When down means up

This week, with all the ballyhoo about a “jobless recovery,” I’ve been soaking up news about the economy.

One of the things I’ve been hearing a lot about is rising oil prices. The fact that oil prices are rising in the face of weak demand and a surplus of supply looks like a mystery. Supply and demand is like gravity. You can’t fight it indefinitely. When supply is up and demand is down, economist tell us prices always, always must fall.

But oil prices aren’t falling.

Grandpa was an logger back in the day when everyone used horses and crosscut saws, Continue reading

The Wonders of Wood Heat

Monday, Oct. 26, 2009

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There is nothing more comforting on a cold winter’s day than the lush, radiant heat of a woodstove. Its warmth soaks into your skin, and its flame enlivens a room with a presence all its own. I’ve always loved the way fire dances and illuminates, warming hearth and soul. And I continue to invite the spirit of flame into my home, even after suffering the very real nightmare of a fire that consumed my house 13 years ago. In a mid-winter cold snap, 10 below zero, a faulty new chimney spread fire up through my rafters. To this day, when I think about how close I came to losing my children, I find myself short of breath. Continue reading

Firelight Time

Article by Tim Matson, author of The Book of Non-Electric Lighting,

Earth Ponds A to Z and the Earth Ponds Sourcebook

Here it comes: heavy fall rain, the lights are flickering, and there7240012’s a tree on the power line a mile up the road  the utility company hasn’t fixed in over a month. Put ‘em together and what have you got? Firelight time. Check the lamp fuel supply, trim the wicks, clean the chimneys, restock the candles.

But aside from the practical value of having a reliable stash of emergency lamps and candles at hand, I like firelight whether the power works or not. Evenings, it’s a pleasant way to dial down the go-go pace of the workday and relax. Turning out the electric lights and lighting a few candles is like meditation. Or maybe it’s nostalgia. Walking into a room lit by lanterns or candles is a way to step into the past, perhaps a distant century you can use your imagination to conjur up, or a past you may have lived, in a cabin or a house off the grid. Continue reading

My First Milking

I grew up in the city, so coming to live and work on the World Hunger Relief farm in Waco, Texas is one great big learning experience for me.  Since my arrival a few months ago, I have learned so much, from where eggs are ke15969853pt in the pantry, to where we keep the sawdust for our composting toilets, to how a community of 25 organizes itself for a day’s farm work, to how to milk a goat. Though the composting toilet certainly merits elaboration, the last is perhaps the most colorful story for a girl who grew up far removed from her food.

The WHR farm is a Grade-A raw goat milk producer. The pasteurization and homogenization process that milk from a supermarket goes through means that it loses a lot of valuable enzymes and proteins as well as a lot of its flavor.  Raw milk, on the other hand, is incredibly fresh–I was astounded that it took only about an hour from milking to lining up the bottles in the fridge, ready for sale. Continue reading

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History of Barn Raising

The family farm has been a vital image in the American consciousness for34817416 centuries. The thought of a rural barn raising creates a picture of community spirit. Many American farm families can look at their barns as links to the past. A barn raising shows the strength of a community in more than riches. These old barns are community landmarks and make the past, the present.

In the 18th and 19th centuries, barns were essential structures for the farm. They stored the hay and housed the horses and cattle, which were an inseparable part of farming. The barn was usually the first structure to be built when a family moved to a new area and it was also the largest and most expensive. The community would get together and help build the barn so that the family could start their farm and the community could prosper. Continue reading

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Kidnapped by the Taliban!

This week, I was fascinated by the NY Times story by David Rohde, a reporter who was held prisoner in Afghanistan for over seven months.

The story is a interesting in its own right. But, for those of us who have friends and family risking their lives over there today, it strikes especially close to home.

David was on his way to an interview with a rebel leader when his car was surrounded by armed gunmen…emotionless, dark-eyed men who clearly intended to kill him. The story is starkly frightening.

But, the one thing that stuck with me most from the whole six part series is what he said next.
Continue reading

Loving October in Amish Country

On the road to Kidron

This morning I took this photo with my cell phone on the road between Mt. Hope and our store in Kidron. I’m loving life in NE Ohio right now! Bright blue skies, brilliant fall leaves just reaching their peak, farmers in the fields laying up their corn shocks. Life is good!
Galen Lehman
Galen Lehman, President, Lehman’s

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Come “fall” in love with Amish Country

Fall colorsThis morning on my drive in to work, my eyes were dazzled at every turn by the sparkling colors of the foliage right now. In fact, I was almost sorry to pull into the Lehman’s parking lot and end my  scenic drive. We are having an exceptionally lovely fall, and the peak color is promised this week and next. So, if you’ve been waiting for the perfect time to visit Amish Country and Lehman’s, that time is now. We’re located about an hour south of Cleveland (or an hour and a half northeast of Columbus), on the square in the village of Kidron. (Get directions here.) As a bonus, the Amish and farmers’ fruit and vegetable stands are still in full swing, offering fresh produce like apples, potatoes, squash, peppers and more (at great deals, I might add), plus homemade jams and jellies, baked goods, pumpkins, gourds, mums and all manner of fall-ish treasures. We hope to see you soon!

Taking a chance

Most of the risks I’ve taken have ended in failure. Three broken bones, a handful of ugly scars and a trail of wrecked cars are testimony to the physical risks. Some of my failures didn’t leave physical scars, but I sure remember them well. For example, I bought several “sure thing” stocks. Turns out the only sure thing I know about investing in the stock market is that I generally sell stocks for less than I paid.

That said, as I think back over my life I’m realizing that the successes I have had all came from taking a risk. For example, I took a chance by getting married at a very young age, and found a life partner I’ve been able to rely on as a source of happiness and comfort. At work, I took a chance on buying an abandoned warehouse six miles from our store in Kidron, and secured impossibly cheap space for almost unlimited future growth.

So, while taking risks may lead to painful failure, it seems like a fact that taking chances is the only path to success.

I’ve spent my whole working life at Lehman’s, so my work is one place where I can especially see the effects of risk taking. Lehman’s wouldn’t even exist if my Dad hadn’t Continue reading