Sunday, April 3, 2016

Quote for the Day

Fishing Boats on the Beach at Saintes-Maries
by Vincent Van Gogh
"A rising tide lifts all the boats."
John F. Kennedy

One recent morning I woke thinking about this quote. I had been at a continuing education class and ended up talking to the woman sitting next to me about the refugee crisis. She shook her head and said she didn't understand people, meaning those who say ugly things about the Middle Eastern refugees who have had to flee their homes, often with only the clothes on their backs. For some reason, many Americans think that their "boat" is the most important, that a prosperous economy is only for those in the global north, and the rest can stay on their beach. It seems to me that a truly beneficial economy does lift all the boats. What we're experiencing now is lopsided and unsustainable. If we are not raising all of humanity out of the depths of poverty, then something is wrong and we need to fix it.

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Farm Update

Happy April! This kid is certainly happy that it's April! I thought I missed the shot as I had waited and waited for him to take the leap off the livestock waterer. Just as I had given up, he did it. I've been slowly working my way through The Desire Map and in the workbook section, one of the questions was something like "What animal makes you think of joy?" Immediately I thought about how baby goats seem so joyful!

Now that the weather is nicer and the days are longer, we've been able to take long walks after dinner. Soon, though, we'll have to abandon part of the area we walk in as the ticks are numerous - and I refuse to use deet (and am afraid to try the natural products for fear they won't work). We'll have to be content with walking the more civilized parts of the farm and our country road.

Our new asparagus crowns arrived this week and Bill planted them on Thursday, greatly expanding out asparagus/perennial garden. Due to the nature of these plants, we really won't be able to harvest them for three years! The first year you just let the plants grow, the second year the spears can be harvested for two weeks, then after that we harvest throughout the season. We're already getting yummy spears off our older plants - not enough to sell but enough for us to enjoy. Last night I made an asparagus pizza for dinner.

We finished out the winter farmers' market. The regular market opens in May so we have a little bit of a break. While it wasn't ideal to do a market every Saturday in the winter, it did increase our sales over our usual deliveries and I managed to sell a number of my aprons, something don't typically sell at the market. We'll continue our deliveries of pre-orders until the market re-opens. We have lots of greens coming in and the hens have cranked up egg production.

Today will likely be my last post on this blog. While I've enjoyed blogging about a wide variety of things, it seems my focus here has turned to farming and food. Now that I've taken on an additional role outside the house, I feel that it's time to move on. I'll now be blogging at Simple.Beautiful.Life. I had been contemplating this for some time and now I feel even more drawn to a new kind of blog. This blog will be more fun, feminine, and sometimes frivolous, though sometimes will touch on serious thoughts. I want to focus on a more and decided that calls for a new blog. Thanks to all who have been reading Renaissance Garden. I know some of you will follow me to my new blog while others will say goodbye at this point. 

Have a great spring!

Monday, March 28, 2016

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Happy Easter and Quote for the Day

The care of the Earth is our most ancient and most worthy, and after all our most pleasing responsibility. To cherish what remains of the Earth and to foster its renewal is our only legitimate hope of survival.
~Wendell Berry

Friday, March 25, 2016

Farm Friday

It might appear as if I've abandoned my blog. I haven't. I had  several blog posts planned but then time slipped away from me. My niece and her husband were in the area so we met them in Greensboro (about an hour away) for dinner one night. My aunt, our son, our daughter-in-law, and our granddaughter joined us so it was a nice family event. A few other events - farm and work - kept me from home so I've had less leisure time than usual which also kept me from blogging.

Spring has sprung in our part of the world. Bill got our seedlings planted yesterday. He worked into the evening anticipating an overnight rain that didn't come. Now he's going to have to lay down the drip irrigation lines. He planted potatoes today and will finish up tomorrow. A friend gave us some thornless blackberry canes and I purchased a couple of raspberry plants. We're going to put them in what has become our perennial/permaculture garden. Our asparagus crowns are shipping next week so we'll have an even larger asparagus bed.

Even though I haven't abandoned blogging, I'm planning some changes soon. I feel with my new job, our returning to a homesteading rather than market farm mindset, and other outside influences caused me to rethink this blog. In the meantime, here are some photos I took around the farm during this evening's paseo:
Beautiful sunset

The tulips I planted last year are coming in

It's the most wonderful time of the year!
Have a good week!

Monday, March 14, 2016

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Quote for the Day

"Our scientific power has outrun our spiritual power. We have guided missiles and misguided men."
~Martin Luther King, Jr.

*As seen on Kathy Escobar's blog "The Carnival in My Head." If you're a person of faith who is tired of the same old story of patriarchy and power, I suggest you check it out. Here's an excerpt that really resonated with me:
when it comes to “the church” i think we have a really jacked up system related to power.  we have adopted the ways of the world and the methods of businesses as our central practices instead of the beatitudes. and even though a lot of people with power are taking more and more about “kingdom living”, often, they are perpetuating the same old power structures, where sexism & racism & inequality & oppression prevail.
 With the American presidential campaign really heating up right now, I decided to spend some time reading Jesus' "Sermon on the Mount." This is the very thing that Gandhi - a non-Christian - read every day. (So does Father John Dear, the amazing peace activist.) As I read through the passage, all I could do was shake my head and wonder how one can misinterpret "Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall inherit the earth." How can any Christian believe it is okay to support leaders who do anything but support peace and equality? (Obviously today's quote evolved into something more than just a quote.)

Friday, March 11, 2016

Farm Friday

While my week on the farm quiet - I was busy with nonprofit work - Bill's workload increased. Spread lots of compost, prepped gardens, and even got some things planted. I did manage to get a few herb and flower seeds planted in pots.

After I finished working for the day today - since the day was clear and the temperature was in the mid-to-high 70s - I took a walk around the farm. Here are a few scenes:

Road to the pond (ignore shadow)

Looking through the weeds at the pond

Walking through some of the pines we planted

Our road

Bill returning from an errand

A rare sight - chickens crossing the road
Have a great weekend!

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Quote for the Day

"Dreams are necessary to life."
~Anais Nin

Friday, March 4, 2016

Farm Friday

Enjoying yet another Friday on the farm! This week the weather has been all over the place. Tuesday it was in the high 60s and then we got a light snow last night (it had melted by the time we woke).

On Tuesday I attended a talk by the manager and assistant manager for the Liberty University campus farm. I knew both of them as the manager has visited our farm in the past and we attended a film event that the farm hosted last year. It was encouraging to see students actively engaged in learning about the source of their food and the harm industrial farms do to our bodies and the planet - even animal cruelty was touched on. Not that long ago, such conservative organizations treated the idea of caring for our bodies and the planet like blasphemy (go figure). The times they are a changin....

We had some sad news this week. We lost two of our older goats - Missy, who was one of our 4 original goats (we only have queen bee Nellie left) and Barbie, who was part of the second generation of goats. Both left behind kids but fortunately they are old enough to wean so they should be fine.

The plants are coming up great in our makeshift greenhouse:
Sorry about the poor quality photo
Bill has been busy getting the gardens prepped for spring planting. He built some new raised beds and put down some compost. Next week is forecast to be warm and dry so it should be the perfect time for planting.

I'm enjoying the quiet of the winter, working from home, and eating delicious food that I put up throughout the growing season. But I'm also looking forward to fresh greens and juicy tomatoes! Those seasons are just around the corner...

Have a great weekend!

Friday, February 26, 2016

Farm Friday

Why hello little one!
We've had a good two weeks since the last "Farm Friday." The gardens are asleep now but we're already prepping for the spring. Bill has several shelves of seedlings coming up under grow lights (this time of year my office doubles as a greenhouse.) We're eating a lot out of the freezer since not much is growing. Bill did bring in some Brussels sprouts today that I'll probably roast for dinner tomorrow night. 

Last weekend was our 28th anniversary - and we celebrated by attending an RV show in Raleigh! One day we plan to just pack it all in and take a nice long road trip. We're looking for a small, lightweight but comfortable travel trailer. (I grew up RVing so I know exactly what I'm looking for.) The RV show was geared to those who apparently really don't want to leave home so they put it on wheels. I can't imagine really seeing the country in some of the vehicles at the show:  entertaining yes, sightseeing no. We saw mega buses with outdoor flat screen TVs and outdoor kitchens that run around $400,000! Can't take those babies on the back roads. Nor can your typical American afford them. When we asked one dealer about smaller travel trailers she said they didn't have the smaller models with them and asked if wanted a small one because we were limited by our towing vehicle. It didn't occur to her that some people don't want a McMansion on wheels.

Not the model I have my heart set on but closer than most
We hosted another successful homesteading/sustainable living group last Saturday. I think there were 21 adults in attendance. Several of our regular attendees were unable to make it this time around. As usual, the food, company, and discussion were awesome:
Our spread of delicious food
I did a bit more thrifting last week. It's amazing the nice wardrobe I've put together from thrift and consignment shops. For example: a J Crew blazer for $9, Ann Taylor silk blouse for $6, a classic dress for $8, a tunic-style sweater for $2. After this year's challenge, I don't know if I'll ever buy new clothes again. If you don't need to have the latest fashions, it's the perfect way to create a nice wardrobe that's easy on the pocketbook and good for the earth. Plus if you buy from an organization like Goodwill, you're supporting a good cause.

Morning on the farm
This past week we had a tornado warning alert. We were fortunate that we didn't get one but we did have high winds. The business that owns the tower that provides our internet through lost power which meant we lost our internet for a while.

I've taken a break from my usual mystery/thriller reading and have been reading this:

One reason I no longer participate in the church culture is the way women have been marginalized. While I don't agree with all of author Sarah Bessey's theology, she acknowledges and accepts the fact that there's a wide range of beliefs within the church - so I know I would like her if I met her. (Many Christians believe that being a Christian means you adhere to their particular denomination's beliefs and have no idea that there are conflicting views within the wider church.) Bessey is very gracious about denominational differences yet stands firm in her belief that the church in general needs to allow women to spread their wings and use their gifts and that Jesus was radical in that he treated women as equal to men. In one chapter, when she describes the typical "women's ministry" that most churches support, I found myself nodding and saying yes, yes, yes!

Since I use so many apps on my phone for work, I've been slowly making the transition from paper planner and to do lists to apps. While I miss paper and pencil, I do find I save lots of time by not having to rewrite the various lists that I tend to keep. I'm still not set when it comes to meal planning so that will be my next project. I read one blogger who created a Google calendar just for that purpose. Something to look into.

It's getting late here so I'll end with this:
My little buddy - and master
Have a great week!

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Quote for the Day

“No person is your friend who demands your silence, or denies your right to grow.” 
~Alice Walker

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Quote for the Day

"Listen with the intent to understand, not the intent to reply."
~Stephen Covey

Friday, February 12, 2016

Farm Friday

Things have gotten busy around the farm over the last few weeks - busy for the goats, at least. We now have 22 healthy kids running around the farm!

After a day spent at my desk, I thought it would be nice to walk the farm. Here's one of the sites we saw:
Part of our "lower 40"
While we were out, we thought it would also be a good time to stop by and visit some of the babies and their mothers:
Selfie with a goat

Bill getting some goat love
It's supposed to be super cold this weekend with the possibility of some snow on Monday. Bill has been busy cutting up fallen trees for firewood. We have a wood heater/boiler that we use to heat the house and it's wonderful that we have a large enough farm that we've always been able to scavenge fallen trees rather than cut down living ones.

And my apologies to those who have made comments on my blog and I haven't responded. I'm still working to simplify my life so I have time for things that matter - which includes responding to reader comments. It's a journey...

Have a great week!

Monday, February 8, 2016

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Quote for the Day

I remembered this poem this evening while looking out our family room at the trees silhouetted against the sunset:


I think that I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree.

A tree whose hungry mouth is prest
Against the earth’s sweet flowing breast;

A tree that looks at God all day,
And lifts her leafy arms to pray;

A tree that may in Summer wear
A nest of robins in her hair;

Upon whose bosom snow has lain;
Who intimately lives with rain.

Poems are made by fools like me,
But only God can make a tree.

~Joyce Kilmer

Sadly, Kilmer died at 31, killed by a sniper's bullet in France during a battle in World War I. One wonders how his poetry would have developed had he survived.

Friday, February 5, 2016

Farm Friday

Has it been almost a week? My intention was to get a couple of other posts in this week but I ended up working out of town two days and didn't get a chance to sit down at the computer. I'm still in the process of trying to simplify my life. I've been unsubscribing to most of the emails I receive. And I'm trying to get a good personal time management system set up. For the past few years, I've mainly used a 8 1/2 x 11 spiral-bound notebook for to do lists, shopping lists, menu plans, and an overview for the week, plus a paper calendar. My new job has me using so many electronic tools that I'm trying to find a way to use some for my personal tasks in order reduce the amount of writing I do. In addition to the notebook and paper calendar, I try to do a daily journal entry. Even if it's just a summary of the previous day, plans for the current day, or a random list of thoughts, journaling helps keep me centered. That said, all that writing is time consuming so I need to be more purposeful with my time.

It has been a full week on and off the farm. We're having a few deliveries each week and will be at the farmers' market tomorrow. We've had a run on kids lately and now have 19 on the farm! I haven't had a chance to spend time with them but Bill has been posting pictures of them on Facebook for everyone to oooh and aaaah over.

I tried a new recipe: Blue Cheese and Brussels Sprouts Souffle. I found it in a freebie magazine when I was at a natural food coop in North Carolina. I had everything except the milk and blue cheese so I was able to buy some nice organic dairy products while I was there. Here' a photo after it deflated a bit (it was very pretty straight out of the oven):

I'm working through a huge learning curve with my job - new people, new technology, a new industry, etc. - but I feel that in the long run, it's a great fit for my skills and passions. 

I don't know if he's fascinated or bored by me, but Mr. Fabs decided to spend an entire day sleeping next to my computer while I worked:
Have a great week!

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Quote for the Day

"If I create from the heart, nearly everything works;
if from the head, almost nothing.'
~Marc Chagall

Friday, January 29, 2016

Farm Friday

This time of year is quiet on the farm. Almost all of the gardens have been put to bed for the winter and what little we have left isn't enough to take to market. What we do have to offer is pork, garlic, eggs, and craft items.

One of our goats, Sharona, had triplets this week. She's had them several times before and is a great mother. We have a few more expectant mothers so I'll have more updates.

Newborns! (Photo credit: Bill)
Since I've returned to working in an office, I've needed to upgrade my wardrobe. When I made my goal to not buy any new clothes and to only shop at thrift and consignment stores, I had no plans to work outside the farm. But things changed and I needed a few new pieces of clothing. I'm happy to say I was able to get almost everything used. Here's a trailer for a 2015 movie that reinforces my commitment to avoid new clothes:

For readers who aren't aware, many of the clothes we wear are made by slaves in other countries. Although they're not "legal" slaves, they're slaves nonetheless. Human trafficking awareness is rising and I'm glad to spread the word.

We're going to the farmers' market tomorrow with our few offerings. Last week's market was closed due to the snow. And we had a nice long weekend of hunkering down and enjoying the solitude. We took a long walk by our pond when it stopped snowing and it was so interesting to see all the animal tracks and realize how much activity takes place when we're not around.

Have a great week!

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Wellness Wednesday

Sharing another article about the health benefits of yoga (and a reminder to self about what I should be doing):

The New York Times reports that yoga is also good for bone health - something that is increasingly important as our population ages with some even reaching the century mark. The article recommends a series of poses that take 12 minutes to complete: 
The 12 poses...were tree, triangle, warrior II, side-angle, twisted triangle, locust, bridge, supine hand-to-foot I, supine hand-to-foot II, straight-legged twist, bent-knee twist and corpse pose. Each pose was held for 30 seconds [on each side]. 

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Quote for the Day

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees.
for a hundred miles through the desert repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
~Mary Oliver

Friday, January 22, 2016

Farm Friday

Just the beginning of today's storm
Since I've been working away from home full time, I haven't been good about keeping notes of significant events during the week. So I'll just include a few highlights in this week's post:

  • Had our monthly sustainable living group meeting - over 20 in attendance! Topic was medicinal herbs.
  • Had to go to the office one day this week. Fortunately, that will be the norm so I won't spend a lot of time commuting - especially since my office is over an hour away.
  • Bought some more clothes at a new-to-me consignment shop not far from my office. (Sticking with my plan to buy only used clothes.) 
  • Had our weekly farm meeting. Now that the gardens are done, the meetings are pretty short.
  • Ordered seeds for our spring and summer gardens. We're going to be trying a few new varieties this year.
  • Although it snowed on Sunday, it was nothing like the blizzard that started around 6:30 this morning. It's supposed to last until mid-day tomorrow. The Washington Post says to expect to stay where we are until Sunday or Monday. Being homebodies, we don't have a problem with that. (Today's farmers' market was cancelled.)

Have a great week!

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Wellness Wednesday

Having trouble sleeping at night? Try some of the yoga practices mentioned in this Huffington Post article.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Friday, January 15, 2016

Farm Friday

Ready for business at the winter market
Spent a good part of these last couple of weeks decluttering in both the physical and digital sense - getting rid of unnecessary paperwork; filing away what I need to keep; deleting blogs that I no longer read from my reader; cleaning out my email inboxes; etc. We also had our annual farm retreat where we go over our finances (both farm and personal), talk about what worked and what didn't, and make plans for the future. The first time we did it, we spent two days on it. This time around, we only spent part of an afternoon. Planning makes such a big difference!

We also had our first day at the new winter farmers' market which will tentatively run January through March. We had a great first day - as did other vendors we spoke to. Lots of community support. Hope that keeps up.

Now my time is filled with learning my new job! I'm excited about it but it's a big change for me. Of course, I'll still be part of the farm, just my role won't be as large. Over the last couple of years, I've streamlined a lot of the administrative and routine farm chores so it was a good time to branch out.

Due to time constraints, I probably won't be blogging as much as I have in the past. I'll have to play it by ear as I don't want to abandon the blog after all this time but I know I can't spend as much time on it as I have in the past. Will keep you posted....

Have a great week!

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Wellness Wednesday

I found this 2014 article about the difference between paper and digital reading to be quite interesting. The bottom line is that paper reading is important for brain healthas you use a different part of your brain when reading print versus reading electronic documents.

Monday, January 11, 2016