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If Only…Ag in the Bible

December 21, 2014

saddleback-pomeranian-geese-poultryshowcentralcom“There was once a man who didn’t believe in God, and he didn’t  hesitate to let others know how he felt about religion and religious holidays. His wife, however, did believe, and she raised their children  to also have faith in God and Jesus, despite his disparaging comments.

One snowy eve, his wife was taking their children to service in  the farm community in which they lived. They were to talk about Jesus’  birth. She asked him to come, but he refused. “That story is  nonsense!” he said. “Why would God lower Himself to come to Earth as a  man? That’s ridiculous!”  So she and the children left, and he stayed  home.

A while later, the winds grew stronger and the snow turned into a blizzard. As the man looked out the window, all he saw was a  blinding snowstorm. He sat down to relax before the fire for the evening.  Then he heard a loud thump. Something had hit the window. He looked out,  but couldn’t see more than a few feet.

When the snow let up a little,  he ventured outside to see what could have been beating on his window. In the  field near his house he saw a flock of wild geese. Apparently they had been  flying south for the winter when they got caught in the snowstorm and  couldn’t go on. They were lost and stranded on his farm, with no food or  shelter. They just flapped their wings and flew around the field in low  circles, blindly and aimlessly. A couple of them had flown into his window,  it seemed. The man felt sorry for the geese and wanted to help them. The  barn would be a great place for them to stay, he thought. It’s warm and  safe; surely they could spend the night and wait out the storm. So he  walked over to the barn and opened the doors wide, then watched and  waited, hoping they would notice the open barn and go inside. But the  geese just fluttered around aimlessly and didn’t seem to notice the barn  or realize what it could mean for them. The man tried to get their attention,  but that just seemed to scare them, and they moved further away. He went into  the house and came with some bread, broke it up, and made a bread crumb  trail leading to the barn. They still didn’t catch on.

Now he was  getting frustrated. He got behind them and tried to shoo them toward the  barn, but they only got more scared and scattered in every direction except  toward the barn. Nothing he did could get them to go into the barn where they  would be warm and safe. “Why don’t they follow me?!” he exclaimed.  “Can’t they see this is the only place where they can survive the storm?”  He thought for a moment and realized that they just wouldn’t follow  a human. “If only I were a goose, then I could save them,” he said out loud.

Then he had an idea. He went into barn, got one of his own  geese, and carried it in his arms as he circled around behind the flock of  wild geese. He then released it. His goose flew through the flock and straight into the barn — and one-by-one, the other geese followed  it to safety. He stood silently for a moment as the words he had  spoken a few minutes earlier replayed in his mind: “If only I were a  goose, then I could save them!” Then he thought about what he had said to his wife earlier. “Why would God want to be like us? That’s ridiculous!”  Suddenly it all made sense. That is what God had done. We were  like the geese–blind, lost, perishing. God had His Son become like us so  He could show us the way and save us.

As the winds and blinding snow  died down, he became quiet and pondered this wonderful thought. Suddenly he  understood why Christ had come. Years of doubt and disbelief vanished with  the passing storm. He fell to his knees in the snow, and prayed his first  prayer:  “Thank You, God, for coming in human form to get me out of the  storm!”

The Meaning of Christmas – Ag in the Bible

December 21, 2014

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe meaning of Christmas is put forth many times when the commercial side of Christmas is brought up. It’s then decried as the commercialism and buying presents spoil the real meaning of Christmas and yet we look for the purchased gift. This leads to thinking that we’ve all missed it. The meaning of Christmas is the story of Christmas – and we’ve already received the best gift. His gift that is reason for the meaning, the joy and hope of the season.

Christmas traditions can mean going home. A family and friends help capture our history, our traditions. The focus however isn’t the wrapped paper gifts under the tree. It’s the smile on someone’s face for a small kindness in passing. It’s telling the Christmas story from the Bible one more time. It’s looking at the years that have passed since then and all those we love. It’s the child born in a manger because there was no room at the inn.

It’s the lessons that we can still forget today. It’s not about money. When you have a bad day think of nearing delivery of a child and it’s a pregnancy with an unusual explanation. You’re riding to a destination, not in a car but on the back of a donkey. There wasn’t even a comfortable bed so, as many do today they found the best thing available which was bedded down in a stable.

There is mystery for some that the shepherds were the first to be notified of His birth. They heard before the kings and powerful people of the day. Could it be that they were awake, they were receptive to the news? Shepherds are, in comparison, past and present a low paying position in a career there isn’t much money.

The shepherds did hear and came to the lowly stable where wise men proclaimed this child was a King. He was the Light of the World. Much as today people scoffed. Perhaps they rejected the news. A King wouldn’t be in such accommodations.

He became a carpenter, and built not just things with wood and nails but words and promises. A kingdom is more than just buildings and things.

Yet when we speak of those in power we say they don’t understand. God delivered His son to the lowest common people among us. People without a great deal of money were the main characters. This is what Christmas means. It’s a gift of forgiveness we don’t deserve. We want our way, not guidance even as children and as adults, in comparison, we’re still children just learn to live by a new set of rules we create.

The meaning of Christmas is giving, sharing, loving. It’s not just one day. Christmas can be – should be – every day. Where does Christmas go? The meaning is every day. It’s in each of us.

That’s the meaning of Christmas. The Christmas story lives.

Holy Hot Peppers – Sweet!

December 19, 2014
The wrinkles on this pepper tell you it's HOT! Use with caution!

The wrinkles on this pepper tell you it’s HOT! Use with caution!

When most people go to the store they see, typically, a few types of peppers. Sweet peppers are the common “California wonder” bell pepper in green, red or yellow, and hot peppers are jalapenos. Sometimes banana peppers are available. The canned food section may have chilis, or dried chili or cayenne peppers.

Most people aren’t aware that there are over 3,000 varieties of hot peppers, and about the same of sweet peppers. The difference is the amount of  capsicum – that’s what makes the hot peppers hot.

Many believe there are medical benefits to the use of peppers in the diet. Peppers are rated by scoville units – the higher the number, the hotter the pepper. A common sweet bell pepper, for example, has under 100 on the scoville rating, while Ed’s Carolina Reaper is the hottest pepper in the world, with over 1.4 million – that’s 440 times hotter than a jalapeno. We’ll have both next year!

Did you know peppers are actually a perennial? If not killed off by cold, they can live and produce multiple years. Many use containers to bring them in during cold weather.

So what other types do we have to start? I’m glad you asked.

For those interested in sweet, or mild, peppers, the heirloom Bull Nose or Beaver dam are nice and not too hot. We’ll also have mini bells again – many are familiar with cherry tomatoes, but less so with the small versions of peppers – we’ll have them in chocolate (from our own saved seed), yellow and red from organic seed. Core, stuff with cream cheese and bacon bits and…yum! Chocolate Beauty, another bell pepper, is also in the seed list as is the common green bell pepper everyone knows and loves.

IMG_20140922_130946We’ll have pepperoncinis, cayenne, pimento and banana hots (from our own seed!). Like something different? Sheepnose pimento, brown maruga, carrot, Peruvian habanero (white), farmer’s market jalapenos (if you love different, you’ll love these!) and Cantina gold are just a few.

There are many types of peppers and varieties within that. For those familiar with dogs this can be breeds and varieties. Ancho or poblano peppers (we’ll have mulato Isleno, for example) are what is commonly used for chiles rellenos, or in mole sauce. They can be dried or ground into a powder. They’re fairly mild peppers, about 1,000 scoville units.

Bell peppers are familiar to most people and can be used fresh or frozen. They’re yummy in mild salsas.

Cayenne peppers are fairly hot, between 30,000 and 50,000 scoville units, and are popular in hot sauces. They’re long, smooth peppers usually 2-3 inches long.

Cherry peppers are round like – you guessed it! – cherries. These are sometimes grown as ornamental plants and are very mild.

Cuban peppers are traditionally fried. The pepperoncini peppers mentioned fall into this group, fairly mild and enjoyed in salads or pickled when not fried.

De Arbol is a small tree like plant, fairly hot, usually ground into powder or used with table sauces or dried as ristras.

red ripe jalapeno pepper

red ripe jalapeno pepper

Jalapenos are familiar to many for the pungent taste.

Mirasolare mild, with a tendency of the peppers to grow up rather than hanging down as so many varieties do.

Nu Mex is often used in Mexican style, and formerly the pod type was called Anaheim, but now that is a variety of the New Mexican pod type. Big Jim is another of this type, sometimes seen in garden catalogs.

Paprika is actually a type of sweet, brilliantly red pepper – Hungarian varieties are one form of this type.

Pasilla is a dark long pepper, while Pimiento are often used fresh, canned or stuffed in olives.

Piquins are small typically hot peppers sometimes grown as ornamental with under one inch pods.

Serranos are said to be the best for fresh salsa.

Squash type peppers are sometimes called tomato peppers – as the name suggest they are flattened pods and are hot peppers.

Wax peppers are often seen as sweet banana or Hungarian yellow wax peppers. One variety, a hybrid called Gold Spike is very hot.

There are also groups called exotic and ornamental peppers, grown for the pod shape rather than eating qualities.

While we won’t have all varieties of peppers, we’ll have a good mix of different types, and dried pepper flakes and powders as well. Love peppers? Get in line for delightful heat or yummy sweet peppers from SlowMoneyFarm – we’ll be starting seeds soon. Be a part of the first time some of these will be offered by us.

There’s only one first!

Can I Get Fresh Food Year Round at SlowMoneyFarm?

December 18, 2014

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThere are many things we can do and some that we can’t do. It’s better to straight up say what we can and can’t do than have misunderstandings. The grocery store has fresh food year round so why don’t we?

The simple answer is the grocery store isn’t growing their food year round in the local area. It’s trucked in from large distances in order to have fresh food in much of the country. Here, if we had extended season hoops, high tunnels and other expensive options, we could raise some fresh food year round but not all, and not enough volume for the number of people available.

With recent changes, we’re focused on making better use of what we do have, and that includes using some floating row covers – plastic “mini greenhouses” that are low to the ground. Early okra, lettuce greens and possibly a few other things will be started this way.

IMG_20141013_113934We will also be starting some peppers, both hot and sweet, in varieties you just can’t get at the store. If you love HOT peppers, or like peppers that are different, stay tuned, or better yet just go get one of the credibles spots. We’ll have over 50 types of peppers, from small white peppers to little tapered purple ones to large chocolate sweet peppers to scorpions and reapers. White, yellow, green, red, orange, chocolate, purple and more, and you won’t want to miss a chance to spice up your dishes. (Stay tuned tomorrow!) Still, this is something that produces in the warm months, in good weather, like most produce.

Traditionally this time of year people ate what was in the root cellar, what was dried during the summer glut or “put up” – canned or frozen – to enjoy year round. Today, the supermarket has those dried, canned and frozen things, eliminating the work of preserving for winter rations. Plants don’t do well in freezing weather, which is much of the country. We had outside plants zapped last month with a cold snap, salvaging some by bringing them inside to try to keep them going.

We can offer fresh meats year round, but chicks this time of year will be kept inside more due to temperatures that will kill them. Newly hatched birds must be kept warm – 90-95* is recommended, decreasing five degrees per week until feathered out. Even then, it’s difficult at best to get late birds raised in the same way as spring birds, but it can be done.

Shorter days with less daylight also affects breeding of animals, including rabbits. Here in a few days, the days begin to get longer again and we’re reminded spring is on the way.

We are working to improve what we can offer fresh, but like most small farms there will be a flush of food in the warmer weather of spring and summer, tapering off until fall and relying on small amounts of fresh and that which was put up for winter use. Savvy shoppers will make use of that summer glut and chop and freeze tomatoes, peppers and other things for the next best thing to fresh eating. Many herbs, such as our rosemary, are dried for use year round. We also dry and crush peppers, and with a little effort have not only pepper flakes but ground pepper – examples of this are paprika (from a certain type of pepper) or ground cayenne pepper.

So while we don’t have an abundance of year round food like the grocery store, we do grow our own and help you maximize what you get from us. Stop back by tomorrow for a brief preview of some of the pepper varieties we have on tap for 2015. Go get your VIP spot with a subscription!

Changes Don’t Wait for the New Year

December 17, 2014

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIn farms, in life sometimes personal and professional life intertwines. Sometimes that’s good, sometimes not so good. Sometimes it just is and takes re-adjustment.

From the beginning bit by bit SlowMoneyFarm has grown – still very small but grown from an idea. We get used to speedbumps. Then comes a pothole. Sink hole. Going forward it’s just me and Connor – Scoutman is bowing out to follow other personal interests. That leaves a gap in income and in skills here, but with support through a major transition we’ll survive. We’ve had the luxury of the last few years being able to expand with outside income. That is now gone.

Merry Christmas! It won’t be this year. It’s all focus on getting the greenhouse up, getting materials for raised beds up, getting fencing up and getting rolling so that we have income. There have been some things happening – listed with Credibles, which is an advanced purchase/investment that gives 10-15% extra to those participating. Also a gofundme was started, but needs some attention to reach goal for the first phase. Of course the website is another option, as is the direct purchase on Facebook.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIt’s overwhelming in a way – there isn’t time to cry and moan about problems. As Brooks & Dunn sing in “Cowgirls Don’t Cry” – ‘ride baby ride’…adapt, dust off, carry on. Mom did it. And there’s a teen watching, participating, learning life lessons of a different kind. From a time I wouldn’t ask for a loaf of bread if the house was empty, it’s a bad time to be too stubborn to ask, and it’s needed for supplies.

We’ll deal with the disconnect notice on the power, and hopefully a year from now will dazzle with a rising from the ashes tale that will have proven to be a speed bump after all and helped others as well. But right now every $25 subscription counts.

An inventory of seeds has been done – 50 types of peppers slated for 2015. Some tomatoes, heirloom corn, squash, greens, pumpkins, herbs…yep all on hand. We need to get materials for the raised beds and hoop greenhouse to have a place to put them. We need to get an incredible amount of things done on a very small amount of money that won’t cover basics, let alone subsistence. So I’ll swallow pride and ask everyone to share this and maybe it will reach enough to make a difference.

Maybe a better Christmas next year. It’s a season of miracles and we need one. He is good all the time, but relies on others to implement.

The Christmas (Music) Spirit

December 16, 2014
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Christmas Traditions – Music, Magic, Love

December 14, 2014

Christmas traditions are often long and linger long past childhood. The Christmas memories can last long after realizing that reindeer don’t fly and Santa isn’t dressed in a red suit.

Still there’s memories of Christmas performances when schools were still allowed to play Christmas songs. In grade school this might start with the youngest and each grade had something to play, sing or act. At the end there was an invitation to sing Jingle Bells when the youngest students would look anxiously at the back doors of the school for Santa to come and disperse candy and oranges to close the evening. More than one suspicious farm kid probably took a peek outside for the reindeer.

Our family always had Christmas Eve at home when we opened presents after a Christmas meal of ham or turkey or, as the family grew, perhaps both. Christmas day was reserved for spending at Mom’s where there were gifts that probably took much more of her time and effort than we realized then.

There was usually snow although the amount varied. One year we saw a tv special about the night the animals talked – as the story went on Christmas eve in thanks for their manger as a bed for the King the animals were given the gift of speech for a limited time. I do recall sneaking out to the barn one year and snuggling in the warmth of the hay to see if Ol’ Joe (pony) or the cows spoke but if they did we never heard it. Maybe they were just shy.

One of the traditions was giving the animals just a little extra feed. Be it the cows or horses or the dogs and cats everyone got an extra treat. Sometimes Christmas carols were on tap sometime during the week as a 4-H or other activity in town.

Traditional Christmas songs as well as some newer ones are still a part of the Christmas tradition. Music reaches through the years and celebrates His birth and the meaning of the season. Christmas church service was one way to pay homage to it.

Another tradition, started when receiving one, was a random phone call to wish someone Merry Christmas. This started with someone unknown in Canada who called one Christmas morning by dialing a random number. Today we’re likely to get a fax machine or other inaccessible number but after a few tries it’s the same surprised voice I had to get a random call from a stranger just to say Merry Christmas. With all the political correctness in the world I hadn’t had anyone offended by it – and not a long ranging conversation but a short call. Sometimes an answering machine took a message.

The real tradition of the holidays is family, friends, love and the celebration of His gifts on Christmas and every day. That’s the best Christmas tradition of all.

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