Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Fall at the Farm

Although fall signifies the end of the warm, wonderful days of summer, I love the beautiful colors of autumn that are especially evident in the country.

As fall approaches, I enjoy recovering the porch pillows with fabric I collected inexpensively throughout the year.
One of the best places I find fabric is in the thrift store.  I re-purpose quilts, shower curtains, and drapes and turn them into table cloths, pillow covers, and chair cushions.
I also enjoy collecting cowboy boots and cowboy hats to decorate the back porch.  Sometimes we're blessed and a pair of the boots actually fits one of the kids for a short while.

Timmy found these lockers at an auction for $30 and knew I'd like them.  I absolutely love any kind of storage piece.  These are perfect for all the farm coats, overalls, and boots that are needed during the colder months. 
Although, I've also found a kid or two hiding food in his locker from time to time as well. 
(I hope mine isn't the only family where members confiscate and hide "their fair share"
of the rare goodies that might find their way into our house.)

In preparation for the events the farm hosted this fall, a sweet friend who is very artistic created these Williamsburg-style window box arrangements.

This is an old chicken coop that we first decorated for Meredith and Stephen's wedding.  
We call it the "Red Rooster Inn".   It's about to fall to the ground 
but I love its quaintness.

 Harrison's chore bike seems to be a popular subject when a professional photographer is at the farm.  I wince when I observe their picture-taking interest in the manure-splattered farm bike.
 Calf round up

In years past as I prepare for our annual fall farm events, I have left it to the Lord to determine what type decorations we'll have since I can't imagine spending a lot of money on pumpkins, hay bales, or other things that will eventually go to the pigs or the compost pile.
Each fall it seems I'm reminded of God's kindness to me in the past events of the 
and I can only hope that the Lord will want pumpkins again this year.
As I watched the pumpkins arrive in the stores in late summer
 and then suddenly disappear, without even being discounted, as soon as October 31st passed, 
I figured there wouldn't be any bright orange pumpkins welcoming guests to the farm this fall.  
I was disappointed but accepted that God must not have wanted pumpkins this year.
However, a church family who had been invited to our farm events, asked if we might want to pick some sunflowers to use as decorations that had accidentally been sown in their fields.  A friend and I watched with delight, just days before the first farm event, as we picked armfuls of golden bouquets while our younger children ran through the fields of beautiful sunflowers that were as tall as our little girls and as countless as the stars in a 
country night sky.  
I supposed that the Lord must have wanted sunflowers this year.

Then, as I was in town buying last minute supplies for the first event, I spied the most gorgeous bush-like mums I had ever seen.  They were simply breathtaking.  I wondered if I could justify purchasing just a couple although I figured they'd be at least $30 each.  I wrangled one so huge it was almost impossible to put my arms around it, and carried it in the store to inquire about the price.  
When the manager said, "We just reduced all of them to $3.88 each,"  I told her I'd take all 10 of them!  What an incredible blessing.  
I suppose the Lord wanted mums, too.
No pumpkins this year, but sunflowers and mums were a beautiful, unexpected blessing.
As has become a tradition, I challenge myself with a "bonus task" that I only hope to accomplish prior to an event if I'm totally ready and have completed everything on my list.  
My bonus task this year was to invite all the neighbors to the farm events. 
I crossed the last thing off my list late Friday afternoon, grabbed Harrison since he's such a socialite, and headed to the nearest neighbor's house to invite them to the event taking place on Saturday at noon. 
After either visiting or leaving a note with three of the neighbors, Tim called and suggested I go farther down the road to visit yet one more family that we recently met.  
The sweet, young family happened to be pulling up in their driveway as Harrison and I stood on the porch ringing their doorbell.  
After inviting them to the event the following day, talking for a minute, and preparing to head home, the young man asked, 
"Do you want a bunch of pumpkins to feed to your pigs that I grew but couldn't sell?  
I have them loaded on a trailer and could bring them over tonight if that's okay."  
No sooner did I arrive home with the exciting news of pumpkins en route, than did the young family pull up with a trailer load of the most beautiful pumpkins ever.  
With the daylight fading fast, I scurried around the farm joyfully placing pumpkins in position to greet our friends and family the next day.

I guess the Lord wanted pumpkins this year!
After the last event of the year, our annual "Day To Give Thanks For Udders," I found Sheridan totally exhausted and lying on the hammock, longing for the quieter days of winter to arrive.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

A Graduation, Baptism, Pig-Pickin', and Barn Dance

              We hosted a barn dance and pig roast in celebration of Oliver's high school graduation today.

He had completed his formal studies earlier, but due to the farm's busy summer schedule, we decided to wait until the fall to celebrate this milestone. 

Since so many dear friends and family members were gathered together on the farm, Sheridan was baptized before the "great cloud of witnesses" (Hebrews 12:1). 
Sheridan made a profession of faith several months ago and we couldn't be any more happy that she is following Jesus.

Sheridan memorized "The Virtuous Woman" found in Proverbs 31:10-31 
to share with the friends and family that gathered. 
She did a great job reciting all twenty one verses with much expression and even used the cute hand motions she had learned to help her remember each verse. I stood by her side prepared to offer a few "starting words" but she only needed a couple hints.  

 Timmy and I warned one another that it might be emotional to baptize our very last child.  Somehow though we held ourselves together until it was over and Timmy prayed.  There are no words to describe the gratefulness we have to God for His kindness in giving us six precious children here on earth.  And then to witness each of them ask Jesus into their hearts and later be baptized - we are so very grateful for God's goodness.

We were glad to have sunny skies and somewhat mild temperatures for November, but I still stood by eagerly with a blanket to wrap up Sheridan the instant she surfaced.  Elliott then carried our soaked girl to the farm bathrooms where Oma was waiting with towels, dry clothes, and a blow dryer.

We served a lunch including pork grown on the farm 
and Oliver's famous raw milk ice cream with creative names special for the event 
(just days before the election): 
"Mint Romney", "Berry Obama", and 
"Third Party Peanut Butter". 

Oliver's scrumptious ice cream was a big treat! 

PaPa speaking to Oliver as he serves the pig
Several of the sweet girls we know kindly helped with serving the food 

While everyone enjoyed their meal, we shared about the incredible blessing Oliver has been in our lives during his homeschooling years.  
Although Oliver's academic success is remarkable, our greatest joy is found in his desire to walk with God and seek God's will for his life.

Sullivan (far right) eating with his friends
Harrison was looking mighty sharp in his western outfit!

Future farmers of America

Stephen, Meredith, and Margaret Alice
After the meal, most of the crowd relocated to the barn's second floor for a barn dance.

Sweet Sheridan Anna Claire

After a nice, long afternoon nap in the farmhouse, Margaret Alice joined in on the fun!

"I want to dance too!"

Margaret looks on with admiration as her big Aunt Sheridan dances!

PaPa, PatPat, and their first great-grandbaby, Margaret Alice

After several hours of dancing, the day ended with a pie eating contest. 

What a wonderful day.  Graduation.  Baptism. Yummy food and homemade ice cream. 
Being surrounded by our dear friends and family.  
Such a gift from God.