Homesteading

Family On Mission

Family On Mission

Have you ever stopped to ask yourself, “What am I working toward in life?”

A lot of businesses and churches will draft up formal “Mission Statements” to try and answer that question on an organizational level.  They also use “Purpose Statements” and “Vision Statements.”  Some will go even further and draft up a set of “Core Values.”

I won’t bore you with an explanation of all the nuanced differences between those different documents, but for the sake of this post, I'm just lumping them all together to talk about those written summaries that serve as a kind of 30,000 foot view of what a particular group of folks are working toward.

For example, Chick-fil-a's Mission and Vision statements are:

“To be America's best quick service restaurant at winning and keeping customers,” and

“To glorify God by being a faithful steward of all that is entrusted to us.  To have a positive influence on all who come in contact with Chick-fil-a.”

Those sound like decent business objectives to me.  I guess the only big question is, how useful are they?  At the end of the day, does it really make any difference if a company's purpose, mission, and vision are thought through and written out?

I found it very interesting to learn that when Chick-fil-a’s employees were asked what difference it made to them what their company's objectives were, 71% said it made a big difference in motivating them in their work.  In fact, the majority of employees said they felt Chick-fil-a's overall trajectory as a company was one of the reasons why they applied for a job there in the first place.

In addition to the motivation of its employees, a big reason Chick-fil-a's loyal customer base keeps returning to eat with their families isn't just the fact that they make great chicken sandwiches, which, I suppose, is a part of it.  But evidently, another big factor for the repeat business has to do with the well-articulated reasons Chick-fil-a gives for their existence in the first place.  It's something people who share and value the same interests want to support and rally behind.

In the same way a lot of businesses and churches use Mission Statements to guide them, what I want to propose to you is that such written statements can be just as helpful and useful for individuals and families as well.

You may think I'm crazy, and it may sound silly to you at the thought of drafting up a formal Mission Statement for yourself or for your family, but just hear me out on this.  Even if you never share it with anyone, I have found the benefit, especially when I'm neck deep in the trenches of my own personal to-do list, to be able to pull out a kind of pre-charted map to help me navigate where I'm trying to get in life.

If you want an example of someone from history who did this sort of thing and who took the time to write out a personal Mission Statement for himself, referring to it often, resulting in what I believe was a life well-lived, I can point you Jonathan Edwards.  Edwards was that great American preacher-theologian of the 1700s who helped spark the first Great Awakening revival.  Actually, I could point you to many different figures in history who at one point in their life sat down and wrote out contemplative statements defining their understood purpose for living, but Jonathan Edwards is a great example because Edwards didn't just draft up a short two or three sentence overarching mission for himself.  He ended up fleshing out such a purpose and vision for his life over some seventy personal resolutions to serve as a detailed guide for his every waking moment.

Of course, I don't believe a person has to outline 70 different resolutions, but I want to share with you Edwards' first resolution that seems to have served as a starting place for all the others.  He wrote,

"Resolved that I will do whatsoever I think to be most to God's glory, and my own good, profit, and pleasure, in the whole of my duration, without any consideration of the time, whether now or never so many myriads of ages hence; resolved to do whatever I think to be my duty and most for the good and advantage of mankind in general.  Resolved to do this whatever difficulties I meet with, how many and how great so ever."

That may be a really old-fashioned way of saying things but hopefully you can see the overall direction Edwards tried to point himself in.  He committed himself to live his life chiefly for God's glory and to carry that out, regardless of his circumstances, in a way that best served his fellow man.

Some years ago I sat down and tried to write out a simple Mission Statement for myself, which I have honestly used and referred to on a regular basis to try and gauge where I am on the map of getting to where I'm trying to get.  There's no magic formula to writing these things out.  I just tried to think about what my different roles are in life as a husband, father, pastor and so forth.  So, I'm thinking categorically here in terms of the different hats I wear.  I also tried to think biblically in terms of having priorities that aligned with the same priorities the Lord assigns in the Bible.  But here's what I wrote:

"My personal life goals are to glorify God, by His grace, through the continuous pursuits of knowing him and becoming more like Christ, enjoying and investing in my wife and family, having a positive impact on my church and community, and living a peaceful and quiet life."

So, there you have it.  That's the 30,000 foot view of my personal life goals.  And I've also taken the time to flesh out those different categories and what my aims are for each to look like in practice.  I won't unpack all those extra details here, but the point is I've sought to be deliberate and to give the time and thought to define what I'm living for in life.

Whether it's for an individual or for a family, I'm proposing such an exercise can be very helpful.  For any fellow homesteaders out there, having a clearly written out purpose, mission, or vision can be particularly helpful since the homesteading family is in the unique position of their family being their business.  As entrepreneurs, it only makes sense to have a strategic objective of some kind in place.  And the purpose isn't just to have something to slap onto a brochure, or to bury away in a nightstand drawer, but to use it as a regular point-of-reference to remind you and to motivate you in what you're working toward in life.

I've personally found it useful to keep my Mission Statement tucked away in my notebook planner which has my annual calendar and running to-do list in.  Whenever I sit down to schedule something out, or map out a new project, or develop a new year's budget, I'm able to look back on this written statement to see if what I'm thinking about scheduling, or thinking about working on, or thinking about investing in even fits within my overarching mission.  I can tell you, adopting such a practice makes it a lot easier to know what to say yes to or what to say no to.  It makes navigating the day-to-day a lot easier.  Or maybe I shouldn't say "easier."  Maybe maybe a better word then that is it makes things a lot "simpler," because life can still be hard.  Life can still feel like we are laboring in the trenches, but at least we know the direction we're digging in and we haven't cursed ourselves with a life of aimlessness and uncertainty.

So here's my advice to you.  My advice is to go and get a piece of paper and start writing out a purpose, mission, or vision statement of some kind to help you define what you are working toward in life and then keep that written statement close by.  Refine it as you need to as time goes by and as the Lord continues working in your heart and mind, and as you receive better clarity hopefully as you're studying your Bible.  But then use it as a tool to help guide you in your scheduling, your projects, your budgeting, and even your relationships.

Don't be aimless, but be deliberate.

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A Look Back on 2018

This past year has been full of many new beginnings for all of us in the Kinnard family…

We kicked off 2018 celebrating E.'s 10th birthday with a special father-son trip to St. Louis and Chicago as a way of launching E. into the world of double digits.  The special trip included going up into the St. Louis Arch, visiting the St. Louis Science Museum, riding the train to/from Chicago, eating Chicago pizza at Geno's, and many other memorable activities. This begins the new tradition of a special “surprise” trip for each of the kids when they turn 10.  Already the younger ones are throwing out ideas of where they want to go or what they would like to do in anticipation of their special trip with their “Papa.”

The spring months brought with them many outside adventures.  We were able to finish a “tall yard” with a 6 ft. fence to secure our new flock of chickens.  Along with this new area, post holes were dug to create a pasture paddock in our large backfield for grazing our future flock of sheep.  Shaun and Daisy (sheep) were then purchased and brought to their new home on the farm with the hopes that come next spring, we will be welcoming at least one new little lamb.

Amy and the kids were able to rototill a large piece of field and plant a productive fruit and vegetable garden.  The boys loved getting their hands dirty and helping in any way possible with digging furrows, planting seeds, weeding, watering, and helping pick.  H. also got involved with picking the vegetables and helping Amy in the kitchen canning.  Along with the vegetable garden, everyone was involved in helping to plant and cultivate the additional apple trees placed in the orchard and the new blueberry and blackberry bushes added to the fruit garden in the front courtyard.

Summer months were filled with more outdoor projects and fun including having cement sidewalks finished around the front of the house and courtyard.  This of course added to the fun of riding bikes on a new smooth surface instead of gravel.  The kids enjoyed bike riding and swimming in their 3-ft pool just about every chance they could.

As fall approached, more improvements were made to the homestead and we were able to finally launch our Kinnard Family Homestead website (www.www.thekinnardhomestead.com) to begin selling products from the farm.  Along with the sale of farm-fresh eggs and garden plants, Amy's baked goods, candies and jelly have been a hit as well as her hand-painted signs.  We were also able to partner with a co-worker at the law firm who knits amazing blankets and hats.  As the farm continues to expand, we will be able to offer even more homemade items to the public and partner with other crafty individuals and small homestead.

One of our biggest projects and needs was having a loafing shed built so we had a permanent shelter and lambing shed for our growing flock of sheep, as well as a new storage shed for farming supplies. Our old 10x10 storage shed was then emptied out and converted into the new chicken house which allows us room to double the size of our current flock up to 50.

When A. turned 7 in October, he was then allowed to increase his responsibilities like his older brother E.  Both boys are now taking piano lessons from their oldest cousin and helping Amy volunteer at the Fishnet Food Ministry four hours a week along with helping feed and water the animals on the farm.

One of the biggest changes for the family came mid-fall when Amy and I realized that I. needed more help in his communication and schooling than we were able to provide him homeschooling.  We began looking into taking a sign language class as a family and ended up at the Arkansas School for the Deaf.  When we were told that students with cognitive delays were also allowed to attend ASD, we went as a family to tour the school.  Everything we were praying for and desiring for I. to receive educationally was laid before us.  All the times we had anguished over I.'s hearing difficulties which have affected his speech, God was preparing the way.  It took a while to get all the testing done, but once everything was completed, I. was un-enrolled in homeschool and registered at the Arkansas School for the Deaf which is a public school.  He now receives speech therapy daily instead of just once a week and an almost one-on-one teacher student ratio.  In just the few months he has been attending ASD, he has learned to use almost 50 signs which he then uses at home to communicate his needs/wants without aggravation. His personality has calmed so much, and he has matured at an unbelievable rate to the point that even his doctors have commented on the positive changes in him.  The icing on the cake in all this is that the signing class that we were originally going to sign up for as a family and pay to attend is part of I.'s enrollment—free of charge!  In fact, the school requires family members to attend at no charge so that we learn what I. is learning.  Praise the Lord!

The end of 2018 brings with it the biggest change of all in that I will be switching my job position to part-time at the law firm to allow more time for ministry and family.  While moving "down" the corporate ladder may seem backwards to many in our culture, I consider it a promotion to be able to spend more time with my family, albeit we will be living on considerably less.  From Amy's and my perspective, time is more valuable than money.  Being home more to help Amy homeschool the kids and investing more time into homestead projects so the farm (and, therefore, our kids) grows more productive is beyond price.  In addition to more time at home, this change will provide more time to invest in the church.  Whether that be sermon preparation, visiting shut-ins, more meet-ups with members of the church, or simply staying on top of the church's administrative duties, I'll be able to do more pastorally than I was able to do working full time.

Again, we have seen God's hand at work in so many ways this past year leading us.  The year 2019 is sure to be full of many new adventures!

With love,

Tim and Amy Kinnard
E (10), I (8), A (7), H (5), and D (2)

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We’re Debt Free!

One of the big motivating factors behind our family's decision to move out to the country and adopt a simpler way of life was our conviction to get out of debt.  One of these days I'll write a more in depth post on the foundational biblical principles that have influenced Amy's and my approach to money and possessions since getting married.  For now, suffice it to say, we have been tirelessly working with "gazelle intensity," as Dave Ramsey likes to say, to escape the expert marksmanship of lenders who would have us as their interest-earning trophies (Proverbs 6:4–5; 22:7):

"Give your eyes no sleep
and your eyelids no slumber;
save yourself like a gazelle from the hand of the hunter,
like a bird from the hand of the fowler."

"The rich rules over the poor,
and the borrower is the slave of the lender."

For over 10 years, we took radical steps to reduce the principal balance of our debts.  The biggest step was to sell our nicer-quality, suburban-located, corner-lot home with it's 30 year mortgage.  In its place, we bought an affordable tract of overgrown pasture and timberland 30 miles outside of the city.  There I built (with my own hands) with the equity from our suburban house sale a humble, one bathroom, dutch colonial-style house with very few amenities to start out with. I can write another post later to chronicle that entire wilderness adventure, including our first winter on the property which is definitely a story to tell!  But, the journey also involved selling vehicles, eliminating TV subscriptions, learning to alternatively heat and cool our home, becoming couponing experts (more so Amy than me), eating out less, finding our entertainment at the local library, and many other game-changing family reforms.  We also disciplined ourselves to apply every spare penny (whether earned by us or gifted to us) to go toward the outstanding balance.

A decade of hard work and hope-filled prayers later, we paid off our final debt on our new land (financed through the good folks at Farm Credit of Arkansas), and are proud to announce..."WE'RE DEBT FREE"!

Visiting Financial Peace Plaza

No More Promissory Note!

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Canning Homemade Tomato Soup

Canning Homemade Tomato Soup

Got a call yesterday afternoon from my sister asking if I needed any more tomatoes for my canning.  Turns out the Fishnet Ministries located in Jacksonville had received a shipment of 80,000 pounds of Roma tomatoes and had no way of refrigerating them.  A call went out to churches and the general public asking for help boxing up the tomatoes and getting them to those who could use them.  Wow!  FREE tomatoes (as many as you want)!  After ending the call with my sister I immediately started calling around members of my church who I thought would be interested in doing some canning.

E likes to go around quoting, "You don't work; you don't eat!" a lot of times, and today just proved the statement to be a solid truth.  In order to benefit from the free tomatoes, we had to go help box them from 5-7 a.m.  Up at 3:45 a.m. I headed out the door shortly after 4 to be at the Fishnet Ministries' warehouse.  My sister and two older nephews met me there and we all dove right in to help empty as many crates as possible.  It felt like I had gone back in time and  was up to work the 4 a.m. to 1 p.m. shift at McDonald's like I did during my high school years and summer/winter breaks of college. Oh the memories.... Haha!

Fishnet Ministries

The pallets were stacked three high and filled almost every available aisle inside the warehouse.  On the outside, they were stacked four high and lined the outside walls.

We're talking a LOT of tomatoes!!!  In the short amount of time we were able to help, our small group was able to unload 4 1/2 crates which were the size of small swimming pools.

2014-07-17 05.23.20

Here is just a portion of the boxes of tomatoes we loaded up in our vehicles to take home to either can ourselves or give to friends from church.  Can't beat free food!!!

The timing of this blessing couldn't have been better since my mom is here visiting for a few days and was able to walk me through my first batch of tomato soup.  Yippee! :-)  Not that I couldn't do it on my own with her written instructions, but it sure is nice for this auditory and visual learner to be able to do it along side her so I don't make any mistakes.

What you will need to can a single batch of homemade tomato soup:

SUPPLIES

  • 3 stock pots (or 2 stock pots and several large soup pots)
  • Canner
  • Quart jars (approx. 14-15)
  • Canning lids
  • Canning rings/bands
  • Funnel
  • Ladel
  • Long spoon for stirring
  • Knife
  • Juicer (used my KitchenAid with juicer attachment)
  • Long whisk

INGREDIENTS

  • 26 pounds tomatoes (1/2 a bushel)
  • Whole  bunch of celery
  • 14 T. onion powder
  • 6 Bay Leaves
  • 3/4 C. sugar
  • 1/4 C. salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp. pepper (more if you like your soup spicy)
  • 2 sticks butter
  • 1 C. flour

Start by weighing your tomatoes to ensure you have the needed 1/2 bushel.  FYI, I looked it up online to find that a full bushel of tomatoes weighs 53 pounds.  Just thought you would want to know that little tidbit of info. :-)  You'll notice I'm not using a fancy kitchen scale - primarily because I don't own one.  Instead a handy bathroom scale will suffice.

After you've weighed your tomatoes, place inside a clean sink and fill with water to give them a good wash.  Using a sharp knife, cut each one in half to ensure there are no bad spots then throw them into the stock pots (dividing the tomatoes between the two pots).

Wash your celery then divide into two sections.  Cut off the bottoms and the ends if they are bad.  Cut the celery into pieces no longer than the length from the tip of your index finger to the knuckle.  You don't want them too big because they will get stuck inside your juicer.   Leaves and all get thrown into the pots.

Add three Bay Leaves to each pot (more if the leaves are small and broken).

Add 7 T. onion powder to each pot then cover and place on medium-high heat to cook.  As the tomatoes begin to cook down, you can begin mashing them to release the juices then turn up the heat.  Don't increase the heat until you have enough juice otherwise the tomatoes will burn!

Check your pots and stir the contents every 15-20 minutes or so to ensure that nothing starts to burn at the bottom.  This part of the recipe takes F-O-R-E-V-E-R!!! :-)  You'll know it's been cooked through when the celery is tender.  To help it cook faster, push all the pieces of celery under the liquid.

After the tomatoes have cooked down, scoop out a cup at a time and press down into your juicer.  It helps to use the mixer bowl to catch the soup in because the handle makes it easier to pour into the larger pot.  Don't forget you are working with hot, hot stuff!

Pour the juice into the third stockpot or smaller pots/containers until all the tomatoes have gone through the juicer.  If you don't have a third stockpot, wash out one that you finish emptying and pour the soup into it.  All the juice will fill one stockpot when you are done.

As soon as you finish juicing all the mixture, get your water canner on the stove to start heating.  Remember to have something on the bottom of the canner to prevent the jars from coming into direct contact with the metal.  I used the inside piece from my pressure canner, but you can use some butter knives, canning lids or canning rings.  Just anything that will elevate your jars.

Whisk in

  • 1/4 C. salt
  • 3/4 C. sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp. pepper

and bring to a boil

The original recipe called for 2 sticks melted margarine mixed with 1 C. flour but this is what it turned into....BLAH!  Scratch that one!

Instead I used 2 sticks melted BUTTER and 1 C. flour and got this instead.  Success!  So if you think you can cheat and use the cheap ole' margarine, DON'T. You will certainly regret ruining your batch of soup.

Slowly add the flour/butter mixture to the soup whisking the entire time.  (Now I know why my mom was so happy we bought her an immersion blender for Christmas this past year. Wow!  Talk about an arm workout when using a whisk!)

Prepare 7 quart jars (need to be really hot - like straight from the steam setting on your dishwasher), lids (boiled inside a small saucepan), and canning rings/bands.  Fill each jar leaving a 1/2-inch head space, clean tops with a clean, damp cloth ensuring there is no food or cracks along the surface, then place a hot lid on top and tighten down with a band.  For more step-by-step instructions on the canning process, head over here.

Process in a hot water canner for 20 minutes then remove and let rest for 24 hours before removing bands and storing.  If the lid pops up after you press down on it, it means the jar didn't seal properly so place inside your refrigerator to eat in the next couple of days.

Didn't have quite enough to fill a whole quart jar, so that one will be Tim's lunch for tomorrow. Perfect for a stormy day! :-)

Final Price = $0.31/quart.... Wahoo!!!

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Lemon-filled Olive Oil Lanterns

After a recent conversation with Tim regarding our winter preparations, I started doing some research on inexpensive types of homemade candles or lamps.  Last year we had a horrible snow and ice storm dumping over a foot of snow on the roads and power lines.  Our property is at the end of the line, so any power outages means that we will be the last ones to have our power restored.  This all boils down to us needing to be more prepared for a long power outage.

Using what I already had inside the house along with some lemons given to me at church this past Sunday, I was able to spend just a few dollars on some very economical (and pretty) oil lanterns.

The great thing about these little lamps is that they can burn smoke-free for many, many hours.  If the oil starts to get low, just refill.  Also, you can continue to reuse the container and just add a new wick.


Step-By-Step Instructions

Step 1Wire the Wick

Loosely twist your wire around the wick leaving a small portion at the top in order to light on fire.

Step 2Center the Wick in Jar

Center your wick inside your container then bend the wire over the side to anchor it into place.

Step 3Arrange Lemon Slices in Jar

Next, slice your lemons to your desired thickness and place them inside your container arranging them in a way to cover the sides without taking up the bulk of room inside the container.  You will need to leave room to fill with as much oil as possible.

Step 4Fill Jar with Oil

After you’ve arranged your lemon slices the way you want, carefully fill the container with your oil.  Let your wick soak up the oil for at least 15 minutes before you attempt to light it.  Not only are the lemons pretty but they also help scent the oil so it will give off a soft lemon fragrance the longer they soak in the oil.  L


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