Wednesday, June 20, 2018

The Orchard - Spring 2018

With the previous two Winters being somewhat mild weather-wise, there wasn't much activity with our fruit trees. However, this past Winter had quite a few more cold days, and I'm thinking that really made a difference, because by God's graces we've had a very nice fruit bounty this Spring!

Here's a current picture of the orchard, for which we are very thankful to the Lord:

Orchard Spring 2018

So far, God has granted plums and the first apricots produced from a couple of our apricot trees. We've been extra diligent this year in getting to the fruit before the birds do as we've had trouble with that in the past. Thanks to Sue for going out there 3 times a day! Here they are ripening:

2018 Plums & Apricots

Here's Mimi keeping guard over them....sort of. She's really just keeping cool on a hot day! :)

2018 Plums Ripening on Woodburning Stove

And here are more plums with apricots ripening:

2018 Plums & Apricots Ripening

The easiest way for us to preserve the fruit is to dry them on our solar food dehydrator. It works very well, and we are thankful for it! In the past, we have ended up leaving the plums on too long, maybe to make sure they were dry, but they end up very stiff; and so, this year with them, we've made slices in the sides, to help hopefully dry them out thoroughly without going too far. It's closer to what we do with fruit out of which we can remove the pit, like peaches:

2018 Fruit on Solar Food Dehydrator

And here is basically all of the dried fruit so far. We are very thankful to God for granting these provisions!

Orchard Spring 2018 Dried Fruit

Finally, and sadly, earlier in the year, a storm knocked over one of our bigger trees:

Fallen Fruit Tree

You can see the size of it:

Size Perspective of Fallen Fruit Tree

The inside of the trunk was almost like paper. I assume some sort of disease got to it. But, not much around here goes to waste typically, so it has become firewood for Winter time. We are thankful to the Lord for all of the fruit He has granted from this tree over time!

Cross Section of Fallen Fruit Tree

The peaches and nectarine trees have many fruit on them, and so we pray God keeps them and allows us to harvest them in due time. Interestingly, one of our newer trees has had probably 100 peaches on it, but I believe in keeping Lev 19:23-25, which says:
23 And when ye shall come into the land, and shall have planted all manner of trees for food, then ye shall count the fruit thereof as uncircumcised: three years shall it be as uncircumcised unto you: it shall not be eaten of.

24 But in the fourth year all the fruit thereof shall be holy to praise the Lord withal.

25 And in the fifth year shall ye eat of the fruit thereof, that it may yield unto you the increase thereof: I am the Lord your God.

And, besides this being in the Bible, Puritan commentator John Gill, on the end of vs 23, says:
which was a provision partly for the benefit of fruit trees newly planted, whose fruit, when they first bear, gardeners frequently take off immediately, and do not suffer them to grow to any perfection, by which means a tree will grow stronger, and will bear more and better fruit another year; and partly for the health of man, which physical reason is given by Aben Ezra, who observes that the fruit that comes unto the third year there is no profit by it, but is hurtful; and chiefly because, as it is proper that the first fruits should be given to the Lord before any is eaten, so it is right that it should be given seasonably, and when it is brought to its perfection: three years were to be reckoned, as Jarchi and Ben Gersom say, from the time the tree was planted.
And Matthew Henry says:
3. We are hereby taught not to be over-hasty in catching at any comfort, but to be willing with patience to wait the time for the enjoyment of it, and particularly to acknowledge ourselves unworthy of the increase of the earth, our right to the fruits of which was forfeited by our first parents eating forbidden fruit, and we are restored to it only by the word of God and prayer, 1 Tim. 4:5

Now, since the priesthood is no more, some might argue the whole command has gone away, but for me, I look at it as the 4th year going away, and we still wait for after 3 years to harvest from a tree, discarding any fruit during those 3 years. Needless to say, it has been a little difficult to toss down so many, but we pray God glorifies Himself through these things.

Again, we are very thankful to the Lord for granting these provisions! May we bear much fruit, the fruit of His Spirit, by the graces He supplies to us!

-- David

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Storing Light - Update I

It's been a very long time since we did our update about our solar setup, mostly because nothing has really changed other than having to replace equipment along the way and modifying some configurations, but recently things have changed regarding it, and so we thought we'd do a little update about that...

There was a sale on solar panels we were made aware of, nice big 36V/8A ones. I decided to purchase one to be able to add to our current 3-panel system on the solar trailer. Well, the nice gents from here who went and got the panels showed up with 2 more panels...said they were ours and there were no refunds. :) Well, how very gracious and giving they were to do that for us!

And so, now we had 3 panels, and I needed to figure out what to do with them...

First, we pulled the older panels so someone else here could use them. Here is the solar trailer with the 3 smaller panels removed:

Solar Trailer with Panels Removed

And here is the platform I made a long time ago so I could turn the trailer easier so it would face the sun throughout the day; it's pretty torn up now. For probably 12 1/2 years I turned that thing nearly every was going to be nice to not have to do that anymore!

Solar Trailer Platform

I really wanted to be able to continue to turn them though to face them into the sun, especially at day end when we are using our computers and the sun was going away, and for cloudier days. And so the Lord granted I come up with the idea to attach them to palettes, and here's how I did it...

I got some 90 degree angle braces, drilled holes into the panel frames, bolted one end of the angle brace to the panel, and screwed-in the other to the palette:

Solar Panel Angle Brace to Palette

And in front, I used small angle brackets:

Solar Panel Front Bracket to Palette

All in all, it thankfully ended up being pretty solid, and they turn nicely! And now Sue can spin them too if necessary, which was a problem before with the solar trailer.

But, here we get high winds with storms, or the occasional dust devil that rolls through, so I packed the backside of the palette with cinder blocks, which has thankfully worked well so far, even in severe-level storm winds:

Cinder Blocks on Solar Panel Palette

And here is how we have them set today, facing east, south and west (right to left). Currently during normally sunny days, I'm only turning the right one, which is apparently doing most of the work as I decided to stack the charge controllers. I originally had a 150V/50A controller, to which I hooked up all 3 panels in series, not really understanding what I was doing. Well, if you know about these things, I was potentially going to see output of 75-90A, and sure enough, I fried it. And so, with a little better knowledge, we bought a 30A and 60A controller and run 2 in series to the 60A and the other panel to the 30A:

Solar Panels Configuration

Some years ago when our batteries went bad and we needed new ones, I decide to down-grade the number of battery banks we had, as I just felt there were too many banks (10) for the input we were getting. Well, now with 6 banks, and all the new input, the batteries seem to be working better than they ever have! The Lord has also graciously granted we be going on just over 6 years on these batteries, which typically have an expected life of 5, and we are very thankful, as they are very expensive.

In the end, we look at solar power and electricity as intermediate steps of becoming sustaining on our homestead, but we thank God for these provisions, and thanks again to the folks who made it possible!

-- David

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Invitation to Our Lord's Day Gatherings

If you've followed our blog at all, you might probably be aware that we have a YouTube page where we post all our videos.

What you might not know though is that we also live-stream our Lord's Day fellowship times. Our prayer has always been that they might be a blessing to others perhaps in some way.

And so, we're just mentioning it in case you weren't aware, and to welcome anyone who might interested in joining us live. They are also saved on our YouTube channel so they can be viewed at a later time. The next ones are listed under the "Upcoming live streams" section.

Currently, we stream our Lord's Day sermon and singing time starting at 2:30PM Central time, and then our holy reading time at 5:00PM Central time. Our meetings are very simple and plain, and the sermons/readings given by our elders are always Christ-based, and are usually writings from teachers of the past, like Puritan writers we appreciate, and often emphasize holy living and practical aspects of Christianity.

Lord willing, we should be wrapping up a series on the application on the live of Hezekiah in the first meeting time this Lord's Day, and then we're planning on starting a new holy reading from Thomas Manton on self denial, which I've personally been through twice already and really believe it should be required study for Christians.

During our acapella singing time, we sing from the psalter we use, and from a home-made hymnal. We have the chat on at this time too in case anyone is following along in the psalter and wants to request one during the request time, and we are happy to send anyone a photocopy of our hymnal too.

Here are the two streams from this past Lord's Day, the first again from the Hezekiah series, and then the second finishing up a series on Christ's eternal existence and the dignity of His person, from Thomas Manton. We also put streams that are a part of a series in playlists:

The internet does stutter some at times, but I believe at least the audio is generally steady, and quite frankly, I'm amazed it works as well as it does, given we're out in the country connected to the tower in town wirelessly. :)

Anyway, we're not trying to sell this to anyone, but I thought we'd put this out there in case someone would like to join us during these times.

We always pray God glorifies Himself through our lives in whatever way He may, and we pray we are good witnesses for Him, grow in His graces and image each day, and that we are of benefit to others in some way!

-- David

Friday, May 25, 2018

Elvis' Venominally Fangtastic Fright!

Sadly, our buck Rocky now has a pretty bad injury on his leg, which has prevented him from performing his male-goat duties this last goat breeding round:

Our Buck Rocky

However, the group graciously allowed us to basically take over "ownership" of a buck graciously given to the group by some very nice friends of the group (all the bucks around here get used whenever needed). His name is Elvis, and he's Lamancha, which is where we've been wanting to go with our breeds, and here he is:

Our Buck Elvis

A few weeks ago, I was in the house, and I saw Sue running back with the dogs that she had just taken up to the fields to let go in a fenced area to run around for the evening. She looked like she was in a hurry, so I stepped outside to see if something was wrong.

There was......rattlesnake! It was in one of our pecan tree areas. She had already let the dogs off the leashes, and they were the ones that alerted her to it with them barking at it, but thanks to God she was able to get them leashed up again and her and them out of there.

So, I went up there with a shovel and the shot gun. The rattler was tucked in a tuft of weeds, but finally I could see it. In trying to save a shotgun shell, I lunged at it with the shovel in an attempt to maim it, but all I did was end up covering it with the shovel head. Nice. And so that was that...I aimed the shotgun, and sent him packing.

Here's brave Sue after carrying it back:

Sue Carrying the Rattlesnake

And its rattles:

Rattlesnake Rattle

Thanks to the Lord that all went well!

The next morning though, Sue had noticed Elvis was sitting in the goat shed opening, didn't get up when she came that direction, but didn't appear as if anything was wrong. It wasn't until that evening that she discovered him limping pretty badly.

And then we discovered the cause -- snake bite! The leg was swollen, you could see puncture marks, and some blood-stained fur around it. Oh no.

We wondered if it was the one we killed or another.

In researching snake bites, we read that if the goat doesn't die in a few hours, there's a good possibility it will live. Well, if he had been bit by the snake we killed, it was nearly 24 hours by then, so we were hoping and praying for the best.

Besides the external betadine, we gave him some activated charcoal in his feed, hoping that might help remove some of the toxins.

Over the first day or two, the swelling moved into his chest, and down his stomach, and on one of those days, he spent the day just sitting in the shed...we figured he just wasn't feeling very well. :)

In the following picture, you can see the bite on his swollen left leg after we had drenched it with betadine:

Our Goat Elvis with Snake Bit Leg

At this point, a couple of days into it, he had an appetite, which we figured was good.

Today, thanks to God's graces and mercies, Elvis is doing much better, and there's only a little swelling on the leg! And we haven't seen another rattlesnake since here.

Here's a video documenting a couple days into it, a few days after that, and then almost three weeks after that (the day of this blog post, about 25 days since the bite):

We are very grateful to the Lord for sparing Elvis, and for granting him the healing He did! We pray Elvis will continue to be of benefit to the community!

-- David

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

A House - Update L - Lower Siding, Update I

In our last house update, we had started on the lower external siding. Well, God has graciously granted we be able to continue with the process, this time on the west side!

Here it is with the porch ledger board, drip edge, and half the tar paper up:

House West Side Lower Siding Ledger Board & Partial Tar Paper

Another of the House West Side Lower Siding Ledger Board & Partial Tar Paper

And then half the siding:

House West Side Lower Siding Half of the Siding Up

And then the siding complete!

House West Side Lower Siding Complete

We are very thankful to the Lord for granting the continued progress on the house! And thanks to those who continue to make it possible for us to do this in resources, and thanks to Sue for the help putting up the tar paper! :D

On to the south side!

-- David

Thursday, May 3, 2018

David's Digest: Seeing Your Loved One in Heaven

I have heard often how wonderful it will be to see our families and friends, or those loved ones we've lost, once again in heaven.

And while I believe we will see them, and that would surely be a wondrous occasion, especially after grieving the loss of them here, is that really what heaven is about? Are they on whom our eyes should mainly be focused when considering the joys of heaven?

Puritan Thomas Manton discusses the true joy and satisfaction of the saints in heaven -- seeing their loved One -- the Lord Christ Jesus -- instead of by faith alone, now by sight, forever, and being like Him!

From his sermons upon 1 John iii, sermon iii, which you can read here:
But we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. - 1 John iii. 2

Thirdly, The third thing is satisfaction, not mentioned in the text, but implied and supplied from a parallel place; for we having the sight and presence of God, must needs be ravished with it: Ps. xvi. 11, 'In thy presence,' or face, 'is fulness of joy, and at thy right hand are pleasures for evermore.' The fruition of God's immediate presence must needs exceed all the joy which the heart of man is capable of. If this breedeth not true contentment and felicity, what will?

So our admission into the everlasting estate is called 'an entering into the joy of our Lord,' Mat. xxv. 41. There must needs arise an incredible delectation from the vision of God, as also from our fruition of him, or being like unto him, and our possession of the whole estate of happiness thence resulting. Our great business will be to love what we see, and our great happiness to have what we love. This will be a full, perpetual, and never-failing delight to us. The vision hath an influence upon this joy. If the light of the sun be pleasant, how comfortable will it be to see the Sun of righteousness shining forth in all his glory?

Now, when the mind is a little raised in the thoughts of God, what a delightful thing is it! Ps. civ. 34, 'My meditation of him shall be sweet; I will be glad in the Lord.' Yet how tasteless to our souls are thoughts of God now in comparison of what they will be then? There is something in us [now] which carrieth us off from God, which liketh not to retain God in our knowledge. Now, when our hearts are more suited and prepared for that sight, our thoughts must needs be glorious and ravishing.

Again, this likeness conduceth to this satisfaction. Take it for holiness, God himself is 'glorious in holiness,' Exod. xv. 11. Now to have the beauty of our God upon us is the greatest gift that can be bestowed upon us. When there was a debate in Ahasuerus's court, 'What should be done to the man whom the king delighteth to honour? Esther vi. 8, it was resolved, 'Let the royal apparel be brought which the king useth to wear, and the horse that the king rideth upon, and the crown royal which is set upon his head.' Or take it for glory and immortality: 1 Peter iv. 13, 'That when his glory shall be revealed, we may be glad with exceeding joy.'

This is the soul's rest in God, as satisfied with the full and perfect demonstration of his love; it is the best estate we can be in, for we are not capable of a better. It is the end [purpose] of our faith, and hope, and labours. Of our faith, 1 Peter i. 5 ; the end of our hope, Acts xxvi. 7. Now when a man hath obtained his end, then he is satisfied, as being in his perfect estate.

2. It is the utmost period of perfection men can be advanced unto, to enjoy God and be like him. Beyond God and above God nothing can be enjoyed ; with God nothing can make us miserable, and without God nothing can make us happy. If a man should enjoy all the world, there is something without [external to] him and above him that can make him miserable; if the world smileth and God frowneth, what will you do? Ps. xxxix. 11, 'When thou with rebukes dost correct man for iniquity, thou makest his beauty to consume away like a moth: surely every man is vanity.' None can obstruct God's vengeance, or stop his wrath; as when the sun is gone, all the candles and torches in the world cannot make it day.

3. If a glimpse of God's love be so precious to the saints, what will the sight of his face be? Ps. iv. 6, 7, 'Who will show us any good ? Lord, lift up the light of thy countenance upon us: thou hast put gladness in my heart, more than in the time that their corn and wine increased.' If imperfect holiness be so precious, what will complete holiness be?

If you are currently grieving, I am truly sorry for your loss. But I do hope you'll consider the words above, in this concern with your walk with the Lord.

May Christ be our all now and forever, may our true joy in this life be in seeing Him as He is revealed in Scripture, His loveliness and beauty (in who He is and what He did), and may we desire to be like Him now and in eternity!

-- David

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Community Singing - April 2018

Two Lord's days ago, we were able to gather together to record our next set of Psalms so that we may learn God's word in this way, and that His praises might be in our hearts more and more! The psalter we use is from Crown & Covenant, and we're thankful to have these available.

And so, 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 66A-68E

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

Psalms 60A-65B

We pray God glorifies Himself through these things, that He edifies His Church through them, and that He writes His law on our hearts that we might not sin against Him!

-- David