Category Archives: Farm Stories

Finding my inner girly

I grew up a tomboy.

Not one of those cool, sport playing tomboys that is confident and gorgeous and still girly even though she thinks she’s not girly. Who still wears cute clothes, has cute hair, and paints her finger and toe nails.

I was a farm-raised, awkward, klutzy, “boys have way more fun growing up” tomboy.

While some girls were painting their nails, I was digging in the dirt – making the latest race track for the hot wheels.

While some girls were sighing over their first third grade crush, I was decking the boy who tried to kiss me.

While some girls were turning flips on the monkey bars and cartwheels in the grass (gymnastics was the COOL girly thing in my elementary school), I was playing football with the guys.

While some girls were shopping for the latest fashions, I was jumping out the hayloft window into the VERY well-limed (ie: NOT STINKY) manure pile.

While some girls were practicing their first kiss on a mirror, I was receiving punching lessons from my brothers – again in the hayloft.

While some girls were mooning over the latest cute hollywood or music star, I was building castles out of hay bales and swinging from the rafters on ropes.

While some girls sunbathed for that glamorous tan, I raced oil barrels across the mucky duck pond.

While some girls had gorgeous flowing locks, or cute curly bobs, I had short hair and looked so much like a boy that I was often mistaken for one.

While some girls  did whatever girls do at that young age, I hunted critters with my brother’s BB gun, caught frogs, toads, lizards and snakes, and had spitting contests.

While some girls worried about how to impress the boys and what others would think, I burped the entire alphabet.

So, where is all this going?

Well,  I have come in touch with my inner


(somewhat at least).   I painted my toenails for the first time at age twenty-seven. (I don’t do fingernails much – I don’t like the way they feel, but I have come to enjoy colorful toenails.) I also tweezed my eyebrows for the first time when I was twenty-seven.   My sister makes beautiful jewelery, so I were necklaces, earrings, and even bracelets now. I will even, on occasion, wear


but only because it looks good on me (darn it)

I am still a little hopeless when it comes to fashion. Friends have helped A LOT on that front.

Anyway, a while back I got a scarf.

One of those long pretty decorative type scarves that you see hanging on the wracks at the store and think “what a frivolity.” Well, at least that’s what I thought – though secretly I like them.

The first scarf I obtained was a pretty red scarf given to me by a friend. The second scarf came about after attending a writer’s conference with a friend.

There is an unwritten law that if you are a female writer you MUST wear some kind of fancy or decorative scarf. My friend and I couldn’t stop giggling at the fact that at least ninety percent of the females in the room all sported some type of scarf.

We left the conference and laughed our way to the store where we picked out our “writer’s” scarf.

The only problem was, other than hanging the thing around my neck, I didn’t know how to were them.

Finally, after a year or two, I decided to look up scarf tying on the internet.

I can now fashionably wear and tie my scarf.


By now, though, the fashion is probably waning. ha ha. But at least I know that I can fit in at writer’s conferences. Muahahahahaha.

So, what’s next? Six-inch stillettos?

not unless I want to kill my self  😀

(oh, and if you’re a clueless scarf tie-er like me, check out this website)


Filed under Every Day Life, Farm Stories

Barrel Racing

We knocked over the giant metal oil drums and rolled them to the edge of the pond. The once bright yellow and blue paint was cracked and peeling . Large ammounts of orange rust peered through, making them look like long forgotten cars in a heap of junk at the dump.

“Won’t they sink?” we questioned.

One of the wiser ones in our group of siblings spoke up, “Come on guys, they are empty and the air trapped inside will make them float just fine.”

“So, what are the rules? Are there any rules?” We looked at each other trying to decide.

“Anything is fair game except for hitting each other with the poles.”

We scavengered the nearby area for three large sticks that would work for poles. Then we gave the barrels a final push. The water gave way beneath them as they plumeted into the pond. We shrieked as we were showered with drops of filthy water.

Three of us mounted the barrels. The fourth stood on one side of the pond as the starter, and the fifth was on the other side to act as referee and to see who finished first.

The slippery barrels rolled beneath us as we dug our poles into the pond floor trying to keep our balance. No one was keen on falling into the murky water, heavy with goose droppings and other such unmentionable items.

“Ready, set, GO!”

We pushed on our poles hoping to shoot across the pond to win the race. Instead, poles stuck in the mud and we were left to wiggle and squirm trying to keep our balance as the barrels rolled and swayed beneath us. Giggles erupted as be began to develop the art of prodding ourselves along with out getting stuck. We were nearing the end of the race and two barrels wiere neck in neck, with one close behind, trying hard to catch up with out rolling into the water. Between the first to barrels a battle had begun.

A foot lashed out connecting fiercely with the side of the barrel, causing the end to swing out and the barrel turned. The unfortunate rider was left straddling the barrel, clenching his feet and legs desperately on each side of it to keep it from rolling and floating away. His arms were outstretched clutching his pole as he tried to regain control. Gradually he was able to pole his body and the barrel alongside the pole once more and, now in 3rd place, began a frantic pace to catch-up.

Meanwhile, Barrel #3 saw her opening as #2 was fighting for control and moved up swiftly behind barrel number one. With an eveil laugh she smashed into the side of barrel #1 and sent the barrel rolling so hard that the rider had no hope of staying on and sank beneath the mire. #2 crowed with delight as she saw her sibling resurface and plowed on to hit the finish line, but just before she did, #2 came back from behind, kicked her barrel and lunged in for the finish. Barrel #3 wasn’t about to land in the water, she was determined to at least hit ground. As her barrel rolled uncontrollably beneath her, she through her body towards the shore and hit, half in, halft out just after #2 cleared the finish line.

A laughing pack of 5 siblings stood laughing over their state.

“That was awesome!”

“It’s my turn to ride now.”

“And Mine.”

“I will ride.”

“You rode last time.”

“So did you.”

“How about if we use two barrels and team up – two per barrel and one can be the ref.”

And barrel racing was born.

What, you thought I was going to talk about THAT kind of barrel racing? Umm, nope, never done that.

*This account is as true as I can make it – we really did barrel race on the pond, though I can’t remember how an exact race went, I recreated one incorporating actual events from numerous races, and the possible conversation that went with it.


Filed under Farm Stories, Writing

W is for White Wash

Encyclopedia of Me Meme

I loved Tom Sawyer as a kid, it has been such a long time since I have enjoyed his adventures. One of my favorite stories from Tom Sawyer was the white washing the fence story. 

Even though I enjoyed the story, I did not find white washing to be the funnest thing to do.  Of course, it was a lot better than picking rocks out of a garden that was at least an acre in size.  From time to time it would be time to white wash certain buildings on the farm so they wouldn’t look quite as dingy as before.  If anyone is uncertain about the technique of white washing, it is the same as painting, except the white paint is watered down to stretch further and not go on as thick.  There were times when we loved it though. 

There was a little one room building on the farm down by the barn that had housed geese, I think, at one point.  There were scraps of lumber strewn haphazardly across the rafter beams with rolls of chicken wire on top of them.  The little building wasn’t used for much, from time to time we used it for a club house, or a secret meeting place.  One day I pleaded with my parents to let me clean it and turn it into a play house.

I was delighted when they agreed and set to cleaning away all the goose droppings and scrubbing down the walls.  They even allotted me some paint to white wash the walls with.  There were glass-less windows that I hung some material over and got permission to move the little white wood stove and fridge that my mom had built into to building.  I accrued a small table, a cradle for a baby doll, and some other miscellaneous furniture.  I vaguely remember being allowed to put in an old bench, where the bench part was a little bookcase, with a large back going up.  I think my mom may have painted it cut it into the shape of a cat or something – in the Richard Scary style.  It is hard to remember if such a thing exists, or if I just dreamed it up.  There might have even been some kind of bed in there at one point – the memories fade after time.

Anyway, I loved that little cottage and played there for hours – when I wasn’t busy fighting off the monsters with my brothers, hanging out of tress, jumping into manure piles, or going scampering about the rafters of the corn crib.

So, the word ‘White wash’ carries a few endearing memories for me.  What sparked these memories?  Last weekend we were driving out to Tillamook when I saw this, and it reminded me to an extent of the old days.  Of course I made Paul stop so I could get out and take a photo.  I think it might just become the wall paper on my laptop. 🙂

Old barn

Here is a close-up of the barn, though I think I like the first photo better – something about that mist and the surrounding autumn feel.

Old Barn Close-up

I’d say that barn needed a good whitewash, but it would spoil its charm. 😀


Filed under Farm Stories, Meme, Memory, Photography

G is for Goal! and Goalie

Encyclopedia of Me Meme 

  Or not – we were really hoping to see one though, and there were so many close calls, but no lucky shots.  What am I talking about? Why soccer of course! Once again, Paul recieved free tickets to a Timbers soccer game in Portland. We had enough tickets for the entire family – plus a couple extra, so Paul and I get to go again for a date – woohoo! 🙂  We are not huge sports fans – ie. we would never by tickets for ourselves – just too spendy, but we love to attend when the oportunity presents itself. 

We had a grand time, the kids loved it and even Jacob enjoyed dancing around to all the music and drum banging.  We ate popcorn and squealed, screamed, and booed with the best of them.  The game ended with no goals on either side –  though our team was definitely trying – especially in the last half.  There were so many close shots, but none actually got through.  We got to see lots of players trampled though – and one guy on the other team went so far as hanging onto one of our players feet to keep him from going after the ball  – he got grilled on that though, thankgoodness. 🙂 It got rather ruthless towards the end, and was quite fun.

I have always had a soft spot in my stomach from soccer – oops sorry, I have always had a soft spot for soccer.  I never actually was able to play it on a team, but I sure enjoyed the sport.  I played it all the time as a kid with my brothers.  When it was raining we would take the soccer ball up into the hayloft and kick it around.  My bros would usually dub me the goalie – ie: Ball stopper.  I can’t count the times that they nailed me in the stomach and I laid on the floor trying to catch my breath afterwards – but hey, at least I stopped the ball! 🙂  Obviously, I didn’t mind to much because I kept playing. But now days, if any one mentions – “let’s play soccer!” I simply say, “only if I’m not the goalie” – especialy now – I don’t think junior needs any pre-season training. heh. 🙂

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Filed under Family, Farm Stories, Meme

E is For Egg

Encyclopedia of Me Meme 

 Much to my mother’s chagrin, when we were youngin’s on the farm, we used to lob rotten eggs onto the roof of the barn.  Well, we tried to anyway, usually they just smacked up against the side of the barn with a great resonating splat and horrible stench as we watched, in fascination, the remains dribbling slowly down. The side of the barn was pock marked with rotten egg remains for years – I don’t know if we ever successfully lobbed any onto the roof.

Oh and my favorite way to eat eggs are scrambled or in an egg-salad sandwhich – but those I like fresh, not rotten. 🙂

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Filed under Farm Stories, Meme

B is for Blueberry

Encyclopedia of Me Meme

Part of the 15 acres I lived on as a child in Pennsylvania was covered with marshes. During the long humid and hot summer months the marshes would burst with blueberries galore.  Each of us were sent out with a large bucket to pick bluberries for cobblers and jams.  I loved the way the bushes would curve and curl – many time growing so closely together that the branches would arch creating tunnels between them.  I would pretend this was the home for the pixies and elves, and occasionally miniature trolls who guarded the blueberries.  My fingers would get that delighted blue-ish purple stain on them as I poked the biggest juiciest ones I could find in my mouth.  We would trudge back to the house, not only with our buckets full, but with our tummy’s full as well, knowing that in the morning we would have a feast of blueberry pancakes.  Just the thought of them was  mouth watering.

It’s funny how over the years we forget our love for certain things and then the memory comes crashing upon down upon us.  I hadn’t had blueberry pancakes since those farm days. Then, one morning while at Paul’s paren’ts house in Montana, his mom served us delicious blueberry pancakes.  My eyes bulged with delight as I remembered this dear love I had forgotten and relished every bite.

So, what did you think I bought at the farmers market the other day? Why a flat of blueberries of course, and this morning we gathered around the table and enjoyed some blueberry pancakes.  YUMMMM!


Filed under Farm Stories, Meme, Memory

Of Bikes and Bullies


                   I creep, a snail
                             carrying his house
                                          upon his back,
                                              up the steep incline.

With sheer determination I pump
forward, relentless,
finally cresting


I soar with the birds,
wheels spinning wildly,
peddles pumping franticly,
adrenaline rushing through my metal frame.
The wind roars past, drowning
out the sheer squeal of delight from my rider,
bringing on its tail
a cacophony of all the scents of spring.

-J.H. Schmidt 

Ever since I first learned how to remain semi balanced I have loved riding my bike.  My brothers and I would ride for hours in the Pennsylvania country.  I had really short hair then, shorter than I do now, and was often mistaken for a boy, but that never bothered me.  There were so bmx trails near town that we enjoyed biking on and seeing how much air we could get off the jumps on just a little ‘ole bike.

 I would bike into town frequently too, the 2 mile ride was nothing, and I usually had some pocket change in my pocket for some Bubbalicious Bubblgeum.  The ride was safe, and it didn’t seem like we had to worry as much about crazies then as we do now.  There was this one boy though – one of the biggest bullies I ever faced in my childhood…

“Hey! You can’t pass by here,” a fierce voice called as I watched a freckled arm shoot out and grabbed hold of my handle bar, jolting me to a halt.  It was all I could do not to crash completely. Filled with dread I staggered on my feet and eyed the boy trying to concentrate on one of the many freckles splayed across his nose.

“Leave me alone, I can go where I want,” my voice didn’t sound nearly as tough as I wanted it too and I despised how whiny it sounded in my ears.

The boy still hadn’t let go of my bike. He ran his free hand through his red hair, “You have to pay a toll.”

“No I don’t!” I squeaked.  I was angry, and scared.  I saw him eyeing my brand-new watch Mom had given me for my birthday.

“You can’t leave until you give me you watch,” he growled, lunging for my wrist and breaking the clasp free.  He hung it in the air exultantly out of my reach . “Thanks,” he laughed as he headed toward his home.

I fought back the white hot tears that threatened, there was no way I was going to let that jerk see me cry.   I couldn’t hold the flood for long as I turned back home, my trek for the coveted Bubbalicious Bubblegum forgotten. 

My brother (Paul – yeah I know, wiered, my huby’s name is Paul too) was the first one I came across, and before lone I found myself pouring out my broken heart to him about the nasty bully.  The boy wasn’t just a bully to me, but to most kids, and he was my brother’s age too – 2 1/2 years older than me.  To say my brother was angry was an understatement.

“I’ve got a plan,” he whispered in my ear. “I want you to get back on your bike and ride down there….”

I was more shaky on the second trip as I pedalled along, half hoping the bully would emerged, and half dreading it.  I rounded the corner and sure enough the was the boy, standing with his arms crossed.  Once again he reached his hand out and jerked my bike to a halt.  He didn’t get to far though, for flying around the bend hot on my trail was my big brother.  I don’t know that I have ever seen anyone execute such a spectacular bike to ground while in motion jump as he did.  I watched his bike continue past me before it fell to the ground. 

Paul hauled the boy into the nearby bushes, and I didn’t witness the exchange.  But I heard words, and knew that Paul punched him.  A minute or two later my brother came out triumphantly carrying my brand new watch, as the boy slunk back to his house.

I never had a run-in with that boy again – and I never forgot the day one of my big brothers became my hero.


Filed under Farm Stories, Poetry, Writing

Something Grand

I decided to add my grand announcement and join the ranks of a few of my fellow blogging friends….


So, there you have it.

April 1, 1980 (or there abouts)

“Dad! Dad! The sheep got out of pasture, come quick!” I was panting from charging up the hill and into the house.  Dad looked up in surprise and went running out the back door, as I sat silently inside holding my sides and chuckling.

April 1, 1981

“Dad! Dad! The sheep got out of pasture, come quick!” I was panting from charging up the hill and into the house. Dad looked up in surprise and went running out the back door, as I sat silently inside holding my sides and chuckling.

April 1, 1982

“Dad! Dad! The sheep got out of pasture, come quick!” I was panting from charging up the hill and into the house. Dad looked up in surprise and went running out the back door, as I sat silently inside holding my sides and chuckling.

April 1, 1983

“Dad! Dad! The sheep got out of pasture, come quick!” I was panting from charging up the hill and into the house. Dad looked up in surprise and went running out the back door, as I sat silently inside holding my sides and chuckling.

April 1, 1984

“Dad! Dad! The sheep got out of pasture, come quick!” I was panting from charging up the hill and into the house. Dad looked up in surprise and went running out the back door, as I sat silently inside holding my sides and chuckling.

April 1, 1985

“Dad! Dad! The sheep got out of pasture, come quick!” I was panting from charging up the hill and into the house. Dad looked up in surprise and went running out the back door, as I sat silently inside holding my sides and chuckling.

I think after my tenth year I finally laid off of the joke. But, every year without fail my dad would go charging out the door – I think I knew that he knew I was joking, but it made me feel like a million bucks every time he went running out there to look. What an awesome Dad I have! 🙂

Oh, and about earlier comments:

APRIL FOOLS!!!! Well, I suppose I really am expecting, I’m just not sure what -and I definitely am not expecting what you thought I was expecting. 🙂 But now, after this post I am most definitely expecting your comments.

 Oh, and I guess you know what to expect next year! 🙂


Filed under Farm Stories, Humor, Memory, Parenting

Well, you asked….

There’s been this fun little interview game floating around – I saw it first on Stephanie’s site and then on Awesome Mom’s so I joined in to play… I’ve been running short of  blogging ideas and inspirations so maybe this will help get the flow going again. 🙂

Anyway it’s simple, really, some one asks you five questions and you answer them on your blog.  So, Awesome Mom asked me five questions and here they are (if you have a desire to be interviewed just say so, and I’m sure I can come up with some rather intriguing questions for you…if you dare…. heh)   🙂

1.  Knowing what you know now about Jacob’s heart defect if you could have chosen his birth order would you have had him first or not changed things at all? 

This is kind of a tough question because I can see the benefits to having him first.  The struggle and guilt of needing and wanting to be in two places at the same time was terribly difficult.  I couldn’t bear to be away from Jacob in the hospital long, but I couldn’t bear not being with my other three children at home.  I wouldn’t have had to worry about arranging school transportation and places for them stay, and it was rather traumatic for them as it was the rest of us.

However, on the flip side I wouldn’t have had three very helpful (though young) girls at home who really did a lot when we came from the hospital.  Jacob wouldn’t have the examples of his sisters, and I think that is one reason why he isn’t behind developmentally, because he wants to be just like them and sees them walk, talk, go potty, etc.  Also (not knowing if we are going to have more or not here), it seems to me that subsequent pregnancies would be rather stressful and full of worry that there would be something going wrong , and who knows if we decided to have another sometime down the road I won’t let that deterr our decision, but it will definitely be harder. (if that makes any sense at all.)

So, there you have a long and complicated lesson, but I think I would leave the birth order just the way it is – I think there have been a lot of benefits, both seen and unseen.

2. What is your favorite flavor of ice cream?

I have two: Breyer’s (has to be Breyer’s) Mint Chocolate Chip and Dreyer’s Rocky Road.  Paul introduced me to the deliciousness of Dreyer’s Rocky Road, but the Mint Chocolate Chip stems from my childhood.  It was my father’s favorite and he would often have a carton of it stashed in the freezer.  It was a luxery for us, and so he would get it out after everyone was in bed and eat a few spoonfulls at a time.  I remember feigning bad dreams and restless sleep, sneak quietly up the stairs to the kitchen where I knew dad would be snacking on the icecream.  He’d pop me up on his lap and slip me a few delicious mouthfuls and send me of to bed, savoring the delicious flavor of the best icecream in the world.  In fact, I think the reason it is so good is the memory of those special moments with Dad.

3. If you could be a character in any book which book and which character would you choose?

Yikes! This is a tough one, there are so many awesome books and great characters.  At first I thought of Anne, from Anne of Green Gables because of all the trouble she gets in, but then I realized I don’t necessarily like being in fixes, we just happen to share that commonality. 🙂  So, I chose Eillonwy from The Chronicle of Prydain series by Lloyd Alexander.  She is awesome, grand adventures, battling undead with a sword, you name it she can manage it.  I’ll be her – but the only draw back is that she never sails on a pirate ship – Arrrrr! 🙂 heh.  But she does manage to find true love, so I suppose that makes up for the pirate part – see I can be all girly and swoony sometimes.  🙂
4. Do you have a favorite pen?

I do, and I bet you could never guess what that favorite pen happens to be….

Ages ago Paul got me a cool Goofy pen. It’s metal (rather heavy actually) and blue, with a goofy head at the top. It’s very sheik and I love it.
5. What is your earliest memory from childhood?

I honestly don’t know what is my eariliest memory – the order of things starts to get jumbled as to what happened when, but I suppose one would be a Halloween from when I was about 3 or so.  My brothers and sisters decided to make a haunted housein the garage. On the farm, the garage was separate from the house and was quite huge.  I don’t remember a whole lot. I remember they had a whole lot of decorations and witches and things that would fly down from the ceiling.  But the coolest part was that I got to be the mummy.  They wrapped me all up in toilet paper and laid me in a red sled.  They had attached another red sled on top to make a sort of coffin and when people came by they pulled a string that opened up the top sled and I sat up and moaned.  It was pretty cool – but very vague. In fact sometimes I wonder if really happened, but there are pictures, so I know it must have. 🙂


Filed under Children, Farm Stories, Heart, Meme, Memory, Parenting

Rudolph for Christmas

(Sorry to those of you who might have read this over at Queen of Cute Shoes I’m her guest post today, but thought I’d be lazy and use it on my blog too, then I don’t have to come up with something else, heh)

I peered out the frosted window gazing across the shadowy landscape. Everything was snuggled in a white comforter and bathed with pale moonlight. My eyes lifted to the sky searching and scanning the Milky Way. I had known for ages that Santa Clause was just pretend; I think I had known from infancy. After all, how can he bee in all those places at the same time, they were all just old men playing pretend and enjoying the Christmas spirit. Rudolph, however, you never saw him. Even the most famous department stores couldn’t coerce Rudolph into a performance, just replicas of him with an electric nose.

I sighed, tearing myself away from the window pane leaving an oily smudge behind. The house was a vision of joyous chaos as everyone ran every which way.

“You’re Mary this year,” Heidi ordered as a sky blue robe was thrust into my arms.

Rudolph forgotten, I barreled down the hall, shouting at the top of my lungs, “Has anyone seen the blue towel?”

Mom appeared behind me with the blue towel and an army of safety pins and wrapped the towel over my head and snugging it beneath my chin. Every one had a part; there was Joseph, Mary, Shepherds, Wisemen, and an Angel. And Herod. Dad was always Herod. He looked so fierce sitting in his chair, his bald head glowing in the firelight bedecked with jewels and robed in his graduation gown from college days. Mom was always the narrator, pianist, and photographer.

We settled into our places as Mother began to read from the bible, everyone acting out their part, with a few additives as the angel tried to smite Mary rather than just bring her a message, and the shepherds practiced their parrying skills. Songs were sung at the appropriate times and we were taught the true meaning of Christmas and the reason for celebration.

There was homemade almond roca and fudge with hot chocolate sipped by firelight as we listened to more Christmas stories and sang carols around the piano. Brothers and sisters exchanged homemade gifts, and before we could hardly blink the clock was getting ready to chime twelve, which meant Santa would be hear soon. Restlessly I returned to my window, creating a new smudge with my nose.

“If only,” I thought to myself, “I could catch one glimpse of that red nose.”

“What’cha doin’ J? Heidi asked staring over my shoulder trying to see what on earth was so exciting out there.

“I’m looking for Rudolph,” I explained.

She didn’t reply, just mysteriously disappeared and left me to continue to search the starry sky.

“J! J! Come quick, there is something you’ve got to see,” Kimball came tearing into the living room shouting at the top of his lungs and grabbed my arm. Bundled amongst the family I was ushered out onto the front porch.

Slightly annoyed at the cold and the empty dark yard I huffily asked, “What? I don’t see anything.”

“It’s over there,” Paul pointed to the corner of the house.

Sure enough, there was something there just barely peaking around the edge. I gasped in awe, it was glowing red.

”Rudolph!” I exclaimed clapping my hands and laughing.

Dad broke into a big grin and told me to hurry on to bed so Rudolph could help Santa get on his way.

I hardly slept that night for excitement of having seen Rudolph, or maybe it was just knowing that my sister loved me enough to stand in the cold with a flashlight and red cloth, just to make her sister’s dream come true.


Filed under Farm Stories, Memory, Personal History