Tuesday, December 31, 2013

New Year's Balancing Act

But if it seem evil to you to serve the Lord, you have your choice: choose this day that which pleaseth you, whom you would rather serve, whether the gods which your fathers served in Mesopotamia, or the gods of the Amorrhites, in whose land you dwell: but as for me and my house we will serve the Lord. –Joshua 24:15

Seek ye therefore first the kingdom of God, and his justice, and all these things shall be added unto you. –Matthew 6:33

And I say to you, Ask, and it shall be given you: seek, and you shall find: knock, and it shall be opened to you. –Luke 11:9

Always rejoice. Pray without ceasing. In all things give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you all. Extinguish not the spirit. Despise not prophecies. But prove all things; hold fast that which is good. -1 Thessalonians 5:17-21

Work, leisure, and rest. The rock in the middle is the Church.
I have made several New Year’s resolutions in my life, and have actually stuck to a few of them. Last year, I resolved to tackle my ginormous wish/to-do list and get things done. I got a LOT done, but it also wore me out.

This year, I want it to be different.

Monday, December 30, 2013

Year-End Animal Inventory

At year's end, we have:

  • 1 English Mastiff
  • 1 donkey
  • 1 corn snake
  • 1 outdoor cat
  • 15 or so African Ciclid fishies (they had babies!)
  • 3 Katahdin sheep (2 of whom may or may not be pregnant)
  • 16 chickens (1 rooster, Corn, plus 15 hens)

New Year's Homestead Update

What a crazy year it has been.

This weekend, I took inventory of where things are. First things first, a chicken update. We are now getting 8+ eggs a day consistently. I got 19 in just the last two days. Here was yesterday's next boxes:

Count'em - that there's 10 eggs!
Aside from the few random eggs on the coop floor, the girls have managed to lay in the boxes very consistently. It's SO nice to literally see our reliance on a factory-produced grocery store item disappear. At a current WINTER pace of 50 eggs a week for an 8-month-old flock, we're doing amazingly well.

The repaired coop is also holding up quite well.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Merry Holiday!

We had a very merry and happy Holiday at the homestead this year. For Holiday Eve dinner, Wife made a very nice rib roast. We decorated our Holiday tree, wrapped Holiday gifts, took naps, decorated Holiday cookies, and went to a 12:00 AM private religious ceremony.

Annual Gift Person.
On Holiday morning, the kiddos woke up waaay too early. Annual Gift Person brought them some very cool toys, set out and waiting, of course, by the Holiday tree.

The kids very much enjoyed their Holiday gifts. Thing #1's favorite was a nice digital camera; Thing #2, Legos; and Thing #3, a  "ride bike."

After our Holiday gift giving and general non-judgmental merriment, Wife's dad came down from IN, and later that evening, my sister came by. Wife made a paleo brunch (with mimosas!) and a Holiday turkey dinner, and we enjoyed some fresh paleo Holiday egg nog. And wine. :)

All in all, we had a Holiday that really brought out the true meaning of the Holiday - being with family. Or wait...is it giving presents? Or maybe it was sharing a nice family meal with the people you love.

No, wait - I got it now. The true meaning of the Holiday is to celebrate with generosity the Black Friday deals that we gave generic "thanks" for on Turkey Day so our New Year can begin with the odds ever in our favor.

Sigh. This was so much easier to remember back when it was still Christmas....

The Long View

Seek ye therefore first the kingdom of God, and his justice, and all these things shall be added unto you.  -Matthew 6:33

That's when I want it!
I think it's a pretty commonly and widely accepted truth that our society is largely one that thrives on instant gratification. The art of waiting and anticipation seem to have slipped into some bygone era.

In our quest for up-to-the-second headlines, we turn to Twitter instead of waiting for the next day's paper, or heck, even the evening news. Want dinner? Just drive up and get it - no need to turn on the stove or prepare something. Just get it now. We want to do our shopping now, so we go online instead of waiting for a chance to go to the store. We even can have new toys sent to us via flying robotic drones within hours.

The list of ultra-conveniences can go on indefinitely, it seems.

And yet, we just got done celebrating a season totally dedicated to waiting in the Church. Advent celebrates the waiting, the preparation, the it-isn't-quite-here-yet. Advent celebrates seeking God.

But there is joy in waiting, in seeking God with anticipation.
God cannot be found amid the noise and distractions of modern Western culture.

God cannot be understood in 140-character snippets.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Backyard Eggs are Better

Two of these things are not like the others....
I made a 4-egg omelette for lunch today.I used two backyard eggs,and two "commercial" eggs. The backyard eggs are thicker, creamier, have much darker yolks, and have thicker shells.They just look and feel healthier. Because they are.

Even though we only got 5 eggs today, our egg production is still improving. We're saving some up for paleo eggnog this Christmas, and we still have commercial eggs left- hence my two-sided omelette.

We have another two dozen chickens arriving at the end of January. Hopefully, by this time next year, we have more eggs than we know what to do with. And with those super-healthy yolks, that's a good problem to have.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

7 of One, Half-Dozen of the Other

Our chickens' egg production is up 100% this week!

Six out of today's seven eggs. Woo hoo!
Yesterday, we got 6 eggs for the first time ever The previous daily total was 3, which had been pretty steady fora while. Then SIX.

Today, it was seven.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

2013, We Hardly Knew Ye

"...from such films as Andre the Giant,
We Hardly Knew Ye...."
Or, we knew Thee all too well for our own Stinking Goode.

Either way, it was a crazy-town, whirlwind year here at the homestead.

This time last year, I knew there was so,so much to get done, so I dubbed 2013 "The Year of Getting Things Done."

Boy howdy, was it ever.

I have a yet-unfinished list, sure, but I did complete some very major accomplishments this year. We will continue our self-sufficient journey in 2014 with some exciting new additions and expansions.

For now, though, let's look back at 2013: The Year of Getting Things Done.

Questions for Protestants

Being a practicing Roman Rite Catholic, I am naturally at odds with quite a bit going on in the world (see the Gospel of John, Chapter 15). This is unfortunately not limited to a lot that takes place in Christendom. The startling lack of unity among Christians, particularly in the United States, is a sad thing indeed – so much so that Christ Himself, upon the eve of His Passion, prayed to avoid the dissension (see John 17).

Yet, we endure it.

How come her Bible says something
different than his Bible? 
It makes me wonder where and how these differences arise. For example, take the Eucharist. As a Catholic, I look at John 6, Matthew 26, 1 Corinthians 10, and a whole host of other verses and it is plain as day – at communion, the bread and wine becomes the flesh and blood of Christ.
How Protestants (or “non-Catholics”) miss this and call it “symbolic” I will never understand. After all, they are Sola Scriptura, right? And there it is – right in the Bible.

So, Protestants, how do you read John 6, Matthew 26, 1 Corinthians 10 & 11?

This is just one of many questions I have for Protestants. More after the jump.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Overwinter Sheep Feeding

Feeding the sheep over the winter was something that I knew I needed to plan for and do from the beginning. So, I spent extra time this year gathering and cutting a bunch of hay.

The feeder I made in the sheep's dry lot is perfect.It holds just about a day's worth of hay for them...right now. They waste very, very little of it - the bottom and the ground collect mostly the thick stems left over that provide no nutrition anyway. I'd say actual edible HAY waste using this method is below 5% at the moment. Not too shabby. I may need to expand as they mature, but we'll cross that bridge later.

Nom nom nom....fresh hay,alright!
My biggest concern right now? Having enough hay to last the winter. :\

Saturday, November 30, 2013

My DIY Sheep Dry Lot

The grass stops growing right about Thanksgiving in middle TN. I needed an overwinter sheep solution. Plus, I weren't gunna let that there hay I cut go to waste.

Enter the sheep shack:
The sheep shack houses the sheep over the
winter months (December through February).
I built it with chain link fence pieces that were here when we moved in! I started theproject on Friday,thinking I'd be doing bits and pieces until next weekend. Luckily, some diligent work let me finish it late this afternoon.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving!

A day late, technically, but giving thanks to God never gets old.

I treated the animals to some Thanksgiving treats in the morning (pics after the jump). But the star of the show was the Paleo Thanksgiving Feast that Wife put together.
Clockwise from the smoked turkey leg: paleo orange cranberries, brussel sprouts cooked in bacon,
mashed cauliflower, paleo pork and apple stuffing, sweet potatoes topped with pecans,
 and sauteed green beans.
Breakfast was just as paleo and yummy.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Late November Homestead Update

Whelp.Winter is here.

The leaves are gone. The grass is brown. The chicken waterer is freezing overnight. The heaters are out in the house.

Thing #3 helping me winterize.
I have a lot to do to get ready for winter. It's here too fast this year.

New Soap!

We invested in some high quality oils, like babassu and walnut, for the dry season. I have a terrible dry skin issue. So, we took the initiative to make some good cleansing soaps using the oils that are great on dry skin.
Wife VERY SAFELY following the recipe and measuring lye
to work on the babassu and other oils.

Chicken Coop Modifications

Last week, I had to do a little work to the movable chicken coop. It ultimately had two major design flaws: The folding, latching door was not secure enough, and the nest boxes had no backing.

Problem #1 was made evident as the sheep matured (and got heavier...and continued to try to walk on the chicken coop door....and eventually broke the wood). I ended up cutting some thicker wood, and got some 3.5 inch screws to attached the wood, through the hinge hole, and out the back of the metal panel of the door.
The thicker plank supporting the door make the overall structure more sturdy.
The second modification was necessary after I lost an egg.  :(

Friday, November 15, 2013

Replacement Trees

Nine of our 26 trees did NOT survive.

We lost an apple, two peaches, two paw-paws, two almonds, and two pecans.
Despite needing nine new trees, I could only find 8 rootstocks. One paw-paw is MIA. But, the great people at Willis Orchard Co. are sending me new ones for the dead trees I still have (shown above). It's a great place to shop for mail-order trees. We'll be expanding the orchard soon. Probably in December-ish. Stay tuned.

Go Colts!

Wife and I took FIL and BIL#1 to the Colts/Titans game last night.
Great view.
The game was a great big "THANK YOU"  to them for helping with the metal roof install last winter. It was especially sweet seeing our Colts win! It was a 30-27 final score.

More pics after the jump. (FWIW, my iPhone was taking blurry pics all night. Not my fault.)

Thursday, November 14, 2013

We Have Eggs!

Our chickens aren't defective!!
I awoke Wednesday morning to feed the chickens and was FINALLY rewarded.
Our flock of sixteen 29-week-old chickens has, as of this writing,produced exactly two eggs. The one pictured above is egg el numero uno. That was yesterday. I got another today. (Yes, I am slow to post. Lots going on round these here parts this month.) Our flock, BTW, is down to Corn (our mystery breed rooster), one Rhode Island Red hen, 5 Red Stars (4 hen, 1 roo), and 9 black ones- a blend of Autralorps and Jersey Giants that are still indistinguishable from one another. Wife and I ordered a bunch more- expect a new chicks post at the end of January. ;)

The bright side of it was that whomever laid the eggs knew to lay in the nest boxes.Having heard the horror stories of eggs being hidden 'round the yard, I was pleasantly surprise(quite surprised, actually) to find it in the box. I had been keeping a small plastic baseball-ish thing in the nest boxes,moving it around every few days, hoping they would get the hint.They did. Now, I can stop scouring the coop yard every other day looking for hidden eggs. Hooray!

In other news, things are finally slowing down after my new job. I am transitioning out of my second night gig now, so as of Thanksgiving will be free and clear of additional outside responsibilities, and can focus more fully on my one the family, the one job, and the homestead (and yes, this blog too, my dear impatient readers). Alleluia!

Monday, October 21, 2013

October Homestead Update

Wow. Crazy month. I started a new job on the 7th, which has taken up significant time for me. It's been great - a continuation of what I had been doing (read: same i dustry, similar work) but is a full time remote gig. So I get to work from home very day.

I used the opportunity of a "fresh start," so to speak, to restructure my routine. Similar to my scythe- in-morning experiment, I am getting out early and doing my farm chores first thing. Unlike that experiment, i'm not getting up at 5:30. I'm actually sleeping now! I'm also incorporating my routine of morning prayers via headphones and a recorded rosary mp3. It's been great.

I now need to use this extra time to prepare for winter. Get more hay cut, build the overwinter sry lot for the sheep, and finish up the final garden prep. I also have to cut some bonfire wood for our annual Thanksgiving fire-n-wine celebration.

The downside to the homestead is tht we STILL have NO eggs from those %#€¥£#% chickens.

So once the routine stabilizes a wee bit, I fully intend to post more often, and to try to make them, ya know, halfway good. :/

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Like Wounded, Cornered Dogs

But she said: Yea, Lord; for the whelps also eat of the crumbs that fall
from the table of their masters. -Matthew 15:27
A lonely dog walks through the night.

Setting out from the safety and the solace of the pack, the dog is in search of something different. More individual freedoms? A break from traditional authority? Another pack member hurt her, deeply, long ago? A disagreement over pack law? Perhaps the dog just doesn't think the pack can help her anymore. It matters not - this dog is her own master now.

She heard the howls of merriment in the distance. Other dogs, liberated dogs, chasing their tails in delight, cast long shadows of revelry across the fires lighting the pack's council. How could she not be entranced by them? The pack leaders scoffed in dismay, cleaving instead to their customs.

She had enough of them. Here was her chance. Her chance. To be what she wanted to be. To throw off the  proverbial shackles of the pack. She was her own master now.

Having set off, and now winding through the woods, through the dark, the light of the pack grew dimmer and dimmer, until it faded into the distance. Memories of the pack's ways flitted through her mind, but she dismissed them - that was her old life, and now she is free.

She started to run. To join the other dogs in their merry-making. But where were they? Where were the bonfires, the feasting, the pleasures she imagined would go hand-in-hand with this new-found liberty? For all around her, it was dark. The fire had faded behind the trees, the wisps of the embers just visible in the distance above the ever-darkening treeline.

She heard whimpering not far off. Curious, she trotted through the thickets to see a voice she thought she recognized.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Me Eat Like Grok

Partially in response to the issue of what is and is not food, and partially as an investment in our own health, Wife and I and going back to the cave. Metaphorically, that is.

Eating food that is actually food - what a concept!
We are making the leap to the paleo lifestyle.

What I like about it is that it is food that is super yummy, nutritionally very rich, and can be produced entirely on our land.

So stay tuned as we explore some paleo recipes, get our home-grown food supply ramped up, and generally become healthier people.

THIS is What We Call "Food"?

I guess they meant the cashews?
I took this picture at my soon-to-be-former place of employment. It's in an office park, heavily landscaped, in a corporate area of a small suburb. It's a popular, growing region. They have a "marketplace" where you can buy "food" during the workday.

I'm struck at the dichotomy between the "wellness" and "healthy" buzzwords, right over some of the most unhealthy and unnatural concoctions in the history of humanity.

Homestead Update

Fall depresses me.
Here we are, entering October. It's fall. This fact is now unavoidable.

I cling to summer as long as possible. I love shorts and T-shirts. I break them out early in the spring, even if I shiver at first. I continue to wear them until I can't take it. At least there's a few more weeks of short sleeves left this year.

The garden is done for the year. I have a few lingering peppers, and maybe a handful of cherry tomatoes, still hanging on. The rest is done. I decapitated the poor, ghostly sunflowers yesterday. I picked all of the dried beans in the pod. I'll probably have the Things sort through them for some extra ca$h.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Short Reflection on Nature

Our Creator is just mind-blowing.

I saw a lot of spiderwebs glimmering in the fog this morning. I love spiderwebs (well, looking at them a lot more than walking into them). They are one of the most common, yet amazing, things in nature. The strength, the beauty, the simplicity of a good spiderweb combines for a breathtaking sight.
Trouble with spiderwebs is getting good pictures of them.
And, ya know, getting one caught on your face.
They're tough to get a good picture of. The iPhone camera just misses something about them. I don't know what. But I do think they're cool.

Also, seeing a camouflaged frog in the garden was pretty neat. Or was it a toad?
Can you spot the amphibian? I named him Waldo. :P
Being in the beauty and stillness of nature always is a good time to pause and reflect. God speaks in whispers, and far too often our TVs, phones, cars, and general modern noise drown Him out. I always try to stop and listen whenever possible. These two moments were good times for that.

For the invisible things of him, from the creation of the world, are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made; his eternal power also, and divinity. -Romans 1:20

Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel, who alone doth wonderful things. And blessed be the name of his majesty for ever: and the whole earth shall be filled with his majesty. -Psalm 72:18-19

Hay Field Cutting

I did this a few weeks ago, and I'm late putting up pictures. I was also late getting the scythe out to cut hay. Hope it doesn't mean problems come January.....
Before I started, the foliage was about chest-high.
I needed to do this when it was knee-high. Lesson learned....
After some tough afternoons, one in which I injured my elbow nerves somehow, I ended up with a nearly-full hay rack. I did NOT finish out the field due to elbow pain. But the resulting windrows looked great.
Center: a good quality windrow.
Left: The uncut section.
Right: an uncut section that over-ran some felled branches from the orchard project.
Things #1 and #2 were HUGE helps getting it picked up and stored in the shed. They're good little farm kids, for sure.

I will need to do another cutting before winter, but my elbow has to heal up first. I'm getting pain in it at random times throughout the days, although it is lessening.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Post #100!

It's all about the Benjamins.....
Wow. 100 Posts. That's pretty cool.

I'll try to make the next 100 more interesting. :P

The Rosary in the Bible: Wrapping it Up

New to this series? Start at Part 1 here. Or, jump straight to the JoyfulSorrowful, Luminous, or Glorious Mysteries.

The Rosary and the Bible: like peas and carrots. Or bread and butter. Or love and marriage....
So far in our series, we've looked at the 20 mysteries of the rosary, each taken as a part of a set of mysteries, and studied where these events appear, or are alluded to, in the Scriptures. We also discussed what a mystery is, and even went so far as to pick out the Scriptural roots of the words of each individual prayer said during the recitation of the Rosary.

In short, I have attempted to prove that the Rosary is indeed a valid devotion via Sola Scriptura. I believe I have thus far succeeded.

Now, my brain hurts.

J/K. I did want to leave a few final thoughts on the topic, though.

Monday, September 23, 2013

The Rosary in the Bible: Part 5

New to this series? Start at Part 1 here. Or, jump straight to the Joyful, Sorrowful, or Glorious Mysteries.

The final set of "mysteries" for us to explore is the Luminous Mysteries. The luminous mysteries focus on the light of Christ in the world, as a combat to the darkness of sin.

All light is from Jesus.
And God said: Be light made. And light was made. -Genesis 1:3
All things were made by him: and without him was
made nothing that was made. -John 1:3
The people that walked in darkness, have seen a great light: to them that dwelt in the region of the shadow of death, light is risen. -Isaiah 9:2

Jesus therefore said to them: Yet a little while, the light is among you. Walk whilst you have the light, that the darkness overtake you not. And he that walketh in darkness, knoweth not whither he goeth. Whilst you have the light, believe in the light, that you may be the children of light. -John 12:35-36

And this is the declaration which we have heard from him, and declare unto you: That God is light, and in him there is no darkness. If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he also is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin. -1 John 1:5-7

For we preach not ourselves, but Jesus Christ our Lord; and ourselves your servants through Jesus. For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God, in the face of Christ Jesus. -2 Corinthians 4:5-6

These five Luminous Mysteries concern ourselves with the light, both literally and figuratively, of Jesus through the Gospels.

Saturday, September 21, 2013


Last night, I went to lock up the chickens in their coop so I could move the electric netting this morning. I turned the charger off, naturally, before climbing over, filling up their feeder, and latching them in.

Upon re-engaging the switch, I heard a loud and distinct electric POP! coming from one end of the paddock. It being dark, I figured that a big blade of grass or something had blown across the hot and ground, and went inside.

Still, I thought it odd that I heard it leaving, but did not hear it coming.

Odd indeed, for this morning I came across this:

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

How Great is the Darkness

Why are creepy eyes so ... creepy?
But if thy eye be evil thy whole body shall be darksome. If then the light that is in thee, be darkness: the darkness itself how great shall it be! -Matthew 6:23

Again therefore, Jesus spoke to them, saying: I am the light of the world: he that followeth me, walketh not in darkness, but shall have the light of life. -John 8:12

What is evil?

A bold question for a silly blog, to be sure. But one that nonetheless needs to be asked. And I think Jesus' words on light and darkness give us deep clues into the mysteries of evil.

Darkness, after all, is not a thing in itself. There's no such thing as darkness, per se. There IS such a thing as light. We can detect photons, we can measure luminosity, we describe the intensity of light in terms of wavelength, spectra, and lumens. But darkness has none of these quantifiers.

What then is darkness? And how does this question relate to evil?

Monday, September 16, 2013

Lessons Learned in Homesteading: I

Got plenty of the first two.....
I wanted to make sure to document our lessons learned as they're happening rather than trying to remember everything next spring. So, in no particular order:

Tomatoes, okra, and peppers are best left to closely-spaced rows 
Pick veggies while they're young and tender (great big okra just doesn't taste as good)
Get cages for tomatoes set out before they grow too big 
When building a chicken coop, make sure the sheep can't get in BEFORE you fill the chicken feeder
Stay on top of weeding early!
Cut hay early, before it grows shoulder-high

That's it for now. There are more, and I'll get them down as they come to mind.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

The Rosary in the Bible: Part 4

Last time, we took a tour from Genesis through Revelation in our examination of the Sorrowful Mysteries. Today, we look at the next set - the Glorious Mysteries.

And I John saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And the city hath no need of the sun, nor of the moon, to shine in it. For the glory of God hath enlightened it, and the Lamb is the lamp thereof. And the nations shall walk in the light of it: and the kings of the earth shall bring their glory and honour into it. And the gates thereof shall not be shut by day: for there shall be no night there. And they shall bring the glory and honour of the nations into it. There shall not enter into it any thing defiled, or that worketh abomination or maketh a lie, but they that are written in the book of life of the Lamb. -Revelation 21:2,23-27

The Glory of God - what it's all about.

Prize-Winning Okra?

I pulled this monster out of the garden yesterday:
That's a big ol' dang okra, y'all.
It was at least 8 inches long. It looked amazing.

Trouble was, it was very tough. We sauteed a bunch, including this guy, up for dinner, and the smaller okras definitely tastes better. The big ones have a hard texture to them. They are difficult to chew. Things #1 and #3 ate them up and loved the taste, though, so okra is definitely something we'll do again. We just need to be more diligent and not let 4 days go by between pickings.  :/

Monday, September 9, 2013

Adventures in Soapmaking

Wife and I have been really wanting to make some soap the last little while. So we finally broke down and did it. A little trip up to IN to see first-hand how our friends make it sure helped.
Our experience was a little less breaking into dumpsters,
a little more blood remaining in our faces.
Here's a sneak peak of the beautiful end product:
Ooh la la!!
Step 1: Throw a bunch of ingredients in a pot and hope it works. Make a plan.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Garden-Grown Homemade Tomato Sauce

We cannot even begin to eat all of the tomatoes we've harvested this year. What a blessing that is, especially compared to last year, where we got maybe 2 a day, 5 on a really good day. This year, I'm routinely pulling 25-30 tomatoes every two days. All that donkey poo and chipped wood is really paying off.

So anywhoozles, today at lunch time I took about 30 minutes to make some DIY sauce. Deemed "rustic" by the recipe creator, this sauce comes out bright red, sweet, and VERY tasty. I got the "recipe," so to speak, from this page. I thought I'd re-post with pictures, and few details on my own modifications.

To make it MY way, I took a few big bowls of tomatoes, a 5-gallon stock pot, a NutriBullet, a plate with rounded-up edges (so them juices dern't spill), and a knife. Oh, and a bowl for putting the tops in. And a strainer for warshing. Gah! And some towels to dry stuff with. I think that's it. Oh yeah, and a stovetop.

Git all yer stuffs t'gither first, y'all.
Step 1: Cut the tomatoes and liquefy 'em.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Solving the Hay Spillage Issue

So at lunchtime today, I went to load up the hay that had been drying in the pallet hay rack. I find that when it's 90% dry, transferring it onto the rack for finishing works great. The air is dry in there, and the sun doesn't bleach it out too much. It's very very dry, but still has a slight greenish tint to it - not the sunburnt yellow.

But trying to cram all that hay as tight as can be into a 5-sided cube was a lesson in insanity. It just kept falling out.

Luckily, I have some spare lumber to lay across the opening:

This 2x6 holds the hayback.
With the crossbeam in place, I was able to stuff even more hay into the compartments.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Cantaloupe Thief CAUGHT!!

I GOT HIM (or her)!
Caught you red-handed! or clawed.....
It happened quite by accident. I noticed a gaggle (or herd? flock? murder? who knows....) of turkeys passing awfully close to the garden, so I ran out to chase them. I swung by the garden on the way back inside, mostly to see if another honeydew was ready. Them BOOM! there it was.

This little thieving turtle....

Our Changing Landscape

Yesterday, I was up on the roof cleaning out the last remnants of nails and asphalt droppings from the roof reconstruction. YAY! One more thing to cross off the list.

While up there, I moseyed over toward the garden area and snapped this:

The garden is full of weeds and the orchard needs to be scythed. But, it's progress.
It reminded me of how far we've come in just a few short months. Contrast that with the bird's-eye view from June, and it looks like a totally different place. Kind of.

It's just neat to step back and compare all of the work we've done to see how we've moved forward, and also to see what we've learned. I am planning a "lesson learned in gardening" post to be released soon enough, as a reminder before we dive into next year's madness...I mean, insanity. :P

Monday, August 26, 2013

Garden's First Cantaloupe

Our cantaloupes are doing OK. The bed is covered in weeds, and the squash bugs are ever looming, unfortunately. We had a few fruits that got pretty big, then somehow imploded. I wonder if a small animal came by and thought the garden was a buffet. That, or else they got overwatered and cracked. Either way, I pulled a melon rescue mission and grabbed the ones that looked like they might be done. The broken ones (3 total) I tossed in to the chickens. They went CRAZY for them.

I've been letting the rescue fruit mature in the fridge. I cracked one open for a snack today. It was only about the size of a softball, maybe smaller.

Juicy cantaloupe, nom nom nom......
But wow. Great flavor, if a bit mild. It wasn't a strong cantaloupe flavor, but very full and sweet. I'd call it a light flavor. And it was really, really juicy. I have three more in the fridge, plus a honeydew. I wonder if the honeydew is a bit more developed. I'll find out soon enough.

The Rosary in the Bible: Part 3

Last time, we looked at the Joyful Mysteries of the rosary, and how they are firmly rooted in Scripture, Luke's gospel in particular. Today, we dive into the next set: the Sorrowful Mysteries.

"But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews indeed a stumbling block, and unto the Gentiles foolishness." -1 Corinthians 1:23

Christ's sacrifice on the cross is absolutely essential to the Christian faith.
The Sorrowful Mysteries concern themselves with the Passion of our Lord. And, again,they are deeply entrenched in the Bible.

My DIY Pallet Hay Rack

I love solving multiple problems with one solution.

I cleaned out the shed this Saturday, mostly to move the chick-u-bator to the back, stood up vertically, so I could get in and out without fearing for my shins every time. I had to clear out a stack of pallets to make room. I also needed a place to store more hay. So, I used the stack of pallets to build more hay storage. I used enough pallets to clear the stack out completely and make more room in the shed.

Ta da!! The DIY pallet hay rack:
My inventions ain't gonna be on any magazine covers, but they get the job done.
I like this design for several reasons:

  • It's sturdy. I used 2x4's laid across the tops of the vertical pallets to support the next levels. The horizontal pallets compress the vertical ones so they stand up straight on their own. I used some extra shims to brace it against the supporting beams of the shed.
  • Nothing is nailed or screwed, so it disassembles quickly.
  • To the right is a large flat surface for spreading out hay for additional drying and settling before storing in one of the compartments.
  • The spaces between the pallets allow air to get in between and keep it from getting moldy.
  • Behind each compartment is a fence panel, allowing for space and breathability behind the hay.
  • Even on the bottom, the pallets allow the hay to be lifted off the ground.
  • It uses the vertical space in the shed very well.
One downside is keeping the hay from rolling out of the front of the compartments. Still working on that one.....

I have no idea how many pounds of hay this will produce, and I really don't care to measure. If it feeds the friends all winter long, then it's a success in my book.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

The Rosary in the Bible: Part 2

Not THAT kind of mystery.
Last time, we looked at the six main prayers of the rosary, and where we found them in the Bible. Some were word-for-word recitations of Scripture (like the Our Father), and some were key ideas and themes developed from Scripture (like the Hail, Holy Queen). In every case, each line of text in each prayers has deep Biblical roots.

Today, we begin looking at the mysteries of the rosary.

To start off, we need to know what we mean by "mystery." We don't mean some kind of puzzle that we need to piece together to solve. We don't mean something with a clear answer that we simply need to ponder over and over again until we "get it."

A mystery in the sense of the rosary is a truth deeper than we can fully comprehend.

It's a long climb, but we can do it, one
rosary at a time.
As we pray and meditate on the life of Christ, we can plumb these mysteries of who Jesus is, how He came to be, why He came down for us, the meaning of His sufferings, etc. But we will never have a full and complete "answer" to these questions. We don't pray to try to "solve" the mystery. We pray for deeper levels of wisdom and understanding.

"For my thoughts are not your thoughts: nor your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are exalted above the earth, so are my ways exalted above your ways, and my thoughts above your thoughts." -Isaiah 55:8-9

We pray the rosary to try to close this gap, to climb toward heaven - to raise ourselves up to godliness through deep contemplation of the life of the Word made flesh, Jesus Christ.

The first set of mysteries concern the joys of our Lord and those He loved.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Garden Update

I check on the garden during lunch today and picked a whole bunch o' stuff.
Lunch time pickings. Yum!
We got a red bell pepper that was fantastic, more okra (we'll need to fry it up here soon), a few small cucumbers (as the vine limps to its end), tomatoes out the yin yang, a few raspberries, and last but not least, some jalapeno pepper.

Not a bad haul for two days' worth!

The Rosary in the Bible: Part 1

Many people just don't "get" the rosary.

The most common thing I hear is that it's difficult to reconcile the Rosary with the Bible (especially 'round here in the South!).
But the Rosary is so unequivocally Biblical! It is not only, in large part, a recitation of Scripture, but it is also a meditation on the fulfillment of Scripture: Jesus Christ.
The rosary focuses on 20 "main events" in Christ's life, called "mysteries," with a meditative reciting of the Bible whilst contemplating the life of Christ.

The Rosary: Man-made craziness, or inspired Biblical meditation?
So let's break it down. I won't focus so much on the "how" of praying the rosary - that's been done. Today, we'll focus on the prayers themselves. Where is all this weird stuff Catholics are muttering found in the Bible?
As we'll see, much of the Rosary is literally word-for-word from the Gospels themselves.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Tomato Season

The tomatoes are finally turning red.
Our weekend pickings: tomatoes, more cukes, and a lonely pepper.
As the cucumbers wind down,the tomatoes gear up. Funny how as I start to get a little bit tired of all the cool, crisp cucumbery goodness, the juicy tartness of the tomatoes bursts into the scene.

Mushrooms on the Mind

This wet season has caused lots of varied and cool-looking mushrooms to pop up all over the place.
A pod (is that the right word?) of mushrooms near the driveway.
It got me thinking about mushroom foraging, and what is edible vs. not.

Right now, I have no idea.

Hay There!

I love making DIY hay.
The hay I cut in the morning last week, raked and ready for storage.

My morning scything routine is fast developing into something I didn't expect. I figured I'd catch up on the overgrowth, but now I'm starting to think this could be a "thing."
I'm going to try combining that with my morning prayer.
It's kind of a "two birds with one stone" thing, but in working the land while I pray, it's a way to be more thankful in practice. It's also a way to acknowledge, in a very tangible way, that the gifts we have all come from God.
Plus, I get hay.
It's way easier to collect hay in the converted trash can with wheels and a lid
than it is to try to balance it all, and more more trips, with the much smaller wheelbarrow.
The problem is that holding a scythe requires two hands (despite my little tongue-in-cheek bio over there ->), so praying the rosary while scything causes my to quickly lose count.
So today, I'm going to try to find some audio prayers, put them on my iPhone, and use headphones tomorrow morning.