Life On The Farm
Shadow Wings Farm

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Life On The Farm

A Clone

by Darlene on 04/29/15

The only reason I would ever want to clone myself would not be because I think I'm so wonderful and the world needs more of me :).  I would contemplate cloning myself only to have an extra pair of hands to help with all we've had going on around here.  As I ponder a clone of me, my first thought is how wonderful the conversations would be!  I wouldn't have to try to succinctly put into words some of the deep thoughts that rumble around in my head.  I wouldn't have to bite my tongue and worry that I would be misunderstood because I would totally understand myself!  I wouldn't have to finish my sentences because my clone would intuitively know what I was going to say.  I wouldn't have to worry about stuffing my reactions because my clone would totally understand.

Nah.  Bad idea.  Very bad idea. :)

To say that the past few months have been overwhelming, is putting it mildly.  I know I'm not alone because so many that I talk to have somehow found they purchased the same ticket on the same boat.  Life seems to go faster than one can keep up with and the 'to do list' gets longer and longer and longer.  Tis the season however, with gardens going in, bees have come alive and the weather has finally warmed up enough so that working outside is a pleasure.

I've been touched by the people who have contacted me on occasion, asking when I was going to blog again.  It started out quite a while ago, where I suddenly found myself feeling very quiet, not able to write anything that was worth publishing and not able to put myself in that vulnerable place (at least it feels vulnerable to me) where I share from the heart the things I experience...the thoughts I have, the little things that have meaning to me.  At first I looked at the quiet as a nice break from having to write.  Over time, I began to ponder why I wasn't able to blog and as that time wore on I began to feel as if God had settled this quietness over me for reasons He felt were needed.  Sometimes when we're too busy talking, we can't hear.  Sometimes when He speaks to our hearts, His voice is very soft so it's critical that we're quiet enough to be able to listen.

I finally gave in and quit feeling guilty that I hadn't been writing.  I accepted that His hand was in it and scooted over from the driver's seat into the passenger's side.  I can't say that I had any epiphanies once I moved over but I can say that I became more aware of a work He was doing (and had been wanting to do) deeper in my heart.  I had no idea where we were going and I had no understanding as to why it was necessary.  I began to learn how to take my eyes off "the road" and lift them up towards Him.

I don't know how this blog post got going in this direction.  I started it, wanting to share about how crazy busy it's been around here.  I wanted to share about how even when I wanted to work on the site again and blog some more, I was unable to download the program to my computer which prohibited me from being able to do anything on the site.  I wanted to share about so many things and here I find myself re-routed, talking about me and Him.

I guess I can share about those moments when I've felt in my heart, "I can't do this myself anymore", that have been answered by Him, "of course you can't, but *I* can".  I can tell you how I stood on the edge of that cliff and in response to Him, took my foot and stepped off into what our minds would think was oblivion, only to find myself caught, and carried, through that particular day.

I could share about the millions of impossibilities that would want to cause distress to fill my heart and how He would somehow lift my chin so that my eyes would look heaven-ward as I would hear in my heart, "keep your eyes on Me".  I could share about being broadsided with good things and bad...about being taken completely by surprise as He opened doors I never dreamed were there.  I could share about how each tear drop I shed had names, like fear, hopelessness, dread, unknown, etc...and how His answer was always the same...

Peace.  Holy, powerful, consuming peace.

This past year has been an incredibly life changing year.  I entered the empty nest syndrome which is a book in itself and went from being responsible for taking care of so many, to becoming incredibly dependent on Him.

Now that I've got the site problem fixed and now that I'm entering into my busiest time of year (spring and summer), it just might be His time for me to take a few moments from time to time, and share the steps I take with Him.  I will say that it kind of feels good to write this blog. :)

I won't mention how I hope it makes sense even though I totally changed direction mid through.


by Darlene on 01/24/14

It's been so long since I've written a blog post that when I came online to write one, I couldn't remember how to pull the appropriate programming up.

Life has been such a whirlwind for a long time now.  Couple that with the fact that there are times when I feel quiet and do not want to put the things that are in my heart and mind out for public review.  It's very vulnerable, at least the way I communicate in the written word, because right or wrong I share things on this blog and in my writings that give a glimpse into how I perceive something or how I feel about something...and there are just times when I need to close the shop down and be quiet as I journey through the days that God has destined for me.


Life on a farm has a way of consuming all your thoughts, time and energy.  It continues to be a work in progress, building this, fixing that, installing the rest.  It seems to take so long to actually see the fruits of the labor...those inbetween times can feel like pure drudgery.  I'm starting to feel that excitment, looking foward again to all those things that we were burned out on the past Fall.  Gardens, bees and all the outside work that needs to be done.  The farm turns into a maternity ward as the cows, goats and sheep begin to deliver their babies. 

I've learned that the 'down time' during the winter months is critically important.  It took me a long time to learn that pushing to get this done and that done will eventually burn you out.  I've had to learn hard and rest well.  That's God's will for our lives because He is a God of balance. 

For the past couple of years I've been investing alot of time and heart into making handcrated soaps and body products.  Over time it's become a passion because like everything else on the farm that I love, I believe that not only is it healthier for us, it also honors Him...using His creation and the good things He's blessed us with, to care for ourselves in a healthier way.

I can't help but see His hand in all of this.  For a long period of time, I worked tirelessly on the farm, learning things I had no desire to learn but had to out of up so many things that had been important to me in years gone by.  You can't walk around a farm in heels and a dress.  It just doesn't work.

As I began to delve into the handcrafted soaps and lotions I knew, because of the journey that He's taken me on, that this was a blessing from Him.  He so often asks us to give up things that are so hard for us to let go.  The truth is, it's because He desires to give us something better.  As silly as it sounds, because it's "just soaps and body care products", it's so much more than that for me.  He knows why I feel that way and He knows how vulnerable my heart feels with gratitude for this blessing He's brought into my life.

With that said, He's been my Inspiration, my Mentor, my Creativity Consultant.  I have often gone to Him, feeling like I was up against a brick wall trying to figure out how to translate the vision that was in my mind into a real and tangible product so I prayed...reminding Him that He's the Author of creativity and artistic interpretation.  He's answered time and time again and I have squealed with glee as He's inspired me with 'this or that'.

The important point here is that I have learned He's not only concerned about the obvious big and important things that we know He's already concerned with.  He very much desires and yearns to be a part of those little things in our lives...the details that are not important to anyone but me.  A new type of intimacy in my relationship with the Father has grown as I ponder in His presence, "what do You think about this, or that...what should I do?".  He always answers because He's always there and it touches my heart that His heart is touched because He's grown to be important in all these little, insignificant, unimportant details of my life.

I don't know how this particular blog ended up going in this direction. :)  I do know that as I wrote, I said to Him a few times, "I don't know what to write".

I'll let it stand 'as it' and publish it, hoping that it makes a little sense. :)...knowing that it's ok to ramble on about how much I love Him for so many reasons...even if it sounds silly in the typewritten word.

In a land far, far away.

by Darlene on 08/23/12

My youngest son dropped a bombshell on me about 6 months ago.  Now, there's alot of bombshells that our children can drop and as creative as I can be for thinking up new things he definitely caught me by surprise.

"Mom, I think I'm going to go to Taiwan to teach English for a year!".

My heart stopped and it was one of those rare times when I was speechless and no matter how hard I tried not to, tears flowed uncontrollably from my eyes.  I know that wasn't the response he was wanting but there are just some things I can't control and things of the heart are one of them.

Over the next few months he began to make a concerted effort to spend more time with his family.  It was easy to pull a Scarlett O'Hara and "think about it tomorrow" and I began to drop everything on the farm and with a single minded focus turn all my attention to him.

There wasn't a moment when I didn't see God's hand in our relationship.  We had some very long, heartfelt talks where misunderstandings and failures in the past were brought to the table, opened up, discussed and resolved.  It was a time of 'burying things 'dead' that had been buried 'alived'...if that makes sense.

As the days and weeks and months began to roll all too quickly by, I found myself falling in love over and over again with who he has grown to become.  He was always a gifted child academically, but to have the honor of 'entering into his world' and seeing things through his eyes was amazing.  Each of our children are unique, different people and we see those unique qualities as they are growing.  It can be surprising though when they finally are grown and are tweaking all those individual areas that comprise who they are and finally setttling into who He destined them to be.

The panic that assaulted my heart when he first shared his desire to go overseas began to settle and a peace moved in as I learned on a deeper level, who he really is.  He's cautious and wise and spends an inordinate amount of time researching and talking with other people who have gone this path before.  He may not be able to jump off a cliff while spinning on a dime like I can, but he obviously can still jump off that cliff after careful consideration and I admire that quality in him.

As the time began to near for his departure I found myself having to make a conscious effort to stuff the inevitable parting, struggling yet striving to stay in that exact moment in time.  I could see he was going way out of his way to make memories with all of us, putting any of his desires or inclinations aside in an attempt to meet the needs we have for him as a part of his family.

A week or so before he was due to leave a conviction began to lay heavy on my heart.  It was 'time'...time for the focus to shift off of his family and to brightly shine on him and him alone.  So that's what I did.  It was bittersweet to let go.  Actually, it was downright painful and I'm sitting here sobbing as I write this particular blog but it was time and the right thing to do.

This blog is just a thumbnail sketch of all that happened and all that I hold close to my heart but the reason I'm writing all of this is because...

This morning I woke up really early...about 5:30am.  I had planned on sleeping in this morning so I was surprised when I woke up and was wide awake that early in the morning.  I got up, made a pot of coffee and sat down at the computer when all of a sudden I got a message on Skype from him that said, "Helloooooooooooooo!".

We've been talking frequently on Skype which has been such a blessing.  He's been faithful to keep me up to date on his adventures so far and I've found my heart growing with happiness that he's able to experience all he will over there.

And then...

He asked me if I had seen the recent picture he had put up of him on Facebook.  I told him that I had not (I don't frequent Facebook often) so he sent me the url and as it opened, there he stood with 3 of his newly found friends that had made the same choice as he had to travel to Taiwan to teach English.  What got me, and what I think I'll never, ever forget was the smile he had on his face in this picture.

He radiated with happiness...I could sense it even through the electronic medium of this computer.  It was a smile that was rooted deep inside his heart that bloomed with a breathtaking array as it travelled from deep within to the surface.

I was stunned.  My own heart began to fill quickly with gratitude.  Gratitude for all the memories I have this past year with him...gratitude that I was able to spend the time with him that I did.  Gratitude that I was the one who escorted him to the door of this new journey he is on and an even deeper gratitude to see him so happy.

In the days, weeks and months preceeding this event, every time I would begin to have a meltdown as I contemplated his departure, our Father would somehow turn my eyes towards Him as the emotions would pour from my heart.  His response to me was always the same.  He always, always, always would fill my heart to overflowing, His peace. 

I have come to terms with the fact that I have to let go as the children grow up and make their own way but I have to be honest and state for the record that I really don't "let go".  What I do is take each of them and place them in His arms as I acknowledge the fact that my traditional role as a mom has changed.  I can no longer protect or control outside influences like I could years ago.  I can however, turn them over to the One who created them.  Who has had a plan and destiny for their life long before He ever created the heavens and earth...Who knew that one day they would be born and Who loved them even then.

You want to talk about peace...that gives me the greatest peace of all.  I miss my son more than words can express but I know in my heart that His eye continues an ever watchful eye over him.

Styrofoam Platters and Saran Wrap

by Darlene on 06/21/12

Tomorrow I have to go to the butcher shop to pick up the steer we had raised up for the freezer.  I don't think I'll ever forget the day when I had to take him down there though...

From the moment we got "Big Mac", he was slated for the freezer.  I've never raised a cow before for this purpose but I started on that journey keeping an emotional distance, knowing that he was meant to feed our family.  What I didn't realize was that there is no way you can spend 2 years with an animal and not have them somehow impact your life.  There are memories, regardless of whether I want them or not...things like watching him dance all the way down the pasture (if a cow can dance, he surely did) when it was feeding time.  He looked so dorky...he was massive and it was funny to see him somehow being light on his feet as his heart soared with joy over his nighly favorite treats.

There are memories of him with the dogs, especially Yaylar.  I have a couple of pictures of the two of was such an arresting moment, I couldn't resist capturing it on the camera.  There he laid, resting in the afternoon, chewing his cud while Yaylar laid cuddled up with them.  They would periodically touch noses and it was obvious to see that they enjoyed each others company and had a special bond.

During the winter when we'd put the large 5'x6' rolls of hay in his pasture she would always jump up on top of the roll and sit there, scanning the horizon while he munched on the hay beneath her.  It was funny to watch her crawl up those rolls...she'd slip and slide until she finally got her paws firmly planted on top of the roll and he wouldn't bat an eye as he ate the hay.

When the day finally came to take him in, I couldn't escape a profound sadness that overcame me.  I kept telling myself over and over, "he was raised to feed your family...he is not a pet".  While I intellectually understood that, my heart just couldn't seem to align up with that fact.

As I drove down to the town south of me where he would be processed for our freezer I found myself breaking into tears.  This part of farming is hard.

An indignation rose up in my heart as I pictured white plastic styrofoam trays, surrounded by saran wrap with stickers on it.  What a lie.

I hear people say all the time, "I could never do what you do.  I could never raise an animal to ultimately feed my family".

Well, let me let you in on a little secret.  You'll never know the deep'll never experience the depth of really meaning "Thank You Lord for this food"'ll never understand the genuine gratitude for the sacrifice an animal gave to keep your family healthy...until you raise one yourself.

For me, the "Thank You Lord's" were important to say, they were the right thing to do, a tradition perhaps, before each meal we ate.  I was stunned the first time I said, "Thank You Lord" for a meal we had raised ourselves.  I really meant what I said...I really felt that gratitude in my heart and I experienced what Grace before a meal was really meant to be.

These truths may be cloaked on styrofoam trays under saran wrap but it doesn't negate the fact that there are those of us that look at that and know something more than the average consumer.  It doesn't matter if that cow or pig or lamb or chicken came from a feed lot where the bottom line is profit.  Each of those animals still had the potential to be a "Big Mac"...lovingly raised on a farm where they are valued and appreciated for who and what they really are.

It's been 3 weeks since I took him in and this blog has laid on my heart the whole time.  I guess I needed to talk about this in the hopes that it will remind people to look past the plastic wraps and remember what it's really all about...regardless of whether they raise their own foods or not.

Tomorrow when I serve the beef we raised ourselves I'll be remembering, respecting and appreciating all that went into that provision.

Darlene puts the key in the door...

by Darlene on 06/05/12

...and opens the door to the 'blog room'.  She reaches over to the right and turns the light switch on noticing that everything is the same as when she last left.  The laptop computer remains closed, a case of diet coke sits on the floor next to her desk.  Numerous papers lay in a pile and it is very, very quiet....

Geez, it's been a long time since I've written a blog.  Things got so incredibly busy and I got quiet.  There are times when I just don't feel like talking for one reason or others and while that's rare it does happen and I went for a couple of months not feeling like I had anything I wanted to say.

For several months now I've been wanting to get back to the farm site and do some work.  I've really missed working on it, but the days have seemed to fly.  The mornings start out with a bang and I find myself going full steam until dark and by that time I'm too tired to think straight.  For a while now I've said night after night, "tomorrow morning I'm going to start writing again", and 'tomorrow morning' has turned into weeks.  I've found myself composing blogs in my mind as I go through my days and I guess it's time because here I am.

It's 9:30pm right now and I finally made it back in!  It took me a few minutes to figure out how to write a new entry...I had forgotten how to operate this program lol. I'm excited and am looking forward to 'redecorating' the site, updating various pages and adding some new ones.  We've made alot of progress on the farm over the past 8 months or so and I'm looking forward to sharing some of the journey with y'all.

I'm going to end this post here because there's something I've been wanting to share this past week and it deserves it's own blog.


I Never Knew...

by Darlene on 08/29/11

...How much work is involved in laying out the infrastructure to setting up a farm.

Fencing, watering facilities, shelters, rotational grazing, etc.

I think being naieve isn't always a bad thing (lol) because if I had known when I first bought this farm all that I would someday have, and all that I would someday have to do to set things up right, I probably wouldn't have bought a place that wasn't set up already lol.

I have been fencing for 10 months now.  Last year the fencing was a priority but when I brought the Misty Acres Kangals to the farm it became a critical priority and I ended up fencing through last winter, this spring and summer.  Yesterday I finally completed the last of the critical phase of fencing and there's a part of me that can't believe it's finally done.  I moved Dawn and Warrior up there and put the sheep with the lambs (they were in different pastures up to this point) and everyone seemed to love their new home.  Warrior ran the perimeter over and over again while Dawn stayed close to the sheep.  At one point one of the sheep went over to Dawn and touched noses with was beautiful to see the bond that they have with her, somehow knowing she can be trusted and that she'll help keep them safe.  This morning when I went to take my daughter to school Dawn and Warrior raced me as I drove down the driveway and it was easy to see how happy they were in their new home.

As for me, my hands hurt, I have cuts and scratches all over from traipsing through the woods running lines of high tensile.  Like a dummy and because it's still summer I braved those areas in flip flops because boots are too hot to wear right now and paid the price of that bright idea lol.

It seems like it's been forever under construction...when people would come to visit the farm I would point to these different 'works in process' and explain how I was in the middle of 'building this or doing that'.  Now, finally, it's done and I won't have to explain a speaks for itself.

There might be some who, when they read this wonder why I'm even taking the time to write about this in a blog.  There will definitely be some however, who have embarked on the same journey of having to set the infrastructure up on a farm who will over understand how I feel right now.

Late yesterday afternoon after I had moved the dogs and sheep to the new pasture I found myself walking the fence line just watching and observing the animals.  It really wasn't anything too exciting...the sheep ate grass and the dogs ran around but the gratitude I felt in my heart was genuine as I thanked Him that the fencing was done.  I still remember trying to set posts in the winter in soggy ground (that didn't work at all).  I remember discovering M10 and that becoming my new best fencing friend (it will make posts tight in the ground regardless of the conditions of the earth).  I remember freezing outside, hating every moment I was out there, having no choice but to get things set up as quickly as I could, vowing that I would never do that type of work during the winter months again.  I remember all those things...the stresses and pressures and people thinking I was crazy for working so hard.  That's why, now that it's done, my appreciation and gratitude is real.

I don't ever want to have to do this

Last week a friend stopped by and was looking at all the work that had been accomplished.  He commented that the fencing was the nicest fencing he had seen in a long, long time and asked if he could bring others who would be facing the need to get fencing done, over to the farm so that they could see how I had set mine up.  He feels it is a good representation of how someone can set up their farm with their various animals and have it not only look nice, but work well too.

That was a compliment that I didn't expect.

Today is a good day.  I'm not feeling "I gotta, I gotta, I gotta do this and that".  I'm sitting here looking out the glass doors on the front of the house watching Hediye laying up on the hill, scanning the property and once in a while looking at the doors to see if she can catch a glimpse of me.

I love that girl with a depth that I can't put into words.  When I brought her back up to the house yesterday my daughter walked out with a huge smile on her face...she's thrilled to have Hediye up at the house once again.  I'll be bringing Canan back up here too, seperating them in the two small pastures I have in front of the house as they wait their time to give birth to a new generation of precious Kangal puppies.

Hediye and Canan...aunt and neice...carrying on the incredible line of Kangal Dogs from Turkey that go back many, many, many years...long before I even knew this breed exhisted.  I've actually missed having puppies around with their bright and happy personalities, making us laugh and falling in love with them over and over again.



by Darlene on 08/06/11

...I didn't have all these livestock animals and Kangals, it probably wouldn't be that big of a deal.  It's easier to roll with the punches when one is void, or at least in a pared down state, from the various responsibilities that come with a working farm.

My neighbor commented the other day that we were in the 40th day of no rain.  Drought seems to have invaded so many sections of our country...some areas are devestating from this lack of rain.  Thankfully we're not at that critical level but it's still not good.

The grasses crunch from dryness when you walk on them.  The man who I get my hay from to last me through the winter just called and said he would not have any hay this year.  Mayyyyyyyyyyybe he might have some in a few months IF we started getting some rain and IF there was enough time for his pastures to grow enough again before winter sets in.

I went and bought a couple of orbital sprinklers that will shoot water 85'.  I guess it's my pitiful attempt to water some of the grasses so they will grow for all the animals.  I figure anything is better than nothing.  My pond is down several feet even though it is fed by 5 underground springs.

The year I moved here, there was a horrible drought going on that was in it's 3rd year.  My pond was down at least 4', the creek bed was dry but the house water that is fed from the mountain spring still flowed strong so I'm hoping and praying that using some water to irrigate some areas in the smaller pastures won't compromise it.

"Thank You, Lord", I had a seperate well dug earlier this year.  The plan for this water source will strictly be for keeping the animals watered and irrigating my garden, thus removing any compromise from the mountain spring that feeds the actual home.  I have been so swamped with other things around here that I haven't laid the water lines goal to finish that project was and is, early fall.  I'm beginning to wonder if I should bump that particular project up the long project list towards the top.  At least there, it would give me two seperate water sources for the family and the animals.

See?  Writing can be very helpful because I didn't even think of that until I began to write this blog and it unfolded as I wrote.  I have been focusing on finishing fencing a new pasture area so that I can move some of the animals over there, giving other pastures a rest and I didn't even think about getting the water lines laid first...which would place water lines further out into pastures where I could hook up sprinklers and at least give them a good soaking once or twice a week.

I'll have to have a concrete pad laid for the pump area for the well.  I'll have to have electricity run to the pump and have insulated housing built over it to protect it mostly from freezing temperatures.  Then, I'll have to lay hundreds of feet of pvc piping for the water lines that will service different areas of different pastures.  I'll have to have no-frost faucets heads on all of them and make sure I get the tanks that auto-fill, relieving the pressure of having to make sure that all the animals are watered every day.

In case you were wondering, I've never done any of this type of work before.  I don't know how to do it but the 'unconventional college course' continues.  I'll talk to people 'in the know', find someone who can do that type of work and jump right in.

For me, when exploring the possibilities of "if's" I find myself quickly turning from the "if" to prayer.  I don't like "if's"...they're very vulnerable and dependant on too many unreliable things.  "If's" are a recipe for stress and potential dashed hopes and as I get older, it gets harder to expend energy in that direction.  Prayer is my constant...always available, and even if (see? there I go again with that word lol) things don't work out like I want or plan, at least I know I can trust Him...

...No matter what.

Creative Ideas vs. Reality

by Darlene on 07/24/11

I must admit, I love coming up with really kewl ideas.

Translating those creative ideas into reality is not always as easy as I initially think it will be lol.

The other day I began to take pictures of a recipe I'm going to share, paying close attention to each step that is taken.  Halfway through the recipe and picture taking the phone rang and it was my youngest son who needed some important information for college.

The phone call ended up taking 1 1/2 hours and long before we hung up I realized it was virtually impossible to talk on the phone, finish making the recipe and take pictures of each step, all at the same time.

For now, I have a completed recipe, a successful phone call with my son, and 1/2 the pictures I need to post that recipe.

Never fear!  I decided to capture a different recipe in pictures!  I'll plan on finishing up the photos for the first recipe the next time I make it lol.

So, I start to make the 2nd recipe, carefully (and hopefully artfully lol) taking pictures of each critical step.  Halfway through the recipe my girlfriend walked through the door needing my help with something or another.  I quickly finished the 2nd recipe without finishing the photographs to accompany it so now I have 2 finished recipes with both only having half the pictures I need to post them online.

I think when I go to do the 3rd recipe I'll park the truck behind the barn, I'll close all the blinds so that it'll look like I'm not home.  I'll turn off the phone so that I don't have to be curious and look to see who's calling and maybe...just maybe I'll be able to not only make a recipe, but get all the pictures I need to post it online lol.

I'm not one who gives up easily though lol.  Since it seems I'm unable to get a recipe WITH pictures completed for my site I decided to do a recipe that takes a week to make.  SURELY in a week I'll find enough time to get all the pictures so that I can present, from start to finish, a completed recipe online? lolol

Check out our Rustic Gourmet link.  We're in the middle of making homemade bacon.  I can almost taste it now.


Hey! What's cookin'?

by Darlene on 07/17/11

The other night I was craving chocolate.

I always crave chocolate.  Chocoate to me is like breathing air or drinking water.  I have a chocolate DNA gene in me that must be satisfied and it doesn't matter what kind of chocolate I eat, as long as it's chocolate.

Truth be known I prefer things that have a richer chocolate taste but as I write that I can't think of any chocolate that doesn't have a rich taste lol.

Anyway, the other night I was having my usual and customary chocolate craving.  I didn't feel like making cookies, I'm not big on cakes and I wasn't in the mood for brownies.  I remembered a bar cookie I used to make alot and it is definitely a solid, good old fashioned chocolate fix.  It goes by many names...7 layer bars, Hello Dolly's, etc.  Thankfully, my pantry is usually pretty well stocked which helps when I have these spur of the moment cravings.  I started pulling down the ingredients I would need to make these bar cookies...coconut, chocolate chips, graham cracker crumbs, walnuts and...

Sweetened condensed milk.  I had all of the other ingredients but for the first time in 20 years I couldn't find a can of sweetened condense milk.  I tore my cupboards apart looking and looking.  I even had my daughter look through everything because there ARE times when what I'm looking for is right in front of my nose and I still can't see it.

No sweetened condense milk.

This was not good because the whole time I was looking for a can of this stuff, the craving was growing bigger and bigger.  You know how it goes...if you can have something it's easier to pass it up but if you can't have it, you want it even more! 

Somewhere in my foggy chocolate craving mind I had this vague recollection that there was a way to make homemade sweetened condensed milk.  I got onto the computer and google'd "homemade sweetened condensed milk" (google is my best online knows EVERYthing!).  There were literally hundreds of recipes!  I learned that you can make sweetened condensed milk from condensed milk, or (for those inclined to take it further back to the foundation of the recipe) from scratch with whole milk.

I don't know about where you live but a little 14oz can of sweetened condensed milk is almost $3.00 a can.  By reason of necessity (I was out of it) I ended up making a batch of it for my 7 layer bars, absolutely amazed by how easy it is to make and for pennies comparied to the comercially prepared product in a can.

That got me thinking because when I discover things like this that *I* find awesome, I want to share it with everyone!  I also do alot of unique cooking that I love talking about so I decided that I would create a place on this site for my cooking ideas and discoveries.

My mom is an awesome cook.  She can take anything and make the most delicious meal you've ever had.  I inherited this gift and love for foods from her and took it to another level, bringing in a bit of gourmet to her wonderful recipes.  I don't cook as fancy as I used to since I moved to the country but I still have that flair when I create new dishes.  Thus the 'Rustic Gourmet' was born!

It's one thing to write down a recipe and then tell you how good it is and why it is so good lol but it's a whole 'nother thing to take step-by-step pictures of the process, which is what I'm going to do.  In fact, as I write this blog, I have a recipe in the making and am photographing the steps that are involved in this particular recipe and will be posting it once the recipe is complete.

I'll give you a hint has cinnamon in it and my whole house smells heavenly with the aromas of fresh ".......................................".


Keep checking the new Rustic Gourmet link...I'll be adding lots of recipes in the days ahead...from my homemade smoked bacon to who knows what!

Empty Nest

by Darlene on 07/14/11

Yesterday I spent all day down in the city getting some of Warrior and Dawn's puppies onto their planes so that they could fly to their new homes where loving arms awaited them...

Today, the reality of my 'nest' shrinking hit home.  It's a little quieter...I don't hear the rustling and tustling of puppies playing with each other as often.  When I walk out to spend some time with them, fewer faces rush to greet me with kisses and expectant little puppy faces.

I miss them.   :(

Between 6-8 weeks, their personalities really start to show and I get a really good feel to who they will grow into someday.  I start to bond with their special, unique personality and then shortly after that they leave for their new homes.

Something is wrong with that picture. 

So tonight I sit here thinking about the puppies who have are now with their new families and I daydream about things like, "I wonder what they're doing right now...I wonder if when their new owners walk into the room if the puppies rush to greet them, understanding how much they are loved even though everyone is still getting to know each other"...

It's interesting to feel an emptiness from their absence and a joy knowing they are valued and loved in their new homes...all at the same time.

If any of my puppy families read this particular blog, give your puppy a hug for me and tell them I'm so proud of them.

Without even one Kangal

by Darlene on 07/07/11

"...for the first time in over 30 years we are without any Kangals, not even one..."

This was a portion of an email from an extradordinary lady who has been in the Kangal breed for over 30 years...and for the first time in all those years they are without at least 1 Kangal in their home.  This was what I read first thing this morning after I woke up and it's laid heavy on my heart all day...

Contemplating a life myself without even one Kangal in it is not a thought I like to dwell on for long.  It causes my heart to feel squeezed as dread tries to flow freely in.  Perhaps to some that may read this that have never owned a Kangal I might sound a little (or alot) mellow dramatic but I'd be willing to bet that almost all of us that have these dogs would feel along similar lines.

It causes me to wonder, "why do I feel this way?" and I'm not sure it's completely explainable.  I've said before that people are very passionate about the specific breeds they love and I'm no different.  I just happen to believe that our Kangals are beyond other breeds and while these other breeds are awesome in their own right...well, let's just say there is only one candle lit and it just happens to suspend over this Kangal Dog breed.  :)

My dogs and I are not equals...I will always be 'Mama in charge" around here but there is definitely an element of a partnership in this relationship I share between me and my dogs.  I trust them in so many ways that are important to me...with my family, with me, with our livestock.

I can't put it into words and I don't want to sound lame in an attempt at trying so suffice it to say...

A huge emptiness would fill my heart if I looked out into a pasture and didn't see Thor walking around like he was king of the world...and if I didn't see Canan laying there, little miss independent, I can handle all things except mom not talking to me when I've been naughty...

Something would seriously be amiss if I didn't walk out my kitchen door and see Hediye laying by the gate in her pasture...looking at the kitchen door as if she had been waiting all day for me to appear...and Warrior laying next to her trying to convince her that she was his 'new woman'

An emptiness would fill my heart if I looked out at the pasture where the pond is and didn't see Lokum and Yaylar laying under the rowboat that is turned upside down on the pier.  It's like a cave to them and little Yaylar cuddles up with auntie Lokum, wanting to be just like her when she grows up.

If I were to look over to the cow's pasture and not see Maverick who is most definitely a "man's man", strolling around the perimeters with a confidence that causes you to stop and observe, I would feel that something critically important was missing in my life.

If I were to look out the front doors to the pasture where Dawn resides with sheep, and not see her laying under her tree always keeping an eye on her charges, it would cause me to feel empty.

And if I wasn't able to go down to my little valley and see Sula kissing the goats, always checking on them, making sure they were ok (she is such a little mama), I don't know if I'd want to continue doing all I am with all my animals.  It just doesn't seem right to have cows, but no Kangal with them.  I can't imagine having goats but no Kangal to stay with them.  I would feel more nervous about the sheep if they didn't have their Kangals...there is such an evident vulnerability with the sheep.  I might still be able to have pigs lol because I don't keep a Kangal in with the pigs (for obvious reasons lol) and I probably would still have bees because they are on their own...I can't trust them with the dogs lol.  But the rest of it?  For me, they go hand in hand...horses, cows, sheep and goats with my Kangal Dogs.

I'm not sure how a breed of dogs can fill the heart with so much that is unexplainable but I do know that after reading about this dear woman being without a Kangal for the first time in 30 years, it hit home and stayed with me all day.  About a half hour ago, before I even began to write this particular blog, I wanted to go outside and sit for a while with each of my by one, just sit and spend time with them.  Words aren't important, there's no way they couldn't know how much I love them already...but it was dark by then.  So tomorrow no matter matter where they may be laying (well except for under the row boat...I don't think I'd want to venture under that lol) I plan on taking a little time (time that seems to be flying by so rapidly these days) with each one because *I* need to.

I pray that the most special Kangal pup this woman has ever had, finds a home soon with this special lady.

I went to the symphony last night...

by Darlene on 07/06/11

In fact, I attend it quite regularly...every night, truth be known.

As I sit in my greatroom working on my laptop at the dining room table I am assaulted by nature's symphony that plays each night.

I have a pond where all kinds of creatures live.  They pretty much sleep during the day but as soon as the sun sets they pull out their instruments, warm up their vocal chords and begin to play the most interesting music I've ever heard...

The bullfrogs illicit deep, baritone croaks...several of them following in tempo, one right after the other.  The treefrogs croak in opposite beats, adding to the fullness of the symphonic melody they play each night.

Once in a while the dogs will enter with their unique strains of music.  Sometimes their contribution lends a more serious tone, as their warning barks to predators communicates "stay away".  Sometimes the sound of a distant siren will compel them to begin to howl...the most serene and captivating howl I've ever heard.

The crickets chirp nonstop through the night...increasing their crescendo and then subsiding again.  At unexpected moments the puppies will join in with their playful growls as they wrestle and tustle with each other.

Thus are the sounds of the symphony I attend each evening.  Sounds of life that play even at night as I wind down my days.

But none of their musical scores can rival the concert I attended the other day.  I was down in the garden, weeding and harvesting...securing tomato plants more securely to their stakes, rearranging watermelon vines that keep wanting to invade the aisles.  All of a sudden I heard a song and in that moment I knew I would cherish it forever...

The garden is down in the little valley, not far from the creek.  The house is up the hill a little ways where I can see it.  The kitchen window overlooks the little valley and in the silence of that afternoon came a song that filled my heart to overflowing.

It was my daughter singing as she did dishes.  Sounds a little funny I'm sure, but she has a beautiful voice and she thought she was in private...singing from the center of her heart, full of feeling with a depth that defies her short 15 years.  I couldn't hear the words very clearly but I could hear the notes in her voice and she was singing a song to Him.

I don't think I've heard a more beautiful sound.  Even as I sit here right now, listening to the symphony that still continues at 1:00am, it'll never replace the memory of hearing my daughter sing.

*happy sigh*

Houston? We have a problem.

by Darlene on 06/01/11

I'm sitting in the screened in porch at my girlfriends house that overlooks the beautiful mountain ranges in eastern Tennessee on one side, and the stunning mountain ranges in western North Carolina on the other side.

I'm at my girlfriends house not only because I wanted to visit.  Not only because she cooked us dinner.  Not only because her daughter and my daughter are friends.

I'm here because my internet has run into some problems and I can't get online at home.


Of COURSE, since I can't get online at home and do alot of things I normally like to do, I suddenly have this great desire to write and post pictures and all kinds of things.  So here I am, at my girlfriend's house who invited us to come over and share her dinner and company, along with her WiFi :), sitting across the table from her, writing this blog as she does whatever she does on her iPad.

She must be one of those girls who can surf the net and talk at the same time.  I, on the other hand, especially when I'm writing, tend to focus very intently on what I'm trying to say.  She keeps interrupting me and I keep losing my train of thought lol.

Then to top it off, my oldest son left today to go back to Miami to start his summer classes for college.  He's been visiting for a couple of months to help out on the farm and just having him around for such a long period of time has made it hard to see him go.  He's an honorable young man, a hard worker and he's impressed all my friends here in the mountains.

If I talk much more about that, the tears that are filling my eyes will spill over and then my girlfriend will want to know if I'm ok and then I'll lose my train of thought once again of where I'm trying to go with this blotchy blog lolol.

Well, I guess I need to remember how blessed I am to have 4 beautiful children, regardless of the fact that they grew up too fast.

I need to remember that a short period of time with no internet is not that big of a deal.  Lord knows there's a million things I could do but I love working on my site.

And as I try to finish up this blog, my girlfriend is talking once again...sharing how much it means to her to be able to help me out like be able to cook dinner for a friend and to offer her home where I can sit for a few minutes and write something like this.  She's sharing how she often offers help to others and most don't take it and how it can be disheartening at times.


Now THAT is something that never dawned on me...that it would mean that much to her to be there for me.

In all honesty, it's been a rough of those 'uphill climbs' all day.  But the above is a beautiful way to end this day.

I'll post pictures of puppies and updates as often as I can over the next couple of days.  The internet people said it will be a few days before they get my internet connection fixed.  In the meantime, my iPhone will be my best friend to answer emails and make the calls that need to be made.

May His hand of blessing flow richly over all who read this blog.

Amazing Differences

by Darlene on 05/14/11

It's amazing how different these adult female Kangals are when they are in labor, birthing new baby Kangal puppies...

When Canan is in labor and delivery, she's right in my face as if to say, "mom! don't you dare leave me!!!!".  Of course we stay right by her side during the whole process but she definitely is one who needs us to be there.

Lokum is completely different.  When she was delivering her puppies, it was as if she were saying, "Thank you but no thank you, I don't need any help...and I don't like where you put my baby puppy, I want them over can leave now...".  lolol   Ok Lokum, do that thang you do so well lol.

Heidi is very relaxed yet very territorial over her babies.  She would only allow Madison and I to be there, or even enter the room.  If anyone came to the doorway to see how she was doing, she quickly made it known that they were not wanted.

Dawn went into labor last night and it's been amazing to watch her go through this labor and delivery process. She sits there and closes her eyes and pants...focusing somewhere far away as the contractions move another puppy down the birth canal.  This is her first delivery but it never ceases to amaze me how strong their instincts are.  As the puppy is being born, she immediately goes to work, cutting the cord, licking the puppies, getting them squirming and breathing strong.

She's obviously very tired now and was able to get a little rest inbetween delivering the puppies but I'm so proud of her.  She's such an easy going dog and thankfully the deliveries have been smooth and easy.  She is comfortable with us being there and assisting if needed.

These newborn Kangal puppies who are only minutes and hours old at this point in time, are completely unaware of the homes that will fall head over heels in love with them, just because they are who they are, for many years to come.


by Darlene on 05/09/11

It has been an extremely busy time these past few months...

Canan's puppies, Lokum's puppies and the usual and customary things we have going on around the farm.

Canan's puppies are almost all in the new homes.  One family will be coming to pick up their puppy in a week or puppy will be staying with me for another 9 months so that I can help the people that are importing him to get through the red tap that their country has regarding animal importations and rabies stuff.  I still have 2 females that are absolutely precious and they will have a home here until the right home comes alone.  Not just any home, but the right one.  In my heart I know I'll know when that is.

Lokum's puppies are all spoken for and are now 4 weeks old.  They're really starting to distinguish themselves, looking more like individuals than newborn puppies.  They are very different looking than Canan's's hard to explain though.  They're all fawn/black mask pups but they're a little different...just like Hediye's pups looked a little different.  I guess it's kind of like our children.  My children look different than other peoples children but they're all beautiful children.  And I think because I spend so much time with the puppies that I really see alot of little details that others might not notice at first.  Lokum's pups though have a strong look about them which I love.  Sometimes when I look into their little faces a million quips come to mind that I could attach to a picture...kind of along the lines of what I did with Canan's puppies on her puppy page, like "Wassamattawhichoo?" lol.  Her puppies make me smile and they are now starting to look at me like they're seeing me for the first time...their eyesight is really getting focused now.

And then...

There is a great anticipation as Dawn nears the time when she will birth her puppies.  We have a family reunion going on next weekend that I would love to attend but I can't because it's right in the middle of her due date.  Anyway I look at it, I can't go...if she delivers early, I need to be here because the puppies will be days old.  If she delivers late, I need to be here to help.  I figured I'd just let my oldest son and youngest daughter drive down to visit with all the family but last night my daughter told me she doesn't know if she wants to go because she wants to be here when Dawn has her puppies.

I told her that maybe the puppies would be born before the reunion so she could see them but she still wants to stay.  She has bonded very closely with Dawn.  She's worked with her, earning Dawn's trust.  I remember the first time she said to me, "oh my gosh! Dawn let me pet her!" or, "oh my gosh! Dawn gave me a kiss today!".  These have been happy milestones for her because there's something very beautiful in Dawn that has captured my daughter's heart.

It's captured mine too, but I'm so happy that my daughter has such strong bonds to Dawn so I let her have the limelight.  My daughter is my delivery assistant...we've both stayed up all night several times to help our Kangal mamas bring their new babies into the world.  It's something very special that we share and it means alot to me that this passion I have in my heart for this breed is igniting in my daughter's heart too.

My daughter already wants to start taking Dawn's temperature...I guess she's anxious to watch the temperature drop as Dawn nears birthing.  We're getting close so I guess we'll go ahead and start that today because she is supposed to birth anytime between 4-7 days from now.

More than anything though, I'm dying to see these puppies that Dawn and Warrior have created.  They were both conceived and born in Turkey and this will be the first time ever that these lines will be born in the States.  It will be an honor to introduce fresh genetics into the Kangal gene pool here...something that is sorely needed.  Aside from that, I can't wait to see how their genetics will pool together to make a new life...or lives, that is.

I expect them to be stunning...absolutely, positively stunning.  Before Char called me and asked me to take her dogs, I had a reservation for a puppy from this litter lol, so it has been a breeding that I have had personal interest in for some time.  Now that Dawn and Warrior are here and I've gotten to know them so much better, I'm REALLY anxious to see these pups!

Warrior reminds me of a "Clark Gable"...suave, debonair, good looking, adorable sense of humor and someone everyone loves.  Dawn isn't a "Scarlett"...she's a little like a "Melanie"...good and sweet and dedicated.

Yesterday I moved the dogs around, putting them with new livestock.  I put Maverick by the pond and he's already swimming in it lol.  In fact, the first thing he did when I put him in that area was to walk in up to his chest and just stand there, glorying in all that it means to him...he's one of those Kangals who absolutely adores water.  I moved Warrior in with Hediye and put them with the sheep because down the road they will be doing a breeding (another litter that I'm anxious to see).  But Dawn I kept with the goats because that girl just loves those goats, and they love her.  I could sit for hours and just watch Dawn with them, she is absolutely amazing.  Because of her love and bond with the goats I can't imagine seperating them so they are hers which I think is very special.

I still want to see her puppies though.  I want to hold them and study them and look at every hair on their bodies lol.  For now, I get to watch her tummy grown and her milk come in and watch her guard her goats whom she loves.  Soon enough, those puppies will be cuddled in my arms.

*happy sigh* lol

There is a mist...

by Darlene on 05/05/11

...That is laying very gently on the land this morning.  The sun is just starting to rise and as it begins to shed its beginning rays of light it reveals that the mist follows the contours of the land...the rolling hills and steep banks.  It hovers in a hushed way, cloaking the details that are contained on Shadow Wings Farm.

I've been sitting here for a while, answering emails, gathering information for a few people who are getting puppies.  As I cross all the 't's' and dot all the 'i's' that are involved in finalizing the details on their puppies, my heart is overwhelmed by the depth of meaning that these Kangal pups hold, cloaked like the midst on the land, behind the usual and customary details of those "t's and i's".

I've never bred any dogs outside of Kangals and Anatolians so I'm not sure if this is the same for other breeds of dogs.  I know for a fact that different types of people love different types of breeds...and I know that my passion lies with these Kangals.  I've had several breeds of dogs over the course of my life and I've loved them all but none of them can hold a candle to how the Kangal Dog grips my heart and I may never know why that is.

I can say that as I walk my own personal journey with these dogs, I continue to be dazed and amazed by the meaning they hold to so many people.  They are a rare breed that most people are unaware of but to the ones that are aware of them, their passion equals mine.

I know that other people that breed these dogs probably feel the same, but I can only talk about the puppies that I breed and the experience I have along the way.

One of my most favorite things to hear from new puppy people is something along the lines of, "oh my gosh...I had no idea...these pups are so much more than we ever dreamed..."

I know.  As good as I am at going on and on about these Kangals, they still remain one of those things that you must see to believe.  Pictures don't ever do them justice...they only give one a glimpse.

I don't know how I became so blessed to pass forward something that means so much to me, but I am so grateful He's given me this opportunity.  When He first opened the doors to this breed I never dreamed I would be doing all I am today.  Sometimes I think it brings a smile to His face to suprise us with such delight...I know that I love surprising people with special things that I know will have meaning and if we're created in His image, than I can imagine He does too.  :)

I'm finalizing the details on a couple of puppies who have some very important destinies to fulfill.  One pup is destined to a 1000 acre ranch where animals and livestock who have been used over and over in scientific experiments by others are given a sanctuary to live the rest of their lives out in gentleness and peace.  These animals are being threatened by predators so the need is great for a Kangal.  Another pup is destined to save the Kangal Dog breed in another country.  Without this pup, they are at the end of the line preserving the Kangal there (their words, not mine).

I never dreamed that when I was first contacted by both these people that there would be 2 puppies that would be destined to play such an important role in other peoples, and other animals lives.  I never dreamed that one of these pups would go on to freshen the genetics in a far away place, giving the Kangals there a fresh dose of DNA and affording many in the days to come the ability to have this special breed.

I certainly didn't know that then, but I do know it now...and as I look outside once again, the mist is just about gone and the details of my land and animals are visible and plain to see.

These mists, that are actually very beautiful, are soon parted by His hand and His plans that have been in place all along, are revealed.

Some day, I want to look at His hands.  We talk about them all the time..."His hand of protection...His hands made this...etc, etc, etc". 

I can't even begin to imagine how stunning those hands must be to have created all this, blessings and all.

The World Will Just Have To Stop...

by Darlene on 04/19/11

Even if it's only for a short moment...

I originally started this blog because I like to write sometimes.  Sometimes I just have this unexplainable 'need' to share thoughts, feelings, perspectives, experiences, etc., that I have from time to time.  I don't know why, but when I put 'pen to paper', by the time I'm done I feel settled inside and move forward again...

This is how it has been for quite a few days now.  The mornings have been starting off with a bang.  I barely get a cup of coffee before I'm required to run 'here or there'.  The days are swamped with pounding things out...the evenings are when I'm trying very hard to wrap the day dinner, making sure all the animals are done for the day and meeting the needs of the puppies who now look to me for everything (at least Canan's puppies do.  Lokum's pups are still very young and completely dependant on her still).

About 10-11pm at night, I'll finally sit down at the computer because this need that has been rumbling in my heart throughout the days continues, but by that time at night, I'm so tired I can barely think much less put a sentence together correctly lol.  So, every night I promise myself that "first thing in the morning before I begin ANYthing, I'm going to write a blog".

I've been making this promise to myself for 5 days now and this morning I'm folding my arms across my chest and stomping my foot and demanding that the world must stop, even if it's just for a few minutes because there is something I want to say.

Canan's puppies are entering their 8th week.  I have the vet's appointment all ready and I'm already laughing trying to envision me and 11 puppies decending on her office, all ready to get their health checkups and first set of puppy shots.  Between you and me, I think she's really enjoying these puppies.  It's a new breed for her so she's slowly learning the unique differences this breed has and merging it with standard protocol for canines.  As I tell her stories about "well, this puppy is going to this home in this place to do this job", she listens intently.  I think she's kind of amazed at all these pups will someday do...whether it be protecting livestock or families and I think she's beginning to understand how these Kangal pups are more than 'just a dog'.

That excites me because nothing makes me happier than helping someone new to the breed, understand the depth of all these dogs possess.

So, next Monday we're going to fill her office up with a bunch of puppies who will be scurrying around, waiting their turn to be weighed and examined, leaving their usual and customary piddle puddles on the floor and watching her staff quickly throw towels everywhere to clean things up.

I will be telling her, as she begins to examin each puppy, a brief history of where this pup will be going.  They're going all over the country and continent and it's fun to watch her eyes get wide and say "wow!".

Now, the purpose of this particular blog isn't so much about the vet's visit we have planned as it is about the new homes that these puppies will be going to.  The last few days as it's been hitting me that "my time" is coming to an end, I've been thinking alot about the new families that will soon have their puppies home. 

I can't help but feel like one of the most luckiest girls around to be able to breed these dogs and to come in contact with some of the most wonderful people and families I've ever met.  Over the last couple of months I've spent alot of time with them in emails and on the phones...beginning to teach them about this special breed, sharing with them stories of experiences I've had over the years.  Sometimes those stories make them laugh, sometimes those stories stun them.  In the process of this interaction, I begin to feel a bond with them.  So often I think, "Geez!  I really like that family...they are such wonderful people!".  I find myself wishing that we didn't live so far apart because it would be so much fun to get to know them better because a friendship...over and above the fact that they're getting a Kangal puppy begins to emerge and that has meaning to me.

I really like all the people who are waiting for puppies.  They are not only really neat people, but very special families too.  So, this is what has been on my heart the past few days...what I've been wanting to write say thank you.  I'm already avoiding the thought of putting puppies on the planes or handing them over to their new owners because it's already choking me up lolol.  There's a balance there however because I know that each puppy is going to be as loved and cherished as I feel towards them, and probably more because these families will get to walk the journey from Kangal puppy to Kangal adult.  It's an amazing journey with its unique twists and turns.  Its a journey unlike any other so I feel very fortunate to pass forward what I feel is a gift.

*happy sigh*

Ok, I feel better now having stolen a few moments before the days rush has begun.  :)

The puppies are fed and are now wrestling and playing with each other.  Their tummies are full and they'll soon go outside to soak up the sun and take puppy naps so that they can continue to grow.  In the chaos of the days, as I'm outside working on 'this or that', I often glance over at the pups.  They always always always put a smile in my heart as I watch them.  They make me laugh and they make my heart feel so proud because they are incredibly beautiful puppies whose destiny is about to begin.

Uh oh.  The man is here to begin work for the day.  I just told him, "just a sec" because I'm bound and determined to post this blog right now...



by Darlene on 04/09/11

Last night I was browsing through the site, skimming through the blogs I've written so far.  I noticed a pattern in my blogs that kind of surprised me because as I've said before, the blogs are written 'in the moment' and communicate what's on the heart at the time.

I noticed that alot of times (not always) I tend to write when I feel challenged and stressed.  What kind of blog is that? lol  I kept thinking last night to myself, "oh geez, this is not good...I need to write more about happy things!!!" lol.

And then I remembered that I do write about happy things.  The entire site is a glimpse into my life these days...the animals I have, the things I do and the things I've come to love.  I guess the blog area is my own personal space where the footsteps taken in the journey are chronicled.  No wonder I named it "blahblahblah" lolol...

This morning something weighs on my heart and it's a happy thing yet bittersweet too.  I've never been one that was very good at pretending so once again I think I'll share why my heart feels full of emotion this morning, which causes tears to fill my eyes.

The past few days since I moved Lokum up to the house, I've been watching her closely as she nears her time to deliver her puppies.  She's absolutely huge, she's panting alot and I know from experience that giving birth is draining.  We'll often spend time with her, just stroking her head, neck and body gently which seems to have a calming effect on her and helps her to relax.

It's been interesting getting to know Lokum.  My mind is constantly split between remembering all that Char would share about her, compared to all that I've experienced with her myself since she came to live on my farm.  I remember the anticipation we all felt as Lokum would get close to delivering a litter...excitement would fill our hearts because this little girl has consistantly produced some of the most amazing Kangal litters.

I've been observing Lokum for months and she is very unique.  She's quiet, unassuming and quite content to lay on the hillside relaxing all day long.  She's comfortable letting the other dogs patrol the perimeters and yet when there's a valid issue that needs to be addressed, she'll leave her 'sanctuary' and fly across the fields to those front lines doing what Kangals do best.

She's what I would call one of the quiet ones.  Some might miss her at first but when she busts on the scene she's breathtaking and I can't tell you the times I have stopped what I've been doing just to watch her...that's no lie.

I often think about all she has accomplished over the years with her litters.  She has produced the highest scoring hips that the breed has ever presented.  She has always, always, always thrown puppies that reflect her best qualities and to be quite honest, I can't think of one thing about her that I'd like to change.  She has puppies that have gone on to become Grand Champions in the show circuit all over this world and there are a slew of people who love with all their hearts, the puppies she has shared with them.

In my not so humble opinion, she has added a richness to the Kangal history books.  Her 2 puppies that were adopted by the Indianapolis Zoo are educating countless people about this breed.  Those puppies honor the Kangal Dog but more importantly, they honor her and all that she is.

This is her last litter.  An important chapter in her life is coming to an end and I don't know why but that moves brings tears to my eyes whenever I think about it because you would never guess just by looking at her how profoundly important she has been to this breed in the States.  I love that girl in a way that's different from the others.  I guess that's because she causes me to feel awe and respect for who she is.  Little did anyone realize when she was born in Turkey years ago, how important that little female puppy would become to so many.

So now, she's about to gift many one last time.  As I sit with her, stroking her head, telling her "it's ok...I'm here", I can't help but reflect to the times when Char was at the helm, helping her bring her babies into this world.  I haven't been able to completely absorb the fact that it's now me in this position, and there's a part of me that is feeling very emotional about entering into something so special that used to belong to Char.

Am I making any sense?

It just brings me to tears.  This is the bittersweet part of this whole situation. :(

I guess I just want everyone to know, especially those that are getting a puppy from Lokum's last litter, the incredibly valuable gift you are receiving.  As I write that I already know that the people who have reserved one of these pups, do know...I've talked to them enough and can hear that anticipation and excitment that I had when I waited for one of Lokum's puppies. 

Soon I will be holding newborn baby Kangals...birthed by a female who possesses on the inside all you could ever want in this breed.  Forget the size, forget the coat, forget the white blazes on the chest.  It's the heart of the dog...the essence of who they were meant to be, that is what is important.  It's what captivated my heart years ago, and I know from experience this litter will captivate the hearts of those who will have one of her puppies.

I'm never nervous with a litter, but I'm a little nervous with this one.  This litter is very important to me because it was very important to Char.

And then I remember the words she said to me many times before she passed..."you're going to do just fine Darlene...Ed and I have a peace that our dogs are with you".


Ok.  Let's see what Lokum gifts us with...this one, last time.


The (not so) Perfect Storm

by Darlene on 04/06/11


I just spent 1 1/2 hours writing out a blog and somehow managed to delete the whole thing.

Life on the farm I guess, or better yet, life in general.

Suffice it to say, I'm coming out of an incredible whirlwind.  From taking pigs to market, to trying to pick up 2 Kangal puppies imported from Turkey, to massive storms that spawned many tornados, to being without power for 2 days.

Through it all, I found myself telling the Lord that I was done with this roller coaster ride.  I was going to get off and stop because I'm weary from the highs and lows that have been pummeling my life.  I know I'm not the only one because I hear people sharing the same, but everytime I say "that's it! I'm not going to participate any longer", I find myself propelled into new circumstances where I have no choice but to fasten my seatbelt and trust Him.

I'm not in control as much as I want to think I am.  I find myself looking back on the past when the days were far more spoiled and the demands were far less taxing.  Intuitively in my heart I know that those days are gone...not just for me, but for all of us.  A 'new normal' per se has decended and there's not much that can be done about it.

We just got finished with dealing with 2 days without power.  I've gone 6 weeks without power after Hurricane Andrew and after all the years I lived in Miami this is an area I know well.  But living in the suburbs and dealing with no power vs. living in the mountains on a farm with a slew of animals that are dependent on you with no power are two completely different beasts.

I marvel at how quickly my mind can think of Plan X's, Y's and Z's...worst case scenarios that has us hauling water from the pond and the mountain spring that feeds the house to keep the animals and ourselves hydrated.  Knowing it's going to take more than we have to give but also knowing that what must be done, must be done.  As the roller coaster cart decends down the tracks after peaking at the high point on the rails, one can't help but be filled with dread.  That survival instinct kicks in but it wars with the heart that is beyond weary.

And then, He begins to move, meeting our needs in a variety of ways through a variety of people...some family, some recently made friends in neighbors.  The roller coaster cart is still speeding down the slope, the scenery flys quickly past and the best one can do is make that decision to hang on and trust.

I found my overwhelmed heart wanting to break down in tears yesterday.  I knew there was no time for tears, we were having to deal with one major obstacle after another that kept trying to steal away hope.  There would be time for tears later, so I'd look up into the sky with a heart that was filled with much that can't be put into words, knowing the heavenlies are out there.  He answered by filling me with His peace, which after all these years can still cause me to feel surprised.

As His hand began to move in the circumstances we were facing while the storm raged in utter anger, I found my heart feeling a level of gratitude that is also not definable with just words.  I want to be independent and not need the help of others...I much prefer to help others instead.  Being helped is least to me it is.  I guess He's doing some work there too.

By the end of the day, when everything that had earlier seemed an impossibility was finished, I couldn't help but think over and over again...

He really is in control and He really does meet the needs.

I don't know how I've made it through the past few days but then I remember I didn't do it alone.  There's no way any of us could make it on our own, no matter how independent we may be.  He will be faithful to orchestrate the impossible and remind me once again...

He alone is God.

Yanno...this is a completely different blog than I originally wrote but I guess I needed to filter through the layers of "stuff" to the heart of the matter that lies within.

Trusting Their Instincts...

by Darlene on 03/31/11

I had something curious happen yesterday...

I had a man come to do some work outside on the farm.  He's been here several times so far, helping me with some of the work that I don't have the skills to do.  He was the one who helped me finally turn my "Just one line" hotwire fencing project into 7 full strands of hotwire, completing that project.  Shortly after he got here yesterday morning I had to run out for about an hour and left him to begin the next project.  When I got home I got out of the truck and walked over to where he was working.  It just happened to be over next to the pasture where Hediye stays with my horse.  When I walked up to him to ask how everything was going, he started to vent big time...

"If that dog of yours didn't shut up I was going to 'blahblahblah'...she barked at me non-stop the whole time you were gone...'grumblegrumblegrumble'...that stupid dog, if she were mine I would 'blahblahblah'..."

"hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm", I thought to myself and looked at him and told him simply, "she's doing what she was born to do...protect this farm and my family".  His response was still along the lines above and I couldn't help but get a little angry inside even though I presented a fairly calm exterior.

Don't talk about my Hediye like's very offensive to me.

He has no idea how uniquely special she is, and all my dogs are and I did not appreciate him talking about her like she was a piece of trash.

I tried to bite my tongue but the best I was able to do was say, "Let me tell you something.  She's doing what she's meant to do...what she was born to do, and that is protect my family and farm".  He tried to argue with me a little bit which made me a little madder.  Finally I told him quite blankly, "obviously she has a problem with you and if she has a problem with you, I have a problem with you".


It's true though.  I learned years and years ago to trust these trust their instincts because they have the ability to pick up on things I miss.  When I first moved here, one of the movers was a really outgoing and friendly guy...cracking jokes and making us all laugh.

One of my dogs had a real serious problem with him to the point where I had to remove her from where he was working.  Later I found out that he wasn't such a great guy...that he really was not a good guy at all and it stunned me that she had picked up on something I had not.  Actually, it kind of deflated and concerned me because at my age, I thought I was pretty good at reading people and picking up on things but such is not the case all the time.  So it taught me to trust my dogs.  If they have a problem, then I need to have a problem with the same situation.

When the man yesterday saw that his venting had not sat well with me, he said, "well, when you got home, she finally quit barking".

hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm...something bothered Hediye about him while I was gone, yet when I returned home, she felt she was able to relax.

I've been thinking about that ever since then.  What is it?  He must not be such a bad guy that even when I got home, she didn't continue to issue warning barks, so that's a good thing...but something isn't 100% ok either so I found myself keeping a distance and an eye open as the day went by.  The man does great work...he's fast, efficient and very good at what he does.  He charges a reasonable price and I can't do the work he is doing.  I have another young man that comes every afternoon to help me with feeding all the animals.  Hediye never barks at him, regardless of whether I'm here or not so I must have gauged him right lol.  But this other guy causes her concern and you know what? 

I believe her.

It's things like this that cause my heart to feel comforted because I know my dogs have our back.  I'm only one little person and can't be everywhere at one time, so my dogs are very important to me for a variety of reasons...this being one of them.

The man spent the rest of the day apologizing for his vent that morning.  I politely accepted his apology as he fell all over himself trying to rectify the offense he knew he had made.  Finally I told him, "you just don't understand"...

I don't think I want him to understand either...Hediye and all the dogs here, are the "aces in my cards" that I prefer to hold close to my chest.  I trust their instincts and I need them.

Let everyone think they're "just a dog".  Nothing could be further from the truth.

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