My Joy Continues

My Joy Continues


Well I thought it was time to give you an update on what has been happening in my life and on the farm. There is never a dull moment it seems. I have been so blessed to get the opportunity to live here in the country. I can’t help to smile when I think how a 61 year old man has come to realize his lifelong dream. I get to spend my time every day with four kittens, seven Angus heifers, one Angus bull, and a five week old bull calf. Each one of my animals has a unique personality that helps a vision impaired man know who they are. Many of you may not have thought about how animals have characteristics just like humans do. I have learned the past few months what makes each of them unique and can tell them apart by their actions. The great thing is that they all get along with each other.

When I talk with my family and friends, I share how happy I am and everything that I am getting to experience. My good friend, Dan Danford, said it best. You can take the boy out of Rosendale but you can’t take Rosendale out of the boy. Rosendale is located in Northwest Missouri and where I grew up. It is a small town located in the rural country setting. My parents, grandparents, uncles, aunts, and cousins were all born and raised there. Where I live now is in the country just like where I grew up. The difference is that I live about 350 miles from Rosendale in the eastern part of the Missouri Ozarks. Agriculture plays a major part of the economic structure in both communities still today. The fresh air, open space, and the stillness of the nights are things that refresh my heart, mind, and spirit.

My career life is still going well. DCAI along with many businesses are facing huge governmental changes. Some of these are good and others are causing stress due to the unknown effects that the change will bring. I am extremely blessed to have such a great place to work and a great community to live in. I am convinced that we will face the changes and come out in the end victorious. The power of a positive attitude and faith will carry us all. I am sure that you have life challenges as well. The main thing is to never give up just keep taking that one step forward. It works!

Talking about taking that one step forward, I broke 92,000 miles on my 100,000 jogging goal last Sunday February 19. It has taken me 38 ½ years of running to get this far. I am shooting to break the 100,000 mile mark sometime in April 2019. That is just a little over 2 years until I reach that goal. I believe that I can reach this and just keep going. It is all up to the Good Lord to see that I have good health and the strength to accomplish this. Yes, I have some aches and pains but who doesn’t have these at 61 years old. I will plan a huge party when I break the 100,000 mile mark. All my family and friends will be invited. I will continue to provide updates on my progress in my new articles. Watch for your invitation to celebrate with me in 2019!

The next two months I will be back in training. Our Fifth Annual Back Pack Fund Raiser is scheduled for Friday May 5. I commit to running a mile for each child that receives weekend and holiday food during the school year. It gives me so much joy to know that I can continue to raise money for this worthy cause. I continue to pray for the Lord to give me the strength to do this. This year, we have 50 children that are on the program. I will plan to run a full marathon on back to back days to accomplish this commitment. I will run the 52.4 miles on my property the last Thursday and Friday in April. I run the week before the Fund Raiser so I can enjoy the special event. I have ran the marathons on Thursday and Friday, the day of the event, and find that I am exhausted and sore to the extent that I can’t enjoy my time that evening. All the money raised goes to purchase the food for the back pack program, provide winter coats, boots, and winter apparel, tennis shoes, school supplies, and Thanksgiving and Christmas family food baskets. If you would like to contribute money, items for our silent auction, or sponsor a mile of my run let us know. To sponsor a mile is $250, but we will accept any amount that you would like to donate.

Last weekend was a busy time out at the farm. Joe and I were building shelves in the hay and feed shed. These shelves will allow me to keep things in an orderly fashion. A vision impaired person must keep things in the same place so they can find them when they need them. Also we were arranging everything to get ready to purchase and store 300 square bales of hay for the summer and feed next year. The square bales are placed on pallets on the concrete floor in my 36 x 30 foot shed. These bales weigh between 60 and 80 pounds each. I buy these so I have the flexibility to carry and feed them when needed. I buy about 40 to 45 large bales of hay and Tyler delivers and sets these for me when they have eaten the last bit of the bale. The small square bales gives me hay if for some reason the large bale can’t be delivered when they run out.

Joe took me, on Saturday, to purchase a ton of cattle feed, mineral, and a creep feeder. The creep feeder allows the small calves to be able to get some feed without the cows and bull being able to get to it. Currently, I have only one calf named Prince Wayne. The bull calf is one that I plan on raising and using as a bull in a couple of years. I want him to grow and develop into a fine breeding bull. My Aunt Shirley called while we were setting the creep feeder. She said that little Prince is definitely spoiled to get his own feeder. He will have to share it when the other calves are born. I should have six more born between March and June. Prince is definitely spoiled as my Aunt said. He gets all the attention of anyone that comes to visit me. He puts on quite a show running, bucking, and jumping in the pasture.

On Monday Presidents Day Rhonda and Niki took my four kittens to the vet. All four came from the same litter and were six months old. They were old enough to be fixed so that I don’t have more cats than cattle. Hank, Harry, Henry, and Henrietta, I am sure were unhappy with me. Henrietta came into heat and howled in my house garage for six days and nights before we could get her to the Vet. It was miserable for her and me. I tried everything to get her calmed down. I had to keep her away from her three brothers. It sounded like a four kitten choir day and night. They all did well and are recovering nicely from their surgery. They are back to running and playing out on the farm. The cows and little Prince are glad they are back and doing well. As you can see below, Prince welcomed the kittens back home.

The kittens and cows spend a lot of time together. This relationship between them is something that I didn’t even think about. The girls are so much bigger than the kittens. Harry and Henry are in the lot right with them running around. Hank and Henrietta are afraid being in the lot except if they can get on top of the bale of hay. The cows and Little Prince chase them out. I believe if you can, picture in your mind four kittens on the top of a large round bale of hay and the cows in a circle around the bale pulling out the hay. These kittens are trying to have a tug of war with them while they are eating. It is hilarious! If you can picture this in your mind, I am sure that you can’t help but smile.

These simple things make me smile and give me so much joy. I believe that if we all would just take a few minutes to think, you could come up with things that will make you feel better about your life. The trials we face many times make us harden our spirits and we become bitter. I encourage you just go find a quiet time of the day to go stand or sit outside. Close your eyes and just listen, can you hear the birds? Can you feel the sun or the wind hit your face? Can you smell the flowers or the smell of freshly mown grass or hay? How many things can you see, smell, feel, or hear that you haven’t realized for a long time.

We all have such a busy life and feel that we can’t stop just for a moment. We don’t think about the small joys we have in our lives. I take the time now and live in the country where it is quiet most of the time. I can hear the birds, peep frogs, the wind blowing the trees, the cattle eating the hay, the kittens running everywhere, and many times the deer running through the woods. Now, don’t I have an amazing place to live! All these sounds fill my soul and make me realize how blessed I am. Isn’t it time for you to realize the same!

My wish is that each of you find the happiness that I have found. For the most part, I have been a happy person throughout my life. I believe having the eye disease and knowing that I was going blind made me appreciate every day and the things that I have. Sure I wish I could see, but not if I could no longer feel, hear, touch, or smell like I do now. If you have trouble understanding the simple things in life then close your eyes for 5, 10, or 15 minutes. Don’t leave them closed so long that you fall asleep. If you can slow down your mind for just a few minutes, you will start to hear sounds around you that you may have not heard before. Repeating this exercise will also help you to feel the wind and fresh air. The birds will be singing in the background and other wildlife will become easier to hear. Suddenly your heart will feel joy and happiness like you might not have felt for years.

So many of you are distracted by what you see and don’t really take a good look at what is around you. I feel that we all take our lives, family, friends, jobs, homes, and the things we have for granted. Even on our worst day, we have so much to be thankful for. Please start giving thanks for what you have. If you do this you will feel so much better about your life. Remember that no one can keep you down if you don’t let them. Opening your heart, mind, and spirit will allow you to feel things like you have never felt before.

I love my life! Won’t you just take a few minutes to get reacquainted with yours? You won’t be sorry. Just allow the joys of life to fill your being. Because of how I believe is why my joy is continuous and just keeps coming. Smiling, laughing, and realizing how blessed you are will change your whole perspective on life.

I encourage you to stop and find the joy. We forget how important the small things are and how they can change our outlook. You are not going to be sorry. Believe me, they are truly there! I pray that your mind, heart, and spirit will be refreshed through the joy of life.

Dr. Dennis W. Atkins

February 2017