Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Hogs, Hogs on the Range - Update I

I had originally made an extended area from the pig pen for our pigs to be able to roam more using a solar powered electric fence system. This worked well for a couple of years, but then started to not work, and the pigs would just go under the wire. I even tried stringing a ground wire between the two hot wires, but that didn't work either. I have a feeling the ground became too dry to conduct well, but I'm not sure what the root cause really was. And so, between that and having to eventually and continually replace the battery on the solar charger, I figured I need to try to do something differently.

I went through several ideas in my head, like rock walls, or goat fencing, but time and costs are issues. Eventually, given we had a whole bunch of cinder blocks left over from the original plan for our root cellar/storm shelter, which didn't work out, and discovering that 16-foot, 50-inch high cattle panels are only $20 a piece, I thought I could end up with about 30 feet of fairly solid fence line for not too much expense. Plus, I figured that if it didn't work, we wouldn't be out too much. And, I could build them in sections, so that I could slowly extend the pig free-range area as I had time and resources to build fence sections.

And here's how it went...

I cut the cattle panel longways down the middle, and then into about half sections but where no panel horizontals were sticking out:

Pig fence cattle panel cut in pieces

And then I set up the cinder blocks and set the cattle panel piece in place, leaving one section open, which will be an overlap section where I can wire two sections together, although one of the sections would need to not have overhang so it could butt up against the pig pen fencing:

Pig fence piece in place on cinder blocks

It just sort of worked about fairly nicely, except on the last cinder block, I needed one with a groove for the cinder blocks to position evenly:

Cattle panel placed in cinder block groove

Then I set the 3-foot t-posts in place and wire them to the panel. I really was hoping that I didn't mess this part up because Foreman William was there inspecting!

3-foot t-posts wired to cattle panel

And then it was time to pour in the concrete. I mixed in dirt so I'd use less, although I think I mixed in too much because the concrete above the top of the cinder blocks ended up a little crumbly. Being they were in the sun and it was quite warm that first afternoon, I needed to keep the concrete moist and had to hand-tamp any cracks:

Pig fence piece concreted in cinder blocks

Also, if I had left over concrete after a fence section was poured, I made small concrete piles that would fit in the hole of a cinder block that I could use for the next fence section:

Small concrete piles for next pig fence section

And here are the four sections complete:

4 pig fence sections complete

I built them over by the barn so I was nearer equipment, but that meant I needed to get them over to the pig pen. And then I thought that I could place a board across our goat shed caddy and drag that using the truck. And here are the fence sections loaded. I loaded them by setting a board in place in the back, pulling the fence section over the back of the caddy and onto the board, and then sliding the board forward so I could repeat the process for the other sections:

Pig fence sections on shack caddy

And it worked! Here they are, delivered:

Pig fence sections delivered to pig pen

One of the things I wanted with the design was to be able to move the sections myself. Given the difficulty of getting them on the shed caddy, I wasn't sure, but by tipping them over and pulling one side at a time, I was able to slide them into place. Here is the back side:

2 more pig fence sections in place

And in front. I'm still not sure if I'm just going to join the sections in front there or put up some kind of gate. Either way, if we need to back up an animal trailer to that front gate of the pig pen, I figure I can just un-wire the fence sections, and move the sections apart to leave enough room:

2 cattle panel pig fence sections in place

I plan to make at least another set of four sections, although I might need a couple more sections to be able to make a nice enclosed area; and then we should be able to give it a real test by having a small, but not too small, area completely enclosed. I think it's going to work -- hopefully by God's graces it will, and we look forward to seeing the pigs being able to start to roam a little more, Lord willing!

-- David

Monday, March 31, 2014

Providence's Perpetuation Provisions: New Calf "Manolito"

I believe it was the same day Adelina and new heifer calf Graciana walked up to us during feeding time that our cow, Rosa, showed up with her new little bull calf! When they walked up, it was still quite wet; and so we figured it couldn't have been more than a few hours old.

A cold front was just coming in too at the time. After dropping some range cubes, I was walking around trying to get a good look at Rosa's calf, and it started to wander off, slowly, toward the pond. I thought, please don't keep going or you're going to.....and yes, fall in. I ran up, in case it was in trouble, but it bounced out with no problem, although now its whole front end was really soaked. And with a cold front coming in.

But the Lord graciously brought the little guy through, and here he is! We decided to call him Manolito, because he's got so much of the grullo color his sire, Manolete, has. Manolito also means "God is with us" in Spanish:

New Longhorn Bull Calf Manolito

And here's his video with Rosa (which was taken about the same time as the video of Graciana as well, I believe):

We are again grateful to God for the provision of this new bull calf, Him bringing him through the cold front, the Longhorns' continued health, and the fields the Lord has granted us to be able to graze them on.

-- David

Friday, March 21, 2014

David's Digest: Charity and Its Fruits, Part 2

The Lord graciously granted that as a group we finish a study that has been extremely beneficial to me -- Jonathan Edwards "Charity and Its Fruits." I can't tell you how important I believe this study is, and probably something that should be re-studied at times.

We posted the first 8 parts here, and now here are the last 9 parts, part 16 broken up into two parts:

Charity and Its Fruits, by Jonathan Edwards

Chapter 9: The Spirit of Charity the Opposite of an Angry or Wrathful Spirit

Chapter 10: The Spirit of Charity the Opposite of a Censorious Spirit

Chapter 11: All True Grace in the Heart Tends to Holy Practice in the Life

Chapter 12: Charity, or a Christian Spirit, Is Willing to Undergo All Sufferings in the Way of Duty

Chapter 13: All the Graces of Charity Connected

Chapter 14: Charity, or True Grace, Cannot be Overthrown by Opposition

Chapter 15: The Holy Spirit Forever to be Communicated to the Saints in the Grace of Charity, or Divine Love

Chapter 16: Heaven a World of Charity, or Divine Love, Part 1

Chapter 16: Heaven a World of Charity, or Divine Love, Part 2

One thing that stuck out to me was the idea Edwards mentions that a Christian needs not only the LIGHT of truth and understanding, but the HEAT of Christian love in their hearts as well:

From Chapter 1, Charity, or Love, the Sum of all Virtue:
"(1 ) That love is an ingredient in true and saving faith, and is what is most essential and distinguishing in it. Love is no ingredient in a merely speculative faith; but it is the life and soul of a practical faith. A truly practical and saving faith is light and heat together, or light and love. That which is only a speculative, is only light without heat. But in that it wants spiritual heat or divine love, it is vain and good for nothing. A speculative faith consists only in assent; but in a saving faith are assent and consent together. That faith which has only the assent of the understanding is no better faith than the devils have, for the devils have faith so far as it can be without love. The devils believe and tremble. Now the true spiritual consent of the heart cannot be distinguished from the love of the heart. He whose heart consents to Christ as a Savior loves Christ under that notion, viz. of a Savior. For the heart sincerely to consent to the way of salvation by Christ cannot be distinguished from loving the way of salvation by Christ. There is an act of choice or election in true and saving faith, whereby the soul chooses Christ for its Savior, and accepts and embraces him as such. But as was observed before, election whereby it chooses God and Christ is one act of love. It is a love of choice. In the soul's embracing Christ as a Savior there is love."

We somewhat recently had a small ice storm roll through here, and when the sun shone again, and the ice started melting, I thought it was an interesting example of what happens when the heat of Christian love, from the Sun of Righteousness (Mal 4:2), is there:

The verse I mention in the video is 1 Cor 1:8: "Now as touching things offered unto idols, we know that we all have knowledge. Knowledge puffeth up, but charity edifieth.

Here is Puritan commentator John Gill on that verse:
Now as touching things offered unto idols
This was another of the things the Corinthians wrote to the apostle about, desiring to have his judgment in; it was a controversy that had been before moved, whether it was lawful to eat things that had been sacrificed to idols. This was considered in the council at Jerusalem, ( Acts 15:28 Acts 15:29 ) and it was agreed to, for the peace of the churches, that the Gentiles, among other things, be advised to abstain from them; which, it seems, the church at Corinth knew nothing of, for the controversy was now moved among them: some that were weak in the faith, and had not, at least, clear notions of Gospel liberty, thought it very criminal and sinful to eat them; others that had, or boasted they had, more knowledge, would not only eat them privately at home, having bought them of the Heathen priests, or in the common meat markets, where they were exposed to sale, and at public feasts, to which they were invited by their friends; but would even go into an idol's temple, and sit and eat them there, to the great grief and prejudice of weak Christians; and what they had to plead in their own defence was their knowledge, to which the apostle here replies:

we know that we all have knowledge;
said either affirmatively and seriously; and the meaning is, that the apostles and other Christians knew, and were conscious to themselves of their light and knowledge, and were assured, and might affirm with confidence, that they all, or the most part, only some few excepted, see ( 1 Corinthians 8:7 ) had the same knowledge of Christian liberty as they had; knew that an idol was nothing, and that eating meats offered to them could not defile, or do them any hurt; for they were very sensible there was nothing common or unclean of itself, and yet did not think fit to make use of their knowledge to the grieving and wounding of their fellow Christians: or else this is said ironically, we are wise folks; you particularly are men of knowledge, and wisdom will die with you; you know that you know; you are very knowing in your own conceits, and very positive as to your knowledge. It was the saying of Socrates, that that this one thing he knew, that he knew nothing; but men wise in their own opinions know everything:

knowledge puffeth up;
not true knowledge; not that which comes from above, which is gentle and easy to be entreated; not sanctified knowledge, or that which has the grace of God going along with it; that makes men humble, and will not suffer them to be puffed up one against another; but a mere show of knowledge, knowledge in conceit, mere notional and speculative knowledge, that which is destitute of charity or love:

but charity edifieth;
that is, a man that has knowledge, joined with love to God, and his fellow Christians, will seek for that which makes for the edification of others; and without this all his knowledge will be of no avail, and he himself be nothing.

And of course, in the 1 Corinthians 13 text we're studying, vs 2: "And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing."

All of these examples show, and Edwards says it directly, that it's possible to have light -- even true doctrine -- without the Spirit savingly being there (like the devils that believe and tremble), as the sun can shine while everything remains frozen. But we know His Spirit is in our hearts by His fruit, summed up in Christian charity, being in hearts as well, evidencing itself as charity does, in the ways the Scriptures mention, and Edwards expounds upon, here in 1 Corinthians 13. This is why I believe this sermon series is so critical.

May the Lord grant us His light and heat, and we pray He mix His charity, in all of its forms, in all of our hearts, thoughts, words and actions, for His glory.

-- David

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Providence's Perpetuation Provisions: New Calf "Graciana"

The third calf we discovered in this year's round of breeding was one from a heifer we've had for several years but hadn't given birth before. But now, that heifer is a cow, as she did indeed give birth to her own little heifer, which we're going to call Graciana, which means "pleasing, agreeable" in Spanish.

And here she is with her mama, Adelina!

New Longhorn heifer calf Graciana

And a little video of the two of them:

Again, we are very grateful to the Lord for granting this new little provision, and for granting an especially safe first delivery, a delivery at all, and good motherly instincts to Adelina.

-- David

Friday, February 28, 2014

David's Digest: Entitlement

A few years ago, Mr. Bunker had mentioned something about being careful about not having a sense of entitlement. I hadn't really ever considered that, and started to really ponder how I might be having a sense of entitlement.

What am I entitled to in this life?

As a sinner, I'm entitled to the wages of my sin: death (Rom 6:23) -- physical, spiritual and eternal.

One of the first things I remember where I really saw it in myself was during the drought summer. It was day after day of relentless 100+ degree F heat. It was difficult, and I found myself murmuring about it.

I've always struggled when any of the animals we have die, as I talked about several years ago in this blog post, although it seems the Lord has granted some graces since then in this area.

Last year, when some things were being taken that I felt shouldn't, I reacted extremely carnally toward the people, confronting them angrily, yelling at them. I felt badly about it that night and asked God to forgive me for that, and for besmirching His name and the group, and the next day I apologized to those involved, and my reaction was disgusting to me.

But my reaction really got me examining myself. Am I entitled to any temporal thing, as if God owes me something? Comfort, a place to live, the animals, shelter, money, a family, successful gardens or crops (even if I do all of the right things with them), good health, nourishment from our daily bread (which is one reason we say meal blessings, and as a type of asking for nourishment from spiritual food) next heartbeat.......anything?

And then something clicked. I have been seeing things from my carnal, in-the-moment vantage point, and not seeing them as God sees them. I have been holding on to things temporal, when in reality everything is His to do with as He pleases, in any way He wants; every temporal thing around me is really just a fleeting vapor in time; whatever He is doing -- in the temporal or spiritual realms -- is for His glory and the benefit of His Church. And I saw my sense of entitlement.

And a sense of entitlement inevitably leads to ungratefulness.

In the end, am I really entitled to anything temporal? Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness? How would that be answered in light of the Christian martyrs? Or with regards to those who have spent year after year after year in prison for Christ's sake? How about all the times He allowed His people to come under bondage? If temporal freedom is an entitlement to man from God, and since God is all-powerful and sovereign over all, then it would seem to me that it follows that God would have failed in supplying man's just due, thus making Him unjust, which obviously cannot be.

Am I my own? As Jonathan Edwards mentioned in "Charity and Its Fruits," I am not my own -- God owns me, and in each situation, I am due worse because of sin, and anything better than that is a grace and mercy from our Creator.

Am I entitled to things going "my way"? ANY thing to go "my way"? To go according to my expectations? I believe God is the only One entitled to such, and it also seems to me any sense of expecting things to go how I want them (ie. entitlement) is putting myself as god. Plus, even my best thoughts on how things should go are going to be tainted with sin, so why should I put any trust in them? Why shouldn't I put my trust in Him who is all knowing, all wise, all good, all righteous, and all holy?

Is anything actually "mine"? Everything is God's; and so, if anything is "taken from me," even unjustly, it is by God's sovereign will they were, for His glory. And so, there is nothing supporting any sense of entitlement to anything that I might think is mine, which is really only God putting it under my care for whatever time-span He deems right.

How about Job? First, by God's decree, "his" things were taken from him, one might say "unjustly" (ie. not for anything specific he did). But second, Elihu upbraided him for justifying himself more than justifying God and His providence -- see Puritan commentator John Gill's commentary on Job 32:2, and then read the entire exchange between God and Job, and Job's eventual responses (including his first response, which wasn't good enough for God), in Job 32-42. The irony is that denying God's justice in anything, even perceived injustices, is charging God with injustice.

Further, while I should observe Luke 6:31, "And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise", am I entitled to receive the same from others? What did the Lord Jesus, who actually *was* entitled to all glory, honor and respect, face here on earth?
Matt 22:15 - "Then went the Pharisees, and took counsel how they might entangle him in his talk.

Ps 56:5-6 - "5 Every day they wrest my words: all their thoughts are against me for evil. 6 They gather themselves together, they hide themselves, they mark my steps, when they wait for my soul."

Matt 26:14,16 - "14 Then one of the twelve, called Judas Iscariot, went unto the chief priests,...16 And from that time he sought opportunity to betray him."

Luke 19:47 - "And he taught daily in the temple. But the chief priests and the scribes and the chief of the people sought to destroy him,"

Matt 27:20 - "But the chief priests and elders persuaded the multitude that they should ask Barabbas, and destroy Jesus."
And then they murdered Him (Acts 2:22-24).

If I want to follow Christ, here's what I can expect, and what's expected of me, since the servant is not above his master (Matt 10:24; Gill on Matt 10:24):
Luke 9:23 - "And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me."

John Gill says "that afflictions, trials, and persecutions of one sort or another, are to be expected every day by the people of God, and to be continually submitted to, and borne with cheerfulness." (emphasis added); and we learn that Christ even grew in the exercise of graces through His sufferings (Heb 5:8).

And then I ask for Jehovah God to help me wait on Him, in His perfect will, with strength of heart and courage (Ps 27:11-14), and be still and know that He is God (Ps 46).

Finally and briefly, am I entitled to salvation or God's graces just because I say a prayer? To enlightenment from His word just because I read it? To the means of grace (the Bible, in my own language; teachings; etc.) themselves? These are all of grace, although I can and should indeed ask for them (for example, asking God for spiritual nourishment from our daily spiritual bread).

Anything I have has been sovereignly given to me out of pure grace and mercy from the Lord of all creation, all for His glory and in some way for the good of His Church (Rom 8:28; see Gill on this verse too), and I believe myself individually to be generally inconsequential in the matter.

I pray the Lord have mercy on me a sinner (Luke 18:13). I pray for forgiveness for my sense of entitlement and unthankfulness, and pray God grants me repentance from those, and help against them. May we see things as God sees them, and not hold on to anything in the temporal; may we pick up our cross daily, cheerfully, deny ourselves, and follow the Lord Christ; may He grant help in the cross-bearing; may we be thankful for His help and any graces He mercifully grants; and may He grant that His grace be sufficient for us:
2 Cor 12: 9 - "And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me."

And he said unto me
Either by what the Jews call (lwq) (tb) , "Bath Kol", a voice from heaven, an articulate audible one; or by some extraordinary revelation of the Spirit of God; or by a divine impression upon his mind; whereby he was assured of what follows,

my grace is sufficient for thee;
the Lord always hears and answers his people sooner or later, in one form or another, though not always in the way and manner they desire; but yet in such a way as is most for his glory and their good: the apostle had not his request granted, that Satan might immediately depart from him, only he is assured of a sufficiency of grace to support him under the exercise, so long as it should last. There seems to be an allusion to the word (ydv) , "Shaddai", an appellation of God, ( Genesis 17:1 ) , and signifies, "which is sufficient": for God is all sufficient, and is a name that belongs to the Messiah. The angel whom God promised to the Israelites, to go before them in the wilderness, ( Exodus 23:23 ) , the Jews say is "Metatron" (which is a corruption of the word "mediator"), whose name is as the name of his master. "Metatron" by gematry is "Shaddai, one that is sufficient": however, certain it is, that the grace of Christ is alone sufficient for all his people, to all saving purposes, in all their times of need. It is alone sufficient, not to the exclusion of the grace of the Father or the Spirit; but in opposition and distinction to anything else, that may be rightly or wrongly called grace; what men generally call common or sufficient grace, which, they say, is given to all men, is a mere chimera; no grace is sufficient but what is effectual, and that is only the grace of Christ: the light of nature is insufficient to any saving purpose; the Gospel, which is called grace, and is the means of grace, is insufficient of itself to salvation, without the powerful and efficacious grace of Christ going along with it; and so are gifts, whether ordinary or extraordinary: nothing short of the grace of Christ is sufficient grace; and this is sufficient for all the elect of God, Jews and Gentiles, Old and New Testament saints, the family in heaven and in earth, the people of God that are already called, and are to be called, and for the worst and vilest of sinners; and it is sufficient to all saving purposes, to the acceptance of their persons before God, to their justification in his sight, to their pardon and cleansing, to their regeneration and sanctification, to the supply of all their wants, and to their perseverance in grace unto glory; and it is sufficient in all their times of need, in times of bodily affliction, of violent persecution, soul desertion, Satan's temptations, and at the hour of death, and in the day of judgment. The reason given to support this answer, and to strengthen the apostle's faith in it, is,

for my strength is made perfect in weakness;
by the "strength" of Christ is meant, not his strength as the mighty God, but that communicative strength which he has, and is in him as Mediator, and which saints look to him for, and receive from him; this is "made perfect in" their "weakness"; not that their weakness can add perfection to his strength, for his strength is perfect in itself, not to say anything of the contradiction such a sense carries in it; but the meaning is, that the strength of Christ is made to appear, is illustrated and shines forth in its perfection and glory, in supplying, supporting, and strengthening his people under all their weakness; and if they were not left to some weaknesses in themselves, his strength would not be so manifest; see ( James 2:22 ) . The answer to the apostle's request, supported with this reason, was wonderfully satisfactory to him; wherefore he concludes,

most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities;
in the weaknesses which attended either his body or soul, through the buffetings of the angel Satan, rather than in his visions and revelations; or rather than insist upon his departure from him, he is content things should be as they were, since he had such a promise of a sufficiency of grace to bear him up, under and through whatever was the pleasure of God concerning him; and since the strength of Christ was made illustrious through his weakness, so that Satan was not able to make any advantage over him, he is willing to remain in the same posture and condition:

that the power of Christ,
says he,

may rest upon me,
or "tabernacle over me"; he considered himself as a poor weak feeble creature, and the power of Christ as a tabernacle over him, as the power of God is represented as a garrison about the believer, ( 1 Peter 1:5 ) , sheltering, preserving, and protecting him from the insults of Satan, in every form and shape; see ( Isaiah 4:6 ) , where Christ is said to be a tabernacle, for a place of refuge, and for a covert.


-- David

Friday, February 21, 2014

Providence's Perpetuation Provisions: New Calf "Domingo"

With the new Longhorn calves starting to be born now, the next one I saw was a little brown one walking up with our cow, Holga. After further examination, we discovered he was a bull calf as well; and so, please allow us to introduce you to our next pure Longhorn bull calf, Domingo, which means "belongs to the Lord" in Spanish.

Here he is, with his dam, Holga. You might recognize him from Donato's video in the last blog post:

New pure Longhorn bull calf Domingo

And here's his video:

Again, we are very grateful to the Lord for granting the safe delivery for both mama-cow and calf, and us this new little provision!

-- David

Friday, February 14, 2014

Providence's Perpetuation Provisions: New Calf "Donato"

After selling a lot of the herd after the drought in 2011 and because of them eating down the land, we stopped breeding our cattle. But we decided to start breeding them again last year, and apparently it has become that time! The first calf we saw was from our cow Ami maybe 10-11 days ago, a little bull calf; and so, let us introduce to you Donato, which in Spanish means "given by God"!

New Texas Longhorn Bull Calf donato

And here is a video of him:

We're very grateful to the Lord for granting us the provisions to keep the herd going, including graciously granting some other land close by for us to graze them, and now for this new little extra gift from Providence!

-- David