First, some recent Sassy banking tales are in order.
We were dropping off something at the bank, using the drive-through, with Sassy's favorite teller smiling at her. Sassy got a treat immediately. Mrs. Ichabod and I were talking to the teller when Sassy let out her loudest bark. The teller stood up at attention, saluted, and gave Sassy a second treat. We laughed and Sassy got her third treat. She grins when we talk about her.
Soon I was at the bank again, with Sassy in the back seat behind me. She thinks we bank for treats, so I had her window lowered as I drove up, always using the bank's window rather than a remote post. Sassy watched carefully and let out her command bark - right into the bank's speaker. Everyone inside jumped, including the new male teller.
I watched him as he solemnly took the deposit, filled out the slip, and came back. He could not stop smiling when he said, "Your dog is so smart, she is getting two treats."
Sassy and I dropped off Mrs. I at the chiropractor's today. We headed down to Lowe's, where Sassy has always been welcome. The outside entrance to the garden center was closed, so we had to go back and forth, with Sassy on a leash, to get the straw ordered and paid for. Someone began chatting up Sassy, so our dog let out her happy bark, several times.
Our helper's wife has promoted the happy bark, and it really fits Sassy. But this time several Lowe's suits--or rather tool-belts--came over to have Sassy removed. I was curious. She was always welcome before. However, FDA inspectors were there when a dog barked, so they fined Lowe's. They were quite nice and let me continue with the idea we were leaving after paying for the straw. Sassy became very quiet until another lady walked over to greet her. Big yelp! That scared the lady away, which was probably good for us.
I ordered six straw bales, which cost $6 each, but there is a lot of difference between bagged mulch and straw bales barely held together with string. They stuffed two into the trunk and one into the front seat, getting straw everywhere. We labored home and went back for the last three, which went in faster since the mess was already there.
The New Straw Bale Garden
Our helper came over, warned that straw bales would be arriving by Lincoln Town Car. He was impressed. "I never knew about this. I am learning all the time."
The idea is to lay them on a weed barrier (please, not landscaper's cloth or plastic - only a paper or cardboard product). The bales are soaked for two weeks to get the decomposition going. One site had the gardener adding all kinds of fertilizer and "soil" amendments. I find those directions to be odd, bizarre, and counter-productive. However, God can make things grow in spite of us.
The key events will be
- the growth of fungus, which feeds roots, and
- the invasion of soil creatures, who capture and fix nutrients in the growth zone.
My main interest is growing and harvesting potatoes with ease. I will try some strawberries and use the idea of growing small flowers from the sides of the bales.
If this works out well, I will double the bales next year. And if not, I will have a lot of compost this year.
God's Creation in the Straw Bales
Notice that all I have to do is put straw bales on top of soil to have an elevated garden, almost instantly. The reasons are plain. The creatures are designed to do this work and will do it whenever given the opportunity.
Straw is dead plant material, just waiting for water to speed up its inevitable decomposition. Soil creatures are opportunistic, looking for food even while serving as food. When the straw stops heating up, earthworms will wiggle up and provide even more benefits to the work of the fungi, bacteria, and protozoa.
So I continue to marvel that ordained clergy can ignore the same kind of work in the broadcasting of the Word of God. His Promises are attached to the Spirit at work in the Word, and they will affect the recipients, whether they listen and believe or harden their hearts against it.
Like the seed that falls to the ground, the Word will take root and grow, multiply, and provide for generations to come.
Man's wisdom about spiritual matters (entertain, set goals, raise lots of money) is very much like bad gardening advice. Enough of it will kill plants in gardening and murder souls in church work. Rose fertilizer (made special for your roses) killed my aunt's roses, because her husband doubled the dose.
The Church Shrinkers will not tell their denominations how many congregations they have closed, how many they have divided and polarized. They will never admit to murdering souls, which is their main work. How could they tell, since they have no faith? They are the seed fallen by the wayside and plucked up by birds.
Luther knows all about these people:
II. THE DISCIPLES OF THIS WORD.
2. The first class of disciples are those who hear the Word but neither understand nor esteem it. And these are not the mean people in the world, but the greatest, wisest and the most saintly, in short they are the greatest part of mankind; for Christ does not speak here of those who persecute the Word nor of those who fail to give their ear to it, but of those who hear it and are students of it, who also wish to be called true Christians and to live in Christian fellowship with Christians and are partakers of baptism and the Lord’s Supper. But they are of a carnal heart, and remain so, failing to appropriate the Word of God to themselves, it goes in one ear and out the other. Just like the seed along the wayside did not fall into the earth, but remained lying on the ground in the wayside, because the road was tramped hard by the feet of man and beast and it could not take root.
3. Therefore Christ says the devil cometh and taketh away the Word from their heart, that they may not believe and be saved. What power of Satan this alone reveals, that hearts, hardened through a worldly mind and life, lose the Word and let it go, so that they never understand or confess it; but instead of the Word of God Satan sends false teachers to tread it under foot by the doctrines of men. For it stands here written both that it was trodden under foot, and the birds of the heaven devoured it. The birds Christ himself interprets as the messengers of the devil, who snatch away the Word and devour it, which is done when he turns and blinds their hearts so that they neither understand nor esteem it, as St. Paul says in 2 Timothy 4:4: “They will turn away their ears from the truth, and turn aside unto fables.” By the treading under foot of men Christ means the teachings of men, that rule in our hearts, as he says in Matthew 5:13 also of the salt that has lost its savor, it is cast out and trodden under foot of men; that is, as St. Paul says in 2 Thessalonians 2:11, they must believe a lie because they have not been obedient to the truth.
4. Thus all heretics, fanatics and sects belong to this number, who understand the Gospel in a carnal way and explain it as they please, to suit their own ideas, all of whom hear the Gospel and yet they bear no fruit, yea, more, they are governed by Satan and are harder oppressed by human institutions than they were before they heard the Word. For it is a dreadful utterance that Christ here gives that the devil taketh away the Word from their hearts, by which he clearly proves that the devil rules mightily in their hearts, notwithstanding they are called Christians and hear the Word.
Likewise it sounds terribly that they are to be trodden under foot, and must be subject unto men and to their ruinous teachings, by which under the appearance and name of the Gospel the devil takes the Word from them, so that they may never believe and be saved, but must be lost forever; as the fanatical spirits of our day do in all lands. For where this Word is not, there is no salvation, and great works or holy lives avail nothing, for with this, that he says: “They shall not be saved,” since they have not the Word, he shows forcibly enough, that not their works but their faith in the Word alone saves, as Paul says to the Romans: “It is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth.” Romans 1:16.
Garlic, Roses, Spinach, and Bulbs
Garlic cloves have shot up above the soil level, growing from the late fall planting in 2014. Spinach is still tiny but green. I cannot brag about them surviving all the cold, snow, and ice, because we had none. I still have a bag of snow-melt in the trunk and a brand new snow shovel.
One rose bush has already come out of dormancy and grown a leaf. The canes are greening up. Bulb flowers are just starting to send leaves into the sun, pumping up my gardening self-esteem.
Today we cleaned up a lot of twigs and branches that fell from the maple last winter.