Dark Water Ranch

  (Ninnekah, Oklahoma)
On the Ranch

Under The Fence

Recently, we have done dramatic changes to the goat/sheep barn. The new design has alleys that have gates and goes to individual stalls and the milk room. Gates mean we can shut off areas that we don’t want anyone going into. However, there are a couple of small kids and one panel that is the wall for milk stall that is high and the little guys can scoot under. Needless to say, I am not so happy with this, and today I am correcting that issue. However, it has made me consider, just how many times do I displease God by making that quick turn to slide under his desires for me. God allows us the right to choose, “free will” you can call it. He does not force us to choose the right path, he doesn’t even force us to choose his son as our Lord and savior. The Bible gives us many scriptures that demonstrate to us our ability to choose. Just a few examples: "...Choose today whom you will serve" ...Joshua 24:15 "...So choose life in order that you may live."... Deuteronomy 30:19 "...Choose good"... Isaiah 7:15 "...You did evil in My sight and chose what displeases Me"... Isaiah 65:12 "...Choose knowledge rather than gold"... Proverbs 8:10 God is good, and he hasn’t given us alleys to travel down without options. But he does hope that we will choose wisely and follow the way he has shown us., the most important being to choose Christ “Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 14:6 A scripture in John helps me understand my own salvation as I watch and work with my flocks and herds each day. “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.” John 10:27-30 I am so very thankful that God has saved me by grace and yet allows me to choose. Thankful that he is also willing to forgive me when I repent if I have made a poor choice and found my way under that fence. However, I will be taking that choice of under the fence into the milk room away from the goat kids this afternoon!

The Egg Basket

We a have lot of laying hens and it is my job to gather the eggs everyday. I have a little wicker basket that I put the eggs in as I gather them. Now, some days I will get as many as 3 dozen- but other days, especially in this heat, I may be lucky to get just a dozen.

Now, taking the time to count the eggs in the basket has taught me a wise lesson. My life is a lot like this basket of eggs. You see, God gives me gifts every day of my life but it is up to me what I do with them.

Sometimes, I take the eggs to a little store and sell them there. Othertimes I keep some to cook with, still other days I just put them in the icebox and forget them. However, a few days later I might take these same eggs back out of the icebox and cook a real nice meal, or find someone in need and give them a dozen. No matter,  which way I choose I am doing something with the eggs that I have been provided.

However, if I was lazy and didn’t gather the eggs or I just plain ignored the fact that the nest had eggs in them, it wouldn’t take long to have a real mess. To many eggs in a nest and chickens tend to break them, snakes and other scavenger are attracted to full nests and then other bad things happen because of that. Or the worst thing in this heat that would happen is I would have exploded, rotten egg everywhere and that is just plain nasty!

The gifts that God gives us are a lot like my basket eggs if I use them and share them that is the best thing that I can do. But if I leave them untouched they serve no purpose and in my ignorance what once was a good thing is no longer that way.

Let’s hope each of uses our eggs wisely, choosing the best ways possible to  make something good from them.


Just Be Still

I am a shepherd of sorts, because I take care of a small herd of goats. These goats teach me a lot of things, usually things I’d rather not realize about myself. Jesus is my shepherd and often times I can compare things in my life to the relationship that I as shepherd have with these goats. Yesterday was no exception!

Goats always think that things have to taste better on the other side of the fence. After all, surely the things on the other side must be better than what they have so readily accessible on their own side of the fence. It is not uncommon for them to just about anything to get to what they think must be where they should not be. Well yesterday, when I was out in the pasture I heard a faint cry, and looking around I noticed that there was a young kid missing from amongst the herd. A little searching and I found her; she had stuck her head through the field's fence to grab a quick bite of something on the other side. However, her horns trapped her and would not let her slide her head back out of the gap with the same ease it went in.

It should have been easy for me to help her get her head back out of the fence. However, as I reached down to help she began to struggle and fight trying to free herself. This made the whole situation worse. It was about this time I could hear the scripture “ Be still, and know that I am God:” Psalm 46:10. I knew I needed to take a lesson from my little trapped friend. You see, I am not much different than that goat. In the midst of many problems in my life I cry out for God to come save me, yet when I am safely in his hand I still struggle. I can’t just let God do his thing - I have to try handle the situation.

Just like that goat I throw a bigger fit when I am much safer than I was before. I need to stay calm and let God deal with the problem. If the goat would just relax, she would be out of the fence and it would be over with. I need to learn this lesson also: not to fret, worry and ponder over how I am going take care of whatever my anxiety is. I must remember Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” Philippians 4:6

Finally the goat stopped struggling and I popped her head right out and she ran off to rejoin the herd. It was a matter of faith for her to stop and let me do the hard work; the hardest step of all is often the easiest. I must remember Jeremiah 32:27 "I am the Lord, the God of all mankind. Is anything too hard for me?"

 No, there is nothing that God cannot take care of for me. I must choose to be still.


DEFINiTELY NOT Watermelon Jelly Beans!

DEFINITELY NOT Watermelon Jelly Beans. There is a commercial out for a new Easter Movie, it features a little rabbit that poops out candy jelly beans. A lady eats one and says ohh watermelon.

I have to disagree. When you prefer to grow organic like we do, you know the truth. That truth is what I spent all afternoon shoveling at the rabbit barn and hauling to the cabbage bed was nothing close to a jelly bean.

 It sure didn't smell like watermelons either. Straw and hay that falls from the cages mix well with what those rabbits do drop, but it ain't jelly beans. Now, it don't smell like watermelons but it sure can help grow watermelons! This stuff is gold when it comes to growing things. A little sweat and effort mixes it all in with soil and then there is no better fertilizer.

I think however, I will avoid jelly beans for awhile, it is just the image!


Meeting of The Minds

I am sure this farm does not run like a well-oiled machine. Matter of fact there seems to be only one thing that every species of animal agrees on around here. Can you guess what that is? That is right F-O-O-D. It always has to be time for food. When is it coming, what are you bringing and it had better be good.

Come to think of it that sounds just like the rest of my family! Okay I am starting think conspiracy. I am destined to either have a bucket or pot in my hand. The universal language then has to be FEED ME!

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Pig Plow

We are saving some fuel,  hard work and time by having a couple of the medium size pigs plow up part of the garden area. Sounds good huh? Well, for the most part it works just fine, they do a good job on grass and weeds, including roots. They hate onion bulbs but love the tops, the draw back they don't like old okra stems anymore than me.

Today, I dcided to speed their work up a little by going in with them to pull out the old okra stems, had to be done with or without the pigs. We were working well together, I'd pull out the old stem and they would work the spot right with me. All of sudden I found myself alone, wondering where my help went I turned around to hear water noises and see the pigs playing submarine in the water tub.

It may only be March 1st, but the pork says it is already much to hot in Oklahoma. 


Goat In The Kitchen Sink

My day got started after breakfast, with a goat in the kitchen sink. We have snow right now, lots and lots of snow. Because we knew the bad weather was coming we made a large kidding area inside the big barn and locked all the girls inside.

Smart move because with the snow came kids. So how did one get in the kitchen sink you ask? He got an overdose of collostrum, which means lots of icky, sticky, yellow, poo! It stuck all over him and was rock hard, it has to come off or it can hurt him. Thus, thats how he ended up in the kitchen sink for a warm backside bath!  

Of course he did not approve one bit! But he is now clean, dry and ready to go back to mom. And of course the kitchen sink and surrounding area had to be dissenfected really well. We should buy stock in Clorox.

The things we do for goats around here!


Out of My Gourd!

It is that time of year, planning for what and where to plant for spring. We are expanding the gourd production this year so we are trying to decide how large an area to work for the gourds. 

We make crafts from the gourds and sell them to others for crafting, and the seeds are collected out for next years crop. We also sell some seeds, so if for sale or planting we still have to take some time to glean them and count them to package for resale or stock. We have to decide jsut how many we will  need to save for planting ourselves.

The smaller gourds can be grown near the house on trellis setups, but larger gourds such as kettle, apple, basketball and canteen gourds need to have a large prepared area in the field. The ones near the house can easily be reached by a waterhose, the ones planted in field require a little more effort for irragation. 

Allthis planning just makes me impaitent for the arrival spring, never was much of one for winter. 


Change Your Good Shoes Before Going In With The Pigs

It pays to remember what you're wearing before you start doing your chores. I was running late yesterday - I had to go to town for some things. I got home and I knew it was later than the normal time that I do chores. Everybody on the farm was hollering that it was time to be fed. A kind of singing tirade of "hey did you forget us, it is time to eat, hurry hurry"!

I got all the groceries in the house and came out to start the chores. The pigs were screaming the loudest, so they were first. I dropped their feed over the fence and noticed the water tank was now empty and rolled to the back of the pen. So in the pen I went, it was after I reached the tank and started back, that I realized I had not changed my shoes. No rubber boots, no old tennis shoes, my good suede shoes and I just walked through the pigs and where I was thoroughly inspected with slimy slobbers and wet noses. 

My good shoes may now be my chore shoes and my old chore shoes tossed. There is a moral to this story - change your shoes before going in with the pigs!


Chicken Tractors

Today we took advantage of the warm weather. We loaded up on lumber supplies and hauled them back for later work. We also started plans for the new chicken tractors. We plan to have seperate tractors for each breed, so that our new chicks will all be pure bred chickens.

If you don't know what a tractor is, a simple explanation is a portable pen that can be pulled around to different locations. This way the chickens still get free access to wild feed but are protected from predators. We have had a problem with the predators in our location lately and want a better system to protect our chickens.


It is Cold Out There!

The weather is reminding us that it is January here on the ranch, my least favorite month of the year. Highs are in the 20's lows 11, needless to say the water is frozen and my hands, face and ears get cold fast. It is days like this I remind myself as I do chores, A righteous man regardeth the life of his beast.

At least it has not snowed here yet this year. Breaking ice on tanks is not that big of deal, but if you want a challenge then try to chip ice away in rabbit waters to refill the bottle, that takes effort!

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