What uncommon things do we want to become common?

Things like:
our children having mutual love and respect for each other.
our teenage children having love, honor, respect and obedience for their parents.
us continually becoming better friends and lovers.
our family totally trusting God in all things and putting our faith in Him to fulfill his promises.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Darkness

By Creg
I've been thinking about that rat in my shed (earlier post). His nest was behind boards in the darkest corner. When the lights came on he ran. Why did he like the darkness? Because he was a thief! Taking trinkets he could find to make a nest & scrounging food from wherever he could find it.
"I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness."
Jesus
Why do some like the darkness? We've all been there. The good news is it doesn't matter how long you've been in the darkness or how dark it was, if you're ready to get out Jesus says He is the answer. Do you believe that?

A few months ago a group from church, 3 men & 3 women, were at the Middleton prison unit to help with the worship gathering. After it was over we were standing up getting ready to leave when the lights went out. It was dark. Needless to say there was a moment or two of uneasiness. After all, we were in a gym with 200 men who had done things to scare people & now people are afraid of them. What happened next was startling. It was loud & so coordinated that you would have thought they planned it. All at once the men erupted in singing "Amazing Grace"! Now, remember where we were. The state of Texas has said these men are a threat to society and they've been put behind these walls thinking something may change them. Well something is changing them. Only through the love of Jesus could this have happened.
The ironic thing is that these men used to take advantage of the dark to get away with evil. (Just like we all have on occasion.) But not anymore. They know that Jesus is the son of the God of 2nd chances.

Friday, November 19, 2010

What If There's a Greater Purpose?

By Creg

"I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me."
Jesus

I hope you are blessed by the words of my current favorite song.


In my own little world it hardly ever rains
I’ve never gone hungry, always felt safe
I got some money in my pocket, shoes on my feet
In my own little world
Population: me

I try to stay awake during Sunday morning church
I throw a twenty in the plate, but I never give ’til it hurts
I turn off the news when I don’t like what I see
It’s easy to do when it’s
Population: me

What if there’s a bigger picture?
What if I’m missing out?
What if there’s a greater purpose
I could be living right now
Outside my own little world

When I Stopped at a red light, looked out my window
I saw a cardboard sign, said “Help this homeless widow”
And above that sign was the face of a human
and I thought to myself, “God, what have I been doing?”
So I rolled down the window and I looked her in the eye
I thought how many times have I just passed her by?
I gave her some money then I drove on through
And my own little world reached
Population: two

What if there’s a bigger picture?
What if I’m missing out?
What if there’s a greater purpose
That I could be living right now
Outside my own little world yeah

Father break my heart for what breaks Yours
Give me open hands and open doors
and Put Your light in my eyes and let me see
That my own little world is not about me



Wednesday, November 17, 2010

A Pack Rat

By Creg

A few weeks ago I sent the kids to the shed that currently houses the baby goats (it's also used to store other items). I told them to get the can of bolts & wing nuts that go with our scaffolding. They came back saying it wasn't there, but I knew it was so I went to look myself. Sure enough, there was no sign of any of them. What could have happened? After several minutes of looking around I found one bolt in the far corner next to the can that held them. This was the beginning of a mystery. After digging a little in the dirt I found some more bolts & a few other items. All of a sudden a grey flash appeared out of the corner of my eye & I knew what I was up against. A pack rat! (All of the stuff in the picture was in his nest.) The body was 6 inches long & he was as quick as a chubby rat stuffed with goat food could be. Knowing I had to get rid of him I closed the door & went to get my pistol.
As I crept around slowly moving boards trying to find him, I cocked the hammer on my .22 ready to fire. Once he made a run for it, I shot & the next 45 seconds was like a cross between The Apple Dumpling Gang movie and a Tom & Jerry cartoon. I felt like Don Knotts trying to shoot a rat that was sticking his tongue out at me as he ran. It's a good thing I had a 6 shooter because I needed all 6 shots. I think the rat was laughing so hard he had to stop & catch his breath. That still moment was all I needed.
Commander Creg protects his house.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Mmmm....Freshly Baked Whole Wheat Sourdough Bread

By Chelsa

I'm so happy!!! I can't tell you how excited I am! I've finally found a whole wheat sourdough recipe our whole family likes. This is huge, mainly because I make ALL of our bread products: Loaves of bread, dinner rolls, hamburger buns, tortillas, pitas, pancakes, biscuits, scones, cinnamon rolls...you name it. When I got my electric flour mill for Christmas a couple of years ago (it grinds grain into flour), we bought TWELVE 50lb bags of wheat (yes, you read that correctly 600 lbs!!!), so I promised myself that I wouldn't buy bread from the store anymore. Why not, you ask? Because I know how I am. If there's bread from the store in the house then I'm not nearly as motivated to make my own. This way I have to make myself do it. I'm so glad I made that promise because it's become a routine part of my life now and I thoroughly enjoy it. And we've even built an earth oven in our back yard to bake it in! (I'll do a post on that soon)

I tried making sourdough bread in the past using my own starter with a different recipe, but it was just too sour. Even I didn't like it. Then I tried making a different recipe using a starter from someone else. The bread tasted great (a little on the sweet side), but I didn't think it was very healthy at all. The starter was potato flakes, sugar, and water, and that's what I was supposed to feed it. Why would I want to feed it that when I don't feel comfortable feeding that to my own kids? It tasted great, but that was not what I was looking for. I wanted something that both tasted good and was nutritionally sound.

That's why I'm so excited about this new recipe. It's the best of both worlds: nutritious and delicious!!! I'm sad to say that I didn't even want to try this recipe at first because of the simplicity of it... only 3 ingredients: flour, salt, and water (plus the starter). I thought it would probably taste bland and dull since it didn't have oil and sugar in it. The only reason I tried it was because I had volunteered to do a sourdough bread making demonstration for a group from the Weston A. Price Foundation. The Abilene group meets once a month to learn about the benefits of eating healthy, natural foods, no artificial anything- like potato flakes and white sugar. They try to incorporate these healthy eating habits into their own lives. So I was desperate to try it since my previous attempts had been major flops and the meeting was soon approaching. After talking to the group leader, who just happens to make his own sourdough bread, I discovered that the trick was to only let the dough rise once. Normally you knead the bread, let it rise, punch it down, form it into a loaf and let it rise again. But the longer you let sourdough sit, the more sour it becomes. That was my problem. Allowing it to rise twice made it just too sour for my taste buds. If I would have done that with my original recipe and my own sourdough starter, it would have turned out fine, but it would not have been acceptable for the bread demonstration because of the added oil and sugar in the recipe. That's why I am extremely happy with this new recipe, it's just simply delicious!

Below I'm posting how to make your own sourdough starter and 3 of the recipes I demonstrated at the Weston A. Price meeting. Give 'em a try.
p.s. If you live here and want some of my starter I'd be happy to share some with you.

Nourishing Traditions Sourdough Starter:

(makes about 3 qts)

2 cups freshly ground rye flour

2 cups cold filtered water

cheesecloth

6 cups freshly ground rye flour

cold filtered water

Best results for sourdough starter are obtained from rye rather than wheat flour, perhaps because rye contains a lower phytate content than wheat. You will need two gallon-sized bowls. Total time to make the starter is 1 week.

Grind 2 cups flour and let it sit for a bit to cool. In one large bowl, mix flour with 2 cups cold water. The mixture should be quite soupy. Cover with a double layer of cheesecloth secured with a rubber band---this will allow yeasts and bacteria to get in but will keep insects out. In warm weather, you may set the bowl outside in the shade if you live in an unpolluted area and no pesticides have been used in your garden. Otherwise, keep it in a warm open area indoors or on a patio. The next day and every day for a total of 7 days, transfer the starter to the other clean bowl and add 1 cup freshly ground rye flour plus enough cold water to make a soupy mixture. Cover and let stand. After a few days the starter will begin to bubble and develop a wine-like aroma. It should go through a bubbly, frothy stage and then subside. After 7 days, the starter is ready for bread making. Use 2 quarts for a batch of sourdough bread (p. 490) but save 1 quart for your next batch of starter. If not using remaining starter immediately, you may store it in airtight jars in the refrigerator or freezer. Do not be tempted to add honey to your starter, as some recipes require. Honey encourages the proliferation of yeasts at the expense of lactic-acid-producing bacteria and may give you an alcoholic fermentation.

To start a new batch of starter, place the quart of leftover starter in a clean bowl. Add 1 cup freshly ground rye flour plus water each day, changing bowls, until 3 quarts are obtained.


Sourdough Flat Bread (serves 6)

3 cups whole wheat flour

1/3 cup sourdough starter

1 and 1/2 cups warm (not hot) water

3/4 tsp. sea salt

  1. In a ceramic, glass or stainless steel bowl, mix all dry ingredients well
  2. Add liquids and stir until completely mixed.
  3. Cover with a cloth or a lid, and let it set on the counter (7-12 hours). The longer you leave it the more sour it will become.
  4. Cook on a buttered electric griddle (350*) or skillet on medium heat. Scoop out handfuls of dough with wet hands and pat flat. They take longer to cook than pancakes. Flip when bubbles leave a hole in bread.
  5. Top with sausage and cheese, peanut butter and honey, or any combination you like.
PizzaDough/ Hot Pocket Dough (serves 6)
  1. Use the same measurements as Sourdough Flat Bread.
  2. Follow the first 3 steps in that recipe.
  3. Then gradually add ½ cup flour and stir well with a spoon.
  4. Sprinkle some flour on counter top.
  5. Make 6 equal size balls of dough.
  6. Roll each one out until dough is between ¼-1/8” thick.
For Pizza: Spread pizza sauce with a spoon, then add toppings and cheese. Bake @ 400*F for 12-15 minutes.
For Hot Pockets: Place hot pocket ingredients on one half of the circle leaving a ½” space along edge so you can fold dough over and seal. Pinch edges until sealed. Poke a few holes in the top with a fork. Bake @ 400*F for 15-17 minutes.

Whole Wheat Sourdough Bread (makes 1 loaf)

*** IMPORTANT TIP***

(For each loaf of bread you will use ¼ cup starter, 1 cup water, and 1 tsp. salt)

(Time from start to finish in baking a loaf of bread is approximately 10-12 hours)

(7 hours to make sponge, 2-3 hours for loaf to rise, 30-60 minutes to bake, depending on loaf size)

Directions

1. First make a sponge. In a glass or ceramic bowl add:

  • ¼ cup sourdough starter
  • 1 cup warm (not hot) water
  • 1 cup flour

Stir and let this sponge sit on the counter (covered with a cloth) for 7-12 hours. The longer it sits, the more sour it will be.

2. In a large mixing bowl add 1 cup whole wheat flour and 1 tsp.salt.

3. Mix well.

4. Add the sponge to the dry ingredients and stir with a spoon until you can’t anymore.

5. Add 1 more cup of flour and knead aggressively by hand for exactly 15 minutes (the time is important!)

6. Form the dough into a loaf and with a sharp knife score the top of loaf and let rise until doubled in size (2-3 hours depending on room temperature)

7. Heat oven to 350*F

8. Bake for 30-45 minutes


Wednesday, November 3, 2010

They're Back

By Chelsa

As I was out on this crisp fall morning doing my farm chores, I thought I faintly heard a familiar sound. I stopped what I was doing, walked over to a clearing, and gazed up into the heavens and just listened. My heart skipped a beat and I smiled when I realized what it was. I now clearly heard the lovely sound; beautiful music to my ears. As my eyes adjusted to the distance, I saw their graceful form; magnificent symmetry in the sky.

The Sandhill Cranes are back. They have migrated once again from Canada to the Abilene area. Every year large flocks of them come in with the first big cold front. They usually start trickling in a few at a time, around the end of October. Many of them make their winter home around here until mid March, when they begin their long flight back. It's hard to count, but I know that at least 600 of them fly over our house every morning and evening during the winter months. They fly around in small groups all throughout the day and I enjoy that immensely, but I love it best and it's the most spectacular when it coincides with the sunrise and sunset, as they all travel at once. If it's too cold to go outside to watch the show, I can just sit in my living room by the wood burning stove and watch them from my big west windows as they sail off into the sunset. It's a beautiful sight to behold, a joy to my heart, and music to my ears. And it's a time when I think about the awesomeness of God and his creation. Thank you Lord.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Samantha and Roman's First Play Day!

By Chelsa

Saturday night we drove to Hawley to watch Samantha participate in her first ever Play Day. It was special because both sides of the family were in town to see it and everyone was excited to be there to support Samantha. The parents and grandparents enjoyed watching her fulfill her dream of riding Roman in a race. The boys spent the evening climbing back and forth over the pipe fencing while rooting on their sister and trying not to knock Granny off the top rail where she was perched to get a better view. Sierra tossed the football with Creg and Gramps between races.

Samantha participated in two events: The Flag Race and The Goat Ribbon Pull. In the Flag Race you sprint your horse to the other end of the arena, run around a barrel which has a flag sticking out the top, grab the flag and sprint back to the starting line. She made it to the semi-finals and had the 2nd best run. In the Goat Ribbon Pull she won first place! Here's what you do: First you sprint your horse up to a goat that is tethered to a 6 ft. rope (it has room to run around a bit), jump off your horse, run to the goat which has a ribbon tied onto it's tail, pull off the ribbon, and run with the ribbon to the finish line. She had a time of 11. 39 seconds which was better than any other time in any age group. She was nervous at the beginning, but handled it like a pro. You would have never known it was her first Play Day. Way to go Samantha!!

P.S. Our thanks to Robert and Georgeanne Cole who encouraged Samantha to participate and even came by with their trailer to pick up Roman!