Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Trina the Turkey Gets Her New Beau Hank

After Trina the Spanish black heritage turkey showed up at our homestead one day, we were hoping to obtain a mate for her, to perhaps breed, but so also she wasn't alone.

Well, it just so happened that Heritage Road Farm , which is fairly close in our region, breeds heritage turkeys! So, we contacted them, and they graciously met us in Brownwood with this tom turkey, which because Ankara is the capital of Turkey, we decided to call Hank!

Hank the Heritage Tom Turkey


And here is a video of the big meet between them!




After this, Hank spent at least a couple of weeks following her around flared up like that, but has settled in a little more now, but still follows her around. :)


We're thankful to be able to have Hank here for Trina, and we pray they are beneficial to the homestead and the community!

-- David

Monday, June 13, 2016

Susan's Musin's - The Price For Greener Grass

Part of my daily routine includes taking our two border collie dogs up to one of the empty goat fields and walking them. Sometimes I will leave them up there for extra run-around time while I attend to other chores. The border collie natural instinct is to "herd" or "corral" things, chickens included. Well trained shepherding dogs can probably behave beautifully around chickens but we never invested the consistent time to train them properly. We learned long ago that if they are left out with chickens, if a chicken starts to run, the dogs will automatically try to chase and "herd" it and if captured, they will then try to play with and bite it, and eventually the chicken will die from its injuries. Thankfully, for the most part, we've been able to successfully keep them apart.

Chicken behavior is interesting to watch, as well. They are, indeed, flock creatures and tend to free range in small groups. A rooster will generally take one or more hens "under his wing" and look out for them. He will alert his hens when he has found food and will deny himself to let them have it. He will also protect the hens from other roosters trying to invade his territory. So there is a covering of protection, of sorts, when the hen stays with her little flock while out in the world of free ranging.

Our chickens have many acres of fields and greens on which to free range on our homestead. Much of the time they like to go up into the goat fields and lay eggs in the sheds as well as rummage through the hay for tasty morsels. There is one chicken that, over the past several months, likes to leave her little flock and go up by herself into the goat field next to the one where we walk the dogs and hang out there. A couple of months ago, I saw that chicken all by herself eyeing the greener grass on the other side and hop through the fence into the dog field just as I was walking up. Well, unbeknownst to her, the dogs were watching and immediately pounced on her. I ran over and was able to get the dogs to let go and the chicken ran off leaving a pile of feathers on the ground (chickens will automatically release feathers to try to get away from a predator).

Well, very recently, I had left the dogs up in the field to do other chores. I usually scan the field to make sure there are no other animals, etc. in there before I leave them. I came back a time later and started walking around the perimeter of the field to give them a bit more exercise. Nessa ran ahead, very normal for her, but she came running back with something in her mouth. She seemed very proud of it and brought it right to me. It was almost unrecognizable. My heart sank. I knew what it was. It was that chicken, brutally handled and eventually killed by the dogs in her attempt to get away from them. I walked around the field and found the place of struggle with a big pile of feathers strewn all around.

Dead Chicken


You may think "what's the big deal?" It's just one of many chickens. Yes, that's true. But one of the invaluable reasons we have chosen to live out here is to be more in tune with God's spiritual lessons and types in our daily lives. I believe there are no coincidences with God. He has purpose in *everything*. We always ask Him to search our hearts and grant insight into these things. Well, I started praying for God to help me understand the spiritual side of this. With my own past experiences in mind, several things came to my mind: (these are my own personal observations)

  • God brings us under His "wing" and, in His plan, places us under godly authority on this earth (parents, pastors, elders, etc)to act as a covering of spiritual protection
  • When we get too confident in our own strength and wander away from our Protector and flock distracted by our own "greener grass", we are making ourselves vulnerable to the enemy, always watching and waiting for an opportunity to attack
  • There are many instances of this in the Bible. Here are just a few:
    • Numbers 20:12 - After all that had transpired with God's mighty deliverance of Israel from Pharaoh and Egypt, Moses and Aaron were kept from entering Canaan because of *one* particular sin when they took their eyes off of God and tried to do something in their own strength.
    • Joshua 7 - Joshua, after God granted a great victory at Jericho, relied on the false confidence and faulty wisdom of his spies in the consideration of Israel's next conquest. He did not seek God first and look to Him for counsel. And all of Israel paid a great price for it.
    • 2 Samuel 11 - David, in a slothful time when he was supposed to be out at battle diligently leading his armies and protecting Jerusalem, eyed greener grass when he saw Bathsheba. This one moment of "indiscretion" resulted in a lifetime of sorrow, war and turmoil in David's life and the lives of his family and subjects.

So the death of this chicken has been a HUGE spiritual lesson and is a great warning and reminder that I am always to be diligent in my Christian walk, not to wander off in my own strength and wisdom or take my eyes off of Christ and put them on "greener grass" thinking I know better than God as to what is best for my life.

1 Peter 5:8: Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:

Thankfully, our Lord Jesus Christ paid the price to cover the sins of our Old Testament Fathers and all of His children throughout time, however, the price we pay when we don't do things God's way can be so devastating and far reaching in this life, detracting from God's glory.

May each of us seek God and His word first and only, and lean not unto our own understanding.

Proverbs 3:5 Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.

Susan

Friday, June 3, 2016

A House - Update XLII - Kitchen Window Sills, Bathroom Siding & More Bedroom Siding

Just a quick update that the Lord has graciously granted we be able to continue some work on the house!

We added window sills for the kitchen:

Kitchen Window Sills

Kitchen Window Sill


And some siding for the bathroom, which is between the kitchen and bedroom. This is the nook side, facing west:

Bathroom Nook


And this is the main bathroom area:

Bathroom


And we have been able to add some more bedroom siding, here on the north wall:

Bedroom North Wall


As always, we are very grateful to God for granting the resources and physical strength to be able to continue on the house!

-- David

Friday, May 27, 2016

Community Singing - May 2016

This past Lord's Day we gathered together in fellowship to record the next set of Psalms from the psalter we use! We thank the Lord for this opportunity!

(If you would like to save any of the files locally to your computer, you can right click on Download and click Save As in the popup menu.)

Psalms 45A-49C



Previous Psalms singings:

Psalms 1A-12B (minus 4B)

Psalms 4B & 13-18L

Psalms 19A-22E

Psalms 22F-24C

Psalms 25A-27F

Psalms 28A-31G

Psalms 32A-34D

Psalms 35A-37F

Psalms 38B-40F

Psalms 41A-44F



Again, thanks to the Lord for allowing us this privilege, to sing His word and to sing it together! May these be prayers and praises from our hearts, and we thank Him for His condescending ear to hear! May He write His law on our hearts that we may not sin against Him!

-- David

Friday, May 20, 2016

David's Digest: The Blessings of Death

Generally, people balk at the thought of death, and do much to hedge against it. Makes sense, and is quite natural. But for the Christian, physical death is part of the salvation process!

Puritan Thomas Manton has an excellent sermon called "The Saint's Triumph Over Death" Here is a great description of the blessings of death from Manton. I include it all because it is all important:
2. The next question is, How far he hath delivered us from death? We see the godly are obnoxious to [subject to] the changes and decays of nature, yea, to the strokes of violence, as well as others; and how are we delivered? I answer—It is enough that 'the second death hath no power over us,' Rev. xx. 6; nothing to do with us, Rom. viii. 1, 'not one condemnation,' &c. We may die, but we shall not be damned; and though we go to the grave, yet we are freed from hell. But this is not all. In the first death believers have a privilege—they do not die as others do.

[1.] The habitude and nature of it is changed. That which is penal in death is now gone. It is not a destruction, but a delivery. Believers have wrong thoughts of death. We are delivered from it as it is a punishment and a curse. Now it is a blessing, one of Christ's legacies to the church: 1 Cor. iii. 22, 'All things are yours.' While death was in the devil's hands it was an enemy; but it is made a friend and a blessing in Christ, a passage from the vale of tears to the kingdom of glory, the end of a mortal life, and the beginning of that which is immortal. As Haman to Mordecai, it intended a mischief, but it proveth a privilege. To a wicked man it is properly an execution, but to the godly a dismission of their souls into the bosom of Christ: Luke ii. 28, 'Now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace;' they quietly send away their souls, but a wicked man's soul is taken away. It is twice so expressed: Luke xii. 20, 'This night shall they take away thy soul from thee;' and Job xxvii. 8, 'When God taketh away his soul,' &c. They would fain keep it longer, but God taketh it away whether they will or no. A godly man resigneth, and sendeth away his soul in peace. His life cannot be taken away—it is only yielded up upon the call of providence; and he dieth, not because he must die, but because he would die. He may die sooner than he thought, but not sooner than he would; for when God willeth it, he submitteth. But to return. The blessing of death lieth in three things:—

(1.) The funerals of the godly are but the funerals of their sins and frailties and weaknesses. Peccatum moritur, miseria moritur, homo non moritur. It is not the man dieth, but the sin, the misery dieth. All other means and dispensations do but weaken sin, but death destroyeth it. When God justifieth, the damning power is gone; when God sanctifieth, the reigning power is gone; but when by death we come to be glorified, then the very being of it is gone. When the house was infected with leprosy, so as scraping would not serve the turn, it was to be digged down; we are so infected with sin that all other remedies are too weak, nothing but death will serve the turn. When ivy is gotten into a wall, it cannot be wholly destroyed till the wall itself be demolished: cut off the stump, the body, the boughs, the branches, still there are some strings that are ready to sprout again. So it is here, original sin cannot be destroyed, the constant groans of the faithful are, 'Who shall deliver us from this body and mass of sin?' Rom. vii. 24. But now death is a sudden cure; sin brought in death, and, as it were in revenge, death destroyeth sin.

(2.) There is a way made for a present and complete union of the soul with Christ: Phil. i. 23, 'I desire to be dissolved and be with Christ.' We are loosed from the body and joined to Christ. It is better a soul be separated from the body than absent from Christ. We have a union here, but not a presence. Now judge you, which is better,—to be present with the body or to be present with the Lord; to have the company of the body or the company of Christ? Here the soul is enclosed and imprisoned, as it were; but there thou hast the free enjoyment of Christ, without the clog of an earthly estate. The soul, as soon as it departs the body, goeth immediately to Christ. As when Potiphar's wife laid hold on Joseph's coat, he escaped, so you leave your upper garment in death's hand, but the soul flieth to God. The body came from Adam, and runneth in a fleshly channel, and what we had from Adam must for a while be mouldered to dust, to purge it from the impurity of the conveyance; but the soul, by a natural right, returneth to God who gave it, and by a special interest to Christ, that redeemed and sanctified it by his own Spirit.

(3.) The body, which seemeth most to suffer, hath much advantage; a shed is taken down to raise up a better structure. 'It is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body,' &c., 1 Cor. xv. 44. Here it is not capable of high enjoyments; it is humbled with diseases, unfit for duties. Again, 'It is sown a corruptible body, it is raised an incorruptible body.' Here it is liable to changes, there it may live for ever without change and decay. If we love long life, there is eternal life. It is carnal self-love that maketh us willing to abide in the flesh; if we did but love ourselves, but love our own flesh, we would not be afraid to die; for to die is to be perfected, to have body and soul free from sin and corruption.

[2.] The hurt of it is prevented. As you are chosen and sanctified in Christ Jesus, it cannot hurt you. I say again, death may kill you, but it cannot hurt you, it hath no power over the better part. Like a serpent, it feedeth only upon your dust; nay, and for your bodies, that which dieth as a creature, is sure to live as a member of Christ. The Lord Jesus is our head in the grave; your bodies have a principle of life within them; believers are raised by the Spirit of holiness; the same Spirit that quickeneth them now to the offices of grace shall raise their mortal bodies. So Rom. viii. 11, 'He shall quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you.' The Holy Ghost can never leave his old mansion and dwelling-place. How many grounds of comfort have we against the mortality of the body! Christ is united to body and soul, and he will not let his mystical body want [lack] one sinew or joint. In the account that he is to make to the Father, he saith, he is to 'lose nothing,' John vi. 39. Mark, he doth not say none, but nothing. Christ will not lose a leg, or a piece of an ear. Again, God is in covenant with body and soul; when you go down to the chambers of death you may challenge him upon the charter of his own grace. God is the God of Abraham's dust, of a believer's dust; though it be mingled with the remains of wicked men, yet Christ will sever it, Mat. xxii. 32. Christ proveth the resurrection of the body by that argument, that 'God is the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.' The ground of the argument is, that God made his covenant not only with the souls of the patriarchs, but with their whole persons. Again, Christ hath purchased body and soul; so much is intimated in that place, 1 Cor. vi. 20, 'Ye are bought with a price, therefore glorify God in your bodies.' Christ hath paid price enough to get a title to body and soul, and therefore he will not lose one bit of his purchase; the Lord will call the grave to an account, Where is the body of my Abraham, my Isaac, my Jacob? It is said, Rev. xx. 13, 'The sea gave up her dead, and the grave gave up her dead, and hell gave up her dead.' Let me note that hell is there taken for the state of the departed, or else what is the meaning of that passage that followeth afterward, 'and death and hell were cast into the lake that burneth'? &c. Well then, all the dead shall be cast up; as the whale cast up Jonah, so the grave shall cast up her dead. The grave is but a chest wherein our bodies are kept safe till the day of Christ; and the key of this chest is not in the devil's hands, but Christ's. See Rev. i. 18, 'I have the keys of death and hell.' When the body is laid up in the cold pit it is laid up for another day. God hath an especial care of our dust and remains; when our friends and neighbours have left it, Christ leaveth it not, but keepeth it till the great and glorious day.

[3.] We are eased from the terrors and horrors of death. Death is terrible, as it is a penal and natural evil, as I distinguished before. (1.) As it is a natural evil. Death in itself is the greatest of all evils, said an heathen (Aristotle), which, in Job's language, may be rendered, 'The king of terrors,' Job xviii. 14. We gush to see a serpent, much more the grim visage of death. Moral philosophy could never find out a remedy against it. Heathens were either desperate, rash, stupid, or else they dissembled their gripes and fears; but Christ hath provided a remedy, he hath delivered us not only from the hurt of death, but the fear of death: Heb. ii. 14, 'To deliver them from the fear of death, that all their lifetime were subject to bondage;' by his Spirit he filleth the soul with the hopes of a better life. Nature may shrink when we see the pale horse of death approaching, but we may rejoice when we consider its errand, it is to carry us home; as when old Jacob saw the chariots come from Egypt, how did his heart leap within him, because he should see his son Joseph. Death, however we figure it with the pencil of fancy, is sent to carry us to heaven, to transport us to Jesus Christ. Now, who would be afraid to be happy? to be in the arms of our beloved Jesus? Let them fear death that know not a better life. A Christian knoweth that when he dieth he shall 'not perish but have everlasting life,' John iii. 17. The world may thrust you out, but you may see heaven alluring, ready to receive you, as Stephen saw heaven opened, Acts vii. 56. There is an intellectual vision, or persuasion of faith, which is common to all the saints, though every one hath not such an ecstasy and sensible representation as Stephen had; yet usually in the hours of their departure faith is mightily strengthened, and acted so that they are exempted from all fear and sorrow. (2.) As it is a penal evil. It is sad when death is sent in justice, and clothed with wrath, and cometh in the quality of a curse. You know what was said before, 'The sting of death is sin;' they die indeed that die in their sins; death is a black and gloomy day to them, they drop down like rotten fruit into the lake of fire. Now Christ hath taken away the sting, the dolours and horrors of it; he hath taken away death as he hath taken away sin; he hath not cast it out, but cast it down, taken away the guilt and power of it, though not the being of sin: so the hurt, the sting is gone, though not death itself; it is like a serpent disarmed and unstinged, we may put it into our bosoms without danger. There are many accusations by which Satan is apt to perplex a dying soul; these make death terrible and full of horrors; but 'they overcome by the blood of the Lamb,' Rev. xii. 11, and get the victory of these doubts and fears; when sins are pardoned fears vanish. Luther said, Feri, Domine, feri, absolutus sum a peccatis meis—Strike, Lord, strike; my sins are pardoned.

[4.] It will be utterly abolished at the last day. We scarce know now what Christ's purchase meaneth till the day of judgment. It is said, 1 Cor. xv. 26, 'The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death;' it is weakened now, but then it shall be abolished as to the elect: Rev. xx. 14, 'And death and hell shall be cast into the lake of fire, this is the second death.' The dominion of death is reserved for hell; it must keep company with the damned, whilst you rejoice with God; for the present it is continued out of dispensation, it doth service to promote God's glory; but then the wicked must share death and hell amongst them, and be kept under a dying life or a living death: but 'all tears shall be wiped from your eyes,' Rev. vii. 17; death shall be no more, and you shall take the harps of God in your hands, and in a holy triumph say, 'O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?' It is true we may say it, yea, and sing it now in hope, as some birds sing in winter; but then we are properly said to triumph.

The Christian MUST die to receive the reward of eternal communion with his/her love, Jesus Christ! It is something the Christian looks forward to, is terrifying to the wicked, and so our state before it is of utmost importance that we be sure we are in the faith when we die.

As infinite blessings came from the death of Christ, a Christian's physical death brings great blessings, and is a means of by which a Christian fully receives Christ, the truest and highest blessing, and His graces!

-- David

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Garden - Spring 2016 - Update I

Garden 1

After mulching over the raised beds in Garden 1 over the Winter, and using the mini-greenhouses to start seedlings in good soil, and after some progress of growth after transplanting, sadly many of the plants just haven't made it.

I'm thinking a couple of things:
  1. I should have planted only one plant per greenhouse and then let them grow much bigger before transplanting.
  2. Planting in newly-laid mulch is probably not the best place to plant -- it probably needs to sit at least a year to compress down and help prepare the soil beneath. I thought having the plants in good garden bed soil when transplanted would be enough, but I'm thinking probably not.

But, we always pray for God's guidance and help and direction to learn. And, there are still some things growing, mostly in the mulch laid down some time before the last section, which sort of helps support point #2 above:

Winter Vegetables


Here are a couple of cabbages getting by:

Cabbage


And one of the beets:

Beet


And the peas are doing the best. It's nice to have some fresh for a nightly salad!

Peas


Finally, I was able to almost finish laying that thick first layer over where the raised beds used to be:

Finished Full Mulch of Garden 1


Garden 2

I mentioned in our last garden update that I was re-mulching Garden 2. While doing so, and chopping the weeds, we have found turnips along the way that have grown from seeds I planted or scattered several years ago. Here's a whopper we came across!

Large Winter-Grown Turnip

Same Large Winter-Grown Turnip


And so, I figured it might be a good idea to just throw down a bunch of turnip seeds with the hopes they just come up over the years:

Turnip Seeds


And after about four and a half mulch loads, I was able to finish re-mulching Garden 2, and then I scattered about a pound of the seeds all over. It will be interesting to see what happens over the years, if the Lord wills!

Re-mulching of Garden 2 Complete


Other than what's already planted, I'm thinking this year is going to be more of a building year, mostly doing prep work, laying mulch, etc.

We are always thankful to the Lord for any bit of provision He grants, and for the opportunity to continue to learn how to go about these agrarian ways, and we pray for His guidance and direction, in all things, both temporal and spiritual.

-- David

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Providence's Perpetuation Provisions: First Three 2016 Chick Hatchings

Apparently the memo went out as several of our hens started getting broody this 2016! Sadly, the first mama stopped after 19 days (out of 21) and nothing hatched out. But the next two hens went to completion, and God graciously granted they each hatch out a set of quite a few chicks!

Here's group 1. Sadly, yesterday I decided best to give a coup de grĂ¢ce to one little one barely alive, but all of the rest are doing well it appears!

First Chick Hatching of 2016


And group 2, all present and accounted for!

Second Chick Hatching of 2016


Then, one evening, one hen showed up walking around the open area in front of our barn with four chicks in tow! Surprise! So, we gathered them up and put them in the mini chicken tractor:

Third Chick Hatching of 2016


And here's a video of all three groups:




We are always very grateful to God for the perpetuation of the flock, and the egg and meat provisions He grants from them! Here are some from the other day ready to be made into some chicken tortilla soup:

Chicken Meat in Pot


Again, we thank the Lord!

-- David