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Should my child take riding lessons is a question asked of me often. My answer is always the same, YES! If you have a place to keep a horse, great, but your child needs riding lessons unless, you, yourself are an expert and can teach them. Connecting with someone who knows all about horses is beneficial in many ways. It’s not about learning to mount a horse and staying on. A good riding facility, with a good instructor , will connect you with a community of horse lovers, provide contacts with important people such as veterinarians and farriers, and possibly help you buy or lease your child’s first horse.
I loved horses and wanted my own as early as I can remember. It’s my experience, most little girls love ponies, but usually grow out of it. That wasn’t the case for me. I pleaded over and over with my parents to buy me a horse. My father grew up on a farm and used horses to work. He shared my love for horses, however, he left it behind when he married and started a family. He always said raising children becomes more important when you become an adult. Horses became animals of pleasure after machinery replaced them on the farm. . We didn’t live on a farm, ,but we had a place for a small pasture and shelter for a horse.
My father, gave in and started with the purchase of a small, red pony. He came complete with a saddle, and bridle. Problem number one; I was only seven years old. Problem number two; the pony wasn’t broken to ride. My father did what he learned as a child. He called several people in the neighborhood and asked them to come and break him in. They jumped at the challenge and our yard filled with teenage boys and men who got their thrills from taming wild animals. The plan failed.. That pony was as stubborn as anything my dad had ever seen , he told us. He wouldn’t dare turn me loose on the pony, but he saddled him and led me around on him. I wasn’t happy, the pony wasn’t happy, and my father really wasn’t happy after the pony had bitten him several times. He sold the pony and waited for a couple of years to try again.
Pony number two came after my uncle informed my dad I needed a small horse, because ponies are stubborn, unpredictable and gallop very fast if they decide to bolt. He owned a small horse and agreed to sell him as long as my father promised to sell him back if it didn’t work out. The deal succeed and he delivered my horse. He was beautiful. He was dark gray and his name was Smoky. I was so excited to have him. Several problems arose with this horse, ending my horse adventures. Problem number one; we brought the horse home, before we had the fence around the pasture. Problem number two; I couldn’t saddle or bridle the horse by myself, so I always had to wait for my dad to do it. Problem number three; my brother, who wasn’t the least bit interested in the horse, received orders to take care of him in the mornings. Problem number four; I had not learned anything about horses, so once mounted on him, I was afraid of every little thing he did.. Like swatting a fly with his tail and shifting his weight from one side to the other. He was gentle, and patient with me, but he learned he could overpower me. Power is a dangerous thing when it’s given to an animal of this size. My dad sold him back to my uncle and I felt like a failure. I thought everything was my fault.
I had no idea about riding lessons until I realized my oldest daughter inherited the same love for horses. Seeing it in her brought back memories of my heart as a child and how I longed to have a horse of my own. We live on a farm and once she was old enough my husband and I decided we would let her have a horse if she was still interested. Someone, I knew with horse experience, told me about a riding facility where my daughter could take riding lessons. We contacted the lady and signed her up when she was eight years old. She was a natural with excellent timing and balance. She and I both learned the importance of safety according to horse language. They are animals and will always act as such, so we learned how to respect their space and build a relationship with them. We learned to build trust with the horse and how to prepare them for a ride, which is something I never valued as important. We purchased Katie’s horse through this riding facility and she took lessons on her own horse while we boarded her there. Before we agreed to bring the horse home, Katie learned to saddle and bridle her by herself. Once we brought her horse home, Katie continued to build a relationship and bond with her. She would do anything Katie asked of her. She was an excellent starter horse for her. Without riding lessons, she may have felt like a failure like me. Instead she still rides today and gives riding lessons as well to children with a heart like hers.
Sharing this story with my readers reminds me of Proverbs 15:22 “Plans fail for lack of council, but with many advisers they succeed.” When we come across an area in life, we know very little about, it is wise to seek out those who possess experience in that field. Especially if it involves our children and the guidance needed for their success. My prayer for my readers is you will pray and seek the counsel of our Heavenly Father first and ask him to lead you to those who can help you. Amen. God Bless.
This old barn, built in the early 1930’s, stands on the front of our property. Its large loft and wide stalls serve many purposes. I’m quite fond of it. I wish the stalls could tell me about things witnessed over the years. Which animals stayed in which stalls? Did the animals talk at night once the barn doors closed? Don’t laugh. Stranger things happen everyday. Which animal bit or kicked the farmer? Which child hid in the barn to try chewing tobacco for the first time? Oh my, the list could go on.
Today the barn stores hay for our animals. We know an owl once lived in the loft, because we saw her fly in at dusk. We also found her empty nest. We raised rabbits in the hallway and doctored sick horses in the barn when needed. My daughter recently raised chickens in one of the stalls. My niece was married in front of the barn and held her reception in the loft and in the hallway for those who decided to keep their feet on lower ground. My daughter held her reception in the barnyard so the barn might add a rustic look to enhance her wedding photos.
Recently, this old barn became a new adventure for my son and two of his friends. These young teenagers decided the time to conquer their fear of night-time in a barn loft rested upon them. They planned an overnight sleep over. Our house stands about a thousand feet behind the barn, so the boys piled their sleeping bags, pellet guns, flashlights and pillows in the tracker and took off. I remained hopeful, but skeptical at the same time. I hoped they would conquer their fears. My skeptical attitude remained because two of them tried this once before and failed, and my son asked me to keep the doors unlocked, you know, just in case.
My husband woke me at 6:15 the next morning. He informed me the boys were home and they were hungry. “They stayed at the barn all night?” I asked him with a sleepy, but surprised voice. “Yes.” He replied just before closing the door. I quickly pulled myself together because I wanted to hear their stories! Well, we are talking about boys! The only response I got from them; it was cold, and the floor was hard. Oh well, at least they conquered their fears. They grew a little inside. Whether they realize it or not, it happened. They made memories which will surface with new stories each time they tell someone about their experience. Memories they will carry with them for the rest of their lives. The memories will remain over the years, although their friendships may dissipate due to long distances and circumstances. Wives, children and grandchildren, no doubt, will give their attention to these memories through the stories of how one cold night, with two friends, and nothing but a sleeping bag and a flash light, they braved the dark in an old barn loft somewhere down in Ringgold, Georgia to prove they could.
In bringing a piece of our farm to you today, my prayer for my readers is that you will invest in helping the youth of today make good memories to carry with them down the road. Things they will be proud to share one day with others. Invest in someone’s life for their future. If you have a wonderful childhood memory please feel free to share. I would love to hear from you. God Bless.
The first new baby of the year was born yesterday in the wee morning hours. My husband retrieved his handy kit and his two helpers and they rode off to check the new calf. I decided to come along to take pictures. As we approached the baby and his momma, she lowered her head and snorted politely at us. She looked nervous and not sure if we were there to harm her new baby. This is not her first calf and she is a good mother.
Darrell, along with Stacie and Brad, hoped off the tracker and squatted down beside the calf. I was the smart one staying inside. My husband, ready with the tag gun, stood surprised when he realized he couldn’t get it to trigger. Momma cow grows troubled and starts to bawl. She goes from snorting to running around and around Darrell and his helpers. Stacie calls for her dad to hurry. Then, my husband’s cell phone rang!
Darrell held the gun in one hand, while answering his phone with the other. He tried to carry on a conversation while keeping momma cow at bay. Momma cow, with her distressed bawling, called for reinforcements. The other cows trotted up to rescue her and her baby. My husband, forced to think quickly, scooped up the calf and threw him in the back of the tracker and jumped in the driver’s seat. He took off fast to get away from the cows.
He drove to the lower end of the pasture and then got out and successfully tagged the calf. He also examined it and since it was a male calf, he had to band him. The momma cow, along with her reinforcements, caught up with us and once again surrounded us. Darrell picked the little guy up and gently laid him down behind the tracker and we were off again to leave momma and her baby alone.
Our Belted Galloway cows are docile, but as with humans, momma cows are always protective of their young. In the first few hours the mommas are nervous anyways and they are trying to clean and bond with their babies, so they don’t want anyone messing with them. It’s always best to let nature take over and then everything else will fall into place.
In sharing a little snippet of what happens on our farm with you today, I’m reminded of the times we suddenly feel threatened by unsettling circumstances surrounding our lives. What do we do to handle these times and to whom do we turn? The Bible tells us in the book of Matthew 18, verses 19-20, “For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them.” (NKJV) Just like the momma cow in this story called for reinforcements, we have our own reinforcements to call. We have others willing to pray with us. My prayer for my readers today, is that you will allow others to pray with you in times of trouble. Yes, we can pray for ourselves and God hears them, but there is just something about having others join us and lift up our cause before Christ with us. God Bless.
Our Belted Galloways are raised year around in a stress free environment on pasture where they have free choice hay and grass. They are free of antibiotics and hormones. This breed is a heritage breed. According to the Belted Galloway Society published nutrition facts from 2009, this particular breed surpasses the USDA standards for both grain and grass fed beef. The Belted Galloway Society also states it is lower in saturated fat and higher in beneficial CLA. Read more about the nutrition facts and benefits at www.Beltie.org.
At this time we have ground beef for sale, packaged in 1lb or 2lb packages for $5.99lb. It is USDA packaged. It is sold here on site at our farm to locals. We only have ground beef at this time, but we will be adding steaks soon.
Unmasking the reality of my fears is my challenge writing lesson for today from Positive Writer. I wrote about this topic on an earlier version of my blog, but my computer completely crashed taking all my data with it. Needless to say the first version of this story remains lost in cyber space. Without further delay, here is my own personal story.
I pulled on a pair of capris and stepped outside to enjoy the pretty spring weather. The temperature was mild and the sun beamed hot rays of light across the yard. The birds sang above me as I walked around scoping out places in need of landscaping. Approaching my small flower bed, I could see weeds taking over, so I leaned over to pull them out. Once I finished my project I spotted what I thought was a tick on my leg and I reached down quickly to swat at it, but I stood surprised when it didn’t move. It wasn’t a tick, after all. A small brown spot held my gaze. It has been present all of my life, except now, it appeared a little larger.
A trip to the doctor’s office so I could have the dark brown, perfectly round, raised off the skin, spot removed and sent for a biopsy happened on a Monday. I worked in a doctor’s office as a medical assistant, so I knew all the formalities of biopsies and pathology reports. My doctor didn’t take pictures of my spot because she didn’t thing it was anything. I went home with a couple of stitches in my leg, but otherwise I was fine. Pathology reports usually take several days to come back to the doctor’s office and then the doctor has to read, and sign them before patient’s receive a call back with the results. My call came on Wednesday morning.
My husband was about twenty minutes away from the doctor’s office when I called him to explain I was to go to the office and tell the receptionist I was there and they had a room waiting for me. It happened just like that and my husband was able to meet me there, walking in the door just before the doctor. She had not sat down before she informed me my spot was positive for Melanoma. Stage IV Melanoma, she informed me, which she went on to say, it had already spread and I needed an oncologist for further testing and treatment.
With an appointment scheduled for five days out to see an oncologist, I was free to go. Go where? Home? Suddenly home didn’t feel like home. Shouldn’t I be going someplace else? Wasn’t there something else for me to do? No. Not at the time. My husband and I drove separately so he told me he would see me at home and we got in our vehicles and started the ten minute drive toward our house.
My insides felt like jello when it shakes. My body felt chilled as I drove to my house. I prayed, but I could only tell God I couldn’t ask why me. All I could think about was my children and the children I have seen over the years on St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital telethons to raise money. These sweet children are fighting the battle of their lives. How could I hold the images of their faces in my mind and ask why me. I couldn’t!
My fears hit me in the face like a bucket of ice-cold water. My oldest daughter was five weeks away from graduating high school. My middle daughter was in 7th grade and an active soccer player. My son was only seven years old and I feared he would suffer the most if I weren’t here with him. I had lost a parent suddenly at the age of fourteen and I knew all to well the pain grief can cause. I feared for my children’s emotional well-being and the pain of losing a loved one and I didn’t want them to suffer through that grief the way I had.
I was afraid for my husband, because I knew it would be hard on him if he had to raise our children alone. I was afraid my oldest daughter would take on responsibilities she was too young for and she would grow bitter because of it. I was afraid my middle child would get lost in the shuffle of daily life and she and her sister wouldn’t be close because of it. I was afraid Brad’s development would deteriorate especially socially without his mother.
I was afraid every pain I felt was the cancer that had spread. I was afraid my last days would be spent with me not feeling well and too sick to serve my family. I was afraid to trust all the things I wouldn’t be able to do to God, because I couldn’t get past my thoughts of losing my dad and still missing him. I was afraid of what would happen in the “gap” if I wasn’t there to stand in it for my children’s sake. I was afraid with my husband’s work hours he wouldn’t be as in tune with our children as the two of us could be together. My mind couldn’t rest, nor could my body. What does one do when faced with so many fears once they have the potential to become reality?
I believe in prayer. I believe in prayer warriors. I am thankful for prayer warriors. I went to the church and found two ladies I know are prayer warriors and I called them into a Sunday school class room and told them about my diagnosis and cried as they prayed for me. I released all that negative energy and all those negative thoughts into the sweet prayers of these ladies. I went home afterwards with my insides feeling like jello when it shakes, but with my mind a little clearer.
I’m not sure what happened to the original pathology report from Wednesday to Monday, but I went from a stage IV to stage Ib. I had surgery to remove the spot with clear margins. I have been cancer free since April of 2010. Unmasking my fears was not easy. It’s only through adversity we get to encounter our fears for what they are. It is through prayer and God’s grace my fears were relieved.
Come on in to sneak a peek at Spring time on the farm. Things are growing and we are excited. April holds true to what its known for this year, rain. Rain, rain, and more to come in the next few days. “April showers bring May flowers.” At least this familiar rhyme tells us so. However, on the farm we look for more than flowers once the rain is gone.
North Georgia is recovering from last year’s drought. Our local meteorologists tell us we aren’t out of the woods yet, but, we do have a surplus of over three inches for the year. That’s great news! We are grateful. The drought was the worst I’ve seen in my life time. We didn’t know if our hay fields would grow this year. They have come back, and they are growing.
The one thing I enjoy in the Spring, is baby chicks. I purchased Barred Rocks, and Amberlinks from Tractor Supply. They were already sexed, so I am supposed to have all hens! So far it’s looking hopeful. Once these ladies are able to free range, I plan to purchase some more hens of another breed. I haven’t made my mind up as to which breed I will add next. The verdict is still out on that.
Aside from the hay and the chickens, we are expecting to have five calves in the next few months. In June and July we have the potential to have eight kids from four bred nannie goats. They have each given birth to twins before without any problems. I hope their labor and kidding this year will be as easy.
We have our gardens tilled and will be adding tomato plants as soon as we get a break from the rain. A little rain shower is great for the plants, however we have experienced more than a little rain this past week, so once we have a clear three-day forecast, we hope to get those tomato plants in the ground.
From our neighboring farm, we have enjoyed fresh strawberries. They have the best flavor. I hope to get back soon and pick another basket full. It is a pick yourself, or you can purchase a basket some of the workers have already picked ahead of time. One of our favorite ways to enjoy this delicious fruit, is to simply slice them and add a little sugar, let them sit over night and enjoy with biscuits, or just in a bowl by themselves, the next morning. If you have a favorite strawberry recipe, please feel free to share in the comment section below. We would love to hear from you!
My husband purchased black mulch and mulched around our shrubs. The winter and the recent rains wash so much of this stuff away, our shrubs were looking bare. It won’t take long for them to revive now. Brad plowed the shared garden space again and it is ready to plant. May will arrive next week and things here will soon get busy. I look forward to posting pictures as new births happen and plants are growing in the garden. Remember in May will began selling fresh beef to the public. I will also be posting vegetables and their nutrients. I hope to post some new recipes also. If you have any summer, vegetable , recipes please feel free to share.
In getting to know our farm today, I’m reminded of the fact we all experience rainy days and droughts of all kinds, not just weather related. In life we experience emotional stress as well as financial stress. For these reasons it is important to practice saving and tithing financially, and also learning scripture for those dry seasons, and seasons of emotional stress. It is wise to put something back for rainy days, because it is a sure thing we will have them. Tithing is something I strongly believe in. I am always blessed when I give. I count it a joy to be able to share with others. I have always told my children, “If you can’t share it, it isn’t worth having.” My prayer for you today is that you will start saving and tithing, even if it seems small to you, and that you will find a way to be consistent with this practice. God Bless…. Kim
My parents worked full-time and somehow managed to grow a garden in our backyard. Through the summer months, we enjoyed fresh vegetables daily. I sure do miss those summers. Now that I’m grown up, we have our own garden, with the help of our son. He helps us plant the seeds and harvest the crops and, in return, he sells some of the produce to make money. He enjoys the fresh vegetables as well, but, there’s something about having some spending money in the summer that keeps him interested in helping us. Some day, like me, he’ll realize there’s more to gardening than selling the produce.
For many of us, building relationships are often difficult. Sometimes we are left to wonder what we did wrong, or what we said that offended the other person. We have people in our lives we enjoy being in relationships with for long periods of time, and then others seem to end as quickly as they start. We can be left to feel like a failure, which can make us question our own self-worth and value if we aren’t careful to resolve the issues quickly. Over the years, gardening has taught me some important truths about relationships. Below I have shared them and I hope it can bring some encouragement and wisdom to all who read it.
Relationships require work……… In the Spring, long before the ground is ready for the seed, it must be plowed, or tilled. Not once, because just once only turns the dirt over. There are clumps and rocks and hard dirt clots that need busting and then tilling back into the soil. Once the soil is free from all the weeds and all clots are busted, then the seeds can be planted. Building relationships, sometimes, have to start slow. Trust needs to be established. One’s true self needs to be revealed in many different situations, so character can be exposed. Just like killing the weeds and busting the clots in the garden, hearts need softening before one can accept the friendship of another.
Relationships demand patience…….. Once the seed is in the ground, it’s not going to sprout overnight. It takes time. Once we start a relationship, we must be patient with the other person as they accept us into their life. I say we must be patient, because we are only accountable for our actions. We hope, just as the soil receives the seed, our new-found friend will receive our friendship.
Relationships must always filter out the bad……. Once the soil is loose and the seeds are planted, they aren’t the only things that grow in the garden. Those pesky weeds just won’t stop growing! They grow faster than the seeds. In order to give the seeds room to grow, those weeds must go. In our relationships, we must be compelled to keep out the negative things that can threaten our attitudes with one another. Things like gossiping, refusing to set healthy boundaries, ignoring priorities, manipulations, and the list is endless. If you have to ask if something is okay, it’s not!
Relationships need love and nurturing….. It’s not enough to just get rid of the weeds, the seeds need rain and sunshine. They are a necessity for our gardens to grow. In the same way, love and nurturing are essential for growing healthy relationships. In his book, “The Five Love Languages” Gary Chapman explains everyone has a love language, and if we fail to communicate what it is, our relationships suffer. The words love and nurturing are verbs. That means, they require action. Relationships cannot thrive on idle. Discover the other’s love language and act.
Relationships reap what has been sown into them…….The time, effort, and energy put into a garden is recognized at harvest time. For those gardeners who practice the four skills above, they are rewarded at harvest time. For those who fail, or become less active with their intentions, they are disappointed to find nothing or very little to harvest. Just like gardening, we must practice these skills to develop, sustain, and mature our relationships.
Relationships acquire wealth……In the beginning, I mention my son selling the produce to make money. Those vegetables are worth something to others. Some cannot have their own gardens, for many different reasons, so they buy from those who can. Our relationships acquire value as well. Think about the time you have spent practicing the skills above with others. Time, can’t be bought, or given back. What about laughter? Think about the funny things enjoyed by all involved in those relationships. Tears? How many were shed together? Moments and special events, how many have been shared between those relationships? What if God meant for us to count our relationships as time? What if the time we are given here on this earth is all about honoring Him with the relationships we build? God loves people. Think about it. God Bless.