A Life Lived in Grace

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Winding Down
This beginning of a New Year is like a bend in a winding mountain road. It fades in my rearview as we move farther and farther from its starting point. I’ve been reflecting lately on all that can be accomplished on a small suburban homestead such as ours and feeling rather – well – contented and secure.

On just a third of an acre we are able to raise lambs and chickens to put meat in our freezer and eggs for breakfast and baking. An extra lamb we butchered is being parceled out to friends and neighbors who don’t want a whole or half lamb. And, at $9 to $15 per pound for organic lamb, I think this may turn out to be a very good thing.

The broilers we raised from day old chicks were butchered last week. Our original plan was to butcher before Christmas, but the bad weather and family obligations forced us to push back a few weeks. With the extra time on feed most of the birds were in the 7 to 8 pound range, with a few pushing over 9 pounds. At those weights the birds are too big for a family of two, so most were cut in half and a few quartered, giving us enough chicken for about 30 weeks, assuming we eat chicken once a week. Not bad, folks! Not bad at all!

The hens are laying 5 to 7 eggs a day now, not quite at full stride yet, but, that’s 3-1/2 dozen a week, enough to keep us in omelets with a few dozen left over to sell to cover feed costs.

Our berries and fruit trees are coming into their own and give us plenty of fresh seasonal fruit for eating and a little extra for freezing or canning or cooking; the garden gives us plenty of greens and root vegetables; tomatoes and cucumbers; squash and pumpkins, even with the occasional crop failure.

Thanks to some great sales in November and December our pantry is brimming with staple goods. And, the added savings from coupons meant most were “free” or nearly “free”. It’s so nice to be able to just walk over, open a cupboard and pull out what you need for an evening meal. No treks to the store after dark. No drives during inclement weather.

We picked up another load of firewood from the grandparents’ place, our second of the winter. With the colder temperatures we are burning more wood than in years past and it’s a blessing to have such a ready source. Loading split wood on a cool afternoon makes for a robust workout. I love it.

I think these reflections were brought on by a morning news story on the inflationary period coming our way.

The skyrocketing cost of goods and the diminishing value of a paper dollar brought back hard memories of the pre-dawn Saturday mornings my sister and I spent sitting in gas lines so we could have a full tank for the coming week; I flashed back to the clothes and equipment and toys and trips my family couldn’t afford because the prices were so high.

But, rather than make me sad, the news cast made me contemplate how far we’ve come, how self-sufficient we are becoming and where we are in relation to what’s on the horizon. Oh, we’re not perfect, folks and our life is far from ideal despite all that is written here. We are human after all, full of mistakes and haunted by regrets, disappointment and heartbreak, sadness and anxiety.

But, who wants to dwell on that? We choose to live in the positive, not focus on that. We choose to be grateful…for what we have…for what we can do ourselves, and for how we can help and encourage others. It’s a good feeling. A warm feeling. The best feeling in the world. It’s what makes us value I miss you so much more than I love you. Gratitude is deep and strong and stays with us forever. Like the soil from which all else grows, gratitude is what makes us grow inside, to become contented and happy.

Without it, all the things we dream of, pray for: security, love, gardens, coops, critters: are just temporary rushes of adrenaline. We must first see the world through eyes smeared with the sweat of hard work and with soil ground deep into our skin; the simplest things will make you drop to your knees, driven by grace. Sometimes when you least expect it.

Life is messy, folks. So is farming. I think the combination is the world’s most perfect fertilizer to grow a new human in. Don’t you?

Creative Commons License photo credit: Ian Sane

2 Responses to “A Life Lived in Grace”

  1. Ian Sane says:

    Very good read. You are definitely living the good life, congratulations!

    Thank you so much for including my picture with your article. I’m honored!

  2. Author says:

    You are quite welcome Ian, but I can’t take credit for finding your lovely photo. That is the work of my computer guru friend, DJ. Thanks for the compliment though.

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