Our house is ever changing. Walls being knocked down and new ones being built. Frankly it looks a mess. We’ve peeled wallpaper, ripped down ceilings, taken up floorboards and taken the house back to its bare bones. We have a vision for the beautiful home it will be, but right now it’s hard to see that. Part of the house is seemingly finished, but still it is a work in progress. There are always pictures to go up, curtains to hang and finishing touches to add. With 11 people living here we also make a mess and create dust, it all requires constant work.
All this stripping back got me thinking. It’s rather like what God does in our lives. He allows us to go through tough times, times when it feels as if we are so raw, when the pain is so deep it feels like you can barely catch your breath. How can our loving Father allow us to go through that?
I know He isn’t distant from our pain, for His Word explains how He feels it too. I was meandering through Acts recently when I came across fresh ‘manna’ for the day. Saul had famously met with Jesus on the road to Damascus and Jesus called out, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?’ I wondered why he said that when Saul was killing Christians, not Christ? I realised that when something is causing pain to one of God’s children, they are causing pain to the body of Christ and thus to Him. Upon reading this verse I was taken aback as I contemplated the level of pain that Christ must feel each day as He carries our burdens. Pain is no longer ours to bear alone. Christ really does carry it for us.
How in reality can we give our pain to God? It is a question I have been asking of late. Phil has a gift, he lives in the moment and let’s go of the past, or just forgets it. I don’t find it so easy. I have the memory of an elephant and I never have an empty mind, generally I am like a computer with too many tabs open. The tabs have recently been overwhelming me, as many of them were too painful to open. I asked God to show me how to let go and gradually I’m learning. I am choosing to follow the advice given in Philippians 4:8, ‘Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things’. I realised that much of my time was being spent focusing on the wrong things. I was focusing on my sadness and the grief and in doing so was finding myself anxious and low. If I am to truly to heal, I need to follow God’s advice and be careful what I think of.
I am so much happier this week having spent my days listening to gentle music, reading the Bible to myself and the children, knitting, sewing and writing. In some ways it just feels like the self care the world would administer, but God thought of it first. God knows our human frailties and has an answer for each of them. The answer to leaving our troubles in God’s hands? Turn away from thinking about them constantly and fill our minds with pure and lovely things and watch Him melt away the pain, as He takes it from us.
One day I won’t feel so raw and I will have strength to think about Dad’s death, but for today I need a break and God, in His goodness, has shown me how to find one.
I wasn’t sure what I would write tonight, only that writing was what I must do. I hope that someone somewhere needed to hear these words. If I can help in any way, please feel free to drop me a message.
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Storm Arwen hit our smallholding hard near the end of last year. I was just reeling from the news of my Dad’s sudden death when an enormous storm rolled in and took down 7 of our trees. It seemed to be a physical reminder of the inward storm I was experiencing.
Phil and the older children went outside to assess the damage in the evening and already we’d lost some trees. We braced for the night ahead and prayed that nothing would damage any people or our home. We have around 100 trees here, so we were ripe for the picking as the wind gathered momentum.
Naming storms is a fairly new idea, I suppose it sort of personalises them, although it doesn’t make them any friendlier! In many ways though I am thankful to Storm Arwen, for she taught me a lesson.
We woke the following morning and peered out nervously from behind the curtains, the winds were beginning to subside and the full damage was laid before us. We all went back outside to see what had become of our trees and property. It looked fairly shocking, trees blocked the driveway and the area by the barn was a huge tangle of branches. It was Saturday morning and it quickly became apparent that we would have to undertake some serious work if we were to get our bus out to get to our usual weekend activities.
I was so grateful that it was the weekend and the older children were all at home. They worked with Phil to move the trees and make a way where there had previously been no way through.
I suspect you can see how God was starting to speak to me through this. I was still so raw from my Dad’s sudden death and I could see no way through the pain, but God was showing me. He gently demonstrated that the strength of my family, which he had given me, were going to help me find a way through my emotional storm.
The following weekend the family team got to work turning the fallen trees into logs. The chainsaw rang out all weekend, as a great pile of useful firewood was created. These trees had stood for decades and yet through their loss we were to be warmed and cared for, their loss was not in vain.
Again God was reminding me that he will always bring good from our pain. For he promises in Romans 8:28, ‘And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.’
After Christmas we still had branches scattered around which were too small for firewood. After much consideration Phil decided to buy a chipper. We have so many trees that we felt that it was a worthwhile purchase. The chippings will go on our flowerbeds and in our compost bin to help keep our waste aerated. Nothing will be wasted.
God is so good, he continues to gently lead me through the pain of grief and He’s using His creation to help me understand how he works through the storms of life.
We’ve massively failed on the Christmas card front this year, so this is our Christmas blessing to all of our friends and family. Some of you who read the blog are friends we have never met, but your faithful following of the blog has been such a blessing to us over this last year, so thank you to each and every one of you.
It’s been a full year with highs and lows. We’ve renovated a huge amount of our property and have continued to create a home for our family and for those who come and visit us. With the kitchen complete and the lounge just about finished, we are ready for Christmas
The death of my dad has been a huge loss, but God is carrying us through and we are full of joy that Dad now rests with our Heavenly Father.
The children have all had a good year. Christopher has completed his year in industry, on a dairy farm, and is now in his final year studying agriculture. Jonathan did well in his GCSEs and is now doing A-levels, as he plans, God willing, on becoming an architect. Madeleine is working hard at school and has settled in well, but has been particularly excited by the arrival of a pony called Rosie. Elizabeth is very busy doing gymnastics in the National squad, this takes up four evenings of her week. Matthew has started Scouts and is loving it. Hannah has made lots of friends and loves attending our weekly home ed group. Stephen also enjoys the group and spends most of the time there playing football. Michael has started swimming this year and spends the whole lesson with a huge smile on his face! Katie is full of conversation and keeps us all entertained.
Phil and I are continuing to work as a team to fulfil the vision God has given us. We are very busy, but make time to enjoy some time with just the two of us in the evenings, a couple of nights a week.
I’ve struggled to pull Christmas together this year, with Dad dying and his funeral on December 14th, it was hard to find the energy. Thankfully the team pulled together and we’re just about ready. The oldest girls helped with some of the shopping and wrapping and Phil did the food shopping, as he always does, and the rest, well we sort of muddled through, or let it go. I read this today and it really resonated with me. Nothing can replace scripture and this is not intending to, but it helped me to make Corinthians 13 relevant to my life today.
‘If I decorate my house perfectly with plaid bows, strands of twinkling lights and shiny balls, but do not show love to my family, I’m just another decorator.
If I slave away in the kitchen, baking dozens of Christmas cookies, preparing gourmet meals, and arranging a beautifully adorned table at mealtime, but do not show love to my family, I’m just another cook.
If I work at a soup kitchen, carol in the nursing home, and give all that I have to charity, but do not show love to my family, it profits me nothing.
If I trim the spruce with shimmering angels and crocheted snowflakes, attend a myriad of holiday parties, and sing in the choir’s cantata but do not focus on Christ, I have missed the point.
Love stops the cooking to hug your child.
Love sets aside the decorating to kiss your husband.
Love is kind, though harried and tired.
Love doesn’t envy another’s home that has coordinated Christmas china and table linens.
Love doesn’t yell at the children to get out of the way.
Love doesn’t give only to those who are able to give in return but rejoices in giving to those who can’t.
Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, and endures all things.
Love never fails. Video games will break, pearl necklaces will be lost, golf clubs will rust. But giving the gift of love will endure.’ ~ Unknown.
If you want to hear more about our escapades over the next year, be sure to subscribe to the blog. You can also follow us on Instagram at ‘goldbyfamilybusydays’. Praying that you all feel the joy of the Lord this Christmas. Lots of love and blessings, The Goldby Family
Three weeks ago we heard the terrible news that my dad had suddenly died of a heart attack. My mind whirled as I struggled to process the news. I haven’t written for several weeks, as I have been working through the reality of what has just happened and I was also preparing my heart for the funeral. Today we said goodbye to dad, goodbye to grandad. It was sad on the one hand, but seeing family was wonderful and knowing my dad is at rest with his Saviour has given me immense peace.
I was asked to deliver, at the funeral, a personal reflection about Dad. I have included it here, in its fullness, I had to condense it slightly for the occasion.
Dad, Grandad, Uncle, Paul, we all had our names for one of life’s treasures, but I grew up calling him my dabby. He had such an amazing memory, and he never let me forget that I once sent him a card with the ds in the middle of daddy turned around to make bs and thus the name dabby stuck. It’s his extraordinary memory that strikes me as being one of his greatest gifts. There was nothing he didn’t seem to remember and then share with us. It’s been relatively easy for me to recollect stories of Dad’s life, as they were often shared with us around the dinner table, never failing to draw a smile, or stir up emotions from the past.
Dad’s earliest memories, that he shared with us, were of the happiest of childhoods. He was blessed to grow up in a home where he was very loved and introduced to church life from an early age. The hymns we chose today were ones he grew up with, singing in the church choir. He used to tell me how he earned pocket money from singing at weddings. It might not have been for the holiest of reasons, but due to his great memory he learnt many hymns, prayers and Bible passages during this time, and they stayed with him, returning to his mind shortly before his passing, but more about that in a minute. His parents, grandmother and godmother Freda doted on him, as an only child, and gave him the opportunity to be himself and they loved him for all his exuberance and mischievousness. He climbed trees, often with his cousin, my Uncle Derek and came home to warm buttered bread, there was no better start.
Dad sadly lost his mother when he was 12 and that broke his heart and in some ways caused him to question his faith, as he and his father had prayed in church for her healing. He just couldn’t understand why God hadn’t answered his prayer, but he had answered, he’d chosen to say no, for God had a better plan, as he always does. Dad’s grandma filled the place of mother and he was very, very close to her. His father continued to take good care of him and when one day, as a teenager, he went for an adventurous bike ride from Wednesfield to Stratford and found himself too tired to return, his reliable father drove the distance to go and collect him.
In his 20s both his grandma and his father died, but by then he’d met mum and was beginning to make his own family. His first foray into childcare was with his niece Joanne, who spent many weekends with Mum and Dad. She was obviously a delight to look after as he went onto to have the 3 of us. I remember he would fondly call her Joanne Francis Amelia Ramsbottom, that was typical of Dad as he always had at least one nickname for each one of us. We were all very blessed to grow up with him and he loved us very much. He played with us, swam with us, took us for long walks, although rather like his bike ride to Stratford, he didn’t always calculate the need for a return journey. I remember one time he told me we walked 8 miles to Alton Towers at which point he realised my 2 year old legs would not make the return journey and so mum was called to collect us.
Mum and Dad, what can I say? They were mad about each other, and often at each other, but theirs was a marriage of true love. They went through much together, they loved to travel and Dad told me many stories of their trips to Yugoslavia in the days when you had to queue for hours to get through the border. Whilst waiting one time they even fried an egg on a wall it was so hot! Dad also loved boats and jet skis and every holiday we would hire them, sadly he seemed determined to sink them though and on more than one occasion we found ourselves bailing out water in an attempt to stay afloat!
Dad was full of fun and many nights were spent over karaoke, and of course he always sang ‘My Way’. He has passed on his love and talent for music to Rebecca and to her children. My lack of tune often reminds me that I missed that particular gene! His second daughter Emma’s vaccine damage at 11 months was one of the most painful things mum and dad ever went through, the pain and the extraordinary work that it took to care for Emma changed the shape of their marriage, but they were a team and they stuck together. Dad was determined that marriage was for life and even when they had their struggles Dad’s stubborn determination that a family stays together, held them together, until that day, that day I will never forget, that day when God called mum home. 30 years ago Paul and Chris were separated by death, but now they are together once again.
God didn’t give up on Dad though, he had a plan and it continued to unfold. Wendy was God’s gift to Dad, Wendy came into Dad’s life when he most needed loving, and she has done that in abundance. Thank you Wendy for loving our Dad, our stubborn but wonderful father, and for giving him so many many happy years.
His later years have been filled with time with Wendy, his garden, his dogs, Holly and then Jenny and of course work. Dad was always an amazing salesman and could have sold snow to an Eskimo! He also had the gift of the gab and kept every telephone contact he ever had in his memory. He worked until just 2 years ago, all be it at the slower pace of working from home. He perfected home working long before lockdowns were even thought of. He managed to combine gardening and working in perfect harmony, for him it was a great balance.
Over the last 19 years he has also loved getting to know his grandchildren. What a legacy he leaves behind. 3 children and now 12 grandchildren are all here because of him, because Dad chose love.
Now it is love that has carried him home. In his last few weeks Wendy shared that Dad talked of little but religion. Now Dad could be quite obsessive, but what an obsession to get just before you meet Christ! God’s timing was perfect, he knew Dad would soon move on to the next life and he was preparing his soul. In his last days, despite having no idea that death was round the corner, he constantly sang ‘Abide with Me’. The words to the song were almost a prayer ringing out from his soul, ‘In life and death O Lord, abide with me.’
Dabby, Paul, we miss him so much and he leaves behind a hole in our hearts, but he is free now, his feet don’t hurt and he can run again, even better than he did as a teenager in the regional cross country. Dad often reminded me than in our Father’s house are many mansions and that there is a room there prepared for each of us. His Heavenly Father has called him to that home now, I couldn’t ask for anything better for him, a wonderful end to a wonderful life.
I’ve been meaning to write this post for a long time, but I’ve been too busy trying to tackle too many things. So many tasks have been needed to be completed simultaneously and I have often lacked the knowledge of where to start.
Tonight Phil and most of the children are out at a fireworks party and for the first time in as long as I can remember I am alone for more than 5 minutes, and I know I am very unlikely to be disturbed for a good while. It’s taken a couple of hours of sweeping up, eating snacks and drinking tea, but I think I’m beginning to wind down. I’ve only got an hour left and I could choose between writing a blog or washing my hair but blogging wins as it is much easier for me to think and write when I’m on my own. Silence is my friend and one I often miss.
The last blog I wrote was weeks ago and I’m sorry I haven’t had chance to update the blog more often, but life got in the way, as it has a habit of doing. So what have we been up to, and what’s this about eating an elephant?
We’ve been living without a proper kitchen for a couple of months, which has been tough. I’ve found my day consumed with walking back and forth to the utility room with washing up. Why haven’t I made the children do the washing up you may ask? Sometimes I have, but sometimes the draw of a quiet room and a repetitive task, which doesn’t argue back, has just been too appealing 😉. It’s been worth it in terms of the beautiful kitchen we now have, but I have struggled with the noise and lack of space to take five.
With so many tradespeople in the house the noise level has been consistently high and my introverted side has been crying out for some space. Praise God for tonight’s silent offering, perhaps it’s something I need to find a way to achieve more often?
There have been so many decisions to make, all whilst listening to the background drone of drills, radios and banging along with the children’s needs ringing out in my ears. We’ve had to choose rendering colour, floor tiles for the kitchen, bathroom wall tiles, bathroom flooring, splash back designs, front door and internal door designs, carpet colours, wall paint colour, new to us (Facebook Marketplace) furniture, soft furnishings…..the list goes on. Thankfully we’ve made no really awful decisions, more by grace than anything else, as we have made all our choices at speed.
The house has been fully insulated and rendered in the last month. This involved weeks of banging, as the insulation was attached the the walls. It does look beautiful, although it is still hidden under a layer of scaffolding as we are waiting for the roofer to come and repair a section of the roof.
So back to the metaphorical elephant I’m trying to eat. I guess I’m learning that one can only take on any task bit by bit and not to look too hard at the overwhelming size of the tasks. The trouble is I’m a visionary thinker, I always see the bigger picture, it’s in my DNA. This ability is a gift from God, and in part why we are living this extraordinary life, but it’s also a weakness, unless I use the gift in the Lord’s strength.
Sometimes I see too much, I see the pain behind people’s eyes (and I want to fix it), I see the future playing out (it often doesn’t look good, apart from the Heaven part), I see the potential problems we might face and I don’t have broad enough shoulders to carry the weight. If silence has been hard to come by I find those burdens weigh me down, as my time alone with God gets harder to carve out.
Until tonight I don’t think I could pin down why I’ve been struggling of late, but in writing and silence I often discover what is buried within. My elephant’s already looking smaller, I think I might just have it in me to tackle one small task, maybe I’ll squeeze in that hair wash before the tribe descends 🙂.
‘And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed.’ Mark 1:35. Even Jesus needed to be alone with his Father. If he needed it then I need it all the more. Trouble is, I don’t like mornings, I guess I’ll pray about that one and ask God to help me find my time with him.
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When we chose to move to the country, one of my main aims was to teach the children as much as possible, through real life, hands-on experiences.
Recently we have been so incredibly busy with the renovations that I was wondering how much learning had been going on, outside of their book work? I paused today, when I realised that, without me trying to plan learning into their week (which I find hard, as I’m more of a winger than a planner), learning was constantly happening.
This week though, we sadly found blood in our chickens’ poo, that was following the loss of three of our new chickens in fairly rapid succession. Our new battery hens appeared to be a dud batch, but after a quick Google search (yes we are Google farmers), we found out the cause. It appears that our hens have coccidiosis. This is apparently normal for hens, but our weak and stressed battery hens had not become immune to it and have thus succumbed to the bacteria. Phil quickly found the right treatment, and hopefully our hens will soon be right as rain. This has been a great opportunity to learn a bit of science, whilst taking care of our lady layers.
Our piglets are doing well, but we have had to take special care of one of them. Wilbur, as he has now been named, was not thriving, after a week or so, his front right leg just wasn’t working properly, and so he couldn’t get to the milk. As the week went on he was not getting better and was rarely with the rest of the litter. We decided that if we didn’t do something, then he would die of starvation. We got him a bottle and some pig formula and very soon he was happily sucking. After a couple of days though, his mother must have sensed his change in smell, and we saw her pick him up in her mouth and throw him against the wall! We quickly picked him up, before he met with an untimely end.
We are keeping him in an old dog crate, lined with straw, with a heat lamp over him. He has milk four times a day and we also take him out a couple of times a day for a play and a cuddle. He is now thriving and his leg is healing and he’s now ready to start on some dry pig food. We’ve done some maths, by weighing him and his sibling, to compare weights, we’ve calculated his formula quantity and his mum’s dried food quantities, as she requires more food now her piglets are growing. The children are loving hand raising the piglet and are learning the responsibility of taking care of him. They have all understood that he is being raised for meat and thankfully they all seem ok with that.
We’ve also been discussing bringing in the pumpkins and the onions, to dry out in the greenhouse. This reminded me of Mr McGregor in the Peter Rabbit books, as Peter’s eyes watered when he was around the drying-out onions. I hope to extendthis activity to improve the younger children’s language skills, by reading the Beatrix Potter stories, which are full of wonderfully rich language, with words like ‘soporific’, which are sadly not found in modern children’s literature.
We are up to our eyeballs in building work, plaster dust and tradesmen’s radios blaring out from various corners of the house. Trying to keep Katie safe is a constant challenge, as she is just so curious! The main part of the build is complete, but there is still much to do. This week our kitchen will start to go in, which we are very excited about. Washing up in the utility room is quite a large extra task, and I shall be very grateful when we have running water in our kitchen and a dishwasher. We’ve really made the most of our new patio and have been able to have a few friends round for dinner and afternoon tea.
Much practical learning has also been gained, as the children are also being constantly exposed to all the skills of the tradesmen who are doing the renovations. They are often found shadowing the plumbers, joiner, electricians or builders and asking lots of great questions, often starting with why?! Thankfully all the workmen are extremely patient, and they even seem to enjoy the children’s curiosity.
Today we decided to try our hand at making Rosehip syrup, from our own Rosehips. We used honey as the sweetener, and it was generally popular. Apparently it has 20 times as much vitamin C as an orange, and should help to fight off the winter bugs.
I’m currently being reminded that seasons of life are not just dictated by the weather, but also the current situation we find ourselves in. We are currently in a very busy season but thankfully God is providing lots of natural learning opportunities, through his creation and through his gracious provision of our home, which is making it much easier to find learning opportunities around every corner.
During these busy and often tiring, but blessed days, I look out on God’s creation and remember,
The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. Lamentations 3 22-23
A week last Saturday our piglets arrived, all 12 of them. It’s taken a while for me to post an update, because I took 6 of the children on holiday, with lots of other Christian home educators, last week, and I’m still busy unpacking and catching up on the washing.
The day of the piglets arrival was a normal sunny Saturday and at just before lunchtime Christopher suddenly rushed up to the window calling, ‘the piglets have arrived.’ Initially I misheard and thought the biscuits had arrived, but realising that a Hob Nob lorry was sadly not outside our house, I came to and figured out that Mrs Piggy (Posy) was busy delivering her first litter. The family rushed to the scene and found Posy seemingly fast asleep, with 3 piglets already born, 2 had found there way to the milk and the third just needed freeing from his cord. After that 5 more arrived in quick succession, with a mixture of oohs and aahhs from the children and the occasional ‘that is just too disgusting!’ Phil felt well prepared for piglet delivery, having delivered our last baby single handed. The process was very similar, but after piglet number 8, came a curve ball. The placenta came out and we thought we must be done, but then another piglet followed fast behind. We were now confused, as this was a significant diversion from our human birthing experience! Another 3 piglets then arrived, the last requiring lots of rubbing and silent waiting, as the children willed it to live like its brothers and sisters. Within a few minutes it had started taking little breaths and the children could be heard breathing their own sighs of relief. I knew our home ed learning experience was in full swing when Matthew ran into the kitchen asking, ‘can we please have a bin liner for the placenta?’
This was what we wanted when we came to live here. We wanted our children to experience learning in a hands on way, a way which enabled all their senses to memorise their experiences.
Soon after the birth, Posy stood up and we moved her behind her farrowing bars. These bars are there to enable her piglets to get to her, but to prevent her from squashing them. This worked well for a few days, but her desire to get to her piglets clearly overcame her when we discovered that she’d broken through into the main pen. Thankfully by this time all the piglets were a bit larger, and she was more adept at avoiding sitting or lying on them.
I must say, I am finding them totally captivating. Whenever I have a moment, I am to be found just watching them. Their antics are endlessly entertaining and stories about them are shared around the dinner table, as we discover many of us have been secretly sneaking off to piglet gaze. Today Elizabeth shared how the piglets had argued over their milk, over who should get which spot, and 3 of them had gone up to mummy’s face and told her in no uncertain terms that this wasn’t fair. Elizabeth said their grunts almost sounded like ‘no, no, no!’.
We plan to sell about 8 of them and raise 4 for meat. Will we be able to sell and eat these gorgeous little grunters? I have no doubt we won’t mind, as they won’t be cute for long and they’ll soon lose their novelty, as the amount of mess they make grows. I’m very thankful to Madeleine, who has taken on the job of pig mucker-outer. She loves to muck out and care for horses, and this is the nearest we can currently get, so she is getting in lots of practice. We are considering loaning a horse for her, if one becomes available.
After the huge excitement of the piglets on the Saturday, we spent the Sunday packing, as I had arranged to take the youngest 6 away to Wales for a home ed holiday, with lots of friends. I thought it would be hard work, taking them on my own, but as we currently have no running water in the kitchen (the water is in the utility which is the other side of the house), it seemed like a good idea to get the children out of the house. Phil needed to stay here, as Jonathan and Madeleine needed to go to school, the animals needed care and the builders needed lots of questions answering. As it turned out, it wasn’t really hard work, as I had loads of help from some lovely teenagers at the camp, and I ended up coming home refreshed and rejuvenated.
Phil on the other hand had discovered how much there is to do at home, even without all the children. We found the experience to be really helpful and it gave us both food for thought. We have been running on empty for a while and have barely stopped in the 2 years, since we arrived. After a few strong words (which we rarely have) with one another and some prayer, we realised that we had been failing to listen to God’s best advice and rest one day in seven. So yesterday we took a real rest, oh my, it was good. After church, we ate lunch, went for a family walk and then came home for a cup of tea, it was bliss! Phil is a very driven man, whose favourite question is, ‘what do we need to achieve today?’, but sometimes, the best thing we can achieve is to rest, and yesterday, we began to learn about that.
‘So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all his work that he had done in creation.’ Genesis 2:3
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‘Ging’ the bull has been with us for a few weeks now. He’s been kindly loaned to us by a friendly farmer from church, with the hope that Mary and Martha the cows will become pregnant. Ging is very sweet and has settled in well. The cows have welcomed him to their field and we hope that he has done his job! Time will tell, 😉.
More imminently we have piglets on the way 😁. 3 months ago Posy the pig went to stay with ‘Trev’ the boar. They had some ‘special time’ together and Posy came home scanned and officially ‘with piglets’. The chap who scanned her reckons she might be having 8-10 piglets, so fun times ahead.
We have brought her in today, to her farrowing pen. We have a bar which we will put across the pen once the piglets have arrived, to prevent her from rolling onto them, whilst allowing her to lie down and let them feed.
We plan to keep the piglets for about 8 weeks and then we hope to sell a few and keep a few.
We’ve also been busy this weekend moving our kitchen from the old kitchen, which we are about to demolish, into the lounge, as a temporary measure until our new kitchen is complete. It’s a pretty good space, but it doesn’t contain any running water and so we are using buckets, washing up bowls and cheap bottled water to drink. Thankfully our church and family have invited us to their houses to eat, and dropped in some meals, which is a huge blessing.
Between animals, building work and looking after the children, life is sometimes extremely busy and I feel that we will never get it all done, but then I remember God’s Word, where He says, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” 2 Corinthians 12:9. It’s not us alone doing all this, it’s Christ in us who gives us the strength and energy for each new day.
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We finally got round to having our anniversary family photo tonight. We’d done one in 2016, when we’d been married 15 years and I was keen to do one now, after 20 years, to see how much everyone has grown.
As today was also the second anniversary of us moving to Shropshire, the day had a very ‘anniversary’ feel about it. Christopher came home (he’s working on a farm 45 minutes away and lives there full time) and we gathered around the table for cake and a time of prayer, thanking God for all he has done, bringing us here.
Our evening devotions were about the Passover, which seemed very apt, as it was all about leaving one place to go to a better place, and it also reminded us that God commanded the Israelites to tell the story to their children each year, so they would not forget what God did.
On the day we moved here, God gave me this verse, ‘When the Lord your God brings you into the land…with…houses filled with all kinds of good things you did not provide, wells you did not dig, and vineyards and olive groves you did not plant—then when you eat and are satisfied, be careful that you do not forget the Lord,’. Deuteronomy 6 10-12. That same day, we arrived to find tomato and grape vines we did not plant, a house filled with furniture we didn’t know would be here, greenhouses filled with all the gardening equipment we would need and a bore hole we did not dig and we remembered the words of the Lord to the Israelites and how the same God was providing for us. He has continued to provide miraculously for us, with chickens and pigs arranged by the TV company, a cow in calf from the farm where our eldest son works and even a Christmas turkey from a neighbour. We will not forget the Lord our God, we will tell this testimony to our children, so that they will always know that they are here because this is where God led us.
Over the weekend we have been able to use our property in one of the ways we had pictured. Our friends asked us several months ago if they could use the space here for their 50th wedding anniversary. At the time it seemed that Covid restrictions may prohibit it, but praise God they have lifted and the party went ahead.
What a joy it was to celebrate their anniversary with them and to see this home fulfilling the vision we were given for it. This home is not just for us, but for those whom the Lord brings to us, a home to bring delight to many and to use for the Lord’s purposes.
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We moved into our home 2 years ago, as of the 15th August. Two years with so many changes and so much that we’ve learnt. We arrived with tomatoes and apples ready to pick and again today our trees are burgeoning, our greenhouse is full and now we have 14 vegetable beds filled with a variety of produce. We’re starting to live more by the seasons and be guided by the demands that puts are our time. Harvest waits for no one and soon enough we will need to pick the apples and pears and start preparing them for storage. Some will be carefully wrapped and stored and some will be frozen, for snacks, pies and crumbles.
Moving onto our hens….After 2 years our original hens have largely given up laying, and so our friends kindly offered to give these ladies a final retirement home. Today we brought home 18 new rescue hens, which we have added to the 5, which are still laying, which we brought home last year. This new lot look somewhat naked, they could do with a knitted jumper each! Hopefully with love and time, these poor ex battery hens will feather up and find a happy place clucking around our orchard.
Two years in and we still feel very much like novices, but I can see progress, so there’s hope that one day we might actually know what we’re doing! Until then we’ll keep learning as we go 🙂.
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