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[The Creation of the Chicken]

An unworthy Deacon, named for the brother of God: James, striving to "work out his salvation with fear and trembling" within the Tradition (paradosis) of the Eastern Orthodox Faith. It is a strange and marvelous journey, and I am accompanied by the fourfold fruit of my fecundity. My wife, the Matushka or Diaconissa Sophia, is my beloved partner in the pursuit of Theosis, and she ranks me in every way.
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Saturday, September 29, 2007

What? You would have preferred suspension?

Boys forced to do physical act of penance. Story here.

I think this is indicative of much that is wrong with our society today. If you are my age, you can recall when schools had their own form of capitol punishment, but those days are long gone, clearly.

My son comes home complaining about something like this and I wouldn't be calling an attorney, I'd be telling him that being on his hands and knees and apologizing were the LEAST of his worries. Then I'd call the principal to thank him and suggest full prostrations.

Funny that literally hitting one's knees as an act of penance should feel altogether natural to an Orthodox teen.

...offered by Dn. fdj, a sinner at 9:43 PM [+]

Friday, September 28, 2007

Respect your elders

Check THIS news video out.

"out of step with society"....ummm and what part of this should surprise you with regard to practicing the Christian faith?

Yes, let us see where the "Winner's Chapel" is in 2,000 years.

...offered by Dn. fdj, a sinner at 10:35 AM [+]

Thursday, September 27, 2007


So I took Killick "Walking with Dinosaurs" (aka chickens) again last night and he did great, though I think I stopped him just in time before eating a pile of droppings...thank God he's never been one to roll in gross things! Anyway, having so much success, I decided to try and introduce him - up close and personal - to the goats.

He was nervous about the whole affair and you could see he really was scared of them. But the goats nervously approached us a few sniffs were exchanged. Then it seemed Killick was more comfortable and he moved beyond my immediate area. Everything was fine until he came toward Firefly from the side and she decided to have none of it. She lowered her head and gave him a good hard knock. Imagine the hollow klunk sound of punching a melon without breaking it...."Dude...that was my skull!" or should it be, "Which it was my skull!"

Killick had enough and made sure I knew he wanted out of the goat pasture. I expect he won't be interested in returning.

...offered by Dn. fdj, a sinner at 3:41 PM [+]


This rather cool picture just came over the news wires and had the following intriguing caption:

A Christian Orthodox priest raises an ancient painted Bible in a picture-perfect pose inside a rock-hewn church in Lalibela, in this September 16, 2007 file photo. Ethiopia is the second oldest Christian country on earth and also possesses treasures from Muslim kingdoms, which the government hopes will help draw more travellers interested in faith. Legend has it that these churches were carved below ground at the end of 11th century and beginning of the 12th after God ordered King Lalibela to build churches the world had never seen -- and dispatched a team of angels to help him.

...offered by Dn. fdj, a sinner at 9:37 AM [+]

You can almost hear the screeching brakes...

Jane Goodall says biofuel crops hurt rain forests

At some point don't you start to wonder that the only thing you can do to save the planet is commit suicide? Maybe that will be next in our litany of suggestions.

...offered by Dn. fdj, a sinner at 9:14 AM [+]

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Another reason...

...that I am wholly unashamed to call myself a fan of Country Music. Yes...don't blink.

Another addendum
Okay, I accidentally scooped my wife, I'll admit she turned me on to this song. So, I should have let her post it and I would have settled for this one...that, how shall I say...appeals to me on a gut (maybe its a redneck gene) level. Sing it Hank:

I can run a kick butt trout (and salmon and steelhead) line, but I still need to learn to skin a deer.

...offered by Dn. fdj, a sinner at 1:53 PM [+]

The Lion shall lay down with the Lamb

Killick has long been obsessed with our chickens.

And while he has had at least two occasions in which he could have had his way with an escapee, he has not hurt any of them. He does, though, from time to time snip a few feathers off the tail end of a bird who mistakenly presented too easy a target through the fencing. Killick is VERY attuned to us - his humans. He's likely the most intelligent dog I have ever owned and knows very well that he is NOT to hurt the chickens, which is the only thing I can imagine preventing him from having a snack at opportune times.

But I am working to get him less "nervous" about being around the chickens. It's quite funny because that nervousness is similar (from my experience) to what one feels when doing something you know you shouldn't be doing. Maybe like picking your nose in public and getting caught...or perhaps worse. Killick is torn - you can see it - between the natural instinct to rip these birds apart and the instinct to commune with the pack (us) peacefully.

So I have been going into the chicken run with Killick the last few days and just hanging out there with him. The chickens, being as dumb as a bag of hammers, have absolutely no fear of him and will swarm around him - perhaps wondering if he is food. But poor Killick is caught up in a storm of paradoxical emotions that you can see on his face. He'll look up at me nervously, licking his lips, watching the bird, indecisive about whether to sit, lie down, or stand. Anyway, I give him much praise for his otherwise calm presence and I hope such therapy will help him come to a final resting place in favor (as he has done so far) of a peaceful pack community. As I said, he's a smart dog...too smart to fall for the proverb that you can't teach an old one new tricks.

In related news: a new employee is arriving at St. Brigid Farm this Friday. A very young Anatolian/Great Pyrenees/? shepherd mix. We'd been contemplating getting a young companion for Killick for a long time, and combined with the inclination to have a Livestock Guard Dog join us we have made the plunge.

LGD's are truly an amazing thing, if you think about it. How much more time have they had developing the hunting instinct as compared to the time we humans have spent with them developing a stronger bonding and protecting instinct - even for animals they would normally crave as prey? For me it is an amazing thing to see pictures like these (from the Anatolian Shepherd Dog Club):

Loyalty, devotion, and a yearning to protect are the hallmarks of breeds like this and owners have many stories of these animals giving their lives to save their flocks (be it chickens, ducks, sheep, or goats). According to the sayings of the Desert Fathers, Abba Xanthios said, "A dog is better than I am, for he has love and he does not judge."

Well I think the Abba rather underestimates the dog...sometimes they do judge - as they should...but certainly they love as I often fail to do. Here are three Great Pyrenees judging that this brown bear is not allowed and in so doing, loving those they are intended to protect.

Our little girl is in the very back with the black mask. Now...names?

Addendum II:
I had meant to write this earlier, but got distracted during the original post.

You will, from time to time hear notions in agrarian writings of how humankind through through our farming can bring order and beauty to the earth. There is also a sense of priestly duties in such work: bringing nature back to God - in a way. We stand with one foot in the seen realm and one foot in the unseen realm and we are the very connecting point between heaven and earth - perfected and made whole through the Incarnation. To some degree, we lead the created toward the uncreated....and I wonder to what extent the image of a carnivorous dog caring for a newborn goat - what normally would have been its prey had it not been for humankind's intervention - I wonder to what extent this image is a small icon of our role on earth?

The Lion laying down with the lamb...sorta.

...offered by Dn. fdj, a sinner at 9:49 AM [+]

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

The Deafening Silence

I am sometimes privy to some insightful conversations that are quite unexpected and perhaps only discerned as such by someone as crazy as me. But recently a couple of acquaintances of mine were lamenting about not having any money...something with which I am more than a little familiar. But the same conversation "ended" with an announcement of intent to go out to dinner and then picking up a couple of decidedly unnecessary consumer products. Hmmm...see when I am "out of money", going out to dinner doesn't happen and buying some "toys" certainly doesn't happen.

Now, don't get me wrong, I am no grand master of fiscal responsibility. In fact I'm horrible at it, but I certainly DO KNOW what it means to not have any money. It's that end of the month time when we hunker and down and REALLY live off of the land. In truth, we start living the way we COULD live through the entire month and then we would have money for little things like, oh...ummm....EMERGENCIES.

Conversations often weave around the need for two incomes in the home and the cost of daycare and the price of milk and then it descends to the exorbitant amount of cash required to have a flat panel TV, or 178 channels of satellite TV, an 8GB download speed internet connection, the newest video game console, and then the new(er) car payment, the boat payment, the motorcycle payment, etc etc. In the end, is it any wonder how we play ourselves into the need to work like mad and then when we do work like mad, ironically, we find ourselves either eating out or utilizing expensive and unhealthy processed foods...but what choice do we have? Have you seen the frightening foods being marketed to us for the speed and ease of preparation? Like making a box of Mac n' Cheese was a long process to begin with that we should now need "instant" Microwavable kid's portions packs of it?

I wondered aloud if the reason why we live this way and our parents or grandparents didn't was perhaps because we had a higher expectation level for our affluence. All agreed and I then asked: "What can we do about it?" Utter silence.

My co-conversationalists' silence is less interesting to me than my own. We have made numerous life decisions that are supposed to overturn the wild suburban ride we'd been on before and yet we have left much undone yet. The acquisition of toys and generally just spending money we do not have (keeping up with Jones' - as if we can even see the Jones' toys??!?! - in some cases, but in others just being luxurious with food) we find ourselves in the same web of TRULY not having money...even though we continue to manage to function on one generally humble salary.

I have to stop and ask, if we lived all the time as we do when we are TRULY out of money, then perhaps the stress of worrying about money would be gone? Yes, I have no doubt, our drunkenness with toys and affluence is killing us, not only as individuals and families, but as a society as well. Getting out of suburbia is fulfilling a dream for us, but part of that dream ought to include the suburban materialistic trappings as well.

The deafening silence isn't in reference to the conversation, it is in reference to me not doing anything.

...offered by Dn. fdj, a sinner at 9:04 AM [+]

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Darkness Reconsidered

On the other hand, no matter how trite it may seem, Vespers tonight reminded me that the service has a significantly higher "cool" factor in the dark.

...offered by Dn. fdj, a sinner at 9:35 PM [+]

Moral Clarity

NY university urged to cancel Ahmadinejad speech

This is excellent:
U.S. State Department spokesman Tom Casey said Washington does not dictate to universities who should be allowed speak at such events.

"We have no particular desire to censor anyone's ideas. I wish I could say the same for Iran," Casey told reporters.

BOOM! Point, set, match.

Ah, if only Stalin and Hitler were alive to attend as well.

...offered by Dn. fdj, a sinner at 3:17 PM [+]


For some reason it hit me like a ton of briks this morning. As I walked out the front door, I suddenly realized I had no means of seeing my way to the farm truck I was to drive to the Park and Ride. Utter blackness waiting for me to jump in...almost menacingly, it told me to get a flashlight. Just another line in a sad litany announcing Fall's imminent arrival.

For things done and left undone, I feel as if the summer has lept clear over us and headed south as the sun begins its ever closing embrace of the southern horizon; to me it seems a million years from now before it will begin a new ascent. I had thought my three weeks in Ugandan had led me to feel this way, but everyone who has remained here for the duration seems to agree that we never had much of a summer. Global warming enthusiasts will have to redouble their efforts in telling us that actual temperatures from day to day....well you know.

Much remains to be done and we have recently decided that satellite television had become too much of an distraction to us and so we have given it a proper burial. Who knows, maybe I will pray more, do a little needed work around the house in the evenings, or even perhaps finish that eternally undone novel of mine. I feel a little depressed knowing that in a matter of weeks I will only see my farm in daylight on the weekends.

Ancient analogies of dark and light, whether religious in nature or mere remnants of times when we were once more readily made nocturnal prey, rings so true to me now. God grant we do not have another winter like the last one. But we are ready...it's part of the adventure I suppose...man vs. nature and all.

Hey, now I feel a little excited. Bring it on! Keep the candles lit.

...offered by Dn. fdj, a sinner at 2:28 PM [+]

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Happy Belated Namesday to the MRS

While we would need to change some of the lyrics (e.g. milk the goat, feed the chickens, tend the garden, scoop some poop, drops by the feed and tack, helps to dial in the scope of the varmint gun), the sentiment is still the same:

She’s in the kitchen at the crack of dawn
Bacon’s on, coffee’s strong
Kids running wild, taking off their clothes
If she’s a nervous wreck, well it never shows
Takes one to football and one to dance
Hits the Y for aerobics class
Drops by the bank, stops at the store
Has on a smile when I walk through the door
The last to go to bed, she’ll be the first one up
And I thought I was tough

She’s strong, pushes on, can’t slow her down
She can take anything life dishes out
There was a time
Back before she was mine
When I thought I was tough

Susan Sophia...indeed....'twas her simple yet profound country wisdom that led us to where we are today.

Give her a round of "Many Years!"

...offered by Dn. fdj, a sinner at 1:02 PM [+]

This land, is it a means for earning money or is it a holy place?

An interesting STORY.

...offered by Dn. fdj, a sinner at 12:31 PM [+]

Saturday, September 15, 2007

All the Bells and Whistles

Some of the criticisms leveled at Orthodox worship is related to our externals: fancy vestments, candles, bells, censors, golden book covers etc etc..."not neccesary" we are often told, or even potential dangerous because it can lead us to focus on externals. (Actually, as a side, it's okay to focus on externals from time to time.)

So I see this story about a "mass baptism" being interrupted by a seal pup on the shore of Alki Beach. Hmmm...so I click on it and find that it is our very own post-modern mega church "Mars Hill." It's great to see 200 people get baptized (however they may understand the concept), but what struck me was what they felt was needed to literally "set up" there for this baptism. And here I was thinking they'd just head down to the beach and do it...watch the VIDEO.

I must admit, seeing a "production team" constructing a large metal framework stage as if U2 were going to perform, had me cracking up a bit. Compare and contrast with our Great Blessing of the waters where we just show up...with fancy vestments, but no electricity, drums, headgear microphones, speakers, stage lighting, video projectors/screens needed etc needed. Talk about bells and whistles.

Note what one person said about being outside: "...this just seemed much more real."

I wonder why?

...offered by Dn. fdj, a sinner at 1:07 PM [+]

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Go Vegan to save the planet from global warming

Eating less meat may slow climate change

Ah yes, we've discussed something similar to this before, no? Interesting to see that now even "The Lancet" has joined in on the global warming research gold rush...I'm sure if I worked hard enough I could convince people of a need for and develop a more earth friendly Polymerase and sell it.

"Cows, sheep, and goats" are the bad guys here and yet really, think about it, how much sheep and goat consumption happens here in America? Not much...it seems to me the REAL enemy is not the people who raise the animals for a few months (or often much less) and then kill and eat them, but the maniacs (like yours truly) who KEEP these animals alive for long periods of time in order to use their various products like wool and milk (the latter of which of course requires breeding - though I suppose we could start a policy of mandatory cow abortions.) I mean at any given time, are there more dairy cows or beef cows in the world? Can anyone say for sure...the beef cows come and go all the time - like the half of one coming to my house this weekend (I'll offer Al Gore a toast while I grill the first steak). Actually, if this website is correct there are approximately 900,000 dairy cows in the United States, while this website reports that in 1999 there were only 85,000 beef cattle. Hello? Eating them is the problem??? I don't believe it...is there is a PETA agenda at work here? Naw...couldn't be. Anyway, I hope you all are ready to give up your meat, your wool socks, your milk (cow or goat), your cheese, for the sake of Mother Earth. Where will it end?

"If we ate less red meat, it would also help stop the obesity epidemic."

How do I say this politely? Crap, crap, crap...nothing but crap. Another desperate appeal to another "epidemic". Anyone see a pattern developing? Man, this whole vegan thing is a magic cure for so many catastrophic problems! It's amazing! Like Coca-cola, microwavable macaroni and cheese, potato chips, and Malted Sugar Bomb cereal wouldn't easily fill the dietary hole made by eliminating meat? Puhlease. Heck, dump that former stuff and stick to good quality meat instead and I'll bet you'd see obesity go down...not to mention getting our kids to play outside from time to time.

"But eating less meat could definitely be one way to reduce gas emissions and climate change."

By the logic of this story, shouldn't we wipe out all of the world's gas-ridden ruminants? All of us should get a hunting license and kill all camels, alpacas, llamas, giraffes, bison, buffalo, European bison, yaks, water buffalo, deer, wildebeest and antelopes. All hunting restrictions should be lifted and this would likely bring an end to poverty and hunger throughout the world - as surely as eating less meat would stop global warming and reduce obesity.

...offered by Dn. fdj, a sinner at 10:31 AM [+]

Coptic Calender Millennium
Orthodox in Ethiopia celebrate

More pics to be seen HERE.

...offered by Dn. fdj, a sinner at 7:32 AM [+]

New Patriarch of Romania


...offered by Dn. fdj, a sinner at 7:27 AM [+]

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

It will indeed be WHAT'S FOR DINNER!

Oh yes, we've just heard that our locally bred and raised beef will be arriving (cut and wrapped) this weekend!

Tell me again Sam?

Now, HUM along with me.

...offered by Dn. fdj, a sinner at 1:16 PM [+]

Weekend update and Pallet Coops

My weekend ended today...and it was a busy one. My father came to town to play in a Table Tennis Tournament (he took second place in the under 1600 bracket) and then he helped me get the wiring done in the cabin - actually, I helped him whereas I think he kinda likes doing electrical work and has the head knowledge that I would have to painstakingly gain from a book.

We also went fishing yesterday and I landed a very nice bright Pink Salmon which we tossed on the BBQ when we got home. It was a gorgeous day and was warm enough that I didn't use waders and instead just donned a pair of shirts, dumped my shoes and waded out barefooted into the cold Puget Sound waters. I strung up a lighter rod and quickly found that the buzzbomb lures were too heavy for it so I switched to a lighter spoon and on my second cast I had the Pink - not too much fight, but a few short runs and since the rules dictate barbless hooks, every little run and pause has a tendency to rack one's nerves. I also gave the girls some training and I must say they did very well. In no time they were casting very well and doing so rather consistently. They need some more practice in dealing with knots and loops in their reel, but that will come. The real success was that I only lost my patience once and in that instance I fixed the problem (it was of course terminal and needed a complete regearing), apologized, and set her back up to try again....affirming them both that they are doing a great job.

Really, if you are an angler and you are even semi-serious about it, taking a couple of little kids out fishing can be a massive ascetic labor. I'm sure some of you people being more advanced in your enlightenment than I am don't have any idea what I am talking about, but for the rest of us putting aside your own fishing in order to untangle the 23rd knotted mess for a day is a trial. However, the girls made my labors easier than I thought they would be...the biggest problem was that they had to share a rod, which of course becomes THEIR ascetic labor. (And Mom's and Dad's)

I'm going to try and start wrapping and siding the cabin. I need to have it done soon...certainly before winter and the rains begin. I can do the toilet and floor in the bathroom anytime...sigh...not looking forward to that job. Trying to find a place to get pallets for free for our new flock of chickens...any suggestions? Check these out: HERE, HERE, and HERE. I notice on craigslist that there are tons of free pallets over on the eastside of the Sound...but not as many on our side of the water. Gonna have to work a plan.

We shall see how our pallet coop turns out. Just one of many to do's. I asked for this, I got it. Wouldn't change it.

...offered by Dn. fdj, a sinner at 8:17 AM [+]

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Memory Eternal

St. Catherine Church of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad in Moscow marks the sixth anniversary of Sept. 11:

US Ambassador to Russia William J. Burns.

...offered by Dn. fdj, a sinner at 7:52 AM [+]

Friday, September 07, 2007


I hear it regularly from the mouths of those who would no doubt consider themselves the very pinnacle of political correctness and tolerance as they bestow from on high all manner of derision upon the people of regions they deem to be unenlightened, ignorant, prejudiced, and backwards. The "fly-over" states or the conservative "backwoods" of the south...any place where rednecks, cowboys, farmers, NRA members, hunters, church-goers, or NASCAR fans may be found in relative abundance are all subject to such derision and disdain. Remember where NBC decided to send their "stunt Muslims" to show how prejudiced Americas are? That's right, NASCAR events, and alas despite their preconceived beliefs they were unable to find any worthy instances of redneck prejudice...funny how they never showed this piece, isn't it? Maybe they should have sent some NASCAR fans adorned richly with #3's to an Al Gore disciple's rally? Yes, I am sure many of "rednecks" return the favor to their coastal elite counterparts, but then again we rather expect that don't we? The extent to which people apparently look down their noses at rural boondockers has come as rather a shock to me lately.

You may recall awhile back during one of the republican presidential debates the questions was asked "is there anyone on the stage that does not believe in evolution?" Now if you stop and think about it, what an odd question to ask a politician! What exactly do the possible replies tell us about a candidate? Besides the fact that to "believe in evolution" is an exceptionally obscure question, as Logan Gage notes in this excellent article when he writes:

What makes the original question difficult to answer yes or no is that “evolution” can mean many things. It can range from simple change over time, which no one disputes, to the specifically Darwinian idea that all of life’s diversity — from bald eagles to newborn baby boys — is owed to the mindless process of natural selection and random mutations and nothing more. As the eminent Harvard Paleontologist George Gaylord Simpson famously summarized it, “Man is the result of a purposeless and natural process that did not have him in mind.”

So if the questioner meant the latter "mindless process" then I would have to say that I am an evolutionary infidel. And having said so, the bigotry would suddenly be heaped upon me. For you see, being a republican is not quite enough to earn you the label of a backwoods creationist bible-thumper, but to outright deny evolution (no matter how many paragraphs you OUGHT to be allowed to have to explain such a denial) is a cardinal sin...even worse than calling into question the data on global warming. Those who did raise their hands on that stage are now hopelessly lumped into the coastal elitist's stereotypes worthy of their self-righteous disdain.

Well, the world of politics is one thing, but such truly mindless bigotry is not limited to politics. Sadly, more and more, Science is the new church for our age. A brief perusal of news stories ought to quickly convince you that we rather expect that science should be able to provide us with all of the answers we need in life (and indeed some we do not need). Here's a recent example: THIS news story about the increase in teen suicide rates is making the rounds right now and my local paper chose the following title for it: "Teen Suicide Rates Up, But Scientists Can't Discern Why?"

Has anyone stopped to consider that maybe we shouldn't expect scientists to be able discern why? I doubt it. As I said, our society looks to science to entertain us, to explain us, and yes even to save us. Can anything escape the materialistic grasp of holy mother science? Our new church...and this church has about as much mercy on dissenters as the medieval church is perceived to have had on heretics. Don't believe so?

I recently met a scientist who has to live in virtual hiding. In fact I dare not even mention his name or how I know him because he was all but driven from his home and place of employment by the scientific villagers wielding pitchforks and torches. He had dared to suggest that the scientific community should be more open to new ideas and debate, specifically with regard to some very credible data that calls into question many basic assumptions of neo-darwinism. But, just as the medieval Church shut down Galileo, so now dissenting voices in science (no matter that many of them have outstanding credentials, data to support their positions, and seriously well reasoned arguments) are silenced and run out of town. Instead of their data being examined or their ideas being discussed they are simply labeled EXACTLY like the Republican candidates who dared to raise their hands at the debate: creationists, backwoods psuedo-scientists, religious maniacs, or members of bible-thumping "sleeper cells."

Having one's career ruined and their reputation tainted isn't all that happens either: their CV's are ran through with a fine toothed comb, their personal lives examined, their outside of the lab activities monitored as frothing-at-the-mouth opponents search for a smoking gun that will prove their prey isn't a real scientist. Emails are sent out en mass with libelous statements, harassing phone calls, letters, and emails...even physical threats! And in one case a scientist was actually assaulted and seriously hurt.

More and more I think I have never met a more intolerant set of people than lofty coastal elitists who believe they know everything. It's so ironic that they wrap themselves up in garments of peace, love, and tolerance...while they likely have no qualms in branding evolution or global warming dissenting scientists with a scarlet letter, after all they dared to move into their neighborhood.

This elitist bigotry can often be found in Academia of all disciplines. Ben Stein is coming out with a film next year that exposes the intellectual bigotry being experienced by numerous scientists today. Make sure to see it.

...offered by Dn. fdj, a sinner at 7:15 AM [+]

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Some pics of Orthodoxy in action recently
Blessing Russian Sailors and Marines:

Remembering Beslan:

Mass baptisms in Macedonia:

...offered by Dn. fdj, a sinner at 8:07 AM [+]

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Rural Lessons Learned

A very long time ago I should have started this: a simple list of mostly simple lessons I have learned since moving to the farm. This is a short list of some things, starting with the most recent I have learned.

1. A well sharpened chainsaw makes a WORLD of difference. Learn to sharpen your chain and keep it as sharp as you would keep your powder dry.

2. The vast majority of spiders are your friends and coworkers.

3. In Kitsap County you cannot target shoot on your land unless you have at least 5 acres. You can however shoot any animal that you feel is endangering you or your livestock.

4. Hens (not just Roosters) are noisy and will make an astonishing racket when laying eggs.

5. Street Lights do not grow on trees and when it gets dark, it REALLY gets dark. Flashlights are your new companion and the sort that mount on your noggin are particularly helpful when doing chores.

6. Beer tastes significantly better when sitting on the porch after a long hard and painful day's work of setting fence posts and stretching wire (et. al.)

7. Goats will get in your way while chopping wood as they try and eat the scraps. And when you rest for a spell they will seek out a taste of your salty sweat which is not only gross, but can also be painful.

8. No matter where you go, there you are. In other words, you must still wrestle with the same old self...albeit in a different context.

...offered by Dn. fdj, a sinner at 5:15 PM [+]

Some...timely pics

I can't decide whose reputation this more improves in my mind, John's or Fred's.

In case you don't know, that's Gretchen Wilson and Cowboy Troy joining them.

I have long enjoyed Fred's no nonsense commentaries over the last few years, I really think he has a lot more going for him than star power. His emphasis on federalism strikes a very tender cord in my political heart, and I really think we could use a healthy dose of political speak that leads us back (ahem...conservatism) to the way our government was designed to function.

I do not envy what he is going to have to endure after tomorrow...they've already given him a preview, but it seems thus far none of the mud has stuck. Looking forward to the announcement, and then the first REAL debate.

...offered by Dn. fdj, a sinner at 7:35 AM [+]

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Things done and things left undone

We are fast approaching our 1 year anniversary of packing up and leaving suburbia for rural farm living and this fact has put me in a reflective mood. Much of our property remains a bit of a mess as we are still doing construction work on the cabin, though really only wrap, siding, electrical and drywall remains to be done - save of course the details of molding and painting. I am hoping for a dry and warm September to finish up a few winter preparing tasks.

So, what things have we done in the last year? Well, we do have a functional cabin as noted (thanks in no small part to many friends - and especially to our architect and master carpenter Rade). We converted/remodeled a shed to be a chicken coop and then fenced off a large area for the chicken run - large enough to be separated into two "pastures." We then acquired 26 chickens (was supposed to be 25 but we apparently got one extra), two died apparently from transit (you may recall they were "lost" for an extra day) and then one would die from some form of fratricide...otherwise we succesfully raised 23 chickens into adult egg producing machines...the sales of which have been effectively paying for the supplemental food we give the birds.

Then we remodeled the barn and fenced in a section of pasture around it to host the two Nubian goats we purchased. It all came out very nicely per my wife's design and included sectioning the barn in half, making stalls, and adding a front wall with two different gates/doors. I even managed (without breaking it) to install an old antique window that had been left laying around. And so now, outside of some supplementary cheese products, the majority of our dairy arrives into our fridge from some 150 feet away. This alone means I am doing more for the environment than Al Gore.

To offset this good deed I have stored up what I hope to be enough wood for the winter and ALL of it (save some my brother-in-law acquired for me) originated from our land. Suffice to say we will have paid for our heat this winter with our own sweat...and the sweat of a few friends.

Sue did most of the garden preparation. We both realize that it is perhaps half as large as we would like it to be, but we will increase it for next season. We dug several beds and have a good deal of beans (just now coming out in seriously edible numbers), a couple of varieties of peas, potatoes, spinach, pumpkins, carrots, and a large swath of tomatoes that are doing well so far. Actually I should let Sue report on the garden stuff as she is clearly the green thumb of the family - I am sure there are more things growing out there, but these are my favorites so far...hopefully we will continue to grow and have less and less need for veggies grown anywhere but here.

Additionally we have done innumerable small things and projects - too many to list. As was expected for each livestock or garden related duty we finish it ends up spelling more daily duties, such that even when we aren't busy, we are busy...to some degree. Add on homeschooling, church and the retarded "real" job in the city and we fairly meet the criteria of being busy. Sue is really deserving of praise in this regard...she is a true homesteader in many senses of the word.

I slaughtered my first farm animal (a troublesome rooster), Sue cleaned it and cooked it, and then we all ate it. Delicious.

Just this weekend we were reminded that living in the forest can be dangerous. In preparing for this I have acquired a number of firearms (not to mention the fact that police response to my house can be as long as 20 minutes - country homes would be a PRIME spot for home invasion robberies because neighbors will not hear or see a thing, except for one problem directed at bad guys: the common presence of firearms in rural homes). Correlating with these purchases, we now have a family membership at the local sportsman's club where we can practice and receive safety training. I do hope to do some hunting (and fishing) as we become more established and settled.

Things left undone: In the house I STILL have to replace the downstairs toilet and floor...I'm hoping to do this this week. Also I have two more windows to install (we did manage to get two done). Outside we have barn/coop painting to do...we have been collecting cheap "oops" paint in order to do this...not quite ready as we are trying to find shades of red to mix together. I need to install a gutter and drain on the back of the barn, I did finish one on the front, but the back really could use one too...I also will have these drain into barrels to collect the water...though with all the rain we have gotten I'm not sure much of it would have been needed this year. Also, in front of the barn and through the chicken run we have some drainage issues that need to be addressed...a sort of french drain is in working through my cluttered brain.

Once these are accomplished, I think I will have done most all that I wanted to over this past year. Now, we are also looking to the future...I am fairly sure we have decided to start our next flock of chickens soon. It will press us into getting the new run and coop set up and this will afford us the ability to have the chickens not be quite so young during the cold, wet, and often powerless winter. We are shooting for 50 birds...yes I said fifty which will bring our total to 73! I'm told we are getting a 50/50 mix of black australorps and rhode island reds.

We had planned on doing pigs...but after meeting the miniature hereford rancher from Sequim we are now wondering about raising them. The plan would be to clear a significant portion of our land just east of the seasonal pond and use it for pasture, but one of the issues we wrestle with is knowing precisely where our property lines are located, but we are currently working this problem. Overall, it may be a while before this all happens: pigs or cows.

The goats will be freshened sometime in the near future and then we will have AT LEAST two new kids to deal with (Goats usually have twins so we likely will have four) and then we will also have two lactating does and so this means we will have an abundance of dairy. Hopefully we can try our hands at making some of the hard cheeses like cheddar. All of this will be quite an experience. We have learned much this past year and have much more to learn - we look forward to it!

I'll have a few more "anniversary" thoughts later that I suspect won't read quite as much like a "to do" list.

...offered by Dn. fdj, a sinner at 7:20 AM [+]

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