Saturday, June 12, 2010

Doot Doot Doot Lookin' Out My Backdoor ...

My backyard, approximately two thirds of our 4.2 acres, is an ever changing testament to the wonder of nature. What used to be part of about 10 acres of cornfield is now home to my family of four to six (depending on whether my oldest daughter and youngest grandson are living here), six horses, seven ducks, three geese, twenty adult chickens, three baby chickens (taking up residence in a plastic tote here in the house until they're old enough to introduce to the rest of the flock), and one billy goat (who is desperately seeking that perfect nanny for a longterm relationship). In addition to the domestic livestock, it's alive with all manner of birds, squirrels, cottontail rabbits, one (that we know of) black snake, occasional turtles (so far all snappers), a wide variety of frogs, and the chickens, pea fowl, guinea, and cats belonging to various and assort neighbors. At least that's everything we've been able to positively identify. We're pretty sure there's more out there. Somewhere.

Needless to say with that kind of livestock, over three-fourths of our property is set aside as pasture land, so we get a wide variety of grasses, wildflowers and trees. We're not sure on all the various kinds of trees, but do know we have cedar, sassafrass, hickory, tulip poplar, locust (the thorny kind locally called Devil's Walkingstick), sumac, native dogwood, elm, silver maple, red bud, a native apple, and several kinds of oak. And more buckbrush than we want. Oh ... and wild blackberries, wild rose, red willow, some kind of birch or aspen that loves water/boggy areas, plus ornamental plums and oldfashioned pie cherry trees that we planted after we moved in. And one golden rain tree approximately 30 years old that really does predict the weather.

When we first moved in, we tried to control what grew where. Four years later, we're learning to work with what was already here and teach what we add how to coexist peacefully. It's beginning to pay off, and it's brought a few good lessons along the way.

One day, my husband and I were sitting at our kitchen table looking out the back door at our vast "empire." I was telling him about some changes I wanted to make that I thought would make things look neater, help conserve space, and cut back the time it was taking to tend our critters.

"That's a lot of work!" my husband grumbled when I got done explaining my plans and I stopped cold. "Work?" I questioned. "When, in either of our adult lives, have we ever been able to sit somewhere, make plans and then carry those plans out without having to run off and get someone's permission first? Nothing we do here is work. It's all blessing after blessing after blessing!"

Even though we don't always recognize it, our lives and all those struggles we go through are the same. Ultimately, they are blessings bestowed on us by our Creator Father both as reward and as lessons. Life gets a little easier when you look at things as blessing rather than burdens.

I hope you have a great day. I'm going to.