Thanksgiving

The first wave of Europeans to settle in the United States had a very tough go of things. They endured a long and dangerous voyage across an ocean to a land where they had no family, no stores, no support system. They did this to find freedom from an oppressive government and/or church (which were often one and the same).

After much hardship they reaped a bountiful harvest and laid their stores for the upcoming winter. When the harvest was in and the supplies were stashed they gave thanks.

As we celebrate this uniquely American holiday, lets reflect on the reason these colonists were grateful…they had achieved a new kind of freedom, if only for a short while. They were free to keep the fruit of their labor. They were masters of their own destiny. They could worship as they chose without fear of persecution or execution. They had realized a dream that most of us will never fully understand and many of us are all too willing to surrender.

I sincerely wish a happy Thanksgiving to you and your families. May the true meaning of this day be preserved for future generations to cherish and enjoy.

Are We Cheating Our Children?

It is natural for parents to want to protect their children, keep them from harm.  But in

Are you accidentally robbing your child's chances for success?

Are you accidentally robbing your child’s chances for success?

doing so are we depriving them of essential skills they will need as adults?

Consider this…in life you must face adversity.  There are confrontations, negotiations, people who would attempt to deceive or defraud you and those who would physically harm you.  If you have been sheltered as a child and adolescent, you will be unable to recognize and effectively deal with these inevitable situations.  So I suggest to you, as parents, don’t insulate your child from these learning experiences.  Instead, stand beside them and offer support and guidance where appropriate, but let them figure out how to deal with challenges.  You will be guiding them toward success instead of cheating them out of valuable life lessons.

Self Sufficiency

I haven’t written much in the last few days because I was otherwise occupied with getting food in the freezer.  We processed a pig…yes, we butchered a real pig in its entirety.  Many people don’t think about such things as they simply go to the grocery store and purchase their meat, produce and condiments.  Some people never see raw meat, they only eat packaged foods that they stick in a microwave or oven.  But what would happen if the grocery store shelves went bare?  This is not as unlikely as one might think.  After Hurricane Sandy or an ice storm, or flooding, or any number of natural disasters, deliveries can be disrupted and inventories strained or depleted.

Some of us who live in the country are blessed with gardens, livestock and other resources.  Our supply chain is more dependent on our labor and Ma Nature.  In fact, in talking to many who remember the Great Depression (and there aren’t many of you left) I have learned that those who lived in the cities had trouble feeding their families while those who lived in the country were not nearly as affected.  To hear these country folk talk about the depression they recall not being able to get things like tires or new clothes, but their food source was what they grew or raised so it was still there.  This concept is not so outdated as one might think.  It just takes some backbone and some planning…you know, that responsibility thing that goes along with freedom!

We had two huge marine coolers full of meat!

We had two huge marine coolers full of meat!

So back to this weekend.  We cut up a pig into pork chops, loin roasts, hams, bacon, ground sausage and vacuum sealed the meat.  Today I emptied some freezer space and packed all the meat in…all except the hams and bacon.  Those have to marinate in the seasonings for a while before they are smoked.  Then they will join the rest of the meat in the freezer.

Freshly ground breakfast sausage

Freshly ground breakfast sausage

We had some help from volunteers who wanted to learn this valuable skill and we held an informal class.  We were fortunate to have a teacher who has been a professional butcher show us how to get the greatest yield from the harvest.

Some of you will probably think this is cruel, and you have that right.  Others will be content to eat supermarket meat that has been raised on commercial mega-farms and sent to USDA slaughter houses for mass processing.  On the other hand, the pig we just harvested lived a happy life on a farm with its sister, ate fresh grass and loved life.  It wasn’t fed hormones to make it grow faster or antibiotics to counteract the effects of overcrowding that occurs on commercial farms.  The harvesting was quick and the animal didn’t have any pain or stress.  The processing was sanitary and efficient and the meat is healthy and wholesome.  This is the way it has been done for centuries, maybe millennia.  What better way to honor the circle of life than to let the harvested animal nourish us?

Self sufficiency is a virtue.  There are many necessary skills in life and this is but one.  Being a part of our world, communing with nature, isn’t always pretty, but it is part of life and has its own rewards.  The natural world is checks and balances, life and death.  The trick is to find the life in the death…to complete the circle.  Then it is not all for nothing.

Have A Great Day!

Are you the bright spot in the day or do you blend in to the background?

Are you the bright spot in the day or do you blend in to the background?

In my line of work I come in contact with hundreds of people every day. Most of the time I look forward to my job.  But there are days where I really don’t want to see people.  You know those days.  Sometimes we just don’t have a choice of whether or not to deal with people when we really don’t feel like social contact.

Fortunately, I have a choice on whether I reflect that negativity to my clients.  It used to be that I would let things like this affect my interaction with others.  But it quickly became

When you look at this tree do you see something old and tired or something with amazing stories to tell?

When you look at this tree do you see something old and tired or something with amazing stories to tell?

evident that doing so could have a negative effect on my business. But it also rubbed off on the people I associated with.  So I began an experiment.  When someone inquired how I was doing I would answer enthusiastically that I was great!  After two or three times saying it like I meant it I actually DID mean it!  What’s more, those around me would “catch” the upbeat attitude and everyone behaved in a more positive manner.

 

So if you are feeling a bit on the blue side, do yourself a favor and deny the urge to wallow in self-pity.  At the very least you will avoid subjecting those around you to your pains.  But you never know, you may just teach yourself to be one of those annoying people who are always cheery no matter what!  Besides, life is too short to waste it by not enjoying each day for what it is worth.