Welcome to Fern Valley

Here in central Alberta prime farm country,my husband Martin and I work together raising beef cattle and Appaloosa horses. Fern valley appaloosas have long been known for their quality of temperament conformation and color.I have recently rediscovered a love of writing and have published 2 collections of poetry. "Telling Tails" and Tails Trails and Campfire stories" . I look forward to a future spreading my wings as an author and as a horse woman .

Tuesday, 31 December 2013

An "Appy" New Year!

My  year in  review  posts will  come in the next  few days but for now.

Stay safe and  warm my friends, and all  the best in  2014! Yippee,the Year of the Horse!

Sunday, 29 December 2013

"Fixing dinner" and returning to a wonderful tradition in a new way

Hello everyone, I have  finally surfaced from  my turkey com lol and am  back to post , about... Turkey!
Just  briefly mind you . I was looking at all  the leftovers  form Christmas  dinner and thinking, hmm, how many ways  can we  "remake " leftovers  to be something new. When a post I saw on Pinterest a while back  came to mind. Now a lot of the recipes and ideas on Pinterest look  like a  great idea, but some  don't turn out quite the way they are pictured. here are a few  examples  from  the net.

So I wasn't sure , but I thought , what the heck, lets give it a  go. 
I didn't so much  follow a recipe as I did an idea, but long story  short ,I made  Savory stuffing and turkey muffins. and...
they  were awesome! 

Served them  with  some home made  Turkey  soup, and a  dot of my Auntie Elsie's home made cranberry  sauce! Which is a wonderful  family tradition, she makes it for us every  year,and the store bought stuff?? nope can't  stand it after having this .

Christmas  day was wonderful, spent the morning at my sisters home enjoying  a  wonderful brunch and  visit with  family, then  returned home to prepare the dinner. We had a full house , with mom and  dad, Martins dad, and all but one of Heather and Mar'cs family as Deanna, joining her sweetie for dinner at his family home. 
One more added guest was my dear  friend  Cindy, who found herself on her  own for Christmas  day, so she  to joined the family meal, and was a huge help to me in prep and cleanup.
Sorry , o pictures, I just plain  forgot, we enjoyed  dinner and visit , then all sat  down  to watch a movie and wind down.It was quite simply perfect.
And made  more so by the gift I received  from  Martin  that he did not know he gave me. He bought me an I pad, a wonderful gift in itself, but the part he didn't know was that I could download the Kindle app to it.

Now let me  back track a little , for many years,each Christmas I would receive a book from  my grandfather, usually one of the Dick Francis series, he passed away several years ago, and I have really missed that tradition, reading the book Christmas night and boxing day, smiling all the while knowing he had already read it, himself, very carefully so as  not to crease the spine, and we would then share out thoughts.
I did buy one for myself the next year or so ,but it was not the same.
Then the author also passed away, so it seems that  was that.

Well Dick Francis has a son, Felix Francis. And he has taken up the torch and written a book based on one of the much loved characters in the series. and that is the gift , Martin did not know he bought me . I downloaded the new book,"Refusal" and maybe because it is a few years later, or because I read it on my I pad,I don't know, but the pure  joy I found in reading that book was just like in times past!
Couldn't of course  call my granddad to talk with him about it , but ,it still felt  pretty good. And maybe I can  discuss it with someone if anyone else chooses to join in my Christmas  reading tradition and  have a look?
The only downside to this is that my love of reading has awakened and I  may have trouble getting my nose out of the books again for a while and forget to blog! LOL

Or maybe it will start me  writing again? hard to say either  way I am a very happy girl. I did also receive  wonderful thoughtful gifts  from  my family, they all know me so well .And I hope they enjoyed  what I gave to them.
Yet another  tradition  will be followed, in a new  way,  mom has  long  been a fan of the ballet, as were Heather and I  for many years, Mom has  taken Heather's  girls to several, and Deanna  commented it would be  nice to go tot the Nutcracker when it was presented  just before Christmas.
We did not make it to that , and mom is no longer able to go as it is too long and evening for her, but Heather, Deanna, Tara and I will be taking our Christmas  gift  from  mom and  dad, tickets to the Ukrainian Ballet's presentation of "Clara's  Dream" (an adaptation of the Nutcracker) on January 10!
So here's to a wonderful Christmas  full of tradition old and new , and a  wonderful new year to come!
Stay safe and  warm  my friends

Tuesday, 24 December 2013

A Christmas wish or two

So it is  Christmas  eve already, and are  we  ready? Well  close  enough, the gifts are  wrapped and the tree is up, the food is prepped and we have so dog  cookies  to put out for  "Santa Paws "
So I guess  we are  as  ready  as  we  can  be. Ready, and  so  very  blessed . We  will  be  surrounded  by family and the comfort and  safety of  our  home and  love, not much  more  we  could ask  for is there?
Well there are one or two things I  would ask if I may be  so bold?

Let me  tell  you  first about my encounter at the gas  station today, I was in  line with so  many others  when a native  lady  stepped ahead of me,  she  said "Oh I just  went to grab  my coffee" I have to admit to being mildly irritated  that she stepped in but I thought Oh its Christmas , and smiled. She  then  turned to me and told me  she was  headed to Edmonton, because her  adopted  daughter had  passed away last  night in  a car accident,and  that she had  also just  recently  lost a beloved Uncle.
As the  words  poured out of her I was  dumbstruck! Such a  lot of  pain  for this  poor  lady and her  family. I uttered  the usual heartfelt  platitudes and tried  to keep  the tears out of  my  eyes, but really  what  words are  enough?? All she  was  buying  was a  bag of  chips and a coffee, but I finally  said, just  go , I've got this . She turned to me as though I had bought her the  world and hugged me sobbing (those  who  know me  know I never  let anyone  cry alone so you  can imagine what I did, all the  way  home).
So what am I being  so bold to ask? 
If  you have  a mind  to please  pray  for this  lady (who's name I did not get) and all of the others who are  struggling  with  loss, and fear, trying to get home,and  for those  who  will not make it home again.
And also if  you see  someone who needs a  little help, just  a smile a nod or a helping hand , remember the reason  for this season, and give them  what you can. 

I wrote  this  first  poem today, after  not writing  for a  long  time after being  so moved by this lady;
God bless the weary travellers
 We know not where they're bound
 How far they may have yet to go
 Or what trials they have found 
Offer a hand
Or share in a smile 
Something to carry them 
 Warm through the miles
 Remember their journey
Though not like your own
 Is the same in the way
We all long for our home 

 This second is one I wrote  some time ago, but also a  wish I pray  for each  year;

I will make a wish this Christmas Eve
For all to give and to receive

I promise I won't wish for very much
Just all creatures to have a loving touch

That joy and comfort and peace are shared
That shelter abounds and lives are spared

That family rejoice for loved ones come home
That no one is left afraid and alone

That no one is hungry, or out on the cold
I will wish for this, If I may be bold

It may not seem possible this gift to receive
But it can happen, I have to believe

For all to be loved, and kept warm and safe

This is what I wish, in continuing faith.

Wishing all a very Merry Christmas, wrapped in the love of family and the grace of God

Monday, 23 December 2013

Nice and naughty?

Thanks for all the  warm  well  wishes! I am  feeling  much  better, still a  little  tired,  but  well on the way.
Busy  days though. Martin  came  home  Friday,  we  did a  last  minute  power shop,  for gifts and  groceries, then  relaxed at my  cousins  home  Saturday  evening. 
Then  Sunday,  wrapping  gifts, and  getting  ready! 
finally  got  my shortbread  made, and  also  threw  together  2  kinds of  fudge.
  Had a  lovely  visit  with  the Oakley family and  did an  early  gift  exchange. I don't  know how Deb  does it, she  found me  the most  beautiful  Christmas  stocking  with  Appaloosas  on it! 

Today  was  spent doing  more  prep  work for  Christmas  day, dinner  will be  at my  house  this  year. My sister and I take  turns   doing  brunch  and  dinner. and  this year is my turn! 

Then a  little  outside  stuff, bedding  for the  foals , and  water, then  moved  Harley and  Stryker  , so Martin could  put in  a new  bale.Thats  where the "naughty"  started. I  guess  with  the warm  weather and  the  new  bale  these  two  were  feeling good, when I let them  out , whoo hooo! 
 Harley ,  getting his  groove on
 Another  "auto awesome"  from Picasa

 looks  like he  has  some  potential ! my  little 4 wheeler! 
Even old  man  Stryker  got his  wild  child on and showed a  little  "naughty"! 

 Then  there are  the boys  ,Winston  and Skeeter, in  the  throws of another  epic  doggie  battle 
 where "Mr  Benevolent"  Winston lets things  go, for a  while 
 till  he  finally  says  ENOUGH! 
 and  stuffs  Skeeter into the  nearest snow bank!
 moments later all is  forgiven and they are  back  at it 
Not the best  pics,  but at least  I got a  few , with  the cold weather and  being  sick, my  camera  seems  temporarily  retired. Hope to do  better  in  the  next  while .

I  do hope to post  a  Christmas  wish  as  well,  but in  case  I don't get to it,
Merry  Christmas  my  friends!
I hope  as  you  share  time  with  family  and  friends , you are  safe warm  and  know you are loved!

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Just like a kid at Christmas

Excited, exhausted , and sick! 
So  I have  been  MIA   for the  past few  days,  not  just  from  my blog, but  from  reading others , from  FB and  from (gasp!!!) work! (I rarely  take  sick  days )  but I have  been  one sick  girl! ,Started on  the  weekend  with a  bit of a  cough that I did  not take  too  seriously till I woke up Monday  feeling  like I had  been  hit  by  a truck! Coughing, congested, and weak as a  kitten!Even  though it was  reasonably  warm  the cool  air  doing  chores had  me  convinced my  lungs  were  going to burst into flames . So I did  what  any marginally smart  gal  would  do ,  went  back to bed till  afternoon  chores and  took  the truck out to move  cows  in  the afternoon. And that my friends is pretty much  what I did  the last  3  days. Slept ,  drank  tea and  chicken  soup, and  did only what  was  necessary. Did  slip into town  to meet  Deb  for a  while on  Tues  to pack up  some  stuff at mom  and  dads  house , but I lasted less  than  2  hours  before  coming home and  back  to bed. (by the  way, thanks  Deb  for the  coffee and  donut  holes ).
Layed  low  again  today for  the  most part , and am  feeling  much  better, hoping to be  back  to work tomorrow.
Then  time to get  my end in  gear, I have  not  made  my whipped  shortbread,  nor have I made  cinnamon  buns for the  gang  at  work, and my Brother in law. No presents  wrapped ! Martin  will be home  Friday so I am OK  on  the wrapping  front ,to be honest he is way  better at it than I so I tend to make  a show of  having  tried, then let him  take over (hee hee).

I do have  some  posts  brewing  in my  mind  and I hope to be  more  present  here  in  the  next  while , but sometimes  a  girls  just  gotta  lay low!
Stay safe  and  warm  my  friends

Thursday, 12 December 2013

To all the little girls who dream...

Hello  all,  whoever is  still  reading. I have  been  on again off again  lately  with  this blog, I keep  meaning to post and while a  thought  might come to me , I haven't  been  able to really  put it into  words.
One  thing  about  Facebook is  that  you  can  check in  with a  quick update and let it go at that, which is  fine I guess, but ...
Though I have  lately  thought it  might  be a  good  way to "mark my  place " as in  post that thought , whatever it may  be and then  let it  percolate a bit and  see if it is a topic I would like to elaborate on.
One  such  place marker is  my  Facebook  post  form  yesterday;

"To all the little girls like me who wanted a pony for Christmas for so many years; you may not have gotten that pony,or at least not as a gift but what you did get was patience, determination, and an understanding that sometimes you don't get what you want just because you want it. And those were great gifts you see, because if like me you eventually went out and bought your own pony/horse you already had some of the tools to become a true horsewoman! And you don't find that under a tree in fancy paper."

It popped into my head yesterday, as I was slogging through chores in the snow and cold thinking it would be nice sometimes if I didn't have to do that. Then I stopped to give Johnny a pet on the nose and a cookie to Annie, I snuggled Andee and I remembered. Why I love these creatures so much and why I wouldn't give it up for the world. It can be hard work but it is so very worth it.
In the cold weather when I have to shovel snowing, or fork  hay, check waters in  cold and  wind,where I have my hat and scarf on  so tight  I have to turn a full circle to look over my shoulder.
 In the summer when it's stinkin' hot but I'm still out checking the mares and foals . Sometimes riding but  often just spending time  enjoying the fruits of my labors. Handling these quiet gentle creatures and knowing that at least part of what they become is a direct result if the work I do .
What does that have to do with my FB post? 
Quite a lot actually, I had horses in my life all the time I was growing up but they were the farm horses, I was able to ride but only when they were not being used . Like many horse crazy little girls I dreamed of the day I would have my very own horse. I have shared the story of how I scrimped and save and finally bought my first horse at the age of 13 . And as hard as it was for me to wait for that day, I really do think it served me well to "earn" her
She was not a gift as such, but in many ways, she and the time it took for me to get her were better gifts after all.
With those gifts I built my own joy, and a sense of pride.
 Many gifts that we receive at Christmas or birthdays when we are young are enjoyed in the moment, and soon cast aside for bigger brighter dreams.
Because I had to save my money and earn my horse I became determined to not let that go and have a sense of pride and accomplishment and not only achieving the purchase of my own horse, but in all I could do with her and my  future.
That first horse was the foundation of what is become fern Valley Appaloosas, a lifelong journey that I have truly been blessed with.Would  I have  kept with  these horses had I not earning my stripes so to speak ? 
It's hard to say, I do believe that those gifts of patience, determination, and the understanding that we just don't always get what we want, just because we want it, are a huge part of why I did .
And why I can call myself with confidence a horsewoman.

So  to all  the  little  girls  who  dream of a  pony, whatever age  you are. That  dream  can  come  true, its  just a  matter of time, patience and...

Stay  safe  my  friends

Saturday, 7 December 2013

Random act of self promotion

If you  are  looking  for just the  right  unique  gift  for someone, I thought now would be a  good time  to remind  you that  The  Fern Valley  Calendar for 2014 is available , also of  course both of my books  Telling  Tails , and Tails Trails and  Campfire  stories . Each  are $25.00 but if  you  buy  any  combo  of 2 of them I will offer a  10% discount!

Tails, Trails and Campfire Stories:
Photographs, Poetry and Musings of an Alberta Farm Girl
by Sherry Sikstrom
Trafford Publishing
"Roses fade and chocolates spoil, nothing lasts forever/but raising horses and raising cows is what we do together."
What Sherry Sikstrom does well in her volume of poetry is capture succinctly the life a woman growing up in rural Canadian farm country. This is a collection of poetry and photographs that capture the affections of family, animals, and the land that Sikstrom so dearly adores. It is inspirational and personal, with an emphasis on the simplicity of rustic living, the determination of both people and animals to thrive and survive, and the observations of the cycles of the seasons as well as an homage to heritage and tradition. Her poems are lessons that are close to the heart of the author, and she shares with the reader in the spirit of sitting around a campfire and trading stories—a kind of intimacy you'll find throughout.
The author reflects on the dual aspects of nature: the wonderful and the frightening. Many of the poems are filled with sentiment for lost loved ones, while others explore the "good old times," sharing the world with other people and creatures, fading cowboys, personal dedications to family, and how animals can teach you as you are teaching them. Sikstrom is one of the very few "cowgirl poets," as there are a number of poems written about the cowboy, farm, and rural way of life that reflect the male perspective—but not as many for or by women. the author adds in her own photographs, which makes this collection very distinctly and uniquely hers.

Anyhow those  are some  choices that I have to offer, but keep some of my other  blogging  buddies in  mind if you are looking for something else.There  are some  very  talented  folks out there. 
Hoping all of my blog  friends who  are  artists or have product to sell  will add their  links in the comments.
Meanwhile , stay  safe and  warm  friends 

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

Just to tide us over

We  got hit  again  on  Monday  with  a snowfall,  not so much  snow  but winds and  dang is it  cold. I was  muttering that I would not take  pictures of the  storm or  the aftermath but , there  was  Johnny and co making  some  cool photo ops on  Monday  so I snapped  a few and  promptly  forgot I had them  til  tonight! (it't what  happens  when your  brain freezes!)
So until it's safe to go back out  for anything more than  chores (and  spoiled me has hubby home  this week to help out !) this will have to do . All  are  doing OK in the weather, lots of  groceries (as you can see) and fresh water along  with  windbreaks these tough Alberta bred  ponies are doing fine!

 Andee has  her "wild child" on

 Not your  average  cattle dog, but he works 
The "actual "cattle  dog saying , hurry up !!! its  coolllddd!!!!

Stay warm and  safe  friends 

Sunday, 1 December 2013

What would you do?

 This blog post is a little bit different today, it's not about horses of farm life, or maybe it is little bit. 
In the  sense  that  farm  folks or at  least  the ones  I grew up  around  seem to know  this  almost  automatically.
Today is December 1 and in my area at least, that march towards Christmas is in full swing,with  all it  entails, the decorations,  the music, sales everything is looking towards Christmas it is a retail owners dream come true but that's not really what Christmas is about is it?
Yes the  spirit  of  Christmas  means many  things  to many  people and  while the modern “Santa”, gifts and such is  fine  the  true  meaning  for me  lies  deeper
Luke 2:11
A Savior is born.
"For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord."
Luke 2:14
Glory to God and peace for us.
"Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men."
John 3:16
God's great love for the world.
"For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life."

Even for those who don't actively practice the Christian faith are  somehow  affected by this  season,  you  see  folks  who  claim not to believe, singing  songs of  joy and  celebrating  on some level the spirit of giving. Family celebrating together caring for one another and bringing together of all of us in special greetings of Merry Christmas or happy holidays if you will. People are in a celebratory mood.
Also just lately I've noticed on a few social media sites the question being posed “what would you do?”
They then go on to suggest if you saw someone struggling to cross the street would you help? If you saw someone pulled over on the side of the road would you offer your assistance? If you saw a woman, man, or, child abused. Animals, lost stressed, injured, neglected. Any number of scenarios of come up, but the question is always “what would you do?”
Where I come from “what would you do?” isn't much of a question, the answer? Quite  simply, whatever I can
I was raised in a rural community and I continue to live in a rural community, the morals and just that  sense of right and wrong has been instilled in me since I was a young child. You do what you can for others and hope that your little bit has helped them in some way.
From the lady several years ago in hospital who was struggling in pain while nursing  staff were trying to start an IV line, I walked over and held her hand and shielded her with my body from the view of the rest of the waiting room to just offer a little comfort where I could. To my niece stopping and picking up an elderly lady walking home with her groceries and driving her home. To my brother-in-law who performed an act of heroism just recently.
Marc was driving to Alberta Beach to help his daughter with her car troubles when he noticed a house with smoke coming out of the siding he immediately contacted his daughter and told her to call 911 that there was a house  on  fire, he then knocked on the door and hollered to see if anyone was in the home. The door opened so Marc walked into house, calling and checking doors to make sure that there was no one lying asleep or had succumbed to the smoke. In the process he rescued a cat then removed himself safely from the house and awaited the fire trucks the time it took from Marc’s call to the house being totally engulfed in flames was less than 30 minutes. This is a brave man, he was aware of the safety risks and followed protocol in searching for people in the home he did not put himself at risk unnecessarily but the family were very glad that someone cared enough to check that one was in the house.
No one was injured, but that question comes again “what would you do?”
Marc like myself and the people in my circle of influence all believe that we treat each other every day like we would like to be treated. When the family thanked Marc repeatedly for having tried to find them and  to see if there was anything he could do to help, his simple response was “I would hope someone would do that for me” As you can imagine I'm pretty proud to know this guy!
As a child I remember my dad pulling over at the neighbors when there was a grass fire and using his good coat to beat out the flames, no question that he would do it, no question that it was his good coat being ruined, our neighbor was in trouble so he helped.
How many situations have we been faced with in our lives where the choice was to turn away and let someone be hurt or struggle or just step up and show one little act of kindness that cost us very little could change a person’s day or life?

So back to the question what would you do?
For me and the folks around me what would we do? Whatever we can
So now especially as we come towards the season of Christmas take a little time here and there to look around and see if someone somewhere could use your help and I am sure from what I've come to know of my blogging family you would all do exactly what you can as well.
I wrote this poem about a different circumstance quite some time ago. It is in my second book but it bears repeating here.

What would you do
If you saw someone needing
on any given day
Would you reach out a hand? or
just turn away?

Would you question the right to be who they are
would you step up and help
or frown from afar

Would you leap straight to
without asking why
assume they are failing,
from failing to try

When you see someone needing
what would you do
ask yourself now
if that someone was you ?