Friday, May 15, 2015

A Simpler Life

Nearly drowned out by the beating of the rain on the window panes, the TV news pundits are giving their opinions on the days events. I sit at the computer, my heart drawn to pick up my blogging as if we had never left off, good friends are like that. I moved to the sticks to enjoy the call of the simple life, not so much a call, but more of a distinct and undenyably loud yell, and yet after several years I found myself longing for the companionship and human contact of a city job.

Perhaps I am as flighty as the hummingbirds outside my window, but after a few years I found my heart crying once again for the feel of the dirt under my nails, the pelting of rain on my face, the sweat on my brow and the smell of a newborn calf. Such things are hard to find imprisoned behind a desk in a cinder walled office with windows overlooking a parking lot. So, I said goodbye to the people and once again, and with relief, embraced the dirt, plants and livestock.

I sit nestled warmly into my overstuffed couch, with my little lap dog, feeling the words and emotions of the day welling up on the inside. So I write, I put them on paper, well more of a screen, but I get them out. They fall out of my head as quickly as I can type, cascading like the spring waterfall running in the pasture.

 Its a rainy spring day and I am thankful that I have already planted much of the garden. Although with the 26 degree freeze and 4" of snow, a Mother's Day gift from old man winter, I discovered the need to replant just a few of my more tender items. Just go away old man winter! Now that I find myself a little beyond the age of comfortably playing in the snow or getting an unexpected day off school, I don't like your gifts much. Three hours of covering plants with CD cakeboxes, followed by doubled up bath towels, who knew I had so many?, followed up by a thick layer of hay kept most of the harsh elements at bay. I lost my watermelon plants and most of the vining varieties that had yet to breech the surface.

 Despite the rain, I pull on my mud and cow-pie caked boots and traverse the steep hill leading to the garden. My curiosity is strong, strong enough to drag me out into the cold pelting rain. I had removed the protective shield a few days ago and most of the plants fared well, but like any lover of the land, I had to go out and check again. After all, I hadn't checked on them yet today. The heavy and long low rumble of thunder in the distance spurs me on to just take a quick peek and return to the warmth of the house. Yet, the beauty of the plants causes me to linger. Everything is growing so well.

 Three rows of potatoes are up and running strong. Out of 20 plants, not a single tomato was lost. All 6 peppers survived as well as the onions and herbs. I assess the weed situation and declare victory...for now. It just feels right to stand in the dirt and survey the garden. The world in all its chaos just feels right when a person can stand in the midst of a thriving garden. And so I stand and for a few minutes gawk, and then I return to the house, to the TV and to the pundits, and feel just a little bit sorry for all those folks who sit at desks behind cinder walls and have no garden to stand in.

The apple tree is BLOOMING!

Dark skies, but boy is it green. I love the rain. We only average 9"/year here.

Fruit trees. Two cherries, two peach, two pears and two plums up here and an apple down by the house. Now, to keep the bears away from the harvest!

Lots of flowers coming up around the place. So pretty! Yes, even the dandelions.



Asparagus, we already had a couple meals, so much better than store bought. 


Lots of lichens on the rocks.

Spring run off waterfall in the pasture.

Pasture is green!

have a dozen or so of these waterholes on the property right now.

Deer just outside the garden...stay away!

Love listening to the waterfall babbling.

Roosters...need to do some butchering on a dry day.

Hershey, a faithful OLD companion. Checking out the garden with me.

Milk cow and roosters in the pasture. 

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

A Nebraska Evening

Its midnight. I sit in my pajamas on the porch swing my dad and I worked together to build. The frogs and crickets sing a chorus as the remaining storm clouds swirl around the full moon. An occasional coyote cry joins in along with the answerings of neighborhood dogs and a random bird or two. Steve lies in the bedroom adding his snores to the cacophony. Something about the humidity and noises in the air reminds me of Nebraska, and the summer evenings as the thunderstorms rolled though. Oh how I miss Nebraska. I never realized before how much I miss the warm humid summer nights. Not at all like the cool, crisp, dry nights of Colorado.

A jet flies over and momentarily overpowers the sounds. I look out over the mountains at the shimmering city lights below. A whole world away, the city is abuzz with activity. The bright moon drowns out the stars, unusual for our normally starry sky.

As I sit and drink in the evening, the distant rumble of the fire engines takes my mind back to earlier. I hear one, then a second engine leave and yet, I still hear the pump of another. I wonder how my son is, I'm proud of him for daily chosing to sacrifice his life for others. I think the neighbor's house is a total loss.

As we headed down the mountain for church we came upon thick white smoke just over the ridge. I instantly thought house fire. Steve thought, more likely, grass fire. I thought it looked like it may be coming from the house we almost bought. As we crested the hill, my heart sank. It was a house. Not the one we put a bid in on, but nevertheless, the "neighbor's." I use the term loosely because although they are 3 or 4 miles down the road, out here in the sticks they are still neighbors. I hope maybe its just a garbage fire or burning brush, but then I notice a man on the roof with a garden hose. The roof is wet on the north end and he stands on the south as smoke pours out of the south half. I can tell immediately its futile and I hope and pray the fire department is on the way. Dressed up and in high heels I know I'm of no help. No cell phone service, I suggest steve drive faster so we can get to an area of cell coverage and call the fire department.

The man makes a frantic run for the north end of the hosue and jumps off the roof. My guess is the heat has gotten to be too much and fearing colapse, he jumped to safety. Although its a ranch, it was still a long way to jump.

Around the next bend we see the bright green command vehicle, lights flashing, taking the corners at breakneck speed. I look to see if Josh is behind the wheel. Not him; although I'm not suprised, he usually drive the big engine. As we hit the main road the big engine aproaches. A wave of parental pride rushes over me as I see him racing to the fire. I pray for their safety and for the family as well. Another engine passes then another and later on yet another. An ambulance is in the mix along with several sherrif vehicles and cars with Volunteer FD tags.

I wish I could describe the emotions I felt as I watched him try to save his house. In just a few fleeting seconds, I felt such grief and sadness. His possesions, pictures, his entire life going up in smoke. To top it off the family just moved in 4 months earlier. A son in Emilys class at school, I wonder if everyone is ok.

So I sit and swing and pray and wait for a return call from my son. The moon slowly crawls across the midnight sky, as the city lights twinkle on. Although its 4 miles away the engine continues its hum, an odd sound to add to the wildlife chorus. Guess I'll sleep with the phone by the bed tonight.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

A Beautiful Day

Today was one of those wonderful days, those days that make you long for spring and at the same time make you realize its just around the corner, those days that ease the pain of an otherwise long winter.

I took the opportunity to ride today, the first time in nearly 4 months. Did I have other opportunities during those months to get out? Yes, but this time I didn't let it pass me by. I dropped Em off at school and headed into the flat lands to do a little reading before hitting the trail. Sitting in the car at the park, I finished the chapter I started last night. Riding is my thinking, praying, and processing time. I missed it over the winter and was glad to be back out on the bike today.

Pretty certain I had lost a lot of ground over the winter I set the bar accordingly. If I go just one mile I'll be happy I told myself....yep, set I the bar darn low! As I hit the trail, I noticed the high level cirrus clouds. Thin and wispy, they fit my mood perfectly, it just makes me happy ride. The world is put on hold for a few hours, I like that. Two miles, no pain, soon eight miles had passed then before I knew it ten miles. I decided to shoot for thirty today...or should I go for fifty? Na, I'll feel it tomorrow, I'll stick to thirty.

As the trail snaked across the land so did my thoughts. My mind drifted from the chapter I just read to praying to random thoughts to asking the Lord questions. A's don't directly cause C's I repeated to myself, A's don't directly cause C's. It was a new thought, the book was insightful. Insight is one thing, but getting it ingrained in you and acting on it another thing entirely. Knowledge without corresponding action profits little. A's, activating events, don't directly cause C's, my feelings and behaviors.... B is my responsibility, the beliefs and values I filter the event through in the milliseconds after it occurs. Why is this so difficult for me to grasp, I ask myself. I don't like it when I can't grasp something right off, and this book proposed a lot of deep thoughts. So theoretically, I push my own buttons, I surmise....a light bulb moment, but not something I wanted to embrace. It meant more change, more growth...a lot more.

The squeaking of the prairie dogs along the trail shifts my thoughts. They bob up and down at the edge of their holes and let out a squeaky cry as I pass by. I've seen the same behavior time and again as a dog approaches them. It's a warning, but I prefer to think of them as cheerleaders, cheering me on toward my goal. One dodges across the path just in front of me. I recall the seven I hit last summer, a record I don't care to break. Further on, a man sits in a lawn chair, binoculars on a tripod and some sort of record book in his lap. I decide he is counting how many times the eagle in the distant tree poops or something equally absurd, and of course he is getting some sort of taxpayer grant to do his research.

Feeling good, I decide to take on the hills. I find that although my legs are cooperative, my lungs are much less so. The burning in my chest grows more painful as I near the top. My sides heave as my lungs grasp for every last molecule of oxygen. I know I'll feel that tomorrow. I crest the top and the view is just as I remember it. The entire front range is laid out before me. I see Pikes Peak shrouded in haze off to the south. After a few basic math calculations I determine that the mountains I see off to the north are in the middle of Wyoming. A thick blanket of snow drapes Longs Peak and Mount Meeker as they majestically tower above the others in the center of my live picture. I use the opportunity to catch my breath as I take in the amazing view right in front of me.

After several minutes I turn and coast back down the hill, passing with ease the historic farm site I peddled though on the way up. As I pass the old rustic barn, I think about last summer when we took Connor and Maddie there for a visit. We walked around the barn peering in the knot holes, the doors and windows locked. Connor suddenly tore around the corner excitedly exclaiming, "Hey guys, I just broke in!" We excitedly followed and respectfully perused at the artifacts without touching.....except for the fake life-sized cow that we all had to take turns milking.

Before I knew it two hours had passed, two loops and I've put in 31 miles. Not a bad day's ride all things considered. And yes, A's don't directly cause C's.....seems I'm pushing my own buttons.

Monday, March 1, 2010

A Calf Named River

So the new bull calf finally has a name. A month and lots of thought, hadn't produced a name that seemed to fit him. After tossing around a few dozen I finally settled on River. Maybe a bit of an odd name for a calf, but I think it fits well. Tossing around the usual cow names, asking Facebook nation, and cracking open the thesaurus yielded no luck. Lots of great ideas, but not just the right name. His long white stockings tempted me to name him Pippi. The long white blaze on his forehead argued for a name like Blaze or Flash. But I wanted a name that would symbolize the year, a name of significance, one that would sum up how I felt about life.

Chance, in the end, was the perfect name for my now one-year-old Jersey Holstein cross heifer. Last year was a year of chances after all. A venture, a gamble, a year of risks, a year of possibilities, a year of the unintended and the unplanned. In early February when I brought her home I had no clue that's what was just around the corner; the year summed up in a word. I would go out on a limb, taking chances never dreamed of. Do or die, unsure of my options, hoping that it paid off, I trusted and jumped in with reckless abandon, both feet first. The chances and risks did pay off, and in ways I never dreamed of or expected.

So, again I find myself faced with the possibility of labeling my year. Ah, to sum it up in a word, River! The word I choose to encapsulate my dreams and aspirations for the year. A word to grab hold of and run with, with unrestrained fervor. A river recharges that which lies in close proximity, a channel through which life giving water flows from one place to another. It implies a full supply even in the midst of a dry spell.

I love what Isaiah 41:18-20 has to say about a river. I will open rivers in high places, and fountains in the midst of the valleys: I will make the wilderness a pool of water, and the dry land springs of water. Behold, I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth; shall ye not know it? I will even make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert. The beast of the field shall honour me, the dragons and the owls: because I give waters in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert, to give drink to my people, my chosen.

Or how about Jeremiah 17:8 For he shall be as a tree planted by the waters, and that spreadeth out her roots by the river, and shall not see when heat cometh, but her leaf shall be green; and shall not be careful in the year of drought, neither shall cease from yielding fruit.

And who can forget John 7:38 He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.

There is a river, the streams whereof shall make glad Psalm 46:4.

I want to live my year not not a stream, a babbling brook, or a creek, but as a river! To purpose my life to be a river to those around me, faith to live a life of abundance in the midst of lack, to bring life to those in the desert, to let God do a new thing in and through me.

River, it turns out, is a pretty good name.

River, just 12 hours old, meeting Chance for the first time.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

The Dawning of a New Season

It's 12 a.m. Lying in bed, the warmth of the electric blanket keeps the coldness of the room at bay, the fire in the wood burner has long since died out, and the chill of the night tries to overtake. The only light comes from the laptop as I clack away at the keys. I type, erase and type again, wondering if any of this will make sense in the morning. The room is pitch black in contrast to the bright monitor, the laptop sitting on the woven tapestry comforter tucked tightly in the dark wooden sleigh bed. I feel warm, safe and settled in for the night. A myriad of thoughts run through my mind as I drift in and out of sleep. The chicks in the adjacent bathroom chirp, bringing me back to consciousness, the faint sounds from the TV upstairs occasionally interrupt as well.

Its been a long winter, but thankfully for many reasons, not as long as past years. I am however feeling ready for spring. Tomato plants in the living room await the warmth of a new season as well as the fifty-five chicks housed in the garage and ten in the bathroom. Hopefully I didn't jump the gun on that. 32 eggs in the incubator and several kindergarten classrooms already lined up to hatch chicks for me, the prospect of a productive flock this year is looking good.

The garden is nearly ready for planting, I wish old man winter would agree. Snow is in the forecast for tomorrow. He holds on with a tight grip, but at some point must let go and allow spring to roll on in. A new as yet unnamed calf in the barnyard, adds to the feeling that spring is not far off.

Steve is still job hunting, another season I am ready to see come to an end. However in spite of all the past 10 months have held, I cannot overlook the faithfulness of my God in it all. He continues to provide in ways that astound me. Ways that catch me off guard. Ways that remind me of His great love for us all. In the small and the big I see His hand, His provision, His grace. Just as winter prepares the way for spring, so this season of our lives is preparing the way for the next. I don't know the whens or hows, but I know that He has great things in store for those who love Him. As I drift off to sweet sleep, I await with great anticipation the next season.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Rocks, Rain and Reflection

A chill hung in the air last night as I busied myself with the evening chores. I pulled the zipper up just a bit more on my chore coat and reflected on the day. After a morning of rock collecting for a friend's backyard pond, I felt a push to get the rest of the laundry done before the impending weather change. It was a windy morning, and I've come to understand that means a change is on the way. I feel a bit of tension and apprehension as I wonder how cold, how windy it will be and how soon the weather will be changing. I savored the sunny warmth of the day, a lingering warmth, a warmth that came from the inside as much as from the sun.

Friday was Mom's birthday, how quickly 72 years has slipped by. We Skyped her and were wishing her a wonderful day as our company arrived to collect rocks. My "Amish friend" Becca referred to him as she glanced out the must have been the black suspenders of his lifting belt against the background of his white shirt. I chuckled at her random thought as I turned back to the stove and my conversation with mom. After a breakfast shared in the warmth and comfort of the kitchen, shared across states, shared amidst laughter and much bantering, I reluctantly bid mom goodbye and shortly thereafter we got to work.

As we hunted rocks, Josh was busy at the wood splitter. A total of five cords amassed, we have two more to go to meet the season's need. Well ahead of where we were last year, I am pleased with his hard work. The day was off to a good start.

Two hours later we had a truck and trailer loaded with stratified moss rock and decomposing pink granite, each piece picked with the project in mind. The practical, no-nonsense side of me hoped it was enough for the project, while the light-hearted, adventurous side enjoyed the morning's excursion and hoped that maybe we'd have to collect rocks just one more time.

Our friend bid farewell with iced coffee and a fresh lemon poppy seed muffin in hand. Sad to see our time come to an end, I turned my attention to the tasks of the day. It was still early, giving me sufficient time to get 6 loads washed and on the line. I love looking up the hill to the north of the house and watching the laundry wave on the line. The wind made quick work of drying it all and I had it folded and hung before the afternoon was over. Two years without, I have yet to miss my dryer.

I fumbled in the dark as I locked up the calves and walked back toward the light of the house. The clacking of the boots against my pant legs brought my mind back to the present. Was all taken care of before the rain set in? I could smell it in the air and knew by morning everything left out would be wet. After a quick assessment, I resigned myself to being ok with things and opened the sliding door. The warmth of the house enveloped me as I slipped off my coat and boots. A piece of rhubarb cake called my name. I soon found myself in bed drifting off to sleep, it had been a great day, a day of celebration, a day of friendship, a day full of accomplishment. I was ready for the rain and what the morning would hold.

Josh hard at work splitting firewood.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

A new Post

Could it be so? A new blog mother will fall off her chair when she sees I've posted. Won't you mom? :)

So well, I've had a lot on my plate this year and just had to drop the blogging for a season. Not sure I'm back yet, but the chill in the fall air just put that old blogging feeling in me.

The calves have grown a bunch this summer. Ben is a good 700 lbs or so and Jerry is not far behind him, being a mere 4 inches shorter. Chance is so sweet and adorable, I can't wait till we have our own milk cow. I know it's a good 2 years off still, but I can see it coming to pass after 23 years of waiting. Ben will go in the freezer next summer or fall. I'm trying hard to not get attached, so far so good.

Thanks to Craigslist, I've added some Cuckoo Marans to the flock. They lay dark chocolate brown eggs. I've only got 3 roosters, but plan to breed them with my Araucanas till eventually I have hens that are predominately Marans as well. I've had my heart set on getting some Copper Marans. They are beautiful, but more rare, I'll settle for the Cuckoo's for now.

I've taken up cycling again this summer. When we lived in Tulsa I rode quite a bit along the Arkansas River trail, but have taken it to the next level here. I got my time for the 100 mile ride down to 5 hrs and 16 minutes...not too bad for an old lady. My favorite part of riding is smoking past the 20, 30 and 40 year old guys...I love it! I pretty much always want to shout out that they just got smoked by a old one at that! But I keep that to myself and just get a nice smile out of it. I swear it's like a shark after blood, I just can't help myself when I see a rider in the distance. It becomes my life mission to smoke em, which usually isn't too hard. Last Monday, even with my banged up leg, I had a guy chase after me once I blew past him but he finally gave up after about 5 miles of trying to catch up...the ultimate compliment! I did ride along side him for a time and chat before I left him in the least I was nice about it.

I've been putting in around 250 miles a week most of the summer and have dropped some weight as a result. I have taken a few spills now and then and am currently recovering from a doozy! No broken bones, just some really good road rash and a black eye. But, mostly my pride was dented...I stopped traffic it was so bad...way embarrassing!

Steve is still job hunting. I'm hoping he finds something soon. We are doing okay for now and have had a great time reconnecting after his hundred plus trips to China, Canada, and miscellaneous states over the past 4 or 5 years. Its been really nice to get to know him again....turns out he is a nice guy, who knew? lol. It's amazing how God works in the tough times. We've had the opportunity to work on and strengthen our marriage during his down time, I wouldn't trade that for anything...its been a very good summer.

God has changed some things in a major way in our lives this year. Bigger changes than we've experienced in a really long time. Stretching is not always fun, but its so good to know we are growing in the things God has for us and moving in a direction that puts us on track to do and be who he has designed us from before the foundation of the world to walk in and become. And, He has used some really amazing people to make that in particular I am extremely grateful for...if you ever read this Bill....thanks a million, we can never repay you for your kindness. I thank God for you and Pam and love you for showing me the love of God as you've laid your life down to help me go to the next level. You are a rare person in this journey called life and I am privileged to call you friend.

So, maybe It will be the start of blogging again for me...but don't hold your breath. I've got chickens to butcher, fences to mend, trails to conquer and myself to challenge. But I hope to do a bit of reconnecting with all of you once again as well. Thanks for reading. I hope to update you a bit more often now that fall is in the air.