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Friday, November 30, 2018

How Do You Pick Your Christmas Presents?

How do you choose who gets what present for Christmas?
I hate asking, What would you like for Christmas? It takes the surprise out of it.

Here's what my children Diane and Molly used to do to me.

Kids: Mom, we never know what to get you for Christmas. This year, make a list of everything you would like to have and put the one thing you want at the top of your list.

 Me: It will take all of the surprises out of Christmas morning.
Kids: If you don't cooperate you'll end up with socks, glove, and a scarf again this year. Oh, yeah, and we never forget the chocolate covered cherries. You don't have to put those on the list.

Me: When do you want this list?

Kids: Two weeks. In two weeks we'll give you and Dad our lists and you guys can give us yours.

Two weeks past and we are all at the kitchen table having dinner.

Kids: We have our lists do you have yours? (They look from me to their Dad and give us huge smiles)

Jump forward to Christmas morning. Five-thirty a.m. actually. Molly could never wait. ( Sometime
 I'll tell you how excited she was to go swimming on vacation and jumped into the deep end of the swimming pool before she could swim.)

The kids could never remember who helped clean the kitchen last or took out the trash, but they took turns giving out presents each year. They never forgot whose turn it was.

Everyone gets their first present and we wait our turn to open them so we could ooh and aww at the gifts we each received.

The first present wasn't on my list.
The second wasn't on my list, nor was the third, or the fourth.
As a matter of fact, I did not get one of the presents I put on my list.

I didn't want to act ungrateful or embarrass them so I let it go.
Next year-repeat of the year before.
So I asked, "why do you ask for a list when you never by anything I write down
Answer: If we bought you the gifts on your wish list you wouldn't be surprised.     99 cents until Christmas Eve

Tuesday, November 13, 2018


Thanksgiving sneaked up on me this year. I began a new project, a cozy mystery series and my goal is to write it in 30 writing days. 
 Notice I didn't say thirty days. I took two days off for Grandparents day and to see the kids. I've gone to meetings, played, written blogs, and read.  Yesterday I wrote day 21, I have 32 thousand words. To keep my promise to myself I'd have to write 28 thousand words in 10 days.

It isn't going to happen so let's talk about Thanksgiving. What's your favorite menu for this particular holiday. Mine is turkey-mashed potatoes and gravy- dressing/stuffing-sweet potato casserole with marshmallows- green bean casserole with onion rings on top- and cranberries. Pumpkin pie with whipped cream and pecan pie rounds it out for me.

I know some facts about Thanksgiving you might find interesting. You probably don't know them because most people aren't research nuts like I am.
Over 260 million turkeys are raised each year for Thanksgiving dinners.
It takes around 800 million pounds of cranberries to feed us.
And over 3.2 billion pounds sweet potatoes.

It isn't tryptophan that makes us so sleepy after dinner, WE GET SLEEPY
They didn't serve only turkey at the first Thanksgiving, they had deer, geese, ducks, and wild turkey.

President Lincoln declared Thanksgiving a National Holiday in 1863.
The Detroit Lions have played in every game on the holiday since 1934. They did stop during WWII.
Don't forget the Macy's Parade or Black Friday.
By the way, our Canadian friends have a celebration like Thanksgiving the second Monday in October.

No matter how you spend your Thanksgiving Holiday, I hope it is the best one you have ever had. 
Be grateful for what you have, not what is missing in your life.
 Send a blessing to others who have less than you or who are worse off than you. There is always someone who thinks your life is charmed compared to yours.  Say a prayer for a gentler, kinder world. 
Love to all, Happy Thanksgiving.

Sunday, November 4, 2018

ARKANSAS BLACK APPLES with great apple crisp recipe


A seven-acre orchard with about 240 trees doesn't make me an expert, but I know a little something about fruit.
Coyotes, turtles, birds, deer, and raccoons love it, and they will all eat the  Arkansas Black if there is nothing else around.

Seems you don't pick Blacks until it frosts. The longer you have them around the blacker and sweeter they become.
Last night I picked a bushel off of one tree, and it's not your typical apple tree. They are gnarly, skinny, and as atypical as can be. There is only one out there I would consider an apple tree

The main reason so many folks have never tasted them is that they are not marketed in your local grocery store, where the number one apple is a Red Delicious. It is red, sweet, and delicious. Clever name, huh?
My favorite apples are Gala or

Fuji. If you've never tasted different apples, branch out. Open a bag and put one of each kind in and see which you like best. It probably won't be Red Delicious.

An Arkansas Black Apple is a cross between a Winesap and a Pipkin, or so they think. Someone in Bentonville, Arkansas grafted trees together and came up with the apple. No one heard of an Arkansas Black before 1840 which takes Johnny Appleseed out of the picture. He was born in 1774 and would have been seventy-five by then.

Everything has a bright side. The bright side of blacks is that we will be eating the last of them in late February or early March.
My method of storage is rather simple. I don't wash them. I wrap each one in a square of newspaper and stack them in a cooler. 
The coolers (sometimes it takes several) ae stored in the barn. 
When we run out of apples in the house, I take a basket out and refill it.
As they age, they get a waxy feel to them. I wash them off because I don't know what might have touched them while they were on the trees.
We don't use pesticides or commercial fertilizers here. Poisons destroy the good nutrition apples provide.
Now that I am familiar with the apple I realize they are used in advertisements regularly. Before they sit in storage they are dark red with an almost lime green top.
I've added a great recipe I think all of you apple lovers will like. This recipe can be made with any variety of apple.
Apple Crisp Recipe

10 cups apples, peeled and sliced
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 tablespoon lemon zest  (optional)
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup golden raisins (optional)
Topping Mixture:
1 1/2 sticks butter
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups light brown sugar
1 1/2 cups oats
2 tablespoons lemon zest
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
Vegetable oil or cooking spray

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2.  Butter a 9 by 14 by 2-inch oval baking dish.
  3. Peel, core, and cut the apples into large wedges. Combine the apples with the
  4. sugar, and spices. Pour into the dish.
  5. To make the topping, combine the flour, sugars, salt, oatmeal, and cold butter in the bowl of an electric mixer
  6.  Mix on low speed until the mixture is crumbly and the butter is the size of peas. Scatter evenly over the apples.
  7. Place the crisp on a sheet pan and bake for 1 hour until the top is brown and the apples are bubbly. Serve warm.

Monday, October 8, 2018

Play Dead.

A long time ago we decided to go to a store every one of our friends had told us about.
     It was in the middle of nowhere. The directions went something like this Take the road that goes to Conway. Turn right at the grocery store. Go until you see a farm on your left with a sign at the end of the fence that says Meat Packing  1 mile. Turn left there and go down that dirt road until you come to a fork. Take the fork to the left and go until you see the store on your left. The road gets worse and worse, but keep going. You are in the right place.
       This is part of the explanation of how we ended up with 9 dogs and six cats. 
     One Saturday morning we got in the old Suburban we used as a farm vehicle. Can't drive it in the rain because it has some holes in the side and we don't want it to rust. Can't drive it in the freezing weather because the only heat comes through the vent and there is not enough to defrost the windshield.
    Can sell it because it has 4 new Michelin tires that are worth more than the SUV. We also use it to take small animals to the vet.
    Ah, I am going in the wrong direction. We got about six miles down the road and a Bassett hound was laying in the middle of the road. We stopped the car to see if it was hurt. That dog did not move a muscle. 
    My passenger jumped out of the car and ran to the dog. I sat in the Suburban with cars honking and going around while she took a look at the dog.
     As soon as she got to the dog and leaned over to check it out, the dog up, ran to the open car door and jumped in. She didn't stop there. She went over the back seat and the third seat and ended up in the cargo area.
      I was so busy sitting with my mouth wide open in utter amazement that I almost missed the other two dogs who ran out of the tall grass off the shoulder of the road and followed her exact path.
   We now had three dogs in the back of the car.
    We needed to move off the road and assess the situation. 

    My idea was to leave the dogs and if they were there when we came back we would pick them up.
     The answer was. "I couldn't live with myself if we came back and one of them was actually smashed on the road."
     I left all the windows down in the car while we were in the store so if they wanted to leave, they could. 
     They didn't,
      The Bassett hound had just had babies, the Rat Terrier was an intact male and the puppy looked like you would expect that match up to look like.
       I wanted to add a picture of Odie, the youngest one, but it is too dark outside.
      Zoi, the Bassett, crossed the Rainbow Bridge last year. Jack is sixteen and follows my every step. Odie is twelve. 
      Sometimes the seemingly most unhandy events turn out to be a  big blessing.
Come back and visit me again, There is always something going on at the farm.
Leave a comment here or you can reach me at


Thursday, October 4, 2018

Meet Kay, the Halflinger Mule

Meet Kay the Halflinger Mule
Kay, affectionately known as Kaybo, is going on twenty-eight years old. The good news is the lifespan of a mule can be fifty or more.

I am sure most of you know what a mule is, but for those who don't, here's a little lesson. If a female horse and a male donkey get together, the offspring is a Mule.  If a male horse and a female donkey get together, the baby is called a Henny. A donkey is a donkey.
We bought Kay and her younger sister, Bec from a man in Joplin who was too old to care for them. They were twelve and thirteen. 

Bec who was a year young is no longer with us. She is in the great pasture in the sky. I know dogs cross the Rainbow bridge. In my heart, I don't think any type of animal is turned away and not permitted to cross.

When Kay began to look thin, we brought her out of the horse pasture and gave her free reign of the entire place  (except for the horse pasture). 
Since it is apple season and we have an orchard, we had to close the gate to it for now. She would go out and eat every apple on the ground and it wasn't beneath her to pull the ones off the low hanging branches. We were going to have to go from fattening her up to putting her on a diet.

She is both funny and a pain in the butt. Today when I tried to take her picture, she followed me so close she pushed me back to the yard.

One night I took a golf cart down the lane to get away from the light so I could watch an eclispe of the moon. 
I got out of the cart to get a better look at the sky. When you get away from the light of the house and outbuildings,  turn off the lights on the vehicle, it is pitch black. You can't see your hand in front of your face. 
I was there a few minutes when something touched my shoulder. I didn't know I could still move so fast.

It was Kaybo. She came up behind me and rested her head on my shoulder. If she had been a person I bet she would have said, whatcha doin'?

There are sheep in several of the places she can go. For the first six weeks, they ran from her. The only protection sheep have is to make a circle like a wagon train, stretch their necks to the ground and don't move. They get so close together, you couldn't put a hand between them.
 If we see that from the house, one of us runs out
to find what is causing them to be afraid. To realize how helpless they are upsets me when I see them in that position.

Thank goodness they have learned to walk around her. As with most animals, Kaybo lives for food. We keep treats in the golf carts and tractors for the horses and donkeys. Kaybo knows where every can is stored in every machine. If you don't give her one, she will get her own. 

 Come back and visit me again. Lot's of things happen on a farm.

Monday, October 1, 2018

Apples, Apples, and more Apples


Here on the farm, we have five varieties of apples-Gala, Fuji, Red Delicious, Jonagold, and Arkansas Blacks.
Seems like each year one variety takes the spotlight. This year it was Fuji. 

Due to the draught, our apples were small. When I sold them at the Farmer's Market next to a man who had 5000 apple trees (we had 154), he would laugh and say my apples were too small. His fruit looked as if it came out of a catalog. Of course, it looked like that because it was sprayed every month, twelve months a year.
 We are all natural. We use no sprays or fertilizers other than chicken, sheep, and cow manure.
 The Farmer's Market is where I learned how few children and adults in a certain group eat fruit. 
Diggitty the Dog at the Farm (The Adventures of Diggitty the Dog Book 1)
I took a wicker basket and filled it full of apples and pears. Every child who passed my truck, I offered a piece of fruit. At least two children a week ask - which is the apple and which is the pear? Kids were familiar with applesauce and apple pie, but not real apples. Most had never seen or eaten a pear. My goal the first year was to educate children about fruit.  Now mind you, it wasn't all the kids. But the ones who didn't know fruit belonged to the parents who visited the pie lady, the cookie lady, and the guy with the honey sticks.

I was so upset about it I wrote a children's book about how apples are grown in an orchard, Diggitty Dog on the Farm.

Do you know stone fruits, such as peaches, plums, and nectarines
bloom first and then leaf out? Fruits like apples get their leaves first and then the blossoms. Many peach crops don't make it in the colder regions because of it. We only get a peach crop here at the farm about every five years. 

 There are so many stories to share about the farm. Come back again soon. 
You can email me at or leave a comment below.

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Susan's Musings: Get Rid of Spiders In Your Home This Winter

Susan's Musings: Get Rid of Spiders In Your Home This Winter: My favorite time of year is fall. I love apples, pears, fall festivals, Halloween, and cooler weather. I detest spiders. When you live on a ...