Thursday, September 29, 2005

Seeking freedom....

In our journey here on the farm, we have been seeking freedom...freedom from relying on others for things that we can do for ourselves with God's help. I have seen this mentioned on several blogs lately so it seems that other hearts are being stirred as well. Just when we begin to congratulate ourselves on achieving freedom in an area, we are brought up short (isn't God faithful!) and shown another area that we need to work on. It has amazed us how many times this has happened!

For instance, when we began raising chickens for eggs we felt independent....but we still buy feed.... When we began raising our chickens for meat and butchering them ourselves we thought "freedom!"....but we were buying the chicks. When we bought some calves and raised them for meat we felt "we did it!"....but we still bought the calves. We began raising our own veggies several years ago but realized we were still buying the seeds. And the list goes on...

God was gently showing us that we weren't as free as we thought! We have been taking steps over the years to change this where we can. Will we ever be completely free? I don't know...I hope so. Each year we try to walk a little more in that direction with God's help.

Historically, this seemed an achievable fact it seemed to be the normative lifestyle for most agrarian folks. If they needed something that they didn't raise they were able to barter with someone else to get that item. Surely this is achievable again....

Last year we started taking eggs and incubating them and raising our own was very successful. This year we robbed eggs from a guinea nest and raised the young ourselves. This year we will breed our milk cows to a black angus bull and raise our own meat.

We began saving seeds several years ago. Do we produce all of our own each year we get a little further along. We learned a lot about seed saving and why every farm should be doing this goes much deeper than the cost savings, the independence issue or the desire to disengage from "Big Ag". But, that is another post for another day.

We aren't "there" by any means but each time we do a little more for ourselves there comes a satisfaction that is hard to explain. I believe it comes from fulfilling God's original intent for our lives. Each step on this journey takes us a little further towards our goal...greater freedom from the world and it's system and a deeper reliance on God. We praise Him for this great journey!


Well worked!! The wild yeast has been successfully captured and is bubbling away on my kitchen counter. How did everyone else do? Milkmaid...this is good news (for the bread) but from your posts I would say bad news for the colby cheese I am about to try!

I am looking forward to sourdough pancakes, pizza, muffins and bread! Let's see...I make these awesome garlic sourdough they would be even better! I'll let you know next week!

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Multigenerational living/farming...walkin' it out....

Scott Terry has a great post on his blog (Homesteader Life) about getting rid of nursing homes.
Since we are in the process of walking through this calling, I thought I would share.

Nursing homes have always been abhorrent to me. I never understood warehousing our old and infirm. I attribute a lot of this warehousing to the me generation, the instant gratification culture and our lack of respect for all forms of life...especially those inconvenient ones.

Many years ago, after my Grandma passed away, we asked Grandpa to come and live with us. He didn't want to leave his church, friends and the small town he had lived in for 50 years. We visited and kept in touch through phone and mail often. Three years after Grandma died, I got a call that Grandpa was in the hospital. Of course the hospital would not tell me anything over the phone. So...I packed up the kids (3 at the time), the school books (praising God for leading us to homeschool) and we left for Indiana. I got to the hospital and found out that he had bone cancer, very advanced and was given a few short months to live. The decision was made, by those in the family with decision-making powers, to put him in a nursing home. It made my blood boil. Grandpa and I were very close. I just informed the decision makers that I was staying, the kids were staying and we were bringing Grandpa home. His wishes were to spend his final days in the home he loved. I am thankful that we were able to give him that. He was a blessing to me and to my children. Many things can be said and learned in those final days together.

What amazed me was how much this upset the decision makers. What it boiled down to, in my humble opinion, was that the decision makers recognized the fact that this was their responsibility but it was a distasteful that they really didn't want to handle themselves.
They felt uncomfortable that I was stepping in and taking this responsibility...I think the truth was that they felt guilty. They were shirking their responsibility and they knew it. It was ok to pay someone to do this but not ok to have another family member take it on. I was told "this isn't your responsibility", but I felt that it was.

Well, then Dad came down with Alzheimers. A very difficult disease. He was kept at home for a very long time. I kept Dad certain days of the week. My Mom eventually placed him in an assisted-living facility when his actions became dangerous. I did not agree with this decision but had no power to change it. Thankfully Dad was unaware of his surroundings.

Now, here we are on the farm. My Mom lived with us for 2 years but she is very independent...and we have 4 boys. Mom had gotten used to quiet, complete order (a "never anything out of place" type of order) and she wanted her own place. She decided to put a small house here on the farm.

In the last 7 years, her health has declined and she needs more help. The boys help take care of the yard, empty the trash from her house, change her light bulbs, help her clean. We do all the repair and upkeep around her house for her, help her with her checkbook, take her shopping etc. We fix a lot of her meals or she eats with us. We check in on her several times a day. We call if we are away more than a few hours. She calls often...even when we are home. We ask for her help in small ways...mending...watching kids...slicing veggies for the dehydrator. It is important to her to know that she is contributing and she is important . We are very grateful for her help. She takes a great load off of my shoulders many times. My boys know that I need her, that she helps carry the load.

This is not an easy walk. Often times this is inconvnient...especially as her patience seems to decline as her age goes up! We don't always handle things well. Sometimes we really mess up and have to retrace our steps, retract our words and make things right.

We know that the time will come when she will need to be back in our home. We are preparing for that. We look forward to that. The lessons in this walk have been invaluable to our children. They see that you can respond to your elders with respect and love, even when they are difficult. They know that her life is valuable, that she can still contribute, that she is important in the operation of this farm...even if she isn't out pulling weeds and hoeing corn. They have learned to treat the elderly with dignity and this carries over to the elderly in our church and our community. They watch us walk through the difficult days and learn to persevere with gentleness and love. They see us apologize when we are at fault and even sometimes if we weren't at fault. We teach them that within the family, it is more important to desire peace than it is to desire to be right. These are important lessons. They know that Grandma will be here one day again.

I know when I am old and infirm that my boys will value my life. I will have a place in their homes and hearts. I know these things because they are walking this path with us now. They are learning the lessons and the fruit is showing in their young lives. We are not doing an extraordinary thing. I think we are walking the path that God designed for families. This is the way things used to be....before big cities, dual incomes and the entertainment lifestyle.

I can honestly say that having multiple generations living together has added something invaluable to all of our lives. Each one of us has learned great lessons and has been blessed through this....God truly knows best....we wouldn't change a thing!

Stalking the wild yeast!

First of all, I need to say that I am in the middle of this experiment so I don't know if it will be successful or not. But here are the directions for those of you who wish to join me on this adventure. Wild yeast resides in your own kitchen...especially if you bake with yeast fairly often. The best times to capture wild yeast is summer and fall. Yeast doesn't survive well in cooler weather. Here are the ingredients for the trap... 2 cups warm water, 1 tablespoon sugar or honey and 2 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour. Mix the water, flour and sweetener together thoroughly in a clean, scalded, glass or ceramic bowl. Do not ever use metal when trying to catch yeast or when working with a sourdough starter. The scalding ensures that you are starting "clean". Cover the bowl with a clean dishcloth. Put it where you think you might have the highest concentration of airborne yeast and where it will be warm so that it will ferment. I put it in the corner of my kitchen where I always mix and work my bread dough each week. If the surface starts to look dry, give it a stir. I stir mine each day. It should begin to "work" in the first day or two if it is going to work at all. If it does, your trap worked! Let it work for 3 or 4 days giving it a stir every day. When it's developed a yeasty, sour aroma, put it in a clean jar with a loose lid and refrigerate it until you're ready to use it. If it begins to mold or develop a strange color or odor instead of a "clean, sour aroma" THROW IT OUT!! There are other variations...for instance use water left from cooking potatoes to make your starter....yeast thrives on that and it adds a wonderful taste to your sourdough. I found this "Capture Wild Yeast" information on the King Arthur Flour Company's web site.You can check them out for more variations or to order starter....just in case your trap fails.

Monday, September 26, 2005

High Tunnels

Saw an awesome presentation tonight by a farmer friend, Paul Wiedeger. He is located in South Central KY .He and his wife Allison raise beef, chickens (meat and eggs), cut flowers and veggies. But tonight he talked of growing year round in unheated high tunnels.

During spring, summer and early fall, they sell at their local farmer's market although they take pre-orders, via email, that can be picked up at that market. But during the colder months they grow the cool season crops in high tunnels. They service their customers 52 weeks a year.
As Allison says, "The good news is that you can harvest and sell 52 weeks a year." As Paul says, "The bad news is that you can harvest and sell 52 weeks a year."

They had a great video showing their farm, their marketing techniques etc. It was amazing to think of tromping through the snow, getting inside the high tunnel, shedding your coat and harvesting a salad for dinner, along with carrots, radishes, beets etc. Quite inspiring. They also use them come March to plant tomatoes, cukes, peppers etc into. They have BEAUTIFUL tomatoes by Memorial Day! You can check out Paul and Allison's website to see their beautiful pictures....

I am hoping that this is something we can add to our little venture here on the farm.

Well, the auction signs went up this weekend. It is being done by a local company that has a reputation for placing as many single wides as possible on the smallest pieces of land....sigh.
We are praying that this land will end up in the hands of a few instead of many. Many thanks to those of you who have offered to stand with us in prayer over this auction.

Another adventure happening right now in my kitchen...a great adventure...the trap has been set to catch wild yeast. We are working on trapping our own wild yeast for Sourdough starter...I'll know in a day or two if our trap has been productive...this has been one of my favorite homeschool science projects...mainly cause it will taste SO good in the end!

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Sad News

We had very sad news this week. The people who own the land between our farm and the next farm are thinking about selling out. I have been amazed at the amount of farms that have been auctioned off since we arrived here 7 years ago.

This young man, Eddie, and his dad were dairy farmers. About 2 years ago, they had to sell off all their cows...the people producing the gallon jugs were making more on a gallon of milk than the farmers providing the milk! Eddie began working off the farm...he started taking contract work - all over the Eastern seaboard. He travels almost every week.. He leaves his wife, who also works full time off the farm, and his 2 young kids while he travels and tries to make enough money to keep things going.

Eddie's farm is about 3 miles up the road but he happens to own this land next to us also. He used to plant tobacco on one field and bale the rest for hay to feed the cows. No need for hay. Eddie's wife wants to move closer to her family. I'm sure she wants some support around her since Eddie is on the road so much.

It is a beautiful piece of land....backs up to a creek that runs at the bottom of the mountain ridge
along the length of this valley. The worst part...if they decide to sell they will auction it off. I don't know what happens at an auction where ya'll live but in this area it means only one thing...a mobile home park and unfortunately they usually end up pretty shabby....

My Mom, almost 80, is devastated...she has such a beautiful view from her screened porch and back windows. She is worried about noise, street lights, crime.....with good reason. We have seen it happen elsewhere in this little valley. She wants to move...I've explained that we can't pick up and move every time a neighbor decides to sell a farm....just really sad news.

We are praying....

Friday, September 16, 2005

Baling hay

Wednesday we baled hay. Square bales. Hundreds of them. Baling hay is probably the hardest and most time consuming job here on our little farm. I know this is strange but I like baling hay. Granted, I am not out there hefting these bales onto the farm wagon. I am driving the truck or the tractor and pulling the hay wagon. Sometimes I drive the tractor and bale the hay while the guys load the farm wagon coming behind me.

This time my 7 year old rode with me in the truck pulling the hay wagon while Dad drove the tractor and baled the hay. My youngest decided that his job would be to tell me when to stop and when to go. (He needs a bit more experience!) My 15 year old worked putting the bales on the wagon while my 12 year old stacked them and kept the wagon neat so as to hold as many bales as possible (and pointed out any missed bales).

I enjoyed seeing the cooperation of my kids working together to accomplish a common goal. Of course on each trip back to the barn, my 7 year old had to climb out of the truck and onto the mountain of hay bales with his brothers for the ride. There is also some unusual boy custom that has each one sticking a piece of hay in their mouths to chew on for the trip to the barn. This I never understood....

I love the rhythmic thumping of the baler. It's a comforting sound to me....usually I hate repetitive noise. I love watching the hay elevator taking all those bales into the hayloft while the older ones stack them there. (Occasionally a child will ride a bale into the loft...giggling all the way!) It is a comforting feeling to know that you can provide for your animals come winter. Clean bedding, good food...they will be happy.

It is, for me, akin to canning food. When I look in the hayloft and see the rows of stacked bales, it is the same feeling I get when I look in my pantry shelves and see rows of colorful food lined up and ready to eat. It is seeing a job well done. It is seeing the fruits of our labors. It is knowing that we have provided for our own for yet another season by God's grace. It is being grateful to God for wooing us here, for leading us on this journey of self-sufficiency, for His creation, and for His provisions.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Made from scratch

People frequently ask me why we bother to make most everything we eat from scratch. This seems to bother these people. They treat me as if I have lost my way and they need to help me...or maybe it is my senses that they think I've lost. I can't imagine why it bothers them, they don't have to grow the food, can the food, freeze the food, dehydrate the food, grind the wheat, bake the bread, flake the oats, churn the butter, work the cheese or cook the meals...but it REALLY bothers them.

I'll try to explain how we started down this path. When my second son was born I knew right away that he had a dairy allergy. If I drank so much as 1/4 cup milk, he reacted. So...for one year, I ate NO dairy products...a horrible experience I assure you. As he grew, we found he had other allergies, lots of them. This required some work, trying to find foods he could eat without getting sick. Now, some people might think this was a very bad thing. I did myself at first. But, looking back I can see how God took something bad and turned it into something very good. (Romans 8:28 And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.) God had a purpose for those allergies!

It turns out that my son is not allergic to all those foods we thought he was allergic was the chemicals, dyes, preservatives etc. that caused the allergic reactions. Now, let me state that we did not buy "junk food" at the grocery store. No sugary cereals, toaster pastries, frozen dinners etc. We bought the "healthy" stuff. But when the USDA has approved over 800,000 chemicals (read that again...800,000!) for our food supply can it truly be healthy? Any of it? When a glass of milk can have traces of hundreds of different you want to drink it?

Now, God is very gracious and gentle when He leads us down new paths. If God had sat me down and told me 7 years ago..."beginning tomorrow you will grow all your own food, bake your own bread, make your own cereals, raise your own meat, make your own cheese etc."....well, as Grandma use to say "I'm just gonna lay me down and die".

God showed us one area at a time, like a gentle parent leading a child. What a gracious God we serve! We began with a garden that has just expanded a little every year. We began keeping bees for honey. We started grinding wheat and baking our own breads. We planted an apple orchard. A little further down the road we started making our own cereals. This year we hope to add a berry patch. Each year I preserve a little more of what we have been doing and we try to add something new to the list.

How do you explain why you bake 8 loaves of bread every Monday when "you can buy a loaf of bread for $1 at the store"? (Apparently the bread thing bothers these people a lot!) Because it tastes so good! Because it is so nutritious.....because there are NO chemicals of any kind in my bread! Because I don't have to watch my son suffer anymore with headaches that were completely debilitating or see him go through the other symptoms of allergic reactions.

The time involved in living this life also seems to bother these people. "How do you find the time?" they cry. Well, we don't watch t.v. (an occasional family video night is the exception). We stay home... a lot . Except for church, the kids aren't involved in lots of activities that keep us running around and take away from family time. We all work just about everything.

Is it worth it? You bet it is! Our health has improved tremendously! Our food tastes wonderful and I know it is more nutritious! If there was a huge disaster, or my hubby lost his job...we'd be o.k. Add homeschooling into the mix and I get to be with my kids most of the time. Working together to accomplish common goals and playing together (family game nights are big in our house) builds strong relationships with your kids.

The kids enjoy walking through the grocery store and naming all the things we don't need to buy anymore. It is so satisfying every time you take a little step towards more self sufficiency. It makes them feel good that they have participated in providing these things. They have extracted honey from the hives and worked the bees throughout the year. They have picked the apples and cranked the mill to turn them into sauce. They helped grow and pick the tomatoes and milled them into spaghetti sauce and ketcup.

And these is so funny to me... what bothers them about our lifestyle they are quick to enjoy..."got any homemade ice cream in the freezer?"...."I love homemade bread!"...."This applesauce tastes so different"..."this chicken is delicious"..."I can't wait for eggs in the morning"... I just smile....made from scratch!

I thank God for my son's allergies...look what they have wrought in our lives! Great blessings!

Friday, September 9, 2005

What's wrong with that egg???

Norther Farmer (see link to the side) has a wonderful post today about dangerous eggs. It reminded me of when we first moved to the farm. Now, remember we were city people....we bought what the grocery store calls eggs. We moved to the farm and one of the first critters we purchased were some hens. My mom even bought a fancy little house for them to live in (another story!) They were so pretty! I loved the muted clucking sounds....such a comforting sound to me for some reason. Within a few days we had our first brown eggs! There were 3 of them. We decided to scramble them so we could all have a taste. What an exciting day! The 4 boys, my mother and I trotted off to the kitchen to sample these wonderful gifts.

We cracked open the first egg....oh no! Something was seriously wrong....we tried another...and another...something was wrong with all of them! Where was the yellow yolk? These yolks were all a very dark orange....and they stood up really high in the pan...and the whites were really thick...they didn't spread properly....what had we done wrong? As a Mom, I was worried about letting my kids taste them....could it hurt them...poison them? Should I throw them out.....
suddenly it occured to me....perhaps this is what God intended an egg to look like....maybe we had been eating bad eggs all of our lives and this is what good eggs looked like.

A quick call to an experienced farmer friend assured us that this was the REAL DEAL! "The eggs from the grocery store were produced by hens kept in horrible conditions and therefor were anemic...go ahead and eat them".

So we did....we were amazed....these eggs actually had flavor! GREAT flavor! Eggs on toast quickly became a favorite meal....runny yolks sopped up with buttery toast....DIVINE!

We look back now and laugh at our ignorance sad that people think that what they buy in the store actually nourishes their bodies the way God sad that the majority of the population has been sold a lie by big AG and great marketing!

When we have "moderns" visit us on the farm we almost always crack open an egg and let them see the difference....the cry we always here is "Ooohhhh, what's wrong with it..." We just smile and thank the Father for bringing us here and teaching us gently about His provisions. We pray we can do the same for others.

Thursday, September 8, 2005

Fluffy wheat bread

This is strictly a "recipe" post...just a warning :) Several people have requested my recipe for wheat you go....(the applesauce cookie recipe will be another day) This recipe makes 4 loaves. I use a DLX Assistant to mix and knead the bread but I have a friend that uses my recipe with a Kitchen Aid. You might have to let it knead a bit longer...just experiment. I grind the wheat just before mixing. I use a mix of Prairie Gold and Bronze Chief. I probably use 9 cups of Prairie Gold and 3 cups of Bronze Chief berries. I grind them together. I usually need to grind at least two batches of berries to make 8 loaves. 6 cups of hot water 3 tblsp. yeast (heaping) 1 1/3 tablespoons of salt (I use Real Salt...a mineral salt or sea salt) 2/3 cup oil 2/3 cup honey (use the same cup you measured the oil into and the honey will slide right out) 12 tablespoons of gluten 16+ cups of flour. Put water in bowl of mixer and add yeast. Let proof for 5 min. (It is really important to wait the full 5 min.) Add salt, oil, honey and gluten. Add 12 cups of flour and mix on low for 2 min. or until thoroughly mixed. Turn the speed up to medium while gradually adding only enough flour to clean the sides of the bowl (I find it almost always takes 16 cups and quite often a little more) Let knead for 8 minutes. Remove from mixer and form into 4 even loaves. Place in well greased bread pans (I use Crisco in stainless steel pans) Let rise (takes about 1/2 hour on my dryer...I cover it with cheesecloth while raising). Bake at 350 for 30 min. You will have to experiment with baking times since all ovens are a little different. The original recipe called for 25 minutes but mine was always a little "wet" in the middle and would begin to ferment. I turn right around and make another batch while this one is rising. I bake every Monday morning. We eat the first loaf for lunch on Monday with fresh fruit and cheese. My boys manage to eat a loaf almost every day. We take one loaf to a widow in our church who loves homemade bread but can't make it anymore. Don't be discouraged. It took me years to get a recipe to make light fluffy bread. This one works really well and should only need a little tweaking. The key for me was to add 3 tablespoons of gluten per loaf of bread that the recipe made. The original recipe called for 3 tblsp. gluten period....when I read about the 3 per loaf and upped the gluten I had wonderful bread! I also used to cheat on the knead time....not any more. It requires the full time. You might enjoy the breadbeckers site ....lots of info on bread and other things. Happy Baking!

Wednesday, September 7, 2005

How could you eat something soooo cute....

Invariably this is what the "moderns" say when they are visiting the farm and see the new baby chicks, calves or goats. I have heard too many tales of families selling off steers, chickens etc. because their kids couldn't handle the thought of eating them. We have not had this problem on our farm. Our first rule...all edible animals must have food names. We made this rule to avoid the "how can we eat him" scenario. I must say that I don't think it was necessary. Although we have had steers named T-bone, Meatloaf, Ham (short for hamburger), Taco, Burrito, Potter (pot roast) and yes even, Hershey (see the Ksmilkmaid's recent post!), I must say now that I don't think it was necessary.

In our experence when you have repaired the fence for the 49th time because they trampled through it (see my post "One of those days")...when you have had to get on horseback and round up 8 rowdy bull calves from down the valley and drive them home (the great cattle drive of '02)....when you wake up to strange noises in the middle of the night and find the calves in the yard enjoying the flowers....when you have to get up and round them up in your nightgown, coat and muck boots at 3:00am IN THE SNOW...and (the final straw) when one of them challenges you from the other side of the fence and you just know he will kill you if he gets the chance...our family actually does the happy "They are going to the butcher" dance....not once have any of my 4 boys ever expressed regret at the
thought of putting a cow into the freezer.

Nor has anybody ever hesitated to eat a meal. I have actually heard my boys make such odd comments as " you think Hershey tasted better or T-Bone?" Hopefully the visitors thought they were talking about chocolate bars and steaks!

Monday, September 5, 2005

Seasonal changes

I finally got my nose out of the canner for a wee bit this afternoon. I was surprised to find the leaves falling from our Catawba tree in the front yard. The sun was warm but the breeze was
cool. We have been out of the city for about 7 years but feel like we are just beginning to recognize some of the signs that God gives us in reference to weather and seasonal changes.
I don't recall the weather being this mild or the leaves dropping this soon in 7 years. I will have to take a look at the horses' coats and see if they are "wintering" up already. Help me out here folks...what should I be looking for/listening to?

I had the sweetest birthday present 7 year old told me after breakfast that he had a special present for me but needed to go outside to "catch it" and it might take a long time. How could I refuse those big brown eyes (after I made sure it wasn't a snake!)? Well, I kept an eye on him through the kitchen window. He was after a butterfly! He spent over an hour standing with a bloom he had clipped off of the butterfly bush and sure enough a beautiful butterfly landed on it and Elijah walked ever so carefully to the window to show me my present. This inspired him.
He put the bloom in his screened bug box and spent the morning catching more butterflies for me. He would race to the me his catch and then set it free and start over. He truly loves and enjoys God's creation and being outside!

Seems we get in such a rush in life...hurry to get this done and that done that sometimes we forget to take the time to enjoy the beauty that God has given us here on the farm. Isn't it wonderful how God's creations come alive again through the eyes of our children?!

Sunday, September 4, 2005

One of those days....

Well, Saturday was just one of those days. We were off to pick berries at a friends farm at the top of the mountains. We got off late....cows were uncooperative during milking time. But finally the whole family was in the Suburban and headed out.

Berry picking was wonderful! The weather was warm with a cool breeze, berries were plentiful and yummy. I enjoyed seeing the boys working together, baskets strapped to their waists while red and purple juice ran down the corners of their mouths.

We headed home a few hours later only to find a frantic Mom (mine). While we were gone, those uncooperative cows had planned and executed an escape. My Mom looked up and there they were, outside her living room window in the neighbors field (Mom lives on our farm in her own home). Now...Mom is 79 and pretty spry but not up to chasing cows all over creation...although she tried. She was in tears by the time we got home. She was afraid they'd "run away", get stolen by thieves who would butcher them before we could find them or they would get hit by a car. Now in our little valley, when a cow or horse runs away, someone always calls to tell you they found it. I haven't figured out how they do this. Somehow they always know which cow belongs to which family. People in this valley know our animals....even though we have never met these people!

Anyway, I went about putting berries in the freezer while the boys and hubby went cow hunting.
Before long they came strolling up the drive way, single file, followed by dirty boys and hubby.

Fences were repaired and everyone seems happy now. Except perhaps for Mom....I don't think she has quite gotten over her cow chasing episode. She jokingly asked if she could move to the city....the answer was no :)

Friday, September 2, 2005

Judgement and Joy

I have been reading the news about New Orleans with a sinking heart. The cruelty that man (living apart from God) can inflict on fellow man shocks me. I believe that we are beginning to see the hand of God's judgment on our nation...and we should not be surprised. We have gone beyond turning our backs on Him. We, as a nation, have made it a priority to drive Him out of our nation and out of our culture. It is rather surreal to read about the devastation several hundred miles away, yet watch the birds singing in the apple tree outside my window. Our gas prices have shot up and I hear that local people have made runs on the grocery stores....trucks won't be rolling for awhile is the rumor. Yet in the midst of all of this, life on our little farm continues without much change. Surreal. Today I have been contemplating the joy that comes from the simple pleasures He places before us if we only "have eyes to see". It is amazing when people ask me "how do you know God is real" when His handiwork is everywhere. As I have been working on tomatoes today (canning ketchup and spaghetti sauce) I have delighted to watch the hummingbirds playing and fighting at the feeder outside my kitchen window. I took my youngest boy (7 years old) outside and we peeked around the corner at the feeder...we could watch the hummingbirds drink and fly to the apple tree. As we looked closer we could see lots of hummingbirds flitting from branch to branch...the tree seemed alive with them...all colors...big ones and baby ones. My son has decided that there must be nests there and he has determined to find them come cold weather. We found one several years ago - it was about the size of half an eggshell. The joy of simple pleasures. We have also been enjoying a butterfly bush - it is filled all day with butterflies...yellow, blue, purple, youngest likes to go as close as he can, stand still and hold out a hand. Invariably a butterfly will light on his finger. His face lights up and his eyes grow wide with wonder as he looks for me at the kitchen window...he wants Mom to see this miraculous sight! The joy of simple pleasures. My favorite "simple pleasure" this week...watching my 7 year old trying to talk without his two front teeth. He hasn't quite gotten the hang of it yet...I have to bite my lip to keep from giggling as I watch his tongue trying to navigate this huge hole in his mouth. Simple pleasures We got an invitation this come to Florida and "do Disney" with relatives. We could "canned entertainment" ever compete with the simple pleasures God puts in our path each day.

Thursday, September 1, 2005


Welcome! Our family (3 generations) moved to this farm about 7 years ago. We were what I call "moderns" living the "normal" American life. We were city people. We were active in our church, homeschooled our boys (for 17 years now!) and lived the conventional Christian life.
Then God spoke! One of those instances when the Word just jumps out at you, dances around awhile and lands in your heart to dwell there for awhile. Scriptures that talked of reliance on God...for everything...not relying on others....for anything....and scriptures that talked of the wise man who looked to the future, saw the dangers and prepared himself against the day. We came to realize that we relyed on others for EVERYTHING!!! God began moving in our hearts to change our in a more self-sufficient way that would cause us to rely on Him more. He was wooing us to the country.

So....7 years ago, we left the big city, moved to the country (a miraculous story that I will share another day) and bought a little farm. We raise almost all of our own food and medicine. We cook almost everything from scratch (another story!) and can, dehydrate and freeze our garden bounty for winter. We are so thankful to God for his provision and blessings and for taking us out of the mundane city life to this life full of wonder and excitement...where every day is an adventure...where His handiwork is evident everywhere we look.

We hope to share some of our adventures here....thanks for dropping in
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