Friday, July 28, 2017


Eleven years ago I wrote my first blog post on Farm Muse. It was about pickles. My second post was just a day later (on July 7, 2006) and it was also about pickles. So guess what I was doing today. Yup, making pickles!

It wasn't a great year for cucumbers on the farm, so I hoped maybe I wouldn't have to make any pickles. Silly me. With only two quarts of pickles left in the cupboard from last year, I knew I'd have to do something. Weldon can't live without his sweet pickles. Maybe Mom Edith still has some in her basement from previous years.

My younger daughter had been with us on the farm since late January, making a huge move from New York to France. We were busy. We had stuff to do. Pickles weren't on the to-do list. But, Mom and Pat to the rescue. (And I didn't even know I needed rescuing!) They started two gallon jars for me and passed them into my care on July 17. Truly, I was thankful. They're so thoughtful. And kind. And helpful.

These pickles don't happen overnight. First the cucumbers are picked and washed, then packed into gallon jars and covered with boiling water. Days 2 through 5 you drain off the water and then cover the cucumbers with fresh boiling water again. On Day 6 you pour off the water and this time add alum to the fresh boiled water. On Day 7 you drain the water from the jars and this time cover the cucumbers with vinegar and add a little bag of pickling spices. Now the jars sit for nine days and you don't have to do anything with them. Yay!

Today was Day 16. Pickle-making day. I took pictures. Because a blog is no fun without pictures. Some of you may have quit reading already. Such boring stuff. But, hang on. Pictures are here!
My first year (2006) I did SIX gallons. Impressive.
Today, Day 16. All cucumbers sliced thinly and covered in sugar. Lots of sugar.
The bowls of sugared "pickles" are covered and left to sit until the sugar dissolves.
When the sugar has dissolved (sometimes with the help of a little stirring) the pickles are packed into jars.

The jars are lowered into the hot water bath canner.
After 20 minutes, the jars are removed from the canner.
Tah Dah! 6 quarts of sweet pickles for the sweet farmer.
The way Weldon goes through these pickles, I'm thinking I'll still have to go check out Mom Edith's basement to see if she has some left from previous years. But this is definitely better than nothing.

Saturday, July 01, 2017

TORNADO 5/24/17

I smile and laugh a lot and probably use too many emojis but, other than that, I'm not a very emotional person. Yet I'm sitting here boohooing, scrolling through photo after photo of the aftermath of the tornado that swept across the farm on May 24.

As we walked around, while the tornado was twisting its way to other locations, I kept saying, "Unbelievable!" "Amazing!" "I can't believe it!" In those first moments, there was simply no way to process all we were seeing.

Without further ado, here are a few pics.

Left side of front yard.

This is the road to the neighbor's house. Yes, that's Weldon standing in the road!

The farm road heading to the main road.

The line of trees below the pond had their tops twisted off, but this photo doesn't show it very well.
After surveying the damage, it was time for supper. By lamplight, of course. No power.

Then, out for further investigation.

Back of the house.

Front yard.
That night (Wednesday), Weldon hooked up the generator so he could milk the cows and his mom and sister could have electricity. Electricity or no, work crews started showing up on Thursday morning.

Power lines along our road had to be replaced.

This old Rambler has sat amongst the trees for years, but now the trees are resting on it!
The root balls on these old trees were huge! I guess that makes sense, but still ....

Putting up a new electric pole at the house.

Patching the 4 holes in the roof.

Other than trees, no lives were lost. No farm buildings were seriously damaged. The house will need to be re-roofed, but that will wait for another day. Electricity was back on about 5pm Thursday.

Weldon needed a mental and physical break on Friday, so we drove around to see some other local damage. Again, Amazing! Unbelievable! Ice cream from the Dairi-O was good medicine.

On Saturday, May 27, with the help of 14 friends, neighbors, and family members, we worked our butts off and made some good progress on cleaning up the yard and fields. We cannot say "Thank you" enough for all the help. I was working too hard to get any pictures, but I had to take a selfie:
Enjoying some cold Cheerwine.
At 10:00 that very night there was a huge lightning strike. HUGE! BAM!! We kept electricity at our house, but no phone or wi-fi. Weldon's mom and sis and the milk parlor were without electricity and the generator wouldn't work on the pole like it used to. Weldon figured a way to connect the generator right into the milk parlor and, voila! he could milk cows on Sunday morning ... much later than usual, but they got milked. After lots of phone calls and offers, Mom Edith's house was set up with a big generator to keep the refrigerators and freezers running.

On Monday, the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) and some guys from church were here to clean up the downed trees along the fence lines and around the ponds. Electricians worked on the pole in Edith's yard. Men worked to get the milk parlor and milk tank up and running. Whew!

On Wednesday, May 31, the whole farm had electricity, phone, and internet. To celebrate the return to normal, I picked black raspberries and made the first pie of the season. Yay!
I'm hoping that experiencing a tornado (particularly its aftermath) has changed me. It touched some part of me that's hidden way inside. Feelings. Emotions. We lost nothing, but I realized all that could have been lost. I hope that now, when someone asks me to pray, I'll pray with more sympathy, more compassion, more heart. Stuff that people go through is real. May my prayers be just as real.

So, that's that. It's be a very farm muse kind of post, hasn't it? Thanks for reading. Thanks for caring.