Sunday, February 27, 2011

First we must dream

"To accomplish great things, we must not only act, but also dream; not only plan, but also believe."
Anatole France

I believe in my dreams. I believe that dreams can come true. If I act as if those dreams can come to fruition, I set myself up to succeed in attaining them.

Grace. Unmerited favor. I have been blessed with a life that is beyond my wildest imaginings. It is through Grace that I have been saved from the scrap heap and rocketed into the fourth dimension of existence. I am living a life that I could have could have hardly dreamed of at one time.

It is hard to pinpoint an exact moment at which the dream began to come true, but if I had to it would be when I began to take night classes to re-assemble my teaching career ten years ago. I had destroyed my career, and my life in general, by excessive drinking. I had completely failed as a human being. I took a job as an assistant in a classroom, a job I was vastly over-qualified for, and one at which I was hardly confident that I could succeed at. I struggled to wrap my brain around one night class at a time. Slowly, one class and one job at a time, I began to climb up and out of the deep hole I had dug myself into.

There are a lot of "I's" in that paragraph. I did this, I did that. But really all I did was begin to show up for life. From one moment to the next, it was all I could do to just try one more day to do the things that were laid in front of me. As several years passed, I started to believe that, with God's help, I began to believe that there was something out there better than the way I had been living. Really, anything was better than the way I had been living.

Yes, I acted. Yes I planned. But more importantly, I came to believe. To believe that through God's grace I might be restored to sanity. I do dare to have dreams today. I do believe that they can come true. I have been so truly blessed. I don't know what God has in store for me, but anything is better than the way it was.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Am I prepared II?

There are so many things to consider when thinking about being prepared. I have great friends and a great spiritual community, but they are all a 15 mile drive away. My closest real neighbors are a mile or two away, and their kids are all grown and gone. I've been thinking of asking them over for a dinner, but haven't gotten around to it yet.

It's -6 degrees tonight. I'm a little worried about the chickens getting frozen combs and wattles. I wish I had put some Vaseline on their combs. The goats are probably fine. I gave them some straight alfalfa tonight before bed which they devoured. I'm really hoping Carrissima will start to obviously show she's pregnant soon. I'm a wimp about drawing blood from the goats. But I suppose I just need more practice. Whisper will be far enough along for an accurate blood test soon. Maybe I'll just draw blood on both of them at the same time.

I was looking at my self-sufficiency/sustainability "wish list". There are certainly things that would be important to have that I don't have yet. I'd like to figure out a way to pump the well without electricity. The windmill that used to pump it is still there, but whatever mechanism that it operated in the bottom of the well is long gone.

I'm planning on growing some of my own livestock feed myself this year. Field corn and sugar beets. I know this is not all that is needed for a balanced feed, but it is a step in the right direction.

I am still reliant on a "hay for shares" arrangement to get my field hayed. I just can't justify a larger tractor and hay equipment for just 9 acres. My hay field is not of the highest quality, but it is still useful. What I should really do is have someone till it and replant it in alfalfa. I'll have to mull that over for the future, although if I start grazing cattle on it I would just leave it as grass hay.

I'm strongly considering adding electric pig fencing to my wish list. What's on your wish list. Both essentials and for fun. I'd really like a cider press. I know a person can live without cider, but it sure would be fun to press some apples.

We are going to add cherry trees and try the raspberries again this year. Maybe I'll add another young apple tree or some younger plums. The plum trees I've got have gotten a little wild.

I saw a great quote the other day.

By saying grace, we release the Divine sparks in our food.
Rabbi Herschel

Stay warm and may God's blessings find you wherever you take your meal and lay your head tonight.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Am I prepared?

About twenty years ago, when people talked about "being prepared" we all got the same image of the paranoid survivalist with a bunker full of guns and ammunition. Not that there is anything wrong with guns and ammunition, just that that isn't really what the "Prepper" movement is about today. To me, and to many others I connect with, it is about having a plan for sustainable living-should political, economic, or physical circumstances warrant.

I wrote a while ago about being physically, mentally, and spiritually prepared. Well, I lost those 40 pounds I talked about although I've gained 5 of them back. My body is much more physically prepared for hardships and challenges. I just more physically prepared to do anything-fun or not so fun.

I talked a while ago about how I would run my farm should fossil fuels become prohibitively expensive or unavailable. I had a funny conundrum yesterday. I needed to plow the driveway. I needed (or wanted) the tractor to do it. Only the tractor needed diesel to run. So I needed to drive to town to get a big can of diesel fuel only the trucks were already both stuck in the snow. Which was why I needed the tractor in the first place. So, in the end, despite owning a bunch of big machines, I still ended up digging the truck out with a shovel, so I could go to town to go get diesel for the tractor to plow the driveway. Sounds like a Dr. Seuss rhyme.

Rambling back to my original point, can I live sustainably in a long or short term political, economic, or physical (back to the ENERGY issue) emergency. I could, but it would be hard. Imagine having to till an acre or more by hand. No tractor. Imagine haying 9 acres by hand. Sure people have done it in the past, but I sure never have.

I've been thinking about this a lot. I'm not going to create a 100 item survival list on my blog, but I have one on paper. And I have a lot of the stuff on it. There's a lot more stuff I would love to have that I don't.

Hand tools, propane back-up stove, generator, pressure canner, lots and lots of mason jars, bulk foods, animals, breeding pairs of animals (yep, just like Noah), physical gold and silver, guns, ammunition, freezer full of food, root cellar, 55 gallon drum of drinking water...the list goes on. Some of these things I have already, some I don't.

I don't really think there is going to be gasoline one day and none the next, but if you're old enough you can still remember the lines at gas stations in the 1970's. Even last year folks panicked when gas hit $4.00 a gallon. What would it be like if gas were $10.00 a gallon. $15.00? Will the dollar continue to be the king of currency? Maybe not. What happens if $10.00 doesn't buy a loaf of bread.

OK, OK, enough of the rant. But how prepared are we all for general weirdness? How prepared am I? Things seem a little weird all over right now. I just want to be able to ride out a storm should one occur.


Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Is it Spring yet?

Wow! Lots of snow. How do you get a 3/4 ton Ford F-250 4x4 stuck? By sliding sideways off my driveway and into a three foot snow drift apparently. It's hard to imagine with tomatoes, peppers, basil, and lettuce coming up in the grow room that Spring is far off, but when you look out the window it seems impossible that it will ever get here. I fell in a waist high snow drift carrying the goat's hot water this morning in a 10 gallon jug. Blech.

Well, enough of that. Shall we count blessings? I'm warm and snug in my little farmhouse. Jenny is moving in with the boys this weekend. I've got great friends. Wonderful family. A faith and trust in a loving God. A bunch of great animals. A job in which I am able to be of service to families who want and need my help. A freezer and pantry full of wonderful, wholesome food. A princess of a house cat. Reasonably good health. Ahhhh. Not much to complain about really.

Spring will come in due time and summer will follow. Turkey and bear season are on the way. Planting season will come soon after. There will be plenty to keep me busy and fulfilled. I might even wistfully wish for a night of being snowed in.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Jenny and the goats

Jenny and the boys are going back to Oregon today. They will finish packing and be moving in next week. Wow! We had a great time taking care of the animals, cooking, playing games, sledding, shooting, just hanging out.

Carissima is looking more and more like a pregnant goat each day. We really are hoping she is. I should probably test her and Whisper as soon as Whisper is able to be tested.

We ordered 25 baby chicks yesterday. They'll be coming in mid-March. We got a couple of different types. Some goofy looking ones that the boys picked out, and some practical birds that Jenny and I picked out. They'll all lay eggs. Just some of the might look funnier wandering around than others.

What a blessing this all is. I was talking with some friends about expressing gratitude last night. How hard it can sometimes be to let people know you are grateful for them. How hard it can sometimes be to keep an attitude of gratitude.

I am so grateful for the life I've been given. What a blessing.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Getting ready for turkey season

Well, one can wish can't they. Despite the fact that there is a foot of snow on the ground, it was beautiful, warm, and sunny today. The sun shining through the snow and ice on the trees was lovely.

We got out Tim's 20 gauge and practiced a little bit on a turkey target. Just getting ready for the youth turkey hunt in early April. Now, I am by no means an expert at turkey hunting, but I do know the land pretty well and I know where we'll at least see some turkeys. Finding a gobbler and getting a shot may be more of a matter of luck than any skill I possess.

The goats are loving having the boys here. We are hoping that both Whisper and Carissima are now pregnant. Carrisima is due, if she's pregnant, in May, and Whisper a little later. Still have to do the math on that one. In any event, I've been avoiding doing the blood tests hoping that they will start showing soon. I can't do the blood test on Whisper for another few weeks anyway as she was only bred in the last week or two.

It is such a blessing to have Jenny and the boys here. They are moving in full time next weekend. It is a huge transition for all of us, but we seem to be handling it with a little grace. Each day I feel more and more blessed for the wonderful life I've been given.

Sunday, February 13, 2011


"Hope begins in the dark, the stubborn hope that if you just show up and try to do the right thing, the dawn will come. You wait and watch and work: you don't give up."

Anne Lamott

" May your unfailing love rest upon us, O LORD, even as we put our hope in you."
Psalm 33:22

Sometimes waiting is the hardest work. Waiting for Spring. Waiting for love. Waiting to see if the goats are pregnant. Waiting to give God's love a chance to manifest itself.

But waiting is not the same as doing nothing. While I wait, I work. I pray with my hands. I plant seeds indoors, I care for the goats, I feed the chickens, I collect the eggs. I clean up the barnyard and make a burn pile. I try to do the next thing in front of me. I don't begrudge the present. Even when the present can feel like an endless February day. There is still plenty of farm work to be done, even in February when it seems like the world is still asleep.

The goats need to be fed and brushed. Carissima is starting to look pregnant. Either that or she is getting a beer belly. We're hoping Whisper is pregnant as well. The chickens are laying more and more eggs daily. A load of straw needs to be picked up and loaded into the barn. Bedding needs to be cleaned. Baby chicks need to be ordered. Starts need to be planted and watered.

And wild turkey season is right around the corner. And maybe a few more steelhead fishing trips. I love turkey hunting. I walk into the woods in the dark. Listening to owls hooting and turkeys gobbling from the trees in the pre-dawn. Finding a place to set up where I think they might fly down off their roosts. Waiting for the dawn to come. Waiting and more waiting.

February is like the glimmer of dawn before the sunrise of Spring. It's too early to really hope that Spring is here, but you can see a glimmer of it. You act as if Spring will actually come one day. You work, preparing for Spring for the dawn. And it does come. Dawn comes, the seasons change, Christ is resurrected, and the world is reborn.

What a blessing. We had a nice, sunny, warm late winter day today. The kind that reminds you that February does not last forever and that Spring is on its way. Blessings,

Saturday, February 12, 2011


I promise pictures soon! Really!

Whisper is home from "goat camp". Hopefully she is nice and pregnant. The other goats were kind of head butting and shoving her around. I think they smelled the strange male scent on her.

I drove 300+ miles there and back to pick her up. I fell asleep at the wheel, pulled over and slept, then took some "No-Doz" to finish the drive home. They are 200 milligrams of straight caffeine each tablet. Now I am wide awake and feel awful. Oh well. I don't think I've taken a No-Doz in 25 years. Ouch!

Jenny and the boys are away for a week and a half. I miss them terribly. Only a couple of more weeks until they move in permenantly.

I'm sorry if the blog has been off track the last couple of posts. I'll get back on topic. Homesteading adventures with lots of fun pictures.

It is nice to have the goat family all back even if they are acting weird. The extra 20 chickens have really ramped up the egg production. I've got several orders that I fill weekly, but I'll probably have eggs leftover to sell to the food co-op anyway. With the boys here soon I'll need plenty of eggs and goats milk anyway. I've got tomatoes, hot peppers, and basil coming up in the grow room. Spring feels like it is finally on its way. What a blessing. The circle is coming back around to the growing and gardening time. The sun will return and the earth will again renew itself. New plants, blooming apple trees, baby goats, and plenty of eggs.

Blessed be

Thursday, February 10, 2011

A nice visit

Jenny and the boys have been here and gone again. It was a great week long visit, but now it is back to being the bachelor. They'll be moving in permenantly on March 1st and I can't wait. It was wonderful to have them here for an extended visit. A grand experiment.

We did a lot of everyday stuff. It was interesting for me to work all day and come home to a house full of kids. It was great really. I still made some time to take a little personal space and also to spend time with some friends.

I took the boys steelhead fishing. The conditions were not great and we didn't catch anything. Better luck next time. Tim, the oldest, finished his hunter safety class and got his card. We shot a little bit with the .22. We were going to shoot some skeet but never got a break in the weather. He and I are going to go out on the Youth Turkey Hunt in early April. We are both really excited.

Whisper is coming back from goat camp this Saturday. It will be nice to have all three goats back. The chickens are laying up a storm and I have plenty of eggs to sell. The boys were a great help with the farm chores.

We planted some tomato, pepper, and basil starts in the grow room. Spring must be on its way soon.

Jenny and I watched the move "Collapse" which I would recommend. It is a documentary about "peak oil" theory. It is a little alarmist and a little short on proof, but thought provoking none-the-less. We are going to watch a more uplifting documentary called, "The Power of Community-How Cuba Survived Peak Oil" next week. It is supposed to be good.

Our retreat at the Benedictine monastery got canceled, but we are planning to go on a different one later in Spring.

The circle continues unbroken. Winter into Spring and someday into summer again. Planting starts, fishing for steelhead, turkey hunting, ordering baby chicks, birthing goats. All signs of springs imminent arrival. What a miracle. What a blessing. I feel so truly blessed.