Monday, November 30, 2009
We are also so thankful for those of you who go to your knees on our behalf.
May Yahweh bless you!
Sunday, November 29, 2009
Friday, November 27, 2009
Our neighbor grew corn this year. This corn is still standing...acres... upon acres...upon acres...as far as the eye can see!
I headed out to check on a cow that is housed next to this field of corn. It was a beautiful day - brisk air and blue skies. .There was a slight breeze blowing. I was talking with Jeremy and as I got close to this field I heard it....it sounded like thousands of voices quietly murmuring....
A slight breeze was blowing through these golden stalks causing them to softly sing...then the wind picked up and I couldn't believe what I saw and heard!
The soft voices of His creation turned into a roar as the wind lifted the leaves of the stalks ...I gasped...and could barely speak to Jeremy...."the corn....it's lifting it's "arms"...and....praising....Him!". I was breathless! I had chills!
His creation...praising the Creator!
"But He answered and said to them, “I tell you that if these should keep silent,the stones would immediately cry out.” Luke 19:40
I believe that His creation worships Him....if only we could quiet....and have eyes to see it and ears to hear it......
May we join in and worship Him always!
Thursday, November 26, 2009
Join me on this special day...worship Him today with gratitude...
That I may proclaim with the voice of thanksgiving, And tell of all Your wondrous works.
I will offer to You the sacrifice of thanksgiving, And will call upon the name of the LORD.
Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, And into His courts with praise. Bethankful to Him, and bless His name.
30. Special times.
31. A pantry filled with the flavors of summer.
32. Warm beds and filled tummies.
33. His protection and provision...daily!
34. Nature that sings of Him
35. A body of believers that have become our family and we theirs.
36. Godly men who speak into my sons lives.
37 The sounds of nature as it praises Him.
38.His word that encourages, convicts and gives grace - daily.
39. The sparkle in a boy's eyes.
40. Gifts that speak love.
Won’t you join me….journal your gifts….as you watch your gratitude grow, your trust increases and life becomes an exciting adventure as you anticipate what your Father will do next….He is your source…He never fails….He never forsakes……
He keeps me…breathless….
Worship Him with Gratitude today!
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
The theme of the day...
The wedding took place in a Catholic church. This left Elijah with a TON of questions. What a blessing to have some great teachable moments with the boys! It was very interesting and the Priest had a wonderful message about communication and forgiveness being key to married life. The bridesmaids and matron of honor were beautiful and the groomsmen looked dashing!
We blew bubbles instead of throwing rice as the couple left the church. Then we headed to the reception. It was held at an historic hotel in Greeneville. Very posh!
Hors d'oeuvres were served while we waited for the bridal party. Yuuummmm....warm bread with spinach and artichoke heart dip and fresh bruschetta! Plenty of southern sweet tea too!
As we settled into the elegant room, we began to relax and enjoy being pampered and waited on! After the bridal party arrived, the luncheon was served.
There was a wonderful salad bar, steak, chicken breasts stuffed with boursin cheese and spinach, a multitude of vegetable dishes, pasta primavera and more! What a treat!
The ambiance was delightful!
We were in a large room filled with church family and friends. We met relatives of good friends and I got to hold Baby James on my lap and enjoy the memories of those times in my life with my own babies! Speaking of them...don't they look nice?
Elijah is up to something....just not sure what!
Jeremiah looks so grown up - what a wonderful young man!
Even he has a sparkle in his eye....are they plotting something?
You bet! After the meal and the normal bridal party dances - the men had a surprise in store!
These guys lined up and each took a turn stepping out for a moment - what great fun! I think they planned the ending...
My three lovely boys are on the end...they look a bit lost to me :)
Then the real fun began! The young people at this wedding have been learning the dances from the civil war era. Although the music was from the 70s and 80s they decided to see if they could dance the Virgina Reel, The Snowball Reel and the Patty Cake Polka to the music.
It wasn't easy, but it was still a lot of fun. We all prefer the music of the era but we worked with what we had - I think we all did a great job and had a lot of fun!
If you look carefully, you can find my boys out there!
We spent most of the afternoon nibbling on wonderful food, fellowshipping, sipping tea between dances and thoroughly enjoying ourselves while being waited on hand and foot! It was one of the most delightful days we can remember!
I'm so thankful when our Father allows us these little blessings - time off to just enjoy each other and our wonderful church family! Truly we felt spoiled that day!
Here the men are saying farewell - such a cute march around the roof top terrace of this grand old hotel!
Thursday, November 19, 2009
Everywhere I go people are already talking about preparing for winter. Evidently this region used to get a good bit of snow. During the drought there has been little to none. This year people are expecting it to go back to normal levels! This thrills my family! We are getting sleds ready!
I woke up last week to an eerie light - it was not quite dawn out. When I got to my window there was a double rainbow just as clear as could be - I grabbed the camera but Elijah had been using it and the card was filled. I quickly deleted a few pictures and was able to catch this picture but the clouds had moved in, the sun was a little higher and the colors not nearly as vibrant....but still a beautiful sight with which to begin my day! I am thankful for the reminder of His promises.
We've been very busy here and I have found it hard to find the time to write. We finished our last cutting of hay this month. It has been baled and placed in our barns, both upper and lower just waiting for winter. We are so thankful for His provision!
This year, the fields produced much more hay than normal thanks to the wonderful rainfall! And, the fields continue to grow...our neighbor baled again last week - I think it was his 5th cutting! We are rotating our animals in an effort to clean fence lines with the goats and to keep our cattle eating fresh and delaying the feeding of hay. So far, so good!
We are expecting family in next week! My brother and niece will be coming to spend Thanksgiving here and we are all looking forward to that. (I wish my sister-in-law could come too but alas she can't get away this year). Mark spends a lot of time with my boys and they look forward to it every year. He also takes them to the Bass Pro Shop and a local knife store - not sure who enjoys it more...my brother or my boys! I take the opportunity to spend time cooking with my niece while they are gone...or sometimes we make soap together. It is always fun!
Our steer heads off to the butcher tomorrow and we are looking forward to a freezer full of meat again. We are nearly down to the bottom of our meat freezer and I have been rationing beef. We are so thankful to be able to raise our own without anti-biotics, hormones or grain....grass fed only for us!
We have been busy with school which takes up much of our days. I love the slower pace of fall and winter. I enjoy the hours of teaching, discussion and learning (for me too!) that we get to experience each day. What a blessing homeschooling is and how thankful I am that we still have that choice in this country.
We are looking forward to taking a couple of days next week for Thanksgiving! The boys and I have a special project we are going to be working on after our feast. We should be able to build it in a day! We have been gathering the materials for months and with a little help from some friends in Kentucky, I think we may just succeed. I'll take lots of pictures and will post the story....even if we aren't successful!
Monday, November 2, 2009
We started out by watching this video...and we learned a few things that we thought might make things go much quicker. Thanks Allen!
We set everything up that morning, Joshua sharpened all the knives we planned on using and we began about 1:30 in the afternoon. We had placed our chickens on cement 24 hours before and removed all food sources. The purpose of this is to empty their crops which makes butchering much less messy. If they are on grass, they will still scratch and eat. We did provide water.
Next step....the killing cone. This was a bit different this time. We butchered our friends birds first...then some of our older roosters. These will make wonderful chicken soup. Next it was time to do our meat birds. We had never done meat birds before and we weren't prepared for how BIG these birds were. Josh and Leah manned the killing cone. This is a cone shaped piece of metal (picture a traffic cone turned upside down) that holds the bird upside down. The head and neck come out of a hole in the bottom. One quick cut to the jugular vein in the neck and the bird dies a calm and painless death.
The cone prevents bruising of the meat (from flopping around) and also allows the heart to continue to beat and pump the blood out of the chicken. This does not happen if you just chop off their heads. We placed a bucket of sand under the cone to catch the blood. This is wonderful to add to the compost bin or garden. It is also much neater to use the cone - blood stays in the bucket rather than going everywhere.
On the first meat bird, because of the difference in size, we had a hard time locating the juglar vein. But once Josh saw where it was, the rest of the birds were "easy".
Jeremy manned the scalding tank...three slow dips while "swishing" the bird. This loosens the feathers for the plucker!
Nothing smells worse than wet chickens!
Elijah and a friend manned the plucker..with occasional help from Josiah!
I took off the heads and feet, and did the final clean up and bagging of the birds.
And Josiah did the eviscerating. He's good and he's fast...really fast since watching Allen's video! It was hard for him to get his hand into the smaller birds but the meat birds were easy! Well....as easy as eviscerating can be. He also took the time to teach his younger brother and a friend. Josiah is a patient teacher.
There was plenty of fellowship and fun!
and then....the most amazing thing happened. In all the years we have been butchering, I don't recall this happening before. It certainly took us all by surprise.....take a look....
We laughed So hard....and for SO long.....whew!
We ended up processing 27 birds that day and we were done by 6:00 that evening! A record for us. Each year we get a little faster. We will definitely raise meat birds next year. These birds are HUGE! We are very grateful to these people who butchered all of their birds that they needed and passed the extra ones to our family. Love ya'll...we'll have many wonderful meals from these giant birds!
We placed the birds in our kitchen fridge, our laundry room fridge and my Mom's fridge for a couple of days to "age". It works sort of like hanging beef for a couple of weeks. Enzymes are released that help tenderize the meat and make it deliciously wonderful! They are now all safely tucked into our freezer waiting for our first meal....chicken with stuffing, some of our own mashed potatoes, gravy and home made yeast rolls....yummy!
I'll leave you with this thought on butchering...no matter how long you have been doing it...or perhaps it's your first time...just be prepared...anything can happen when you least expect it...don't freak out.....go with the flow!
On the serious side, we are so thankful to our Father for His provision, for our friends generosity, for the helping hands and for the fun and fellowship we experienced that day. Although we worked hard all day, we had so much fun doing this job. What an awesome God we serve!