New Chicks on the Block

Last night we went to a neighbor’s house to pick up some chicks.  The opportunity to pick up some new ones simply fell into our laps, and they were free.  Since we’ve been having a run of going down on our chicken numbers, we thought we’d take our neighbors up on their offer.  They had heard of our coyote attacks, and hand wanted to help us out.

They let their chickens roam free around their yard as well.  They don’t have a coop, though.  The chickens just find their place among the other animals in their barn.  They don’t feed them.  The chickens simply pick up the scraps that the horses and cows leave behind.  They wanted a rooster, and that’s where the “problem” started.  They got a big, black rooster and named him “Obama.”  Well, Obama got to work, and now every hen in the place is either sitting on a big nest of eggs somewhere around the farm, or has 11 or 12 little chicks running around underneath the hen.  They estimate their chicken count is somewhere over a hundred now, but they’re not quite sure.  The reproducing is getting kind of crazy, and they were eager to hand us over as many as we wanted.  We settled on “10.”

Collecting them was a group activity.  I stood by our dog kennel with Solveig who was a little unsure of this whole process.  Lena donated her crate for the transport of the chicks.  Then our neighbors and Knut and the 3 older kids climbed over straw bales, and moved around rakes and tried to catch as many chicks as they could.  Actually, with the kids around it didn’t take long at all.  Our neighbors were impressed with their ability to catch chickens so easily.

The offered to give us a mother hen as well, so that the chicks could run free around our farm as well without much oversight on our part.  Knut and I debated about that.  I wasn’t sure how the mother and our hens would get along, and I worried for the safety of our chicks around our larger hens with no experience with young.  Knut said he had no idea what would happen if we just threw a new adult bird and 10 little chicks into the coop.

In the end, we left with no mother hen, and just the 10 chicks.  We’re keeping them down in the barn, contained in a horses’ watering trough.  The heat lamp is up, and Silje already checked on their food and water supply this morning.

The chicks are at the “ugly teenage” stage as I call it.  Their down is falling off, and feathers are gradually filling in.  They’re all black, as they’re all the daughters of “Obama” although the breed of their mothers are unknown, but my guess is various colors of Americaunas.  I’ll have to look up a picture of Obama the Rooster on the internet, and see if I can get a good guess at his breed.

I should take some pictures in our dark barn of them under the heating lamp, but I haven’t yet.  Honestly, they have some work to do.  They show signs of “wildness” in my opinion.  What I mean by that is I’ve found that with many of our local friends who have chickens don’t handle them a lot, and the birds pick on each other so much.  They peck out each other’s feathers and get sores.

Do you remember our friend who accidentally gave us 3 of his roosters, and he had 3 of our hens, so after they were a few months old we got around to switching them back?  His chicks were handled maybe once a week, and all of them were missing their neck feathers.  This was a great animal guy too, and he tried to work on them, but he had an overcrowded coop.  We got them all tamed again, except Princess got the brunt of the bullying, and we had to take some extra steps helping her along.

Well, all of these chicks have missing neck feathers.  Upon closer examination, Silje said “ew…what’s wrong with them?”  Now, I am in no way saying that it’s abnormal for this to happen, or it’s the fault of the owner, because that’s not true.  This happens all the time, and I would go further and say it happens most of the time when you have a huge group of chickens together.  I just like my chickens with all their feathers so we work with them.  We hold them a lot, and feed them from our hand as much as we can.

We’ll probably have to get out the vinegar again, and douse a few chickens who can’t seem to get out from under the bullying.  My goal is to get this brood of chicks in tip top shape before we introduce them to the coop girls.  Chickens hate seeing any weakness, and will attack it with such hatred.  I can’t let these little chicks meet the big girls without all their feathers.  I’m afraid it would be a disaster. 

In the mean time, the barn is the cool place to hang out these days.  Those 10 chicks only have to share it with broken snowmobiles, some horse stuff and a lawn mower.

Sorry no pictures yet.  I’ll get on that…I promise!

Moving On

Yesterday we woke up with no internet.  So I didn’t get to post my “I’m Blessed” for Monday, and I apologize for that.  It felt weird not having that contact with the outside world.  On a frustrating note, I had to print of some contracts to sign and get ready for shipping out with my sweater for the magazine.  Plus, Knut had arranged for me to have a very quiet morning to finish the grading of the pattern.  Unfortunately, several of my notes and charts I stored online…due to my computer being on its last leg…and I had no access to them on a day that was open for me to finish up my work.  So it kinda felt like a wasted day.  It was incredibly relaxing, though, so it can’t be that wasted.

Out in the country, we don’t have a lot of options for internet providers.  When it goes out, we have to call our neighbors to see if we’re the only ones who have the problem.  Once we see we’re not the only ones, then we can call the company of laid back guys, who get to it when they get to it.  Normally it’s just a few hours before they come out and do a quick 5 minute fix.  Yesterday was Memorial Day, though, so they had some plans that prevented them from fixing it.

I have to admit, I was half annoyed that they felt that they didn’t need to fix the internet because it was a holiday.  After all, this was my last day to work on my project, and I only needed one little hour to do it.  I didn’t even have the option of going to the library to get the internet.  I felt really left in a lurch.  On the other hand, I think it’s really neat that they took Memorial Day seriously….although the annoyed person in me thinks they just had a fishing trip on the calender, and not Memorial Day.  I have nothing to back that up but attitude.

So this morning, I’m packing everything up, and bringing it to the post office.  It’s really hard sending off this sweater.  I’ve gotten quite attached to it, and wish I could follow it to the photo shoot to see how it does, and adjust it here and there if I don’t like how it lays.  I guess that’s just the control freak in me.  I’m sure they’re going to make it look fabulous, though.  You know…being professionals and all.  😉

I’m sneaking you a peek of the package.  I’m so in love with it.  It turned out exactly how I planned it too, and that doesn’t always happen.  Everything went perfectly, and it is exactly as I had envisioned.  Well, they switched colors on me, but how can I argue with the amazing color they picked out?  I love it!  I’ll give you a better view when it’s actually published.

I have butterflies in my stomach.  I hope they like it as much as I do.  Now off to the post office where I say goodbye. 

Funny Kid

I was making rhubarb bread the other day because I was feeling a quick burst of domesticity that has been lacking in past weeks.  I decided to seize the moment and grab some rhubarb from our overgrown patch across the road.  I picked way too much, as always.  The leftover lay on the table while I worked.  Sometimes when Knut comes home from work he grabs the leftover stocks and the slop and brings them out to the compost pile for me.  I’ve stopped putting the leftover in my freezer, and learned that I never use it in the winter and it just gets frost bitten in my freezer over years.  I prefer to use the winter months to perfect more chocolate dessert pursuits. 

This little girl has been climbing.

She’s become fast, and stealth-like.  In a matter of a few silent seconds, she will have left your side, climbed to the center of the kitchen table and be sitting on her haunches, dumping out cups of water one by one.

On this day, she discovered rhubarb.

Knut likes this picture because it shows how most of us feel should we try rhubarb in it’s tart-raw form.  I don’t like it because her face had this expression just long enough for me to snap the picture.  The rest of the time she looked content and unassuming.

She tries all food, and has never turned one down.  She loves diverse flavors, from spicy to sour.  Ironically, she was my first child who I never fed from a jar or forced food into her mouth with a baby spoon.  I just fed her off my plate when she reached for it.  Some have some sort of fancy name for that type of parenting technique.  I just called it “busy” and didn’t know it was a “technique” until after the fact.

Have I posted the story of how she learned to climb stairs?  We don’t have gates on our stairs for a variety of reasons.  Mostly, I feel they are dangerous for my older kids as they easily trip over them and have a tough time opening and shutting them.  I’ve thought of the latch swing kind, but my kids already don’t shut doors or shut of lights (or at least forget often enough).  I figure it’s worse to assume it’s safe, and have an untrained child AND an open gate.  It sounded like a haunting fear in the back and one more thing to yell at my kids in reminder.

Knut and I have often been of the idea to house-train the child, not child-proof the house.  That’s just our style, not hard-holding religious beliefs.  We believe in telling our kids “no” at a very early age.  Solveig has been one of the best so far at listening.  Of course cleaning things are not low…but we clean mostly with Norwex cloths or vinegar and water now, so it’s not like we have a lot of toxic things available.  We’ve always tried to keep a child close and not out of site and gradually teach them what to touch and not touch. We’ll use a pack ‘n play and let a little one watch us work, though they usually prefer being in a high chair so they can be high up and see what I’m doing in the kitchen.   I will admit, after Elias came, we started child proofing a tad more.  (I put a gate up to my sewing/laundry room with no door because he kept going in there and destroying it.) A few additional steps have been made with Solveig, but not many.

For the most part, Solveig stayed far away from stairs, and it was never a battle to keep her away.  One day when we were playing in the playroom in the basement, she decided to climb up the stairs.  I was right there watching her, and realized that I now had to spend some time teaching her about stairs.  The hardest part is teaching them to go down stairs.  We teach our kids to start out by going doing feet first on their tummies.

Life got hectic, so I tried to keep Solveig close, and kept her in the pack ‘n play in the kitchen more often until I had a chance to teach her.  About 3 days after my thought that “I need to teach Solveig about stairs” I witnessed her approach the stairs to the playroom, turn around, lay down on her belly, and slowly back towards the stairs feet first.

Amazed, I asked her: “Solveig!  Where did you learn to go down on your tummy?  You already look like a pro!”

Silje was nearby and said simply.  “O, I taught her how to do it yesterday.  She loves it.  It was fun.”

I was 50% proud of Silje, and 50% ashamed of myself for not knowing what was going on, and somehow not doing my job well enough that my nearly 8 year old has to pick up the trail of unfinished things behind me.  We mothers can find guilt in all things…even proud moments.  In my head I was excited that one of my older kids saw a need and filled it without being asked.  That’s a DREAM moment that I will treasure.  There’s just a part of me that wishes that I weren’t the kind of mom that left “needs” for my kids to do.  I suppose it’s one of those situations where God takes our weaknesses and uses them for His good.

At any rate, she runs up and down the stairs like a champ…but she’s quiet.  We’ve already started search parties for her around the house twice.  30 seconds is ample opportunity for mischief with this one.  This week I bought our 2nd baby gate ever.  Like Elias liked to dump out all of my diaper snaps and play with them, Solveig likes to go in Knut’s office and empty the file cabinets into a big fun pile.

I don’t remember the other kids being this quiet, or finding them on top of tables and opening file cabinets.  None of them have ever chomped on raw rhubarb for 15 minutes.  She’s a funny kid.  I love her so much.

The Law – A Devotional

When talking with fellow Christians, and dealing in my own life, I think understanding God’s law and it’s purpose can be the most confusing.  It’s not just what God asks of us, but WHY God asks it of us.  If we are not saved by works, but through faith in Jesus Christ, than does the law even have a purpose?

I grew up, and have remained an evangelical Lutheran.  Lutherans are big into the “Law and Gospel” when it comes to theology.  Growing up, I had it divided into the “bad and good” parts of the Bible, at least mentally.  The law was bad, and I did not like the law.  The gospel saved me, and I liked the gospel.  Now, I’m pretty sure that is not what my church taught, but it’s how I interpreted that teaching.

As I’ve grown older, I’ve come to love the law.  I’m so grateful God did not abolish it, but fulfilled it.  I think about it often, and I dwell on Psalms like 119 that goes on and on about how good the law is, and how good it is to meditate on it.

How can we reconcile the law and gospel?  How can the law be good when it condemns us.  Do we cling to legalism, as if it could save us?  It cannot.

As I’ve dwelt on this thought, I’ve been given a picture of the whole law/gospel situation, that I’d like to share with you.  It’s more like a vision, or parable.  I don’t want to put too much weight on it, as it is extra-biblical.  Like all allegories/stories, there will be holes I’m sure.  It’s just a thought I’ve been dwelling on.

Let’s imagine we are in darkness.  We are separated from God because of our sin.  Let’s make this place a deep mine, under the ground.  It’s so dark that we cannot see our hands.  We are utterly lost.  In this desperate state, we start to see these air shafts come to light.  Burrowed down from heaven, God created these shafts to bring us light, and hope.  Each shaft that forms gives we who are in the dark mine a glimpse of heaven…and a glimpse of God Himself.  Light floods the area of each shaft.  He calls these shafts “Law.”

We peer through them, and see unattainable beauty—beauty that we’ve never imagined.  The jewels glimmer…the light flickers against the gold.  We see a place of no sin…no selfishness…no greed…

complete holiness.

We see a world and a God we are separated from.  We try to climb through the shafts, or “Laws” and stumble out.  We cannot do it.  We fall.

Some wish the Laws never came and that we’d be better off living in the darkness.  How much worse is it to see paradise, and not be able to get there?  Others try multiple shafts, trying to scale each one, in a tiring, exhausted way.

Then word comes that God in heaven sent his Son down to the mine, and made safe passage up for us.  He came down in our muddy hole, and found a way out for us.  He rescues us from our mine.  We each have an invitation in hand to go up with Him.  We now wait for our name to be called.

The wait changes things.  Now this God we have seen through these air shafts has made us a way…has given us a promise.  He’s given his Word.  Do we think him a liar, and try to climb out through the air shafts again?  No.  Do the air shafts disappear?  No…God made them, and nothing can destroy them.  They remain.  He leaves them for us to study Him when we ache for heaven. 

As we wait for our name to be called…for that moment when we get to leave the mine, and breathe in the fresh air of heaven for the first time, and smell the smells, and feel sunlight all around…we wait.  We wait in faith in the one who made the promise to bring us there when the time was perfect.

What do we do during this wait?  Do we sit in a corner of the darkness?  No!  We cannot stand it anymore…especially knowing where our home is!  This news is so transforming that we run under each air shaft to see it more…see it better.  This is our future home we are seeing…this is our God.  Some sit under an air shaft, and paint what they see.  Some just sit and stare.  Others sing songs about the glory.  Heaven is on the brain, and it is evident with all who see it.  It becomes evident in behavior who has spent time looking through the laws, and who ignores them completely.

We look through the law and try to understand God better.  We know He is our Master and Savior and we just want to know Him.  We look through these light holes and study Him.  Often, we try climbing these shafts to try to just get a better view, and are reminded every time that this is not the way.  We can not forage our way up  there through our strength. 

Over time, we find our favorite laws to stand under and stare.  We form groups under each law, and some even start to declare “Our law is the most important.”  “Our law has the best view.”  “You can see God best through our law.”  We get confused…because all of the laws God made are from Him.  Even more importantly, we should all know that our salvation is not coming through these laws, but through the passage made by Jesus Christ.

Some start to condemn the laws, saying we should ignore them until our name is called.  They only divide.  They only discourage.  They start to call these laws “evil.”  They call those who live under them, “legalistic.”  Which is a bit of a stretch because the proper definition of “legalistic” in this imaginary world, would describe the people with the climbing gear trying to scale the miles of shafts up to heaven.  They block the light in their efforts, and fall every time.

No, those who spend their days studying the law, and soaking in the light of the law are not legalistic.  They are simply full of hope…and they cannot get their minds off of this heaven, and this God.  While they wait for their name to be called, they want to spend every moment soaking in the rays of heaven.

I suppose what I’m trying to explain is this: God gave us the law as an image of His character.  It is His standard, and though we cannot reach Him through it, it is not evil.  It is His character…His unattainable standard.  We will live this standard in heaven where there will be no tears, no death, no sin, no selfishness…just worship.  If we hate the law, and disregard it as meaningless in a life where Christ has made the way for us…isn’t that disregarding the world and God in whose presence we will enter?

My purpose in writing this is not to convict those who feel oppressed by the law.  My purpose is not to make people “more good” because that is not possible.  I do not want people to try to climb to heaven this dangerous way.  My purpose in writing is to encourage and inspire my fellow Christians that: to study the law is good.  To love the law is good.  It is full of encouragement and hope.  We as a generation should not push it aside, and wait in darkness.  The law is not the past…something old that makes no difference.  The law is our future.  It points to heaven, and the One who created the law, and called it good.

Granted, some of the laws, such as sacrifices, have been fulfilled through Christ.  Studying them as well teaches us more about God.  There will be no sacrifices in heaven.  It’s part of God’s story, though, and we should value it.  There are many parts of the law, and categories of the law.  It is a journey to see how each of them points to the character of God.  I fear sometimes that my own generation casts the law aside, saying it’s old fashioned, and it no longer applies, and the gospel (aka New Testament to many believers, although the gospel is found just as freely in the Old as well as the New Testament) well, the gospel is the only “important” part.

I make no claims that we are saved through the law.  I will always stand behind this, though: if it comes from God, then it is good, and it should not be cast aside as meaningless.