This is David & Susan Sifford's journal of what we pray is our sojourn of life (Hebrews 11:8-10) along the narrow way (Matt 7:14), even the old paths (Jeremiah 6:16), submitting to the Bible as a light unto both (Psalms 119:105). It is our prayer that these documented moments in our earthly time benefit whom God might choose to edify, but ultimately that God glorifies Himself through them.

Month: August 2008

Storing Rain IV Addendum

I thought I’d add a few things we’re continuing to learn about the cistern project:

– The concrete guys should have used a vibrating device that is commonly used when pouring concrete walls for our cistern when it was poured. They tried going around with a hammer tapping the walls to help the concrete settle, but in some places it didn’t work; and with “misses” when using the sealer, there are leaks. And so I’m having to pump water back and forth between the two sides of the cistern to empty one side at a time so as to patch it. Sadly, as indicated in our Storing Rain Update post, we have more water than will be held by just one side. We’re hoping to offload some of it to people here in the community who need it, and the rest we’ll attempt to get to our pond.

– Even with the “kickers” in place, cross braces, and the forms nailed together, the weight of the concrete still was pushing outward to the point of even breaking the form studs across the long way (I believe they were 2x6s, and they were breaking across the 6″ (5 1/2″) side). For information to the people pouring the concrete, there needs to be extra bracing across the entire siding of the structure and especially at the joints.

– I should have painted the inside of the plywood used for the siding of the cistern’s cover with mold-resistant paint before putting it up because, unlike the treated wood used for the framing of the structure (at least so far from what I can tell), mold was indeed growing on it. I tried spraying it with bleach water, but that wasn’t enough; and so I went back with pure bleach, and that seemed to do the trick. After, I had to get into the cistern to do the painting, which required I bring in a folding chair to stand on while painting. While it’s probably not ideal that I have to swim around in our water, I did get to cool off, and it did allow me to kill a black widow that had made its home in there. 🙂

— David

Marriage Marker

James 1:17 – “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.

5 years ago this day, Sue and I used this verse in reference to each other on the bulletin at our wedding, as the Lord granted us to be joined under Him in the union of marriage. Just as God and His word never change, I can only believe that Sue has been given to me by God, because she is a good (by God’s graces and mercies) and perfect (through Christ; and for me) gift.

Sue and I met at a “church”, and we had the same beliefs, although not biblical When the Lord began to show me something different, I knew I had to tell Sue, because being convinced of these things, Sue and I now believed differently; and anything further (ie. marriage) would be an (unequal yoking. I did, and when Sue acknowledged these beliefs to be true, the Lord not only granted her that grace and mercy to believe the truth, but also granted me a wife.

The Bible is full of “typology”, where temporal things are done, happen or are commanded by God to reveal spiritual things, including “pictures” of Christ and who He is. God has instituted many things, but one of the first for man was marriage (Gen 1:27; John Gill’s commentary on this verse), which means it and what it represents is probably pretty important. That’s because the Bible represents Christ and His relationship to His redeemed people as a marriage (Matt 22:2-14; Matt 25:1-13; Rev 19:7-9). It is important our marriages properly reflect Christ and His relationship to the Church, His bride.

This has been and still is Sue’s and my prayer. We pray He glorifies Himself through us here on earth and in the heavenly realms. I always pray the Lord use me in whatever way He might to bring Sue along His pathway of spiritual life to Celestial City.

No human is perfect, least of all me. But as I said, God has granted me the perfect wife, the perfect one for me. He has granted her many of the attributes of a good wife, and she is a most excellent help-meet. She desires to serve the Lord as best as she can with His help for His glory, and endeavors to seek and follow Him with all of her heart. What a wonderful blessing!!

I am continuously humbled that the Lord so graciously granted me Sue. May He glorify Himself through our lives and through our marriage.

— David

Storing Rain Update

After several months of drought and near 100 degree temperatures every day, the Lord in His wisdom opened up the heavens over the last several days, and needless to say we got drenched. God graciously granted probably some 6-7 inches.

Well, that kind of rain does wonders for ponds and catch-water tanks. Not only is our 2500 gallon black tank now full, but here are pictures of the first and second sides of the barn cistern:

Those represent probably some 11,000 to 12,000 gallons, which mostly came in during these rains.

Here are pictures of our pond as well:

And of course, Gary now gets to do some “goose things”:

We are most grateful once again for the Lord’s provisions, and His mercies in the weather.

Not only are we grateful for His temporal mercies, but for His spiritual ones as well. Psalms 29:10 starts with this: “The LORD sitteth upon the flood…” John Gill says this refers to “Noah’s flood; which is always designed by the word here used, the Lord sat and judged the old world for its wickedness, and brought a flood upon them, and destroyed them; and then he abated it, sent a wind to assuage the waters, stopped up the windows of heaven, and the fountains of the great deep, and restrained rain from heaven; and he now sits upon the confidence of waters in the heavens, at the time of a thunder storm, which threatens with an overflowing flood; and he remembers his covenant, and restrains them from destroying the earth any more: and he sits upon the floods of ungodly men, and stops their rage and fury, and suffers them not to proceed to overwhelm his people and interest; and so the floods of afflictions of every kind, and the floods of Satan’s temptations, and of errors and heresies, are at his control, and he permits them to go so far, and no farther.

Blessed be the name of the Lord!

— David

Summer Kitchen

The original plan for the root cellar was to have a concrete slab on top, which would allow for the constructing of a building on top of it, thus creating a rather large insulation space to help keep the root cellar cool (plain air space is apparently a good insulator). We decided (at least at this point) to make this building a summer kitchen, allowing Sue and any of the women in the community who might want to use it, to cook and can the Lord’s provisions in a hopefully ventilated and cooler environment and to not heat up their own houses. And so, the design was to have the north half be the kitchen; the south west quarter be a pantry for the kitchen; and because I would like to have a place to take up the piano again, I thought I’d make the south east corner a piano room.

This is personally my first real building project. While this is still a work in progress, here is a little tour of where it is today and the process by which we got there.

Building the walls:

Time for a “barn” raising. The Lord has granted us the fellowship of like-minded brethren (see here, here, and here) to help and show their love for other brethren:

A quick point of note: when securing a wall to its perpendicular wall at a corner, and in anticipation of internal walls, you not only have the corner stud, but you need another stud to be placed stud width plus 3/4″. This will allow for the tacking up of internal walls. I did that for the corners of the building; however, I forgot about the middle dividing wall. And so, Lord willing if I do put internal walls in, I will need to add a 2×4 wall stud to support the internal walls:

Here is a backside view with the first wall braced:

And more “barn” raising:

“I think the meaning of life is that way.”
“Yes, I see it!”
“I think the meaning of life is over here, and I’m now contemplating it.”
“Yes, I see it!”
“Isn’t it meal time?”

Welcome to the frame of our summer kitchen building:

To secure the building down, we anchored it with heavy-duty 4-5″ concrete bolts:

Here is the structure with the roof put on. We used 24′ long, 2×8 rafters for the roof, and then covered it with Solar Board to help with insulation. Notice here above each window frame now has a “header.” This was suggested to me by our neighbor Logan, who has had more experience building. This is to keep the pressure from the rafters causing a sag in the window frames on the windows. Thanks to Logan:

The metal anchors are called “hurricane clips”, and they apparently help tremendously with high winds:

We covered the roof with tar paper and then began installing the corrugated roof metal:

I continued with Solar Board for the siding, and this is how far I have worked on it:

The Lord is gracious and merciful.

— David

Storing Rain IV

Every time a roof line is erected around here, part of the thought process going into and coming out of building that roof line is where the water “caught” by it will go, because that water falling from the sky and “intercepted” by a roof line is a water provision from God, for which we are thankful. After two droughts in three years here, catching and storing as much as possible has seemed to become imperative.

Along with the barn the Lord graciously allowed us came a pretty big roof line, which translates into a pretty big water “catch” when it rains. And so, we began to plan a catch-water system for the barn, which wasn’t quite simple.

You see, the barn’s roof line theoretically (square feet X .62 per inch of rain) would fill the 2500 gallon black container from our first catch-water roof line in just about one inch of rain, and we are supposed to get around 26 inches per year average. Well, this would mean lining up a whole bunch of black tanks, or finding other means.

We looked at larger tanks, 10,000 gallons or more, and the cost of delivery of them goes way up because they are considered wide loads in transport. And so, I decided we would look into building a water cistern. With it, I was hoping to 1) hold nearly 20,000 gallons; 2) that it would be above ground so that the water would flow out by gravity and not need any electricity for pumping; and 3) that it would last a long time. And so, when we hired the crew to do the root cellar, we hired them to do the cistern as well.

The concrete contractor decided to implement steel reinforced concrete for the walls a foot in width that would connect to a previously poured slab. I also thought it might be a good idea to put a wall in the middle to split the cistern into two sections so that if we ever needed to empty the cistern (for cleaning or otherwise), the worst we would have to do would be to drain only one side. I included in the plans at the bottom of the structure one exit spout in the first section and two in the second section, plus the overflow spout at the top of the second section. Instead of a pipe in between the two sections, the contractor decided to just lower the middle partition an inch and a half to allow for flow from the first section to the second section that way.

And here is the process. They put sand and sand bags below the bottom slab to help against shifting:

And they poured:

And worked the concrete:

Here is the finished slab:

After the slab was poured, they began to set up the wall forms:

Remembering their root cellar troubles, they built cross-hatch bracing to support the internal form structure:

Here are the outside walls before the “kicker” braces are in place:

And here is how they braced the internal and external walls to each other:

In my design for being able to hold a certain amount of water, I decided to increase the height of the walls so as to accommodate the water storage requirements with using as little of a square area footprint on the ground as possible. Sadly, this ended up necessitating the extra expense of a concrete pump truck in the pouring of the walls. But, here it is in action:

And here is a finished wall:

With the concrete poured, some sort of covering was needed to keep bugs out and hide the caught water from the sun (which, when mixed with minerals from dirt and the like, forms algae). Instead of just putting a flat covering on it (like a pool cover), I decided to put a roof line on it to be able to catch that water and funnel it into the cistern as well. Here are a couple of pictures of it:

And now with one side of the cistern ready, it was time to install the piping directing the water from the roof into the cistern. Here is a general picture of that:

As before mentioned with our shed roof catch-water system, it is often good to install a roof washer, which filters the first several gallons of water coming off of the roof, which are likely to be dirty or have other organic material in them, so as little of that ends up in the water container:

I used metal straps screwed into the purlins or girts (the internal horizontal and vertical steel beams) of the barn to support the piping, thusly attaching it to something more sound than just the barn siding:

Here is a final filter which catches any larger items the roof washer didn’t get. For this I use aluminum window screening:

And here once again are the Lord’s provisions:

Once the cistern was poured, the contractor came and coated the inside of the cistern’s walls and floor with a potable concrete sealer. He used BASF’s Thoroseal. He missed a few spots, and I have since had to go in a re-coat the walls in places with more of the Thoroseal; but it appears that the sealer works well, and the leaks are slowly disappearing, with none of which we are aware at this time.

I had held off piping in the other side of the barn because of these leaks, but in the past couple of days I’ve been able to completely finish the second side of the cistern’s covering and roof and was able to install the piping for the second side of the barn:

Once again, we are very grateful to God for allowing us this cistern and His water provisions, both spiritual and temporal. May we not be leaky containers, but by His mercies be able to hold His graces and blessings as new containers (Matt 9:17; John Gill’s commentary on this verse).

— David

The Answer, My Friend, Is Blowing in the Wind

Dave and I lived in a cottage behind our landlady’s house before we moved to Texas. We weren’t able to have a washer and dryer in the cottage so we had a standing laundry mat “date” every other week to get it all done at once. I very much liked the fact that you could get all of your laundry washed and dried in a matter of two hours once every other week!

For many reasons, our ultimate goal here in Texas is for me to be able to hand wash and line dry all of our laundry. Setting up a homestead has been more demanding than we could have imagined and hand washing/drying the laundry has been pushed down on the list of priorities many times. It has been too easy to bring the bag of quarters into the laundry mat and take care of everything the automatic way. My mother-in-law had given me a wonderful outdoor clothes line before we moved, and it has been patiently waiting to be utilized. We were waiting to move onto our own land to set it up; but now that I didn’t have that excuse anymore (by about 10 months), we figured I could at least be drying most of our laundry. So Dave set up the line several weeks ago, and I am sorry I didn’t start it sooner! Thank you, Mom Sifford, for your gracious gift and foresight in knowing how critical this would be to our homestead life!!

We are now very familiar with the variable and strong winds here in Texas, so we knew the base of the clothes line had to be extremely secure. Thusly, Dave made two round metal forms and poured concrete into them to create a two-level anchor base and dug a hole to place it in the ground so as to make it portable if we need to relocate it.

The clothes line opens up very nicely when I’m ready to use it:

and then closes back up when I’m finished with it!

Surprisingly, I have really enjoyed the experience of being outside hanging the laundry surrounded by the peace on the land and fresh air, etc., rather than being in a hot, muggy laundry mat. I realize come winter that it may not be as enjoyable, but we didn’t choose this lifestyle for the sake of comfort and convenience: it was out of obedience to God and His Word, so there is joy and peace in any homesteading chore with that being the case.

I am currently researching wash tubs and wringers to start washing much of our laundry here on the land. Thanks again, Mom Sifford!


Providence’s Perpetuation Provisions

In trying to separate from dependence upon the world, we are hoping and praying that the Lord will perpetuate our animals here, so that we may have ongoing provisions, according to His will. These will be updates on any the Lord has graciously granted.


The same hen that has gone broody every year so far did again this year. A hatching cycle is 21 days, and you can almost set a clock by it. She sat through one cycle of our eggs with no chicks hatching. Last year she sat through another cycle of eggs that didn’t hatch before we borrowed eggs from the Bunkers to put under her for her third cycle (which worked last year). This year we didn’t wait, and the Bunkers graciously allowed us to have some more of their eggs to put under her in the second cycle. And sure enough, the Lord graciously brought forth 2 chicks!

Here they are still pretty new:

How’s that for a blanket!

Here they are recently:

“Momma always says…”

“‘Life is like a bag of hen scratch. You never know what you’re gonna get.'”

Taxi, please!


Here’s the latest of Winnie and Minnie:

Don’t let Minnie’s mature act here fool you in this up close and personal moment – she still likes to jump all over Sue’s back:


The Lord graciously granted our female pig to give birth to 5 piglets mid June. In His wisdom though, one was still born, and 2 more died within a week or two. However, again by God’s graces, we still have two healthy piglets running around, both which we believe are females.

Here they are lined up for a photo op:

And here’s up close and personal with the pigs, although I think a little too up close and personal for the sows liking. In the second part of the video though, I got smart and recorded from the outside of the pen:

Actually, I think she thought it was watering time. 🙂

Once again, we are grateful to the Lord for His provisions!

— David