Transformation

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It is amazing how much the landscape can change in just a day or two. We went from 50 degree weather and sunny, to howling winds and that white stuff blowing around. It was a sudden transformation that I should have expected ….after all we do live in Iowa!

For some reason it seems we are always surprised when that first snowfall comes. In a way it is a good thing; as it can be a little hard to get in the Christmas decorating spirit when the trees are bare, the air is warm and the ground is brown. At least it seems hard for me.

The thing I find so hard to get used to, the older I get, is the cold. My dad used to tell us that we are in the season of the lazy wind…..it is too lazy to go around you and it just goes right through you instead! The wind seems to have more of a bite to it; the more I age.  I am not sure how that actually works. I just know that it seems to be a very sad fact.

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There is kind of a beauty to this season of change. The other night when I went to lock the girls in for the night, the snow was coming down softly. The wind had stilled, the flakes fell softly and melted as they hit my skin.  I could hear the echoing calls of a flock of geese as they settled down on the river for the night. Standing there, with only the moon for light, it was a delight for the senses.

Sometimes change can be good. The cold season of winter makes me appreciate the warming days of Spring. So many things in life are the same way. It takes the uncomfortable times and cold seasons to make me really appreciate those times when things are easier and seem to go smoothly.

Winter is a great time for reflection. It is a time to slow down and enjoy the warmth of a wood stove and a cup of hot chocolate. It is a great time to dream of the warmth to come and enjoy the company of family. It is a gift of time to reflect on blessings given.

Take time daily to reflect on how much you have.
It may not be all that you want
but remember someone somewhere
is dreaming to have what you have.” 

― Germany Kent

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Thanksgiving Contenment

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Today was a day that seemed like I was attached to my oven by an invisible rope. It seems that this time of year it is always that way. There are multiple things to be prepared and baked for the holiday tomorrow.

I will have to say that the house smelled wonderful. The scent of cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and pumpkin wafted through the house today.  For some reason I didn’t seem to be hungry much of the day. I have a feeling it is because I was taste testing things as I went!

While baking pies, bars, and cupcakes I was gifted time to think and reflect on the many things for which I have to be thankful. The things like family who remain close even though we don’t live near each other. Things like friends that we do life with… health, a safe harvest, etc. all came to mind…..they are all wonderful things and I am grateful for all of them.

I am also grateful for that feeling of contentment that takes hold of me when I am putzing about my kitchen, stirring, mixing and baking things. I have no idea why…it isn’t anything in particular….but time in my kitchen just makes happy. Maybe it is because I have time, while mixing, to reflect? Maybe I am like my chickens and am happy with a place to nest?

I tried to pinpoint the reasons for this feeling but really could not. Maybe it is the feeling of being useful and being enough. With all the struggles going on in this world I was grateful for the contentment of my kitchen.  My kitchen may look like a small tornado went through it…..but my heart is content.

For those who are facing this holiday as the first without a loved one….my heart grieves with you. For those who struggle with health, finances and family issues…please know that you are not alone…others have been where you are and understand. It will not stay this way forever. (Psalm 30:5)

For those facing hard things during what should be a wonderful time….there are no easy or pat answers. May you find peace in this season. May you find one thing to be grateful for each day. May you see those waiting to bless you and may you have a place where you can be content….even if it is as simple as standing by your oven; with smells of cinnamon and cloves drifting through your home.

A blessed day of Thanksgiving and gratitude to you all….no matter what country you are from!

 

Dear Lord; we beg but one boon more:
Peace in the hearts of all men living,
peace in the whole world this Thanksgiving.
Joseph Auslander

Read more at: https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/joseph_auslander_205953?src=t_thanksgiving

Beauty of the Seasons

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Seasons in the Midwest are so very temporary.  Our weather can change swiftly in a few days….not to mention how it changes in a couple weeks.  A few weeks back there were still leaves on the trees and and when the light of the setting sun landed on those trees it was positively glorious!

My husband came in the house one of those nights and told me I needed to get my camera because the view was beautiful…..he was so right!  The trees glowed in hues of russet and gold and the light seemed to dance across the landscape. (That man has a good eye and I am so glad he shares with me.)

IMG_4829 A Golden Day

The fields are beautiful when they are green and growing but there is something about the golden stubble that carpets the earth once that field has been harvested. Maybe it is the feeling of contentment when that harvest is in and that golden glow is icing on the cake.

IMG_4832 The Windmill

I wandered about, that evening, in awe of the artistry of the Creator. You would think those tones of brown would be rather boring. Instead of boring; they were rich, vibrant and spoke of life. The crisp evening air was an added bonus.

A few days later we had several windy days…very windy days, and the russets and golds were all gone. In it’s place; were bare tree limbs, stretching to the sky….another season was trying to push itself forward.

The last few days have felt more wintry than Fall-like. The other morning we woke to a frosty landscape. It sparkled…it shimmered…it looked like someone had thrown glitter with reckless abandon.

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The morning sun turned those frosty branches into sparkling things of beauty. The intricate crystals were so delicate and fragile. They clung tenaciously to everything till the sun finally won and melted them.

IMG_4857 Surreal

The fields had lost their golden glow and became a surreal world with a hazy dreamy quality. It was so cold that morning; you could see your breath,  but it was worth braving the cold to enjoy the show.

I started out standing on the porch in my socks, but soon decided I needed to get my shoes on and really experience the brief space of time that frost hung heavy on everything.

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Even  our humble mailbox had been turned into a piece of art. It stood there quietly, like a sentinel guarding the yard….standing proudly in the middle of frost covered grass.

The seasons all seem so fleeting…or maybe it is the beauty of the seasons seems so fleeting. The sun glows on the fall leaves for such a short time before the wind comes to strip the trees bare. The frost clings on branches such a short time before the heat of the sun melts them and the magic seems gone.

Sometimes life can be the same way.  The dreary days seem to last forever. Just when you think the dreary will never quit…. a ray of light shines through and turns the world into a golden fire or a sparkling, glittering showpiece.

I hope this finds you seeing that ray of light. If it doesn’t I pray, the promise of that ray of light feeds your faith and keeps hope alive. May you be blessed in the light and may you be blessed in the waiting for the light. Be assured…..it will come…..and you will see it. And when it does….it will be glorious!

 

“Some moments were golden;
they were designed and orchestrated by an invisible hand,
and they were meant to be more than moments.
They were meant to be memories.” 

― Heather BurchIn the Light of the Garden

 

 

 

 

Winter Preparations

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I cannot believe how fast these days are going. It is a mystery to me how we already are at Friday when it seems that just yesterday it was Monday! Does anyone else seem to have this issue or is it just me?

I kind of wonder if the time goes by so fast because there seems like there is so much to get done before it is really wintertime. There are so many things that need to be finished up….things like harvesting corn…..splitting the wood and making sure everything that isn’t used during the winter is put in it’s proper place.

The last days have been spent splitting wood, while we wait for corn to be harvested. It is good there is time to get this done before the weather really turns nasty.  Already, there is a bite to the wind as we are outside working on the wood pile.

I am really grateful that last year we purchased a log splitter.  We had never had one before and after my husband borrowed a friends, he decided we really should have one. We were very fortunate to find a splitter that was being sold as clearance late last fall.

For an entire year that splitter stayed in it’s crate and finally this past week we assembled it and put it to use. It is amazing how quickly you can go through wood with the right tools. In the past, my husband would put in hours doing all that work with a wedge and sledge hammer. (I have no idea if those are the proper terms and I am okay not knowing!)

It was interesting to see that sometimes perfectly good looking logs were not that great looking on the inside!  Several, when split in half, were a little rotten and had loads of big black ants in them.  The girls thought it was an amazingly great thing when that would happen.

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The girls might have enjoyed the ant-infested logs but I much preferred the good solid ones!  They looked like they would burn and give out a lot more heat than the mushy ones.

I have a feeling that we, as humans, can be a lot like those logs. We look great on the outside but inside we don’t look quite as good. Fortunately, if we are willing…..that not so good stuff can be redeemed and used for something good. While ants are not so good for logs….they are great for chicken food. “Stuff” in our lives that is not so good; can be turned around and used to help others through the same “stuff”.

There is a great feeling of satisfaction seeing the growing pile of wood, that we will use to help heat our home this winter.

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There is a sense of fulfillment seeing tasks finished up and being able to check them off the seasonal “to do” list. I know that when we put that wood in the stove this winter, while the snow is flying and the wind is howling, we will be grateful for the time and effort spent these last few days.

It is good knowing we are going to be prepared for the coming cold days. It is good knowing we can just go to the wood pile and it will be ready for us to just toss in the stove. It will be wonderful to feel the heat and just enjoy the season that is winter.

May all your seasonal preparations go smoothly and may you be blessed by all the “stuff” that makes up your life. Have a wonderful weekend!

“Winter is the time for comfort, for good food and warmth, for the touch of a friendly hand and for a talk beside the fire: it is the time for home.””
–Edith Sitwell

 

 

Identity in Photos

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This past week I was challenged on Facebook to do a Black and White Photo Challenge. The hard part of that challenge was to use only photos to show who I was…my identity.  I wasn’t allowed to use any words….any explanations….any photos of people… to tell the story of my life. It really was a challenge!

I thought I didn’t do too badly….except I could not find a way to include my family. The challenge made me realize that as people, we really have many facets to our lives. Our lives are intricate linkings of so many things….people, places, things, ideas, beliefs etc.

I am going to share with you some of the photos that I posted. If you are a regular reader, a couple of the photos might be familiar to you. They might look slightly different because I changed them from color, to black and white.

The photo up top is pretty self-explanatory….blogging and tea are a part of my life that I thoroughly enjoy. I have never made a dime from it and more than likely never will, but I have met so many wonderful people through blogging. There are so many of you that I would love to sit on the porch and share a cup of tea/coffee with.

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The Girls and Their Home

I thought I should definitely include a photo of my chicken coop, complete with a couple of the girls. (This is one of the photos that may be familiar!) If I am the Chicken Grandma I guess it stands to reason; chickens are a part of my life. I have learned many lessons from the chickens I have known and cared for. I have a feeling they have many more lessons to teach me.

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Another facet of my life would be my participation in using essential oils and other products from Young Living. I have found them to be useful to me in so many ways. I love to help others learn about them and love using products that contain natural ingredients rather than a lot of man made chemicals. I have been fortunate to meet many great people this way also.

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Solid Ground For Me

My faith is a big part of my life and this year I am participating in a Bible study of the Fruit of the Spirit through Coffee Break Bible Studies. This is my first year with this group and I am finding it to be a great experience.  Once again….so many good people!

The next two pictures were, for me, ways that show life with my husband. My husband loves the thought of being self-sufficient. He loves large gardens, living off the land and burning wood in our wood stove. I love this picture for that very reason.

I also love the texture and the roundness of those logs. Knowing they will make my house nice and warm this coming winter is a great thing too!

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This man that I married 37 years ago was born a farm boy and remains very much a farm guy. The first 6 months of our married life we lived in a very small town. He could not wait to move out to the farm where he didn’t see anyone when he stepped out the front door.

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The M Farmall is the second tractor we ever owned. Every so often my husband wonders if he should sell it, but then decides it isn’t worth that much money, so he may as well hang on to it. I am always glad he decides to keep it as I am a little sentimental about that old tractor.

When I look at those pictures I realize they portray only a small part of my life. There are so many things I did not get included. Not being able to include photos of family, friends and loved ones leaves a huge hole in the fabric of life.

I realized that objects cannot replace relationships and never will. I also know that one can not really share their entire life in the space that a few photos take…..it takes a lifetime to share a life.  It takes a lifetime to know someone and to be known.

Have a blessed weekend. Take the time to build those relationships…the ones that last and stand the test of time. Those relationships are a wonderful gift and blessing.

 

“Through others we become ourselves.” 
― Lev S. Vygotsky

 

The whole point is to live life and be –
to use all the colors in the crayon box.
RuPaul

Read more at: https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/r/rupaul818076.html?src=t_live_life

 

 

 

Warmed Twice

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We seem to be running behind this season. The harvest is running late due to rain….the grandson came two weeks after his due date and we are cutting wood for the winter season way later than is normal for us.

Usually we try to have wood cutting done in the spring so we can just check that off our list of things to do. This year, due to surgeries, that did not happen. By the time we had both recovered from those surgeries we were full tilt into summer stuff to do.

Things like lawn mowing, gardening, weeding, lawn mowing, walking beans, lawn mowing etc. just seemed to need doing more than wood needed cutting. We are now at that point in time where we can no longer put it off.

We are in that season where the weather can change from one day to the next….sunny one day and snowing the next. We have had our first hard freeze so we know it will really not be long before we do hit the winter season.

We have also had several cold rainy days where we were scrounging around for wood to put in the wood stove to take the chill out of the house. The last couple days we have had a break in the rain so it became time to go cut wood.

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Wood cutting was chilly and wet this morning and I was feeling a little cold and miserable. My husband had to remind me that heating your house with wood warms you twice. I think he is right because as you are cutting and hauling wood it warms you and once you put it in the wood stove and light it up, you are warmed once again.

I must say that there is something wonderful about seeing that fire in the stove and feeling the warmth it produces. I am quite sure, by the end of the heating season, I will not feel quite the same way. I will be sick of sweeping up bits of twigs, bark and ashes. I will be ready for the warmth of spring and summer.

After re-reading that last paragraph I am beginning to see why time goes faster the older I get. It seems I am wishing my seasons away. That might be a lesson for me to slow down and just enjoy the season I am presently in.

Even though there are uncomfortable parts of those seasons, I guess I should really relish the good parts. There are exceptional parts to each season and I may have to stop and look for those parts.

Changing seasons are so much like life. Good and bad all rolled into one.  The choice is to decide what we are going to focus on…the good or the bad.

I think I will choose to enjoy the damp mornings that smell of fallen leaves melting into the grass….mornings cloaked in that peculiar stillness that is the season of autumn.

My choice will be to stand, at night, on my porch and listen to the sound of the combines in the fields and dryers running to dry corn in the bins.

It will be a good thing to see the fog roll up from the river on a frosty morning and hear the lonesome sound of geese as they fly….following instincts that take them to warmer places for the winter.

I will choose to delight in the cool nights where I can sit by the warm wood stove and drink my tea. I will try to remember the joy of being “warmed twice”……and I will close my eyes, sip my tea, and be grateful.

“One can enjoy a wood fire worthily
only when he warms his thoughts by it as well as his hands and feet.”
Odell Shepherd

 

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.

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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

 

 

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