Cait's Place

Name:
Location: Texas, United States

I'm a wife and a SAH/WAH/homeschooling mom to 2 teens, host-mom to 2 more, with 3 out on their own (including the boy for whom we were guardians) and with a new 20yo "farm intern." I work part-time and mostly from home with a student exchange program. We have a small farm where we raise heritage livestock and sell halaal meats at local farmers markets. I keep trying to simplify my life, but life keeps having other plans. ;-)

Monday, December 12, 2005

On Housework and Other Family "Duties"

Over on Hugo's blog, there have been a few discussions about who's responsible for household "chores," about SAH parents, and about other related issues. Here are a few of my thoughts on the matter of "chores," etc.

IMO, everyone who lives in a home should be responsible for picking up, at the very least, their own messes in that home. In our household, I'm responsible for *organizing* the duties in the house and for determining what needs to be done. My husband is responsible for organizing the duties of the farm and for determining what needs to be done. He's responsible for earning the money to finance the family and the farm. I'm responsible for making sure the money goes where it's needed and for finding additional reserves when his paycheck isn't enough.

Gruntwork (housework, cleaning the chicken coop, etc) is delegated to the teenagers and the 20yo intern, with assistance and oversight by my husband and me. Since the teens don't do a great job of keeping the house dusted, I'm talking with a local lady about trading meat for her coming in to dust and sweep the public areas of the house once a week. It's what she does for a living, and I don't have the time (or the want-to).

Time to get back to work. Maybe, some day, I'll have time to write more.

Venting Frustrations: Of Ex-Husbands and Of Becoming Overwhelmed

Today's just "one of those days."

With the holiday season, we've had a lot of farm work that required my attention. With our slowly growing sales, I've had to make sure we have plenty of meat in the freezer, which means hauling animals to the butcher each week and picking up the meat a week later. Around that, there have been kids' schedules to maintain and manage. And then I have my exchange program responsibilities. In the midst of all this, the kids have had spells of not getting their end of things done so that I can get them where they need to be without being too badly overwhelmed.

Getting behind on my paperwork would be an easy fix, except that the kids have been needing me to keep more of an eye on them lately than they normally require. (Thankfully, the 15yo is pulling out of that, now that he's got mid-terms for which to study.)

But I got behind while getting farm things ready for Thanksgiving. Then we left for a week, so I wasn't getting anything caught back up. And then we came home to a lot of farm things that needed to be done, as well as kids activities for which transportation was required. Now we're getting ready for Christmas sales, PLUS I'm working on a beadwork orchid for church on Sunday and am making a dress for each of the girls for a dance on Saturday.

And I've still got paperwork to catch up on. That's what I get for letting myself get behind.

And then my ex steps in to add another fly to the ointment. He didn't like the flight arrangements I made for our son's visit with him. They would have to drive 4 hours to pick him up at the airport, instead of their usual 2-and-a-half. Blah. All these years, they've not cared how far our son's had to be in a car on THIS end, so they can't convince me they're worried about him.

Where was their concern when we lived in Arizona and they continually booked 8:00pm-9:00pm flights to an airport 3 hours from our home, with dangerous mountain passes for us to drive through? We spent many a night sleeping at a rest stop just before the worst of the passes, under the watchful eye of the dog I'd gotten to protect my son.

Where was their concern when they booked 9am flights for him out of Dallas, 4 hours from here? With needing to be there an hour before his flight, we were leaving the house at 4am. I can recall one occasion where we had to leave at 3am.

This time, I was booking the flights. I found a good deal on airfare. The least expensive airfare I found was a flight out of Killeen, about an hour from here, and flying into St. Louis, about 4 hours from my ex's family. Since that's the type of arrangements they've continually made through the years, it shouldn't be a problem, right? Wrong.

Now we have a new set of flight arrangements. YS will be flying out of an airport just over an hour from our home (depending on traffic) and will be landing at the ex's favored airport. His flights are all arranged at times that won't inconvenience anyone greatly.

Best of all, my ex has now suggested that we make sure that YS doesn't have a 4 hour drive on either end of his flights.

Maybe I should have done this years ago.

Now, off to load lambs for today's trip to the butcher. Then I get to convince the folks there that they *CAN* have the meat ready for pickup by Friday. I've seen them do it before. I know they can make it!

Monday, December 05, 2005

St Brigid's Gate Farm and the Local Community are Helping Caritas

Recently, 3 families at Austin Mennonite Church went together to purchase a meat and egg share to be donated to Caritas of Austin. Our pastor then contacted Caritas to determine needs, acceptance of the donation, and delivery details. What he found was that the meat and egg share is gladly accepted, but it doesn't meet the current needs.

Caritas of Austin will help more than 20,000 men, women, and children in need this year alone. Currently, their food program uses 100 pounds of meat per week and 60 dozen eggs per month. Their previous food donation expired recently.

The meat and egg share donated by our church will provide 10 pounds of meat per week and 6 dozen eggs per month. Another 9 meat and egg shares are necessary to completely meet their current needs.

We would like to invite others to join in this effort to provide the needed meat and eggs for Caritas. No contribution is too small. Many people working together can make a big difference. The money donated will help us to purchase the additional sheep, goats, and chickens needed to provide the 100 pounds of meat a week and 60 dozen eggs per month and to add the fencing and shelters needed to care for the additional animals.

A 16-year-old girl has decided to start the ball rolling by donating $40 every two weeks, which will cover nearly 1/3 of a meat and egg share. With other anonymous donations, we are currently up to 14 pounds of meat per week.

If you would like to help with this effort, please contact Micheal or Catherina Mc Evoy of St Brigid's Gate Farm at (512) 355-3834 or by email at chewy@stbrigidsgatefarm.com or catherina@stbrigidsgatefarm.com.

Established in 2003 and located in Burnet County, St Brigid's Gate Farm is a small sustainable family farm specializing in pastured poultry, sheep, and goats. We are in transition to organic and plan to apply for certification of our pasture in October of 2006. We raise chickens, turkeys, geese, ducks, sheep, goats, and cattle on 64 acres of pasture. We market our products through CSA subscriptions and at the Sunset Valley and Burnet farmers markets.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

An Email Received from Gene Stoltzfus

I was going to do some self-focused blogging about all the activities that have kept me away from my blog. Then I received this email yesterday. I think it is much more appropriate to the season and to the state of the world.

Date: Wed, 30 Nov 2005 09:44:29 -0800 (PST)
Subject: Some thoughts on our CPT colleagues in Baghdad


Greetings good friends,

By this time many of you know that four CPT workers
were taken hostage in Baghdad. This crisis calls us
back to our most basic convictions in life, what is
worth living for and what is worth dying for. This
event reminds us that we build meaning into our lives
by the choices we make.

The choice to begin, and to continue the CPT work in
Iraq was made in prayer. I believe it was the right
decision, and that the hand of God seeks to be
revealed as we all walk into the face of violence in
this century.

Today is almost December 1st. In 25 days Christians
will be joined by people of many faiths to celebrate
the Prince of Peace. He came in weakness, as a baby,
in a time when terrorism was rampant. A few days
after his birth, innocent male children were declared
enemies of the state and killed. A lot of people
must have thought that this was a poor way to begin
the peace project.

Now, just as in the time of Jesus, the earth and its
people hang in the balance. The outcome of this
abduction of my co-workers is not only in the hands of
hostage takers and persons working tirelessly to seek
their release. The outcome of this event is also in
your hands, in my hands.

I write to encourage your prayers for the hostages,
the hostage takers, for Iraqi people who face this
every day and for the good that can come from this
event. Your prayers for the immediate outcome and for
our common willingness to embrace sacrifice and risk
are a fundamental part of our commitment to the Christ
who had to flee to Egypt because of state sponsored
terrorism.

I know that I speak for at least two of the CPT
hostages with whom I have worked directly that their
desire is that this situation will be used to awaken
the soul of our age, to bring us to deeper unity,
vision, and the practical arts of peacemaking.

With much thankfulness for colleagues in the journey.

Gene Stoltzfus

for complete up to date information go to www.cpt.org
or for other reflection see my blog at gstoltzfus.blogspot.com

For ideas and reflections on CPTers being held in Baghdad and other
peace initiatives check my blog at gstoltzfus.blogspot.com

Gene Stoltzfus

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Tuesday Musings and Providing for the Homeless

Off and on today, I've looked at Hugo's blog and made a few comments on a couple of the threads there. I've also kept an eye on my sweetie's new blog. The posts on Hugo's blog are definitely challenging, while I find the posts on Chewy's blog to be more of the uplifting sort.

There are things posted to both that have me thinking about myself, the past, and how to work through the challenges of the past so that they present less and less negative impact on the present and future. But right now, the one thing I need to keep my focus on is the Sponsor Share that people from our church purchased Sunday evening.

This Sponsor Share is to go to a local soup kitchen that provides 350 meals per day to the local homeless. It is to be 10 pounds of ground meat per week plus 6 dozen eggs per month. This is 1/10th of what the soup kitchen needs, since their previous donation has now expired. They use 100 pounds of meat per week and 60 dozen eggs per month.

If anyone out there has ideas about how I should approach gathering 9 more Sponsor Shares so that we can provide the resources needed by this soup kitchen, please let me know. Each share can be split up between multiple families or organizations, just as the current share has been done. But I need ideas on how to approach people and organizations about this.

Monday, October 24, 2005

God's Abundant Blessings!

This is a followup of my post last week about bills that need to be paid immediately.

We had a need for $300 by last Tuesday and $2000 by Thursday. Tuesday, that amount necessary was reduced to $250 and needed on Wednesday. The money was there as needed! Praise God!!

By Thursday, I was uneasy but still certain that God would provide. We had $110 of the necessary $2000. In addition, I'd been handed a bill for a bit over $800 that needs to be paid right away. Needless to say, I was having to put my money where my mouth is with respect to trusting that God will provide.

And then Friday evening, I got a phone call about another $730 that needs to be paid. YIKES! I learned that continual prayer is good for keeping the panic down.

After Saturday's farmers markets, we were up to $602 on hand and another $2900 needed. Ya know, deep breathing exercises make a wonderful addition to prayer. And trials are meant to test our faith.

Sunday morning, after services, the one lady from church that I've *really* been missing (our pastor's wife) was there. They'd been out of town visiting family the week before, and the preceeding weeks, she and I had just missed each other or there'd been too many people around for us to talk. She came up to talk to me, and I nearly burst into tears.

She and I went into the pastor's office to talk. I told her everything. She got our pastor, and I spoke with the two of them. He asked if I would be opposed to a meeting with some other members of the church, for advise on how to approach the situation. I told him that I would be grateful for any advise on how to keep the farm going and to get things running more smoothly. We set the meeting for 7pm at their home.

When I arrived, there were two other families there. We spoke for nearly an hour about the farm, the prospects for the farm (which are very good if we can get through the beginning growing pains), and how to deal with the needs of the farm. Then the three families there (the pastor's family plus the other two) went together to purchase a Sponsor Share of meat, to be delivered to one of the local soup kitchens weekly for the next year.

With their purchase of the Sponsor Share, we are able to pay everything that is due. God has blessed us with a wonderful church family!

But the lesson that I think God is teaching me is to open up to those with whom He has surrounded me, to accept the blessings of their fellowship, to stop trying to handle everything on my own.

God is good, and my family is blessed by His wonderful love and care.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Armine's Honey Gold

We just finished Armine's very first batch of soap - goats milk with honey. It turned a deep honey color. I told her we'll label the batch Armine's Honey Gold. I think it's going to be a very pretty batch of soap.

She's so excited to be learning to make soap. This is a skill she can take home with her to show her mother and sister. It's also something she's looking forward to doing as a community service project. She plans to make soap to donate to local community outreach programs and/or to MCC.

I'm glad I'm able to teach her so many things that are new. My hope is that when she returns to Armenia in June, she will be full of confidence and the knowledge that she can succeed at anything she wants to try.

Of course, this is the girl who sat on a bull at the Jr. Rodeo. Of *course* she can do anything she wants!

Spoiled Animals and Teenage Boys

I'm totally amazed. Absolutely dumbfounded.

I know our animals are spoiled, but this is getting ridiculous.

We've gotten to the point where we have to let the cats into the entryway of the house to feed them, because the chickens will run the cats off their feed and eat it. The cats (these are *supposed* to be barn cats, mind you!) were sitting outside the door, mewing to be let in and fed. So my darling 15yo son lets them in and feeds them - but leaves the front door open. Hello!

A few minutes later, I notice the door and tell him to close it so that the chickens can't come in. Then I hear, "Oh, hello. That's what sounded funny."

Thanks to his leaving the door open, one of the hens had come into the entryway, run the cats off their food, and was eating away. DOH! Now the silly hen is making noises, wanting to come back in. NO WAY!

So, I send him out to check on the new pup, a 3 month old 3/4 Pyrenees, 1/4 Anatolian shephard. I told him to spend some time with her and walk her around the sheep. (She's still smaller than the sheep, so she's a bit afraid of them.) He comes back in and says, "Can I bring Gertie in the house, Mom?"

No, she is *not* to be a house dog!

"But, Mom, if we cuddle her and love her, she'll be just fine in the house."

NO! Go out and walk around with her in the pasture, get her familiar with the sheep, help her get to where she's not afraid of them, they are to be her FAMILY.

"But, Mo-o-om!"

GO!

Thursday Musings

Well, today is the deadline for getting together a rather sizable amount of money so that we can keep the farm afloat. That $50.00 in seed money that a sweet lady from church gave me for us all to pray over is in it's envelope.

The money that had to be here yesterday for the expense that had to be met was there. I rest assured that the money that needs to be here today will arrive. I don't know how, but I'm sure it will be here.

Perhaps God is sending someone to purchase a full year's CSA agreement. One year's agreement, paid in full, would cover the expenses that need to be met today, plus those that need to be met this weekend.

Or perhaps God has something else planned. Something I've not even thought of.

I do trust that God, who placed this farm in our hands and assigned us the task of feeding area families meat that is the most nutritious possible, will provide the means for us to follow through with that assignment. I know it as well as I know my own name.

All that I can do at this point is wait upon the Lord.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Thoughts after Reading a Bit of Hugo's Blog

Since I've been too busy to read the blogs for the past 3 months, I thought I'd take a quick look at Hugo's. The second thread I read had some comments about "getting the milk without buying the cow," etc. Someone who I will guess is a relatively young man finished the thread with rants about "romantic dreams" actually being "sexist dreams" and about going "back to the 'good old days' of weepy, whiny, tantrum-throwing, hysterical females."

OK, I'm going to guess that he grew up in the city, first off. I know that not all women in the cities have EVER fit that disgusting stereotype, but women in the country didn't have the time to play such games. Makes me wonder how he'd feel if people took to calling men with his opinions "knuckle-draggers." You know, those men who want to give women the "equal opportunity" to do the exact same work the men do, *plus* the "opportunity" to go home after work to clean the house, cook dinner, take care of the kids, and help everyone with their homework (which sometimes includes typing for hubby). Oh, yes, and let's not forget making sure all the laundry is done. I used to be married to someone like that.

I've an exchange student, a wonderful young lady, who is throwing herself 110% into learning everything she can while she's here, far beyond academics. There was a youth rodeo where we had the arrival orientation for this year's students. Before the bull-riding events started, some of the cowboys ran a couple of bulls through the chutes so they could make sure all the gates and such were working properly.

This sweet, pretty young lady asked me if she could go take pictures of one of the bulls in the chutes. I told her to ask the cowboys running them through if it would be OK.

Next thing I knew, one of the cowboys had her camera and was standing in front of the chute. I looked around and saw 3 cowboys holding that bull still and another cowboy helping her sit on the bull for a picture.

After that, there's nothing in the world that's going to hold that little girl back. She's going to jump in feet first to whatever she feels needs to be done. And she's going to succeed.

And I'm going to teach her that it's OK to dream romantic dreams while you're taking life by the horns. It's OK to wait, to not have sex just because people are telling you "everybody does it." I'm going to tell her that she's right to be shocked when a girl at school tells her that the girl's had sex right there in the school. I'm going to tell her that her body and her sexuality are treasured gifts to be shared only with someone very special, not to be used for "fun and games."

And I tell my boys the same thing.

This sad young man also stated, "Why do you grieve for women who prize rationality over emotion?"

Rationality over emotion? God gave us gifts of both rationality *and* emotion. It is wrong to bury one's emotions in the name of rationality. Having and acknowledging emotions doesn't equate to "weepy, whiny, tantrum-throwing" hysterics. To be fully, 100%, everything that God meant us to be, we must embrace our emotions and use our rationality to guide us in our actions. One does not negate the other.

Back Again

It's been too long since I've posted anything. July, August, and September were extremely busy. Things are just settling back down again. The house is a disaster from my being focused on other things. But today is a day when I can breath again and get started getting things back in order.

We wound up with 19 exchange students in my area. Not bad for my first year as regional director and starting from scratch after the previous director left. I'm still learning as I go, but I love working with these kids.

We have kids here from Holland, Germany, Ukraine, Armenia, Russia, Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, Brazil, France, Japan, Taiwan, China, Hong Kong, and Thailand. We may have one from South Korea and one from Belarus (if the govt there cooperates) for the spring semester.

In addition to all the exchange students, the farm has been picking up. It's presenting the usual "starting a business" challenge of coming up with the finances to keep up the needed stock so that we have what's needed for us to sell when the customers arrive. In addition, there's still lots of cross-fencing to do so that we can turn the sheep and goats out to another paddock so that the current one can have some recovery time. Pasture rotation is an absolute necessity, but sheep will sometimes go through fences that give other animals pause.

We've also started new classes with the teens. It's great to have someone else to teach their science classes for me. Both the younger ones are taking biology and chemistry back-to-back. The youngest is also working with our pastor. He's put together some good short presentations on Mennonite history and read them in church these past few Sundays. Currently, he's working on a presentation on Menno Simmons.

That's about it for the update. I'm going to try to get into a routine of being able to write for a few minutes every day.