Sunday, January 30, 2011

New hens

No pictures today. Jenny was in for a short visit and it's been crazy busy. She'll be returning in just a couple of days with the boys for a week visit. I am so looking forward to that. As a life-long childless bachelor it's going to be quite a shock. Jenny and I worked hard moving stuff in, organizing, lifting, and assembling.

The other thing we did was acquire 20 free laying hens! It was more work in cramped quarters to get them caught, loaded in the truck, and released in the hen house. They've already started laying in their new home. Sometimes new chickens will be "off" for a couple of days, but these seem to be settling in fairly well. I don't think they are used to free ranging because they haven't left the hen house yet. I need to get them eating a little more calcium. There egg shells are thin. Oyster shell for starters and then bugs and weeds when they decide to venture outside. In any event, the extra eggs will be a big help. I've been struggling to meet some orders and with the boys moving in would have been short some eggs. This will definitely solve that problem.

I met with some friends briefly after Jenny had left. Good friends are such a blessing. Having Jenny and her boys moving out to the farm is a blessing too even if it is a little scary sometimes.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Goat Camp

Well, Whisper is off to goat camp. Which is a nice way of saying that I'm getting her bred. Hopefully I will end up with two goats in milk with a handful of kids. We'll need it to supply milk for three growing boys and Jenny and I. I also plan to continue to make cheese. I picked up an antique "Viking" cream separator as well. We can use this to make cream for butter and of course cream for the coffee. When I manage to get the cream separator re-assembled I'll be sure to post a picture of it. It is quite the contraption.

Here is a picture of the fort the boys made out of hay and straw bales in the loft. Unfortunately I'm going to have to partially dis-assemble it to feed the goats.

It was a lot of driving to drop Whisper off, 300 miles round trip, but I was able to combine it with running some other errands up North. Although Moscow and Lewiston are fairly close by, there are still things I can't get here. I either have to drive to Coeur d Alene or order online and pay shipping. It was a nice trip, but tiring.

Friday, January 21, 2011


"Few souls understand what God would accomplish in them if they were to abandon themselves unreservedly to Him and if they were to allow His grace to mold them accordingly." -- St. Ignatius Loyola

Why is it that I sometimes think that accomplishments are achieved by force of will. My will. When I'm spiritually fit, I ask for God to guide me and my actions. Then I act with all the strength I can muster. It is by abandoning myself that I accomplish great things.

Of course I am not always spiritually fit. Lost in selfishness, self-pity, and remorse. Sometimes I forget all about God. Forget all about serving my fellow man.

When I abandon self, I allow God's grace to mold me, and then I am truly blessed.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011


"And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee:
for my strength is made perfect in weakness.
Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities,
that the power of Christ may rest upon me."
2 Corinthians 12:9

I visited a man in the hospital the other day. He had found out he had cancer and had relapsed on narcotics. He had overdosed and almost died. I wanted to help him. To reach out, to console, to encourage, to lift up. I don't know if I was able to be of any help at all. I don't know if I had any of the right words to say. What I did say was that I had been there. That I knew what it felt like to wake up in a hospital bed, alone, in a strange town. Bewildered. Lost. Terrified. Knowing that I had drank too much, to often, for too many years. But not quite being able to piece together how I had come to find myself in this particular hospital, on this particular morning, in this particular town.

What I could say was that I had been where he was and that there was a way out. That, although he couldn't see it, there was hope. That in that moment of weakness and infirmity, strength might be found. I didn't think I could get to where I am today from where I was then. In fact I couldn't even see here from there. I have found a life beyond my wildest imaginings. I am living in a dream. Not because I "made" it happen. Not because I deserved it. But because of Grace. The mystery of grace is that it, "finds you where you are but doesn't leave you where it found you." Through grace I have been given a new life. A second chance. Because, you see, God does forgive. And the more beaten, the weaker, the more infirm you are the greater the strength you will be given. God's strength truly is made perfect in weakness.

I don't know if anything I said will help this friend. I don't think any human power can help in a situation like that. What I can do is be a witness that in weakness and infirmity there is a power. Just over the horizon. Where you can't quite see it yet. There is strength. There is a way up and out. There is Grace. It is waiting for you.

And today I feel truly, truly blessed.

Monday, January 17, 2011

A Happy gang on the farm

What a happy crew on the farm. We played with the goats, collected eggs, played in the hayloft, made an apple pie, and made French stuffed pumpkin for dinner. We are having a ball. I'm sure the goats are too.

Jenny and the boys go home for a couple of weeks today. We'll try to go steelhead fishing net weekend as a family. Then Whisper goes to "goat-camp" to get bred. We will be looking forward to multiple goat births in early summer. That'll be a wild time.

The stuffed pumpkin had mashed potatoes, onions, and venison/pork sausage in it. Along with traditional pumpkin spices. Nutmeg, cinnamon, allspice, and ginger. It turned out great and so did the apple pie.

We are having a bit of a windstorm. It must have knocked the power out sometime in the night.

What a wonderful time we all have had. We made a lot of connections at church this weekend. We are looking forward to getting involved in 4-H. We are looking forward to getting involved in the youth activities at church.

It is going to be pretty lonely this next couple of weeks out here on the farm. Plenty to do though. With teaching and getting the house prepared for Jenny and the boys to move in, plus all of the regular chores, I'll be pretty busy.

Well, as usual, I am feeling blessed. Blessed to have such wonderful new adventures coming into my life. Cheers.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

pleasantly exhausted

What a wonderful weekend it is turning out to be. Jenny is visiting with her boys. Today we cleaned the chicken coop. Ten willing (well, various levels of willingness) hands made it much easier a task. Nonetheless, it was still a backbreaking chore. It was really messy.

With the chicken coop cleaned, Tim, the twelve year old, and I went partridge hunting. No birds today, but yesterday he shot one. His first bird on his first time bird hunting.

We are having a game dinner of partridge, pheasant and mallard. It should be wonderful. We are going to perform a science experiment on the canned sauerkraut later. We will be testing the acidity of the kraut with litmus paper. Canned kraut is supposed to have a ph of 4 to be safe. (I actually tested it myself earlier and it looks to be right at 4.)

Although I have been teaching for almost 20 years, I have never had children of my own. I am not used to having them in the house 24 hours a day. It's been wonderful but exhausting. I have the utmost respect for parents everywhere.

I have lined up a "farm-sitter" for Jenny and I's retreat to a Benedictine Monastery. It will be wonderful weekend of prayer and togetherness. The retreat is over Valentines day and is focused on praying and meditating together as a couple. We are both looking forward to the weekend immensely.

We went as a family to a "Farmer's Mixer" last night. It was organized by the local food co-op and was a chance for local, small, sustainable farmers to meet and network. It sounds like there is quite a market for local, pasture raised beef and pork. Something to think about for the future. Both of those are possibilities for us. My property is fenced for cattle and it is possible that it could be modified for pigs as well.

Everything about this weekend has been such a blessing. Even my sore back and exhausted muscles. It feels good to get some good hard chores done. God is being such a "show-off". I am feeling truly, truly blessed.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Pipes thawed

Yay! The pipes thawed out. In fact we are going to get a big January thaw. 35-40 degrees all week. This should bring the geese up from the valley for one last shot at hunting them. Season closes Sunday I think.

Jenny and her boys are coming to visit tomorrow. This will be the boys' first visit to the farm. I think it will be a ball. I'm sure they will love it here. The oldest boy and I will do a little partridge and bunny hunting. There is plenty to explore for the younger boys too. It will be fun to introduce them to the animals. We may even clean out the chicken coop. Oh what fun that will be! It would have been quite an adventure to have a full house with no running water.

I'm really glad the pipes have thawed and that they don't appear to have burst anywhere. I did a quick crawl under the house (Oh what fun that was) to check, and I didn't see anything out of order.

We have a "small farmers' mixer" to go to on Friday. And Church on Sunday. Other than that it will just be exploring the farm and exploring the town.

What a blessing this all is. So unexpected. I feel so truly blessed.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

frozen pipes

Well dang, the pipes are frozen. The faucets were on, but they froze anyway. It was only about 12 degrees. Not even that cold. I had to melt snow to get water to the goats. I could use a shower before I teach, but maybe I'll just melt a little water and wash my face.
I had a splendid weekend at Jenny's. Got to spend some more time with the boys. Three little boys can really wear you out. Jenny and the boys are coming out to visit on Thursday. It will be their first visit to the farm. I am praying that all goes well. They are excited to see the farm and meet the animals.

When they move in we will be getting baby chicks and weaner pigs so that will add to the excitement. Then will have goats giving birth. And maybe a puppy by mid-summer. It'll be a lively time. All hands on deck! Carrissima is starting to look a little pregnant. I may or may not do a blood test in a few weeks. I am really not that good at drawing blood from goats.

Well, I'll try to get out and about with the camera. I am really feeling incredibly blessed. I get to go to work today and be a good teacher.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Sausage Making

Finally got around to making more venison sausage. I usually mix 1/2 venison and 1/2 fatty pork. I used breakfast sausage spices for this batch. Ginseng, nutmeg, white pepper, thyme, and salt. I accidentally added more Ginseng than I had planned on. Unfortunately I was tired and didn't want to take the time to stuff it into sheep casings. I like links more than bulk sausage, but there it is. Jenny and I are going to make some more sausage on one of her visits soon. Maybe bratwurst. Those we'll stuff into casings for sure. Everything is more fun when you're doing it with a friend.

I've been crazy busy the last couple of days. I forgot how emotionally draining it is to teach special education. I came home last night, called Jenny and fell asleep for an hour. I have so much to do before Friday. I'm headed to Jenny's house for a visit. It's about 4 hours away. I have to get the chicken coop cleaned before I leave, but I teach tomorrow and have an administrative meeting as well. I'll either end up cleaning the coop at night by the headlights of the tractor or doing it Friday morning before I leave. Neither option sounds great. Nobody likes to shovel poop. Especially on a dark, winter night. I also have to deliver eggs and check on a friends cat early tomorrow morning before work. Poor me...LoL.

I'm actually loving this week of teaching. It's been going great. Both the kids and I have a lot more energy after the Christmas break. I am so blessed to have a job that I love. And a farm that I love to take care of. And a beautiful woman in my life. Life is good, I feel truly blessed.

Teaching quote for the day: "To stimulate ... untrained minds is to play with mighty fires." W.E.B. Du Bois

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Late night on the farm

Sorry about the lack of pictures lately. It's been so darn cold outside I haven't wanted to spend an extra moment out there. The pipes on the washing machine froze the other day. Thankfully, the rest of the pipes are still clear. I fell asleep early on the couch last night, so of course I am now awake in the middle of the night. Well, early, early morning I guess.

I was going to make sausage, but the meat is still frozen. I guess I'll have to wait until tomorrow. I'm over booked tomorrow already. Teaching, phone calls, cleaning the chicken coop (ugh!). I suppose I will find time.

The goats are happy despite the cold. Carissima is back from "goat camp" and hopefully is pregnant. I'll do a test in a couple of weeks. I will be bringing Whisper up to get bred soon too. There could be a lot of goats around here this spring! I was debating whether to breed Whisper this year, as she is a little small, but Jenny is moving in with her three boys and the extra milk would be wonderful. Whisper has also hit a growth spurt in the last month, so I think she is big enough now. That could mean anywhere from 4-8 new goat kids. 95% of the time goat births happen without any trouble at all. I'm not so confident of being able to handle a troublesome birth, so I hope it doesn't come to that. Jenny seems more confident than I that we would be able to handle the situation.

The thought of having Jenny and the three boys move in is amazing. The boys sound excited about baby chicks, piglets, and goat kids. We are planning to raise heritage breed pigs this year. It will be a little more expensive for the weaner pigs, but hopefully it will be worth it in the end. The meat is supposed to be amazing. We are looking at two breeds. Pure bred Berkshires or a breed called the Red Wattle. Either one sounds great. The Red Wattle is a threatened breed, so it would be nice to encourage the continued viability of the breed. We'll just have to see how it pans out with the breeders.

I'll try to take some pictures tomorrow and get something more interesting posted than my musings. Have a blessed day.