Monthly Archives: May 2005

Time to pick the cherries

It's cherry pickin' time in KY. We weren't able to immediately recognize the trees on our property last year and we were so shocked to see the little red cherries growing. We were just fascinated by watching them grow and change to a deeper color.

Being rookies we didn't realize that the birds were watching them as well. We picked a few bucket fulls and called another family to come over and pick along with us. They came the next day and were as disappointed as we were embarassed. Even with 4 children, 2 moms and assorted ladders there wasn't even a bucket of cherries to be found in those trees.

My well experienced country neighbors just laughed. I'd had these great visions of sharing this bounty of cherries with them. I'd probably promised more cherries than an orchard can produce. I was so optimistic. I just didn't realize that the birds were working against us.

One of the lessons that we've learned on the farm is that animals wait until the fruit reaches prime ripeness. You can go to bed one night with a tree full of cherries and wake up ROBBED! It's not just the birds, it's the deer also. We had so patiently cared for our watermelon, cantaloupe and squash. We were told to wait until the stems dried up and began to wither before we picked them. Sadly we'd go back to check on the garden and our fruit would be half eaten and the tell tale deer prints would be there.

This year I was determined that we would be able to pick more of the cherries. The boys and I spent most of a day picking the cherries. It is so hard to get to the tops of those trees! I guess that's why those bucket trucks are called cherry pickers around here. We don't have a cherry picker so I stood on a large ladder, Joe stood on his 4 wheeler and Jake climbed up in the tree to use his climbing skills and bent the branches down for us.

After all the work picking the cherries, it was time to pit them. An hour or so into pitting those cherries, I suddenly became much more willing to share the remaining cherries on the trees with those birds. Fresh picked cherries are a wonderful treat, but they are considerably more tart. It takes soaking them in sugar overnight to sweeten them. I'm not sure if they are much healthier after we've soaked them like that, but it still feels good to make food straight from our trees.

There are so many lessons to be learned on our farm and I suppose learning the value of sharing with the animals is one. Maybe God sends them to keep us from overworking ourselves trying to harvest every little bit. Maybe it's to teach us to be content with what we have or something about “not counting all your chickens before they hatch”.  I'm just so thankful that God gave us this property so that we can enjoy the experience of figuring out what those little red balls were on the tree and picking them together.

The Early Bird Gets the Worm

After living out here in the country for over a year now, you would think that I would have learned by now that people wake up earlier out here.  They don't just wake up – they get dressed and get to work.  They will even come by someone else's house that early. 


Unfortunately I am NOT an early riser.  Even if I do wake up early, I don't usually get dressed first thing.  I rather enjoy the peace and quiet of the house first thing in the morning in my jammies/homeschool uniform. 


I worry what my neighbors are going to think of me.  We hadn't lived here long before a farmer down the road stopped by to ask about renting our barns at 8:30 in the morning.  Here I was stumbling to the door half asleep while it was obvious that he had been up and in the field already for hours.  Talk about making a person feel like a slacker.  I guess I was over-apologizing because he kindly said, “Ain't no reason to apologize for sleeping.  Sleep is a good thing.” 


Since then I've tried to get dressed earlier in the morning.  I like to read about the Flylady and I know that she says that you should get dressed all the way to your shoes first thing each morning.  I guess it is supposed to make you feel more efficient.  I agree with her in theory, but just can't quite give up lounging in my jammies for a while in the morning.


Of course, yet another neighbor has caught me in my jammies again this week.  Now it was another 8:30 a.m. visit, which would throw most city folk.  But this precious man had already been out disking some neighbors gardens and just wanted to see if ours needed disking.  I've learned to appreciate so much of living in the country. 


When a family's income is based on how well their crops or animals sell, they don't mess around and waste very much daylight.  They truly do get up with the roosters and work well into the night when the weather is cooperative.  It's amazing to see the combines going through the fields with their headlights.  I enjoy seeing the farmers out moving their cows into different pastures or setting out haybales for them.  To a farmer the weather is a lot more than just a nuisance, it's a major factor in his income potential. 


Just the other day I was sitting in a doctor's office and listened to some men talking about their crops.  One of the men owned a strawberry patch and was commenting about how if we didn't get some more rain, the strawberries were going to be very small.  Sure enough later in the week a friend mentioned going to a berry patch and how small the strawberries were. 


Farmers inspire me.  Farming requires so much knowledge and dedication.  You have to be willing to work whenever the weather cooperates and learn how to not grumble too much when the weather doesn't.  While all of us know that God is ultimately our Provider, it seems to me that the farmer has to have an even stronger walk of faith knowing that his crop will either produce well or not based on the weather or pests.  A farmer has to realize that he can't control the outcome.  He just has to do the best he can with what he has.


So I'm going to try and learn from my neighbors.  I'll try to remember to take every opportunity to grow a strong healthy crop of boys here at the Carter Family Farm.  I just hope God understands if I do some of it wearing my jammies. 

The Stray Horse – part 3

The Reward –


Almost exactly a week after this stray horse came running up to our fence, we saw a Lost Horse ad in our local newspaper.  The description fit Bob.  My husband called and questioned the people very carefully before acknowledging that this indeed was their horse.  The family was sooo appreciative. 


They lived more than 5 miles down the road from us and strongly suspected that someone had intentionally put their horse out of his pasture.  We had never considered the fact that someone would steal another person’s horse (uh oh) and quickly pointed out how many people we had notified while searching for the owner of the stray horse.  They told us that his name was Rebel; he was their daughter’s favorite horse and thanked us for contacting them.  They couldn’t come and get him that night, but would come the next day with their horse trailer.


It was really wonderful to be able to return their horse to them.  They were so happy and appreciative.  We had enjoyed every minute of the adventure and were kind of proud of ourselves for being able to handle it all.  Made us feel like “real” country folk.  Then they made it even better. 


They pulled our boys to the side and thanked them for their honesty.  They really had suspected foul play and were just so thankful that their horse had found his way to our farm.  They knew that some people might have been tempted just to keep their horse.  To them, we had protected him and cared for him until we could safely get him home.  They generously gave the boys a $100 reward and thanked them time and time again for taking such good care of Rebel.


What a neat experience.  I don’t guess anything like that would have ever happened when we lived in the middle of the historic district.  We had returned a stray dog there once, but not a horse!  And what if the kids were in school and preschool and I had been working away from the home, no one would have even been home to experience it.  It’s just another reason why we love homeschooling on our farm out in the country!

The Stray Horse – part 2

The Search –


Our more experienced horse friends came over to help us with the fiasco/adventure.  Here’s homeschooling at its finest.  Two homeschool moms and 5 kids looking through our horse books to try and identify the breed, age of teeth, etc.  We decided that he was a gelding, looked to be healthy, maybe 5 years old or so and seemed to have been handled before.  Meanwhile my husband started driving about a 5 mile radius around our horse asking if anyone was missing a horse.  Nothing…


So… what do you do with a stray horse?  We’d never had that problem before.  Word had gotten around our little community and other neighbors came to check out the stray horse.  They just kept saying, “Well, in all my years, we’ve never had a stray horse out here.  I guess if it was going to happen to anyone, it would happen to you all.”  They laugh at us because they love us right?


We decided to put the stray horse that we’re now calling Bob into an empty stall in the barn across from Billy.  Surely someone would show up the next day.  Nope.


We introduced the horses and fortunately they did well together.  Unfortunately our fences are enough for an old horse, not a young energetic one.  Sure enough Bob found a low spot and went over and there went our Billy running behind him.  They actually looked really pretty running through the field, but uh oh, Bob had already gotten away from his home, we didn’t want our horse running off as well.


It’s time to wrangle those horses back in the pasture.  Yee-haw!  I get the 3 year old in the SUV and the other boys get on their 4 wheelers and we begin the process of trying to herd them back to the barn.  Fortunately our Billy likes his favorite paths and his barn, so he came and then Bob followed.  But then of course, we had to do a little fence repair to keep from losing them again.  There goes a whole morning.  Let’s see… what subject can we count that experience towards…?


We started wondering if Bob was a hard headed, fence jumping horse that someone just finally said, “Good riddance” to. It seemed as if no one was looking for him.  We called local veterinarians to report a found horse and everyone enjoyed the story, but it was baffling.  I mean we wanted another horse and if God was giving us a free one this way, we were open to it, but was he really ours?

The Stray Horse

You know that saying. “You just never know what a day will bring”?  Well one day, it brought a stray horse to our farm. 


My oldest son was doing some schoolwork when he looked out our front window.  He said, “Mom, there’s a horse just running down the road!”  I was pretty sure that he was wrong since we live pretty far off of the road – maybe it was just his eyes playing tricks on him and  just a huge dog or something.  We’ve had plenty of stray dogs.  But he persisted and I went to look outside.  Sure enough, not only had Joseph noticed that “stray” horse, but so had our horse Billy!


Billy started whinnying and that horse called back and came running full throttle over to our fence.  Now we are novice horse people and didn’t know what to think of the situation.  We are still learning how to safely handle horses and didn’t know if this strange one was going to kick the stew out of us or what.  As the horses stood nose to nose, we were able to begin calming him.  Jake ran to the barn and got our halter and lead rope.


The horse looked like quite a mess and was fairly young by our guess so we weren’t sure if it had ever even worn a halter before.  We decided to just give it a try.  We really expected to see someone drive by looking for their horse any minute.  We got the halter and lead rope on him and just stood there since he seemed calmed by our horse.  We wanted to stay in full sight of the road so that anyone passing by would see the horse there. 


So many different scenarios ran through our minds – Had an Amish buggy wrecked?  Had he simply gotten out of a neighbor’s fence?  Had there been a wreck involving a horse trailer and he’d gotten loose that way?  We just could not imagine.  So there we stood…waiting for someone to come looking for the horse.


We felt like regular cowboys rustlin’ up a runaway.  The boys got our brushes and started working out all of the burs and tangles.  We offered the horse some oats and water.  We figured we might as well try to keep him comfortable until someone showed up for him.  We weren’t even really sure if the horse was even a boy or girl, but by our inexperienced guess it was a gelding. 


I was a little leery of what to do with this horse.  I didn’t want him in the pasture with our horse until we knew he was healthy, I was afraid he’d go a little nuts if we tied him to something and I couldn’t just have one of the boys hold onto him.  Thank goodness for cordless phones. There we stood at the end of our driveway with the horse and the cordless phone calling all our neighbors.