My Breakfast

This morning I brought in some peppers and tomatoes from garden.  I simmered them in olive oil, along with an onion I grew earlier this year.  Then I scrambled in a couple of eggs that I gathered from the henhouse.  While the veggies were simmering I went out to the garden and picked a cantaloupe.  I sliced it up while the eggs were cooking and made some toast.

Dang.  I could have had a pop tart.

Love Wins

Nesting Box

Getting our chickens to hatch their eggs properly can be pretty frustrating.  If they go off into the woods or an out building to sit, all is fine.  Eventually the hen will come back, with a bunch of chicks trailing her.  But when they sit in the henhouse, confusion reigns.  After leaving for a drink of water, the sitting hen will often get on the wrong nest when she returns.  Hens will lay fresh eggs in the clutch that is being incubated.  Eggs get broken.  It is rare that more than one or two of the eggs in a henhouse clutch actually hatches.

When Jude was here she told us that her grandmother in Saudi Arabia used to tie the hen in the nesting box, making it impossible for her to leave.  She would give her feed and water, and keep her tied there until the eggs hatched.

This idea intrigued me.  I wasn’t interested in tying up our hens, but I wondered how we might keep them where they were supposed to be.

Jude and I came up with the idea of using a box.  We put the sitting hen and her eggs in the box and shut the lid.  Sitting hens like to be isolated and during their 21 day sitting they rarely leave the nest.  So while a chicken would normally protest against being shut up in a box, a broody hen prefers it.  Every morning I open the box for a while to let her go eat, drink and do her business.  Then, when she gets back in the box, I fasten the lid.  No more hens squabbling over the nest and messing up the hatch.  And she likes the privacy.

I’m excited to see how the hatch goes.  If it is successful, I’ll get more of these boxes and this is how we’ll do it in the future.

Love Wins

Wedding Day

Our son got married last Saturday.  With a beautiful ceremony in a beautiful place on a beautiful day, two beautiful people bound their lives together.

I wish I had a better picture to share, but until I do this one will have to do.

We are especially blessed to be gaining not only a daughter (Sarah), but a sweet adorable granddaughter as well (Rayne).  One of the most moving parts of the ceremony was when Will vowed to take Rayne as his own daughter.  He called her over, bent down and handed her a necklace (which was a gift from me to Cherie many years ago) and announced his love for her.

We’re filled with joy for Will, Sarah and Rayne and we hope and pray they’ll be showered with blessings and love.

For Cherie and I it is naturally bittersweet.  Even as we share in the joy of our son, we are reminded of how quickly his childhood seemed to have passed.

And now, as grandparents and in-laws, we step further down the path to which our journey has brought us.

May it keep leading us to happy places.

Love Wins

Betsy

This is Betsy.  If you look carefully you will see that she has a grasshopper on one of her horns.

Love Wins

Eggplant

Like the okra, this year’s crop of eggplant is the best we’ve ever grown.  Surprisingly, our Japanese eggplant was the first summer vegetable to come in, and the Italian eggplant came in much earlier than usual as well.

We don’t usually expect eggplant until late in the summer, but we’ve already had a good harvest.  And now it’s really starting to arrive and the plants are still blooming.

The only thing that bothers eggplant much are the flea beetles.  They do a lot of damage to the leaves of the young plants, but once the plants begin to grow they quickly outgrow anything the flea beetles can do.

We’ve been enjoying lots of eggplant already this year.  Cherie makes an excellent eggplant casserole and we also enjoy it in ratatouille.  Jude made a great eggplant dip which we had with pita bread.  Of course that just scratches the surface of things that can be done with it.

On a diversified farm like ours we don’t fret too much over a failure.  This year our cucumbers failed, for reasons I still don’t understand.  If we had a cucumber farm, we’d be in deep trouble right now.  But because we grow so many things, we can just shrug off the lost cucumbers and enjoy our bumper crops of other things, like the eggplant.

We like it that way.

Love Wins

Jude

We enjoyed learning about Saudi Arabian culture from our intern Jude.  She blessed us with her cooking skills and were privileged to enjoy some great food she prepared for us, including homemade hummus, a wonderful lemony okra recipe and shakshouka, a delicious egg and tomato dish.

Shakshouka. Tomatoes, eggs, paprika, cumin and olive oil. Delicious.

Learning about the culture in her country was also fascinating.  There are some terrible injustices there.  There is religious discrimination, not only against non-Muslims but also against the minority Shia Muslims, such as Jude’s family.  There is also serious mistreatment of women.  Women in Saudi Arabia aren’t allowed to drive cars, for example.  So when Jude had a job there she had to spend half her salary to hire a driver to take her to work and back.  Women can go nowhere publicly without a male guardian/escort.   In our 21st Century American culture these things just seem bizarre.

Jude with the pigs. It is illegal to own pigs in Saudi Arabia.

On White Flint, Saudi women drive.

But lest we jump to the conclusion that American society is in all respects superior to theirs, we learned that there are ways in which Saudi society seems much better than ours.  The disintegration of the family that we’ve seen in our culture has not occured in Saudi Arabia.  Families are knit tightly together.  They share meals at a common table.  The idea of putting elderly family members in nursing homes is unheard of and if done would bring great disgrace to a family.  Elderly people in Saudi Arabian families are honored and treated with great respect.  There is a saying there that old people must be treated as prophets.    Certainly our society would benefit from this kind of attitude and treatment of our elderly family members.

I imagine there are good and bad characteristics of all societies.  Jude told us that in Saudi Arabia (as likely in most of the world), there is the sense that America is a fairy tale place, where everything is beautiful and everyone is happy and wealthy.  Jude was shocked to learn that there are homeless and hungry people in our country, especially after she saw our grocery stores and the mind-numbing abundance and variety of food we have.  She was also shocked to discover how bland our abundant food usually tastes and how little our culture seems to value fresh and delicious produce.  But these realities are generally unknown to the rest of the world, who see America through the lens of Hollywood and our pop culture.  Much of the world wants to imitate America and be like Americans.  And in some respects that is good, of course.  But in many respects we would be well-served to borrow from the best of their cultures, and to discourage them from borrowing from the worst of ours.

We loved having Jude here.  She is a generous, compassionate and beautiful person.  And  likewise Jude loved her internship here and is inspired to continue to pursue farming and sustainablility.  The experience helped inspire us to keep doing what we do and to keep trying to inspire others, while eagerly looking for inspiration from them.

Love Wins