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Windy Meadows Farm

So God Made a Farmer ...

Windy Meadows Farm

To me, the poetic words of Paul Harvey’s, So God Made a Farmer are astonishingly accurate and timeless.

While farming dreams run deep with so many of us, the reality of the life that a full-time farmer leads is often different than many imagine. Farmers excel in courage, grit, hope, and determination. And, while I’m not one for recalling many commercials, Mr. Harvey’s words paired with a simple slideshow of inspiring still photos made this particular commercial one I’ve not forgotten. I hope you’ll take a minute to click the link and take a look and listen ... even if you’ve seen it before. And if you can make it through to the end and not tear up, you’re a stronger person than I am!

"So God Made a Farmer"

My husband grew up on a 100-acre farm: livestock needed to be cared for, hay baled and stacked (on what seemed to be the hottest days of the year), and always they were at the whim of Mother Nature. The days were long and sometimes the lessons hard, but along with such days were moments of inspiration and gratitude. Animals they thought were lost miraculously recovered; dark clouds filled with rain blew in to break what would have been a devastating drought; and, as he’s quick to tell us, he’ll never forget the laughter and closeness he felt working alongside his dad.

Harvest-time ... a season in itself that teeters somewhere between the languid days of summer and the first scent of autumn’s wood smoke. In a time when so much changes, it’s good to know that some things always endure. It’s a busy season, and we feel the subtle differences; we are gathering, gleaning, and putting by. In our part of the Midwest harvest-time is in full swing, and as I watch the combines working late into the night, I’m reminded, “so God made a farmer.”

Farmer in field
Photo by Fotolia/PointImages

Remember That Fiddle?

Windy Meadows FarmRemember in an earlier post I said I'd always wanted to play the fiddle? I'm not sure why ... something about it made my toes tap, lightened my heart, and made me smile. I am so taken by those who can play; so in awe and, to be honest, downright envious!

And so when I came upon a violin made 126 years ago, I was taken in by it's history and soon made it mine. Since then, I've brushed up on some of my favorites ... "Red River Valley," "Amazing Grace," "Old Joe Clark." And while far from perfect, it's been fun to try and try until a song finally sounds somewhat like it's supposed to. 

fiddle with flowers

The old saying goes: "Time flies, whether you're having fun or not." What have you always dreamed of doing? Living in the suburbs doesn't mean you won't be living in a farmhouse someday, and mowing that corner lot in town doesn't mean you won't be sitting behind the wheel of a tractor pulling kids on a hayride. Delay doesn't mean defeat ... dreams come true every day.

It's always good to find some quiet time and ask ourselves, "What do I truly want now? What do I truly need? How do I get it?"

I wish I could turn back the clock ... so do many of us. I would have picked up the fiddle 30 years ago, however, that's just not the way it works. And so when this fiddle came my way (and a fabulous book titled Old Time Fiddle for the Complete Ignoramus — I'm not kidding!) I felt it was time to give it a chance. My daughter plays the cello and has been so helpful. Oh yes, there are still squeaks and scratches when I play, but you know what? After several weeks I've found I can play "Ashokan Farewell" ... that was my inspiration and my dream. 

I came across this quote today: "Don't wait, because right now is the oldest you've ever been, and the youngest you'll ever be again."

Time flies. Come on, what adventure shall we jump into next?

Something More

Mary photo

I think I've always had a sense of history ... always been drawn to things that are old. Old houses, weathered barns, vintage signs, they all pull me in. And while few of us remember when dandelions or mustard greens were gathered on the farm, still fewer remember when milk was churned into butter, vegetables kept fresh in the cellar, or the sound of whippoorwills late at night.

veggies in basket

There's something deeply personal about those hard won memories. And while I admit only the whippoorwills are a part of my past, I often wonder if today our fast-paced, wi-fi world is simply too soft. Emails and text messages have replaced lovingly, handwritten letters. Home-cooked meals can sometimes still be found, often only on Sunday ... fast-food seems the norm, and while chatting with neighbors over the backyard fence was once so common, it has been replaced with evenings of reality TV shows and video games.

Oh, I have a love/hate relationship with technology! Certainly it's opened up new worlds; we can learn so much, and yet, I often think it's taken the place of good, old-fashioned, "getting to know you" moments.

While at lunch with my mother-in-law recently, I was saddened to see a mother and son at a nearby table — both were on their phones. I don't know if they were playing games or surfing the net, but they were completely invisible to one another. Not once was there conversation or interaction during the meal. Finally, when it was time to leave, they looked up at each other.

At another table, I noticed a two women being seated. The elderly woman appeared to be a mother to the second. She was dressed up, and looked anxious for their time together. After being seated, she tucked her walker at the end of their table. I watched as the younger woman didn't take her eyes off of her phone — again, surfing, playing games ... I don't know. But I could see the hurt in the older woman's eyes as she would talk, only to find the words simply hitting the back of the phone. She finally gave up, and her eyes wandered around the room.

Alex and tomato - smaller

Lately, perhaps simply because I'm becoming older, I find myself looking for things, for a life, that's a bit "more." More personal, more reflective, more meaningful, more handmade, more heartfelt. I want to spend my time on things that create memories, memories that grow in importance as time passes. Traditions, favorite recipes, laughter, and time together ... too often these are replaced with something of a lesser stature.

Maybe that's why we moved to a farm many years ago, and why it's been important to me that our kids have the experiences of raising chickens, goats, and honeybees. I want them to have room to run and explore, to taste a garden-fresh tomato still warm from the vine, and to be a part of canning and freezing fruits and vegetables, so that in January that peach jam is even more savory than it is now.

butterfly and bee

We can all create memories worth holding onto, whether we're living on many acres in the country, or a corner lot in town. We just have to decide what's important to us. To quote B.F. Skinner, "One fact that I would cry from every housetop is this: the Good Life is waiting for us — here and now."

Mary is a Midwest farmgirl who enjoys the simple pleasures of living in the country. "For us, living where there is plenty of room for gardens, animals, and for kids to play and explore is the best kind of life." You can visit Windy Meadows Farm here, Windy Meadows Farm.

Life Is Short So Learn to Fiddle

Windy Meadows FarmYes, we all know time flies ... somehow the days turn into weeks, then months, and before we know it, years have slipped by. And though many years (not saying how many!) have passed, I've never lost the desire to learn to fiddle.

See this?

smaller image of violin

This is a violin made in 1890 — yes, 126 years ago. I love anything old, so when the chance came along to make this mine, I was oh-so-tempted. But first, I had it looked over top-to-bottom. It had been given new strings and a new bridge, so I took it to a friend who played, ahhh, he made it sing!

I was sold, and so it came home with me. That was May, and so it's been a couple of months ... and while it doesn't exactly "sing" for me, it's a step toward one of my dreams. I'm polishing up old tunes such as Ida Red, Say Darlin' Say, and Amazing Grace.

Yes, when I play it scratches, but, it's one step closer to my goal of playing Ashokan Farewell. When I can master that, I'll be overjoyed.

And so today's post is short and sweet ... time does fly, so do what you love, you're never too old to learn something new!

Mary is a Midwest farmgirl who enjoys the simple pleasures of living in the country. "For us, living where there is plenty of room for gardens, animals, and for kids to play and explore is the best kind of life." You can visit Windy Meadows Farm here, Windy Meadows Farm.

Plotting, Planning and Wondering How to Do it All

Windy Meadows FarmI always approach spring with a topsy-turvy feeling. I love the break wintertime provides ... a slowing of farm chores and the anticipation of school snow days, a crackling fire and endless movie marathons with the kids. And although it is definitely time to do away with the dust bunnies, I wonder how I'll fit it all in ... trimming, tilling, planting, weeding, mowing, raking. How will I balance both the indoor and outdoor must-do's?

I plot. I plan. I obsess.

And yet today, as the temperature warmed up to 80 degrees, I stopped, and took the time to let it all sink in. The farmers were in their fields, and the scent of freshly-turned earth was in the air. Soon it was paired with the fragrance of just-mowed grass. Honeybees were buzzing around our peach blossoms, and as I looked closer, they were loaded down with the prettiest pink pollen.

We are so blessed to be caretakers of this farm. For over 152 years it has stood, first as a dairy farm, then as a horse farm. These days a gaggle of goats, chickens, honeybees, barn cats, and a faithful guard dog call it home.

Oh sure, there is still much to do, and the work never seems to be completely done, but my mother-in-law gently encourages me to remember, this is the best time of my life. She's right ... it's quiet moments like these when I fully appreciate what's around me.

And yes, I will still fret about all that needs doing, but for today, I dusted off my garden journal, and I'm plotting and planning a few new flower gardens around this old house.

What do you think?

flowers one

chairs and flowers

more flowers

And that, my friends, makes whisking away the dust bunnies a lot easier!

Mary is a Midwest farmgirl who enjoys the simple pleasures of living in the country. "For us, living where there is plenty of room for gardens, animals, and for kids to play and explore is the best kind of life." You can visit Windy Meadows Farm here, Windy Meadows Farm.

DIY Canning Jar and Chick Feeder Lamp

Windy Meadows FarmThis little lamp came together in under 5 minutes ... seriously, and I had everything on hand. I love little "What if I tried this?" moments!

Take one metal chick feeder, a vintage canning jar, and an electric light ...

all lamp supplies

A little nudge and the chick feeder will separate easily ... center the light on the bottom of the feeder (I put a little poster putty under it to keep it straight), slip the electric cord through one of the feeder openings, and put the feeder back together.

 put lamp together

Twist the canning jar in place ... and ta-da!

final lamp display

I added some rosehips and dried orange peel in the feeder openings and set it on a little table. Definitely the quickest how-to I've done in ages!

Mary is a Midwest farmgirl who enjoys the simple pleasures of living in the country. "For us, living where there is plenty of room for gardens, animals, and for kids to play and explore is the best kind of life." You can visit Windy Meadows Farm here ... Windy Meadows Farm

Making Thieves' Vinegar for Spring Cleaning

Windy Meadows FarmMarch is still a few days away, but I can feel it ... spring is coming, and this is the time of year that stirs my soul to take stock of the indoors ... before the season's first warm days beckon me outside.

Here at least, there's is a certain need for spring cleaning ... the traces of a long winter are all around. Cats and kittens have left little pawprints on the mudroom floor and little noseprints on the windowpanes, while piles of boots, mittens and hats are drying on the hearth daily.

And while I don't recall exactly when I fell in love with aprons, I do know that slipping on one with pretty pink polkadots or cheery blue checks, just seems to make the work of tidying up a bit more fun. I have a long homespun pinafore apron with a ruffle along the bottom that rustles with each step. That apron seems to transport me back 150 years ... just right for spring cleaning an 1864 farmhouse!

Something new I'm cleaning with this year is a twist on an ancient recipe for Thieves' Vinegar. It's said this vinegar was used to fight the Black Plague, and while there are more than a few dust bunnies that need shooed away, trust me, the old farmhouse isn't THAT bad! 

What I'll use my recipe for is to kill germs in the kitchen, bathrooms, and anywhere else that needs some extra cleaning power ... even the chicken coop will get a heavy spritz of this once spring is truly here. 

It's oh-so-simple to make. I added some fresh herbs that I brought inside to overwinter (lavender, rosemary, lemon balm, and mint) to a quart-size canning jar. I simply covered the herbs with distilled vinegar to the top of the jar and secured the lid.




I placed the jar in a sunny window for 2 to 3 weeks ... because the fragrance was strong enough, I strained the herbs from the vinegar using a colander. If it wasn't quite fragrant enough, I could have let it sit in the sun for another week. Once the herbs have been strained out, the vinegar was poured into a spray bottle and use it as I would any modern disinfectant.

I hope you'll give it a try ... it couldn't be easier to make, and I feel good knowing exactly what's in the cleaner I'm using in our home!

Mary is a Midwest farmgirl who enjoys the simple pleasures of living in the country. "For us, living where there is plenty of room for gardens, animals, and for kids to play and explore is the best kind of life." You can visit Windy Meadows Farm here, Windy Meadows Farm.