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Thursday, June 30, 2011
First I take a sheet of dried seaweed and fold it in half. Then I bend it backwards and fold it in half again, along the same fold. This creasing and re-creasing will break it in half.
Then I take a scoop of warm rice and place it on the seaweed. Seasoned rice is delicious! In this example I have used leftover red clover rice that was featured in a blog post earlier this week.
And before you know it, you're done!
Sunday, June 26, 2011
Last winter we (ok, not me – it was Papa the Farmer) planted crimson clover in the vegetable beds as a cover crop. So right now we have an abundance of these beautiful red flowers! I know just enough about herbs to know that I have something really special here, but I wasn’t quite sure what to do with it.
So I did what any modern, self-respecting Farmlady would do. I posted the question on Facebook! And here are some ideas I came up with:
Red Clover Rice:
I was a little bit unsure about this, but It turned out really good! It was a bit sweet and it would make an interesting breakfast dish. First I put a pot of brown rice on the stove to boil. (I used 6 cups of uncooked rice and 18 cups of water). In the meantime I went down to the garden and picked red clover blossoms. (Note to self: Good thing I had a visitor here to turn down the stove! It took longer in the garden than I expected and I could have had a big mess!)
When the rice was almost ready I added 1 1/2 cups of olive oil. I think I probably should have added half that amount… or maybe even just a third or a quarter of that amount. Anyway, I also added 3 tsp of salt. Then I just poured the flowers in the pot:
The flowers got soft and sort of broke apart, but it gave the rice a lovely, slightly sweet flavor. We ate the rice as a side dish the first day…
The second day we rolled it up into sheets of seaweed and made “sushi.”
Wednesday, June 15, 2011
But a spiritual journey is never without its practical implications.
Our farm’s first birthday is a good time to evaluate how far we’ve come and where we want to go. I’ve been thinking a lot this past week and I have some exciting surprises up my sleeve! While I work at getting those ready for you, I am going to be posting a series of articles on some of the practical steps we have taken to bring us where we are today. These steps have been so helpful to us and I know they could help anybody!
My life changed dramatically when Papa the Farmer came home. Suddenly I went from being a housewife and mother to being a housewife, mother, homeschool teacher, FarmLady and student! (I had realized that with more knowledge and skills I could really help to support Papa the Farmer’s dream and so I signed up for some fabulous courses in Nutrition, Herbalism and Holistic Health!) With all this going on, I needed to get organized! After all, a big goal in having a family farm was to simplify our life… and for a while, my life wasn’t feeling very simplified.
Over the past year, Papa the Farmer and I have gone crazy reading and studying about how to take a crazy idea and be successful at it. This coming week, I would like to share with you a little of what I have learned.
#1 – Set Goals. Write them Down. Be Detailed about HOW and WHEN You Will Achieve Them.
If you don’t write down your goal, the 3D’s will hit you: You’ll get distracted, you’ll be derailed and then you’ll be discouraged. The mere act of writing your goals down on paper cements them into your brain. Life will throw distractions your way, but it will be easier to get back on track if you have taken the time to think through your new plan.
One of my goals is to raise Godly children. Ok, that’s a great and lofty goal, but how am I going to actually do that? Well, I have a basket prepared for our family worship times. Each morning I sit with my children and we study one page from a book (with accompanying flashcards) called Proverbs People (by Rick and Marilyn Boyer). My Bible is in the basket too, so it is handy for reading the passages in Proverbs to the children. The other thing we keep in our basket is our family’s Blessings journal so we can discuss what we have to be thankful for and record it together. By putting everything in one place I have set myself up for success! We won’t get distracted by looking for the book we need and a pen that writes…. it’s all in the basket! I have also made a commitment to myself to only discipline after I have consulted a book called For Instruction In Righteousness. This is a book that helps me to direct my discipline to the specific area that I am trying to correct. I don’t keep this book on the bookshelf, where it will get mixed up with other books. Instead I keep it inside one of my kitchen cupboards where I can grab it quickly and easily. You see? With an actual plan to implement, each day I am able to take another little step closer toward reaching my goal!
Papa the Farmer used to be good friends with Kalpana Chawla (the astronaut who died when the Columbia exploded. For a neat YouTube video about her life, click here). She would always tell people “Reach for the stars!” Now there’s advice from a lady who knows what she’s talking about! Who would have thought that a little girl from rural India really would grow up to realize her dream of flying through the stars?
What are your goals? Do you have a plan to achieve them? Please leave a comment telling me about it! Hearing from you would make my day!
Thursday, June 9, 2011
Once we had decided that this is what God is calling us to do, Satan got busy testing us to see how serious we were about keeping Papa the Farmer closer to home.
Well, I don’t know if it was Satan. God allowed it all. Maybe God wanted us to see what kind of level of commitment we would need to stick this thing out. Maybe Satan wanted me to get so frustrated with this whole experience that I finally gave up and begged my husband to go back into software (which we were already sure is not God’s plan for our family). Whoever was responsible, there were many, many times that I did want to give up. Many, many times that I wanted to yell in frustration and go running back to the nice comfortable way that my life had been. Many times that I wanted to scream at the world, “This is NOT MY dream!!!”
Whether it was God or Satan, this has been the most difficult year of my life.
We have had an extra member of the family living with us. I don’t write about him much, but his name is Murphy. You may have heard of him. He is famous for “if it can go wrong it will” and this year he’s been living at our house.
Murphy broke the washing machine.
Murphy broke the fridge.
Murphy broke our kitchen table.
Murphy broke our dishwasher.
Murphy burst the pipes under the house.
Murphy burst a water pipe out in the field and caused a really expensive flood.
Murphy caused a problem with the propane tank that took weeks to get fixed. (See that picture of our supper cooking on the woodstove? That was not something we did for fun!)
Murphy killed a lot of the vegetables in our garden. He killed some trees in the orchard, too.
Murphy dislocated one person’s shoulder and was the reason for another family member’s visit to the after hours care clinic.
Murphy has been busy. These are just a few examples of the tricks he’s been up to. Every week this year – sometimes every day – Murphy has made his presence known.
So imagine my complete surprise the other night when Papa the Farmer said, “This has been the best year of my life.”
I just looked at him. I didn’t know how to politely say, “Umm…. Have we met?” Who was this stranger climbing in to bed with me? Obviously he was not somebody who had just lived through the same year that I lived through.
So he explained. “Yes, this year has been hard and we need to make some changes for this upcoming year…. but at the end of my life, I will never regret that I spent so much time with the family this year, especially while the children are little.”
Well, that’s true. His handyman work has allowed either him to come home for lunch or us to go meet him somewhere for lunch most days. In the past 365 days, we have eaten at least two meals a day with him. When he was a software engineer we only ever used to eat with him on the weekends.
And it has been a blessing to see the children “working” with their father. I recognized that even in the very earliest days of our farm… back when I was secretly hoping this would only last a week or two.
I remember one day when we were all out in the yard working. FarmBoy was only 3 years old, but he had his little shovel out and was busy working alongside Papa the Farmer. FarmGirl was already 5 years old and she was helping to haul leaves and branches in her little wheelbarrow.
We were together. We were working. And we were happy.
I thought to myself, “What a great day this has been! Someday we will look back on this and remember, ‘Wasn’t it great? The children were little and we got to spend that time together outside.’ These are the days that we will look back on and say ‘Those really were the good old days…’”
And that was the moment that we named our farm. We chose “The Good Old Days Farm” as our name because I never want to lose sight of the fact that even though sometimes everything around me feels like it’s falling apart… these are the days that I am going to look back on and smile… so I need to enjoy them… today. Right now.
So, yes, Murphy has been busy.
But God has been busy, too.
God provided us with an amazing deal on an almost-new washer and dryer set that works way better than the old one ever did! He also led us to a great deal on a new fridge, helped us find a propane company that has better prices and better customer service than the old one, helped us find the problems with the computer, telephone and internet and inspired the water company to cut that outrageously sickening water bill (from the flood) in half.
God didn’t fix our dishwasher, but he changed my heart about washing dishes by hand and now I almost enjoy the process. (Almost.)
He also sold the old table to an antique restorer for $40. So we got rid of a nasty table, acquired a beautiful new table and came out $40 ahead in the process.
God has kept our family safe and healthy. I know of people whose children are sick or have died this past year. God has put these people in my life over the past year and it has forever changed the way I parent. For that I am deeply humbled and grateful. (**Hugs** to the parents I just linked to! You are a daily inspiration to me and your influence makes my family’s life better in a very real way. You have demonstrated to me how God is in control of the most difficult parts of our lives and gives abundant grace to fill our need. You personify abundant grace to me.)
God has also blessed me with the most incredible group of women in the form of a Bible Study. During Papa the Farmer’s software years, he was gone so much that I could not join a Bible Study. For most of those years we were a one-car family and because he took that one car to work, I hardly ever left the house after I had children. Those were very lonely years. I spent years praying that I would find friends (more than 1 or 2) in Texas. This year I have been able to attend a weekly Bible Study of homeschooling mothers. These women inspire me. I love that we laugh together. I love that we cry together. And most of all, I love that when I get convicted that I should do something that I don’t really want to do, they kick me in the backside and tell me I’d better get to it! I truly could not have made it through this past year if God had not put these women in my life at exactly the right moment. (By the way… If you are wondering how you can find such an amazing group of women in your community, the answer is prayer! I found this Bible Study by randomly meeting a lady at Walmart. God can use any circumstance to guide us to where we need to be.)
So, this year has been horrible and wonderful, all at the same time. I guess the best word to describe the past twelve months is “intense.” My spiritual journey this year has been… intense. We have been looking to God and He has fulfilled our needs in every way. If I have had a theme song this year, it would be this one that I learned as a child….
He owns the cattle on a thousand hills,
The wealth in every mine;
He owns the rivers and the rocks and rills,
The sun and stars that shine.
Wonderful riches, more than tongue can tell -
He is my Father so they're mine as well;
He owns the cattle on a thousand hills -
I know that He will care for me.
Thank you for bearing with me as I have reflected on the past year and the events that led up to where we are now. Coming up in this series are some articles that you will find to be much more practical! Stay tuned for those and don’t forget that we have some giveaways coming up to celebrate the Good Old Days Farm’s first birthday!
Sunday, June 5, 2011
Yesterday I wrote about the huge pile of mulch that is sitting in our side yard right now.
That picture, looks suspiciously like the picture from my very first post on this blog. Except that pile was 16 yards of composted horse manure.
I am learning that farming is cyclical. Everything changes, but it all comes back again. The same, and yet different.
This June marks one year since Papa the Farmer received his final software paycheck. I think now is a good time to write about this past year. It’s good for my soul to write about it, and it will bring those of you who have only recently found this blog up to speed about our story. So let me start at the very beginning….
A few years ago our life was very different from how it is today. We had long felt that God wanted us to raise our children in the country. We started looking for our country home when I was pregnant with our first child. Every weekend we would go out driving in the country looking at houses we had seen on real estate listings, or just driving down country roads looking for a “For Sale By Owner” sign in a front yard. We toured hundreds of houses. By the time FarmGirl was born we still had not found our home. But the day I brought her home from the hospital was the same day that the water company started construction on a water treatment plant right across the street for our little house! The very same day. God was telling us, “MOVE.” So we intensified the search.
We continued to live in that little house for another 18 months still searching and searching for our country home. In the meantime, the construction on the water treatment plant progressed steadily. Every day we watched dumptrucks and bulldozers, caterpillars and backhoes going back and forth doing their work. We had a great view from any of our front windows! FarmGirl learned to take her naps through the infernal noise involved in building a water treatment plant. I got used to the weekly inconveniences of having the electricity turned off for an afternoon or the water turned off for a day or the telephone turned off for a week… And everyone just learned to live with the way the house would shake from the vibrations of the construction.
And then one day we found it! A little house in the country on 5 acres. It didn’t have most of the features we wanted. There was no dining room, no laundry room, no storage space, no homeschooling space, a strange layout, no useable workshops, both bathrooms needed extensive remodeling, the kitchen was decorated in a terrible pink and silver color scheme and it was a 1 hour commute to work for my husband… but it had a great front porch, it was on 5 whole acres and the instant we walked in we knew it was home. After two years of looking, this house just felt right.
So in June of 2006, we bought it. Now we only had the minor detail of trying to sell our previous home. It was a cute little house, but it was now directly across the street from a water treatment plant. I mean, really? Who would want to live there?
We moved into our current house that August on faith, knowing that God wanted our children to be further out in the country. Since God wanted us to move, He would have to sell the other house. We listed the house in October and then we waited.
On Christmas Eve we got a phone call. There was a family en route to Texas from California. They would be arriving that night and they needed a house to live in. Could they buy ours for full asking price sight unseen? Oh, and could they move in that night and rent it from us until we could get the deal closed? Oh, and one last thing… Could they also buy the sofa, chair, fridge and baby crib that we hadn’t moved yet? (We said “no” to the baby crib because FarmBoy had just been born, but “yes” to everything else!)
Now, isn’t it just like God to sell our house AND our extra furniture on Christmas Eve?
I admit, I was inclined to wonder…. Who in their right minds would want a house right across the street from a water treatment plant that was also near a noisy railway exchange station? Would this family spend a week in our house and then change their minds? No. Our backyard backed up to the purchaser’s brother’s home. Before the real estate deal had been closed, the two families had already torn down the fence between the properties and installed a gate so that all the cousins could run back and forth…
God had put both our families right where we needed to be!
A few years went by. Papa the Software Engineer left home at 5 am every morning to go to work one hour away in the city. He got home around 8 pm. I kept the children up late so they would see their father and our schedule was not what it should have been. Our family was living in the country like we felt God wanted us to, but Papa the Software Engineer was really living in the city and only sleeping in the country. Sometimes he would go for an entire week without seeing the house in the daylight. It was dark when he left and dark when he came home again. Sometimes he would go for a day or two without seeing one of the children. Everyone was asleep when he left and the baby might have fallen asleep before he got home again.
One day when I was about 7 months pregnant with FarmBaby, Papa the then-software-engineer dropped the bomb.
“You know what I want to do with my life?”
“This.” I said. I knew our life wasn’t perfect, but whose life is?
“I wanna be a farmer.”
Now this is the point in the story where some of you might not believe me. I get a lot of emails from my blog readers saying that I am living their dream…. but it is not my dream. Let me tell you, there was some yelling in our house that night. Words like “crazy,” “responsible people don’t do this!” and “midlife crisis” definitely spun around our kitchen. I begged him to not do anything rash or crazy like quit his job. I was convinced we were going to starve to death. I emailed other local farmers and they all said the same thing: That this lifestyle we were about to embark on was crazy, there’s no money in it, you probably can’t support a family and they love it. So Papa the Farmer and I agreed that he would not do anything until after the baby was born.
By the time the baby was born, Papa the Software Engineer was involved in a big project at work. I breathed a sigh of absolute relief, sure that this passing flirtation with a mid-life crisis was over.
A year later another round of layoffs came. He told me, “If I don’t get laid off this time, I’m going to ask them to lay me off and let somebody else stay.” It was time for a change.
So, we started farming one year ago.
Check back later this week for Part 2 of our story! I will also be hosting a very special Giveaway at the end of this series of articles so be sure to stay tuned for that too!
Saturday, June 4, 2011
A few days ago, this came rolling up my driveway:
Not once. They came about 5 times. That is a picture of the guys who trim tree branches away from the electrical lines for the electric company. So guess what they brought us.
Yeah. Mulch. A lot of it. Normally, they pay to dispose of it somewhere, but if they can find an enthusiastic farmer with an unsuspecting wife, that works out better for everybody!
I don’t think pictures can adequately illustrate just how much mulch can fit in 5 truckloads. Somehow, it just looks bigger in real life.
There is a lot of mulch here. (Did I say that already?) And it is decomposing. Because that is what branches do when you cut them off a tree. Decomposition creates heat. (How did I get a degree without ever learning that?). One day shortly after they brought all this mulch it rained:
And our mulch pile actually started producing steam! Which is great, because we homeschool and we love volcanoes! But I really wasn’t
hoping expecting to have a volcano of our very own in the side yard.
Of course we all had fun digging holes and sticking our hands down there! It was surprisingly hot!
Papa the Farmer and I have a bargain. I agree to let him do this crazy farming thing and he agrees to keep my pretty yard from turning into an eyesore. I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again…. I think he’s not keeping his end of the deal!
Fine Print: Don’t worry! This was not dangerous or a fire hazard. This was steam, not smoke. Everything was wet, and necessary precautions were taken in case something were to catch on fire… Like, if somebody thought it was a good idea to come over and smoke on mulch pile or something.) =)
Thursday, June 2, 2011
#1 All-Time-Favorite Parenting Resource.
If you can only buy one book (in addition to the Bible) in all the years of raising your children, this is the book to buy! No, I don’t get any commission or benefit of any sort by telling you to buy this book. It’s just that this book has completely defined the way I parent. When a Little Farmhand misbehaves, I don’t need to think to myself, “I can’t believe you are behaving this way and completely embarrassing me!!! What is wrong with you??? You must get this from your father’s side of the family!!!” This book gives me all the tools I need to deal with sin in my children’s hearts in a way that honors God, respects my children, and keeps me from going crazy.
Doesn’t that almost sound like magic? So what is this wonderful book?
Our little baby cardinals have left the nest, and the Giveaway is now over. Honestly, the enthusiasm generated by this particular giveaway was a little underwhelming. I thought everyone would be as excited about it as I was! But I suppose baby birds on a blog are not as exciting as babies in your very own tree! But, I know that the winner will be very excited, because these are really great notebooking pages!
Karen is our winner! Congratulations, Karen. The files will be emailed to you!