The Ministry of Reconciliation

It’s no light thing to know that we’ll all one day stand in that place of Judgment.  That’s why we work urgently with everyone we meet to get them ready to face God.  God alone knows how well we do this, but I hope you realize how much and deeply we care.  We’re not saying this to make ourselves look good to you. We just thought it would make you feel good, proud even, that we’re on your side and not just nice to your face as so many people are.  

If I acted crazy, I did it for God; if I acted overly serious, I did it for you.  Christ’s love has moved me to such extremes.  His love has the first and last word in everything we do.

A New Life

Our firm decision is to work from this focused center: One man died for everyone.  That puts everyone in the same boat.  He included everyone in his death so that everyone could also be included in his life, a resurrection life, a far better life than people ever lived on their own.

Because of this decision we don’t evaluate people by what they have or how they look. We looked at the Messiah that way once and got it all wrong, as you know.  We certainly don’t look at him that way anymore.  

Now we look inside, and what we see is that anyone united with the Messiah gets a fresh start, is created new.  The old life is gone; a new life burgeons!  Look at it!  All this comes from the God who settled the relationship between us and him, and then called us to settle our relationships with each other.  

God put the world square with himself through the Messiah, giving the world a fresh start by offering forgiveness of sins.  God has given us the task of telling everyone what he is doing.  We’re Christ’s representatives.  God uses us to persuade men and women to drop their differences and enter into God’s work of making things right between them.  We’re speaking for Christ himself now: Become friends with God; he’s already a friend with you.  (2 Corinthians 5:11-21, The Message)

How Many Acres?

At Fruit Hill Farm we are looking to expand our footprint ‘under cultivation’ and that has sparked conversations around the dinner table.

“How many acres should we be aiming to get?”

It is a question every traditional homesteading family asks.  Not enough acres and we will not be able to meet the goals of our family’s homestead.  Too many acres and we may be ‘trapped’ under a list of projects that are too ambitious.

Our challenge is compounded since we are not a traditional homestead.  We chose to ‘grow where we were planted’.  We didn’t move to a rural area to live our homesteading dream.  Modeling ourselves after inspirations such as the Dervaes family, we are homesteading in the suburbs.

Our goal is to purchase enough small parcels within walking/biking distance of our home to cultivate.  Ideal plots will be greater than a half acre and not have any buildings on it.  So beyond being limited by what we can afford, how do we determine how many acres?

What are we trying to achieve?

There are 2 primary desires for why we want to farm land:

*  Heal our land (sequester carbon, establish mycelium network, restore biodiversity)

*  Food security

In regards to healing our land, that desire does not provide us helpful guidance.  In our hearts, every acre on earth should be restored back to Eden.

Food security is a better guide for us.  With our 1/3rd acre lot we already have enough land to provide for enough food for our family.  That is we could survive off our current land base, but it would be a diet unlike that of even the strictest American plant-based diet.  We can grow starch with potatoes, sweet potatoes, and sun chokes.  However, we don’t have enough land to grow enough grains for our family.  We are experimenting this next growing season with growing grains like oats and sorghum, but how much land that will take is still to be determined.

During our most ambitious conversations we ask ourselves, ‘Is Millwood capable of growing it’s own food base?’ 

Millwood Statistics

*  ~2000 citizens

*  2 lbs/day plant based diet per person to sustain

–  1,460,000 lbs. of crops/year to feed Millwood at sustaining levels

–  If we use the Dervaes family’s yield as the upper limit of yield (6000 lbs/yr on 0.1 acre) = 60,000 lbs./acre max.

–  24.33 acres at optimal yields (which is dependent of quality of land and skill-sets we do not yet have)

Next Level Considerations

Keep in mind the above thought experiment is just to sustain.  There is no dairy and few grains in a diet that can be provided on 25 acres for 2000 people.  However, if individual households would also integrate their yards into the food security plan, the diet could also provide for meat (primarily fowl and rabbit).

If we include ducks, it would significantly increase cooking possibilities as duck have excess oils.  Also, female fowl can provide eggs to the diet.

Homesteading Rules of Thumb (results vary based on breed and skill level of homesteader)

*  A milking goat provides on average 457 gallons/yr. (1.5 gallons * 305 lactation days; goats cannot be raised in solitude)

*  A chicken can produce up to 250 eggs/yr.

*  A duck can produce on average 1.5 cups of rendered oil

*  1 rabbit buck and 3 rabbit does can provide as much meat/yr. as a cow (and will consume half the feed)

*  A beehive can yield up to 0.5-1.5 gallons of honey (our yield has been closer to 0.5 gallons/hive)

Season of Advent

Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord.  The farmer waits for the precious produce of the soil, being patient about it, until it gets the early and late rains.  (James 5:7)

Last Sunday our pastor shared a parable about a woman entering a store that is run by Jesus.  She was invited to travel the aisles, filling the shopping cart with her heart’s desire.   Packages with labels such as ‘end starvation and poverty’, ‘resolve wars’, ‘strengthen families’, and ‘heal the natural world’.  Jesus rang her up and handed her seed packets.

Jesus said. “This is a catalog store…this is a place of dreams.  You come and see what it looks like, and I give you the seeds.  You go home and plant the seeds. You water them, nurture them, help them to grow, and someday someone else reaps the benefits.” (Gail Duba, 12/17/17)

As we wait for our Savior’s return, will we plant and nurture the seeds of His Kingdom?

Shedding the Old…

You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived.  But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips.  Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.  Here there is no Gentile or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all.  (Colossians 3:7-11)

When accept our gift of salvation, we commit to a journey of shedding our old self.  As we put on our new selves, we see Christ is all, and is in all.

The Wife He Deserves

 With all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. (Ephesians 4:2-3)

Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up.  But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up.  Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm.  But how can one keep warm alone?  (Ecclesiastes 4:9)

I love my husband!

He has been my hero, the one who adores me, and my partner as we build something bigger than ourselves.  Yet on occasion he can really disappoint me (no doubt I disappoint him too at times).

It is in those moments I am reminded, God calls me daily to fulfill my full promise as a wife, regardless of what type of wife my husband deserves.

Love Drives Out Fear

There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.  (1 John 4:18)

The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul. He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.  (Psalm 23)

All you have to do is turn on ‘the news’ for 10 minutes to become painfully aware that we live in a scary world.  Fear is a tool of this world, used to distract us from God’s perfect love.

You are loved!

Eyes on Eternity

For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.  So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.  (2 Corinthians 4:17-18)

When I was laid off four years ago, I had to step into the knowledge that my career had become the most important element of my life.  I was an executive.  In many ways I let the kingdom I had built give me my worth.  My eyes were fixed very much on today.

After my lay off, I threw myself back into my family and our home.  Reconciling relationships, reconnecting with my community, and repairing a strained home were my focus.  Our shared kingdom became my biggest priority.  My eyes were fixed on the strength of my home, including extended family, with a perspective that spanned the generations.

Yet God calls us to focus not on our own kingdoms and what is seen, but focus on what is unseen…His Kingdom!  Friends, today we are called to fix our eyes on eternity.

Honey Harvest

Honey harvest is a September activity.  After the first frost, or sustained temps of less that 50 degrees, I personally don’t like to breech the integrity of the hive and expose the bees to cold temperatures.

After the hives have been broken down and readied for the winter, I bank honey frames in the freezer for spring supplementation for the hive if necessary.  Lastly, I bring in the surplus frames to harvest the family’s share.

Our family does have a centrifugal force extractor.  It was gifted to us by a dear friend.  If we ever have a multi-site apiary or a large apiary we will use it to harvest.  Our current apiary only has 6 hives.  When we used the extractor last year, we noticed the inefficiency created waste we could just not tolerate.  We only harvest 2-3 gallons a year, and every drop is precious to us.

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Since we are so small scale, we harvest the very old fashioned way, by gravity.  After scraping the framed we first strain the through a large strainer.  This is just to remove the largest particles of beeswax.

After the honey has been strained through the large strainer by gravity, it is then double strained through smaller strainers to ensure that what is bottled up is 100% pure honey.  It takes our family about 2 weeks to gravity process our honey for the year.

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Above All Love

Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. (1 Peter 4:8)

I have found that it is necessary for me to seize every opportunity to let people know that I love them!

Without fail over time, I will say something insensitive, forget something that was important to another, or have to deliver news that others don’t want to hear.

Hopefully before that happens I will have built up enough love surplus, that my imperfection will be met with grace.

Principles Meet Practicality

Last weekend, I spent my Saturday in a small public works meeting room with 30 other newly elected officials from around my state, being educated on the fundamentals of municipal legislation.

The attorney leading the workshop, made the statement that in addition to all the powers of other corporations, incorporated cities weld the additional powers of:

*  Taxes
*  Eminent domain
*  Police power

This was a clarifying moment for me.

First Principles

I hold as a first principle that aggression should be reserved only to defend from, or remediate damage caused by, other’s aggressive actions.  This is my understanding of the Non-Aggression Principle (NAP).  As such, I would take exercising any of these three ‘powers’ very seriously.

So when would I see use of these powers as legitimate?

Only to defend against, or remediate damage caused by aggressors.  By ‘damage’, I mean verifiable physical harm, financial loss, or quantifiable harm to property and/or the shared ecosystem.  I believe to exercise these powers without the existence of real damage to citizens, is to exercise aggression without cause.

When Principles Meet Practicality

For me, this is an easy belief system to hold in regards to eminent domain and police power.  Unless damages are created by living one’s will, neither property nor personal freedom should be threatened.

Taxes are where holding the NAP and the realities of legislation get blurry.  A purest libertarian stance would be to disband all government.  This is exactly why, in spite of many libertarian principles like the NAP being aligned with my own, I don’t see the Libertarian Party providing any real value to guide people who are actually trying to govern.

Taxes have been the reality for millennia and libertarians in practicality have failed to address the necessity of ‘public good’.  The ‘free market’ concept is as nebulous as the ‘public good’ concept, so it cannot provide meaningful guidance.

Libertarians argue any sacrifices that need to be made by the individual for the public good of the group, must be voluntary.  I don’t know if that is viable stance or not.  It seems to me that reasonable values to hold, as I wade through the blurriness are:

*  Defining ‘public good’ should be restricted to the people that are directly impacted (local vs. regional vs. federal locus of determination)

*  Tax burden for citizens should not increase, without the consent of the people who are being taxed (IS the implied consent of a representative democracy enough)

These are the types of discussion I think we should be having as a society.  I would love to hear your insights on this.