Ten Trips and Memories

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We have been blessed with 13 Grandkids…(and three unofficial official Grands in Australia). Each is uniquely blessed by our Creator with different personalities, gifts and talents. A gathering of everyone often includes lots of laughter and, as families go, maybe some tears…but always – good memories. The 13 North American cousins all love to be together. But, you can imagine the struggle it is to get to individually know them. Somewhere along the way, the Baldwin family came up with the idea of Ten Trips. (we have since discovered that famous author Bob Goff also did Ten Trips with his kids, so I feel like we are on the right track.)

What is a Ten Trip? A Ten Trip takes place when a Grand celebrates their tenth birthday (or, if we move out of country during that time, their 11th birthday. I’m looking at you, Abigail.) A Ten Trip is made up of something that that Grand wants to do. Here’s a run down of what we have done to date:

  • Caleb – Caleb was our first trip. He loves sea life and at that time – he’s almost 18 now – he loved whales. So we took him on our boat up to the San Juan Islands and visited the whale museum Orcas Island Whale Museum. We spent a day or two motoring around the Islands, where he learned to Skipper, and then made our way back to home. During the tooling around time Caleb drew (he’s quite a fantastic artist), learned how to BBQ on the boat with Papa and mastered the rowing of the dinghy. We had hours to sit and watch the porpoises leap by, fish, go ashore, eat out, listen to dreams and worries, and to pray with and over him.
  • Manning the ship!
  • Jacob – (we call him Cubbie or Cubster although we can’t remember why we nicknamed him that). He was a big Seattle Mariners fan. In fact he stated that he would be their BIGGEST fan, if it didn’t cost so much. Obviously a Mariners game was on the schedule! We got great seats and ordered the Mariners Birthday Package  In the birthday package, you not only get your birthday on the scoreboard, but you get a Mariner bag full of goodies, including a cool hat. He also wanted to spend time on the boat. We moored  at the Elliott Bay Marina. This was and wasn’t a great idea. The marine hosted a party with loud music, so sleep was elusive. Cubs also learned about cooking on the boat, Skippered for a bit and slept on the deck. Long talks on the water and about life during the game  (because, you know ..baseball..)..followed by prayers in the evening, are what Nana remembers most!  We fished on the way home, and he learned how to row the dinghy.
  • (Some things were almost becoming a right of passage.)
  • Ben was the next one up. Ben loves survival stuff and shooting and fishing. We took him up to our favorite fishing resort in Sekui, Mason’s Olsons’s Resort. We not only caught some yummy salmon which he then helped Papa smoke and grill, we explored the land around the inlet. Ben collected drift wood and shells and then Ben Captained the boat. We didn’t moor but instead rented one of the resorts stand alone cottages. The cottage was right on the beach with feet of sands before us. He went out with Papa to fish, and I stayed behind a couple times.  It was a lot of fun. He too learned about BBQing on the boat and how to handle the dinghy. Then we did some shooting at targets. Both pistols, rifles and crossbows. Ben talked often with Papa about life…and of course there were Prayers!
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  • Sylvia. Our first girl 10 Trip! She wanted to wait until it was warmer, so we could go on the boat. But the weekend we did it, the weather never cooperated. Her big thing was Indoor skydiving. But, we also went to a movie, went to a game arcade so she and Papa could get their competitive spirits going and ate out..a lot. Our alone times were dotted with talks and games and prayers.
  • Abigail. Abs is the one that had to wait until her 11th birthday for her Ten Trip, because we had moved to Australia the year of her 10th. We moved back the year of her 11th and flew her to Texas for her Ten Trip. She says that it was worth the wait. The move to Texas wasn’t really planned, but for Lance it was a homecoming, as he was born in Dallas and lived in Texas until the fifth grade. He still has (beautiful) family there, so we weren’t alone in our move. We had lived in our home for only four months when Abigail flew down! She was the second person to use our guest room! Flying down was of course a huge part of her trip. I think she was very brave, being that she was going as unaccompanied minor. And, she really didn’t remember her other flights. We had a full schedule for the Grand who had awaited the longest for her time with Nana and Papa. We ventured to Dinosaur Valley. It was hot and muggy. But what a delight. She stepped into actual Dinosaur prints and she and Papa swam in natural lagoon. It was an incredible feeling to realize we were standing, swimming, walking, where Dinosaurs had once roamed! We swam at our housing developments water park almost every day, swam with Aunt Jenna and Uncle Jim a couple times at their home, watched some movies, ate good food. We took a day for rest and then went kayaking on Lake Lavon.  The next day, because she is very creative and artistic we went to the Crayola Experience.  Of course we spent some good times giggling, dreaming and praying together.

All the Ten Trips end too soon. Time alone to listen to their dreams and fears and accomplishments. The year after their birthday we give them a scrapbook with pictures and narrative of the time together.

Their parents have commented that they would really like a Ten Trip, but you know, they’re way to old! It’s challenging enough to think that the first Ten Trippers are now 18, 16, 14 and almost 12! But, just wait a bit, with so many Grands there will be another one any moment! In fact, next year we have THREE Ten Trips to plan! God has blessed us more than we could ask or imagine (Ephesians 3:20)

God has moved Lance and I all over the globe. That could prove challenging to be involved in our Grandkids lives. But, then He has also provided ways to be able to connect and make memories that, hopefully, will last them, and us, a life time, including, Ten Trips.

My big dream now, is to be able to take EVERYONE (including the Grand’s parents) on some kind of big family vacation. We’ll see how God works that out!

I’m speaking in general terms now : Most grandparents agree that family is important. We reach empty nest stage with maybe a little sorrow, maybe a little glee. And, usually, we all think that season of live arrives too fast.  And, maybe dream of empty nest time as finally ‘me’ time. But, as I see it, family is a God given gift and while we are here on this planet for a short time, we need to cherish those entrusted to us. God gave ’em to us. That is an incredible privilege.

Make sure to take time to connect with those closest to you and don’t get lost in the daily minutiae of life. Daily stuff is nice. Daily stuff: phone calls, texts, watching tv, doing homework together is great, don’t get me wrong. Wish I could do that. But, since I can’t I will devote time to do it…you can, too.

This is time spent that no one will regret.

Proverbs 17:6 Grandchildren are the crowning glory of the aged.

 

 

 

 

Happiness or Joy??

It’s only a couple of days into 2018 and my social media feeds are full of people pushing happiness. Happiness. I wonder why I feel like this is wrong, but I do. Maybe it’s because God often moves me out of perfectly fine states of happiness to places of discomfort, and awkwardness. He leads me on arduous journeys that are sometimes the exact opposite of happy. There have been times when I’ve been coasting on auto pilot, perfectly content where I am – physically, emotionally, geographically, and God in His perfect wisdom and love leads me over there..or there…or up there. Oh sure, I reckon it’s up to me to follow, and if I just want to wallow in my self-induced happiness He’ll just leave me here I am.  It’s my choice. And, I know, because my Father and I have walked together for a lot of years, that when I follow HIM, the final destination will not be ‘happiness.’ In fact, no matter where He leads me, at the end of it, truth is, I pray that my state of being is not ‘HAPPY.’ Because, what I’ve learned is, that in this temporary world, there will be plenty of happy times, sad times, glad times, grieving times. Seasons of our lives dictate our circumstances, but our relationship with God dictates the state of our souls. And, the state of our souls is how our emotions go. When I am happy, it is very comfortable and it feels good.  Sure some of the happiness may be God ordained, ( the myth that Christians always need to be in some conflicted state is, in my opinion, incorrect, ) but, when I follow Him, the destination leads not to ‘happiness’, but to JOY. I will gladly give up any self induced ‘happiness’ for God ordained JOY.

Consider some of my favorite scriptures about God: For the kingdom of God is not a matter of what we eat or drink, but of living a life of goodness and peace and JOY in the Holy Spirit. Romans 14:17 NLT. The Lord is my strength and shield. I trust him with all my heart. He helps me, and my heart is filled with JOY. I burst out in songs of thanksgiving. Psalm 28:7. Taste and see that the Lord is good. Oh, the JOYS of those who take refuge in Him. Psalm 34:8 NLT.

In 2018 I want to live intentionally for Him and with Him. I want to, without hesitation, follow where he leads. Travel with him. Introduce people to Him and for those who already know Him, encourage them to move past happiness and discover His joy. It’s a journey worth taking.

His faithful love will never disappoint.

“The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My (Jesus) purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying live. ” John 10:10 NLT.

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Gypsy feet are on the move again,but the body resists.

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Just about this time, one year ago, God moved us to Australia, again. We arrived thinking we would be here for a long time. We bought a car that we could explore this magnificent country in, some nice furniture that would last awhile, and signed a lease into the next year. Now, all that has changed.

We are heading back to America (to live in Texas this time) and find ourselves doing another international move in the span of 12 months. I truly believe God has it all handled and all the pieces will fit into the move puzzle, but my body seems to have not recieved the memo. Everything hurts. Sleep is elusive. The gut is acting up big time. Frustrating! Every night after four hours of restless sleep, I get up, achy, stiff, sore. My mind wants to start the day, tackle the chore list, start the decluttering but my body stumbles to the recliner and if not for some vigorous self talk would stay there. I feel like I am living that scripture in Matthew – “the Spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.” or as the Message puts it, “there is a part of you that is eager, ready for anything in God. But there’s another part that’s as lazy as an old dog sleeping by the fire.” That’s me – an old dog sleeping by the fire (but there’s no fire).  Mostly, though, this old dog wants to sleep.

In the years from 2010-2014 we were active folk. We did skydiving, scuba diving, hiking, biking, and all manner of exploring. From 2014-2016 we had our little hobby farm and had our family close. Although we didn’t see the adult kids that often, we did entertain the grands on many occasions. Then we moved back here. But the year, 2016 was stress filled, too…unemployement, a new job full of uncertainty and then the move back to Australia. Then 2017 brought new changes to the new job, and the realization that our plans to buy a house here etc, wouldn’t come to fruition. More stress. But, all along my walk with Jesus grew closer. I heard the Spirit more clearly, when I read the Word, things seems very evident, no mystery. So, why can’t my body catch up with the Spirit?

I reckon this is where intentional living comes to play. Managing all aspects of life. What we eat. What we drink. How we move our bodies. How we interact with others. When we sleep. What we nourish our brains with. What we feed our spirit with. I feel like I already do most of it, but probably lazy in some areas. Honestly, the thought of doing any more tires me. But, it’s necessary.

So, how’s your walk through this temporary world going?? How can you change things? or are you ok with the way things are? Is your subconscious reacting one way, while your spiritual life seems to be another? Why? God doesn’t give us a spirit of fear but of courage and power and a stable mind, so don’t be afraid of changing things. Don’t fear diving into why you may be having trouble sleeping, exercising, or any questions of life in general. No worries. His desire is for  you (and me) to have a rich and satisfying life! (John 10:10 NLT).

 

 

 

Do kookaburra count as farm animals?

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It’s been seven months since we made the move down under. For the most part it’s been good. Actually, compared to the first move down here in 2010 it’s been FABULOUS. Interesting fact: it’s as if the Man and I have swapped personalities since last time. When we moved here in 2010 I was very sad and it took me about six months to settle in.  He, however, was super happy, and excelled at this work. This time around, I’ve settled in quite nicely but he struggles. But, I digress.

When you move from one continent to another, you expect that things will be challenging, that you will miss the familiar and your heart will ache for your family. What I didn’t expect was how much I miss the small hobby farm that was Baldwin Acres.

Here in Oz, we are awakened by a cacophony of bird noise. Can’t say it’s songs because there seems to be much anger in some of it. A family of kookaburra live in the big gum tree behind our house. They share this space with some Common Miners and some little birds that I can’t identify.  Every morning the kookaburra engage in seemingly heated exchange. Is someone stumbling in late? Did they run out of geckos for breakfast? Who knows. Maybe it is the language of love in kookaburraeeze, whatever the cause, it is very loud in the morning. And, annoying. On Baldwin Acres with a few roosters in residence, it was loud in the morning as well. But, a little calmer loudness. I miss that.

I didn’t think I would miss the animals so much. Not just the sound of the rooster, but the bleat of the sheep and the strange noise the goats made. I miss being greeted by everyone when it was feeding time. They were all ranging free so even when I was just out tooling around they were eager to see me. Nudging my leg, nibbling my shirt hem. smelling my boots. I miss the way our very large sow, Olive, would leaning against my shins until I scratched at her side until she flopped down and exposed her belly for more rubs. I miss Bob, our male goat, who followed the Man around the same way our boxer Remus did. I miss fresh eggs and waiting with broody hens for their charges to hatch.

I don’t miss the sometimes rough odor, or all the poop. There was a lot of poop. I am not sure why that took me aback because obviously every living thing does…but so.much.poop. was really unexpected. I don’t really miss trimming hooves or chasing curious wayward pigs back through the woods to the house. I don’t miss when the little chicks, or tiny piglets for whatever reasons, didn’t make it. But, I do miss them. All of them.

We go back and forth here about rescuing a dog or a cat. Which of course would be lovely, but seriously, they’re no pig or chicken. How could such a small farm make me so attached?

It’s not only the animals I miss, it’s the orchard with plums, pears, cherries and apples. The garden with lettuces, kale, tomatoes, squashes, onions, garlic, herbs, tomatoes, potatoes, cucumbers, beans, peas, carrots..all fresh and ready to be eaten right from the picking. I miss the feeling of accomplishment achieved when we were able to eat, can, butcher, gather, all the things our own hands produced. God richly blessed us.

So now, what to do? I have a small plot and a patio tower in which I am growing I pepper, basil, aloe, lettuces, tomatoes, herbs, not the same as the raised beds, but still getting my hands in the dirt and freshness in my belly is amazing.

We’re in the waiting phase right now. Waiting on God to show us where we go next. He has already set the path before us, but right now it’s difficult to see. As we wait on Him, and seek His will, we will enjoy the memories of what was,  relish the moments that are now and expectantly look forward what will be.

Daily visits from the kookaburra’s and patio produce, will keep Baldwin Acres busy until then.

 

 

 

 

Baldwin Acres is a state of mind.

For the Spirit of God has made me, and the breath of the Almighty gives me life. Job 33

 

For the two + years we lived at Baldwin Acres we were blessed.

Now, we face a new journey, one that will take us back to the land down under. Last time we lived there, 2010-2013 was like a three year vacation. I had just turned 50 and really doubted God was calling us to that place. But He was and evidenced by the friendships that still remain, and the spiritual growth I experienced, He was correct. We were adventurous and discovered much about the land, people and ourselves. However, this time, we reckon things will be a little different.

We are familiar with Australia and we understand the nuances that last time sent me to weeping. (No Tide detergent?! How will I survive?) We have, what we call, fRamily, waiting for us there, so there won’t be that vast space of emptiness we experienced last time. This time we know we want a piece of land, raise animals, and we intend to treat this time as living there and not a vacation. Last time we knew we would be there for three years, this time we’re not so sure how long we will be there.

People thinks it’s strange that we are moving back there, so far from family and all that is comfortable for us. We do have 13 grandchildren who will be in America  without us. But, in the three years we were here, we spent little time with them, in fact, I believe we spent more quality time with everyone when we came home from Australia  for a three week summer vacation. Do you know, with a family with six kids and a family of seven kids, those families are very busy?!?! In my head I understand the busy timetables but in my heart I want all their time with me and why can’t it be?( I have expressed this thought to a few other grandmas and they feel the same way, too. But, we refuse to be ‘that’ grandma who forces company via guilt. How awkward is that going to be? )

All lives change and move forward. Familiar relationships are very fluid and I love it that way. I certainly don’t want that to change that. Fluid is much better than stagnant. At certain times of their adult lives, we’ve been closer to our daughter than our son, or our son than our daughter. Yet, we always are  immensely proud of both of them and their spouses  and we completely get their schedules. So we encourage when needed, we attend sports events when able, we even bought the dreaded iPhone so we can have FaceTime with the grand’s. Not an easy purchase when you work for Microsoft.

Today, when chatting with my sister, she expressed how much she would miss me, and I agreed. But to put it in perspective I am moving not dying. And, yes, I am moving very far away, but they have the wold wide web there, too.

Living on Baldwin Acres enriched my life and the grandkids lives, too. We were exposed to situations that both challenged and refreshed us. I reckon that will continue in Oz.

We follow where Jesus leads us, (you can read previous blog posts to see how that works), and yes, it’s been a struggle. 2016 brought with it unexpected unemployment, surgeries, estrangements, illness, and a whole lot of other ailments. But, when I practice spiritual breathing: Breathe in Jesus, and breath out (name a thing here: anger) breath in Jesus, breath out – fear. Breathe in Jesus, breath out discord, breath in Jesus, breath out anxiety, breath in Jesus, breath out envy…well you get the picture. As long as it takes to breath it all out is what you should be prepared for. Sometimes, it’s a little as five minutes, sometimes longer. You might think, who has time to do that? The thing is,  as long as we are alive  we are always breathing so it adds nothing to your schedule. Keeping our heart and spirit focused on God makes all the difference.

Until then, thanks for reading and commenting and get prepared for some more adventures from the folks, who for now live not physically, but mentally, on Baldwin Acres.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our path. “I’ll go ahead of you; clearing and paving the road.” God. (Isaiah 45:2 The Message)

Our path go ahead of you; clearing and paving the road.” God. (Isaiah 45:2 The Message)

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It’s been a stress filled year. With Lance’s job being made redundant, me working at Home Depot and us not knowing what God has in store, we have made decisions based on feelings and not necessarily on facts. Because of the uncertainty I didn’t put my garden in: a decision I now regret. I did decide to get the replacement shoulder surgery because our insurance was about to be over and I needed to do it or have a more complex surgery later. (On that note, God provided in an amazing way. My $4,000 deductible was miraculously met by an online writer friend.) Now I spend my time in intense recovery. So the Man is doing all farm chores himself. Not easy. Not fair. Stressful while he works a full time job. What we hold to is that while we can’t see it clearly, God’s plans is still in effect for our lives.

‘God is striding ahead of you. He is right there with you. He won’t let you down. He won’t leave you. DON’T BE INTIMIDATED. DON’T WORRY.’ Deuteronomy 31:8 . (easier read then lived) The Message. So, God has laid out the path before us, we will follow it, but first, we have to step on it – and of course before that can happen, we have to clear the way of all  the others.

There’s a chance we might end up back in Australia. There’s a chance he will get an offer for a job back at Microsoft (which is what he wants), there’s  a chance we will buy a ten acre property complete with greenhouses and mature fruit trees and out buildings in a sort of disarray. Chances rain all around us. Different paths with different end results. It’s confusing, stressful and can be a bit life stalling.

 

So we do what we know. What we know is that we need to sell this house. The property layout doesn’t meet our needs and the nightly climb to the master bedroom is something we both could do without . So, while we wait on God to show us THE path, we do what we can. We prepare the house for sale, less clutter, clean up the pastures, sell the animals. We get dirty, we clean up.   And we look and wait for His direction.

Some people might think it’s a silly way to live. ‘Just pick the life you want and live it’, they think. But, for us, as His children. we’d rather wait on Him and live the LIFE HE WANTS. Being in the center of His will is much better than living in our own desire. Although most times our own desires is in His will.

In the meantime we work. And, to borrow the words of the famous poet: “I took the road less traveled by, and that made all the difference.” Robert Frost.

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The hardest part of living a hobby farm homestead life.

When Tumnus first came to us, we considered him a rescue goat. We were asked to home him and a female Kinder goat and two Jacob sheep from a family who thought they could have livestock even though their neighborhood covenants said no.

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We pretty much didn’t know what we were doing when we bought them. Except we were helping someone out. Tumnus was described to us as a wether. A wether is a goat who has been castrated. Goats and sheep are herd animals, and oftentimes people will have a wether to keep the other animals company.

Tumnus, whose name always seemed too big for him. was particularly endeared to me and I to him. I shortened his name to T man or Mr. T. He would rub his head against me whenever we were in close proximity. He always responded with a low bleat when I called his name.

But, T always seemed a bit off. His hooves seemed misshapen and needed more attention than the other members of the flerd. When he had been dis-budded, they had missed a small portion that sometimes doesn’t show up until the goat is older and he developed scurs. Which means although dis-budded, a little portion still grew into his head. They say you can re-do the dis-budding process but we have no iron or experience. And, honestly, I didn’t know this was the problem with his horns until a recent research project.

One day, after we homed him, T stood off and peed on his face. As I mentioned, we had no experience with livestock before this, including reproduction, or social behavior. So, when he urinated on his face, peeled his upper lip back as if the odor was  magnificent, then stuck his tongue out and wiggled it, I told Lance I thought T might have a mental issue. After researching it however, T’s mannerisms were the exact way goats woo the ladies. Which brings up another issue.

T was supposed to be castrated. There would be no reason for him to do any sort of mating ritual. No peeing on his face, or bellowing, or sniffing the femailes. After a cursory investigation, we discovered T still had a testicle. So, he either had three, or they missed one.  Sadly, this one testicle was enough to keep him in a continual state of mating desire.

When the males get like this, not only do they pee on themselves and snort and stick out their tongues, they vocalize their desire. When our granddaughter had to describe the word,’bellow,” her descriptor was Tumnus, and the picture she drew was of T opened mouthed, neck stretched out towards our female goat’s rear.

The first time we heard his too human hollering was late at night. The pasture is just outside of our second story bedroom. We sleep with the window open. I heard, ‘Hey,’ in a what I thought was a man’s voice. “Heeey,” again. I woke Lance up and told him there was a man in our yard. he listened for a minute and again, “Heeeyyyy”, was said. So Lance ran outside while I tried to light up the pasture from the bedroom window with the flashlight. “Heyyyy”. Then Lance called from the shadows, “You’re not going to believe this.” He laughed. “It’s, Tumnus!” What we didn’t know was this behavior would go on indefinitely.

In the spring, our wether Jacob sheep with his immature but sharp horns, our Nubian goat with his big horns and our male Jacob sheep with his magnificent horns, and T with these horrible looking nubby areas, would engage in rutting. There were many bouts of ramming each other in the heads. Poor T got the brunt of the battles. With just enough testosterone to embolden him, he readily engaged in every challenge and his head would bleed. Eventually his body became dotted with bloody holes, as if he’d been stabbed with round spears.

We don’t have enough acreage to separate him from the others, and if we did, he would be alone, which we were told to not do. Finally, with severely bad front hooves, holes down the back of his neck from rutting, his constant state of heightened arousal and the bashing his head was taking, we decided it would be better for him to remove him from the flerd. Permanently.

This is still troubling for me to discuss. I know people eat goat, even my people in Jamaica consider the goat as we do cows. Goat meat is used in dog food,  goat hooves, goat horns all are used by some.  I have eaten goat only once. And, I’ve never used goat for anything else. The idea is still rather foreign to me. Some people might wonder why we didn’t take him to the vet, but understand, in this homesteading venture, we live on a tight budget. There’s not a lot of room for extras. If an animal is not producing we’re going to cull it. We did the same with some turkeys this year,too.

One reason we raise our own poultry and pigs is to have healthy food. Food we know what has been fed, how it’s been raised and will be good meat for our family. But, still it’s hard to say good bye to my friend.

Thus the reason I wrote this. Even if no one reads about T-man, I do tribute him with love, respect, apologize for his tough life and thank him for the meat which did nourish our dog and barn cats and a little bit to human consumption.

T-Man, you were loved.

 

Winter is not my favorite season.

Except for Christmas, winter is not my favorite season. I think we must be on day 427 in a row of rain and gray skies. The back pasture has flooded at least twice. The pig sty looks like,well, a pig sty.  The damp coolness plays and pokes at my joints and muscles, and my hair is in constant need of a hat. Winter and I do not get along.

When you don’t get along with something you can either live in misery and complain about the situation, which admittedly I do from time to time, or you can look for the good. the old making lemonade out of lemons idea.

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Snow on Baldwin Acres

This winter scene is pretty. Snow makes the scenery a little more beautiful. This is our raised garden and small orchard area. This doesn’t fit into my winter blah scenario because it is lovely, lasts only a while, and allows a little respite in activity.

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This is a close up one of the garlic beds. The white stuff is not snow. They are ice spikes. We had so many days of freezing cold and rain, that these ice spikes adorned all our vegetation.

DSC_0009Here is a picture that sort of shows the mess I’m referring to in the back pastures. The tractors have stopped work for a while, because the ground is boggy. The area is spotted with puddles and little streams of water. To the left of the barn is the pig sty, in the barn is our supply of alfalfa and our livestock nursery. Currently Pork is housed in there, waiting to give birth to little piglets. To the right of the barn is the feeding area. There’s a tub for grain and an alfalfa feeder on the wall. We recently spread a ton of rocks in this area because the continual traffic of the  livestock (Jacob sheep and kinder/Nubian goats)  really has churned up the mud. A person (me) could (has) get stuck in that muck.

When it rains, if you’re not out in it, not mucking out poop, or tending to animals, but maybe just observing the landscape, it can take your breath away. Or at least let you appreciate God’s creation.

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These beautiful water fowl (ducks) take advantage of the winter pond. This area completely dries up in the spring and summer. But, it’s a nice treat to see wild birds taking a little rest here.

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And, finally, I will appreciate the wet, mucky, season because without it there would be no spring. There would be no dormant time for the earth to recover, and the seeds to die, so when the spring sun warms the soil and dries the seasonal puddles and streams, we can grow healthy non- pesticide laden food and new livestock will be born. There is great contentment in the weariness at the end of a long homestead labored day.

The Bible attests to the need for seasons. Seasons not just for our homestead schedules, but also for our lives. Ecclesiastes 3:

There’s an opportune time to do things, a right time for everything on the earth:

2-8 A right time for birth and another for death,
A right time to plant and another to reap,
A right time to kill and another to heal,
A right time to destroy and another to construct,
A right time to cry and another to laugh,
A right time to lament and another to cheer,
A right time to make love and another to abstain,
A right time to embrace and another to part,
A right time to search and another to count your losses,
A right time to hold on and another to let go,
A right time to rip out and another to mend,
A right time to shut up and another to speak up,
A right time to love and another to hate,
A right time to wage war and another to make peace.(The Message)

I’m trying my best to live in each season. Because in the season is where we find life, purpose and hope.

Diatomaceous Earth – the wonder dirt – Part 2

This wonder dirt, is indeed – wonderful. I first wrote about it here So much POOP – DE – Part 1. I mentioned fleas in that article and now we address those nasty resourceful pests,  fleas.

Even though our county has suffered a problem with rogue insecticide resistant fleas, we had zero problem for about a year. Then we got some barn kittens. They came covered in the blood sucking critters.

Baby animals have somewhat vulnerable immune systems and cats in general have to be handled carefully because of the way their liver functions. Many of the natural remedies for flea control cannot be used on felines. We couldn’t (and wouldn’t) douse them with chemical laden powders, flea control agents, or powders, but we knew we had to get them clear of fleas because their tiny bodies could only handle so much blood loss.

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blood sucking flea

 

One of the go to things in natural flea control is the use of essential oils, but you have to be careful using this on cats because, again, their livers react differently to processing them and it can become a toxic situation.

We bathed the kittens up to their necks in warm sudsy Dawn dishwater. This moved the fleas to the top of the cats heads, where they were picked off with either the flea comb or our fingers. Then the kittens were thoroughly rinsed and combed through again. We dipped the fleas clinging to the comb in a dish of Dawn soapy water.( Once removed from the host body, the fleas have to be drowned or they can jump onto something else). Then we got to cuddle the furry bodies as we towel dried wet fur.  This process had to be done a few times;  it’s amazing how many fleas their little bodies could host. And, of course, we had to keep on top of the hatching eggs, larva etc.

What does this have to do with the Wonder dirt? Good question! It wouldn’t be wise to plop sparklingly clean kitties back into flea infested places, so while they were being bathed, their bedding and living space was also treated with first a hot wash and dry in the machines and then a sprinkling of FOOD GRADE DIATOMACIOUS EARTH (DE).  Again, this process was repeated each time they had a flea bath.

We had a few flea free weeks, when one of the kittens unexpectedly died. We immediately got two kitties to fill his spot, and they too, came with fleas. So repeat, rinse, repeat. Finally all the felines were flea free. Or so we thought.

I took the oldest kitten to get neutered and discovered he had fleas! To be honest,  I hadn’t kept up with the DE treatments in the cats living space. It wasn’t a bad infestation, but it was fleas. Then we found some on our dog. And, sure enough, the other kitties had them too.

Now this might sound like an unsuccessful attempt at natural flea control, because we started out with fleas and now, we still have them. However, being vigilant in keeping up with the DE dustings is crucial and I had let it lack. But in keeping up with it and treating the animals again, has now, made us flea free.

DE can also be used as a powder on your pets/livestock. You must be careful when dusting it, it makes a very fine powder and if you have asthma, or your animals have respiratory issues, it’s a good idea to pour the dirt in your hands and then rub it on the animal instead of shaking it around like a salt shaker. Also, companies sell dusters that control the powder dispersion. When we dust the chicken coop with it, we remove the chickens first, spread the DE, put some in their food, and let it all settle before letting them back in. We dust the livestock at their neck (keeping it our of eyes and ears) along the spine and under the tail when we trim their hooves. We give a spoonful in our dog and cat food at least once a week. So far, so good.

Diatomaceous-Earth

Food Grade DE.

Baldwin Acres is like a winter flowing stream. We’re always learning, trying new things, failing at things but moving along. Every now and again things get clogged and we have to step back and evaluate. We are determined to keep things natural, non-GMO and organic, including pest control. This includes but not limited to using DE and essential oils.

I always go back to the fact that God created everything and provides for us to manage our lives. DE is a natural ‘dirt’ of microscopic ground up seashells whose sharp shells cut the pests  exoskeleton. Besides among other things,  being  used for killing fleas, worms, and poop control, DE is also used in grain storage as it controls pests and absorbs moisture, keeping the grain free from mildew. Damp barns could benefit from  spreading DE on stored alfalfa, hay, etc. to potentially control any mold/mildew growth.

In researching DE I’ve learned that humans use it for hair and scalp problems, acne, mouth sores, parasite control and bowel troubles. Just remember, it is all natural but you must make sure you are using FOOD GRADE DE.

Do you use DE for something I’ve not mentioned? Let me know! If you’ve read this far you’re interested…..

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Mouser, Maggie and Mic. Three content flea free ‘barn’ cats.