Things I have learned during my forced Sabbatical:


If you want to hear God laugh, tell Him your plans…

Have you heard a lot of rumbling lately, that seems to be coming somewhere from the South? Well, it is actually located directly over, on and around a small place in northwest Louisiana called ‘Paradise Plantation’. What you are actually hearing is the uproarious laughter of God. Yeah. Around the time I though my Sabbatical had ended, I was going over my plans with Him, when suddenly He started with a low chuckle that ended up growing into a full-sized belly laugh. So, for the past two months, I have been working my way down His list of things for me to do – on which maintaining a website was not listed. My plans? Uh, I think that list got thrown in the burn pile by mistake…


31 Cows on 60 Acres doesn’t really compute…

If I am counting right, I now have 14 Mama’s, 14 babies and three bulls. Although we have had decent rainfall, we still haven’t had near enough. The three pastures on which we rotate our cows are quickly becoming depleted of enough grass to support them all. We started feeding hay a bit early, and this year, we have actually had to buy hay. The Country Boy’s hours are long (a minimum of 12 hours a day), and with a broke tractor, it’s just flat out tough to get hay cut.

Consequently, we are also having to start sack feeding two or three times a week, which takes time. Our plans are to round up all the calves, with the exception of two bulls (one for breeding and one for beef) in October and haul them down to the sale barn. IF that happens, then our feed and hay bill will feel a bit of relief. But getting them to the sale barn? Um, did I mention the Country Boy’s work schedule yet?


I know how Gumby feels….

With three off-farm jobs (not counting maintaining a weekly newspaper column), I feel like I have been stretched in directions this old body isn’t designed for. My counseling office job has run into some ‘issues’, due to our move back in April that have still not been resolved. I am bending over backwards to get it all straightened out, but it takes an inordinate amount of time to get it done.

The Village job has had a few ‘needs immediate attention’ things going on, which also takes time. And the Pit job has required a bit of schedule shifting, which means I am off farm a bit more than normal, and doing feeding chores in the dark, wee hours of the morning. Don’t get me wrong. I love a good challenge, and my Junk Yard Dog spiked collar still has sharp points on it. However, it just seems I have had to put it on way more often than I care to. A challenge is one thing, but I really do prefer for things to run more smoothly.


Toss a chicken in the pot….

I have GOT to learn to stay out of Tractor Supply! (More on that in an upcoming post). For some reason, this year they have decided to bring chickens in to sell at the end of summer. I first came home with four, and the next go round I came home with two dozen. So, to my list of things to do, I have now added extra feeding, cage cleaning, and more time cleaning out water reservoirs, and trying prevent a hawk, fox and young coyote from eating my birds.  I also have to decide what to do with Moose – who was supposed to be an egg laying hen, and turned out to be a Cornish X meat bird. And she and I got a little bit too attached to each other, especially after nursing her back to health after the hawk got to her.


Talk about Writer’s Block…

The few hours I have to write, what little creativity I still have is funneled towards my commitment to my The Farm Wife column. This column is featured in four newspapers, and I am wanting to expand to at least seven for 2018. That is going to take some time to prepare submission packages for the editors. I love writing the column, and spent almost a full Sunday setting up for 2018, including prepping at least 10 columns and getting them ready to go. I strive to refrain from using the same posts on my website for the columns, so that means twice as many ‘ideas’ that I need to write. My brain is scrambled trying to do both.


Throw in a trip to Arkansas….

Every year it is my goal to get at least four bushels of apples from Arkansas. Since they don’t grow around here well, I have to find somewhere to get them. For the past several years, my wonderful brother-in-law has picked them up for me. He is now no longer running that route, so this year I conned the Country Boy into taking a day off and going with me. We left at 4:40 am, and didn’t return until 9:30 pm. As an added dig, there were a limited number of apples, even though I called ahead to make sure there would be plenty. Nope. We made that crazy drive for less than a bushel and a half. I had to supplement with store-bought apples, and netted less than half of what I usually produce. And that whole trip netted…..


Regrouping on the Plantation…

The Country Boy was none too happy with the turnout of the trip. At the beginning of the return trip, he was abnormally quiet. After about an hour of listening to silence, his voice actually startled me. “This is what we are going to do…” and he proceeded to tell me I needed to start researching what apples will grow in Louisiana. He threw out a couple of options of places we could plant our new orchard, the building of a new pavilion, and moving the proposed outdoor pizza and bread oven from where we originally decided to put it to behind where the new pavilion was to go. I am now in the throes of altering our original designs, budgets, plans, etc. to fit with his new vision.


And then there are the bees…

I am a relatively new beekeeper, and am learning as I go. My latest lesson is a follow-up to a previous one, and that is how to capture a hive and relocate them to us. A friend had one in a duck box, and we traipsed over there to ‘rescue’ it. Come to find out, he decided he wants to keep them. He just thought that the ones hanging around on the outside were about to swarm. Nope. We just packed up and let them bee…..


All this doesn’t even include the normal chores required for a farm or home. It also doesn’t include caring for an elderly dog, whose time is just around the corner, or taking care of Mom, helping neighbors or any other number of ‘surprise’ entries on a long list of things to do. But it is Life. And Life doesn’t always go the way you plan it. So I just pray, adapt, and put one foot in front of the others.

I may have been absent from the website for way too long, but I really do have a good reason. And I have tentative plans (and prepared posts) ready to go. Now, I just need to go back down to the prayer bench and discuss my new plans with God. So if you hear a loud rumble……..





Julie Murphree is a blogger, newspaper columnist, and speaker on all things ‘Living a Simple Life on the Farm’. She is the author of \\\'The Farm Wife – Living a Simple Life on the Farm. She and her husband have 60 acres in NW Louisiana where they actively work on living as sustainable as possible.


  1. When you need help, call me!

    1. I may take you up on that – IF you are willing to do all of my Tractor Supply shopping for a while! Stay tuned next week for a follow up to that story…

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