Critter Stories · Farmtastic Stories

Rearranging Equals Chaos

Last weekend, Cowboy and I (umm mostly I) had the bright idea to rearrange the bedroom furniture.  Since the arrival of Max, the golden retriever who also insists on snuggling in bed, we’ve been toying with the idea of a king size bed.  It’s getting seriously crowded.  And let’s just avoid the whole  why-don’t-you-just-make-them-get-down discussion.  If you’ve followed us for any amount of time, you know that is just not how we roll around here.

So off we went scooting, shifting, and shoving to see if we could find an arrangement that would work, and that we would like just as much.  Truth is, Cowboy is quite the genius when it comes to space arranging (what can’t that man do). And after some newly discovered dust bunnies and the removal of an excess piece or two, we found just the new setup that worked.

I was delighted!  I wandered in and out of the room all day admiring our work. It really was a smart design.  In fact so smart, I was thinking, “Wow, maybe we should have had it this way all along.”  And then it was was bedtime.

Holy cats (and dogs)! You would have thought we moved into a whole new house, bought new furniture, and introduced a gaggle of new smells.  In came our canine and feline friends and they all lost their collective mind.  Our critters have a routine, and they know exactly where they fit and go at night.  It’s like a giant jigsaw puzzle.  Every piece has its place.    Not tonight. Nope, not happening.

All of a sudden, instead of the normal two to three dogs in bed, we had four.  Given that three of them weigh over 60 lbs., Cowboy and I were left scratching our heads trying to figure out where in the world we would fit.  We tried rearranging them, but they just kept panicking.  Climbing on top of pillows, scrambling over blankets, and just generally acting a fool.  Children!

My Farmtastic Life - All the Dogs In Bed
Seriously – where is there room for humans? Of course Goober’s current collar situation does not help, not one little bit. But those faces? Oh those faces!

Cowboy and I stood there laughing at them, and taking bets (err… ummm, volunteering) as to who would go sleep in the guest room.  After 30 minutes to an hour of settling, reorganizing, and settling again, the pooches finally settled down.  And then the cats decided to make it a party.  Wedging themselves into free space, and by free space I mean vertical free space, perching on top of us.

Cowboy and I were both a wee bit pooped the next day.  And I seriously wondered if were were going to have to put the furniture back just to get some sleep.  Luckily, night two went better, and by nights four and five we regained our collective brain and settled back down into a routine.

Now I know animals love routine.  I’ve written about it before with the horses.  But good gravy what an unnecessary adventure.  I’m happy to report we have all settled down and the king size bed will indeed fit. Lord help us when that thing finally arrives, as I’m guessing it will be one more night of chaos.  Just one. I hope.

 

Lessons & Thoughts From the Farm

The Mutual Admiration Society

I’ve been a self proclaimed daddy’s girl my whole life, just ask my momma.  Whether we were riding bikes all over town, building science projects in the garage, or dancing in the living room, we were pals, friends, and playmates.

My Farmtastice Life Photo - Dancing with dad
Dad is a fantastic dancer – the one thing I didn’t inherit was his rhythm. But he humors me and last year we went to a ’50s dance and laughed all the way through.

In fact, my dad has called me his buddy all of my life, and to this day, he’ll throw his arm around my neck and whisper in my ear, “You’re still my buddy, aren’t you?”  Yes, a thousand times yes.

This week Dad turned 78 years old – it just doesn’t hardly seem possible.  I’m so grateful that he is still healthy, mischievous, and full of life.  In lots of ways, I’m his mini me.  From the awkward gate of my flat-footed walk to my wacky offbeat sense of humor.  Truth is,  there is nothing I love to do more than get him belly laughing and crying over the silliest of sillies.

Even growing up, I could wiggle myself out of trouble with the slightest of smiles.  More than once I got Dad to crack up, only to say, “Hey Dad, you can’t punish me if you’re laughing at me.”  We’d crumble into a heap of giggles.  Bless my poor mother, as this is not when she found either of us amusing, trust me.  Dad’s soft spot meant mom had to be the disciplinarian, and I’m so grateful she was.

Dad had to travel a lot for work, but when he was home he was a one-man jungle gym and entertainment center. I rode on his back to bed while he whinnied and neighed, most of the time busting up into giggles before we could make it down the hall.

He’d take me to his work as a mechanics training instructor on the weekends, where I’d set up his classroom, draw love notes on the board, and wheel around the shop on the creeper.  To this day the smell of grease and old books is a smell uniquely dad.

My Farmtastic Life Photo - Dad and horses
Dad dreamed of being a cowboy from the time he was a child. He loves nothing more than being around horses – and they love him.

Probably the greatest legacy he has given me is my love of all things four-legged. I swear that man would live in a barn and sleep on a bale of hay to be near a horse.  He loves to blow in their noses and soak up their scent.  He’s got a calm around the critters that I appreciate.

He’s our resident ranch hand around the farm when we need a watchful eye over the critters.  On those rare instances when Cowboy has not been here, I’ve called Dad to help me put medicine in a horse’s eye, de-skunk a dog (seriously not fun AT ALL), and even kill a snake or two.

Truth is that Cowboy and I took the risk to buy the farm because of stories Dad told about how he wanted to live in the country, but never quite got all the way there.  How in life sometimes you have to take a risk, so you don’t look back and wish you had.  We’ve had the land 10 years this summer and lived here for 7, and I really can’t imagine it any other way.  Another one of dad’s telltale fingerprints on my life.

My Farmtastic Life Photo - old family photo
Our little family – we were and continue to be a close little bunch. I can almost promise you that dad was making me laugh in this pic. Mom insisted he come to all picture sessions – she said it was the only way to guarantee I’d smile.

There are moments when I become fully aware of just how precious life is, and overwhelmed with gratitude for the rock my parents have always been.  Don’t get me wrong, life is not perfect.  We’ve had our arguments, hurt feelings, and frustrations, but above all I have always known how much I am loved.  For that, I am eternally grateful.

So as my dear dad starts his 79th trip around the sun this year, I watch in awe and wander at his kindness, his humor, and his love.   There is none other quite like him, and I’m so blessed that he is my dad. Momma has often called us the mutual admiration society, proclaiming that to be a member you must think the other walks on water.  And I guess that is true.  I love you, buddy!

Lessons & Thoughts From the Farm

Valentines Schmalentines

I got a text from Cowboy last week that said, “Happy National Spouses Day!” To which, I replied, “Who knew!” And my quick-witted better half quickly typed back, “Evidently I did.”

This is just one of the many exchanges we have that just makes me laugh and love him all the more.  As I’m sure I’ve covered in past posts, Cowboy is not much of a holiday guy. He’s more of a live-love-laugh-every-day guy.

To be fair, I can pretty well guarantee you that he was not waiting on pins and needles for this day.  He simply saw a post about it online and beat me to the punch.  He’s also one to poke you in the ribs at 2 a.m. on Christmas morning to wish you Merry Christmas and chuckle that he told you first.

It’s always been this way with us.  Laughter is a big part of what makes us tick.  And as you can probably tell by the way I write, I think humor is a darned important part of life.  I mean seriously, when you live with 16 critters it’s a requirement, not an option.

Which brings me to the fact that we are on the cusp of February – the month of love. You know the holiday I mean – the annual chocolate-rose-love fest known as Valentine’s Day.  Let’s face it, this day just requires a little humor.

Back in the early days (I mean like when my age started with the number two early days), I used to have silly expectations about the importance of this occasion.  As if a gift or a dinner or moment would feel extra special on this day.

My Farmtastic Life - Cowboy on a Tractor
Cowboy just doing what he does – taking care of us. Love!

Looking back this just flat out perplexes me, and these times were certainly not my finest hour.  The truth is that Cowboy loves me, and has always loved me, every single day.  He’s a man of actions, and not so much of words.  To prove my point even further, the song that always makes me think of him is the classic country tune, When You Say Nothing at All.

It’s the little everyday things that mean the most.  Like when he cares for the horses or washes the car or just knows when I need a hug.  He’s truly my better half.

While I’m sure he’ll be oh so delighted to make this appearance on the blog (he may be funny, but he’s also pretty private), I write this to all the gals and fellas out there that are setting themselves up with great expectations during this season of candy hearts and pink balloons.  Give your other half a break.

Look for the little things – like the special language only the two of you share.  Be grateful for each moment – even if it’s a 5-minute chat as you fold the laundry.  Most of all – laugh together.  Especially on Valentine’s Day, because seriously it’s a day whose mascot is a chubby baby with a bow and arrow.

P.S. – A version of this post was published in The Glen Rose Reporter under the title of Laugh, Love, and Laugh Some More.  This farmgirl is delighted to serve as a community columnist.

Lessons & Thoughts From the Farm

No Need for Kennels

First things first, I don’t write about politics.  I was recently told I could/should, and let the record show, that’s not my cup of tea.  I don’t talk about which side I am on, because I’m not much for taking sides.  End of story.  But I do love to write about the critters, and I’m always amazed at what we can learn from our critter friends.  And in this week of political crazy, it’s no different.  I don’t know about y’all, but I’m ready for my Facebook feed to go back to puppies, horses, and friends’ great family pics.  I’m also ready for the news to find something else to talk about.  Period.

Unless we are darn near besties, I’m not one to talk about politics.  As my momma taught me, discussing religion and/or politics in most situations is just not the most polite thing to do.  And while I truly love the Internet – it lets me share stories, keep up with friends, and have a livelihood – I do think we have forgotten how to be polite to each other when we are on it.  (Yes, I’m not the first one to make this revelation.  But I do think it’s worth noting again, given our short attention span these days.)

All of my life, I’ve had friends from all walks of life, who hold all manner of views – some far left, some far right, some sitting in the middle, and some clear off the reservation in their own little world.  But the fact is that I love them all – as my fellow human beings.  (It’s also a reason I don’t often fit into groups, but have friends across groups.  As I’ve been told in the past, I’m not a joiner.  But I digress … .)

Folks have a right to their views, and I respect that.  As long as you don’t force your views on me, I’m even willing to have a nice discussion.  I’ve always loved to learn what makes people tick.  (And yes, some of us are down right cuckoo clocks, but still, I find it interesting nonetheless.)

Which brings me back to the critters.  You see, the critters at the farm all have to learn to live together.  We’ve got cats and dogs, and we don’t separate them or kennel them for everyday living.  We’ve got mares and geldings (that’s girls and boys for my city friends), and we don’t tell them who’s boss or how to share or which one is better at running or opening gates or listening.  We let them figure it out.  And, miracle of miracles, they do so just fine.   Now don’t get me wrong, every once in a while someone hisses or kicks or bites, but it’s temporary.  They made their point, and they move on.

So I come full circle to social media, news, and all of our various ways to scream our point of view from the mountaintops.  Let’s all try to be a little more polite, a little gentler, and remember that all of our friends don’t always see things the way we do.  And honestly, isn’t that a blessing? I mean how boring would my life be if all my friends were just like me. Lord knows, one of me is enough.

So while it’s probably not realistic to ask everyone to keep their commentary to themselves, I would ask us all to find a little bit of politeness and  ask ourselves, “Is this really necessary? Is it kind? Does this help my friends truly see my point of view, and am I open to hearing theirs?  Does this alienate people I care about?”

We can all be true to ourselves and also be kind. I’ve never once in my life found that browbeating someone who does not think like I do to be a successful method to share my point of view.  In fact, it does just the opposite. (And trust me, I’ve been on the wrong end of some serious browbeating, and it did nothing more than make me dig my heals in, and I still carry the scars.)

So as we all go into this new era, for better or worse, no matter your side, let’s keep it civil. Now, I know every once in while there will be some kicking, hissing, and biting, but let’s keep it to a minimum.  Because, at the end of the day, we all have to live and work together, and no one wants to be put in a kennel.

My Farmtastic Life Photo - Maybelle and Willie
One of my favorite pics of an unlikely pair of friends – Maybelle as a crazy playful pup and Willie as a wise old crotchety kitty, rest her sweet soul. Maybelle made Willie a little more spry, and Willie taught Maybelle a few more manners. Sharing our life lessons – isn’t that what we want from each other?

P.S. – A version of this post was published in The Glen Rose Reporter.  This farmgirl is delighted to serve as a community columnist.

Critter Stories · Farm Life · Farmtastic Stories

10 Critters, the Bible, and a Bra

Cowboy and I live at the edge of tornado alley, and after a particularly close call in 2014, decided a storm shelter would be a good idea.  Of course, we pray that we will never actually need it, but it’s a comfort to have that steel box bolted deep into the foundation.  (Yes, we have an above ground job – I’m not looking to crawl into one those tomb like things people put in their garage floors.  No thank you!)

Which leads me to one of the first nights of the new year.  We’ve been waffling between hot and cold weather, as if mother nature is in the middle of a hot flash, a hottie, her own personal summer, or whatever granny calls it.  This also means severe weather is always a possibility.

We’d been watching the weather that day, which had been glorious, but knew storms were coming in from the west.  As the evening progressed, warnings started coming about potential straight line winds – up to 70 miles per hour.  We did our usual battening down of the hatches, which these days means making sure the pool side lounge chairs don’t become kites, and horse gates are latched open so the equines can move around at will.  (Goodness knows I’d love to have a storm shelter big enough for our horses, but honestly I’m not sure I’d want to be locked in there with them as a storm blew over.  That might be a storm all on its own.)

Well, at 3 a.m., the time of all good storms, I woke up with my heart pounding as I heard a giant bang. Thunder! The wind chimes were blowing furiously, and I looked out the window just in time to see of one of our rocking chairs go flying off the porch. (Dang it, we clearly needed to do more battening.)  I heard the sounds of small hail starting to pelt our metal roof.  Hemming and hawing for all of about two minutes,  I decided it was time to put ourselves in the shelter.  (You do remember, we have 4 dogs and 6 cats, and you can bet your bottom dollar, if we’re going in the shelter they are, too!)

Let me paint you a picture.  It’s  3 a.m., I’m clad in pink heart pajamas, and we are about to start an indoor rodeo roundup.  First up – cats! I bound up the stairs to grab Nightmare, where I know his favorite hiding spot is.  Into the first cat kennel.  Door locked. Next! Moving on to the big boy, Rhinoceros.  Oh man, I haven’t had him in a kennel for a little while; that took some shoving.  (Note to self, he might need to graduate to the big boy kennel.) Then it was time for Shadow and her crew of boys.  As Cowboy says, thank goodness God gave cats tails for handles.  One, two, three, four – all shoved into one giant kennel. Now they normally lay together all day, but like most children, force them to play nice and there is hissing, swatting, and growling.

Finally, it’s time to add the pooches.  On Dixie, on Goober, on Maybelle, and Max –  yes it feels like you are calling Santa’s reindeer there are so flipping many of them.  Herding them all into the shelter with the promise of treats, the last one entered just in time for us to shut the door and lock our little family in place. (Oh gosh, this is also when I remember that Nightmare likes to hide presents in the storm shelter. Please Lord, let there be not one little half eaten mouse in here with us.)

My Farmtastic Life - Dogs and cats in storm shelter
All tucked into the storm shelter – there were 3 cat kennels stacked on top of each other – effectively creating a tower of cat. We were standing up against the wall – wouldn’t want to crowd the critters. (And yes, Goober is in there, too. See the tip of his tail on the bottom right.)

And then you hear it. The panting, the whining, the banging of tails, as you realize you are in a 12-by-4-foot  steel box with 10 critters!  Are we sure this was really a great idea? Dogs are sniffing cats, cats are doing that dreadful cry they do when you drive them to the vet, and everyone is just confused.  Of course Max, the golden retriever, just lays down and takes a nap in the middle of it all, because seriously, in case you missed, it is 3 a.m.

But then I looked around at all of those noses, paws, and ears, and I was grateful.  We were all safe in our box.  And I was praying the horses would use all of their God-given instincts to stay safe.

Adjusting to the dim light, I smiled at what else I saw.  Before bed, I had the presence of mind to put our Bible in the shelter, because nothing comforts better than that. Oh, but I did mention a bra in the title, right?  Why, pray tell, am I talking about unmentionables?

All of us good southerners know that we are dreadfully misrepresented on the news when there is a natural disaster.  For whatever reason, the news can spot a shirtless, toothless, shoeless fella a mile away.  Well, this southern farmgirl was not going to have it. If, heaven forbid, we lost it all, I was at least going to emerge from the shelter dressed in something other than jammies.  So yes, before we went to bed, when forecasters were warning of storms, and winds, and danger, I was busy tossing the necessities into the shelter, which any lady will tell you, definitely includes a bra.  Which also guarantees, we would not be on the news.  Amen-glory-hallelujah for that!

After 10 minutes of howling winds, the edge of the front moved on and we were left with simple rain and no real damage. Thank you, Lord!  But I realized something in that box.  When it comes right down to grabbing the things you absolutely must have in this life, the list is preciously small.  (And yes, there is always room for a bra.)

 

Farmtastic Crafting · Lessons & Thoughts From the Farm

Cultivate a Vision

I’m a consummate list maker.  Heck, even my lists have lists.  To be fair, I come by this trait honestly, as my momma is probably one of the most organized people I know.  When Cowboy and I got married, A LONG TIME AGO, you should have seen the lists my momma carried around, and it worked.  It was a perfect day for us.

So as we go into 2017, you might imagine that I’m in full on list mode.  But the truth is, a list of New Year’s resolutions always baffles me.  Of course, I could, like most folks, add the usual suspects – eat less, exercise more.  But that also brings out my recovering perfectionist side.  The moment I miss a workout or a piece of chocolate just throws itself into my mouth, my brain screams epic fail.  One of my dearest pals subscribes to the notion of a theme.  He picks a theme for the year, like adventure, and focuses his efforts on making progress against the theme.  I’ve always admired that, and even tried it, but once I get past January and a couple of journal entries, it’s c’est la vie to the theme.

My Farmtastic Life - Vision Board in Progress
Clipping away – I ended up with more words than room, which forced me to get down to my faves. Also, you will make a mess. It’s okay – just enjoy the process!

Which brings me to Cowboy.  (Good gravy how I love that man!)  Cowboy is not big on the holidays of any kind, never has been.  And while at first that might make you go, “Awe, shucks.  Really?”  I’ve come to love this about him. He’s been known to say, “Why focus on <fill in the holiday of your choice>, when you can experience love/gifts/joy all year round.  What would you rather?”

So that got me thinking about New Year’s and a way to do a little something to mark the occasion that would work for me and alleviate my need to check things off and truly just live – live in the moment. Enter the vision board. While I had never done one before, I had heard about them from friends and usually equated them to grand things you’d like to accomplish like buying a new home or getting that next promotion at work.

I didn’t read up on how to do them or take a class, which is monumental for this girl who loves to know how first – think of me as that lovable 4-year-old asking why and how.  Instead I just bought a frame, some scrapbook paper, some stickers, and picked through my magazine stash and starting clipping out words, phrases, and pictures that meant something to me.  And what I found was that it wasn’t really the big things.  In fact, it’s the little things, and a lot of them I already do.  What I was thinking about as I snipped, arranged, and glued was cultivating the vision for the life I wanted to live this year.  Loving Cowboy and this farmgirl life I get to live.  Writing more stories, crafting, cooking, digging in the dirt.  Sharing moments and treasuring those special friends that I hold close in my heart.  Giving back, paying it forward, and being a woman of faith and grace.

Sometimes the new year does not need to bring monumental change, but rather a reminder to live the lives we were meant to live each day.  As Cowboy would say, happy new day.

My Farmtastic Life - 2017 Vision Board
The finished product – so many words that just speak to my soul. Wishing you all a blessed 2017!

P.S. – If you’d like to make a vision board, here are a couple of tips if you also have an inner 4-year-old.

A few things you’ll need:

My Farmtastic Live - Vision Board Supplies
Some of my favorite vision board supplies – really you can use anything you’d like.
  • A frame – I chose 11″x14″ but any size will work
  • Magazines or books you are willing to cut up with abandon
  • Scissors – the ones that make decorative edges are my favorites
  • Glue stick
  • Scrapbook or craft paper to be your base
  • Stickers, stamps, markers

To get started:

  1. Cut your paper to the size of your frame.  I had to tape two pieces together.  Don’t worry, if you’re like me you’ll have so much on your board the seam will never show.
  2. Cut out words, photos, images that make you smile and speak to your heart.
  3. Arrange and glue.
  4. Frame and place in a spot where you’ll be sure to appreciate it.

If you decide to make a vision board, we’d love to see it, so please share away.

P.S. – A version of this post was published in The Glen Rose Reporter under the title of Happy New Day.  It’s the first in a monthly column I’ll be doing for the paper as a community columnist.  A dream come true for this farmgirl!

Adventures Away From the Farm · Farmtastic Stories

A Tourist In My Own Town

I’ve had a love affair with adorable town squares for as long as I can remember.  Cowboy has often said the unicorn I am hunting in life is a grand old farmhouse on a hundred acres in the middle of a town square.  (Yes, most definitely a unicorn!)

Glen Rose dinosaur bench
Sit a spell in Glen Rose.

But I have to say that where we live now, just outside our quaint little town at the tippy top of the Texas hill country, is just about perfect. We’re just a hop, skip, and a jump from the Glen Rose town square – filled with delightful shops, good eats, and quirky findings that make it special.

Track in Time Too
Tracks in Time Too is one of my favorites – filled with industrial, farmhouse, and just plain fun finds.

Whenever Cowboy and I have guests, we often take them into town and show them all that is Glen Rose. Heck, we used to be those tourists dreaming of finding our own spot. So on this gloriously sunny, albeit slightly windy day, with a little time off, I decided to be a tourist in my own town. Just me, myself, and I.

I drove on down to the square, promptly parked the Jeep, and hopped out with a spring in my step.  No time clock. No agenda.  Just me and the town I’ve come to love.  I wandered from shop to shop – trying on clothes, laughing at funny signs, looking through stacks of old books and farmhouse antiques.

Paisley Reese
New to the square – cowgirl chic Paisley Reese was filled with unique and fun clothes.

The shop keepers were all gracious as they asked if I needed help, shared their post Christmas sales, and wished me Happy New Year.  There were quaint little parks and tucked in between buildings and historic old structures still decked out with holiday flair. And when you really looked, you could see that our little treasured square holds genealogy secrets, dinosaur footprints at the museum (yes, we are the dinosaur capital of Texas), and art galleries.  How perfectly farmtastic! There is just something about a square that makes this farmgirl’s heart sing.

River House Grill
One of my favorite good eats – The River House Grill. The Harvest Flatbread is DIVINE!

Sometimes it’s easy to miss what’s right in front of us with all the glory of the Internet and ease of Amazon.  (Don’t get me wrong, I’m the first to admit that Amazon Prime can change a farmgirl’s life. You can even order a muck rake online; trust me, I’ve done it).  But today was not about the pure task of shopping, it was about the act of experiencing where I live.  Talking to people, supporting the town, and basking in gratefulness.  Because I am exactly where I am meant to be.

As you get ready to jump into 2017, I encourage you to take a look around at where you are and become a tourist in your own town.  Maybe you live in a big city and have amazing museums or restaurants.  Maybe you live in the suburbs with walking and biking trails that just spur the imagination.  Wherever you are, find the beauty.

And if you ever find yourself in Glen Rose, stop by the square and do a little strolling.  It’s good for the soul.