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: January 2011

Garden – Spring 2010 – Update I

You may be wondering why I’m talking about our 2010 Spring garden now instead of several months ago. Well, our garden seemed to have a mind and time line of its own this past year; and I just recently finished processing the last of our tomatoes. I plan to write a separate blog post on those but am just now getting down to chronicling the rest of the garden in an update. I figure for us gardeners, what better time to dwell on Spring, gardening, new growth and warmth than in the thick of Winter!


Believe it or not, these onion plant blossoms are from our 2009 Spring garden! But they have faithfully kept producing, so we decided not to pull them and continue to let them grow. The underground onion bulbs are rather small, but I have been able to pull and use them in many meals over the past couple of years:

Spring Garden 2010 Mature Onion Plant

I clipped the plants down to the ground but left the bulbs in case they would continue to produce green onions (which they have as of this update). Here is a bowl full of the blossoms I am saving to plant again in our Spring 2011 garden to see if they will reproduce:

Spring Garden 2010 Onion Plant Blossoms

I cut up and dried the stalks in our solar food dehydrator, but they came out unusable in my opinion. I let them get too fibrous and leggy before picking them. Note to self: Don’t do that!

Spring Garden 2010 Dried Green Onions


Due to a drought and large numbers of grasshoppers, our zucchini harvest was a fraction of the size of years past; but I picked these last few:

Spring Garden 2010 Zucchini Harvest

I decided to go the quick and easy lactic fermentation route and made some zucchini pickles and relish. I can’t believe how easy it is to preserve by lactic fermentation. You just add about two teaspoons of canning salt per pint in alternating layers with whatever vegetable you are using; fill the jar to about 1/2″ head space with water (preferably not tap water but distilled or filtered rain water); close with lid and move to a cool, dark place to ferment and develop those wonderful bacteria and enzymes for your gut and digestion. Once done, I put the jars all down in our root cellar. Due to our interest in zucchini, we traveled across the globe (ie: to the other side of our RV) to see the eighth wonder of the world, “Zucchini-Henge.” We were startled when we witnessed a rare sighting of the gargantuan feline monster on the left!

Spring Garden 2010 Zucchini-Henge

End of the Garden Pickles

Here is our last harvest of green beans for the season. Since there weren’t that many, I decided to experiment with lactic fermentation with two pint jars full of beans, water and salt, combining the rest with other garden vegetables to make some “End of the Garden Pickles” from the recipe in the Ball Blue Book of Preserving:

Spring Garden 2010 Bowl of Freshly Picked Green Beans

Here are the green beans all washed, cut and ready to go:

Spring Garden 2010 Bowl of Cut Green Beans

Can you find our freshly picked garden carrots in this picture packed with all things orange?!

Spring Garden 2010 Freshly Picked Carrots

Here are all the ingredients ready to go for the “End of the Garden Pickles” recipe. In this batch I included green beans, zucchini, carrots, peppers and onions:

Spring Garden 2010 End of the Garden Pickles

And here are sugars, spices and vinegar combined and ready to be mixed in with the vegetables:

Spring Garden 2010 End of the Garden Pickles Sauce

I brought the liquid to a boil and then added the vegetables and brought it to a boil again. Then I turned down the heat and let it simmer for about 15 minutes:

Spring Garden 2010 End of the Garden Pickles cooking

It was then ready to be ladled into hot jars and pressure-canned! How easy is that!

Spring Garden 2010 End of the Garden Pickles in Canning Jars


Here are some tomatoes given to us by a neighbor. As I hinted at above, our own tomato crop didn’t produce until November, so we were very thankful to have received these:

Spring Garden 2010 Tomatoes

I decided to make some Sweet Yellow Tomato Chutney out of these tomatoes. All my chutney recipes so far are taken from the Ball Blue Book of Preserving. I think these recipes are top notch and delicious. A friend suggested putting some tomato chutney in with pasta sauce. I have done that many times and find it adds a delicious “tangy twist” to traditional pasta sauce:

Spring Garden 2010 Canned Tomato Chutney

Bread and Butter Pickles

Lastly, I honestly can’t remember where I got the cucumbers to make this batch of “Bread and Butter Pickles” (page 47 from the Ball Blue Book of Preserving). The cucumbers from our garden just did not do well, but someone must have given these to me, or I got them on sale or something. Another delicious recipe!

Spring Garden 2010 Canned Bread and Butter Pickles


We are thankful for this late harvest from our garden, and once again are very careful to thank our Creator for His direct provision. It is now Winter, and we have accessed and incorporated much of the above from our root cellar into our meals. We are also looking forward to the opportunity to do it all again this Spring, Lord willing!


Our First Fellowship Betrothal

Well, it has been a few years since several of us started living here on the land. When we first got here, all of the children were just that — children. But, after five years, as you would imagine, that’s not exactly the case for all of them any more. In fact, one of our young misses just recently became betrothed — our first betrothal on the land!

Webster’s 1828 dictionary defines “betroth” as the following:

BETROTH’, v.t. [be and troth, truth, faith. See Truth, and Troth.]

1. To contract to any one, in order to a future marriage; to promise or pledge one to be the future spouse of another; to affiance; used of either sex. “The father betroths his daughter.’

2. To contract with one for a future spouse; to espouse; as, a man betroths a lady.

“Betrothed?” you might ask? Yes, betrothed. The ideas of “romantic love” and engagement, or even “courting,” are foreign to the Bible; not that there can’t be romance, but it is not the main driver or motivator behind relationships; and in fact, betrothal is what is prescribed in the Bible. Why might it be important to have betrothals instead of typical engagements? First, the Bible prescribes it as the only pre-marriage methodology; and second, it was set up as a picture or “type” of the relationship between Christ and His bride-to-be. In this current reality of time, Christ’s chosen bride, the elect from the foundation of the world, is not married to Christ yet — that happens at the marriage supper of the Lamb (Rev 19:6-9). His chosen is betrothed, or espoused, as expressed in 2 Cor 11:2 – “For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ.” God instituted the “type” of betrothal to show the unbreakable bond of His chosen bride to Himself based on His volitional, self-sacrificing, and unconditional agápe love.

Betrothal of Mark Contra and Tracy Bunker

With Mr. Bunker, Miss Bunker’s father, making the original offer to Mr. Contra, and with Mr. Contra accepting, Mr. Bunker and Mr. Mark Contra formed the contract for Mr. Contra to marry Miss Bunker, with various other agreements between Mr. Bunker and Mr. Contra. Although not absolutely necessary, since an older and hopefully wiser parent, with God’s help, should be able to determine which man would be good for a daughter to marry, Mr. Bunker did first allow for Miss Bunker’s approval of the gentleman in question; and she did approve. 🙂

And so without further ado, here are some moments from Mr. Contra’s and Miss Bunker’s betrothal party:

Mark and Tracy Betrothal Party

Mr. Contra and Miss Bunker:

Mark and Tracy at Their Betrothal Party

Supper time:

Supper Time at Mark and Tracy Betrothal Party

And don’t forget the desserts!

Desserts at Mark and Tracy Betrothal Party

Here are a few more pictures of the fellowship time, starting with the new couple:

Mark and Tracy Around the Supper Table at Their Betrothal Party
Fellowship Around Supper Table at Mark and Tracy Betrothal Party
More Fellowship Around Supper Table at Mark and Tracy Betrothal Party

Here are some sights and sounds:

And some more, including Mr. Bunker’s discussion about the betrothal ceremony and some important parts of the ceremony itself (please forgive the quality of the video as our camera doesn’t film well at night):

We are thankful here on the land to be able to be a part of a couple joining in the way the Bible prescribes. We pray for many more, as the Lord wills, and that He continue to grant us understanding of His revealed will as described in the Bible.

— David