Friday, October 10, 2014

There's a Lesson in Here Somewhere!?

 The CSA season has ended, but there are plenty of  vegetables, honey, jams, eggs, and now pastured chicken at each market! 

The guys here were packing the last shares, and tossing pumpkins from one truck, to the porch, to the other truck where share boxes were lined up. It's lots of fun,  just ask "The Friday Night Farmer"!

Caleb winds up for the toss!

This blog post transitions into our family blog this'll still hear about the farm, and see pictures of the farm, but you'll also be able to get to know us as a family. We're a real family...with all the joys, struggles, and tears it takes to grow up. Come join us and get to know us a bit better. 

I'm going to start this post by being open and honest....

 Back in the middle 80's when I read my first copy of The Teaching Home Magazine I was enamored with the photo on the front of the magazine. They looked like the perfect family all dressed in coordinating colors with beautiful smiles. The article inside painted a rosy picture of how their home glowed, their children clamored for more studies, and peace prevailed. 

After almost 30 years of home educating our 13 children I want to be an encouragement to the parents that read this blog. Yes, there are days when my home glows, but it's usually right after chore time and right before real learning and living begins. Yes, there are days when I can't keep up with my children's appetites for learning, but there are also months of "gliding" as they internalize all they learned during the time of great learning excitement. And yes there are also days when peace prevails...but it's usually after about 9:30 p.m. when everyone is either asleep or enjoying private time in their rooms.. ha ha! 

For years I strove to have the "cover page family", only to find that it was an illusive dream. I had to learn there were no perfect families.

 We have grown to be uniquely "Colvin", and with that comes 15 different personalities that bring a special "flavor" to our family. Family is God's idea of a safe place to learn, to fail, and seek His face together. 

All that said, I wasn't going to post this week. You see, we have just finished our first week of school. First week you cry out!? I know most folks have been at it since August, but we structure our children's education around the farm. I liken our "school" to the old fashioned one room schoolhouse where all ages learn together. The farm work schedule determines our study schedule, and the farm is the center of our education. As the daylight hours grow shorter, we switch our hands-on focus from agricultural science, Distributive Education, (marketing) and apprenticeships in the field, packing shed, and kitchen to the school room. The field work is traded in for researching, computers, and an occasional textbook. Phonics is a game compared to the daily reading time before naps, and the thrill of using a computer to do their math is likened to most children's addiction to game boys. In the 6 months we concentrate on the "book side" of education, the children usually finish more than one grade in just a few hours a day. They welcome this change of seasons, knowing that a more "laid back physical" change is about to take place when "school" begins. When in reality we "school"/learn all year long, for it's our lifestyle...a lifestyle of learning.

All that said, we've had a terrible week...the 5 older laptops we use for math decided to just blink their start up signals, loose their "little minds" (hard drives crashed) and however else I should describe it. Four markets are still being packed in the morning, throwing the new schedule waaaay off.  I usually phase one child at a time into school so they know exactly what the expectations are relieving stress in the long run...but the written schedule was quickly discarded when Farmer Steve took off for a market and all the older boys were working in the field. (That spells no supervision for the little ones.) Add to this my mental challenges during times of stress and get the picture.

Why am I posting this? I don't think I've ever read a blog or magazine article stating, "I failed this week"...but, we did, and I want other struggling families to know there is a purpose in the struggle. There is always plenty for us to learn in our failures. There will be a weekend coming up to regroup and pray about the direction for the coming week. God will be faithful to direct Steve and I back to where He wants us to go. He has in the past, he will in the future. We will be stronger for our struggle...

So, from one long time home schooling mother to another...there will be weeks, months, or even years where you feel like life isn't working. Your much prayed over plans seem to fall flat, and you wonder if you are really in God's will at all! Take heart! If God has directed your family's learning path, than satan will fight it. Just because it's hard doesn't mean it's wrong! I've learned through the years that God teaches us best during the hard times, and His face is seen clearer coming out of the fog. 

So, as I go into my 29th year of home education I am stepping out in faith...and as usual I found my Rock to steady myself on. Praise the name of Jesus!

Highlights on the farm this week!

*The Tennessee Department of Agriculture has licensed us for the sale of meats! Find our naturally raised, pastured, non-GMO fed chickens on sale at the markets this weekend!

*We had our first killing frost on Saturday night. God
was good to provide the bounty until the last shares were packed! We thank Him for that. The vegetables lost were the tender summer crops like summer squash, beans, and hot peppers. There are still PLENTY of hardy vegetables for sale at the markets. 

*I've been savoring my stash of summer squash in the refrigerator knowing they are the very last...I've enjoyed "zoodles" (noodles made out of zucchini) in stir fries, and also a bountiful chicken and vegetable fried rice. I made a small portion of fried quinoa also with a great mixture of stir fried vegetables. You can use just about any vegetables that are in your's a good way to use up the bits and pieces of your last share!

"Farmanese" Chicken Fried Rice

Your choice of vegetables, I used:
1 Carrot, shredded
2 C. Broccoli florets
1 large Onion
3 cloves Garlic, minced
2 C. Snap Peas, cut in 1/2
1/2 lb. mushrooms, sliced
2-3 C. Brown Rice, cooked and cooled
1-2 Pastured Chicken Breasts or Thighs, cut into small cubes.
Coconut or Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Soy Sauce/Liquid Aminos

Organize all your ingredients on the counter by the stove. You'll be stirring and adding things quickly, so preparing really helps! (You can use warm rice, but it works a lot better when it is cold. This is a great way to use leftover rice...or planned  leftovers. We eat rice a few times a week, so when only feeding a few [it happens these days with 3 courting boys!], I make a full 5 cups and have the reserve in the frig. Rice keeps in the refrigerator at least one week.)

Heat a wok or large frying pan till hot. Place a tablespoon of oil, the garlic, and onion into the hot wok. Stir, do not let burn. Add the chicken and continue to stir. When the chicken is no longer pink, remove the chicken to a small bowl.

Add another tablespoon of oil to the wok. Next add the  the vegetable that will take the longest to cook. I added the broccoli next. Stir, cooking for a couple of minutes. Continue to add vegetables in the order it will take to cook them ending with the mushrooms. Keep on stirring! (That's why it's called a stir fry!) When the vegetables are very crisp tender, place the chicken back into the wok, and begin adding the rice. There's no need for exact measurements here. I simply mix in the rice until it looks like the amount that will feed the family.  Continue to stir deeply as you don't want your rice to stick. Add soy sauce or Aminos at this point to taste. (I don't season at this point, but just put the sauce on the table for individuals to put on to their liking.)

I substituted quinoa for brown rice in a small portion for me.

*Our youngest hens have begun to lay! We will soon
have over 300 hens laying beautiful brown country eggs. These hens get fresh pasture daily also, so enjoy the natural goodness of real eggs.

*We're starting to get feedback from our shareholders about their season of natural eating. We're encouraged by your feedback! Write us and tell us if you enjoyed your weekly box of vegetables, or how you think we can improve next year!

*My older boys took the initiative to can sliced
jalapenos for the winter...I stayed out of their way while the peppers flew, vinegar disappeared by the gallon, and jars began to line the counter. 161 pints later, they think they are set for the winter! Cravings are a great motivator for my boys!

*Levi (9) made supper all alone for the first time tonight! Oh, he's cooked sausages, heated up leftovers, and helped out a lot, but never a GREAT meal like tonight! I want to brag on him! He stir fried Bok Choy with garlic, sauteed fennel with onions, baked organic boneless chicken thighs, and made a huge pot of brown rice. GREAT JOB LEVI! 

My school week reminds me of Elisha at the brook Cherith where God sent him at the beginning of the three year drought..."and it came to pass that the brook dried up." 1 Kings 17:7 My spiritual life would be hindered if I didn't learn that there is much to learn in the difficult, the darkness, and the "fog" of a trial. 

The dwindling brook where Elijah sat and mused is a true picture of the life we all live. Elijah's security dried up with the brook. This is a picture of our past, and a foreshadowing of our future. Security in things, or people has brought heartache in the past, and will bring insecurity in our futures. And in some point in time we all must learn the lesson of trusting "the gift" or "the Giver". The gift (in this example, the life giving water of the brook) will be good for awhile, but the Giver is Eternal Love!

Cherith was a difficult problem for Elijah until he got to Zarepath, and then it was all made very clear. "God's hard words are never His last words. The woe and the waste and the tears of life belong to the interlude and not to the finale." 1 Had Elijah been sent straight to Zarepath to be cared for by the widow, he would have missed the lesson that helped him grow to be a wiser prophet, and a better man. He learned to live by faith at Cherith, trusting the ravens daily to bring his food...trusting the stream to continue to flow despite the drought. 

When in our lives a resource dries up we can learn more completely that our hope and help are fully in God who made the heavens and the earth. He is ever-faithful...look past the "stream" that has dried up to the Giver of living water...

"Whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life."
John 4:13,14

"Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light."
Matthew 11:28-30

Abundant Blessings,
The Farmer's Wife,

1 F.B. Meyer, Streams in the Dessert