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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fall at Baldwin Acres (and what we’ve learned)

Anyone who follows this blog might think from the title that I meant I physically fell again…but nope…talking about the season this time!

Didn’t the end of summer came too quickly? While I was able to put up a few pints of tomato sauce (which look like tomato soup, but taste like tomato sauce) I didn’t get half of the canning done that I did last year. Most of the pear and plum harvests went to just eating and then to live stock. As did most of the apples. I did manage to bake a couple pastries and cookies but no jam, or apple pie fillings or pear slices like last year.

Harvest pasteries

Harvest pastries

One of the biggest stories of our summer was the return of Pork 1 (now named Ollie) who had gone missing the day after we got her. Her story is elsewhere on this blog, but suffice to say, she’s back and happy with her siblings.

the swine of Baldwin Acres

the swine of Baldwin Acres

the majority of our raised beds are  harvested. The fall garden is sparse. We were able to gather enough Scotch Bonnet, Habanera, and Jalapeño peppers to take to two local fire departments for their kitchens. We used our spaghetti squash on a family getaway, and we have a few big pumpkins and small squash  for October. The volunteer tomatillos came back but I’ve yet to figure out what to do with them. This year we’re also trying our hand at saving seeds. Did you know that you cannot save just any seeds? Well, you can, but unless they are open pollinating and non-hybrid seeds they won’t grow. (Lesson learned!)

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Lessons…. we are continually learning something…animal husbandry, pasture management, and growing our own grains are just some of them. If we are not learning something, then we’re planning. For example, the garden has done much better this year so next year we will expand it. I’d like to utilize better the fruits from the orchard and the eggs from the chickens. It’s good that we didn’t waste any but I still would like to have some in the pantry.

Lance was able to get another tractor at an auction. This one has a back hoe and a shovel. It will be great help and alleviate some of the physical work he tackles on his own. I do help, but honestly, I’m not much help. He fenced our property, built the barn, and the livestock shelters pretty much on his own. Not to mention the gorgeous gazebo over the hot tub. (Life on the homestead is good).

Our venture with turkey’s showed us to do better research. We initially wanted an heirloom breed like we’ve done with our Kune-Kune/AGH pigs, our Jacob sheep and our goats. But, the local store had only BBW’s (Broad Breasted Whites). So we bought them. BBW’s have been so overly genetically mutated for their breast meat they cannot naturally breed. (In more ways than one we have managed to ruin God’s once perfect creatures). They are beautiful, but because they will suffer when their hearts rupture or their lungs collapse, their life span is short.

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The first photo shows the Breasted white turkeys. The second shows the heirloom breed Royal Palms, drinking from the livestock water. All the animals seem to think the other animals have better water. Maybe they have fizzy water, or an energy shot? The livestock constantly tried to get in the turkey pen to drink their water, and when the turkeys come down to the lower pasture, they drink heavily from the livestock tank. None of them can get into the pig pen but when we fill the pool or their water dish, there is a gathering at the pig fence. You can almost see the drool.

We have tasted one turkey. Turns out turkeys aren’t very smart. We had just loaded a ton of hay up in the barn and I was driving the truck through the pastures while Lance walked ahead and opened and closed gates and kept animals where they belonged. When I momentarily parked, one of the turkeys sat under the trailer and when I pulled forward, I ran over her.

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We had read that when you eat homegrown anything, it will taste like a foreign food, but our turkey tasted like turkey. Maybe if we had a regular antibiotic hormone riddled turkey right by our homegrown girl we would taste the difference, but she tasted like turkey.

On the list for fall farm chores: trimming livestock hooves, vaccinating the barn cats, deworming livestock, and filling in the pasture that gets flooded in the winter. I will plant garlic and oats for our winter crops and start planning for spring.

I like the seasonal changes in the homestead. Each one has both a beginning and an end, life and death. I am so happy the Lord set us up here. Life is challenging, but always good

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