Monday, April 29, 2013

The Sweetest Days

Sometimes life can be very hard. We struggle through things that we cannot quickly or easily fix, or that maybe we cannot fix at all. 

Sometimes these seasons of struggle move on quickly. Sometimes they hang on like a Minnesota winter. Oh how they can cause one to grow weary.

Sometimes these difficult seasons seem to cast a dark shadow over our days, but somehow the little things always shine through, bringing with them precious moments, leaving behind the sweetest memories.

"I believe the nicest and sweetest days are not those on which anything very splendid or wonderful or exciting happens but just those that bring simple little pleasures, following one another softly, like pearls slipping off a string." - Ann Shirley from Ann of Avonlea

 Birds at the feeder on a snowy April morning.

Girls in crazy bright colors!

A hug from a friend!

The laughter of children...or teenagers!

A new recipe the whole family likes!!

Making grandma's donuts with friends who are silly!

Meeting a friend for Starbuck's coffee!

Finding that some of his shirts still smell like the husband when I sort through the laundry, and he smells good!

Snuggling with loved ones on the couch while watching a movie!

A pile of old Pottery Barn catalogs brought on a girl's weekend!!

Shedding tears with one who understands.

Growing chicks learning to perch together!

A friend with arms long enough to get every beautiful face in the photo!

So many precious, little pleasures slipping off the string. Too many to count. Taking in the joy of each and every little one. 


Monday, April 15, 2013

Meet The Girls

Picked up our chicks last Thursday, in spite of a miserable snow storm. Anybody else ready for Spring? -sigh- 

We purchased our girls from Egg Plant Urban Farm Supply.

I don't think anyone else had made it into the store yet to pick up their chicks, so I got to take my pick of the litter! Whoop whoop!

Look at all those sweet babies!

They were all so cute! It wasn't easy to decide. But decide I did and brought home some very pretty girls. If I do say so myself.

There's Miss Sofia's Buff Orpington named Pookie.

She's very calm and can't wait to use her wings. It's because of Pookie we've already covered the brooding box with a screen. She's got quite a jump that one!

If one of the chicks manages to escape the brooding box it will be Pookie.

Then there's Miss Emma Bean's Barred Rock named Luna.

Luna is a little more high strung. She's the first one to bolt when you approach the brooding box. However, she does not object to snuggling into your cupped hands and falling asleep.

Look how beautiful her wings are! She'll be completely black and white striped when she's fully grown. The odd pink dot on her head is not natural. It was placed there when she hatched to make it easier to identify the Barred Rock chicks from other black chicks. The black chicks can look a lot alike when they're little. Black chicks like the Husband's choice...

The Black Australorp. Her name is Jade. 

Jade is mostly black now but when she's fully grown her plumage will have a lovely greenish sheen.

Jade is the smallest of the bunch, but she's quick! If she grabs a piece of chick feed one of the other girls wanted she bolts and no one can catch her. Oh they try, but it's not going to happen. I think she gets a little too much satisfaction from grabbing the food one of the other girls wanted!

And last but not least, in fact she's our biggest chick, my Ameraucana named Penelope. I call her Henny Penny.

Penelope is the most willing to be held.

She's very sweet and will lay either blue or green eggs. I can't wait!

The girls spend their days drinking, eating, and sleeping.

Occasionally they fall asleep right where they stand.

I enjoy the contented soft chirping that emanates from the brooding box throughout the day.

The girls seem to have a preference for one particular corner of the brooding box. When they're not eating or drinking they tend to gather there.

They even seem to enjoy a little chicken yoga to round out their day.

And of course everyone enjoys a good chin scratching now and then. 

They're definitely keepers!

First thing Friday morning Miss Emma Bean grabbed me and said, "It's not a dream! The chickens are really here! I love them!"

Yep, keepers for sure!


Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Getting Ready

The Husband and I discussed, we researched, we pinned chicken coop designs incessantly on Pinterest till friends began to wonder what in the world we were up to. We're gonna raise chickens y'all! My farm girl impersonation. What do you think? Yes? No??


With chicks arriving this Thursday it was time to choose!

photo of Wichita "Cabin Coop" from backyard
This is it! The coop design we've settled on. We found it on Back Yard It's the perfect size for our yard as well as for the number of chickens we plan to raise. 

Time to get ready!

Tub with heat lamp, thermometer, feeder and waterer all prepared for brooding chicks indoors for several weeks. 

Did you notice? It's in the living room. The chicks will remain there for a couple of weeks till they get bigger and need a larger tub. Then they'll be moved to the basement. The Husband is a very tolerant man. Have I mentioned how much I love him? 

Time for a final determination as to the location of the coop. 

Our original plan was to place the coop at the end of the garden. There was only one problem, we thought that seemed awfully far from the house. Thinking about tromping out through the snow in the winter. Ugh! Then we thought in front of the garden. Hmmm. Only one problem, seems awfully close to the house.

Have I mentioned how much I love, love, love the Husband. 

We've decided to shift the garden back about 10 feet. We'll build the coop where the garden currently sits, giving space for the coop as well as a 5x10 foot chicken run. Then we'll push the garden back 10 feet so I'll have the same amount of planting space I had before. Easy, just move the garden. Problem solved. Eh hem. 

I really love that man! And I owe him!!

Finally, time for the construction begin!

Chickens arrive Thursday. We've got to get this coop built! Right after the 6 inches of snow we're forecasted to get tomorrow melts. BAH!!


Friday, April 5, 2013

How It All Began

About 6 years ago, a friend, who raises chickens on her lovely hobby farm, after hearing me say I thought it would be fun to hatch some chicken eggs with Miss Sofia and Miss Emma Bean, handed me an incubator, a few of the most beautiful colored eggs, and some chick feed. She gave me a few instructions and sent the Family on an adventure!

We waited with great anticipation!

And became the temporary parents to 10 of the most beautiful baby chicks ever!

The girls were in love!

Oh how they doted on those little chicks, naming each one. While I no longer remember all of their names, I remember a few; Baby, Snowball, Teriyaki (the Husband had a hand in that name), and Elvis, who was all black with feathers even on his feet. Elvis was very appropriately named as he loved to sing. At all hours! -Bah-

Aside from Elvis's constant crooning, we had so much fun caring for our little brood.

One minute they would be chasing each other around.

The next they would literally stop in their tracks and fall asleep.

They were endlessly entertaining.

Alas, the time came to return the little brood to the farm. The girls were so sad. They wanted so much to keep their beloved chicks. To tell the truth, I wanted to keep them too! How great to have one's own supply of beautiful, fresh eggs!

But where on earth would we put them? Not to mention, we didn't think there was any way we'd be allowed to keep chickens in our city. 

The chicks went back to the farm. -sigh-

In the years since, we haven't stopped thinking about our little brood. Every visit to a petting zoo that has chickens gets the Family talking about the time we hatched our little chicks, and dreaming about how great it would be to raise a few chickens of our own. It seems a lovely, albeit improbable dream.

Until we learned that our city, with the proper permit, allows residents to raise chickens! What?? You can only imagine how that little bit of news got the Family thinking!

Well, the thinking is over. 

After acquiring the necessary permit, which involved getting signatures of approval from our neighbors, fortunately they were all onboard, -whew- in fact we were surprised at how supportive they were, we ordered 4 baby chickens! They will arrive, one day old, April 11th!!

Yep, we will be raising chickens!! CRAZY! I know. But the Family is so excited! Whoop whoop!!


P.S. I will just apologize now, and warn you, that the next several weeks of blogging are likely to consist of an overabundance of photos of our new babies, gushing over how great the Family thinks they are, and efforts in coop building. Just sayin'!

Monday, April 1, 2013

The Cross

The cross, an ornament displayed in the church, or maybe a shiny piece of jewelry. How often do we see the cross and give it little more than a passing thought of Christianity?

Good Friday calls us to something deeper. It calls us to contemplate the full realities of the cross.

The reality was ugly and messy. It was horrific, bloody. A place of nails piercing flesh. A place of suffering. A place where the wicked died. It was the place of punishment!

Death on the cross was no less than wickedness deserved. 

Romans 6:23a  For the wages of sin is death!  

It was the place where the price of my sin and my wickedness was paid. Paid by another. Paid by the One who had committed no offense.

Isaiah 53:5  But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed.

Not my sin alone, but the sin of the world was paid on that cross.

Romans 3:23  For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.

It was the place where pain and suffering would not deter bold, compassionate love! 

Say it with me...For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son! That whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life! John 3:16

Oh to love in such a way. How often I fall short.

The cross, where the greatest sacrifice ever was made! It was made for me. It was made so that the One who paid my debt, could one day wipe away my tears. So He could heal my wounded heart. So He could call me His own.

As my family walked out of Good Friday services, Miss Emma Bean looked at me and said, "Mom, I'm so very sad."

"Me too baby. Me too."

It's not an easy thing, this knowing Jesus died for me. He suffered for me. He paid what I owed. Yet there is relief too. Relief that I no longer owe the debt of sin because I choose to believe in Him, and in my repentance I receive His mercy and love.

The cross is not so easily dismissed as ornament on Good Friday. It makes for a heavy heart knowing the weight of His suffering on my behalf. 

But the story doesn't end there!

Can I get a Whoop Whoop!?

Luke 24:1-3  Now on the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they, and certain other women with them, came to the tomb bringing the spices which they had prepared. But they found the stone rolled away from the tomb. Then they went in and did not find the body of the Lord Jesus.

6-7 He is not here, but is risen! Remember how He spoke to you when he was still in Galilee, saying, "The Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again."

46-47  Then He said to them, “Thus it is written, and thus it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day, and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations."

Jesus was not just a good man. He was not just a prophet! He is the Son of God, come to earth, to settle what we owed by His suffering on the cross! It was messy and painful and ugly, and it was the greatest act of forgiveness, love, and compassion EVER! It was an act full of promise. 

Our mourning turns to gladness! 




And remembering that we have fallen short, we have sinned, the debt was paid, and our redemption is only a humble moment of repentance away.