Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Exciting News!

Hello everyone. I have got a couple of exciting things to tell you about today. Fist off, I bought myself a truck! It is a 1991 Ford F-150. A man from our church knew a guy who was selling it for a good deal, so I bought it. There were a few things that needed to be fixed, but our friend is a mechanic, and he did the work for me. It is wonderful to have good friends! I think it will be a good truck. There are not a lot of bells and whistles, but that means there is less to go wrong. I got it inspected, and now everything is good to go! Now I can go do the things I need to do without using one of our family's vehicles. Here is a picture of it:


The other news I have, is that I got accepted to come on as a full season (year long) intern at J&L Green Farm! I went up there for a couple of days in July, and they accepted me. I am really excited about it, as I learned a lot and had an amazing time, in just the 2 days I was there. They have a really neat farm where they raise beef cattle, sheep (for meat), broilers, laying hens, pigs, turkeys, and ducks (for eggs). They farm about 900 acres of leased land in Shenadoah County. They have a couple of farm locations about 15 minuites apart. The view up there is amazing, and I look forward to going back. To find out more about their farm check out their website. Now I just need to finish out the farming season here, and sell off the rest of my animals and all. I think it will be a great experience. I think it will be neat to work on a farm that is in full pruduction like they are, and be able to learn how they do things. I also think it will be great to work with other folks who have an interest in agriculture. They had 5 interns while I was there from all over the US including Colorado, Maryland, South Carolina, and Mississippi, so I am sure I am sure I will be able to meet some neat people while I am there as well. Jordan and Laura Green are real nice Christian folks who were raised in homeschool families, so I think we will get along well. I look forward to keeping you up to date (as I have the time) with what I am up to up there. I start November 1st, so I have a little while yet before I start.

Well that is all for today!

Thanks for reading!

- Graham

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

"Hi I'm Pro-Life and I'm Here to Kill You"

I want to write about something today that is a real close subject to my heart. It is something, that is for some reason rarely talked about in conservative circles, and among those who are Pro-Life. I often wonder at how we as Pro-Lifers can go around holding up signs for the sanctity of life, but then turn around and support the unjust wars of today. I hear of stories such as these, and hear them talk of what goes on, and I realize that we are not fighting a moral war. Certainly 911 was a terrible thing, and disbanding Al-Qaeda is just, but killing and harming innocent civilians is not just, and we need to deal with this. We, in response to 911, sent troops and bombs over seas in order to disband Al-Qaeda. In the process we kill innocent children and civilians and we don't even flinch. Instead we pat ourselves on the back as we stand in front of the American flag pledging ourselves to the idol of the state and pride ourselves on how much we love liberty and justice. Then we hop in our cars and go to the local Abortion mill and hold up signs talking of how we stand up for the sanctity of life while eating our GMO filled food (more on the implications of that another time), while our men and women are being killed over seas, and the innocent men, women, and children of the foreign countries are being punished for crimes they did not commit. How dare we as Christians stand here and call ourselves Pro-Life when we support all of this.

Let me stop here and say that I am thankful for those who are willing to die for their country. If you are/were a soldier, or have a family member that is/was, I am grateful for your willingness to sacrifice everything for us. That is a very honorable, courageous, and  respectable thing to do, and I am greatful for it. However, I want us to understand that good motives, and good intentions, do not make things right. Remember Uzzah, who out of a desire to keep the ark of the covenant from falling into the mud reached out to steady it? Do you remember what happened to him? God killed him because he did what God had commanded him not to do. Uzzah had good intentions, but God struck him dead because of what he did. So just because I honor those who are willing to sacrifice themselves for our country, I do not honor what they are doing. 

Look, I don't know all of the details of foreign affairs. I don't know about all of the details of 911. I am just a simple human being who believes the Bible, and I believe that God is the author of all life whether it is an unborn baby, an average Joe, a Muslim family in Iraq, a sheep, or a corn seed, and when we go around killing innocent people, it crushes my heart. Just try to put yourselves in the shoes of those people who are affected by our involvement in their country. How would you feel? I know many people died in 911. I think that is terrible. Justice should be served. But is killing innocent people who had nothing to do with it justice? Is killing off thousands of our soldiers justice? These people are not collateral damage they are human beings with a soul. As Christians, the last thing we want to be guilty of is killing a lost soul. Do you really want to be responsible for sending a lost soul directly to Hell by having them killed? I just don't understand how we can parade around calling ourselves Pro-Life when we support this kind of injustice around the world. I am not totally opposed to war, but I think we need to deeply reconsider the effects, implications, and consequences of it, and not look at it so lightly. Next time you consider who to vote for as president, don't look solely at whether or not he opposes abortion, though that is definitely something to look at, but also look at his stance on war (and many other things of course). Let us pray to God that He will deliver our country from this terrible sin of murder, and that more of us would be Pro-Life in all ways, not just when it comes to abortion.

- Graham

PS: I know this is probably controversial to some of you, so I would love to hear your comments. 

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Big Changes

Hello everyone! Goodness, I haven't posted in some time! But, I am back today! I have had a lot going on recently. For one, back in June, I graduated from homeschool high school! It is neat to be done with formal schooling, and be able to move on to a new stage of life. I had a pretty nice graduation. My grandparents came up for the week from Oregon, and I had other family and friends as well. All together it was around 50 people. Our friends the Alexanders even brought their newly arrived farm intern who came to America from Switzerland/Germany. We had a great time. After dinner we had homemade icecream from the Alexanders' dairy farm, and then we pulled out our instruments and had a bit of a jam session. It was nice to see everyone, and feel the support from them.

Also, I turned 18 on July 5th, so that is another big step. Now I can actually have my own bank account and take money out of it without a custodian present! I also get to sign up for "wonderful" things like selective service. 18 brings on some of the good and bad of life.

There are some other things in the works in my future, that I would appreciate prayer on. I have recently come to the conclusion that I have taken my farming business as far as I can with the resources, and experience that I have, and believe that I need some more experience. I have decided to apply for an apprenticship on a farm, so I can learn more about farming. This means I will have to sell the animals I am raising here on the farm, so that I can be away from the farm. This has been a tough decision, but I feel like it is the right thing to do in this season of my life. There are so many things I have yet to learn about farming, and I need more experience if I want to make it work. I could certainly learn a lot from doing it here on the farm, but that could take a lot of time and money, and I think that some first hand experience on an up and running farm would be extrememly valuable.  As of right now I have applied for a year long apprenticeship at J&L Green Farm up in Edinburg. I have not been accepted yet, but I am going up for a two day check out in the next couple of weeks so we can see if it will work. I have a good feeling about it, and my mom does too. She usually has pretty good intuition, so we will see how it works out! Your prayers would be appreciated!

Since it is likely I will be leaving the farm this fall, I have been working on trying to sell things. The broilers are simple, as you can simply stop ordering any, and butcher the ones that are left. The laying hens have not been very profitable for me, so I think I will just hand them over to my parents and let them do what they wish with them. They will probably cut them back to enough for the family. The sheep are a trickier issue. Hopefully the lambs will be grown out and sold by the time I would start, but the ewes are different. We have been dealing with a bit of a drought as well, and that makes it hard to profit with the sheep. So I made the descision to go ahead and sell the ewes. I was going to wait untill I knew for sure about the apprenticeship, but if this one doesn't work out I will be trying to find somewhere else, so I will probably be going somewhere. Since I am going to start having to feed some hay, I figured I might as well sell the ewes now, before I start putting more money into them. If nothing works out I could always buy some new ewes. I have been overstocked anyway, and haven't been overly pleased with the sheep breed I have, so those are some more reasons to sell them. So I put an ad on Craigslist, and had somebody contact me that evening. He came and looked at them Sunday, and bought them all. I sold all 17 ewes and the ram. I wanted $100 apiece for them, but since he was willing to take them all, and the sheep are smaller, and in poorer condition, and some were a little older, I figured I could go down, so I got $1,400 for all of them. I was willing to negotiote some anyway, and $80 was about where I was willing to go, so $78 apiece wasn't bad. Plus, he came and bought them all, which I think is better since the flock was able to stay together. I didn't sell the lambs, because I can get more for them if I grow them out and sell them for lamb. Hopefully they will be ready in time.

We had a time trying to get them loaded up, but it all worked out. I was a little sorry to see them go. Not so much because I was attatched to them, as it was like selling away my business. But I know that I am not selling for good, just for the time, and that I have to do what I have to do.

I recently bought some Katahdin sheep. These are a "hair sheep". Hair sheep grow a furry fleece that naturally sheds off, so you don't have to shear them. The hair is of no value, but neither is wool most of the time in our country, and you don't have the expense of shearing. I actually enjoy shearing sheep, but I figure I could shear someone else's sheep and get paid for it instead of shearing mine for practically valueless wool. I decided to keep these because I think they may be a better sheep over all. My parents said they could tend to them while I am gone as there is only a ewe with 2 lambs, and a ewe lamb born in February. This will help keep some of the grass grazed where the nieghbor can't cut hay.

So, it looks like a lot of changes are coming my way, but I look forward to what the future may hold. I trust that God is in control and will guide me on the path I should take. Your prayers would be appreciated.

Thanks for reading!

- Graham

PS: Be sure to check out my video below of me playing some banjo tunes.

Banjo Tunes

Hello. Here is a recording of me playing some tunes on the banjo. The first three are in the three finger Scruggs style. The first is "Foggy Mt. Breakdown". The second is "Cripple Creek", and third "Ballad of Jed Clampett". All three of these have guitar accompaniment. The last three are in an old banjo style called "Clawhammer". The first one is "Pretty Polly", which utilizes a special tuning called "G modal". The next is "Boil Them Cabbage Down". And then the last one is "Cripple Creek" again, this time in the "Clawhammer" style. I am not very good at the latter style yet, but I thought you might enjoy it. Here is the video. Enjoy!

video


- Graham

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Happy Mothers' Day!

I wanted to wish my mother a happy Mothers' day because she is the best mom in the world! Not only does she do all the wonderful things that mothers do (like cook the best food ever), but she helps me tremendously with my business. She is great with inventorying chickens, putting product onto LuLu's, and helping process, package, and label the products. I don't know what I would do with out her! I hope she has a wonderful Mothers' Day along with all of the other moms out there.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Hello everyone. I have so much to say, I don't know where to start!

Lambing season is well under way. I have had 22 lambs born, and only lost 2 lambs, so I have a total of 20. All but two ewes have had their lambs, so I am almost done. The Lord has certainly blessed me with a wonderful abundant crop of lambs this year.

I have had some nice opportunities to play music recently. On the 30th of March, I played at a church in Powhatan for a Relay for Life fundraiser. I also accompanied Mary singing a song. The lady who was in charge of the program does a lot of things in Powhatan, and my Grandpa has performed at many of her events. I guess he bragged on us, and so she invited us to perform along with my grandfather and several others. The night before, I had the great honor of being able to play a couple of songs with a wonderful band by the name of Willow Branch. They have played at a lot of different places, and have even opened for bands like Tony Rice. The banjo player grew up going to the church my dad pastors, and his dad still attends, so we have met then. They do a show at their church every year, and they invited me to get up and play a couple of songs with them. I went to their house before hand and we went over the songs a time or two. They are such a great band, that we did a song I wrote, that they had never heard, and played breaks to it and all, just like they had played it many times before. I did two with them. The first was "Hallelujah I'm Ready to Go", a rather popular bluegrass gospel tune. However, I messed up the lyrics and sang the second/last verse first, and the first verse second. I don't think anybody noticed though. I have found that the key to putting on a good performance is not not making any mistakes, but not letting anyone no that you made a mistake. Even if you do make one, people will laugh it off with you. You can see/hear a whole set by  Willow branch here. They did some of these songs the night I played with them, but they have a different guitar player now. Over all it was a great privilege to be able to do that, and it will certainly be one of the highlights of my life.

I came across these sermons by Voddie Baucham and another pastor on the subject of government in the Bible, looking at Romans 13. I have been pondering what all he said, and I agreed with most of it. Papa listened to them too, and we had some discussion on it, and here is the conclusion we came to. First off, one thing I agree with whole heartily, and think was well pointed out, is that we should not, in any situation, have a rebellious, riotous, or disrespectful attitude. Also, when we are called to do something (such as pay taxes), that the government commands, we should do so without grumbling and complaining. This can be hard (as I have learned this year when paying my taxes), but the Bible says to do all things without grumbling and complaining, so this does apply to things like taxes as well. The biggest thing I had trouble with was the subject of when it is right to rebel against authority. He mentioned that just as a child should submit to his parents authority, or a wife to her husband's, or a man to the church's, we should submit to the authority of the government, as we are submitting to God, who put the authority there, by proxy. Just as a wife should submit to her husband despite how much of a jerk he may be (to a certain extent of course), we should submit to the government despite how bad they may be. This made a lot of sense, but the biggest challenge is finding where the line is, on when we should resist the government's authority, and when we should not. This is the conclusion we came to. As Mr. Baucham stated in the sermons, there are various different ways we can respond to government authority. There is submission, appealing, defying, confronting, and fleeing. The challenge comes in trying to find out which one we do in which situation. Many people say that we should do what the government says, unless they are calling us to do or not do something that God forbids or commands. I am not exactly sure where Mr. Baucham stands on this, but I believe it is more complicated than just this. Different situations and different people, calls for different responses. I think there are other things out there worth fighting for other than just those thing which God has commanded. For example, have you been following the Cliven Bundy story? It is all over the Internet. He is a Rancher in Nevada who has refused to take his cattle of of public land that his family has been grazing since the 1870s. The laws have changed to where he is not supposed to graze them there anymore, so since the group of people he was paying to lease the land are regulating him out of business, he decided to stop paying them altogether. Federal agents have been staked out all over the ranch, preparing to round up his cattle and sell them. There has been  riots and all kinds of uproar from the population saying that the federal government coming into Nevada and seizing public land is unconstitutional, and unjust. It looks as though it has worked as the government has backed off and are going to let him continue to use the land. Mr. Bundy does not seem to be a riotous trouble maker, he is just a rancher (father of 14 with 48 grandchildren too by the way), who wants to let the public know about what is happening and wants to stand up for the constitution, and the liberty that our fore fathers died for. The Bible doesn't say that we are supposed to graze our cattle on public land, so many Christians, if they are consistent, would say that he should just submit to government authority, and take his cows off the land. This man is the last rancher in his county, and if he can not graze the public lands, he would be out of business. If he were to just submit to the authorities, then no one would know about this, and people would be just as blind to the government's abuse of power as before. I must confess I knew nothing of these things happening out west. Did you? I think that different situations call for different things. We live in a country where we have the opportunity to appeal to government. We can try to change laws that are in place, though it is very hard to do with the complex and corrupt system that we have. Sometimes doing this is the best option. Sometimes we are best to just obey the laws and submit. Just because we don't like the government, doesn't give us a good reason to drive over the speed limit on a road just to make a point. Sometimes we need to confront authority and tell them what they are doing wrong. At times, in order to make an impression, or simply to do what is right, we must defy the authority like Cliven Bundy. And sometimes, if there is somewhere better, the best thing to do is flee. I read a very good article comparing the story of the Bundy Ranch, with Naboth's vineyard. It is not real long, so I recommend reading it here.

Well, I think that is all I will say today.

Thanks for reading!

- Graham

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Stewardship

I have been thinking recently about the idea of stewardship, and the ramifications of it on my life. As a farmer, stewardship hits pretty close to home, as caring for the land is a large part of what I do. Sometimes I look at what I am doing on the farm, and feel like I am not doing enough, or that I am not successful, but as I have thought about it more, I have realized that I am not focusing on the right thing. I don't think God calls us to do more than what we can with what he has given us. Certainly, as we can see in the parable of the talents, God wants us to work hard and try to develop a greater abundance with what He has entrusted to us (knowing while we do so, that it is Him who gives the increase), but He doesn't ask us to do more than what He has provided for us. Notice in the parable that both the man given the 5 talents, and the man given the 2 talents, were rewarded even though they did not gain the same amount, since they both had the same increase. Often I look at how little money I am making on the farm, or how I have a long way to go to be able to make a living at it, and I feel like I am not successful. However, though it is wise to plan ahead and think about the future, I don't need to worry and fret over it, but instead need to focus on being a good steward of what I do have. There are plenty of things that I can improve on with the little bit of farm I do have, and if I am faithful with this, I can count on God to provide for my needs. He says not to worry about tomorrow, so I should trust Him to provide for me. But we need to realize that God is ultimately in control and may have other plans for our life, but whatever may happen to us, our job is to be a faithful servant to Him. God will do His part, so let us not worry about that, but instead, focus on giving our all to do what God has planned for us.