Master Gardeners Program

PutnamCountyTNMG

Three weeks ago, I started my Master Gardeners class. So far, I’ve learned about the history of the program, soils, and pruning. I have another nine classes to go and 40 hours of service to complete before getting certified as a Master Gardener.

I had a friend a few years ago who took the course in another county and loved it. When we moved to our farm, I really wanted to start growing out own food, so I took a few free classes with the Rutherford County Master Gardeners at the local library. Continue reading

Reducing Our Waste

One of our main goals in living a more sustainable lifestyle is reducing our waste. We’ve started with trying to be more conscious of buying products that reduce packaging. We also try to recycle and reuse as much as possible.

We took a big step this week in getting our compost bin up in the yard. We have a small compost bin for the kitchen that we use for our every day compost (cooking scraps, paper towels, etc.). We empty it into our outdoor compost bin every few days.

We’ve gone from a traditional 13 gallon kitchen trashcan that gets empty every 2-3 days to a smaller 8 gallon trashcan that gets emptied once a week. We’re not at zero waste, but we’ve made a significant improvement, going from over 30 gallons of trash per week to 8 gallons or less.

Like most Americans, we occasionally partake in online shopping, which comes with cardboard boxes, but we can now shred the boxes and add them to our compost.

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Homesteading 101

As we’ve worked on renovating our farm and making plans for the future, our major focus has been to learn to live with less. We’ve spent a lot of our time learning new skills like gardening and upcycling. When we started, we had no idea that what we were doing was homesteading!  Of course, now that we know, it makes Google and Pinterest searches much easier.  😉

I’m pretty sure I’ve read every list out there on the top 10, 12, 15 skills you need to start homesteading, so I wanted to share with you some reasons to homestead and some places to get started.

Once upon a time, homesteading referred to the granting of public lands to families for farming at little to no cost. In recent years, the word has taken on a new meaning and refers to a life of self-sufficiency. There are as many ways to homestead as there are people doing it, but the gist of it is to reduce your footprint and consume less by using your skills to grow, to create, or to recycle what you need to live.

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Stewardship of God’s Creation

I am so often disappointed when I look around the world and see the way we treat God’s creation. When God left us in charge of things, I don’t think God intended for us to abuse his creation. I think God intended for us to love and to care for his creation as God loves and cares for us, which we are most certainly not doing. I have several friends who are in the rescue business, either canines or equines, and their Facebook pages are continuously filled with sad stories of abuse and neglect. Don’t get me wrong. I understand what it means to fall on hard times and have to re-home your pets, but the volume of animal abuse and neglect in our so-called Christian society is in no way consistent with Christian teachings.

I witnessed a disturbing incident on the way to work the other day. I was driving my usual 5 miles over the speed limit when–as always happens–60 miles per hour just wasn’t fast enough for some hotshot in his supped up, lifted Chevy truck. Just as he came barreling around me and the person behind me, a squirrel darted into the road. I can’t be sure, but I would swear that the driver intentionally hit the squirrel, who realized his error in judgment and tried to retreat. The poor squirrel rolled under the big truck tires and was thrown into the other lane. He clearly did not die on impact. It was heartbreaking. I have no great love for squirrels or any other of God’s rodents, but I could never imagine being so callous as to not care that I took a life–any life. Continue reading

The Anglican Society for the Welfare of Animals

A few months ago, I was named the USA Representative for the Anglican Society for the Welfare of Animals (AWSA), whose purpose is getting animals on the agenda of the Christian Church. Founded over 30 years ago, the organization is called to make Christians and others aware of the need to care for the whole of creation, and in particular God’s creatures, and believes that God has given us a responsibility towards sentient beings with whom we share God’s world. Their activities include the following:

  • Encouraging churches to include animal welfare concerns in their prayers.
  • Encouraging and helping churches to hold animal blessing services and to be aware of the need to care for God’s creation.
  • Through education and lawful action, advancing the conservation and well-being of animals.
  • Co-operating with other organizations, religious and secular, that have similar aims.
  • Production of Animalwatch (free to members) containing articles and information about animal welfare issues, interests, and events and providing a means by which the members can share ideas, stories, and concerns.
  • Publishing a series of pamphlets about animal issues, ensuring that materials are balanced and theologically and scientifically sound.
  • Helping to arrange major services and events focusing on animal care.
  • Promoting awareness through exhibitions, meetings, talks and preaching.

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Everything is Sacred

I’ve gotten a lot of questions both on and offline about how all my interests tie together.  How does taking care of a donkey relate to theology?  What does solar-powered lighting have to do with dog training?  How does bargain shopping at Goodwill relate to Christian values?  What does Pampered Chef have to do with farming? The answer to all of those questions is stewardship.

These questions remind me of a story a Lyons Legacy trainer told me about Josh Lyons. Josh was asked not to talk God about one of his events. He told them that it just wasn’t possible to NOT talk about God when he was talking about horse training, because his training abilities were a gift from God. I respect that. Owning your Faith isn’t always easy.  Sometimes people don’t get it.

God has blessed us with a beautiful peace of earth.  God has blessed me with an amazing job.  God has blessed us both with intellect and drive. God made us stewards of 37 acres, two horses, two dogs, a cat, a donkey, and a sizeable income. Being stewards, we don’t “own” any of this. God has honored us with their care. Continue reading

It’s Time to Listen

ListenWell…  President Trump pulled out of the Paris climate change agreement.  Dems/Progressives are ticked off.  I get it.  I do.  When you passionately support something, and it doesn’t go your way, it’s a tough pill to swallow.  But I’m bothered by the shallow nature of the discourse.  Several of my friends on Facebook have made posts implying that anyone who disagrees with the Paris climate change agreement is greedy or uncaring or not really Christian.  Fill in the blank.

Unfortunately, that eliminates the possibility of real discourse about a very important subject.  I didn’t vote for President Trump, and I’m not a fan.  I am also not a fan of the EPA or the Paris climate change agreement.  Anyone who knows me knows I’m a passionate believer in being a good steward of God’s creation, so maybe taking a few minutes to find out *why* I oppose such governmental efforts would be worth the conversation?  Maybe listening to what I have to say with an open mind and an open heart would be useful and educational?

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