Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas 2

From all of us here at Wandering Moose Farm, we wish you a very Merry Christmas. May this season find all of you blessed with all the love, happiness, and joy that you could wish for. Blessed be.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Merry Christmas

Christmas is almost upon us. We will be taking a little break in Oregon. A few days with family and a few days away from the farm. As much as I love the daily chores, it is nice to get a break from milking the goats in the cold and dark.

Little Russell is growing like a weed. He is becoming more and more alert and socially present. What a blessing in our lives. Life is an amazing thing.

We'll be trying to do $100 Christmas this year. The general concept is to opt out of the consumerism of Christmas by only spending $100 during the season. We will not be going to Disneyland. We will not be spending $500 at Macy's...or Walmart...or anywhere else for that matter. We will be giving homemade gifts or inexpensive books. We will be giving our children a small gift and a coupon book filled with coupons for "one free back rub" or "one free day off of homeschool."

Now, of course, the gasoline to Oregon to visit family will be about $100 so we will break the hundred dollar mark by a little bit, but the spirit is there. And that is really the key isn't it. To approach the holidays with a consciously spiritual attitude. Christmas is NOT YOUR BIRTHDAY. Gifts occupy an intentionally small part of our celebration. We are trying to focus more on Love, and Service, and Family, and Worship.

As a result, we are not dreading the Christmas season as something to "get though". We are not worrying about paying off the Visa bill or giving gifts that are more extravagant than what the neighbor's kids are getting. We are not worried about surviving holiday office parties. We are not fighting the crowds at the stores. We are simply spending some time together as a family.

I hope this season finds you well. Blessed be.

Friday, December 9, 2011

The Kingdom of God

“The Kingdom of God is within/among you” Luke 17:21

“Jesus himself goes into silence, into nature, and usually alone when he prays” Richard Rohr

I’ve been going into our field to sit in the goose blind lately. Usually alone. Funny thing, it is too early in the year for the geese to be flying over the Palouse with any regularity. That doesn’t seem to matter much. I just like to sit in a frozen field alone and watch the sun rise. Sitting with a shotgun on my lap just seems like a good excuse to be out there. I wake up at four or five and start getting the animal chores done. The sun doesn’t really rise until 6:45 am.

The sun rising on these cold December mornings is glorious. It is still and quiet. And I try to be still and quiet too. Both externally and internally. “Be still and know that I am God.” When I’m in a good place spiritually, I can sometimes get there. Sometimes I can let the clutter in my mind slowly pass leaving me at peace and alone with my God.

I wanted to go steelhead fishing alone today. Turns out the section of river I was thinking of is partially iced over. That’s OK. I have a ton of chores to do today. We are getting a ton (literally, 2000 pounds) of alfalfa delivered on Saturday morning.

I will be applying for a “small herd exemption” to sell raw milk here in Idaho soon. We don’t really have enough does in milk to make it worth the trouble…yet. We plan to get a diary cow in the spring. We also will be breeding Carissima soon. We will be hoping for a couple of doelings when she gives birth. We already have more milk than we need, but any additions to the herd will put us way over the top. It could be a nice addition to our tight finances. On the other hand it could be another farm fiasco too. Never know until you try. That’s one of the things I love about our approach to life on the farm here. Leap before you look. Half the time it doesn’t work out the way we had planned. But on the other hand, we are having a great time trying and learning along the way. We may never get it right within this lifetime but that is not the point. The kingdom of God is here and now among us. We are indeed blessed.

Yours in faith, Russ

Tuesday, November 22, 2011


We hosted our "Orphans Thanksgiving" Sunday. We invite friends and acquaintances who do not have family in the area over for a Thanksgiving feast. I enjoy being able to cook for and serve others a big meal.

We are having family over on Thursday for another Thanksgiving feast. We butchered the turkey this morning. It was a job for the whole family. Tim held the legs, Jenny held the head, and I was in charge of the hatchet. We eventually got the job done and ended up with a very, very large bird. I hope he is not too large. We'll see how he tastes on Thursday.

I use a 1st edition "Joy of Cooking" for many of my holiday dishes. One wonderful trick I've learned is to drape the turkey in cheesecloth soaked in melted lard while you roast it. It works great and gives the bird an amazing golden skin.

We have so much to be grateful for this season. Being able to host friends and family. Being able to raise our own food on the farm. Having everyone in the family safe and healthy.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Craig Mountain

The Craig Mountain area is a roadless, non-motorized area in which I elk hunt. I prefer to hunt using my own two legs. Or the four legs of a horse if necessary. It is wonderful to hunt in an area which prohibits motorized access.

This canyon stretches down about 4000 feet to the Snake River.

In the wilderness, I find Nature's Cathedral. In the mountains I feel closest to God.

"In God's wildness lies the hope of the world - the great fresh, unblighted, unredeemed wilderness." John Muir

It was a blessing to have the time to get out into the mountains. It is even more of a blessing to come home to my wife, my children, and my farm.

Monday, November 14, 2011

elk hunting

I just got back into town after 3 days in the mountains elk hunting alone. I stayed in my little pup tent and managed to stay reasonably warm. The last night there was a little bit of a blizzard. I was more afraid that a tree would fall on me than I was of freezing. I saw one elk, 6 mule deer, 4 grouse, and some wolf tracks. I had a great time. I didn't manage to shoot an elk, but it was amazing to just hike around in the mountains with my senses in hunting mode. Hyper-aware of all the sights and sounds around me.

I spent plenty of time sitting in front of the camp fire writing in my journal, meditating, and praying.

It was great to push my body a little bit. See what I could do in the mountains. I've had a knee injury bothering me all fall, so I was a little unsure of how I'd do. I hiked about 8 miles on the first day and 3 or 4 miles the next couple of days.

To me, my time spent hunting is incredibly spiritual. Time spent in the mountains is incredibly spiritual. Especially when I am alone. But I am never really alone.

In the words of the psalmist,
"I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help.
My help cometh from the LORD, which made heaven and earth."

In the mountains, in the stillness, I hear whispers. Underneath the rocks there are words. When I am still I can hear them. And I know that God is there.

I am so blessed. Blessings to you too.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Too much fun...

Duck hunting the other day was wild. It was about 32 degrees with rain, sleet, and snow. I got to the lake before dawn and launched my little boat in the dark. There used to be beacon lights marking the boating channel in the shallow lake, but turned out they were mostly gone. I should have waited for first light, but decided to try to get to my hunting spot anyway. What a long, dark, scary ride that was. I pretty much felt my way across the lake, but finally made it to my spot an hour later. I got the decoys out and set up a little blind.

At first light, nothing was flying. Usually if there are going to be birds you can tell in the first 15 minutes after shooting light but not this time. The birds showed up a half an hour later and they showed up by the thousands. There were almost no mallards and only a few geese but thousands of teal. Teal are small and fast, but great eating and fun shooting. What a morning. I only got a few and should have gotten a few more, but it was a great morning.

Tomorrow I am going back to the lake hunting with Tim. I’m either going to buy a high powered spotlight, or I am going to have to wait until after it gets light to get on the lake. Either way, it promises to be a great morning.

On Tuesday, I am going to a conference to see Temple Grandin speak on Autism. I’ve had my registration for almost a year. She is an amazing woman with severe autism who not only succeeded in coping with her disability but got a Ph.D. to boot. She designed the modern cattle slaughtering techniques used all over the United States. It should be an amazing talk.

Then on Wednesday I’m packing and heading out to elk camp. Phew. A lot of fun stuff this week. I still don’t know how my knee is going to do, but I sure plan on trying to hunt. If not, I guess I’ll have a nice little camping trip in the snow in the mountains.

It’s sometimes tiring to be crazy busy, but at least it’s all really fun stuff. I am so blessed.

Thursday, November 3, 2011


I finally got my outboard motor back from the shop. I'm hoping to go duck hunting on Friday. The forecast is for a little bit of snow which can be a problem at the boat launch. I had to junk my four wheel drive truck. My small truck, with tire chains as a backup, should do the trick in a light snow though.

I have an elk hunt coming up in mid-November. I've been looking forward to it all year, but I have an injury in my knee and I'll just have to see how it goes. I plan on going up to the mountains and setting up camp. Then just seeing how it goes. If I get an elk and can't pack the quarters out on my back, I can call Jenny's father and he can bring up some horses to pack it out. I'm hunting in a roadless/non-motorized area which I prefer, but you kind of need to be healthy to do a good hunt there. I've never shot an elk, but I sure am looking forward to the opportunity. If nothing else, it'll be a good opportunity to camp in the snow for a couple of days.

So many wonderful things to do, so little time. I feel like I'm booked solid through November.

"All I have seen teaches me to trust the Creator for all I have not seen." - Ralph Waldo Emerson

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

gratitude month

It just doesn't get any more grateful than this. I have so much to be grateful for. I'd like to meditate on something I have to be grateful for each day this month. Starting with my child, my wife, and my family. Here's hoping we can all maintain an attitude of gratitude this month.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

The list

We have lots of chores around the farm. Doing dishes, washing diapers, milking goats, collecting eggs. The list is pretty much endless. Every morning I generate a list on the computer of all the tasks I want to get accomplished that day. As I go through the day, I highlight, on the computer, each of the chores I complete. Of course, more ideas are added throughout the day. It’s a great way to keep track of my day-what I want to get done, what I have gotten done. Anyway, it works for me.

I was reading a blog yesterday that really shook up my way of thinking about my list. In the blog, SteadyMOM, points out that the most important chore of the day is to provide a sense of peace in the home. When all is said and done, our children will not remember whether the dishes were always done or whether the goats got milked on time. They will, I hope, remember that our home was a place of peace.

So, I have begun putting some new chores on my list. “Practice Peace” has taken a place at the top of the list. Cuddling with my wife and child has been dedicated some time. There are items which are no longer just things I want to do if all the chores are done. They are priorities. They are on the list and at the top of the list.

I find that when my attitude is one of peace and acceptance my day seems a lot less overwhelming. Nothing has changed; goats still need to be milked, dishes need to be done, diapers need to be washed, but these tasks can be joyful and prayerful times. Instead of dreading milking the goats in the cold and dark, I can look forward to some peaceful alone time in the barn. Just me and the goats.

Attitude is everything. Blessings.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Midnight Meditation

After a little diaper changing and baby rocking, I am up doing a little reading, meditation, and prayer. Just reading Thomas Merton and listening to a little rock and roll playing softly.

“My intention is to give myself entirely and without compromise to whatever work God wants to perform in me and through me.” - Thomas Merton

Wow! “Entirely and without compromise.” That’s a tall order. I am I really willing to let God change me? Can I really let go to being a vessel to carry God’s peace? Can I really turn my life over to a God I can’t understand. If I do, will I still be allowed to smoke cigars and eat ice cream?

That’s one thing used to have a lot of confusion about. I used to think that if I accepted God into my life that I would become as pure as the driven snow. I didn’t think I wanted that much purity. I realize now, for myself at least, that I can give myself to God and still have a great time on this earth. And yes, that really does include smoking cigars, duck hunting, telling tall tales around the campfire, and listening to a little rock and roll.

God is there in all of it.

So, anyway, I’m excited to go duck hunting tomorrow. That is, if the motor for my boat is ready and I have the money to pay for the repairs. When I say “boat” and “motor”, it might make it sound luxurious. My “boat” is a 12 or 14 foot rowboat, spray painted camouflage, outfitted with a nice but hardly reliable 9 horse outboard. It gets me where I want to go…most of the time. I just try not to go so far that I can’t row back to the launch if I have to.

Tim and I are planning to go to a little bit bigger lake this time. I can be a really fun place to hunt, but not always consistently productive for me. I always see lots of birds, but sometimes they are pretty cautious. Either way though, I always have a wonderful time. Sitting in the duck blind, a half an hour before sunrise, waiting and hoping that the birds will fly.
Jenny’s rocking baby Russell. He’s quiet and happy…for now. We are so blessed.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Apple Cider

We enjoyed pressing apple cider today. The boys had a blast. The antique cider press we received from my parents as a wedding gift worked great. The press is like a work of art. Hardwood and cast iron. The cider is great. Despite some disappointments in the garden this year, the Lord has been good to us. We’ve harvested about 300 pounds of apples. The refrigerator is full of carrots and beets. I think we will eat through the carrots and beets quickly enough to avoid using the root cellar. We made a great pork rib roast last night that had been marinated in apple juice. The garlic is planted for next year. Life is good.

We will be shoveling the manure out of the pig pen and the section of the barn that had housed them. We will be using the space to house Carissima and a buck goat for breeding. The kind folks at Little Bear Dairy will be loaning us the buck. I’m not sure they want him back although we don’t particularly want him as a permanent resident either. Pass the buck.

There is a constant flow of dirty dishes, laundry, and cloth diapers around here. We are trying to get a little bit ahead of the daily chores. Not really happening. Hopefully Tim and I will have a chance to go duck hunting this weekend or early next week. Recreation is an important part of life on the farm too-as important as keeping on top of the chores. One of my favorite things in the world is to be sitting on a lake waiting for the dawn to come. Waiting for the birds to fly. We enjoy eating duck, but duck hunting isn’t really a cost effective way of filling the freezer. Nevertheless, It is important to keep up with the things you are passionate about and duck hunting is one of them.

From passion comes creativity.

Little Russell continues to enjoy good health. What a blessing.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Carry the message...

I have just begun to read an amazing book by Richard Rohr. “Breathing Underwater: Spirituality and the Twelve Steps. In it, Rohr explores the parallels between the twelve steps of Alcoholics Anonymous and what St. Francis calls the “marrow of the Gospels.”

In skipping around the book, I was particularly stuck by Rohr’s comparison of the twelfth step and two biblical passages.

The twelfth step in Alcoholics Anonymous reads, “Having had a spiritual awakening as a result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics and practice these principals in all our affairs.” The original wording of this step took it a little further and encouraged recovered alcoholics to, “carry this message to others, especially alcoholics, and practice these principals in all our affairs.” I prefer the older version of the step. The reason I prefer to carry the message to others, especially alcoholics, is that the message is not just about the recovery from alcoholism. It is about Redemption for all of us through Grace. It is a message about being welcome to “Come to the Feast” (Fr. Richard Fragomeni) at God’s table. God invites us all to be transformed. We are all capable of having a “spiritual awakening.” Redemption, through Grace, is available to us. Whether our “fall” comes in the form of alcoholism, consumerism, lust for wealth or power, greed, false pride, or of any number of other common failings healing is available to all of us. Alcoholism just seems to be a particularly public type of catastrophe, much more outwardly apparent than other “addictive” behaviors.

So, winding my way back to my starting point…

“What was given to you freely, you must give away freely.” Matthew 10:8

“Simon, Simon, you must be sifted like wheat, and once you have recovered, you in your turn must strengthen your brothers.” Luke 22:31-32

What then do I have to freely give to others? How may I strengthen my brothers? What part of myself do I have to give?

In the example of alcoholism, I can certainly offer my experience, strength, and hope to other suffering alcoholics. But there is so much more. I am so much more than just an alcoholic. I am a teacher, parent, brother, son, husband, friend, musician, thinker, writer, farmer, homesteader, Christian and so much more. There are so many ways I may be of service to God and my fellow man.

Today’s challenge is to think of how you may be of service. What can you give to strengthen your brothers and sisters? What part of yourself do you have to give to others?

Thanks for reading. Blessings.

Monday, October 17, 2011

This is our beautiful son Russell. I am most truly blessed. Through grace alone I have been granted a life beyond my wildest imaginings. We are all recovering from our little adventure to the hospital via helicopter. Russell seems as happy as a clam. Jenny and I are recovering, albiet a little more slowly.

I took Matty on a duck hunt this morning for a few hours. Nothing out of the ordinary, just an average day in the field. The boat motor wouldn't start, cut my hands trying to start it, stumbled around in the cattails trying to find a shore blind, froze my tuckus off waiting for the sun to rise, and shot no ducks. It was glorious. I love being in the field waiting for the dawn to come.

I've still been meditating on redemption. My own redemption came through grace. Unmerited good favor. I am so truly blessed.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

sigh, back again

I don't know if there is anyone out there still reading this. I got rid of home internet bacause of the satelite cost. Hard to blog too much at the local library.

I'm thinking I might try to get back into it.

Anyway, Jenny and I did eventually get married. Our son was born in our kitchen. It's been a beautiful time.

Our son is 2 weeks old and was just airlifted by helicopter to a childrens hospital in a city in another state. He seems to be stable and alright. We hope to go home tomorrow. Having insomnia in a hospital room in a strange city is a bummer.

I've been meditating on the idea of "redemption" lately. I have met a friend who thinks he is beyond redemption. He has lost hope. Just so happens today's reading in psalms covers the subject quite well.

R. (7) With the Lord there is mercy, and fullness of redemption.

Out of the depths I cry to you, O LORD;LORD, hear my voice! Let your ears be attentive to my voice in supplication.

R. With the Lord there is mercy, and fullness of redemption.

If you, O LORD, mark iniquities, Lord, who can stand? But with you is forgiveness, that you may be revered.

R. With the Lord there is mercy, and fullness of redemption.

I trust in the LORD;my soul trusts in his word. My soul waits for the LORD more than sentinels wait for the dawn.

R. With the Lord there is mercy, and fullness of redemption.

Blessed be!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

everybody's having fun

I'm back again. Jenny and I hosted family and friends for an "engagement" party. I liked this picture with the dogs wrestling in the background while the baby is trying to walk.

It was good to see my family again. We see each other far too seldom.

Our baby is due in October. Right on opening day of waterfowl season. Just kidding. I suppose the birth will take precedence. We will be having the baby in the home with a midwife. It will be a mighty time.

The garden is finally shaping up. We've been putting in an hour or two of weeding time every day. Some of the tomatoes and possibly the corn were adversely effected by the substantial weed growth. Still, we made a curry stew tonight with onions, potatoes, and zuchinni from our garden. And pork from last year's hog. It was fabulous.

We are finishing our hogs this year and hope to get them butchered in October. Boy those pigs can eat. The field corn and sugar beets we planted for the pigs to eat is coming along too. At least we'll be able to start supplementing their diet with them soon.

I'm at the local food coop playing on the internet and drinking tea. I'll be meeting with some friends soon. Good friends, good food, good fellowship. I don't know what more I could ask for.

Friday, August 5, 2011

I'm back...

It's been a while since I wrote. We cancelled our home internet, so I am only online at the library or the coffee shop. We have implemented draconian austerity measures. Internet, cell phones...Simplify, Simplify.

The baby goats are growing at an amazing pace. We were blessed with two healthy goat kids. Both of them were boys though. We are trying to sell them as purebred Saanen herd sires, but if that doesn't work we'll have to sell them for butcher goats...or butcher them ourselves. They are painfully cute.

Jenny and I took a trip to Oregon and spent some time swimming in the Grand Ronde river. The puppies got a little wet too. The puppies are cruising along and we will be able to hunt with Oberon by the end of the month. It'll be his first time out. We are hoping for his hunting and retrieving instincts to kick in. We're a little worried about whether he will bring the birds back to us. He might just think they are his lunch. It'll be all good.

Jenny's pregnancy is progressing beautifully. What a blessing.

As always, we are completely in awe of how blessed we are living out on our farm. The animals are all healthy, the garden is booming, the boys are growing like weeds. We have family coming in to visit this afternoon. What a mighty time.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Pressing Cherry Juice

We harvested 60 pounds of cherries at a friends orchard the other day. We are frantically trying to process them all. We frozen some, made cherry pies, dried some, and used the new cider press to make some cherry juice.

The boys and I went on a backpacking trip in the mountains. The rivers and creeks were a little high for fly-fishing. Tim cut his foot pretty badly and we had to pack up and hike out then drive to the emergency room in a town 3 hours away. He is all stitched up and fine. I have to go back and hike in to get some of the gear we left behind tomorrow.

I have another job interview on Wednesday. I'm looking forward to it. I am at peace with the job situation. Of course, I need the money, but I've done some writing and praying and feel serene about the whole situation. God will provide. God will bring the perfect work into my life. At the moment that work is on the farm and there's plenty of it.

We've been harvesting and processing the early crops. Most of the veggies seem to be coming along. Everything is late, of course, but we should still get a harvest of most things. Some days I feel completely overwhelmed by the magnitude of the farm work that needs to get done. Some days it just feels like we work all day just to keep the animals cared for.

Whisper should give birth any day now. It'll be a mighty time. God has blessed us with such abundance. Sunshine and rain have brought food and fun and family.

All I have seen teaches me to trust the Creator for all I have not seen. Ralph Waldo Emerson

God's creation leaves me so full of wonder. Blessed be.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Cider Press

A couple of days ago we picked up a new (used-new to us) cider press. It was given to us as a wedding gift. We're really excited about it. Got a great price on it.

Speaking of great prices. Since I got laid off, we've been living in a little bit of financial denial. Well, yesterday we started really working some good old fashioned frugality. Got rid of one cell phone line. Cancelled the home satellite internet in favor of surfing at the library or coffee shop in town. Decided to make and bring all of our food for backpacking from home. No fancy freeze dried meals for us.

"Simplify, simplify" "A man is rich in proportion to the number of things he can let alone." - Henry David Thoreau

Friday, June 24, 2011

No more new animals...

No more new animals until Whisper has her kids. Except for this Labrador Retriever we rescued from the shelter. She is only six weeks old and is completely adorable. She and Oberon are (more or less) getting along. They sleep together anyway. Her name is Titania.

Speaking of baby animals. Whisper is very, very pregnant and should be kidding within a week or two.

Hopefully she will wait until after I return from a backpacking/fly-fishing trip I'm taking with the boys. We are going up to a place called Kelly Creek to spend a few days. We plan on hiking in a few miles, setting up a camp, and doing some fishing. If the water is low enough, which is a bit dicey this early in the summer, the fishing is usually great. I can't wait. It'll also give Jenny a few days off from parenting.

The garden is booming along. We grew enough radishes to do the farmer's market, but the lettuce that was supposed to go along with it got eaten by the chickens. So, we have hundreds and hundreds of radishes that are getting ready to bolt and go "woody." I guess you can't complain about having too much food, although it's hard to do too much with a zillion radishes.

The good Lord has blessed us with a beautiful garden this year. We are enjoying it's bounty. We are truly, truly blessed.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Birth Class!

Oh my, spent all weekend in a Bradley Method birthing class. It's really starting to sink in that Jenny is pregnant. We spent the whole weekend talking about birth and babies. We covered a lot of topics in sort of a whirlwind. We will be having a natural home birth. It sounds like an amazing experience.

Came home late this afternoon and got some squash and tomatoes planted. The weeds are taking over, so it's time to spend a few days weeding, mulching, and fertilizing. We have a ton of stuff growing in the garden but with the weeds an general disorganization it looks pretty ramshackle.

We will be having over a hundred children and their parents over to tour the farm and learn about "where food comes from." They are coming from the Methodist Vacation Bible School. Pretty cool, but a little scary.

Well, it's off to say bedtime prayers with Jenny and then I'll probably spend a little more time housecleaning. Blessings,

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Craig Mountain

I went on a solo hiking/scouting trip in the Craig Mountains yesterday. This is the area where I hope to be elk hunting this year. It is a roadless/non-motorized area in which only foot and horseback travel are permitted. I will be hiking or backpacking into the area to hunt.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

The puppy has landed

We picked up our new puppy on Monday! His name is Oberon and he is a German Short-Haired Pointer. He should make a great bird dog. Believe it or not we located a pure-bred Labrador Retriever at the pound too. We'll be picking up that puppy in a few weeks. They'll have each other to chew on and maybe they won't eat quite so many shoes.

We got him into a real pheasant wing today from a bird I shot last season. He really enjoyed playing with that. I'm going to start breaking him to gunfire as soon as I can pick up some .22 blanks. He's showing some great instincts already. He will "point" song birds an chickens. As always, keeping him away from the chickens may be a problem.

I'm bringing Caspian, the goat, in to the vet school (it's practically free) today. Maybe we can get a better idea of what's wrong with his ankles. I'm worried about him. I would be heartbroken if there was nothing we could do for him.

I think I may make a little cheese today. And we are making sausage on Friday. Probably feta cheese today and just bulk venison/pork breakfast links on Friday.

The weather continues to be a gardening challenge. It's also a challenge for everybody's patience as well. We are having the barn restoration day on Saturday. My friend Jason and I poured some concrete footings today. We are going to jack up the barn a couple of inches, put down the footings and brace the foundation with 4x6 beams. Of course we will be cooking up a big farm lunch and dinner for folks who show up to help. What a blessing it is to have such good friends and community.

Life is so wonderful. I am just amazed at how beautifully things are going. I just feel so blessed that I want to keep thanking God every chance I get. We are truly blessed.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Garden Trouble

Two days ago it frosted. Today we had a big hailstorm. The warm weather vegetables are not happy. The basil is history. The squashes will need to be re-planted. The tomatoes are half-dead. Spring on the Palouse. Well, life goes on. We will just have to re-plant.

We've got some friends visiting us for the memorial day weekend. They have four boys under the age of thirteen. That makes for a total of seven young boys in the house. The energy level is high. That's an understatement. It has been loud and rowdy. But really, we are having a great time. The boys are most certainly having a great time.

Our oldest boy has been taking on an increasing amount of responsibility for the animal chores. He's really doing great.

Caspian, the male goat, is getting worse. His front legs are in really bad shape. I have no idea what to do or even what exactly the problem is. I was really having a lot of...emotions...about possibly having to put him down. I don't really know when that decision might have to be made. Not today certainly. Prayed about it a little bit with Jenny. I can't really justify taking him to see a vet...but it is tempting. We decided to call a vet on Tuesday and what they could do in the way of a short visit if I can put Caspian in the back of the truck an bring him in for just a quick look. I was unprepared for how troubling I found the notion of killing him is.

Well, sitting here thinking about how precious each of God's creatures are. They are indeed a blessing. Each and every one of them.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

loose goats in the garden

Jenny and I were hiking up at Kamiak Butte today. The wildflowers were blooming and it was a glorious spring day. When we got back though the goats had escaped and were roaming in the garden and barnyard. They didn't do much damage although they did chew on the cherry trees a little bit.

Spring is such a glorious time on the Palouse. What a blessing.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Farm at the end of the rainbow

A beautiful rainbow leading right to our farm, where we capped off a hard day's work with a strawberry-rhubarb pie. We poured concrete for the base of the clothesline. After meeting some friends for lunch we planted about thirty tomato starts. I don't think all of them will survive. Some of the starts were getting pretty "leggy". That's alright. We should get a fair number of plants out of the deal.

Planted a second planting of greens yesterday. Salad greens, lettuce, and spinach. Also about 100 row feet of beets. The garden is starting to take shape after another long, late spring. Tomorrow we are going to take a day, or part of a day, off and go for a hike. We're going up to a little place called Kamiak Butte. If the weather is right you can see the green Palouse hills and wheat fields for miles around.

I may try to till about an 1/8th of an acre for animal feed. Field corn and sugar beets. The field corn can double as corn for cornbread too. It is a new project for this year. I'm praying for success, but whatever happens we will be blessed. We've got lettuce and radishes almost ready to harvest already. The pigs are looking great. I've never had such healthy, happy looking hogs. I'm really pleased with the piglets we got. Purebred Berkshire hogs from Rocky Ridge Ranch. We are in the planning stages to expanding their pigpen into more of a pastured operation. They need to be contained in a pen anyway until they get a little older, so we're not in a huge rush.

I have been really been feeling so blessed and so close to family, friends, and God this last week. My feelings of connection to God wax and wane. Part of my faith is the act of questioning. As much as I question though, I still always come back to the knowledge that we are all children of God. That this good Earth is an example of his handiwork. That we are so very blessed to live out this life in such a beautiful place. God bless.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Taking a break

Taking a little break from working in the garden. Between teaching, co-parenting, animal care, and trying to get the garden started, I am overwhelmingly busy. I just don't have enough time to get everything into the garden when I'd like to get it planted.

I was thinking about the educational philosopher John Dewey last night. John Dewey writes, among other things, about the role of experience in education. Experience, writes Dewey, is the cornerstone of a meaningful educational experience. Sure we can learn a lot from books. We can even memorize tidbits of information. But in order to really learn something we have to have an experience with it.

When I was 18 I wanted a car. My friend had been given a broken car by his grandmother. Having given up on fixing it, my friend, in turn, sold it to me. For $500 bucks. I knew nothing about working on cars. I could have read the shop manual, and sometimes I did, but I didn't learn how to work on cars until I got underneath one with a wrench. I fixed that car and drove it for another 5 years. Best $500 vehicle I've ever had. It usually ran, and if it didn't, I could make it run within a day or two. I worked on that car in some memorable places.

So, back to the original point, it was the experience of working on cars that taught me how to work on cars. There was no better way to learn than to buy a broken car and possess a strong desire to make it run.

So back to John Dewey in a roundabout way. One of my favorite quotes for my life right now is,

"To find out what one is fitted to do, and to secure an opportunity to do it, is the key to happiness"

I am fitted to do more than just teach in a classroom. I can garden, I can hunt, I can fish, I can care for animals. I can teach on the farm, I can teach at the food c0-0p, I can teach the boys, I can teach my friends. Teaching in a classroom is just one of the many things I am fitted to do. Perhaps another way of saying that would be that I am called to teach. But I can be called to many types of teaching. That calling can change over time. If teaching is my calling, then God will find a way to present me with an opportunity to teach. It is not my place to know how and where and what I will teach. Only to know that when I am called, I must serve.

Don't get me wrong. A salaried job as a school-teacher sounds like it may have some clear advantages, but whatever happens, I will be put to use if I am willing. God, show me how to be willing to serve in whatever way you see fit.

So, I pray that I may open my mind to see how I may serve as a teacher today. Whatever form that may take.

I am so blessed. Time to go plant some snap peas. Blessed be!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

OK, this time for sure....

I am 99.9 percent certain we will actually get a puppy this time. We've picked out a specific puppy and put a deposit on him. We've had quite the series of misadventures trying to get a dog, but I think we've got one this time. Matty helped me pick out a German Short Haired Pointer. He is super cute. He should be a good upland dog as well as a waterfowler.

On another note, there are teaching jobs starting to open up for next fall. I guess the future is in God's hands. Just pray and take the next right action and leave the results up to God. Regardless of what happens, we continue to be so blessed.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Take a kid fishing day

The boys and I had a great day fishing today. We didn't catch much. I caught a catfish which stung me as I tried to release it. The fish were winning the day.

We are trying desperately to contain the chickens so we can finally get the garden in. We let them free range for most of the year and then put them in a large run during gardening season. We've got them all in, but the same four chickens keep escaping somehow. I'm going to work at it in the morning after morning animal chores.

We're going to confine Carissima to her birthing stall on Sunday. I believe she is pretty close to kidding. We are sure hoping everything goes smoothly. We are not experts at this, and I would hate to have to perform any serious interventions. Well, animals give birth all the time without my help.

I just want to keep sharing and sharing how blessed I feel. Having Jenny and the boys here on the farm is amazing. What an amazing gift from God.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Goat kids any day

Carissima is due any day now. We've fixed up a nice birthing stall for her. The boys have decided to sleep out in the barn to let us know when she birthing. Not that they need to. In all probability she will do her business without any one even knowing.

The school year is winding down. I'll be sad to be leaving this job, but it is time to move on anyway. I'm feeling much more comfortable with the layoff. I'm sure that God will provide. Even if it is in a way that I do not expect. I hope it is via another teaching job, but who knows. I am open to all possibilities. I've been meaning to get an application in at the local food co-op as a bread baker. That sounds like lovely work.

We are currently struggling to contain the chickens. They have a huge run, but they have been totally free ranging all fall, winter, and spring. We put them in the run for the summer months to give the garden a fighting chance. The run is in disrepair, and they keep escaping. More work on the run in the morning. They ate a bunch of the new lettuce transplants. We need to get them locked up soon before the other veggies start coming up.

Just a short check-in. I'll get out with the camera soon. Blessings.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

pigs and turkeys oh my!

The pigs have landed. The turkeys have arrived. Spring does seem to be coming although it feels like it coming about one degree at a time. Moving the pigs out of the truck and into the pen was a loud and frantic operation. The pigs are getting used to their new home. The turkeys are settling into their tub in the grow room.

I've been laid off from my teaching position for next fall. I've been surprised at what an effect that has had on my pride and ego. I didn't realize what a large part of my identity has been wrapped up in teaching. In addition to teaching jobs, which are in short supply, I've been considering looking for other work as well. I've done other work besides teaching, but I've always thought of myself as a teacher. Even when I was working as a handyman, I always thought that I was just between teaching gigs. I've been filled with doubt tonight, but it will pass. I have so many blessings maybe I should take a moment and count them in my journal.

We had some friends and their children out for dinner and a play-date last night. Now that's a real blessing in life. Breaking bread with friends and family. Venison chili on baked potatoes with all the fixings. Mmmm. Life is indeed good.

I'm sure I'll be checking in with a lot of animal and vegetable adventures in the next couple of weeks. Blessed be.

Saturday, April 23, 2011


The Sun made an appearance here in N. Idaho today. It was most welcome. It was a lovely gift on this Easter weekend. The long slumbering farm is re-awakening. The goats will soon be giving birth. The chickens are producing an ever increasing number of eggs. Piglets will be coming on Friday. Baby turkeys will be coming soon too.

Usually at this time of year we start corralling the chickens too keep them out of the garden area. Unfortunately that cannot happen right now due to septic construction. Therefore, the garden will be late going in. Sigh. We've planted some new cherry and apple trees though. Along with some raspberries. I'll be putting in an asparagus patch soon too.

Life is mighty fine here on the farm. We are truly blessed. I'd love to be planting more, but it will happen soon enough. By next weekend the construction on the septic will be done and we will be in a whirlwind of gardening activity. I hope your gardens and critters are all coming along. Whatever vegetables and animals we end up with will be a gift. God bless.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Quick update

I don't have anything profound or philosophical to say tonight. I've discovered that caffeine and lack of sleep make my mood wonky. I took Tim, the 12 year old, out for his first turkey hunt last week. We went on two separate days. Both times we had a beautiful morning, but did not come home with a turkey. 12 year old boys have a hard time sitting still for too long. We saw several deer and an owl up close and personal. We heard lots of turkeys and managed to see a couple as well. Nothing close enough for a shot though. We've been hunting on the Youth Hunt. Regular season opens on Friday and I will be going out. I imagine Tim will join me. Bear is also open. I'm toying with the idea of Tim carrying a shotgun for turkey and me carrying a rifle for bear. We'd cover our bases that way. Who knows.

Caspian is feeling better, but it still walking pretty tenderly. I'll just keep an I on him. Our Sundays are very busy with church activities and I've been feeling socially worn out by the end of the weekend. I'm not really an extrovert. Either way, I've made a decision to take it easy on Mondays to recover from my family and social calender over the weekend. It's not that it's not fun, because it is. It just takes a lot of emotional energy for me to be social all day long.

Life is so full. Spring is on its way. Gardening and Spring hunting is taking up a huge amount of my time. The family life is wonderful. The farm life is wonderful. What a blessing.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Injured goat update

Caspian is still on the injured list. In this picture he is sort of leaning against the wall to take weight off his hurt leg. Poor guy.

He did get some exercise today. I'm less worried. I think he's going to be alright.

Everybody else is doing great. Had a busy day with the kids. Took the middle one to a 4-H event. Had a nice lunch at the food co-op. Cleaned out the goat barn. It's much easier to clean the goat barn if you do it every few weeks. Big church day tomorrow. Some farm chores too.

Taking the boys fishing on Monday. I'm looking forward to that. I am feeling so blessed.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Injured Goat

Caspian is injured. I can't figure out what it is. He will not put any weight on one leg. He is limping almost to the point of not walking. I've cleaned and trimmed his hooves. Dipped the injured one in Iodine. Poked and prodded his leg. I just can't figure it. He's always been the most rowdy of the goats, so maybe he just pulled a muscle really badly. I can't see an infection anywhere. He is still eating. I'm so worried about him. I know I can't take a male goat to the vet. He has no monetary value. But he is a good friendly goat nonetheless.

I'm just waiting and watching and cuddling and nurturing.

The plastic blew off the hoop house in a storm and the chickens got in and ate the young lettuce. On the bright side, the indoor plants all look wonderful.

I know I can't complain in the grand scheme of things. I have so much to be grateful for. But there it is. Some days just feel crazier than others.

Blessed be!

Monday, March 28, 2011


Jenny and I just got back from a retreat at the Benedictine monastery of St. Gertrude's. It was an amazing experience. The theme of the retreat was "Valuing Your Life, Living Your Values." It was a perfect topic for me.

I needed to reflect on how valuable this life is to me and to God. I reflected on what I could continue to do to take care of my physical, mental, and spiritual health. I also had the opportunity to reflect on how I could live out my values, Christ's teachings, in my everyday life. Love, Tolerance, Social Justice, Care for those in need, Honesty, Integrity. We focused on the "Sermon on the Mount" and it seemed like a pretty good job description for living a life in Christ.

Jenny's pregnant. We got to hear the heartbeat for the first time on Friday before the retreat. I think that helped make the whole weekend more spiritual and emotional. It's amazing. What a blessing. I've never been a father before. I'm extremely excited. We will be getting married shortly. I will have gone from a childless, life long bachelor to a parent and co-parent of 4 children in a fairly short amount of time.

Life is truly a mystery. I am truly, truly blessed.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Spring break is ending

Spring break has come to a close and it's back to work teaching. There were way more projects on my list than I could have possibly gotten completed. We were going to go for a hike yesterday, but the March weather did not cooperate. We will go in a week or two and maybe get up into the mountains to do some scouting for elk. Tim and I will be going wild turkey hunting soon. We will also be putting in for an elk unit that lots of people have success in. I'm looking forward to getting up into the mountainous area and talking a hike around.

Life is really exciting with the boys here. Sometimes it is overwhelming. Teaching is not the same thing as co-parenting. Either way, I feel so very, very blessed.

Monday, March 14, 2011


We got twenty five beautiful baby chicks in the mail today. It was just as much fun to watch the boys play with the chicks as it was to watch the chicks. I'd forgotten how much fun baby chicks can be.

I was talking with some friends tonight about forgiveness. Sometimes we may feel that we've done something that is unforgivable. Sometimes we may not be forgiven by those we have harmed. Whether or not we are forgiven by others is not the point really. Of course we try to make the situation right. Of course we try to change our behavior. But ultimately we are forgiven by God. Ultimately, forgiveness is always available to us. What a blessing.

We are so truly blessed.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Kids and goats

What lovely day. I've been hanging out all day with the boys. We started the morning in the goat barn. Fed and played with the goats. We trimmed Caspian's hooves and the boys were a great help in keeping him calm while I worked. Later we shot a little skeet. Then we unloaded the antique chicken plucker out of the truck.

Tomorrow I am hauling some large items to the dump, putting an electric motor on the chicken plucker, checking the old dryer vent, and hopefully a few other things. Spring break is a great time for spring cleaning and spring projects. I'm going to build some hoop houses and a better hay feeder for the goats.

Jenny is out with some other moms tonight. I'm staying home and keeping an eye on the boys. They are mostly entertaining themselves so far.

If you see to it each day that your conduct is impeccable, the following day will be completely clear, and you will be free to carry out your plans, always vigilant that you leave no loose ends. In this way, each new day will find you free and well disposed.
Omraam Mikhael Aivanhov
I love this quote. The better my conduct each day, the less worry and anxiety I bring into the next day. The less worry I am carrying around, the more freedom I have to live the following day to its fullest.

I am so truly blessed.