Monday, April 30, 2012

Getting Personal, Part 1

For the past years, I have been striving to overhaul several areas of my lifestyle, not limited to but including nutrition, personal care and home care.  Making the change to natural cleaning products was a no-brainer and ridiculously easy.   Seriously, I don't know why a whole aisle needs to exist for cleaning products at the store. What a waste of money.  Most of those products are toxic too - we're paying money to get sick!  But I digress... that's a whole different post topic... However,  making major changes in nutrition, health care and personal care has been a slow process, as I wade my way though all the ideas and concepts that are new to me.  There is much to learn and I certainly do not claim that I have it all figured out.

A couple of years ago, I was lounging in the bathtub and I happened to read the ingredients list on the body wash bottle.  Yikes!  Why had I never read this before?  What the heck is THAT ingredient?  What do all these numbers mean?  WHY am I soaking my body in these chemicals?  It slowly occurred to me that since nicotine patches and birth control patches are applied to the skin and send their drugs directly to the blood stream, it must mean that anything I slather on my skin can penetrate and enter my bloodstream.  Uggg.  It made me sick to my stomach when I read the ingredient list on my children's body wash and lotion bottles.  I could not believe I had been naively spreading chemicals all over their delicate skin.  I was angry... not sure who I was more angry at... the companies for allowing this to happen or me for being so stupid and clueless.  Mostly myself, I guess, for blindly trusting the advertising and not thinking twice about what I was doing.   And I had to ask myself, "Why am I using these products?  Simply because I always have?  Do I really need to use body wash, perfume, etc.?  What would happen if I didn't?  Would I *gasp* smell like a human being instead of a flower/mountain stream/apple?"  It all started to seem very silly to me. I suppose I should also mention here that I am not "girly" in any way, shape or form.  Of course I like to look (and smell ) nice, but I am certainly not a "primper" (I don't do my nails, style my hair, etc.).  My daily grooming routine takes 5 minutes, tops.

So I decided to purge my bathroom and closets of all those nasty chemicals.  What a shock to add up all the personal care products I used every single day.  Perhaps the chemicals in these products are not so bad in and of themselves, but when used daily and combined with any number of other products, well folks, we just don't know how it's going to effect us.  I don't care if  scientific testing says it's safe - there is no way they can test every product in conjunction with a myriad of other products.  I choose to play it safe by avoiding questionable products, instead of following the modern thinking, which believes everything is innocent until proven guilty (and by then the damage is done -and you were an unwilling guinea pig).  I once read that if you look at the ingredient list on a bottle and see something on there that you would not dare to eat, then you shouldn't be putting it on your body either.  Now THAT got me thinking.

What the what?  And I've been slathering this on my children for years? 

It was overwhelming to think about changing EVERYTHING I used.  And some days I would freak out, thinking about all the years I had been putting these chemicals on and in my body.  The word "cancer" kept coming to mind.  Some research would make my stomach churn and I could feel myself begin to hyperventilate.  But then I discovered some promising research that comforted me.  God created our bodies with an incredible capacity to heal itself.  If we stop adding toxins to our body and allow it to cleanse itself,  we CAN heal.  Our bodies CAN purge themselves of toxic chemicals. We CAN make a difference in our personal health.  This gave me great hope.  We don't have to be victims. 

But it's easier said than done.  These days our bodies are assaulted by toxins and chemicals in millions of different ways - they are in our food, in the air we breath, in the clothes we wear, the detergents we use to clean out clothes, the textiles and furnishings in our homes, the cookware we use to prepare food, not to mention all the medications we consume and personal care products we use.  Our bodies are working in overdrive to purge the toxins from our bodies, and they just can't keep up with the daily load.  I've made it my goal to remove as many as these toxins as I can and have decided to not sweat what I cannot control.  Small changes are better than no changes. Several books on my reading list have been helpful guides, but perhaps the most informative were "Never Be Sick Again" by Raymond Francis, M.Sc.  and "Diet for a Poisoned Planet" by David Steinman.  Warning:  These books may cause you to panic as you discover just how toxic our world is.  I'm not trying to scare you.  Do not despair.  It is not hopeless.  Do not throw your hands up in defeat.  Remember, God created us with the capability to heal.  We just have to give our bodies a chance to do what they were designed to do.  So lay off already and give your body a break!

In the next post, I'll share with you what I have been doing to lighten the toxic load on family's bodies and link some valuable resources...stay tuned.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Honey Oatmeal Bread

I just had to share this recipe I found on Kate's blog, Modern Alternative Mama!  For the past year, I have been searching for a simple, easy and delicious sandwich bread made with 100% whole wheat flour.  There are lots of great bread recipes out there and I have several that make on a regular basis, but this one is hands down the best whole wheat bread I've tasted.  Most other recipes require some funny ingredients that I usually don't have on hand,  like orange juice, mashed potatoes or vital wheat gluten, in order to make the whole wheat bread more palatable (whole wheat can be slightly bitter). This recipe is soaked overnight, which I believe creates the superb flavor and light texture (and some people will say that soaking makes the grains easier to digest).   I will admit this recipe contains more sweetener than I would like, but it's so amazing I don't care.  Also, the directions for this recipe look long, but there is really less than 15 minutes of hands-on time.  You will want to make sure you bake this bread on a day that you will be home for a good chunk of the morning or afternoon, as you do need to monitor the rising.

Honey Oatmeal Bread  - Makes 2 loaves

-4 cups whole wheat flour (I used King Arthur)
-1 cup oat flour (just whiz some old fashioned oatmeal in the food processor until it looks like flour)
-1/2 cup honey
-3/4 coconut oil, melted
-1 3/4 cups water
-2 eggs
-2 tsp sea salt
-1 tbsp yeast

1.  Melt the coconut oil.  In a large bowl, combine flours, honey, coconut oil and water.  I used my Kitchen Aid mixer but you don't need one.  Stir until all ingredients are well incorporated.  You may need to add a bit more water.

2.  Set bowl aside to soak overnight or at least 8 hours.  I left the dough right in the mixing bowl and covered it loosely with plastic wrap and a kitchen towel.

3.   In the morning (or 8 hours later), add the additional ingredients.

4.  Turn dough out onto a floured board or counter top (I used King Arthur White Whole Wheat Flour to flour the counter).  Knead for about 10 minutes.  The dough will be wet and sticky.  Add a little more flour as need to keep it from sticking.  I also tried kneading the dough in the mixing bowl with the dough hook attachment for the Kitchen Aid, but felt that hand kneading actually worked better in this case.

5.  Return dough to the bowl and allow to rise for 2-3 hours.  Mine hardly had any rise after 2 hours.  I also realized my house was at 61 degrees.  Duh.  So I boiled water, set it in a pan in the unheated oven and stuck the bowl of dough in there for an hour.  Voila.  Should have done that the first time.

6.  Punch down dough and divide into 2 greased loaf pans. Don't worry about bumps -they will even out as the dough rises.  Allow the dough to rise a second time in the loaf pans (use the same trick as above - pan of boiling water in the oven) for about an hour.

7.  Near the end of the rising time, carefully remove the bread (be careful you don't cause the bread to collapse - if so, let it rise again)  and preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Bake for 40-50 or until bread reaches over 180 degrees (use a thermometer to check).  Allow to cool in pans for about 5 minutes, then turn the loaves out onto a cooling rack.  Resist the urge to slice into warm bread, or the bread may tear.  On second thought, screw it.  Just slice it and slather a steaming piece with butter.  *Bliss*   There are few things in this world that are better than warm, fresh baked bread.  Enjoy.

Do you have a favorite recipe to share???

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Chick Update!

Our babies are nearly two weeks old and my, oh my, how they have grown!  No longer are they downy little balls of fluff.  Each day more and more feathers begin to sprout.  Just yesterday they started getting tail feathers.  Much to my delight, some of the Araucanas (Easter Egg Chickens - the ones that lay colored eggs) are starting to grow "ear muffs", little tufts of feathers that stick out from the side of their heads.  It looks hilarious.  And I love it.  This little brown gal on the bottom has the best ear muffs so far... it's hard to see in this photo.   The black chicks are the Barred Rocks and you can see they are starting to form "bars" of black and white on their wings.

Originally, we had the chicks in a 3'x3' box with sides about 10" high.  We had it covered with a piece of plywood on one side and wire mesh on the other.  This box was working great until the day I went to go catch one of the chicks and she just about hopped right out of the box!  We've got a jumper!  When my husband got home, he quickly made a new brooder box.  This is how we learn around here - trial and error.

So, here is the new and improved brooder box.  My husband reused the same pieces of wood (I just moved the chicks to a plastic storage tub filled with wood shavings, which worked great), but this time, he doubled the height of the box so now it's about 20" high.  He also made the box about 4'x4', which is much bigger than it needs to be, but could be handy if we ever raise a large number of chicks.  Handles were cut of of the sides for easy lifting and a bottom was added, so we can lift the whole thing up when we're done with it and dump the shavings in the compost pile.  All the lumber was salvaged wood from extra large pallets he got from work, so the cost was nothing, except a few screws. 

I'm thankful that the sides are higher to protect the chicks from intruders.  We've been introducing the dogs to the chicks so they will get used to them, but it still made me  nervous.  My 3 year old daughter is constantly opening doors and letting the dogs (and the barn cats) into the garage without me being aware, and I was afraid we would have an issue.  So far so good.  Our other chickens free range in the yard and we have no problems with the dogs and cats bothering them now.  Initially, our terrier mix, Gibson (in the photo above) wanted nothing more than to eat the chickens, so I had to keep him on a leash for about a month.  But he caught on and now he barely notices them.  In fact, I think he's a little afraid of them - chickens will defend themselves and they peck REALLY hard!  The barn cats enjoy the company of the chickens and I will often see them lounging around with the ladies.  I've even found one of the cats cuddled up next to a chicken in the coop.  Whatever.  Crazy cats.

In about 4 more weeks, the chicks will be fully feathered and we will be ready to move them outside.  We're still not exactly sure where we are going to put them - in the movable coop with the other 10 chickens we have or if we (and when I say "we", I mean "my husband") are going to build a different coop.  I suppose we should figure that out...  Ah, it'll all work out, right?  And if not, you'll hear all about!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

All in the Family

Part of my vision for this farm was creating a place where people could gather together and celebrate God's goodness and provision.  Much to my delight, over the past year this farm has become a family affair.  So many of our family members are invested in this place, in one way or another.  It fills me with joy to see how this farm draws people in - people want to be here, they want to come and help us make the vision a reality. 

Last spring, my grandparents moved to a retirement community.  Soon afterwards, my grandmother passed away and it was gut-wrenching to watch my grandfather grieve her loss.  So much pain.  After several months, he was able to dig himself out of the pit of despair.  I know it's still hard for him (it was for all of us), but as we enter into this planting season, I see renewed hope in him.  My grandpa has been coming out to the farm several days a week, helping us with chores such as mowing the lawn, cutting brush, trimming trees, painting fences, etc.  There is something healing about this place.  When he's here, he's happy and full of joy - I love seeing the big smile on his face as he watches our children and dogs run around the yard playing.  As he works, he tells me stories about his childhood working on his uncle's farm.  I'm fascinated to hear about his early life and learn more about the great-grandparents I never had a chance to meet.

Grandpa and my son painting the fence

We appreciate my grandpa's help immensely.  We tell him so every time he leaves, but I don't think he understands exactly how much it means to us.  There are so many chores to be done and sometimes my husband and I are simply overwhelmed.  But many hands make light work.  We've been fortunate to have several family members that are willing (and excited!) to help us.  My father-in-law and his wife have generously donated funds to help pay for fencing materials.  We simply didn't have the cash to afford fencing.  They were so eager for us to get pigs and cattle that they took matters into their own hands - and we are grateful!  My father is helping to pay for bee colonies and hives, so we can set up a small apiary and has offered to help manage the hives in return for honey.  My step-dad has been so helpful in cutting down trees and removing the wood.  My mother and mother-in-law have generously given of their time to babysit our kids so we can accomplish large jobs.  My brother, the expert grower, has taught me how to grow my own garden plants and supplies me with all the materials I could ever need.  My sister and her husband have volunteered to help weed and manage the garden this summer - well, perhaps not my sister, since she'll be hugely pregnant come August, but maybe she can be the "weeding coach", shouting out encouragement as she lounges in a chair.

Pasture fences going up

Somehow, this place has drawn all of us together.  There is a common goal of seeing our hopes and dreams come to fruition.  I now know the true meaning of the phrase "labor of love".  I love this place, everything about it, the good, that bad and the ugly.  I love working in the yard and garden, or kitchen, even when I'm exhausted and discouraged by all the tasks that need to be accomplished.  I love that we a building a place where people feel welcome, where they feel appreciated.  I can't wait to see what else God has in store for this place. 

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The Garden (a work in progress)

One of the reasons we wanted to move was our desire to have a huge garden, enabling us to grow as much as our own produce as possible.  At our old house, I had about a 200 sq feet of garden space and it never failed to amaze me how much food I could grow in a small space. 

Last summer, we staked out where we wanted the future garden to be and laid huge tarps over the pasture grass.  They stayed there from about June until November.  When we removed them, the grass was deader than a doornail. Worked like a charm.  I know you can just spray the area with Round-up, but I wasn't keen on that.  One, I loath Monsanto and do everything in my power to avoid supporting that terrible company.  Two, I intend to have an organic garden and hopefully sell the produce, so I want to make sure I avoid chemicals coming into contact with my soil.   My husband borrowed a tiller and was able to easily till all the dead grass into the soil.

When spring rolled around this year (80 degree days in March!  Unheard of!), we scrambled to get the garden beds set up.  My gardening philosophy has been influenced by several sources, but to put it in a nutshell, I prefer raised or mounded beds with compost added, companion planting (planting lots of different plants in the same bed to confuse pests), minimal tilling (we hope to never have to till again after the initial turning over of the bed), straw pathways between the beds and organic growing practices (no chemical fertilizers or pesticides).  My favorite book has been "The Vegetable Gardener's Bible" by Edward C. Smith".  Full of great ideas and knowledge for more advanced gardeners, yet not overwhelming for the beginner.  Currently, I've been researching the French Intensive/Biodynamic gardening methods.  The methods are, well, intensive.  I don't have the time to pursue that method right now as a busy mom with small children, but perhaps in a different season of my life.  Using this method, it takes about 8 hours to prepare each garden bed.... and I have 26 beds.  Yikes.  I'd like to start gradually converting to this method,  doing a few beds each year. 

The garden in progress - this view shows about half of the garden.

We're not completely finished setting up the garden, but when it is done, we will have 26 garden beds, each one about 4'x16'. The beds are lined on the long sides with trees we cut down from the back tree line.  For the pathways, we first shoveled out about 3-4 inches of soils and added that to the adjacent beds.  Then we laid down a thick layer of newspapers (to prevent weeds) and a topping of straw, so we have nice clean pathways to kneel on.   The total square footage of the garden is over 4,000 sq. feet, including pathways.  Not going to lie.  I'm a little nervous about how I'm going to maintain it all.  In my basement, I have over 75 tomato plants started under grow lights, along with dozens of peppers and other assorted veggie plants.  This all sounds fun and great, until the day comes when I'll have to DO something with all those tomatoes.  My canner may become my new best friend... or enemy, depending on my state of fatigue come August/September.   We shall see...

I'm still working on constructing beds, digging/lining pathways and adding goat compost to each bed, but I was able to plant some peas and spinach in some of the finished beds.  The peas are coming up nicely and I was able to eat my first bite of spinach a few days ago.


I spent hours this winter planning the garden on graph paper, arranging the crops in a way that I can rotate them easily over the years (it's not good to plant the same thing in a bed year after year - pest and diseases problems arise).   This piece of paper will be my guide as I start planing the garden.  I also keep a gardening journal, which I HIGHLY recommend, for even a first time gardener.  In my journal, I keep track of what I planted, on what day, what the weather is like, problems that arise and how I tried to solve it, etc.  It has been incredibly valuable to look back at entries so that I avoid making the same mistake twice (and believe me, I've made LOTS of mistakes). 

So, here are the plants I intend to put in the garden this year.  95% of my seeds are certified organic, as I hope to sell some of my extra produce:

-Tomatoes (several varieties)
-Sweet bell peppers (several varieties)
-Hot peppers  (2 varieties)
-Cucumbers (slicers and pickling)
-Pole Beans
-Bush Beans
- Sugar Snap Peas
-Shelling Peas
-Carrots (3 varieties, including red!)
-Onion (2 varieties)
-Swiss Chard
-Brussel Sprouts
-Lettuce (3 varieties)
-Sweet Corn
-Pumpkins (several variates)
-Butternut Squash
-Spaghetti Squash

One thing you may note I am NOT growing - Zucchini.  Ha!  There's no need to grow it - people are always desperate to give it away!  I'm sure I can get some if I really want it.

My husband had grand plans to build me a greenhouse this spring, but we've been overwhelmed with more pressing matters (like fencing pasture for pigs!), so the greenhouse will have to wait.  He already bought some old school house windows on Craigslist, so perhaps it can be constructed later this summer when we're not as busy (HA!).  Hopefully, it will be ready by fall so I can try my hand at growing lettuces and greens in the greenhouse over the winter.

Future Greenhouse windows - they're 8'x4'

Well, that's about it for now.  I'll keep updating the blog as things get exciting in the garden.  Until then, I better get my butt outside and shovel some goat poop.

Saturday, April 14, 2012


Our newest members of the farm arrived this week - 10 adorable, tiny chicks.  I mean, I knew chicks were cute and all, but seriously - I can't get over how precious they are.  My nearly 3 year old daughter is delighted with them, but extremely frustrated that I won't let her hold one.  They feel incredibly fragile.  Perhaps they are tougher than I give them credit for, but at this point I'm not about to risk letting my daughter crush one to death with her overenthusiam. 

My niece came with us to pick up the chicks from our local farm co-op.  The chicks were ready to go, already in their little boxes that reminded me of Happy Meals (chicken nuggets, anyone?).  I let my 5 year old son and niece hold the boxes on their laps on the way home, which was a bit nervewracking for me ("Hold onto your box!  We're turning!  Don't drop the box!"). 

We came home with 5 Barred Rock chicks and 5 Araucanas (Ameraucana-Strain) a.k.a.  "Easter Egg" chickens.  The Araucanas will lay colored eggs - the catalog says the eggs could be blue, green, pink or olive drab.  I believe they are not the best layers (not the most productive compared to other breeds), but I thought it would be fun to have some colored eggs to mix in with our brown eggs.  We're curious to see what they look like when they grow up, as the catalog suggests that they vary in color in size, some chickens having "whiskers" and other having "ear muffs".  The Barred Rocks will have stripes (bars) of black and white on their feathers and lay brown eggs.

As soon as we got the babies home, we quickly put them in the makeshift brooder we set up in the garage.  The "brooder" is simply the name for the place where we will raise the babies until they finally grow feathers and can be moved outdoors.  My husband screwed a few boards together to make a 3'x3' box.  We set the box on a piece of plywood and filled it with pine shavings.  The brooder lamp was lowered to keep them toasty warm.  As I unloaded each chick, I dipped it's beak in water to teach them how to drink (seems like they would figure it out on their own, but all the books said I need to do this).  At first, the chicks just huddled under the light.  They were visibly cold and seemed a bit disoriented.  After a few minutes though, they warmed up and started wandering around, drinking, eating and exploring their new home.  We laid a piece of plywood overtop half the brooder box to give them a place to hide and escape the warmth of the lamp if they got too hot.  Since we have dogs and cats, we were sure to cover the box with sturdy mesh to protect the chicks.

 We are fortunate that our local farm co-op carries organic chicken feeds, which means were were able to purchase feed that contains no medications or GMO's.  I'm not keen on either of those things entering my food supply.  Almost all chick feeds are medicated, which I can see the need for if one was raising chicks in large quantities where disease outbreaks are caused by stress, overcrowding and unsanitatry conditions.  However, for small scale poultry folks like us, it seems unnecessary to medicate animals "just because".

This is our first attempt at raising chicks and we're excited to watch these chicks grow and transform into beautiful birds... and eat those tasty eggs!  Currently, we have 10 laying hens that our step-dad raised for us last year (a mix of Rhode Island Reds and ISA Browns). We had just moved into our home and didn't have the time or space to think about raising our own birds.  He brought them over to us when they were about 2 months old, sturdy enough to be in an outdoor coop.  Those chickens started laying by mid-August, so we'll have to wait quite a while for these new chicks to produce any eggs.  In the meantime, we're having a great time taking care of our "babies"!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Why "Third Day Farms"?

When God gave me the vision of this farm, He told me to name it "Third Day Farms".   The next day, when I finally got around to opening my Bible, I felt the urge to start with Genesis 1.  Of course, I knew the story of creation, but I suppose I never really paid close attention to the order of events.  So when I read the next few verses, it all came together:

 11 Then God said, “Let the land produce vegetation: seed-bearing plants and trees on the land that bear fruit with seed in it, according to their various kinds.” And it was so. 12 The land produced vegetation: plants bearing seed according to their kinds and trees bearing fruit with seed in it according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good. 13 And there was evening, and there was morning—the third day.  - Genesis 1:11-13 NIV

The third day.  The day that God created all plants and vegetation, the very source of life.  All creatures are dependent on plants.  Ok, this is starting to make sense... I'm supposed to use the name "Third Day Farms" because it reminds us of God's life-giving provision.  Not to mention all the parallels between gardening and Jesus's death, followed by His resurrection on the third day, a reminder that regeneration requires death.  Everything in the garden dies in the fall, things look bleak and hopeless as winter rolls in. And then, lo!  New life springs forth, bringing joy, abundant life and vitality to all those who partake of the garden's bounty. 

I kept reading.  Later on I found this:  
26 Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals,[a] and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”
27 So God created mankind in his own image,
in the image of God he created them;
male and female he created them.

28 God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”
29 Then God said, “I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food. 30 And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds in the sky and all the creatures that move along the ground—everything that has the breath of life in it—I give every green plant for food.” And it was so.

And that is when the tears started to fall.  Dear God, forgive us. For forgetting our calling to be stewards of your beloved creation. Forgive us for twisting the words "rule" and "subdue" to mean "destroy".  Forgive us for our blindness, for ignoring the ravaging and rape of your earth.  For allowing horrible environmental practices to continue, all so we can save a buck or two.  Forgive us for subjecting animals to disgraceful conditions so that we can profit from them.   And I'm just as much to blame as anyone else.  I didn't know any better.  I never questioned anything, just blindly trusted every company and corporation.  Ever the optimist, I like to think the best of people and see no reason to doubt what I'm told.  How foolish of me.  It was difficult for me to face the ugly truth -to admit how blind and thoughtless I had been, burying my head in the sand. 

How did we get so lost?  How did we forget our first and foremost calling in life, the command in Genesis to be caretaker of God's creation?  I've studied and examined how we got to where we are today and it seems to me that it boils down to greed.  Money has become more important than stewardship.  Who cares if we are ruining the land, raising animals in despicable conditions, pumping our food supply full of cancer-causing chemical?.  It's profitable, so why should we stop? 

For the last few years, I have felt increasingly ill at ease.  Uncomfortable, troubled, agitated, disturbed... and increasingly frustrated by my inability to express why.  Then for Christmas this past year, I received a copy of Joel Salatin's new book "Folks, this ain't normal".  I read some chapters with tears rolling down my face, while other chapters filled me with unspeakable anger, my body visibly trembling with rage.  Somehow, the author was able to put all my indescribable feelings and thoughts into an organized format for the rest of the world to read.  Finally, finally, I was able to figure out the source of my distress.  Like the author says, our society today ain't normal.  We have lost sight of what is true and beautiful, what is valuable and important.  The lifestyle of the average America today is disjointed, disconnected, dependent on a broken system that is  unsustainable.  This is not normal.  Reading Joel Salatin's latest book was my turning point and freed me from the idea of trying to conform.  As a follower, I've always been afraid to speak my mind or challenge conventional thinking.  Don't want to rock the boat, you know.  Not anymore. Thank you, Mr. Salatin, for encouraging me to become normal, in your sense of the word.

Now, where was I?  Oh yeah, Third Day Farms.  So God, in His perfect wisdom, chose this name for our tiny farm and we are going to do our best to honor it.  We envision a place filled with life and vitality, a place of abundance and healthy food.  A place where we can embrace God's command to be a loving steward of His earth.  Joel Salatin says in "Folks, this ain't normal"  that "the first occupation of humanity was to be a gardener".   We're going back to the beginning, attempting to get back to that first calling of man - to love and care for the earth.  And you know what?  It feels normal.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Let's Start at the Very Beginning...

It's been over a year that we have lived in our "new" home (it's over 130 years old). How did we end up living in an old run-down farm, you ask?  Well, let me give you a little background...

It all started with a documentary called "Food Inc."  Perhaps you have heard of it or even watched it yourself.  I would highly recommend it.   At the time, my husband and I would have considered ourselves environmentally-friendly and animal-loving people, but we gave little thought to what we ate and where it came from.  Simply wasn't on our radar.  This movie changed everything.  I remember we both sat there in stunned silence when the movie finished, trying to take it all it, grappling with this new knowledge.  I don't remember which one of us said it, but something was said along the lines of "Well, if we want to do something about this, we better start growing our own food."  So began a new chapter in our lives.  There was no going back, once we knew about these problems with the food system - can't unlearn something. 

My daughter was born around this time.  During one of her middle of the night nursings, as I was dozing in the rocking chair, God revealed a vision to me.  Now, these sorts of things don't usually happen to me, and dare I sound too "out there" and mystical, I can think of no other word to describe what God showed me that night as I wavered in that delicious place between sleep and wakefulness.  He showed me a small beautiful farm, full of life and vitality.  Abundant gardens, my children playing joyfully in the yard, me harvesting the fruits of my labors.  A garden so productive that we had plenty to spare and we blessed others with our over-abundance.  It was very clear to me that God was revealing my new home to me and telling me what to do -  work this land with love and care, grow food that will nourish your family and others in need.  Okay Lord, I can do that.  "But", I asked Him, "what shall I call it?  This place needs a name."  And immediately, He responded "Third Day Farms".  I was curious about that name, but decided to trust Him (more on that in a later post).    My daughter finished nursing and as I lay her back down to sleep, my head was spinning with dreams and ideas. 

I am a private person, and quite honestly, I thought people would say I was crazy if I told them I had a vision.  So, I kept it a secret, but told my husband is was time for us to sell our home in the suburbs and look for something in the country.  The house was listed, we waited for buyers and in the meantime, we began looking for "Third Day Farms", even though my husband didn't know about this dream/vision in my head.

Nearly a year later, we found it.  A home came on the market and we went to look at it, even though it was way out of our price range (do NOT do this!  Not a good idea!).  The moment we pulled in the driveway, I had to fight back tears.  We had driven past this home from time to time and I had always admired it, dreaming about what it would be like to live there.  I knew without a doubt THIS was where we were supposed to live....but  how would we ever afford it???  Walking around the 3 acre property, I saw bits and pieces of my vision revealed to me.  My children were hungry, so we looked around and found wild raspberries for them to eat.  Already, this land was feeding and nourishing us.  It was perfect!  I left that day feeling distressed and hopeless.  We could never afford this place.

Lo and behold, we finally found a buyer for our house.  Just as we did, the price on the home we wanted dropped into our price range.  We quickly wrote up an offer, prayed like crazy and waited.  They accepted!  I could not believe our dreams were coming true.  We closed 1 week after selling our home and promptly moved into my parents basement for 4 months, because some parts of the home were almost unlivable and we wanted to fix them before we moved in with the kids.  Funny how every one's interpretation of "dream house" is different.  Ours certainly is not "dreamy", but it offers us the "lifestyle" of our dreams. 

    The Barn

The "New" House

                                           View of the backyard from my kitchen window

Fast forward one year and there have been many changes on our little farm.  We've been busy building and painting fences, raising egg layer chickens, preparing a 4,000+ sq. foot garden, planning a small orchard with fruit trees and berries, renovating the 1880's barn that has been abandoned since the '60's, all while attempting to slowly dig our house out of the 1950's (the last time it was "remodeled").  Money is extremely tight, so we have to be patient and creative.  But through it all, we are overwhelmed by God's blessings.  He has provided for all our needs and many of our wants as well.  Our adventure has just begun and we are so excited to see where God leads us as we attempt to turn my vision into a reality.