Fresh Rhubarb Pies
The rhubarb patch is lush and ready to pick–it must be spring. I spent the morning baking two fresh rhubarb pies for Sunday dinner. These golden brown, sugar-topped pies are tempting me as they cool on the counter–but good things come to those who wait!
[STRAW BALE WITH ZUCHINNI PLANTS, ABOVE]
Breaking ground and preparing the garden beds for planting is on my mind in April. I will be expanding my straw bale gardening this season as last year the results were very positive. My bales produced plenty of zuchinni and even three picnic-sized watermelons. This year I want to plant my tomatoes in bales as well and set out bales in a space in my Grandma’s Garden enclosure to utilize a new spot.
I love the bales because they naturally decompose over the season and are terrific compost for my earth beds. Also, my seeds grow but weeds do not as the bales contain no weed seeds. Heaven!!! That is why I am putting 3 bales in the tomato bed right on top of the soil. No weeds to worry about; just tomato plants.
The hardest part of gardening is breaking ground in the spring. Turning the soil and cultivating it for planting is tough work but breaking new ground through sod and clay is harder. With bales, I just set them where I want. Instant raised bed!!!
To prepare straw bales for planting, put them out now before it is time to plant warm weather seeds and starts. Dose them with nitrogen-rich fertilizer to begin the decomposing process. I also like to add a little good potting soil to the top. Ruffle the top of the bales to receive the fertilizer and soil. Then let the spring rain do its work. By May, the bales will be ready to plant. The internal temperature of the bales will also be higher than the spring ground as decomposition takes place, which encourages new seeds and plants to thrive.
I am fortunate to have neighbors who sell straw bales on their farm. This week, I am paying them a call to pick up about 7 bales. The trip to her farm to pet the dog and cats and visit her straw storage shed is part of the fun.
CORN CRIB HOUSE
Old Towne Grove Chapel, Groveland, Illinois
Interior, Old Towne Grove Chapel
Life can change suddenly. We are still in transition since my father’s death in so many areas. The property he left behind became an immediate concern. His estate included a house, 2-story double garage and workshop, old machine shed, chicken house, a storage building turned into a large wedding chapel, a corn crib turned into a house, and the small wedding chapel. Although we are still working with appraisers, surveyors, legal representation, the health department, the zoning department, the road commissioner, and the taxing commission, we are getting close to legally dividing dad’s property between my younger brother and myself. We are soon to become the proud parents of the two chapels and the corn crib house.
With ownership comes much responsibility. We must wait until April to meet with the zoning commission to find if they will approve a special use permit so that the chapels can continue to be used for small weddings. With new ownership comes new permits. Then comes the work of doing needed maintenance. We also would like to update the interior of the large chapel. So it is that this transition will probably take many more months before it is complete…and then the maintenance for so many buildings is ongoing. With ownership comes work.
In order to divide the property, zoning informed us that we could not just draw a line down the middle of the old machine shed. In order to have the required 5-feet set back on each property line, we had to dismantle the middle of the shed creating two sheds out of one with a large space in the middle. That demo is done but our end now needs a new wall and much interior work to make it useable as a storage shed. Our son Dirk is invaluable in that regard; we could not handle these projects without him. Together, dad and son already filled a Bubba Dump with debris from the shed. Now the re-building begins.
So it is that our lives at Farm Grove are suddenly much more extensive as far as our responsibility is concerned. But we love our home and we love the chapels that my father created. The small chapel and corn crib properties border our own land. Like adopted children, they are as dear to us as our own creation. We will take care of them with love.
Babydoll Southdown Lamb
I keep telling myself I do not need any critter responsibilities. But my fantasy farm, the one in my fertile imagination, always includes lambs and chickens, with perhaps a cat or two.
A recent issue of Country Garden magazine had a picture of a Babydoll Southdown lamb on the cover wearing a cornflower blue ribbon around its neck. The owners kept two babydolls to trim the grass and eat the weeds in their garden. How idyllic does that sound!
Babydolls are smaller than your usual sheep and are known for their teddy bear face. Out of curiosity I googled the average cost. For a ewe it is about $400. They must also be sheared once a year. Great, I thought. Lots of wool for pillows and needle felting projects! In my saner moments I know caring for sheep requires the right fences and pens and is more demanding and expensive than owning a cat or dog. After losing our last cat, Misty, I said to self–no more cats. What am I thinking? But just look at that face.
How about chickens? Chickens can be free-range. They provide fresh eggs. They are decorative as well as useful. Just put them up at night and protect from predators. I know there is more to it than that because my grandmother kept chickens and they were a lot of work. Plus, my husband despises chickens. His dislike goes back to having to gather eggs for his grandmother, who also kept chickens. Who didn’t in those days of farm families… He said they pooped and pecked. I cannot deny that they do. I told him chickens must be socialized so they do not peck. He looked at me strangely.
So I guess my mini Eden in the back yard will have to do with visiting Canada geese, migrating ducks, and about 6 muskrats in the pond. The upside? They feed themselves.
Cat and Chickens
The Tomb Opening Behind Us
After an autumn trip to Israel, the land to which Christ will return in glory, I set my hand to finishing a forty-year commitment. I began teaching prophecy in my early 20’s and have probably taught the Revelation a hundred times to study groups and audiences. After a winter previewing the resulting commentary to select study groups, I took advantage of the excellent resources of Amazon and put it into print. “When the Lamb Stands – A Handbook for the Study of Revelation” is now available in print on Amazon or in the Kindle digital store.
This 82-page complete commentary is available for $10 and is an excellent resource for a private or group study of the last book of the Bible, the book that resolves all things and opens the door of mysteries.
“When the Lamb Stands” is an exciting look at the Second Coming of Christ to judge a Christ-rejecting world and to establish His earthly Millennial Kingdom. The mysteries of this prophetic book are unlocked according to the promises of the prophet Daniel in chapter 12 and are literally revealed in their future intensity.
The Rapture/Resurrection of the Church of Christ, the Bride, is imminent, a truth which brings hope to the present-day remnant. The closer we are to the Second Coming, even so we are nearer to the blessed hope [Titus 2:13]. As we see the signs of the times increasing in frequency and intensity [Matthew 24:8], we are to look up and lift up our heads with anticipation because we know our redemption from the earth is drawing near [Luke 21:28]. How can we not read this book with excitement?
But more than a blessing to the Church and the hope of the saved, the Revelation is the revealing of Jesus Christ in the fullness of His glory. To honor Christ for all of who He is cannot be accomplished without the truths and final words of this awesome book of His story. A blessing is given in chapter 1 for those who read it, hear it, and do it…become that blessing.
Are you an introvert? Do you find your energy renewed in solitude? I am an introvert with learned extrovert capabilities, as my daughter defined it. Life necessitates participation. Like the picture above, my world is not confined to one emotional location. There are several paths I choose to walk but the word “private” is on the gate. Companionship tends to be by invitation–not because I do not value friends. Only because my ability to be the kind of friend they deserve is limited by the number of paths I have the energy to travel. As we enter 2017, thank you dear friends for walking paths with me. I do not take your presence for granted.
To combat the darker days of January, I am leaving out strands of LED seed lights and burning more candles. Now all I need is a cup of coffee and The Gilmore Girls original series on NETFLIX. We are on Season 4. HAPPY NEW 2017 DEAR FRIENDS AND FAMILY! We are living in exciting times.