The Forest Friends Series' illustrations can be completed through the young reader's imagination. After reading, extension activities reinforce reading comprehension skills. Each book has an Enrichment page for parents and educators to build the learning experience.
Life Lesson: Being a good listener and not spreading rumors
Life Lesson: Being content and appreciating friends
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Life Lesson: Not bullying and being respectful
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When Paw, the hardworking farmer and patriarch, passes away, Jess and his family struggle to move on. They keep thinking about how Paw woulda been tending the fields and gardens, how he woulda been at Jess’s 10th birthday party to help him blow out the candles, and how he woulda been readying Boots, the farm’s newest Jersey calf, for the county fair. As the seasons change, they feel his absence every day. But when what woulda been Paw’s 78th birthday rolls around, Jess and his family decide to celebrate his life and memory by throwing a Woulda Been party with all their closest friends. In this heartfelt and inspiring story, Jess learns how to overcome his woulda been mentality through community, remembrance, and giving back.
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Even though Penny is a retired educator with over 34 years experience teaching middle school social studies and language arts, she substitute teaches and tutors at Union Grove Elementary School. Her husband, Reid, and she live on Rocky Ridge Farm in Northern Iredell County where they raised their three sons: Reuben, Adam, and Jesse.
Professionally, Penny, along with other North Carolina educators, assisted North Carolina State University in developing ancillary materials for a seventh grade social studies textbook. In addition, an article was published in the children’s magazine, Appleseeds, as well as, “Tom, Sam and Bob Tales”, published as chapters in the weekly newspaper, The Iredell Citizen. Much of her writing has been for sharing as a lay speaker in the United Methodist Church and presentations in leadership positions in Alpha Delta Kappa, an international honorary organization for female educators.
In 2006, Penny carved out three acres of the farm to plant a muscadine and scuppernong grape vineyard which she named Grietje’s Garden Vineyard of Rocky Ridge Farm. To learn more about the vineyard, you can visit NC Farm Fresh or click on the links provided below.
She spends time working in the vineyard, gardening, serving in her church, and building relationships and completing altruistic projects through Alpha Delta Kappa.
Penny said, “Yes, I am busy. God intends for us to live our lives so that we grow into our full potential and to use our talents to serve all we can. With God being first, the most important people in my life are my family. Spending quality time with our children and their precious families brings me the most joy.”
Penny’s current children’s books include the Forest Friends Series: Mushroom’s Day Away, Frog’s Lily Pad and Turtle’s Troubled Day.
Some quotes to ponder:
“Remember your dreams and fight for them. You must know what you want from life. There is just one thing that makes your dream become impossible: the fear of failure.” Paulo Coelho
“The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.” Eleanor Roosevelt
— Penny Swart Ledbetter
Rocky Ridge Farm and Grietje's Garden Vineyard
Reid and I have farming in our backgrounds through our parents and grandparents. We love being in the country and are grateful to have been able to raise our 3 sons on the farm where they grew up playing and fishing in the creek behind our home, exploring the woods, and building camps and forts. Over the years beef cattle, sheep and Jersey cows found their homes here on the farm, and our children learned many life skills through their farm chores and showing livestock and sheep at the Iredell County, Dixie Classic and North Carolina State fairs.
Now we have diversified Rocky Ridge Farm, as many in agriculture have had to do with their farms. Reid takes care of the Jersey cows and the Jersey calves that are raised to sell, as well as, keeping up with the bee hives throughout the farm. This includes pasture management, fencing, bush hogging or whatever needs to be done to keep this area safe and healthy for the animals.
Grietje's Garden Vineyard is part of Rocky Ridge Farm. I manage this 2 acre(400 vines) muscadine and scuppernong vineyard. Grapes are harvested and sold to wineries, breweries, wholesale fruit markets. Individuals may also come to pick or place orders for grapes to be picked up. From the harvest, some grapes are taken to DVine Foods in Elizabethtown, NC. At this USDA approved facility, the grapes are processed and made into juices, alcohol free wines and vinaigrettes. Some grapes are also processed on the farm and the juice taken to the Amish operated Dutch Kettle jelly making facility in Hamptonville, NC. About 75 blueberry bushes are also on the farm and are available for picking in season. No pesticides are used on the grapes or blueberries to prevent harm to the honey bees. The reward is a bountiful harvest of grapes!
With the continuing need to diversify, a small event venue was constructed. This is available for rental for day seminars/workshops, bridal or baby showers. Small weddings
of 50 or less have also been held here. We are an alcohol free venue
Value added products available at the farm site. No on-line sales
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