Adventures in “International Market”ing

A week or so ago, when I went to see Gi-gi, I also prioritized spending time with my oldest friend. That is, she’s not old (11 months, 2 weeks, 6 days younger than me, in fact), but holds the longest-consistent-friendship-with-moi among all of my friends. Her dad and my mom were friends in college, long before either of us was on the scene. When my parents divorced and my mom moved us back to her hometown, she reconnected with her friend, who by then was married with two kids (a daughter and son, each one year younger than my brother and I). There was a lot of dysfunction between our two families back then, but I’m blessed to know her not only as a friend with a lot of mutual history, but a sister in Christ as well.

In any case, we spent a lot of time (when I wasn’t dealing with van troubles) hunting the second hand shops and hanging out. I was in search of some Oolong tea, so we found an international market. We weren’t sure of it at first… Upon entering the store there was a fairly oppressive smell of urine. (!) However, I didn’t notice it after a while, and there had been a couple with a child (aged somewhere between 1 and 2?) by the entrance, so perhaps it could have been the child. They were of Indian or South Asian descent, and there are many refugees in the area. My heart went out to them, and I hope their transition goes smoothly… But I digress.

In addition to Oolong tea at great prices (probably because it’s cut with melamine and/or lead? hehe), it was almost like a carnival show. We’re so narrowly focused when it comes to food (as are most cultures, I suppose, based on what is abundant and affordable where they are), and there were so many things which I found to be incredibly fascinating (if not terribly appetizing).

What is this for, for instance?

Shelf stable, salted duck eggs

Salted duck eggs. Is that a delicacy? A condiment? An easy packable protein source for play dates?

With soup..?

Duck eggs were on a shelf, but this can was in the cooler. “Milk Peanut with Soup.” What kind of soup is it with? I didn’t open it to look, but is it broth maybe? Maybe a closer translation is “Soupy Peanut Milk?” Another mystery (to me).

Not a mystery.

While I’m not sure I’ve ever seen them up close, I’ve certainly heard of frog legs. Are they skinless? I kindof expected them to be green and shiny. Is there a particular frog that is farm raised for its legs? I imagine so.

I’ve never tried it!

Now I assume this is probably a fairly normal staple the world round (after all, more humans drink goat’s milk than cow’s milk – goats subsist on much less, produce less, and their milk is more easily digestible than cow’s), but I’ve never seen it for sale in stores. There are people raising Boer goats around here, but I assume they sell to non-natives primarily (my friend who raises sheep usually sells the lambs to local muslims). I wonder if goat is like lamb, or mutton, or ?? I would eat it in a taco. :)

I didn’t get to see the product (I was trying to be somewhat surreptitious), but the sign on the cooler got my attention:

Skin?

Dried shrimp skin? Isn’t that the part most people throw away? I thought maybe it meant shrimp with skin, but then… you wouldn’t have it dried, right? The meat and the skin would be drying differently and what a weird product to end up with. So maybe this is for a tonic, or it erases wrinkles, or is an aphrodisiac you can grind and sprinkle on your burger as seasoning..? Or! Maybe, like tamales wrapped in corn husks, you stuff them somehow.

This last one really takes the cake for weirdness, and the “What do you do with THAT?” factor:

Seriously!

It’s a dried squid! The whole thing! I think I can see it’s eyeball! I’m pretty sure it’s salted (the white on it?), and it’s hanging in a row of large bags like in which you’d find gummy bears. Only, it’s a gummy squid. Or a crunchy squid. Are there recipes for this? Do you rehydrate it for calamari? Soak it in warm water to create an instant soup base (with creature)? The tiny dried sardines could pass for salad croutons, but I don’t think even Hubby would want squid croutons. Crouton.

Have you ever eaten any of these things? Would you?

Falling Apart

Not me (at least, not any more than usual), but everything else!

A month ago or more I ruined the lawnmower. It may or may not have had anything to do with trying to swath (a trail through) the pasture…

Tractor laughingstock of the neighborhood, no doubt!

The washer needed new dogs again (the little grippy things that run the agitator), but I had bought the wrong kind when I’d ordered months ago in expectation of the failure.

The dishwasher has been unused for a couple months. I fixed it a year or so ago, but now that I have done it once, I’m not very motivated to try again (or get Hubby to). It makes a nice dish rack though. *sigh*

Hubby, in an incident I’m not at liberty to share, apparently electrocuted the house when the girls and I were gone for the weekend to see Gi-gi (for the first time in several months). Our new oven was fried.

Mmm.. bacon!

And then, searching online for a wiring diagram to print and diagnose the oven problem, it turned out the printer/copier was fried too.

He tore it apart and found a blown thingamajig on the electronics board of the power supply (complete with charring and scorch marks). Giving up and getting nowhere with the power company (I did not yet know Hubby was at the bottom of this. :) ), we sat down to watch a Redbox DVD. To find the DVD player was fried. At least that was just a blown fuse that anyone can redneck-rig…

The yellow wire is bypassing the blown fuse. Do not try this at home, not recommended, etc etc.

The screen on my laptop is really wonky right now. There is pink and blue, and I can sometimes get it to go away by bending the corner of the screen one way or another.

Ugh!

On our way to visit Gi-gi, I had a repeat of the engine misfiring at high speeds (twice), as happened last spring, the last time I used a freeway. I made an appointment to have the dealer hook it up to a diagnostic for $100. Instead of the suspected problem, it turned out that the front tires were too worn/damaged (which tricked the computer into thinking it was a misfire?). They offered to put new ones on for just under $900. *cough* I knew I’d bought new tires not THAT long ago, so declined in order to follow up with possible warranty replacement at the other place (which, thankfully, had also been done in Gi-gi’s city.). There was some warranty they could credit me (70,000 tires worn out on a van, bought used, that only had 65,000 miles on it), and they didn’t charge for alignment (the reason the front tires were haywire) or balance, but it was still just over $500. Whew.

I’m not sure what to do with the pellet stove and coming seasonal shift. It needs its venting system redone to work properly, and I wouldn’t mind jerking up the whole hearth area, living room carpet, etc. and putting some kind of different floor in there (what was that about being overwhelmed and overworked and too many projects?).

While we’re at it, the furnace we moved last winter is in the garage with no air exchange to the house. This is EXPENSIVE, both to operate (pulling COLD air from the garage, poorly filtered, pushing harder into the house), and to have an air exchange installed (custom sheet metal stuff, filter housing, estimated $700 last I asked).

So the tires/engine problem is fixed. The washer has proper new dogs, Hubby is installing a $250 relay board in the oven (as we speak type) that was delivered via FedEx this morning, after fighting with Brother (love their printers, not their policy) I ordered a replacement part from the “local” (135 miles away) authorized service guy, the dishwasher, pellet stove, furnace, DVD player and computer screen aren’t really on the to-do list yet. Hubby keeps talking about a bearing housing for the lawnmower but until he gets much more specific I can’t help him much. :)

{And… I have a working oven!}

Antsy

Not sure if that’s the best descriptor, but it’ll do.

Antsy. Restless. Pondering possibilities.

It’s been several months of this and I’m not sure if it’s more mid-life nonsense (I went to Costco on my birthday to buy Downton Abbey on DVD. They only had it on Blu-Ray and I ended up coming home with a 60″ flat tv. huh?), or if there is a change on the horizon.

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It dominates the room in such an idolatrous manner, I try to keep it balanced with some Jesus.

I’ve always been so thrilled and blessed to live here. God gave us this house fairly miraculously, and I could wake up 6-7 years after buying the place and still feel awe that THIS is where we get to live. I’ve birthed 3 babies since then (two of them within these very walls), gotten to grow a big garden, learned to raise turkeys and chickens and guineas and geese and (a pet) duck and bottle calves and beef and eggs and children. It’s been a real-life (sometimes too much so!) version of my childhood dreams. My adult hope was to have a home that would be enough room to raise children (our first house was 874 sq. ft. on a <3000 sf lot), on property enough to feed them.

backyard

The entire backyard.

house2

Little home.

Lately, however, I’m not finding that same peace. I’m often overwhelmed. I feel like home schooling, cooking, and cleaning would be plenty to keep me busy. That trying to be the mom and maid and cook and farmer and gardener and teacher and secretary and financial administrator is just too much. And in trying to do all that, I’m doing it all very poorly. I could list the ways but I don’t want to see them all in black and white (or brown and gray, in the case of the lawn).

For the first time in… ever… I am imagining a little city lot (okay, by city standards it would be a large lot, or even an acre or two), an old craftsman-style house with beautiful light and hardwood floors and a covered porch. I wind down at night perusing an app (sometimes) on my phone that shows houses for sale all over the country. I find the pretty ones and choke on the prices, I find foreclosures and wonder What Is Wrong to make such a good-looking property so cheap…

              Don’t I wish!!
Reality isn’t matching up with my musings though! Moving here (with ONE young child and no pets) was a horrendous chore. We rattled around in this big place for a while. But now we’ve easily quadrupled our holdings (and children), and there is a lot of homeowner projects that are unfinished. Ahem. I think it would take us two years to decent-ify this place, at minimum. And that’s if I had a sure deadline (otherwise the motivation is, um, lacking). Too, while Hubby is fantastically skilled at what he does, he’s not the kind of person you’d talk to for three minutes and offer a job to (you’d be lucky to figure out his talents after a few months of coaxing. :D ). Additionally he’s had some real compliments paid him, and confidence placed in him by his boss of 13 years; it doesn’t look like he’ll be going anywhere if they have anything to say about it. We also really love the homeschooling climate here. It’s not unusual to have four children. You can (carefully) live on a single income. The only reasonable place – were we to move any significant distance – would be a drastic step backwards in all of those areas – to say NOTHING of the housing costs in that region. And I wouldn’t want to leave our precious neighbor who is facing some health challenges (she’s 81). Were we to move a less-significant distance, well, I’m not sure it would be worth the hassle. :) Moving “to town” would entail all sorts of disagreeable things… like… neighbor kids and needing curtains and paying for water (fluoridated no less!) and to have your trash hauled off. Seriously! [but then the trash wouldn't be filling up a trailer...] 

What I DO know is that I have to pare back somewhere. As hard as it would be, cutting back all the homesteading projects makes the most sense. The time required to keep feed and water in front of pullets, and turkeys, and meat birds, hens, Hamish, Stu (who is called Star), the rabbit… Running off to buy turkey feed and milk replacer and chicken feed every time you turn around… Walking out to the pasture, driving the truck (with a 50 gallon drum in the back) to the water for filling, driving back out to Hamish’s paddock, letting him into a new paddock, winding up a wire and pulling posts, taking all of it to the next spot and stringing it all out. AND turning the far-off headgate off or on, opening the pipe gates or moving dams, walking the area to see where the water is going.. And while I do that, some or all of the girls are creatively making messes (but not learning well how to clean them up), my oldest is being Mama beyond what I think is good. I’m way too gone, way too much… and soon I need to fit home schooling in.

We’re terribly spoiled though; we’ve raised our own poultry for… this will be our seventh season! Wow! (Thanks to this blog, or I never would have known.) And actually we did turkeys before that. If we stopped, I’d have to… *gasp* …buy chicken at the store. I saw Costco has organic ones which makes me feel a little better about it. Turkeys are pretty easy, mostly because there are never more than six of them. :)

And the other part, maybe hardest part, is the land… where we live you don’t just turn an animal out on pasture (or not turn one out) and expect things to go well in coming years. We live in a real desert, and only irrigation makes it an agricultural area. We *love* the sunshine, but if you aren’t managing water, all forage and foliage is dead-brown in early June. Somebody has to manage our pasture, or it’s really, really bad (ugly that year, and will need to recover in subsequent years). We’ve rented it out before (but none of them managed things very well at all); It would require re-zoning to sell any of it (and we tried that years and years ago, and the entire county showed up to oppose the re-zone). Ideally, some organic-minded person with nothing else to do could come and raise their beef – and one for me. :)

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No water in that spot.

So I’m praying a lot. Praying for wisdom, a multiplication of my efforts results, or peace with laying things down (and the discipline not to start a creative project like a kitchen remodel :) ), a solution to the stewardship of acres. The impetus to get the house in better shape if that ends up being important. Contentment, if schooling and home-ing should be the entirety of a season.

Festive Sky

I’ve collected several amazing shots of the sky in the past month or so. Thought I’d share them. They’re just iphone pics, and {I’m pretty sure} no filters or instagram treatments. :)

From the pasture gate, I was enjoying this view when I heard a plane:

Bet his view is better.

Sometimes it’s soft pastels with a bright core of sunset:

Sometimes it’s deep, bold and rich:

I pulled the screen off the bathroom window for this one. Worth it.

When the clouds are just right, there’s a reflected ‘sunset’ to the east. Not a fan of my desert landscape, but the sky is pretty:

Looking southeast, sunset behind my right shoulder.

Sometimes it’s a bright haze and a sinking fireball:

Fireball.

This was Independence Day, and my visiting parents (who hail from where there is only occasionally sunlight, let alone sunset) were in awe of the range of colors displayed as we viewed the sky (not even the sun-setting part) from the back porch:

Looking North. Sunset to my left. Jesus help my lawn.

Another pasture view. Cool colors tonight:

I can see my roof.

Sometimes running out to irrigate is a terrible drain on my time and energy. But God gives gifts anyways:

View from the pasture.

The same sunset. So beautiful:

Horizon on fire.

I love this silhouette shot of my dad:

My dad, Independence Day.

This one was an attempt to recreate what I had with my dad’s pic, and just happened to capture the takeoff of one of Hubby’s bottle rockets:

Hubby, adding to a festive sky.

- Posted (partly) using BlogPress.

Homeschool 2013-2014

{I used Grammarly to grammar check this post, because someone actually corrected my sloppy use of an end-of-sentence preposition the other day, and I was crushed. Never. Again. <– and Ok, they don’t like the use of my periods-for-emphasis either.}

A friend posted on Facebook, “I need to get started lesson planning. Do you do it a week at a time, or what?” I replied, “I have absolutely zero motivation to lesson plan unless it is July. And then I do the whole dang thing at once.”

Thankfully, it’s pretty easy when you use an *amazing* curriculum like I do. Ambleside Online has everything laid out by week, and I just have to tweak it to fit our book choices (and add current music/art selections) and then determine what we do each day. Even that wouldn’t be as important if I didn’t have more than one or two children doing school.

I’ve been hunting the Internet waiting for back to school sales, and hit Walmart last weekend when they were still setting things out. :) i bought a package of pencils at Costco. I ordered from paperback swap, used book sites, and Amazon of course. They offered me a free trial of their prime membership and boy have I used it! I still get most public domain things free for the Kindle, and maybe one or two paid books that were considerably more expensive in paper form.

Beautiful!

Another Facebook user posted how happy she was to be done ordering for next year’s school, so she could sit back and enjoy the rest of the summer. I laughed as I typed, “I’m about done also, but instead of relaxing we get all excited and start school early!”

An Ambleside user posted (on the amazing new forum) some printable bookmark schedules. I got a little crazy with my scrapbook paper and my laminator and set the girls up to have a bookmark for almost all of their paper books.

Custom Bookmarks!

Once again I’m in complete awe of how we get to learn. I’m actually sad for text book students stuck behind a desk all day, who miss out on this amazing and rich education (that is not to say my kids know they have it as great as they do. :) ).

We usually start around the first of August only because I have it all together by then. I’m ahead of schedule this year so we’ll see what happens.

To organize I got a stack of five craft project boxes from Costco. I think they’re intended for scrapbook paper, but I think they’ll work great for keeping their work/pencils/kindle/whatever together.

Thankfully no two chose the same color.

I have one for me, one for each of three – THREE! – girls (and one for actual scrapbook paper). That’s right, Organique will be six in September and wants to learn to read. Gulp. [I can't believe I actually began this blog just before I was pregnant with her. Wow.] So I have a box for her and I’m planning a year 0 or 0.5… Learn some reading, begin to narrate Aesop, nothing heavy. Miss Pleasant will probably be in the mix there too.

Year almost-1. I had to make a bootleg copy of the Penny Primer from TATRAS after wearing out the first one.

I’m still using the schedule and checklist I posted about last year, and in fact AO now has the same chart format available to download right from their site!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone far, far from my neglected MacBook.

A Walk in the Pasture

Organique, brave girl

This is from a few days ago. Organique loves helping me in the pasture, and she found a weed with a yellow jacket nest attached.

Weed grass glistening

Towards the end of the trek, my ‘farm truck’ waits. Some kind of weed grass glistens brightly. Bad news but gorgeous.

Scotch thistle

I chopped this thistle, after appreciating its beauty in waning light. I don’t bother chopping the Canadian thistles unless they’re almost to bloom (or just bloomed) and then I chop them leaving about 6″ of stem on the root. They put out root runners like crazy, and any stress to the plant just incites more of them. Any blooming plant has most of its plant energy *up* in the plant, so it’s a good time to pull tough weeds. If you chop a Canadian thistle shorter or taller than about 6″, it’ll put out side shoots and make even more blossoms/seeds.

Red Clover!

More red clover! Two years ago there was almost NO red clover in the pasture (I could think of one plant along the neighbor’s fence). Irrigating and good grazing/rotation has really brought it back and I’m so pleased.

Trail.

The above is a rock chuck trail. It’s quite a well-worn path, which I don’t remember seeing in lush grass (often in the dry stuff). I drown them out routinely (or try to) but they’ve taken to the high, dry ground and relocate temporarily to the rock pile at the north end of the pasture when the floods come. Oh, also that’s my wide, peasant-style shadow. Hm.

Shiny!

That’s milkweed, and milkweed beetles. We don’t seem to get monarch caterpillars, but these things abound (as evidenced by the above fornication). They’re a beautiful metallic green/blue. The milkweed is a weed, but I let it stay.

Bug-eyed.

And a self-portrait with my new bug-eye sunglasses. The girls (or I) lost my sporty robo-cop glasses and I balked at a $16 price tag when I first shopped for replacements. I found these at a discount store; they had about 5 pairs on display, all the same style/shape but different color/material. They were $5.
– Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone far, far from my neglected MacBook.

Further Thoughts on Killing Critters

{I thought I had posted this a month ago, and find it sitting in my drafts folder…}

After my last post about killing and eating animals we “knew in real life,” I had some additional thoughts to share.

I wrote that it was mostly quality and purpose of their lives that made it easier to contend with their demise. I didn’t write much about context, perhaps because it’s fairly ingrained in me at this point and I don’t realize it’s not that way for everyone.

If you want to be more comfortable raising and killing your own meat animals, this could be a good exercise for you: I would recommend reading up on the industry standard, the ‘conventional’ practice, what is ‘normal’ for the vast majority of our nation’s protein supply.

It’s not pretty.

And I’m not talking about PETA propaganda, or those internet photos that are out of context and complete anomalies (the pigs in individualized cages they carry around with them under what looks like a bombed out freeway overpass). I’m talking about the regular, typical practices. Because they’re bad enough in some ways, and we don’t need to use the freak episodes as education. :)

I live next door to a small Jersey dairy. The dairyman has done it his entire life, and only milks 30-some cows at any one time. He was recently inducted into a local hall of fame and is nationally recognized for his herd’s genetics. He has blessed us more than once with a good trade for a bull calf, and ditched our field last year (effectively enabling me to irrigate properly, feed my cattle and therefore my family). However, he’s definitely conventional in his practices. His cows are penned in a big square area adjacent to the (new) milking barn (which milks 7 at a time), old ton straw bales along one side as a windbreak, and feed gates (the metal things through which they stick their heads to access a long trough for feed) along another side. They live in this paddock all year round, and occasionally a front-end loader is used to scrape, pile, and remove mountains of manure. The younger heifers/dry cows are in a similar paddock not far from the first, and the yearling heifers are in a cement corral, or sometimes a small corral that ends up belly-deep in manure and straw, depending on the season. The bottle calves are in little individual sheds that they can poke their heads out and look around, all in a line.

I don’t share any of this as criticism of my neighbor. He at least is both the owner and the operator, knows all the names (yes names, not numbers) of his cows, can mentally trace bloodlines through decades of his beasts, and is still going at this at 70-some years old. Any criticism I offer is of a system, of a paradigm, of practices that could be so different…

My neighbor farms a good 60-80 acres (owned and leased). The cows and associated buildings are on a very tiny percentage of this acreage. The balance is used to grow feed for his cows. Alfalfa for hay, corn for silage, triticale for hay… And in every season of the year his cows are fed the dried/fermented/whatever stuff in their feed trough, and in every season the manure is managed from that paddock, and in every season the cows stay in their one spot. Mucky rain, wind, beautiful sunshine… they are never on pasture, they are never outside those two paddocks (and ten months of every year they’re in the one). When it’s wet and miserable, the cows are up to their bellies (and udders) in mucky manure. I’ve visited his milking parlor on several occasions and he’s careful to wipe the teats with a bleached towel, and then use an iodine dip before attaching the equipment, and some other dip for afterwards. His is a decent operation.

Hubby frequently works on dairies, mostly with their waste and irrigation systems and “sh*t pond” pumps (that’s fun, no doubt). He sees inside the milking parlors that are part of dairies that own and manage cows numbering 30, even 50,000 (not counting the dry cows or upcoming heifers). With hundreds of employees, the milking and field work is often done by mexican laborers. Hubby has watched cows (who just spent twelve hours in a pen full of other cows and tons of manure) file into a parlor covered in manure slime up to their hips. They cross an upward-spraying device that is supposed to help, and the workers take (what looks like) a 2-gallon weed sprayer to their teats as they enter their stalls, knock the bigger chunks of manure off with a towel, use the iodine dip and hook up the machine. Even before we were “weird” when it came to our food, Hubby thought to himself that he would really not want to eat food or drink milk from those dairies, raw or otherwise.

You can use google earth to zoom in on massive dairies and see the acres of paddocks that are manure-brown, the huge loaders and spreaders and flush systems and settling ponds – ALL to ‘make it easier’ and more efficient. Which, it is, if we’re talking straight value of inputs vs. pounds of outputs.

Here is a street view of a milk and beef producer I know who rotates pasture, feeds grass and hay, and sells organic raw milk at an ungodly price. You can see some cows in the distance (in one paddock):


(I had to take photos of my screen; there was a problem uploading screen shots for some reason, so I apologize for the weird quality.) From the satellite view (this looks like late summer/early fall to me) you can see where his permanent wires run (the variation in grass age). The road from the street view is to the right, by the barns/buildings:


Here is a street view of a “regular” dairy:


And the same operation from above:


The street view was taken along the road at the top of the pic. You can see partitioned corrals, and a manure mountain in each one. On the left are some of the heavy machinery and [sh**] ponds. The large rectangles are shade roofs, sheds without walls kinda. You can see a part of the irrigated fields growing corn and hay.

Now, I know these examples are of dairy operations, but the truth is, if you’re eating animal protein (whether milk or meat or eggs), there was an animal somewhere that provided that to you. Our system makes it easy to be divorced from this truth, but it’s truth nonetheless. The next question might be, “what kind of life is that animal living? (or did it live?)” Because it DOES exist, somewhere. Once you go down that road (and unless you’re willing to give up animal protein entirely), the thought of raising and killing your own becomes a lot more palatable.

Heatwave

It’s been a warm week! Why does February take 3 months, and summer 3 weeks? It’s really not fair.

We’ve kept very busy, and I can’t believe we’re a week into July already. Last week it hit well into the 100s and I was helping out with a group garage sale. That was a LOT of work.

My folks and their kids came to visit for a few days over Independence Day. My dad brought a separate car and left on the second day to go home and get work done on my Granny’s house (that still, 2 years after her passing, sits empty and not ‘figured out’ yet). It worked well since they bought Chuck from us so there was room to take him home (in coolers).

My cousin, who lives near my folks but was working in southern California, called me a week or two ago and asked if I could babysit her three chickens. Huh? Apparently her job was not a good fit, and she suddenly moved to my area to live with some friends (who I knew well 20 years ago, also in my folks’ neighborhood). Until further notice.

Big Sister was well into caring for two jersey calves when one ended up in a bad way. He probably had started with a tail injury (stepped on?) and we didn’t pay close enough attention to it until it was very, very late. He died.

As mentioned, Chuck met his destiny, leaving us with one bottle calf and Hamish, the hairy Highland steer. The calf lives in the yard (tied to whatever allows him some grazing area) and Hamish in the pasture – the only lonely whom I haul water to and rotate paddocks regularly. He will be beef this fall I presume.

Hamish and Chuck

It has been a dry spring/summer. It’s officially “drought” conditions I hear. I know the spring green gave way to burnt brown (where not irrigated) a lot sooner this year than the past few years. Independence Day brought a lot of cautionary admonishments from local police/fire departments. Our lawn – can it even be called that?? – is worse than ever. The sprinklers really need replaced – they don’t aim and turn properly, so they either spray the calves in the playhouse, or the meat bird pen is in the wrong place… No fun!

What IS fun, though, is a slip-n-slide. Big Sister proudly bought one with her own money and the girls played a few times on it. With cousins here I decided we needed to upgrade, so I rolled out a bit of my heavy duty garden plastic and some dish soap. And a few bricks and rocks to hold the corners down (plus, that adds an edge of excitement, yes?). Also, oil is not as slippery as dish soap, but a parent needs to be in charge of the soap bottle. Otherwise you will go through a costco-sized Dawn jug, or an expensive geranium-scented Mrs. Meyers bottle, either of which isn’t ideal.

The greenest of the grass

Every wading pool I buy ends up blowing away or getting otherwise destroyed. The girls stole one of my good tarps and improvised.

I hope my tarp survives

That bed liner has brooded chicks, served as storage, and even (maybe) lined a pickup bed in the past. Might as well bathe kids in it.

Killing Critters

It was asked “how do you do it?” In regard to raising some animal that you ultimately kill (or have killed) and eat.

I think it’s different with each animal, and probably each person. I’m not a big animal-lover. I don’t have indoor pets, I don’t have a cat or dog that adds a huge emotional value to my being (we have a dog and cat, and I like them fine, I’m just not terribly invested in them).

Tom Turkey, circa 2006

Tom Turkey, circa 2006

The first things we ever raised to eat we’re some turkeys. At the farm store we also got a duckling as a pet, so we could “love” it and not the turkeys. It turned out not to be much of a problem. :) the turkeys were fun and weird, but the idea of turkey dinner was more fun. Aflac, our duckling, learned to swim in a paint roller tray. RIP Aflac

She stayed with us for years, living loose in the yard, and was her own kind of fun. We occasionally found eggs to eat (this was before we had hens), she played in the sprinklers at night and was the loudest “watchdog” ever.

Aflac, loved.

Aflac, loved.

But we also could NOT keep her from sullying a wading pool for the kids, and some of her activities were icky enough that I wouldn’t have eaten her if I’d had the chance. When she was (probably) eaten by a hawk one fall, I felt bad for the circumstances of her passing, but didn’t replace her.

RIP Aflac

Aflac, jealous of the car wash bucket.

Meat chickens are often so hideous and miserable (as has been said on this blog many times) you feel like you’re doing them a favor by offing them. :) (we are raising Rangers again this year which are not nearly as miserable, but we’re in the groove now and it’s not hard.)

..But they get ugly real quick!

..But they get ugly real quick!

We raised geese one year, and at first I thought I was in trouble. They are the CUTEST little things, and even as they grow, they are SO soft and SO precious. We had 3, and they would eat clover and alfalfa leaves by the bushel. I moved them from their cage into an area enclosed by poultry netting and that afternoon one had stuck his head out through the net. Their natural response to that is to turn back and quickly corkscrew themselves to get free. Not surprisingly it had the opposite effect and the thing was tangled and strangled before we even knew what had happened. When a second one nearly did the same (while we were close by), we moved them to a different enclosure immediately. That was hard. But… As they grew to maturity they took to hanging out on the porch… And not just ANYWHERE on the porch, but right at the threshold. They would sleep there overnight and leave the BIGGEST piles of grassy goose poop you’ve ever seen. Like horse manure, I swear. We locked them in the backyard and they chose the tiny little wooden step at the BACK door. So I could nearly step in it with every load of laundry I hung out. :] I found I had a very fine line separating “the cutest things ever” to “evil beasts that deserve to die.” I wouldn’t mind them if I had a proper place to house them, but they weren’t ideal as free-rangers.

Done In

We eventually penned them up.

The first bottle calves we raised started 2 years ago and I wasn’t sure how I’d feel about having something “cute, fuzzy, friendly” be processed. However, I feel a deep sense of purpose on their behalf. Filling my freezer was their destiny, and they lived an amazingly good and pleasant life until that point. They are dispatched quickly, at home, without the stress of travel or slaughterhouse smells. That is better than most animals can hope to experience. Feeding my family deug-free, grass-fed beef affordably is a HUGELY meaningful goal of mine, and that definitely factors. Their life is good, their “after-life” even better. :)

Sir Loin, now in the basement deep freeze.

Sir Loin, now in the basement deep freeze.

We did end up having to have my big lovely cow, Mae, processed last winter. THAT was harder than the rest, because it was definitely Plan B for her, and Plan A failed mostly because of me. We had arranged to haul her to an Angus bull, and I had some lovely neighbors bring their truck and trailer and help… For hours I tempted and cajoled and prodded to get her in that thing, and it could not be done.

Stubborn cow

Stubborn cow

Had I *owned* a trailer that I could set out there for 3 days, it might’ve worked. Her hooves also needed trimmed, and her horn rack would not allow her to be out in a squeeze chute for that purpose or artificial insemination. We cannot afford a pet that size that doesn’t produce an offspring yearly, so with some considerable thought and prayer, we went that route.
So I guess it is about purpose, destiny, quality of life, manner of death, and benefit to my family that factor into it for me.

Plus sometimes they’re a lot of work and you can’t wait to remove them from your daily chore load. :)

Thinking On These Things

Lately – and by that I mean the past year or so – God has been speaking to my heart about law, and grace, and relationship, and perspective.


~Making “grass angels.”

If the New Covenant is … Well, new, why do I still try to measure up to a standard, to law (which was the Old Covenant)?

I’m finding that I have operated and thought more like someone trying to fulfill the law – via Jesus and His grace, of course. Ahem. – when we have a big ol’ Book that tells us how we can’t manage that.

I want to be free. It was for freedom that He set us free! I still don’t ‘get’ most of it, I don’t know how to live and walk in it, but I trust He will lead and show me.

This is a podcast by a British guy named Anthony Chapman. I heard something about him and searched in the iTunes Store. He shows up in several podcasts and this sermon is given in one fashion or another in many places. This is a fairly brief version, but a meaty one nonetheless. If you ever feel condemned, that your sin and falling short are just too much to overcome, please listen. Of you ever “don’t measure up” to your (or someone else’s) ideal, this is for you (and me).

***

This is essentially the same message but goes deeper into scripture, and the difference between intimacy with the Law and intimacy with Jesus. If the other one left you with some questions, follow up with this one. :)

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone far, far from my neglected MacBook.

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