A mere 248 days ago I was given the Jillian Michaels Six Week Six Pack workout DVD. Yeah, that's right - Christmas. I now wonder what I was thinking asking for a gift like that when I could have had chocolate. Some of you know last November I decided to chronicle my trials and tribulations with the 30 Day Shred on Facebook. Well, I'm not going to chronicle the whole start to finish from fried cheese on a stick abs to six pack abs, but I'll occasionally keep you informed on my progress. I figure if I do an occasional blog about it, it may do several things - 1. Inspire you to seek out a way to improve yourself in some form or function and 2. Hold me accountable to my goal. So, today it begins...
Dear Ms. Michaels:
I know we haven't seen each other since last November. You may think it's been too long, but after completing day one of your Six Week Sick (I mean Six) Pack workout I think it hasn't been long enough. I know we had an appointment to begin last Wednesday, but I decided to put you off until Monday when all the kids were back at school. What? You say it's Wednesday? Well, technically you're right. Hmmmm, where does the time go!? Well, you see, I came down with this stomach funk on Sunday night and it carried me right through until yesterday. Knowing how I felt when we began the 30 Day Shred, and how I had issues with even the slightest movement for days afterwards, I felt it was better to wait until I had sufficiently recovered. Hey, I'm here now...right?
I thought the torture you presented me with on a daily basis through the 30 Day Shred was crazy, but this time you have crossed the line into pure insanity. I think even my eyeballs hurt. I definitely wasn't a pretty picture. Of course, Eldest had to come in and watch me delve into your world for a bit, making sure to bolster my spirits with juuuuust the right amount of ridicule to be keep me irritated and going. His first words when he walked in was, "Oh, now I know why Bishop was crying." Bishop is his parrot, by the way, who kept screaming at me as I sweat, strained, and grunted. Hopefully by the time we're finished he won't have picked up any new words.
I am determined to devote at least 5 days a week to this ab perfection endeavor...or at least come close anyway. I have a dress I'd like to wear again without having to layer up with several types of undergarments at once, each promising to reign it all in, but in reality not able to do the job alone -hence layering up. Breathing is important and said layering along with sucking in my stomach makes it a chore.
So, today it starts. A routine I will do my ultimate best to follow while not succumbing to the desire I have at this very moment to chuck your DVD into the pond. Have a wonderful day, and I'll see you tomorrow. Smiling & Waving, Sharon
The National Cattleman's Beef Association came up with a fantastic slogan years ago when they started their "Beef. It's What's For Dinner." campaign. What they probably didn't expect is Chillicothe being home to one of the tastiest beef producers in the country. That's right! Sunnybank Farms. Don and Patty Shoemaker are the cattlemen (er, cattlepeople) behind the beef...all natural Angus beef, that is. I don't know your perspective on the natural part of it all, but to me and many others it makes a world of difference!
That's Don and Patty up there on the left. Don't forget to give them a big friendly hello wave! That woman at McDonald's using their free WiFi while drinking her McCafe' whatever it was did. Don't even ask me how I know. It was a little shy wave, but I saw it.
Now Don and Patty have been at the Market for quite some time. Every year I look forward to seeing them down on the end of the Market row. They are such a friendly couple and Patty is a sweetheart! Seeing their smiling faces really makes my Saturday morning.
This past Saturday I made it a point to pick up some of their ground beef so we could enjoy burgers on the grill this evening. Yum! In no way are they limited to ground beef either. They have mouth watering other parts too, like steaks and roasts. And then there's the vegetables...and honey...and berries... Why, you can get enough at their stand to make a complete meal! It's like one-stop shopping! Next time you're at the Chillicothe Farmer's Market, make it a point to stop by Sunnybank Farms and say hello to Don and Patty. You'll be glad you did.
So, there you have it folks...Sunnybank farms. Angus beef without the extra stuff. I highly suggest you give it a go if you haven't a. Then instead of asking, "Where's the beef?" You'll be joining me and many others in saying, "Sunnybank beef - it's what's for dinner!"
"I'm a little bit country...and I'm a little bit rock and roll..." Well, we are a little bit country, but we're a whole lot of rock and roll around here. Sure, I turn on the country music and wail to the tunes, but there's nothing like the sounds of good old fashioned rock & roll!
Yesterday afternoon Hon said he wanted to take me to the Obetz Zucchinifest. Hmmmmm, I thought...where is Obetz and why to a zucchini festival? Maybe because we didn't grow a plethora of zucchini this year. Might make for an interesting date, I suppose. Well, let me tell you, it was a fantastic date! You see, the Obetz Zucchinifest was having a free concert last night - Jaon Jett and the Blackhearts. Totally free. No parking fee, no entrance fee, no concert fee. F.R.E.E. We took a couple of folding chairs, told the kids to behave themselves (it's grand, by the way when there's a child old enough to keep an eye on the others), and off we went.
Obetz is about an hour from here. No big deal, we're used to driving to places. It was a nice drive and we enjoyed talking about whatever came to mind. When we got to Obetz there was a good bit of traffic, but everyone was cordial and parking went easy. Then it was off to the baseball field for the concert. I just love, by the way, that the concert was at home plate. Chairs in hand we walked the distance easily, found ourselves a good spot, and plunked ourselves down. Then Hon asked if I wanted something to eat. Uh, yeeeeaaah, I thought...we're at a festival. I also wondered if they had fried cheese on a stick, but decided to hold that thought since I'm going to start exercising tomorrow to get rid of the excess fried cheese baggage - but that's a story for another time. Then Hon went off in search of some sort of festival delectable while I did some people watching. Well, he found it. He came back with two of those luscious powdered sugar topped funnel cakes...and a soda to share...diet of course. We munched away on our funnel cakes and shared our drink while we waited for the show to start. I must admit, I did NOT eat a good portion of my funnel cake. I just couldn't do it. I kept hearing Jillian Michaels scolding me in my head about starting to exercise tomorrow.
Before Joan Jett and the Blackhearts began playing, this wonderful little girl with the most beautiful voice sang the National Anthem. Major kudos to her for hitting those particularly high notes that I can only dream of reaching. Then the Major of Obetz said a few words. Nice man, by the way. After that the moment had arrived...Joan Jett and the Blackhearts took the stage. They belted out familiar tunes like Cherry Bomb, Crimson and Clover, and I Love Rock and Roll. Then also took it a step further and sung some totally new songs that haven't been released yet like one called "TMI." They played the new songs in totally awesome Joan Jett style, delivering a message along with an opinion in rock and rolls style. All in all, they performed for about 1 1/2 hours. We danced, we sang, we had a blast!
I want to thank the city (town? village?) of Obetz, the Obetz Zucchinifest, Capital City Trailers, and Scioto Downs Racino for sponsoring this wonderful event. We truly appreciate all the funds that must have gone into getting Joan Jett and the Blackhearts out to the festival. Last night you gave us a fantastic date night.
I also want to make sure and thank the woman in front of us with the blue knit pants, grey shirt, and pink baseball cap for the consistent show of, hmmmmm, how should I put it nicely..."crack." The way the moonlight lit up your backside is something that will be embedded in my mind for quite some time. Nothing like sporting a "crack in your moon" for such a long time without a care in the world. Might I suggest trying a pair of pants that sport belt loops...and a belt? Folks behind you would really appreciate it.
So, there you have it folks. Hon took me on an awesome date last night. I hadn't been to a concert since he took me to Aerosmith a couple of years ago.
As I sit here this evening, exhausted from staying up until the wee hours earlier this morning due to coyote issues, gagging over yet another evening of an ever persistent skunk fouling up the air, I am able to reflect on the day. Many nights after the kids go to bed and it's quiet I enjoy thinking about how things went. This evening, probably because of the skunk funk, I'm thinking about morning chores.
I have a habit of doing morning chores in my pajamas. Not the really nasty stall cleaning out stuff, just the morning wake-up calls and feeding parts. I'm sure lots of folks do farm chores wearing their pajamas. For me, it's been the way of it is since we moved here. No matter that the first week we lived here I locked myself out of the house and had to walk up and down the next road over looking for someone who was home so I could borrow their telephone to get a locksmith over. At least I had my bathrobe on; it was January. I'm sure the mailman didn't think a thing of it last week when I was running around the yard in my p.j.'s picking up Phoebe's wool when the wind started blowing. After 4 1/2 years of delivering the mail here nothing should phase him.
Usually the garbage is picked up early, before the school bus gets the kids. I asked the Kid to drag the can up the driveway by the van so the bus didn't hit it. No big deal. Bus safety, don't you know. After the bus picked up the kids I put on my worn yet still cheery fuschia rain boots with the yellow chickens. I thought they went quite well with the pink shorty nightgown that sported sheep all over it. I even added a light sweater since it was chilly out. I was pure class. Then off I went to get the chores done.
After I was finished I decided to shake out some dirty Shetland fleece and wash it. Might as well get dressed afterwards since it can be a dirty job. As I was shaking it out I thought I heard the familiar sound of the garbage truck, but figured my ears were deceiving me because it should have already been here. The Kid had moved the empty can for me. But there it was...the garbage truck was rounding the turn at the front pasture. I thought surely Kid wouldn't have moved a can full of garbage back. I ran up the driveway to where the can sat and gave it a tug. It didn't move because it was full. Next thing you know I'm trying to get the garbage man's attention so he doesn't keep driving on and will stop for the garbage. I'm sure it was my hollering that got him to stop. The man was quite nice about me not having the can sitting out at the road. He said he was a substitute for the day, that the regular guy wasn't working today, and he got a late start. I told him my story of Kid dragging a can full of garbage back from the road, and he said he completely understands, that his kid would have done the same thing. See, totally normal. Then I told him I was glad he heard me and didn't drive off without the garbage. He said he didn't hear me, but it was hard to miss me in my pajamas and boots trying to run up the driveway while dragging a garbage can. Yup, totally normal.
So, there you have it folks. The end to another day here at The Silver Maple Farm. The crickets are chirping, the skunk is stinking, and if you're ever driving by in the morning...okay, any time of day...and see something that might not look quite right, don't worry because it's totally normal. Smiling & Waving, Sharon
The lines were drawn months ago...the epic battle continues...there can be but one victor in (da-da-daaaaa) The Waterfowl War!
Months ago when I brought home the ducklings, and then Alice hatched out two goslings, all was calm...peaceful...relaxed. It was nice having the little fluffer nutters around. Then the babies grew...and the war began. The battle over Silver Maple Pond is a daily affair. It began at the edge of the pond. Whoever made it there in the morning was pond commander. At first I made sure to take turns letting the ducks and geese out on opposite days so they both had the opportunity to score the pond for that day. It seemed to work until they got bigger and bolder. Now the ducks have completely taken over the pond, leaving the geese with a paltry rubber water bowl and the trough that the sheep sip from and the horses drool in. Oh sure, they cross the line into enemy territory to get to the pond on and off every day. There's running, there's wing flapping, and there's a whole lot of hollering going on. Sometimes the geese win and get some pond time and other times they are beat back to their side of the fence. Just when it seems like all is well, someone out there has to say smack and it begins all over again. It's pandemonium!
Maybe it's because I ended up with four male ducks (all named Howard so there's no confusion) and there's no female for them to fight over. Whatever the reason, it's four on four on and off every day...at least for a little while longer. Do you remember when I brought the ducklings home and Hon said I could keep one male and one female? You remember I was told that the one with the lighter beak was most definitely a female...well, that guy totally yanked my chain. She's a he. No matter how many times I tried to coach that duck into being a girl, it was a no go. I was really looking forward to duck eggs because they're fantastic to bake with. Now Hon's looking forward to inviting each of them to dinner. Then the Waterfowl War will rage no more...unless I can find myself a female Pekin. Then I'll be able to save at least one of the Howards.
So, there you have it folks. The battle rages on as I type. There was peace for a while and then one of the Howards started slinging what I can only imagine are insults, which got Moe's feathers ruffled. Moe and his troops have now crossed the line and the Howards are marching over to give them the business. It's (da-da-daaaaa) The Waterfowl War! Smiling & Waving, Sharon
Ahhh, the Beatles classic song "Strawberry Fields Forever"...or what about "Who's In the Strawberry Patch with Sally" by Tony Orlando and Dawn...or even "Strawberry Letter #23" by Brothers Johnson... I could even stretch as far as to list Prince singing "Strawberry Love" and Coldplay's "Strawberry Swing." Hmmmmm, see a theme here? Yup, you betcha - strawberries are mentioned in all those songs! Folks eat them, drink their juice, and sing about them. My personal favorite is dipped in chocolate or cut up with a sweet sprinkling of sugar...but I'll sing about them, too, if you'd like.
I suppose I should have spotlighted Al and Christie Welch of Welch (Berry) Farms earlier in the season, but quite honestly, I didn't think about the time of year in relation to the product they provide us with at the Market. What can I say, I'm "strawberry" blond. Sometimes I realize something after the bus left the station...days before. Seems to me it should still be June and here we are at the tail end of August. Even so, I want to tell you about this wonderful berry growing family.
Al and Christie grow the most luscious mouth wateringly amazing makes my taste buds sing berries! And not just strawberries, either. They also grow blackberries that are wider than my thumb. Really! I dream of growing berries like theirs some day, but until I actually plant the bushes and impatiently wait for them to grow, which may be 20 years from now, I'll stand in line at Welch's. Yes, that's right. I'll stand in line. When Welch's is at the Chillicothe Farmers Market folks line up to buy the freshest berries around and I don't blame them one bit...I'm standing right there with them.
I figure berry growing season might just be over for the year, but whether it is or not, I want to thank Al and Christie from the bottom of my stomach for the hard work they do to provide families all around with great tasting berries! When they're at the Market it makes that particular morning all the better. I also want to thank Christie for being a wonderful Chillicothe Farmer's Market President. She's not only been a Market member for years, but she's also held a position on the board for more years than we've been here. She helps keep us together and on track.
So, there you have it folks. Next time you see Al and Christie Welch at the Market make sure to stop by and say hi. You'll be glad you did. I'll be across from them, more than likely licking berry juice off my fingers... Smiling & Waving, Sharon
Kid: "Hey Mom, were you outside?"
Kid: "I didn't know you were out there." "Is it raining?" he asks as I'm standing there soaking wet, dripping water on the floor.
Me: No response - just the look only a mother can give when a totally ridiculous question like that is asked.
Eldest: "She was out putting up the temporary electric fence."
Kid: "Why were you out in the rain doing that?"
Me: "Because the animals are hungry and they need to eat. Sometimes we have to do things we don't want to so they're taken care of properly. Besides, I've earned myself a trip to Coldstone Creamery later for some ice cream...in a waffle cone."
Eldest: "Uh-oh! Why not us, too?"
Me: "Because you weren't out there in the rain with me doing the job and you knew I was out there doing it. You guys could have all gone out to help and it would have been done sooner."
Kid: "Anything else have to be done out there still?"
Me: "Always. How about fill the trough and get Potsy back in the yard? Eldest, you get those garbage cans in." "Hey Young'un, get yourself outside and let those turkeys and ducks out. If everyone pulls their weight we'll all go get ice cream later."
I just love it when life on our little farm teaches a valuable lesson...especially when ice cream is involved! Smiling & Waving, Sharon
I decided when I got up this morning today would be bunny maintenance day. In truth, whether you have an English Angora, French Angora, German Angora, or the ever elusive Bora Bora Angora (I'm yanking your chain, there is no Bora Bora Angora), every day is bunny maintenance day. Because I'm relatively low maintenance, and Phoebe is high maintenance, the daily process balances out. You see, I listened to a talk a few weeks ago on Namaste Farm's Blogtalk Radio program on English Angoras (shameless plug - it's on Thursday evenings, 9:00 p.m. EST). This wonderful and uber knowledgeable woman named Betty Chu was the speaker. I learned a lot of great information from her. She also sent me some links to a website showing pictures of Angoras getting a trim. That inspired me to get hopping with the program. Today, by golly, is bunny maintenance day - major bunny maintenance day!
After fur and feathers were taken care of this morning it was time. Now I'm sure folks that do professional bunny maintenance have some sort of set-up to do the trim job, but here at The Silver Maple it was me and Phoebe sitting under the I don't know what kind of tree it is, but it sure has pretty flowers in the spring tree. I had a pair of child-size scissors, a pair of Fiskars scissors Hon gave me that I use to trim up the sheep, and my green hair comb. We sat in the grass under that tree and I started...after saying several prayers to the bunny Gods...just in case there are bunny Gods.
It was going along pretty good...then the wind started blowing. Next thing you know I was telling Phoebe to stay where she's at so I could run around the yard picking up her wool. Sometimes it's good to live in the country on a one-lane road where only the postman will see me running around chasing after bunny wool in my pajamas and pink chicken boots. I mean, really, who's he going to tell anyway?
So, back to my story...I did pretty good on her back. Then I went around to the sides. That really made me nervous, quite frankly. She was sitting so good. Then I did it. I will not tell a lie and I will not sugarcoat it. I nicked her. Oh I felt horrible! Matter of fact, I still do. It's not a big nick, but a nick is a nick and whether it's on a sheep or my little fluffer nutter, Phoebert, I feel just sick about it. I didn't even know I did it at first because she didn't flinch or move. Now you're wondering what I did after I saw the nick...well, I sprayed Vetricin on it real good and then when the whole process was over I sprayed some Granulex that we get from the vet on it for wound sprays. We found that to be a fantastic thing to have when the sheep were attacked by those dogs. It's brown, so that'll mess up that spot as it heals and the wool grows back, but I'll snip those brown ends off as it gets longer. I swear every time I see her and that little spot I get upset all over again!
It seems that Phoebe isn't holding a grudge, though. After I finished her top and sides I rolled her over on her back and trimmed up the bottom half. Then, since I literally took several hours to get through this process, I let her have some time to do what bunnies do without me messing with her. Basically that means the Phoebester has a date with the weeds and dirt. Nice thing is after she was finished, because she has the buzz cut she's sporting, there wasn't much maintenance to do...this time.
So, there you have it folks. Bunny maintenance day was a relative success. I say relative because of that horrible nick. I now have a nice bit of Angora wool to add to some fiber so I can make special yarn and Phoebe is happy to feel the wind on her skin again. I'd show you a picture of Phoebe's after cut, but she gave me that big eyed bunny look and pleaded with me to just go with one where she was holding her ribbon from last week. Don't worry, Phoebe, I understand. You're still beautiful! Smiling & Waving, Sharon
Another Ross County Fair has come and gone. Just think, 51 weeks from now we'll have just dropped off the 4-H projects again. I'll be an official 4-H poultry advisor for the Ragged Ridge Ramblers (if I don't miss the meeting again) and families from all around will be enjoying all that the fair has to offer. In the meantime, we have plenty of fond memories to keep us company.
This morning Hon and I helped the Kid clean out two turkey pens, three chicken pens, and stalls for four sheep. It was quite a job. More so for Hon and the Kid because they were the muscle behind it all. That's because I kept running into folks to talk with. I can't help it. I'm a bit social.
I will not miss the smell of the barns, be it sheep, poultry, goat, swine, or cattle. Oops, almost forgot the rabbits and horses, too. I still can't get the smell of all that animal compost out of my nose. I will miss the smell of fresh cinnamon rolls and coffee in the morning, fried cheese on a stick at lunch, and a funnel cake chaser. I will not miss what seems to be my personal spot at the back of the parking lot, although I will miss knowing our kids have a great place to go off on their own without me having to worry (the fair itself, no the parking lot).
I want to thank each and every person that makes the fair what it is. Whether you've entered something, shown something, judged something, volunteered to do something, cleaned something, sold something, or gone just for the enjoyment of what the fair has to offer, thank you for making our county fair the greatest Ohio has to offer. May the memories you've created carry you through until next year.
I don't know about you, but I'm exhausted after a week of added excitement and activity. Maybe I should turn in early. You know, just lay down and blissfully fall asleep...just not like that hog up there with the feed bowl stuck to it's, uh, rump roast... Smiling & Waving, Sharon
Yesterday was the open class poultry show. I entered some chickens, Eldest entered some pigeons, and Young'un entered his turkeys and chickens. You might say we like to show off our poultry. There's not much to do for it except make sure our birds are looking good. Then we wait for the judge to do his thing. That's the hardest part...waiting. We did pretty good. My two Dominique roosters came in 1st and 2nd, and their hens also came in 1st and 2nd. My Serama, Wally, got a 1st and so did his Mottled Japanese Bantam girlfriend. The Kid's Royal Palm turkeys, Buddy & Potsy, came in 2nd place. His Mille Fleur d'uccle rooster, Growler, was awarded 1st place and his two hens came in 1st and 4th. We are very happy with how well they did. Like I had mentioned, Eldest took in some of his pigeons to show. His Egyptian Swift and Homing pigeon males were awarded 3rd place. The real wonderful surprise was his English Trumpeter, Sam. She not only was awarded a 1st place, but she was also awarded the Champion Pigeon. Eldest was floating on air over that one and I don't blame him a bit. Sam is a beautiful girl! We are so happy with how well Eldest takes care of his birds!! A big congratulations to everyone who brought poultry, pigeons, and doves to the open class show!
Now I move on to the food since while I was at the fair earlier today I had my share...again. If you think about it, food plays an important roll in our lives and not just for sustenance. Fair food is no different. How many times do you get yourself a funnel cake or elephant ear besides when you're at a fair? Our lives revolve around what we put in our mouths, whether it's good or bad for us. Now I can't say fair food is healthy, but it sure is good. Expensive, but good. Take that fried cheese on a stick - oh my goodness! I swear there must be two days worth of calories wrapped up in one, but my mouth is in total bliss while I'm eating it. The pizza, cinnamon rolls, calzones, fries, apple cider slushes...my stomach is growling just thinking about it! I'm not even going to mention what my diet has consisted of this week because Jillian Michaels would hunt me down and remind me about that ab exercise DVD I have been ignoring for 8 months now. I'm thinking once the kids are back in school I should really give it a go...especially after I've eaten all those...oh, never mind. What else can I say? Fair food...it's what's for dinner! Thank goodness we're packing it all in tomorrow.
So there you have it folks. Open class poultry showing was a success. Eldest has himself a champion pigeon, and we've eaten more than our fair share of fair food. Seems like a cause for celebration! Fried cheese on a stick anyone? Smiling & Waving, Sharon
I'm the queen of our farm, although the animals wouldn't agree. My title is Head Chicken Wrangler, but most days I'm just called Mom. Life on a farm is full of family and hard work and I wouldn't have it any other way.