Sunday, June 24, 2012

Lunch with the Ladies

Yesterday my mom and I took my grandma Loraine, Travis & Arliss into the city to have lunch in Andersonville with my great-aunt Helen.  Loraine is in her 80s and Helen is 90, between the two of them there is so much history.   Both ladies grew up on a farm, one in northern Wisconsin and the other in northern Illinois.
They each experienced the simplicity and the hard work of living on a farm.  Helen is the youngest of 4 kids, two other siblings had passed away in infancy.  Loraine is the middle child of 5,  an older sister had passed away, also in infancy.

Helen and Loraine both love the city.  Helen has lived downtown for all of my life, or at least all of my memory. She now lives in senior housing with her dog, Suzie.  Great-Uncle John died a few years ago. Everyday Helen is outside taking her dog for a walk.  When she signs cards to the family, she includes the dog's name in the signature.

Loraine left the family farm for nurse's training during World War II.  She lived in the dormitory with other nurses-to-be and grew to love the city.  In fact, it was during nurse's training that Loraine met her future husband.  She married Grampa the same year she finished training.

Sitting at lunch with these two amazing women was such a privilege.  Helen shared stories about her dad and grandfather as well as stories about Gramma Olive, her older sister.  It was the first time I had heard them and I felt honored to take down the memories she had of her childhood.  My great-grandfather (Helen's dad) and his father would sit down at the table and talk to each other in Swedish.  Helen said it was such a beautiful language, so soft.  She never heard such a wonderful sound.

She often wondered why her dad never taught the kids any Swedish.  She wishes now that he had, then she could read the inscription on the wall at Ann Sathers restaurant where we were eating.  I asked the waitress what the inscription said and repeated it to Helen.  "It is simply good food, that brings back such fond childhood memories."

Travis and Arliss with a Swedish horse
After lunch we walked down the street to the Swedish Immigration Museum and went inside to see the displays.  So much of what was presented to the public is a part of my family history.  There were old trunks that had come over from Sweden in the early to mid-1800s; many of which looked like the trunks my family has passed down through the generations.

There were tools made of wood, no plastic or metal, that would have been used on the farm.  Other items such as a number of Swedish Bibles were on display.  There was one Bible that had survived the Great Fire of 1871 because the family had the foresight to bury the Bible in their backyard along with their silver teapot. The items was retrieved after the fire was out.

classic colors for a Swedish horse
We went into the souvenir shop to look at a number of items including the Dala Horse, which is well known as a symbol of Sweden.

On the way home we drove by the lake and Loraine shared other stories of her time in the city, including where she and Grandpa were engaged--Lincoln Park Zoo.  Grandpa taught her how to drive in the city and would tease the "country girl" when she would pull halfway into the intersection to see if there were any oncoming cars.

"Viking World Tour"
All in all, by the time we returned home the adults were tired and the kids were a little stir-crazy from sitting in the car for multiple hours.  But it was so worth it.

Enjoy the pictures of the city.
Sending love and kisses from the farm,

Arliss, Loraine,  my mom,  Travis, me, Aunt Helen

Thursday, June 14, 2012

My own kind of ox cart

As a former home-school mom and elementary school teacher I fell in love with the book Ox Cart Man by Donald Hall.  It is a wonderful story of a man and his family who make things to be sold at market.  One of his daughters collects molted feathers from the goose pen to make pillows.  The end of the book shows the man and his family repeating the process.  Again collecting the goose feathers and so on. 

With our ducks molting feathers I have found myself living out my own Ox Cart experience.  Yes, when we process the ducks I will have feathers but I figured it was foolish to let all of these "free" feathers go to waste.  So every evening when the ducks are in their pen for the night, I take a small pillow case and collect the feathers from the yard around the house.  I have enough to make a nice down mattress for a Barbie.  It might not seem like much, but I've only been doing this for a week or two at the most.  I can hardly wait to see how many I will have collected by the end of the summer.

half full bag
Barbie might like this soft mattress

now you see them  

The mulberries are ready for picking and the raspberries will be ready in the next week or so.  I was able to pick 2 quart freezer bags of mulberries last year and almost as many raspberries.  There might have been more, but raspberries are my absolute favorite fruit so more might have gone in my mouth last year than went into the basket.
now you don't

All is well here.  The cows love the back and forth of the two pastures as I mentioned in my last post.  Every evening they come from the back pasture home to the barn and it is a sweet sight to watch them amble home.

If you have a desire to pick some mulberries and smell the sweet clover out in the country, let me know.

Until then, sending love and raspberry kisses from the farm.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Dry days, sweet days

Here in northern Illinois we have had very little rain.  The grass hasn't been cut since May 23 & 24 and at the rate things are going, it could be another week before it's necessary.  This kind of dryness does not normally happen until August. If it's dry and hot now what will it be like in a couple months??

The garden is doing well, potato plants are flowering, the corn is about calf high, and the cauliflower plants have heads about the size of a half dollar.  My mother-in-law has been adding plants and seeds all over the garden.  She also bought a hydrangea plant for me which is doing pretty well considering the dry weather.
wild raspberries are ripening now (taken earlier this spring)

Travis and Arliss went exploring in the machine shed and I soon heard the tell-tale sound of a metal drum being moved.  I came out to find the old watering trough being washed and prepared for a soaking tub.  They also came across styrofoam pieces that were about 2 1/2 feet long, 1 1/2 feet wide and about 3-4 inches thick.  This was quickly tested for buoyancy and  after a little preparation the boys took Rufus and Rover on the leash and headed off to the pond to see how well it floated.  They also took 5 gallon buckets with lids for extra buoys.  After 2 1/2 hours they returned, sunburned (even though they took the sunscreen) and thrilled that they were able to use the styrofoam as a raft.  I foresee many trips back to the pond during the rest of the summer.

Even when the temperatures say 90+ it doesn't feel that hot here.  Out in the country the breezes blow freely and the house has large shade trees to block most of the sunshine from the west.

The cows are now in the back pasture and loving the "wide open" freedom of two pastures and the lane between.  They can spend their days under the trees in the pasture behind the barn and the open cool of the back pasture in the evening.

where there is water you will find the ducks
The sweet clover is blooming and filling the air with sweet vanilla,  the birds are chirping and singing in the trees all around.  The ducks are growing and maturing.  One of the Rouen ducks has discovered that it can fly and has done quite well much to the surprise of all of us.  The Pekin ducks are unable to fly as they are "too fat to fly" but they try from time to time.  It's rather a hoot to see them try to get off the ground.

I hope all is well with you and yours.  Sending love and sunshine-filled kisses from the farm.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012


Arliss the Protector
School is out and the lazy summer schedule has begun.  Bike rides, sleeping late, creating imaginary adventures and watching the garden grow are on our schedule.
Such fun!

Travis has taken to woodworking and Arliss has been creating his own wonderful forts and adventures.
I have been watching the ducks grow each day and the garden has a plethora of veggies for our pantry.  My mother-in-law has been working hard to get herbs and veggies started.  She has a great green thumb.

With the hay cut the dogs and ducks have another few acres to explore.  Our dogs, Rufus and Rover, have found a vole nest in the hay field and have dug out the whole burrow.   The ducks are thrilled to have even more area to search for bugs.

   Calves are growing and loving the open pasture for running and romping. And yes, I think the calves romp !

Enjoy the pictures.  Sending love and sweet summer kisses from the farm. oxox

Arliss has a tent among the pine trees

all I would need is a good book...I'd never leave!