Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Farm News

Last week our fifth heifer (in a row) was born! It's sort of irrelevant this time, because when we purchased the cow she was already pregnant and part of the deal was that the previous owner got to keep the calf, but it's still an amazing statistic (and blessing for a small dairy farm!) to have only heifer calves born so far. The previous owner had a very rough estimate of when the calf was due, so we had been thinking it would be any day for a solid month. Needless to say, Daddy was very relieved when Daisy finally calved. Oliver and Daisy's calf...
The previous owner wants us to keep the calf until she's five months old. This was the first calf for Daisy (the mama cow) and she didn't really like her at all, so Oliver had to take the calf away from Daisy immediately. We've purchased several new cows over the last couple of months, and now (except for this one calf that we're just keeping for the owner), we have 17 cows/calves and the boys are milking 9 of them!
We are excited about our upcoming Farm Day on November 22. We are considering a lot of different ideas and already beginning some of the preparations. Last night Elliott and Oliver tried pig tails from Oliver's pigs. We grilled them and accidentally set them on fire(!), but once the flames subsided the boys enjoyed trying them...
We are so glad that the farmers' markets are over for the season. It feels like we have a "normal family weekend" again and it's so nice! Mama found this sweet little flower costume and bought it for Sheridan...
Today is a big chicken slaughtering day. It's so cold outside to be killing chickens! The chickens are warm when they get to our eviscerating table (because they were alive just a few minutes prior) so the only consolation is that you are pulling the guts out of a warm chicken. We have a bread order for a delivery today and I'm hoping that I may be able to possibly work in the warm kitchen to fill the order instead of joining the chicken eviscerating crew... probably just wishful thinking!


Monday, October 27, 2008

Fall: The Farming Family's Built In Break

For as long as I (Joy) can remember, I've really tried to keep secret the fact that I don't like fall. I've tried to analyze it and determine what I find so distasteful, but I can only piece together some weak theories. Could it be because I never liked the start of school as a child? Maybe it's because I'm very cold-natured and don't like the onset of cooler weather. When listening to others rave about the nip in the air, the changing color of the landscape and then the eventual falling of the leaves, I almost feel unpatriotic to suggest that these are all signs that the warm, wonderful summer is gone - completely gone! I silently wonder what they're so excited about.

That is, until this year. Something strange and unexplainable has happened during this first year of farming and for some unknown reason, when the first thoughts of fall entered my mind around August, I felt some twinge of excitement. As I pondered the onset of Autumn, I found myself looking forward to cooler weather, making a variety of soups, and being inside our warm, wood stove-heated home. What could have possibly reversed my dread of this season?

Only brief analysis was necessary to discover the cause for the change of heart.'s all about the work! Why, with the last of the garden produce coming in, the farmer's markets ending, the tractor service concluding for the season, and the days getting shorter, we won't have as much work to do each day! Fall - a built in break for the farmers. How clever! I'm excited just thinking about it.

In celebration, we placed small pumpkins from the boys' garden throughout the house and bought big ones, from a favorite NC farm, that we stacked on hay bales borrowed from the cows and promised to be returned at the end of our decorative celebration. Never mind that the free range chickens are pecking holes in our display pumpkins and the cows are breaking into the hay bale deco area, it's fall! Time to celebrate, time to slow down a bit, time to recount God's faithfulness in getting us through the difficult summer. Breathe in that chilly air, look at the incredible change of colors from green sameness to brilliant reds, yellows, and oranges. Browse through the crockpot cookbook and make some hot cocoa as surprise for the kids. Enjoy a cup of hot tea with morning devotions. It's fall, it's finally here! I couldn't be any happier to see its arrival. Fall - the farming family's built-in break. I just love it!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Sheridan Loves Collecting Eggs

Sheridan is always so eager to collect the "ecks" (eggs) each day. Notice the backward big brother shoes she's wearing. :)


Saturday, October 18, 2008

God Provided the Milk We Prayed For!

"We will not hide these truths from our children but will tell the next generation about the glorious deeds of the Lord. We will tell of His power and the mighty miracles He did. ...So the next generation might know them-- even the children not yet born--that they in turn might teach their children. So each generation can set its hope anew on God, remembering His glorious miracles and obeying His commands. " Psalm 78:4,6,7

As God has continued to bless the growth of the cow share program, we're finding it increasingly difficult to effectively manage the milk supply. Sometimes there is way too much milk and then at other times, we just barely have enough. Such was the case last weekend. God had sent us a wonderful new group of shareholders from Charlottesville who pretty much wiped out our milk supply just prior to our biggest delivery day on Monday. We knew we'd never be able to make the Monday deliveries without God's we all prayed, and prayed, and prayed some more. Every mealtime prayer included a request that God might help the cows to produce large amounts of milk.

Sunday night Timmy and I decided to milk for the older boys so they could enjoy a night off. As we began just after 6pm, I lined up all the jars in the "clean room" (where we filter and bottle the milk) needing to be filled to make the deliveries in the morning. As Timmy would announce from the milking parlor that another cow's milk was ready for pouring, I'd retrieve it and begin bottling, just praying that I'd fill at least 2 of the many lined up jars.

During the milking, which was uncharacteristically lengthy, I'd at times begin to doubt that we'd fill all the jars. But no sooner would I begin to imagine which shareholders I'd be calling to say there was no milk for them Monday, than Timmy would mention his confidence in God's ability to provide.

In order to make Monday morning's deliveries, we needed a total of 37 gallons of milk. The picture above tells the end of the story. Can you believe that the Lord met our need with only a couple of ounces to spare?! Although we didn't return from milking till after 11:30, and all the kids were in bed, I had to take a minute to make a note they would see as they awoke in the morning since I would already be gone delivering the milk. As Timmy and I turned out the lights and headed upstairs for a very welcomed night of sleep, we looked at each other and said, "He did it again! Do you believe God did it again?!!" God is so good.

May this miraculous evidence of God's provision be forever remembered by each of us during those times when we falsely assume God is silently removed from our trials. He is so very close and He can do anything!