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10 Things to be Thankful for This Thanksgiving

November 26, 2014

Thanksgiving is a time for family, friends, traditions and giving thanks. So often we get wrapped up in the day to day stresses of ‘life’ and forget we have it good. Even as we struggle to keep the bills paid we live in a country with an abundance of food that many cannot even dream about. What are you thankful for this year? Here are some thoughts as you look around the holiday table.

1.Family and friends. Since my mom passed away in 2007 it has changed holidays in that there’s no longer the call to chat with her, but it also brings up Thanksgiving meals shared. We think 5 years, 10 years is a long time and yet so often we look back and it seems like the blink of an eye. Many are facing the holidays this year without someone special for the first time. A mother, a father, a spouse or son or daughter. The reasons may vary but the end result is an empty chair at the table and hanging on to precious memories of years they were here. Treasure friends and family – we never know how long we have with them.

USDAgovSoldierMeal2. The abundance of food. This seems so easily taken for granted that we don’t even think to thank the farmers who work hard all year to produce food for the many who don’t grow their own. From the turkey or ham or roast beef or chicken to the potatoes or wheat in the rolls some farmer grew it. Many of them are facing an uncertain time now, and as farmers struggle it helps them to put real butter, milk and ice cream for dessert on our holiday tables. Food purchased direct helps small farms and empowers your choices. Without our farmers we have no security – those who control the food control the people.

3.The freedom we enjoy. We drive to work or to visit friends and we don’t have to worry about hitting roadside bombs or suicide bombers. We can worship as we want – be it Muslim, Christian, Catholic, Mormon or ourselves. We can generally speak our opinions without fear of death for speaking it. America has problems yes…but we take so much for granted also!

4.Health. Something that we also take for granted until it fades or illness threatens. When we look at a child battling cancer who may never graduate from college or get married or recognize the painful recovery of so many soldiers and civilians who have endured life altering injuries we should be thankful. If you can walk that extra 20 or 30 feet from the disabled parking spot you have it good. If you can sleep without pain and get by day to day without or with a minimum of medication be thankful. Even with medication be thankful it is there to preserve what health we have.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA5.Pets are another reason to be thankful – they look at us as if we’re the person we should be instead of the people we are. For many their pets are also working dogs, enabling them to see, to navigate in public despite challenged abilities the world may not see. Dogs have abilities to help with predicting seizures, guiding the blind, helping with day to day life in a world not of their making. Pretty incredible.

6, Be thankful for those who are working today and every day. Farmers, police, fire fighters, paramedics, soldiers, nurses and many others who stand ready and unseen until they get our call for help. When most people run out they run in, and somewhere even on this holiday there will be some who don’t make it home to their families.

7.Until you haven’t had one you don’t appreciate having a home. Really appreciate it. From having a place to shower to a stove to heat up soup or other meals when we want it, a warm, dry place to be. A place of safety from the outside world. Home. Forget the it’s not good enough or not what we’d like it to be. Be blessed to have a place to call home.

8.Friends. Real friends are there in good times and bad. They’re an encouraging word on a difficult day and a “thanks for doing that!” that is appreciated. They’re also willing to be honest enough to point out, privately, something we just messed up on! Friends hold us accountable in life and with each other.

9. Our talents are another good reason to be thankful. We all have weaknesses and things we’re just not good at, and usually those things are well known. But we also have things we’re good at. It might be the ability to listen or fix a car or build something or prepare a wonderful meal but whatever our talents they are no good if unused.

10. Finally among the many things to be thankful for is compassion. Not the politically charged compassion to insult and harass others but the genuine compassion that helps a stranger just because we can. It costs nothing to hold that door open for the person a few steps behind you. It costs nothing to help the person struggling to load something in their vehicle or trying to retrieve something that is out of reach. It costs nothing when we have much to see someone who could use one of our extras and give it to them without expecting anything back. It costs nothing for a smile and a hug and a thank you. We all should do it more.

None of these things have status, money, power as a qualifying factor. It just takes seeing what we have and a thankful heart.

What Kind of World

November 25, 2014

JakeLingLingSelinaAs Thanksgiving draws near, it’s natural to think of those things, situations and people we’re thankful for. I recently read “It’s a God Thing” and the incredible stories are inspiring. When there’s good things it’s easy to be hopeful – when it’s bad things, faith is needed. Today embraces a beginning and an aftermath.

The beginning – a new family member:

Well whoever had money on a girl, 7 lbs 10 oz and 19 1/2 in, wins the contest!!! But really we are the true winners with our newest addition, Selina Lee!!!

Nephew Jake and his lovely wife Ling Ling welcomed Selina Lee to the world this morning. She was eager to make an appearance before Thanksgiving and push shopping to a side issue.

NatalieDuBoseThe aftermath is much different just a few hours south of there. As Small Business Saturday approaches and the holiday season gets underway, some business owners were wiped out last night. Looting, burning, vandalism for something they did not do and in no way had a part of. Miss Natalie owned Natalie’s Cakes & More. Owned because protesters burned it down last night.

So here’s someone who has worked hard, and a Facebook page showing beautiful work, with feedback testifying they taste as good as they look. Already ‘fundraisers’ have come forth that she did not set up, but is working to. Those who have seen our struggle to get enough to pay bills, pay for new projects and better our lives I hope will be touched enough to follow her Facebook page and do something to help her rebuild as it sinks in what she needs that helps her. Not just what we want to do – but allowing her a shred of power to name it and respond. Sometimes we try to help and it’s not helping. She’s a visible face but not the only business destroyed.

The problems ripple far beyond one community.

I have 3 boys. You can be a straight A student, never had a discipline referral, never had behavioral issues, never committed a crime and can still be shot dead by your fellow black man or a cop.

So as many try to understand, it seems to fall short. Even those trying to communicate get frustrated – the gap between the worlds of understanding, then, seems one of the first things needed. Not fires, riots, looting. Communication. Being adults and using words to truly make a change.

This is the world that Connor and Selina will inherit folks. It’s the world that my friend’s three boys will be in and we have got to have a platform where all can have a positive part in it. While her boys and Selina are too young to understand, Connor is watching, reading, formulating thoughts and responses and ideas that will guide his actions throughout life. He is reading responses from both black and white friends on my wall and, like many, trying to wrap his head around where to go from here?

What will we give them? Will it be a path of fear or one in that they are free to follow their dreams of a beOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAtter life? Can they all live and work to the benefit of all? Will they be pondering these same things 30-40 years from now or will what we do NOW give them the freedom to spend time pursuing that which makes them happy?

We can debate criminal records, illegal activities, negativity for decades. We have. It seems the more we talk that the more negativity we have. How about if we find common ground, if we find positive, if we find successful and those who, given a chance, can be successful? It’s the holidays and this gift is priceless. It’s far beyond the things looters are stealing and shoppers are fighting for. Reality check folks. Those things end up in trash.

Let’s not let the lives of the next generation be cast aside too. I think they all matter. Americans better find a way because whatever we do, it will be handed to them. That can be equality or resented distrust, a future or a debt they can never get out of.

Will it be easy? No. But common ground says that as parents it’s critical to do something positive. Let’s get beyond us and find a world to hand to them. It’s that important.

Great Gifts for Dad When Money is Tight

November 24, 2014

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERADads vary widely in interests, likes, dislikes, imperfections and perfections. There is no gift we can give most dads that is close to that which they give us, but sometimes money is tight. Presents for dads becomes gift bargains for dads and – stretched further – outright cheap gifts for dads. What to do when the checkbook doesn’t match what we’d like to give?

Remember the lessons of Christmas. Being a dad isn’t a biological thing – Joseph wasn’t Jesus’ dad but in all ways important raised him as his own. It wasn’t dependent on money. He was raised as a carpenter. Even late in life he rode a donkey – the beast of the poor people as horses signified wealth.

Sometimes the biggest gifts can be ourselves. If you don’t live nearby put together a scrapbook or photo album. If you watch photo centers like Walgreens there are occasional specials of 50 photos for $5. It doesn’t have to be a fancy camera – 100 photos from through the year, printed off and put in a $5 photo album with captions is still less than $20. Video memories on DVD is another very inexpensive gift that may mean more than a gadget he’ll seldom use.

If you are close enough for visits then have dad over one night a week for dinner with the family – no excuses or interruptions just family time. Alternately once a week taking him out for breakfast may be an option.

Look for a favorite magazine he likes. If he likes tinkering in the shop perhaps something like Farm Show magazine would be an interest. Magazines can cover a wide range of topics so can be tailored to his interests. If he already gets one and doesn’t want others consider adding on a year to his subscription.

Another option is a gift basket of food tailored to him. Granted this will be a bit more expensive if he likes steaks but there are bargains to be had there also if one is resourceful! Consider a BBQ grill package or snacks during the game or a diabetic gift basket. You can even create a gift basket with homemade cookies, bread and other goodies.

Books and music are another inexpensive solution be it a favorite singer or a biography about his favorite sports star or celebrity. If your dad isn’t reading as much anymore because of vision issues seek out a books on tape or CD. This can open doors to a new way of enjoying books again.

With less cash available it can mean being creative but doesn’t mean doing without gifts for dad. Make it a memorable Christmas by sharing the best gifts of all – love and time.

Sometimes The Answer is No – Ag in the Bible

November 23, 2014

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASometimes it’s easy to pray for something and it’s answered, and sometimes the answer is no. Or not yet. Sometimes those things don’t make sense.

Sometimes it’s a reality check. If it wasn’t then it’d be a business transaction. Like a vending machine, put prayer in and pull out granted wish below. It wouldn’t rely on the possibility of learning.

Over the weekend I’ve been trying to figure a way to come up with some quick cash. It’s easy for people to say ask for <whatever> but hard to do. It’s harder when some look down at the request in a negative way. Some fencing material has come up for sale, and needs disposed of. The price is fair – $250 –  but if I use funds for that, it takes away from paying other things that needs paid. Without additional funds, the fencing will go to the scrap yard tomorrow.

I’ve been praying for some time for materials needed to put raised beds, a hoop and fencing around this spot. I thought the chain link was the answer to that, but alas, without the money it’s just not going to be reality. It could be discouraging – it is discouraging. There are critics, there are some watching and doubting intentions. There are ‘friends’ that won’t talk and others who have been a constant support.

But tonight two sirens went out – meaning someone lost a home. Somewhere tonight someone lost a parent, a child, a sibling. In the face of serious losses, a fence is nothing.

And I think of the path. Needing more room and a sunny garden spot – provided! And in a spot that can be done *right now* and at a price and terms that can be done…right now. Answers to prayers?! Done, done, done. So although it seems perfect to get the fence at a good price, for whatever reason, it’s not to be right now. There was a need last weekend that seemed impossible and an unexpected check came that covered it. So, for whatever reason, I have to see that it’s not ‘no’ it’s ‘not yet’ on getting the fencing material.

There’s a powerful thing about prayer, and it often gives us more than we imagined. Sometimes if we pushed for our own way we won’t get His.

Even if it’s just a roll of fence. Sometimes there are lessons in unanswered prayers.

15 Gifts From and For SlowMoneyFarm

November 22, 2014

How can buying gifts also give gifts? I’m glad you asked!

Gift certificates are popular to give, and we have gift certificates as well. If people don’t buy what we produce then it doesn’t do any good to produce it. This is an easy idea for #BlackFriday or any of the other shopping days and supports the projects here. It’s one that both gives and gets a gift in one #1 action!

Other gifts you can find here:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA2.Hand made dreamcatchers. The fur from fryers, the feathers naturally shed, the ‘net’ from strands of twine holding the hay, the twigs forming the center from windbreaks here on the place. From $10-25.

3.Craft shares. Colorful feathers, salted fur hides, sticks and more await to be made into original works of art. Both colored and white furs and feathers available – feathers from chicken, turkey, duck. $150 (certificate form, recipient chooses what they want).

4.e-books. Several ones available from $3-5 with topics including farm/food production, horses, dogs and parenting ideas for teaching kids to be equipped for the real world.

5.For local folks a raised bed garden offers a year of food, homeschool lessons and so much more! Many don’t have room for a garden, or rent and can’t put one in. We have a limited number of 5×10 or 3×10 raised beds that will be available – including use of tools and up to $50 in seeds and plants!

6.Classes and clinics - learn new things! Hands on learning beyond just a book or video.

7.Food packages - fresh or frozen chicken, rabbit or duck. Fresh or dried herbs. Produce. Dried pepper flakes. We have tasty options!

8.Original artwork - photographs of sunsets, rural scenes and more. Choose your topic.

9.Pet, livestock photography. 2015 will see a photo shoot location, if support, for pet and pet owners. Also will travel to farms for horses, livestock shoot for use on websites, promotions or just blogs!

10.Memorial trees are something our family has done for decades. Not all have a place to put a tree and we have an option – sponsoring a tree. For the rest of the year we have a special 2 for 1 – sponsoring two trees, for two people or two for the same memory.

11.Get it quick items – these are usually limited supply things or, sometimes, something we’re trying to see if it works.

12.Sponsor a rare breed project, a garden or a ‘hole ‘ of the megahutch, allowing a gift that keeps on giving. Many folks have all they need, and don’t really want clutter things taking up room – this option allows a living memorial in helping one more rare breed a little further towards not being rare.

13.Name a Doe. On our store page this is a way to support what we do. While all of our rabbits have tattoo identification – it’s how we tell one white rabbit from another! – they also have names. Select this option and name one – we have a dozen growing up that will be needing names soon! They’re personal, and these are animals that are our valued “meat mamas.” Short names can even be tattooed in the ear! (5 letters, 6 for Giant chinchilla crosses).

14.Subscriptions – $25 gets VIP first chance access!

15.Self sufficiency option (must be picked up, spring 2015). This lets the cold and rush of the holidays melt away. Choose from a trio of rabbits, 5 feathered out egg pullets (no crowing roosters!) or one each and a dozen cockerels to finish for your own freezer.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWhew. Enough shopping? Well if you really want to we’d be honored to receive too? Need some ideas?! Well…thanks for asking!

2.Birds from Ideal or Cackle Hatcheries. Maybe some Harlequin ducklings or Buckeyes or Cornish. Or 25 New Hampshire pullets to re-create the broiler bird of the past. Or 25 Australorp pullets or assorted Seabrights or Silkies.

3.Home Depot or Marvins gift certificates – oh yes there are MANY projects for which materials are needed. Every little bit helps!

4.Seeds! Be it from the Puckerbutt Pepper company (yes that’s real) or Sustainable Seeds or Seed Savers or Johnny‘s there are plenty of seeds on the wish list for 2015!

5.When in doubt, Amazon wish list! We never stop learning! Of course it’s more than books too.

6.Our feed bill can always use contributions at the Walker CountyFarmers CoOp. Or if preferred Jasper Feed is another welcome recipient of our feed dollars! Cash for hay or bedding is welcome, and if anyone wants to come visit a pickup load of straw would be AWESOME from those who know straw isn’t pine needles!

7.Another perpetual “need this” place – Farmtek. From livestock supplies to greenhouse plastic to fodder and hydroponics (the last two an interest if greenhouse space allows it!), there are many things that help us along here.

8.Bass rabbit supply could be a spot for supplies needed, from hay feeders to water and identification systems.

9.Jeffers is good for general livestock things I haven’t found locally, like tags, probiotics and general “farmy” things. (The tags are cage identification, not cow!)

10.Tractor Supply cards are always welcome – week to week supplies from dog food, pest control, buckets and feeders as well as ‘need it now’ animal health supplies often come from here. Our pop up canopy came from there and ridiculed 5×5 starter greenhouse that is small but can start thousands of seedlings came from here.

11.The last few years our favorite magazine subscriptions have, one by one, lapsed. Among them, Countryside, Farm Show, Grit, Mother Earth News. Too long since being acquainted with Small Farmer’s Journal and others.

12.Always welcome double gifts – memberships in American Livestock Breeders Conservancy or other ag and related organizations always welcome.

13.Help someone out. Buy a meal, pay a power bill or make a small difference as you can for someone. Sometimes $20-30 can mean eating for a week or not.

14.Sponsor a child on an angel tree, or an adult in a homeless shelter. Take a veteran out for dinner. It doesn’t take huge, expensive and life altering moments.

15.Our Christmas wish list is pretty simple but will end with this one. Make some memories. Life is short and for many this will be the last one on Earth. Make it count. Don’t say “I wish I had”.

Christmas comes but once per year but it can last year round if we let it, if we make it. Make it special. Help us help others, and finish projects that need done. We’re on a weekend mission to come up with $250 for some chain link fencing, used and a good deal, so hugely appreciate support on Small Business Saturday. There are so many to help and so much to do, and most look the other way.

Finding Great Deals on DVDs Without Leaving Home

November 21, 2014

Finding bargains on DVDs is not as difficult as it may sound initially. There are always bargain bins in many stores and thrift stores can yield great DVD bargains for Christmas but there is a better way also! Here are some places to find Christmas DVD gift bargains. You don’t even have to get up from where you are to do it! Saving money on commercially produced DVDs allows more money for other things.

1. Local pawn shops can be a source of many items including DVDs and CDs. These will often be fairly recent releases or popular ones but the price is usually right.

2. Ebay has a wide range of DVDs available in almost any interest you can imagine with many on a “buy it now” and others the standard auction format. While some have had issues with ebay and their sister site Half.com it remains a popular way to shop and good sellers work hard to get the DVDs out fast.

3. Amazon.com – Well known for books and music they also have the latest as well as classic DVDs for sale. Popular DVDs (and CDs) can often be preordered to insure that you get your copy. This is done without the hassle of getting out into the cold and snow or fighting crowds.

4. Turn to your computer for popular stores also. BestBuy.com Target.com and many other stores have online sales. I’ve ordered and preordered with BestBuy.com and found their service team very willing to help, with fast delivery right to my mailbox. This is a great option for those who can’t get out to shop or those too far from major outlets to shop at.

5. DVDEmpire.com has thousands of CDs including current bestsellers and discount of up to 36% off advertised on some new releases. Free same day shipping is listed and a wide range of niche interests and movie genres represented.

6. Movies television and even workout movies are available at mydvdonineshop.com with good prices and selection listed. From current season DVD of popular TV shows to classics like the Wizard of Oz this can be a shopping experience from where you’re reading this!

Shopping for Christmas doesn’t have to mean the mad crowds and ugliness that so often makes the headlines. Relax and find great deals from home without the stress. Not only will you find great DVD gifts for Christmas but you’ll have time to prepare so the season is joyful as it should be instead of a shopping/wrapping madhouse. Save money save time and save aggravation of the crowds and expense. Enjoy the season!

10 Top Christmas CDs You May Not Have Heard

November 20, 2014

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASome of the best Christmas music is country but there are many Christmas albums by other artists that are outstanding. Here’s my list of the best Christmas albums to share with you. Some will be familiar; others won’t but are worth a listen!

Jim Reeves “12 songs of Christmas ” is such a tradition for our family it just isn’t Christmas without this playing in the background. Jim Reeves was gone much too early but this Christmas album is a classic of songs that he made his own. “Silent Night” and “Jingle Bells” have been covered by many but his telling of Old Christmas Card and “C.H.R.I.S.T.M.A.S” are songs that capture the beauty and meaning of the season. His version of “Oh Come, All Ye Faithful’ is among the best I’ve heard anyone sing it.

Ian Mitchell – “The Gift” is a rockin’ up beat celebration of Christmas with traditional messages from the season. Starting right off with “I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday” there’s several guests appearing on the CD. “White Christmas” gets a “sitting around the piano” feel while “Amazing Grace” and “Oh Holy Night” are incredible renditions. “Coz It’s Christmas” and “Feliz Navidad” will get the toes tapping. There’s a bonus for New Year with “Auld Lang Syne.” This CD was recorded to help build a church, and there is good music for helping. For those who think the name sounds familiar – Ian was part of Rosetta Stone and, before that, the 1970s band the Bay City Rollers. This is an outstanding Christmas CD that shows the talent that has always been there.

Reba McEntire’s “Merry Christmas To You” delivers some traditional classics in a way that only Reba can deliver along with a few ‘new’ ones that for me are uniquely Reba’s. One of these is “On This Day” which sets the Christmas story to music. “The Christmas Guest” is a highlight reminder not all is as it seems. Another highlight is “Happy Birthday Jesus (I’ll Open This One Just For You)” where it’s a light hearted look at the meaning of the season. Traditional favorites like “White Christmas,” “I’ll Be Home For Christmas” and “Silent Night” are treats as is the Christmas Letter of wanting what we can’t seem to have.

Garth Brooks – Beyond The Season offers some outstanding music as well as the message of the season, Christmas stories and tradition. Some highlights – “The Gift,” “Friendly Beasts” and “Mary’s Dream.” This is an older CD and may take some effort to find but is worth the effort!

George Strait “Merry Christmas Strait To You” has highlights of “There’s a New Kid In Town” “For Christ’s Sake, It’s Christmas” and “What a Merry Christmas This Could Be.” There’s covers of “Winter Wonderland and “Frosty The Snowman” and a distinctly George Strait sound on “Merry Christmas Strait To You.” A nice collection of Christmas music that includes the light hearted “When It’s Christmas Time in Texas.” Worth a listen!

The Carpenters Christmas Portrait is an oldie but is worth another listen. Classic sounds, classic songs, deep in tradition it brings up memories of the Christmas specials they once did in the mid ’70s. It also brings forth Karen Carpenter’s beautiful voice, silenced far too soon, for those who remember her and introduces her to those who haven’t heard her. Along with several unique adaptations of traditional favorites such as “Sleigh Ride” “Christmas Song” and ‘O Holy Night” it’s this album we first heard Karen’s classic rendition of “Merry Christmas Darling” – a song that for me will always be hers alone.

Sawyer Brown “Hallelujah He Is Born” is just fun. While a serious message in many of the songs, fitting of the season. “Sweet Mary Cried,” “Where Christmas Goes,” “Christmas All year Long” and “He Sent A Carpenter” are songs that pay tribute to the holiday with a distinct Sawyer Brown sound. Too often overlooked these guys are an incredible talent and this cd highlights it at their finest. This isn’t just a good Christmas cd – it’s a good cd period.

Kenny Rogers has a few Christmas CD offerings but “The Gift” is a favorite. There’s a montage of familiar favorites but a list of unique songs like “Pretty Little Baby Child” “I Trust You” and “It’s The Messiah.” This is the CD that highlights with Wynonna “Mary, Did You Know?” and a powerful song “A Soldier’s King”. He’s a legend for a reason and this CD highlights a reason why.

Randy TravisOld Time Christmas” is another older CD but it has held up as a solid CD. “Old Time Christmas” “White Christmas Makes Me Blue” and “Pretty Paper” get the Randy Travis treatment and sound so good. Other highlights include “Oh, What a Silent Night” and “How Do I Wrap My Heart Up For Christmas.”

Alabama’s Christmas CD is rich in the tones of the legendary band Alabama in songs like “Santa Claus (I Still Believe),” “Joseph and Mary’s Boy,” “Christmas Memories,” “Tonight Is Christmas” and the tale of “Thistlehair the Christmas Bear.” It is the CD that holds the memorable Alabama songs “Tennessee Christmas” and “Christmas in Dixie.”

These offer some outstanding performances of Christmas songs without being the same songs. Many have released Christmas CDs but these are favorites for the songs, the performances, the memories.

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