Tuesday, January 21, 2014

The Chill of Winter
      How very quickly the days have passed since my last writing here! The warm summer days turned to fall and it seemed the frigid blast of winter hit with a vengeance. Here in Kentucky we have experienced far more cold weather than in many, many years. There have been quite a few days with temperatures in the twenties, teens, and even single digits. As I sit today looking out the window at the lightly falling snow being whirled about by bitter winds, I find myself looking over the past few months and ahead to this still fresh new year.
     Several last goodbyes were said to quite a few family and friends during the last months of 2013. Within a two month period I lost a dear friend and two aunts along with a dear sister-in-law. I am so thankful I had a time of special visiting with each aunt and was able to be with my sister-in-law during her last night and during her passing. Life changes so swiftly, I am ever reminded of the importance to cherish time spent with family and friends.
     Looking ahead in anticipation of the possibilities and challenges of 2014 I am excited. Already I have begun purchasing seed for my garden and am planning its layout on paper. I suppose the thoughts of gentle Spring breezes and warm, sunny days help me endure these bitterly cold times. Even during the past December we enjoyed fresh lettuce, kale and carrots from last years garden. I can hardly wait to begin planting and seeing the little green sprouts bursting through the soil.
     Tragedy struck my little flock of chickens last fall when a neighbors dogs attacked them in our yard. We lost one hen and our last guinea. During the early part of fall we had seen the benefits of even the one guinea as the tick population seemed to disappear around our place. Our three remaining hens have thrived and two are faithful to provide an egg each day. I suppose to many enjoyment in such a small thing might seem silly, yet I do take pleasure in feeding and watching the behavior of my chickens. I also like the help they provide for our breakfasts. When the weather warms a bit I will add a few more hens, maybe a rooster and get a couple more guineas and we will build a larger fenced area for them all. I so wish we could allow them to free range over our six acres but with wandering pit bulls that is no longer a good idea.

     Today I realize how greatly blessed I am in life. Oh, I may now have an expensive home or car or lots of money but what I do have if far more valuable. I have a husband, children, and grandchildren who love me and put up with me in all my "unique" ways. I have many dear friends, some that I know would show up any time I called with a need. I have a close knit church family and a church that I can freely attend and be encouraged to grow spiritually. Most importantly of all, I have a Heavenly Father who loves and accepts me as I am and patiently guides me along this path called life. He is ever faithful to pick me up when I fall and lead me when it seems I can't find my way. He has seen fit to meet my needs throughout my life and has never turned his back on me, even at times when I turned mine on him. Yes, I am most blessed and look forward to all 2014 has in store. I truly hope each one who may read this post will look around and see all the good and cherish each day.


Monday, July 29, 2013

Summer Days

     All the hours of garden preparation and planting in the spring are paying off. It has been great being able to enjoy fresh lettuce blends, cucumbers, peppers, and tomatoes from our garden. This has been a strange year in regards to weather here in KY. All spring and much of summer temperatures alternated between hot and cold. This morning it was 55 degrees, which for July is quite chilly, yet very comfortable for sleeping. I believe these fluctuations have caused some slow growth for my garden, which has not produced near as well as I would like. Of coarse, this is our first spring/summer on this property and I had to begin garden beds without having them prepared during the winter as I would have liked. Hopefully next spring after this years garden beds have been layered with compost, leaves and manure and had time to build rich soil I will have not only less work in preparation but a much better yield.

    Work on our cabin has progressed slowly but we hope to be moved in before winter. Finishing work on the cabin has had to take a backseat to work demands, serious illness in our extended family and the persistent aches and pains that seek to remind us of our advancing age. I often need to remind myself that family and relationships are far more important than progress on any project. The grandchildren are growing up quickly and I have tried to be diligent this summer to spend some one to one time with as many of them as I can. That has proved to produce some very enjoyable times with several of them. I have enjoyed dining out at each child's choice location, including Burger King where Matthew, age 6, wore his crown proudly. We have played in the park, had sleepovers, enjoyed movies and the girls and I even took in several thrift stores and garage sales. I expect I will have some granddaughters who are thrifty shoppers indeed. I want to build as many happy memories for them to be able to look back on someday with a smile, after I am long gone from this life.

    The end of May I took a trip to the beautiful mountains of North Carolina to see one of my grandsons graduate from high school. I love the mountains with their awesome views. Just spending a few days there and being able to visit with several of my older grandsons who live there was such a treat. Later, in June, I took a short trip back to my hometown in Tennessee. It was a bittersweet time as I visited with an aging aunt whose health is quite fragile. I have so many happy memories of times spent at her home or going places with her that are special to my heart. Each time I visit with her and my uncle I leave wondering if it will be the last time I see them. I am brought face to face with the brevity of life and realize that each family member or dear friend that passes from this life causes an empty spot in my own life.
    It is a strange feeling I believe when you have lived long enough to realize that likely your life is well over half over. I find myself thinking back over my many years and all the places and people that have been a part of my life. I so hope I have left more good impressions than bad on those I have known. This past Sunday in church our minister spoke of "finishing well" in life. I realize, more than ever, how important it is to hold dear every day I am given to have a positive effect on those I come in contact with and on the world around me. How easy it is to get caught up in all the every day stresses and circumstances of life and miss out on opportunities to make an impact for good in another's life and on my surroundings. May each of us seize each moment in time that gives us a chance to make a difference in someone's life.

    A few new additions have been made here on our little "homestead". This summer I bought four Barred Rock chicks and two guinea keats. We lost one of the guineas, which was our smallest, not really knowing why it died. All the others are thriving. It has been fun to watch their behavior. The grand kids enjoy digging worms to feed them and watching as they selfishly fight over which one gets the most treats. We have had many ticks here this spring and summer and have been told by many that having guineas will rid us of that problem. Little "Ginny" is a bit small yet to make a difference this season but hopefully next year she will. I look forward to the hens getting old enough to provide fresh eggs. I intend to add a rooster soon and maybe next spring we will have some baby chicks as well.
    Life is good and though my "To Do List" is far too long I find encouragement each time I am able to cross off an item. As I sit looking out my window I enjoy the view and am thankful for the path I am on. What a walk it has been!


Sunday, April 28, 2013

Beautiful Spring!

     It seems that rain is becoming quite routine this spring. As I look back at earlier blogs written this year each has been written amidst rainy, snowy or otherwise gloomy weather. Though I would love to write today while looking out at blue, sunny skies that is not to be. It has been another rainy, cloudy day though earlier in the day there were some brief moments of sunshine. On a happy note though Spring has made it's arrival and I am enjoying all its beauty. First the forsythias and daffodils announced the season with their beautiful yellow blooms. I really think one could never have too many of them growing! A bit later, a little slow arriving it seemed, came the redbuds. These are my all time favorite and seem to awake my being to the wonderful season of new life.

     The past two weeks along with the rain and cool temperatures, dipping to the thirties some nights, the dogwood blossoms arrived. Of coarse! that's why it's been so cold, another "Dogwood Winter". We did manage to get the grass mowed between rains. The fresh green lawn along with all the new green leaves on the trees and the various colors of blooming flowers and trees just causes me once again to soak in all the wondrous beauty around me. How very thankful I am to live in an area that offers such pronounced changes of season.

     Try as I will I can never resist early planting. As a result I usually lose a few plants. This never seems to deter me though and as I am enjoying fresh lettuce blends from my garden the extra work is so worth it. I am still learning so much about gardening and using newer methods such as raised beds and lasagna gardens. I have read so much and created a little gardening notebook for reference as well as plundering Pinterest for new ideas. It would seem every available space in my home is filled with seedlings such as yellow squash, zucchini, watermelon, cantaloupe, cucumber and numerous herbs. The little plants are thriving and I am anxious for the next bout of warm days so I can get them planted outside and watch them grow. Then I will enjoy the fruits of my labor as I serve lots of fresh salads and fresh veggies throughout summer. Of coarse all that depends on whether I manage to prevent our neighborhood bunnies and deer from harvesting them first.
     This Spring holds many new challenges and adventures. I am excited. In a couple of weeks we will begin work on our little cabin. It seems so long in the planning stage, I can hardly wait! The past few years have been spent downsizing, with lots more to complete. I so look forward to living in a small cabin, simple in design and allowing for time to enjoy the simple pleasures of life. Our youngest grandchild recently moved about ten minutes from us and we also have another grandbaby due to arrive in June. Days spend in the yard with little ones playing games, planting flowers and gathering veggies from the garden are precious moments to me. I'm sure many would beg to differ with me on this but I would not trade these sweet times of enjoying nature and relaxing in the peaceful surroundings of these Kentucky hills for life in any city on the planet.
     This path of mine is perfect for me. And so on I will walk, taking the time to enjoy sunrises, sunsets, the blooming of my roses and yes, even the spring rain. Seize every moment and embrace family and friends. This life is short, let's make it count.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

While Waiting For Spring

     It is March 27th as I look out at the partly cloudy sky here in Kentucky. In February I eased my severe bout of "cabin fever" by reminding myself that very soon it would be March and Spring would be here. Well... now near end of March the "fever" lingers still. I think we've had more snow during March than during the whole winter season. Now granted we've had no more than an inch at a time, still the weather has been cold, cloudy and wet. I am so very ready for warm sunshine and blooming flowers to brighten the landscape here.
     As I have tried to use these days of dreary weather in a positive way time has been taken to do some reading, a hobby I love. Last week a friend at the library suggested a book, which I reluctantly checked out. The title," The Insanity of God" didn't really appeal to me at all. In fact I thought, what a strange title. The book has proved to be one of the best I've read in a very long time.

     The story begins with a young man in rural Kentucky, which immediately appealed to me since I live in just such a place myself. Nik, the fellow in the story is preparing to graduate high school and plans to attend the University of Kentucky to study veterinary medicine. A short time before graduation Nik's father finds a job for him which will help with school expenses. During the summer the young man encounters a change that will impact his life forever.
     If you are happy with "religions" status quo believe me, this book is not for you. If however, you sense that there must be something more, I can assure you this book will have a positive impact on your life as well. Nik Ripken, not the writers real name, begins his walk of faith in simplicity. Almost twenty years later he finds himself discouraged and with some seemingly hard questions for God. The answers to his questions come only after he travels around the globe and meets with many people who have powerful stories to tell. They also have some questions for him. I challenge you to read this account in which names and places have been changed, truly to protect the innocent.
     May you be blessed on your path as I have been while reading this story.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Rainy Days and Waiting

    Today is a very cloudy, rainy day here in Kentucky, yet I find myself feeling quite sunny. It has been so very many months since I have had a chance to make my way to my Blog site and write. As I look back over all these months I am once again in awe at all the changes that have taken place in my life. So many new, wonderful opportunities have presented themselves. I won't go into all that today. Instead just a little "catch up".
    In my last post I shared about our two Pygmy goats. After all the preparation for them and trying to get them settled at our place life took a sudden turn. My daughter and her family bought a home almost an hour away. This meant no regular visits from the children to play with the goats. I tried to fill in but realized trying to keep those little darlings in their pen was just more than this Grandma cared to keep up with. I began to look for another home for them. I was so glad to find a family with a farm and other goats as well that were happy to have them. It helped that we knew this family and were sure the goats would be well taken care of.
    When two of our children had bought homes quite a driving distance away we began to question if it might be wise to look for a place closer to our family which would allow for more visiting and for saving quite a bit on gas. I admit in many ways I did not like the idea of moving, yet again. I loved our woods, little pond, small community with lots of Amish neighbors and that we had begun to build a cabin there with a great view. I did like the thoughts of being closer to the grandchildren though.
    So we began the search. Very soon we found a couple of acres bordered by a nice creek and within a few miles of several of the grandchildren. The downside was it being open to a fairly busy state road and very low lying and apt to flooding. The price was great but my "hubby" was not sold on it. I am very thankful today for his reservations. We happened to learn, through an old schoolmate of my hubby's, about a fellow who owned several parcels of land in an area central to much of our family. In no time we were being shown these various tracts of land and found one that seemed to meet most of both our requirements. We just needed to sell our other place now to make it all work. Within two-three weeks we had found the new land and had cash in hand from the sale of our place. It is amazing to see how quickly God can change things around.
   So once again I write from a different place. We now live on six acres that is mostly cleared and gently rolling but still have a couple acres of woodland with lots of wildlife. One of our first times here a red fox ran across what is now our yard. There are lots of deer tracks and hopefully this fall one of them will make its way to my freezer. We have found a spring in the woods below our home site and although there is no pond we have lots of room and could build one. There is lots of room gardening and a few raised beds are in place and my strawberry patch had been transplanted here. We had sold our motorhome last year and since there was no house on our land that was a small problem. Well not so small actually. We were however able to find another that has been quite comfortable for the two of us these winter months. Another winter with very little cleaning!
    One additional bonus to this new bit of land is that it is located less than five miles from my best friend for the past almost thirty years. I would have never imagined living so close. Where before we often struggled to fit a visit for lunch in every few months now we are able to visit most every week and attend our grandchildren's ballgames and such together at times. I have always treasured the gift of a good friend and this has been a "gift" quite unexpected but much enjoyed.
    As we discuss plans for beginning to build, again, I find myself getting restless. Patience, alas is not one of my virtues. As we wait for better weather and try to decide just what will best suit us both I must direct my energy in some way. Since I am also impatiently awaiting spring I decided to get busy starting seedlings. Yesterday I started seeds for over a hundred plants. Hopefully, by planting time I will have lots of tomatoes, peppers, melons, squash, various herbs and lots of flowers ready to put in our garden. I pray for a good growing season this year in order to have lots of fresh produce not only for us but to share with family and friends.
    Fueled once again by the approach of the Spring season I will make another attempt to be more consistent with my blogging. I will end today with a bit of a poem I read earlier today.
          His grace is great enough to meet the great things---
             The crashing waves that overwhelm the soul,
          The roaring winds that leave us stunned and breathless,
             The sudden storms beyond our life's control.

          His grace is great enough to meet the small things---
             The little pin-prick troubles that annoy,
          The insect worries, buzzing and persistent,
             The squeaking wheels that grate upon our joy.
                                                                 Annie Johnson Flint


Sunday, June 10, 2012

A Place of Safety

   This week my husband and I got busy working on a fence. For quite some time we have discussed buying a few goats to help with clearing some underbrush and vines on our property. Last week we got a call from a lady I’d met a couple of years ago. She told me a mutual friend had mentioned to her we were interested in some goats and that she had two for sale. After a brief conversation it was decided that it would be best to come see them first. Upon visiting and seeing the two young does we told her we wanted them.

For the following week plans set into motion for a new home for the little goats. We chose a location that already had a small structure which we could convert to a shelter. We knew we would need a tall fence in order to keep them in. We did not want to invest a great deal of money in case we decide we don’t want to keep them. Also, since we had only a short time to prepare for them the fence would need to go up quickly. We bought two loads of slab lumber from a nearby sawmill, mostly cedar. We already had a lot of cedar posts from trees that had been cleared for our electric line to be installed.
   At last the fence was completed along with a gate that hubby agreed to let me design and build…since I really wanted to help with the construction. I might add that my design had the gate hung backwards actually. I liked the look of the cedar and wanted the wood grain to show when I went to the gate. Yes, I know quite silly. Yet, my sweet husband went along with my idea. The pen for them has quite the “rag-tag” appearance but we were proud to have it finished in time and with little expense. Later we plan to construct a larger pen for them.
   The next day we drove back to the lady’s farm to pick up our purchase. She had them in a small pen so they could be easily caught for transport. Did I mention these goats are not gentle? The lady’s son was present and caught them and loaded them for us and away we went. When we got back to our place I went and opened the gate to their pen while hubby caught them and carried them to their new home. Needless to say the poor things were terrified after all the trauma of being moved. This situation was not at all helped by our 88lb. Black Lab “Dixie” who saw them as a threat to “her” territory, I suppose. She barked loudly and ran to their fence, which in turn had them running from one end of the pen to the other, as if looking for a way out. After we got Dixie away from the fence they finally settled down in a far corner.
   On the following afternoon four of our grandchildren came over to see the new “family members” which had been named “Cream & Sugar” because of their color. We all discussed how terribly afraid they were because they are in a strange place with people they are not familiar with and a huge dog they probably see as a predator. The children did so well remaining calm and keeping their voices down. They sat down inside the goat’s pen in order to seem less threatening. They watched the goats and the goats watched them. All was well in the safe confines of the pen.

   Suddenly, Dixie came running toward the pen, barking! All sense of calm quickly vanished. Both goats sprang into action and ran, as it were, for their lives. Sugar, already deemed to be the more adventuresome of the two, sped right past the startled children who were still sitting on the ground. All at once that little goat came to the part of the wall where the gate was, and that connected to their shelter building. Like a flash those little hooves ran right up the side of the fence, up onto the roof and she jumped to the ground and ran like lightening. It was all I could do to grab and hold our dog back. In an instant the goat was out of sight. We had the children come out from the pen while we tried to figure just what to do. The only one of us that possibly could have run fast enough to catch the goat, if we could find it, was Dixie… and I doubt she could have.
   Within a few minutes Cream, the goat sibling left behind began to bleat and a pitiful sound it was. We were all still standing around still half in shock at what we’d just observed. Just as suddenly as she had made her exit Sugar reappeared. She sped toward the pen and took a giant leap, landing back on the roof then with another leap wound up right back in the pen from which she had just escaped. The whole family roared in laughter, well except Dixie, which I still held tightly. I think she was even in shock. She made no further attempt to chase the poor frightened goats.
   After the children had gone home I got to thinking how very much the behavior of these little goats compares to my own at times. Sometimes I find myself feeling “pinned in” by circumstances. I get uncomfortable and rather than being still and calmly seeking what the Lord would have me learn from the experience, I “bolt”. I begin to look for a way out or a place I can hide rather that face whatever the situation is. I’m sure I have missed many blessings in my life by taking thoughtless control rather than being content and trusting the Lord to protect and provide for me right where I was.
   My hubby quickly got busy and built the fence a bit taller, hopefully enough to prevent a reoccurance of the events earlier today. I hope the goats have realized that the open area outside their pen feels even less safe, however I doubt it.
      This day is coming to a close and it is now dark outside. The goats are safe and secure in their pen with a nice bed of straw inside their shelter. Each day they will become more adjusted to our family, even Dixie. As I sit here comfortable and safe as well, I am happy the Lord allowed me to think of the analogy and to be reminded He has a path for me and that I need to trust that He will always care for me.              

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Blackberry Winter

     It is a good thing I am not depending on blogging to keep me fed, or I would be pretty hungry right now. My intentions to "get back at it"were good yet I find myself well into 2012 as I write my first blog for this year. Here in Kentucky we hardly had Winter and jumped right into Spring very early. I am so glad I took the time to plant bulbs at several different locations here on our new property last Fall. This Spring I have so enjoyed seeing all the Daffodils, Tulips and the Crocus peeking through the soil and later blooming so beautifully. Our place also has many, many Red Bud and Dogwood trees so this has been one of the most enjoyable Springs ever as I have taken the time just to soak in all the beauty. I am ever thankful to the Creator who has provided the lovely scenes of nature for us to enjoy.
     This year I started doing raised bed gardening, with help from my hubby, who built the beds. I love having fresh healthy veggies and  saving so much on food costs by growing my own. Yet, all the bending and weeding required with a regular garden just take more physically than I have ability to give these days. After doing some research in books on gardening and through internet search my first raised bed was started in March. I am happy to report it has been a success, so far. I have snow peas about ready to bloom, and lettuce, spinach, cauliflower, broccoli and green onions all preparing to be enjoyed in my salad bowl. It was a bit of work initally constructing the bed, working the soil beneath it and then filling it with rich topsoil and compost but it has already yielded dividends. I have pulled only 4 or 5 tiny weeds and the garden looks so neat and healthy.

     March was unusually warm this year many days in the 60's and 70's. By the first part of April the temperatures had soared into the 80's.  Last week the temperatures began to come down a bit and now have dropped into the low 30's! So the windows are closed again and the heat has been turned back on. As we took a stroll April 8th. we noticed that the blackberries are starting to bloom, a bit early it seems. Seeing those blooms, along with the drop in temperature, brought back memories of my dad telling me  it was "Blackberry Winter" when the weather would get cold about the time they bloomed in the spring. He said if I would watch the same thing happens every year. I must admit it does seem to happen that way. For sure this year that has been the case. I just hope all these blooms provide lots of delicious berries in a few weeks, yum. Looking forward to some Blackberry Cobbler.
     As soon as this spurt of cold weather passes I will forge ahead to the planting of my second garden bed, already built and hopefully get even another constructed and planted, too. I have seedlings started already of green pepper, yellow squash, zucchini, cucumbers, watermelon, tomatoes and several herbs to season them with. A small strawberry patch will be planted, too. As you may have gathered I am excited about Spring and all the new life it brings.
     With my thoughts on planting I am reminded of how God has planted each of us here in this garden "Earth". In order for us to grow spiritually and be fruitful for him we must have tilled soil (a receptive spirit), have soil that is kept moist (regular time in God's Word),  provide lots of sunlight (fellowship with Christ, or Sonlight), and keep the weeds pulled (remove things from our life that hinder our Spiritual growth). As with a vegetable garden, this all requires much diligence. We must be aware that there are times of "spiritual drought" and try as one might those "weeds" do appear. However, we have the promise in Philippians 1:6, "Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ." The Lord does not give up on us and will be faithful to keep working on us helping us grow and become fruitful. One day the harvest will come. I want to have a bountiful supply of delicious, healthy vegetables and fruits. Christ wants to find us mature with "... the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering (or patience), gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance (or moderation)... Galations 5:22,23
     I truly hope each of you, my readers, find much enjoyment in this most beautiful Spring. Also, may our God of grace and mercy prepare each of us for the harvest time which is to come.

17 days after planting