Herding Turkeys… : An Emotional Chore

All in a day’s work….

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.

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Luck is in the Eye of the Observer – March Positivity Challenge

Have you ever witnessed someone’s success and thought, “Man, that guy is so lucky!”?

As the college basketball season wraps up with the wonders of the national championship tournament, I am enthralled with the games and the amazing feats of the players on the court. All too often I take for granted that the men and women making those shots and executing impressive defenses worked countless hours and put in immeasurable efforts to be there.

I will sometimes find myself saying snarky things like, “Must be easy if you’re 7-feet tall to block that shot” or “Come on! You’re a Division I basketball player; make your free throws.” My jeers and cheers often fall short of the reality that those athletes are under a great deal of pressure, and my yoga-pant-wearing, couch-coaching isn’t providing any assistance or luck to anyone.

Luck is usually a trait that is determined by someone observing a situation. Yes, we can feel lucky because of a positive experience or encounter, but for the most part we consider ourselves to not be as “lucky” as everyone else because we always see someone else’s wishes coming true.

I am reminded of a my last basketball game in the 8th grade. My sister, whom I had always played with on the same team, was in the hospital recovering from a life-saving surgery, and our team and I were playing our arch rivals from Perryville. It was the consolation game of the end of season tournament, and I wanted nothing more than to win that game for my sister. The entire game was a close one. With 10 seconds left, we were tied. After I tied the game with a free throw, the other team was brining the ball down the court.

Their player, a girl who I seriously did not like, dribbled past our guards and stopped right in front of me. She shot. My finger tips grazed the ball.

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My Butt is Frozen

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.

Stinky Valentines

What do you do when your loved ones think your valentines stink? Well, I’m writing a blog post about it, but hopefully, there is a lesson to be learned from having stinky valentines.

Our recent crazy schedule and even crazier weather prevented me from taking the kids shopping for their valentines this year. I had a window of approximately 2.5 hours to get groceries and run errands in town one morning. Prior to making my mad dash to the big city of Jefferson City, I asked each child what kind of valentine and treats they would like to share with their classes. Each one reported what they would like, but all three ended their request with, “Just get something.” (Clearly, their love and gratitude was shining in those moments.)

For my 8 year-old son, I purchased dinosaur valentines with Rice Krispie treats. For my 10 year-old son, I purchased his standard sports valentines with ring pops. For my 12 year-old daughter, I purchased chocolate craze valentines and Fun Dip packets. The chocolate craze valentines came complete with chocolate-scented erasers.

I thought these were fairly successful purchases, but the 12 year-old was not pleased with the chocolate craze valentines and proceeded to tell me they were stinky and kind of creepy. The 10 year-old nosed his way into the conversation and agreed with the 12 year-old that her valentines stunk.

I was shocked! As a choco-holic, I could not fathom the idea that people wouldn’t love chocolate-scented erasers!

According to my daughter, it’s wasn’t a big deal. She was fine with just taking the Fun Dip packets, but it’s the principle of the thing. How could my family think the valentines I selected stank?

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Not All Horses Eat Apples: A Lesson in Giving

Atticus refusing an apple slice

Not all horses eat apples. This was a heartbreaking realization for me, as my entire childhood was filled with dreams of sharing apples with my horses before we took long, rides through rolling pastures. Today my dreams are still to take long rides through rolling pastures, but no longer do I picture my herd running happily toward me ready to nibble red and greed apples from the palm of my outstretched hand.

In fact, I own two horses that generally turn their noses up at apples or any treat that is not peppermint. On rare occasions, Star will give apples a chance if they are cut into thin slices. Atticus just plain walks away or spits them out. If I offer a treat that is apple flavored, both Star and Atticus will turn their heads in search of something better.

Star walking away from an offered apple slice

Winn Dixie is whole other story. She will scarf down any apples that are offered and scoops up those refused by her herd-mates. How could I have been so wrong about apples and horses?

Have you ever pictured giving something to someone and knew it was going to be perfect, only to have them reject or refuse the gift?

Why does it hurt so badly when our gifts are rejected? Why is it so difficult for us to digest that what we thought was just right doesn’t resonate with the recipient? Why don’t all horses like apples?

The answer to these questions is simple. Sometimes our hearts are in the right places, but our minds are on different trains of thought than that of the one we are trying to gift.

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January 2021 – Positivity Challenge

Forgive and forget… easier said than done. I’m gonna make it happen in 2021.

It is true that we are often our own worst critics, but being a flawed human (just like everyone else) I have come to the realization that I am pretty critical of a few other folks in my life.

My cynicism is the result of my failure to forgive. I can’t be my best if I do not absolve my grievances with the people who have hurt or hampered me in the past. Never would I claim to be completely innocent of hurting others, but if I am ever going stop the damage to my own self-esteem and the esteem I have for others, I am going to have to do some forgiving.

My 2021 Vision Board: It’s going to be a GREAT year!

When I started gathering ideas for my 2021 Vision Board, I knew I needed to work on my relationship goals with some people in my life, as well as myself. Setting a goal for greater compassion and acceptance was something that my Vision Board simply HAD to display.

In my search through magazines and websites, I couldn’t find just what I needed to say on my board, until I stumbled across a quote from Galina Majda in Mukilteo, Washington. (I am sad to say I don’t know what magazine this was from.) Galina’s statement of forgiveness was EXACTLY what I needed for myself and my relationships.

“Every night before I go to sleep, I forgive everyone, including myself.”

Wow! Wow! Wow!

“I forgive everyone, including myself.”

Wow!

Do you ever lay awake at night hashing over the mistakes you made or the things you forgot to do? Do you ever just lay there simmering in regret or guilt or anger? I know I do. Ending the day with a mentality of forgiveness could stop all of that wasted worrying and bring about greater peace. It’s what I need to do.

Maybe you do too.

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Alien Forgiveness – Wise Words Wednesday

Mom-guilt is the WORST guilt. After a recent bought with illness, I had to wrestle this most worrisome of self-reproaches. Mom-guilt crept up often as I tried to get rest, let the kids cook, and not let the chaos of my unkempt home get to me.

I was sick enough that an outer space alien could have easily taken up residence and claimed our home for his base, and I would not have felt the impact, so forgiveness is an alien entity I’m going to have to let in.

Climbing my way out of the chaos and regaining my strength, I’m finding that I need to be nice to myself or I’m never going to feel better. (Maybe not “never”, but it’s going to take a while.)

As we tackle the challenges of giving our families the “perfect” Christmas and making all of our relationships as meaningful as possible, I encourage you to accept that most alien of notions, the notion of self-forgiveness.

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Forget Seek. I Just Want to Hide.

Forget seek. I just want to hide. I really, really just want to hide. No need to seek me out. I will be okay. I just need to disappear for a bit.

Have you ever sat in your car after turning it off and not gotten out? Did you let the quiet sound of car cooling and silence envelop you? It’s sort of magical, until your family realizes you are out there and bum-rushes the vehicle forcing you to begrudgingly get out.

As we navigate the noise of working from home and distance learning with our kiddos, the drone of electronic devices is deafening, the chaos all-consuming, and the need for privacy imperative. Sometimes I take out the trash, just to take in a minute of peace. (Of course the dog always joins me, but at least he’s usually glad to see me and never asks anything but for a belly rub.)

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The Discipline to Want the Most – Wise Words Wednesday

Discipline – the classic struggle between what we want right now and what we want most.

Abraham Lincoln was an expert on making tough choices based on what he wanted most. He built a career and defined a nation by working for what he knew was necessary to unite our peoples and continue to establish America as a world power. After all how could a nation divided be the most powerful country in the world?

Discipline is something that many feel is a violation of their rights. They believe that if they want to do something, go somewhere, buy something, or say anything, it’s not “fair” to have to work for it or take into consideration the impacts their impulses will have on the big picture for their lives and what they want beyond that moment in time. The demand for instant gratification and knee-jerk reactions to the work and words of others has cast an ugly shadow over what we really need and want as a society.

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Nobody is Born a Saint – Wise Words Wednesday

Nobody is Born a Saint – Wise Words Wednesday

When it comes to being far from perfect, I’ve got imperfection in the spades. I often beat myself up for having so many flaws and petty insecurities. It’s tough being human. (Do you ever get down on yourself for being less than perfect?)

In his homily this past Sunday, Fr. Tony addressed the challenge that is posed to us by All Saints Day. With tremendous understanding and the right amount of humor, Fr. Tony reminded us that the canonized saints were human too. They struggled with jealousy, anger, fear, and weakness (among other things). In his narrative, Fr. Tony dared us to be like the saints. His All Saints Day challenge is to live with love, compassion, and faith at the center of our thoughts and actions in spite of our struggles.

Nobody is born a saint, but we all have the power to be saintly in our words and works. In the bulletin “Message from Fr. Tony,” he thoughtfully stated, “The simple but reassuring fact is that nobody was born a saint. It’s something we have to strive to become… All Saints Day calls us to something beautiful. It reminds us of our great potential – the promise that lies within each of us. The promise of holiness.”

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