The last few weeks have gone by so fast! I was furloughed from my work because of covid-19, so I’ve just been avoiding public places and enjoying life on my little farm. I’ve actually been doing a lot more cooking/baking and crafting lately, but I have done a few things outside.
I have a few places in my yard that are basically a no-man’s-land, as far as planting in the ground goes. So this year, I decided to reclaim one section by using above ground planters. It’s out of the way, behind the chicken coop, so rather than investing in something expensive, I just went with large storage totes. So far, it’s been brilliant.
If you notice that some of the leaves are a bit…nibbled on, that’s the fault of my chicken, Ellie. She likes to help out in the garden, and takes her pay by taste-testing my veggies for me.
One of my Muscovy hens has gone broody, and has staked claim to a corner of the overflow coop.
She’s super sweet, not aggressive at all, and completely unflappable. My corgi managed to get in the coop with her yesterday, and stood there, barking in her face, and she just sat there and waited for him to go away. I did not think the eggs were fertile, because my one drake suffered a penile prolapse early this Spring, and ended up losing his…ahem…male equipment. This isn’t a problem for him, but it should mean no fertile eggs for me. I ordered three pekin ducklings to foster with her, but the day before they arrived, I double-checked her eggs by candling them, and miracle of miracles–about five have babies inside them! I don’t know if they’ll manage to hatch, but since they should be due any day now, I’m holding onto the pekins, and hopefully if she hatches some muscovies in the next few days, I’ll be able to slip the pekins in with them. I can’t give them to her now, because she’d abandon the eggs. You don’t know how hard it is to avoid snuggling three perfect little fluffy yellow ducklings! But I don’t dare give them much attention, because then they would imprint on me, and not accept her.
And speaking of perfect little fluffy creatures…along with the pekins, I got my future chicken guard goose! Meet Sophie.
She’s a tufted Roman goose, and is currently being fostered by my best broody hen, Ophelia. Ophelia didn’t even bat an eye at this strange new baby. Along with Sophie, I gave Ophelia two chicken chicks too, because I wanted Sophie to have ‘sisters’. Chickens are mean girls, and it really helps if you’re brand new, to have a few brand new friends.
I still need to figure out names for these two. The silvery grey one is a Lavender Orpington, and the brown one is a new hybrid called a Colorpack. It’s part Cream Legbar, so I will have colored eggs, either blue, green, or pink.
And just to show the size difference between a chick and a gosling…here’s Sophie and her sisters:
And here’s a video of Ophelia and Sophie:
It is so so so so HARD not to snuggle this gosling! Goslings are possibly my favorite baby animal, and Sophie is so calm and sweet. She keeps walking over to me and looking up at me with this adorable expression.
I’m hoping that once she’s safely imprinted on Ophelia, that I’ll be able to snuggle her. Ophelia won’t mind. This is the hen who, when I pick up one of her babies and the baby yells, runs over and pecks the baby to tell her to stop acting like an idiot. Humans are friends! They bring us food!
It’s going to be so much fun to watch Ophelia and her three mismatched children explore the chicken yard.
Well, pretty much everything has changed since the last time I posted, hasn’t it? As I write this, I’m under lockdown in my state for two weeks. They hope this will “flatten the curve” and keep this virus from becoming as terrible here in the States as it has been in other parts of the world. I don’t know if that will work or not. Honestly, I have complete security knowing that everything will be fine for me and my family, whatever happens. We are completely safe, forever.
But right now, I’m off work (with pay, thankfully!) and I’m sitting at home being bored and miserable.
You didn’t believe that last statement, did you? If you did, you haven’t been following this blog very long, I’m guessing! Of course I’m not happy with why I’m at home, and it feels a bit weird knowing I can’t just pop into JoAnn Fabrics at a whim – but even in regular times, it’s basically my goal on most days to never leave my property. It truly is a glorious feeling to have all the time for whatever I want to do…and I gotta say I’m loving how quiet everything is. I live near a busy street, and normally the sound of traffic is constant. I woke up this morning to silence.
I’ve been sitting with the chickens, cooking new recipes, playing games, and crafting. So much peace, here on my property – with just a bit of spice, when we plan future trips to pick up groceries (mainly just milk) and animal feed, wondering if the stores will still be sold out, and if we should spray everything down with bleach before we bring it in the house. It’s honestly…kind of fun. I’ve always loved reading about people who lived through “interesting history”, and wondering what it would be like to be one of them. If this current world-as-we-know-it holds together longer that I believe it will, one day little girls will be reading about the pandemic of 2020, like I read about the Spanish Flu. I think I’d feel quite a bit differently if I hadn’t already read the ending of The Book, and know that whatever happens, nothing can keep me from the glorious future waiting for me. Some of my friends and co-workers are so scared. I wish they understood. One day very soon, they will.
But I actually just wanted to talk about some of the interesting things I’ve doing these past couple of days. Things like letting the Muscovy ducks out to roam in the garden.
Things like trying salt-cured egg yolks.
You completely cover raw egg yolks in a salt/sugar mixture, and let them sit in the fridge for a week to dry out. Then you remove them from the salt, further dry them for a short time in the oven on a low temp, then they are ready to eat! But WHY? Because you can grate the yolks and use them as a tasty topping for almost anything that calls for grated cheese. I haven’t tasted them yet, they are still drying in salt, but it sounds intriguing. And if there’s one thing I have plenty of right now, it’s eggs. Particularly since I’m locked down and can’t sell my extra eggs at work.
Today I also brought out the craft I bought a few months back, and didn’t have time to do.
My first attempt turned out pretty good! This book has THE CUTEST little felt doll clothes for this doll, can’t wait to make the little fox hood/cape!
Out in the garden, Spring is springing up all over. I’ve got the lettuce starts I bought out in the garden, getting a head start while the seedlings I’m growing from seed are in the greenhouse. It never ceases to thrill me, being able to plant things like lettuce – and NOT have slugs immediately devour them! Letting the chickens out to dig through the garden in winter and early spring, controls them so amazingly well. They eat all the slug eggs (and a few of the slugs themselves) and I have a nearly slug-free garden. It works so much better than letting ducks wander through your garden, eating the adult slugs!
The peach and plum trees are blooming.
The chickens are laying, and hopefully considering going broody. I’d love it if one of these new bantam cochin hens decided to raise a family for me. I really, really want a Lavender Orpington this year.
Though not you, Khaleesi! Every year this frost Cream Legbar decides she wants babies, and I remind her that she is quite possibly clinically insane, and thus not a suitable mother.
Do you see the insanity in her eyes? It’s there, I promise you. She is the most neurotic, crazy-butt chicken I’ve ever owned. I’d think about rehoming her if she weren’t so entertaining.
The nine meat birds are growing so large already. They are so heavy and…meaty. I’ve tried several different kinds of meat chickens, and these Freedom Rangers are the best. They are so calm and easy to keep. I keep them in a separate coop, but now that they are large enough to hold their own, I let them out to share a run with the rest of the chickens.
They are living a happy life, as they should. Even meat animals – perhaps especially meat animals – should be raised in a way that lets them live a natural, happy life. Right now, it’s hard to imagine butchering them, they are so sweet. But as they are almost all roosters, about the time they reach butchering age, they also start acting out and getting bratty. It makes it so much easier!
Before all this virus lockdown stuff happened, I managed to complete most of my must-do spring building list. One thing was raising the quail cages off the ground.
When they were on the ground, I’d have rats burrowing underneath, trying to get at the quail’s food. This was not a situation I liked. So I raised them up, creating raised beds filled with dirt, so the quail still have a natural place to walk, scratch, and dig. Bonus: I can now enjoy the quails themselves better, since I don’t have to sit on the ground to see them easily.
Two of these raised quail coops are in the chicken run, so I purposely raised them high enough for the chickens to be able to get underneath. Hawk protection, plus shade and rain cover! Ignore the roof on this next one: I’ve got a few roofs I need to finish, but that will have to wait until after this lockdown.
Another thing I did was install a solar lamp post in the middle of my garden, a tribute to C.S. Lewis’ Narnia. It has a flickering flame light inside, so it’s pretty dramatically realistic at night.
So that’s what I’ve been up to. Hopefully everyone reading this is nestled at home enjoying their family, and catching up on all the things they always intended to do, but never had the time. For those of you who are “essential employees”, thank you for what you’re doing. A lot of you probably thought you had fairly non-essential jobs – no one ever really appreciates a grocery store clerk or truck drivers on a daily basis, do they? At least they didn’t until now, when you guys are truly demonstrating how essential you are. I hope you’ll stay safe.
And for all of you, whoever you are, if you’re scared right now, if you wonder whether the world will ever be normal again, the truth is, it may not be. And if it does manage to regain some semblance of normality, it won’t last. It can’t. But that doesn’t have to scare you. You can have complete peace, and complete security, no matter what happens next. I do.
“Short Answers to 8 of The Most Important Questions Regarding The Will of God, Salvation, The Gospel, Eternal Security & Repentance.” By Gregg Jackson
1. What is the will of God? To believe on The Eternally Existing Son of God, God The Son, Jesus Christ! “And this is the Father’s will which hath sent Me, that of all which He hath given Me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day. And this is the will of Him that sent Me, that every one which seeth The Son, and believeth on Him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day.” (John 6:39-40)
2. What are the works of God? To believe on the one whom God the Father sent, His Son, Jesus Christ! “Then said they unto Him, ‘What shall we do, that we might work the works of God?’ Jesus answered and said unto them, ‘This is the work of God, that ye believe on Him whom He hath sent.’” (John 6:28-29)
3. What must I do to be saved? Believe on The Lord Jesus Christ, that He died for your sins, was buried, and rose again on the 3rd day according to the scriptures. “And brought them out, and said, ‘Sirs, what must I do to be saved?’ And they said, ‘Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.’” (Acts 16:31)
4. What is The Gospel & does believing The Gospel save me? It’s The “Good News.” That Jesus died for all your sins (past, present & future), was buried (proving He was dead) & rose again on the 3rd day according to the (old testament) scriptures for your justification in the eyes of God. “Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you The Gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the scriptures.” (1st Corinthians 15:1-4)
5. Are works required for salvation? No. We are NOT saved by works or kept saved by works. We are saved FOR works. “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:10) “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9) “But to him that worketh not, but believeth on Him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.” (Romans 4:5)
6. Can I lose my salvation? No. Once a person genuinely believes the Gospel they are sealed by The Holy Spirit in Christ the instant they believe forever and can never perish! “In whom ye also trusted (referring to Jesus), after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.” (Ephesians 1:13-14) “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of My hand. My Father, which gave them Me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of My Father’s hand. I and my Father are one.” (John 10:27-30)
7. Do I need to endure till the end to be saved? In Matthew 24 :13 Jesus tells the disciples, “he who endures till the end, will be saved.” When read in proper context, it is clear Jesus is speaking about Jews during the tribulation (which occurs after The Church is raptured). Jesus is telling them that those Jewish believers during the Tribulation who “endure” till “the end” of the Tribulation will be saved. The word “saved” in proper context in this passage signifies being saved from danger during the Tribulation, not saved from hell.
8. Do I need to repent for my sins to be saved or to stay saved? No! Neither Jesus, nor any of His apostle’s or disciples ever told anybody they needed to “repent of their sins” or “stop sinning” to be saved. Sin is transgression of the law. Repenting of sin is following the law. Salvation is by God’s grace alone through faith alone in Jesus Christ alone. Not by faith in Jesus PLUS obeying the law. The only requirement for eternal salvation is believing The Gospel! AFTER a person is saved, they SHOULD repent from their sins (confessing your sins to God) not to stay saved (because you can never lose your salvation) but as their rightful service to God to stay in right relationship with Him. The ONLY requirement for salvation is trusting (BELIEVING) in the finsihed redemptive work of Jesus Christ on The Cross ALONE for the remission of all your sins and eternal life. “For God so loved the world, He gave His only begotten Son that whoesoever would BELIEVE in Him would not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)
I’m so excited about the end of the world (as we know it). When I hear about the ramping up of the prophetic signs: earthquakes, pestilences, war, and stock market plunges, I start getting butterflies in my stomach. Don’t misunderstand me. The last thing I want is for people to suffer. But here’s the thing: if you could choose between two of the options listed below, which would you want?
1: The world to continue as it is, gradually growing more and more violent, with more and more natural disasters happening, and more people suffering all the time. Children being abused, babies being murdered, animals being tortured, and famine and war increasing. All of this happening, without end, forever.
2: An event happens, and there is a few short years of horrible suffering on earth, but then…ALL of the evil and death and suffering absolutely cease. No more. Forever. Not a single person or animal suffers or dies ever again, but there is finally a world filled only with peace and love and joy.
Number two, you say? Yes, me too. THAT is what I want. The other day, I searched google images for “bunny with long ears”. One of the first results was a photograph accompanying an article about thugs who burnt off a rabbit’s ears. I am so violently tired of stories like these. This world is becoming worse and worse, and that’s not going to change, until something HUGE happens to change it.
That something is about to happen. The Bible says that time will like the days of Lot and Noah: Luke 17:27-29. People were eating and drinking, marrying and being given in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark. Then the flood came and destroyed them all. It was the same in the days of Lot: People were eating and drinking, buying and selling, planting and building. But on the day Lot left Sodom, fire and sulfur rained down from heaven and destroyed them all.
In other words, people still be living their normal lives, not realizing that everything is about to change, and destruction is about to come onto them. We’re teetering on that time right now. People are still living their lives (though a bit worried about the lack of bleach and toilet paper in Costco). They are hardly noticing the amount of earthquakes striking the globe (although the seismologists certainly are; privately they have said they have no idea what’s happening, but they are extremely concerned). They are hardly noticing the amount of fireballs suddenly falling from heaven, or the rivers turning blood red, or the plagues of locusts and frogs, or the increasing size of the hailstones. They might read a headline about the stock market dropping more than it ever has–but did they realize the only reason it didn’t completely collapse is because the market hit the emergency button and closed before it could?
This world is teetering on the edge of normalcy. Any second, it’s going to tip over. And before that happens–or at the moment it happens–millions of people are going to be taken off this earth to escape the years of wrath to come. Not all the “Christians” by a long shot. So many religious “Christian” people are going to be left behind. Sitting in church every Sunday doesn’t save you. Being baptized in water doesn’t save you. Belonging to a certain church, or having religious parents doesn’t save you. Going up to the altar and having a religious experience doesn’t save you. Being religious in any way doesn’t save you.
True Christianity–the kind that does save–isn’t a religion at all. It’s a relationship, and that’s the other reason all these looming disasters make me feel such anticipation and joy. He’s coming. My best friend, my adoptive father, my king, and my savior, is coming back to take me home. That is what saves: a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. We are not all “God’s children”. Only those who are adopted into his family become his children, and that happens solely by believing the word of God. Believing that God came down to earth because he loves you. Because he wants you with him, forever, sharing in his joy. Believing that God died for you, to pay the penalty for your sins, so you wouldn’t have to. Believing that God rose out of the grave to eternal life, so he could give that eternal life to you as well. And once you choose to believe, he gives you his Spirit, sealed inside you, to guide you, and comfort you, to teach you how to live and to give you joy even when the terrible things of this earth happen. Once he gives you this life, it is yours, forever. You have been “born again”, not of flesh, but of Spirit.
Some people say that you can lose this gift of salvation by sinning. They say, if you do something too bad–if you commit adultery, for instance, God takes back his gift. This is a lie. A gift, once given, is not taken back by the giver. A baby who has been born, cannot be “unborn”. Once saved, always saved. By God’s grace alone, through faith alone. Everything that had to be done to save you, and to keep you saved, happened 2,000 years ago, on the cross of Calvary. Past sin, present sin, future sin, all 100% forgiven, and all debts paid. You do nothing to earn that salvation but believe, and ask for it.
King David was one of the most righteous men of the Old Testament, called ‘a man after the Lord’s own heart’. Yet this man committed repeated adultery, and afterward murder, to cover the adultery up. Yet there was never a hint that he lost his salvation. God convicted him of his sin, yes, and there were earthly consequences, but no loss of eternal salvation.
Christ said that our thoughts are the same as physical sin. A person who has a lustful thought for another person has committed adultery with that person. Someone who is angry with another person has murdered that person. People who say you can lose your salvation are seriously underestimating their own sin. They judge themselves against someone else, and think: Well, I’m not doing that, so I’m a good enough person. But the Bible says that someone who breaks even one tiny law is guilty of breaking every law. Sin is sin, in God’s eyes. There is no lesser sin, no good person, not even a ‘pretty good person’. The only way we can be saved, and stay saved, is through Christ’s death on the cross. His perfection, his blood, his righteousness. And then no matter what sins we have done, or will do, when God looks at us, all he sees is Christ’s pure sinlessness. God sees us as perfect.
Does this mean, as some accuse us, that we believe we have a ‘license to sin’ and we can do whatever we want? No. Absolutely not. When we look at Christ and truly understand what horrible sinful creatures we are, and how much love and grace he has for us, the last thing in the world we want to do is keep sinning. We strive to be as much like Christ as we can, knowing that we will fail completely. Knowing that we will continue sinning until the day we die or are taken in the rapture. But also knowing that Christ’s righteousness covers us, and our sins do not count against us, because in God’s eyes, all sins are done by the flesh, by the ‘old man’, and we are now made new spiritually, awaiting the day when we will be made new physically.
I asked God about this. I asked why he couldn’t just take away the desire to do sinful things now. I prayed this question to him before I fell asleep, and I prayed that question all night through my dreams. When I woke up, my brain was hit with an almost physical blow of bible verses, one right after the other, all the verses that applied to this question. The predominate one being Mark 2:21-22 No one sews a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment. If he does, the new piece will pull away from the old, and a worse tear will result. And no one pours new wine into old wineskins. If he does, the wine will burst the skins, and both the wine and the wineskins will be ruined. Instead, new wine is poured into new wineskins.
The answer was clear: I am currently an old wineskin. This flesh could not hold any kind of spiritual perfection. And just to be sure I understood the context, he commanded (in one of only three times he has spoken to me in an audible voice) “Look up!” Which of course I recognized as coming from Luke 21:28: And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh.
Once we are his children, we are forever his children. He will not cast us away or reject us. And we in turn strive to be like him, not out of fear of losing our salvation, but out of pure love and gratitude. Knowing we have eternal security doesn’t make us want to run out and start sinning–it has the exact opposite effect. The more we understand how secure we are, the more we understand how complete his grace is, the more we want to be like him.
This past month has been insanely busy. We’ve had a few gorgeous Spring days, and some less-than-completely-gorgeous Spring days, but I’ve been outside working in all of them. All day, every moment I have! This is my favorite time of year. I’ve discovered that I don’t even mind working in the rain, as long as I’m wearing a hat. I’ve been too busy to even blog, so I’ll slowly have to catch you up on everything that’s been going on. Believe it or not, the loooong post to follow is just a small sampling!
First of all: new chicks!
I have Freedom Ranger meat birds. These guys are the best. So calm, so quiet, so completely chill. We did a test run of four last year, and absolutely loved them. They were awesome to raise, and tasted the best of any chicken we’ve had.
Second: We rat-proofed the chicken coop. Guys. We had such a rat problem this past winter! They were burrowing into the chicken coop, and stealing all the food. I couldn’t go outside without seeing them scampering away…they were bold as squirrels. First step, we laid an apron of hardware cloth around the perimeter, inside and out. We got rid of the areas around the coop that the rats were using as cover. We set traps. And we bought a rat-proof feeder. This one.
The chickens took to it instantly with no learning curve (even the dumb ones!), and the rats almost instantly stopped coming around. I saw a rat now and then for about a week, and now I see no rats at all. Not a single one. This feeder is worth every penny.
Third: The neighbor took their tree down, and we waylaid the tree-trimming company and snagged the chips. Last year, we did not get a proper layer of chips down in the chicken yard, and we paid the price all winter. The ground was a soggy, muddy mess. I was forced to put down some straw just to make it bearable. In the below picture, Mina and Valentina are scandalized by the muddy state of their yard. Behind the hens: lovely, thick chips. In front of the hens: mud and squish.
Free wood chips have been the most amazing thing we’ve ever done for the chickens. They hate them when we first put them down – I don’t know if it’s the fresh scent, or the texture – but they hate them. Within a week, however, they are loving them, and are scratching down through, to the ground which remains diggable, soft, and full of worms.
Fourth: Moving Cocoa’s cage. My angora rabbit requires special housing to keep her fur clean. No slumming about in shavings or dirt for her! She’s bunny royalty. I had her cage inside the breezeway, but I started feeling sorry for her, because she was so isolated from all the other critters. If there’s one thing I’ve loved seeing, it’s how all the animals on my backyard farm are interested in each other. The ducks explode with joy whenever a chicken comes near their pen (every duck I’ve ever owned has been obsessed with chickens!) the quail and the chickens watch each other like television, and the chickens and the rabbits nap near each other on sunny mornings.
So I moved Cocoa out to the bunny area. Her cage is raised up off the ground, both to keep her fur clean (she has a linoleum floor) and to give the chickens another place to get out of rain. She has a hardware cloth window through to Bramble’s cage, so they can spend non-sexy time together, and of course she can watch the chickens. I still need to roof her cage. That ugly tarp has to go!
Fifth: The pigeons got new nestboxes. They are built on the outside of the cage, so I can do welfare checks on the squabs without going inside.
They like them, and it’s much easier for me to keep them clean (and handle the babies).
I had three pair in this pen, but I decided that was one pair more than I need. I found a buyer for the extra pair, but since he needs to build his cage before he can take them, I stuck Casanova and his mate in the Bunny Barn temporarily. With the rabbits.
People on the internet will tell you this does not work – even though they haven’t tried it themselves. They have all sorts of reasons why not: It will scare the rabbits, and they will die. The rabbits will kill the pigeons. The pigeons will blind your rabbits. The pigeons/rabbits will get sick. The rabbits will get pooped on. They will eat each other’s food and die of malnourishment. They almost had me convinced. But then I found a person who actually does it, and it works perfectly for her. And I was reminded of all the rabbits who live with chickens, and my common sense came rushing back.
The rabbits were not scared. My rabbits are not namby-pamby wussy critters locked away in solitary confinement–my rabbits live in the real world, with screaming neighbors, fireworks, and other animals. The only time they are ever stressed out is when it’s time to cut their toenails. The rabbits and the pigeons completely ignore each other. The pigeons live in the loft areas, the rabbits live on the ground. Since I feed my rabbits real grains with their hay, they are largely eating the same diet as the pigeons–and the pigeon food is up in the loft, anyway, and the rabbits eat on the floor. No one has gotten sick, or even pooped on. Most of the things that might make an animal sick are species specific, anyway. It’s not a thing I worry about. I am LOVING having these pigeons in the Bunny Barn. It may have started as a temporary thing, but I think after this particular pair of pigeons are sold, I might put a different pair in there. The potential is wide open!
Sixth: Starting seeds, and preparing the garden. It’s a bit early to direct plant outside, but I do have the greenhouse full of seeded trays, and I’ve put out a few hardy beasts, like lettuce.
And speaking of seeds, my book library has decided to start a seed library. Of course, I ended up being part of the process, and it’s been interesting. The actual seed library itself won’t be operational until Feb 2021, but we are busy figuring out stuff behind the scenes…including special events like our upcoming Seed Share and Garden Fair.
While those with seeds of their own to share are completely welcomed, our focus is on getting seeds out into the hands of people who want to garden. So there is absolutely nothing expected of anyone but show up, enjoy the live music, attend the seed-starting workshop if you want to learn how to begin planting (1pm), let your kids make some garden-related crafts, and of course take home free seeds! The entire event is from 1-4pm.
Seventh: Cleaning up. How does so much junk accumulate over one winter?
And lastly, because if I go too long without mentioning Ellie on the blog, someone always gets concerned and asks if she’s ok, here’s Ellie.
She’s not amused by the new chicks, doesn’t think the new chips smell nice at all, isn’t sure why I want so many rabbits, and thinks I waste entirely too much time building cages and nestboxes for other animals, when I could be sitting in the sun with her on my lap. Or bringing her mealworms. Or doing something that she wants. Because she is a cranky ten-year-old lady who just wishes those crazy ducks would get off her lawn.
As some of you know, I support my chickens by working at my local library. This month is going to be particularly cool, because we are hosting one of our local artists, Karen Bakke. Every Saturday in February, she will be live at the library, painting! This past Saturday was her first, and it was so much fun to watch.
She’s super sweet, and so kind. I followed her on Instagram, and she saw pictures of my costumes and says she would like to paint me! How cool would that be?
She also has a display of her art hanging at the library all month, and I am in love with almost all of them. I couldn’t find pictures of my favorites on her social media, so you’ll have to come down to the library and see them in person.
She also does custom art, like this splendid corgi portrait:
Ya’ll know I am partial to corgis! Her art is also very reasonably priced, something I do appreciate as a person who is supporting many hungry chickens. I actually bought one of her paintings, this wonderful bluebird:
I can’t wait to see what she paints this Saturday!
Besides a new favorite artist, I’ve also discovered miniature room kits. They come with everything you need (including tweezers, paint, and glue) to recreate a miniature room – they even have a light! I bought one for my birthday gift to myself…no surprise, I chose the library/bookstore.
They come in a box with literally thousands of pieces, and everything is really amazing quality. I wasn’t expecting everything to be so nice – not for $24! I would have guessed this kit would cost more like $50+. Some of the books open, with illustrated pages you can flip through. You even put together and upholster the red chair! It was so much fun to do. The only changes I made were to change out the flooring to “wood”, paint the walls yellow, and add the mini cats. Because how can you have books without cats? I’ve put it on my bookshelf, where it seems to fit.
If you want to watch a video of someone building one of these:
I totally want to do another one, but it will probably have to wait until after Spring. They have the cutest little tea shop I have my eye on….
In between the monsoon of rain we’ve been having, I’ve also made it out into the garden a few days to begin the year’s Spring projects. Every since they tore down a nearby abandoned house, we’ve had a rat problem, and since the protective wire on the bottom of many of my animal’s housing is nearly ten years old, it’s starting to give way. And I will not feed and house rats. No way. Even though I love pet rats and every time I catch one in the live trap I think “You are so cute!”….right before I kill it.
The Muscovy drake, at least, appears to be doing one of the jobs I got him for. When he was young, I used to find rats scurrying out of his coop in the early evening before I locked the ducks up. I haven’t seen a single rat around the duck coop lately. And a few days ago, when the ducks were over by the chicken coop, I heard a squeaking, and looked over to see the drake had grabbed a small rat and was vigorously attempting to destroy it. Good on him!
So to force the rats to move on to somewhere else, we just redid the protective wire on the chicken coop, and got them a new rat-proof feeder. I just put the feeder up yesterday, so it’s too soon to tell, but so far the chickens seem to be learning how to use it, and it seems quality and like it will do its job. I also replaced the wire on the pigeon coop, and while I was at it, built them new nestboxes. I’ll do a separate post on that later. Next up, I’ll be remodeling the quail coops, and Cocoa the angora rabbit’s hutch. And fixing up a couple of the unused coops to prepare for the new ducks and chickens coming this spring (meat birds).
And then. And then, guys…I’ll finally be able to build a BRAND NEW coop, for a BRAND NEW critter coming to the urban farm. No, not the goose. She is coming, but she’ll live with the chickens as their guard. No, I’m going to mail order some fancy doves! I had doves eons ago, and I miss them. They have such wonderful sounds, from the gentle coo, to the manic laugh! I’m still debating, but I think I’m going to get the tangerine color.
Really wish this rain would let up a little…I’ve got so much to do before planting season begins!
I don’t believe I mentioned it here, but I lost my Rex buck, Sorrel, this winter. I’m not sure what happened; his illness didn’t seem to match up symptom-wise with anything I could find. It doesn’t appear to have been contagious, thankfully, because the does share a wire wall with him, and they are both thriving. But it left me in want of a new male. I had pretty much decided on getting a breed other than Rex this time, and was keeping my eye out for a breeder of something interesting in my area that would have kits for sale in Spring.
And then, surprise, surprise, I stumbled onto this little fellow.
Meet Bramble. He’s still a little freaked out by his sudden change of residence, but he’s sweet-tempered and pretty. He’s also a New Zealand/Cinnamon hybrid, which seems about perfect for me. Hopefully I’ll get some gorgeous babies from him.
And in other news, I decided to go ahead and get a Guard Goose for my chicken flock. The idea is, you get one (and one ONLY) female gosling, and raise it with your chickens, so it bonds to them and wants to protect them. Geese are terrific protection against aerial predators like hawks.
I have a female tufted roman gosling on order with mypetchicken.com, and since they need to ship at least three waterfowl together, I also ordered three male pekin ducks. I’ll raise those for meat.
I’m hoping one of my chickens will be broody at just the right time (I have four cochins, so the odds are in my favor) and I’ll be able to have her raise the goose. I really can’t wait to see a chicken raise a gosling! How adorable will that be????
I chose a roman tufted because they are quite small for geese, quieter than average, and have an interesting history to them. As one of the oldest varieties of geese in the world, they were around during the time of the Romans. Hence the name. In 365 BC, as the Gauls attempted to steal into Rome under cover of night, it was the honk of a Roman goose that awoke Marcus Manlius and saved the capitol. As I adore both geese AND ancient Roman history, I’m quite excited about this addition to the farm!
So some of you know that I work as a librarian to earn money for all the things I love to do. And while I have largely always loved my job, there have been times when I haven’t, largely due to People-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named. Those people are no longer at the library, and I currently have a fantastic boss whose work goal in life is to make the library a good place for her employees. One of the awesome things she’s done (besides finally getting me that promotion and raise I’ve been way overdue for!) is figure out what each of us likes to do, and then give us more opportunities to do that thing.
For me, that thing is doing more public programs. Despite being an introvert I truly enjoy public speaking, when it’s on a topic I’m passionate about. In the past, I’ve done a program here and there, but this past year I’ve done five, with more planned for the future. Two were on gardening and raising animals in a sustainable and natural manner.
At the last program, I brought a couple of quail and a chicken with me. Maisie was a huge hit with the attendees! (Photo taken right before she pooped on the carpet – despite wearing a chicken diaper. Sigh. The library carpet’s seen much worst things….)
The newest type of programing I’ve been helping with has been events where we’ve served a tasting menu of teas and scones, did a craft, and had a historical presentation put on by me. The first one was for the release of the Downton Abbey film, and I was told I should take my presentation on the road! There are just so many interesting/humorous things to say about historical fashion.
Recently, we did a Little Women themed Christmas event, where I wore my 1850s beetlewing embroidered gown – still don’t have the pictures from that one. And next, we’re putting on one themed for Outlander. Needless to say, I’m currently working on the 18th century outfit I’ve always wanted to make.
Life is good, and I have so many things I’m looking forward to right now.
But no matter how good it is, the thing I’m looking forward to most right now, is the absolutely certain knowledge that I may not be staying here on earth long enough to do any of those things. If you’ve been reading this blog, you know I’ve been warning you that this world is on the cusp of changing forever, and I have to keep warning you. Time is running out. Biblical prophecy is being fulfilled at breakneck speed; everything the Bible said would happen right before the end is happening, right now.
One of the most significant things happening right now is the political turmoil in Israel. The Bible says that at the time of the end, Israel’s leaders will “perish out of the land” and there will be no government. For the first time in Israel’s history, they have lost their government. They are in the process of trying to hold their third election in a year, and every attempt at electing and setting up a government is failing. This attempt will fail too, I believe. The Jews know something big is coming. The rabbis are being outspoken in predicting the very soon coming of the Messiah.
They’re right. He is coming. The sad thing is, they will miss him again, because they are still waiting for the wrong person. Israel is going to be attacked for their wealth, and the people who don’t follow the biblical mandate to flee immediately when they see the city surrounded, are going to be killed and enslaved. The Holocaust was a shadow fulfillment of the prophecy that is going to be fulfilled in its entirely soon. In the 1940s, two-thirds of all European Jews were murdered. In the coming Holocaust, two-thirds of ALL Jews world-wide will be killed. We already see the open and growing anti-Semitism toward them. They are afraid to live in many European cities, like Paris, where they are attacked for walking down a street. It breaks my heart, what’s going to happen. But until they turn to the true Messiah, and understand who he is, these things have to happen. Every nation on earth will turn against them. You see it most clearly in the United Nations. It’s shameful.
China is one of the most evil countries on earth, they murder and imprison millions of their own citizens, yet they have no UN resolutions against them. Israel, that unique country of personal freedom and life-changing innovations, who offers free medical aid and information such as how to turn salt water into fresh to their sworn enemies, is constantly having resolutions taken out against them. I love Israel. I can’t wait for the day these horrors are finished with, and God’s eternal peace begins.
Hosea 2:18 On that day I will make a covenant for them with the beasts of the field and the birds of the air and the creatures that crawl on the ground. And I will abolish bow and sword and weapons of war in the land, and will make them lie down in safety.
But sadly, until they go through the horror, they will refuse to understand the truth. Just like the rest of the world does. The bible says they will be eating and drinking, buying and selling, marrying, and will have no idea what is coming up until the moment – the second – when everything changes. There’s the going to be a series of natural disasters first. Earthquakes so large they create tsunamis, and also cause volcanoes to erupt across the world. I think it’s the ash from these volcanoes that is going to darken the sun and turn the moon red.
12 When he opened the sixth seal, I looked, and behold, there was a great earthquake, and the sun became black as sackcloth, the full moon became like blood, 13 and the stars of the sky fell to the earth as the fig tree sheds its winter fruit when shaken by a gale. 14 The sky vanished like a scroll that is being rolled up, and every mountain and island was removed from its place. 15 Then the kings of the earth and the great ones and the generals and the rich and the powerful, and everyone, slave and free, hid themselves in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains, 16 calling to the mountains and rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who is seated on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb, 17 for the great day of their wrath has come, and who can stand?”
But before that happens – or more likely at the same instant – the people who genuinely believe in Christ, and chose to accept his offer of salvation – will be taken off the earth and saved from everything that is coming. This is such an imminent event that I look up at the sky every morning and wonder if today is the day.
9 After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, 10 and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” 11 And all the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, 12 saying, “Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever! Amen.”
The saddest part is that no one has to go through the hell on earth that’s coming. God wants to save you, but he will not override your own free will to chose him. More than half of the bible is prophecy, some of which was already fulfilled down to the smallest detail, but the larger percentage is still to be fulfilled. God says he gave us prophecy, so that when we see it happen, we will believe. It’s happening now. Cell phones, mingling human DNA with animals, globalism, specific alliances between nations, specific wars, signs in the constellations…all of was predicted thousands of years ago.
The only thing I’m surprised by is that we’ve made it through another year. But this year, wow. It’s been huge, prophetically speaking. So many things have happened, so many more pieces have fallen seamlessly into place. I see them happen, and as the bible commands me to do, I raise the alarm to warn everyone I can.
He’s real, and he’s coming. And because he is my savior, and my best friend, I can’t wait to see him face-to-face. Nothing on earth could be better than that.
If you’ve never heard of it before, NaNoWriMo, is short for National Novel Writing Month, also known at November. Also known as the month writers attempt to make themselves even more crazy than they already were, by attempting to write 50,000 words in 30 days.
I knew this thing existed. I just never wanted to do it.
Like, seriously. Never wanted to. At all.
But it turned out that one of my friends has done it for years, and she started talking about it, and I was all “I’ll encourage YOU, but I’m not doing it”, and she said, “You should at least sign up on the website so you can be my buddy,” and that is where I made the critical mistake of saying “Yes, I’ll do that, at least.” Because I really like this friend. She has critiqued my longest novel AND helped me butcher and pluck two roosters when she’s never done anything like that before in her life. If that isn’t the mark of a good friend I don’t know what is.
So because of her, I went on the website, and somehow I got caught up in it. Next thing I know I’m dropping the novel I was about 15,000 words from finishing, and over the course of one sleepless night deciding that I would instead write the sequel to a completely different novel instead…one that I hadn’t had even the lick of an idea for, or a plot, or characters. I warned you this NaNo thing makes you crazy.
So here I am, at the end of November, and I have written 50,000 words in 30 days. Actually, in 25 days, because I got completely obsessed with doing this thing. Like I do with almost everything in my life.
Am I glad I did it, and grateful to Reina for asking me (so innocently!) to be her buddy on NaNoWriMo?
Yes. Yes I am.
Will I ever do it again? I doubt it. I learned a long while back that ‘feeling inspired to write’ is meaningless. If you want to write, train your brain to create inspiration on demand by sitting down and writing. 9 times out of 8.9, after you sit for awhile, inspiration will come. And it will come easier and faster, the more you do it. So I already knew the primary thing NaNoWriMo teaches…but I didn’t know that I could push myself this hard and or write these many words, every day. That was valuable. That is the reason I would recommend every writer attempt this at least once.
But by the end of the month, I was a little turned off by the attitude of so many of the people who were doing NaNo. So many of them were…well, they were honestly cheaters. So many were posting on facebook, talking about how they were including all the words they wrote for their grant-writing job as part of their daily word count. Others were writing pages filled with nonsense children’s rhymes, or purposely writing each sentence in the most long-winded and convoluted way possible. Or upping their word count by never using any contractions, ever.
No. This is wrong, and quite honestly, it makes me a little angry. It’s no wonder NaNo novels are so notoriously terrible that many publishers and agents won’t look at any submissions at all right after NaNo. First drafts aren’t going to be perfect, and they can be quite bad, but I can’t even imagine trying to wrestle a novel into shape when you’re spent the whole month trying to make it as terrible as possible…just to get more words in. All I did differently for my NaNo novel was to write more words every day, and write every day. And I didn’t go back and fix plot points that changed as I wrote, or spend any time whatsoever researching online or fussing over names. If I didn’t know a thing, I just made a note and left it for later. And while I’m no where near writing the end of this particular novel (it will probably be around 75-90 thousand words, all told), this first draft no worse than a first draft I took months to write. And that should be the real lesson of NaNoWriMo: that you can write a book, and you don’t have to wait for inspiration, and you can write even when you’re tired, or not in the mood, or just really want to watch the third season of The Crown on Neflix instead. And you don’t have to cheat. Look, I get that many people’s lives are way more complicated than mine. I’m healthy, I don’t have kids, I’m not married, and I have a day job that doesn’t demand much from me. But NaNoWriMo doesn’t have to be 50,000 words, or you fail. It can be writing for however long (or short) a time you have, every day. Just to prove to yourself that inspiration, while delightful to experience, is a hoax, and if you want to, YOU CAN WRITE. You can do this.
I taught a short class the other day about writing and brain-training, and afterwards had a lovely conversation with a middle-aged woman who had always wanted to write, but never had, because she was too intimidated. After our conversation, I told her to go home and write. Two days later, she came back to tell me that she had started writing, and it was exactly how I said it would be: her characters were coming alive for her, and she was having so much fun. She was glowing with happiness. I’m so glad I did that class, and I’m so glad she came.
I’ll leave you with one of my favorite bits from my NaNo novel, a fragment of conversation that sent a shiver through me when I wrote it:
His words went through my heart like one of his knives, and the blood that came out was poisoned and dark. “I should be the Queen, shouldn’t I? Not my mother. Not Anissa. Me. In spite of my eyes.” “Because of your eyes,” he said. He leaned in, speaking directly into my ear, a low whisper of words. “I swear to you, by every cut I have ever made, that you are the Queen of Minos. You will sit on that throne. Whatever I have to do.” And I believed him.
Since we don’t do Thanksgiving with the extended family anymore, I take the opportunity to make the day a fun cooking/baking experiment. This year, I REALLY broke from tradition.
Meet our “turkey”.
He’s a rockfish, and I’ve never in my life bought a whole fish before, much less cooked one! But I’d been reading about salt crust baking, and really wanted to give it a try. The recipe said I wanted the head and tail and scales left on, but to ask the butcher to removed the fins and gills. I don’t know if I got a new guy, or what, but despite the sign next to the whole fish stating they would prepare the fish however I wanted, he didn’t seem to have a clue how to remove the fins, or even what ‘gills’ were. I had to discuss the fin situation with him, and he while he was trimming them off, he discovered the fish hadn’t even been gutted yet. So he did that. And then, when I got home, I discovered the fish still had its gills…I guess my impression was right…he hadn’t even known what those were! I ended up being kind of glad he hadn’t removed them though, because fish gills are pretty weird and interesting, and I was fascinated by the chance to see them up close and personal.
But to salt crust bake a fish, first you prepare about 3 pounds of coarse kosher salt by mixing it with egg whites and water to the consistency of wet sand. This was fun, btw.
Then you put a layer on the bottom of the pan, and place the fish on top, with its belly stuffed with sliced lemon and herbs.
Then you cover over the rest of the fish with salt, packing it down tightly, but leaving the head and tail exposed.
The reason you leave the head exposed, is because you can tell when it’s done by looking at the eye. See how clear and translucent it is? When the fish is cooked, the eye will be cloudy and white. See below. (To double check, you can insert a meat thermometer, and check for a temperature of 140 degrees.)
The salt becomes VERY hard, and you have to break it open with some fairly serious blunt force. And the meat inside is…wonderful. Flaky and super moist, and flavored with lemon and herbs. So good! And easy to de-bone, because after you slide the top layer off the bones, you just grab the tail and lift…and voila! the skeleton comes out in one piece! I’m definitely doing this method of cooking a fish again. So easy, and it was so luscious!
I also tried a new cake recipe, and it turned out to be the best cake I’ve ever eaten. First, because I like making pretty cakes, I decorated it for the holidays:
And inside….a cranberry cake! Now I normally am not that into cake, because cake is too often light and fluffy. Light and fluffy = bland and boring, in my book. When I like cake, I like a cake that’s dense and moist and punched with flavor. And this was that cake.
My mother also thought it was her favorite cake. And she didn’t want me to make this one, because she didn’t think cranberries in a cake sounded good. Also, because I’m not a fan of icing (I generally scrape icing off cake before I eat it) I googled “icing for people who hate icing” and came up with a suggestion for cream cheese icing.
What we find nearly impossible to believe is that the God who created the universe has spoken these wonderful words personally and intimately to each of us. And he has done it in a way that no one else could: by entering into humanity and dying for our sins upon the cross. He has thus so fully proved his love that there is no excuse for our ever doubting it.
It is this unparalleled manifestation of God’s love that makes Christianity what it is….the relationship that each Christian is intended to enjoy with Christ himself – an intimate personal relationship that is not only unmatched by any other faith but is absolutely essential if someone is to be a Christian.
In contrast, for a Buddhist to have a personal relationship with Buddha is neither possible nor necessary. Nor is the practice of Islam impaired because Muhammad is in the grave. It is no hindrance at all to any of the world’s historic religions that their founders are dead and gone. Not so with Christianity. If Jesus Christ were not alive today, there would be no Christian faith because he is all that it offers. Christianity is not a mass religion but a personal relationship.
At the heart of this relationship is a fact so astonishing that most Christians, including those who have known the Lord for many years, seldom live in its full enjoyment. it isn’t that we don’t believe it intellectually but that we find it too wonderful to accept its implications into our moment-by-moment experience of daily life.
We are like a homely, small-town girl from a very poor familywho is being wooed by the most handsome, wealthiest, most powerful, most intelligent, and in every way the most desirable man who ever lived. She enjoys the things he gives her, but is not able to fully give herself to him and really get to know him because she finds it too much to believe that he, with all the far more attractive women in the world, really loves her. And to leave the familiar surroundings of her childhood – the friends and family that have been all she has known and loves – to go with this one who seems to love her so much, and to become a part of another world seems so foreign and even inconceivable to her is all too overwhelming.
Like the small-town girl, each of us finds it very difficult to believe that Jesus really loves us. Although we appreciate his blessings, we find it difficult to become intimate with our heavenly Suitor, because it seems too inappropriate that the Lord of the universe should be wooing us. That he loves everyone and that we are included in that great love is too marvelous.
Knowing that he loves us not because of anything in us but because he is love tells us something else that is very important: God loves all mankind with the same love. There is no special reason why he should love one of us more than another. He is no respecter of persons; there is no favoritism with God. And here we see another reason for rejecting the view that God does not love all mankind enough to want everyone to be in heaven. There is no basis in man (all have sinned and the hearts of all are the same) for God to love some and not others – but neither is there any basis in God for his loving one but not another. Thus we are told that he “so loved the world” that he sent his Son into into world “that the world through him might be saved.” There is no greater love anywhere!
Believe in the finished redemtive work of Jesus Christ on the cross alone for the remission of all your sins (past, present and future) and eternal life!
Call on the name of the Lord. (“All who call on the name of the Lord will be saved.” Romans 10:13)
“I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father but through me.” (John 14:6)
“When you declare with your mouth Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart God raised Him from the dead you will be saved. For with the heart man believes and is justified and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” ( Romans 10:9-10)
“For it is by grace you are saved through faith. It is not your own doing. It is the FREE gift of God. Not by works lest any man boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9)