Summertime Visit

Each year I drive the long miles to pick up my grandson, Mr. J. He has come to my home each summer since he was four years old. He actually lived with me for nine months starting at age two. Circumstances with the divorce of his parents, and his mother moving to Texas, he needed a place to stay for awhile until she became settled. Granny’s house was a good place to go. Then his father came to Texas and stayed with us for nine months. So, for over a year he lived at our house.

When things settled and his parents found their rhythm in life, he came for visits. The length of time started as a whole month. But as children grow, they have other activities. This year Mr. J will visit for three weeks.

The drive to bring him to Texas and return him home is the worst part of our summertime visit. Two days on the road makes a long trip. On the trip to Texas we talk about the year and catch up. We also make plans for what we will do this visit.

This year, we are fishing and riding horses. His horse is not caring for a baby this year, and we will be able to go on rides. He has been riding her since he was two, they are both getting older. There will come a time when he will not be able to ride his beloved Vicky horse.

Fishing is another activity he started learning at the age of two. We would take him to the local lakes, hook the perch and let him reel in the fish. He has learned how to bait his own hook, take off his own fish, and how to put rigging on his pole. The first day of fishing this year, his first fish was a channel catfish, 20 1/2 inches long, weight 3.5 pounds. His largest fish he has brought to show was three years ago, a channel catfish 28 inches long.

But staying with Granny is not all play, there are the daily chores of taking care of the sheep and horses. We are also refinishing a dresser for his aunt who is having triplets. He has learned how to paint different items in the past visits, but this year he is learning how to hand sand and refinishing an old dresser, and make some minor improvements and repairs.

Two years ago when Covid-19 broke out and everyone was on lockdown, he could not come for summer visit. His mother said he was miserable. She said that would not happen again. His summertime visits are a recharge for him. A time to learn new things and just be a kid.

Mr. J and I have a special relationship, grandmother and grandson, but also best friends. He is able to talk to me about anything and everything, without feeling judgement or getting in trouble. We have worked through some of his hard problems, learned how to deal with emotions,the problems that arise from having divorced parents and step parents.

During our fishing trip, we discussed that these summertime visits will eventually come to an end. He is getting older. One year he will have a job, or be at college, and unable to take three or four weeks visits with Granny. He is getting older, growing up and will eventually have commitments and responsibilities, that he does not have today. Today, we will enjoy the talks on the lake banks waiting for the big catfish to bite, or feeling the rhythmic hoofbeats under us as we ride.

He also realizes that the day will come when his beloved Vicky horse will no longer be able to carry him on a ride, she is sixteen this year. His hope is to ride her filly born last year, when the filly will be old enough to ride. And perhaps, he will be able to train her, be the first on her back for the first ride.

It has been a cherished joy to teach my grandson the many lessons, first to be talk using words, to learning to ride alone, to catching and reeling in a 28 inch catfish. Memories we both will cherish for a lifetime and beyond.

So, if I miss a day or two from writing the next few weeks, I am out fishing or riding or working on a dresser, building more memories to recall in the future and a relationship for a lifetime.

amtolle

First Big Step in Life: Graduation

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It is the time of year I start receiving graduation announcements. Family members and young people who I watched grow up are finishing the last days of high school and graduating. Graduation is a time of celebration, their childhood work of education is completed and they are stepping into adulthood.

In the United States, a child begins the education journey with their first step into a kindergarten classroom. For thirteen years they will attend public education provided by the country. This is only the beginning to a lifetime journey of learning.

I hear seniors say they will be so glad to be out of school, they are tired of learning, lessons, tests and homework. Truth is schooling is the easy lessons to learn. The lessons from life are pass or fail. There is a cost when you fail the lesson in life.

Learning continues in after high school graduation with the choices. One pathway is to continue with structured classes in a college or university to obtain an occupational degree. Others choose to become certified in an occupation such as beautician, electrician and many others. Some choose to enter into military service for the country. Last, there are those who just want to get a job, and figure out what they want to do. Regardless of the choice to continue with more structured learning, all will start their lessons of life.

Lessons taught on financial responsibility. Some young people are surprised by the expense of having a cellphone. A common item used daily, that is paid for by their parents, now becomes their responsibility to keep the bill paid.

Time management is another life lesson. Balancing time spent with college or work and with family and friends. Balancing having fun with what is required to pay their new found bills, and not falling asleep.

After high school, people seperate to start their new adventure in life. Some leaving their hometown for the first time. Learning people from different places do not think the same as they do on a vast array of subjects. There is work involved in keep friendships alive when they are not seeing each other daily, often having a visit months apart. Making new friends and keeping old friends, and developing romantic relationships without supervisor or wise words from parents.

The lessons young people learn after graduation are lessons they will continue to learn as adults for a lifetime. We meet new people, we learn new jobs, our old friends move away or we move away from them. Our lives and the lives around us are always changing, and the lessons are learned and refined as we gain in age.

Do we ever arrive at knowing how to work around those we may not agree with? Do our friendships never change? I do not think we are ever “done” with learning.

We change yearly, hopefully getting better at our life lessons. Looking forward to the next adventure, the new friend and making wiser choices.

amtolle

Dealing with Grief

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I have taken some time away from my blog to grieve, grieve for my sister-in-law, Sally. Sally went to be with the Lord the day before Easter this year. A memorial was held on May 7, and her ashes spread on May 8, Mother’s Day.

I was unable to attend. The services and placement of her ashes were in Wyoming, a long way from where I live. My husband attended. Being separated during the time of grieving for a close relative is difficult. I wanted to be next to him with love, support and comfort. He had lost his only full sibling, two years his junior.

I had met and visited with Sally on several occasions. When we traveled north to visit family, I made sure we visited her, let her know she was accepted by her brother’s new wife, and she was important. We hit it off. She enjoyed my company as much as I enjoyed hers.

I wished I had been able to visit her in person before her stepping through the door, but it was not to be. I am a sheep farmer, responsible for the well being of my sheep, horses and dogs. She understood my situation.

My husband brought back a few personal things that belonged to her. Sally had few possessions, she only kept what meant the most to her. A family portrait, a clown statue her mother had, a few Christmas ornaments, a verse she had written while missing her mother, little things attached to memories.

A sister-in-law chose a leather jacket Sally always wore. Inside the pocket was the ticket stub when we all gathered in Texas for the State Fair of Texas. The last time all four siblings were together. That occasion meant alot to all of us, but apparently was very important to Sally. Everytime she placed her hand in the pocket, she was reminded of being with her sibling, half-siblings and their spouses. The happy day of all of us together sharing memories and making new ones.

Her life was not easy. Their parents divorced when she was two years old. Her father did not spend much time with her due to different situations. Her stepdad did not accept her. She longed for a father’s love. She was closests to her mother, and when their mother went home to the Lord, Sally was lonely.

The day before Easter, the day celebrating the resurrection of Jesus, Sally went to be with her Heavenly Father. She was baptised as a young girl, but was not raised in church. She loved God, she prayed, but she was unable to touch or feel God. Sally now has the touch and feel of a Father’s Love, something she searched for during her lifetime.

We all grieve in different ways. I choose solitude and prayer. I am gradually finding the places to put the few things we have from Sally. She will always remain in our hearts, and will have a place in our home.

amtolle

Remembrance

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While watching a murder mystery where a policeman was undercover as a college professor teaching English Literature. The policeman gave the students an assignment of writing their own obituary. This brought to mind a Bible study I participated in years ago titled “One Month to Live”. In the Bible study we were to write our obituary, epilogue and what our headstone would say. Sounds morbid, but the focus on the Bible study was are we living life, and are we living a life in a the way we want to be remembered.

Are you living your life in the way you want to be remember? Are you grouchy to people in the check out line, instead of patient for your turn? Are your reactions the actions you want people to remember?

The study brought to focus, that I was not really living life. I was home, alone doing what needed to be done, but not really having joy in the day. I was not in conscente communication with my children. And due to the distance, I was not finding ways to have my grandchildren know who I was. There were things I needed to change.

I wanted my grandchildren to know more about me than just I am their parents’ mother. I wanted to know my grandchildren beyond a name and birthdate.

Obituaries tell the facts about a person’s life. Their spouse, how many children, grandchildren. Where a person grew up, what school or schools they graduated from, and organizations they may have belonged to.

The epilogue is where someone tells others what type of person you are. They give information to how you feel and react, what you believe, what are the most important memories of you from those who know you. The epilogue tells what type of person you are and your life.

My epilogue was faded, vague not much in comparison to what I wanted to be remembered for doing and being.

How would the life you are currently living align with what you would want to be said in an epilogue? What type of memories would be shared by those you care about and love concerning you?

My epilogue has changed since the Bible study. I made changes to my life. I get out of the house, there are others besides family who know me as a person, not just a name. My grandchildren can share stories of things we have done together. I once again have dreams and goals for my life, although I am in the downward side of my lifespan, I have things I want to do and be remembered for doing.

How does your life align with what you would like shared in your epilogue?

amtolle

What’s for Dinner?

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Everyday, without fail, I make the decision regarding what is served for dinner at 6 pm. My husband is able to cook, but what he cooks is not healthy. He loves cooking everything in one pan (less dishes to wash), fried. When we met his dinner was Hamburger Helper with a can of vegetables added. Needless to say I have made his life healthier and with more variety in what he eats.

There is always the question “What’s for dinner?” that I must answer daily. I love grilled steaks, grilled corn on the cob and a salad for dinner. There is the budget to keep balanced. Steak is good on occasion but not healthy everyday. The cost of steaks today, the bank account would be zero.

The challenge is to prepare healthy meals, variety and stay within the budget.

As a child I was excited to become an adult. In high school we were required to take a class, Early Adulthood. This class covered job applications and interviews, how to balance a checkbook, make a budget, the process of a marriage, renting and buying a home, divorce and funerals. There was nothing said the daily decision on what to feed yourself and a family.

My parents did their best to prepare me for adulthood. My mom never mentioned the constant decision of what to fix her family for dinner.

Somehow telling a child “When you become an adult, you will have to decide what you are going to eat everyday.” was not important. There is a lot that goes into deciding what a person should eat.

First, there is what they like to eat, favorite foods and those they hate and refuse to eat.

Then there is the budget. Many of us can not afford to go to a store and get whatever food their taste buds desire.

Health, the meals prepared need to be healthy. “Garbage in, Garbage out” is true when it comes to what we feed our bodies. In order to stay healthy, we have to put healthy foods into our bodies. Providing our bodies with the proper nutrients and in balance, not too much of this vitamin and enough of that mineral, keeps our bodies working properly allowing us to grow, work, and enjoy life.

Then the time required to prepare the meal. Working a job takes time away from preparing a nutritious meal for ourselves and our families. Crockpots and planning ahead help with the time management of preparing a meal.

All things considered and executed daily to answer our loved one’s question: “What is for dinner?”

Ironically for many decades being a housewife was not considered an occupation and did not require a skill set. A very untrue statement. The meal planning and budgeting and cooking required skills.

amtolle

Birthday Gathering

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We gathered for the 80th birthday celebration for Hank, a dear friend of ours. Before Covid-19, a group sometimes large and sometimes small would meet every Friday at Casa Torres for dinner and conversation. The people who came had one thing in common, they were friends of Hank and his wife. Horses was the other thing everyone had in common. Those who came were owners or previous owners of horses, the common thread of the group.

We met Hank and his wife when I answered an ad for a stall cleaner. I worked for them, cleaning 18 stalls every weekend for six months. We became very good friends. I only worked cleaning stalls for six months, my older body could not handle the physical labor of 18 stalls.

Shortly after starting to work for Hank and his wife, we were invited to join the Friday Dinner Group at Casa Torres. Most of those we met were older than my husband and I, as most of the group was retired. Some of us talked about current horse events we were training and competing in. Others talked about past events and horses. The conversations were about horses, riding techniques, chiropractors, farriers, and the events competed in. We would talk until told the restaurant was closing.

Tonight the whole group, less two who happened to be in the Cayman Islands, were there, 27 of us. We had gathered to celebrate the birthday of a remarkable man and dear friend.

It was so pleasurable to see and talk with everyone again. Conversation was catching up with each other’s lives from the two years we had not seen one another. Learning the ups and downs, injuries and horses retired.

I feel the Covid-19 stole two years from life. In the beginning of Covid-19, with states restricting where people could go, I could not even visit family. Casa Torres had closed. No dinner meetings. No seeing friends, since they were quite a few years older than myself, I would not risk exposing them to Covid-19. The area we would trail ride was closed.

We all had missed each other and the weekly gatherings at Casa Torres.

As business and the area gradually opened. Some of us were able to meet to ride. When riding horses, you are more than six feet apart. But the Friday dinner group did not meet. Hank, who went on dialysis a year before Covid-19 would not risk being exposed. He also has not ridden horses for over a year.

We had gathered to celebrate a birthday for Hank. There were to be no gifts.

There was a gift given, from Hank to all of us, we all met together.

Tonight was special.

Tonight will be remember.

We gathered again at Casa Torres.

amtolle

P.S. The restaurant had cleared all the tables and all the chairs, except ours were on the tables. We had left after closing tonight.

On Mark, Set,….

I have shared my daughter is pregnant with triplets, spontaneous triplets. Most triplets are the results of infertility treatments. My daughter is not on any type of fertility treatments. Hence, spontaneous triplets. A triplet pregnancy is considered very high risk.

This morning I received a call that she was seeing the doctor. An unplanned doctor visit. I may have to pick my granddaughter up from pre-K. I assured her I would be there.

I live two hours away. Then I realized we are approaching the time when unplanned doctor visit are going to occur. In a few weeks she will have to stop working and get lots of rest, eventually bedrest.

With the call, I needed the booster seat in my truck. I needed clothes for staying overnight if that was needed.

We have been planning and doing to help their family be ready for triplets. But, I was not ready. No overnight bag, no prep for my husband if I am not home.

Today, I packed the overnight bag. I have some meals in the freezer. I will be making and freezing more meals. I did an inventory of the sheep feed and supplies. I made a food list of items to stock in the pantry for when I will not be home.

We, they and the whole family are truly excited about welcoming triplets into our family. I have spoken with the children, we have come up with a plan to assist with diapers and wipes (triplets use 18-20 a day). There are baby showers being planned. I will be staying with them once she is sent home, through the delivery and afterwards to help out with whatever needs done and for support.

As a family we realize it will take the whole family to raise the triplets and their sibling.

In our current times, I notice families not as close together as they once were. As a child I went to school with my cousins. Weekends were spent at someone’s home where each individual family gathered to eat and play games.

People have moved miles away from family, like ours, family is scattered to several states. Most of the moving away is for work or job positions as in my scenario of moving due to a job transfer for my husband. Children grow up, go to college, find jobs or serve in the military and move away from the area they called home. Away from parents, grandparents and relatives.

How can “scattered families” stay close and connected. Thanks to technology, there are video chats, and phone calls. Cell phones allow us to talk with the high expense of long distance calling that was standard when I was a child. I am thankful for unlimited minutes and data. I know I use my share in keeping in touch with the grandchildren and children.

Video chats have allowed us to share weddings with those who could not attend. A few birthday parties as well. I can watch my grandson learning to play the piano, see my granddaughter’s solo performance.

All of these tools are great. The key is to remember to use these tools available. I have learned how to do a screenshot of an item I wanted to purchase for my granddaughter’s birthday, wanting parent approval before purchasing. I have learned how to video chat and multiple person conversations. I have to keep learning so I can use the tools to stay connected.

Is it comfortable to ask a twelve year old how to do something with the cell phone? Not really. But is it worth it? Absolutely.

To stay connected I have to get out of my comfort zone. I have to learn to do more with my cell phone besides answer “Hello”. Learning to use technology to stay connected with my family has been a challenge. I have hung up on family trying to connect another person to the conversation. I struggled with connecting to the live video at a birthday party. Learning can be a struggle.

An unexpected reward is hearing my grandchildren tell me “you got it”.

Is our family ready for triplets? I do not know about the others, but the parents are. I am. I did not need to go today. But when I do, I am ready to be there.

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amtolle

The Journey

I love horses. I enjoy riding and working with my horses. I have learned many things from the horses through the many years I have been around them. About ten years ago, I learned of a horseman, Chris Cox. I enjoy watching Chris work with the horse. Chris Cox states that being a horseman is a journey of the horse. The destination is to be a better horseman or horsewoman than you were yesterday. His words rang so true to my life and journey with the horse.

Recently, the words of journey with the horse has crossed over to the other things I do in my life. Daily working with the sheep, I am on a journey with my sheep. Learning each one and methods to working with them better, with less stress on the sheep. I also work with herding dogs. The dogs are used daily in gathering and moving the sheep. One reason, one of my rams (male sheep) is very aggressive to people. This ram likes to charge at you. A 400 pound animal hitting you with his head is dangerous. We take the precaution of always working him with a dog. The ram respects the dog, and does as the dog directs him. Working with the very intelligent Border Collies dogs has been a journey.

Today, I realized I am on another journey of writing. I am in the process of writing my first book. I have written term thesis for college, countless essays and letters. But never a book. To write a book takes time just like my 156 page college thesis took time. First the idea or subject, then some research, characters, place and time. Writing a book is a journey you determine where the story goes, who you interact with and location of the action. I am on a journey of creating a journey to share with others if they choose to read.

Our everyday existence is a journey. There are many turns and twists in our lives. Some created by our own decisions and some by situation or others choices. We can accept our journey where we are, or change our journey to a different path. Mostly we should be enjoying this journey we are on.

Daily I work to take joy in my journey of life. I look for the humor in a situation instead of succumbing to frustration. Today, I was deworming and trimming feet on a breeding group of ewes with a ram, the aggressive ram. I use a manufactured alley which is made of metal panels forming a pathway the sheep have to travel in single file to get into the chute I use to trim their feet. I had done three ewes and the ram was in the alley, only he stopped. I pushed, I hit him on the rump with my hand (honestly, ask the kids and my husband, I do not hit very hard, not heart in me to hit hard.), I could not get him to move. He was physically stuck in the alley way. I bent down and trimmed his feet while he was standing in the alley and he did not move. I touched him in various placed and he did not move. I tried to remove a side of the alley to let him free, only there was so much pressure on the sides, alone I could not remove the pins and open the side.

What to do now? Sit back and breathe, call the husband and laugh on the phone. Ask him when he is coming home to help me free the ram.

While I am on the phone with my husband, standing away from alley and chute. The ram does some major pushing accompanied with groans and moans to finally free himself from the alley and go through the chute to freedom and the girls.

Six months back when I purchased this ram, he could fit in the alley, but he was also very underweight. Now, he is in good condition for a ram, and he does not fit. My new, younger ram is bigger than this ram. We made the decision not to put the rams through the alley or the chute. I will have to put sheep panels together to trim his feet, deworm and vaccinate the rams.

On our journey of life and the journeys within our lives, we can get mad or frustrated when something does not go our way. Example of a job that should have taken me a couple of hours, took all day. Or we can laugh at the obstacle, not be afraid to ask for help from someone or God, and figure out a way to overcome the obstacle and get unstuck from the situation.

Our journey of life is short. Enjoy the journey. Find joy in your journey. Do not let obstacles steal your happiness, as obstacles are only temporary.

amtolle

P.S. I should have taken a picture of my ram stuck, before I called my husband.

Weekend Workings

Change requires new ways of doing something, sometimes new plans and occasionally new location. The closure of the sheep and goat auction I have attended the past 5 years is a major change. Learning I am going to be a grandmother to triplets is a major change.

I am a sheep farmer, my income comes from the profit I make after paying expenses for selling the sheep I raise. Basic business plan is to keep expenses low in order to have more profit. The sheep auction was close to my farm. With the closure I had to determine where I am going to haul my market lambs in order to sell. I decided to sell the market lambs directly to the processor located three hour drive one way. The processor is honest and will give me a market price for the lambs. This processor purchased my market lambs at the sheep auction, I was saved the expense of transporting the market lambs the additional 2-3 hours farther.

My breeding sheep that I sell does not change. I have always sold the breeding stock directly off the farm. No change there. I will lose the opportunity to make contacts for those wanting breeding stock. I will have to go to social media to sell.

The one problem that took some time to work a plan on was where to sell the cull sheep. The cull sheep are ewes who have lived past 8 years of age or have problems delivering lambs. I have found a sheep auction located 3 hours drive from where I live, in the opposite direction of the processor to sell the cull ewes.

Sheep farm problems solved, at least for now.

Every week I receive information in the mail and phone calls of realtors stating they have a person interested in buying my home. The real estate market is very “hot” in my location. There are more people wanting to move into this area, than there are home available. Majority of real estate listings do not stay on the market past 30 days before being under contract of purchase. Quick sells are the norm for my location.

I received such a notice in the mail this past week, saying they were looking for a home for themselves. I decided to give them a call. They came out Saturday. People tell so many lies. They were not looking for themselves but was “fishing” for a listing in my area, for a quick sale and money in their pocket.

We have entertained the idea of selling our property with the desire to move closer to my daughter who is pregnant with triplets. I know that for the next several years a helping hand will be appreciated, or more a “taxi”. My daughter’s family wants their children to be around animals and see farm life. But with the size of their soon to be family, that is monetarily out of the picture. They will have to visit Granny’s and PawPaw’s place to see and experience farm life.

We will eventually move closer, but not today and not this year.

The other activity was planting the flower and vegetable garden area. I love working in the dirt. One of my favorite places to go shopping and even window shopping is a garden center or nursery. I love looking at plants. My husband took me to the local nursery. I was able to find some plants to add to my garden area.

I also discovered Chronicles Bells. They make the most lovely sounding windchimes. The soft, harmonious sound of the windchimes was relaxing and soothing to my busy mind. The drawback was the price, the windchimes I desired were $240.00 USD. More than my budget would allow at this time. They are on the waiting list, maybe Christmas gift list. If you have the opportunity to listen to these windchimes, they are worth the effort, and the money.

I planted and transplanted vegetables and flower in the garden area. I also had to do some clean up from the winter in order to plant. I took pictures and will have future posts on what and how I place plants in my garden area and containers.

We also did the regular activities of feeding animals, buying grain and dog food, groceries. There is always something that needs to be done on the farm. I enjoy what I do.

amtolle

Change and Comfort Zone

I do not like change very much. I like to stay in my comfort zone that I worked so hard to get to. I am very uncomfortable meeting new people, being in a crowd of people I do not know. I have trust issues, I do not trust people.

Today, I learned a big change took place. The sheep and goat auction where I sell my market lambs and ewes that are getting old, is closed. For a reason unknown to me, the placed was forced to close for an undetermined amount of time.

It took me about four years to get comfortable with the main crowd of people who attend that sheep and goat auction twice a month. I have developed a couple of friends there. Now, I have to find a place to take my sheep for sale.

Some suggest to sell the sheep online. I tried that once. There are so many people who scam. I was sent “bank checks” that were not from the bank institution on the check. I had people copy my pictures and try to sell my animals as their own. Plus, people coming to the place is not a comfortable activity for me. The dishonest people I have been involved with when I was selling dogs, I just do not want to go that route.

Today, I did research on livestock auction places. I looked at the reviews, how long they have been in business, how many animals that are sold there and what the prices are. I have found a couple who were in lawsuits concerning the animals representation at the time sold-I will not sell at those places. I did find one livestock auction a couple of hours away I am planning on visiting. I have two months to find a place to sell my sheep, I have time to research and ask questions.

I will be uncomfortable for awhile until I learn how people show their emotions and react to things. Although it will be stressful and tiring for me to go, the upside is I will meet new people and maybe get more contacts to sell breeding sheep.

The closure of the sheep and goat auction near me will effect a lot of people. I have already received texts and calls from small butcher shops that slaughter and market the meat near where I live. The big buyers at the auction are no longer able to purchase because the is closed, so their clients are looking for sheep. There are even more people looking for a place to buy sheep for pets, to raise for income and to sell their sheep. I am not alone in this situation. I am sure I will see a few familiar faces as I look for a place to sell my sheep.

The next two months will be interesting, frustrating and something that I have to do.

amtolle