Tag Archives: Farming

Christmas on the Homesteadish

Christmas on the homestead. Ish.

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Am I allowed to call what we do a homestead?  I’m not sure.  Right now I don’t feel like we’re doing anything active.  And what defines a homestead anyway?  Alas, I digress.

I attempted a cleaned-up version of fudge today.  It was ok.  Honestly, we all will enjoy it, and my fellow real-foodies will, too, but for those not accustomed to coconut oil and its flavor… it’ll overwhelm.  I’ll still gift it as planned… but more likely to people who are used to that kind of thing.  I’m going to keep trying this week.  Next up is a maple walnut and a chocolate peppermint.  I have hope. ;-)

There are no presents under the Christmas tree.  20161220_064213

Fear not, I haven’t turned into a grinch… I just can’t put them there for keeping because my fierce protector Izzie thinks they are toys.  She actually got ahold of one present, completely ripped off the wrapping paper, and buried it in her blankets in her crate.  She’s a smart cookie.

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Needless to say, the tree feels naked and my room doesn’t feel complete.  It’s probably the biggest reason I’m excited… my girls have no idea how much they’re going to have their socks knocked off.

Not that it’s all about presents.  I mean, we all know that.  But y’all, I have no guilt or shame in saying I love giving gifts.  Gift-giving is my love language.  This is my season.  This is my TIME. I wish I could afford or excuse constant shopping for others, but since I can’t, this is it.  I’m going to go big or go home.

We have more surprises in store for them than just presents.  But that’s another post for another time….

We are thinking forward.  We’ve got a bulk of the supplies necessary for doing our own maple syrup.  The little corner of our garage is gathering speed this last month. We did dabble in it last year, but this year we have the pans, the stove… the real deal.  There’s a part of me that feels a little in the twilight zone when we get stuff together like this.  I can’t believe that we’re actually DOING this.  Doing this crazy DIY, make your own/know your food thing.

Which of course brings us to the other burning question… chickens.  No, butchering my own chickens and processing them did not scare me off from doing this again. The bigger concerns are improvements to our current system, the cost of those improvements… and just that the right cash is there when we need it for the annual costs.  I reaaaalllly want to do layers, but that’s even more complicated.  The landscape of our property is tricky and we’re near a major road (while the speed limit is 55, I’m certain most are going 60-70 mph).  I want them to free range, I need to be able to get to them in the winter. I’d like electricity out there for the negative temp days and keeping the waterer thawed.

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But the other underlying issue with the chickens is that a large part of these projects are MINE.  We’re still in process with diagnosis and how to fix my medical predicament.  And as we weigh what types of lifestyle changes we may have to make in the next year, will we have the upfront costs available? And depending on the treatment and how long it takes me to find a new normal, will I have the time and energy to manage them? I am so vehemently against randomly taking on animals without counting the cost.  I am not going to take them on and then find out I can’t care for them and have to give them away. Or sell them. Or whatever.  I firmly believe God gave us a huge and humbling responsibility when He asked us to care for creation, and not being wise and responsible without having the intent to care for them well is a sin. (#sorrynotsorry  … lack of stewardship is a problem. Knowing the right thing to do and not doing it is just as much a problem as knowing the wrong thing to do and doing it regardless.) (Another parantheses… just to be clear, there’s nothing wrong with knowing when it’s time to rehome an animal.  Sometimes, that’s just as wise and responsible.  But taking them on willy-nilly is not cool.  We’ve been here before, and lots of lessons learned.)

So as it pains me – no really, it does – I am aware there is a strong possibility I may not being doing any chickens this year.  I cannot take care of all of these things and my family if I’m not taking care of me.  Think of that airplane mask thing… put the mask first on yourself.  And that’s for good reason – you can’t care for others if you’re starving for oxygen.  And mama can’t care for chickens and cook dinner and love her children the way they deserve if she’s so pained she can’t move.

These are my Christmas thoughts… because Christmas is going to come steam-rolling in and we’ll be in the new year and thinking and praying and deciding these kinds of heavy things. (By the way, pray for us, ok? We need loads of wisdom!)

It’s like a blank canvas. Christmas speaks hope and joy. A time when God does something new.  It’s appropriate that it falls during our darkest literal days, and right before we begin a new calendar year.

God’s got something new.

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(P.S. – obviously taken before the onslaught of snow :) )

 

His Mercies.

Because this blog is (partially) run by me, I can do what I want to, and today it’s write about something not-food-related.  That’s your disclaimer.

I was struck this morning how God, in His great mercy, designed and allowed the earth to fruit, produce, multiply, in such a way that it can be handled from an agricultural point of view.  What do I mean? Well, the squash don’t come as the same time as the strawberries and the carrots and the pumpkins.  They require a very specific combination to do what they do – for example, strawberries start flowering when it’s cold.  Squash don’t.  (In a general sense, friends!) It’s like there is this Master-Weaver, putting all this stuff in order so that we DON’T have to do all this stuff at the same time and kill ourselves in the process.  He gives us this bounty, piece by piece, little by little.  Y’all, that’s mercy.  Because He could have designed it in such a way that we got it all at the same time, but He didn’t.

Every moment of our lives reeks of mercy – and we really just can’t see it.  The driver that wasn’t paying attention, the job we thought we wanted, the home we hoped to have.  These are all things that are orchestrated behind the scenes, and we can’t see from what He saved us.

So, in the meantime, we complain that we may have to wait for the strawberries. In reality, He’s portioning things out so we are not overwhelmed and giving us those good things as He knows for our good.  We suffer through seasons of our lives that are dismal, seemingly crippling, where it feels that He’s holding out on us. He is the Master-Weaver, the Master-Gardener, who knows what and how we should have when.

And He promises that it’s ALWAYS for the good of those who love Him, and for His glory.

The End.

(Now go eat some strawberries!)

His Mercies - Foodies Gone Real

Agrarian

These last few months I have had to steel my nerves as we are about to move – and this is a fabulous move, just a few miles away – but a move nonetheless.  And it’s not just any move, it’s a move that will likely launch us into farmerdom, and entails heavy gardening, chicken butchering, orchard caring. There’s been loads, and loads, and LOADS of research, and decisions, and more research and more decisions.  I think I could sum my whole life up in a handful of spreadsheets. :-P

Our commitment to real food has expanded (or maybe joined forces?) with extended family. I think we all feel a little bit nuts, a little bit anxious, and alot excited.

I read alot of prairie books, and historical fiction – about the west and agrarian life – as a young girl.  I think somewhere along the way it seemed impractical to desire such a life (although there was an idea amongst my sisters and I to resurrect the Flying “O” brand [our family/maiden name starts with “O”] after several decades of no ranching).  I progressed into teenage years, was told I’d argue with a brick wall and decided that politics and law school would be the fit for me. Then I moved, God got ahold of me, placed an Italian-Upstate-New Yorker in my path and pretty much didn’t let me off the hook. I abandoned many of my “goals” to chase after domestic life (which I don’t regret one bit although I did return to work), then found myself in an industry I really, really liked – one that entailed a sharp mind, eye for detail and an uncanny desire to audit.

I could launch into a sermon about being who God intends you to be – and being comfortable enough in your own skin to just be ok with who you are: your dreams, your heart, your ideas, your way of thinking (all assuming it doesn’t conflict with the Word of God) – but the bottom line is this: I am turning 30 this year and I’ve just NOW become okay with how He made me.  It is OKAY that I want to garden, and live in an old house, and butcher chickens.  It doesn’t make me less a mom, wife. Doesn’t make me less less a woman, less a follower of Christ.  If it doesn’t make me less in His eyes, why should desiring the things of old make me less in my own?

And let me tell you what… this agrarian life is one of the MANY things to which I’ve circled back.  The realization of who I REALLY am, in many fields, ways, behaviors, beliefs, has made over my life – changed my marriage, changed my parenting, changed how I fit into my local church.  I had to really stop doing things out of obligation, and paranoia about whether or not people would think less of me, and do the thing which God put in my heart decades ago.  I had to stop believing the lies I’d AND Satan had told me about myself and listen to the heart of the Savior who redeemed me a long time ago.

Auditing is not the thing He put in my heart at age 10.  Farming, though – ah, yes. Yes HE did. Agrarian - Foodies Gone Real

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