About two years ago we noticed a stray cat going under the big wood pile that we have in our back yard. She seemed rather pregnant and soon we could hear little mewings coming from deep within the wood pile. That mother cat became a very cunning and successful huntress in order to live and provide milk for her growing kittens. Soon we would see 4 little kittens come cautiously out into the warm sun but at the slightest movement or unknown sound they would disappear into their home deep within the wood pile.

Another family was being formed high in the Paracantha Tree just outside our bedroom window. After busily helping to build the nest the father Mocking Bird would sing his heart out to his lady love who was incubating their four blue spotted eggs. From time to time he, in his joyous exuberance, would fly straight into the air about 10 feet and come down singing louder than ever. We enjoyed his delightful song which we could hear, even on moonlight nights, far into the night.

As his family hatched he became very defensive and hard working to feed and care for the tiny chicks. One morning I saw the cat meandering across the front yard. Suddenly a streak of white and Grey came out of the sky and hit the cat's head in a passing dive. That Mocking Bird dove again and again each time actually picking the cat on the head with great force with it's sharp beak. The cat at first tried to maintain it's dignity and continued to walk trying to ignore the angry attacks. After a few of those painful attacks the cat fled to safety under the Forsythia bush. The Mocking Bird sat on the highest limb of the Catalpha Tree waiting for the cat to emerge. He was actually risking his life to drive that huntress away from his precious family.

When I was a boy I was given a big book, Birds of America, and became very interested in identifying the birds their nests and eggs that lived in our area. I had a big collection of eggs and nests, all labeled and displayed, upstairs in a big spare room that we had. I would search far and wide for the different nests and eggs that I lacked in my collection. I had seen some Eagles out east of Dublan and thought there might be a nest in the cliffs on the Wave Mountain east of the Lakes. One day I rode out there on my horse to look for that nest. I climbed up to the base of the cliffs and could see a small cave near the top of the cliff. I saw a Turkey Buzzard leave the cave and soar across the valley looking for food. I didn't have any Buzzard eggs so I climbed up to see what the cave contained. Luck was with me when I looked into the cave I could see two have grown Buzzard chicks but also there was a big buzzard egg that had not hatched. I proceeded to crawl into the cave to get the egg and maybe a little buzzard for a pet. I no sooner started in than those little guys began to hiss and vomited up in front of me a pile of evil smelling rotten meat. Wow! what a powerful revolting stench. My stomach and all of my senses rebelled and I hurriedly backed out of there nearly falling from the cliff in my haste. Those little buzzards were very well trained in their defense of themselves and their home. I am sure that it would drive away most enemies. It even stung my eyes turned my stomach and I began to sweat it was so revolting.

That reminds me of my first encounter with a Skunk. Just at dusk I was coming out of the corral from milking the cow when I saw a little black and white animal mincing along by the fence of the chicken run like it might want to get in after the chickens. I went on into the house and told Dad that there was this little animal trying to get into the chicken run. He said that it must be a Skunk and grabbed the 22 Rifle and proceeded hurriedly out of the house. I followed and we saw the skunk disappearing under the manger in the cow shed. Dad asked me to shine the flashlight under the manger so that he could see. There we could see two glowing eyes and he shot at them. Suddenly a powerful scent assailed us. It was so strong that it stung my eyes and my nose and I started to cough. Dad laughed and said, "that's not so bad besides it's good for your cold".

How can we defend our home and families? Certainly not by disgorging awful smelling meat and we don't have the defense of the skunk. Our defense must be of another kind because our enemy is also very different. We must defend our families from the evils of the world by fortifying their defenses and teaching them how to use them.

I made up this morning a tincture of Echinacea. This herb is reputed to help build up the immune system of our bodies. We take a few drops every morning to keep from catching cold or flu. I might suggest that we can take a few drops of Scripture every morning to build up our immune system against evil thoughts or actions of the day.

Even as the little kittens would scamper to the protection of their home, we can make our homes a refuge of love acceptance and belonging for all of the members of the family by actually loving and accepting them as they are and making them feel that they belong to the family. Our home can be a place to live in and not just a place to be kept nice to show off to the neighbors or visitors.

As I remember back to my childhood and also to when we were raising our family I especially remember the feeling of love and family unity as we gathered around the table for meals together. We would have family prayer kneeling around the table and then the blessing on the food. We even joked about the blessing being a means to give us all an even start. I remember Tracy complaining that he sat in the middle of the table and spent most of his time passing the food from one end of the table to the other. We would talk and joke and sometimes when we would get to laughing Mom would say, "My mother used to say that when you laugh at the table it makes your food digest better". We had plenty of help with our digestion. We never had any trouble getting our children to eat. If they did not like certain things we respected their likes and they did not have to eat it. We always had good healthy well balanced meals and they could choose what they wanted to eat and how much they wanted to eat.

In Spanish there is a saying: "La educación no se enseña se mama". (education is not taught it is nursed). This saying refers to education as politeness or manners. That is true, the best way to teach good manners is to have them absorbed while children are very young from the example and attitudes of the parents and other members of the family.

If we show respect and consideration to all in the family we will receive respect and consideration in return. We treated our children as, what they were to us, our wonderful sons and daughters that we loved and cherished and wanted to help in any way we could.

Naoma and I always liked to be together and share work and experiences so this extended to our children, We wanted us all to be together and share work and experiences. The girls as well as the boys wanted to go with us to work on the ranch and wanted to go with us to the mountains camping and fishing etc. However the girls were not required to take their turn in milking the cows, that was for the boys to develop strong hands and a sense of responsibility. There they learned some very valuable lessons such as how to avoid being hit in the face by a tail covered with fresh manure. In turn how to endure distasteful situations with patience and self discipline.

We were not perfect by any means but I as the father used our home as a place to come home to and find a feeling of peace, love and belonging. Truly a place of refuge where I could love and be loved and enjoy our family.

Our hope is that we helped you, our family to build up your defenses and your immune systems so you can pass what you have learned on to your children and our posterity. You will of course build your own traditions with your own families but we hope that our traditions have helped a little. Especially we hope that in our family you learned to understand the Gospel and feel the joy of living it to the best of your ability.