Cows In The Mist

When I return to Iowa, I always have to check on my sister and brother-in-law’s cows.

As I’ve stated before.”I love cows!”

It’s a typical Iowa winter day–cloudy and gray. The kind I hated as a kid!

The cows don’t seem to mind though.

These girls lounge in the lot now, expecting any day, hour, or minute. They are heavy with calves, just waiting to join the world alongside the other newborns.

For now, these black beauties are contented to lay in the hay, chew their cud, and wait it out.

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The old Richwoods Church stands alone in the mist as it has for decades. A comforting landmark that watches over its eternal guests, day and night, rain or shine.

 

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The old barn, a behemoth of a structure, gives shelter when needed. It was a great place to play and hide when my siblings and I were home together. It still serves that purpose for grandkids and cousins.

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This one’s belly makes me hurt!  Surely she won’t go another day…will she? How do they do it…out in the cold, no heated blanket to keep from shaking? She’s a better cow than I am.

Her attitude and look says, “Go away! There’s nothing to see here…yet!”

So, I’ll go back inside and report my expert observations. Truth is, these girls will probably give birth during the night when we humans are tucked snug and warm in our beds.

KRE

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A CHRISTMAS MEMORY

 

I haven’t written in a while and I’m a little late in posting this but I wanted to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and Blessed New Year! You’ll probably guess this memory is from my childhood and those of you who know me will recognize the narrative.

Christmas Past 008.

I’m nine, and I live in the southern part of Iowa. The part that looks like Missouri, cause it’s hilly and there’s a lot of timber. That’s what my Dad calls trees—timber.

I live in a hundred year-old house, that’s been added on to several times, Mom says. My Dad is proud of our house and farm. It’s the first place he and mom really own all by themselves. That means that we don’t have a landlord anymore. It has 80 acres and dad’s gonna’ farm it. He’s glad to have a place of his own after renting for so many years.

The barn is huge and should be fun to play in once summer rolls around. I’m going to look for kitten cause I saw this yellow cat run under a loose board the other day. 

Like I said, I’m nine and my baby sister was just a month old. Oh…and I gotta’ brother too! His name is Stanley. I think it’s a funny name, but mom and dad like it. Dad says they’ll call him Stan when he gets bigger. My baby sister is Eileen. She’s still kinda’ red and cry’s some, but I’m glad Mom had a girl. Now I have a sister. I have to watch her when mom goes out to milk the cows.

Our farm house sits a little off a road that runs north and south. It’ll take you to Trenton. That’s where we get gas or groceries if Mom’s in a pinch. I like the store because the Pulver’s…they own the store, are nice to me.

Since it’s Christmas Eve tonight, we’ll get dressed up and go to church. Our church in out in the country, they call it Greenmound. Don’t know why they call it that, but they do. Dad will even go. He only goes on Christmas and Easter, cause Stan and me are in the program. He wears his suit that he saves for funerals. The best part is getting the bag of candy and oranges at the end of the service. You have to wait until it’s your pews turn to head out the back of the church, and then they hand out the sacks.

We’ll come home and get ready for bed, cause Santa will come tonight. I’m not sure if I believe in him anymore, but Stanley does and my baby sister doesn’t know any better. I’d hate to be her, cause babies really don’t get anything for Christmas. They wouldn’t know if they did.

We sleep upstairs—it’s not heated. There’s only two bedrooms up there. Mom, Dad, Stanley, and the baby all sleep in one room… I get the other one. The rooms have a slanted celling and I bump my head sometimes, and then I say something bad like my Dad always does.

The floor’s linoleum, and man my feet about freeze when I hop to my bed. It doesn’t take me long to take off my cloths! Mom has so many covers on my bed, I can’t move. I like to watch my breath turn into steam when I’m falling asleep.

Sometimes I feel like we’re poor, cause we don’t have heat in our bedrooms like my friend who lives in town does. There’s a soft carpet on her bedroom floor. She gets to wear pretty pajamas that I would freeze to death in, if I wore them in my room. But, dad says it’s good for me to sleep in the cold. Sometimes, like maybe tonight, he’ll open the stair door a little before we go up, to take the chill off.

Our back porch always smells like milk, game or manure. I guess that’s what farm houses smell like. That’s where dad leaves his chore boots and cleans rabbits, if Mom lets him.

Oh well, I don’t mind cause it’s Christmas Eve. I can take anything.

Grandma and Grandpa will probably come over tomorrow. Mom will fix a big dinner, but we’ll open presents first. I hope I get the skates I saw in the Sears Catalog. Grandma will probably give me something “practical,” as Mom calls it.

It’s fun cause we don’t have school, there’s tons of snow, and I just might get those skates!

It’s cozy in our house and mom always decorates the tree with lots of tinsel. She lived in California, so she knows how to make things look pretty. Dad says she goes overboard, but then he’s just a boy!

The snow crunched tonight when I walked outside. Dad said, “That means it’s really cold, sis!” He always calls me sis. I like it when my Dad calls me, sis!

I wonder how the baby Jesus slept when it was so cold. He just had cows and sheep to keep him warm. I stood in front of one of our cows one time to see if her breath would keep me warm…no way! Mom says it was a different cold, cause it was in Bethlehem. Mom knows a lot about Jesus.

So I’m going to sleep now, and I’ll say a prayer for all those kids that only have cows and sheep to keep them warm.

I’m a lucky girl!

KRE

Chicken!

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I haven’t posted for a bit. I guess I’ve been distracted by all the politacal banter. I had an election block! So, here goes…

The term, “Chicken!” comes up a lot in conversations. It implies more than the species, I’m afraid.

We’ve all heard it since childhood. I wasn’t sure about the origin of the non species term, so…I looked it up.

The term “Chicken!” can be traced to Shakespeare’s time.

But I found this little tidbit about one way it came into the American vocabulary.

Chickening Out may come from 1864 Union Army enlistment in which a chicken was provided to each person who enlisted. He would take the chicken home, clean, dress, and cook it for dinner- no refrigeration in those days. The next day he came back to ship off for the Union Army.

Should he not come back his name was printed in the local paper-very shameful to the family name – not like today. A relative with the same family name could fulfill the Army contract by enlisting instead of the original person. The Union Army didn’t care as long as they got someone of worth.

We all remember the scenes from  movies,  American Graffiti, and Grease. The game of “Chicken” was played out in order to settle a score, impress a girl, or just to show off.

Anyway, I digress.

What I really wanted to talk about was…chickens!

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Growing up, our family raised chickens for their eggs and their meat. I’ve talked about chickens before, but I truly love chickens.

They go about their days pecking at the ground, seemingly not a care in the world. We don’t give them a lot of credit for their smarts.

Chickens have played many roles in our literature and society.

There’s “Chicken Little,” who ran around proclaiming “The sky was falling!” We attach that term to people who are always forecasting doom.

Henny Penny reminded us of what escaping hard work will get you, nothing!

Those Henpecked husbands, we all know a few!

Chicks, the guys all talk about!

Cock of the walk, we know who he is!

Cocky devils.

Chicken Lips!

But there is references of strength and loyalty in this species, as well.

We’ve all heard about “Mother hens.” I  remember a story that made an impact on me when I was a little girl. It was about a mother hen who spread her wings over her brood to protect them from a fire. It made such an impression on me, that I asked my Mom if she would do that for me. She said, “Sure!”

As a result my extensive Chicken research, I found these nuggets…

CHICKENS SEE BETTER THAN HUMANS

CHICKENS TEACH EACH OTHER

CHICKENS HAVE THEIR OWN LANGUAGE

CHICKENS KNOW WHO THEIR OWNER ARE

THE EARLIEST CHICKEN JOKE IS DATED IN 1847

CHICKENS ARE SMARTER THAN BABIES

CHICKENS DREAM

THE OLDEST CHICKEN LIVE TO 22 YEARS OLD

HENS COMBS GET LARGER JUST BEFORE THEY LAY

CHICKENS WERE THE FIRST TO HAVE THEIR DNA SEQUENCED

CHICKENS OUTNUMBER BY ROUGHLY 4 TO 1

DINOSAURS=CHICKENS

HENS TALK TO THEIR CHICKS BEFORE THEY HATCH

CHICKENS ARE SPEEDY

CHICKENS HAVE HIERARCHIES

CHICKENS LOVE PLAYING

DUST BATHS ARE CHICKENS BEST FRIENDS

DOMESTICATED CHICKENS CAME FROM ASIAN JUNGLE FOWL

CERTAIN BREEDS ARE ABOUT TO BECOME EXTINCT

A DOZEN EGGS NEEDS FOUR POUNDS OF FEED

There now…I’ll bet you forgot all about the election!

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Go hug a chicken!

http://www.thehappychickencoop.com/20-surprising-things-you-didnt-know-about-chickens/gets…

KRE

COLD SNAP

 

I awoke this morning and glanced at my phone.  It read, 40 degrees.

I love October! It is a beautiful month, warmed with Indian Summer days, with a nip in the air that reminds me of what’s to come.

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Colors of fall–brown, Siena, gold, orange, and subtle green make up the autumn canvas.

Vegetation is weary–trees long to rest. The summer sun and wind have had their way. Its time for the fall fashion show. Soon they will sleep, only springs sun and rain will awaken them.

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Photo by Gary Sneed, Cedar Point, Kansas

I look forward to putting away my summer garments. A soft flannel shirt and worn jeans call to me from my closet. The familiar fit and feel makes me happy and warm. Long sleeves cover my fading tan. I’ve had enough of heat, and sweat.

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My foot steps “crunch” as I walk upon the ground. Leaves are curled and brown blanketing my once verdant lawn. Colors, and sounds surround me–my aching joints a passing thought.

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Squirrels scamper from point A, to B, their cheeks plump with nuts. Tails twitch as I  walk pass. They scold me with their chatter. I’ve interrupted their harvest.

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Cinematic coloration of the prairie soothes me. Her busy production has come to a close. Mother Nature has her blanket ready. Sleep is coming.

KRE

Sunflower

Kansas is known as the “Sunflower State!”

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Helianthus annuus, the common sunflower, is a large annual forb of the genus Helianthus grown as a crop for its edible oil and edible fruits. This sunflower species is also used as bird food, as livestock forage, and in some industrial applications.

When you drive through the countryside, here in Kansas, at this time of the year, you see their bright faces waving in the breeze all over the state. They bend and twist in the wind as if dancing to their own inaudible tune.Wild sunflowers can pop up just about anywhere. With all the rain we’ve had this summer, they are abundant in ditches, pastures–where ever there is dirt, you will find the sunflower!

I love the sun, and anything that symbolizes the blazing ball that heats our planet. I have images of the sun hanging all over the place. Maybe I was an Aztec Princess, in another life!

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Being a sixties girl, I worshiped the sun. I have age spots to prove it! But, no matter the consequence I always loved the way the sun made me feel. It’s the same way with these delightful flowers.

You can’t help but feel happy when you see a sunflower, with its bright yellow petals and chocolate-brown center.

If you know where to go, you can visit these fields of magnificent blooms. Sunflowers are not just unique to Kansas, but are scattered across the county. The rows of yellow sunburst follow the sun’s arc from horizon to horizon. I often think of Van Gogh’s lovely Sunflower paintings, with the juxtaposition of blues and yellows in thick, vivid oils.

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Want a lift, and a shot of optimism? Bring some sunflowers into your space. There are no side effects, and a whole lot cheaper than meds!

KRE

Van Gogh images from the internet. 

 

 

Dividends For Old Age

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My Mother used to say, “My children and grandchildren are dividends for old age!”

I always thought that was a silly thing to say, but as I get a little older and wiser I see her point. That’s not to say that if you don’t have children  your lives are void of dividends.  I have friends who don’t have children, by choice or happenstance, and I know they are wonderful aunts and uncles or mentors to children they know.

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As I watched my kids, and now my grand kids develop and grow from babies to little people, and now teens, I see the traits that mirror their heritage. I feel blessed and concerned at the same time. I hope their temperament is like their great grandma’s, that they have the creativity that my husband and I possess, the kindness of my mother, the smile of this, or that aunt. I hope they love the land and nature. I want them to respect all who cross their paths, but also astute enough to know the value good judgment.

I remember my experiences raising children–the exhilaration, fatigue, and struggles. I feel for my kids going through all that, now. But, the dividends for me as a parent and grandparent far out way the hills and valley’s that they will encounter.

Children, for the most part, give us a sense of what’s right with the world. You look at a newborn’s soft, unlined face, devoid of life’s impressions and you see the hope for new beginnings.

The genetic pool from which they sprouted hold many talents, personalities and history. I hope they will pick up where we left off, completing the dreams we started.

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The possibilities are endless, for a productive life. The choices they make are ultimately theirs, but our influence and legacy will live on.

KRE

 

 

 

I Do…I Did…AND…I Will!

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Fifty years, that’s a good stretch of time– half a century!

That is how long I’ve been with this one man, my husband.

It all started on a warm, sultry August afternoon in 1966. We said our, “I do’s” at the First Baptist Church in my home town of Mt. Pleasant, Iowa.

As young lovers, who had a whirl-wind romance, we were shocked at the similarities in our backgrounds, and oblivious to the differences that would rock our world as time passed.

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We were both farm kids. He grew up near Highway 34 in the heartland of Nebraska, and I only a few miles off the same Highway 34 in southeast Iowa.

Our Mother’s first names were the same… Rose Epp and Rose Ross!

It was the “Sixties!” A troubled time for our country, but we didn’t care. All we knew was, we were headed for the adventure of our lives— together. Away from the doldrums of farm life, we were headed to sunny California to fulfill my husband’s service requirement.

We thought we were smarter, hipper, and more socially savvy than our parents!

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We couldn’t predict what lie ahead from those perfect, dreamy days of, “We’re so in love!  There is absolutely nothing we can’t accomplish!”

Well, as those who also took the fifty year challenge you know, our world was rocked…many times!

We had careers, children, experienced losses, and disappointments in ourselves and each other.

The rose-colored glasses came off.

As Dr. Phil McGraw has often stated, “You get the package home, unwrap it and find, “”This isn’t what I ordered!””

Life with one person is not natural for most species. And Lord knows it’s not an easy road for most. But, you always have this feeling, it will get better. And it usually does.

So, my man and I celebrated this past weekend with friends and family at a beautiful spot in the Flint Hills, the Cottage House B&B in Council Grove, Kansas.

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It was a destination getaway that was doable for our family and guests. We enjoyed front porch sittin’ with good food and spirited conversation.

Does this mean we’re in our golden years?

I’m not sure what that really means, but I feel blessed to have reached this stage in my life and value all our experiences.

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We are not the same couple who took those vows fifty years ago, and I’m glad.

We don’t always make each other happy or finish each other’s sentences, but we know who we are and how we got here.

We still parent, or I guess its grand parenting now.

We argue over silly things, and get excited about the mundane.

The house seems a little too quiet at times, but the solitude is something to be enjoyed, now. We’re not escaping it.

It’s what we’ve accomplished, thus far, that counts.

And, the blessing to come that excite us.

KRE