Thursday, 6 October 2016


Sometimes you get to the end of a long day, and it’s not even past 8 o’clock but you’re tired. And you really want to work on some music, because your thoughts have been going crazy and the swirling of emotions with the coming of a new season, cool weather, friendships and all of life’s crazy tangents that she throws at you. And of course for a song writer, someone who processes through writing, through poetry, through the uniting of words with music, this is all fodder. It’s merely a matter of sorting through, and picking up the pieces that are worth saving. Finding the phrases that match with the next set of words. To be honest I think I am more naturally lyrically gifted than I am with music. By that I mean I can write more songs than I can put to music. Which leaves me in the tough decision of what song is the best and work on that one. I don’t have a book or a manual to go off of, I’ve only got my experience with song writing and listening to others express their talents. I don’t know if I’m doing it right, but maybe it will be original. I’m not always sure that it’s the best out there, but it’s me. I think God gives all of us talents, and he doesn’t want us to bury them in the ground. He tells us to make the most with what we’ve been given. So honestly, I’m just trying to take what I’ve been given and go with it. But like I said, I’m too tired. I’m sore, physically tired, and I would rather just go to bed. So I compromise, by going downstairs to listen to Grace Vanderwaal (look her up, she’s awesome!) and drink some raw milk with dark chocolate chips.


Wednesday, 3 August 2016

Back at farm life

It's harder than I remembered; and the reward is not always immediately gratifying.

I took a week off from farming, going straight for 3 months without more than a night or two away for a small camping adventure. It was good. There were not a lot of planned activities and a lot of it was just sitting around, sometimes talking, sometimes playing my guitar, occasionally playing a game of cards with my siblings. I was able to go running several times that week, I think that kept my body more in the routine of vigorous working that it was use to and it helped simulate being at work. It's been a while since I just sat around and didn't do much. There are pros and cons, two sides to every coin. It can lead to greater laziness (I'm not saying merely lying around is lazy, but can lead to a slothful mindset if not careful), or can lead to greater productivity. I believe God wants us to rest, He doesn't want us to be workaholics, slaves to our labor. He certainly enjoys when we work hard and put our mind and strength to work in which he created, but we must have room for rest. Sometimes that's hard for me; especially when I have trouble getting back into work from rest I wonder to myself "was that really worth it?"

I'm that guy who at the beginning of a week of vacation, thinks about how in one week it will all be over and then I try to savor every moment remembering how fast it will all go by. I enjoy pondering about things, the way life is, how fast time slips by. It's all very intriguing to me.

I guess I shouldn't have expected anything different. A week with your family and you remember how much fun you all have together, it's only natural to want more of that. You start questioning your commitment to work. I've committed at this point to working pretty much straight from February to November, without more than maybe a week off in March for my sister's wedding. My brain would have me question the motive for that, maybe that's too much work. Am I moving too fast? Trying to take on too much? I am that guy who will try to take on more responsibility than is wise, I have to remember that about myself. I tend towards taking on more work than is healthy.

Sometimes I even second guess my wanting to farm. Is this really where my soul is? It's hard work, and it is a lot of commitment. Like any home business it requires a dedication and drive to do it, often forgoing vacations or extravagance. Is this what I want? I remember the good times, when you harvest the first tomato, pluck the first few leaves of basil in June. After a hard days work coming back to a meal cooked mostly of fresh grown garden produce or home raised meat accompanied with a home brewed craft beer. It's also the community. Sharing stories of related gardening tactics or new methods of soil production; a local source of non-gmo grain for feeding chickens. Or going to the farmers market and seeing again just how many dedicated people there are doing what you're doing and living the dirty life.

So here I am, back at farming. I've got 12 more weeks of vegetable CSA, and I'm just getting into raising broilers for meat. I've got half a dozen projects I need to complete for different areas of the farm. I've also got to work on my tiny house so that I can finally have my own space to cook, live, sleep and just be. I need the drive that will empower me to work hard and long hours. I also need the wisdom to know what jobs need to be priority. Which days I need to be doing what. The dirty life of farming. I'm here, I may as well make the most of it.

Monday, 1 August 2016

This whirling inside of me

The emotions that flood me are swinging like a pendulum from some giants hand. The tumbling rush of endorphins makes me dizzy, hardly daring to take a step towards any one thought or conclusion. Inside the whirling questions that beg an answer beating me for what they pray I have. But they are mistaken, I don't hold the key, I'm merely a spectator in this coliseum spectacle, hoping to make it out alive. I don't have the answers or the reasons, I've lost the logic that I thought I once had and maturity is thrown to the wind. Behind me screams a thousand what ifs and what could be and ahead lies one road. Traveled by many who have gone before, egging me to follow in their footsteps. Dare I step out into the new, the cold, the shrouded place of mystery and unknown that mankind wishes for but never holds? I don't know. I'm trying my best to believe that there is something bigger than me at play here. That my daily thoughts and desires are maybe, just maybe in the hands of someone much bigger than I. That the feelings I have just might be from someone who knows me better than I do. I'm lost in this sea of emptiness, looking for a way above the waves. Hoping for a path to higher ground, but not sure of the way. Take me to a place of consolation, where all worries vanish like the darkness of the night to dawns early rays. Bring me out of this pit of wondering into the resting place of steadying. 

Tuesday, 7 June 2016

The Dirty Life

I don't have time to write this, I got up at 5am, it’s almost 9pm now, and I am getting up at 4:30am, but I don’t care.
I also don’t care that I’m eating blueberry cobbler with vanilla ice cream. It’s the little things that make the farm life worth it.
I was gonna pay myself for working on the farm, and then farm happened. I don’t think I’m getting paid. That’s okay.
To be honest it’s really hard. Not every waking moment, not getting up at 5am everyday even, but it is wearing. I live where I work. At the end of a 12 hour day (I usually start farm work at 6:30am) I don’t get to go home from work, I live at work. Of course there are pros and cons to it. I usually see the pros, but eventually I need a break. I usually get enough work off the farm doing side jobs that it gives me enough break. However, there come times when I just need to get out into a coffee shop and absorb it all.

Managing a farm is frustrating, because there are too many things to do. There are literally too many tasks on a farm to complete them all. The only farm that gets everything done isn’t making money, because the amount of workers to work is too high.
I have to think about soil mixes, and organic fertilizers and when I want to spray, because the ideal time is in the morning, but there’s more to be done early in the day and it gets pushed to the afternoon and then I can’t spray because the oil might sunburn the leaves. The tomatoes need twining to keep them up, I really need to water the okra, but because it’s above the garden I don’t always think of it and it is drying up. I should’ve thinned the greens growing by the house, but I didn’t get around to it and now they’re competing too much and stressing each other out. I really need to think about starting the Fall seeds because it takes 3 months for them to mature, and 3 months from now is September, almost Fall. With farming you’re always looking ahead, always planning, always trying to be one step ahead of nature. The greenhouse plants need watering twice a day, I usually do it once because I’m trying to figure out where I can buy a large quantity of greensand and blood meal at a good price. I’m researching my garden books to figure out what they’re doing wrong and what they’re doing right. I’m also trying to figure out how the freckle you grow good micro greens. It’s simple, right? You plant a seed and cut it when it’s an inch tall? Apparently I’m missing something.

It’s good though, it really is. I’m making connections with breweries to pick up spent grains, and local food banks for getting excess waste. We pick up bread from the local bakery for our pigs and chickens. I’m meeting people all the time who are interested in farming and what we’re doing and our Farm to Table dinners seem to be an amazing hit. Someone recently asked me how I was feeling about this, if I was planning to continue on for next year. While I’m not ready to say I’m here for 10 years I’m ready to commit to the next year and probably the next. I’ve put too much into this to just walk away. 

I really need to take some business classes, online, free, or something, I think they would help. I’m doing my best, but I know I can learn more. Social media networking I’d love to learn more about, but some of it kind of comes naturally. Gardening is a passion I’ve had for a long time, but I’m not expert. It makes me wonder, if I am doing all this at such an amateur level, is everybody else doing the same thing?

I love the place. I love the people I’ve met, it’s a great community to be in. Chattanooga is a cool town, big enough to have a choice of what gourmet restaurant to eat at, but small enough that your view is not obscured by a dozen sky scrapers every time you take that selfie. 

English Vintner

Monday, 29 February 2016

What are we doing?

Do we really have it all figured out? Am I going through life simply to fit in because I have made a conscious decision to do so, or am I just not putting the effort and energy into figuring out what I really want? The real me, what does it desire? I often ponder these thoughts. (Sometimes I wonder if I should’ve gone into philosophy, I’m sure I would’ve found it fascinating)

We go through life so fast, not thinking about what we’re really doing, what is really happening, what really matters. Is it more important that someone ate up the last lemon, or was it worth it that that person got hurt when you yelled at them? What should’ve really happened in that situation? It’s just a lemon, and yet it meant so much to you in that moment that yelling at him and making him feel bad was the most important thing. We all do that. It’s why so many people hate themselves and find no self worth. They only have degrading things to say about themselves and so bring others to look down on them and that continues the downward spiral into depression and suicidal thoughts. That’s not the way Jesus views you. What does Jesus see? Isn’t it about time we started viewing ourselves and others the way Jesus looks at them? A daily prayer I try to make is “Father, give me your eyes to see people the way you see them.” Jesus said that he only did that which He saw His Father in heaven doing. I think that’s a pretty good model.

It’s so easy to look at where we are in life, single, married, parents, jobless, starting a career, retirement, whatever it may be and be dissatisfied with where we are. We assume that given time, we will change our character, we will change the habits we want to break, and yet, on our own strength and will we so often find ourselves doing the same things over and over. Age 25 we’re married and have a kid, and we’re yelling at the child like we saw our Dad do to us. We take another drag on the cigarette, thinking, I’ll get off it next week. We put of exercising and say next week I’ll try to cut back on my food and try to get to the gym. But here’s the fact, putting something off doesn’t make it any easier, it merely causes more stress. We push our fears aside, but never really take the time to figure out why we have them. We’d rather go around with bandaids covering up broken legs than actually get to the root issue and find a lasting solution. It takes self evaluation. It takes quiet time and reflection. It takes asking specifically for Jesus to step into your life in specific ways; and it also takes discipline. Start with something small. We all do things in life we’d rather not do. Getting out of bed is often not what we want, but we do it anyway. Pick up the Bible and read a chapter, not to get a list of what you should today or how you should act, but to get to know the one who wrote the book. You see, if we become bogged down with reading the bible or going to church to help us, we’ve missed the point. It’s not some self-help book with positive thinking. It’s getting to know Jesus. It’s reading about the God who has made all of history and finding out his character. How He treats people, why He loves us, why He’s created us. It’s to have a relationship with God. Where we talk to Him, and He talks back. Where we come to Him with questions, and he responds and gives us answers. Not always in our own way or time, but He is a God who never lets a promise go.

We expect change to happen, without us having to put any effort into it. That’s not the case. But we can’t pull ourselves up by our own bootstraps either. By diving into the word of God, spending quiet time listening to the Holy Spirit and actively changing the way we think and act is how we will change. God tells us to be perfect, as he is perfect; Holy as He is Holy, and I don’t think He would say this, if He didn’t give us the tools to do so. The tools are a relationship with His Son Jesus Christ and communion with the Holy Spirit. Aligning our lives up with the way God wants us to live. You can be a loving person who seeks the good of others before thinking of himself. You can be someone who is blessed with favor in order that you can bless others as you have been. You can be someone who reaches out to others and seeks to sit with the lowly and walk along side the poor. You can be the person that others look up to and give wise counsel and encouragement as a warrior in Christ. 

I just want the world to know what true love is. Because if they really understood it, all our problems would be gone. Even Christians don’t fully grasp it. True love, the love that Christ gives us transforms every part of our lives. It is the power that will change nations and start revivals. It’s the weapon that will break demonic strongholds over cities and regions. Love is what matters. It defeats the big and the little. We need it to get through every day life, seemingly doing the same things over and over again. We need it to get through the big hurdles in life, too. The mile markers and commitments. In the end, without a relationship with the Father, all if for naught. You will never experience what He has for you, and life will always come up short, never feeling like you are quite satisfied.

English Vintner

Monday, 1 February 2016

The Next Chapter

It’s been a long time since I’ve written, I guess you could blame it on a number of things. Juggling lots of things with my time, getting ready to transition, and the fact that I don’t always know what to write from or about. Anyhow, I expect to be writing more in the coming months, as I’ll have more time to myself and missing my family often increases my writing about my life to or for them to read.

I am moving to Chattanooga in March, the 15th to be exact. I don’t have a lot of concrete things I’ll be doing, except that I’m going to help start a garden CSA with my cousin Jether. 

There are lots of other things I want to do or I am thinking about, but just how many of those other things I do will depend on my determination and what I prioritize. I’ve fantasized about starting an artisan bakery because I’m very much into artisan bread right now. I’ve always been fascinated by bread making, and have been doing it for years off and on, but it wasn’t until I got some bread making supplies for my brother as a birthday gift that things started to change. He picked up the book Flour Water Salt Yeast, by Ken Forkish which is undoubtedly the best book I’ve read for home baking artisan breads. Simple, yet basic and traditional ingredients to create rustic loaves that taste wonderful and look beautiful. I’ve gone through most of his breads in the book and have a pretty good knowledge of baking, and I’ve already had years of experience working in a kitchen. So, I fantasize about starting a bakery in Chattanooga, but they already have a good artisan bakery and it’s hard to say if I could compete.

I still plan to roast coffee; offering it in our CSA. Once again, I’d love to start a coffee shop in Chattanooga, but they’ve got several great roasters and the completion could be tough. Having something to set yourself apart would be essential. Sometimes I just have to remind myself I’m only 22 years old, and most people don’t start a business until much later in life. I’ve still got time.

I’m pretty excited to be farming and can’t wait to see where it will take us. I can’t wait to be a living example to people of how great permaculture design and growing really is. To build a system where you’re not losing anything to waste. A garden that can feed 50 people a year and not use a tractor. There is so much to explore and I can’t wait to get started. I’m not looking forward to the business side of things. I’m a bit of entrepreneur, as if you needed me to say that by now, so there is a side that loves starting a business, but I’m also one who doesn’t like spending hours on a computer. I want to be out feeding chickens, planning a garden, or planting beans. I am labeled the Business Manager this year, and while we don’t have a lot of shares, I’ll be keeping track of money and figuring out everything that goes into a business. 

I’ve almost finished recording an album. I have a couple hours left to finish recording, and hopefully will have that out before I leave for Chattanooga. I played at a show in December and I’m playing again next month. Hopefully I will continue playing in Chattanooga as well. While I’m not sure how much I want to get into music, it’s definitely a part of me. I like the challenge of exploring music and finding something that’s your own, not riding on the notes of someone else. It’s always a challenge for the artist to use the same thing as everyone else (paints/brushes/music/instruments), make it different , yet sound similar enough to be able to say who the artist is.

I don’t know everything about this next chapter of life, but who does? We only get one shot at this, so I guess I’ll give it my best.

English Vintner