Wow folks – what a crazy summer! And that is an understatement.
We tend to wax philosophical when we do our blogs as it is a time to pause and reflect over the current season and share what’s transpired. When we sit for a moment and breath, it’s quite shocking really what we’ve accomplished but also what we have been up against.
This summer has been no different. I suppose this is in fact the norm with homesteading. But, this summer we have been battling more than the normal stuff. This summer I have been inundated with weird germs. It’s as if the Lord has been showing me to monitor very closely viruses and the like. I mean, to be honest, I am pretty much of a germaphobe anyway. On a farm you really need to practice bio hazard mitigation due to all the manure and pooling of water that sits around. So, no farm shoes in the house – wash hands constantly, etc. are the norms around here: pretty much no exceptions.
Well, this summer I got poison oak, then got MRSA. The medication that knocked out the super bug MRSA gave me C-Diff, which is equally difficult to mitigate. On top of that I had an allergic reaction to a wasp sting then got stung by a bee three times in the same place inside my bee suit that also reacted badly. I don’t like medication, opting mainly to focus on wellness and prevention through herbs and good eating. This is why we raise our own dairy, eggs, meat and veggies. So, the side effects of these medications I do NOT like. I guess many are used to drug side effects; but not me. I haven’t been sick in ten years and therefore take zero pills. So, the side effects are very noticeable to me; particularly headaches, achy body, dizziness, brain fog, racing heart rate and the like. I can see why the medications say do not drive. The irritability too is a challenge. We live a simple joyous life, so the edginess that comes from some of this stuff really is noticeable. My prayers are that my gut rebalances and gets back to normal soon. But, for sure these drugs wipe out ALL your gut bacteria not just the bad stuff and that’s no joke. While I’ve been battling germs like crazy, Mike has had a bad shoulder, bad knee and bad back. They come in with a fury and leave with a whimper. I guess they are chronic injuries that flare up here and there, but it does force Mike to take pauses in a schedule that really has no room for pauses.
Meanwhile, we have been trying to hold down the farm fort with grass growing a mile a minute due to all the rain we’ve had while simultaneously building the tiny cabin for our daughter and her newly arriving baby. Our grandson arrived healthy and happy August 3rd to our great enjoyment. And the cabin for our daughter and her fiance is coming along. We have moved the cabin onto the new foundation and have built out the pop outs (Asa’s bedroom, the mudroom and framed in the entire walk out basement). Now it is on to adding the mudroom rafters and roofing the final pop out. From there we will do the stairs into the basement and deck railing which are required for the framing inspection. After this, things should go quickly with sheathing and siding, plumbing and electric on the new additions to the cabin then flooring and tiling for the fireplace surround, etc. Fortunately the main cabin is pretty much done other than flooring, so hopefully things go faster so our daughter and her family can move in as soon as possible now that Asa has been born.
Along with all this we have had a litter of kittens and two litters of our AKC registered Australian Shepherd puppies that have required constant care. As of August 3rd, all the puppies arrived at their new forever homes which we are thrilled about.
So, I would say from April to August it’s been an insane journey.
The garden was busy but overgrown. We couldn’t ever get to weeding it due to everything else. But the tomatoes did great along with the corn and beans. The potato field just turned into weeds and the cucumbers all went bitter too fast due to the extreme heat we had early in the summer. The okra is doing great now and the muscadines are ripening. Apples are prevalent and we are about to mow down the garden and put in the fall starts. I have to say that while there are many stories this year of things not producing, ours did great. Our bee hives (we have 3) did wonderfully and the bees absolutely did their job!!
I guess with gardens and overgrown things, it’s nice you can just plow things down and start over. After all, here in the Smokies it’s really the fall garden that does the best and lasts the longest. Spring is too short and summer is really hot. If you don’t have the specialty crops for this region it sort of is a waste of time. Fall gardening and over wintering do great here in the Smokies if you have a greenhouse. So, the real gardening really begins for us now. We eat our fall garden, we preserve our summer garden. That’s pretty much how it goes.
But, with all that insanity – we have made huge progress. God is so good in that way. We have truly had to pray our way through this summer. There were times when we were both at our breaking points. And that is something really – as neither Mike nor I have ever been pushed that hard before. We work hard and get a lot done. It’s always been that way for both of us so we like it and are good at it. But hitting a breaking point has really never happened until this summer. It’s forced us to rethink a few things and begin to do things differently. So, that waxing philosophical part? Well here it is.
What have we learned this summer? We have learned that sometimes you have to just keep moving through the storm. Even if its’ baby steps on a daily basis you just keep going. When we hit this wall we stopped together and really communicated saying, “hey honey, I need some help here.” Our communication as a couple and team has improved over the course of this summer. We have always communicated well but we haven’t always shared our own shortcomings and aren’t good at asking for help. We’ve had to team more than ever this summer. We’ve had to recognize our own limitations and invent new ways to get work done that requires two versus one. We’ve had to force ourselves to stop and force ourselves to sit. Sitting and pausing is not either one of our fortes’.
But with all that learning being acquired which has challenged us both, the rewards are still great. The progress on the cabin has been enormous. I mean only six weeks ago we hadn’t even moved the cabin to the property. That act alone seemed daunting. Since then we’ve had electric installed by the city, the septic put in, final grading of the whole lot, the cabin moved, everything framed and about 90% of all the materials purchased. That’s crazy! We never dreamed we could get this far but here we are. All the puppies have GREAT homes !!! That was a huge stressor for us. We love the dogs like our kids so finding right homes weighs on us heavily. That was a blessing. Our daughter had a safe delivery and we now have a beautiful little grandson. What a BLESSING!!! And we are both recovering from our illnesses and feeling better for it.
It is said one is forged through fire. And, we shouldn’t fear the flame. This summer has showed us this truth in very profound and life altering ways. We are blessed for the teaching. Mike and I both are willingly students of this life. We recognize that there are times for norms and there are times for change. This was a summer of change. We are flexible that way. Many people aren’t flexible. I would say in these crazy times we all live in, becoming very humble, self aware and flexible are key to enduring the ever changing landscape we find ourselves in -as people, as communities and as nations. The shifting sands are deep and wide, impacting everything in their wake. These are no ordinary times, nor should our responses be.
So, as I started this blog – we tend to wax philosophical when we take a moment to sit and contemplate our time spent. Reflection is a gift. It allows one to ascend from the quagmires of the present and elevate for a moment into the realm of ‘perspective’. It is in these heightened moments of situational awareness that we learn. So it has been this summer.
Here are a few photos of our summer thus far. May it share our story and inspire others who may also have been hit by tsunamis this summer. Just keep going. Stay in prayer. Stop and Breath. Communicate clearly. Trust this is but a moment. Don’t fear the flame. Embrace the forging and recognize it for what it is….growth.
From us to all of you ~
Mike and Lori Davis, Owners HiBar Ranch