-quality product they provide. California isn't the only state with happy cows!

Monday, October 1, 2012

Nobby Apple Cake

Now, why would anyone post a picture of such a homely cake on her blog? The answer is simple -- because this cake is so VERY good!

About 30 years ago, my step-grandmother gave me the recipe for Nobby Apple Cake. I still have the index card upon which it was written, smears of vanilla and all. The recipe is homely, too. Who cares? What counts is what it produces!

If you like apple cake (and who doesn't, especially in October?) you should give this one a try. It is dark and dense -- three cups of diced apples in this small cake, so it is, in fact, mostly apples. But it also has a few other good things like chopped pecans, cinnamon and nutmeg. And it needs nothing else, but if you have real whipped cream, a small spoonful is the perfect topping.

The tea kettle is warming, the taste buds are activated -- so long, for now. I'm ready to enjoy a piece of our favorite autumn dessert.

Monday, September 17, 2012


FISHIN' (the farm way)

Big brother and little sister came home with us after church yesterday. Although the day was rather dark and dreary, we created some bright spots by going fishing in our farm pond. When we got to the water's edge, we found we were intruding on someone already there. Can you see him? That black-and-white speck sitting on a limb over Wyatt's right shoulder?

I'm sure he was thinking that we were a noisy bunch, but it didn't scare him away. There were, after all, fish a-plenty.

It's so much fun to get a bite...

and then all that work to bring the big one in ....

but it's SO worth it!

Our superhero, VICE-GRIP MAN, to the rescue! (I need to do a whole piece about that -- the many uses of these ever-present, ever-helpful tools that make holes in his back pocket, but we go nowhere without them!)

Our friend kept tabs on the catch...

and probably resented the size of our haul....

but we were sure proud!~

Just as we turned our backs to leave, he decided he'd had enough...

and flew to the other end of the lake to complain to the ducks.,,,

who decided to boycott the whole thing.

We had fun -- even those of us who don't fish -- and will recall the afternoon as a bright and shiny memory, in spite of the gray skies that threatened to soak us.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012


We normally harvest much of our hay and silage in late spring and early summer, but this year has been different, in almost every way. The extremely hot and dry weather that began as early as March meant that first cuttings were skimpy, and second cuttings were non-existent. Putting up hay now feels like it's the first hay of the season. A couple of nice rains this month have given the plants just the boost they were waiting for; it seemed as if you could see the grass, alfalfa, lespedeza, orchard grass and crab -- yes, crab -- grass grow. (University extension studies show that crab grass makes a very nutritious feed.)

This evening the boss was baling late. He wanted to finish the field before he came in. So at about the time most suburban midwestern families were sitting down to dinner in their dining rooms, I took him a milkshake and a hot dog; he smiled his thanks (I couldn't hear over the roar of the tractor and baler) and kept on chugging.

I ate mine as I watched him for a while.Every little bit he would stop and let the baler deliver one of these babies.

He was working in the field through which I normally take my walk.

I've been noting the progress of other crops along my route. The one I've been keeping a close eye upon is the crop of buckeyes.

I love these small trees! They bloom beautifully in spring, and their fruit is so interesting. This is how they look when they begin to ripen,

and this is how they look when the shell splits and the seeds emerge.

No wonder they are named as they are -- see the eye?

Despite the difficult summer, there appears to be an abundant crop of most everything, including walnuts,

hickory nuts

and some straggler wild plums.

This is the true crop we produce on our place.

The hay (and silage) are harvested for their benefit; we use all we produce.

If we had extra this year, we could do right well selling hay because the shortage has put it at a premium.

We're just thankful to have some to go into our barns. The cows and calves will be very grateful in a few short months.

I have never ceased to wonder at the vision of our ancestors who saw the potential in the Ozarks land, for it was surely rugged and rough, covered with deep woods, with nary a prairie to be seen down here.

But with lots of hard work and sweat equity, farms have been carved into the hollows and on the ridge tops. While it may not be the easiest place in the world to farm, surely it is one of the most beautiful.

The sun was nearly down, but as I came back home, I stopped to admire this passion flower,

growing among the ditch weeds. If it were dug up and trained upon a fancy trellis in the garden of a society horticulturalist, it would be oohed and ahhed over, its lovely blue noted as remarkable. I note it each time I walk -- another gift.

Hope your Wednesday has been a remarkable fall day.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012


Meet Fern!

Isn't she lovely?

Can a fern be a she ... or a he? I don't know, honestly, but this fern has a decidedly feminine look about her. She's a she in my book.

I really am fond of my friend, Fern. She has been a porch companion of mine for many, many years. At least 10, and surely more. I don't know how Fern has survived, when so many of her cousins have not. Under all her frilly fronds, Fern is a hardy old girl.

I'm not going daft in my old age, feeling affectionate about Fern. There is just something about her that mades me feel fondly toward her.

In one of my most favorite Masterpiece Classics, Miss Betty Barker, retired milliner of Cranford, almost loses her beloved milk cow after the old girl wanders into the town's lime pit and gets stuck. The poor bovine loses all her hair because of the nasty experience, and so Miss Betty sews her up some cow-sized flannel pajamas to keep her covered. In one of the episode's funniest lines, Miss Betty says, in all sincerity, "That cow is like a daughter to me."

Well, I feel that way about Fern. Except, unlike Miss Betty, I do have real daughters. So don't tell them how I feel about Fern. They might not like sharing my affection.

This is one of Fern's favorite seasons. She's happiest in Fall. So am I. We're a lot alike in some ways, Fern and I. We love the porch, and we love gentle breezes, the warm morning sunshine on our faces and a nice cool drink in the warmer afternoon. It really doesn't take a lot to make us happy.

There's a lot to be said for a friend who is always there for you, doesn't demand much and doesn't talk back. Fern is a forever sort of friend.

Friday, August 31, 2012

I am part of a group that makes Prayer Shawls. For the last couple of years, we've met twice monthly and made all kinds of things for a variety of folks who have a variety of needs -- loneliness, grief, pain -- take my word for it: the needs are there.

Our desire is simple -- to knit (or crochet or whatever) things with built-in prayers and blessings. Sometimes when we start an item, it's with a particular person (and his/her need) in mind. And sometimes we just start, knowing that a need will arise. The sad thing is, it always does.

This shawl is called Balm to the Soul. Aptly named, I believe, for as soon as it rolls off my needles I learn of someone who needs it to help sooothe a hurting soul. This pattern was introduced in July, and I've made three of them. With each one, I had no idea why I was making it -- just knew that I wanted to make it.  And each time, just as I was ready to bind off, there appeared -- seemingly, out of the blue (but not really!) -- someone who needed it. Each time, the answer was completely unexpected. But always perfect.

I love this pattern, with it's pretty lace edge and just the perfect triangular shape. And this yarn was just a dream -- the uber-popular MadelineTosh -- perfect for this Balm. I felt peace and contentment in my own soul with every stitch I took. As the project progresses, the prayers become automatic -- blessing adds to blessing, row after row, until the shawl is complete.

I am mailing this shawl today to a friend who is losing her husband. He's too young to go, and she's too young to lose him. But lose him she will, and I pray that this shawl will wrap her in a hug of loving concern. I can't be there to give her a hug in person, but I pray that she'll feel a soothing comfort as she drapes the pretty shawl around her shoulders.

And would you believe -- yes, you will -- that just this morning I learned of another friend who's facing a similar challenge? It always works that way. Tonight I shall choose some yarn  (I have another couple of balls of MadelineTosh in a lovely burgundy color -- maybe?) and begin another prayer shawl.

It's what I can do....

Friday, August 24, 2012

My pantry smells absolutely heavenly today! New bundles of rosemary and sage hanging to dry ....

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Once upon a time there were two cousins who just happened to both be seven years old. This is an advantage -- being seven together. This means lots of fun will happen when the two are visiting Mimi at the same time, and a Mimi -- well, a Mimi just better be ready. 

On a hot August day in the Ozarks, there is no better place to find that together-fun than the creek.

First we braved the deep, dark jungle to find wood to build a fire.
There was some tree-climbing involved, but that was a side adventure.

(May I digress from the subject at hand to say that I got that fire going with one, single match? Give Mimi a point, please.)

Hot dogs eaten on a creek bank, mixed with a little sand and grit, are the best.

Then we gathered our creekbank tools and got serious about why we were there.



Freeze dancing in the creek....

Tango-ing in the creek....

And pondering the important things in life. Like, "Looks like Mimi is resting. Wonder if she would scream if we both splashed her at the same time?"

The tools were employed in the building of a hot tub.

 Luci: "Wyatt, you do the deep and I'll do the wide."

This must have felt oh-so-good because they stayed in the hot tub for a while.

All good things must come to an end, so after a little more exploring we called it a day.

A good day. A very good day at the creek.

The end.