Thursday, November 20, 2014

What Not To Buy Your Children For Christmas

I know we haven't had Thanksgiving yet but I also know the reality of it is many are already doing their Christmas shopping.

After watching television for a little bit I had a thought, I thought about the things we shouldn't buy our kids for Christmas.

Have you noticed the toy or educational commercials lately?

Have you really listened to or looked at them?

I  am always struck with the picture they give.

Now first of all don't read what I'm not saying, I don't think there is a thing wrong with a child being able to entertain themselves, I think it is an important thing to learn but I also think as humans we are prone to go to far one way or the other.

We all have to agree we live in a time that is different from any in history.

We spend less time with our children than any parents before us.

Truth is that means we have less time to speak into their lives than any parents before us.

We have done this so long we have lost sight of what we are doing.

We see commercials that show us a little one sitting alone in the living room playing with her toy/computer that is teaching her to read.

Her mother peaks around the corner to see her, smiles and goes back to what she is doing and the child is alone.

We buy snuggle blankets because it's a fact a little baby needs snuggled, but because we're so busy we buy a blanket to do it for us.

Now there is a time that those things are okay but the danger is we let them take over and it breeds selfishness in us.

It gets easy to let a toy teach our children or a blanket snuggle them so we can facebook or text or cook or visit or whatever we want to do.

Be aware of the things you buy this Christmas.

Buy things that will promote togetherness.

Buy toys that will get you on the floor playing with your babies, a blanket that will begin to smell like you because you spend some time each day just sitting snuggling your baby in it.

We have got to stop delegating our parenting to teachers, coaches, sitters, daycare and grandparents, and even toys and entertainment.

So back to the point, when you shop this year, shop for family items.  buy somethings that will unite your family, not separate it.

We have got to guard out family time, we can't keep giving it away.

The title of this blog was "What Not To Buy Your Children For Christmas",  but maybe we should end it with a question.

Maybe we should ask,  "How Will You Spend Time With Your Children This Christmas?"

Don't give the time away to a toy or anyone else.

Start a list today, not a to buy list or a stressful to do list, just a loving list, a list of little ways you love.

It's the best gift you will ever give for them and for yourself and it will be what they tell about when years from now the conversation turns to Christmas' of long ago.

Monday, November 10, 2014

When The Preacher Comes To Dinner

The preacher was coming to dinner and so I was up early preparing the meal and doing last minute things.

I had a couple of things to put away but being in  a hurry I just threw them in our bedroom on the bed.

When I got ready to dry my hair I was in a hurry so I just threw the wet towel on the bed.

I dressed, left the room and shut the door.

I wasn't worried, I mean who would be in there anyway.

So after church I  went home before Mark so I could get things on the table and when Mark and the preacher, we'll call him Frank got here we sat down to eat.

This was back when Lucas had his long hair,  so Frank was at one end of the table and Lucas was at the other. Frank  asked Lucas if he had ever considered going to Bible College, Lucas looked at him, looked at the bowl of mashed potatoes he was passing, flipped his head to shake the hair out of his eyes and said, "No."

I cleared my throat and asked if anyone needed more gravy.

Then Mark said, "Honey, Frank said he likes to lay down and take a nap after he eats and so I said he could lay down in our room."

I started to choke,  I smiled and choked out, "Ooh  yes, that will be fine."

I was in a panic.

How could I get into the bedroom and get it ready?

What was I going to do.

Finally Frank got up and said he was going to go freshen up so as soon as he got in the bathroom I flew into the bedroom.

I picked up the towel and to my horror there was a big wet spot on the sheet.

I threw stuff in the closet.

Mark came in and said,  "Honey, isn't it nice we can do this, isn't it nice he can rest here?
I shot daggers at him with my eyes but  I must have missed because he never noticed.

I hissed , "Help me get the bed fixed!"

Somehow we got it done, the room was fresh and ready and Frank went in and took a nap.

I went to the basement and had a nervous breakdown.

I don't through my wet towels on the bed anymore.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

RHONDA'S TWINKIE CAKE

Sometimes you just need a simple, quick dessert and this is one that works every time.

I got this recipe out of our family cookbook.

Rhonda Albertson, my cousin, I won't get into the once or twice removed stuff I'll just say my dad and Rhonda's mom, Regina are first cousins.

When I was a girl Rhonda was already married and lived across the field from us.

We spent a lot of time at her house and one of my favorite memories of her is the bike rides she would take us on.

We would start out from home there on Bear Creek, go to Martinsburg, down Dutch Creek Road, be on the highway for just a few feet and then turn onto Old Palmyra Road. We finished the ride by stopping at Frank and Regina's,  that's Rhonda's folks.

Which is worthy of a whole other blog, Frank and Regina's house was used as a stop off during the days of the underground railroad.

I remember going down in the basement and seeing the place it had long been walled up but you could still see the place where it was, their farm was mentioned in our history books at school because of this and of course I thought that was big stuff.

So now, I guess you see why  when I make this cake I think of Rhonda,  and how she loved to work outside, you would find Rhonda in a hay field sooner than you would in the kitchen, she loved and still does love sports and outdoor work.

I never asked her but I'm thinking that might be why she shared this one,  it's easy yet good.

You, like Rhonda used to do,  can make an impressive dessert and still have time to get to the game or get the last of the hay unloaded.

I know it's a common recipe, one you may already have, but if not give it a try,  I think you will enjoy it.

TWINKIE CAKE

1 yellow cake mix baked as the package directs,  (see I told you, easy peasy)

If you use a 9x13 pan for a real twinkie look slice the cake into lengthwise, and spread the filling on the bottom layer and lay the other layer on top.

I just made a round cake because it's easier for me to store.

Filling,  (let's face it, this is the important part)

1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1 cup Crisco (solid)
1 stick butter (real butter is best)
1/4 cup milnot

You can store in fridge and I do but I like to set it out and take the chill off before I serve it.


Friday, November 7, 2014

I Knew I Didn't Like Him

Several of you have asked about Mark and I and how we met.

I know I've told some of it before but I'll share in this blog some of how we came to be.

To start with we rode the same school bus.

I can still see Mark, his twin brother Mike and their sister Karen waiting at the end of the lane when the bus pulled up.

I didn't like him,  I never did.

I had an assigned seat with his sister Karen and that was the year a lot of people from New Albany starting moving out to the eastern part of the county and our bus got really overcrowded

So it was Mark's sister, Karen, another girl and two kindergartner girls.  Someone had to hold the two little ones on their lap, Karen was the oldest so she said she wasn't going to do it so the other girl and I did.

This still makes me laugh because if you know Karen you know she is just one of the most giving sweet people you would ever want to meet yet she made us hold those girls and one of them wet on me.
No kidding.

But back to Mark,  my folks sold their farm and moved across the county line.

I had to change schools and that was traumatic to me. I hated it and thought I would never make friends but of course I did.

The place mom and dad bought is the same place they live now,  it is exactly 3.5 miles from the end of mom and dad's driveway to the beginning of Mark's mom and dad's  driveway.

So with the change of school I sort of lost out on Mark but I didn't even care, I didn't even like him enough to notice I had lost out on him.

Fast forward a couple of years and we meet up again, we meet because he was dating one of my best friends.

I still didn't like him and he didn't like me either which made it awkward because we were together often.

I told Cindy I didn't like him she should break up with him, he told Cindy he didn't like me and she should stop hanging around with me.

I don't know why, don't need to know why but at some point Mark and Cindy broke up and time goes on by.

Then one Wednesday evening after Bible study all of the teens were standing around talking, somehow the conversation got around to weight and the guys started trying to guess how much the girls weighed, this was stupid.

Mark looked at me and guessed my weight,  I was simply mortified, of all the nerve.

I went home stomped in the living room and told my dad what he had done and not only had he guessed but he was right on it and I was no light weight.

Dad laughed and said, "well he is an old hog farmer, he knows how to judge weight."

That made me even  more upset.

Men!!!

Then Christmas time came and they took the youth group to the St. Matthews Mall in Louisville to see the light and Christmas decorations.

Mark was already out of school and I was a junior.

He shouldn't have even came, he was to old but as I said, I didn't like him, now you know why,  he was pushy.

As the night goes on, you won't believe what happened.

Mark winked at  me.

I was shocked, I couldn't be sure that it really even happened but the girls with me told me it did.

Then it happened again,  my friends told me to wink back.

I gasped, I could never do such a thing,  I had been raised better than that.  My mother would have a heart attack if I dare do such a a brazen thing.

But I did it.

The next time he winked, with my friends urging me on, I winked back.

He said,  "I have something in my eye."

WHAT?!!!!!!  SOMETHING IN HIS EYE!!!!

I'm not kidding you, this is no lie,  that is exactly what he said.

I knew I didn't like him.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

THERE IS JUST SOMETHING ABOUT A DOG

There is just something about a dog.

When we were kids we had a German Shepherd.

His name was Tippy.

I was always a little afraid of him although he never gave me cause to be.

As a matter of fact he was very protective of my brothers and I.

Once my dad was going to give my brother a spanking in the yard and Tippy got after him so Dad rethought it.

I remember we had a man combining once and his combine caught on fire and he was coming off of the combine and Tippy started in after him and he climbed back up on the burning combine.

He never liked the man who delivered our coal and he really didn't like men in general.

Once we had a tobacco base leased at a neighbors and when we went to work there Tippy followed along.

They had a German Shepherd as well and it was white.

Tippy and their dog, King got in a fight.

Now granted we were the visitors and Tippy was the one who didn't belong there and I acknowledge that right up front.

When the dogs started to fighting the owner of the other dog, a woman started yelling, "Kill him King, Kill him.

I was a little girl but I remember that.

I was scared anyway but I can still see that lady in my mind she was all into it and I knew it was wrong to be saying that.

I was just a girl and I knew our dog was the one that didn't belong but I also knew we would have never hollowed out such a thing.

We were concerned for both dogs.

Dad took care of the dog fight and we took our dog home.

Mom and Dad talked about it and I learned a lot from listening. I learned a lot about being a neighbor.

Mark, the kids and I had a Blue Heeler, we got him at the pound and he was the best dog ever.

We named him  Bear but we pronounced it Bar.

When the kids were little we would ride back in the field in the truck to see the cows and he would follow along with us he would jump up in front of us snapping at flies or bugs or what have you.

Then he got to where he wanted to bite the tires while Mark was driving.

One day the kids and I were working in the greenhouse and Mark left, it wasn't wrong before he was back and as soon as he came in the greenhouse I knew something was wrong.

He had ran over Bar and killed him.

Mark cried and we cried.

We buried  him in the back yard.

We didn't have many dogs after that but Mark roofed a house and a man had a Beagle dog and he gave him to Mark.

We named her Mimi.

Mark hated that.

He said a man should not have to go to the vet and say out loud that his Beagle dog was named, "Mimi."

Mimi had Runt. Runt's dad was the neighbors dog.

Then we got Noah, Heidi's Chocolate Lab.

They are both getting old now and this winter is going to be hard on them.

Then Foxey came.

Liv picked her out on line and we went to the airport to get her.

Now that was a major deal for us, you see we just aren't the sort of people who pay for a dog and then drive all the way to Louisville, Kentucky to pick it up at the airport.

But we are those kind of people now.

We love Foxey in a way I would have thought was crazy until we became crazy.

Then Jessica got Charlene and she was so funny and cute  but she died in the summer and now Jess has Lucy Lou.

She called and face timed with her dad tonight so he could watch Lucy play and whistle to her over the phone.

When Olivia is here and Lucy hears her talking through the phone she jumps at the phone.

Long story short, dogs play a big  part in our lives don't they?

Almost everyone has a story about a dog,

They protect us and comfort us and they love us no matter what.

As I was typing this, Lucas came downstairs and looked out on the porch to see Foxey sleeping in a flowerpot,  he opened the door and told her to come in.

No she is sleeping in the foyer without a care in the world.

She is fat, furry, healthy and  happy.

I can't help but think as I look at her lying there that just like I said before,

there is just something about a dog.

What about you, don't you agree?

Do you have a story?


Saturday, October 25, 2014

We're A Family Farm, Not A Company Farm

I've been asked if we are a company farm several times so I thought I would just take this opportunity to say, No, we are not a company farm.

We grow chickens, broilers, for Tyson.

We are with the Corydon, Indiana complex, one of the top complexes in the country.

Now it is true that several years ago Tyson had company farms, there were some near us.

A company farm meant Tyson owned the land, the barns, and the chickens and they would hire someone to take care of the farm, often times it would be a family.

Well it didn't take Tyson long to know what most of us already know, a company owned farm just doesn't produce as well.

When they compared the company farms to the family farms the family farms by and large out preformed the company farms in both the quality of birds and the upkeep of the farm.

So they did away with all of the company farms and now all of their producers are family farms.
Well, in our area that's the way it is anyway.

What does it mean to be a family farm that raises chickens for Tyson or as some say, under contract?

It's simple really, it means we own the farm, we owned this place long before we ever started raising chickens for Tyson.

It means we are the ones who had to get the loan  and permits to build the buildings, we have to pay the insurance and the taxes on the buildings and the land, we pay all the utilities save a gas bonus Tyson does give us during the winter months.

Tyson does not own any part of our farm.

I guess to make it simple you could say they are paying us to use our farm, or to grow their chickens.

We don't own the birds, they belong to Tyson.

They belong to them but we care for them.

If the alarm goes off on a winter night telling us the birds, (Tyson always refers to the chickens as the birds), are  cold, Mark gets up and goes out to make sure things are taken care of so they get warmed up.

The same in the summer, if it is 90 plus degrees outside and the birds are big  and can't handle the heart, it isn't Tyson who is here keeping them cool, it's us.

If the pump goes down and there is a water problem it's us not Tyson who fixes it.

Sometimes people think that because you are a bigger producer you don't care for your animals.

That simply isn't true, oh now I know there are a few who don't do a good job, that is true of small operators as well, it's true in every profession.

But Mark and the other farmers that I know, and I know a lot of them are caring for their birds.

Sure they care because they are going to get paid for it, I mean if they don't grow well we won't make as much so we want them to do well because it's how we make our living , we're chicken growers but that isn't all it is.

They want what's best for the animals and they want to see their farm cared for in the best possible way. 

It is to the farmers benefit to see that his farm and buildings are kept in good shape.

He is building a legacy,  a homeplace, he has something to hand down, a family name to honor.

He wants to do a good job for Tyson and he appreciates the opportunity they give him but in his mind he isn't building Tyson, in his mind he is building a family and a farm and that family contributes to the community and the community to the county and the county to the state and the state to the country and that is why we are called the American Farmer, not the Company Farmer.

God Bless the Farmers the world over!!

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Did You Ever Know What It Was To Love The Land?

Did you ever know a place so well you could feel it and smell it even when you weren't there?

I have.

I think a farm has a great way of impacting a person that way.

I can still see the farm fields I walked in as a girl.

I can still feel the way the summer heat beat down on the pasture, drying the grass and packing the cow paths.

I can still see the hinges on the fence post that the gates swung on and I remember how it felt in the woods and the way it smelled in the spring, summer, winter and fall.

Not only our farm but my grandparents place as well.

They had a marvelous big barn.

There was a large wooded work bench or table with drawers.  There were wooden ladders going to the loft and a wooden peg with feed sack ties hung on it.  Lots of burlap bags and pitch forks.

There was a corncrib and a hand corn sheller in it.

The tobacco barn was tall and long and had rows and rows of poles that my uncles climbed up as they hung tobacco.

There was a tobacco press and a long table that them men worked at pulling the leaves off and grading each one.

The cows had a path to the pond and around the top of the bank.

There was a hand pump between the house and the pond and I remember going there with Grandma to get water.

It seems I can remember every detail of the woven wire fence that was outside the kitchen window and behind the grape arbor.

The porch was a cistern top and Grandpa would sit there and smoke his pipe or cigar in the evening.

I can feel it all.

It's crazy how a piece of land or a barn or even a shed can get into you like that.

How you can know and recall every part of it.

Now I hear my kids telling stories about this place, about our barn and our ponds.

They tell about playing in the loft and using sow crates to make playhouses out of.

Climbing trees and scaring each other in the woods.

This place has got into them the very same my childhood home got into me.

There is just something about a piece of land, or a pond or a barn, it is almost like your life blood.
It gets in you and it never leaves.

My dad always told us kids if a man has a piece of land he has something.

I know dad meant he can provide for himself, he has a place to belong, he has roots and a foundation.

I realize more each day how right he was.

I hope somewhere in your past or somewhere in your future you will be blessed to know what it is to love the land.