Mary, Did You Know?

During the Christmas season when we focus on celebrating the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ, I can’t help but think of the Crucifixion as well. They are inseparable, without either one there would be no salvation and redemption.

For many years I pondered on Mary, what it must have been like for her. The joy of bringing the Son of God into this world. The bitter sadness of bringing the Son of God into this world. Being the Jewish girl that she was, she knew the prophecies, she knew what lay ahead, she knew the sacrifices she and Joseph had already made to get this baby here. This was her son, too. She loved him as any mama loves her baby. Given all of that, I always wondered why she didn’t get more credit. She gave her son as well as God.

God gave his Only son, Mary of course had more children, but did that really mean it was no big deal that she gave Jesus? Then it came to me- when all of the events of Jesus’ death began to happen and as she stood there and watched him die on the cross- as a human, she could do nothing. It was out of her control. She certainly sacrificed, felt the grief, and was probably so angry she could have spit nails, but all said and done she had no control. Jesus was a grown man and he made his choice to follow God’s path and set us all free from eternal death and restore us to our Creator.

Now God, on the other hand, He was Almighty God- which means Commander of the Angel Armies. He could have stopped the pain with a thought. He could have said “enough” and Jesus’ and His own suffering would have been over. As God, he was in control and he had the power. But, He did not. He gave his only son. How much He must  love me and you. He could have stopped his child’s suffering, but He saw the big picture- our redemption- and He restrained himself and let Jesus die. What a sacrifice, what hurt. God felt the same pain, grief, and anger as Mary. We are made in His image, we have feelings and emotions -so does He.  But He endured the pain and hurt so that you and I could be restored, forgiven, and set free.

Could it be that the pain of seeing all of us lost to the evil one and separated from our heavenly father was more painful than watching his only son- the perfect one- die on the cross?  He wants a relationship with us that bad…  Mind boggling that the creator of the universe, the Alpha & Omega likes me that much.  I don’t know about you- but that motivates me to live better and love more.

God gave his only son…. So Celebrate this Christmas- Our Redeemer Lives!

Christmas Parade

just passed: the law against common sense

Small farmers need your help, if you eat this law matters to you but you probably don’t even know is just got passed. Please take the time to click a link and help out the small farms

Auburn Meadow Farm

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Okay eagle eyes, I know 37¢ stamps are a little behind the times

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What? A law against common sense? You didn’t know?

I’m pretty sure it was.  Of course it’s secret. Voted in a closed-door session, announced quickly late on a Friday afternoon then completely ignored by mainstream media.

I’m talking about the Food Safety Modernization Act, but you can probably insert your own business or industry since there is so much crazy flying around who can be in the know about all of it?

Like all common sensical infrastructure we depend on for our very lives,  we know frightfully little about food AND food safety. But it must involve lots of plastic, right?  

I’m a little smitten with a phrase I read recently in the Small Farmer’s Journal: Civilian Agriculture. That’s right, Civilian Agriculture. Let that sink in for a minute. I’ve been chewing on…

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Five Things Friday

Wow, Friday is here again.  Here are my five things this week that really get under my skin:

#5- 500 people standing in line at Wal-mart and only 2 checkers are open.  Really?  Does Wal-Mart really have to worry about making ends meet to the point that they can’t open a few more lines?  This item would have once been #1 on my things that irritate me but now that I have decided to read while I wait, I don’t mind so much.  Do I carry a book with me?  NO!  I simply read any and all magazines I want to while waiting in line.  I figure that if they don’t want me reading magazines and not buying them then they will open more checkers.  So, now I pick the line that has the best selection of magazines, forget which line is longer- the longer the better means more time to read.

#4- Ants– I HATE ants.  We have been battling them all summer.  They build under every rock edge I have around my gardens.  They bite me every time I weed the gardens.  Trying to control them organically meant putting out dried molasses- which usually works great.  However, the ants seemed to thrive.  I had a chat with my Extension Agent and come to find out I have Pharaoh Ants, also known as sugar ants.  I was feeding the bloody devils!

#3- Smart Farm Animals– Smart farm animals are the most irritating things you can encounter on this earth.  The reason being is they can figure out any gate latch, constantly check all fences for any holes, wait for the moment when a barn door has been left open and never give you a moments peace.   And when they do get out, they will ALWAYS remember where the feed is stored and where your favorite rose bush is planted.  However, the dumb animals- they stay in their pens, eat the feed that you bring them and generally have no plans to take over the world.

#2  The Burn Pile-  Now its not really the burn pile that irritates me, when you live in the country this is just a fact of life.  Trees fall, storms blow limbs down so you usually have a pile.  What bothers me ( I would say “what aggravates the piss out of me” but my mother doesn’t like it when I say that and my city friends get the weirdest looks on their faces when I do, so I will refrain) is when a young person is told to put something in the burn pile and what I get is what is pictured to the left.  What Part of “IN the burn pile did you not understand?”  These boxes are clearly not in the pile.  I would blame his teachers, but he is home schooled.burn pile

#1- When I hear someone say, “Young people don’t…” you can fill in the blank but usually I hear it in regards to young people understanding what it means to work hard, how the country should run or about being appreciative.  Well, if the young people don’t it is because the old people didn’t.  The younger generation only possess what the previous generation gave them.  If the children have not been taught then it is our fault.  I love my young people, they are responsible, kind, courteous and brave.  I put in a lot of work to see that fruit. So, if you don’t like what you see then get involved and build some relationships with young people.  Our future is in their hands, we should invest in them.

la mancha dairy goatNow if you will excuse me, I am sure there is some smart farm animal misbehaving.  Don’t let Salsa’s innocent expression fool you, anarchy lurks behind those eyes!

Five Things Friday

I have seen several of these “five things Friday” posts and they are usually along the lines of things that inspire you or photographs.  Well, my five things are of a different vain.  I have decided to do Five Things That Chap My Hide.  So here we go, we will be counting them down from least aggravating to most aggravating, the same kind of order that David Letterman uses.

#5- Pony tail holders and bobby pins– these irritate me because they can never be found.  A whole package can disappear with in 48 hours leaving all 4 females looking for them desperately while the 2 males help look just to shut us up but really can’t understand why we can’t keep up with these items.  The next time my mother says, “Well, it didn’t sprout legs and run off.” I will submit exhibit A- ponytail holders and bobby pins as evidence that things do sprout legs and run off.  Exhibit B would be the empty black cups and pots that I use for the herbs- they run all over my yard on their own.

#4-Self-filling laundry hampers– I don’t know how we keep managing to purchase these defective hampers, but we do.  Every time I get one emptied I walk in an hour later and it is half full.  I like a glass half full but not a laundry hamper.

#3- Walmart– you knew at least one item would have to do with Wal-mart.  Actually, I could have done a whole list every Friday for a year on this subject, but today we will keep it to just one thing.  There is this huge warehouse behind Wal-Mart and never, I mean NEVER, is there anything stored back there.  If the shelf is empty or just has 2 items and you need 3 of the thing- don’t even ask because I can tell you that they do NOT have anymore in the back.

#2- Flu-shot advertisements– these things should be outlawed.  How these companies can claim that you are protected from the flu guaranteed I do not know.  The truth is there are numerous strains of the flu and one strain can mutate into another strain as the season progresses.  The idea that the one or two strains that you get vaccinated for will be the only ones you are exposed to is ridiculous.  The odds are better at the Black Jack table in Vegas.  If you really want to protect yourself, eat more herbs and use herbal supplements to boost your immune system.

#1- Stupid Questions– Whoever said, “There is no such thing as a stupid question” never had children.  Example: My daughter walks into my room and says, “I spilled milk in the kitchen, do you want me to clean it up?” My response, “No, we have fairies that fly around the house every night and clean.”

Now that I am done fussing, I will go chill like our farm cat- Cheezit
Now that I am done fussing, I will go chill like our farm cat- Cheezit

And Then There’s This – On Food

I couldn’t have said this better, of all the things that concern me in our current culture,- our food sources are very high in the list. Thanks, Jo for sharing this.

Fort Pelham Farm

And then I read this from Verge Permaculture in Canada and had to share.  This is something I truly believe.

 

“ON FOOD SECURITY: I am reading My Ishmael and in one the opening chapters Ishmael says, “You’ll know you’re among the people of your culture if the food is all owned, if it’s all under lock and key.” The very word “food security” implies this very idea, that food is not secure. Language is important in helping us to determine where we are going. It is the very fibre that makes up the fabric that defines our cultural story, a tapestry if you will.

It has taken me some time to define the predicament that our culture finds itself in and I can say that food supply, how it is grown, who grows it, where it comes from, how it is delivered and who owns it is a central theme that…

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Celebrate America! Happy Birthday!

With all that is going on in our country at this time, there is a lot to be said for how far we have fallen from our foundation.  I know that  many don’t believe that there is much to celebrate.  This Fourth of July, however, I choose to celebrate.  We are a great nation that is going through a rough patch, but I believe in our country, in the youth of our country, and my fellow Americans.  We will overcome and in the words of our great president,

Well I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again — America’s best days are yet to come. Our proudest moments are yet to be. Our most glorious achievements are just ahead.

RONALD REAGAN, Republican National Convention, Aug. 17, 1992

Zavalla Willie Nelson washington_washington_monument_flickr (1) vintage flat summer 09 079 simple-church-house roses and herbs night at  the barn 025 oil Old country store old mill inn 2 patriotic-barn_~k4525677 redwood forest riogrande marshall courthouse Liberty Bell Kenneth_Farm grandmother and granddad in uniform grand canyon Golden Gate Bridge Effie the pig john wayne and flag flag and constiturion flag with marines first american flag boots and flag arlington cemetary

Thanks you to all the men and women who have sacrificed to make this country  a reality, who have died and fought to keep us free, and worked to make us great.  I want to dedicate this post to my friend , Stephane  @ My French Heaven, if France had not come to our aid during The Revolution, we may not have ever been The United States of America.  So, from our country to yours- Thank you.

Happy Birthday, America!  One Nation Under God, God Bless  America.

Ahh, The Rain

As I write tonight, the thunder is rolling and the rain is falling.  Such a beautiful sound and the scent of rain in the air is just delicious. How grateful I am to have the rain to water all that has been planted.  Lately( like since Saturday), we have been having typical Texas weather- hot and humid.  I do not mind, the tomatoes and peppers are growing, setting fruit and acting as they should.  We are finally harvesting squash.

Trenched Garden PlotThis garden plot is one of four in an area of the farm that holds water each time it rains.  And by” holds water” I mean that water will sit in this area and be squishy to walk on for days after the smallest rain.  As I write the trenches are filled to the brim from the rain coming down.  We suspect that there may be an underground spring located here, as well.  Anyway, for whatever reason, this area is a challenge.  So, to possiby make this a usable area I have trenched deeply and piled the dirt up to raise the rows.  Hopefully, this will allow the plants to drain well enough to grow properly.  I am thinking that if the plants can survive the spring rains that this wet area will be a benefit in the summer.  So far, the bell peppers and egg plants are doing well.  These particular plants like the heat to really thrive, so they are just now beginning to grow vigorously. Also  planted in these wet plots are cucumbers, watermelons, mush melons, and butter beans.

You may notice the hay scattered about.  I had company coming and thought a quick mulch that would make the beds look nice would be hay and I could just run to the farm store and get a bale easy.  So, I did.  Then a day or two later as I was admiring the lovely garden plots it occurred to me that I had no idea where the hay had come from and what had been sprayed on it.  Yikes!  Thus, I raked it all out and fed it to the goats.  This may seem like a lot of work but considering that some of the herbicides that are used on hay fields kill any plant in the nightshade family (think tomato and eggplant) and stay in your soil for five years- this was hardly a waste of time. Now, I can rest easy.  I will have these plots mulched by weeks end, but I will use pine needles from my mother’s place.

potato towersOur potato towers are growing very well. I covered the plants about 5 days ago as shown in the photo above and already there is so much new green growth out of the top of the compost that it is time to cover again.  I am excited at the idea of home-grown potatoes!  In the tomato patch, “Large Red” and “Illini Gold” are loaded up with green tomatoes, Matt’s Cherry  is looking good as well and has an orange fruit getting ripe as we speak.  I love to look out the kitchen window in the morning and gaze at my gardens while I wash dishes.  We have so many song birds in the gardens, they love to sit on the trellises that we have built for the tomatoes, cukes, and melons.  I would like to think they are happy to sing to me in the morning, but I know that they are really just casing the joint.

cute kittenMaybe my fierce farm cat will keep the birds from eating my tomatoes?

 

What is growing in your garden?  If you don’t have a garden, what would you grow if you could?

Could You Use A Little More Thyme?

Lovely plant and wonderful scent
 

Growing and Using Thyme

 
Kitchen Dictionary: thyme
 
Pronounced: TIME
 
This is one of those little plants that laughs in the face of a Texas summer and remains undaunted by a few freezes.  The creeping variety has been spreading between the rock stepping stones in my herb garden for months.  I have to harvest it or it will cover the stones.  It is fabulous!  With dark green foliage that is so petit it belies its strong flavor, it is a perfect choice for edging the bed or filling in between the stones.
 
a-border-of-lemon-thyme-in-bloom
Lemon thyme in bloom used as a border in the garden.
For me, it was surprising to see that Thyme is classified as a Southern European and Mediterranean ingredient.  I thought it was totally southern cooking.  When you think of decidedly southern dishes such as Chicken n’ Dumplins, Turkey & Dressing, Roast Chicken, Meatloaf, and so on, Thyme is a key player in creating the warm comforting tones of these dishes.  If I am boiling chicken for almost anything, I have Thyme in the pot, too.  Nothing beats the flavor of a lightly battered filet of Tilapia with Thyme mixed in the flour and cornmeal, I don’t care who you are- that is good right there!
 
Being that Thyme is a perennial, it is easiest to start with a seedling in the garden.  Soggy places are no good for Thyme as it likes will drained soil.  Lots of sun is a must, but a little afternoon shade in a Texan summer is greatly appreciated.  This is an extremely easy plant to grow. 
 
Top of Form
Bottom of Form
With Thyme being available in the garden year round, there is no reason not use fresh Thyme in all your cooking.  Just snip off what you need and chop it finely or tie the sprigs together with kitchen twine and remove before serving.  Thyme is a well-mannered herb and is not given to being over-powering in a dish.  To a roasted chicken, I will sprinkle about 2 teaspoons over the skin or add about 2 tablespoons to a pot of soup.  Your personal tastes really are the determining factor in how much to use.  Experience is the best teacher, so give it a try.
Thyme is perfect for filling gaps in a rock pathway
 
 
However; some days it may not be very convenient to get to the garden, so I like to keep dried herbs in the pantry. To dry Thyme, cut as much as you want from the plant- but never taking more than two thirds of the mother plant- and using a rubber band, secure the stems and hang in a dry place with good air circulation.  I have a little “clothes line” strung above my refrigerator where I clip bunches of herbs for drying.  Once dry, which will take about 2 weeks, remove the leaves from the stems and place the leaves in a air-tight container and store out of the sunlight.  Dried herbs keep for about 6 months and any extra you may have makes great gift ideas.
A “mini- clothesline” works great for drying small amounts of herbs 
 
 
Matches well with: beef, carrots, chicken, figs, fish, goat cheese, lamb, lentils, onions, peas, pork, potatoes, soups, tomatoes, venison 
 
So, get planting!  Everyone needs a little more “thyme” in their day!