Dirt.

I find it splattered on the knees of little pairs of blue jeans and caked on the bottoms of little shoes, ground into the carpet and scattered across the foyer floor.

Dirt.

It’s not that exciting, really. It’s just dirt, it gets washed out, wiped up, swept away, and scrubbed clean. You might not even notice it, unless you don’t have good dirt. Around, the soil is a hard clay clumpy kind of dirt. The water jsut pools and kinds of runs off; it doesn’t soak in deep until it floods. And in the gardens, we have to fix our dirt. So we pile on the compost and we pile on the manure and we pile on the straw and then we set the chickens loose to dig and dig and turn that clumpy clay dirt into rich, healthy soil. And this doesn’t happen overnight, but it’s a process of years of working that dirt until it becomes a life-giving source of nutrients and moisture.

And Jesus said our hearts are just like the dirt when He told His story about the sower planting seeds. The seeds that fell on top of the well-worn path were snatched away by the birds; those seeds never had a chance to grow. And the seeds that fell on the gravel shot up fast, but the lack of roots and the lack of dirt couldn’t sustain the growth. And those tender shoots couldn’t withstand the wind or the storm. And the seeds that fell among the thorny weeds grew up strong but were quickly choked away. But the seeds that were sown into rich, healthy soil grew big and strong and produced much fruit. And if the seeds are like God’s Word, and our hearts are like that dirt, which one are you? Is your seed being stolen away by the distractions of this world or by the devil himself? Is your seed sown into gravel, where you don’t have a strong foundation to withstand the wind and the rain? Or is your seed being choked out by the thorny worries and cares and pleasures of this world?

I hope your seed is sown in good dirt. I hope you’ve worked your soil, and screened out all the rocks, pulled up all the thorny weeds, and fertilized with compost and worm castings and lots of manure. And I hope your seed grows up big and strong and that you can produce fruit, the kind that can only come from being rooted deeply in the Word of God and watered by the love of the Savior.

Dirt. It’s just dirt, but it changes everything. I’m going to work on my dirt.

 

Grab your coffee and find out what’s happening on the homestead.

With daylight stretching longer and longer, and the sun beginning to warm the soil, I cannot wait for spring planting. My fingers itch to get in the dirt and I am already craving fresh summer squash and tomatoes still warm on the vines. I keep reminding myself it’s not really safe to plant for another 6 weeks! But it is time to be working on spring preparations, starting seeds, and getting organized.

Captain Jack II, Blue Andalusian

As our homestead grows, we are working on implementing some permaculture models. The

idea with permaculture is that you work with nature, not against her. Rather than spending hours tilling up so for our new pumpkin patch and in the garden, we put our chickens to work. Operation chicken tractor is in full swing! Ok, we don’t have real chicken tractors, just small coops that we got for a great deal at our local Tractor Supply. We plunked one small farmhouse coop in our garden, which we’ve mulched with old straw bedding from the goat shed. And it’s new residents are the offering of my original 6 Tractor Supply silkie mixes. These white fluffies are having a blast digging up bits of kale and carrot that overwintered and digging for grubs. When it’s time to plant, they will have turned the soil, fertilized, and debugged the garden. It’s a win-win!

Betty the Barred Rock

Up on the hill, we placed our other farmhouse coop with the first 5 chickens I hatched from my Brinsea Octagon Eco Incubator. They hatched from a mix of eggs from Meyer Hatchery: a blue andalusian cockerel, a Rhode Island Red, Buff Orpington, Buff Brahma, and and a slightly peckish barred rock hen. They’re still on the young side, but they should have our pumpkin patch free of weeds and bugs in a month or two. Hubby carries out food and water every morning! Of course, we still have our main coop with a mix of hens – silver laced Wyandottes, EE’s, RIRs, astralorps, and a beautiful splash Ameraucauna rooster. Egg production is picking up, and I’m hoping for a broody mama hen or two! We have one more coop of chickens – they’re extra special. I have a tiny coop in my home office with 9 various silkies – beautiful month old babies that I hatched from eggs from Wright Fancy Feet Farm. I love watching them feather out and they are getting so fluffy and beautiful!
We’ve had a problem with hawks, which is a sad reality of free ranging. A good rooster is a great help to the flock, of course, but we also have some surprising new guard dogs. A couple of crows have taken up residence in our trees. I thought they were just a creepy nuisance until I heard them, angrily chasing off a hawk circling our chicken yard. Somebody give those crows a great big hug!

We’re also looking at new greenhouse plastic for our hoophouse, an additional hoop house, an looking for perennials to add to our garden. I can’t wait to plant sunchokes, heirloom beans, and all kinds of squash. We’re hoping to add a Nigerian Dwarf doe to our herd and look into breeding our sweet Maisy as soon as she is old enough. Maisy and Jasper are enjoying the sun and love frisking and frolicking! We are searching for a good goat fence to give them room to forage and to pasture our chickens, and I can’t wait to sell our extra produce this summer. We love our fresh, chemical free veggies!

Since I couldn’t wait any longer to get my fingers in the dirt, I had to bring

Elvis, the silkie roo

some dirt into my kitchen. I planted some 21 day radishes, a pot full of lettuce, started some sweet potatoes for slips, and sprouted a handful of soup beans. It amazes me every time that a tiny seed can become a plant that provides food for my family. Only God’s creative nature could have come up with that plan! Every time a seed sprouts, I see God’s hand at work. If God can bring about delicious fruit from a meager seed, how much more can He do in our lives when we just open up to Him. I can’t wait to see what He and our garden will be up to this spring!

What are you doing new (or old) in your garden this year?

I was ready. Ready to get my hands and feet in the soft warm dirt. Ready to get my spade, and my worm castings, and my birthday garden gloves, and sprinkle all those tiny, delicate seeds across the soil in my crop garden. I was ready to dig and double dig, ready to plan and prep my new kitchen garden off the back porch. And I was ready to put the young pullets out in the chicken tractor, so they could fertilize and dig up a space for the pumpkin patch. I was so ready. It was only February, but the unusually warm sunny days meant we were hitting the playground in a T-shirt and basking in the sun. It was still winter, but the sun’s rays were already starting to tan my pale dry skin. The sun was good for my mood and the play time was good for my little ones, but I knew in my heart,  I was just rushing spring.

Just as swiftly as the warmth enveloped our homestead, it left again, making the chilly feel chillier and the wind whipping right down to our very bones. Good thing I handn’t started my sweet little seeds or dug a new bed for the sunchokes. I wanted spring badly, but I had to wait it out. You can’t rush spring. Who would have thought that after the sunny reprieve we would see a massive snowstorm at the cusp of spring. Thankfully not the crippling blizzard that was predicted, but just enough to disrupt work and school and business and to give us all a chance to rest and play and drink hot cocoa while we dried our sopping wet mittens.

Isn’t that just like God?

With all of our technology, and our brilliant minds, and years of record keeping of snowfalls and weather patterns, God never fails to surprise. Perhaps he chuckles at us, dancing and twirling in the warm of the sun in the middle of winter, and gets giddy when we are calmed and stilled by a heavy blanket of snow. Isn’t that just like God?

The One who knows we need a reprieve from the bitter cold and the cloudy skies and brings warmth.

The One who knows we need a few days to just stand still and to spend with our little ones because they are growing up way too fast in a world that never slows down.

The One who reminds us that He is God and He is not bound by our brilliant minds and our brilliant works and our brilliant technologies.

Isn’t it just like God, to be the One whose inherent brilliance outshines our greatest everythings?

And isn’t it just like God to remind us to love the season we’re in. To live fully in the now, not lost in the past or pining for the next thing. To tease out all the good and take in all the beauty and reflect on all that He has done for us in this season He has given us.  Isn’t like God to remind me that I won’t enjoy my winter if I’m already rushing spring?

Praise to the One who rules the spring and the winter and warmth and the snow and Who speaks life and love into each and every one of our days.

 

This is the day that the Lord has made.
    Let us rejoice and be glad today!

Psalm 118:24, NCV