Winter is only 1 mile long...

 This picture speaks an entire chapter to me... 
It speaks of a time (now or in the distant past): "All is saved- you just have to get there. Hope is only 1 mile away." 

 1 more mile...

Hope is a place though. And at one time, someone decided on that name. Or perhaps the name just stuck from someone's experience...

 It's interesting to learn how of the names of prairies got their names (at least in Illinois, which is called 'the Prairie State'.) I always thought it was Minnesota because of Little House on the Prairie... but I guess not, lol. 

I did learn that the state bird of Minnesota is the Common Loon (a very cool looking but red-eyed duck bird.) 
I really thought the state bird might be the Mosquito... I guess they just aren't big enough.

I learned that when the mosquitoes are gone, Jack Frost comes around...
The artistic effects of frost is different every day! 
Sometimes it looks like feathers, sometimes like unfurling Jurassic-age ferns... it's pretty and interesting! 
And it's a sign of how cold it is.

This is a window in the garage that faces south, but since there are trees everywhere, (even though their branches are naked), it's not until very late morning that direct light hits it. 
On days when the sun comes out. 

Then it sparkles with colored light for about 10 minutes before melting. 
As interesting as the frost patterns are, I'm grateful for a pause in Winter the last couple of weeks- we got snow, but we got up to 50° a couple of times too! 

Just the week before, I was searching for something of interest on my walk, and found squirrel prints... Tazz, mine, and a squirrel. They look like little hands- and I guess they are!
Little hands to dig up the acorns under the snow...

We have to get our walks in before it gets dark, and dark falls fast!
And it gets dark at 4:30.     
And then It can look pretty... 

...or pretty eerie. 

You know WHY I'm always watching the sky... but I guess I also obsess about what the COLOR of the sky is, and whether the weather is in the process of moving in or out, and from what direction the wind/clouds are coming from. 

That's how I internalize my directional situation as well as my place in the bigger world 
(My newest quandary here: where is south when you cannot see the sun ALL DAY LONG because of the white haze)?!  

Those lights are from a mysterious factory that blows smoke sometimes, even throughout the night. But I never see any sign of people. In fact, it looks like it should/could be an ABANDONED factory...
No one loves the place anyway: many of the external walls are smudged with black and green from neglect (if not actually crumbling), and have mis-matched siding materials- even different colors. It's UGLY.
And of the rows of windows- many are completely missing. 
(Don't they pay for heating?) At least it isn't a dead factory, whatever it does.

And just this side of those lights are train tracks. With an eerie whistle and it often runs at night. About the time of the local corn harvests it was so heavy and slow that it shook the floorboards. 

And while nice in summer, all those tall trees overhead are now exposed - all the naked, sharp, branches seem to scratch at the sky when that frigid wind comes through.

You think I am pointing out the bare limbs scratching skywards? No, I just got bored on my walk and tried to find something of interest to take a picture of!

So you see why I seek out the rare powder blue and periwinkle blue skies. 
Something CHEERFUL!

On our walk today, I saw Miss Bunny climbed up a tree, the better to see something...

Silly rabbit -She saw that that there is still a spot of green grass left. 
The last of verdant color... like a jewel in the sun.
Miss Bunny is quite rightly worried that it's about to get zapped by Winter. 

I said it was true, that patch of green has no hope of making it thru winter unscathed. 
But then I said it should be reassuring to know, there IS Hope on the other side...and Hope is not far off, because Winter is only 1 mile long.

1 mile to Hope.

Yes, it STILL really IS all about chickens!

"What should I do with my life? As existential questions go, this one's a biggie."

Know thyself. That's the key to determining direction... and if you aren't sure, then there are ways to find out (beyond going out on a solo vision quest). 

'Johnson O'Connor : Finding Your Purpose', is podcast at Peak Prosperity. He interviews Steve Green, author of: "Finding Your Way to Your Authentic Career"... a guidebook on how to discover what fulfills you.

He says in this podcast intro, that we should from a place of self understanding and base goals on our hopes, dreams and abilities.  This podcast was about an aptitude test offered by the Johnson O'Connor Research Foundationwhich will "show you about your own strengths & weaknesses, plus more, including hours of exercises "designed to empirically score your natural ability across a number of specific skills... Exercises are wide-ranging; some are conceptual, some manual, some visual, some musical…"  
Notice again, the quote I have pasted on the right-hand side of this page:
Apparently it is such a reliable test, that GE has used it, among many other big name corporations. And it's used for determining a college ed. path, and what to do at any life-transition (quarter-life or mid-life or even retirement). Hook yourself up to that resource, if you've a mind to get help finding yourself or your direction.

I sort of enjoy the struggle (though not the transition) of discovering my path. 
It's a personal journey of self-discovery, or perhaps more of a determination along the lines of personal desires, but then comes the big challenge of creating a life along that path. 

Take note of the quote I have pasted up on the right-hand side of this blog:

“The World Exists For You... Build Therefore, Your Own World” 

~by Ralph Waldo Emerson. 

Maybe it isn't true, but I like to see things that way- it gives me the feeling of some measure of control. Sometimes I listen to very powerful music for that same feeling of empowerment. 

LOL, I get that feeling a lot from primal drums (as in Celtic music), but especially music with a powerfully moving emotional quality, both primal and ethereal. You kind of need the ethereal element when painting.

The photo is just to break up the monotony of words! Aren't they cute? Can you tell they're little stinkers who are rewarded for their antics and high expectations?

 I also don't like being told I can't do something (as in not 'able' to). 
In a discussion on this subject years back, I posted pics of the huge wall mural I painted when I really wanted a horse and the finances were saying 'no' to me. You can't really tell me no, because I look for ways around it. If I can't afford it, I'll try to imitate it/make it... things like that.

This time around, I'm in life circumstances that don't allow for having chickens under my own wing. So to speak. Now I know I could figure out a way to manage it, but again the finances say 'no'. Defiance is stoopid for it's own sake - and I'm experienced with life enough to know when to push pride aside. It's just not the right time in my life to indulge in them. 
So much is so iffy these days. Sometimes it feels the world has gone 'round the bend'.

(LOL, remember when I said that was the main reason I got them in the first place? For a sense of security?) 

Yeah, I know. I still feel that way. 

But I found something out: 
chickens are not a means of security - sustainable security - if you have to buy feed. 

So until I can raise their feed (and have room for them to free-range), they are on the back-burner. (But I live for the day they are on the front-burner - and that's exactly what this entire whole blog is about!) 
You see, it really is all about chickens... it really is. 

I just posted about doing a 'mixed-media' piece of artwork. It was actually because I didn't have the patience to see if I have what it takes to paint realistic feathers. I'll try that some day but I really wanted to get this UP ON THE WALL IN FRONT OF MY EYES. You see, I lost my patience with current circumstances.

Hens in nests... but not just any 'ol hens. I printed photos I found online and cut them out. I painted the rest.

These are the colors and breeds I plan to have, when I am able. The gray hen there is a lavender Ameraucana - they lay blue eggs. I want them because the hens are not just gorgeous layers of blue eggs, but gentle. And won't get frostbite on their combs. (That's important here. Putting Vaseline on combs when it's -18°, or -40°, which it gets down to HERE IN MINNESOTA). 

Yikes, right?

And that very out-of-place blue egg... well I should've 'fixed' it before pasting it on (I did change the color of it in the Paint program). 

So here is a kind of a temporary salve for my achy heart... it serves it's purpose.
Meanwhile I continue designing my future life as I envision it. Should I ever get there, I'll be all set, lol. 

If this detour continues I may need to get ahold of that aptitude test offered by the Johnson O'Connor Research Foundation. (*I am not advocating them, just passing on info.)

For now, I can share the New Year's resolutions and goals I'm working with toward that ever, I am determined to bloom where I'm planted!
*Prairie Farmstead  Year 1:   2016

Using better tools to stay focused on our interests in developing sustainable solutions to our needs ...

prairie farmstead:
* binders for separate needs (home, farm, biz), each has a notebook of biz plans, a master list of topics, brainstorming worksheets, info sheets, ideas + seasonal tasks
(I like a change of focus every quarter! And there are shifting priorities to determine seasonally, for streamlining production). 

prairie garden:
* journal and planner covering garden, hydro-/aero-/aqua-ponic systems and greenhouse
(goal is to master a growing & harvesting system that sustains the needs of our family)

prairie farmhouse:
* ‘12 folders’ method - one for each month to schedule daily tasks focused on creative projects & personal goals while staying on task with routine household needs.
Using checklists, info-sheets, and organization boards with visual ideas/examples.
(goal is to define a system of repetitive tasks that can be applied each week, month, and quarter/season of the year.)

challenging goals (it's mostly brainstorming for the year, have yet to determine a scheduled arrangement for meeting them, but I am working on it and will share soon!)

They are "living the dream" at this blog: "Just Another Day on the Farm"... 

What are you thinking of in terms of creating a life you love... or are you already living it?