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: June 2010

Providence’s Perennial Provisions: Agarita Berries

Agarita BerriesIn trying to live off of the land, we have learned to consider ways that God via the land already provides. There are quite a few native edibles out here, one being Agarita berries. They are small, red berries that ripen around this time, and can be fairly sweet if gathered at the right time. Even a bit tart, they’re not too bad.

And so, we decided this year to pick a few, to take advantage of the gift off of the land the Lord has granted.

This is a picture of a some Agarita berry plants with fairly ripe berries:

Agarita Berry Bush

And here is Sue gathering the berries. The Agarita plant leaves have very sharp points, and will stick you and stick in you; and so, she is wearing gloves:

Sue Picking Agarita Berries

When we picked the berries, we tried different methods, including using a fork to pluck them off, but decided to try to just grab as many berries as we could, which seemed to be the quickest way. However, when it came time to clean them, Sue had to go through the lot of them pulling out those prickly leaves; and in the end, it might have taken just as long to pick and clean them as it would have to just pluck them cleanly in the first place. Thanks to Sue for her patience in somewhat painfully going through all of those. Gary marveled at her patience too 🙂 :

Sue Cleaning Agarita Berries

And here are the results!

Harvested Agarita Berries

Since it’s only Sue and I here on our homestead, we have to make a lot of priority decisions as to what we spend our time doing. Because of how long it takes to collect them, we didn’t spend much more time doing that, although I went out one other time to try the fork-plucking method. And, to save time in the processing, and to continue to practice not relying on the world’s fuels, we put them in our solar food dehydrator to dry them:

Drying Agarita Berries in Our Solar Food Dehydrator

If you’re interested, here is a link to some details about the Agarita berry plant. And here is the Wikipedia entry for Agarita berries.

We are grateful to God for His provisioning of these perennial berries here growing natively off of the land.

— David

Providence’s Perpetuation Provisions: New Calf “Celestina”

The Lord again has granted us another calf to be born, a little heifer calf, to one our our heifers Carlita, who is out of our cow Holga (who is the mother of our new calf Rafaela). This new heifer is another chocolate brown one that looks just like our new calf Bernardo. Since she looks like chocolate, and some people think chocolate is heavenly, we thought we’d call her Celestina, which means, well, “heavenly” (I know that may sound a bit carnal (or is it, caramel?); but hey, we’re just trying to give her a name 🙂 ).

Here’s a picture:

New Heifer Longhorn Calf Celestina

And here’s her moving picture:

As always, we are grateful to God for His provisions of this new calf, and we pray He glorifies Himself through this act of Providence.

— David

The Orchard – Update I

Well, it’s been a couple of years since we posted about the orchard we have tried to start (if you click that link, pay no attention to the immodestly dressed person in the cowboy hat 🙂 ). Each year except this one, for which we only did replacements, we have tried to put in at least a few new trees. We now have 35 fruit trees — apricot, plum, nectarine, peach, apple, pear, and persimmon, 7 pecan trees, and 10 grape vines.

Here are the fruit trees:

Our Orchard
Our Orchard
Our Orchard

These are views of the fruit trees down the rows:

Our Orchard Between the Rows
Our Orchard Between the Rows

Here are the grape vines of the beginnings of our vineyard:

Our Vineyard

And our first little grapes! At this point, our plan for any grapes God graciously grants is to dry them into raisins:

First Grapes from the Vineyard

We haven’t really received much fruit up to this point; but this year the Lord has granted some apricots, nectarines and peaches. This is our first year to have apricots, and they are the first ones to be ripe enough to pick so far:

Apricots on the Tree

Here is Sue gathering some:

Sue Picking Apricots

And what we gathered:

Apricots from Our Orchard

In order to preserve the apricots without canning, freezing or having to use a preservative, we put the apricots in the solar food dehydrator. Also, I wanted to save the apricot seeds to be used in moderate quantities for the health benefits of vitamin B17; so they are being dried as well. And, on the lower shelf you can see some plums we were given, which we’re drying into prunes:

Apricot Halves and Pits in Solar Food Dehydrator

And here are a couple of pictures of the pecan trees. They really seem to grow slowly. We lost one last year too — it had been growing nicely, and then one day the leaves dried up, and it just died; and so we replaced it with a new one. Also, in order to allow the goats to keep our main homestead area mowed (thus allowing them access to all of that free food), I fenced off the orchard area, and each pecan tree, as you can see here:

Our Pecan Trees
Our Pecan Trees

We thank the Lord for allowing us to plant perennial fruit-bearing plants; and we pray for His provisions from them for many years, if it be His will.

— David

Providence’s Perpetuation Provisions: New Calf “Luchador”

I know from an interest and information stand-point posting calf after calf might get a little boring for some readers; but hopefully the readers will understand that these types of gracious provisions are for our livelihood, and are thus important events out here, and are wondrous in the granting of new life by our Creator.

And so, without further ado: the Lord has granted another calf to one of our cows — this one to Tiara, who is Amistosa’s daughter, and was our first born to our family on the land. It’s a little bull calf; and like the new Longhorn heifer calf born to Amistosa, he ended up with similar facial markings, much like a Mexican wrestler. Thus we decided to call him Luchador, which means “wrestler” in Spanish.

Here he is with his mama just before dark:

New Longhorn Bull Calf Luchador

And here’s the live action version:

We are once again very grateful to God for granting the provisions of this new calf.

— David


Providence’s Perpetuation Provisions: New Calf “Mascarilla”

With gratefulness we mention once again God granting a new calf to be born to one of our cows. This one is to Amistosa, and it’s a little heifer calf. She has markings on her face that reminded us of a Mexican wrestler; and so, we decided to name her Mascarilla, which is Spanish for “face mask.”

Here we have a picture of her:

New Longhorn Heifer Calf Mascarilla

And here is her video:

We indeed thank the Lord again for granting this continuation and growing of the herd.

— David