Anticipation

Things were grim in Palestine 2,000 years ago.  The land was occupied by a foreign military superpower and was being governed by its puppet king, a paranoid murderous meglomaniac.   At any hint of resistance, the Romans would brutally crush it, sometimes crucifying entire villages.   Likewise their puppet king Herod tolerated no challenge to his power, regularly having members of his own family, including his children, put to death when he became suspicious of their loyalty.  Life under such tyranny was economically oppressive as well.  The combined taxes imposed by Rome and Herod could take as much as 90% of a worker’s income.    And in addition to grinding poverty and an absence of social justice, the people had to deal with rampant diseases, for which there were no cures or treatments.  The people struggled to survive.

Religion offered little to soothe the pains of such a life.   The prophets, and seemingly God himself, had been silent for over 400 years.  The religious establishment of the day policed a complex and often absurd code of behavior that governed almost every minute detail of life.  The religious authorities taught that the long-awaited messiah would not come until the whole nation kept this impossible maze of laws perfectly.   For the poor, the weak, women, children, the sick and the marginalized, the foreigners and those not born into the right ethnic and socio-economic status, for any outside the circle of the religious elite–in other words, for almost everybody–the prevailing religion seemed to offer little more than condemnation and judgment.

Meanwhile, in the temple in Jerusalem, an old man lingered on, praying earnestly in the belief that he would not die until he had seen the messiah.

And in a barn in Bethlehem, far from her home, a poor, frightened, unwed teenage girl was in labor.

Love Wins

Advertisements

Judy and Sheena

Cherie, Barbie, Blondie, Ramona and Sharona

A couple of years ago I saw an ad on Craig’s List from someone getting rid of a bunch of Boer goats.  We had never added any goats to our small herd other than a few bought from a close friend, and those born on our farm.  But I wanted some more genetic diversity so I decided to go have a look at these.

It was nearly dark when Peyton and I got to the farm.  It turned out that the seller was a teenage boy who was moving.  He said he only had two goats left.

Honestly, I didn’t look the goats over carefully.  I could tell they were thin, but I wanted to buy them and it was practically dark.  So I struck a deal, loaded them into the back of my truck and returned home.

Cherie nearly had a fit when she saw them.  In the clear light of day, and with a nearly irate Cherie pointing it out, I saw that these two goats were dangerously emaciated.   They were as skinny as goats that size can probably be while still alive.  Cherie pointed out that they might bring whatever illness they had to our other goats.  I felt really stupid for having bought them.  So I said not to worry.  I said we’d just keep them separate from the rest of the herd until the next market day, then I’d sell them.  Cherie wasn’t having any of that, however.  She was determined to get them healthy.

That wasn’t easy.  We wormed them and treated their diarrhea.  We keep them fed and began the slow process of getting them well.  As someone at homesteadingtoday.com told me, “However long it took to starve them down to that size is how long it’s going to taken to fatten them back up.”

Despite the fact that they were so sick and skinny, Judy and Sheena (their White Flint names) were the tamest goats we’d ever seen.  Both loved to be petted, and they had absolutely no fear of humans.  However badly they’d been cared for nutritionally, they had clearly been otherwise well-treated.

After about a year of rehabilitation, I finally felt comfortable putting them in with Johnny, our buck.  He never seemed very interested in them, and I wondered if they were beyond breeding age.

That question was answered two days ago when both of them gave birth to twin does.  The kids are healthy, happy and friendly.  The photo above is Cherie holding all four of them yesterday.

Judy and Sheena are among the best White Flint success stories we’ve had.

Love Wins

Simple Life

I was ready for some life.  There had been too much death on White Flint during the morning.  But I was not expecting our nanny goat Sheena to kid this afternoon.

I was going to the back pasture to check on the waterer and I saw that the goats in the front pasture were in the far distant corner.  For some reason I decided to trudge through the snow to them, hopefully to trim the hooves of  a couple of them. 

As I got near I noticed a baby goat lying in the snow and I knew immediately that Sheena had kidded.  I was expecting Judy to kid first, but I’d just left her at the barn–so it had to be Sheena. 

That’s when it got weird.

Joey, our Great Pyrennes guard dog, was sitting next to the kid, vigilantly protecting her–from her mother!  The kid was crying for her mother and Sheena was crying back.   But whenever Sheena tried to approach the kid, Joey would attack her.  I had to drive him away in order to let Sheena come to her.  By the time I got there Joey had torn off part of one of Sheena’s ears (he controls the goats by grabbing their ears).  I gathered up the kid and carried it to the barn, with Sheena following me.  I had to stop every few steps to chase off Joey.

By the time I got Sheena and the kid into a stall, she was having her second kid.  Both kids (females) are strong and healthy, and other than losing part of an ear to a freaked out guard dog, Sheena is fine.

But while Will and I were cleaning off the kids (and desperately hoping Cherie–the goat midwife–would return home soon), he noticed that Judy was making odd sounds in the next stall.

Within an hour of Sheena delivering twins, so did Judy.  Two more does.

Today is Will’s 20th birthday, and he’s not likely to forget how he spent it.

So we welcome into the White Flint family Barbie, Blondie, Ramona and Sharona, on a day that I’m sorry to say we had to say goodbye to Rita.

Love Wins

Process

Today I processed one of our roosters. “Processed” is a euphemism for: caught him, carried him to the kill cone, cut off his head, dunked him in scalding water, plucked the feathers off him, burned off the pin feathers, eviscerated (gutted) him, put him a freezer bag, and put him in the freezer. It’s not pretty and it’s not fun. In fact, it is the thing about farm life that I dislike the most. But it’s part of the process that puts healthy food on our table.

I get annoyed at folks who say things like, “I don’t know how you can eat an animal you raised. I could never do that.” I’ve heard that or something like it many, many times. Not consciously, but what the person is saying is that he or she is more sensitive or compassionate than I am. Of course not one of the people who has ever said something like that to me was a vegetarian. They all happily eat meat that they get from the supermarket, conveniently wrapped in plastic and looking unlike any formerly living creature, or processed beyond all recognition, wrapped in paper and served up at a fast food joint.

It is this disconnect between eater and animal that gives a blank check to industrial agriculture to be as cruel to animals as it likes, in the quest to maximize profits. The consumer wants no reminder that meat begins as an animal, and certainly doesn’t want to see the methods used by industrial agriculture to raise and slaughter these animals. Because the consumers don’t want to see that, industrial farms are free to do whatever they like to the animals. If consumers did look, many would become vegetarian.

So today I performed a necessary step in the process of creating meals for my family. The rooster that we will someday eat was raised naturally and humanely. He was hatched naturally here on our farm, and brooded by his mother. He ranged freely and ate a natural diet. He was never put in a battery cage. He didn’t have his beak cut off. He was never given growth hormones or antibiotics to stimulate growth. He crowed whenever he wanted to. He chased the hens around. He lived a natural, healthy, happy life.

And the process is perpetual.

Love Wins

Scientists

From the Pew Research Center…

Percentage of scientists ages 65 and older who say they believe in God:  28%

Percentage of scientists ages 34 and younger who say they believe in God:  42%

Love Wins

Snow

We returned from Florida today, to a snow-covered farm.

There was disorder.  Althought the public roads are clear, our farm roads and driveway are deep in snow and ice.  Someone left the RTV out in the snow, where it got stuck and had a tire go flat.  The heater was nearly out of wood.

But we inflated the tire and moved the RTV.  We loaded the heater with wood.  We checked on all the animals.  And we enjoyed the beauty of it all.

Rita is still sick.  Judy and Sheena still haven’t had their kids.

But there is a roaring fire in the heater.  The chickens are in bed.  And a beautiful crescent moon is hanging over the naked white oaks, shining on the snow.

It’s all good.

Love Wins