Monthly Archives: June 2011

An I-Love Post

By: Mary

I love all things equestrian. I always have and always will. As a child I dreamed of moving out west. So I did. In Wyoming I worked for a treatment program, and I rode as much as I could. I rode up into the mountains, I moved cattle, chased antelope, and on hot summer days, I would tie up the horse that I was using to a  tree so I could splash into cold streams.

But I didn’t love riding there as much as I love riding my horse here.

I love finding Mars out in his pasture and bribing him with grain.


After catching him, I love catching up with him.

Some days I don’t  bother tacking up at all. No saddle, no bridle. Just a halter and lead with the wind in my hair.

Other days I do.

At times, the inner balancing queen in me is unleashed.

Last of all: here I am. This is my favorite things of all to do while riding.. GALLOPING. I love speed and wind. I love gravity daring me to keep my balance and watching the gorgeous surroundings while I dash by. It’s a love that never grows old.

Petticoat Junction

by Kate

Late June is a beautiful time for a barn dance in Wisconsin. Last Saturday evening, the barn was scrubbed clean and hung with lights, and the Slattery girls were wearing flowers in their hair…


and beat up cowboy boots on their feet.

Who wears spurs at a square dance, you ask? Well, that would be Mary Brigid. She is a bit prickly every now and then. She’s also the only equestrian Slattery, so the only one of us who owns a pair. Here she is with her beloved Bub.

Nicole and Rob were there, glowing with newlywed bliss.

Rob looked particularly sharp with his bolo tie and big Texas belt buckle.

And Nicole’s white sundress was a perfect bridal barndance combo. Here she is with our neice Adeleine, beneath the towering lilacs on the path to my parent’s big white farmhouse.

Our sister in law Aurora looked gorgeous, as usual. She is the master of pulling together striking and exotic prints and bold jewelry.

It wasn’t just the girls getting gussied up. Even our brother Pat (author of the infamous Parody Post) threw on a cowboy hat and was ready to come out swing….. dancing.

We even managed to get all four Slattery sisters and our two beautiful sister in laws together for 20 seconds- long enough for one big barn door portrait.

And at about that time the rather extraordinary square dance caller from Hawkeye, Iowa showed up and the next part of the story unfolded. It’s quite a tale. Come on back and hear all about it!

Before We Dance

By Kate

The barn my brothers built at Sweet Ridge Farm is a beautiful sight. In the morning, the rising sun flashes off the silver roof set against the deep blue sky.

That barn just looks ready for a dance, doesn’t it? Of course, there were many things that had to happen before it could be danced in. My mother wrote them down on long lists every morning, laying the lists out on the big oak table and doling out chores to sons and daughters and guests alike. This was the one of the many lists the morning of the barn dance.

Much sweeping and mopping ensued. Nicole, the blushing recent bride, was drafted to pick the tops of the gallons of strawberries my father brought home from his Amish friend. Our strawberries patches had become pretty ragged over the years, and this year my Dad ploughed them up. He took a case of asparagus over to his Amish friend though, and worked out a trade. Nicole may or may not have dressed to match the gallons of strawberries.

Nicole’s family, visiting from Oklahoma, were pulled into the strawberry production line as well.

Mary slipped away from the hordes of helpers and into the garden to work on flowers for the dance.

Mary is not only a gifted gardener, but an amazing floral arranger. This conveniently allows her to disappear from the frantic groups of sweeping, mopping, arguing, hauling masses of people working on events and spend time alone with a pair of scissors in the quiet haven of the garden.

Her floral work is really creative and beautiful.

We had an old milk can on hand which made for a pretty stunning display at the barn door.

Granted it leaked a bit, but a cheerful rug fixed that.

The leaky milk can also inspired us to mop the sawdust off the barn floor. There is only so much you can do with a glamorous plywood floor, but we did it- and it looked great.

 As I was mopping, I was struck by the realization that my parents really should seriously consider going into the wedding and event business. I worked with a lot of farmers in North Carolina to do business planning around farm tourism, and as a harpist I see tons of event centers and play for wedding receptions and fancy events all over the place. My parent’s are uniquely poised to make this work. They have a beautiful location, the church parking lots are right next to the farm, the barn is gorgeous, and the views are amazing. Here is the deck of the barn overlooking the valley.

The deck really adds a lot of space and a great design element to the upper floor. We set up the food on the lower level, where the kitchen will be built in the future.

There is also a great view from the garden full of flowers- and Mary on hand to do lots of value added floral arrangements to add to the event package.

My father’s fields are also beautiful, lush, and full of asparagus, grapes, garlic, berries, and a profusion of seasonal delicacies. They are already planning on putting a certified kitchen in the bottom of the barn, so it would be possible to offer catering or allow caterers to come in and work events.

 It is an exciting and, in my opinion, totally realistic plan for the future. What do you think? Do you know anyone who is interested in a wedding reception, barn dance, birthday party, or elegant celebration of any kind in 2012? Would you like to rent the Sweet Ridge Farm Barn? Let us know! Tomorrow, we’ll post pictures of the dance, so you can see what a celebration looks like in full swing.

More pictures of the barn dance here: Petticoat Junction

For Rob and Nicole’s love story see here: Our Red Dirt Royal Wedding and here: Letter to My Brother Rob

For the story of the wedding start here: Prepping for the Pilgramage and join along on the whole wild adventure.

Red Dirt Wedding Part One

Red Dirt Wedding Part Two

Red Dirt Wedding Part Three

Red Dirt Wedding Part Four

Flying Tin Foil

(Kate’s Note- Pictures of the whirlwind of preparation and barn dance festivities coming soon.)

by Mary

To prepare for the barn dance, I have been mixing large quantities of sugar and butter, along with whatever else specific recipes call for. Generally, baking doesn’t bother me. It is something that I can do for others. With a bit of organization in advance, it’s not a big deal to bake and freeze large quantities of food. (This month I have baked for four events.)

Anyhow, Patrick caught me in a sour mood the other day as he advanced towards fresh loaves of banana bread with a butcher knife in his hand. Despite me body blocking him, he helped himself to a generous slice of the warm banana bread. I handled this situation by hurling a roll of tin foil at his head and hissing ” you really think that I can multiply loaves?”

In part, my frustration was from last weeks episode with Raphael and James taking frozen baking out of the freezer. They felt that it was fine to help themselves and “share” with the rest of the family. Poor Peter Drake almost broke a tooth after he innocently discovered a bucket of frozen cookies on the counter. I hear the stream of cuss words that he emitted after taking a bit of the rock hard desert, outdid my venom towards Patrick.

Now that I am done with baking and hurling tin foil, I am starting to look forward to Saturday. I actually will be spending all day out at the Devil’s Hole Ranch, where I will be helping flip calves and maybe give shots at their annual Round Up. When I get home though, I will likely enjoy some food and drink, and make sure Patrick gets as much banana bread as he pleases.

Full to the Brim

by Colleen

The Slattery household is a crazy place in the summer. Without fail. So, it was incredibly foolish of me to think that this summer would be different, would be perhaps, quieter? Not that I liked the thought of the house filled with less than 14 people a night, but a change of scenery seemed to be in place for this summer. With only Raphael coming home from college and Robert moved out to an apartment in near by St. Joseph’s Ridge, the house held a disappointingly small amount of people for the first couple weeks of June: only 9! Oh, how quickly things change…

Patrick soon announced that he would be moving back home to work construction for a month, and he was bringing friends! So, two brothers from the hot, hot sun of Arizona were transplanted to Middle Ridge, Wisconsin (and soon set to work transplanting for my father). The population of the house was up once again, and the noise levels rose exponentially. The males of the household particularly enjoyed the boost in the amount of testosterone and soon set to participating in that time-honored Slattery tradition of wrestling on furniture.

Soon, the Arizona boys took their leave, after having probably lost three-fourths of their tans and most likely with colds.

Never fear, more people will appear! This phrase should be the anthem of the Slattery household during the summer months. After the departure of the Arizona boys, Kate arrived with the darling Olympia in tow for Robert and Nicole’s barn dance in celebration of their recent marriage. The dance is but a day away, and preparations are in full swing. Kate’s husband, Casey, is set to drive in today, as well as our cousin, Cale, who will be staying on for a month. His girlfriend is coming as well and staying for the weekend.

Our indefatigable cousin, Christopher, is staying in the house for the big weekend bash, and is most likely going to try to rope me into running with him as he bikes an insane distance, cerebral palsy or not.   And another cousin is attempting to join the fray, Greg.  He may be staying with us through Sunday as well.

And, last but certainly not least is the awesome news that I now have a roommate! My best friend, Jubilee, will be rooming with me for the rest of the summer, thus adding a new element to the general chaos that is the Slattery home in the summer.

I predict that I will start tripping over bodies on my way to the bathroom in the morning, and the predicted wait time to actually enter the bathroom will be about 10.3 minutes (and that’s if you are in the FRONT of the line).

So, my premature predictions of a quiet, empty-house summer quite obviously were wrong. And oh, how glad I am! The house is full to the brim, and so am I (with happiness).

Dazed By The Ridge – The Newest Sweet Ridge Sister

By Nicole

I am the newest addition to the Slattery clan. You have probably read a little about my wedding/the biggest change of my entire existence.  I am a product of the suburbs outside of Oklahoma City but now, to my surprise, I am living in St. Joseph’s Ridge, WI. To put it simply, this is a different world to me.  For most people getting married is a huge adjustment but for Kate and me it comes with more than just a husband and all new responsibilities. As my sister-in-law and I changed our last names we were uprooted from all things familiar. I hope you don’t mind me speaking for you Kate but our parallel lives are ironic to me. Kate- an independent, spirited country girl and Nicole- a content personality planning to always live close to the city and home, both realizing God had other plans
for us. The two of us essentially switched places, giving us a common ground on two different planes.  Kate now lives in the busy city of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and I am living in the scenic countryside of Wisconsin.

Though my life change was not foreseen, I am adjusting quite well to my new setting. Every time I get in the car I have to marvel at the landscape (and the fact that I only see another car every two or three minutes.)

Hello new life.

Hello new life.

Besides the occasional bout of homesickness, I am enjoying this new life of mine.  As I transition into a country girl I have gotten to experience lots of new things. Thus far, I have assisted in roofing a house, I have weeded cilantro with my beautiful new sisters,  I have begun to crave organic produce such as asparagus, I helped with a community barn demolition project,  I have taken up tennis, I have assumed the duties of Ascension Builders LLC’s secretary and I am learning to cook!  Sometimes I find myself dumbfounded by the ridge and the fact that I now call it home but I am on an extended adventure. I love my husband and he feels like “home;” my surroundings are slowly beginning to feel like” home” too.


Did you miss the Sweet Ridge story of Rob and Nicole’s gorgeous Red Dirt Wedding and Wisconsin Barn Dance? Here is is, in detail, with lots of pictures!

Our Red Dirt Royal Wedding

Red Dirt Wedding Part One

Red Dirt Wedding Part Two

Red Dirt Wedding Part Three

Red Dirt Wedding Part Four

Before We Dance

Petticoat Junction


Thunderstorm Morning

by Clare

Early yesterday morning, I awoke to the sound of rumbling thunder, pounding rain, and flashes of lightning illuminating the room every few seconds. A thunderstorm. Usually I lie awake and listen to the storm for a while, and then gradually fall back asleep. But not that night. That thunderstorm was intent on keeping me up, and it got its job done. Soon I heard a scratching sound coming from somewhere in Mary’s room.

I’ve been sleeping in Mary’s room  lately because my brother’s come back for the summer and needed a room to  sleep in, so who’s room did he get? Mine. And he quickly trashed my beautiful, clean room. Mary and I are actually soul mates when it comes to sleep though, since we both share the gift of having quite a bit of trouble sleeping or staying asleep occasionally. We both agree it is a completely ridiculous necessity. But that’s not the point.

“Mary”, I tentatively asked, “what’s that sound?” I was afraid it was a mouse making its way into the bed or something, and I hate mice (though not nearly as much as Mary does). But it turned out it was only our old dog Bounder, who has had a fear of gunshots and thunder her whole long life.

Not long after, I couldn’t take lying awaking anymore and made my way downstairs, to find, to my horror, that it was 4:45 in the morning.  What could I do? I couldn’t go back to Mary’s bed. When I can’t sleep, I find my bed turns into a prison. Plus, Mary’s a bed and blanket hogger anyway. Miserable. So I brought out the Cheerios and Patrick’s laptop, which he foolishly keeps downstairs (don’t worry-I didn’t eat the Cheerios while on the computer- I think).  At around 5:30 my dad headed outside to start harvesting asparagus.

He was soon followed by my mom.

My dad loves waking up in the early mornings, but mom, like me, would much rather sleep until the late hours of the morning.

When I myself made it outside, I realized just how beautiful an early summer morning can be,  even to someone who has only gotten 5 hours of sleep. But next time, I’d like to just sleep in, thank you very much.