What a Feeling

I have had an evasive feeling of late – in a good and pleasing way.  Evasive in the deep, shadowy depths of my inner being.  Feelings of joy, contentment, and peace that I cannot put into words.

The feelings of joy hover and flit like butterflies in springtime.  I cannot capture them, yet they are all around me as I move through my days.  There is the joy of seeing piglets born.  Joy in multi-colored chicken eggs filling a basket once again as spring inches closer each day.  Joy in the purr of a cat curled at my side as I drift off to sleep.  Joy in the prancing antics of a spoiled cow as he awaits his morning hay and grain.  Joy while sitting in the hay with piglets who are intent on nibbling every last protruding object off your coat, boots, and jeans.  Joy in the glow of the warm, crackling fire in the woodstove that pushes back against the cold and damp air that chills your bones.  Joy in spending the days teaching our daughter life skills, history, math, science, animal care – knowing she is safe and happy.  Joy in baking, cooking, and laundry that whispers, “You are blessed to have a family to care for.”  Joy in visiting our neighbor’s baby goats and witnessing their immature antics.  Joy in having family close by to love.  Joy in living.

Contentment has settled deep within my heart of hearts.  Contentment in a quiet life where nature surrounds me.  Contentment in the daily routine of chores and school.  Contentment with all the Lord has so graciously blessed me with.  Contentment is not something I take for granted – it does not belong to those who rush through life.  It belongs to those who are able to slow down and savor the beauty that God created on this earth.  I am content with my place in this world.

Peace that passes all understanding.  Peace that no matter what happens in this broken and hurting world, my God is on His throne and nothing can touch me without His permission.  Peace that He is bigger than all the evil and corruption that has infiltrated our world, our country, and our communities.  Peace that soothes and comforts every day as I walk this journey of life.

I doubt I have expressed this sometimes overwhelming feeling well.  It grips my heart and dances away quickly before I can fully appreciate or express it.  I do hope, however, that you have caught a glimpse of the inner workings of my heart – a heart that is on the farm with my family and bound to the land that we call home.


A Guest Post

Today you will be reading my daughter’s description of her chore time.  Today temperatures were below zero with dangerous wind chills.  Some might think it cruel to have a 12 year old out in this kind of weather and having the responsibility of caring for livestock alongside her parents.  Let me assure you, readers, that we were toasty warm in our winter gear!  Enjoy this short guest post.

As I open the door, a big gush of cold air hits my face and I couldn’t breathe for a second.  I slowly walked out to the barn and heard a pig oink.  T-Bone, the cow, swings his large black head out from the corner of his barn stall.  He sticks his gray-colored tongue out to say, “Hi.”  When I get closer to his stall, he starts dancing and prancing around like a crazed buffalo.  It’s quite funny if you ask me.

Soon after, with a scoop of grain in my hand, I pour his feed into his big blue container and he slurps it up like he hasn’t eaten in years.  Next I give him a big pad of itchy hay.  As he eats, I scoop his large piles of poop making sure he has a clean area to rest.

I break the ice in his water trough and refill it so that he has something to cleanse his palette.  He finishes his grain and nudges my arm, licking my coat with his big sandpaper-like tongue.

I climb out of the stall to get some Wheat Thin crackers for him to munch on.  He tries to grab them with his tongue as I put them in his mouth.  I stay for a few minutes and scratch is big fuzzy body before I head inside to warm my toes and get ready for the day.


Great Expectations

As optimistic humans, we look forward to the new  year with great expectations.  We are going to eat healthier, exercise more, be more available to friends and family, draw closer to the Lord through disciplined Bible study, stay organized – the list can go on for pages.  In reality, what happens is that we enter the year charged up and our new, improved selves falter in the daily grind of life.  So in my optimistic view on this New Year’s Day in 2018, I’d like to consider what this year may hold for our family and our farm.

I used to be a very organized person.  Then I got married.  Then a baby came along.  Then the farm evolved from dream to reality.  Then homeschooling began.  Organization sadly fell to the bottom of the never-ending list of things to do.  Little by little I have been clawing my way back to being an organized person.  I can proudly say that as of this exact moment, I am organized for the year ahead.  My menu for January is complete, the groceries for the first half of the month are bought, the year-end paperwork for the farm is complete, plans are made for spiritual growth, and our homeschool plan is in place.  I have great expectations that this stellar accomplishment can continue at least into the first week of February.

Eating healthy – well, healthier food consumption is always at the top of the list.  And I have a plan for that, too.  Menu planning is helpful, portion control is vital, and having the ingredients on hand for healthy snacks and meals is key.  I am pumped up and ready to tackle those junk food cravings and win the battle of the bulge.  I hear the mega-box of mini York Peppermint Patties calling – be right back!  My expectations for healthy eating are a little below the great rating.

The farm is organized chaos – there is no way to transfer the pretty visions of idyllic dreams into a concrete reality.  There is always a plan in place for growing the farm, keeping it well-maintained and attractive, and running smoothly.  It is with great frustration that the animals choose not to stick to the plan.  Life happens on the farm – babies are born and some die.  Hay needs to be cut and the weather wasn’t notified to cooperate.  Equipment fails and puts everything else on hold while it is repaired.  Plans have been made for improving the chicken coop and run.  Plans to add a couple of small-breed cows in the spring are in the works.  Plans are forming to improve our pastures and add fencing for rotational grazing.  We have great expectations for the farm this year – I expect those plans will last until our first farrowing of the year on January 18th.

I could go on with listing all the plans that are swimming around in my head, all vying for a coveted spot in reality.  Look forward to the year ahead and make those plans.  Great expectations are just that.  We are all optimists on January 1st.




It Must Be the British In Me

Today we have seen the last hurrah of Tropical Storm Nate pass through our area.  It has been breezy, overcast, and rainy.  It has been a sullen kind of day.  And I love it.

The sky has been changing all day – from the heavy black clouds that greeted me during chores this morning to a glimpse of sunshine and back to a steel gray, ominous sky this afternoon.  While many folks will just look out the window and see an overcast view, I see changing patterns of white and gray.  I see hundreds of varied shades of steely blue-gray piling up, stretching out, and moving away.  I see intricate cloud patterns that change within moments, never to be repeated again.  I see brilliant leaves, wet with rain, splash their colors against the sodden backdrop – and it is beautiful.

I love being outdoors when the mist begins to fall.  The clouds seem to envelope our farm and wash away the dust and pollen making the fading colors pop.  The mist is gentle and refreshing, not yet heavy enough to chase the chickens and pigs into their shelters and under trees and shrubs.  The breeze whispers of brisk, cold days to come as it caresses my damp arms and face – and it is refreshing.

I love being indoors as the rain begins falling heavily and the wind tosses falling leaves into every corner of our property.  Today was a productive day of baking and canning – warming the house and penetrating the air with the smells of freshly baked bread, currant pound cake, and the spicy smell of applesauce cooking on the stove.  I love these smells that speak of home and comfort, safety and plenty.

This is my favorite time of year.  Darkness comes earlier and the coziness of that early darkness ignites a warmth and joy deep within me.  The glow of lights, the spicy warmth of mulling cider, the savory aroma of roasting meat, the pungent smell of wood smoke mixed with dying leaves all combine into a glorious patchwork of fragrance that is only surpassed by the fresh, piney smell of Christmas.

Dark, damp, cold days are some of my favorite days.  It must be the British me.

Beauty in the Little Things

It has been a very busy summer here on the farm.  We’ve been adding critters left and right…or so it seems.  Piglets born in February, April, and July.  A calf born in April.  New chicks arriving non-stop for two weeks in June.  I do believe we are done for awhile.  During these busy times it is sometimes hard to slow down and appreciate the beauty that surrounds us even in the busy times.

During this hectic time I have taken my camera along to capture some of these treasured moments and I have shared them with my Facebook friends and family.  They are bombarded with pictures of glistening spider webs in the early morning sunshine, wildflowers swaying in the gentle breeze, new chick pictures almost daily filling their newsfeed.  There are pictures of colorful bugs and slimy slugs.   Images of pig snouts, mushroom sprouts, and wooded turn-outs.  The list goes on of the natural beauty that I capture with my camera during the most mundane tasks of farming.

Why do I take the time to capture these images?  Why do I continually post these images to Facebook?  Why do people continue to look at such ordinary images?  I’ll tell you what I think – I think that many people are not in a position to see the beauty in the ordinary.  They live in cities devoid of endless variety of natural life.  They are busy running from home to job to shuffling kids around to endless sports activities.  They live lives that are removed from the rhythm of nature and the heartbeat of country life.  I think in some small way I am bringing the beautiful into their lives – encouraging them to stop and see the intricacies of creation all around them.

I hope in some small way I am helping others to see a loving Creator that thoughtfully planned a beautiful world for His creatures to enjoy.  Take a moment and look around  you as you go out your door tomorrow.  See what beauty is in your own backyard – and relish every moment.


Tranquility, by definition, is the quality of being tranquil; calmness; peacefulness; quiet; serenity.  It is a quality that is sorely missing in today’s society of instant gratification, fast-paced living, and endless consumerism.  It is a quality I find every day on our little slice of heaven on earth.

Tranquility for me comes in many different forms.  There are times that calmness settles over me at a job that must be done – such as holding my old, dying hen while she breathes her last breath.  There is sadness, of course.  There is also a knowledge that she had a wonderful life on our farm.  She was loved and cared for.  She held a special place in my heart as one of my very first chickens – a chicken that always would stand behind me and peck at my boots, jeans, or shirt until I acknowledged her by reaching behind me to pet her.  That same mantle of calmness wraps itself around me hours later when making the decision to euthanize two other old and not-so-healthy hens.  A decision not taken lightly by any means – but a decision to sidestep a slow deterioration to death.  A swift end to birds entrusted to my care and protection.  Birds that had an amazing life and gave years of joy to our family.

Tranquility also comes in the form of quiet days lived without the constant noise and bustle of towns and cities.  It is choosing to say no to endless activity outside of our farm.   It is choosing to leave the radio and television off in order to communicate with each other as a family – to listen to the sounds of the farm and nature instead of the incessant noise of modern entertainment – and I use that term loosely.

Tranquility at is best is the peacefulness and serenity I find in the fields surrounding our house.  It is the gentle grunts of momma pigs as they call the babies to the milk bar for dinner.  It is the peeping and chirping of mother hens calling to the chicks to follow.  It is the sound of momma cow chewing her cud as her calf eagerly suckles his dinner.  It is the sound of crickets, bees, and all manner of insects busy among the flowers and grasses of our fields.  It is the peepers that sing their evening song as the cooling breeze floats through the open windows of our home.  It is the distant song of the birds in the woods bordering our fields that echo around me as I soak in the peace of nature.

If I could wish one thing for you, it would be that you take the time to stop, look, and listen to the beauty that surrounds you.  Pursue tranquility in this bustling, noisy world – and when you find it, don’t let go of it.  Return often to drink in the peacefulness that washes over your soul at the smallest delights that are all around us.

Building Fort Knox

It seems like forever since I have taken the time to sit down and write a blog post.  Spring is a busy time even on a tiny farm like ours.  And Mother’s Day weekend was no exception – it was memorable.

We decided to (finally) move our daughter’s 4H pigs out of the barn and into the pasture which is lush with spring grass.  The poor little guys had never known any home but the spacious stall in the barn since their birth in February.  It was definitely time!  We backed the borrowed stock trailer up to the barn doors and coaxed the little rascals with a quart of vanilla yogurt – one of their favorite treats.  In they went with no trouble.  We proceeded to unload them in our training pasture.  Let me pause here to explain what a training pasture is.

Our training area is a large double-fenced area where young piglets or new-to-us pigs learn what an electric fence is.  We have three strands of electric fence around the area and field fence/sheep fence/woven wire fence (whatever you want to call it) on the outside of that.  The reasoning behind a double fence is that when a piglet is shocked by the electric fence, they have an uncanny tendency to run forward and through the shocking wires, squealing as they run.  The field fence prevents such a daring escape and makes them back up and learn that the wire means danger and do not cross.  Lest you think we are sadistic executioners, I’ve been zapped several times and it really is no more painful than a bee sting – it just depends on where you happen to get zapped as to how effective it is.  So, our little guys were securely enclosed in the training run, enjoying the fresh grass, dirt, and country air so we went to pick up a new-to-us tractor.

Three hours later we arrive home to find the six foot gate ripped off it’s hinges and our boar Henry and his bride Ruby lounging back in the hut within the training run.  You see, Henry is a little possessive.  He had the training run first, and therefore it did not matter that he had a huge U-shaped pasture, new hut with fresh hay, new water tank, and food.  That was his hut, and he was going to stay there.  Needless to say, Trigger and Bullet (the piglets) were on the lam.  After much coaxing and gentle guidance, we were able to run them into the upper pasture – with electric fence only, no field fence.  We watched them for a bit to make sure they didn’t give us the slip and we were satisfied that they just might be okay there.

But – and there is always a but – we had to castrate our youngest male piglets that morning.  Did I mention that piglets squeal very, very loudly when you pick them up?  Well, lets just say that Trigger and Bullet were not impressed with the squealing coming from the direction of our front pasture.  You can imagine what happened next – the discovery was made that they made a prison break.  Did I mention that it was raining all day Saturday?  Did I mention that we live on top of a hill?  Did I mention that we have acres of woods adjoining the pasture?  Did I mention the little stinkers were free and enjoying being elusive?  Hours.  And I mean hours later, soaked to the skin and looking like drowned rats, we found them at the bottom of our ravine next to the bridge.  It was like watching the Pied Piper – my in-laws on their 4-wheeler leading two naughty pigs out of the woods.  After another round of coaxing and gentle pushing, they were back where they belonged.

To make a long story short, the following two days were spent on pins and needles.  Constant vigilance to make sure they were staying where they belonged (and they didn’t).  And Fort Knox was built.  Yes, we purchased more field fence and made yet another pig proof training run.  They have learned their boundaries and have settled nicely into their pasture.  They are happily digging in the cool, damp earth making their cooling mud pits.  The are nibbling on the long grasses and clover as they explore.  They are happy little pigs – as is Henry.  He remains King of the Pasture, fat and content in his throne room with his Queen beside him.

And did you also know that Fort Knox was built in a day?