Sunday, November 6, 2011

The Farm at the End of the Road

I love slow Sunday mornings.  I was catching up on my Mary Janes Farm emails and read this poem.  I fell in love instantly!  Hope you enjoy!

The House at the End of the Road
by Shirley Jean Pierce, Florida
adapted from Sam Walter Foss' poem, The House by the Side of the Road, 1897

There are gentle souls that give each day
With the peace of talents spent.
There are souls, like stars, that dwell to shine
In their loved ones' sweet content.
There are pioneer souls that blaze their paths,
The wagon ruts still call -
But let me live at the end of the road
And make a home for all.

Let me live in a house at the end of the road
Where the walk of life draws nigh -
Where folks who work hard and have calloused hands,
As good and as bad as I,
Can live and not judge another's heart
Or cast a critic's eye
Let me live in a house at the end of the road
And open my door to the sky.

I see from my house at the end of the road,
The rolling fields of life,
I see women who press with the ardor of hope,
Their aprons stained with strife.
But I turn not away from their smiles nor their tears -
Both part of the infinite plan;
Let me live in the house at the end of the road
And be to all a kind woman.

I know there are lark-filled meadows ahead,
And mountains of wearisome height,
There are gardens to tend and children to mend
And day simply turns into night.
But still I rejoice when my sisters rejoice,
And weep with the women who moan,
With the dream of a farm at the end of the road
For a little girl too quickly grown.

Let me live in my house at the end of the road
And welcome the women who try -
They are good, they are bad, they are weak, they are strong,
Wise, foolish - so am I.
Then why should I look with a critic's eye
Or judge another's call?
Let me live in a house at the end of the road
And make a home for all.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Garden Glory

Another garden season is coming to an end.  Sniff...Sniff...  I walked today what will probably be my last walk to the garden until next May.  The extreme heat has really taken a toll on the plants.  The tomato plants are drying out, but still producing tomatoes.  Our cukes are done and all that is left on the vines are ridiculously overgrown fruits that have yellowed.  We lost most of our corn to raccoons, and the stalks have been cut and fed to the cattle.  The once deep purple fruit of our eggplants have all but disappeared and a few small bell peppers are hanging on by the "seed of their plants".  Bright yellow squash blossoms are a distant memory.  And our hopes for potatoes were never realized.  Our compost pile will wait to be turned another day.

The end of the garden season for me is always bittersweet.  I'll miss the early Saturday mornings with my Tom working the soil, watering emerging seedlings, and sharing the excitement of seeing the first fruits of our efforts.  No longer will our evenings be spent sharing the canning duties.  I'm so lucky to have a husband who enjoys canning as much as I do.  He fires up the turkey fryer outside and sterilizes the jars as I blanch, peel and cut veggies for packing.  We then sit on the porch in our side by side rockers and enjoy a cool glass of lemonade as we listen for the "tink" of lids sealing on jars.

Despite the sweaty Saturday mornings, aching lower backs from picking, itchy bug bites and dirty garden feet, it's soooo worth it!  So for now, I'll savor my last weeks of whatever my precious garden has left to yield.  I'll eat as many of my favorite....bologna, tomato and cheese sandwiches on fresh white bread...YUM!  And then we'll move on to the freshest marinara, stews and chili for the fall and winter months.  And best of all, no preservatives and as organic as it gets!  

For now, I'll look forward to the cooler months of fall.  "There's a change a com'in I tell ya" and her name is FALL.  As I say goodbye to the dog days of summer, I stand with welcoming arms to the blessings of the trees.  When we are privileged to have a front row seat to the changing colors of the season. 

I'll leave you with the words to a song that I heard on the radio when I was in high school.  It pretty much describes my love affair with tomatoes...

Home grown tomatoes, home grown tomatoes
Where would I be without home grown tomatoes?
There's only two things that money can't buy
And that's true love and home grown tomatoes!

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Red Gate Farm Morning Reflections

The computer is slower than Christmas this morning.  My husband pipes up to encourage me to call the satellite company as I am voicing my frustration at it's snail's pace.   I am technically challenged and would rather have bamboo shoots forced under my toe nails than to call a tech support department.  So, I decided to sit and rock on the front porch as God teaches me patience.

The funny thing is, I begin to watch the chickens as they peck the ground and am aware of the rhythm of the farm.  It's slow and easy this morning.  My mind drifts to thoughts of Family Farm Week.  The quiet peace of the farm is missing the laughter that had filled the air just 4 weeks ago.  Images of family members gathered on the front porch to reminisce of days past.  Sleepy heads emerging from the camper with first thoughts of grabbing an egg basket for the morning chores.

It's more than a family event that takes weeks of work preparing for.  It's a tradition that I hope will connect us forever.  Although my own family was somewhat dysfunctional....I guess all families are to an extent, I do have memories of tradition.  Memories of my Grandmother making fried peach pies in a cast iron skillet, memories of visiting my Great Grandmother wearing a purple bonnet and picking vegetables from a garden.  The gathering of extended family for holidays was a time to reconnect with cousins.  I've always wanted to pass that along and I am so blessed to be able to do that on Red Gate Farms.

So it may seem to our family that we are hosting them, but the truth is they are blessing us.  Allowing us to share our home and to share the peace of the farm.  Each year we create new memories and we play them back until the next year when we get to do it all over again.  So, I'll keep playing the Family Farm Week movie over and over again for the next 11 months.  Anxiously waiting for June 2012 when that wonderful laughter and chatter of family fills our humid farm air again.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

June on the Farm

Happy Father's Day to Tom...LOL!  Our newest goat Cassie gave birth this morning while we were running errands in town.  We figured it was about time as Cassie was making a little more noise in the pond yard than usual.  When babies are born on the farm it's always exciting.  I never get tired or numb to the miracle of life on the farm.  It's always encouraging and a great sign when you see babies take to nursing right away.  We named this little cutie Roxie! That was before we learned later in the day it was a Billy.  So our baby's name is Rocky now.  This is our first goat born on the farm.

This was not the only new addition to the farm this week...we also HAD to buy a new tractor.  Now for those of you who read this and live on a farm you know what a gut wrenching feeling it is for a piece of equipment to go "down".  We had high hopes that a minor repair was all that was needed for our 16 year old tractor, but not the case.  So on my lunch hour last Monday, hubby picked me up and headed over to the Kubota dealer to take a look see.  Ladies, let me tell you that test driving a 70 HP Kubota tractor in high heels is not an easy thing to pull off!  I think I heard my hubby mumble the words "I think her tractor's sexy"....!  The salesman knew what features to sell me on.  Next day, this baby was ours!

We have had over 5 inches of rain this week.  The garden is exploding.  We have tomatoes coming in along with squash and bell peppers.  This is the prettiest crop of beans we've ever had.  Hope tomatoes and cukes are in by the time the farmily arrives on the 29th.  Can't wait to see our grandkids and nephews gathering eggs and picking veggies from the garden!!!  Guess it's time to break out Luke's egg basket again...LOL.
Too wet to get the tiller really working those weeds, guess that project will have to wait until next weekend.  It is such a wonderful blessing to see your garden blooming and know that canning time is right around the corner.  Happy Summer Y'all from Red Gate Farms!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Red Gate Gal's Summer Glory

Oh, what a glorious feeling it is to realize that we are on the cusp of SUMMER!  The farm is always willing to give you small frequent blessings all year long.  But there is something special about the blessings that summer brings.

Meow, snoozing on cool concrete

I look at the brown crispy grass in the winter only to sigh at the lack of color and warm sunshine.  Then Spring brings the rain and the mud.  Oh the mud, it makes every chore harder and messier to complete.  Each week we watch the temperatures rise and wait for that one day that seals the dea....shorts and tank tops!
Welcome Cassie...

This weekend was one of the those weekends.  The weather was sunny and 85.  All of our farm critters were out and about strutting their stuff.  Within about 30 minutes I took all of the pictures I've posted today.  Including the one of Cassie the goat who is our newest addition to Red Gate Farms.

Cassie is pregnant and we are so hoping she waits until our family is here during July 4th week to deliver.  It will be our first goat born on the farm.

I also posted pictures of squash plants anxiously awaiting my husband to put them in the ground.  I hear canning lids popping in my future!

Hope everyone is enjoying summer as much as we are at Red Gate Farms.  The bluebird nest below was built in a birdhouse my husband and grandson constructed a few years ago.  Placement is everything.  We moved the box this year and this is our second round of blue bird eggs.  Hopefully I will be able to post pictures of babies soon.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

A Wreath Wrapped in Love

So thrilled to receive this beautiful wreath from my stepdaughter today.  It was custom made for me with items that reflected the Red Gate Gal farm blog.  I can't remember the last time I received something so personal.  I absolutely fell in love with it!

Created by Growing Lily Designs, Hoover Alabama

Me and my stepdaughter Diane

Ah...Red Gate Farms...the source of my peace.

Posting pics soon of our tomato plants that are finally in the ground.  More news from the Shirley and Sherman front and last but not least, update on the addition of Spring Chicks!

Sunday, April 17, 2011


Sisterhood.  This is such a foreign concept to me.  I did not join a sorority in college.  I usually had one on one relationships in high school rather than traveling with a "pack" of girls.  I played softball and basketball and had many friends from team sports, but not sisters.  My biological sister and I fought from the day she exited the womb.  Our fights were so often and so bad that my father would make us fight in the front yard like boys.  There were bald spots from hair pulling and long scratches down arms.  She was the queen of grabbing a chunk and ripping it right out of my scalp.  My forte was a little like Wolverine from X-Men...  My claws were a thing to be reckoned with.

To this day, my sister and I have a very rocky relationship.  I wish it were different but have accepted that it is what is.  It bothers me most during the holidays when we are sitting across the table from each other and the conversation is very cordial.  That's when I miss having a sister the most.

But it was not until a few weeks ago that God revealed to me that I have something very precious.  I have three sisters!!!  The first is my sister in law Karen.  Karen welcomed me with open arms into her family.  She accepts me for exactly the way I am.  She makes me laugh and her annual summer visit to the farm is something we look forward to for months.  Karen has mailed family photos to me of my husband's parents who were deceased before we married.  Although they are no longer with us, it makes me feel like I'm connected to their whole family.  Early on in our relationship we started calling each other SISTA and still do to this day.

My second sister is Vickie.  Vickie and I worked together and were assigned to implement a new customer in Mexico.  This required hours and hours of work and days on end of being cooped up with each other in a hotel.  We bonded immediately.  We've been through divorces, spiritual transformation, kids growing up and life trials.  Vickie and I pray together on the phone and tell each other things we really don't want to hear, but need to hear.  It's funny that Vickie started calling me TITA.  This is what my biological sister called me when she could not pronounce sister.

My third sister is Karen C.  Karen and I met at church.  She is 20+ years my senior.  I don't exactly remember how we bonded or why.  It just happened.  I felt an immediate connection to her.  Karen C. has been in my life for about 3 years now.  One day at church she took me aside and said "you remind me so much of myself at your age".  Little did I know that Karen would become my Stephen Minister and walk along with me during a very challenging time in my life.  We meet once per week and she just listens.  She reads scripture to me and loves me.  She calls me LITTLE SISTER.

Now, I started this blog telling you how much I've missed having a sister and being a part of that thing called sisterhood.  But now I realize that God hand picked not one, but THREE sisters for me.  They all have different names....SISTA, TITA, and BIG SISTER.  They are all precious to me.  I am a better person because they are a part of my life!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Shirley and the Great Escape

Last month friends from our church ask if we wanted a fainting goat.  They knew a lady near us who was trying to find a home for one of her baby goats.  Although I have always wanted a fainting goat, my initial thought was can we take on another animal?  Hubby and I had been talking about making goat's milk soap and knew we were going to have to try our hand at goat farming. 

After a few introduction phone calls, we were set to pick up the baby in about four weeks.  Several weeks late, my husband returned from a business trip with an idea for the goat pen/shelter.  I took several days off and we went to work constructing the pen.  After we finished, we felt so proud at our shelter and it was an wonderful opportunity for us to reconnect from his 2 weeks on the road.

We picked up the little black and white fainting goat and named him Sherman.  Upon putting Sherman in his newly constructed home, he was so little he jumped right through the holes in the pen.  We never imagined he'd fit through a 4 inch hole, but he did.  We put Sherman in our dog kennel in the kitchen and hubby went to work adding chicken wire to the outside of all the fenced area.  The extra wire worked and Sherman was happy in his new home.

Worried that Sherman would be lonely, we decided to go to the Saturday goat auction in Carthage.  We purchased a nanny and headed home.  We named the nanny "Shirley" and introduced her to Sherman.  After we felt comfortable that all was well, we headed into town for dinner.  As we sat at the long community table in the center of the restaurant, we told our goat adventures of the day. Including tales of me getting stuck in the dog kennel with Shirley after trying to get her out of the truck.  Hubby has pictures to prove it!

As we arrived home, my hubby went to close the chicken coop and check on the goats only to find Shirley was gone.  We think she jumped up on a hay bale and right over the fence.  Hubby searched for her by spotlight and four wheeler but she was no where to be found.  Our biggest concern was that she would end up being coyote food. 

We woke up the next morning had our coffee and decided we would take a ride around the farm.  We were not hopeful that we would find Shirley, but had to try.  We spent about an hour riding, visiting neighbors to see if anyone had seen a "rogue" goat, but no luck.  We gave up and headed home to get some projects done on the farm.

We had only been home about 10 minutes when we heard Sherman sound off and another goat calling in response.  IT WAS SHIRLEY!!!!  She made it through the night and was trying to find her way home.  It was obvious that she wanted to get back to Sherman.  We led her into the yard and cornered her near a tree.  My husband picked her up and we put her back in her pen. 

It was such an awesome miracle that she survived the night.  We said a few prayers for the divine help we received this morning.  We picked some dandelions and hand fed them to Shirley.  It was an even more beautiful morning than it had originally started.  The sun was shining and we spent the rest of the day working on the farm we love.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Redgate Refuge

To say our house is smaller than most would be an understatement.  We live in a 1920's farmhouse.  I can't say that it's my ideal house, but it feels more like home than any other place I've lived.  About 6 years ago my job required that I travel extensively.  Mostly in the US, but I also spent a good bit of time in Mexico.  And the one thing that kept me going during that grueling travel schedule, was knowing that my little farmhouse would be waiting on me.  I would fantasize about sitting on the front porch with my husband drinking coffee and watching cows in the pond yard.  I could not wait to step off that plane and jump in my car to take I-40 home.

Over the years, our farm has been refuge for many animals.  When the recession began in 2008, we began to notice more and more dogs were being dropped off in the country.  Six of those lucky devils ended up finding a home at Redgate Farms.  I used to imagine that our 2 dogs would sneak down to the end of our lane and "coach" the strays on how to win us over. 

Then there was the arrival of our cat, Meow.  Neither my husband nor myself are "cat people" but this cat sat in our pasture for weeks and watched my husband work.  She gradually found her way to our porch and into our hearts.  She has now befriended our dog Izzy and likes to lay with her on Saturday mornings.

The farm has also been a refuge for friends in times of trouble.  Sometimes for weeks and other times just an overnight stay is all that is needed to heal.  Friends will visit during hunting season.  Family will vacation during the summer.  But there is one common thread upon leaving....they are changed.

I feel so blessed to have this farm.  It restores my soul and connects me to God through nature.  Whenever I am hurting, I grab my bible and start walking.  I find a rock where I can sit a spell with God.  I feel safe and warm in this old house.  The yard is usually cluttered with farm equipment.  There is always something that needs "fixin" or "mendin", but it's through the "fixin" and "mendin" that we are able to share this REFUGE with others.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Calving Season

Growing up in Atlanta, I never dreamed as a little girl that I would live on a farm.  I am constantly amazed at the joy I receive from farm life.  One of my favorite times of year is calving season in the Spring.  God gives us special little surprises when we least expect them.

I never get tired of that spark of excitement when we discover a new calf in the pasture.  This past Sunday's events surpassed any birth that I've seen in the past 5 years.  I was sitting in our living room and see my husband shoot passed our storm door, arms waving in the air.  His words were barely audible as he went by.  The next thing I hear is the four wheeler firing up.  As I step outside to see what the commotion is, he tells me that our cow Baby has just had a calf.  He happen to look at the top of the hill of our farm and actually saw the calf drop.

I jumped on the back of the four wheeler and away we went.  Baby who is very used to us and the four wheeler was paying us no attention at all.  She was diligently cleaning the little calf and nudging it gently.  What an incredibly wonderful sight.  Now, many may think what happened next as silly, but I'm so thankful that I still get emotional from life's little miracles.

As I watched Baby and her calf, I began to feel incredibly privileged.  We shared these first few precious minutes of life with the universe.  Tears welled up in my eyes and my heart was filled.  We sat on that four wheeler cheering on this little guy as it tried to get up and stand with many failed attempts.  But finally he made it.

We are living in a time when we barely remember how we got from point A to point B while driving because we are so distracted with life's worries.  We live in the future always preparing for tomorrow.  We miss so much that is happening right in front of us.  Many are so stimulated by TV, cell phones and computers that it takes an act of God to excite us.  We keep a schedule that can make our heads spin most weeks.

But Sunday, we were there.  We were totally in the moment thinking of nothing else but the blessing of being able to experience God's miracle of life.  I hope that after reading this that you will not take for granted the joy of little blessings.  The everyday miracles that happen right in front of us.  Enjoy them and feel the emotion they create inside of you.

Saturday, February 12, 2011


Okay Red Gate Gal's time to come clean.  I'm not feeling very encouraged this morning.  I sit here with coffee beside me and lap top in hand, but I am having a hard time coming up with an encouraging topic for my Saturday morning musings.

The last year has been tough on many fronts for hubby and I.  Some things I've shared with friends and family and other things I've kept within the safe confines of the farm.  It's been a year of change and a journey of self discovery on my part.  At times life has felt very frustrating and overwhelming.   Having a Type A personality and being a perfectionist is a sure fire recipe for disaster. name is Red Gate Gal and I am a perfectionist who cannot say NO, I have issues with setting boundaries and realistic expectations for myself.  I am learning that the person I have been creating these 37 years to meet the expectations of others may not be who I am really am.  It's been a long battle of fighting against this person who I've suppressed for many years.

This is a scary place to be...funny that I'm excited at the same time.  I know I'm not alone in this journey.  And that's the ENCOURAGEMENT I'll leave with you this morning.  God walks with us, although at times his footsteps are soft and quiet.  But he is there so willing to catch us with big arms of love when we just collaspe from exhaustion.  We forget this, we try to handle it on our own never wanting to trust him completely with our burdens.  I can't wait to see what this year brings and I'm a little lighter this morning.  Giving a little to GOD each day...but hey I'm a recovering Perfectionist...I can't give it all to him at once now can I???  LOL.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

A Farmgirl's Hope for Spring

Living on a farm in the winter can make you question if ALL the hard work is worth it.  The snow and the rain turn the ground into fields of mud and muck.  I am lucky that most mornings my husband handles the farm duty to allow "The Queen of the Farm" her full dose of beauty rest.  But there are those mornings when he is traveling that the farm chores are left on my shoulders.  I don't complain, but it's not a walk in the park.  It's a trek in the 9 degree, snowy, rainy, dark, cold tundra.

The animals depend on us and we depend on them.  Therefore, I make my way to our mud room and put on the farm garb.  My stylish attire consists of dirty bib overhalls, a ski mask, $5.00 down jacket (what a deal!), and my gloves.  I grab a flashlight and head out the door.  As I walk through the gate, I pray the cows don't hear me before I can dump feed in their troughs.  Walking through thousands of pounds of beef as I get stuck in the mud is extremely scary for me.

I walk and have a conversation with myself.  A little like Sally Field in Sybil, but I know you understand as I've laid out the visual in the previous paragraphs.  Sybil and I continue our chores from the muddy (an understatement) barnyard to the chicken coop.  I open the henhouse door and throw corn as I yell....Here Chick, Chick, Chick.    The "girls" as we call them, are reluctant to leave their warm laying boxes.  I can't really blame them.

As I make my way back to the house, I hear the cows who have now arrived at their troughs.  If it's late enough in the morning, I can see swollen bellies filled with calves who will be dropping soon.  Then it dawns on me that Spring is on it's way.

I begin to dream of putting my hands in the dirt.  I can see Henrietta with her calf suckling in the field while Guido our bull is deciding whose next.  The excitement of days to come of picking strawberries and peaches begins to find hope inside me.  I can taste fresh tomato on bologna sandwiches and it is more than I can stand.  Taking morning four wheeler rides with my husband to experience the day waking up before us are times that I treasure.  And my oh my, rocking on my porch watching bird after bird come to the feeder is something you just have to experience for yourself.

When I was a little girl, living on a farm was no where in my plans for life.  But, thank GOD I have this wonderful blessing.  As I sit here and write this morning, I can hear the winds of winter outside and feel the cold draft in this old house blow across my feet.  I'm reminded that good things are always better when you've had to work for them.

So we'll continue to work through the winter as we do each year.  Because the mud, muck and cold are so worth it to experience the amazing blessings of Spring!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Eat Your Heart Out Julie Andrews!

Oh the things that make us happy!  Ever taken the time to write down your favorite things?  On days when I'm feeling down or the forecast shows no sun for days, I remind myself of the things that bring me joy.  Today was one of those days.  I have just returned from the doctor and was given a prescription for round 2 of antibiotics.  Z-Pack to fight a cold I've had since December 26th.  I battled wind and rain going into the pharmacy.  UGH!  Julie Andrews's performance in The Sound of Music is playing in my ear.  I am now in my PJ's with a warm blanket and thinking about a few of my favorite things.  A good exercise to make you smile.

Yellow roses
The first veggies that start to appear in the garden
Noticing a newborn calf in the field
Being moved by music
Receiving cards in the mail
My husband
Rocking on our front porch
Being a grandma
Making homemade bread
Watching the birds at our feeder
My friend Vickie
Wearing strappy sandals
Fly Fishing
Our Dogs
Walking in summer grass
Walking on the beach
Indigo Bunting's song
Conquering a fear
My "Sista"
The love of my family

Saturday, January 29, 2011

A 67 year old THANK YOU

Ever written a thank you note to the dead? 

I agree this is a strange concept and an even stranger way to start a blog, but I recently did just that.

During the Thanksgiving holiday, we had an opportunity to visit an airplane hangar that housed years and years of aviation history.  This history included war memorabilia.  The owner of the hanger was all too gracious and even gave our grandson a flight log from a WWII flight navigator.

On the way home I began to scan through the log.  I became intrigued within the first few entries and could not put the log down.  As I read his detailed account, I felt like I was sitting right in that B-17 Bomber with him.  The log entries told of his daily life, accounts of battles and the shock of living through these events.  His words stayed with me for days.  Images from his log ran rampant in my mind, playing over and over again.  I was amazed at how this 67 year old flight log affected me.

I became overwhelmed with a need to contact Mr. Punches to stay thank you for his sacrifice.  This emotion of gratitude was more than I could keep inside.  As the days passed after reading the log, I decided to sit down and type a letter of thanks to him.  I had no clue of how to reach him or even if he was still  living.  But I HAD to write it.

So I sat down on a Sunday morning and began to type.  The words I wrote were a surprise.  The gratitude became a realization of why this flight log had affected me so.  I realized that the men in my life who had served our country in military service never talked about their experiences.  As a child I would ask  my grandfather to tell me about the war.  He would say to me "war is not something you talk about".  I never pushed him as I felt he had earned the right through his sacrifice to not share his experiences with me.

My father, both grandfathers and husband all served.  These men would only talk about the bonds with other soldiers.  The stories they did share were stories of  the antics and the good times they had.  I also felt like they were cheating me of sharing a part of themselves they kept hidden.  But again, I did  not push them to share, I  had not earned that right.

My thank you letter to Mr. Punches was filled with tears and gratitude for sharing something with me that the men in my life could  not share.  I have since learned through searches on the Internet that Mr. Punches has passed on.  He will never read  my letter nor will he know the wonderful gift he gave me through his accounts of that 1940's flight log.

The letter had to be written.  There was tremendous healing in writing it.  I know in my heart that the gratitude I felt was released into the universe and maybe it found Mr. Punches.  My hopes in sharing this story with you is that you will take the opportunity TODAY to thank someone who has made an impact in your life.   It's never too late.

The MEN in my life who served our country...
William Hasty- Grandfather
Jack Underwood- Grandfather (deceased)
Mike Underwood- Father
Mark Hasty- Uncle
Bill Hasty-Uncle
Anthony Luiperseck-Father-in-Law (deceased)
Tom Luipersbeck-Husband


Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Stick a Fork in Her...She's DONE!

Each year during the winter months our chickens do not lay as many eggs.  Usually about 1/2 of the normal production.  This year, we have not had a single egg since the end of November.  So I added a topic (Chickens on Strike) on the MaryJanesFarm website to recieve guidance on our problem. 

I was educated that after a hen reaches the ripe old age of 3 she's pretty much done with laying.  And when she lays a marble size egg, stick a fork in her baby...she's really DONE!

So now we are left with a dilemma of what to do with our 21 chickens.  A few suggestions were made by other farm girls as to what to do with them, but we have not decided on that option yet.  I guess I'm still a farm girl in training.

As I was preparing for my next blog, I began to think about our chickens and what happens to us when others no longer see value in our production.  It is in our Christian nature to need to work.  There are times when we have spent a lifetime of working, giving and volunteering only to find we just can't produce like we used to.  It is age with our hens, but we Christians tend to "burn-out" before we "age-out".

But even in the midst of our burnout, we can still contribute.  A grand act with immediate results is not always necessary or even appropriate.  Sometimes a simple gesture is all that God requires to do his work.  A phone call, a card, a smile, or a casual conversation may make the difference between someone feeling lonely and someone knowing that God is working in their life through you. 

Although I'm really trying to have a less hectic schedule this year, I've decided I'll retire my FORK for awhile.  I'm not quite DONE yet.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Craving Simplicity

It is such an unimaginable thing for me to crave SIMPLICITY.  For years I saw myself climbing that corporate ladder just to attach a title to my name.  I knew if I continued to climb the rungs of that ladder that I'd prove myself.  To who I don't know, but I'd be proving nonetheless.  A need to satisfy the appetite of my type A personlity.  I spent many a night worrying about the next day and trying to resolve problems before they even materialzed.  "Proactive not Reactive" was my motto.  Anticipate the next move, be ready and have the answer before anyone else.   

TOAST...that is what I was by the time I turned 34.  BLACKENED and CRISPY!  No matter how successful I was, I dreamed of living like Laura Ingalls in Walnut Grove.  The more time I spent on our farm, the harder it was to deny this inner longing to have the "simple life".  To sit on my porch, sip coffee with my husband and check off bird species that landed on our feeder.

I remember one time at work I was discussing my weekend with a coworker.  I took great satisfaction in painting a mental picutre of the wonderful, yet insignificant tales of our critters and their weekend antics.  I talked about porch sitting, gathering eggs, and the excitement of spotting a bird on our feeder we had never seen before.  I'll never forget her words to me..."You really need to get a life". 

I remember at that moment thinking I don't need to get a life, I finally have a life that I love.  I believe it was that conversation that opened my eyes to how much we miss when we try to keep up with everyone else.  We ignore that authentic person inside of us that is buried under wants that have nothing to do with nuturing our authenticity.  We ignore that "little voice" that is an indicator of who we truly are.

We resign to ignore that voice.  We go back to weekly grind and give a performance even Scarlet Ohara herself would initiate a standing O for.  We say we'll worry about it tomorrow.  Tomorrow turns into next week and next week into next year.  Before we know it, we have ignored that voice until we lose our authenticity all together.

I'm trying to listen more to my inner RED GATE GAL.  I love the farm and gain such strength from it.  It's peace pulls me.  It is my escape and the one place I know I can be 100% me.  I hope that this year you will listen to your voice.  Don't spend one more minute muffling your dreams and hopes.  Each minute of the day is precious.  When you hear your voice calling....for goodness sake...pick up the phone and answer it!