Peace in the Storm

Last week was full of dark clouds.

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

Never say Never

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’.”

Paramount Poultry ready for market

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.

“Where God Guides, He provides.” Praise Him.


Bonus Pic:

I love our Shenandoah Valley ❤️

No Chickening Out Now 🐥

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.

Thank you, Jesus


My Soul longs for you as a parched land. Selah

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.

📸 credit: Sherman

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,


Bonus Pics:

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.

Birthday Week

The end of July always means party week for our family.

3 birthdays in 6 days is definitely reason to celebrate.

This year we celebrated Deb via Amazon Prime. We borrowed the Ben Friend’s account and he thought he was hilarious sending Deborah Kennell’s packages to Deborah Doghouse. And then we all wondered why the mail carrier had trouble finding that address 😂

Julia’s birthday bash possibly set the record for the earliest party ever. I know it did in our family. We snuck into the house shortly after 5 am with intentions of surprising Jul when she got in from the barn. What we didn’t know was that the birthday girl had the morning off and was spying on our progress from her bedroom. 😂 Em makes a copycat skillet from Perkins that is amazing: sausage, ham, maple bacon, tater tots, scrambled eggs and gravy. My contribution was a blackberry cream cheese coffee cake.

And then the big celebration began.

For Mother’s birthday, Julia planned a night in the mountains nearby. Historically our family isn’t much in the way of campers-but after the incredible success of the event- I can see that changing,

The boys were everywhere and into everything- I love them. After lights out the stillness of the forest was interrupted with my dad snoring and the twins getting freaked out at the pitch dark. And the whine of a drove of mosquitoes. And the call of an unknown bird.

But a good time was had by all.

My mom’s sister and her family are seasoned campers and they joined our party. I hope I learn their ways. I think I could’ve eaten this entire Dutch oven of fresh cinnamon rolls-so delicious.

Happiness is a butterfly, which when pursued, is always just beyond your grasp, but which, if you will sit down quietly, may alight upon you. Nathaniel Hawthorne

Another year of the blessing of family. What a gift-thank you Jesus


Bonus Pics:

Travel took me to Belleville this week. It’s so beautiful and green there.

It had been about 2 years since I’d seen my cousin Marj and her family. So having most of the day free was the perfect chance to hop across the mountain and catch back up.

I found these awesome flying monkeys on clearance and thought maybe her children needed them. I didn’t think about the fact that these monkeys have a pronounced cry on impact and how impressive 6 monkeys shrieking at once and 6 children laughing at once would be.

I think Marj’s husband will be fine if it’s another 2 years until I return bearing such gifts 😂 What a fun visit though.

And finally- a photo update on Glen Oaks Farm. With chick placement day looming ahead, the Ben Friend has his nose to the grindstone. What an incredible adventure.

I Want to Remember This Drought

I want to remember this summer. The choking dust, the sparse rain, the onion cornfields, the desperation in every farmers heart as another window of opportunity closes with a maximum of 3 drops of rain.

I want to remember this summer of realizing again how good God is and how perfect His timing is and how generous His provisions are.

I can’t wait to look back and remember this summer and to reference it knowing that God is able.

May our eyes be open to see His goodness even in the dry times.


Bonus Pics:

My 10 year old friend has the art of hospitality down pat.

My weekend trip to Lancaster did my heart good… pretty much cuteness overload

Life Lessons from the Berry Patch

Things over at Ben’s Glen Oaks Farm are literally the berries right now.

Ben is in the process of remodeling his chicken houses and he made the casual comment “I forgot to tell you-Clarence was working on the fans and he said he’s never seen so many blackberries.”

Immediately my ears perked up. What the Rohrer boys didn’t know is that I come from a long line of gatherers. Some very special summer memories were made climbing into the homemade 3 point hitch cart on my Pappy’s little Massey and heading to the back 40. He’d tie a bucket with baler twine around his waist and pick with both hands. Short snippets of song would interrupt the noises of the forest. He was in his element.

I’m guessing he was reliving memories as he picked. His mom was the queen of fruit pies. Hired girls remembered making 30+ pies a week to feed that hungry Rhodes pack. Apparently Pappy learned his berry picking skills from His dad. 200 quart of canned huckleberries from one season. 😅

My moms blackberry memories were fairly detailed. A neighbor bought a new piece of ground and the family took a tractor and wagon to gather piles of berries. “It wasn’t really fun and I don’t remember thinking the blackberries were all that delicious, but I for sure remember it.”

Today I missed Pappy’s song as I picked my way across Ben’s farm.

But the life lessons of the wild berries struck me again:

1. There’s gonna be some thorns, some rotten (berries) and some bugs along the way. Expect it, don’t let it stop you.

2. Ignore the naysayers. Boone (Ben’s yellow lab) sat in the shade and barked his disapproval at my trespassing. But that didn’t steal my joy.

3. Dress for the occasion . There are times that long sleeves and barn boots are the most appropriate style. Light summer wear has its place too-but not in the berry patch.

4. Get sweeter with age. If you ever have a chance to compare a ripe black berry with one that’s not as advanced-you for sure understand.

This mornings jaunt of rambling around the blackberry patch did my heart good. I caught myself singing the same happy tune that my Pappy Reuben sang.

What a beautiful (and delicious) gift God has given us.

Come see me if you’re hungry for blackberry cobbler 🤩


Looking Forward and Back 200 years

What do you know about your family from 200 years ago?

I’ve been on a search recently and I’ll tell you what I’ve found.

Second Mountain

Isreal Rohrer was born in PA in 1820. He got married to Anna and became a miller by trade. Even though they had 14 children, they only saw a 6 of them reach adulthood. Interestingly enough 3 of their children died because one son visited Lancaster City when it was under quarantine for spinal meningitis, and brought the dreaded disease home.

The part about my great-great-great Grandad’s story that I was familiar with was the fact that he contracted a bunch of wheat at a high price and after the market crashed- took the loss in an honorable way, lost his business and moved to VA.

The Rohrer History confirmed this and also added the fact that Great Granddad x 3 Rohrer built a lime kiln on the bank of the Dry River and brought the tired soil around to the productive river ground that we all admire today. Apparently he brought this practice to the Valley and we’ve been spreading lime ever since.

His church efforts were another noteworthy attribute, enough so that it made the history books. “He was cautious about change and raised concern about trends in the church…”

Meanwhile also in Lancaster County, Micheal Horst was born (1824). His family moved to Maryland and he married Annie. They had 8 children- 5 of which survived to adulthood.

My Great Granddad x 3 Horst was a farmer by trade and was ordained a minister at 34 and then a bishop. According to the “Mennonites of the Washington County, MD and Franklin County, PA Conference” book, he was a moving speaker inclined to older customs.

He bought a second farm when an economic slump hit. Thus resulting in financial failure. Because of this, several churches rejected his leadership. His wife died and he moved to Kansas “to get his troubles off his mind”.

Amazingly his story changes because a fellow minister donated $1000 and started a 19th century “Go Fund Me”. Adam Baer worked tirelessly to restore confidence in my Great-great-great Grandad.

He returned from the west, remarried and took back the office of bishop.

He was shaving before a church meeting when he mentioned feeling sick and a few moments later, he had passed away. (Thank you history book for recording such detail 😂)

My parents purchased a farm this spring. The best way to fall in love with a farm is pick rocks on it. (I can’t believe I just said that) The farm was an orchard until a decade or so ago and someone spent hours and days turning it into beautiful crop land- so the rock picking was not very intense. But we came across an old graveyard and gave ourselves a break to get a better idea of who had loved this ground previously.

Immediately the time capsule stuck out to me. And per usual I had about 40 questions. The main one being “how would one expect his descendants to know to return to this spot in 200 years?” (I’ll be instructing the nephews to tell their grandchildren’s children about this) “What sort of thing will people find interesting about me in 200 years?” This began my quest to understand them better. And in turn to figure out a few things about my own people.

I will give the Baughman family credit- they are very organized with their history. I’ve enjoyed learning about the family who loved this land before us (Find that here) I find it noteworthy that like my grandfathers- Henry Jr was forced to sell the property. Apparently Dad had given 2 of the sons the land, but they were required to pay their siblings £300. Henry had to sell his portion of the inheritance to come up with the funds.

Life, Death, Love, Financial Stresses… Isn’t it crazy how it’s all a part of the human experience? It was for them. It is for us. And it will be for future generations as long as the world stands.

But through it all-for the Rohrer’s, the Horst’s, and the Baughman’s. God is good and He provides a way, every.single.time.

May those who come behind us, find us faithful.


Bonus Pics:

200 years from now, it won’t matter that the Rhododendron bloomed this week. But wow I sure enjoyed an early morning hike with some of my favorites ❤️

Truly magical

Yay for Summer

Nothing calls for a swim party like a week of 90° F with no rain and lots of blue sky.

Nothing calls for a swim party to be on pins and needles like a red head daredevil who walks of the edge of the pool with full confidence that someone is gonna be paying attention and catching him.

But nothing beats that big grin that follows a tremendous splash from said twin entering the water.

“Yay for summer!” I said and I think Uriah agrees with me.

The twins turned 18 months and in effort to dig them out from under the celebrations of Christmas-Mama threw them a “half birthday party”. Who doesn’t need an excuse to eat cake and homemade black raspberry ice cream in June? Yay for summer!

Stuart’s Draft, VA

Wheat harvest went past in a blur. Father thinks we set a new record. But the rain held off until we were seeding the last field and we are excited to focus on other things.

Such a gorgeous time of year. Need I say it again? Yay for summer

I’ve been on the road some this last month which feels really, really good. We took a ferry to Put-in-Bay, OH and enjoyed a day there.

Ohio is beautiful this time of year… yay for my favorite season.

I enjoyed the Clinic for Special Children Benefit Auction in Shippensburg. The steam engine cranking out steamed shrimp is always a favorite. Also I was reminded on this trip that AC is very necessary this time of year. Thankful to back in business again with a cool van. But still-Yay for summer.

God is good. He is faithful in every season. I’m so grateful for the way I can see His Hand providing this year. Praise Him.

Yay for summer!


Bonus Pic:

Did you actually think I could go an entire post without talking about Pondside Paradise? 😂 Apparently we hosted an artist at our Airbnb. Totally amazed by the detail in this sketch.

And because I feel the need to say it once more: Yay for summer!

Papa’s Fan Club

The twins are very communicative these days. And even tho they sometimes fall under the “when necessary use words” camp-there’s usually no question what their agenda is and how they need you to help them achieve it.

Isaiah is definitely the more verbal of the two. And he has a one track mind.

We’re riding along on the side-by-side, the sun is shining and the dog is barking. Isaiah leans his little blonde head against me and all is well in the world. “I bet he’s enjoying this” I hug my little buddy a little closer.
He looks up with big blue eyes searching my face.
“Papa’s out working” I tell him

Blueberries are the fruit of choice these days and the boys can them by the fistfuls. “Wow, Juls going to need to plant a bigger garden at the rate these boys are eating” I deliver another shipment of blueberries to the high chair cafeteria. Isaiah looks at me with blueberries smeared from ear to ear. He cocks his head at the noise of a faint motor passing by the house.
“Papa’s coming in a little” I tell him

We visit the swing set and because it’s a huge decision when you’re 18 months old to decide whether to go down the slide first or try out the swings-we start on one side and work our way over trying everything. My little buddy disappears into a piece of pipe and pops out of the other side laughing. “Peek-a-boo” I shout while thinking “ah carefree childhood” but Isaiah has something else on his mind.
“Papa will be home soon” I tell him.

And so that’s how our time is usually spent. We talk about puppies and tractors and “pretty pretty pretty” flowers. We dream of ducks and pizza and Mama and snuggy bear, But somehow Papa is at the forefront of every apparent thought.

📸: Julia

I’m challenged by my little nephew’s unwavering devotion. Do I stop in the middle of the most exhilarating adventure to long for the presence of my Heavenly Father? Or in the middle of my favorite snack? Or in the middle of every single part of the day to day no matter how busy I am-to constantly direct my thoughts towards Jesus?

Today I took my 92 year old Grandma to her church and the words from this song took my thoughts down the same line.

Little Black Songbook (because I don’t know it’s actually name) Song 180: (side note- this songbook has no notes-only printed words-so the song leader can pick whichever tune he prefers to go with the verses):

Dispensing good where’re he came
The labors of his life were love
Oh if we love the Saviors name
Let his divine example move

But ah! how blind! how weak we are
How frail! How apt to turn aside
Lord, we depend upon Thy Care
And ask Thy Spirit for our guide

Thy fair example may we trace
To teach us what we ought to be
Make us, by Thy transforming grace,
Dear Savior, daily more like Thee

Jesus, all for Jesus



Bonus Pics:

The American Trucker Historical Society came to town recently. There was such a wide range in the 1000 trucks at the show 😅 My Ben Friend took me and we only saw a fraction of them during the several hours that we baked in that summer sun.

The winners between the most unique thing at the show were a tie between this decked out rocking chair …

… And this… (Ben thought this was hilarious and so accurate. I’ll just leave it here)

And lastly. I may have started a new obsession. It goes by different names. I called it a “s’more charcuterie board” Jul thought it was a “S’MORgasbord” and the Ben Friend said “what’s a Chattahoochee board?”