There is an old story about the Christmas Bells ringing in church not when the great kings, and people of wealth gave great gifts, but when a poor young boy gave his last pennies.

It is easy to give when your cup runneth over, and those gifts are important as they can help many people, but they are easily given when you have much.  The greatest gifts are those that are hard to give, giving your coat when you could freeze, your last dollar to someone in need, gifts that are hard to give!

Stefanie and I choose this gift not because we can afford to, but because we can!  Selling this gift could have better suited out families needs.  We could have used the money to catch up on some bills, buy our children better gifts, or put a down payment on a newer truck for myself (my 14 year old GMC has over 250,000 miles, and could die any day).

Several people have called me crazy, asked why we would give such a large gift.   We may have even lost an important supplier because of this gift.  I asked if he would participate, he felt the pigs would be better suited to go to auction so we could pay off our small balance.

The point is that we have the pigs, and there are people who could use the meat to feed their families.  Giving them a better Christmas, with full bellies.  We hope that our gifts goes out into the community, and sparks others to give, what ever they can.  We hope that those many mouths that have been fed go out into the community and give back anyway that they can.

GIFT TWENTY SEVEN:  Christmas Baskets

This gift is our largest!  Collaborated, and given with the help of many organizations, businesses and people.  The impact will also be the biggest of all 35 gifts.

Galway Lions Club

Each year the Galway Lions Club helps to organize Christmas Baskets for families that could use a little help.  They work with local food pantries, and other organizations to pull off this Christmas Eve Tradition.  This year over 90 baskets were given to local families

Six Pasture Raised Pigs

West Wind Acres raises our pigs on pasture, over the last 2 years our herd has grown significantly.  Stefanie and I have been looking for a way to give back in a big way.  What better way than to give some of our meat to those who could use a helping hand.

In late November I loaded 6 of our pigs onto our trailer and took them over to one of our abattoirs.

Root 162 Farm Processing

Jim and Clint of Root 162 Farm Processing, in Root, NY, donated their time and facility to slaughter our 6 pigs.  Jim and Clint spent several hours slaughtering, and eviscerating our 6 pigs.  Then they moved the carcasses into their walk in cooler to chill, and age.

About a week later Roman and I headed out early to pick up their carcasses.  Jim and I split the carcasses into sides, and then bagged and loaded.  About a half hour later we were on our way to Galway, NY for the next step

Bills Dugout

Bills Dugout in Galway, NY, Bill was kind enough to donate the use of his facility to butcher, and freeze the pork from our 6 pasture raised pigs after they were butchered.

Salt & Char Steakhouse

Over the course of several weeks, possibly more than a month, Executive Chef Bradon Reardon, Emily Peterson, and I have been planning this day.  Salt & Char employs many very talented Chefs and butchers.  A couple of their most talented came out to butcher our pigs.

Emily, Nick, and Lauren from Salt & Char Steakhouse  provided the skill and muscle to butcher and package around one thousand pounds of pork.  We spent the better part of a day preparing the kitchen, breaking down, and packaging the pork.

Lauren and I both learned a ton for both Emily and Nick who are seasoned butchers.

Delivery

We delivered a good amount of our pork to The Greater Galway Food Pantry, and a box to a friend who has had a hard year.

On Christmas Eve I arrived at Bill’s Dugout, along with a few young gentleman who donated their time to help.  We loaded around 900 pounds of pork, and delivered to The West Charlton Presbyterian Church.  Upon arrival we were greeted by a wonderful group of volunteers from the community who swiftly unloaded the van, and got back to work preparing Christmas Baskets that would be delivered later in the morning.

 

35 Gifts

November 28 holds a special place in our home.  It is the day our Angel came into our world.  Alyena May was born on November 28, 2011.  Alyena spent 14 days in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Albany Medical Center, before coming

home under Hospice Care where she was with us for 21 day.  On the evening of January 1, 2012 Alyena passed away in the comfort of her Godmothers arms, surrounded by close friends, and family.

Her life on earth may have been short, that didn’t stop her from making a huge impact.  She brought our community together, our family closer, and taught us all how precious life is.

Each of Alyena’s 35 days with us was a gift.  A gift of love, compassion, beauty, sorrow, and grief.  In Alyena’s honor and in the spirit of community we are starting a tradition of 35 gifts.  Each day from November 28th through January 1st a gift will be given, they will range from small to grand, each will be given mindfully.  Our daily gifts will be recorded here.

I hope you choose to join me in #35 gifts.  If you feel compelled share what you have given.