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

 

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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

 

 

Anniversaries, Sheetrock & Love

 

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Today my husband and I celebrated 37 years of marriage. It really doesn’t seem like we got married that many years ago but the calendar assures me it is true.

We have had many well wishes by way of cards and by way of social media. The question kept coming up as to how we celebrated that many years. I was a little hard pressed to answer that one as we didn’t really do anything special…..as the world would see special.

Instead of going out, having a fancy meal, seeing a movie or doing the recommended popular anniversary stuff we spent our day on home renovations. For a long time we have had a couple closets that were never finished.

For some reason or another those closets just never made it to the top of the list of to do projects….until today. The drywall for the closet has been hanging out in our garage for quite some time. Today was the day it made it out of there and into our closet.

Putting up sheetrock in a closet might not be the “normal” way to spend one’s anniversary but for me it spoke love. My husband really does not love home renovation projects.  He knows they are necessary, but it is not something that is high on his list of things he likes to do. (I am not sure if it is even anywhere near that list of things!)

We are not quite done, as there is still mudding and taping to do (not my favorite things!). Then will be the priming, painting, and building of shelving. I cannot wait to organize things in that closet when it is done.

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It was a good way to pass the time today. It was too wet for my husband to be in the field harvesting soybeans. It also kept our mind off wanting to get in the car and head 4 hours away to our son and daughter-in-law.

We found out this morning that we had received a very special anniversary gift…. a brand new grandson! The little guy arrived at 4:27 this morning and weighed 8 pound and 3 ounces. We are so blessed.

There are no pictures yet, as that will have to wait till I can post one with me holding him! I cannot wait to get that bundle of joy in my arms and to hug the new mom and dad. There was something so cool about the fact that life has come full circle around here. From a wedding day 37 years ago to a new grandson today.

Life is so full of the small joys of closets being finished to the big things of new grandchildren. Everyone of those joys is a blessing. It is a blessing to be loved enough that my husband drywalls a closet because he knows I would like it finished. It is a blessing to anticipate the joy of holding that new grandbaby.

May this week find you seeing the blessings in the big things of life and the small things of this life. May joy surprise you in unexpected ways. May you enjoy the “fullness” of life.

“… it’s a blessed thing to love and feel loved in return.” 
― E.A. BucchianeriBrushstrokes of a Gadfly

“Blessings sometimes show up in unrecognizable disguises. ” 
― Janette Oke

 

 

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

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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

Crafting Day

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Fall Crafting

A while back two of my friends and I decided that we really needed to have a craft day.  Today was that day. All three of us have a penchant for trying crafts of various types. We had planned to make a fall craft and we did!

I had empty bottles from my Young Living Ninxgia Red that I had been saving because I thought their shape was so cool. This seemed like the perfect time to make use of them.

Paint was purchased at Menards.  Rustoleum paint plus primer was used and worked pretty good to cover the jars and their labels. We decided we would paint them without the caps on as we wanted to be able to put flowers, grasses and things like cattails in them for fall decoration.

The paint colors I used on my bottles were Rustoleum Claret Wine, Fire Orange, Strawflower and Oregano with a satin finish.

One of the gals owns a Cricut and she cut the vinyl letters for us to put on. A earlier visit to Hobby Lobby and Michaels yielded some extra stuff to bling our bottles up.

The plan was to spray the paint on the bottles outdoors; so we wouldn’t have to worry about fumes and overspray in a building. Unfortunately, the day did not dawn bright, sunny, clear or glorious! It was, instead, hazy, slightly foggy, damp, chilly and not conducive to spray painting outdoors.

Plan A was scrapped and Plan B was implemented. My husband backed the car out of the garage, put cardboard on the floor, and set up three stations for spray painting. His word of advice as he left the garage……”shake the crap out of the cans before you spray with them. When you think you shook enough…..shake some more.” So we did.

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Spraying commenced and before long we were inhaling the fumes from three constantly spraying paint cans. We did have the garage door open (complete with hog panel to keep out stray chickens) but the fumes did seem to hang out in the garage with us.

We were tentative sprayers at first. However, it did not take long and we were in the thick of spraying.  It also did not take long; and we noticed one gal’s feet had a nifty orange tinge to them. It kind of looked like a bad spray tan.

Once we were done with our spraying we had to wait for our bottles to dry. We decided we would head out to a nearby town for some dinner (or to the city people…..lunch). We found the little local drive-in was still open and we also found that Slade’s Drive In still serves amazing food!

We also decided we needed to check out the second hand store in town…..Lost But Found. It is a second hand store that is a non-profit and benefits a local charity. You just never know what you might find there.   That is what makes it so much fun.

Once we returned home we decided we would finish our decorating at our own homes when the paint was really dried nicely. Cars were packed up and it was decided we really needed to have tea and sample the muffins that the other friend had brought along. It was a great decision!

We also decided we needed to try our hand at a selfie with our painted bottles. I am not totally sure how successful we were on that score! But we gave it our best shot! And it is what it is!

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Selfie

Despite the gloomy start to the day it turned out to be a wonderful time! It was definately an “Ooh, Shiny” kind of day. I would argue that any day spent with friends turns out to be that kind of day.

It was great to craft with them, but it was also so great to spend time with friends that know who you are and love you anyway. We may not be sisters by blood….but we are definitely sisters of the heart.

I hope you all have someone who is family of the heart. I hope you all have someone who knows you well and loves you anyway. Life is so much better with friends like that.

“I have learned
that to be with those I like
is enough.”
Walt Whitman

Baby Celebrations

IMG_4031 Opening Gifts

Sometimes things in life do not go quite as planned. We had this experience this past Sunday. We had planned for a beautiful sunny day to hold a Baby Celebration for my son and daughter-in-law and our soon to come grandson. What we got was a day that started out drizzly.

We had planned to set up tables and chairs outside and have everything ready to go by 11:00, so we could get started on the grilling of burgers and hot dogs.  What we got was drizzling till about 10:45, waiting till 11:00 to make sure it really was done dripping all over, and then scrambling to get things set up outdoors so we would be ready for the guests. We had planned to have this be a casual event; and it was a casual event so that went according to plan!

Lots of prayers were sent up, on my part, for there to be a couple hour break in the drippiness.  (I struggled with that prayer as we really need the rain in this area.) We did get a break and it was long enough to fit in everything we needed to.

The day, while not warm and sunny, was a wonderful day of celebration. Lots of laughter, joking, playing games (Corn Hole and Badminton) and opening gifts. It was a wonderful day to celebrate life, family, friends, and the celebration of a new life on the way.

 

There was plenty of food for everyone….(though the frozen fruit cup was a little bit chilly for the day). Grilled burgers and hot dogs, salads and a S’more table, more than made up for the slightly damp atmosphere.

 

We decided that we would still have our homemade root beer and floats. (It was National Root Beer Float Day on Sunday so we needed those floats!) They were great with the S’mores and no one seemed to mind having a chilly dessert.

 

I had bought the duck a few years back at a garage sale. At the time I purchased it I thought it was a floaty for a pool. I found out later it was a blow up baby bathtub! I am really glad I found a great use for it at the party. It made a great root beer and water bottle holder. (I must thank the mom-to-be for taking pictures of the set up…..I had totally forgotten!)

There was lots of mingling and catching up with family and friends during the afternoon. It was a time to retell old family stories and make new ones. I may be the mom of sons…but I am blessed by the women they have brought into our family! They were the drive behind the planning, food and decorations.

We did have a really good laugh when my daughter-in-law shared that my grandson had been quizzing them on their way here about what happens at a baby shower. He was firmly convinced that this was the day the baby would arrive and we were all going to be together to witness the birth and have a huge celebration! He wanted to know all the whens, whys, and whats on how that was going to happen. I am not sure what they actually told him…but it still makes me grin.

In the end….the day was perfect in it’s weather imperfection. It was a celebration that did not hinge on circumstances like foggy damp rain. It did not hinge on “if everything went according to plan”. In the end…the day did go as planned….people had fun, we celebrated and we enjoyed being together.

It was a day that celebrated family, life, new beginnings and love.  It was a day that celebrated blessings and what they really are. When it all comes down to it I guess that is what really matters…..and it was good.

 

The best times are always found
when friends and family gather round.
Unknown

If you so choose,
even the unexpected setbacks can bring new and positive possibilities.
If you so choose,
you can find value and fulfillment in every circumstance.
Ralph Marston

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