Thursday, June 28, 2018

Providence's Perpetuation Provisions: 2018's 2nd, 3rd & 4th Round of Chicks

We are very thankful for the continued perpetuation of the chickens God has graciously granted us, with 3 more hatchings this 2018!

This is group 2 -- 11 of them she hatched out! I thought it was 10 originally, but when I moved them into the summer kitchen later, to give them more room, there was a bonus one! :D

2nd Hatching of Chicks 2018

And here they are at night all tucked in with their mommy (I have this in the video as well below):

2nd Hatching of Chicks 2018 Tucked in for the Night

And here is group 3 -- 6 for this hen!

3nd Hatching of Chicks 2018

Two sad notes though...

These groups are about the same age, and now about 1/3 the size of the normal chickens. I had somewhat recently moved both groups out into our pen area under some oak trees, and one morning as I lifted the lid on the coup, there were 2 dead ones, 1 with its head and neck slicked down. Arg...that usually means a snake tried to swallow it but couldn't get it down so quit. I figure the other one just got trampled in the the commotion. So, we're down 2 from these 2 groups.

And then just last night, I found what I'm pretty sure is one of the blonde mommies from one of these groups basically dead (body completely limp but just hadn't finished dying, which it did not long after) in the main chicken tractor. Sigh. But, we are thankful to the Lord for any eggs and the hatched chicks He granted from her.

Finally, this is group 4. This one has a sad story too. She originally hatched out 9, but one died within 24 hours. Then one morning I walked in, and one was laying there dead, and one was missing. Arg...snake! Sure enough, I found it in the corner of the room with a lump in its midsection. So, I dispatched it to the compost pile. But the next morning, I walked in, and now 2 were dead, with one having its head and neck slicked down...sigh. I think they were getting in from the corner of the room as the outside siding of the summer kitchen is not complete. So, I put a cinder block inside against the corner, and that has seemed to stop the "bleeding".

Still, we are thankful for the little 4-pack of chicks God has graciously allowed us to continue to have!

4nd Hatching of Chicks 2018

And here is a video of all 3 groups:

Again, we are grateful to the Lord for the provisions of these new chicks! We always pray for the right attitude toward them, that they are not ours but His, to dispense with as He pleases, just as I believe we ourselves are. May we trust His perfect will and give thanks in all things!

-- David

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