Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Meant to Have It to Give It Away

"Everybody ends up somewhere in life.  A few people end up somewhere on purpose.  Those are the ones with vision." --Andy Stanley
Part of the reason we feel this idea of Thursday Farms is more than a dream is it has stuck with us. Pressed on our hearts. Always in the back of our minds. 

Back in January I started reading Visioneering, and I'm starting it over and want to blog my way through it this time.

Re-reading in my journal some of my notes helps me see the farm in a bigger picture.

We're meant to have a big garden so if people don't have enough to eat they can work an hour or two and go home with good, fresh food.  Share fresh eggs and milk with our neighbors.

If a young couple just starting out can't manage the ridiculous costs of a wedding, we can offer a free location to host it.

Maybe a pastor and his wife would love a weekend away from ministry but can't afford it. They can stay at our B&B to rejuvenate.

One facet of this multi-faceted dream is to be able to teach yoga (yes, I'm a certified yoga instructor).  I would love to have a big deck or floored area outside that could be an outside, year-round yoga studio. A retracable awning and rain flys could shelter from rain and snow, space heaters to make the space comfortable, and when its nice and sunny you can open the entire thing up and bask in the sunshine.

I would love to be able to teach moms in the neighborhood who might not have the time or money to go to a studio. Each week one or two moms would watch all the kids while the rest got some time to themselves.

This book emphasizes that a "vision forms in the hearts of those who are dissatisfied with the status quo." Its a burden. Not just something you could do, but should do. I believe the church, not the government, should be the one to help those who aren't able. Hopefully Thursday Farms will be a part of that.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Garden Update 7-26-2010

Yesterday was a gloriously warm and sunny day. At noon I headed outside in my nightie (modest enough) to read in the sun for a bit, when I spotted my spinach. It had bolted (flowered), and now lay wilting over the side of the pot.

There was about a week when I was thinking "ooh I should pick some of those leaves for a salad," but with our CSA being 90% greens at the moment I kept thinking I could wait.

Lesson for next time: pick the spinach when its ripe and just blanch it and freeze it! Dur.

Spying my past-its-prime spinach I noticed some other pots that weren't looking too happy and was inspired to actually do something about it.

I re-potted my strawberry, planted some more spinach (my Maritime Northwest Garden Guide said this was the time to, although it seemed a bit warm...), prepped some pots for future lettuce, leeks and whatever else might strike my fancy, and planted sunflower and other wildflower seeds along the border of the backyard. Technically its in the greenbelt but its really just a foot of bare dirt before the blackberry bushes, so why not have some color there? I've had the seeds for over a year now and haven't stored them in the best possible manner so I'm not even sure if they'll germinate, but it was either plant them or toss them!

I hauled my giant tomato plant (pic coming soon) around all afternoon moving it to wherever the sun was hitting so it could soak up some rays. My poor squash plant has powdery mildew so I'll have to do something about that...last year I tried a mix of milk and water and baking soda sprayed on it and that worked out so-so. Any suggestions?

Lastly swept the concrete patio then blasted it with water so everything was nice and neat again. When it was all said and done the backyard looked much nicer and my shoulders were much browner. I laid in the hammock and nearly fell asleep in the drowsy warm afternoon.

Did I mention I did all this in my nightie? Such was our Sunday afternoon...

Sunday, July 25, 2010

My Own Beeswax

I want to be a beekeeper.

Yes, go ahead, laugh if you like.

But I'm just a bee charmer...

That was said with a long southern drawl...anyone know that movie?

Seriously, though, I love honeybees. Their happy little buzzing. Their hard working spirit. They don't sting you for the fun of it like a wasp or hornet. I've actually let bees crawl onto my hands and carried them outside if they get stuck in the house...be nice to them and they'll be nice to you.

They're the friendlies of the bug world.

Aside from my general love for them, bees are important to a homestead for a number of reasons.

Pollination, for one big one.

When I had my squash and zucchini growing in pots on our patio last year, there was a severe lack of pollination. I had to use a paint brush to pollinate the squash blossoms to get them to actually grow. I succintly coined it "plant sex."

I'd rather let the bees handle that next time, thanks though.  Guess I'm just not "in the mood" to whip out my paintbrush every day. Hardee har har...

Second main reason: honey.

I love me some honey.

Not just for the flavor, but I've used raw honey as a facial mask and as a treatment for cuts and scrapes.
In a study in India they found that in first-degree burn patients who were treated with honey versus conventional treatments, 91 percent of those treated with honey were infection-free as opposed to only 7 percent infection-free using conventional methods. At the end of the study, the patients who had been treated with honey had wounds that more readily healed. In patients who had c-section and hysterectomies, those who received the honey treatment instead of the standard disinfecting treatments of iodine and alcohol were" infection-free in fewer days, healed more cleanly, and had reduced hospital stays." By the way, all those facts were taken from The Encyclopedia of Healing Foods by Michael Murray & Joseph Pizzorno, page 651.

There is also the theory that eating honey or pollen from the area that you live in will help with allergies. I think there's some validity to this, as I had been having lemon and honey in hot water every morning during the blooming spring season, and while most people walked around with a kleenex stuffed up their nose and doped up on Benadryl, I seemed to be allright.

Thirdly, fourthly and fifthly are bee pollen, propolis and royal jelly .

The Encyclopedia lists their primary uses as such:

Bee pollen
Antioxidant support
Energy enhancement
Menopausal symptoms
Support for chemotherapy and radiation therapy

Common cold
Gastrointestinal infections
Immune enhancement
Upper respiratory tract infections

Royal Jelly
Elevated cholesterol levels
Energy enhancement

There's also a theory that bee stings can be good for you. While in Romania, one of my friend's dad is a beekeeper and is convinced being stuck every now and then is healthy.

Besides the health benefits to beekeeping there's just something about bees I love. Its constant company buzzing around. Its a lesson in patience and calm to stand there with bees swarming around you. They can clue in as to how you're feeling. They can even predict some weather. If there's not a bee to be found, rain is on the way.

Maybe someday I'll tell you the story of how we found out I wasn't allergic to bees. It involved my friend's dad in Romania and some poor unlucky bee.

Till then, bee happy!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Taking Some Steps

After reading the first few chapters of the book Visioneering by Andy Stanley, I realized that what we had was more than a dream. It was a vehicle to take care of creation, to raise our kids, to host events for people we love, to provide sanctuary for those needing respite, and to maybe produce a little wine if we're lucky.

The book emphasizes that having a Vision is different than a dream.

A Vision sticks with you and nags at the back of your mind. One of the lines was that "it feels like disobedience if you don't follow through," (or something to that effect, don't quote me on that).

VisioneeringVisioneering also talked about taking steps now for your future. Thursday Farm isn't going to fall into our lap, and even if it did there's a lot to be learned about gardening, farming, raising goats and chickens and homeschooling our kids. You don't learn all that overnight.

The first step towards our dream is getting out of debt. After reading about it on a number of other blogs like Keeper of the Home, I learned about Dave Ramsey's Baby Steps to being debt free. The first step was to create a $1,000 Emergency Fund.
Our first No Spend Month in July 2009 was been helpful in that. We built our emergency cushion (which eventually will need to be 3 months of income), and now we are chipping away at that nagging credit card debt.

We moved to a place with rent that is about $500 a month cheaper, and have been diligent in putting that towards debt.

I started to learn to grow things last year. We called it my "training garden."

Not much success there. My zucchini and squash got powdery mildew and I got a whopping 4 or 5 snow peas from my two little plants. I got a small bunch of Danvers carrots, but think I need to plant them deeper.

This year I think the seeds have gone bad...I must have planted 40 in that planter box but only 7 or 8 have actually sprung up.

My heirloom Brandywine tomatoes have grown to be large and in charge...but because of the long, cold, wet spring I've just now got three little flowers.

The slugs have devoured my squash and zucchini so I bought starters again.

Again they devoured the zucchini but have left the patty pan squash alone...maybe because its gotten powdery milder. I need to do something about that.

My snow peas have done relatively well...I've harvested five from a few plants.

The Kentucky Wonderpole have grown slowly and I don't think I gave them enough to climb up on.  They're just beginning to get little flowers, too.

Overall I may not have the greenest thumb but I'm getting to experiment with organic pesticides and home remedies for plant diseases on a few plants rather than a huge garden.

Every little step counts, right?

Yes, We're Going to Have Weird Home-schooled Kids...

photo by Flavio Takemoto

We don't have kids yet and I know I want to homeschool...is that weird?

I read these news reports of text bullying, fights on school buses where the driver doesn't even pull over, cramped classrooms, overlooked kids, and politically correct learning that is more and more lacking art, music, and P.E and focusing on test scores.

I don't want that for my kids.

I want my kids to learn at their own pace.

To learn the names of composers as well as presidents.

To know how to plant turnips as well as do equations.

I want them to learn to entertain themselves, to build a fort in the woods and make teepees from bean poles.

I want TV to not be a babysitter or a space filler but a well earned relaxation break.

That's the plan, at least...we'll see how it turns out...

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The Vision

photo by mlkdesign


A garden large enough to sustain a family.

An orchard budding with apples, peaches and cherries.

Chickens, a goat, maybe a cow.

A vineyard stretching far over gentle hills in the bright sun, with a backdrop of majestic mountains.

A barn, or yard, or something big enough to host a wedding or big party. Lanterns hang year round.

Maybe by that point I'll be a good enough chef I can do the cooking, or be the wedding coordinator. Or the photographer. Or just try to do it all.

Woods where we can get a good supply of wood, and where our kids can go to explore in safety.

A fresh spring feeding a lake full of toads and ducks and water lilies, and where we can take a dip in the summertime to cool off.

Nestled in the woods a small bed & breakfast cottage and guest house.

A house big enough to hold a family but small enough to keep clean and uncluttered.

A large kitchen opening into a great family room that doubles as a homeschool room.

By that point I earn a decent income as a writer to be able to work from home.

My family lives within a day's drive.

This is The Vision of Thursday Farms.  That's all it is right now. A Vision.

But its a Vision with a Plan.

We don't know when we'll get there or exactly how. We don't even know which side of the Mississippi we'll end up on. But this isn't just a dream. Its a Vision so tangible we can set a compass by it, and we do.

Thankfully we're united in this Vision. It wouldn't work otherwise. We're yoked together, both pulling towards it.

This blog isn't like Your Morning Cup. It's not going to be filled with funny stories about Roy or recipes to try or how to make a duct tape dress form.  Its just about our Vision of Thursday farms and the steps we take to get there.

I'm a writer and I need a place to just write. Without over editing, without adding pictures, without trying to market myself. So this is it. If you're reading this, I hope you enjoy and that it inspires you to pursue your Vision to fruition as well.