Tag Archives: chores

Pastoral Peace

By late winter I began to look forward to warm weather and grass growing in the pastures. With some of my joints achy from the cold, tossing hay every morning and evening seemed less a pleasant stroll and more of a chore.

Being the steer’s first spring alone we weren’t sure what to expect from his grazing. Soon enough the grass was as tall as the sprinkler pipes. We are blessed with friends and neighbors who are glad to let their horses graze in our pastures and get the growth under control.

We learned very soon that, GeldingOne manages his stress from the move by running. In the tall grass he broke off three sprinklers in those first 48 hours. One pipe broke underground which complicated watering the seedling vegetable garden as well as the pasture.

The quickest solution:

    • Shut off and drain the irrigation sprinklers to repair them.
    • Cut the tall grass so the horse can see the pipes.
    • Run water to garden with hoses.

Then SouthernNeighbors lent us GeldingTwo.

GeldingTwo likes being the pasture boss and compliant GeldingOne is now calm and content with his new buddy and the steer. The pastoral peace restored, knowing their horses are in my loving care the two geldings’ humans can concentrate more on working their properties. If all goes as planned, Cole won’t need to mow again for months. Win-win-win.

For now, until Cole can repair the shattered pipe, Izzy and I haul hoses and lawn sprinklers around the vegetable garden and water tanks. Every. Single. Day. It’s time consuming and more than once I’ve been tempted to complain check Cole about his priorities. Fortunately, before inserting my foot into my mouth, as I walk the property back to my cottage I see everything from a different perspective and hold my peace.

“I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. Romans 8:18 (NIV)”

But there’s more: Being around the gentle, nickering giants lifts my spirits and calms any anxieties that often tag along with me. The sounds of tails swooshing nearby, hooves touching ground (in case there’s an apple or carrot in a pocket) soothes me like little else does. Sure, I’m moving hoses and horses, chopping cheat grass, pulling tack weeds and thistle, but I’m also keeping my back, hips and knees in good working order – and who needs to count steps anymore…

Before I’m done watering the veggies I have a clear vision of where we must thin plants, hoe or pull weeds. As with most things in life, one hand washes the other. But God uses growing food and tending the livestock as a family to fuel my soul like nothing else ever.

Annnd the life lessons continue.

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”

Romans 8:28 (NIV)

Images not captioned courtesy Pixabay

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It Is Well

My floors struck me this morning.

No, I didn’t fall. The concrete didn’t rise or move at all. However the metamorphosis that’s occurred since I’ve been here at the ranch gave me a long pause today.

For most of my adult life my house simply couldn’t be clean enough, pretty enough, stylish enough… with four boys growing up around me…  Uh huh. A Psycho-Mom in the making.

Roo explains on Niece’s 1st visit, “we don’t touch black lacquer… or Italian glass… or brass…”

In hindsight I see how I drove my sons to the very edge insisting they swept and wiped up after themselves – constantly. Okay not literally – but I now realize I was too close to OCD for comfort.

So, believing this is my home now, that I actually live here happily may be a stretch for my sons.

I emerged from my parents’ dysfunctional household a huge, hot mess. Back in the day I desperately needed acceptance, approval and, dare I say it… recognition. Only perfection was acceptable. Decades later I began to understand that:

  1. happy, well-adjusted children care about stability and comfort – not sanitation standards, and
  2. God’s approval beats all others’.

After I arrived here I initially tried to keep the cottage up to my old standard. I made lists of items needing repair, sprucing up and this-just-will-not-do. They’re still on the side of the ‘fridge.

Today I noticed that I’m actually okay with daily visitors tracking assorted patterns on my floors – shoe, boot, various sizes of paws in a mixed media (mud, paint dust, dirt, grime and we-really-don’t-want-to-know). What’s more, the trails can be there for hours until I get around to cleaning – even overnight sometimes.

I’d like to say I never notice them.  Those first weeks after arriving here, Cole strolling in directly from the shop (actually checking on me), usually on freshly washed floors made me want to cry – or punch something. But now when I notice traffic residue I typically walk right over it on the way to something I enjoy doing even more than clean floors.

Housework will always be there. It can certainly wait as God and I watch the sunrise over a steaming mug, a covey of quail bobbing across the lot or the sun set after a day-long work party.

Instead of a constant stream of housekeeping I now enjoy the antics of fur kids, friends and extended family. Our combined circumstances often make the hope for my offspring coming to visit seem like a pipe dream. But instead of disappointment, sadness or occasional hopelessness, feeling how it actually is well keeps me in check.

 

Meanwhile, the pups are a constant source of amusement.

“The Lord answered her, ‘Martha, my beloved Martha. Why are you upset and troubled, pulled away by all these many distractions? Are they really that important?'”

Luke 10:41 The Passion Translation (TPT) *

*The Passion Translation®. Copyright © 2017 by BroadStreet Publishing® Group, LLC.
Used by permission. All rights reserved. thePassionTranslation.com

Featured Image courtesy Pixabay

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More Spring Cleaning

During the winter Cole lets out shop space for boat and RV storage. To help him out, his Harley Davidson Motorcycles winter with me in the cottage. As much as I enjoy revising old, happy memories riding around the countryside, come spring I’m very ready to see the bikes on the road again – or anywhere else.

Someone commented on how the relocation project didn’t seem like such a big deal. I now have highlights of this year’s event. And this post doesn’t include fertilizing the pastures that same afternoon – another all-hands-on-deck event. That’s a whole other story.

And for the record, The Deuce is available to a good home (for sale).

“Nickel” and “The Deuce”

 

The pad in front of my cottage – Before

 

Relocating the Challenger to work on later

 

Moving the ’57 Cab to the lift. Maybe this is her year.

 

… And lifting

 

Fresh air, finally!

 

ChuiyTwo tests the saddlebags

 

Cole and YellowLab take a breather before turning the keys

 

Final check before this year’s first run

 

Now GoodGirl and I can take a breather

 

 

“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.”

Galatians 6:9, 10 (NIV)

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Peaceful Pause

So, there it was, enough of a pause in the rain and the horrendous winds to allow the sunshine to dry the grass. It finally felt like a northwestern spring day.

Yeay!

All I wanted was to throw some weeds to the hens, a flake of alfalfa to the steer, mow the lawns, add the clippings on the compost pile and toss it, feed and water Izzy’s newly potted plants and then put my feet up to enjoy the sunshine and a late morning latte.

Was that really so much to ask?

 

 

 

 

Evidently it was.

A distant neighbor’s peacock insisted upon announcing his presence from what sounded like our yard.

Every. Five. Minutes.

Peacock’s can be ornery in the spring, so dogs and I searched.

Even from high in the nearest neighbor’s tree a scant quarter-mile away,  for miles around he sounded like he was in our yard.

 

20180414_151445

 

Once we solved the mystery of the clandestine peacock, ChiuyTwo understood the need for some peace and quiet.

 

 

 

 

 

GoodGirl and SchnauzerOne however had other ideas:

Finally after cleaning their paws on my freshly washed jeans, they decided they needed to rest.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
Matthew 11:29, 39 (NIV)

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Spidey Sense

My first thought, aside from “yikes!” and “gross!” was “what does a spider crawling across the comforter on my bed say about my life?”

I’d been wrestling with a less-than-happy attitude for about an hour when I’m certain the Holy Spirit answered me, “Really? Cole warned you about spiders in the firewood… to only bring in enough for each day. Doesn’t it kinda sound like the manna thing?*”

Yeah, they both said that. I listen vigilantly to God and mostly heed Cole’s advice about life on the ranch. Except for on Saturdays and Tuesdays.

I don’t gather wood on Sunday and try to rest on Wednesdays, my day off. So, like the Hebrews gathering manna*, I depend upon dispensation to stack up on Saturdays (and Tuesdays).

I’m careful to pound each piece of wood on the chopping stump to evict any inhabitants, dirt, bark and sometimes ice. I also vacuum clean the apartment thoroughly, paying particular attention to every square inch around the entire wood stove area daily   every other day  at least three times a week.  Yep. Today I’m amazed and slightly convicted by how time flies between cleanings.

I reminded God about my request for a housekeeper. After I noticed my jeans are tighter I asked Him to ignore that previous request. He knew all along I need the activity.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, my joints already complain about the cold. This translates to lighter lifting but more reps and extra laps around the property, so I integrate hauling firewood into my workout. Today I noticed marvelous web work all over the property (except for in the chicken yard). Where there’s smoke there’s fire.

So, I’m thinking the spider on my comforter says my home is warm, welcoming and hospitable – provided you’re not a creepy crawler. Oh, and I live on a ranch. There will be spiders. Deal with it.

My new Spidey Sense has me daily voicing my appreciation and gratitude. I thank God for my perfect home (however rustic or unfashionable), good health, God’s constant care and His provision for my family and me. I do this happily as I wipe away soot, beat the upholstery and sweep the undersides, check every nook and cranny as I go and every morning and evening I shake out the layers of winter bedding.

Oh, and I trust God to reveal any covert indoor spider plans for the holidays.

“And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” Colossians 3:17 (ESV*(c) )

 

*Exodus 16:16-22

Spider-Man figure image courtesy of Taboadahdez at Pixabay

Web images courtesy Pixabay

*English Standard Version (ESV)

The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.

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Perseverence

All summer we talked about moving Darryl from the chicken house. Don’t ask me why, but late Saturday – after Cole and I cut a cord of wood – he walked toward the chicken house announcing he was evicting the rooster.  Having attempted catching Darryl weeks back (solely to remind him were snuggle buddies before he matured), I set out to help Brother.

 

As I anticipated, what would take a school boy moments took two grown adults far longer…

 

The following morning Darryl crowed from the hen yard.

We shall pray and further strategize relocating the rooster.

 

“Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people.”

Colossians 3:23 NLT

 

 

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My Groove

I began today happy to wake up, which is my preference, but soon I went on a tear.

Momentary digression:

For weeks I’ve been working on the lawns, vegetable and flower gardens around the main house. The underground sprinkler system is down. So, for the first 2 – 4 hours a day, 6 days a week I’m working in the yards, pulling weeds around the lots for chicken feed, hauling grass clippings to the livestock, tending the pastures in between moving the hoses and sprinklers. Clearly I get my steps in early!

 

Note: The potted plants around my door require about 5 minute’s attention every other day. I have gravel, no lawn.

 

 

I do all this mostly because I enjoy it, but also because 1) Brother needs and appreciates the help while he works in town and runs his business here, and 2) I’m at a standstill in my cottage:

  • I can’t paint the walls or floors before the roof is repaired and any drywall that needs replacing is done,
  • the list goes on, but I’ll spare you the whine.

You’re welcome.

Last week I began watering the grass in the evenings in case that might green up the too-beige lawn.

I may have mentioned I typically rise and go to roost with the chickens. The problem watering in the evenings rather than early in the morning is when I’m up later in the evening I have trouble getting to sleep before 2 or 3 a.m. This doesn’t work well when I usually wake between 3 and 4 a.m. – like it or not.

So back to today:

This fourth (maybe fifth) groggy, sleep-deprived morning I felt notably grumpy and shaking it off was difficult. More importantly, my chapters have taken some hits – the writing’s vague, sequences bounce all over the place and dialogues suck (it’s an industry term). Sort of like me lately.

Before long I’d zeroed in on the problem:

  • I volunteer the upkeep of Brother’s lawn and our gardens,
  • I volunteer caring for his livestock,
  • I volunteer vacuuming the avalanche of dog hair in the main house (his house) three times a week before he ever asked me to help him out with it. I admit, I do this so I don’t feel bad using his vacuum cleaner in my cottage.

Shortly after returning from the pastures this morning I became annoyed by all this – yet again.

It appears I threw off my groove.

 

With the emotional turmoil and all the changes in the household lately, Brother’s been quite overwhelmed. Been there, done that. They’re his problems, not mine. Still, I care about him and I understand his situation – and his occasional crankiness.

I must say here that Brother is mostly kind and generous. He is not obligated, but allows me use of his vehicles and is keeping the Tracker, what we call the Wanna-be Jeep mostly for me. He tells me often he appreciates how I always refuel all the vehicles and I check the oil and water every time I drive. No matter how busy he is, he checks in on me if he doesn’t see me. He offers me cash any time he imagines I need it. And he always says (or texts) “Goodnight. ‘Love you.”

He even took it upon himself to replace my ugly old shower curtain rod with a newer, shiny chrome one that matches the fixtures. It’s what he does.

Because he primarily sees the demands on his time, he doesn’t actually notice all I do to help out. It’s what I do.

After my rant at the cottage walls subsided, convicted by my attitude, I got to my knees.

It’s funny the way prayer works.

Shortly after I amen-ed, I realized I’d allowed Brother’s problems to take priority over my work – my job.  What’s more, I’m sure he has no idea.

But here’s the twist: Today I recognize my problem is I haven’t treated him like my brother. I’ve treated him like a landlord. Okay, so I wouldn’t care so much about a business relationship and would quickly insist a landlord hire a gardener, repairman, etc. But I’d never let my brothers take advantage of me (without some serious shenanigans). Family doesn’t function well like that. Believe me, I know about dysfunction.

I took the focus off my finger pointing at his problems and checked the three pointing back at me. And then I got back on my knees again. Once I regained my spiritual balance, I composed a text and scheduled it for about the time Brother clocks out at work in town:

“I’m returning to my job in the mornings. I can feed/h2o livestock, vegetables n flowers in a.m. You can h2o lawns in the p.m. If you need anything else we can talk. <3”

Walking around, moving the sprinklers, he’ll enjoy the lawns all the more. This feels like a good start in a better direction. I took a deep, sleepy breath.

“Share each other’s burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ. If you think you are too important to help someone, you are only fooling yourself. You are not that important. Pay careful attention to your own work, for then you will get the satisfaction of a job well done, and you won’t need to compare yourself to anyone else. For we are each responsible for our own conduct.” Galatians 6:2-5 (NLT)

 

The Emperors New Groove Video courtesy YouTube

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Still Workin’

Yeah, it’s been a while. Originally I imagined this imposed hiatus would be a week or two.

We plan – God laughs.

It turns out I’d carried a lot more baggage home with me than I’d realized. And surprise, I’d gotten so used to carrying it all I hadn’t noticed the the weight. As it happens, hurting my arm and shoulder wasn’t entirely a bad thing. I had to lay a few things down and I’ll tell you, sometimes doing that right can be a long process. I’m determined to stick with it and not need to do this again!

 

Still, I enjoy my new life on the ranch, despite how it humbles me – daily. So much to learn, such astounding lessons.

 

 

I finish the chores early in the day so I’m back to work on my chapters now: Write – edit – edit – edit – submit.

I don’t have my head around my new What’s Next format – yet – but I don’t want anyone wondering if I’ve gone off the rails either.

So for now, enjoy the link to what feels like my life’s sound track from Mandisa and keep checking in!

 

“Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end.” Ecclesiastes 3:11 (NLT)

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In The Moment

organization-chart-pixabay

I have always taken planning and preparing for whatever could happen to a whole other level of crazy making. For the past few years I’ve methodically, painstakingly pursued the practice of simply being. Try as I do, that being a work in progress is seriously understating it.

“But the Lord said to her, “My dear Martha, you are worried and upset over all these details! There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her.” *

But then I noticed something: While doing chores out in the ice and snow, I must forget my writing, the laundry, what might be on the stove and everything else. I must consider every move – or swing, lest I hurt myself (again) – or I could generate more work for someone else. For those happy minutes life here forces all my attention to exactly what I’m doing and nothing else.

Dude, living in the moment is amazing.

During this first season home, I better appreciate the intricacies of this lifestyle. My priorities shifted remarkably to gathering wood, helping to care for the animals and myself daily.

I like a sparkly-clean home. But I loathe breaking stuff and the down-time and extra expenses after I hurt myself. Water spots on the dishes, soot or dust dropped way down my priority list; alone in my cottage only my fingers disturb the fine, light covering. And I’m far more flexible with my time and more relaxed. This has all been a learning experience I won’t soon forget.

“We ought not to be weary of doing little things for the love of God, who regards not the greatness of the work, but the love with which it is performed.” Practicing the Presence of God, Brother Lawrence

Mostly I appreciate my bright, new direction in over-thinking just about everything. I enjoy simple things more than ever before. Sure, I’d like more income, and my name on some real estate – or a motor vehicle title. But my story is far from over.

I also noticed the good stories keep till I get to them.

happiness-pixabay

God. Controls. Everything.

“For the life of every living thing is in His hand, and the breath of every human being.” Job 12:10 (NLT)

*Luke 10:41, 42 (NLT)

Images courtesy Pixabay

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