Thursday, December 21, 2017

One, Two Birthdays...

Though neither Tiffany, nor Caitlin wished to have babies in December, God chose for both of our grandgirls to be born then, one year and one day apart. Maybe that was for me -- because I LOVE DECEMBER, and having two little sweets celebrate birthdays only adds to the fun! I mean, the whole world is decorated for your celebration, and everyone is itching to do happy, fun stuff, so what can be bad about that?!

Spoken as one whose birthday is in May...I know: too much of a good thing, nothing the rest of the year, etc. But God decided, so I say let's make the most of it! :)

And Emma's and Kit's mommas did just that.

Emma's birthday came first, but her party waited until Grandma Pat & Grandpa Gordon were in town. On the actual day, she came to this Grandma's house for breakfast. I'm glad we made this list of fun things to do on her birthday! In the days leading up to her birthday, her parents coached her on stating her new age. It became a very serious event to her, as she would solemnly state, "Gonna be two..."

Meanwhile, Kit was learning to point her little index finger high when asked, "How old is Kit?"
(This is not a video, just a screenshot. Wish I could have made the video work.)

Oh my heart!

We had a lovely little cake and ice cream party at Jon & Cait's house for Kit's birthday. Fun presents, fun cousins and Kit loved the cake!

Kit loved her Angus night light...It looks exactly like her good buddy!

And when you're done with cake, you can still suck frosting off your thumb!

Then Saturday, we celebrated with Emma's cousins, and presents, and she loved her chocolate cake!
The TWO tutu!

Grandma Pat brought pretties from Hawaii!

She ate the whole piece of chocolate cake, and no wasting it on her face! 

We are so thankful for these two darling girls! Emma and her spunk, storytelling and zest for life. Kit and her sweetly lisping gibberish, and her determined, quiet problem solving play. They are amazing! And they love us, especially Grandpa, which is so sweet to see. Their parents are doing such a good job, loving and leading them.

Indeed, they deserve the best of celebrations because they are the best blessing we enjoy here on this earth!

Happy Birthdays, precious Emma and Kit!!

Monday, October 30, 2017

More than the leaves were changing here...

Friday morning, we had the fun and privilege of participating in the Farewell Show for Dillon on KGMI radio. After 12 years on the radio, he is moving on to new challenges as Communications Director for Save Family Farming. It’s a great fit for him, and will be a nice change to more regular hours (the news makes for an irregular and demanding schedule!) as he and Tiffany now have a kiddo. As well, he can now focus on his passion for agriculture, and I think the ag community will benefit! I will certainly miss hearing him every day, but am mollified to know that I can still listen in Saturday mornings, 7:00am, to his Farming Show. You should too!

Then Saturday, Randy and I, Jon, Cait and Kit, caravanned down to Olympia to pack up Jess’ apartment and move him north, to Mercer Island. Jess, too, has a new job. He is moving on from his work in the Legislature as a Public Information Officer for the Senate Republicans. He’s spent a number of years, in various positions with various lengths of tenure, and is ready to move on from the vagaries of session and all the political machinations. He will still be in the world of politics, but behind the scenes, where he had hoped to go all along. He will be working for Forge Washington, a PAC, in Seattle. He has a great little apartment on Mercer Island, much closer to home than his previous abode in Tumwater. YAY! We had a busy, but fun, day getting his stuff to his new home. Little Kit was a trooper, and kept us all smiling with her whispery babble, and crawling, clapping and waving. It was a happy day!

While we enjoyed a lunch break, the kids pointed out that in the last 12 months, every one of them has made a job change! I honestly had not put that together in my mind! Pretty noteworthy!

It began when Tiffany decided to stay home with Emma, and no longer commute to Canada for work. She just recently began teaching piano lessons at home, and hopes to grow that business over time. In early Spring, Caitlin started her own business, Woodland Billing Services, and now works from home billing for medical services. Then, in August, after working hard to wrap up the work at the off-road shop, Jon began working for Mobile Hardware, selling parts all around the county. Now Dillon and Jess making changes that begin on the same day.

Isn’t that crazy? A lot of changes in one year!

And we are so thankful because all of them have been good changes. We are so grateful for God’s provision, and how He brought opportunities for the parents to have the time they wanted for their families, and for Jess to be in Seattle, where he’s always wanted to be. I’m glad that it’s at least an hour closer to home. 

As a mom, even though my kids are adults, I worry about whether they will have everything they need. Troubles abound in our world, and no one is immune. Right now, I am just going to praise God for His grace, and cement in my mind that He is working for our good before we even know our need. He is faithful and good all the time.

Monday, October 9, 2017

Just don't...

So it was another beautiful day today. Sunshine, cool, bright sparkling sky that makes the mountains look crisp and close.


After a weekend of rest, I was ready to start rolling with momentum, and not stop! I have recently learned that I can handle life better if I allow myself to truly rest and refresh on the weekends. Saturday, for most of my life, was the day you tried to catch up the things you didn’t do during the week, and Sunday was its own special kind of madness what with getting everyone to church and also having a meal ready to eat when you got home. The weekends weren’t restful, but they were a change of pace, and that used to suffice.

Not anymore. I’m older, and right now, there are a lot of demands on my time.

Though it seems that I should, more than ever, be catching up, instead I indulge in reading and TV and maybe a little creativity, and napping. And Monday morning I am ready again.

But today, an urgent issue for my pseudo-job, Farm Bureau, hijacked my momentum for chores and I spent the bulk of the day emailing and texting and discussing and thinking and making plans. And stressing…I often feel that I am over my head with my Farm Bureau presidential responsibilities, and rather than taking a deep breath and taking them on, my initial reaction is to freak out. And then resenting that I have to do something scary to me.

This morning, I read one of my favorite bloggers Modern Mrs. Darcy who talked about her tendency to freak out over things, and how her friend told her “just don’t”.  Just don’t go there. Don’t freak; don’t assume it’s a disaster; figure it out. Like Modern Mrs. D, I really didn’t see this as an option. Isn’t stressing just being responsible?

But I tried it, not freaking out, that is…

Who knew? Not freaking out didn’t make things worse! It’s not like I felt an overwhelming surge of positivity, or a euphoria of confidence. I just didn’t freak…problems were still solved, good plans were made, and, bonus!, I still had the energy to do my chores.

I’m starting to think that scary things are only scary to me because I’m afraid they will be…

In other words, I’m freaking myself out over nothing. And I should stop.

Remind of this, okay?

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

All the Things I Haven't Said...

I intended that this blog be a chronicle of my family’s life, recording activities, events and momentous occasions. But it hasn’t turned out that way.

For many months, I have found myself wordless and without motivation to set down in writing the memories that I find precious. And the longer it goes, the harder it gets.

The last couple of years have handed me more responsibilities and obligations and I get weary. Too tired to write. Sometimes, even too tired to lift my head out of the daily pathway to look up and around. I’m afraid that if I interrupt the momentum, I will not have the strength to move forward again.

In my usual fashion, I assume that if I just get past the latest consuming project, get the next responsibility fulfilled, THEN I will have time and mind space to do the things that are important to me…the things I feel I value most.

Ha! I’m a slow learner. I’m 56, and it’s hard to think of a time when I have ever gotten to THEN. I must live differently NOW – because that’s all I have…now.

So, today I am writing, because in my head I believe I am a writer, and therefore, it needs to happen from my hands. And I will not wait for THEN. I will not worry about All the Things I Haven’t Said. I will let go of all the weight of the things I haven’t done here, that I had hped to do. There is no catching up. There is only what I can do today.

Many good and precious things have happened. And they are in my heart, and maybe along the way, I will recount them. But today I commit myself to writing and living the present.

Perhaps if I drop the load of all the things I haven't said, it will be easier.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

The Harvest I Almost Ignored...and there's a reason for that.

So – a whole harvest has gone by and I wrote not a word about it on the blog.

On the last day, I realized I had not even taken any pictures…so I quickly snapped a bunch. Not accurately representative of the season that was, but it salved my conscience about documenting family history.

I would give this harvest season a MEH minus rating.

The good part: lovely weather, only a couple of days in the heat stress range, no mold, only one morning of rain, good kids working for us…The operation of the farm went very well.

The bad part: people didn’t want to buy raspberries. Orders were slow in coming, and then short when they came. I thought it was just a way to get us to accept a very low price and still, we would sell it all. Nope. That was weird…the prices we heard weren’t that horrible for us, and no more orders were forth-coming. We thought we would oversupply the juice market (the lowest price/quality market level) when so many of us filled our orders early and started picking into barrels… but then the second bad thing came up: there just weren’t very many berries out there.

Well, that’s not exactly fair. There were a lot of berries out there, but many stayed really small. For a while, it was like we were growing miniature raspberries. And we didn’t know why…no heat stress; we were watering as much as we could…The plants seemed to be unable to take in enough to grow all the fruit big and plump. Little berries just don’t weigh much, so it was no banner year for tonnage.

The third bad development: the season was one of our shortest ever. We picked fairly well the first two weeks, and then production started dropping off, precipitously. From start to finish, harvest lasted 25 days, and 3 of those we weren’t even picking!

This is our 30th harvest, and we still haven’t seen it all. And we are doggone optimists. Already, we are forgetting what lies behind, and thinking about next year. This is just farming life.  Besides, it could have been raining while all this stuff was happening – and that would have been way worse! So, hey – there’s usually something to be thankful for.

Let me encourage those of you who are on a fixed income…A wildly fluctuating income is no picnic either. The year ahead will be a belt-tightening, character-building one for sure!

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

A Typical Evening These Days...

The grands had been by today. After dinner, I pick up their toys before the puppy mistakes them for her own. Usually, I find that I have missed one or two because Rosie has found them and is putting teeth marks on them.

I set them aside to wash.

Rosie and I head outdoors where the goats are feeling particularly needy because they were not fed every 3 hours in the usual fashion. They are not hungry; they feel neglected.

While I enter the barn to throw them hay and get clean water, Rosie escapes to the field around it, no longer interested in the mysteries of The Barn or the goat poops she used to find so wondrous. She has bigger dreams to follow. I wonder how far she will get before I catch up to her.

It ends up being out of sight, because Clemmie, the slippery sneak, wends her way between me and the gate and escapes to the great outdoors. High excitement! She runs to the fence to show off that she is on the outside. Imogene, Barnaby and Bo are fit to be tied that they are on the inside even though they are all touching noses through the fence. They consider it a crisis situation.

I carefully try to get close to Clemmie without making her run. My fear is that she will take flight and I will be floundering behind with heavy feet, watching her fleetly fly to the road and certain death. I try to project calm in spite of what my heart is feeling. Meanwhile, the trio inside the fence are blubbering and baaing and running forth and back.

My stealth moves are not unpredictable, still she heads back to the barn as I wish, but will not go in the pen. So I bribe her and the rest with sunflower seeds, a favorite treat…And manage to lose Barnaby to the outside while getting Clemmie in.

Barnaby encounters the returning Rosie, and they engage in some feint and spar. More high excitement. Because he is practically morbidly obese, Barnaby is not fast, and I catch his collar, only to have him give a mighty leap away from Rosie…and his critical mass yanks me forward. This results in an unwanted adjustment of my spine, and the kind of running you do to keep yourself upright…all while holding on to his collar.

Thankfully, his abrupt move was toward the barn, and my momentum further propelled us that way. I clung to his collar knowing that this rodeo would not end if I did not HOLD ON. Once in the barn, I let him go and jumped to slam the door shut. Only a few minor feints and spars between us were needed to get him back in the pen.

I return outside to find the pup triumphant in the acquisition of a decomposing mole. She is trotting about, head high, promenading her prize…but fleeing if I get within 3 feet. I wheedle; I threaten; I display a handful of treats, which are as good as cardboard compared to the stinking mole she is swinging around. I am getting nowhere fast. And Rosie is getting everywhere.

I enlist the aid of The Farmer, who cajoles and commands, scolds and chases. After a couple of circles around the building, I lay in wait for him to flush her toward me. The surprise causes her to drop the mole and I grab her! Caught! And as I carry her to the house, I find that not only has she carried a decomposing mole around, she made sure to roll on it too. Putrid.

And so it is bath time for the puppy who has lost her most prized possession and now suffers the great indignity of being wet. Of course, she tries to slip through my hands out of the laundry sink, and then cries pathetically at such suffering. But I am disgusted enough to be determined to complete the task.

I towel her off and leave her to dry while I go out to water the plants. The goats are loudly protesting, with mouths full of hay, that I did not cut any fresh grass for them. So I get the hand scythe and cut some for them. Finally, they are silent and content.

In the house, the moping puppy decides she will forgive and will sit next to me on the couch where I am trying to wind down. Soon, we are both asleep, too tired to go to bed.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

So we had a little incident yesterday

So we had an incident yesterday. The kind of incident that makes one into a farm girl.

Little Miss Emma was hanging out with us, and she loves nothing more than to be outside, whatever the weather, wandering around the yard. She loves the goats, and the rocks, and the dirt, and now that she has a lawnmower, she feels she has a purpose too.

Just like her daddy, she likes doing ‘real’ things more than playing.

So she was mowing a long as I was fussing with my garden boxes. She decided to take the mower into the barn (bawn, as she says it 😊). I watched from behind as she went through the open doors. She squatted down to pick up something off the floor, saying “Kitty!”, which got my attention as we have no kitties on our farm.

With shock, I watched her little hand go down to pick up what I realized was a naked, little baby bird that had fallen out of the nest! (I think she called it kitty as it was about the size of the Little People kitty that she carries around the house.) When her hand landed on the naked, slightly feathered body, she jerked it back, held it to her chest and high-tailed it out of the barn! “Gama! Gama!”

I was close behind and grabbed her, making sure her hands stayed away from her mouth! She wasn’t upset, just surprised. Of course, I had exclaimed that it was a baby bird. I assured her that we would go tell Gapa, and he would take it away…but FIRST, we were going to wash her hands!

She was hot to get to Gapa, and tell him about the “baby bood”. Gapa came with us to take it away. Sadly, we found that a gust of wind had knocked a nest out of the rafters and four healthy little birds had met their end on the hard cement floor. I expressed my sadness, which was not lost on Emma.

For the rest of the day, she told me over and over, “Baby bood…saaad.” Which was completely adorable and sweet…Oh my! Every so often she thought of it again, and had to express her regret.
Of course, when I tried to get video of her saying it, I had to prompt, but it’s still worth hearing…so cute!

So Emma had a farm girl experience about the ugly things that happen and the gross things you can encounter on the farm. And she’s none the worse for wear…her rural education begins.

Monday, May 1, 2017

Rosie is Red...

I’ve never done this before, and I keep feeling I must justify my actions. It just happened so quickly!

One week and one day after our dear Daisie was gone, we brought home her successor. Fewer days than that passed before I was looking for our next dog. And it seemed like people might misunderstand the depth of my feelings over the loss of Daisie.

But the fact is, it is because of the depth of my feelings for my dog that I already have another. I love having a dog companion with me. There is a big hole in the fabric of my life when I have none.

So, I am justifying to you something, I really don’t need to justify to anyone, even Daisie. She would know why we now have Rosie, a little red Boston Terrier.

Honestly, I probably would not have moved so quickly had it been a different time of year, but I knew I wanted another dog, a puppy, and right now is the best time to do the house-training. Didn’t want to do that in the fall. Didn’t want to miss the spring puppies. Didn’t want to be looking for a dog when the days are getting shorter, the weather worse, and Randy is on the road a lot. Didn’t want to be alone in the house then. Besides, for the next few months, we are mostly here on the farm…not going anywhere. It is the time of year that I have always raised our puppies. So, it seemed urgent to pursue.

Because of the way Randy loves Caitlin’s Frenchtons, I had wondered if maybe our next dog would be a little one. In fact, I considered adding a small dog to our family this year anyway. I wondered if Daisie would appreciate a cozy companion now that she spent so much time in the house, and I knew her days with us were not long. Perhaps we could have an “overlap” dog.

Then, when Daisie was gone, I realized it would be good to have a different kind of dog...A successor, not a replacement. Another boxer would be too much comparison to Daisie, who was an exceptionally nice, calm, sweet girl.

So I started looking for Bostons and found that they are not plentiful around here. I had found only 2 local breeders, both of whom had all their puppies reserved, even the ones not yet arrived! When I was beginning to think I would have to ship a puppy from far away, an ad popped up in the Herald. I called immediately, left a message, and didn’t hear anything. I was thinking these must be gone as well…

Fortunately, I was wrong. I got a call back. We arranged a meeting at the owners’ home. We met Rosie’s mom and dad…Really nice dogs, and immaculately clean, friendly but well-behaved. The two little girl pups were red like their dad, and it was hard to choose between them. We took Rosie, who was a little smaller, and a bit more docile.

The owners were an older couple, who love their dogs, and sell the puppies to families who want pets. We had a nice long visit with them about the dogs they have had over the years. They had experience, like we have, with old faithfuls who lived a good long life, then had to be put to rest when their days were more pain than happiness. We told them about our Daisie, and they understood. They said they could see that their puppy would have a good life with us.

And so, Rosie came to live with us. She was nameless at that time, and we had to stop to get food, a bed, toys and a smaller crate as we had nothing that would work. Within a couple hours, she considered us her people.

The kids came in the evening, and we discussed the name. It was Tiffany who said, “What about another flower name, like Daisie?” Hmmm. “What about Rosie? Rosie is red!” And that was it! Tiff had just the right name for our girl.

Emma was awestruck to look in the little crate and see a living, breathing little animal. She immediately started saying, “Hi! Hi! Hi! Hi!...” and waving to her. Later, we let Rosie run around and Emma was thrilled to be chased by her. Little Kit was unflappable about the excited little Boston running right up to her. She’s going to be an animal person for sure. Both of them will!

So we are having fun with Rosie and her antics, and are reminded that puppies are a lot of work, especially when they object to being away from you during the night. We are in the investment stage of making her into a good dog. Hard work, but worth it.

Despite the entertaining, happy distraction Rosie is, I still miss Daisie. As I said before, Rosie is a successor, not a replacement, but we are blessed to have good memories of Daisie, and to be making new ones with Rosie.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

What day is it?

With the big upset in the normal flow of my world, I'm a little bit at sea as to time and days and what I should be doing.

I was in the midst of some urgent and important projects, and was completely derailed by sorrow.

Please understand that I am in no way equating my sorrow over the loss of my pet with the kind of sorrow so many others are suffering. I can get another pet, not another Daisie, but another pet and pursue the happiness that comes with that. I know, I know, I know that others can't get back a dad, a son, a husband, a mom, a daughter, a wife. Oh, how my heart hurts for you!

I'm just trying to keep it real for what my life is, and I confess, I have not the strength I see in others.

So I've been floundering this week. Kind friends have encouraged me that it's okay to back off on my expectations of myself for a few days, so I have. But I realized that I had moved the essentials of my desk to the dining room table because it was too hard to be in the room where Daisie had her crate. She would doze and snore while I worked (and wasted time) on the computer.

It's too quiet, and empty -- and kind of sad to move that crate out and admit we are a family without need of one.

But life is going on, so today I took myself by the lapels and propelled me out into the garage to organize and make room for the things that need to get out of the house...all those dishes and treats and food and medicines and beds.

The harder part is not getting derailed by the holes in my routine: the first-thing-in-the-morning duty run, and breakfast. The walk and treat after. Remembering the meds at the proper time (my phone kept reminding me). The urge to holler an alert for Daisie to join me when I was going outside. Keeping track of her dinner time; that was her most demanding point of the day -- if you could call her demanding.Checking to see if she was on her bed, in her chair, or in her crate.

In the first days of her painful absence, I was aware of every thing I didn't have to do...but now, as I start to pick up with everyday life, I forget and start to act in the habit of the past. And then it hurts again.

As the days pass, it is easier to remember the happy memories and forget the heart-wrenching last moments, and that is a mercy.

Also, I have found myself pondering why I don't express how much I appreciate people more readily, and why do I wait to do things I want to do, finding reasons and excuses that seem like obstacles. Life is short, and full of imperfections. The best thing we can do is love, even if imperfectly. Waiting around for it to all be just right is a waste of time.

Because someday you'll wake up and find that the opportunity to love someone is finite, and there's little you can regret more than that.

Monday, April 24, 2017

This wasn't what I was thinking was going to happen...

So I had all these plans to write about my trip after sharing my anticipation.

Then my laptop died while we were gone, and I couldn't blog on the go.

And then it took a couple of weeks to get it replaced and the files moved over.

And then I was going to finally write, and catch up, and get blogging again.

Then -- our Daisie died this weekend, and I'm a big weepy mess. My heart is bruised, and I am full of anxiety that I will never be as happy again as I was when she was here. I'm tortured by "if only" thoughts, and regrets. I bounce between distraction, denial and back to despair.

Then last night, I heard that two iconic leaders of our community passed...and this after weeks where we have lost others too soon and too young. And more are suffering with dire illnesses.

It's too much. Today, I am feeling like one big open wound, bleeding at every touch...Sorrows overwhelm. So much pain for so many.

It's hard to look forward and think that we will one day be so naively happy again. Life is full of hurts.

But in the midst of the sorrow, I realize that my gratitude for all the good that has gone before is heightened. Weighed in the balance, there was more joy than there is now pain. I want my joy to have no cost, but that is not reality. To continue in this sorrowful world, I can only go forward in faith that God will give us courage, and strengthen us, to pay the price of loving deeply in a world that waits to be redeemed, a world where we will suffer separations, and physical pain, and broken hearts. I will choose faith that loving deeply is worth the pain, and that not loving, is not living. I will open my heart to joy, without reservation.

And for a few days (only, I hope), I'll probably cry while I'm doing that...but He knows I am but dust.

Someday soon, I will write a tribute to our wonderful Daisie. She was the best dog in the world, and after loving and serving us for nearly 12 years, she deserves to be remembered well. Right now, it's just too hard... I remain amazed and thankful that God made these creatures to love us.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017


I'm going to visit here!

So – I’m going on a trip later this month. Yep – I am actually going to leave my home, fly on a jet plane, and spend a week far from my comfort zone.

I was the kid who mostly had to call my mom to pick me up from the slumber parties. I made it all night a couple of times. But mostly, not – and mostly, I avoided accepting such invitations. I was so attached to my family that I would torture myself thinking of my empty place at the table and how much they must miss me. (Ha! I’m pretty sure I was the only one suffering over that image!) I did not learn how to be secure away from my safe zone.

And I still struggle with that. But I have made great strides, and even have found myself enjoying my forays into the wider world.

Lately, though, I’ve noticed that it’s been easier and easier to abandon any plans for travel. It was time, once again, to push myself out of my comfort zone.

The Farmer has meetings in Knoxville, TN – a place I have been once before, and wanted to return to. We had contemplated extending his trip so I could join and we could explore. However, since the meetings were late in March, it was uncertain whether The Farmer could take the time away from the work of the growing season. His doubt caused me to quickly demur and encourage him to go for a short trip without me.

Secretly, I felt relief along with my disappointment.

The Farmer, graciously and wisely, decided we should make the most of the opportunity, growing season or not. And so, we are going.

Despite my previous reluctance to plan to travel, I am finding myself quite delighted to go!

And I am currently obsessed with finding the perfect luggage and travel accessories for the trip. I realize that my obsession with this is likely an outgrowth of desiring to create a traveling safe zone that has everything I need with me at all times…But I am having so much fun with it!

I can only hope that the trip is as much fun as the anticipation!

Friday, February 17, 2017

Farming Friday...

What a difference warmth, wind and lots of rain can make in the volume of snow piled around the place!
A week ago, most of my backyard had about a foot of snow over most of it…Today, it’s mainly gone!

And it’s a good thing. Behind our berry field is an open field that will have potatoes planted in it this spring. The NE wind carried the snow right over that open field, and it spiraled out in the first 16 rows of our berry field. The drift was long and deep, encasing the canes in snow up 3-4 feet.

These pictures were taken a few days after the end of the storm as I couldn't easily get out there until then. If you look down the row, you can see how high up the canes the snow still is.

Not good for those little buds that are sleeping on the canes. It just might have killed them. Only time will tell on that…or on any of the other weather injury opportunities we have enjoyed.

In my estimation, which is not nearly as valuable as The Farmer’s, we have had 3 hazards this year:
1.   It was warm too long into November. When the frosty weather came, it was too big a change in temperature and too abrupt. This tends to kill the buds at the tops of the canes.
2.    We had quite a few days of very cold wind, which eventually desiccates the canes, and frozen ground, which keeps water from being available for them to take up. Usually, whole canes die with this kind of injury.
3.    Some of the canes were encased in snow for some days, or ice for a day, which breaks the canes, and freezes the buds.

Broken posts from the snow load.

So much less snow...but you can see below all the canes that are broken.

The dairy farmers have much greater work challenges than we do in the midst of winter storms, and their cows usually give less milk, or may get sick more easily when they are under weather stress. Barns have collapsed, and costs for feed and energy are definitely higher in those circumstances. I would say that all farmers take a financial hit in a storm as strong and long-lived as we had.

Some farmers know already the cost of their damages, but some of us will have to wait until the buds come out in Spring.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

The Finale of The Perfect Winter...

I have to admit that I had given up on a big snowstorm for the year. Usually, throughout December and January, I am hoping that any little prediction of snow will surprisingly turn into a nice big blizzard.

But this year, as February rolled around, I had quit hoping.

In fact, I had declared to The Farmer that I considered it a good winter…As if it was over…Lots of cold, some snow – real winter weather! I did mention that had we had more snow, and just a little bit of blizzard, I would proclaim it a perfect winter.

Well, I guess I can say it now: We’ve had a PERFECT winter!

The prediction of snow, followed quickly by warm rain was interesting to me, but not exciting. I had a little hope for a couple more days of cold weather when they predicted more snow on the following Monday and Tuesday. Nonetheless, I put away my winter décor and didn’t keep the food stocks up for stormy weather.

Caitlin and I had planned a big cooking day on Friday, and though it was snowing in the morning, we continued as planned. By the time we were done cooking for the freezer (19 meals! 10 different recipes!), we noticed that it might not be a nice drive home for Caitlin. Jon came to drive her home, leaving his truck to pick up the next day when the rain came.

But it didn’t! It was snowing heavily Saturday morning at our house, a little bit of snow in Lynden, and just south of town, freezing rain. It didn’t warm up all day, and the roads became challenging. Dillon, Tiffany & Emma came by and were surprised at the difference in conditions between our house and theirs. As the day went on, we decided that Dillon better help Jon get his truck home because the promised warming was not going to come. Instead, it just kept snowing. It looked like the prediction of snow for Monday was going to be a sure thing as the temp kept dropping.

It took Dillon and Jon a couple of hours to get his work truck home. Dillon had been posting information and updates for the radio station all day, and didn’t mind getting some on-the-scene reporting done along the way as he helped get Jon’s heavy, but two-wheel drive truck home.

Sunday, we woke to more snow and more wind. In anticipation of the need for Dillon to be out on the road reporting about conditions, he, Tiffany, Emma, and even Macy the Dog, moved in to our house that night. None of us wanted to think about Tiffany and Emma stuck at home alone, and Dillon stuck somewhere else.

It was good that we did, because by 2:30 am Dillon was on the road, picking up and delivering employees who couldn’t get to work or get home. He spent the entire day, until the evening news, reporting from all over the county. It was getting very bad out there!

For the next 3 days, his routine was much the same, although he could sleep in until 4am on subsequent days! At home, we settled into a nice cozy routine, enjoying Emma’s enthusiastic morning greetings, and getting plenty of exercise as we tag-teamed chasing her around the house. Though the wind was blowing quite strongly, we never lost power and could enjoy hot food and plenty of coffee, and even TV…and didn’t need to think about going anywhere. Two or three times a day, I ventured out to make sure the goats were cozy and had warm water and plenty of food. My 15 minutes of chores, only made me enjoy the coziness inside more. No suffering going on here…It’s a good time of the year to be a berry farmer. The only way it could have been better is if Caitlin and Kit could also spend the day...But we couldn't accommodate 3 horses and 3 more dogs, so Cait had to stay on her farmstead. Fortunately, she never lost power and was cozy and warm, if a bit sick with cabin fever.

On Tuesday morning, roads were drifted shut but the snow stopped for a while and the sun came out -- so plows and farmers on tractors made headway clearing the roads. By Wednesday morning, more roads were open, but very slippery as the snow was compacted. The Farmer and I dug out our old pick-up and headed into town, as we were almost out of milk…and the warning was out that we could expect freezing rain for some hours as the weather began to warm up. That’s when things get really ugly! Usually the power goes out, and roofs are in danger as the piles of snow get glazed with ice, or soaked with heavy rain, and can’t handle the load. We wanted to augment supplies before that happened.

Yes – we and about half the town of Lynden decided this was urgent, so we all waited in long lines at the grocery store. We headed out, fully resupplied, into increasing snow and wind, and sometimes couldn’t see the roadway on our way home. We could see above the blowing snow, but had no idea, some of the time, what was clear road, and what was drift.

Fortunately, The Farmer is a great driver, and we made it home just fine – despite my vehement disagreement with his choice of taking the Boundary Road, which I assumed to be untouched for maintenance. Infuriatingly, it’s condition was the best of any roads we traveled that day, and we avoided a number of challenges because of The Farmer’s route choice.

That’ll learn me!

By late Wednesday evening, we could hear rain hitting the windows. The freezing rain had begun. Most of the night, the tree on the southeast corner of our bedroom was clashing and crashing against the house as it became ice-coated and bent over.

By morning, three-quarters of an inch covered the bent-over trees, and everything else. The temperature was still just under freezing at our house, though south of here melting was beginning to take place. We were amazed that we still had power, as we heard that many did not. Our relief was short-lived when the power went out around 9am. Shortly after, we heard a loud bang like an explosion and looked out the window to see half of one our maple trees had fallen to the ground, split right down the middle of the tree! When you stepped outside you could hear the crackle of branches breaking in the continuing NE wind. The roads were once again, treacherous, and traffic that passed was creeping along. We began to hear reports that barn roofs were collapsing, trees were down, and power lines as well. This is the part of the snowstorm that I don’t like. Freezing rain after a snowstorm is, to me, the most dangerous, and when it comes, all the fun is over for me.

I was grateful when our power came back on, and the temperature moved above freezing, the ice on the road started breaking through, and the wind finally died down.

But for several days – more than I would hope for – we had a lovely winter storm…Lots of snow, cold, wind – but not as terrible as it can be – and an actual snowed-in excuse to go nowhere… Perfect, just perfect!

Oh yes – I know that my rejoicing is quite selfish, as there are consequences ongoing… We’re not sure how the berries are going to handle being encased in ice and snow drifts for days. And kiddos will be going to school far longer than they wish after a week of snow days. Some farms have immediate costs of collapsed roofs and buildings.

Already, in the midst of the storm, our generous and capable citizens stepped in to help others, whether by pulling out stuck cars, clearing driveways and roads, delivering needed supplies, moving animals and equipment under weakened roofs, helping homeowners struggling with ice dams before their house sustained damage…I know that help and generosity will continue as the needs continue.

And that’s another reason I like snowstorms and frightful weather. Adversity brings out the best in good people, and it is heartening to see them in action, and to be part of the solution wherever we can.
Current events have many complaining and bemoaning the state of our nation. It serves us well to remember that when immediate adversity threatens, we are there for each other.

And now I am completely satisfied with winter…Bring on Spring!

About Me

Needing an outlet for various thoughts rattling in my head, I've created two blogs -- One about my real life ( and one where I can vent. (