Any farmer worth their weight in salt keeps quality conditions for their animals in the forefront of their agrarian efforts. There is a lot that goes into protecting and maintaining the range houses for our turkeys. One of the stinkiest tasks is topping-out the buildings. This process entails driving through the building with a tractor and litter machine. The litter machine sifts through the sawdust shavings on the floor and separates out the waste. The waste that is removed from the buildings makes terrific fertilizer, as it is completely natural and environmentally friendly. Once all of the waste is removed, we add fresh sawdust using a spreader bed. This allows the building to stay drier and healthier.
My job in the process of topping-out buildings is to open and close the doors as Hubby drives the tractor in and out of the barn, and to walk in front of the tractor shooing the turkeys out of the way. It may sound easy, but it’s NOT!
On a recent topping-out experience, Hubby yelled at me, “Don’t let me run you over!”
Well, as a I love my husband very much, I was somewhat terrified that he believed I had the power to stop over three tons of tractor and litter machine while he was in the driver’s seat. I guess the fact that he was the driver should have instantly solidified my trust in the process, but I was still leery. To make things worse, turkeys are stupid birds.
Burning rituals have been a part of society since civilizations first took shape. It seems that the act of allowing flames to consume things has healing properties. While the ceremonies of burning rituals do not all contain the same supply list or formal procedures, they all do have two things in common: fire and something to burn.
On a recent getaway with some of my gal pals, we lamented emotions and worries that were weighing heavily on us. As we sought respite in food, drinks, and re-runs of Friends, we were inspired (in part by Phoebe’s idea in “The One with the Candy Hearts”) to have our own burning ritual.
We would each write down the things that were weighing on us and then toss them in the fire. (Our rental cabin had the MOST amazing fireplace.) It took no time at all for each of us to jot down the issues we would like to see go up in flames. Before we decided to just willy-nilly toss our troubles into the fire, we thought it would be best to research burning rituals to see if there was anything that would increase the effectiveness of our sacrifice.
Temperatures have not risen above freezing here in 12 days and are not projected above 30 degrees for two more days. That’s a whole lot of frozen! Each and every time we go out, we prepare to freeze our butts off. (Thankfully, none of us has actually lost a tushy to frost bite.)
When the weather conditions are this extreme, we get a lot of folks wondering if the horses and cows are ok. While they may be tired of the waters freezing up and eating dry hay, the animals are doing alright. Newborn calves make things a bit dicey, but we do our best to accommodate them and their mamas.
The thing that we always explain to folks is that Mother Nature (as crazy as she may be) prepares animals long before the weather changes to be ready for the extreme conditions. They are built with layers of fat under their thick winter coats and are conditioned naturally to adapt for snow, ice, and wind. In fact, they knowingly turn their hind ends into the wind to form a barrier giving them the perpetual frozen butt appearance.
The snow forms a blanket on their hair and actually insulates the animals. The covering stops wind and hardens into a pocket of warm air between the snow and animal’s coat. Yes, the animals will also hunker down in hay, straw, or on the backsides of drifts to block wind and insulate themselves with body heat, but for the most part they just keep eating and drinking to stay warm and happy.
When it comes to keeping our livestock fed and watered, farmers have to maintain equipment that is thawed and running. Trucks and tractors are particularly problematic when it comes to making things move because, once they are frozen, it’s tough to get them going. Of course, we plug in the engines that have electric warmers and put additives into the diesel tanks, but -10 degrees is sometimes too cold for the preventative practices and often we find ourselves with frozen butts waiting for a truck or tractor engine to turn over and start. We always find ways to get grain and hay to the animals and work tirelessly to ensure that water is available for drinking.
As we face this frozen phase in winter, please keep the farmers and utility workers in your thoughts and prayers. There are no virtual options for clearing roads, fixing powerlines, delivering goods, or providing food for our homes. Some folks are freezing their butts off to keep electric on, services available, and cars out of ditches. While we can’t give them all heated seats or hot tubs to soak at the end of the day, we can say prayers, send supportive messages, and offer them acts of kindness when the opportunity arises. Nothing warms the heart like a sincere “Thank you,” a hug, or a cup of coffee for a job well done. Be safe. Enjoy the beauty of the snow. And take time to appreciate everyone out there with frozen butts and jobs to do.
By: Melanie A. Peters
P.S. Atticus and my kids thought I was crazy when I wanted to take a picture of his butt. I guess Mother Nature and I have a lot in common; we are crazy and have lots to teach them.
Maybe it’s the frequently falling snowflakes or the walls starting to close in after nearly a year of COVID quarantines, but being easily distracted seems to a more common occurrence these days. Even as I draft this post, my mind has already wandered off to granola bars, coffee, the laundry in the dryer, and what the heck my kids are doing. (Deep breath. Focus.)
Have you found your mind wandering with greater abandon lately? Has it been tougher to hold tight to your train of thought? Well, you are not alone.
When I Googled “How to focus better,” the search produced about 2,890,000,000 results. Yikes! That’s A LOT of information on focus and why we struggle with it. Perhaps the fact that there are nearly 3 billion internet options tells us that we have too much at our fingertips. That abundance of information and distractions makes maintaining concentration confounding.
With the power to cause oceanic chaos and mythological changes of men into wolves, it’s no wonder the moon also has the ability to disturb sleep. With a full moon’s glow glaring down last night, my entire household found it tough to rest. When I finally did coax our kiddos to sleep, my own rest was hard to restore. The dreams I had seemed to be more vivid and comfort harder to conceive.
Hubby always complains during the fullest phase of the moon that his sleep pattern is off (and he can normally sleep through anything).
Does the full moon keep you from sleeping well?
As we worked in the barns today, one of our farm hands complained of not sleeping well the last two nights and couldn’t figure out why. I told him it was probably the full moon and he laughed at me. Hubby and I both tried to explain that the full moon frequently poses problems for us when it comes to getting sleep.
Dealing with the typical millennial response, I did what any logical person would do. I Googled it.
I found a terrific article by George Citroner on http://www.healthline.com about the full moon’s ability to affect sleep. The article, “Can a Full Moon Affect Your Sleep?”, talked about a study done on the sleep patterns of three groups of people: those will no electricity, those with limited electricity, and a group from an urban setting with full electricity. The article supported what I already believed to be true. The days leading up to a full moon are those we are most likely to get the least sleep in all types of communities.
Being overwhelmed is a constant state for most of us. The list of to-do’s can never seem to get to-done, and distractions know no limits. Being a list-maker can help, but some of us have a tendency to either make too many lists or put so much on our agendas that it’s not feasible to finish any of it.
At a coffee date with Maddy Hoeltke-Brown, we talked about the unconventional way we are approaching life with our side hustles and how the 8-to-5 scene is not the career path we have followed. Even thought we’ve chosen different paths, Maddy is just getting started in her business ventures, while I’m trying to evolve with mine. She asked if I had any advice to help with her whirlwind of distractions as she tries to get a good focus on building her graphic design business.
First of all, I do not profess to be a guru in business and my blog and writing career are just getting going, but I know a little something about helping people pave paths to success from my experiences on the farm and in the classroom.
To get started, I shared Lysa TerKeurst’s story of dedicating time to her desired work. In her book, The Best Yes, Lysa talked about making the decision to take her writing seriously and scheduled time on her calendar to do just that. TerKeurst reflected the first time she had to turn down a lunch date because she had scheduled time to write. The act of saying no to someone, because she chose time for her own goals, made her feel guilty at first. Eventually, Lysa found that giving herself time to do what she needed to be successful was the ultimate route for making her goals realities. I advised Maddy to do the same. Each week I plan time to write and most weeks I am successful, but I also realize that life throws priorities in my way and I have to compromise to keep the big picture moving forward. That realization led to my second piece of advice.
I’m no Robert Frost, but I am an admirer of hearing “the only sound’s the sweep, of easy wind and downy flake.” I’m not an enthusiast of freezing precipitation and the havoc it wreaks on roadways, but I am a fan of the peaceful nature of falling snow and an even bigger admirer of Fridays. Fridays are the highlight of the week, but a Friday in a world that looks like a snow globe is a special treat.
The peaceful nature of today’s snowfall felt like a call to drop all the worries and stressors that have been weighing me down. The dance of flakes in a symphony of spiraling, soft landings seemed to lower my stress level and reminded me to just let go of the silly stuff that I can’t control. (Hopefully I don’t sound too much like the Frozen soundtrack.)
If you are not in a place where you can see or hear the snow, I hope you will enjoy this clip from my front porch.
The sights and sounds as the snow began to fall harder this morning
The Intentergy message for today is to let the falling snow be your call to peace. Even if for only a minute or two, taking in the frosty scene can help you forget what’s wrong with the world and the blanket of white can be a clean slate allowing you to find calm.
See the world for the beautiful and chaotic snow globe that it is.
Let the simple pleasure of flakes falling be the counterweight to your worries and find some balance between stress and serenity. While we are like Robert Frost in that there are probably miles and miles to go before we sleep, we can be grateful for the opportunity to watch these woods fill up with snow and empty our emotional overloads as we enjoy the sights and sounds of this wintery season.
By: Melanie A. Peters
P.S. If there’s enough snow, you can throw some snowballs to get frustrations out as well. A very peaceful practice!
P.P.S. My allusions to Robert Frost’s “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” do not have to stop here. I am so glad we are past “The darkest evening of the year,” and the day light is blissfully growing longer.
Every hour on the hour. Breaking, late-breaking, exclusive. National Broadcast Anxiety is produced at the speed of sound and sight. Our eyes, ears, minds, and hearts cannot escape. Tonight’s segment on how to handle media-based stress made it that much worse.
We can’t trust the “honesty” of journalism because they feed on National Broadcast Anxiety. Coming at you from every angle, but the only angle they want you believe is theirs. Loving our nation for what is it can’t be allowed. Only one side or the other can be accepted. They refuse to compromise…
The only ideals that do not deserve to be compromised Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness are excluded by National Broadcast Anxiety. Apparently, if their side is not happy then no one can be happy. The only pursuit is to divide. Liberty loses life when the desires of a radical few strip the American dream from those who are willing to work for it. Working for it isn’t enough. Speaking up is not accepted. Suffer in silence because standing up for yourself is considered prejudice. Be careful! You’ll end up on the NEWS.
N.E.W.S. – Directions that fail to lead anywhere but National Broadcast Anxiety. It’s time to change more than the channel. “Journalists,” listen. You are not speaking for America. You are speaking for ratings. State facts. Take out the loaded adjectives and labels. Tell the stories of what’s working. Use your avenues for advancement beyond that of overpaid officials and their tantrums. Share the problem-solvers. Mute the warmongers. Produce something positive. We don’t need any more seasons of National Broadcast Anxiety.
By: Melanie A. Peters
P.S. If we are ever going to find peace amongst ourselves, we must change the channels of journalism today.
“Sign here, please.” – Words that strike fear into hearts every minute of every day.
“Sign here, please.” – What do these words imply?
They imply agreement, sacrifice, and worst of all – commitment.
When I think of blank terror, I always remember the scene in Disney’s The Little Mermaid where Ariel is so desperate to become human that she signs away her voice in exchange for a chance to meet Prince Eric.
Everything in her body language says, “I really don’t want to do this,” but, if you’ve seen the movie, you know in her heart she felt like she HAD to sign it.
“Failure is not the opposite of success, it’s part of success.” – Arianna Huffington
It’s very rare to find someone who masters a skill with only one attempt. In fact, the attempts that we remember are usually the ones where we seemed to fail the greatest. While I haven’t had any huge failures to report as of late, I do have some pretty spectacular ones from the past and they have all helped me to find success in new ways.
One particular failure that came to mind was when I was first given the chore of mowing our lawn. I was 9 years old and my parents got a brand new Snapper riding mower. My dad showed me how to start the engine and the blades, turn the steering handles, and proudly set me off to mow down our unruly front yard. The one lesson that didn’t sink in was how to stop. On my first pass, I ran that mower right up the woven wire fence in our side yard. Fortunately, I was not injured, and the mower was okay (I think it gave up when I bailed from the seat.)
My dad came running and asked what the heck I was doing.
“Mowing the yard,” I screeched back through adrenaline and embarrassment. He pulled the mower off the fence, turned it around, and told me to get back on. We then practiced how to start and stop the machine before I was let loose on the lawn again.
I can’t say I never had another incident with a mower, but I can say that I became much more aware of what I did and did NOT know about a piece of equipment before I accepted the job of working with it. Now I know exactly what questions to ask before Dad or Hubby put me to work with a new tractor, truck, mower, rake, or baler. I know that to be successful with those implements, I have to possess working knowledge of they start and stop. It makes for a much more productive day on the farm.
“Failure is not the opposite of success, it’s part of success.” – Arianna Huffington