Mailbox Irises

Mailbox Irises

Thursday, January 28, 2021

Kansas Day: Happy 160th Birthday!

  

She's looking pretty good for 160 years old.

 
 
Everybody knows you need to add a little color and sparkle to your outfit for a special celebration. And Kansas has one of those this Friday: She'll turn the big 1-6-0! 
 


Between 1541 and 1739, the first European explorers from Spain and France arrived in modern day Kansas looking for gold, trade and knowledge. The land was included as part of the Louisiana Purchase in 1803. After 51 years, Kansas became an official territory on May 30, 1854. Kansas was admitted as the 34th state of the Union on January 29, 1861. 

The explorers were likely disappointed they didn't find gold. But Russian immigrants brought gold of another kind to the Kansas Plains. In 1874, Russian Mennonites planted the first crops of Turkey Red Wheat. 
 
June 2020
Thanks to favorable weather conditions for this wheat variety, wheat became the "gold" of Kansas and even the nation, as the state quickly became the leading wheat producer in the U.S. Railroads and cattle, along with crops, became the "trade" for the fledgling state. It was not what Coronado was looking for as he came to the Plains looking for treasures, but my ancestors and Randy's saw these Plains in a different way.
 
Under the Homestead Act, any person 21 or older could choose 160 acres of land on which to farm and ranch. If the homesteader could live and farm on this land for five years, they could own it. Randy and I are the fifth generation in our families to live and work the Kansas plains. We credit those adventurous forefathers who dreamed big dreams under a big Kansas sky. 
 
January 2021

 Here in Central Kansas in January, we're five months away from those golden waves of grain. 

 
Currently, I'm feeling more like Laura Ingalls Wilder. The Little House on the Prairie books were childhood favorites. I remember one in which Pa had to tie a rope from the house to the barn to find his way back in a blizzard. 

It wasn't quite so dramatic for Randy and me on a late-night stroll earlier this week. We had a couple of inches of freshly-fallen snow. Randy found a new baby calf on his patrol of the heifer lot around 11 PM. He carried the baby to the calving shed, while I made my way from the nice, warm house to help him get the mother in with the baby.

Our "lantern" was a flashlight and the moon. A little while and a few tries later, mission accomplished! And I got to go back into a house powered by electricity and heated by a furnace, instead of needing to chop wood, carry it in the house and keep the fire stoked.

My Moore ancestors came to Kansas in 1876, 15 years after Kansas became a state. My Neelly ancestors were a little later, in 1898. I'm sure all of them would be amazed at the changes in Kansas, and especially, in farming. 

 
As we fed on Tuesday, I saw the ice shimmering off the trees in the shelterbelts and thought about the pioneers to this area. Settlers likely planted some of those trees as part of Timber Claims. 
 
After we fed yesterday, I asked Randy to drive over to the bridge over Peace Creek on the Zenith Road. And I thought about his ancestors coming to Stafford County. 
 
His family pioneers found the value of Peace Creek and Rattlesnake Creek for establishing their farms. And our cattle still benefit today.
 

Too often, we Kansans have an inferiority complex. We apologize and somehow buy into the outsiders' image that ours is a flyover state. We know that Oz was in technicolor while Kansas was boring black and white.

But people who believe that have never really opened their eyes ...

... to the beauty of sunrise ...
... and sunset ...
... and the color and variety in between.
 Even in the more sepia tones of wintertime in Kansas, there is beauty.

I'm thankful that both sides of my family saw beauty and opportunity here. (Click on the links to read more about how the Moores and the Neellys came to Kansas.) Randy, who is a fifth-generation farmer in his family, still owns a pasture that's been in his family more than 100 years.

If you're looking for a great pamphlet on Kansas for your grade school kids or grandkids (or even yourself), I found a one to download from the Kansas Secretary of State's office. Click here to view it. 

And if you want to celebrate with sunflower cookies, here's my tried-and-true sugar cookie recipe. A couple of years ago, I shared them with Kinley's first grade class, and I got to tell them about farming in our great state. 


Kansas Day celebrations will look different across elementary schools this year. But I'm glad to hear they are still celebrating.  

Happy Birthday, Kansas! 160 looks good on you!


Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Past, Present and Future: A Blogiversary

Let no one say the past is dead. 
The past is all around us and within.
Oodgeroo Noonucal, Aboriginal poet

This Aboriginal quote was on a section divider in Christina Baker Kline's novel, "The Exiles." I probably shouldn't admit it, but I didn't finish the book. I usually like Kline's books. Maybe I wasn't in the mood for that particular novel at that particular time.

But the quote struck a chord. I remembered it again as I contemplated my "blogiversary." On Sunday, I celebrated my 11th blog anniversary. I first clicked "publish" on Blogger on January 24, 2010. Today was my 1,971st blog post.  

This photo illustrated my first blog.

If I were doing this for the numbers, I'd have quit a long time ago. 

But for the past 11 years, Kim's County Line has helped me track our lives on a five-generation Central Kansas farm. Having this avenue to collect words and photos has helped me to connect with our  heritage and this life in a new way. 
 

 
It isn't just my story and Randy's. We stand on the shoulders of our ancestors who came to Kansas for the promise of land ownership and a desire to dream big and work hard on the Kansas plains.

 

 Yes, the Aboriginal poet had it right: The past is all around us. 
 
Every quarter since January 2010, I've printed a blog book, compiling my posts during that time. The books now fill one cabinet and overflow into others. If my kids aren't interested in keeping them someday, maybe a historical society will be.
This isn't even half of them.

Each quarter, I write another dedication, and I invariably struggle with something to say. (Looking at those piles of books, you wouldn't think so, but ...)
 
Here's the dedication from the first quarter of 2011:
I started Kim's County Line, in part, to tell the story of our farm. It's important WE tell the story of agriculture. The tagline on the blog says, "Camera Clicks and Commentary from a Kansas Farm Wife." I hope that it also serves as a record of a period of time and a snapshot of Kansas rural life.

From 2013:

... This is dedicated to my family - the ones I love and cherish now and ones down the road who I hope will discover something about us as they read our story.
From 2014:

... We are thankful for our ancestors who also farmed this land and look forward to continuing the legacy of faith, farm and family in the years to come.
 
I've approached telling our story like the reporter I am. I take notes. I ask more questions. I want my farmer's "farm speak" translated in a way that makes sense to me so I can share it with others.
Blogging has helped me pay attention. So often, we overlook the things that we see every day. It's like we're living life at 60 miles an hour, flying by familiar places and people, thinking we already know everything there is to know about these ordinary things that make up our lives and livelihoods.


Even the most mundane, everyday things can cause us to pause in wonder. It may be something as simple as puddles in the farm yard creating momentary ice art - here one hour and gone the next. The blog has given me the eyes to see how small, simple things are really the most important things of all. 

I got my latest blog book last week, the final one compiling my 2020 blog posts. Just those four books from 2020 are 2 1/4 inches thick if stacked together.

And, yes, I struggled to cram yet another volume into an already overflowing cabinet.
 
For now, I will continue to write. I'll continue to tell the stories. And I want to thank those of you who come along for the journey - whether it's every time I post or whether you just take an occasional jaunt down the County Line.

It's my blogiversary, but to celebrate, one person will get a gift from me ...
  • a selection of my photo notecards, or ...
 
  •  a copy of "Count on It! Adventures from a Kansas Farm" my rhyming, farm-themed counting book, ...
  • OR a revamped version of my farm alphabet book
To qualify, either comment about this blog post in the comment section of the blog or on my Facebook page, Kim Moore Fritzemeier. Or, if you have trouble with either of those avenues, you may email me at rkjbfarms@gmail.com. The winner will be chosen at random from the commenters. Enter your comment by January 31 for a chance to win.

Again, I thank you!

To read more about our farming heritage and ancestors, go to these links from my blog:

Thursday, January 21, 2021

Inauguration Day 2021

 

January 20 was Inauguration Day on The County Line, too.

We had our inaugural calf in The County Line Class of 2021.

My brother said we should name it Joe.

But it will have to be "Jo" instead. She's a bouncing baby girl.

We found out just how "bouncing" after Randy tagged it with the first tag for 2021: 100. As is our custom, the first number in the tag stands for the year in which the baby was born. So, 100 it is.

She was joined by a female "vice-president" of the class later in the day. 

 
 The "security" was heightened for this inauguration as well.


 

 

Though the "official" due date is January 28, it appears the maternity ward behind our house is open for business, and the population boom has begun. We had another baby overnight. It has avoided the paparazzi thus far, but that's not likely to last.


Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Through a Glass Dimly

 

After the Chiefs won their football game Sunday night, we drove to a pasture a couple of miles away to watch the sunset. It's a favorite location at dusk because of a windmill near the road. Who doesn't love a good windmill silhouette as a foreground for a beautiful sunset?

 

It was another gorgeous winter evening, and I did my usual take-too-many-photos-in-search-of-the-perfect-one routine.

But, as we were traveling back home, I took another glimpse of the scene through the passenger-side rearview mirror. It's cracked, so the view was definitely a different one than I'd been trying to capture as I looked westward and clicked both my regular camera and my phone's camera.


I had Randy stop so I could take a photo through the broken glass. A Bible verse flitted through my head, so I looked it up the next day. The King James Version of 1 Corinthians 13:12 says:

For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.

It's a familiar verse, but what does it really mean? I looked at the Amplified Bible translation ...

For now [in this time of imperfection] we see in a mirror dimly [a blurred reflection, a riddle, an enigma], but then [when the time of perfection comes we will see reality] face to face. Now I know in part [just in fragments], but then I will know fully, just as I have been fully known [by God].

... and the New Living Translation ...

Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely.

The rearview mirror view on a different evening in a different pickup from the driver's side

There's a presidential inauguration happening on Wednesday. Some of my friends are overjoyed. Others are mourning. And most are probably like me - tired of the fighting and the political maneuvering from both sides.

As I watch the news, I feel as though I'm seeing "through a glass dimly." I pray for people to find a clearer way - one without the agendas perpetuated by whatever media stream their "side" prefers.

I receive a daily devotional from the Great Plains conference of the United Methodist Church. Saturday's was by the Emporia State University campus minister Kurt Cooper. (Click here for his entire devotional.) In it, he talked about taking an intensive course called Theology, Civics and Civility while a student at Saint Paul School of Theology. The course challenged seminary students to ponder the intersections between the church, the political landscape and secular culture. 
 
 At the center of those discussions was what Christians know as The Golden Rule:

John 13:34-35

I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

Among the other texts they considered was written just after the turn of the 18th Century by a young colonist named George Washington. He's still fairly well known (tongue firmly inserted in cheek), despite being the 1st in a line of U.S. Presidents who will grow to add a 46th this week.

President Washington adopted what became known as the 110 Rules of Civility, principles he used throughout his life to guide his style of leadership and his life. These 110 hand-written rules heightened his successful Presidency and contributed to the shape of the Office of President. 

The theology students adopted their 25 best suggestions for following the Rules of Civility today:
  • Let others go first.
  • People have names: Use them.
  • Consider everyone’s point of view; all voices have something to contribute.
  • Avoid generalizations and blanket statements.
  • Debate should end when the meeting is over — keep conversation in the room.
  • Consider your responses before acting — practice prudence.
  • Be conscious of one’s surroundings so as not to impose on others.
  • Be proactive in hospitality.
  • Acts of lying, cheating, stealing, coveting are uncivil.
  • Speak the truth in kindness when expounding a grievance.
  • Use language that uplifts rather than language that degrades.
  • Listen carefully to the words of others before distracting yourself with your own response.
  • If you take initiative, take responsibility.
  • Be willing to laugh at yourself and smile often.
  • Let insults go unheeded — Never kick a SKUNK.
  • No finger pointing, regardless of what finger you use.
  • Endeavor to raise standards rather than lower them.
  • Share all you can without resentment.
  • Make sure everyone understands the rules and customs that will be followed.
  • Play well with others — everyone gets a turn.
  • Challenge uncivil behavior.
  • Respect God’s creation: All life depends on it.
  • Recognize your own self worth and the value of others; we are all Children of God.
  • Pursue Physical, Emotional and Spiritual health and Wholeness.

It's a pretty good list, don't you think? I figure I can do a better job of putting them to practice. I figure we all can.

You see, we all come from different places, with different experiences and that colors our actions and reactions. I was reminded of that again as I witnessed a winter sunrise this past week.

So I wouldn't miss the show, I didn't clear the frost from my windshield. When I first arrived at my sunrise tree, the view to the east was somewhat obscured.
I got the full picture - or so I thought - as I stepped out of the car and pointed my camera east. But then I saw the western sky.
It looked totally different, but it was just as beautiful. If I'd only looked in one direction, I'd have missed part of the show. 

Perhaps it's a reminder to stop and think. Will we be colored by the positive? Or will the negative win the day? It truly is a matter of perspective, isn't it? It's kind of like the parable of the six blind men with the elephant, who touch the beast in different places and come up with wildly different impressions because of what they "see."

Looking north at sunset, January 17, 2021

It seems to me that our world could benefit from a look at different perspectives. No matter which side of the political aisle my friends claim, I would suggest there's validity in listening to another's point of view ... whether it's politics, race or even whether someone plans to wear a mask in public or not.

And isn't that the case with life? We get so focused on what's in front of us that we forget to take a breath and look around.

Some of the most beautiful things are found on the other side. 
Maybe it's the other side of the argument.
Maybe it's the other side of that bad mood.
Maybe it's the other side of sunset. 

 The "other side" of the sunset, October 25, 2018
 
Take a breath. Look around. Enjoy the entire view. Get a different perspective. You just might find beauty there.

Maybe our world could heal - at least a little bit - if we all were passionately on the quest for new perspectives. Worth a try?


A Time to Think

Every day we live is a priceless gift of God,
loaded with possibilities to learn something new,
to gain fresh insights. –Dale Evans Rogers, singer

A Time to Act

Encourage me God, to see the value in what I have.

A Time to Pray

Dear God, lead me through today with new insights and new hope.

From Guideposts email devotional