Sunday, September 30, 2012

31 Days of Green Acres- Day One

This post below is the first of a 31 Day Series.
For other entries please click on the links below.

I'm actually afraid to start typing.  Because if I do, I'll keep adding words, ideas will build, and at the end I'll click "publish".  That, my friends, is terribly unnerving as I'm about to join in a blogging adventure initiated by The Nester in which I will attempt to post for 31 days in a row.  The goal is to write brief but targeted posts and since I've been so absent here lately, why not do a cliff dive and decide to just free fall into either epic success or dismal failure?  What could possibly go wrong?

Liberty Farm is the topic and I've got maybe 5 days worth of material loosely formed in the gray matter.  Ah hah, now you understand don't you?  Although I've thought about it, I've not planned ahead sufficiently, and there's that niggling phrase that began as a helpful whisper but is now pretty much an irritating jingle - "She who fails to plan, plans to fail."  Yup, that's me, the planning failer.

But, I've got a little secret - I "perform" reasonably well under pressure.  In fact, it's often my most effective motivator.  Furthermore, I'm pretty sure the blog police (could exist, maybe not, I've heard it both ways...), don't have their eyes on me, and what's the worst thing that could happen if I mess up or get derailed?

So, I'm gonna try.  My greatest concern is that I might frustrate you, the most valuable part of this blog - my reader.  But, you're not like that are you?  You is good, you is kind, and you're ok with me trying, right?

The kettle's on.  The mugs are clean.  Coffee or tea - your choice.  The door is open.

Won't you come on down to the farm?

Saturday, September 15, 2012

I Will Wear this Crown

Used to be only a hint glinted through the masses
giving suggestion to waxing maturity.
Color now rapidly waning
silver sweeps up the sides.

I'm told it's fair
and I wonder if truth's been told.
It feels radical not lovely.
Courage not chemical poured over pores.

Culture taunts with youth and its esteem.
Sisters, we are compelled to cover.
Depreciation might bring wounds to bear
but when bare there is liberty.

Freedom to welcome the years
and the pull on my body.
Hard fought, my will counsels
that this slipping toward finish is good.

Time, gift and leveler, does its work.
As days mingle into years
the bounty of one is at the expense of the other
and I nurture the wan.

Softness continues its creep,
and my edges get increasingly blurred.
Twilight doesn't seem so long away
and I curate the beauty of this slow fade.

Sons, daughters, the loveliness of this life
has been bought but is not for sale.
Often we are given the first blush of its gift,
but it is ours to cultivate if we will.

Today is my father's 70th birthday.  I've not known him to have a regular practice of reading poetry, but I think in recent years he's come to listen carefully to the poet when reading a poem and has developed an appreciation for this form.

Happy Birthday, Dad.  Although this is about me, I trust you'll read and hear the voice that's attempting to speak for all of us who may not yet be old but certainly are no longer young.

Proverbs 16:31
Gray hair is a crown of glory;
it is gained in a righteous life.

Would you like to read more of my dad's journey with cancer?  You'll be blessed.  Click here.


What do you think...a morning cup together and a poem every Saturday?  Might you comment and grace me with your thoughts?


Tuesday, September 11, 2012

On Water and Writing

Sometimes I come to this place and my fingers fairly drip with words.  Large, fat, round droplets splash on keyboard and words stream into white space. Exhilarated and flush with creativity, every aspect of bending water to my will is a delight.

Conversely, I've known word droughts where cracked fingers come to this vessel, head tipped back, I open my mouth praying for just one drop to be released from the depths and I swear I will be satisfied.  Denied, my fingers stumble, hesitate, and have little endurance.

Yes, the two conditions sometimes co-mingle, but one typically has the upper hand - either one, at any given opportunity, and I'm left to wonder, what makes it so?

Although still new to this, I suspect I've poured out enough to with some legitimacy state that the water level has to do with time, time, time, and more time.  Dedicated effort yields a full cup.  Most times.

Sometimes time and effort is not enough.  What then?

Would behavioral psychologists suggest that I should just keep doing what I'm doing, fake it 'til I make it, repeat positive patterns until my parched throat is whetted with words and thirst is satisfied?  Perhaps.

Writers, would you tell me to find my muse, walk in Thoreau's woods, indulge in Hemingway's bottle, or work Berry's soil?

Any and all of those suggestions are valid, although not all will be profitable.

Nearly to the end of this querying, I think I see water and am drawn to the river's edge.

At times a rushing rolling rapid and other times a dry bed, I chart it's course for you, the reader.  Someday, I hope, my offspring will read with understanding and thanksgiving this legacy of supple fingers as well as cracked lips.  For now, you, with comments below, messages in my inbox, and a personal word deliver the quenching cup.

My thirst is slaked with encouragement, and you have been so kind to pour out.  And so, my fingertips move, tentatively at first, and by the end right slicing through the water to write my thanks, a deep reservoir of gratitude.

Chronicling gifts - a ongoing joy:
-Weekend Farmer Husband's interview went well.  We are carefully negotiating through terms of employment and considering the impact to his entrepreneurial vision.
-A gift, anonymously given, that helps to bear our financial burden
-My father has been given "permission" for a two day sailing trip - nearly 100 days since his transplant.
-Early autumn fellowship of hayride, God's word on the trail, rope swing, hot dogs on a stick, and a roaring bonfire drawing community together.
-Hospitality, although I do sometimes grow weary of what it requires, is yielding encouragement for God's kingdom and we press on with our open home.
-Books, big thick nerdy ones, and other geeks like me who love a good read and who discuss how masterful words change our very souls.  Encouragement.
-Our library.  The children are as excited to go to the library each week as they are on Christmas morning.
-Word from my mother that she's pretty sure that when she goes to visit my brother and his family in NC that MI is "on the way home".  We anticipate her visit with great delight.
-A furnace that warms the mornings.
-Plentiful water for us and animals, and this thirsty writer.
-Sons gathering in master bedroom in evenings to read the Word with us, the last thing before slumber.
-Scholarships - more than one for first born daughter who relishes being a student.
-Continued physical well being.  Remarkable assurance that the hairs on our head are numbered. Matthew 10:29-31

Saturday, September 8, 2012

A Glad Day

Amber sun gilds the sky and clouds glow silver with onyx edge.

Heavy on the grass, dew bends each blade.

Through a crack my open eyes receive the light.

Heaviness pulls me, and like the narrow leaves I think I might stay curled.

Upright, I pause, find the center, and move slow.

Drawn, vision roves and locks on full spectrum.

Satisfaction, glad song rises within, and I wake to unfailing love.

Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love,
that we may rejoice and be glad all our days.

Psalm 90:14

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Pardon the dust...

I'm working on some technical updates and I am convinced it is NOT my gift.

Give me home renovations any day!

Come back, yes?

Sometimes things get worse before they get better.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

On Just Getting Started

Each year I wrongly imagine that I'm going to be "ready".

All the supplies will be sorted, purchased if necessary, labeled, and systematically placed in obvious (to me) order.

I'll have a library list captured on an excel spreadsheet and will know which books I'll need to get through inter library loan and which is available at my local branch.

Shelves will be orderly, activities planned, fun days on the docket, and when I stretch this dream a little farther, even my laundry is all caught up!

Then I wake up.

In spite of steady work in preparation for our home educating year I'm not "all done".  In fact, I may be even more behind than I would consider typical because we are rebuilding a room in this restoration farmhouse of ours to better serve our purposes.  And, you can imagine can't you, what that means to a family of our size spending our days on a main floor with perhaps 800 square feet.  We're cozy and chaos from reworking a room spills.

Farm work doesn't make a space for school to start.  School starts as companion to animals, land, buildings, and chores.  You wonder, do they meld?  Yes.  Grateful.

Order, preparedness, planning, making ready are all good practices.  And, in spite of my real life friends identifying me through my self deprecating jokes about the chaos of our life and how it's easier to just go with the flow than hold back the tide of our creative, energetic, ADHD driven life, I pull more than my weight in these administrative departments.

And, since I can't command lunar cycles, I just dive right in.  The room will get renovated.  The shelves probably won't get dusted.  Books, atlases, writing implements, instructional CD's, will froth, crest, and spill over on the shore of dining room table, desks, and floors.  An excel spread sheet won't get created.  Library cards will easily max out their circulation limit.  Learning won't be neglected and we will be blessed for dedicating ourselves to each day just doing what we must.

Today we began again.  Math, handwriting, history, and more returned to set the warp and woof of our day. And because we were willing to just get started we received the grace of a new beginning.

Chronicling gifts continues:
Weekend Farmer Husband is at an interview while I write.  Friends, family, and many saints praying for wisdom and provision for our family.

First born son bravely, winsomely, and lovingly exhorting us with the Word.

How can it be - second born son matriculating at community college tomorrow.  He's ready.

The joy of preschool again, and for a final time.  

Books, books, books - rejoicing in reading.

Good news from my dad last time we spoke on the phone - he went sailing!

Thank you Lord - a light rain this morning.  Pastures kept green by your hand alone.

Internet making connection with friends and family easy.

A restful Labor Day.

Blessed by community.

Confident hands of a chiropractor.

What? We ate the last of our ground beef from last year's cow - we have been given abundant food.

A personal message from another blogger I deeply admire that encourages and affirms.

Enduring health and safety - as we have no medical insurance I am being challenged to reject security as an idol and to faithfully practice my understanding of God's goodness in preserving our days and blessing us physically.

Flaky biscuits and amber honey for afternoon snack.

Hens laying more and more eggs - creeping up to peak production for a few months before daylight shortens.

Refreshing local farmer's markets.

A busy week ahead of fellowship and hospitality.  

And, above all, Christ - my High King and Faithful Savior.  All for Him...

Raising Homemakers

Monday, September 3, 2012

Prose, Pictures, and the Practical

High white clouds drift lazily in the September blue sky.  Although quite warm outside, a small breeze makes for a pleasant place in the shade.  It is Labor Day and we're resting today.

Most of the time we work really hard.  And, Weekend Farmer Husband and I enjoy it. Most of our children do too, at least to a point.  But today, on purpose, we started and stayed slow, and it feels richly satisfying.

It's not that we didn't "do" anything though.  Animals have been properly cared for and appreciated.  Water has been administered to thirsty plants.  Meals are planned, prepared, cleaned up after.  A friend and some of his family came, we forged a new threshold of relationship as we processed a couple of his noisy rooster companions, now meant for his family table instead of their created role as daylight criers.

This is our normal.  A high labor high yield lifestyle.  And, we're only slowly beginning to understand that this may not be normative.

Recently, a good friend suggested that the content here should reflect the practical of what we've learned, how we "do".  After all, we were pretty run of the mill suburbanites a short two years ago.  Disconnected from food production, from land, from the span of seasons and how it impacts what we eat and how we live, reliant on grids, city water treatment plants, municipal salt and snow trucks, among an unnamed myriad of other services and conveniences, frankly, it was a good and happy life.  But, we had no idea of what it really meant when we decided to move out of town.

At first, we simply desired more space and the liberty afforded by downsizing our home.  For the first time in 17 years of parenting we committed me full time to supporting Weekend Farmer Husband, raising our children, giving my consistent attention to home educating and managing our home.

The curve was long and thankfully very gentle.  And somewhere along the way, influenced by books, movies, and convinced by the Holy Spirit, we found ourselves committed not only to "living out of town", but to land stewardship, animal husbandry, food production, health, the family table, and living with deeply rooted gratitude within our means and with eyes wide open for opportunity.

We didn't plan.  We just started.  And that's how we continue - we are perhaps the Clampetts of "Just Do It".  Sorry Nike.  I suspect your marketing team had something else in mind.

Our experience has been that most of what we purpose to do, wish we could do, or might like to do is achievable if we're willing to labor for it.  And we are.

Some of you have been very complimentary about the yield you can see from our efforts.  And, oh how your words are like honey.  Without outside encouragement our efforts always flag.  So, please, keep it comin'! But, sometimes you make the mistake of assuming that we're special, or different, or somehow more equipped than you are. And that from the outside looking in, the idyllic pictures portray a kind of life that you could never have.

Not true.

I won't diminish the idea that perhaps we've been given an uncommon gift in this new life we're forging.

Conversely, I hope you won't limit hope that you too could and maybe will someday do what we do, learn what we've learned, and lay hold of this high labor high yield lifestyle that allows for mellow September afternoons filled with iced tea on the front porch, chickens clucking in the barn, and night cool closing in on cows in pasture and family gathered satisfied and well.

And since some of you have asked, here's something practical that we use with good success on the farm.  This formula is readily available on the internet - other blogs and Pinterest for sure, but I offer our farm tested, family satisfying, adapted home made Powdered Laundry Soap Recipe:


Two Bars Castille Soap
( I use Dr. Bronner's Lavender or Peppermint bar soap. It's available at my local super market, or click on this to source it from Amazon))

One large box of Baking Soda
(Yup, just plain old baking soda found in the baking aisle of your local market.  I use the 64oz/4lb. size)

Lavender or Peppermint Essential Oil
(These too my local supermarket carries.  Lots of blogs I read recommend this site/company, but I've not personally purchased anything from them)

Cut the bars of soap into small pieces.  Dicing is probably too fine...shall we try to define this as chunks?

Add about 1/4 of your chunks to your food processer fitted with mixing /chopping blade.

Add about 1/4 of the baking soda.

Pulse until combined.
(Watch out - the baking soda will "poof" out a bit and you might find yourself feeling a little sneezy with a strange salty taste in your mouth! )

While blade is spinning add 5 +/- drops of essential oil

Repeat above steps until you've combined all the baking soda and soap.

Place in a seal-able container (we use an old gallon ice cream tub) or containers and place in a place convenient to your laundry routine.

I use about 1/8th cup per load.

Some thoughts:
I'm risking a bad memory here and possible correction from you dear reader, but I think this gives me 80+ loads.
You can use less, more, or no essential oil.  The fragrance and its strength is according to your personal preference.
The oil does not leave any stains/residue on your clothing.
I have front loading HE washers and this formula has performed very well for us.
DO NOT use vinegar as a softner/rinse aid - it'll be the horror movie version of middle school science class all over your laundry area!
Depending on sales, coupons, and "buying it right" this costs me just under $10 per batch.
Our current favorite fragrance is lavender and there's just the faintest trace of lingering fragrance once the load finishes cycling.
If making this with the help of your children (and by all means, include them - then they'll know how to "do" too), please remember that essential oils are very powerful and avoid direct contact with skin.

Ok- so many words!

I'd love to hear from you - what would you like to learn more about?
If you try this, what results did you achieve?
Shall we make this a conversation? Yes? Please!