Originally published Wednesday, 14 April 2021.
Nearly eight years ago, my family left our tidy neighborhood home on a city lot and settled onto an eight-acre homestead with two Hereford cows, a 2,000 square foot garden, and a small orchard. We were naive and inexperienced, but nurturing the spark of a dream in our hearts, we were committed to learning. A few months later on a golden summer evening, while picking marionberries in my garden, I had a simple thought that would not leave me: this is such a gift…all of it…
* that I can plant a seed and the sun and rain will cause it to grow, and I can feed my family with the fruit it bears.
* that I can watch a calf enter the world, and he will grow strong and healthy by drinking his mother’s milk – a mother who knows intuitively how to birth and care for her babe.
* that I can raise one-day-old chicks, allowing them to peck and scratch on pasture (while being thoroughly entertained by their antics), and they will quickly become hens who daily provide delicious, nutrient-dense eggs for my family to eat.
* that just as I am satisfyingly weary from the long days of watering and harvesting and canning, the season will change, the days will become shorter, and I can settle into a quieter, more restful rhythm indoors.
In my garden that night I thought about the truths in Genesis, how God created the earth and everything in it and then said, “It is very good.” (Genesis 1:31) All of these things are his good gifts to each of us. And so of these twilight musings, the name of our farm was born: Good Gifts Farm.
Shortly after our move to the country, I became captivated by Psalm 104. Charles Spurgeon called it “a poet’s version of Genesis.” Echoes of the six days of creation are woven throughout, with much praise, adoration, and glory given to God as creator of all. Spurgeon said its 35 verses give us “a panorama of the universe viewed by the eye of devotion.” The psalmist, historically believed to be David, does not ascribe greatness to the creation, but rather to the creator, declaring in wonder and awe in verse 1:
Praise the Lord, O my soul.
O Lord my God,
You are very great!
It is clear from David’s reflections throughout the Psalm that this creator is not a distant, impersonal divinity removed from the inner-workings of the world He created. No, He is a good, loving, and trustworthy God who personally sustains all He has made with His generous and mighty hand.
This psalm resonated so strongly with me because in this new-to-me life on the farm, I was experiencing its truth daily. Marveling at the commonplace natural cycles and systems God has created for our sustenance seems elementary, but I had always lived a life divorced from them. I had lived my summer-life little differently from my winter-life. In merely consuming and never producing, I had rarely paused to think of the One who enabled and ordained it all. But as dirt began to collect under my nails, as I daily looked into the eyes of the animals that nourished my family, and as my pantry shelves became full with my own harvest, a veil was lifted, and God’s provision became real and personal to me.
He makes grass grow for the cattle,
and plants for people to cultivate—
bringing forth food from the earth:
wine that gladdens human hearts,
oil to make their faces shine,
and bread that sustains their hearts.Psalm 104:14-15
After these many years on our humble homestead, my family has become deeply entwined with these divinely-ordained webs of life and seasons, hard work and good gifts. We have added goats, sheep, meat chickens, and turkeys to our menagerie of animals. I still cry when I watch my cows give birth, and the small-brained ways of turkeys never cease to delight me. We have had heartbreak and crises. We have had joy and triumphs. But most importantly we have understood and appreciated God’s good gifts to us and know Him better because of them.
In wisdom you made them all;
The earth is full of your creatures…
All creatures look to you
to give them their food at the proper time.
When you give it to them,
they gather it up;
when you open your hand,
they are satisfied with good things.Psalm 104:24,27-28
Kara is the wife of 20+ years to Caleb and the mother of 5, including 2 through the miracle of adoption. She and her family live on 8 acres, raising cows, goats, chickens, and turkeys, as well as a large garden. She is passionate about hospitality, mothering, the intersection of farm-life and faith, and finding beauty in the commonplace. She enjoys her classics bookclub, walking her country road, and traveling with her large family. She occasionally blogs at goodgiftsfarm.com, but you can keep up with her more regularly on Instagram @good_gifts_farm.