Tuesday, November 27, 2012

better than I was

“I’m not better than any of the rest of you, I'm just better than I was”

Being “broken” is part of the human condition.  At least it is in my Catholic world view.  Our brokenness is the reason behind Christ’s sacrifice.  Being broken is part of our path to God.  Grace is God’s gift to us.  That we are loved even though we are broken.  In fact, we are by God and frequently by others loved because of our brokenness.  Embracing and accepting the ways in which I am flawed is part of my path to healing, to wholeness, and to happiness.  I know that I will never be perfect, but at least I can try to Christ like.  I know I won’t attain that either, but I can strive for that.

And, oh boy am I broken.  But that is the beauty of it.  It makes me who I am.  And my family and friends love me for who I am.  The whole deal.  Not in spite of my flaws, but including my flaws.

Self-centeredness, selfishness, grandiosity, dishonesty, depression, trouble with drink…the list goes on.  But it is OK.  I am loved anyway.  I have hope.  And faith.  And I can try to act more selflessly.  I can work through my depression.  I can try to live with humility.  I can try to not take that first drink.

There is no one who is beyond help.  There is no one who is hopeless.  But I met a guy last night that thought he was.  I am truly saddened when I meet folks who feel hopeless.  He thought he was worse than any of the rest of us.  How grandiose is that. 

Grace is there for anyone.  Grace is there even if we don’t ask for it.  Grace is there even if we aren’t seeking it.  Repentance is important.  Trying to change is great.  Trying to live better is wonderful.  But they aren’t pre-requisites for God’s love.  God loves us anyway.  Trying to live right doesn’t guarantee God’s love, but it does lead to a happier more fulfilling life during my short stay here on earth.  When I live a life of service to God and my fellow man, what I get in return is not a 1st class seat on a jet to heaven.  What I get is simply a better ride on this journey called life. 

My life today is more wonderful than I can ever have imagined.  Had I asked for everything I had dreamt of to come true I would have been selling myself short. 

I’m not better, or luckier, or smarter than anybody else.  It’s not because I try harder, or serve better, or pray more.  I’m not better than anyone else.  I’m just better than I was.

Blessed be.

Monday, November 26, 2012

incubating/brooding eggs

We are looking forward to letting our hens brood on some eggs this spring.  Our eggs are usually fertile as we have three roosters.  We’ve never let the girls sit on eggs before.  Hens generally only get broody in the Spring, which makes perfect sense as the chicks probably wouldn’t survive an Idaho winter without assistance.  In the mean time, we are incubating some eggs inside.  This three egg incubator is designed to be like a kids science project, but it actually works.  We’ve hatched a beautiful pure-bred Auracana rooster in a previous batch.  It was really quite amazing to watch the egg break open and hatch.  It took about a half an hour for the chick to peck his way out.  I don’t know quite what we’ll do with the chicks in the dead of an Idaho winter.  I suppose they’ll have to stay inside for quite a while.

Letting hens brood seems like it’ll be a lot of fun too.  We’ve never done it but Mother Earth news had a really good article on it this month.  I’ll write another post this spring after we’ve successfully (we hope) hatched some chicks.  We have one hen, she’s a little bit older and kind of mangled from an owl attack, that gets broody pretty consistently. 

Does anybody else get wonky in the head when their spouse, lover, partner goes out of town?  It’s been so quiet here today.  Jenny and the boys were in Oregon for most of the day and half the night.  I enjoy the quiet, or at least I think I’m going to enjoy it, but I never do real well.  I frequently don’t eat right or sleep well.  Sometimes I drink coffee, which I almost never do any more.  I get restless and worry about her driving all that distance.  I get lots of stuff done but mostly things like scrubbing the kitchen.  Rarely the major projects that really need my attention.  Usually I like to think of myself as being pretty comfortable in my own skin, but I sure don’t act like it when everyone is gone.  I get really restless and uncomfortable.

“Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10).

Maybe next time the family is gone I’ll make more of conscious effort to make it a day of prayer and meditation as opposed to a day of anxiety and discomfort.

I met with some friends this evening which helped.  I like getting an hour or two of alone time, but I sure don’t seem to like it much when it’s a day or two of alone time.  It gets awful quiet out here in a hurry. 

We are looking at getting another milk cow.  We’ve got our eye on one that we really like.  Another pure-bred Jersey that’s pregnant and has a great disposition.  We could certainly use the milk.  We are sold out on milk most of the time.  We are scrambling to fill orders for our regular customers.  Fancy, our Jersey who’s currently in milk, is producing less and less as the winter progresses.  The goats are producing even less than that and two of them have dried off completely.  I’ll be sure to post pictures if we get the new cow.  Her name is Emma. 


Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Orpans Thanksgiving

Every year we host a Thanksgiving dinner at our home for anyone and everyone who needs a place to go.  Whether it’s old friends who just want to share a meal or new friends who need a place to go.  We make it a point to invite people who can’t spend the holidays with family or don’t have family to visit.  We had our Orphans Thanksgiving today.

I’ll admit, we didn’t have many folks show up, but we were able to share a wonderful home cooked meal with a few new friends.  What a blessing to be able to share the bounty we have been blessed with. 

The ham was especially tasty.  We used a new butcher this year for our pigs and he did a great job.  We raise purebred Berkshire hogs which have a more marbled fat content.  In addition, we fed our pigs milk by products from our cheese making operation.  We’ve heard that milk fed pigs are among the best, and I would have to agree.

We’ll be having another Thanksgiving meal on Thursday with family.  Jenny’s family is traveling in from various parts of the Western United States. We are looking forward to sharing our home with family as well.

I may go out deer hunting in the morning.  It kind of depends on whether or not the weather is cold enough for the muddy ground to freeze.  Judging from the thermometer tonight it should be.  It would be nice to take a deer and add a hundred pounds of venison to the larder.  I’d like to make some venison salami among other things.  Either way, it’s a relaxing way to spend a few hours out in the field in the morning.  I’ll also be setting up my goose blind soon.  We’ve seen a few geese fly by and it’s probably getting to be about the right time of year. 

Come to the Feast.  We have been blessed with such abundance it only seems right to share it with others.  We invite others to come break bread at our table even as we have been invited to break bread at Christ’s table.


Tuesday, November 20, 2012

We Love Food

Food.  It is the focus of our lives.  We grow food.  We raise animals.  We milk goats.  We milk cows.  We gather eggs.  We sell food too.  Milk, cheese, eggs, and sometimes vegetables.  And, of course, we eat food.  We eat good food.  Not too much food.  Not processed food.  Just good, wholesome, and usually organic, local food. 

We eat lots and lots of vegetables.  But we also eat lots of meat and dairy.  We enjoy butter, lard, bacon, and sausage.  Usually from our own animals.  We eat raw milk cheeses.  Goats milk cheeses, cow’s milk cheeses, mostly of our own making.

We love to cook.  Today’s specialties we bacon wrapped dates and pecans.  (OK, so the dates and pecans weren’t local…)  We also made a wonderful pumpkin curry soup.  (That was local and mostly grown by us.)

I originally started writing a manifesto on why it’s so important to eat local and organic food.  It ended up sounding self-righteous and egotistical.  I believe in what I do, a large part of which revolves around how I choose to eat, but I don’t need to convince the world to eat the way we do.

I can, however, suggest some great foodie writers.  Michael Pollan is one.  Barbara Kingsolver, who wrote a wonderful book called “Animal, Vegetable, Miracle”, is another.  The book I’m reading by Joel Salatin is also fantastic.

Anyway, I hope you have been blessed with a good, warm, home-cooked meal with your family tonight.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Depression Passing

Well, the depression is passing.  Back to my usual upbeat self.  When the weather is moody, I tend to get moody too.  The full moon can be an indicator too.  Strange about that. 

So where was I?  Cutting costs I believe.  There are a whole bunch of good texts on living frugally.  “Possum Living” is one of the seminal texts, but there are plenty of more modern sources.  The frugal living section in the Homesteading Today Forum is always good. 

A quick brainstorm we came up with is,

Reduce fuel use-both automobile and far equipment
Reduce money dependence
Shop at thrift stores
Make your own
Grow our own food
Grow our own animal feed
Raise our own meat
Buy hand tools
Take better care of our tools, clothes, books etc., etc.
Grow my own tobacco
Turn of the dang lights
Dry clothes on an indoor line

I’m sure we could come up with many more.  Do you all have any suggestions?

Our clothes dryer recently broke.  Since we don’t have money to replace it we’ve been drying clothes on a line in the sun room.  Taking better care of what we do have is also a major challenge.  The boys are part of the problem, but I’m guilty myself.  Tools get left out in the rain, clothes get abused, books get torn.  We are tough on stuff, but that doesn’t mean we need to make it any tougher through carelessness.  And the big one…fuel use.  We drive to town way too often.  I know we’d get the shack nasties if we just stayed out on the farm and isolated ourselves, but if we could even cut a few trips out we’d save some money around the edges.  It is amazing how many gasoline powered engines we have here on the farm.  Three cars, two tractors, rototiller, lawnmower, weed whackers, etc. 

There are many ways that we do save money, but we could always do to streamline those too.  We shop at thrift stores, grow our own food, raise our own animals, milk the cow and goats, make our own cheese, fix our own appliances where possible.  I’ve grown my own tobacco in the past.  We’ve grown feed for our animals too.  We are really focusing on making next year’s vegetable garden more productive.  Adding raised beds, laying ground covers (cardboard) between the beds, cover cropping, mulching for weeds, increasing our use of manure and compost, and focusing our efforts on our most productive crops.  Our main problem has been weeds, and we are trying everything we can think of besides bombing the whole thing with Roundup.  We are also trying to hay our own ground next summer.  With the larger tractor, I should be able to acquire a mower, rake, and baler for a reasonable amount of money.  I’m hoping to hay my own ground and also hay some neighbor’s ground for shares.  Hay is extremely scarce this year.  Not sure why, but maybe it has to do with the complete lack of rain through most of the summer.  Anyway, hay is scarce and expensive. 

One of the preventative measures I can take in regards to my depression is to practice good sleep “hygiene”, so with that I think I will head to bed. 
Blessings and good night.