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.
After our gander, Gary, died last year, his mate, Gigi the goose, was obviously all alone. Since then, she has basically spent her days up by the the goats, as from what we’ve seen, geese appear to be social animals; and we’ve hoped to find her a new gander, but haven’t been able to.
Some of the community folks gather here on Wednesday and Sunday evenings to listen to our teacher Mr. Bunker’s Internet radio show. After it was over one night, Mr. Woods was looking on Craigslist, and came across a “geese for sale” ad. I asked him to forward it on to me, which he did; and within a few days I followed up with the person who was selling the geese. He indeed had a male for sale — a couple of them; and so, we said we’d like to go ahead and get one. The day we went, he rounded one up; and then we picked him up.
We were trying to think of names; and because “Gigi” is French-sounding, we started looking at possible male French names. At one point, I was reading them aloud, and got to “Gustav,” and Mr. Plumley said, “Ha! Goose-tav!” I hadn’t thought of it that way, until he said something, but thought that would be a fun approach. Well, after several gyrations of similar ideas, and trying to find the right name, we decided to go with a starting point of “Au-goose-tine” (given it’s sort of related to us in our Reformed beliefs), which we are just shortening to Augie. And so, please meet Augie the Gander! He’s apparently a Chinese-breed goose:
And here is a video of him and Gigi’s introduction:
Gigi has dropped a clutch of eggs each Spring we have had her. During the Spring and Summer before he died, Gary and Gigi did try to mate, but weren’t really successful; and we figured a water-pond-type environment might be necessary for them to mate properly. In the following picture, you’ll see the little pool; and now with Augie, we hope they’ll be more successful; and perhaps Gigi will be able to hatch out some goslings, if the Lord wills.
We’re thankful for the opportunity for Gigi to have a new mate, and we hope the geese will be a beneficial, and even fun, addition to the homestead.
Recently, another one of our game hens went broody; and so we put a bunch of eggs under her, once again hoping the Lord might grant continued perpetuation of the chickens, thus helping us be yet a little more separate from dependence on the world.
And He did!
When culling our roosters recently for butchering (since we indeed had too many), we had decided to keep a few more roosters than what we’ve heard is a typically normal ratio, in hopes more eggs would be fertilized, as we’ve had it where no eggs were fertilized for two broody rounds in a row; and it seems to have helped — 10 out of 11 hatched. At this point, we’re probably at 1 rooster to 2 or 3 or so hens that are currently laying; and we’re probably about 1 to 5 or 6 with all of the other hens included — we’ll see how that goes when the others start also producing, Lord willing.
Below are the new ones in live action. In the video I mention helping one hatch out. It had poked a hole through the shell, where you could see its little beak; but then it sat there the rest of the day. I would tap the egg shell, and it would open and close its beak, so I knew it wasn’t dead. By the time the end of the day drew near, I was bothered it hadn’t made any progress, and was trying to think of some way to help, but had heard it’s not good to help them. And so, I had decided to just let it happen as it was going to happen…until…I thought there must be some way to help it as I thought it was probably going to die if something wasn’t done. I looked up online regarding the topic; and the site I found said not to help, but also said that after a day of it not progressing it was possible to help, and the person gave instructions on what they did. And so, figuring it was probably essentially dead already if something wasn’t done, and that in helping it, even if it died, it was going to be in no worse a situation than it already faced, I decided to see what I could do.
The Web site I found with information about helping a chick hatch said to slowly chip away at the shell in pieces, as a chick would naturally do. In the case when an egg has been opened like this one was, the inner membrane dries out, and will I guess stick to the chick; and so, if you see bleeding, they said to stop and drop warm water around on the membrane to soften it, and try again in a little while. Well, in using some pointed tweezers, I didn’t actually heed that advice at first, and saw blood, but was able to chip away at the shell and gently pull back the membrane. I did this until the chick was free enough to basically move its whole body, which meant probably 2/3 or more of the shell was removed. After, I did go warm up some water, and with an eye dropper dropped some of it on the edges of the shell that was left, in hopes to help the chick more easily separate from the membrane. It just laid there all wet and on its side, and I figured it probably wasn’t going to make it; but the next morning quite happily, there were no dead chicks, and this one was running around with the rest of the hatchlings. You could see on it that day a few places where the membrane had pulled away the fuzz off its body; but in general, it appeared to be ok. I was quite thankful to the Lord, surprised, but very joyous too!
We are once again grateful to God for granting this provision, and we pray they are used for His glory and the benefit of His Church.
As anyone who reads our blog probably knows, we have been in an extensive drought this year (they say the worst in 50 years), starting especially October 2010. By the time we got through September of this year, we had probably had around 1/4 of rain we normally get year to date; and the groups’ catch-water containers and ponds were “running on fumes.” Back in a previous blog post about our 2008 garden, I had indicated that I had come to a point of deciding to not go to the world for water again (our water doesn’t magically appear out of faucets); and with the way things were going, at times it would start to get a little desperate — I was even starting to prepare mentally and logistically (with sand filters, etc.) for having to start to drink pond water.
The drought has been pretty devastating state-wide. Many ranchers have had to completely liquidate their cattle due to lack of water, tanks (ponds) that we’ve never seen dry before have gone dry, and hay has been scarce and expensive.
Regardless of how things occur in this world, the Lord Jehovah IS faithful, IS gracious, IS merciful. I believe we must always remember that He IS those things, regardless of our circumstances. It is only by His perfect and infinite graces, mercies and wisdom, in accordance with His perfect will and sovereignty, that He ever reveals those things to us in tangible or experimental (experiential) ways.
Throughout our time of drought this year, God has graciously granted provisions for all of us here to maintain ourselves and our animals without having to specially go to the world for water. Our personal cistern and polypropylene tank once again never ran dry, even after discovering a pretty significant leak in the floor of the cistern, where we were probably losing 500 gallons a week at one point (argh!!). When they would get low, the Lord would drop some rain on us to grant another few weeks.
It has been an interesting time of faith and trust-testing. Through it though, we are reminded daily upon Whom we depend, and look to Him daily for those, sometime weekly-provided, provisions; and through it, we find our sin and failures, which is a good thing, and is for what we pray, along with subsequent repentance.
Graces and Mercies
I also wanted to share a couple of other things that occurred along the way that I have taken, hopefully not out of vain imagination, as tokens from the Giver of provision.
We had a tough time keeping up with the orchard. We really don’t have a way of watering the trees right now directly from a water source; and so we have to haul water to them, which is difficult with 25-30 trees. We did some pond runs a couple of times, and watered some from the cistern, and at one point I finally got the who-would-have-thought-it idea of watering them using our camper grey water (Lord please forgive me for not using that water sooner and just sending it to waste). Still, with 100 degree F temperatures for month on end, and no rain, some of the trees I believe haven’t made it, although I guess we’ll know better next Spring, Lord willing.
However, one day while I was out there in the orchard, I looked, and lo, and behold, on one of the trees, there were some peaches actually growing! I was astounded, as that tree hadn’t really received even much of the manual watering. One had fallen to the ground, and here are the four I was able to harvest. And they tasted wonderfully!
Moreover, we had at one point in the Spring received a few inches of rain; and so I decided to plant our tomatoes. Well, obviously I didn’t know what was to come with the rest of Spring and Summer, in temperature and precipitation; but we did what we could to try to keep them at least alive. Through it all though, along in September one day, I looked, and lo, and behold, there was actually a little, tiny tomato that had grown! I smiled greatly, and thought of the Lord’s providence, and how He grants all of these things in accordance with His will. It was a beautiful sight to see that tomato and a beautiful thing to behold God’s providential hand:
Further, at one point, our teacher Mr. Bunker forwarded the below video on to us, as an encouragement in a weary time. Here is a picture of the beginning of that video, and I’ve drawn in an arrow pointing to right about where we are (if you click the picture, you can see a larger version):
If you watch the video, keep an eye on where we are:
If you’ll notice, our county and the one right to our east were the last ones to go into the extreme drought. The Lord graciously and mercifully granted quenchings amidst the fire, even though we don’t deserve them.
By October, the tanks (ponds) on the land were really starting to get low; and even our county had gone into the highest level of drought the professionals note. If the tanks were to go dry, all of our cows would have to go. But, once again, the Lord graciously and mercifully granted a revelation of His graces and mercies in bringing the rains; and for the time it rained, it came a-plenty! We received over 5 inches in around 24 hours, which caused water to run, which filled the tanks, and provided lots of water for the catch-water tanks and cisterns around the land.
Here is the near side of our cistern (the side that fills first):
Before looking into the far side, I had hoped that perhaps the water would have gone over the middle divider at least somewhat; but when I looked, this is what I found!
And then it was time to check the pond. Wow! This is one of the fullest times it’s ever been!
What a humbling, welcome site to see water in our containment systems! We are so very grateful to the Lord!
With the rains around here comes mud, and it had been a while since we had experienced slogging around in it. And Sue got a quick reminder of what it was like, as the mud reached out and grabbed her to the ground when she was going to milk the goats (you can see a little of the food spilled). But, given the circumstances, I don’t believe she minded. 🙂
And I don’t think the goats minded the water either:
The past 12 months have been a time to reflect and never forget. May we ever remember God’s direct hand in our provisions, as He is the one who brings the rain; and we pray for His continued provisions and healing of the land. We pray He would grant us learning from these difficult times, and grow us in trust in Him. May we always be grateful, humbled and awed by His loving, condescending, gracious, merciful, and caring hand. And may these things bring us into greater obedience to Him, out of love for Him. Amen.
(Please don’t skip the following part:)
1 Elihu also proceeded, and said,
2 Suffer me a little, and I will shew thee that I have yet to speak on God’s behalf.
3 I will fetch my knowledge from afar, and will ascribe righteousness to my Maker.
4 For truly my words shall not be false: he that is perfect in knowledge is with thee.
5 Behold, God is mighty, and despiseth not any: he is mighty in strength and wisdom.
6 He preserveth not the life of the wicked: but giveth right to the poor.
7 He withdraweth not his eyes from the righteous: but with kings are they on the throne; yea, he doth establish them for ever, and they are exalted.
8 And if they be bound in fetters, and be holden in cords of affliction;
9 Then he sheweth them their work, and their transgressions that they have exceeded.
10 He openeth also their ear to discipline, and commandeth that they return from iniquity.
11 If they obey and serve him, they shall spend their days in prosperity, and their years in pleasures.
12 But if they obey not, they shall perish by the sword, and they shall die without knowledge.
13 But the hypocrites in heart heap up wrath: they cry not when he bindeth them.
14 They die in youth, and their life is among the unclean.
15 He delivereth the poor in his affliction, and openeth their ears in oppression.
16 Even so would he have removed thee out of the strait into a broad place, where there is no straitness; and that which should be set on thy table should be full of fatness.
17 But thou hast fulfilled the judgment of the wicked: judgment and justice take hold on thee.
18 Because there is wrath, beware lest he take thee away with his stroke: then a great ransom cannot deliver thee.
19 Will he esteem thy riches? no, not gold, nor all the forces of strength.
20 Desire not the night, when people are cut off in their place.
21 Take heed, regard not iniquity: for this hast thou chosen rather than affliction.
22 Behold, God exalteth by his power: who teacheth like him?
23 Who hath enjoined him his way? or who can say, Thou hast wrought iniquity?
24 Remember that thou magnify his work, which men behold.
25 Every man may see it; man may behold it afar off.
26 Behold, God is great, and we know him not, neither can the number of his years be searched out.
27 For he maketh small the drops of water: they pour down rain according to the vapour thereof:
28 Which the clouds do drop and distil upon man abundantly.
29 Also can any understand the spreadings of the clouds, or the noise of his tabernacle?
30 Behold, he spreadeth his light upon it, and covereth the bottom of the sea.
31 For by them judgeth he the people; he giveth meat in abundance.
32 With clouds he covereth the light; and commandeth it not to shine by the cloud that cometh betwixt.
33 The noise thereof sheweth concerning it, the cattle also concerning the vapour.
1 At this also my heart trembleth, and is moved out of his place.
2 Hear attentively the noise of his voice, and the sound that goeth out of his mouth.
3 He directeth it under the whole heaven, and his lightning unto the ends of the earth.
4 After it a voice roareth: he thundereth with the voice of his excellency; and he will not stay them when his voice is heard.
5 God thundereth marvellously with his voice; great things doeth he, which we cannot comprehend.
6 For he saith to the snow, Be thou on the earth; likewise to the small rain, and to the great rain of his strength.
7 He sealeth up the hand of every man; that all men may know his work.
8 Then the beasts go into dens, and remain in their places.
9 Out of the south cometh the whirlwind: and cold out of the north.
10 By the breath of God frost is given: and the breadth of the waters is straitened.
11 Also by watering he wearieth the thick cloud: he scattereth his bright cloud:
12 And it is turned round about by his counsels: that they may do whatsoever he commandeth them upon the face of the world in the earth.
13 He causeth it to come, whether for correction, or for his land, or for mercy.
14 Hearken unto this, O Job: stand still, and consider the wondrous works of God.
15 Dost thou know when God disposed them, and caused the light of his cloud to shine?
16 Dost thou know the balancings of the clouds, the wondrous works of him which is perfect in knowledge?
17 How thy garments are warm, when he quieteth the earth by the south wind?
18 Hast thou with him spread out the sky, which is strong, and as a molten looking glass?
19 Teach us what we shall say unto him; for we cannot order our speech by reason of darkness.
20 Shall it be told him that I speak? if a man speak, surely he shall be swallowed up.
21 And now men see not the bright light which is in the clouds: but the wind passeth, and cleanseth them.
22 Fair weather cometh out of the north: with God is terrible majesty.
23 Touching the Almighty, we cannot find him out: he is excellent in power, and in judgment, and in plenty of justice: he will not afflict.
24 Men do therefore fear him: he respecteth not any that are wise of heart.
I was reading in Ezekiel Chapter 24 recently and was taken back when I got to verses 16 and 18:
Verse 16: “Son of man, behold, I take away from thee the desire of thine eyes [he is referring to Ezekiel’s wife] with a stroke: yet neither shalt thou mourn nor weep, neither shall thy tears run down”…..Verse 18: “So I spake unto the people in the morning: and at even my wife died: and I did in the morning as I was commanded.”
In a larger context, God was using the taking of Ezekiel’s wife as a sign and example to the Israelites. I stopped to ponder and meditate on this for a while. Matthew Henry says this about this passage:
“He must lose a good wife, that should suddenly be taken from him by death. God gave him notice of it before, that it might be the less surprise to him (v. 16): Behold, I take away from thee the desire of thy eyes with a stroke. Note, (1.) A married state may very well agree with the prophetical office; it is honourable in all, and therefore not sinful in ministers. (2.) Much of the comfort of human life lies in agreeable relations. No doubt Ezekiel found a prudent tender yoke-fellow, that shared with him in his griefs and cares, to be a happy companion in his captivity.
“Death is a stroke which the most pious, the most useful, the most amiable, are not exempted from. (5.) When the desire of our eyes is taken away with a stroke we must see and own the hand of God in it: I take away the desire of thy eyes. He takes our creature-comforts from us when and how he pleases; he gave them to us, but reserved to himself a property in them; and may he not do what he will with his own?”
Dr. John Gill has this to say:
“I take away from thee the desire of thine eyes with a stroke; meaning his wife; who very probably was of a beautiful countenance, and goodly to look to; however, of an amiable disposition, and in her conjugal relation very agreeable to the prophet; and, no doubt, a truly religious woman, and upon all account’s desirable to him. This lovely object of his affection the Lord, who is the sovereign disposer of all persons, signifies he would take away from him by death unto himself; that is, suddenly and at once.”
My carnal man at first responded emotionally and in defense of “Mrs.” Ezekiel. I thought, “Wow, what a raw deal to be taken from your beloved husband all because God wanted to prove a point. And I can’t believe Ezekiel was able to just ‘not’ grieve over his wife’s death as God commanded.” I thought of how much I love my husband and love being his wife and serving him, and it made me sad to think of us being apart, and my flesh really clung on to it. But then I was reminded how God in His word continues to reveal to me that we as His creatures are His handiwork, and He made us for HIS glory, and EVERYTHING He does is to bring glory to Himself:
– Isaiah 46:10 – “Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure:”
– Daniel 4:35 – “And all the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing: and he doeth according to his will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth: and none can stay his hand, or say unto him, What doest thou?”
– 1 Samuel 2:6-8 – “6 The LORD killeth, and maketh alive: he bringeth down to the grave, and bringeth up. 7 The LORD maketh poor, and maketh rich: he bringeth low, and lifteth up. 8 He raiseth up the poor out of the dust, and lifteth up the beggar from the dunghill, to set them among princes, and to make them inherit the throne of glory: for the pillars of the earth are the LORD’s, and he hath set the world upon them.”
– Psalms 39:5 “Behold, thou hast made my days as an handbreadth; and mine age is as nothing before thee: verily every man at his best state is altogether vanity.”
– Proverbs 16:4 – “The LORD hath made all things for himself: yea, even the wicked for the day of evil.”
– Revelation 4:11 – “Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.”
…and I repented.
In this day and age, it seems to me we are taught to believe that God owes us something; or it is our right to live our lives in comfort and prosperity as happy as possible. But it’s not about me — it’s about Him! I am asking God to continue to set my mind right and see things from the perspective of “whatever and however God chooses to bring glory to Himself is what I want, whatever that looks like and however that affects my life.” I hope that if I had been Mrs. Ezekiel and had learned about the situation beforehand, I would have said something like, “What a privilege to be used of God for His glory in this manner! The Lord’s will be done!”
This is also helping me to take my focus off of myself in this lifestyle of agrarian separation we live, when things get really tough, uncomfortable or inconvenient. I want to be able to honestly hold that God is sovereign, so He knows EXACTLY what is going on, and this is how He has chosen to glorify HIMSELF in my life at this time. May I learn to ever say, “For THINE is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever, Amen.”
I thank God for the people in His timeless word through whom He has chosen to teach us these precious truths.
Twice a year, the community, along with visitors sometimes, gather together to work as a group in service to our teacher, Mr. Bunker; it’s also a time where people who follow the ministry or otherwise come down and visit and meet the folks here and work with us — something we call Ranchfest. We just finished up one last week, and I thought we’d share once again a few of the goings-on around the Ranch during that time.
We usually have a kick-off breakfast during the weekend Ranchfest starts:
And then it’s off to work during the week! Here we are gathering in the morning for coffee and a breakfast dish in preparation of the day’s events:
The men this Ranchfest were continuing to help build the Bunker family’s new cottage, putting in windows, doors and putting up siding:
We also typically meet as a group for lunch break for delicious lunches provided by the ladies, and here we are gathered at the Community Center:
The group has generally been moving toward wearing more Amish-style clothing. Here is a picture of the progress for the ladies:
And so, while the men worked on the cottage, the women were helping out in sewing new outfits for the Bunker family. In the end, there were several pairs of Amish broadfall pants and dresses, and other items, completed or at least started:
Even the young ones were helping and learning the “ropes,” so to speak:
Here’s poor Amish girl Ella being forced to wear a headcovering and bear under the burdens of living agrarian life, probably disciplined often, and socially undeveloped, as she learns sewing, a duty which she’ll probably have to laboriously toil under to clothe her family one day. She looks like she’s really sad about the prospects:
All in all, it was a wondering, even joyous, time of fellowship and community here at the Ranch. We are thankful to the Lord for the teacher He has granted us, and for the opportunity to do a little something back for him and his family; and we pray He glorified Himself through this, in the heavenly realms and here on earth, and in demonstration of what we pray is God-granted love for Him and for each other. We’re also grateful to God for granting the provisions He has to the Bunkers for allowing their homestead to be furthered, we pray for Christ’s glory and the benefit of His Church.
Heb. 11:8-10 - "By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went. By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise: For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God."