Friday, February 27, 2009

It's Still Winter

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Thursday, February 26, 2009

My Chore Girls

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Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Dinner For Two

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This is our second set of twins this year out of a group of Red Angus cows we bought last fall. Anna has christened the heifer calves Hailey and Bailey. 

Mama can't quite handle the milk production for two, so Hailey is now on a bottle. If we lose a calf in the next few weeks, she will be eligible for adoption, but for now, our girls are claiming her as their own.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

What I Did On My Winter Vacation

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I rode in this contraption.

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Actually, I paid money to ride in this contraption.

Apparently this is called a sandrail, and its purpose is to drive at alarmingly fast speeds over the highest sand dunes that the Oregon coast has to offer.

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I can tell you that Oregon has some pretty serious sand dunes. 

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And I can tell you that a good portion of that sand ended up plastered to the side of my face while I was seated in the right rear seat of the sandrail, which incidentally was driven by a man who spent a great deal of time explaining to his prospective passengers the proper procedures for vomiting during the half hour sandrail ride for which we had just signed up.

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Happily, there was no vomiting on our particular excursion.

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In fact, I can actually say that I have had more challenging rides as a passenger on an ATV driven by my husband. But that's another story.

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The ride was fun, but the scenery was breathtaking. I had no idea that evergreens and beaches could coincide.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Backup Plan

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Just in case this farming thing doesn't work out, it's good to know that other options exist.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

What Farmers Look Like

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This is what farmers look like when you take them to the ocean.

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They just get positively giddy seeing that much moisture.

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This was my first visit to the ocean, and I was captivated.

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I am not a worldly soul. I spent my first 17 years on the ranch that has been home to my family since 1913. I attended college less than three hours away from home, and when I married, I moved one whole county away from my hometown. My first trip in an airplane was in 1998 when the local co-op sent us to Minneapolis for a young farmer's convention.

My second trip in an airplane was in 2007 when the local Jaycees sent us to Phoenix for a young farmer's convention.

Since then, we have traveled with the same young farmers to Washington, D.C., Madison, Wisconsin, and most recently, Eugene, Oregon.

Those trips have expanded our horizons well beyond our rural life here in the middle of nowhere.

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For example, who knew that there were big blobs of mucus on the beach?

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But seriously, each time we travel with this group, I am reminded of the value of good friends, making time for a healthy marriage, and being open to new ideas in agriculture. If the members of this group are any indication of the future of our ag industry, we are in good hands.


Thursday, February 19, 2009

Oops

The best way I can describe the past 10 days is "overwhelming."


That's how my son described his feelings when I came through the door after being gone for four days.

That's how I could describe my emotions as my family gathered to celebrate the life of my grandma.

That's how all my senses responded to experiencing the ocean for the first time.

That's how I can measure my gratitude to the family members who cared for our children so that we could have four days away from the farm in the company of good friends.

But somehow, in the grief and the laughter, the waves and the dunes, the high heels and the airport layovers, I missed a milestone.

This blog turned a year old, and I didn't even acknowledge it.

I sort of feel like I missed a child's birthday.

Now that I have remembered, I am too stuffy, feverish, and weary to even write a proper post. All I can think about is my pillow and a hot cup of tea.

You can all throw a party without me. Just don't wake up the kids, okay?

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

What Farm Wives Look Like

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This is what farm wives look like when you take them off the farm.

Sometimes it's nice to kick off the muck boots and play dress up, even if it was at an event that had a tractor parked outside the hotel and a Gator in the lobby.

At least the hay bale was decorative and we didn't have to cut it, bale it, stack it, load it, or feed it.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Miracle

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The physical properties of flight have been explained to me on numerous occasions.

I understand the principles.

I understand that the pilot has been trained to operate the aircraft.

I understand that flying is statistically safer than driving a car.

With that in mind, I still maintain that landing a plane on that little tiny airstrip is nothing short of a miracle.

Thank God for safe landings, happy homecomings, hugs, and my very own pillow.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Fear

When I was a small child, I was afraid of dogs.

The fear began, I believe, because my weight at that time was equitable to that of a paper clip, and my legs were so short that I could barely outrun a turtle. I was an easy target for large, slobbering canines whose teeth were at my eye level. Consequently, I endured many close encounters with over-friendly, if not vicious, dogs.

I also suffered the traumatic loss of half the head of my plastic ride-on pony to an overzealous, biting puppy, furthering my dislike for man’s best friend.

As I grew up and was able to see the tops of the dogs’ heads, I realized that my fears were unfounded. These dogs that I had been fearing were not so bad. In fact, I came to enjoy their company.

To my knowledge, my early experiences with dogs were also my earliest lessons in living with and overcoming fear. The lesson was so successful that I made it my goal in life to knock down fear wherever it sprang up.

I overcame fear of lightning, darkness, bugs, and broccoli. I even overcame my fear of people. I overcame that fear so well that I eventually minored in public speaking in college.

Wherever I turned, it seemed, there was a fear to be dealt with, and I gave the death blow to them all. Scary fair rides? No problem. I would jump in without a thought and allow a rough looking character to latch me into a metal cage and hurl me through the air at thrilling speeds. Overcoming fear had become a source of entertainment.

But looking back at all my previous fears, they all seem trivial compared to the fear I am facing right now. Tomorrow I am expected to step onto an airplane, strap myself in, and fly hundreds of miles away from my babies.

I realize that normal people do this all the time. I realize that statistics demonstrate that flying is actually safer than driving a car, something that I do almost daily without much fear at all. I realize that our parents, who were apparently rather successful in their endeavors to raise their own children, are probably competent enough to handle mine for a few days.

They will be fed, clothed, bathed, sheltered, and loved. They will be snug in their own beds at night and snuggled when they wake in the morning.

All of these realizations do little to pacify this fear that rises up from my chest and threatens to burst out of my mouth with a piercing yell. I have become that weak little child facing the jaws of a canine.

As usual, I find parenthood to be the most humbling of experiences. Anything you think you know is proven wrong. Anything you predict is proven inaccurate. I thought I could overcome any fear until I prepared to walk away from my children for a few days; now I know I still have a long way to go before meeting my childhood goal of being fearless, and I realize that it was probably not a realistic goal in the first place.

Fear has its place in our lives. It serves as a motivating force and, perhaps more importantly, a safety mechanism.

So tomorrow, rather than focusing on being fearless, I’ll shoot for being tearless instead.

Any guesses how that will work out?

Monday, February 9, 2009

Powdered Sugar Donuts

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My grandma let me eat powdered sugar donuts, and she didn’t even flinch when the white powder misted over the green vinyl tablecloth and chunks of cake tumbled to the floor.

At her kitchen table, I tasted my first bowl of Froot Loops. My mom bought only Rice Krispies and Cheerios. Being allowed to eat brightly colored, sugar laden cereal was, in my five-year-old brain, a sure sign of my grandma’s affection for me. And when she pulled the package of Oreos out of the cupboard, I was certain that I was adored.

Grandma bought me ruffled dresses for my birthday, read “The Pokey Little Puppy” Golden Book at least a thousand times, and rocked me to sleep while singing “Bimbo.” I cannot recall a time when Grandma lost her patience with me, not even when she rocked me through the night when I was feverish and miserably suffering through the chicken pox.

She sang when she washed the dishes and told me stories of learning three-part harmony while standing at the kitchen sink with her sisters. When the dishes were done, she let me plunk at the piano keys and then laughed when I spun myself dizzy on the piano stool. Then she would sit at the piano herself, opening up her music and playing with the same smooth grace that I saw in her when she waltzed in Grandpa’s arms.

She took me to the library and let me spend as much time as I wanted selecting books. When I was finished, we stopped at the grocery store, where she told me to choose any piece of candy that I wanted. The choice was agonizing because it was such a rare treat, and I wanted to both savor the freedom to choose and make the perfect selection.

In my childhood, the things Grandma did for me and allowed me to do were at the forefront of my mind. As I grew up, I began to realize that her impact on my life was far more profound than providing me with powdered sugar donuts.

Grandma’s presence was reliable throughout my life. She was there at basketball games, music concerts, and awards ceremonies. At every birthday party and every Christmas Eve, Grandma’s presence was a certainty. She drove 45 miles one way to take me to piano lessons, and during those drives we spoke about my future.

Actually, it was a bit of a one-sided conversation. Grandma was a champion of education, and she was determined that her grandchildren would go to college. When I announced my engagement, her statement was simple. “Congratulations. You better be planning to stay and finish college.” Her pride was evident when she watched me grasp my diploma.

To read about my experiences with her, a person would think that I was an only grandchild. The truth is that she extended this dedication nine times over, and she had a special connection with her 15 great grandchildren as well.

The evolution of my admiration for Grandma never stopped. My five-year-old appreciation for the sweetened cereal gave way to an appreciation of her beauty and grace. I admired her wit and her ability to retain everything she read or heard, and I was certain that she could defeat any of the Jeopardy contestants that she faithfully watched five days a week. But later in my life, when she watched each of my four children at the baptismal font, I realized that she has been the steadfast example of how to live as a faithful follower of Jesus Christ.

Grandma’s faith was an inseparable component of her life. She didn’t lecture me about how to live as a Christian; she showed me. She didn’t tell me how to nurture my children; she had already demonstrated it in my early years. She did not offer marital advice; she griped about Grandpa’s habits while dedicating nearly 65 years of her life as his wife. She was not afraid of death. She was thankful for her blessings, had lived a full life, and was ready to meet her Savior.

I only wish that I could let her go with the same grace that she possessed.

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Well done, good and faithful servant . . . enter thou into the joy of thy lord. ~ Matthew 25:23

Friday, February 6, 2009

Optimism

You could call me an optimist.

After a long, cold, snowy, icy winter, I bought seven packages of flower seeds today.

In my defense, it was 50 degrees outside. That's above zero. The snow is beginning to pull back its blanket and reveal the ground below, and the smell of warming earth rides the breeze.

The smell of slushy manure permeates my porch, but that's another blog topic altogether.

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Tonight, the chance of snow is once again 50 percent, but I'm warmed by the thought of blue flax and gazania blooming in July.

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It should probably be noted that both flower varieties are drought tolerant.

I guess I'm not that much of an optimist after all.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Instead Of Blogging

I usually blog after the kids are tucked in bed and all is quiet for the night.

Lately, however, I have been otherwise engaged.

Now I go spotlighting. The heifers are (supposed to be) calving, so we keep close tabs on them. If I take the 11 p.m. check, I can stay snug in my bed until the small people drag me out in the morning. The arrangement works well for us because I tend to be a night owl, and Shane's the type that falls asleep during the nightly news and pops out of bed long before the sunrise.

It's bad news for the blog, though. Not only are the pictures not great with a spotlight for lighting, but my writing time is cut short.

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But who would want to miss seeing these beauties by moonlight?

Monday, February 2, 2009

Slurp

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It's that sound made when small children rush into the kitchen after playing with Tonkas in the snowbank in the backyard and convince their mama to make them cups of hot chocolate with marshmallows (because everyone knows that marshmallows are necessary to the process of warming up).

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See? You can practically hear it.

Slurp.

 
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