Sunday, October 31, 2010

an abundant harvest!

last week we dusted off fixed the potato plow, and put it to good use! way back in May, we planted a total of 300 pounds of potatoes. (yes, you read that right!) and at the end of our season, still had about 75 pounds left to dig.

this year i got to drive the tractor. there were 3 rows to dig: almost a whole row of Superior, a white potato. there were also 2 complete rows of kennebec, a white keeper potato.

the ground was a tiny bit wet to be digging potatoes, but we dug in the opportune window between rain showers. (another variation of "make hay while the sun shines")

Dave and A rode on the back of the plow to keep an eye on things.

the rows in the lower garden are slightly longer than 100 feet. all the other rows ( we planted 8 other rows of potatos: the ill-fated blue, yukon gold, red Pontiac and another row of Superior) were dug by hand and sold; either in the CSA boxes, at the produce stand or the farmer's market.

the potato plow makes quick work of those 100 feet! the plow digs up the row, and scoops up the potatoes onto the first conveyor. the potatoes rattle along and plop down onto the second conveyor, and then gently tumble off the back: all in a nice, neat row.

we all helped pick up the potatoes, sorting as we went. all these crates are about 3/4 full of kennebec potatoes. we also got 4 crates of the superior, which we'll eat first. last year we had our own fresh potatoes until the middle of April, (we store them in the crates in the cellar) meaning that we were only on a "potato fast" from mid-April until early July, when we dug our first potatoes.

I'd say we're on track for that again this year.

and then some!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Grief has a Face; Faith has a Name

this past week, a woman in our church was suddenly and shockingly catapulted into the world of widowhood. after 50+ years of marriage her husband passed away quite unexpectedly at home Monday night, after a massive heart attack.

my friend has been surrounded and supported by her loving family and friends, especially during the viewing and funeral on Saturday morning.

on Sunday morning, my friend came to Sunday school as usual. and of course she stayed for church afterwards.

i can not even begin to fathom her deep feeling of loss and grief. just last Sunday, she and her husband were sitting side by side for Sunday school, and then church. just as they have nearly every week that we've been attending.

from where i was sitting near the back of the church on Sunday morning, i could see the head and shoulders of my friend. i would have understood if her head sagged in sorrow, and her shoulders shook with grief.

but that was not what i saw. what i observed was nothing less than profound. it is a lesson in real faith and trust in God.

my friend was singing. my friend was praising God. my friend was continuing to trust God in the midst of her deep sorrow and great loss.

and as i spoke to her after church, she mentioned Psalm 46, and what a comfort it is to her now.

God is our refuge and strength. An ever present help in times of trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains shall fall into the heart of the sea,
Though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.
There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy place where the Most High dwells.
God is within her, she will not fall; God will help her at break of day.
Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall; he lifts his voice, the earth melts.
The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.
Come and see the works of the Lord, the desolations he has brought on the earth.
He makes wars cease to the ends of the earth; he breaks the bow and shatters the spear, he burns the shields with fire.
Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.
The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.

my friend told me how thankful she was for the times that she had spent with her husband, and the comfort and joy those memories were bringing to her: an anniversary party celebrated with friends and family; a first birthday party celebration at the age of 70; a very recent trip out West.

but most amazingly, my friend told me of the peace and comfort that Psalm 46 has brought her, and continues to bring her as she begins to live without her husband by her side.

she spoke of how God has been her refuge this week. she told me of how God has been her strength, and how He has helped her in this troubling week.

i am moved at the depth of faith and trust that my friend showed in the midst of such a painful time.

these words that she said were told to me with peace in her eyes and conviction in her voice. they were not just mumbled words and phrases, said because she knows this is what is expected of her.

these were words coming from the depth of her soul and the trust in her heart:

"God is my refuge and strength. An ever present help in my time of trouble. "

i am humbled and blessed to see such faith in my friend Gladys.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

October: Jesus in our heart and home

i can't believe that the month has flown by so quickly, and it's time for another nativity! before you know it, the time will be upon me to brave the attic to bring down all the nativities in person!

this month's spotlight is a very simple white nativity from the dollar store. the thing that makes it very special to me is that the Holy Family were a gift from my 4 older children when they were much smaller. M, D, N and G each gave me a figurine: the Babe, Mary, Joseph and the shepherd. i later bought the 3 wise men to complete the set.

every Christmas season for many, many years, i have set up this nativity on top of our secretariat, and fondly remembered the thoughtful gifts that my young children gave me years ago.

that reminds me to remember the profound gift that God gave us in sending his only son at Christmas, so that He could die for us at Easter.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

the amazing chicken factory!

one of our recent acquisitions was a chicken plucker. we were looking for a drum plucker, but when we found this one on Craig's list for $100, Dave decided that it would work just fine.

we did quite alot of work on it: new "fingers", new paint, motor, plug and switch. so, the final cost was somewhere around $don'tevenaskbecauseyoudon'treallywanttoknow.

however, it works like a charm! Dave is the only one who has run it so far, since it spins really fast, and you really have to hold onto that chicken! (or else he'll go flying and be spit out the back and bottom of the drum!)

first, the chicken needs to be scalded (it goes without saying that the chicken is already dead...) in water that is no more than 145 degrees. then Dave flops him (i keep saying "him" because if you'll remember, all the meat birds we raise are the Cornish cross cockerels) onto the plucker, and holds on for dear life! pretty soon, 97% of the feathers are removed.

next in our little assembly line is G, and he tidies up the bird, removes the feet, crop, tail and head. he also removes the neck, and then passes the bird onto me.

i gut him, do any final cleaning and then rinse him off for the final time. i tuck the chicken into a neat looking package, and then I'll weigh and bag him. (it makes it much easier to have the chickens weighed before the customers come to pick them up- it goes so much smoother and faster that way.)

the chicken plucker has saved us untold hours, and even earned us money. with the addition of the skins and neck (tucked into the cavity) our birds have consistently weighed slightly over 5 pounds, with a few even over 6 pounds!

our goal is to continue to improve our product and cut down our cost to raise them. the chicken plucker has at least helped with the first part of that objective!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

if you're interested in being inundated with photographs...

head on over to facebook, and you can see the general celebrating and jocularity that we had today for baby BJ's birthday!

i've run out of excuses, reasons and justifications...

if it weren't for my unexpected fore site in pre-uploading all the nativity posts last December, my blog would be sparse, indeed!

with the arrival of a frost this morning (and right on time, according to our preacher) the garden can almost be declared officially done.

however, the work cannot quite be declared done.

but we're getting there.

there are still plants, row covers and bulbs to pull and store or compost.

we still need to plant garlic.

and the high tunnel needs to be cleaned out, tilled and re-planted. as do the cold frames.

we still need to dig potatoes- white and sweet.

there are still peppers to process.

and a few scraggly chickens to butcher. (the old laying hens are not earning their keep- by any stretch of the imagination. and the new flock is still some weeks away from beginning to lay.)

and turkeys to butcher on the 23 of November. (fresh turkey for Thanksgiving, anyone? )

and don't forget the 2 pigs. they will be ready to butcher in December.

but the pace is definitely slowing down.

there is time to snuggle with the girls in the morning, time to linger over coffee, time to read books and wander to the playground. even time to clean and do laundry!

i, for one, am glad for the slower pace. it was a full and busy summer- and we sure learned alot! at our peak, we had 7 families for our CSA. i also was a grower/seller for the weekly farmer's market, and did tolerably well there, also. we sold over 120 chickens, with 7 turkeys pre-ordered for Thanksgiving.

it was about late July/early August that the garden reached its peak, and it truly took all 8 families to keep up with the relentless produce! there were days and weeks in a row where i was overwhelmed with all the produce to freeze or can for our family.

but our pantry and freezers are full, and despite the hard work that never seemed to end, we plan to continue and expand for next year.

this winter will be spend reading, researching and planning. we have lots of resources lined up, and even though i was just as weary as every one else, I'm looking forward with anticipation and growing excitement to next year's growing season.

i guess you can say I've officially got the disease.

farming !


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