Posted in Animals, Children, Faith, Family

The Hummers

I overheard them talking in the doctor’s office a few weeks ago.

You need to get ready for them.

They’re here.

We saw some at our place yesterday. 

Hummingbirds.

So I heeded their advice and went to The Walmarts to buy a couple of feeders.  I googled how to make sugar water (4 parts water to 1 part sugar), and I filled my feeders and hung them on the patio.

I doubted they would come.  Just because I doubt most good things will come in my life.  It’s a huge weakness in my character.  But lo and behold, as Emma Kate and I were outside enjoying the day, the dogs, and the chickens, they came.  They did!  Two of them hummed their way over to the feeders and got a drink.

I was thrilled.  Absolutely thrilled.  I ran to get my camera and of course, as in the way things happen, they flitted away to the trees.  I could still hear them tweeting and buzzing around, but they wouldn’t come to the feeders again.

I waited and waited and waited.  Some might find waiting on the hummingbirds tedious and boring, their minds filled with a laundry list of to-do’s that they would rather be doing, but the simplicity of the afternoon overtook me and as I waited on the hummingbirds, I sat in the sun and let it warm me all the way to my insides.  There’s something healing about a little sunshine warming the innermost.

I watched my darling daughter play in the animal’s drinking water.  We have a waterer for the chickens and a big bowl for the dogs, but they don’t seem to understand the distinction, so the dogs drink after the chickens and the chickens drink after the dogs, and Emma Kate drinks after both.  It’s good for the immune system I say.

She got pine needles and dunked them through the water and sucked the moisture off, she splashed, and she laughed.  And the laughter from a little child on a sunshiny spring day is music to the ears.

She herded chickens and hugged them from behind and Grace, our heeler dog, herded right along with her.  Ever vigilant to protect Emma from chicken danger.  Meanwhile, Drew, who’s a couple milkbones short of a full box, chewed on a pink bone and didn’t ever once feel his manhood threatened.  Real dogs chew pink bones.

And finally as the day drew to a close, and the sun dipped behind the house, and the shadows grew longer, I got a halfway decent picture of a hummingbird.  But my true treasure is the several decent pictures I got of a simple day in the backyard that soothed and healed my soul.

DSC_2125 DSC_2126 DSC_2149 DSC_2165 DSC_2163 DSC_2158

Advertisements
Posted in Animals

The Cat’s Meow

We haven’t had any chicken killings, no wild horse escapades,  nary a snake has snuck up on me of late.   The dogs have been calm, the skunks have been distant, no electrical or water outings to speak of.  Save my 9 month old causing a ruckus, it’s been relatively quiet here at the J & A Chicken Ranch.

The weather is turning cooler, and if you live in the country, inevitably means the mice try to scurry inside.

For the record, me and mice, we don’t jive. I usually keep poison out in little hidey spots and have a trap or two set, but now that our little EK is crawling and nosing around, neither poison nor traps are a good idea.

In case it bears repeating, me and mice, we don’t jive.  So I couldn’t just live with the nasty little varmints.  I knew they were around, being the light sleeper that I am, I could hear them in the night and quite frankly I was just a tad creeped out.  My mother told me she heard that rats ate a baby in New York City once and I just couldn’t bear the thought of mice nibbling on my tot’s ear or at the very least scuttling about throughout the house.

I had to do something, so do it, I did.

I brought home some cats.

Two little kittens were born under my mom’s house about 3 or 4 months ago.  My mom and my niece worked diligently taming the little cuties, feeding them saucers of milk, getting them to come in the house, until they were just almost pets.

One is a little gray and white one that Ashy mistook for a girl and named Flower and the solid black one is name Bandit, Bandi for short.  He’s a bit wilder.

I had to bring Flower out first, as we only had one cat carrier, and couldn’t fit them both in the carrier, much less catch the little black one.  As soon as the door was opened, Flower was MIA.  He took off and I didn’t hear from him for 3 days.  The food was eaten each night, but I wasn’t sure what exactly could be chowing down in his absence.  Finally on the 3rd night, we heard a meow coming from the tree so we knew he was still hanging around.

The next day, I quickly went to my mom’s and got Brother Bandi.  Now this little wiry black kitten is skittish and wild acting, but when the door to the carrier was opened, he just stayed put for a while.  Then he nonchalantly walked around the yard, sniffing around, venturing out of the front yard fence momentarily.  I was pleased to see that he wasn’t going to run and was hoping that he and Brother could reunite shortly.

I sat out and watched the reunion closely as they began mewing at one another.  Slowly the little gray kitten tiptoed off the haystack where he had stayed hidden and they scurried off together running underneath an outbuilding.  I sat on my bucket on that beautiful fall afternoon smiling  at how grand life is.  Then I went in the house.

It wasn’t much later that the quiet, grand life was interrupted with yelps, and barks, and bangs, and growls.  As I ran to peer out the back window, I discovered that Bandi had found his way into the backyard and the two dogs, Drew and Grace, were not appreciating their intruder.  The backyard had turned into a boxing ring with 2 against one and the dogs were winning.  I ran out there screaming and shouting, but our dog Drew will fight to the death and refuses to be called off of anything he has cornered.  The only way was to open the gate and convince them to go outside where Drew could go chase invisible rabbits and dig holes under pipe.

Once the dogs were gone, the little black cat pressed himself against the back screen door, wide-eyed and panting.  His fur was matted and wet from the battle and his heart was pounding.  He stayed there frozen.  I went to him to try to help him, but he ran away and climbed into a bush in the backyard where he stayed perched for at least an hour.

Finally, with EK in her stroller, I got a chair and stood atop to reach up and remove the little fellow.  He quickly hopped down, found his way out of the dog’s backyard territory and has stayed hidden every since.

My mom and Ashy came out that evening after I called and told them the story and were able to woo the frightened little guys out of hiding for a few minutes of reassurance.

Needless to say, the dogs are back in the backyard, one cat stays hidden on top of the stacks of alfalfa, the other stays hidden under an outbuilding.

I don’t think they like their new home much, but on a good note, I haven’t heard from the mice lately.

 

 

Posted in Animals

Chasing Rabbits

We have these two dogs.

Drew and Grace.

 

Grace is so appropriately named and could have easily been named Faith.  She is loyal to the end.  Always there right beside you.

Drew on the other hand, should have been named Retard.

He’s just  a big goofy dog who likes to chase rabbits.

We have some pipe lying around because

1) we live in the country and country people acquire crap like pipe
2) J-Dub was going to build something but instead it’s laid in the pasture collecting rabbits.

Our dogs are outside dogs who live in the backyard, lush with dirt, having trampled or eaten every stitch of grass or weeds that ever attempted to grow there.  But each evening when it’s time to do the evening chores, we let the dogs out.  Who let the dogs out?  I said we do.  Opening the backyard fence gate is like shooting off a gun in the 50 meter dash.  Away they go, barreling past, knocking you down if you hadn’t the foresight to move quickly, sprinting towards the wide openness.

Grace runs a little pace and then realizes she is Grace the Faithful and comes back and follows whomever is doing chores, getting the hay, the horse feed, gathering the eggs.  She’s their little sidekick.

Drew the Retard on the other hand, heads to the pipe.  Because once upon a time, many moons ago,  he chased a rabbit.  And maybe that rabbit ran into the pipe.  So Retard thinks it’s still in there and he is determined to chase it out.

He starts at one end of the pipe, sticks his nose in, tail wagging maniacally, sniffs around, then runs to the other end of the pipe, sticks his nose in, sniffs around, then back again to the beginning.  Ad nauseum.

Every night this is his routine.  After he has run circles around the pipe, sniffing and wagging,  he then begins to dig.  Because if he can’t sniff that nonexistent rabbit out of there, by golly, he’ll dig it out. He starts at one end of the pipe digging ferociously, runs to the other side and digs ferociously over there, then back to the beginning, ad nauseum.

 

Perhaps he’s digging a grave for the nonexistent rabbit when he ousts him from the pipe in which he does not live.

Finally around sundown, panting and bloody toenails, he is exhausted.  But he will not leave his post.  No sirree, not this soldier.  While Grace the Faithful lies on the porch waiting on master to put her up, Drew the Retard lies beside the pipe and keeps vigil on the nonexistent rabbits until we have to call him home to his lush dirt backyard to rest up for his next night of rabbit chasing.

 

 

Posted in Animals, Children

Peace, pecks, and pigs—Randomness

It’s a peaceful kind of morning.  No hustle, no bustle.

There’s a cool breeze, and it’s a nice respite before the West Texas July sun follows it’s usual path in the cloudless sky and the daytime temps rise to scorch and wither.  But after all, it is summer.  What else do we expect.

EK and I sat outside for a spell.  Me with my coffee, she with her glee.

Watching the world through the eyes of a baby brings on a new light.  I read that every day to a baby is like a visit to Paris for the first time for us.  The new smells, the new sights.  We would be on high alert, taking it all in.

Her yard is a far cry from Paris, I would have to imagine since I’ve never visited there.  But oh, how she takes it all in.  She notices the smallest things.  A leaf blowing across the yard, a black bird flying to rest in a tree top, the bark of Drew and Grace from the backyard saying, “We want out, let us out, we want to see you this morning too”, the choo choo whistle as it rolls down the tracks.

A chicken flew up on the arm of our chair with her beady eye and pointy beak.  Me, I’m a bit intimidated.  I don’t know why I suddenly became afraid of my chickens, as if they could peck me to death or something.  I usually shoo them away afraid they might peck EK, but today we just sat.  The chicken jerked her chicken neck around studying us, and EK stared back.  I put EK’s hand on her feathers to let her feel.

The other day my mom mentioned how the baby needs one of those toys, you know the kind we used to have as a kid.  Where you pull the string and the animal makes it’s sound.  I said, “Mom.  Look around.  Why does she need that?  We have horses that say neigh, dogs that say ruff, chickens that say bawk, cows that say moo, right here.”

That seemed to satisfy my mom, but it wouldn’t surprise me if she pulls up with a pig in the passenger seat one day.

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized

Gobble, Gobble, Wobble

It’s the most wonderful time of the year.  Yes, I know the song refers to the Christmas season, but I disagree.  I believe the Thanksgiving season is the most wonderful time.  It is my favorite by far. 

This thanksgiving, 2011, I am blessed beyond my wildest comprehension.  There has been loss.

And there has been gain. 

 

 How much things can change in one year.  
This time last year, I saw my dad alive for the last time.  We sat on the steps of my old house on a beautiful Autumn day as birds honked above overhead.  I mistakenly called them geese.  He was quick to inform me they were sandhill cranes.  He always loved the birds. 

We took a drive around the old Celanese plant  where he spent some time working years ago, and although we didn’t say much of anything, I’m sure he was venturing down his own memory lane, just as I am now.   Days gone by.  Out of reach.

I snapped this last picture of him and my sister lying in the floor, right before we watched Four Christmases together.  He forgot that blue handkerchief when he left.  It’s now washed and folded and put away in a box of things, along with a pair of glasses left forgotten.  He passed away the following February, and I have missed him everyday since. 

But we shall meet again, and there will be rejoicing.

This time next year, we will have a 10 month old little girl crawling around, possibly beginning to pull up, yanking all the popcorn and cranberries strands from the Christmas tree.  She will have brown hair and brown eyes and little dimples on her knees.  We will play peek-a-boo and patty cake, feed her pumpkin pie with lots of whipped cream, and smother her in kisses. 

And I’ll be tired, but it will all be worth it.

Things change.  There’s no doubt I’ve changed. 
And thank God for that.

Robert Frost said he could sum life up in three words.  “It goes on.”

And thank God for that too.

I hope you take a moment to be thankful today and everyday.  We are so blessed. 
Praise God.

Cherish Loved Ones.

Be happy.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Love,
Angel

Posted in Pregnancy

Baby

There comes a time in a blogger’s life, when she must decide if something is too personal to share.  It’s easy to share chicken stories and recipes, possum deaths, and classroom funnies, but not so easy to tell others when you’re falling apart.  Not for me anyway.  There is an occurrence in my life and something on my heart that I want to write down.  I want to be able to reflect back on this season.  And I must decide.  Do I want everyone who happens upon this blog to know my struggles?  But then again, there may even be the wild chance that it might help someone else.  Or even there might be someone who can help me.  Who knows. 

I’m a very private person really, although it may be hard to believe.  A lot of the things I write are simply stories and day-to-day happenings that really are just for entertainment purposes and possibly posterity.,  I keep myself tightly guarded for the most part, but sometimes I find myself wanting to share my emotions.  Today is one of those times. This leap leaves me wide open.  Open to criticism, open to judgement, open to pity.  Today I’m deciding to share something very personal and something that I’ve only shared with my closest loved ones.  But I’m sharing  it for a few reasons.

1)  Prayer:  It allows people to pray for me, which is all I’ve got. 

2)  Humility:  It’s very humbling to admit when I’m in the valley.  I don’t want to sin by being proud, and it is something I struggle with.  

3)  Support:  By sharing, I hope to hear stories that will comfot and rest my heart.

4)  Friends:  I know I have enemies, but I like to believe I have  friends too.  I know that people care about me and I am overwhelmed by the love of friends and even strangers who I only know through this computer screen.

My pregnancy was unplanned and the shock of my life.  It also has been a piece of cake so far.  At times, I’ve even felt guilty when I see and know of pregnant women who are struggling with sickness, puking their guts up,  hooked to IV’s, dehydrated because they can’t keep anything down.  I know that God has granted me good health during this time. 

I enjoy being pregnant.  After I passed through the initial shock and the acceptance stage, I have discovered  that being pregnant is an awesome experience.  When people ask me how I am feeling, I tell them I feel great, but what I really want to say, but don’t for fear of sounding hokey is, “I feel honored”.  And I do.  This is truly an honor to be chosen to carry a baby.  To know that I am working with God to create a miracle, if for only a short time.  To look at the night sky, at the vast expanse of stars, aware that the planet I live on is a tiny mass in a  small galaxy in a huge universe.  And I, an insignificant, minute speck, have been chosen to carry this one little being, this little combination of me and my dear husband, to nurture it, and sustain it.  Sappy, sappy, sappy, I know.  But it’s true.

I am beginning to get a little more excited each week.  My belly is starting to noticeably grow, and I love to lay on my back and press on my abdomen and feel that hard little ball of cells and organs, and imagine it slowly and miraculously developing into this being with fingers and toes and a little button nose whom I already absolutely adore.  I can’t wait to meet him.  Or her.

Yesterday, however, I received a call from the doctor’s office and it rattled me to the core.  At my last appointment, I had an optional blood test done called an AFPTetra.  It screens for certain abnormalities like Spina Bifida, Down’s Syndrome, and Trisomy 18, and tests to see if I’m a carrier of cystic fibrosis.  All the screens came back negative, except one.  Down’s Syndrome.  This does NOT mean our sweet baby has Down’s Syndrome.  It is only an indication that it is at an increased risk.  I’m sitting at the “advanced maternal age” of 36, and based on that,  it appears I have a 1:198 possibility it could have Down Syndrome.  Based on the test, however, I have a 1:75 chance.  This test has been known to worry and fret a lot of women, all for naught.  It’s only an indicator of risk, not a confirmation.  The test is notorious for false positives and more often than not, the baby is just fine. But even knowing all that, I experienced my first  tearful, worrisome night as a mother.   I cried, I fretted, I imagined, I planned, I prayed and prayed and prayed. 

Next Thursday I will visit a genetic specialist who will give me a consultation and an ultrasound.  The way I understand it, they will look for certain “markers” of Down Syndrome during the ultrasound.  It also can not confirm the baby has it, only an amniocentisis can do that.

It’s an extremely scary, uncertain time for us all.   My loved ones are praying and reassuring me that everything will be fine, and I desperately want to believe that.  My heart, my hope, and my faith is shaken right now.  But one thing I know:  God is good, all the time.  All good things come from Him.  I know that this precious baby is fearfully and wonderfully made, knit together, with all his days ordained.  I know that God will never give us more than we can bear.  I know that this baby may not have been planned by Jason and I, but it was planned by Him, and is loved immensely already,  no matter.   

We will hold tight to our faith and not allow the devil to cause fear and panic into our hearts. 

The scriptures I’ve been focusing on are: 

Proverbs 3:5—Trust in the Lord with all thine heart, and lean not on your own understanding.  In all thine ways, acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths. 

Isaiah 41:10—Do not fear for I am with you, do not be dismayed for I am your God.  I will strengthen you and help you.  I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

2 Timothy 1:7 For you have not been given a spirit of fear, but of power, love, and a sound mind.

Psalm 121—I lift up my eyes to the mountains—
   where does my help come from?
2 My help comes from the LORD,
   the Maker of heaven and earth.

 3 He will not let your foot slip—
   he who watches over you will not slumber;
4 indeed, he who watches over Israel
   will neither slumber nor sleep.

 5 The LORD watches over you—
   the LORD is your shade at your right hand;
6 the sun will not harm you by day,
   nor the moon by night.

 7 The LORD will keep you from all harm—
   he will watch over your life;
8 the LORD will watch over your coming and going
   both now and forevermore.

 ~Angel

 

Posted in Uncategorized

Newness

See, I am doing a new thing!  Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?  Isaiah 43:19

I awoke before my  husband.  Unusual?  More unusual than a flying armadillo.   Rather than rolling over and falling back to sleep, I groaned out of bed and crept through the dark house.  I laced up my tennis shoes and decided to greet the day with a walk. 

I was more than a little astonished to discover the sun does not rise before 5:45.  In fact, everything was still slumbering.  The horses, the birds, the sun, even the chickens.  But I do know  One who never sleeps or slumbers, no matter the time of day or night, this one is vigilant and waiting to hear from me, so He and I spent some time together.  And he put on quite a show. 

The morning was dark, but the moon was full, round and bright.  The eastern sky slowly began to lighten to a light blue.  I walked my driveway path that runs in front of my house from one gate to the next and then I turned around, back and forth, back and forth.  The sticks that lay before me on the dark path frightened me at first, until I realized they were just sticks laying in the dark and not the creepy snakes of which I first imagined. 

The chickens still slept in their coop, the horses stood as dark statues out in the pasture.  The whole world was quiet.  And dark. 

There is a sense of peace to arise before everyone else, to observe the whole day awaken, to experience the firsts. 

As the sun inched its  light upward, the world began to stir, slowly but then more increasingly.

Two birds sat on barbed wire; silhouetted against the early dark sky that began as deep blue, then transformed to light blue, pink, orange, red and then back to light blue as the sun found its place.

The birds in the trees began their morning songs, a few peaceful tweets soon turned into a cacophony of chatter and cheeps.

The chickens finally decided to make their morning debut with clucks of Good Mornings escaping into the air.

I walked my driveway observing the new day, thanking God for all things new.  Thanking Him for the opportunity to witness Him in action, as He brings forth each new day, each new breath, each new life.

He makes all things new.

The most miraculous of all perhaps being new life.  The little fingers.  The little toes.  The sweet pink lips.

Jason and I are on a new journey.  A journey of new life.  Of little fingers, little toes, and sweet pink lips.  We are bringing a new life into this world.

Partnering with God in the creation and witness of a miracle.

By His grace and mercy, we will hold this new baby in our arms come January. 

Jason is thrilled.  I for one, have been wrought with an array of emotions, predominately disbelief, shock and fear.   But I know whom I have believed, and I trust in the One who makes all things new.  It is in his working.  It is his timing and his plan.  I also understand the love and the blessing that this new creation is going to rock my world with is unfathomable.

If I may, I ask one thing of you.  When and if you think of us, would you speak a prayer on our behalf.   It would mean the world to us and our new blessing.

Blessings to you,

Angel