Bouncer gives Brandi "the caring paw," as we like to call it:
Brandi holding Bouncer's neck:
Bouncer gives Brandi "the caring paw," as we like to call it:
Here's a photo of Brandi learning how to gut a duck. That guy who's with her was our volunteer helper who was learning how to process ducks right along with us. He knew a wee bit more than we did, and that made him very helpful.
Here's a bonus photo of the truck someone in my church gave me. Yes, it was given to me. I'm very thankful.
I'm in Houston for my aunt's funeral. I'm glad she's with the Lord now.
Questions of science, science and progress, could not speak as loud as my heart ...
Since its inception this blog has been more of a personal journal than anything else. I always thought it would serve well as a sort of time capsule, capturing various events and thoughts that happen during my journey through life. With that said, I'm not sure how long I'll keep journaling here, but for now, I wanted to write something for my children. They don't consistently read this blog, but I'm sure some day they'll scan these pages, find this post, and hopefully get a glimpse of my heart.
Nathan -- As I write this you're 10 years old. I'll never forget when your mommy and I found out she was pregnant and that we were going to have a baby boy -- we were so happy. And the day you were born was one of the happiest days we've ever had. Since that day in 1999, you've brought us so much joy. I never knew how much I could love another human being until you came into my life. Nathan, I love you so much it hurts. I love you, my son. I love you, and I'm so proud of you. I'm proud of the man that you are becoming and I'm proud of everything you do. Please know that nothing can ever separate you from Jesus' love, and all I want for you is to live for Him. Follow Him all of your days. I love you, Nathan.
Daniel -- When your mommy and I found out we were having another boy, we rejoiced! We knew you and Nathan would be lifelong friends, and we knew you would always be there for each other. As you grew older, your sweet personality captivated us and to this day we love your sensitive nature and the fact that you seem to love hugs more than any of your siblings. Daniel, you make me so happy. I love you. You're a handsome young man and I know God has special things in store for your life. Please always know that your daddy loves you, and that Jesus loves you too. No matter what, Jesus is always with you.
Abigail -- You're a beautiful princess, because you belong to the King of Kings. Oh Abigail, you remind me of your mommy so much. You're sweet like her, your hair is curly like her hair, and you're every bit as beautiful as your mommy. I love you so much, Abigail. I'll always keep you in my heart, and I'll always love and pray for you -- as long as you live! You can live all of your life, Abigail, knowing that your daddy loves you. I love you, my little princess. I love you! Remember, Jesus loves you more than anyone, and He always will.
Evangeline -- My little angel, Eve. You came into our lives a little over a year ago, and you came as a gift from God, like a shower of grace just when we needed it. I'll always believe that on that warm June day in 2009, when you came into the world and your mommy and I held you, we realized that we needed you just as much as you needed us. Your name, Evangeline Grace, echoes the Gospel of Grace, and your life is a tangible reflection of Abba's grace in our lives. We didn't deserve you, but God gave you to us anyway. I'll always love you no matter what. You can never lose my love, ever.
Mr. Smith has been a real blessing to us since we've moved in. He's shredded our field, plowed our garden, and he's given us plenty of homesteading advice. The other day while Brandi was out walking he said, "Come on by sometime and we'll pick y'all a mess of potatoes from my garden." So we took him up on the offer last night ...
On our way out to his place. He lives about a mile away from us.
Showing the monkeys how to pick potatoes.
Going at it.
Part of the haul. We ended getting probably twice that amount along with some onions and squash.
Daniel: "I'm driving a tractor!"
Bird eggs in one of his fields.
Picking wild berries on the way home.
Our berry-stained hands.
We went on an excursion tonight to our neighbor's place about a mile down the road from us. He's a retired fellow with a nice three-acre homestead. He was kind enough to let us dig in his garden a bit and the kids pulled out probably five pounds of potatoes plus a few onions and a bunch of squash. When we got home Brandi boiled the potatoes and cooked up some onion and squash along with a banana pepper and bell pepper that we pulled out of our garden this morning. To that recipe we added some polish sausage from the grass-fed beef we've been buying. What a meal! We savored every bite.
Oh, I almost forgot to mention that the kids got to ride (and steer) a 1946 John Deere tractor while they were there. They loved it. I'll try and post some photos tomorrow or Monday.
We had a busy weekend. On Saturday morning Brandi and I went to some friends' house to use their equipment -- and expertise! -- to slaughter our five egg-eating hens. As we were gutting the chickens we actually recovered two fully formed eggs. Now those chickens are meat and they live inside our deep freezer; they've got a better life in there. ;-)
Brandi and I have recently decided to take the plunge into natural, grass-fed beef. We found a farmer who sells grass-fed beef and he lives only about 10 minutes or so from our place. He invited us out to his acreage for a tour, and we had quite a fun time out there bouncing around on their ATV while we shot the bull about cattle, grass maintenance, and field rotations. "We're not cattle raisers; we're grass farmers," the farmer said jokingly. "If you take care of your grass, the cattle will have no problems." Their operation was awesome, and just what you'd expect: a warm and friendly retired couple living on 50 or 60 acres and making a living off of raising and selling grass-fed beef. The whole atmosphere was very pioneering, very American. And it was nice to see exactly where the meat we're going to eat is coming from. We made our first purchase while we were out there.
Brandi and I finished the day off with a nice dinner at a quaint little Italian place in a quaint little town about 20 miles from Waco. We had a nice time.
Showing up for the slaughter:
Our hostess greets us with a knife:
The Country Mama hostess shows Brandi the gutting ropes:
Brandi and the gals doing the finishing touches:
Later that day, on the cattle tour:
Up close and personal:
"Scratch 'em behind their ears," the farmer said, and I gladly obliged:
Later at the Italian place, Brandi said, "Leave the gun; take the cannoli." At least that's what I wanted her to say:
Bonus shots of our broody duck hen and bantam hen. The duck is sitting on roughly 20 eggs, and the bantam is sitting on around 12 eggs:
Now for a couple of bonus photos that are not for the faint of heart. See below for a couple of photos of chickens about to meet their maker. Viewer discretion is advised:
Read the rest of this entry . . .
So about a week ago we lost our drake (our boy duck). When we went to dinner he was out in the pasture, and when we got back about an hour later, he was gone. I should have cooped him, but oh well.
With a missing drake we were down to just one lonely duck hen. Today I finally rectified that and acquired a new drake from an acquaintance of ours. He (the drake) has already gotten to know the hen, if you know what I mean. We clipped both of their wings and we're going to keep them cooped up in our little fenced off yard until they produce some babies. Supposedly, those duck hens are awesome about going broody and we can expect at least a dozen or more duck babies here in a few weeks. We'll see. Our long-term plan for our ducks is to harvest their meat and eat their eggs.
Speaking of harvesting meat, the big slaughter date for our meat birds is this Saturday. Come hell or high water we're going to harvest 17 birds this Saturday and eat a yummy fried chicken meal that evening.
Here are some scenes from the farm this past weekend ...
When I got home from work Friday, this was the scene in the garden:
Our new bantam (miniature) chickens. They're wyandottes, and they're about half the size of a standard chicken. Our plan is to let them live in the garden, once the plants get to a decent size, so they can eat bugs around the clock.
Two of our laying hens, doing their job:
Now that the weather is just about perfect, it's a great day for a work day outside. We've already put in a couple of hours so far (it's noon right now). I've got to mow the entire lawn area (about .75 acres that I do on a riding mower; the rest of the land I'll get my neighbor to shred with his tractor at some point), clean out part of the barn, stack some wood, and do a few other odd jobs. Brandi plans on working in the garden, getting it ready for plants.
Here's a photo of the kiddos gathering hay this morning:
A few photos from the past few days ...
From Daniel and Abigail's shared birthday party last weekend:
Daniel's alligator cake (I'd like to add that my lovely and talented wife made the cakes)
Abigail's princess castle cake
Abigail, half a second before she blew out her candles
Nathan and Abby inspecting the cakes
A family dinner later that weekend
Daniel and Abby, "happily" eating at the bar (they really were happy, despite their droopy faces)
Our meat birds (we have 17 of them and we'll slaughter them in less than three weeks)
Our new-to-us chicken tractor! It's pretty big, roughly 50 square feet, and I plan to put four new laying hens in there this week (notice the cool nesting box on the right side for easy egg collection)
- We celebrated Daniel's 9th birthday and Abigail's 6th birthday concurrently with a big celebration on Saturday. We had a great time with a bounce house and something like 20 or 30 guests. I'll post some pics soon (hopefully).
- We're going to slaughter our current crop of meat birds on March 27. We've got 17 of them to butcher, and we're thinking that the current meat flock will get us through the summer. On a related note, I'm thinking about raising a few birds -- maybe a dozen or so -- to sell to friends who may want to buy farm-fresh chickens.
- Brandi's still slowly making progress on digging up the roots in our soon-to-be garden. I think we'll be happy this year if we can get by with some tomatoes, a few greens, and a little bit of experience under our belts.
- I rode my riding mower this past weekend for the first time in many months. I love being on that thing and watching grass and weeds just disappear as I ride over them.
Brandi and I really liked this one. It was taken in the morning hours, after it had snowed most of the night.
My kids are awesome. They never complain about having to do chores. I say, "Go unload the dishwasher," and they say, "Yes, daddy," and then they promptly do it. I say, "Go bring in firewood," and they say, "Yes, daddy," and they promptly bring in wood. I say, "Go do your chicken chores," and they practically run to do them. And they never complain! I'm amazed at how good they are.