Tuesday, August 19, 2014

August ~ Hope Chest Addition

When I started this project, I was sure it would take me until winter to finish it, but once I got started with a few stitches now and then, it went rather quickly.  I chose to make a pair of embroidered pillowcases:

The pattern was very old and I was almost certain it wouldn't transfer two times, so I cut around it and took it to the copy machine for a pattern I could use to transfer to tracing paper.

To transfer, I used a light box (an old gadget used to view x-rays which the farmer acquired while teaching Physics; a case of his trash becoming my treasure).  I slipped the pattern under tracing paper and marked the design with a transfer pencil.

The design was ready to be transferred to the pillowcases I had made.  Now it was time to choose thread colors.  I have a sweet little yellow rose whose petals are tinged with pink, and although a red or bright pink would have been a bolder color, I chose the yellow and by the time I had the first one finished, I knew something had to be done to make it more colorful.  I had read about using crayons with embroidered designs so I got out my Crayolas and filled in the larger areas.

The upper pillowcase is without coloring as compared to the lower one with coloring.  There are lots of good tutorials for this, but as is typical with me, I didn't look for them until after the fact.  Most of the tutorials tell one to color first then embroider; I did the opposite, but I guess it will be o.k.  The wax in the crayons is set, using a hot iron; but if the color fades it can be colored again.  Years ago a crayon got in the dryer with a set of my sheets and there are still traces of it.

What do you think?  Did I ruin the pillowcases by using crayons to fill in the design? 


Thursday, August 7, 2014

Farm Life ~ August

This has been a busy week here on the farm.  We've baled hay, 100 plus big round bales on Monday,

 and then on Tuesday we hauled the bales.
Wednesday we got the chicken houses ready for baby chicks.  My job was putting together the cardboard feed trays which are about 3' x 4' in size.
Thursday morning we ran feed into the boxes, drained water lines to flush out air, and triggered the nipple drinkers.  A lot of the nipples were stuck so the chicks wouldn't be able to get water from them.  Then after lunch the chicks came, 67,200 of these little yellow balls of fluff:
So my two weeks off from chicken work is over.  I've been working on the August and September additions to the hope chest ~ and ~ there is a new chore:  
She's twelve days old now and I feed her three times a day.
Her mother was a young heifer (a teenage mother :) who had nothing to do with her from the very beginning.  The calf took the bottle the  first time it was offered to her and is doing so good on the milk replacement I feed to her.  When the milk is all gone she wants to keep sucking; she needs a pacifier! :)
My sweet kitty came to get acquainted.

Now I'll settle back into the routine of being a farmer with a little time snatched now and then to put needle and thread to fabric.


Thursday, July 31, 2014

A Comparison

I got a new iron last week, sleek and almost too bright to get a good picture of it because it reflected things just like a mirror!  Immediately I couldn't help but compare it to Mama's heavy "sad" iron.

The new iron is heavier than my old iron, weighing about 3 1/2 pounds, but the sad iron, solid cast iron, is much heavier.  What a workout for a lady's arm muscles!

New irons come with automatic temperature controls; set the dial on the temperature for different fabrics and when it reaches that setting, it stops heating ~ perfect.  A sad iron ~ set it on a hot stove and let it heat, hoping it won't be hot enough to scorch that white shirt.  Mama tested the heat by wetting the end of her finger then quickly touching the bottom of the sad iron.  If the moisture sizzled, the iron was ready to use.

 The bottom of the new iron is so bright things are reflected in it, making it look brown!

Of course, with the addition of polyester to cotton fabrics, ironing is much easier today anyway.  The new irons make steam to remove small wrinkles, and if there is a stubborn wrinkle, just push a button for an extra shot of steam.  A lot of clothing was made from cotton feed sacks in yester-years and was starched to give it body.  Before the clothing could be ironed a good sprinkling of water droplets made it easier to remove wrinkles: Mama dipped her fingers into a bowl of water and sprinkled the items, then rolled them up so the moisture could reach the entire pieces.  While ironing, if she came across a dry spot, she would wet a cloth and rub it over the spot, then continue ironing the item.

Oh my!  The new iron seems heavy to me now, but how in the world could I iron with a sad iron!  And, by the looks of that stack of tablecloths, I need to go iron!  But, as Scarlet would say, "I won't think about it today; I'll think about it tomorrow."


Friday, July 25, 2014

Is This Surprise Coming Early?

Earlier in the week I noticed the surprise lilies were pushing up through the ground,

and by yesterday, they were blooming!

A beautiful mass of pink!  I think I'm learning that flowers planted in mass give better results.  My planting has usually been trying to put a little of this and that in several places.

If it weren't for the fact that these are close to my compost bin I probably wouldn't have noticed them at all until being totally surprised by their blooms.  In the spring they were a mass of green foliage.  I let it die back and turn brown, then I mowed over them, hoping to keep the four o'clocks and irises pushed back so there would be a clear spot for them to come up.  It seems too early for them to bloom; perhaps the fact that our weather has been cooler than normal (so far) this summer fooled them into thinking it's later in the year than it is?  Anyway, the other flower beds are looking tired and spent after a flush of spring irises and summer day lilies and tiger lilies, so these are a very welcome surprise.

Our chickens went out on Tuesday of this week so yesterday I put a quilt top on the frames to work on during my "out" time of two weeks.  The farmer has started the work of getting the litter ready to be put into wind rows so it can go through a "heat" that will kill any disease organisms.  Then while it sits for a day or two, weather permitting, we'll go finish the second cutting of hay, and before we know it, the two weeks will be gone and new baby chicks will be cheeping in the houses again.

Do you have surprise lilies?  Look around for them; they may be early too!

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

July ~ Hope Chest

Wow!  Here we are, beginning the second half of 2014!  It seems only yesterday all the talk on blog posts was about wishing for spring.  Summer brings on more outside chores here on the farm, so the hope chest addition for July had to be simple and quick, but it's still useful.

So, let's add a set of colorful, watermelon place mats, with the green rind, the tempting red deliciousness, and the black seeds!  Perfect for a summer table!

I don't care for watermelon at this stage in my life, but as a child I could eat my share.

The farm where I grew up was mostly up one hill, across a flat field, and up another hill.  We only had a few cows which grazed on the hills and the flat fields were fenced and planted in watermelons, cucumbers, strawberries, and sorghum cane.

Having an abundance of fresh melons made them wonderful morning and afternoon snacks for my cousin and me.  Since we had no electricity for a refrigerator, a few melons were rolled under the bed to cool.   All we had to do was pick the size of melon we wanted.  There was no need to ask for a knife to cut the melon; simply pick it up and drop it about 10-12 inches from the ground and when it hit, the rind burst, revealing the delicious red "heart" of the melon, the part without seeds.  And there was no need to ask for a spoon; just pick of a chunk with dirty little fingers and enjoy.  What was left over went to the chickens and I usually made a run for the outhouse!

Ahh ~ those were the days!  Oh to be so carefree and innocent again!


Tuesday, July 1, 2014

A Likeness of Me

This is how I feel today: a tired sunflower, with a drooping head and petals of energy fallen and scattered. 

We baled hay yesterday, and because there are chances of rain, the farmer decided we would wrap the bales.  Of course that means late hours with lots of travel across rough fields and at times I think, surely I will die from "shaken head syndrome".   We ate supper after 11:00 and when I went to bed I was too tired to fall asleep right away. I keep looking forward to the day when the farmer thinks enough is enough and cuts back on some of the farm work.

When the farmer pulls out of the field with the last load, I drive the loading tractor home, a lot of the time after dark.  Now I know the field backward and forward  in the daylight, but in the darkness things can get out of place, and tractor lights don't give a far range of vision.  We come out of the field, downhill, across a low water bridge and a big snag tree is our sign post of sorts to tell where the crossing is located.  One particular night the farmer had already crossed the bridge and his lights weren't visible to me when I started home.  I drove toward what I thought was the place to cross but couldn't find it; all the edges of the field looked the same in the dim lights of the tractor and there seemed to be lots of snag trees.  I kept driving along the edge of the field, searching, searching; soon I realized I was going in the opposite direction, turned around and found a tree at the edge of the field that I knew was just before the crossing, and slowly, slowly found it.  What a strange feeling to be lost!  I had begun to think I'd just have to sit in the field until someone came looking for me.  Of course I felt stupid to tell the farmer.  Someone should tie a white flag at that crossing!  Last night the farmer waited for me to come up behind him before he drove on.

When I grow so tired and think of how much we do at age 73, these verses from wise King Solomon come to mind:

Yea, I hated all my labour which I had taken under the sun: because I should leave it unto the man that shall be after me.  And who knoweth whether he shall be a wise man or a fool? yet shall he have rule over all my labour wherein I have laboured, and wherein I have shewed myself wise under the sun...  Ecclesiastes 2:18-19

Think about it!

Friday, June 20, 2014

For Mama ~ April 12, 1914 ~ June 20, 1987

This must be the first hour of  your life; you are so happy.
You wait and watch for the movement, then cry out in pain and laugh
through tears as my pure soft fingers wrap around yours.
You pull me close and whisper, "Thank you, God."

You hold my hand and we take those first few steps across the floor.
You laugh with me and put new ribbons in my glossy brown hair.
We quarrel and you say, "Can't you ever remember to keep your feet off the chair?"

Now it is noon, and I am so happy and your life seems complete.
I have grown up; I have him and I have my own little ones.
We talk and visit and watch them grow,
and most of all, I need you as a friend.
But a dark cloud overshadows you and you are alone; your heart seems to break
because there can't be another love for you.
I still come and your days are better.

I curl your silver hair, but I quarrel at you now and say,
"Don't you remember telling me that twice before!"
Now I must take you in the car because you do not trust your eyes.
I grasp your hand as we cross the street for you totter and do not hear well.

You rest and I hold your worn, thin hand.  You try to grasp it tighter
but your strength won't come.
I wait and watch for the movement.  Then with tears of sorrow I pull you close and whisper,
"Thank you, God."
I am so sad.
For now it is midnight.

I love you, Mama,