Friday, December 26, 2008

Providence's Perpetuation Provisions: New Calf "Leandro"

The Lord most graciously allowed yet another calf to be born to one of our cows. Introducing Leandro, which means "lion-man"; of course he's not a man though :). Rosa gave birth to him this past Monday, and he is our first bull (male) calf:




Here is another picture of him:




And here is a video (which was shot Wednesday):

video


God is very gracious and merciful, and we are thankful for Him granting perpetuation provisions.

--David

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Providence's Perpetuation Provisions: New Calf "Sarita"

The Lord in His graces and mercies granted a new little heifer (female) calf be born this past Sabbath (Saturday) to one of our cows, Amistosa. The calf has a little "dot" of white fur on her otherwise red (brown) head, and that reminded us of a East Indian princess, which apparently is not what the dot means and was just an improper perception we had; but we decided to go with it anyway, so please meet Sarita, which means "princess" in Spanish. She was up and about following her mother in just about 6 hours, we figure.

Her mother's name means "friendly" (because she has been from the moment we got her), and it appears this little one picked up the gene, because she walked right up to us, which allowed us these pictures:






And this video:

video




We are very grateful once again to God and His many provisions.

-- David

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Summer Kitchen Update

The Lord is gracious in allowing more homestead improvements and fellowship with the brethren, one of those for us being what we have planned to be a summer kitchen project. With me being a rookie building designer, things "ended up" being a little different than the original plan.

In including windows but desiring them to be horizontally sliding, I purchased some from the local home improvement store that were typically used as vertically sliding windows thinking I could simply spin them sideways and thus make them horizontal windows. Well, it worked ok, sort of, but not, because I discovered that, not only was there a spring line attached which is meant to help in opening the windows up against gravity, but since mine were tilted over 90 degrees, that resistance made it difficult to close them. Further, when it rained, water puddled in and leaked over the lower sliding area. Something was amiss.

I soon found out that vertically sliding windows are not designed to be installed as horizontally sliding windows, and that there were indeed windows specifically designed to be horizontally sliding.

Sigh.

So, after understanding a little more about windows, I ordered the proper, left-right sliding windows. When they had arrived, I began the replacement operation.

The biggest obstacle was that the open space I had built into the window frames was horizontally too short for the new windows. However, in thanks to God for how I originally constructed it and for the idea, I was able to just cut out with a reciprocating saw one of the side 2x4s of the window frame and replace it with a 1x4, thus allowing for the needed space and therefore resolving that, quite possibly complicated, issue.

When replacing the first window, which I had silicone-caulked originally, I thought I would sort of "work" the window loose. When I did that, I apparently twisted the window beyond capacity, and the outer pane of glass shattered. Sigh, again. Ok, so then, when installing the new window, after setting it in the window frame, as I was trying to screw it in place, the top of it fell forward, hitting my head (which took off a nickel-sized piece of skin), and the screw that I had been planning to use to secure it was now found to be buried in the screening of the new window. Sigh, again, again.

Anyway, I learned very quickly that what I had been doing was apparently not, at a minimum, the best way to proceed. I figured then that I should spend more time prying the old windows' edges from the caulking before trying to remove them. Wonder of wonders, this worked much better. :)


And so with all of that, here are a couple of pictures of where we are with the summer kitchen, which includes screen doors, hopefully allowing maximum ventilation:





It has been a bit disheartening and sometimes frustrating, but during these situations hopefully the Lord is graciously granting us more meekness (Part 1, Part 2) and contentment, which are some of the graces for which we try to daily pray; and difficult times certainly offer the opportunity to examine ourselves (especially right at the moment) and then continue to seek Him for His graces.


We are ever grateful to God for His provisions, spiritual and temporal.

-- David

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Garden 2008 II Update


With water provisions graciously granted by the Lord, and with His graciousness in allowing us to store quite a bit of it, we were able to keep the garden going. Some of it didn't make it so well, I believe partially because of how the double-dug beds are sloped and still only have original top soil, which at this point forms a hard layer after drying. Lord willing, over the winter in preparation for next Spring, we hope to build up the soil on top of the beds with compost, vermiculite and peat moss.


Despite that, God has granted us some provisions off of the land from the current garden. Besides the one shown above, here are some pictures of the growth:





And here is a bowl of green beans and bell peppers:




And one of squash and broccoli:




And her are some carrots, which were planted in the Spring and survived the drought:




Here is some of it being prepared for long-term storage:




And then canned:




Here is a watermelon. Interestingly, we didn't plant watermelon seeds this year at all!




There were some logistic issues to the fall garden. I did try to time our planting based on the noted harvest times of the plants with the theoretical first freeze for this area (which for us is Nov 15). The Lord has been gracious in not permitting a hard freeze to come through here as of yet, and so that has allowed us to gather from the garden even beyond the predicted harvest times.

During the last few weeks, on freezing or near-there nights, we have covered the garden with 10' wide, 6mm thick, white plastic, so the sensitive plants wouldn't be directly exposed to the cold; and that appears, by God's graces and mercies, to have helped on those nights. However, it seems there is a point with some temperature-sensitive plants where, even though they are covered and temperatures don't reach hard-freeze levels, they are still affected and essentially stop growing their "fruit." But, the vegetables themselves were not destroyed, and we were thankfully able to still cull them.

Right now, we have collected all of the above-ground vegetables. Sue's next job with the garden is to pull the carrots (planted in the Spring!, but which are root crops, therefore below ground, and thus more protected from colder temperature) and then process the cabbage, which we are probably going to try to store as sauerkraut, as that is a common agrarian method of long-term storage.


All thanks be to God for His graces, mercies and provisions in allowing us food off of the land.

-- David

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Root Cellar Update

After having the wood for them down in the root cellar for several months now, I was finally at a point to be able to begin to build shelves. When the main root cellar structure was being completed, Michael suggested we leave the concrete forms, made out of wood, in place so that shelving and the like could more easily be attached. Needless to say, it was a good idea, because trying to put shelving up on concrete walls would have been quite difficult; and in consideration that there doesn't seem to be an excess of moisture in our root cellar, installing wood shelves seemed a fine option.

This is how I proceeded. I measured the heights of pint and quart jars and plastic storage buckets and decided to make the distance between shelves 18 inches (from bottom of the upper shelf to top of the lower shelf), to allow jars or cans to be stacked; and I decided to make the shelves 16 inches from the wall to allow for a 4 quart jar or 1 plastic bucket depth on each, and also so that I could cut a 4x8 board into 3 even sections for the tops of the shelves. From there in the actual construction, I attached shelf "arms" to one side to the wall studs (when logistically feasible, making sure each arm was level from the previous one), mounted the front 2x4, and then included four or five 45-degree angle 2x4s on the other sides of the studs for added strength.

After that, I worked on the shelf tops, which I had chosen to be made from OSB. This part ended up more like a puzzle (which for me was sort of fun! :) ), in that, I had to sketch out the cuts of each board so they would fit around the wall studs; I would also have to cut the ends off in angles so that they would fit properly one against the other, being that things were not square. In drawing the stud cut lines, I used a 4' level placed against each stud's side to get the proper angle off of the stud. The front and back shelves were a bit more complicated because I couldn't fit the board piece into final position: I had to draw in the cut lines based upon a left to right offset, so that, after the original lines were drawn, they would have to be "moved" over by that much offset. And then finally once the tops of the shelves were in place, I decided to shave off any OSB overhang of the sides of the shelves, so that, if I ever decided to add a front barrier piece of wood to keep things from sliding off, it would lay flush.

Here's a picture of the general idea:




And so, here are the shelves. I was able to move much of our canned provisions into the root cellar too:







Interestingly, given the amount of time it has taken to get to this point, this actually completes the originally planned work on the root cellar. Yea!

Once again, we are grateful to the Lord for His provisions of food and for being able to hopefully store that food long-term.

-- David

Monday, November 10, 2008

Hogs, Hogs on the Range

Currently, our only pig pen area is the place set up with the farrowing shed. One day if the Lord wills, we hope to have pigs as part of an animal rotation scheme. But until then, I thought it might be beneficial to try to allow the pigs in the farrowing area to semi-free range (allow them out of the pen but still keep them controlled) where there was grass and other eatables available. This hopefully would also help us cut back on the store-bought feed. Michael had done this with his pigs by surrounding a forage area with electric fence driven by solar power, and so I thought I'd go the same route.

For us, this involved pounding rebar stakes into the ground every 12 or so feet apart, pounding metal T-posts at the corners, attaching the proper plastic electric fence wire insulators for rebar and T-posts, and then running the electric wire. Here is a picture of the fence:




And here is a reverse pictured of the same area:




In running the first wire strand, I found that I needed to attach the plastic insulators for the T-post corners after running the main fence wire through them. If you wire them to the corners before hand, which I did and initially thought was just part of a good preparation process for running the fence wire, there was no way to then actually run the fence wire through them when running the wire off of a spool. So I had to undo and redo the wired corners as the wire was run by. Oops. I did however get it right on the second strand.

But once the wire was run, it was time to hook up the solar powered electric fence power source. Part of wiring it up was driving into the ground a 6' galvanized rod for grounding:




Oh Give Me a Home

In considering the distance between the ground and each of the fence wires, I set the plastic wire holders attached to the rebar about one middle finger to thumb hand span above the ground and then then same span above that for the second wire. Well, once we turned the system on and let the pigs out, apparently not only did we agitate them too excitedly for the moment, but the upper wire just said "doorway" to the pigs; and they both proceeded to hurtle between the two wires and off into the field.

Well, after chasing them back into the pen area, and with the obvious fence failure, I was unsure as to how to proceed. However, I decided to try lowering the top wire half the span between it and the lower wire; and also thought that when we would let them out we would try to make sure they weren't stirred up so much.

That seemed to help. Here they are discovering their new roaming land:




And...well, I guess things are all right now:




We once again thank the Lord for His provisions and wisdom, insight and help with the processes of building our homestead.

-- David

Monday, October 27, 2008

Susan's Musin's - Journey Into Obedience (Head Coverings)

I remember in my teen and young adult years attending special church or city Christian events, and many times there were a few women who really stuck out in the crowd. They always wore very modest dresses and these "things" on their heads. I now believe these were most likely Mennonite women who wore prayer bonnets. I remember thinking I was glad I didn't have to dress like that and feeling almost embarrassed on their behalf because they looked so different and "out of touch" with the times. I imagined what a drag it must have been to be brought up in their denomination. And on I went with my life giving VERY little thought of why these women dressed as they did.

Quantum leap 20 years ahead......I have gotten married, and God is teaching my husband and me so many truths in His word and is growing us by leaps and bounds (all thanks be to God). We have moved to Texas and are thriving living in community with like-minded Christian folks. God has begun teaching me about modesty as a Christian woman in dress and manner. Then the "H"-bomb was dropped.

The elders in our community were requested to study the subject of women and head coverings in the Bible, particularly 1 Cor. 11, and other historical documents. Dave read a bunch of materials and then requested that I read and study them myself. "No problem, Honey! I'll get right on it". Laaaaa, deee, daaa, dum, deee, dum (scccrrreeeeeeeeecchhh). That was the sound of my flesh screaming NNNNNOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO, NOT MY HAIR!!!!

When I saw vs. 15 "But if a woman have long hair, it is a glory to her: for her hair is given her for a covering.", I thought, "Yes! No sweat, I can grow my hair long as the covering". I was home free and my flesh relaxed. But after REALLY studying the chapter and reading other historical materials, it became very clear to me that God has provided an example in nature (long hair) to show that a woman's head is to be veiled, and the long hair is not the veil itself.

A few other verses that proved to me the case for the head covering were:

vs. 6: "For if the woman be not covered, let her also be shorn: but if it be a shame for a woman to be shorn or shaven, let her be covered". It seems to me a woman's covering here cannot mean her hair because this verse says that if she's not covered she is being so disrespectful she may as well be shaven or shorn which was a sign of extreme shame back then. If the hair was meant to be the covering here the verse would make no sense, but if taken to mean an example of a covering over the hair it makes perfect sense.

vs. 7: "For a man indeed ought not to cover his head, forasmuch as he is the image and glory of God: but the woman is the glory of the man." This verse talks about a man not covering his head. Well, if people's assumption is that a woman's covering is her hair, then to be consistent they would be required to assume no covering on a man means he should shave his head. So you would think we would be seeing a lot more heads of professing Christian men shaved. It appears to me this passage means actual head covering and not just hair.

vs. 14-15: "Doth not even nature itself teach you, that, if a man have long hair, it is a shame unto him? But if a woman have long hair, it is a glory to her: for her hair is given her for a covering". If a man grows his hair long it looks feminine and womanish which is not natural or proper according to this verse. But a covering in nature (long hair) on a woman does look appropriately feminine and womanish. It seems to me God is graciously putting up a neon sign in nature saying that women's heads should be covered and men's heads should not.

Lastly, I did consider the argument used by so many professing Christians today that this teaching from Paul only applied to Christians in Corinth at that time. When I thought of the principles behind the requirement to wear a head covering, it is clear to me that they are timeless principles and make just as much sense today as they did back in those times. In my opinion the only reason it is not subscribed to today is because it is WE who have changed, not God or His requirements or principles. And that is no excuse in God's eyes.

Dave never commanded me to wear a head covering. He only requested that I wear one during family prayer and public worship. I absolutely submitted to him in that, at a minimum, because I am required to (that blog post is forthcoming, Lord willing); but also because I agreed it was my responsibility as set forth in 1 Cor 11. As for anything further than that, he simply asked me to study and ask for God to reveal His will to me. Well, at first I did only wear a covering (a bandanna in my case) during the family prayer and public worship times. But as I studied it further and understood the principles of "why" God instructs women to do this, I realized I should have it on pretty much all the time I'm in public or in any kind of prayer before God. All throughout the day I find myself praying things as they come to mind, and it would be silly to constantly be taking the head covering on and off. Also, I realized, AGAIN, that it's not about me, it is part of putting and holding down my vain nature; and it contributes to the image of modesty I am instructed to put forth. Lastly, it is good for me to have a constant reminder of the role God has given me as a submitted, obedient Christian woman.

My prayer since God began to open my eyes to His truths has been for Him to grant me continued wisdom, understanding, repentance and obedience in all matters. Reluctantly, this was one of those times where it was too late to turn back once my eyes had been opened. There was no returning without my conscience convicting me. I believe that if one studies 1 Cor. 11 honestly, he or she can come to no other conclusion than that Christian women are to cover their heads. In a nutshell, I believe the head covering is a symbol to your husband, God and the heavenly realms that you are in obedience and submission to God and husband and their authority; it represents a covering or authority over you, and by not wearing one a woman is disrespecting God and her husband. (This applies to single women as well).

This was a rubber hitting the road point in my life. It is a subject that has obviously been cast aside and marginalized by 99% of professing Christianity, so I had a big question to ask myself: do I make current culture and society my compass, or God's eternal Word and the principles behind it? Well, my conscience answered that question right quick; but my carnal man roared like a lion because I couldn't show off my mane anymore!! Good grief, when it actually came down to putting on the head covering every day, I practically had to have a funeral to memorialize my hairstyle and all the cute ways to wear my hair. I had no idea how vain I was with my hair until I had to cover it. (That was another part of my journey into modesty).

I am not a Mennonite, nor do I subscribe to all of their theology; however, I now look back on those women and greatly appreciate that their desire to obey and honor God and their husbands in their lives superseded their desire to look cool for a fleeting time here on earth. It grieves me that I have spent so many years plainly dishonoring God in so many areas in my life, including this one, and thank God for dropping those scales from my eyes to show me how He wants me to live for Him. And I can't stress enough the importance of learning the principles and purposes behind all of these commands that appear to be legalistic in the world's eyes. What a blessing to live a life of increasing obedience to my God and husband. I have never desired to be called a "peculiar" person, but now I consider it an honor. (Deut 14:2; Deut 26:18; Titus 2:14; 1 Pet 2:9)

I could go on and on about the proof and reasons I believe for wearing a head covering, but I won't. Our teacher recently preached a couple of very good sermons on the case for head coverings if anyone is interested in them:

Headcoverings, Part 1:    Audio  :  Sermon Notes
Headcoverings, Part 2:    Audio  :  Sermon Notes


My prayer for those God has brought to this blog is for Him to draw them to Himself and lead them on a journey into all truth which will bring glory to Him, and that is what it is all about.

Susan

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Fellowship and Fun


Although the work we do on the land is important, one of the main reasons we're all here is because the Lord has graciously granted us the fellowship of like-minded brethren. While some of it is serious, some of it is not so much; and God has afforded us the opportunities for leisure-types of fellowship with each other and with some of the events and people in the local communities.



Lord's Days

On the Lord's Days, we meet in the morning for singing (shown in this picture to the left) of Psalms (which for us are the Psalms from a psalter we purchased here), hymns and spiritual songs (Eph 5:19; Col 3:16); and then midday we commune around the table to enjoy the Lord's provisions together in representation of being nourished by the spiritual provisions from God. We usually meet at different peoples' homesteads each week, but in this picture we decided to go to the park in our town for this time of fellowship:




And after eating, the guys enjoyed some throwing of the horse shoes:




On a different day, the adults joined the children in a game of kick ball:





Community Work Days

We have set aside every first Wednesday of the month to be a community work day, where we all gather to work together in fellowship around the land, either on things that benefit the community in general (like working the roads) or to assits someone who might need help with a specific project:




This pair looks like they're having way too much fun for pulling fence! :)




The ladies will get together during work day to help outside or to work on inside projects:




And then it's time for some leisure together:




Means of Grace

The Lord has blessed us with a godly and gifted teacher in Michael, for whom we are very thankful. In a given week, we will typically meet together as a group to be nourished by the means of grace God has graciously granted us.

The first meeting is a sermon, where Michael teaches. These are the ones that typically become available at BiblicalAgrarianism.com or at LazarusUnbound.com. After an opening prayer, we sing a Psalm from memory to practice learning the psalter songs by heart, and then Michael preaches.

And the second is Saturday evenings, where we again sing Psalms from the psalter, and then have a question and answer time with Michael, which is followed by general fellowship time:




Childrens' Plays

Several times since we've been here, the children have put together plays on various subjects (like Esther'story and Passover) and then have performed them for the community. Now, this is not cheap "community theater"; this is the real deal! We have to buy tickets, and they offer a concession stand at the performance. And it is worth it!







Curtain call:




Preparation and Education

In light of trying to live a preparedness life-style, Michael thought it would be important that we experience and learn what to do if we ever were to find ourselves having to survive in a cold weather situation. Now, coming from comfortable California and comfortable city life, I have an acute aversion to being cold; and so this was not going to really live up to the "fun" part of "Fellowship and Fun"; however, after some exhortations I tried to have a good attitude about it. There's me in the back and in black, frozen solid (or at least I thought I was):




This was my shelter the first night. All I had were my clothes and a sleeping bag, no tent. It got down to 17 degrees that night. I'm pretty sure it was the coldest I've ever been, as my shivering kept waking me up:




However, part of my "experience" was for me to be set up the next night in a different situation, where we made fire beds on top of which we'd sleep (actually we only made a couple of beds, but I was allowed to have one of them :) ). Here's one of the guys helping dig the bed out for me. Needless to say, that night I was quite comfy; and when I awoke the next morning, I was so warm I couldn't tell in the slightest how cold it really was, which again was 17 degrees. It was very nice:




Overall we learned quite a few things. Thanks to Michael for taking the time to teach us those things.

Also, after reading a few of the slave labor camp "Gulag" books by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, I was thankful to not have it as bad as they did, where temperatures would get to 60 below zero; and only then were they not forced to go work.


Neighbors

Soon after we moved here, one of our neighbors came by and introduced himself; and he has since become a good friend of the community. His name is Homer, and he is a very nice and generous man who, after being reared locally, is retiring now out here.

Here is Robert getting to ride along while Michael's field is being baled for hay:




And here, Homer is giving rides on his dune buggy:




He also purchased and gave all of the Bunker children bicycles.

We pray the Lord grants him and his family salvation.


Community Events

During the year, there are various community events, some of which we might attend. Here are a few to which we've gone.

Interestingly (and I don't believe incidentally) in our life paths, directed by God, Sue and I both enjoy listening to and have sung in barbershop quartets; and so we have gone to the local barbershop chorus' annual show for the last couple of years:




This was the Coleman rodeo from the first summer:





And from this year, this is the Coleman rodeo parade:






We always pray we represent the Lord well when out in the community, for His glory. May the way we live be a witness to those around us here in the world, and to the principalities and powers in the heavenly realms, as a testament to His efficacious work in the hearts of sinners and to so great a salvation. Amen.

(Thanks to Jordan and her The Ranch Weekly blog for several of these pictures!)

-- David