Friday, December 25, 2009
Wednesday, December 9, 2009
At the age of 6 years, Beth was sent to a small boarding school in Tanzania for grades First through Fifth. All through her school years in Africa, from First to Twelfth grade, the schedule rotated with 3 months at school, and 1 month at home with parents. For grades 6-12, Beth attended the Rift Valley Academy, a well-known boarding school in Kenya that is still in operation today. The academy overlooks The Great Rift Valley, a continuous geographic trench, that runs from Northern Syria in Southwestern Asia to central Mozambique in East Africa. From her home in Tanzania, Beth would take a boat, traveling over Lake Victoria for one day and one night, arriving at the town of Kisumu. After a day's rest, the children boarded a train that would transport them overnight to a station near their school.
Beth spoke of the bonding and close ties that were formed with the other missionary children at these boarding schools, but she also acknowledged the difficulties and the loss as a result of their inevitable parting... "The problem with missionary life is that you're coming and going all the time...there are furloughs, people are leaving, sometimes they leave for good--you just leave them for the rest of your life!" "And then, when it's time for you to leave after you've finished school at age 18, you're going and you're never coming back."
After graduation in 1967, Beth returned to the United States, moving in with her sisters (who had previously graduated and left RVA) in Baltimore, Maryland. She received a degree from Gordon College in Massachusetts, and began work as a first grade teacher. Upon marriage, she quit teaching and devoted her time and efforts to her marriage and raising her three children. Later, she lived in Pennsylvania, and South America (as a missionary for Wycliffe Bible Translators for eight years), then moving to Tucson, Arizona in 1992, where she lived until moving to Page, Nebraska in March of 2007.
Since this interview, Beth has moved from Page, Nebraska to Tucson, Arizona. She now has an Etsy site for selling her clay creations. Please click on this link to view her current creations. www.etsy.com/shop/hookedonclay
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
Oh, and BTW, check out my story that's been recently e-published in the on-line magazine, 'Nebraska Rural Living'. Under 'Also Featured This Month', you'll find my literary contribution entitled, 'Flowers From Mom'. You'll enjoy the rest of the magazine also!
Now, I need to get crackin' on making those hand made Christmas gifts...
Thursday, November 12, 2009
Marvin purchased a secondhand combine, which had been manufactured in the 1940's, from a farmer in Ewing, Nebraska. I'll never forget the day I saw it come lumbering up the drive...going full bore at around 3 miles an hour...he claimed he had put the pedal to the metal and it had topped out at a breezy 13 MPH on the highway from Ewing to the farm. I was positive that it wouldn't make it half way through the next harvest. I was wrong.
This particular morning, I looked out the kitchen window to see him driving up the lane in his light blue, Chevy 'LUV' pick-up, the bed loaded with plastic trash cans and lids, stacked within each other. (Husband and I always enjoyed shouting, "Don't take your LUV to town!") Now, Marvin is a spontaneous sort of fellow...he'll come up with an idea and be ready to jump right on it, so I just settled back and thought I'd see what he was up to this day. I think, amongst others, one of his slogans should be, 'Where there's a will, there's a way...' and this morning, despite his storage and equipment limitations, Marvin was going to fan some alfalfa seed---130 acres of it--give or take an acre or two.
That fall, he had let his alfalfa crop go to seed, wind rowed it, and then combined the seed. He purchased an old fanning mill---from an even older friend---and was determined to separate the 'seed from the chaff'. Various weed seeds needed to be removed; sand drop seed, foxtail, sunflower, and a bit of brome grass. This fanning mill had originated from between the 1920's to the 1930's, and Marvin had to craft and replace a few pieces so the mill would operate. This would not be a difficult task, as he has not only been a farmer in his life, but also an excellent carpenter.
He set up shop in the 'garage', which had been built in the early 1900's by his father as the original home. It was "the first house on the place". The 'place' had been homesteaded during the Kincaid Act when Marvin's forebears had arrived from Germany in search of 'greener pastures'. Marvin's older half-sister, Thelma, who died in 2004 at the age of 100, had lived in this house with Ernest her father, and her mother Addie, Ernest's first wife. Addie later died after childbirth, and Ernest then married Barbara, Marvin's mother. After building the present house on the property, this building was converted into a two-car garage for the family's Ford Model T car.
Now, I don't pretend to understand how machinery works, and especially this particular piece...my expertise was in taking the photos and visiting with Marvin at the same time... However, it appeared to me that he would dump the alfalfa 'horns' (and other weed seed) in the top of the mill, a belt would turn a wheel which in turn, moved or shook a tray, which I believe had a screen on the bottom, that somehow separated the alfalfa seed from the chaff. Please excuse my use of technical jargon.
Friday, November 6, 2009
The cows are milked twice a day---at four o'clock in the morning and four o' clock in the afternoon. Neil has one full time and one part time employee who, along with himself, take turns with the milking. As there are 14 milkings a week, Neil is responsible for five of them. The cows are pastured and need to be rounded up and brought in each time, which takes about 15-30 minutes. "Cows are a creature of habit and they do like a routine". The milking parlor can accommodate eight cows at one time, four on each side. The equipment set-up takes from 30 to 40 minutes, and milking the entire herd takes a little over 3 hours. Neil states, "It takes ten man hours a day to run the operation." The raw milk is picked up every 2-3 days, and hauled to either South Dakota, Iowa, or Minnesota for processing and then, distribution. When Neil and Ruth's children were younger, they were 'forced' to help with the milking. Neil joked, "That's probably why none of them are talking of coming back home..."
The 'bad' is "Mastitis"---a bacterial infection. "It can be treated, but it is hard to get rid of". "Feed is the #1 cost, in addition to the on-going expenses of labor, equipment, upkeep, and replacing animals". And, "if a cow won't breed back, they have to be sold for slaughter".
The 'ugly' is, "No days off". "Milking has to be done whether it's a sunny day, a blizzard, or a holiday". Even worse is when a good production cow is down and can't get up. The day I was visiting, a Holstein had given birth the day before and had become weakened and unable to get up. Neil and his crew were trying to get the cow on it's feet, and would be trying for another few days. Hopefully, the cow would not have to be euthanized.
Wednesday, November 4, 2009
Friday, October 30, 2009
Thursday, October 22, 2009
As a two year old, Cheryl's father, a veterinarian, sat her upon her first pony (also a two year old), and was told that when her tears ceased, she would be allowed to dismount... from that time on, horses have been central to her life. Her grandfather raised horses in the 1920's and 30's, and her father was an ardent calf roper, team roper, and always loved to barrel race. Cheryl considers herself a "third-generation cowboy/rancher". She grew up competing in rodeos and was very successful in barrel racing, and with her father also being involved in the barrel racing competitions, she was exposed to many fine pedigreed horses that she feels privileged to have ridden.
After graduating from college, Cheryl immersed herself in the work world; she has worked in journalism (having written articles for equine publications), sales with the Xerox corporation and Johnson & Johnson, was a stockbroker for seven years (at one point being one of the only two women in Omaha, Nebraska who sold stocks), a small business owner, and for the past four years, has been working in the pharmacy department at Avera St. Anthony's Hospital in O'Neill, Nebraska. But her first dream has always been to breed and train the American Quarter Horse--a dream that she knows God has instilled in her heart. Over the years, she has made great sacrifices to achieve this dream.
Eighteen years ago, Cheryl, who lives on her ranch in Atkinson, Nebraska along with her two cattle dogs, 'Pete' and 'Jubie', started out with two good brood mares, using outside Stallions for breeding purposes. She has bred, raised, and trained many horses over the years, and currently owns ten 'great mares', four baby colts, and the 'love of her life'---her Stallion 'Yardstick', or 'Stick' for short (meaning he is the one by which she measures the quality of all other Stallions.) Cheryl explains, "a great mare not only has the parentage to do what I want, but they have to ride and have the physical ability and the mind to do what I want". Cheryl breeds horses for barrel riding, roping, and reining.
Since she doesn't start training a horse until it is three years of age, ("a two year old has the attention span of a gnat..."), she isn't able to immediately discern if they are of the quality she is aiming for, so essentially, the horse "just hangs out here" until it reaches a point when Cheryl can make that judgment. One realizes the time, effort and love it takes to bring this goal to fruition---and in the meantime, she's falling in love with the horse which in turn, makes it extremely difficult to let it go.
But, let it go she must, and that is the where the difficulty of 'generating hype' comes in--the goal is to get the horses out to the 'right' people--those with money or influence. Ideally, that would mean a website (it's in the planning stage), and reaching the people who are going to do something with the horses. Usually this is accomplished by word of mouth---that it becomes known that her horses are of stellar pedigrees. Cheryl has admired the traits of the Driftwood horses; an amazing horse in the 1930's that had a lot of speed, athletic ability, and an instinct for cattle. She chose this pedigree long before it became popular--she just thought they were nice horses. Now, they have become "hot property". She acknowledges that she couldn't have foreseen this, and feels that this good fortune for her, is surely from God. She has a pedigree that people want, "now it's just a matter of getting it out there". Her desire is to raise a "quick athlete" that can be used for team roping, calf roping, and barrel racing. "This bloodline (Driftwood) excels at these traits".
Sunday, October 18, 2009
Saturday, October 17, 2009
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
Thursday, October 8, 2009
Twenty-five years ago, when Sue first began cleaning homes for hire, a few of her clients enquired as to whether she would also do their ironing. She added this service to her cleaning jobs, and her customer base expanded. Then, realizing she would rather "clean houses less and iron more", she soon dropped the housecleaning and continued with the ironing, eventually adding a laundry service. These jobs fit in perfectly with being a stay at home mom with three young children.
In the meantime, she became interested in the creative art of replacing old lampshades with new fabric and decorative bead and fringe trims. Her mother had done this for years, and when Sue first tried her hand at it, she "loved it", discovering she had quite a talent for this venture. Again, here was another ingenious way to earn extra income and still be able to care for her home and children. Sue says, "You do what you can do without a (college) degree...", and she definitely has the 'can-do' attitude.
Three years ago, Sue purchased a charming little house at the west end of town on Highway 20 as a base for her business pursuits. As time has passed, she has realized that she would prefer to place more emphasis on her lamp shade creations and less on the ironing--(I guess you could say that she is 'pressing on' to bigger and better things...) The house is a perfect setting for showcasing her exquisite lamps; original woodwork fills the richly colored rooms where the lamps are displayed in eye-pleasing vignettes.
Ideally, to begin the process of creating a new lampshade, there would still be the original wire shade frame for the lamp, although Sue can order a wire frame and come up with a lamp base--whatever the customer may prefer. She finds lamps at auctions and sales, and on occasion, has come across some real treasures at garage sales. And if need be, this talented lady can also do a simple re-wire. Sue has a stash of fabric available, or she can order fabric, or a person can supply their own. The same goes for the fringe trims and beads---she can order through certain companies, although she says the fringe is the hardest to find, and only a few companies will dye it a specific color. 'Candy glass', or 'sugar paper' shades are popular and unique in their texture and appearance...they're "kinda spendy", so creating this particular fabric finish is a technique Sue would like to learn how to do herself.
The process of making a shade is quite labor intensive and takes several hours. First, Sue wraps the wire frame with twill tape and allows it to dry, then paints the tape (if needed) to match the fabric color. She makes a pattern with foil, cuts out the fabric and lays it on the shade, and then glues it to the taped wire. Next, trims are added to cover seams, and the final striking touch that we all oooh and ahhh over... that gorgeous moody fringe and glistening, colorful beads that absolutely glow and sparkle when the lamp is lit. She tops it off with an attractive finial, and her creation is ready to light up a special corner in any room.
So, the industrious, inventive, and clever Sue Chohon has got it covered--from the shirt on your back to the shade on your lamp. Stop in when you are in town and see what she can do to 'light up your life'.