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It might just be me, but I find the end of pregnancy so much more exhausting than those early days of new, sweet smelling, always-feeding baby. Perhaps it is because we’ve always had people waiting, and waiting, and waiting for our wee ones to come into the world and, personally, I prefer to not put a date on it. Or, perhaps it is because every single baby has waited until the very last minute to find that ideal position. Procrastinators, just like their Mama.

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Either way, I could happily spend these final weeks at home, getting everything in its place. I’m not a hyper-nester; I’m not a super tidy person in general, I suppose. But something about a baby coming does keep me standing at the counter baking, trying (and failing) to keep up with the dish pile, and always finding things that need a place.

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Oh, who am I kidding, if the dish pile is ever smaller than yesterday’s and the floor gets swept, it’s a good day. My version of nesting is keeping up with those two things, making sure we have diapers and little tiny jammies out and ready, and baking up a storm. Even the baking doesn’t last anymore. Every huge batch of this, that, or the other disappears twice as fast as I think it will and I wonder how it could be I who is growing a little life and not these ravenous, not-even-close-to-teenage boys.

This morning it was fried eggs, those oat biscuits above, and yogurt. Our seven-year-old ate twice as much as I did and just now, not more than 2 hours after breakfast, proclaimed he is hungry. It’s a good thing he’s so useful around here, and frankly, would probably make a better housekeeper than I.

 

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If I were to do an honest year-in-review post it would look something like this: January through April we put in the chicken field and started the summer garden. Fruit trees were planted, perennial herbs were thrown in the ground. May brought news of a new babe and thus began the usual season of morning sickness in which I spent my days trying not to throw up or fall asleep.

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By July that was pretty much over, we tried not to overheat, and then Stewart started showing the early signs of adrenal fatigue. By the second half of August he was down for the count for much of the day. By September he had a full blown health crisis while we were traveling. Since then I’ve gotten bigger, Stewart’s gotten smaller, he’s recovered as much as we could possibly expect, and the year finished with the family flu and Stewart’s back seizing up.

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So that whole “we are homesteaders and here’s what we’ve accomplished” post is something you won’t find here. Instead, today I’d like to declare 2013 a year of humbling spiritual lessons, reality checks, and heart checks. It has been a year of letting go, a year of checking our motivations, a year of truly understanding that He will give us what we need.

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I won’t pretend, though, that this hasn’t been the hardest six months I can remember. Still, for some reason, I can think of only one word to describe 2013: rich.

And as I walk around the homestead I am in awe of the things that did get done. Truly, in the midst of the many times that Stewart and I lay on the floor or the bed in exhaustion and laughed about what a feeble pair we make, the Lord granted so much.

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  • A new chicken coop was built to house a larger flock.
  • The new roofline and water tank were put up, doubling our catch water.
  • That roofline has started to become an extra living space.
  • We had our largest harvest of beans, squash, and sweet potatoes, all of which we’re still happily eating through.
  • At least half of our fruit trees survived the summer heat.
  • A gate went up where only pallets once stood.

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From deep in the trenches of our own physical weakness, He has provided so much more than we could ever imagine or do with our own two hands. Once again, we have seen from Whom all of our needs are met and far surpassed. Such blessings, such rich and plentiful blessings.

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And as I feel this little one within squirm and kick and remind us of the blessings and miracles that surround us, I look so forward to whatever it is He sees fit to bring us in 2014. And I am oh so grateful that “success” here on the homestead is not up to us and our own doings.

 

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Meet Frassers. Her name rhymes with sasser, which might tell you just about all you need to know. She enjoys talking, singing, and frassing; the latter of which you must see in person to fully understand. It’s too much.

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She also loves to help her Daddy. She’s always been an outside girl, this one, but the two of them seem to be spending even more time together as she gets closer to losing her baby throne.

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Last week we all had the flu and as I listen to him continue to hack away, I’m thinking Stewart hasn’t quite kicked it yet like the rest of us.

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But she sure has.

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The boys have continued to help with the floor of the new cabin this week. It’s been slow-going, but that’s alright.

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Don’t you just love a little man in clothes two sizes too big? I know he does actually have clothes his own size, but apparently his brother’s are much too appealing to pass up. Which might also explain why his big brother is wearing clothes two sizes too small.

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Then there’s this guy. Precise. Driven. Always task-oriented. Kind of a task master, if you ask me. He’s definitely the first born and you can count on him to do a job right. If it weren’t for him, I’m sure this place and his Mama would be a complete disaster. Oh wait…

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I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but lately I don’t have a lot of words. I sit down and write and can’t hit publish. I sit down and want to write but nothing happens. Maybe next week I’ll finish that year-end homesteading post, or maybe I’ll finally publish that one on animal feed or that recipe for bread.

But right now, I think I’ll savor these people, these photos, and these memories as a family of five. Because, with everything else that needs pulling together before this little one joins us, that’s about all I’ve got in me.

 

I’ve been thinking about additional parts of this series for a long time during my up and down recovery.  If you missed the first part I encourage you to go back and read Part 1 so that you have the context for Part 2.  I’ve put off writing this part for awhile, partly because I’ve frequently been too tired, and partly because I just kept putting it off.  I hope this part is a blessing for you in some way.

As I was starting to recover from the round of fatigue I mentioned in Part 1 of this series I made a lot of mistakes that led to a much more severe relapse, from which I’m still trying to recover.  This was back in early September.  I was tired, but not so tired at that point that I couldn’t do some things.  I also was feeling well enough to start plotting big plans for how to accomplish several things at once: speed my recovery, visit my grandfather in the hospital, and get some work done to make some money to build more infrastructure on the homestead.  This plan revolved around traveling up to Missouri for a week or two to visit my grandfather.  While there I hoped I could also try to finish some computer projects I had without some of the unbearable heat that seemed to be lingering in our cabin from late summer weather.  I also wanted to try to fit the trip into early September so we could still get back and have a fall garden.  Also, I didn’t want to leave before our community work day in early September.  So I was triangulating dates and already applying pressure to myself to make it all happen… ironically because I thought I could get some rest while we were in Missouri too.

Does Anyone See a Problem With This?

I was pushing to run again before I could hardly walk, which can be a physical as well as spiritual problem.  To top all this off, and just to put the icing on the cake of my next health catastrophe, I worked my first full day outside in weeks at around 97 degrees (our community work day).  I then got my family up the next morning at 2:30 a.m. and traveled about 14 hours all the way to Missouri in a van without air conditioning.  We left early to avoid the brutal heat and avoid splitting the day into two traveling days .  Yes, you now know how to spell stupid… and it starts with Stew… and ends in artful form… kind of like Stew-Art.

Immediately upon arrival to Missouri I was exhausted.  Then the next few days I went to visit my grandfather in the hospital every day.  Seeing someone you love in the hospital is heart breaking and stressful.  About the 3rd or 4th day in my grandfather also developed some complications, which added to an already difficult visit.  It was after this that I came home one day and couldn’t finish my dinner, in fact I could barely start.  It seemed like the life drained out of me in some sort of systemic crash.  I went to bed in the middle of dinner and didn’t get up for several hours.  We figure it was probably a blood sugar crash.

The next day, still feeling quite tired, we decided I probably ought to see someone about it since the problem was coming back and getting worse from a few weeks prior.  We visited a chiropractor’s office that also dealt with nutrition… however, somehow the scheduling got mixed up so I ended up seeing the guy who dealt with Sport’s Nutrition instead of regular nutrition that we wanted to see.  However, I still managed to end up with a few good supplements.  That day passed without major incident and I started a few of the additional supplements.

The following day a little after lunch I went down again hard.  I slept for a few hours and woke up feeling very weak.  I managed to walk out to where Shannon was to talk to her.  Somehow in my discussion I don’t think I managed to convey the seriousness of how I felt.  So I got myself over to the refrigerator to try to find something to boost my blood sugar.  By the time I got over there I could hardly stand up.  So I got on my knees while looking through the refrigerator.  I found some V8 juice that had fruit juice in it and took some swigs, trying not to keel over on the spot.  Somewhere in this process Shannon found me and wondered what was going on.  I never passed out, but I came a lot closer than I would have liked.  I did have to put my head almost on the floor while trying to get my body together enough to stand up.  I downed a couple of adrenal supplements as well.  After an hour or so my body started to come out of it.

By this time we were trying to put all the pieces together.  We realized that over the last year or two I’d had several prior incidents of being really tired for a couple weeks to the point of not being able to do hardly anything.  This was just a progression and acute situation of what we believe is a bigger chronic fatigue issue.  So we did some research online so we could get a better handle on adrenal fatigue and found there are various stages… and by all accounts I was in the final stage that if not treated could lead to adrenal failure.  Of course, we are not experts and some would suggest (and did) that I should go to the hospital.  However, we did our research there too, and the most likely treatment for my condition if my adrenals were 90% gone would be shots for the rest of my life… a band-aid, not a cure for the underlying issues.  And, if my adrenals were not 90% gone they would probably say come back when they are.  We had to weigh whether getting a bunch of tests done for my condition was worth the money…. and whether or not there was a danger of getting sucked into the medical system and making some decisions too quickly.  I’m not saying what we did is what someone else should do in a similar situation.  I’m just relaying how it went for us up to that point.

Slowing Down is a Blessing

I once again found myself having to rest almost all of the time.  And looking back on it when I’m feeling a little better it doesn’t seem so bad… but honestly at the time we were quite desperate.  I was nonfunctional, Shannon is pregnant, and we were not at home.  Three young children still need to be taken care of every day.  Thankfully, my dad stays at my grandparents to help them out and was able to provide some assistance.

In the meantime, when I wasn’t too tired to do anything, I was able to read a few pages at a time in A.W. Pink’s Gospel of John Commentary again.  And thankfully, the Lord mercifully had me read pages that provided encouragement and hope.  I want to quote part of the page that had the biggest impact on me as I was laying there with questions and doubts.  It is some of Pink’s thoughts on John 6:5, 6:

     What happened to Philip is, in principle and essence, happening daily in our lives.  A trying, if not a difficult, situation confronts us; and we meet with them constantly.  They come not by accident or by chance; instead, they are each arranged by the hand of the Lord.  They are God’s testing of our faith.  They are sent to “prove” us. Let us be very simple and practical.  A bill comes unexpectedly; how are we to meet it? The morning’s mail brings us tidings which plunge us into an unlooked for perplexity; how are we to get out of it?  A cog slips in the household’s machinery, which threatens to wreck the daily routine; what shall we do? An unanticipated demand is suddenly made upon us; how shall we meet it? Now, dear friends, how do such experiences find us?  Do we, like Philip and Andrew did, look at our resources? Do we rack our minds to find some solution? or do our first thoughts turn to the Lord Jesus, who has so often helped us in the past?  Here, right here, is the test of our faith.

O, dear reader, have we learned to spread each difficulty, as it comes along, before God?  Have we formed the habit of instinctively turning to Him?  What is your feebleness in comparison to His power!  What is your emptiness in comparison to His ocean of fulness?  Nothing! Then look daily to Him in simple faith, resting on His sure promise, “My God shall supply all your need” (Phil. 4:19).  Ah! you may answer, It is easy to offer such advice, but is far from easy to act on it.  True. Yea, of yourself it is impossible.  Your need, and my need, is to ask for faith, to plead for grace, to cry unto God for such a sense of helplessness that we shall lean on Christ, and on Him alone.  Thus, ask and wait, and you shall find Him as good as His word. “Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted within me?  hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God” (Psa. 43:5).

Exposition of the Gospel of John – Three Volumes in One by A.W. Pink p. 290

 

In the next part I hope to convey how one simple passage, mentioned by Pink above, has been burned into my mind and helped me put some pieces together I’d been missing about our whole perspective on homesteading and a process driven life…

 

In the meantime, another post that I recommend is over at The Sifford Sojournal called “Redeeming the Time, Part 2

 

 

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We had quite a few ferments on hand, after a whirlwind vegetable fermentation session last month. I thought those would last us a while, and I suppose they did, but we went through a half-gallon of chlorophyll kraut, a half-gallon of southwestern kraut, and a half-gallon of carrot sticks in just a few weeks.

I can’t emphasize enough how thankful I am for these foods. Stewart’s been drinking the juice off of the top of the lacto-fermented carrot sticks and it really seems to have helped him over these months of recovering from adrenal fatigue. And the children are crazy about them and I’m happy to scoop out another carrot stick or more kraut for their twang-loving pallets.

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I tried out the Perfect Pickler for that chlorophyll kraut. I have my own thoughts on airlocks, which I might share in another context on another day, but the kraut itself turned out wonderfully tangy after a few weeks on the counter.

What has really taken over my kitchen lately, though is sourdough.

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This guy right here is super active. I’m experimenting with the brown rice sourdough starter while developing a bunch of gluten-free sourdough recipes for CFH. You can follow along with the adventure at the CFH blog.

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I’m also quite partial to this rye sourdough starter, which we bake 100% rye bread from. It’s a nice alternative for those who aren’t eating wheat at the moment. Plus, there have been pancakes upon pancakes upon pancakes. Oat pancakes, rye pancakes, rice pancakes, banana pancakes…

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And then there is that rye bread, which I made into buns this past week. It’s a sticky dough, nothing like wheat due to the difference in proteins. But it’s easy to make and we love its dense tang. Upon biting into his roll, our oh-so-serious seven year old proclaimed “Mmm… I love the taste of sourdough.”

Me too!

What’s fermenting in your kitchen?

 
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