Wednesday, February 27, 2008

MTV to youtube...

Hello and warm greetings to you from Brown Egg Farm!

It snowed here today, but not sufficiently to cancel school. Driving to my school proved a little perilous because my drive takes me along a very windy country road and it was covered with icy snow. Typical to February in East Tennessee, it is 60 degrees one day and 20 degrees the next.

I have to admit that Paul has given me a new addiction on the internet - youtube! Now if you are like me, I remember when you could actually watch MTV and watch videos. I will never forget when I first saw Michael Jackson's video for Thriller or Madonna's video for Like a Prayer. It was sheer magic to me. Now that reality shows have taken over, the bliss of watching videos on television has been replaced by the internet and there is an endless supply of possibilities. Here are some of my current favorites:

Rob Thomas - Little Wonders from the movie Meet The Robinsons

John Mayer - Say from the movie The Bucket List

Sheryl Crow - Love Is Free

What a technological world that we live in that we now have music videos with a few clicks of the mouse and there is no long waiting for hours for just the right video to come on MTV.

Have a great evening - I am off to see if I can find Madonna on youtube!



Saturday, February 23, 2008

Eva Comes To Visit

I had the immense pleasure to be the babysitter today for Eva, who is the almost two year old daughter of my dear friends, Jon and Theresa. Saying that it was a complete joy would be an understatement. As someone who is used to a teenage boy and one who thinks he is, I can say that having a little girl around the house was a fun change. Last night, I had decided that Eva needed a new snuggle quilt so I got to work and finished the machine quilting after midnight. All of the work was well worth it when she snuggled up to her quilt when I presented it to her. Theresa said that Eva had had a sleepness night and would need a nap. Sure enough, about 5 minutes into the movie, Cars, Eva zonked out. Not hard to believe, about 7 minutes into the movie, I too was sound asleep. After our long nap, we had a quick lunch and then set out to do all animal chores. Eva was in seventh heaven as she helped feed and water the chickens, the donkey, the horse, the alpaca, and the pigs. I do have to say that the "cock-a-doodle doos" were her favorites today, probably because Henny Penny crowed every time Eva walked past. Once our chores were finished, we came back inside to play with some farm toys and have a snack of chocolate chip cookies. (I will never tell how many we ate!) Later in the afternoon, I could tell that Eva was getting sleepy. We sat down in the family room to watch Hannah Montana and this time it only took about 3 minutes for her eyes to shut. I almost hated for Eva's mommy and daddy to arrive because our day had been so perfect, I didn't want it to end. What a joy to have the opportunity to spend the day with such a precious little girl!

Hope you have had a great day and I wish you a peaceful evening...


P.S. Notice Eva's t-shirt! It's never to early to start raising a good Democrat! LOL

Friday, February 22, 2008


I have been thinking a lot about labels recently and the definition they give to our lives. I belong to an online quilt mailing list and there has been a discussion recently about labels. Several members of the list, "came out" (their words, not mine) as conservative Republicans. Their trepidation was obvious as they thought they might be the scourge of the more progressive members of the list which are plenty. The reality is that hardly anyone has even commented about it except for the conservative members. Frankly, I don't have time in my life to judge others for the labels they have applied to themselves. In thinking about all of this, I tried to come up with a list of labels that might be applied to my life:

Dad, friend, son, grandson, teacher, art quilter, farmer, Christian, liberal, progressive, gay, Democrat, kind, open minded, compassionate, polite, and so on.

The funny thing after making the list is that I am defined by all of my labels, but I am not bound by them. I believe that if we spent less time talking about labels and more time seeing people for their hearts, souls, and core goodness, our world would be a gentler, more love filled place. I hope I am able to look beyond labels of people who are probably the exact opposite of my own and still see their worth and need for acceptance. If the last couple months have taught me anything, it is probably that the labels we embody are important and vital, but most times the only label I really need is just Joshua.

Have a great day and a good start to the weekend.



Wednesday, February 20, 2008

An Unexpected Vacation

Hello and good evening from BEF!

Growing up in northern Indiana, I always hoped and prayed each winter evening that Mother Nature would send just the perfect amount of snowfall overnight to provide for a day off from school. Of course, this was way before dopplar radar and computer weather models that take the joy out of winter surprise snowstorms. Now, living in East Tennessee, snow is a rare event, at least here in the valley, so we don't hold out much hope for days off. Now that I am a teacher, I can only imagine my childhood teachers having the same eager anticipation for a great blizzard as I did.

This afternoon, I happened to check our school system website and discovered that we will be off for the next two days. The problem is that the cause is not a blizzard, but the flu. Kids and teachers have been affected by one of the worst flu outbreaks in our area for some time. The "experts" have gotten on the TV trying to explain the fact that they completely missed what flu strain to vaccinate against this year. I feel a little selfish, but I am excited for a short vacation, even if doesn't include a great snowstorm. I might just be wild and crazy and stay up past 10:00 tonight and watch Project Runway instead of taping it!

Wishing you good health and much peace,


P.S. One of the best things about getting to stay home for the next days is getting to spoil Alabama Grace for two straight days! Who could resist that great face above?

Tuesday, February 19, 2008


Hello and warm greetings to you from Brown Egg Farm! It is incredibly windy and cold here this evening. I was out in the pasture a little while ago giving the alpacas their evening feed and the wind seemed to blow right through my jacket. It was worth it though as feeding time is the time when I get to feel connected to my sweet paca babies. Ben (our horse) and Wyatt (our donkey) always seem to feel a little left out as grain is not part of their daily diet. They, however, know that my pocket will be filled with treats for them.

I had mentioned in a previous post that I recently lost my sweet alpaca boy, Lucky. Lucky was about eight years old and totally the busybody of my farm. He always knew what I was doing anytime I was outside and I could always count on his head popping up over the fence when I walked out the front door. The evening before I lost Lucky, I thought that he was acting a little strange, but I would have never guessed that something was seriously wrong. It seemed odd to me that he was very tolerant of my hugs and kisses when he typically would have pulled away from me in annoyance. In hindsight, I would like to think that he knew what I didn't and was giving me the chance to have a goodbye. The next day, I arrived home from school and knew the moment I opened the truck door that something was very wrong. Ben was neighing very loudly from the pasture and I could tell by his voice that he was very agitated. I ran quickly to the pasture and discovered Lucky's body. Through my shock and tears, I was stunned by the fact that the other animals were in a circle around him. I stood at the gate for a few moments and felt privileged to be part of the gathering, sharing my grief with my precious creatures. Eventually, I asked Paul and Michael to join me in the pasture. Michael quietly moved the animals to another part of the pasture and Paul helped me move Lucky's body onto a tarp so we could move him from the pasture. As Paul and I were lifting Lucky onto the tarp, I happened to glance towards the other animals, making eye contact with each of them. I certainly have no words to describe the incredible grief that I saw in their eyes. They were mourning for their friend just as I was. Paul stopped me as we began to move the tarp out of the pasture because I had allowed it to touch the ground. He said simply, "Dad, we will carry him, he will not touch the ground..." I have no idea where I gathered the strength, but my sweet boy and I carried Lucky's 170 pound body all the way to our horse trailer. I learned a lesson in that moment about dignity, one that I won't soon forget. Michael too took his part in the process very seriously as I saw him quietly petting and reassuring each of the animals as they watched Lucky leave the pasture.

I still miss Lucky every day and I sometimes expect to see his sweet face pop up when I come out the door. I know that I was incredibly blessed to have had the opportunity to be his caretaker and I will hold him in my heart forever.

Have a wonderful evening and peace be with you,


Monday, February 18, 2008

Roosters Everywhere

As you can tell by the name of my farm, chickens are an important component of life here at Brown Egg Farm. Several years ago, I got it in my head that I wanted to have chickens. I researched and studied chickens for several months and eventually my good friend, John, and I built a chicken coop for the arrival of my first hens. I purchased my first six chickens at the local 4-H poultry auction and I loved each of them like their were my own babies. The years have gone by and many a sweet hen has come and gone. My battle with my two local raccoons is an ongoing one although I think I am finally winning the battle. One rule that I held strong to until the last year was a strict no rooster rule. I currently have six chickens, one of which I knew was a rooster when he arrived. In the duration, I have made the discovery that four out of my six chickens are indeed roosters. You can imagine that our morning choir of cock-a-doodle doos is worthy of a concert hall.

My mom is currently visiting and she has been a tad bit flabbergasted at my rooster choir. She, like most people, assumed that roosters let out a loud crowing or two at sunrise and then are done for the day. My roosters, however, take great pride in greeting anyone who comes and goes, talking to each other, and sometimes even greeting vehicles passing by with a cock-a-doodle doo. They are so spoiled now that I usually can tell from the tone of their "voices" that they are ready for their food!

My rooster rule has now long been broken and I love each of my chicken boys. Our farmyard may not be the quietiest place, but the trade-off is the joyful noise of some amazing creatures.

Have a wonderful day!


Saturday, February 16, 2008

Truths, Honesty, and Authenticity

Hello and warm greetings to you from Brown Egg Farm! Welcome to my new blog - it is so nice to be back to the blog world and having the opportunity to share a little bit of my life with you.

The last month of my life has truly been a lesson in the value of truth, of honesty, and of authenticity. For those of you who do not know already, my wife and I are getting a divorce. This came as a shock to many and I deeply regret the hurt, pain, and sadness that has come from this process. I do know, however, that I have a Creator who forgives and loves me completely as well as family and friends who support me with love unconditionally.

The story of the past month starts years and years ago. As a little boy, I always felt like I was different from the other kids, especially the other boys. I didn't like typical "boy" things and savored my friendships with the girls who were part of my world. I cannot describe for you the hell of Little League, youth basketball, and other "boy" things. When I started middle school, my differences became very apparent as I soon became the target of school bullies whose favorite vernacular included words like "faggot" and "queer." I had no idea why these words would be placed upon me as I saw no connection to my heart and soul. High school brought an intensified level of bullying and taunting, but I sought refuge in my circle of friends (mostly girls) and my school activities that I enjoyed. I knew that my heart experienced life and love differently, but the horrid words seemed only to stifle and repress the ways of love that I felt. I found great relief in the thought that college was approaching soon and I could escape to a place where no one knew me.

Soon before starting my freshman year of college, I met a young woman who would eventually become my wife. Instantly, I knew that we would be great friends as I found in her love, trust, and acceptance. We soon began a courtship which eventually led to marriage three years later. I continued to question the whole me, but felt like the trade-off for putting the whole me away was a life that was typical and normal. I truly loved my wife and our life together has been filled with much joy, adventure, and goodness. Our two children are one of the greatest blessings as well as a good and peaceful life on our small farm. I will never regret a single moment of our marriage as I cherish every memory. Not many people actually get to be married to the person who is your best friend and I always felt like I had been given a gift in my wife.

Recently, I discovered that as much as a person tries to hide their true self behind a mask of normalcy, the truth eventually begs to be told. To be honest, turning thirty five years old this year was a turning point for me. I progressively found myself feeling more and more like I was drowning in my lies and I knew that I couldn't spend my entire life in an outer shell that didn't match the ways of my heart and soul. I am certainly not proud of how I realized the true me, but at the beginning of January, I admitted finally to my wife that I am indeed a gay man. Of course, the truth telling led to enormous amount of grief, pain, and anger that I will spend a lifetime working to make up to all those that I have hurt so deeply, especially my wife and children. Selfishly, I also found an incredible network of family and friends who support me unconditionally without judgment. I might not have survived this month with my heart intact if it weren't for them.

Where does my journey go from here? I am not really sure. Currently, my older son, Paul, is living with me and my younger son, Michael, is living with his mom. I savor every moment that I get to be with the boys. The animals are all doing well and still here on the farm. Sadly, we lost our sweet alpaca, Lucky, several weeks ago. I will tell you more about that another time. The next few months promise to be difficult and emotional, but I have deep hope that a new day for my life is coming. Thank you for reading and welcome back to the ramblings of life here at Brown Egg Farm!

Peace to you for your hearts, your family, your world,