The Big Event

motherandchild So, the first big event, after moving in, was the home birth of our grandson, Solomon.  His imminent arrival was the driving force behind our moving in when we did, even though the builder wasn’t exactly finished with everything.  Solomon was due to arrive on Valentine’s Day Weekend, but he didn’t.  That was the weekend after we moved in.

The next weekend was the Mother Earth News Fair in Belton, Texas, and event that we’d been waiting for much longer than we’d been waiting for Solomon.  Nathan, my son, and his wife Grace were supposed to go with us (with the newly arrived baby).  Of course, he hadn’t, so they didn’t.  But we did and we kept our phones handy, ready to bold back home at a moment’s notice.  It didn’t happen.  Solomon wasn’t going to come until he was good and ready.

Now you may be asking, why a home birth?  And why at our house?  While I can’t answer all the reasons a couple may choose home birth versus a hospital birth, I can comment that hospitals are a relatively new invention and modern medicine here in the West, has followed the trend so many of our institutions have followed, the industrial model.  Having been through the births of our two sons, I can attest to the impersonal experience that is.  A home birth gives expecting parents control over how they want to go about experiencing this life-changing event and allows them to set the stage for a warm welcome to their newest family member.

My wife has wanted to be involved with a home birth after the less than pleasant experience we had with Nathan’s birth, which was no fault of his.  It wasn’t meant to be.  We’ve had no more children since then and are unlikely to now.  So she’s waited for the opportunity to present itself with people we know. As pastors of a small church for over eleven years, there have been a few opportunities, but none of them ever worked out.  But this one was our grandchild—it had to work out!  Nathan and Grace live way out in the country, too far for comfort if anything were to go wrong and a trip to the hospital was in order.  At the midwife’s urging, they needed to find some place closer to the hospital.  That was our cue!

On February 24, at about 5;15 PM, Solomon entered this world in our back bedroom, after many arduous hours of labor.  Mother and child are healthy and well, and everyone, including the father and grandparents (and everyone else, for that matter) are happy as can be about it, too!

What a way to bless our home!  We pray that it is just the beginning of wonderfulness here at Hough Hollow!

How about you?  Have you had any life-changing events lately?  Share here.

Are You Going to Mother Earth News Fair?

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Yes, it finally happened.  After many decades of enviously watching other states getting to enjoy this even, Mother Earth News finally brought the Mother Earth News Fair to Texas.  It was held in Belton, Texas, a good 2+ hours from our home in Huntsville, but well worth the trip.  To be gathered together with so many like-minded people, to hear so much great information and to browse through so many products and services designed for the very things we are attempting, it was intoxicating!

The highlights for us was first of all, the chicken processing demonstration on Sunday morning with David Schafer, of Featherman Equipment and Joel Salatin, of Polyface Farm.  While we will never spend the money for the set-up they had there, what was most refreshing was their approach to the process, philosophically and spiritually.  Here’s a clip of the event:

Another person I enjoyed meeting and learning from was the former roller-derby queen, Jessi Bloom, of Northwest Bloom Ecological Landscapes.  Her homestead hacks and introduction to small-scale permaculture was informative and entertaining.

We also enjoyed the Ploughshare Institute’s presentations.  They are offering opportunities to learn the skills of yesterday: weaving, wood working, pottery and more.  We’re making plans to attend their Homestead Fair on the weekend after Thanksgiving.  What a refreshing alternative to Black Friday!

Thank you, Mother Earth News for finally bringing this event to the great state of Texas.  Come back again next year and you can be sure we’ll be there, with many of our friends!

How about you?  Have you ever been to the Mother Earth News Fair?  What did you think about it?  Share your opinion with us.

Moving Day

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Reading over the last entry, I realized we left you hanging with the promise that in two weeks we would be moving in.  After many false promises and dashed hopes, we, in fact, did move in on the first weekend of February (actually on the first Friday of February).  As I am writing this, it is now March 11 and we’ve been in the house for a little over a month.

One  highlight of the move would be many friends showing up unexpectedly and helping us to move everything we own in less than three hours.  We could not have done it without them!

Two houses ago, we lived in a 2800 square foot home in the Avenues of Huntsville.  The house had five bedrooms and six walk in closets, as well as another 500 square feet of garage and screened in porch.  We downsized when our two boys moved out, settling in a 1744 square foot home in Elkins Lake, a place I never thought I’d live.  Three lakes, three 18-hole golf courses, a country club and a hefty HOA fee (as well as the occasional Nazi neighbor minding our business, as well as their own).  Our escape plan has been to move into the country into a 1240 square foot home.  To manage this, we shed the formal dining room and the third bedroom.  We gave away a lot of furniture and had a successful garage sale.  Everything we owned fit into two places: a 10 x 10 foot storage room and a 10 x 16 foot storage building that doubled as a shop for our tools.  This building held mostly the things from our garage and attic.  The new house has no attic and very little storage.  Keeping it simple has been forced on us by design.

The next few articles will continue to update you on our progress.  We’ll share our newest projects.  We’ll try to avoid whining about things we can’t change.  Keep it positive, right?

How about you?  Have you made a life decision to move from a too-much-stuff, consumeristic lifestyle to a more simple life?  Share your story.  We’d love to hear from you!

The House That We Someone Else Built

Three years ago, my wife and I purchased 10 acres from my brother.  It sits right next door to his house.  We’d been looking for property in the country for quite some time and had even looked at this bit of property.  Initially we didn’t like it.  There’s an easement for electric and gas through the back and the woods had been decimated by the recent drought here in Texas.  However, when my brother had a cancer scare and his wife asked us to reconsider the property, we thought, “Give to those who ask.”  We made the purchase.

After that decision, it was as though blinders had been lifted from our eyes, or perhaps the opposite, rose-colored glasses had been placed over our eyes.  All at once we began to see the property with a fresh view and we fell in love with it.

Two years ago, we began the process of building a house.  Our initial plan was to build a cabin for two and sell our suburban home.  Then we would build our dream home ourselves as we were able from the crowded comfort of our tiny house.  That was the plan.

Now, two years later, we are two weeks out from seeing the completion of our new home.  It’s only 1400 square feet, so it’s not huge.  But there never was a tiny house.  We sold our brick house in one of Huntsville’s premier neighborhood and have been living in my brother’s spare bedroom for the last six months.  None of this has gone the way we’d planned.

Just today we talked with our banker and got the good news of where we’d land financially on a 15 year note.  We’re at 80% of the house’s value and we won’t have any PMI.  But we will have a note and that was never part of the plan.

What we’ve learned from this is that we’re not really in control.  But that despite all the setbacks, we’ve enjoyed the amazing hospitality of my brother and his bride.  We’ve gotten to know one another again after many decades apart.  Even though he and his wife settled here when he retired from the Navy, my life as a pastor has left me with not much time to spend just hanging out.  It has been a real blessing and would not have happened any other way.

In two weeks (fingers crossed) we’ll be trading in the back bedroom for a house of our own design.  It will be both sad and sweet at the same time.  We’ve learned patience (though not very graciously).  And we’ve learned to receive from others.  I guess you could say we’ve learned to walk more humbly.  All in all, the wait has been worthwhile.

How about you?  Have you ever walked through something that on the surface seemed difficult, but in the end proved to be very valuable?  Tell your story in the comments.  I’d love to hear.

Zero to Hero: Day 1

Okay, so it’s a gimmick, but when you find yourself where I find myself today, even a gimmick looks like a lifeline.  I’m 54 years old.  I’ve dreamed about and talked about being a writer since probably 1st Grade.  I’ve even written some.  But one thing I know and that is that writers write and good writers write a lot.  The thing most missing in the equation that includes me and being a published author is discipline.  So this year, as with many a year before, I resolve to begin and complete a novel.  This time, however, I’m not alone.  I’ve learned over the years how much we need each other and that very few persons, if anyone at all, has ever made something of themselves without the aid of others.  So, with all pride laid aside, I openly confess, I need all the help I can get.  Thus, Zero to Hero: 30 Days to a Better Blog, something new put out by WordPress.com.  With daily tips and exercises aimed at helping folks successfully launch a blog.  Why a blog?  Well, in a word…community.  Writing in a vacuum, in the privacy of my office, or alone in my home, does not give me the encouragement to keep on keeping on.  But with at least the potential of an audience, there’s just enough to keep me keeping on.

Another helper will be Claire Diaz-Ortiz.  Following her advice, I will be setting concrete, measurable goals that will keep me accountable and productive.  I’m not prepared to post my personal challenge for 2014, but I commit to having it posted by the end of this 30 day bloggin project.  I commit now to successfully completing the Zero to Hero project by the end of January at which time I will begin my novel writing in earnest.  Consider this the priming of the pump.

What do you get out of this?  I hope my own struggles  and hopefully, my successes will encourage you in your own battle.  What is your goal and what steps will you take to accomplish it?  Feel free to share your story in the comments and good luck in your endeavors.  I’ll see you tomorrow!

~Happy Writing