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.)

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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.

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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.

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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

 

 

 

 

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Farm Gloves and Life

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The other day I had to ask my husband to break out a new pair of those yellow farm gloves for me….the fluffy feeling yellow ones.  The pair I had been wearing were just getting too worn to be of any good. (And they didn’t feel fluffy anymore!) The finger ends were all starting to get holes in them and that doesn’t make for much finger protection from who knows what.

He went down to the basement and dug out the last pair in my size. (sort of my size…if my fingers were each 1/2 inch, or more, longer) When I started to inspect them, I discovered a rodent had decided to chew on the wristband! I have a feeling he (the rodent….not my husband) won’t be chewing any more as my husband has been successfully trapping the little critters.

For years, when our boys were home, we would have to put our names on things so we knew who had which gloves etc.  For some reason I have not gotten away from that practice.

When the new gloves came out I whipped out the black sharpie and promptly put my name on those gloves…MOM.  I kind of laughed at that one also!  I don’t get called Mom unless the kids are around. It is habit I guess…that putting my name on them and then using the name Mom.

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I am good with that as I have earned that name.  I also discovered early on that if you turn those gloves the other way they read WOW…..I am good with that too! (And now I am wondering how many of you have turned your computer upside down to check that out?)  Some days you just need a wow moment. If you can’t have that moment, at least your gloves can say it.

These yellow farm gloves can seem rather pedestrian at first glance. They aren’t glamorous, trendy, cute, stylish, or even remotely fashionable.  They are just….gloves and extremely practical gloves at that. You can purchase them at a farm store by the dozen…..and we sometimes do! I should probably look into adding some bling to mine….then I could be practical and have a little sparkle.

In the scheme of things; I think I would rather be a farm glove, than something trendy. Farm gloves have staying power….they are reliable.  If these gloves were a person…they would not be easily offended…they would just dig right in and do what they were supposed to do without fear of what someone else thought about them.  I guess the word unassuming comes to mind with my farm gloves.

Maybe that is why I like these gloves. I don’t have to worry about them getting dirty or worn. They are made to be useful and that is a good thing in my mind. Hopefully I am a little like those gloves….not afraid of a little dirt and useful. (A hint of sparkle would be okay too!) It is also okay to be a little worn out….it shows that you have lived life and not held anything back.

I love the fact that a simple pair of yellow farm gloves can remind me of so many truths. The reminder, that at the end of the day……what you did has much more to say about who you are; than what you look like.

 

It is not the style of clothes one wears,
neither the kind of automobile one drives,
nor the amount of money one has in the bank, that counts.
These mean nothing.
It is simply service that measures success.
George Washington Carver

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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

 

 

Another Crafting Day

 

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This past week was another busy one.  Some things made for busyness because of the time of year. Things like daisies needing to be dug out, due to night temperatures dipping below freezing to hauling the pie pumpkins into the house from their place on the porch.

Other things, were fun things that were added in. One of those things was a crafting day with friends. This time around we decided to try decorating bottles for the Christmas holiday.

To prepare for this we collected quart mason canning jars, wine bottles, garage sale decorations, ribbon, spray paint, sparkly letters and of course glitter. It is amazing to me how many empty wine bottles people have! I am not sure if that is bad or good….having so many empty wine bottles.

We decided to hold this crafting effort at one of the friend’s lake house.  The plan had been to spend the night but the weather forecast for the following day was “iffy” at best. The four-letter Snow word was tossed about as well as the Ice word. We decided to believe the weatherman and cut it short to one day.

The day dawned grey, cold and windy……really windy. The view from the lake house patio door was white caps on the lake.

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Coots Riding the Waves

Before we ever got to crafting we had to make a pit stop at the Hobby Lobby in a town nearby. We weren’t even sure what we were really looking for but spent lots of time in the Christmas decoration parts of the store.

It was fun seeing what we all chose to put in our cart at Hobby Lobby. It was also fun to see how we used all those purchases.

Arbor Mist bottle

An Arbor Mist bottle started this project. We used Rustoleum gold paint for the base and then dusted it lightly with a metallic glittery spray paint. (not sure what kind as one of the friends brought that). The tree farm picture on the front was from a tablet of Christmas paper by Paper Studio. (purchased at Hobby Lobby and no…..I do not get anything out of letting you know which products were used or where purchased. I just thought it would be nice for you to know).

We used Mod Podge to glue it to the bottle and rubber bands to keep it stuck there till it dried. We then garnished with second hand shop finds of raffia and berries. I think I will be tweaking mine a little more as I prefer some greenery to use with it.

We spray painted quite a few bottles and it will be interesting to see how we each actually finish them.

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It was so much fun to spend the day with friends. It is such a blessing to have friends that know exactly who you are and like to spend time with you anyway. It is something to be truly grateful for. I am also full of gratitude for the fact that we actually were able to figure out how to use the timer on my phone to get a photo of us! That is truly amazing!

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I hope you have someone to call “friend” …..someone who cares how you feel…..someone who laughs with you, cries with you, prays with you, gives you a hug when you need it and who also isn’t afraid to tell you what you need to hear. Those are the best kind of friends and I am blessed.

True friendship multiplies the good in life and divides its evils.
Strive to have friends, for life without friends is like life on a desert island…
to find one real friend in a lifetime is good fortune;
to keep him is a blessing.
Unknown

 

 

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

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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

 

 

 

 

Finding The Treasure

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This is the season that is spent on harvesting. Soybean fields and soon corn fields will have seen the combine come and harvest all that precious grain. I realized that I was also finishing up my harvesting….on a much smaller scale.

I had one last bucket of apples that needed to be turned into apple pie filling. I also had a bucket of apple peels and cores that had to be made into apple juice. After those first jars of rosy juice stood “pinging” on my counter top I could not resist taking a photo of them.  They were so pretty and they positively glowed!

My grandchildren have discovered that this Chicken Grandma has jars….many jars of apple juice. They love to help me go get a jar from the pantry when they are here for a visit. Most meals, when they are visiting, seem to include at least one jar of juice.

I also spent time finishing up in the garden picking the last of the produce. Fortunately, pumpkins and squash, are hardy enough to take a hard freeze so there was no rush to get them out earlier.

The other day I wheeled my trusty wheelbarrow to the garden and picked what was left of the produce.

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My husband kind of chuckles about my wheelbarrow.  I will admit, she is not a beauty and has probably seen better days but she has been a loyal, trusty helper these last years. I have found that it is much easier to move things around with her help than trying it without her!

My wheelbarrow really doesn’t owe me a thing.  I got her free at an auction. The auctioneer failed to sell her and I spoke with the owner after the sale about what he would charge for it…..he told me to go ahead and take it home!

The corners in the front have cracks and when I have her loaded with pumpkins and squash….she makes a strange hawonka…hawonka noise as I make my way over the uneven lawn. (I will never be able to sneak up on anyone or anything while pushing that wheelbarrow!)

Earlier I expressed the thought that she is no beauty….I may have been a bit hasty with that comment. She is rusty, she makes strange noises and once in awhile her wheel wobbles around a bit…..but in a strange way, my wheelbarrow is beautiful!

Maybe my wheelbarrow is a lesson for me.  Maybe I need to look closer at things and people in my life. I know there are times I tend to look only at what is on the surface. I need to take a closer look at what lies underneath.

I have a feeling I may be surprised at what I find. Maybe I will find that instead of a bucket of peels and cores, what most of us would consider junk….I will find instead glowing rosy bottles of juice. Maybe I will discover that beneath the rust, wobbly wheels and strange noises is a wonderful beautiful treasure.

May you have a wonderful weekend of discovery. May you, and me, look beneath the surface at what really matters. May we be blessed and may we be a blessing.

 

Everything has beauty,
but not everyone sees it.
Confucius

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