Wednesday, December 25, 2013

A few of my favorite things!

This Christmas has been different than any other Christmas I have ever celebrated.  I started off  the season in a funk because of the fairly new budget we are on.  I was struggling hard with the fact we were paying cash for everything, and I was stressed that due to this fact I was literally not done with my shopping until December 23rd.  (Usually I am done before November 1st!)  

After taking the commercialization out of Christmas, I was forced to look for the deeper meaning of the season, and believe it or not, I found myself.  (Somewhere between a little bit of eggnog and a Christmas tree that would rival Charlie Brown's tree.) 

I got caught up in the small miracles that made this holiday one to remember, and it was beautiful!  These were a few of my favorite things:

 This little Charlie Brown-esque tree caused quite the argument between The Reluctant Farmer and I .  She wanted our usual tree, big and beautiful.  I didn't trust myself to put up a big tree for fear that I would stuff a bunch of expensive gifts under it.  This little tree reminded me to simplify, and made staying on budget much easier. 

I wait on these buckeyes every year, they are the next best thing to Heaven.  A co-worker knows I love them so much.  I am so blessed that she thinks of me every year and always saves 2-3 just for me!  

Even though we were on a budget, we were still able to donate to less fortunate folks.  I am forever grateful for the opportunities I had to serve others this holiday season.  This is what the true meaning of Christmas is about!

Katzya performed in her first play.  She joined the Tipp City Players for a performance of A Charlie Brown Christmas.  It was adorable, and really drove home the reminder that the season of Christmas was not about commercialization.  

I was able to attend my nephew Isaac's first school play, and I was the proudest Aunt in the all the audience!  (He is the redhead in the red shirt in the center of the screen...)  There is nothing cuter than a bunch of kids singing carols.  When you watch the innocence and faith on the faces of these little people, it is refreshing to the soul...  

The Reluctant Farmer made Christmas sweaters for Esa and Fat Tina, since we were on a budget and couldn't buy sweaters.  They were so cute, and I was in awe of her talent!

We started a new family tradition: Bingo!  The Reluctant Farmer and I won 5 rounds, making the rest of the folks a bit jealous, so I am not sure but they might be plotting their revenge for next year.... 

This cookie was made by my niece Katelinn.  She and her sister had just taken a cookie decorating class, and brought these cookies to our family gathering.  It was so cute that I couldn't bring myself to eat it!

The one event that drives home Christmas for me every year is the candle light service at church.  There is nothing like 400+ people singing Silent Night in unison to put you in the Christmas spirit.  This year I went with my sister for her first service, and it was something I will cherish forver!

Due to our budget many of my Christmas gifts were handmade.  How blessed am I, just look at this fabulous stuff!

 The Reluctant Farmer made me this awesome alpaca/wool blend hat.  

I got the cutest bag made out of an old sweater!

And the most touching gift?!  My daughter drew this zebra, freehand, and then pained it.  I am in shock over this painting.  It is beautiful!  She is so talented!  (I think she gets that talent from her father.) 

I started this holiday with a little less zest than normal, and minus the Charlie Brown tree, I pray I can relish in the simple things of the season again.  (The Reluctant Farmer has already warned me that next year her big tree is back.)  I now realize that with out the commercialization of Christmas, this holiday went by beautifully slow and I was able to savor more of the season than ever before.

I hope you were just as blessed this year!

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Merry Christmas!

Sending you and yours, a Merry Christmas and a happy "Howliday"!

Emily, the Reluctant Farmer, Katzya and the rest of the herd....

Monday, December 23, 2013

Flood 2013

Canal Rd. is here somewhere!

We received a ton of rain here this weekend!  (5 inches to be exact...)  That doesn't sound like a lot of rain, but when you mix in the fact that we had 8 inches of snow melting on top of that, it has made for a very wet weekend.  Our rivers and streams are all at max capacity and most have peaked, causing massive flooding all throughout the surrounding area, and a lot of road closures making it difficult to get around.  We personally didn't have any water issues, minus 2 inches of water in the basement and a few raised vegetable beds that were under water.  Our neighbors though, were not that fortunate....  Their backyard looks like a pond, and is deep enough that I can kayak around their backyard.

The Reluctant Farmer and I did venture out with our friend Julie for a little shopping this afternoon, and on the way home we had to reroute because of the water.  We were going to take Canal Rd. home, but decided against it when we realized there was no road anymore!

This is not the normal type of precipitation we expect this time of year!  And I don't know why, but snow is not scary in the least to me.  Water in the other hand?!  Scares me to death!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Ducks, Homosexuality, and Jesus....

Last night as I was scanning my Facebook news feed when I saw a link that said:  “Duck Dynasty Patriarch Slams Homosexuality!”  I clicked on the link, started reading the article, looked over at my dog and remarked: “Oh,Tina…  This is going to be a media shit storm.”  Tina promptly turned around three times, and went back to sleep as I headed over to GQ’s website to read the actual interview that started the mayhem.  I knew when I awoken this morning there was going to be a lot of talk about this situation.  What a psychic revelation that was! 

I had a night to sleep on Phil Robertson’s interview before I could write about the subject, and reveal that Phil and I have a lot in common.  Now, I know people are wondering, what does an openly gay, opinionated, farmer have in common with a Bible thumping , camouflage wearing, man from the south?  You see, at first glance it would appear that Phil and I have no common ground.  However, we each have our own morals, and our own ethics.   We each love our family dearly, work hard, and enjoy nature.  But the biggest thing Phil and I have in common?  Phil is my brother, by the same Father.  Phil and I serve the same God.

In the original interview, Phil was asked:  “What in your mind, is sinful?”
Phil replies:  “Start with homosexual behavior and just morph out from there.  Beastiality, sleeping around with this woman and that woman and those men.” 

This statement isn't offensive to me because Phil was asked for his opinion on what was sinful in his eyes.  He didn't just outwardly blast the gay community.  I know as a lesbian in a committed relationship, I am not sleeping around with anyone or anything else.  I don’t have to justify that to Phil or anyone else for that matter.  Truthfully, it sounds to me like Phil really doesn't like people who sleep with animals and people that are promiscuous.  And you know what?  I have to agree with Phil!  I don’t agree with either of those things either.
The part that hurt me the most is how the media portrayed Phil as a homosexual hating, monster.  Quoting the above quote over and over, but never mentioning the quote afterwards. 

The quote read:  “We never judge someone on who’s going to heaven, hell.  That’s the Almighty’s job.  We just love ‘em, give ‘em the good news about Jesus- whether they’re homosexuals, drunks, terrorists.  We let God sort ‘em out later, you see what I’m saying?”

Yes, Phil.  I understand what you are saying and I couldn't agree more.  It is the Lord’s job to judge me.  He is the only person whose opinion truly matters in the end, and I believe He created me to be a vessel of His love.  I have known I was gay since I was 5 years old.  I have to think that God knew exactly what He was doing when He created me.  If He had wanted me to be a heterosexual, then He would have created me to be a heterosexual.  Perhaps He created me to be gay, so we could learn from each other…

As I look through the rift that this media frenzy has evoked, the hatred and judgment that everyone is so quick to pass, I ask you to ponder this…. 

Not once in the Bible does God ask his Christian followers to choose between their compassion and their faith in the Bible.  In fact compassion for others is the fundamental principle that Christianity is built on, and the Bible is the concrete of our faith. 

It saddens me as I watch so called Christians bash their brothers and sisters, stating their actions and words are justified because they have “no choice but to act or believe a certain way because the Bible says so.”  No, it doesn't.  The word homosexual was not added to the English language until 1842, and did not appear in an English version of a Bible until 1946.  What does that mean exactly?  It means that the Bible passages were written about same-sex acts between heterosexual people, not committed gay couples, because the concept of homosexuality didn't even exist when the Bible was written.  (We do know that the Bible condemns promiscuous, excessive, predatory and sex outside of marriage in the heterosexual realm, and can assume God would expect His homosexual children to honor the same set of rules. )  Those are the rules I choose to live by and base my relationship on.

I wasn't upset about Phil’s stance on homosexuality.  I’m not upset because even though Phil and I may not agree on every subject, I respect he has the right to his opinions and beliefs, and I honor him as a child of our Father.  Therefore, I ask you before you judge another human being, to remember this Bible verse: And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them.  Luke 6:31  We can trust that we should take God, in this matter and in all matters, at His word.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Buddy's Blueberry Pumpkin Dog Treats

The benefit of pumpkin and blueberries in our diet is undeniable, but did you know these super fruits offer the same benefits to the family dog?  Pumpkin is great for your dog's digestive health, aiding in constipation and diarrhea, where blueberries are a super food, chock full of anti-oxidants while helping to protect against cancer and cardiovascular disease.    

We were blessed with an abundance of these fruits this year On the Urban Farm, and we have been adding these to our dog's diet in the form of these amazing dog treats that we've created.  

From our kitchen to yours, we hope you and your furry friends enjoy!  Please feel free to share on Facebook and Pinterest, and of course let us know how your dogs like them.

XOXO,  Emily and The Reluctant Farmer 

Blueberry Pumpkin Dog Treats

1 c. plain applesauce
1 c. fresh pumpkin (use canned if fresh is not available....)
4 c. whole wheat flour
1 c. flax seed meal
50 fresh blueberries (use frozen if fresh is not available...)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Combine the pumpkin and applesauce in a large mixing bowl and stir well.  Once the pumpkin and applesauce is well blended , stir in the flour and flax seed meal.  Work the dough with your hands until all 4 ingredients are well mixed, and then roll out to a 1/2" thickness.  

Cut treats in 1" x 1" squares and place them 1" apart on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.  With your finger push straight down in the center of the square and form a divot.  Place a blueberry in the divot and bake for 25 minutes.  After 25 minutes, flip the treat over and bake for an additional 25 minutes on the opposite side.  

Remove from the oven and allow treats to cool for 7 minutes before removing from the parchment paper.  (If the treats are not allowed to cool, the blueberries fall out of the center of the treats!)  Remember, because there are no preservatives in these treats, store in an air tight container for up to one week.  Freeze if going to keep for a longer period.  


Thursday, December 12, 2013

Be Our Guest

Freedom Ride!
Last Friday I was surfing the internet when I cam across a picture of a senior Italian Greyhound that was in our local animal shelter.  It broke my heart.  If you know this breed, you know they are absolute creatures of comfort.  They love to be warm, curl up under blankets at your feet, and snuggle so close to you that they nearly will share your sweatshirt with you if allowed.  Italian Greyhounds don't belong at shelters, they belong in beds and on couches.

I immediately posted a plea for a rescue to step up and and graciously I got a return phone call from Italian Greyhound Club of America Rescue of Ohio, but informed them that I had received word that the boy was being pulled by another rescue.  We agreed to keep an eye on Shamu, and wait for the other rescue to pull him.  Flash forward to Tuesday, the other rescue was still having difficulty pulling Shamu from the shelter, so IGRA of Ohio and our rescue decided it was time to pull him.

We are fostering Shamu until rescue can pick him up this weekend, and I forgot just how delightful this breed of dog is.  Shamu is the perfect house guest and is everything an Italian Greyhound should be.  He likes the couch, the most plush dog beds, sweaters, and crosses his front legs and "frogs" his back legs when he lays down.  We are happy that we could pull out our old martingale collar and help this delightful boy.  It has been a pleasure to have him as our guest for the week.

We stole this jacket off a dachshund, who has not forgiven us yet....

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

DL: Remember to Look Around You

Please check out my latest article for Dayton Local and remember to to notice the people that surround you this holiday season, for the Lord said:  "Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me."

Monday, December 9, 2013

Behold the Cuteness!

Last Wednesday I went to work with an extra pep in my step.  I was so excited, and I wanted that 8 hour work day to be over so quick, because I could not wait to get home and see my new babies!

We currently have a flock of 8 laying hens that I am getting ready to retire to The Remy Homestead where they will live out the remainder of their years, free ranging with a bigger flock of hens.  Replacing them will be 16 new babies that will hopefully be laying in the spring.  (I will not be keeping this many, but there was a 15 bird minimum and you never know what may or may not live...) 

This is the first time I have raised late early fall chicks, and here is my thought on why this is a good idea....

Chickens stop laying in the winter, or significantly slow down production, and because my flock is not a free ranging flock (They have a backyard time share agreement with the dogs...), I go through a lot of feed for no return in the colder months.  If I feed chicks instead of full size hens, they don't eat as much food and they wouldn't be ready to start laying until the days got a little longer anyways.  This means (I hope...) that they will be ready to lay in the spring as soon as it warms up.  Eureka, am I smart farmer or what?!  

Behold the cuteness!  

Friday, December 6, 2013

Muddy Paws Be Gone!

As "The White Death" creeps in among us, I have only one thought...

If you are not excited about the 5" of snow on the ground, then you obviously don't have big dogs!

5" of snow is the only way my mud room has had a break in the last 3 weeks....

Woo hoo for frozen ground and NO muddy feet!  

Thursday, December 5, 2013

The Milk and Bread Will Save Us All

Facing the snowstorm head on and securing my future through all things dairy!
Due to the fact that we have been on a budget as of late, we do all of our grocery shopping on Thursday night or Friday when we get our weekly allowance.  I realized we were out of milk last night, and thought I would just pick some up on my way home from work.  As they were announcing a winter weather emergency overhead at work every hour today, I realized the error of my preparedness.  You see, we are bracing for the "white death" here in Ohio, and this was the wrong time to be at the grocery store!

What is the "white death" you ask?!  The "white death" is when the people of Ohio hear the word snow and loose their mind!  I am unsure why this is, after all we do live in Ohio and snow happens here year after year.  However, they have already started canceling schools for tomorrow, the salt trucks are already on the road, and the grocery stores are flooded with people buying the last loaf of bread and gallon of milk.  Keep in mind, the first snowflake is not even on the ground yet!  Also keep in mind that with the amount of snow we get we are never out of commission for more than 2 days, maximum.  Yet, we flock in droves to secure our gallon of milk and bread much like we did during the 1999 Christmas season when Walmart was getting their latest shipment of Tickle-Me-Elmo's delivered.  This rush is driven by fear, and it's a homage we are serious about.

And, where was I tonight?!  Stuck right in the middle of all the crazies getting their milk and bread rations.  Thank goodness there was plenty of milk to go around for everyone, and no one had to be turned away empty handed.  I'm not 100% sure, but I have a hunch we are going to survive the 6-8" of snow just fine....  

The boy stocking this cooler said he had to refill it three times per hour tonight....

Monday, December 2, 2013

Isn't she lovely?!

Last week our stove suffered a tragic death, a death with the dramatic flair of a drag queen who had just suffered a broken nail.  There was fire, billowing smoke, and pizza rolls.  (No worry folks, the pizza rolls faired just fine.  The Reluctant Farmer was able to rescue them via spatula and land them safely onto a plate in record time!)

What wasn't fairing well was The Reluctant Farmer....

You see, The Reluctant Farmer does most of our cooking and where we try to be self sufficient, the bottom line is:  we aren't.  At least, not where the stove is involved.  She needed a stove STAT!

Due to our "monetray diet" we looked at used stoves and free stoves, but finally after 3 trips to the appliance store we broke down and purchased a brand new stove.  We were able to pick the stove up tonight, in the rain of course, and bring it home.  I was so excited for The Reluctant Farmer to see this shiny, new beauty when she got home from work.  But, as soon as The Reluctant Farmer came through the door tonight, I realized our relationship had changed.

Instead of hearing: "Hi!  How was your day?!"  I heard:  "Oh!  Look how pretty it is!," in a high pitched voice usually reserved for puppies and babies.  In fact there was no hello, thank you, or any greeting at all.  And as I am getting ready to go to bed, my old girlfriend and her current lover are busy frying an egg.

It is evident that I have been replaced by someone prettier, but just as white....