Filed under: cats, Farm, food, garden, make a difference, Trees | Tags: environment, farm, Food, garden, nature, recycle, South Africa, trees
I don’t get it! Why is everything so throw away today. This week I found a perfectly good cooler in the trash. There are constantly cans and bottles being thrown into the ditch. Doesn’t anyone care for Mother Earth?
I was raised to recycle. My parents both grew up just after the Dust Bowl and were children during WWII. They lived with rationing here in the U.S. that was nowhere near as bad a in Europe, but significant. You just made do. They went to the hog lot to pick up the corn cobs after the pigs ate the corn off of them to use for fuel to cook their meals. Living with little is how they were raised.
Still today we keep metals aside to sell for scrap. Cloths get patched not ditched. Yesterdays going to town jeans are todays work cloths. Buildings that are no longer usable are torn down to be used in new construction. I rarely saw my dad buy new nails, we just straightened the old ones. If it could be used for something else later, it was.
I’m still a reusing person. I walked the yard today to pick up the tree branches that came down in the recent wind so they could be used to heat my house and shop. I have more than enough wood from fallen trees to heat my buildings. My cats eat the household meat scraps and other food scraps go to the compost for garden fertilizer.
I know it’s harder to live like this in the city, but at least more people could recycle rather than throw away. We have so much here and we are just using it and land filling it, or buying it and then forgetting where we put it.
A few years ago on a trip to South Africa I saw people who lived off of the money they could earn recycling plastics. It takes over a cubic yard of plastic to earn a few pennies, pennies that we would not even pick up if we saw them on the ground.
I don’t get it. We have a lot to learn from people who have less than we do. One of those things is making use of the things we no longer need.
Filed under: charity, church, family, Minnesota, Music | Tags: children, Christ, family, God, hymn, Minnesota, politics, South Africa, southwestern minnesota, welcome
I was raised in a house and a church where all were welcome. Because of that I still have no problems with hosting and talking to people of different backgrounds and beliefs. I have been known to avoid conflict with those who are “intense” in their belief and have a hard time understanding those who call “hateful” anyone who does not believe exactly what they believe. Because of my beliefs and upbringing I was really shocked when I heard of a church group that was banning the hymn “All Are Welcome” from their church.
When our church home suffered a fire and was a year in rebuilding, we used this hymn as a promise of what we were doing and what was to come. When I traveled to South Africa a year ago with a group from Southwestern Minnesota, we used this hymn as a bridge between cultures and a promise of unity for all believers. I have used the sentiments of this hymn to argue for the inclusion of women as pastors and the inclusion of gay/ lesbian members of our community into our church. I am a firm believer that all are welcome in Christ’s church.
My firm belief is founded in the actions of Christ himself. When Jesus walked this earth he was not found with the churchgoing folks of his time, but with those most reviled and downcast. He walked with the lepers and ate with prostitutes. He called the tax collector, fisherman, prostitute and all others who were not welcome in the church of his day to follow him.
It is hard to be all welcoming. As fallen creatures we are prone to want to be with those who are most like us, especially if we are living comfortable lives. We separate into “us and them” groups to help ourselves cope with the hugeness of differences in this world. To welcome all would make us feel less important. Some do manage to live out their lives with their warped convictions intact, others do not.
When I was growing up, I remember an individual who was constantly voicing their feelings about those they despised the most. The rants about the divorced, those living together without being married and above all gay/lesbian people were frequent. For this individual, karma is a bitch. As their children grew up, one married a divorced person, another moved in with a person of the opposite gender and never married, and the last has come out of the closet as gay/lesbian. They were taught one relationship at a time to love those they had once despised.
The lessons we are taught are not always that personal. I do indeed hope that you are not so warped to be one of the haters in this world. We are called to live in a world of God’s grace, God’s inclusiveness. How can we love God and His son Jesus if we are not welcoming to all. I’m going to end with the first verse from the hymn “All Are Welcome” by Marty Haugen, I encourage you to look up the hymn and check out the other verses as you contemplate your place in God’s world.
“Let us build a house where love can dwell and all can safely live, a place where saints and children tell how hearts learn to forgive. Built of hopes and dreams and visions, rock of faith and vault of grace; here the love of Christ shall end divisions; All are welcome, all are welcome, all are welcome in this place.”
Filed under: family, Family History, Farm, friends, garden, harvest, history, Minnesota, pond, rain, safety, seasons, snow, South Africa, tillage, time, travel, weather | Tags: children, farm, friends, harvest, Minnesota, politics, rain, safety, snow, South Africa, weather, winter
When I started blogging two and a half years ago I really did not know what I was getting into. As time has gone by my blogs have fallen into a pleasant cycle of comments. I write about farming, politics and family. What is happening in my life shapes everything I write about. So it is again. Here’s some of the highlights from 2011.
January was cold and snowy, and the blog http://minnesotafarm.wordpress.com/2011/01/10/minnesnowta/ told the weather story. On a more personal note I buried a friend after a farm accident. That lead to a farm safety blog.
In February I traveled with others from Southwestern Minnesota to South Africa as we visited with folks from the Evangelical Lutheran Church in South Africa. Learning to understand their joys and struggles as we helped them with some gardening projects.
March blogs were about politics and snow.
Snow again was a subject for Aprils blogs, along with how slow the snow was to melt, and the advent of rain which kept us from getting into the fields to plant our crops.
In May we got our planting done just a little bit behind schedule. I also posted stories of the new decorative pond I was installing as part of a long planned for landscaping addition. The plans had to be hurried because we had a wedding coming up in June.
Our daughter, Elizabeth married Michael Feltes on June 10, our anniversary. Postings of crop conditions, wedding planning and pond creatures are the main topics for the month. My favorite is the copy of the wedding toast I gave http://minnesotafarm.wordpress.com/2011/06/10/father-of-the-bride/. I hope you enjoyed it.
July’s weather brought rapid crop development and hot humid weather. Our garden was starting to give its produce and most of the field work was drawing to a close.
August brought us http://minnesotafarm.wordpress.com/2011/08/30/flash-drought/ and more postings of the happenings in our pond.
September found our crops rapidly reaching maturity, wood cutting and a farm safety program for area fourth grade children. I got to tell the stories of farm accidents I and others have survived, plus the death of my friend Doug back in January in http://minnesotafarm.wordpress.com/2011/09/22/scared-safe/. The birth of twin granddaughters at the end of the month also highlighted my month.
October was harvest. I do not recall a fall where harvest went so fast, nor so easy. The lack of moisture after such a wet spring was a big part of that speed. Oh yes, I did post about those cute little girls that joined our family.
November was a bit slower month, but I was surprised by the popularity of a “how to” post I made called http://minnesotafarm.wordpress.com/2011/11/30/santas-peeking-in/. It caused a big jump in readership of my blog.
December has been a winding down month. The lack of snow and warm weather has been most of what I have written about. I did have to put in a post or two about the new girls in my life with http://minnesotafarm.wordpress.com/2011/12/25/christmas-with-granddaughters/.
It has been an interesting year for me. There have been joys and hardships and a lot of learning. So here’s the best to you as you look forward to the new year. There is one thing for sure, It will hold a lot of new opportunities for me to write about life. I hope you join me in 2012.
Filed under: church, family, friends, Minnesota, South Africa | Tags: children, funeral, HIV/AIDS, Minnesota, South Africa
This week has got me thinking funerals.
My Uncle Ernest died after a long battle with cancer. I’ll be at his funeral this Saturday.
A local businessman died in an accident yesterday. If his funeral doesn’t conflict with my Uncles, I’ll be there.
Both of those men lived full active lives and will have families to sent them off. In South Africa, 20% of the people between 18 and 50 have HIV/AIDS. We saw lots of fresh graves when we were visiting. Pastors seemed to be doing funerals for young folks every Saturday.
To lose someone you love is never easy. Many young people in South Africa go off to the city to get a job, and come back with HIV/AIDS. Seeing the grandmothers in South Africa raising their grandchildren because of HIV/AIDS was not easy.
Thinking of funerals is never easy for me. It is really difficult when young people are laid to rest.
Filed under: charity, church, friends, garden, Politics, South Africa, travel | Tags: children, ELCSA, Food, harvest, South Africa
This was my first trip to a developing world country. I have travelled most of the U.S., in many European countries, Israel and parts of Canada. In other words, I travelled among the blessed. This trip was to a country that is multi-faceted.
South Africa is a resource giant. There is so much there that is either mined or grown that the world wants, yet it is still owned by the few,and does not seem to benefit all.
South Africa has talented, energetic people. They manufacture complex machinery. They have hospitals that draw people from around the world to study in them. Yet only 25% of the population is registered as being employed.
Many look at Africa and think of elephants, rhinos, leopards, lions, apes and cape buffalo, and there is that in South Africa, but it is a land teaming with people and declining wild places.
I found South Africa to be a land of contrasts. We lived among people of the ELCSA (Evangelical Lutheran Church of South Africa) who were getting by on very little and yet had great joy in their lives. I saw pastors who lived and worked with people who had so little, and yet always had something to give to the church.
I talked to young people with great hopes for their future, and young people who were holding on to their last shreds of hope.
South Africa is a land that is still struggling to throw off apartheid. The races still live segregated. Yes, there are those of all races that are doing well, but the black population is not doing as well as the white. Most of South Africa is still white owned. Yes, blacks now are part of the government, but so few know how to make that government work for them.
I saw people living off of the small amount of money they make by collecting and selling scraps of materials that here we would throw into the landfill. People selling fruits or hand crafted items by the roadside that they had purchased and hoped to sell for a few pennies more.
The people of the Ondini circuit sing and dance in church. They sing when they are happy, and when they are sad. They are warm and helpful. Above all they are willing to share their love of God with us.
I think of how much we have here, and how we complain about it when we think we don’t have enough of something, and then I see them rejoicing in all things. We here in the U.S. should be ashamed of all of our complaints over our petty problems.
Thirty years ago I sat in on a meeting where we were talking about the changing face of mission in the world. We talked about how the U.S. and Europe had sent people out into the world to spread the Gospel of Christ and how that mission must now change. I was told then that the in the future, Africa would be coming to us. I have now seen the face of mission in the future. I have seen the joy of Christian life that cannot be matched here. The people of the Ondini circuit have shown me Christ in a whole new way. I’m ready for the future, I hope you are too.
Filed under: cars, church, farm animals, friends, garden, Kwazamohkuhle, rain, South Africa, travel | Tags: children, ELCA, ELCSA, friends, funeral, South Africa, travel
On January 31, 2011, fifteen people from the Shetek conference of the ELCA travelled to the Ondini Circuit of the ELCSA. We were there to come to know the people of the area, and if we could, help them.
Our trip is now coming to an end. We have presented a vacation bible school program, lay preacher workshop, food preservation workshop and discussed the work being done to combat the HIV/AIDS epidemic in South Africa. We viewed past projects and discussed the future of the projects we had started. We have assisted in a garden irrigation project and the construction of a greenhouse. We made friends. We attended church with our friends, we sang with them and we worked with them.
I was very impressed by the young people we met. They were bright, intelligent and interested in what was going on in the world around them. I talked with high school graduates who were studying for degrees in jobs as diverse as welding, electrical engineering and forensic pathology. They will be leaving their mostly rural life for jobs in the city if they can find a job. They are hopeful for the future. I also talked to young people who had degrees and had come home because jobs were not available, or because they had contracted AIDS.
There is a quota system in effect in South Africa to promote women to jobs formerly held by men. This has many young women excited about their future.
Traveling South African style is a very interesting experience. It is rare to see only one person in a vehicle. A small pickup will have at least three people in front and quite a few more in back. I even saw an open pickup that had two young men clinging to the top of the box cover.
South African van taxis never travel until they are full. I’ve seen 10 passenger vans stuffed with 18 people. There was a news report of a van that was stopped with 42 school children in it.
Hitch hiking is common. There are hand signs that tell which way a hiker is traveling so that the driver knows if the is going that way. If you know someone on the road you stop to pick them up.
Walkers are everywhere, not for health reasons, but because they have no wheels to use.
The most common style of rural housing we saw was a round hut of either mud or concrete block plastered inside and out. Poles formed a peak on which grass was placed as a roofing material. The better off have a concrete floor and a steel roof. If you had a tree to help shade your yard you were lucky. The mud block houses were just fine until they got wet, and then they just melted away.
Those who could afford it did have rectangular houses with several rooms. The straight roof meant that you could have a gutter attached to transfer roof water to a nearby tank. We saw many people carrying or wheeling large jugs to a stream or well to get water for their house. Electricity and water were not always present in a home, but if they did have electricity they also had a satellite dish.
Most houses had a fence around them, either to keep their livestock in or to keep everyone elses livestock out. Locked and guarded gates were common in some areas or in group housing such as the Centre.
Livestock were every where in the black owned rural areas. I’m not sure who all of the stock belonged to because not all of it seem to be owned. Some animals were tethered or being herded, but not many. We joked that the cattle on the road were Zulu traffic control. They sure did make you slow down just to make sure you did not hit one. We saw no animals that had been hit by traffic, but the rumor was that if you hit an animal you should take it home, since no one would claim an animal left dead along the road.
With the high rate of unemployment in South Africa you see a lot of people doing jobs that few in the U.S. would do. I know they cannot earn much, and yet they are all happy and helpful. The value of a man and his labor is still not very high in South Africa. The story of a white farmer whose cattle were caught in a flood was in the papers while we were there. There was a long account of how he had worked to save his animals. Almost as a footnote was the comment that five ranch hands had been lost in the effort. No names given.
Funerals are all held on Saturday. The grieving will sit at the front of the church wrapped in a blanket, representing the love of the community, even in the warmest weather. When the usually wooden casket is carried to be interred, the grave may not be finished yet. In the rainy season, water in the bottom of the hand dug grave must be taken out with a pail. A grass mat is placed under the casket, and blankets are placed over it.
We learned to live on Zulu time. Meetings may be scheduled, but they happen when they happen. Travel conditions or family events dictate when or if you get to an event.
Our last Sunday
On Sunday we again broke up into smaller groups, but we stayed closer to Kwazamohkuhle this time. Juanita preached the service at this church and helped with communion.
A farewell service was held for us. Even the bishop came to see us off. Our bags were packed, and we were on our way home.
There are many stories and many pictures that are not included in these postings. Now I must get back to life in Minnesota. There will always be with me the faces and places of the Ondini Circuit. When we shall meet again only heaven knows.
Filed under: church, family, food, food safety, garden, Kwazamohkuhle, rain, South Africa, travel | Tags: ELCSA, farm, Food, food safety, garden, rain, South Africa, travel, weather
Fifteen people from the Shetek conference of the ELCA flew to South Africa on an agricultural mission that departed on January 31, 2011. Our stay was centered on the Kwazamokuhle Centre.
We were visiting the area in the rainy season. It rained almost every day. The ground was often too wet to work. We dug potatoes that were sitting in water. The streams were running full. With all of this water you would not think water was a concern in South Africa.
When the rains stop, and it could stop raining for over 6 months, plants and people could be in trouble. That is why we were working on irrigation projects, to make it possible to grow food in the area all year round.
When we were in South Africa we drank only bottle water, or water we had boiled ourselves. When you are that far from home there are a few bugs in the water that can upset your system if you are not used to them. The folks in the area are immune to them.
Almost every building in the area had gutters to catch water from the roof and send it into a holding tank. I’m not sure if we were using rain water from those tanks, but someone was.
Water is the stuff of life. It is one of the main reasons we went to Ondini. To help them get water to their gardens when the rains do not fall. We need water for ourselves, and we need water to grow our food. If we can help keep the people healthy and fed we are doing our part to help our neighbor.
Filed under: church, friends, Hluhlu-iMfolozi Park, Kwazamohkuhle, South Africa, travel | Tags: ELCA, ELCSA, garden, South Africa, travel
The second week is underway for those who traveled from the Shetek conference of the ELCA to the Ondini Circuit of the ELCSA. We are playing tourist and have been to see some of the wild part of Africa. We made our way to the Hluhluwe-iMfolozi park two days ago, but today we must go back.
The scenery has been beautiful and the animals plentiful but it is time to get back.
Elephant and rhinos were on the road and we had to wait for them to clear off the road.
These rhinos were intent on their mud bath right next to the road. The male even charged another vehicle when it got too close.
As we leave the park we see some folks thatching a roof.
I get a kick out of the the signs on trucks that say “Abnormal/e” It’s their way of saying, wide or oversize load.
We make our way up hill from Durban. I didn’t realize how much we lost in elevation coming down hill to Durban. Going back up we knew we were climbing as we were constantly downshifting. Then when a truck would pull out in front of you, you had to wait for them to pass and then clear out of the way.
We make it back to the Centre so that Ted and Mark can put on a workshop for lay ministers. They kept at it until late at night.
Saturday found us finishing up projects at the Centre.
We got the plastic mulch put down in the high tunnel and put the last pieces on it.
The trench is filled and the area leveled.
This is our last day at the Centre. What we don’t get done today will have to be done by those at the Centre. We are going to leave some real good people behind. The will is there to get the job done. They can do it with the correct training and tools. We all wish them the very best.
Filed under: cars, food, Hluhlu-iMfolozi Park, Kwazamohkuhle, South Africa, travel, Wildlife | Tags: ELCA, ELCSA, elephants, Food, rhinos, South Africa, travel, wildlife, zebra
The second week is underway for those who traveled from the Shetek conference of the ELCA to the Ondini Circuit of the ELCSA. Today we are playing tourist. We have made our way to the Hluhluwe-iMfolozi park. The park lies in the heart of Zulu country and was once the sole hunting area of Zulu kings. This is Africa’s oldest wilderness area. Our day begins with a 5:00 a.m. game drive.
We climb into 11 passenger open air vehicles long before sunrise and head off into the chill of early morning.
Fog fills the valleys as the sun rises.
There is nothing like the sunrise over the thorn veld of Africa.
The hoot of a baboon brings us to a stop underneath a Eucalyptus fig, where the baboons are having breakfast.
Baby animals are everywhere. This zebra was the first of the day.
Soon we see a rhino family cross the road with oxpeckers on his back. Hluhluwe is famous for its project to save the white rhino which started in the 1950′s.
A hyena slinks through the thorn along the road.
We take a stretch break for tea and biscuits and then continue our tour.
Female and young Nyala are eating beneath the trees.
We see many kinds of birds, and so many elephants that we start getting selective about the photos we take of them.
Our morning drive is over. It’s time for breakfast and some time on the internet. then off for a nap.
Levi, Ron and I have a two bedroom place set into the trees.
A window sticker warns you to keep doors and windows closed to keep monkeys and baboons out.
Window screens are there to keep out monkeys and baboons. They do nothing to keep out insects and small lizards.
This troop of monkeys was playing just outside our door and came within a few feet of us.
Baboons crossed between us and our lodge, and played on the roof of Mark’s place.
Our evening game drive lasted until past sunset.
We saw lots more elephant, perhaps over 100. Also in evidence were rhino, cape buffalo and warthog.
We caught a sight of a male nyala, impala and gazelle, as well as a nile croc, bush baby and eagle owl.
Our day at Hluhluwe had come to an end. We had a late dinner buffet with roasted eland, served with cranberry sauce, as the main meat, got ourselves back to our places and ready for bed. Tomorrow we go back to Kwazamohkule.
Filed under: cars, Hluhlu-iMfolozi Park, Kwazamohkuhle, South Africa, travel, Wildlife | Tags: Cape Buffalo, ELCA, ELCSA, elephants, giraffe, Indian Ocean, rhinos, South Africa, travel
The second week is underway for those who traveled from the Shetek conference of the ELCA to the Ondini Circuit of the ELCSA. Today we are playing tourist. We left Kwazamohkuhle after chapel and headed down the road toward Durban.
Barb, Paul, Marcia, Loretta, Levi and Ted took the back seats as I drove and Jessica navigated.
Being a farmer I was tuned into the crops being grown along the way. The corn and soybeans seemed to be growing well. Most seemed to be nearing maturity, but some had only recently been planted. With all of the rain some did not look too good. There were spots that were yellowing from too much water. We did notice that no one seems to believe in end rows around here.
As we made our way toward Durban we started seeing some sugar cane growing. The cities didn’t look much different than many other southern cities. The houses may have been a bit smaller and more gaudily painted, but everything looked prosperous.
This walking bridge across a deep cut was interesting. As we neared the Indian Ocean all eyes turned toward the coast.
After having lunch in Stanger we made our way to the beach to play in the ocean.
The sand was so hot it burned your feet until you got close to the water.
The waves were really coming in so taking a swim was out of the question. Some of the kids got wet when they were not planning on it.
We said good bye to the ocean and headed northwest along the coast.
All the fuel pumps we saw were full service. There would be someone there to direct you to a pump and pump your fuel. Usually someone washed your window also.
We saw many crews out mowing grass along the road, but rarely saw a tractor powered mower, or even evidence that someone was baling the hay. The grass was cut by a gas powered weed eater and raked up by someone with a small rake. There was usually someone there to sweep the grass off of the road also.
People were walking on the roads everywhere. Busy roads had fewer people on them, but it was not unusual to see someone crossing the busiest of roads. When traffic slowed down people were selling fruit on the edge of the road, or if you had to come to a stop, would approach you with bags of fruit.
Most of the larger roads were toll roads. We usually managed to have the exact change for a toll so we kept moving right along.
As we made our way further west the sugar cane made way for large plantations of fast growing trees. You could see the fields that had been recently harvested and some that were planted not that long ago. Plots of trees were in all stages of growth.
Our goal for the day was the Hluhluwe game park. We were going around to the northwestern side to go into the Memorial gate. The roads got smaller and livestock again became a presence on the road. Mark almost got kid on the grill when a young goat dashed across in front of him.
We checked in at the park gate and made our way up to Hilltop Camp. Last time when Mark was here they saw only one elephant. This time we were greeted by herds of them.
We had to wait while they crossed the road, and then stop and wait again.
We also saw rhinos, cape buffalo, wart hog and giraffe before we even reached the camp.
This giraffe was eating right at the side of the road.
We made our way to Hilltop Camp, got our room assignments had a wonderful prime rib buffet for diner and then headed off to bed. Tomorrow’s wake up call is 4:15. The morning game drive leaves at 5:00 a.m. It’s going to be a short night.