Odds & Ends

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ruth-watering

You guys, I no longer have a laundry pile; it is now a laundry wall. It is probably six feet tall which means I can barely reach the top myself. But I’m okay with that.

squash

We are now at the point in the rain cycle where doing laundry in town seems imminent. Pond water, however, has been busy making these summer squash grow.
beans-close

The green beans too seem to be doing alright and not one of them has complained of dirty aprons or stinky socks.
cilantro-flowers

The cilantro is at two stages. The first is this lovely flowering stage which the Pallet Garden is now full of, tucked in around lettuce and tomatoes and comfrey. The other is the volunteer stage which I am finding all around where the previous year’s cilantro sat.

peas-in-row

And while a salad or two per day is a foregone conclusion with the lettuce in Abram’s garden and ours, these peas are kind of hogging the limelight right now.pea-pod

We pick the big ones for shelling but that pea to the top right that has not started to fatten at all, they are pretty much snap peas so we eat those as well. Some go into salads but with pickers big and small, they rarely make it past the snack stage.

chixn-field

But I figured out why the laundry wall is here and probably not going anywhere anytime soon. We have some tomatillos that don’t seem to want to grow, a patch each of cucumbers and cantaloupes that need weeding, a small patch of collards that might be pulling through, and potatoes that need hilling. So I guess I choose gardening, when I can.

pumpkin

I don’t believe anyone who says “Just grow your own, it’s easy!“. But sometimes I really wonder about eight-year-old Abram. That chicken field is still getting hay spread over it and awaiting a possible planting in black-eyed peas. But… Abram snuck out there and planted a pumpkin patch when I wasn’t looking. There might be ten or twelve of them coming up and doing just fine, it seems, in some of the hardest subsoil we have around here.

Speaking of which… For months now I have wondered at his greens growing with gusto; his radishes ready long before it seemed reasonable. Well, last week I think he finally dropped the bombshell I’d been waiting for.

Poop! Buckets full of broken down goat poop. There is little more exciting in the agrarian world to me than a pile of poop and when Abram spilled the beans on the goldmine he’d been raking up in the pasture, I couldn’t believe my ears. How could we have such goodness – and in use on his own garden, no less – without him ever sharing a peep?!

So the secret is out, friends. Naturally, the next day I promptly had him carry over as many buckets of that compost as he could scrounge up. And then there is the pile of chicken manure I’ve been working at….

So I may be up past my eyeballs in dirty laundry, but I’m also happily up to my waste in manure. As to which of those two piles is the more offensive; I’ll let you be the judge.

Life on the land has many spiritual lessons in the day-to-day work. Several months ago my eyes were opened to some things while I was fencing. It wasn’t a new or revolutionary thought. It was simply a realization of something that was staring me in the face.  I was working on the last little segment of fence next to where our milk goat was chained up.  We had her on a chain attached to a cable so that she could have a little bit of movement throughout the day. For the most part though, her movement was quite restricted and had been for a year.

As I put up the fence I took a look at her and considered life through her eyes.  Here is a guy running wires that will lock me into this space. In response to the thought I figured she was probably thinking (if goats had such thoughts) I said out loud, “This fence is your freedom.” Of course, as goats are not inclined to talk much, there was silence. But I began pondering the thought.

This fence would allow her a space so she could be free to move around, graze, and in general do what she was designed to do. She would no longer have to be on a chain, bound to a very small and specific spot, eating mostly hay.  The fence would also afford some protection so that she would not go somewhere she was not supposed to, such as the neighbors, and get into trouble. It also kept her closer, which would help protect her against wandering off and being hunted by predators. It would help her be productive and useful as a milk animal. It was in fact, a very good thing for her to be in a fence. She would receive many more benefits in a fenced in environment than where she was on the chain or without any fence at all.

In our lives though most people don’t view “fences” for themselves as a good thing, particularly when it prevents them from doing something they think they ought to be able to do. They think it limits their freedom when in fact it defines their freedom (a point from a recent sermon).  For example, the Constitution and Bill of Rights was to define and put fences around government.  Those fences gave government an area to operate within.  Those fences also gave the people a space to operate in… but within another fence, mainly a moral law. It does no good for a government to be fenced in if the people are not likewise under some restraint on behavior. In man’s case, unlimited freedom would result in unlimited wickedness. If people are not bound by a higher government (and fence), such as the 10 commandments, then every form of wickedness runs wild. Hence, we should be thankful that God restrains us from doing as much evil as we otherwise would.

To the Christian, God’s commands and the gospel itself, are a law of liberty.  A fence of freedom. It is a place I want to be inside of to be in God’s will for me.  Not as a means of salvation through works, for salvation is of grace alone through faith alone in Jesus Christ alone, but as obedience to whom I love (and who first loved me).

True freedom is not to have “free-will” (which does not and cannot actually exist if you examine Genesis) but rather to be operating within the limits man was designed for. True freedom is to lose the bonds and chains to sin that bind man’s fallen heart and to live according to the will of the one who created all.

John 8:30-36: As he spake these words, many believed on him. Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. They answered him, We be Abraham’s seed, and were never in bondage to any man: how sayest thou, Ye shall be made free? Jesus answered them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin. And the servant abideth not in the house for ever: but the Son abideth ever. If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.

So take a moment and consider that what you think of as freedom may not actually be freedom.  Something that you may have considered your own choice may not actually be.  And think about the fences around you that are actually there for your good instead of something you should be trying to break out of. While many in this country are caught up in political elections, free-will, and a country they believe is “free”, the reality should be staring us all in the face.  We are not inherently free, nor can we be in the flesh.  Any true freedom must necessarily come from the one who created everything. If you believe the Bible then true freedom comes from submitting to the only true king of all, the Lord Jesus Christ.  The opposite to this freedom is rebellion against the Lord, which is slavery and bondage (to sin and death and ultimately judgment). Therefore, let us have our hope and faith in the only one who can give us true freedom, defined by the bounds of His will and government. Be thankful for the fence of freedom.

Hebrews 11:13-16:  These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country. And truly, if they had been mindful of that country from whence they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned. But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city.

Revelation 21:1-8: And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea. And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away. And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful. And he said unto me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely. He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son. But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.