Spread the Joy
RSS
Follow by Email
Facebook
Facebook
Google+
Google+
http://redbarnblueskies.com/
Pinterest
Pinterest
LinkedIn
INSTAGRAM
Handmade Soap - Kids Soap, Glycerine Soap with Essential Oils
Follow Us


Follow

postheadericon Adjust Your Attitude, Find Your Balance, and Carry a Big Stick

I initially had a different post in mind for this week’s Sunday Selections, but the more I thought about it, the more I became refocused on a theme from a few weeks ago – Balance. It seems I wasn’t really finished with the topic.

In trying to find that elusive balance in my life, I regularly come across tons of advice on why you should find your balance. You’re told how important it is and what the benefits are, but never really any concrete ways of how to achieve it.

The experts may tell you to keep a journal, talk to someone, take a vacation or get a hobby, but that doesn’t really help me personally achieve anything. I’m not balanced, I’m far from it.

Our life has felt a little off kilter or tilted lately, always listing to one side or the other, never really tracking straight down the center. We’re looking to change that and find a little level ground. (notice the jousting references??) Which leads perfectly into today’s post…

Adjust Your Attitude, Find Your Balance, and Carry a Big Stick at Red Barn Blue Skies

Knights to the Rescue

This unbalanced theme became even more fixed in my head when I dug up these photos a few days ago. I took these pictures of our friends about eleven years ago and was afraid they’d been lost in one of our moves. It seemed to be destiny that I found them now as these jousting or “tilting” pictures illustrate perfectly – to me anyways, how balance (or lack of it) is ingrained in every part of our life. Kudos to karma and perfect timing as well!

Red Barn Blue Skies Mounted Knight for Find Your Balance

Just like most of us, these guys have been through a lot of changes in their lives, both personally and professionally. But, through everything, they’ve managed to remain upright and centered in the saddle or as my Dad says, “a foot on each side and your butt in the middle”.  Not always an easy feat.

Find Your Balance at Red Barn Blue Skies Knight 1

Now I’m not a jouster or a shiny knight, but I am an accomplished horsewoman and I do understand what it takes to stay in that saddle. Other than the obvious horsemanship, three attributes immediately come to mind: Attitude, Balance, and (Constant) Adjustment.

Knight Jousting on Buckskin Find Your Balance at Red Barn Blue Skies

Anyone who has been riding horses (or Harleys) for any amount of time will understand the importance and the relevance. But the thing is, you don’t have to be a rider or a knight to embrace these concepts. They pertain to all of us – every day.

Find Your Balance Adjust Your Attitude Carry a Big Stick Red Barn Blue Skies

Change Your Attitude

Your attitude can make or break you, your day, and even those around you. If you wake up spewing negativity and in a foul mood, you set the course and tone for the day. When a knight (or someone like me) has a bad attitude and mounts their horse, more often than not the horse will reflect that bad mood and behave accordingly.

Adjust Your Attitude Find Your Balance at Red Barn Blue Skies

Your attitude affects and impacts more than just yourself. If you don’t want that horse to bite you in the backside or have your boss fire you for being a smartass, change that attitude. Only you can make the conscious choice to do it. Attitude adjustment only happens when you’re willing to change. Of course, staying home is probably a good option for those kinds of days too.

“If you don’t like something,

change it.

If you can’t change it,

change your attitude.”

~ Maya Angelou

Find Your Balance

If there is one thing that can make or break a rider, it is their balance – or the loss of it. Whether you have four hammering hooves or two spinning wheels under you, if you don’t remain aware of your surroundings and balanced up on top, you’re headed for a big fall. Same goes for that rolling office chair.

Find Your Balance at Red Barn Blue Skies with Jousting Knights

Finding a harmonious way to balance your life on both the personal and professional fronts is necessary. While you may not literally fall on your face or have someone chasing you down horseback, your health can be affected, your relationships may suffer, and you might just miss out on the important moments in life.

Red Barn Blue Skies Mounted Knight on Buckskin Find Your Balance

Do yourself a favor and find what makes you happy. Each person must decide for themselves as it’s not a one-size-fits-all scenario. What brings me peace in my life may bore the heck out of the next person. Working a hectic 50 hour week and then partying all weekend might bring excitement and joy to someone else while it would push me over the edge. Different strokes.

“Life is like riding a bicycle.

To keep your balance,

you must keep moving.”

~ Albert Einstein

 

Make Constant Adjustments

Keeping your butt centered in the saddle of a charging 2000 pound, fire-breathing steed while balancing an 11-foot lance pointed at your opponent is not easy. And lest you forget, on top of this you’re wearing 100+ pounds of protective (and restrictive) armor – with obstructed/limited vision. Fun times..really.

Series 1 Red Barn Blue Skies Find Your Balance Jousting Knight

As you gallop down the list (the lane) towards your target (who is also pounding the ground towards you), a series of constant, minute adjustments are taking place – you continually shift and find your balance! If you don’t, it’s all over and the fat lady will sing – really loud.

Series 2 Find Your Balance Red Barn Blue Skies Jousting Knight

Your hard-won equilibrium can be thrown off by any number of things – your horse stumbling or adjusting his own balance, your saddle shifting, the lance moving from the wind, your opposing knight hitting you just right, the list goes on.

Red Barn Blue Skies Jousting Find Your Balance Series 3   Red Barn Blue Skies Lances Breaking in Joust Series 4 Find Your Balance

The point is, you must be in a perpetual state of adjustment – just like Sir Shiny Guy in all of the photos above. You’ll notice he is constantly repositioning the lance (and his butt in the saddle) as he progresses – that is until he shatters it against his opponent’s armor. Could you compensate and find your balance during all of this shifting and maneuvering?

Series 5 Find Your Balance Red Barn Blue Skies Jousting Knight

You don’t just plop in the saddle, run down the list and poke your nemesis knight or beloved cousin with your big stick. With all of the variables you might be faced with, you must be ready to change your tactics and your seat – in a split second. Your balance is in a constant state of flux – just like in real life. In order to take things head-on, you need to be flexible and ready to adjust.

“You’re going to face adversity.

It’s not if – it’s when.

You have to be able to adjust on the fly,

and that is what the great ones do.”

~ Andre Ward

Red Barn Blue Skies Find Your Balance Triumphant Knight

More Adjustments

All of these quotes really spoke to me today and seemed quite fitting for making changes as you go. Each is in just enough of a different voice to get the point across while saying pretty much the same thing. One might resonate with you while the others not so much. Again, different strokes.

“I can’t change the direction of the wind,

but I can adjust my sails to always reach my destination.”

~ James Dean

Red Barn Blue Skies Find Your Balance Jousting Knights 3

“When it is obvious that the goals cannot be reached,

don’t adjust the goals,

adjust the action steps.”

~ Confucious

Red Barn Blue Skies Find Your Balance Knight Photo

So how do you find your balance? Do you feel you’ve already achieved it? Let me know!

Learn More

If you want to learn more about modern day jousting and where to see it for yourself, check out The Knights of Mayhem. They’re pretty cool dudes.

Here are a few books from my recent reading list that may be of interest:

Body into Balance: An Herbal Guide to Holistic Self-Care – Maria Noel Groves

Yoga for Emotional Balance – Bo Forbes

Walk in Balance: The Path to Healthy, Happy, Harmonious Living – A Sun Bear Book

 

Adjust Your Attitude, Find Your Balance, Carry a Big Stick at Red Barn Blue Skies

postheadericon 5 Ways to Help Your Chickens Beat the Heat

With temperatures soaring to dangerous, record-breaking highs here in the middle of California, we are struggling to keep our animals cool(ish) and comfortable. We are constantly looking for ways to help the livestock and chickens beat the heat.

When the heat blows the top off of the thermometer, we have to come up with other methods of cooling the birds down – even to the point of housing them in an air-conditioned room. It is important to do everything we can to ensure the health and happiness of the critters in our care.

5 Ways to Help Your Chickens Beat the Heat from Red Barn Blue Skies

Internal Cooling System

Chickens operate with a higher core temperature than our own with a normal range around 104 to 107 degrees Fahrenheit. Because they don’t possess sweat glands, chickens are forced to pant in order to lower their body temperature. They will also hold their wings out so air can reach the bare skin under them.

Think about how it feels when your armpits are sweating and you raise them up – AHHHHHH.

Woman with Arms Raised at Red Barn Blue Skies

When the air is at least 10-15 degrees below their own temps, the birds can easily avoid being stressed by the heat. Contrary to the belief of many newbie chicken people, they actually do quite well in cold weather. But once the mercury rises, so does the danger.

The birds lose the ability to dissipate the heat on their own if their own temperature goes above 110 degrees or more. They can go from seemingly “ok” to severe distress in a matter of minutes.

So with that in mind, here are 5 ways you can help your chickens beat the heat.

Chicken Beat the Heat at Red Barn Blue Skies

Cool Fresh Water

As mentioned above, providing your birds/animals with fresh water that is cool enough to drink is the top priority – always. Notice the words in bold? COOL ENOUGH TO DRINK. You can have an entire pool in front of them, but if they can’t or refuse to drink it, it doesn’t do them any good.

Animals are just like us, if the water isn’t refreshing and is actually hot – we’re not going to drink it. Your animals not getting enough water is a critical problem as it contributes to dehydration as well as a higher core temperature.

Red Barn Blue Skies Chickens and Waterers

Place the waterers or pans in spots that are shaded all day, especially in the afternoon when it’s the hottest. If you can, have multiple watering areas and sources. Frequently topping off their water during the day with cold(er) water will help. Many people place ice cubes or bottles they’ve filled with water and then frozen, into the water pans or troughs. This helps keep the water cool enough for your birds to drink.

Poultry Vitamin and Electrolytes Help Chickens Beat the Heat

 

Adding an electrolyte solution to your birds’ water helps them replenish their stores and encourages them to drink more water. If you don’t have any poultry-approved electrolytes on hand, Gatorade or Pedialyte will definitely do in a pinch.

Added Airflow

If you are so equipped and set up, you actually could allow your birds to cool their heels in a coop that boasts some form of air conditioning. There are several ways to accomplish this:

Industrial Fans to Help Chickens to Beat the Heat at Red Barn Blue Skies

~ Evaporative or “swamp” cooler. These are fairly inexpensive and are a great way to cool off a building or room. They must have a continual water source as they cool by the process of evaporation. Keep in mind though, that once temperatures reach the century mark, they become less effective. Humidity is a side-effect of swamp coolers that can be unwelcome when there is already a lot of moisture in the air.

~Fans and misters are an even less expensive alternative and are well-suited for both inside the coops as well as out in the runs or pens. The idea is to keep the air moving and the misters or foggers bring the temps down even more. Don’t worry if your birds are scared of the system at first, it won’t be long before they’re standing right in front of the fans with their wings spread as if for take-off.

Turken in Mud as Chickens Beat the Heat at Red Barn Blue Skies

~Wetting down the ground can help cool your birds even without a fan’s assistance. As any air moves over the wet ground, it makes the surrounding area just a bit cooler.

~ Be sure to remove anything that might block airflow to your birds. This includes equipment, tarps, and even tall grass. The more air they have moving towards them, the easier it will be for the chickens to beat the heat.

Frozen Strawberry at Red Barn Blue Skies

Tasty (Frozen) Treats

Even if you’re not in the habit of giving your birds treats, frozen goodies can be a great way to help them cool off AND encourage them to drink more water.

A very popular method of accomplishing this is to freeze bits of fruit or vegetables such as frozen peas in ice cube trays. Placing these frozen cubes in the water dishes does double duty: as the ice melts, it cools the water and as the fruit or veggie becomes more visible, the birds will investigate and peck at them. This encourages them to take in more water, even if they didn’t intend to drink it.

Black Oil Sunflower Seeds Help Your Chickens Beat the Heat

Placing black oil sunflower seeds in water dishes and letting them float around also catches the birds’ interest. Besides alleviating boredom, they’re being induced to stick their beaks in the water to capture the seeds. Think “bobbing for apples” on a chicken-sized scale.

Dustbathing Chicken tries to Beat the Heat at Red Barn Blue Skies

Let Them Pretend to Be Ducks or Pigs

One of the things that might surprise you is that your chickens WILL stand in water to cool off. Using small dishpans, cement mixing trays, and even kiddie wading pools are a great way to give them an extra tool in the fight against the heat. Walking around in a couple of inches of water helps them cool off quickly.

Contrary to what you might see in the cute videos online, chickens really aren’t swimmers. Their feathers and down becomes soaked and heavy and they sink. If they can’t stand up in a body or puddle of water, they drown. Period.

Hen and Chicks at Waterer at Red Barn Blue Skies

So when you are offering your birds water to play or stand in, keep it shallow. If you have baby chicks running around, make sure they can’t hop into a pan of water and have no way to get out. If you can’t get around it, place a brick or rock or something they can climb onto until they’re rescued.

You’ll also want to keep an eye on any water troughs or barrels that you keep filled for your large animals. It is a horrible sight to find one of your birds drowned in the horse trough.

While it may sound funny, making a nice little mud hole really can make your birds happy. They will find a nice cool spot on the ground and root and roll around, just like a pig. So don’t be afraid to make a few mud puddles for your chickens to find and wallow around in. They’ll appreciate it.

Chickens Beat the Heat at Red Barn Blue Skies

Give Them (clean) Space

Overcrowding can be a huge issue when it’s hot. While it’s never a good idea to have your birds crammed into too-tight quarters, at least in the winter that extra warmth isn’t as deadly. The birds need to have room to spread their wings out and seek cooler, moving air.

Regarding the birds’ space, keep it clean. As manure and litter decompose, they produce heat and ammonia. By removing it on a regular basis, you can help keep this unwanted source of additional heat to a minimum – plus it’s healthier for all involved. It will also reduce the number of flies and other pests which only add to the stress of an already over-heated bird.

Help Your Chickens Beat the Heat in the Shade at Red Barn Blue Skies

 

In conclusion…..

The main thing to remember is to keep an eye on your birds and be vigilant. Start with plenty of shade and water and go from there. Most of these suggestions can be adapted to your other livestock, household pets, and even yourself.

Stay cool people and beat the heat this summer. Let me know if you have other ways of keeping your animals cool.

5 Ways to Help Your Chickens Beat the Heat

redbarnblueskies.com 5 Ways to Help Your Chickens Beat the Heat 2

postheadericon Butterfly Kisses for Dad on Father’s Day

Sunday Selections is a bit different today as I honor my Dad, my father-in-law Tony, and all the other fathers, stepdads, grampas, uncles, brothers and good men out there. Thank you for everything you’ve done and for being there all our lives.

This song called Butterfly Kisses makes me cry every time I hear it, but it fits how I feel and how I grew up. It’s such a beautiful tribute from a Daddy to his daughter. As a Daddy’s girl, I get it. So Happy Father’s Day.

Julie and Bill Dancing to Butterfly Kisses Red Barn Blue Skies

Butterfly Kisses

There’s two things I know for sure.
She was sent here from heaven,
and she’s daddy’s little girl.
As I drop to my knees by her bed at night,
she talks to Jesus, and I close my eyes.
And I thank God for all of the joy in
my life, But most of all, for…

Butterfly kisses after bedtime prayer.
Stickin’ little white flowers all up in her hair.
“Walk beside the pony daddy,
it’s my first ride.”
“I know the cake looks funny,
daddy, but I sure tried.”
Oh, with all that I’ve done wrong,
I must have done something right
To deserve a hug every morning,
And butterfly kisses at night.

Sweet sixteen today,
She’s looking like her momma
a little more everyday.
One part woman, the other part girl.
To perfume and makeup,
form ribbons and curls.
Trying her wings out
in a great big world. But I remember…

Butterfly kisses after bedtime prayer.
Stickin’ little white flowers all up in her hair.
“You know how much I love you daddy,
But if you don’t mind,
I’m only going to kiss you on
the cheek this time.”
With all that I’ve done wrong
I must have done something right.
To deserve her love every morning,
And butterfly kisses at night.

All the precious time
Like the wind, the years go by
Precious butterfly
Spread your wings and fly

She’ll change her name today.
She’ll make a promise,
and I’ll give her away.
Standing in the bride room
just staring at her,
she asked me what I’m thinking,
and I said “I’m not sure,
I just feel like I’m losing my baby girl.”
Then she leaned over….and gave me….

Butterfly kisses, with her mama there
Sticking little flowers all up in her hair
“Walk me down the aisle, daddy,
it’s just about time.”
“Does my wedding gown look pretty, daddy?”
“Daddy, don’t cry.”
With all that I’ve done wrong,
I must have done something right
To deserve her love every morning,
And butterfly kisses
I couldn’t ask God for more, man, this is what love is
I know I’ve gotta let her go, but I’ll always remember
Every hug in the morning, and butterfly kisses…

~ song by Bob Carlisle & Randy Thomas

And just in case you don’t think fathers and sons have beautiful relationships too, here’s the hubby and his Dad on our wedding day. Happy Father’s Day Tony! We love you to the moon and back. A big thank you from me for raising such a wonderful man.

butterfly kisses

postheadericon Balance, Peace, and Joy – Sunday Selections

This week’s offering for Sunday Selections is a lovely thought about finding balance in your life. It comes from a beautifully talented and wildly popular artist – Thomas Kinkade.

 

His words are perfect companions for his art. I never knew that he was such a prolific wordsmith on top of being one of the world’s favorite painters. I enjoy his work immensely. This pretty painting is what I picture in my mind when I’m looking for my own peace.


Balance

Balance, Peace, and Joy

Balance, Peace, and Joy

are the fruit of a successful life.

It starts with recognizing your talents

and finding ways to serve others by using them.

~ Thomas Kinkade

 

Do you have an image you conjure up in your head or a place you retreat to? How do you share your talents and serve others?

 

postheadericon My Husband is a Dung Beetle

*This post about my husband being a self-proclaimed dung beetle was first published in April 2010. Because it is just as relevant today as it was then, I’ve decided to share it with all of you again. For those of you newer to Red Barn Blue Skies, don’t be alarmed – we’re relatively normal. Enjoy!*

I am married to a dung beetle.

My Husband is a Dung Beetle at Red Barn Blue Skies

First off, let me state for the record that I did not call my beloved hubby this. At breakfast this morning, he announced to Mom and I, “I am the dung beetle of the family.”

While this is not a normal conversation in the majority of homes, it is really not a super surprising one for this group. We obviously aren’t the Cleavers anyway, so let me try to explain this bold statement.

The Dung Beetle

Hubby and I were camping last summer when we came across a funny sight while hiking. I had to stop when I saw something rather strange: it looked like a little turd cruising along the path in front of me.

Upon further investigation, we found that it was a dung beetle with a rolled up ball of poop. He was rolling it uphill and in a very straight path – over pebbles, twigs, whatever. He was a persistent little guy as the ball was about three times his size and it was very unwieldy.

We must have spent about fifteen minutes just watching as this amazing little creature kept to his task. He was the epitome of the saying that “the impossible is possible if you keep at it”. The manure ball would slip and roll back a few inches and he’d just start again on his uphill trek.

Fast Forward to Today

Now, the reason this morning’s breakfast table conversation turned to dung beetles is because we were talking about how ants can carry many times their own weight. We told mom about seeing the little dung beetle at work and Mr. MoonCat Red Barn mentioned that he had done some reading on these fascinating little bugs after our trip.

Hubby’s ENTIRE basis for saying that HE is the dung beetle of OUR family is the fact that the males are the ones who do all the work in dung beetle couples. They usually roll up the ball of poop and move it to wherever the female designates while she directs or even HITCHES A RIDE while he’s working!

If this hadn’t hit me as so funny and of course, inappropriate, I might have decided to be offended. But I chose to laugh my butt off at him. (It’s especially significant today as I “requested” that he move around a bunch of furniture yesterday.)

I did some reading myself on dung beetles and was really amazed to learn how beneficial they are to agriculture.  They can be found on every continent except for Antartica! I had already known (from my dad) not to kill any that we found out in the manure pile at the ranch but really didn’t know why.

I’ve since learned that they help keep down the fly population and thus the spread of disease in livestock. They make the manure inhospitable to the fly larvae and maggots. They are a very beneficial part of managing, rejuvenating, and sustaining pastureland. Learn more about them here. You can even find out how to start your own dung beetle farm!

I hope you enjoyed yet another insight into the not so ordinary happenings (and conversations) here at MoonCat Farms/Red Barn Blue Skies.

And just for the record, I did NOT hitch a ride on his back while he was moving furniture – I directed. 

Dung Beetle Toy

 

And here is one of the reasons I decided to bring this post back – LOOK WHAT I FOUND!

Hello Father’s Day present Mr MoonCat/RedBarn/DungBeetle!

And one for the loving wife (ME):

So ladies, do you have your own dung beetle guy in the family?