Farm Life from the Farmer’s Wife: Old Mac

 Old Mac

Gail Kittleson

Farm dogs contributed to family farms back in the day. A friend named Dave tells stories about Big Mac, the boxer/bulldog mix that accompanied his younger brother and him all over the farm. Old Mac even leaped on the hayfork’s precarious load of hay or straw bales and hitched a ride up to the haymow during the harvest.

Their dad had a dilapidated 1948 de Soto he kept for doing chores, and when the boys were about ten, Dave started driving to various parts of the farm to check on crops or animals or to fetch something for his dad. Dave calls the de Soto’s doors “suicide doors” because they opened in the center, and if you leaned too hard on them, you could land on the ground.

One day, a story circulated around the nearby town about Big Mac driving that De Soto up and down the road. En route from one piece of property to another, Dave or his brother perched Big Mac in their laps, and scooched down in the seat. To the driver of an oncoming car, it did, indeed, seem that the dog was driving.

As Dave puts it, a nearby farmer who ‘wasn’t the sharpest knife in the drawer’ believed what his eyes told him and spread the story.  

Big Mac reminds me a little of Old Brown, the farm dog in In Times Like These, the first of the Women of the Heartland series. Too old to attempt escapades like Big Mac’s, Old Brown still provided an alarm system when anybody approached the farmyard, companionship and a sense of comfort to Addie in her home-front battles with her unpredictable husband.

At that time, Addie would have been the last to believe what lay ahead for her—a trip across the mine-infested Atlantic in a Red Cross ship, a stenography position in a government office, and amazing second chances at happiness. The sequel to her story, With Each New Dawn, describes these, and readers can learn even more in book three, A Purpose True.

What a fun story, Gail! I love that Old Mac ‘drove the tractor’. We have four dogs here, but they are not much help with the farm animals or the machinery!

A Purpose True releases soon! For more information, please check Gail’s website. In the meantime, Gail has shared a great book trailer with us. Check it out here!


A Purpose True cover not final

(This cover is not yet final. Please check back with Gail to see the final cover!)

Southern France – Spring, 1944


German panzer units crisscross the region, dealing ruthless reprisals against the French Resistance, and anyone suspected of supporting its efforts. Secret Operations Executive (SOE) agent Kate Isaacs is tasked with providing essential radio communications with the Allies, while her guide, Domingo Ibarra, a Basque shepherd-turned-Resistance fighter, dedicates himself to avenging the destruction of his home and family.

Thrown together by the vagaries of war, their shared mission, and common devotion to liberty, the last thing Kate and Domingo anticipate is the stirring of affection that threatens to blossom into love. But how can love survive in the midst of the enemy’s relentless cruelty toward innocent citizens?

Everything hinges on the success of the Allied Invasion – L’Invasion.

When Gail’s not steeped in World War II research, drafting scenes, or deep in one edit Gail Kittleson headshotor another, she does a limited amount of editing for other authors. She also facilitates writing workshops and classes, both in Iowa and Arizona, where winters find her enjoying the incredibly gorgeous Ponderosa forest under the Mogollon Rim. Favorites:  walking, reading, meeting new people, and hearing from readers who fall in love with her characters.

Don’t you think Gail’s books sound so fascinating? I certainly do, and I hope you all will check them out on Amazon!

I will see you next week with the Thanksgiving edition of Farm Life from the Farmer’s Wife, where I’ll be talking about things to be thankful for on the farm. Beginning in December, I will be spotlighting Books to Beat the Winter Blues. I hope you’ll enjoy learning about new authors and new stories along with me! Thanks for being here. If you haven’t signed up for my newsletter yet, please do. I have some extra special announcements and secret spotlights coming in December just in time for the Christmas season! You can sign up here, and receive a free digital scrapbook detailing some real-life locations that inspired scenes in Callum’s Compass--available on Amazon now!


Farm Life from the Farmer’s Wife: You Could have Fooled Me + GIVEAWAY

You could have Fooled Me!

Rose Allen McCauley

I know girls who said they would never marry a farmer—mostly farmer’s daughters! But, since I had no experience with a farm except my great grandparents’ farm where I remember visiting once as a child and seeing my Mammy chop off a chicken’s head, which caused me to not eat chicken for a very long time after that! (funny side note…now chicken and turkey are the only meats I like to eat!) And, I planned to become a teacher, and teach at Portland Christian School in Louisville, KY.

But, God has a great sense of humor, and the one guy I fell in love with while in college was…you guessed it—a FARMER! We met our freshman year, and started dating a few months after, then got married in May of our sophomore year of college, and moved to a trailer on a piece of land my husband had bought while in high school, knowing he ALWAYS wanted to farm full time.

But, God still had other plans in mind, as my husband got the call-up for his draft physical not very long after we married, so he joined the Air Force eight months after we said, “I do.” Then, he left for basic on April Fool’s Day, a month and a half before our first anniversary, so the top layer of our wedding cake remained in his parents’ freezer (tightly wrapped, of course!)

So, we spent our first anniversary in 1969 (and several more) apart, with him in Texas for Basic Training and me back in KY teaching school. Still no cake! In 1970, he went for his first deployment to Thailand in March, so no cake again, until in May of 1971 he was back in the states stationed in Myrtle Beach, so we ate our dried-out cake! He also had one more deployment to Thailand, but not during the month of May! The next two years weren’t much better for anniversary dinners, but at least we were together. In 1972, the whole base was on-call on May 11th where the guys had to have their duffels packed and sit by the phone until 9 o’clock that evening. We finally went to a steak house, and Chester ate a big dinner, but I didn’t want much so late at night. Then in 1973 he was discharged in April, so we could go out for an anniversary supper, and he ate a good dinner, but I was pregnant with our firstborn, so was too sick to eat anything!

Finally, in 1973, we moved onto the 200-acre farm we purchased while he was in the AF, (another joke on us—we were allowed to walk around on the farm, but could not get into the house until the day we moved in!)  We lived there and raised three children for 42 years, and my husband got to finally see his dream come true of being a full-time farmer. He raised beef cattle, hay, corn, and tobacco. For health reasons, my husband has now semi-retired, so we moved to a small town in KY a couple years ago, but he still goes back several times a week to our old farm (which our daughter and son-in-law bought from us) plus drives to our son-in-law’s farm several more days each week to work there. Our son and his wife live in a small town, and both of our girls and their husbands have chosen to raise their children on farms, so I think we did something right. None of our children went into farming, but our son-in-laws both farm plus hold down other full-time jobs, which seems to be more common nowadays, and the girls and children help out too. Farming is a great way of life and a great place to raise kids, and I thank God for the blessings of a close family after raising them on a farm.

Looking back, I can see that God had a much better plan than I did, and I wouldn’t want to change anything! He has blessed us much more than we could have asked or imagined! (Ephesians 3:20—my fave verse in the Bible!)

rose allen mccauleyRose has been writing for over a decade and has six books published. A retired schoolteacher who has been happily married to her college sweetheart for over forty years, they enjoy their growing family of three children and their spouses and five lovely, lively grandkids! She loves to hear from her readers. You can reach her through her website or twitter @RoseAMcCauley and Facebook

Destination RomanceRose is a contributor to an intriguing-looking and -sounding book titled, Destination: Romance, and she is giving away a free paperback copy!!! Leave a comment for Rose and be entered to win. I will draw one winner on Friday, November 17th, 2017, at 11 AM EST from the commenters.

From a cave in the hills of Missouri to a sandy beach in Grand Cayman, romance blooms for five heroines when they least expect it.

Bare Feet and Warm Sand BY Kim Vogel Sawyer

Marine biologist Tamiera is determined to protect endangered sea turtles against man’s intrusion. When Joe arrives on the island of Grand Cayman with plans to build a resort near the turtles’ nesting grounds, will she be able to convince him to put the needs of God’s creatures above making money?

Sufficient Grace BY Constance Shilling Stevens

An abandoned Cherokee burial ground keeps secrets and draws a picture of deep, enduring love for Nora, but land surveyor Donovan threatens the place that holds sweet memories for Nora’s grandfather. Will Donovan follow his boss’s orders or follow his heart?

Better Together Than Apart BY Rose Allen McCauley

On a K-Love cruise to Jamaica, Natalie re-connects with Ken, a boy she met six years earlier on a high school summer mission trip. Attraction stirs, but opposing goals threaten their romance. Will they listen to God’s leading for their best place of service?

A Shelter in a Weary Land BY Julane Hiebert

A cave in the Missouri hillside was to be a shelter from pillaging Union soldiers for Charlotte and her unborn babe. But will she be safe when a wounded enemy seeks the same place of refuge?

Cotton Candy Sky BY Kristian Libel

When a Kansas girl falls in love with the ocean, she thinks nothing could be more exhilarating than life on a beach…except maybe falling for a traveling photographer who introduces her to more adventure than she’d ever imagined. But is their connection one that can last, or will their time together simply remain a fond memory as they go their separate ways?

(Pssst–I am hanging out on Rose’s blog today too, and I’m giving away a copy of Callum’s Compass, so please go check it out and leave me a comment to be entered to win!)

Release Day!

It’s November 7th! Woohoo! I am so excited to go to Amazon today and see that Callum’s Compass is officially available in eBook and paperback. Will Kat and Ryan be freed of their painful pasts_ Can they let God, and love, into their hearts_ (1)

There has been so much excitement and so much preparation, it feels so good to make it to this day. I would love for you to check it out, maybe follow my Amazon author page, and definitely let me know what you think. It means a lot to me each person who purchases the book and each person who tells a friend about it.


Farm Life from the Farmer’s Wife: Lambing Season

We only have a handful of sheep, but lambing season is crazy anyway. I can’t imagine having thousands of them to assist. If you don’t know, sheep breed in the fall and lamb in the early part of the year. When it is freezing cold. We’ve decided around here they hold their babies until the coldest night and then lamb. The colder it is, you can bet they will have their lambs. Every year we set up a lambing pen in the front yard so all we have to do is peek out the window to check on the mommas. Complete with heat lamp, warm straw, and a thick tarp covering the area, the moms settle in a couple days or a week before they are due. And it never fails, the lambs are born in the middle of the night. It is an exhausting time of year!

I have no idea how large sheep farms manage to keep their lambs alive. Because every single one of ours that is born needs assistance once on the ground. They are wet, slimy, tiny, absolutely helpless things that freeze to death if we don’t intervene. We get them under the heat lamp, dried, and help them nurse the first time for that wonderful, nourishing colostrum. If we can keep them alive for the first couple days, they usually make it. But that isn’t always the case.

Isaiah 40:11 reminds us that, “He shall feed his flock like a shepherd: he shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young.” Our lambs would not survive without our help. Neither could I survive with Jesus’s help. He saved me when I was 19, and ever since then he has been carrying me along through life, protecting me, feeding me, and leading me. I wouldn’t be able to make it without some help on most days. I am so thankful that God sees fit to look down on this one little mom, struggling along through life’s battles, and to wrap me in His strong, warm arms. His bosom is where I find safety and peace.

The picture above is of a lamb born this past March that my daughter named, Cake, because it was her birthday. In comparison to the mom, this little girl weighed around 7 pounds, while the mom weighs around 150.

There is a LOT going on with Callum’s Compass right now! The book launch event is on Saturday in Oak Ridge, TN. If you live locally, please come. I would love for you to attend! If you can’t make it, I will be hosting a Facebook party at the same time. More information on both events can be found here.

Callum’s Compass officially releases on Tuesday! I am SO excited! If you haven’t snagged an eBook copy yet and planned to, now is the time. The price goes up on release day (but will still be reasonable, I promise).  And, I have been busy, busy, busy guest blogging on some amazing ladies’ blogs lately! You can check out the full list here!

There is still time to enter some awesome giveaways too! The preorder giveaway for a $10 Amazon gift card ends tomorrow morning at 10 AM EST, so if you have ordered a copy you have to let me know before then so I can enter your name. The rules and details are here.  I’m also giving away a copy of Callum’s Compass through two different blogs (one copy each): Leslie McKee, Edits and Reviews by Leslie: Callum’s Compass by Sara L. Foust and a giveaway through tomorrow, November 3rd, and Amber Schamel, Stitches Thru Time: Weekly Windup, Comment to Win Callum’s Compass by Sara L. Foust through November 11th. I hope you will check out these opportunities, and if you do, good luck!

Farm Life from the Farmer’s Wife: Chicken Catching with Shannon Taylor Vannatter

Today’s Farm Life story comes from author Shannon Vannatter. Not only is she sharing her comedic escapade catching chickens, she’s doing a giveaway. The details are at the end of this post!

Though I was born in rural Arkansas, we moved to Indiana when I was a baby since my dad worked on the pipeline. From Indiana to Michigan then Illinois before pipeline worked dried up when I was seven. But there was a housing boom in Atlanta, so we moved there where daddy worked as a carpenter and hung sheet rock.

Every summer, we visited my grandparents in Arkansas. I loved those visits. But I was horrified when I was twelve when my parents decided to move home. My favorite cousins were staying in Georgia and all my friends were there.

Once we moved, I tried to console myself with being near the rest of our extended family, but I had a hard time fitting in and suffered from major culture shock. I was used to living in a neighborhood with lots of kids and a McDonald’s just around the corner. At our new home, the nearest neighbors with a girl my age were a quarter of a mile away. And the closest Big Mac was thirty minutes away. I was certain my life was over.

Basketball ruled and I had no desire to play, though I constantly heard what a great ball player my mom was. Since I didn’t play, the coach asked me to be the bookkeeper. It was a way to fit in, go to all the games, and eyeball boys from other schools.

During my eighth grade year, the basketball team needed new uniforms. Since the coach raised chickens, he came up with the perfect plan for the players to earn the needed funds–catching the doomed creatures. Thank goodness I didn’t play basketball.

My knowledge of the raising part is sketchy, but I’ll try to explain. Mile long metal buildings with enormous fans in each end house the chickens. Poultry companies, like Tyson, bring young chickens and drop them off. Then they must be fed and taken care of.

When it’s hot, raisers must walk the chickens. The first time I heard this, I imagined collars and leashes. But in reality, chickens are so stupid, they hump up in piles when it’s hot and smother. So, people have to walk amongst them to keep them stirring and moving.

After the chickens are grown, the Tyson truck comes back to pick them up and take them to the chicken plant where they end up in those nice cellophane-wrapped packages of boneless, skinless breasts where they belong.

To my horror, my parents decided my job as the scorekeeper for the basketball team, required my participation in the fundraiser. My insistence that I didn’t wear a uniform, therefore I shouldn’t have to raise money, fell on deaf ears.

Both raised on a farm, my parents grew up picking whatever needed picking, hauling whatever needed hauling, milking whatever needed milking, and catching whatever needed catching. They told those stories about walking barefoot to school, in the snow, and uphill both ways.

Catching chickens seemed the perfect opportunity, to them, for me to experience some of the old ways. I begged and pleaded to no avail. The bus loaded to take the basketball team to the chicken house with me on it. Several dedicated parents and teachers went also. Clearly, they had no life.

All too soon, I became intimately acquainted with poultry. We all charged inside the chicken house, through the rancid waste of thousands of hens. We grabbed whatever chickens happened to come our way by whatever chicken part we could seize. We jerked them upside down and hung onto their legs.

Our objective, to get at least two fowl in each hand and deliver the hapless hens to the loaders, who put them into cages. Some of the more experienced adults actually got four birds in each hand.

I learned when you jerk a chicken up by its feet, it emits a disgusting substance, which goes straight up in the air, then lands somewhere on the catcher. While this phenomenon takes place, the bird pecks mercilessly at the hand of the catcher and tries to loosen its feet to claw with ruthless talons.

This escapade began with my makeup perfectly applied and every hair in place. At thirteen, my goal was to look good for the boys on the basketball team. Afterward, chicken emissions had soiled off my makeup, coated my hair, and left me reeking.

As soon as the bus dropped me off, I began my tale of woe, whining and moaning for my parents’ benefit, while heading for the bathtub. Once clean, though I didn’t feel really clean for at least a week, I told my parents of my many lessons learned.

“You’ve both earned my respect and understanding for your long-suffering childhoods and how hard you worked.” My rehearsed speech seemed to impress them. Surely they wouldn’t make me go again. The next week found me on a bus, headed for the chicken house.

With two more chicken catching adventures looming, I considered running away. To my surprise, my parents decided to join us for the third escapade. I never decided if they felt nostalgic for the old days or if guilt assailed them for making me go.

After my parents re-experienced this chapter of their lives, they took pity on me and thankfully, I caught my last chicken that night.

Looking back, I hesitantly confess that catching chickens was worth the wisdom gained. My experience with repulsive physical labor, no pay and not even a basketball uniform to show for my effort, helped my parents instill character in me.

The encounter with poultry also increased my respect for my parents. I no longer make fun of the stories they tell. They really did have long-suffering childhoods. I admit that the adventure definitely helped me understand how easy my childhood truly was. I only admit this because as an adult, no one can make me go back to that chicken house.

Though I still don’t like chickens and I’m afraid of cows, country life has grown on me. I live across a hayfield from my parents. There’s a McDonald’s ten minutes away now. The nearest city with a population of seven thousand has all the conveniences, but it would be way too big for me to live in.

A Texas Holiday Reunion coverHis Christmas Homecoming 

With her foreman out of commission, Resa McCall needs horse trainer Colson Kincaid to run her family ranch through the holidays. But having the handsome single dad back in Bandera, Texas, is unsettling. Colson broke Resa’s heart years ago, and she can’t risk getting close again. Still, working with him and bonding with his sweet little girl is making the ranch feel merry and bright. Being at Resa’s side stirs up emotions Colson thought were long gone. But he has a powerful secret that could keep them apart forever. Can Colson give Resa the one Christmas present that might finally bring them back together—the truth?

Get your copy now:

A Texas Holiday Reunion on Christianbook                 A Texas Holiday Reunion on Amazon

Shannon is giving away copies of A Texas Holiday Reunion. Here are the giveaway details:

Leave a comment to enter the drawing for a copy of A Texas Holiday Reunion. Six copies will be split among names drawn during the blog tour from Oct 18 – Dec 8. One winner will get to pick the theme for a custom made memory board personally crafted by the author. Deadline Dec. 8th. Winners will be revealed on the author’s blog on Dec 10th. Go to her website and sign up for her newsletter to enter more giveaways and get a free book download.

Follow her blog tour for more chances to win A Texas Holiday Reunion:

Shannon Taylor Vannatter is a stay-at-home mom/pastor’s wife/award winning author. Me tealShe once climbed a mountain wearing gold wedge-heeled sandals which became known as her hiking boots. Shannon writes inspirational contemporary romance and it took her nine years to get published in the traditional market.

Shannon hopes to entertain Christian women and plant seeds in the non-believer’s heart as her characters struggle with real-life issues. Their journeys, from ordinary lives to extraordinary romance through Christ-centered relationships, demonstrate that love doesn’t conquer all—Jesus does. In her spare time, she loves hanging out with her family, flea marketing, and doing craft projects.

Thank you so much, Shannon, for sharing your chicken story with us and the lessons you learned. I hope you all will leave a comment for her and enter her giveaway!









Farm Life from the Farmer’s Wife: Excerpt from Horse Haven 2

For the Farm Life blog today, I have special guest Grace Marshall. She has been kindUARWCOVER enough to share an excerpt from her young adult book, Unexpected Allies and Recurring Warts, Horse Haven Book 2.

~ Chapter 20: Lightweight ~

Ruth was unsuccessful tracking Devin down on foot, so she ended up getting his phone number from her father and calling him. He was out in the woods clearing the trails and said he’d meet her at the first barn where the tractor was parked. She waited for him at the tractor, perching on one of the steps. She texted Charlene and Jill. Neither of her Wisconsin friends responded before Devin found her.

“Hey Ruth, are you ready to learn how to drive this thing?”

Ruth glanced up at the large beast behind her. “Not at all.”

He chuckled and she scrambled down so he could have access to the tractor’s door. He opened it and motioned with a dark-skinned hand for her to climb up.

She did as beckoned and settled into the seat.

“First, I’ll just teach you how to use the tractor and then we can come back and get the brush hog,” he explained.

“Sounds good to me,” she replied.

He pointed all the levers out one by one and explained what they did, then he had her turn the tractor on. He quizzed her on what did what and had her practice with the levers. Then he explained the concept of shifting to her.

“Um, okay.”

“It will make more sense as you do it. Just take your time.”

She did. She started out by backing out of the barn. Then she stopped, fully and easily transitioning into first. She worked the clutch and gas at the same time until it was going.

“Pretty good.”

It was pretty good until she tried to transition into second. She didn’t fully depress the clutch, causing the gears to grind loudly as she panicked and braked.

Devin gripped more tightly on the bar on the side of the tractor. “Let’s not do that again, okay?”

“I would have preferred we didn’t do it the first time.”

“I agree.”

After Ruth got the hang of driving the tractor, Devin had her drive back to the barn. He instructed her to get out and let him drive so he could get the brush hog hooked up. She helped him back up to the device then he hopped off and showed her how to get the pins in place.

After that he let Ruth back into the driver seat and they headed to the first pasture. He told her to pull the lever that would turn the brush hog on. There was a loud grating noise then the tractor sputtered and died.

They exchanged confused looks. “Try it again.”

She did, going through the same process with the same result.

“Hm. Let me try.”

She climbed out of the tractor and stood a few feet away.

He turned the tractor on and started up the brush hog without a problem. He took it down the field a ways and then stopped and turned it off. Ruth ran down to where he was. She opened the door and peered up at him.

“Well, I’m not sure what the problem is. Try one more time.”

They exchanged places and again the tractor sputtered and died when Ruth tried to turn on the brush hog. She turned confused periwinkle eyes to Devin and shrugged helplessly.

He frowned and his brow creased in thought. “Well…” he said slowly, “I don’t know.” They didn’t do or say anything for a few long moments, then Devin said, “Actually, I think I do know. I think that maybe you weigh enough to make the tractor move, but the safety weight setting must be higher in order to operate the brush hog. Apparently you don’t meet the necessary weight requirement.”

Ruth made an annoyed face at him. “So what can we do?”

“Talk to your father I guess, see how he wants to handle it.”

After parking the tractor in the first barn, the two of them headed inside and found Peter in his office.

He laughed without reservation when they informed him of the problem. “I guess she’ll just have to put some weight on those bones.” Well, he thought it was funny at least.

“Nice, Dad. What do we do in the meantime?”

“Go broke?”

Ruth put a hand on her hip and sighed loudly. “Anything a little more helpful for the present time?”

Her dad put his hands up defensively. “Okay, okay. How about you put a little extra weight on the seat or see if there is a seat weight adjustment?”

“I already adjusted it as low as it would go this morning, when you told me I’d be training her,” Devin explained.

“Then find something extra to put on the seat to add weight.”

“Like what?” Devin asked.

“How about a sandbag?” Ruth asked. She wanted to get some ideas in quick before they made her sit on a concrete block, or something equally or more uncomfortable.

“Sounds like a good idea to me,” her father responded. “Why don’t you two go test it out? Come back and let me know if it doesn’t work for you.”

Ruth nodded and led the way back to the tractor. Luckily, the sandbag worked and she didn’t have to try sitting on anything ridiculous for extra weight.

Grace’s book sounds like a fun farm adventure. I hope you’ll check it out! More about Grace:

Christian Young Adult and New Adult Books That Provoke Thought! Grace Marshall was Grace Marshallborn in Wisconsin, lived for some time in Illinois and Tennessee, and currently resides in Missouri. She juggles her time between her cat, her oversized dog, her part-time job, her business, and her dashing husband. She believes in living life to the fullest and can’t wait to see where God will take her or have her write next.

She is the author of the “Horse Haven” series and “Person of Faith,” and has also contributed several articles to newspapers. Find out more about Grace at

Scavenger Hunt

Callum’s Compass has been on preorder for one week! I am so thankful to those of you who have purchased or who have let me know you are excitedly awaiting the print copy. I can’t wait either!

In Callum’s Compass, Kat Williams goes on a treasure hunt in and around Anderson County, TN, looking for clues at local businesses and on Norris Lake. So, I thought it might be fun to play a game of our own! As you know, the Callum’s Compass launch party event is coming on scavengerhuntNovember 4th, 2017, here in Oak Ridge, TN, or on Facebook for those of you who do not live locally. I have been placing flyers for my event all over Anderson County, and I am still getting out to local businesses and asking to display them in windows.

Which brings me to the scavenger hunt! For the next three weeks, until November 3rd, on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, I will be leaving clues on my Facebook author page about a different location where I have left a flyer. If you leave a comment and guess where that flyer is, I will enter your name in the drawing for the preorder $10 Amazon gift card! Don’t live here in East Tennessee? That’s okay, you can guess too. Google is a very powerful tool! And, as long as you give it a try, you don’t have to get it right. Just give me a good guess!


-One guess equals one entry, limit one entry per location

-Names will be entered alongside the ones who preorder my book. If you guess and preorder, that gives you two entries. Guess on more than one clue and that’s three and so on.

-The winner will be drawn on November 3rd, 2017 at 10:00 AM EST and notified by email

Bonus opportunities:

-Snap a selfie of you and the flyer at that day’s location and get an extra entry (that’s two for one clue), tag me when you upload it to your Facebook page, and let me know where you found the flyer. That’s it!

-Share any of my posts relating to the preorder, the clue, or the scavenger hunt in general on your Facebook page and get one bonus entry per share

Fine print: I reserve the right to add or change rules as necessary if things aren’t working smoothly for some reason. If you visit one of these locations to snap a selfie, consider purchasing something and supporting these local businesses!


This place has the best mocha cappuccino milkshake. I’ll be baskin’g in the yummy goodness as soon as I take the first sip. Clinton, TN.

Have fun! (Did I mention I love scavenger and treasure hunts?!?)

Farm Life from the Farmer’s Wife: Shucky Beans

Down on the Farm—Grandma’s Shucky Beans

Catherine Castle

Some of my fondest childhood memories are of visiting my grandparents down on their farm.

Mom and Dad would pack us up in the car after Dad got home from work and we’d drive down into the hills of Kentucky for the weekend.

The house would always be dark when we arrived. Grandma and Grandpa didn’t have a phone, so they were never expecting us on our weekend trips. It was probably only nine or ten p.m. when we arrived, but my grandparents were farmers who went to bed with the chickens the minute it got dark outside.

The moment Daddy pounded on the door, my grandparents awoke and the lights came on. After hugs and kisses, we were hustled into the kitchen for hand pies, cornbread, leftover shucky beans, and meat. It never failed to amaze me how much food Grandma had on hand, especially since it was only her and Grandpa there. The hand pies were half-moon pastries made from dried apples Grandma had preserved. The meat varied, depending on whether she’d killed a chicken or they had purchased beef from someone. The shucky beans were the item my mouth always watered for—and still does today. It’s been years since I’ve eaten them, but I remember the salty, silky texture of the once-dried bean.

You say you don’t know what shucky beans are?

Shucky beans are green beans that have been dried in the shell. Shucky beans were always on the table at Grandma’s house. In fact, I don’t remember ever eating any other kind of green bean when we visited her.


Shucky beans from my freezer

Mom and Grandma always used white half-runner beans, although I do remember Mom using other green beans when she couldn’t get half-runners. Every summer we would visit Grandma and help her preserve the veggies from her garden. Getting the shucky beans ready was something I could do as a child, because Grandma preserved her beans the old-fashioned way. She strung them on cotton thread and hung them on the back porches until they dried.

The process was time consuming, but I don’t remember minding it at all. While the black-eyed Susans nodded in the breeze at the front of the yard, I strung my pan of beans sitting on the white porch swing, listening to the chains creaking softly above me and Mom and Grandma talk. There was something satisfying about watching the green column of beans grow on the thread, knowing I was going to enjoy the taste of them in the fall and winter. Grandma always shared some of the crop with us.

Below are the quick instructions for making Shucky Beans as given to me by my mother. My additional clarification comments are in parenthesis. Notice there are no amounts given for beans: Grandma and Mom just strung them until they were all picked from the garden. From my research I’ve discovered a bushel of fresh beans makes about 1 gallon of Shucky Beans.

Grandma and Mom’s Shucky Bean Recipe

Pick white, half-runner beans when they have a bean in them. Do not wash beans. Break ends and remove the string from the beans. Using a sturdy needle and white cotton string, knotted on one end, string the beans. (Pierce the bean pod and not the bean with the needle.) When the string is almost full, tie the ends and place in a warm place to dry: an attic, porch, or in the direct sun.

(Depending on how you plan to dry them, either tie the ends together to make a circle, or make a loop in one end, so they can be hung on a nail. You could also just knot the other end and drape over a clothes line.  I know Grandma hung hers on the back porches, but I’ve read about other cooks drying their beans on sheets laid on patio tables, car hoods, and even spread in the back window of a vehicle. If you don’t want to do this the old fashioned way, you can use a food dehydrator.)

Once the beans have dried, they can be stored in the freezer in plastic freezer bags. Just be sure they are really dry before you store them. (When you can run your fingers through a batch and hear a rattling sound, reminiscent of the sound dried corn shucks make, beans should be dry enough to store.)

To Cook: Place the beans, strings and all, in a pot and boil for 30 minutes. Drain the water and rinse the beans. Take them off the strings and place in a clean pot with more water and seasonings. (A cottage ham or slab of bacon works well as seasoning). Cook until tender. (About 2-2 ½ more hours.)

Some recipes call for the beans to be washed before stringing.  Grandma didn’t use pesticides, so she didn’t have to worry about chemicals. If you wash the beans before stringing, make sure they are hung where the air can reach all sides to prevent spoilage. Other recipes also suggest removing the beans from the string before boiling. I’m not sure which method works best, since I can’t recall what I did the one time I cooked the beans.

Have you ever eaten Shucky Beans? How did you like them?

Thank you so much for sharing your story and recipe with us, Catherine. I have never had shucky beans (my family is originally from Ohio and California and I doubt they know what shucky beans are ha!), but my curiosity is piqued and I can’t wait to try this!

Although Catherine Castle is a city girl, her roots are in the country, thanks to Grandma, Grandpa and her summers spent on the farm.

She’s also the author of the multi-award-winning inspirational suspense romance, The CT Bio 8x11Nun and the Narc, and the sweet romantic comedy, with a touch of drama, A Groom for Mama. Catherine loves writing, reading, traveling, singing, watching movies, and the theatre. In the winter she quilts and has a lot of UFOs (unfinished objects) in her sewing case. In the summer her favorite place is in her garden, another thing she picked up from Grandma. She’s a passionate gardener who won a “Best Hillside Garden” award from the local gardening club.

Her debut inspiration romantic suspense, The Nun and the Narc, from Soul Mate Publishing was an ACFW Genesis Finalist, a 2014 EPIC finalist, and the winner of the 2014 Beverly Hills Book Award and the 2014 RONE Award. Both of her books are available on Amazon.

AGroomforMama2_200Beverly Walters is dying, and before she goes she has one wish—to find a groom for her daughter. To get the deed done, Mama enlists the dating service of Jack Somerset, Allison’s former boyfriend.

The last thing corporate-climbing Allison wants is a husband. Furious with Mama’s meddling, and a bit more interested in Jack than she wants to admit, Allison agrees to the scheme as long as Mama promises to search for a cure for her terminal illness.

A cross-country trip from Nevada to Ohio ensues, with a string of disastrous dates along the way, as the trio hunts for treatment and A Groom For Mama.

You can connect with Catherine at:

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Preorder Day!!

I am so excited to announce that Callum’s Compass is available for eBook preorder today. If you planned on purchasing an eBook copy, now’s the time. It’s at a discounted Inspirational Romantic Suspense (2)price of $2.99 until November 7th, when it will go up to regular market price. I am so thankful for all the support and encouragement I’ve seen from friends, family, fellow writers, and even strangers. You guys are amazing! Visit Amazon now for more information! And don’t hesitate to contact me if you have any questions or comments!

Today’s extra special announcement: If you preorder Callum’s Compass and send me a picture, either on social media or by email, of your confirmation (I do NOT want any payment information included in this!) I will enter you in the drawing for a $10 Amazon gift card!

Cover Reveal Giveaway!!

It’s here! I LOVE my cover and I hope you do too. Diane Turpin with Mantle Rock Publishing did a FANTASTIC job! The eBook goes on preorder Tuesday, October 10th, on Amazon. I cannot wait! Callum's Compass Cover

Remember to leave me a comment here on this blog by clicking on the title of the blog and scrolling down to the bottom or by clicking on the add comment link to the left of the blog. Though I would love Facebook and Twitter comments too, only the ones here will count toward the drawing. The winner will be drawn Monday morning at 10 AM EST.

The book launch event will be November 4th, 2017 at 6:30 PM at the Historic Grove Theater in Oak Ridge, TN. We will have a free showing of Peter Pan, free refreshments, door prizes, a book excerpt reading, and book signing (a limited number of copies will be available for Callum's Copy Book Launch Event Flyerthe signing.) And, we will be having a silent auction with proceeds benefiting our team’s Philippines Mission Trip 2018 fundraiser. Please plan to come out and spend an evening with your family. I would love to see you!

A big thank you to my sponsors, Dr. Chris Hosenfeld at Apple Health and Wellness, Becky Eller of Becky Eileen Fine Art Pencil Drawing, Pat Stansberry of Southern Homes and Realty, Shannon Wilder with Modere Live Clean products; my hubby, Josh Foust, with our farm 5L Farm; my brother and his family, Caleb, Leia, and Coraline Campbell; my parents, Richard and Barbara Campbell, Kelly Lanz of Clinton Physical Therapy, and that anonymous best friend of mine (you know who you are)! And extra hugs to Tracey Thompson and Whitney Thompson for helping me with decorations and logistics. I really could not have put together this launch party event without you! For more information about the book launch and to see some photos of the door prizes, check out my events page!