Wednesday, August 13, 2014

A new home for Joy Bell Farm!

Blaine and I discovered that when you open yourself up to God and don't add restrictions regarding what you're looking for, He provides in amazing ways.

We didn't find a place that was several acres.  It doesn't have a barn.  It doesn't even have a garage.  It's a double wide manufactured home sitting on 1+ acres of a 25 acre hay operation.  

It does have an incredible view of Mt. Rainier.  It's in the target area we desired in Enumclaw ~ Osceola.  It's a beautiful place.  It's a quiet place.  It's a place with possibilities.  It's a place to learn about the climate and soil as we continue walking out our farm dream.  It brings hope and opportunity; a place to plant a large garden and raise chickens.

This is our new home for Joy Bell Farm.  And, we are thankful for our new landlords, Jessica and Kenny.

God is good.  All the time.  

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Seeking a new home for Joy Bell Farm

We've given our notice at our rental house and we have 31 days to find acreage and a new home for Joy Bell Farm!  It's exciting and scary all at the same time.

Our target area is Enumclaw, Washington - about an hour southeast of Seattle.  We've met several farmers in the area already who are part of the Enumclaw Sustainable Farmers Network.  We're excited to become part of this supportive community growing and producing healthy food for the Puget Sound region.

So at 49 years young, why are we embarking on a new farming venture now - as most farmers at retiring around age 55 or so?  Well, we haven't done all that really hard work that others farmers have spent a lifetime doing, our children are all grown and gone now, and we are not willing to give up a lifelong dream!  We are passionate about growing good, healthy, nutrient dense food in healthy, mineral rich soil blending organic farming and a healthy ecological system.  We want to care for the Earth, care for people and be a blessing to our community! 

So, do we have any experience you might wonder.....

Joanie has done this ~
  • Snohomish County 4-H – club and county leader; sewing and food – multiple projects at the club level.  This is where my farming passion was reignited.  Stepped down in 2005 and moved to King County in 2006.   My hope is to be involved with 4-H again.
  • Seattle Tilth – taken multiple classes over the years (including chicken classes) and completed their Comprehensive Organic Gardener course. Currently, I am a volunteer assistant for adult education classes (Intro to Permaculture and City Chickens 101).
  • Cloud Mountain Farm, Everson – Farm Walk plus a few of their public class offerings (building hoop house, etc).
  • Tilth Producer of Washington (individual member, which enables me to receive their quarterly newsletter and attend Farm Walks) – pruning blueberries, food hub, Cascadia mushrooms, on-farm compost, farm incubator program – and will be attending the GAP farm walk at Local Roots in August and the Burnt Ridge Nursery farm walk in September; just to name a few.
  • Holistic Management International/Allan Savory – attended an all day workshop.
  • Pacific Northwest Center for Holistic Management (Maurice Robinette and Sandra Matheson); financial management class.
  • Mother Earth News Fair – we’ve attended each year since it began in Puyallup.  So many educational workshops; learning from others and networking.
  • Cascade Harvest Coalition (Sheryl Wiser) – Volunteered/Paid for the past couple of years delivering the Farm Guide from Skagit County through Island County and south to Thurston County.  Learned a lot about networking with farmers through my association with CHC.
  • WSU Extension, Small Farms, King Conservation District ~ attended several educational opportunities; continually learning more.
  • Country Living Expo (Cattleman’s Winter School, Stanwood) attended for the past 2 years; a great learning opportunity on a variety of subjects.
  • Focus on Farming Conference (Everett) – attended the conference the past 2 years; also a great learning opportunity.
  • Completed a Permaculture Design Course with Toby Hemenway (author of Gaia’s Garden); a first step in learning what permaculture is and how to look at land and work with the environment and how things work together instead of imposing upon the land.
  • Lots of reading and research plus trial-and-error for several growing seasons in Burien.
  • Annette Cottrell (co-author of Urban Farm Handbook) – learned a little about mini-dairy goats (Nubians) in preparation to show Annette’s goats for a show this past June. 

Blaine attended food preservation classes, built a library of relevant books and has participated in a few farm walks plus attended Country Living Expo and Mother Earth News Fair.  He loves canning and he’s a really good pickle maker too!

TOGETHER, we built our urban farm over 6+ years and I, eventually, managed sixteen raised beds on our urban farm plus additional in-the ground growing areas.  I grew a variety of fruits and veggies plus herbs. For 18 months, I raised a small flock of backyard chickens and learned so much!

Every season brings its tasks and hope of a future harvest.  Very early spring pictured.

To the height of the season when you can barely keep up with the harvest and get some sleep too.  Dawn to dusk days... A wonderful time of year!

Integrating chickens into your system to help with the farm work.  Here the girls are helping clean up the area where strawberry plants were removed.

Utilizing a low growing clover in the garden pathways - each time the clover is cut, the plants send out a flush of nitrogen into the soil; benefiting the plants in the raised beds!  

 Whenever you're turning the soil, the chickens come running to help "clean" the soil (and leave a little fertilizer behind) - bugs and worms are first rate!

And then..... closing the chickens out of the garden during growing season!

Late fall, the girls are still busy when it's time to plant garlic!

Farm work gives you the opportunity to work as a team and learn new skills too.  
Our first chicken coop we ever built!

Together, we're following our dream and believing God will provide Joy Bell Farm for us!

Blessed to be a blessing to others.

"The Lord has done great things for us and we are filled with joy."  Psalm 126:3

Monday, March 17, 2014

Abundant JOY!

I'm spending lots of time with God while my body recovers from my accident the morning of Ash Wednesday.  God certainly has my attention!  I don't recommend falling down steep, wooden basement stairs and breaking one's left pinky finger, breaking two ribs on one's right side and sustaining multiple abrasions and bruises all over one's body, but I am so very thankful for God's protection, provision and faithfulness during and after the accident.  The ER doc indicated that I should be all healed up around Easter time.  Lent 2014 shall be quite memorable for me (and typing with one hand when on the computer).

While I don't like being a burden to others, I am in need of assistance in getting my meals, glasses of water or a cup of hot tea, taking a shower, getting dressed and lifting things.  Coco and I were walking hilly routes up to 3 miles per day and yesterday I was able to walk just over 3 blocks for the first time in 10 day. Slowed down to focus on Him who is most important in my life (have I had Him my focus?).  So thankful for the lessons our Lord is teaching me as I sit at His feet…

Days are spent resting, stretching and slowly moving my body to encourage healing and a hopefully slightly longer walk outdoors each day.  Lots of time for prayer and being in God's Word.  I've been resting/sleeping in a recliner since my accident and hope to progress to our bed (at night) some time this week.  

God is good.  All the time.

Yesterday, God laid Psalm 126 on my heart and all I can say is Joy, Joy, JOY!

A great encouragement to me and I hope for you too.

It seemed like a dream, too good to be true,
when God returned Zion's exiles.
We laughed, we sang,
we couldn't believe our good fortune.
We were the talk of the nations -
"God was wonderful to them!"
God was wonderful to us;
we are one happy people.

And now, God, do it again -
bring rains to our drought stricken lives
So those who planted their crops in despair
will shout hurrahs at the harvest,
So those who went off with heavy hearts
will come home laughing, with armloads of blessing.
Psalm 126, The Message

During this season of Lent, resting in the Lord's care, please let me know how I may pray for you - or even just that you need prayer (God knows your details).  

Abundant blessings of great JOY!

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Actively waiting...

Click on the link above to read a powerful post shared with me (from a precious friend)

While I want to get up out of my chair and run to what I know is coming, God has told me to stay put and wait for Him…  

Waiting is so incredibly difficult, especially for a Martha like me.

Even so, I shall give thanks and declare, "God is good.  All the time."

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Living this life

Another "Take Time Tuesday" has arrived and Ephesians 4:17-32 are the verses I am meditating upon today.  I'm not going to say a lot; mostly share the verses and pray the Holy Spirit shares with each person what it is that He desires to share.  I, personally, feel these verses are a very timely and necessary message to us in the world today.

As Blaine and I continue our study, The Holy Spirit:  An Introduction by John Bevere MUCH is being revealed to us that we have not learned in our faith journey thus far.  We, personally, would like to recommend doing the study with another person or in a small group.  Not only purchase the workbook, but also get the DVD series or purchase the download video version.  This is the MOST POWERFUL teaching we have ever heard!  

Living as Children of Light

With the Lord’s authority I say this: Live no longer as the Gentiles do, for they are hopelessly confused. Their minds are full of darkness; they wander far from the life God gives because they have closed their minds and hardened their hearts against Him. They have no sense of shame. They live for lustful pleasure and eagerly practice every kind of impurity.

But that isn’t what you learned about Christ. Since you have heard about Jesus and have learned the truth that comes from Him, throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life, which is corrupted by lust and deception. Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. Put on your new nature, created to be like God—truly righteous and holy.

So stop telling lies. Let us tell our neighbors the truth, for we are all parts of the same body. And “don’t sin by letting anger control you.” Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry, for anger gives a foothold to the devil.

If you are a thief, quit stealing. Instead, use your hands for good hard work, and then give generously to others in need. Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.

And do not bring sorrow to God’s Holy Spirit by the way you live. Remember, he has identified you as his own, guaranteeing that you will be saved on the day of redemption.

Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.  Ephesians 4:17-32 New Living Translation

…and the same verses from a different translation:  The Message ~

The Old Way Has to Go

And so I insist—and God backs me up on this—that there be no going along with the crowd, the empty-headed, mindless crowd. They’ve refused for so long to deal with God that they’ve lost touch not only with God but with reality itself. They can’t think straight anymore. Feeling no pain, they let themselves go in sexual obsession, addicted to every sort of perversion.

But that’s no life for you. You learned Christ! My assumption is that you have paid careful attention to him, been well instructed in the truth precisely as we have it in Jesus. Since, then, we do not have the excuse of ignorance, everything—and I do mean everything—connected with that old way of life has to go. It’s rotten through and through. Get rid of it! And then take on an entirely new way of life—a God-fashioned life, a life renewed from the inside and working itself into your conduct as God accurately reproduces his character in you.

What this adds up to, then, is this: no more lies, no more pretense. Tell your neighbor the truth. In Christ’s body we’re all connected to each other, after all. When you lie to others, you end up lying to yourself.

Go ahead and be angry. You do well to be angry—but don’t use your anger as fuel for revenge. And don’t stay angry. Don’t go to bed angry. Don’t give the Devil that kind of foothold in your life.

Did you used to make ends meet by stealing? Well, no more! Get an honest job so that you can help others who can’t work.

Watch the way you talk. Let nothing foul or dirty come out of your mouth. Say only what helps, each word a gift.

Don’t grieve God. Don’t break his heart. His Holy Spirit, moving and breathing in you, is the most intimate part of your life, making you fit for Himself. Don’t take such a gift for granted.

Make a clean break with all cutting, backbiting, profane talk. Be gentle with one another, sensitive. Forgive one another as quickly and thoroughly as God in Christ forgave you.

Holy Spirit ~ thank you for your faithfulness in teaching us that we may continually grow in our knowledge of God's Word; understanding more about God the Father, Jesus and You!  Please help me be truly transformed to be more like God and to live the life that I am called to live. I don't want to stay as I am now for I know You have so much more for me.  I desire to fully live!  Thank you for walking and talking with me daily and being available to teach me continually.  I am so grateful.  In Jesus' name ~ Amen.

I am so thankful for each person that takes the time to stop by and read.  May our amazing Lord bless you and provide for your needs enabling all of us to also bless others.  


Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Season of Winter

For the past several years, the holidays arrive with all their activities and then the New Year in which we celebrate a fresh start…  January.  The month of my birth, so another celebration to look forward too.  However, something has changed in me.  While I've battled ongoing health challenges for years, a new "phenomenon" has settled in.  By the end of the first week of the New Year, my body is exhausted, shaky, muscles extremely tight, my eyes weary. No matter what I do to support or encourage my body, winter settles in for a stretch and my body wants to be "dormant" or go into some type of "hibernation."   And, I don't like it one bit!  

But, getting frustrated or angry or ……….. doesn't help and likely puts increased pressure on my tired and weak body.  All I can do is embrace it and realize that REST becomes my #1 priority.  If I'm on the computer too long (and it's a very short time frame that my eyes will function on here), I feel woozy and my neck muscles tighten up and my throat feels a bit constricted.  Sleeping longer hours or naps are a must.  Today, I got up with Blaine for our morning devotions, ate some breakfast after he left and went back to bed (around 6:30 am) and while I woke up a few times through the morning, my body did not want to wake up until around 11:30.  And now, I'm heating up leftover red lentil cauliflower curry to bring warmth to my body…  I'll walk the dog and take a shower and rest again.  Short walk with Blaine (after work) and rest this evening.  And repeat this routine daily for who knows how long.  

But He (the Lord) said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.  2 Corinthians 12: 9-10

Can't say I enjoy "boasting," as Paul did, but I am sharing the reality of my journey - but if I encourage or help one other person then so be it!  However, he does tell me that in sharing my weakness, Christ's power is made stronger in me and I welcome it! So should you.  During the winter season, I rest in Christ that His power is made all the more in me.  I don't want to journey through this life in my own strength, but in His.  And yet, I am so often reminded that the world tells us we must be useful and productive.  The world has little use for someone like me.  I have seasons where I can accomplish much.  I also have seasons where I can "accomplish" little by the world's standards. 

There is little time for rest, wouldn't you agree?  What if the world has it backward?  What if we're looking at the world and this life upside down?  Or through rose-colored glasses?  

One of my maple trees in dormancy last winter

We can look at the natural world.  Some would say that plants and trees are "dead" in the winter.  While they have no active growth happening on the surface (that most see with the naked eye, although signs of life may be there), much is happening below the surface and underground (in the soil).

This visual example brings much hope and excitement to me as I live in acceptance of this "weakened" season in my own life when January arrives.  Maybe it's SAD (seasonal affective disorder) and I need more light. Living in the Pacific Northwest (and I know of some people that leave for sunshine and the tropics for a time during our dreary winter months) can be very challenging.  I've had some professionals encourage me to move to a sunnier climate, but my Lord has not directed me to do so.  For today, I don't have answers.  I am thankful I have a Heavenly Father who does and that Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to be our helper, our counselor, our teacher, our physician to help us here. 

And daily, I give thanks to God for Blaine.  My husband, my best friend, my supporter and encourager, my warrior.  I don't know how I'd make it through the winter season each year without his love and prayer support.  He is truly a priceless treasure and blessing from God to me!

And, come Spring, buds will burst forth and then tender, young leaves.  Soon, the tree will leaf out fully and eventually form seed pods.  When Autumn arrives once again, the tree will showcase great beauty…  Hope.  New life just below the surface.

Usually by mid-February, I begin to sense an increased level of energy in my body and I begin to come out of the weakened, fuzzy state that has been my existence for several weeks.  I feel alive once more.  

Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.  John 12:24

While, I don't consume wheat any longer - this example is not lost on me.  Sunflowers.  One seed produces countless seeds.  Trying planting one and experience it for yourself.

You could plant corn, amaranth, quinoa…  Plant a seed of a plant that produces seed and then count the number of seeds from that one plant.  
I continually stand amazed.

And this verse above, it's really teaching us that we must die to self in order for our lives to produce many seeds of blessing for others.  Our Lord works through our lives to touch others lives, if we allow Him to.

And in the midst of choosing Christ.  Trusting God.  Allowing the Holy Spirit to guide, direct and use my life for Kingdom purposes.  Learning Eucharisto.  Giving thanks. Seeking Joy. My heart is also greatly saddened by loss too.  Even in this, I choose God.

Today, I am reminded that we must carefully consider what choices we make.  Years ago, when I heard this song - I Surrender All by Clay Crosse - I chose to sing those words in a prayer to God.  Even though it has been costly in my life and I have often thought, "What did I do?," I just listened to the song again (and you can listen to it by clicking on the song link above) and while it brought tears to my eyes, I said YES once again…  God is so good.

Atti, Bo Peep, Little Red and Sussy enjoying a sugar pumpkin last January.  How I miss my girls.  They were a reason (a purpose) to get out of bed every morning, even when I was at my weakest….  

And, I believe.  I trust, that one day, God will restore Joy Bell Farm and chickens to our lives.

May our amazing and wonderful Lord bless you and keep you today.  May He make His face shine upon you…  You are loved.