Tuesday, February 24, 2009

So, what's been going on? Plenty! Our family milk cow was delivered on Saturday morning. She needs some love, but is already looking better. We don't have a barn up for her yet (just a temporary shelter if she wants it), but we are working on it. She is warming up to us slowly. She is supposedly due to calf in the May-June time frame. She was dried off this winter due to illness of the owner. Take a look at her!

Later on Saturday Number 3 Son and I took a trip to Sumter, SC to take a look at a possible gilt addition to the hog herd. We spent several hours touring his place. He has a Duroc Boar, two Tamworth Sows and a several Yorkshire Sows. Those Tamworths look good. Eventually I would like to have only heritage breeds ... but that can wait. We did pick out a Duroc-Yorkshire cross gilt and will get her this coming Saturday.

Our new kids are thriving. Here are a couple pictures moments after birth.

I bought a tiller I can't afford yesterday. It was great deal, and our tiny cultivator was just not meant to till the size garden we are planting.

I tilled a couple sections yesterday. We need to get our onions, beets, sugar snap peas and cabbage into the ground this week.

Our neighbor who has been so generous with his excess/over ripe water melon and corn is letting us plant on two sections of his land. Both sections by themselves are 2-3 times bigger than our old garden area. This will give us an opportunity to really supplement our livestock feed and maybe even eliminate some of the feed bill.

We will still use the old garden site for a family garden, but will now be able to grow some legumes in bulk. Lots of work to do, but we (at least Mrs. Curley & I) are excited.


Which brings me around to the last point. Ash Wednesday is fast upon us. I need to spend more time in prayer, and I have much work to do around here in the next weeks (as outlined above). Thus, this will be my last post for a while. I don't really know if I will post at all during Lent-although this isn't meant to be a formal 'blogfast', but don't count on much coming out of here.

I spend way too much time in front of the computer with little profit (financial or spiritual), so it's time to cut back. Just practically, the economy is tough right now, and it doesn't make sense to spend time on doing things which don't help support the household.

I am hoping the investments and efforts we have been putting into our small holding here will help us in these tight times to feed ourselves and anyone else in need. We have been working towards this goal. I am drawn constantly to Peter Maurin and Dorothy Day's vision (as noted in my header).

Now it is time to get going.

I pray all who happen to this page have a spiritually profitable Lenten season.

Our Lady of Joyful Hope, pray for us!

Oremus pro invicem!

Thursday, February 19, 2009


The thrill of seeing and collecting newly laid eggs does not diminish with age or with the number of eggs collected.

Writing is never so eloquent, meaningful, and beautiful as when it is written in connection with the death of a loved one.

If you look towards Lent with foreboding, you need to rediscover the meaning of love and hope.

Oremus pro invicem!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Still alive. We think the worst of the flu is over, but we are coming back on line slowly. I am enjoying doing all the animal chores with Mrs. Curley these days, even though we are quite recovered ourselves. I will be hesitant to relinquish the chickens to the boys when they are fully recovered. The Rhode Island Reds are now at full production, an egg a day from each (and possibly one hen is doing a little double duty.)


I haven't been doing much blog reading these days, but have been following Amy Welborn's writings these past few days. You know, I find the more people close to me that die, the less I fear my own mortality. I have also found my tears at the loss of loved ones, when examined closely, have been tears of joy and gratitude for being blessed with having had the loved one in my life. So many truths come out of our contemplation of death-perhaps a sign we should contemplate it more often as Thomas More often urged.

Here's something that Amy wrote which hit home for me:

For years - 26, to be exact - I have practiced letting people belong to God, not me. It is my mode of parenting, to try my hardest to respect the child as a child, first of all, of God. The road was seriously paved for this when my oldest left home for college 8 years ago, totally on his own journey. And as he and the others grow and developed, I worked harder and harder on it inside my soul.

Let go. They are the Lord’s. They walk with Him, they do not belong to you, they do not exist for your satisfaction or pleasure or entertainment or for any affirmation of anything you have done. They are the Lord’s.

Boy, isn't this something all parents must strive for? It can be a fine line sometimes.


There's a meeting on Thursday evening this week to organize a Bethune Farmer's Market! I may have a conflict (depending on the boys health-turns out two of them won 2nd place in VFW essay/speech contest, and the banquet is Thursday.) It would be great to have a local market here in Bethune.

Finally, our book Giving Up Stealing for Lent! is excerpted in the latest Catholic Men's Quarterly. I recommend both the book and the magazine.... Oremus pro invicem!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

The soul of Bridie (Folan) Mulkern) passed on 14 February 2009. Born on 1 January 1935, she was the loving mother of 4 sons: Tom, James, Kevin, and Michael. Tom is my friend. His mother was always warm and welcoming of his friends. She was a fine, fine lady of strong faith.

Her brogue was so thick that it was many visits before I could well understand her. But there were many, many visits to the Mulkern house over the years, and I was blessed with her friendship even apart from just being her son's friend.

She was always quick to laugh, a great teller of stories, and didn't mince words when she found something wrong.

I had not seen or spoken with Bridie Mulkern for a couple years. I understand she was brave in her last trial and died a peaceful death. May God grant her soul rest!


Please also pray for the soul of Angela Rose Izzo, 90; who passed away 1 am on Sunday in Groton Ct. Angela Rose Izzo is the grandmother of our dear friend Lori Dorchak.

Requiem aeternam dona eis Domine, et lux perpetua luceat eis. Requiescant in pace. Amen. — Eternal rest grant to them O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them. May they rest in peace. Amen.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Down and Out

I interrupt our regularly scheduled break from blogging with a weekend report. I mentioned in my last post that we had some sickness about-well it hasn't abated. I think it's the flu and for some, it has now been over a week. Some of us recovered and then relapsed. This morning Mrs. Curley and I (neither of us very well) and our youngest feed and watered all the animals and checked for eggs. I seldom go near the chicken coops, so it was "fun" for everyone.

We are getting over a dozen eggs a day now (the Rhode Island Reds are almost at full production and the 2nd year Buff Orphingtons are at 50%). We have another 8 or so assorted pullets which will start to lay in another couple months, and we are planning to get some Golden Comets in March.

Mrs. Curley and I have been thinking that an excess of eggs is not a bad thing because as cash gets tighter, our pigs will love those eggs we can't sell or consume ourselves. So we may get more layers than we originally planned. And we certainly want to hatch out our next year's crop.


Welcome aboard! We had two goat kids on Thursday evening. Even though we were sick, Mrs. Curley and I was on hand for the birth (just in case I had to play James Herriot.) (Pictures will follow, I am too sick to bother with downloading, etc.) One billy and one doe. These are the first goat kids from our own breeding. We expected them in February, but forgot to write down the breeding date. Mrs. Curley, earlier in the day suspected Jill was not too far from delivery. They are cuties.


I'm in re-runs..... If you missed it 2-3 years ago you can read my exposition on Ephesians 5 here . (For some reason the main page at CatholicExchange isn't loading properly.)


One of my gilts is refusing to let Tarzan (the boar) do his job. She runs from him. Have called my extension agent, and am waiting for a call back.

Speaking of that, we were supposed to take delivery on our family cow today. But with us all on our backs, we didn't get the new pen and barn ready. The owner has agreed to put off delivery for another week.

In the meantime, Mrs. Curley called our extension office and dairy expert with some questions. His advice: "Buy your milk from the store." I couldn't believe it.

Now back to the business of recovery...Oremus pro invicem!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

(The Week) In Review

You may note that I have added "A Word from our Sponsor" to the top of my sidebar. I liked the comment so much (from the comment boxes), and from such good folks, I just couldn't resist displaying it prominently. I know it is partly vanity, but it is also true. I was never much of a pork man myself and neither was the family. But this home grown pork is goooooood!

There are a several pasture-raised pork operations in a, let's say, a 150 mile radius of us. There is a packing company in Kingstree, SC which caters to small poultry and hog farms who want to sell legal (USDA-approved). The problem is (due to the fact small farmers can't process their own meat legally without large investments and jumping through hoops), while this meat is surely as good as ours, it goes for $5 to $8 (and up) per pound, depending on the cut. Who can afford this? Why can't regular folks get access to this good pork? (that is out-door raised, on the ground, happy pig-pork)

The feds lock out the small farmer who would like to feed regular folks legally. (And note, virtually all of the food scandals and e coli/salmonella scares originate in USDA-approved facilities. What's wrong with this picture?)


I think we were overstimulated as a family a week ago and it took its toll. Most of us have been down for the past week. For some it was a minor inconvenience, (a little stuffy, small cough, etc.) for others it has been more painful with high fevers. Fortunately, most if not all are on the upswing. And it is a good thing, we have a busy week ahead of us.


Looks like we may really be getting ourselves a family milk cow this week! She is a 4 year old Jersey due to freshen in late May or early June. If we weren't CHAINED before, we will be now. Of course every time you chose something, like a lifestyle, you are rejecting everything else, like all the other lifestyles.

The family cow is big investment in time and money. We are not flush with either, but I think it will pay off in the long run. We drink enough 2.5-3 gal/day, plus butter, cream and any excess can go to the pigs. Plus, she is pregnant, so we will have either valuable heifer to sell or a steer to eat (or both). This will round out our livestock aspirations around here (oh, except for some turkeys and more chickens).

But of course we have work to do. We don't have a area fenced-in for the cow, or even a barn large enough to house her. We surely have much work to do.


A few years ago when reading a borrowed copy of Restoration of Christian Culture by John Senior, I quoted him quite a bit here at Bethune Catholic. Browsing yesterday, I see that The Daily Eudemon has been reading it too.

I read Restoration and wanted to put it all (or a lot of it) in practice around here. We never did 'smash the TV' but our viewing is pretty limited to begin with. But here is the money quote which I am truly remiss in:

those in the married state [should] offer a tithe of their time for prayer—about two and one-half hours per day.

Father emphasized the necessity of prayer in his homily this past Sunday. Last night a friend of mine was telling me (over a beer) how we must truly desire Christ in the Eucharist and in our prayer. I see a recurring theme here.


Finally, I think I got my taxes completed! I will give them another look over before mailing, but the hard work is finished.

My filing system is a shoe box under the desk. All receipts go in there, and at the end of the year I spend a day sorting and totalling. Once done, the taxes usually only take 1/2 day.

Oremus pro invicem!

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

I had already finished my post below when I read this sad news. I met Amy Welborn and Michael Dubruiel in April 2006. Here is what I reported. But now I will tell the rest of the story.

We were coming back from a wake in Columbia, and we pass through Camden on the way home. I knew Amy was doing a booksigning at a coffee shop there. The whole family was with us. I parked the van and Mrs. Curley and I walked down to the coffee shop leaving the kids in the car. We peeked in the window, and sure enough there was Amy Welborn sitting at a table with 2 or 3 other folks. The rest of the place was deserted.

Now I am not a people person. I don't like to take initiative to talk to someone I don't know. I like talking, but I hate those first phases of conversation.

So Mrs. Curley and I stood outside the window discussing whether we should go in and what I should say. We must have discussed it for 10 minutes. All this time, a man was changing a diaper in the car behind us. We took little notice.

Finally, someone at the table waved at us, so I figured we had to go in. I am glad we did.

We went in and had a wonderful conversation with Amy. She gave Lori a copy of her book on Saint Mary Magdalen. After a while Amy introduced to Michael who just came in-he was changing a diaper in the car!

Mrs. Curley and I often have wondered whether he heard our conversation about to whether to go in and what to say. He may have because he was especially gracious to me.

He pulled me aside and we talked as one publisher/editor to another. He encouraged my efforts and made me seem like I knew something (which I still don't).

We corresponded once or twice since, and again he was encouraging and very open to helping any way he could.

May God grant Michael rest and his family consolation.

Requiem aeternam dona eis Domine, et lux perpetua luceat eis. Requiescant in pace. Amen. — Eternal rest grant to them O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them. May they rest in peace. Amen.

Weekly update

I woke up this morning to ground covered in snow! This is the first time in the 18 years I have lived in SC (4 in college and the last 16 years) that I have seen snow cover the ground twice in one winter! The kids are just getting up. I am sure I will be victim again to vicious snowball attacks!

Whew! It has been busy since I last reported in. Beside paying work, which is keeping me hopping (Deo gratias!), we have been doing quite a few things around here. Last week we slaughtered and butchered two pigs. Wilbur and Cissy were brother and sister. They were almost the same size when I purchased them at 10 weeks old. But Cissy out grew her brother by quite a bit. At slaughter Cissy was ~275 lbs and Wilbur ~180 lbs. We took W first on Thursday and made whole hog sausage out of half of the carcass. Fortunately we had some friends down to help us. Mrs. Curley had a friend in the kitchen (she also held a leg during the stick!). Friends of our boys also came to help. One skinned with me; one helped tend the fire; and one helped dress the head. We started at 9:30 AM and finished cleaning up the kitchen at 11:30 PM. A looooooong day, as Mrs. Curley can attest. But it would have been much longer without the help of these hardworking young men.

Friday, the Dorchaks came down to help with Cissy. Slaughter on Friday, butcher on Saturday. We're getting to be old pros at this. Things went very smoothly and quickly.

I remember our first slaughter in July. We worked on skinning for some 5 hours. At one point, I was alone in the little red barn. It was mid-July. The air conditioner pulled from my office and the blocks of ice on the ground could barely keep this 8X8 room under 70 F, even at 10:00 PM. As one of my friends was in the house dressing the head and the other tending a cut, I was left alone skinning the fore legs and then sawing the carcass in half. Almost near despair at the daunting task which still lay before me, I wondered what I had gotten myself into. But an hour or two later as we drank a few beers and relived the day, I realized something greater was going on.

Now I look forward to these slaughters with more pleasure than may be I should. It is not the meat in the freezer (although this is a very, very, good thing), but the camaraderie, community/family prayer, and good friendships forged over a day of hard labor.

Next slaughter ... March.


Speaking of pigs .... don't we always ..... we built a new pen this past week and moved the three little ones on Monday. They were overdue to move to a new area. Now we have 4 empty pens which we can rest and grow back greenery on. It is fun to watch pigs explore and dig up a new area. We have a few more pens to build to ensure we don't tire out any ground and keep a good rotation. We have a little breathing room now.


Plans for the spring: Our turnips are gone, mostly to the pigs. Our collards are all but gone. So it is time to think about spring gardens. I have laid manure on the garden areas in December, so they will be ready to plant on in March.

We need to get some more meat birds and some more laying hens. (Our Rhode Island Reds are starting to lay slowly. The Buff Orpingtons are laying at 30% efficiency.) We have a few which will be ready to lay in a June or so, but we need another flock to ensure year round egg availability. Golden Comets are the ticket. We expect to get some soon.

We also want to try our hand at Turkeys this years. You have to keep them very separate from the chickens, but I hear that while they may be a pain, there is nothing like a home-raised turkey for eating. I am hoping to raise enough to have a few for ourselves and a few to sell.


I had some thoughts about current events (Super Bowl ads and CBS' new reality show), but decided against wasting my time commenting. But a letter to both the NFL and NBC on the former is definitely called for.

On the economy, as this stimulus package goes forward, I am struck by how both parties see solutions to problems in terms of expanding government. They quibble over emphasis and details, but the end result is the same. There is no real change. And so the same things happen over and over, they just get worse. We lose our freedom to determine how and where we make a living. We become simply tools serving the economy (as most of us are already considered.) Once our financial freedom is totally under control of the government, the stifling of our other freedoms will accelerate.

I have begun to notice SC Senator Jim DeMint becoming more and more prominent nationally in resisting bailouts and stimulus packages. I must keep an eye on him.


Well, life and work is calling. Til next time, May the Lord grant us strength in temptation, endurance in trial, and gratitude in prosperity! Oremus pro invicem!