Sunday, October 31, 2010

To love all things

From today's scripture reading at Mass-

For you love all things that are
and loathe nothing that you have made;
for what you hated, you would not have fashioned.
And how could a thing remain, unless you willed it;
or be preserved, had it not been called forth by you?

I found this reading really valuable. How can I hate or loath someone or something when it is just another example of God's handiwork? I may not understand some people. I may not enjoy their company. I may not agree with their political convictions. But does that give me permission to hate them? In this political year, tempers are running hot. I've deliberately left politics out of this blog, and I'm not going to insert them now. But in a general sort of way, I've been disappointed at the inability of us as Americans to have a civil dialogue.

I have a very good friend whose political views are different from my own. We've consciously decided to either have a pleasant dialogue or not to talk politics at all. We have plenty of things in common. We don't need to discuss politics to have something to talk about.

So, back to the scripture. It gave me pause today on two levels. On the one hand, as I mentioned above, how can I hate someone else when they are creations of God. On another level, how can I get down on myself when I am a creature of God too? I may not like everything about myself. I may wish to change. I certainly hope to grow on this journey through life. But to hate myself is unacceptable. I am exactly who God made me to be, and God doesn't make junk.

So my thought for the day is to love thy neighbor and also to love thyself. I need to remember to treat myself well. Take time to pray and meditate. Eat well. Sleep enough. Do something I love doing. Have a blessed night.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Doing the impossible

Start by doing what's necessary; then do what's possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible.
- Saint Francis of Assisi

By keeping my heart where my hands are I find that I accomplish the impossible. By doing the next necessary task, by doing the next right thing, the thing that is right in front of me to do I move from the necessary to the impossible.

When I started working on my teaching certificate in special education I was able to take one night class a semester. I worked during the day teaching severely emotionally challenged teens in a locked psychiatric ward. Not how I envisioned my teaching career going, but it paid the bills. At the time it seemed like and impossibility that I would ever get my degree. Five years later I finished that degree. In my last semester I was helping a professor teach her class and she asked if I needed a part time job. The job started at 6 hours a week. It grew and grew as I added more students and 4 years later I still have that job and it is the most amazing job I've ever had. All I did was the next thing in front of me and very slowly the pieces all fell into place.

Now I find myself living all the dreams I dreamed 25 years ago when I was just 18. I've always known that I wanted to teach part time and live on a farm. I just couldn't see how that was ever going to happen. At times during my life it seemed like I couldn't be any farther from that goal. Now that I am here I can see that everything I went through, both good and bad, was just another necessary step on the path that lead to this farm and this life. At the time I couldn't see how what I was doing had anything to do with getting here. Now I see that it was all part of the journey.

I have been truly blessed. You can't get here from where I was. It's impossible. In fact, you can't even see here from there. But in God all things are possible. By taking the next necessary action, God has led me here. By doing the next necessary thing, the impossible has been accomplished. What a beautiful, beautiful thing it is.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Sausage Making

The first of many rounds of sausage making. With the venison from this years deer and some pork fat I had in the freezer I made a simple breakfast sausage. I'm on a mission to finish processing the harvest and cleaning the house. Oh, and cleaning the barnyard too. I've vowed to stay home all weekend. No hunting or fishing. The second picture is one of Luna playing after the ducks had finished flying. She is such an amazing dog. Unfortunately there were no ducks for Luna to retrieve that day.

I have just been amazed at how blessed I am to have such a wonderful job. I had a great meeting with the parents of one of the children I work with. To watch a student go from a non-reader to a reader in such a short amount of time. He begs me to read with him when we are supposed to be doing math. It is hard to resist such a request.

I'm also going to spend some time with friends this weekend. Probably go to Mass with a friend too. I've been thinking a lot about my spirituality this week. Bouncing ideas off a friend of mine. Trying to find my way on that spiritual journey I am on. It has been a long and winding road, that's for sure. Until next time, stay mindful. Mindful of the beauty of every moment and every thought and every action.

Monday, October 25, 2010

memories of spring

Mama Carrissima enjoying the spring greenery. I've been thinking about watching the Palouse go through the seasons. Spring, with the wheat sprouting and turning green. Things coming back to life. The garlic coming up 1st in the garden. Excitement as each new variety of plant makes its arrival. Summer, with the vegetables coming in. Some fly-fishing in the rivers and creeks. The hummingbirds returning. Fall with the brown wheat stubble. The ducks and geese take wing and pass through from the north. Winter with a long hibernation. Even the chickens are starting to lay fewer eggs now.

I was only gone for one night, but I guess the goats didn't like missing their treats. They broke out of the pen for the first time. They didn't go far. I guess they just got bored and were looking for something to do. A couple of the chickens have moved permenantly from the hen house to the hay barn with the goats and pigs. I think they are surviving by eating the pig feed. I don't know where they are roosting or laying.

Winter is a time of contemplation for me. The world seems asleep and dreaming. Dreaming of spring. Saving it's energy to burst out in a torrent of verdant growth. Soon I will breed Carissima and maybe Whisper. This spring's rebirth will include goat kids! Ah, what a mighty time it will be.

I am so blessed. I am being gently cradled and cared for by a gracious and loving God. By good and loving friends. By bountiful Mother Nature.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Blessed with a deer

Hi all, I was blessed with a deer tonight. It was 15 minutes before the end of shooting light and I heard a rustling in the wheat stubble. About 200 yards away I saw a deer running. Then another, then another. Six deer emerged all told. I glassed them through my scope, but they were still too far. They ran a little then stopped. Still too far. They ran a little closer. Then a little closer. I didn't think they would stop, but one stopped and looked behind her. I took one shot at 125 yards. About my maximum distance. She ran about 50 yards and crumpled up. I found out later I had shot through the shoulder and into the heart. A perfect ethical shot.

It took me almost an hour to find the deer. She blended in perfectly with the wheat. I was getting worried that I wouldn't find her. I finally backtracked to a creek bed and found a couple of drops of blood. I was then able to follow the blood trail through the wheat.

I gutted her out. I almost threw up while gutting her. I always feel that way. Sad and elated at the same time.

I'm resting for a little bit and then I have to hang and skin her.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Luna puppy in the blind

Here are some photos I took of Luna in the duck blind the other day. I am going hunting with her and a friend next weekend too. We are renting a cabin in a state park on the lake we hunt on. The cabins are pretty cheap and worth the time and gas saved driving out there early in the morning.

I am going to the cabin with Colleen, my ex. One might think it is not a good idea to spend the weekend in a one room cabin with your ex-girlfriend. Especially with a handful of shotguns around. Actually, we are getting along quite well now that we don't live together.

I contacted a breeder about getting a new puppy. Colleen got custody of Luna, although I have visitation rights. I love Luna so much, but I want a puppy in my home all the time.

Well, struggling to get the farm ready for winter. There's garlic to plant, harvest to process, apples to pick, ground to till, hogs to butcher...the list goes on and on and on. Teaching is going great. I just seem to be relaxed and at peace even when the pace is hectic. Funny how that works. Sometimes the smallest things seem overwhelming. Other times the place can be falling to pieces and it all seems alright somehow.

I feel so truly blessed that Colleen and I are getting along in a situation that might cause tension and resentment for many people. Life is just really, really wonderful.

Friday, October 15, 2010

What I have to give.

"Each one of us here today will at one time in our lives look upon a loved one who is in need and ask the same question: We are willing to help, Lord, but what, if anything, is needed? For it is true we can seldom help those closest to us. Either we don't know what part of ourselves to give or, more often than not, the part we have to give is not wanted. And so it is those we live with and should know who elude us. But we can still love them - we can love completely without complete understanding."
- Norman Maclean

I am going duck hunting with Luna in the morning. I have a friend in need, but what I have to offer them is either not the part they need or not the part they want. I know how to still my torment. I find peace in God. And I find God in the forests, waters, and farms of the beautiful land I live in. I take time to see the divine in the world around me. My peace and my serenity are a priority. Above work, above money, above pleasing others, above being "liked". It is only by making myself whole that I am able to fit myself to be of maximum service to God and my fellow man. And maybe that is where my peace and strength really come from. From being of maximum service.

So I am going hunting. My friend will not, or thinks they cannot, go with me. Maybe they can't. Maybe it is not what they need. But it is what I have to offer.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Luna's first duck!

Happy puppy! Luna retrieved her first duck this morning. There were hardly any birds flying this morning. It was warm but raining. A few birds right at dawn, but nothing to take a shot at. Then, an hour after dawn, a flock of about 20 mallards bowed up and were looking to come into the decoys. They flared away at the last moment. I managed to shoot one, but it went down in a big patch of cattails. "Oh no!", I thought "we're never going to find that bird." Luna had heard the gun and seen the bird go down, so she knew it was around somewhere. She searched for about ten minutes before finding the bird, a hen mallard. She was a little hesitant to pick it up at first. She pointed at it which was kind of amusing. I had to wade out a little bit into the cattails and tell her to, "get the bird" which is the command for retrieving. She was just about the happiest puppy I've ever seen.

Tomorrow morning I leave for deer and elk camp. I'm feeling a little worn out from all the teaching and early morning duck hunts. I'm actually feeling a little lonely here in this big old house by myself. I'll have friends coming up to camp on and off, so I won't be totally alone out there. Colleen is coming up to hunt one afternoon.

This morning hunting and even driving home I felt at peace. Not worrying about goats or pigs or teaching or home repairs. Just enjoying the morning. I am so very, very blessed.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

ducks with Luna

Duck season opened last weekend. I went two days. One alone and one with Colleen and Luna. I shot two ducks the first day and, sadly, none the second. We still had fun. Although Luna retrieved the decoys...a very bad habit to start.

I arrived at the lake at about 3:00 or 4:00 am. I paddled in to the duck blind by moonlight. The stars, the mist on the lake, the moon. It was just so beautiful. Sitting and waiting for the dawn. It is just about one of my favorite things in the whole world. So peaceful and serene. And then, at dawn, if you're lucky, the ducks start whistling through the air. Ahhhh.

This weekend I am going up to set up deer and elk camp. I'm leaving Saturday right after I milk the goats. It is always a wonderful little getaway. I fill the truck with firewood, lanterns, guns, tents and tarps...and a million other things. Colleen will come up for a day to hunt. A couple of other friends will come up and spend some time. One will be bringing his 10 year old nephew. I will be taking a couple of days off from teaching and farming. I have a 4-H family coming in to watch the animals.

I will be hunting primarily for deer and elk. Although if I get a shot on a bear, I'll take that too. I look forward to a splendid long weekend. I am so blessed. God has been so good to me. I hope that God will help me fill my freezer with healthy wild game this weekend.

I'll be sure to post pictures.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Dawn on the homestead

Dawn on the homestead. I took these pictures on the way out to the fields to hunt partridge with Luna. She really needs some more training and discipline. At least in her partridge hunting. She seems to do better with pheasants. I am going duck hunting this morning without her. Then Luna and Colleen and I will go on Sunday morning.

I am so excited for opening day of ducks I can't sleep. I'm supposed to wake up in two and a half hours to get ready and drive out to the lake. I'm not sleepy at all. At this point I think I'm just going to stay up. It's been so hot here I don't know if the ducks will even be at the lake yet. I guess I'll just have to see.

It's supposed to cool off starting Monday. Which will be good because I am setting up deer and elk camp on Saturday the 9th. Season opens Sunday. I will be gone for four days. I have a farm-sitter that I found through 4-H. I'm really happy to get a couple days break from the farm. I've been setting up deer camp on opening weekend for years. It is a really relaxing time. I don't drink or play cards, so I just get time to hunt and to sit around the campfire meditating on the stars or on the flames flickering in the fire. It is truly a blessing to have the opportunity to get out into the woods in fall.