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.

Year: 2011 (Page 1 of 7)

Meat Dryer

In continued efforts to separate from the world, unto God, one of the things that keeps us currently tied to it is how we process the meat after butchering the animal. At this time, we typically fire up the freezer, running off the generator, and then Sue pressure-cans it all. Processing the meat this way has two main problems: 1) running a generator and an electrical appliance, both which require ongoing maintenance and can break; and 2) using a canner, which also can require maintenance, and for us requires propane. Now, one can pressure-can using a wood burner; but it’s apparently not very easy to do correctly; and still, the canner can lose parts or require replacement ones.

And so, how was it all done before there were these things we use today? Or even, how is it done by people today who don’t have them either?

If you’ve studied this at all, you’ll know that salt is typically used for preserving meats; but what do you do with it after that, especially when dealing with larger quantities of meat? Again, with further study, even today, especially in countries where freezers, etc. aren’t available, the meat is hung in the wind to dry — the air helping pull out the moisture — the seed bed of bacteria — out of the meat. And this can be done any time during the year.


And so, I wanted us to start heading down this direction. With all of the insects we have during the warmer months, I really wanted our place of drying to be enclosed in some way; but in looking for ideas on the Internet, there really weren’t many I could see — it appears in the countries where they process meat like this, they just simply hang it up in the open air. Still not really wanting to do that, I started to try to put a design together myself. And so, the plan was to have something that had removable doors, was screened in, and allowed the hanging of lots of meat of all different lengths.

Using left over sections that were cut off from our house porch posts, I made a base frame using them and treated 2x4s. The overall plan was to use as little wood as possible, being able to fit the dryer’s frame under one piece of plywood as a roof, allowing for a little bit of roof overhang all around. I had originally thought about making a large dryer, but then figured I wouldn’t use that many more materials if I made multiple dryers instead as needed, and they would be somewhat portable:

Meat Dryer Base

And then added the main frame and bottom frame joists:

Meat Dryer Main Frame

And I planned for the removable doors to fit inside a frame, which is shown here:

Meat Dryer with Screen Door Frame

Here is the bottom of the meat dryer with the screening in place:

Meat Dryer Screened Bottom

And frame strips in place to hold on the screening. The strips are made by ripping the 2x4s into 4 strips each and then cutting to size. They are held by screws, as I wanted to be able to remove them to replace the screening if necessary. I also cut them to size to run counter to the bottom frame/joists connections (the strip would overlap where the joist butted up to the frame), to make it stronger; but next time, for expediency sake, I may place them in the same directions as the frame and joists:

Meat Dryer Screened Bottom with Frame

I thought to use rebar on which to hang the meat hooks. I was going to hang rebar from wires that were hanging from the roof rafters; but one of the men here suggested I take a 2×4, drill holes along it, rip it in half, and us the half circles as the rebar holders. Great idea!

Meat Dryer Rebar Holder Before Being Ripped in Half
Meat Dryer Rebar Holder in Place

Here are the roof rafters and blocks in place:

Meat Dryer Roof Rafters/Blocks, Front View
Meat Dryer Roof Rafter/Block, Side View
Meat Dryer Roof Rafters/Blocks, Top View

With the bottom screening in place, the one thing I told myself was, “Do not drop anything on it.” Well, that didn’t last too long:

Meat Dryer Hole in Bottom Screening

Oops. It was the thin corner of the roof rafter that got away from me. And so, I caulked it:

Meat Dryer Hole in Bottom Screening, Caulking Applied

And here it is pretty much dry. I purposely designed everything (with screws, etc.) so that I could fairly easily replace the screening if I ever need to:

Meat Dryer Hole in Bottom Screening, Dry Caulking

With Gary, the goose we use to have, being gone and no longer able to supervise as foreman, our cat, William, has apparently taken over:

William the Cat Supervising Meat Dryer Construction

Here is the first frame of the removable screen door with the screening stapled in place:

Meat Dryer Screen Door Screening in Place

And then the other frame pieces were placed on top a piece at a time, secured with wood screws, in pilot holes:

Meat Dryer Screen Door Full Frame in Place

Each frame piece was cut to overlap the pieces of the other frame (like the strips over the bottom frame joists):

Meat Dryer Screen Door Full Frame in Place

I wanted to make sure the door was fairly square and a little stronger, and so I thought to add plywood corners. Here is a scrap piece of plywood, marked for cutting the corners:

Meat Dryer Screen Door Plywood Corner Braces Marked Before Cuts

And then with the corners cut:

Meat Dryer Screen Door Plywood Corner After Cuts

And here is the removable screen door in place on the dryer, showing the corners attached, handles in place, and wood latches on top and below, holding it in place:

Meat Dryer with Screen Door and Screen Door Handles, Corners, and Latches in Place

Here’s a picture of the plywood roof in place:

Meat Dryer Plywood Roof

I decided to use flashing for the roof:

Meat Dryer Installing Roof Flashing
Meat Dryer Roof Flashing, Two Sides
Another Angle of Meat Dryer Roof Flashing, Two Sides

On the low side of the roof, I had to move the screen door latch to the side, because I had planned to attach strips of wood under the overhang that the grommeted screws would attach to (which would also help hide the screws so they wouldn’t become a skin or clothing hazard):

Meat Dryer Screen Door Latch Placement for Low Side of Roof

And here is the roof with the flashing installed:

Meat Dryer Roof Flashing Installed, Top View

And here are the flashing overhang supports/screw covers:

Meat Dryer Roof Flashing Supports

Here are the rebar hangers in place:

Meat Dryer Rebar Pieces in Place

And some meat hooks bent in shape. I used a coat hanger, cutting the ends to be pointed, and I sanded the paint off. I needed an extra one after the coat hanger was used, and so I thought to use a piece of galvanized electric wire, because it appeared the coat hanger hooks were rusting some. In the end, I might need to have stainless steel ones:

Meat Dryer Meat Hooks

Here they are hanging from the rebar:

Meat Dryer with Meat Hooks Hanging

I initially had the meat dryer facing broadside to the north and learned the hard way that the dryer wasn’t very aerodynamic — a strong wind not only tipped it over, but flipped it upside down. Nice. So, I turned it to be long-ways north and south and staked the legs to the ground:

Meat Dryer Leg Staked to the Ground

And finally, voila! Brined/spiced meat hanging in the meat dryer!

Meat Dryer with Brined/Spiced Meat Hanging

We’re still waiting for it to finish drying; and Lord willing, we’ll report on that process at a later time.

We are grateful to the Lord for His provisions, and showing us how to handle those He’s given us in a way that He has invented (with salt and air) instead of using man’s enslaving methods.

— David

Turnips & Wheat 2012

One of the things we’ve tried to get going here, but have had some difficulty, especially because of the drought, has been crops. A few years ago we tried oats, just hand spread on a field; some grew, and we harvested a few; but most went to the cows.

Last year we tried again, and the drought seemed to really keep things from flourishing. Again, we tried harvesting some literally by hand (pulling the grains off by hand) as they were pretty small to use the scythe against; and so, that was a pretty arduous task; and most of what was there went to the goats, which did help feed them, which was a good thing from our separatist perspective.

And so, this year we thought we’d try again, as we believe we should continue to try these types of things, leaving the results in God’s hands. I decided to go with wheat, in hopes that if we are able to harvest some, we would be able to use some for human consumption vs. trying to use the oats, which have an extra hull around the grain kernel that’s difficult to remove.

I also thought I’d throw some turnip seed in the ground to see what would happen.

Here is the field ready after plowing and planting. We were able to get the seed in the ground before the 5-inch+ rain we got several months ago. The turnip area is probably less than 1/4 acre, and the wheat area is a little over 3 acres, I believe:

Wheat 2012 Oct 8

Here are the turnips on Nov 9:

Turnips 2012 Nov 9

And the other day on Dec 17:

Turnips 2012 Dec 17

This is the wheat on Nov 9 and 10:

Wheat 2012 Nov 9
Wheat 2012 Nov 10

And again, the other day on Dec 17 (the more empty place on the left of the first picture is where the geese have eaten it down, but it looks like it’s coming back):

Wheat 2012 Dec 17
More Wheat 2012 Dec 17

It appears the chickens and geese love both the turnips and the wheat grass, but I’m pretty sure they can’t eat it all. 🙂

The Lord has graciously granted rainfall to continue the growth, even when it looked like things were starting to fade away some, and we pray that He might grant a harvest, so that we can further separate from dependence on a world that is at war with our love, the Lord Jesus Christ.

— David

A House – Update XI – Porch Cross Beams

After the house pony walls were in place, it was time to start on the porch cross beams!

Since we did the porch posts some time ago, they had opportunity to start to torque and bend in the air. I had hoped to get to the cross beams sooner so this problem would be limited, and I never cut them off in hopes that most of the twisting would happen on the top parts that would be cut off; and now in retrospect, I probably should have done the porch posts and cross beams at the same time; but that wasn’t going to help now; and so, one of the biggest issues we had to overcome was the un-level, twisted posts.

At first, we used the truck and a ratchet strap to level the posts:

Porch Posts Leveled with Truck and Ratchet Strap

But then switched to using the tractor because it was more maneuverable into the tighter areas around the house:

Porch Posts Leveled with Tractor and Ratchet Strap

A few posts only required a single 2×6 brace to get them untwisted:

Porch Post Twisted Straight with One 2x6

Others required two, in the shape of an “L”, and with some of these we did a brace on each side (also notice the 2×4 from the cross beams, which was used to twist it flat onto the top of the post):

Porch Post Twisted Straight with Two 2x6s in an L Shape with a Cross Beam Torquing 2x4

Quite a few required three 2x6s in the shape of a “U”, which gave us a lot of twisting counter-pressure:

Porch Post Twisted Straight with Three 2x6s in a U Shape

Here is a post leveled with the ratchet strap off of another post, and two “L” braces in place keeping it torqued straight (although, we could have probably done it with only one “U” brace instead):

Porch Post Leveled with Ratchet Strap, Twisted Straight, and Braced

Once leveled and twisted in shape, the tops were cut off:

Cutting Off the Top of the Porch Post

In similar fashion to leveling the foundation piers, we used the water level from one post to another, and we tried to use the same starting post each time so any errors introduced were not additive:

Using the Water Level to Get the Level from One Post to the Next

And here is a cross beam in place. The cross beams are treated 4x6s, like the porch posts:

Porch Cross Beam in Place

We used two T-straps, inside and outside, to join each post to each cross beam, used 3 1/4″ 16d galvanized “Common” nails to attach the T-straps (come to find out, there are 3 1/4″ 16d galvanized “Box” nails, which have a smaller diameter and aren’t as stout, even though they cost more at the place we got them), and used bolts to further secure them:

Porch Cross Beams Joined with T-Strap

So, as I mentioned, we were able to put quite a bit of twisting force on the posts to get them straight, which some of them really required. One of the biggest fears with that though was having the post come apart from too much twisting.

Well, with one badly torqued post, we got it almost straight. I looked at it, and looked at it, and said, “Just a little more, to get it just a little more straight.” And yep, that was it…snap! Bummer:

Porch Post Broken After Too Much Twisting

Well then, what to do. Mr. Gurau, who has been helping with the house building, had an idea. He first cut off the post at the porch floor joist support level:

Cutting Off Broken Porch Post
Broken Porch Post Cut Off

And here is how he installed the replacement post, using the T-straps:

New Porch Post Strapped in Place
Another View of New Porch Post Strapped in Place

Here is what it looked like when it fell to the ground after being cut off. In thinking about it, the Lord might have been especially gracious in allowing the post to crack now, giving us opportunity to replace it now, rather than having to do it some time in the future, when the whole porch roof was up:

Broken Porch Post on the Ground in Pieces

As Mr. Gurau progressed and got to the corners, here is how he handled them, using the T-straps:

Outside Corner of Porch Cross Beams with T-Strap
Inside Corner of Porch Cross Beams with T-Strap

And here are the porch posts complete!

Completed Line of Porch Cross Beams
Another Completed Line of Porch Cross Beams

We’re grateful again to God for granting us provisions for the house, and for the help in Mr. Gurau He has allowed, and for Mr. Gurau’s continued safety while he works, for which we continue to pray.

— David

Thanksgiving 2011

Thanksgiving 2011 Candy TurkeyOnce again, we were able to gather in the name of the Lord in thankfulness for His provision, spiritual and temporal, around the Thanksgiving table. This year we had the most folks participating we’ve ever had, I believe; and it was probably one of the most pleasant weather-wise we’ve had.

Here are some of the sights:

Before the meal:

Thanksgiving 2011 Inside Preparations

The men:

Thanksgiving 2011 Men Before the Meal

And the ladies:

Thanksgiving 2011 Ladies Before the Meal

These are the meal tables:

Thanksgiving 2011 Main Course Table
Thanksgiving 2011 Dessert Table

And then the gathering of the brethren to break bread together:

Thanksgiving 2011 Meal Time Around the Table
Thanksgiving 2011 Meal Time
Thanksgiving 2011 Children During Meal Time
Thanksgiving 2011 Timothy Eating

After the meal, we sat around the tables and sang from our Psalter — a joyous time of praise!

We are grateful once again to the Lord for granting us this time of fellowship out here, away from the world, gathering in His name, in celebration of His glory and provisions, both spiritual and temporal.

— David

David’s Digest: For What are You Known?

I’ve currently been reading to Sue John Owen’s Complete Works, Vol 6, “Sin and Temptation.” Needless to say, it puts a whole different and much more full light on the nature, power and efficacy and infection of indwelling sin in the believer. With in-depth studies of sin being woefully absent from most churches today, sin is not viewed by most who call themselves Christians with the vehement view of its evil and God’s abhorrence of it; it is viewed lightly, and so most professing Christians never examine themselves whether they be truly in the faith, nor whether or not they are living sinful lives, even if they think they aren’t. This will have drastic consequences in the future if not sorted out now, with God’s help and graces. The understanding of sin in a comprehensive way is most important in our living out our lives in obedience unto God. Why? Because if we love God, we will endeavor to keep His commandments, which in part means abstaining and fighting against sin and temptation, which is what we want to do if the Spirit indwells us, and evidences any interest in Christ we might have or not. And so, I would highly recommend Dr. Owen’s volume on this subject.

One of the common and overlying points Dr. Owen makes is that we must hate sin as sin. This means to hate it, and thus flee from it, because it is against God, whom we love. Please pay special attention to what he says about the following:

To fear sin is to fear the Lord; so the holy man tells us that they are the same: Job 28:28, “The fear of the Lord, that is wisdom; and to depart from evil, that is understanding.”

Hating and resisting sin is a practical fruit and evidence of a true fear of the Lord! Which means the opposite is true: if you don’t have a detestation of sin that drives you from it, you are lacking Wisdom and Understanding (which are Christ in the Proverbs).

Here is more evidence:

Prov. 8:13 – “The fear of the LORD is to hate evil: pride, and arrogancy, and the evil way, and the froward mouth, do I hate.

I’m afraid that not enough, if any, of either of those occurs in very many “Christians” of today.

Do you think you have a hatred of sin? If you died today, how would you be eulogized? “He was a good person,” or, “He really loved his family,” or, “He really loved the Lord.” Let me then ask, how would any of that be evidenced? Before you answer, here’s one way that WOULD evidence those things to be true: how do you compare to the following, noted by A.W. Pink in Chapter 7 of his book “The Life of Faith”:

The emperor Arcadius and his wife had a very bitter feeling towards Chrysostom, bishop of Constantinople. One day, in a fit of anger, the emperor said to one of his courtiers. “I would I were avenged of this bishop!” Several then proposed how this should be done. “Banish him and exile him to the desert,” said one. “Put him in prison,” said another. “Confiscate his property,” said a third. “Let him die,” said a fourth. Another courtier, whose vices Chrysostom had reproved, said maliciously, “You all make a great mistake. You will never punish him by such proposals. If banished the kingdom, he will feel God as near to him in the desert as here. If you put him in prison and load him with chains, he will still pray for the poor and praise God in the prison. If you confiscate his property, you merely take away his goods from the poor, not from him. If you condemn him to death, you open heaven to him. Prince, do you wish to be revenged on him”? Force him to commit sin. I know him: this man fears nothing in the world but sin.” O that this were the only remark which our fellows could pass on you and me, fellow-believer (From the Fellowship magazine).

Ponder that for a while.

And so, when you’re standing before God in the end, for what will you be known?

— David

A House – Update X – Giddy-Up, Pony Walls

Originally in the house design, I had intended to put dormers in the roof below the interior ceiling. This would allow light and air circulation into the living space of the house through the roof. However, upon reconsideration, given the planned roof design, and after receiving advice, I decided to put up “pony” walls — short walls that in our case would contain windows. The porch roof would come up to the main walls below the pony wall windows, and the house roof would be above them; this would allow for even greater light and ventilation, and would be easier to implement.

And so, after the house exterior walls were complete, the man in the group who’s been helping me with the house started in on them.

Here are some of the initial framing pieces in place:

House Pony Walls Framing

And here’s a picture of a corner:

House Pony Walls Corner

The following are a few pictures of the pony walls with the window headers in place. I decided to use 2×10 headers with 1/2″ OSB in between to hopefully make sure the weight of the roof would never sag the windows (I had originally thought perhaps to use 2×8, but in our local store where I bought the wood, the 2x10s were not much more expensive plus added that extra 2 inches of strength):

House Pony Walls from Inside with Headers
House Pony Walls from Inside with Headers
House Pony Walls from Outside with Headers

And here they are completed…

House Pony Walls Complete

…and then with the OSB siding in place. These OSB pieces were nailed into the main wall as well, which tied the two walls together:

House Pony Walls Complete with OSB
House Pony Walls Complete with OSB

And finally, some tie straps were added to further secure the two walls to each other:

House Phony Walls Strap Ties

The man who has recently moved down with his family and is helping me has worked construction before, so we’re thankful to the Lord for his advice and assistance. And we thank God also for continued provisions and progress on the house. We pray one day it’ll be a welcoming place for meeting in fellowship with the brethren.

— David

Thrilla in the Cella’

It was a dark and, well, dry night because of the drought……..

It was a night like any other — I had to go down into the root cellar to grab a few things for the evening’s supper. I always wear my head lamp to see better in there and to keep my hands free…that’s what I do.

But something was different this time as I pulled open the large, heavy door…

Root Cellar Large Door Entrance

…descended the steps into the hard, cracked earth…

Root Cellar Steps

…and opened the non-creaky door into the pitch black room….

Root Cellar Small Door Entrance

The last time I had left the root cellar all of the jars and cans were neatly stacked and in order. It was nothing special — it’s just the way I left them.

But this time……..this time I warily stepped over the door threshold and gasped as my eyes met with jars toppled carelessly on top of each other:

Root Cellar Jars and Cans

And cans that had been ruthlessly knocked to the ground……

Root Cellar Cans on Ground

Now, having grown up in California, I would normally have said, “Oh, that must have been about a 5.2 on the Richter scale” and thought nothing of it. However, where we live in Texas has virtually no seismic activity, and even with the sonic booms we get around here that shake the ground beneath us, I skillfully deduced that some “one” — or some “thing”!! — must have caused this. Who or what could it be??????

AHA!!! A clue! It must be someone who left a long, skinny purse or boot behind! I was now hot on the trail to find the perpetrator and was impressed at my amazing talent for discerning clues:

Shed Snake Skin

Upon looking around for more clues, I noticed a strange-looking fellow on top of the cans of corn appearing very comfortable and using them as a bed. Maybe he had seen something along his travels through the root cellar and had the information to help me break this case wide open! I asked him if he knew what might be causing all of the ruckus upon which I had just stumbled. I couldn’t believe the bloke’s rudeness I encountered. He didn’t even turn his head to look at me, nor did he even acknowledge my existence!

Root Cellar Snake on Cans

I stepped closer and asked him again. Nothing! He just stuck his tongue out at me — how rude! His silence taunted me — perhaps he had the information I sought, and I was this close to finding out from him who the culprit was, but apparently I would receive no help from the likes of him. I looked carefully around the room for any other clues, however insignificant, that might help me solve this agrarian mystery, but to no avail:

Root Cellar Snake on Cans Close-up

With nothing else to go on, I left the root cellar that night, mystified as to what might have happened; and the questions remain to this day. I still wonder if the fellow I met down there knew something. Oh, well, I guess I will never know what caused the…….

thrilla in the cella’……!!!!


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