carolyn

I Think It’s Time

Time for an update. Here.  Now.  Well, the last two months have been busy, yet slow, exciting, yet wishful.  Such a mixture of happenings and feelings, changes and hopes.

Okay.  That’s informational! So… we have had a lot going on.  First of all, our winter has been so mild and warm, which is not all bad.  We’ve had plenty of days to be outside, playing in the sunshine & greenish brown grass… but there is a part of me that has longed for ice cold days where the only place you are comfortable is in front of the wood stove, snuggled together enjoying a good book.

So perhaps it is really time for gratitude.  I am slowly learning.  To be thankful.  See the gifts of each day.  Each moment.

A misty morning sunrise over winter trees.

A lone pine cones clinging to a branch.

The sun's rays bringing radiance to the mountains.

At some point soon, I hope to share more of what these winter months have held for us. For now, I share my need to seek and find the blessings of the little moments.  Snippets of grace and glory from God.  May my lips praise the One who is Lord of All.

Through Him, then, let us continually offer a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that confess His name.”

-Hebrews 13:15

He [Job] said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return there; the LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.”

-Job 1:21

First Year Farmers

Monday, December 19, 2011, we celebrated our one year anniversary of moving to the farm! We are amazed at all this past year has held for us… how we have learned and grown in more ways than we ever could have dreamed!  We shared a taste of our year as “First Year Farmers” in an article from our Christmas Newsletter that we mailed to friends and family… enjoy!

Reilly Family

First Year Farmers
You might be wondering, “How did that kooky family that decided to go and become farmers actually do this year?” We’re here to write that we survived. Actually, we more than survived. We thrived! The winter months here were sweet with settling in and exploring the farm and local community. We quickly re-started our educational endeavors home schooling our children, and especially enjoyed our Nature walks and animal adventures as we neared Spring! We began our Farm business in April with the purchase of 125 baby chicks that we would raise for our first layers. The kids loved caring for these active little birds!
We then added broilers (meat chickens) in May, really picking up our farming pace! Over the Summer, we continued to add broilers in intervals, reaching a total of 200 that we raised on our lush green pastures and processed on the farm.

This past Monday, December 12th, we sold the last of our broilers! People are hearing more and more about Four Corners Farm… through word of mouth, our flyers and posters out and about, and best of all, from our regular customers. The relationships that have formed through our farm have encouraged and energized us in many ways. And the support of our family and friends continues to bless us and spur us on in the passion and purpose we’ve found in family farming.

One of the blessings in our transitioning into farming is that Ian was able to continue working for the University of Florida. This continues to be a gift and is helpful in so many ways, allowing some financial freedoms as we venture forward in farming. We were able to utilize this income toward feed costs, product packaging needs, and other farm investments.

As we look back over the last year, we see many failures and successes. Whether we failed or succeeded, we are not to decide, but choose to thank God for His leading and direction, for the dream planted in our hearts. We give God the glory for our first year farming, failures and all, as He used all the experiences to teach us and grow us, in more ways imaginable!

Autumn

Well, we have had such a busy autumn! From a family trip to Williamsburg, VA, to a Dinner and a Movie (FRESH) showing here at the farm, to a big family reunion… our fall has been a blur!

Throughout the last couple of months, I have been reminded over and over (and over and over!!) to slow down. Even if it is simply my breathing! Moments can just slip away without notice and I feel within my soul this lurching forward to grab it back. Maybe even take back something that may have spilled out of my unthoughtful lips and ungrateful heart. It is sad that when we allow the busyness to overtake us, that we so easily slip into selfishness, control and defense mode. At least I tend to. Amongst the to-do lists and laundry, tears and smiles, there are moments of calm. Peace. The presence of my Creator.

All the seasons are so defined here in Virginia… this Florida girl is cherishing the transitions between them. As we experienced our first autumn here in Virginia, I sensed God speaking to me through the falling leaves. Some ripped off by the breeze, others ready to be released and tossed gently in the wind. Regardless of how, the trees were ready to be bare. Preparing for dormancy and rest. Quiet. Solitude. I believe that our souls need to experience changes of seasons also. It is important for us to have a time of unloading, “de-leafing”, and shedding an outer layer of ourselves. A time to peel back and then in the winter, explore a little deeper within what we believe. Making room for quiet and even rest for our weary souls. We must not forget that Spring always comes… with its glorious greens and vibrant colorful flowers… our souls re-awaken from the quiet, ready to march ahead and shout for joy at the newly discovered depth of relationship with our Maker! And then into the flourish of Summer. Busily sowing and harvesting, growing and serving, praising the One who encourages us on. Until again, we return to Autumn, ready to let go a little more of ourselves and prepare again for restoration in the peace and quiet presence of Winter.

And so the Season cycle goes… for our world and our souls. I pray that we will seek time this Christmas Season to have solitude and reflect on the Seasons of our soul. To allow God to work in us and deepen our faith.

Peace to you and yours…

Diary of an Old Soul

I recently purchased a book entitled, “Diary of an Old Soul” by George MacDonald. He was a Scottish author who inspired great writers such as C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolken. We discovered Mr. MacDonald through Ambleside Online, our home school curriculum guide which had his book “The Princess and the Goblin” as a literature selection for Year 2. Jonas read it first and loved it! Then Evelyn, and she enjoyed it just as much. We were then on a quest to find his other books… and behold, “Diary of an Old Soul” entered our lives. This book is a devotional in poetry form… simple words of wisdom written from the heart of a man who was truly abiding in Christ. Below is a sample that I would like to share that specifically struck me because of the importance I am finding in having time in quiet solitude with God in the morning hours.

October 6th

From sleep I wake, and wake to think of thee.
But wherefore not with sudden glorious glee?
Why burst not gracious on me heaven and earth
In all the splendor of a new-day-birth?
Why hangs a cloud betwixt my Lord and me?
The moment that my eyes the morning greet,
My soul should panting rush to clasp thy father-feet.

October 7th

Is it because it is not thou I see,
But only my poor, blotted fancy of thee?
Oh, never till thyself reveal thy face,
Shall I be flooded with life’s vital grace.
Oh, make my mirror-heart thy shining-place,
And then my soul, awaking with the morn,
Shall be a waking joy, eternally new-born.

Amen! May our mornings be full of waking joy and being new-born each day!

10 Years!


Ian and I celebrated our 10 year wedding anniversary on September 15th… we both have been stretched and grown in our marriage relationship. We would never have dreamed that we would be where we are right now! To have such drastic changes in our lives, it as if over the years God had been removing the layers of what we thought was really important for us as an individual, a couple, and a family. Now it seems, we are down to such simple basics of living… working together as a family, farming, loving each other and growing in more ways than we ever dreamed.

It is with a grateful heart that we share these pictures from our get-away to celebrate our anniversary… thank you for celebrating with us!

Milk!

We have been enjoying milk from our family cow (Buttercup) for just about a month now… What a blessing to have a nice supply in our refrigerator of fresh, raw jersey milk! We have even enjoyed homemade yogurt (I will post the recipe later this month), butter, & ice cream!

It was not necessarily an easy journey getting to this point, but I will say that I am very grateful to all the hands that helped us get here. First of all, my Father-in-Law, Jerry… he designed a beautiful Milking Shed for us to build while visiting here in July. Without his precise plans, who knows where we would be milking Buttercup!? Secondly, to my Mom, Betty… she helped build the milking shed, sweating and working diligently, looking ahead to the days when she could get her hands “milky!” At this point, she is the primary milker… very thankful for her confidence and motivation to have our own family cow. And lastly, to my sweet husband, Ian. He worked hard building the milk shed, on top of farming responsibilities, his daily telecommute to his FL job, and being a husband and Daddy! He persevered and did a magnificent job… Thank you honey!


So, for all of those who poured forth so much to help us enjoy the fresh milk we daily receive, we wish to dedicate a poem that Evelyn has loved for years:

The Cow
By Robert Louis Stevenson

The friendly cow all red and white,
I love with all my heart:
She gives me cream with all her might,
To eat with apple-tart.

She wanders lowing here and there,
And yet she cannot stray,
All in the pleasant open air,
The pleasant light of day;

And blown by all the winds that pass
And wet with all the showers,
She walks among the meadow grass
And eats the meadow flowers.

Grrrrrrrrrranola

Okie doke. Here’s the deal. I’ve had many different people over the last year ask for our granola recipe. We’ve taken it with us on family trips, camping, and usually have it as a staple in our house (whether for breakfast or an afternoon snack with plain yogurt). So here it is!

Our Crunchy Granola Recipe
Preheat oven to 350 ̊
Ingredients
4 cups of oats
½ tsp cinnamon
¼ cup unsweetened coconut flakes
¼ cup sunflower seeds
¼ cup pumpkin seeds
¼ cup almond slices
¼ cup ground flax seeds
¼ cup sesame seeds
1/3 cup coconut oil (can use melted butter)
½ cup honey
¼ cup molasses
1 tsp vanilla extract
½ cup raisins
½ cup craisins
¼ cup currants
½ cup of chocolate chips (that’s right, chocolate!)

Mix dry ingredients in a large bowl. Add in coconut oil (or butter), then honey, molasses and vanilla extract. Stir well until all oats are moist. Spread out the oat mixture evenly onto a baking sheet (preferably one with edges). Drizzle some honey across the top and place in oven and bake for 10 minutes. Remove and stir the oats, being sure to scrape away from the edges mixing thoroughly. Evenly spread the oat mixture again, place in oven for another 10 minutes. Repeat this step one more time… While the oats are on their third bake session, I usually get the dried fruits and chocolate ready (and snack on a few while waiting). Once you remove the pan for the 3rd time, stir in the dried fruit and spread evenly. Then let the chocolate chips fall randomly all across the top. Place in the oven for a final 10 minutes of baking. Remove and let cool on a rack. I always like to have a bowl of warm granola with cold milk once its cooled a little. Enjoy!

Now, if you’re like me, you can play around with the ingredients. I’ve added different nuts and left out some if I don’t have them on hand. Don’t use the chocolate if you don’t want to… but who doesn’t want chocolate for breakfast?? Most of all… just have fun making up your own granola mixture… be brave!

Summer Photos Part II

We have been blessed with guests over the last couple of months… We also have been busy getting our farm launched and announced! Our logo has been finalized and our website is up (click here if you’d like to visit it!). I personally am doing my best to savor every moment and step as we live out the dream God gave our family. There are moments of absolute awe as I ponder and realize, “we’re really doing this!”. No, it has not been easy, there have been challenges and slow downs, but oh, how I’m learning that God allows these to keep us relying on Him and to make the accomplishments even more worthy of celebration and outpouring of a joyful heart. Through the difficulty, we grow and are shaped. We choose to either run from it or walk through it. Let us all face the challenges in life and embrace the hand that reaches out to lead us through the valleys and hard times… God is there. Always. We can rejoice in that fact.

I hope you enjoy the photos… this is just a snippet of the happenings here in the life of our family farm! (P.S. If you would like to see the photo descriptions, once you hit play, click on the “Show Info” tab within the slide show window).

Wind on the Hill

No one can tell me,
Nobody knows,
Where the wind comes from,
Where the wind goes.

It’s flying from somewhere
As fast as it can,
I couldn’t keep up with it,
Not if I ran.

But if I stopped holding
The string of my kite,
It would blow with the wind
For a day and a night.

And then when I found it,
Wherever it blew,
I should know that the wind
Had been going there too.

So then I could tell them
Where the wind goes…
But where the wind comes from
Nobody knows.

By A.A. Milne

Sweet Summertime

It is with grateful hearts that we share some of our summer photos…Enjoy!