Sunday, July 1, 2018

Sunday thoughts...

Recently, I attended a memorial service for the mother of a dear friend. It was a lovely remembrance of her life -- her loving personality and character…a beautiful picture of a quiet, faithful woman.

As I sat in the church, my thoughts revisited the years of my youth. The pews held many dear women, mothers of other friends from our small community. I was surprised to see them, fragile and elderly…In my memories, they are much younger. Still, they were sitting beside their family and friends as they had back in the days of my memory -- the connections strong. Many I had not seen for a long time but was touched to receive their friendly greetings, and queries after the health and well-being of my own parents.

It was good to go to the church basement and see them gathering to talk and eat the ham buns and cookies that are the staple of such fellowship. The continuity of community is a great comfort. These people, their lives still connected, still firmly standing in support of one another…relationships that began when ours was a town of only 2000 souls. Today, it is seven times that.

Certainly, things have changed, and some not for the better, but the heart of this community continues to be faith, loyalty, diligence, and standing firm in support when there is need. That is a history that connects us all, unchanged though hair becomes grayed and bodies become frail. This spirit is strong, and I pray that it is multiplied to all the souls that have been added, whether by new generations, or new acquisitions.

I love this town. I am grateful for its people.

Monday, May 21, 2018

Life Lately...

The berries are growing fast and full...this was a week ago and now we are seeing this:

With the cool, wet April, we were expecting a just-later-than-average start. I was telling my employees it would be around the 4th of July. Not anymore. 
The bees will come in sometime this week, and that means in 5 weeks we will be picking...oh boy.

Speaking of bees, despite having no hives in the field, Rosie still managed to get stung. She swelled up but only where the injury was -- which is an improvement over her reactions last year when she her eyes swelled almost shut and she looked like a living gargoyle! I gave her a Benadryl and she was fine in a couple of hours. YAY! Last year, it was off to the vet when she was stung...

The flowers I've planted are filling in just like the berries. Well, except for my front flower bed where we have had the annual mole invasion. That bed is bordered by cement on all sides and every year a mole has to get in and tunnel around every plant, disturbing their roots and giving them a rough start. Perennially irritating, but this year I've decided to expect it. Thankfully, The Farmer is waging a war of long duration against the mole nation, and he takes care of the problem. I will just watch and water my uprooted plants more often.

The snowball tree has outdone itself this year! HUGE snowballs! So gorgeous.

The weeping beech always unfurls at the beginning of May. The day before, there is the faintest notice of buds, and the next leaves begin to pop, a greenish burgundy.

Now a couple of weeks later, they are a deep and beautiful burgundy. We did some needed pruning, but I think we may have gotten a little carried away. It reminds me of high-water pants right now...but in time the branches will be weeping again and hitting my head while I mow, and overly shading my plants in the bed.

Little Cheerful Farm (my farm name for goat registration) sent one of its members off to a Summer Camp of sorts. Barnaby, front & center here, is off to a friends to be a companion to a lonely little show goat. Goats don't do well alone, and the little show goat wasn't growing as well as he needs to, so Barnaby was dispatched to spend the summer with him. 

I certainly hope Barnaby is good medicine, but I am a little concerned. He was always the boss around here (even when he was smaller than his momma). I expected a lot of baaing and gnashing of teeth when their venerated leader was hauled away. Instead, the reaction was more like "don't let the gate hit you in the butt on your way out". No baaing, no gnashing of teeth, and it has been quite peaceful since he left. Hmmm. I hope he is not terrorizing at Summer Camp.

And I suspect that when Summer Camp adjourns, Barnaby might be finding himself in permanent residence elsewhere...We all quite enjoy the peacefulness.

And then there's Springtime with the grand-girls...the best of life! And so many adventures out of doors....

Cousins make the best of friends...when they begin to understand that sharing thing! ;)

Treats with Grandpa...

Itsy Bitsy Teeny Weeny Yellow Polka Dot Bikini!

Hot enough for the sprinkler! 

Birthday celebrating at El Nopal...These two dip chips in salsa more than Grandma does! They are being raised right, I'm told. Spice IS the spice of life!

Work overalls - check. Work gloves - check. Dirt -- let's go!

Enough handles for everyone to shift!
But still only one steering wheel, which can be problematic at times...
They are toddlers in the truest sense!
And such a JOY!!

Spring usually brings a sense of foreboding about how we will accomplish all the needs to be done for harvest. This year, I am trying to let that go, and enjoy the beauty of the earth, being in the moment, and letting tomorrow keep its own worries. It's a daily, well, hourly, choice -- but I'm finding it much more joyful!

Wednesday, May 2, 2018


It surely is wonderful to have sunshiny warm days. I'm even enjoying the work in the yard. My efforts at reducing flowerbed maintenance are paying off! YAY!! My flower pots are planted, and the one flowerbed that has annuals. I think I will actually plant a small garden -- mostly beans for canning. I'll throw in a few carrots because they are so good fresh from the garden. There is a peppery flavor to them that goes away after they've been stored. Hopefully, I won't waste as many of them as I usually do. As with most garden produce, how much of it can you eat in one month! And I don't can carrots.

Last week, I finally had a perfect congruence of time available and good weather and got the goat pen cleaned out. Boy howdy, did it need it! Goats are notorious hay wasters, and so I do not put a lot of shavings in the pen. Over time, the wasted hay becomes warm bedding with the shavings wicking the...uh, fluids to the bottom of the pile. It's a good system, but when it approaches several inches in thickness, it's time to freshen up.
I LOVE my little spreader!

Barn lime takes the smell out...except Barnaby snuck in to make a deposit...

Pine shavings smell so good!

I also got to use my new tool for sifting goat poops out of the paddock sand. Oh my...that is a life sentence! If I focus on a reduction of the poops population, I think I can face the task...but they can make them faster than I can sift them! Three 5 gallon buckets of poop contributed to the stall cleanings  and made for 9 loads in my little spreader.
Had to rake out all the hay before I could put the sifter to work...

I also got a sore back, and one whopper bruise where I walked into the metal handle for the spreader gears...and, best of all, a lot of satisfaction. I love taking care of my animals.

While loving spring work with the animals, it also brought some blue days. It was recently the anniversary of Daisie's death, and it still makes me heavy-hearted. I had intended to write more about what a blessing she was to my life, and all the quirks and habits that made her so special -- but it's been too hard. And I carry a lot of guilt at how she passed. We had a hot chemical out in the field that day, but I let her come in the yard with me, expecting that I would be able to keep tabs on her whereabouts. But there was a spot in an unexpected place where there had been a small leak -- and she found it. I had no idea until symptoms began. Attempts to save her were in vain, and she experienced such suffering before we could let her go. She deserved so much better. If only I had chosen to allow her the suffering of looking out the window at the beautiful day instead of letting her out in it, she would not have had to go through that.

It's hard to remember all the good stuff as it carries me down a deep path of regret.

So some words will remain unsaid that deserve to be said...Hopefully in time I can share, in bits and pieces, what a great treasure she was to my life. She made me smile everyday, no matter the other circumstances in play. That is a great gift.

Rest in peace, dear Daisie. Every April will be tinged with a little sadness, but mostly colored by thankfulness for God's creatures who bring us a smile each day.
My companion for evenings home alone.

My walking buddy!

Farm Dog

Her favorite treat -- scrambled eggs!

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Glass Half Empty today...

It’s a Glass Half Empty Day…and the sun is shining so it shouldn’t be. But my physical self has kind of gotten me down, and I’m frustrated.

I’ve been here many times before and will be many times again, but it still bothers me when it happens.

It usually goes like this:
Weeks of intense activity with little rest.

Goal reached, 2-3 days of euphoria.

Day 4, utter exhaustion and absence of adrenaline. Forced to rest because you can do nothing else.

Following days: surprise at the depth of the continuing tiredness but making progress.

About a week later: cold symptoms set in but you deny that it is illness and treat as allergies.

“Allergy” symptoms worsen until you realize you have the chills, so it is NOT allergies.

You feel like crap and are down for the count…kinda -- because people still need you, and you won’t say no.

Meanwhile, projects and chores pile up so that when you finally feel better you are in a time of…

Intense activity…
And so on and so on…

Does this happen to you?

Now that I have reached the advanced age of 50-something, I am realizing that A) I say YES to too many things (Yeah, well, I’ve been realizing that for YEARS…now if I would just do something about it!) B) My baseline for STUFF THAT MUST BE DONE is way too high. I’m realizing I have to purge some Must Have/Must Do from my list because I just can’t do as much as I used to AND I don’t care to do as much either. There are so many wonderful things out there – but every time you say yes to one, it owns you a little bit, if not a lot, and I’m already overwhelmed with obligation. I’m shedding obligation as much as my Obliger* personality can handle.

And even though it is a Glass Half Empty Day, I guess the above epiphanies show that I still have hope. Because I have reached the conviction that it is OKAY to specialize and not globalize when it comes to my interests and responsibilities, I’m beginning to feel that one day I will feel much more free.

But it seems I’m learning this lesson a bit late in life…

I told you it was a Glass Half Empty Day.

*If you want to know more about the Obliger personality, I highly recommend The Four Tendencies by Gretchen Rubin. It’s an excellent help for understanding what motivates ourselves and our people. I consider it my 2017 Book of The Year…will write about it soon.

Monday, March 19, 2018

Historical Moments, Part II

So with Mom and Dad leaving the farm, the question was what would happen next to the property on Northwood Road.

Over the years, a few of the grandkids has expressed interest in keeping the farm in the family…but as time passed, other opportunities came to them. Dillon was the last to take another opportunity just last year, when their long term rental was no longer available. God, in an amazing way, provided them a house in town just one short year ago.

But Dillon’s dream of owning the farm continued. Being the oldest grandkid living just up the road, and having done calf chores there while growing up, he had a strong desire to live where so many good memories originated. When he heard of Mom and Dad’s plan to move to town, he felt some despair thinking that it would not be feasible having owned the house in town just less than a year.

There were big hurdles and some doubts about taking on a bigger financial responsibility as well. It was not just the purchase, but the upkeep, and the house, built in 1941, needed a few upgrades to make the upstairs feasible for a little girl to live there now. The stairway itself, narrow and steep, was never a problem for my sisters and I, but we were not toddlers when we moved there.

However many the obstacles, Dillon and Tiffany were determined to exhaust every possibility before giving up on their farm dream. As research was done, and options explored, they decided that they would only know for sure if they were able to sell their home in town and be able to regain what they had invested in it.

They listed their house at 1pm on a Friday, and by 1:30 they had an appointment for a showing. Over the weekend there were a couple more, and then the night before my parents moved to town, their realtor called and told them they had a full price offer, with reasonable conditions. They accepted and signed the offer that night, and happily called Grandpa and Grandma (aka Mom & Dad in this story) to tell them the good news. The house was on the market a mere 5 days!

As it turned out, the market for a house such as theirs had only improved in the year since they bought it. While we worried that the timing would preclude them achieving their dream of owning Grandpa and Grandma’s place, it actually enhanced their ability to do so!

God knew…He knew it all, and graciously provided in a way that allowed a dream to be realized.

And it was good news not just for Dillon and Tiffany but for all of us. Moving Day started with a few tears shed as we realized what God had provided for us all! A place that was dear to us would stay in the family, and we could still gather at the Pavilion, Dad’s quaint and creative gathering area. Mom and Dad did not have the stress of finding a buyer or emptying out the place. There is no pressure to empty out the barns and the tool shed – and if you’ve grown up on a farm you know what a job that is and what a gift it is to have no hurry for that!

Now, paint colors are changing in the house, and small repairs are being made, as are plans for future upgrades. In typical Dillon fashion, their new home was given a name, Maidenfair Manor. Maidenfair in honor of Dad’s farm name for his registered Holsteins. We are all excited to see how Dillon and Tiffany make it their own, while knowing that what is precious to all of us, is precious to them, and will remain a treasure for our family for another generation.

We are so grateful!

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Historical, or as Dad would say, Hysterical Moments...

We have been living in historical times for the Ivan Likkel Family of late.

Remember that I mentioned how proud I was of my parents dealing with 3 days without power in an ice storm? How they had to keep the tractor running and fueled and also had to get someone out to fix the generator in the midst of it? And God provided the right people at the right time, and the part that was needed?

Well, what they accomplished those few days was great – and it took them a couple of weeks to recover the strength they expended on the effort. My sisters and I told them: “We’ve worried about how it would go for you if something like this happened…But you handled it so well, and now we aren’t going to worry anymore. You can do it!”

And yes, they could – but they decided, they didn’t want to anymore.

Who can blame them for that?! Seems like wisdom to me.

Unbeknownst to us, Dad said to Mom, “Let’s go look around 19th Street. I like that area.” So they went for a ride and lo and behold, there was a nice little condo for sale. They right away called nephew Rick about it and went to see it.

Only then did they tell us that they had decided they didn’t want to do winters out in the country anymore, and they liked this little condo, and would we go see it with them.

We were a little surprised…

We looked at it with them and right away saw how it would be a good fit. Modest, comfortable, the layout was similar to the farm house, nice open area to look out on to the front, a lot of retired folks living in the area, within walking distance of an implement dealer, and the grocery store was just down the street.

More than just seeing it was a good fit, we began to see how settled Mom and Dad were about their decision to go to town. We always expected that it would be grievous for them to leave their home of 47 years, and more so for Dad to leave the farm that always provided projects to putter at. We were dreading that a day might come when they would have to leave, rather than choose to leave…

Within days, they had made an offer and it was accepted…a week later, the deal was closed. God was at work in this timing and the opportunity He provided them. Their hearts were ready for the change, and they welcomed it as His provision for this time in their lives.

How grateful we are for God’s mercies, His provision, and His peace at this time of big decisions and change!

In short order, Mom was purging and preparing to move. Walls were painted, and new floors laid at the condo. My sisters and I loaded up and delivered the donations to the thrift store and elsewhere. We got boxes and packed and cleaned the condo, ready for moving day…March 1.

In the meantime, there was the other side of the story…What was going to happen with the farmhouse and the property?

That, my friends, will follow as Part Two.

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Perils of Proactivity...

In trying to improve my life, I have resolved to become less of a procrastinator. (See the realism there? I didn't say QUIT being a procrastinator...First rule of the FINISH book: don't let perfectionism keep you from going forward.)

Anyway, I'm trying to be proactive about problems, projects, goals...So I thought it would be a good example of my new resolve if I dealt with my washing machine's recent quirks.

Yes -- the dear old Maytag, 22 years old, and they don't make them like that anymore, the repairman says -- has lately been exhibiting some quirky behavior. I've been finding sopping wet laundry after the spin cycle with some normal size loads, or the thing has been shimmying it's way to one side or the other with no visible signs of an imbalanced load, and now and then, it shrieks, or squeals.

I decided that this time I would not wait for my appliance to be unusable before I checked into the health of its mechanical parts. I made a call to Lee, the best repairman ever, and felt quite smug and satisfied that I would not have any down time because the issue would be dealt with before a complete system failure occurred.

Except that when Lee got here, dear Maytag exhibited no signs or symptoms, and in fact, ran remarkably smoothly for an old machine, apparently. We went over all the symptoms and tried to recreate them, and Lee checked all the components that might cause them, but the old gal was running like a top, working like a charm.

So my proactivity cost me the better part of $100...and it is not lost on me that this is also an apt example of how my resolutions usually play out. I step boldly forth, and slip on a banana peel I didn't see sitting there...

Now, I am in that place where my resolve is most severely tested! I mean, why keep on this track when the reward is absent? Today my washer is the same as it was yesterday; in between, I just spent a bunch of money finding that out. (Note: I don't think the charge was unfair...Lee has saved my appliances more than once, and his expertise is deserving of the value.)

It was a pretty poor application of the resolution to be proactive...There is Peril in being Proactive. I recommend that you wait until your washer dies before calling the repairman. It may be fine to go to the doctor and pay $100 to find out you are not dying -- but it's doesn't play out that way when it's a washing machine.

About Me

Needing an outlet for various thoughts rattling in my head, I've created two blogs -- One about my real life ( and one where I can vent. (