Monday, October 7, 2019

Garden - Summer 2019

Being 14 years here this year, we took a sabbath year off for the gardens, and took the opportunity to do a complete re-covering of mulch on top of the garden beds, having started this process of "forest bed" mulching, which is laying down the mulch so that it composts over time and helps keep in moisture, back in 2012.

One thing the Lord has graciously granted is that prickly lettuce, which is a wild lettuce, grow here.

And wow, did it grow here this year! All that jungle basically is prickly lettuce! But, I needed it weed-wacked, so I worked to that end:

Garden Overgrowth of Prickly Lettuce

Cutting Garden Overgrowth of Prickly Lettuce


And here's a quick video of that during that time:




And here it is after the fact:

Garden Mowing Completed


Then, it was time to cover it all:

New Mulch Layer on Garden 1

More New Mulch Layer on Garden 1


And then onto garden 2, which was overgrown the same way as garden 1. Once mowed, thankfully, I was able to cover it in only 4 trips:

Starting New Mulch Layer on Garden 2

Continuing New Mulch Layer on Garden 2

More New Mulch Layer on Garden 2

Garden 2 New Mulch Layer Complete


Finally, God has graciously granted a few volunteer sweet potato plants! We look forward, Lord willing, to maybe a few bonus side dishes! :D

Volunteer Sweet Potato Plants


We thank the Lord for the resources to accomplish all of this, and we pray He applies the mulch and all of the micro-biology that He provides in His creation!

-- David

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Announcing Audio Readings of Christian Writings

If you've read any of the David's Digest blog posts, you would see many references to Puritan writings, including Thomas Manton, the latest from Thomas Brooks, etc. I have put these out because I have believed they are important topics for those who take the name of Christ to be exposed to.

The reason I have known about them myself is because I have read the printed volumes from which they come, and the Lord has very much blessed me through them.

There are many things from them I would really like to put out on the blog, but then I would be often just posting whole sermons and books. :)

But, I thought that, given the easy availability of digital media, and the convenience and preference for some to be able to listen while doing other things, I would just start reading these publications while recording them, and then post them on our website.

And so, I have begun to do just these things, which are now available on any page of our blog on the right side under the "Soul Info" section (or at the bottom on any mobile device) and the link Audio Readings of Christian Writings.

I've currently started Thomas Manton's Commentaries on James and Jude, Thomas Brooks' "Precious Remedies Against Satan's Devices" (from which I did my last Digest blog posts), and Thomas Watson's "10 Commandments" book. If you're interested, please feel free to check in on the page for the latest readings as we plan to continue to put more out as they get done, as the Lord wills.

It is our prayer that God bless these to someone, bring them to Him in salvation, and/or grow them in truth and holiness. May He grant the hearers ears to hear and by His graces apply His word to the hearts of the listeners, and may the name of the Lord be glorified and magnified!

-- David

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Providence's Prerogatives: Tasha's Two 2019 Turkey Chicks & Tragedy

Those who follow our blog might notice the difference in the title. Usually for these types of blog posts about God providing perpetuation provisions, we include that exactly in the title. However, this situation sadly ended up a little different than normal...

Tasha, one of the offspring from the heritage breed Black Turkey that showed up on our homestead one day, and the Tom we got as her mate, got broody, sitting outside somewhere, and I was thankfully able to grab her and the eggs and get her into what has become our brooder building (formerly known as our summer kitchen...it's just worked out that way :) ).

And in due time, she hatched out 4 turkey chicks! (I call them "turklets", like "chicklets" ;) )

But, through experience, we have come to understand that these turklets are quite fragile, or they get eaten by a snake (I've done some filling of the wall gaps in the brooder building to try to help with that, and we put a lantern in there at night so the mommy can see and perhaps fight off the snake), and for any of them to make it seems something extraordinary. 2 indeed did die, but 2 continued to make it.

Here's one early on. You can see how tiny they are:

2019 Tiny Heritage Breed Turkey Chick


And then both a little older with their mommy:

2019 Young Heritage Breed Turkey Chicks


When they got to be about the size we usually let them out, it was time to do so. And we did, and they began their adventure in God's creation, where they should be. And at night, we'd make sure they were in the barn for hopeful safety.

But that has sadly not always turned out to be the case (see the loss of Gigi our goose). A few days later, I went into the barn in the morning to let all the animals out, and I discovered one of the turklets was on the ground with its little head weaving back and forth across its back, which is a sign of something severely wrong; and the other turklet was nowhere to be found. I rushed the injured one into the brooder building, and tried to care for it as best I could, but indeed whatever happened to it was serious, and it died I believe by the next day. And we never found the body of the other turklet, although there was the smell of death near the front walk-in door (that's real life on a farm), but after searching extensively, still never found anything.

We still don't know what happened. But it was a shock, and very sad.

But here is the important point:

The God of all creation owns it all as such, and it is His for Him to disperse and dispense with as He wills. I would encouurage you to read all of Job 1, which some would say is the first book of the Bible actually written. Satan asks God's permission to tempt Job (notice even the devil must take leave of God before acting), the Lord grants it with limitations, and almost everything Job had was taken from him -- his animals, servants, and even his children. Not quite like losing a couple of turkey chicks, but with those much greater losses, what was Job's response:
Job 1:20-22 - "20 Then Job arose, and rent his mantle, and shaved his head, and fell down upon the ground, and worshipped,

21 And said, Naked came I out of my mother's womb, and naked shall I return thither: the Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.

22 In all this Job sinned not, nor charged God foolishly.
"

And there you go. He was sad, but submitted to God's sovereign providences willingly, not murmuring, and even worshipping the Lord in it.

May this be our response to the hand of God in like situations. And may we recognize His mercies in these things too -- He could have taken the whole flock but didn't. And may the Lord grant us a true faith to trust Him in His perfect, wise, good, loving, and sovereign will under all circumstances.


And even though the little turklets aren't with us anymore, I still wanted to share the 2 little gifts God granted for a while, which, since He is all wise and good, we pray He has graciously granted some good to our souls through the losses of them.


It's always amazing to me how a little creature can be stuffed into that little egg-chamber (if you've ever seen them in there, they're very scrunched up) and make it's way out. And then to watch them grow...all these miracles of Providence along the way.

But without anything further, here they are on the day we let them out of the brooder building for the first time:

2019 Young Heritage Breed Turkeys

More 2019 Young Heritage Breed Turkey

Still More 2019 Young Heritage Breed Turkey


And then here's their video:




Again, we thank the Lord for His many gifts, and thank Him for His graces and mercies in all things, especially to those He grants for our spiritual benefit, most of all the Lord Jesus Christ and His Holy Spirit, the greatest gifts ever!

-- David

Monday, September 9, 2019

A House - Update LII - Bathroom Cabinets & Library Bookshelves

It's been over a year since our last house update, so I thought we'd catch up everyone as to the latest progress...

We took a little break from doing anything on the house, but earlier in the year added some cabinets to our bathroom area. Sue felt best to have something enclosed as things get dusty around here so quickly, being on a farm:

Bathroom Cabinets


And then recently we finally got the library going as I've kind of always wanted. Mostly it was just getting the bookshelves into place, and then we could move the books from the other pre-made shelves into them, and then clear out all kinds of stuff from tubs we brought when we moved here almost 14 years ago!

We had to move out the current portable bookshelves. Here is where they were:

Previous Shelves Wall


And then it was on to making the new permanent shelves. I kind of got the idea from a bookshelf in a thrift store I saw once.

Here's the base being built:

Bookshelf Base


Then the shelves half done:

Bookshelf Half Done


Foreman William making sure they're going to be comfortable enough as cat cubbies! ;)

William in the Bookshelf


And here are the bookshelves done height-wise with the sides attached:

Bookshelf with Sides Done


I did have to use a ratchet strap to pull things straight a bit:

Straitening Bookshelves with Ratchet Strap


Since the ends attached from the outside, I added extra braces under each shelf end:

Bookshelf End Braces


And here are the shelves completed:

Completed Bookshelves


And attached to the floor:

Bookshelves Attached to Floor


And the wall on top:

Bookshelves Attached to Floor


And then it was time to start loading!

Books in Bookshelves


And then on to the other wall:

Library Bookshelves on 2nd Wall


With the two bookshelves in place, here is what the library looked like before starting:

Library Storage


And then, needless to say, we have finally purged a lot of things we believe we would no longer use...

Library Cleaned Up

More Library Cleaned Up

Still More Library Cleaned Up


...or stored them in the area above the bathroom/pantry/closet walls, which was part of the purpose of that whole platform:

Upper Storage


As always, we are thankful to the Lord for granting the resources to do these things, and to the folks who have made all of this possible!

May this house be a house of worship to and learning about God at all times!

-- David

Friday, August 23, 2019

Marriage Marker - Our Sweet Sixteenth Wedding Anniversary

Today, Dave and I celebrate our sweet sixteenth wedding anniversary! (WOO-HOO!!) (Well, Dave says we have to wait until 1:30 p.m. Central Time before it's official.....lol)

We are so very thankful to the Lord for granting us the time together that He has, and we always pray He glorify Himself in our marriage, and that He might draw others to Christ through us!

David & Susan Wedding Couple


To give a little background, Dave and I met at the church we both attended. We got "thrown" onto the same church softball team at the last minute. My name had somehow been placed on two rosters, and, little did we know it, our whole future was straddling between two pieces of paper. Our friend, Dorothy, was the one who made the decision to put me on the team Dave was on, so she holds the title of being our match maker :) I had played bobby sox softball in 6th grade but not much since then, so I was pretty rusty and insecure about it. At the first practice, Dave and I ended up being each other's warm up catch partner. I will never forget how kind and patient he was with me. I was throwing the ball all over the place, and he was just steady and respectful and rolled with it. Over the course of the summer, we became friends, and then started dating, and got married almost exactly two years after our first date:

David & Susan Engagement Day


That summer as we slowly became friends, we made discovery after discovery of how like-minded we were, how our upbringings were extremely similar, how we went to the same church at different times growing up, how both of our families were very musical, and our shared love for, of all things, barbershop music. We had both sung in barbershop groups in our youth:

Susan's Barbershop Groups

David's Barbershop Group


And we had a roving barbershop quartet sing before and after our wedding ceremony :)

Barbershop Group 'Q; at Wedding


The list goes on and on and on.....

Backing up a bit, I remember that summer on my 38th birthday, my family took me out for a wonderful birthday brunch, and one of my gifts was a gorgeous frog prince statue to remind me that my Prince Charming was out there, I just hadn't met him yet. I was kind of discouraged, and this was a very thoughtful gift that reminded me "he" was out there! That very afternoon, I got a voicemail from Dave, my new friend on the softball team, asking if I wanted to go to the batting cages with him and his buddy. That was the start of a beeeeeeeeutiful friendship.....

On a side note, I recently found one of my journals that spanned that period of time. I had made the decision a few months beforehand to stop dating and looking for the right guy and focus on my Christian walk and on Christ. I believe God was drawing me to Himself and honored those months of diligently seeking Him and focusing on Him alone. In that journal, I had written down all of the qualities I was looking for in a Godly husband, and when I was reading it the other day, I realized that Dave met every single quality, and I had to laugh and thank God that He did such a better job at finding a husband for me than I could have.

Over the course of those two years of dating, the Lord brought us through some heavy-duty theological issues, and any one of them probably would have been a deal breaker for our relationship, but the Lord seemed to bring us both along and establish a strong, like-minded, Christ-centered bond. It was something I had not experienced in a relationship before, and we both recognized the precious, life-long value of it.

We look back and are astonished that God preserved both of us through a lot of self-inflicted detours and curve balls in each of our lives before bringing us together.

Our worldview had started to change over the course of our dating years, and we knew after we got married, all bets were off and we were probably on our way into uncharted territory. On our wedding day, we had the theme to the Indiana Jones movie play as our recessional, and after our fathers had pronounced us husband and wife (both of our fathers officiated the ceremony), they said in unison "Let the adventure begin!" Don't believe me? Here is that wedding video clip!




And we have NOT been disappointed!

About two years later and after much prayer and consideration, we left our corporate jobs in Silicon Valley and moved to Texas to start our own homestead and live near like-minded Christian families. Our first two years together in California were like introducing our two rabbits, Buttercup and Derbie, and watching them get used to living together and bonding and having a ton of fun together. Yes, it really was a life of bunnies and lollipops. Well, bunnies and Cold Stone Creamery ice cream, to be exact :)

Buttercup & Derby


After moving to Texas it was like throwing Buttercup and Derbie into the path of a predator and watching them cling together for dear life. LOL! I say that partly joking. But the next fourteen years have proven to be the hardest, yet most precious and spiritually rewarding years yet. And I am in awe as I have watched my husband cling to Christ in times of heartache, difficulty, trial and testing. You talk about throwing monkey wrenches into newly married life. We went from a life of ease and uber-convenience to:

  • Living off grid (we lived for 10 years in our 5th wheel trailer before moving into our house, and its amenities actually did help us transition)
  • No piped-in running water
  • No grid electricity, only solar
  • No air conditioning (well, just a smidge the first 1 or 2 summers :) )
  • Learning to live and get along in a close-knit Church community with many different personalities
  • Texas weather!

And we have cultivated trying to find God's working hand of providence, and maybe some humor (Dave makes me laugh all...the...time), in just about anything to keep things in perspective.

In the years we have lived an off-grid homesteading life, Dave has amazed me by rolling up his tech-geek sleeves and truly building a homestead from scratch. And I mean scratch. He is one of the most hard working people I have ever met. He has built a wonderful home for us (with God-sent assistance thoughout), including all kinds of clever inventions to handle all of our quirky farm needs. He never, ever ceases to amaze me. There is never a Honey-do list because as soon as I mention something, he's on it! My mother and father-in-law did a wonderful job of bringing up both of their sons as kind, responsible, resourceful gentlemen. I love my in-laws dearly, as well.

Most importantly, God ordained for me a husband who would lovingly and patiently be my catch partner in life. A man to speak to my struggles and weaknesses and help me in them, to encourage me and walk alongside me into the unknowns of life. Don't get me wrong, this lifestyle can definitely bring out the worst in us, but, I have seen the Holy Spirit slowly and consistently, with all grace, mercy and love, sand away those raw edges in Dave, increasingly manifested by:

  • Consistently modeling Christ to me, loving me as Christ loves the Church
  • Leading me in family worship every evening
  • Choosing charity (love) every day
  • Choosing forgiveness and praying for God not to hold an offense to someone's account (that is a hard prayer)
  • Trusting more and more in God's sovereignty
  • Helping me set boundaries to keep my carnal man in check

Dave makes it easy to submit, as I am called to do as his wife. He helps me want to be a better help meet to Him, and we help each other put on the full armor of God each day.

Dave has been and continues to be the biggest gift in my life, after Christ. I am eternally grateful for the one whom my soul loveth in this life. This sixteenth anniversary is so very sweet, indeed!

All thanks, praise and glory to God!

Susan

Friday, August 16, 2019

Providence's Perpetuation Provisions: The 5th of 2019 Chick Hatchings

The Lord graciously granted another set of chicks to be hatched out this 2019 -- number 5 for the year!

This mama was hatched out herself late last year as part of a surprise set of chicks, and so was sitting what seems to be pretty early for her, but we'll take it! :D

She hatched out 10, and all 10 are still doing well today!

Here they are not long after entering the world:

5th Round of 2019 Chicks

More of 5th Round of 2019 Chicks


And here's their video:




We are always thankful to God for granting these provisions! It is our prayer that He guide us in the use of them, and in all things spiritual and temporal, for His glory and the benefit of others!

-- David

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Hugelkultur Garden Beds - Update I

One thing we have had to learn here is no matter how much we plan, things do not happen in the way or time frame we think they might. Other priorities, resources, etc. are factors that play into this, and so, we have had to learn to be patient, and to keep working toward the things we are trying to do here, as God would allow, and pray that He leads in them all (ie. that we don't try to go down paths He doesn't have for us). We pray for His leading in all areas of our lives, and for the patience to wait on Him, trusting in His love, goodness and wisdom, even if things never end up like we had originally hoped for or planned.

Back in 2013, we did a blog post about starting hugelkultur garden beds, where we explained that generally, this involves burying (below and/or above ground) tree materials, like stumps, trunks or even branches, under your garden soil, and apparently, as the tree material rots, it also becomes very absorbent, and is supposed to help with holding moisture in the garden bed. Back then, we only did one that was in a dug-out bed, but my plan always was to put another one next to it.

Well, back in January of 2018, we started revamping the original hugelkultur bed by adding more branches, and then started on the new one, which was planned to be above ground. My understanding has become that the buried ones are not as good because the water collects in the dug-out bed, and then just gets absorbed into the soil. But, we have it and so re-filled it with branches, and started the new bed with old logs and branches above ground, and Lord willing we'll eventually see how each fares.

Here is the work from last year. After placing all the old wood, I was able to add on top a load of mulch from the local landfill, where they have a huge, huge pile of it that we can go get pretty inexpensively:

New Wood in Hugelkultur Bed

New Hugelkultur Bed

Wood in Hugelkultur Beds

Covering Hugelkultur Bed in Mulch

Hugelkultur Beds Partially Covered in Mulch


Well, fast forward to this year somewhat recently. I have finally made the time and been able to take the time to start making landfill trips more consistently, and covering the hugelkultur beds was first on the list. I think it took nearly two loads in the back of the truck, where I have a 4-foot high, OSB-walled mulch carrier, to cover it all.

This is how it looked before starting to cover this time:

Ready to Continue Covering Hugelkultur Beds in Mulch


And then after one load, I believe:

More Mulch on Hugelkultur Beds


And then covered in total:

Hugelkultur Beds Covered in Mulch


And now, we hope to be able to try them out next year, as God wills!

We thank the Lord for the resources to build these hugelkultur beds, the safety in all of the trips, and the physical strength to do all of the mulch unloading and spreading; and we pray He applies it to the ground so as to allow the growth of food at some point, if He might, again, in accordance with His will!

-- David