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: September 2012

Fall Ranchfest 2012

Well, it was that time of year again around here — Ranchfest! This is a time where folks can come to visit (in a more formal way — visitors can come out at most any time) and fellowship and help support our teacher, Mr. Bunker, in working projects for his homestead. We had several folks from Pennsylvania come by for the weekend, and a couple of fellows from the southwestern U.S.

Ranchfest usually starts on Friday, but the Lord granted over 2 inches of rain on Thursday, which effectively rained us out. But we are so very thankful for those graciously given provisions as they filled many of the ground-water tanks and almost fully one side of our cistern! It’s amazing the difference for living things when God grants the water of life!

On Sabbath, Mr. Bunker had everyone over for “tapas,” using foods they grew and processed here on the land. Yummy!

Fall Ranchfest 2012 Sabbath Tapas Meal
Fall Ranchfest 2012 Sabbath Tapas Meal and Fellowship

We usually have a Ranchfest kickoff breakfast at a local mexican establishment:

Fall Ranchfest 2012 Lord's Day Kickoff Breakfast

And then we participated in our normal Lord’s Day fellowship activities, including singing, our fellowship meal, and the holy reading, which is currently (John Owen’s The Glory of Christ).

I believe we received a little more rain on the Lord’s Day, and so we started after lunch time on Monday working on the various projects. One of the projects is a rock-walled, 12-foot high water tower. The previous week, the telephone poles were put up and a concrete base was poured:

Fall Ranchfest 2012 Water Tower Posts

And then Monday, the men started in on the framing and siding, including cutting into the framing and posts and attaching diagonal braces to help prevent “racking”:

Fall Ranchfest 2012 Water Tower Framing
Fall Ranchfest 2012 Water Tower Framing and Siding
Fall Ranchfest 2012 Water Tower First Row Siding
Fall Ranchfest 2012 Water Tower Second Row Siding

Another project was to get the west side of Mr. Bunker’s cottage hooked up with gutters and piping to harvest the rain into his cistern:

Fall Ranchfest 2012 Cottage Rain Harvesting Gutter Cutting
Fall Ranchfest 2012 Cottage Rain Harvesting Gutters in Place

We had another special meal for Monday’s lunch — a meal of mostly food grown or raised on the land, where the whole community participated, from the Bunker’s recently-butcher bull, to vegetables, to goat milk cheese, to cactus juice, and more! We’re thankful to the Lord for His provisions to be able to do that:

Fall Ranchfest 2012 Lunch from the Land Main Dishes
Fall Ranchfest 2012 Lunch from the Land Side Dishes
Fall Ranchfest 2012 Lunch from the Land Drinks

Another project was to install new cabinets in the kitchen of the cottage:

Fall Ranchfest 2012 Cottage Cabinets Installing
Fall Ranchfest 2012 Cottage Cabinets Complete

The ladies of the community got together to process and preserve the butchered bull:

Fall Ranchfest 2012 Ladies Preserving Butchered Longhorn Bull
Fall Ranchfest 2012 More Ladies Preserving Butchered Longhorn Bull

And do some sewing on a sewing machine run by foot treadle:

Fall Ranchfest 2012 More Sewing with Treadle Sewing Machine

Here are some of the children fellowshipping too, although new-born Joseph is just trying to relax:

Fall Ranchfest 2012 Young Joseph Relaxing

Here, the girls are hiding from Sue:

Fall Ranchfest 2012 Young Ladies Hiding

And then listening to Jennifer read:

Fall Ranchfest 2012 Young Ladies Reading

Back at the cottage, the piping of the catch-water gutters were completed, with a roof washer…

Fall Ranchfest 2012 Cottage Rain Harvesting Piping Complete

And the connections to the pipes on the other side of the cottage that then run into the cistern:

Fall Ranchfest 2012 Cottage Rain Harvesting Piping Connected to Other Piping to the Cistern

Over at the water tower, once the siding and rock wall connector tabs were in place, it was time to start placing rock. We just happen to have nearby a stone mason, who graciously granted his time to help teach and direct folks in this project. Here are a couple of the guys carving rock:

Fall Ranchfest 2012 Carving Rocks for Water Tower

And then the “mud” was mixed by hand — 9-12 shovels-full of sand with 1/2 bag of type N mortar cement and 1 shovel-full of type S portland cement (I believe that was the formula). The mixed consistency is apparently supposed to be where it slides off a trowel cleanly:

Fall Ranchfest 2012 Mixing Cement for Water Tower

Here is the placement of the all-important first corner-stone (Isa 28:16; Matt 21:42):

Fall Ranchfest 2012 Placing First Water Tower Cornerstone

And here is most of the first row of rock completed. After only a few hours, the joints were scraped out with a handle or stick to just behind the edge of the adjoining rocks and then wire brushed:

Fall Ranchfest 2012 First Row of Rocks for Water Tower

Well, there had been a sickness moving through the group since before Ranchfest started, and Wednesday night it hit several of the rest of the group; and so, sadly the last two work days of Ranchfest were cancelled. But, we are thankful to God for granting the healing and help through the sicknesses that He has.

We are also grateful to Him for granting this time of fellowship and service, for the new folks we were able to meet, and for the work accomplished on the Bunker homestead. We are thankful to the Lord for the teacher He has granted us in Mr. Bunker, and for his family; and we pray the Lord continue to provide for them and grow us into continued and more service to them, and each other, in love for each other, motivated by love for Christ Jesus.

— David

Garden – Spring 2012 – Update II

Throughout the summer, even with us entering into a drought situation again, the Lord has granted that we be able to keep the garden going, sometimes by watering from the cistern, and now watering by bucket bailing and hauling pond water in a cattle trough. While the pond water process takes some effort, God has granted, by His mercies, that it start to pay off.

Here is our carrot haul from this year from earlier in the summer. For some reason, the carrots just didn’t work out too well this year. Not sure what the difference was, but we are thankful to have received these:

Spring Garden 2012 Carrots

And here is where things are now approaching the end of summer. These are the black-eyed peas:

Spring Garden 2012 Black-Eyed Peas
Spring Garden 2012 More Black-Eyed Peas

And here are the tomato plants. We’ve had a decent amount of tomatoes come from them throughout the summer, although they ended up being cherry tomato size…it could be due to the lack of rain, but I suppose I might have accidentally bought cherry tomato plants. 🙂 However, they’ve just started to blossom and start to show fruit again, so we are looking forward to those, if the Lord wills:

Spring Garden 2012 Late Summer Tomato Plants

Finally, here is the mulch gardening bed I planted in black-eyed peas and I mentioned in our last garden update. I tried watering them for a while, but just couldn’t continue to spend the time or water resource on them. There are a few there, but I don’t believe we’re going to see any beans from them:

Spring Garden 2012 Late Summer Black-Eyed Peas in Mulch Gardening Bed

We are very thankful to the Lord for granting the provisions for the garden and provisions from the garden this year, and we pray for those continued through the fall, according to His will.

— David

The Orchard – 2012 Harvest

Orchard 2012 Nectarines on Tree

After last year’s drought, we didn’t really get anything in the way of fruit from our orchard, other than the few I mention in that blog post.

However, this year, the Lord saw fit to grant us quite a few peaches, plums and nectarines!

Here are some peaches cut up on the solar food dehydrator:

Orchard 2012 Peaches Cut Up on Solar Food Dehydrator

And here is some peach jam Sue made, ending up with about 12 1/2-pints worth:

Orchard 2012 Peach Jam

Some time later, the nectarines started coming in. The first picture above and this one are the nectarines:

Orchard 2012 Nectarine Trees

And here are some of them cut up (along with some plums in the bucket), ready for the dehydrator:

Orchard 2012 Nectarines and Plums

And here is some of the dried fruit. We ended up with around three large containers full:

Orchard 2012 Dried Fruit

Sadly, with drought conditions returning this summer, it looks like we’re starting to lose a few of the trees again, even after putting large piles of mulch around them. But, we’ll see how many make it in the end, and we pray for the Lord’s mercies on the rest of the trees, and rains to recover, according to His will.

We’re very grateful to God for granting this perennial food this year, and for allowing us to tuck it away for long-term storage without the use of worldly means of food preservation.

— David

Providence’s Perpetuation Provisions: Chicks O’ Plenty

It’s been several months since our last blog post about all of the chicks the Lord has been granting us this year; and in that blog post, there were some in the pipe line, which the Lord graciously granted the hatching of more chicks! And He kept going and going….and we are very thankful for the abundance of these provisions!

And so, here we go……

We’ll call this one Group 7. This was the hen sitting on eggs in the garbage can at the end of the previous blog post:

New Chicks 2012 Seventh Hatching

And this is Group 8:

New Chicks 2012 Eighth Hatching

And here is Group 9:

New Chicks 2012 Ninth Hatching

And here is the one chick that this hen hatched out (Group 10). She diligently kept sitting on the eggs, for some time, but this was the only one meant to be:

New Chicks 2012 Tenth Hatching

One day I was around the chicken pen, and a hen strolled up behind it with 15 chicks in tow! Wow! What a surprise that was. Come to find out, she had hatched them out in a stack of square bales of oat hay we had:

New Chicks 2012 Hay Bale Nest

And here those chicks are after we were able to catch all of them (Group 11):

New Chicks 2012 Eleventh Hatching

This is Group 12:

New Chicks 2012 Twelfth Hatching

With the single chick from Group 10, I had tried to put it in with other groups of chicks around his size, but he kept getting picked on and was basically running around scared, and didn’t appear to be eating or drinking. And so, I thought I would put him with a mother who was close to hatching some out, so he would be larger than them, and then hopefully would learn to adjust to being with other chickens. That was about a week before the hen was due to hatch out her clutch. Well, all putting him in there with her did was bring her out of her broodiness — I guess she figured she had hatched one out when I put him in there; and so, she ended up hatching out none of hers. He is in the next picture with her.

What I ended up doing was when they were old enough, I put him in with those 15 rogue chickens that were hatched out in the hay bales, after pulling the mother hen; and he did very well in there, being a little bigger than them all:

New Chicks 2012 Eighth Hatching Chick with Other Mother Hen

Next is Group 13:

New Chicks 2012 Thirteenth Hatching

And group 14:

New Chicks 2012 Fourteenth Hatching

And then one day, another hen rolled out of the woods with a chick in tow; and here they are, just the two of them (Group 15):

New Chicks 2012 Fifteenth Hatching

Finally, here is a video recap of all of these latest hatchings:

But wait! Perhaps the Lord is not done…the Australorp in front in the right nest started acting broody yesterday:

Another Broody Australorp Hen

Wow! God has been very gracious in granting these provisions. Although several died, most of the hatchlings have made it through to now. We have found the Australorps to be great sitters, most of them sitting at some point, hatching out eggs, with some doing more than one round. We are grateful for the sitting hens, and the new chickens, and we pray God glorifies Himself through the granting of them.

— David