Thursday, December 20, 2007

More Baby Pictures

After five long months of waiting, Heidi kidded this morning! We expect Swiss Miss to kid very soon, so stay tuned.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

In Case You Were Wondering...

I have really decided on a breed of cattle, but it isn't the Watusi. I was just teasing them for their abnormally large horns.
Actually, the breed I've finally decided on is different than the breed I thought I had finally decided on last night. The breed I thought I had decided on last night was different from the one I decided on the day before, and so on. Now, however, I am certain that- within my finances- my choice of cattle will be the South Poll. It's characteristics and qualities fit my situation perfectly.


Wednesday, December 12, 2007


After hours of research, deliberation, debating, and frustration, I have finally decided on a breed of cattle suitable for our farm. Meet the noble Watusi.


Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Top 10 lessons that I’ve learned on the farm:

1. Good judgment comes from experience, and a lot of that comes from bad judgment. We’re trying to avoid having to follow this advice but somehow it just keeps happening!
2. The old saying, “life is simpler when you plow around the stump”, isn’t necessarily so. (What’s left of our old disk harrow would not agree! Oh and have the truck jack handy when you get the tractor stuck on a stump, twice.)
3. Smokestack’s honey bees really are considerably faster than a tractor but can’t catch Sherlock screaming and running through the pasture at full speed in a zig-zag pattern.
4. Do not corner something that you know is meaner than you and if it’s got horns it’s NOT a good idea!
5. Silence sometimes is the best answer. Especially if everything you do is different from most everyone else. Just better to keep your mouth shut and let folks think you are ignorant. (Use the smile, nod and back away technique.)
6. If you get in a hurry something is going to break. Every time!
7. Timing has a lot to do with the outcome of a rain dance. We’ve figured that it’s got something to do with dark clouds.
8. Always drink upstream from the herd. That ain’t lemonade!
9. Keep skunks, bankers and lawyers at a distance. Strategically placed foot hold traps work well for all three.
10. When visiting the local seed and feed, plan on spending some time listening to the friendly farmer that always seems to be there to tell you; prices are too high to buy and too low to sell; he’ll tell you it’s too late to plant, but told your neighbor it was too early yesterday. Oh, and then when he tries to give you financial advice………. Yep; smile, nod and back away.

Just a few quick tips I though some of you may need to know.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Welcome to the Herd!

The Big, The Smelly, (The Billy)

Smokestack's Boer Goat

My Boer Goat

Smokestack with his Boer Goat

I'm wanting an African name for this one.

And my most uniquely marked goat, Swiss Miss.


Friday, November 16, 2007

Friday, October 12, 2007

First Photo Shoot!

You can see a slideshow of Samuel's pictures here.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

One Week Old!

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Samuel's newborn outfits didn't quite work. He came home in 3-month clothes!

Monday, September 24, 2007

Bowing to Idols

Last night, our family watched Dr. Paul Jehle’s message about the Babylonian Empire, one message in Vision Forum’s History of the World Mega-Conference series. We have just completed our studies of the Babylonians, and this message taught us many amazing and important things that we hadn’t learned. One point that Dr. Jehle just touched on, as in passing, particularly caught my attention. This was the example that Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego set for young men and women in the church in today’s culture. You may want to read the first part of Daniel Chapter 3 to refresh your memory in order to see the details that Dr. Jehle points out.

Now, this is a very common Bible story. As far as I have seen in my few years, when a part of the Scriptures is viewed as a “Bible Story” it loses much of its significance and message, particularly those things that it teaches to Christians who no longer have Bible coloring books. The story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the Fiery Furnace certainly fits that description, but there is so much in this account that misguided Christian young people desperately need to know.

As Dr. Jehle states, it is estimated that Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were in their upper teens during this time. After having been taken from Jerusalem with Daniel, they had adhered to their principles throughout their training in the court of Babylon. Then, Nebuchadnezzar demanded the three young men to do something that they could not- to fall down and worship a beautifully crafted golden idol to the sound of pagan music.

I would like to draw out two points which are applicable today. First, we cannot bow to modern art. This includes drawing and painting, photography, film, and television. Modern artistic expression, as meaningless and filthy as it is, is nothing new. In Babylon, occultism was rampant, and worshipping demons, as idols, was an integral part of Babylonian religion. Skilled craftsman turned their hands to making abominable idols, and Nebuchadnezzar’s idol was just one of these carefully sculpted demonic symbols.

There’s no doubt that film and television are idols today. Is American Idol a joke? I’ve lived in an idol contestant hometown, and bo-lieve me, it was awful. It permeated everything. Is God going to look over this idolism just because Christians say it’s all for fun? There are many worse, immoral things on the Babylon box that, you would think, would appall and repel truly Christian young people. Are they appalled at all? Then, too, there are some things on television that aren’t inherently wrong, but are they edifying? These, too, must be kept in their proper place.

The second point is another art form. This is music, which accompanied the worship of Nebuchadnezzar’s idol. Modern music has been influenced by humanism and modernism so that most of it now fits one of two descriptions. It’s either immoral or meaningless, and very often both. Modern Christian music has trailed right along behind the secular sort, so that the two can’t be distinguished. In fact, if you want Christian music that sounds like some immoral secular group’s music, there are charts telling you what would be the most similar.

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego faced death for their firm decision to remain pure in the sight of God. What keeps the young men of today from a similar resolution? Peer pressure?

It brings me to tears to think about the direction that so many young people in the church are heading. Most will leave the church as soon as they can. We are here to serve God, to glorify him with our lives, and to advance his kingdom on earth. How can so many young men squander their youth in immorality, watching and listening to abominable things, making idols of celebrities, entertainment, or themselves? There are so many opportunities that they will miss to serve God in the culture, their neighborhoods, or their families. I pray that God will keep me on the straight path, and use me for his glory. I know that by myself I can do nothing, but chills run down my spine when I think how great is the God I serve, that strengthens me for his service. May I always serve him in joy with love, praying that the lesson of Shadrach, Meshach, Abednego, as well as Daniel, David, Joseph, and many other young men in the Scriptures, will be understood by the young men of today. Amen.


Friday, September 21, 2007

The County Fair

Sunday, September 09, 2007

The Great Escapade

After three ten-hour work-days, we were ready for a little rest after we came home from church this morning. Thankfully we were able to sleep and read until about three hours after lunch, when we got a call from our wonderful neighbor across the road from the farm.

"Hey [Stonewall], this is [neighbor], there's goats all over the hill and I think they're yours."

Naturally, I jumped into my shoes so fast that they tied themselves (after all, I paid for those goats). We try not to work on Sunday, but this was clearly an ox in the ditch scenario. We got a bucket of grain, and hurried over to the farm, but found no goats in sight. The fence had come undone at a joint and was pushed inwards. We suspect a dog got in due to low voltage, but we're not sure. From there we drove up to the neighbor's house, who told us the general location where the goats were last spotted.

To give you a perspective, a large stretch of the property across the road from us is owned by the same family, 40 acres total, where four siblings have their homes. The goats were last seen on the hill above the pond, next to the garden (which was harvested-whew!) We headed over there and spent a long time trying to find my dear nannies. I'm sure they wanted to find us just as badly.

I, with the grain, went in what looked like a likely direction, which took me a good half mile. By this time I was praying constantly that my herd-and the investment in them- wouldn't simply add to the wild goat population. I came to a dead end and turned around, and on the way back I met the goats, gracefully making their way through the forest- actually, it probably made a pretty scene. You can imagine how beautiful I thought they were at the time. Anyway, my prayers became praises and I began liberally offering handfuls of grain. All of the goats followed their accustomed white bucket all the way back to the pond. For some reason, once I had gotten that far, they were no longer interested in the grain. They wouldn't even nibble it.

Of course you know, this meant that drastic measures must be taken. So, equipped with a few paragraphs and illustrations regarding herding, which I had read in my sample issue of The Stockman Grass Farmer, I set out to herd six goats the half mile back to their paddock. Now, this is the very first time I had herded anything.

It turned out to be hard work, and I sympathize with herding dogs. The goats wanted to go anywhere but where I wanted them to go, but by nothing short of a miracle, I actually herded them past the pond, down the middle of the road, down our driveway, and straight into the paddock! Like I said, it was a miracle. The whole deal only took two hours. We praise the Lord for it all, who gets us through problems and teaches us all at the same time. I think I have a better idea of how herding works now. Of course, I'll certainly be more careful about maintaining the fence, too!


I mentioned the thirty hours of work that we put in this weekend. We achieved a tremendous amount during this time, as the Lord blessed us with favorable weather and no injuries. We were working on sowing the five acres that we call the lower pasture with tall fescue, orchardgrass, crimson clover, white clover, and ryegrass. We already have crabgrass and johnsongrass.

We are trying to achieve the most diversity in our pasture as we can, and we'd like to reach 40 species. Of course, some of these would be forbs (weeds) and the rest would be grasses and legumes. The reason for this is that, first, we have a highly adaptable pasture to extend the grazing season and increase our stocking rate, and second, every species that we have will concentrate different nutrients, minerals, and trace elements in their leaves. The plants draw this from the soil to meet their own needs, but when the animals graze it the forage will better support them, make their meat more nutritious, and make the people who eat the meat healthier. This thinking is a rather different way to look at a pasture than most farmers, but it is perfectly logical. Health begins with the soil- what a surprise!

I digress. "Sowing" is a very misleading term. We actually went over each piece of ground seven times. First we raked, then we picked up sticks and stones, disced (harrowed with a disc), picked up sticks and stones again, dragged with mattress springs, sowed, and dragged with a chain link drag. The last two were behind the four wheeler and were the responsibilty of Smokestack and I. Of course, we were the ones picking up sticks, too.

We finished all but about half an acre, and now we're praying that it will rain. Sowing requires alot of faith, unless you're an atheist. In that case I guess it requires alot of hoping.


Thursday, August 30, 2007


This is the area that the goats have cleared so far. After we move them off, we rake the leftovers into a burn pile. They've gotten about a quarter acre so far.

This is a picture 180 degrees around from the last one, showing the hill. The goats are moving here next.

This is a very small spot of grass on the 11 new acres. It's not much, but it's the most we have right now!

Here's some more grass across the driveway.

This is a view from halfway up the hill. Squint and the brush looks like grass.

There is going to be an orchard here before too long. The driveway is to the right, curving away. We plan to plant the orchard from the top of this hill to the driveway, on a gentle slope.


Friday, August 24, 2007

Smokestack's Honey Machine

I took this video of my bees on the land. I was too close in Sherlock's opinion- our video has no zoom. It sounds like a waterfall, which you can hear on the video, and can be quite intimidating, especially when a honeybee flies right by you. Other than that it is quite peaceful and fun too lean up against a tree and watch them running off a butterfly, trying with a lot of effort to get a leaf about ten times bigger than them out of the hive, then bees coming in landing on the leaf sometimes even pushing it back (on accident of course) in the hive. I saw all of this and sat for about an hour watching these fascinating workers that are so busy. I also got up and followed the bees to a field of tall yellow flowers. Now it is quite hard to follow the honey bees who fly so fast, especially when I usually can't see them when they are flying in the air. So I made a plan to follow one group of honeybees (usually three) and stop when I can't hear them anymore. I repeated this process until I found the flowers.

I hope to get a lot more honey next year, unless Winnie the pooh beats me to it.


Friday, August 03, 2007

Beans and Canned Goats

Last Thursday we graced the stockyard with our presence again in the hopes of growing our herd. We repeated the process that Smokestack detailed, but this time we bought four, making a total of six. We would have bought another- a kid, for Smokestack- but the price climbed to $60.00. All of the goats have adjusted well, seem to have no serious illnesses, and are quite tame (at least in the presence of food, anyway). We selected larger goats this time, since the first two are a little smaller than we wanted. I've tried milking two of the largest, which seem to have recently kidded, but without success- but I'm still trying!

Yesterday after lunch we took an abundance of green beans we had picked from our garden here to Granny's house; there my great-grandmother, grandmother, mother, and sister canned them while we menfolk were working on the driveway on our farm with a four wheel drive John Deere tractor and boxblade. In other words, we were playing with a new toy. ;)

The green beans filled several jars to our great satisfaction, after which we had eggplant lasgna for supper to our greater satisfaction. We truly appreciate the blessing of living near our family and having the opportunity to spend time with them, creating lasting memories and close relationships, at the same time performing a useful task. There were four generations working together yesterday, snapping beans just as they were snapped eighty years ago.


Friday, July 27, 2007

White as Snow, then...

...comes the mud.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

The new exciting development!

On thursday we went to the stockyard to buy some goats; we were planning on getting either 5 or 6 goats to eat and clear brush off the land, and therefore making it possible by Fall (we are hoping) to sow our grass and finally getting our pasture ready for other animals.

We put up our fence the Saturday before, and the shed was finished before Thursday so we were prepared for the goats. We went to the stockyard on thursday and the first thing we did was look at all the goats and choose the ones that we wanted, all the goats were numbered with stickers and so we wrote down about fourteen goats that we wanted planning on choosing out the 4 or 5 that we like best. After we had finished choosing out our goats we went in a big room and sat down, in the room they had a half circle that the goats went through while a person does the auctioning. We must have missed a few goats at first trying to figure out what he was saying, but we ended up only getting 2 goats so we are going to go again this thursday and try to buy a few more.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Our Precious Gift

Here are some 4D pictures of our little brother! They're rather low quality right now, but we'll do better later. Aren't those chubby little cheeks and little bitty toes adorable!