Sunday last was an exceptionally nice day for my family. It was not exceptionally nice because we went somewhere different, or did out-of-the-ordinary things, or had anything unusual happen. It was exceptional because I was home with my family, the sun was shining, and our day was spent on home, land, and community-focused activities. In other words, it was a perfectly ordinary Sunday in October. I’d like to tell you a little bit about it.
Marlene and I were up early (but not too early) and took a short walk to the end of our road. The air was autumn crisp and clear. The sun was just coming up, bright and strong. We had the road to ourselves (except for our dog, Annie, who loves to take walks). No automobile traffic. No sounds of human activity in the distance. Just the stillness of the morning. It was a good way to start the day.
Our home is situated on the east side of a small valley, almost, but not quite, to the crest. So, as the sun begins to rise each day, our small parcel of land is in a shadow for a few minutes while the other side of the valley is illuminated. This next picture, taken from in front of our house, shows the view down the road and over to the west side of the valley. Our house is off to the left side and a little behind from where I took the picture
The trees were in peak color on Sunday. The reds and yellows are particularly vibrant this year. That, of course, added to the pleasure of our walk and the day ahead.
On the way back to the house, we stopped and pulled some carrots from the garden to make a morning glass of fresh carrot juice. Marlene added some Amish-grown celery from the farmer’s market (I‘ve never grown celery, but really think I should give it a try). I can, however, grow grapes and I have a row of them by the garden. Here’s a picture of my Concord grapes on the vine.
Marlene and I each picked a small cluster of grapes and ate them. Just-picked Concord grapes are indescribably good. Someday soon, before the harshness of winter arrives, we will pick all the grapes and make juice. And I will wish I had planted more than one row.
When we got back to the house, I tended to my garlic. I am working to get this year’s crop of garlic processed into garlic powder. Part of the process involves slicing the cloves and dehydrating them. On Sunday morning I sliced and loaded two dehydrators full of garlic. I was up until 2:00am peeling the cloves the previous night. Here’s a picture of my two dehydrator loads of garlic.
I have been photographing the process of turning garlic bulbs into great garlic powder and hope to create a blog tutorial on the subject, much like I recently did on the subject of How To Butcher A Chicken. Stay tuned for that.
Marlene got two of our boys up (the oldest stayed over at a friend’s house) around 8:00 and fed them breakfast. Then we all headed out to dig potatoes together. Some of you who read this may be thinking to yourselves that we are working on Sunday and that is not right. Well, I do not work my regular job on Sundays, and have almost never worked my regular job on Sunday. And we do not allow our children to work for neighbors on Sundays. That is the day we focus our activities almost exclusively on home and church and family. For example, we may dig potatoes together when they need digging.
Those are red Pontiac potatoes. It was a good year for potatoes. Our dog, Annie, enjoyed laying on the cool, freshly-dug soil. Annie is now ten years old. She is the youngest member of our family.
At one point, while digging together, I was reveling in and commenting to my sons about, the beauty of the moment, of us all working together, and the wonders of God's creation, potatoes in particular, and James said to me, "Just think Dad, tomorrow you get to go back to prison." It was a reference to my industrial job and he said it at just that moment to tease me. He understands that my job is the antithesis of what we were at that moment doing and, at 13 years old, he can be a bugger. I feigned anger... "You had to say it didn't you! Now you've ruined everything!" And I proceeded to rough him up a little which, of course, he thoroughly enjoyed. Then we went back to the work of digging.
Someone at my church recently asked me for my advice about how to get kids to work, to enjoy working, and to develop a good work ethic. I didn’t really have a good answer at the time. I said something about modeling a good work ethic for them and hope that someday it “clicked.” But I’ve had a chance to think more about that question.
I believe it is indeed important to be a model of industriousness for our children. But there is more to it than that. I think it is also important to work with our children, not just give them a list of things to do on their own. When two or more work together to get a job done, there is a more positive dynamic to the equation. That’s one of the great things about developing a lifestyle around a homestead-- There is all sorts of work to be done and much of it can be done by family members working together. In time, the joy and challenge of work, of accomplishing tasks, will develop. Then those children will begin undertake work on their own and find it rewarding.
There is more I could say on this subject but that’s enough for now. God knows I’m no expert when it comes to raising children. But there are a few things I’ve done right and helping to instill a good work ethic in my sons is one of them. Of the three, one has less ambition (and less agrarian-focused interests) that the others, but I’ve come to realize that his work ethic is better than most his age. The other two are just exceptionally motivated boys.
What would Sunday be without church? We are, of course, church goers. Our church, pictured above, is only a few miles from our home. It is in a large agricultural pole barn that was converted into a large sanctuary and fellowship hall. If you are in the Moravia, NY area on a Sunday morning, I invite you to come visit my church.
To get there, you go up North Main Street in Moravia, turn right on Oak Hill Road, and drive a couple miles. You will see a very large sign on an old red barn on the left side of the road that says, Jesus is Alive. Turn right into the driveway across from the sign. Our morning service starts at 11:00. On the first and third Sundays of the month we have a dish-to-pass dinner right after the service. You’re welcome to stay for dinner even if you didn’t bring any food.
Last Sunday, Pastor Dale Weed began his sermon with a large candy bar and Proverbs 23:8:
The morsel which thou hast eaten shalt thou vomit up, and lose thy sweet words.
When’s the last time you heard a sermon preached on that verse? About 35 people were in attendance. We usually have a few more than that. But it is a small congregation. Small is good in my book.
I occasionally get an e-mail from a blog reader wondering what kind of church I go to. New Hope Bible Fellowship is an independent, fundamental, Baptist church.
I must admit that I have, in recent years, drifted away from the Baptist “rapture theology” that I grew up learning and believing. Such is due to the Bible teaching of several Reformed men. I’ve also come to think that Calvin’s teaching on predestination may be more in line with what scripture actually teaches.
But neither difference in understanding is, to my mind, any reason not to attend the church I attend. That’s because it is, without any doubt, a Bible-believing, Christ-centered, God-honoring fellowship of local believers.
Something I’ve never been able to fully understand is why some Bible-believing Christians in a rural community, refuse to attend the local Bible-believing church and, instead, travel a half hour (or more) to a city church. Go figure.
We stayed for the dinner after church. Marlene brought a bowl of sliced Roma tomatoes (from our garden) with chopped onions (from our garden) and a little basil (from our garden), mixed with some Italian salad dressing (not from our garden). It’s an example of simple, down-to-earth food that down-to-earth folks enjoy.
If you had a birthday since the last meal, we would all sing Happy Birthday to you and you get to go to the head of the line. James was one of the privileged last Sunday.
After church we headed home, but not before stopping down in Moravia and buying a gallon of locally made cider. We are cider connoisseurs and we love to sample the gallons in October. Every jug you buy in a store is questionable. Most times there is a hint of soapy taste. No store-bought cider is as good as what we’ve made ourselves. But sometimes we are pleasantly surprised. Last Sunday’s gallon wasn’t great, but it wasn’t bad. The jug was empty by the end of the day. Hopefully, we will have time to make our own cider this fall.
When we got home from church, I checked on my onions, which have been drying on screened racks under the roof of our woodshed. It was a good year for onions. I grew enough to last us all winter (we use an average of one a day. There will be quite a few extra to give to friends and maybe even barter with.
Marlene and I and the kids took a few minutes to visit with our neighbors up the road. They packed a moving truck and headed out for Washington State on Monday. We wanted to say good-by and tell them what great neighbors they have been. They truly were good neighbors. They let us use a portion of their land for the past few years as if it were our own. And we were good neighbors in return. We often watched their little girl. We even took her to church with us one Sunday when her parents had to work.
I planted carrots and onions and potatoes on that land this year, and we pastured our turkeys there too. It sure was nice.
When the neighbor listed his house and 8 acres for sale a couple months ago, the first person to look at it put in a purchase offer in for the entire asking price ($136,000). We have not yet met the new neighbors but it’s not likely we will be able to continue using the land as we have. That is disappointing.
As a result, this will be my last year growing a garlic crop to make “Herrick’s Homegrown Garlic Powder.” And there is no way we will have the space to raise turkeys. Our little bit of open acreage will be enough to grow a big kitchen garden and we will still be able to pasture a crop of broilers on the front lawn. Otherwise, our agrarian pursuits are curtailed until we can find a plot of land to purchase, or rent, or something.
Back to Sunday… We finished digging all the potatoes and, later in the day, picked them into crates for winter storage. I spent some time working in my shop, boxing orders for Whizbang chicken plucker parts. Robert went woodchuck hunting. Marlene busied herself with some projects in the house.
James spent part of the afternoon mowing his grandfather’s lawn. My dad has a big lawn and a riding mower. James loves the riding mower because it’s a whole lot more fun than the push mower we use to mow our lawn. I refuse to buy a riding mower. When I was a kid, my dad didn’t have a riding mower. We had only a push mower. I made sure to tell James that. =-)
So there’s a look into the kind of day we had here last Sunday. All in all, it was an ordinary Sunday in October. It was a busy and full day, but it was not a hectic day. It was a day of relaxation, reflection, inspiration, fellowship, variety, accomplishment, and, ultimately, satisfaction. We also all slept good that night.
I love ordinary Sundays in October.
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