Monday, November 30, 2009

Happy 16th Birthday Oliver!

Today is Oliver's 16th birthday! We celebrated by going out for dinner at Oliver's favorite steakhouse and enjoying his birthday ice cream cake afterwards.Oliver has a great servant's heart. Daily, Oliver joyfully goes out of his way to serve others in our family. Just a couple days ago, I (Meredith) was dreading sorting through the 75-100 milk jars that had been returned over the past few days. Before I headed out to begin my task, I realized that he had already sorted all of the jars for me as a surprise! This encouraged me and took the edge off of the job ahead of me.

He is also a very hard worker. I don't think there are any other 16 year olds whose work ethic could possibly mirror Oliver's. In whatever line of work he may choose for his future career, he will most definitely excel because he has the necessary determination to see a job to its completion. In a generation abounding with visionless and directionless young men, the few who rise above our culture's expectations stand out as young men with great, exciting futures ahead of them. I am so proud to have a brother like Oliver who is among these rare young men!

Happy 16th Birthday Oliver! I love you!

Friday, November 27, 2009

Thanksgiving Day

We had a great Thanksgiving at our grandparents' house in eastern NC. Grandma Lou always prepares a delicious feast! Family visiting after the meal
Cousins playing ball outside
My 3 year old cousin, Dustin, asked me to take a picture of him like this... I don't know why. :)
Elliott and OliverSheridan and our cousin Lauren
Harrison and Sullivan wore their cowboy outfits for the day
Of course I (Meredith) didn't take any pictures of the group gathered in the family room because that would (heaven forbid!) possibly be considered a distraction to those watching the football game. ;)
One of the reasons that I like Thanksgiving is because it ushers in the holiday season, but I am not so enamored with the holiday season to brave the Black Friday crowds. There just isn't anything that I could possibly want badly enough to get out in that madness!
Instead, I spent most of today on the road with Daddy. We drove a couple hours north to buy a cow (our cows' milk production has been very low and we've been in need of more milk to fill our orders) and did the Charlottesville milk delivery afterwards. Holly is a healthy-looking 3.5 year old Jersey.
After the past two weekends being very busy with big events, I am looking forward to a laid-back weekend!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Farm Day 2009

Our 2009 "Day to Give Thanks for Udders" Customer Appreciation Day was a great success with hundreds of guests visiting our farm yesterday. It is very hard to know exactly how many people came throughout the afternoon, but we estimate around 400. It was a lot more than we were expecting.

Our new sign at the road was ready just in time!Guests visited the animals and toured the restored farmhouse. Oma, our grandmother, welcomed visitors to enjoy hot apple cider and cookies indoors. Unfortunately, I only made about 200 cookies, so we ran out early.
Sammie, our farm dog, with her red bandana Mama decorated the farm with over 70 pumpkins that she was blessed to find discounted for only one penny each!

View of our farm from the road Mama painted the unsightly pumphouse and converted a coffee table thrift store find into a cute cow spot-decorated bench.
Elliott's turkeys have all been slaughtered and most have been sold. Tomorrow Elliott and Oliver will be helping our friends, the Wilsons, finish processing their final 100 turkeys.
It was exciting to see Elliott's hard work pay off as many of his turkeys sold in our new farm store.
Oliver, Mr. Joel Salatin (author and prominent pioneer in organic farming in the United States), and Elliott at an event a couple weeks ago The hay loft was converted into a movie theater for a showing of the recently released documentary "Food Inc."
Daddy constructed and Oma painted the cow for the childrens' cow milking stationSheridan demonstrating milking the cow (it had water with dish soap in it so it would appear like bubbly milk) The cow milking station was a big hit among the children!Daddy operated the hay rideChildren also enjoyed the swingsOliver was in charge of the new farm storeIt was a great day, but we are so happy to be finished! Our Customer Appreciation Day is the biggest farm event of our year, and it often seems that everything we do around the house and farm is in preparation for this one day. It is so nice to have it out of the way. Now we can relax and fully enjoy the holidays and upcoming winter.
A barn cat, affectionately named, "Sheridan's Kitty", cuddled up in the hay


Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Barn Dance

(All photography courtesy of the Henderson family unless noted otherwise)The barn dance was a great success! Elliott and Oliver began planning a "Young Adult Barn Dance" a couple months ago and spent the past week clearing out the hay loft, wiring electricity, building an outhouse, constructing stairs to make the hay loft more accessible, and completing a host of other jobs in preparation for the big event. Their hard work paid off and approximately 125 old & new friends came out for the evening. After several days of pouring rain and dreary weather, the sun finally began to shine brightly and gloriously less than one hour before the first guests arrived. As friends came and eagerly awaited the square dance caller's arrival, a volleyball game took place in our front yard.Harrison watching the volleyball game...
I'm sure the cows must have been confused as to what was going on in their barn and why they weren't being milked until 9:30 pm!
Sweet Sheridan...Friends getting reacquainted... (Following three photos taken by Alexanders)Beth Nell, Kate, Maddie, and I...Kendal, Kelsey, and Erin...Mr. Henderson took some incredible pictures around the farm...
Everyone was invited to sign this board in our new farm store, which doubled as the snack and drink area... (Photos above and below taken by Alexanders) The girls brought something sweet to share, the guys brought something salty, and each family brought a drink, so three tables were filled with refreshments! After eating, everyone gathered in the hay loft for the dance.(Photos above and below courtesy of Micah)(Following two photos courtesy of the Henderson family)
After the dance caller left, some enjoyed roasting marshmallows around the bonfire while others continued to dance in the hay loft.
Thank you to all of our friends who made the long drive out to our farm to join us! To read more about the evening, check out the recent posts written by Oliver, Anna, Abigail, Rachel & Sarah, Allie, and Micah. Also, watch the video Elliott created here.


Thursday, November 12, 2009

Penny Pumpkins

In preparation for our upcoming events, I (Joy) planned to purchase some pumpkins to help with the decorating effort. I knew we couldn't afford to buy full price pumpkins so I eagerly awaited the passing of October 31st when I hoped they would be reduced.

On Sunday, November 1st, I noticed pumpkins at Walmart that had been reduced to just $1. "Just as I had hoped!" I thought. I mentioned to Timmy that we should probably buy them right away. However, he nonchalantly suggested we wait a while. I was agitated on the inside but reminded myself that usually when Timmy says or does something that doesn't make sense to me, I usually don't regret having followed his lead. So I chose to not voice my disapproval that we weren't scarfing up the bargain pumpkins.

However, as the days passed, I began to search for pumpkins at other places, only to find that everyone was sold out. No pumpkins anywhere. I wondered how I would decorate without pumpkins. How could I make our place look warm and welcoming with just a bale of hay?! I began to regret my silence just a few days earlier when I was perched directly in front of plenty of pumpkins that were just $1.

As the week drew near to the end, I decided to call the Walmart where I had spied the $1 pumpkins. The sales associate said the pumpkins were still there but the manager told them to throw them all away that day. Much to my disappointment, we were scheduled to be processing almost 100 chickens that day so it would be impossible for me to leave for the one and one half hour round trip to buy pumpkins. My thoughts went from, "God must have not wanted pumpkins this year" to "That sure didn't do me any good to be silent when I should have told Timmy we needed to get those pumpkins right that minute!".

After processing, I decided to call the Walmart one more time and ask if they disposed of the pumpkins as planned that day. What a lesson God had for me in following my husband's lead. The manager decided to further reduce the pumpkins to just one penny each! Imagine my delight as my good husband drove me to the Walmart 45 minutes away after an exhausting day of processing chickens to purchase 78 pumpkins that only cost 78 cents. I hope the reminder to follow my husband's lead won't fade when the pumpkins make their way to the pigs and cows after Thanksgiving is over. May I long remember that God often works through our husbands in ways that are not discernable to us as wives, working out the details both great and small for our ultimate good and His glory.

I'm so glad to see that God did want pumpkins this year!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

You're Invited!

Second Annual

"Day to Give Thanks for Udders"

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Rain or Shine
1:00 to 4:00 PM
at Avery's Branch Farms

~ Farm Tours
~ Hay Rides
~ Meet the Cows, Pigs, and Chickens
~ Hot Cider and Fresh Cookies
~ Showing of Newly Released "Food Inc." Movie at 2 PM
~ Lunch Offered by our Mennonite friends at Countryside Shoppe Next Door

Bring your cooler to pick up your fresh turkey and stock your freezer for the winter!

Shop for your holiday pies and sweets at Countryside Shoppe next door!

We hope to see you!

In Acceptance Lies Peace - The Rest of the Story

Since farm life is moving at a breakneck pace while we prepare for two upcoming events, I (Joy) am thankful to have found a few extra minutes today to record God's goodness to us. I'm so eager to share the wonderful things God has done since my "In Acceptance Lies Peace" post.

Although my previous post claimed victory over the desire to have a home with a decent and inhabited-looking exterior, I have to say that thoughts of a painted roof never completely left my mind. I continued to imagine creative ways in which we could afford to have the roof painted in spite of the fact that Timmy said I couldn't paint it myself and he didn't have time for the decorative project.

My final attempt to finance the job was in offering the money I would be receiving for my returned ice cream machine that had recently been shipped back to the manufacturer. In causual conversation I mentioned my offer to Tim but he quickly said that I needed to get used to the roof because it would not be painted any time soon - even if I contributed the ice cream machine money.

Meredith later told me that she was sorry that Dad said no. But I quickly replied, "As soon as Daddy told me 'no', I said a prayer to the Lord. I told Him, 'You know how I feel about living in this old, dirty-looking house. You know that I think a painted roof would make it look lived in and cared for. I'm done talking to Timmy about it. God, if You want the roof painted, will You paint it?'" It was a simple, quick prayer to the Lord but it gave me complete peace once again and my family wasn't doomed to live with a cranky, discontented mother as was the case the last time.

A couple of days later a truck came down our driveway and Timmy went out to greet them. This happens all the time as neighboring farmers stop by occasionally for a quick visit and a chat with Timmy. After a few minutes, Meredith alerted me that Daddy, along with the men from the truck, was walking around the yard and all of them were pointing at the roof. Soon after, Timmy came in the house and told me the men were metal roof painters. Seeing that our roof needed painting and they needed work, they asked Timmy if they could paint our roof. Timmy told me they were mobilizing their trucks and equipment and would be at our house within a few hours. I was so excited I shouted, "God wanted the roof painted!"

I was so overjoyed to have a home that finally looks lived in and not abandoned that I told Timmy I would thank him for the next 30 days straight - and I did (thanks to reminders from Oliver as he'd whisper to me some days, "Did you thank Dad for the roof today?"). Tim insists I missed two days so I've continued the practice as often as it crosses my mind.

As if that weren't enough, to finally have a painted roof, would you believe that the same work crew showed up a couple of weeks ago to see if they could paint the rusty, metal roofs on the barn and outbuildings? Imagine my delight when I discovered that God wanted painted roofs on the outbuildings as well!

With the house roof beautifully painted, we could begin washing the windows - an overwhelming task to say the least. In God's goodness, we were blessed beyond words when a family friend who owns a window- washing business, volunteered to wash all the windows that have been overlooked for generations. I could barely contain my excitement as he finished one room after another, leaving us at the end of the day with windows so beautifully clean. What a wonderful gift! Several weeks later I still can't get over the blessing of the clean windows. Something about the windows being clean has caused my heart to clear a major hurdle in accepting this abandoned house as my home. After the windows were cleaned, I told Timmy, "I think I can live here."

Freshly painted roofs and clean windows - surely small details in the big picture of life, yet they are precious treasures to this city girl suddenly turned farm wife. In acceptance lies peace, but oh how great the delight when the desires of our hearts are graciously lavished on us from the loving hand of our Father.