Summer Retrospective – 2013

As I’ve said before, life is busy.  Having a family as large as ours, life is definitely busy.  I’ve been pondering the harvest this year.  The garden went better in a few areas, but was a learning experience overall.  I worked on using some local bamboo for supports and learned the true power of beans – toppling even the most robust heritage dent corn that was close to 14 feet tall.

And speaking of that corn – excited to try the corn meal from those dried kernels.  We’ve been spoiled with a great cornmeal from Quail Cove Co-Op called “Pungo Creek” Indian corn meal.  If you know anything of heritage corn, Pungo Creek is derived from Bloody Butcher, as I’ve read.  It makes a beautiful multicolored cornmeal – hints of blue, red, yellow, blue and white.  I had doubts that our corn would actually work – we have small beds and corn tends to like very dense rows.  I was also shooting for a multi-specie bed, full of corn, beans and tomatoes.  The corn planting wasn’t real thick, just a couple of rows.  But it came up great!  A couple of the stalks were eliminated early by aggressive beans, but we ended up with two stalks, a meager run, but it was a success!  From those two stalks, we had four ears of corn, yielding about 3 -4 cups of dried kernels.  It was interesting: one stalk tended to have very red kernels on the ear while the other stalk had kernels on the ear in the white-yellow-blue realm.

There is some excitement for when we mill this up and have some good homegrown cornbread!

In other realms of the garden, tomatoes weren’t overly productive for us, or for many other folks here.  It was a very mild and wet summer – quite unusual for our typical fare.  It seemed that a blight might have been afoot over the summer – a nice wet summer would be a great hosting environment for many of them.  Greens did well and they’re back in the ground.  Carrots were also successful, as were the simple beet and onions.  Still to be determined are sweet potatoes and a new winter squash, Green-Striped Cushaw.  It sounds delicious and the squash bugs didn’t affect it; those are the bane of my squash growing existence here.  It’s odd, in this region, they’re spotty; some folks have no problems, other, they’re everywhere.  I’m in the “everywhere” zone.  Winter squash may be the fix, something I’ve learned thanks to the wonderful folks at Southern Exposure Seed Exchange.

They’re still the rest of the winter – greens!

Solo Deo Gloria,

javajeb

Posted in gardening | 2 Comments

Time and Coffee

Life is full in our neck of the woods. The fight is on – against squash bugs, against encroaching grass, against sin in life, for better food, for better lives, for holier lives. In a small farm that’s a sideline, where we homeschool and I work full time, there’s little time for much of the online world.

But today is a day for which I am thankful. Had a great time in the rain tending the goats this morning. Thankful for children who help so readily move animals. Glad to have a great cup of coffee this morning – a Brazil if memory serves me.

Trust in the LORD, and do good; dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness. – Psalm 37:3 (ESV)

javajeb

Posted in Life, the Universe and Everything

Itinerant Postings

I foster no excuses.  As with many today, life is busy.  I will in no wise complain, however, since God has continued to provide for my family.  For that I am truly thankful.  But in a house with a large family, a small farm out the door, and a full time job, posting to a blog gets relegated somewhere after taking out the garbage or closing up the chicken coop.  For what it’s worth, the chicken coop closes at dusk, round 8:35 or so, and not long after, I’m sleeping.

That, however non-standard, is pretty normal for me.  Normalcy is up as close to 6AM as I can muster, feeding goats and chickens.  Then, back in the house and try to spend some time with the Bible to keep a focus on the primary things.  Shower, breakfast, fix lunch and off to the office.  Home at 5, milk, dinner, play around with the children, get them to bed, and then my bride and I hit the hay shortly thereafter.

With all that, it becomes easy to see why blogging is of little relevance.  My primary goal is to more consistently glorify God and enjoy Him.  For me to do that, I always need to find more time to spend in the word.  If anyone reading has a suggestion, let me know.  I’m all ears.

Posted in Life, the Universe and Everything

Coffee, Goats & M’Cheyne

I guess since Kaldi is virtually the patron ‘saint’ of coffee, the mixed title is appropriate.  With the goats at our micro site, they’re doing quite well.  Deliveries this season so far: three.  Two kids survived and are doing well.  We’re searching for a new home for the boys.

The little guys here are about two months old.  The one that didn’t make it was from another dam, and we really don’t know what happened there.  But, that is life on a farm.

On coffee, I had to make a change over Christmas.  I’ve been roasting in a West Bend Poppery for years now, and I’ve had to work on the heating element.  I even had to go so far as to sub in the element from an 1100 watt popper I had laying around.  Well, 1100 watts doesn’t quite get the job done.  On a cold night, I couldn’t get the roast up to heat at all.  So, I did a bit of ‘engineering’ on it, getting a bit too much heat in the process.  But I went ahead and split wired it so that the fan is always on.  Now, all I need to grab is a suitable controller for the heating element.

M’Cheyne, you ask?  He was a Scottish pastor in the 19th Century.  He’s famous for several things, one of which is his Reading Plan for the Bible.  It encompasses a private and familial reading, one each for morning and evening.  We’ve been doing scripture readings at breakfast and dinner so far this year, and a blessing it has been.  But tomorrow, it’ll get a bit interesting as we encounter Genesis 34. the defiling of Leah and Jacob’s daughter, Dinah.  While the account is difficult, we are trying not to shy away from what scripture brings to light.  The “bad” elements you find therein aren’t any different from what we encounter and fight today.  So, forward we march.

Solo Deo Gloria,

jason

Posted in Bible, Coffee, Goat, Roasting

Why

Justification.  It’s something we all do.  We justify our actions all the time, if not to someone else, to ourselves for certain.  And after the past week of fighting with the amorous buck, I question myself, my sanity, my motives.  Why?  Why subject oneself to such frustration?  potential harm?  aggravation? expense?  The short answer: it’s about the food. Continue reading

Posted in Life, the Universe and Everything | 2 Comments

Dancing

Some days, I definitely feel like Kaldi.  This weekend was one of those days.  Saturday after an outing and brief rest, our eldest daughter comes in exclaiming that the buck is in the doe pen.  Separation is a virtue when you want nicely flavored milk and expected kids.  With little fanfare, some repairs, and a gentle tug of war (that I won), the buck was back in his pen.

But all too often, life consists in following the directions on the shampoo bottle: lather, rinse, repeat.  Sunday afternoon as I headed out to milk, I raise my eyes and see the bugger back in with ‘his girls’.  Now granted, the girls aren’t real happy to be chased about, snorted over, jostled and beat about the pen.  In fact, I had to climb the gate so they wouldn’t all escape the interest of this wayward buck.  Once my feet hit ground and buck saw me, he stood on hind legs.  If you’ve never been around goats, this is a typical position that proceeds a stout head butting.  I may be hard headed (ask my wife), but not that hard.  And that’s also where the dancing ensued.

Dodging the attempted head-butting, I grab his horns.  Quickly and deftly, but ultimately uselessly, I slip a leash over his head.  It was useless because I could never release his horns for fear of being impaled thereupon.  So there I went, leading buck out of the pen and around to his, with my eldest being the door operator.  Once he’s in his pen, I realize that I can’t release him and turn to leave.  So, in earnest, the struggle ensues until I’m able to safely depart.

As frustrating as this may be, and if my guess is right, it’ll be repeated today, I still appreciate what we get from the girls.  Overall, they’re interesting and somewhat fun animals to have.  Work -yes.  But there’s nothing wrong with hard work.  I’m thankful for the milk, for family, especially as they help (eldest daughter and wife, especially), and for a reminder that I am not perfect.

As I’ve thought about this and recounted it, I realize I’m even worse at ‘jumping the fence’ into what mess might be found.  No, I’m not dealing with criminal or a congruent sexual reference, but the more ordinary sins that we all face.  To God, I’m not a whole lot different that this contrary goat in rut straying from his pasture and pen for what is enticing.  It’s reminded me that patience is needed more in my life, and a reminder that I’ve been given great patience from our Lord God.  Sometimes, it’s humbling to work with the beasts of the field; they teach us much about ourselves.

Solo Deo Gloria,

jason

Posted in Goat, Theology

Herd Management, Scripture, and Gardening

It’s been quite a while since I dropped by, or even stopped long enough to gather a few thoughts together.  It’s almost July, and there’s still so much to be done.  We made it through kidding season without incident.  The gardens went in later than we’d like.  And I haven’t been as faithful as I’d wish with regards to spending time in Scripture.

First, the kids.  We sold all but three of this year’s kids, plus a buck from last year.  That was a relief – feeding 15 goats can get pricey!  But of what we kept, we have two does that will go into the milking cycle next year, we hope.  The third will be a buck companion, but he’s yet to be wethered.  Of the three, one is a Nupine (Nubian-Alpine cross, but looks predominantly alpine), and the other two are Nubian-Toggenburg crosses.  One looks a bit more Nubian and the other completely Toggenburg.  We’ve had a bit of sickness, but nothing life threatening.  Overall, on the goat front, it’s been quiet.

On to the gardens.  The peas I planted were the wrong kind, but the chickens and compost critters will enjoy them.  The tomatoes are coming along, albeit slowly.  The summer has turned hot here quickly, but not as dry, up to now, as last year.  So, there is hope.  What root crops we did do in the raised beds did very well, and for that we are truly thankful.  It’s amazing to see the bounty you can get from a relatively little amount of work.  And it’s a great reminder that we are to be ever thankful for what we do have.

One great highlight of the gardening season has been volunteers.  We had volunteer potatoes (a few harvested and they were delicious!), currant tomatoes (though I’m rethinking these) and Rutgers tomatoes.  The Rutgers were transplanted but the currants were left to their own desires.  We still have basil and oregano from last year, and boy, are they large!  But we too often forget about them.  Maybe tonight they’ll go into the pizza.

With scripture, I have a great desire to spend more time in the word, but all to often, it seems as if there is no time.  Or, when there is time, there isn’t enough energy to pull two verses together and make sense of them.  But, I suppose that is the plight of a father, a father of five children, full time employee and part time gardener.  Sometimes I think some things need to be changed, like less work and more family and farm time.  But that doesn’t easily pay the bills.  If only…

Solo Deo Gloria,

jason

Posted in Bible, gardening, Life, the Universe and Everything | 2 Comments

The Herd – Conclusion

The herd stabilization is now complete.  In total, we had nine kids, the last when our two-year old Toggenburg kidded on February 20th.  We sold one doe with kids to a friend so they could start milking.  Now, we have four does in milk with seven kids and two bucks.

Well, as craigslist would have it, we’re getting rid of several more this weekend, assuming all goes as planned.  That should have us back down to our desired place of four does, two doelings for 4-H projects and breeding next fall, and one buckling to wether as a companion to our buck.  So, eight goats should be our stabilized point this year.  That’s better from a feed perspective than fifteen for sure!

Soli Deo Gloria,

jason

Posted in Goat, Life, the Universe and Everything | 2 Comments

The Herd

The herd had grown in the past month.  Eight more kids, four sets of twins, now prance and bounce around the pen.  Here are a few pics of the caprine critters.  More will show up later.

Posted in Life, the Universe and Everything | 5 Comments

Omnibus

Well, kidding season is under way here on our little ‘stead.  Four kids so far: 2 sets of twins, both buckling and doeling on each.  First set came from a Nubian dam, the second from an Alpine.  All are doing well, kids are bouncing around the field, happy as could be.  We’ll see if they’re still happy after this weekend, with the planned disbudding.

Philippians is proving to be a challenge as a discipline.  It’s interesting how old translations can really bugger up your mind.  Philippians 1:3-5 is in my head from some other translation, and the ESV, despite its elegance, has proved to be very difficult to get in.  That’s thrown much of the schedule off for me.  But despair, I do not.  I will trudge along, praying to complete the task.  I may not end, however, with everyone else.

On similar, spiritual notes, please take a look at this quotable from R. J. Hayton.  This one is from Dorothy Sayers, from one of my favorites essays of hers, “Creed or Chaos?”.  It’s a magnificent explanation of what Christianity is, that it requires the uncomfortable and difficult task of dogma, or systematics, to be anything.  It’s not a feeling, a perception.  It’s truth, and it’s not something you can learn in a few sentences.  Read the full essay online, if you like.

 

Solo Deo Gloria,

jason

Posted in Bible, Goat, Theology | 2 Comments