ANZ's Farms

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Catching Up

It has been so long since I have blogged that I can't decide what to say first. So much has happened. Where to begin?! I did want to show you this butterfly that lighted in my purple coneflower yesterday. She stayed long enough for me to return with the camera. She even posed with her wings spread. She and the bees and the plants that grow in my garden, plus the breeze that blows, the rain that falls and the sun that shines daily remind me of the verse in Romans 1: "For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made ... "

• The well continues to work and I continue to grow in thankfulness for water. I just finished reading _23 Minutes in Hell_ by Bill Wiese in which he describes his eye witness account of hell. Not hell on earth ... the real hell, Hades, the hot place down under. One of the characteristics of hell he mentions that I never considered is the absolute lack of water. Not even water vapor in the air. Each breath was a searing gasp. No sweat dissipated his extreme heat. (As I am experiencing hot flashes several times each day and night, I am so thankful for the drenching sweat that helps cool my skin.) Not even a drop of water on his tongue. I highly recommend this book to you. I like that he points the reader to Scripture, encouraging the reader to believe what the Bible says about hell, even if his account seems unbelievable.

• In about two month's time, we have gone from wanting to relocate to more acreage to focusing on ways to make our urban homestead more "green". I guess it is inevitable, when you love homesteading, to want to take it to the next level and get a farm. I found one in the foothills of the NC mountains that I wanted ... 40 acres, half in fenced pasture and half wooded, a stream bordering the back property line, southern slope exposure, a couple of outbuildings already in place, a farmhouse built in the 1930's (I love my 1920 farmhouse!), and 100 mature blueberry bushes. The notion of temperatures being 10 degrees cooler on the average seems like heaven these days. But, in His infinite wisdom, the LORD has seen fit not to release us from obligations here, so we are turning our eyes and hearts back to the urban setting.

• We had the privilege of attending an open house at a solar home last night, complete with a presentation on solar energy. We are looking into ways to decrease our energy demand and initiate alternative sources of supply. Solar thermal for hot water and a couple of solar panels in the yard are probably the changes we will make. Freestanding panels have several advantages: they can track the sun to maximize energy production, they are easier to clean (which is needed at least twice a year), they don't alter the appearance of your home or cause potential damage to your roof for installation and maintenance. Wind power is not an option in the urban setting ... bummer. Our early research seems to indicate that geothermal is no more energy efficient than a 15-seer heat pump. Currently, there are tax credits for green features, 30% Federal and 35% State over 5 years. There is another tax-free weekend in November for energy star appliances, so we might take advantage of that. An "umbrella style clothes dryer" (fancy name for a square metal clothes line) will decorate our yard in the near future. Now to buy clothes pins and a bag.

• Mamma goat will be increasing the herd again within the next couple of weeks. Unbeknownst to us until about a month ago, Charly left a parting gift. Before he went to "camp", Mamma got pregnant. Bless her heart, it was within the first 2 weeks of delivering 6 kids in February. She is doing well, in spite of the heat and the incredible demand on her body that a second pregnancy this year makes. I have stopped milking her in anticipation of the glorious event. I am so excited to be having more kids. I think it will be a much smaller number this time -- two, maybe three. Another reason I wanted to move to a farm. I want to keep them.

• The garden is doing great, altho I lost two rows of beans and two rows of okra to the wild bunnies. I didn't have the heart to deny them food, but I would have preferred sharing the veges rather than them eating the seedling plants. We have a whole family of brown, cotton-tailed bunnies ... a momma, big sister and baby. They are part of the homestead, allowing us to come very close.

• Each year it seems one crop is particularly plentiful. Last year it was jalapeƱo peppers. This year, we have a plethora of cucumbers! I need to make some pickles soon. I’m excited to make my first tomato pie for dinner tonight, altho the purple onions have been a bit of a disappointment. Fresh corn on the cob, cucumbers in vinegar (surely a Southern favorite) and cantaloupe have been delightful to enjoy. I planted watermelon this year, a first for me, in the rows left vacant by the bunnies. I planted a pumpkin vine, another first, in the area where okra should have been. Those vines are doing quite well, too.

• The bees have been making honey like crazy. We have harvested three times so far this year, for a total of 18 delicious gallons. Each harvest has a different flavor, depending on what nectar was flowing. A “local honey for sale” sign in the yard has brought neighbors and strangers to our home, most of whom like to hear tales about homesteading … one of my favorite subjects. We were blessed to be the winners at the Wake Co Beekeeper Association's auction of a nice, motorized extractor. Our hives are healthy and I am thankful to the girls for their pollination skills.

There is more to share, but it’s time to get back to work.

1 comment:

  1. You have been busy! We looked at another home recently ourselves. I too feel the urge to have more land, but as with you God has seen fit to teach us to live life to it's fullest with less.

    Your honey looks wonderful! And the photo of your butterfly is perfect. I sure would like to keep a bee-hive, I'm just not so sure the elementary school near us would be very happy if they found out. We had to sell our guineas after hearing the principle complaining about how much it was costing the school to clean poop off the floors! Keeping peace is of God, but it sure was hard to let our beloved birds go.

    Thank your for sharing your photos. You do such a nice job with composition and lighting! May I ask what camera you use? I can't seem to get the results I would like out of mine, but I may need to study the book again and see if I'm missing something. Would you like to get together for an animal photo shoot? I want to dress up my goats with hats and flowers and take some pictures, but my hubby just doesn't get focused photography, :-) Somehow I think we would get some funny pictures of goats eating straw hats!