Tuesday, February 9, 2016

The Orchard - Winter 2016 - Fruit Tree Pruning

January rolled around, and although I got a bit of a late start, it was time to get out and prune the fruit trees! This year, I needed to do all of the ones older than probably a year or two at most, whereas last year I only did the biggest ones.

Here is what it looked like before:

Winter 2016 Orchard Pruning Before

And then, after about three weeks of getting out there in the mornings, here is the after picture. I hacked them up quite a bit...hopefully didn't overdo it:

Winter 2016 Orchard Pruning After

And here are some of the leftovers, which I think once dried out will make good kindling for the wood burning stove!

Winter 2016 Orchard Pruning Leftover Branches

There are obviously many spiritual teachings and lessons in the Bible that are agrarian based, including trees and taking care of them. While in pruning the tree is cut back, it is a necessary process for the success of the tree. It is the same spiritually, and the Lord prunes the trees of our hearts, which is often painful, but necessary for His fruit to come forth. I mention more in detail about this spiritual example in last year's pruning blog post, and I encourage you to take a look at it.

We are thankful for God's lessons in His word, and to be able to experience them and better understand them when actually living the "types" (or physical realities) of the "antitypes" (or spiritual fulfillment of them). And we pray the Lord might grant the increase from the bearing trees this year, in accordance with His will, as we pray He bring forth His fruit in our lives!

-- David

Monday, February 1, 2016

The Barn - Update IV - The Loft - Update II

It's been some time since I've done some work on the barn loft, and I had new materials waiting in the wings for 8-10 months, but finally, I recently started adding a new section!

Since the end of the previous section had full 2x10 inch (the size of the joists) cross blocks in place, the plan was to use 2x4 inch boards to cross block new sections next to the full-sized cross blocks:

Barn Loft Next Joist and Cross Block

And here are the next seven joists in place:

Barn Loft Next Floor Joists in Place

Another View of Barn Loft Next Floor Joists in Place

I thought it best to work my way out from the previously-built section without blocking and attaching the far end of the new joists so that I could square the joists with the plywood flooring as I went. Also, I used a bar clamp to pull together and straighten the torqued joists:

Adding Barn Loft Floor Joist Cross Pieces Using a Clamp

And here's the first line of cross blocks:

First New Barn Loft Cross Pieces in Place

I also added an extra 2x4 board behind the first joist to just give a little more support under plywood that would extend past the joist next to the barn wall:

Extra Barn Loft Back Joist Suporrt

And here is the section completed with the materials I had, including the second line of 2x4 cross blocks and the far 2x10 cross blocks in place. I decided not to attach that far end to the beam yet to continue to try to make sure the floor stays square as I Lord willing add more plywood over time. This is where our new guest Trina spends the nights :) :

Next Barn Loft 8 Foot Section in Place with Plywood Flooring

As always, we are thankful to God for granting provisions to continue on the homestead!

-- David

Monday, January 25, 2016

BarnBNB - Trina the Turkey

One day, what we thought was probably a wild turkey just showed up around the homestead. It just started hanging out like it had always been here...moved into the barn at night, and ended up staying around. We didn't really know what to make of it.

Well, after some research, we believe it's a she, and that she is a Black Turkey — a heritage breed, which makes sense because of its friendliness. Where it came from we don't know, but unless we discover an owner, we've decided to keep her, as there is a person in the general area that has what we think are the same breed, and so we're planning on looking into seeing if we can get her a mate!

And, we decided to call her Trina...Trina the Turkey. :)

Here is a video of our story thus far with her, from introduction day to various times of her interaction with the homestead!

We're thankful for the new visitor, and we pray the Lord direct us as to what He would have for us with her, if anything.

-- David

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Compressed Paper Bricks - Update I

When I wrote the blog post about making compressed paper bricks, I mentioned that it will be interesting to see how they work.

So, we've tried them, and here is a video of the results!


And here's our stack of them:

Stack of Compressed Paper Bricks

Thanks again to the Lord for the idea, and His continued provisions, both spiritually and temporily.

-- David

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

A House - Update XXXIX - Bedroom Windows & Doors, Great Room/Kitchen Siding, Wall Passthrough Electricity, & Homemade Amish Hat Rack

We're thankful to the Lord to be able to continue on the house! Thanks again to those who are helping make this possible, and thanks to Robert for his help!

The plan always was to seal in the bedroom so we could run separate heat in there, with the idea of using fewer resources for when we are sleeping, rather than trying to keep the whole house warm just so the bedroom is. And so, we added the doors:

To the library:

Bedroom Library Door

To the closet:

Bedroom Closet Door

And to the bathroom:

Bedroom Bathroom Door

And then we put in the bedroom internal windows:

Bedroom Internal Windows

Then, it was more great room/kitchen siding, which are now finished!

Great Room Back Siding

More Great Room Back Siding

Great Room North Siding

Great Room East Siding

Electricity Through the Wall

Up until recently, we've had an extension cord running from our camper going through two slightly opened windows wrapped around the wall frame between the two windows, and we've had towels tucked in the openings to keep out the weather. Well, we recently discovered cold air was coming in between the sliding and permanent glass in the middle of the two windows. We put some towels there also to try to get by, but only until I could figure a way to pass the electricity through the wall.

In looking online, the only similar male to female things I could find were for RVs and were very expensive. So, I set out to see if I could figure out something a lot less costly...

Here is the metal, external wall plate with holes drilled through using the smallest bit I have:

External Electricity Wall Plate

And then L brackets attached, which will hold the male receptacle ends:

External Electricity Wall with L Brackets

Here are the male receptacles and some foam seals:

Electricity Male Ends with Seals

And in place on the metal wall plate:

Electricity Male End on Wall Plate Showing Seal

I attached the wire, which was just a 3-wire extension cord I cut a piece from, to the back of the male receptacle:

Wire Attached to Electricity Male End

And put the male receptacle back together:

Electricity Male End Wired

And here is the male end of the passthrough:

External Electricity Male Receptacle Complete

I then cut a hole in the internal siding and cut out a square to fit the electrical bracket box that the female receptacle attaches to:

Drilling Hole Through Wall Through Cut Out Square in Internal Wall

And here is the hole on the external OSB wall:

External Electricity Wall Hole

And the square cut out:

External Electricity Wall Square Cut Out

And then the male end and wires through the hole:

Wires Through External Electricity Wall Cut Out

And then the whole male receptacle installed and calked:

External Electricity Male Receptacle in Place

And here are the wires coming through on the inside:

Wires Coming Through the Wall

And through the bracket box:

Wires Through Box Bracket

I originally attached the two wire sets to the top and bottom of the female receptacle, but thankfully discovered that without having the current coming directly in the top one but only the bottom one, the top female outlet was still active! Well, that would have been something if I had plugged in another active cord into the top one while the bottom one was plugged in. Thanks to God for letting me find that beforehand. And so, apparently I only needed to wire in the one set of wires to one of the female receptacles to make both outlets active, and then I just taped up the not used wire, keeping it there in case it was ever needed:

Taped Up Not Needed Extra Wire

And here is the female receptacle in place:

Female Electricity Receptacle in Place

And the cover plate:

Internal Electricity Wall Plate in Place

Then, I plugged in the extension cord to the outside:

External Electricity Plugged In

Et voila! Power on the inside!

Extension Cord Inside Showing Power

And now, we can close both those windows completely to help keep the place warmer.

Homemade Amish Hat Rack

With the great room siding done, I really wanted a place for the men to be able to hang their hats when visiting, and so I set out to make something quick but useful for the larger sized Amish hats we wear.

And here's what I came up with. Had to angle the backings to be able to fit on the wall as I hadn't measured the wall width beforehand, but it worked not too badly:

Extension Cord Inside Showing Power

Extension Cord Inside Showing Power

Again, we are grateful to the Lord for allowing the continued work on the house!

-- David

Friday, January 8, 2016

Garden - Winter 2016 - Mini-Greenhouses

Sue came across this article about sowing seeds in the winter using mini-greenhouses out of milk cartons or two-liter soda bottles (or anything similar). Once again, this is the kind of idea I like: easy to do and inexpensive, assuming you have the containers, which we do, from the club soda we like to drink. :) The nice thing about these too is that the seedlings are apparently already hardened!

And so, I obtained some seeds for vegetables that apparently can grow in the winter -- cabbage, broccoli, beats and peas -- and started making our little greenhouses...

After removing the label, I drilled 1/8 inch holes in the very bottom:

Drilling Bottom Hole in Club Soda Bottle

And also up about 3/4-1 inch, all to try to make sure water can flow through so it does not sit and rot the seeds and roots:

Drilling Upper Hole in Club Soda Bottle

Then, I made a starter slice in the side, and cut around, leaving maybe 2 1/2 inches uncut for the bend:

Making Side Slice

Cutting Around the Bottle

Finished Mini-Greenhouse Opened Up

And then, it was off to the garden. Here is one with the soil in it, and then set in place in the mulch garden bed:

Soil in Mini-Greenhouse

Mini-Greenhouse Set in Garden Mulch Bed

And here are the first results!

First Mini-Greenhouse Seedling Sprouts

And finally, this is where we are as of yesterday morning:

Garden with Many Mini-Greenhouses

And those same first sprouts! They even survived the snow we recently had:

First Seedlings Growing Some More

Excellent! Thanks to the Lord for granting the germination and seedling growth!

Many of the seeds have sprouted, so we'll have to see how this progresses through the winter, as God might grant.

We are thankful to Him for being able to work to grow our own food, and new and creative ideas, and we pray He might indeed grant provisions from the garden, in accordance with His will!

-- David