Sunday, December 9, 2007

Life is full of surprises,or getting what you don't deserve

We bought a jersey-gursey dairy cow last March. I had visions of cream and butter, cheese and lots more milk to supplement our yummy goat milk. Well, I went off, kids in tow, to look at a cow advertised in the classified ads. Once the man arrived to the farm to show us the mama and her little heifer, it was almost dark. We rode out on the tractor and sort of glanced at the cow, and I did what every good article tells you not to do. I said I would take her, and would he bring her to the farm for me. Well. once she arrived to the farm, I noticed how skinny she was. How her legs were a little bowed. How she wouldn't let me near her. How much this guy charged me for the cow and calf and the transportation costs. Wow. Did I ever blow it. Someone in the area offered me half the purchase price to take her off my hands. Great. But at least she was a good mother and took great care of her baby, Priscilla, a fine looking baby.

Farm life is great for perfectionists like me, because there are so many opportunities to make mistakes and learn that I am not going to be completely crushed when I blow it, or make errors in judgement. So we never did figure out how to milk her that go around but figured we would have her bred and get future steak and hamburger out of the deal and another chance to learn how to get a cow into a milking stanchion and learn how to milk her.

After reading many cattle books and articles, I decided the perfect plan was to get our sweet Coco bred in July, because that would mean a baby in April, once things were starting to green up, freezing temps would be gone, and we would be ready to learn how to milk. I thought that was such a good plan. Until Philip had continued heart problems and surgery was scheduled for July. While we were at the hospital in Charlottesville, we got a phone call that our 10 yr old daughter went through a glass in our front door and had to be flown by helicopter to the hospital for life-threatening arm injuries. Consequently, plans for cattle-breeding were shelved. Garden came in, goats still had to be milked, fences fixed, drs visited, laundry washed, meals cooked, tomatoes canned, green beans canned, corn frozen, berries picked, lambs and pigs and chickens butchered, cheese made, bread baked, garden weeded, children loved on, school work started and no conjugal visits were arranged for Coco and the bull next door. Next thing you know, it was October and I finally called to get Coco over to the neighbors, haranguing myself for getting myself so off the PLAN. Now it would be August before baby came.

Through it all, the Lord kept trying to get through to me that learning is the real object here. Farming imperfectly is the only way to learn. Having a plan is good. Being ruled by it is not. Better late than never! I still had some niggly little regrets about not getting it all done, but was able to be grateful that God's grace allows me a learning curve. It just gets a bit old occasionally when the phone calls still come from the neighbors letting us know that the cows are on the wrong side of the property line because we did not get the electric fence set up right. Or the goats got in the garden again and ate up all the broccoli AGAIN.

Imagine my surprise when the phone rang this morning. The neighbor called and told us that Coco had a baby calf this morning! A huge, beautiful healthy baby bull calf. My mouth dropped wide open. I was flabbergasted. Maggie, Patrick and I hustled over in our boots on an unusually warm Sunday morning. There they were. Apparently she had been bred right before we bought her in March. It felt like a miracle. As we walked, lugged, drove them back to our property we praised God for being so kind to us. All my inabilities and imperfections and we still have a beautiful baby, healthy mama and a chance to try our hand at milking again! Of all the days he could have been born, it happened to be a Sunday that was warm, not 20 degrees. On a day the neighbors were looking out into their bottom pasture, instead of off to church early. Just the other day I was praying for God to surprise one of my friends with a gift that would show how much he loved her. I didn't expect him to surprise me! Grace: unmerited favor. Guess you will have to check back in to find out what kind of lessons we get to learn through attempting the milking. One thing done differently this year, I sent an offer to our farmers yahoo group to exchange hand on tutoring for some of our farm products. HELP! Will keep you posted. And may the grace of the LORD cover us all as we imperfectly live life.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Love in the time of deer hunting

You know, it makes me laugh quite a bit thinking about the way we men and women sometimes misunderstand the whole idea of his needs/her needs. It also made me think about the many times I do things expecting a reward from someone and then end up disappointed because I didn't get what I wanted. "Do everything as unto the Lord." I want to be careful and look to the Lord for my pats on the back. He is so faithful to see the heart efforts. I don't want to put so much pressure on others that it is impossible for them to ever measure up.

It also makes me laugh to think about how 5 kids, a few tragedies, marriage counseling and most of all God's grace have definitely made it easier for Philip and me to know what makes each other happy to be together at the end of the day. Sure am glad for God's grace that covers over all our crazy expectations.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Time to join the bandwagon!

Well, it seems like so many other cool people have blogs these days, maybe if I have one, I can be cool too!

The purpose of this blog is to share some of the real life happenings on the farm here outside of Catawba, Virginia. We started our journey over 2 years ago, moving from northern NJ to our 20 acres of paradise. The mission is to involve the children in raising as much of the food we consume as possible.

I grew up on a small farm in Oklahoma and then central TX. My parents were really into Foxfire, and back to nature, do it yourself life. That's why I think we should call the farm, Full Circle Farm. So here we are. My husband never lived on a farm, but when he was in highschool in Madison, NJ, he told his friend he wished he could someday move south and have a farm. So 30 years later....

We love our farm. Each of the 5 kids has some industry they are working towards. Thomas, the 14 yr old, is the honey bee man, and also the pig feeder and cow and calf man. We have 3 steers we hope to butcher next winter. We just slaughtered 2 of the hogs here with help of Grandpa over Thanksgiving. Patrick, the 11 yr old, is the chicken man. He currently has around 40 layers, and will increase his 2 flocks because we have more egg customers than eggs right now. We have raised organic free range meat birds four times over the last year, and learned how to do the processing ourselves. Dear husband Philip built us a Whizbang chicken plucker this summer. YAHOO! Maggie, our 10 yr old is the goat girl. She has a flock of dairy goats, Portia, a mini-nubian, her doeling, Clover, Quizzie, a nubian, Nita, a nubian-saanen, and Mama Chevre, a rescued alpine goat. Maggie and I love to milk, and are very thankful that Patrick has learned to milk also, so we can be away for a day, if need be. We use the organic, raw, unhomogenized milk for drinking, baking, yogurt and cheese. We sell the babies. Rose, our 7 yr old, has a little, almost 1 yr old jersey heifer (Priscilla) she plans on making into her milking cow when the two of them are older. Nora, the 4 yr old is still determining what area most intrigues her. She loves to help in the garden and in the kitchen and wherever else we happen to be.

The last 2 years have been full of learning experiences. Every day has some sort of spiritual life application opportunity. I hope to be able to share some of those lessons on this blog. There are a lot of funny things that happen in our life. Some not so funny. Some downright painful. And while the pastoral life is quite picturesque sometimes, there are moments that make you wonder why on earth did we decide to move out here? The promised land. The land of milk and honey. We are glad to be here.