Consecration Acres

"If ye labor with all your might, I will consecrate that spot that it shall be made holy."

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“Winter” on the Acres

My old laptop screen broke last May and, after spending a good seven hours transferring the little stuff (Word and Excel files) over my wireless, I decided I had enough moved to function and that I would get to the big stuff (pictures and audio files) later.  Later arrived Monday evening, and the USB drive is much faster, no matter how “easy” they proclaim the other method to be.

All this to say that I was looking at old photos of our family in wetter climes and here, last year in March, which was also a wetter clime.  I’m still dreaming of rain and still waking up to sun and near 70F and hating it.  I’m trying to look at the bright sides of it all (near-zero heating bill, I can put off my big expensive boots purchase a little longer…that’s all I’ve been able to come up with so far), but the tan of the land, the emptiness of the pond and the concerns over what this summer is going to look like press on me.  How will this affect crops this year of produce, hay, meat?  I’m glad that we’re not starting from scratch putting together our long-term food storage (wheat prices are up by half since August!) , but I sure wish I’d been able-bodied enough to have had a really great canning/drying season this year and that we were going into this with jars, freezers and pantry full rather than empty.  I have to keep reminding myself–this baby is more important than all of that.  I have tried really hard to stock up and live providently whenever I’ve been able to.  The Lord will keep us when, through living the more essential commandments, we have to let some of the others slide for a bit, right?

Anyhow, with the unseasonably warm weather, our local-ish farm is clearing out the rest of its apple crop.  This Saturday, my husband and I went up and bought 120 lbs of apples for $45!  So I got a second shot at canning and we’ll have applesauce.  An afternoon’s work got us through 40 lbs, so we have another couple of days of work ahead.  Thank goodness for older children!  they eat more, but they also contribute more.  There’s no way I could have tackled this alone–canners full of water and bellies full of baby are not a good pair.

We also returned (most of, we missed the almond tree) our dead fruit trees and I determined that the 1-year guarantee on the trees is nice but not entirely free.  Every person, every step of the way:  did you water regularly?  did you protect the roots? did they leaf out?  did you pick off the blossoms when they appeared? did you, did you, did you?   And over and over we had to tell the tragic story of the nine-month fence install and the destruction by deer.  Salt rubbed into wounds…  So we have another six months on these ones.  Praying.

The goats seem to be doing fine.  I don’t go visit them due to my third trimester joint issues.  I am assuming/hoping that they will remember or get used to me again quickly when the time comes.  I also try not to worry about all the green grass they are not getting right now.  I am missing milk, hoping I am physically ok by the time kidding and milking all starts up again.  Prioritizing everything is a challenge.  If I had unbounded health and energy I wouldn’t have to make nearly so many choices about what to go with and what to let slide.  Sometimes it feels like I’m on a steep hillside and I’m able to hang onto about 2-3%.

The chickens are picking up production!  We are getting 4-ish eggs per day rather than 1-2.  For some reason, when I’m pregnant I go from not really caring much for eggs to needing two over-easy eggs every morning.  It’s nice to get up and have a full egg basket rather than having to go to the fridge and eat scrambled–I won’t do over-easy with store eggs.  Our chickens’ diet would probably startle most normal people.  They get most of our fruit and vegetable trimmings (except the really fibrous stuff that goes to the goats), leftovers that got neglected in the fridge, all plate scrapings, their own crushed eggshells, any grass or weeds we trim and, when we’ve been low on other stuff, we’ve sometimes dumped the top layer of the compost pile in their run so they can scratch through and eat the bugs and larva that are there.  Oh, yes, they do get some normal chicken feed as well.  The only thing they don’t eat is chicken–although I hear that some have cannibalistic tendencies, my husband drew the line there.  They’ve all been really healthy (we only lost one really early on for unknown reasons) and their eggs are delicious, dark-yolked and thick-shelled.  Night and day from the store eggs we typically get.  Like everything else, once you’ve grown it yourself, it’s really  hard to go back to grocery store fare.

I think that’s the complete report.  I need to walk the orchard and determine whether we got enough growth on anything this year to require pruning (or whether the deer pruning was sufficient…) and whether the strawberries are sufficiently dormant to transplant the runners into the empty spots in the second bed.

Pray for rain!  If you are a praying reader, we’re having a statewide day of fasting and prayer on February 2nd.  Please join us.  California produces about half of the nation’s food supply.  Impacts of a continuing drought would be significant, to say the least.


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Praying for Precipitation

It has been a good long month+ since I wrote last.  We brought some hideous virus back from Thanksgiving celebrations in AZ, were down with that for about two weeks, then the kids got food poisoning, and then my cold worsened and settled into my chest and I’ve been dealing with bronchitis since that.  Christmas was in there somewhere, I think.  And after a Christmas sick and pregnant, a Christmas moving, a Christmas traveling to a funeral and a wedding and another Christmas pregnant, I’m ready to sign up for an at-home, well, settled, calm, peaceful Christmas next year.  I miss baking, singing and feeling generally relaxed…

I also miss rain, horribly.  I woke up at about 6:00 this morning from a dream about Oregon and rain.  I realize that most of the USA would trade weather with us right now, but I’m really hating the near-70s and sunny.  Our pond was illegally pumped dry this summer (leaving us without water for fire protection), our pastures are still dry and yellow and we’re having to continue to water our trees and probably should be watering our strawberries as they still haven’t gone dormant.  This will have to affect the price and availability of hay, fruit, etc, etc going into next year as well.  I am watching the weather like I do during heatwaves–watching for the end!  We have a slight (30%) chance of rain in about a week, currently.  I am praying that that cloud off in the distance, as big as a man’s hand, will kick off a late, but thorough, rainy season.

And the goats are pregnant.  Penny’s health has been a little iffy.  She, for one, is enjoying the warm, dry weather.  When it was chilly, she was shivering a lot and, I hear, had a runny nose while we were in AZ…so I should be grateful for the bright side of this unseasonable weather.  I am making sure they get their minerals, and their hay is good.  I suppose I could start her on some herbs, but I don’t know what else to do.  Anyhow, as long as everything else goes well, we’ll have kids in May and milk soon thereafter.  The almond milk we’re covering the gap with is fine, but definitely not the same.

The whole farm life thing is so very uneven, feast-or-famine.  I remember when Spring hit and we were getting close to a dozen eggs and a gallon of milk a day.  The refrigerator was bursting and it took all my spare time to convert this stuff into food the family would eat.  I joked that when the Great Depression hit, we would live on custard.  Now we have no milk and 1-2 eggs per day and I am really grateful for foods that sound less glamorous but that store better than these.

Off to check on my crock pot full of pinto beans!