This afternoon was filled with rainbows. I didn’t realize I should be counting them until it went on for hours but they were everywhere- complete rainbows, double rainbows, partial rainbows…
Over the pond
Over the Ben friend’s chicken houses
Over the mountain range behind our farm.
And about 10 more that went unpictured.
As I finished planting wheat and headed for the house, it suddenly hit me: God created rainbows to remind us that He keeps his promises. And that’s what he was doing today. I need reminders. So many beautiful promises:
“ I Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” Hebrews 13:5
For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their prayer, but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil. 1 Peter 3:12
Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you or forsake you. Deuteronomy 31:6
The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it. 1 Thessalonians 5:24
a long and eventful or adventurous journey or experience
So let me start by saying that A. October has not been long. (Halfway thru already?!) but B. It has been relatively eventful.
For the sake of time, I’ll probably skip right past the days spent in Lancaster County and the taste test between Shady Maple cream filled doughnuts and Sunnyside Pastries cream filled doughnuts. (Results: inconclusive, must do a repeat test pronto 😂)…
… to our well chaperoned date. The Ben friend and I loaded part of his nieces and nephew up in my big ol van and we drove cheerfully to Afton Mountain.
Hiking the Blue Ridge Tunnel has been on my bucket list for awhile and I was super excited that it suited part of his fam to join us.
This railway tunnel was constructed in the 1850s and used until 1944. In the beginning, it was the longest tunnel around. Over 4200 feet of history.
I thought since it was calling for rain on the day of our hike, that we’d have the place basically to ourselves. Wrong
I thought that since it was a pathway of crushed stones that the tunnel floor would be dry. Wrong
I thought that it was going to be so much fun to explore it with the children. Right. So right.
“Look at the CRAYFISH!!” Leave it to the boys to discover critters everywhere we go 😂 There was a pretty decent stream running along the side of the trail.
The roof leaked occasionally and added to the underground cavern type feel.
If you are one of the few people who weren’t visiting the tunnel last weekend, definitely take the chance to check it out.
Take a flashlight, and maybe some waterproof shoes, but prepare for a grand adventure
It’s a super easy hike, but truly unique.
And suddenly it’s hitting me. If I’m going to do another Lancaster-Co-Cream-Filled-Doughnut Taste Test, I’d better be dreaming up another hike or two . 😂
Blessings on whatever experiences October is bringing your way,
The idea came to me during Deb’s visit this summer. I threw it out to Em and she was on board. I threw it out to Jul and she was on board. I checked in with Nate’s sister-in-law who lives in Atmore, and they were on board. And so the waiting began.
We bought tickets to fly to Alabama to surprise, Deb, Nate, and Alexander for Baby A’s first birthday.
We held our breath as to whether or not we could pull this off. There are several over-talkative, unable-to-keep-a-secret links in our family chain 😬 myself being the main one.
Deb kept saying things like “I miss y’all” and “I wish I could see the twins again” and when she ended a conversation with Julia by saying “See you soon” we were on high alert. But still we moved forward.
I spent a far amount of time collecting items to entertain 2 lap babies for the duration of travel time- finger puppets, stickers, new books, sunglasses, magnetic men, and as many snacks as I could cram into my backpack.
The week of, Deb was up to her elbows in planning Alexander’s birthday party and we all teeheed at ourselves. “Those pig cake pops look so good I wish I could eat one, I love cake pops” “Be sure that Alexander checks the mailbox today, his surprise is out for delivery!”
So fast forward thru 2 flights, a 3 hour flight delay 😅, 2 wild Indians who missed naptime, were hopped up on sugar, and insisted on riding their suitcases for miles thru the vast airport prairie… We arrived at our destination with our entourage, including both snuggies and all 4 crocs. 😅
(Side note- God provided us with a beautiful little room called a Mother’s Nursery where we stayed for some time- it was such a relief to be able to let them rest in the quiet instead of trying to calm them in the midst of all the busyness. I’ve never traveled with children before-so I didn’t realize such a thing existed-but wow, it saved the day for us)
Kevin graciously picked us up and we beelined it for Deb’s house.
We grabbed boys and rolled in her door and it was perfect. She gasped and stared and we all cried, and thus continued our whirlwind visit. (Alexander and Nate did not react as amazingly as Deb, but I’m sure they were surprised too😂)
We spent our weekend juggling naps, shopping (it was so much fun to see one of Nate’s thrift stores) ordering take out, getting ready for the birthday party, and just enjoying being together.
Alexander loves pigs, so Deb did a great job at a pig birthday party.
Pigs in a blanket (made from Alabama’s special Conecuh Sausage, fresh green beans (straight from VA thanks Laura) cheeseball, veggies, fresh fruit, finger jello made with Grammy’s pig cookie cutter, and piggy cake pops.
And of course a smash cake that none of the rest of us wanted to touch after the birthday boy ran his hands thru all the icing.
Deb found a huge bag of balls at a thrift store and bought a small inflatable kiddie pool and Alexander’s birthday gift was a huge hit
How we all felt about being together ❤️
How big is Alexander? Soooo biiiig
In the spirit of fairness, I dusted off our Fisher Price collection and put together a story about Cousin Wade flying to visit the twins on the farm. The point of the entire story comes from Isaiah 41:10 “Don’t worry because I am with you. Don’t be afraid because I am your God. I will make you strong and help you!”
I hope those Words get written on your heart, little buddy ❤️
Celebrating you was a treasure for the Memory Chest.
The fact of the matter is-I just received 9 winning endings to my/Nate’s rabbit tale. I volleyed between laughing and waxing introspective as the entries arrived. I read them aloud to my mom and we were both delighted at the creative genius that these displayed. There is so much strong writing in these entries- good conversation, beautiful details, etc. I loved how often the plot twisted from what I assumed would be next. Thanks to all who entered-keep writing, friends, there are so many stories yet to be told.
Pretty sure I’m hungry for carrots today,
Favorite scenes from the Adult Entries:
…By June, Bobby’s plant had a beautiful green leafy top. Mr. Story’s was a little spindly. Bobby was pleased. By July, Bobby’s plant was taller than him. Mr. Story’s plant was tall but not very leafy. Bobby thought he had the contest in the bag. The night before the harvest day, he lay in bed with a smile on his face. When he got his picture in the paper, maybe Honey Bunny, a pretty brown haired rabbit, would agree to go on a date with him. He closed his eyes and fell asleep, dreaming of sharing a large slice of carrot cake from Lady Annie’s Sweet Shoppe with Honey Bunny. 😉 The next day, he fairly leaped out of bed. He went to his closet and grabbed his best bow tie. He washed up and combed his fur till he looked quite dapper. He skipped to Mr. Story’s garden, whistling a tune as he went. When he got there, a crowd was waiting outside the fence. The newspaper reporter and photographer were setting up their equipment. Bobby’s eyes were wide as he took it all in. At 10 am, the crowd was buzzing with excitement. Bobby stood beside his plant, beaming. Mr. Story stood beside his plant and the photographer snapped a photo or two. Mr. Story cleared his throat and the crowd became silent. “As you all know, Mr. Carington and I decided to do a little carrot growing competition. Count down from 10 and we will pull our carrots,” he directed the crowd. Bobby wrapped his paws around his leafy plant and Mr. Story did the same with his plant. The crowd counted down. “….eight, seven…..three, two, one!” The two rabbits yanked at their plants as the crowd cheered. Suddenly, there was a collective gasp. Bobby looked at his carrot. It was a bigger than average carrot. He looked over at Mr. Story’s and his jaw dropped. Mr. Story’s carrot was huge! “How?! But, I… There’s no way!” Bobby sputtered. The reporter rushed to Mr. Story with questions while the photographer snapped pictures. Everyone wanted to know how he had grown such a large carrot. Bobby stood off by himself, holding his carrot. He was disappointed…. -Annie G
…Out popped a little and skinny carrot. It was only a quarter size of Wilberts and looked so pathetic compared to his! Bobby felt tears welling up in his eyes, and his throat choked up. He didn’t dare look at Mr. Story! Mr. Story gently laid his paw on his shoulder, and softly said, “It’s OK, Bobby, this was just for fun. But I do believe there is a lesson we can learn from this carrots. They are a lot like us. No matter how good, beautiful, and polished we look on the outside, what really matters is how we look on the inside. 1 Samuel 16:7 says, “For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” Bobby, it didn’t matter how lush green and beautiful your carrot looked on the outside, what mattered most was how the fruit looked on the inside. And so that is with us.” Bobby didn’t run quickly home that day, instead he hopped along slowly and humbly. The little carrot in his hand had taught him a life long lesson, and he was furever changed after that day. Mr. Story had done more than planting seeds in his garden that year. He had sown seeds in Bobby’s life and had seen God grow and blossom Bobby from being mean and arrogant to being meek and kind. He had planted…but God has given the increase. 1 Corinthians 3:6. -Laura Z
….Wilbert nodded. “I’ve known you for a long time, Bobby Carington, and I’m just going to be quite honest and say that all these years, I’ve known you—although I’ve never really known you that well—you seemed to be a rabbit with a mean side. You liked to prove that you were the best and that you had all the answers. I’ve seen you picking on your siblings in quite a disgraceful manner. To me, you approached the world with a know-it-all, I-don’t-care attitude.” By this time, Bobby’s ears were drooping so low they almost reached his knees. He had lowered his eyes to the ground, and his furry cheeks had turned noticeably red. “But these last several weeks, I learned I can’t judge a ‘carrot’ by its ‘top’,” Wilbert went on. “I saw a side of you that I never have before. I saw you get excited over your plant and treat it with the greatest of care. I saw you get excited about your school work and learning. And then today, simply admitting you were wrong was something I never expected you to do. When I dug a little deeper into trying to be your friend, I found a ripe, healthy carrot underneath; unlike the top I had seen.” Wilbert smiled at Bobby’s apparent discomfort of being talked about. Wilbert went on. “When we rabbits go to eat our carrots, we normally cut off the leaves and throw them away if they’re bad. We use our knives and cut out any bad spots. I encourage you to cut off your ugly ‘top’ and let the rest of the world see your bright orange, healthy ‘carrot’ underneath that I have had the privilege to uncover. Does that sound like a deal?” Wilbert’s eyes twinkled. For the first time in several minutes, Bobby lifted his eyes to look at Wilbert. He still looked a little uncomfortable, but the red had gone out of his cheeks, and his ears had perked up several inches. “Yes, Mr. Wilbert. It does,” he said resolutely. “And whenever I’m tempted to go out behind the house in the slop to search for my carrot top, I’ll remember this contest.” Wilbert’s old, wrinkled face creased into a smile. “I’m proud of you, Bobby. I love digging up a harvest of carrots, but there nothing as satisfying as unearthing carrots like this!” He looked down at the two carrots in his paws. “Now Bobby, here’s your carrot that you most certainly earned. You take this one home and use it to make a delicious stew. This one,” he looked down at his own carrot in the other paw, “I want you to take home as well. Keep it in a safe place to remember this lesson you’ve learned.” He patted Bobby on the shoulder…. -Sonia H
Favorite scenes from the Youth’s Entries:
…Look at my carrot, he thought, so tall and strong compared to Wilbert’s short scraggly one. Wilbert hopped out of his house, shovel in hand. “Lets dig them up,” said Wilbert. “Alright,” replied Bobby, “but I want to dig up my carrot myself.” “Fine with me,” said Wilbert, “you first. “Alright,” sneered Bobby, “be prepared to lose”. Wilbert just smiled as Bobby dug up his carrot. “What?” He shouts, “it’s puny. How is this possible? I took care of it perfectly!” “Well, YOU probably won’t have a carrot, Wilbert,” said Bobby. Wilbert just smiled and started digging up his carrot. Finally he pulled it out. “What?” Bobby exclaimed, “your carrot is as tall as you!” “How is that possible?” “Pride goes before the fall,” Wilbert said, “you were so prideful, and full of yourself you never considered the possibility you could be wrong about farming.” “Well, I hope you’ve learned your lesson and you’ll listen to people when they try to teach you” said Wilbert. “I will,” said Bobby, “and I’ll start now by saying sorry to you for being rude.” After that lesson, Bobby became a Christian, and started being a role model to all the little rabbits at school. -Jazara Z
…“Okay, let’s see. Mine is, umm, twenty-six and one-eighth inches tall. Hmm, yours is nine and seven- eighths inches tall.” “Wow! Very different. Come on, let’s harvest our carrots.” Mr. Story said. “Ready? Okay. Who do you want to go first?” “You can,” Bobby replied. “I can’t wait to see my giant though!” “Okay,” Mr. Story answered. He pulled his carrot top as hard as he could, but it wouldn’t budge! “Don’t be silly , Mr. Story! Pull up that ole carrot!” Bobby exclaimed. “It won’t budge Bobby!” Mr. Story exclaimed. “Try it!” “Ha!” Bobby thought to himself, “he’s just weak.” Bobby pulled, but the carrot didn’t move. It was stuck! Mr. Story trudged to his shed and got out his shovel. Together Bobby and Mr. Story dug it up. The carrot was huge! “Well if Mr. Story’s carrot is that big with a little top, my carrot will be almost threee times as big!” Bobby smiled. Bobby gave his carrot a tug and up it popped. “What?!” Bobby gasped. “It’s so little!” “Yeah, I guess I won Bobby! Mr. Story replied. “I guess I’m going home”, Bobby said sarcastically. “Bye.” “Bye Bobby, have a great day.” Mr. Story skipped joyfully to he shed, got his wheelbarrow, and loaded his carrot up. Then he took it to his cellar, as happy as ever. So the moral of this story is: Never judge someone by there outward appearance. You never know what is on the inside. Also don’t be like Bobby, and think you are better than anyone else, because you aren’t. -Heather H
…Bobby scampered down the road. He tried to think of a way he could win. Suddenly, a wicked plan came to mind- one week before the 22nd, he would go to town and buy a gallon of Killer, a spray that killed anything, including carrots! He then would sneak out after dark and drain the whole gallon on Wilbert’s carrot!! Finally it was one week before the 22nd, the day they would pull up their carrots and find the winner. ( hopefully HIM if his plan would work!) Thursday, July15 was a wet, rainy, and chilly day, only the beginning of the rainy season. Bobby was confined in the house and rather bored. He slipped outside and out onto the road. Bobby had enough money for the spray and slipped it into his pocket. He couldn’t see very well because of the heavy curtains of pounding rain. Bobby tripped and stumbled into the direction he thought was town, but instead towards Mr. Story’s place. He was going on the wrong side of the road and didn’t see or hear the wagon until it was almost on top of him! Bobby tried to get out of the way, but was too late. The wagon caught his hind foot and crushed it. He screamed and then everything went black. Bobby felt himself falling and then somebody was calling his name. He moaned and then fell into a deep, deep sleep. Wilbert was enjoying a bowl of hearty carrot soup when all of a sudden, a scream came right outside his cottage! He jumped up and ran outside to see what was the matter. He saw a toppled form in the middle of the road. Wilbert could barely believe what he saw: It was Bobby with a mangled right foot! He was moaning something about Killer. Mr. Story picked up Bobby and ran to the Carington’s since Bobby’s mother was a retired nurse. He then quickly told Mr. Carington what had happen before leaving to go get the doctor. The doctor came, set the mangled foot in a cast, and gave Bobby some pain killer. When Bobby woke up, the doctor had left, but Wilbert was still there. “Where am I and why does my foot hurt so badly?” asked Bobby. “You were in an accident with a wagon.” replied Mrs. Carington. “If it hadn’t been for Wilbert, you would still be out there. “Wilbert? I needed Kil-” Bobby tried to say, but sleep overtook him first. He slept until the next morning and when he awoke, Wilbert was standing next to his bed. “Good-morning, I came here to tell you that I’ll take care of your carrot until you feel like you can.” “Thank you very much” said Bobby “Hurry up and get better so we pull those carrots” teased Wilbert as he walked out the door…- Deborah M
…On the 9th day, when Wilbert went out to tend his garden, he saw a green sprig out yonder. He ran as fast as his old legs could carry him. “What a beauty!” he exclaimed. He saw Bobby whistling up the lane. “Well stuff me with feathers and call me a chicken” Bobby said when he saw the carrot sprouts “I aint done no tendin’ to mine and it looks better than yours” he sneered “Well that proves it’s self true, I don’t have to touch mine at all. Have fun breakin’ your back over a silly ole carrot. No point in tryin’, I’m already winning and I’m going to win. So there.” he said to himself as he trotted off… -Brenna C
Two winners actually, because we divided the entries between the adults and the youth. Honestly every single entry was.so.good! But since I wasn’t sure it was a great plan to post all of them-I’ll just share the Judge’s favorites tonight. Bless my cousin, Juanita. I printed them all off and numbered them so she didn’t know who’s was who’s and she helped me establish the winning pieces. It was a tough call (I’ll share my favorite excepts from each one tomorrow and you’ll see what I mean) but tonight for your reading pleasure I present (drumroll please) the rest of the story:
Youth winner: Amber Knicely
The days passed quickly. Mr.Story took good care of his carrot and watered it every day. Bobby on the other hand stopped by occasionally to throw a little water on his young carrot. Bobby made sure that everyone knew he was going to win. Finally, July 22 arrived. It was a big day for everybody in Cottontail Cove. They all wanted to watch the carrot pulling event. Bobby had even went as far as to put a sign in front of his carrot that read “The winning one!” At last Mr. Story walked out of his house where everyone waited breathlessly. “Wow,” he said. ”It’s a bigger crowd than I expected.” Bobby said, “Let’s just get this thing done. It’s obvious who is going to win.” “Very well then.” Mr. Story replied. He grabbed his small green top. Bobby did the same to his big leafy dark green top. “3…2…1… GO!!!”somebody in the crowd yelled. Both rabbits pulled as hard as they could. Bobby’s carrot cleanly popped out of the ground. But Mr. Story was having some trouble. “I just can’t seem to pull it out,” he groaned. ”Is Mr. Thumper in the crowd?” (You see Mr. Thumper was the neighborhood strongman.) “He’s right here!” someone shouted. Mr. Thumper stepped out of the crowd. He grabbed the small carrot top and gave a mighty heave. The dirt started moving. Then the largest carrot the town had ever seen came slowly out of the ground. “Wow! That’s a nice one,” Mr. Story said. Bobby’s mouth dropped open. He stammered, “H-h-how did you do it?” Mr. Story answered, “I took care of mine and did my best. You, on the other hand, were careless and too self-confident.” The whole town burst into applause. The next day everyone in Cottontail Cove gathered at their village meeting place. They all sat down at a long table. The old rabbits sat at one end of the table and the younger rabbits at the other end. Mr. Thumper and Mr. Story cut the carrot up. They gave the little green tops to the older rabbits who couldn’t chew properly anymore. The bright orange carrot part went to the younger rabbits. Everybody said it was the best carrot they had ever eaten.
Adult winner: Abigail Risser
With that, Bobby turned and started home. As he had finished hoeing the weeds on the last row of his garden, Mr. Story too put away his hoe and went into the house. He would eat some lunch before going back out to plant carrots.
Bobby figured that he would go buy some carrot seed and come back later in the evening to plant. He headed up the dirt road to Mr. Ellison’s farm supply store.
Approaching, he saw the familiar sights of wheelbarrows and rakes and hoes on display; and mounds of cabbages, lettuces, and other produce in wooden carts. As he entered, he said “Howdy,” to the owner, Mr. Ellison, and walked to the wire racks filled with seeds. Since he had never gardened before and didn’t know the first thing about buying seeds, he picked up the first little package that said “carrot seed,” and walked to the counter.
He waited as Mr. Ellison tallied up a rake, watering can, and green bean seed for the customer before him and waved him out the door. Then he stepped forward as Mr. Ellison said, “So you’re planting garden this year, Bobby? Didn’t know your folks had ground for that.”
“Oh, I’m not planting a garden,” replied Bobby. “Just buying this carrot seed. Old Mr. Story over yonder got me into this contest. He’s giving me a little spot in his garden and we’re each planting a carrot and taking care of it however we want. After two and a half months then we’ll pull them up and see whose is biggest and best. It’ll be mine, of course.”
Mr. Ellison let out a low whistle. “And so how do you plan to take care of those carrots?”
“Oh I say just pull a few weeds, throw around some water, and let Mother Nature do her thing! You wouldn’t believe how much time that old codger spends in his garden doing who-knows-what!”
Mr. Ellison looked wise and thoughtful, and Bobby felt a little uncomfortable. “Well, I can’t wait to see what comes of this contest,” remarked Mr. Ellison cheerfully as Bobby took his seeds and headed for the door. He smiled to himself as if he were thoroughly amused and Bobby called back, “oh don’t worry, I’ll be the winner,” as he swaggered out the door.
So it was that Mr. Ellison told Miss Daphne at the post office, and Miss Daphne told the mail carrier, and soon the whole town knew about the contest between Mr. Story and Mr. Carrington.
That evening, Bobby walked over to Mr. Story’s garden to plant his seed. He decided he had better plant more than just one seed in case it didn’t come up, so he made a row and opened up his seed package. The seeds where tiny and since he didn’t know exactly how to plant carrots, anyway, he just sprinkled all the seeds in the package generously all over the row, shoved some dirt over, and stuffed the package in his pocket.
Just then Wilbert came out of his house with a hoe and watering can. “Hey there, Bobby,” he called.
Bobby grinned as Mr. Story approached. “Got em all planted,” he announced. “I’ll be back in a week or so to see how they’re doing. You’ll get to see first-hand how real gardening works,” he bragged.
“I really can’t wait, either, Bobby,” said Wilbert, smiling just like Mr. Ellison had in the store. “Well, I had better fertilize my cabbages and weed my lettuces, so I hope you enjoy the rest of your evening.”
Bobby laughed and walked up the road to his house, confident in his believed victory of the contest. He was sure he would grow the biggest, longest, crunchiest carrots that ever existed.
Wilbert, too, planted his carrots that evening, carefully making a straight row and sprinkling the seeds evenly. Then he watered them well and tamped down the soil.
During the next week Bobby stayed busy. He had a baseball game one evening and homework the other evenings. A few other days were rainy so he couldn’t do much then. But he found that he was terribly curious to know how his carrot seeds were making out. Often he found himself wishing he could go check up on the progress but he figured he would look ridiculous to be over at Mr. Story’s garden so often when that was the very thing he had told Mr. Story was so unnecessary. He hadn’t realized when you put a lot of time and energy into a project or anything else, you will naturally be interested in its wellbeing.
Wilbert stayed busy that week too. He hoed and raked and watered every day and his garden looked magnificent; all except for Bobby’s corner, which wasn’t being kept up, of course.
To avoid all suspicion, Bobby tried to act nonchalant about his contest in general and his carrots in particular. When his friend Will Roberts asked how his carrots were coming along, he replied carelessly, “Oh, I don’t know. I’m sure they’re fine,” to reassure himself.
But one afternoon at 4:30 he hurried over to Mr. Story’s garden to check on his carrots. He walked to his part of the garden and looked at his row. He was surprised at how quicklythe rain that week had made the weeds grow on his part of the garden. He had to look pretty hard, but in between the weeds, he could see tiny green carrot plants beginning to grow.
“Well,” thought Bobby, “I’m going to have to pull these little weeds or they’ll choke my carrots.” So he set to work, intending to get only the biggest weeds and skip the rest.
Looking up from his work sometime later, he saw Mr. Story walking to the garden carrying a hoe. “Hello there, Bobby,” he called. “its 5:30 now and I just finished my dinner. Thought I’d come out here and spend the evening in the garden.”
“5:30!” yelped Bobby. “I haven’t spent that much time out here!”
“Oh that’s alright,” said Mr. Story, smiling again in that way that made Bobby squirm. “That rain sure made the weeds grow, didn’t it?”
Bobby mumbled something under his breath and stood up, brushing the dirt from his knees. “Well, at any rate, these dumb weeds sure take forever to pull. I guess I’m going to head home now,” and he turned and sauntered off down the road.
Bobby felt embarrassed and upset that he had spent that much time when he’d expected it to take only five minutes. “Maybe there are some things about gardening I actually don’t know,” he thought to himself. “But at any rate, I’m not letting old Mr. Story win this thing!”
As for Mr. Story, he had been enjoyed himself thoroughly that evening as he ate his dinner and watched Bobby out pulling weeds. “I think that old chap is coming to some realizations,” he thought, as he thinned his carrots. “This is really good for him.”
Slowly the summer days passed. The carrots grew, and the weather turned warmer. Just looking at the feathery green tops, Wilbert couldn’t say that his carrots were bigger and Bobby couldn’t honestly say that his carrots were bigger. The garden was at its best and both rows of carrots were of equal lush proportions.
Bobby, of course would not condescend to work in his garden plot more than once a week, if that, and with it being so boiling hot (according to him), who would be so crazy as to work in a garden as often as Wilbert?
It was toward the end of July, one week before carrot-pulling day, that the sky clouded over and it began to rain. Angry winds whipped around the Carrington’s house and around Wilbert’s garden and through Mr. Ellison’s produce. Bobby peered anxiously through the streaming windows of his house and hoped his carrots were making it.
“This rain had better let up soon,” he thought, biting his claws uneasily. “This is the second day it’s been raining like this.”
Wilbert too, was a bit concerned about a flooded garden, but summer storms weren’t uncommon. “Although this is getting to be quite drawn-out,” he thought.
The storm raged for three days, leaving five and a quarter inches of rain and a distraught Bobby who had almost gnawed his claws to nothing. By then there were four days left until the Great Day of Revelation so Wilbert waited for the garden to dry up a little and then he was back at it with his rake and hoe.
The rain had created little rivulets and tunnels around his carrots and washed away some of the soil, but Mr. Story packed some more soil around the plants and hoed around them.
When Bobby came that evening, he stood and stared for a full five minutes. The weeds had grown beyond belief; he could hardly see his carrot plants among all those tall weeds. And one or two of the plants had their tops ripped off. Just likes Mr. Story’s, there were little rivulets and tunnels around his carrots and soil that had washed away.
Bobby set to work pulling the biggest weeds and pushing dirt around the carrots. That was Tuesday.
On Wednesday the sun shone away all the clouds and Bobby planned to go over again after school, because he hadn’t finished up his work the night before. His friends would understand that he had to be there oftener because the Big Day was coming up.
On Thursday Bobby began to feel some misgivings as well as butterflies about this whole contest situation and hoped that whatever happened, at least he would get carrots out of the deal.
On Friday, Bobby woke up early and got around for school. He and Mr. Story had decided to meet at Mr. Story’s garden at 4:15. The contest would commence shortly thereafter.
That wasn’t the best day of school that Bobby ever had, “but,”he bragged to his friends, my carrots will be the longest and orange-est, you’ll see;” and made other such remarks about how little time he had had to spend to create such carrots, etc.
All his friends were coming over to watch the fun, so after school a whole group of rabbits headed down the dirt road to Mr. Story’s beautiful garden.
Wilbert was already in it, with his trusty rake and hoe. Bobby wondered sarcastically if Mr. Story ever took them shopping, by accident. But it was 4:15 and Mr. Story straightened up and waved to the group approaching. “Hello there, everyone! Come to watch this little contest we have going here, huh?” he said to Bobby’s friends. The friends grinned and nodded and said they sure weren’t going to miss this for anything, even a baseball game.
“Well then, Bobby,” said Mr. Story, “I guess we’d better get started. I thought that what we’ll do is each of us will find our biggest carrot plant, pull it up, and hold it out for everyone to see. It’s handy that your friends came along; we’ll appoint one of them to be judge. Then we’ll pull the rest of our carrots up and lay them out to be judged as well. Sound good to you?”
“Fine with me,” replied Bobby.
“Alright then, who should be the judge?”
“I think my friend Will Roberts here will do fine. Will, come on over here so you can see my big carrots,” said Bobby.
Will stepped on over and Bobby and Wilbert searched for their biggest carrots. “I got mine!” exclaimed Bobby.
“And I found mine,” said Mr. Story.
Both of them dug the dirt out a little way around their carrot and then pulled. “Here it is!” yelled Bobby excitedly as he and Mr. Story held their carrot high for everyone to see.
Everyone looked, then stared. Bobby too stared with astonishment at his carrot. For instead of being long and orange, it was little and round, hardly two inches long, the size of a radish. No one said anything for a minute, and then suddenly Bobby’s friends were rolling with laughter. They hooted and hollered and rolled on the ground laughing. Bobby just kept on staring at his dream carrot that looked like a little Saturn. “What on earth?!” he finally managed at last.
Mr. Story came over for a better look. “That’s not quite what you were expecting, was it?” he asked, smiling amusedly but notunkindly. “They look to me like Parisian Ball carrots. That kind only grows to about the size of radishes. They still taste like carrots though,” he added reassuringly.
Bobby looked at Mr. Story’s own carrot. It was the picturesque vegetable: long, straight, and orange.
“Should we pull up the rest now?” asked Mr. Story. Bobby shrugged and nodded. Will Roberts walked over, still wiping his eyes and trying to talk five words at a time without going into another fit of laughter.
“My oh my, my friend,” he wheezed. “That was the best contest and the best practical joke I saw in my life! I’m afraid Mr. Story got you on that one!”
“You don’t have to tell me,” muttered Bobby crossly.
“Oh, c’mon, Bob. You have to admit this is hilarious. Be a good sport!” and Will doubled over with laughter again at the sight of Bobby’s tiny round carrot. Bobby managed a wry smile and walked over to pull up the rest of his row.
Because he hadn’t thinned them like he should have, the small, Parisian Ball carrots were even smaller in some places. When he had them all laid out beside the row, Bobby walked over to look at Mr. Story’s. “I’m sure yours are perfect,” he said bitterly, looking at the row of carrots.
“Actually, a few of mine are wormy,” said Mr. Story as he finished pulling the last few carrots. “Some years the crop will turn out beautifully, but I expect with all the rain we got recently that that’s the reason some of mine are wormy. In gardening, you win some and you lose some. Still happy for what I got though,” he finished cheerfully.
Bobby was doing some serious thinking about his know-it-all attitude and the lesson he could learn from growing these carrots, and how it could affect other things as well. “Well, I sure learned my lesson today,” he thought looking at his little orange carrots.
The other rabbits recovered sufficiently to come over and inspect Bobby’s and Mr. Story’s carrots. “Attention all,” shouted Will Roberts. “As Judge, I will now announce the winner. This has been a very close competition between small, healthy carrots grown with the least amount of care, and large, more practical carrots-though with a few worms- with the most amount of care. I hereby give Mr. Carrington second place and Mr. Story first place in this carrot-growing contest.”
The friends cheered, and Mr. Story and Mr. Carrington shook hands like old friends amid the laughter and applause.
Usually I think I know my family pretty well, but occasionally they’ll show up with a complete new set of skills and totally amaze me.
Apparently Nathan is a writer. Back in his school teaching days he got inspired by a bulletin board and sat down a started an incredible tale.
The only problem is that the ending of the tale remains untold.
So with his permission I’m hosting a writing contest:
Finish the story.
There will be participation prizes as well as a grand prize.
Depending on how many endings I get- I’ll post a few of them here. (So by entering you’re agreeing to me sharing your work)
Please email your entries to email@example.com by Sept 25
And now I present :
Don’t Judge a Carrot by its Top Wilbert Story who was in his garden working on this beautiful May morning straightened up and wiped his forehead with the back of his paw. “It’s a hot one today” he said to himself. Wilbert was an old rabbit who had no family and lived by himself. He was a kind little bunny and loved helping others whenever he got a chance. Wilbert also really loved gardening and when he wasn’t working with a neighbor or down at the country store chatting with the other grey-haired rabbits, he was in his garden tending to his plants putting love and care into each plant that he had. To look at his garden you would have thought that it was in the care of at least 3 or 4 different rabbits as clean and well treated as everything was but it was just old Wilbert and his handy hoe and watering can. Just down the road was another family of rabbits, the Caringtons, they were a nice family but Bobby, the oldest of the children, had a bit of a mean streak and loved pushing his weight around and picked on the other young rabbits at school. He thought that he had a good grasp on life and knew the best on about every subject, especially gardening! And on this beautiful summer morning in Cottontail Cove, New Jersey he was ambling down the road with nothing much to do being as it was some rabbit holiday…. he wasn’t even sure what…. but he was happy to be out of school and free to roam about town looking for mischief to get himself into. It was on this walk that he passed in front of Mr. Story’s house and saw the old hare out working in his garden. “That old fool lives in his garden more than his house” he said under his breath as he drew closer to Mr. Story’s driveway. “What does he do in there all day anyway?” he thought. “If you do stuff right you only have to spend about 5 minutes a day in the dirt to keep your garden going good, I better go tell him that he clearly is wasting his time and explain to him how to really manage a garden” he said as he quickly turned in the drive and headed for Wilbert’s garden. Wilbert was just finishing hoeing the weeds on the last row of his garden when Bobby sauntered up. “Good Morning Mr. Carington” Wilbert called as he looked up and seen the young rabbit coming toward him. “Yes, it is” answered Bobby, “not that you would know. You got your nose buried in this here garden, I’m surprised you even know if its Monday or Tuesday.” Wilbert smiled; he knew how Bobby was but didn’t let it bother him. “Well, I see your point Mr. Carington, but I do happen to know it’s actually Thursday” he replied, “Speaking of which, why are you not in school young man? Skipping out to come help the elderly? How kind of you!” “HA” Bobby sneered, “Like I would waste my time helping you with your garden when you clearly spend way too much time working in it already! And as far as school, we have off because of some old holiday.” “Ah yes!” exclaimed Wilbert, “Its Carrot Planting Day. I almost forgot!! The best day all year, except for the day when you pull them up! My stomach is growling just thinking about it! How is it that you don’t know what day it is today with it being such a special day?” questioned Mr. Story. “What do I care about Carrot Planting Day?” snarled Bobby, “Anybody can grow a dumb old carrot, I just let everyone else do the work then I go get them from the store, saves me time so I can come tell you gardeners what you’re doing wrong with your gardens.” “I see” replied Mr. Story. “Well, if you know how to do it so well then tell me, what am I doing wrong?” questioned Wilbert. “Easy” said Bobby, “You spend way too much time in here, if you’re not careful you will smother everything. All you need is about 5 minutes a day to pick the weeds quick and throw a little water over everything and let mother nature do her thing! “Wow” replied Wilbert, “I never realized it was so easy to garden, here I have been wasting my time and doing it wrong all these years! I’m so glad you took the time out of your busy day to come tell me this Mr. Carington!” laughed Wilbert. “Don’t believe me, do you?” boasted Bobby, “I could grow as good a carrot or anything else for that matter as you can!!” “Hmmm, that gives me an idea” Wilbert said, “Since its Carrot Planting Day and all why don’t we have a little contest. We will each plant one carrot and take care of it how we want and two and a half months from now we will dig them up and see whose is best.” “I’m not doing that!” retorted Bobby. “I don’t have a garden to grow it in and besides I don’t want to make a fool of such an old rabbit as you.” “O stop making excuses Bobby. You can plant your carrot here on this one side of my garden, I wasn’t going to use it anyway.” replied Mr. Story, “And don’t you worry about making me look bad, it wouldn’t be the first and probably won’t be the last. But if your worried about losing I can understand that.” he teased. “Ha!” laughed Bobby who was all too arrogant to admit he was ever worried about losing. “I could beat you without even breaking a sweat!” he boasted. “Ok then, it’s agreed we will each plant one carrot and pull it up on, let’s see, what’s today the 10th of May, ok we will pull them up on July 22nd. That’s 73 days, perfect for carrots.” said Mr. Story. “Fine’ growled Bobby, ‘but don’t say I didn’t warn you!”
Hurricane Ida came and dumped 5 inches on our drought stricken corn.
Talk about an visual oxymoron 😅
I’m so happy to have the pond full of water again. We put several barley bales in the water last spring as algae control and I was so fascinated watching this heron float along in the midst of the downpour.
The events of the week made me feel exactly like that bird.
On Monday, a family friend, Lester Witmer was killed in a construction accident. Our hearts are devastated when we think of Mary and their 5 children.
On Wednesday, another family friend- John David Risser was killed in a truck accident. My dad helped John get his CDL back in the 90s and he’d driven for us for several years after that. 20 plus years later, they were still quite close and talked on the phone often. Our hearts are devastated when we think of Cynthia and their 6 children.
John enthusiastically took pics of his early trucking career and gifted my dad with a photo album full of pictures including this one.
Both Lester and John lived their Christian witness boldly. I’m thankful for that.
As I was praying for both families, the words from the hymn “Peace Perfect Peace” kept running through my head.
What a blessing to be able to rest in this.
Committing the Broken-hearted to the One who promises to provide,
Peace, perfect peace, in this dark world of sin? The blood of Jesus whispers peace within.
Peace, perfect peace, by thronging duties pressed? To do the will of Jesus, this is rest.
Peace, perfect peace, with sorrows surging round? On Jesus’ bosom naught but calm is found.
Peace, perfect peace, ’mid suffering’s sharpest throes? The sympathy of Jesus breathes repose.
Peace, perfect peace, with loved ones far away? In Jesus’ keeping we are safe, and they.
Peace, perfect peace, our future all unknown! Jesus we know, and He is on the throne.
Peace, perfect peace, death shad’wing us and ours? Jesus has vanquished death and all its pow’rs.
It is enough: earth’s struggles soon shall cease, And Jesus calls us to Heav’n’s perfect peace.
Someone started a GoFundMe to help with expenses for the Risser family. If God is prompting you to help-that link is here
Today as I stumbled along happily in my 6th chicken house for the day (2 houses 2 times with Em, 2 houses 1 time with Ben) I suddenly burst out laughing:
You know how it always goes whenever your child says “I will never marry a guy that blah blah blah” and you smile and say “never say never” That was me and my confidant loud mouth saying I’d never ever be in a relationship with a chicken farmer. 😂
In the not too distant past I distinctly remember commenting on chicken farming. “I couldn’t do it. They smell horrible, they’re mean. I’m scared to death of them. I know they say ‘never say never’ but this is me saying ‘never. I will never be a chicken farmer’.”
And then probably in the next breath: “I honestly am not sure I could clean for a living. I really really don’t enjoy cleaning houses.”
So here I am- happily committed to helping Ben or Em whenever they need another set of hands. And in between that I’m cleaning my Airbnb over and over again- and I’m loving it.
So if you’d ask me what my least favorite occupation would be- I’d say… Oh no you can’t catch me there- I wouldn’t say anything 😂
Admittedly as good as these two unforeseen twists in my life story are treating me- I’m super thankful that “never ever” means eventually in my case.
My dad called from Lancaster County. He was sitting in the bus outside of yet another little fabric store waiting on 32 women to secure their purchases and move onto the next stop. Boredom always pegs his pun meter completely out: “Well, have y’all chickened out?”
I laughed and referred the question to the Farmer himself.
After countless hours of work, D-Day was upon us and Glen Oaks Farm’s first bird placement was arriving in a sharp looking Pete.
The owner of the company that Ben grows for (Shenandoah Valley Organic) has been our friend for forever. In fact my mom’s claim to fame is that years ago Corwin brought out a coop full of the original organic chickens and they hung them with baler twine over our clothes line pole and dressed them quite happily. We had no idea how big this vision would grow to be. And it’s still growing. Anyhow I’m super excited/thankful to see my Ben friend getting this opportunity to join forces with them.
We got the fun of dumping the crates of hours old baby chicks into their new home.
It would’ve been a pretty big job if it hadn’t been for our confident air traffic control man shouting out orders 😂
Growing Farmer Focus birds is old hat for the twins-they’ve done it for years (or at least the 19 months they’ve been on the planet) but they were still delighted by all the baby birds.
And so begins a new chapter.
As I watched the transformation from the old, dark, silent buildings to the bright, warm, loud (baby chicks are so noisy) chicken houses, my mind went to Isaiah 43:19 “See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.”
It’s a beautiful thing to look back over the last steps of the journey and to see God truly has made a way in the wilderness.
Selah may indicate a break in the song whose purpose is similar to that of amen (Hebrew: “so be it”) in that it stresses the truth and importance of the preceding passage… -Wikipedia
“Dry times weather wise are often dry times spiritually”
The wisdom of my friend keeps rolling around through my brain.
Psalm 143:6 I stretch out my hands to You; My soul longs for You, as a parched land. Selah.
I’ve felt this in every way this summer. Dry dry times.
I’ve had times of urgent prayer when God remains silent, but this summer was different somehow.
I tried to remain thankful for the “beautiful drying weather” but as the moisture sucked out of the ground and the crops turned a critical blue-my soul echoed their desperate cry.
But there was still beauty to be found in the Valley. And my heart echoed that too.
Definitely the highlight of the summer was the fact that Deb and Sweet Baby A joined us for vacation.
I use the term “vacation” loosely because if you’ve ever tried to pack 7 adults and 3 babies into a 3 bedroom condo along with the uninvited guests Headcold and Croup-you understand that there’s not but so much resting and relaxation involved…
But we did have an incredible time. Family is such a blessing.
Also the rains started while we were away. Praise the Lord 😭 We tried not to haunt the radar, but we couldn’t help ourselves. Em kept us updated by watching the rain gush off the roof past her security cameras. Thank you Jesus.
And before we knew it, we were back home in the Valley- asking God to bless another harvest.
Great is the Lord He is holy and just By His power we trust In His love Great is the Lord He is faithful and true By His mercy He proves He is love
May you find Him faithful-even in the dry seasons,
Recent travels took me to Norfolk on a boat tour- exploring the Elizabeth River around the Naval Base. Very educational. If you’re down that way and have 2 extra hours- definitely look up Victory Rover Naval Base Cruises
How we all feel about summertime watermelon parties and family time.
And finally-I’m sorry to keep going back to the drought… but this is the type of feed we’ve found. I’m so curious to see how these late rains will improve the situation.