Monthly Archives: February 2017

Growth…

When we hear the word growth, we imagine children growing up into young adults, maybe a company that has done extremely well and is growing as a business. 

But growth doesn’t always mean moving forward, sometimes it is part of the learning curve of how to do things better. 

Our gardens have always done pretty well over all. There have been challenges when it comes to powdery mildew, (a destructive mildew to broadleaf plants), bugs like the vine bore, and then there’s groundhogs. 

We are trying not to use chemicals and keep things as organic and natural as possible. This means making sure we keep up on treatments and water management is a bit more challenging because timing is so very important. With both of us working a full time job and maintaining the gardens, this keeps us rather busy. 

And the elusive groundhogs are hungry and hard to catch. 

We planted 6 apple trees our second season, two of which survived.  Our berry patch was a total loss.  I can never remember to spray the apple trees with copper to help with those black spots on the apples. 

So, though everything wasn’t perfect, we learned what we are better at and are sticking with that for now. 

God gives us all giftings, so we are better at somethings than others, and the property is leaving us much to learn about and plenty of room to grow. 

The curve…

The best laid plans in our eyes are not always the way things need to be.

I believe that each piece of property has its own personality and purpose. That there is a way to work with the land with not having to beat it into submission to meet what we think is right. Somewhat along the lines of permaculture.

This is the learning curve of the farm. From the name to the function of the property, it is all subject to change and adaptation, until things fall into place.

We just need to be willing to seek it out and be willing to change when and where needed.

The property is almost perfectly south facing. So the gardens are first in the making.

Remember that 20 foot square section in the field filled with weeds and scrub trees? Well, that was the old manure pile from the horse farm. After we cleaned it up and ripped out all the weeds and scrub trees we found some really good soil there.  Something that is rare on our property as it’s literally mostly sand. I like to say if we had waterfront property, we’d have a beach, but seeming we are not waterfront, we have a cat box.

Because of the condition of our soil, we need to really compost like nobodies business. So we collect, gather, and obtain manure and leaves as much as we can. We have just learned about the potential of using shredded wood from tree companies to help with weed control and composting.  The great thing is that it’s free!

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Our compost pile, working on three years!

We mapped out what we originally called the back 40, which has now turned into the back 90, because of it’s size. What started as a regular garden has transitioned into a raised bed garden.

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From this in 2013…

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To this in 2014 and 2015…

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And now this in 2016.

Back in the day, when I was younger, and I like to think not as wise as I am now, I used to try and make due with the tools I had, rather than go buy the tools I need to do the job.

Taking charge of a small farm doesn’t lend well to trying to make due, so the right tools are necessary.

Meet Fergie…

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She is our first major addition to working the farm. A 1949 Ferguson tractor that came with some needed accessories! She’s also the same age as our home! It was meant to be obviously!  đź™‚

The learning curve can be quite fun!

Pilgrims Progress

We pulled into the drive way and parked. 

As we walked back through the field there is a pasture with one gate on the front and one gate on the side. There are two horseshoe pits adjacent the pasture. We keep going and pass two old apple trees.  Just a little further and there is a large area, about 20 feet square, that is nothing but high weeds and a few scrub trees. 

As we approach the wood line we walk up a slight hill. Just at the base of the crest of the hill is what appears to be a fairly large rock that is mostly buried. It’s here the vision hits me. 

The cross. 

It over sees the living area of the farm, much like Christ oversees our lives. 


The day we closed on the farm is the day we raised the cross just behind that rock, even before we moved a box into our new home. 

I have been told by more than one person that the hill leading up to the cross resembles the one described in The Pilgrims Progress. 

Self-sustainable vs. Independent

So, what does it mean to be self-sustainable and what is the difference if you were or want to be independent?

I’m going to use wikipedia’s definition as it really fits my perspective, though wikipedia isn’t a good source if this were a paper for school.

From wikipedia:

“A system is selfsustaining (or selfsufficient) if it can maintain itself by independent effort. The system selfsustainability is: the degree at which the system can sustain itself without external support. the fraction of time in which the system is selfsustaining.”

I like this definition for a few different reasons, but mostly because of the word system. First we need to define the word “system” for us to make better sense of the definition.

To me the word system is used for the community that God has put around us, as well as the property where He has placed us to grow.  Not just plants and animals, but to grow as believers in Jesus also.

The church as described in the book of Acts, describes this system perfectly, as Scripture tells us that people sold as others had need. Acts 2:45

They were self sufficient as a community, as they just didn’t take care of themselves, they took care of each other.

When we take apart the word independent, in – dependent, I see in the world and depend on that world’s system.

What do I mean.

The system of the world provides us much of our daily needs; electricity, water, food, fuel, to name a few.  These are all things that God provides for us as well, if we seek the knowledge and ability to use them.

We are never truly independent.  God has placed a system inside of our bodies that we are dependent upon. Our cardiovascular system and our respiratory system to name two. Both function self sufficiently together as a team, to the benefit of our life. One can not function without the other and it is not independent from God’s grace that allows us to live.

We are meant to function with God in order for us to be self-sustainable, not independent.

The challenge now is to get back to where we are self-sustaining with God, leaving our “in-dependent” living with the world.

What can you do to become more self-sustaining?

 

 

Trusting…

I saw the property first. I then showed my bride.

We knew it was just what we were looking for.

There was a small house.  A three stall stable that used to have goats and chickens. It was almost 3 acres and just about perfectly south facing.  The property was just about 50% cleared and the rest wooded.

Originally the property had retired race horses on it.

We walked and prayed over the property. Visited a few times. We just knew this was what God had in store for us.  We contacted our agent.

As I had mentioned before, our agent is a believer. She prayed with us and I’m sure prayed for us.  When we contacted her about the property, she was just getting ready to leave on her first family vacation in years.  She had mentioned the vacation before, and we knew she would be leaving, but the timing…

If we were going to make an offer on the property right away, she would have to pass it off to another agent. This would cut her out of the deal, at least partly.

She said that she was more than willing to give us to another agent, but also that if God wanted us to have this property, we would have this property.

We waited for her to return.

Upon her return we started the process of making an offer. It wasn’t straight forward, but the seller was very easy to work with.  It had been sitting vacant for about a month prior to us finding it.

We settled on a price, and began finalizing the financing.  The agree d upon price turned out to be just 9,000 dollars over our original search price.

Now, here is where the fun started.

A few blogs back you may have read about my bride and I choosing a completely new last name, well this reeked havoc with the Veterans Affairs administration and my VA loan.

I had already gone to the Veterans Affairs office in Baltimore to take care of this in person, but someone, somewhere, in the system did not do what they were supposed to do and nothing was filed to change my last name.

The bank wanted my VA guarantee with my legal name, and who can blame them, but finding the right person in the VA who does that is another story.  Did I mention we were on a 10 hour car ride home from a family reunion when all this went down?

Fortunately I had all the paperwork with us and was able to work with the mobile technology we had to get all the right paperwork to the right person in the VA to take care of the paperwork. Finding the right person however, was not easy.  I called politicians, anyone, and everyone, who could help get this done.  After I don’t know how many phone calls and talking to more people than I can count, someone was willing to go above and beyond and get me connected to the right person to push the right button.  That’s all that was needed.  Someone to push a button to change my name in the system that would spit out a piece of paper with my new last name from the VA.

The right person, the right piece of paper, all is well.

Though God gives us visions, and He will provide the provisions, sometimes we still need to battle to claim what He has for us. This was a battle, but God was and is faithful and saw us through.

Proverbs 3: 4-5

So you will find favor and good repute in the sight of God and man. Trust in the LORD with all your heart And do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He will make your paths straight.…

 

 

 

 

The vision…

My bride and I discussed and worked through 5 options when it came to the vision the Lord gave us and where God may want us to live.

First, obviously, was here in Maryland. Three other options were where the rest of our family lived: Idaho, Michigan, and New Hampshire. The last option was a more rural spot in Pennsylvania, yet to be determined.

You see, the vision was sustainable farming. To us, sustainable meant to learn to use everything God gives us where He’s planted us. It meant to learn how to reclaim, repurpose, and reuse, as much as possible.

We wanted to learn how to use all of our resources wisely and minimize waste.

We also see the farm involving community.

Through our discussions we agreed on a piece of property that would be able to support chickens and goats. Chickens for eggs and goats for milk. We also wanted it to be a south facing property to help with growing vegetables and fruit, as well as being better for using the sun for solar power.

Remember that word community above?  That was really the sticking point for us to stay in Maryland. The Lord had made us apart of several communities here. Work communities, ministry communities, family, friends, and church.

If we moved, we would be starting all over in having to rebuild these communities, so we decided to bloom where we were planted.

We have a family friend who is a real estate agent and also a believer. We told her what we were looking for and the search was on. She did happen to mention that what we were looking for and wanting to spend, wouldn’t be found in Anne Arundel County, but we searched non-the-less.

We researched what the county regulations were for keeping animals, so that helped us to narrow the search field to a home with at least an acre of property.

We looked at quite a few properties.  One of the other catch points was that we were using my VA loan, which doesn’t allow a home to be a “fixer upper.” After looking at several homes in our price range, we discovered, for what we wanted to spend and the loan we were going to use, we either needed to change the type of loan or raise our price.  We did not have 20% to put down, so that helped us to decide to stay with the VA loan, which meant we needed to up our price.

As soon as we raised our searching price, the property revealed itself.

Genesis 22:14

Abraham named that place God-Yireh (God-Sees-to-It). That’s where we get the saying, “On the mountain of God, he sees to it.”

 

Progress…

Progress means “growth, development, advancement to higher stages,” as listed on dictionary.com.

Progress is really subjective.

It starts with expectations that are formed through our belief system and worldview.

So, depending on how you see things around you, will really depend on whether you believe you are progressing or not. 

From a biblical worldview, what does progress look like?

Do you have what you want?

Do you have what you need?

Do you have what you SHOULD have?

Progress is really nothing more than a measurement.  It is this measurement which impacts our attitude. Are we happy, sad, joyful, angry, lacking, you fill in the rest.

As my bride and I were courting, we had many discussions about a lot of different things, one of which was where we believed God wanted us to live and what did He want us to do. 

Progress…

Our relationship with Jesus as individuals is first and foremost. Second is our relationship with Him as a married couple.  From there everything else is established. 

We prayed. We studied. We talked about our past and our life experiences.  What were our skills? What were our life experiences around those skills? What moves our heart in those areas of our life?

We both had at least a little gardening and farm experience. My bride admittedly had more. 

 We both had a desire to be self sustaining. This is different than independent. Being self sustaining really needs to involve community. Independence involves yourself. But self sustaining is a topic for another day. 

Our progress started with a vision founded out of our past and desire. 

Proverbs 29:18: “Where there is no vision, the people perish,”