New Year’s Visitor – 2

bucks2-iconHere I was with 2 on-heat bucks running loose among my does.  Didn’t I decide 9 years ago that I was done with the ‘Births, Marriages and Deaths‘ scenario?  This was by far the worst thing I could think of!

I went down to the house and over a cup of coffee was inspired (thank goodness) to give myself a real hard talking to:

“Pat, this is the Serpent messing with you.  He’s got you in a right stew and as long as you’re in a stew, you block the Lord’s work.  Remember what He said: “Focus on Me!”  Just do it, and stop falling for Satan’s talk.  Whatever happens, it’s not the end of the universe.  With the Lord’s help, you will get through it.  And remember, “Greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world.”  (1 John 4:4)

Thank you, Lord.

In trials like these, it can be very difficult to realign your thinking.  All the evidence is against that, all the facts point one way, and the news is all bad:  ‘No-one in their right mind would think any differently.’   But Paul emphasized the importance of walking by faith, not by sight.  And he was tested sorely throughout his ministry: you can’t accuse him of not knowing what he was talking about.

Paul said, “So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, for we walk by faith, not by sight.”   WHICH TRANSLATES:

The more we engage with worldly thinking the more we turn away from the Lord’s power.  So we need always to be of good courage and walk by faith in Him, not by what we see.”   (2 Corinthians 5:6-7)

Our limited minds are always searching for answers and solutions: “How, how, how can this come right?”  “What can I do to sort this problem?”  “Can I think of some way out of this situation?”   It’s hard, with our worldly drive to organize and plan everything, to ‘opt out’ and let things go.  We get hammered with the goal setting, visualizing and life planning ideologies of the self improvement gurus.  Not to mention  the ‘I Did It My Way’ would-be standard for living enshrined in the world’s thinking over 46 years ago.  What a travesty that was!  How many people were fooled by it!   Still are.

Didn’t Jesus say, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”  (Matthew 11:28-30)  No DIY, no  goal-setting instructions there.

How many of those who heard Him, and how many of us, struggling with the issues and dramas of everyday life, have thought, “This guy was crazy!”   And yet … ‘this guy’ holds the keys to the universe, life and death, in His hand.

Somehow, I managed to settle down and quit worrying.

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It would be nice to say that next morning the bucks had disappeared – well at least I couldn’t see them anywhere.  I opened the paddock gate again and the does went up.  Washing the dishes, I was full of hope – until I heard an irate call that didn’t sound like a doe.  It was Himself, allright – suddenly realizing they’d got away from him.  As I watched from the kitchen window, he charged through the open gate and on up the paddock in search of his harem…

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But now, 7 days down the track, I can pretty definitely say the bucks are not on the property.  None of the does is on heat and I haven’t sighted Himself or his offsider for over 6 days. Maybe they are like sailors with a girl in every port…   Somehow, they must have got back through the fence into the bush and I have a window of about 2 weeks to get the fence mended before the does come on heat again (if they haven’t taken to service).

As far as I could tell, only 2 of the does cycled.  So if I can keep Himself and his offsider out, the kid drop may be less than I feared.

Praise the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits…”  (Psalm 103:2)

Yes indeed – Regardless.

Patricia

New Year’s Visitor – 1

bucks-iconMy last post about the new piglets for Christmas sets the scene for this follow-up New Year’s Tale.

In addition to the 3 Kunes, I have 3 Boer cross does, the remnant of breeding that I was into some years ago.  These doe goats have lived on their own with me for 9 years and they tidy up around the place.  It’s a nice, peaceful arrangement.

Or, it WAS a nice, peaceful arrangement.

On New Year’s Eve I went up in the late afternoon to give the piglets their evening meal.  One of the does was standing just inside the fence in the paddock that leads up the back, and as I glanced at her, my eye was drawn to something in the gorse a little way behind.

Unless I was much mistaken, it was the top of a buck’s head.  Though I couldn’t see much in among the gorse bushes, I knew the cut of a buck’s horns only too well.  And what’s more I could smell him.

As if to answer my unspoken question, he stood up even as I looked.  Quite a big boy, too.   And I had a good idea how he’d got in – through a breach in my back fence made by wild pigs this last winter.   Though I was planning to fix it, pinning down a contractor at this time of year is not the easiest. In the past, I would have grabbed some waratahs and done the job myself, but when I last thumped in a couple of standards a few months ago, I wrecked my back again and got a telling off from my chiropractor (plus a bill or two).        It pays to be careful.

The doe waggled her tail – yes, she was on heat, all right.  Drat!  This really puts the cat among the pigeons.

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The buck even had a bit of a Boer look about him – could have escaped from the Boer cross farm a few miles off over the hill, where I got the current does.

I went to feed the piglets, mind in a whirl.  When I got back, I could see there was a second, younger buck a little further behind.  The leading buck had quite a spread of horns – near 3 feet, I guessed, so he was a seasoned campaigner and definitely the one in charge.   Drat!   Drat!

I was quite upset that evening.  The scenario in my mind ran something like,  “I was getting everything set up nicely and now this happens.  The other 2 does will be brought on heat by the bucks, and I stand to have at least 6 kids arrive this year, with all the dramas of ringing or destroying any buck kids that arrive, and making sure the buck kids don’t starve the doe kids by hogging the milk supply.  More mouths to feed.  And above all how do I get rid of those 2 adult bucks?

Knowing the bank where the fence had been breached, I couldn’t see them getting out again – and obviously, having found some does, they’d be more likely to stay.

I had some good Deerstalker friends who had destroyed a mature buck for me some years back – the wife was recognized nationally as the top female shooter in NZDA for some years, and extremely accurate.  But that was then and this is now.  We are all that much older and I wasn’t sure even if she was still shooting.  Aaaargh!  And I don’t really like killing things, and I don’t want to let just any old shooter loose around my does…

Next morning when I went up, the does were at the shed.  No sign of the bucks.  So I closed the paddock gate.  Later I went up again with some more feed and heard a mighty rattling in the side fence.  Sure enough, the lead buck had his horns caught in the bottom of it – no doubt the does had gone up into another paddock behind there and he was trying to get through.  I had a great view of his back end as he twisted and turned, pulled and pushed at the fence wires.   He was an entire male, no question about that.

This was all getting to be a bit much – and on a New Year’s Morning!  If that huge spread of horns was well and truly caught in the fence, I’d have to get someone to deal to him smartly.  I have 8 wire high tensile fencing built specifically for goats, so the gaps at the bottom are narrower than usual – oh the power of testosterone!

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Fortunately, when I went up again later, he’d extricated himself – these guys are SO smart.  It also became clear that both bucks had now got through the fence and were in with the does.   Later, they all came down to the shed and it seemed a second doe was on heat as well.   Problems, problems…

There was a lot of stamping, gobbling and roaring going on – and a few other unmentionable things that bucks do to entice their females for mating.     Talk about Bad Moon Rising!

This carry-on isn’t any good for fences, either.

More next time.

Patricia

A Christmas Present – In The Lord’s Good Time

kunesThe week before Christmas, I bought myself a present of 3 female Kunekune piglets, about 12 weeks old, from a breeder down south near Whangarei.

Their purpose is to help me with weed control – specifically an overgrowth of Wandering Jew (Tradescantia fluminosa), reaching seriously epic proportions in the rich volcanic soil all around my house. This weed is becoming a real problem here in NZ, wherever it gets a hold.  I’d been asking the Lord for a solution for months – no years – but not one solution I investigated seemed to be workable.   Frustration!

I’ve had Kunekunes before.  They are a delightful pig, smaller than the large commercial meat breeds, but the boars can tip the scale at 200 lb nonetheless.   A few weeks back I was led to look at a blog I wrote at the time, and the fact that Kunes eat wandering jew hit me in the eye.  Of course !!    At that time, the problem was less serious, which is maybe why it had slipped my mind.

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I knew from previous experience that Kunes need to be very strictly contained in their first days in a new home.  I carefully strengthened up a side pen to my goat race up at the shed, and when I got them home, installed them there.

It has been very successful, with the double advantage of getting me walking on rough ground again (now that I am largely pain-free and no longer limping – thank you Lord!).  So I carry feed up to them at least 3 times a day – water too, until I solved the problem of why the tap up at the shed was suddenly not working.  Now my legs are getting stronger again: one single solution to more than one problem.  Doesn’t the Lord love doing that?

So now swathes of wandering jew are being pulled out and fed to these little darlings by the sackful – the dastard weed goes in one end and out of the other comes great fertilizer – AND it’s not the least likely to sprout again!

It’s a wonderful solution, because normally the big question when you pull some of this stuff out is – now what do I do with this?  Every little scrap of this plant that is dropped or thrown on the ground somewhere, will grow as a new plant.  The only really successful solution I’d read was to put the weed into a 44 gallon drum, top it up with water and put the lid on.  12 months later voilà – some great fertilizer.  But I hate to think how many 44 gallon drums I’d need – or maybe a few water storage tanks?  And an impossible amount of work.  Hmmm…

Burn it?  The strictures on lighting fires up north here are massive, plus I’ve no desire to start a raging bush fire in the kikuyu grass.  So the wandering jew problem seemed insurmountable.  The only other option was to get a contractor in to spray the stuff – not guaranteed to be a success, and the cost and toxic chemical exposure potential are both pretty prohibiting.

So the cute piglets (growing like weeds on kikuyu, tradescantia and feed pellets) really are an inspiration – as well as being great fun.  I’m getting ready to let them down into my back garden, once I’ve tidied up the fencing, with unlimited access to grass and jew.  And ultimately I can rotate them around even more areas where the jew is flourishing…

This whole episode has been a huge lesson to me in the value of waiting on the Lord.  The wandering jew problem is of long standing – going back to when I looked after my mom with alzheimers full time – and one possible solution after another has seemed to be blocked.

How often has that happened to you, when steps you might have taken don’t materialize and then later, the solution comes along and you find yourself thankful that you waited on the Lord’s timing for that solution to appear and didn’t do whatever else you had in mind?

How many times have I thought to myself, “Maybe I should get a contractor in…”?    We often wait so unwillingly!  Or berate ourselves for ‘lack of action’.

The bottom line is, I could not have done any of this until I could walk pretty much without pain again – and that has happened only in this last 5 or 6 weeks.  Amazing!

But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.  Isaiah 40:31

Patricia

Black Night of the Soul – 2

black-night2-lionSo there I was, with all these worries about my mother’s alzheimers and the mental baggage weighing heavily.

I literally didn’t know any more what I wanted to achieve with my life.

All that stood before me seemed to be the slippery, downward slope. Even my art, my true, lifetime’s Heartland, looked like a hopeless cause.   It was very hard – impossible even – to settle down and create a painting that I could not be sure of selling quickly, when I badly needed to establish an income ‘NOW’.

Desperate, I analysed my situation, and decided I couldn’t do anything about having to look after my mom, but I could maybe do something about my thinking.  What we think – consciously or subconsciously – is the key to what we get in life, isn’t it?   I knew that much.  I also realised the way I was going, there was a real danger of bringing about the very situation I feared most.   Scary.

I turned again to my favourite self-help books – by John Kehoe, as it happens. ‘Goals and visualising‘ were the buzzwords, but even that was beyond me.  After all the crashes, I had no faith in my ability to come up with sensible goals.  ‘Visualising’ was a bad joke, setting goals was a bad joke – not to mention impossible.  So I laid the books aside – they didn’t inspire me anymore.

Things were black and I knew it.

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Finally a plan formed, born somehow out of the barren waste of the mind:  get right back to basics, none of this fancy visualising, goal setting nonsense.  Focus totally on weeding out the brain’s incessant chatter from day to day, minute to minute.

This wasn’t taken from any book or self-help course of the day.  It felt like entirely my own plan (although looking back I’m sure even then it was born with the Lord’s help) –  so I asked for guidance and monitored my thought patterns rigorously.

Every time I caught myself worrying about the future and losing my home, I looked around for things to give thanks for right there.

I gave thanks for the sky and the trees and the flowers and the house I live in, instead of looking at all the things about the place that needed doing (and they were many).  I gave thanks for my pets instead of reflecting that maybe they shouldn’t be in the house, or chiding myself and getting upset because someone had made a mess.  I gave thanks for my mother – alzheimers or no.  I tried to pick up on every single negative thought and turn it into thanks instead of a stress factor.

I didn’t realise then that I was following words written by St Paul to the believers in Corinth:
“We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”  (2 Corinthians 10:5 – probably one of the most difficult letters he ever had to write.)

This is NOT an easy practice – it requires courage, concentration, much determination  and persistence, long term.  The brain loves wallowing in negativity and doesn’t like being disciplined – it will in fact try to make you feel like a fool for saying anything positive.  Yes, that happened to me, big time.

The answer is to just grit your teeth and say the positive, grateful stuff anyway, whether you believe in what you are saying or not – whether or not you feel like saying it, whether or not you feel like a fool.  Say it out loud, if possible.  The mental attitude will improve with practice, believe me.

I know for many people the idea of giving thanks does not go down well – they like to think that any good things they have are due solely to their own efforts.  That is a big mistake and is the root cause of dissatisfaction, limitations and unhappiness in life.

Believe me, gratitude is THE KEY to turning your life around, the key to improving your body chemistry and opening the door for more good things to flow in.   It is (as I found out later) completely scriptural, and I outline it here in the hope that this information will help someone else battling with problems and ingrained mental strongholds that seem completely overwhelming.

More next time

Patricia

http://damascusroad.news/

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Black Night of the Soul – 1

black-night-lionThis is an updated excerpt from my blog The Alzheimers Carer, written during and immediately after my 10 years stint as sole carer for my mother, whose life was taken over by alzheimers.

It follows on from comments I made in my last post about how readily the wrong kind of thoughts can overpower and dominate our minds.   Knowing what I know, this has still happened to me a second time.  The enemy is fully aware of our weaknesses – in my case a penchant for self-criticism – and he plays those to the max.

At the time of these events, I had no deep, personal relationship with the Lord, though I called myself a christian, and only a limited knowledge of the huge wealth of help and guidance to be found within the covers of the Bible, and in truly following Him.

About the year 2004, I could not see anything good left in life for me.  By way of background, I was a lawyer by profession and worked as a government lawyer and a law lecturer.  I was successful at my job, had my own home, and a comfortable income.  After my father’s early death (leukaemia), I was faced with the decision of staying put with a job, or moving home to the beloved family property in the country without one.  Never one to pass up a challenge, I chose the latter option.

This is not the place to go into details, but suffice to say for 17 years everything I touched to bring in an income had failed – largely for reasons outside my control.  I am reminded that after I got up here a number of people said to me, “Well, the saying is, ‘Come North and go broke.'”  As always, one hopes this kind of forecast isn’t true – but then, how did it get to be a forecast?   And so the seeds of doubt are sown.

The final failures were due to the growing restrictions imposed by my mom’s developing alzheimers condition.  Two promising attempts at setting up a real-life graphics and web design business fell under the wheels of THAT chariot.

It was like being thwarted at one turn after another. On top of that, my capital was gone, and my last attempt at business left me in debt.

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There I was, living on the benefit (for which I was grateful), with debts to meet, and completely tied to the house looking after my mom.  With almost 2/3 of our income derived from her – her own pension and a small army pension of my father’s –  I couldn’t see how in the long term I could afford to keep the beautiful place I had moved home to enjoy.  I felt I was staring down an endless black tunnel of my future – where had all the promise of my earlier years gone?  How was I going to survive if my mom died?

How was I going to survive if she didn’t?

The property was still in her name because I had put my capital into developing  businesses.  In this country and probably in yours too, government has now empowered itself to sieze the property of elderly people going into fulltime care, to offset the cost of keeping them.

At the very least if I put her into care, they would impose a caveat on the place and out of their ‘largesse’ allow me to live there until I died.  Isn’t that nice?   Especially after I had saved them so much in fees for elderly care over the years.  I can tell you – it would be the last straw.

I know without a shadow of a doubt that if I had owned this property then and had absolutely nothing to lose by putting my mom into care, I would not have done a single thing differently.  In fact if I did own the place she and my father worked so hard to develop, it would probably have been even harder for me to consider institutionalising her.  And there were ‘friends’ who, to salve their own consciences, advised me to do just that, every time I saw them.

My real worries lay in the future.  The completely, totally and always uncertain future.  I was haunted by those elderly permanent residents I saw in our hospital/rest home, laid out in special padded, reclining chairs and fed with spoons.

Many people around me didn’t know how I carried on as it was.   My fear was how I would carry on if looking after my mother came to that.

More next time.

Patricia

http://damascusroad.news/

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Wonderful Counselor

come-lionGoing ‘through the mill’ is something I’m familiar with.  I came to the Lord in October 2006  at a time of great trial.

I had come north to live on the family’s 10 acre property following my father’s death.  I loved the place too much to sell, and at the time it seemed like a great adventure.  Stepping into my father’s shoes, getting a half-finished house completed, establishing a dairy goat stud (my idea), were all challanges that I ran with.  As a career soldier, my father had great all-round abilities – fencing, planning, building, planting.   I took all that on, and though I had the major fencing done by a contractor,  I was soon using the fence strainers and skillsaw – all helped by my mom, just as she had helped my dad over the years..

But by 1997 it became clear that my mother’s mental condition was deteriorating, and before long she was diagnosed with alzheimers.  There followed 10 years of caring for her sole charge.

I would be lying if I didn’t say that these were trying years.  Gradually, my options in life foreclosed.  From a past career as a highly-paid lawyer in government,  I had become a ‘handmaiden’.  Much as I loved my mom, that did not go down well.  My various options for making an income foreclosed also, though I clung tenaciously to the artistic skills I’d nurtured from childhood, and they and the internet helped me keep my sanity.  There were times when I considered running away – but to what?  My assets were all tied up in the land.  And with a horse, 2 dogs and 4 cats?

I won’t go into the dramas, the worries and the uncertainties.  These are well documented in the blog The Alzheimers Carer, which I wrote at the time.

My mom passed away in February 2007, and I was left with debt and a host of problems.  It was a blessing that I was ‘born again’ – above all else I had that lifeline.

Over the years I’ve been helped mightily by the Lord.  But right now I am in strife, following a decision in September 2014 that it’s time to move from here.  A huge step.

Something that Separates Us from God

Since then, I feel like every problem in the book has been thrown at me, from health issues to dramas around getting the place in order for sale. It has been a nightmare.

Why?

Without actually realising it, I have allowed myself to come under ongoing stress – in other words, attack.   Attack centered on my own feelings of guilt that I hadn’t maintained the property up to scratch during my mom’s illness – as if that were possible when she wouldn’t let me out of her sight.

The accuser has stood alongside, ceaselessly pointing the finger and finding fault.  Though intellectually I know better, I have let him do it.  He is already defeated, and I have been giving him power.  How foolish is that?

And though I ask the Lord for guidance daily, I know I have never really ‘let go’ on this particular issue.  And we absolutely have to do that:

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“Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and you shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)

Knowing that and actually doing it, are two very different things.   If we do not let go, He cannot help us.  And that is where I am at.

Lack of faith of this type is actually a sin (by definition, something that separates us from God).

I’ve just enrolled for notifications about a Video Course called “Wonderful Counselor”, starting on 17 October.    Though the course can be bought, there is a brief opportunity to watch the video series free at this time, which is what I am going to do.  I’m passing this information on on for anyone who may feel need of it.

Note – I am not an affiliate of the Christian Leadership School – I have nothing to gain by recommending this.

Blessings
Patricia

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After The Tempest

after-iiconIt’s just over a fortnight since my roof got barrelled by a tree.  At the time, I looked at the damage and wondered if the place would ever be the same again.

The guttering, the fascia and the soffit were smashed, and three runs of roofing iron bashed out of shape.  One of my rafters was damaged, and the top of a sheet of gib board inside the main bedroom had been cracked.

As I said in the earlier Tempest post, the damage was a whole lot less than it could have been, and when I think of the 3 ranchsliders above, 2 large windows below, the deck, and the deck railing all unharmed, I was and still am so grateful.

I got in touch with a roofer who lives over the road, and he got in touch with a builder.  But before they came, I had the arborist back to deal with another tree behind the house that was potentially even more dangerous than the Banksia had been – one of 5 fancy conifers planted by my parents in the 70’s on the edge of a stand of cryptomerias.

Four of these conifers were already gone – one blown naturally and three others I got taken down about 9 months ago.  But THIS conifer was the big problem.  It was as tall as the cryptos, had all its weight on the outside – ie facing the house, and being in close proximity to the roof was definitely not going to be easy to deal with.

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It would be perfectly true to say the tree came down exactly where it was planned to fall.  But that bland statement overlooks the breath-stopping display of tree climbing and branch cutting that preceded the final felling. It was at this point, when I looked up from the back porch at the naked trunk of this tree, that I truly realised how dangerous it was.  (The bottom of the trunk in this photo is masked by fallen branches.)

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A cable had been run from the trunk, through a pulley attached to a tree on the opposite corner of the garden and down the side of the house to a vehicle that would exert a pull in the right direction.

A scarf was cut, wedges were placed, and with the final cut and co-ordinated pull from the cable, the tree went down as planned.  Thank you, AB Trees, for a magnificent job!

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Over the following days, the buider and roofer came and went, getting in supplies, stripping off the house debris, and rebuilding the damaged section of the roof.  The builder is coming back to do a small cladding job for me on the back of the house, and to take away the building rubbish. I am very pleased with the job they did.

Men will be coming to cut up the trees and take them away for firewood.  As usual, I’m not sure exactly when.  (Aaargh!)    Meantime the back and front gardens are like a bomb site – full of fall-out and ringed trunks.  And I’m supposed to be getting this place ready to put on the market!

Trust in the Lord…

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One of the great things about this whole episode is that it has put me in touch with some good tradesmen.   Well – “In all circumstances give thanks…”  (1 Thessalonians 5:18)

And at least when the wind blows I don’t have that worry anymore.

Patricia

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