Her name was Castiel, she was 4 and a half years old, and we got her between having a miscarriage and be able to try to get pregnant again. She played fetch and would literally cuddle with you and take a nap under the blankets like a teddy bear. She would let the kiddo (or me) put weird stuff on her head, was super patient with said kiddo, and would literally play with her – shove duplos towards her, let the kiddo chase her, “boop snoots”, or just sit there, watch and “talk” while the kiddo played in her room.
She was absolutely fucking wonderful. She was also brain damaged. Seizures (she’d had small ones her whole life, but they were very infrequent), which became more and more regular. The seizure medication caused other issues, which stressed her out, causing more seizures. When she first got sick again in November, I told myself we could patch her up again – and we tried! We did all the things! But her little body was just done. When you’re on seizure medication 3x a day (and the third one that’s been tried) and on morphine, and you’re still having minute long seizures? Your brain is glitching pretty hard.
So on December 29th we put her to sleep. She died knowing she was loved, with people who’d loved her all of her tiny life, having her song sang to her. She was so very tired.
Grief is stupid, you guys. If you ever wanted proof that Creation is cursed, that something is fundamentally broken with how the world works right now, just experience Grief. Even the relatively small grief if losing a beloved pet (small compared to say, a child or parent) is awful. Every time I sat down or made coffee, my left hand was empty for days after Castiel died. Why? Because I didn’t realize how often I’d drop my hand to pet her, she was always there. The first nap I took after she died I woke up sobbing and reaching for her, and even now, a month later, remembering her hurts. The toddling still asks about her, still reminds us that Cas had to go away because she was sick. There have been serious conversations about if Toddling would need to go away if she got sick, and a very upsetting episode when said Toddling took off her pajamas, threw her blankets out of her bed, was shivering, and thought she had the “shakeys” like Cas did (she’d seen the cat have seizures, it was unavoidable) and would have to go away. Great.
Grief is stupid. The world is broken. We need Jesus, so that not everything will be broken for always. Daily the curse on creation eats up things we love, yet we deny any chance at redemption. We stubbornly sit here declaring “There is no God! I bow to no one! He’s not MY kind of good, therefore He isn’t!”, like ants in the sunshine refusing to acknowledge a storm is rolling in. You’re getting washed away regardless, kid.
In other news, Gardening is January is pretty mellow. We planted collards, carrots, garlic and onions back in September, so right now we just kind of hang out and wait for them to ripen. Collard Greens are great, because you can harvest some, wait for some to come back and keep harvesting. It’s really the only thing we’re getting from our garden right now, but it’s something. A tasty tasty something.
I noticed when said Collards started coming up that one of them was a little different. Assuming it was just another kind of green that could be thrown in a pot, I didn’t think much of it and let it grow. Then, curiosity got the better of me, and I pulled it.
That is a 1.6lb turnip. We have never purchased nor been given turnip seeds. Gardening is amusing in ways I never expected.
Hard in ways that I never could have fathomed before we got married. Not hard in the screaming yelling ways (though we’ve had our share of that) but in the “we just aren’t connecting” ways. It takes time to be good at it, and when you master one thing you find another that needs work, or you’ve been so busy on mastering this that you have to backtrack and fix things you hadn’t been focused on.
Parenting is also hard in unexpected ways. It requires much patience and you can’t be assured of a good outcome until much much later.
Making a French Press of coffee instead of using yee olde drip pot w/pre ground dirt, also difficult, sometimes finnicky, more time consuming, and requiring patience.
It would seem that many good things in life are this way. So of course my weird little heart is starting to fall in love with our garden and dreams of a homestead of our own, where nearly everything is much work, not assured outcomes, and oh, also, this is how you feed yourselves.
It was in one of these difficult seasons of marriage that my husband and I realized we had no hobbies in common. I like to sew, paint, write, read & cook. He likes to game, both tabletop & video, do gaming related things, and shoot. Our interests don’t overlap as much as we thought they did when we were dating.
So we found ourselves, five years in, with a tiny baby, having month leftover at the end of the money, overall pretty crazy about each other, and in agreement on The Big Things – religion, finances, parenting, politics (ish), and the overall quality of Vin Diesel films (Sci Fi yes, Cars no). But we didn’t have anything to *do* together. Gaming early on in our marriage was disastrous for many reasons I will not go into here. So we prayed.
And we thought. And we prayed. And we thought. And I stumbled upon these lovely people –
Brad & Christa of Big Family Homestead have been a huge encouragement to me, personally, and also kind of set us off onto the “eventually we want a homestead of our own” path. Husband has always wanted to be off grid, and I’ve always loved growing things, but we didn’t know/realize that there was a community for this, a cohesive term for the thing we both wanted but couldn’t name. We thought we were just weird. Maybe we are weird, but we’re not alone in the weirdness.
Big Family Homestead is very open about their homesteading journey and the realities of their life/finances/etc. Brad does short devotional type videos, and for someone who’s has issues with church, and is slowly dealing with that hurt and baggage, crawling her way back to the Body of Christ after being deeply hurt – it’s safe. He’s not telling me I’ll go to hell if I don’t do X Y and Z, but rather just saying “Oh hey fellow Believer, here’s a thought, perhaps you can think on this too”. Christa homeschools or has homeschooled their SEVEN children, which gives me hope that if she can handle seven (and not look like a hot mess all the time) I can probably, maybe, handle one, and not cripple her little mind. She also makes amazing breads, and I have taught myself to make Husband bread following their videos (Bread! Demystified. Woo!).
Following Big Family Homestead (and others in the homestead community) has also given my husband and I a shared dream again that isn’t being crippled by our current finances or his job frustration. It gives us something to do on a rainy Sunday afternoon when we can sit down and watch homesteading videos on projects we’re dreaming of or attempting the next seasons and work to do together when it’s sunny. We aren’t an active part of the community like some because we don’t have a youtube channel, and we don’t have a homestead yet – we have our little dreaming garden – but it’s something we share and enjoy, and I love it. I’m pretty sure he does too.
While there are many in the Homesteading side of youtube (I’ll link to some other channels at the bottom) what I love about Brad and Christa is that they explain things in such a way that you think “Oh hey, I could probably do that!”. They don’t put on airs. Their house looks like a house full of children and family instead of like a magazine, they speak frankly about the realities of caring for a special needs child (one of their children has a g tube among other health issues) and their content (with the exception of perhaps goat birthing) is very toddler friendly. To the point that my toddler gets excited to watch new “FAMY HOSTEAD”. It’s adorable.
Despite all the crap they’ve been through in life, Brad is happy and upbeat. Christa is pragmatic without being bitter. I guess it’s easy to seem that way online, if you really really want to put forth the effort to be fake, but I really don’t think that’s the case here. I think they’re just genuine people who love God and love their family and love homesteading. They’re moving to a new farm, from a one acre homestead to a 30 acre farm with barns, and they’re sharing the journey of moving and setting up the new place. I’m so excited to watch.
If you’re even vaguely interested in homesteading, homemaking, or just watching interesting things, I suggest you take a look at Big Family Homestead. Aside from the information in their videos, BFH means a lot to our little family.
So, Brad & Christa, should you ever read this, from the bottom of my heart, Thank You. We are so excited for what’s happening with you guys, and to watch/support you in the journey God has you on.
Oh hey, speaking of gardens, I have a little one. Stuff is happening. By “stuff” I mostly mean stifling heat, but none the less, not everything is dead, so here’s where we stand in mid July:
Tomatoes. We have fruit! But this fruit was already setting before the blight got bad.
This is still happening, even after treatment/fertilization. I am much frustrated. Yes we have fruit, but we don’t have abundant “LOOK I CAN MAKE SAUCE” fruit. We have “1-2 sliced tomatoes with dinner a week” fruit. We’re still buying tomatoes at the store. I don’t see any fruit that’s set (or any more flowers) since the blight got bad, so I don’t know if we’re “done” after this and should just yank the plants, or if we wait and see.
Our Bean Box! You could say we’ve let it get out of hand, but that would imply we ever hand it “in hand” and knew what we were doing. We’ve had four dinners with beans (five, maybe?) have have 2 big bags of frozen beans in the freezer. So that’s something! Does anyone know if you’re supposed to prune/trim pole beans? Asking for a friend.
That box is going to have all the bean plants pulled at the end of this month, get a month or so to bake in the glorious southern heat (maybe with a light layer of DE on top? We have beetles and snails) before having more dirt/peat moss added and amending the soil for our fall garden. Is it really a fall garden here though, when it’s horribly hot into October?
We’re hoping to try some broccoli in the fall (low expectations y’all) and are going to plant a lot of collards again this year b/c they did SO WELL last year, we were quite pleased. Husband really wants to attempt carrots even after last years dismal experience, so we’re gonna to try pots now. Pots of carrots on a patio in the South. Okay.
Speaking of planting, we got seed mail today. I was so freakin excited. Also, they will allow you to order stickers and a magnet for free. These (plus broccoli) are what we’re going to attempt for fall/winter. Any tomato container gardening in the south advice is welcome:
Big Family Homestead does a “seed swap” every spring, and we participated this year. We haven’t planted all the seeds we got, simply because we have to do everything above ground, and dirt/containers ain’t cheap y’all. I think this is a large part of my frustrations. Just planing something is a considerable time/energy/money investment, because we can put NOTHING in the ground here. Then it doesn’t bear fruit, and I feel like I’m wasting the limited resources we’ve been blessed with. But I’ve also learned that half-assing it doesn’t cut it. You HAVE to get good dirt, you HAVE to fertilize, you HAVE to water 2x a day on days it doesn’t rain, otherwise you’re just wasting money to enjoy cute seedlings that never produce food.
So of the seeds we got sent this year, here are three of the things that are actually doing quite well:
The Moonflower (seeds I sent in for seed exchange) is finally starting to cover the bit of fence by the door. This makes me stupidly happy.
Bonus garden friend
So there’s where we are with our little dreaming garden. There are some of the people who have helped us recognize our dream, and here are others who are just so willing and happy to put gardening/homesteading content out into the world, and absolutely worth looking into :
Guildbrook Farm – family homesteading in North Carolina. Good canning/gardening/prepper info. Thoughtful explanations of how they got where they are and why they do what they do.
An American Homestead – Completely off grid homestead in the Ozarks. They don’t have a washing machine or flushing toilet, so maybe too hardcore for me. But I admire and respect what they’re doing, and they’re full of good, practical info.
Deep South Homestead – Older couple homesteading in the south, full of practical wisdom & southern charm.
David The Good – This guy is really passionate about composting, permaculture, and being able to feed yourself via your garden should crap hit the fan. He makes white boy garden raps which are amusing. He and his family live somewhere in the tropics.
They’re just gone. They never gave us a single zucchini, and then they turned yellow and shriveled up. I am at a loss. Year 3, no zucchini. Hopes dashed. Also my beans and cucumbers are full of grasshoppers and these awful grey beetle things. I got some organic soap spray, I’m hoping that helps with the beetles.
I’m pretty sure a flamethrower is the only way to kill grasshoppers. Oiy.
But! The tomatoes are starting to come in. They’re like 7 feet tall and just starting to fruit? Am I doing this wrong? Should I have not let them get so tall? Do they have too many leaves? Don’t they need leaves to make fruit? I have no idea what I’m doing. My green bean plans are also huge, but making far less beans. Gardening: way more complicated than putting seeds in the ground.
These guys are assholes:
And what the HECK is this? yeesh:
Also it’s almost July. Which means we’re going to plan the Autumn garden soon. I can’t tell if we’re making valuable progress, or just wasting money at this point. Oiy.
As soon as I think I’m good with something, I’ve got it down, something new comes up and I feel like I’m just not seeing all the ways I’m failing yet.
I was raised, as I have possibly mentioned before, Independent Fundamental Baptist or IFB. As some within the denomination like to call it, the “Old Paths” (they aren’t the old paths, the name is a lie. Shocking).
Just so we’re all very, very clear, Independent Fundamental Baptist theology is a cult. One day I’ll go into a post about that, but if you’re were raised that way, and you look into the red flags of a cult, it’s pretty obvious. At best, if you balk at the “C word”, they are a line by line example of pharisees. An accurate description of any IFB pastor, complete with the fake/”honorary” doctorates from unaccredited schools their friends founded:
Matthew 23 1-3 Now Jesus turned to address his disciples, along with the crowd that had gathered with them. “The religion scholars and Pharisees are competent teachers in God’s Law. You won’t go wrong in following their teachings on Moses. But be careful about following them. They talk a good line, but they don’t live it. They don’t take it into their hearts and live it out in their behavior. It’s all spit-and-polish veneer.
4-7 “Instead of giving you God’s Law as food and drink by which you can banquet on God, they package it in bundles of rules, loading you down like pack animals. They seem to take pleasure in watching you stagger under these loads, and wouldn’t think of lifting a finger to help. Their lives are perpetual fashion shows, embroidered prayer shawls one day and flowery prayers the next. They love to sit at the head table at church dinners, basking in the most prominent positions, preening in the radiance of public flattery, receiving honorary degrees, and getting called ‘Doctor’ and ‘Reverend.’
I’ve forgiven my parents, years ago, for raising me in this cult. I love them, I want them in my life and my daughter’s life, so I forgive them. I see them as victims stuck in a spider’s web as much as perpetrators of this awful “theology” that causes so much heartache and is not from God, but rather from man. From old crusty prudish men who wanted order and obedience and to feel important more than they wanted God.
Why do I go on this random and jarring tangent? Because I am tired. Because years after leaving I am broken in new ways over how I was treated and taught as a small innocent child. Because I have tried for years to reconcile that SOMETHING I was raised with in an Independent Fundamental Baptist Church was beneficial.
I have held on for so long, justified the manipulation, and emotional abuse, and actual abuse because I thought there was something good. WELL AT LEAST I KNOW SCRIPTURE, I told myself. AT LEAST I KNOW DOCTRINE. At least I know the Gospel
I can’t pretend anymore. God would have found me and loved me and longed for a relationship with me if my innocent self had never darkened the door of such a horrid place. If I had never been held down and beaten until my “Will was broken”. My heart would yearn for my creator like it did for years while I was there, so confused, so thirsty, so alone. When I was so desperate to be seen and accepted and loved as the mess I was (am), and be allowed to rest – God saw me, and loved me, and wanted me to just rest in that. And no one told me.
In my head, I do know the gospel. I know the gospel backwards and forwards. I can quote the verses, I can state firmly that I choose to believe in Christ as savoir. But my heart? It’s been quoting poetry without appreciating it my whole life.
See, what I was taught was not that the gospel was proof of how much we are – I was – loved, but rather, proof of how awful I am. I learned, growing up Independent Fundamental Baptist, that I am trash. I also learned a lot of stuff that I am just now realizing, is crap. Such as….
Dispensationalism Isn’t supported by the scripture. It just isn’t. It’s a cultish theology that John Darby came up with and Schofield treated as it’s is part of gospel. I don’t know if it’s replacement theology that’s correct, or something in the middle, but…wow. Looking at it with fresh eyes, it’s a fresh crock of bullshit. And if you trace it historically, it’s just a man made thing. More on what this is and why it’s wrong here.Also here. 1611 KJV only-ism. If you know even the basics of translation, this is a bad translation. It also begs the question – You believe that God can preserve his word through thousands of years on pieces of parchment, but you don’t believe that the integrity of his word is preserved through updating? You worship this translation of this book as much or more than you worship the Father? Furthermore they claim superiority of a supposed Byzantine text over texts supposedly from the Library of Alexandria because the people of Alexandria were all heretics and hedonists. This shows a gross ignorance of church history and…basic world history. This is a great debate which not only teaches the basic of translation, but also shows the KJV only arguments so that you can easily see the holes for yourself in this vile doctrine.
Purity Culture teaches women, just like “the world” that our value is in our sexuality. It teaches young men that women are enemies and vile temptations, and it teaches women that our sexuality and sexual desires (and our bodies) are dirty and wrong. I can think of fewer things that have damaged my generation more than this insane, controlling, man made, insane version of what Christ has called us to. If you’re someone who was raised in Purity Culture, I strongly urge you to listen to Rebecca Lemke, who’s done some amazing work unpacking all the baggage that comes with Purity Culture, and has written a book called The Scarlet Virgins: When Sex Replaces Salvation. Very much worth reading is this blog post on 3 Big Lies Modesty Culture Is Teaching Your Sons.
Legalism claimed to be “standards”. Now “Old Paths” and IFB give lip service to them not being legalistic, because they claim that salvation doesn’t come from following rules, but what they DO say, and quite frequently, is “If you don’t have standards I have to wonder if you’re really saved”. Bitch that’s legalism. I understand what you’re trying to say, but what you’re saying is stupid and illogical and you shouldn’t say it. Here’s an example of the modest standards women are told to hold to and are taught. It’s amazingly convoluted bullshit. However it’s absolutely how people in Independent Fundamental Baptist Churches decide your value as a woman, a person, and decide if you truly have a relationship with God.
It should be noted that men don’t hold to standards. They hold women to Mosaic law, but themselves are allowed to be gluttons and eat shrimp/bacon, and sit there, staring at a woman’s ass, declaring she’s shaming God in her jeans while they can barely button their ever present suits over their guts. Lovely. Jesus is super duper proud, guys, I just know it.
There’s more I could go on and on about – that Jesus never drank wine, it was grape juice! (a google search of greek words proves this is bullshit), the screaming from the pulpit. The fake degrees from friends. The advice to beat your children until they submit, when the “rod” the old testament speaks of was a shepherd’s rod, which they use to guide their sheep, not beat them into submission. The flat out hatred of gays, and jokes about killing them. The terrible, awful, no good, very bad music. The “altar calls/invitations” that go on and on and on until the pastor feels he’s seen good enough numbers to brag about how many were “saved”. How my family and my relationship with my parents suffered through the busy work they did and still do for the “church”. How my mom is constantly taken advantage of and never appreciated, even though she literally did more physical work for the church than the pastor’s wife did, for decades. It’s all shit, it’s all bread and circuses. I’m sure I’ll ramble on about it here at some point.
Now the last of it that I had clung to is falling away, and I feel like most of my youth was wasted in a cult, being afraid, and hating myself. My years for a basic education was wasted by homeschoolers who taught very poor christian curriculum and no fine arts, actual history or literature classes, and everything I learned at church was just…ashes. Pointless nothing. Things I have to do work to unlearn. Destructive and evil habits I have to week out of my heart. And while absolutely my childhood was not as bad as many had it, and my parents tried their best while being controlled and lied to by an evil man who said he was a man of God, it’s really hard to get to 31 years old, and have to say “Yeah, I was physically, mentally and emotionally abused as a child. Gaslighting was a normal thing. And there’s nothing spiritually to show for it. My parents are still there, my dad still yells at me about the KJV.”
The few things that I was clinging to in order to justify my upbringing are crumbling under my feet, and I’m just here. Tired, empty, and very very sad.
I went to a playdate yesterday at the church we’ve been going to but are not members of. Met some other cool moms. They were impressed with my garden. My garden that I’ve been lamenting to my husband and God all week about being discouraged about. I’ve been questioning my entire life – why garden? It’s not GREAT, everyone else’s is so much better! Why blog? My blog is tiny, no one reads it, and my writing is crap! Every one else’s blog is so much better!”
Funny how we see things, isn’t it? I watch all these youtubers and I think “YOUR GARDEN IS MAGICAL” and mine is…not dead yet? My “this doesn’t even count!” is someone else’s “Wow, you can do that? That’s so friggin cool!”.
Note to self: Don’t disparage the work God is doing in your life or your garden because it’s not done yet.
Also, making mom friends. So weird. Nice, but weird. Apparently I’m still ten years old and awkward in my head. As one other mom, who I found TOTALLY AWESOME and cannot for the life of me remember the name of, commented on. We’re all still awkward tweens inside.
I said update, so here’s an update. I present to you, our June 1st 2017 Harvest:
Edit 10/18/17: That mom’s name was J and we’re actual friends now. Whee!
My husband and I have a dream. We would like, within the next 8ish years, to produce around 80% of our own food, and within 10-12 years be completely energy independent, probably via solar. A large garden to grow almost 100% of our produce (and living in the South, banana and avocado trees are possible), can and preserve both veggies and ready made meals like taco meat and black beans, raise and butcher our own hogs (and maybe a steer), and have a cow for milk. Husband wants goats, but we don’t like goat milk and aren’t huge fans of goat meat, so I don’t know why he wants them, other than because fainting goats are amusing. Husband is also very interested in aquaponics and wants to get a tilapia pond going. All this, and a private gun range, on 10+ acres of land.
I didn’t say it was a small dream.
Simple, maybe, but not small.
There’s a lot of reasons for this, and maybe I’ll go into them at some point, but the simple honest truth at the heart is that growing things makes me calm, and pretty darn happy. It makes my husband really happy too. So we have our dream of a 10+ acre homestead. A dream I can’t even share with a lot of people I know, because they just go “That’s stupid, go to the grocery store” (thanks dad!).
I watch these amazing homesteading families on youtube – Big Family Homestead, Fouch-o-Matic, Deep South Homestead, Hollis and Nancy’s, Justin Rhodes – and I feel like, we’ll never get there.
I feel like I’m behind.
I look at my friends who don’t want a homestead, and they, mostly, at least own a home. We do not. Finances have been hellish for us since ten minutes after we got married until very recently. It’s just the way it goes. And yes, some of my friends are older, which I forget, and some married much older men, partly to have that insta security of owning a home and a good job. I made different choices.
But still, I feel like I’m behind.
All my friends, literally, have two children. I possibly will not. I love my daughter with all my heart, but getting her here, during a high risk pregnancy and then having a csection, and finding out her cord was in a true knot? It was terrifying. On top of that, there are other very serious reasons I can’t go into here. I love being a mom. I’m absolutely in love with my daughter.
But compared to my friends? I’m behind. I’m half the mom they are, literally.
I know that, logically, comparison is the thief of joy. I’m also pretty damn sure none of my friends think I’m only half a mom compared to them, or that I’m a loser because we still rent. But in the dark little places of my heart, *I* feel that way. I feel like I will run out of life before I get to these things I want, or that they just may be out of my reach forever, like a second child may be.
And some days, I am so consumed with this “being behind”, not just on these things, but on my writing, on spending quality time with the kiddo, on cleaning the house, on spending time with my husband, that everywhere around me, all I see is a pile of failure, of being behind, of life moving faster than I can keep up. I think of a Homestead of our own and feel like it’s an impossible pipe dream that we’ll never get to. This feeling permeates everything I do until I feel like nothing I have to offer will ever be good enough. For the people I love, or even myself.
This is fucking insanity, by the way. Were I to hear someone I cared about, or hell, even a random stranger with a small child say this shit, I’d buy them coffee and tell them to chill the fuck out.
God told Zerubbabel to rebuild Solomon’s temple. It took a few years to build the foundation, and then, because of political crap, it just sat. A foundation. For 17 years.
17 years is a long ass time to be behind, guys.
Zerubbabel was sleeping one night, or probably not sleeping, because he was WAY BEHIND ON A GIANT PROJECT FROM GOD, and God sent him a message, in the form of a terrifying messenger, as was his way (Zechariah 4):
9 “Zerubbabel is the one who laid the foundation of this Temple, and he will complete it. Then you will know that the Lord of Heaven’s Armies has sent me.10Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin, to see the plumb line in Zerubbabel’s hand.”
I do not have a Homestead, but I do have a few small beginnings. I have taught myself to make bread. We eat out far less than we did a year ago, in fact I cook most nights unless it’s payday. Later this year I hope to get a waterbath canner or pressure canner and start canning some of our own stuff. And we do have a garden. A small, stubborn, completely-above-ground-because-our-soil-is-crap, garden. It’s small, but it’s a beginning.
Patio Garden! Tomatoes, Cucumbers, other..things…
This is basically all green beans and pepper plants, yay!