Friendship

AFHA AmeriCorps, Who We Are, What We Do, Who We Serve.

My friends and I  in AmeriCorps serve my state in so many ways I thought I would let you explore some of the interesting things about, “Who We Are, What We Do, and Who We Serve in the Appalachian Forest Heritage Area in collaboration with AmeriCorps.

Barbour County Courthouse, Philippi, West Virginia circa 1903

Barbour County Courthouse, Philippi, West Virginia circa 1903

The Appalachian Forest Heritage Area is a regional initiative to promote, conserve and educate the public about our Appalachian heritage sites and forests within West Virginia and western Maryland. We work on a variety of community projects relating to heritage development,conservation,historic preservation and economic revitalization. AFHA AmeriCorps is funded in part by Volunteer West Virginia and the Corporation for National and Community Service.

Each year our regional AFHA AmeriCorps service members have a meeting with some of the community members we serve. AFHA,held its Annual Stakeholders Meeting in May in the small town of Philippi, in Barbour County, West Virginia. Philippi is a town of about 2900 people with a rich history that centers around the Civil War and its role as the location of the first land battle of the war.

panorama of Downtown Philippi West Virginia... Wikipedia

Panorama of downtown Philippi, West Virginia… Wikipedia

During these meetings we share information about the projects we are working on within the communities we serve. We give community leaders information about what we really achieve while spending our year with them as service members. It was stated at the annual meeting, by Alison Thornton, Assistant to the Director of AFHA, that “a total of 920 community volunteers who serve in 16 counties have put in 10,076 Appalachian Forest Heritage Area service hours so far this year, with 44,683 beneficiaries of our work. Thrity eight service members have improved or treated 643.60 acres of public land with in our counties and AmeriCorps has over all  39,775.75 hours of service this year.” The impact of those 10,076 hours have in West Virginia is huge. Making the time AHFA members serve worth more than $150,000.00 in  man-hours to our state economy for the first half of the fiscal year.

Many of the positions that AFHA AmeriCorps fill are tough physical jobs in very isolated locations making their positions hard to fill. My fellow members work with the Forest Service and other conservation agencies repairing trails, clearing invasive species and fighting forest fires. Some members spend time working with the Arts, in tourism, and at historic locations doing preservation and giving tours. Some serve in rural communities working on economic revitalization.Some spend only a few hours a month in their office, instead working at construction and demolition sites, where  buildings are being redeveloped and updated. Yet, we all serve with this motto in mind “Getting Things Done.”

So when you get us all together it is a wonderful educational opportunity not only for the public but for us as members also. We see and hear about other members projects and the impact they are making for the better. We hear from speakers, who like us, are trying to make a difference in their area of expertise.We are also encouraged to explore the communities where we serve to get a deeper understanding of the area’s history and needs.

AFHA AmeriCorps members listing to Barbour County Circuit Clerk explaining about community history and the courthouse.

AFHA AmeriCorps members listing to Barbour County Circuit Clerk explaining about community history and the courthouse.

This by far is the most important part of our meetings from a member standpoint. We talk with local leaders about the successes and failures of our program. We see first hand what our service is doing in these communities. It is a time to see that our efforts are real and tangible.So with cooperation from the city of Philippi we were able to tour the town, see historical locations and see some of the physical evidence of our work. It gives all of us a chance to understand the area where we serve better and leaves each of us with a feeling of pride as we share in each other’s positive impact.

AmeriCorps listen to Dustin from Woodlands Development Group about redevelopment work done on the Sunnyside building with the help of AmeriCorps

AmeriCorps listen to Dustin Smith from Woodlands Development Group about redevelopment work done on the Sunshine building with the help of AmeriCorps.

Alex Thomas discusses the challanges of historic Preservation and redevelopment of the Sunnyside building with another AmeriCorps member

Alex Thomas discusses the challenges of historic preservation and redevelopment of the Sunshine building with another AmeriCorps member.

Alex Thomas serves as a AFHA AmeriCorps project manager for Woodlands Development Group  ( a local non-profit housing developer) on this main street building in Philippi. The building was almost a total loss for redevelopment in a town of this size but with many community groups working together and funding coming from grants the future looks brighter for this building. When finished the building will have retail space and two modern upstairs apartments for people who work in the downtown area. It is this collaboration between local officials, AmeriCorps service members,non-profits, the State and Federal Government that we begin to see what is possible. Every AmeriCorps wants to be part of the solution for our communities problems.

Store Front of Sunshine building before repairs begin

Store Front of Sunshine building before repairs begin photo courtesy of Alex Thomas

Hands on crew members inside the Sunshine building doing restoration work to the punched tin ceiling

Hands on crew members inside the Sunshine building doing restoration work to the punched tin ceiling photo courtesy of Alex Thomas

In the end AFHA and AmeriCorps is all about the people and communities we serve. In Philippi we were lucky to have the opportunity to see one of the largest covered bridges still in use in the United States. Seeing the bridges long historic arches puts all of our efforts into perspective about what is important about this region and its history. We serve as AFHA AmeriCorps to remind the world that we have a proud and long history that deserves to be protected, preserved, developed and cherished. As AmeriCorps members we make a difference in little communities just like this one all over West Virginia, so that the future of this region will be brighter, our communities will be stronger and our history will never be lost.

Barbour County, West Virginia, Philippi Covered Bridge

Barbour County, West Virginia, Philippi Covered Bridge 2016

It is my pleasure to serve the people as an AFHA AmeriCorps in rural West Virginia!! For more information about AmeriCorps and where they serve follow this link, National Service AmeriCorps, or visit http://www.appalachianforest.us/americorps.htm, and think about joining us.

AFHAlogo2013

Americorp logo

Categories: AmeriCorps, Appalachian Mountains, Barbour County, Civil War, community service, Friendship, historic locations, Nonprofit, rural life, Travel, West Virginia, Woodlands Development Group | Tags: , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Snowy Farm Mornings With The Mares

The one thing that I still miss about the farm is the silent snowy mornings. Moving to town has its advantages in snowy weather… streets get cleared a lot faster and the grocery is a lot closer but something is just not the same, let me explain.

My horses on in the top pasture on a snowy morning.

My horses in the top pasture on a snowy morning.

When you own livestock you never get a snow day. So the mornings for me always started early even in the cold. I would get up early, like all farm families do, so I could get the feeding done before work and school would take the day.

Dressed in my coveralls, hat, and gloves, I head out of the back door of the farm-house. I cross the back porch and hear the first crunch of the snow on a step. Walking my way to the barn across the yard I look for them but can not see them in the top pasture. Even though the barn doors are always open the herd of four quarter horse were never in the barn until feeding time.

Even if they heard me tracking slowly through the snow they never moved. They stand at the farthest point away from the barn on the top of the hill. I holler at the top of my lungs”Here Girls!” and get no response. Just the quite… no cars or trucks, no snow plows (sometimes for days), no other person for miles was outside on a 12 degree morning. I reluctantly fill the feed buckets with two heaping scoops of sweet-smelling grain. I Complain to myself about walking up the bank into the pasture to looking for them.

You do it to make sure that everything is alright if they do not come in. Horses trapped in fences, cases of colic and babies born in the open all happen when humans are not looking. Today was not going to be one of those days. I open the gate with the frozen chain and hear it bang as I swing it through the snow and across the frozen ground and into the pasture. The hill blocks my view. No knickers or neigh for me to hear from the group, just my snow boots crunching up the slope to the orchard trees.

Annabell in snow at the farm in Jane Lew

Annabell in snow at the farm in Jane Lew,West Virginia.

Past the orchard trees, I finally see the huddled mares in the upper corner of the field. Snow only ankle-deep and they still do not want to move. “Come on Girls!” I yell again, this is ridiculous I think as the wind blows the quiet snow in my eyes.  I give in and walk to top of the hill and discover I am out of breath and breathing hard. The steam I blow matches the clouds that surrounds them. They breath in and out almost in time and the moisture from the four 800 pound bodies rises into the air. They see me and two heads turn as I finally come close enough to actually touch the snow-covered beasts.

Their winter coats are such good insulation against the cold that snow flakes dance on top of the longest hairs of each animal. Icicles form on the whiskers of each damp muzzle and each wet eye lash. The mares do seem to mind the cold and seem more at home in the winter snow.

Daisy with skippy in snow

Daisy with Skippy in the snow on the Jane Lew farm.

For the small herd, standing and sleeping is more comfortable than slipping down the hill to the barn. I can’t blame them, they have stood together most of the night and have melted some of the snow on the ground . I sneak up close to the oldest mare and slide my gloved hand across her back and talk softly and she murmurs back to me. I get close and feel the warmth of her 100 degree body against me. Warmth and friendship, could life get better for her?

The others push closer to me, nose to nose, they breathe me in and I, them. The smell of the mare’s breath and coats is warm, round and deep. It is the smell of the summer dirt, fresh-cut hay and dark warm stalls.They smell of old barns and fresh shavings,of carrots and cookies, of sunshine and creek water. I kiss each nostril in turn.

Hidden in my coat pocket is a lead rope that I slide around the old mare’s neck. I clip it under her chin… more imagination than rope. I lead her and she willingly follows me down. The younger horses gallop back and forth across the field, bounding, bouncing, jumping and twisting.

Horses Playing in the snow

Horses Playing in the snow

Play time for the young and feed time for the old. I walk her through the gate to the barn, each following her lead without a fight. Her head lowers into the bucket and she blows out the air in her lungs as if to sigh. The rattle of those buckets is the only sound for miles. The sun rises to the shifting sounds in my barn. I toss hay into each stall as the last of the gain gets lipped out of old buckets.

My chore is almost done. The water is thawed and waiting when they finish their meal. The gate is locked up tight. I am alone again in my walk back across the large yard. My cheeks are cold and frosty but my heart is warm. I think to myself…. “Love You Girls” as I hear the squeaky snow under my boot.

 

Categories: Country life, Farm work, Friendship, Horses, Jane Lew, Memories, snow, Winter | Tags: , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Lives of Service, The Gulf War and Americorps

Thomas Powers In Germany in Recovery Tank

Thomas Powers In Germany in Recovery Tank

While today ( Jan 17th) is the 25th anniversary of the Bombing of Baghdad and the official start of what was the Gulf War. My family’s service to America comes to mind. My husband served in the U.S. Army and Army Reserves for ten years from the age of 17 to 27 serving in the Gulf War until its end in March 1991. His role during the war was as a Military Policeman dealing mostly with POW.The years before the war Tom spent a tour in Baumholder, Germany where he worked as a recovery specialist with the 363rd mechanized division. He was a volunteer enlisted person all of these yearsI also recently have become a volunteer for our country although not with any military function. I have been officially joined AmeriCorps. A domestic federal volunteer program that serves local at risk communities. Much like the military you sign up for contracted amount of time and work for lower than average wages to serve communities that face economic struggles. Some of the problems that AmeriCorps works toward fixing include natural disaster recovery with FEMA, working to help homeless and aging veterans, educational issues in low-income areas, medical and dental issues in rural areas, and economic revitalization of depressed communities. Just like the rest of my family,a father who was a marine and a brother who is a retiring colonel from the U.S. Army and an MP husband, it was my turn to serve the people who I love and the communities I want to see prosper.

I became drawn to AmeriCorps for the same reasons my husband joined the military. If you asked either of us if we would help out a friend or neighbor who needed a hand, making their lives better with the work we are doing, we would jump to help. The other benefits are also a nice incentive.  The army has the E.I. education bill and Veterans benefits and AmeriCorps offers similar benefits. I am actually using my time with AmeriCorps to pay off the final portion of my college loans. They also offer money for college tuition and medical insurance. They both also offer travel with living expenses to new places ( domestic travel only with AmeriCorps). Mostly they aim to help the people of this country in some way and that is something that repays you in things more valuable than money.

I came to this place in my life because the events of the last year. It became clear after helping my husband’s family with the care of his dying mother that I finally felt the draw to serve. I had never given so much of my time to another person in my life other than my own kids. It was eye-opening to see how the healthcare world works and how without a family member or close friend things get missed and care can be inconsistent at best. So I knew after her death, I wanted to work in a field that made a difference for people. So I starting looking into the different ways I could make a difference and that lead to AmeriCorps. Essentially their work here in my state, fit right into what it is that I am trying to do with this blog. To uplift and rise above the problems that we face as community and state.

I will be working with the economic redevelopment of a nearby rural community, under a program called Elkins Main Street. I am so excited to share my skills with a very small non-profit that wants to try to build up an old downtown area. I have no idea where this will lead me but I am sure to learn allot and meet some interesting new people. I am also again surprised that this blog is one of the reasons I received a service offer. That my writing and creating this site had a huge influence on the people in charge. I will be working with them on a new website on WordPress. I will be promoting the work that they do on Facebook and trying to help share the activities we all are working on with my photography.

This new adventure will change my blogging some, I will be writing more on the weekends and evenings. So my posts will almost always be at night. It will also add to the fun that I have, as I work on fairs,festivals, work with historic buildings in Elkins West Virginia. It is a new adventure for me I aim to continue this blog to share what I am learning.

I find it a little ironic that it was this weekend that I joined AmeriCorps, as this is the same week that my husband 25 years ago faced the fact that a ground war was only days away. I guess everything happens in due time and it is just my time to serve. I think my husband is happy with my choice and he understands what it is like to serve. I am so excited about this opportunity and look forward to serving the people of West Virginia. Hopefully you all will be along with me as I see new things and help new people. Thanks to AmeriCorps I get to start a new direction in my life and make a little money along the way.

New River Gorge Bridge with fall folage 2000 by jolynn powers

New River Gorge Bridge with fall foliage 2000 by Jolynn Powers.

Categories: About me, AmeriCorps, Army, community service, Country life, Fairs and Festivals, Friendship, historic locations, West Virginia | Tags: , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Emotionally Drained and Ready for Change

The Month of November has really hit my family hard. It has brought us through a whirl wind of emotions and challenges and changes. The days have blown by with funeral activities and children’s parties. With our time spent comforting grieving family and friends,followed by happy school children in costumes, and a sick body fighting a cold. I spent my 47 birthday watching the episode of Barnwood builders that I helped to create holding my breath. Trying not to cry at the wrinkles and lines on my face and the heavy body that I still have not dealt with after my foot surgery. I have felt the deepest most satisfying happiness and the most painful sadness, all in a matter of days…and I am tired.

Christopher and Paige Halloween 2015

Christopher and Paige Halloween 2015

Most of you already know that over  a year ago I quit my outside job and went home to take care of Grandma Powers around July of last year. I then followed that with a foot surgery to remove a bone that would not heal after 13 months in a cast. We then moved over Christmas and started a remodel project in the end of April and spent days filming with the Barnwood builders. Then we also got the news that Grandma’s cancer was back and things looked bleak for the future. We finished our remodel and the filming of our show in Aug of this year and watched as grandma’s health began to fail, knowing that we would only have a few months with her. Then as Nov came and went we lost Grandma… I was supposed to celebrate Halloween ( my favorite holiday) With little Christopher at his school with a party and Saturday night take him trick or treating…I just could not do it. With a cold and broken heart I just wanted the comfort of my home and time with Tom. We  handed out candy and enjoyed the beautiful night air on the porch. My faithful son Cody took his little brother out for Halloween tricks and treats and made memories of their own. Then my birthday and the show airing. I was so thankful to have family and friends celebrate with me. Yet… I worried, so nervous, that somehow I would look like a fool on national TV. I would some how not be “Me”. In the end it was good. It was more “Me” then I care to admit, I look my age and I love these mountains and it shows right there on national TV. So I laughed along with the boys at the end of the night. I really might be just a Hillbilly at heart.

Barn with crew, shed and outside wall removed

Barn with crew, shed and outside wall removed

I know I have had more adventures in the last two years then some have in a life time. I have felt more in those two years then I ever thought was possible. I have laughed,cried, felt peace and the hand of God working in my life. I have hugged my children harder and been blessed more than my imagination would let me believe.I have sacrificed my time and money to be a caregiver and a mother. I have worked for no one, but for everyone, and not received a penny and it was all worth it in the end.

Grandma Wanda Powers Mowery, Paige and Christopher Powers, Dec 12 2014

Grandma Wanda Powers Mowery, Paige and Christopher Powers, Dec 12 2014

Some people think riches come in the form of a paycheck or money stored, but it doesn’t. Riches are experiences… and memories…… and dreams shared. They are the only thing that is left in the end. Money can not be taken to the other side… only love can. I have spent the last few years of my life making memories that I will never forget and shared love that I can never get back. I have forgotten about the “Me” and focused on the “We” and have reaped what I have sown in heaping amounts. These years have not hardened, but softened me, softened my heart towards God, my Family and My Friends and even my body. It has been a wonderful time of learning and growing as a person, a woman and mother. 

I am tired now, I will rest a few days, maybe a month, the days will slowly be filled again with work and school and children. I will let life lead me for now, to a new career, to new schooling, or who knows where, but I am ready for a change. That will start me on a new adventure with new memories and more love.

people who love us dont see our disablities just our ablity to love

people who love us don’t see our disabilities just our ability to love

Categories: About me, Barnwood Builders, Death, family memories, Friendship, Halloween, Holidays, writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 13 Comments

The Concentric Circles of Life and Death

Well it should come as no surprise that things here on the mountain are changing again. The spiritual head of our family is making the slow transition from the world of the here and now to the land of forever. It is a shaking off of the old skin and the trying on of the new freedom of the spirit that we are watching. It is emotionally stretching everyone in the family to the limit. This transition into the concentric circles of life and death, where there is no beginning or end.twirl-bluegrey-web The cancer has moved to the bones and a hip fracture has made her bedridden. So with other complications to her overall health the Dr’s know that she will not recover. The body worn out and now only a cocoon for the vibrant, fiery, giving, helpful, spirit that is still very much alive. It is a slow and often painful process to see the soul finally be released from the body. Yet, as amazing to watching as a caterpillar transforming into a butterfly. This experience has only one drawback, this butterfly will one day fly off with out me……

There is no time line of events. It is day by day, hour by hour,breath by breath. It is ups and downs and moments of clarity and others of total delusion. The pain comes, then the drugs, then the weakening of the vale between the worlds. She talks with those she loves who have departed, she sees them and knows they are close. The chorus of angels then fades and the drugs wear off, she is with us, clear, focused and even agitated with us. She is happy to see the men of faith that come to pray with her. They remind her that it is only for a little while and she will be healed. Healed and free from pain…. free from being trapped in a broken body…….. Ahhhh the final release.

She is my best friend, she is my spiritual rock, and the cancer is taking her away from me. I find some comfort in the words of the great writers, thinkers and spiritual believers.For generations we have survived this awkward step in understanding and some have left words for us to fallow.This is just one of many quotes that I have found some comfort in:

“The Prophet” by   Kahlil Gibran

from the section on friendship,

“And let your best be for your friend.”

“If he must know the ebb of your tide,

let him know its flood also.”

“For what is your friend that you should

seek him with hours to kill?

“Seek him always with hours to live”

“For it is his to fill your need, but not

your emptiness.”

“And in the sweetness of friendship let

there be laughter,and sharing of pleasures.”

“For in the dew of little things the heart

finds its morning and is refreshed.”

 

Our relationship has always been more than “married into the family” we have always been friends. So as I finish this post I am waiting on word that she is released from the hospital to go home. To spend her final days in the place she feels most comfortable and safe. I will sit with her when she settles in and read to her while the hours pass. So I can share the last few days or months that we have together, before she flies away.

Butterfly at Holy River State Park, WV

Butterfly at Holy River State Park, WV

Categories: Cancer, Death, Family, family health, Friendship, grandma, poem | Tags: , , , , , , | 7 Comments

My 1ooth post mile stone!

It is hard to believe that I have actually posted a 100 times since starting this adventure. Blogging is one of the best things I have tried to do as an adult and I am really enjoying it. I have learned so much over the last couple of years and can only say thank you to everyone who has taken the time to reply with a comment or a “like” to my posts. I am thankful that all of you just take the time to stop in a read once in a while. It is amazing how many wonderful people I have met through this adventure. I am lucky to call people from all over the world my friends, from several  down under in Australians to a hard-working Canadian, a few transplanted Americans who are in Bosnia and Chile and people from all over the USA who share my interests. It is a wide wonderful world and I am soooo glad I write with all of you!.

Christopher and I out mushroom hunting in my cast... life really slowed down with it

Christopher and I out mushroom hunting in my cast… life really slowed down with it

This year has seen much less travel, hunting and fishing then I had hoped to write about here at Mountain Mama. Things here have changed as things always do. I have had a broken bone in my foot for 12 months and when every thing is done I will have been in a cast 14 months. Who in the world would have thought that a bone around the size of a dime would cause this much pain and hassle. Then we were informed that my mother in law has throat cancer and we have gone through treatment and she is now living with my family. The cancer alone has changed our whole family and all of our lives. It is a constant struggle to maintain her health at this point and I spend much of my day waiting on her needs and wants. It is worth every struggle to see her regain her health and independence over the next few months. I have gone from a career woman and mom, to a full-time care giver, house wife and homestead gardener over these last 100 posts.

I had high hopes when I started blogging that in some way I would find a way to make an income from my posts and be one of those bloggers who travels the world for free with their blog. I was thinking that blogging would some day be my work but instead it is my love. I would not want to get payed and sponsored into some kind of box. I love that this is a limitless space where I am free to share things with like-minded friends. I love to share my failures and gains with all of you. I love that like a stone thrown into a clam water the ripples that my words create flow away in never-ending rings…. that some where in cyberspace I have found all of you and you have sent your ring of words back to me.

Reflection of Stone Bridge on lake at Black Water Falls State Park. Wv

Reflection of Stone Bridge on lake at Black Water Falls State Park. WV

 

So as I look back over the last 100 times that I have sent messages out in to the Cyber Universe I can see so much improvement in my blog and my posts. It has been a great therapy for me and my creative soul and I just hope to keep sharing, learning.

Faerie mushtrooms

Faerie mushrooms

~THANK YOU FROM WILD WONDERFUL WEST VIRGINIA~

Categories: blogging, Cancer, Family, friends, Friendship, gardening, Healing, writing | Tags: , , , , , | 9 Comments

Jane Lew,West Virginia, my little town

   recently I have been thinking about how to share more about what I love about my rural life. I realised to do that I should really start at the beginning. The beginning of my experience here in a teeny town in central,West VirginiaWest_Virginia_State_map

Please do not confuse with the state of Virginia.                                                              

      Ok, yes  we were at one time one state. The civil war and topography spilt the state and I reside in the historically confederate and more rugged portion that became West Virginia. Looking at this simple map my location is off of interstate 79 near the city of Weston. The actual name of our town is Jane Lew. A Town of 547 people if you go by the 2011 census records. My family doesn’t actually count in this number as we do not live in city limits. Several thousand live within the zip code and that puts us up to say 3800  people who call Jane Lew home.  The town does have several amenities that we all love and share but we have NO stop lights only a couple of stop sign intersections and a nice off ramp from the interstate. 

main street Jane Lew, Wv

main street Jane Lew, W.V.

Other end of main street taken from the park

Other end of main street taken from the park

Hackers creek road entering into the town of Jane Lew from interstate

Hackers creek road entering into the town of Jane Lew from interstate

The actual town has a nice city park and a very small downtown area with a couple of shops for car repairs and two funeral homes, a gas station.  Several of our historical buildings used for the senior center, VFW,water and gas companies. On the out skirts of town we support three or four gas exploration companies, Two log home builders, a truck stop, two diesel repair garages, a dollar store, a hotel and 3 restaurants.  The town does offer two doctors offices and soon a pharmacy. We are really booming here.

  Off the interstate about five miles is where my husband has spent 45 or his 49 years of life. He grew up in the same house that we raise our oldest son. We farmed, worked and hunted the same property that his father bought and cared from the 1970’s. But recently we made a change and we are now remodeling and restoring a 1920 general store into our forever home. We still live about 5 miles from the interstate but in a more developed community.

the powers farm in 2001 Jane Lew wv

the powers farm in 2001 Jane Lew,W.V.

Photo of the house we are remodeling after years of neglect.

Tom removing old back porch

Tom removing old back porch

   Moving to a small town from a big city was a huge change for me. (My home town was around 20,000 people a true suburb of Denver Co). One of the very first things that was new to me was that everyone is friendly. People wave as you drive past their homes from the front porch or out mowing the grass. Old men wave as they drive down a country road. Everyone  just waves for know real reason. One of my first conversations with my husband was ….. “who was that?”… a woman waved at us while we drove past, she was collecting mail from the families road side mail box. My husbands replied “I have know idea”. Confused I said ” Then why is she waving at us?” Tom laughed and responded….”thats just what you do here.”

  That example explains my whole experience, Confused.  It me took a while to learn to love it. If you see a car passing your home, some one you have never met is waving at you. It is also expected that you will wave back. If you are in an area that you don’t know, I suggest that you do wave and wave to every person you see on that porch. It is bad manors not to and you do not want anyone to think you are there for any reason other than friendly ones… Remember you are in the second leading gun ownership state in the US. Friendly is fine, strangers on the other hand take some getting used to.

   In summer you may wave 5 or 6 times in 4 miles. You wave to the farmer out cutting hay, the neighbor walking her dog,  the mail man who passed you in his personal SUV (No U.S. mail trucks  here) as you head to town. It is a strange and wonderful habit and it makes me smile when I think about how many strangers I have now waved to in passing.

Mr Hicks and Mr Randolph putting up hay

Mr Hicks and Mr Randolph putting up hay

  It is also impossible in a small town like mine to teach children to “NOT TALK TO STRANGERS”. I am not sure if it is a southern thing or just a small town thing, but its expected that you speak to everyone you see. From a simple nod of the head to an involved conversations with people you have never met before. As the new girl in town I used to dread going places with my husband… no one knew me and everyone wanted my story. It was hard to repeat the same information over and over.  No, I am not from around here… No, I don’t have a church yet,…. No, I have never lived in a small town… No, I am not from California… no… no… acccck. Please stop asking me Questions.

   Time moved on and I became just one of the many faces in “town” so it got easier. Then people assume that you know everyone they know or that you need to hear the details of the problem they are having that day. I have heard stories about cheating husbands, injured farmers and animals, children that have school problems all from total strangers. I  love and embrace that West Virginians love to ask questions, butt into conversations if they think they can help, and share a sweet hello… like “good morning sunshine” while shopping at the local   Dairy Mart. I never once remember anyone calling me sunshine at home! I also don’t ever remember someone over-hearing that my debit card didn’t work offer to pay for my gas. I just pumped 7 gallons at the local 7-11 and darn it, it was payday, I just knew that meant money in the bank… was I wrong!

   Danny, only met me once, but offered to cover the 20 dollars to make sure me and the babby got home ok. Embarrassed and totally over whelmed at his kindness as he handed the woman behind the counter a twenty. I drove home in tears and promised to repay him the next day when I got the mess at the bank figure out. He wasn’t worried about it at all….. He said “He had been their, and new what it was like to be short on cash.” and continued “when ever was fine to pay him back.” I went the next day to his repair shop and gave him back the twenty and thanked him until the tears were in my eye again. He hugged me and said that he had lived his whole life in this small town and knew my husband most of his life and knew that he was good for it.  This was a lesson for me and one that I build on still today. People here are good people and are willing to help when they can and I now understand that it is my job to pass it along to others when I can. “Pay it Forward” has been working here a long time before Ophra made it trendy.

    The stereo type that there is nothing happening in a small town maybe true. Three places are open after 8pm here in Jane Lew.  The 24 hour truck stop is one and the other two are a gas station and a Dairy Mart. We have no video store or Red Box , no all night laundry, or even a 24 hour Wal-Mart. But, Jane Lew does have little league baseball, churches, the largest craft fair in the northern part of the state, a best rated elementary school, a national rodeo every summer and lots and lots of friendly families. It is the families, rich, poor and in-between that make this my home. It’s the Dr’s wife out volunteering at the elementary school, it’s the Paster cooking hot dogs to raise money for vacation bible school. It is Danny the tow truck driver paying for my gas, the sweet sound of  children on the play ground, and the fire fighters community Pig roast that make it home. It is the way that some one I have never met will stand at the ice cream shop and tell me stories about how their Mamaw and Papaw lived near here and had a farm, that makes the roots grow deep in this place. A small sweet southern place to call home.

Christopher riding in puddles at Jane Lew park

Christopher riding in puddles at Jane Lew park

Pair of boots forgotten after rodeo and left on a stump

Pair of boots forgotten after rodeo and left on a stump

Categories: family fun, Farming, Friendship, Home, Jane Lew, West Virginia | Tags: , , , , , | 11 Comments

The Blogger Who Can’t Spell

   For those of you who are reading this blog for the first time, I will explaine a little more about myself.  I have been recently contacted again about my blogs spelling and grammitcal errors… let me put all the rummors and helpful statments to rest… I CAN’T SPELL…This is my disablity.

people who love us dont see our disablities just our ablity to love

people who love us don’t see our disabilities just our ability to love

   Ok,  now that we understand each other, let me also explain why,I have a form of Dyslexia called Disgraphia. It causes problems with short-term memory and graphic recall. I can read fine and really enjoy it as a hobbie. But the same skills that it takes to read are unrelated to spelling. Hard to beleive, I know, but when I read I only identify only about half the word and by its shape and size and context  my brain is able to understand its meaning and moves on. I never really see each individual letter while reading. Then, add in the fact that my brain recalls letters and numbers in the wrong order and presents them to me in a jumble, I have a terrible time remembering what words look like. So I have spent my life trying to hide, correct, learn, memorize… millions of words that no matter what I try to do end up coming out of my damaged recall system… in a mess.

    The fact that I even attempt to write on my Face Book wall or write on a blog is maybe a little on the crazy side. I constantly miss spell simple third grade words that anyone in the world knows are the basic building blocks for communication. But I continue to gain friends and readers of my blog. I at some point in my life I made PEACE with myself and my situation…. I am not a technician of language, I am not a professional writer (thank GOD) I am a Mom who has, in some strange twist of fate,  found that she LOVES to write. Yea,  kind of like  having no legs and learning that you love to ski.

   You find a way… I have found a voice and a place to, lets say improve, my skills. Word Press and its freedom and tools have allowed me to have a space in the universe where I can share my world and stories.It is freeing to write without a person leaning over me ( a thousand teachers) saying with red pen in hand, “you misspelled this or that” or  “that is not the correct usage for that verb”. I do try to correct what I can and manage my  grammar, but let’s get real… I am not good at it! I don’t get paid to reread my own words forty or fifty times. So Please stop informing me that I have spelling and grammar errors, I already know. 16 years of education didn’t fix it, I am positive that rude statements will not either.

  I have lovely friends and family that are grammar Nazi’s. They chose to not read my blog and I am fine with that. it is grating on their nerves to read and try to not correct every one of my mistakes. I love them for their honesty and wish that I had their skills. I also have die-hard fans who read and enjoy my stories and photos without much comment about my spelling. I love their support and understanding and am glad they “GET IT”.

   Maybe to your surprise I am educated, I have a B.A. degree and graduated from college with honors… my lack of spelling skills has never stopped me from pursuing my dreams and attempting to share what I love. It also does not lower my intelligence. Dyslexia has actually given to me many wonderful things, one of  the most important is tolerance. I know what discrimination feels like. I understand being segregated from others because you are different and I have learned to work around my disability and at times over come it.

   Word Press is the perfect place for me. I can write when and where I want. I can write about any topic and share what is real and important to me. I can write with my own misspelled voice. Word Press is freedom from over bearing institutions,where my words fly out of my finger tips. I love my blog and that I can find a creative freedom here that was lost in the 4 years of college and the twelve-years of public education. It is my freedom from the grammar Nazi’s in the world.    Finally, I hope that this has enlightened my readers.That maybe it is something deeper than laziness and lack of attention to detail that causes a person to misspell. Thank you for your time reading this,  it is my goal to improve my skills. I just hope that in 5 years I am a better writer then I am now.

JoLynn Powers

Categories: About me, Dislexia, Friendship, history, Uncategorized, writing | Tags: , , , | 16 Comments

Horse Farm Labor is Our Second Job, Finding the help you Need.

     Tom and I  travel to so many farms during the year that we hear some of the same complaints at every stop. Frist there are not enough well-trained Farriers and second that finding farm workers, caretakers and horse handlers is almost impossible. Thiers reasons for both of these problems and some of it has to do with economics. Frist, Low pay for the hard work  sends many into town and second, farmers are not  good at  letting people know that they need or want help. 

Tom leading horse to pasture

Tom leading horse to pasture

Tom putting shoes on Oat

Tom putting shoes on Oat

 If you have a problem on a horse farm the best two things you can do is let your farm community know what kind of  help you are looking for. Farm stores have bulletin boards, clubs have news letters, and friends have kids these are all great ways to get the word out the you need a helping hand around the farm.  Pay well and often, everyone loves payday and even the kid who cleans out the barn needs paid before he leaves for the day.  

 Over the years of showing, raising and training horse I have worked for several farms in my area. Yes, I shoveled horse poop for a living. Not glamorous work but it beat the rat race any day. I received fair pay, always about double what minimum wage was at the time.  Farm work is hard, dirty and at times stressful. To modern kids Micky D’s is a lot easier and pays better than most farm jobs. Keep this in mind when you are looking to put up hay in 90 degree weather with a 5 am in starting time and that kid at Micky D’s is making 9 dollars and hour.If you want them you will have to pay them.

      This also is true for your Farrier, if you own a horse part of owning that animal is occasional foot care. Most farriers charge a standard rate for trims/ shoe/or resets. Pay your bill promptly and you will have a good relationship with him, wait to long or try to haggle the price and you will be looking for a new one very quickly. If you are not able to afford to pay everyone cash remember that some people are open to barter for services. I have  mucked stalls for riding lessons and Tom has trimmed horses  for hay. Just be clear about what you need and what you have to offer. We have always been happen when we worked out a deal.

 I also do sitting for several horse farms. We all need a vacation now and then. Sometimes families  just go to the fair and other times families need to head out for an emergency, it is this short periods of time that I help out on the farm.

Squaw and dancer

Squaw and dancer

I find that there is a real need for farm families to leave  a few head of horses, a couple of dogs and cat alone for a few days. The horses really need people who understand them if you are going watch them and the time to care for them is pretty labor intensive. I find the best way to find some one who can help, is asking your other horse friends, farriers and farm stores. I get asked all the time because my husbands farrier business. We both are willing  and able to help with animal care. The rate that we get  to come to your farm and care for your horses is not  much less then you would pay to a stable them while you are away. So with each additional horse we charge an additional fee. I find this the fairest way to charge for my time and gas. This way I can keep my rate the same from farm to farm. This makes everyone pay the same and no one gets up set over changes in pricing. The biggest difference is that the horses are at home in their own stalls with their feed and water and no hauling needed. It’s to the advantage of my clients that they do not have to stress the animal while they are away. 

  No matter what type of labor you need for  your farm, remember to just get the word out that you need a farrier, a farm sitter, a person to help string fence. They are their and if you pay them fairly they will be willing to come back and work for you over and over. It is worth building these kinds of relationships because over time you never know who it will be to help out. I never thought that Tom being a farrier would over flow to farm sitting and that I would be working with some many wonderful families and their animals.

Farm that I sit for while the owners are out of town and one of their walking horses

Farm that I sit for while the owners are out-of-town and one of their walking horses

 I hope that my friends Ron and Marylyn have had a great trip and that they feel confident that their horses were in good care while they were away. It is always fun to spend time on their farm and we love doing it.

Categories: Farm work, Farming, Farrier work., Friendship, horse health, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Farm Familes Pull Together in Hard Times

  One reason I find rural life so wonderful is how  farm families support each other. You hear about it everyday in my community. It is not a passing trend or a story of past generations. It is  here and now,  alive and thriving in West Virginia.

Ed WaltZ riding Jasper down main street

Ed Waltz riding Jasper down main street

   Currently a family friend is in the hospital and sadly not recovering from surgery the way we all hoped. Ed is a fighter,strong and stubborn, so as I write this I am sure that he is fighting to recover totally from this long process.Yet,  his wife travels back and forth from Ruby Memorial hospital in Morgantown to their home in Weston daily. The drive is around a 2 hour round trip and is long and expensive to do every day. She is also now the sole worker on their small farm. But, they have a hidden support system,  those in the back ground who keep the farm running. 

   Today, Ed and Dottie’s farm animals need fed and watered, horses need put out to pasture, grass needs mowing. The farm has over a dozen animals that need daily care and someone has to do it while Ed is unable to. This is a night mare that every animal owner fears…If some thing happens to me ,who will care for my horse, dog, cattle or goats?  Most of us have at least have some family that can help out, but what happens when they can’t or don’t really understand the care of large animals like horses? This is when what I call “Farm Family” comes in.

    “Farm Family” are the neighbors, the trail ridding friends, the Vet. techs, the Farrier and the boys from the next farm that step in. They all have been their, they understand that a farm is not just a pasture full of cows grazing in a field.  At times it is an over whelming burden, because the animals need tended, huge gardens need worked, hay need mowing, tractors need fixed, fence needs mended, and at times children who need supervision.

   As a member of this “Farm Family” group I have both the given and received from this unsaid promise. The promise that” I was not alone, no matter what!” Their was always someone who answered the phone at 1 am and would listen to my story of a sick or dying animal. That other “Farm Family” member was their to give advice, share medication, tools or just give me a shoulder to cry on, when I could not call my mother. It is an understanding that I have never found anywhere else.

    So when I found out that my friend was sick and the extreme nature of the situation Tom and I asked if their was anything that we could do? What did hey need? The answer was not money, food or laundry it was a simple request… “Could you all come and put  a round bail out for the horses? The breaks are bad on the tractor and I don’t  use it. The boy next door is feeding the dogs,ducks and horses every morning, but he is not able to get hay out into the pasture”..Our responce was a united “Oh course”. This gesture may mean nothing to someone on the outside of farming. But, for anyone who has had 6 head of horses and no way to get hay to them, they will understand that we just gave Dottie a huge gift.

Ed and Dottie

Ed and Dottie

Tom and Ed have been friends for almost 8 years now and Tom has been Ed’s Farrier for about as long. We have helped them get horses and trailers, we have followed their grandchildren through school and shared a nip of moonshine with on the front porch. We are more to them then some hired contractor who shows up to work and the horses and they are more than a costumer base to us… they are ‘Farm Family’.

I  am  richer, because “when the  Cow Pie hits the fan” I know that I can count on having another “Farm Family” member there to help clean up the mess. Here in my town we still care about our neighbors. We try hard to share what we have, and do what we can to relive the suffering of people and animals all around us.We all realise that one day it will be our turn  having trouble getting things done on the farm. But, we will be able count on others to help us get through the hard times. No money is ever exchanged, nothing but a heart-felt “thank you” is ever given. There is no price on kindness, friendship, or understanding. You reap what you sow …. and “Farm Families” know that if you sow the very best of yourself then when it is your darkest hour, you will reap more kindness then you can ever image. 

With this post I add my best wishes to Ed Waltz’s recovery and support to Dottie Waltz… We are here for you any time  and we will see you when you are feeling better, Gods speed.

               Yours always, Jolynn

Categories: Friendship, health, West Virginia | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments

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