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Monday, December 26, 2011

Capturing those special moments

Ahhh, 'tis the season!  

The season of trying to get a decent family picture to send out in card form to all your family and friends.  The quest this year has been long and arduous.  So difficult in fact, that I had to look up a new word for difficult (hence, arduous).  The usual, "Hey,sit close to your sisters and let's take a photo on the couch" surprise family photo just didn't work.  Due in large part to Kiddo1's ability to mix and match her wardrobe, Kiddo2's ability to get dirty, and Kiddo3's nap schedule.

We were deep into the December calendar and still, I had nothing!

The day of the church Christmas program dawned.  We were dressed in our finest.  Well, the rest of the family was dressed in their finest.  I was dressed in the one thing that didn't have snot on it.  (Not mine.  No one told me in pre-natal class that mother = Kleenex.)

Here is Kiddo1 ringing the bells.  Look at that focus!  That concentration!  She didn't have a clue she was supposed to ring them at a certain time, she was just ringing them for all she was worth and having the time of her life.

Afterwards, I attempted to wrangle the whole family into a picture.  Kiddo2 needed some coaxing.  A LOT of coaxing...and restraining.  We didn't even hope for smiling.  Just sit still long enough to snap it on sports mode was fine with me.

Kiddo3 sweetly wondered "What's all the fuss?  I love to get my picture taken!"  Meanwhile, her brother hid behind the pulpit.  Literally crawled in there at one point.

See, is it really so hard to stand in front of the Christmas tree?  

Not when you're wearing a dress!

Kiddo2 viewed the photo session from his pulpit perch.  

We the resorted to bribery.  There, I admitted it.  I'm not proud of it, but when Mama wants a picture...Mama wants a picture!  We bribed him with Christmas cookies that were stationed at the back of the church.  He stomped over to the tree, stood for exactly 0.21 seconds, I snapped on sports mode (for I have learned), and low-and-behold we got one!!!  After the obligatory 0.21 seconds, Kiddo2 stomped off and said, "I need cookie now."  And the boy got a cookie.

Merry Christmas from our family to you!!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

"Careful. Don't schlip!"

(And if you can guess the title of that movie, give yourself ten points.)

Nothing says winter-time-family-togetherness like heading out on the ice.  No, we didn't go ice fishing.  For obvious reasons, not the least of which is the serious lack of diaper changing stations out on lakes these days.

Instead, we took advantage of the incredibly nice weather and the TINY bit of snow we had to take out the sled.  The kiddos have been begging (at least those who can talk) to use the sled but Hubby has strictly forbidden sled use on bare gravel.  Something about scraping the bottom of the sled, I don't know I kinda tuned out but I'm sure Kiddo1 could re-tell the tale in exquisite detail.  (Say that 5 times fast!)

We loaded up the sled with the girls.

 Kiddo2 looked heavenward begging for more snow.

 Really, this is all the snow we had.  I say had because the next day it was 47 degrees and now we have none.

Kiddo1 soon realized that it was more fun to give than receive, sled rides that is.  Kiddo3 hung on for dear life.

 We followed Hubby down to our lake where he has a hole to catch minnows for his ice fishing endeavors.

We all cheered him on as he sawed a bigger hole in the ice.  He was installing a prototype solar collector over the top of the hole to keep it from freezing.  He's not sure of the result, but if it's worth doing, it's worth doing poorly first!
For those of you fearful that my kids would fall through the ice (Hi Mom!), it was at least a foot thick.

The Little Grey Mouse (aka Kiddo3) loved, LOVED her first sled ride.  Laughing and waving her hands and trying to scoot the sled while we were stopped.

(And, yes, for those of you very observant readers, we did switch sleds mid-walk.  The baby sled was much safer for Kiddo3 and since everyone else wanted to walk.  Well, it just made sense!)

So, with winter upon us, we don't have a lot going on farm-wise.  But that's good, we all need a rest and even though sawing through the ice is hard work, it leads to ice fishing which is very fun!  And tasty!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

All I Want For Christmas

Hubby informs me the other day that he hasn't gotten me anything for Christmas.  AND he doesn't know what to get me.  

Apparently, the list I left on the fridge entitled "My Christmas/Birthday List" has not made a strong enough statement.  

So, because Hubby is a faithful reader of this blog (and not of notes left on fridges), here are the Top 10 Things I Want for Christmas this year.  In no particular order:

1.  A clean house.  Yes, I want you to find the magic fairy, steal her wand and wave it over my domicile.  Or get me a scoop shovel...

2.  A milk cow.  And seeing as dairy products are our #1 grocery expense, certainly spending at least $1000 will be a wise investment.  Plus, there's room in the hoop-coop!

3.  A pair of boots.  Not Muck boots or galoshes, but the really cool stylish boots.  Of course, that would require that I also receive calves that aren't the size of tree trunks...but on the other hand, you've said more than once you're glad you married a "sturdy" wife!

4.  A Lonesome Dove marathon.  Because nothing says the holidays like a cross country cattle drive.  "'By God, Woodrow!"  "Did you give that boy your name before you left Montana?"  "No, but I gave him my horse and I set more stock in that horse than I do my name."  Ahhhh, I could probably quote the greatest western of all time by heart (all due respect to Louis L'Amour, of course)

5.  The complete boxed-set, collector's edition, ultimate fan CD package of Alabama, the Statler Brothers, and the Oak Ridge Boys greatest hits.  I know it's hard to find because EVERYONE and their sister is going to want one.  Well, I know MY sister and brother would want one...oom poppa oom pappa mow mow.

6.  The M*A*S*H - Martinis and Medicine boxed set.  Yup, the whole shebang.  Hands down, my favorite TV show of all time.  You can't beat Hawkeye, Hot Lips, Radar or Colonel Potter.  Don't even try.  I have it on good authority that it is still available on eBay.  Start bidding.  

(I must admit, I'm a bit distracted by the Statler Brothers marathon I've got going on YouTube.  Jimmy Fortune can wail like no one else.  Except for me in my car.  Hubby dislikes them, how I wish I'd known THAT before the aisle-walking, and says that all their songs sound the same.  And I say, if it ain't broke...I'm Atlanta Blue.)

7.  To take a shower by myself.  No one peeking in to see "who's in dere?" or wanting to join me.  Just me and 40 gallons of hot water heaven.

8.  A brown Christmas.  Really, I wouldn't mind at'all!  I would like a 6 foot drift of snow on my garlic and strawberry patches.  But other than that, brown is beautiful!

9.  To go back here.  With you.  And cake.  (And the Statler Brothers.)

10. And if all the above should fall through, there's always THIS.  (Not the one-piece snowsuit, I had that in 3rd grade.  But I would take her calves, they're not as tree-trunky as mine...)   I love you, Hubby!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Today is my dad's birthday

(For those of you who are looking for my witty farm posts about naked chickens and other happenings, I promise they'll be back.  I just wanted to share this matter on my heart.)

Today is my dad's birthday.  He would have been 73.

Two nights ago I dreamt that he was still here, laughing with me, sitting at his end of the table.  Then I woke up and the pain of his absence hit me and I cried.  And cried.

Sometimes the pain is so great that I can barely breathe.

How is that I can go on without him?  Without the earthly father that I loved.  Without the earthly father who loved me.

The only reason, the ONLY reason I can smile and laugh and live is that I know without a shadow of a doubt where my father lives.  He lives in heaven.  He LIVES!  My father accepted Jesus's sacrifice of death on the cross as payment for his sins.  My dad wasn't perfect, no one is.  All, ALL have sinned and fallen short of the Glory of God.  Jesus, the one blameless and perfect, gave up His life on the cross so that we could be with Him...FOREVER.

My dad confessed his biggest fear was that God would forget him.  The God would not remember that he was there.  That God would not know him.  When I prayed over my dad, I asked that God would calm him.  Remind him that he was not forgotten.  Remind him that just as my dad would never forget me, God would never forget one of His children.  Instantly, my dad's breathing calmed and he rested more comfortably.

Do you have that calm?  Do you know, without a doubt, what will happen when you die?

There is a place for you, for each of us in heaven.  You cannot earn your way there, you can not give enough to get there, you can not do enough to get there.  You can only surrender your life to God, acknowledge your sins, ask Him to forgive you, to live within you, to take over your life.  There is no other way.  HE is THE WAY, the truth and the light.

I have the assurance that I will see my beloved daddy again.  I have the assurance that his death was not the end, but only the beginning of eternity with God.  There is no better place, there is no better ending.

Today is my dad's birthday.  And though we will never celebrate together again here on earth, when we are reunited in heaven there will much rejoicing.

I'd like you to be there with us.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Today is my birthday

Today is my birthday.  And for the first time in 35 years, my dad won't be calling me and singing "Happy Birthday".  You need to know what a big deal it was for him to do that.  He didn't even sing in church.  Yes, he'd sing along with the Statler Brothers, but never on his own.

When I was growing up, he sang before I went to school.  When I moved out and went to college and out into the big world, he and mom would call me bright and early in the morning and when I'd pick up the phone, they'd start singing.  I looked forward to it every year.  I'd take the cordless phone to bed with me because I knew they would be calling.

One year, they didn't call in the morning.  I called Dad (mom was at school) to ask him something and never mentioned my birthday.  He called back that afternoon, apologizing for forgetting to call and sing.  He didn't realize the date until he wrote out a check.

And this year, I won't hear his voice.  And my heart breaks.

When I was born, I came home from the hospital on my dad's birthday, exactly a week later.  The best present he ever got.

How will I get through this day?  I don't know.

But I'm going to deliver eggs to our wonderful customers who support our dreams.  I'm going to pick out a Christmas tree and decorate it with my kids.  I'm going to get my free birthday dinner at Paradiso.  And I'm going to miss my dad.  Oh, how I'm going to miss him.

I'm kinda hoping my mom doesn't call.  I don't think I could stand to hear her sing alone...

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Yes, Virginia, there really is an Uncle Joel...

It was a cold Sunday in February.  I had just finished presenting at a local food conference.  Hubby was at work, the same place he'd worked for the past 12 years.  He called at 4:30 and said he was coming home. I asked why.  (His shift didn't end until 7.)

He said "I've been laid off."  Those words echoing even after he'd hung up...

What were we going to do?  I was a stay-at-home mom.  His job was our only income and our insurance.  We had two kids under the age of two.

We cried, we prayed, we asked God to help us.  To show us what we do now, because we didn't know.

We had recently watched the movie "Food Inc." and saw a farmer in there that caught our attention.  His name was Joel Salatin from Polyface Farm in Virginia.  I googled him late one night and found that not only was he a farmer, he wrote books.  And I read books.

I ordered, then and there, Pastured Poultry Profits and You Can Farm.  Hubby started reading PPP and I read You Can Farm.  I read all 486 pages in two days.  We devoured these books.  This was what we were to do, we were going to be grass farmers!

What you have to understand is that both Hubby and I were raised on conventional farms.  I've tank mixed chemicals, cultivated summer fallow and fed feedlot calves.  Not only did we read these regenerative agriculture, land healing books...they spoke to our souls!  THIS is how we should farm.  THIS is how we should feed, not only our family, but our community.

We immediately made plans to start.  We planned to increase our vegetable CSA, get laying hens, do pastured broilers.  Hubby, who had never been around livestock of ANY kind, took the poultry head on and read all he could.

We all have those keystone moments in our lives, a moment in time we can point to that life fundamentally changed for us.  Ours is the first weekend in February, 2010.  We have all of Joel Salatin's books, we read them often.  We give them as gifts.  We quote his "Joel-isms" in our daily vernacular.  In fact, we refer to him as "Uncle Joel" because he is such a part of our life.

This past weekend, we had the pleasure of hosting Joel on his visit to ND.  Hubby and I took him to dinner on Saturday night.  It's always risky meeting someone that you admire.  Someone who literally changed your life.  But Mr. Salatin did not disappoint.  Oh no, he encouraged, inspired, entertained.  And judging by our laughter and conversation, just maybe we did the same for him.