Harvest….Looking Through The Window

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Combining Beans~Looking Through The Window

The weather has been beautiful these last couple of days. Instead of rain and gloom we have been blessed with sun and warmer temperatures. It is perfect weather for looking through the window and watching the harvest come in.

We have a neighbor who does our combining for us and so we have to wait our turn. It is not always easy to do…the being patient thing….when the fields are ready and waiting. My husband tends to spend time preparing for the combine to make it’s way to our fields.

The gravity flow wagons need to come out of the shed, have their tires checked, get lined up two by two (kind of like going into the ark), and the tractor fueled up.

IMG_4819 Waiting to be Filled

Waiting To Be Filled~The Girls Enjoying The Shade

It is an exciting time…..the harvest time. It is a time you get to reap the benefits of the hard work put in during the spring and summer. It is a time to see the profits from the risk that was taken when purchasing seed, planting seed and waiting for the weather to do; what it needs to do, so those seeds will grow and produce.

Harvest is a time of long days, late nights and prayers for the safety of those gathering that harvest and bringing it to the elevator in town and for those that they will meet on the road. It is a time of crisp nights, sun-warmed days and the smell of falling leaves.

For some reason, harvest season brings beautiful sunrises and sunsets. The colors are vibrant and glorious. Perhaps it is an added bonus for the hard work of the past season and the long hours still to come.

I am wondering if, perhaps, those sunrises and sunsets are a promise? Perhaps it is the promise of “enough”. Could it be a promise that “You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion…” (2 Corinthians 9:11a) I really like that promise….that we are blessed so we can give and be a blessing in return!

Maybe those sunrises are intended to draw us out of our comfortable homes, to quit just looking through the window and to get out and experience harvest time. It is good to look out the window and enjoy the scenery…but it is oh, so much better to get out there and really experience the season.

It is good to feel the warmth of the sun. It is wonderful to smell the dust that swirls as the combine passes through the fields. There is a contentment in hearing the drone of tractors in distant fields and there is a satisfaction in seeing stubble where beans once stood waving in the breeze.

Maybe that is the lesson for all of life….maybe it is time to quit looking through the window and get out there and live. Maybe we need to smell, feel, see, and hear life to really appreciate how wonderful it is. Maybe in the wonder of life, we can be a blessing to those around us.

Take the time this season to live life to the full….to see the beauty that is autumn….and to enjoy your time in that beautiful season.

 

“Winter is an etching, spring a watercolor, summer an oil painting 
and autumn a mosaic of them all.”
–   Stanley Horowitz

 

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Cee’s Black & White Photo Challenge: All Things Farm Related

IMG_3407 (2) Home for the Girls

The Chicken Coop ~Because I am the Chicken Grandma!

I thought I would try something different today…..a photo challenge with black and white photos.  To be honest I have no idea if I am doing this correctly or not. I really have no idea what I am doing…this isn’t the first time in my life I have felt this way and I am fairly sure it will not be the last!!

The topic: All Things Farm Related was perfect for me. I dug around in my old photos, looking for ones that I have not posted on the blog yet. I then tried my hand at changing them to black and whites. Hopefully I meet the criteria for the challenge! Some of them still seem to have a slight colored hue to them …… so who knows…..

The first picture is home to my girls…the chicken coop. It only seemed fitting to post that one as I am the Chicken Grandma to a lot of you and to my grand-kids…and you know I am a pushover for those grand-kids.

IMG_3701 The Old and New (2)

The Old and The New

Barns, for me, are the heart of a farmyard. I love seeing the old barn….but then, I love old wooden barns. I believe that there is something magical about those structures with their big haymows full of fragrant hay, grass and straw bales. Seeing it standing next to the new metal shed makes her seem like the matriarch of the farmyard.

IMG_3210 (2) Spring Fieldwork

Preparing the Soil

Spring field work is such an act of faith on our small farm.  My husband purchases those spendy bags of seed in the winter, prepares the ground, plants those seeds and then prays for rain. Sometimes the rains come in a timely manner and sometimes they don’t.

Sometimes living is plentiful and sometimes a little tight…but we have never gone to bed hungry and never had to walk out the door naked for lack of clothing…(and the world can be grateful for that!!) We are indeed blessed.

IMG_3691 (2) The Summer Kitchen

The Summer Kitchen/Gardening Shed

In the corner of my backyard is the old summer kitchen. It used to be in the middle of our farmyard and was kind of in the way so we relocated it. It has now been re-purposed as my garden shed. It is filled with clay flowerpots, gardening tools, chicken equipment and odds and ends.

It needs repair and I have lots of plans for this little shed. It will take my husband to do most of it so I am learning to be patient….I am not always so good at that! At this point in time, pigeons have been raising their young in it. I am quite sure they are very grateful that we are not too speedy.

IMG_0869 The Quiet of Winter Fields

Fields Sleeping Under a Blanket of Snow

I thought I would finish with a photo of our view towards the river in the wintertime.
Life slows down on the farm in the winter….If you don’t have lots of livestock to tend. It is a wonderful time to huddle next to the woodstove with a cup of hot chocolate in hand. It is also a wonderful time for dreaming of the coming planting season.

In it’s own way it is a season of hope. Hope for the coming Spring …hope for another good year…hope, just because hope is what farming is all about.

 

“There are only two reasons to farm:
because you have to, and because you love to.
The ones who choose to farm
choose for love.” 

― Wendell Berry

The land yields its harvest;
God, our God, blesses us. 

Psalms 67:6
NIV

 

 

Cee's Black & White Challenge Badge

 

 

Change of Seasons

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The calendar tells me it is the first day of fall……the temperature tells me we are stuck in the middle of summer!  We had temperatures in the 90’s today with humidity that literally sucked the energy right out of your body. I am in full agreement with whoever came up with the phrase, “It’s not the heat….it’s the humidity.”

It is easy to tell that we are in the middle of September when you look at the trees. When my husband and I were sitting on the porch yesterday we felt like we were being rained on….by locust leaves. The little yellow leaves just kept floating down onto the porch, the ground and it didn’t take long and we would have a leaf landing on us.

If you listen closely you can hear the rustle of dry leaves from the trees in the gully and from the corn and soybeans in the field. It is a sound distinctive to fall.

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About the only green thing around here would be the weeds and the lawn. It is hard to imagine that just a few weeks ago our lawn was brown and crispy. I was sure it was dead and that we were done mowing for the season….and then it started to rain.

I must confess I do like to see the green again. I am not quite ready to give up summer for what I know will be the cold of winter. We did end up mowing again this week.

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I told my husband that when you can rake windrows in your lawn after mowing, it was high time to mow it! I spent some time gathering up the dry grass to feed to the chickens later this year…when the lawn is actually dead. They love to feast on the fine blades of grass and it will be a wonderful treat when snow is on the ground.

It seems this time of year is spent preparing for the coming winter. Waterways get baled, grass gets stored for chicken feed, garden produce is put up and preserved for future meals, and soon we will hear the sound of combines in the fields and corn dryers running.

It seems like a frantic pace during this season. Perhaps it is because we know time is getting short to get all those tasks done.  It sometimes feels like there are not enough hours in a day…but I am glad when night comes because I am tired!

It has been so busy lately that we didn’t really notice exactly when the birds all disappeared. One morning we were sitting outdoors and noticed how quiet it was. No longer were the swallows swooping about snatching bugs from midair. The robin nests were empty and there wasn’t a wren to be heard.

The birds, or lack of them, are a pretty good indicator of the seasons.  The loud choir of birds in the morning has changed to the quiet rustling of drying leaves. The lushness of summer is quickly giving way to the golds and browns of fall.

Our lives tend to mirror the changing seasons. Some days feel like we are in the midst of the busyness of fall. Other times we feel like we are in the lazy days of summer. And then there are those times in our lives that we feel the sting of those cold days of winter. There is a beauty to each season and it is good to keep our eyes and hearts open to that beauty.

May you take time to enjoy the beauty of this fall season. May you be blessed whatever season of life you are in. And may you be comforted with the thought that if you are in a difficult season….it will change.

The question, “Which is the happiest season of life?”
was asked of an aged man.

And he replied: “When spring comes, and in the soft air the buds are breaking
on the trees, and they are covered with blossoms,
I think, ‘How beautiful is spring’;

and when summer comes and covers the trees with its heavy foliage,
and singing birds 
are among the branches,
I think, ‘How beautiful is summer.’
When autumn loads them

with golden fruit, and their leaves bear the gorgeous tint of frost,
I think, ‘How 
beautiful is autumn.’
And when it is severe winter, and there is neither foliage nor

fruit, then I look up through the leafless branches as I never could
until now, and see the stars shine in God’s home.

unattributed

 

The seasons are what a symphony ought to be:
four perfect movements in harmony with each other.

Artur Rubenstein

Dew on the Grass

IMG_4146 Sparkling Grass in the Morning

These last foggy mornings have been something wonderful. I have written before how I love the muted morning sounds and the feeling of being wrapped in a blanket of fog. I realize I get to feel that way because I am not forced to be traveling through that fog on a busy road.

I, instead, get to drink my morning tea on the porch and take it all in. I love the way the dew drops cling to the very tips of the grass. Once the sun starts to break through it looks like a sea of diamond tipped slender grass spears.

I am amazed at how that small drop clings so tenaciously to the end of that piece of grass. There doesn’t seem to be much structure for that drop to cling too and yet it hangs on.

It is beautiful how that small droplet sparkles and glimmers in the morning sun. It seems like one minute that drop is there and when you next look it has disappeared. Dew on the grass is one of those gifts in nature that is fleeting.

Life is the same. From breath to breath things change so fast. One minute your kids are babes in your arms, a blink later and they are in school, two blinks and they are walking down a church aisle and leaving your home. Before you know it a small child grins at you and calls you grandma.  Life is fleeting; but life is oh…..so very good.

Take time today to experience the small gifts around you…. the smile of a child, the feel of the sun on your face, the beauty of a fog-laden morning and a drop of dew sparkling like diamonds in the sun.

 

Life is fragile, like the dew hanging delicately on the grass,
crystal drops that will be carried away on the first morning breeze.

Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche

Dilemma

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I had a dilemma a few weeks ago. I had gone out to my garden to check on the progress of my tomatoes, green beans, scraggly peas and other produce.  As I was bent over picking beans, I saw a blob of dead grass underneath my plants. I started pulling it away and then discovered fur. I kind of knew what I would find when I kept carefully digging into that hole, in the dirt. I was right…..baby bunnies.

We do have a chicken wire fence around three sides of that particular area of the garden. I am not really sure how a mom rabbit managed to find a hole in the non-chicken wire portion on the last side of the garden….but, evidently, she had.

When I told my husband of my find, he asked what I had done with the bunnies.  I told him, that I had covered them back up. He really laughed at that as he knows I truly hate rabbits in my garden. He knows I rant and get really critical when I see a rabbit near my garden. He also knows I threaten to get the gun (pretty sure the rabbits would be safe even if I did!) and take care of the rabbit “problem”.

I found I just could not get rid of those baby bunnies. I can only hope they are as gracious to my garden as I am to them! I think I am going to have to keep picking my produce in a timely manner. I am going to have to beat those bunnies to the beans. I am finding, though, that they are not really much of a problem…..yet.

Admittedly, they are much too cute at this stage to get rid of. I recommended to my husband that next garden season we take care of the problem much sooner in the season. He has decided to make more chicken wire panels that should make it impossible to get through……I hope!

I have since discovered that those pesky bunnies are leaving my beans alone….much to my relief. They have instead found the flower pots on my porch!  I really didn’t think rabbits would enjoy geraniums…..but it seems they do.

IMG_4148 Geraniums as Rabbit Food

My plants are slowly being defoliated. They don’t eat the leaves but they seem to really enjoy the stems. My husband is slightly amazed at their liking of geraniums as he thinks they are some of the stinkiest flowers around.

Sometimes life is just like that isn’t it? You worry about one thing (my beans and bunnies) only to find it wasn’t a problem at all. Then you turn around and the real problem is something you never thought of! I never anticipated my geraniums turning into rabbit food.

Fortunately, being trimmed down will not hurt the plant. It may even be beneficial in the long run and make it bushier than before. I am going to have to remember that lesson when I feel like I am being pruned. You know…those times when stuff happens and is really hard to get through?

For now I guess I will have to sit and enjoy the cute factor of those bunnies. I will have to shut my eyes to the pruning and hope my plants get bushier than before. It can always be worse….they could be eating all my green beans!

May your weekend be filled with  hope and may you see beyond the pruning.

Pruning is a necessary part of life.
In order to move forward.
You must let go.
Unknown

 

 

 

Turning the Corner

IMG_4118 Swallows

Swallows in the Mist

There are so many signs that our seasons, here in the Midwest, may be turning the corner from summer to fall. The weather has been rainy and drippy.  We have also been noticing the bird population is changing.

The hawks seem to be plentiful and braver in the fall…or maybe they are trying to prepare for the coming winter when hunting seems to become scarce. We had a bird hawk decide our bird bath was a great opportunity to get a  drink and clean up a bit.

He stayed until he noticed us peering at him through the window. It was hard to stand still and yet get a picture, while he was watching us watch him!

I am not really so happy to see the hawk on our bird bath. I have seen one like him pluck a robin right off the ground as the robin was searching for worms! I like the songbirds we have around here and they are definitely not safe when there are hawks around.

For a couple weeks now, we have not seen the robins. The Orioles no longer inhabit the grove and sing in the trees.  The cliff swallows have arrived in a large group while on their way  through, to wherever it is they migrate to for the winter. We have had large flocks of blackbirds rest in our trees on their way to their destination.

In the misty mornings, the swallows fill the electric wires behind the house. They are quiet while they sit there waiting for the sun to burn off the fog. The entire world is hushed and still in the fog and the birds seem to sense this and not want to be the first to break the silence.

I love the misty mornings. The world is small and focus is narrowed to what is essential. The quiet morning lends itself to good conversation while sitting on the porch drinking that first coffee/tea of the day. It also lends itself to just sitting there quietly listening to the dew drip from the trees and the eaves of the house.

I really wonder how many of the world’s problems could be solved if more people would sit with cup in hand, on their porch and talk things out.  Or maybe if they just sat silently enjoying what God had set before them? I have a feeling it would be a much more peaceful place.

The quietness of the fog seems to take the harsh edges off the coming day. It seems to wrap us in a blanket of peace and blessing.

May you have time in your busy week to sit and enjoy the silence of the morning and may you be blessed by the little things in life……..like a quiet foggy morning.

 

“When you arise in the morning,
think of what a precious privilege it is to be alive
– to breathe, to think, to enjoy, to love.
 Marcus Aurelius quotes 

 “a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak”
Ecclesiastes 3:7

Go M.A.D. (Make A Difference)

IMG_4099 Burning off the Haze

Your loving kindness, O LORD, extends to the heavens, Your faithfulness reaches to the skies.  Psalm 36:5

 

In a world that seems to be swirling with fighting, violence, hatred and evil; there is something calming about a quiet morning. A morning that steals in subtlety with a hazy fog and the subdued voices of the wild birds is, to me, a blessing.

After being deluged by negative news stories of events happening in our world; I was treated to the gift of one of those wonderful quiet mornings. My husband and I sat on the porch and just soaked it in.

IMG_4098 Quiet of the Morning

 Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away. James 4:14

 

There is something elemental…something so basic about a quiet morning filled with fog. There is a hush over the land as the vapor swirls, while the sunlight is trying to break through and burn it off.  It softens the edges of the world and has a beauty that is hard to put into words.

We are rather like the vapor that is only here for a bit. In the scheme of things our lives are just a tiny dot on the timeline of life. It is humbling to remember that….we are not as much as we think we are!

It is also good to remember that while we are here, we do get to make an impact…..for better or worse. Just like the fog nourishing the crop with the dew it sends, we can affect those around us. We cannot reach everyone and encourage them…but we can encourage the person next to us. We can reach out with love, compassion and joy. We can help someone else be renewed.

IMG_4097 Hazy Morning Over the Fields

Your vigor will be renewed each day like the morning dew.   Psalm 110:3

 

Like the fog, we can be subtle. We don’t need to be flashy, glaring or loud in our efforts to make this world a little better place. Sometimes quiet things like smiles, hugs, and candy go a long ways.

And now you are wondering, where in the world is that Chicken Grandma heading with candy?????  Let me take you there….

In our church there is an older gentleman who keeps candy in his pockets.  Anytime a kid wanders close enough they are slipped a treat.  (after a questioning look at their moms and dads, of course!) When my sons were young they were always on the lookout for this man, also known to them as, Uncle Howard.

There is no fuss about handing out the candy…..no big showy splash. Just a quiet nudge and an outstretched hand with the treat waiting. To the kids in our church those treats show love.  It shows the effort of someone, to make a little difference in their day.

When my youngest son was in the lower grades in elementary school, they had “Come As a Famous Person Day.”  On our way home from school he was grouching that he didn’t even know what a famous person was!  I explained that a famous person was someone that everyone knew. His face lit up and he declared, “I want to be Uncle Howard! Everyone knows Uncle Howard!”

He did, indeed, go as Uncle Howard. He dressed exactly like him, down to the tire tester in his pocket. He handed out candy all day long….. just like Uncle Howard. I wonder if Uncle Howard really knows what an impact he has made on all those kids during the years….and all it took was a smile and some tootsie rolls.

Many times it is the little things that make a difference. They are the things that get remembered because they do make a difference. We may only be as temporary on this earth as fog, but we do have a choice in how that temporary space of time is spent.

Perhaps this coming week we can be the person that makes a difference. We can impact just one person, young or old, and show them that they matter.  My sister has a saying on her wall, that you cannot miss, when you walk out her door:  Go M.A.D. ~Make A Difference.

Let’s be the person that goes M.A.D. this week. Let’s hand out some smiles and some tootsie rolls. Let’s show the world that good and grace wins every time and that love outshines evil and hatred. We may only be a vapor…but  let’s water those around us with gentle moisture while we’re here. May you be blessed as you Make A Difference!

 

“In a gentle way, you can shake the world.”
― Mahatma Gandhi

 

“I am only one, but I am one.
I cannot do everything, but I can do something.
And I will not let what I cannot do interfere with what I can do.”

― Edward Everett Hale