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I have always wanted a horse as far back as I can remember which goes back to when I was about 2 or 3 years of age. I love horses! Over time, I have given up on that dream. Truth be told, my father would not allow me to have a horse because he was scared I would be drug by the horse—getting my foot hung in the stirrup when the horse gets spooked. He knew someone who suffered this fate–I cannot hold it against him. We had the old farm but he didn’t want anything to happen if he wasn’t there. I remember my great aunt telling me that she would buy me a saddle if I could get Daddy to let me have a pony/horse. I had a few picked out… 

I was about 3 years old when I first rode with someone. My parents would let me ride and I loved it! I remember one time we went to a neighbor’s farm and a horse was saddled for me to ride, but the horse didn’t want to go anywhere. Me? I was perfectly content just sitting on the horse. I have always felt a connection to horses. I don’t know why. A lot of girls feel a connection but grow out of it. I never did.

This photo was taken at our family farm. These are some distant cousins who came over and took me for a ride—I’m the cute one :). The boy on the horse with me was like a brother, about 7-8 years my senior. He helped look after me when I started school. Later, after he graduated, he married a sweet girl, but sadly, he passed away the year after I graduated high school. What a loss! He has really been missed.

May your memories be good ones and Happy Gardening!

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From my 45 Collection

Saturday Mornings—Those two words conjure up songs in my mind like “Come Saturday Morning” (youtube link) or better yet, “Saturday Morning Confusion” (youtube link). BTW, my oldest daughter and I were going through my old 45s the other week and discovered the 2nd one was still in there.

When I was small, I enjoyed getting up early on Saturday morning to watch cartoons. Years later when I just wanted to sleep, I was usually summoned about 6 am or before… Some thought I lived a charmed life, but in reality I did plenty of work especially on Saturdays. Half of the year was spent cutting and splitting wood and the other half was working around the farm. Daddy didn’t have a boy, so I was his substitute. I have to admit that I absolutely loved it-maybe not arising so early and all of the work-but spending it with my dad was the best.

My dad built our house that we moved into when I was about 2 or 3. It was a couple of hundred feet from the old farmhouse so both houses continued to be my home. He drew up the house plan with the idea to add on later. The first addition was built when I was in my early teens. It included a large den with a wonderful brick fireplace my dad constructed. In fact, the fireplace was complete just before THE BIG snowstorm-biggest on record for us-16 inches of snow. We do well to get 1-2 inches of snow a year total (this year is 0). But, sixteen? At one time? We burned through much of our wood in just one week-we were so thankful for our new fireplace. Back to before it was finished…

When it came time to put a mantel on the fireplace, my dad wanted to use something natural looking and knew exactly where to get the wood. One Saturday morning, I was beckoned at the usual 6 am. We first ate breakfast and did some things around the farm. Later, we loaded up chains and toolbox and stuff into the International pickup and set off for the swamp. I have to tell you now that I absolutely HATE snakes or any thought that a snake might be near. We had a lot of rattlers around and plenty of copperheads and water moccasins, so my fears were warranted, and that was before you reached the swamp.

We pulled off the river road and took the truck out as far as we could. The area had grown up quite a bit since the last time I was there and lots more since my dad first had this idea to use this particular piece of wood. Don’t get the idea we were out trespassing or anything since we had permission to be there. I didn’t know what we were after really, so I followed along. We walked and walked. My dad searched, prodded, and when he thought all was lost he found what he was looking for. Ok, I am a girl and am not that tall and at the time was quite petite—in other words, I wasn’t a lot of help heaving this gigantic piece of wood out of its burrow, but I did my best. My dad attached a chain to pull the wood, but first we had to get it to the truck. Oh, man! Then my dad hitched it to the truck and we pulled it home. That was easier said than done. Pulling this huge piece of wood down a paved road wasn’t going to work so we had to drive along on the shoulder—very slowly, with stops every so far. We must have looked crazy to those who passed by-I wanted to hide. We finally got it home, but the story does not end here.

It turns out that this piece of wood is what we refer to as a railroad tie that had been laid for a railroad some 100 years before (maybe longer)-sometime in the 1800s. The rails had been sold about 40 years earlier. My dad thought after so many years that the tie would be dry enough to use but it wasn’t, so this tie sat in the yard for a bit before he decided that if he made a mantel out of it, the heat from the fire would cause more creosote to leach out making the room smell awful. He hated that all of that work was for nothing. I think he anguished about it for quite a while, but it was a memory I will always have which has taught me several things—

  1. Don’t give up even when you think things are looking grim.
  2. When you plan something, make sure it is going to work or be sure of the outcome.
  3. Remember to cherish the time you spend together no matter the outcome.

So, what did we use for our new mantel? My dad handcrafted a beautiful piece of art out of  red cedar. I thought it turned out just great. He was so talented. Thanks, Dad! I sure miss you. My apologies but I could not find a photo.

Happy Gardening in everything you attempt and may your efforts yield lovely results!

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The Sideboard

I want to welcome some new followers and thank those who have been around for a bit. I do not blog about any one thing so it is hard to imagine anyone following my blog. I feel very blessed to have readers or those who stop by for a peek of some photos. Welcome to all and thank you for stopping by.

Continuing with my postings of things from the farm—this will be it for a while… This is the Sideboard that sat in the dining room at the old farmhouse. It is closer to being an antique than the Welsh Dresser and is showing its age. This is where I remember all of the delicious pies, melt-in-your mouth cakes, the to-die-for divinity—yum—and other scrumptious desserts and baked goods sat rather than in the pie case. Perhaps the furniture maker had thoughts of this purpose when it was designed because the top sits about 4 feet off the floor, almost 15 inches higher than the base of the Welsh Dresser. It is not as long as the Welsh Dresser but weighs a lot more. There are locks on the doors that have not worked in ages, and I would not know where the key is if my life depended on it. Each of the three drawers are deep with ample room. I realize that this is not a great photo because you cannot see the amplified false legs that are shaped in a scroll design. That same design is repeated on either end at the top. I am not sure what type of wood was used to make the Sideboard, but it is beautiful under the darkened varnish.

This piece of furniture may not be worth any money but it has sentimental meaning—like most things in my house. The engraved silverware was kept here along with other service ware pieces. A flower arrangement usually decorated the top with little else around except maybe a tatted or other sewn doily or small runner. One of the compartments or cupboard sections was used for my great uncle’s “doctoring” instruments and supplies including some antiseptic that must have spilled because I can still smell it.

This was another photo-different year. That cute gingerbread family was made so many years ago.

Since we have had the Sideboard, it has usually been decorated according to the seasons. It has never really been used in our house for its purpose of a sideboard, but I store much of the old stuff from the farm, candles, and other knick-knacks that have no other home. It is not a very pretty piece of furniture from afar, but it is one of the few pieces I have from the family farm. To me, it is a reminder of simpler times.

Well, I hope you have enjoyed (or rather have not been bored with) my trip down memory lane through some photos. There are so many furniture pieces that I cannot show you–prized pieces that were removed stolen like my grandmother’s armoire that I was using for my hope chest years ago and the huge bed of mine from my other grandmother, the fold-down desk, the marble top table, and so many other things including my the family photo albums. Life goes on…

Happy Gardening and may your life become less complicated with the New Year!

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Mixed in with some of the old photos I was going through a few months ago was this photo of the Welsh Dresser my dad built when he built the house in the country (next door to the old farmhouse) over 50 years ago. I have been decorating the base of the dresser each Christmas for over 30 years. In this photo is the cherished Madonna that belonged to my dad’s mom. She had a set of carolers and angels that were brought out each Christmas—some of the carolers can also be seen here. When I was little there were also miniature reindeer, the little Christmas tree seen here, and a set of caroler candles with lamppost (check out Lillian’s caroler candles here) that I used to add to all of the decorations. In more recent years, those decorations gave way to my Christmas village. At the time of this photo little items that the girls made at school also began to decorate the Welsh Dresser and Sideboard (next post). Oh, and the “ham” you see here is my youngest.

I we have moved the Welsh Dresser more times than I want to count and it is now located where chairs sit in front of it in the living room—not a very lovely sight. I do not use it like I once did because of this setup. We have way too much furniture than house and most pieces are things handed down to me, some from the old farm and many from my mother’s family.

I love this piece of furniture. Critics will point out that it is not Welsh (it was not made in Wales), not an antique (way younger than 100), and is not your usual hutch and cupboard, but it was built for similar purposes the old Welsh Dressers were intended. A bit longer than usual Welsh Dressers, this one is comprised of two pieces that measure about 9 feet long and about 7 feet high together. It was made from heart pine, just like the paneling in the house that was built by my father. It gave the appearance that it was a built-in piece but wasn’t. The base has two deep cupboards on either side of 5 drawers. I store placemats, tablecloths, and such in the drawers and all types of plates and things in the cupboards. My dad added a plate groove on each shelf of the hutch which is really helpful. This is where we keep the German plates and steins and some of the depression era plates. When the Welsh Dresser was built, it was the centerpiece of the house. Today, it is still a vital part of our family.

Happy Gardening and may you cherish all parts of your heritage!

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Several underused items sat on the enclosed back porch of the old farmhouse. The porch was screened in and usually covered for winter. It was actually a side porch facing the barn, old well, potato house, etc. (on the right side of the house in this figure). There was a long shallow sink that required my standing on a stool to reach, and there was a large chest freezer where I swear one could store several bodies. In reality, it could hold some serious wild game and garden veggies. The wringer-washer sat on one side of the porch along with an old table and a cabinet. I remember my grandmother would hang flowers from the rafters in the ceiling. She loved dried arrangements and cut some each year to dry on the porch. I spent many hours on this porch whether it was playing, shelling corn, or helping to roll brooms made from wild broom straw (photo here of wild broom straw), but this story is about the old green cabinet—the pie safe.

I don’t remember the safe being used for anything except for storage, but I was told it held fresh baked pies and goodies my great-grandmother made. Today, it holds my Christmas dishes and other décor, collectibles like cookie jars, nutcrackers, and my snowman teapot and cups… Many years ago, my mom painted the safe an off-white, preachy color that I am not crazy about. After we moved it to our house 20 years ago, I would open the doors and decorate it for Christmas, but it has not been decorated in a while. This photo was taken some years ago when it sat to the left of the fireplace. My apologies for TV interference :).

I wanted to strip the cabinet and restore it, maybe paint it in its original color or a medium shade of blue and add new screening, but it has gone this long without my doing anything to it. It will probably remain this way. When I was little, I had no idea why it was called a pie safe. I thought safes had solid walls with dependable locks. This safe has screens! I was quite silly, but then again, I did not understand the meaning of the “coffin house”–another story and different family.

Happy Gardening and I hope you have a safe day!

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It’s Time

from boiled-peanut-world.com

I have my first (and probably only) batch of peanuts boiling for this year. The rest of the family does not like boiled peanuts as much as me, but that’s ok. We must boil some each year—it is a ritual. I remember when living on the farm, I could not wait for the peanuts to fill out enough to eat. I waited all summer. The field that produced the best peanuts was right behind our house-so convenient ;). When they were ready we would pull a bunch, pull off the greens, wash them, and cook them…and cook them more. Yum, yum! One of the worst things about boiled peanuts is all of the salt. I’m not supposed to have salt, but I have to make an exception today. You can cut back on the salt, but what is the fun of that—just kidding? I did cut back about half the amount from usual.

My dad loved them, too, and when the peanuts were finished cooking, we would drain them, put them in an open newspaper, and go to town (eat). The best peanuts to me are the ones that are not quite filled to the end of the pod so they can absorb juice (salty water); soft nuts with an extremely soft shell; and salty. People tend to treat boiled peanuts like fruitcake–they either really like them or not. I like peanuts and fruitcake, by the way. If you want to try your hand at boiling peanuts, please visit http://www.boiled-peanut-world.com/how-to-boil-peanuts.html for all of the information you should need. Bon appétit!

Happy Gardening and may you enjoy all of the treats along the way!

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Today, this glass contraption is used as a sort of decoration, but in years past, it was used to catch flies. It has been in my family for many, many years-way more than 50 :). I have only seen it in ‘action’ 2-3 times that I can recall. The farmhouse had window screens when I was little but that was not always the case. Even later, the pesky little varmints would find their way inside.

There are two parts to the trap. Honey or sugar water was placed in the amber-colored base and the globe was reseated. Flies would enter the hole in the bottom and become trapped. I remember watching them fly around inside the globe. I have read that some people used some type of poison to kill the flies (mercury or arsenic or other), but I do not remember anything like such added during my lifetime. For the most part the fly catcher sat on the cupboard in the dining room of the old farmhouse, but when in use it sat in the middle of the dining room table.

I do not know the exact age, but I suspect that it belonged to my great-grandparents. They died in the 20s and 30s (1900s). It is pressed glass, and the base rim is marked, “Patent applied for.” The same term is found at the top of the globe, too. A very similar, almost exact trap, except for the colored base, was patented in 1890. Maybe someone knows about when it was made and would like to share. I would love to know.

Today, the fly catcher (I like catcher better than trap) sits on the Welch dresser my father made. The trap may not be the most valuable item I have, but it is very sentimental. Just think of the different inventions that made their way into our ancestors’ lives.

Happy Gardening every day of your life!

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Do you know what this is?

Perhaps you recognize this glass “contraption.” It was considered an almost necessity before window screens and air conditioning. I will write about it next time. Have a great week!

Happy Gardening in all aspects of your life!

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I will be darned

Darning or mending clothing is a way of life for many people. Not long ago, it was one of the ways we made do. I repaired everything. No hole was too big. Well, there was the time when hubby fell at the clay pit and put a giant hole in his new Levis, but it was repaired another way. I was reminded this week about my darning gourds when I was reading Rosemary’s blog entitled, Darning Socks, where she writes about darning a favorite pair of socks with her darning egg. I was intrigued because I have not used my gourds in a while. They sit on the Welch dresser along with other collections from the farm.

These are the two gourds that I use, but this is not the Welch dresser. The gourds are at least 50 years old, probably more. They belonged to my grandmother and great-aunt, the two on the left in the photo for The old family farm (photo only). These gourds can be used for about any darning need but work especially well with socks. As I continued to darn, the better my skill developed, but I had an issue. No matter which side I worked from, that underside of the garment would always look better. I even tried mending from the top of the item, but this has always been the case.

I hate throwing things away, especially clothes. I try to recycle and up-cycle as much as possible and laugh a little when I hear people speak about this new approach to living. There is nothing new about it.

Real darning gourds are usually home grown. I have not seen anyone selling them, but darning eggs can be purchased at your local craft or sewing store. They are also sold online. They are extremely helpful tools.

Happy Gardening and may you always be able to mend the holes in your life.

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The old family farm

The farmhouse on the old family farm was fairly simple when first built in the late 1800s. It replaced the one that burned about 1870-1880. The older house caught fire when someone left (hot) ashes on the steps. I don’t know the exact date it burned nor when it was built, but the land has been in the family since the early 1800s or possibly the late 1700s.

The new house had 2 rooms on each side of a central hall downstairs, 2 smaller rooms upstairs, and in the back of the house was a kitchen and side porch. There was also a front porch, but from my standpoint, a front porch is a ‘given.’ Changes to the back of the house were made later when the kitchen was expanded to include a sink-the luxury of running water-and a bathroom was added with real indoor facilities. A small screened porch was added, and the side porch was enclosed to make a den (living space). A gas heater was installed in the den and then later, a window unit air conditioner. This A/C unit was the only air conditioning the house ever had, and it was used only on extreme days.

Sisters in front of the old farmhouse

The purpose for the farmhouse was to serve as basic sleeping quarters-rest from days of hard work. My parents lived here for the first decade of their marriage, and it was my home for a few years before my dad finished building our house next door. The old farmhouse was his family’s ancestral home, and I spent a good deal of my time here with my great-aunt when I was growing up. Per photo aboveMy grandmother is the one in the middle and the one on the left is the great-aunt I spent so much time with after my grandmother passed away. I think this photo was taken about 1920. These were the only girls in the bunch. The rest were brothers-6 of them, but one died when he was little.

The outbuildings consisted of the post office, a storage building, a chicken house, another livestock building, a smokehouse, a potato house, a work shed, a single car garage (I believe it was post 1945), a larger garage with 3-4 bays (I believe that’s right), and a barn. Most of the barn was used for feed storage (like a corn crib) and the other part was for storage and livestock. Here is the layout of the complex:

A-House

B-Post office

C-Storage building

D-Chicken house

E- Livestock building

F-Smokehouse

G-Potato house

H-Work shed

I-Single-car garage

J-Large garage

K-Barn

The outhouse and another livestock building were both gone before my time and are not shown here. Also, the barn in the Sisters photo looks like a hay barn which was also gone before my time. The arc denotes the driveway. Part of the driveway encircled a large old oak tree — HUGE in my days – still young in the Sisters photo. The post office (B) was located just off of this circle in front of the house. The small circle to the right of the house was the old well.

Post Office in front of the old farmhouse

To see this ‘big’ complex you would think the family had lots of money, but what they had was plenty of strong will, lots of determination, and they knew how to make do. They also had friends and family who came together to help when needed. My family did the same. This sketch gives an idea of where everything was located. Each building was an important part of daily life and helped keep the family as much as self-sustaining (subsistence farming) as they could be, and each building has a story in my life.

Happy Gardening and I hope you are able to save your memories from days of old!

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