Thursday, September 30, 2010

Peace in your heart and mind

And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.(Philippians 4:7)

How do I find peace in my daily life? In my heart and in my mind. I haven't had as much peace this last couple of days as I would like. I think the key, for me, is to approach my actions with mindfulness and prayerfully. Milking the goats, feeding them their treats, collecting eggs, feeding the pigs, even cleaning the farmstead.

I've had Luna, the puppy, living with me the last couple of days. She's been a handful, but we've also been able to get out and get some partridge hunting in. Do I get frustrated when she makes mistakes, or do I laugh and accept that she is a 9 month old puppy?

How am I approaching my work as a teacher? Am I waiting for the hour to end, so I can get home to other things? Or am I being present for my students?

When I am milking Carrissima at dawn, I look out the small barn window and see the sun rising above the Palouse hills. I usually say a little prayer. Instead of thinking about how I'd rather be sitting inside with a cup of coffee, I try to be present with the animals, with myself, and with God. I try to remember how blessed I truly am for everything I have been given.

I took Luna out this morning at 3 am. The stars and moon were so beautiful. I just stood and marveled at the glory of the night sky.

Have a blessed day.

Friday, September 24, 2010

A day with the critters

I got to spend a couple of afternoons after teaching just communing with the critters. Caspian, the little boy goat, is almost as big as his mother. He's into head butting everything in sight. Including me. The barn cats were playing with each other. The goats were happy to get some cuddling from me. The pigs aren't very cuddly, in fact I try to avoid getting my tasty fingers anywhere near their mouths. I was trying different weeds to see what they'd eat. They prefer expensive pig feed. But they will eat windfall apples and cooked zucchini.

Had a wonderful dinner with friends. Homemade tortilla chips, beans, homemade salsa, and spicy ground beef. Just an evening of good food and fellowship. I am feeling at peace tonight. I "aced" a really challenging week of teaching, spent time with friends, and spent time with my animals. All is well. I am truly blessed.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

How prepared are you?

I am borrowing, and expanding, on a topic I read on Small Farm Girl's Blog. How prepared am I really for an emergency. Many of us in homesteading circles talk about "being prepared" by growing a garden, canning the harvest, raising animals, hunting, survival skills, owning firearms, but what about being physically prepared? Can I walk a mile to a phone if the car breaks down on a country road? Can I walk ten miles?

What about if the energy supply is interrupted? Can I do all of the work on my farm without the help of gasoline powered machinery? I currently haul water in a tractor loader from the house to the barn in 7.5 gallon containers. Those suckers are heavy. (62.55 lbs to be exact) Could I haul it without the tractor? Can I haul the 50 pound feed bags? Buck hay bales?

I had some injuries a while back. I broke an ankle really badly. Then, when I recovered from that, had knee surgery for some torn cartilage. I was off my feet for a year and gained 35 pounds. For the last few years I never got serious about getting back into shape. Now I have gotten serious and it is a challenge. I've lost about 20 pounds and would like to lose another 20. I'm definitely much stronger. It feels great. I've lost the weight and gained the strength by hiking, walking, biking, hunting, and working on the farm. That coupled with moderate, sensible dietary changes. Changing a burger to a salad for lunch. Eating one pork chop instead of two for dinner.

Being prepared for life, for hardship, for disaster is something I consider important. Why ignore the physical? Being prepared means just what it meant in Boy Scouts. Be prepared physically, mentally, and spiritually. God has given me a beautiful body, it is up to me to take care of it to the best of my ability.

I was blessed with the opportunity to work on all three aspects of fitness yesterday. Physical work on the farm, intellectually work on a teaching conundrum I was having, and spiritual work being of service to some friends. Life is so wonderful. I have been so truly blessed.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

A splendid day in the field!

What a glorious day! Luna and I spent the entire day together. We hunted partridge and quail all day. We hunted my property and the property of the neighboring farmers. I have permission from all of the big farms around here.

The stubble on the wheat fields was perfect for partridge. The day started out flushing a covey of partridge almost right away. They flushed far out and flew about 150 yards. We followed them through two barbed wire fences, across the dry creek bed, and up a steep hill. We flushed them a few more times, each time flying 100+ yards, and eventually got a couple of shots. No birds yet. This went on for most of the morning. Eventually Luna and I bagged one gray partridge. Luna made an excellent retrieve of the lively, wounded bird.

Worn out from hiking up and down hills all morning, Luna and I came home and took a nap together.

We went out again when it cooled off in the afternoon. We bagged one more bird, a beautiful crossing shot, and called it a day. We came home exhausted and sore. After Mass and chores tomorrow, Luna and Colleen and I plan to hunt again.

What a splendid day in the field. I am so blessed. The fall air, the dew on the wheat stubble, the exercise, a dog and a gun, smell of gunpowder, working the birds, just everything was perfect. Tomorrow promises to be just as wonderful. I really needed a good weekend of rest and recreation. What a spiritual blessing.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Take counsel

"Do everything with counsel,
and you will not repent when you have done it" (Eccles. 32:24).

I have made plenty of bad decisions in my life. Most of them without talking things over with another person. Or worse yet, ignoring the thoughts of others. In the end a person has to follow their heart, but it is still better to take counsel with friends, family, or a spiritual adviser.

I have a handful of good friends and family members that I go to for counsel. I don't know that I'm seeking advice so much as just another person to go over the scenario with.

In addition to seeking counsel, I want to reach out to be supportive of others. Not to give advice but to comfort, to listen, to care, and to share my experience, strength, and hope.

I'm spending the afternoon again today working hard on the farm. Getting as much done as possible so that I can relax this weekend without feeling so overwhelmed. I'm getting a ton of things done.

I met with some friends over lunch today. I am so blessed to have such wonderful, open, caring friends. Stay well.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Another work day on the farm

I work everyday on the farm, but it seems I need to dedicate at least one day a week to just getting down to it and working ALL day on chores. Today I am making goat's milk cheddar cheese, cleaning the kitchen until it's spotless, cleaning the mud-room, getting caught up with all the animal chores, cleaning the goat barn, and maybe harvesting a little. Tomorrow I'll be more focused on the outdoor work. Harvesting especially.

The animals are doing great. None of them starved while I was going through my stressed out, overwhelmed phase. The pigs are getting huge. They still have some time to go though. I'm feeding them as many garden leftovers as I can. Just trying to find what they'll eat. They loved the corn stalks.

The tobacco plants are stunted, but they look like they are healthy. Healthy tobacco, now that's an oxymoron. I should be able to process them into a usable product. I've lamented the rest of the garden enough, so I guess I'll just let it go.

I've been starting to tie steelhead flies in the evening. I'm by no means an expert at tying flies, but practice makes perfect. Fishing season is starting to ramp up. The steelhead should be moving into the smaller rivers soon. I've spent a lot of time grouse hunting without a great deal of success. I've bagged a couple. Partridge opens on Saturday and I've seen three coveys of about 20 birds each on the property. I plan on hunting for them Saturday and Sunday with Luna. I'll be sure to post pictures.

The teaching year has been going well. I am so blessed to have such a great job working with such wonderful families. I feel like I'm being cradled in the arms of a loving God. Safe and cared for. I have everything I need. I have been blessed with a life beyond my wildest dreams.

Well, back to work. :-)

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Work smart

I'm feeling a lot more comfortable and confident on the farm today. I dedicated a whole day to farm chores. I also am doing a more conscious job of scheduling my time. Instead of trying to do everything all the time I'm working on a manageable schedule that includes teaching, farming, recreation, AND time to sit and do nothing.

Yesterday I got a ton accomplished on the farm. Built a new hay feeder for the goat kids, fixed the chainsaw, bucked up a downed tree, got all the feeding in order, cleaned the goats' water troughs, and more. I was able to meet with friends in the evening and not be worried about the farm.

Today I am watching Luna all day. I'm going to do just a couple of things on the farm, then go grouse hunting, then meet with some friends. There should be plenty of time to relax. The only major thing on the farm agenda is cleaning out the goat barn. Yuck.

I feeling much better. More at peace. Less overwhelmed. I've got a bunch of fun stuff planned with friends this weekend. Some target shooting, some grouse hunting, and Colleen is treating me to dinner at a restaurant for my birthday. I'm going to attempt to tie some steelhead flies too. I'm not an expert fly-tier but I find it fun and relaxing.

Well, I hope this fall weekend finds you all well.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Overwhelmed homesteader

Phew! Things have been overwhelming here on the homestead. Colleen and I separated a while back and this is just not a one person job. The school year started and I am back to teaching a full load - which is actually about 20-30 hours a week for me.

Between the goats, pigs, chickens, garden to be harvested, fruit trees to be harvested, canning, and garden prepping for next year I am really, really busy. I look around and I don't feel like I have time for all the tasks to be done.

My recreational and spiritual time, which are often the same, are starting to suffer. I went steel head fishing for two hours after work last night and all I could think about were all the farm chores I was neglecting.

On a lighter note, here is a picture of Luna with her first forest grouse. Fish and game lumps all of the forest dwelling grouse into one category, but this one is a ruffed grouse. She doesn't quite have the concept down, but she was definitely helpful in the process.

The picture above is of the pigs eating apples from a friend's tree that blew down in a storm. I've got bushels of them and the pigs love them.

I'm looking forward to harvesting my trees and making apple butter and apple sauce. Also...APPLE PIE!

Hunting season is heating up. It is one of the most spiritual and fulfilling times of the year for me. Of course, it is nice to replenish the freezer, but more importantly it is a time when I can get out into the woods and just focus on being in tune with the natural world in a special and intense way.

Walking slowly through the woods and looking and listening for signs of game. Calling in ducks and geese. Thanking God for the animal whose life I have taken to feed myself and my friends.

Well, looks like I have some praying and meditating to do. Find a way to approach my tasks with a little grace instead of a feeling of irritation. There simply will not be time in the day to do everything I want to do the way I want to do it. But, I guess, that is life. Time to count my blessings and be grateful. It's not what I HAVE to do, it's what I GET to do, and for that I am truly blessed.