December 2008

  I hope eveyone has a wonderful Christmas.   It’s going to be quite a quiet morning here in the country for us.  This afternoon the kids will be coming over for dinner.  

    We’ve been up early and are watching old movies on Turner Classic movies; 1940 era.  i didn’t know that Glenda the Good Witch played in so many other films!  She plays the ditsy wife so well.


I don’t know if you have ever danced the Electric Slide. . . My memories are from the Officers Club on a Maryland military installation. Most of the dancers were sporting dress blues or greens. But we sure had fun! Those were the days!
Anyway, the most current project (pun intended!) that is electrifying our front pasture. It is not one I would like to participate in thank you. I watched my sister (she knows who she is!) match two colored wires together one time  just to see “what would happen”.  The next thing I know there is no power in the house and Dad was really mad! Today we can laugh at it, but I’m still not comfy around “hot” wires.
Anyway, it’s good to have great neighbors. Mr Bob came over Sunday after noon and Monday afternoon to help DH finish the job he had stared on Friday. They have the top wire hot on the electric fence. DH would like to have the bottom wire finished this weekend. That should keep the dogs out of the pasture (we hope).
On Monday morning, DH drove up to get our latest friends. On Q and Mr Popularity are Dexter Steers. They look a little lonely out in the 3 + acre field by themselves. but by Saturday they will have company. DH and I will go and round up the other 5 over in Southern Pines and bring them to our place. They have been visiting a friend until the electric fence was done.

   I thought I would include our annual Christmas letter in this blog for all to read.  It’s going to be a bit different, since I change the names to protect The innocent  from embarassment!   May you all have a Joyful, Blessed Season! 



Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

From Smiling J Farm


            We have so many things to tell our friends that we just had to add to write a Christmas newsletter.  For over 15 years we lived in a gated community, but we found ourselves looking at land more and more.  Three acres here, 5 there. . . Until we found our perfect spot . . .  And it has 10 acres!




It just happened to be next door to Bob, a man DH has been working with for about 10 years.   To make a long story short we negotiated a price without a realtor and by February, made a deal!  That same month we started a vegetable garden with next dor neighbors, Bob and Mona.  We tilled and added horse manure (from their horses) to a spot behind their barn.  We planted tomatoes, lettuce, peppers (green, yellow and red), sweet potatoes and squash.  The tomatoes, potatoes and peppers were great.  We need to learn about bug control though; they got more of the rest than we did!                                    

            So what are we going to do here?  Well DH has decided he wants to try his hand at raising cattle.  I reluctantly agreed.  So we made a number of changes to the property to get ready for this adventure.  We’ve put a small barn up, built a vinyl fence in the front pasture (one that matches the neighbors!) and have started the back pasture fence.   



            DH and Bob spent several months on a project in between others.  They renovated a 1955 Farmall tractor, pictured above.  It looks great now and showed quite nicely in October.  We’d like to show it at a few fairs locally next year.                               

            We sold the boat just last month and it’s helped us to finance a number of things.  (I am still in mourning!)  Our new farm members will arrive as soon as we have the fencing and a place for them to run in out of the elements especially since winter is soon upon us.  We have bought small cattle:  Lowline and Dexter breeds.  They are both small yet pure bred cattle.  We bought 4 heifers and 3 steers.  One of the “ladies” is pictured with me below.  Angie is a one year old Lowline/Dexter mix.  You can tell they are smaller cattle.  According to DH, she’ll be ready to breed in March.   


 Author and Angelina (Angie)

             The barn is nice and we like it so much we thought it would be a good background for a logo.  So that is the basis for it as you can see.  And who is Smiling J?  It is Troy’s Dad, Julian; we know he’d be smiling if he were here to live and work on our farm.  There are many times we wish we had been able to do this while he was still around.  So we decided to name the farm after him. 




            We are so happy living in the country now and we enjoy sharing our experiences with friends and family.  We hope to have a website of our own up at   Check back with this blog and I’ll let you know whent is available! 


            As the expression goes here, “Come see us”   Hugs from Smiling J Farm including Auggie, Thomas and our new herd!











Okay it’s not football but fence. It looks pretty good for a start.  This is almost the same view as early yesterday.   It looks pretty sturdy doesn’t it?  Cool, Huh? 

And oh for those of you in the North,  I found some of those Red-breasted Robins that left you for the wineter.  There is a flock of them  in my back yard!  It’s not easy to see them, but they are the specks in front of the old shed.  And darn it they are eating the rye grass seed we had hoped would be growing by now.  It’s an all weather grass. . .  Now we need a scarecrow!

I was seeing Nellie home
   I was seeing Nellie home
   And ’twas from aunt Dinah’s quilting party
   I was seeing Nellie home

    We heard the refrain from this song hundreds of times while we were growing up.  Mom liked the old time songs and knew a little about several of them.  So we heard experts from church hymns, Irish tunes, quartet numbers and her local “jingles” I suppose you can call them.   Well activities today on our small farm have me thinking about this tune.  We’re having a party! 


     Above you will see a couple of pictures of the “backyard” which we call the back pasture.   You know I never stopped to think. . . .  how big does a place have to be before you stop calling it a yard and call it a pasture?  Maybe it’s the intended purpose which makes the name. . .  Anyway they sort of show how it looks this morning. 


   So what kind of party are we having?  Thomas wants to join it.  He’s inspector of the wood!  Don’t lift that leg there!!!!!!

    Well, it’s no quilting party, baby!  oh, no.  There are several husky (hunky??) men digging dirt and hammering away at that lumber.   And I’m cooking away.  Don’t want to get in the way of all that testosterone!


  Even the dogs have some of that!  They used to have more. . . but we won’t get into that now. . .  Yup, we’re getting ready for the “gals” and the steers to show up and live on our place.  It’s a beautiful day and we hope that this is a great fencing day. 


   Do you think chicken and rice, salad (courtesy of our neighbor Mona), iced tea, coffee, and brownies will keep these guys happy?  I sure hope so.  They have worked hard to get this side done.    It looks great so far, what do you think?   

     Thanks guys!!!  Now who will see you home?

    As we travel the road to retirement, we have certain goals we’d like to reach.  I guess that makes us just like most Americans.  However, our road is sometimes blocked by our taking too many stairs at the same time. 

    Right now we have to get the fence up as soon as we can in the back pasture so we can bring our new “family members” home.  The Friday after Thanksgiving, while so many were trampling other shoppers in your quest for that perfect Christmas gift, we drove 2 hours to get Angie, Gretchen, Brown Sugar, Martina and Hamburger Jack.   They are staying with a friend while we prepare for them. 

    So where are the pictures of these newest Smiling J’s?  . . . Okay I was not fast enough to grab the camera on the way out the door.  And DH must not have thought about it or he would have reminded me.  the weather was perfect for pictures.  So I’m sorry my friends, I’ll get them another day. 

    Anyway, this blog is not about cattle, it’s about the things we do to sabotage our way to the American Dream.  Or at least it started out that way.  And yes I do tell stories like this. . . I always get side tracked.  Maybe that is why my house is not as clean as I’d like it. . . Oh, look the dogs are wrestling. . . ha, ha, just kiding.

     So we still have the old house to clean out completely and get ready to put onthe market.  Why do we not do things in order?  It’s not like we can’t. . . And it’s not like we’re not carrying a mortagage on the place that we could use elsewhere!  Hey, I just cook and clean and work for Unlce Sam. . . okay?  DH does the directing of priorities around here. . .  And I say “three bags full”. . .     Well, at least we sold the boat and will be bringing the RV back home this month.  Those alone will save us plenty.  Okay back to the American Dream. 

     Okay, I’m taking a long time to tell you that the biggest thing we’d like to do on the farm is put another house up.  I would say build, but it may not be your typical “build”.  We’ve found what we think is a great house for a farm.  It’s at     If it doesn’t go right to the Linville, click on Our homes, go to the Cottage Style and look up the Linville.  We really like the looks of it especially the flagstone accent on the porch supports. 

    Wouldn’t it look great with a matching sign support at the head of the driveway with our sign on it?  Yep, there is is, our next dream. . . Now we just have to back up a few steps and clean out that old house, get it repaired and put it on the market! 

    See you next time!