It’s Random Acts of Kindness Day!

by Amy on February 17, 2016

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Recently, I have developed “a thing” for finding out and celebrating unusual holidays and celebrations. It started out a few years ago when I wanted to know what else was celebrated on my birthday, May 27th. I found a few sites that listed the more popular as well as unusual days worth noting and celebrating.

I have all the ones interesting to me marked down in my calendar. I especially like today’s Random Acts of Kindness Day. Last winter I wanted to boost my winter blahs and decided to do more old-fashioned letter writing and let the people who are important to me, know I am thinking of them. This activity has snowballed and I now have included people in my church and community, and people who have lost loved ones. I’ve also added to my letter writing by sending people needing hope or encouragement “God Rocks” marked with the Bible verse Psalm 18:2 on it (The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold). This summer after attending a cross-making retreat, I also started making crosses out of discarded, broken, or found items in nature and randomly sending them to people on my mind as well. It’s a form of prayer and you can learn about this awesome and therapeutic process from the book Making Crosses Ellen Morris Prewitt.

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I continually add new ones I’ve made and send out ones that call to me for someone in particular, or if someone comments on a particular cross, I give it to them. There’s a reason why a particular cross catches a person’s eye, and they should have it.

Another activity I enjoy besides letter writing is baking. Once this summer I baked a pan of cinnamon rolls and had my husband take them into our local parts store guy, who has always treated us with the best deal he could get us, best suggestions to try before buying a part, or helping us troubleshoot any mechanical problems we needed to bounce off someone. I included a note of gratitude letting this local business owner know how much we appreciate their customer service and business in town.

Doing random acts of kindness by doing something for someone else is an amazing way to feel good about myself. Sending a piece of mail out of the blue, usually a postcard, has become a fun way for me to demonstrate kindness and thoughtfulness towards others randomly. Anytime I think about someone, I send them a quick note on a postcard. It makes me feel awesome knowing I’ve surprised someone and hopefully made someone’s day!

So what’s your you’re preferred kindness to share with others? Be the reason someone smiles today!

 

 

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This column was originally published January 7, 2015

I don’t have much for hobby collections, but one thing I get into collecting is quotes, signs, and phrases. They inspire me, make me smile, laugh, and put life into perspective. I thought I’d share some of the ones I found and liked the most.

  • Live life like someone left the gate open.
  • On a dairy man’s T-shirt: “Come smell our dairy air”
  • What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. Except country girls. Country girls can kill you. Earl Dibbles, Jr.
  • Four words I never want to hear: I don’t love you. I found someone else. It was never real. We need to talk. I don’t remember you. Let’s just be friends. We can’t be together. There is no food. (thank farmers and ranchers for making sure this never happens!)
  • You aren’t wealthy until you have something money can’t buy. Granger Smith
  •  Sign: Keep gate closed. Don’t let the cows out no matter what they tell you.
  • The best classrooms smell like a barn. Support Agricultural Education.
  • There’s no Wi-Fi in the woods, but I promise you’ll find a better connection. Earl Dibbles, Jr.
  • Money can’t buy happiness, but it can buy cows, which is pretty much the same thing.
  • I hate it when I plan a conversation with someone in my head and they don’t follow the script. (Note: This is me. I always hash out my argument’s conversation I plan to have with my husband when I’m mad at him.)
  • We lose ourselves in the things we love. We find ourselves there too. Granger Smith
  • FARMER: a person outstanding in their field.
  • Sometimes bad decisions make for good stories. Granger Smith (I can’t express enough how true this is on a ranch).
  • Farm girls have nice calves.
  • Don’t mess with someone’s faith, family, or firearms. Earl Dibbles, Jr.
  • How to tell if a woman is mad at you: 1. She’s quiet, 2. She’s yelling, 3. She acts the same, 4. She acts different, 5. She murdered you. Earl Dibbles, Jr.
  • Teacher to students: “Ok children, what sounds did we hear on our trip to the farm yesterday?” Student #1: “Moooo!” Student #2: “Quack Quack!” Student #3: “BAAAAA,” Student #4: “Get off that #*@! tractor!”
  • A gun is like a woman. It’s all about how you hold her. Earl Dibbles, Jr.
  • Sign: Chasing cows will be our fate if you do not close this gate.
  • Déjà poo: the feeling you’ve heard this crap before.
  • Why do we need guns? Because it ain’t easy throwin’ a rock 1400 feet per second. Earl Dibbles, Jr.
  • If you don’t think fear can control you then you’ve never been chased by a mad momma cow.
  • FARMING: because starving sucks.
  • Sorry, I only date country boys. You better know how to bait a hook   bale a field.
  • Even if it’s too cold to roll the windows down I still like a backroad road to clear my head. Earl Dibbles Jr.
  • Sign: WARNING: This property is a farm. Farms have animals. Animals make funny sounds, smell bad, and have sex outdoors. Unless you can tolerate noise, odors, and outdoor sex, don’t buy property next to a farm.
  • (Photo of a cow in a pasture) I’m an expert in my field.
  • In dog beers I’ve only had one.
  • Scars are like tattoos with better stories. Granger Smith
  • (On the rear door of a livestock trailer) Caution: Floor covered with political promises.
  • Honk if you love Jesus. Text while driving if you want to meet him.
  • Of all the roads you travel in 2014, make sure most of ‘em are dirt. Earl Dibbles, Jr.
  • God gave us shin bones so we could find trailer hitches in the dark.
  • Life is tough. Be tougher. Granger Smith
  • On an inner tube rentals sign: RULES: You are not allowed to do ANYTHING that begins with the words… “Hey Ya’ll watch this!”
  • You can tell a lot about a girl by her hands. For example, if she’s holding a gun either run or marry her. Earl Dibbles, Jr.
  • Love is watching someone else’s boring show on TV.
  • Billboard sign: “This country needs a Department of Common Sense”
  • I’m sorry for what I said when I was hungry.
  • Is Google a boy or a girl? Obviously a girl because it won’t let you finish your sentence without suggesting other ideas. Zach Galifianakis

You can find more like these on my Pinterest pin boards “Rural Life/Agriculture,” “Good Quotes” and “Humor.”

 Copyright  © 2015 by Amy Kirk

 

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Matthew 6:32

by Amy on December 24, 2015

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This column was originally published June 18, 2014

Handling yearlings consists mostly of a using a technique known as “winging it” which is essentially carrying out a series of audibles. The problem I have with my Hubs calling an audible is that he calls them inside his head where nobody else can hear them.

For those of you who may be like I used to be and don’t know what the heck an “audible” is, it’s a term for calling a new tactic that’s usually a series of codes hollered among men. Audibles are normally affiliated with football, but they occur around here all the time. The only difference between the football version and the rancher version is that most of my husband’s audibles are carried out with hand gestures unless he and I are dealing with our yearlings.  With yearlings, plans fail so fast that there’s not enough time for him to confuse me with a hand gesture, so he’ll just run around while I stand there asking myself out loud, “What is he’s doing?”

Our last wreck happened over Memorial Day weekend—the weekend when LOTS of people visit the freshly groomed cemetery to pay respects to lost loved ones. We got a call about a yearling being out and when we found her, she was lollygagging in the cemetery that borders our yearling pasture.

I was lined out to hide behind a tree unless she came my way, and then try to turn her back towards the fence. Since yearlings don’t cotton to easy plans, she didn’t feel like jumping back through the low fence she’d found, so I had to come out of hiding and turn her back, but loping back and forth through the cemetery was more her style.

Let me just clear up your burning curiosity and say that there is NO WAY to delicately chase and cut off a yearling on a high lope around headstones.  Cow and I tangoed briefly before getting slowed down by too many headstones and she got by. More running, shin-meets-headstone dodging , and zigzagging ensued before my husband felt compelled to share his new audible with me: “STOP!” (Yay!) His next audible was encouraging the yearling to exit through the cemetery gates according to his actions.

After accomplishing phase one of dealing with a yearling that got out, the next audible was husband-and-jeep gunning it in high gear through the ditch to turn the cow toward the nearest opening leading back home—the dirt-filled autogate with cable stretched across. I took the initiative to lag behind on foot in case she got by the jeep. Right at the gate, the renters’ barking dogs nearly caused the next failed audible. The displeasure followed by a scolding to get the dogs back inside was quite audible—for half a mile away at least, but the cow went in.

For most ranchers, cursing is the go-to reaction when plan A fails to get a cow back in. The general rule is to try to work with them to get them in, but the minute a cow figures out she can outrun man or woman, every attempt gets harder and each plan change goes unannounced.

It’s when things go awry and I can hear a slew of bad words over a failed plan that I wish he would be inaudible.

© 2014 Amy Kirk

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Dirt Roads

by Amy on August 17, 2015

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Heaven Is For Real

by Amy on August 10, 2015

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A New Purpose For A Plain Old Rock

by Amy on August 8, 2015

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 Every ranch kid (and ranch wife) has picked his or her share of rocks out of a hayfield

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and I’m guessing most of those kids probably have no interest in picking up any rock for the fun of it, doing any rock hunting, or collecting rocks. We still drive past the rock piles where our kids had to dump the rocks they picked on summer days after a field was hayed.

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I consider them our kids’ pillars of character building.

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I’m not a rock hound but I’ve been known to pick up a rock now and then, while on an outdoor adventure. Not too long ago I learned about a new purpose for ordinary rocks from my dear friend Jane Green.

Jane Green

Jane is a farmwife, retired teacher and author/columnist who turns plain old rocks into what she calls “God Rocks.”

It all started one day while she was walking down the road near her farm. A couple of unusual rocks caught her eye and one looked like it had been cut into slices. Jane picked them up and hung onto them. For some reason she felt she needed to keep them so she washed them up when she got home and set them in her windowsill. Around the same time a couple of her friends were struggling with health issues and she didn’t know what she could do to help them. When she mentioned to her sister about her unusually smooth cut rock, her sister suggested writing a message on them. Jane knew right then what to do with the rocks she found and what to do for her friends. She wrote down her favorite Bible verse on the rocks and gave them to her friends needing support: Psalm 18:2.

“The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.”

(New International Version)

She has since given her rocks out to people needing encouragement or comfort. Not long after first meeting Jane, I received a “God Rock” from her in the mail, which sits on a shelf above my washing machine and dryer.

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It’s my daily reminder of always having a dear friend who cares about and supports me, and that the Lord will always be my rock; the foundation of my life. I have since copied Jane’s gesture when I don’t know what else to do for people I’m concerned about.

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I’ve kept a jar of neat-looking river rocks I found and kept from a family trip to Montana and now I give them out as “God Rocks” to people I feel need comfort and encouragement. I hope Jane’s story inspires you to look at ordinary rocks differently and pick one up. Use them as a wonderful, thoughtful gift that will remind someone how much you care about them and that the Lord can be their rock too.

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We Are The Tree

by Amy on August 3, 2015

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Ag Men and Their Tractors

by Amy on July 22, 2015

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This column was originally published February 5, 2014

Just the mention of the word “tractor” or anything tractor-related piques men’s interest into lengthy conversations. The kind of conversations that allow wives enough time to get their shopping done alone without being rushed.

Men-of-the-tractor are like Southerners and their college football; they’re serious about their machines and oftentimes proudly wear their tractor manufacturer’s colors. If farmers and ranchers aren’t in their tractor working, they’re maintenancing them, buying things for them, showing them off (if it’s one they restored), dragging their wives to dealerships just to look at them, telling stories about them, occasionally cursing them, or talking shop about them.

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What farm and ranch women don’t realize about the tractor dealerships they often get dragged to is that these businesses can serve as a very convenient and free playland for husbands on those consolidated husband-and-wife shopping trips when grocery store and department store shopping are necessary. Farm machinery dealerships are always happy to see tractor men and will give them lots of attention. Dealerships also carry parts and implements to keep tractor men occupied looking around and on special days, some dealerships will even feed husbands complimentary cookies and coffee. Ag men can wile away time waiting on their wives by looking at, trying out (aka playing with), talking about, and asking questions about tractors.

pulling the V rake with the 656 North of Pringle

Access to tractors, implements, and related merchandise curbs boredom and grumbling about wives’ lengthy shopping stops.  Such businesses are a great place for men to go who aren’t fond of crowds, shopping beyond five minutes, shopping-and-comparing, or having patience. A non-shopper or non-crowd man is much happier and content waiting on his wife if he’s got tractors he can look at or talk about. The conversations men have about tractors lead to talking about the tractor they’re restoring or currently own, tractor manufacturer comparisons, faults, and of course, men eventually discuss the tractors they remember using growing up that their fathers had.

Men who have been exposed to a tractor at any point in their life I consider to be connoisseurs. Tractor men seem to know everything about all tractors, with their M’s and A’s, H’s, and four-digit numbered tractors. And that’s not including the year of each make and model. Such conversations sound like baby gurgling noises to me, but having been exposed to numerous tractor conversations, I realize men-of-the-tractor speak the same language. One guy will nod in understanding or agreement then reply using the same alphabet and language.

What I’ve noticed about these fine pieces of machinery is that they were no doubt invented by men, for men because all tractor operating instructions are designed with men in mind. There are no words to describe how to operate these machines because all tractor companies clearly mark silhouettes of turtles and rabbits by the lever to indicate “slow” and “fast.” Manufacturers use these simple operating instructions because men prefer brevity and simplicity—which might explain why men don’t understand women as easily. The only reason instruction manuals are provided is because they are a last resort in problem solving issues. From what I’ve observed, ag men enjoy problem-solving and figuring things out for themselves and an operator’s manual is the last thing on their mind when breakdowns occur.

My knowledge of tractors includes the ones I know I can get to start and operate. It’s a good thing tractor companies don’t make operator manuals for women because my husband probably wouldn’t like seeing me take a sledgehammer to any of his tractors.

© Amy Kirk 2014

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Happiness

by Amy on July 20, 2015

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