Saturday, August 27, 2005

Poem by Farmer Boy (age 8)

God is With You

Do not worry, do not fear,
God is with you right here.
If you worry if you fear,
say this poem through the year.
God is here, God is there,
God is with you everywhere.

Friday, August 19, 2005

First calf of 2005

Look what I discovered this evening as I fed the goats!!!

Here he is with his Mama:

He is very young, a day or less I'd guess. Still a little wobbly. He is soooooo cute!

We're a bit (!) behind the rest of the cow breeding world, to whom common sense has dictated that the best month to birth calves in Texas is NOT August, often the hottest and driest month of the year. Our scientific method of breeding our girls consists of letting them live with a bull, and, uh, well, that's it. This clever method does afford happy little surprises, like the cutie above. It is also extremely easy (at least for the humans).

And there are definitely more on the way! There were some heavily laden and hungry girls out there tonight. Mooooo!

A Real Life

Back at the beginning of the summer, a childhood friend of mine read the blog for the first time. We now live 2000 miles away from each other, so she e-mailed me and asked me what I meant in my blog subtitle by "a real life". This spurred a good month of really thinking about the question.

Unfortunately, I think I offended her. I never meant the title to imply that someone not living on a farm is not living a real life! I still think that "learning to live a real life" captures very much what we are trying to do here. But let me say to all of you... we each are on our own journey home and living it as fully as possible is living a real life, in my opinion. That long walk will be as different for each of us as we are from one another.

Here's what it means to me:

I want to be more connected with the people in my life. I want to fully enjoy the beauty of creation. I want to know where my food comes from and I want it to taste delicious. I want to take risks and I want to make mistakes. I want to experience getting hurt then healing, and finding greater strength for it.

I don't want to watch life on TV, I want to be there. I want it to happen to me, and I want to be scared and overjoyed. I don't want to take things for granted. I want to touch my bread before it is baked. I want to really know my kids. I want to struggle with my husband over little things and big things, and learn how to sacrifice for him, and ask for forgiveness, and grow in humility. And throw my arms around him because he is my husband and I love him.

I don't want to be in an emotional place where at the end of the day I feel I have to turn on the TV or a movie to escape from my life. I want to dig in and live it, right through the conflicts, the cactus thorns in my hand, the sunsets, the kisses, the accidents, the downy baby chicks, the stinky chicken litter, the goats getting out, the wasps in the house, the warm snuggles from a 3 year old in the middle of the night.

I want to be here. Right now.

That's my idea of a real life.

I don't think you have to live on a farm to take that in and try it. Be there. Listen to those people you love with all of yourself. Make something from scratch. Pick flowers for no reason. Bring a little beauty into someone else's life by giving them the gift of YOU. Stop being so scared.

It's all about the love, baby...

Full Summer

Missed the entire month of July, and I'm coming close to missing August, so it's time to post!

My absence from the blog was mostly due to my absence from the computer. The summer has been a busy one of house guests (including an extended visit from the Horse Whisperer, our niece from New York), and trying to get organized. We have put some new systems in place that seem to be working, and while I doubt I will ever feel like I am actually on top of things (there's ALWAYS something more to be done), I no longer feel like everything is completely out of control!

New animals to the farm include Joe, a 2 year old palomino apaloosa:

The HW has been working with him, hoping to train him and resell him as a started horse. He is showing promise as a cutting horse. He is fast and can turn quickly.

We also got 50 broiler chicks in early June:

Who now are 25 big fat chickens:

The other 25 are dead, most of them by our hands last Saturday (murderers!). We're getting better at the whole slaughtering process, better in the sense of faster and more efficient. Slaughter remains the least pleasant of all the farm duties. I confess I still have not done the actual killing myself, although I am in charge of the other end. I am now the resident evisceration queen. Yuck.

Three of the horses who have been part of our farm life, who were also horses with whom the HW has been working, were sold last Saturday. Hank, Chester and Cherokee left us, we pray to happy homes.




Saturday was an emotional day... horses moving away, chickens dying.

As for the humans, by far the most complex and high maintenance animals on the farm, we are all well. The HW is here with us from mid-May to early Sept, so her stay is coming to a close. Today we took her to Cavender's Boot City, but she was unable to find boots or a hat for suitable Texan souvenirs.

Farmer Boy has spent most of his summer shirtless and muddy. A fine summer for an 8 year old! His best friend, who now lives in PA, visited for 12 days this summer, along with his parents and 4 siblings. It was a wonderful reunion for all of us, lots of laughter and kids and food.

The Princess is settling into her role and has rejected from her wardrobe all items of clothing that are not pink, purple, red or yellow. She finds she must change outfits at least twice a day in order to insure that she is suitably clean, and that the social requirements of the moment are met. She mostly prefers to wear her Sunday dresses and her fairy dress. We've had to set some rules about what can be worn to play outside! Despite her ladylike dress code, she can hold her own with the animals, as well as her brother, although I overheard a very funny conversation this afternoon at the park:

FB's 7 year old friend: "Princess! Come on up here and play with us!"
The Princess: "No, you're too wild."
Friend: "Pshaw! That's how boys are supposed to be!"

I am not making this up. She really said "too wild" and he really said "pshaw".

Stephen keeps busy planning farm projects and running into virtually insurmountable obstacles. If it wouldn't exhaust me I'd try to write down the details. Suffice to say, that I have reopened the discussion of naming the place "Snafu Farm." He manages to squeeze this into a 40+ hour week at his off farm job.

And I have directed most of my extra energy toward getting a Mama stress reduction system in place. I've had some health concerns this summer and have given up caffeine as a result. Lo and behold, I can no longer get by on 5 hours of sleep. So I have had to figure out how to find time for at least 7, as well as a 10 minute nap in the afternoon. In addition, I needed some way to keep on top of the housework and farm chores so that I did not feel like I was living in constant chaos. It's not a perfect system that we've got, but it is better than before. We start school on Aug.29, so we shall see how the system holds up as we shift gears back to our school schedule. I can't believe FB is going into 3rd grade... our fourth official year of home schooling.

No real animal news. Snowy the doe was not pregnant. So no goat milk. But in a way it is good. We really are not properly set up for it, and we have agreed not to get any more goats until we have a better location for them and a new shelter (part of which will be the milking area).

In general Stephen and I are both weary of regularly dealing with animal management problems due to poor facilities. None of the animals (expect the cows) are currently living where we'd ultimately like them to be. We are trying to sort out the basic framework of our vision, so we can break it down into attainable tasks. Until that time, we really don't want to add any more animals.