The Progressive Fruit

Each and every day, we strive to learn something new. At least one thing. Anything. Every day. It’s kind of our mantra around the farm, as there is a l w a y s an abundance of newness to be discovered.

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However, in this particular season, there is rarely a day that goes by in which I, we, don’t discover multiple new things.

For me, personally, the garden has been full of discovery this year.

It’s been an odd one, this growing season. The rains were abundant early on, and while that has led to very productive vines, it has also lengthened the ripening process of some fruits. What is normally harvested in one or two waves, has turned into four or five, or more.

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Now, I’m not necessarily saying the harvest is more abundant this year. It’s just spread out. Those half dozen trips to the pea patch yield the same this year as the two trips last year. Four trips to the fig tree over three weeks time offer the same amount as one did, previously.

And I wonder – is it best to have all the fruit ripen at once? Seems like less time is required from us. Less work. Or is it?

Sure, there may be fewer trips to the field for harvesting. And all those buckets slap full can make you feel really accomplished.

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But.

The pressure of what to do with all that ripened fruit, at one time, can get quite overwhelming. And if there isn’t some sort of working plan for it, it can ruin very quickly, becoming good for nothing.

So it is in our own lives. The lives of our children. And the relationships of both.

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I think maybe the lesson in this season has to do with progression – “the process of developing or moving gradually towards a more advanced state.”

If we truly are progressing, there will be, at some point, multiple points, fruit ready for harvesting.

And when it is, we must ask ourselves what we are going to do with it. Will it be arranged in a beautiful bowl, on display for all to marvel at, but well on its way to spoiling? Will it be shared with others, that they may be nourished as well?

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Will it be combined with other fruits, each bringing out the best of the other?

And, finally, are we taking measures to preserve the over abundance, that it may be put to good use when needed?

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I no longer wonder if the progressive fruit is more work on our part. I know it is. For this particular season has taught me firsthand. And although it is exhausting and time consuming and ALOT of work, it’s so worth the outcome.

Sow the seed. Tend the plant. Render the fruit. Preserve the harvest. Do the work. Because one day, that fruit will produce fruit of its own…

Blessings to ya’ll this weekend 🙂

 

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Bread & Butter Zucchini Pickles

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Ahh, canning season… One of my most favorite things about spring/summer. 🙂

With all the busyness and bounty that comes along this time of year, we’ve set aside Wednesday as our “canning day”. It’s something I absolutely must schedule for a certain day – else it may not get done. So, it’s my intention to share with ya’ll the recipes we are using each week in our endeavors.

First up…

Bread & Butter Zucchini Pickles

3 1/2 pounds medium zucchini

1 cup thinly sliced, halved onion (1 large)

3 T pickling salt

crushed ice

2 cups apple cider vinegar

1 1/2 cups sugar

1 T mustard seeds

1 t celery seeds

1/2 t whole peppercorns

1/2 t ground turmeric

5 pint size mason jars

  1. Wash zucchini. Slice off the stem and blossom ends. Cut crosswise into 1/4″ thick slices. Measure 12 cups zucchini slices.
  2. In an extra large nonmetal bowl, combine the 12 cups zucchini and the 1 cup onion slices. Sprinkle with salt and toss gently to coat. Top with 2 inches of crushed ice. Weight down mixture with a heavy plate. Allow to stand at room temperature for 2 hours.
  3. After the 2 hours has passed, removed any remaining ice in zucchini mixture. Transfer mixture to colander set in sink, drain.
  4. In a 5 to 6 quart stainless steel, enamel or nonstick heavy pot, combine vinegar, sugar, mustard seeds, celery seeds, peppercorns and turmeric. Bring to boiling, stirring until sugar dissolves. Add zucchini mixture. Return to boiling, stirring frequently. Reduce heat. Simmer, uncovered, for 5 minutes.
  5. Ladle hot mixture into hot, sterilized pint canning jars, leaving a 1/2 ” headspace. Wipe jar rims; adjust lids.
  6. Process filled jars in a boiling water canner for 10 minutes (start timing when water returns to a boil). Remove jars from canner, cool on wire racks.

 

And that’s it. A quick and easy something to do with all those excess zucchini. I can’t wait to try them out on a BBQ sandwich!

Ya’ll enjoy, and be inspired. 🙂

Sanctuary Scutwork

A repost from a few years back. Sometimes, old words are the best motivators for new words…

Happy Friday, ya’ll. 🙂

 

“The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden to work it and take care of it.” – Genesis 2:15

I love that verse. I love the fact that as soon as God breathed life into the nostrils of man, he put the man in a garden. To work it. To take care of it.

I love that the Hebrew word for “work” here is ‘abad. It means so much more than the four letter word we translate it into. Out of the 290 times it is used in the Old Testament, 227 of those times it means “to serve”. To serve! God put man in the garden to serve Him by working the land He provided.

Not only did God put man there to serve Him by working the land, he put him there to keep it. To shamar it. To retain posession of it. To guard it. To observe it. To give heed to it.  To preserve it. To protect it.

Is that not fascinating?!

Well, maybe it doesn’t fascinate you as much as it does me. 🙂  But we take it pretty seriously around here. It’s how we came to name this place where we reside, “The Sanctuary”. A sacred place, and a refuge. This is where we serve God by getting our hands dirty. This is where we worship Him by exercising the skills He has gifted us with. This is where we observe and protect and guard His creation. This is where we retain posession of a parcel of land that is sold out for His work, not ours. This is where we preserve His will for family (Deut 6).

Sssooo, once a week, I’d like to invite you to The Sanctuary. It’s not a long trip. Just to your inbox. 🙂  Come and see what we do and how we live. There are always projects of some kind going on. And we’d love for you to be a part of it!

It’ll be as if you are getting your hands dirty, too. Come alongside…

 

 

 

 

Getting our wide heads stuck in the narrow gate (Life lessons from a cow)

I have come to love, and look forward to, the ways in which Jesus speaks to me through the crazy antics of the animals he has entrusted in our care. Every day there is a lesson to be learned. Or, better yet, the opportunity to recall and put into practice a lesson previously learned.

Last Tuesday morning was no exception.

Carson and I struggled out of bed before daylight, the time change really taking a toll on our bodies. We geared up and headed out for our morning milking. As we walked along, listening to the birds early morning “hello’s”, a cute little calf tail, happily swishing around, caught my eye. My line of sight quickly shifted to the left and there stood Ferdinand along side his momma, nursing away. His swishing tail a sign of delight. This, my friends, should not be. 

See, we do not allow the calf to stay with his momma all day and night. He would take all her milk. So, they reside in separate areas, only to come together for a brief time after morning and evening milkings. In a perfect world, Bess would happily share her milk with us, while having her calf frolic freely with her all day and night. But we don’t live in a perfect world. And the word “sharing” is not in her vocabulary. Anyway…

Carson and I made our way to the barn, frantically discussing all the possible ways Ferdinand could have escaped into the pasture with Bess. Jumped the fence, ran through the fence, climbed the fence… 

Try “none of the above.” It actually didn’t have a thing to do with the fence. Oh, the ironies.

This is what we found.

 

The gate, completely lifted off the hinges, with a narrow opening just big enough for a three week old calf to slip through.

We knew what happened, but didn’t really believe it until we saw it…

I stood right there watching her, dumbfounded. 

A big, wide head wedging its way into the narrow spaces of the gate. 

We had a heart to heart about why she should not be doing this. And I calmly explained to her all the dangers of continuing this behavior. She responded back with a snort and a long, loud “Mmmoooo!!”  

Lesson learned? Negative. She did it again two days later.

As I walked away after the second occurence, the Lord brought Matthew 7:13-14 to my mind. 

“Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.”

Interesting.

The Greek word for narrow here comes from the root word “histemi”, meaning “to make stand immovable, to place, put, set; to make firm, fix, establish.” In other words, it cannot be changed. 

Once the post holes are dug, the posts are set, the concrete is poured, the support braces are intact… it’s there. The space is created for a specific size gate and it cannot hold a larger gate, nor a smaller one, than what is permitted by the posts that support it. 

But here we come, all wide in our ever changing ways. If we can’t enter the gate in a correct way, we seem, like Bess, determined to get our overgrown belief systems  squeezed through that narrow space  between the rungs. And if that doesn’t work, let’s just rip it off the hinges.

I found the Greek word for wide very intriguing. It comes from the root word “plassos”, meaning “to mold, form; used of a potter.”

It’s the same word Timothy uses to describe how God “formed” Adam and Eve. 

The only problem is this – God is not the potter for the wide gate. We are. 

Overgrown belief systems.  Be it Pharisee in nature, or worldliness. 

And if we continue trying to wedge our wide ways into the narrow rungs of the gate, one day  we might find ourselves stuck. 

But then again, that might not be such a bad thing…

 

 

 

 

Sanctuary Scutwork

“The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden to work it and take care of it.” – Genesis 2:15

I love that verse. I love the fact that as soon as God breathed life into the nostrils of man, he put the man in a garden. To work it. To take care of it. 

I love that the Hebrew word for “work” here is ‘abad. It means so much more than the four letter word we translate it into. Out of the 290 times it is used in the Old Testament, 227 of those times it means “to serve”. To serve! God put man in the garden to serve Him by working the land He provided. 

Not only did God put man there to serve Him by working the land, he put him there to keep it. To shamar it. To retain posession of it. To guard it. To observe it. To give heed to it.  To preserve it. To protect it. 

Is that not fascinating?!

Well, maybe it doesn’t fascinate you as much as it does me. 🙂  But we take it pretty seriously around here. It’s how we came to name this place where we reside, “The Sanctuary”. A sacred place, and a refuge. This is where we serve God by getting our hands dirty. This is where we worship Him by exercising the skills He has gifted us with. This is where we observe and protect and guard His creation. This is where we retain posession of a parcel of land that is sold out for His work, not ours. This is where we preserve His will for family (Deut 6).

Sssooo, once a week, I’d like to invite you to The Sanctuary. It’s not a long trip. Just to your inbox. 🙂  Come and see what we do and how we live. There are always projects of some kind going on. And we’d love for you to be a part of it! 

It’ll be as if you are getting your hands dirty, too. Come alongside…

This project was all me. Yep, no hubby to help out on this one. I succesfully weather-proofed the chicken coop. In a very classy gray tarp. 😉

We removed some electric fencing that is out of use while we are in the process of expanding our pasture. And yes, our kiddos work with us!

Here they are cutting some of the fencing wire…

Hubby on his way to cut some trees, making room for the future home of our honeybees.

And here’s my Jersey-girl, Bess. We are not milking at the moment, as we are anxioulsy awaiting the arrival of her second calf the end of February.

Our first order of non GMO, heirloom seeds from http://www.rareseeds.com came in this week! If you are a gardener, this is the place to get your seeds!!

The girls and I assembled a shelf for our seed starting adventures. Pretty good job, I might add. 🙂

Two flats full of various heirloom tomato seeds planted! And a lot more to go! We used clothespins (taken apart) as markers for our pots.

Hubby also finished the tin on the lean-to’s for our separate pastures so my Jersey-girl can get under cover from the rain. He says I’m crazy and she is just a cow. Whatever.

Alright, that about sums up our week around here. There are greens to pick and put up, more seeds to start, and quite an array of other scutwork to be done. But there is joy to be found in it all as we serve with humble hearts.

“A man can do nothing better than to eat and drink and find satisfactiion in his work. This too, I see, is from the hand of God, for without Him, who can eat or find enjoyment?” – Ecclesiastes 2:24, 25

Praying your eyes are opened to the majesty of His creation this weekend!

🙂

 

 

 

A King’s Crown

A pomegranate in December. One single, solitary pomegranate, on the bush, in December. Hhmm. I smile inside, and probably a little bit on the outside, too. 

And it finds me just a few quiet days before Christmas. As I’m walking in the backyard of a home that holds so much of my heart, my granddaddy and I, we find it. A few quiet days before the birthday of a King, we are gifted with this single piece of crowned fruit.

My heart leaps, because I know the history of this. It’s ingrained in me. A couple of years ago, the fruit was bountiful on this bush, and we harvested on the heels of the Jewish holiday of Rosh Hashanah. I think of the high priest of old, and how he wore the emblems of this fruit on his robe as he ministered before the Lord. The ancient idea of the number of seeds corresponding to the number of laws in the Torah, it floats through my thoughts. I envision the columns of the temple, built by Solomon, adorned with the fruit. I see a king wearing a crown designed from the crown of this fruit. I think of a King, THE King, whose birth we will celebrate soon. A King whose birth we should celebrate every day of our sin stricken existence…

The deep, red blooms abounded this spring, encouraging hopes of another fruitful harvest in the fall. But not this year. No, this year a single crown will have the spotlight. Two months after harvesting time, this lone fruit will hang on to the vine, ripe with purpose. 

The question is, what will you do with it? What will I do with it? Merely observe its beauty on the vine? For whatever reasons, will we just act as passersby and smile for a moment at the miracle of it? Or, maybe, just maybe, we harvest it. We cut it open and marvel at the perfection. We consume it, because the whole fruit is edible and good and life giving and it was created for such. 

I desire to choose the crowned fruit. The crown of a King. The crown of theKing. 

“Now choose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the Lord your  God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. FOR THE LORD IS YOUR LIFE!!” – Deuteronomy 30:19, 20.

Blessings,

Erin

 

 

 

A little fir tree in a big empty field

Our book nook. (insert pic of christmas books)

Around here, we love books. And around here, we love Christmas. Combine the two and there is potential for, well, some serious Christmas book reading! Which is kind of the idea, isn’t it?

This one, The Little Fir Tree by Margaret Wise Brown is, by far, one of our favorites. I nearly cry every time we read it. Not so much because it is a sad book, but more so because it is such a real book. About real life. About the real Savior who came to us. And the very real, albeit at times lonely and confusing, path we journey along as His followers.

As the little fir tree grew, he was surrounded by the wonder and majesty of God in all seasons. But…

“Always the little fir tree looked over at the big fir trees in the great dark forest. He felt a little lonesome in his littleness, away from the other trees. He wished he were part of the forest or part of something, instead of growing all alone out there, a little fir tree in a big empty field.”

(Smiling to myself.) Can you relate to that?

Well, along comes a man. A father. He tenderly digs up the tree, roots and all, and carries him to his lame son to become a part of the boy’s “very own world” in the celebration of Christmas. As winter passed, the little fir tree was returned to his rightful place in the field, to grow. This tradition of moving from house to field continued for several years.

Until one cold winter. The man didn’t come for him.

And there the growing tree sat, feeling like a little fir tree in a big empty field.

You see, the little fir tree had forgotten his beginning. He had forgotten that, as a seed, he had “blown through the air, out of the forest and into the field.” Out of the forest. Into the field. In that big empty field is where, as a seed, he had dropped to the ground, sprouted, taken root, AND GROWN.

We forget so easily. And it’s really a mystery to me how we do. Really, it is… How is it that we can eagerly desire to be part of something we (or others) perceive as bigger, better, more esteemed, when we can’t even determine to be fully planted right where GOD perceives it is bigger, better, more esteemed?

That’s where grace steps in, I suppose. Crazy, wild grace.

“Then in the white and snowy darkness he heard singing. Far off, he heard the Christmas carols, across the frozen fields. The music grew louder and, joy of joys, it came nearer! And there, leading the dark band of carolers across the snow, with a lantern in his hand, came the little boy! He was WALKING, walking out to his tree near the forest!!!”

Don’t ever think your big, empty field is irrelevant. Because it is so very relevant.

“All the trees of the field will know that I the Lord… make the low tree grow tall. I the Lord have spoken, and I will do it.” – Ezekial 17:24

Blessings,
Erin

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