Independence: A Bad Idea
We are very independent people, especially as Americans. I mean, we set up this country because we wanted to be independent of England. I am not saying that was a bad move (on the contrary, I think it was a good move – no offense to my British friends!); I’m just saying that we pride ourselves on being independent. Guess what? Ladies are not supposed to be independent. Is that shocking? Unfortunately, our culture encourages women to be independent.
Some definitions of the word independent include: “free from the control of others” and “not relying on others”. When we look at examples of single young women in the Bible, they are in their father’s house … under his authority. We do not see examples of young ladies being independent, going here and there, and doing this and that, etc.
I am not saying that it is a sin for a young lady to work or live outside of her parent’s home. I don’t think it is a good idea, but I definitely do not want to put guilt or condemnation on anyone who finds themselves in circumstances that they cannot change. As a general rule, I believe that a young lady should remain in her father’s home until she marries. Not only is that the example that we see in the Scriptures, but there are incredible benefits to be had as well.
There are different reasons why I want to remain in my parent’s home (i.e. I know it’s the right thing to do, I love them and my siblings and want to be a help and blessing to them, I don’t have to worry about providing for my own needs, I would be really lonely if I lived all by myself, etc.), but the one that I want to talk about is protection. One of the most important reasons that I want to be in my parent’s home, is to have their protection.
Guess what? Our parents are so much wiser than we are. There are many verses in Proverbs, that speak about receiving the instruction of our parents, and heeding their counsel (my finger points back at me as a I write!). I know that my parents want the best for me, and they want to keep me from making the mistakes that they did.
Imagine being in a forest, and trying to get from one point to another. There are so many paths that lead this way and that. One dead-ends into a briar patch, and another will take you right into a river with no bridge. If you follow this one, you will find yourself going around and around in circles, never reaching the place you want to go, and if you follow that one, you’ll find that it is covered in thick mud. You know that there is a sinkhole somewhere in the near vicinity, and also that one path will take you right through a viper’s nest. Imagine standing at the start line, trying to decide which path to take. A person approaches you, and says; “I am very familiar with this forest … more familiar than I would like to be, to tell the truth. When I was young, I tried to make my way through, and I took every wrong path there is. Eventually, I found the right path, and reached the finish line. If you would like, I can guide you through safely, and prevent you from making all the mistakes that I did.”
Can you imagine looking that person in the eye, and saying; “Thanks for the offer, but I’m going to do it myself. I think I’ll be able to find my way just fine, and I’m not concerned about going round and round in a circle, getting scratched by briars, stuck in the mud, half-drowned in the river, bitten by vipers, and floundering in a sinkhole. I’ll just take my chances, and trust my senses.”
Most of us would be horrified at such foolishness. And yet, are we not doing the same thing, when we do not accept our parent’s instruction, correction, and counsel? We are saying (perhaps not verbally, but by our actions), “I’m going to do things my way. I don’t really care that you are older and more experienced than I am. It doesn’t matter that you were given to me for my well-being, and that I am supposed to honor and obey you. I’m going to do it the way that I want to do it.”
I am so thankful for my parent’s protection; physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually … it’s great! I would hate to have to live by myself, and have sole responsibility for my life and the decisions that have to be made. What a blessing it is to have loving parents who can protect me from being all alone in that cruel world out there.
What Do I Do At Home?
I am busy! I find myself saying; “We’ve been so busy lately…”, and it seems like I say it all the time! With schoolwork, the magazine, the garden, the animals, sewing projects, correspondence, helping with housekeeping/ homemaking, and so on … it’s not like I have a lot of time to sit around and twiddle my thumbs. One thing is certain; we do not have a boring lifestyle!
Since one of the topics of this issue is homesteading, I want to share a homesteading project that we enjoy – maple syrup! Tapping trees, gathering sap, and boiling it down to make syrup, keeps us very active during February and part of March.
I do not remember the first year that we produced syrup – I believe it was 2003 or 2004. We borrowed some taps from a neighbor, tapped a few trees, and got all of two cups or so of the finished product. We have not done maple syrup every year since then, as we were in Israel, and also here in the States where we did not have the ability to do it. For the past two years though, we have been living on fifty acres and have counted about ninety maple trees on the property.
Last year, we tapped about twenty or thirty trees, and were not able to cook all of the sap that we got. We had set up a woodstove in our shed, and put a four and a five gallon pot on it. It would take nearly all day long to boil ten gallons of sap, into maple syrup. By the way, four gallons of sap makes about one cup of syrup. That means that we need to cook down approximately sixty-four gallons of sap, to produce one gallon of syrup. Up north, the sugar content is higher, and we have heard that it can take thirty-five to forty gallons of sap to make one gallon of syrup, depending on where you are. Last year, we produced about one gallon of syrup total.
This year, someone let us borrow a twelve gallon cast iron pot, that we were able to hang over a fire. We also had the woodstove with the two pots, so we were able to cook more than last year. It is a lot of work, and a lot of fun!
On February 1st, we began drilling holes in our trees, and hammering in the taps (or spiles, as they are also called). If the trees are running good, we can sometimes get one and a half to two gallons of sap per tree, per day. The best trees on our property are down the hill by our spring. It makes sense – the trees close to the water produce the most sap, but it also means a lot of work for us in bringing the sap back up to the shed. Last year, we carried four and five gallon buckets up the hill, having them as full as they could be without spilling. It’s quite a hill! Did you know that it is easier to carry two full buckets instead of just one? You can keep better balance! Sometimes we would put a plastic fifty-five gallon barrel on a wagon, dump the buckets of sap into it, and pull the wagon up the hill.
This year, while the hill was dry, my brother was able to back the van part of the way down, and then we hooked the wagon with the barrel to it, and let the van do the work! Once we brought the sap to the shed, we strained and measured it, and then put it in the pots to boil down. Keeping the fire hot enough to boilitisa challenge, but sometimes it would get too hot and the sap in the kettle would boil over.
When the sap has boiled down to where it is almost ready, we bring it inside, strain it through flannel, and finish it off on our electric stove. It is not a good idea to cook it in the house for a long period of time, because there is so much steam and moisture. Once the syrup has reached the right temperature and consistency, we let it cool for about twelve hours, so that any sediment settles to the bottom. Then we scoop off the clear syrup, heat it back to 180 degrees, put it in jars, and screw on lids and rings. There is no need to can it; it seals itself after sitting on it’s side or upside down for awhile. This year, we got about two and a half gallons of syrup. We probably could have made more, but we started out the season by tapping trees that were easier to access than the ones down the hill, but did not give much sap at all. Next year, we hope to do better.
I would encourage anyone that has maple trees, to consider making maple syrup. You can invest in lots of nice, expensive equipment, but we have just tried to make do with what we have. We were able to buy used taps for fifty cents a piece, and hooks (to hang the buckets on) for twenty cents a piece. Our buckets are plastic icing buckets that we get from Kroger or Wal-Mart for free. the most expensive part is the boiling down. If you are using gas or electric as a heat source, it gets pricey. If you have wood, you have to make sure that you have enough of it – it takes a lot.
All in all, maple syrup season is one of my favorite times of the year, and making maple syrup is one of my favorite things to do. I just love to bundle up and tramp through the snow, checking buckets, hauling sap, stoking fires, etc. If you are interested in more information, you can check country living books, the Internet, or I would be glad to tell you what we know.
Puppies – A Home Business Opportunity
In the spring of 1997, my parents bought an AKC- registered, female, yellow Labrador puppy. We named her Miriam Matzah, and I can still remember how excited we were about her. About a year or so later, she had her first batch of puppies. They were AKC-registered, classified as yellow but very white, and I think we advertised them for $350. Over the years, we acquired more dogs, and began raising more puppies. At one time, we had three mother dogs, and twenty-five puppies. It was great! We found raising puppies to be a very enjoyable way to make money. It was not uncommon to have a litter of eight to ten puppies (one of our dogs had fifteen one time!), and if they all lived, and we sold them for $300 a piece; that was $2,400 to $3,000 a litter. We did not always make $300 or $350 a piece; sometimes we sold them for more, and sometimes for less. As we were preparing to go to Israel, we gave away all of our dogs.
In December of 2007, some friends (who we helped to get started in the puppy-raising business) gave us a yellow, male, Labrador puppy. His eye had been scratched, and they did not feel right about selling a dog with a blind eye, so they offered him to us. He became my brother’s dog, and he is the smartest dog we have ever had.
Since my brother had a male, I started considering getting a female so that I could start raising puppies. From what we have heard, chocolate labs sell best, yellows are second, and blacks are third. I began looking for a chocolate female, and I looked for months. I wanted to get an AKC-registered, chocolate, female lab, that was partly grown, but I could not find the right one. I kept praying, and kept looking, and kept praying, and kept looking! I made numerous calls, but nothing worked out.
Then one day, everything fell into place. I found a grown, chocolate, AKC-registered, female Labrador, for a very good price. We prayed about it, and then my father went and picked her up … totally surprising me! It was great! He came home from work late, I went out to help unload the van, and there she was!
She fit right into the family, and is one of the sweetest dogs that we have had. I named her Chaya, which means “life”. About a week after we got her, she went into heat and was bred by my brother’s dog. The timing was so perfect! I am expecting her to have puppies around May 10th (anybody wanting to buy a Labrador puppy?!) It is so neat to see how the Father answered my prayer, and gave me the desires of my heart. She is exactly what I was wanting!
If you are wanting a way to make money from home, I would encourage you to consider raising puppies. By the way, labs are not the only puppies that sell well – they are just our preference. One time we considered raising English Bulldogs, but we learned that they need a lot of care. We have found that Labradors are some of the best dogs temperament-wise. Golden Retrievers have similar temperaments, but I personally prefer the lab’s shorter hair and facial features.
A word of caution – raising puppies can be a wonderful experience if the Father blesses you in it. However, we have known some people who have tried to get into the business, and it has been a disaster. I believe that one of the reasons that we have been so blessed in our experience, is because of my parent’s generosity. They always gave away at least one puppy free (sometimes more than one), out of each litter that we had. That doesn’t mean that the secret to success is to give away one puppy out of every litter! It means that the Father blessed their efforts because their hearts were right. So if you are looking at getting involved in the puppy business, be sure that it is something that the Father wants you to do. (Except YHWH build the house, they labour in vain that build it…Psalm 127:1)
In closing, I would like to encourage each and every one of you, to look for opportunities to serve, bless, and learn at home. Our mindset needs to be “home-based”. We need to be comfortable in our homes. As daughters, we are to be cornerstones or pillars – Psalm 144:12. We have such an important role – we are to be to our family, what a corner foundation is to a house. That’s quite a position to fill.
Please don’t buy into the theory that you have to go and work outside the home in order to be successful. It’s a lie from the devil. Our place is in our home, and while we may not appear successful in the eyes of the world, we are laying up for ourselves treasures in heaven … “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal…” Matthew 6:19-20