It's hard work owning a farm.
I knew this going into it, but I think I might have romanticized it a teensy bit when everything was well-tended and move-in ready.
The reality is that it takes a lot of work to keep everything looking as ideal as it first did.
Most weekends will find us outside doing all sorts of farm chores. We have whacked walnut shells out of a tree, pruned trees in the orchard, picked up massive amounts of citrus off the ground and off of trees, pruned grape vines, pulled tumbleweeds, converted an outbuilding to a chicken house, created an animal enclosure, repaired the animal enclosure, modified the animal enclosure, etc.
Today was like most weekends and as I was getting ready to shower off the grime, I thought about what we had spent our hours on outside and realized that to anyone else, it would like we hadn't done a thing.
Because all of the work we did was hidden.
We have had some losses recently. First it was our one lone white chicken. The kids found it inside the animal enclosure and our younger dog, Brody, was gnawing on it. This was not part of the romantic farm picture I had in my head. Gross.
However, since I had forgotten to lock one of the gates the night before, it was my fault. Also, it was hard to know how the chicken had died since the gate was open. The puppy could have just capitalized on our neighbor's dog bad behavior.
But then our rabbit was killed and again, and Brody was found in proximity.
And then we came home one day to another chicken alive, but unfortunately shouldn't have been. My poor husband still can't talk about the trauma of being the "farmer on duty." Again, we had no concrete proof, but I had my suspicions.
The last straw was this week when we drove home and I saw a dead chicken outside the enclosure on the lawn. It was missing a head. I also saw Brody wriggling under the gate of the enclosure to come and greet us. And he had feathers in his mouth. I knew he had done it.
This morning as I went to leave on an errand, I heard a ruckus from the animal enclosure and when I called for Brody, he came running...from the enclosure...with feathers in his mouth.
It was apparent something had to be done or the dog would have to go. Either that or we would suffer the loss of a chicken every time a kid forgot to close a gate, or Brody got bored and wriggled under the gate to have some fun.
We decided to give all of the animals one more shot. We got out the heavy-gauge fencing and cut lengths of it that we attached to the bottom of the enclosure fence and then bent and buried under dirt -- making it impossible for hungry juvenile puppies to dig under fences that he shouldn't.
Hours later, we were dirty and hot and tired and sore, but the enclosure was as secure as it could be and our remaining chickens now have a fighting chance.
Unfortunately there is no visible proof that we worked for hours in the warm Spring sun today. In fact, it looks pretty much exactly like it did this morning.
However, both my husband and I know the amount of work that we did today and the protection it will offer our flock.
And that made me think about how often God works in our lives and the lives of others and we never see a visible thing. It's easy to think that no change has been made. But we cannot see what lies beneath. We cannot see the progress made or protection given for our vulnerable heart.
And so often we make assumptions that nothing will change or that nothing can be done to save what needs saving. We only see the surface.
But God sees much more....thankfully so much more. He is doing things beneath the surface of our hearts that will make us stronger and freer.
And that's a joy that doesn't need romanticizing.