Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Learning Together: Applying knowledge to actual practice

In 2011 we've divided up some of our farm responsibilities among the children so that they each have age appropriate responsibilities.  The reality is that we have no clue what we're doing and so everything we do is something we have to learn to do from others or from by actually doing it.  It's always best to learn from others but sometimes you can't find the information you need when you need it and so you have to just try something and learn from what happens (or doesn't happen).

Our children have chores in the following areas:
  • Pierce is our Farm Hand and does Maintainance & Handy Man stuff
  • Abe helps with our Sheep
  • Sam helps with our Goats
  • Ruthie & Luci help with our Chickens
  • Jesse disposes of our Compost
So each month we'll feature a "Learning Together" post.  We've chosen to live on a small farm raising sheep, goats, chickens and a 1/4 acre garden.  These activities provide us with so many opportunities for teaching about life through giving ownership/responsibility to our children through age appropriate farm chores.  As we (JC & Marghie) learn what we need to do we can do it together with our children and then give them the opportunity to help provide for our family by doing it by themselves.  This gives our children a great sense of ownership and pride in their work.

Pierce's Perspective:
I've had farm chore responsibilities for about 4 years now.  My chores have changed quite a bit over the years.  When I first started I was responsible for cleaning out the cat's litter box, then giving food and water to the chickens, then raising broiler peeps to six or even seven pound birds for meat for our family and helping butcher them, and most recently taking care of the sheep & goats (feed, water, minerals, rotating pastures, milking and shearing). In the past four years I've learned a lot.  For example, when the skin under the sheep's chin sags it means that they are suffering from a parasite infestation.  I have also learned that a chicken has a little green sack that can poison all the meat from the chicken if popped while butchering.
Managing a small farm is hard work, and the reality is that there is always work to be done.  We've got our hands full with a small herd of sheep/goats, two farm dogs, thirteen chickens and a quarter acre of garden space.  While the learning curve is difficult at times as we learn together with our kids we're seeing the rewards far outweigh the challenges that we have to face.

Monday, December 27, 2010

2010: Our top beautiful messes

Libby was born April 19th.
Libby is our seventh blessing from God and our third girl.  Brace yourselves but this was our fifth child born at home.  WHAT!?  Are you kidding me you gave birth at home... ON PURPOSE!?  We know it's not the norm but God has taught us so much through these experiences.  We'll never forget learning eight years ago the pros and cons of homebirth and midwives while we were in Georgia.  In all honesty, our first home birth with Samuel Bennet probably had as much fear as anticipation but it has become a true celebration and a moment shared by the whole family... and even our friends!  It's redefined birth for us into something truly awesome and beautiful - even something to look forward to.  Surely it's not void of its fair share of pain and struggle but (suprisingly) it now also embraces joy, laughter, excitement, respect, and creation in ways that our family never would have known.  Is birthing our children an unredeemable mess?  It's definitely a hot topic in our culture.  But we can confidently say that God has demonstrated for us and amazing beauty that he wants us to embrace.  It was extremely uncomfortable and awkward at first, but we'd encourage you to reconsider your thoughts on how new life is brought into the world and allow God to reveal the beauty he intends for it to you.

JC went to Kyrgyzstan in March
Who in their right mind would sign up for their husband being gone for nineteen days while they stay behind with six (almost seven) children to homeschool and a small farm to take care of?  We'd be the first to admit that we haven't always been in our right mind, and this proved to be one of 2010's messiest and most beautiful moments (c:  However, when the opportunity for JC to go to Kyrgyzstan presented itself the decision was an easy one for us.  It's something that we have been talking, dreaming and preparing for - for almost three years!  Being seperated from each other for that long was definitely a stretch for our family.  What started out as a trip with a family friend quickly grew into a six person exploration of Kyrgyzstan's natrual fiber industry.  Here's who God provided for our trip:  a tour guide named Gulasel who coordinated all of our meetings and appointments, a Kyrgyz national named Nurjamal who spoke wonderful English and did all of our translating and had past experience in the wool/cashmere industry, a young business professional named Ryan who understood (much better than JC) the ins and outs of business law and finances, a camera man named Tim who had the resources and the time available to capture the footage of our trip, and our family friend named Sy who had already made plans to move his family to KGZ and who discovered that he might be more interested in business as mission the he imagined.  Over the course of the trip God did a wonderful work in our hearts to draw us together as a team.  We spent 17 days together and were able to coordinate 55 meetings during that time with government leaders, to business organizations, and village leaders, artisans and farmers.  During our trip we learned everything we need to know to begin developing a solid business plan and a strategy for how to effectively move forward.  We also made connections with over 15 people that we still communicate with now on a monthly basis and sometimes more.  At times we were able to Skype with each other.  Skype is an online resource that allows to you to see and hear each other from almost anywhere in the world as long as you have access to the internet. 

Marghie helped the goats give birth by her self
While JC was gone on his trip to Kyrgyzstan our two pregnant goats decide to give birth 10 days earlier than we expected!!!  Originally we had planned his trip so that he would be back in time for helping with the delivery of our new kid goats if it was needed.  However they decided that they would come on the 16th of March (three days before JC was home).  One of our goats had four kids and the other one only had one but it was so big that the doe could not give birth to her unassisted.  We  ended up losing three goats over the next three days.  Two kids and the one pregnant doe.  JC actually came home to the doe with the single kid being helped by the vet - what a greeting!  All the kids were crying and Marghie was emotionally ready to call it a year.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Bet you didn't know! (Samuel Bennett)

10 random things you might not know about me...

So I was the third boy in our family.  I'm the first one who goes by my first name.  Everyone calls me Sam.  I love farming and someday want to have my own farm.  I'm not sure what I'm going to raise on it yet but maybe sheep and horses or something - I guess I need to get a farm first and then I'll figure that out.  So my dad gave me the following 10 random questions to answer.  Maybe you'll read some things you didn't know about me...

  • My favorite set of movies is the Chronicles of Narnia.  I like all the battling and sword fights and being able to go to a secret world.  I wish I could go to a secret world someday.
  • My best toy as a child was and still is just a stick and a rope.  There's so many things you can do with them.  I make bows and arrows, swords, sling shots, walking sticks, I use them to climb trees, making traps for animals... if you can think of it you can pretty much make it with a stick and a rope.
  • I like school, well most of the time.  Some times school is fun - and sometimes school is really hard.  My favorite thing is adding numbers and maybe reading.  Actually I like it best when mom reads to me.  I like to read about early American history.  My hardest thing to do in school is subtracting and borrowing.
  • When we went to the Great Wolf Lodge that was my favorite day ever.  They had huge water slides and a ginormous water tower that would dump thousands of gallons of water on you - it even knocked me over.  My dad and I actually flipped our inner tube on the huge blue water slide.  I was scared of the big blue slide the first time but I ended up doing it 11 times and thought it rocked.
  • When I brush my teeth I put the tootpaste on first and then get my toothbrush all wet.  Then I brush the bottom ones first always doing the top of my teeth the outside of my teeth and then the inside and then I brush my top teeth the same way.  Then I swish water back and forth and spit it out in the sink.  Mom says I should do it two times a day and sometimes I do it in the morning and in the evening - but sometimes I forget.
  • I get really car sick sometimes.  In fact I've even thrown up in our van before.  It doesn't feel good at all.  When we go on long trips I get car sicks especially on swervy roads and roads that have woo-bellies.  So now on long trips mom and dad give me medicine so I don't get sick or I just fall asleep.  That works sometimes too.
  • The first funeral I ever remember was my Great Grandma Mason.  Grandma Mason's house is in Pennsylvania and I love the mountains on her property.  I like to go out there and hike in the mountains with my brothers and my dad and Grandpa Leitch and Uncle Patrick.  The sadest part of the funeral was seeing her in the casket - that was the last time I seen her.  But I know it won't be the last.  There were lots of people there, lots of people I had never seen before.
  • I've rode on an airplane three times in my life.  The first two times I don't actually remember cause I was just little.  But the third time was when I was five and we went to Branson, Missouri on vacation with Papa EO and my nana.  We stayed in a really cool resort with a water park and there was a kid there who had a underwater remote controlled octopus - he scared lots of girls with that thing.  Someday I hope to fly to Kyrgyzstan so I can learn to be a nomadic shepherd and maybe outerspace too - so I can see what it is like to be without gravity.
  • I never unite my shoes when I take them off.  I can tie my shoes very fast but I can't untie my shoes very fast.  So I just kick them off when I come in the door.
  • What kind of question is that? (who are you in love with) UMMMM [sheepish grin]... I don't know but I could tell you who Abe's in love with... but he would kill me if I told you.  I'm not really into girls right now - I'd rather be building, exploring or inventing something or even taking something apart... I do love my mom and dad and my family.  Someday I will get married and I'll love her how's that.

Bet You Didn't Know! (William Authur Abraham)

here's 10 random things you might not know about me...

I have the longest name in my family, but I go by just Abe.  I'm officially the first "ham" in the family but certianly not the only one (maybe that's why they named me Abra-ham).  I like to do art and other creative things.

You'll typically find me outdoors doing sports, camping, hiking or
exploring.  This was my second year of youth football and I got 11 sacks and a lot more tackles for loss on defense - defense is my favorite.  But here's some things you might not know about me...

  • I'm pretty scared of heights.  We went to North Fork Mountain range this fall and hiked along the ridge.  There was a bluff along the one side of the trail and you could see for miles, but it was a really long ways down.  I guess I'm not really scared of heights but it does make me nervous.
  • I like to play in the creek, jump on the trampline and build clubhouses during my freetime.
  • If I had to pick my career I would choose either being a mountian climbing guide or join the army and be a general and help train the troops.
  • I like snowy days better than rainy days, if the snow is perfect for packing.  When it is I like build snow forts and have snowball fights with my friends and family.  Rainy days aren't bad I just like snowy days better because I like to be outdoors (c:
  • If I had to choose the three things that are most beautiful in nature they would be watching a hawk fly, looking off the tops of mountains in the fall when all the leaves are changing colors, and watching a lion stalk and attack its prey.
  • My first year of football was really hard for me.  There were lots of things that I didn't know how to do.  One thing was during stretching we had to curl up in a ball and roll back and forth and then roll all the way over and let my feet touch the ground behind my head... this was probably the hardest thing I've ever had to do.
  • I care the most about my parents.  They give me a home, food, a bed to sleep on, education, teach me skills I can use for later in life and give me practical chores that I can do to help our family out.  I care about my mom and dad a lot, my brothers and sisters too.
  • When nobody wants to do what I suggest we do I get really bored.  Like if I suggest a particular game or to play something outside and nobody else wants to do it I feel like really sad and then just get really bored.
  • My favorite band is Skillet.  I like Skillet because they sing songs that I understand and can sing along with.  They sing music that isn't about weird stuff but things that are important like who Jesus is and how I can live for him.
  • My five favorite foods: pizza from Lem's, homemade macroni and cheese, shepherd's pie, chicken pot pie, and Thanksgiving Dinner (I realize that's not a food but its so hard to just pick one)

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Christmas Letter coming December 25th...

It's been another beautiful mess of a year in the Christensen family including a trip to Kyrgyzstan, eight births on the farm, the birth of Libby Mae and the announcement of another on the way.  God continues to make all things beautiful and 2010 contains lots of cool stories of how he has been at work in our world.  Check back Christmas Day for our first official post.

Bet You Didn't Know! (Martin Pierce)

Okay so you know that I have always been freakishly large for my age and I haven't shown any signs of stopping.  If I continue at this current pace Dad says I will be 6'8" and 330 pounds as an 18 year old!  WHOA!  Currently I'm 5'8" and just cracked 200 pounds and I haven't turned 12 yet.  I'm the oldest child in our family and love helping out with the other young ones and helping mom with daily chores like making bread and anything else that mom needs - EVEN LAUNDRY!  Mom says I'm developing into a pretty capable guy!

But here's some things that you might not know about me...

  • I like to wake up at weird hours.  I am the earliest bird in our family.  Sometimes I will wake up in the middle of the night go down stairs and drink a glass of water.  I also like to wake up early and read books before we have to go out and do our chores.
  • My favorite memory from this year was losing our first two games of the football season and then winning four straight games and making it into the playoffs.  Everyone thought we were going to have a terrible season after the first two games but we were just really young and we played some really experienced teams in the first two games.  We learned alot and came together as a team and played really well the rest of the season.
  • I never want to give up eating Lem's Pizza!  It's the best!!! We go down there almost once a week.  It's become a family tradition and I love it.
  • My favorite movie is - Star Wars: Phantom Menace.  I remember making popcorn and having a movie night in the basement as a family.  And that's what began years of playing light sabers with my brothers and learning to ambush them (but more about that later).
  • I don't really sing in the shower but I like to hum random songs that come to mind.  Maybe someday I'll sing but for now I'm just a hummer.
  • Some of you may not know this but I like to chew on my fingernails.  I'm not sure why I just do it.  Maybe secretly I have a fear of fingernail clippers.
  • Peanuts and caramel would be my favorite ice cream topping and I'm not sure I could decide which one I would rather have - so I'll just take both every time.
  • I'm a bit of a prankster...  I like to ambush my brothers with snowballs in the winter when they are least expecting it.  Yesterday Abe and Sam were playing in the parking lot while we were packing up Conrad and Monica's stuff for their move back down to Georgia.  I decided to make a snowball and heave it at them, and just missed Abe's face - muhahahahahaha.  I quickly reloaded and took aim again at Abe and nailed him in the back of the head.  Whoops... sorry Abe (c:
  • I have a crazy dream of designing a project for NASA someday.  I want to create a new gravity system for astronauts in space.  I think I could design a system of magnetic fields similar to the one our earth uses but making it just a personal magnetic sphere that is in harmony with the rest of the universe.
  • I would have packed myself in my dad's suitcase when he went to Kyrgyzstan in March.  But I think he would have noticed.  Talk about a living out your crazy dream... I remember the first time my dad talked about moving to Kyrgyzstan and helping them process their own natural fibers and partnering with them as we enter and enjoy life in God's kingdom together - I was like WHAT?!  And now here we are 4 years later planning a trip this coming spring and I get to go with him this time!
If you have other things you would like to know about me just leave me a comment and I'll reply back.  Thanks for reading my post.