Here it is! The chickens couldn't be happier! And I'm pretty thrilled too!
When I started talking nests and New Years's organization, I bet you didn't see this one! I meant it literally! My husband and I are proud to be backyard chicken farmers. I'll give you the long and short of it. I thought having a handful of hens would be lovely so we could have...
- Baby chicks ....who doesn't want cuddly, fuzzy, chirpy, adorable baby chicks?
- Eggs! Quiche, scrambled, over easy, poached, angel food cake, egg salad, all this home grown goodness!
- An educational-interactive component for our homeschool classes, open house, CSA members picking up produce each week
- A live entertainment feed... kind of like cute animals on Facebook, right here in my backyard, 24/7
Great reasons, right? Hubby was pretty excited about it too. He was a little hesitant, however, because I was getting these little bundles of joy and he didn't have a coop built for them. I told him not to worry, they would live in a box for a while. (It's a good thing this wasn't a real baby!)
So the chicks come and live in a box for a few weeks. Then a bigger box. Then a dog crate. Then into their custom built "a" frame structure Jonathan built for them. Our nine little chickens get named, loved, adored and petted by all. They grow up to be pretty friendly little critters. Jonathan is their main caretaker, so they like to follow him around the yard when he does chores, which is adorable.
Well summer lived on a very long time this year, but it doesn't live on forever, and soon it got cold. Their little summer home got covered with a quilt and a tarp and we installed a heat lamp. They were now happy as can be. But then they started laying! Beautiful brown eggs in a communal nest in the corner. It was then we knew it could wait no longer. A real chicken coop must be built. The little ladies had to have a winter home where they could be snug and safe, and must have nest boxes where they could lay their golden eggs.
I begged my husband to make me one of those "Pinterest-y" coops. "Darn Pinterest", many a husbands have sworn..."Now she won't be happy until it looks like this cutesy little idea". I'm sure many husbands have hammered thumbs, spent small fortunes at the hardware store, clocked in precious man-time hours and even are shamed by the thought of their work going onto a "Pinterest Fail Board" (gasp!)
Would you know, that he listened to me? And he is building me the most amazing coop for our little hens. He is building it with so many little details, all right out of his creativity, imagination and construction knowledge. All of this means so much, yet what really means the most is the fact he is doing it out of love.
Ladies, sometimes it might take more time, effort, money or patience than you have or would have used. If someone is doing something special for you, stand back and appreciate it. Compliment them on their progress, their ingenuity, their strengths. Tell them how it makes you feel to see their efforts. Ask if they need your help or even just your company. Pinterest might inspire but love is the motivator. See through it all, and cherish the actions taken to demonstrate that love. It might not even be something lasting and it might not make it to Pinterest, but it makes a relationship stronger and that is the stuff that lasts.
I love my husband for embracing this whole backyard chicken dream, but most of all I love him for listening to me and cherishing me. It was worth bringing nine fluffballs into our flock for that alone! Next blog post.... the unveiling!!!
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!
For heaven's sake, look up! The skies this week were beautiful. So much to behold. So much they tell. The heavens really do display the splendor of God. They are so majestic, they can only be but a bit of the majesty He contains. Every sky is different. No two are the same.
For heaven's sake, we should be more mindful of heaven. There are things that cause us to keep our eyes downcast. It might be the preoccupations of a busy life, a deep tragedy, trials and troubles, or even just too much technology that we're glued to. This week a dear family experienced a loss so sad and so sudden, it made us all reflect a little more. At the burial of this little boy taken far too soon, we all released balloons into the sky. Bright, cheery colorful balloons that drifted their way heavenward made heavy hearts lift, made smiles come to the corners of quivering lips, made tears dry as the wind swept them away. One by one they made their lift to heaven, and I hope that sweet little one was up there catching every one as he runs the fields of heaven.
With our eyes to heaven, we watched the last balloons disappear and we were left with a blue sky. But that sky isn't always blue. The sky in the picture beneath has powerful light but with that light comes many shadows. Look at the dark cloud that covers the brilliantly illuminated cloud. Isn't it like that in life? A shadow comes and steals away the light far too quickly.
For heaven's sake, sometimes things happen we don't understand but we can look up at the clouds and read the little stories God tells to us. You see cloud watching isn't just for kids, there's life lessons laying in the heavenly realms. Skies are His storybook!
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!
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!