Posts Tagged ‘dog’


The bees are coming, and we’re ready for them.

We spent the weekend putting the finishing touches on the hives and creating some wind-breaks that won’t blow over in our sometimes 75-mph gusts.  We painted the hive a light yellow. The paint is necessary to seal the wood, but it has to be a light color. Dark colors will absorb summer heat, and that’s not good for the bees–they work very hard to keep the hive at a perfect 95 degrees.  Thus, a lighter color makes that job a little easier for the workers who spend their days regulating temperature in the hive.

We’ve added a top feeder, instead of a front-entry feeder (makes it harder for the nectar-substitute to be stolen by other insects/animals). We also added a queen excluder, so the queen won’t be able to get into the super that will have the honey frames (you don’t want eggs in your honey!).  The bees are set to arrive Friday, and we’re waiting with great anticipation.

Also, we’ve finally got a few answers about our poor Sugar, who is still not feeling very well:

Turns out she has a little protozoa infection. We’re going to get medicine for her in the next few days (unfortunately the vet who finally figured it out is 2 hours away in LA), and she will hopefully be as good as new in a week or so.

Finally, I’m immersed in one of the best and hardest classes of my life. I’m translating more Greek and thinking more critically than ever before. My professor is notorious for being an enormously hard grader–so I’m needing to constantly remind myself that I am there to learn, not get letters in a grade book.  But the class has re-awakened that seminary fire in me, and I’m grateful. It makes the commute a little more bearable!

Our seedlings should be in the ground in the next few days or so. I’ll keep you posted.


New Schedule

It’s been a little tough getting used to our new schedule, but hopefully everything will begin to fall into place. Last week was my first week back at school, but with the added 2 1/2 hour commute each way (well, 2 1/2 hours in the morning, 2 hours in the afternoon). I’m doing my best to juggle schoolwork and homestead responsibilities–so far, so good. I’m thankful that I love spending my time with both activities, which helps.

I’m only taking one class this quarter, which means I spend double the amount of time in the car to go to and from schodol than I actually do in class! But this class will be one of the best classes I’ve taken yet. It’s entitled “Exegetical Method and Practice” and is taught by one of the best in the field of New Testament, Dr. Joel Green. Basically, in this class take everything we learned in our year of studying Biblical (also called Koine) Greek and find out how to responsibly apply that knowledge when actually translating the Bible. This takes into account the cultural and historical aspects of Biblical texts, the dialogue of the contemporary culture with such a text, the ways in which to interpret a text based on a genre of a particular Biblical book, and so on. I’m proud to say that I just finished translating my first-ever entire book within the Bible: Paul’s letter to Philemon. Okay, okay, so it’s only 25 verses…still, I’m proud. And those 25 verses took over 5 hours to translate. It’s not as simple as translating from, say, French to English–there is deep nuance to the text, with the added challenge of the inability to talk to any of the original writers about their intent, their inferences, and their overall purpose. In any case, it will prove to be a very, very exciting class.

On the homestead, the weather up here keeps us on our toes. It was in the 70s last week, and this morning we had snow. The threat of frost until mid-May makes planning our garden very difficult. However, we do have a few things started indoors: eggplant, kale, lavendar, rosemary. Hopefully in the years to come we’ll get some UV lights to help us start our seedlings so we can time our planting perfectly. We also hope to finish off the greenhouse before next winter, which will also help extend our growing season. But for now, we work with what we have. My biggest concerns right now include having enough warm days to paint the garden fence so we can put in our last gopher barrier; getting the beehive ready for the arrival of our ladies on April 16th; getting a proper wind barrier for our beehive (and, in truth, our garden as well); figuring out our watering system; and finally, saving enough money to fence the property. I’d love to have chickens this summer, but if it’s not in the cards, then I’ll just have to be patient. We want to do this the right way.

On a final note, prayers for our little Sugar would be greatly appreciated. We’re going on over a month with a very strange gastro-intestinal problem that doesn’t seem to be abating. The vets are baffled, and I’m worried that it might progress to something worse if she doesn’t get some relief soon. 

That’s it from the cold, windy homestead for now.


We finally got the garden boxes finished. We dug the 6′ x 6′ holes, stapled gopher wire to the bottom of the boxes, and filled them back in with a combination of amended soil: 50% of our own soil (which tends toward clay soil), 25% green  manure, and 25% bumper crop compost. It was a lot of work, but now our garden plot is ready for the coming day when we can plant our seeds.  Now all of our boxes look like the box on the left side of the picture below:

The only real work left, other than actually planting the seeds (some of which we have started indoors already), is to lay down some gravel on the path and to paint the fence. Oh, I forgot: Sugar definitely helped too:

Unfortunately we probably won’t get much more work done this week. I’m starting my Spring Quarter tomorrow, so I’ll be commuting 2 hours each way to get to my classes. Then, on Wednesday, our 70 degree weather is supposed to turn around and change to snow. Yikes.

Knee Day

A couple of years ago St. Patrick’s Day ceased to be a day for green beer and pinching–at least in our family.  March 17, 2008 changed the course of events in our calendar, overwriting St. Patty for the evermore infamous “Knee Day.”

This was the day of my second ACL reconstruction. The final ACL reconstruction, my orthopedic surgeon emphasized. A day that would ensure that I wouldn’t have the recurring pain of bone-on-bone (I have no cartilage or meniscus in that knee, either) or the uncertainty of whether or not my knee would hold together during a fall. The knee reconstruction was also a reconstruction of my future.

Today I’m thinking a lot about my life just two years ago, on Knee Day. Our lives were so different. I hadn’t even started seminary yet; in fact, it was my recovery after the reconstruction that brought me back to theology and study. We didn’t have any intention of moving out of Los Angeles, and backyard chickens were for quirky people who baked their own bread and probably their own granola, too.  Tehachapi? Where was that? And I guarantee that a dog wasn’t anywhere near my husband’s radar.

Today, exactly two years later, I’ve changed the course of my career (or, rather, my vocation) and Rob has changed to a new job that we hope we’ll some day be able to work him out of. We own not only our own home, but the acre and a half that surrounds it. There isn’t the sound of planes or traffic in the morning; rather, there is the silence of a still sunrise…just before a chorus of birds sings its hymn to welcome the day.  I know how to demolish and reconstruct a bathroom. I know how to plant a garden. I’ve had to clean dirt out from under my nails more times that I can count. We’ve expanded our family to include our sweet dog Sugar, and on April 16th we’ll welcome a hive of bees. We’ve planted a cherry tree, an apple tree, an almond tree, asparagus, blueberries, boysenberries, and grapes (syrah, merlot, zinfandel, and chardonnay).  We have lavender seedlings started, and the seeds for our garden are simply waiting until the threat of frost passes soon. We have cows that frequent the hill behind our house. Neighbors always smile and wave when they drive by. We don’t have cable anymore. In fact, we haven’t even unpacked our television.

Life is very different.

The past week or so has been filled with grief, but today I want to focus on the joy. The gratitude of what we do have, rather than the pain of what we lost. I honor that pain, but I need to feel normal again. I need to remember that pain isn’t the sum of this story. It’s only a chapter. And it’s certainly not the final chapter.

Thank you, Knee Day, for reminding me that my life is continually undergoing reconstruction. The recovery can often be painful, but the fruit of the experience is sweet.

Stitches and Cones

Sometimes Sugar gets what we lovingly call “The Crazies.” When she gets The Crazies, she begins running full speed in whatever direction she is facing until she meets an obstacle (like the edge of our property). Then she’ll stop in a way that resembles a skier at the bottom of a hill, dirt flying everywhere, turn around, and start running in a new direction. A few people have independently commented to us that they think she might be part whippet, and to see her run, I wouldn’t doubt it. At full speed, I would guess that she’s running at least 25 miles an hour, maybe more. When she gets The Crazies, she is having more puppy-like fun than almost any other time. She loves it. But it doesn’t always leave her with the best judgment regarding her own safety.

So this last weekend during a bout of The Crazies, she got too close to something–we think the raspberry bushes are the culprit. I never knew raspberry bushes had such nasty thorns, but they do. But whether it was the raspberry bushes or something else, Sugar came in with a nasty gash on her hind leg (as well as a milder one on her front). It was pretty bad…I’ll spare you the gorier details, but needless to say I could see down to the muscle.  And our brave little pup patiently (and surely painfully) stood still while we poured iodine and bactine into it, never even letting out a whimper. It was obvious she was in pain, but I could also see that she trusted us to take care of her.

Despite our best efforts, it became clear she needed stitches. So she got a date with Dreamland and woke up to a stiched up leg and a brand new collar. The Elizabethan Collar bascially makes sure that she can’t lick the area, thus tearing out the stitches or introducing infection. She’s not happy about it.

The collar basically means that she can’t navigate in her usual way. She’s always bumping into things. She can’t sleep in her crate because she can’t move around the space with the collar on (and we can’t take it off at night because we can’t supervise her). It’s much harder to eat. She’s afraid to go to the bathroom with it on. Needless to say, it’s been the source of a lot of discomfort and fear for her. Sometimes I wish I could speak dog language, and then I could just explain how it’s for her own good, how it’s not a punishment, and how it’s not forever. But for now, I suppose, she just has to trust us even though we can’t explain.

I was thinking the other day about how similar this situation is to our own faith lives. How often do we go through periods of discomfort, of fear, of not understanding the purpose of things? How often do we just have to trust that God knows something we don’t? We all have Elizabethan collars in our own spiritual lives. We all have stitches that are healing, and God sometimes keeps us from licking our wounds for our own good.

Sugar would probably say that being in the collar is the hardest job. But as her “mom,” I have to say that watching her suffer and knowing that she doesn’t understand is pretty hard, too. I wonder if God experiences that? I think so–that God struggles with our struggle. That God’s compassion reaches out to us in those moments. And that God continues to assure us that there is a purpose for the discomfort, and that God will take care of us each step of the way.

The Hillside


The other day I was taking Sugar out to the backyard for a break from housework and a little fun throwing ball. As soon as we stepped out the back door, her ears perked up and her back arched. She stood at full attention, eyes fixed on the hillside. The air was still and cold, the clouds hung low, and the light was dimming in the early evening. I squinted, following her gaze, and then the hillside began to move.

There is a herd of cattle that comes down every so often into the area just beyond our back yard. This was the closest I had ever seen them–not twenty feet from where I was standing. And yet they blended so well into the hillside. They were hues of beige and light brown, but it was the calves that drew the most attention. They were snowy white and hopping around happily, completely unaware that potential predators had just walked out a back door just a few feet away.

Of course, the threat to them was, in reality, very low. I was in awe and my dog was a bit frightened by the large, slow moving beasts. But there was a beauty of that shared moment. Together we stood, Sugar and I, breathing in this piece of unhindered nature, of wildness, of countryside. I felt happier and more fulfilled watching a herd of wild cattle on a hillside than I ever did in the fast-paced life of the city.

After an eternal moment, the adult cattle noticed my presence and began to usher the younger ones back up the hillside. The blended back in to the landscape, perceptible only by flashes of moving color. Andthen,  just like that…they were gone. I breathed a word of thanks to them for our brief encounter, and then led Sugar out to the front of the property for a game of fetch.

It’s good to be home.

I Love Having a Dog

Sugar is settling in nicely, and we’re slowly beginning to understand how different it is to be responsible for a dog than it is to be responsible for a cat. Our dog is a lovely, happy, super-energetic little thing, but boy does she demand our attention! And so we’ve settled into a different pace of life once again. The morning and evening rituals have transitioned to incorporate long walks and training exercises. She has become my traveling companion around town, waiting patiently in the car while I run my errands (of course this will change when warmer weather comes). And then there’s the strange dilemma of her fear of our cats, especially Midnight, who has crowned himself King of the Castle and hisses at her whenever she’s near. This sends her straight into her “den” to comfort herself in the midst of this feline rejection, and leaves us shaking our heads at the cat who can control a pit bull with a simple raise of an eyebrow.

I’ve found that, despite it’s occasional inconveniences and definite demand of time, I love having a dog. I’m excited for the day when Sugar will get another doggie playmate or two. I look forward to the day when our training exercises are a little further along and we can really begin to have some fun (I even have some tasks around the homestead that I’m hoping to teach her to help me with).  But most of all, I have to admit that I love her undying affection. She truly wants to be near us and make us proud of her practically every minute of the day. And she’s come leaps and bounds from that night we brought her home weeks ago–so we continue to affirm how proud we are of her hard work. It’s not easy being shuffled from place to place, never knowing quite what is expected. But she’s home now. And we’re glad that she’s a part of it.