farm

When you live on a farm, with multiple animals, the work never ends. My nephew, Eric Parmely married a girl named Ashley, who was raised on a farm, and they are on a life journey that is probably pretty unusual in this day and age. They bought a farm west of Casper, Wyoming, and they both work very hard raising horses, cows, goats, pigs, turkeys, and chickens, not to mention dogs and cats. The baby count grows every year, and of course, the animals supply the family with meat, eggs, milk, and of course, love…especially from the dogs and cats, but from the other animals too.

Eric’s workday doesn’t really end until his head the pillow. Eric is always working on something. Eric and Ashley host a family dinner for our families once a month, and after dinner, the work must usually go on. Sunday when we were out there, he and several of the men were out working on his tractor. You can’t run a farm without a tractor, and there is always something that needs done on it…either repairs or maintenance. Then he and Ashley have jobs like milking the cow and the goats, feeding all the animals, and stacking hay (when they buy bales).

Eric is a great daddy. He gives the best “daddy horse” rides and tickles…which we all know is very important…especially the tickles to his kids, Reagan, Hattie, Bowen, and Maeve!! He is always helping Ashley with the household chores and is an expert at washing dishes and folding laundry. You might say he has dozens and dozens of babies, because he also loves to snuggle the kittens and puppies, and he helps pull calves. Eric really has a heart of gold and is filled with love for his kids, wife, and animals.

In the little bit of down time he has, Eric likes to watch videos on YouTube on his phone and giggles to himself. He rather reminds me of his Uncle Bob in that way. It doesn’t matter if it’s on television or his phone, Bob gets a kick out of comedy, just like Eric. It’s fun to listen to their laughter from the other room, and ultimately, you can’t help but laugh along, even if you don’t know what is so funny. Just hearing their laughter is contagious, and you find yourself laughing along…or at the very least smiling. Ashley tells me that Eric is still a mama’s boy, and that is likely true. I think Eric would help his mom, Jennifer Parmely and her partner, Brian Cratty with anything they needed, and I think he would help his in-laws, Kari and Albert Eighmy with anything they needed too. That’s just the kind of guy Eric is. Today is Eric’s birthday. Happy birthday Eric!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

We seldom think of the “man of the family” being 6 years old, but sometimes circumstances put families in tough situations. Harland Sanders was born September 9, 1890, in Henryville, Indiana to Wilbur David and Margaret Ann (née Dunlevy) Sanders. He was the oldest of their three children, having a younger brother and sister. Sanders’ dad was a gentle and loving man who worked his 80-acre farm, until he broke his leg in a fall. He then worked as a butcher in Henryville for two years. Sanders’ mother was a devout Christian and strict parent, who did her very best to teach her children right from wrong.

At the tender age of just 6 years, Sanders was forced to take over as man of the family when his father passed away. Often when that happens, the new “position” is just symbolic, but in this case, it certainly wasn’t. Because his mother had to get a job, and Sanders needed to help provide for his younger siblings, so he took jobs as a farmer, salesman, streetcar conductor, and railroad fireman from a young age. His mother got work in a tomato cannery, and the young Sanders was left to look after and cook for his siblings. By the age of seven, he was reportedly skilled with bread and vegetables, and improving with meat. Times were hard, and the children reportedly foraged for food while their mother was away at work for days at a time. Strange, I know, but remember that things were different in the late 1800s. His formal schooling ended after the seventh grade.

His personal life took a hit, because of the stresses and pressure he always seemed to be under. His first wife, wife Josephine King, with whom he had three children: Margaret Josephine, Harland David Jr, and Mildred Marie, left him in 1947, and in 1949, he married his mistress Claudia Ledington-Price…cheating being his biggest failing, in my mind, but things happen. In September 1970 he and his wife were baptized in the Jordan River. He also befriended Billy Graham and Jerry Falwell.

After his son died at the age of 20, Sanders dealt with severe depression. Through this depression, though, he finally found a business he could succeed at: restaurants. At age 40, Sanders was running a service station in Kentucky, where he would also feed hungry travelers. Sanders eventually moved his operation to a restaurant across the street and featured a fried chicken so notable that he was named a Kentucky colonel in 1935 by Governor Ruby Laffoon. Sanders had to essentially restart the business after roadways had diverted traffic from passing by his restaurant. Nonetheless, his restaurant was eventually rebuilt and his chicken, with its famous new cooking methods, were celebrated. After selling KFC, Sanders would go on to disagree with the direction of the company that still used his face as its advertising, and he even went on to sue his former company. He continued to work for the company until his final days and was reportedly never seen in public without his white suit. Sanders was diagnosed with acute leukemia in June 1980. He died at Louisville Jewish Hospital of pneumonia on December 16, 1980, at the age of 90.

My grand niece Hattie Parmely is a sweet little princess of a girl, who always wears a smile first. No matter what else she is wearing that day, her smile is her best feature and for a girl who loves her “bling,” it is the best thing she wears…ever. These days Hattie sweet smile is missing a few teeth, but that just makes it all that much cuter. Hattie is very much a girly girl, and she loves her bling. Even wearing blue jeans, Hattie chooses to wear sandals covered with rhinestones, so that her blingy side is displayed too. That was the outfit she had on yesterday at a family dinner. Her outfit was topped off with a pink t-shirt, and she looked very cute.

Hattie and her siblings, Reagan, Bowen, and Maeve, are home schooled, and doing very well in school. I asked Hattie and her older sister, Reagan how they liked their teacher. They didn’t quite get it at first, because I was, of course, asking them how they liked their mom, Ashley Parmely. It was funny, when they caught on. They both looked over at their mom and grinned. Hattie also loves to play the piano…something I have always thought I would love to learn, but have never gotten around to doing so. I’m happy that Hattie is going to be able to play the piano, because I think that the ability to play the piano is something that is so fulfilling and so soothing. I think the piano compliments Hattie’s personality perfectly. I love how Hattie has her own sweet personality. Most kids do, but Hattie’s personality is one that strikes me as being a very gentle and loving girl. She chooses to be the blingy girl she is. I am always amazed at how different some of the personalities are in children, even siblings. Of course, with brothers and sisters, that is to be expected, but even with sisters, each one has their own way, and that is what makes us all unique.

Living on a farm, Hattie loves to ride horses, and can often be found doing just that. She and her siblings have been raised on the back of a horse, so they are very comfortable there. They have also been raised on a bicycle, so they love to go riding too. The trails on Casper Mountain are favorites among the Parmely and Eighmy families. The fact that Hattie is a girly girl, doesn’t in any way mean that she doesn’t know how or want to take care for all the animals on the family farm, because she loves them all, especially the babies, of which there always seems to be a few. Hattie loves the homeschooled-farm-girl life very much, and if you have ever been out to their farm, you can see why. It is such a relaxed place to be, with no rushing out the door to catch the school bus, or rushing out the door to drive in their parents vehicle to the school…school is just steps away from their bedroom, and that is very nice, indeed. Today is Hattie’s 7th birthday. Happy birthday Hattie!! Have a great day!! We love you very much!!

My grand niece, Reagan Parmely almost shared her mom’s birthday, but she stalled just long enough to have her birthday the next day. I know how that is. I was supposed to be born on my dad’s birthday, but I stalled two days. It wasn’t our fault. After all, we didn’t know, we were just being born when we were supposed to. Well, all kidding aside, the day Reagan was born changed the lives of her parents, Ashley and Eric Parmely, forever. That was the day they became parents. They were no longer parents-to-be or a couple. They were parents and they had a family. It is the most amazing day in a person’s life. That was 8 years ago, and now Reagan is big sister to three siblings…Hattie, Bowen, and Maeve. Life is good!!

Reagan has grown up around farm animals, and for most of her life, that was all about the cuddling and chasing of the animals and their babies, but as she grew, she began to understand that sometimes, you are raising your family’s food, and that as such, the food must be killed so it can be eaten. I don’t think that is an easy lesson for anyone, adult or child. I have raised cows too, and I didn’t want to watch on butchering day, but you have to help, and there it is. Reagan understands this, and while she may not like that part, she knows that it puts food of the family table. I am very proud of Reagan’s maturity in these things.

Reagan and especially her sister, Hattie, has become excellent horsewomen. Their brother, Bowen is coming along too. When these kids were little, I found myself feeling amazed at these little kids standing on the ground beside these great horses, and they weren’t afraid at all. Now, these little kids can ride horses like the wind, and they are only getting better and better. When I first saw them on those horses, they looked so…little, and since I have not grown up around horses, I thought that it looked so dangerous, but these kids, and Reagan first felt right at home. Of course, they have been on these horses since they were just babies riding with their mom, who has also been riding since she was little. These day, with Reagan leading the next generation, the Parmely kids are spending lots of time riding their horses, and really enjoying the outdoors. Today is Reagan’s 8th birthday. Happy birthday Reagan!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My grand niece, Maeve Parmely is the youngest of the 4 children of my nephew, Eric Parmely and His wife, Ashley. She has two older sisters, Reagan and Hattie, and an older brother, Bowen. These kids are being raised on a farm, with lots of animals to take care of and play with. In fact, Maeve was hanging around all those farm animals the day before she was born. Maeve isn’t even the youngest of those who live on the farm, because it seems like new babies come around all the time. Like her siblings, I assume she has seen new life come into the world, and if she hasn’t yet, it won’t be long before she does. Before long too, she will be riding a bicycle around the property with her siblings, but I guess that one year old is still a little bit young for that…for now.

One thing Maeve isn’t to young (or too old) for is cuteness. This little girl is cuteness overload. She knows just what to do to make everyone around her smile. Maeve loves hugs and seeing her family smile. I have no doubt that she will be involved in all the antics of her older siblings in no time. The youngest usually gets involved in the best stuff, because her older siblings already know the ropes. These kids have great imaginations, and you just never know what they might come up with. Still, Maeve’s sweet little face will most likely keep her out of a great deal of trouble with her mom and dad. Seriously, who could resist that cute little face.

Maeve is to be the last of Eric and Ashley’s kids, although I think Ashley would willingly have an even dozen. She loves her babies, and now will have to settle for fur babies, I guess. Maeve has had a lot of life experiences in this first year of her life. She’s helped with the animals, of course, ridden on her mommy’s back while her mom stacked hay. She’s been skiing on the mountain. hiking on the trails, and helping her mom around the house. She’s her daddy’s little girl, and she keeps him wrapped around her finger, and she keeps her siblings busy getting her whatever she wants. How could life possibly get any better. Today is Maeve’s 1st birthday. Happy birthday Maeve!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My grand-niece, Reagan Parmely is the eldest child of my nephew, Eric Parmely and his wife, Ashley. She is a sweet little mommy’s helper, who loves being the big sister to her siblings, Hattie, Bowen, and Maeve. Reagan is very much her momma’s girl. She loves horses, goats, chickens, rabbits, dogs, and cats. And every other animal you might think of. She even likes snakes…which is where I have to draw the line. Of course, Reagan is smart about snakes. She makes sure they are ok to pick up, before she touches them.

A great big 1st grader this year, I find myself thinking that Reagan is growing up way too fast. She is starting to get her own sense of style. This year, she decided that she wanted a shorter hair style, and the resulting pixie cut is darling. Reagan wanted an easy going, out of the way style and she is very happy with the result. Of course, her mom wanted to cry a bit, but it will grow back…if Reagan ever wants it long again. Either way, she is a cutie and that’s all that matters.

Reagan, Hattie, and their mom love to go riding together, and I guess their daddy must be the babysitter for the younger kids, or maybe Grandma and Grandpa. Those rides on the horses give the three of them a little girl-time. That’s always nice for the older children to have some time with their parents, one-on-one so to speak. Reagan is growing into such a great girl. She is smart and helpful. She love to teach her younger siblings things and in general hang out with her best little friends. That learn about the farm animals, and about bringing baby animals into the world. And then how to care for them when they are hear. And all that is when she is not is school, which she loves too. I think Reagan is going to go far in her life. She has so much potential. Today is Reagan’s 7th birthday. Happy birthday Reagan!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My grand-niece, Hattie Parmely is the second child of my nephew, Eric Parmely and his wife, Ashley. They live on a farm outside of Casper, where Hattie and her siblings Reagan, Bowen, and Maeve are learning the ropes of taking care of farm animals. They have chickens, goats, cows, dogs, cats, and horses. Hattie and her siblings have no qualms about helping out. They get right in there and help clean out stalls, feed the animals, and of course, love on the new babies as they come along. They totally love their fur babies.

Hattie has mastered her bicycle now, and is becoming quite the equestrian. She looks so cute riding her little pony. She can’t get up by herself yet, but that will come as she gets taller. Hattie has grown up around these horses, so she has learned to make them comfortable with her. It’s strange to see this little girl standing in the midst of great big horses. Yet she is not afraid, and they aren’t either.

Hattie, along with big sister Reagan, are their parents big helpers. With a little brother and a new little sister, there is lots to do. Hattie is learning all the things that she can do to help her parents around the house, and she stubbornly sticks to things until she has mastered them. Hattie is in the unique position of the two girls, because she has a big sister to show her the ropes. Reagan loves her little sister. The two girls are very close, and very good friends. I find that siblings who live in the country tend to be good friends. Maybe it is the distance from other playmates, or maybe it is a mutual love that comes from learning to cooperate to get anything done. Whatever the case may be, these two girls are the best of friends. Of course, they both love their younger siblings too. Hattie is a very caring girl who often puts the needs of others ahead of herself. Kindness and compassion are traits that will carry her all her life. Today is Hattie’s 5th birthday. Happy birthday Hattie!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

I recently read a book about the orphan trains, which ran between 1854 and 1929. During that time, approximately 250,000 orphaned, abandoned, and homeless children ride the train throughout the United States and Canada, to be placed with families who were looking for a child, or just as often, a worker for their farm. The orphan train movement was necessary, because at the time, it was estimated that 30,000 abandoned children were living in the streets in New York City. I had heard of the orphan trains, mostly from the movie called “Orphan Train,” but much of what really happened with those children was very new to me, and quite shocking.

Today, while my husband, Bob Schulenberg and I were in the Black Hills, we rode the 1880 Train, as we almost always do when we are here. When they mentioned that the train had been used in the movie “Orphan Train,” a fact that I had heard many times before, the stories from the book I had read came back to mind. My mind instantly meshed to train, the book, and the movie into one event.

The children who traveled on the orphan trains were victims of circumstance, and they had no control over their lives at all. Each one hoped that their new family would be nice. The older ones didn’t have high hopes. The older boys pretty much knew that they would be farm hands. And most of them were right many were made to sleep in the barn, because they were thought to be thieves. If they were thieves, it was because they had to steal to survive. They did whatever it took to survive.

As Bob and I rode the train today, in the eye of my imagination, I could picture what it must have been like to be one of those orphans. The were sitting there watching that big steam engine take them to someplace they didn’t know, and probably didn’t want to go. They didn’t have high hopes for a great future, but then again, the past wasn’t that great either. They were forced to make the best of a bad situation, and the people who were in charge didn’t really care what happened to them. They were just doing their jobs. I have ridden the 1880 Train many times before, but today, it felt a little bit different, somehow. I knew that I wasn’t an orphan riding that train, but I certainly felt empathy for the children who were.

This past summer, my sister, Cheryl Masterson; my cousin, Pam Wendling; and I went to visit Pam’s dad, our Uncle Bill Spencer at the nursing home where he lives. Uncle Bill has dementia, probably Alzheimer’s disease, and so how the visits go, depends on the kind of day he is having. The day of our visit was a really good day. Uncle Bill may not have known who we all were, and even some details about our lives, but he had some funny stories to tell us…one of which was how his brother, our dad, Allen Spencer had never gotten married!! That one was new to my sister and me, who are the eldest of Dad’s five daughters with his wife, our mom, Collene Byer Spencer. I guess Uncle Bill’s mind went back to the pre-Collene era of Dad’s life.

Uncle Bill also told us about the days on the family farm. I think my sister and I always thought of it as a small little patch of land…maybe 5 acres or so, but Uncle Bill told us that the farm was actually 80 acres. The farm was big enough to grow enough vegetables to sell them exclusively to Stokely Foods Inc. Stokely foods is a large company and it was founded on August 18, 1943, later merged with Van Camp’s, and then sold the Stokely brand to Seneca Foods in 1985, and the Van Camp’s brand to ConAgra in 1995. I guess you could say that the Spencer farm got in on the ground floor of Stokely Foods, Inc. This was really interesting to us, because it was confirmed by Uncle Bill’s cousin, Les Schumacher. I suppose Cheryl and I should have assumed that the farm was bigger than we thought, because they grew hay, and it took days to get it all stacked, but when you didn’t grow up on a farm, I guess you don’t really have a good way to gauge such things. I think we should have had some inkling, however, because the pictures we have seen should have told the tale…to some degree at least.

As our visit with Uncle Bill came to a close, we found ourselves very sad about the speed with which the time had passed. We don’t get to see him very much, and he is such a precious person in our lives. He was really in rare form, laughing and smiling a lot. There were no awkward moments when no one knew what to say, and Uncle Bill carried much of the conversation, which was absolutely wonderful. Our only regret is that we can’t get up there to see him more often. Today is Uncle Bill’s 97th birthday. That’s amazing…97 and going strong. Happy 97th birthday Uncle Bill!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My grand niece, Reagan Parmely is the oldest of the three children of her parents, Ashley and Eric Parmely. Being the oldest, Reagan feels the need to be the mother’s helper, and so she is very motherly to her siblings. That’s not to say that the children never fight, although Bowen is to little to fight much. Nevertheless, Reagan and Hattie ire very good friends too. Reagan has a wonderful imagination, and she is able to figure out ways to entertain her little sister. Of course, on a farm, there are lots of games kids can play. Kids usually mimic the activities of their parents, and Reagan is no different. She and Hattie pretended to be milking the goats one day, using Hattie as the goat. Of course, I’m sure Hattie got her turn to be the milking maid too, because Reagan is pretty fair about things. Reagan loves to take her little sister for rides in her car too…yes, I said car. Reagan and Hattie have an electric car and they drive it around the property often. They are pretty careful, but they are always under the watchful eyes of their parents.

Reagan loves helping out on the farm too. Recently when her parents were moving the hay they bought into stacks, Reagan was right there, helping as much as she could, and hoping it was helpful even if she couldn’t do much. Reagan has been such a blessing to her parents, and her siblings too. Whenever I see her, I just love to hear her tell about hat is going on in her life. She tells stories about her day at school, and all that she is learning there. She is a smart little girl, and learns very quickly, but I think the thing I like the most is her wide eyed wonder about the world around her and her joy of learning. Reagan recently got a horse of her own, and she is proving just how much she is her mother’s daughter. She absolutely loves her horse. She rides as often as she can. She is getting quite good at it, and of course, her horse loves her too, so they make a good team.

Every birthday Reagan’s Oma, Jennifer Parmely bakes the family a cake with anything they wanton it. Reagan has decided to have dinosaurs on her cake, so it will have Dino sprinkles on it. I think it’s going to be a wonderful birthday. Today is Reagan’s 6th birthday. Happy birthday Reagan!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

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