We interrupt this cold spell to remind you summer will be here before you know it.
“Yet what we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory he will reveal to us later.”
Romans 8:18 (NLT)
We interrupt this cold spell to remind you summer will be here before you know it.
Romans 8:18 (NLT)
When summer began Hero, the 18-month-old steer was essentially wild.
One of his first encounters with man was to be roped and his testicles cut off. Back with his mother he likely forgot about his loss that day. He never seemed to forget about the evil ropes of doom and wanted no part of the upright beings at the ends of the ropes.
If he wasn’t already bigger than me I could still easily imagine how he felt, so I respected his space.
Before long he connected the rope creatures with food and water. During the next winter he would come running to the gate at feeding time.
Come spring his mother, “auntie” and “cousin” went away “to live on a farm” leaving him alone in the pasture. Afterwards he gradually became more open to humans.
After hanging around the vegetable garden fence all summer Hero became so comfortable with me he would gingerly nibble from my hand. I came to laugh at how he intimidated me the first time I power-walked the pastures. He pranced along with me, as if coaxing me to frolic with him.
Not long into summer the steer started begging for attention while I groomed the horses. The day Hero literally nosed my arm so I’d brush him too my internal red flags went up.
Hero is not a pet. Cole actually fussed at me for naming him (yeah, he didn’t read that post either). Unlike the horses who summer with us and then return to their people’s pastures for the winter, the steer will relocate to the freezer this year.
For two years I have recited the rule daily: never get attached to the livestock. Even so, something endears me to these bigger beings. I now feel sad when the lonely steer runs to the gate every time he sees me – too much like an 1800-pound puppy.
There were times in my life when I could relate to that steer. People hurt me, separated me from my loved ones and then left me alone and lonely. For a long time I too was very careful of upright beings.
Like the steer and most people I too learned that not all humans will hurt or harm us. Still we must watch for ropes – the things that can bind or hurt us.
Jesus knew about ropes – ignorance, fear, intimidation, greed and plain ol’ meanness. He knew about suffering for someone else’s sakes. With His life He demonstrated the best way to live is to forgive those who hurt us.
I want to use my life like that.
Oh, and thank You, God, that I’m not a steer.
“Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven… For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” Luke 6:37, 38 (NIV)
With hours left before my best boyfriend, TheOldMan heads for his winter home I was a sad mess.
As I brushed him he was skittish about the exceptionally noisy dogs. Then he didn’t like the loose, new gravel or the sound of power tools from what used to be his old stable next door. He reared up coming up the drive, and as I calmed him he told me he isn’t happy with all these changes. As we walked I reminded him that he’s the most wonderful boy. Soon the most delightful peace settled upon us and God’s Spirit calmed us both,
“See, the former things have taken place, and new things I declare; before they spring into being I announce them to you.” Isaiah 42:9 (NIV)
Hero wanted some love too.
SchauzerOne hoping for a wayward carrot.
Muddy Roo heads in for the day job.
“Praise be to the name of God for ever and ever; wisdom and power are his. He changes times and seasons;” *
*From Daniel 2:20, 21 (NIV)
Many days I wonder if I’ll ever slow down and settle in – mostly when I’ve been writing about the three years before I arrived here at the ranch.
As I prepare to fly to Austin, Texas I say goodbye to the garden. Even though I’ll be away only a week, the end of the season is quickly approaching. Here days are shortening, nights and early mornings are cooling. The gelding and the steer are fluffing up with extra hair and the flowers seem desperate to soak in the sunshine while it lasts.
In Texas we’ll have almost three years to catch up on, so I expect to be road weary upon return. And then there’s that emotional roller coaster after another series of “see ya later” (we avoid saying “goodbye”). Perhaps after returning I’ll have a new perspective I’d missed before. And maybe by then I’ll have an even better grasp of why I must be so far from the rest of my heart again.
Though I can hardly wait to get there, thinking about the journey that brought me here seems appropriate.
From October 13, 2016:
After a 28 hour turn-around for Cole, fifteen hours for me, I’m home. In my own cottage on my brother-from-another-mother‘s ranch.
No internet in my cottage yet, no TV or even radio and I have a whopping 2G cell service – from the middle of the north pasture when I visit the cattle and the mare. It’s really not all that bad…
While I’m still buried in boxes.
Once I unpack and set up I’ll shop for better options. For now I’ll take my time and catch up with me – it’s been a long, hard three years.
Try to not miss me too much. ❤
“The Lord makes firm the steps of the one who delights in him; though he may stumble, he will not fall, for the Lord upholds him with his hand.” Psalm 37:23, 24 (NIV)
“One of the worst results of being a slave and forced to do things is that when there is no one to force you anymore you find you have almost lost the power of forcing yourself.” C.S. Lewis, The Horse and His Boy
Izzy and I spent the morning in the garden – again. While we pulled weeds, thinned carrots, tossed those treats to obliging hens, horses, the steer and the pups the temperature warmed up considerably.
While spraying the crates of freshly picked veggies, we enjoyed splashing in the cool water. We’d planned a power walk to the river and back after we’d finished with the garden work, but after the stretching, bending and pulling in the heat the idea didn’t seem quite so grand.
We toyed with relaxing over tea and the no-bake cookies Izzy had made the day before instead of the walk. As we laid the vegetables to dry my mind began wandering back to the chapters I’d read the night before. She broke the silence saying, “You ready for your weigh in?” It was two days away.
I gave her the kind of look one prefers to the volumes I could have said, took a refreshing, deep breath, and instead of stepping into the house took the dog leashes from the hook by the door. “C’mon Pups,” I said. She said, “Let’s do this.”
“We also pray that you will be strengthened with all his glorious power so you will have all the endurance and patience you need. May you be filled with joy,” Colossians 1:11 (NLT)
It appears the scant week of triple digits proved too much for my WiFi repeater several times this week. And yet life goes on. In fact, pushing cyber chores to evening hours makes time for a quick flat football game while the sprinklers run – work will always be there.
The daily chores in the lots, yards, working the gardens and tending the livestock keep us all busy. The heat drains our energies faster than usual so we find indoor chores earlier than we typically would. In fact, days into the heat wave I noticed by late morning even GoodGirl practicing new ways of holding the rugs down on the concrete.
It’s a dirty job but somebody’s gotta do it.
Have a happy weekend!
“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 11:28-30 (NIV)
Have I mentioned how I adore the weather in this region? Even when the triple-digit weather arrives, memories of summers in Phoenix, Arizona and the bitter-cold winters in Chicago-land remind me this climate is like a walk in the park. Besides, here the extremes of both intense heat or cold only last weeks and usually include milder parentheses.
As temperatures rose I noticed how the livestock and plants all cope in their individual ways. The horses and the steer all developed a new appreciation for early mornings and the sprinklers in the early evenings.
The chickens are mostly still much of the day and are laying about 50% less than they do in cooler temps. They only get excited in anticipation of fresh offerings from the garden and the kitchens when humans approach. We’ll see what impact a chicken tractor has soon.
To the east around the lawns the rose, begonia, nasturtium, snapdragon and hydrangea blossoms suddenly grow, mature and wilt astoundingly faster than usual.
Highlights of last evening’s walk included a trio of fledglings enjoying the cool concrete of the shaded patio while the flora also recover from the day’s heat. That was until giant, wingless beings arrived making the strangest chirping ever. I’m sure they were relieved after we moved indoors to listen to their chirps. We were also glad to hear they remembered how to fly back to their nests – safe from cats lurking nearby.
In my visit to town I noticed some people complaining about the heat. I also noticed they sounded much like the people that complained about the cold during the winter. They got me thinking about Job, “…Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?*” Shall we accept fair weather and not harsh?
Personally, I like variety and especially appreciate that the extremes here last only a short while.
“Enjoy prosperity while you can, but when hard times strike, realize that both come from God…” Ecclesiastes 7:14 (NLT)
*Job 2:10 (NLT)
As this week began, even with the four of us working at it, I felt the pressure keeping up with our super-sized vegetable garden. The weeds were seriously battling for the ground that served the livestock well in previous years.
Often I’d spend enough time bent over the rows that moving the rest of the day was a challenge. Even so I’m glad for it. Taking a little time out with ice packs each day began as physical therapy. As often happens I soon turned to prayer and in no time rose again refreshed and determined to keep up the good work.
“Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.” 1 Peter 5:7 (NLT)
About mid-week Cole took advantage of a western breeze. He mounted a tank on the ATV and drove it around the garden side of the fence, spraying the outward perimeter as he went.
Surprisingly, the only casualty was one sprinkler head at the north end and the conductor holding the hot wire above it. We replaced them quickly so the sun didn’t burn the entire north end of the crop. Two days later we can barely see where the balloon-like tires rode over the cantaloupe vines.
With a couple of days of light cloud cover we took a break from weeding to bring in the first loads of fire wood. Staying warm this winter should be much easier with a new log splitter due to arrive any time now.
With all that we still found time to relax a minute, count our blessings and gear up for fireworks later on this week.
And the lessons continue.
“Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (NIV)
“Walking and talking are two very great pleasures, but it is a mistake to combine them. Our own noise blots out the sounds and silences of the outdoor world; … The only friend to walk with is one who so exactly shares your taste for each mood of the countryside that a glance, a halt, or at most a nudge, is enough to assure us that the pleasure is shared.”
― C.S. Lewis, Surprised by Joy: The Shape of My Early Life
Rather than walking, I spend much of my time these days gardening, in the absence of real, present time human company. Friends’ encouraging and informative words visit me as I labor, but for the most part I listen to the livestock and the earth.
They actually resound all that I or anyone I know needs to hear.
“Let your roots grow down into him [Jesus], and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness.” Colossians 2:7 (NLT)
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:
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
“Books are like seeds. They can lie dormant for centuries and then flower in the most unpromising soil.” (Carl Sagan); “Nothing ever dies on the Internet.” (anon.); “This is not your father’s Oldsmobile.” (Madison Ave. [m]adman). My posts amalgamate these three philosophical elements into one novel experience; they champion critical thinking, human dignity / equality, levelheaded / even-handed / liberty-based governance and solid environmental stewardship. C’mon in!
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