Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Why I am leaving Facebook

Simple answer: this country girl can't take the barrage of status updates and random info about 364 casual friends or aquaintances... I want, no, need to speak face-to-face with a few real friends, or I'll go nuts.

Long answer: I'm ashamed of the foolishness that goes on. I find myself answering in kind whenever I browse the home pages of people I know. People with quick minds come out in full force to display their wittiness, and I can't compete. You know the Bible verse that says,

"He that walks with wise men will be wise,
But the companion of fools will be destroyed." Proverbs 13:20

That is sort of how I view it. There are many wise people who use facebook, but I value their friendship too much to converse with them only on that social network. As for all the normally thoughtful people who get drawn into the foolishness, I say be strong and true to yourself and God, and flee. You may be one of the privileged few who can use facebook well and wisely - if so, praise God! I don't look down on anyone who does, I just use these generalizations to try to wrap my mind around why I have these nagging doubts and convictions that cause me to want to leave the social networking system.

I once heard someone state the opinion that single girls should at least display the fact that, 'here, I'm available!' on internet social networks, and not play 'hard to get'. Hm. If that is what is required in this day and age to get married, we are in a sad state, my friends. Never limit God's power. Just be yourself, and realize that your weaknesses give you the ability to display His power if you let Him work.

The second reason I am leaving is to free up time to focus on my herbal studies, teaching and home dairy business. Even if I only spent an hour a week on facebook, that translates to over two full days of each year that God needs me to focus on other things.

I hope to continue to blog, but even this is a constant struggle against posting foolishness when I should be doing other things. Not to over-spiritualize blogging, but don't you appreciate posts that somehow instruct or build up others, instead of tearing them down or building up my own ego?

I love work. The feeling of doing what God is asking of you at this time in your life is beyond description. Here's a cool verse I found this morning:

"Do you see a man who excels in his work?
He will stand before kings;
He will not stand before unknown men." Proverbs 22:29

God bless you guys...

Monday, August 23, 2010


"You can learn everything there is to know about them in a day, and after a hundred years, they can still surprise you."

I enjoy identifying trees, and prefer forests over the ocean beaches. Just another strange bit about my life.

Hope you enjoyed the photos!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Henna + Hair = Hilarious

What would we do without great friends and a good enough sense of humor to laugh at ourselves ;)

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The Heart of Farming

I thought you farmers and farmers-at-heart might appreciate this:

"When you see that you're making the other things feel good, it gives you a good feeling, too. The feeling inside sort of just happens, and you can't say this did it or that did it. It's the many little things. It doesn't seem that taking sweat-soaked harnesses off tired, hot horses would be something that would make you notice. Opening a barn door for the sheep standing out in a cold rain, or throwing a few grains of corn to the chickens are small things, but these little things begin to add up in you, and you can begin to understand that you're important. You may not be real important like people who do great things that you read about in the newspaper, but you begin to feel that you're important to all the life around you. Nobody else knows or cares too much about what you do, but if you get a good feeling inside about what you do, then it doesn't matter if nobody else knows. I do think about myself a lot when I'm alone way back on the place bringing in the cows or sitting on a mowing machine all day. But when I start thinking about how our animals and crops and fields and woods and gardens sort of all fit together, then I get that good feeling inside and don't worry much about what will happen to me." ~ from 'Feed My Sheep' by Terry Cummins ~ an excerpt from the essay 'Renewing Husbandry' by Wendell Berry

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Why have a family farm?

I love this essay, "A Defense of the Family Farm" by Wendell Berry. Here is an excerpt, and though I should probably have shortened it more, it is too powerful to skim over. I highly recommend that you find and read the rest.

"The idea of the family farm... is conformable in every way to the idea of good farming-that is, farming that does not destroy either farmland or farm people. The two ideas may, in fact, be inseparable. If family farming and good farming are as nearly synonymous as I suspect they are, that is because of a law that is well understood, still, by most farmers but that has been ignored in the colleges, offices, and corporations of agriculture for thirty-five or forty years. The law reads something like this: Land that is in human use must be lovingly used; it required intimate knowledge, attention, and care.

The practical meaning of this law (to borrow an insight from Wes Jackson) is that there is a ratio between eyes and acres, between farm size and farm hands, that is correct. We know that this law is unrelenting-that, for example, one of the meanings of our current high rates of soil erosion is that we do not have enough farmers; we have enough farmers to use the land but not enough to use it and protect it at the same time.

In this law, which is not subject to human repeal, is the justification of the small, family-owned, family-worked farm, for this law gives a preeminent and irrevocable value to familiarity, the family life that alone can properly connect a people to a land. This connection, admittedly, is easy to sentimentalize, and we must be careful not to do so. We all know that small family farms can be abused because we know that sometimes they have been; nevertheless, it is true that familiarity tends to mitigate and to correct abuse. A family that has farmed land through two or three generations will possess not just the land but a remembered history of its own mistakes and of the remedies of those mistakes. It will know not just what it can do, what is technologically possible, but also what it must do and what it must not do; the family will have understood the ways in which it and the farm empower and limit one another. This is the value of longevity in landholding: In the long term, knowledge and affection accumulate, and, in the long term, knowledge and affection pay. They do not just pay the family in goods and money; they also pay the family and the whole country in health and satisfaction.

But the justifications of the family farm are not merely agricultural; they are political and cultural as well. The question of the survival of the family farm and the farm family is one version of the question of who will own the country, which is, ultimately, the question of who will own the people. Shall the usable property of our country be democratically divided, or not? Shall the power of property be a democratic power, or not? If many people do not own the usable property, then they must submit to the few who do own it. They cannot eat or be sheltered or clothed except in submission. They will find themselves entirely dependent on money; they will find costs always higher, and money always harder to get. To renounce the principle of democratic property, which is the only basis of democratic liberty, in exchange for specious notions of efficiency or the economics of the so-called free market is a tragic folly.

There is one more justification, among many, that I want to talk about-namely, that the small farm of a good farmer, like the small shop of a good craftsman or craftswoman, gives work a quality and a dignity that it is dangerous, both to the worker and the nation, for human work to go without...

With industrialization has come a general depreciation of work. As the price of work has gone up, the value of it has gone down, until it is now so depressed that people simply do not want to do it anymore. We can say without exaggeration that the present national ambition of the United States is unemployment. People live for quitting time, for week-ends, for vacations, and for retirement; moreover, this ambition seems to be classless, as true in the executive suites as on the assembly lines. One works not because the work is necessary, valuable, useful to a desirable end, or because one loves to do it, but only to be able to quit-a condition that a saner time would regard as infernal, a condemnation. This is explained, of course, by the dullness of the work, by the loss of responsibility for, or credit for, or knowledge of the thing made. What can be the status of the working small farmer in a nation whose motto is a sigh of relief: "Thank God it's Friday"?

But there is an even more important consequence: By the dismemberment of work, by the degradation of our minds as workers, we are denied our highest calling, for, as Gill says, "every man is called to give love to the work of his hands. Every man is called to be an artist." The small family farm is one of the last places-they are getting rarer every day-where men and women (and girls and boys, too) can answer that call to be an artist, to learn to give love to the work of their hands. It is one of the last places where the maker-and some farmers still do talk about "making the crops"-is responsible, from start to finish, for the thing made. This certainly is a spiritual value, but it is not for that reason an impractical or uneconomic one. In fact, from the exercise of this responsibility, this giving of love to the work of the hands, the farmer, the farm, the consumer, and the nation all stand to gain in the most practical ways: They gain the means of life, the goodness of food, and the longevity and dependability of the sources of food, both natural and cultural. The proper answer to the spiritual calling becomes, in turn, the proper fulfillment of physical need."

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Two Lessons

#1 - You can do anything you put your mind to as long as you have a good supply of junk plywood, baler twine and hay pallets. How do I know this? We have pigs. 'nuff said.

#2 - Even more than I need to learn to communicate with people better, I need to continue to listen to people.

I've been struggling with milk customers not letting me know when they will not be picking up milk. Out of my customer base of 15 families or so, this only happens about once or twice a week, but it can be irritating. I try to remind them gently about the need to communicate if this happens more than once, but inside I'm usually quietly fuming at being taken advantage of.

This week has been a crazy fiasco of trying to coordinate butchering dates for our bull and three hogs. I called Buckley's to ask if they had an earlier date to butcher our hogs, since they will be ready within three weeks, and I had signed them up for two months down the road. Buckleys said their entire schedule was full, and just to let them know if we wanted to stay with the current butchering date.

Then the bull got out with the cows... bad, bad, bad situation. Our electric fence is still not working correctly, and no one can figure out why. I called Riteway to see if they had room in their schedule to butcher the bull this weekend, so at least we don't have to deal with one dangerous animal. They put him on the schedule yesterday, and this morning I got a call from Buckleys. He told me that he can't handle hogs as big as ours are going to be by October 15th, and yet he can't get me in earlier. I mentioned,"that's okay, I'll call Riteway and see if they can get them done earlier, since they are doing our bull this weekend." The guy at Buckley's said, "oh, you mean you got someone else to do the bull without telling us so we could get someone else in that time slot?" After a few more words of disappointment, I finally got the word in edgewise that I had planned to call them with this brand new information today. He seemed a bit satiated, and told me to call him back after I'd found out about the hogs.

I get the hogs on Riteway's schedule, call Buckley's back, and get his wife on the phone. She rants about loosing four customers because I wouldn't call them about changing to a different butcher (how this is possible, considering I only took up one time slot, had just yesterday found out about being able to get the bull done this weekend, and it was Buckley's who were unable to butcher the hogs even though I was okay with waiting, is something to ponder). Eventually, realizing she was not interested in hearing an explanation, and was just angry about my mistake costing them business, I quit trying to get a word in edgewise.

There was a moment of dead air, then a "hello? hello, are you there?".

To honestly answer, when someone is not listening, the person they are talking to could just as well be not present. I just felt like crying afterwards at the trouble I had inadvertently caused. Not a good way to start off the day.

Lord, help me to listen to others and get over my huffiness over people's mistakes. A little bit of grace goes a long way, and I for sure appreciate it when people rebuke me softly, instead of with a harsh diatribe.

"A fool has no delight in understanding, but in expressing his own heart." Proverbs 18:2

"A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger."

Sunday, August 8, 2010

The Grand "Emma" Ball

I bid you enter into the world of English Country Dancing, an art form which takes everyday guys and gals and transforms them into...

A parting glare from 'Mr. Darcy' ;)

A Good Ol' Time at Fisherman's Bend

What a great time with our church family! I especially enjoyed devotions by the river.

(p.s. Thanks to my friend Christi for some great photo shots)

My family rode (or walked) across Detroit Lake Dam and found a picturesque inlet on the other side to spend our afternoon splashing in the water and canoeing.

All in all, a great trip.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Beach Trip

Well actually we went on this fun vacation back in March, but the pictures which were eaten by Daniel's computer finally revealed themselves, so here goes!

Our beach house...

I thought this next one looked pretty cool - the seagull seems to be about to land on Abigail's head!

Sledding on the dunes...

Beautiful rocky coast scenery...

Look out - dangerous family alert ;)

We also visited a wildlife refuge... with absolutely no wildlife to be seen anywhere ;) It was truly a beautiful place, despite the expensive concrete paths and impractical spiral lookout point.

Isn't this next picture cool?

True to form, my dad found a cemetery for us to visit. It was my absolute favorite hike of the whole trip, past beautiful misty meadows where cows grazed and quietness all around, not another soul to be seen (excepting the odd farmer or graveyard ghost, of course).

...and a few ragamuffins, hiding out under the church awning from the rain...

On our way home, we stopped along the highway to sit awhile on the banks of a creek. This is me, thinking, of course.

We also visited Fort Yamhill - it looks like it will be a neat place to hang out once they have rebuilt more of the structures.

We got purposely lost in the woods. Again. My dad took us to what looked like an old logging road and we climbed up into the hills for a while. Then, leaving the trail, we cut down through the woods along the creek until we came out at the road. Wet and miserable, was I, yet I was outvoted in my desire to stick to the beaten path and had to conform to the mutineers' decision. Democracy is tough.

All in all, a really fun trip with my family.