Tag Archives: Family

The Leveling

I haven’t written since Beau.

At all.

Well, a couple bursts of Facebook posts here and there, but this is the first time I’ve come back to this place I love so much.

That horse did something to my heart.

It’s only been a month since he died but it seems like a year and then at night, when I wake up for my normal 3 a.m. insomnia check…it’s last week all over again.

As with any death I suppose, I think of “if only”. If only we would’ve caught it sooner. If only we would’ve known he was compromised. If only we would’ve…

And I go round and round and while I know a horse is a horse and not a human, I still grieve. We are still quiet when we speak of him.

But I know this:

Life is fragile and life is precious and sometimes life is too short. But life is a joy and a push and an embrace and sometimes you have to pause but you can never stop.

So I’m here.

I’m here and I’m yearning to write and my heart spills over now with words needing saying and letters needing typed, and this is where I want to be.

Because when God put a pen in the heart, there’s never any stopping it.

There might be a pause.

But today, again, I write.

A word-stringer might slow and her tears might flow, and her words might cease, and her heart might twist…

but after it all settles and that grief smooths some…

a writer will write.

~

My heart is stirred by a noble theme as I recite my verses for the king…Psalm 45:1

If Love was a House

If love was a house,
where would it live?

Would it settle in the kitchen?
Listening and bowing…
food washed tender and chopped with time, nourishment brought from afar…
board games and laughter and milk spilled and cookies baked…
round the table and a family at each meal?

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Would it stake claim in the living room?
Cozy and warm…
snuggles on the couches and stories in forts…
foot rubs and late night movies and popcorn…
lips to hot foreheads and hands bringing ginger ale?

Would it dwell in the playroom?
Loud and giggling…
other worlds being built and workshops noisy…
messes and kingdoms and broken pieces…
creativity and growing in action?

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Or maybe it would choose the big bedroom?
Quiet hush…
stately with moonlight and quilts warm and soft…
romance and laughter, breast milk, jambly stacks of books, throw up and icy little feet…
beauty and refreshment, life and rest?

Or would it pick the front porch?
Sunny spot…
collection site for trash out and loved ones in…
where home meets the world, the going to love those outside…
the coming to gather up the air of here?

porch n boots

Would love settle in the learning rooms?
Pencil places…
where reports get written and bills get paid…
the mundane details that are done by heart…
that keep the train on its tracks?

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Or maybe the bathroom?
Clean and refreshing…
bodies scrubbed and toes counted and teeth tidied…
and parents hide for small vacations and isn’t a toilet scrubbed…
all in a day’s work?

Or would love forsake the rooms and instead choose the walls?
Fingerprints rub…
photos hang, and calendar pages stand sentry waiting to be flipped while masterpieces are scrawled with glee in crayon. Food sticks and holes happen and memories ooze…
…and clinging to the foundation they breathe out and seem to whisper

right here.

Love lives right here.

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My People

It’s rare for him to lie down.

Especially in the winter.

It was our fault naturally. We couldn’t provide a good enough place for him to live. We had no idea what we were doing. If we were better at this, he’d be lying down resting and cozy all the time. Just like on the movies. But, we were inadequate and couldn’t provide him a place to be restful and cozy so therefore, he’d just always be cold.

And standing. Swaying on his feet at naptime rather than lying down for a full rest.

It was different today though.

Today when I pulled in the driveway, he was down. Not quite flat but curled up, cozy. I stopped the truck to survey. Was he hurt? Had he injured himself? Why was he down? He never lies down…

“Gracie have you seen Beau lay down recently?”

She knows his habits well.

“No, not really. Except for a couple weeks ago.”

What had happened a couple weeks ago?

“I put Charlotte in with him for the day.”

There I had it. Today, circling him, fussing over him, were his loved ones. Close by, within reach and keeping him company.

He wasn’t hurt. He wasn’t sick. He was simply comfortable in the presence of those who knew him best. He was among them and this allowed him to be completely content and relaxed enough to lie down.

He was happy. He was at ease. He was 100% himself.

He was with his people.

Er, his mares.

We learned today, our Beau, our sweet and mellow boy pony, is most at ease when he has his friends right next to him. It’s not a matter of mating, he’s gelded. But they are like him and they like him. They all know one another. And in their company, he is completely relaxed.

He is himself when he is with them.

He is loved.

And he is accepted.

They are his people.

So when I answer the phone and it’s my husband and he wants to know where we’re at, I tell him. We’re at the grocery store.

Just pulling in, I’ll call you back when I finish okay?

As I finish up, I remember to call him and dial as I pull out, heading toward my next errand.

“I thought you were at the Safeway.”

It’d just been a short stop, I explained. How was your day?

“Oh. Well, I’m here in the parking lot. I just thought I’d drop in and see you guys on my way back to the office.”

I’m miles down the road by now. The store I’m heading to closes in an hour. It’s my last stop of the day.

Why didn’t you tell me?

I’m frustrated, wishing I could’ve seen him.

I didn’t know. You need to communicate these things to me. We would’ve stayed if we would’ve known. How come you just didn’t tell me?

He didn’t think of it. We were at the store, he was just going to stop in for a minute. Just to see us. Give us a hug. Say hi.

Irritation fills the cab of my truck.

“Well, it’s okay. I’ll see you tonight.”

I scolded him a bit.

He had to get back to work.

The I love yous and see you tonights fall flat.

And as I drive, it hit me.

He just wanted to be cozy for a minute.

Wanted to take a moment out of the drain of the work day and be with the ones who love him most. To soak up the feeling of being loved… being accepted…and to let it refresh him for the rest of his day. He wanted to curl his spirit right up for a minute and be relaxed, known…

…himself.

He just wanted to be with his people.

There are people that we know so well, they are only their very true self when they are with us.

And what about our Lord? Doesn’t God know us just like that? Even better than that?

Not even a sparrow, worth only half a penny, can fall to the ground without your Father knowing it. And the very hairs on your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are more valuable to him than a whole flock of sparrows. Matthew 10:29-31

We can curl up and be cozy in that kind of being known.

We are known.

I am known.

We are His people.

Our farrier told us a horse doesn’t spend a lot of time on the ground in winter. He said when you see a horse lying down for a nap, you can bet that horse is completely relaxed and comfortable.

That was our pony today, curled up right in the middle of the hay pile and his two little girlfriends. He was so comfortable, his big little body was plunked right down, at feed time even, and he let his horsey lips tickle the snowy ground while his big brown eyelids drooped. He was sheer comfort. He was perfect content. He was himself. He was whole.

It’s not our inadequacy that keeps him from lying down. It’s not our lack of a perfectly sized heated facility. It’s not our lack of horsemanship that keeps him on his feet come naptime.

He just needs to be with those who know him best.

I call my husband back, tell him I’m sorry I forgot to call him earlier.

I’ve removed all irritation from my voice.

I was too rushed. I really would’ve loved to have seen him.

“It’s okay. I should’ve let you know. I guess I just wanted to see you guys.”

Over the cell we patch it up.

The I love you is sincere, all shortness is gone.

I’m sorry I scolded you, I tell him.

“It’s okay babe.”

My big strong husband forgives me, assures me he’s not upset.

Says he should’ve told me he was heading our way, coming to where we were.

He just didn’t think of it.

He was just going to stop in for a minute.

He just wanted to see his people.

 

God sets the lonely In families…Psalm 68:6

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© Cassandra Rankin, This Crazy Little Farm

Life is Messy and Things Aren’t Always Little on this Crazy Little Farm

    “…for every animal of the forest is mine, and the cattle on a thousand hills. I know every bird in the mountains, and the creatures of the field are mine.” ~Psalm 50:10-11

We’ve had our little farm just three years. Not long in the grand scheme of things. But you’d be amazed what a mama can learn in three years, especially when it comes to animals. And kids of course.

An especially poignant day comes to mind when this mama found herself in the surreal situation of stuffing the way-back of her Ford Expedition full to the ceiling before sunup one morning, cages and kennels teetering while she drove through the early morning dark, her children’s faces in the rearview, solemnly brushing the lint off their white fancy shirts, combing their hair and their coon skin caps and quietly practicing their showmanship routine.

Guinea pig shows will do that to a family. You see, this raising animals gig ain’t for the faint of heart. I said it after my kids raised the roof and cleaned house with their little pig herd, winning ribbons and prizes and honorable mentions as I just sat bewildered, shaking my head slowly. I told the judge then and I maintain it now, you just never know what road you’re gonna travel once you become a mother.piggies

And that’s the way it is with farm life too. We’re little. We have pets on the barnyard, not dairy cows or beef cattle. Our little herd of mini horses and goats are just fun family members who fill our table talk and empty our checking account. We’re not pros, heck we have to pray for strength and fortitude before we even butcher up a few chickens. Big ranchers are tough and strong and get thrown off bulls and cut their hands on barbed wire. We’re what you’d call a much softer, fluffier version of that. Think petting zoo. But not quite as cute. That’s us. With a buncha guinea pigs and a two-toed rooster thrown in.

Large scale farmers or not though, we’ve still learned a peck about life from these crazy animals. In fact, I’d venture to say I’ve learned more about life and love and how this whole operation works in the three little years we’ve had this crazy little farm than I probably did in all the years before hand. You see, when God made animals, He gave them to us humans to take care of. And yes, some animals are with us just for companionship and to keep our feet warm at night, and that’s a wonderful thing. But there’s more to it too.

The way I figure it, as long as this big old world keeps spinning, and no matter what happens on it, there will always be animals. Always. For friendship, for work, for transportation, for eats. Where there are people, there will be animals. And as long as there are animals, there will always be a need for people who know how to care for them. So that’s what we’re doing. We’ve set out to learn. We’re learning how to care for animals. And in learning how to care for animals, we’re learning a whole bunch about how to care for people too. These are just a few of the tidbits we’ve garnered:

Life is messy. Farm life isn’t like what we see on t.v. The farms on t.v. have us thinking barns clean themselves, manure evaporates, animals quietly graze on grass all their livelong days and no one ever gets sick. Or when they do, a quick visit from the vet fixes them up lickety split. Life, real life, is messy.

And you’ll more than once find yourself standing in a pile of poop, wondering how you got there, and having no other option than to just take your shovel and get after it. But after a few times of mucking, it’ll get to become a little more familiar. It won’t be so alarming after you’ve been through it once or twice. You’ll get better at dealing with the poop. And you might even start to figure out ways to head off big messes. But it’s still going to always be there. In life, there’s poop. You just gotta learn to deal with it.

Life is unpredictable. You learn to deal with messes and may even get good at it. But then, on farms, and in life, something’ll get thrown at you that you have no idea where it came from or how to deal with it. The pony will get sick and you’ll find yourself giving him shots in the neck twice a day for two weeks straight even though you can barely calm the shaking in your hands. Or the hedgehog will develop a very sudden onset of Wobbly Hedgehog Syndrome one morning which will force you to ask your husband twelve hours later if he wouldn’t mind just getting it over with by gently sending the poor animal to the hereafter while you and the kids run into town. Things happen that you’d never even think of when you woke up in the morning and the older you get, the harder it is to deal with sudden happenings, but the easier it gets too because when it comes down to it, isn’t that real life? Interruptions…Surprises…Messes…Unpredictable.

Life needs our attention. When you’ve got critters, you study them close and you study them long. You come to know what an animal needs from you. You understand more than anyone else on earth what they need for food, shelter, routine, training, affection. That animal has specific needs as an individual. You are the person that been commissioned to meet the needs of that critter. If I don’t study the critters on my barnyard, if I don’t know what they need, I’ll wake up one morning to a loose animal, a sick animal or a dead animal. It’s my job to give them my attention.

This life needs our attention.

Careers, worship, recreation, sports, education…all contain one common thing: people. There are people under my roof I need to study close and I need to study long. They have needs that only I can meet. I’ve been commissioned. I need to know how they learn, what their favorites are, what makes them thrive, what makes them shrivel.

Who needs your attention? Study them close and study them long. Make sure they’re warm and fed and sheltered and that they have your affection. We don’t want our people lost, or sick or spiritually dead.

Life needs our commitment. As I write, it is six degrees below zero. Yesterday it was 15 below, the day before 17 below zero. It gets dark at 4:30 p.m. This will go on for months, at least four, usually more like five, depending on our weather pattern. The animals on our barnyard don’t comprehend these details, but they have a keen understanding of when they’re too cold, when their water has frozen solid, when it’s chow time and who brings these things to them. Life isn’t a joy ride. It gets ugly, it gets messy and it gets cold. You have to do it anyway. Because you committed to it and because there are critters, and people, who need you.

Take care of the outcasts. Every herd has an outcast. That one who’s never invited in, who tends to stand off alone, sometimes by choice, but most times because they’re driven off. Jesus took care of them. We have to love them. And they’ll love you right back. Forever.

My little horse is an outcast. So she eats first on our farm. Every day. She still bristles though when I want to come in close. Her first instinct is to want to run. But when I use my soft voice, and gently reach out to her, she’ll come in close and let me hug her neck. She stands still and her eyes go soft. She’ll blink, almost in puzzlement. Then she’ll sigh. She receives my love. She knows that I love her even though something in her just wants to run. Even though she feels outside of the herd, she knows she is safe with me.

I’m an outcast. Somewhere, somehow, aren’t you one too? Don’t we all sometimes feel like we don’t fit? Like we want to bristle? To run? And if you don’t, trust me, someone you know does. We’re walking and talking with folks on this planet every day who’ve been run off, who aren’t invited in, who are just plain scared of the herd. Love them. Jesus told us to. You might help heal their heart. And you’ll both have a friend forever.

Kindness usually works. When an animal is mean, it is usually because it is scared or sick. Sometimes people are mean. They are usually scared or sick too. Don’t be mean back. Kindness usually works.

It doesn’t always go the way you’d hope. Death is part of life and even though we hate it, we’ll have to say goodbye to those we love. It will almost break your heart in two to see an animal you’ve loved, tended to, syringe fed, kept hydrated, administered shots to – lying there lifeless, eyes dull, no more movement in their once-strong muscles. It will break your heart in two to see the tears rolling down your children’s chins as they look on that same animal. But it will happen. It’s part of life’s natural process and seeing death in our animals helps us appreciate life with our people all the more.

Life requires help. It might be in the form of getting the sweet neighbor boys to do some work for you, or hiring a babysitter, or someone to mop your floors, or asking your best friend to go for a walk. We aren’t an island and this life wasn’t meant to be solitary and we need people. Especially during the extra messy times. When we try to walk it alone we walk it hard and in the hardness bitter is born. We need help.flat tire

It takes two. When I carry one bucket I’m a weakling. I slosh the water all over my pant leg and into my boot and bring a half empty haul to the trough. When I carry two I am strong like a teenaged boy and deliver full buckets to the barn. It’s uneven with one. Heavy. Too much to carry. It takes two. It’s balanced with two. God wasn’t kidding us when He said it right there in Ecclesiastes 4, “two are better than one”. Friend. Family. Spouse. Neighbor. Pair up with someone. Get a buddy. Share the load. In this life, it takes two.

There’s more. So much more.

Like how I’ve learned so much about my obedience to God when I train my misfit mini horse. How some animals will listen to certain people but treat others like poo on a shoe. How maddening that is, in animal world and in people world.

sun bathing rubyHow sneaky little goats make you think they’re the cutest thing in the world and then you turn your back and they cause a ruckus that raises the roof, much like a willful and exploratory two-year-old.

How a rabbit will warn all in the hutch of oncoming danger. They look out for one another and will even let kits from another nest nurse and move into their nest if need be. They instinctively take care of the helpless.

How some things are just good plain fun to watch and bring tranquility. Like a flock of chickens. Talk about boring and tranquil entertainment. And even then, there’s the blessing of eggs. Life doesn’t always have to be serious and industrious. We sometimes need a little boring entertainment. A place to sit. Something goofy to watch.

And when we do, even in the boring…
…we’ll find blessing.kit in Daddy's hands

© Cassandra Rankin, This Crazy Little Farm