Signs….Not Always Accurate

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I do not typically make e-bay purchases, but when my husband called my attention to this sign and it was a buy it now deal……I found I could not resist.

This sign is pretty laughable when I think of my chickens. The girls are pretty tame and generally mind their own business during the day.  (My husband pointed out that this sign is accurate if you happen to be a bug or a worm….)

I have seen them chase small birds that were picking at the same seeds or bugs they were after. It is great fun to watch them chase the small moths that like to hide in the summer grass.

I have never yet seen them attack anything that was bigger than them. After thinking on that I may be wrong. I did see them, one time, go after a friend’s toenails.

She and her husband arrived one evening before I locked the girls in for the night.  My friend had sandals on; and had her toe nails painted red. We soon discovered that those girls love red toe nail polish and they were very persistent as they followed her where ever she went.

I often wonder what those chickens would do if I painted their toe nails red…..chase themselves around? I wonder this because I have another chicken loving friend who actually does this!

My biggest problem with my sign is knowing where to put it. My husband thinks it should be put on the chicken coop. I think it needs a more prominent place…somewhere that keeps people wondering about the girls!!( In case you were not aware of it….I have a sense of humor that may or may not be a bit off-center.)

My husband also wonders how long I will keep having chickens. I really don’t know how to answer that question. I enjoy having the girls around. I laugh about their different personalities and I love the fresh eggs.  I also wonder what my grandkids would call me if I no longer had chickens?

I have a feeling there will be chickens around here for a long time….and I am thinking that is a fine idea! We don’t have a dog…who else am I going to talk to as I work outside this summer? Yup, the girls may be around a long time.

 

Chickens are like potato chips
You can’t have just one…..
Unknown

 

 

 

 

So Many Changes in a Week

IMG_5525 2What a difference a week can make!  Last week at this time we were watching flood waters rise, snow melt at an alarming rate and pumping water away from the house. This morning we sat on the deck in the sunshine and enjoyed the warmth immensely.

Our river is making it’s way back into the banks where it should be, ice bergs are turning dirty and look lonely in the middle of fields. The ice jam on the river has made it’s way downstream and I have a tulip blooming in a pot.

I am reminded of the fact that downstream all is not well and won’t be for a very long time. Nebraska is suffering greatly. Ranchers have lost herds, ground and are overwhelmed. Entire towns have been submerged with ice floes inside buildings where people used to gather. Wells have been compromised so water restrictions are in place in many locations.

Someone was questioning on Facebook how come there were no stories of looting going on in these locations. I have done some thinking about that question; because it is a good one.

I think one of the biggest reasons is that these are real communities. People know who lives next door. They know the guy they buy their groceries from and more than likely know the family of the checker in the grocery line.

People in rural communities are neighbors. They worship together…maybe not at the same church or in the same denomination but they worship together. These people sit side by side and watch their children play at sporting events…many times against each other at these sporting events.

These people in the heartland have worked hard for their place in life and they respect each other and hold each other accountable. It would be hard to steal from someone you have prayed with, laughed with, cried with and know.

These people have that old-fashioned sense of community with a strong emphasis on unity. They don’t always agree….often don’t agree….. but get along anyway. It is family and family has your back.

These Nebraska towns are what American used to be all over this country. They are the best of us and don’t let you off the hook when you have acted your worst. They say it like it is and you know they tell you things because they care. It is honesty….it is integrity….it is unity.

I am in awe of these Midwesterners and hope I can be counted among them. They are a lot to live up to. My mind wanders to how can we help people who are used to giving instead of taking? I am going to try post some links below of places that can be contacted.

HOW TO HELP

Orphan Grain Train, Inc

In NW IA there will be a trailer parked at Livestock Manufacturing and Equipment at the corner of Hwy 18 & 75, (west of Hull, IA) starting Saturday where you can bring supplies such as: Milk Replace, Fencing needs, bottled water, cleaning supplies and so on.

Fremont, NE has been putting out lists of places to go to volunteer and list of supplies needed by communities and individuals.

The Red Cross and Salvation Army are also great places to find out what is needed by way of supplies and/or volunteers. I have a feeling they will be needing things for a long while.

I am trying to also post a video someone made of the damage in Nebraska this past week. I hope it works!  I am not confident in that but we will see.

The lesson I am learning from this past week is that it is good to have neighbors you know. It is good to be that neighbor. It is a blessing to have someone’s back and they have yours.

I have learned quiet people are often underrated. Their courage isn’t noisy…it isn’t loud. Their integrity is the kind that often needs a second look….but when you really see that person…you see someone you want for your neighbor.

Our prayers are with you Nebraska. Our help is on the way and your courage in this devastation will be the quiet roar that shows a nation what America was and still is.

Courage doesn’t always roar,
sometimes it’s the quiet voice at the end of the day whispering
I will try again tomorrow.

Mary Anne Radmacher

Weathering the Storm

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I was pretty excited the other day to hear we were going to get to the 40s this week. Little did I know what the 40s would do to the great amount of snow we had laying around. Add in some rain to that mix and you really have a water event.IMG_5506

Once again, our river is nearly as high as it was last fall! This time it is complete with ice blocking the flow of the river, ice floes in the bottom field and ducks floating blissfully on that same field.

Yesterday my husband spent time digging “canals” crisscrossing our yard in an attempt to get the water away from the house. He spent time doing that and plugging in a sump pump to keep the water out of our basement. I will have to say that Iowa weather is never boring. Personally I am ready for boredom when it comes to weather.

I also had forgotten the mud that would accompany such a fast melt. This is not your basic mud….this is boot-sucking mud. You have to walk very carefully in this mud. If you don’t you will find yourself with a very wet muddy sock and your boot stuck where your foot used to be. It is probably an incredible workout program.

Most of the schools around here are only running their buses on the hard surface roads. I totally get that as our short stretch of mud gravel road is not really negotiable anymore. I will have to say that it does keep things interesting.

With all this water around I am reminded of a verse that says, “When you go through the deep water.” Isaiah 43:2. I am struck by the fact that is says WHEN not IF. It also promises that we will not be swept under. I find that to be a great comfort in every circumstance.

IMG_5508And so I watch the waters rise, I hear the wind howl as the rain changes between snow and rain; as if it cannot decide which season it is, and I slip and slide over a yard of mud, ice and running water.

I hear of communities in Iowa, South Dakota and Nebraska that have taken huge hits with water damage. Dams and bridges washed away, homes flooded with basements collapsing and entire businesses gone. It makes our flooding look fairly minor. There is definitely perspective to all things.

So much of life is perspective. It is good to take a step back and realize we are not alone. In the storms, in the high waters, in the mud and ice….we are not forgotten. We are not in control and for that I am eternally grateful.

May your weekend find you safe and warm. May you keep your head above water and may you find blessing in the floods of life.

 

Sometimes you just need to bow your head,
say a prayer and weather the storm.

Unknown

 

 

Life Is Like Shoveling Snow

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Due to snowfalls the last couple days I am, once again, at my winter task of scooping trails to the chicken coop. I also scoop a trail to the little open front shed where the girls like to sit in the sun and take their dust baths.

I can tell I am not getting any younger by the way my back feels while I am scooping! I am also realizing that you might scoop a path once, but that doesn’t mean it is going to stay open.

I scooped those same trails yesterday morning….then it snowed some more. I scooped those paths last night and then it snowed and blew some more. Soooo….this morning I was once again scooping those same trails.

As I was scooping, it occurred to me that this scooping of trails is much like relationships and life. It takes a lot time and a lot of work to keep the pathways open and free of snow/junk. There is a satisfaction in knowing that the work does have it’s rewards….on both counts…snow removal and relationships.

While scooping I looked behind me and realized that my path was not always staying cleared. The “walls” of my path crumbled in places, clods of snow ended up in the middle of my trail and sometimes the scoopful of snow I tossed to the side ended up blowing right back where it came from. Yes…..so much like life.

I decided it was okay to not have a spotless path. I have a feeling that sometimes the “snow clods” in our way help build a little character. I also discovered that once that trail is cleared, you still need to walk carefully.

Yesterday after clearing a way; I fearlessly walked back down that trail to bring feed to the girls. On the way, my foot found a patch of ice hidden under a fluffy layer of snow. I did not face plant or smack to the ground. I did, however, slide gracefully (as gracefully as a 61 year old, overweight woman can slide) to the ground.

There I lay in a snowbank….after assessing if I had damaged anything (I had not) I had to grin. I was grateful my bucket only contained feed and not water! Thinking back I should have probably gone ahead and made a snow angel but the thought did not occur to me at the time.

The main thought that occurred to me was that at my next physical; how was I going to answer the question about falling in the last 3 months? (At a certain age they start to ask you that question!) Do I qualify a “sliding somewhat gracefully to the ground” as falling? Hmmmm, not sure on that one.

I pray you find blessing in the week ahead. I pray you find fulfillment in shoveling and building relationships with family, friends and God. The work is not always easy, there will be pain, you will either slide or smack to the ground at times…but the end result is worth it. It may not be perfect …..but that is okay too. May you find joy in the process.

 

Snow shoveling……
it’s challenging but not impossible.
You have all the skills and the tools you need.
You know you’ll have to work hard,
but in most cases,
heart permitting,
you know you’ll get the job done.
Tom Terez

 

 

Preparing For The Polar Vortex

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We should have known the weather man wasn’t lying about the coming polar vortex. Yesterday we saw two birds vying for the right to eat the corn off the squirrel feeder….the woodpecker won this round.

I guess the birds know when to prepare for the coming journey into the deep freeze that is an Iowa winter. My husband and I took our cue from their preparations and also spent time yesterday preparing the chicken coop.

My husband rigged up a heat lamp that the girls could roost under at night and he then fluffed the chipped wood bedding on the floor. I made sure they had plenty of water and feed. 20190129_114028.jpg

This morning, when I went to see if they wanted to go out on this bitter day I noticed they had already laid a few eggs. I figured I had better take them along to the house with me.

Once I picked a couple of them up; I found I was already to late…..the below zero temps had already frozen a couple of them.

I have a feeling that I will either be baking or serving scrambled eggs for a meal in the next few days!

I have decided that I will also need to gather eggs a few times during the day tomorrow and the next day as they tell us our highs will be -12º tomorrow.  They also assure us this will be record setting. I don’t know about you…but that is one record I really don’t feel the need to break!

I kind of have to laugh when I go into the chicken coop during this type of weather….the girls have a distinct grumble to their “talking”. I don’t think they are too pleased with the cold wind and they aren’t pleased with being locked in either.

I try to tell them it is for their own good but I don’t think they believe me or they don’t understand. Even if they do believe me or understand…they are still pretty miffed about it all.

I have a feeling I am the same way with life. So many times I know things are happening because they are good for me but I really don’t want to believe it…. and I really don’t want to take the time to understand it. It is so much easier to just be a little ticked about it all.

If this week finds you in a situation that you know is for your good but you aren’t happy about it….take a deep breath, step back and give it some time. I find that after a bit I am either okay with it or at least over the “grumbly” phase.

May you also stay warm…wherever you are! And if it is bitter cold…may you have made preparations in advance like those very smart birds.

The past is behind:
learn from it.
The future is ahead:
prepare for it.
The present is here:
live it!
Thomas S. Monson

Beginnings or Endings

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The sunsets we have been having lately have been absolutely stunning. They are a mix of purples, blues, pinks…bright turquoise, oranges and yellows. There are times the sky looks like it is on fire.

It is like God is giving us a gift and making the cold days of winter beautiful in His own way. It is a wonderful way to end a day by walking out to put the girls in for the night. It is food for the soul to stand outside in the quiet and watch with awe the display that is dusk.

This time of year there  is a quiet beauty. The greens of growing things are gone, but the dazzling display that is sunset, more than makes up for the loss of greens. The cold of the air doesn’t have the perfume of summer flowers but has it’s own scent that proclaims winter……and it is wonderful.

Sometimes it is difficult to tell where the ending of the day begins or the beginning of the ending starts. The wind dies down, the winter birds grow silent, and the sky becomes tinged with pink.

There is a hush in this space of time between day and night. The air is crisp, as only winter days can be. It is a delight for the senses and I am amazed every time I get to enjoy that time.

So much of life is like that space of time. So many times an ending is just a beginning. Last week I went to my last physical therapy visit!! While that was a definite ending it was, for me, the beginning of knowing that I am, for the most part, better.( I still have to do the balance things at home and check in with them in three months.)

We are in the middle of winter and yet the beginnings of spring are starting to show up. Seed catalogs have started arriving and to me that says warmer days are not far behind. I know there will be some snowstorms yet this season but, somewhere in this time frame is the overlap of living in winter but preparing for Spring.

Maybe this is where hope comes in. The kind of hope that is not just wishful thinking but the hope that is expectation and assurance. There is an expectation that Spring will surely follow Winter. There is the expectation that before that there will be more snow and cold weather.

While we wait for those warmer days let us enjoy the day that is now. Let us realize that the beginnings and endings of things most often are somehow tangled together and it is okay.

May you be blessed with beautiful sunsets that end this day and begin the new one.

 

“The end is never the end.
It’s always the the beginning of something.”

― Kate Lord Brown,
The Perfume Garden