Friday, April 30, 2010

Farm Report + Cogitation and General Philosophizing

Jonah had a couple of hard animal-life lessons today.

While we were planting onions, he found a tiny baby bird on the ground. There aren't any trees very close by, so I don't know where it came from. It was not in any kind of a ground-nest, either-- it was just laying there on the hard, bare dirt. It was very newly hatched and didn't even have any feathers. There was no mother-bird around. I would guess it was one of the Grackles that are nesting under the eves of our house. Of course, Jonah thought it would be okay, but I had to explain to him that it needed it's mother in order to survive. He suggested that we take it in the house and take care of it, and I'm so glad it wasn't a little older or I would have been tempted. We talked about how it says in the Bible that the Heavenly Father doesn't let even a tiny sparrow fall to the ground without His knowing and ordaining it. Creation is broken by sin and things have to die.

This afternoon, we found a Mama duck bringing out a new passel of ducklings. We went back and checked the nest and found a number of unhatched eggs, as well as one that was in the process of hatching. Those Muscovy ducks tend to leave the nest with their babies in a big hurry (can you blame them? I probably would, too, if I had been sitting there for almost 6 weeks). We checked on the hatching one quite a few times, but it made no progress. Jonah kept suggesting that we help it, but I told him it would do the duckling no favors. If they can't hatch themselves, they won't be able to survive. I had to tell him that the strong ones hatch and the weak ones... don't.

Here's the mama duck, proudly posing with her first-ever brood of eight (okay, maybe she wasn't really posing. She just thought that maybe I'd be feeding her). This poor thing tried a couple of times to hatch nests last year, but had no success.

Watching that duckling struggle made me think about how impossible it looks. Birth. It just seems like it can't happen. Whether it's a baby bird breaking out of a hard shell or a baby animal being pushed out of it's mother, or the hard work ahead of me in a little over a couple months of birthing my own baby-- it seems impossible. How does such a weak little thing make it to the outside and then transition to life in the harsh world? If I hadn't experienced it so many times, I don't think I would believe it.

I'm glad I can know that God made it to work that way, and it does.

We have another new addition to our little Funny Farm. Strawberry is a 2 year old LaMancha/Nubian cross. She actually gives some of the sweetest and creamiest milk I've ever tasted.

Yes, she is "earless" (or nearly). That's the La Mancha in her. I've never much cared for that look, but I guess she's pretty cute.

And look-- Just look how happy she is!

(Aside: Can't decide whether that picture is hilarious or just plain creepy. I promise I didn't add that smile in Photoshop.)

Actually... I think she's faking. "We're fine! We're all fine, here... how are you?" (name that movie)


She's actually been yelling pretty much nonstop. She's also a talented escape artist. She finds a way out, one way or another, and after finishing off whatever is left of my raspberry plants (Arg! I was SO hoping to pick some this year), she hikes herself to the kitchen porch to look in and find me.

I'm sure she'll settle in-- it just takes time. But it doesn't help that Opal is so mean to her. After Cappuccino died, Opal became herd-queen by default. But instead of being a kind and benevolent ruler like Capp was, Opal is a bullying despot. She pushes all the other goats away from the hay and eats her own grain as fast as she can so that she can steal theirs. She tries to hog all my attention when I'm out there. She shows her headship, over and over, by knocking a good one to any other critter who walks too close, tries to eat, lays in her spot, or generally displeases her in any way.

I've been jumping through all sorts of hoops just to make sure that Strawberry gets something to eat and drink. I still don't think she's getting enough (while Opal is looking mighty fat and sassy), and she's not learning to stand up for herself very well so far. Tomorrow, Annabelle and her kids are heading to the livestock auction, and I think that may help give Strawberry and Opal a chance to work things out.

My animals have been making me a little crazy lately. Between Opal's dictatorship, and all the birds' annoying habits, my barn is just nuts these days. The chickens fight and squabble when I feed them and then they go and steal the cat's food. The ducks follow me around, plucking at my jeans and "talking" to me, demanding their own special food in their own special place (they consider themselves "above" these other pitiful poultry plebes). The cats look with long and hungry expressions into the hutch where the baby chicks live with their mother. I can no longer send Jonah out with a compost bucket to empty because the rooster asults him endlessly. The chickens wreak havoc on my garden or anything that I plant around the house, always looking for every opportunity to find a yummy grub or worm.

I feed them and feed them and feed them-- never do I fail to feed them. And yet, they always act so hungry.

I can't blame them, of course. They're animals. They're ruled by their instincts-- find food, eat food, always more food. Survive. Reproduce. Eat.

But it annoys me. Who would want to be on a level with that? Why willingly say that we came from animals? That our basic instincts are as greedy as theirs. In fact, it is true that we are that greedy and more. Our sinful nature makes us worse than these unreasoning and thoughtless animals. But we, gifted with reason-- do we want to stay there? Yes, I suppose we can't even truly want to rise above that selfish nature.

I'm not sure if I'm expressing myself very clearly here. I guess my little funny farm is just making me think a lot today. I'm thankful to know that I was created different from the animals. And I'm thankful to know that through my Salvation, I am able to have true GOOD, since without it, even what we may think of as Good is still... Bad.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Quiz Show Boy

I gave Jonah an impromptu quiz this morning. We've been reading, talking, and generally obsessing about the solar system lately, so I decided to see what facts he's got in his head. He mainly asks me the questions (all day, every day...) so I turned the tables on him.

Monday, April 26, 2010

No Time, Just a Salad

I do not believe that salad is the epitome of health food.

I do not believe that it is healthy to eat salad everyday.

I don't even think it's good to eat salad year round.

You should never start a meal with a salad, or you may never be satisfied and will end up eating too much anyway.

However, in the Spring, I crave salad with my supper. It makes sense, really-- greens are in season, and the bitter ones are good for helping with the natural "spring cleaning" that goes on in our bodies during the spring.

My salad greens in my garden are a little too small yet to pick a whole salad, so after I gathered a small handful of lettuce, spinach, and mache, I had to get creative for the rest. On looking around the yard, I came up with dandelion greens, wild mustard greens and buds (like wild broccoli), sweet violet leaves and flowers and some young lamb's quarter. I added to that a handful of chives, some red clover sprouts that I've been growing in a jar, some shreds of cheese, and a maple vinaigrette and whoa.... what a yummy salad.

I served it along-side the chicken with rice and mushroom/white wine/cream sauce that I made and... yum. Really yum. Too bad Nathan was working late and had to eat his cold...

I could leave it there, or I could tell the rest of the story--
how I got home late and hungry and needed to get supper together NOW,
how I left all the groceries all over the kitchen (where some of them still sit now),
how I forgot salt and butter in the rice,
how my new Houdini goat kept getting out and coming up on the kitchen porch to check on me while I was trying to get supper made,
how Jonah has a knack for spilling his drink just when I'm about to sit down and start eating,
how I splattered hot grease on my arm... I just reeeeally wished I could go get some Chinese takeout and call it good.

But I won't tell you about that. I'll just let you drool over the yummy supper that I eventually got made and I eventually got to eat. And I thoroughly enjoyed it, too.

(And someday, soon, I'll get around to posting more here... I've been running like a chicken with my head cut off lately, it seems, except for Sunday when I practically slept all afternoon, except for baking apple pie and watching Moon with Nathan. Another busy day tomorrow. Updates here eventually, I hope...)

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Bad Breakup with a Telemarketer

Nathan just had the misfortune of answering the phone when a credit card rep was calling. The person wanted to know why we don't use our card anymore. [Ed. note: no brainer.] After Nathan explained that we simply don't carry credit card debt and usually have no reason to use the card except for a big purchase which we will pay off immediately, the rep continued to make offers and attempt talk Nathan into using their card. As this was going on, I let in an Amish neighbor who was needing to use the phone, so he was waiting for his turn.

Nathan's end of the conversation went something like this: "No, I don't really need that service. ... No, thanks so much, but I'm just not interested. ... Listen, I really have to go. ... Okay, uh-huh... yeah... I understand, but really, I have to get off the phone. ... Yes... Right, well, thanks so much. ... Okay, I have another call coming in [and he did, from my brother] so I have to go... Okay, I'm going. Hanging up now... Good bye..." Click.

Raw Milk as Soil Enhancer

I just read this fascinating article over at the Green Pastures blog (that's the company that sells that wonderful high-vitamin cod liver oil that we use). It's all about how the owner of Green Pastures has been using raw milk sprayed on his fields to increase the grass production and quality. It just makes so much sense! I've heard of using milk to combat fungal diseases and sometimes even insect problems, but I always seem to forget about that when I'm in the throes of garden war-fare. Last summer, we were just overflowing with milk from our two goats, so I made a lot of cheese (and we're still eating that cheese...). If we have the same situation again this year, I'm thinking I may not have so much time to make cheese. Looks like I've found another excellent use for that extra milk! (And boy, does my soil ever need enhancing, let me tell you...).

Here's the article:
Applying Raw Milk to Soil

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Boys Need to Be Boys, I Guess

Nathan and I watched Man on Wire recently on Netflix. It was a very interesting and enjoyable movie. I thought it was relatively "clean", although I was disappointed near the end there was a, you know, scene. Oh well. Still very enjoyable.

However, it also kinda scared me. It was interesting when the movie portrayed this guy's childhood and his incessant need to climb things and do riskier and riskier stunts until he finally settled on tight-rope walking. Now I know that this is pretty much inherent in boys. They have to take risks. They have to be dangerous. I've accepted that.

But I have this almost 5-year old boy. Who, while ordinarily a fairly cautious child, has developed a need to climb. He climbs trees. He climbs fences. He would happily climb woodpiles if his Daddy didn't expressly and darkly forbid it.

A couple years ago, Nathan was working on the front porch roof. He turned around just as Jonah's little 2 1/2 year old head peaked up over the edge of the roof.

Ladders. Ladders are the most fun for climbing.

Jonah recently dragged a small ladder over to his playhouse and managed to get it up to the roof so that he can climb up there (maybe 6-8 feet high) and "fix" the roof. Forget playing IN the playhouse. It's way more fun to play ON it. So for the past couple of weeks he's been dragging pieces of wood and electrical conduit and who-knows-what-else up there and having a great old time. I figure this activity is fairly benign and as long as he knows how to climb safely, I can let him have at it.

Yesterday, however, he took it to another level. I noticed him doing "tricks" on his ladder. The one that particularly made my heart skip a beat was when he walked down on his hands. Head first. Aieee...

I've always thought my Dad --who's quite safety-oriented-- is very good at allowing risky behavior in kids as long as they are willing to learn how to do it safely. I need to tear a page out of his book for this kid, I'm thinkin'.

I just hope this kid doesn't go so far as to balance on suspended wires between buildings for his needed thrill...

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Nofoto and Triviata

Here I am, neglecting my blog again. Or, was, because now, I'm posting!

I had pictures I was going to post, but then my camera told me that the memory card is kaput. Dead. Muerte. Done. Pictures allgone.


Thus the dearth of pictures around here.

My brother warned me when he gave me the camera. He's had problems with that memory card... better replace it. Yeah, yeah. It was working fine, so I didn't bother. Because I'm cheap. And miserly. Thrifty. Etc.

In my research looking for a new one, I've also discovered that it's good to reformat the card from time to time. Hm... Good to know. Maybe that would have saved me the headache of lost pictures.

Anyway, I'm researching CF cards. I AM cheap, so I don't want to pay more than I have to for a new one, but I also don't want to get something that I will hate.

Hmmm... what else can I tell you about...

Oh, the van broke down on me in town yesterday. That van has bee getting worse and worse, so it's really amazing that we've gotten this much use out of it. Jonah really didn't want to go to town with me yesterday because he was so afraid that something would happen. We said a prayer before we left that God would take care of us, and He did, because when it wouldn't start, we had just finished picking up a co-op order and my friend hadn't left yet. So I called Nathan and he advised me to abandon ship. We just got in with our friends and went to their house to play for the day. Boy, that sure was an awful breakdown... (And I've been broken down a few times before...) Nathan finished his day of work and then went to get the van. Praise God that he didn't have to try to get it on a dolly or anything. He just had to bridge the connection between the thingamajig and the whatsit while turning the ignition just so and it started up so he could drive it home.

So the van is done as well. Nathan said he's not fixing it. He needs to find time to get a transmission into the other van and get it going. I'm told it's not an easy job... sigh. I just don't understand what the big deal is. It's just a part, right? Take the bad part out and put the good one in. Simple. (Dad, stop slapping your forehead that way. You'll leave a mark.)

I need to start thinking about a birthday party for Jonah in a couple weeks. Nothing fancy-- just invite all his little friends (and their families!) over and we'll eat spaghetti and cake and play and have fun. He wants a solar system on his cake, of course, so I'm trying to decide if I should find various round candies for planets, or go the cheap way and draw them on with frosting. "Candy is WAY cooler." my friend said and she's right. So I guess I need to go b-b-b-buy c-c-c-candy to decorate a cool space cake.

Jonah found three kittens under our porch the other day. We know the culprit well, she does it twice every year. Oh well. Kittens are fun. And at least it's only three and not... six.

Oh! Almost forgot-- The pictures I was going to post, before my camera ate them, were of my almost-finished kitchen corner. That naked little corner that has been waiting a year and a half now has cabinets (including a really-cool custom-made-for-me-by-my-sweet-husband lazy susan), countertop and an awesome pot rack (carried-home-on-a-plane-from-Switzerland-for-me-by-my-sweet-mother!). I love it. Sometimes I think it would be neat (and affluent) to move into a house that has every detail established (wait, are there houses like that?), but I have to say that the fun of updates is quite addictive.

A'right. I guess that is all the mundane bits I have for you today. Jonah is begging to do school, so I guess I should oblige. I've suggested playing hooky several times, but he won't hear of it.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Paparazzi: Exclusive Footage

Spring babies...

...are just... much fun!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Bustin' Out

I took a walk by myself this evening. At first, I went because I had to. Then I didn't want to come back.

This is the surely most glorious Michigan spring I've ever seen. I keep expecting disappointment, but it's never delivered. This early spring hasn't turned out to be a teaser-- it's for real. And for gorgeous.

I can't believe how green everything is and how all the trees are bursting into bloom and here it is, only April 11. I don't usually let myself get my hopes up too high until, oh, about May first.

I kicked myself for not taking my camera on my walk. Why I didn't pick it up on my way out the door, I can't understand. But I found that I just wanted to drink it in, this Spring everywhere, and I had no way to hold onto it. No camera, no sketchbook and box of paints (as if I even paint anymore... [deep sigh]).

I almost felt like I needed to use another sense in order to be satisfied. If only I could take a bite and taste it, dip my fingers into the glowing green-gold sunlight, sink my hands into a whole field of plush green grass so rich it could almost be deep-pile velvet. The blossoms and new leaves look so light and tenuously attached to the trees that I was just sure they could rain down on my face. The Red-winged Black Birds and pesky Grackles fussed in the trees all around me, making an enormous racket that I could feel in my teeth. The pungent, spicy, garlicky smell of wild mustards in the farm fields tickled in the back of my throat.

I think that was just what I needed. I've been a tight ball of nerves and emotions lately. I'm just not myself. I can't keep a thought in my head or focus in a straight line. I just want to cry about pretty much everything and nothing at all.

My body is taken over by this creative force that I have no control over-- a freight train in a quiet little whisper. I'm overjoyed and shaking in my boots. I tell myself what a wuss I am-- it's such an ordinary thing, this baby-growing. But it's extraordinary as well and I'm too sensitive to it. Everything we have is from God, so evident in Creation bursting all around me in springtime frenzy, and now here is a powerful little piece of creation happening right in me.

It's all truly astounding.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Spring Ponderings

The trout lilies are blooming in the yard.

It's spring for real.

Nathan spent the whole day yesterday fixing up the garden fence. This is an urgent necessity with the imminent growing season if we expect to get anything out of our garden for ourselves. It also has a double purpose in (theoretically) closing the chickens inside the garden for a few weeks before planting (though I've carefully protected the few early things I have planted) so that they can work in the old mulch and find lots of bad buggies to eat up. Rototilling eating machines, those chickens are.

So he moved them all to a new temporary shelter in the garden after dark last night.

They were all on the wrong side of the fence by noon today.

That is, all except one straggly little hen who is usually particularly beset by the rooster. It is my personal opinion that she is faking an inability to get out of the garden.

Notice the cute little ladybug crawling down the stem of that little flower. Oh, what a fortunate shot! you're thinking. (Also: too bad it's not in focus.) No, on the contrary. There are pretty much lady bugs (the evil, biting kind, imported from Asia in a University Experiment Gone Horrible Awry) crawling all over everything, all the time. Everyday I vacuum several legions of them from the living room window. As I sit here, I find myself flicking them off my clothes and out of my hair and even, egads!, off my face.

Jonah is absolutely loving the gorgeous spring-time weather. He loves to be outside. He is somewhat hampered by a paralyzing fear of our (not-too-terribly-mean-just-a-little-pushy) rooster. Fortunately for him, Daddy's usually outside working, so Jonah can stick close and practice manly pursuits (like dragging a ladder to the playhouse and climbing on the roof to "fix" it) AND gain a little rooster-protection.

I am having a baby in three months. Three. A long time, and a very short time, all at the same time.

I think that the feeling of commingled anticipation, intense joy and vague dread is heightened for me right now, even though there are still three months to go, because five years ago (five!) we were awaiting Jonah's birth. I think I will always associate springtime with a little bit of that feeling. At the time, I remember thinking that it was very appropriate for the time of year.

I'm starting to feel somewhat unwieldy at this point. I realize that that is only going to increase from now on, and I have an awful lot of garden to plant in the midst of this growing lumbering bulkiness.

However, I find it endlessly amusing to balance my empty tea mug on my belly and watch it get kicked off.

Growth on all fronts. I love spring.

Saturday, April 3, 2010


Jonah and I colored our Easter Eggs (Resurrection Eggs?) after supper tonight. He's been looking forward to it all week, of course. (That and jelly beans...)

Nathan had me do a couple dozen eggs with Scripture references and various symbols for an egg hunt with the kids after church tomorrow. He wants to have a discussion and make the egg hunt an opportunity for instruction as well as fun.

I have to say, though, that my favorite egg must be Jonah's "black for sin" egg that he made:

Oh, and speaking of colors, a little while ago, an Amish neighbor was here and we were talking about a very bright rainbow in our neighborhood a few hours before. (Rainbows are rare around here, but today we had sun and rain together for a rare treat of a rainbow!)

Jonah told him that "Sometime I'm gonna find a rainbow and go under the colors!"

The man replied, "Someone told me once that if you go under a rainbow you'll change into a girl."

Nathan and I cracked up while Jonah looked considerably embarrassed.

Why So Glum, Chum?

Friday, April 2, 2010

Life Abundant

For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life. And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement.
(Romans 5:6-11)

Blessed Good Friday to you.