Even though it takes forever to get all my clothes on, to walk through the drifts, to break all the ice, to haul extra straw, etc, etc, etc………………there is just something very fulfilling about doing chores in the snow and cold. Making sure the animals have plenty of food and water and a warm dry place to stay just gives me the warm fuzzy’s. It is one of my favorite things to do! In fact it is on days like this when I linger a little longer, talk to each animal, stop to pat a head, gaze on the mamma’s and babies, look out on the beautiful white scene around me and listen to the silence. God is good!
Last July when Mark and I were feeding, he made the comment, “I didn’t know Rambo wasn’t cut!” I said, “No, he isn’t.” You see we had gotten Rambo, a little male lamb, at the Amish Chicken Auction a couple-of-months earlier, planning on raising him to butcher. Mark thought he had been castrated and I guess he finally got a behind-the-scenes view of him and realized he was still “intact.” He then said, “Let’s see if we can find some little ewe’s for him and we’ll raise our own lambs to butcher.” Well, I was all over that! In less than a week I had some found and off we went. We ended up with six young ewe’s and of course, Rambo in our little flock. Our efforts paid off – two days ago we went out to feed and this is what we found:
Two adorable little girls! Last night, the temperature was supposed to get down into the single digits, so Mark and I separated the other Mamma who was close to lambing and put her into the shed alone. Sure enough, when I opened the door this morning, look what was waiting for me:
Two little bucks! How fun is that?!? No other mamma’s look close so we will have to wait for the rest of the gang to come along, but we have other newbies coming to make the wait go quicker. Our goat Liddy should have her babies sometime in the next couple weeks and most important of all, grandbaby number 21 is due any day! That should keep me occupied for awhile!
It is January 22nd. And I just took down my Christmas tree. I wanted to take it down sooner, but the end of the year/beginning of the year book work for our business just didn’t let me get to it. Today was the first time I’ve been caught up on all the paperwork so I tackled getting the tree down along with all the stockings and all my manger scenes. Which got me to thinking…
Since we gave up buying our big family Christmas gifts and go on a “Family Fun Day” instead, I always contemplate not putting the tree up. I mean after all, a Christmas tree with no gifts under it seems empty as can be. But, so far, I still put it up, and once I do, I’m really glad I did. Every morning, the first thing I do when Mark and I walk into the living room with our cup of coffee, is plug the tree in. The white twinkling lights just add a warm glow to the room. I notice each little ornament that represents a different interest in my life. There are chicken ornaments, tractor ornaments, lots of snowmen (I love snowmen) and others given to me by my children or dear friends and even ones I just purchased at one of Mark and I’s many garage sale runs. My all time favorites will always be the ones made by my children when they were little. popsicle sticks made into a red sleigh, paper Santa Claus’s with cotton ball beards, and now my grandchildren are adding to that collection! Each year I get a homemade ornament from one of more of them.
But once Christmas is over, for sure New Years Day, I no longer plug the tree in. I no longer wish to see the warm glow from the twinkling lights. That tree that brought me such joy for a month or so, is all of a sudden an eye-sore. It is a reminder of yet another thing I need to do. I’m done with it! Which like I said, got me to thinking – that’s kind of the way we treat baby Jesus isn’t it. We take Him down for a month, let the celebration of His birth bring us joy. We let His light bring a warm glow to us and hopefully to others through us. We get mad that people say Happy Holidays instead of Merry Christmas, we sing songs about Him and what He means to us, we give gifts in His honor. And then January rolls around, and all of a sudden we are done with Him. He becomes another reminder of something else we need to do. (I really should start reading my bible. I should send a card to that person. I shouldn’t talk about this but…)
I think I need a reminder. I think I’ll change one of my decorations
I’ve collected a few hero’s on my life’s journey. Author and Missionary Elisabeth Elliot is one, Alveda King and Glenn Beck are two more. I have never met any of them, but I have learned so much from these three people about life, about following Christ and doing the right thing, even when it is hard. I’ve learned it from reading their books and seeing them on TV. But now, I have a new hero, one who I have most definitely met and have always admired, but now is truly an inspiration to me. That new hero is my sister Carolyn.
My mother, who will be 101 years old in March had always seemed ageless. She lived by herself, drove her car up until four years ago and is the most fiercely independent person I have ever known. Slowly over the last few years and especially the last several months, it became more and more apparent that she shouldn’t be living on her own. Her hands, twisted by arthritis, don’t work very well anymore. Dressing herself had become an hour long chore because of those hands. Ever so resourceful, she took an old embroidery hook that belonged to her mother, pushed it through the buttonhole to eventually grab the button and pull it through the hole. Her eyesight is virtually nonexistent and her hearing is becoming that way. Although her mind is sharp as can be, because of her lack of sight and hearing it is becoming harder and harder for her to follow conversations. She gets so frustrated when she can’t think of the words she wants to use. We have to explain who someone is, because she no longer immediately recognizes names of grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Carolyn had always said when the time came, Mother could come and live with her and her husband Jack. The second week of October, that time came.
I, Carolyn, my brother Steve and other sister Mary, were very relieved when Mother finally came to that decision because frankly, we did not know how she was living by herself any longer. (Reference above where I said she was FIERCELY independent!) We encouraged, encouraged, encouraged her toward moving in with Carolyn, but she was determined it would be her decision, not her children’s! Finally, because of the impending winter, she decided it was time. What a relief to no longer have to worry about something happening to her in her home by herself.
I have been to see Mother probably five or six times since then and try to call and visit with her a couple of times a week. After only a week or so, I could not believe how much brighter and cheerier her voice was and how nice she looked! Her fingernails are always painted a bright color thanks to Carolyn’s daughter Marcy, her hair always looks nice, thanks to a weekly salon visit and she is always dressed so nice and fashionably! I’m always struck by how soft her hands are when I hold them. When I told her that, she said, “Well Carolyn always rubs some kind of lotion on them for me.” Every time I see her, she bemoans the fact that she can no longer do anything, she so badly wants to be able to help and to be busy. She always lets me know, “I still do the dishes for Carolyn!” Carolyn always smiles and winks and I can see in that wink (as well as past experiences in my home when Mother was here) that those dishes are done over again when Mother is out of eyesight! But it is so important to her to feel useful and needed.
But, I can also see the aging process has not stopped its cruel march. I can’t exactly put my finger on it, but I can tell, she has slipped just a bit more each time I see her. And I can see how it is a full-time job for Carolyn to give her such wonderful care. It is like having a baby in the house. She has to help her with her baths and bathroom needs, help her get dressed, undressed and ready for bed. She takes her to the hairdresser, to the doctor and on outings. Mother’s every need is met quickly and cheerfully. Carolyn’s day is filled with meeting those needs and keeping her entertained with conversation, audio books and Mother’s old records playing loudly in the background. All of this is done so cheerfully and without a single complaint.
My brother Steve and sister Mary do what they can to help Carolyn out. Steve brings Mother down to see her friends and attend her old church occasionally. He picks her up and takes her to his house on Thursdays. Mary is going to have Mother for the next two weeks while Carolyn and Jack take a much-needed trip to visit Jack’s family. But, as is typical for people of that age, she has become extremely dependent on Carolyn. Last week when Mother was at Steve’s house for only three hours, she told him she wanted to go back to Carolyn. And she confided to Steve and Carolyn that she “Didn’t want to ruin Carolyn’s trip, but she didn’t think Mary would be able to take care of her the way Carolyn could and she didn’t think this was a good idea Carolyn being gone for two weeks.” They assured her Mary was perfectly capable of giving her just as good of care as Carolyn did! (Mary and Carolyn are both retired registered nurses.) Carolyn’s house has become home to Mother and Carolyn has become her caretaker and her crutch. And as I said, Carolyn and Jack do it all with such love, kindness and good humor. What an example of living for Christ! Now, I have another hero. I can only wish to ever emulate any of them!
“Greater love hath no man than this, that he lay down his own life for that of another”
This is Sylvester. He is an almost two-year old Narragansett Tom. Narragansetts’ are considered a rare breed of turkey. I wanted to get more, or at least a mate for him last spring but there were none available so it must be true! Sylvester will not be on our Thanksgiving table of course…………………………….but his offspring will be!
Waking up at 4:45 this morning, I sleepily grabbed my phone to help wake me up. Opening Facebook, the first thing I see is a post saying my friend Beverly had lost her entire house and everything in it to fire last night. They escaped with only the pajama’s they had on. It broke my heart. I thought of the beautiful old farmhouse with amazing woodwork from the past, the homey kitchen with the huge old sink and simple cabinets, the antique dumb-waiter, the cozy dining room that was always so welcoming when we had bible study there. We were always treated to herbal tea made with herbs that daughter Caiti had grown herself. Mostly I thought of the children. The four little siblings Charles and Beverly had adopted this past summer. All four so precious and all four just blossoming under the love that is bestowed on them. I was so grateful they all got out unharmed.
Hurrying through chores, I drove to the house of another friend, Sue, who had taken them in on this frigid night. Pulling in the driveway I was met by yet another friend and neighbor, Carolyn, driving Caiti to town to buy some necessities they needed immediately such as socks, underwear and diapers. I asked Caiti if she needed money and the neighbor smiling waved me off and said, “Nope, I’ve got this covered.” I went inside. There was Charles, Beverly and the four little ones, sitting at Sue’s table, getting ready to eat scrambled eggs. They met me with a smile and the kids all speaking at once telling me all the things they had seen and heard that night! There was not one ounce of sorrow, self-pity, or even a question of “Why did this happen” in their voices and demeanor. I gave Beverly a hug, asked about their future plans and immediate needs and then left to pass the information on to others who were eager to help. As I left, the six of them took each others hands and said grace.
To quote a George Strait song, I saw God today. I saw God in the way he woke Beverly up to get everyone out. I saw God in the peace and trust that Charles and Beverly have in Him. I saw God in Sue and Rick offering their home to the family for as long as they need it. I saw God in Carolyn happily taking care of some of the most pressing needs. I saw God in the countless people who started clothing drives, meal-schedules and a fund at the local bank. I saw God whispering to this family that everything is going to be OK. I saw people all over this community being God’s hands and feet, not only for this family but for another woman who also lost her entire home and everything in it to a fire yesterday. Two homes, two families losing everything to fire in less than 24 hours in a community of 2000 people. What a tragic day. But, even in the midst of it all, I saw God today.
Jamie is the only one of our kids who lives more than thirty minutes away. Bless her heart, we still get to see her about once a month because she makes a point to come to us and is so understanding that it is difficult for us to get to her very often. One – because of the nature of her Dad’s work – the trucks must roll on!!! Second, that is the way it is when you have livestock, especially dairy animals, everyone has to be fed everyday and the goats must be milked!
Yesterday we made it a day trip. Jamie was having her annual “three kids/one birthday party” so we loaded up the three grandchildren who are the same age as her oldest daughter Kailyn and away we went on the three and a half hour journey to Aunt Jamie’s house!
It was non-stop chatter all the way! We had slug bug wars, and I-spy wars and rock/paper/scissors wars. We even had an “argument” about if cheerleading and being a ballerina was a sport. BUT it was the boys saying it was and Maddie arguing it was not! Saying it was entertaining is an understatement! The three and a half hours went quickly. Once we were there, it wasn’t long before the party began. Instead of the usual birthday party fare, Jamie had a lady bringing wild exotic animals for the kids to see and interact with. It was like having our own personal zoo.
We held a baby kangaroo……….
Fed a Parrot……………………………
Gave a bottle to some little South American creature that I could not pronounce his name let alone spell it…………………………..
We got to watch a baby cat that looks like a cheetah but has another one of those unusual names Grandma can’t remember or pronounce, Jocee and Kailyn even got to sit beside him!
We even got to hold a young albino python! Here is Kailyn getting a little nervous about those eyes looking at her!
It was time to leave way to soon, but leave we must. Two of our little passengers went to sleep right away, along with grandma, but Blake stayed awake to complete a fierce Slug Bug battle with PaPa. I don’t think we will ever know the winner because I think both of them were seeing Slug Bugs that were not there! Got everyone deposited back home so they could get to bed for the coming school day and we all deposited another memory in our fun times file.