Thursday, August 24, 2006

Green Thumb

Today was the perfect day to spend in the garden. It wasn’t too hot and it wasn’t too cold. If you haven’t seen the Bradrick garden then you’re missing out. The Kitchen garden and the greenhouse sit directly outside the back door. The greenhouse is filled with lovely smells of basil, thyme, and rosemary. The cherry tomatoes are almost ready to be picked as bunches of green novices’ crowd each branch making it hard for the plant to lift its leafy arm. The bees’ love the lovely purple flowers that decorate the low climbing thyme which make the greenhouse hum with the working song of these busy insects.

The kitchen garden is filled with all kinds of wonderful vegetables that make for a virtual salad bar before your very eyes. Red leaf lettuce and Romaine lettuce bunch together near rows and rows of juicy carrots. The beets and garlic and chives all clamor for more room as beautiful nasturtium blooms at the end of each row. Even sage and Echinacea perfume sweetly amongst the chives and various flowers. The far rows contain broccoli and the purple and green leaves of large heads of cabbage. It is hard not to get a recipe file flipping through your head as you pick each vegetable. As we weeded the garden I kept seeing steamed broccoli with cheese sauce, fresh sweet and sour coleslaw, and tossed Caesar salad! I don’t think it’s weeding that works up an appetite; it’s all the food you have to pass by on each aisle!

Tonight I think we will have a chicken Caesar salad with fresh baked rolls and raspberries and cream (thanks for the suggestion Cecily!). I would write more but I think I hear my stomach growling and those of my two hungry cowpokes. Goodnight and may you have a dinner fixed with loving hands and a loving family surrounding your table.
Whatsoever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord. Colossians 3:23

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Ahoy Mates!

Yes, you heard right. I start this blog with a hearty ahoy because of our recent experience of canoeing down the Wynoochee River. We enjoyed fishing on the river so much that we decided a nice canoe ride down the Wynoochee would be just the ticket for a time of relaxation after a long day of chores on the farm.

The Bradricks graciously loaned us the use of their canoes while they’re away and I’m afraid we took full advantage of their wonderful offer. After figuring out the logistics of such an adventure we decided that Captain Bryan and the kids would go on the canoe ride and I would drive back to the farm to make them a delicious dinner to greet their triumphant return. So with lots of rope in hand we proceeded to tie the canoe to the top of the van. Sounds simple enough. Of course, with the Bryan family ordinary tasks do take on gigantic proportions. So with rope and more rope and then some more rope (just for good measure) the canoe was finally secured for the next hurricane or a drive to the river, which ever came first. We all hopped into the van and we off to find the perfect place to unload our precious cargo.

After driving 5 miles up a road that seemed to be heading along the Wynoochee we finally found a spot that lead down to the river. With canoe and crew dropped off and a kiss and a wave the good canoe “Grace” set sail for a leisurely drift down the serenely cool water of this enchanting river. I barely made it to the van before I heard a short scream and squeals of laughter. No doubt their fun had already begun!

I drove back to the farm with the purpose of making a rib-sticking dinner for their return to home port, knowing that these fine old deck hands would be thirsty and hungry from their grand adventure. I prepared the casserole and the salad and I even had dessert ready for their return. As I puttered around the house I began to notice the time. Do you remember the old “Gilligan’s Island” television show? The theme song went something like this “…the crew set sail that day for a three hour tour, a three our tour. The weather started getting rough, the tiny ship was tossed. If not for the courage of the fearless crew the Minnow would be lost, the minnow would be lost…” Well, three hours had passed and the Minnow or I should say the “Grace” had not returned.

Now I’m thinking that five miles down a river should take a couple of hours at most including scenic stops along the way. Yet, my fearless crew hadn’t returned after three hours so that was about the time that I began to imagine all sorts of ridiculous things. I could see the men on the Titanic going down bravely with their ship. I saw dear Leanne standing on some island in the middle of the river awaiting rescue from some passing ship. Wait a minute, this was only a river and not the Atlantic Ocean and I was pretty sure there weren’t any icebergs in the river! Realizing that my imagination was allowing the enemy to bring worry and fear into my heart, I began to pray. Just then the phone rang and it was Bret (aka Mr. Bryan) saying, “Hi honey, didn’t want you to worry, we are fine, the trip is taking longer than we realized so it’s a good thing I brought the cell phone along. It’s also a good thing that I wrapped it in a Ziploc bag because we’ve already flipped over twice!” I was not relieved by that statement. “Where are you? Is everyone alright?” I asked in a not so confident tone. He replied in a much more confident tone, “Oh we are fine. I’m not sure where we are but I do know we are at a spill dam and we have to portage the canoe around the dam. Hit a log once and flipped over and then we got too close to some overhanging blackberry bushes and we leaned too far to the left and fell in again. But Matt saved Leanne’s sandals and the paddles. We should be home soon.” With relief I praised God and then asked, “But how did you know the Bradricks phone number? I didn’t think you had it with you?” “Oh, I didn’t have it but Matt found it written on the oars!” Praise God again!

I felt better until another hour went by and then I began loose confidence in the Lord again. Soon the phone rang and my dear husband is saying in a not so confident voice, “Hi, uh, I’m not sure where we are because we thought we would be home by now. Do you think we could be on a different river? Could you check and then call me back?” Well, needless to say, that was the one thing I never even considered. Suddenly, my imagination is running wild with visions of the Grace and her crew sailing straight into Grays Harbor and out to sea! I race to the internet to bring up some maps. Of course, I don’t even know the street that I dropped them off on and I’m endlessly pressing the west button on Map quest to see if I dropped them off on the expressway to the Pacific Ocean. Five minutes later I hear, “Hi mommy”, at the back door and I realize its Leanne and the rest of the crew from the Grace. After lots of hugs, laughter, stories, more laughter, and passing out of towels Leanne shows me a small log they found on the river that had been chewed by a beaver. “Matt rescued it twice for me!” she exclaimed. I was so proud of my son. My men not only went down with the ship twice, they raised her twice, and they saved my daughters sandals and her chewed up stick. Can’t ask for better memories than that! What heroes! By His grace we are saved – Halleluiah!

May all your seas be smooth,
Captain and Mrs. B and crew

Monday, August 21, 2006

Fishing For Fun

You know the saying, “The early bird catches the worm”? Well, this morning we decided to get up early and head to the Wynooche River to do some fishing. Of course, plans always seem great the night before but then in the morning when the alarm goes off you begin to wonder if this grand plan was really such a good idea. Yet, despite our initial reservation about leaving such warm and comfortable beds we grabbed our jackets and poles and headed for the river. This morning was foggy but not too cold and we were excited about the possibility of catching some fish for dinner.

By the time we walked over to the river a couple of fisherman were already there casting their lines into the swift flowing river. We rigged the lines and began fishing right away. Matt was using a lure, Bret had some bait, and Leanne and I shared a pole. Each cast brought anticipation that we were one step closer to a fresh fish fry at the farm. Soon Matt caught the first fish. He was from a large school of fish. Unfortunately, that would be the “Preschool” size so he had to release him. A short time later Matt caught another fish but this one was only about five inches long so it had to be released as well. We knew we had some chores waiting for us back at the farm so we couldn’t stay too long. As the time wore on I prayed for my son that the Lord would help him catch a fish. I knew how much it meant to him and I was hoping that he wouldn’t be disappointed. Fishing really has a way of allowing time for reflection and I can understand why fishermen love it so much. It’s very relaxing. For two hours we enjoyed the sounds of the rushing water and the reels as they spun with each cast.

Oh, were you wondering if we ever caught a fish? Well, yes, but not in the usual way. We did fish for two hours but after Matt’s two “returns” no one else got a nibble. As we packed up our gear and headed for the trail up to the road Matt noticed a small land locked area of water that had baby fish in it. As he looked closer his eyes caught a glimpse of a foot long trout. We have no idea how it got stuck in this little area of water so we released him into our net and then into the frying pan at home. I know it sounds like we cheated but didn’t Peter use a net to catch fish? Somehow we felt like Peter in the boat with Jesus on shore saying, “Cast your net on the other side.” We weren’t catching anything and yet, like Peter, Jesus directed my son to look in the pool of water to find his fish. Only Jesus can answer a mom’s prayer like that! Isn’t God good?

Friday, August 18, 2006

Counting Sheep

Bret (ie. Mr. Bryan) crawled out of bed at 6:30 am and my eyes awoke to filtered sunshine peeking thru the fog. Since I’m near-sided and wear contact lenses I have to grab my glasses to see my way around. I sleepily headed towards the office at the back of the house and stood adjusting my eyes to the early morning. You can see the beautiful grape arbor from the back window and the west field from here. Everything was quiet and as I stood enjoying the scene before my eyes what do you think should appear?

The last thing I expected to see was a neat little line of lambs marching across the garden towards the front yard! It took a second or two to register that this wasn’t a dream and then I was running upstairs calling to my two young cowpokes, Leanne & Matthew, to come quickly because the sheep were making an organized escape!

So with everyone grabbing shirts, boots, coats, and scrapping the sleep from their eyes we ran outside. Leanne was the first one out taking the dogs with her to make sure the sheep didn’t head towards the road. Matt soon followed as did Papa and then I came carrying the most important sheep catching tool of all…a fish net. Don’t ask me why but it looked big and Matt was going to use it when he went fishing and I thought, well, I don’t know what I thought. It was early and I wasn’t thinking too straight. What a site we must have made! But Praise God we herded these jail birds back to their pen without too much trouble. By the way the electric fence works great, Bret tested it by mistake. It sure woke my hubby up in a hurry!

I then saddled up sweet Haley and headed out to count the sheep and make sure we weren’t missing any. Praise the Lord for all His sheep were accounted for. We then rounded up the little one who needed some medicine for his sore. Matt handled the web fencing with expertise and Bret held the sheep while Leanne played nurse and applied the medicine. The sheep are so cute. I know I said that in the previous blog but it’s true. They may not be the smartest creatures on earth but they are cute!

Soon we were off counting cattle (just to be safe) and finishing up animal chores before heading in for a well needed cup of coffee and a piece of toast with jam and some fruit. After a few showers we were able to sit down and enjoy reading 1 Corinthians 7 and Proverbs 23 and 24. The Lord refreshed our spirits and gave us some sweet time in His word to strengthen us for the day ahead. We learned to apply our hearts to wisdom and to seek after righteousness. Just as He cares for His sheep so we are learning to care for the sheep of Bradrick Family Farm. It takes work but it is a joy to see all their sheep safe and sound. I know the Lord feels the same way about us too. May we all walk in the safety of the Lord and seek refuge in His perfect will.

Mrs. Bryan and fellow wranglers of Montesano

First Impressions
(Guest Blog Post By Mrs. Bryan)

We left Ferndale, Washington this morning anxious and excited to reach our destination…namely the Bradrick Farm. It’s a funny thing how you find yourself in a different driver’s seat and begin to understand what it feels like to anticipate watching over another man’s sheep (and cows). We have asked friends to watch our farm with all its odd assortment of critters and never thought what it might feel like for them when they come to watch our place. So with feelings of excitement and a bit of fear we drove south for our big adventure.

We arrived at the Bradrick Farm a little after 1:30 pm and immediately we were greeted with the excited barks of old Dutch the Dalmatian and two stick carrying pups, Arrow and her brother Badger. What a joy to have such a welcoming committee! After ten minutes of endless “throw and retrieve” and realizing that this game really has no end, we headed over to greet the rest of the animals. The cows looked us over with the “I wouldn’t touch you with a ten foot pole” kind of stare and kept their distance. They are in the far West pasture and have plenty of good grazing to make them healthy and happy. This was definitely the Contented Cow Club of Montesano.

Next we wandered over to the sheep and saw the cutest critters you can imagine. I’ve warned Phillip that when they returned we may have each of sheep named. There is just something about sheep that makes you think cuddly thoughts. Yet, I have to admit I did have a juicy lamb chop dance before my eyes too!

After petting the horses and checking out the amazing barn swing we saw a sight I will never forget. Arrow and Badger were taking turns swinging by their teeth on the rope hanging from the rafters! They looked so funny waiting for the rope to swing their way and then jumping up with all their might to snatch the rope in their mouth and then twirl around. We laughed and laughed to see two dogs getting into all the fun. Just as I turned around to walk away the rope swung away from the dogs and hit me in the back of my head. I twirled around to see two dogs innocently staring at me as if to say, “It wasn’t me, it wasn’t me”.

Upon finally entering the house and finding bread, cookies, sweets, and fruit to greet us we settled down to some classical music and a nice cup of coffee. The farm is beautiful and the only thing that would make it more enjoyable would be having the entire Bradrick Family with us as well. We look forward to tomorrow and our first day roping’ steer, branding sheep, and rounding up strays. O.K., maybe I’m getting carried away, but so far we really do feel like cowpokes on the range. Adios Amigos and many blessings from the Bradick Family Farms.

Mr. & Mrs. B and their cowhands
Bradrick Family Farms From an Outside View!

Having a farm with lots of animals is much like having children. They are a great responsibility to care for and cannot be left alone to fend for themselves. So when ever it becomes necessary for our whole family to pull up the tent pegs and leave for some time it also becomes necessary for us to find someone to watch our farm and care for the herds and flocks of hungry herbivores.

This year the big occasion that is taking us away from the farm for a few weeks is my older brother Peter's wedding. He is marrying a wonderful girl from North Carolina... which means the wedding is in North Carolina. So we had to scramble to find someone suited and willing to watch our farm during our absence. By God's grace, just the right family offered their aid. So for the next two weeks they will be stepping into our shoes and experiencing the joys, sweat, and sometimes tears that come in the farming process.

So during our absence the Bryan family will not only be watching our farm but will be giving you their personal account of what it is like to spend a week or two at Bradrick Family Farms.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

A Belated Introduction

An introduction to some of our farm's most playful and helpful friends is long over due. On our farm we have three dogs. First, I will introduce my personal favorite dog and furry friend Arrow. She is a fun-loving Border Collie . She is a great help (well most of the time) with the sheep. Though she is only about 35 pounds, the sheep quickly learn to respect her because of her compelling nips which she sometimes has to give to get them to move.

And here is her brother named Badger. He does his best keeping up with his crazy sister and keeping guests supplied with a ball or two for them to throw.

Last, but not least, is our spotted friend Dutch. This purebred Dalmatian looks more like a Lab with spots. He is a very vital part of our farm, barking at by passers and lazing in the shade.

Dogs at play...