Browsing Archives for June 2009

It is 2:32 am on Saturday morning as I am writing this post.   I just got home from driving across the state of Kansas.  My boys had their camp show this evening… or is that yesterday evening?  They decided to stay out west and spend a few more days with their grandparents, so I drove home alone.  April and Clay are bringing everyone home on Sunday.  

Later this morning… (much later)…  I have to shovel my house out for a party on Sunday night and when it is clean enough around here to admit a few guests in the front door, I am going to pack up my guitar and drive to Kansas City for a rehearsal and a gig!  I am playing at Prospero’s book store late Saturday night with a few old friends.  


I have to speed back home, catch a few hours of sleep and get up in time to drive to a nearby town to listen to a preacher who is applying for the pastor position at our church…




I have to work a few hours on Sunday afternoon at the Garden Center.




I have to race home, fire up the grill, and fix dinner for the pastor nominating committee as well as the pastor applicant and his family!




When the dinner party leaves I am collapsing in a heap of exhaustion…




the two tons of camp laundry that my boys will be bringing home…




To arise Monday morning, conduct the pastor and his family around town and enjoy lunch with them…




I will end this marathon of craziness with a…




Doesn’t this sound like a fantastic few days!


I especially love the ending!


I love going to the dentist.


It is my favorite!

Goat Walk

June 19th, 2009

After our night at the Heifer Ranch Global Village, we had to get up the next morning, prepare breakfast over a campfire in the urban slums, and then each group had to go back to their homes and do their chores. 

My group stayed in Guatemala, so we did chores that would be typical for a family in Guatemala living on a coffee farm.  



We weeded the garden.

We turned the compost pile.

We swept and cleaned the small house.

We fed and watered the rabbits.

We gathered wood…





 And then we took the goats for a walk.




Or maybe we took the goats for a run…







Or maybe the goats took us for a run…





And if the goats wanted to stop and eat a fallen tree limb, there was really no persuading them…






Then the goats took off again.





We were really just along for the ride.





Finally we got the goats back home and moved them to a grassy pasture.





It was good exercise, that goat walkin’ was.





And just in case you were too weak and shaky to go on the Global Village tour yesterday, here are some great links about Heifer’s Global Village locations (they have more than one) and how you can help Heifer help families around the world.


Information on donating to Heifer International

Heifer Learning Centers
Heifer Ranch in Perryville, Arkansas
Hidden Villa in Los Altos Hills, California (Scheduled to open in Spring 2010)
Overlook Farm in Rutland, Massachusetts

Heifer Global Village Site Sponsors
Howell Nature Center in Howell, Michigan

Shepherd’s Spring in Sharpsburg, Maryland

Our first stop will be the urban slums.


Today, the world’s population numbers almost seven billion souls.   Close to one billion of these souls live in urban slums.



The number of folks living in urban shanty towns is projected to triple in under fifty years.

So that will be three billion people living in cardboard shacks on the edge of major cities by the year 2050.






Our next stop in the Global Village is Zambia.

Zambia is in Africa.  

When materials are available, Zambians often build round homes out of bricks that they make themselves.

Round homes do not waste any space, plus you don’t have to sweep out any dark and dreary corners full of spider webs.

The Zambian kitchen is an open fire underneath the thatched ‘pergola’.  A very clever brick chicken coop is located between the home and the outdoor kitchen.



This is my friend Dave standing beside the Zambian garden.  

He’s the one in the fierce, bright yellow rain slicker in case you didn’t notice him at first.





This is Zambia without Dave in a fierce, bright yellow rain slicker.




Personally, I think Zambia with Dave in his fierce, bright yellow rain slicker is better than Zambia without Dave in a a fierce, bright yellow rains slicker.  

But that could just be me.


As we left Zambia, we passed the Refugee camp.  I have a few photos of the Refugee camp but my computer is not cooperating with me, so I will have to describe it for you.  The refugee camp consists of a low slung metal barn with a concrete floor.  No fires were allowed in the refugee camp.  It was a cold, desolate, forlorn place.  Even Dave’s fierce, bright yellow rain slicker could not lift the gloom of the refugee camp.  Currently, 35 million people in the world can be classified as refugees.  Of these 35 million refugees, 12 million of them reside in refugee camps.

Did you know that Henry Kissinger was a refugee ?

So was Albert Einstein.

Refugees can be anyone, anywhere, anytime.  All it takes is a little civil unrest that leads to bloody bedlam, and then to people just like you and me fleeing for our lives with our most precious belongings tied up in a plastic bag on our backs.




Now we have arrived at my house in Guatemala.  



Come on in!  

Guatemala was the most cozy of  all the Global Village homes.  There were three rooms, including a kitchen with a wood burning oven, and even electricity.  

They must have known that I suffer from occasional bouts of weakness and shakiness so they gave me the most comfortable home.



There was colorful paint and simple furnishings too.  

Our Guatemalan home was on a coffee farm.   

Did you know that coffee is the second most valuable traded commodity in today’s world?

Can you guess what the world’s most valuable commodity is?

The typical coffee farmer makes about six cents from a ten dollar bag of Starbucks coffee beans.

If you purchase your coffee from a company like ‘Fair Trade’, the coffee farmers make as much as $1.50 from a ten dollar bag of coffee beans.  This is an extremely painless way to ‘vote with your dollars’ and buy a product that you can be sure the third world farmer is getting a decent percentage from his crop… oh!  and the coffee is fabulous too.  



From Guatemala we’ll swing on over to Appalachia.



In the year 2000, 13.6 percent of Appalachia was living in poverty and 5.8 percent of those people were living in what is termed ‘deep poverty’ which is having an income that is half the poverty level.  The national US average for poverty is 12 percent.  There are pockets of poverty throughout the United States including Hispanic migrant farm labor out West and poor black communities in the South.  All of these groups tend to share a common link of being involved in an industry that has historically wreaked havoc on the environment, the community and the health of it’s work force. Industries like coal mining and some types of farming which rely on a desperate work force willing to work under terrible conditions for little pay.  These industries all too often lead to workers getting sick from exposure to pesticides or diseases like black lung from working in the coal mines.  Once a workers health is gone, he can no longer support his family and they sink further and further into poverty.  





Our last stop will be my favorite place in the Global Village…


This is Thailand.

I loved the houses in Thailand.  





These simple structures are raised to survive the yearly flooding and also to get the people away from the mosquito breeding grounds.







The walls are constructed of bamboo and they are not fitted closely together to allow for air to move through the home.






These Thai homes are built with a thatched roof and a metal roof, but in Thailand the roofs would more typically be constructed of bamboo also.  








It is in places like Thailand that families can easily get malnourished due to lack of iron and/or Vitamin A in their diets.  This causes loss of peripheral vision, an inability to coordinate your movements, slowness in processing new information, general weakness and eventual blindness.  






A family that is struggling to see and to move and to think has less and less ability to properly work their land.






Sometimes it is easier to believe that poor people are lazy and just don’t want to work hard isn’t it?

In truth, there is all too often a vicious cycle of illness, malnourishment, and tyrannical forces such as a controlling industry that wants to keep it’s work force cheap as well as governments that simply don’t care for their people.  Heifer International is a charity that has been able to squeeze in behind this corruption and help people in ways that truly makes sense for the areas that they are working in.  







If you are interested in donating to Heifer or of learning more about their work, you can find out more here.  

Heifer International makes a difference by helping people to help themselves.  

Here ends the tour of the Heifer Ranch Global Village with locations throughout the United States…

Heifer Learning Centers
Heifer Ranch in Perryville, Arkansas
Hidden Villa in Los Altos Hills, California (Scheduled to open in Spring 2010)
Overlook Farm in Rutland, Massachusetts

Heifer Global Village Site Sponsors
Howell Nature Center in Howell, Michigan

Shepherd’s Spring in Sharpsburg, Maryland 

It has been a pleasure traveling with you today!

Please exit to your left and watch that first step, it’s a doozy!  

And thank you for choosing MSFH for your tour of the Heifer Ranch Global Village.