Tuesday, April 23, 2013

A Small piece of Skid Loader, Red Tulips, and an Unknown Message.

It was exactly what was needed.
A tiny thing, almost invisible, but so big in it's purpose.



Living on a farm of any size demands the need for equipment.
Shovels and pitch forks are dandy for pictures and fine artwork,
but the real horse power of today has much more work potential in a few hours
than a man's muscles could accomplish in days, or even weeks.

As our farm has grown in animal numbers, so has our need for the farmer's "toys", as I kiddingly call them.
One of the best investments we have ever made was our skid loader.
Heavy round hay bales can be moved where needed,
 manure cleaned from the barns in one fifth of the time it used to take with a tractor.
The skid loader can turn and maneuver with ease. It always amazes me to see the strength and power that the little thing has.

It is, I think, the Farmer's best friend (old Fido contending closely).

And when it breaks down,
oh, the horror.


"Gather your tulips together and put them in the back corner behind the shed with the rest of your plants.
That way we can keep all your things to sell together so when the day of the sale comes, you know where yours are," I spoke to Violet as I bent over my own garden work in progress.  "When you are done with your tulips and hyacinths and they are all together with your liatris, I want you to go through the rows of mixed plants and find my hydrangea.  See, they look like this..."

Her head came close to mine as she looked at the sticks emerging from the pots with just a few leaves poking through around the base of the plant.  She touched the leaves, as if touching them would help her better remember what they looked like.

"Okay, where do you want them?" she asked as she began to gather a few of her potted tulips.

"Put them over there next to the house in a group by those hostas.  We're supposed to get a frost tonight and if we don't cover them, they will lose all those baby leaves.  It happened last year, and then they weren't ready for the sale.  I want you to find 15 of them.  I know there are at least that many and that would really help me out.  If you find 15, I'll let you keep one to sell for yourself because they are good sellers; plus you can have 3 extra tickets on the chore chart."  She smiled and I knew the reward was a good enough incentive to get her search into action.

I scanned the horizon and saw how quickly the sun was moving toward it.  There was so much to still get done before the day could be lost and the frost came.

  I gathered the last of the plants I needed to put into pots, labeled the outside of the pots, and then scraped my trowel into the wheelbarrow full of dirt.  Levi ran by with a toad in his hand.

"Levi, you need to put that thing back where you got it from and go up to the barn and start watering the cows.  Daddy was just calling for you."  He frowned at the toad, but set him down and set off up the drive toward the barn.  Lillie stepped out onto the porch and reminded me that she was hungry.  "May I have a cheese stick?" she asked, and she disappeared back into the house when I agreed.

My elbow shot a pain as I extended it to lift a pot from the ground.  Where did that come from?
My tailbone seemed to moan as I bent over to make getting the pot easier.
"You old body."  I muttered at myself.  "Why do you have to complain so much?"

A little while later, I could hear Lillie and Violet talking.  She'd finished her cheese stick, and upon coming back outside, Violet had gotten her to help her.  "You carry this one back to where I just put the red flowers.  These are my tulips and they need to all be together."  It was nice to see them working together.  Things between them are not always so cheery.

As the darkness started to stretch across the sky, that nagging feeling of doubt began to waft through my weary being.  Was this all really worth it?

  All these hours spent digging, potting, watering, carting, and then starting it all over again.  The gardens and mulching and weeding were hard to keep up with.  Then there was the pricing and labeling, the advertising and getting boxes.

As I heard the girls, I remembered why I had started this: to help contribute some income for the family while giving the kids a way to earn some money and learn how to work;
to help make our yard beautiful while paying for it;
to do something I loved and enjoyed, even if sometimes that part of it got lost in the work part.  I always know that after the plant sale, when things slow to a normal pace again, I do love my gardens.

Still, when the sun is setting over tarps and sheets covering countless hours of potential,
one wonders.


The search for the broken part of the skid loader could be ridiculously hard.
Thankfully, my husband is a mechanic, so he was able to narrow it down.
After he had fixed a part or two, though, his frustration became obvious over a dinner conversation.
What could be wrong with it?
He tried to think things through and search different options on internet searches.
Finally, he thought he'd pinpointed the problem.
He placed the order and reminded me to be on the lookout for the part.

When it came, I laughed.

 Could this be it?  Really?  The whole works of the farm were stopped...

because of this?

Funny how something so seemingly insignificant and buried deep inside a powerful machine was this important to making the whole thing work.


I trudged up the stairs and could smell the hamburgers cooking.
How nice that the Farmer was such a help in the kitchen when my days amongst the rows of plants grew long.  I stopped at the computer before heading to the table to check for an email I was expecting,
and I saw a new one in response to the Craigslist ad I had put on earlier that day about the plant sale coming up in a couple weeks.  It was a name and address I didn't recognize.

"I have been waiting ALL year to visit y'all again!!!  I love love love everything I have purchased from y'all over the past two yrs!!!"    ----Fay

Funny how a few simple words typed onto a screen can make the sun shine in the dark,
make my cold, aching body feel a stroke of warmth in the heart.

She didn't have to take the time from her busy day to send a few kind words to a stranger,
but she did.

Sometimes, it is the small things:
the seemingly insignificant pieces that can get the skid loader moving again,
a kind word in an email from a stranger,
the drifting words of siblings working together over pots of plants
that awaken the heart to how simple are the joys of life.

A small thing can make all the world of difference in the everyday life.

Something I need to remember;
and I realized how a prayer of thanks must be to the Creator,
simple, yet sweet,
 like the beauty of a red tulip after a hard day's work.

And so I thanked Him.


  1. Wonderful post..it is indeed the small stuff that counts! I can't wait to hear about your sale and see your lovely yard in bloom.

  2. I loved reading this. I needed this message, small as it was...hidden in there waiting for me to read it. thank you, for sharing your words, evidence of your hard work, and most of all your Testimony.

  3. Its amazing how impactful (is that a real word??) the small things in life can be! Great post! Love the bird cage in the bird bath, too. Very unique.

  4. What a wonderful post!

    I would love for you to link up this at the Empty Your Archive link party. We have a special focus this week on gardening, Alice @ Mums Make Lists x

  5. What a lovely post. You are right, sometimes it seems so simple that thank you, but those two words pack a lot of power. What a beautiful farm you have and I hope your plant sale goes well. Wish I could be there.
    I am your newest GFC.
    Have a wonderful week,
    @ Eclectic Red Barn

  6. The Gardens are looking great! I love that bird bath with the cage. I can't wait to come to your sale! Great post as always!

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  8. We all have much to be thankful for, and this post was an excellent reminder of that for me.


  9. As always I enjoyed your blog. Blessings on your plant sale.

    Your kids are growing up so fast !


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