Our Noble Steed Has Arrived!

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What a blessing this little guy is.  I prayed for a free donkey to protect our goats about 3 months ago when I heard coyotes that were so close they sounded like they were in our back yard.  Two weeks ago I stopped in to pay my trash bill and there sitting all alone in a horse trailer in the parking lot was this cute little guy.  His owners had weaned him from his momma the night before and needed to find him a home because they already had 3 at their place.  The guy delivered him to me that night.  He is so cute.  He is a fast learner and a very protective guy. His name is Buddy. 

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I love kids!

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I love kids!

Ruby is in the final stretch before the kids arrive. She is usually trying to find a comfortable place to lay down, but no matter where she lays she just can’t get comfortable. The baby or babies are really giving her a heck of a time. She is stomping her feet and kicking at her side, staring into space and pacing. We’ll see. Expecting those little ones any day now.

Hungry, Angry…Hangry

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What would you do if your daily caloric intake dropped from your traditional 2000-2500 calories a day diet to just 1200-1500 calories a day?  And what if during that same time you also had to increase your physical activity just to make your circumstances safe and healthy for your family?

This thought occurred to me as I was reading global political and economic news this evening.  It occurred to me that we are teetering on the edge of a cliff and even the slightest change in the wind could knock us off.  And then I began to think about the eventual end and what it would look like for us, given the fact that there are only 3 days of food in the stores at any given time.  Everything has to be thought thru to its logical end. And when you think this one through, it just doesn’t end well.

So that got me to thinking about how hard it would be to do things by hand to survive (collecting water, building fires to cook, etc.) and how quickly I would become frustrated over the simplest task.  That’s what happens to our brains when we haven’t had enough calories, we can’t think.  We can rationalize.  We can’t reason.  We are easily agitated because simple tasks are harder to perform when you haven’t enough energy or clarity of mind due to poor nutrition.  And this is when accidents happen.

I was thinking about the little bit of food that I have stored and growing outside.  How long could that realistically last me and my family.  And what if a bad storm or other severe weather destroys what I have growing?  How long then could we survive? 

Hunger and anger equals hangry.  Hangry causes mental stress and even physical harm from injury.  Its time to really think through what we have in our extended pantries.  Are there enough carbs, protein and other nutritional foods to hold you over for more than a couple of weeks?  How would you store water and purify it.  How would you cook food or purify water to drink?  You will die within a few days if you don’t stay hydrated. 

Its time to consider what you’ve put up and determine if there are some gaps you should fill or skills you have yet to acquire.  And soon.

Change…

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I love change. Its a chance to do something different, and hopefully with better results.  On the “change” menu this year is my garden.  It has been a complete disappointment.  Only one thing to do.  Change what I’m doing.

Ah, my garden. I’ve had a love/hate relationship with my garden ever since moving out of the city. One would think that moving to the country would be great for a gardener. One would be mistaken to believe such a BIG FAT LIE.  Gardening in the country brings a whole new set of challenges not seen in the city.

photo (3)(Apple blossoms already)

For starters, the local wildlife love gardens.  It’s like a 24 hour buffet that costs nothing.  Just drop in anytime.  No lines.  Bon Appetite!  Then there is the issue of getting water to the garden.  In the city most people have irrigation systems.  Strategic water dispersment.  On a timer.  Just remember to pay the water bill and then plant the plants.

Yea, not the case here.  Sometimes I have to drag a hose the length of 30-40 yards (yes, that’s a long, heavy hose) to water the fruit trees during the heat of summer.  Also, I have to put up fencing to keep out the small critters, etc.  And still, they find a way in.  Its been a pain in the neck (or back).  But I must prevail!!!

Change in the garden is definately in order for this year.  First up:  Location.  I had to move my beautiful and strategically-placed raised garden beds from their old location to a new location, near the house and water hoses.

You may recall in the fall of 2012 I designed and built 12 3 x 4 raised garden beds.  My husband measured and placed them in the garden so the riding mower could easily maneuver around them.  The location should have been great.  It was fenced in, had 4 Rainbird 180 degree sprinkler heads hooked to in-ground irrigation, plenty of sun, out of the way so the dogs couldn’t destroy it…it should have been wonderful and a huge success, but…

It was awful.  The rabbits were able to squeeze through the fencing and would escape the woods near by and eat, eat, eat.  I couldn’t figure out what or who was pulling the green beans completely out of the ground.  Or who or what was running off with the entire cucumber vine.  It was a disaster.  Then there was the issue of these darn sprinklers.  I don’t have any idea how many hours I let those things run, but they watered more of the grass then the beds.

So, in early fall of last year, I uprooted what had survived the brutal heat and dry summer,  and relocated a few beds closer to the house in my herb garden, which had a wooden fence.  It worked.   These pictures are a couple of weeks old so these crops are better looking then the pics.

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So, now that I know this location is going to work, I’ve moved the rest of the garden out of the old location and closer to the house.  Only 6 beds are behind the fence.  The rest are outside the fence but close to the house where the dogs are.

I prepared the beds by placing cardboard on the ground inside the frames.  This will kill the grass, and since its biodegradable, it will breakdown and eventually become one with the earth.  Or the worms will eat it and then make it one with the earth.  Next I added good soil that has composted manure mixed in (I’ll be writing about the changes to our composting system in another article).

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In the case of potatoes, this year I’m changing the method I’m using.  See above picture. I mixed saw dust into the soil with a pitch fork so the potatoes can have loomy soil to grow in, which should increase the pounds of potatoes per square feet.  Or at least that’s the what I’ve heard from a friend who produced 100 lbs from 5 lbs of seed potatoes.  Last year I had so much grass grow into the beds that the soil wasn’t fit for growing potatoes.  The results were pathetic.  And the potatoes had scab on them.  Another learning experience.

The whole point of this is to share my failures and to show you that as long as you don’t let the failures get you down, you can achieve the intended goal.  You just have to keep going.  I mean, if we all stop trying, what then?  No matter what it is you’re facing, if the outcome isn’t to your liking, try something new.  Just don’t give up.  Keep at it.

I’ll let you know how the garden goes this year.

Not Trial By Fire But Journey Of Faith

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Have you ever had “one of those days”?  How about weeks?  Years?

That’s just what we’ve had, “one of those years”.  Right after my last post in 2013, we began to prepare our home for another move.  We thought we were moving again due to another job transfer.  But then we had an accident on the homestead.  While building some new window treatments, my dear hubby nearly cut his hand clean off with a skill saw.  It was the most horrifying and life changing moments for us.  Days of painful surgery and recovery, followed by months of painful rehab, many projects around here were postponed. Life as we knew it had changed.  The garden I managed to plant in the spring died.  The whole yard fell apart.  And we were in survival mode around here while he still traveled for work and rested on the weekends.

I began to do as much of the heavy outside chores and home maintenance as I could.  Fortunately we had already taught our daughter how to use the riding mower so she was able to pick up the slack there.  I took over weeding the yard while she mowed.  You can’t imagine how hard it is for a woman with little upper body strength to weed 3 acres.   My arms would be so tired that I could barely hold a tooth-brush or hair dryer.  It was bad.  To make things worse, the drought continued and the heat was ridiculous, which is why the garden died.  I just couldn’t get out there and water every day like I needed.  We lost a couple more trees from our orchard, including a pear, a peach and several more citrus.

Then in the late summer, around August, we began a major 2 week project. After 3 months in a hotel It was time for hubby to move out and into something permanent.  We weren’t ready to buy a house near his new office so we had to come up with temporary housing for him until we figured out what we were going to do about relocating.  The rental market was pitiful up there and no suitable housing was available.  God provided.  About 2 days before he got the news to leave the hotel,  one of our neighbors put his RV out at the road to sell.  It was old and in need of some repairs and upgrades.  But it was the perfect item for our daughter’s 4-H Consumer Science/Housing and Home Environment project for this year.  You can see the whole 2 week timeline and the end results over at her blog here: http://gabbysglamperadventures.wordpress.com/

By the fall there was another surgery to finish repairing the hand so that he could begin to gain use of it again.  So more painful recovery and rehab took place for him.  But around the homestead, we made some major changes as far as livestock.  Lots of new animals, including Dewdrop the rabbit, Esther and Ruby the goats, and new houses for them all, including an awesome goat shed that I built.

Dewdrop came on the heals of the passing of our old dog, Oso.  We had him for 14 years.  He was awesome.  Anyway, here is the little cutie, right here.  She is very moody.  Sometimes she loves to be held.  Other times she wants to take your hand off when you’re cleaning her cage.  Crazy rabbit.  Some of my favorite times are unwinding with a glass of wine and Dewdrop on my lap.

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On to the goats…this is gonna sound crazy but I wanted goats my entire adult life.  Of course I could never have them because I lived in the city up until 2 years ago.  But I’ve always loved them.  We got our two lovely girls right before Christmas. Here they are down at the pond on one of the few warmer days we had this winter.

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Ruby, the bigger one on the left, is pregnant.  We’re expecting her to kid around the 1st or 2nd of April.  I’m hoping she has twins, a boy and a girl.  She has already successfully delivered babies, including a set of twins, and was a great mother.  We’d like to have a good-looking male in the mix so we can use him as a 4-H project and show him at the 2015 fair. Esther is only 8 months old and will be bred this fall, at the same time as Ruby.  They are an absolute blast to have as back yard pets.  They are easy to care for and very social.

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Here is the Goat’s shed (on a foggy morning).  There is a ramp on the back that is covered in shingles to prevent the goats from slipping off.  The roof has slight tilt for the water to run-off.  It too is covered in shingles.  The shingles are great.  First they protect the structure.  But they also help the girls with their footing while going up and once they are on top.  The last purpose, one which I didn’t plan for, is they file their hooves.  We went to trim their hooves last weekend and there was hardly any excess. The only thing I can think of is that when they are on top of the shed I often see them scratching at the floor/roof before they lay down.  This is filing their hooves for me.

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Esther is notorious for getting up there and doing acrobats off the top.  She loves it.  One time she was having so much fun rolling around she rolled right off the roof and landed upright on all 4 feet.  Amazing little creatures.  So fun to watch.

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And then there is our little guy, Dallas.  Austin and Dallas are typical brothers.  They fight.  They play.  They protect and look out for one another, and for us.  After the passing of our old friend, Oso, last year, we watched Austin slip right into the role as protector.  But we also watched his playful side disappear.  He would mope around the house and I finally couldn’t take it anymore.  We went to the shelter and picked up one of 8 new puppies that had been dropped off the day before.  Their mother is suspected to have been killed by a car leaving 8 little 5 week old puppies to fend for themselves.  We couldn’t resist.  We brought one home.  He gets neutered next week.  :)

The chickens are still alive and doing great.  We are adding 3 new hens to the flock this spring.  Just because they are so easy to care for and I love the fresh eggs (so do the dogs) and how they keep the pest away and take care of my soil for me.  Chickens are the best thing for any gardener to have.

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I became a beekeeper last year and this year we are adding another hive.  I plan to split the current hive and make another one.  The new hive just arrived and I just need to unpack it all and put the boxes out in the back pasture next to the existing hive.  I didn’t take their honey the first year because I wanted to make sure they didn’t swarm on me.  So this year they are gonna have to give up the honey.  I need to be rewarded for all the hard work that went into keeping the bees here on our property.  I’m  going to have better garden success this year too.  I recently added 2 new pear trees, 3 new apple trees, and 6 blue berry bushes.  I relocated my raised garden beds to get them closer to the house and water source and near some large trees which will provide a bit of shade at different times of the day.  The bees will play a vital role in that planned success as pollinators.

So, as you can tell, on top of all the other life experiences that occur when you have a busy and active life, the happenings around here have filled my spare time.  I’m grateful for every challenge we were presented with this year because it stretched my faith a little further.  Some people would call our year trial by fire.  I’m beginning to believe its just life.  But mu life is a journey of faith.  Each challenge brought with it a new sense of faith that God would see us through.  He has never left us or forsaken us.  When we are at the end of our rope and out of strength and ideas, He completes what we can’t in our own strength.

God is good all the time.  All the time He is good.

I will post all of the changes and additions as they happen.  I received a new camera from our oldest daughter for Christmas.  It has inspired me to get back into photography and scrapbooking again.  I missed them both.  And having all this fun around here is perfect to get back into it again.  I will again soon.

I told you so…about 4 years ago!

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http://www.wnd.com/2013/05/the-dollar-and-the-usa-is-toast/#MZjqFZzvdls1skvk.99

Here is a story that makes me stand up and scream, “I TOLD YOU THIS 4 YEARS AGO!!!”  And people responded with wide eyes or rolling eyes.  Some even called me Noah.  Funny thing, Answers in Genesis recently wrote an article calling Noah the Ultimate Prepper.  Go figure.

I know there are a lot of things that can steal your attention these days but this is a story that is worth mentioning.  I’ve been warning of this same thing, almost verbatim, for over 4 years.  Its nice to see that it is FINALLY making some mainstream news.  You absolutely must listen to the growing number of voices who are trying to warn Americans of the coming financial disaster.  I know money isn’t everything, but when you consider that less than half of the population actually pays taxes, this is critical to understand.  The dominos that will fall and the resulting chaos when the Welfare and SNAP cards stop working, will be mind blowing.  You’ll be praying for the rapture.

Please take the necessary precautions to insulate your family from the coming nightmare.  God’s judgement is already on this nation.  And, please, don’t ge me started on the biblical concept of God’s judgement beginning with the house of the Lord first.  So, church, get your act together, get your spiritual and financial houses in order, and pray that this country will repent.  Or else it aint gonna be pretty for all of us.

http://www.wnd.com/2013/05/the-dollar-and-the-usa-is-toast/#MZjqFZzvdls1skvk.99

 

It’s been a while…

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I won’t go into details about the 2 month hiatus from writing, but needless to say since Easter we have experienced:

1-A new job transition

2-Epic fail in the garden, thanks to some cute little wild rabbits that think my garden is their full service buffet

3-The addition of honey bees, and just in time considering all the news of colony collapse disorder

4-and some extra tasks thanks to a new schedule we are keeping

5-harvesting unlikely food, wild berries, on a daily basis

6-battling the insects that like to eat what I’m growing

and on and on…

 

I’m working on some new articles to post.  As soon as I can find the time to sit and write this week, and include pictures which are still on my camera, I’ll have some new updates on the above topics.  I’ve also got some updates on cooking dinner and canning honey cinnamon butter in the solar oven.  I’ve done both recently and can not tell you how easy and fun it was.

We started juicing so I could use up all of the greens that managed to survive the rabbit frenzy.  Wow, love this green smoothie concept.  I have so much energy.  Serious.  I can’t seem to go to bed before 11pm now.  And I’m wide awake and ready for the day at 7 am.  I’ll definitely keep juicing regardless of what transpires in my garden.

 

There is always something going on out here and each day brings new surprises, most of which are very pleasant.

Keep a look out for new posts this week and next.  They’ll be sporadic as we are wrapping up the school year and soooo many events and gatherings that my head is spinning.

Good Friday…The Passion of the Christ on the Cross

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I just wanted to take a moment and remind you that this day represents the sacrifice that the Lord Jesus made for you and for me.  If it weren’t true, we wouldn’t have measured time by his arrival to earth for the last, I don’t know, 2,000+ years.  If it weren’t true, then it wouldn’t have mattered that He not only was unjustly crucified, but also was resurrected, which completed the task He was sent for in the first place.  He was the final payment for the sin of humanity.

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Some say, “so what? what does it matter?”  You see, it does matter.    In a world full of sin and lawlessness, we need the Hope that is found only at the cross, where love was poured out.  Until we reconcile our sinful life to a Holy God, until we set our hearts and our minds to this tasks, until we are completely honest that good works aren’t enough, we can not fully understand the need for a savior.  Maybe that is why the cross is so offensive and the hatred towards Christians is reaching a fevered pitch all of a sudden.

It doesn’t matter how enlightened man thinks he is, the simple truth is, and maybe that’s why it’s so hard for those who think they are so wise to understand it,  we will never be good enough to enter into the presence of a Holy God.  Period.  Nothing I can do can bridge the vast chasm that has been created between me and God by my sinful life.  That’s the truth.   And the funny thing about the truth is whether you believe it or not doesn’t make it any less than the ever lovin’ truth.

Praise God that Jesus didn’t abandon the cross.   I mean, He could have, but He didn’t.  I can not think of words to express my gratitude, but He knows my heart rejoices in this truth.  So, “Thank you Jesus for your sacrifice.  I desire that my life reflect the change that has taken place in me since committing my heart and life to you. I’m still under your construction and sanctification.  But thank you for loving me so much that you would endure the most ruthless and evil torture known in the history of mankind, and then return to heaven to prepare a place for my homecoming. Amen”

OTC Derivatives, Counter Party Risks, Contageon and Bail-In

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These are just a few of the words you better understand, and quick.  If you already know what they mean, then you know exactly why I’m stressing the importance of familiarizing yourself with these terms at this time.  If you do not know what these terms mean and how this is going to effect you in the not-so-distant future, then you better get to reading.  And quick.

Have you read the fine print on your 401k and IRA prospectus yet?  70% of something is better than 100% of nothing.

 

A Precarious Position for Savers Around the World

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Okay, I’ve got to get this off my chest.  I couldn’t sleep last night thinking of all the citizens and foreigners who had their money in a financial account in Cyprus and didn’t see this thing coming.  In light of what is transpiring in Cyprus and the EU, savers around the world now find themselves in a dangerous and rather  precarious position as we all ask ourselves if this could happen to us here in the US?  And as if already expecting these questions, the Fed is trying to reassure us that it could never happen here because they have the FDIC and it’s $25 billion in insurance funds to cover over 9.2 TRILLION in customer deposits.  Yes, do the math on that and tell me if we should all sleep well because the Fed has everything under control with less than 1% in insurance funds to cover the deposits.  And to make this situation even worse, the banks also have another $200+ Trillion in derivatives on their balance sheets.  So can you see why I am loosing sleep over this, and why Jim Cramer says “lets not kid ourselves, this is going to end badly”. This is woefully insufficient to cover the risk.

I tried to think of analogy that would best put this into perspective for us.  And this is the best I could come up with.  Its like having a house worth $1 million, of which you owe $975,000 on; $9K cash in the bank, $110,000 in revolving debt, another $150,000 in student loan debt, and to make sure you check the life insurance box, you take out a life insurance policy of $2,000.  You’re young, healthy, a good person, got a great career ahead of you.  What could go wrong?  Your spouse doesn’t have a clue what the financial picture of your family looks like and frankly doesn’t care as long as the NBA game or American Idol, or Desperate Housewives is on tv tonight.    If you die, you will take everyone dependent on you down financially.  It will literally destroy the life they have enjoyed and are accustomed to.

So, back to the original opening of this post, in light of what is transpiring in Cyprus and the EU, savers around the world now find themselves in a dangerous and precarious position because what they (and I’m referring to you if you have your wealth tied up in any western financial institution) do next to protect their wealth from the evil and corrupt banking cartel and their outright theft could be the most important decision they make.  And the clock is ticking…