…And the Spirit of the Lord Brooded Over the Face of the Waters…

The upcoming, potential deluge I was talking about in my last post finally arrived on Saturday. We were expecting about 7 more inches of rain.  I was worried about it, since everything was already saturated.

Just when I was beginning to think we weren’t going to get any rain, (Missouri, rather than Arkansas was getting slammed) it started pouring! It hadn’t been raining long, when I looked out the front door and saw it running through our yard again.

I’m not sure how much rain we ended up with, but it was a massive amount! It just kept on getting worse and worse. Flash flooding is common in these hills. The rain washes down the mountainsides, and then flows through the crevices to lower points.

The water level came up fast and far surpassed what we’d had on Wednesday. I just kept going from the front to the back part of the house, from window to window looking out and taking pictures. I kept thinking, “Okay, NOW this is the worst it’s going to get.” I wanted to capture it with my camera. It kept getting worse and worse…the worst I’ve ever seen it since we’ve lived here.

Though it came close to the house, our house is pretty high up, so there was no danger of it coming inside. The above picture is the corner of the planter in front of our front porch. At one point, I decided to move my car, because the water was flowing through the back tire.

After (or during) the last rain, a tree bent over the dry stream bed. It didn’t uproot–just lost it’s mojo and curled over. At first, I thought it had uprooted, but it was still firmly planted.

You can also see how docile the dry stream bed became after it drained. Usually, it is completely dry.

During the height of the storm, I was standing on the front porch taking pictures, and I heard a loud CRACK. The tree that had been leaning over the dry stream bed had broken and had wrapped around the tack house.

Later, we found out that there was a blockage of limbs and leaves just in front of the log cabin (beyond the tack house) and that was contributing to the water in the dry stream bed being diverted out of it’s banks and through the long cabin!

The chickens were outside in all of this. I had run the chicks into the hen house during a lull in the storm (before things got really bad.) The rest of the big chickens were either on the front porch, underneath the back deck, or underneath the eves of the pump house.

The back yard was really bad, and the entire thing flooded! It just continued to get worse and worse. Eventually, the spring branch was too full and couldn’t flow through the culvert any more, so it backed up into our backyard.

I waded through the water to the wooden bridge to get across to check on the hens that were already in the hen house. I was worried about the bigger hens pecking on the little ones. When I went to cross the bridge, it was floating! That bridge is heavy.

The weather continued to get worse. I had no idea how bad it was going to get! The wind was really picking up! So I decided to corral  the rest of hens into the hen house. They were freaking out because of all of the water. They didn’t know which way to go.

A couple of hens tried to fly cross the water where they usually cross at the bridge, and they landed in the middle of the water. Did you know that chickens float? They do! Thankfully, the water from the spring branch was not swift like the dry stream bed, and the chickens were able to get themselves out. I had to hand carry a couple of hens to the hen house.

A couple of the hens ran up the hill. The wind was really picking up! I went up the hill for a long way, but they just kept trying to get away from me and went further up the hill. Also, I couldn’t see well because the sky had darkened, and since the plants are really springing up with all of this rain, there is a lot of undergrowth in which to hide.

I decided to wrangle the rest of the hens back around the yard, back behind the pump house and into the hen house on the other side of all of the flooding.

A seasonal spring opened up to the right of the pump house. I saw it as I was taking the hens around back there. There was a hole about the size of a grapefruit or larger. The water was shooting out like a fire hydrant and down the hill.

I came back inside and saw that I had a phone message from our neighbor. They had gone to town, and couldn’t get back home. There are creeks on either end of our gravel road that almost always swell and run over the bridge when we have a good rain. She was calling to tell me that we were under a tornado watch out here. We aren’t hooked up to TV, and when it rains really hard, our satellite internet loses it’s signal, so I had no idea. I was glad for her call! Thankfully, we were not in the path, or it didn’t touch down.

I was grateful that Bud called while I was inside. I asked him what I should do about the two hens that run up the hill. I was drenched and cold, wanted a shower and to get dry. It was getting dark by that time. I could  leave the hen house door open for the rest of the night, hoping the wayward hens would come back, but that would leave the rest of the hens in the hen house vulnerable to any predators that might waltz in. Or I could close the hen house door and let the two wayward hens fend for themselves all night, but the rest of my flock would be safe. I knew I would worry and not sleep all night knowing two hens were still outside in the dark and defenseless.

Thankfully, when I went back outside, the decision was made for me. The two water-logged hens had come inside the hen house while I was inside.

I forgot to mention that Bud was at a church conference and missed all of this excitement…BOTH floods. I was all alone, but amazingly calm through it all. I was mostly shocked and amazed at all of the water! It has never been this bad before.

Thankfully, all’s well that ends well. All of the water had drained out of the yards by the next morning.

 

 

Didn’t it rain? Children, My Lord! Didn’t it Rain!

Sister Rosetta Tharpe

My title is a line from a song about Noah that I sang in Sunday School as a child. It is still stuck in my head. To my recollection, the words I sang in Sunday School went something like this:

Didn’t it rain for 40 days and 40 nights without stopping
Didn’t it rain so hard that the water stopped a droppin’
Oh didn’t it rain, children, my Lord, didn’t it rain!

In the video above of Sister Rosetta Tharpe, the words are a bit different, but it’s worth it to watch the video. The Spirit was moving me yesterday, and I belted out the words off and on all day long. It’s a good thing Bud was not home to hear it. Grace (our cat) didn’t seem to mind, though. She is accustomed to my singing to her.

Why was I singing? Because it rained so hard that the water stopped a droppin! It was a real frog choker yesterday. At times, the rain was very heavy. Being in the hills, it’s normal for the creeks to fill rapidly when we get a lot of rain in a short period of time. This is our rainy season, so the ground was already saturated, which didn’t help things.

It rained for most of the day. I was grateful to be inside, but I worried about my chickens. They really don’t have the sense to get out of the rain. When it rains, they usually camp out under the back deck, under the eave of the pump house or on the front porch. Sometimes they get bored and just can’t stand it anymore and will go out into the rain to forage. Often, the rain will stir up bugs and worms, so it can be a chicken’s paradise out there.

I was worried about our little chicks, as this was their first major rain. They are about 10 weeks old now, and have been free-ranging and sleeping in the hen house for a couple of weeks. I was relieved when I found them on the front porch with the big girls. When the rain let up, the big girls left and I later found the chicks had made their way inside the hen house, and they stayed inside there for most of the day.

Our spring starts flowing really hard when we have a heavy rain, but it never gets out of control like the dry stream bed. Since it flows out of the hillside, I guess there is only so much that can flow out of the hole at one time. It rained so hard yesterday that the water flowed out of our front yard, across the driveway, and into the spring branch.

We have a dry stream bed in our front yard. If you follow the dry stream bed back far enough, you’ll find a crotch of three hills, so all of that water rolling off the hills has to go somewhere. There is also a seasonal spring that only flows when it rains hard–flows right out of the hill. The dry stream bed, too,  only fills up when there is a really bad rain.

The first brown streak is the dry stream bed, the brown streak beyond that closest to the house is water flowing to the side of it down the hill and through our yard. There is a culvert underneath the gravel road that takes water from the dry stream bed to the pond, but it’s often too much water going through there for the culvert to handle.There are a lot of leaves and dead branches that get dislodged and they often form a log-jam at the culvert.

When there was a lull in the rain, I went outside and found that, sure enough, there was a log jam right where the culvert goes under the road. It was making the flow go right in front of the garden. Even though the garden is built up, it was flooding the first two rows with the backwash.

I got a hoe, waded the road to the other side, and dislodged the debris. It really started flowing and the water went down a lot after that, but continued to flow over the road for the rest of the day.

When I go out in the mornings to let the chickens out, Grace often follows me and sneaks into the building. There are mice in there that she likes to hunt. If she goes upstairs while I am cleaning the hen house, she often gets locked in there. During the worst part of the rain, I looked out and happened to see her in the window of the outbuilding.

There were two squirrels taunting her by crawling around on the ledge. You can see one of them to the upper left of the window. Often, there will be as many as 10 squirrels on the ground in front of the outbuilding eating leftover chicken scratch. A neighbor joked the other day that we were raising squirrels as well as chickens. It wasn’t far from the truth! I went to rescue Grace so she could sit in the window in the house to look outside (rather than the outbuilding). At least she had food, water and a litter box inside the house.

For today, everything has been washed clean, and a cool front has swept in after the rain to freshen things. We will have a day of reprieve today before the next round of storms bring more rain–about 7 inches–over the weekend starting on Friday. That will be a lot for our swollen creeks to handle.

It was in the low 40’s this morning. I cranked up the gas heater and started a fire in the wood stove. Though I am enjoying the beginnings of Spring and watching everything ‘green up,’ I still enjoy cold mornings in front of my wood stove. Grace is curled up on a towel in front of it.

With each morning, your day has been washed clean, too. You have a ‘do-over’ with a clean slate waiting to have your ‘today’ written on it.

Hope all of you have a great day today!

“Isn’t it nice to think that tomorrow is a new day with no mistakes in it yet?”

-L.M. Montgomery (Anne of Green Gables)

We had a Little Excitement in the Hen House this Morning…

Thelma is a Chocolate Orpington (not to be confused with a Black Australorp)–she is one of our newest hens. One of Bud’s previous students has a father who raises them, and he gave us two pullets last time Bud went to Houston.

Since she started laying, she has been a very regular layer. One day I went into the hen house, and noticed all the signs of broodiness. So, being the chicken addict I am, I decided to put a few…well…okay   –9–   eggs underneath her. (You know…some won’t even hatch, and some will be roosters, so you have to prepare for that.)

Bud and I both wanted to see what kind of Broody she would make. Helen, our favorite Broody, has raised multiple groups of chicks and she is a great mother. She is getting on up there in age, though, and won’t always be with us forever.

(Helen and her Chicks)

Thelma has been such a good Broody Mama…she was brooding so HARD! You could almost feel her broodiness, with her breast and head down, feathers all puffed out, and a look of concentration that was unbreakable. She had not gotten up off the nest at all after I had put the eggs under her.

After you have seen a Broody Hen in action, it gives new meaning to Genesis 1:1-2:

 In the beginning created God the heavens and the earth.

And the earth was form and void; and darkness over the face of the deep.
And the Spirit of God brooded over the face of the waters.

Some versions say ‘hovering or moving’ in place of the word ‘brooding,’ but after having seen a broody chicken, it really gave me a new picture for this scripture.

So… I came into the hen house this morning, and the first thing I saw was the eggs in the brooder area scattered. I knew something was very wrong. I poked my head inside, and Thelma was nowhere to be seen.

For some unknown reason, I happened to glance up over my shoulder as I was kneeling down. I looked into the nest box, and there was a huge black snake curled up in the corner of one of the nesting boxes! I ran to the house and called for Bud, yelling that there was a black snake in the hen house.

Bud had just woken up, so he had to get dressed first. He grabbed his machete and went inside the hen house and told me stay way back. I watched from the door as Bud stabbed the machete into the nesting box. With each stab the snake’s head would pop out like a jack-in-the-box, striking at him. I could see it’s head going in and out from my vantage point. Finally, Bud pulled the snake out onto the floor of the hen house with his machete, and gashed it just below the head.

Black snakes are one of the ‘good’ snakes, and are non-venomous. They eat mice and other snakes, but they also eat eggs, and they can eat baby chicks. Apparently this snake ate at least 3 of the eggs, and was digesting them while curled up in the nesting box. Bud happened to gash the snake’s neck right where an egg was, because you can see the yolk of it spilling out onto the ground with the blood.

I don’t know if it was nerves or if it was still alive, but it opened it’s mouth and snarled at me while I was trying to take pictures.

The snake was about 4 1/2 feet long.

I found Thelma in one of the nesting boxes, safe and sound. I felt so bad for her. It must have been very scary. Chickens don’t see well in the dark, so I don’t know how she found her way through the darkness into the nesting box, unless it happened before or after it got dark.

We marveled at it for a while, and then Bud said he was going to go have a cup of coffee and told me it was my responsibility to dispose of it. I scooped it up with a stick, carried it over to the pond across the street and tossed it in the water.

Just another day on the farm. 

 

Morel Integrity

It’s morel mushroom season here in the Ozarks. These fungal delicacies usually start popping up around late March, early April. When spring flowers start blooming it’s time to start looking for morels.

Morels… (Is it MOR-els or mor-ELS’? I don’t know.)…cannot be cultivated. They require mysterious conditions for growth that no one has been able to replicate…the right soil, the right temperature…who knows. I have read that there are certain trees (Ash and White Oak to name a few) they are often found growing underneath, but this is not a hard and fast rule. I have also read that they flourish after forest fires.

They like moist conditions with lots of rotting wood and leaves, but most mushrooms like those conditions. I have read that if you try to buy morels, they cost around $20/pound! You can typically find them in the same spot every year. That is why most people who hunt morels will not reveal their ‘spot’!

Incidentally, don’t worry–I would not play around with foraging for mushrooms. There is only one potentially poisonous imposter of the morel, and it really looks quite different.

I don’t know if the conditions are better this year, if we are looking at just the right time of year, or if our eyes are getting more attuned to seeing them, but we have found a bumper crop of morels this year! We have found enough for me to fry them up twice. Bud found 3-4 yesterday after supper and cooked them up, himself. Our largest haul was about 2 quarts worth.

I learned ‘the best way’ to cook these mushrooms from the head of the family of the expert morel-ers down the road. He is one of those who WILL NOT disclose his ‘morel spots’, though he is quick to brag about how many they have found. He and his sons go out gathering morels and then their whole extended family comes to their house for a ‘morel-fry’ each year. It is he who first told us about the morels, and now, it is a regular part of our Spring.

The Best Way To Cook Morels (Not Paleo, Low Carb or Gluten Free)

First you wash them off, then cut them in half. You can soak them in salt water to kill the critters. We have found tiny bugs and small ants inside of the morels. They are hollow inside, which is another way to identify them.

Beat a couple of eggs and dip the mushrooms in the eggs.

Dredge them in flour, and shake off as much as possible. I think they taste better if the flour is not gobbed on there. I discovered that this year. The mushrooms in this picture below have a little too much flour.

Fry them in butter until golden brown! Nothing else will do. Lots of butter. This is half a stick, but I think I should have used more.

Drain on paper towels and lightly salt them. Serve to salivating hungry people! I had to bark at Bud for stealing them while I was still cooking them. I was afraid there wouldn’t be any left by the time I was finished cooking them!

 

 

The Milkweed

(Photo courtesy of Honey Bee Suite. <===Please click on the link to find out more about Milkweed!)

 

The Milkweed

by Richard Wilbur

~.~

Anonymous as Cherubs

Over the crib of God

White seeds are floating

Out of my burst pod.

What power had  I

Before I learned to yield?

Shatter me, great wind:

I shall possess the field.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I stumbled upon this poem and I thought it was worth sharing. It was a comforting reminder for me, and I know there are many people out there who feel as I do–that their lives are just a bunch of shattered, broken pieces of a ‘whole’….false starts, aborted attempts, forked roads, dead ends.

For me, the ‘great wind’ is God. Most Christians know that in order for our lives to be used as the Lord intends, we MUST yield and be broken. “It is not I who lives, but Christ who lives in me.” (Galatians 2:20) Our strength comes when Jesus is living in us, and working through us. WE must get out of the way. I believe that in God’s economy, this is so that there is no doubt that we, ourselves, are ANYTHING (can DO anything) on our own. At least for me, when I try to make things happen on my own, I am thwarted, over and over again.

It is through a broken life that I KNOW I am nothing. There is nothing I can do to earn the free gift of salvation that Jesus made possible. I am saved–not because I am good enough, not because I am perfect, not because I earned it, not because of anything I have achieved, not because my life is whole…but because I am broken, and I need a savior.

I can’t see any use to the broken pieces of my life. By the world’s standards, I have achieved NOTHING.  I have no children, I’ve never had a career, I’m not rich. I also tend to like to be alone. As I get older, it’s frustrating to see that I have nothing to show for my life. I am, however, greatly comforted that God has a plan that I cannot see. He knows the importance of each broken piece of my life thrown here and there in the chronology of my life. I am grateful that Bud often reminds me that I can’t see what God sees–the future, the bigger picture, the impact these small chunks have had on someone, somewhere…even if it was some public mistake I made that seems like a disaster to ME. I am not the architect with the plan.

I’m hoping that someone else is encouraged today. Your life is not a mistake…and your mistakes are not a mistake. God knew what you would do and how you would do it, and He can take even what satan intends to be a disaster in your life and turn it into something good.

(Incidentally, Milkweed –something most people consider to be a weed, is the ONLY plant that Monarch butterflies in the larvae stage will eat.)

I have decided not to renew my domain name, either here or at my hiking blog. I just don’t see the point anymore. I’m not even sure if I will continue with it or not.  If I make a post, and you are subscribed, you will receive a notice that I have made a post. Unless I delete the whole blog, you can still access it at this address:

http://www.littlehouseintheozarks.wordpress.com

Updates on the Kitchen and Dining Area

For those who haven’t been with me from the beginning, we moved from the Houston area and retired to Arkansas. We bought the place a year before we moved. We have a little over 30 acres of land. It has a year-round spring, which provides all our water to the house. We paid $65,000 for it. The seller made it clear that the price we were paying was for the price of the land with live water, meaning the house wasn’t worth anything and he wasn’t going to do any repairs.

The house sat empty for  at least 5 years after the seller’s parents died. The bugs and mice and taken up residence. There were spider webs, mouse droppings, wasp nests, ladybug colonies, dead mice, live mice, etc. The whole place smelled moldy. (We later discovered a leak in the roof.) It was so horrible, we spent the first weeks we started working on the house in a tent in the front yard. The bathroom floor was completely rotten. The water was no longer hooked up to the house. The latrine was a tree out in the woods. We knew the house had termite damage, but didn’t know how extensive it was until we started taking up old carpet, ripping off old wallpaper, etc.

The owner’s Dad built the house himself. Though the place was framed in oak, the house had an addition built onto the back to put in a bathroom, (they had an outhouse prior to that) and that is where most of the termite damage was. Bud had to replace joists under the house. We also found post dust beetle damage in the older part of the house, and some termite damage there as well.

To say we had our work cut out for us is an extreme understatement. Though we hired a plumber to do some of the work, Bud has done a lot of the plumbing, and most of the electrical work himself. He has done most of the wood work, though our neighbor built the kitchen shelves and doors for us. We have done what we can as we’ve had the money to do it. Though we have made great progress, there is still so much to do.

Here is a ‘before’ picture:

The house had two kitchens. This is their original kitchen (which did not have water hooked up to it…they were using a kitchen in the back part of the house and never removed this old one.) The window here was really low. I had to bend down to look out of it. The sink was so low, I’m sure the owner must have had to bend down to use it, too.

I wanted my new kitchen to be here where the old kitchen was. We had to rip out the particle board siding which was crumbling, it was so old. We took out the ceiling. (The attic will be a loft looking down to the kitchen.) We ripped out the cabinets. Bud had to put in a higher frame for the kitchen window, and the window was replaced.

(This is the old kitchen with door to living room.)

There is still work yet to do. It is not yet decorated, and for the most part, we are still living in a construction zone. ‘The polishing’ such as trim, curtains, etc. is not yet done,  so please be gentle.

I drew a rough sketch of what I wanted the shelves and cabinet doors to look like and our neighbor worked from that. I have a stainless single basin sink (which I love), and there will be a curtain below it so that it will look kind of ‘farmhouse’. That’s kind of the look I’m going for–farmhouse meets cabin.

The counter top is black granite with a leathered texturing to it. We didn’t want the polished look. There were problems getting the right counter top, with delay after delay. It took months to get the right one delivered and installed.

Here is where we are at now:

I put in the insulation in the roof. 🙂

The stairs to the loft will eventually be where the ladder is, only the angle will be greater. There is really no good place to put the access to the loft. There is a room behind the ladder, which is a large pantry.

The ‘brick’ behind the stove is ‘Airstone’. It is a veneer, and Bud did that himself. He did a nice job! The stove is all propane. It has a battery pack that sparks the ignition, so if the power goes out, I can still cook.

The flooring is just wood planks which Bud bought at the mill. It’s what I wanted, and I’m pleased with how it looks.

Right now, we have a cart for our coffee pot against the wall, and a stool for our water filter. I’m thinking I might like some narrow shelves over there for my cookbooks…not sure yet. As I said, nothing is finished yet.

The ‘add-on’ part of the house is where the old owners had their kitchen. It is now our dining area. Bud put in new windows where there was previously just a wall with high windows above the sink. I could only look out of them if I stood on my tiptoes. The new windows there let in so much more light! Again, no curtains yet. The blue thing you see there is just a temporary old shower curtain until all of the construction is done. The ceiling in there still needs to be put in. The old white ceiling is just painted plywood.

Here is what this area looked like before:

Kitchen/Back Door in the addition

Here is a pic of the second kitchen before it was ripped out:

New Kitchen in the addition, facing street

Here is the new dining area:

Bud added a sliding glass door in the back. Bud is building a mud area with a bench and places for storing shoes and hanging coats right in front of it (beyond the wall.) Incidentally, they sent us the wrong sliding glass door 4 times! It took 5 months before we received the correct sliding glass door. They ended up giving it to us for free!

The opening to the right is the opening to the lavatory with the bathroom just beyond that. We don’t have a door for the lavatory yet.

Here is a pic looking into the kitchen and dining room from the living room:

I’m very proud of the work that Bud has done. He has never done anything like this before. I have helped when he needed assistance, but for the  most part, I’m only good at ripping things apart. I have helped with the shellacking and holding things or helping to lift things or hold them in place. 🙂

The place feels bright, simple, functional and cheery. I’m very pleased with it so far. It has been good to go back and look at the ‘before’ pictures because it helps me to realize how far we have come!

The view out of my kitchen window: