Circle of Life and Good Byes

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LIFE IS AN ACT OF FAITH……Struggle is optional

It seems like everyone is always saying Good bye to someone or something from their life. Whether its saying good bye to a pet we have had in our daily lives for years, or a job that we have created and helped form it to the success it has become, to a friend that is moving away for their own betterment, or a marriage that has been too long  in the “wrong lane” of traffic. Death visits the old, and the very young. It is no respect of anyone. It has no favorites, no warning. It turns on us like an angry crocodile and takes a bite out of heart.

Seems like these days we are ALL saying good bye to something or someone.

Beginnings are usually joyful, happy, exciting, empowering. The center piece of our lives, its the   meat and potatoes of an every day diet.  The  sustaining power…what keeps us up right and moving forward when everything within us yearns to just stop this crazy spinning world and jump right off into the abyss. It fuels us to keep going, it gives us power to believe, to hope its all going to get better, the rough spots will pass.

Endings…oh the pain and sadness and dark days that follow endings.  Change is difficult for most of us, and change is certainly inevitable if you are breathing . Its going to come whether we like it or not. Agree with it or not. Desire it or not. Its coming after us all like a mad bull on a full charge.  Learning to cope with it…is the secret to survival. To learn from it and become a BETTER person and not a bitter one is an added bonus.

Good bye is such a final sounding word. It offers no end to the pain we are enduring or the empty loneliness we will feel for months.  There is a portion of our hearts that has been damaged—a condition no medical doctor will be able to detect, but you will feel its final blow over and over again.

Everything within your view, that was once so normal will now seem so foreign, . Sunshine, birds, flowers, butterflies, it will take a huge amount of  time before you will notice them again or their beauty.  Yet somehow, with each passing day, each passing month we will grow accustomed to wearing our grief like a heavy coat on a hot July day. We wont feel the weight of it anymore, it will just be a part of us.

Then one day, we will notice the sky seems a little brighter than normal , the dark clouds begin to roll away, and a small piece of relief will be felt.  A light summer rain will cleanse our heavy ,mourning soul.     RAIN IS A HEALER!!!!    It helps a body not feel so alone, perhaps we feel like the rain drops are tear drops and they are mourning with us.

Our true growth comes from when we ACCEPT the cause of our pain, our grief, our hurt, and some day we will be able to  lighten or help others along the same painful journey down the road we have traveled.

Life is uncertain……there are so many tragedies unfolding all around us each and every day. Someone is losing a momma, a daddy, a brother, a sister,  (God help us a child), its everywhere and its sadly inevitable. Its the CIRCLE OF LIFE.  We deal with it, because we must, we received no choice in the happenstance.  The shock of loss will rock our world over and over again.   We go through the motions of arrangements, and life will not let us just sit down in a chair and stop living. We want to, but it wont let us,….yet  it is the MUNDANE activities of our everyday life that will sustain us and get us across these rough seas and onto the other side of the “mourning river”. We will reach the shore?  Broken, beaten and bruised.  It is in brushing our teeth, taking a shower, the mere act of getting dressed, chewing on a cracker, that will slowly bring us back to life,   because WE HAVE TO THOSE THINGS.

We will pray, and ask why…over and over again….we will work, and live, and laugh, and when we are alone we ask why again and again…..because sometimes its too surreal to fathom, too much for our minds to take….and GOD BLESS the person(s) who step in when we need them most and sustain us through the dark days.

 

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Give the BLESSING….TODAY

 

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SERIOUSLY….Look at this picture. Study it. Its snowflakes under a microscope.  There are dozens of snowflakes in this picture, and every one is different. BEAUTIFUL AND DIFFERENT.

As I am known to do…I take classes on the mind, spirit, heart, body, inner healing etc. I enjoy these classes and find them quite satisfying. BUT this morning I was shell shocked.

I often use the phrase “America is up to their hipbone in heartache” and it tends to cover a lot about  how people are feeling. The  daily grind of everyday life.  Today, as part of our computer homework,  we had to post some Q & A on the net and over 28 different COUNTRIES were participating. Notice I wrote COUNTRIES and not counties.  Again and again the same “thing” would appear ever 2 or three entries. I had no idea.

See, we think we are alone, and we let no one know how we really are feeling inside because its not “fashionable”. Woman and men from over 28 different countries all struggle with the same feelings of  unworthiness  and Underserving.

Every other entry on our class GRACE BOARD  was someone saying how they feel inadequate, undeserving , ashamed, not enough,….. Not tall enough, not thin enough, not pretty enough, not bold enough, not quiet enough, not educated enough, not rich enough, not forgivable ..

WOW…… I know its all out there… I am very familiar with ALL those  feelings throughout my lifes own journey …but it still  shocked me …bothered me. So many people all around the world…literally are all feeling the same way. Is it because of how we were raised, is it due to television , commercials, movies, or is it all just our own perspectives….either way I didn’t like seeing it with my own eyes. Why in a world of so much knowledge and intelligence are any of us feeling so insignificant.  Whenever I do motivational speaking which revolves around the birthing order for which we were born. Its a fun filled way to examine who we are and what has shaped us thus far but at the end of the seminar I always ask people to go out today and give someone the blessing of accepting them for who they are.  We all need that BLESSING from a loved one . Especially before that person has passed on. I make it a point to say…..

“Go out today and tell someone they are ok…that they hit the mark for you just as they are. Tell your paperboy…your children..grandchildren..sister..brother..friend, niece, nephew, great aunt or uncle…grandparents…mom or dad…boss or co worker.  GIVE  THE GIFT OF ACCEPTANCE TODAY..  Tell SOMEONE  they do a great job, they matter to you…they are important to you…No hoops to jump through, they don’t have to earn YOUR love or acceptance. Its there.

I try to tell our grandbabies all the time… “Emma you are my favorite Emma in the whole world and I love you. (This also goes for Benjamin, Leah, Savannah, Carly, Allyson, Logan, Matthew, Alaina, and Andrew and Jake.) I don’t make a big production of it I just  whisper it or say it when we are laughing or playing….but here’s the thing…

It would break my heart and DOES hurt my heart if I hear my children or grandchildren think they are unimportant or don’t matter to me. If any of our grandchildren  walked up to me and said they  felt unwanted, unaccepted, un worthy I would be sure to stop whatever I was doing..cup their  face in my hands and assure them  that while I cannot speak for the entire world……

IN OUR WORLD ….THEY ARE  BEAUTIFUL AND LOVELY AND SPECIAL AND SMART…and deserving of a good, happy, love filled life.

Who would you like to hear those words from?  What person do you wish would just call you up or stop you and say

“Hey, I don’t always say it with words but I love you, you are a great person, I enjoy your company, I appreciate your hard work and dedication, I admire and respect you , YOU HAVE MADE A BEAUTIFUL DIFFERENCE IN MY LIFE….

BE THAT PERSON TODAY…GIVE SOMEONE THE BLESSING

..a random act of kindness  (ARK)  will go a long way towards a better tomorrow.

Everyone wants to be loved, we all wish to think our time here has mattered…counted for something good.  To think someone really “gets us, who we are and still loves us” its amazing.

Message In A Bottle

Social Media is an interesting topic. I really appreciate when people use it to keep others informed of hospitalizations of a loved one, when prayers are needed its a very effective tool. Some folks use it to promote their businesses, orchestrate family gatherings , birthday parties, anniversaries, a baby’s birth, first day of school etc.. It can be a very effective tool in our day and age.

Now and then, because someone sees your name come across a post that they commented on you can get reacquainted with folks you haven’t seen or heard from in years. That is what happened to me.

A few months back, I received a message asking me if I was related to the people who lived on such and such road 35 years ago. I replied that I was in fact related and that my family stills dwells on that road , and on that farm.  The older gentlemen then began to communicate every couple days with me. Asking about extended family members that he once knew.  It was an enjoyable exchange as I attempted  to bring him up to date regarding relatives . Some were still here, others had passed on.

Not too long ago,  I received a package in the mail. It was an unexpected delight from my Mountain friend. I opened the box and there inside was an old long john shirt that had been worn almost through and  wrapped around a bottle. I pulled the bottle from the box…it was a vintage Milk bottle  as unique as He is. Also inside the bottle was a letter on lined notebook paper all rolled up and tucked in neatly inside.  I tried to pull the shirt out but one sleeve had been rolled up half way and duct taped .  I removed the tape and found a piece of Copper Ore .

The letter stated where the milk bottle had come from, where it was found, and the chunk of copper from his mountain near by.  The  “Message ” itself was absolutely priceless to me.

Upon the white paper the black   letters  were shaky and the pen strokes were heavy.  This wonderful man took the time to write me a HAND WRITTEN letter.  What a treat. Who does that now days?  He talked about his life, things he had done, the joys of living off the land. The hardships of life sometimes. The complications of just living and surviving the day to day when your body has stopped functioning as it used to.

For almost 28 years I had a treasured friend (37 years my senior) and he sent me a letter at least once a week and filled those letters with everything and anything under the sun. I would race to the mailbox, see  a letter from him and I would get all my work done just so I could sit down and absorb his letters. at one point we lived 3 miles apart and the last 15 years of his life we live 50 miles apart. Still when his letters  arrived it felt like someone had sent me a bouquet of flowers through the mail. I loved them. I craved them. I appreciated them. I always told  Burton that I knew one day one of us would out live the other and what a sad day that would be …especially if I was the one left behind. And I knew then that NO ONE would be sending me letters anymore. I have a suitcase full of his cards and letters and they are still just as touching and precious to me as the day they arrived in the mail. Burt has been gone 5 years now.

Social Media =  Old Acquaintance = New Friend

message in a bottle

 

 

In Laws and Black Skillets

Back about 34 years ago I married into a family that was southern born and southern bred as the old saying goes.  From the deep south. Where there is no “Sweet corn bread” made from a Jiffy mix but rather the old fashioned kind of cornbread that you make from scratch with real yellow cornmeal, buttermilk, flour etc and you pour it all into a hot cast iron skillet. And when you eat it you crunch the cornmeal.

Biscuits are the same way. They are made from scratch and flipped into a hot iron skillet. It has been this way for 5 generations and back. His Great Great Grandmother, Great Grandmother, His Granny…his mom and now me . I confess it took me about four years to learn how to make them and there are days I still feel that I don’t get the texture or height just right and I’ve been  making them regularly for twenty something years.

I remember one day when Granny ( in law) Marie decided to give me a cast iron skillet. It was like passing the baton at the Olympics. It was a right of passage, heritage in motion. She gave me a skillet and told me to be sure that I did not cook meat in my biscuit skillet. That you need one skillet for meats and one for breads to keep the conditioning factors right.

Well things went along for about four years or so and when Granny was 79 she called me up and said “Did I give you Pops #7 Skillet”?  I told her no. She talked a little further about not being able to find it and was sure that she had  given it to me quite awhile back.   Here comes the funny part.

When she and pop back in the 40’s were migrant fruit harvesters they moved from one state to another as the crops ripened and would stay in little white cabins, sometimes a barn they had to share with other families with only blankets between them. This one particular cabin was so small she said “You had to go outside to change your mind”. The oven in that cabin was so small that her skillet would not fit in the oven so Pop had taken the skillet outside and broke the handle off about half way down leaving barely enough of a stub to hold on to it, but it fit in the tiny oven….biscuits every morning on schedule. All was right with the world.

Now she couldn’t find her #7 broken handled skillet and she was sure she had given it to me. In  the mean time I  had started collecting skillets at sales and using them a lot more. Skillets that are a #7 and made by Griswald or Wagner are scarce and pretty valuable.   I started to worry …”did she really give me that skillet….did I misplace it…did I get rid of it in a fit of cleaning one day? I wouldn’t put it past me .  A couple days later she called again and ask about the skillet again and said she would be coming over that Sunday for breakfast.  Now I was in a panic.

When my husband got home at the end of his long 14 hour day .. I handed him my PRIZED #7 Wagner skillet and told him “GO BREAK THE HANDLE OFF THIS”.

He looked at me with disbelief and ask the obvious question. I explained the whole ordeal to him and apologized all over the place and told him if Granny had in fact given me the historical skillet from when her and pop first “set up housekeeping” as she put it I have lost it.  I also told him that she was coming for biscuits that Sunday and to please not tell her.

So he ceremoniously stepped off the back deck and using a hammer and a cement brick he broke the handle off my #7 skillet.  Granny came for breakfast that sunday….I made biscuits in the #7 skillet much to her delight and she was thrilled.  And I believe I heard a “I told you So” in there someplace.

NOW CUT to about 6 months later. Hubby and I and the children were all over at her house cutting her grass one summer afternoon and she was in her tiny mobile home kitchen cleaning. When we came inside and we all siting around the table eating a sandwich Granny said “Hey look what I found underneath the sink”. She showed me HER  broken handled # 7 skillet.  Well I guess you know my mouth dropped!!!!

“I guess you never had it after all hon”. She said to me and she was laughing. I laughed right along with her and said “Marie,…..I had your Grandson break the handle off  MY #7 skillet because you were so sure you gave it to me and I was afraid that I had lost it”.   It was a good laugh and I was able to share this story at her funeral in August of  2007.

And Yes…I now have the FIRST REAL BROKEN # 7 skillet that belonged to Annie Marie…..along with the broken #7 my husband broke for me.  Hers has  a C molded into the bottom of the skillet and mine does not.  I have not yet been able to get one of our children to make biscuits  but we do have two daughters and I suspect that when I am no longer in need of the skillets each of our girls will have one.

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The Estate Sale

Recently I was invited to come look through a farmstead that belonged to two older gentlemen brothers that had lived their entire lives on the farm their parents and grandparents were raised on.  They were in their late eighties and they were brothers and a  team, all of their own. Many area people referred to them as “the boys” . They never married..instead chose to spend their lives together farming about 800 acres, (some rented) . They shared the same room up until the end. Each had their own bed and dresser , their own recliner and tv tray beside them… They simply enjoyed one anothers company. They entrusted their estate to their niece who is 72, had devoted the last 8 years of her life taking care of them. Running them to doctors and such. She was honest and as true and kind and trustworthy as they come.  “JO” ask me to come look at the house content and give her my opinion on whether there was anything there worth having a sale for.

I made my maiden voyage to that farmstead and I was hooked. The beauty of the place, the beauty of the story surrounding this family for three generations, the life Albert and Ralph continued to carve was amazing to me .

Allow me to state here quite honestly that I would have PAID THEM for the adventure I was about to embark upon. I would have paid them to wonder through the leaking, hot, dirty, dusty attic , or the damp, wet, Michigan dirt wall basement. I am always into the old things of life. Not just antiques…I treasure the old ways of life. I tell my family over and over that I was born about 100 years too late. I have the heart and  mind of person who should have been born  in the 1860’s.

After crawling around and digging around I gave this gracious Lady Jo…my opinion about a sale. Most definitely there was enough to have an estate sale and most everything was what people today are searching for.  Treasure from the past to be repurposed. Second Chance trinkets.

So the daunting task began. Four days later, after enlisting the help of my older brother for one afternoon we successfully brought down all the large things from the attic and the upstairs. There was only room to crawl through.  The downstairs of the house was loaded.  Beds…beds and more beds. Did I mention their were 13 children born to the original parents. I imagine a lot of beds were needed. And I imagine they kept them all for I found them in the attic..lol  Old secretary’s, old side boards, desks, tables, dishes, crocks, milk bottles.  I mean this was a treasure hunters paradise. You know you cannot take it with you when you leave this world, and I  know even it were all given to me I would have no place for the stuff, but still you cant stop the heart from pumping with excitement over it all.

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We set up for the sale on a Friday and Saturday. It was tight for folks to get in the house and moving everything outside was out of the question with the heat index and temps of 90 degrees outside. So people came in and out of the house all days and we slide open and slide shut the heavy old metal glass door and kept the air conditioner going.

Its the PEOPLE part of this sale that I enjoyed even more. There are of course the occasional person or two who just cannot be happy. They don’t smile, they bark. They don’t act appreciative for the chance to buy vintage pieces at yard sale prices…they almost throw their money at you like you are robbing them. Those folks need to stay home and keep their bad attitudes with them. We had only two people like that in two days. Of which we were thankful.

Most folks came in, with reverence and respect and honor to be entering a home of someone who had passed…they realized that while this was an estate sale, there are family members still around and still trying to grieve through it all.

Some folks  looked around, slowly, carefully, ask a few questions about some items and if they didn’t buy anything they simply nodded their heads and smiled or thanked us and left.  Others would come in and comment on how sad it was that they would never get to see “the boys” out farming again when they drove by, or how sad it would be to never see their tiny figures walking around the barn and house.  Sometimes they shared stories about the brothers, and everyone would laugh . The TWO BROTHERS left behind a rich legacy that did not have anything to do with money or power.  It was touching to be a part of it….to be able to hear all the neighbors….family….all the stories.

THEN…we had the few scoundrels that stopped by and all they cared about was what was going to happen to the farms,  to the ground,  to the equipment. They wanted to go out and look at the trucks, tractors, etc and make offers. Even though they were told the auction for equipment would be next spring. A  few were persistent…arrogant in my eyes. I actually had to at one point get very stern with a man that he was not allowed to walk out and look at a couple of old stake trucks. Twice I told him we could not allow the liability of him walking around the farm and when he said again that he was going to walk out there I had to say “NO SIR…you cannot ,” I think it was the tone of “SIR” or perhaps it was the way I clipped off my words with gritted teeth that caused him to retreat back to his truck. I have few patience for pushy arrogant people who think because they have money they are better than the average person or that they do not have to adhere to the same rules as everyone else.

NEWSFLASH RICH PEOPLE;  When your time comes, you are just as gone, just as dead as the rest of us….and you will hope someone pay a little respect when sorting through your things or your place.  What happened to common courtesy?

The sale was a good one, money was collected for the estate….the house was emptied of about half its contents and I got to enjoy spending some time with some good quality people. Jo will be forever in my heart, I treasure and respect this woman and all that life has dealt her, and let me tell you, she had sustained the heaviest blows, a couple times and still she smiles. Still she is good and kind and pleasant.

One afternoon digging through the attic I found this item. It was so awesome in my eyes…and I told Jo, who was waiting at the attic door..how cool was my find and how much she was going to be awe struck by it. I carried it to the door and showed her with the biggest gust of excitement and she gave it a once over and said “That is so not me…not interested in that at all”. We both just roared….I bought the item. Its a hand made cabin that dates back quite a few years and  I believe it was the beginnings of a childs  pioneer farm set. I found this other oddity and thought it looked like a building of some sort it wasn’t until I was home cleaning up the cabin that it dawned on me that was a hand made silo to go with the cabin and then of course that had to come home with me also. My plan is to leave the cabin sitting in my farm house and at Christmas time I will string some tiny lights on it and place animals all around it..but first I will have to figure out a way to make the top of the silo and keep that older  vintage look .

THANK YOU GOD that folks like these brothers kept the old things that belonged to their parents and grandparents and didn’t clean house and toss these things away. Sometimes when I ponder on my own mortality I get nervous at what my children might have to sift through, I worry about the history behind the special family heirlooms I have , will they mean anything to them, will they understand the significance they held for me…..should I burn 37 years of journals…will anyone want them…who will know my great great grandfathers pocket watch, who will carry on with the genealogy research and keep the history up to date…..

Its sad that when we leave nothing goes with us, and most of the time we don’t get to say any final goodbyes or leave last minute wishes or instructions. We are suppose to enjoy today, and not worry about tomorrow and not waste time on yesterday…but how do you live in today and not remember or discuss  yesterday and not plan for  tomorrow.  Crazy…life questions.

I don’t know those answers….I am a mere human being and I am doing the best I can each and every day to appreciate all that is around me , to let people know through my actions or words that they hit the mark for me just as they are. I believe in loving and being kind and giving , and forgiving.  Its a wonderful life….if we just don’t weaken and can sustain all the storms that inevitably come.

An estate has always been a place of reverence for me, no matter who’s it was. This Family sale will be etched in my heart forever and I hope that “the boys” were able to see us, and the care and respect we gave to their possessions and how much we learned from them and appreciate that once upon a time there was a set of brothers. THE BEST BOYS.

 

 

The Claw Foot Bathtub

It all began at a yard sale FOURTEEN YEARS AGO .  My dearest friend Burton (37 years my senior) had  driven up here to my farm from  South Bend, IN to spend the day  with me. We were going to take picture of creeks, trees, old buildings, that was a fun adventure we liked to partake of a couple of times a year.

As we were driving on the back roads from Cassopolis we stumbled upon a yard sale. The place looked pretty well picked over but we stopped anyway. We looked around and was about to leave when off in the corner underneath a piece of plywood that was being used as a table for clothing I found an old Claw foot tub.

I let out a yelp and Burt said without turning around to look at me “UT oh” and smiled as he walked in my direction.

“Burt, look at this cool old tub. ”  He laughed and began explaining to me that it wasn’t  that  cool or unique that  he took many a baths in a tub like that when he was a boy.  The price tag was $100.00.   I did not have a hundred dollars and if I did I would be paying off bills as i had three young teens at home, electric bills, phone bills, groceries etc.

The owner walked over and said….”Today is the last day of this sale. I am moving out west so i would accept any offer on this heavy old thing.”  I smiled and told him i couldn’t possible afford it but it was a cool old tub.  Then he persisted….”Make me an offer, honestly you cant offend me i want the thing gone today. ”    I told the guy i only a twenty and then out of the blue Burton piped in  “I have a twenty Sher” and just like that the man yelled “SOLD”.

I was so excited. Burt has a very distressed look on his face and then ask me how on earth were we going to haul that thing home. We’d have to come back and get it with a truck. I assured him that i had brought a seven foot couch home once strapped to the back of my 78 Thunderbird i could make this happen.  He didn’t look convinced or comfortable.  lol.

Burt was driving a new  Chrysler LHS at the time. I convinced him to help me take the legs off the tub, turn it upside down and it would slide into the back of his trunk without hurting the car at all.  We did it and it worked.  Off we went towards my farmhouse with my vintage tub. (This was also the farm owned before selling it to me). It was in dire need of repairs when i bought it and it was a slow restoration project as i had to do all plaster, plumbing, drywall, etc  myself. No money for hiring anything out.

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After we arrived back at the farm. we carefully slide the heavy cast iron tub out of the back of the Chrysler , slide the feet back on and turned it over to its side and then upright. It was now sitting upright in the middle of the yard. I was so pumped I thought it was the best find since buttered bread.  I ran inside to get us a drink of water  and when i came back out this was the imagine I found . I snapped this picture quick and  told Burt that some  day i would hang this photo of him and his car in the bathroom over the tub. Also is our oldest daughter and myself in the middle.  Yes, we might all be rednecks from the country…..

  IMG_5905     IMG_5904    burt 4

As I stated earlier it taken 14 years to finally get the tub in and plumbed. Mind you it was no small task getting it upstairs. My girlfriend ( 20 years my senior) was positive her and i could push this tub UP 16 steps to the upstairs south bedroom where i was going to take the 9X12 room and make it into a bath.  Me having the “bull in a china shop” determination I agreed with her and so Cheryl and I turned the tub on its side, pushed it through the door way and started to push it up the stairs. I could hold on to the top and pull upward as it was too  heavy and if we both pushed from the bottom the top would get hung up on the riser of each step. This stair way is tall and narrow so we couldn’t stand on either side of the tub.

Then I came up with the idea that if i put pine 1 x 8’s under the top of the tub it would glide up like grease lightning.  So I raced outside, got the boards and had to race up the kitchen stairs through the hallway and down the dining room stairs to place the boards, then back up the stairs , down the hallway and down the kitchen stairs to get back to the bottom of the dining room stair case where  my friend was literally left holding the tub.   Yeah, that didn’t work either and pretty soon … you guessed it.  Us two woman had this heavy cast iron tub half way up the stairway and half way down and couldn’t move it one more inch.  (It s hilarious picture in your mind right.).

We finally shimmed the tub and waited for my son Thom to come in from outside and after a bit of scolding for trying to do it ourselves, then he called Dad in from the barn and together the two of them got the tub to its final resting place. I use the word final here, because Carl said the only way that thing was coming back down stairs was in pieces. He was serious too.

This last February I finally made Thom’s old room into a Bathroom. Imagine a farmhouse with two bathrooms. What a luxury. Its everything I could have dreamed of.  I didn’t do anything to the tub except sandblast the outside of it and painted it white.  The old wooden cabinet was my great grandmothers, the fireplace mantel was from a BEAUTIFUL  three story mansion in     South Haven that was torn down, and the land split into three partials and new homes built. They were going to burn it.

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Most the hats and purses hanging  on the wall came from my Aunts, or older woman I have had the pleasure of knowing. When I finally found a mirror to go over the  mantel at a T.J. Max store for $20.00 I met the most awesome lady in the store and though we were both just customers at the same time, I feel GOD meant for us to meet.  She is a gem.

I enjoy this bathroom ,  mostly because when I look around me there are so many objects that remind me of someone special. And the tub is wonderful for soaking in the winter time cold, but nothing warms my heart more than the memory of how this old claw foot tub came to life  here on this farm.

 

 

 

 

Chasing Bunnies

A few months ago, after a long hard winter, I decided that our “Pet bunnies” had been prisoner long enough. They had almost burrowed themselves out of the nice room shed they had been able to dwell in all winter. It has a dirt floor and its previous tenant’s (turkeys) were very pleased with their housing.  These bunnies dug DEEP  holes in the ground till one actually dug enough  that it reached the other side of the wall and was free.

The Buck…is a deep brown and he is huge. I turned him loose before winter as they were multiplying like rabbits . haha. He has been free all this time, he is not afraid of us humans and he eats the scratch grain and feed right along side the chickens and cows and his life seems content.

With one escapee I figure I would set the other three grown bunnies free and let them really live. I cannot tell you how much I love looking out the windows or walking around the farmyard and seeing large fat bunnies frolicking in the yard. They are not afraid of us and my faithful dog Brutus does not touch them. I believe he wants to…but he knows better. He watches them and then looks at me as if I will grant him permission to “get em”.  Which I wont.

Funny things, a short 30-40 days later I look out the window and there are lots of little baby bunnies playing in the yard. I have counted about 9. The moms are all white with black or brown or tan spots and the buck is solid chocolate so you can imagine how sweet all these bunnies are.

Our older grandchildren from Syracuse Indiana came up for a visit a week ago, and second born Leah wanted a bunny. I told her they were basically wild and she would not be able to catch one. Her Dad…our Son….contributed to the conversation by stating “Leah, if you can catch one you can take it home”.

OH MY GOODNESS. That silly little girl wanted a bunny so bad. She would chase them under the farmers porch that is built onto our shop, from one end to another. I looked one time and she found a ten foot piece of plastic waterline and was trying to “coax” them out of hiding. I looked another time and she had gotten a small dog kennel out of the barn, had it set up at the end of the farmers porch and had gotten carrots out of my refrigerator to bait her trap with.  ALL DAY LONG she was in hot pursuit of those bunnies. She would run and chase them, she would lay on the ground and call them, at one point she begged to be able to crawl under the porch! lol

About 4 o’clock I decided to run to town and grab some dinner fixings…… As I was walking out the door  I heard Leah begging her Daddy to help her catch a bunny.  Finally Thom  give in and decided to try and help her catch one. He enlisted the help of Mommy,  along with her Uncle Josh and Uncle Jason. I couldn’t believe when I arrived back to the farm and found out they had in fact caught a little black and  white  bunny.  Before the next  hour was over they had another one. The persistence of  this small child was impressive to me.  She has grit at her young age.

The comical part of this whole scenario was watching their daddy (our son) build a make shift bunny cage to get them home it. He used rodent wire I had here as they could escape through the chicken wire…his cage looks exactly like a large mailbox. Round top…flat bottom. Its cute.

Days later, these are the photos their mom sent to me.  Leah and Savannah are spoiling these little bunnies. They hold them, cuddle them, feed them, and they are working hard at getting mom and dad to approve a liter box in the house and allow the bunnies to be like a cat. I am not so sure they are going to win that debate  but I know that those little bunnies are very special to those girls. And I learned a few precious things myself that day…..about a little girls desire for a bunny of her own and how hard she was willing to work to get it.

Leah and her Bunny

Leah and her Bunny

Savannah and her Bunny

UPDATE:  Both of these little bunnies died about a week later and our granddaughters were completely and utterly crushed. Nothing would do but Omie (me) had to put out an all points bulletin on facebook, and yard sale sight seeking bunnies.

Within hours I had found some healthy Californian Baby Bunnies that are used to being held and interacting with humans. The girls were thrilled and so was I.  As I had to care for them a week before we could connect bunnies with the children. Last report the bunnies were thriving. THeir Daddy on the other hand isn’t so happy and does not want to endure any more “bunny funerals”.  The old softy…

Sad to say ….Death in pets helps prepare children for the harsh reality of losing a person.

 

My Crazy ,Busy, Farm

Its  a little past ” Springtime o’clock” here on the farm. I can finally say the crops are in. This is no small feat when you see just how “Antiquated ” I really farm.  My equipment is old, and for being hunks of metal they all seem to have minds of their own. One moment they work very well and the next minute you repair 30 minutes for a 15 minute proper run.

I chisel plowed the fields, then  I run across them with a 14 foot OLD OLIVER disk, then I disk the field again  on a “Kitter” so that when I do plant my  planter markers can leave an imprint in the dirt that I can easily follow with  each round I make in hopes that the rows turn out straight.

MY John Deere planter is old. I love the girl. Bought it from an amish men down in Topeka Indiana. He assured me it worked fine. Well it does, for the most part but its those “little” parts that get wore our and don’t operate correctly that makes for a long …exhausting…yet a fulfilling day for me.

I get the planter out, and I fill the two large bins with dry fertilizer. Each bin holds 8 ..fifty pound bags.  Then I dump my seed corn into the four seed hoppers in the back and after I have checked the planter discs and hoses…etc. I am ready to go. I head to the field.  I  drop the planter and make 3-4 rounds as we plant off the ends first.  Then I plant as I am driving down the length of the field to get to the opposite side  so I can plant off that end. Then you plant back and forth always picking up the planter when you get to the end of your already planted rows…make your turn and as you drop the planter down each time to begin again the left or right marker is suppose to drop down also marking the spot for your next row.

That’s how it suppose to go.  My seed was going down uniformly….but I noticed the fertilizer wasn’t. The sprockets are turning but nothing is dropping down. I rationalize this out and think it will just take a few rounds to loosen up the mechanical parts. Wrong. Half a field later as I am driving in the hot sun, at a slow pace, I recall being about 12 years old and riding with my Dad while he was planting and he had the same issue. I also remember that he and I used coffee cans to empty the fertilizer bins back into  bags because he had put the augers in backwards and instead of auguring out the fertilizer it was mixing it within the bin. Shoot !  Now I go back to the barn, find a container and all the empty bags from the fertilizer and start to empty the dry fertilizer bag into the bags. This was exhausting.

t4               

Sure enough, the augers were put in backwards and were turning the dry fertilizers beads  into a fine pink powder.  I switched the augers…and refilled the bins with the bags of fertilizer again. Back to the field to finish planting. A few more rounds and still the fertilizer isn’t going down like it should. Drats!  I know from my cell phone that there is a rain coming by 6 or 7 p.m. and it sure would be great if I could get this field planted before the rain. Its perfect if it rains after you plant. I get off the tractor….mess with the fertilizer bins again and I see the bolts have sheared off from turning the wrong way so much, and pieces of the auger are broke off. Perfect. I make the “executive decision” to plant with the  dry fertilizer and I will break out the old “Galvanized Gobble Spreader” that mounts to the back of the tractor and will broadcast the fertilizer later.

Its about this time I should also tell you that every single time I get to the west end of the field I have to throw my tractor in neutral, jumped off the tractor and  walk around to the back of the planter and click a little pin that is suppose to let my RIGHT marker drop but the mechanism is wore out and I have to do it manually each time.  ARE YOU LAUGHING YET. Its a full blown procedure to farm this crazy way.  I had that field planted by 8 p.m.

Then I dig  the old Galvanized Spreader out from the back of the barn which hasn’t been used seriously in 20 years… and we spend two more hours getting it  mounted to the back of the tractor and the PTO loosed up. Saturday morning, again…I off load all the dry fertilizer out of the  fertilizer bins with a container….into their bags. I load those bags onto the back  of the pickup and drive it to the end of the field.  Now every couple rounds I stop, dump two bags into the spreader and broadcast the fertilizer the really old fashioned way.

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I know that my way of farming is so antiquated its almost humorous. Yet, it fills my heart with so much joy and contentment and peace. Its time consuming, I eat a lot of dirt and dust, my take in a lot of diesel fuel odor and I LOVE IT.    I feel that sustainable farming is even more important that ever. I Want to grow my own corn and hay to feed our cows, pigs, goats, sheep… so I know what went into them.  That’s  important to me.

And I farm in honor of  “Burt”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SKULLY …the charmed chicken

A farm is a busy place. No matter the size of acreage, or livestock. And sometimes its  easy for the small things to get overlooked or put off until later. Around my farm,  I am notoriously known for saying “I’ll get it later”.   Apparently I say this a lot. When it comes to prioritizing what needs to be get done, I hit the big, important  things hard,  and leave some of the smaller details to catch  later. I try to prioritize as best as one can living on a farm and fighting time and animals and dead lines.

Skully is a silly little bantam hen . We bought her, and about 30 others  at our local farm . One summer afternoon  I found her  in the coop beneath the other rapidly growing chickens.  She was  literally being  pecked to death by her coop mates.  I went in and picked her up. Her head was completely picked clean. There were no feathers, no skin, all you could see was her skull. Her whole head was just bone. It was a miserable hot August day and with her skull  exposed, the minute I sat her down on the ground she ran behind me and stood in the shadows of my legs. Everywhere I walked for the next  half hour she tried to follow . I honestly did not think she would survive with her entire skull open and nothing to cover it. Needless to say…she remained in the barn for most the summer of her own choosing.  (here she is healed, her feathers never returned).

Then this past February…I went out to do chores, and after completing  them for some odd reason I decided to do a bit of house cleaning. I was moving old feed bags, collecting them to burn, and organizing and suddenly out of the corner of my eye..i saw something hanging from the front axle of  my Oliver tractor. Upon closer look it was a chicken.

Here’s where it becomes hard to believe.   I walked over to get a closer look and  IF I HADNT KNOWN BETTER…I would swear someone came into my barn and did this. Poor Skully had gotten into to string somewhere,  and she had it all twisted around her legs, with  probably about a four inches  of twine in between both  her feet. She must have been able to jump from the  ground and was going to perch on the front tire of the tractor. Whether she fell asleep or got startled I am not sure, but she must have lost her balance and literally hung herself upside down with that string perfectly  over the tie rod.   She was motionless. I gasped and pulled her up. She wasn’t moving. The whites of her eyes were all red. There is no telling how long she had hung upside down. I scurried around and found a utility knife, cut the string which was a long endeavor and I held her close to my coat  for a long time.  About 25 minutes she started holding her own head up but it would fall back down every time she tried to keep it up. Another few minutes she was holding her head finally but couldn’t walk…..more time passed. I finally set her up on a barrel away from everything and other chickens walking about the barnyard and gave her some feed to nibble on and just hoped for the best.

Two hours later this what I found.  She was still sitting on the barrel, and she was eating. Mind you she is not a pretty bird,  but her story of survival is sweet and down right encouraging.

About  a month later, …..much to my delight she came walking out of the sheep barn  with two little black chicks following close behind her. She followed me until I tossed a hand full of feed in front of her.  Apparently she has found safety in dwelling with the sheep. She eats out of their dish and drinks from their water .

This is a crazy little farm story…about a silly little black bantam hen, but happenings  like this that keep  my heart and mind alert to all the blessing that are always around me. Even the smallest details need attention in a fast paced busy world.

UPDATE 2015 (July)

Skully has survived and thrived the winter. This year she has raised two sets of baby chicks so far. She is still a very appreciative bird and doesn’t fear me at all, she is a very protective mama hen and each day I count her chicks to be sure she hasn’t lost any.  I STILL KNOW and UNDERSTAND that a goofy chicken is pretty insignificant in a world gone mad, but it still delights me that she has fought such a gallant fight , beat the odds and still here.

Skully 2015

YET…UPDATE  MARCH 2016

Skully

Skully made it through another long winter. We do not house these chickens. They are free to roam and roost in the barns.  For the last two nights when I do chores I hear a lot of clucking and I turn around to see Skully. She is waiting for me to shell some ear corn and toss it on the ground for her. She is really a charmed Chicken for sure. She is sitting on a nest already.  I believe,  she truly knows me because  she never runs from me and talks back when I talk to her.  Her skull is still bald from when I first saved her but she has sure soldiered on in the barnyard.

 

Drinking from my Saucer for my cup has overflowed.

QUESTIONS without answers.

REASONS we may never know.

Why does GOD answer “yes”, “Not at this time” or “ I have a better plan”.

Every day I try to remember to ALWAYS be grateful and appreciate all that is before me and around me. Something is always lurking in the back ground of the day waiting to steel your love, your joy, your calm. We struggle and hustle to make ends meet and pretty soon we (I) end up in what I refer to as my “Robot Mode”…where I am functioning like a machine but not living in the moments with my whole heart and wide awake.

Tragedies generally make all of us step back and reevaluate our lives. Makes us promise ourselves to slow down, take time to breathe and really be awake. Kinder, softer, more loving, easier to forgive and let go of grudges.

This last Mother’s Day, we were blessed to have our three grown children here, their spouses, and all ten grandbabies. It was a full blown loud, crazy fun filled day. We grilled out, the children played in their two story playhouse with 3 slides, the guys pulled the corn planter out of the barn and greased it up so I can plant the fields if the rain stops. After several attempts with the help of the oldest 5 grand kids, the men also ended up helping us corral the sheep. (I haven’t seen our son Thom sprint across a field since his high school days).

At the end of this day, I was presented with a VIDEO of my life. Thomas and Brandy sat down and created the most heartwarming….sweet video. There was not a dry eye in this house including Papa. And the poor little kids kept looking all around and asking “Why is everybody crying”. It was precious.

The thing is, when I was fighting cancer, I remember Brandy ( our daughter in law)  was carrying our first grandchild.  I was so sick and so exhausted (mentally and physically) from all the treatments and doctoring and existing from one apt to another for over an entire year I didn’t think I would be here to see BENJAMIN THOMAS  born. I stood in my kitchen on Sunday and though I would like to think that I am appreciate to God from whom all my blessing flow I was in complete awe that I have ten grandbabies and I have the joy, pleasure, and blessing of KNOWING and HUGGING on each and every one of them. I am so Grateful that we have been able to watch our own children grow up, to see the people they became. Strong, sincere, wise, kind, loving…. well rounded people that we would want to know if they weren’t our own babies.

Benjamin Fishing Ben …..and 9 more grandbabies since him.

Once again I realized…….I’ve done nothing here on Earth to deserve the beautiful life that stood before me and FILLED OUR KITCHEN on Sunday Evening with so much love, and warmth towards one another.

I’m drinking from my saucer for  my cup has overflowed.