Ever drive down the road and pass an old, abandoned farmhouse? Of course, you have. Have you ever wondered who lived there? Was it a big, happy family? Or was it a lonely spinster? Why is the house now abandoned and in disrepair? I often wonder these things, because in my short time here on this earth I have seen houses go from thriving centers of happiness and activity to forlorn and dilapidated structures with sagging roofs and broken windows.
I see one of these houses and I think, someone had a “last night” in that house. A “last meal”. A “last birthday”. A “last Christmas”. There is a long list of “lasts” in our lives and sadly, we cannot remember most of them. Do you remember the last time you sat in your mother’s lap? Or the last time your dad pitched baseball with you? Do you remember the last meal you had with your grandparents? Or the last time you read a book to your child?
Thank God for your blessings. Live each day and cherish each experience as if it were your “last”. It just might be!
I was rummaging through the books on our shelves today and came across “The Dangerous Book for Boys”. I bought both of our boys one of these books in 2008. I signed each book as such…
This is an awesome book, packed full of knowledge all little boys should know, from tying knots to making paper airplanes. One of the sections covered building a tree house and I tried to recall all the tree houses, forts, hideouts, and clubhouse I had occupied over the course of my childhood. There were many.
My first treehouse was one my father built for me. It was not much, just some scrap lumber, lovingly crafted together to make a platform beneath the canopy of a persimmon tree that grew along our pasture fence line. My Dad later moved my swing set down under that tree and I can fondly recall many happy hours I spent playing there.
There is just something about a pile of lumber that calls to little boys. When I grew old enough to wield a hammer and saw, I wanted to build my own tree house. I wanted my next one to be bigger, I wanted it to be higher, and I wanted it to have a trap door with a rope ladder. So, I when I was ready to build it, I moved to the next tree down the fence line (which happened to also be another persimmon tree) and I built my “grand” tree house. It was much higher off the ground. It was twice as big. It had a trap door AND a rope ladder. But you know what? I did not have as much fun in my new and grander tree house as I did in that simple one my Dad built for me.
Isn’t that how life is for most of us? We are always in search of the next biggest and better thing and oftentimes, what we leave behind in our quests, turns out to be exactly what we needed all along.
“If I ever go looking for my heart’s desire again, I won’t look any further than my own backyard. Because if it isn’t there, I never really lost it to begin with.”
Why is it that blueberries ripen during the hottest and most humid days of summer? This evening will find me balancing precariously on a step ladder, leaning over and reaching for the biggest and plumpest berries that always seem to grow just out of reach at the top of the bush. We had an afternoon shower today and that cooled us off to a balmy 90 degrees but it also shot the humidity level even higher. Honestly, I look out the window and I start sweating. Anyhow, back to my story of how miserable it will be out there. If it were just the heat and humidity, that would be enough, but the sweat will drench my clothes and sting my eyes. It is a constant battle against the gnats, flies, and ants. But once these berries start to ripen, they will continue to ripen at such a pace that you have to pick them every day. Also, if you miss a day you may be sure that the birds (who love blueberries) will not.
We currently have 18 young bushes on our farm and have plans to add even more. We will hire out help to pick these bushes when they mature and we will sell these berries along with our other farm products, but for our own personal stash of blueberries, I pick 3 bushes at my parent’s farm. One of the bushes is old and massive. From this bush alone I pick enough berries to fill our freezer and last my wife and I (we make smoothies with them for breakfast) for an entire year. I also gather a lot of wool from these bushes.
Wool Gather: verb:indulge in aimless thoughts and daydreams.
As hot and miserable as it might be outside, my mind soon begins to “gather wool” as my fingers deftly pluck the hanging berries and drop them into my bucket. Time passes quickly when you begin to “gather wool” and before you know it, your bucket is full. What kind of wool do I gather? Whatever kind pleases me. I may recount a childhood adventure, I may think of a long lost friend, I may even revisit Christmases of yesteryear while the sweat drips from my brow. I look forward to my berry picking. It makes me stop and pause from my busy routine. It gives me a chance to remember, reflect. It gives me an opportunity to recall some long forgotten memory that warms my heart and makes me smile. I like picking berries. And gathering wool.
My thoughts ran a wool-gathering. ~ Miguel de Cervantes
Porch-sitting has become a lost art, an obsolete social platform that has taken a back seat to smart phones, laptops, and computers. Young folks do not even call their friends anymore – they text them! Skype, Zoom, and WebEx have taken the place of real-life, face-to-face meetings and get-togethers. And whenever people do get together, they interact on a superficial level. Don’t believe me? The next time you are in a restaurant and you see a group of people together, take a moment and observe them; most are on their phones and totally disengaged from present company. Maybe this is the silver lining behind this COVID19 cloud that has darkened our nation, our very planet even? Maybe this is a crisis that will tear our attention away from these electronic devices and dial our focus in on our family, friends, and loved ones?
My parents came from a time that was pre-smart phone and pre-computer. I remember those times myself and I am only 58. Back in those days, if you wanted to find out how your neighbor was doing you had two options – call them up on a dial-up land-line phone or travel to their home to visit with them. Often these visits would take place on a big open porch, where the adults could sit in the shade while watching the kids play in the yard. “Dropping in” on someone was not an intrusion – it was a pleasant surprise and visits could last for hours.
I remember my grandparents’ home so fondly and the Sunday get-together we’d have there when I was a child. After a big meal (which always included fried chicken) everyone would migrate to the front porch. The porch itself was deep and high with metal awnings that shaded it from the noon-day sun. It wrapped around the front of the house and down the side towards the kitchen. There was a wide assortment of chairs, rockers, and glider swings to choose from. Once people settled in, they often sat in silent appreciation of the food and admiration of a peaceful afternoon. It was a comfortable silence. Soon, however, someone would ask about a neighbor, or comment on the weather, or mention how well their tomatoes were doing. The conversation would ebb and flow among the adults on the porch while the children climbed high into the tops of the magnolias on the front lawn. There was a sense of… contentment.
Maybe that’s what’s wrong with society today? Maybe we have lost our sense of contentment? Maybe, when this virus has passed, we need to gather with loved ones on our porches and just… be there with one another.
“Happy is said to be the family which can eat onions together. They are, for the time being, separate from the world, and have a harmony of aspiration. ” ~Charles Dudley Warner
Lawns get cut for their first trim Green grass glistens with morning dew Birdies chirp songs of sunshine delight Daffodils and tulips dance in the breeze Dogs go for longer walks Everyone and everything loves the joy of spring ~Wendy Schreiner
Springtime is my favorite time of the year, especially on the farm. It also happens to be one of the busiest times of the year. We made it through out first year of selling eggs and through trial and error we have learned from our mistakes and made adjustments and still have a few adjustments to make. What has that to do with springtime? With the longer and warmer days, our hens are beginning to lay again. I need to get things ready to begin selling our eggs and there is much to do.
Last year, we sold out every week on the Clemson Area Food Exchange. That’s not saying a lot, because we started off with only 25 hens. This year we are expanding and I need to order 50 more chicks so they will be laying by August. I will keep the 25 I have for another year and then sell them while they are still laying.
Also, last year, we moved from mobile enclosures to permanent enclosures. I believe hens require 108 square feet per bird to be considered pastured hens, but we have well over double that and I plan to add even more. I’m also moving away from the 3′ electric netting and installing 4′ plastic landscape/builder netting. It will cut my fencing costs by almost 75% and the extra foot of height will help keep a few Houdini hens within the enclosure with the rest of the flock.
Other changes for this year:
Expanding the enclosure to encompass a spring. This will give the flock a steady supply of fresh, cool water in the hot summer months.
Swapping the individual plastic nesting boxes with a large metal Best-Nest roll-out box. This nesting unit will accommodate up to 45 hens and it prevents them from eating their eggs. It also keeps the eggs cleaner so that they require less scrubbing when washed.
Get the farm delivery truck ready. This is a bright red 1965 Chevy pickup. Great advertisement.
We are still planning on raising some broilers this spring too. We don’t have our processing building setup yet, but we are working on it. Until then, our broilers will be processed and stored here in our home. Just as we did with the layers, we are going to start slow with the broilers and will probably only raise about 25 this first go around.
“In the spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt.” ~Margaret Atwood