Fragrance

Have you ever noticed that when you step outside in the winter all you smell is cold?

Lilacs

That’s why I really love all the smells of spring.

Fresh cut grass.

The lilac bush in full bloom.

The apple trees bursting with blossom.

The lily of the valley hiding in the grass.

The hyacinth that perfumes the garden.

There’s a tantalizing fragrance in the air that excites us! It draws us outside, compels us to open the windows and breath deeply.

It’s a fragrance that we quickly recognize as spring – it smells alive.

I was reading in 2 Corinthians the other day when this verse caught my eye:

Apple Blossoms2 Corinthians 2:14-15  Amplified

But thanks be to God, Who in Christ always leads us in triumph as trophies of Christ’s victory and through us spreads and makes evident the fragrance of the knowledge of God everywhere,

For we are the sweet fragrance of Christ which exhales unto God, discernible alike among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing”

How incredible is that!

In Christ, we’re walking in a never-ending victory parade! And – everywhere we go we give off a sweet fragrance that is full of life!

Now that’s how I want to live.

I want a life that is open to Him and fragrant with His knowledge.

I want a life that is a beautiful aroma that will draw people to the Lord.

I want to be  an enticing perfume that compels people to open the windows of their hearts and drink deeply of the the sweetness of my Savior.

I want to be that sweet fragrance that people recognize as salvation – the exquisite scent of life.

Garden Overboard

Can you see the little pretties coming up? Aren’t they cute?!

Don’t even try to count them – there are too many! And these are just the ones I started early.

You should see all the seed packets that are going directly in the garden – the huge pile of sweet corn, green beans, peas, pumpkins, and much more!

Let’s just say I went a little overboard.

I stood in the seed aisle at Menard’s and lost my sanity.

Maybe it was the result of a long hard winter, or the warm breeze blowing outside. Or maybe it was the bright colored pictures of the big beautiful vegetables. I don’t know what caused it – but something snapped.

I was a kid in a candy store. I bought 4 different watermelon varieties, 2 different muskmelon, a cantaloupe and a honey dew variety – never once remembering that last year we failed to have even one melon seed of any kind germinate.

I have 36 cabbage plants, 36 broccoli plants, and 36 cauliflower plants started – 4 times as many as I normally plant.

Then there’s the peppers – both green and jalapeno (I can just taste those poppers!) and tomatoes.

Did I mention the 6 kinds of herbs I started from seeds?

I guess hope is new every spring. This is the year that the rains will come at just the right time, we will keep ahead of the weeds, and the bugs, coons, and other varmints will not appear.

My gardening mistakes and failures in past years are forgotten in the wonder of springtime.

I’ll let you know when reality hits!

4 Legged Varmints

Spring! It looks like you are finally here!

The temperatures are warming up, there’s rain – not snow in the forecast, and the 4 legged varmints are back.

You know the ones – raccoons, ‘possums, skunks and the like.

Although none of these animals actually hibernates during the winter months, they sleep longer and don’t do as much stuff. Some call it a state of “tupor” – waking from time to time to search for food.

That sounds very familiar – much like my own winter pattern! 🙂

As the days get longer and the warmer, they venture out and become nuisances.

We counted 3 dead skunks on the way to church yesterday. (Bet those cars will remember that stretch of highway for a long time!)

One friend reported that a critter had gotten into their chicken coop and killed every chicken. The intruder didn’t eat them – just killed them.

Another friend had a similar occurrence – but they only lost half of their flock.

At lunch today – I  saw a big fat ‘possum walking across the farm yard as if he owned the place.  I was concerned that he might be diseased so I checked online.

The site I found was full of interesting information. I discovered that although opossums are nocturnal, to have them wandering around in daylight isn’t too unusual – just like cats.

They are also very immune to rabies, but you should still avoid getting a bite. (Now that’s good advise!)

I also found that possum tastes like chicken, but if you wish to eat them, you should first catch it and feed it table scraps and other good food for a while to work all the carrion out of its system.

Right… like I really want to look the critter in the face and ask when it ate it’s last meal of carrion?! I wonder how long it would take to remove the effects of a carrion diet anyway?

But this particular sight didn’t recommend the practice of eating opossums at all. It sited that “a small cadre of renegade opossums has been known to have sought out people who have eaten their compatriots and lay siege to their dwelling. Armed with crude but efficient crossbows, they may shoot arrows into the car tires or capture and hold hostage the pets of the offending citizens.

Wow! And since it’s online – you know it has to be true! I guess we’ll cross ‘possum off the menu this week.

I sent the boys out to take care of the offending critter.

Let’s just say it won’t be eating any of our chickens or eggs; nor will we be eating it.

Things will settle down here in a few weeks when the rest of our corner of the world wakes up and shakes off the winter doldrums.

But in the meantime we’ll keep the critter gun ready – and a close eye on the flock!

Weather Radios: A Must Have for Rural Living


weather radio

One of the things I missed most when I moved to the country was the tornado siren.

I know it sounds silly, but there was comfort in knowing that if severe weather was coming I would be warned, especially in the middle of the night.

The spring we stood and watched a deadly tornado destroy trees and homes just to our south made me more determined than ever to protect our family.

We had no warning. None of the TV stations had covered it. None of the radio stations mentioned it. A neighbor called in and reported it as it picked up in intensity and stayed on the ground for miles.

That’s when we got a weather radio. It’s plugged in 24/7 year around. During the spring of the year it goes off frequently, day and night. But what a blessing it is to know that if severe weather is coming my way, I will be warned.

Now that’s peace of mind everyone who lives in the country needs to have!

Meet the New Neighbors

Audubon Canada Goose

There’s a building boom out here in the country! We have new families moving in daily and new homes are being started all over.

This happens every spring – and no, I’m not speaking about humans! I’m taking about the birds!

With the melting of the ice and the arrival of open water, we always welcome our largest and most aggressive new neighbors… Canadian geese.

We watch the massive flocks fly over heading north, but every year a few couples decide to take advantage of the nest boxes we placed in our ponds and filled with hay.

They choose the pond and the nest box they like best and set about to fill that nest with eggs.

And then they claim their territory!

My daily walks have taken on a new aspect as I carefully walk by the ponds, watching for the daddy geese who tend to stand guard.

I’ve learned to start clapping as I approach the ponds to give them fair warning – I’ve heard that a goose bite is something you don’t soon forget! I’ve also learned to watch where I step…if you know what I mean…especially as time goes on.

Every year we try to get a glimpse of the goslings after they hatch, but they are elusive.

Then as soon as they little ones are big enough, they disappear from our pond altogether. One year we watched them walk across the pasture and down the road, just like in the children’s classic “Make Way for Ducklings”.

Where they go, we’ve yet to discover.

But for a few weeks every spring we share our ponds with these impressive water fowl in exchange for a front row  seat for the miracle of  new birth.

It’s a pretty fair exchange I’d say!

Eggs

Eggs It’s spring in the country – finally!

The south wind is blowing, the laundry is on the clothesline, the birds are singing outside my window, and my refrigerator is full of eggs!

Our chickens go into a molt during the cold dark winter months.  They loose their feathers and stop laying.

And I have to  <gulp>  buy eggs. Colorless, tasteless, store bought eggs.

Then as the days grow warmer and the daylight increases, the chickens slowly start laying again.

The first fresh egg of spring is an Occasion with a capital O! The bright yellow yolk just smiles at you from the skillet!

But as the daylight continues to increase, so does the egg production. One dozen a day, then 2 dozen.

We have eggs for breakfast, lunch and supper.

We pull out all the egg recipes: angel food cake, pudding, egg casseroles, egg-chiladas.

My refrigerator is now full of eggs. We can’t keep up. It’s time to start selling.

We’re not the only ones, all over the countryside you see the hand-printed “Eggs for Sale” signs at the end of the farm lane.

It’s a sign of spring in the countryside and for a little while, we country folks feel very rich!

Mud

MudIt’s officially here – the fifth season of the year.

For those of us who live in a rural area, we actually get an extra season. It comes right after winter and lasts until spring.

It’s the mud season.

The combination of melting snow and cold wet rains makes our country living messy for a few weeks.

The chickens have muddy feet and muddy feathers which in turn makes their eggs muddy after they are laid.

The gravel roads are a soggy mess we like to call gumbo. They can be slicker than the ice and snow that preceded them.

Oh, and did I mention the ruts that develop on the high spots? So deep they could blow a tire.

Those folk with livestock sure don’t appreciate this extra season. It wreaks havoc with the feeding schedule as they have to deal with muddy lanes and muddy pastures and muddy equipment.

On the way to church Sunday we saw one farmer starting to slide down hill in the mud. He got the truck in 4- wheel drive just in time to avert an accident.

But as messy as it is, and as much of a nuisance, we’re still thankful for it.

It’s this moisture that will make our pastures green and lush in a few weeks. It will fill our ponds and water our livestock.

It means the soil is good and moist. It will be ready to receive seed in a few weeks and produce a bountiful harvest.

“Let us acknowledge the Lord; let us press on to acknowledge him. As surely as the sun rises, he will appear; he will come to us like the winter rains, like the spring rains that water the earth.” – Hosea 6:3

Robin Day Revisited

458px-american_robinRobin Day has been a family tradition in our home for years.

Every year we would watch the melting snow outside to see who can spot the first robin of spring. Then we would celebrate with robin’s nest cookies for dessert.

It was a lovely tradition that helped my young children begin to recognize the birds and look for the other signs of spring.

It provided a much needed reason to celebrate every year in those early spring months when the weather was unpredictable.

So if it’s such a wonderful tradition- what’s the problem?

I have been seeing robins all winter! For some reason they have decided not to leave the state, but just hang out in the woods and underbrush despite the cold weather.

I saw robins in November, December, January, and now in February. I’m afraid that the first robin may no longer be the harbinger of spring.

So now what’s a mom to do?

If the robins don’t signal Spring? What do?

The turkey vulture.

turkey_vulture Seriously, every year we know that spring is officially here when we see the red headed turkey vultures flying overhead.

For years during sharing time in the little country church we used to attend, a sweet sister would sing out, “Honey, I just saw a turkey vulture – spring is finally here!”

But somehow, it just isn’t the same. Turkey Vulture Day just doesn’t have the same ring to it.  Besides, what would serve? Carrion?

Now I know that the turkey vultures have a purpose in our world, but I still can’t bring myself to celebrate their arrival.

So, it’s back to the drawing board for now.

First mud puddle? First daffodil? First green leaf? First thunderstorm? First wood tick?

Parkersburg, Iowa Tornado

We were driving west on I80 last Sunday when the news of the deadly tornado in Parkersburg first hit the air waves. Growing up just a few miles from there, I was shocked by the pictures that were shown. I know the area well, but could find no landmarks in the massive destruction.

We have since learned that it was a very rare EF5 storm, the strongest one to hit Iowa in 30 years. We’ve also learned that there are very few safe places to go in a storm with winds this strong.

It has been amazing to hear the stories of survival; the mom who held on to her children as the wind tried to suck them up; the man who was fishing and returned home to devastation, the elderly women who was dug out from under the rubble.

The other amazing thing I’m hearing and seeing is the quiet determination to get to work, salvage what we can and move forward.

If you would like to see some home video of the storm and pictures of its aftermath check out: http://www.kcci.com

Our thoughts and prayers are with the families who have lost so much in Parkersburg.