Friday, April 30, 2010

Between the Joneses and the Sanfords

On my mother's side of the family, there are people that own a junkyard. I have 5 brothers and growing up, all of them (as well as my dad) worked there at one time or another. My uncles probably didn't mean for the junk to encroach into their dwelling's area, but hey- what are you gonna to do. I wonder if my Grandma ever went outside and said, "Hey! Clean up all this junk!"

At home there were always cars being worked on too. I thought all men spent their weekends laying under or leaning over a vehicle. Furthermore, people in our area (I can't speak for rural people everywhere) dumped junk anywhere they wanted. You'd just be walking along on a nice day with your stick and homemade bow and arrows, and find a washer in the middle of the woods. I sort of also thought the junkyard thing was normal and common, actually, because there was a show called Sanford and Son on TV then about a father and son team in the junk business. We were like the extended relations of the white Sanfords.

Mom was born at the end of the depression period and (everyone knows what I am going to say next) she even saved Cool Whip bowls. The Cool Whip bowl saving practice is legendary among anyone with parents my parents' age. I want to say this next sentence very carefully because I never want to dishonor mom.... our home was clean and orderly but it was very.... shall we say... full. People just didn't throw things away then because they knew they could find a use for them later on. Now this would be considered very chic because it would fall into the category of "reduce, reuse, recycle." Needless to say the resources in mom's purse were extensive.

When I got out into society I discovered the Sanfords weren't typical at all, it was some family called the Joneses. I never met the family that was the original Joneses but they must have been very serious about their stuff for people to still be trying to keep up with them. I do, though, personally know people... many, many people... who have made the Joneses look like pansy-faced sissies.

How fitting then that I left the Sanfords and found the Joneses, then left the Joneses and moved into a house that was owned by a couple who surely got the Sanfords and the Joneses mixed up, and were trying to keep up with the former not the latter. Needless to say, we have some cleaning up to do.

I once thought of writing a book about the psychology of your surroundings. Order and simplicity leads to peace and calmness. The opposite leads to a woman whose prayer life has increased immensely simply because most days, I only get the dishes done; and the Lord knows I need a supernatural cleaning. Amen.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

China, Buttercup, and the cow economy

A little politics, if you allow, so we can get to a point: It's widely know that we borrow the money we need to operate our government and economy from China. What isn't widely known, though it should be, is that China is going to cut the cord. They are making plans to do so now. If you look for it, you will find information about this fact.

Many have speculated how this will pan out. I know this: If food and fuel aren't available for even a short time in this country in just one area, things get a bit out of hand, shall we say. The entire food system now depends on the trucking systems; which depend on fuel from foreign sources that we use our dollars to buy. If we can't, there will be grocery stores with empty shelves. My brother, Kenny, recently quoted someone as saying that every person is 3 meals away from being barbaric. Whoa. Militancy may come in handy after all.

Cory and I started talking about food. Where we'd get it, etc. Vegetables are nice but they won't cut it exclusively for a lot of reasons. We started talking about cows sort of jokingly. It became our silly explicative we'd declare out loud when we'd hear bad news. "WE"RE GETTING COWS!"

Then something conspiracy theory bizarre happened. We actually had a conversation with a military contact (we're in a major military area) who told us some things he knew. If I told you I probably wouldn't have to kill you, but he might have to kill us; so let's just say I decided to get a book about cows (more about that book another time).

It doesn't matter if the economy doesn't crash. I pay a pretty penny for good food. I'd rather feed my kids well than give them other things. Securing it isn't just about emergencies, it's an investment; so raising and growing your own makes you a commodities producer, actually; and it's more secure than your 401k because you can walk outside and see your investment...yep, it's still there... and walk back inside. Also, if you have it, you don't have to pay someone else top dollar to get it.

When I left my job and we became a one income family instead of two, trade-offs became in order. If a budget is tight, spend less or make more. I planned on starting a business and still do; but the economy of a cow caused me to pause and consider reducing our expenses first. Look at these numbers:

Grassfed beef is $6-9 per pound. We eat it maybe twice a week; more if we could. A cow produces one calf a year that will yield 400 lbs of beef to eat or sell. That's $2400. Organic milk, cream, butter, etc. costs us $200 a month. That's another $2400/ year and that's not even raw stuff. Raw is much better for you than anything you can get in the store. The going price for raw milk shares in our area equates to $8/ gallon. A cow produces 3-4 gallons a day; 21- 28 gallons a week. Even if I make gourmet cheese and yogurt I will still have enough left over to profit well over $150 per week or $7000 a year.

Altogether, that's almost a thousand dollars a month from our little Buttercup for the next 12 years or so- Moo.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Zealotry and lip gloss leads to farming

I should talk about farm stuff but that doesn't really make sense until I talk about how we got to that. It all started because I was tired- like my whole life. Seriously. I just thought I wasn't a morning person. When I joined the military one of my teachers said, "How are you going to be in the military? You have to get up in the morning. It's the military." It was years until I found out I was anemic- low iron in my blood. Oh, okay! So I'm not just undisciplined- that's good to know.

I wish I could say the next day I became the billboard of health but life is all tangled up in many ways. We are fearfully and wonderfully made- and in my mind that involves complexities- nothing isolated, you know? It took a lot to even get to the point where I had the time to read about health. Then I did. And then I became a zealot. I love zealotry. It's one of my favorite things, so let's talk about that next.

The word zealot is used commonly to refer to someone who has an extreme position in an area. It has a historical background involving people that were serious about their spiritual beliefs. Okay, so far, I'm with them. They were also militant. Okay, I love them. But what does militancy have to do with food?

It all started with that ridiculous show, Charlie's Angels. All my friends growing up wanted to be Barbie with her manicure and pink convertible; but not me. Oh no. I wanted to be attractive (lip gloss and all), but I also wanted to know how to do everything and pack a pistol (there's your militant seed). Don't Charlie's Angels represent the best of both worlds that so many of us are torn between? We want to be smart and capable but also feminine. I agree there were some components missing which is why I was drawn to Martha Stewart: baking, decorating, and entrepreneurship. If Martha Stewart were a christian Charlie's Angel that also became a nurturing and wise mother, she would epitomize my life goals. Let's be thorough if we're going to be zealous, shall we?

When I began learning about how amazingly healing the right foods can be, you guessed it- food zealot. I wanted to give our family the best I could and started transitioning all of our food over to the good stuff. Well sweet mercy, I know what you are saying... I'm not made of money either. We started thinking maybe we could grow some of our own since this is our first spring and we do have our own patch of land now...

So! We are finally getting to what possessed us to actually buy two cows and some chickens. But because the complete motivation behind that involves more militancy and, therefore, zealotry, we shall have to discuss that in our next post. Militant cow decisions coming up next- mark it on your calendar.

Crazy women and beauty out here

Women are like pulsing waves. They are SO affected by the moon. They splash their glory up on the sand and then retreat quickly to see if it is okay from a safe vantage point. I looked up the word lunar and sure enough, lunatic is derived from it. It seems it was coined because of the association of women's monthly periods (you did know of their relationship to the moon's cycles, didn't you?) with their mental and emotional state. But who, in their right mind, doesn't love the ocean? And of course, the waves are what make it glorious. Interestingly, God just so happened to choose the female gender to represent His beauty, and I think, zeal. I'm glad we have that established.

So, here's how unimportant time is: when something beautiful is planted in a little girl's heart, she remembers it forever. And so it happened, that after a time, my desire became evident to return to a peaceful rural place. It was what I found wonderful about my childhood. We were always outside, and providentially we didn't have a lot of toys at all (there were 14 of us, you know). When you don't have plastic manufactured things, you examine the flowers and mud puddles and ants and pebbles; and creeks and trees and birds. You note how the sunlight looks through a window at different times of the day and how wonderful quiet sounds. I wanted that for my kids and for the rest of my and Cory's days. That's the other thing women are designed to do- express beauty and bring it to those around them. That's why we bother with curtains and flowered dishes- it's actually quite spiritual. Maybe boys don't think of beauty in the same way, but they get it- you know, caterpillars (callapitters, as Sam calls them) and such.

And the smells are too much to mention. They say the sense of smell is the strongest link to memories and emotion. You cannot fathom the mix of smells God can spread out on a brambly covered piece of land in southern Pennsylvania in the summer. Lest I paint a picture of an idyllic childhood, let me assure you that mine was not. And this brings me to the most important thing about me you should know which has nothing to do with me. My God. I could offer many academic points about His existence and the validity of the bible, etc.etc. but that's not how I know Him. I know Him because He was there with me, even before I had the head knowledge of Him. God spent time with me, comforting and loving me, and I just happened to be outside most of the time- so that is where I got to know Him. So, of course, it reminds me of Him.

My sister, Dolly, said she read a quote from Elizabeth Elliott once. I sure hope she can find it so I can get it right, but it went something like this: The child off wondering at God and His creation, marveling at the birds and trees and flowers, is doing something just as important as the child in the group.

Thank you Dolly. I so needed to hear that.

And so in the course of time, after much praying and reading and talking and hoping; because we had so many, many details to work out... my husband, 2 boys, and I eventually were able to leave the life we had in the city/suburbs and finally make it out here. We are just really settling in and starting to taste of this life together. I thought I might tell you about it.