Inspired by everything good

A brand new Charolais heifer calf was born just a few hours ago. Andy called me because he needed some help opening some gates while he carried the calf to an adjacent pasture that all of the mamas and babies are on with Frank, the bull.

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I haven’t moved our minivan since my dentist appointment on Tuesday. It’s Saturday night. The kids have had colds. I’ve been homebound. It’s good.

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When the boys and I went out to give daddy some assistance, while Buttercup napped, I was gently reminded over and over and over again why I love this lifestyle that we eat, sleep and breathe. It’s the life. The life all around that takes my breath away. It’s the miracle after the tragedy that makes me want to soak it all in.

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The LGDs watching over the 4 horned sheep in the pasture. The chickens running around chasing bugs and scratching up the field. It’s the mama cow with her new calf and the geese on the pond. It’s the heirloom corn taller than my husband’s head and the farm boys learning how to drive at 3 and 5 years old. It’s the seeds in the soil and the sunset in the sky that give me hope and encourage my soul.

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It’s the melted beeswax being poured into candle molds and the homegrown meals that are served at our homemade table. It’s the fresh food and the fresh air and the beauty of life all around. It’s the grace that follows the grave and the life that follows death. It’s the joy that comes after sorrows. We have many sorrows and heartaches. It’s part of life in our broken world. But, there is so much beauty to behold.

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Today I saw a lot of it. Tomorrow is not promised, but these glimpses of our glorious eternity give me great hope. It’s a gift from God and I’m so thankful to Him for all of it and I’m inspired by everything good.

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“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.”(James 1:17)

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Beeswax Candles

 

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It’s been a long time since we’ve made any candles. I guess between the farm work, house work and school fun the fun stuff that I love has been pushed to the side. That plus the fact that we really needed a solar wax melter to render some more beeswax.

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He did get the solar wax melter fashioned and some wet comb went in right away. Now we’ve got beeswax (plus more from our friend/bee mentor Harold) and we’re back in action. Sort of…

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I recently bought a mini pillar mold and made a few 3″ pillars for some adorable galvanized lanterns that I bought at Target last fall for 75% or something. I love them, but haven’t had candles to put in them. Knowing we had a stash of awesome beeswax and the other essentials, I knew it was time to get back to work on some candles. I made a couple of adorable mini pillars and made some super clean beeswax cakes and put my supplies away for a few days.

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Then, we picked up a crockpot that could hold more than a cup of melted wax at a time and I made some more candles. I forgot to tie a knot at the bottom of the mini pillar the third time (don’t ask) and wax poured everywhere… Thankfully, I got most of it up because it was on wax paper (genius), but there are still bits of beeswax stuck on our counters…

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It is incredibly satisfying to make candles from beeswax from our beehives. We know the beeswax is clean and doesn’t have any chemicals in it from  treated hives. The candles smell amazing and make beautiful light. The lanterns are now glowing (after a year of doing nothing!) and I learned a good lesson about remembering to tie the wick.

Candles are simple. Beeswax candles are great. The best. Hopefully I’ll get a good stash for the moonlight farmers market coming up in Swainsboro at the beginning of September and for Andy to drop off in Augusta at Southern Made during one of his deliveries. Either way, I’m just glad we have our own candles again!

 

The Good Shepherd

“I need you to pray right now.” Those are the first words I heard when I answered Andy’s call. Followed by a brief explanation that all 5 of the Jacob sheep he had picked up from a SC farm were now running in and out of 70mph traffic on i95.

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Apparently, the trailer door came undone right after a brief potty break after 2.5 hours into the drive home. So, someone flagged him down to tell him the trailer door was swinging open and when he pulled over, the sheep jumped out. All of them. Into oncoming traffic.

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So, I gathered our 3 children  (ages 5, 3, & 1) and we hit our knees and I prayed: ‘God, please keep daddy safe on the road. Please help him get the sheep back on the trailer. Please keep him safe. Please protect him.’ Over and over and over because that’s all I could think to pray. Then, I text a dozen women  in a few different group messages and asked them to PLEASE PRAY!

They did and they asked others to pray. There were different groups from different churches in different parts of the country praying for Andy and his desperate and extremely dangerous situation. Our friends came to help. Strangers stopped to help. For almost 4 hours they worked to recover the sheep. The traffic didn’t stop. Police never showed up. But, they persevered and people kept praying.

It’s an absolute and total miracle that Andy came home with all 5 live sheep. It’s amazing that no accidents happened during one of the 15+ times that the small flock ran in front of a semi truck or a family vehicle. It’s wondrous that none of our dear friends or their neighbors or the strangers that stopped to give a hand were hit or killed by a swerving vehicle on the side of the interstate. It’s an honor knowing that there are people in our lives that will stop what they are doing to come to our rescue and to pray for our needs.

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Even though this incident happened over a week ago and Andy has already processed a bit of it on the blog at http://www.mccartneyfarm.com and our friends have heard the story multiple times, I’m still in awe. I’m thankful that Andy came home that night. I’m thankful that we got to shear 2 of those sheep the following day. I’m thankful that they are all acclimating to their new home here on Family Tree Farm. I’m thankful for our friends and family and friends who are like family that came to our aid and most of all I’m thankful to The Good Shepherd for watching over all of His sheep.

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XO.

One man’s trash

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I love old stuff. I love the character and history and patina of the treasures. I love that we have a little collection of relics and tools and junk from days gone by. A rusty refrigerator door is our message board. Old butter crocks and churns get used by us even though they are often just used as decor in other homes. Our cast iron collection is used daily and most of it was already used and is ‘vintage’ although we have gathered new pieces to add to the collection.

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I’m no antique dealer, but I do love the charm that comes from these things. I know they don’t have any eternal value and when the corrode and rust, I understand even more that this earth is only temporary. Still, I’ll take someone’s cast offs any day of the week over the brand new, cheaply made real junk of today… Even if it’s just garden decor. XO.

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The Relatives Came

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One of my favorite children’s books is ‘The Relatives Came’ by Cynthia Rylant. I first discovered the book when Andy and I were interning at Brant Family Farm in SC and fell in love with the story. Mainly because it reminded me so much of my family and how we visit and hug and laugh and breathe together.

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I have a sister and a niece in VA and it is one of our favorite places in the country. The premise of the book is that the relatives came from VA and they all got to spend the summer together. I’ve been reading this story for the last couple of years at our Shaner family gatherings and it always makes me cry. I’m a bit sappy and sentimental sometimes and this book reminds me so much of those that are near and dear to my heart. So, when I pulled out the book to read to my sweet niece, she patted me on the leg and said, ‘you don’t have to cry, I’m right here.’ And my heart exploded with love and joy and gratitude for her precious little soul and her wisdom beyond her years.

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She’s 6. My sister, her mother, and I are 18 months apart and were incredibly close growing up. We were comrades in the truest sense of the word and we had each other’s back, always and no matter what. Seeing my beautiful sister, Aubrie, in my niece’s eyes and having her in my home for just a day filled my cup. I wish they lived closer. I wish our kids were growing up together as best friends. Cousins by default and friends by choice. But, for now, they live in VA. For now, I’ll wait eagerly for their visits and be thankful for the precious hours that we do have together and continue to hope for more.

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My sweet niece will have one of the Great Pyrenees puppies with her at her dad’s house. She came down and was surprised with a puppy by him. We arranged it a few weeks ago and I could hardly wait for the day. Knowing that the last puppy to be picked was meant to be hers has given me so much peace. When he contacted me to inquire about a pup, I knew it was meant to be.

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So, they drove down from VA. She met her new puppy and played with her cousins and read books and told me about her life in VA. We ate together and played games together and breathed together. And that’s all that mattered. Then, they packed up their car with a sweet puppy in tow. Another soon-to-be-mama-bear-dog in the back seat next to my darling niece. My heart melted and once again, the house felt too big and too empty…

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He’s 3!

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Little middle child whom we affectionately refer to as Pinecone here on the blog turned 3 this week. While Andy and I were talking about how we can best celebrate this charming fellow, we decided that he needed a party and it needed to only include those people to which  he feels comfortable giving a full body bear hug. That’s a whopping 4 people other than Andy, myself, Bullfrog and Buttercup.

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So, we invited my sister (Aunt Lulu), my dad (Opa), Andy’s mom (Goma because they couldn’t pronounce Grandma and were used to saying Oma for my mom) and Andy’s dad (Dan dad or Grandad). We ordered a few pizzas from one of our favorite spots in Savannah and we celebrated.

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Pinecone hadn’t had his own birthday party before and he was thrilled to see balloons and to know that this day was to celebrate him. He brings our family so much joy! He is all heart in the truest sense of the meaning and he’s been pretty amazing since day 1.

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He’s rough, tumble and bold. He’s fearless and always ready for an adventure. He loves our family nicknames and makes me feel like the most beloved mother in creation when he hugs my neck tight and says: ‘you’re all mine mama bear’ or ‘you’re my best.’

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I’ve talked before about how I’ve never been great at making much ado over special days. I’m working at it and so far this year we have successfully had a little celebration for each of our precious children to mark their 1st, 3rd and 5th birthdays. This is the last birthday party of the year and it was such a sweet, simple, kiddie pool and water balloonand pizza and ice cream cake kind of day. He opened a few gifts throughout the day and mostly we just got to enjoy Pinecone basking in the love of his family.

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That is all that matters right. That he knows we love him. That he knows Jesus loves him. That he can choose who to give full body hugs to and make them feel loved too. Those are the little things I’m thankful to celebrate. XO.

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“Bye. I’ll never forget you.”

 

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Oh friends. They grow up too fast! I’m not even talking about my kids, because we all know they grow up way too fast! We just celebrated Pinecone’s 3rd birthday yesterday, but I’m actually talking about these little Great Pyrenees puppies that were born just yesterday! Or maybe it was actually 8 weeks ago, but those 8 weeks just flew by!

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Now the puppies are going to their new homes. That was always the plan. We needed more livestock protection here, particularly for the sheep, but we knew that the other puppies would be sold to work on other farms and  provide security just like we needed. But, now they are actually old enough to go. And the first one did. Today.

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Yesterday, we put 2 of the puppies that are staying on the farm with the new Jacob sheep that we just brought home. Today the first puppy to leave left. The farmer (that actually lives just about 45 minutes away) contacted us to inquire about a pup to be paired up with a dog that they already have working on their place. These dogs work great in teams and we had a puppy available. We labeled the puppy with her own ribbon collar when they went in for their first shots and we knew she’d be going down to Anthony’s Roots when she left here. This afternoon the Anthony family came to pick up the little girl.

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Then it stormed. Crazy-don’t-wanna-get-struck-by-lightning-why-are-we-still-standing-on-the-front-porch-storm. The storm that makes you invite a family into your messy house (because you didn’t clean up from the birthday party-that only included grandparents and an aunt), but if it wasn’t storming then they never would have seen the kiddie pool that was used to rehabilitate a duck on the front porch that needs to be repainted that led into the house that wasn’t cleaned… But, it did storm and that family did come in and they did see the dirty dishes and they didn’t judge. At least they said they wouldn’t and it was good.

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It was good because we chatted and the kids played and I was encouraged about blogging by a blogger and we talked about butchering animals and Andy offered to help, because he’s butchered them and then the storm stopped. So, it was time for the Anthony family and their new puppy to leave our farm and go to their farm where the puppy would be settling into her new role.

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So, they loaded into their van and the oldest daughter yelled to our oldest son: “Bye, I’ll never forget you!” I realized later that this was a first for us. We’ve had a thousand firsts since we started farming and this was one of them. Saying goodbye to our first LGD puppy. I’ll never forget it.

XO.

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