These guys will be happily strutting around in my pasture today. I don’t think they realize just how lucky they are. Wishing everyone a very Happy Thanksgiving!
How many times in our lives do we think we deserve more than we were given? We are settling for Joe, when Johan is out there waiting for us. You see, Joe and Johan are not the same.
What happened to all the fun? Youthful smoke mellowed days of partying with friends and letting the sun bake your skin to a deep golden bronze while blasting Zeppelin at ear-piercing decibels. Reckless and carefree without the slightest thought of future skin cancer, potential liver damage or permanent hearing loss. Living with no rules, no regard and no regrets. Thinking only of yourself.
And by the way, what happen to my fairy tale? The one where I find the perfect Mr. Right, we make our fortune, live in a beautiful home and have the perfect life. Where is my piece of the pie? Are the times to Carpe Diem really over? Is this all I get?
I struggled with publishing this post, feeling apprehensive about showing this negative side of myself. Then I realized feeling discontented with life is no new thing. From the Bible to Shakespeare to Steinbeck to the Hollywood big screen, many have lamented over the cards they have been dealt. In the movie The Family Man, Nicolas Cage plays Jack Campbell, a successful Wall Street Executive bachelor who gets to see what his life might have been like had he given up his perfect life and stayed with his old sweetheart. Much like George Bailey in It’s A Wonderful Life, Jack encounters an angel on Christmas Eve who offers him the opportunity to see life from another path. After a shocking wake up call on Christmas morning in middle class suburbia, wearing Walmart sweat pants and surrounded by all the other mediocre trappings of normal family life, Jack flees back to the city only to discover his former perfect life is nonexistent.
Upon returning to his bland middle class life, he encounters his now wife Kate who rips into him for leaving his family on Christmas day, letting him know how frantic she has searched for him. Jack replies “Look, you don’t understand. I woke up this morning here. And this is very strange because… this isn’t my house… And those aren’t my kids… I’m not Dad… You’re not my wife.”
Sometimes I look at my own life and think what happened to me? As I am surrounded by the cracking plaster on the 50 year old walls of our country home. The badly patched hole in the ceiling, the unfinished crown molding and the wood floor that still lacks a threshold. The leftover casualties of the countless DIY projects my husband eagerly starts, but never seems to finish. I look at the lines on my 50 year old face, the gray in my hair and I do not recognize my own reflection in the mirror. Who is that person looking back at me? I look at my daughters, now in their twenties, and think that’s who I am. I should be out living it up!
I’m not this older woman looking back at me. Frazzled and twenty pounds overweight, trying to manage my household while working and caring for my own elderly parents. As I am dealing with my parent’s multiple medical issues, doctor’s appointments, bills that need to be paid and trying to determine how to handle the next ball I’ve been given to juggle; I see my family go about their daily lives and I want to scream “I need to be taken care of!” “I’m hanging on by a thread here!” “Dear God, please give me another life!”
Then a somber reality hits me like a ton of bricks and just like George Bailey and Jack Campbell, I realize I would be nothing without them. An empty shell. A dried husk. A tumbleweed blowing in the wind. They are my roots. My anchor in the storm and my nourishment after the rain. They are my Zuzu’s petals. My reality and my reason for being. They are my destiny.
So I shamefully fall to my knees and ask forgiveness for being so selfish. Then say a prayer of thanksgiving for all that I have. I get up, wash my face, then wash the 8,968th load of laundry and smile as I ask “What are you hungry for tonight?” Because the simple fact is I am blessed beyond measure and cherish the life I’ve been given.
When it’s all said and done, I still choose us and it is a wonderful life…
When my family moved to our country home in 1995, we were eager to embrace all the wonderful opportunities that country living had to offer. We mended the old fence and barn and soon added our share of farm animals to complete our little country haven. Our animal menagerie included a flock of laying hens and a rooster to give us fresh eggs, but over the years our flock decreased and eventually our fresh egg production came to an end.
Recently, after purchasing a $4.00 carton of organic cage free eggs, I discovered all the eggs were disgustingly runny and obviously inedible. Having this less than satisfactory experience with store-bought eggs, and being aware of the absolute horrors chickens have to endure in the commercial egg production industry, we decided to rebuild our chicken coop and start enjoying our own farm fresh eggs again.
My husband spent all weekend building the new coop and we went to our local feed supplier and bought 4 baby turkeys, 10 chicks and 1 rooster Like our Rat Terrier, I too find watching the baby chicks completely spellbinding and I have begun to named them based on their personalities.
My favorite is the largest Black Spanish turkey that I have named Hey Zeus. He is just a baby, but he’s already trying to strut his stuff. I don’t think the girls are impressed, judging by the expressions on their faces.
Now for my contribution to the new chicken coop; the decor. My husband is quite the handy man and we always have wood scraps leftover from past DIY projects. I found these weathered wood scraps and thought they would work out great for making some homemade signs.
Next I gathered up my acrylic paint, paint brushes and paint sponges. Then I painted the wood a solid color and outlined the edge with a contrasting color, creating a framed effect.
Then I purchased two different stencils. One was a cursive type and one was block type letters
Using a sharp pencil, I traced out the word Farm Fresh on the wood using the cursive letters and the word EGGS using the block letters.
Then I highlighted the word Farm Fresh in a bright yellow and painted white eggs around the word EGGS.
Next I carefully painted in the words. You will need a steady hand and a very small detail paint brush.
And here’s the finished product. Add some eye hooks and a chain to hang it and throw on a couple of coats of clear polyurethane to weatherproof and it’s ready for the coop. Now to decide what to put on the other two signs.
The coop will only be used to protect the babies while they are growing. As soon as they are big enough, the door to the coop will be left open and they will have free access to the yard and pasture, as nature intended. If you would like to help support current legislative efforts in banning the barbaric and cruel practice of battery caged chickens in the US egg industry; please visit the Humane Society of the United States website by clicking on this link: Help Improve the Lives of Laying Hens
The following information was taken from the Penn State Live website. You can click on the heading below to see the full article.
“Compared to eggs of the commercial hens, eggs from pastured hens eggs had twice as much vitamin E and long-chain omega-3 fats, more than double the total omega-3 fatty acids, and less than half the ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids,” she said. “Vitamin A concentration was 38 percent higher in the pastured hens’ eggs than in the commercial hens’ eggs, but total vitamin A per egg did not differ.”
”Eggs of the hens that foraged grasses had 23 percent more vitamin E than eggs of hens that foraged clover. “Results suggest that grass pastures may enhance vitamin E in eggs of pastured hens more than clover,” she said.”
It amazes me how my life’s journey takes twists and turns and in the process valuable lessons are learned. The first twist is I have had lower back pain off and on for the last few years. It happened when huge german shepherd I was working with took an unexpected turn at full speed and wrenched my back out of whack. Being the hippie and naturalist that I am, I do not seek medical help unless it is a life or death situation. I’ve probably only been to the Doctor a couple of times in the last decade. I try to eat healthy, exercise and use natural alternatives to medication when possible.
The second twist is the great dryer sheet debate that has gone on in my household for years. My husband Scott hates using dryer sheets and never puts them in when he loads the dryer. Then I take the clothes out and they are full of static and the inevitable argument ensues. He says they are full of chemicals and not necessary. I say it’s hard to look cute if your clothes are plastered to your body like lumpy wallpaper. To add to the debate, my daughter Rachel has been on me for years about leaving the dryer sheets on the floor after I fold the laundry. Dryer sheets have been and are destined to remain a hot topic in our family. The third twist is I lost my job on Monday.
Now, on to the valuable life lesson. Earlier this week I was doing my daily household chores and in the background I heard one of my dogs yelp. I hurried through the house in search of the commotion (the dog turned out to be fine), but as I was dashing through the laundry room my barefoot stepped on a dryer sheet (the ones I always leave on the floor) and down I went like fat kid on a seesaw. The dryer sheet skiing foot slid out in front making me do a partial split and I ended up landing on my opposite knee, while sitting down hard on my crumpled non-skiing foot. After uttering string of words that would make a sailor blush, I was left with a skinned knee and badly bruised toe, but the pain in my lower back was totally gone! I think may have received an unintentional chiropractic back adjustment. This is how the karma of my life flows, the good always makes its way back around. Even bad things can have a positive outcome. So I’ll try to have faith and not sweat it when life takes the unexpected twist or turn. Usually there is something better waiting to be discovered around the bend.
This past week has been one of introspect which led me to think about how dangerous those darn little sheets are (Scott and Rachel, you were right and I was wrong). So I started searching the internet for similar stories. To my surprise, I found out that many people complain about getting sick from dryer sheets and liquid fabric softeners. Go ahead and read the ingredients on your dryer sheets, if you can find them. For some reason, dryer sheets seem to have escaped having to list their ingredients on the package. Could it be the manufacturers are trying to hide something? My own dryer sheet ingredients simply say: contains fabric-softening agents (cationic types) and perfume in a non-woven sheet
Here’s a list of just some of the dangerous chemicals found in dryer sheets and fabric softeners.
Some of the symptoms experienced from prolonged exposure to the types of chemicals found in dryer sheets include headaches, nausea, vomiting , dizziness, central nervous system disorders, blood pressure reduction, fatigue, difficulty breathing, skin irritation, difficulty concentrating and remembering, cancer, irritation to skin, mucus membranes and respiratory tract, and liver damage. This can’t help but make one wonder if dryer sheet usage may somehow be contributing to our current rise in Alzheimer’s disease?
Although I will miss their sweet scent and static control, I am going to make an effort to eliminate them from my household. Here are some natural alternatives to using dryer sheets and fabric softeners:
Click on image above for a great DIY clothesline project.
With all the natural alternatives, surely we can eliminate those chemically soaked sheets of destruction from our households and maybe in the process improve our overall health.
The little boy front and center is my dad Kenneth (aka Ken, aka Benjamin, aka Ben). My dad grew up in Central Texas during the hard lean times of the 30′s and 40′s. He was the second child in a family of eight children. His family was dirt poor and barely had enough money for food and clothing. In order to survive they all spent many long hours out in the fields, picking cotton. Life was hard, but they got by as best they could. The one thing of great value that they possessed was their talent. The whole family consisted of a hodgepodge of talented musicians, singers, songwriters and storytellers.
His family had very few possessions, but there was always an old guitar or fiddle in the house. When my dad was about six years old, he was allowed to start learning to play the guitar. He was thrilled to have the opportunity to learn and like the rest of his family, was blessed with a natural talent. He learned to play by ear while listening to a songs on the old battery-powered radio and then figuring out the correct chords to play. In no time at all he was playing entire songs and singing along.
One Sunday after church my Papaw, who later became a minister himself, invited the Preacher over for Sunday dinner (in the South dinner is the meal served at noon and supper is the evening meal. (For a of humorous explanation of supper vs dinner check out the Real Southern Men blog: http://real-southern.com/2011/07/13/twanglish-lesson-supper-vs-dinner/) After dinner, which I’m sure consisted of fried chicken, pinto beans, collard greens, cornbread, and tea cakes for dessert, my Papaw was eager to show off his son’s newly developed talent to the visiting Preacher. Papaw said “Ken go your guitar and play us a little something.” Little Ken acted shy at first, but with a bit of prodding from my Mamaw, he tuned up his guitar and belted out the following song:
“Well, bring it on down to my house honey there ain’t nobody home but me. Bring it on down to my house honey I need your company. Yeah, your momma won’t fret if you bring it over here. Preacher won’t know and the neighbors don’t care. So bring it on down to my house honey ain’t nobody home but me.”
To this day my dad is still hilarious and full of mischief. Thank you Dad for showing me the importance of music, the art of storytelling and most of all for having such a great sense humor.