We understand that the Lord’s house is a house of order, that the Earth, sun, stars and all of creation are held in their proper order by His hand. I have concluded that the reason our lives and health require us to spend so much time cleaning, ordering and fixing is that, in so doing, we emulate and develop this essential characteristic of godliness–the knee-jerk response to improve, clean, beautify and well-order everything that we encounter. When I go through these weeks where everything seems to be broken, falling apart or being held together only by brute force I like to think that my circumstances are accomplishing that immense work of making me more like Him.
I will be glad when the current run of plumbing and water-related issues reaches its end. In the last two weeks we have dealt with a badly plugged and overflowed toilet, a broken kitchen faucet, a washing machine leaking issue (that I hope we solved today) and (still) extremely slow laundry room sink and master shower drains. Isaiah has proved his worth again and again in helping with these repairs. His young knees and mechanical mind come very much in handy and I am grateful for them.
Our chickens went suddenly and completely on strike again–6-8 eggs per day to ZERO this whole week. Apparently, they went without food one day and broke their waterer (they all stood on it until it detatched) the next. Elijah was concerned that this had forced a molt, but I’m not seeing feather loss, the mystery birds are quite young to be doing such stuff and I read that when they force molts in industry they withhold feed for two weeks! I feel lousy about their not being fed and having to wait for their water, but it was not two weeks. I am suspecting it is the new nest box pads. I had Isaiah go out and stuff some dead grass and straw in there this evening. This stinks because I designed the next boxes to tilt so that the eggs would roll out for easy collection and the nesting materials prevent their rolling. On the other hand, there is nothing rolling out for easy collection right now either. Silly birds–there’s just no arguing with them over such things.
We have also spent the week low on milk. After making strange cheeses with the four accumulated gallons last week, I woke up last Sunday to find that my family had gone blender-drink crazy and we had no milk left at all. Then the boys had milk-straining issues that resulted in some losses, so not until yesterday did we finally have more than just a quart or two in the fridge. When the milk sits such a short time, the cream never has a chance to rise, so I don’t know that I’ve gotten more than a teaspoon all week. I’ve also had no surplus milk for yogurt, let alone cheese. I’m hoping for more skimming and culturing this week. I’m also hoping for positive signs of goats in heat! Three weeks ago it was just a maybe and three weeks from today is our planned breed date. This is the only time of year I wish we had our own buck.
With no spare milk my only food preserving projects this week were canning and drying a couple more small batches of peaches and nectarines and sticking the last of the Empress plums in the crock pot for butter. The Empresses are a prune plum that sell really cheaply up at our farm stand–I assume because they look so different from today’s standard glossy, round things in the grocery stores. They have substantial bloom on the skin, are more meaty than juicy and they often have broken pits when they are ripe. They also make a gloriously beautiful, sweet-tart fruit butter. Unfortunately, I’ve had a sick baby since I started them, resulting in full arms day and night and the canning keeps getting put off. The red has faded to brown and the flavors have darkened. Hopefully, some allspice and cinnamon will nudge the dark in the right direction and they’ll still be edible.
I’m not about to add a blog tag for vermin (though I might be able to justify it), but as this is the farm journal I will record: the flies are decreasing and we’ve gotten hit with another wave of sugar ants as of this week. Regarding the latter, the plan is to thoroughly diatomaceous earth under and around the house this next winter (while the ants and spiders are not so active) to see if we can prevent these influxes. They seem to happen when the weather changes—we got our first group right as they were predicting our first 100F+ heat wave—this week we have a little rain (yay!) and temps all the way down in the 80s. Maybe some day I’ll be smart and organized enough to see the signs and head them off, spray their usual paths, up the cleanliness, etc. There are times that I think that a pet lizard that was allowed to roams the halls (and walls) would not be such a terrible thing… This is our second year using fly predators. They are mighty pricey, but they definitely help. Last May the flies were so thick that I was just about ready to sell the goats, this year we noticed the flies but weren’t being driven to distraction. I hear that it is possible in time to “naturalize” the predators so one doesn’t need to buy them anymore. That would be nice. In the meantime, we look forward to our monthly shipments of predator-infected fly egg cases. As the song goes, fly predators are a girl’s best friend.
We have a massive wildfire burning about an hour away from us and this one looks like arson. The smoke is usually blowing in the opposite direction, but occasionally we’ll get a good whiff and it’s been irritating Isaiah’s lungs a bit. It’s stunning to look at the maps, read the reports, to try to envision the scale of the destruction and to know how many thousands of firefighters are risking their lives and health to try to put this out, and then to think that this may have been the result of someone’s choice. Our farm stand is up in that neck of the woods and they have posted that their “Last Chance” peaches are ripe. They truly are our last shot at peaches for the year, so I have to decide whether I want to take the time and brave the smoke to go up and get some…
We got our lettuce, spinach and chard in this week. We are trying to work our way through seeds that I bought in 2011 with the intention to replace them all this winter. The corn seeds from this batch came up ok. The germination rate was a little lower, but the bigger problem was that they went in late (we were awaiting a baby) and suffered trying to develop and ripen in the scorching heat. We don’t have the heat now, but the soil is so, so dry—keeping things moist enough to germinate will be a good trick. Grace helped me plant my part of the seeds. She dropped a lot of seeds by the wayside and liked to throw rather than place the seeds where I had my little divots, so our plots will be interesting. She’s such a sweetheart. Her new thing is that she will pipe up, “Did you see the pretty sun, Momma? Did you know Heavenly Father made the sun?” She asks me the same questions about clouds, the moon, trees, flowers, etc. It sometimes feels a tad insane still having littles and babies, but I’m so grateful for them.
The pasture seed has arrived. We had hoped to get those spread yesterday but the washer issue took precedence. We also took an hour out of the late afternoon and headed over to a small-town fiddle festival not too far from us. I’m trying to intentionally plan more of that type of stuff into our lives. The house and property could consume our every waking hour, but sometimes we need to go do something else. It will all still be here when we get back.