Sunday, October 19, 2014

Family Dynamic Changes

I wondered if moving to the country would change our family dynamics.  When my older children were little, I longed for them to be outside with space to explore, throw a ball around, and spend time together.  We had 1/3 of an acre in Colorado when they were little and we did spend long hours outside.  I remember being barefoot and pregnant there and sitting outside watching them play. I visited with my neighbors in the backyard while they played on the swings, dug in the dirt or in winter went sledding down the short hill we had.

Then we moved to Dallas area and bought a house with virtually no backyard.  It had an 8 ft tall fence and a small patch of grass.  We looked for months for a house with a big yard but there were none in our price range and in the area we needed to live.  At least the house we did buy had two large trees that they could climb when they were older.  They did play in the street out front but had to be very careful not to hit a parked car with their baseball practicing.  We did take many walks at the greenbelt close by to get out into nature and when they got much older, they could go ride their bikes down there and explore.  We made due with what we had and they had a lovely childhood.  I on the other hand, quit sitting outside with the Texas hot sun and plethora of bugs to wrestle with.  I did when we first moved there but over time, I quit.  I'm not sure why. . . maybe it was the view of the tall fence that detoured me.  I did spend time trying to garden in my square foot box but that is only so relaxing.

When we moved to East Texas this summer, we bought a house that sits on 2 1/2 acres.  What a blessing it has been.  For the first month or so I felt like I was living in a country vacation home.  All the fresh air is mesmerizing!  I love the sounds of crickets, cows mooing, roosters crowing and the breeze rustling in the trees.  If it was too dark to be outside on the back porch then I would open the windows in our sunroom and sit out there and listen, read, or just sit and be thankful for all of it. I think God is glorified when we are just still with a thankful heart.

This is our sunroom where I can still feel like I'm outside without being out.  When it gets too cold, I'll sit out here maybe with a space heater so I can feel like I'm still outside.

Our front yard and house.
So how has all this space changed our family dynamics?  Well, I know it's helped me have more peace.   I automatically began spending time outside again because I love nature and gravitate towards being in God's creation.  Didn't God create all these trees, sounds, smells, and creatures for us to enjoy?  They reveal His handiwork, His splendor, His intelligent design!  I try to sit outside everyday for a bit and I just stand amazed at all the beauty there is to see.

Just yesterday I went outside to do Micah's reading lesson with him and it took us almost an hour to get started because we got distracted with a Monarch butterfly that floated by and landed in the tree above us.  We studied it and then I had to go get my camera.

I've always heard about the Monarchs migrating to Mexico but have never experienced it.  The more we watched, the more we saw.  One would flutter by and then another.  One right after another.  So as I was following them, hoping they would land in the yard so I could get a picture, I spied a flowering weed and saw 5 Monarchs drinking the nectar!

Aren't they pretty?  I had to get over the guilt of lagging in Micah's reading lesson and kept telling myself, this is what school is all about.  This is life science!  He'll learn to read all in due time.

We have slowed down since we've moved and that has helped me sort through what is important.  We stopped piano lessons, baseball practice, and home school elective classes.  Not because we wanted to but because we had to.  We might pick up some of these things again but for now we are learning what there is around here in our little town of 3,500.  Instead of me being the family taxi, we are spending time getting to know our neighbors, having friends over (new and old) and playing outside. all the while discovering things like Monarchs, spiders and the habits of birds.

The boys have named this chicken Fluffy Flyer.  She is our most docile chicken and will let most anyone hold her.  She is slow so she is easy to catch and never pecks at you. Chickens are so fun to watch.  Sometimes I go outside in the late afternoon to read a bit or maybe plan our meals for the week and make a shopping list.  I can hardly concentrate because the chickens are so interesting to watch.  I love that they eat the bugs in our yard especially the grasshoppers and crickets.  The run here and there as fast as their fat, fluffy, feathered bodies will carry them to catch a jumping insect.  They roll and puff up their feathers in the dirt and dust to clean themselves.  They separate themselves from the flock when they need to go lay an egg and will always lay it in the same place.  One makes her way back to the pen, another sits by the workshop in her dirt nest she has created and still another has made her nest on top of a grassy mound.  It cracks me up to see her fluffy red head peeking up over the grass as she sits and waits for that egg to drop out of her.

Anthony has had to observe 5 birds for his biology class.  He took some exceptional pictures last week, much better than I could have captured them.  This is a hawk.  Hawks are beautiful birds but really not chicken owners friends as they will eat them.  One swooped down into our yard the other day and all the chickens scattered and squawked.  Sometimes the chickens will just freeze when they sense a predator.  They will stand motionless for a very long time.

This is the neighborhood Blue Heron.  He/she hangs out by our pond next door and one day when I was pulling away in my car, I saw it flying across the road to another neighbor's pond.  The wing span was so enormous and seriously, it's wings were blue.  Absolutely beautiful are God's creatures!

This the Texas state bird the Northern Mockingbird.  They are fabulous looking when they fly because they have a white wide stripe on their wings contrasting with black or dark grey and they seem to love to fight with each other.

Isn't this picture striking?  Anthony got this one of our friendly Cardinal!  He is so pretty and comes around often.

 And, did I tell you about the newest animal that our neighbor's added to their household?  It's Pepper the pot-belly pig!  She is 10 weeks old in this picture and our neighbor brought her over to meet our boys.  Levi loves animals and always seem to wind up kissing them.  Pigs can be cleaner that dogs and cats, I guess so this one is a pet and lives in the house with them.  It sleeps in a crate at night in their son's room and they take her out to go potty just like you would a puppy.  So far, she hasn't had any accidents. Amazing!  I never would have known.

I've even decided that I love taking the time it takes to hang my wash outside to dry.  I love being outside so why not?  It's just another excuse to be outside among the trees with the breeze drying our clothes.  It saves money on the electric bill and I love the way the clothes come out slightly stiff with that fresh air smell.  In seems like more work because it is easier to throw them in the dryer and push a button but in the end it's less work.  I don't have piles of clean clothes laying around waiting to be folded and put away.  I fold them as I take them off the line and put them in the basket.  Then when I get into the house, I put them away. This goes right along with my resourceful personality.

So living in the country is slowly changing the dynamics of our home.  We are spending less time in front of media and technology, less time running from here to there, and more time outside.  It has created a less hurried lifestyle. There seems to be more peace in the home and patience with each other.

 We just ordered 9 ducks to add to our bird farm so I'm sure in the weeks ahead, I will be taking tons of pictures of ducklings.  My nature girl, Julia and I, could not be more thrilled, anticipating these day old ducklings coming in the mail.  Our neighbors have ducks and gave us some duck eggs to try.  They are amazing!  Did you know that duck eggs cost about $1 a piece?  They are a precious commodity!  So we will pray that they will make it through the winter weather and stay safe from predators so that in the Spring we might get to eat duck eggs regularly.

Stay tuned as we experience life in the country.


Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Two kinds of people in life

I've noticed that there seem to be two kinds of people, country people and city people.  City people would be defined as those who like their conveniences, downtown activities and plethora of choices in shopping and restaurants and don't mind the traffic to get there.  They are comfortable around lots of people and noise doesn't seem to bother them much.

 Country people like the slow pace of virtually no traffic, a few quaint shops to choose from and don't mind spending the day driving to the closest grocery or town to stock up on food.  They don't like crowds as much and find the peace and quiet of nature, soothing.  They don't mind getting their hands dirty, occasional bugs and spiders don't freak them out as long as they aren't in the house.  They like the idea of not having city rules like no clotheslines, no farm animals, and no burning garbage.  Your lawn can be as long as you like and you can compost or stack bags of leaves to use later wherever you want.

Some people who have a country mentality have to live in the big cities but they find ways to embrace nature and slow down.  They might choose to live in a suburb on the outskirts of the city and avoid the freeways.  They might even choose a larger lot over a big new house so they can be outside and have a garden and do their own thing. City folk would choose the new house with all the latest conveniences and a patio instead of a yard so they don't have to mow.

I suppose some people are a bit of both.  Let's face it we all love our comforts and conveniences but I if I had to pick a category, I'd be a country girl.  And isn't it a good thing that both the city person and country person can actually like each other and get along?  Even though, we are somewhat opposites, its a wonderful thing to get along and appreciate those differences.

I even have 2 opposites in our family. Once daughter loves her comforts, technology and clean living while the other loves the birds, climbing trees and can't keep her shoes on.

Together she and I have been watching birds and trying to the best of our ability to identify them.  For a few weeks in August and September there seemed to be a bird festival in our backyard!  We were seeing 7-8 different birds at a time in a matter of an hour of bird watching.  It was truly amazing.  It felt like we were at a bird sanctuary.  We tried our best to take some pictures so we could search our bird book later to identify them.  Here are some of what we captured.

This is a ruby throated hummingbird.  One day I was watering my grass with an sprinkler that rotated because us country people don't usually have sprinkler systems.  To my surprise a large bug came zooming through the water.  I thought it was a cicada or some really large buzzing thing I'd never seen before.  When it came in for a shower again, I realized it was a hummingbird!  I quickly ran out and bought a feeder and shortly after we had 4 different hummingbirds fighting over the feeder.  I've learned they aren't prone to share so while one guards his food, the others try to chase him away so no one really gets anything to eat!

 So during our bird festival we counted 9 hummingbirds!  They were swooping and zooming all over the place!

The cardinals out here seem really red for some reason.  We had these when we lived in the Dallas area but they didn't seem as red.  Maybe because of all the green grass and trees around here they just look brighter.

One day as we were bird watching we saw a bright yellow bird.  He stayed in the tree above our fountain and he was so small that it was hard to get a good look at him.  Day after day we would catch glimpses of him until he felt comfortable enough to take a bath in our fountain!  It didn't take long before he brought all his friends too.  We looked in our bird book and found that he is called a Yellow Warbler.

Aren't' they beautiful! The next bird I have a picture of I think is a sparrow. These birds have the prettiest song and sing very loudly!  I heard her singing and couldn't believe so much noise was coming from this little bird.  She has built a nest in our tree so we regularly see lots of sparrows flying back and forth from our feeder to this tree.

This is the red bellied woodpecker which we think is a funny name because his head is red, not his belly.  This is the best picture I could get of him.  We've seen him several times.

Ok, this is enough birds for one day.  I'll end with the black-capped chickadee.  They are another real cute, small bird that love our feeder.  Pretty common here just like the house sparrow.

Now that it's October, we aren't seeing very many birds.  The black crows are still around and the bluejays. Even the hummingbirds have slowed down in coming to their feeder.

That is ok, though, because we still have our chickens to watch! I look forward to Spring to see what kind of birds God brings our way.  Hope you enjoyed my bird post.