Chicken Coops and Change

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These last few weeks have seemed to be speeding by. I am pretty sure it isn’t because we are getting older and moving slower.  (It might be, but I am not going to admit to that!) I think it is just the time of year; when time is growing short, to get outside things done.

We seem to be busy from morning light to the sun going down. We have been spending time by my brother-in-law cutting downed ash trees to be used to help heat our home this winter.

We have also been spending time harvesting soybeans, cleaning up the remaining things in the garden, working on our closet (when it rains…and yay…it is finished!), and just generally getting things ready for the winter season.

Yesterday, time was spent prepping the chicken coop for the winter season. The nesting boxes were cleaned out. We scooped up the old bedding from the floor and used my trusty wheelbarrow to transport it to the garden for fertilizer for the next summer crop. Actually my husband is the fertilizer transporter….he has wonderful technique in spreading it in a nice layer over the garden.

During the hot summer months my husband changes out a glass window for a screen window so the girls get a little breeze during those balmy days. Now that those days are gone, he switched the window back to the glass one. I couldn’t believe how much difference it made when I went to lock them in at night.

The coop cleaning is something that is done twice a year….spring and fall. I have come to expect this to happen sometime between  soybean harvest and corn harvest. I try to be prepared for that day when my husband comes in and announces that today is the day for coop cleaning.

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It is wonderful to go into the chicken coop those first days after it has been cleaned. Everything smells to pine or cedar shavings. The bedding on the floor is clean and dry and the nesting boxes look so inviting.

I don’t know if the girls really appreciate it or not….but I know that I do! I know they kick up a fuss while we are cleaning their home.  They come in and inspect…… often, voicing their opinions with loud clucking and fussing.

Watching them kick up a fuss I started to wonder if we kick up the same fuss when things get cleaned out in our lives? Do we wander about protesting loudly about the changes that are happening? Do we fuss and squawk about it, when in reality, our lives will be so much better when it is finished?

Are we reluctant to release the old way of life for a better one? Or do we firmly dig in our heels and make change more difficult than it needs to be? I know that I, for one, find change is sometimes hard. I like the familiar even if it is not the best for me. Like my girls…..I don’t like the unknown that change can hold.

One of my favorite songs about how hard change can be; is sung by Sara Groves……”Painting Pictures of Egypt.” When I hear that song I realize I am not so different from the Israelites in the wilderness.

Hopefully we learn to not fear the “cleaning” that our lives sometimes need. Hopefully we learn to accept those changes with grace and a curiosity about what life holds next. May we see the blessing in the changes. May we look forward to the future and be grateful for the past.

 

“Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God.” 
― Corrie ten Boom

 

 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
Romans 8:28

 

 

 

 

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Star Of Hope

 

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Autumn steals in softly
on gentle winds that blow.
The smell of earth around us
with golden fields that glow.

The cries of birds are silent
their songs no longer heard.
They’ve all flown to distant lands
by warmer weather lured.

The trees in all their splendor
have traded leaves of green.
For hues of yellow,orange and rust
and in the breeze they preen.

The flowers are slowly fading
giving up the fight
Except the blazing Star of Hope
Dancing in the night.
Faye K.

I only know this flower by the name my aunt has told me…the Star of Hope. I am quite sure it is of the allium family but I have not been able to google what kind it actually is. It is a bulb that I plant in the spring and dig back out in the fall. It seems to take forever to break through the soil.

About the time you give up on it showing up….there it is!  It grows rapidly to about 4 – 5 feet tall. It is a pretty forgiving bulb. I have forgotten it in my basement for half a summer and then stuck it in the ground. It never fails to grow and bloom…no matter when or where it is planted.

When I went to get a photo of this flower I had to hold the stem because it seemed to want to keep moving in the breeze. (I had to use my phone because I shelled out my other camera lens on vacation). I love the layers of this flower….the waxy white petals, the stamens surrounding the center and the multiple stems that hold all those beautiful blooms.

I would hope to be like that bulb….forgiving and blooming no matter where and when I have been placed. It would be good to be faithful and show up no matter what. I would hope to bring as much joy to those around me; as seeing that tall graceful stem brings to me.

May you bloom no matter where you are.  May hope find you in the place you have been planted. May you bring joy and blessing to others…and may you dance in the night.

God writes the Gospel not in the Bible alone,
but also on trees,
and in the flowers and clouds and stars.

Martin Luther

Read more at: https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/m/martinluth140721.html?src=t_flowers

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

Organized Chaos

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We have entered the canning and preserving season full blast this past week. My counter is organized chaos pretty much every day. On any given day the garden is yielding tomatoes, green beans, bell peppers, banana peppers, jalapenos, sugar snap peas and the melons have finally started to ripen.

I am not sure if anyone else has the problem that I have….I cannot bear to see any of that produce go to waste. I pick it and set about preserving it in some form.  Like I said, my kitchen counter looks like it has no rhyme or reason during this season. (Is anyone hearing the word “disaster” in their heads?) Fortunately, I know where I have put what I need to finish a batch of something.

These last days have been spent making and canning Pizza Sauce, Society Pickles (I have no idea why they were given that name!), and Hot Pepper Jelly.  Some recipes I have used so many times through the years that I have the ingredients memorized.

It is very satisfying to see the filled, canned jars setting on the counter, waiting for that “ping” that tells me the lids are sealing. (In a future post I will  have to get the recipes to you.)

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Looking at my counter makes me think, how that counter reflects my life. Many times it looks like chaos. Maybe because when it comes to my life I cannot see the entire plan. I only get to see the part that looks like my messy counter.

I know that God sees that chaos and knows exactly how all that “stuff” fits into my life….and how it will all work out.It makes me grateful that I am not in charge of what happens in my life. I am very sure I would not choose the correct plan but look for an easier, less chaotic way instead.

When I look back at some of those messier times of my life, I realize that in the midst of the mess, it felt like chaos. In looking back I can now see that thread of grace and a glimmer of the plan He has for me.

If you are in the midst of the “mess of life” I am praying calm and peace for you. Rest assured……it will not stay that way forever. Take a deep breath, hold it, and let it slowly out. (Yes for those who have gone to childbirth classes, I realize that sounds really familiar.) You will be amazed what a prayer and a deep breath can do.

May your week be filled with faith and hope…that no matter what…you will make it through. May you soon here that “ping” that tells you things are working out.

 “And me? I’m a mess.
I’m nothing and have nothing:
make something of me.
You can do it; you’ve got what it takes
– but God, don’t put it off.”
Psalm 40:17 the Message

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.

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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

 

 

 

Not So Lazy Days of Summer

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I am quickly discovering that summer is a hard time to keep current with a blog. For some reason the days are spent outdoors trying to maintain the lawn, garden, soybean fields and a bunch of other important things.  So I will apologize, up front, for not keeping up with your blogs!

It makes me wonder about that saying….the lazy days of summer.  I keep waiting for those to show up. I have discovered things during these not so lazy days. I discovered it is really hard to try photograph lightening bugs over the bean field….so all you really are getting with this post’s photo is soybeans!  Those little flying lights are there…you just can’t see them! Though I do think all those little white dots are actually the bugs…..

I am also discovering that heat and humidity will sap any creative writing thoughts that one might have. (I would hate to admit it might be age and just being really tired at the end of the day!) I headed over to the daily prompt site for some words that might generate an idea for a riveting post……(I am still wondering and searching for a marvelous idea.)

My husband and I were sitting in the house after another morning spent walking the beans. (See prior post for what that is …. in case you are wondering.) He made the comment that it is “hotter than a banshee outside”.

Once he made that comment, we both wondered what that really meant! How hot is a banshee? And what is a banshee? Perhaps my friends from over the pond have that answer?

It also caused me to wonder about other “hotter than” statements……”hotter than Dutch love.” (Hmmmm, I am mainly dutch ancestry and think I will just let that one totally alone!)  “hotter than a pistol” (?????)…….. “hotter than a cat on a hot tin roof”(why is that cat on a tin roof anyway?) ……”hot enough to fry an egg on the sidewalk” (pretty sure I will stick to using my fry pan.)…..  Any other “hotter than” comments out there?

It is one of those “hotter than” days where there will be no scampering about.  It would get entirely too hot and sweaty. It is hard enough to kind of slog through a day like this; without trying to look perky and alert! One weatherman said it exactly right…..”the next few days will have air you can wear.”

The only thing that seems to be full of life is the bugs.  The monarchs float effortlessly on the breeze. I always wonder if they are drawn by the delightful scent the milkweed blooms send out. Bumble bees and honey bees are busy gathering pollen from my flowers and typically leave us alone….as long as we leave them alone. The fireflies are like twinkling little stars stretched out over the bean field at night.

It is good to see that this type of weather is at least good for all of them. It has been so droughty here that we don’t seem to have nearly the mosquito population that we usually do….that is one upside to our lack or rain.

Maybe this weather is really given to us so that we can truly appreciate when a cool front comes through? Maybe it teaches us perseverance? Maybe, just maybe, we can be grateful it is this humid in our area. If it wasn’t so muggy, our corn fields would begin to shrivel and burn up, rather than flourish as well as they do, even without rainfall.

I guess this is when I must learn to be “content in all things” (Philippians 4:12-13)  and not just when life is exactly as I would like it to be. Maybe it is time to be happy to just enjoy the butterflies and lightening bugs.

It is good to acknowledge that God is God and I am not. He knows what I need, when I need it. His timing for my life and for the world I live in; is perfect. And for that…..I am indeed grateful!

I make known the end from the beginning,
from ancient times,
what is still to come.
I say,
‘My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please.’
Isaiah 46:10
New International Version

 

Surviving the Heat and Humidity

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My Favorite Corner

We are now officially in the weather pattern in Iowa that has two temperature settings…..hot and muggy or hotter and muggier. When we walked out our door this morning it didn’t feel too bad as it had cooled off slightly during the night.

We decided we had better walk some beans (also known as swinging a hoe in the soybean field and whacking weeds) before it became too hot and unbearable. We were fortunate in the fact that until 10:30 it was overcast and we had a breeze. You learn very quickly to ignore the heat, humidity and grit that sifts into your shoes.

By afternoon, that overcast sky had left and the sun beamed bright and hot in it’s place. I found this out when I ventured out again to weed in the vegetable garden. This has been a prolific season for weeds around here! As I was plucking out weeds and finding the carrots back; it quickly felt like I was cooking in the sun.

By evening, my husband even had to admit that it was indeed humid. He usually seems to be immune to the mugginess. When he mentioned how bad it was…..I knew it was indeed like swimming through the air when we walked outside.

I will have to admit that this weather is excellent for growing things.  The melons in the garden are vining out and I noticed some of the watermelons had marble sized melons on them. I have lettuce, that for some reason, seems to want to hang out in the carrots….and I am good with that as long as they all keep growing and get along!

My peas are spotty, but the ones that are there, are blooming. They had to be planted twice due to rabbits eating them the first time. I think they munched them to the ground as fast as they came up.

I have a feeling that is why the second group I planted came up pretty thin also. I did have one plant with a few pods on it and those pods were an excellent snack while working in the garden.

Once I had done enough weeding, I wandered around to see how the flowers were faring in this heat. It turns out they are doing wonderfully!

The elecampane is hugely tall and I think I will have to move it this fall as it is really too large for the space where it is now growing. I was given the seeds from my friend Sara; and had no idea what this plant would look like….now I know and it needs a little more room than I have given it.

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Elecampane

I had to stand on our porch to get a picture of the flower of the elecampane…..it was that tall!  If I remember right Sara told me they are of some medicinal value but, for the life of me I cannot remember for what….I may have to turn to my other buddy – Google.

My lilies are also doing wonderfully this year and have lots of buds, promising lots of blooms.

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Lilies

The phlox are also in full bloom at this time. Every time I see those beautiful blooms I think of my friend, Darlene, who sent them along with my daughter-in-law (her daughter) for me to add to my shady area. It just makes me smile.

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Phlox

The flowers and growing vegetables make all the heat and humidity worthwhile. I know they would not flourish like they do without the sticky weather. It is kind of a trade off but a lot of things in life are like that……two sides of the same coin.

It is good to remind myself that, if not for the sticky weather, our crops wouldn’t grow like they do…….nor would my flowers be as beautiful and scent the air with that wonderful sweetness that I get to enjoy.

It makes the heat of the day more bearable when there is beauty to be found. It helps through the uncomfortable seasons when you get to enjoy something as simple as flowers in bloom.

We all have obstacles.
The feeling of satisfaction comes by overcoming something.
Marta