Points of View

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Steam rising from the river

Yesterday did not go quite as planned….at least as I had planned. I had planned to rake leaves. And I had planned to do some more last minute Fall outdoor things.

When I woke up yesterday I noticed the gleaming sheen of ice on our porch. There were a few flakes drifting around and I still thought I would be able to rake the thick coating of leaves off the grass in our front yard…..later in the day.

As the morning wore on, the wind started to howl, the snow came down thicker and I realized that lawn raking was not going to be happening. My husband informed me that I could still rake if I wanted to. I assured him that raking a leaf/snow mix was a bad idea.

I had let the girls out in the morning and saw that they were safely tucked into the small shed where they love to dust bath. I vaguely wondered if they would figure out to go in once night came around or if they would not want to walk on fresh fallen snow.

Come about 5:00 in the afternoon I had the answer to my wonderings. When it came time to lock the girls in for the night I was missing five Rhode Island Reds. I went to the house and got a flashlight and trudged back.

Under the non-working pickup in the shed, there were the five birds. Back to the house I went and grabbed a broom. Using the broom I started tapping on the pickup….loudly…and then swinging it around underneath to encourage those girls to make the journey to the coop.  It worked for two of them.

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Enjoying the day after the snow

The last three decided to make life difficult. I would go one way around that vehicle and they would run the other. It didn’t take long and they had wedged themselves behind a large panel of wood.

I would say I was exasperated, but it was way beyond that.  I was to the stage of muttering under my breath about chicken soup tasting good….drumsticks and name-calling. For a space of time, I was starting to think I should be riding that broom instead of using it to try herd chickens.

Fortunately my husband came home and with the aid of a fishing net; the three birds were nabbed and safely installed in the coop for the night. It was too late for me to make it to my Bible Study group…which was a sad thing because I really really needed to go to Bible Study after the chicken chasing event.

I have a feeling those last three girls were scared of something they did not know. The first snow of the season left them feeling uneasy and out of their comfort zone. They did not want to walk on something that was not familiar.

I get that feeling….I don’t like being out of my comfort zone either!  I also do not like taking a path that feels different. It is too scary and you never know what you will encounter when you are asked to go through things that are not the same as before.

It would probably do me good to remember that, when I am asked by my Creator to do something different; it is for my own good when I am herded to the coop…it might be for my safety that I am asked to walk unfamiliar paths. I wonder how many times I am the one upside down in a fish net, squawking up a storm?

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Beauty in the Morning

I also have the feeling those chickens have no idea how beautiful the morning after a snowfall can be.

The fog rising off the river….the trees decked in sparkling ice….and the hush that comes with a small layer of snow.

They cannot appreciate the crunch of icy pellets underfoot and the cold air as it makes your fingers tingle.

This morning was a good morning. I made no plans dependent on weather. The girls were once again enjoying being outdoors. The trees were beautiful. The leaves just might stay where they are, till they disintegrate next spring, and it is all good.

I will try not to squawk to much when guided down unfamiliar paths. I will, instead, try enjoy the view set before me….even though it may be different than I had planned.

 

“There is a sense of danger in leaving what you know,
even if what you know isn’t much.
― John William Tuohy

Summer’s End

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In the past few days there have been several indicators that Fall is fast closing in. Canning season has come to an end. The garden is no longer beautiful and lush.  (It was looking bedraggled and spent so we cleared the debris and my husband pulled a disc through it.) The tall grasses that line the river bank are turning brown and the trees are fast losing their leaves.

The sound of the mornings are even different than a month ago. There is no longer a choir of birds singing at high volume in the gully to the south of us. Wind does not blow softly through the leaves on the trees. It seems to be gaining that winter howl…though I am glad it is not accompanied by snow…….yet!

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An End to Summer Fun

I took the pool down a few weeks back because we were having high winds and they said cooler weather was coming. I figured I should take it down while the weather was nice enough to deal with gallons of water that would probably be landing on me.

It was my concession to the fact that the seasons were indeed changing and I had best be prepared. I had been dragging my feet on that task as I do like the warmer weather, better than snow and cold and ice. It does feel kind of like giving up when I take it down.

I had not really planned on taking a few weeks break from blogging, but it just seemed that every time I was going to sit down and work on a post, another job seemed more pressing. Between the canning, prepping the garden for winter and preparing for the harvesting of our soybean field….time just slipped away.

The neighbor came over and combined the soybeans for us this past week. It is a good job to have finished for the season. There is a comfort in having those bushels safely tucked away at the local elevator.

There is something satisfying about the look of a harvested field. At first glance it looks like an ending. When you take a second glance you see that it is the first step in the preparations for planting next year. It is a beginning.

I love the fact that farming is like a dance. There is an ageless rhythm to the passing of seasons. There is a harmony to the preparing, planting, maintaining and harvesting those fields.

There is a beauty to the golden ripe crops and there is a beauty to the stubble left behind after the combine has done it’s work. There is a rightness to the cycles of the passing seasons and it is so evident as I watch the fields change.

Those fields are so like life….there is beauty in all seasons of life. Sometimes it may seem like giving up as you enter that next season. In all reality it is just a preparation for the next steps of the dance.

Let’s enjoy that change…let’s embrace the ageless rhythm that is life. Let’s open our eyes to the beauty of each step we take. Those endings just might be beginnings…..much like taking in the harvest in order to prepare for planting.

 

“Live each season as it passes;
breathe the air,
drink the drink,
taste the fruit,
and resign yourself to the influences of each.”
— Henry David Thoreau

Someday Just Might Be Today

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There is an old song by CCR (Credence Clearwater Revival) titled “Someday Never Comes”.  It might be true for the lyrics in that song but I have found that Someday is Today!

I am going to back up a bit….well a long bit. When we first moved here about 15 years ago we had sheep in our back yard. Yes, you read that right…sheep. It was hard packed dirt and when you slept with the windows open at night the sheep were right by the window.

We decided we should probably have a back yard, so the sheep got penned in somewhere else and my husband chewed up that hard earth and we planted grass seed. That first crop of grass was promptly eaten by a small flock of chickens.

We went back to the farm store and purchased some more grass seed. The seed was planted and it did not take long and those same chickens had once again cleared it off as it came up.

At that point my husband decided we would seed it one more time and if they ate it again he was done….no grass….no backyard.  I petitioned for a fence to keep the girls out.

We put up a fence quickly, as we figured, someday we would do it right. Someday we would make it nice and straight and put a gate in that actually swung easily and wasn’t just wired to the fence.

This time the grass grew as it was protected by our temporary fence. The years kind of slid past, as they tend to do, and temporary was starting to look kind of permanent.

This past spring my husband purchased a very nice garden gate at a farm consignment auction with the intention that someday we would put that in when we redid that piece of backyard fence.

The somedays seemed to go past and this week my husband decided that someday had arrived! Yesterday the gate was put in with cement around the poles to make it sturdy. Today we redid the piece of fence that attaches to the garden gate and goes to the chicken coop.

To say I am excited about it is a bit of an understatement. I am excited to have a fence that is straight and stands firm. I am excited to have a gate that will latch and swings easily in both directions. (It is amazing what using the correct hardware will do for a garden gate!)

I love the look of the old gate and the old fence. The fence was some that used to go around the front yard when we bought this place many years ago. I have a feeling that piece of fence could tell a lot of stories about the children it kept in and the critters it kept out. (Probably chickens!)

There is probably a lesson in here somewhere. It probably has to do with being patient and how that is a virtue or something like that. I must confess I did not feel virtuous. I just kind of got used to the wobbly fence and less than stellar gate set up.

There is probably a lesson in that somewhere too!  It probably is a lesson that we should not get so complacent when things are not as they should be. Maybe we should work a bit harder to make them right. This is true with fences as well as things like relationships and other things needing to be straightened out.

Whatever the lesson. I am just happy that someday did come to our farm! May your someday show up soon and may it leave you as excited as my someday did for me.

One day,
you’re 17 and you’re planning for someday.
And then quietly,
without you ever really noticing,
someday is today.
And then someday is yesterday.
And this is your life.

John Green

 

Holding Fast

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The days may be hot, but my husband and I are preparing for the cold days to come. We have been spending our mornings splitting the wood that he cut late last fall.

My job in this endeavor is not too tough. I get to just sit on my chair; and push and pull the lever that runs the wood splitter. My husband has the much harder job of lifting each log and placing it in the “cradle” to be split.

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Some of those logs are not too big but others are pretty large, heavy and cumbersome. It does not help that the weather has been pretty toasty and very humid. I have discovered that each one of those logs is different.

Some are nice and round and split like a dream. Others are kind of gnarly. Some look fine on the outside; but once the maul starts splitting through them, you discover the remains of a branch that the tree had at one time. The maul kind of has to groan it’s way through those logs.

The fact that I get to sit and push/pull that lever gives me ample time to think about things and life in general. I kind of pondered on the fact of how tightly those branches were fixed in that log. They do not let go of their hold on the log without a fight.

My mind wandered over to what it means to be firmly rooted and I am pretty sure I was given a visual image of that with those logs. I was also amazed how deep inside the tree those branches start. They were right at the heart of the tree. There is something profound about that fact.

I kind of wonder if we all need to be like those branches…. firmly rooted to something solid…something that does not shift with the whims of political climate or opinions.

May we be branches that start near the heart of the Creator and let us hold fast to that place. Let us put up a fight when something tries to tear us from that Tree. The world may shift and the world may change, but the heart of the Creator remains the same…..and I am eternally grateful.


Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm,
for God can be trusted to keep his promise.
Hebrews 10:23 NLT

Two Sides to Freedom

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Tonight as I went out to lock the girls in for the night I was not prepared for the beautiful orange of the western sky as it peeked between the evergreen boughs. The night was quiet with a light breeze gently moving the leaves of the flowering crab tree. It was the perfect ending to some very busy days.

The last weeks have been very busy. I have a feeling we are trying to catch up and stay ahead of things between the heavy rainstorms that we have been given. The lawn seems to be growing faster than we can get it mowed. And the weeds in the fields and garden have been doing the same.

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Arnold’s Park

In between all the day to day house/farm stuff, we had the 4th of July holiday thrown in. I really love that holiday because we spend it at my sister’s place at the lake. Family and friends gather for a day of fun, food, boat rides and game playing. Stories are traded, babies are held, recipes are traded and the day ends with the traditional firework display.

As I sat there and watched those fireworks I noticed the flag flying proudly at Arnold’s Park. It did make me pause and realize what this celebration was really all about…the birth of our nation and the sacrifice it took to make it through all the labor pains of that birth.

It made me think of the blood that was shed and is still being shed so that freedoms can be protected. I am so grateful for those that are willing to make that sacrifice for us. I am grateful for those who leave their families for months at a time so I can spend a holiday with mine.

20190705_0852451736528332.jpgWe were concerned about the weather as storms were predicted to roll in during the day….fortunately they were wrong this time. We were able to take a walk along the lake the next morning and enjoy the quiet of the lake after the very people-filled day before.

 

It was kind of amazing how quiet the water was that morning. The day before it was choppy due to all the boats and jet skis that were zipping around. It was a great reminder that there are usually two sides to most things in life…you just have to open your eyes to both of them.

In the space of 24 hours we saw both sides of the lake…the busy and the quiet. We were able to see a dazzling fireworks display and enjoy the freedom of that while reflecting on the sacrifice it takes to keep those freedoms.

I will always be grateful for those freedoms and that sacrifice. When I am privileged to stand in my backyard, inhaling the fragrance of blooming lilies, feeling the light breeze whisper past my cheek and see the sky on fire with brilliant shades of orange; I will give thanks to those who have paid the ultimate price. I will remember the two sides that are freedom.

 

Those who expect to reap the blessings of freedom must,
like men, undergo the fatigue of supporting it.

Thomas Paine

 

Lessons from Caterpillars and Geese

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A Butterfly in the Making

The other day my husband asked if I was busy. I was, but when he has something he wants to show me it is usually pretty good. I put my boots on, as I was not sure where we would be heading.

We headed for the river, which is not that far from our house. He had spotted some milkweeds that morning and discovered there were three monarch caterpillars on them.

That might not seem like a big deal to some people; but for us it was. We have noticed there are not as many monarch butterflies around as there used to be and spotting those caterpillars just made our day.

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A family of Canadian geese

As we were standing there watching them hungrily devour the milkweed leaves I glanced at the opposite shore of the river. There was an entire family of Canadian Geese quietly floating along the bank.

We were not sure if it was mom or dad at the front but they were at each end of their brood of goslings. I headed back to the house to grab the camera so I could snap some pictures of both wonderful things.

It was so much fun to stand and watch the display of wildlife in that small area. It was a marvel to know those caterpillars would end up as a chrysalis and be beautiful butterflies this summer.

It was something to see the care that the parents of those gosling were taking with their young. They were so graceful as they glided along the riverbank to hide under an overhanging tree.

I often wonder if God knew we would need these things in nature to ground us and leave us standing in wonder at how it all works. It takes us back to the basic things…the wonder of being a child and seeing new life around us.

The metamorphisis of catepillars into butterflies let’s us know that just because we are in a certain spot in this life….it might not always be this way. Things that seem ordinary can turn into something beautiful.

Seeing that family of geese reminds me how much we are cared for by the Creator of this world. If He cares enough to give such good parents to those goslings…how much more He cares for us!

I love finding the lesson that is waiting for us just outside our doors and windows. I love seeing how our life seems to reflect what is happening in creation. Let’s spend the rest of this week opening our eyes and our hearts to the lessons around us.

In every walk with nature
one receives far more than he seeks.
John Muir

Read more at: https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/john_muir_108391

 

 

Friends That Feel Like Family

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Friends/Family

This past Monday, Lar and I were privileged to meet one of my blogging friends in person!  Anne (MerhlingMuse)  and her husband, John, stopped by on their way home from a wedding in Denver.

Anne and I had been plotting and planning for a bit to make this day happen. The minute they rolled up in their vehicle it felt like family had come to visit. The time we had together sped by all to quickly.

The couple hours we had was really not enough time to get all the answers to questions we wanted to ask. We learned about each others’ families, churches, hobbies and pretty much every thing in between. We also found out that the Smokies would be a great place to visit.

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Old Train ~ Fremont, NE

Lar and I shared some photos of a train that we had taken on our weekend trip to Lincoln, NE to see our son and his family.

We had found out in advance that John was a train buff and just could not resist taking some photos to share.

We took a brief tour outdoors and Anne was able to take photos of the girls and their chicken coop. The girls cooperated by letting me pick one up for a quick photo of them being held.

Questions were asked about where the water had been during the recent flooding and what we grew for crops. There was lots of talking and laughing before we even made it into the house for a bit of lunch.

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Cheesecake Pie with Blueberry Topping

I had made a Cheesecake Pie to share for coffee time. Only we had peach ice tea instead of coffee to go with the pie.  I am going to share the recipe as I promised Anne I would make sure she got it.

This is a great pie to make as you can use different kinds of fruit for the topping. You can use canned pie filling or use fresh fruit sweetened with sugar.

 

Easy Cheesecake Pie

Pie Crust:
1 1/2 cups crushed graham crackers, about 24 squares
1/4 cup white sugar
1/3 cup melted butter
Press into pie plate and refrigerate till it is set.
(I have been known to skip the refrigerating step if I am pressed for time.)

Filling:
8 ounce cream cheese, softened
1/3 cup white sugar
1 tsp. pure vanilla
1 cup sour cream
8 ounce tub Cool Whip
Mix cream cheese, sugar and vanilla till smooth.
Add sour cream and cool whip.
Put on top of graham cracker crust.

Fruit:
1 can pie filling
Can spread over pie or put dollop on each piece
OR
Sweetened fresh fruit

Refrigerate for a bit before serving and enjoy!

Note:  I have never made this pie with real whipped cream instead of cool whip.
If you try it let me know how it works out!

It was so much fun to talk over lunch. Stories were shared. (see Anne’s link above as she tells them really well!) So much laughter as we discovered we shared a very similar sense of humor. I loved Anne’s story of the family saying, “The chicken is used to it.” I will also let her tell that story as it is hers to share. Needless to say it made me laugh while also learning a good lesson!

It didn’t take long….at least it did not seem long …and it was time they went back to their travels. I am so grateful to hear they made it home safely. I am also so grateful that God put this couple in our lives. I think my husband said it best as we waved good-bye. “That was a great visit….it felt like family.”  He was so very right.

 

A sweet friendship refreshes the soul.
— Unknown,
via etd.ohiolink.edu

 

No friendship is an accident.
— O. Henry,
The Heart of the West