Pitchfork & Pen—Cherry Hill House—If a House Could Talk


I love architecture. I have no desire to be an actual architect, I just have a love of the art behind it. Or rather the product of an architect’s work.

I enjoy viewing all old buildings, including businesses and houses (my favorite). The older the better.

There are a few in my neighborhood that are well over 75 years old. Some I remember Cherry Hill 2
from my youth are well over one hundred.  The windows are long gone, and the doors (if they exist) hang crookedly. One house I pass on a regular basis has upper story windows you can see through from one end of the house to the other.

A few months ago, a friend on Facebook remarked on a picture posted by one of his friends of an old home in Virginia. When I lived there I passed by that house regularly. I commented on the post and soon a conversation was going. Stories were told about the people who had lived there and what the inside looked like. This house had seven porches. It was rumored to have a chandelier in the front entry made of ruby-colored crystals.

I think the thing that fascinates me the most about these old homes are the events that happened in the house. It sparks my imagination when I think of the stories the house itself could tell.

The old, weathered abandoned house sits idle; the history of births, deaths, and love still live within the walls. Children grew and played, grandparents told stories of their own youth over coffee at the kitchen table. Meals were cooked and consumed, holidays were celebrated. These houses are not living beings, but life flowed through them.

I love watching HGTV and seeing older homes renovated. Even if the house loses a lot of the original fixtures, life will continue to fill the rooms. A new home is brick, board, nails, and screws. It waits for its history to begin. Older homes continue to add to their history every day. They are the lucky ones.

The next time you ride down a country road and see an old house, abandoned and decaying, don’t think of it as an eyesore. Imagine a young woman waiting for her husband who was away fighting in a great war, or the man who sat anxiously in the parlor while his son or daughter came into the world in a bedroom above.

Can you see them? Open your mind and imagination. You will.


Read more from Tamara Hartl!

Mr. Larson’s Wonder Oil—WD-40. Over 2,000 Uses and Counting


My tack room has the normal things one would expect to find within. Tack, of course. Headstalls, reins, saddles, horse equipment, feed, first aid supplies, and grooming items—whatever is needed for riding.

But, my tack room would not be complete without one must-have item. WD-40. Continue reading “Mr. Larson’s Wonder Oil—WD-40. Over 2,000 Uses and Counting”

Pitchfork and Pen—In Memoriam, Steve McBroom


There are people in our world who will influence us and become positive forces in our lives.

If we are blessed, our parents will be the first to help mold us into the person we will become. The seed of our being is nurtured as it grows. Additional family members, teachers, friends, church members, and others will help foster us as we navigate life.

And if we are truly blessed, someone will make a lasting impression on us.

By now, you’ve probably discerned that I love horses. I have since I was old enough to know what one was. That love was infused in the make-up of my being. It is just who I am.

When I came into adulthood and went out into the world, I thought I was ready for anything. I immediately discovered that the learning does not end after high school and college—hence the term “learning process.” It is ongoing throughout your life.

It is with great sadness that I’ve learned that someone who was a major influence in my life has recently passed.

Stephen “Steve” Cushing McBroom was the owner/operator of Owl Hollow Farm. When I steve-mcbroomworked there, he raised and trained Morgan and Saddlebred horses.

Working with horses was something I really wanted to do, and after I made several trips to the farm, I guess he realized I would continue stalking him until he gave me a chance, so he relented and hired me

I wasn’t allowed to groom horses for the first couple of weeks. I was handed a muck bucket and a manure fork and I cleaned stalls. That’s it, and there were a LOT of stalls. And did I mention that I started in winter? Stall duty and cold temps did not sway me from my desire to work with the horses, and I owe my stall cleaning expertise to that experience.

Steve recognized my passion for horses and soon allowed me to groom and hot walk. I worked hard and learned everything that I could and eventually moved up to help tack and ready the horses for working.

Steve was a hard taskmaster, but a fair one as well. He believed if you did something you should do it correctly and efficiently. He also taught patience was paramount when working with horses, and that, like people, each one learns and progresses at its own pace. In addition, he encouraged observation. I have been able to catch colic and illness at early onset just by knowing normal animal behavior versus unusual behavior.

He answered all my questions. He explained the training procedures as he worked. Steve also listened to my thoughts and concerns, and there was never a gender issue. He never said, “You’re a girl. You can’t do it.”

Sometimes he would tell me I wasn’t ready for a particular task, but he would explain why, and what I needed to accomplish to get to where I wanted to go. By the time I left Owl Hollow Farm, I had made it to the position of Barn Manager. He affectionately called me the “Head Lad.”

screen-shot-2016-11-17-at-9-19-26-amSteve made a huge impact in my life. I cannot truly explain just how much. I think of him
nearly every day. Horses are still a huge part of my life. I currently take care of several horses for someone else, and I have five of my own. The people who share the “horsey side” of my life have heard me speak of Steve more than once.

The Steve I knew was a family man whose children were the most important thing in his world, and his horses, his “four legged children,” came second. I read that he was called the Gentleman Farmer. He was a true gentleman.

A friend shared the news of Steve’s passing. I can only say that I was stunned. He was one of those people who just seemed immortal. But I will always carry memories of my time in his company.

I feel strongly that as God’s creatures, horses run in green pastures in heaven. I can picture Steve leaning on a fence and watching this with a smile.

Thank you, Steve, for being a part of my life, and for sharing your wisdom. I will treasure it always.


Read more from Tamara Hartl.

Pitchfork and Pen—Puppy Power! For the love of a farm dog



I cannot think of any farm without at least one dog. Most have multiple dogs and cats.

Now I must confess, I’m a cat lover. We have many cats on our farm because they seem to know we will rescue them, take them in, and give them forever homes. There has to be a sign at the end of my drive visible only to cats that says, “She will feed you if you show up.”

But I also have four dogs that have come into our lives by the same path. Continue reading “Pitchfork and Pen—Puppy Power! For the love of a farm dog”