Most of you who read this blog know that I am a cradle-Catholic, brought up in the
church and yes, I still go. I won't say I am the world's best, but the tenets with which my mom and dad raised us, stuck, on my part.
Today was a holy day of obligations, meaning that we need to attend Mass on those days...
This was the Solemnity of Mary, honoring the mother of our Lord, and
I was named after her, Mary, and Ann, her mother.
I was named after her, Mary, and Ann, her mother.
I will say I don't keep EVERY holy day (my bad) but I did particularly want to
get the year started out right.
So, I went. Father Mark's homily asked us to go home and think of
ten good things that happened in 2018, and think about them, instead of the bad.
I paid attention. I was looking for a way to do a year-end post, and the
last three days had no inspiration.
We went from 55 degrees and sun on Christmas Day, to
upper thirties yesterday with steady rain, and
today, painfully cold (18 with a "feels like" of FIVE), and spitting snow.
I took this after mass this morning.
Let's reflect on it for a minute. During mass, two young couples had beautiful babies, one a boy, one a girl, and they began fussing. Another young child behind me started fussing. I started to get anxious, and then realized.... this is so natural and normal. I looked around, and there were along side me two more young wives who were far advanced in their pregnancies. It made me feel good
that these kids will know the same things I did, growing up. I stopped being anxious, and thought about what a good job the young parents were doing, rocking their babies and quieting them.
My Nativity set is still up at home, and will stay up until Epiphany, next Sunday, as the one at church will.
(the day the Wise Men arrived)
These guys and their camel.
So, on to the review of the year.
Last year started about like this one, as you can see.
I have to ask myself sometimes (like this morning) if I am nuts... I'm 68 years old, and
bundling up to go out and take care of a bunch of thankless animals (and wildings).
Yes, I second-guess myself. I do know that my A1C is the lowest it has been since
before I was diagnosed with diabetes in 2004, and I am in better overall health than ever.
One of the wildings upon whom I am spending a fortune in feed costs.
Briefly, I had two lovely kittens, Autumn and Twinkle.
I started a new medication in January and had terrible trouble adjusting to it,
and realized I needed to rehome them. I am eternally grateful to Kitty Cat Connection
and Tammy Potts for doing so for me, and they went together to a new home.
Still on the meds, adjusted fine after 3 months, and yes, I regret losing the babies.
March brought more temperate temps.... and grandson Jax came to
help me in the garden for a few days. Jax NEVER wears pants, even in the
coldest days of winter... he wears shorts. His dad wears shorts.
BRRRRRRR. He does own some sweatpants and a few pairs of
slacks, but this is his regular guise. I am hoping to hire Jax because I am planning a complete
revamping of those garden beds, and a regular garden this year. I need digging help, and this
young athlete can do it.
On April 4th, I saw a gold-headed blackbird in the feeding area.... along with the ubiquitous starlings. I did not see it again.
I did have several at the big house, before Keith passed away, but had seen none here.
By the end of April, grass was greening nicely. Lilly Ann, pictured here,
had torn her ACL, and I actually made an appointment for her last trip to the vet (she is not a candidate for surgery because of age and weight).... but was recommended to put her
on CBD oil and did. She is still with me, thank heavens, because she is the
soul of this place.
I know I won't have her forever, but she has gained almost another year,
and will be thirteen this summer.
Late April also saw Barnyard Babies at the National Agricultural Center,
our biggest event of the year, and one for which Jax and Paiton always volunteer... they did the bubble table again.
And then, in late April, this happened:
A neighbor approached me with a suggestion that a I hire a man who had done
odd jobs for her for many years. I did, he built a couple of crude hand rails on two
stairways that Keith had built, but left with no rails. He also built two doors for me,
but DID NOT put handles on them.
(I ended up paying someone to do so)
He asked what I was going to do with my pasture, and I told him "cut it", and he asked
if he could put sheep there for the summer.
I thought about it and told him yes, and four sheep became eight and then twelve...
and were duly brought and unloaded. The fact is, I had never been around sheep
except at the fair, and I LOVED them.
However.... the arrangement was awkward, to say the least. He would
come mornings on his way to the place where he worked (down my road about a mile)... and let the sheep out... and I would take care of them, water them, feed them, and generally
move them into the yard and back into the pasture.... Some days he did not even come in the morning.
I was uncomfortable with what was, in fact, a strange man coming on the property. He was uncomfortable too, I could tell.
However, as I said... I fell in love with them.
Three ram lambs left at Memorial Day, to go to barbecues.
I am not cut out for commercial sheep raising, let me just say that.
By May, the deck was a riot of color.
Of course, the chickens tore a lot up.... but I am thinking of ways to make the deck
unavailable to them this year.
Chicken Poop. In summer I can wash the porch off daily, but in winter, ugh.
What we didn't know on this sunny day was that we were going to have a drought for the entire summer, and most farmers here only got one cutting of hay, and yes, hay is now through the roof.
On June tenth, I caught the 50th Anniversary Tour of one of my favorite bands.... Yes....
the Steve Howe version, and that's Tony Kaye and Billy Sherwood on stage at the Midland, I was in the second row.
Met the band afterwards, and had a blast.
Guitar virtuoso Steve Howe, and yes, he does look
like the Crypt Keeper, the older he gets, but
can this guy play.
Also in June, this happened. Granddaughter Paiton started hunt seat lessons,
and she has now spent 30 weeks learning, and I hope, developing a life-long love of horses, as I did.
It's such a pleasure to see her ride.
Her mom saw this picture and said "That's a big horse".
Thanks to West End Farm for such a great experience, still
By July, the girls were laying up a storm.
My eggs, as of April, began to go to the new walk-in shelter
(Leavenworth Interfaith Community of Hope) in Leavenworth (KS)....
and little by little, I began to also cook a meal a week for them,
as they depend on people preparing food for the shelter
The night manager, Paula, reminded me that "if I took
care of God's needy ones, He would never let me
run short".... and guess what... I HAVE NOT.
I found that I really enjoy cooking that extra meal,
and I plan it carefully.
I learned I don't have to cook for forty, that I can fix enough for twenty, or ten...
and I continually look for new recipes I can try, and have a bunch of
tested ones to fall back on.
I had loads of fun this summer with my ducks,
and had actually had six babies... two had been taken by
raccoons or owls at this point, and I was later to lose these four,
which was a sore loss, as both females were laying gorgeous big eggs.
I am down to three as I write this, and will tell you that ducks are
very labor-intensive if you take care of them right.
My big three Pekin drakes that I still have require water that they
can dip their bills into daily, and I always provide swimming water, too....
I keep a heated bucket for them, but have been out there twice today,
filling a pool for them to get into, even in the bitterest weather.
Yes, it stinks... but I love them.
I am going to come up with a dog pen, I think, that
can be covered tightly with a tarp, so that I can get some
ducklings in the spring and keep them safe from the raccoons.
I'll feed them in the pen and herd them in at night.
It was hot, hot, hot here this summer, but on August 9th,
we got some much needed rain.
You can see the barns were painted by then.
By my 68th birthday on the 25th, the heat had eased up a bit.
On Labor Day, my cousin Mary Frances and I saw Ringo and the All Star Band at
Starlight. I saw the Beatles, folks, when I was 14, and saw Ringo on his first time out with his band 30 years ago (can it be that long?).... we had a blast, it was a beautiful evening to be outdoors.
That's Steve Lukather of Toto on Ringo's left.
The next morning, Mary Frances and her husband, Rich, took me to MCI to fly to
Milwaukee... my very first "vacation" after losing Keith.... and grandson Chris stayed here to take care of the place.
So I am posting a somewhat blurred picture of me with the OTHER Version of YES,
the Anderson-Wakeman-Rabin version,
with my idol, Jon Anderson.
I am using the blurred picture because Jon Anderson could NOT HAVE BEEN NICER,
he put his arm around me and one other lady from the meet and greet bunch, we had dinner (lovely buffet) and a three song warmup just for our group, meet and greet, and pictures.
As their camera was possibly on the blink, the hostess took pictures with our phones, and where we would have only gotten one, I got eight. I am giddy just writing about it.
I know we are a bunch of old farts, still rocking, but I don't care. It was FUN.
I had more fun than a barrel of moneys, enjoyed downtown Milwaukee,
saw a wonderful concert, and have great memories.
At the end of September, the sheep had demolished the first bale that their owner bought,
because the pasture had pretty much died during July. However... it revived with the
rain of August, and came back. I moved them back and forth between pasture and yard.
I have learned the pasture could have supported an additional five or six sheep.
I only had to cut the weeds about four times all summer.
I have to tell you that I would have bought these sheep.... but I was worried about
winter and carrying water, as there is no line to the barn.
I did keep two... and I solved the problem, I have a heated bucket, and run the line from the porch to the barn lot. Not ideal, but works fine.
I really REALLY like sheep.
Their owner bought a second bale, but sold them within a month of bringing it, and my two are still working on it.
October 6 brought "The Phil Collins Experience" at the Midland, and what a good tribute show that was! I saw it from the front row.
In October, there was still a lot of this going on.
Early November marked the owner of the sheep appearing here at midday one day, to tell me had sold them, and they would be shipping out on Saturday. Broke my heart.
I wanted to buy two, Big Mama and her baby, Brownie. The day of the loading,
he loaded Mama's baby, and left Fluffy, another black faced sheep. ( he did not really know his own sheep, as I took care of them)
Mama called for Brownie literally all day.... and by the next day,
went down. I called the only sheep vet in the area, and on Monday morning,
two days later, he came in a literal blizzard. He gave her shots,
told me if she didn't get up, she would get pneumonia, and we dragged her into the barn.
I gave her shots for three days, then called and he came on Wednesday morning to
euthanize her, she had aspirated. It about killed me, I was so attached to her,
and she was very gentle and would let me handle her all over.
Fluffy, who had been left with her, had been bonded to another sheep, Freckles, but luckily,
did not go down. I was able to buy another sheep, Flicka, locally, and Flicka is almost certainly bred. IF she has ram lambs, they will be wethered, and will stay here as pets, as I am not breeding.
I did not write about this at the time, because, frankly, it about killed me.
December brought Santa's Express Country Christmas at the Ag Hall, and there goes Paiton out the door with our school marm, Elaine, to help in Island Creek School for the morning.
I'm so proud of Paiton and Jax for giving their time to the museum.
Paiton and I worked together that afternoon in the Smith Pioneer House, doing crafts with the visitors.
Paiton and Jax and I went over to Independence (MO) to see my younger son Jeff,
whom I rarely mention on this blog. Jeff lives alone and works for a local grocery chain. He has been an Independence resident for almost 30 years, and does not drive far, so rarely comes over to the Kansas side. I see him infrequently, but he is always in my thoughts.
It was good to see him just before Christmas.
Keith is buried at the National Cemetery in Leavenworth, not on post at Fort Leavenworth.
I was so pleased on Christmas Eve as I headed up to the shelter with eggs, to see that his
section was decorated this year for Wreaths Across America... five thousand are decorated yearly.
I had placed a wreath on his grave on December 1st, but all those brothers and sisters around him had been decorated.
I was at a retirement party this past weekend, and a friend and I were talking about Keith. She told me that another of her friends was widowed and said this year was harder than the first... and I would have to say that the first year, 2016.... was easier, I was still on adrenaline from the whole thing, and trying to adjust. Last year was a little hard, because I had time to reflect, and while, in many ways now, I am "used" to being alone.... this year was a little harder than the last two.
I suspect from here on out, it will be easier.
This is my oldest son, Jim, and his wife, Amy. Amy had a double mastectomy on November 5th, and has started her battle against cancer. As of today, she has lost her hair, but her attitude remains great, and she and Jim are convinced she will beat it and thrive.
I am praying for them daily (this is Paiton and Jax's mom)
So...wrapping up 2018... I had the barns painted, and the driveway re-graveled, but
will perhaps have to do it again, as the young man miscalculated.
I had some regular maintenance done on the buildings, more to come in 2019.
I had some large trees removed.
I did not garden.
I saw (besides the bands mentioned above) The Foo Fighters (everyone needs to see Dave once).... and two Beatles Tributes, Let It Be and the Fab Four, and saw one band, one of my favorites, twice... The Little River Band. Love them.
This year... I am going to have more work done on the "shop", the big cement
floored barn, replacing the lights in there so it is usable.
I am starting seeds again, and will be working on my orders this afternoon, when this post is finally finished.
I will continue to volunteer for the shelter, and take eggs and meals.
I want this place to be somewhere where my family can come and be happy.
I didn't want to forget my buddy, Jester, the best little dog ever!
I hope all of you reading this have a safe, happy New Year and the greatest of
happiness in 2019!
You can follow me @Ksredhead1950 on Instagram, or Mary Ann Yoder on Facebook. Of course, after 9 years, I will still be blogging infrequently here!