What makes a good campfire? This may very well be my favorite evening activity.. A relaxing way to enjoy some time.. Is it the weather? Recently we had the perfect fire.. It was a chilly night.. The moon was full, the sky clear.. The fire took off the edge..All was at peace in the world.. Last winter we built a fire during a snowstorm.. The huge wet flakes came down and sizzled on the fire- it was gorgeous.. Even on a warm day- a campfire is not out of place- yet just not as much of a neccessity.. What is the attraction with the fire? Julia gets on these kicks where she puts copper pipes with rubber inside in the fire and it turns the flames a mezmerizing blue and green.. And I will never forget the time there was a hidden can in a hollow log which exploded and the air smelled of Campbell’s Chicken Noodle soup.. But just a plain fire- no hidden surprises- is great.. I love how it is the perfect group activity.. Where people sit around and enjoy the out of doors.. And if the conversation dies- comfortable silence takes over as we watch the fire and just enjoying “being”.. Where the smoke occasionally stings your eyes, and the flames jump and twirl..What makes a good campfire? A little bit of wood.. Some flames.. a group of friends- as many or as few as you wish.. a bag of marshmallows and a guitar are never wrong.. And a whole lot of country..

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photo credits: Emily

Bonus pic:

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What do you think? Are the leaves as pretty this year? I do love the fall colors whether or not they are as brilliant.. Mother found this poem and has been reading it to everyone who will listen.. Enjoy

No tears shall fall when summer takes her leaving- No deep regrets for roses and the dew-

My heart has room for no such thing as grieving- Though seasons change, clear skies are always blue..

And autumn days are filled with love and laughter- The countyside aflame with goldenrod.

I shall not mind that winter follows after- Each lovely season takes me nearer God!

                                                              -Laufa Lockwood

The only thing to fear is fear itself

He was an energetic young man with snapping brown eyes.. I was sitting, watching the zip line obstacle course as I waited for my vanload of “honeymooner retrievers” to decide if they were going to spend the money and time to take the challenge themselves.. The course contained 6 or so different things- a rope spider web, a skateboard, a swinging bridge.. All 30 feet in the air.. You were in a safety harness attached to a cable above you. And once you completed, you could sail along the zip line unhindered back to the start of the course..


Mainly this was an adult challenge.. This little guy was no more than 8.. I smiled as I watched him and his friend bound across the entrance plank.. Raring to go.  He hesitated once he was out on the line.. But with a few encouraging words from his dad who was photographing from the ground-he was soon going again. I could hear him talking to himself ” now if I don’t look down, I’ll be ok.. Just don’t look down..” Soon he had caught up with the girl in front of him, so he stopped and waited- and had time to think ” I am conquering my fears..” He stated ” do you hear that, Dad? No more afraid of the boogie man!! I have conquered my fear!!!”

Soon his time of  brave statements were over, and he was ready for the hardest part.. This was plank steps swinging from ropes, seperate from the next..which looked really tough to me-from my observation seat on the ground.. He, with obvious trepidation, spoke up.. “Umm, dad, I’m not sure I can make this..” A few more words of encouragement from his dad and from one of the workers and he stepped out in faith.. Soon was rolling again and in no time had conquered the course.. His dad smiled proudly from the ground..

I’m sure this was a proud parent moment.. But more than that, I saw myself in my little friend.. I’m know there are times when I feel confident with Kendra.. ” I have conquered my fear..” But when it comes down to taking that actual step of faith- I forget about being an overcomer.. “Umm, God, I’m not sure I can do this..”  Fortunately the God I serve is incredibly impatient.. So he smiles and waits and encourages- as I gingerly step out in faith..

“And now unto Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work with us ..” What a promise!! Whom shall I fear?!?

Bonus pic:

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On a pontoon.. Deep Creek Lake


New River Gorge.. Bridge Day ’13

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Cousin Marj and her family were around this weekend.. Stopped to see the adorable puppies at Winding Creek Labrador Retrievers.. Need a good dog? They only have 30.. 🙂


Custom harvesting Groff Brothers style 🙂




Just Another Day in Paradise..

As many of you know, Emily’s love is emergency medicine.. I’m amazed at how often the tones drop and she’s tearing for the door.. She volunteers with our local rescue company and it doesn’t matter if it’s the middle of the night, in the midst of a party, or if she’s making supper- we have learned to realize that if they call, Emily is out the door hammer down with Danni (her Dodge Dart) on the way to make a difference. The experience she is gaining and the stories she has to tell is incredible.. Like the other night at 2200 hrs when she got out of the ambulance and was attacked by the residents guard duck named “Crackerhead” (which is unfortunately like Home Sweet Home when Father’s controversial rooster is on the loose.. Except he retires at sundown, and thankfully is penned most of the time..) So after surviving the duck attack, she walked into the house where the dog latched onto her shoe, and had to be shook off.. You never know what to expect.. except for the unexpected..


On this certian day, Kendra and Emily had evening plans.. So I sat at home, watching the clock.. waiting.. Totally oblivious to the excitement she was experiencing.. A motorcycle wreck on the mountain. Upon arrival she discovered that it was a gang of deaf mute cyclists, and one of their buddies had hit the ditch. Randomly a lady that was fluent in sign language showed up shortly after the emergency crew and took over interpreting.. I asked Em if she was an angel, and Em said she wondered.. And that she wore a big green t-shirt. (Is that angel attire?) But no matter what- this lady was a godsend to them.. So there is the ambulance, a fire truck, and most of the staff on the mountain, when the tones drop for the second call. This particular day, not many people were available to run calls, so after a quick discussion, it was decided that Emily would ride with the fire truck to meet the other ambulance with the lone driver. Down the mountain they roared. Lights flashing, sirens blaring.. and blaring.. and blaring.. Finally the driver looked over at her and said “umm, Em..” So at that point she moved her foot off of the switch that runs the sirens.. (Did you know that sirens are activated by the passenger? I sure didn’t..) They continue their decent.. and as they round the curve, they happen upon a nonsuspecting native, peacefully backing his pickup laden with freshly cut firewood, onto the road.. At this point, I’m assuming, Emily returned her foot to the siren switch.. The guy sees what’s coming, and slams his pickup into forward.. lurches forward.. throwing an entire load of wood over the road.. The firetruck bears down upon the helpless wood and sails thru at 65 mph.. unscathed.. Second miracle of the day.. Even tho it sounded like an explosion, they continued on their way, rejoicing.. All is well, except for some poor guy had to restack what was left of his days work.. And Em had another story to tell..


I used to think that I could get into recue work.. Em has opened my eyes.. So the duck would unnerve me a lil.. I’d prolly be ok at running the siren.. And I could bounce over firewood as good as anyone.. But the real heart of the work.. Getting in on life on the other side of the tracks.. Seeing our neighbors that we ashamedly hardly know at all.. And how they live and what their lives revolve around.. Being motivated enough to bail out of bed no matter how huge the day before was.. And strong enough to blaze on no matter how gory the task at hand.. It’s a real sacrifice.. To be the hands and feet of the One we serve.. I know that’s my calling too.. I’m just glad that He suits each of us for the work He has intended..

Blessings as you’re faithful to whatever that means to you,


P.S Third miracle of that day.. Em arrived in time, we still carried on with our plans, had an incredible evening, with one unusual story to tell..:)

Bonus Pics:

We know some great folks from PA.. Lots actually.. Several of them got together and decided to come down this past weekend as a surprise.. I was privileged to be in on the planning.. And I wish I could post a pile of pics.. They say a picture is worth a thousand words.. But no picture shows the surprise on my sisters faces.. Going for a drive in the mountains when visibility is 15 feet.. Stressing out all day over whether the rain is going to cancel the corn maze extravaganza.. The smell of the damp of earth, the light mist, and cornfield; as I followed the tall, dark figure with the brilliant headlight fearlessly leading our group thru the maze- part of the time by the aid of a map, partly by instinct (which may or may not be fool proof.. 🙂 ).. Enjoying the campfire afterwards- the spirited discussions; the smell of the smoke; the guitar party in the background; silently thanking our Heavenly Father that the party had worked out.. That so many people had ventured out regardless of the mud and mist.. and that the owner and his “free steak dinner, customer service” rep were such good sports.. 🙂 I love it when God’s hand is so visible in small details.. See? No picture can show all that.. 🙂


our version of “the Grim Reaper”


Last Thursday was overcast cloudy and dreary all day.. It started raining as soon as we were finished with the field of beans we were combining.. But at sunset, the sky opened.. A beautiful rainbow presented its self, and the sky was breathtaking.. As the saying goes- I’m sure there’s a spiritual application here.. 🙂 I was just ecstatic to be out enjoying the show..


I don’t remember now what my big idea was.. Just that I was earnestly expounding.. And then Emily looked at me and said “Of course we’ll do that, Ken.. It’s a tradition!!” And I smiled.. I love that. In a lot of ways that’s what makes families unique and special. It’s those things that make perfect sense to you, when this equals that. If this happens it unleashes a whole string of events. This may be puzzling to an outsider.. But we all do it.. Traditions..

Now I’ll be the first to applaud spontaneous behavior. Obviously if every little detail was controlled by what always has been, how horrible would that be? But there’s still those little things.. Like whenever it would dump snow in the evening to where my dad was convinced that we wouldn’t have school the next day, he’d load us up and head for Wal-Mart.. Dashing thru the snow.. And the experience was never complete without a cappuccino from Sheetz..

Or every time we’d drive thru a tunnel with the truck, both windows would roll down, he’d jake like mad, and then blow the airhorn. That was so cool. And I’d breath in that familiar smell of diesel smoke and be so glad to be a trucker.. 🙂 I continue that idea.. But it’s a pitiful attempt.. No straight pipe jake.. And a GMC horn makes me feel like crying when you compare it with a Kenworth..

When Mother was growing up, there was always a Christmas plate with her name on it, Christmas morning.. Laden with an orange, peppermint drops, and assorted candy.. You guessed what’s at the Horst household every Christmas for forever.. I love it. It’s part of who we are.

Some things are personal traditions.. Or quirks maybe.. 🙂 Like I have a habit of blowing the horn whenever I see that Beautiful Virginia Welcome sign.. “I’m sorry to the car that’s beside me-no road rage here.. Just ecstatic to be arriving!!”

I’m sure if you think, you can list a whole lot of things that you do traditionally.. It’s fun.. Always eat at the Tastee Freeze when we move heifers to Churchville.. Shady Maple Grocery’s filled doughnuts are a must.. Chocolate milk from Whitesel Bro’s during December.. Matching outfits for the first day of school.. Singing in barn.. Soft pretzel parties..

Another tradition around here has been to spend the night in the farms latest building project.. Julia has been very faithful with this.. To the point that she spent the night on the barn’s new waterbeds.. She carefully roped off several stalls, and spent a fairly restless night under the heavy surveillance of most of the herd.. Our cows could not understand the sleepover.. 🙂

We were over at the neighbors, reminiscing.. And I mentioned that we put up a new grainbin this summer. “Remember our sleepover in one about 17 years ago?” “Hey, we should do that again!” “Tanner’s old enough to stay with his dad, I’m sure I would be in..” “Maybe this time Emily won’t head for the house halfway thru the night..” “Hey! Give me a break-I was cold and 4 years old!!” So we laughed and wondered if it’d actually happen..

We started combining soybeans this week, and as Father loaded the first load on the dump trailer, I saw we had waited til the eleventh hour once again.. Long story short, we sat around the campfire enjoying the night sky and the blessing of childhood friends.. Then crawled into the metal castle to spend the night. Everything echoed and sounded hilarious, but my air mattress was great.. Way too soon the alarms were going off for the morning milkers, and they attempted to sneak out of the building-but the slatted floor creaked with every step. I waited about 5 seconds before I rolled out of my sleeping bag cocoon and headed for the house.. After all, I WAS cold, and somebody needed to head in- it’s a tradition.. 🙂

Bonus Pics:


During transport to the field, I drove past this flowerbed multiple times.. I thought it was very noteworthy..


Cut some sorghum this week, a little variety from corn

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Beautiful Paradise Lane..

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Photography by Emily 🙂