Free Turnip Greens

“Free Turnip Greens.” 

So says a sign outside a Methodist church in a little community near here.  The congregation planted a garden of turnip greens behind the church, then gave them away to the anyone in the community who would come and pick them.  They even put out a container with bags to put the greens in.

Lots of folks in the community, many of them poor, accepted the offer.  Some folks picked greens for elderly neighbors.  And a little patch of land, which would otherwise go to complete waste, is producing good food for the community and by making it happen a church is showing some love to its neighbors. 

It takes very little effort to till a garden, sow it in turnip greens, and let folks in the community come and pick them.

I’d love to see this kind of thing happening at every church and on every unused public space in America. 

That may never happen, of course, but these kind of community gardens are springing up all over the place and that is a very very good thing.

As for the little church with the free turnip greens, I say “Bravo.”

Here’s a story about the turnip green church:  http://www.wpcva.com/news/article_4dd8131c-9dc5-11e1-b00b-0019bb2963f4.html

Love Wins

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Influence

Here’s a good post and good food for thought from Becoming Minimalist.

“You don’t have to be a “person of influence” to be influential. In fact, the most influential people in my life are probably not even aware of the things they’ve taught me.” – Scott Adams

Our lives matter. This is indeed life-giving news to each of us. Deep down, we all want to live lives that make a difference, create an impact, and change the world around us. We were designed to live for something greater than ourselves. And each of us were born with an ingrained desire to accomplish that.

As a result, our world cares about influence. We pay for it, fight for it, and study how to get more of it. Our world measures it ranks it, and ascribes it to people for foolish reasons. But in our constant struggle to attain influence, we often miss out on one very important truth:

We already have it. Each of us is already an influencer of others.

In fact, to live is to influence. If our lives interact in any way with other people (at home, at work, on-line, or in our community), we have influence. We change lives. We affect people every single day with every word we say and every action we choose. In short, our lives already matter.

And it would be wise for us to stop always asking how to acquire more and instead, start asking what to do with the influence we already have.

Because the influence we already have in this world is both a great and challenging opportunity. After all, it can be positive or negative. It can add value to the lives of others or it can take value away. Our influence can become an important agent for change or it can further cement the status quo. It can make our world a better place to be or a crummier place to endure. There are no neutral contributors in this world.

So let’s make a special effort to be a positive influence in the lives of others by…

  • Modeling for others – living exemplary lives of character, integrity, and morality.
  • Celebrating others – affirming their uniqueness and motivating them to celebrate it too.
  • Encouraging others – steering others towards true life and convincing them to receive it. 
  • Inviting others – offering a better way to live life and giving them the tools to embrace it.
  • Challenging others – pushing others towards positive life change. 
  • Mentoring others intentional relationships of life-change giving our lives to another.
Because the sooner we stop spending all our time trying to earn influence, the sooner we can start taking full advantage of the influence we already have.

Love Wins

Angie

A friend sold us Angie, Wendy and Jolene. He stopped by our farm on the way to the market and offered them to us.  I couldn’t resist buying them.   Although the insisted they were Boers, their size and markings caused me to think they had some pygmy in them.  And they were terrified of humans and seemingly untameable.  I wondered if they’d ever breed properly and I sometimes regretted adding them to our herd.

But over time, they settled in and grew.  All successfully kidded.  Angie’s second kid ended up bringing the highest price we’ve ever gotten for a buckling. 

One day I offered a slice of bread to Angie and to my surprise she took it.   From that day forward her timidity began to vanish.  Eventually she was as tame as any of our goats.  Her favorite treat was bread, but I rarely let them have any.  She was happy to eat sunflower seeds out of my hand instead.

Last year she gave us twin doelings who Cherie named Bianca and Jade.  They’re pretty little things.  Their first birthdays are coming up soon and they should give us Angie’s first grandkids in the Fall.

A couple of months ago Angie delivered twin males. 

A few mornings ago I went to the barn and found Angie lying in our horse Rowan’s stall.  To my surprise, I found her to be very weak and very sick.  I had seen no evidence of it before.

I picked her up (as best I could) and carried her to a clean stall.  She stood, but had no energy.  I offered her a slice of bread and she wouldn’t eat it.  I knew the situation was very serious.

I wormed her, disappointed that I hadn’t noticed her sickness and intervened sooner.  I spent some time with her, and left her that evening, hoping she’d recover as our sick goats often have before.

But when I went to check on her the next morning, Angie was no longer alive.

It was a very sad morning for me.  I was very fond of Angie and very sorry to lose her.  I carried her to a remote part of the farm, where she will return to the soil from which we all came. 

Angie died at a time our farm is exploding with new life.  As I was preparing to carry her away, I came across a mother snapping turtle crawling toward a place to lay her eggs.  As I carried her off I came across a mother wild turkey, protecting her nest in our hayfield.  After I laid Angie to rest, I checked our bees and found the hive filled with brood that will soon produce a new generation of honeybees.  Just beyond the beehives I could see the corn and potatoes popping up in rows.  A couple of days after we lost Angie, Penny kidded for the first time, giving us twin males.

Angie will be missed.  She was a sweet good goat.  But even as we say goodbye to her, we welcome new life all around us.

Love Wins

Raising Chicks

We’ve brooded chicks bought from a hatchery.  They arrive in a box in the mail.  We put them in a plastic kiddie swimming pool in the basement, under a heat lamp, until they’re big enough to start jumping out.  Then we move them to a barn stall with a heat lamp.  Finally, once they’re feathered out, we introduce them to the flock.

But we haven’t done that in a while.  Now we add a few chickens each year by allowing some of our hens to go broody and hatch them.  We have one hen tending four chicks she hatched right now, and there is another hen hatching eggs as I type this.   Three more are sitting on clutches that haven’t begun to hatch.

It is a joy to watch how a mother hen raises chicks.  It is particularly interesting to see how she teaches them to forage and shows them what to eat.  When the hen comes across something edible, she begins scratching and clucking, to get the attention of the chicks.  Then she’ll pick up the food, clucking loudly, then drop it.  If it’s too large for the chicks to swallow, she’ll break it with her beak then drop it.  The peeping chicks will scurry over and eat when this happens.  This is not, of course, how a hen responds to food when she doesn’t have chicks.  Without hestitation she gobbles the food right down.  Mother hens, on the other hand, share food with their chicks, teaching them how to find and eat it at the same time.

The little chicks are always very close to the mother hen.  She clucks fairly constantly, and they continually peep.  This keeps them from ever losing one another.  If a chick is distressed the peeping is much shriller and louder and the mother hen will rush over.  Hens, which are by nature easily frightened (“chicken,” if you will) are bold when they have chicks.  If the hen feels the chicks are threatened she’ll puff out the feathers around her neck (to look fierce) and rush at the threat.  I’ve been pecked a few times myself by a protective mother hen.

I love raising chickens this way and I’m sorry our culture has become disconnected from the natural way of doing it.  In the chicken factories, which house millions of caged miserable birds, they have enormous hatcheries.  They sex the chicks at birth, keeping the young pullets (females) to brood artificially and tossing the young roosters into machines which grind them up.  As I’ve written before, chickens are by far the most tortured and abused animals on the planet.

But not on our farm.

So that’s enough about our chicks.  Time to go check on those that hatched overnight.

Love Wins

Love Wins?

Hugh Hollowell runs Love Wins Ministries, a great ministry to the homeless in downtown Raleigh.  He becomes a friend to these people, loving them and listening to their stories.  He avoids and disdains poverty tourism and the drive-by charity that is typical of “homeless ministry.”  A few months ago Cherie and I were privileged to be able to spend a little time with him, hearing about his work.

Hugh told us about some of the folks he ministers to.  The story of one of them really struck me hard.

She is a young homeless woman who sometimes comes to his chapel services.  A few years ago she was a teenager growing up in a town in western North Carolina.  One day she was sick so she stayed home from school, while her mother went to work.  The girl was watching TV and she saw a morning talk show that featured interviews with some lesbians.  Some things clicked in the girl’s head and she seemed to understand herself better.  When her mother got home from work the girl confided to her that she believed she was a lesbian.  Her horrified mother went to see her pastor, asking him what she should do.  The pastor told her that her daughter should be removed from the home.  So the woman turned her daughter out.  She took a bus to Raleigh and ended up on the street.  Like many, if not most, homeless women, she was abused and she turned to prostitution.  Before long she was HIV positive.  And these days– sometimes–she ventures into Hugh’s chapel on Sundays, where all are welcome.

I suppose it doesn’t much matter to this woman that the people of North Carolina passed their “Amendment 1.”  Sure it’s another slap, another sneer, another insult, another pronouncement that she is defective, vile, and inferior to those who God favors–those whose innate sexual attractions are to the opposite sex.  But what is one more reminder of that to someone who has been through what she has?  She’s already had her life destroyed and one more shot probably won’t matter.

But to some it will.  To some it will be further evidence that they are inferior, unworthy, and evil.  To some, it will cause pain.

I can only wonder, in sadness, how these, our brothers and sisters, feel when we demean them, denying them the civil rights we enjoy, all the while telling them, “Oh but we love you.  It’s just your SIN that we hate.”  So say we, sinners all.  We hate your sin, your “lifestyle,” because God hates it, we tell them.  The attraction you feel, which we may follow to lifelong intimacy with a spouse, is for you a curse.  You must never marry.  In your shame you must remain celibate, something almost none of us would have the strength to do.  But our sexual orientation is favored by God and yours is SIN.  How dare you presume to want marriage?  Shame on you you perverse sinner.  So say we, behind our insincere claim that we love everybody.

This shall pass.  In 1875 North Carolina amended its constitution to forbid interracial marriages.  Then, as now, thousands of good people believed that in so doing they were protecting marriage and society.  Then, as now, religious people insisted that God wanted the constitutional amendment.  But they were wrong then, and they are wrong now.  As a wise man said, the arc of history is long, but it bends toward justice.

Voters do stupid things all the time.  Governments do evil daily.  This is not surprising and doesn’t grieve me.  I expect it.  But I do grieve for the church and the role it played in this.  Even though MANY devoted followers of Jesus worked very hard to defeat this amendment, the public face behind it wears the badge “Christian.”  To the unbelieving world this is just another reason to avoid Christians, church and Christ.  We followers of Jesus are assigned the blame for acts of meanness like this, even though so many of us fought against it.  And no doubt the vast majority of those who voted for this believe that God wanted them to.  They are church-going Christians.  That is the saddest part of it all.

But it SHALL pass.  Despite appearances that this divide is the churched versus the unchurched, it is more accurately generational.  While huge majorities of seniors oppose gay marriage, equally large majorities of those under 30 favor it.  Even among evangelicals, the most conservative of Christians, a majority of those under 30 favor allowing gay people to marry.  This amendment will someday be merely yet another embarassing reminder of our past mistakes.

It wasn’t that long ago that Christians nearly uniformly believed that women are innately inferior to men.  They were not allowed to be pastors or to teach men.  And plenty of Bible verses supporting that position could be produced.  But almost all Christians now look back at those days and wonder how we could have been so wrong for so long.  But that was different, some will protest.  We were wrong then, but we aren’t wrong now.  We can exegete our way around those bible verses, but these mean what they say (or more accurately, they mean what we say they mean).

May we soon move past this ugliness.  May the people of God repent.  May that young woman in Hugh’s chapel, and the millions like her, be bathed in the love of God’s people, and made to know that her sexuality does not make her defective, does not make her inferior, does not render her unworthy of a spouse.  May love win.

And it will.  Because God is love.  Love never fails.  And no matter how badly we screw up, even when we do it in God’s name, in the end, love always wins.

Love Wins

 

The sad reality

People are fed by the food industry, which pays no attention to health, and treated by the health industry, which pays no attention to food.

Wendell Berry

Love Wins

Like Pigs in Clover

Wednesday was graduation day for our piggies.  After a month in a barn stall they’ve become tame and ready to move out to the pasture.  The plan was for them to spend a day in the shed, acclimating, before being released.  But they would have none of that.  They promptly wiggled under the fence and joined the goat herd, as if they belonged there.

The goats are puzzled by them, which matters not a bit to the pigs.  They’ve been having fun rolling in the mud and eating clover, something the vast majority of pigs raised in this country never have the opportunity to do.

This is how pigs should live.  Sadly, most live like this instead.

Of course if we all refused to eat pigs raised in such conditions, those practices would end.

We’re pleased to be doing our small part here at White Flint.

Love Wins