Tuesday, August 12, 2014

An Excerpt From the Farmer's Wife's Journal

I'm the Farmer's Wife...on our farm it's never ever
really quiet...there's always something going on, come on
over to the farm and join us for a day on the farm.

There's a lot going on in the farmhouse...and farm for that matter lately. With 12 children ranging from 11 months to 25 living on the farm there is never a really quiet moment. Come on over and join us for a "day" on the farm.

When I think it should be quiet...it's loud around the farm. With over 600 chickens on the farm, roosters
start crowing between 3:30-4:30 a.m. Usually I love to hear a rooster, but right now the movable pens are right outside my bedroom window. This pen has adolescent roosters trying desperately to crow the sun up...they sound more like squeaky doors! We also have a few rogue chickens that range about the farm. The rooster that accompanies the small group likes to sit under our window and make sure the Farmer and his wife is awake. Anyone for chicken soup?!

First to rise in the morning are the adults on the farm...details of the day start taking shape in our minds as the coffee is ground, laundry loads are (prayerfully) switched for the last time and quiet corners are sought for private devotions with our Lord. Thoughtful Farmer Steve delivered a cup of strawberry tea to my desk, so I savor this quiet time of day...or is it?  Well, it's almost quiet...the coffee grinder, wild washer, and dryer join the chickens early morning chorus.

By 6 a.m. though everyone should be moving! (Should is the key word here though as some need extra "motivation" depending on if they worked a market somewhere the evening before and got home late.) The children are having their devotions/Bible time, neatening their rooms, and then getting to their morning chores. 

Farmer Steve with our award
winning Sun Gold Cherry
Farmer Steve is answering e-mails for FARM (East Tennessee's Farmer's Association For Retail Marketing) where he is President, and working with the online Cumberland Sustainable Farmer's Market that we manage until he hears the breakfast bell ring. I make breakfast while encouraging productivity among the troop!

I hear the pump running down by the pond, so Adam (23 yrs., 11 1/2 mo.) must be out watering the greenhouses, Caleb (22) is
taking care of the chickens and hogs just down the lane, and Isaac (20) is in charge of cleaning the upstairs of the farmhouse. (He's the bold bedroom inspector!) Titus(18 This week!) is my odd job man plus  keeps the grounds neat outside. Noah (15 for
a few more weeks)  takes care of the ducks, and keeps our 
packing-shed porch semi-organized. Faith Anne (13) rises early to pack a good lunch for the men to take to the other farm, and helps with breakfast. Luke (11) empties all the trash cans in the house and burns. Levi (8) has the task of keeping our mudroom mud-free and organized before helping where he is most needed. And lastly Charity (6 1/2) empties the

Caleb and Charity
dishwasher and dish drainer before she can eat. If all goes well, we'll have an organized house and farm chores done by the time the retired Coast Guard ship's bell on the porch is rung for breakfast.

We all enjoy mealtimes when we can be together! Talk is lively about crops, politics, movies, and what
Our tradition is to put a
candle in the biscuit on
a birthday breakfast.
Titus turned 18 this week!
happened at the markets. We always cook 2 dozen eggs, make a loaf of homemade bread into toast or make 50+ biscuits, sausage, granola, and fruit. When winter rolls around again we add oatmeal or grits and gravy to the egg menu too. My active family eats a lot..people are amazed when join us around the farmhouse table.

When the conversation winds down (or gets wound down by Daddy) we begin our family Bible time. Farmer Steve is my favorite Bible teacher! Since he knows our needs, weaknesses, and faults, he can teach to the hurts, expound on our joys, and further teach what we've heard as a family at church. We pray that the lessons taught around our 12' breakfast table will make a lasting impact on our children's lives for eternity!

After breakfast time the family splits up into groups to finish up the remaining home farm jobs. Sometimes the greenhouses takes longer to water, fencing needs attention, and there is always a long list of must-be-done-soon jobs that get done slowly. Soon though, a group is off for our other farm where the majority of the crops are grown. 

Today the "boys" are pulling plastic mulch, tilling up ground to plant fall crops, picking squash, cutting okra and picking for today's markets in Knoxville
and Chattanooga. There is always more to be done than actually gets done. I'm proud of my boys though, as they exemplify Proverbs 6:6 to me, "Go to the ant, thou sluggard, consider her ways and be wise. Which having no guide, overseer, or ruler, provideth her meat in the summer, and gathereth her food in the harvest." The training in diligence is now bearing fruit in my men.

Farmer Steve is the jack-of-all-trades on our farm. Each day holds different challenges. Today he is fixing a huge backhoe tire, giving an interview to the News Free Press in Chattanooga, helping move the large

chicken house for our layers, cleaning up after packing shares on our porch, disciplining/training children, and sooo much more! Since my accident he comes alongside me and does the work that will over tax me. He has a true servant's spirit!

Titus was left at home to mow. We have a smaller tractor that stays on the home farm for things like this. He spends the majority of his day mowing and moving the chickens. He got a hot meal at mid-day whereas his brothers are having sandwiches in the shade of the incomplete packing shed at the other farm. There are perks to working on the home farm!

Inside the farmhouse the girls and I clean up the

dining room and kitchen before beginning our project for the morning. Today we canned okra and baked pumpkin to can after giving our stoves a good once over with a new scouring powder that we just mixed up. It's working GREAT!! 
( We have two, 4-eye commercial ranges...yes, that's 8 eyes in all!) So far this week we've canned squash relish, green beans, and a few jars of okra too.

The Farmer's Wife (Val) prepares 3 sugar pie pumpkins
for the oven before breakfast.

Eggs need gathering mid-day to keep them clean, so off goes Levi to gather them for me. We get about half in the morning and half in the afternoon. By visiting the hen house often, any problems can be quickly fixed...today more hay is needed in the nest boxes. It won't be long and we'll have about 300 hens laying!

 Before we know it, it's time to get another meal on the table. Thank you Jesus for planned leftovers that can be combined into a good hot meal. The farmhouse table is only half filled..."a sign of the times to come", I think in my head as Adam will be marrying in late winter and two other sons are also in courtships. I'm slowly working myself out of a job.

While we're still enjoying fellowship at the dinner table there is a "varoooom" coming down the drive... here comes a truck! Adam and Luke (11) are back from the other farm, and need to get packed for the Main Street Farmer's Market in Chattanooga. As usual they need to be out of here quickly, so we all jump in to help in some way. I help bunch kale, and soon they are off with a truck full of vegetables, honey, and eggs, for the market. Again, it's almost quiet!
Caleb gathering carrots for the shares.

With the men back to work, and the kitchen cleaned up again we come to our traditional quiet time of the day. Before Daddy came home from his corporate job to work as a farmer 6 years ago, life was so very different for everyone...we even had a "predictable" schedule. After lunch we had nap time/quiet time for a couple of hours. During this time of the day our older children finished their high school work, sewed, worked in the workshop, etc. quietly. The rule was, if you were a "little"  and you could read fluently you could read quietly on your bed. If you couldn't read fluently you napped.  I napped with the little ones, read, did paperwork, or tried to finish a project between nursing and getting little ones to sleep. (Ha ha!) 

Quiet time is my favorite time of day. I love to snuggle up with the youngest and read aloud before naps. A 15 minute nap allows me to work calmly later in the evening than if I struggle to keep going.  Also interaction with the children is not done "in mass" but one-on-one. I have time to gather my thoughts, and have a bit of "me time".

 (I encourage all Moms to not give up naps until much later than is now fashionable. Everyone needs a quiet time. A stack of books or the Lego tub on a child's bed around the age of 6 or even 7 along with a little training will give everyone some much needed down time.)

Since my fall I spend most of the afternoon resting.
After reading time and a nap I get to work on the blog, plan our school year, and do paperwork. I feel REAL lazy, but they keep emphasizing I need not overdo it. This grates against my spirit, but the Spirit is teaching me soo many lessons during this down time that I can only see His loving hand.

At 4 o'clock an internal alarm still goes off in our children...quiet time should be over and evening chores need doing. Now with full time farming, we don't have the same amount of chores to be done then. One person usually makes sure all the

chickens have water, and look in on the broilers that may need more feed also. Levi or Faith Anne  gathers the eggs for the final time of the day and I "wash" and pack them.

Supper takes a few hours to prepare, so we begin preparations. It's always an adventure to see what vegetables are available and use them for supper.

Saute a chicken thigh per person. Add minced garlic, thinly sliced
Sweet peppers and onions to the saute pan. Seed 1/2 jalapeno per
person, slice thinly and add to the pan. Optional: add a good heavy
hand of sprouted lentils to the pan. Saute until eldante. Place a four tortilla on top of the pan to soften. Place the tortilla on a plate and fill the lower half with sauteed mixture. Salt and Pepper to taste. Sprinkle with cheese. Fold the top of the tortilla down "omelet" style. Eat with a fork and knife. Enjoy!
We cook from scratch scratch (which means we've killed the hen, shot the deer, raised the hog, harvested the honey, or grew and canned the vegetables and raised the chickens that lay the eggs). Cooking is a family affair, so if I need help I can ask just about anyone to help or take over for me. The guys are getting good at "reading me" to know if they should do the cooking. The trick nowadays for us gals is to know when to have the meal ready. The guys can usually be seen rolling back into the home farm around 7-7:30 p.m. to take care of any outside chores that need done before eating.

Gathering around the supper table is more predictable in the winter...but for now during the busy season there is usually a few empty chairs on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday evenings. Farmer Steve has taught the children to, "approach the supper table quietly" but that doesn't mean the table is quiet. Tonight I was told I wasn't cultured because I didn't know who a Froghorn Leghorn was. Joking and stories abound. Not cultured!?

Our day is winding down and so is the table conversation. Little ones are directed to bed, and the boys clean up the kitchen, close up the broiler brooders, and find something private to do for the evening. Isaac's new Foosball table is the newest evening activity with the hearty laughter and  joking reverberating into the house from the porch. They only play a few games because there are gals to call and they are tired.

The sun is going down, and a quietness spreads like a mist across the fields in our house. Boys seek the solitude of their rooms...studying, planning, and an occasional late night movie fill the last hour or so of their day. 

This is my favorite time of day to walk. Last week I finally got permission to start walking again...but not far. As I walk on our gravel road the cicadas and other night insects have tuned up their evening orchestra. It's actually very loud! I thank God that He created all the insects and purposefully turn my thoughts to the God of the universe. It's the perfect time of day to praise Him for His faithfulness to me!

When I return to the farmhouse, I too seek the solitude of my bedroom to pray and research ideas for new school year coming up. With only 6 students this year (and Titus graduating by Christmas) it should be easier. Each year I take time to seek God's will for our "school". How do we invest this time for our child's future? More on that subject maybe next week in another blog.

Our daughter Hope (25) and her family that live here on the farm are in South Dakota on a
Hope and soon to be
one-year-old, Josiah.
missionary trip. They work with a group of men that buy abandoned churches and fix them up again. Soon a young preacher's family will take over the church and another Independent Baptist Church will be planted in the mid-west. This is the time of the evening when we can text and share pictures of our day.They'll be home next week...and I have the blessing of hearing lil' ones going in and out of the farmhouse.  I'm looking forward to it.

This little tree frog made it's home in the okra
this week. A nice surprise for the men cutting
the okra for your markets!

One lesson I'm learning during my recuperation is that I have been keeping too busy in the past. There are many things crying for my attention, and I often give an ear to as many of them as humanly possible. I hadn't learned to quiet my spirit and narrow my focus to the urgent or important.

Urgent- Pressing with importunity, necessity

Important- Literally, bearing on or to. Hence, weighty; momentous; of great consequence; having a bearing on some interest, measure or result by.

After my accident when all I could do was to lay still, and be quiet, my mind would cry out...I needed to learn to silence my thoughts and "be still and know that I AM God." Only when this happened could I begin to learn the lessons He had for me during this lesson.

I have to admit I am still learning this needed lesson. If my thoughts fill my mind throughout the day I cannot hear the quiet voice of the Holy Spirit directing, guiding, and often chastening me. This has taken some time for me, and much self/Spirit discipline. 

It's late and everyone is in their beds, but Farmer Steve is thinking ahead as he starts the stone wheat mill up to grind the wheat for our bread sales tomorrow in Crossville. The hummmm is not quiet...Is it ever really quiet on our farm?

"These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulations: but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world." John 16:33

Abundant Blessings,
The Farmer's Wife

Scenes from the farm....

Caleb is trying to virtually stare me down!
He is weak!

Happy 18th Birthday Titus!
He made a dirt cake in this huge bowl!
Charity's little friend came to visit this week.
This toad was hand-fed flies! I put up with things
like this in the name of a good education. She
learned about a toad's habitat, diet, and endurance
for 6 year old girls!

We made a large batch of hot summer
squash relish for the family this week.
I love it on eggs! It's a great way to get
your veggies in the winter!
Jalapeno Summer Squash Relish
A market and family favorite!!