Here it is! The chickens couldn't be happier! And I'm pretty thrilled too!
Why sometimes, you just have to stop because something is beautiful. That was the case with these little treasures. Called "Sparkler" Radishes, they have such great colors, don't they? I was picking for the CSA one morning and as I lined them all up, they just were glorious.
I really love things that are bundled, tidy, neat, and arranged. My life isn't always like that, seldom even comes close, but I can still enjoy it. I can enjoy it through the pages of a Martha Stewart magazine, or through the aisles of the Container Store, or even in a minute way in my closet as my clothes are hung by color.
I can even get that fix in the radish patch, where for a tiny little moment, all can be trim and tidy. I love that feeling! We get it in so many ways, be it a clean counter top, a satisfying meal made well or an accomplishment checked off our list. They are small in grand scheme of things, but feel wonderful to us.
So before I took in the radishes, I snapped a photo of that pile. The soft morning light cascaded over them and the bright red barn made a cheery backdrop. What you might see is a simple pile of radishes. But through my eyes, they are "radishingly" beautiful bundles of plucked perfection!
Some of my best musings are done in a quiet morning garden. The air is cool before the heat of the day, the grass still dewy and my mind focuses on my tasks ahead. But somehow, in the midst of my mind churning with the to-do list, the garden always beckons me to be still. God talks loudest in these moments. It is like all of nature is a storybook for our lives, filled with rich lessons in the words of its living pages. We learn such endearing lessons here, and it is here we really see how simple His ideas for life are and how complicated we've made it.
As I came to the arugula patch, I started methodically cutting and sorting the row for the day's picking. Somewhere in this zen-like meditation, I began to realize some very important truths.
Take a look at that patch of arugula. Six rows, all different stages. Some cut and regrowing, some freshly cut and some to be cut later. Each stage is essential. Each stage the plants have experienced. It was then it hit me, and I understood the lessons of the arugula patch.
Sometimes life is like that full row, waiting to be cut. It's waiting. It's so hard to be in this stage. You are so ripe for something to happen in your life! You are waiting for that special something or someone, you are waiting for direction or guidance, you are waiting for forward progression. Life is bountiful and full, but you are ready and done with the waiting.
Othertimes life is like that row that is regrowing. It is fresh and alive, growing back better than ever. The leaves are tender and small and tasty. The hurts are past and this time of regrowth can give us a fresh perspective, a fresh hope and a fresh look. We gain confidence in ourselves and the world around us and are ready again for to be picked.
But sometimes we have been cut. Severed. Scarred. What is left doesn't look pretty. Discarded leaves, weeds, torn and ragged stems litter the dirt around us. There is nothing left to offer, nothing left to give. This will take some time. This will take some tending, some rain and sunshine both, to let us grow again.
The Good Gardener who tends us knows all this. He knows there are all these stages in a thriving garden. A good garden that has sustainability exhibits all of this. A good garden that endures must go through all these experiences. He is aware of this knows this when He plants the garden in the Spring. His tenderness says, "Child, you will flourish. In your time in life's garden, you will know much joy and much pain. Know I am watching and lovingly tending to you through it all".
So when your heart is still and your ears are open to listening, even the humble arugula patch can be a place where He teaches you the lessons of life!
I think sunflowers have to be the best happiness booster there is. Can you even look at one and try to not to smile? Impossible. They are the essence of carefree joy. Sunshine soaking into your outstretched arms. Endless skies and puffy blue clouds. Adventures and discoveries. There are a thousand good thoughts in each of their seeds and they show us to always keep our faces lifted to the sun.
This summer, I had some sunflowers surprise me in the garden! They came up, presumably from seeds drop last year, and very early in Spring, I could see them pushing upward, each day gaining inches. They are now well over 7 feet tall and have given some glorious blooms.
Our homeschool co-op planted a little plot of sunflowers that is growing nicely and that has started to bloom as well. I hope the kids will get to come out and see the miracle of growth and the fact that the little seed indeed has a giant plant inside! And to get to experience the same joy I have when I see those perky yellow blooms start to open up.
I am working on an order of sunflowers for an interior designer. I played around with three designs and we settled on the ones with a long cording as the stem, which gives one the ability to use it as a tie-back for drapes, to tie on a purse, or more! They are all colors and shaped with a little fabric stiffener.
So I'd say that this is the summer of sunflowers. What else can perk up your spirit and bring joy to the down trodden? An everlasting sunflower can!
In my childhood, I have some pretty vivid memories of lilacs. These memories are actually pretty humorous, looking back, but as a kid, they kind of made me cringe. You see, I was raised with a mom who never minded going out and getting what it was she had in mind to get. Every Spring, she was on a lilac pursuit.
I think farm wives have always had a love affair with lilacs. They would take a cutting and plant it as soon as they arrived, setting down roots in their new home and giving their new surroundings the scent of familiarity. Old farmsteads always had a lilac bush, if not a lilac hedge. For such dainty beautiful flowers, the bushes were really quite large, woody and in the way. You'd have to keep it pruned or the lilacs would continue on their conquer of the world, one farmstead at a time. The beauty of the lilacs was that even long after the farm buildings had gone, the lilacs were still there.
So my mom knew some abandoned farmsteads where the traditional purple lilacs grew and even one where the white lilacs grew. We'd pick a few bouquets every spring. I would quietly wonder when we'd get arrested and she and my brother would frolic around, picking armfuls of the sweet blossoms.
One year, there was one of our usual haunts that was getting torn down for a housing development. My mom marched right in there and told them about the story of the lilac bush, and how it was the last bit of living history of the farmstead they were destroying, and that they were changing the face of rural America. All her years of protesting had served her well I guess, but if she could have tied herself to that lilac bush, I think she would have. She loves her causes, God bless her!
I could have died. I shrunk into shadows as best I could for a thirteen year old and hoped when I opened my eyes, this embarrassment was over! The construction crew told her she should have on a hard hat to be here, but pick all you want lady, 'cuz the bush is coming down tomorrow.
That was the death of yet another lilac and another legacy, and as those blooms fell to the ground, so did the the hopes and dreams of the farmstead. That farmstead would never again bloom brilliant in spring, or welcome the sounds of a barnyard, or grow food to feed our souls. But it did teach me something important that day, something that has stuck with me in the fifteen years that have passed since then.
Stand up for what you believe in and have a voice. Tell the story if they cannot tell it themselves. It might be just a lilac, but in this world today, there are far more beautiful things that deserve to be treasured and are instead torn down and destroyed. Things that need us to tell their story. Those lilacs taught me that, and every Spring when they bloom, they remind me again. Whenever I see a lilac, I stick my head into it's heady blossoms to drink of their fragrant beauty. There's nothing like it in the world!
Little lambs are often born as twins. Triplets are not uncommon, though, in the sixteen years we've had sheep, we've never had triplets. (I'm still waiting for that day!) So watching little lambs grow up with their siblings is a pretty common pastime.
Having twins is preferred over just one, because it means for smaller lambs at the time of delivery, so the ewe has an easier time. Plus it's just doubles the cuteness! Siblings will chew on each other, walk over each other, fight each other for the teat, cuddle with each other and best of all, fall asleep on each other. It's quite priceless to watch their interactions!
I've watched many lambs cuddle in close to their twin and rest their head on their back while dozing to sleep. There is nothing quite like that in the world! You know they are content and safe and love the little one they have been brought into the world to be with. You know it is a special bond, and even as they grow up, they will still stick by their siblings' side.
I hope if you have a special sibling, you will take the time to show them some love today. Time and distance makes it harder today to stay close to those we love. It seems like so much gets in the way. We remember those times when we were close, when we chewed on each other, walked over each other, fought each other, cuddled with the other and even feel asleep on them. Take a moment to share a memory with them today. Even if it is just the picture of these two little lambs dozing on each other, share with them how much they mean to you. Life passes too quickly for us not to share those precious thoughts!
Tonight the sky quickly changed. I was in the garden, before sunset, trying to finish some hoeing before night fell. There was a lot on my mind... the picking day that lay ahead, the work that always loomed, the problems that I couldn't solve.
I was overwhelmed. As I looked at the rapidly moving clouds to the north, I wasn't sure if we were going to get rain or not. As the minutes raced by, I knew it was heading our way. I was trying to overcome the discouragement and feeling of not being able to get ahead. Another storm? Really?
My life had too many storms thus far. I was tired and worn out and as this one approached on the horizon, I glanced up to see the sky change to a radiant gold. Rain fell in soft splitter-splatters on my back, and in a brief moment, it began to pour. I had a sinking feeling. Another storm, another set back.
Something nagged at me to turn around. When I did, I was facing the most glorious rainbow- a double rainbow, in fact with a full spectrum of color. Those who know me know how much I love my color spectrum and this was incredible! Right away I burst into tears of joy. It was like God had whispered "I am here. Turn around. Don't face the storm. I am right behind you." And just like that, the rainbow grew and grew and grew. I dropped my hoe and started to run to the edge of the garden to get a picture.
I could barely get the whole thing in one picture because it got so large so quickly. It was like He was telling me, "So can you trust me in the storm? I am bigger than the rain that pelts you. I am more glorious than you ever know. And I love you enough to tell you this. See my beauty? I am right here, and I want you to know that."
The rainbow lasted for only a few brief moments. When I turned back around, the storm clouds had broken into a Renissance-esque scene of sunrays bursting through heavenly clouds. I whipped my head back around to see the rainbow disappear, leaving only a peaceful wash of color in the sky where it once was.
It was a moment as real to me as if God had spoken in audible words. It is something I will cherish for a lifetime, and something I hope, that in sharing with you, offers hope and encouragement for the storms you might face. Turn around. You might just find a rainbow there!
There are some times in life when you get those small joys. They can be seemingly minuscule- finding a close parking space, or snagging the last in your favorite ice cream at the grocery store. Maybe it's clean sheets you can snuggle under, or the smell of laundry hung out to dry with it's crisp freshness. For this little guy, it was fresh straw. Bright, clean, fresh straw. It might sound simple, but it's really got him jumpin' for joy! He can't contain the happiness and you have to admit, it just makes you smile.
So many times in life, we focus on the annoyances and the frustrations. When those little joys do creep into our day, will we take the time to recognize them? Enjoy them? Be thankful for them? If we aren't careful, they slip right on by without us even knowing.
So next time something happens that is unexpected and fills your heart with happiness, will you jump for joy like this little lamb? I hope you picture it in your mind and it brings a smile to your face. It surely does to mine!
It has been a whirlwind! The last month has been filled with so much excitement on the farm. My creative work has an ebb and flow, and during spring, my energies are focused on the new life emerging on the farm.
Little lambs! 18 of them! We have truly been blessed this year. Our Cheviot ewes are wonderful mothers, many of them birthing on their own with little assistance, and nurturing them so lovingly. There is no bond like that of a mother and child, whether human or animal. It is so sweet to watch the love and devotion and outpouring of dedication of these ewes. And the look of gratitude on the lambs' faces, their sweet baa's echoing throughout the barn, serves as the best applause a mother could ever wish to have.
I feel a little bit a part of that as a Shepherd. We watch and nurture and take care of the ewes, and they graciously in return, endow us with their trust. I have spent so many precious moments in the barn. One such moment captured this image of a mother and lamb, and it speaks volumes. The bond they share and the preservation of a precious moment in time are captured by the lens of the camera. How precious!
Fuzzball is one of two kitten mascots of Esther's Place. Outdoor cats, they were a new addition this past Summer, and we had all intentions of keeping them here at Esther's Place to get them socialized before taking them over to the farm to become barn cats. Well, it turns out they captured our hearts and guess what? We have a barn here at Esther's Place too! More specifically, a "carriage house", but to them, it's a two story jungle-gym playground. Hay in the loft for sweet-smelling sleeping, lots of boxes of wool to climb around on, and even an old Allis Chalmers tractor with a nice little seat for a resting spot. They get plenty of food and water and treats every day, and they run out to greet customers with great enthusiasm. They are also always there for my daily dose of "warm fuzzies" and a perfect break when I'm busy creating.
So Fuzz and his brother Gingersnap are a fixture here, they live a life of "shop mascot" and I think they are pretty happy with that. All our neighbors love and adore them too, so I'm happy to spread a little kitten-kindness in this corner of the world.
Other human fixtures here include myself, my husband Jonathan, my mom Donna and a host of friendly fiber folks who love sharing their skills, talents, ideas, creativity with our community. Our farm, just a few miles down from the shop, is where my folks live, along with my dear, 90 year old grandma, and my brother, when he is home from college. We have a diversified small farm, raising sheep, producing for a CSA, growing hay and providing educational tours and classes about sustainability. Put this together with the fiber arts studio in town, and you get a picture of what we're about! I'll be sharing in the blog some of the things that inspire my creativity. Enjoy!