That’s what I should call it, but have you ever tried to herd turkeys? There is nothing run-of-the-mill about herding turkeys once they’ve escaped from the barn.
On a day when I had the privilege of helping top out buildings*, there was one barn door that just wouldn’t stay on its hinge leaving a gap as we made our rounds through the building. It was through that gap that nine turkeys made their grand getaway.
The thing about turkeys though is that they are not very intelligent and tend to run wild in every direction before making their way back to where they started.
In the case of these nine runaways, they hovered around the outside of the barn because they could hear their buddies inside. Unfortunately for me, they huddled about half way down the barn, and I had to deftly sneak up behind them and shoo them to the other end of the range house. Once we made our haphazard way back to the other end of the building, these fugitives found safety being back in the flock.
There is no joy greater that hearing your child say “mama” or “dada” for the first time, except maybe the happiness that comes from silence when they are sleeping after hearing those words 1,000,000 times.
I love my children more than anything in life…. but sometimes they get on my nerves.
It’s not so much that they want to be in my space, eat my food, prevent my sleep, or destroy my house, but that they cannot seem to leave each other alone for one, blessed second.
In those instances where the temptation to pester one another is too great, I always find myself in the form of a fire-breathing dragon fully prepared to skewer and roast their little, antagonizing selves. (Then I remember how much time and money I have invested in them, and I transform back into a loving, caring mother.)
After a particularly arduous 25-minute car ride to town last summer, I declared that no one was to call me “Mom” for the duration of our trip. (We were going to two stores and pick up lunch, but I wasn’t too sure I could avoid eating my young at that point.) I announced that I was no longer to be called “Mom,” but rather my children were to address me as “Lady Madame Josephine” before speaking to me at any time. This command was met with silence and then laughter from my children.
As soon as the first child chose to say the dreaded M-word, I pulled off into a parking lot, stopped the car, and with the blazing heat of a true mama dragon, I seared them with my words, “My name is Lady Madame Josephine. If you want to have lunch today you will address me as such.” Silence again.
No one spoke until we arrived serenely at our first stop. My daughter tentatively said, “May I ask a question?”
My reply, “You may.”
My daughter’s inquiry, “Why do you want us to call you ‘Lady Madame J… ‘; what was it again?”
I answered, “Lady Madame Josephine.”
My daughter again, “Why do you want us to call you ‘Lady Madame Josephine’?”
As I made my way around the corner, light from our basement stairwell startled me. My children are notorious for leaving on the lights throughout the house, but this time I was the only one awake and certain that I had turned off all lights before going to bed the night before. The glare from the stairs was unexpected and demanded investigation.
I made my way down the steps, and as I reached the bottom landing, I had to smile. The radiant light was shining through the artwork completed a year ago on our basement windows. The sun had not shone in a few days and its rays were something I really needed and appreciated in that quiet moment.
The windows found in my home and those around the globe, may not have held a candle to the ones found in our parish churches, but they allowed a creative light to shine in our hearts and homes last spring. In the throws of pandemic quarantine, I sought ways to bring joy and creativity to my children’s activities. As Easter approached and the weather kept us indoors, I joined thousands of other parents giving kids permission to paint their windows. Using tempera paint we created “stained glass” windows.
At the time, this was a fun and uplifting experience. Now, the fear and anxiety that came with the haunting pandemic are lessened and the pressures of what to do with ourselves in those uncertain times have diminished, but the artwork on our windows is still there brightening our days.
I could wash the windows and take down the reminder of what COVID 19 did to our lives last spring, but keeping the color on those panes has also been a positive prompt encouraging us to keep faith in spite of fear and that things will improve if we find ways to stay optimistic. It is in the light of last year that we can feel pride in our resourcefulness and gratitude for what we have accomplished and the continued blessings of our lives. So if you are feeling down or there is a darkness hanging over you, please know that there is light at the end of every tunnel and even the most stained of windows have the ability to let brightness shine in you.
By: Melanie A. Peters
P.S. Washing windows is a sad subject because washing windows makes me sad. Please don’t ask me to was these windows. 🙂
My spring anxiety has been full throttle lately, and after a super duper coffee date with my gal pal Erin, I don’t think I’m alone. She shared own version of the springtime stress out with me. Erin said she has also been feeling weighed down by a lot of stuff that she can’t control. We both were experiencing some crazy symptoms of stress. Have you been feel extra anxious or has your heart been beating faster lately or sleep been elusive?
If you answered, “yes,” to any of those, today’s post is for you.
“Being afraid of things going wrong isn’t the way to make things go right.”
Five months ago, you may remember that an election was held in our country. Prior to the election, tempers were flared and fear was prevalent in every aspect of our lives thanks to media coverage and unprecedented exposure to the candidates and their opinions. Unfortunately, the political circus left us all feeling like there were only two extreme options for leading our nation. Those drastic options caused most of us to believe, no matter who was elected, we would not be represented in the highest offices of our government. The new leadership has taken its place and the fears and uncertainty have morphed in new ways.
Here’s the beauty of todays’ message. We can’t let worry over what is going to go wrong consume us, because we can’t necessarily change the what-if’s. We can do our best to serve our nation in ways that are honest, right, and diligent. The concerns that we had before the election are things of the past, and we have the power now to move forward with our actions and intents. We have to elect to be rational, respectful, and responsible citizens and let those same attributes preside over our attitudes.
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.