Thursday, December 7, 2017

Goat Breeding Time 2017!

With Autumn upon us, it was that time of year once again to put our boy goats and girl goats together for goat breeding time 2017!

This is why we have goats, so they, Lord willing, will kid in the Spring time so we can eventually have milk. God has been gracious this year again as He has kept us in milk since we sold our 2016 kids earlier in the year.

As with last year, our buck Rocky still has that knot on the side of his back leg, which we have found out is an actual injury.

Our Buck Rocky


And wouldn't you know, about a month before we're supposed to put the bucks with the does, Shakespeare, our other buck, as the intensity of his rutting seemed to increase over early Fall time, ended up hurting Rocky more to where one morning Rocky couldn't get up. We got him out of there and put him with the females, and graciously the Lord granted that within a few days he was at least able to get up by himself. He can still get around, although we're just not sure he's going to be able to get the job done with his set of females, so we're monitoring, and if he doesn't seem interested in one of his that's in heat, we're hauling her over to Shakespeare.

Our Buck Rocky


But, without further ado, here's is the video of this year's meet and greet! :)




We are grateful again to the Lord for this opportunity to breed the goats He has graciously granted us, and we pray He might grant kids and milk next year!

-- David

Monday, November 27, 2017

David's Digest: Complete Christian Comfort

It seems to me that Christians find most if not all of their Christian comfort from the fact that the Lord Jesus has forgiven them their sins. But complete comfort comes from not only being justified before God, free from the guilt and pollution of our sin by Christ, but also comes from obedience to the commands of God, in Christian graces existing in our hearts and acted out, and mortification of the carnal man, in a sanctified life.

Christ bought sanctification through His atonement, and thus, it is required for the full effect of Christ's work for us in our Christian lives.

We can draw comfort from the propitiation for our sin, and it seems to me many do, but complete comfort must also include a sanctified, holy life.

I would suggest that, a person who believes they are Christian but does not have the desire for, nor the evidence of, the sanctification process in their life, does not have grounds for Christian comfort.

The following is from Puritan Thomas Manton regarding this topic, in volume 18 of his works, in a sermon on Acts 10:34-35:

[1.] How much they are mistaken who think sanctification hath no influence upon our comfort and peace. Some good people are overtender in this point; they pretend they would fetch all their comfort immediately [directly] from Christ. And is Christ the less author of it because sanctification is the matter of it? As if sanctification were not from Christ as well as justification. He is both to us: 1 Cor. i. 30, 'He is made unto us of God wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption.' But they think this is to fetch comfort from something more in ourselves than justification is; for the one is an adherent privilege, as the other an internal qualification.

True; but though it be in us, it is not of us. It floweth from the same grace of God, and the same power and merit of the Lord
Jesus
. And something there must be in us, or how shall we make out our title and claim, or know that the grace of God belongeth to us? If we look only to justification, and suspect all comfort that is elsewhere derived, we are in danger of falling into the gross part of the error of Poquinus and Quintinus, who in Calvin's time asserted it to be the only mortification to extinguish the sense of sin in the heart. But this is not to mortify sin, but to mortify repentance and holiness, to crucify the new man rather than the old, not to quiet conscience, but outface it. Surely where there is sin there will be trouble. Sanctification is one means of applying the grace of God, as well as justification; and we must look to both benefits, and the mutual respect they have to one another.

But because this prejudice is drunk in by many not ill-meaning people, let us a little dispossess them of this vain conceit.

(1.) As to Christ. It is certain that a sinner can have no hope of acceptance with God but by Christ : 1 Tim. i. 15, 'Christ came to save sinners;' and Mat. i. 21, 'He shall save his people from their sins.'

(2.) It is as true that 'whosoever is in Christ, he is a new creature', 2 Cor. v.. 17. So that the dispute will lie here; to clear up our interest in Christ, whether we are new creatures; for till that be determined, we can have no solid peace and comfort within ourselves,

(3.) None is a new creature but he who feareth God and worketh righteousness; for that is the description of a new creature, that all old things are passed away, and all things are become new; a new heart, a new mind, and a new conversation [behavior]; for a new heart is only sensibly discovered by newness of life, Rom. vi. 4. Well, then, our proposition is fully reconcilable with the grace of Jesus Christ.

[3.] With respect to the Spirit, who is our sanctifier and comforter. First a sanctifier, and then a comforter, and therefore a comforter because a sanctifier. Otherwise the Spirit would cause us to rejoice we know not why, and the comforts of a christian would be fantastical and groundless; at best we should rejoice in a mere possible salvation. But holiness is God's seal and impress upon us: Eph. i. 13, 'In whom also, after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise.'

When his sanctifying work is interrupted, so is his comforting work disturbed also, Eph. iv. 31. David's bones were broken, and he lost his joy, when he fell into great sins, Ps. li., and Ps. xxxii. And it is true in others, who, when they have been lifted up to heaven in comfort, have fallen almost as low as hell in sorrow, trouble, and perplexity of spirit, when they grew remiss, negligent, and disobedient to the motions of the Holy Ghost. If we intermit a course of holiness, the frowns of God will soon turn our day into night; and the poor forsaken soul, that was feasted with the love of God, knows not whence to fetch the least support. Such is the fruit of our careless and loose walking.

May God sanctify us by His Spirit because of Christ; may He grant us a desire to be obedient and live holy lives, including obedience to His commands in living out the graces of His Spirit and mortification of the carnal man and a putting away of things in this world that feed it; and may we diligently ask Him for these things to be put in our hearts.

You can read excellent writings about sanctification and mortification in Mount Zion's "Free Grace Broadcaster" publications on sanctification and mortification.

-- David

Friday, November 17, 2017

Introducing Tuscan

We recently had another little stray show up around here...just started hanging out like he always belonged. :)

He showed himself to be a very friendly one, and was almost certainly a domestic for someone at some point.

We decided to take him in and call him Tuscan, because of his yellow coloring:

Our New Cat Tuscan


True cat form:

Tuscan Sprawled Out Sleeping


He's all boy-cat, follows me around a lot, and pretty much runs the outside. :) He and William don't quite get along yet, and Mimi is still afraid of him, and he chases her, but they all do appear to be getting a little used to each other. We put him in the barn at night, and he actually doesn't seem to mind, and I really think he's helping keep down the mice population in there, earning his keep! :)


He sometimes likes to join Sue in the goat field while she is milking...we think he might have ulterior motives... :)

Tuscan Drinking Fresh Goat Milk


And here he is camped out on the cistern roof!

Tuscan Laying on Cistern Roof


And here is a quick video of him, including a few moments of he and William around each other:




We're thankful for the little addition to the homestead, and for the help in mice catching the Lord has granted us through him!

-- David

Friday, November 10, 2017

Preserving Okra in Cheap Apple Cider Vinegar

Having lived in Texas over ten years now I can see why okra is so popular in the South. In our personal experience with hot Texas summers, we have found that okra is one of those crops that thumbs its nose at the hot, sweltering Texas sun and says "Come on, is that the best you got?" It is an extremely prolific, heat/drought tolerant crop that has done well for us every time we have planted it so far, thank the Lord.

This has presented a problem, albeit a good problem, for me in terms of the best way to capture and preserve it. You can certainly pressure can it but that is not our preference because we like to preserve it with all of its nutrients and freshness. Okra is a nutrient powerhouse, so we are excited and very motivated to incorporate it into our diets.

The last couple of years I cut it up and lacto-fermented it in a salt brine but found I didn't prefer it for a couple of reasons. For those of you who don't know, okra has this "snotty", "mucusy" stuff inside each pod that is really healthy and beneficial but kind of gross. And, for some reason, I still haven't nailed the salt brine recipe and have had a lot of hits and misses.

Thankfully, some time last year my friend and neighbor, Shannon, and I were talking about okra and she mentioned lacto-fermenting it leaving the okra pod in tact and not cutting it up. I was very excited when she mentioned that and was eager to try it. First of all, it meant a lot less prep time and also, maybe a reduction of the "snot" factor.

Fast forward to mid-summer and our okra plants were starting to produce each day. If you've ever grown okra, you know that it grows measurably every day. You could probably sit and literally watch it grow if you had the time. At first, I cut them up and put them fresh in our salads each night, which is crunchy and delicious, by the way, and the "snotty" factor is virtually non-existent in fresh, cold okra. But then the floodgates opened and a big okra surplus started to mount up. I remembered I had preserved garlic cloves in apple cider vinegar and really liked the flavor so I decided to do the same with okra. I went out and bought a really cheap jug of apple cider vinegar at the store and off I went!

Here is our beeeeeautiful okra, probably just one days worth:

Okra in a Bowl


So I quickly rinse them and, it's not necessary but I like to cut off the stems so they fit in the jars better:

Cutting Ends Off of Okra


Then I just shove them in the jars however they will fit:

Putting Whole Okra in Jars

Jars of Whole Okra


You can usually get a gallon jug of cheap apple cider vinegar for under three dollars. Even though it is not organic with "the mother" in it (a colony of beneficial bacteria promoting good gut health), cheap apple cider vinegar is still a great preservation vehicle and a pre-biotic, which means it feeds probiotics. So it's still a great way to preserve. It also provides a really nice pickling-like taste:

Apple Cider Vinegar for Preserving Okra


I just pour in the apple cider vinegar and leave about 1" space at the top:

Pouring Apple Cider Vinegar into Jars of Okra


A very important step that I had forgotten but a friend reminded me, is placing in the jars something that contains tannin. This keeps the okra nice and crunchy, where it would otherwise become soft and mushy over time. Thankfully, we have oak and mesquite trees right outside our house, so I just place a few leaves of one or the other in each jar.

Another step worth noting is that you may find you need to burp your jars for the first few days to release the buildup of any CO2 (carbon dioxide) gases. But since you are not waiting for an official fermenting process, you can eat the pods as soon as you like!

Jars of Preserved Okra


All in all, we preserved over 50 quarts of okra this garden season, all thanks to God for bringing the increase! I went ahead and numbered each jar so we can be sure to eat the oldest ones first. Since the pickle taste can be pretty tangy, I quickly rinse the pods before I put them in salads, etc., and it leaves a really nice pickled okra taste. You may wish to add in any other spices/flavors to customize your preserved okra to your liking. This way of preserving should keep for many months, although your experience may vary.

Jars of Preserved Okra Marked for Organization


We are extremely thankful to God for His bountiful okra harvest and a very quick and simple way to preserve it!

Susan

Friday, November 3, 2017

Summer Kitchen - Update III - External Siding, Community Work Day & Acorns

This past Wednesday was our first-Wednesday community work day, and this month it was at our place. The men worked on our summer kitchen, and the women and children washed house windows, shelled pecans, collected acorns, and sewed aprons and dresses!


Summer Kitchen External Siding

It has been 6 years since our last summer kitchen update. Wow!

Over the years I have done a decent amount of the internal siding, which you can see here:

Summer Kitchen Internal Siding

More Summer Kitchen Internal Siding


You can see what the mice have done to the insulation at the top:

Still More Summer Kitchen Internal Siding


And more here. We have traps in there, but they still do the damage:

Still More Summer Kitchen Internal Siding


Even with some work on the internal siding, the external siding has been sitting unfinished, with just the OSB, for 9 years, shown in this blog update!

And then, as one might imagine, the weather has taken its toll on it. With the Lord graciously granting resources to do so, we were able to do some work on the north side with the men helping...

Here is with the old siding off:

Summer Kitchen North External Wall Removed


The mice have been busy! :)

Insulation Removed by Mice


Here is removing calked windows. This worked pretty well, thankfully! (I have had a previously unsuccessful attempt before :) )

Removing Summer Kitchen Window


Bending the outside away was the best approach:

More of Removing Summer Kitchen Window


Here's with the first window out and first new OSB board in place:

Summer Kitchen Window Removed, First OSB in Place


And then putting the first window back:

Summer Kitchen First Window Installed Back


Here's with some of the tar paper up:

Summer Kitchen First Row of Tar Paper


And then all the windows and boards in place:

Summer Kitchen All Windows & OSB in Place


Here's with tar paper on the entire side:

Summer Kitchen Tar Paper on Entire Wall


And finally, with a couple of the external siding boards in place, which is how far we got on this work day:

Summer Kitchen Two External Siding Boards in Place


Excellent! Thanks to the guys for all of the help!


Acorns

While the fellows were working on the summer kitchen, the ladies helped shell pecans and make some aprons and a dress for Sue, and the children washed house windows and collected acorns for our pig!

Here are buckets of acorns they collected!

Buckets of Acorns


Thanks to the ladies and children for all of their help too!


We are very grateful to the Lord for granting us the opportunity to be a part of the fellowship! We always pray we love Him in part by loving and serving each other, and we thank the folks here again for all of their help and willingness to serve!

-- David

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Critter Corner: RafterBNB for Barn Swallows & Tiny, the Orphan

Rafter Nest

Barn swallows are common around here, and this year we had some build a nest on the vertical side of one of the porch rafters just outside the front door of our house!

They use mud and the like, and just make it into the shape of a half-funnel. The first attempt collapsed on them, but the second one was successful, and here is a video of that and some of the new little ones they hatched out!




Tiny, the Orphan Barn Swallow

One morning in the barn, I heard cheeping, like a baby bird, and eventually tracked it down to a large mineral tub. Sure enough, there was a little barn swallow in there! Sort of above at the top of the barn in that area are barn swallow nests from previous years, but I hadn't seen any action up there and didn't think I could put it back. So, I decided to give it a go and take it in and see if we couldn't raise the little thing. I called it Tiny...

In studying on how to try to take care of them, they apparently need high-protein feed, like bugs and worms, or turkey starter, which is higher in protein than chicken starter. Well, we had chick starter, so I thought I would use that. I also learned you don't give them water directly (like I try in the video below) and that they get their liquid from the mush the mama usually gives them. And, they need to be warm, so I would use a rock heated on the stove in the box I had Tiny in, or one next to the box in the storage cabinet I put it in at night.

Here's a video of trying to care for little Tiny. We were doing fairly well, and went 11 days, but as you'll see in the video, it only documents a couple early days, because the morning of the 12th day, Tiny had died. I was sad. It had not seemed to have the normal energy the day before, although seemed to be keeping up, but apparently something was still not right. I thought the fact we made it all that time was a good indicator it might make it all the way, but it wasn't meant to be. Perhaps the protein level wasn't enough, and we did read that that could be a problem.

Bye Tiny...I will have good memories of our time together...




Seeing God's creation in action is a blessing, and how He takes care of them, even in the means He uses, like parents with the built-in instinct to do it just right to have successful children.

We pray for God's protection and care, in all things spiritual and temporal, and look to Him alone for those, as it exists in Him as God to do it just right to have successful children!

-- David

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Community Singing - October 2017

Once again, this past Lord's day, God graciously granted we be able to gather together to sing to Him, in prayer and praise, the Psalms from the psalter we use! And we recorded them as we try to every so often, so we can learn them better, and so they might help others to as well. Here are the latest:

(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 60A-65B


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

Psalms 45A-49C

Psalms 50A-53

Psalms 54A-59B



As always, we pray the Lord glorify Himself through these, and that they be prayers and praises from our hearts!

-- David