“I’ll Be Home for Christmas”

Growing up and the majority of my lifetime I lived where having a white Christmas was part of the Christmas decorations created by mother nature. Around Halloween the first snow would arrive, large feathery snowflakes whirling slowly downward in the still and quiet night arousing the Christmas spirit for the year. My favorite time of the year.

By Christmas, there would be several snowmen taking up residence in the yard. Birds and mule deer would wonder in curious about our new temporary residents and to check out the food stored in the barn for the horses and chickens.

Since moving to Texas, I have very rarely seen snow. The opportunity to make a snowman has occurred only once, and not around Christmas. I work at creating my own Christmas wonderland. Instead of mule deer wandering into the yard, I have lighted metal framed deer to remind me of years past. There are plenty of birds who visit, and cardinals. Growing up the area I lived in had very few if any cardinals. I decorate with artificial trees in the yard creating a forest where my artificial deer hide. The lights are hung on the house eaves and the trees lighting up the area I have decorated with a manger and various other seasonal decorations.

Yet, I miss the guardians of Christmas past, the snowmen. Each year I purchase one new Christmas decoration for my collection. This year I was planning on the purchase of a snowman and snowwoman. But money has become tight, so there will be no snow people in my Christmas yard.

Each year when I am writing Christmas cards with letters for each person on my list, I think of Christmas at “home”. Like the song, “White Christmas”, I will be home for Christmas if only in my mind. And perhaps just a Christmas wish for a white Christmas this year in Texas.

amtolle

Writer’s Block

The questions and thoughts twirl in my mind like a tornado, yet I am unsure and unable to put a word down on a resume. I have watched tutorials on how to write a good resume. Resume format has changed in the last decade. Yet, all that has come to paper is my name and contact information.

I have not been slack the past eleven years. I have worked at raising horses for five years and the last six years I have been raising sheep. I worked remodeling and updating our home. Building a storage shed and four shelters plus fencing on the farm. There are daily duties performed regardless of the weather. But how does a person write this down for a resume.

I have been writing this blog for almost a year. Although some of the blogs are below average in my opinion, I have not had writer’s block, the inability to words to thoughts. I have started a novel, somedays the words fly from my mind to my fingers, other days there is a bit of struggle on how to word those thoughts, but the words appear. Then I started composing my resume and every thought disappeared.

Writer’s block where not a word even wants to appear, just plain void. It affected more than just the resume, I could not even respond to a text message from my daughter. If I had to put a word down in written format, my mind was totally blank.

I have never experienced a totally blank brain. My mind is always racing with thoughts and ideas. But two days ago, the mind was totally blank, froze up like a computer without a reset button.

Then yesterday, my husband and I worked on some steps for our backdoor. The warm sunshine, the simple painting with a paint brush back and forth covering every inch of wood. Our conversation of forward plans for our future, not words of resumes or job applications. Plain simple conversation and physical work with visits from the dogs, sheep and goats, the dam in my mind started leaking. As with any dam that begins to leak, more and more thoughts and information poured forth removing the blockage and freeing the stream of thoughts.

The writer’s block has a few remnants remaining, but I am sure with time those small blockages will move down the stream. I will remember where the reset button is on my mind should I ever freeze up with writer’s block in the future.

amtolle

Changes in Life’s Journey

Life is a journey with twists, turns, hills, valleys and rainbows. Each travels a pathway seeking a destination all their own. Sometimes those pathways cross others, or are shared for awhile.

When we start this journey of life we are children, traveling with our parent or parents, traveling the path the parent is traveling. As teenagers, we start wanting our own path, one that is close by, but yet separate. The security of being able to return to the path of our parent is a comfort when the path gets hard or difficult, or we reach a crossroads and unsure of where we are going. Gradually the path separates, and we are traveling our own journey through life.

For some of us, we are blessed with having someone to travel the path with. Having a partner to travel beside you on the journey of life is not an easy tasks. The twists, turns, hills, valleys are all there, only each can help the other, leading support and assistance when needed. Crossroads can be a challenge as both must agree on which path to take in order to travel together. There are times while traveling with a partner, that one of the partners has a harder time traveling that pathway, or the path chosen is more difficult for one, yet both are affected.

When life events changes things, and the path that was once smooth becomes difficult, a partnership can get stronger or be destroyed depending on how each reacts to the situation. Life events such as family deaths, injuries, loss of income or age can cause the partnership to be challenged.

My husband and I have been through so tough times. Being angry at each other during the difficult times does not make it easier to choose a path or to make the pathway smoother. It is hard to make good choices with high and hostile emotions.

Recently, my husband was released from his job, first time he has ever been fired. We were both angry, but not angry at each other. While there is evidence of discrimination, not enough on paper to make a winning case. I was aware of this job being a hostile environment for my husband. The tension after work was very apparent. He would be required to answer the phone calls from his supervisors, even on his days off, and not get paid. There were times his vacations and days off were cancelled as he was required to be at work as there was no one able to cover, and his supervisor was not going to.

Yes, we are without an income at this moment. Strangely, I am pleased he is not working for this company any longer. I tolerated the sharp remarks, quiet moodiness from him having a tough day at work. When his days off would come, it would take a full day for him to relax to work on the place with me, then a phone call would come and the mood be ruined.

Today, four days after him being dismissed. He was relaxed and calm. The best I have felt him be. We should be stressed about finances. The path should feel rocky, steep, dangerous, and yet, we both feel the pathway is smooth. We have a plan on how to get through this part of our life journey.

Today I had my partner, the one I married years ago. It felt good.

amtolle

The Challenge

Standing at where the narrow steep path spits in several directions. She knows where she wants to go, where she wants to be. How to get there is the dilemma. This is not her first crossroads, there have been other cross roads on her journey. At a few she made the decision she thought was right, only to have the pathway end at a cliff, from there she had to make her own path. Fighting and climbing to reach a place of relative safety, yet not where she wanted to be.

Once, she choose a path, the going was hard but not difficult. As she traveled, the ground started falling away before her. She turned to go back, the path was gone. The ground gave way under her feet. Falling seemed to take forever, then the searing pain through out her whole body as she hit the rocks below.

The extreme pain kept her paralyzed for awhile. With great determination, she gradually began to crawl, to move forward. With time her injuries healed, leaving scars and a limp as evidence of her trial. An inward drive keeps her going to where she wants to be. The place is said to be heaven, a place of no struggles and sunshine.

Today, she feels she is wearing a blindfold, unable to see past the decision she has to make. She is scared of where the path she chooses may lead her. Will it be closer to her destination or on a pathway where the ground disappears once more? Make a decision she will, and travel the path with hopes of reaching her destination.

So it is with the challenges we face. Life events happen and we are faced with decisions, not knowing where the whole pathway leads. Life events may be a change in income, a natural disaster or a biological event such as Covid. Perhaps it is a happy event such as a union or children.

A couple of days back, my husband was released from his job, our main income. Today we face decisions on what pathway to take. There are several choices to decide from, but which one is best? Regardless of the pathway we take, we will work together striving to reach our goals and dreams and growing stronger because of it.

Challenges give us the opportunity to grow, to become stronger. How we face the challenge and proceed forward determines our destination.

amtolle

First Cold Snap

The air is cold, and I have spent the past two days getting ready for the freeze that was coming our way. I do not care much for the cold. Where I live there is not frosty wonderland to see the morning of a freeze, everything covered with frosty crystals. Here when there is a freeze, it is ice covering everything.

To prep for the freeze I gave the dogs in the kennels a fresh bed of wool to help stay warm. I do raise hair sheep, but there are times that even this breed of sheep needs to be sheared. I shear the wool and hair from the top of the back on the show sheep and the first year sheep. First year sheep have a harder time shedding the lamb hair, so I give them some assistance by shearing them the first year. This wool I store in order to use for dog bedding in the cold, icy winter months.

The dogs enjoy their nice soft wool beds, except one. This year we have a young male Akbash cross pup, Bruno (We don’t talk about Bruno…lol). He is eight months old and doing his job protecting the sheep. The livestock guard dogs do not stay in the kennel, but they have a dog house to get out of the weather if needed. I put a nice bed in his house, the next morning all the wool was scattered around his dog house and in the sheep pen. I am not sure how much time he spends in his house for protection from the weather but it is there if he chooses to. The nice wool bed I provided for his sleeping comfort, he decided would be more fun to play with. I can try to help improve their lives, but ultimately it is up to the dog in making the choice to sleep in the shelter and on the bed provided.

I have shelters for the horses and sheep. My favorite mare, My Sweet Victoria, would not use a shelter for years. She would stand outside, and have everyone stand outside with her during the storms. It has only been the past three years she has decided it was ok to use a shelter during a storm. She has had the same shelter for twelve years, and only started using it three years ago. Her two pen mates are happy they are able to use the shelter. My Sweet Victoria is not happy while using the shelter, she is very nervous, but she has figured it is better to be dry than happy.

I have also been prepping the lambing barn. I am close to lambing time again. I do not like lambing in the cold months of the year as there is more work to do. I make sure the lambing pens have shavings for the floor and the heat lamps are working correctly. In the cold months, the newborn lambs need extra heat for a few days, especially at night. The mamas and babies stay in the lambing pens for about three days, then they rejoin the flock. The babies have learned who mama is, gained some strength and are good to return with their moms to the flock.

Last month I made sure the water lines and other areas are winterized for the cold months ahead. Since I do not have the ewes in the lambing barn until they are ready to lamb, I have to prepare it just before lambing and between ewes.

Today, we are set for the cold months ahead, except Bruno who scattered his bed. Ooops, we don’t talk about Bruno….lol

amtolle

Preparing for Thanksgiving

This year we are having my husband’s daughter and her family down for Thanksgiving. Along with her and her family of four children, she is bringing down a boyfriend to meet her father.

They have been seeing each other for a least two years. Their relationship is getting serious. Her children like him, and his children like her, and the children like each other. A big positive for a relationship of blended families to work. Thanksgiving we are meeting the boyfriend.

A week ago, I was calling to confirm the dates they would be here to visit, and getting a commitment on staying at our house. My husband’s daughter, Ms. T, jokes just like her dad. I made some reply and heard him in the background with a reply and I said something back. Soon he was on speaker phone, and then he and I talked for two hours. He was mostly asking questions and learning about me and the farm.

It is common being nervous meeting the parents and vice versa, meeting in the boyfriend. At the beginning of the conversation with Ms. T, she was sharing about flying in an airplane to meet his family. She relayed we could fly to Colorado and visit them this summer. We were joking back and forth on why I do not fly anymore. I mentioned the reason being no place to escape during an anxiety attack when you are thousands of feet in the air, from the Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. He heard I had PTSD. He also has PTSD.

We had common ground. He began talking. He asked for me to share the event, I do not share the event. Then we discussed my triggers and his triggers, both of us wanting to avoid exposing the other to triggers during their visit. Then the conversation moved to horses, as he wants to learn how to be around and eventually get on a horse. From the horses the conversation evolved to nationalities, spiritualism and cooking. After two to three hours of conversation, he was excited to come for a visit. He was no longer nervous and wanting to be option of staying in a hotel. His last words of the conversation, “Yes, we will be staying at your house”.

I never thought a condition I suffer with daily, would be used to open the door for a relationship. This man is important to Ms. T and I am glad that with our conversation, he is more comfortable about coming down and meeting the father.

Now I am busy preparing the house for six people. Getting beds ready that have sit vacant for four months, dusting and clearing cobwebs out of the spare bedrooms, moving the extra boxes I have stored in one room to the storage building. Determining the menu and making sure there will be enough food and drinks for their visit.

I am even thinking of putting up the Christmas decorations early. As we will not have family here for Christmas, and Christmas is my favorite holiday. I am thinking of combining the Thanksgiving and Christmas in one celebration this year.

amtolle

Sore, Tired, Feel Good

Yesterday the weather forecast said there would be rain. Towards the end of doing my morning feeding and turning the sheep out to pasture, there was some tiny raindrops. I changed my plan of oiling thing wooden steps for the back door. I decided to deworm and trim feet on the last group of ewes. The working chutes are under a roof, so I would stay dry while working.

Since I was deworming, I needed to weigh the sheep first to determine how much dewormer to give that sheep. The floor for the sheep scale was worn out with places the sheep’s feet could get through. It was not raining very much yet, I will replace the board. I had to cut a the board to fit on the table saw. When done cutting, put the board in place. Perfect fit. I really love it when I use the table saw to cut a board and it fits perfect. I am not fond of the table saw, the saw blade is exposed making me nervous. Plus, the board was bigger than what I usually cut alone. Today, I cut the board, perfect fit, feel good about a job well done.

When I deworm and trim the feet of the sheep, I first put them in a small pen that has an opening for the sheep scale. The sheep scale has two gates, one for the sheep to get on the scale and one for the sheep to leave the scale. When the sheep leave the scale they are in a narrow alley, single file, that goes to the working chute. I can get four adult sheep in the alley at one time. The working chute, like the scale has a gate to enter and a gate to exit.

A sheep in the working chute getting feet trimmed.

I get a sheep in the scale and weigh it, writing the sheep’s ID number and weight down on paper. Open the exit gate for sheep to stand in the alley. I do this until the alley is full. Then I deworm each sheep using a liquid dewormer and drench ( a large syringe type instrument with an end that goes in the sheep’s mouth ). After those four are dewormed, I let one sheep in the working chute, and tip the sheep on its side. The working chute I have as a drop down floor, allowing me to have full access to the feet of the sheep. Trim the hoof walls of the sheep, replace the floor, tip back upright, open the exit gate. The sheep is done be dewormed and pedicure.

Doing one or two sheep is not so hard. Doing twenty takes longer. My hands get tired and sore from trimming the sheep’s feet since I have hand held hoof trims. Tipping the working chute up with a 150 pound sheep takes a little muscle. Then tipping the chute back down after I am done. Definitely a workout for the day.

At the end of the day, my hands are sore, my shoulders and legs are sore from working the chute. I am pleased, relieved and happy that the last group of sheep are done for several months.

I feel good when I finish a task, regardless of how sore and stiff I may be from using muscles I do not use on a daily basis.

amtolle

The Clutter Queen

There are areas I am very organized, with a place for each item. My tack shed is one such place. I have a place for each saddle, bridle, halter and lead rope. Yet, there are some areas I am the “Clutter Queen”.

I enjoy seeing a home with everything in a place, easy to find and retrieve when needed. Six years ago, I started on a journey to have a home neat and organized. I started in my bedroom, with the clothes closet, then dresser. Next on the list was the kitchen, followed by the other rooms in the home. Now I am to the most cluttered room in the house, my craft room.

My craft room is more than just crafts supplies, it also contains the totes of memories in the form of the things my children created in school, pictures taken before cell phones were invented and before cell phones had cameras. The rewards and ribbons my children won. Of all the rooms, this is the room hardest to declutter.

One step to decluttering a home is to get rid of things you no longer use or brings you joy. The totes and boxes of memories of my children’s childhood brings me joy, although I do not have them hanging to where I can see them daily. I do go through the boxes and recall the memories. I have asked my children if they want these items, they have taken one or two items from the boxes I have, the rest they do not want at that time.

One of my daughters made some pottery in her senior year of high school. When she finally moved all her belongings out of the house, she did not want the pottery any longer, told me to get rid of it. I held on the creations. A couple of years ago she spied the pottery pieces on a shelf. “I thought you got rid of those.” No, I had not, she asked if she could take them to her home. I said sure, they are yours. It is these types of events that make the decision to throw something away or to keep it.

I have decided to keep the items created by my children from their childhood years. Each child has their own box or boxes. It would not be so difficult if their creations were just drawings or their first “A” paper. There is pottery, sand art, leather projects that won Grand Champion at the fair, or medals and ribbons on victories won. Now to come up with a plan to organize these items.

When I was young, there was no problem with having an uncluttered house or room. That was before children, and life events. These momentos of the past have accumulated over time, each marking an accomplishment. Perhaps that is why old people have so much stuff, they have memories they are hanging onto.

The photos are an easy organizing subject as I can scan and put on a digital disk saving the all the memories for each child in digital form that takes up little physical space. The other items, I can only place in boxes or totes.

A plan to organize memories I can not seem to let go of at this time. When I am gone, my children will probably through most of the items in the trash. But for now, my craft room will remain a little cluttered, as I am not ready to let go of the lifetime of memories I have with my children.

amtolle

Thankful for Sunshine

The past two weeks have been cloudy and overcast with the hope of rain. I love rain falling. In my area we need rain. But the dreary grey blue days of cloudy overcast causes my spirit to drop. The cloudy overcast days of filtered sunshine does not help the daily depression I battle. Sunshine brings hope, warmth and light. Like the plants, I need sunshine to be energized.

Today I have sunshine.

How long the sunshine will last, only a day or two then it is back to overcast skies with the hope of rain.

But today, I will soak up and enjoy the sunshine.

amtolle

Voting – Right or Duty

Yesterday was Election Day in the United States, the last day to cast your vote for people wanting to represent their community, state or country in a governing position. The United States is a Democratic Republic, in short the people are represented in government by those the majority vote to hold that position.

It has always been a common phrase of mine, “If you do not vote, you do not have the right to complain.” I really dislike hearing people complain about a person who was voted into the office, yet they did not cast their vote for who they wanted in office.

Yesterday while I was waiting to cast my vote, a younger person was in line ahead of me. When the person went to get their ballot number, it was announced they were a “First time voter!” and every cheered and clapped. I joined in congratulating the person for taking the time and effort to do a very important part in maintaining a democratic government – voting.

I feel that a citizen living in any democratic country, should vote in that country’s elections. If a democratic government which is designed to govern my the majority is to be kept, voting is a necessary part of the governing process. How are the people of the country going to be represented if they do not vote.

In the United States, I have the right to own a gun, yet I do not own a gun. I do not exercise this right of owning a gun. I have the right to vote, a right I exercise at every election.

Yet, if I want to keep my country democratic – as a citizen, it is my duty to vote so the whole of the population is represented in government not just those who choose to vote. Voting is something that I must do in order to maintain the democratic government of the country I was born in and choose to live in.

The founding fathers of the United States wanted representation for all the citizens through the process of democrating voting to elect representatives for the area they live in. Democracy in short definition is government by the majority not the few. If the whole population of the citizens does not vote, how can the citizens of the country be represented in the government?

Voting is the voice of the citizen in a democratic government.

It is not my concern of who you vote for as long as who you vote for is your choice, your voice. I feel every citizen should vote, exercise the right as it is your duty.

amtolle