Happy 40th, Shaun!

“There are ‘friends’ who pretend to be friends, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.” (Proverbs 18:24)

I was an only child almost until my 12th birthday. I used to envy my friends, cousins, etc. who had siblings; romanticize my mother’s family of 11 kids and my maternal grandfather’s ginormous family of 18 kids (yes, 18!). I even went to high school with a brother and sister who were 2 of 19. And I thought that was awesome. But, by then, it was because I finally had a brother, who I thought was awesome, so multiplying the number would be even better. Surely, a bit of Americanization there where more, or bigger, is better. Perhaps having a little brother was really so awesome because he was the only one and we were able to form a more loving bond with each other without the extra competition for each other’s time. Needless to say, I oscillated between spoiling him one minute and losing patience trying to keep up with him when the parental units took full advantage of this built-in babysitter the next. My teenage self grumbled with the enforced responsibility; today I miss the friend my brother has always been sharing trips to the Quonset Air Show; visits to King Richard’s Faire and even the perpetual viewing of “A Christmas Story” every day in December and “Short Circuit” the rest of the year.

My brother, Shaun, has made a career in the United States Army so visits are few and far between. He and his wife, and my two nieces, currently live in Tennessee. We’ve missed so much of each other’s lives in recent years but I couldn’t be more proud of him. And I love him more each and every day.

And, yes, Shaun, if you’re reading my blog post this is a bit “mushy” for a “macho” soldier turning 40 years old today. But, always remember, I changed your diapers. And now it’s gone public.

LOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOL!

I love you, “Little” brother (at more than a few inches over 6 feet, you’re not exactly “little” anymore…).

May God bless you & keep you!

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Happy Nowruz!

“If I had the gift of being able to speak in other languages without learning them, and could speak every language there is in all of heaven and earth, but didn’t love others, I would only be making noise. If I had the gift of prophecy and knew all about what is going to happen in the future, knew everything about everything, but didn’t love others, what good would it do? Even if I had the gift of faith so that I could speak to a mountain and make it move, I would still be worth nothing at all without love. If I gave everything I have to the poor people, and if I were burned alive for preaching the Gospel but didn’t love others, it would be of no value whatever.” (1 Corinthians 13:1-3)

It is in learning one another’s language–and culture–that we show our love for one another. It is in learning one another’s language and culture that we lose the fear and distrust that keeps us starving little people on this planet. This article appeared in The New York Times last March. An Iranian friend shared it with me then; I am sharing it with you today. I’m a day late, as usual, as Nowruz was yesterday, the first day of spring. Better late than never. It is a wonderful article, written by Iranian-American author, Firoozeh Dumas. I hope you enjoy it.

May God bless you & keep you!

Let it Snow, Let it Snow, Let it…Really?

“Cleanse me with hyssop, that I may be pure; wash me, make me whiter than snow”. (Psalm 51:9)

With last week’s nor’easter dumping over 14 inches on northeastern Connecticut, everyone in this part of the country should be almost virginal…or else we’re the bad apples of the country and in great need of that purification. (Chuckle)

And forgive my cynicism. In truth, there is none in my heart. Even about the snow. I am one of those weirdos who actually LOVES snow. I don’t mind a bit sloughing through 14 inches to get to the barn. And, as this was a light, fluffy snow, it was easy to shovel us out and about. However, it did chase away the gardening bug. A little over a week ago, I had been contemplating getting the garden beds prepped. Two nor’easters in as many weeks have put that activity on a back burner; ditto for the pruning of apple and crabapple trees–mainly because getting to them is a bit of a challenge at the moment. What little snow is left has turned to ice by morning, and slippery slush by afternoon.

This is mid-March. When I look back at just a decade or two ago, sure, winter extended into March but it didn’t start in late-February, early-March, as more recent winters have done. More, though it has only been a week, those 14 inches have melted down to about 2 inches; snow when I was a kid (granted, that’s like a few centuries ago) lasted weeks on end. I’m used to seeing snow in early-February, January, even December. Despite the 14 inches that fell outside my window last week, this is actual proof of climate change. It’s kind of scary; we need this sort of snowfall all winter long to replenish our waterways. Without it, we’re in danger of future droughts–not unlike that which California has been experiencing in recent years.

And, yes, I hear all of the climate change naysayers coming out of the woodwork. How is this “actual proof of climate change?” Warm air is forced to rise over cold air. Though the warmer temps are enough to melt some of our polar ice caps, as cooler air rises from that melted ice, it meets that warmer air, forms clouds, which then result in either snow or rain (Kitchen, 2016, p. 91). In this case, we got snow. And, judging only by a storm like this, we’re judging by weather, not by climate. “Weather is what we experience on a day-to-day basis. One day can be hot and dry and the next cool and wet. Climate can be related to the statistical probability that any day during the year will be similar to the same day the previous or following years” (Kitchen, 2016, p. 4). In other words, the earlier start of winter that many of us remember from as short a time ago as a decade, versus the late appearance of snow that has been happening for a few years now, is evidence of a change in our climate. The climate, our earth, is warming up. It should be in a cooling trend based upon the earth’s natural cycling. Oftentimes, we look at the weather, which is cold and/or snowy, and think how can this be “global warming”? I think, at times, this is a misnomer. It makes the whole subject confusing, and often scary, for any but the most seasoned meteorologist. The term “global warming” applies to the climate but weather may often be very different and seem at odds with the climate. A lot of it has to do with jet streams and how that melt off travels via those jet streams.

This may seem a strange subject for a Christian minister to tackle. I know plenty of others in the Christian community who fall into denial based upon biblical promises that God will never again destroy the earth as He did in the great flood (Genesis 8:20-22). Am I doubting this promise? No. And climate change advocates are not denying this promise. Even after Noah’s time there are famines and floods described in the Bible (i.e. Matthew 7:24-25; Revelation 12:15-17), just not to the magnitude of covering (and destroying) the whole earth. As Christians, we often lament that God doesn’t appear to talk to us as clearly and directly as He did Noah and Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. But maybe He is. Maybe all of these changes, all of the freak storms and natural disasters that keep hitting us in intensity and frequency are His way of telling us we’re not using His resources in a responsible manner so that there will be enough for later generations. If not God, Gaia is surely speaking. She’s gagging and gasping for an air that doesn’t sting and burn and destroy her.

I am reminded of the Parable of the Three Servants in Matthew 25:14-30 where a man goes away and leaves each of his three servants a certain amount of money. The first two invest their keepings and double the money; the third, distrusting, digs a hole to keep it “safe” and only gives back what he was given. He is chastised for this. And the money he kept safe, taken and distributed to the first two men. We are given currency in the form of the air we breathe, the soil we grow our food in and build our homes upon, the water we drink, cook and clean with. Instead of keeping it all in clean and healthy growth, as the first two servants did with the loaned money, we’re burying it all in carbon emissions, chemical fertilizers and plastic waste. We call it progress. But how is it progress when the only thing that grows in these conditions are more cancers, respiratory ailments and greater poverty? How is it progress when there is a perpetual increase in species’ extinctions on a day-to-day basis? Yes, Man is given dominion over the earth. But we are abusing that authority.

So, what can we do? What can we do as average, blue–or even white–collar workers? Some of these suggestions may seem like a drop in the bucket but, if each of us takes a few baby steps to reduce our waste, our energy usage, that drop can become a flood of a different sort. Got a leaky faucet? If you have to save to have it fixed, save.
And then get it fixed. You’ll save water. You’ll save energy if that water is also warm rather than cold. You’ll save even more on your electric bill if you have a well with a pump that’s kicking on every couple of hours to replenish your tank. I sheared $25.00 off of my electric bill each month by having a leaky kitchen faucet fixed so there’s a win-win situation. Get rid of the lawn; it’s useless. This is the U.S. It will never look as pristine as the old English manor house because our climate (there’s that word again) is different than England’s. The only way to get “pristine” in the U.S. is to use chemicals. And you’re part of the problem if you’re doing so. Plant low-maintenance plants that don’t require a lot of watering instead. Better yet, plant some fruits, veggies, herbs. And grow them without the Miracle Grow and Round-Up. Create a backyard habitat for birds, amphibians and other wildlife. If you bake, consolidate your baking and do it all in one day as homemakers of old did, putting everything in the oven at the same time. This saves energy. And money. And, if all of this sounds more like thrifty homemaking advice, that’s because the two go hand-in-hand. If you can walk to the grocery store, walk. Get one of those little shopping carts in which to carry your purchases home. In the U.S. we have the freedom to vote. Use that freedom to vote for those who want to preserve life in all its forms: animal life, plant life, insect life. Human life…regardless of socioeconomic standing, skin color, orientation, country of origin or religious beliefs. Vote for those who will invest in better infrastructure so that walking, bicycling and public transit become safer alternatives. Google Amsterdam + bicycles and see what this great city is doing. Don’t trust politicians? I don’t necessarily blame you. The U.S. government seems to be heavily influenced by the oil cartels, big pharma and pesticide/fertilizer giants who don’t give a damn if you or I live or breathe as long as they get their 7+ figure bonuses each year. They can afford to buy a new oceanfront McMansion in Ohio; the honeybees and future generations of children can’t survive their chemical pollution. They can also afford the expense of trucking in what produce they can grow without honey bees from northern Canada. And, once that part of the earth is exhausted, well, they won’t be here to care…nor do they seem to care that their children and grandchildren will have to live with those consequences.

Yes, I’m hitting hard. I’ve had enough. I do trust God to provide for our needs. But I also feel that we should be taking better care of what He has given us. Because our resources are not infinite. And there is a price being paid that will only get bigger as time goes on unless we take some real steps to try and turn this around. I don’t want to start over again on Mars, creating another big waste dump out of what was once a beautiful planet. I love earth. And, what started as an itty bitty blog post about a recent snowstorm has turned into a full-blown tidal wave on climate change. But it’s important. Because life is important. And we’re destroying life on this planet. One species at a time.

May God bless you & keep you!

REFERENCES

Kitchen, D. (2016). Global Climate Change: Turning Knowledge into Action. New York, NY: Routledge Publishing.

A Sustainable Life

“Do nothing out of selfishness or out of vainglory; rather, humbly regard others as more important than yourselves, each looking out not for his own interest, but also everyone for those of others.” (Philippians 2:3-4)

I’m searching for that one thing to take root and hold. That side hustle, as some may call it, that will help to supplement what I earn at my “day” job. Perhaps it is many things: writing, blogging, art, crafts. Perhaps it is even a return to doing some Reflexology, Reiki and/or Touch for Health on the side. If I had a safe place to practice, I might be tempted. And it is certainly a goal to eventually have a room set aside here at home for a holistic health practice in the future. But, for now, it isn’t possible.

One step at a time…

That is my dream: a sustainable homestead. Not just sustainable in being as environmentally-friendly as possible (although that is one definition and certainly part of the dream), but sustainable on a financial scale, too. I am working towards that day when I can earn a living for and from myself, rather than someone else. A day when this homestead provides an income (or many), along with writing and artwork. But it will take a while to get there, I’m thinking.

And it will never happen as long as I keep focusing on Self.

What can I do as a writer to help others? To fulfill a need or a longing? What can I do as an artist? Or a homesteader for the same? How may I use my talents to serve Him better, His children better? Those are the questions I should be asking. And it shouldn’t matter the outcome. I.e. whether or not it sustains me because my faith tells me to trust Him; He is already providing for my needs. Can He use me to provide for others? To teach? To listen? To share? For too long now I have been operating from a place of want. It’s time to change the way I look at things. I used to say the line from Jewel’s “Deep Water” about my “standard of living somehow got stuck on survive” reflected my way of life. I’m taking a leaf out of Casting Crown’s book now, “It’s time for us to more than just survive; we were made to thrive!”

You can’t get more sustainable than that.

May God bless you & keep you!

Hall, J. M. (2014). “Thrive.” Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC.
Kilcher, J. (1998). “Deep Water.” EMI Music Publishing.

https://www.patreon.com/theherbalhare

Something to Crow About

“But He replied, ‘I tell you, Peter, before the cock crows this day, you will deny three times that you know me’.” (Luke 22:34)

One of my earlier homesteading dilemmas was the fate of three extra roosters here at The Herbal Hare Homestead. The three cockerels hatched last August have grown up big and beautiful. But they are also showing signs of aggression towards their sire–and each other–which is quite normal behavior for roosters. So I posted on my Facebook account, a few weeks’ before I gave it up for Lent, that I was looking for a home for them but, of course, they would only go to a home where they would be kept for protecting any hens on site. They were not to go to any “home” where they would ultimately end up in the proverbial stew pot. I got a few “Likes”, even a few serious offers of help from people who knew other farmers who might be interested.

However, after a recent purging of extra roosters at work, I have decided instead to simply build a few chicken tractors here. There is certainly enough land that I can make it work and, as there are plans to re-stock hens this year anyway, I can give them each their own little harem. For the time being, they are in some roomy pens with perches and other paraphernalia needed to keep them happy and healthy. It’s a little more work on my end but they’re worth it.

I met someone earlier this week who referred to his livestock as “pets that produce”. I like that. And it certainly falls in line with the core values that are at the foundation of The Herbal Hare Homestead: that any animal residing here need not fear their end unless they prove too aggressive towards the other inhabitants here. While MIG, Hummer and Radar would certainly fall into that category if I let them free range with Sargent Feathers, Tank and Corporal Denim (all three of whom free range and get along beautifully; have been for many years), with a little Yankee ingenuity, there’s another solution that will keep them out of harm’s way.

And, truth be told, I’ve truly grown attached to these boys. Though their natural tendency is to fight each other, towards their humans they are as gentle as lambs. Those are the kind of roosters that do a homestead proud. And, while I am definitely not writing Sargent Feathers or Corporal Denim off any time soon, they are both 7 years old; life expectancy for chickens is around 8 years. I am anticipating needing a few good roosters to protect future generations of hens.

Now let’s just hope there aren’t any males mixed in with this year’s re-stocking…

May God bless you & keep you!

PS I am now on Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/theherbalhare

Bass Ackwards

“I am confident in this, that the one who began a work in you will continue to complete it until the day of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 1:6)

Despite working with computer and online technology for at least a couple of decades now, I still flub up every now and again. Part of it may be that whenever I go to a new site, new application, etc., I am more liable to just start following menu paths and clicking here and there as to read the actual instructions beforehand.

Such is the case with my new Patreon site. I was supposed to build suspense by posting little snippets of its launch on my social media sites, my blog, etc. Well, as I’ve given up social media for Lent, such a climatic approach would be nearly impossible anyway. So, I clicked the “Launch” button almost from the moment I first logged into the site. Needless to say, a quick visit, at this point, would be a little anticlimatic anyway; I haven’t downloaded much yet.

Bear with me; fiction, in the form of short stories, some poetry, some samples of business icons, etc. as well as paintings, drawings, knitted, hand-spun and hand-woven items will appear from time to time. Perhaps even some herbal products as time goes on. I’m still working it all out.

So, what is Patreon? “Patreon is a membership platform that makes it easy for creators to get paid.” We’re challenged to memorize that; I haven’t yet. It’s in a spiral-bound notebook for the moment. (Chuckle)

This menu path should bring you to my Patreon page if you’d like to check it out: https://www.patreon.com/theherbalhare

May God bless you & keep you!

PS If, for some reason, this doesn’t bring you to the site (may have to copy and paste in search engine), please post a comment below and I will check into it. Again, I’m still learning. Thank you for reading my blog…and for your patronage! =)