Grateful for My Father in Law

by on October 17, 2012
in Uncategorized

He will be 97 on Wednesday, October 3, 2012!
He can still explain how early seed experimentation and hybridization began at Mississippi State University.
He still hears you, sees you, knows who you are, and displays a wicked, wry sense of humor. He still has a head full of white hair.
He can still walk the long gravel driveway to get the mail although it causes his leg to hurt, enjoy a bowl of spicy corn and shrimp soup, and explain exactly how he wants the yard and grounds maintained.
I’ve learned several things from my father in law in the thirty five years I have been a part of the Bunch family including:
1) Don’t touch a barb wire fence in a storm when it’s lightening. Papa Dean told my sons a story from his boyhood in Oklahoma. He said that after a storm he was sent out to ride the fence line and see what, if any, damage had been done. He described the wide open Oklahoma sky, the red bluffs, and the big old horse he rode. You almost hear the squeak of the worn leather saddle and feel the trot, trot, trot of the horse under you as he said, “I looked down the fence line and saw some humps; big, dark humps on the ground,” he said. “As I got closer I saw it was cows. . . our cows. Unmoving. Dead.” He went on to explain that the cows had huddled near the fence during the storm and touching the wire were electrocuted when the lightning flashed in the dark sky and sparked lethally through the metal. The boys learned to use their heads, know where their feet are, and stay out of danger.
2) Don’t mess with nature. The boys got in the most trouble, EVER, at the grandparents when they had playfully cut into a young tree and stripped bark from it. I have never seen Papa Dean so angry! They got a serious lesson in taking care of trees, the damage cutting into a tree causes, and what can happen to a sapling when the bark is stripped. The grandsons learned early on that the outside of a house was to be taken care of just like the inside of a house.
3) A young, teenage boy can walk behind, control, and plow with five mules. Papa Dean’s father didn’t have tractors or lots of farmhands to help him, although Dean said his mother could plow the straightest rows of anyone in the family when she could help. Dean had a sister and a brother who was born very small with several physical difficulties. The family was told the brother “would never grow up.” (He is still alive and cognizant most of the time.) It fell on Dean’s shoulders to man up and do a man’s work around the farm. He never said if he wondered if he could hook up and control the five mule team, he never said if he asked for help, he never said if he was afraid; he just did the job. The family survived. The boys learned not to be afraid of tackling big tasks; hard work is good.
4) A little chocolate never hurts. Every Christmas Papa Dean would begin his scientific experimental work. His special boiler, thermometer, spoon, and pan were assembled. The wrinkled, only- acceptable recipe was brought out. And he made fudge. The family eagerly awaited each batch and, as chocolate connoisseurs, would discuss the flavor, texture, consistency, and quality of the delectable fudge. Not to be outdone, Dean also turned out peanut brittle (often from a big, draw string bag of raw Oklahoma peanuts brought back from a visit home) and penuche. When it came to making a great cup of coffee and delicious candy, Dean was the expert. Gary and the boys have all taken turns in the past as his understudy in this important family undertaking learning the secrets and experiencing success as well as failure. Most importantly they learned if a batch doesn’t turn out right, try again; don’t give up.
If we use our heads and what we know to avoid getting into dumb, deadly situations; if we take care of what we have and the world around us; if we dare to do the difficult well; if we take time to add sweetness to life; won’t we have left an admirable legacy?
Happy Birthday, Papa Dean, and thank you for letting me be a small part of your life.

Exodus 20:12 “Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the LORD your God is giving you.”

Proverbs 20:29: “The glory of young men is their strength, gray hair the splendor of the old.”
Leviticus 19:32 “Stand up in the presence of the aged, show respect for the elderly and revere your God. I am the LORD.”

Christian simple life in South with reflections, chickens, horses …

by on September 3, 2012
in Uncategorized


What makes her unique is also a weakness.

Gary and I have enjoyed learning to raise chickens!  We had no idea of the variety of chickens when we began this hobby.  As we read and talked to “chicken people,” researched and looked at pictures of chickens, and discovered online places to order chicks; we started to acquire some of the more rare breeds.

One of my favorite chickens is the frizzle.  This chick has feathers that curl and turn up making them look like a fluffy pom-pom.

Since a normal chick’s feathers grow down around their body, the feathers make excellent insulation.  The uniqueness of the frizzle’s upturned, curly feathers makes it sensitive to cold because its feathers don’t insulate from drafts or low temperatures.

Another of my favorites is the silkie.  Our little silkie has feathers that look like fur!  She has bright blue spots on her head and has the look of a Persian kitten although, of course, she is shaped like a chicken.  Her unique feathering also is a weakness for her because she is unable to cool herself in very hot temperatures.  These chickens are sensitive to heat.

Then our special little hen, Tina the Turken, has already had her picture in the paper when she was a mere chick!  She was bred to have no feathers on her neck.  The idea was that the featherless neck made it easier to kill, and the third less feathers on the body made it easier to pluck.  Dreary!

We’ve found that the featherless, or naked neck, also caused a potentially fatal weakness.  When a rooster becomes interested in a hen, he often grabs the neck of the hen in the process of procreation.

One morning we found Tina with a horrible, deep wound torn in her neck!  Some of my friends and students suggested that was the perfect point for the frying pan to enter the picture, but we wanted to keep Tina alive.

She was very calm once we caught her and began to doctor her neck with the faithful purple animal spray for cuts and wounds we used on the horses.  I first added antibiotic cream to her now purple wound, applied non-stick gauze, and then finished off with the self stick wrap I had left-over from my broken finger episode.

Although it took weeks for her neck to heal, she did finally sport a large dark scab that protected her wound.  Without a cover or bandage on the large scab, other hens pecked it off.  They may have thought it was a big bug, or were just picking on her; we really don’t know.

So, we had to figure out something more durable for her neck that wouldn’t come off and wouldn’t attract the attention of the other hens and rooster.  I thought of using a tan, plain knit headband to go over her head and cover Tina’s neck.

We cut the headband in half, Gary held Tina, and I slipped the tube over her neck.  She didn’t seem to be bothered by it at all!

Now she was safe in the flock, although we do have to occasionally replace the headband for her.

Funny, isn’t it?  Why all that bother for a chicken?  I’m not sure why, but I love those hens and roosters and take delight in watching them and observing their antics.

The characteristics that make the different hens unique, can make for problems we have to be aware of, although the difference may be integral to that chicken as a breed.

Have you thought about the uniqueness of humans in creation and what weaknesses we have; weakness that may prove spiritually critical?  We have a soul; we have free will.

How about free will?  If God had made us like robots to be programmed to love and obey Him, we would obey and love Him as long as our program lasted.  However, could we even call the programmed love genuine love? Could obedience without a choice be called true obedience by the wildest stretch of the imagination?

I like to ride my black scooter because it cranks when I turn it on, it turns right when I steer it right, and it stops when I put on the brake.  But I love to ride my ebony mare because she has to choose to obey my commands, and we become a unit as we ride and communicate with each other.  What joy!

The scooter is only a machine; my mare Bella has a name and a beating, sometimes willful, heart.   The scooter is emotionless and mindless, but Bella acts on her own.

Joshua 24:15 talks about making a choice; exercising free will.  Joshua, the leader after Moses, was talking to the people after they had arrived at the Promised Land and had to go in and fight for it.  Joshua was explaining that the people had to choose who they would serve—idols or God.  He said, “But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.”

Jesus tells us that: “Look! I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends.” (Revelation 3:20)

Jesus made his choice on Calvary.  He is ready.

Now you have free will to choose.

Will the open the door of your heart, soul, and mind to Christ?

Or will your unique free will become your downfall?

Tina the Turken

by on June 20, 2012
in Uncategorized

She isn’t beautiful, but she does look interesting!
She has several names and there are different stories surrounding her unusual profile.
One of her names is “naked neck,” another “Turken,” and another is “Transylvanian Naked Neck.”
She looks like a regular chicken except that there are no feathers on her neck! She has a fluffy body and a fluffy little head, but her long curving neck is bare. She also has half the amount of feathers on her body as other chicken breeds.
One story is that the breed was developed to be easy to kill by wringing the bare neck and easier to pluck the feathers since there are less of them.
Another story is that the breed is a cross between a turkey and a chicken, but no viable offspring can come from those two.
She may have come from Hungary or Transylvania, become popular in Europe, and eventually was brought to America. There is a Turken from Australia that lays blue or green eggs, but most lay brown eggs. She will lay 120 to 180 eggs in a year and, although usually only eight pounds when grown, some raise her for meat.
Our little four week old naked neck will grow up to a calm, disease resistant, good forager, and a chicken who can do well in the hot weather and, surprisingly, in cold weather. I guess you could says the will be a chick for all seasons!
But I keep coming back to the idea that she was bred to be easy to pluck and easy to kill.
Is Leviticus one of your favorite books of the Bible? You can learn all about the details God gave the Children of Israel for the sacrificial system. . . but most of us don’t spend a great deal of time reading Leviticus.
If you do read about the sacrifices in chapter 6 you can find out about the two goats that were to be brought before the Lord.
“Then he is to take the two goats and present them before the Lord at the entrance to the tent of meeting. He is to cast lots for the two goats—one lot for the Lord and the other for the scapegoat. Aaron shall bring the goat whose lot falls to the Lord and sacrifice it for a sin offering. But the goat chosen by lot as the scapegoat shall be presented alive before the Lord to be used for making atonement by sending it into the wilderness as a scapegoat.” (Leviticus16:7-10)
So what happens to the scapegoat? “When Aaron has finished making atonement for the Most Holy Place, the tent of meeting and the altar, he shall bring forward the live goat. He is to lay both hands on the head of the live goat and confess over it all the wickedness and rebellion of the Israelites—all their sins—and put them on the goat’s head. He shall send the goat away into the wilderness in the care of someone appointed for the task. The goat will carry on itself all their sins to a remote place; and the man shall release it in the wilderness.”(Leviticus 16:20-22)
We enjoy our pets and we often become quite fond of the animals we raise. Can you imagine raising your very best, firstborn animal– whether lamb or goat– knowing that you were choosing it, feeding it, protecting it, keeping it as perfect as possible to deliver it to the priest to be killed.
If your favorite animal was going to be slaughtered and the blood used in the sacrificial system for you to find forgiveness for your sins, wouldn’t the process become much more personal?
What if you had to take the animal you had seen born, nurtured, and took pride in—out into the woods and leave it to be killed and eaten by some wild animal? Sacrifice would become personal.
How can we wrap our feeble minds about the reality of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross that was pictured with every sacrifice made through the years?
How can we ever imagine the depth of love and pain that God endured as He saw His only Son delivered beaten and bruised, but unbroken to the bloodletting cruelty of the cross.
Our forgiveness came at an unbelievably high price.
It couldn’t have been more personal.
We need to get back in touch with the grief and pain and loss of sacrifice, and the intense life taking seriousness of sin.

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