Friday, June 30, 2006


Hans' family gave Jacob a Badminton set for his thirteenth birthday, so all of us have enjoyed playing Badminton. Eight children divide evenly to form two teams of four, but for our first game, pictured below, Clarence joined us for the game. We play Badminton as though we were playing volleyball. The official Badminton rules have not yet concerned us.

Piling Stones & Pulling Stumps

Nate and I continued to work on beautifying the pasture behind our house today. The stone wall has fallen apart over the many years since it was built, so Nate asked me to help him rebuild it. Our rebuilding turned into repiling, since we did not take the time to find geometrically mutual stone fits. I got a little bored picking stones, so I started uprooting old stumps with a pickaxe. This job is far more rewarding, especially when the really old stumps that pop out with a blow or two of the pickaxe make you feel extremely youthful and strong. I discovered, while engaging in this project, that decaying stumps are very popular habitats for earthworms. I think that the robins were happy that I exposed these earthworm havens.

Lot Count Approved

Small but significant headway was made for The Waterlands at Bentley this week. Dad came back from the town planning board meeting and reported that the first step towards Hans' development plans was approved. Twenty-three new lots have been sanctioned. Hats off to Hans for this accomplishment.

For those less familliar with the farm history, Bentley Farm was purchased by a Dutch developing company in the early spring of 2005 from my grandfather's cousins who had owned the farm since the early 1900's. Hans, acting as the officiant, has labored many hours to get his site plan approved. My dad and Hans have worked together during this time to develop a plan that would allow for the maintainence and continuation of an agricultural extention at Bentley. We remain optimistic that the future plans will be approved in a smooth manner.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Jacob Turns Thirteen

We celebrated Jacob's 13th birthday early this morning. In celebration of his birthday, Jacob was given a 95-piece tool set and a two-ton car jack. Contrary to what some may think, Jacob did actually request these gifts. Mom made a wonderful breakfast of hot cinnamon buns and decorated the kitcheen with balloons and a big 13 cutout. Grandma, who arrived from Minnnesota yesterday, is taking the family to Four Brother's Pizza for dinner. Uncle Mark (one of Jacob's heroes) made the day extra special for Jacob by sending him a book and a card.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

The New and Improved Fenceline

Luke and Nathaniel have been working on cleaning the fenceline behind our house. They cleared a lot of brush and, as previously reported, cut down a host of overhanging branches. Today Luke rotatilled the fenceline. The stone wall still needs to be rebuilt, but in the meantime we have a gorgeous view of the pond.

Make Time for Science

The rainy and muggy weather that has settled into the region recently left some of the farm children in need of activities. I figured that one of my favorite science demonstrations would occupy them for a while. We put a very small amount of water in a soda can and heated the can over paper garbage in the burn barrel outside. As soon as the water boiled, I quickly inverted the can into a cold basin of water. The result was pretty dramatic! For those who haven't done this, I will not disclose what happens.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Rebecca and Her Brothers

Rebecca loves having older brothers and is very fond of them. Her brothers are, likewise, happy to have a younger sister.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Chittenango Falls

I visited Chittenango Falls (Syracuse region) with some long-standing family friends. Their eldest son, Jonathon, was being honored by his church before he moved on to complete his next two years of medical school in another city. We witnessed a special bond that had developed between Jonathon and his church members in the two years that he spent in Syracuse.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Middlevale Farm

Much of the recent agricultural activity has taken place at Clarence's Middlevale Farm while we wait for the planning board to approve The Waterlands at Bentley plan that we hope will allow us to reinstate agriculture on Bentley Farm.

The man: Clarence.

Isaac fixes the Oliver 770.

Hannah and the Oliver.
The milk barn.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Sunny, Southern California

As soon as I finished teaching for the year, I took an extended weekend trip to visit my George Fox roommates, Kristiane and Trina in Loma Linda, CA where Kristiane is attending medical school. The beach was especially inviting and attractive, given that the temperatures were very high. It is a gift to maintain this three-way friendship.

Small Happenings

The season of planting has passed this year. This is truly a season of cutting - weeds in the yard, tree branches that have grown too far over the old cow pastures, grass in the fields for hay.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

A Father's Counsel

For all of the things that a father gives to his children, there is one thing that stands out as a particularly important gift: that of instruction. My father is a man who loves deeply, works tirelessly and leads the family as a servant. I love and respect these character traits. On this Father's Day, though, I am particularly mindful of and grateful for my father's wise instruction. There have been times when I have not seen my father's instruction for the gift that it is. But, in reflection, I have always seen that insomuch as I have actively listened and pursued my father's instruction, the fruit has been righteousness and peace. So today, in addition to the many ways that my father shows his love, I am particularly grateful for his counsel.

Fathers, on behalf of your children, do not abandon the call to instruct and to train your children even if it will not make you popular with them, even if it hurts. Daughters, allow your father to speak into your life and treasure his counsel like a prize. Remember that all discipline is painful for a time, but it later yields a harvest of righteousness and peace as we submit to its training (Hebrews 12:11).

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

The Obligation of a Moral Man

In the Unsettling of America, Wendell Berry said, "The maintenance of a continuity, a vital connection, between childhood vision and adult experience is part of the obligation of a moral man." This line has stayed with me for many years, largely because I had a very defining childhood and my life in college and graduate school taught me that there was deep worth in many of my childhood visions. The simple callings of marriage, motherhood, land husbandry and an active and unadulterated faith, all visions of my childhood, were initially brought into question after leaving home. But the more time that I spent away from home, the more I recognized that I desired that my adult experience express a living form of my childhood vision.

Perhaps, because of that, or perhaps just for fun, Bentley Farm expanded today to include two parakeets, Oyster and Pearl. Since I was ten years old, I have always wanted a parakeet. I am not quite sure why I cared for these birds so much except that I know that I have always liked bird songs. We have had chickens for many years, but that never satisfied my bird-longing, most likely because their cluck doesn't sound much like a song. Dad always said that a parakeet was a fairly useless pet - it doesn't bark, it doesn't give you milk or eggs, it doesn't give you wool, you can't ride it, you can't pull a plow or a wagon with it and it can't turn into bacon. I realized these things to be true and so for twelve years no parakeets joined the Bentley flock.

As the eldest Angell, I have watched all of my siblings receive and raise pets, or more appropriately, livestock. Isaac started with Bob, the ox, and Autumn Jeanne, the cow. Rebecca has raised a succession of cows from Speedy to Speedette to Speediest. And all of the kids in between have owned and raised an Ayrshire cow, but I never had an animal. That is, unless you count Amy, the golden lab that ran away after I spent countless hours attempting to train her. Amy was not meant for me. She was bought for Nathaniel when he was about eight years old. She got bigger faster than Nate got stronger, and so I inherited Amy. It was admittedly a disaster adoption from the start. I had one wish during that time: I wanted to train my children better than I trained that dog.

But yesterday this all changed with the arrival of Pearl and Oyster. I think this is as Australian as our farm gets, and most likely the next posts concerning animals will revert back to the more traditional bovine and poultry.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Lake Minnewaska and Lake Awosting

Nathaniel, Hannah and I enjoyed a long afternoon hike in the Shwangunks with our friends, Nicholas, Natalie and Emily. We hiked a loop in Minnewaska State Park from Lake Minnewaska to Lake Awosting. The weather was beautiful. Blue skies and puffy white clouds graced the sky. Minnewaska State Park is among the most beautiful state parks I have visited. Striking views of rock cuts and the valley were plentiful along the 7-mile trail.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

The Long-Awaited Project

The Yellow Barn roof has long been in need of repair as a large piece of tin roofing material had been dislodged. The Yellow Barn roof, however, is not easily accessible due to issues of height constraint. Today, however, the problem was solved with a convenient piece of modern technology: a man lift. Nate and Dad rode the lift and made the tin roof seamless, at least for a little while longer. The next big summer thunderstorm will be the test.

Dad and Nate Ascend.

Men at work.