Something’s Wrong with this Picture…

Something’s wrong with this picture….

1

Easter is two weeks away and we have another snow storm in the forecast for this weekend.

My Easter decorations look out of place with my snowmen.

Easter’s too early.

Spring is too late.

And winter doesn’t want to let go.

Sigh.

So much for an Easter bonnet – we might as well wear our stocking caps.

This may be a year when we wear long johns under our Easter dresses and have Easter egg hunts in snow boots.

Feels more like we should be putting up a Christmas tree and singing Silent Night then having sunrise services and singing Christ the Lord is Risen Today.

But you know – it’s not all bad. We are finally getting some much needed moisture.

And when spring finally does appear, we’ll appreciate it that much more. Right?

And in the meantime – don’t put that snow shovel away just yet.

Peeps

Boy do we have peeps!

And I don’t mean the marshmallow kind!

We’ve got the real thing! Some cute little layers to replace the older ladies that are in the coop waiting for retirement.

These feisty little Buff Orpington’s and Red Island Reds should keep things lively for awhile! They’ll grow slowly all summer and will start laying later in the fall.

Hardy little critters and fun to watch!

Then there’s the Cornish Cross broilers. They are cute now but won’t stay that way for long!

In just 8 short weeks and lots of feed this little guys will be butchered and in my freezer. I’m afraid nobody falls in love with the broiler chicks. They really don’t do anything cute – like chase each other around or look for bugs. They just eat. And eat. And eat.

All the chicks have a few more days inside under the lights to stay warm – but then they’ll be outside in the sunshine and on the green grass.

Somehow it just seems more like spring to have baby chicks in the barnyard!

Grace

“The work God wants you to do is this: Believe in the One he sent…” John 6:9
Grace

Only believe.

The cross was heavy,

the blood was real.

and the price was extravagant.

It would have bankrupted you or me,

so He paid it for us.

Call it simple.

Call it a gift.

But don’t call it easy.

Call it what it was.

Call it grace.”

Max Lucado

Photo by Juliux

 

Starving Time

Plants It’s starving time.

No, I’m not literally starving. My scale tells me that I’m eating more than enough – but thanks for asking! 🙂

This is the time of year that the pioneers referred to as “Starving Time”.

They made it through the long winter but their provisions are low. Their gardens are begun, but it will be weeks before they harvest anything to eat.

Although there is an abundance of food in my home – I am still “starving” for garden fresh everything! Just the thought of a bowl of garden fresh salsa or a fresh raw peas straight from the vine makes me salivate!

Waiting patiently has never been one of my virtues. I look at my little plants growing in the basement and will those jalapenos to grow faster!

They are looking good though – actually all of the plants are. The  California Wonder sweet peppers took their sweet time in coming up – but are coming on strong now.

Some of my heirloom tomatoes look a little brown – but are still growing and have green leaves. Should I worry?

We are making progress outside – we even have the garden tilled thanks to Jan’s friend Donnie and his tractor mounted tiller (which my husband just added to his wish list!).

AND – are you ready for this? – I even have some peas, lettuce, and early radishes planted!

I was rather proud of myself until I noticed yesterday that all of my Amish neighbors already have things growing in their gardens.

Oh well! I’m just waiting now for a few dry days to get some more things planted.

Meanwhile I’ll enjoy the beautiful daffodils and hyacinths and rejoice that the fruit trees are starting to bloom.

And I’m be thankful for both the rhubarb pie and crisp we’ve enjoyed and the tiny amount of fresh asparagus we harvested.

…even if I’m still starving for a fresh radish! 🙂

Of Fence Rows & Character Building

We have some very overgrown fence rows.

I guess that’s the downside to buying a run down farm.

beforeThe quick and easy way to clean a fence row is to hire a bulldozer to push it down. The problem with that is  1. We would lose the mature trees. 2. It leaves a huge mound of fence posts, dirt, trees, and barbed wire that is both an eyesore and impossible to do anything with and 3. It’s expensive.

Good thing we have lots of cheap labor. 🙂

The children and I spent hours in the fence rows in the last weeks.

It was a huge job that seemed daunting when we started out.  I wish I could say that Jan and I were confident that we could finish – but we weren’t.

Neither were the kids. They gave us one of those “Are you kidding me?!” looks when we gave them clippers and told them to get started.

"To find the little woodsmen.. in me"We cut wild raspberry thickets, gooseberry bushes, small trees and an unnamed green vine that is covered with the biggest nastiest red thorns ever.

We raked and piled and hauled off trees and branches.

Little by little we made progress.

You could look back and see what we’d done. Our paths were marked by piles of brush.

after

We were hot, sweaty, sore and scratched up. But proud of what we had done.

It reminds me of a passage from the classic book Where the Red Fern Grows. Billy is honor bound to cut down a very, very large tree.  It takes him days and he is tired, sore and discouraged.

Then his Grandpa starting talking, “‘You know Billy’, he said, ‘about this tree-chopping of yours, I think it’s all right. In fact, I think it would be a good thing if all young boys had to cut down a big tree like that once in their life. It does something for them. It gives them determination and will power. That’s a good thing for a man to have. It goes a long way in his life.’

Determination and will power. Smart Grandpa.

We not only cleaned fence rows – we built character.

 

It Must be Spring…

It Must be SpringIt must be spring in the Midwest.

One day we’re hanging laundry outside in short sleeves with the windows open.

The daffodils are poking out of the ground and the rhubarb is up.

The next day there’s that nasty white stuff in the forecast.

You know the stuff I mean – it starts with an s and rhymes with “at least we won’t have to mow!”

It’s the word that brings great excitement and celebration in the fall – but feels like a slap in the face at the end of March.

I really can’t complain though – our neighbors to the north have had it much, much worse. One friend in Minnesota said she has never been so excited to see dead grass because it meant the snow was finally gone.

She spoke to soon – they had another 7 inches overnight.

The only good thing about a spring snow is that it won’t last long.

The flowers know it – they’re blooming anyway.

The robins know it – they keep building their nests.

Even Wal-Mart knows it – they have their swimsuits and flip flops on display!

I guess we all know how very fickle March can be!

Today the furnace is running – but soon the windows will be open again.

We’ll be able to pack the winter coats and stocking caps away and the kids will be digging out their t-shirts and sunscreen!

Meanwhile, we’ll just brush the snow off the Easter Bunny and be thankful that April is only a week away!

Photo by Anne Burgess

God of Wonder

God of WondersWe had some massive storms roll through the state last night – tornadoes warnings, hail, strong winds, heavy rains.

With three of my kids at Teen Pact Camp in Des Moines – this momma bear was relieved when one of the coordinators posted this on Facebook:

“I just got back from the Teen Pact Camp. There was a tornado warming so we all went into this ‘cozy’ (that was the word we agreed on) basement. I must say, if being in a basement can be epic, this totally was. We did a bunch of singing. Let me tell ya, ‘God of Wonders’ takes on a whole new meaning when there’s lightning, hail and wind outside!”

Thank you Josh.

I had to smile. I knew exactly what he meant.

Years ago – when I was in youth group – we were on the church bus on a very hot and humid July night traveling home from an activity.

The air was so still it was suffocating.

There was lightning off in the distance.

We watched the storm get closer and closer – until the sky got dark and our church bus full of kids was in the middle of the rain, wind, and lightning.

It was a little scary.

Then someone started to sing the scripture song from Isaiah 41:10:

“Fear thou not, for I am with thee,
be not afraid, for I’m thy God.
I will strengthen you, yea I will help you,
yea I will uphold you with the right hand of my righteousness.”

We all joined in. Song after song flowed out of that bus on that dark stormy night.

Singing “How Great Thou Art” while the lightning cracks above you and you can feel His power in the wind and rain is an incredible experience.

That impromptu acapella worship service in the church bus on a country road in rural Iowa surrounded by the raging storm remains one of the most meaningful ones in my life.

God of wonder indeed.

It’s Raining, It’s Pouring…

It’s raining, it’s pouring…  but this old woman is not snoring – she’s fretting and frustrated!

We have seriously had too much rain. The National Weather Service reported that we have had over 11 inches already in June. That averages out to almost an inch a day. Over 6 of those came at once on the infamous Chuck Norris Saturday – and we haven’t dried out since.

The weather radio seems stuck. “A chance of rain before midnight, some locally heavy. A chance of rain after midnight…”

It’s become almost a joke. Almost.

Your heart goes out to the farmers who should be finishing up their first cutting of hay and starting their second.

Garden Flood

It also goes out to my poor garden. My tomatoes and peppers have been in for almost three weeks now and they are not growing. They look yellowed and forlorn. Shall we talk about my green beans?! They have also been in for 3 weeks. Only 4 seeds germinated. I guess I’ll replant for the third time.

Garden River

Don’t I have a lovely river running through it?!  I guess I shouldn’t complain – some farmers can almost float a bass boat in their fields.

Grass

And here is my corn patch -overtaken by grass – it seems to like the wet weather. Trust me – there is corn growing in there – somewhere.

But all is not lost! There are still things to be thankful for. The cool wet weather has meant a longer and more abundant asparagus harvest and the red raspberries are just coming on now. We had our first wild black raspberry this week – and I see one lone blossom on one hearty pepper plant.

YEAH

Let’s count some more blessings… the corn germinated pretty well and looks good (if we can just get the grass out of it!) The local Amish store had several nice watermelon and cantaloupe plants for sale that replaced everything the ones that didn’t come up from seed (which would be all of them!)

And the rain just stopped for today. The sun is out and the birds are singing.

If only this would last….

I’ve linked this post up over at the Tuesday Garden Party at An Oregon Cottage

All Nature Sings

Our afternoon got a little sweeter today.

Poppa found a newborn fawn in the grass near their garden.

We hurried over to see , being careful not to touch or disturb it.

We stood in awe  at the wonder of new life – the miracle of creation.

It was incredibly beautiful – laying there in the grass.

I thought to myself – how can anyone look at this new life and not believe in a creator God? Where did the doe learn how to give birth?

Who taught her where to give birth?

How does she know how to feed and care for her newborn?

Who designed the camouflage pattern on the fawn to help it hide in the forest?

All of nature sings of a Creator.

We heard the song today as we gazed in the face of a newborn fawn – it was in the form of a lullaby.

Job 39:1- 4  “Do you know when the mountain goats give birth? Do  you watch when the doe bears her fawn? Do you count the months til they bear? Do you know the time they give birth? They crouch down and bring forth their young; their labor pains are ended. The young thrive and grow strong in the wilds; they leave and do not return.”

Easter Dresses and Muddy Messes

Yesterday was our first full day with all the children- and boy was it a day of contrasts!

Our day began with sweet little girls all decked out out in their Easter dresses complete with gloves and hair ribbons. (The gloves lasted all of 10 minutes!)

It included a trip to church, palm branches and goody bags full of Cheerios, pretzels and mini-marshmallows.

The girls really got into waving those palm branches! And even though they whacked us in the face several times – and whacked their brother’s heads in the row in front of us, I’ll still call the morning a resounding success.

The afternoon, however, was a different story.

It wasn’t the girls though – they had a wonderful time! They were finally able to go outside.

They discovered that their pretty pink boots made big splashes in the mud puddles; they fed the chickens, gathered the eggs and walked the length and depth of the yard.

Oh the happiness!

No, the girls had a very lovely adventure. It was the big boys who had a misadventure – a very muddy misadventure!

Remember my overconfident declaration – “I’m not worried about the boys, we’ll feed them when they’re hungry and make sure they wear clean underwear when they go home”?

Yeah – we might be rethinking that one.

Right after lunch they headed out to explore the ravines. I just told them to stay away from water, stick together and stay off the road.

They stuck together all right.

I’m not sure of the details, but the story goes that they were down in the ravines exploring when James stepped into the “Mud Pit of Death”. It instantly sucked him in up to the top of his boots. Of course the older cousins had to “rescue” him.Muddy Jeans

In the heroic attempts to “save” their cousin – all of the older cousins got into the “Mud Pit of Death” with him – which instantly started sucking the boots and shoes right off their feet.

Yes – just like a giant vacuum cleaner. What a sacrifice!

The final causality count was three boots, three shoes, and an untold number of socks.

Aunt Julie and I were shocked with the muddy, shoeless group who drifted back to the house.

But don’t worry – we  aunts got our revenge! There was no way those mud- encrusted jeans were setting foot in my house – so the boys had to drop their drawers outside the basement, wrap a towel around their skivvies and sheepishly walk upstairs to the showers – carefully navigating all the safety gates we have in place.

It was priceless!

Then this morning they had to go outside in their pj’s and spray off those jeans to remove the biggest chunks of mud before I could wash them. (They loved this part!)

We’ll be off to the Amish store  in a few minutes to replace some of the boots, Aunt Melinda found shoes in the shoe bucket to replace some of the ones buried in the ravine, and the jeans did come clean in the wash.

So, while the outward evidence of the misadventure are gone – the memory made will last forever!

And that’s what this week is all about.