Happy Halloween from The Pumpkin Farm!

It’s rare that I’m publishing anything on a blog right on Halloween, but this year I am!

How fun is that?

And just so you know, I’m not a big Halloween fan although I love kids going trick-or-treating. It’s just crazy fun and my kids loved it. I loved it as a kid, too! Free candy! #BONUS!!!!

But here on the farm Halloween marks the end of the pumpkin sale season.

This farm wagon was a find two years ago and we love it. It’s the perfect focal point for our displays and it “morphs’ as the season matures. It starts out with lots of big stacks of pumpkins, like you see here, but as those sell out, we replace them with smaller stacks… and more big orange or big green or white pumpkins. Like any season, it’s ever-changing and we truly celebrate the season of color that’s so famous here in the Northeast Woodlands. Being so close to Lake Ontario, our leaves stay green longer, giving the feel of a longer and nicer fall season!

Closing the farm stand is always a mixed blessing. We love wrapping things up… Having time for other things for six months, until it’s time to plant, till, plant, spray, water, plant, repeat!

Our theory is this: Sell every pumpkin and squash you can at great prices and people will be happy, they will love you and they’ll come again and again and they will bring friends.

This concept, a wholly different marketing ploy than the USDA recommends, is building us a solid business that benefits the community, our little farm, people outside our community and our family because it is truly a family project. And that family includes friends, too… friends who volunteer their time on weekends to help customers so we can keep prices down.

This Mandy and Lisa and Lisa’s daughter McKenna, all set up for business on an early September day…

It means insight, too… annual growth within a budget because trying to build on credit and interest is a rookie mistake. Few of us are going to turn into Chip and Joanna (Loved their Magnolia Story) and end up with an HGTV contract that goes viral, so trying to invest while living within the budget is the trick. Stuff costs money. And expansion isn’t cheap, but when we’re talking small business, building a base is the beginning, just like building a Lego house. Without a strong platform/base, the blocks will topple in the wind.

I’ve shown you pics of the “results”… the gorgeous pumpkins and displays and so many happy customers. What a treat!

So for a business like this there are both tricks… and treats. And Farmer Dave and I aren’t exactly young. (Well, I feel young, so does that count????) But we’re living a dream that we’ve always wanted to do…

And who knows how much time the Good Lord will give us? Not us, certainly, but there’s an Erma Bombeck quote that I hold close to my heart in family, in writing, in business, in pumpkins:

“I want to stand before God at the end of my days and be able to say I used everything you gave me.”

That’s me.

Talent is given to so many, but taking that talent and mixing it with a strong work ethic is a wonderful thing. And the fact that it’s not a universal trait is what gives some a leg up.

Our beautiful nation was built on hard work. On sacrifice. On sacrificial love. Those elements are part of our platform and our heritage. I want to see them help shape our future.

Tonight I’ll go trick-or-treating with a few cute grandkids… We live on a country road, so generally there are no trick-or-treaters at our house, but the joy in knowing that lots of those pumpkins and displays were part of Blodgett Family Farm and our goal to bring affordable family fun back to the farm is like being part of new family traditions.

And that makes us happy!

AND to add to today’s fun, I collaborated with the amazing Margaret Brownley and Mary Connealy for this beautiful collection releasing in SIX DAYS!!!! “Christmas at Star Inn” is a wonderful anthology of weary travelers who lodge at the iconic “Star Inn” in Heywood, Oregon at the base of Mt. Hood… It’s time to get in the season of faith, hope and love… and the greatest of these is love! I’m giving away an e-copy of this to one happy reader, but let me know you’d like it… when you tell me about your upcoming holidays. Love ’em? Or kind of dread ’em? Or somewhere in the middle??? Let’s talk it out right here. Right now!

 

Our new release!

 

OH! AND WINNER FROM LAST MONTH!!! Do you see where my brain is? It is mush in September and October, and for good reason. Joy Ellis, you are the winner of “The Sewing Sisters Society” novella collection! Let me know if you would like a print or an e-copy and I’ll have my friends at Amazon send that right out to you! Congratulations!

Cabbage Night Winner!!!

Thanks to everyone who stopped by to talk about Cabbage Night, Halloween traditions and candy. FYI, the favorite candy among those who commented seemed to be Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, especially pumpkin shaped ones.

Now on to the important news…The winner of the fall coasters and Family Ties is:

 Paula Jones

Congratulations, Paula. Look for an email from me on how to claim your prize. Again, thanks to everyone who stopped by to chat. I hope y’all have a fun, safe and prank-free Halloween.

                                      Julie

Jennifer Uhlarik Returns to Visit Friday!

Miss Jennifer Uhlarik is returning to visit on Friday, November 1, 2019!

We’re so happy to welcome her back and we know we’ll have a regular party talking about the Oregon Trail and trading posts.

Her saddlebag contains an autographed copy of her book.

So get your questions down and head over come Friday.

It’ll be another fun time for us in the Junction!

If you have any pumpkin bread or pie, bring it!

Some cowboy coffee would go mighty fine with that. HeHe!

 

Happy Cabbage Night!

I knew Halloween evolved from the Celtic festival of Samhain and All Hallow’s Eve, but that was about all I knew. This year I decided to change that and dove into researching Halloween. First, I learned in New England the night before Halloween is Cabbage Night. Right now, I’m glad I live in Texas, because this tradition involves “pranksters” leaving rotten vegetables near a neighbor’s front door! I doubt this did much to promote good neighbor relations! Despite that, Happy Cabbage Night y’all.

Now on to Halloween…

I discovered many Halloween traditions revolved around helping women identify her potential husband or reassuring her she would indeed find a one. In 18th century Ireland, a cook would bury a ring in her mashed potatoes on Halloween. The hope was that the ring would bring the finder true love.

In Scotland, fortune tellers instructed marriage-minded women to name her hazelnuts after her suitors. Boy does that sound odd. 🙂 Then she was to toss them, the hazelnuts not her suitors, 🙂 into the fire. The nut that burned completely rather than exploding represented her future husband. Another legend insisted if a woman ate a sweet treat of walnuts, hazelnuts and nutmeg on Halloween, she would dream of her future husband that night.

Women would throw apple peelings over their shoulders in hopes of forming the initials of her future husband’s name. I wonder if there was strategic throwing involved with this tradition to get a desired result. Another legend told a woman to stand in front of a mirror in a dark room holding a candle. The hope was if she peered into the mirror, would see her husband’s face over her shoulder.

Halloween parties could get competitive regarding matrimony. For example, the first guest to find a burr on a chestnut hunt would be the next one to marry. The first one to successfully bob for apples was predicted to walk down the aisle soon. This tradition had visions of unmarried women practicing their bobbing for apple skills before Halloween parties to ensure a victory to pop into my head!

Because beliefs of different European countries mixed with American Indian traditions, America developed its own unique version of Halloween. At first, celebrations featured “play parties” to celebrate the harvest. Neighbors shared stories about the dead, told fortunes, danced and sang. The night also included mischief. But in the late 1800’s, people tried to shift the holiday away from ghosts, pranks and witchcraft to a more community or neighborly get together holiday. Parents were encouraged to remove anything frightening, grotesque or scary from their Halloween celebrations. Despite this community-centered focus, adding parades and town-wide parties, by the 1920’s and 30’s, vandalism became prevalent.

However, by the 1950’s communities had tampered down on the vandalism and Halloween became a more child-centered holiday. This probably was a result of all those post-war babies, too. Communities revived the tradition of trick-or-treating after it was halted due to sugar rationing during WWII. The thought was people could prevent being pranked by giving children a small treat.

Today, Halloween is America’s second largest commercial holiday, surpassed only by Christmas. We spend around 9 billion, yup with a billion with B, annually. That’s a lot of candy, costumes and yard art. It works out to an average American shelling out $86.79.

Speaking of candy…we haven’t even touched that delicious subject. But let’s do that now. Leave a comment on what’s your favorite trick-or-treat candy and why or what one makes you you want to pull a trick on someone to be entered for today’s giveaway. One random commenter will receive the pumpkin coasters and a copy of Family Ties.

Fun Things About the Ol’ West

I love research, particularly about the old west. I could get lost in it and a lot of the times I do. Please don’t get me wrong, I love to write, but if I ever had to make a choice between researching for a book and writing one, I’m not sure but I think I’d go with the research.

I thought it’d be fun to blog about western terminology and some of the things I’ve learned from researching the Old West, particularly since I was born and raised in Texas. Now here’s my first comment … we’ve always used born and raised then when I began writing, I got heavily edited with “you raise corn, you rear children”. Now that’s changed back to born and raised.

Many of the jargon popular back in western times are still used today.

  • Wild-cow milking: When sister Filly Linda Brody, Jodi Thomas, and the late DeWanna Pace and I began to write our anthology Give Me a Cowboy we had already decided that we’d have a 4th of July Rodeo take place in Kasota Springs, Texas, over four days. There were a lot of things that we had to iron out for consistency sake. I had to have a rainy day, so we had to make sure one day it rained. But, the funniest thing that happened was choosing events, so we didn’t duplicate. In the 1800’s there were only a limited number of events to choose from. I love the rodeo, so I had my mind set on bull riding. Linda and Jodi selected their events first … not bull riding, so I knew I had my event in the bag! But one problem, Dee selected hers next and since her brother was a champion bull rider … oh yes, you guessed it, she asked for bull riding. I took a deep breath and the only event left was wild cow milking. So, I smiled and enjoyed learning about this part of a rodeo. In the long run, I probably had more fun writing the scene where my hero and heroine were teamed up for this event and it began to rain. I’m not gonna tell you anything else, but if you haven’t read Give Me a Cowboy I think you’d enjoy what could happen in a wet arena with two people attracted to one another when they are trying to hold down a cow and milk her.  Of interest, the wild cow milking event came into existence because they had to bring calves for roping and of course they couldn’t separate the mama’s and their calf, so thus wild cow milk came about.
  • Chute Rooster: This was another term I learned through research and used for the same story. A chute rooster is a rodeo-wise boy who perched on top of the chutes and knew how everything should be done and didn’t mind telling about it.
  • Doggone: A wild slang expression. Whenever he could think of it, a cowboy used this term around womenfolks. I still use it.
  • Salty Dog: A man who was considered better than anyone else in his line, whether it was shooting, roping, riding, cattle rustling, holding up trains and stagecoaches, or just “plumb ornery”. Dog was also one of the old-time cowboy’s terms for bacon. When it was salty, it was “salty dog”.
  • Dofunny: The cowboy’s expression for a useless object.
  • Bible Two: A term used by Texas Rangers for the list of outlaws published every year by the Adjutant General’s Office. It was said that at one time the Texas Rangers had a list of over 5,000 desperadoes wanted by the law.
  • Hog-tied: I love this one. When a cowboy got “hog-tied” by a female he was no longer a cowboy but a cowman. I think that’s pretty self-explanatory.
  • Vamoose: The cowboy used this word several different ways, but basically it meant “to move on” or “let go”. The word came from the Spanish vamos, which means “we go”. It’s still used today in our neck of the woods.
  • Cross Draw: The act of drawing a pistol with the right hand when it was worn on the left side. The sidearm was carried either in the waistband of the trousers or in a holster with the butt of the gun forward. The gunfighter had to cross his arm over to whip it out. When two guns were worn, both with butts forward, the gunfighter employed a “cross-arm draw” to take them out. This has been used many times in Westerns over the years.
  • Critter: Chiefly a term for a cow, but it could be any animal. We still use it today.
  • Road Brand: This was the light brand placed on cattle sufficient to “last up the trail” to the shipping point when different brands were in the same herd. Once the cattle were sold, the rancher would change to their own brand.
  • Hollow Horn: I found this particularly interesting. It is a disease that puzzled the tenderfoot. Cows’ horns simply dropped off after a freeze. Of course, they were hollow, thus the term hollow horn.
  • Liquored up: Has only been around since the early twenty century, but most everybody knows that it means “drunk”.
  • Larruppin’: One of my favorites. Larruppin’ good means excellent, especially with food.

What old terms do you use in your daily life?  What is your favorite?

To one two lucky readers I will send you an autographed copy of Give Me a Cowboy. If you already have one, I’ll give you an eBook copy of my latest western contemporary romance Out of a Texas Night, which have many of the founders of Kasota Springs, three to five generations later in it.

I wish to give credit to Bruce Grant and his book The Cowboy Encyclopedia because I mixed some of my own terminology with some of his. Thank you.

It’s Yee-Haw Day!

Welcome to Yee-Haw Day, the once-a-month day we’ve reserved to share our news with you – all sorts of fun news!

So check out the post below to get the details on the kinds of things that make us go Yee-Haw!!

Karen Witemeyer

My mad-scientist, steam-engine-exploding hero and piratical, mathematical, dagger-wielding heroine are back and on sale for only $0.99! Yee-Haw! (Sale ends 10/31.)

 

 

The dagger cuts both ways.

Her family legacy or the man she loves.

Claiming one means forfeiting the other.

 

 

Amazon | B&N | Christianbook

Karen Witemeyer & Mary Connealy

If you love western inspirational fiction, you’re going to love this giveaway. Not only do two fillies have new releases in the prize bin, but Misty Beller was a recent guest here at P&P as well.

Contest ends October 31, so enter today!

Click here to enter Bethany House’s Western Fiction Giveaway.

Winnie Griggs

I’m excited to announce I have a new release coming November 1st.

Sawyer Flynn vows to see that the man who murdered his brother pays for his crimes, but becoming the sole caretaker of an orphaned infant sidetracks him from the mission. Sawyer can’t do it all—run his mercantile, care for the baby, and find justice for his brother. He needs help. But not from Emma Jean Gilley.

When her father flees town after killing a man, Emma Jean is left alone to care for her kid brother, but her father’s crime has made her a pariah and no one will give her a job. Learning of Sawyer’s need, Emma Jean makes her case to step in as nanny. 

 

Sawyer is outraged by Emma Jean’s offer, but he’s also desperate and he reluctantly agrees to a temporary trial. Working together brings understanding, and maybe something more. But just when things heat up between Sawyer and Emma Jean, the specter of her father’s crimes threatens to drive them apart forever.

To learn more or pre-order a copy,  click on the book cover image.

Pam Crooks

I’ve just contracted to write two more books (contemporary westerns) in my Blackstone Ranch series with Tule Publishing! 

Yee-Haw!!

 

Book #1 – Buy on Amazon

Linda Broday

The page has turned and I’m starting a new chapter in my life!

I’M MOVING…. to a senior living place!

By next weekend, I’ll have a brand new address.

This comes complete with an extraordinary chef named Carlos!

A maid, laundry service and transportation.

Pure heaven! With all this extra time, who knows what I’ll write about next?

I’m not near done yet!

Jacqui Nelson Has a Winner!

Jacqui Nelson, you are such a dear. Thank you for coming!

The names have all been gathered and it’s time to draw…..

Who will get A Bride for Brynmor???

Let’s see………The wheel is spinnning……..

And the winner is……….

LORI SMANSKI

Woo-Hoo! Congratulations, Lori!! Miss Jacqui will contact you so be watching for her email.

Tomorrow is Yee-Haw Day so come back to see our news!

 

Jacqui Nelson Shares Her New Release (and a little research!)

In my new release, A BRIDE FOR BRYNMOR, my hero is Brynmor Llewellyn (a Welsh American who runs a freight business with his sister and brothers in Colorado) and my heroine is Lark (an Irish-Cree Métis singer and musician from the Qu’Appelle Valley in Canada).

Who are the Métis?

The Métis are specific cultural communities that trace their descent from First Nations (Native American) women and European men who came together with the fur trade in Canada and the United States.

Their unions were often called marriage à la façon du pays which meant “according to the custom of the country.” Written with a lowercase m, métis is the French word for “mixed.”

In Canada, the women in these unions were (in the east) Wabanaki, Algonquin, and Menominee and (in the west) Saulteaux, Cree, Ojibwe, Nakoda, and Dakota/Lakota. The men were fur trappers mainly from France (but later also from Scotland, England, and occasionally Ireland). Their children grew up mostly in their mothers’ cultures but were often also introduced to European traditions.

The Métis were (and still are) very musical

Their instruments were portable and easy to tune and play by ear. Favorites were the violin, mouth-organ, accordion, jaw harp, comb, and spoons. Some sources say there was rarely a Métis home without a fiddle.

In A BRIDE FOR BRYNMOR, my heroine is forced to give an impromptu performance in a remote cabin and plays the spoons—her favorite instrument after the hurdy-gurdy.

While people of Métis heritage are found all across Canada, an area where their culture developed as a distinct ethnicity is the Red River Valley in Manitoba. This region extends south across the border into North Dakota and Minnesota.

In the map below, the Red River is in pink and the Red River drainage basin is in yellow.

But why is my heroine from the Qu’Appelle Valley (shown north of Regina on the above map)?

Lark might have come from anywhere, even from the Red River Valley. All those R’s give it a nice sound. And Lark is a singer and musician, so sounds are extra important to her. But it’s all backstory anyway. So why does it matter?

It matters because I love history, and I love giving my characters a connected history.

What’s the Qu’Appelle connection?

The Qu’Appelle River and Valley got their name from a Cree legend about a spirit that traveled up and down the river. The Cree told the fur traders they often heard a voice calling, “Kâ-têpwêt?” When the Cree responded to the call, it would echo back.

In French, “Kâ-têpwêt” means “Qui appelle.” And in English that’s “Who is calling?”

The word “calling” is the connection. Qu’Appelle is the perfect place for Lark to be from not only because she is part Cree, but because A BRIDE FOR BRYNMOR (set in January 1878) is really a sequel to Brynmor’s sister’s story, ROBYN: A CHRISTMAS BRIDE (set a month earlier in December 1877). And Robyn’s book is the sequel to THE CALLING BIRDS (set a year earlier in December 1876) whose heroine, Birdie, is French-Canadian.

Qu’Appelle is a historical callback (and tribute) to those previous stories and their characters—several of whom make an appearance in A BRIDE FOR BRYNMOR (book 1 in my Songbird Junction series). It’s all in the family, whether they are connected by blood or by love. From Birdie to Robyn to Lark. But it doesn’t end there.

There are Oriole and Wren—Lark’s sisters-of-the-heart.

They became family while growing up in a missionary orphanage after their Cree mothers died. Now they’re a songbird troupe under the control of a lying and abusive manager who calls himself their uncle. Lark, Oriole, and Wren’s goal is to finally escape him and start a new life. A goal that Brynmor, Heddwyn, and Griffin are determined to help them achieve.

You can read A BRIDE FOR BRYNMOR’s book blurb and the opening scene on my website.

Do you have a favorite name, place, or word that inspires you? Comment below for a chance to win an e-copy of A BRIDE FOR BRYNMOR or an e-book of your choice from my backlist.

 

Fall in love with a new Old West… where the men are steadfast & the women are adventurous. You’ll find Wild West scouts, spies, cardsharps, wilderness guides, and trick-riding superstars in my stories. Those are my heroines. Wait till you meet my heroes! My love for historical romance adventures with grit and passion came from watching Western movies while growing up on a cattle farm in northern Canada.

 

Follow me on: BookbubGoodreads, FacebookTwitterInstagram, Pinterest