Thursday, December 14, 2006

1st Year !

This month marks one full year since we’ve had this here blog going and what a year it’s been. Actually I’ve just barely scratched the surface of all the things I wanted to talk about here. The first few months I hit the ground running with pretty consistent postings, then once spring got here I kind of dropped the ball and still haven’t quite gotten back up to speed. I found that through the summer with the long days and lots to do out side, blogging got put on the back burner.

Though many of our goals did not get met this year we still had a full one nonetheless. We got a late start on our garden and despite our neglect it came through and we were blessed with an abundant harvest. My dad and I got to do some more work on our slip-form stone masonry project and though we aren’t quite finished yet we are a lot closer to being done than we were at the beginning of the year. Maybe 07 will be our big year.

Maybe we can even get the pond dug out.
I think I touched briefly in a past post about this particular project. My dad and I are building a dam with stone and mortar retaining walls were we can drive across. We jokingly call it the dam bridge project. I had intended on doing a post just about that but, here it is December already. Perhaps I’ll make a post about it soon now that I have more time to get back to blogging.

It’s been quite a blessing to have found all the terrific agrarian folks out there, though spread out all around the country are brought together by the technology of computers and the internet. It is said that this is the information age but, with the advent of web logging it is also a time of gathering for folks of like mind and similar interests. I suppose the main thing exchanged is indeed information but, it is also a place for encouragement and mutual edification.

A few months back I had finally bought some Joel Salatin books from Cumberland Books and have been enjoying those. I like how Salatin interjects a lot of philosophy into his writings. It takes a strong philosophy to go against the flow and step out and do something different than the mainstream society. Without philosophical moorings you can easily be swept back along by the culture at large with all it‘s worldly trappings and influence.

I knew we weren’t doing our poultry right by keeping them in the same place all the time but, after reading Salatins books I REALLY know it now. We’ve had our poultry in the same spot for years now and it is a perfect example of what NOT to do. The ground is all packed down and the health and vitality of our flock just isn’t what it could be if we moved them around regularly. We have another hoop house that we’ve never put up yet and I want to make it into one that can be moved around from place to place and do Salatins pastured poultry model. Though I don’t imagine we’ll ever be raising thousands of birds like he does.

This has truly been a year of soul searching for me. We’ve been working hard trying to get our business to run right but, I am ever coming to the realization that what I really want to do is spend more time here at the farm. If we keep on in the trash business hiring a driver is going to have to be a main priority because frankly I’m spending just too much time away from where I want and need to be.

Recently we bought a real garbage truck. A 6 yard compactor with a recycling area. It’s way better than using a pickup truck but, we’re having to work the bugs out of it. The truck has a lot of miles on it and the transmission already went out after using it just one month. But, we got the truck for a very reasonable amount and even with having to rebuild the tranny we are still doing alright. Right now as it stands I think we could make a few bucks on it if we were to sell it.
Once we get the new truck up and operating in regards to making the route more efficient we can then concentrate on getting a driver. That has to be the main objective. For over 6 years now I’ve been the only one. No vacations or sick days allowed. Not the kind of life I envisioned before we moved to the farm.

No, it’s going to have to be a team effort. Obviously it will take a big chunk of the profits to pay for some help but, in the end I think it will work out to the good financially. Two or three get a better return for their labor than someone working by themselves. That’s a biblical concept by the way.

In recent months I have seriously considered quitting the business or trying to sell it but, at least for now we feel like we should keep it going. It connects us with the community in a way that we never would be otherwise. Kelli and I were really encouraged after having raised our rates. We raised the rates in order to afford the payments on better equipment, but we feared we would lose a substantial number of customers. To date we only lost two and one of them may come back later anyway. And not only did we not lose many customers but, we got all kinds of positive comments and pats on the back telling us what a good job we we’ve been doing. People have been very supportive and have shared in our excitement of us finally getting a more suitable truck. We were extremely touched by how everyone has encouraged us and have rallied around us. God must still have a plan.

I would like to look ahead to the coming new year, make our plans and say we are going to do this or that, but I’m going to try real hard to refrain. It seems every time I try to set goals and predict what we are going to do, plans have a way of being changed. It seems I really can’t predict much of anything. In my last post I said it looked like we were surely going to have a white Christmas. Well wouldn’t you know that I have to eat my words yet again. We had a warm up, and some rain, and as of today, most of our snow has vanished. I’m not even going to try and guess whether or not we will have snow for Christmas. A profit I am not that’s for sure.

I always say there are more things I want to do here than I have lifetime to do it in. But, I guess you just keep chipping away at it and over time maybe your dream will look just a little bit like what you envisioned. However, my convictions have not changed much at all. I still feel that God is calling people out of Babylon you might say. Folks of all walks of life seem to sense that something about this modern world just isn’t right. We’ve come a long, long way from our roots and are finding that whole corporate industrial complex just isn’t enough to satisfy the deep yearnings of the soul. That is, to be close to nature. To live a slower paced life. To spend the short time we have on this earth doing something productive and meaningful. For most folks you just can’t find that kind of life in the 9 to 5 work a day lifestyle.

Well, as we keep plugging away, trying to stay out of the worldly system I’ll try to keep making it back to this computer screen periodically and let you all know how it’s going and how it’s been going. Come to think of it there’s still a lot more stories I have yet to share with you about our lives here in the great North Woods of Wisconsin. We’ve been here long enough to just about get our kids raised. Our youngest is already 15 years old. And our middle child is soon to be married. Wow! Tell you the truth I’m not really sure I can keep up with it all on this here blog but, I reckon I’ll try. It’ll be fun.

Oh, and if I don’t’ get a chance to make another post before we turn the calendar. May you all have a very Merry Christmas and a safe and Happy New Year!

Until Next Time

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Tis The Season

If this keeps up we will surely be having a white Christmas in the North Woods. It has been snowing pretty steadily the past few days. Not a big dumping but it just keeps coming in little increments. So far I think we have around 3 inches on the ground. I don’t know if it’s just me or what, but it seems like a lot of folks are in the Holiday mood this year. Decorations and lights are out in full force and it seems like every station I tune into on the radio has some holiday song playing. I’m enjoying it really despite all the commercialism that has hijacked Christmas. Gasp! Yes. I said it. I said the C-word. And I’m not ashamed of it either. When people on the street tell me “Happy Holidays” I usually come back with “Merry Christmas” and then watch their reaction.

How did it ever happen in this country that saying the word Christmas puts everyone on edge? What’s wrong with saying Christmas anyway? That is the name of the holiday isn’t it? Why is it that nobody has any qualms about saying the name of any other holiday? There is not a single holiday other than Christmas that people X- out part of the word for crying out loud! As I was growing up I always wondered what was up with that when I ‘d see “X-mas“. I thought it was some fancy way of saying Christmas like maybe the X was like a roman numeral or something. Like maybe it was Greek or some other ancient language for the word Christ. But, no it was just the beginnings of the relatively new phenomenon of “political correctness”. We mustn’t offend, you know.

It turns out that the big problem with Christmas isn’t the fact that people put up decorations or buy gifts for each other or drink eggnog or tell their kids that a fat guy named Santa supernaturally comes down their chimney with presents. No that’s not it at all. The big problem with Christmas is C-h-r-i-s-t. Yep, that’s it. People are offend by Christ. Always have been. And until he returns, always will be. It seems we are living at a time when a window of opportunity is just about to close. For most of us here in this country saying Merry Christmas was a perfectly acceptable thing to say during the time Christians have chosen to celebrate Jesus’ birth. Now, I’m not going to go into the whole thing about the pagan roots of how we got to this point but my point is, speaking the name of Christ has been a widely excepted thing to do in America and for a long, long time. But if everyone just blithely goes along with this notion that we can’t even speak the name of Christ in public the freedom of openly being a Christian in this country will soon come to a close.

In our prosperity I think we have taken for granted our freedom’s. We’re too comfortable in this country. We don’t want to make people feel uncomfortable so we say Happy Holidays instead. How tragic that we in America would deny our Lord for the sake of a little comfort. Christians living in Muslim countries would wish that, that is all that would happen if they openly spoke the name of Christ.

I’ve been thinking about how things have changed in America, about how Christianity keeps coming under fire. I know a lot of folks are just as saddened by it as I am and are wondering how we even got to this point. But, really during the 2 thousand plus years that Christianity has been in existence the freedom of openly being a real Christian without the fear of retribution has been a rare thing indeed. The freedoms that Christian Americans have enjoyed these past couple hundred years have been a window of opportunity to spread the gospel of Christ to the four corners of the earth. If we just keep going along with the current trend that window is sure to close. So why not help keep it open a little while longer. Next time someone says happy holidays come right back with a hearty Merry Christmas. Show them that you aren’t afraid to speak the name of Christ.

Last weekend the family and I went to see the new Nativity movie. I thought it was very well done. Going into it I was cringing a little bit wondering how badly they would chop up the scriptures. As far as I noticed there was just a few minor things that weren’t right but, overall it seemed to keep up with the facts pretty accurately. Gave you a sense of what it might have really been like back at the time of Jesus’ birth. It’s a weird time we are living in. It is a time when God is being outlawed in the public arena but yet at the same time Hollywood has learned there is money to be made by tailoring movies to the Christian market. With the technology they have for making movies with all the great special effects I wish they would make a lot more bible movies. As long as they stayed true to the Word. How about a new version of the Exodus story? I can just imagine how realistic they could make the parting of the Red Sea.
Anyway I highly recommend the movie and also I would urge everyone to speak up and tell folks to have a Merry Christmas during this coming “holiday” season.

Until Next Time