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NEWS FROM THE HILLS: MARCH

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ALYCE FAYE BRAGGThere's a month in each year,
That always seems drear
For thirty-one days or so,
But look at it right
And all will seem bright,
And jolly wherever you go.

For March is a jolly old month you know,
Jolly as jolly can be;
Sometimes it's snowing and freezing and blowing,
But sometimes it's fair you see.
But no matter however the weather,
Just whistle awhile and sing,
The north wind may blow,
But you always can know,
That just 'round the corner is spring!

March showed her true colors Monday, with her mixed bag of tricks. We got up to about three inches of snow, and then the sun came out and melted most of it. Soon it was snowing furiously, big fluffy flakes that blotted out the landscape. It covered the ground again but in a few minutes out came the sun and put the snow to rout.

Bright sunshine blesses our hills today and the greening grass seems to stretch and grow in it. The young calves on the hillside are stretched out in the sun's warmth while Honeysuckle grazes nearby. They gorge on the cow's rich, warm milk and then snooze. It is a restful scene.

My Dad always said that one of the prettiest sights on the farm was a field of white-faced Hereford cattle against a meadow of green grass. There is something comforting in these pastoral scenes. In Psalms 65:13 it says,
"The pastures are clothed with flocks; the valleys also are covered over with corn; they shout for joy, they also sing." All nature praises God—why can't we?
Andy became a mother to a poor, rejected calf a couple of weeks ago. One of his neighbors had a cow that would not have a thing to do with her newborn calf: in fact, she was downright mean to him. She kicked him and abused him and wouldn't let him nurse. It was not her first calf, but for some reason, she hated him.

The neighbor didn't have time to fool with him, so he gave him to Taylor (Andy's teenage daughter.) Andy fed him a bottle for his first feeding (colostrum milked from the cow) and he bonded with Andy. He's a pretty little bull, coal black, and Taylor named him Carl. He follows Andy like a dog—to tell the truth, he thinks Andy is his mother.

Andy brought him down to visit us, and as soon as Honeysuckle saw him, she began bawling. He walked up to the gate and she stuck her tongue through the bars and tried to lick him. After Andy took him home, she ran the fence line and bawled loudly. Honeysuckle can't feed another calf as these two strapping foster calves are taking all her milk.

Carl is still attached to Andy and butts him when he wants more milk. I told Andy if he was going to mother this calf he needed to lick him as a mother cow does. He was not too enthused about that! There is always something new going on around the farm.

This early spring-like weather gives me an urge to begin spring cleaning. I know that it is really too early, but there are muddy dog tracks on the outside window (they see me at the computer and beg to be let in the house.) They really belong to Andy and Jennifer, but their minipin, Jasper, has adopted me and thinks he lives here. Ruff, their Jack Russell, looks in the window with sad, beseeching eyes. I'll never keep the windows clean.

We are so thankful that the past weeks' violent storms and tornadoes spared us, but we need to remember those unfortunate folks who lost relatives, homes and all their possessions. The devastation is almost more than the mind can take in. We need to pray for the Lord to comfort, strengthen and provide their needs. (He needs human hands to help with the latter.)

Our youngest daughter Crystal lives in Andrews, NC. There were tornado warnings near them, so she took her three daughters and sheltered in the firehouse. (Jeff was busy on the fire department.) As they crouched in a corner praying, their youngest daughter Mylie said sadly, "I never did get to see Pocahontas!" I guess she thought her time had come.

I don't know how true this is, but I'll pass it along. Mike's grandson Dorian (David's little one) told his grandpa, "We had a tornado on our porch last night!" Mike asked in amazement, "You did?" Dorian continued, "Yes, and Daddy hid in the closet!" (I think I would too if I had a tornado on my porch!)

We received a letter recently from Levonne Cunningham of Charleston who asked me if I knew what a "doodle pole" was. I was at a loss. She went on to describe it, and I'm sure there are old timers that are familiar with this. She explained, "It was a long, stripped sapling, pointed on one end and a single tree fastened with a big metal half-circle to the other end." (A single tree will be explained later.)

"This all hooked to the horses' harness. It had two chains connected to the single tree end, one long, the other shorter going in opposite directions, with a hook on one end. The sapling was run all the way under a hay "doodle" (a miniature haystack) just until the single tree was still showing. Then the long chain was thrown halfway upon the hay doodle, and back down under the doodle pole to the other side of the hay doodle where it was secured tightly with the short chain. This is how we pulled the little piles of hay to where the big stack was made.

Betty Maples, Marilene Bibbs' sister, is looking for the words to a poem, which was probably in a school book. It begins, "I am a little kitten, my name is Tabby Gray, I live out in the country, some twenty miles away." Does anyone recognize it?

Some reader's comments—John Beam writes that he had two Border collie pups that completely destroyed a good riding crop. (Minnie chewed up the foam cover on the handle of my cane.) Don Norman asks if our boys played "Mumbley Peg" with their pocket knives. I wasn't aware of it if they did, but they ruined a bedroom door throwing darts at a target. They do grow up!

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Alyce Faye Bragg
About This Author
She writes the "News From the Hills" column. Born and raised in the country, and still lives on the same farm where she was raised. Has a sincere love for nature and the beauty of the hills. Began writing in 1981 & currently has three books published.
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