Sunday, May 13, 2018

A strange post for Mother's Day, An Ode to the Chicken Neck eaters

So in my Devotional this morning.  "God's Words of Life on Joy for Mothers" published by Zondervfan, I read several thoughts but this one captures me:

"Rejoice in the Lord your God, for He has given you the autumn rains because He is faithful. He sends you abundant showers, both autumn and spring rains, as before. — Joel 2:23"  

God will provide for us! Hallelujah! Though it seems to me that there is a beginning of the awful time when our real life farm is thirsty.  There are little bits of dust storms about as the breeze blows.  I walk around a bit and return home with a dirty, dusty face.

I must remember that God IS Faithful.... I don't often "go to preaching" on our farm page blog..... But I just must this morning. 

I ponder/wonder, how much of the world was agrarian when Jesus walked the earth? Certainly the vast majority and then the tradesman, craftsman, land owners, royalty.... But, the stories in the Bible still speak.  

Maybe since our society is so far removed from food production/supply, we perhaps do not understand first hand basis the Biblical references to food as fully as if we had our hands in the soil as a steward of His Land.  Most farmers I know understand the impact and dependence on God for our every need - from the basics of food and water to far far beyond that.Though we plan and pray and do all we can, put in wells, have supplies, we are helpless in certain storms.  We cannot stop the rain, fierce winds, hales, fires.

The miracle of the Word of God is that it can speak to all populations, generations later, no matter what it does for a living, its hobbies, customs, politics.

There appeared to be few ways to preserve food from season to season back in the day....unless honey was used as a preservative. Spices would have been a rarity except for the very wealthy.  No freezers, no freeze dried, no vacuum sealers or canning  and No Tupperware.....  Honey was a preservative.  Only the wealthy seemed able to store up grains and foods for years.  And those folks were warned in general fashion about storing up things that could rot or rust, etc.

What did those references to milk and honey flowing mean for a society ;arge;u dependent and food frail from day to day.   It truly would be almost an unbelievable experience,  it would represent a miraculous blessing.    The everyday person did not have the luxury of having food stored for the future.  Even if they had resources either to barter and buy,  markets were not on every corner. They depended heavily on the day to day gathering of food - the catching of fish, the grains picked, the olives and figs etc.  They knew it had to be there or they would thirst and starve to death.  In a way they were so blessed in a strange way.   Because only the rich could call anything theirs.   The impoverished, the financially downtrodden were ready and prepared to accept the Miracles of God's love.  They knew that they had to have God's beneficial rains, waters, soils, etc.  Manna from Heaven, they would grasp!

The agrarian society understood that if the crops were not there, they would not eat.  And that even in Biblical times they would be specialty taxed on everything living - on all the animals for example.  Taxes before eating.....

The crops were not theirs alone, they were in large part seized by authoritarians known as rulers and tax collectors.  Part of the tax structure was to take the very crops from the farmer.   So the farmer felt the pressure of feeding his family because the Earthly Kings and their large and indulgent households had to be fed first.  

With fast food on most every corner with quick meals, pizza and general stors with frozen foods, our society doesn't really get a sense of priorities.  We too often live as if there was not a farm anywhere.  We are warned over and over not to be hoarders but per capita the US has more storage units than any other.  We are "stuffing" way too much.

We are warned that things will rot and rust but it doesn't seem like it is being heard in our society, as rental storage units are at a high time occupancy rate.   How can we store items we are not using for years? 

If only we could release ourselves from those possessions and give these items away and benefit others with "our stuff".  As I get older and a little wiser (sometimes), I realize I do not have to have all the mementoes of my youth.  It was a major step to get rid of the yearbooks, still got more to go.  It helps to move more frequently as stuff has a way of accruing on a farm that we might need someday.   

A good junk farm scavenger with a bookshelf headboard has free chicken boxes, if they ever get made..   The past year, I've been trying to clean the barn and find myself putting items back for future needs.  Oops.

The Bible does guide us to think on God's word's and study them day and night. Psalm 1:2.... That we are to meditate on God's Law, day and night, not Man's Law....    Sometimes,  I have verses that come to me and sometimes they comfort, sometimes they rebuke, teach, guide, humble.  In times of worry or concern I am reminded of God's presence for all my needs. 

Certainly this verse rings true for the non farmer as well.   For the person whose house was hit by a fire, for those who see a forest out of control burning and coming toward them. For those who are facing heat exhaustion in the heavy weight in the heat beating upon their body.  As we all watch with concern hundreds of acres destroyed by fire, flood, etc.

The answer is always the Same:   God will provide.  His Way, His Time, and it will happen whether we recognize it or not.  It's better when we do, because then we become even more deeply aware of God beyond the Bible or the teachings.  When we can embrace the Blessings to our very core - to our soul, then we learn and grow in His Grace as we acknowledge that all Good comes from Him, the fount of all knowledge. 

But whether or not we acknowledge Him, He blesses us just the same.   We never "earn" His blessings.   He loves us all the same.  

And that is so like the Godly Mother's Love.   She has no favorites among her children.  She finds time for each of them and Love rows not divides in her household.  Her sacrifices of sleep, energy and even that last piece of pie are all about Pure Love.   

Fact: Granny greatly exaggerated her love of fried Chicken necks.  Now I know it was least favored of all pieces of the chicken.  But to her it was a happy freewill sacrifice, so she could send those wonderfully fried meaty pieces on to her family while still participate in the meal.  If you've ever eaten a chicken neck, and I have, it takes a really long time to eat it   Granny knew that!

To all you chicken neck eaters, I respect and admire you and Hope you have the most beautiful Mother's Day ever. 

Monday, August 28, 2017

Taking nothing for granted.....

Plate of blessed pears - the unexpected fruit survived two late freezes

I take no fruit or veggie for granted. I hope you understand that old saying. I've had life long hearing loss a genetic thing not complaining just saying. and really I thought those hard old "cow apples" at Granny's were granite apples for the longest time.  And they sure felt like I ate granite when I ate them too green...😃

Over and over again, I learn lessons on the farm, that although apples may be in season somewhere, not many made it through in the South without smut pots burning etc. But the nights of the out of season freeze we had to rescue the strawberries already forming under the casual not very cold winter.  We could not rescue every fruit on the time for apples and peaches. 

In not taking things for granted, farmers learn that nothing is promised or granted from day to day.  Most of the small farmers I know have both faith & hope. Without the two, they could not farm very long. Although not blessed with financial riches - not any small farm I know, we are rich sometimes with philosophical or spiritual riches in our dependence on God's weather, God's time  Our farm believes in God - a benevolent and loving one.  My husband and I may different on certain theological points but on the issues of Christianity and its basics, we are one.  But only God knows the future or even who will breathe the next breath, or which seed will germinate.  The farmer works with God.  Whether the farm is in our name or on the debt papers,  the wise farmer knows we only farm the land for a while.  The farmer who looks at our world as God's creation tries to leave the soil richers than when he started and he or she must realize the next farmer may change everything begun before. Each farms but for a while.

Now, jump away from your day-to-day thinking and pretend with me that you are a farmer of your spiritual gifts and you are given 5 tomato plants representing five of your spiritual gifts. That's only one part of the process............. "Take no fruit or vegetable for granted" and apply it to everything in life, Wow,  would it be crazy if I just plant the tomatoes and go about my life..... expecting that somehow, the plant will be:
Cleaned for Market
Taken to Market
Preserved for Future Use - canned, dried, pickled, baked, frozen, etc

Pears canned for Refrigerator

Did I use my gifts (tomatoes) God gave me well?   Did I really do my part?  Or did my spiritual tomato plants just sit on a shelf, waiting to be planted and wilt and be not used at all.  Did I let in my world God come last after all else, instead of First.  The Bible has many agricultural examples....I love Matthew 13 and the parable about casting the seeds. Jesus spoke in parables to reach the people of the day who were largely agricultural.  He made examples using the words they spoke. 

As I have told many folks who plant backyard gardens,,,,,The planting of the tomato bearing not spiritual gift bearing is the least of it, the tending is the most.  And so I believe it is in life.  Some folks really believe everything will just come to them, effortlessly. Is it a sign of our times or just that parents gave the child everything and they never had to work at all.... This group can get shocked NOT to get the first job for which they applied.   Some folks quit on their little garden of life before even planting that tomato.  Some expect that life will be effortless, no struggles, no hard work and some people that those closest to God will be granted special wealths or healths which opposite of Biblical teaching.

Others quit at the first discouragement - the first slug, bug, competitor for the plant.

Others quit when it's too hard - sweaty, discouraging, too dry, too hot. Because you quit working them early in life. ..    

And then there are other, who clearly follow God's direction and no matter how difficult, they won't stop.   I have friends who became missionaries in their 40's and their 50's.  Wow!  And to places where they spoke none of the language and they were the first in their area.  

We are so comfort bound in our society that pushing our limits seems wrong in our society.  What? sweating in the summer when it's not necessary.   We constantly seek what is not before us.  We want heat in the winter and air conditioning in the summer.   I often wonder if we don't come up with more excuses on why we cannot do something than we can. We cannot be content.

Do we know our gifts and somehow wish to ignore them?  Or do we make another excuse, as I'm too old or something equally self demeaning.....   Not use them, as if to Say "God, wait, you don't know me,   I don't do public speaking at all.  You have the wrong person....."    I've heard that so many times......  

If we are discouraged along the way, it's probably appropriate, as we are either needing to tend our garden or look hard at the gifts we received and continue to receive from God.   Get some honest friends to sit and tell you what they see your spiritual gifts to be.  And have them write it on pieces of paper and give to you anonymously if they don't want to shock you. 

It's our focus that discourages us.  In my lifetime, and I consider it brief, well compared to a 100 years old,  I have heard so many excuses.    Do you find discouragement after being on the social networks for a while....   Drop them. Spend your time elsewhere.  Time spent on social networks can lead to a sense of negativity or even hostility as I've seen it.

Hesitating or delaying to take a challenge or do something new..... Once you tell me all the reasons you cannot do something,  I'm going to tell you, well, if you really believe God wants you to   Really are we afraid to use or talents or are we afraid to "fail"....

Said it before and say it again

"This second is my present, the next is God's" There are no guaranteed life expectancies. 

So if your "spiritual" gifts are all tomato plants - as a farout example, what matters is:

. How you tend it
. How you brace it up so it is not a ground runner
. How you protect it from competition - wild rabbits, raccoons, possums and yes even deer or a two legged human fence jumper
. And what your quality standards are - on our farm - generally the "customer gets  the best and farmer gets the rest".   
.Deciding to sell or keep
.Bringing it to market
.How to preserve for future use
. And when to go on to the next crop or skill.

So I wonder if you could be a farmer (at least pretend to be for just a moment) and God gave you special skills and talents - Oh let's just call them tomatoes...... 

How would you know your skills - what kinds of spiritual tomatoes did God give you?  Sometimes, it's NOT the thing of your proficiencies...  

Some spiritual skills you have to really work for -  Do you need to learn another language but find it hard? 

Do you "hoard" your skills and basically keep them to yourself or for a later date?    Are you putting off your volunteering for example until you retire..... We are not granted or guaranteed tomorrow.  

Do you just disregard your special gifts and plow ahead in life with a sort of dull obligation to meet the bills and never make a plan to use your special talents.  You can make the "me" time to volunteer in most cases.  You'll get more from it than you ever gave.  I still reminesce about my days when I volunteered at the Atlanta Botanical Garden.  It was great! The house might not be clean at all, but you can survive it.  I believe we need to meet our financial obligations and debts but also believe we need that joy time of volunteering to develop and/or use a skill..  To make the world a better, gentler place. 

Talk more with God. Not just that prayer before meals, on Sunday orWednesday but really talk and LISTEN.  Although our life will have spiritual guides - maybe a friend, often a pastor or spiritual leader,  ONLY YOU, can set aside that dedication to really WALK the WALK.   Many workshops and many retreats available to help us, but ONLY you are in charge of your Present time. 

Oh, trust me,  I worked many years before I retired officially.....And many of those "work" years I worked late into the evenings as well for paid work, or as an unpaid caregiver or volunteering or creating.... And for you homemakers everywhere, you have my admiration.  Baking, creating, decorating......  all great fun for me if someone would just come in and clean up after me.  I find over time my hands that have served me so well, can do less and less....And I try to limit those project that are difficult for the hands.. I have no rx answer for rheumatoid arthritis.  Unfortunately.  I have yet to come to peace with my wornout hands and body.  But in my cheeriest moments, the ones I like to share with you  "I would rather wear out my hands and body" than never have used them at all.  Most of my life has been in service to others and I won't apologize for taking time to rest or doing less than I once did.   Personally working 12 to 20 hours a day is punishing to our bodies.  But when I'm bedbound not by rest, but illness, that's a bigger burden!

You know that Biblical illusion regarding not hiding your light,  why - it doesn't shine......Sometimes the light is so dim from us, it is like complete cave darkness. Wouldn't it be great if we were so much in tune with God,  that people would come to us and say "What is it about you?   so Cheery?  So different?   Why"..... Our light needs to shine in our Earth, more than ever.......   To give hope, to give love, to give life, direction. 

I used to think God wanted me to be a missionary.......   I had a talk with my earthly Dad once and as he talked about His life on this earth and what he valued, He told me and I really thought it was to comfort me, but I knew then and now that prospering where we were planted had much to do with our spiritual prosperity than financial affluence.And he said my mission was in this Country.   I have pondered several times over what he meant.

Look what God gave us. The NOT FOR GRANTED fruit in the garden and of our spirits.   Time to ponder.........I pray that this blog has given you time to pause, to think, to pray.......Blessings for your day. 

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Be still and know.............

It is in the stillness of nature, without the tending of ANYTHING - not picking a berry, milking a goat, doing anything..... I know more fully God's Nature.
Pending approval of original art, subject to change

A dear friend gave me a small office plaque that says “Be still, and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10)   She understood how my life even decades ago, felt a whirlwhind of never ending tasks that left so little time for spiritual rest and soul renewal and yes even physical rest  My caregiving cup overfloweth with frail parents and others who needed me and then there was a very full time paid job and the household who at that time had no one but me to run it.   That though I got all the paid and household and parenting and caregiving essential tasks done, I see pictures from that time and though I smiled, I saw a very tired overworked person who needed Her Joy back. I had a fatigue that mixed with my genes and made me vulnerable to repetitive health diseases that also wrecked my body in several ways.  The repetitive pneumonias of many kinds narrowed and etched and obstructed the lungs and gave me some other issues as well. I know that we all have changes as we age, but I went down with the same vengence in which I lived life - full flat out either operating at over drive or almost no drive at all.  But I know that a spirit of determination and a large dose of Faith counts for all of us.  We have to do our part in the healing as well!... So one of my challenges is to balance effort, with wisdom and push myself to the limits and then rest enough to restore.

Recently I know I was past due for a respite time from anything at all.  I knew my body was tired, but I didn't realize how much my spirit and soul thirsted for renewal.  I needed to refresh my spirit and renew my enthusiasm and remember how my own life had been a miracle now for a very long time thanks to my miracle making and soul tending God.   That He leads me by the Still waters and those of the rushing waters as well and in the deserts and more. That He restores me time and time again and that also applies so to Hubby. 

I ask myself on a regular basis, have I given God all the vocal and written credit for all the miracles in my life, starting with me.  I hope so but I know so many times, I have failed to be fully showing the perseverance and fortitude, joy and peace that comes with full knowledge that I've got my Maker by me 24/7 and that He is our healer and sometimes, from our human eyes we do not understand suffering.  But though I know the peace that passes understanding,  I am very human.  Sometimes I cry, I grimace, I grumble, I withdraw so much from all that is going on around me that I can not tell you what happens when I am in the hospital.  And during a procedure, I want to know generally what will happen but I don't need to see myself on a camera, I don't need you to tell me that only 3 more vials to go, I'm here and that means I'll follow all your directions, etc.  Count down on the anesthesia if you must but beyond that I try not to hear you.  I don't like the twilight processes where I'm not fully out, many of mine have needed that, so I just must "woman up" to them.
Farmer Hubby resting under the sights and sound of glorious falls
Our trip away was not without farm tasks.....In the selecting and picking up of the bees, but my poor dear hubby got bee stung, even in getting them, but as he said  "it was not our bees. It was a free ranger! "   Well, ha, I shall tell our bees that.  They are settling in nicely.  One hive is a bit on the wobbly side as I call it.   The bees have to fall in love with the queen..... So time will tell the tale! And certainly prayers to all the bees and queens that they feel at home and beloved on our farm.

I have often said no to events where I know there are those who come with flu, cold and more as I know that my frailities will make me an open petri dish to them.  It is the wisdom born of time, but I so DISLIKE living a guarded life. That's just honesty.   I thank God so for surrounding me with doctors and medical community and special volunteers who have taken a very special care of me.  They know that I must rest a great deal for many reasons, but they understand what was my "well point" before the past few years was so much more able.  I  must be honest readers, I do still mourn the old me from time to time instead of rejoicing the "I am right now" through God's blessings.   I apologized to God for that on my trip....  I have done so many times and I probably will again but He knows and loves me anyway, despite my failings.

Usually when I get right to the point of yet one more repetitive disease or an ornery or difficult procedure,  My prayer is Please God put my thoughts and focus on you, hide me and protect me, guide these people around me, make me still, not moving or jumping off this cold table, away from the smells and feels and tastes of medicine or fluids in my veins or mouth....not the so necessary sticking, pulling, prodding, pictures, noisy rooms, the cold, the dye running through my veins, the pre op or the post op or the wait..  I have been so blessed by my husband laying aside his needs to care for me.  And to be around me when I am in less than full gentle sweet lady.  When during the day I cough deeply over 200 times - at least that the highest I ever counted in an 8 hour when I was extremely sick..All the muscles and bones in the cough zone scream out objection. when the needed meds make me sicker so they can make me well, I must remember God put me on this path for a reason. I persevere because of Him and Life is so Worth the Living!  Maybe there's someone out there that needs something from me.  Maybe I'll never know until I no longer ask the question...  I don't look forward to those things but I think of Him.  He gave US our magnificent and mysterious bodies and we learn more about them scientifically thousands of years AD and still are coming up with scientific breakthroughs LIKE wow, our lungs also help develop new blood! wow - yes that's true.  Only God fully knows us in our fullness..

Although we must certainly do something in life.....I worked full time from age 16 to well in my 50's enough said - I'm a southern lady and don't tell my age.. Believe me, I understand that clothes are not self washing, that there is a barrage of medical appointments and procedures that is often in itself a full time job. I've lowered my housekeeping standards. The farm with all its complexities has needs for so much and we are so dependent on so many to be our hands.   And we are so blessed by them.  If they were not here, the farm would fold.   I just have to rejoice in that and  leave the worrier side of me as far behind as possible to just be grateful.

I look at my hands most days and alternate between crying and laughing as they drop and break so much and swell up to the bursting point and I can only imagine Hubby's hands now through three surgeries and that they continue to work despite the pain that is endless and I know intellectually will worsen over time.  The farm had gone through so much with the low low temps - the loss of some of the blueberries through frost burns but God's mercy over those extra cold times... That was miracle enough and the answer of prayer.   The new bird flu swirling the southeast had caused Georgia to change its guidelines for bird shows, shipping eggs etc.   I had become over worried about that dent on the income due to this loss of hatching eggs sales.  I had to lay that down and turn it into a prayer of protection and that people would have the wisdom to  obey the guidelines for all with backyard or small farm flocks. I have had  severe mycobacterium and I know from my doctors to protect myself, but if a new strain came about, we may not know what meds would fight it or if they are available! So best for precautions for all!

Miracle of strawberries after 17 degrees F weather! Blessings on the Farm guided by Faith and Action
But I needed to lay down all manners of worries - whether big or small and bask in God's earth and be with my Hubby, with trying not to talk about the farm or my health 24-7......

I needed NOT to talk about any of my woes or concerns.   And not connect with the phone or internet other than by necessity.   I needed the stillness - the healing of both the still waters and the rushing waters.  The reminders that God is forever and that though there are struggles that we face,  He is so much bigger than all those woes and if we are still wherever we are, we will always be taken care of by Him in every way.

I had no idea that I would be so renewed in such a short time.....  That Hubby had booked a sweet Christ filled stay for us where food abounded in great quantities and qualities....Where I was a guest in a house that was filled with historic love of the Lord and service in the community, and within a short period of time, was at one of my favorite small parks....  Ha!  I had to laugh as it had been discovered by many families on many outings and almost all videos have the sound of parents or caregivers trying to bring their "kids" out of the lure of standing under the falls.

"The word Raphah means many different things in the Bible, but here it speaks to be still..This word is found in various forms in the Old Testament, with different shades of meaning. It refers to that which is slack, or to let drop, or in some instances, to be disheartened or weary.Want to think/study about this more."...Here's a great reference.   Be still and Know that I am God

So I've rambled on to say,  Thanks to God and all my caregivers and those that care about me, our farm, and don't just say but do over and over and over.  And Jacque and I love you dearly.  It's time for afternoon rest and here's a picture that proves that Joy can be overbounding NO Matter what.   Blessings to all..... LITLA

So resting in His Glory!


Saturday, March 4, 2017

Compost pile Tips, Part II - Keeping & Tending of compost pile - even if under the sink!

Here's hubby in the compost from a photos several years ago.  His entry won second place but he always has first place in my heart as he is the champion composter!   Don't let the size of that compost overwhelm.  Will describe how to compost on small size in this article as well as more tips not included in Article #1

When we seriously compost, and as you know we even compost hair from inhome hair cuts!  I would not use a commercial hair dressers hair as it might have permanents or chemicals I don't want in our soil or water!
Compost hair from Hubby's home haircut
I am so aware of all the packaging of the so called convenience foods.  As I start to write part II of the compost tips,  I sit looking at a package in front of me.  I rarely buy products from the grocery that I can make at home, but bought these cookies on sale.  Shame on me - not that I didn't cook them and that I didn't buy from an artisan baker friend, BUT that I bought this product so unfriendly to the 6.  I feel like a failure in the process I live as a proponent of composting.  So I confess here. I compost dryer lint and hair from my hairbrush and I did this!!!! Yikes, but I confess my failure.   But take a look at the packaging on this box,  The slick pretty coloring on the non compostible box and the wrappers are not friendly either.    I make of course,   but look at the packaging on this....   As best as I can weigh, Looks like 2.40 ounces of the 4.04 ounces are in fact trash!!! So that on sale price of  the package on the grocery store shelf was wront!!! Over half of the content was non reunable produce = toxic products. No, I didn't weigh the wrappers.  So, that product that was weighed in at 4.04 ounces for price at the grocery, should have been 1.6 ounces.  Plus if hundreds others brought the products as likely they did, that was a large dent of space in the landfill.   Before I had a grinder for wheat berries etc.  I would use the store grinder and recycle the bags.  I wish everything I bought at the store could be refillable, as in refillable olive oil, laundry detergents etc, but that's another day. 
My failure as a composter - I promise to do better!

But here go a few more compost tips:

You can be a secret composter - anywhere   It doesn't have to be a huge mound of decaying compost that takes a tractor to turn.   In fact sometimes that can be the most difficult to manage - why?   You will need that tractor to rotate, and often, rotation doesn't happen soon enough. 

A small compost container for in the house.  This is a recycled food container

Under your sink, there are commercial containers you can use for this, but why spend $30 to $50 on such a thing when you probably have a recyclable item around the house you can use for the same purpose......  Get your own small food friendly trash bin with a lid that you can use.   Check local thrift stores or recycle stores and you can find small containers like this food friendly container.  Use one that is food friendly as it will help the earth worms if you are growing them. This one you could just put on the side of your sink, to remind yourself or under the sink if you are a "neatnik"... I used to be but no longer...... Or if you have a friend who eats large volumes of ice cream, those pails with lids come in handy as well.    

You can be a composter, even if you are an apartment dweller.   Have you got a balcony?  a place you can put a small but attractive composter - like a pottery container, you can add and stir down that compost..... The smell doesn't need to happen, if you rotate it and aerate it, water and control it and maybe just add a few earthworms to the mix.   Now remember you can cover it, but if you do, factor in the sunshine effect, that this is in full sun and you can get a temp increase of up to 30degrees or so more, just like the heat in your car, so you might want to use a white or gray container and then put an umbrella or find a shady part of the patio, so heat doesn't build up. 

Now after you have the wonderful compost what do you do with it?   You can plant your own plants in it.   If you find yourself with great surplus and I know you and your practices in food,  I'll be a grateful recipient, or you might easily find a local 4H group or FFA that would like clean healthy compost for their compost area or a community garden.

Why compost if I don't plant or garden?  
Easy, it's fun, it's educational for you and your family to make dirt
Instead of eating up limited dirt space with landfill, you create clean earth. 
You are giving back to the earth  
Saves you dollars, less garbage in land fills and
Personally educates us re all that packaging in the world & make needed changes

As you can see from my cookie failure above,  even the most radical composter fails.   When you do, you must lift yourself up and say.   Nevermore.  

Have you ever had a old cotton shirt that is beyond being a duster or even a bandana..... Don't trash it... tear it into strips for the compost pile if it is cotton, it won't take long to compost.  Tissues?   Compost.....   Lint from your dryer - depending on what you use to wash clothes with, compost!

We covered what not to compost in the first editions - summary again with a few new items here:

Metals, chemicals of any sort, paint, oil, creosote or other painted woods, meats or fats ,  toxic inks on papers, metals,  soaps,  . Any diseased plants that may breed the disease through the dirt.  Treated hay - if in doubt do not compost.   There are some sprays on some hayfields that will kill your plants if you plant in the compost and can remain in the soil for years. Contents of commercially prepared soils - most of the bags of plant soil are ven a plant from a big box store,    Know your source on hay and straw.  Know your source on the hay if you are feeding animals as well.   It can be a life and death issue. 

Very good source on herbicide carryover developed in 2009 by Oregon State University.  Permission to replicate here is pending, so it might be removed in a future blog edition. 
Herbicide Carryover in Hay, Manure, Compost, and Grass Clippings .

Well I could talk (or write), smile for years about compost, but would you do me a favor this week, think about your daily habits of eating, and buying and look at what you could change about them.    I love tupperware type containers.   I do wash aluminum foil and bags and hang both inside and outside.   It's a small investment of my time, but just imagine if only one in ever two persons really really recycled what a great and cleaner space we would have.   And as I have often read, the original inhabitants of our country were savers an reusers.... We were a farming industry, we didn't waste and had no convenience stores for our meals.   Living off the land was a full time life and I'm a bit jealous of those times, But back to the future.

If you have any passion about leaving the earth a better place, I invite you to try composting more. It is so basic and easy and will become a healthy habit for you.

True, men and women have polluted the earth, but each of us can help restore it. And while it might cost the convenience of a one toss garbage, it is worth to me.   

Besides, smile, Since as a farm, so much dirt gets tracked into the house through our clothes and the air in our often "airy" farm house it's just nice to return some dirt plus some more! 

Feel free to share this post as a challenge to others to see how much you can take away from your trash can and put in recycle bins and also compost bins!  Blessings.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Why is She (or He) so Cotton Picking Happy? Grateful for everything?


A picture of a childpicker from Lewis Hines photos 

Why is She (he) so cotton picking happy?   To understand it more fully, I think I'll go back a generation or two to the lives of my mother and her family. I have no photos as they had no camera back then, but I have stories and readings from others regarding picking those cotton fields. I only came to more fully understand that expression about three years ago, driving down long miles of cotton fields. Now of course, almost all fields have giant machines, but still looking at the vastness of the picking area on a small cotton field, I am awed by the idea of Joy in Hand picking Cotton.  I did have hubby pull over and I looked closely at some of the plants and saw how hard they would be to pick and painful too! And I thought of my family and others who were cotton pickers to earn the much needed extra money for what we now call poverty families sustained by dirt farming and a few jobs like working in coal mines or temporary hard labor field or farmhand jobs. So the cotton picking bridged the gap between hunger and starvation.

Miles and Miles of Cotton Fields in Alabama in 2013
School was let out for farm pickings.  On the mountain, almost everyone was poor, so there was really no stigma to picking barefoot or in worn out tattered shoes and clothes. Maybe the first day or two was a bit fun for the kids and adults.  They perhaps caught up on news of one another prior to the start of the day and on the brief lunch break and while toting those bags to the scales.  But then the harsh reality of the long hard days of work of 12+ hours a day to be repeated over and over and over. I cannot imagine such a hard and painful job, dragging the bag in the stifling Alabama heat, bent over almost upside down to get that cotton. Fingers would bleed as they were stuck over and over. Hands would cramp.  Although an adult was expected to pick both high and low on the plant, if a mother or father brought the younguns along, I understand the adult picked high means bent over but not as much squatting down or breathing upside down to pick the bottom of the plant.  I would imagine that a shorter adult would have advantage on the picking of the plant but unless they were super strong, the cotton bag would be so heavy to drag around at the end of the day.

I have been told children were expected to work as long as adults but often fell behind on their work and the adults I imagine had to scold over and over to look all around and get all the cotton! The field boss would not look kindly at wasted cotton and I was told pay was reduced even further if he saw it.  I never heard my Mother complain about her cotton picking days.  Simply "we did it to help out".  And that was the attitude that it was expected that all helped with picking, canning, animals, housework, do your school work, you just do! Oh there were occasionally fishing and playing in the yards, but it was not an everyday joy.  You see with Granny's garden and their efforts, I know no one ever starved but I imagine that the children never knew how marginal they were. And that if, for example, the well failed, so would they.

Leather gloves were a thing of rich folks in those days. I heard of picking in rag wrapped hands with the fingers open to careful picking, some used old socks that could not be mended and the more wealthy had new cotton gloves at the beginning of the season.  These were not supplied by the field owner or his supervisor. In the 1910's through 1930's I cannot imagine many of the pickers with leather gloves.  In fact the only leather glove I found at my Granny'w when I played dress up was a carefully packed in a box pair of leather going to church gloves my Mother bought her, that like all the precious gifts were kept in a bureau or chest in original box and papers. Somehow that was customary for that generation....They didn't return or regift as moderns do, but they cherished the gifts, no matter, how "off the mark" they were.  My sweet Mother born of the Country and then 90% citified didn't realize HER mother needed cotton ones even for her garden, that's what she used, but I imagine that Granny would have preferred her cotton gloves or no gloves at all. But mostly Granny put those strong wonderful hands straight in the dirt and on the plants. all that gardening.  But I digress, back to the Cotton picker gratitude.

For the 1910's to the 1930's cotton picking meant:
  • Getting up before sunrise and coming home after sunset often 12+ hour days
  • Eating a biscuit or two for sustenance and drinking water from a pail with a dipper
  • Poor fitting shoes, if shoes at all
  • No gloves, just rag wrapped hands
  • Breathing the perpetual dust and toxic cotton spray and then later many got Farmers lung, pneumonias and tb
  • Sunburn, torn hands, cuts and scraps and hurting backs and feet
  • A pittance for pay and no minimum wage and no benefits other than brief break
  • Walking both to and from the fields
  • Being so Dog Tired that some just laid on the floor after evening meal to tired to wash up
  • And then repeating this over and over and over until the crop was in
  • The field supervisor was not friendly or understanding and wanted no excuses and would have none
  • You were replacable in an area that needed any kind of coins they could earn.

So hence I ponder the expression Why is S/he so Cotton Picking Happy? It is the attitude of perpetual gratitude, no matter what life's situation. I hope someone can say the same of me, that no matter what I've got the Joy Joy Joy Joy down in my heart.  

At least most of the time.   Blessings.....And this is a special edition for Thanksgiving

Special ponderings on Phillipians 4:4 And dear Lord please make me as grateful as the Cotton Pickers, that I am grateful in the rain, in the drought, on the mountain or in the valley, in sickness or health, in sadness, in sorrow, whatever! Amen

 PS. If you have enjoyed this, please subscribe to our blog to see more......and as always feel free to share it! LITLA


Friday, November 4, 2016

The Garry Farm Tips - Picking up Pecans, which to keep and how to store and prepare!

 One of my favorite things to fix with pecans from the Garry farm - Pecan Pies
Strangely we are getting a few pecans this year... In the midst of the drought, what the squirrels haven't gotten, (and the cats have chased the squirrels), now the crows are trying to get green pecans and fly off with them. On the ground, the armadillo seems to like them as do the raccoons and the deer.   So I like pecans, but over the years I've learned a few ways to id which to keep and how to store and want to share them.  Take a careful look at the picture below and see if you can tell which of the pecans are prime (this year's and expect to have good pecan meat in them), culls,  secondary pecans (those with green husks) and last years or even prior year pecans.

#5  Good pecans.   They fell out of the tree a bit early but with our dry weather in a few more days, you simply peel the cover shell away and use them

#4 Cull pecans.   The dark shells are dried out from last season and the other pecans have bite marks on them.

#3 One possible good pecan, The green coating may dry sufficiently to get the pecan out,  Although the second pecan has a crack on the end of it, since it might ave been bitten by a rodent or other disease bearer so I'll pass along on this although I'm super frugal!

#2 All have pin holes in them, probably from worms.  Even if part of the meat maybe unaffected, it will yield a bitter taste.

#1 Hurrah this year's pecans and expected to be prime.  The truth will be told after they are shelled.

Oddest event while picking up pecans, squirrels nailed me with a green covered pecan and yes it hit me in the face and even worse covered with squirrel saliva.. ugh.  I really think He beaned me with it on purpose.  I did go and wash my face before continuing.

Best non human helper with pecans..... I had a cat who would bring me pecans to the back door.  They were always there as she had observed me gathering them and these were for me!!!! I so miss her.   She was always a ferocious mouser and squirreler as well.  

Advice on picking and storage, gather daily or twice daily to beat your native competition.  Bag immediately and put in freezer.  These will insure that if there is a pin hole in one of your nuts you will not find all ruined when you get around to shelling.

What to do with the shells?our trees have had no toxic chemicals so all of the shells, etc make excellent compost.  Be sure to bury deep as they will certainly attract the predators!

Length of time - in the freezer - for us they have been good three to five years, usually don't last that long, unless they move to the back of the freezer.   What if you are not a baker?

Roasted pecans - great to go with your salads, or yogurts, or in your homemade granola at the very end.  Toss them in your stir fry.   You'll get a new flavor and crunch factor!

Toasted pecans are a great snack as well.   If you are not a pie maker, you may want to try some homemade cinnamon buns with the pecans highlighting them both inside the rolled up dough and sprinkle on top as well. 

A pecan pie in the making.   Once the pastry is made and the custard is cooked and you learn how not to over or undercook the pie, it's not too complex! And really it is almost as easy to make two as one. They freeze well!
Dried Peach and pecan granola yes it was good!!!!
 And on Yummy I love to make cinnamon rolls with pecans as well

I have never made pecan butter, but I bet it would be very tasty.....Well hope this has been educational and helpful. To see some of our farm's recipes, please do stop by The Garry Farm in facebook.    Also I tend to be a bit of an improviser and encourage you to play with your food as you eat and cook it and cook with joy and love.....Let's see.....mmmm pecans in soft cheese spreads, shakes, great protein source, pecans with cooked oatmeal - why not!  Oh and the best reason to go to weddings in addition to getting all covered with happy smiles and loved!!! Those wedding cookies.......    Please eat food that comes to you with no preservatives, or toxic sprays,  eat local and lots of veggies and fruit. Real bread - made with fresh real grains - the sturdy stuff!  Go to your real local market and meet your farmers.   Those farmers have to eat and there is some good cooking going on in a farm kitchen.   Have a blessed day.  And live your life with Joy.  Be a food adventurer.   Your recipe is only a bit of a road map..... Don't be afraid to get off the main road and invent your own recipes.   I don't care if you never saw anyone cook. You can cook.  It is a hobby that will feed you and free you from the food evils of takeout, fried and greasy food.   And if it's the first time you've read a blog here's one of my signature's on covered pies ...... The I love you pie!!!   Blessings to You from The Garry Farm in Bowdon GA..............LITLA