Softly and Tenderly

Last Sunday we sang one of the beloved old hymns, “Softly and Tenderly” by Will. L. Thompson, 1880.  The words are soul-stirring and soul-searching.

Softly and tenderly Jesus is calling,

Calling for you and for me;

See, on the portals He’s waiting and watching,

Watching for you and for me.

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Refrain:

Come home, come home,

You who are weary, come home;

Earnestly, tenderly, Jesus is calling,

Calling, O sinner, come home!

***

Why should we tarry when Jesus is pleading,

Pleading for you and for me?

Why should we linger and heed not His mercies,

Mercies for you and for me?

***

Time is now fleeting, the moments are passing,

Passing from you and from me;

Shadows are gathering, deathbeds are coming,

Coming for you and for me.

***

Oh, for the wonderful love He has promised,

Promised for you and for me!

Though we have sinned, He has mercy and pardon,

Pardon for you and for me.

As I thought about and have sang this song over and over this week, I am reminded of the urgency in  responding to the wonderful mercy and forgiveness of Jesus. Jesus does not barge his way in but tenderly He stands at the heart’s door and knocks (Revelation 3:20-21). We have to invite him in and oh the sweet difference it makes when he does.

Jesus has plainly told us that He is the only way to heaven, the only way to the Father,  the only way to receive forgiveness from sin. “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except by me”  (John 14:6).

If you do not want to believe that Jesus is who He says He is, you do not need to.

If you do not want to pray, you do not need to.

If you do not want to obey His commandments, you do not need to.

If you do not want to take time to read His Word, you do not need to.

If you do not want receive Jesus as your personal Savior, you do not need to.

If you want to spend your life denying the existence of God and the truth of His Word, you may do so.

Jesus never demands, but He does warn. He does not barge in but He does come near; patiently waiting to be invited in. Jesus does not manipulate but grants freedom of personal will to do and believe as you please.

It is your choice, your decision.

Jesus pleads, with outstretched hands, to come to Him, the Messiah, and He presents the opportunity over and over and over.

I thought about the snow storm the other evening. Each little flake of snow flurried to the ground, softly and tenderly, without a sound. The evidence of one flake might be questionable but as it began to pile up measuring inches its presence was undeniable.  Over and over Jesus is making himself known to humanity; the amazing complexity, diversity and beauty of creation, a stunning sunset, the changing of seasons, the joy of a changed life, the incredible development and birth of a baby, the power of the reading of His Word, answered prayer, miraculous healings, the testimony of believers whose lives have been changed, the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit and the fulfillment of prophecy. The evidence mounts deeper and deeper and scripture says that one day ALL will be held accountable. No one will be able to deny that they did not know (Romans 1:20). At the moment of death you will fall on your face before Jesus and the question you will face is, “What did you do with my Son, Jesus”?  (Philippians 2:9-11). Being good does not get you to heaven. Being good only counts when it flows out of a heart of love and obedience to Jesus.  Accepting Jesus as your personal Savior and living a life of obedience and surrender to Him, guarantees you eternity in heaven (Romans 10:9).

Remember, your choice, your decision, determines your destiny.

Softly and tendering Jesus is calling.

Will you answer that call before it is too late?

 

Scripture References: (Words of Jesus in red).

  • Revelation 3: 20-21 “Behold I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with Him, and he with Me.”
  • John 14:6 Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”
  • Romans 1:20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) so that they are without excuse.
  • Philippians 2:9-11  Therefore God has highly exalted Him (Jesus) and given Him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven and those on earth, and of those under the earth and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of the Father.
  • Romans 10:9 If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.

 

Here is a beautiful rendition of the song.

Cheesy Potato Soup

If you are looking for a very good potato soup recipe for a cold, snowy day….this is a winner that I got from my friend, Miriam Haarer.

Sauté: 3 strips bacon fried and crumbled. Saute 1/3 c. chopped onions in bacon grease. (Or can just use 2 T. butter & 1/3 cup onions).

Add to sautéed mixture and boil 2 minutes, stirring constantly.

1 T. flour

1 cup milk

1 tsp. salt

Pepper to taste

Dice and cook 4 medium potatoes in 2 c. water until tender.

Add cooked potatoes (with the water) to sautéed mixture and add an additional 1-1/2 c. milk and 1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese. Heat thoroughly but do not boil.

 

 

 

 

Ice Cream Cake and Pumpkin Pie

 

I love Valentine’s Day. Yes, that commercial, Hallmark, lovey-dovey day with flowers and chocolate and cards that say “I love you”. It is so special to be remembered and appreciated in special ways.  Sometimes the normal becomes mundane and the specialness of a friendship is taken for granted.  Of course our love in more than one day a year. But that one day reminds me to do something special for the one I love the most. I spend some time thinking and planning something special to do for the man I love and he for me.

Yesterday we received two cards in the mail……

Dear Grandma,

I want to say how much I love you and appreciate you on Valentine’s Day. I love you more than I love ice-cream cake and I love your hard-working skills to keep the farm nice. You’re a great grandma. Have a great day! Love, Karla

Ice Cream Cake

 

Dear Grandpa,

I want to tell you how much I love and appreciate you on Valentine’s Day. I love you more than I love pumpkin pie and I appreciate your hard work keeping the farm straight and in working order. Your a great grandpa!  Have a great day! Love, Karla

 

Pumpkin Pie

How do you beat that? We are loved more than ice-cream cake and pumpkin pie!!! Now that is special! We are truly blessed.

 

Two Orphan Calves

There is lots of new life on a farm, occasionally death, and once in a while there are orphans. Right now we have two orphan baby beef calves. It often feels like misfortune comes in bunches. The saga started one bitter cold, icy evening about four weeks ago.  Just before nightfall,  Gene went out to feed hay and a heifer came across the field with a newborn calf in tow.  She didn’t appear to want anything to do with the calf and neither did she appear to have much of an udder. Apparently the calf went in search for its mama and followed her up to the barn. A cow will often stash a calf in a safe spot so it can sleep and gain it’s strength while she grazes the first couple of days. She will go back often to check on the calf and let it nurse. The calf appeared more than a day old as the navel had already dried and was very perky as if it had nursed and gotten the mama’s colostrum. He penned them up together in the hay barn for the night.  A little later in the evening we went back out to check on them and the “supposed mama” did not seem to be interested in the calf which was lying across the pen nestled against the hay. Gene gave the heifer some grain as a distraction just in case so he could feed the calf a bottle of milk with the lights on the truck. IMG_7067 IMG_7072 We began to wonder if this was really the mama.  The “real” mama would have been protective and would  not have been happy with him messing with her calf. The next morning he went to the barn and fed the calf again. He checked all his mama cows and heifers to see if there was one bawling for or searching for her baby. He put the calf out with the cows to see if anyone claimed it. They came around and sniffed but no one seemed interested in claiming the little gal. He checked the fields see if there was a mama down or dead that he had missed.  He could not find anything but it was becoming more and more evident that the “supposed mama” was not the mama. He brought the calf home and put it in a calf hutch bedded with straw. Orphan #1 very quickly adjusted to the bottle and lets “papa” know when it is feeding time!

This past Saturday when Gene went out to feed the cows, he found one of his older mama cows down on her side and unable to get up. She had laid down on a hillside and had somehow ended up on her side. This is a fatal situation for a cow if not found soon enough. He tried but was unable to save the mama and now suddenly he had another two-week old orphan calf.  This time it was a little white-faced bull. By the time a calf is two weeks old they have gotten their running feet under them and are very spry. Gene took backup help and while he distracted the calf  Tim eased up behind the calf and with a lunge caught the little rascal about the mid section.  They hauled him up to the barn and put him in the hutch with the other calf.  It is rare to have to bottle-feed beef calves but now he has two to feed!  It is reminiscent of dairy farming days. IMG_7301 Baby calves are fed two quarts of warm milk twice a day, morning and evening.  The first couple of days he used whole milk from the grocery store and then eased them on to Purina’s Herdmaker milk replacer.  It is very important not to overfeed a calf or they will get sick and die very quickly.  It didn’t take long for these babies to adjust and they very eagerly look forward to breakfast and supper. IMG_7302 IMG_7305  

Homemade Doughnuts

Gladys Harman’s doughnut recipe.

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My mother got this recipe from Gladys years and years ago and our family loved it so much that when I got married, this recipe came with me.  It is a little different as it takes the spice, Mace, which we love.  You can leave it out and you will have regular doughnuts.   This recipe will yield 12 dozen doughnuts and holes. You have to fry the holes-that is the best part!

The best time and our family tradition is to make doughnuts when it snows.  There is something about the lower air pressure, high humidity and a warm cozy house that make it prefect for soft, yummy doughnuts. And what else can you do on a snowy day that is more fun!

Mix together:

  • 6 pkgs or 6 T. dry yeast
  • 4 cups warm water
  • 1 T. sugar-taken from the cup of sugar used later in the next step of the recipe

Let set about 5 mins until it starts to get bubbly.

Add:

  • 1-1/2 cup melted margarine (3 sticks)
  • 3 tsp. salt
  • 6 tsp. mace (mace is a spice-similar to nutmeg but different)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 4 beaten eggs
  • 14 cups bread flour-add gradually until it forms a soft dough. (I first beat with beaters and then finish kneading by hand)

Cover dough with coating of vegetable oil and a cloth. Let rise until double in size-approximately 1 hour. Pouch down. Roll dough on counter sprinkled with flour to about 3/4 inch thick.  Cut out doughnuts and lay on cloth sprinkled with flour.

Jill rolling out doughnuts

Jill (our daughter) carrying on the family tradition, along with Obe and their friends John and Brenda Hedrick.  It snowed this week and she called me with questions about doughnuts!  I used some of her pictures but she forgot to sprinkle the cloth with flour to help keep the doughnuts from sticking.

Laying doughnuts on table

Let rise until double and deep-fat fry until golden on each side.

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Immediately lay on paper towels to absorb extra fat a few minutes and dip into glaze. Lay on wire racks  or put on a rod to drain off extra glaze.

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Glaze:

You will need to make this glaze about 3 times for this recipe.

Mix together and let set 5 mins.

  • 1/c cup cold water
  • 1 pkg unflavored gelation

Put in top of double-boiler pan (a pan set over boiling water)

  • Add a shake or two of salt and 1/2 tsp. vanilla
  • Add 1 box or 1 lb. XXX sugar and beat just until mixed.

Dip warm doughnuts.

Homemade doughnuts get stale fast. Even if I want to serve them the next day I will freeze them.

My blog about Glady:  “I’ll Meet You in the Morning”.

I’ll Meet You In the Morning

A funeral or memorial service for a loved one is filled with many emotions and can be so hard but it is also so good.  It makes you pause and ponder life. You grieve the passing of life and mourn the deep sense of loss but it is also a time to reflect on the specialness of the person who has died.  I usually leave the service with a renewed sense of purpose and hope. Hope that believes God is who He says He is.  Hope in the reality of eternity in heaven for those who put their trust in Jesus Christ.  Hope that my life here on earth has purpose and meaning.  And a profound realization of the impact my life has on my circle of friends.

Merlin and Gladys

Recently we laid to rest a dear saint, Gladys Harman.  If you ever met Merlin and Gladys, you loved them.  You loved them because they loved you. Let me tell you a little bit about these kind-hearted, gentle farmers.

Harman Family

(Merlin and Gladys with their offspring; three children (Keith, Cynthia & Susie, their spouses and grandchildren)

 

Their farm, aptly named Mountain Breeze, is nestled at the foot of Little North Mountain.

Mountain Breeze Farm

If you followed the winding, curving road from their farm for several miles along the foothills there is a little church called  Zion Hill. This is where I first met Merlin and Gladys when I was just a young tyke about 4 years old. Our families were friends and we worshipped together every Sunday. They loved the earth;  Merlin was a dairy farmer and Gladys had a huge garden and well-kept flower beds that completely surrounded the old farm house with a huge porch and the white fence surrounding the yard. She was a good cook and knew how to butcher and can vegetables and fruits. And Gladys could make awesome homemade doughnuts, Sunshine Chiffon cake and potato chips. Occasionally our family would join them in their old wash house in the back yard where we fried lard cans full of golden, crispy chips in a big cast iron pot.  She used lard which came from butchering hogs.

One of my favorite stories about Gladys (I was too young to remember it happening) was when their oldest son was a tiny baby.  One Sunday evening they put the baby to bed and went to church.  Once there, people started asking where the baby was. Gladys matter-of-factly stated that he was asleep at home in bed.  It was his bedtime so she just put him to bed. The reaction of people made her start to worry and by the time the service was over she was anxious to hurry home. Needless to say, she never did it again!

Sometime after Gene moved to Powhatan from Newport News, he started going to Harrisonburg on his weekends off. He knew John Carl and Jewel Shenk and started hanging out at their place.  John Carl was from Newport News (Gene’s home area) and Jewel was Merlin’s sister. They lived in the tenant house on Mountain Breeze Farm.  (John Carl and Jewel were actually responsible for getting Gene and I together).  Gene would usually spend time at the farm, hanging out with Merlin while he fed cows and milked.  They developed a long-lasting friendship and as time went on, Merlin and Gladys became his home away from home.

When Gene asked me for our first date he had a brand-new, sporty, 1970 Ford Torino car.  It was a dark emerald green with a hood scoop.  Merlin’s young son, Keith, was given the job of washing the car. Keith sprayed water into the hood scoop and the car refused to start. Gene ended up driving Merlin’s blue Buick sedan, arriving at my house an hour late!  Their son, Keith, became the name sake of our first son.

One time Merlin and Gladys came to see us and help make chips.  Merlin spied my cast iron bell that I wanted to put on my deck but I did not have the mounting hanger. He stirred around in Gene’s scrap metal pile and found a discarded pair of “hip hooks”. This is a contraption that you put over the hip bones of a cow that goes down and needs help getting up. You can fasten the front-end loader of the tractor to the hooks and lift the cow to her feet.  Merlin went into the shop and it wasn’t look until he emerged with a perfect bracket for my bell.

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An now, 42 years later, we celebrate her life. We remember…. and in our grief we rejoice in her glorious homegoing.  I love one of the songs sung at her memorial service; “I’ll Meet You in the Morning”.  Oh the blessed hope of seeing our loved ones again.  But until then, she is enjoying true bliss in the presence of Jesus, whom she dearly loved.

“I’ll Meet You in the Morning”

I’ll meet you in the morning by the bright riverside
When all sorrow has drifted away
I’ll be standing at the portals when the gates open wide
At the close of life’s long dreary day.
I’ll meet you in the morning with a how do you do
And we’ll sit down by the river and with rapture old aquaintance renew
You’ll know me in the morning by the smile that I wear
When I meet you in the morning in the city that’s built four square.
I will meet you in the morning at the end of the way
On the streets of that city of gold
Where we all can be together and be happy always
While the years and the ages shall roll.
I’ll meet you in the morning with a how do you do
And we’ll sit down by the river and with rapture old aquaintance renew
You’ll know me in the morning by the smile that I wear
When I meet you in the morning in the city that’s built four square.

*****

Glady’s Doughnut recipe.

 

. 

Rainy Day Cleanup

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Today was one of those days: throw away, burn, salvage and cleanup.  This is not a house or yard cleanup, this is farm cleanup!!!  Only a farmer can truly appreciate how much stuff collects on a farm. Keith came with his excavator and dump truck so you know this is serious business! The men are all in a jovial mood with smiles on their faces, laughing and cutting up.  Gene is on the forklift gathering up the stuff (old metal shelves,  disk blades, discarded lawn mowers, pipes, axles, etc.) and Keith is smashing and loading it on the dump truck to haul to salvage.

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They have a fire going for the burnables.  Phil is picking up, moving stuff around and making his own little pile of our junk to take to his home all the while muttering “such a shame”.  He stashed away an old leaf blower that somehow could become a log splitter. Keith spied several metal plates that were just what he needed to make some needed brackets. Not only do we have farm junk but outdated parts, discarded mowers and other equipment from the small engine repair business we had for years. It is so funny how hard it is to let stuff go. It can lay around for years and not be touched.  But pick it up to throw away…. there are instant ideas of possible uses!

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My man is a stasher, he inherited that trait,  but it is often amazing to me how he finds ways to recycle and use his stashed treasures. I have seen pieces of three different bales rings put together into one, a wagon repurposed into something totally different than its original intent and the list could go on and on.  I remember shortly after we were married Gene salvaged a whole pile of fence posts from my dad’s burn pile and they served him well for many years.  This cleanup project is motivated by a bigger repurposing scheme. The old feed bunk barn from dairying days has become a terrible collection shed for stuff over the years. He wants to make it into a mixing shed for his cattle rations and loading area for his mixer wagon. And so the time comes…. the day and hour is not predictable….when the mood hits and it is cleanup time.  Today I say, “it is boys and their toys having fun smashing things!”

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Favorite Pictures from 2014

I decided to “try” and pick some of my favorite pictures I took this year from the thousands I took! Enjoy!

January

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February

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March

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April

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May

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June

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July

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August

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September

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October

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November

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December

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And that my friends is seeing life through the lens of a country gal.

Bunk Feeding with Vertical Mixer Wagon-Part 2

This is an update to the first post Bunk Feed with Vertical Mixer Wagon.

Week 1:  After a full week of using the mixer wagon, Gene is very pleased and happy with what he sees at this point.  Several observations:

1.  He was feeding 6 round bales a day in the hay rings.  This week he has bunk-fed 4 bales with the mixer wagon.

2.  The cows are content and not all crowding the bunk at one time. They eat and go out to graze or lay in the pasture chewing their cud.  There seem to be some cows around the bunk most of the time.

3. This does not speed up the feeding routine. The total process actually takes a little longer; however he can do other things while the bales are mixing.  Some of the round bales are lighter and fluffier and some are wrapped tighter and heavier and are a coarser stem hay.  The lighter bales grind and mix much quicker-20 minutes. He is putting a lighter bale in first and then topping with the tighter which are taking much longer to grind.  It is taking 25-30 minutes to grind the two bales. If they were both soft bales it would take less time.  He is pleased with the consistency of the hay and the cows are cleaning up the bunk so there is no waste.  At some point he would like to have a bale slicer for the tighter bales to speed the mixing/grinding process.

4.  He is using more fuel because of the time it takes to grind but he is also feeding less bales of hay.

5.  He is putting a mixture of water and Purina Superlix on the hay as it is mixing. It is making an excellent quality forage, smells good and also cuts down on dust.  He is using 130 gallons water and 7.5 gallons Superlix per 2 bales which means each cow is getting 1 lb. of Superlix.  The young calves are really eating at the bunk.

Week 2: The weather has turned colder with rain.  He has had to up the ration to 5 bales but if he was feeding round bales, he would have also had to up the quantity fed.

1.  He tried putting the third bale (it was a tighter bale) in the mixer and that did not go well as it took too long to mix-he lost his efficiency.  He wants to try a lighter one and see how that goes.

2.  He has sent off a sample to the lab for analysis and is anxious to get the results back.

Spot

We have this cow; Gene calls her Spot. She is our rogue, fence walker, gate checker, “grass is greener on the other side of the fence” cow.

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This morning as Gene and I were standing at the patio doors looking out over the pasture he said, “here comes Spot”! We watched her march up the driveway from the back pasture, heading straight to the gate.  Occasionally she would stop and glance towards the house as if she was checking to see if anyone was looking.  It was obvious what her mission was.

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 She looked the gate and noted that it was closed and then looked around to see if anyone was watching before going back the way she came.  (She didn’t see me catching her on security camera!).  She walked all the way up the pasture just to look at that beautiful closed gate!

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If Gene goes through the gate and leaves it open for awhile, she is the one who will find it even if she is nowhere in sight. There is this alarm system that goes off in her brain- boss has left the gate open-go for it.

Quite often in the summer time we see her down on her front knees, head stretched under the fence eating grass even though there is plenty of grass on her side of the fence.  It is a defiant “just because I can do it” attitude.

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Maybe it is her spots-she is the unique cow in the herd of mostly black angus.  Somehow the spots fit her well, individualist bovine that she is!

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