Challenge #6, The Perfect View

Today’s challenge finds me describing what is outside my kitchen window.

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It is a chilly damp day, here in Ohio. We are currently in that “in between” time. Winter is pretty much over, but Spring has not yet shown up. We are in the gray time of the year. The grass is brown and dull, the sky is the color of slate, with a few breaks, where blue sky and sunshine leaks through. My gravel driveway has multiple mud puddles, that the dogs always seem to find. Across the road, and past my mailbox, I see some of the llamas grazing in the wet field. The trees, still barren and leafless, stretch their limbs into the sky, seemingly to scratch at the gray that surrounds them. They wait impatiently for new life. Beyond the grouping of trees, I see our farmer neighbor’s wetland lake. A low spot in his field has become home to wild ducks, geese, and frogs. I enjoy the orchestrated sounds of nature that I am able to hear each day.

What is outside your kitchen window?

Challenge #2 Emotion Roulette

The other night I was walking back to the house from the barn. I do some of my best thinking while doing my chores. To be honest, I don’t really consider feeding the animals, and the trek to the barn a chore. It is my labor of love. There is something to be said for working out life’s problems while working. There has been many an evening when the horse calmly listens to me as I tell her of my attempts to solve the world’s problems by bedtime. 102_4140

 

I am happy and content with my life in the country. I like having land, I love all my animals, and the peace of living in quiet spaces and wide open places. It never gets old for me. I am grateful to have this opportunity. This chance I’ve been given, to live on this piece of land in rural Ohio, makes me genuinely happy.

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My life has taken unexpected twists and turns over the years. I never in a million years would have thought I’d end up here. In this spot. In this state. At this time.

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But, I’m so glad things worked out this way.

October, How I Love Thee…

Oh, October! How I love thee. Let me count the ways…

1. A cool morning breeze, that begs me to wear a sweater.

2. Low hanging gray clouds, allowing only a peek of blue underneath.

3. Pumpkins at the grocery store, pumpkins at roadside stands, pumpkins at the Farmer’s Market.

4. Spiced coffee and pumpkin flavored muffins.

5. Cozy blankets to snuggle in.

6. Warm candles in apple, pumpkin, and cinnamon scents.

7. Sweaters and fluffy socks, and boots.

8. Fall festivals and harvest time and corn shocks and drives on the country back roads.

9. Brilliant colors of yellow, orange and red.

10. And football.

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All Of My Days

Time has a way of sneaking up on a person. Do you, too, feel the sands of time slipping through your fingers?  The other day a friend mentioned that she could not believe how in a few short years she will be celebrating her fiftieth birthday. I can relate. I have young adult children—young ADULT, for cryin’ out loud! Next month my son will be going back to college for his sophomore year. I was starting my sophomore year of college in 1987. Weren’t the ’80’s, just the other day? Sigh…….I’m feeling a little old today.

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The months slip by and the seasons come and go. Today, on my way back from the mailbox, I looked up at the gray sky, felt the unseasonably cool temperatures, and realized just a mere three months from today we will be smack dab in the middle of Fall! You know, brightly colored leaves, pumpkin flavored everything, and football games. From there, it is a short and fast trip to Christmas. Then the year is over.

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Holding on to the moments, by letting go of time……..appreciating the memories and not worrying about the future. Resting in the One who already knows all of my days.
Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. Psalm 139:16

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The Ugly Is Beautiful

Another day of gray smudged sky and cooler temperatures. On my way back across the yard I noticed a single turkey vulture flying in slow loops over the llama field across the road. He didn’t appear to be looking at anything in particular, but instead was enjoying the ride on the cool morning breeze. Although turkey vultures are not attractive birds, this one looked almost majestic as he glided over the farm fields. I sometimes wonder what it would be like to have the ability to fly and glide on the wind.

A couple of weeks ago I was taken aback by a large group of vultures sitting on a tall piece of dead tree on the edge of the pasture. There were about eight or so vultures sitting on the branches and one sitting on the top of the old tree. It resembled a vulture totem pole. They were perched on the branches, but had their wings out spread…a little unsettling to happen upon. A few weeks earlier, i had seen what I will assume is the same group of birds, sitting on the peak of the barn roof…lined up in a row. Just watching. They were probably taking a rest or maybe meeting up with friends to discuss plans for later on in the day.

Although, turkey vultures are not very attractive birds, they are important in the big scheme of things. They are wonderful scavengers, and play a necessary role in nature.

Taking the time to stop and watch the vulture fly in lazy loops in the late morning sky was nice. Often times the simple, ordinary, mundane things of life get overlooked, but if we take the time to stop and notice even the smallest things—we are left in awe of the wonder of it all. Knowing that even the ugly can be beautiful.

 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Matthew 6:26 NIV

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Slowing Down

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The sky loomed dark on the horizon when I went out to feed the animals. It was going to rain, and I hoped I could get back from the barn before the rain started. The air was moist and a cool breeze was blowing. It felt wonderful against my warm skin. I do not enjoy the uncomfortable heat and humidity, it is for those reasons that I tend to not like summer very much. On my walk across the yard I allowed my gaze to rest on the newly sprouting corn, the stalks and leaves covering the field with vibrant green. The sky was smeared in gray all the way to where it touched the horizon. I saw (and heard) the killdeer letting me know that I was intruding on their space. Jack, one of our male barn cats, followed along with me, as did the dogs. The raindrops started to lightly splatter to the ground. I imagined the countryside scene on this rainy morning looked a lot like a scene from an Old English storybook. I’ve never been to England, but this is what I see in my mind’s eye. I think I might have read too much Beatrix Potter as a child.

Life seems to have slowed down a bit on this late June morning. I don’t have anything pressing for my schedule, aside from needing to finish up some necessary paperwork. I like days like this. Quiet and peaceful with time to reflect. God is so good, and there is so much to be thankful for.

Philippians 4:8-9   Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.  What you have learned and  received and heard and seen  in me—practice these things, and  the God of peace will be with you.

Green Acres Is The Place For Me!

Today is a day to smile…or even laugh out loud. I am not one to take myself too seriously, and also am not above sharing some of my own exploits with my friends in the blog-o-sphere to allow you a chuckle, guffaw, or even…a snort. Just sayin’.

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“Green Acres is the place to be.

Farm livin’ is the life for me. 

Land spreadin’ out so far and wide 

Keep Manhattan, just give me that countryside.”
Green Acres Lyrics by Vic Mizzy

Some of my readers might be old enough to remember the TV show, Green Acres…or at least reruns of it. Or not. Regardless of whether you remember it, it was a funny TV show from the late ’60’s and early 70’s that aired on CBS. It was about a couple that moved from the city to the country.

Sometimes, when I am out feeding the chickens, or making my way to the barn to let the horse out into the pasture, or chasing the dogs around the yard, I “hear” the Green Acres theme song running through my head.

Just so you know, country life is not for wimps. Seriously. Today I am going to share some of the potential disasters as well as the gems of country living, just in case you are thinking about making the trek to the country. It is better to be informed.

Ten Things You Need To Know Before Making The Country Your Home:

1. Animals are messy and they poop a lot. And they don’t clean up their own poop. That is left up to you. Mucking out a stall, or cleaning out a chicken coop is your new domain. Own it. Make sure you have good boots, I speak from experience.

2. Chickens can be very entertaining to watch, almost relaxing if you catch them on a good day, OR it can be like all Hades has broken loose and Armageddon is upon us. Don’t be fooled, people. Chickens can be mean….to each other….and to you! The term “hen pecked” is real.

3. The Tractor Supply Company will become one of your all time favorite stores. You will find yourself pulling into TSC, when you are in town. It doesn’t matter whether you actually need anything or not…you go in, just to look around….or see the new baby chicks…or talk with the traveling vet….or maybe to price the new windmill lawn ornament. Don’t judge.

4. You will find yourself perusing Amazon for things like chicken “saddles”. Yes, they are a thing. No, one doesn’t ride a chicken….they are cute little “aprons” that protect the hens from the over eager rooster. Don’t ask questions.

5. You will become mesmerized by wide open spaces, green pastures, blue sky and quiet back roads. You will swear that no one has better sunrises or sunsets than you do. Don’t be embarrassed if you happen to stand in your side yard admiring the sun as it sinks into the horizon amidst blazing purples, pinks, and oranges… with your mouth hanging open in awe. Not that I’ve done that or anything.

6. There is nothing like a clear night in the country. Star gazing will become an addiction. You can’t see the stars in the city. You just can’t. Out in the country the stars shimmer like a million diamonds in an ink black sky. The fact that it is pitch black outside with not a street light in sight, is fine….just be aware that there are lots of animals that are nocturnal…um….in case you happen to run into one accidentally.

7. If you are truly in the country, you will probably be miles and miles away from everything. No “quick trips” to the grocery store, Wal-mart, the pharmacy, or a clothing store. Trips into town are usually planned, and if you forget to get something you are just out of luck. I do miss having a plethora of restaurants to choose from, all within 10 minutes of my house. Oh, well…..

8. During the cold weather months, the snow plow becomes a “thing”. Realize that your mailbox will most assuredly become a casualty of the plow. Most country mailboxes look like they survived a war, unless you are one of those people that have warm weather mailboxes and cold weather mailboxes….and you switch them out for the season. Don’t laugh, this happens.

9. Realize that any time you grill out on your porch or deck, will be the time that the farmer who lives behind you decides to spread manure. It is what it is. Stinky. Enjoy grilling out anyway. You will get used to the country “aroma”.

10. Don’t freak out if you see livestock in your front yard, munching on your grass. They don’t get boundaries…and, the grass truly is greener on the other side. Think of it as them doing their part to keep your large front yard mowed.

If none of these 10 things have deterred you, than maybe you should think about finding your own “Green Acres”. You can’t beat life out here in the country.

Each One Is Unique

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The snow is coming down, leaving my front yard looking like the inside of a snow globe. The sky is filled with fluffy flakes that stick to my coat, my hat, the dogs’ fur, as we walk across the yard. On afternoons like this, it is difficult to see where the ground stops and the sky begins. Everything is enveloped in white.

I love watching it snow. To me it is peaceful, and quiet.

It is mesmerizing to stand in the middle of the yard and tilt my face to the sky as the flakes swirl all around me.

Each one of those flakes is different. Unique. Special.

Amazing, really.

Not so different from each of us.

Created in the image of God.

Uniquely and wonderfully made.

Known.

Loved.

I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.             Psalm 139:14 ESV

He gives snow like wool; he scatters frost like ashes. Psalm 147:16 ESV

His Name Is Mitford

Our house is a zoo. My husband calls me “Dr. Dolittle”. It is true we have a lot of animals on our 12 acre property. (Ace, our senior dog, Lonnie our 9 yr. old terrier mix, Rocky our 2 year old Boxer mix and now Mitford, the puppy. We also have 2 indoor cats, and 4 more outside cats that are the best mousers ever. All but one of the cats, was either dumped on us, out here in the country, or was a stray left to wander, before they met us. We have 8 hens who give fresh eggs, 1 rooster, and a horse named Jazz, who is a retired barrel racer.) I am grateful for the land that allows us to have our animals. Yes, they are a lot of work, and time….but, worth it to me. Mitford is a ten week old puppy. I named him after the town in my favorite book series by Jan Karon. Mitford is one of the six offspring of our Scotch Collie, Ace and his “girlfriend” and next door neighbor, Sophia. Ace and Sophia made beautiful babies, even though it wasn’t a planned event. So, Mitford has one blue eye and one brown eye, which gives him a unique look. He has his mama’s big ears and super soft fur and, his dad’s huge paws, and coloring. I’m guessing that when he is fully grown he might weigh in at, at least sixty pounds.

Since Mitford is still not house trained he has to be walked every hour, and even then he has some accidents….but, he is getting better. Luckily for us, we have radiant heat, in our colored concrete floors. (We decided that concrete floors are different, but kind of fun to have.) The floors aren’t very forgiving when I drop a dish, but they are easy to keep clean. So, anyway, back to my story….. Mitford’s bathroom breaks have me living my life in one hour increments right now. At first, I was like, “This is going to take forever”, and I wanted him to hurry up and be done. Now, I am learning to slow down and enjoy the moments of walking around the property. Mitford and his schedule are forcing me to slow down and appreciate. We just came in from a walk and I took the time to see the heavy frost on the grass and roof tops. The sky appeared to have a blue haze over it, a haze the exact color of cold. It is sort of blue-gray. I pulled the zipper up farther on my coat and tugged my hat down lower over my ears.

So many times, I let the tensions of the day get to me, forgetting to slow down and actually enjoy the moments. Thanks to a little fluffy puppy, who is helping me to remember that all the moments are precious.

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