2012.01.14 “Oh, the weather outside is frightful!”

We were supposed to have a grandchild join us for the weekend, but the roads were still not safe today so we decided not to risk it.

We did end up doing some baking and we turned our raw milk into yogurt, cheese, and butter.

We had friends over for dinner and sampled Borscht for the very first time. We agreed we’re going to need the recipe – it was quite tasty!

All in all, a good day.

2012.01.13 Wicked Weather We’re Having …

We have had a week of rain and unseasonably warm temperatures. Last night we got word of a major winter storm headed our way. After a bit of research, Shelli managed to locate a source of raw milk…both places I called, their cows were dry….SO we decided we needed to make a milk run before the storm hit. We each purchased four gallons for $10. We were VERY happy with that price and the distance to the farm…8-12 miles depending on whose house you count from ūüôā It was the first time Kenton and I had been out of the house all week and we joked about the brights lights of the “big” city.

I’m sure glad we went last night…during the night the temperature dropped almost 30 degrees and the snow began to fall…it is wicked cold and the snow has continued to fall ALL day. The roads are treacherous with many accidents and road closings in the area…I LOVE working from home!

Stay tuned for the weekend post as we do a bit of experimenting with our milk!!

2012.01.12 Thursday already

This week is sure flying by…we set ourselves a challenge to NOT go to Wal-Mart for a whole month. It’s just too easy to go there and drop a hundred bucks or more and not come home with anything worthwhile. So far so good…we haven’t been to Wal-Mart since¬†December 29th.

In addition, we have decided to see how long we can go on our food supply before going to the grocery store. The biggest challenge is going to be fresh greens for salads…so I have a couple of jars of sprouts going. I used the last of the carrots and radishes from our garden yesterday.¬† I also checked over the butternut squash in the basement and steamed and milled five containers of that…yum!

Today I made some noodles and did some “grocery shopping” in the basement…we’re kind of in a good place right now because we had stocked up on lots of condiments and staples…I guess when we run out of those things, we’ll have to figure out how to make them or make do without. Being a locavore will be harder for Kenton because he has such a sweet tooth…right now he’s thankful for the bags of chocolate chips that I bought (and never used) for Christmas baking.

2012.01.11 New Year, Big Plans

I’d like to have my pond landscaped, a turkey coop built, a greenhouse up, and my basement finished this year. Fortunately, my wife is more practical than I am.

We were discussing over dinner what we could “realistically” expect to accomplish this year. The list was distilled to:

finish the chicken run

roof the chicken coop

build a cold frame

It doesn’t seem like a very ambitious list, but my wife is right; based on past experience, we’ll be lucky if we get those few projects done – in between sprouting, planting, weeding, harvesting, canning, freezing, birthing, collecting, maintaining, repairing, etc. etc.

… this is why I think we need a “community.”

2012.01.10 “We’re walking, we’re walking…”

"We're Walking..."Tonight Paula dragged me out of my office (“I just have two more things…”) and took me for a walk at twilight. It was so refreshing! The sun was just going down and the sky was a bright rosy pink. I enjoyed the time with my wife and the opportunity to further discuss our plans for the New Year.

A friend loaned us The Winter Harvest Handbook to read, and we’re already seeing some great ideas.

We’re trying to think of ways to make our seminars fun and educational at the same time, and also to stay with our New Year’s “Locavore” pledge. So, for the cheese making seminar on January 28 (SPOILER ALERT!) we’re going to procure some local vintage from Deer Creek Winery. Deer Creek is owned by some friends of ours and the wine is among our favorites. We’re pretty sure it will go well with some home made cheese!

Spiritually, we started the day with a reading from Love to Pray devotional book, and spent some time in prayer ourselves. I am so thankful for a loving, patient Heavenly Father who is willing to wait while His children run to and fro until, just like our own kids, we get tired and come back to curl up in our Father’s embrace. We also shared the latest newsletter from World Challenge. It was a reprint of a message by the late David Wilkerson, and coincidentally (or not) it was focused on prayer, titled “The Church’s Greatest Hour is Still Ahead.” It was very encouraging.

Tonight we had spaghetti and meatballs for dinner, with spinach salad. We were joking about the fact that it was fortunate we had “stocked up” on some essentials (like pasta and chocalate chips) before we made the “no WalMart” pledge. It really will work well in terms of letting us down “gently.” As items in our pantry run out they will be replaced with natural, local, healthy alternatives… or they will not be replaced.

Last night we also started looking at the Cellular Healing Diet advocated by Dr. Dan Pompa. Not sure what I think of this yet, but I’m listening with an open mind. So far there is nothing really new or revolutionary – it’s basically a sugar free diet of natural, local foods. Just more “supportive evidence” for what we’re already planning to do I guess.

As we sit here tonight we are already discussing our gardening plans for the year. It’s never too early to start planning, and it’s a great way to while away the cold winter evenings!

2012.01.09: Monday, Monday

Well, it’s Monday. We were working today at our “real” jobs so not too much activity on the farm. Last night, however, Paula had trouble sleeping so she started working on some more of our “next steps.”

The result is a list of seminars that Paula will be hosting at Big Oak Ridge. January will (tentatively) be a seminar on cheese making or yogurt making (depending on time and resources.) There will be a nominal fee for these seminars and that will include materials etc. Look for more information here. Watch for updates!

The other thing we are kicking off is the Locavorium. Those of you who watch this space may remember the article I wrote about this subject a little while ago. Well, we are moving on the idea of creating a resource list for those interested in this challenge. If you have any resources we can add to the Locavorium let us know!

2012.01.08: First Homegroup meeting of the year

We were praying about whether or not to start the home group back up, and when, etc. I think God got a little impatient with us – I feel like He kind of whacked us over the head (“Here’s your sign!”)

First the kids emailed us about coming to lunch. Then at church they were offering a book on prayer, with a study guide, for use in homegroups. Paula and I were looking for a way to “jump start” our devotions this year, and this looked like it would work for Homegroup, too, so… today was the first homegroup meeting of the year almost by accident. It was just us and the kids but we enjoyed the visit and distributed the book.

The book is Love to Pray by Alvin Vandergriend. It provides a 40 day prayer plan designed to help the reader fall in love with prayer, and with God, all over again. I’m looking forward to renewing my relationship.

2012.01.06 New Beginnings

I had actually started to dismantle my on line presence, despairing of ever seeing any fruit from my “vision.” But during our recent vacation Paula and I talked (once again) about where we were going and how we could get there.

I explained to Paula that this “thing” never leaves, never changes much, never dies – I can’t seem to get away from what I “see.”

Paula explained to me that the vision I talk about is too big for her; she can handle small, day to day tasks and projects – but trying to see “out there” with me produces anxiety for her.

SO… we’re going to try once again to back up and retrench. I’m going to try to take it a little slow (bite size pieces) and she is going to try to help me get there (one step at a time.)

This is the first of the “baby steps” – a stronger commitment to journal here, on the website, so others can know (if they want to) what we are doing, and sometimes even why we are doing it.

I’d like to try to jot something every day, but that may be too ambitious. So, in keeping with my commitment to go slow and practical, I’m going to aim for a minimum of once a week entries here on the website.

So this will count as the first “official” entry of the New Year, and it includes the second “step:”

Paula got me a copy of “Animal, Vegetable, Miracle” for Christmas. We have discussed this book in this space before. Paula borrowed it from the library and read it. I started to read it, and even renewed it once, but had to return it before I was finished. Because the book is as much reference as entertainment, Paula (wisely) decided we needed our own copy.

I was reading the book while on vacation and I felt re-invigorated in the pursuit of my own passion. Paula and I decided that this would be as good a time as any (maybe the best time) to try our hand at being locavores instead of just talking about it. Our freezers and larder are full, we have a great variety of edibles on hand, and we need to:

a) save some money and

b) trim our waistlines.

 

The first “baby steps” toward our goal are:

  1. Swear off WalMart for a month (I know, that’s a really small step, but I really think WalMart is an addiction – we’re talking cold turkey here.)
  2. Find somewhere to get raw milk for making cheese [ahem.. I mean “pet food.”]¬†(not too difficult in our area.)
  3. Look for somewhere local to get our animal feed. Right now we get most of it from our local Tractor Supply, and I’m not opposed to this, I just want to try to get our animals on a “locavore” diet if possible also.

 

So that’s the plan for now, we’ll try to keep this site updated so everyone can see how we’re doing.

New Year, New Ideas

We just got back from vacation. While we were gone we discussed the future of Big Oak Ridge, where we’d like to go next, and where we’d like to end up. Watch this space for new information, new ideas, and new developments in the New Year!

apples, apples, everywhere!

One of the things we did this year was apples. A friend of ours lives on an old farm. The orchard for this farm has gone “wild” over the years, resulting in a virtual forest of apple trees. The apples are not particularly large or attractive, but they were relatively bug and worm free and usable. we were able to fill the entire bed of our pickup truck in just a couple of hours; we made lots of apple sauce, some apple jelly, and we put some in the freezer for pies and cobbler. Yum!