Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Charmed Kitty Returns and Bad Kitty

Leah the cat has been returned safely and is adjusting to sharing food with the other two cats. To re-assure her of her prominent place at our farm, she was allowed to stay in the house all Saturday and most of Sunday. She got to cuddle on the couch, eat the dog's food, and "run our lives" for a couple days. Last night, she shared the remnants of a pork roast with Tiger and Snowball. Life is good for the animals at Gracious Acres.

Life is also good for the human inhabitants of Gracious Acres. Except for Gracie. Yesterday she stayed home with me because of a little cough. This child is NEVER sick (praise God), so when she gets as much as a sniffle, I like to keep her home and "baby" her. Even though she wasn't feeling her best, we had a really fun day. We ate breakfast together and actually took our sweet time instead of running out the door for work/school. She got to stay in her pj's until noon. We put together part of her quilt (made from scraps of her baby clothes). The strips of fabric are sewn together and attached to the muslin squares. We had a ball trying to figure out the pattern for the squares. Now, the squares need to be sewn together with the back and border.

We colored pictures and even played outside for a little bit. Hey, I said the kid had a little cough, not pneumonia!

That...was when things got interesting! She has a big playset out in the backyard with a "tower" over her sand box. She was trying to rescue Tiger (the cat) from the pretend alligators below, so she picked Tiger up and tried to "carry" him up the ladder to the tower. Apparently, Tiger is afraid of heights and made Grace very aware of his feelings. Grace now has eight little scratches/battle scars on her face as a result of her rescue efforts. DH says she would have been better off going to preschool! Thanks, DH.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Charmed Kitty

About a year and a half ago, a sweet young calico cat showed up on our front porch. I was having one of those awful-nothing is-working-for-me-bawl-your-eyes-out-pity-party days. Then this beautiful tortoise shell colored cat shows up at my door step like an angel sent directly from God. Grace named the new kitty "Leah."

Leah had two litters of kittens in 2005. The first litter (of four) was born in a box half full of tack strip in the rafters of the garage. Fortunately, I found them rather quickly before their little bodies were punctured by the sharp tack strip.
Later, three (one ran off) were given to my mom; one has since been "returned" to us.

Another little "angel" showed up on the front porch in the summer of 2005. "Charlie" was a sweet, long-haired yellow kitten with the personality of Casanova. We really enjoyed Charlie, but Leah barely tolerated him. Charlie never went more than 20 feet from the house, but one day we found him dead on the road . . .

One day later, Leah had the second litter (of four) on the table on the front porch at 2 am. I was asleep but my "inner doula" must have sensed something because I got up and went to the front door just in time to see Leah giving birth to them. I have heard the legend about fall kittens (called "stupple kats" by my Uncle George) not surviving. They did seem a little strange and made the most hideous wailing cries. It seemed that Leah did NOT want to feed them and I couldn't get them to drink anything either. Then about three weeks later, they all died on the same day (must have been a jealous tomcat).

Leah was promptly scheduled for a visit to the vet to be spayed. DH was not so thrilled about this idea #1 because of the cost and #2 because of the cost. I had her fixed anyway and was confident that she would stick around for many years and would not have to worry about any more babies.

This fall, my mother "returned" one of the kittens; she also left with us a possum-cat (it's pure white with weird eyes and the strangest "meow"). Leah tolerated these two as well...until about a week ago when she stopped coming to the house for the morning feeding. At first I thought that she was just out hunting (good kitty). But then we didn't see her for another day, and another...not good. Alas, are you beginning to sense my naivete about farm cats?

My neighbor came over last night and mentioned that they had a new "shop kitty" that looked a lot like Leah! And, "boy, is she fat!" Even though her father-in-law has taken a liking to "shop kitty" the neighbor promised that Leah would be returned promptly. Praise God.

I know I shouldn't get attached to a "farm cat", but I'll never forget the circumstances of the day on which she arrived. God is good . . . all the time.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

The fine art of expressing oneself [not my best trait]

This blogging world is very interesting. For me, it's a way of expressing myself and keeping a record of my life, my feelings, my family and friends, and the issues that peak my interest (on any given day). This is a great thing, because I've never been good at keeping a journal. The flip side, of course, is that this information is privy to everyone in the world!

People who know me even a little know that I'm not good at keeping my ideas or opinions to myself. Although you'll always know how I feel about something, I'm not very good at expressing myself in a way that communicates my (usually) good intentions. I'll blurt out the first thing that comes to mind, which is usually very judgmental and harsh. The more time I have to think about it, the more information my little pea brain can process, the more people I talk to about their perspective - - the better I'm able to understand something.

I'm learning, I'm growing, I'm maturing . . . it's a slow process for me. I make mistakes, and even though I can't erase them I try to learn from them. I'm human. Bear with me . . . friends and neighbors.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Farmgirl Fare Fan

I enjoy the daily farm photos and great food from Farmgirl Fare. I made the Cranberry Scones and they were delish!

Tasha Tudor Reincarnated!

I just came across a wonderful website called The Toymaker. It's full of fun and creative ideas for kids and their parents' "inner-child." Marilyn's work reminds me of Tasha Tudor, one of my favorite all-time people.

Monday, January 16, 2006

PFI Conference

Just returned energized, inspired, and motivated after attending the Practical Farmers of Iowa conference in Des Moines this weekend. I had the privilege of driving down and bunking with Kelli from Sugar Creek Farm. We swapped many stories, attended the workshops, met fascinating people, and ate great food!

Brett, Grace, Kay and I went to the Cedar Rapids Museum of Art for the last day of the Grant Wood Exhibit. It was fantastic! I wanted to purchase every Grant Wood print they had, but I settled for a few postcards. Of course, my favorite work was The Appraisal.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Nat'l Animal Identification System - Lord help us!

From the Sun and Soil blog: "I've known about this making its march through some of the states for at least a few months. I know I'm not the only one who finds this disturbing, but I was wondering what some of the other agrarian types around here think of it. I know the premise behind it being for the "security" of the food system. I'm sure there is some securing involved (I just don't know who's "security" it is), but an undertaking as large as this can't seem to not have some nefarious reasons ultimately behind it. It makes you seriously consider conspiracy theories about the control of the world's food supply.Registering every single livestock animal and marking them with something, likely a computer chip seems pretty extreme, not to mention costly. Every cow, pig, sheep, goat, chicken, duck, goose, alpaca, etc. Be it commercial livestock, homesteader flock, or pet. Will hatcheries be required to ID poultry upon hatching before shipment, or will it fall on the owner? How do they plan on enforcing this? It might be time to get your own breeding stock now, if it's even possible to avoid this thing. I guess it just sits with me about the same way that the patenting of animals and plants does.....not well.Walter Jeffries also had some interesting things to say about it in the comments on Scott Terry's blog. "

Monday, January 09, 2006

Ken Barfels 1928-2006

Brett's dad, Ken, passed away last Tuesday. After many heartfelt moments with family and friends, he fell asleep the night of January 1st and went home to his Lord on January 3rd. He was at home in his favorite chair, surrounded by his wife and three of his nine children. He went peacefully into the arms of his Savior.

Ken was the moral compass of his family. Although he already had three children of his own with his late wife, he graciously accepted six children who were not born to him and raised them as his own flesh and blood. He instilled the highest moral values and strongest work ethics. He raised the bar as a father, husband, brother, grandfather, friend, and Christian.

Ken was a perfectionist as a farmer and carpenter and earned the respect and admiration of his clients and friends. He was a leader in the community serving as the Mayor of Beaman; he was active on many boards, committees, and special projects.

Ken and Kay enjoyed spending time at Norway Lake in Minnesota, attending antique auctions, and taking Sunday drives. He spent countless hours in his workshop creating works of art and useful tools for family members and friends.

Ken will be greatly missed, but he leaves a legacy that wll never die.