For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh, a time to mourn, and a time to dance, a time to throw away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; a time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to throw away; a time to tear, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; a time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace.
The website looks like it is a bit behind the times, or untended. Tis true, but this summer has turned some unexpected corners, and we are just now coming up for air. Far too many people have been sick, and we have attended far too many funerals in the last month and a half. In the last few years, too, Bill and I have sat at far too many bedsides of family members and friends and waited and wondered how many more weeks or days or hours or breaths will he or she have until he or she goes home to God. It is a vigil that becomes introspective as well as an accompaniment. And on the immediate horizon, at least three more friends and family members are preparing to do the same. It is a sobering thought when one loses so many folks so close together and one begins to consider one’s own mortality. I have been consistently comforted by a passage from Paul’s letter to the Corinthians though:
We know that when the earthly tent in which we dwell is destroyed we have a dwelling provided for us by God, a dwelling in the heavens, not made by hands but to last forever. We groan while we are here, even as we yearn to have our heavenly habitation envelop us. This it will, provided we are found clothed and not naked. While we live in our present tent, we groan; we are weighed down because we do not wish to be stripped naked, but rather to have the heavenly dwelling envelop us, so that what is mortal may be absorbed by life. God has fashioned us for this very thing and given us the Spirit as a pledge of it.
2 Cor. 5:1-5
On the garden front, everything is overgrown and in need of much care and pruning. Our compost piles have gotten quite rich this season, since so much food either found its way to the local food pantry or to the compost piles rather than the canning jars. I made a few batches of peach preserves before the funerals started, but much of the peach crop also enriched our composts this year. We had a few pears, and the apples will be ready to pick soon. We still have tomatoes coming in, and the beans and the squashes and horseradish are ready to be harvested. The elderberry bushes are loaded this year, but time will tell if I can get to making the jelly before the birds get to them, now that school is back in session.
The goats are doing fine. We sold a few to a large farm and then sold the two Nubian babies to a wonderful woman on the Cape who really just wanted them for pets. Little Joe and Lucky left about a month ago for very greener pastures. They will be spoiled with their new owner. Tomorrow another man is coming to look at three of the Saanen doelings, since he wants to increase his doe herd for more milkers next year. I am just as happy the babies are finding good homes. I may keep Sunny, the last doeling that was born, but we were getting too many to handle with the amount of time we have. A half dozen is a good number for us. In another month, we will try breeding Bernadette once more with Malachi (Cape woman may be interested in a few more next year) and if we can find a Saanen Buck, we may try to breed Sky Dancer again.
She was such an abundant milker her first kidding, it would be great to have an abundance of fresh goat’s milk next spring. The laying hens are doing fine, and we picked up 15 meat birds about three weeks ago, and they are growing like crazy. These chickens are bred specifically to grow faster and larger, so in another couple months, certainly before the snow flies, they will be in our freezer for the winter months.
Bill’s Dad was one of the funerals this past month and it will take us quite a while to adjust to life without him. He went home to God on August 23rd at age 95. He had lived either with us or next door to us almost our entire married lives, and we chalked up 44 of those years last month. For Bill, it will be even worse. Outside of college, dental school and the Army, he has lived with his Dad for his entire life. Bill’s Dad and Mom were depression era folks, so they saved absolutely everything . . . even the cardboard cartons from TV dinners he had been eating the past few months . . . “you never know if you could use them for something” was sort of the mantra for folks who lived through those very lean years in the 30s and 40s. H is with God now and united once more with his beloved Yvonne (they were married 69 years before she passed), and we will him both of them. Their huge 5-bedroom home with 2-car garage, 2 sheds and 3 lofts have been jam packed with “stuff” they accumulated over the years, and which we are now trying to empty. It is going to take a while.
Autumn is usually my favorite season, but it seems it is just coming and we are barely prepared to notice or enjoy it. I hope as the season sets in and we continue to empty the house next door, we can empty some of our sadness as well, and begin to savor the canopy of color that is about to settle in above us, around us and through us. May we continue to give praise to him who is always our Alpha and our Omega, our beginning and our end, and the love of our lives. Praise God!
Summer has finally arrived! And while mucking out goat sheds when it is hot and humid is not pleasant, all the baby goats have now been born, and they are settling into their summer routines, including sitting under the huge pine tree in their yard and letting all that lovely pine pitch get all over their nice white fur before they rub it into the dust. This has been a dry summer, with little rain even though we got one day of heavy rain last week. Our last pregnant Saanen, Beatrice, finally kidded on a Wednesday, July 9th, and the grandchildren decided to call these two little doelings, Sunny and Scully, with Scully having something to do with “Jake and the Neverland Pirates”? They are precious!
We’ve had our first cook-out on the 4thof July, and the following day, got to see our very own fireworks from the comfort of our living room! Our neighbor across the street put on this amazing show, and we had front row seats!
Last week, both Bill and I also went to visit friends who live on the water. We each tried our hand at “jet-skiing” and then enjoyed some wonderful rowing and swimming and great company before a fabulous dinner of vino, stuffed clams, Asian noodles, homemade coleslaw and nectarine pie. Yum-yum! The garden is coming in one crop at a time now and we are savoring fresh blueberries every day now, and lots of fresh cabbage and sugar snap peas for those tasty coleslaws. The turnips and broccoli are in and beets are now ready and I started harvesting some of those yesterday. My sister-in-law, who hails from Russia, gave me a good recipe for those freshly shredded beats: just add one shredded Granny Smith apple and a little mayonnaise, and presto! You have a summer salad fit for a king!
One of our granddaughters from Virginia arrived yesterday (aged 7) and she will be with us for the next three weeks. It is such a treat to have the time to spend with her as she grows up. She loves the animals and is a big help feeding the goats and the dogs and collecting the eggs. Next week, Stripes will be ready to wean, so we will be able to start milking Maggie, her mom, one of our Saanens, and start getting some of that fresh goat’s milk. Bill is already thinking of what type of cheese to make. We had a buyer looking at Lucky today, too. Lucky is one of our baby Nubian goats who was born last March. They are definitely interested and will probably take her mid-August , which may mean we can try milking her mom, Bernadette, too, who is also Nubian. And by Labor Day, Beatrice should be ready to wean her babies, Sunny and Scully, so we may have three goats in milk come the fall. I may finally get the chance to start soap making!
School is out, but summer is usually a time for reading and reflecting and more research, and this year seems to be especially busy with some extra reading for a research project that is developing. Our church choir is also in the final stretch of making a CD that should be ready by early fall, too, so there are lots of activities accompanying the usual summer harvest. Within a few weeks, the orchard should start coming in with peaches and pears up first, and the tomatoes will soon be turning red. After that, it is almost non-stop canning until school starts. It will be extra fun this year with our Virginia granddaughter and our other two local granddaughters who are about the same age, helping with the cooking and canning. They are a joy in the kitchen! I rejoined the YMCA for more swimming this year, and I am thoroughly enjoying the special excursions to the lake or beach or the “Y” pool for swimming.
Everyone seems to be in their “summer mode” now, and visiting relatives and relaxing with cook-outs and fun on the water, riding bikes and savoring the long hours of outdoor sunlight. Cool breezes every night have scared away most of the mosquitos, too, so evenings have been especially pleasant. A favorite past-time of mine lately is one I used to do as a child: just lay back and watch the clouds! Did you ever imagine different animal shapes of clouds when you were a kid?
It’s a great activity to do with one’s children or grandchildren, costly absolutely nothing, and feeds our imagination. God has given us such a wonderful world to enjoy! Happy cloud-gazing!!