Envying Heated Waterers

Not long after we settled in here, ten years ago or so, Cherie told me that now when she sees something on the internet that causes her to become envious, it tends to be things like heated chicken waterers.  Just more evidence that we’d entered a different world.

I do that too.  When I read that someone has a heated chicken waterer, I envy it.

The waterers in our pastures are heated, mercifully. But not the waterers at the chicken coops.

In the heart of winter when I go to let the chickens out in the morning I often find their water frozen solid.

So I have to bust out the ice, or give them water in something else while waiting for the thaw.  It’s not that much work really.

But a heated chicken waterer?  Now that would be nice.


I begin every morning by feeding the bottle babies, opening the coop, putting wood in the stove, and feeding and watering the chickens and the pigs.  This time of year I also check on the goats to see if any kidded overnight.  After checking on those in the pasture closest to our house, I walk to the other side of the farm and check on the goats there.

Last week I captured two beautiful sunrises over the more distant pasture. These were taken on consecutive days. The photos don’t do them justice, but they at least hint at how glorious they were.




So I read a blog post comparing the violence in the Bible to the violence in the Quran.  The author counted up the number of verses endorsing violence in each book, concluding that the Bible had more violent verses, but as a percentage of its content the Quran had more.  If that was some kind of contest, I’m not sure who won.

These days I see lots of people condemning religions as inherently violent, oppressive, manipulative, anti-intellectual, and worse.  Sometimes those pronouncing judgment are condemning all religions.  Sometimes it comes from religious people condemning all religions except their own.

Critical examination of religion is a good thing, it seems to me.  We should constantly examine and critique all institutions, especially when they have such immense sociological influence.

But as someone once said, “Text without context is pretext for a proof text.” Counting up verses as if the relative merit of religions can be determined by arithmetic is foolishness. The texts that are sacred to religious people are part of a much vaster context, which includes not only culture and history, but also reason, experience and tradition. Critical studies of the texts are valuable as such.  But ultimate judgments on them (and the religions to which they are attached) should take into account their total contexts and, most importantly, the lives of those who live within those contexts–both as individuals, and as a whole.  Let those lives speak, and hear what they say charitably.

That requires a lot more effort than reducing it down to something as simple as finding a few sentences in a sacred text that seem to confirm a pre-existing bias–then pronouncing judgment.  And it can’t be done with an adding machine.



A Sustainable Regenerative Future

As I’ve written before, I’m encouraged to see a generation emerging that is rejecting the consumerism and debt that ours embraced, a generation that is actively looking for ways to make the world a better place rather than just ways to make lots of money, a generation that is exploring spirituality in exciting ways, seeking opportunities for service and celebrating the things we have in common rather than emphasizing our differences.  Of course it’s not true that those traits are shared by everyone in the younger generation, but my sense is that they are generally characteristic of at least a significant segment of it–a segment large enough to make a big difference in the world.

I’m thinking this morning of a group of young friends of ours who have chosen to live in the inner city of our nearby town so they can share life and community with people who are desperately poor and often homeless.  Our friends live in intentional community with one another, sharing homes, which they open to those in need.  They’re an inspirational and awesome group.

We’re especially excited about a new project they’ve launched this year–an urban community garden on a large lot that was donated to them.  They’ve been clearing and preparing the land and it will be producing food and meaningful work for their neighborhood this year and for many years to come. They’re using and incorporating permaculture techniques that were unfamiliar to me.  They’re able to innovate because they’re not confined to any paradigm being dictated by some agricultural authority.

This kind of thing is happening all over the country right now, and probably all over the world.  It’s just one example of many that causes me to have a lot of hope for the future.

The Natives

Long before the first European and African settlers began arriving in this area about 300 years ago, this land was home to the Saponi and Occaneechi people.

The points of their weapons are easily recognizable.


I’m not so sure about their other tools. I found these in a field near our house. The stones are not typical for here and are very heavy.  If any reader is enough of a rock expert to tell me what these are, please share. Of course, I’m interested in any thoughts on what these were used for as well.







I wonder what the purpose of this obelisk was.


I like finding reminders of their time here. It pleases me to know that this place has been sustaining human populations for a long time.

January Sweet Potatoes


Sweet potatoes may be the perfect homesteaders’ food crop. They store easily and keep well. Once cured (a simple process) all you have to do is put them in a cool dark place and they’ll be good for the better part of a year. No canning or freezing necessary.  Of course they’re delicious and nutritious to boot.

We’ve been enjoying sweet potatoes since we harvested them in October and there are still plenty of them in our basement.  In addition to feeding us and our farm customers, they’ve become a staple of our dog Ginny’s whole food diet.

Sweet potatoes for Ginny

Sweet potatoes for Ginny

Lucky dog

Lucky dog

We just finished off the last of our Irish potatoes, just as they were starting to look like some kind of weird space aliens.  Meanwhile the sweet potatoes still look as good as they did the day we took them out of the ground.  Of course the Irish potatoes were harvested much earlier, in July.  But the late harvest date is another homesteading advantage of the sweet potato, as it helps assure that they’ll last through the winter months.

We’re planning to have another large garden of sweet potatoes again this summer.  I expect they’ll always be an important part of both our farm business and our personal food supply.

Top 10 Posts of 2014

Lots of WordPress bloggers have been sharing their end of year reports and it’s been fun reading them.

I enjoy top-10 lists.  For the last several years I’ve started the new year with a post listing my 10 most-viewed posts of the previous year. I’m a little slow getting to it this year, but here’s my review of 2014.

Last year the blog was visited by folks from 113 different countries, with the top 5 countries being the U.S, Australia, the U.K., Canada and South Africa.

The busiest day of the year was July 13, when I posted Encouraged and Frustrated, which was mainly me griping about deer eating our gardens.  Deer were a very popular (or unpopular, depending on how you look at it) subject on the blog last year.

The post that generated the most comments last year was Look Y’all I Took a Selfie, which was nothing but me photo-bombing Fatty’s selfie.

And the top-ten most-visited posts of  2014 were:

10. (tie)  Left Behind.  About the fawn living in our pigs’ pasture.

10. (tie) Radishes. A short post about the humble radish.

9. Career Opportunities.  Another anti-deer rant.  In this one I wonder what other career options I might have if deer put us out of business.

8. Natural Order and Natural Evil.  Over the years I’ve done several posts on the philosophical Problem of Evil. In this one, from December, 2009, I suggest a solution to the problem of natural evil–a solution I later became dissatisfied with, leading me to post a Disclaimer.  This has probably been the most popular of the seminary papers I posted.  I’ve posted others which haven’t generated nearly as much traffic, but which stand up better I think, such as my posts on the Canaanite genocide, violence in Islam and the apparent futility of the universe.

7. The Fatties.  We had great pigs in 2014.  They look so small in this post from last October.

6. What’s Alive in Front of Us. I wondered if anyone would read this one, and was surprised that my musings generated some great discussion and was one of the most popular posts of the year.  Probably my favorite on this list.

5. Coming Soon.  Anticipating/dreading the beginning of deer hunting season.  While tense at times, this year was much better than past years.

4. Purging Organic.  We had to purge the word “organic” from our website, social media and marketing materials last year.  My frustration with that generated good discussion.

3. Mud.  A perennial favorite, from May, 2009.  So why did Jesus rub mud in the man’s eyes?

2. The Trestle.  All I did was cut and paste Raymond Carver’s poem from Teresa Evangaline’s blog, in April, 2012.  It’s been one of the most popular posts on this site ever since.  Last year it came in at number one.

And most visited post of the year was…

1. Oceania has NOT always been at war with Eurasia.  From February, 2009, the popularity of this year’s landslide winner is probably due to kids using Google to do their homework.

Thanks to everyone who visited last year and especially to those of you who comment. It’s been fun to see a community developing here.  I’m looking forward to lots of great discussions in 2015.