Shades of Harvest

Ready For Harvest.JPG

The seasons are definitely changing in our area.  All the lush green fields have turned to shades of browns.  They even sound different.  The leaves on the corn stalks rustle dryly with the slightest breeze. And there is a smell in the air that only comes from damp leaves slowly disintegrating into the soil.

Where fields were once alive and growing they are now dead-looking, dry and ready to be harvested. The soybeans have mostly been combined and farmers have now moved on to the corn fields.

Bean Field at Dusk.JPG

As I stood on my porch I could hear the sounds of harvest going on around me. The sound of tractors, wagons and combines rolling through those fields of Iowa corn, harvesting millions of beautiful, golden kernels. It is the sound of compensation for the worry, sweat and prayers that have gone into that crop since the day the seeds were put in the ground.

I did not get a picture of a wagon full of corn as my husband brought them back empty after unloading them at the local grain elevator. Perhaps tomorrow I can get that accomplished.

Wagons Waiting to be Refilled.JPG

The roads to town are filled with these same tractors and wagons making their way to the local grain elevators. Our radio stations even warn us to all be more alert as we travel during this time of year as the farmers move at a slower pace than the rest of the traffic.

There is a beauty to this season that is fall.  The beauty lies in the quiet evenings that echo with the distant hum of grain dryers and farmers staying late in the fields.  There is a beauty in the many shades of brown and the leaves that are turning yellow and beginning to fall and carpet the ground. There is beauty in the smell that comes up from the earth as it is once again uncovered after a field is combined.

So many things about fall are a feast for the senses. The colors that draw your eyes to the edge of the river, the red blaze of a sugar maple, the rustle of dry grass and withered corn leaves, the lonesome sound of geese as they fly south for the winter, the feel of moist dirt that falls off a newly dug potato, the chill of the evening air, the frost sparkling on the grass in the morning,  and the smell of wood smoke coming from the chimney.

There is such a timeless feel to the changing of the seasons. Perhaps because it is timeless. There is a comfort in the continuity of this cycle of life. There is a comfort in knowing that it has been this way since the beginning of time and it will continue till the end of time.

It is a blessing to live in a place where the seasons are so ingrained in the rhythm of our lives. It takes a certain faith to put those seeds in the ground in the spring and wait for the harvest. There is a blessing in being dependent and it has given me a deep appreciation for what the Creator has gifted us.

May you see the blessing this weekend.


22 “As long as the earth endures,
seedtime and harvest,
cold and heat,
summer and winter,
day and night
will never cease.”
Genesis 8:22
New International Version (NIV)





Garage Doors, Woodchucks & Life Lessons

Door Installation.JPG

My husband and I have been attempting to install a garage door these last two days. I am quite proud of the fact that so far it is going quite well and we hope to have it accomplished by tomorrow night. (I realize that a professional would be laughing their backsides off right now over the fact that it is taking us this long.)

These are probably “vintage” garage doors. We purchased two of them over 5 years ago and they have both been neatly stored in the machine shed, waiting for the day we got brave enough to try install them. This week IS the week when we are learning garage door installation as we are putting one of them in. Thank heaven for google and the instructions you can find there.  They do give you an instruction booklet with your garage door kit; but there are not nearly enough pictures and diagrams…..

Getting the doors on the garage, is one of the milestones in our home improvement project. Another milestone, in the garage construction, was laying a cement floor a few years back.  Before that it was a very powdery, uneven dirt floor. It is unreal how dusty your back hallway can get from all that fine powdery dirt when it is hauled in on the bottom of your shoes.


While we were still in the dirt floor phase we had a resident
groundhog/woodchuck make our garage his home. We aptly named him “Chuck”. (It could be we also lacked imagination in the name game.)
Chuck had holes dug everywhere in our garage and they all led to his underground home. During that
particular winter he was probably the warmest,hibernating groundhog ever.

He lived in our garage during a previous presidential election season. I found it kind of funny that he decided to line his home with the plastic from the candidate signs that were stored in our garage after that election. I wonder what Chuck would do with the signs from this years’ candidates? I think underground might be the best place for these particular candidates’ signs! He was probably a woodchuck who was way ahead of his time when it comes to discernment during election season.

There are times I think it would be handy to be like Chuck. When it gets below zero in the wintertime I think hibernating would be a fine thing to do. Below zero weather is so over-rated and to sleep through the coldest, snowiest months would not be all bad. I don’t think I would like missing the holidays though; so…… maybe not such a great time to be asleep? Hmmmmmm, I will have to think on that one a bit more.

I do know I will enjoy the garage doors once they are on and operational. The wild critters that have used our garage as a home through the years might not like it; but I will not miss all the chicken feathers (and other chicken “stuff”), the bits of twigs from birds nesting in the rafters, wild critters roaming in and out, and other bits and pieces from the outdoors blowing around in our garage.

I have the feeling that once those doors are on we are going to sit back and wonder why we waited so long. Sometimes life, things and projects can look so intimidating until you actually get started on them. Sometimes I think we just need to open the box, take out the parts, read the manual and get to it.

I am pretty sure Chuck never gave a thought to failure when he decided, those many years ago, to make our garage his winter home. He did not worry about being chased out or if he was welcome. He just came on in and did what he needed to do.

I may have to re-read this post the next time an intimidating project lays too long in the back of the shed. I may have to think like Chuck and just come on in.  I may have to remind myself to “just get to it” the next time life seems overwhelming or just to hard to even get started. I wonder if I am the only one who ever feels this way……I suspect I am not.


“We must be willing to fall flat on our faces. Fearlessly putting ourselves out there is simply a required part of the process. At the very least, it results in the gift of humility and, at best, the triumph of our human spirit.”
Jill Badonsky









Road Trips and Memories

The Boyden Pit.JPG

Yesterday was a wonderful, slow, autumn Sunday. As there was nothing urgent taking place in the afternoon we decided it would be a good time to take a little road trip. My husband had a couple ideas of places to go and we picked one that brought back a lot of memories.

The place we decided to head for was a spot that we used to visit a lot as teenagers……the Boyden Pit. Back when we were in high school it was the place to be on a hot summer afternoon. After hot sweaty mornings of walking beans it was a great place to go and cool off.

The beach was small and did not have the greatest sand, but it was always full of teenagers, moms with little kids and was loud with the sound of laughter, water splashing, and the tunes belting out of multiple battery operated radios. It was the perfect place to see others and to be seen.

All we needed for a great afternoon was a beach towel, a  radio, a few snacks, some pop, and as many friends as we could round up. We didn’t worry about sunscreen… cancer was not on the radar that decade. In fact we would use baby oil to get the great dark tan that we all coveted.

There weren’t any life guards on this beach and we were all responsible for our own safety. We did make sure to swim in pairs if we were swimming out to “the island”. (I am not sure it was really an island but it was on the other side of the pit and seemed to take forever to get there.)

I don’t know the entire history of the Pit. I do know it was a former sand/gravel pit where some company or other dug out the sand and gravel to use in other places. Once they had gotten as much as they wanted the machinery was taken away and water filled the hole that was left. It became a natural place for people to go and cool off on steamy summer days and nights.

There was even a massive cottonwood tree with a rope attached for those who wanted to swing off the cliff, dangle precariously over the water and let go in a timely manner. If you did not let go soon enough you slammed back into the cliff and slid, in an inglorious fashion, down the face of the cliff and into the water.


Later the tree met it’s end when it was sawed down because too many people had hurt themselves. (Our high school Bible teacher ended up having surgery after smashing his heel against that cliff wall.) All that remains of the tree is the weathered stump in the photo above.  It was a sad day for those who loved the thrill of flying over the water and plummeting to the water 20 feet below. I never had the urge to attempt that feat after having witnessed the slamming and sliding type of end to a swing on the rope.

It seemed that with the death of the big cottonwood; a lot of changes came to the Pit. Someone drowned and the Pit was closed for a number of years due to insurance issues. The beach that once was alive with shouts and laughter slowly grew over with weeds and small trees. The concrete bath house was torn down and only a non-functional light pole remains to mark it’s location.

Some years back the County took over the Pit area and began the task of turning it into a place where people would once again picnic, fish and camp.  It is not the same as it was back in the day I regularly visited it…. there are some things I like better and some memories that are hard to let go.

The beach area is no longer available for swimming as there is no swimming allowed.  People now come with their canoes, fishing poles, tents and campers. They come and once again this place is a place for people to spend time together.

The quiet that is this fall season, lays like a blanket over this area. The mowed path that now makes it’s way around the pit is an invitation to take a walk and listen to the leaves rustle in the wind. It is fun to observe the frogs sitting on the rotted logs at the water’s edge and to see the birds flit from tree to tree.

I have a feeling it is the same quiet that held this place way back before it’s years as a gravel pit. It is probably the same quiet that descended when the pit was closed to the public for those many years. It is a quiet that permeates this place and seeps into the soul when you stand quietly at the water’s edge.

The “new” pit is a beautiful, peaceful place. For those who did not come here in the 70’s and 80’s it is probably hard to imagine how noisy it once was. All I have to do is stand on the overgrown beach, close my eyes, and those days once again play out in my mind like scenes from an old movie.

I think I have enjoyed the best of both worlds that make up the life of this place.  I have lived the vibrant, noisy memories of my youth spent on this beach and I am also getting to soak in the quiet, soul-nourishing peace that it is now. It is indeed a blessing.

All changes, even the most longed for,
have their melancholy;
for what we leave behind us is a part of ourselves;
we must die to one life before we can enter another.
~Anatole France

Somebody Turn the Light On!

Tea and Banana Bread.JPG

Oh. My. Word.  I had such a senior moment today that I can hardly believe myself!  I had spent the day baking and decorating sheet cakes for our church. (We are celebrating Pastor Appreciation Month this coming Sunday), baking muffins for an all day meeting tomorrow, and banana breads to just have on hand.

My husband and I were sitting and waiting for our after dinner tea to be done heating in the microwave and smelling the wonderful smell of banana bread baking in the oven when the buzzer sounded.  I leapt out of my chair and went to take the bread out, opened the oven and thought, “What in the world is wrong with the banana bread?”

I made the mistake of voicing this thought out loud in front of my husband.  His first question was wondering (also aloud) if I had forgotten a certain ingredient.  He began naming ingredients (some that don’t even go in banana bread). I told him that I had remembered ALL the ingredients and that forgetting one would not make the bread “goopy and undone-looking”.

As I was standing there looking at the breads that were just sitting there looking goopy while they sat in their loaf pans in my oven , it occurred to me that the timer buzzing might, just might have been the microwave for the tea. It was a light bulb coming on kind of moment! (I wonder if it used to be a candle-lighting moment before there was electricity?)

I am pretty sure that my husband sometimes really wonders about the state of my brain. He is probably very sure that at times someone has snuffed most, if not all of the candles out that were supposed to be lighting all those deep dark areas. Hopefully he just thinks that I do it to keep him on his toes.

I remember going to a conference where the speaker was a woman. She had a solution for some of these less than stellar moments….always keep a can of corn on the step.  That way if you go up or downstairs for something, forget what that something was and don’t want to admit to that fact….you can always carry the can of corn along with you and look like you really do know what you are doing.

Unfortunately I think that strategy requires not wondering aloud what is wrong with the banana bread. My theory is that we can only hold so much information in our brains and then we need to kick some tidbit of information out to make room for more.  I am pretty sure that is the only way multi-tasking works.

Sometimes our lives just get too busy to keep everything straight and we mess up. When these oops moments happen we have two choices….we can see the humor in it or we can beat ourselves up for doing something wrong.  On this one, I am choosing humor. If you are like me, in the past, you have spent too much time picking the other choice.

Life really is too short to spend in second-guessing yourself so take a deep breath, realize that some things are not a life altering moment and go light a candle to brighten the darkness.  Who knows… may even brighten the day for those around you and sharing your experiences might make life easier for someone else.

Light Your World.JPG

A human being is fashioned with innumerable qualities
which makes a soul shine in the darkness like a candle lighting up
every nook and cranny of the universe
…A human is a soul carrying a flame forever.

Malika E Nura quotes


Warm Comfort for Cold Weather

Creamy Cauliflower and Broccoli Soup.JPG

Tonight and the next couple days promise to give us a little advance taste of the coming cold of winter.  The weather man keeps telling us that a wide spread killing freeze is coming to our area tonight…..I believe him!

We are in that awkward phase in the Midwest between hot muggy summer days and cold freezing winter days. Some of our days are absolutely beautiful and warm; they are dry, sunny and golden . Tomorrow, according to the weather man, does not promise to be one of those days.

This afternoon we spent some time digging out the sweet potatoes as I have heard they cannot be left in the ground when there is a killing freeze. I have never grown sweet potatoes but thought I would give them a try this year. I only planted a couple of plants and was curious to know how they did.  There were not a lot of them but it will be fun to try to make sweet potato fries……when I find a recipe.

Sweet Potatoes.JPG

There are also many hills of regular white potatoes that are needing to be dug out.  Fortunately those are not quite as fussy as sweet potatoes and can stay in the ground a little while longer. The pie pumpkins need to be picked and put somewhere to be stored until I have some time to cook them out, puree, and freeze to be used for pies, muffins, bars and breads later in the year. The harvest season is always busy with a variety of things to do.

I am grateful for the time between soybean harvest and combining field corn.  That is when my husband has time to do the digging up of produce. It always seems to be a race with the weather at that point. Usually the weather pattern is unsettled and it can range from beautiful to rainy and sometimes even flurries of snow.

With the cold weather coming I was in the mood to make soup. This morning I decided to make Cream of Cauliflower Soup. (I also add Broccoli if I have it.)  I got this recipe many years ago from a friend named Ethel.  We always joke that pretty much any recipe that has Ethel’s name on it is going to be good…..and they always are!  (She might be the local  version of Betty Crocker!)

Anyway, here is the recipe for the soup:

Creamy Cauliflower Soup
1 large potato (peeled and diced)
1/2 cup celery (chopped)
1/2 cup carrots
1 head cauliflower

Cut all vegetables and cook 15 minutes till slightly tender.
Put in crock pot.
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 can cream of celery soup
2 soup cans milk
1/2 pound cheese
Cook about 4-6 hours in crock pot.
NOTE: I do like to use a bag of California Mix frozen vegetable in place of the head of cauliflower.
you can also use broccoli instead of cauliflower.
For the cheese I use Velveeta as I like the smooth texture it gives.

This makes a large batch and is wonderfully smooth and creamy.  I have a feeling it is not a diet soup but I like to console myself that during the busy seasons a person needs a hearty soup.

May you also enjoy the warm comfort of a bowl of soup on a cool fall day.

I think that women just have a primeval instinct to make soup,
which they will try to foist on anybody who looks like a likely candidate.
Dylan Moran

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Strength Courage Hope.jpg

For some reason October has been chosen as Breast Cancer Awareness month. I have no idea if there is a significant reason for choosing October over any other month of the year.  I do know it is good to have a reminder to get your mammogram.

One of the favorite stories on my mom’s side of the family has to do with my grandma and mammograms. Grandma was a women who took staying healthy kind of seriously. She had surgeries to correct things like carpel tunnel, bad hips and gallbladders gone bad. She also made sure she had her annual physical.

When Grandma was into her upper 80s or 90s (I am not sure which) she made her annual trip to the Dr. to get all the necessary checking and testing done. She came home ticked off……really ticked off. She called my mom and voiced her complaint. They had not even given her that “mammography” test! Mom tried to calm her down by telling her that they wouldn’t do them at her age because if they found something what would they do? Would she be physically capable of going through surgery if something was found?  Mom got off the phone (Grandma still mumbling) and relayed the conversation to the rest of us. It has become one of my favorite mammogram stories about a family member.

I remember one very memorable “mammography” where I was the victim patient. I followed all the instructions…..changed into that very fashionable attractive gown, sat and waited in a little room with a big machine and waited a little longer.

Not too much later, the technician came in and had me take my place by the machine. We went through all the steps and she took her place behind the shield to start the process. (I always kind of wonder how much radiation I am getting and shouldn’t I have one of those shields too? I have a friend, Carolyn, who wonders what would happen, at this point if an earthquake hit?) It didn’t take long and she told me I could take a step back from the machine. I stood there for just a bit and pondered how I was going to do that…..I was still firmly held in the grip of the machine!

I calmly informed the tech of that fact; and how if I could step back that would be a pretty neat trick. I have never seen someone move so fast to punch the appropriate buttons to release me. I have also not heard anyone apologize so profusely!  I had to laugh (which amazed her). I was told there were women who would NOT take a circumstance like this with humor. I did think that was too bad as most of the good stories come from crazy stuff like this and the ability to see the funny side of it.

My thought was that if this was the worst life dealt me I had better get on my knees and thank the Lord. If you do have concerns about having a mammogram; I love this advice from Barbara Johnson – Breast Gymnastics. If you are still concerned and need something to calm you down make sure you open a bottle and take a big whiff of Stress Away…..maybe even apply some to your wrists and just keep sniffing.

However you feel about mammograms just make sure you get one done as it could possibly save your life. I have friends who have had breast cancer and it is a hard road to walk. Have your mammogram and catch it early.

Happy Preparing and Happy Mammogram!!


“Whoever thought of the word mammogram?
Every time I hear it I think I am supposed
to put my breast in an envelope
and send it to someone.”






Crossing the Canning Border

Apple Juice.JPG

Quarts of Apple Goodness


I think this week I finally crossed the border from “canning the produce season” into “using the canned goods season”. I finally dealt with the cooler full of apples that has been standing by my kitchen counter for the last two weeks. My excuse for procrastinating was they (the apples) looked like they needed a little more ripening……I am sticking with that excuse.

I really do like the season of harvesting the garden produce and preserving it for use in the coming year.  It always seems like somewhat of a race to beat the weather, the bugs, the heat, the “girls” (my chickens, for those of you who are first time visitors here), and the voles that seem to love burrowing in my garden and eating the things like potatoes and carrots.

Today I finished those apples and turned them into beautiful quarts of apple juice. I always need to be sure to have juice on hand for when my grandbabies come. It is one of their favorite things about coming to the Chicken Grandma’s house. (it ranks right behind chasing chickens, picking up rocks, throwing rocks, taking a bath in the big claw-foot tub, having tea parties and following Grandpa around).

As I washed those canned jars of juice it occurred to me that once again I would be needing to move a few things around in my pantry. I headed over that way and moved empty jars (yes I still have some) around to make room for the full jars. Pamela at BeeOrganizedWithPamela would be so proud of me for re-organizing the pantry!!

In moving things around I made a disturbing discovery.  There were “signs” that a small gray furry critter decided to cross the border from outside and come on in. I am not sure why this critter decided it was time to change his address and go house hunting.  Perhaps because we had frost on the ground this morning?

I am not sure why the event of the mouse migration always takes me by surprise. We do live in an old farmhouse.  Any small crack in the foundation is pretty much an entrance gate for mice with an invisible sign over – “Come on in and make yourself at home.” This seems to be an annual event.

It will definitely be time to put my husband’s trapping skills to work. I have given up trapping these invaders myself as I am quite sure they gain weight when I put out traps. For some reason my traps tend to turn into peanut butter self-feeders for rodents. Last year when we had this same issue I am pretty sure we ended up with obese mice roaming the pantry….until my husband took over the job. It made me wonder how large one could actually get?

I told my husband it is definitely job security for him. His comeback comment, “Well I am good for something…..trapping mice, killing spiders and opening pickle jars.”  He actually is really good at those tasks.  He laughs when he says this and so do I.

For those of you who would like to try canning

Apple Peels and Cores.JPG

Peels and Cores

apple juice I have included the recipe below.
I tend to use the peels and cores from the apples
and use the rest of the apple for applesauce or
apple pie filling.  That way I get the most out of
my apples.  I hate to see anything go to waste! When I am done with the peels and cores they go to the girls. They love to finish off whatever is left.




Canned Apple Juice
Cream of Tartar
White Sugar
Wash apples before beginning.
Cut whole apples into thin slices, or use the peels and cores from apple baking
or apple canning projects.
Red apples peels will add a lovely pink color to the juice.
Measure the amount of apple pieces and put them into a large crock, plastic, or stainless steel container. Do
not use aluminum or porous metal as it will give a metallic taste.
Bring to a boil an equal amount of water.
Add 1 teaspoon of cream of tartar for each quart of boiling water.
Stir and pour  over the apple pieces.
Cover and let stand for 24 hours.
Pour juice off the apple pieces into a large container, squeezing pieces in a cheesecloth.
Measure juice into a heavy cooking pot.
Add 3/4 cup white sugar for every 2 quarts of juice.
Bring juice to a boil.
Pour into jars and process in hot water bath for 25 minutes for quarts.

For now the shelves are clean, stocked and ready for the “eat the canned produce season”. There is only one small problem. I still do have some empty jars…….I wonder if I can get my hands on one or two more 5 gallon buckets of apples?

And she prepares for herself her bread from the summer
and she stores her food at harvest.
Aramaic Bible in Plain English