Sunday, January 30, 2011

First Day Musings -- Every day is a miracle

We can see a thousand miracles around us every day. What is more supernatural than an egg yolk turning into a chicken? S. Parkes Cadman

The past few days have been challenging and, yet, joyous to see how miracles unfold.

1.) Marvel how a man can live for many days while his brain bleeds.
2.) Celebrate an unknown child's simple infection instead of grieve the suspected cancer.
3.) Discover a simple antibiotic can give a kitty back its jump.
4.) Dance in the sunshine of a glorious winter day.
5.) Rejoice that the wrecked car was not a student sent home early because of bad weather.
6.) Rejoice that the same wrecked car didn't result in injury of the unknown driver.
7.) Amazement after following the request of Him and finding the reward returned four times over.
8.) Relishing surprise packages from friends made but never seen in person.
9.) Giggling an afternoon away with gal pals.
10.) Breathing.

What a glorious life we live. We just have to notice. They are all around us. Miracles.

Saturday, January 29, 2011


Ed is doing well, but will be in ICU a few more days. His procedure was more involved than we expected. However, he ate a little today and was his usual grumpy self. Improvements!

Thanks for the thoughts and prayers!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Prayers Please

My dearest friend, Eleanor's husband Edward (who is 70) was carrying a nearly frozen calf to the calf barn when he slipped on ice and fell, hitting his head hard enough that it bounced. He refused to go to the doctor; yesterday, he started having coordination issues. Today, he couldn't tie his shoes. Eleanor insisted that he see the doctor. In short, he has blood on the brain and has been taken by ambulance to the teaching hospital two hours from here. The doctor told Ed as the EMTs loaded him, "You could die today."

We are waiting to hear the news. The family is with them while we sit here praying. Won't you? Thanks.

Update: Ed has surgery in the morning at 7. The doctor there repeated the other's words: "You could die today." He will stay in ICU until after the procedure. Thanks for your prayers!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

I Can't Put My Arms Down

Getting dressed to go to the barn is one of those tasks that I dread. I start out with what I have on --- usually sweat pants, turtle neck, and wool socks. On goes the insulated red coveralls -- well, mostly red. I confess. Even when I wash them, there are still stains on the knees where I get on them to do things in the barn or to reach an egg that is Just This Much Out of Reach.

Then, the "Go For A Hike" sweatshirt gets pulled over top -- complete with stains from muddy hooves that were trimmed and won't wash out and sleeves a little too long and rolled up. It is too big, but it is perfect over my coveralls.

Next, I struggle to reach down to pull on my 4" top barn boots. These I love because they are warm and Stay Tied... My other boots didn't and I was forever falling over the laces.

Add to this ensemble a handwoven cotton muffler, made by Evelyn, to keep my neck snug and dry. It has to be put on BEFORE the coat and AFTER the sweatshirt so that it won't flop out every time I bend over. I have been tangled up by the neck with goats and fences. I don't recommend this!

Next, a quilted jacket that I bought about 18 years ago is pulled on. It fit better then, but most of the buttons still close, so I am happy about that. It has a certain barn funk that no amount of washing will get out. In fact, the Mister suggests that I wash all my barn clothes "separate." I think the buck smell stays with them even in the wash...

On my head goes one of three kinds of hats, depending on the weather -- either a hand knit "Dairy Queen" hat (pattern: Elizabeth Zimmerman); a store boughten hat a neighbor gave me which is very frilly and not at all me, but the goats like it; or a Winnie-the-Pooh ski band. Sometimes, it is a combination of two of these. My head looks rather like a cotton swab if I wear the boughten hat and ski band, but no one cares. The goats are only after me for my grain and not my looks.

Spare gloves go into the pocket with my wonderful Case knife the Mister gave me for a birthday a few years ago (how many women ask for a pocket knife, btw?). I usually end up with terribly wet gloves for some reason during the winter, so I need at least two pair each feeding.

Heavy red fur lined leather gloves go on the hands. They are a little too big, I have small hands, but are perfect because I can wear knit gloves under them for extra warmth.

By this time, I have to sit down and rest. The heck of it is, I have on so many clothes that if I get on my knees in the barn, I have to crawl to the knee wall so I can pull myself up. Once I fell in the yard and had to roll down the hill to the duck house so I could pull myself up on the door. I so get the "I've fallen and can't get up" commercial. The worst thing is that I know the goats giggle at my attire. And heaven help me if I have to use the potty after getting dressed.

When will spring come??

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

I love a joke...

A man walked into work on Monday with a black eye. His boss asked what happened.

The man said, "I was sitting behind a big woman at church. When we stood up to sing hymns, I noticed that her dress was caught in her crack, so I pulled it out. She turned around and glared at me."

"Where did you get the shiner?" the boss asked.

"Well," the man said, "I figured she didn't want it out, so I pushed it back in."

Isn't laughter the best medicine?

Monday, January 24, 2011

Tuckered Out

Hopefully all the sins have been found out in the barn and there will be no more kids this year.... unless Clarice has one in the oven and isn't showing it yet. I hope not.

Final tally:

Does: 5 (Lilac, Layla, Apple, Mollie, and Mara)
Buck: 3 (Charlie, Chuck, and Abe)

Pictures to come. I'm pooped...

Note to self: Talk to the does about responsible behavior whilst the Woman is gone.... just say "nooooooo..."

Sunday, January 23, 2011

First Day Musings -- Seven-Year-Old Wisdom

The past three weeks have been a blur of weather, babies, back to work, delays, cancellations, water issues, and both parents sick (Daddy has Bell's palsy and pneumonia; Mother has bronchitis). I don't know if I am coming or going. I even forget the names of the most simple things like "glass" or "plate." Or "Matty." In short, I am dead dog tired.

We had arranged to have friends to dinner on Friday, but I was just too tired to do it so we shifted to Saturday. It was a simple dinner that could cook unsupervised while I was taking care of Mary and checking babies -- corn pudding, roast w/ potatoes, onions, celery, spelt biscuits and, for dessert, chocolate chip cookies. When our friends arrived, I was still in barn clothes and getting the biscuits in the oven. I rushed around to get the biscuits in; we went to see the babies; and then, came in for dinner.

While we were eating, our seven-year-old Princess, Miss Corrie, said, "Let's have a tea party with our cookies, Matty!" She was so excited and it was such a simple thing...

"Yes," I replied. "Let's do!"

I pulled out a collector Lennox Winnie-the-Pooh tea pot, four collector mugs, and a silver plate on which I placed a paper doily. The children put the cookies very artistically on the plate while I brewed some Candy Cane Lane tea and scooped up honey for our sweetening. We came to the living room, lit some candles, and giggled and gossiped as we nibbled cookies and sipped our tea.

It was perfect.

Later, as I cleaned up our dinner and tea party, I reflected on our evening. It dawned on me that special moments are those we create in the spaces while we are creating big moments. There was nothing difficult in our tea party... a few cookies, some tea, some pretty dishes... dishes, btw, that I have never used, but decided last night that I was tired of 'saving'.

Joy comes from learning to make the ordinary less ordinary. It comes from finding the beautiful in the moment and not waiting for complicated plans to come together. It is a tea party with two darling children, Winnie-the-Pooh, chocolate chip cookies, and Candy Cane Lane tea.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Suck it up

Conversation overheard in the barn last night...
Annabell, our resident drama queen: I am in LABOR; it HURTS. I am suffering like no one else has in the history of the world! This is terrible!

Mia, the resident midwife: Go lie down and breath. It will be faster that way.

Annabell, charging out the stall door and turning to the does in the loafing yard: Look at me! Look! I am dying here! It isn't my fault! Oh My Goodness! I am dying...

Me: Annabell, you are shaming yourself. Get back in the barn and have these babies.

Annabell: Isn't anyone listening? I am dying, I tell you! I can't stand this! No one told me it was going to be like this.

Mia: Lie down and breath, for crying out loud. I'm a pygmy and I don't carry on like you do. Breath!

Annabell: You don't understand. I hurt more than you do because it is ME!

Mia: Breath. Suck it up and shut up.

Annabell: OH MY GOSH! This can't be happening!

Mia said nothing. She was done.

So was I.

We have another doe and buck --- Apple and Abe. Pictures to come...

Monday, January 17, 2011

Career Choice

Mary had to have a C-section tonight; she has a darling little doe that she refuses to nurse. We are keeping her in and watching both of 'em. I welcome any advice to get her to settle down with her wee one. I am worried sick.

In the meantime....

Teaching English was the RIGHT choice for me. I didn't throw up, pass out, or cry. However, as we stood there with our feet soaked in blood (all but the vet had left for the day so I helped the vet and the Mister handed her sutures), I realized that teaching English is a good thing. For the next few years, when I think of quitting, I am going to remember tonight. That should do it.

Baby count:

Does: 2
Bucks: Nada! Hooray!

UPDATE: Went out to the barn and collected all the drainage from Mary and wiped it on the baby (bleh) and then squirted Mary's milk all over the baby. She started cleaning, nudging, and whispering to her. I think she is going to be okay now. Sigh. What a relief! Thanks, Tonia! Did I mention it is SNOWING again?

Sunday, January 16, 2011

First Day Musings -- Frittering Away

Our life is frittered away by detail... Simplify, simplify, simplify! ... Simplicity of life and elevation of purpose. ~ Henry David Thoreau

These past two weeks as I have run madly through the days feeding stoves, goats, cows, chickens, husband, cats, dogs, fish, birds.... sigh... I have thought a great deal about what it means to "simplify." I think most folks belief that it means to give up the so-called comforts of home. You know, things like cell phones, full time jobs, and cable TV. Not that these things are good for me. But, there is the secret. What is good for you?

For me, it doesn't mean any of these things. I have finally clarified what it means to live simply. For me, it means to live life in such as a way as to leave space for the things that are important to ME and no one else. In short, it means to make better choices, spend my time more wisely, and being more focused on what my life's path is meant to be.

Let's face it. These things are not simple:

Baking bread.
Hanging clothes on the line.
Milking goats or cows.
Gathering eggs and feeding the flock.
Making dinner instead of buying it.
Writing letters.
Preserving food.
Raising a garden.
Making soap.

It is much easier, isn't it, to go to the store, and, as Mother puts it, buy it for a lot less than I can make it and certainly in much less time. However, this doesn't make my heart sing. Doing it, making it, working it, does. My path is to create what I enjoy and desire. It is to connect in a meaningful way with each thing in my life. My handknit socks are much warmer, fit better, and are more reflective of me in colour and style than the thin, workshop made socks I buy at Wallie World for $4 / 12. Each time I slip my handknits on, I can feel them snug my feet; I can admire the workwomanship and can be proud that I did this myself. In short, I have the satisfaction of my creation. I can feel the same satisfaction that Our Father did when, on the sixth day, He stood back, put His hands on His hips, and said proudly, "This is Good."

And so, there we have what it means to be simple to me. It means giving myself the freedom and space to choose the things that are important to me. Location doesn't make my life simple. How I eat or what I buy doesn't make me simple. It is the fact that I am living my life authentically, making the choices that give me satisfaction, that makes my life simple. And, believe me, the day I can afford it (read: house paid for), I will no longer hold a public job! What a fine life that would be! In the meantime, my goal is to have a singing heart every day and rejoice in living my version of a simple life.

What does it mean to live simply to you?

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Waiting Room Blues

Expectant fathers were forbidden to enter the inner sanctum of childbirth until the early 1980s. I was one of the first at our local hospital to have a husband present AND natural childbirth. Next to giving up caffeine, this was probably one of the most trying times of my life.

Until now.

We are waiting. Three does are are nearly ready to explode. Obviously, as Hawthorne rather obviously demonstrates in The Scarlet Letter, your sins will find you out. And, the does mishaviour while we were visiting the Airman in August is becoming all to apparent.

Holly, our Dexter, demonstrated this same truth on Monday. After several months of wondering, "Is she or isn't she?" we found out she was. She presented us with a darling bull just as we arrived home. He wasn't even cleaned off yet. I'll post a photo as soon as I can get one.

Meanwhile, don't fret if you hear a "boom!" from the South. The explosion you hear will be my head... and having to deal with a bunch of January kids. This was not the plan. Thanks, girls. Mean it.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

We Need Time Apart

Dear Winter,

There comes a time in every relationship when one of the partners needs a break from the other. It could be as short of a time as taking a bath without someone asking a single question. Or, it could be a day with one's Sissie shopping at Ikea (which rocks! Free Breakfast!). Or it could be a weekend spent with gal pals sipping tea, gossiping, and watching sappy movies. Regardless, one needs a little break now and again to keep the relationship fresh and less stressful.

We have come to this point.

I know, I know. You have always been my favorite time of year, next to summer, mostly because I can wear wool Every Day without anyone thinking I am a bit odd. I adore the sound of snow under my feet, the look of it floating to the ground, the joy of a snow day spent by the fire with knitting in hand. You always bring the best holidays -- Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year's Day -- the best days of the year for eating and companionship. There is even something delicious in how you decorate all outdoors with slender branches tickling the Carolina Blue sky. Ah, dearest Winter, we have something special.

But, my precious, you have asked too much from me this year. This is the third week of temperatures below 30-degrees all day. The roads have been untreated for the ice and snow, thus, we haven't been able to get out and even our Mail Carrier couldn't get in for most of the last two weeks. It isn't entirely your fault, I know, the state budget is partially to blame. But, all the same, you must accept some responsibility. Every night, we have had to feed, feed, feed everything on the place and haul water, gallons and gallons of water, to all the animals. Even Mr. Hardy has gotten somewhat selfish and demanded more wood than we thought possible for him to consume. Frankly, he has been like tending a three-week-old baby who is on a two hour nursing schedule.

So, darling Winter, may we have a little time apart? Perhaps you would enjoy going to Canada just for a few days? I hear they love you even more than I do. I can have you packed in five minutes. What do you say?

As ever,


Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Cold Turkey Ain't For Chickens

So, let's start at the beginning. I broke my neck 15 years ago in a fall. At the time, I weighed a very lovely 14.2 stones, to be exact. When I woke from surgery, my darlin' neurologist said, "You must lose at least 50 pounds." I, being the over achiever I am (remember: my word for the year is Moderation), I lost a bit more.

Now, here I am, 15 years later and have allowed a portion of the weight to creep back on. Not much, but enough. Add to that the fact this year a number of folks near and dear to me have had their own serious health issues -- breast cancer, heart attacks, ruptured bowel, high blood pressure, diabetes and so forth -- and you can see that it seems that a warning bell is going off around me that I need to be more Moderate in my lifestyle.

Thus, I have given up caffeinated coffee and tea as well as reduced my sweets by 75%. Did I mention that I love all three?? And, have I mentioned that I now have a monster headache that seems to be my own special friend? On top of that, I am now having weird dreams which, I am convinced, stems from my lack of drugs -- er, coffee, tea, and sweets.

We had a speaker for in-service today who addressed the topic of "mental health crisis in the workplace." After five minutes, I turned to my suite mate and whispered, "Glory! Since I gave up coffee, tea, and sweets I am a poster child for 12 out of 15 of the illnesses she has listed!" My suitemate giggled, slid a little away from me, and whispered back, "Well, at least I now know how to get you committed for 48 hours if you act out!"

Do you think they would let me have caffiene and sweets in observation? It might just be worth it.

Monday, January 3, 2011

One Day Closer....

... to spring. It was a balmy 41-degrees here today. The sun shone all day. And, the moon is out tonight, accessorized by lots of shimmering stars. A perfect night.

The Airman left yesterday after a lovely two weeks home with us.

When he was just new, I told Mother that I had learned a little something about how God worked.

"It's like this," I explained. "God gives a child a little tiney hole in their heart that only a Mother has the key to that will make the child feel guilty."

She agreed.

"But," I added, "He also left a hole so our hearts aren't filled unless they are in it."

She smiled. "Welcome to motherhood."

I've thought of that a lot today. My son is nearly 30 and, yet, he is still my heart. I miss him when he is gone, but I understand he has a path to follow. I just wish it weren't so far away. In March he will finish Tech School and be awarded his 'crab' -- a very high honor. And, then, he will pack his duffle and head 22 hours overseas -- 14 hours time difference -- to pursue his next challenge.

Why didn't someone tell me that being a Mum meant I had to let go?

Sunday, January 2, 2011

One Word

The wonderful little book Flourish, Catherine Hart Weber, has filled my night night reading for the past week and let me say, it is a very thought provoking book. The challenges in each section results in careful reading and thoughtful pauses. It is a book I heard of first on "Homeword" right before Christmas break. By the time I arrived home, I had determined to order and read it over the holidays.

She suggests, as our friend Tina has written about this past week, selecting a single word to focus on during year. This has been a challenge for me. Let's face it. I need a lot of work. Selecting one word for a year to movitate change is, well, reckless at best!

However, after spending time in thought and prayer, one word has been sifted from the debris field of possibilities:


Also defined as balance, calmness, restraint, steadiness, judiciousness. Yeppers. Just the word I need.

After a little research, I found Biblical instruction on moderation:

Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand. – Philippians 4:5 NKJV
And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. – 1 Corinthians 9:25a NKJV
Whoever has no rule over his own spirit is like a city broken down, without walls. – Proverbs 25:28 NKJV
And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit; - Ephesians 5:18 KJV

Then, I looked to see what my two greatest literary heroes had to say about it.
When he is pushed, tormented, defeated, he has a chance to learn something; … he learns his ignorance, is cured of the insanity of conceit; has got moderation and real skill. ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

A man is rich in proportion to the things he can afford to let alone. ~ Henry David Thoreau
And. last, but certainly not least, I looked to see what my faith guide had to say:
Be rather bountiful than expensive; do good with what thou hast, or it will do thee no good. ~ William Penn
Frugality is good, if liberality be joined with it. The first is leaving off superfluous expenses; the last bestowing them to the benefit of others that need. The first without the last begets covetousness; the last without the first begets prodigality. Both together make an excellent temper. Happy the place where that is found. ~William Penn
And, so, my sole goal this coming year is to be ....

Saturday, January 1, 2011