• Working Hard and Going Nowhere Fast?

     

    Try not to become a man of success. Rather become a man of value. –Albert Einstein

    Bessie is hard working but never really gets anywhere. There are a lot of folks who can relate to her in that regard. Working your backside off to

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  • 5 Principles Your Fence-row Is Telling You about Life’s Journey

     

    Don’t ever take a fence down until you know why it was put up. –Robert Frost

    Farms and fences, they go together like women and chocolate. Both items are necessary to maintain control and peace on our little patch of ground. Our fence-row is narrow, bounded by trees. I have spent countless hours in this narrow space along life’s journey; mowing, trimming trees, mending fence and on and on the list goes. I also spend a fair amount of time just walking along this fence-row, as I find it is a peaceful and pleasant place to stroll along and chew over whatever life has offered of late.

    To me, this fence-row embodies the nature of how life is a journey in many ways. Here are just a few:

    1. Straightness is key.

    Nobody wants a crooked fence. Beautiful fences are perfectly straight. When first installing our fence we used high tech tools like laser levels so our fence would be the epitome of straightness. This turned out to be a lot of fuss and we soon discovered a good ole’ fashioned string worked just as well.

    There are a lot of distractions in life. These meanderings from the desired path cause us to lose focus on our goals and get our priorities out of order. The sooner we find our passion in life and commit to following the straight and narrow the better off we will be on our journey. Crooked lives, like crooked fences leave behind the regret of not taking the time and making the effort to maintain straightness.

    2. Sometimes things get in the way.

    Our farm was hit two consecutive years by tornadoes. No, we are not Irish, nor do we have their luck. Needless to say, our tranquil fence-row was abruptly converted into a disaster zone by nature. Following, there were days of picking, cutting and dragging to clear the rubbish and downed trees.

    While you may not be so lucky as to be the victim of two tornado strikes, eventually everyone has storms along life’s journey. These storms too shall pass but many times they leave behind quite a mess to clean up. With persistence and hard work your fence-row can be cleared and you can go back to strolling peacefully through life, at least until the next storm hits.

    3. Meeting in the middle can be a great thing.

    It seems like every job involving the fence requires at least one more tool than I brought with me from the barn. It’s a long walk back to the barn. What a relief it is when my husband is home and I can whoop and holler from the distance whatever it is I need, and he meets me half way with it in hand.

    Never think that you have to go all the way in helping someone in order to make a difference. Often times even the smallest effort on your part can be a big encouragement.

    4. Take a friend.

    I enjoy strolling the fence-row alone but when my husband is by my side his presence adds an extra dose of gratification. Even better is taking along, my husband, each of us with a dog and a horse.

    Having a companion by your side in life’s journey is priceless.

    5. Keep going forward.

    I often drive my tractor down my fence-row bush hogging. The space is narrow and the tractor is long making it difficult if not impossible to turn around once I start. I know this, because the crooked and broken fence posts tell me so.

    Go prepared and never turn back. Going backwards is always a struggle. Forward is the key to finishing the race.

    Life’s journey  is indeed much like a fence-row. Work, struggle, build relationships, and enjoy peace along a straight and focused path, never looking back, but always striving for the end.

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  • Does Your Life Need Dead-Heading?

    We need deep cleansing of our thoughts on and often so that we can recharge our energy for our own health, happiness and purpose― Kishore Bansal

    My mother always had at least one pot of petunias every summer I can remember growing up. This I imagine, isn’t all that unusual, as probably every mom has some petunias in summer. What was peculiar about my mom faithfully purchasing and planting petunias each year is that she and the little plants consistently maintained a love-hate relationship that lasted all summer long.

    With the predictability of the sunrise and sunset you could count on her stooping over the pot each time she passed to do what she called, “dead-heading.” This is the process of picking off the spent flowers that still cling to the plant. She would often say to me, “If you will get the spent flowers off of the plant, then you will get more blooms, sooner.”

    While she was faithful to perform this task, with an almost religious fervor, there were times when her “dead-heading” practice was not sufficient. At times like these, when the plant had been overcome with dead flowers, and had few fresh ones, she would simply get out the clippers and give the whole plant what she called, “a haircut.” The poor thing would look butchered for a few days, but sure enough, just as she promised, it came back bushier and better than ever; full of blooms.

    I have not lived with my mother for over 25 years. I have never purchased petunias until this year. I’ve probably been subconsciously avoiding them all this time for fear of the time “dead-heading” would consume. The funny thing is, I now find myself unable to walk past this pot without performing the traditional task. Yes, mother, I am apparently deeply scarred.

    Being me, I find it impossible not to think there is some deep lesson in this ritualistic, borderline insane practice handed down from one generation to the next. It hit me today. When you ask? Well, of course while “dead-heading” my pot.

    Here it is: so many of us go through life carrying around a lot of dead weight. Maybe it’s some terrible trauma or betrayal deep in our past. Maybe it’s a bad relationship or a stressful job. Rather, it could be that we are forever stuck thinking about the “glory days” gone by.

    Either way the past is weighting us down and our ability to create new splendor in life is inhibited. It can be hard to realize when it’s time for the dead flowers to be plucked but it must be done before new ones can be created and thrive. For some of us, we have neglected this task for so long that our lives need, “a haircut” before they can bush and bloom again. If only I could be so diligent about “dead-heading” my life as I am this pot of flowers. Who knew a pot of petunias could teach me so much? Go out and get yourself some. Not only are they beautiful, but they will remind you to “dead-head” your life regularly.

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  • Are You Eating Mold?

    Opportunities are presented to us each and every day, but do we see them. To see opportunity we must be open to all thoughts. –Catherine Pulsifer

    Horses and hay, they go together. We gave it the ole’ college try again this year but somehow, someway it seems every year we lose a few hay bales to water and mold. This year we thought we had the perfect way to make good come from this misfortune. We would use these moldy hay bales to create a few small berms in an area of our pasture where we need to fix some erosion problems when it warms up a bit. We covered the bales in plastic so that they wouldn’t become too heavy to move when the rains came.

    The cool spring grasses are now coming up and we are close to seeding. The beauty of the green grass and clover is amazing this time of year. The horses are free from the gloom of their winter dry lot and onto the grass regularly. What horse would want to dig under some plastic to get a bite of dry moldy hay when there is green grass and clover all around? Apparently ours. I am sad to say I have spent the past several days tucking, taping, weighting, stuffing, and re-wrapping these mold ridden hay bales in an attempt to save them from being eaten, all while thinking how nuts this whole activity was. At times I have even had to stand out there like a fool waving my arms just to get them to leave the wretched things alone and go eat grass so I can recover them. You would think this moldy hay was a bushel of the finest apples!

    While planning out my next strategy to stop the ridiculous onslaught I got to thinking. Sometimes when great opportunities present themselves in life we choose to return to the moldy hay. We can so easily become blinded to the green grass that surrounds us, a new opportunity for something positive, something better to take in. We often would rather return to the negative simply because many times it is more familiar. Addictions, bad relationships, negative co-workers, bad entertainment choices; these are all good examples of some common moldy hay we have trouble leaving behind for greener pastures. Take the time to look around, I’m sure you can find some green!

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  • Do You Dig It? Dad Does

     

    I learned the value of hard work by working hard. –Margaret Mead

    For as long as I can remember, my Dad has been digging. Some of my earliest memories of time spent with him take place on the wrong end of a shovel. Over our years together we have dug countless holes, trenches, drains, ditches, wells and a myriad of other cavities. We have toiled by day and by night, been half frozen, rained on, and have surely sweat a river all in the name of digging. I’ve often wondered about his fascination with digging, curious as it is, and sometimes even a little nuts.

    Here is my Dad in action on one of our biggest digs. He is 71 years old in this photo. I did say it could get a little nuts didn’t I?

    DiggingDad_NoWords
    My Mom recently gained some insight into the origins of his burrowing behavior, when he shared a childhood experience. At just 13 years old he and a friend were given the opportunity to earn some money over summer break. A neighbor cattle farmer had a barn in need of cleaning. As it turns out the neighbor had neglected to clean his barn for such an extended period of time that the manure was so deep the cows were literally hitting their heads on the roof! Now there’s a problem you likely don’t have. My Dad and his friend accepted the offer and dove into the cavernous pile with their shovels. Five days a week, using the neighbors tractor and manure spreader, they would shovel this massive accumulation one load at a time. To keep the flow going they would take turns driving the tractor and spreading while the other chipped away at the pile, loosening up the next load to shovel upon return. By the end of the summer the concrete floor of that barn was evident once again. The reward for this task, $3.00 a day to each of two 13 year old boys.

    My Dad took some of his hard earned money and bought a motor scooter for $50.00 from a relative. Funny thing is, my Dad is now 71 years old (and still digging) and I have heard stories of that motor scooter and the adventures it carried him on delivered with  great delight many times over the years; but never how it came to be his until just a few days ago. Only now do I realize I’ve been hearing how he got that scooter all these years one shovel full at a time, while “digging with Dad,” I just wasn’t listening. Thank you Dad, for grounding me in a good work ethic and giving me the opportunity to realize the joy and satisfaction of reaping the fruits of hard labor and a job well done.

    140320_Dad

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