by Theresa (VanderPutten) Byrne



In this age of technology and rush, rush, rush, Devin and I have a growing desire to put the brakes on and slow down to a simpler way of  life.

We were blessed to move into the country earlier this year. With that,  many new possibilities have sprouted.

One of the first things we did was get chickens, in hopes of having our own fresh eggs. So far we have not had a surplus of eggs, but the chickens have created chores, which is a great way for our Brendan to grow in positive responsibility.

I have been doing my own sourdough for a couple of years now. The first year was trial and error with a nice loaf here and there. The reason I stuck with it was because I knew it was a healthier choice, but also because Devin loves it. After figuring out “the tricks of the trade” my loaves now come out beautiful and, what seemed to be such an inconvenience at first, is now a way of life.

Something else we started years ago was our own kombucha tea. Filled with health benefits, it is also one of those things that can be a nuisance. I stopped doing it a time or two but now, like the sourdough, it is a part of life and something I naturally keep up. I bottle it for Devin’s lunch and it is a refreshing, healthy part of his day.

One evening, in search of the property’s well, Devin and Brendan went on a hike.


After close to an hour had passed, I saw them peak the top of the hill behind the house, with a shirt full of something….. Blackberries!! They had stumbled across a briar patch of blackberry bushes, loaded with plump ripe berries!

Coming from the family I grew up in, we look at berries or fruit and we see gold!

After obtaining permission to pick the berries, we went to harvesting.


I didn’t realize what a prickly chore this would end up being. It was very slow going and the bushes, being overgrown and wild, made for many small cuts on fingers, legs and unprotected skin.

I have a big mane of thick curly hair, which I often wear high on my head.. A time or two the prickly branches snagged me by the hair and I would have to tease the branch to be let free..

As we picked, beautiful yellow birds flitted around us. They like the milkweed that grew about and we would watch them dart in and out, frolicking in the warm sunshine.
We could hear the echo of the train in the distance and even though we were hot and sweaty, in this quiet wilderness we felt close to God.

We were in the heat of the summer, the days were clothed in the yellow of the sunshine and sunflowers, so Brendan and I waited one night, until the soft breeze of the evening, to go and pick.

What we hadn’t realized was the cows were in our territory. There is a small patch of blackberries on top of the hill with a much bigger patch down in the valley.

Deciding we needed an adventure and still wanting to pick, we got down on our hands and knees and crept behind the small patch of berries. We ate as we went, ever keeping a wary eye on the cows.

Slowly the cows started to move away, and even more slowly we crept along. At one point we startled a mourning dove, surprised at two humans creeping along in its domain.

When the cows disappeared over the top of the hill, we quietly went to our “sweet spot.”

We were glad for holding out because the berries were delightful that evening and our adventure had been fun!

Trudging back up to the house we spotted our friend, the barn owl, who often comes into our yard. He was sitting in the pasture, on a huge dead tree, watching for easy prey.

Devin and I sat on the fence with the kids and watched our feathered friend, until the sun dropped low and the bird headed off for his evening hunt.

We have loved the fresh berries this year, but we have missed the fresh veggies.

We moved to this country home right as gardens were being put in, so we never got the chance to start one of our own.

Devin spends many an evening reading and planning, for next year’s garden.

He also started composting. “I am running waste into goodness!” he will say.

One of our chickens also thinks it’s “goodness.” Her favorite spot to lay eggs is on top of the compost pile! Ugh!

When I grew up our life was very simple. We lived in a one bedroom home with seven children. In our tiny kitchen you could see the dirt ground under the linoleum. We had to pump the septic out all the time and the highlight of our week was hoping to see “Uncle Mark” on Sunday evening.

And yet our fondest memories are of those times. We grew a huge garden out back and it was not unusual to see my dad lying in the sunshine, in-between rows of tomatoes, taking a cat nap.

When autumn came, dressed in her gowns of orange and yellow, we would rake piles of leaves and play long into the evening, only coming in when it was time to say night prayers and go to bed.

We lived our days down by the creek skipping rocks, up in the mulberry tree picking berries and in the back yard, playing on our old, rickety jungle gym.
Snack time consisted of celery and peanut butter, date balls or nuts and raisins. We lived simply and happily..

Now don’t get me wrong, I am grateful for electricity and don’t want to go back to days without air conditioning, but to slow down a bit, relearn to “stop and smell the roses”, I think that would be lovely!




Reading Catholic Mother Goose…. 🙂

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fall finer fem quote for the day

“Since we had our children, our ideas have changed a little. We lived just for them. They were all our happiness. In short, nothing was too hard, and the world was no longer a burden for us. For me, our kids have been a great joy, so I wanted to have a lot of them, in order to raise them up to the sky”. -Saint Zélie Martin-Mother of St. Therese the Little Flower