Thursday, February 28, 2013

Yearning

Along about the end of February, winter becomes the guest who has over-stayed its welcome..  We yearn for days like these, above, where bare-footed children run and climb unfettered.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Just to make you smile...

 There are not many things cuter than a chick in a tutu,

 or the girl who thought of it...

Are there?

Friday, February 15, 2013

Ben


Benjamin Cade,
my Valentine,
my critter-loving boy...
is now seven.

He's still little enough to sit on my lap,
but too heavy to carry far.
Still small enough to not care very much for school,
but big enough to be doing well with reading, writing and arithmetic.

Big enough to check eggs and feed the cats,
Big enough to shoot a slingshot and a cap-gun,
Little enough to still climb trees and 
kiss chickens on the beak.
 
 Our seventh child is seven.
He's just perfect,
for us.



Farm Babies


I brought home some new babies yesterday.

Black Jersey Giant

Black Star

The chick above was from a different batch from last fall.  Back in September we hatched these cuties out from eggs from our own flock.  We did pretty well for our first-ever hatch, with a hatch-rate of around 60%.
This week, at four and a half months old, they began laying the tiniest, cutest, little brown eggs.  

We didn't want to miss a moment of living country life to the full, so we incubated as soon as we moved.  We also didn't want to experience a drop in egg production as the flock we inherited from the former owners was beginning to slow down.  I'm already looking ahead to fall with the chicks we just purchased, when the older hens will be phased out.  I enjoy a variety of hens, love the different egg colors and personalities of the hens.  I don't think I would gain quite as much pleasure from a homogenous flock.
    
    

Ahem.
    

Silly kitties.
Not quite *that* different.

On one occasion, we actually had a chicken and a cat vying for the same nesting space.  The chicken ended up sitting on top of the cat, and they stayed there for several hours.  I guess they both won.

 We fell into country life quite easily.  No longer could I say "no" to animals for the children.
(Although we have had to make certain adjustments in animal ownership.  I no longer let the kids grow attached to roosters.  Roosters, by necessity, come and go.  Live and learn!)
We have around 55 chickens, and I anticipate a few more chicks in a few weeks.  I have not decided whether I will raise meat birds or not, although we certainly have the room for it.
There is a pasture and the place is fenced for quite a few different types of animals.
Today, a friend brought me two rabbits, and I'm on the lookout for a couple of piglets, maybe some turkeys in March to pasture thru the summer in anticipation of Thanksgiving.

 It's a very natural fit for our family.  My parents and my sister are such organic sources of farm wisdom, so the learning curve has been gentle.

 Farm babies, like all babies, grow up quickly.  They are renewable, however, so the enjoyment goes on and on.  When one batch grows up, we can begin all over again.








Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Endurance

When I was a little girl, I sat on the floor and watched my mama's brown legs as she stood hot, endless hours at the counter canning peaches.  I wondered how she stood for so long, how they remained so strong.  Didn't she ever get tired?  Didn't she ever want to stop?

As I grew into a teen, I moved to the chair, sometimes peeling along with her. She still stood, and I still wondered.

How?

She was up at dawn, tending to something or the other, always up, always working, never, never stopping.  She raised four children and faced Carter's deep recession by growing a bigger garden.

She was a pastor's wife, so along with a hard physical life of self-sufficiency, she carried the grief of my father's congregations:  wayward children (one of them her own,) miscarried babies, accidents which took fathers.  At times, the loads were so heavy that I could not understand how she got up in the morning, let alone kept doing the work of her life.

All these years later, the secret is finally mine.   I never asked, she never told me.  I just watched, and learned.

I got here the same way she did.




Practice.

You just....do.  You get up.  You keep going.  You do the job in front of you.  You grow weary and overwhelmed.  You despair.  You become exhausted.

You think about what would happen if you dropped it all, just lay all of the responsibilities on the floor and walked away, let someone else handle them.

Then you think about everyone who would suffer if you did that, think of the ones who depend on you and trust you....

And you know that while your job is impossible, quitting is not an option.  Quitting would devastate the lives of those you love, and you won't do that.

During the tough years, this may be a daily cycle. 

Daily you give it up, drop it all, momentarily reject it, give it back to God, go to sleep, knowing that the only way you will make it thru and endure is by letting Him carry you and set you back on your legs. 

You get up in the morning, and you do it all over again....not for yourself, but for the ones you carry, the ones who trust in you.

You get strong legs for standing by just doing it - day after day after day.

God, in you, accomplishes the impossible the same way.  Small task by small task, moment by moment, year by year...

Until....


one day, by His grace, you will look back and be amazed at how far He's carried you and what you've endured and just how long you can stand












Friday, February 1, 2013

File this one under lessons from our children

 Dear Daddies and Mamas,

Let us never assume that we have the corner on teaching, that our children are given to us specifically so that they may learn from our vast stores of knowledge.
 I like to think I've journeyed far in my Christian faith.
Sometimes I even toy with the idea that I've got wisdom, that if these kids would just pay attention, they will learn so much from me.

I am humbled tonight, yes....again, this far in to parenting....
by a ten-year-old boy too sweet to have come from under my hardened and complaining heart.

From his feverish sickbed on the couch, my Josiah talks with me as I work thru my own stomach pain and pick up stray kleenex and kicked-off socks.

"You know, I'm thankful, Mom.  I really am....for lots of things."  And he makes a list:  the couch he is laying on, a mama to take care of him, movies to watch, medicine and cold water.

I think I stop and stare, a little discombobulated from the daze and the last few days with hardly any sleep.  I am definitely not thankful.  In fact, I've already run so far from thankful that I'm contemplating the goodness of God over a simple flu.  (Sleep-deprivation is not something I handle well.) 

He softens me, this boy who was a gift himself; in his own weakness he reflects his Father's glory with a pure and simple act of thanksgiving.
I may be the mama, but I have far to go and much, still, to learn.  He didn't get this gratitude from me - it came from his own heart which is turned in love toward God.


*these photos are recycled from several years ago.  I don't think any of us are up to taking/uploading pictures right now.  Ah well, you've seen one bad flu, you've seen them all.  Things look much prettier in photographs.