50-Word Story

Standing in my favourite spot, I stand gazing, ready to capture the evening sunset. A slight turn of my head, my eyes fixate at the stunning view. A few brown cows grazing on the luscious hilltop. I forget what I came for. This view is truly worthy to be captured.

 

Our Sheep

End of April we bought our first sheep: three pregnant ewes.

What do we know about pregnant ewes? How will we recognise that they are ready to give birth? Will it come as a total surprise? So many questions to which I had no answers.

Here we are on a journey filled with unknowns to us. For a seasoned farmer, rearing sheep has little or no mysteries.

I must educate myself. My first step is to ask our neighbour. That was a good step. Now I know that one of the visible signs is the formation of the udder.

Imagine the following scenario: I’m observing the ewes twice a day to see if I can see the udder forming! I think it is a bit comical! My action is not going to change the course of nature and bring the birth of these lambs.

Last week we noticed slight changes in the udder of two of our ewes. Now I am excited, so I took the time to read various blogs. Thanks to bloggers like Red Hope Farm I now know there are other signs to look for.

I am still awaiting impatiently the births of our lambs. My curiosity leads me to check them for more signs. I force myself to see signs that are barely there. At the beginning of the week, I was convinced one would give birth this week. It was wishful thinking.

My husband had another conversation with the neighbour. He believes we still have a few weeks before anything happens. My excitement has dwindled. It’s been two days since I last checked them. I will wait until the visible signs are showing clearly.

I guess the birth of our lambs will make a good subject for another blog.

A Beautiful Garden – A Beautiful Mind

It’s amazing how easily our thoughts wander away, as if they had a will of their own. I would compare them to the weeds in my garden.

Weeds don’t wait for an invitation to invade a garden, they just do. It takes efforts to remove them, either by physically pulling them out or using weed killer.

A beautiful garden needs careful planning, work, effort and continuous maintenance on the part of the gardener. Seeds must be chosen with care.

I am a novice when it comes to gardening. However, it has become clear that there are many similarities between nature and how to live our life. No wonder Jesus spoke in parables; stories using examples from nature to convey a spiritual truth or lifestyle lesson.

Believe it or not, it takes constant planning, time and effort on our part to cultivate a beautiful mind. The Bible gives us an insight to what type of thought to plant. In Philippians 4:8 we are encouraged to meditate on: things that are true, noble, just, pure, lovely, of good report, anything that has any virtue and that is praiseworthy.

Today I will make every effort to “ Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable” in God’s sight. Psalms 19:14

Beholding the Beauty of God

Sitting down in my favourite spot of our homestead, I can relax, meditate, enjoy what we have in a deeper way. 

Today, let me take you on a journey involving what I see, hear, feel from my mountaintop.

What can I hear:

  • Birds chirping
  • Ducks quacking
  • Soft whisper of the wind blowing
  • Insects buzzing 
  • The occasional far distant sound of a car

What can I see:

  • Luscious Green hills, filled with clusters of trees and bushes and adorned with herds of cattle 
  • The far distant horizon where land, silhouettes of mountains and sky meet
  • The occasional bird flying above my head
  • The sun veiled with a thin layer of cloud

What can I feel:

  • Warmth of the sunshine
  • The gentle caressing of the wind on my face
  • Peace
  • Tranquility 
  • Happiness 

In the Bible, there’s a verse that says the following : “For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made…(Romans 1:20) King James Version (KJV)

When contemplating the beauty of nature I agree with that verse. I behold the beauty of the Lord through His creation. My heart is overwhelmed with gratitude and thanksgiving.The beauty of nature always brings me closer to its Creator. 

Time to Reflect

Six months into this wonderful journey of homesteading. What have we achieved? We have:

⁃ Built cages, chicken pens and shelters for the animals.

⁃ Rebuilt several of the fences.

⁃ Welcomed into our farm: a cat, a dog, pregnant ewes, calves, cockatiel, two canaries and chickens galore, quails.

⁃ Set up a veggie garden.

⁃ Painted our kitchen, hallway and living area

We cannot omit the amount of time spent increasing our knowledge about homesteading, farming, gardening, etc. Thanks to the internet and the many homesteaders’ blogs, our learning curb is simplified.

Our biggest achievement, in my opinion, is taking the step into the unknown and making this new lifestyle happen. Nothing can replace the peace and serenity that we are enjoying. Sitting on our hilltop, admiring the surrounding beauty, breathing in the fresh unpolluted country air while taking the time to vocally thank God for His awesomeness, His creation, His love, His mercy and His grace towards us, is something that I deeply cherish.

In retrospective, there is nothing I would like to change. We are grateful for this opportunity given to us.

 

Meet Peanut the Burmese Cat

Peanut became part of our farm family last Christmas Eve. My daughter thought it a good idea to bring him over for our family’s Christmas celebrations. What none of us was expecting is for Peanut to take the first opportunity given to him to escape and hide.

That’s right. The moment my daughter placed him on the ground, for a moment, to see his reaction, he ran under the house. Nothing we tried could bring him in arm’s reach. There and then, he determined his destiny. He would be a farm cat.

It took him three days to come close to any human contact. It was hunger that brought him to a place of surrender. Since then, each morning starts with the same ceremony.  The meowing starts before we are fully awake. It doesn’t stop until there’s food on his plate. Don’t consider feeding him a different menu, he will turn his head, walk away and be vocal about it. 

Peanut is not the average farm cat. He spent too much of his life in the city in an apartment. Although life on a farm means freedom,  he doesn’t want to embrace a farm cat’s life. Our bantam chickens killed a mouse that was in their coop, our Jack Russell pup caught a mouse, but Peanut, confronted by one, runs the opposite direction.

He also has an evening ritual. As soon as we sit down, he will climb on my husband’s lap for a while then on my lap. If we have visitors, they too will participate in Peanut’s evening habits. No one is left out.

The Day We Lost Our Neighbour’s Herd

Success is made up of many failures along the way. I believe you need to have a great sense of humour or you could die of embarrassment in the midst of a failure. My first experiences in the face of failure would leave me with negative emotions and a sense of worthlessness.

Over time I realized that most failures are minor mistakes that are instrumental in perfecting my skills. I learned to treat my failures as friends and not as foes. In my career, I ensured I trained all to embrace their mistakes and learn from them.

To bring this to our day to day experience on the farm. Five months into this journey, we are building knowledge with Google information, Facebook pages, blogs, magazines and even acquiring knowledge from fellow farmers. We don’t want to fail.

Steers grazing in our paddock

No matter how much we learnt, nothing prepared us for the day we lost our neighbours’ Friesian steers. Last summer we weren’t ready to place cattle on our property so we used it as agistment. Our friendly neighbour, who we consider as our ”mentor” on farming matters, agreed to allow seven of his steers to roam in our field. We had one paddock closed off due to poor fencing. As the grass became scarce, we thought we may need to open the gate to that particular paddock. The neighbour came with us to inspect the fencing and gave us his opinion, which was favourable. My husband, still unsure, thought it best to buy a cheap solar battery operated electric fence energizer. Finally, we opened the gate, the steers went in as they pleased.

Daily my husband would check the energizer. To our dismay, it kept failing. A new battery was sent to us, but with no improvement.

We noticed that the animals weren’t keeping to the boundaries. They had no fear of an electric fence that didn’t work.

One day we came home to an empty paddock. No steers left. We knew the neighbour was planning to remove them imminently so we weren’t surprised. When we saw him next, we asked him about it.

Yes, he had taken them back, but we were surprised to find that he’d found them wandering the neighbourhood. Thinking they were from another farm, he began herding them towards it. A few minutes later, one of the steers turned around and came towards him and licked him. It was a strange reaction for the animal to do that unless it was one that had been bottle-fed, hand raised by him. After further inspection of the herd, he realised they were his steers. They had escaped from our property. That day five we’re found. The other two appeared a couple of days later.

How embarrassing! What an epic fail in our agistment business. A few laughs, a reprocessing of the event, and more laughs. If we can learn from our mistakes, don’t buy the cheapest thing out there. Ensure it will do a good job. In this particular instance, just fix the fence.

Lesson learned. We are ready to move on.

Lighting a Fire

The simple job of lighting a fire in a wood heater seems an easy job to the beholder, just as easy as blogging seems to one who contemplates writing. All you need is paper, kindling and a log. Set it alight with a match and voila! You’ve got a nice fire started. When it comes to blogging, you need an idea, a notepad, and let the clickety-clack of your fingers playing on the computer keyboard work its magic.

Oh, I so wish it was so easy! I’m still to master starting a fire the first time around. When it comes to blogging, I thought I had written a good article until I placed it into the grammar checker.

Maybe over time, I will master the art of both of them.

Secret to Success

Secret to success: except a grain of wheat falls into the ground and does, it cannot bring forth fruit.

Isn’t it amazing! One sunflower seed. Planted, buried. We usually bury what’s dead, except if it’s a seed. A seed is alive. It is buried alive.

This one sunflower seed produced a huge beautiful flower.

This flower, when harvested weighed 1.9 kgs.

It contained 250 grams of seeds.

I didn’t try to count how many seeds that was.

Applying this principle in our lives is a key to succeeding.

Our thoughts, emotions, anxieties, lack of self-belief, what other people think of us, stops us from letting go and achieving.

If I care too much about what others are thinking, I am focusing all my energy on not letting go. I am bound to underperform.

If I lack self-confidence, I am holding on to who I believe I am. I barely perform.

If I let go of my self-doubts and chose to follow my call, regardless of what others think, I am giving myself permission to die like that grain, so I can produce much fruit, so I can succeed.