Harvest Gold

Harvest Gold

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Light in Darkness

Last Monday, I was downloading photos from a weekend trip to Manhattan. While I waited, I opened up an email devotional from Guideposts. And there is was:

A Time to Think

Without faith, we are as stained glass windows in the dark.
I knew that my camera included photos of stained glass windows at the Manhattan First United Methodist Church. After a K-State football Saturday, we stayed in Manhattan to attend Grandparents' Day September 10 with Kinley and Brooke at Manhattan First UMC.
Kinley & Brooke got both sets of grandparents - bonus!
Before going to the Fellowship Hall after the service, I took photos of a huge stained glass window at the back of the sanctuary. Manhattan UMC was my home-away-from-church-home while a student at K-State, oh so many years ago. And that window has always been one of my favorites.
Earlier in the service, the grandparents had joined the children at the front for children's time. We got to sing several Sunday School songs, including "This Little Light of Mine."
While singing, I committed a faux pas. I was enthusiastically singing and didn't realize that their version differed from my childhood version and the one I'd taught to young worshipers at Stafford UMC when my kids were little.

It was kind of like that moment when you're saying The Lord's Prayer at a different church and forget that they may say "forgive us our debts" instead of "forgive us our trespasses." I was a little embarrassed, but the leader graciously gave me a smile, and I corrected it in the "Hide it under a bushel - no!" verse.

But as I've looked at those photos of the stained glass later in the week and thought about the devotional, I've looked at my "mistake" a little differently. Stained glass is created when glass is broken into smaller segments, then carefully pieced back together. The final result is a sum bigger than its parts.

And that can describe my life, too. Jesus takes all those broken pieces and puts them together. Then He wants to let his Light shine through me. Does He want us to hide that light under a bushel? No! as the children will gladly tell you.
After the church service, we accompanied the girls to their Sunday School rooms so we could see that part of their church life, too. As we stood in the foyer after delivering them to their classrooms, I snapped a photo of another stained glass window there. When I tried to find information about the history of the windows, I happened across a story on its origin. The window - which is called "The Link" - was "resurrected" when the building addition was completed just a few years ago. This old stained glass window had spent years in a coal bin from an earlier church that was on the site.

For years, the light didn't penetrate the glass. It was in parts and pieces and hidden away in a storage room. It didn't come back to life until hung in a sunny atrium and light shone through.

Across the foyer, there was a pile of cleaning buckets. They were ready to be loaded out and taken to the Great Plains UMC Conference Office. Our UMC Bishop, Ruben Saenz, had challenged Great Plains United Methodists to fill 5,000 buckets which would go to hurricane relief in Texas, Florida, Georgia and other areas impacted by storms.

I didn't count how many buckets were sitting in the foyer. I should have. But there were probably at least 20, and Jill says their church eventually contributed 75 or so. And while we were in Manhattan, our small three-point UMC charge in Stafford County was also collecting buckets and/or contributions of $65 which would fill one kit with cleaning supplies, gloves, clothesline, sponges and more.
The buckets from our 3-point charge were piled into Pastor Nate's vehicle for a trip to Wichita and then on to UMCOR.
Our little church collected 7 filled buckets and enough money to fill 23 more! Along with contributions from St. John and Antrim - the other churches in our three-point charge - there were a total of 9 buckets and enough money for 32 buckets.  

As of Friday, a total of 5,001 buckets had been collected by United Methodist churches - big and small - from across the states of Kansas and Nebraska. I don't think the monetary contributions are included in that count, but the money raised also will go to UMCOR - United Methodist Committee on Relief. In fact, UMCOR uses 100 percent of the donations it receives to help victims. Administrative costs are covered from other church resources. (Compare that to other relief organizations!)
Photo from Great Plains UMC Facebook page (I love that there's a "Let's Do This!" slogan on several of the buckets.
As I've thought about those relief efforts and remembered the stained glass window quote, I've also thought more about the other songs we sang during children's time. One was "Jesus Loves the Little Children." Another was "He's Got the Whole World in His Hands."

And I remembered another stained glass window photo I'd taken at the Youthville campus many years ago.
In this world that seems so divided and confrontational, it's good to be reminded of the things we can do when we work together ... and when we have the faith to let the Light shine through us. It might come in the form of a cleaning bucket.

A Time to Think

Without faith, we are as stained glass windows in the dark.
And if we forget, all we need to remember are little voices singing, "He's Got the Whole World In His Hands."

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Kansas State Fair After Hours

I'm not very good at math. (Let's not tell the Kansas Master Farm Homemakers, shall we? I'm currently serving as their treasurer, which begins the rotation through all the offices. I told them I'd be secretary three times if I didn't have to be treasurer, but they didn't go for it.)

Oh well, I may not be very good at math. But after Charlie Daniels told us that he was 5 years old in 1941, I eventually figured out he was 81 years old. (He revealed his age during his prelude to performing a song in tribute to our military, something he's found important since growing up during World War II.)
Charlie Daniels performed at the Kansas State Fair Tuesday night, and we Kansas Master Farmers and Homemakers had the chance to go to the concert.
He and his entire band are quite the instrumentalists. I may not have been singing every word to their songs. In fact, I'm not sure I recognized any of them except "The Devil Went Down to Georgia," though he did do a rendition of "How Great Thou Art." I could definitely sing along with that one after my growing-up years at Byers United Methodist Church, when it seemed we sang it every week while waiting for the preacher to arrive from his first service in Iuka.
But even if his "brand" of music isn't my usual go-to, I was thoroughly impressed with his musicianship and that of his band. He played fiddle and guitar. The band members' fingers flew over complicated riffs. I'm lucky if I can hit all the notes represented on a page of piano music.

It made me a little ashamed that I was feeling my age after a day of exploring the fairgrounds. And Randy and I are still trying to figure out who is going to tell Jill that we need a "time out" when we're at the fair with her family tomorrow.

Back when I worked for The Hutchinson News, I was there every single day. I was much younger then!

Afterwards, I snapped a couple of photos from the grandstand before we left for the night.
There's just something magical about the scene - even if you never set foot on a ride.
I think rides will be on the agenda on Friday. However, Kinley and Brooke will be doing the riding, though I wouldn't mind a trip on the State Fair Railroad or a view from above on the tram. I don't think we'll make it to dark again though. Time will tell.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

On the Sudan

August 16, 2017
The Central Kansas weather this summer hasn't quite been like the desert of the African Sudan.

We did miss the rain that made for this beautiful sky in the middle of August. Those storm clouds were to the east of us and didn't bring any rain to our farm.

We don't have the "Sudan" with a capital "S." But on The County Line, we do have sudan - with a small "s."(Now I sound like our favorite kindergartener.) In our case, it's a crop - not a desert.

After a small rain shower in mid-August, Randy planted some after-harvest sudan. 
Though we're not a desert, drought conditions this year haven't made for a particularly favorable growing environment. As of the September 5 Kansas Drought Monitor, we are in the moderate drought category.
Sudan is a fast-growing hybrid that goes from seed to feed source in approximately 60 days. But it still needs some rain to get it from seed to harvest. We got 1/2 inch of rain on it a week ago, which helped a little. Sudan can be grazed or it can be put up for hay. We'll likely do some of both.
It's higher in TDN - total digestible nutrients - than alfalfa. However, it is lower in protein. So it's a cheaper ration for maintaining weight in cows, but it's not desirable as a growing ration for feeder cattle.

By August 21 - less than a week after planting - the sudan was starting to emerge.
It looks bigger than it was at this close-up angle. But I did tell you that it's a fast grower!
My farmer is out standing in his field. (I can't resist the pun.)
Not quite a month later, the sudan is making some progress.
But the lack of rain is definitely showing.

While our sudan still has some growing to do, the guys did a custom job of swathing, raking and baling some sudan for a neighbor. He planted his sudan in June.

I missed the swathing and raking photos, but I did snap a few photos of baling on a meal delivery to the field.
They got 110 bales off that field. We hope ours will do as well. We shall see!

Thursday, September 7, 2017

So ... What Are You Doing?

"So ... what are you doing right now?"

Any farm wife knows that's code for "I'm about to change whatever you were doing right now!" Randy had gotten a phone call that we had a fence down and cattle out in the Ninnescah pasture. So we loaded up the 4-wheelers in the cattle trailer and headed south.
We pulled into the neighbor's pasture, intending to push the cattle back to the west and through the fence.
We saw lots of beautiful wildflowers, the blues and yellows hiding under a blanket of green grasses. We could see the tiny things ... but the cows and calves were playing hide and seek. And they were winning.
Once we got to the fence, we could see where they'd started their adventure. Evidently, recess was over, and they had already made their way back into our pasture.

While Randy went back to the pickup to get fencing supplies, I stood guard at the fence. It was an easy job, since the cows and their calves were nowhere nearby.
So I took pictures. Big surprise, right? The delicate blue dayflower was a vivid contrast to the barbed wire fence on the ground.
There were tiny yellow flowers.
And bigger sunflowers.
I had almost run over this little purple flower with my 4-wheeler. I didn't see another one like it as I wandered and waited. 
Randy returned and started making repairs, piecing the fence back together.
With the fence repairs made, we took off for the pickup.
It was one of those times when I was probably worth about what I was paid. But a willingness to drop everything to help has to be worth something, right?

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Behind the Scenes at a 3 Year Old Birthday Shoot

Behind the scenes at a 3 year old's birthday photo shoot:

Because said 3 year old is resisting photos, have her become the photographer. Help her take photos of her sister and two of her cousins with the rainbow backdrop designed to fulfill her own request for a "rainbow party."
Add 1-year-old cousin. The 3 year old discovers photography of small children is no easy task.
The 3 year old still resists the photographic process.
Add Mommy to the mix to try and appease 3 year old. It appears to be working.
Oh wait! Maybe not. That's a pretty sad face for a birthday girl.
Try adding older sister. We may not be centered among the "rainbow," but at least we're happy!
OK. Back to trying a solo shot. Wait ... is that a hint of a smile?
Yes! Yes, it is. 

The balloons are moving, but the girl is in focus. We'll take that as a victory!
The smile is getting a little cheesy. It must be time for the paparazzi to give it a rest ... at least until it's time for cake. 
Our Labor Day weekend included a birthday celebration for our youngest granddaughter, Brooke Jaylin Ladd. Three years ago, she arrived at 6:57 AM, Thursday, September 4. She weighed 7 pounds, 6 ounces, and was 20 inches long.

My, what a difference 3 years makes!
A colorful parachute added to the rainbow theme.
Yesterday, on her birthday, her Mommy described Brooke as "spunky, sweet, sassy and someone who pushes all boundaries."
And we love every bit of her!
Happy Birthday to our favorite 3 year old!
Her Mommy made her a rainbow cake.
Brooke added the candles.
She got a little shy about being the center of attention during the song.
She got a little bit close to the flame to suit parents and grandparents. (Kinley appeared ready to help her blow out the candles. The rest of us were ready to grab her away from the fire.)
She discovered all the beautiful and yummy rainbow layers inside. (Job well done, Mommy!)

We are blessed to have these little people (and a bunch of big people from both sides of the family) in our lives! There were parents, grandparents, great-grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins, all there to celebrate a special day. Here's to an amazing year, journeying toward Year 4!