Monthly Archives: June 2012

Of Starlings and Barn Swallows

“You’re not an ornithologist,” said my husband.

barn swallow

barn swallow child

Got that right.

Thanks to Roy, a reader in Columbia, Missouri, we discovered the starlings featured in yesterday’s post are actually a fine family of barn swallows.

Roy was kind enough to include a link to photos that helped us identify the nest and the birds. Mother-Daughter Press & Gay Bumgarner Images might as well have shot the pictures at my house.

Barn swallow child doesn’t have quite the same je nais se quoi as starling child.

And this isn’t the first time I’ve had to eat crow on the blog, nor will it be the last. But this is the first time I’ve had to do so over an ornithological misnomer.

“The point is that the bird kept jumping out of the nest,” said my husband.

Yes, dear. Reminds me of a certain blogger we know.

Enthusiasm without knowledge is no good;
haste makes mistakes. Proverbs 19:2 NLT

Little Bird by the Annie Lennox: I’ve just got to put these wings to test.

Who’s next to share an experience of eating crow?

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There’s Always One

Our home is becoming a wildlife sanctuary.

My husband and son rescued this little bunny from our window well and set him free to rejoin his family. I’d post video of the rabbit rodeo, but I’d like to stay married.

rabbit baby

baby bunny

Two toads have taken up permanent residence in the window well turned terrarium. Our eyes sift through the sand to detect their camouflaged bodies.

The robins in our holly tree who survived the tornado have long since gone. Another resourceful robin laid eggs in a coil of electrical wire tucked under our deck. She’s fearlessly raising her brood to fledging status this week.

Some starlings constructed a muddy nest under the deck, too.

This past Tuesday morning, I let the dog out to roam in the backyard. As we ate breakfast inside, we heard her urgent barking.

“She wants to come in already?”

“I’ll do it! I’ll do it!” said my son.

“Okay, just make sure you lock up after you let her in.”

He scurried downstairs to open the door.

“No, Ella! No!”

My skinny seven-year-old lugged our overweight dog into the house.

“Ella was trying to bite the baby bird!” he said.

A starling chick had fallen from the nest. His four brothers and sisters peeked out of their dirt clod cone of a home.

“Don’t touch it!” I said. The tiny bird lie on his back struggling to breathe. Gingerly, I flipped him over. He waddled a few steps.

“Let’s call your dad and figure out what to do,” I said.

My husband was in a meeting, unavailable to take our call. So I did what any modern woman on the prairie does. I Googled it.

perched on stacked garden benches

perched

The Miami Science Museum website gave us instructions:

“Don’t worry about ‘smelling like a human.’ Actually, most birds have a very poor sense of smell and won’t be able to tell that you helped their baby… If you can find the nest, then put the baby bird into it.”

We stacked benches and climbed up.

“Spot me, will ya?”

I carefully lifted the chick up to the nest. He disappeared down into the funnel. He was a goner for sure.

By evening, he’d fallen out again. We stacked the benches, climbed up, placed him with his siblings. Only this time he didn’t disappear.

This time he turned around and perched on the rim of the dirt cone.

“Go back in,” I said and nudged him. He refused to move, stretching his neck out between my fingers.

baby starling at nest edge

on the edge

The next morning, he’d hopped out again. And again in the afternoon.

This bird is not old enough to leave the nest. He’s just beginning to open his eyes. There are downy tufts on his head. He’d be defenseless on the ground if a snake or cat came prowling. My husband thinks he’s trying to find relief from the triple digit heat.

Soon he’ll fly like the adult starlings who circle and complain as we return their offspring to the nest. We’ll save him from danger for as long as we can. But he’s tasted the cool, sweetness of freedom.

Wednesday evening we sat by the window under the deck, quietly watching avian parents fly back and forth. The robins landed and stayed to feed their chicks. But the starlings swooped in and hovered beside the mud nest, their apricot chests suspended by strong, flapping wings.

baby starling

starling child

If they landed, it was like angels touching earth, too quick for us to see.

Swan-diving starling child, do you show your siblings how to fall into this air?

There’s always one who leads.

But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. 1 Corinthians 15:20-21 ESV

I would give my life to find it. I would give it all. Catch me if I fall. 

Who do you lead? Who do you follow?

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The Room Next Door

room next door

room next door

Must have been around 9 p.m. when it began. Shouting rattled our hotel room.

My husband turned up the volume on the TV as the argument continued, peppered with expletives. I picked up the phone.

“Yes, there’s a hostile conversation in the room next door. Well, I think it’s next door. Can you check? It’s really loud.”

We waited. The yelling permeated the walls. My husband called this time.

“Will you send someone up to our floor right away? Sounds like a fight.”

I stood on my toes and watched through the peephole. A man in a uniform appeared and knocked on our neighbors’ door. “Security. Open up.”

A sing-song voice answered. “Everything’s all right in here.”

“Open the door!” said the security guard. He knocked some more, but the door was shut tight and the yelling inside escalated.

“He’s gone!” I said as they guard left. My husband held our wide-eyed son.

elevator going down

elevator going down

The voices cut loose, cursing and screaming. Then we heard what sounded like fists punching a feather pillow in staccato jabs. Thump, thump, thump! 

I grabbed the phone again. “This is the third time we’ve called! You have to do something! Call the police! It sounds like he’s hitting her!”

Through the peephole I watched four officers rush the hall.

“Police!” Bang, bang, bang, they pounded on the door. “Open up!”

“I’m scared,” said our son.

Finally our neighbors opened their door. A middle-aged man dressed in pajamas marched out into the hallway. The police checked his identification.

glasses and cup in the hallway

in the hallway

“Who’s in the room?”

“My wife.”

“Were you yelling at your wife?”

“Yes.”

“You argue with your wife a lot?”

“No.”

“You ever hit your wife?”

Never.”

An officer entered the room. Minutes later, he came out of the room, released the husband, and the police left.

Guess she didn’t want to press charges. No law against punching pillows, right?

clean up, exit

clean up, exit

The room next door was quiet the rest of the night, but our room lost sleep.

Our neighbors were gone by morning. Our business-class hotel was apologetic. No harm done, right?

You keeping things on the down-low? Think no one will ever find out what’s done in secret? Don’t kid yourself.

Sin is never a private affair.

Our behavior impacts those around us. Boils over. Burns bystanders as well as those in our line of fire. Leaves us all in dire need of redemption.

You spread out our sins before You—
our secret sins—and You see them all. Psalm 90:8 NLT

In America, one in four women and one in nine men will suffer physical or emotional violence at the hands of an intimate partner (Centers for Disease Control, 2008).

If you or someone you know is being abused or is an abuser, please reach out for help. Contact local authorities, your pastor, or the National Domestic Violence Hotline 1.800.799.SAFE (7233) or TTY 1-800-787-3224.

What does it mean that secret sin isn’t really secret?

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Along the Way

The day before the Tony’s, I watched an interview with actress Judith Light. Remember Judith from Who’s the Boss?

Judith Light

Judith Light, image from wikipedia

She shared how she started her career with preconceived notions about the types of roles she would and would not accept. When her expectations were unmet and she wasn’t offered the roles she desired, she began to look at what was being offered to her. What doors were open.

A soap opera. A sitcom. Eventually Broadway.

She stopped fighting the current and sailed on it instead.

A day after the interview, Judith was awarded a 2012 Tony for her performance as Silda in Other Desert Cities.

You and I may never win a Tony, an Oscar, a Pulitzer, or a Fortune 500 ranking. But we all sail this current. We all run this race.

There is much to be gained along the way.

But my life is worth nothing to me unless I use it for finishing the work assigned me by the Lord Jesus—the work of telling others the Good News about the wonderful grace of God. Acts 20:24 NLT

Only Love by Wynonna Judd. Out of all the flags I’ve flown, one flies high and stands alone.

What’s being offered to you? What doors are open?

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Milk Wars Becomes Top Post

The past week’s traffic boosted Milk Wars into first place as the most read post on everyday epistle.

beautiful calf in Milk Wars

beautiful, image from Troxel Dairy Farm, Indiana

Milk Wars unseated I Like My Bike to take the top spot. I Like My Bike was featured by WordPress on their Freshly Pressed page last August.

Milk Wars was first posted more than a year ago. Besides being our most read post, it’s also our most shared post with 528 Facebook shares and counting.

Apparently, the message still resonates.

I know that You can do all things;
no purpose of Yours can be thwarted. Job 42:2 NIV

10,000 Reasons by Matt Redman, a new favorite in my house: Let me be singing when the evening comes.

See what all the fuss is about in Milk Wars.

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A Banner Day on the Blog

Yesterday was a banner dayThank you for reading and sharing.

open for comments

open for comments

To any new readers, welcome aboard, folks. Fasten your seat belts.

A few things you should know. First, this isn’t a farm and food blog. If it were, it’d be called Farmilicious or Chick & Biscuit or Butterbean Babe.

I’m a suburban girl who didn’t grow up on a farm and doesn’t live on a farm now. I write all sorts of things. You never know what’s coming next, and neither do I.

This isn’t a devotional, although there are Bible verses that apply to the posts.

This isn’t a music blog either, but I really like music, hence the links to songs. Like a soundtrack for a movie.

Now about yesterday’s post Food Fright. Your response encouraged me to take inventory. Lo and behold, a pattern emerged.

Posts about what’s true and what’s not true about farming and food matter to you.

field of dreams

field of dreams

Since Milk Wars exploded a year ago, I’ve met a lot of cool people. Yesterday reminded me there are stories waiting to be told. Questions begging for answers.

Is my food safe? Are farms ruining the environment? Who’s behind all this? Will there be a Madagascar 4?

So among the posts about the dog, the family, the ups and down, the cosmetics and clothes, the social issues and flashback hits, don’t be surprised to see more about farming and food.

Chick & Biscuit can take a hint.

Let them praise the Lord for His great love
and for the wonderful things He has done for them.
For He satisfies the thirsty
and fills the hungry with good things. Psalm 107:8-9 NLT

Something to Say by Matthew West.

The floor is now open for suggested post topics or anything else you’d like to say, serious or otherwise.

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Food Fright

This post was featured by BlogHer on July 17, 2012.

Something’s awry in the 630s and the 338.19s.

cauliflower

cauliflower

Recently I ventured into the 630s and 338.19s at the downtown branch of the Wichita Public Library. Those are the Dewey Decimal call numbers for farming and production.

I was looking for a book that could help me address the concerns of yet another well-intentioned friend who watched Food, Inc. and hit the panic button.

Food giant Cargill headquarters its meat operations in Wichita. Kansas ranks seventh among states for total agricultural production. You’d think this prairie town would be dyed-in-the-wool pro-ag. Not so fast.

Instead of books about the dignity of farming and food production, here’s a sample of the titles I found:

The End of Food: How the Food Industry is Destroying Our Food Supply–And What You Can Do About It

Tomatoland: How Modern Industrial Agriculture Destroyed Our Most Alluring Fruit

Stuffed & Starved: The Hidden Battle for the World Food System

A Nation of Farmers: Defeating the Food Crisis on American  Soil

Against the Grain: How Agriculture Has Hijacked Civilization

Really?

Did you eat today? How about yesterday? Last year? Do you plan to eat again?

Did you have trouble finding food? Or did you have your choice of food at your choice of markets? Is someone preventing you from growing your own food if you want to do so?

I know your food didn’t kill you or you wouldn’t be reading this.

steak

steak

I have a child. To borrow a line of reasoning from Katie Pinke, because I have a child, do you think I abuse him? How about my dog? Do you assume I abuse her?

If you have children or animals, should I assume you abuse them? How about livestock or poultry? If a farmer raises livestock or poultry, is it a foregone conclusion that those animals are abused?

You know how I feel about milk.

Did you find insects in your produce? How about fungi on your fruit? Was your corn sweet and robust or wimpy and weedy? Was it dripping with chemicals?

Bad things happen in agriculture. There are accidents and outbreaks. There are crimes. Sometimes animals are abused. Sometimes people die.

There’s always room for improvement.

Bad things happen at local swimming pools. And at city halls. In factories. Police departments. Schools. Daycares. Animal shelters. Fortune 500 companies. Convenience stores.

There are accidents and outbreaks. There are crimes. Sometimes animals are abused. Sometimes people die. There’s always room for improvement.

Bad things happen, but they’re not the norm.

They’re certainly not the intention of the majority of people who work in these sectors. Crimes should be prosecuted. Innocent people shouldn’t be attacked.

Research, funding, and lifetimes of labor by dedicated farmers go into improving farming and our food. The result is one of the safest, most plentiful, least expensive food supplies in history. We have choices of what to eat.

Surely there must be something right about farming and food.

Much of what’s wrong appears to be grown and harvested on a bookshelf of misinformation. And don’t even get me started about what’s on the internet.

radicchio

radicchio

Show me the right path, O Lord;
point out the road for me to follow. Psalm 25:4 NLT

The Farmer’s Song by Murray McLaughlin. Thanks for the meal, here’s a song that is real from a kid from the city to you.

I snapped the food photos in this post at The Fresh Market in Wichita, where conventional, organic, homegrown, and imported foods are sold from the same shelves.

What’s your take on this? What are your concerns about farming and food? What would you like to stay the same? What would you like to change? 

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