Archives for September 2017

Sep 28
2017

Memories

Memories

Once upon a time, their was a little girl with golden curls wild on her head and jelly shoes on her feet (let’s say they were red).  She spent her childhood in the rural countryside of East Texas, down a red dirt road, with the sounds of a saw mill buzzing away through the country skies.

Her days were filled with fresh air, mud pies, and whatever games she could coerce her older sister into playing.  Typically, the day ended up with the sisters finding their way to the blackberry bush.  It stretched the span of the front yard, and felt enormous, as did the berries that dangled from every which angle through the tenacious thorns.  All her summer clothes were stained with purple, and her arms were covered in scratches.  But she didn’t care…..she had her jellies.

Behind the blackberry bush laid a modest garden full of veggies and fruit.  The smell of tomato leaves, blackberries, freshly snapped green beans, and honeysuckle will forever and ever bring her home.

That’s me! Age 5. I practically ooze the word BRAT

Surprise…..surprise!  That wild child was me.  My mother would kick my sister and I out of the house a lot throughout the summer back then.   We lived in a very small two bedroom home, and my mom always had a sewing project she was working on.  I gather we must have been annoying/distracting in those close quarters.  Whatever the reasons may be, we found ourselves outdoors, Kool-Aid in hand, finding something to do.  My memories are so sweetly filled with my mom and dad’s garden.  While modest in size, it provided food on our table, and memories for a life time.

 

My sister and I obviously being chic. The red shoes go way back y’all.

 

The Wizard has similar memories, but on a much larger scale.  Growing up on a farm there was always something being planted, harvested, or worked on.  His father was the farmer, and an inventor in his own right.  He always had a project, was growing something, and could fix anything.  (Hmmm…….sounds familiar.  I guess there IS a wizard gene!!)

Just proof that the Wizard was a brat too! We are a match made in Heaven!

 

LOSS

The common thread of having fond memories of the garden and growing things in the earth has been an important part of our lives lately here at the homestead.  Both the Wizard and I lost our fathers this past year.  Although the grief runs deep, we have found such peace and comfort by returning to our roots out in the dirt.

As anyone who has ever lost a loved one knows, the grief can sometimes be so overwhelming.  Manifesting itself as anger that our loved ones are gone, and in the next minute it leaves us weeping uncontrollably.  I can attest that getting out in the dirt has been vital to me accepting my new circumstances of life without my dad.  I was able to grab my hoe and kill as many weeds as I wanted.  Viciously may I add.  However, in the next minute I could hit the ground and cry it out, without anyone seeing me other than the Lollipop Guild.  I blamed a lot of tears and a few choice words from my grief on the sand burs out here.  Sorry Lollipop Guild, this mommy isn’t perfect.  Oh….the memories they will have.

HEALING

The talks I have had with God while in the garden have been good too.  He constantly reminds me to lean into Him.  That He can take all my anger, pain, and grief.  To hand it over to Him because He knows.  I am a selfish toad at heart, and have a hard time when God’s plan and mine don’t align.  Despite that, God has allowed the death of my dad to really deepen my faith.

God has shown Himself to me in so many ways, and usually when I’m outdoors.  Watching the life cycle of all those plants, and how disease can ravage a crop in no time.  How the pests sometimes come in and totally kill your lovely pumpkin plants…..(but who’s bitter?).  However, knowing new seeds can be planted, and that the sun will rise tomorrow gives me hope.  God’s hand can be seen everywhere.  From the amazing miracle we call “watermelon” to the sweet song of a cardinal.  Being in the garden can help bring life back into perspective.  Nature is all a lovely miracle to soak in, and to be thankful for.  My dad taught me that one!

Just after this picture my dad handed me over to the Wizard. It was one of two times in my life I saw my dad have tears.  Although,  it might have been tears of joy to get rid of me.

The memories I have of my dad constantly fill my head and heart.  To sum him up in a few words would be the following:  Try your best and never give up, always thank the good Lord for everything you have, and family matters.

These values have been driven into me my entire life through words and actions.  The Wizard, coming from a similar background, knows all too well the meaning of hard work.  The man has held jobs since he could drive a tractor at age 7!!!  Don’t get me started on that one.  I pray we can install the same work ethic into our children, minus the prepubescent tractor driving.  Initially, that is in fact, the entire reason we wanted to start a Christmas tree farm.  To give the kids a job, let them see what it is to earn what you want in life, and all the while learning what you need.

 

THANKFULNESS

I am thankful for our fathers, and the time we had on this earth with them.  Two men who pushed for the best, and knew where to send their thanks.  They have given us memories to last a life time.  Hopefully heaven has tomatoes, honeysuckle, and even some work to do.  I firmly believe God will give me janitorial duties one day, but I’m cool with that.  You can find me sweeping that yellow brick road for eternity, and maybe my old man will even help me out.

 

In memory

 

Paul D. Gray, Jr. (my dad)

 

Jerry Garland Evatt (Pa Wizard)

 

 

 

” I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.”  2 Timothy 4:7

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sep 8
2017

Resourceful Friends

 

 

Do you ever feel lost?  Not knowing where to turn when you need some answers?

Yes, Jesus would be a correct answer.  However, I’m talking about in the garden, out in the field, your flower bed, or even the chicken coop.  Having resourceful friends to help you along the way will make life so much easier for the homesteader.  In fact, it has been so helpful to us, that it has inspired a song.

Get ready.

My version of Mr. Garth’s greatest hit.

 

 

 

 

 

ahemmm……..

I blame it all on dry roots.  I showed up in red boots.  And ruined my perfectly quaffed hair.

The last one to know, to turn or where to go.  I was the most unlikely homesteader to share.

And I saw the surprise.  The fear in my own eyes. When I lost my first garden to lack of rain.

I roasted a few.  Said I might be through.  But that’s the last I’ve complained (lie).

‘Cause I’ve got friends that help grow my places.

Where the information drowns, and the cheers chase my blues away.

And I think, I’ll be okay.

I’m not big on social places.  Think I’ll slip on down to my garden oasis.

Oh, I’ve got friends that help grow my spaces!!!

 

OK.  I got that out of my system.  I hope that got any questions out of your system as well.

  1. Yes, I am a dork
  2. I have some amazing friends I would like to introduce to you!!

They are my Resourceful Friends!!

 

Resourceful Friends: You know, the kind that may not even be aware they ARE your friend.  However, you think they were sent from Heaven.  You hang on their every word.  They ooze information with grace and dignity.

You know the type!

 

 

Here are a few of my Resourceful Friends.  They hold a special place in my tin heart.  I don’t mind sharing my friends, so please friend away!!

 

 

Oklahoma Department of Agriculture   http://www.oda.state.ok.us/

That’s right.  The Oklahoma Department of Agriculture (ODA) is an awesome resourceful friend, just ready to give-give-give all you’re willing to take.  I am fairly certain all fifty states have a similar program as well.  ODA has links to agritourism information, which we definitely appreciate since we grow Christmas trees.  http://oklahomaagritourism.com

They clearly display agricultural laws.  Examples: Can I sell my chicken eggs?  Restrictions on having a bee hive in your backyard, chickens in city limits, etc..

ODA gives you information on grants = free money!!  They have an awesome grant called the Agricultural Enhancement and Diversification Program, that is just waiting for anyone in this dusty place to call their own!! We are currently working on that diversification aspect.  Long term goals.  As in, ODA and I will be together for the long haul.

This resourceful friend even has the link to the forestry department which is where you can purchase tree seedlings for VERY cheap that are native to your area.  We order from them on a yearly basis, and the quality and services are excellent.  http://www.forestry.ok.gov/

ODA…….I love you.  Yea, they didn’t hear me. Moving on.

 

Autry Technology Center…..also known as, the VO-TECH.  https://autrytech.edu/small-business-entrepreneurship/

Coolest resourceful friends ever!  Our local vocational school/vo-tech, Autry Tech, has some amazing information my friends!  (Didn’t you know that you’re my friend too??  lol) For starters, we are starting a Christmas tree farm.  Which means we will be dealing with customers, money, and taxes.  Insert longest SIGH imaginable……for the taxes of course!!!  Well, my friends down at Autry Tech offer regular free tax workshops for small businesses!  It might scare the flying monkeys out of you, but I would personally rather be aware of what I’m jumping into.

Autry Tech also has a small business and entrepreneurship division, which has some amazing people that you can meet with for FREE.  They are so helpful in helping navigate the murky waters of owning a business.

“Should you be an LLC?”  “How do I write a business plan?”  “Any grants available?”

 They even have a contest they hold every year where you can enter your small start up business for a $10,000 grand prize, AND access to their amazing business facilities.  Tis true!

They are some great resourceful friends and cheerleaders to help you along the way.

Autry small business and entrepreneurship division…..I love you.

 

Business Boutique book by Christy Wright.  https://www.businessboutique.com

This GEM is my resourceful friend that comes with me everywhere.  Transferred from the diaper bag, to the purse, and to the couch on a daily basis.  I have read it once, and have started over again.  I loved it that much.  The first time was just to absorb content.  Round two is to put methods into action.

Christy Wright has been able to pull off writing a book that truly helps you put your dreams of owning a business into a believable and attainable reality.  Laying out a tiered method that once implemented should get you on your way.  It answers questions, has some awesome advice, and did I mention it’s funny?  It is an easy read that I personally did not want to put down.  If you have ever thought about opening a business, in whatever aspect imaginable, please get this book.  (I am not paid to say that either.)

The Wizard actually bought me this book since it is geared towards woman owned businesses, and I couldn’t be more thankful for it.

I love you Wizard, and I love the Business Boutique!

 

Garfield County Cooperative Extension Office.  http://oces.okstate.edu/garfield

Upon first meeting, you might hear the lights in their office buzzing louder than your screaming child.  However, once you get past first impressions, you will find this place to be a treasure trove.  It is the Wizard’s favorite resourceful friend by far.  Information just doesn’t stop coming from these people.  Our local cooperative extension office is affiliated with Oklahoma State, which is a mecca for all things ag.  So of course, their access to ag related information is almost unheard of.  Oklahoma State is where the Wizard went to college after all, so maybe that explains how we got to be so wizardy.  hmmmm…….deep thoughts.

How can they help you?

Have questions on your garden?  The master gardeners are just a phone call away.

Need a soil and/or water test before you plant your garden?  They will walk you through it, and provide the results.

Diseased trees?  What the heck is that bug?  How do I compost?

It is through this, that the Wizard and I found a lot of resources and information about the Christmas tree industry before we jumped in.  I appreciate this group a lot.  I am certain there are other branches of extension offices throughout our fair land.  So be sure to look up your nearest one!  Super helpful.

OSU Extension office…….the Wizard loves you!

 

And last on my list for today ( I could go on and on and on ……inherited that gene from my mother….love you mom)

Craigslist.  http://www.searchcraigslist.org/

The type of resourceful friend that has connections.  As you may know, it was through the above link that I found half of the items for the construction of our “new” old farmhouse.  It is through Craigslist that I have found chickens, cats, my dog (German Shepherd= smarter than me), and other various homestead needs…..wants….whatever.

Craigslist……I like you a lot.  You can be sleezy.  You’ve burned me a few times, but you’re alright…. I guess.

 

I hope you find some of the above links helpful, and hopefully they will at least steer you in the right direction.  Resourceful friends when starting a homestead are almost as important as a sense of humor.  Inevitably you will mess up, just as we have, and will need someone to drag you through the trenches.  These are your people.  And don’t forget, we’re friends too ya know.

 

 

 

Walk with the wise and become wise, for a companion of fools suffers harm.  Proverbs 13:20