Thursday, January 2, 2014

Hens & Rabbits: Free Rangers


Backyard Chickens: It was time to add animals to our mini ranch, so we decided to purchase 6 laying hens. Finally, fresh farm eggs from our own hen house!  Jeff and I, with our daughter and grandsons, drove to a chicken ranch outside of Parma. It was a perfectly beautiful spring day to choose just the right chickens. We each chose the hens that we liked, and on our way home we named the hens: Zeta, Flowers, Abigail, Buffy, Blanco, & Rhodie. We have a fenced in yard, so I allow the hens to free range. Thus we have healthier eggs, at least I like to think so. Chickens put themselves to bed at night, so we just close the coop gate after dark. That's the easy task.
A few months after all the hens were happily laying and providing our family with lovely eggs, two of the hens, (Zeta & Flowers,) became ill and died.  So, now we have four hens, three great layers and one not so good. She may join us for a New Years dinner...!   Just a final note on backyard chickens: after all of the time, energy and money we have spent on a few laying hens, I would say that each egg could be worth its weight in "gold."

Winter Update: Abigail does not like walking in the snow, but she seems to like the cold weather.  She finally started laying better; so for now, she will not be "chicken & dumplings."

       Occasionally Abigail lays a very small egg???

Rabbits: This fall, two young rabbits escaped from a neighbors cage.  They said, "keep them if you want," so we decided to allow the rabbits to free range in the backyard with our chickens. Pinkerton and Mel (CarMel Blanc) have many places to hide and keep warm so I'm not too worried about them.  After researching on Google, I now know that other people allow their rabbits to free range. We will have to take care of a few things to prevent more bunnies from joining our family, but it is well worth it.  Watching rabbits hop and play in a natural setting makes me smile!

Winter Update: Pinkerton and Mel are still hopping around our backyard and probably sleeping in our barn-like shop. For the past several weeks it has been very cold in the Boise area.  In December, we had two good snow storms in the valley, and the snow still hasn't melted. It may be a long, long winter. So, I filled a heated bowl with water and put out rabbit food. However, I have observed the rabbits munching on the exposed wild grasses and dry leaves and not the store bought stuff.  I would have to say that Pinkerton and Mel are very smart little rabbits...they look healthy and happy!

Looks like Mel...
Happy New Year!!!
And God Bless,

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Winter in Idaho...

Winter Evening:  Sunset & Hawk

Cold winter days can seem endless...
Sometimes depressing...colorless...snow white and lifeless. But if I look beyond the snow covered fields and dark silhouettes, I often find "winter's colors, its music, and things that move."  In the midst of my seemingly motionless and snowy backyard, I can often experience what God has created: a little bit of His winter wonderland, a world that can only be seen if I really "look & listen." 

This is just a snippet of what I've seen and heard...

Sun rising...Clouds forming...snow skies peeking...rays of sunshine...snow  crystals sparkling...icicles dripping...brilliant sunsets.

Nuthatches & finches sharing the hanging feeders...mourning doves & flickers moving from tree to tree...squirrels scurrying across the snow, and then back up into the pines...a noble barn owl hunting in the nearby field...hawks flying overhead, and sometimes landing at the highest branch to see what's moving below...a red fox darting through the garden, looking for mice...horses grazing...dogs cats prowling.

Kids laughing...snowballs crunching.

And inside......the fireplace & hot cocoa...and a warm fire glowing!

Winter...a blessing, a treasure chest from God...
                                                                       "Job 38:22"

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Time to Think

You could say that this new chapter in my life is in the middle of "My Novel." I chose to retire from full-time education and teaching after more than 25 years. I'm excited about this new chapter, but my typical day is now very different for me, differences that I did not anticipate.  When I returned to college to complete my education, I had been a stay-at-home Mom raising our four children. I juggled my time between being an involved Mom, a serious student, and then while my children were still at home, a full-time elementary school teacher. I frequently experienced the guilt that grabs Moms everywhere when they "can't do it all." Our family adjusted and made sacrifices, but we all survived the changes.  

Writing this new chapter, I did not anticipate that I would have lots of "time to think."  Quiet think time was a luxury in the midst of the demands required of a mom of four children, and later a teacher of 25 or more students every school year. In addition to think time, I can actually create my own schedule.  Other than a few obligations, I can put off today what I can do tomorrow. I don't have to answer to anyone but my God and my husband.  I can play with my grandchildren; travel with my husband; walk my dogs; read a good book; try a new recipe; harvest our garden; and even make applesauce from our homegrown apples. Freedom, a gift to treasure!

However, at times I miss and long for those structured and very  busy days with my home family, and school family.

Don't get me wrong, I am enjoying the freedom of arranging my day. However, I'm ready to add some structure and commitments back into my schedule: more family & friend time, weekly bible study, volunteering, exercising more and eating less...and I'm writing again!  The busy hot summer is over; fall is finally here. A cold wind is blowing, and the pumpkins are ready to be picked.  Thanksgiving will have a whole new meaning this year....

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Almost a Perfect Weekend!

Psalm 113:3
From the rising of the sun unto the going down of the same the LORD's name is to be praised.

Did you ever wonder...How could a weekend be more perfect? Last Saturday and Sunday was one of those sky, warm mornings, afternoons in the 80's, birds singing, fruit trees blooming, and bees buzzing.  We put on our garden gloves and hurried out the door!

This is just a snippet of our lovely, and busy weekend: Jeffery (Papa) tilled our garden space...we're so ready for fresh veges; we planted Jenna's curly willow that had been in a pot for 3 years (leftover from Jen & Chris' wedding decor); we planted a small shade tree for Barley; we bought trees in memory of Abbie and Pepper (our loyal doggies that have passed); Charlie, our resident squirrel, tried stealing birdseed from the bird feeder while hanging upside down; Jaymi & Jeff brought over a plate of cinnamon and raisin cookies,  Ky and Papa had "alone-time" building a small wooden airplane; and our generous neighbor dropped off two dozen eggs from his range fed chickens.

Kyle's Plane

Perfect...all except for one minor incident.  Jeff and I decided to burn the branches that had piled up after pruning our fruit trees. The branches were dry, and so the fire took off hot & fast. At first the air was wind...and then out of nowhere several huge gusts of wind fueled the flames. Have you seen pictures of solar flares arching and jumping off the surface of the sun? Well, that's what it looked like! Big pieces of flames started jumping out of the burning branches, and over to a weeping willow that had just recently sent out new spring leaves. The willow is a few years old, and so it was just the right size to catch those "fireballs." Needless to say, half of the tree was green leaves remained on those weeping branches. My daughter, Jaymi, said, "It doesn't look that bad. It'll grow back."  Yes, I know, but the way those flames were jumping, we are thankful that the whole tree, and more didn't get torched!  We will move the burn pile.

It was an almost perfect weekend!

                        Always Blessings,

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Thorns & Roses

Thorns...sin...invasive weeds...natural disasters...strange weather...shaky economy...families breaking apart...sadness, loneliness and pain...effects of sin...cause of man's struggles... Roses...beautiful...confession... forgiveness...Perfection.

"If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all  unrighteousness."     1 John 1:9

For centuries, stories have been written about the ongoing battle between "good & evil," from fairy tales to classic literature.  In most fairy tales, the reader will quickly become familiar with the antagonist and the protagonist.  Stories will often begin with "once upon a time" and end with "they all lived happily ever after." The story of Sleeping Beauty, a well known fairy tale, is filled with metaphors that closely describe our world, and what happened after man sinned in the Garden of Eden.  One of the main characters in the fairy tale, Princess Aurora (also named Brier Rose,) fell into a deep sleep because of an evil spell.  Soon after she was put under the spell, darkness enveloped the King's castle and his Kingdom. Thorn covered vines grew wildly across the land, hiding the beauty that was once loved by all.  Prince Phillip, Brier Rose's first love, was the only one that could save the Princess and the Kingdom from the evil that had taken over. The story has a happy ending. The brave Prince risked his life and saved the Princess and the Kingdom.

Although there are stories with similar parallels to books in the Bible, The Greatest Story Ever Told is not a fairy tale. The Bible is the written word of God. The Old Testament describes the Savior that will come to save His people, and The New Testament describes the Savior's short life on this earth, and His Second Coming. Jesus is described as unique: He is God's Son and He is the son of man. 

It all begins in the Garden...

Adam and Eve were tempted, and ultimately disobeyed God in the Garden of Eden.  After "man" sinned, it is written in Genesis 3:23, that they were removed from the Garden. Life would not be easy outside of the garden; thorns grew throughout the land.  And although sin and death entered into the picture at that time, God continues to demonstrate His love and concern for His special creations every day.  Earth was designed for man; it is still our beautiful home...thorns and all!
God knew that thousands of years into the future, His Son and our Savior, would be born in Bethlehem, and be raised by His mother Mary and earthly father, Joseph.  After Jesus completed His ministry on earth, He willingly died on the cross over 2000 years ago because He loves us.  Jesus arose three days after His death and spoke to many of his followers. Through His death and resurrection, Jesus made it possible to remove the thorns and return life & light to the land, and to the people. Before Jesus left this earth, He promised to return to His beloved family, and restore our once perfect Earth.

"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." John 3:16

Among the "thorns" we can still see "roses"...the love and beauty that still abounds on our home...Earth. Yes, there will continue to be suffering and evil that can't always be explained until "all" is restored as it was.  While we wait upon the Lord, God still cares for His family and continues to pour out blessings on this little planet:  the sun rises and sets everyday;  our seasons arrive every year bringing the promise of life each spring; babies are born; children bless our lives with their innocence and laughter; families live together and create bonds of love; and the blessed land gives up grasses, flowers, and trees for the needs of man and the animal kingdom. If the Garden of Eden was perfect for man, and more beautiful than a lovely spring morning or the smile on a child's face, then we cannot even begin to comprehend what God created for us in the beginning...And what still awaits us when we return to Him. Roses will replace the thorns, and we will only know His love and light.

We should all be looking for that day when Jesus returns as King of Kings and Lord of Lords!                                                              
Click on this link, and you will be blessed:         

(c) Lin Silveira-Hess 4/15/12

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Backyard Memories

Basketball at the Cabin

Our "backyard" has become more than just a place for trees and grass to grow, or for birds to build nests.  It has become a place where precious memories have been made, and will continue to be made for many years to come. We share our thoughts and our dreams there. We wonder at God's creations, from Monarchs landing on a  butterfly bush to a little frog hiding in the lavender.  Family and friends have gathered there. The "snapshots in time," wacky videos, and pictures in my mind will never be erased. 

               Never Forget the...

                         Thoughtful Spot

                              Our Backyard Woods
                              The Christmas Tree that Lost its Needles
                              Bicycles on Christmas Morning
                              Redwood Trees & Rhododendrons

                          Flying Kites in the Meadow

                              Basketball, Soccer, & Horseshoe Games
                              Red Wagons and Sword Fights
                              Easter Sunday Suppers
                              Baskets Filled with Colored Eggs


                              Birthday Parties: One to 93
                              Graduations: Kindergarten, High School and College!!!
                              Weddings & Bouquets          
                              Music and Dancing to Our Favorite Songs


                              Ernie & Bob (Our Dads, Grandpas, & Great Grandpas)
                              Bandi, Pepper, Abbie, Niko, Money, and Oshka
                                            (Our sweet and loyal dogs)
                              Murphy, Gizzie, Shasha, Chessie and Rocky
                                            (Our precious kitties that made us laugh)
                                 Tears, Laughter...Healing


                              Hummingbirds & Honeybees
                              Roses and Mint
                              Gardens of Berries, Zucchinis, and Tomatoes
                              And Skunks...God's "Scents" of Humor
                                                                   by Lin Silveira-Hess



Sunday, March 25, 2012

Part I: The Spring Tree

Side Note:  If you have read my two previous blogs, you will begin to see a theme running through them. Yes, there will always be something written about my backyard, but the term "backyard" could also be a metaphor for God's Creations (His Backyard).  The blog could also be about my travels (the backyard of another location) or my personal views about recent events. There may be a link to a Bible verse, or I may refer to an issue that has become controversial or political, but this will not be a political blog. This blog is intended to provide some beautiful pictures of the world around us, some helpful hints, and occasionally some thought provoking ideas or questions.

THIS Backyard in Motion blog will be the first of four that I will write about trees. Part 1 will be about the spring tree, and as you may have guessed, the next blog will be about the summer tree.

Genesis 2:9 The Lord God made all kinds of trees grow from the soil, every tree that was pleasing to look at and good for food.  

Fruit Trees:
My husband and I are learning how to prune fruit trees.  We have trimmed a few fruit trees in the past, but we didn't know how to prune a mature fruit tree.  Our small orchard is mature and has been left unattended for a few years. So, we studied some books written by the professionals to learn the proper techniques of pruning.  I think we are getting the idea, but once a mature tree has grown out of control, the best way to prune is "drastically."  We pruned all of the trees, but the apple trees received the most drastic cuts.Our trees do look much better after some serious pruning, but we'll have to be patient and wait longer for the next good crop. It may take two years to produce fruit again, but eventually the trees will be healthier and reward us with beautiful apples.

The other fruit trees in our orchard did not need such drastic pruning, so we should get a good crop of pears, apricots, and Italian prunes.  A few days ago, the warm spring day encouraged the apricot flowers to bloom. Apricot flowers are light pink, delicate, and fragrant. They are lovely to behold, and very attractive to honey bees.  At first, a few bees will leave their hives in search of a good location for nectar and pollen, the sweet syrup and powdery "gold" that they need to produce honey.  Yesterday I noticed that the bees had found our trees. And then in just one day there was a tree full of bees buzzing about, and pollinating from flower to flower.

Pine Trees:
In our backyard there is a row of pine trees that has grown together to create what seems like one big tree. This pine grove has become a place for many birds to gather. They sing their songs, fly about and then land on the bird feeders to nibble on a few nuts and grains before they fly off again. When a gust of wind blows through the trees, the sound reminds me of  gentle ocean waves rolling up onto the sandy shore, or a mild breeze that blows through a dense redwood forest along the coast of California. This is now my home and I love Idaho, but the memories of California when I was a child and a young mother, will always be precious to me.

Blue Spruce:
Looking out of my front room window, I am blessed everyday with the activities that have graced my big spruce tree with busy critter life.  The dense evergreen provides shelter for many variety of birds: quail, doves, nuthatches, and finches  Now that it is spring, the little finches are often seen carrying twigs and grass to the spruce tree.  They land on a tip of a branch, and then disappear into the darkness of the tree.  The finches that have chosen this tree for their home, are busy creating an intricately woven nest to protect the new generation of finches. I usually see the quail in the morning, one-by-one hopping out of the tree to get ready to find food for the day. During the day, they can be seen scratching for food under the bird feeders or walking in the meadow of wild grasses near our home.  At dusk the quail return to the big spruce once again to roost for the evening.  The doves will sometimes sit on a branch, but generally they sit under the tree for shelter or if they sense danger. Our Big Blue Spruce is a tree teaming with life.

I am reminded every day that God provides food and shelter for the least of us.  How much more has he provided for my family and for me!

On this amazingly lovely and warm Sunday afternoon, the cacophony of sounds...alive and peaceful...remind me that the warmer days of  spring are here to stay.

God Bless,