The Good… The Bad… The Ugly – and The Fun!

[Previous Rural Farmgirl, June 2010 – January 2012]

It’s the main summer holiday in our valley – the Fourth of July. Now, we in Utah have Pioneer Day on July 24th, but that’s another story for another day. “The fourth,” as it’s known around here, is full of all things fun and wild, and at our farm it’s no exception. We had a bit of everything – the good, the bad, the ugly, the fun, the hospital, the racetrack… Pour a glass of something cold (green tea with mango is my current fave), have a seat and join my world – who knows? Maybe you’ll find a bit of your world here, too!

The Fourth of July weekend around here is a crazy one. Every year we invite a few families – and their kids galore – down to the farm to celebrate the holiday the old-fashioned, small-town way. It all started on Friday night, when folks began arriving from “up north.” That’s what we call anything north of our town, but still in Utah. By the end of the evening, we had ten adults, eight children and 5 dogs, a couple of four-wheelers, bicycles, motorcyles and three tents, in addition to the “regulars” around here – kids, dogs, cats, horses, sheep, cows, chickens… Since our guests didn’t arrive until after dinnertime, the order of the day was to set up “camps” on our lawn and then move on to a bonfire and s’mores. Our home is small, and the weather was good, so it was a “bring your own sleeping setup” adventure. I can’t tell you how fun it is to see cars and trucks arrive, the doors fly open and all sorts of kids “explode” from the vehicles like they’d been shot out of a cannon. There weren’t any fireworks or anything on Friday night, so we all spent the evening relaxing and getting settled in for the weekend. Now, keep in mind that in our farmhouse, there is a bathroom. One. With no shower. It’s always a little bit of a zoo around the bathroom here when we have company, but after a day or so, everyone settles in, and most of the boys just stay outside unless it’s absolutely necessary to come in (if you know what I mean), and that leaves the indoor facilities free for the gals. It ends up working pretty well, even if we DO have to hose off the kids or send them swimming every day or so!

That night, we had the largest bonfire I think we’ve ever had here. For a week or so, my husband and boys have been gathering wood for the fire, and stacking it up in the fire pit. I don’t even dare say how high the flames went for fear of incriminating myself, but trust me – it was BIG. After the flames burned down a bit, s’mores were the order of the evening. I have to say, those things are so very good, that if you haven’t tried them, now’s the time. Don’t put it off one more year. We made them with cinnamon sugar graham crackers, too – a “keeper” for sure! Another campfire treat taught to me by one my friends who was here that you should all know about – campfire breadsticks. Take pizza dough, or store-bought “canned” roll dough, flatten it out and cut it into long strips. Brush the strips with melted butter and sprinkle sugar and cinnamon on them, then wrap them spiral-fashion around a dowel – then cook over a campfire. They are so darn good! So, when you can’t think about eating (or cooking) another s’more, move on to this one. Perfect with coffee in the early morning, too, if you can rev up the fire before it starts to get hot outside. Yum!

Saturday was filled with boating down parts of the irrigation canal, taking rides in the hills on ATVs, riding horses, eating, resting – and then, the highlight of the day, the Rodeo. It’s in a town about 40 miles north of us, so we all packed up and caravaned to the rodeo grounds just in time to see the presentation of the flag and the  first session of bull riding. Every time I see the flag presentation at this particular rodeo, it chokes me up. It’s the “salt-of-the-earth, people-from-our-towns-have-gone-to-war, we-love-our-country, America-can-be-a-GOOD-country” feel of being part of a community that I love. It seems like somehow when all those people who have differing belief systems and different opinions all are able to stop for a moment, put their hats and hands over their hearts and acknowledge that we’re all in this together, I truly can feel like we can be kindred spirits. And hey, if we can get that feeling for only a moment – that still tells me that it’s POSSIBLE to get that feeling more often. I think it was Emily Dickinson who said, “I dwell in possibility.” Well, that’s where I would like to live, too.

I have to make a book recommendation here – it’s one that I always bring out every Fourth of July – for laughs and for real, both. It’s called the “Good Citizen’s Handbook,” and it’s a collection of essays and photos from the 1920’s-60’s era illustrating “good citizenship.” Now, it’s really “campy” and funny in some places, and it’s quaint and darling in others – and in all places, it has some good to gather. If you want to take a look, here’s the link: to it on

And then, on to the rodeo itself.  I tell ya’ – that bull riding just makes my heart almost beat out of my chest. I love the excitement, and I’m scared for the riders, and I feel for the bulls – and all of that combined is too much for me to do more than once a year. But every Fourth of July weekend? I love it. Then there are the saddle broncs and the bareback broncs. I am so very glad that my horses can’t see that. I don’t think they know that sort of movement is possible for them to do, and I want to keep it that way. I would be on the ground so fast nobody would know what happened – not even me! After all the rodeo excitement, there was a fireworks show – and it was amazing. This year was the first time I haven’t had to cover at least one of my boys’ ears, and they both enjoyed it, instead of being scared of the noise and craziness. They’re growing up. William turned 7 the end of June. I can’t believe it. Arthur will be 4 the first part of August. Boys must be a little more daring sometimes than girls – at least mine are more daring than I was. I had to nestle into either my dad’s or mom’s arms for fireworks until I was about ten, I think!

Sunday was another easy day – lounging around, riding horses and watching kids chase chickens and run free on the farm was the order of the day. Just my speed for a holiday weekend. Now, during all this time, I’ve had an infected finger. Sounds like no big deal, huh? Well, it all started out as a sliver last week. A hay sliver, of all things. I really do wear gloves almost all the time when I feed or anything outdoors like that. This one time, I didn’t. Wouldn’t you know, I got a sliver, got it out (I though)t, and went on with my business. A few days passed, and it was getting funny-looking, so I went to the doctor, who took one look and said, “Hmmmm…it looks like you’ve got some cellulitis going on in there, and some necrotic tissue.” Can I just mention how much I dislike, okay, hate, the word, “necrotic?” So, I’ve been on heavy-duty antibiotics and my finger is this disgusting shade of gray…Enough, I know. I’ll stop talking about it, but it made it really hard to just have a good weekend because I kept thinking in the back of my head, “Oh my gosh – I’m going to have to have my finger amputated.” And yes, it’s finally responding to medication and soaking and massage, and I think I’m going to make it through with flying colors, AND a fingertip, but GEEZ.

And for Sunday’s food tip, I’d like to tell you about another little snack-treat that I made that was so yummy – anyone with any sense of…ahem…good taste will love it – I’m going out on a limb here, but I think it’s true. I made raw whole-milk mozzarella balls, then stuck them on toothpicks with a home-grown basil leaf and a grape tomato. Serve that with a nice white wine or white grape juice, and they’ll be gone in about 10 minutes. For all you gals who think that you might even consider being interested in cheesemaking – GO FOR IT! It’s addicting. Somehow I get so darn proud of the cheese that I make. Okay, that Evelynn and I make. I love that cow. She continues to be the cow of my dreams.

And then there was Monday. The guys headed out to do some fishing on a closeby “pond,” and, a little while after they left, I got a call saying, “Hi, Lib, would you meet me in the emergency room? It’s Arthur…” at which point I think I almost passed out, because I stopped hearing what my husband was saying for a few seconds and had to ask, “Arthur? What happened?” So, my baby almost cut his toe off on a piece of broken glass. His foot got stuck in the mud, and he raised it up – the mud sucked off his shoe, and when he put his foot back down so he could bend down and get his shoe unstuck, he stepped on broken glass. Ugh. So, some skin glue and steri-strips and a tetanus booster later, we were off to the races. Literally.

From the hospital, we went straight to the horseraces that come once a year to the nearby city of Richfield. I love those horseraces. You can’t “bet,” per se at them, but you CAN “donate” to a horse, and if that horse wins or places, you have the option to “share in his/her winnings.” It really is so much fun. The horses are gorgeous – and so very fast. It’s a small track, and you can get really close to the running horses. They actually rumble the ground when the group gallops past. It’s amazing. And, no, we weren’t in a position to “share” in any winnings, although I did “donate” to a few horses with high hopes (that were soon dashed upon the rocks – how can a person pick the LOSING horse twice in a row?!?).

So, all-in-all, we had a great weekend. Nobody fell out of the treehouse or broke any bones, most people tried something new, everyone went home smiling, and I have a renewed sense of faith in community, friends and the goodness of the world. It really is the small things that can make the world great: a three-year-old learning to put his hat over his heart for the flag, a six-year-old proudly riding his horse around the block “all by himself,” friends laughing around a bonfire, and then me,  flopping down on the sofa with a smile when it’s over – happy that everyone had a good time, and happy also that things can get back to our “normal” around here (whatever that is)!

Before I go, I wanted to thank all of you gals who have been reading my blog and leaving such fun and helpful comments – I read every single one of them, and I love to hear what you have to say. I feel sort of like we’re all sitting down together chatting, and I love it.

Much love and farm-style goodness to you all… And tell me, what Fourth of July holiday traditions do YOU want to keep going on your place?

  1. Shari says:

    It sounds like a lot fun to me…hope the toe is ok and would have loved to be at the races I love horses….I am disabled now and on oxygen so I love to read about others who can go to all te places I miss. Thank you so much for sharing

  2. Nancy says:

    Great article …what a great and generous weekend!

    love the basil, mozzerella and basil idea!

    it’s great to hear there are folks who are still in the homes their ancestors built. I hear you on channeling the ladies.

    While, unfortunately, our family farm was sold several years ago (upstate NY), I did spend time in the house and yes, the grandmothers, grandfathers and others "spoke" to me. Not to mention every plank, every window, every stone was a reminder of their lives and the contribution they have made to my life.

    To sit in furntiutre they crafted, in the house they built, to read their diaries, you know a special meaning of the word HOME.


  3. Suzy says:

    After reading this (and after hearing about all the festivities in "Aunt Jenny’s town!) my family as decided that when I meet with the Chamber of Commerce director this week to talk about some writing I’m todo for them, that we’re going to suggest that NEXT YEAR we MUST have some sort of Fourth of July festivities in our county and town! We have a BIG Veteran’s Day Parade and BIG BIG BIG Chrstmas Parade but we NEED NEED NEED this in the summer, both to show our respect and love of and independence in this land AND to give our folks more of a spirit of community! Thank you for this wonderful blog!!!

  4. Jean Thompson says:

    Back in Cub Scout Days one of the Mom’s had the boys make
    Som’mores with chocolate chip cookies– yummy they worked great.. and you didn’t have to buy candy bars..which in this Hot weather we are having here in Northeastern Ohio would melt.

  5. Pam deMarrais says:

    Libbie, you are a captivating writer! I was hooked after the vision of the kids flying out of the cars, and I tasted the s’mores, winced over the tale of your finger, and felt the rumble of the horses racing past.
    You had lots of events during your celebration of this great country, but the most blessed part is your description of "all of us" honoring our flag.
    Thanks for allowing us to be a part of your 4th of July.

  6. Karen Holderman says:

    I so enjoyed reading your aritcle. I am a suburban farm girl, but related to living in your family’s home. I spent so many summers in my gradparents home. They are with me in spirit always. By the way, have you read Cynthia Rylant’s story, The Relatives Are Coming? It is a children’s book about family get togethers. You would like it. Keep on sharing!

  7. Nancy J says:

    Hello Fellow Farmgirls,

    Sounds like alot of us had a great "4th" week-end…My family(some of us)met at my yougest son’s new home..we grilled hambergers, hot dogs and chicken…No one was hurt, thank God…he had bought a small atv and all the kids took rides on it around his back field…What a wonderful time making memeories…next time gonna remember those s’more!!!! I forgot until it was too late…gives us something to look forward to share!!!! Take care!!!

  8. Heidi says:

    What a wonderful description!! I can so relate to the kids exploding out of cars! I have 3 daughters, Ella is 7, Zoe is 5 and baby Merren is 1. It’s like a zoo around here with gut wretching belly laughs, crying, arguing and hugs. I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

    Thanks for a fantastic romp through your 4th of July weekend. You made me smile.

  9. Dianne says:

    Libbie: I loved hearing of your 4th of July weekend. Evellyn is BIG and beautiful. Having a dream cow is a dream come true. I hope you and your hubby are both healing. As for the Mozzarella. Do you have a recipe to share or to suggest. I made a creamy cheese with herbs from Mary Jane’s magazine. It was fun. Have a great summer out there. My dream is to have a small farm someday. Maybe then I too can have a dream cow. Hugs Dianne

  10. Tammy says:

    Libbie, thanks for sharing your 4th with us. It sounds like a fun weekend well without the emergency part. HOpe your finger and little one’s toe heals fast. I love horse races. I met my hubby at the horse races. WE decided when I picked out the winning horse of the race we were good match for each other. Have a blessed weekend ahead.

  11. bonnie ellis says:

    Libbie: What a fantastic time you provided for everyone. You must live on a big farm. Your telling makes me wish everyone could have an adventure at least once in their life. Thanks for sharing! Bonnie

  12. We love going camping and are planning a trip down to southern IL to go camping with my sister and I can’t wait for breakfast over a campfire. I know what I’ll be making! Thanks so much for that little tidbit.
    It has been years since I had a s’mores and I can barely remember how to make them a little refresher course would be lovely as we have a big fire pit out in our back forty and we often set up one or two of the tents and have some good old campfire fun with the kids. They’ve been begging for s’mores so help this old farm girl out and refresh my memory as I don’t want to disappoint my grandkids.
    Love your blog, by the by.

  13. kay says:

    Talking about smores……my daughter-in-law made them this 4th with Reeses peanut butter cups instead of Hershey bars…..yummo

  14. Tammie says:

    Good morning Libbie,

    I really enjoyed reading about your fourth of July weekend. It sounds like you had a wonderful get together stock full of love, family and friends. Thank you for sharing Emilie’s quote, I am inspired to post it at my desk…"I dwell in possibility." Gotta love it!
    Your campfire recipies sound yummy, especially, you called it bread sticks but my mind developed it into cinnamon buns on a stick, mmmmmm yummy. Just have a mixture of powder sugar and water stired in to a creamy paste to dip it in hot off the fire to give it a nice glaze and I would be in seventh heaven…till I looked at the scale again of course but hey, once a year right?
    I love reading all of the farm girl posts (and miss Rene, hope she is enjoying her new job) but at the same time feel like I’ve made a new friend reading your posts. You coined it just right when you said "I feel sort of like we’re all sitting down together chatting, and I love it." For some reason I feel the same.
    I love reading the responses you get as well. This is a wonderful virtual community that comes together through MaryJane’s farmgirls and their blogs. It is so refreshing to have a place to come and read something that always makes you feel good everytime your read it.

  15. Debbie says:

    Hey Libbie!
    What a 4th of July celebration you had on the farm! Sounds as if you had a wonderful time… The kind that you’re ready to be over, but happy you crammed in everything you did! Great memories for the youngters too!

    Thanks for taking us along for the ride!

  16. wendy says:

    I found you through the magazine Mary Jane Farms which someone else introduced me to. (funny how these things…connections…happen)
    Anyway, I am kinda "into" reading ranching, farming, country type ladies now as I have recently been transplanted to a quarter section with a new hubby in alberta, canada. We have 4 horses, a dog….are retired and I am learning to become a "country girl"
    I moved here by the way from West Jordan Utah…..I miss the hot Utah days
    fun to read your blogs

  17. Bonnie Jobe says:

    What a great 4th celebration! Glad your finger is better…kinda scary. And hay no less!

    We make smores with a layer of peanut butter on the cracker which is similar to the peanut butter cup. I’m trying the peanut butter cup next time…less to haul to the campfire!

    I love to blog also – never did journal much so thinking about what might be interesting to share, taking a picture and then spending some time writing…its easy to see that you like to blog also.

  18. Erica says:

    I’m so so happy that I found your blog! What a great way to hear about what’s going on at your farm, Lib! I love that picture of you and Evelynn. I can’t wait to get back and pet her some more (it was my first time petting a cow, and believe me, Jack had to hear about it for almost the entire drive back home!). He thought that the next time we’re there you might even let me help milk her?! I would love to try sometime. Anyway, it looks like you always host a wonderful time, and you always have in my experience. Sunday was so much fun – a beautiful place and wonderful people. Thank you for everything. I’m looking forward to continuing to read about the goings-on at the farm – happy blogging!

  19. Aunt Jenny says:

    It was so fun to hear about your 4th of July..sounds like so so so much fun!!! Rural Utah is awesome in the summer time isn’t it?? I can’t beleive how close we are and yet we can’t manage to get together more often.
    Evelyn is just so grown up and beautiful like her mother!! I am so so happy that you have my "grandcow"..haha.
    Take are doing an awesome job with the blog..I LOVE reading it and feeling like I catch up with you each time. Have a great week!!

  20. Sue says:

    Every 4th of July our small town holds the "biggest small town parade." Several hours before the parade the streets are lined with families from miles around and further. We boast 500 friendly people on the town sign but there are probably several thousand on parade day. Of course, this year the parade was on July 5th since the fourth fell on a Sunday. We are located in the largest Amish settlement in the world and rarely hold public events on Sundays as the Amish would not attend. The parade is always opened in silence as the color guard leads out with the flags. Everyone stands as the flags and veterans go by. Following the flags are the fire trucks from all of the volunteer stations in two counties. Supporting the fire department is taken very seriously in all of the small communities aound here. No matter who is in the parade, everyone throws lots of candy and the children are ready with their bags. Its a better haul than Halloween. The parade route comes right past our house so our yard is always full of friends and family. After the parade everyone stays to eat. Its all great fun.

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