The Grace I Need

There have been some changes in my life lately.  I was recently asked to take a position at my church helping with our Hospitality Ministries, that is to say our greeters, ushers, coffee and doughnuts, new parishioner welcome, and a couple others.  After praying about it and talking about it with my wife, we decided it was something that we could take on as a family.  While my name is the one on the position, it really is a family position.  Without the support of my wife and children I would have been unable to take the position.  I made it clear when accepting that I could only take the position as long as it didn’t take away from my family, such as missing family events because of meetings or issues.  I am blessed that I belong to a parish in which they would have it no other way.  I have already been blessed by meeting new and wonderful people that I am working with to make our parish a more hospitable place to all those who enter our doors.

Shortly after accepting the position, I was asked by another group at our parish if I would consider joining their team as well.  My immediate response was that having just taken the hospitality  position and already having a personal commitment on the evening that they meet was that I was unable to accept.  I was asked to think and pray about it, and I agreed.  The very next day the kids and I were in the car on our way to pick up some field fence I had found on Craigslist for a really good deal.  Normally in the car we have one of two Christian music stations on, but where we were driving I couldn’t get reception from either station.  I decided to flip on the Catholic talk station.  They were talking about the Ignation exercises and following God’s will.  Wanting to follow God’s will myself, and knowing only a very little about the Ignation exercises my ears perked up and I listened intently.  The speaker gave some examples about discerning God’s will in our lives and how different situations could affect that discernment.  The statement that stood out to me went something like this, “God will never call you away from your station in life.  If you are a religious, He won’t call you away from that.  If you are married, and have children, He won’t call you to something that takes away from that station.”  His example was of a woman being asked to lead some of the music ministries, which fell right within her talents and desires.  But the responsibilities would take her away from her family for too long.  I felt this was God speaking to me telling me that what I had already accepted was more than enough and not to take on more.  I was very at peace with that decision.

The same week that my new position began I was at a meeting where a sister gave a talk on mission and how we are all called to a mission.  Whether it is to the people in our church, in our community, or someplace far away we all have a mission.  In her talk she spoke of how we are all like reservoirs, and that we all need to first be filled in order to overflow and be able to give to others.  We can be filled by prayer, contemplation, reading the bible, going to Mass, receiving the Eucharist, etc.  Without first doing these things, we wouldn’t have the graces we need to spill over onto others.  Not coincidentally that morning I received a devotion in an daily email I get from Dynamic Catholic.  It was this…

God definitely speaks if we listen.  Sometimes I feel like he has to shout at me in order for me to hear, but I am working at being a better listener.  At the end of sister’s talk she said that “God will give you the grace you need for the mission you are called to.”  More or less, if you don’t have the grace for a particular mission, you probably aren’t called to it.  I feel like…I hope I have the grace to perform this new position at my parish.  No matter what, I know that He will give me the grace I need.

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Wild Flowers

The area directly behind our house is where the septic tanks are, and therefore the risers with the access covers a directly behind the house.  It isn’t that they are TOO much an eyesore, but it would be nice if there was something there to take the eye away from them.  To that end, I decided planting wildflowers would be an easy way to camouflage it.  While the tiller was still on the tractor I lightly tilled the area around the tank covers.  I then used a small hoe to do the finish work where I didn’t want to get too close to the covers or the house.

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The back room view after raking and seeding

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Soon we will be looking at flowers when dining

 

For my seeds I bought a bag of butterfly and bee perennial wildflower mix from the orange store and mixed in with it all of the wildflower seed pack that I had accumulated over the years.  I even through in a couple packets of Dollar Tree sunflowers.  I used a hand spreader to attempt to spread them evenly.  Of course it was the windiest day in quite awhile when I found time to do this, so I am praying that some of the seeds found their way to the bed I had prepared.  This area is actually close to where our bee hives are, so this will not only be much nicer to look at, but it will serve a purpose of feeding the bees as well.

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Once I get this area established I will reseed the grass around it

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I watered them in, and now I just have to wait, and hope the wild birds don’t eat the seeds, or my chickens, or that we don’t get torrential downpours that wash them all away, or…

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What’s that in my fresh egg?

Homestead Dad:

Some good info on farm fresh eggs. If you are interested let me know.

Originally posted on Cheese Acres Farm:

A friend got some fresh eggs from us the other day and expressed concern over those slimy, stringy looking things in there. At first I had no clue but later realized exactly what she meant. This made me stop to think that a lot of people may not realize just how different a fresh egg from the farm really is! This weeks blog will discuss that a bit.

My eggs are not perfect ovals. Some are, but some look like bullets or torpedos. Some have little spots of different colors. They come in a variety of colors. Some have a weak spot on one end and some are so hard they don’t even crack when I drop them. Some have thin shells, some very thick, some have no shell at all (a rubber egg). Some are all wrinkled up. Some have no yolk, double yolks, and now and then a…

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Devil Quail Defeated

You may remember that our quail had escaped some time ago.  For almost one month the last escapee had been eluding us.  More than that, he was actually taunting me.  Just about every morning he would be sitting on the trailer next to the quail hutch looking at me.  We had not been able to catch him, despite many attempts, and our best efforts.  We had been getting closer and closer, but had not been able to close the deal.  It was really quite maddening.  I had gotten a little smarter.  The quail like to hang out underneath the quail hutch, but had too many escape routes and we weren’t able to catch him even though he was so close.  I took the portable rabbit fence and put it around the bottom of the hutch to eliminate those routes, or at least slow him down.  Finally a couple mornings ago, Homestead Boy #1 was able to close the fence in around the quail and Homestead Boy #2 was able to use his extendable fishing net to catch the quail.  The boys were able to get the quail back into the hutch and my tormentor can torment me no longer.

It’s the little things in life…

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Hardening

Seedlings need to be hardened before being planted. That is to say you can’t just take them from their warm safe environment, in May case in the barn, and put them straight out into that old hard world. You need to ease them into it. Take them out for a few hours at a time when the weather is nice. Get them used to the breeze. I put some of my seedlings on a garden cart for ease of transport in and out. After seeing how nice they looked, I decided to cover them with chicken wire so that the chickens didn’t make a salad buffet out of them.

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Planting and Tilling

We’ve all been fighting colds, again, so we didn’t go to a meeting that had been scheduled for tonight. Instead I was able to get my three blueberry bushes planted, as well as the two golden raspberries and one black raspberry.

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The three new blueberry bushes

 

The potatoes in the box seem to be doing nicely. Although I’ve never grown potatoes so I really don’t have anything to compare it to.

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Potato growth

 

With all the moisture we have been getting here along with the cool weather the grass has been in overdrive. I prefer to use the commercial walk behind mower when possible because it is good exercise and it is like therapy. But in order to keep up with the grass I am going to have to use the three point finish mower. Since the rototiller was still attached to the tractor I finished tilling the garden area. I also tilled a couple areas I plan to plant corn and mammoth sunflowers.

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Garden all tilled

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Hopefully the weather is decent this weekend and I can get some more planting done.

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The Shearer Cometh

I am not what anyone would call an experienced sheep shearer.  My experience is limited to trying to save wool and shearing a dead sheep with scissor/shears.  Then the debacle of last year and trying to use pet shears to shear our two sheep.  Lastly, when George was shot, I again didn’t want to waste his wool, so I ended up shearing a dead sheep for a second time.  So until this evening I had sheared as many dead sheep as I had live sheep.

Thankfully, all of the weird, strange, or bad memories of shearing days past were forgotten tonight.  Over the winter I found an actual shears on craigslist or ebay, I don’t remember which.  Just knowing that we had the proper equipment made even starting the shearing process better.  I used two cattle panels, a couple T posts, and a scoop of feed to get the sheep penned in a small area in the corner of their pasture.  The shears made all the difference in the world.  We ended up oiling and cleaning it between each sheep and getting the four sheep done inside an hour.  A significant improvement over last year.  The finished look isn’t professional by any stretch, but we are definitely improving.  Hopefully next year, when we have at least 8 sheep to shear we are better yet.

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Before – Wooly Mammoths

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After – They look so much smaller

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My three fleeces, my bil’s isn’t pictured

 

 

While we had them penned we got Boots, the male that we are going to keep as a pet, and banded his testicles.  This is a safe, quick, effective way to castrate lambs.

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The elastrator band

If you didn’t know he was banded, you wouldn’t be able to tell.  Boots only reaction to the band is as though something feels different down there.  He isn’t crying or wailing at all.  Because of that band, he will get to live a good long life as a pet.

Also while we had them all penned we made sure to get our hands on all the babies.  Other than Boots, the babies aren’t interested in being held.  There are going to be times that it is necessary and more and more I want them to get used to us handling them.  I may have my sons try and start halter training some of them this summer.

So it was a very successful evening.  Now I have to figure out what to do with all this wool I am accruing.

 

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Overflow

  

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Bell Rung

When I was young, we had a bell that hung outside the back sliding door. When it was time to come in for dinner, my mom would ring the bell and we would come running. We could be half the subdivision away and we could hear that bell.

Last fall I purchased a bell from Amazon for our house. I didn’t figure that I would feel like yelling every time the kids were across the property and I liked the idea of the bell.

Yesterday I finally got a chance to put it up, at least temporarily. I grabbed a scrap piece of wood, that is badly warped, and hung it by the front door. Now, when it’s time for the kids to come in, there won’t be any more yelling. It will eventually find a permanent home on the new deck that will be built at the front door. Until then, this will do.

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I shared these pictures on Instagram, but I like them too much not to share them here too.

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Photo Update and Rain

Today it rained pretty much all day. That’s good news for everything that was planted over the weekend. Almost all the plants are showing great signs of life.

I also stopped at Tractor Supply and picked up three bigger blueberry bushes, a black raspberry, and two gold raspberries.

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Three blueberries on the left, and barely visible raspberries potted temporarily on the right

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Grape vine

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Strawberries doing well

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Red raspberries planted and looking good

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One of the fruit trees, they are all leafing out

 

The weather is supposed to warm up again the next few days, so I am hoping that everything really takes off.  I plan to try and get as many seeds in the ground as possible over the next couple weeks.  In the end of May all of the started plants can go in, man is this fun.

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