A little back story here- My great uncle was needing a little hobby. Nothing strenuous, but something to get him out and about. The idea came about to get him a few chickens to tend. We had more than enough to share so once his boys got a coop assembled for him we brought a handful of hens.
Each Sunday after church we would get an update on how they were doing. I tell ya’ what, he must have been talking sweet to those girls because he got an egg from each of them every day. They were decent layers at our house but never that consistent. I was glad they were working out well for him. He seemed pretty happy too.
After a year or two of chickens he moved on to turkeys. I don’t remember how many he started with exactly but after losing a couple along the way there were two hens left.
This summer at the age of 94, he passed away and the hens were needing a new home. That is how we came to inherit a couple turkeys. To be later named Lucy and Ethel.
They are about a year old roughly and gracing us with an egg or two day. Uncle Bill had mentioned before that he was hoping to have a few hatch (when he had a tom with them). Since they are part of the family in a different way than Gus and Humphrey, the steers that went to butcher, the ladies will live happily ever after with us. I don’t know if saying “in honor of” is quite the words I’m looking for, maybe “in respect of” or “in remembrance of”, I’m not sure that’s right either but for Great Uncle Bill I posted an “In search of” listing asking for a tom turkey.
There was a short week where we didn’t have any morning chores. The cows were in the pasture and the goats had been sold. I’m back to morning chores now. We’ve got the steers that are scheduled for burger and Sweet Caroline in the corral and the rest of the herd in the pasture. That means filling a second stock tank and feeding hay and grain to the boys and Caroline. They all could use a little fattening.
Poor Caroline, she’s been so skinny. I’ve dewormed her a few times thinking maybe that was the problem. According to the calendar she was due to calve in a month but she was just too thin. I spoke with the vet and he came out and gave her a look-over. Diagnosis was slight pneumonia, very nutrient deficient and not pregnant. All around disappointing but fixable. His recommendation was give her some finishing grain along with her hay and some extra minerals. And ween that darn calf!!
The other girls kick their calves off when they’ve had enough. We haven’t had much of a problem getting them to ween when needed. Elwood is a few weeks short of a year. There’s no good reason he still needs milk. Sweet Caroline is living up to her name once again. She will nurse any calf that tries and will not kick Elwood off. That is draining her as well.
Long story short, I’ve been trying to keep the two separated for a good month now. It hasn’t been going well. Elwood’s head is still small enough to fit through the fences and gates. He calls from the gate and she stands there and lets him eat. We had finally been making progress when she was in with the steers.
“Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.” Proverbs 19:21
Don’t I know it! The amount of plans that I have carefully or carelessly put together that have gone up in smoke are endless. I plan all the time and most the time God says “Nope turn left” when I’m stepping right. For a great many years the change of plans that took me a direction I had not planned to go was quite frustrating. I had things to do, it says so on my list.
I pray all day long for what I would like to see happen and so far I’m not seeing the progress that I would hope. It’s discouraging. I’ve been putting in the prayer and the work that I think will make a difference and still I feel no closer to my goal than I did before. Which brings me to “Thy will be done.” Matthew 6:10
“Maybe you need to sit in the barn for a day.” – Mike, husband
I have been struggling with almost constant headaches and migraines for a few weeks now. The barn was Mike’s suggestion to my curiosity about an ear piercing that supposedly minimizes or cures migraines for good. He’s right. I am in need of some serious barn therapy. The lack of writing about the farm and animals is a good indication that I haven’t been doing my fair share of chores this winter. It’s true, my pregnant farmer days have slowed to next to none unfortunately, but with the nice weather coming it’s time I get out of the house and get going on things again. Mike has been doing a great job out there and has tamed the girls down again. Finally Lucy (the milk cow) will eat out of our hands again and Wheezy too!
It seems like a very long time since I have been knee deep with my pitch fork. I’m pretty sure when he said “sit” he meant just that. Just sitting in the barn although a great thought, just might do me in. The longer I sit, the more time I have to see everything that needs to be done and think of what can’t be seen that needs doing too. Nope, sitting will come after the barn time. After I waddle my way to the house, just before my back tightens up for the night and I make pancakes for supper because I’m done for the day. (Yes, that happens here too. Mama fails to plan ahead and its pancakes for all!)
Last weekend, Mike was able to sneak me out of the house while the kids napped and bread rose. It was nice to wander through the barn and check on everyone. The goat’s hooves looked pretty good. I will pencil them into my schedule a couple weeks from now for a pedicure. Otherwise, everyone was looking great and eagerly waiting at their fences for whatever handout they may be offered. Lucy and Wheezy are looking rather wide, and healthily pregnant. Little G.W. could use some green pasture for a while. He’s looking good just small yet. It won’t take much summer for him to catch up. Elvis’s horns are more than nubs now; I’d like to keep him around for another year or two just to grow those out before butchering. That isn’t going to happen though.
If you have never spent serious time in a barn you really should! (you can use mine, pitch fork included!) There is nothing like it. When chaos happens in the barn, (yes “when”, there is no “if” there) it passes quickly and once again you are left in a quiet calm. There is peace in there. Time to think and relax, even while working. It seems to be the easiest way to reset yourself, to regain a handle on things and recharge. This is probably why morning chores are my favorite… though I haven’t been doing them in a while. Even a quick “hurry up and get the animals fed before the kids wake up” takes twenty minutes or so and is enough to start your day on the bright side. (again I will offer the barn therapy sessions for free seven days a week)
I’ve now seen how things go when I skip out on my barn time and it’s past time that I get back out there!
Spring can mean many different things depending on who you ask. From our farm view it is the start of the New Year. It brings baby animals, buds on the trees, blooms on the flowering crab trees, tulips (that I forgot to plant last fall! Ugh!) There’s spring cleaning of the house, yard, barn, flowerbeds, and gardens. It can get really crazy as things come out of winter hibernation. Spring is also a time to slow down and be thankful. That’s right being thankful isn’t limited to one day in November, you know the day before people go to town and fight over the latest gadget.
Giving thanks really should be done daily. In fact many studies have shown that the more one takes note of what they have to be thankful for the happier and more content they are. This is everything from a simple act of kindness, good health, an unexpected phone call from a friend or the orange soda you had for lunch. Every season brings something more to be thankful for and in the spring it’s the resurrection and what that means for us.
The weeks leading up to Easter are observed with fasting, self-reflecting, and most commonly the giving up something; such as the ever popular “sweets” or coffee. It seems like kind of a cop-out really. Give up the same thing every year because it requires no real soul searching or thought; “My pants are tight from Christmas, I suppose giving up sweets would be a good idea.” I’m not saying going without coffee or chocolate cake is an easy task, especially when you are still coming down from the cookie high of the holidays. But really, does it do you any spiritual good? Probably not. I knew a gal that for lent she said she was going to go to church every day for a year. Ho-ly Bananas! God bless her! She did it. I for one, am quite positive that a Lenten task such as that I would be setting myself up for complete failure. I mean done by day two failure.
For the past years, I have skipped the usual giving something up in the coffee sense of it. Instead I donate a minimum of one laundry basket of stuff a week. Yes, I would say the first few years were an easy route. I had a lot of clothes that I didn’t wear, old decorations I didn’t put up and so on. As the years have gone by this has begun to get tougher. I don’t collect nearly as much stuff as I used to and with our small house I have been getting rid of things year round. So each passing year is causing me to dig deeper into some of the things that I hold on to a little more dearly. The family heirlooms aren’t going anywhere but my ever growing book collection, cookbooks especially, I hate to part with for example. Going through the shelves is a sacrifice for me. But there is still not much in the spiritual department so to speak.
In addition to my usual (not quite) daily readings I have added a few other quiet tasks to my Lenten list. I needed something more, something that would teach. Something not just for me but for the family as a whole. With tiny ones (1 and 2 years old) teaching the concept to Easter is a tough one. The little boy knows the story of Christmas. He can tell you who’s who in the books and nativity scenes, (some of which are out all year in our home, a gentle reminder). He will tell you Joseph had to sleep in the barn and Mary had baby Jesus. There were animals, angels and shepherds and so on. Easter, on the other hand, seems harder to teach this age. He can learn the story but the story is a violent journey ending in joy that is not quite comprehensible for such a little mind.
We do put a small gift or two in the stockings and one gift from Santa but try to emphasize the true meaning of Christmas. It’s easier with Christmas. It’s a happy story for the entire journey. Easter, comes with bunnies, jelly beans and Easter egg hunts and a man being killed on a cross and then rising from the dead. Such violence is hard to explain to someone who has never experienced something more violent than a flick on the mouth for talking back or a time out. The crucifix in our living room is looked at with a puzzled look when he is told “that’s Jesus”. He hasn’t thought about why Jesus is up there or how he got there or the pain and suffering that put him there.
The rebirth, and new beginnings can symbolized in some of what has become another over-commercialized holiday but it can be found. Empty plastic eggs compared to an empty tomb, bunnies and baby chicks to new life or candy as a celebration for fasting. Ok that last one is a stretch but you get the picture.
Our dining room table always has a center piece and for the Lenten season it is an empty patch of dirt, with a cross of nails and a small cave. Jesus is sad for these weeks, there is no green grass or pretty flowers. When we talk back or push our sister it makes Jesus sad and the empty dirt is a reminder to be nice. We water the empty dirt on Friday and tell Jesus we are sorry for the things we shouldn’t have done, what we are thankful for and good deeds we did. These are simple things- talked back, threw a toy not meant for throwing, thankful for a warm house and family, we helped put the books back on the shelf and set the table.
A week and a half or so before Easter the dirt is heavily seeded with grass seed. As we continue to water during reflection time grass begins to sprout. On Easter morning, the grass is full and green and there might be a butterfly or flowers. Jesus is happy and we are too.
It’s the least violent way I could think of to teach about this season to a toddler. The repent for our sins is made into as simple terms as possible. We are learning to take ownership of our actions and acknowledge all that we have been giving.
Don’t get me wrong, come Easter morning their baskets will be “hidden” with a treat, a dyed egg and new toothbrush. The Easter bunny will have come and left a couple dishes of special candies and with any luck there may be an egg hunt later in the day. We can have the “bunny fun” as a side note of Easter and not the center of attention.
(We always got a new toothbrush from Santa and the Easter Bunny. Give one for Halloween and you know everyone is getting a fresh brush a few times a year anyway.)