Monthly Archives: June 2012

a drought and grass farm prayer

Here where we live, we are experiencing a drought. Before we farmed, I NEVER thought about droughts – except to complain about temp… But now that we farm, and farm grass, especially, this is a much talked about subject.

In the Spring, the pastures grow really fast. Since the cows can’t eat it all before it goes to seed, we harvest/store the overabundance as first-cutting hay.

When there is NORMAL rainfall, the fields get watered & continue growing, the cows get rotationally grazed through the pastures, and this continues until December-ish.

However…when there is a drought, there is a good chance that the fields WON’T grow back quick enough for the cattle to keep full tummies. Such is the case for us, right now. 😦

Here’s the tricky part – while waiting for pastures to grow, the cattle need to be “somewhere”. And if that “somewhere” is a normal grazing field, they will keep eating the grasses to the ground & could permanently hurt the regrowth of the field. 😦

Soooo, alternate plans need to be made.

Since feeding anything other than grass (fresh or dried) is not an option for us, we need to begin placing the herds in “sacrifice fields” and supplement their feed with our hay…yes, IN JUNE!!!

Yikes. Kinda scary if we forget the Lord is walking alongside us. BUT PRAISE GOD, HE IS HERE! 🙂

Father, as animals talk to us with disdain because they want something we can’t give them right now… As our dairy cows milk less because their feed isn’t optimal… As we scramble to fill pickups because of lower milk volumes… as we prepare to walk the long distances to use sacrifice fields on the outskirts in June… as we weed gardens in heat & humidity on hard soil… As we water these gardens for hours with watering cans & hoses… As we freeze in the air-conditioning because it’s too miserable to not have it on… Could You snap our minds back to You by sending us a bird to see soaring in the sky? May that bird remind us of Matthew 6:26 – Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Fix our focus back to Yours, Lord. May we be thankful our animals have voices and that we have ears to hear… May we not take for granted every drop of milk we receive… May we be efficient schedulers as we bottle each day… May we be thankful for legs that can walk far distances and for having extra fields that can fill the purpose of protecting our best grasses… May we be thankful we even have gardens to weed & plentiful underground springs to supply water to our farm… May we give thanks for the abundance of clothing we have for all temps… Your Peace is such a blessing, Lord – may it completely envelop us as we wade through this drought. Amen

Applesauce yield 2012

This post will be a tally for applesauce made from the apples of trees here on the farm. Mike’s Dad sprays them with an organic fish spray several times a year. They aren’t the prettiest to look at, but they taste really good! 🙂

One of these days I need to watch Mike’s Mom & note how she makes it. (I do love notetaking, but I also like to SEE how people make things that are new to me.) I know she cooks them down, runs them through a hand crank food mill & adds a bit of evaporated cane juice to sweeten it up… It doesn’t sound difficult, it just seems like when it’s time to make applesauce, I’m doing 500 different things at the same time!

We’re so grateful she makes it & shares with us. 🙂

I make large “applesauce ice cubes” by freezing it in 1 cup containers. Once they are frozen, I pop them out of the containers & place them in labeled ZIPPER bags.

**I learned the hard way to use ZIPPERED bags… A couple years ago, we had an instance where a freezer door was accidentally left ajar for a day. 😦 The applesauce had been on the freezer door in non-zippered sandwich bags – ug, a complete STICKY disaster!**

Next the “cubes” are placed in labeled shoeboxes in the freezer. On the freezer door we chart the date & yield. Then I map it out for one year. Looks like with this current yield, our family can enjoy 1c of applesauce with a meal every 2.5 weeks. 🙂

6-23 6c (frozen)
6-25 6c (frozen)
6-27 6c (frozen)

Broccoli yield 2012

This post will be our record for broccoli this season. Hopefully I can remember to add data to this post as we harvest. 🙂

Yesterday we picked our first bundle of broccoli! I should have weighed it, but I forgot, lol…

Paul & I (Mike & Michael aren’t fans of broccoli…) steamed it & ate it as a side with dinner before baseball practice & again for a snack afterwards! 🙂

It was sooooo good – especially lathered in lots of butter! 🙂

6-26 about 4 cups (ate fresh)
7-7 about 13 oz. frozen
7-12 about 14 oz. frozen
7-16 about 22 oz. frozen
7-24 about 20 oz. frozen
8-1 about 18 oz. frozen

False positives…

Ever thought about the amazingness of “false positives” before?

I have this week…

I could take a test, ace it, and the assumption would be I really knew the material, right? But, what if I cheated? That would be a “false positive”.

I could take a test, fail it, and the assumption would be that I didn’t know the material, right? But, what if the person grading it used the wrong answer key? That would be another type of “false positive”.

I feel like this is what happens with me sometimes, as I try to figure out what the Lord is doing in my life.

Sometimes I take the “test”, do well, and think an outcome couldn’t possibly go a different way, only to end up feeling “cheated” by some unexpected turn of events…

Or sometimes I take the “test”, fail miserably, only to have a better answer revealed I never would have thought of!

Perhaps this is what the Lord means when he speaks through Paul in Philippians 4:11b-13: “…for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through Him who gives me strength.”

Through “false positives”, He’s not just teaching me to be OK with “a win or a loss”, a “healing or a sickness”, a “blessing or a tragedy”, a “downpour or a drought”, He’s also teaching me to not dwell so much on guessing what the outcome is going to be. Wow. What a beautiful way for me to be told I AM NOT GOD. Thank You, Lord, for putting me in my place! 🙂

“Refuse to confuse success with significance.”

Chip Ingram Quote 6-26-12

I just heard this quote in his sermon today on WCRF – Moody Radio, and it really spoke to my heart. 🙂

Makes me think of what Paul wrote in Romans 12:3 – For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought; but rather think of yourself with sober judgement, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you.

Sometimes with my successes, comes arrogance. And with my arrogance, I become self-righteous. When my attitude reflects this, I place myself on my own “pedestal of significance” – insinuating that I am the one who accomplished the success & because I did, I am better than someone else. Yuck. Not something I like to see in myself. 😦

Lord, I only want to be on YOUR pedestal. If any significance comes from my successes, please help me to give all the glory to YOU! Keep me humble, Lord, and help me to remember that significance in Your Kingdom looks very different than significance in this earthly kingdom. May I be content with knowing You are smiling when I look at myself with sober judgement. Amen

We gotta let the Light shine…

We had a bunch of lights in our basement that needed new bulbs. Some we needed to buy new bulbs for, and some we just had to take the time to find in our garage. Since we weren’t placing a real high priority on changing this situation, it’s been very hard-to-see in our basement. For awhile, that was OK; but after a couple weeks, I started to get a little cranky every time I had to go downstairs. 😦

Since our basement is a walk-out, it’s convenient for it to be our main entry & exit. And, since we are often muddy/dirty, this is a good transition space to change from dirty to clean before we go upstairs. This IS a nice feature, BUT, this also means our basement has a tendency to be a WRECK. I wish I could say it’s just our muddy boots; but the fact is, we can all be pretty lazy, and leave items laying around with the thought of either: “putting that away later” or “someone else will put this away for me”. 😦

This past winter, it seems I was finally able to get into a good routine for keeping it tidy. But once milking picked back up & garden season began, I had to let that routine “slip” so I could focus on other priorities. (I believe that’s called “planfully neglecting” so you can do what’s most important first, lol…)

Our basement is basically a “catch-all”: baseball bags & equipment laying around, shoes & boots strewn all over, work clothes in piles on the freezers, outgrown clothes overflowing in a corner waiting to be taken to Goodwill, misc items from emptying out pockets on the edges of too many steps, various found treasures like pretty rocks or old rusty hinges, chunks of dried earth waiting to get swept up, shirts waiting to get ironed hanging where ever there’s an empty space on a pipe, overflowing bins of laundry waiting to get washed….uggg 😦

And to not be able to see very well, while trying to avoid these obstacles, was not making me very happy…

One day last week, Mike surprised me & put new bulbs in! I walked in and it was beautiful…for about 5 seconds…

All of a sudden I could SEE just how bad this basement had gotten. It was like a veil had been lifted… I wanted to go back to the dark. 😦

Made me think about my walk with the Lord. Like Jesus tells us in Matthew 5:17. He didn’t come to abolish the law, He came to fulfill it. We need to KNOW what His laws are or we’d never know when one was broken. But none of us can ever be perfect at following the law, which is why God sent Jesus to model that for us! As I learn more about His Ways and try to “unlearn” the dark ways, I find myself sometimes thinking, “Wow – sure was easier back when I didn’t know that was wrong.” As long days & exhaustion sets in, the devil is just waiting to throw in his jabs – “the old way was better” or “nobody needs to know” or “just hide that so it’s out of sight”…

Well, thank Heaven for His Spirit Who now dwells in me!!!! I LOVE BEING IN THE LIGHT!! Isn’t this what I often pray for: “Expose the wickedness in me, Lord – bring it to light so I can see it keep me moldable, rebukeable – cleanse me, Lord from every sin…?” 🙂

I was listening to the radio & a Kari Jobe song came on PERFECT for lifting my eyes back up. Here’s the chorus (from Matthew 5:14-16):
We are the light of the world.
We are a city on a hill.
We are the light of the world.
We gotta, we gotta, we gotta let the light shine.

Father, thank You for answering my prayers & sanctifying me through my life’s walk. 1John 1:5b-7 tells me that You are light. In You there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with You, yet walk in darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth. But if we walk in the light, as You are in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, Your Son, purifies us from all sin.

Sorry, satan – I’ve been brought into THE LIGHT, and you can’t take me away. I am able to see what’s being exposed and press on because of what God’s Son did for me on the cross. In the Lord’s perfect timing, Jesus will be right beside me as we clean up these messes – one pile at a time. I’m so grateful for LIGHT! AMEN

Tomato trellising experimentation

After many years of just using hay-mulch around our tomato plants, we are experimenting with a couple different methods of trellising the plants this season.

One row is using some old cattle panels – angled & attached to metal posts. The idea is for the plants to grow up through the squares so the fruit stays off the ground. Theory sounds good to me! 🙂

We’re trying the “Florida Weave” on another row. It’s just horizontal rows (8 inches apart) of twine woven around plants & posts. Set-up wise, Mike likes this method better – much less labor intensive. 🙂

We’ll see how harvesting works out… I’m prayerful these methods will keep the bulk of the plants supported and less rotten maters hiding under foliage. 🙂

“Gate Guides” for Father’s Day

my Father’s Day gift to Mike:

Ever since I memorized John 10:9, every time I see this crushed gate sitting by the barn, it makes me think of Jesus in this passage.  I love turning something that seems worthless or is a reminder of a past mistake into a new creation – a “remade remnant”, just like me!:)

The boys helped me move the gate for these pics, I added the words, and a friend printed them for me as 5×7’s.

And to get more of the “depth look” I wanted in this frame, another friend had some dried grass/seeds I glued onto the matting.

This framed project inspired “Part B” of Mike’s gift…Gate Guides.

Just some favorite Scripture and hymn/song refrains I know Mike likes, printed on 11×17 paper, attached to old file folders for a little more stability, covered in contact paper, and tied to gates…  (Note:  I used a better tool to poke holes through on this project – an old gutter nail, lol!)

My original plan was to have one attached to every gate – until the boys and I counted them all… We have 27 gates!!! Wow, doesn’t seem like we have that many – but once you start counting them, they all add up! 🙂

I ran out of contact paper, so I put the 8 up I finished, & will get the rest up as time goes on. The boys kept Mike occupied with a John Wayne western movie Saturday evening so I could get them hung.  It was fun walking with Mike as he saw them afterwards… 🙂

Lord, I pray these gate guides will help Mike stay focused on You while he’s out working in Your Creation.  If he’s having a rough day, may they be an aid to guide him back to You.  Rid his mind of the doubts satan likes to plant, and replace them with Your Words from 2Timothy 1:7 – that God does not give us a spirit of fear, but one of power, of love, and of self-control. If he’s having a good day, may he use them to sing Your Praises as he walks – perhaps guiding him to a familiar tune to hum.  May we always remember to encourage one another and build each other up, as You tell us to in 1Thessalonians 5:11. Amen

Hawk rescue pics

Hard to believe this happened 13 months ago!  I mentioned I’d try to post these the other day, so here goes…

Mike & Michael had been moving cows up in Gray Heaven, when they noticed a hawk walking around pretty close to them.  They thought perhaps it was a younger one learning to fly, so they watched it and stayed away.  All week Mike kept saying how much he wished he would have caught that hawk…  Well, that wish came true!  The following week, he was in Gondor & saw the SAME HAWK walking in the woodline.  Now he started thinking something might be wrong with it, because as he got closer, it didn’t fly or even try to fly away.  He made some phonecalls, and found a rescue farm not far from us who said they’d take it if he could catch it!  OH WAS HE EXCITED!!! 🙂

I was the willing photographer… Here’s the story in pics:

Look at those talons!

Here is Turtle Spring Farm Wildlife Center, Inc., checking out this Krider’s Red-tailed hawk…

This hawk is a female, and it was determined she had nerve damage in her wing, so she couldn’t be released back into the wild.  Instead, she is an educational bird now!  We went to see her in August of last year at a function in New Philadelphia.  Here are 2 pics from that day.  Isn’t she beautiful??!! 🙂