Tag Archives: God’s gifts

What In The Heck Is A Lawn?

Life is busy here on the farm.  The grass is slowing down though.  It’s only growing a foot a day instead of two.  Woah.  It was intense there for a while.  Do you ever wonder why we fertilize our yards so that we can cut them more often.  I want to feed my yard a growing agent so I can cut my grass 2 – 3 times a week.  What?  Are we nuts?  Do I have that much free time?   Does that sound funny to you as it does to me?  And now that I have moved from the suburbs, I feed weeds so that I can cut them more often.   Which brings me to the next question.   How and where was it   determined that  one plant species holds more value than another to fill space and to color our lawn.  What is wrong with clover filling the space in my lawn (which is what we have) as opposed to grass?

Last year our newly established yard was filled with crab grass.  It was coming in lush and beautiful.  I said that this was good.  I wanted crab grass to take over my lawn.  It had long reaching roots and it was thick and looked great cut.  But for some reason it didn’t come back lush and beautiful as last year and clover has taken the driver seat.  I would bet  money that if I was still in the burbs, that crabgrass would have come back full bore, don’t you?  Why is a blade of green better than a 3 or 4 leaf clover?

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Bottom line.  I ain’t spraying my lawn for weeds.  We just have to love what we get.

Other cool things that are happening…. Apples and blueberries are growing on our plants.  Imagine that.  Did I know that apples grew on trees?  Hmm.

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I feel fairly certain that these buggers will not look as beautiful as this for very long.  Keeping my fingers crossed.

Blueberries grow on bushes, I have discovered.

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We have to put netting over the bushes here in a few days or weeks so birds will not eat them.   I am very very protective of my blueberry bushes.  I am not willing to share.

Last but not least, our sweet Virginia had surgery today.  It is a total bummer.  We bought a dog for the first time in our life from a “Champion bloodline” breeder.  The poor girl has had nothing but trouble and has been under the weather since we got her.   She has Entropian.  Her eye lids roll inward causing inflammation and infection in her eyes.  The  vet man said that she inherited it from her champion mom or dad.  Thanks  champion Mom and Dad.  He also said worse case ever.  ugh.   She came home with one of those cone collars on her head and she WILL kill herself or me.  She is going to rip her head off and/or cut my legs off at the knees.

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She is very very sad.   We just pray the surgery will work and give her eyes some relief.

 God bless our sweet Virginia.   The Rolling Stones sing a great song called Sweet Virginia.

Have a super weekend.

God bless,

Karen

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Goin’ On A Moon Hunt.

In the evening , we love to head out to see the night sky.   I wander to the barn between 9 and 10 to put the lovelies to bed.  Snuggle snuggle them all in their little nests.  When I close the barn door, there is such a peace and calm.  All thinking about their adventures of the day, which probably looks much like the day before and the day before and….. I wonder if they like routine as much as I do.  They are probably plotting a coup over at Cowboy Bob’s.   Or better yet the other guy’s digs.

The sky.  It is beautiful day and night.  A little disappointing that we can see the light pollution from two towns, but way off in the distance.  When we moved here I thought we were miles and miles away from civilization.   8 miles to the nearest anything.  You can imagne my disappointment the first night of camping, lying all snug in my sleepaing bag, listening to the June bugs, when out of the blue  a Harley roared by.  And then a semi truck trailor.  What the heck was that??  I didn’t move far enough away.

First time camping on new property.  2007

First time camping on new property 2007

First bathroom on new property.

First bathroom on new property.

After years now of living in an environment that is wonderfully quiet,  my ears can pick up strange noises very easily.  I can hear the train clearly that runs 10 miles north of here.

So off on the moon walk.  One evening in the past few weeks, I spied a big beautiful ball coming up over the ridge in between two trees. Pops had just gotten home from work.  Poor guy pulls up at dusk after long day probably starving half to death and I made him go on the moon hunt up, up, up.   Our ridge climb ain’t for the faint of heart.

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But of course the Tick and Tack are always up for an adventure.  Frick and Frack.  This and That.

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Do your cats go on walks with you?  Ours always have for some reason.  Seems odd to me.

How can something be so beautiful?  How can the moon and the twinkling what nots show up for the game over and over and over again, night after night?

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It is beyond my comprehension.

On the way back down from the moon hunt, I took this photo… No idea how.  Freaky, eh?  It kinda looks like an etched drawing.  Someday, I am going to learn how to take a photo in a meaningful way.  In the meantime, I just move buttons and shoot.  Dont know what buttons nor what direction I am moving them.

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Cabin on ridge.

It is a beautiful day to behold.

I have a friend that asks me all the time:  What are you grateful for today?

I ask you.

God bless,

Karen

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What Are Your Love Requirements?

While in the hospital with Grandma Jo this past week, we had an opportunity to talk about A LOT.   All awhile, she lay there sleeping peacefully.   She always  loved us gathered.    You will agree that times like these bring people together in the most intimate way.

One day we discussed the five love languages.   The author, Gary Chapman,  writes about them in one of his books.   It really helps me understand the needs of my loved ones.  AND  my needs.   The needs of my loved ones aren’t necessarily the needs of my own.  That was a certain revelation.

FIVE LOVE LANGUAGES

DO YOU FEEL THE MOST LOVED WHEN:

1.  You are verbally affirmed?  For example:  I love you.  Or .. You look beautiful today.

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2.  You are physically touched affectionately?

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3.  When people do nice things for you?

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4.  You are with the people who you love?

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5. When you receive/give gifts?

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One of these languages typically touch us more than the rest.   What I need to remember is that just because one language is not important to me and doesn’t make me feel one way or another, it may be the most important language in the life of a loved one.  If receiving gifts is not a big deal on my list it may be on yours.  I need to be conscious of that.    Or  while hearing “I love you” ten times a day  isn’t necessary for you to feel secure,   a huge hug daily might be just what the doctor ordered.

Being conscious of others language, be sure to let your people know what your language is too.   You are as important as the next guy.

Ya think the world’s problems will be solved then?

In the last week, we have seen an outpouring of  love with the passing of our Mom, Grandma, Mother-in-law.   All five love languages were brought to the table.  It was incredible.

God bless,

Karen

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Where’s The Beef?

The Shieling has hijacked the beef.

When Pops came home with the hijacked beef,  the scene became something out of an I Love Lucy episode.   Lucy was making a special dish and ordered a side of beef thinking  a small package was going to be delivered to her door.  She freaked when the side of beef was a mere more than a pound of hamburger.   She knew Ricky (is that is his name?) would have a fit so she stuffed it in the incinerator in the basement to hide the evidence for a while.  Hours later, they all wondered who was grilling out.   If I had had an incinerator, I may have resorted to the same thing.  There was SO much meat coming into our house, I wanted to stuff it in closets, under couches, in pillow cases.  Instead, I was on the phone with Lowes at 9:00pm ordering yet another freezer.  I  kept searching online for someone to tell me a whole cow could fit into 15 cubic ft. freezer.  As you know, if you search  hard enough,  you will find the answer you want to hear.   Bad answer.  We have an upright large freezer, and TWO chest freezers full of cow.   By the way, on the phone with Lowes at 9 pm, delivered to my barn by 9:00am the following morn.  I love my Lowes.   I love beef too.

We ordered our cow  not to be trimmed of the fat.  Oh my goodness, is it good.  Maybe that is why our freezers are busting.  Did you know beef fat is very good for you?  It’s not what we hear from all the people “in the know” but…….my sources say right farmer + raised with care  = good fat.   I am well into middle age, eat tons  of good fat, not overweight,  my cholesterol and triglycerides are better than better.  I’m going to believe my sources.  Weston Price Foundation.  Their word makes sense to me.  We keep blaming healthy food on our bad health.  Sugar?  Processed foods?  Fake food?  Over eating or drinking?  I can’t go there today.  It is a day of celebration.

We had them package the hamburger into 1 lb. packages.  We have 230 of them.  This is insane.  Do you know how big a cow liver is?

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But glory be, we have succeeded in something here.  It tastes as good as the best beef I have tasted.  We kept one whole cow at the insistence of my “shady”( but really.. sunny)  friend.  And we sold one cow to four friends.  It is wonderful (and a relief) to hear our good friend,  Dan, who is ALL about food, call every time he puts it to his lips, to express his love.  Come to think of it, he has been eatin’ some beef lately. We have been hearing from him quite often.  Oh well.  We love him.

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It still blows my mind that Pops and I have raised a cow.

We have had lots of goofs and blunders and what-have-yous since this glorious journey began.  But I can already look back upon the blood, sweat, tears, but mostly laughter,  at the going ons around here,  with so much fondness, love and gratefulness.

I am really good at run on sentences, aren’t I?   My English teachers would cringe if they knew I actually wrote something that others read.  I use commas like they are dust particles.  They must be free.

Come on down for some beef sometime.  We would love to have you join us around our table.  Bring a beef recipe when you come.  And if you can’t come, send us a recipe anyway,  please.  Have any favorites you would like to share?

God bless,

Karen

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What? Viva il Papa?

The Pope lives.  Ok.  The Pope lives.

What does that mean for us Catholics and really for the rest of the world.

Pops and I have talked a little bit, not too much,  about the  coming of the new pope.  We both were in agreement that it would be really great to see a pope from a different part of the world.  A part where  the passion for Catholicism might be greater?  A new perspective?  I have observed the Latin Americans and their devotion to their church and their Holy Mother, Jesus and the whole ball of wax.  I admit I have been envious at times of their sheer love and loyalty to the Holy Family.   I want to weezle my way in to the very core of it.   Eye to eye with our Holy Father.

So, we are grateful for their decision.  It brings hope in my heart that huge healing can take place not just among the Catholics who feel hurt and betrayal but also the  population of our world.  Any shift in the atmosphere can bring hope, cant it?  If we somehow can pry ourselves from the glue that keeps us stuck to the chair of negativity and cynicism?  From what I have heard in the short 24 hours since I have even heard of this man from Argentina, I am elated, and again, hopeful.   He appears to be a man of humility and a down to earth man who actually lives among the “little” people.  Took the bus to work everyday from his little apartment until just recently when he traveled to Italy to become the pope.  I think he was referred to something like the ” Cardinal on wheels” because people could always find him on the city bus where they could converse.   This morning he traveled to his hotel to pack his little bag by himself (well, as best  he can now) and paid his hotel bill himself with his own money.  This speaks to me.

BUT I couldn’t have been more pleased that he chose the name Francis for his title.  Let me see, do we like Francis of Assisi?

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I received this statue  from my aunt’s possessions who passed away this past year.

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We have a lovely St. Francis sculpture adorning our living space that brings me great pleasure.  Just a peaceful dude.

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St. Francis stands guard at our massive beech tree in the  woods.  In his life he had a huge sprawling beech tree where he frequently went for silent prayer.   And from what I hear that tree still stands in Italy.

IMG_0349 Our little Great Pyrenees that we got for Christmas to guard our goats was named Francis for the beloved saint.

IMG_3391 Our two-year old Great Pyr’s name is Clare for St. Clare of Assisi, who worked alongside St. Francis.

Pops and I have recited the St. Francis Prayer every night before closing our eyes for the last 6 or 7 years.  (see below)

Yeah.  We hold him in great esteem.  Why?

For us, he is a man of great love for the littleness of people and creatures of our world.   When I think of that man I see he is  the epitome of humility, gentleness and humanness.   I imagine he took great care that love was spread and felt by all.  Not just the haves.  But most importantly, the have nots.   I imagine he was much like Jesus in that way.  He took great care to love animals and I think he saw God in each and every creature.  We would like to be like him.   He’s a great role model.

Pope Francis, given his choice to live life in Argentina among the littlest of people, must hold some similar values in his pocket.   I rejoice in that.

If he can bring healing and love as the leader of the  Catholic church, then I believe  that can resonate through our world.  We are a hurting world,  both inside and outside the church.   All we want is love.  We want to feel  and be loved.

Now I must  run outside and tell my little Francis and Clare the good news.  They have a pope named after them.

ST. FRANCIS PRAYER

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace,

Where there is hatred, let me sow love,

Where there is injury, pardon.

Where there is doubt, faith.

Wehr there is despair, hope.

Where there is darkness, light.

Where there is sadness, joy.

O divine Master,  grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console, to be understood as to understand, to be loved as to love.

For it is in giving that we receive.  It is in pardoning that we are pardoned, and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.  Amen. 

God bless,

Karen

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Helloooo…

I went missing in action for a while.   I think I was overcome by smoke from the sugar shack.  Truly.   That whole thing was an experience that will probably be repeated (again and again).   It is just SO good.   Much like having a baby.  We forget the pain involved when it’s all over and we actually want to have another after the pain and agony of delivery.   It is very time-consuming and I’m not sure my physical health can withstand standing next to a wood fire for 10 hours at a time.  I have not felt great the last week and am quite positive the boiling had something to do with it.   The second day I had to resort to using a respirator.  We boiled for 7 days and got 30 or so bottles.

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We have some design issues  to contend with this year in planning for next year.   Note the canopy that is trashed on the side in photo.  I purchased the thing two weeks ago to save me and the fire from rain and two inches of snow destroyed it.   ugh.

Life can get a bit messy, cant it?

Which brings me to what is going on in my little pea brain.

We all have to make REALLY HARD decisions some times.  I have a friend who is in that process right now.   Sometimes our decisions make messes of our lives.  And other times, the decisions we make clean up those messes.  The rest of the decisions usually fall somewhere in the middle where we have to feel them and ride them and grow with and by them.

And as we stand by  others as they contemplate decisions,  we  want to  input and many times try to control their decision.

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change.   Please, help me accept other’s decisions.

How do we come to the decisions we make?  I’m not talking about what to have for dinner.  I’m talking about the biggies.  The ones that form us into who we are and who we have to live with.

Barnes and Noble is stocked full of books on how to’s and self-help.  I have spent years with my nose in books trying to get someONE or someTHING to give me a clue as to who I am supposed to be morally.

Do we know right from wrong innately?  Do we need to be taught right from wrong?

Who do we depend on to give us a moral guideline for right and wrong?  Our parents?  Our political officers?

Do we CARE what is right or wrong?  Do we make decisions in the wind and let them fly where they may?  Let someone else pick up the pieces?

Seriously, folks.  I am asking.  What are we doin’ here?

As I  navigate these questions that burn holes in my heart,  I am inclined to believe that …….do any of us know how to be right and wrong on our own?   Where can we go to check our moral decisions?  How can we be sure that what we are choosing to do, does not hurt ourselves and others?  Does it matter?

Somewhere,  there is a definitive guide to moral judgement.  Wisdom.  God, give. it. to. me. .

Prayer.  Grace.

Since I quit drinking, and began to really delve into these questions,  I have often said that Barnes and Noble can lay one book on the curb and shut their doors.  100 percent of the answers lie in one book.   The Bible.   The day that I decided that I cannot trust  the decisions that I make and I cannot trust the word of others and that the  moral compasses of all of us are spinning round and round wildly, was the day I decided that ANY decision that I make,  I will confer with my “self-help” Book first.   It is consistent, reliable, true and predictable.  I do not have to question the validity.  EVER.  And for that I am more grateful than I can tell you.

Very,  very sorry for my heavy today.  My heart is heavy.  Heavy.   If you are so inclined to pray, please pray for my friend today.

God bless,

Karen

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Off On Another We-Dont-Know-What-We-Are-Doing Adventure

But these little fellers are ready and waiting.  They don’t care, they just want to participate.  IMG_4385

I wish I was childlike enough to want to participate not having any idea what the event was.  I could learn a lesson or two from my animals who trust in me to guide them without question.  I want to  do that with God, but for some reason I think I should be in the driver’s seat with the control panels.  EVERY time  I get in the back seat with my animals and let go and let God,  life is better.   And fruitful.   Not always easy.  But it sure lightens my burden a ton.

But we are off to the sugar bush.  What did I just say?  Never used those words until now, but like I said, new adventure using words I’ve never used.  We are tapping some of our maples to make Shieling Maple Syrup.  Found in a grocery near you.  Well, maybe someday.  Not in this lifetime.   Last year we went out to pick our Maples and realized it was a little difficult to do in the winter since there are no leaves on the trees for identification.  This past summer, I actually had a moment of forethought and skidaddled out there to mark the trees.

We are on track for something.

Sugaring season is about a 4-6 week period beginning in mid to late February.  From what I read and hear, we tap the trees when the temperatures reach  40’s-50 during the day and sink below freezing at night.  This is the ideal environment for the sap to run up and down the tree  getting ready for who knows what.  I will let you know when I know.   Probably getting ready to fruit and leaf out and all that wonderful stuff trees do in the Spring.  Tapping the trees is the easy part.  It took me all of an hour to tap 10 trees.

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I then hung two gallon plastic bags on to the spouts.

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And then, we wait.   I tapped the trees two days ago.  Yesterday, each bag had about 1/2 cup of sap.  The temperatures were not high enough for much activity.  We are expecting some good solid 40’s in the coming days, so we should be in business.  But who knows.  I read that when temps reach high 40’s -50’s the sap can just pour.  That would be a sight.

The hard part is gathering the sap into 5 gallon buckets to place over a wood fire outside and watching it boil down into luscious syrup.  It takes 40 gallons of sap to make 1 gallon of syrup. It takes A LONG time to get there.  Days, my friend.  Days.  Someone has to be on hand to feed the fire.  My goal is to get 2 gallons of syrup.  Is that a reasonable goal with 10 trees and the time we have to stand by the fire?  I have no idea.  We’ve never done this before.  But I can tell you that little Virginia and Samdog are goin’ to be lovin’ it.   That means major time with Mom and Dad in the coming days.

The highlight of our tree tapping day was the game that the dogs (and Farmer Bob) played with an opossum.  It was the first time I have ever seen an opossum play dead.  It was alive and well then just rolled over.  At first I thought, “oh not, that opossum is not right.  Something is terribly wrong”.  But then remembered that is what they do.  Oh yeah.  I forgot.

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I hope our efforts bear wonderful fruits.  How do you keep a fire burning for days on end and get anything else done?  hmm.

God bless,

Karen

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