The Simply Perfect Gift

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When I was very young, perhaps five or six,  I received a gift.  It was a homemade box that my Great Uncle Lee had made me.  It was rectangular, small, but big enough to hide candies, or photos, or pens, or whatever treasures I should encounter.  It had a picture of me on the front with a little frame.  My small fingers could easily unclasp the latch to peer inside.   Such a simple gift but such a meaningful one.  In the world of mass marketing and advertising, in a world of throw away and break easy gifts, what a magnificent gift that box was.

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I thought of this as I painted a plain box.  I needed a box to hold sacred feathers in.  I picked up one at Michael’s that was plain and unfinished.  I suppose one could easily build one, but I have never been one to build anything easily.  I painted it a lovely turquoise.  I thought a white silhouette of a feather painted on top would be striking but it turned out looking spindly and unfinished.  Emily took the box from me and properly painted on a feather.  Perfect.  I could add a clasp or a ribbon to hold it shut but it closes so that is enough for me.

A box given as a gift, carefully embellished or painted.  Decoupaged photographs on front or vintage newspaper, painted flowers or magical glitter, all depending on whom the box is meant for, is a personalized gift.  A mother might have hers filled with photos or letters or notes of appreciation.  A graduate may have a journal and a bit of cash added.  A child may have a tokens of treasure or an empty box for the imagination.  Goodness, a box has infinite possibility.  A decorated box is a perfect gift.

The Screwy Sweet Weekend

"Why can't I come in?" Elsa wondered.

Today the weather breaks.  I believe that was our last freeze and cold spell until next autumn.  I hope so.  I plan to get all the summer crops in in the next few days.  We don’t have a long growing season here and we have to hustle once it’s time to plant.  I will go access the damage from the hail, the freeze, the ice storm, and the flooding of the past few days.  Seedlings were ripped out of the smaller beds, the basil is dead, as our some of the tomato starts but I haven’t looked in the greenhouse or the main garden yet.  The other night we actually had a severe thunderstorm with hail warning, a flash flood warning, and a winter storm warning all at the same time.  That is farming in Colorado, folks.  The High Plains is one of the most difficult to farm.  I always joke that if we moved closer to sea level I would be brilliant at farming and baking because I am so used to making it hard on myself by doing it all in Colorado!  But this is home.

The other screwy incident this weekend was our baby goat.  There were no responses from anyone to buy him.  No one wants a boy.  Now that it is so popular to have goats here I thought they would all sell quickly but it turns out everyone else is breeding and selling them too!  I was starting to believe we would have a new wether when I decided on a whim to see if he had had a sex change.  And sure enough, as I squealed and ran her around to show Doug and Shyanne, he was a she.  In the dark, rainy, muddy stall I must have gotten confused.  Glad I checked.  She will sell now.  She is a beautiful red Saanen.

We are having trouble milking Elsa.  She is engorged and chapped and it takes two of us to milk her and we only get two cups.  Yesterday I put my pain salve on her and pinned her against the gate so that I could get as much milk out to relieve the pressure.  I was in tears.  She wasn’t happy.  I get to go do it again this morning.  This cold has not helped her utters.  I hope the pain salve did its job last night and healed the skin.  Doug is the milker, but with two does freshening I am to milk Elsa.  A new milking farmgirl and a new mama who just wants sweet feed and not to be touched do not make a good combination.  It will get easier with time, I am sure.

Mother’s Day was sweet.  Andy was snowed into Denver.  He wants me to move closer.  He sent me a sweet message.  I received a homemade sign from Shyanne that reads, “Home is Where Mama is” and Emily got me a kettle to put on the wood stove top.  Doug found me a baking oven that fits on top of a wood or propane stove.  Doug is building me an outdoor kitchen soon and it will make a great addition.  A peek at a well outfitted camping store can supply many homesteader needs.

I have lost my old, cracked IPOD with the camera so I haven’t been able take any pictures for you.  I hope it comes out of hiding soon!

I have a guitar lesson today.  It makes me happy.  I think I will make cheese today as well.  May you all have a brilliantly happy day and all warm weather and sunshine ahead!

Snow Storms and Fruit Blossoms

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A winter storm watch has been issued.  I do not recall ever experiencing substantial snowfall in May, when the lilacs have bloomed, at Mother’s Day.  Doug vaguely recalls one time when we were children, frozen trees cracking in mass.  Temperatures in the twenties, hovering in the thirties, blizzard conditions; all rather surreal.  Yet, this Mother’s Day, on what was to be our first market of the season, a winter storm is coming.

Friends on social media rejoice.  “How fun!” they exclaim.  One more day of snowmen and hot chocolate.  Perhaps a bus ride in slushy snow or a day by the fire.  To farmers and avid gardeners, it is a day of probable detriment.  Things folks that purchase food from the grocery store are not even aware of.

At Sandy’s house, my friend who graciously allows me to harvest herbs and fruits from her large plot, the trees hold handfuls of dainty flowers.  Full dresses of fruit-to-be.  The sour cherries that I made cherry cordial from last year, the Asian pears that I canned pear sauce from, the crisp apples, the gooseberries that became jam.  A substantial storm could simply take the flowers down.  Fruit may not grow this year.

Indeed the potatoes beneath their earthen blanket shall thrive, the tiny bok choy and radish seedlings, the onions, the perennials shall drink in the rich water and thrive come the first sunny day.

The fruit trees we will watch and pray.  A farmer’s competition and adversary…and friend and companion….is Mother Nature.  May she be kind this Mother’s Day.