Category Archives: Stories from the Household of CM & CMW

Certain Man’s Wife Chases the Bull

This is an old story — as indicated by the date in the first sentence.  The reason I am posting it is that — I have another story about the bovine creatures at Shady Acres that I’ve been wanting to tell — and wanted to reference this story.  Alas and alack!  This story, though in my book, is so old, it never appeared in a blog posting.  Many of you have heard it.  Many of you have read it in my book.  But for those who haven’t — here is one of my favorite stories about life at Shady Acres and the neighborhood that we call home.  Sadly, two of the integral people who helped on this infamous day have gone to their reward.  I would just like to say that I deeply miss my dear friend, here referred to as “Good Wife Joan,” as well as our neighbor, Roland Willey, also a dear friend and trusty neighbor.

Now it came to pass on the very first day of September, in the year of our Lord, 2004, that Certain Man’s wife was complacently enjoying a busy morning of preparing for State Inspection. On impulse, that very morning, she had hired a friend, Alma Miller, to help clean the kitchen cabinets, and CMW was working at cleaning the bedroom that was to be inspected.  It was a beautiful morning.  There was a good breeze, the sky was blue, and all was well.

CMW had other reasons to rejoice.

For several weeks,one of the male bovines that Certain Man kept for meat had been showing signs of aggression, indeed, had charged Certain Man on a number of occasions, with great bellows and kicking up of the dirt. Now this Meany Pest of a bull was only 18 months old.  Certain Man had not had him neutered because he had never had a problem with other bulls when he hadn’t,and he liked it that an un-neutered bull would convert better to meat.  Since he only keeps his meat animals for two years, it had never been a problem. Until now.

This turn of events had been enough disconcerting to Certain Man that he had called the Honorable Allen Beachy and had him come and “band” the two young calves that he was raising for the spring of 2006.  That done, he also called the butcher shop and arranged for the slaughter of Meany Pest.  Immediately.  With the traffic of people and children through the property of Certain Man, he didn’t want to take a risk.  It was too late to tackle the neutering business with Meany Pest.  Unfortunately,slaughter time was a few weeks out, so close watch had been kept until this very morning when Friend, Tommy Eliason had come with his cattle trailer and hauled him off.  CMW drew a great sigh of relief that was matched by her husband.

Now, at the same time that CM had procured Meany Pest, he had gotten another male calf which grew up along side of MP.  What Meany Pest had in aggression, Second Fellow, though also un-neutered,  made up for in friendliness and complacency.   When Tommy Eliason came to pick up MP, Second Fellow wanted to go, too, and tried to stick his head into the truck..  Certain Man and Tommy enjoyed a chuckle at the friendly fellow’s expense.  They had to chase him away.

When Certain Man came in from sending Meany Pest off, he said to CMW, “Now,I locked the other three in the front pasture. Second Fellow is pretty upset, and I don’t want him getting out.”

Certain Man has always maintained fences in proper order, and it is a rare day when any of his animals get out.  He learned the hard way that it is no fun to have creatures running around at night on busy roads.  So he has a high tensile fence that has electric on the inside of it, nearly all the way around his pasture.  He has a four foot high board fence that runs for a short distance between buildings, and he keeps all his fences in good repair.  He has a large back pasture,well fenced, where he allows the animals to run around and graze, but it is behind the chicken houses, and out of deference to CMW, who cannot see back there from the house, he decided to confine them on the smaller, front pasture,where they could get into the barn if they wanted to.

The morning was so pleasant that the windows were open in the house, and all morning, Second Fellow was protesting loudly.  Around eleven o’clock, he sounded louder and nearer, and Youngest Daughter of CM and CMW went to look what was going on.

“Oh, my goodness, MOM, there is a bull out.  A BIG Bull.  Oh, my, it is one of the big ones, Mom!!!”

Certain Man’s Wife went out the back door to the deck, and sure enough, there was Second Fellow, prancing across the yard.  Behold, her heart made a very fast trip to her shoes.  He looked so determined and “bullish.”   She looked around for ammunition, and laid her hands upon a Stanley broom that was conveniently leaning against the deck.  She hollered for Youngest Daughter to call her father, and took out across the yard as fast as her 50 year old body would allow her.  In the past,getting animals back into their pens has been challenging but not impossible,and she had a great deal of optimism as to how quickly she would conquer again.

But something had happened to Second Fellow.  He had caught wind of a heifer in heat who belonged to a neighbor.  He was determined to seek her out.  By this time, Friend Alma had seen the predicament, and had come to join the fray. CMW sent Youngest Daughter out to the cow pen to open the gate.  Youngest Daughter thoughtfully locked the two younger (now) steers in the barn, and opened the large gate wide to the front pasture.  Friend Alma’s young son stood on the deck and yelled.

Second Fellow saw two determined humans coming across the yard, and was suddenly urged to run in the direction of the road.  He lowered his head and charged blindly toward the poorly armed females who were supposed to be directing him in the way that he should go.  Whop! Went the broom, scarcely making contact, but diverting him slightly. Friend Alma and CMW ran to and fro, trying to herd obstinate Second Fellow towards the barn.  Every time they achieved a few yards, down would go the head, and with a bellow, back the bull would charge.  CMW noticed that he was not kicking up any dirt with his bellow, but it did not comfort her heart very much.  It occurred to her that there were many guardian angels standing between the bull and the two inadequately armed females, for time and time again, he would head for them, only to turn aside in the nick of time.  Unfortunately, it was pretty obvious who was winning the battle of the wills despite angelic protection.

After perhaps five or six time of attempting to head him off at the road, kindly neighbor, Eddie,noticed that there was considerable difficulty going on in the yard across the road.  He and neighbor Steve left their task of putting siding on the house and came to help.  One of them had a stick, and CMW had her faithful Stanley broom, but otherwise the crew was unarmed.

Said CMW, “I surely do wish Daniel would get here!”

Said Kindly Neighbor Eddie, “What would he do?  Does he have a secret?”

“Not that I know of,” said CMW heatedly, “but it would be HIS problem!”

About then, Kindly Neighbor Eddie’s wife,Joan, appeared to lend her strong arm, and a shiny  red convertible also stopped.  Friend Bethany had seen the dilemma and decided to help, too.  CMW thought ruefully that RED was not especially the color that she had in mind for the present situation, but there was no doubt that help was needed, so she welcomed the extra body.  By now there were fully seven people in hot pursuit of seemingly demented bull.

They managed to chase Second Fellow up the chicken house lane for a short distance, when he suddenly caught on to the idea that it was not the right direction.  He turned and lowered his horns and headed back out the drive.  Sticks and brooms and bodies had no effect upon him whatsoever, and the posse scattered before him in grave disarray.  He headed out towards the road again, and then turned and trotted along the edge of the fenced woods where he was sure that his intended was hiding.  He bellowed and stopped and sniffed and bellowed and trotted.  Of course, all the traffic on the busy road beside CM’s farm were beginning to take note, and cars were going by slowly while gawking at the motley crew, and some were pulling off to see if there was something they could do.  Chicken trucks and work vans, jalopies and mini vans, town cars and meter readers got all jammed up on the road.  CMW’s face was as red as a turkey gobbler, and not just from exertion.  WHY DIDN’T CERTAIN MAN COME HOME???

Then the owner of the heifer, Neighbor Willey, came forth from his house down the road.  He had probably heard rather than seen the hubbub, guessed what the problem was, and secured offending female far from the site of the battle.  He picked up a sturdy stick and came to help, too.

With his approach, Second Fellow decided to turn around and head back up the fence line towards Shady Acres.  With great difficulty and many yells and whops with the weapons, the Bull was directed towards the back pasture.  CM had been called again, and he informed frantic Youngest Daughter that he was heading for home (in earnest with his state truck and his flashers going). CMW was pretty sure that they would be getting the bull in right before he got there, and that is exactly what happened.  Just before he sped in the lane, Neighbors Eddie and Steve managed to drive him into the back pasture and hook up the electric fence.

Things started to calm down a little then.  CMW was panting and tired, and the neighbors were saying friendly things about how “That’s what neighbors are for…” and CM was going back to bring Second Fellow to the front pasture and secure him there.  CMW was heading out towards the barn when she saw Second Fellow come around the edge of the barn at a gallop.  At this inopportune time, she remembered that she did not know how he had escaped in the first place.  It suddenly occurred to her that the two little ones had been inside the fence the entire time he was out.  It didn’t make sense.  A great feeling of dread came over her as she saw him make a straight bee-line for the four foot wooden fence.  Was there a break in it somewhere?  She watched in disbelief as Second Fellow trotted up to the fence and in one smooth motion was OVER it!  If it hadn’t been so terrible, it would have been beautiful. A perfect Olympic jump.

Believe me, there was some shrieking going on then! Certain Man jumped in his truck and headed out the chicken house lane,trying to head him off.  If it had been his own pick up instead of his work truck, he said that he would have run into the critter, but since he needed to be careful with the state’s property, he was unable to stop him.  Once again, out on the road,traffic stopped, and neighbors running and helping.  CMW was inclined to go inside and pretend that she wasn’t home,but she ran and herded and whopped with her faithful Stanley broom until the entire group had successfully herded him to the entrance to the pasture.

Certain Man had gotten out his blacksnake whip and was making good use of it.  Just before going through the gate, Second Fellow made a mighty dash for freedom.  Certain Man snapped him soundly with the blacksnake whip, but lost his footing and fell into a very green, very stinky body of water that was left over from the latest rain.  His efforts to divert the bull were effective, though, and while he picked himself out of the muck, the neighbors closed in and Second Fellow went back into the pasture.

CMW and Friend Alma and Neighbor Willey, and Neighbor Eddie and his Good Wife Joan, took up positions along the board fence.  Good Wife Joan held the black snake whip, CM held the faithful Stanley broom and the guys stood there and looked MENACING. Youngest Daughter went into barn and called cheerfully to Second Fellow with promises of FEED.  Certain Man gave her instructions from the pasture. Second Fellow was drawn by the cheery voice.  He was tired from so much running.  He ambled over and looked in the door.  He went in a few feet.  She continued to coax and call him from behind the feed bunker.  Certain Man sidled over, out of sight, while she wove her deceptive web.  Finally, Second Fellow was far enough in to shut the metal gate behind him.  Oh,NO!  It was hooked to the wall.  Second Fellow acted like he was going to go out again.  Youngest daughter took advantage of the situation to scramble into the pen and unhook the gate so it could swing free, then went back to her wheedling, cajoling call.  Again, the pull was strong, and Second Fellow turned back towards the feed bunk.

Certain Man, muddy and stinky looked at the great mud hole between him and the gate and did not waver a single moment.  Good work shoes and all, he plowed through the mud that was deeper than his shoes and grabbed the gate.  Second Fellow made one final dash for freedom,but CM hollered mightily.  When Second Fellow paused, CM clanged the gate shut, and this time the offending animal wasfully trapped.  Metal bars and chains and cement would need to be moved for him to escape this time.

“Whew!” said everyone.

“That was fun,” said Good Wife Joan.  “Quite a diversion from a boring afternoon.”

Neighbor Eddie and Neighbor Willey did not say much.  CMW noticed that they were looking positively cheerful, though.

“I’m glad I was here!” said Friend Alma.  “I’ve had lots of experience chasing animals when I was a girl!”

“You aren’t half as glad as I am,” said CMW.  “What would I have ever done without help?”

“That’s what neighbors are for…” said Good Wife Joan, again.

“Well,” said CMW, “I am quite certain of one thing.  There is going to be a steak dinner one of these days and everyone who helped is going to be invited!”

That was well received, and the neighbors went back to their jobs and CMW went back into the house to cool off and rest her weary bones. CM, after making double sure of everything in the barn, came back into the house to change his clothes and shoes and to go back to work.  He would have to call this time at home his lunch hour for the day, and CMW felt sorry for him.  But the bull was in, he was cleaned up, and he could get into his air conditioned truck and leave.  That didn’t sound like too bad a deal to CMW.  She needed to keep on getting ready for the coming inspections.  But first, she needed to write a story.

So, that is the news from Shady Acres, where Certain Man is working on a new electric fence that will compliment a particular board fence, Certain Man’s Wife’s face still feels hot and her knees feel weak, and Youngest Daughter is the only one of the children who was witness to the events of this momentous day.

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Smart Phone Woes

Certain Man and Certain Man’s Wife have been old sticks in the mud when it come to their flip phones.  There never was any reason to change.  The phones had been loyal, dependable and very sturdy friends.  CMW actually washed hers in the washing machine.  One time a whole cycle.  But it was put into the rice remedy and continued to work without complaint.

However, the offspringin’s prevailed upon their parents and offered help and assistance and both Certain Man and his wife became to owners of one of the smart phones– something “6-ish.”  (CMW honestly does not know its proper name.)

Anyhow, said phone has proven to be very helpful in the many messages to siblings and offspringin’s and keeping up with things when CMW was away from home.  And she was especially delighted with the way there were suggestions for words across the top of the screen when she was messaging, because it cut down on the time considerably.  A great invention, indeed.  She came to rely heavily upon the given suggestions.

Too heavily.

With Sweet Mama being so sick, and a history of things being needed, it came to pass that CMW had the cell number of the beloved family Doctor.  On rare occasions, she would employ this for things that were needed at inopportune times, and this morning was one of those times.  She texted a message to Dr. Wilson, and about a half an hour later, her texted back a short, but very welcome, “DONE.”

Now CMW does not take such things for granted, and so she texted back, “Thanks, Dr. Wilson.  YOU DA BEST!!!”

At least that was what she thought she had texted.

The morning wore on, there was laundry to do, other messages to field and then there was the time when she suddenly noticed the text that she had actually sent to the good physician.

“Thanks, Dr. Wild One.  YOU DA BEST!!!”

Oh, dear!!!   Oh, Dear!!!  Oh, Dear!!!

She still thinks the good doctor is one of the best, but “Wild” is not a word that would be appropriate for this particularly steady, southern Delaware family doctor.

CMW is going to just blame it on that smarty-pants phone.


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To think it Happened in Wal-mart.

I had just found a cart that seemed to work okay and was heading into Wal-Mart to do some quick shopping.  I stopped to look at a display right inside the door beside Dunkin’ Donuts when a young man walked up and stood maybe six feet away from me.  He had a buzzed haircut, and was nice looking.

“Excuse me, miss,” he said.  My kids say I never know a stranger, and I smiled at him.  “Would you possibly have change for a twenty?”  He held a folded twenty dollar bill in his hand, “My nephew wants to play the arcade and it won’t take a twenty.  I’d pretty much settle for any kind of change — two tens, four fives or a mix.  I could stand in line, but I would like to not have to wait that long.”

I almost never carry change like that, but I was pretty sure that I had some this time.  Not a bunch, but probably at least a ten and two fives or something.  “I just might,” I said to him, digging for my wallet.  “Let me see.”  I scrounged  around in the depths of the big old purse that I had plunked into the seat of the cart.  I found it, peered inside, and sure enough, there were two tens.

“I do have it,!” I said triumphantly.  I handed him the two tens and he gave me the folded money.  And bee-lined it out the door.  H-m-m-m-m.  The arcade was in the other direction.  Oh, well, Maybe it wasn’t the Wal-mart Arcade.  I started to stuff the twenty into my wallet when I suddenly noticed that it felt strange. I unfolded the bill and saw that it was laminated on one side.  It looked mostly okay, but that lamination really bothered me.  The bill was extremely raggedy under the lamination.  I was immediately suspicious, but the young man was long gone.

I pushed my cart through the store having imaginary arguments and conversations with the young man.  Things I could have said or things I could have done.  I pretty much covered the gamut and still came up with the conclusion that  I had probably just been stiffed out of twenty bucks.  I thought momentarily about trying to use it to pay part of my bill at the checkout, but decided that it might be better to just take it into a bank.  I didn’t want to get arrested to for trying to pass a counterfeit bill.   I brought it home and showed it to whomever would look at it.  Almost no one was willing to state unequivocally one way or another  Then I showed it to my friend who works in the money center at Wal-mart, and told her my story.  Emma is a sharp cookie.  She would NEVER be stuck like that.  She held it in her hand, felt it, held it up to the light and finally said, “I’m sure it’s a fake, Mary Ann.  It doesn’t have a water mark.  And it doesn’t feel right, though it might be the tape they have on it.”

I decided that the next time I went to the bank, I would see what they had to say.

So today, on my way home from Sweet Mama’s house, I took my twenty dollar bill into the bank and told my story.

“It looks fine to me,” said the young teller.  “Someone probably just taped it because it is so ratty.”  She felt it, looked at it, and then called the other teller over.  “What do you think?” She asked the other gal,  “Is this real or is it fake?”

“It looks fine to me,too,” said the other teller, “but let me take it back to see what they say back there.  I’m pretty sure it is okay.  And if it is, we will trade you out a good one for this one and take this one out of circulation.”

For just a little bit, I felt relieved.  My faith in human nature was starting to revive.  I took care of some other business while I waited for the second teller to return.  Just as we were finishing up, she came back out, holding the twenty and looking apologetic.

“I’m so sorry,” she said.  “It isn’t legit.  And I’m also so sorry, but we can’t give it back to you.  When a counterfeit bill comes through, we are required by law to confiscate it and send it to the authorities.”  She showed me the back of the bill, then and two long brown marks crossed over the back of it.  “If it was good,” she said, “these marks would have instantly turned yellow, but they didn’t change at all.  I’m so sorry!”

“That’s fine,” I said, glad that I was given some time to suspect the truth.  “I was pretty sure that it wasn’t any good.  But I’m also pretty sure that I’ve given money to just as worthless a cause in other situations, and this will be okay.  It makes me sad, because of the deception and the dishonesty, but it is the way it is, and it will be okay.”

The teller murmured something about, “Never knowing, maybe it is being paid forward,” but I wasn’t sure how it applied in this situation.  I gathered my things and came on home.

I’ve been doing some thinking about that money the rest of this day.  Wondering what it was used for.  Sometimes wishing I knew — but usually glad I don’t.  And I don’t know,  Maybe it got used for something good and wholesome eventually.  I don’t know.  But I can hope.

But I also am choosing to  just let it go.  There were numerous places along the way where God could have raised a warning flag in my heart, or stopped me somehow, and He didn’t.  (Or, at least I didn’t hear Him– which, sadly might be more likely.)  So even though I am tempted to think of the good that I could have done with that twenty dollars, I am choosing not to even go there.  For one thing, I probably wouldn’t have specified it for “good.”  I’ve been known to use twenty dollars rather quickly in A.C. Moore or Barnes & Noble or Hobby Lobby or Michael’s.  And it is rather exciting to think about just where that money might be going and how God is going to use it.  Because I did pray for that young man and dedicated both him and the money to God  in those first minutes after the money was out of my hand, and I believe that God can use even desperate people and ill-gotten, misdirected money for His Glory. And I may as well trust Him.  I can’t really think of anything better to do.

And so,my heart will glory in a God who sees, who cares, and who tells us “not to trust in uncertain riches but gives us richly all things to enjoy.” (1 Timothy 6:17)  This is more than enough for me.

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Unexpected in the Miele

One of the things I do daily in this household of five (and sometimes six) is unload the dishwasher.  It is just one of those things that needs to be done, and I often combine a phone chat while I’m doing it to distract me from the mundane.  So, the other day I was on the phone with someone (if it was YOU would you please remind this fur brain) and I had finished the first rack and was on the middle rack (my Miele model has three levels) that holds mostly cups and drinking glasses and measuring cups and then lids stuffed in among the drinking utensils (so that they can stay upright and are not as apt to collect water).  Between the water and juice and coffee and tea, this rack is always the first to fill up.

Things were moving cheerfully along and I was in fine spirits until I reached for something to put away and I saw the strangest thing.  There was this thing!  A greyish lumpy thing, hung up over one of the grids of the dishwasher rack.  It looked like a small, melted mouse, all hung up and drowned, hung up on a wire.  Its long, skinny tail hung down dejectedly.

I felt sick.  I gingerly pinched its back where it was doubled over the vinyl covered strand and pulled it off, trying not to gag. It was very soft and squishy.  What about that load of dishes, now mostly put away?  How had a mouse gotten into my dishwasher?  I felt like not looking at it, but this thing begged my attention.


It wasn’t a mouse.  It was a large tea bag.  The string trailed its deceptive ruse of a tail, as the grey-brown bag hung from my pinched fingers.


Oh, well.  That’s actually a better scenario.  I put the offending tea bag in the trash and went back to my job.  Nothing like the unexpected to break up the monotony of an ordinary job.

In other news, the first big bouquet of lilacs is on the table, making the house smell wonderful.  How I am enjoying these glorious days of spring!


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One Left Behind

Our chickens went out today.  It has been a mess, to be honest.  They were scheduled for yesterday, and Certain Man had asked for the day off.  Then, as things are wont to do, things got messed up at the plant, and so they were delayed a day.  Certain Man had a mandatory seminar today from 8-4, and even though he could “run home” at lunch, nothing makes up for the farmer being on the property.  Of course, everything went wrong.

For one thing, the wife of Certain Man has not had much experience with raising the water lines in preparation for the catch.  And the water lines are the things that are left down until the last minute.  Certain Man instructed her in the things that needed to be done in case he wasn’t home, and she duly noted everything — except she failed to notice that there are EIGHT sections per house that need to go up.  I still do not know how this was missed.  If she looked down the row and there were still water lines to go up, she should have know to put them up!  Right!  Well, I didn’t.  I was thinking that there were four feed lines that usually go up — (they were already up) and I took that Milwaukee Hole Hog that almost shook my teelh loose, and ran those drinker lines right up, being careful not to bend the stand pipes.  I checked things carefully, turned off the water as instructed, and took the drill and put it away, because we have had catching crews that took things and we really didn’t want that to happen.  And then I went back to the house.

When Certain Man got home, he found a very disgruntled crew leader.  It seems that they had to roll up four lines of drinkers without the benefit of the electrical appliance.  Certain Man apologized for his wife’s oversight, but then found two manual cranks in the litter by a wall.  And they weren’t his cranks.  They were the old style cranks that often have a nail replacing a bolt near the handle.  Certain Man, some years back, ran one of those vicious nails into his hand, causing great damage.  It also caused him to go forth and purchase cranks that were steel, one piece, all good quality, that would not inadvertently damage him.  Someone had taken his good cranks and replaced them with these old cranks.  One was even badly bent.  He was more than a little upset.

“These are not my cranks!” he said to the crew leader.

“I got them in your chicken house,” the man said.  “I got one over there and one over here.”

“I tell you, these are not my cranks!  Mine are fairly new, all one piece, going down so there is no nail in them.”

The man was unmoved.  “They are yours,” he said again.  “I got them in your house.”

“They are NOT MINE.  And somebody had better give me back my cranks before they leave here today.”

Of course, they didn’t.

And then there were so many big beautiful chickens just lying dead.  Over sixty in each house, for no apparent reason.  Certain Man’s birds are big.  Probably close to nine pounds a piece.  I saw the wheels turning in his head as he calculated his losses.  “That is half a ton of chicken,” he sad to me sadly.  “And that can make a bunch of difference.”

He went back out to chicken house to finish up for the night.  Around nine o’clock he came in.  He was walking slow, the weariness pulling him back on his heels, his eyes were grey and tired behind the chicken house dust.

“There’s one big beautiful chicken out there that is alive,” he said.  “I don’t suppose you want to do anything with it.”

“Sure, I want it,” I said.  “I’ll just go and quick butcher it and it can soak in salt water overnight.”

“Well, if you are going to do it, you’re going to have to do it alone.  I am just too tired.  I’ll go get it for you, but I don’t think I can do any more.”

“That will be fine,” I said.  “I’ll get some water started, and if you go get it, that’s all I need from you.”  He helped me get the big pot down from the high shelf and then went out.  I got the water started and then went out to see how things were going.  He already had the hapless victim hanging from the twine hangers on the side of our old garage.  The chicken appeared to be calmly surveying the surroundings, oblivious to the fact that time was fast running out for him.

“I want the water hot before I kill it,” I say to my spouse.  He looks relieved.  Butchering chickens is not his department — especially the part where the head leaves the body.  “I think we will just let it hang for a bit and I’ll get the water and come back out.”

“Then if you don’t mind, I think I’ll go get a shower and call it a day.”

“That’s fine, Daniel.  It’ll be okay.”

My knife was sharpened to a fine, cold flint.  I do not like to kill chickens, and I especially do not like it when they look at me just before I cut their heads off.  It was dark tonight, and I usually find the space in the neck and make a quick sharp draw and it is over.  And because I do it more by feel that by eyeballing it, I often shut my eyes once the knife is in place.  Which I did tonight — right after I caught the beady eye of my victim looking at me.  I shut my eyes and with one swift slice, the head was off, and on the ground and I was out of the way.  It made me feel so sick.  But there is always the next thing to do, so once he stopped moving, I took the headless chicken off the twine hanger and plunged him into the boiling water.  I got a good scald on him, hung him back up, and the feathers came off relatively easily.  And then I took him down again, rinsed him off, dumped my bucket of water, severed his feet and carried him into the kitchen.

Middle Daughter came home from a Hospice call about that time and when she heard I was going to butcher a chicken, she was daft enough to want to be involved.  She is a game helper (pun intended) in this situation, and once the pin feathers were off, she went to it.  Conversation was lively, and it wasn’t too long before the neck, liver, heart and gizzard were submerged in a sink  of iced salt water along side a fat, beautiful chicken.

“What are you going to do with it? asked Certain Man, on his way through the kitchen to get something to drink.

“I think I’m going to have it for Sunday dinner,” I say.  We are expecting company and it is a fairly large group.

Certain Man looked down at that chicken and his eyes clouded over.  “I wouldn’t think that would be enough to feed everybody,” he said dubiously.

“I did think of roasting it and having stuffing,” I said, “but I think I will just cook it and take it off the bones and have chicken-etti.”

That pleased him, as this particular casserole is an old family favorite that can feed a crowd.  I finished putting some stuff away, and decided it was time for me to get some shut-eye, too.  It’s been a busy week at Shady Acres, and tomorrow!  Ah, tomorrow, I am going away (just overnight) for a Beth Moore conference with some of my favorite people.

I can hardly wait!

My heart gives grateful praise.


Filed under Stories from the Household of CM & CMW

Beyond the glitz

It is Valentines Day in the good old USA.  People everywhere are speaking of their wonderful Valentines and the wonderful gifts they have been given.  Certain Man’s Wife has been guilty of the same.  Her heart was delighted with two dozen multi-colored roses delivered on Thursday afternoon — ahead of the rush.  Practical as ever, Certain Man has found that it’s a WHOLE lot cheaper to order on line and have things delivered ahead of time.

This morning, standing in the kitchen, Youngest Daughter rehearsed her good friend, Anna Downing’s take on Valentines Day — that it is a day to tell everyone you love that you love them and to say something noteworthy about them in the love message.  Youngest Daughter got one this morning thanking her for being a good friend and wishing her a happy Valentines Day.

I like that very much.

I also got to thinking about the  ways Certain Man has tied the stuff that life is made of to speaking love to his unobservant and often clueless spouse.

For one thing, he has loved our children so intently(I did mean intently) and well.  Certain Man is not perfect and does not claim to be, but his children had better not hear anyone rehearse his faults.  I’ve seen his children struggle with having Christian Charity towards people who have, however unwittingly, said or done things that have hurt their Dad, and it is no small thing to them.  (They tend to rise up snarling!)  Certain Man did not get that kind of loyalty and love by being a selfish or distant father.  He draws them into his interests and into sharing his serving heart.  For example, this morning he hooked his trailer to his farm pickup, loaded his tractor, corralled Middle Daughter and Youngest Daughter and headed up the road to stack wood for an older man in our church who is having a tough time.  I looked at my girlies and knew that the last thing in the world they wanted to do this morning was go out in this bitter cold and pick up wood, but there was not a single word of complaint.  “Sure Dad,” they said, and grabbed gloves and old sweatshirts and warm tzibble kops and piled into the old truck and away they went.  He was jovial and exclaiming loudly about any of a number of things.  They were marching to their father’s music and “ever’thin’ was good.”

That is something that always melts my heart.  In this day when there are so many fathers who refuse to be dads and so many fathers who name the Name of Christ but whose hearts selfishly demand to be first or best or most, this Certain Man has never — and I truly do mean NEVER– made me choose between serving him or meeting a child’s needs.  I sought to put him first, would often protest when he would encourage me to comfort a child or talk late to a teen or take a late night phone call from a adult child.  “It’s fine, Hon,” he would/will say.  “Don’t worry about it.  There’ll be time later.”

This evening, we went out for a Valentines Day early dinner, and looking back on our trek, I have to smile when I think about how this evening could sort of define not only this man, but our marriage.  Certain Man worked all day at one thing and then another, reminding me now and then that we were going out to eat “somewhere” and “sometime before it gets too late.”  And also, “Maybe we could pick up those shop lights at Lowe’s when we are out.”  He had helped Gary and Elaine with their firewood, he had taken extra care of his animals and equipment because of the cold,  He had noted that some of the bird feeders were getting empty and he filled the feeders and replenished the suet hangers.  It was a great aggravation when ACE Hardware was out of, not only ear corn but out favorite “nutsie” block that we particularly like for woodpeckers and for diverting the squirrels from other feeders, but he decided that we would look at Lowe’s when we got there.

So, along about four o’clock this afternoon, we got on our way.  He had decided Outback! and I had gotten him a good gift card for there for Christmas, and there is a Lowe’s in this Lewes town, so he thought it would be the best destination.  Heading down Route 1 to Lewes, he surprised me by suddenly getting into the left hand lane and turning on to the road to Argos Corner.

“I’m just gonna’ see,” he said, “if I can figure out where they live.”  We both knew of whom he spoke — “Our Kids” as we’ve been wont to call them over the past few years.  They were homeless for almost two years, shuttling between counties and motels and trouble until about a month ago when they landed in a trailer “where the store had burned” in this small Sussex County community.  I had made a trip through a couple of weeks ago, but hadn’t been able to discern which trailer was theirs.  But Certain Man has discerning powers that I lack, and the trailer was soon found.

“That’s it, right there!” Said Certain Man.

“I guess it is,” I agreed.  “Same vehicle, and look!  He still has his old classic car.”

I noted the completely curtained windows, the big “No Trespassing” sign in the window.  He noted that the trash was already beginning to pile up in back.  Certain Man made a U-turn at the deserted intersection and we resumed our trip to Lewes, considerably more pensive than we had been.  Traffic was heavy as we came into the seaside town, and as we pulled into the turn lane that went to Outback, I noted the crowded parking lot.

“I’ll have trouble finding a parking place,” said Certain Man, “So I’ll just drop you off at the door and you can put our names in and then I’ll come on in.”  He pulled up to the curb and I bailed out, and went in.  The waiting area was crowded, and a hostess took my name and handed me a buzzer.

“Do you know how long the wait is?” I asked when I could get an word in edgewise.

In response to a quick question, a harried looking co-hostess looked up briefly and said, “60-70 minutes.  At least.”  I clutched the buzzer and decided to go and talk to Certain Man.  I looked all around the parking lot to no avail  and finally called him.

“Hon, it’s going to be a 60-70 minute wait.  We don’t want to wait that long, do we?”

“No way!  I’m having to park way out in the far parking lot anyhow, and I wondered how long a wait it was going to be.  I’ll be right back up to pick you up.  Let’s go up to Cracker Barrel and see how long that wait will be.”  And that was just fine with me.  I happened to have even better gift cards to Cracker Barrel.

“Go in and see how long the wait,” said Certain Man five minutes later as we pulled into the parking lot.  “I’ll go park.”

“Maybe five minutes,” said the pleasant hostess at the crowded Cracker Barrel.  “Not long.”

I put our names in under “Daniel” and called him with the news.  Actually, by the time he was walking across the parking lot, he heard them page us for our table.  We had a very nice time at our “early” dinner.  He had fish, I had chicken.  (Is anyone who knows us surprised?)  The conversation was good, and I even sent a picture of Certain Man and a short note to his children:

Me and my Valentine went to Outback to dine.
60-70 minutes to wait just wasn’t fine.
Off to Cracker Barrel we go-
got seated just so-
and decided that we wouldn’t whine.

(Poor rhyme, I know, but I was in the middle of organizing  it into something impressive when Certain Man proceeded to tell me about a restaurant that gives a percent off if you do not use any electronic devices while in the establishment and I considered that a hint to put my cell phone away!  Besides, we had plenty to talk about.)

We did not linger long over our meal, and soon we were on our way to Lowe’s to pick up lights for the shop that Certain Man has been working on for some time now.  First, we got a bag of ear corn, and a mealyworm cake and feeder for our beloved Bluebirds and then we picked out four shop lights and the bulbs for them.  Then I waited while Certain Man looked for hinges to fix a cupboard door that has been giving his orderly soul distress.  I looked at our loaded cart, thought about this Valentines Day Date and it made me laugh.  I just really like this guy  who is always taking care of farm and family and birds and people.  He made one more stop at the Best ACE Hardware in Lewes where he found the seed, nut and fruit roll that he wanted and we bought TWO so we wouldn’t run out, and finally we were done.

We came home in the cold winter twilight to our warm house and the lights of home.  We unloaded the shop lights and then he fixed the door that was bothering him, bedded down his animals for the cold winter night, checked his chickens, put pellets in the pellet stove, went up to Gary’s and filled his outdoor furnace as full of wood as it would hold, put out his corn and the other bird seed that he had gotten and puttered around pondering many things.

He has no idea how loved the ordinary things of this day have made me feel.

And so I thought about this man that I’ve loved for so long- and it reminded me of a song of that Steve and Annie Chapman sang.

(Wherever the seasons of life find this Certain Man, I still pick him!)

Seasons of a Man

I am the springtime, when everything seems so fine

Whether rain or sunshine, you will find me playing

Days full of pretending, when a dime is a lot to be spending

A time when life is beginning, I am the springtime


I am the summer, when days are warm and longer

And the call comes to wander, but I can’t go far from home

When the girls become a mystery, and you’re barely passing history

Thinking old is when you’re thirty, I am the summer


I am the autumn days, when changes come so many ways

Looking back I stand amazed that time has gone so quickly

When love is more than feelings, its fixing bikes and painting ceilings

Its when you feel a cold when coming, I am the autumn days


I am the winter, when days are cold and bitter

And the days I can remember number more than the days to come

When you ride instead of walking, and you barely hear the talking

And goodbyes are said too often, I am the winter

But I’ll see spring again in heaven, and it will last forever.

(You can listen to this here:






Filed under home living, Stories from the Household of CM & CMW

Of sons and cold and long ago days

This was written in January, 2008.  I was reading it this morning and thinking about my sons — and how neither of them are working in the cold at this point, and how life changes so much.  The years have a way of marching on, and it seems like decades since our lives were like this.  I was going to say that the one thing that never changes is the love that we have for our children.  But that isn’t true.  It is true that we always love them, but how we love them changes almost as much as everything else.  I love our sons — I always will.  And I still pray for them.  But the days of sprinkling love over the lunch sandwiches are long, long gone.  🙂

Today was one of those Delaware days.
The temperature is low.
There is a mean wind blowing.


I make swiss cheese and ham sandwiches in the early morning light.
I think about the men my sons have become.
Heading out into the extreme cold.  Learning hard life lessons.
Construction work in Delaware is not for softies.


Through the day, their job comes to mind over and over again.
When I step out of the warmth of the car to the doctors office with my Audrey-Girl.
When I come back out and the force of the wind hits me square
And seems to go right through me. 


I pull my flapping jacket closer around me, and find there is no real warmth
Against this biting, cutting wind.
I pray the Lord to make them strong.  And cautious.  And wise.  And full of optimism.
I pray the Lord to provide respite from the wind.
I pray against bitterness, discouragement and despair.


They tumbled in tonight.  The coffee was on.
“J’amaican Me Crazy”  blend from Dolce’s swirled its comforting smell out to the back door.
Pork Barbecue was in the oven.  Martin Potato Rolls on the cupboard.
They started to “unpeel” and I had to laugh.
Plastic Wal-mart bags around shoes inside boots.
Work pants came off.  Then sweat pants.  Then work shorts. Then there were flannel pajama bottoms.
(Whatever happened to long underwear???)
I see Youngest Son curling up beside the burning flame of the pellet stove.
Oldest Son tending to the “foreman” responsibilities of truck and fellow employees before allowing himself the luxury of warm house and lounging clothes.


Tonight they soak up the warmth and the fire and the comfort of home.
Tomorrow is to be even colder.  And tomorrow they go back out to the job.
It no longer is my responsibility to keep them warm and safe.
I will always be glad when they come home for warmth and food and comfort and encouragement.
But tonight, I know those days are seriously numbered.
And that is okay.  It is the way of Men.
And they are men.  They don’t even love me best of all anymore.

And so, I pack the lunches with a prayer.
I remember the days when I would take my hand and pretend to sprinkle “love” into their food.
It made them laugh.
They are way too big for that trick now.
What they don’t know is that, even though my hand is still,
My heart is sprinkling love all over those Swiss cheese and ham sandwiches.


And I will always love them.


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Filed under home living, Stories from the Household of CM & CMW

Of Laundry Lights and Wifely Plights and Husband’s Might

The light in our laundry room has been intent on driving me crazy!  For about a year it has been unreliable just often enough to make me threaten it and even sometimes whack it a time or two with a wooden spoon.  Following such displays of power, it usually would straighten up and fly right for a while.  But increasingly, over the last few months, it has not responded to authority.  I have stood at the light switch and turned it off and on and off and on for great lengthy sessions of gentle persuasion, and until just before the New Year, it would eventually come on.  But alas, I seem to have lost my touch.  Certain Man never needed “The Touch” it seemed.  Have any of you ever noticed how things work properly for the man of the house?  And malfunction with annoying regularity when they are nowhere to be found?

A few weeks ago marked a change in the light’s entire demeanor and attitude.  We had a few days of dimming and brightening, then some of that dreadful buzz, and finally NOTHING.  I don’t know about the rest of you,  but I really cannot function without a light in my laundry room.  I complained loudly and lengthily  mentioned it to Certain Man, and he found the sudden (!) demise unacceptable, too.  However, it chose to go out at an inopportune time and there was interference to fixing it, due to schedules and weekends, etc.. So I hauled a spare lamp in from the family room, put a nice, bright replacement bulb into it and “made do” with what I had.

Certain Man took the light apart and peered about at the innards of the receptacle.  He determined that there were some serious problems with the mechanism, but also that one of the long bulbs was burnt out.  He stood at the door of the laundry room and weighed his options.

“I think I will go into ACE Hardware and see what they have for a replacement light,” he finally decided.  “I can buy replacement bulbs for this one and it would probably work, but maybe not right.  I kinda’ think I would be happier with replacing the light.”

I was okay with whatever he decided.   I was sure that it would result in illumination of my laundry room, and I didn’t much care how he did it as long as it got done.  He went out  and came trudging back with two new light bulbs.  ACE Hardware didn’t have any replacement lights that pleased him.  He put the new bulbs in, tried the switch, and lo! And behold!  LIGHT!  I was ecstatic.  But he wasn’t.  He said, “We are going to have to replace that light.  It just has too much wrong with it.  I have a gift card to Lowes.  Maybe I will run in there one of these days and see what they have.”

A few days later, he came home with a box from Lowes that said “florescent ceiling lamp” on it.  I wondered whether he would put it up, or if he just had it on reserve in case he suddenly needed it.  But then the light in the laundry room started acting up again.  It was taking its sweet time about coming on, and when it did come on it was  sometimes dim.

“I don’t know, Sweetheart,”  I said to him the other day.  “That light in the laundry room isn’t acting right.  It takes a while to come on and its just not right somehow.”

“I know,” he said, looking thoughtful.  “I guess I am just going to have to change it.”

Over the next few days, I thought about it occasionally, especially when I moved the box to get something out of the closet in the entryway.  It honestly didn’t bother me very much.  Certain Man has been operating with four stitches in one finger, has gotten new chickens, and has been especially busy with deacon calls because of the extreme cold and Christmas and PEOPLE.   (He has also been dealing with a beleaguering weariness that troubles me, though I do think that some late night watching of his favorite sport, FOOTBALL, and in particular, his beloved Buckeyes, could have something to do with that.) But I knew he would get it done sometime.  Besides, once this faulty light was on, it did a fairly good job.

Then yesterday, I spent the day on Audrey, and besides that, pretty much just did what had to be done to get laundry washed, dried, folded and put away.  I went to bed before Certain Man finished watching those Buckeyes win their game.  This morning, I headed for Greenwood to pick up my Sweet Mama.  She had a dentist appointment, needed to get her glasses repaired following a bad fall at church over a week ago, and wanted to look for a new recliner for the one she has that is literally “letting her down on the side.”  We ate lunch and then I flew into Boscov’s to exchange some things from Linda’s’ Mother and sisters from Christmas.  Then I took Mama back home, filled her med box, went through some mail, stopped some things off at my Aunt Freda’s for my mama, and then came home to Shady Acres.

The house was unusually dark.  I peered through the dark laundry room, through the dark kitchen, on to the dark family room.  Middle Daughter was in her father’s recliner, listening to music with Blind Linda.

“Whew!  It sure is dark in here!” I said as I came into the dark kitchen and flipped on a few lights.  “Where’s Dad?”

“I don’t know.  I haven’t seen him,” said Middle Daughter.  She seemed unconcerned.

“His truck is in the pavilion,” I said.  “I saw it when I pulled into the lane.”  I went out to check, and he was in the truck, talking to his sister. He seemed uninclined to talk to me, so I wandered back in and went to trade my boots for my sandals.  I heard him come in.

“Where’s Mom?” I heard him ask Middle Daughter.

“I don’t know.  She was here–”

“I’m here,” I said, coming around the corner.

They were both looking at me with “the look.”  (I hate that look.  It means I missed something very important.)

“You didn’t even notice, did you?” Questioned my long suffering spouse.  “The light?”

“”I had all the lights turned off so she would turn it on,” said Deborah, “But she came on in and never even noticed.”

I turned to see the laundry room flooded with light.  A clean, new, gorgeous efficient light was shedding a wonderful clear light all over the room, giving it a whole new brightness.

And I was properly grateful and delighted and grateful and delighted, and said so over and over because, in truth, I WAS!


And my heart gives grateful praise for a husband who looks so well to the ways of this household.  I am so blessed.

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Filed under Stories from the Household of CM & CMW, Uncategorized

My Turn, My Book

One of the byproducts of reviewing Dorcas Smucker’s book is that people have remembered that I also have a book and I’ve had had a resurgence of (well, actually TWO) orders for my very own book.

A little over a year ago, I self published a book of stories that have happened right here in Delaware on this chicken farm that belongs to Certain Man and me.  I still have quite a few available — somehow it was cheaper to print 500 than it was to print 200.  Don’t ask me why, but that is how it works.  I discovered after I had self-published that most book sellers will not handle self-published books.  I will know better next time — if, in fact, there is a next time.  I will also look for a title that has a little more catch and a LOT less bulk.  🙂

But for now, this book is still available:

book front coverBook Back

The cost is $14.00 each if you pick it up at our house or have somewhere that I can drop it off.

If you want it mailed, shipping and handling is 2.50 for the first book and if you order more than one, each additional one is an extra .50 for shipping.

You can order it by sending a check to

Mary Ann Yutzy

7484 Shawnee Road

Milford, DE 19963

You can order it through my e-mail which is  However, my Beloved Son in Law has made it clear that I should have the check in hand before shipping the book — so I guess I had better listen to him.



Filed under Stories from the Household of CM & CMW