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: December 2013

A House – Update XXIV – External Siding

The Lord has graciously supplied resources via help from others to be able to work on the external siding of our house. We’re very thankful to God and them to be able to begin to protect the most exposed under-siding areas, as the OSB only lasts so long in the elements.

First was the tar paper that Sue and I put up using a hammer stapler. We were told we should have put the windows in after the tar paper, but I guess it was a little late for that now. I suppose I should have applied some special tape to secure the tar paper to the window — perhaps I’ll plan to do that on the next ones:

House External Upper West Siding Tar Paper Installed
More External Upper West Siding Tar Paper Installed

I wanted siding that was durable, hopefully without having to paint it all of the time, but that could be used as lap siding because I like the look, and was not too expensive; and so I thought cedar fence slats just might accomplish the task. I also decided on using tan Deckmate screws, so if we needed to remove pieces easily we could, and because the tan color matches the boards nicely.

First was the window trim. For the bottom and top, I just ripped a slat (cut it length-wise) to fit the bottom, and then just used what was left on top, to try to save on slat usage. The trim is two boards thick — the under board corners are cut square to fit, and the top ones are miter-cut at angles for aesthetics, although with the funny (non-45 degree) angles, they didn’t end up joining together too nicely, but hopefully I’ll get better at that as I go. Because of the shape of the screws, I found I needed to drill pilot holes slightly using a 3/8 inch bit, so the screw head would sit nicely and not split the board; and I used 5 screws per full board, probably about 3/4 inch up from the bottom of the slat.

And because the window “flares” (the part that holds the window to the wall) stick out, and the top trim was so thin, I used shims to push the top of the trim piece a little more vertically level:

Upper Window Trim Top & Bottom with Shims

Here is the trim with the shims cropped:

Upper Window Trim Top & Bottom

And the window trim complete. All throughout the siding I tried to use copious amounts of clear silicone caulking:

Upper Windows Trim Complete

With the corner trim, I ripped the outer boards in a way so as to be able to cover the overlapping of the under boards:

Upper Corner Trim

And here are the windows and corners done:

Upper Window Trim & Corners Complete

Here is the corner to window siding. I initially thought I would run a string all of the way across to try to keep each course level, but with the distance of 40 feet, the string sagged; and so I figured once I got above the windows, I could even things out as I went, making sure the first course above the windows was generally the same height on one end of the house and the other. I was also able to follow the line on the tar paper on this first course, which helped set things fairly straight:

Corner to Window Siding

Because I worried that the slats might shrink some over time, I wanted to have a decent overlap, and ended up going with 5 inches of each course visible (the slats are around 5 1/2 inches wide). Each board-join I bevel-cut at 45 degree angles to overlap each join, hopefully helping to keep more moisture out, and I caulked each join as well. Given some of the slats would have arcs in their width, I’d have to try to press them flat when running the sliding chop saw through them:

Several Rows of Siding

Here is the roofline trim. At one point in this area, I started caulking and realized I was using white caulking instead of clear. Arg. I tried to wipe it off with wet cloths as much as possible, but some is still there, although at least I did it in a place that’s somewhat generally hidden:

Roofline Trim
More Roofline Trim

Here I am getting close to the top:

Installing Siding Near the Roof
More Installing Siding Near the Roof

And here is the first side complete! We plan to paint it with clear wood protector, once the colors settle, since it appears some of the red tinting in the boards seems to fade away over time; and we might paint the trim a different color, just so it stands out a little. It’s an amateur job, but I’m an amateur. 🙂

House External West Siding Complete

Because of time restrictions, it took several months to do this, but we are very thankful again to the Lord for granting this progress on the house!

— David

The Chill of Victory, and The Agony of De-Sleet

As Ronald Reagan would say…”Well” (you can click that to get the full effect 🙂 ), we’ve lived in Texas going on nine years now and one thing I can truly say is that I STILL don’t know what “seasonal” or “normal” weather is for our region. Everything in Texas seems like a wild stallion still waiting for that whisperer to tame it. We’re still waiting for somebody to answer that whisperer help-wanted ad – I guess we’d better “bump” it. Ten days ago my friend, Debbie, and I, by God’s mercy, made it home safely just as the “event” was starting. That evening and overnight about two-plus inches of sleet fell and by morning it had melded into one large sheet of sleet (say that ten times fast). It wasn’t snow and it wasn’t pure ice, but lighter, yet still pretty slippery. Dave did succumb to gravity a few of times over the course of the next several days but was not injured, thanks to God. I took some pictures of the homestead to share with you all. We weren’t able to drive off the land for almost a week due to the dangerous road conditions. And the mud from the sleet is still around in some places ten days later!

You can’t see it but our very smart cows discovered that camping out underneath the porch roof was the best place to be. I sure don’t blame them! They must be book-smart because they like to hang out by the library windows. 🙂 Dave then had a smart idea of his own and put boards on a couple of the exterior library windows where the cow horns could accidentally break them!

Sleet - View of House

We have some winter wheat planted in our field up there. And some turnips planted in the fenced garden area in the forefront. You’ll just have to take my word for it: 🙂

Sleet - View of Crop Field

We are thankful for the good soaking this moisture represents for our orchard, crops and gardens:

Sleet - View of Orchard

Our goats took refuge in their sheds a good portion of the time. It never made it above freezing for a few days and nights. We brought up a fresh layer of hay for the sheds most nights to cover the “gifts” the goats had left during the day:

Sleet - View of Goat Sheds

Sadly, goats can be very selfish and territorial with those sheds so the low goat on the totem pole can get left out in the wet cold. Our little orphan, Annie, was shivering quite a bit, and since we lost a goat a few years ago to the cold, we have learned to be very vigilant if we see a possible repeat. So, I went to our barn storage and pulled out an old fleece pullover, cut off the arms and put it on her. She seemed much warmer after that. I’ve read that goats grow a nice, warm undercoat for the winter but Annie still seemed like she couldn’t stay warm enough. Nubian goats may not have that undercoat because Shatner, one of our two bucks, which is also the leanest of all our goats, was shivering way too much, as well. I found another big sweater and put it on him. It seemed to help him keep in the heat much better. Once the immune system is over-challenged, this may mean trouble with potential sickness and disease (and possible vet bills!) So if we are able to help stabilize them, we’ll do what it takes.

Our Goat Annie's Winter Coat

While I’m milking in the evenings, Dave is putting up all of our chickens for the night. We always seem to have a few “rebels” that like to stay out in the trees. We were hoping any that had stayed the night out had made it through the sub-freezing temps. The next morning, Dave found this rebel hide-out in the shelter of our mulch-carrier.

A Chicken Winter Weather Hideout

It wasn’t hard to spot the “rebel” chicken. It was the only one with frozen rain stuck to its feathers 🙂

Winter Weather Chicken Escapee

Our dogs, Brodey and Nessa, have a nice coat of fur, however Nessa still struggles in the cold and shivers quite a bit. I went online looking for dog coats or patterns and could only find cutesy stuff that would take too long to make or expensive dog coats for sale. Again, to quote Ronald Reagan “Well“, my dogs are cold right now! So, I took the handy scissors out again, found a couple of old sweaters out of storage, cut off the arms and put them on. Voila! Instant warmth. I don’t much care how they look, I’m all about if they get the job done. I pinned up the part that hung down below the belly (and had to make arrangements for Brodey not to pee on it) but they worked great!! Thank the Lord for the provision to help our animals fare better in this bitter cold, wet weather.

Here is Nessa’s “ensemble”. As the days and nights got colder, she was still shivering, so I ended up putting a total of three sweaters on her:

Our Dog Nessa's Winter Coat

Brodey ended up doing well with two sweaters:

Our Dog Brodey's Winter Coat

The little geese “pond” froze over, which made our geese very sad 🙁 The rubber ducky is in there somewhere…

Geese Pond Frozen Over

However, even Augie and Gigi didn’t seem to want to get out into the stiff north winds, so they hung out under the RV:

Our Geese Augie/Gigi

I had to laugh when I saw this set of geese footprints (sorry, you have to look closely) come out from under the RV and go about ten feet before turning around. It seems this cold snap was enough to make even the geese change their minds and turn around to head back for cover 🙂

Geese Footprints in the Sleet

We are very grateful for God’s merciful hand upon us all throughout this sleet adventure. This is the second heavy-duty cold front we’ve had so far this Fall and it’s not even winter yet! (whispering) “Hey, wild stallion, come over here, I’ve got some nice apples for you……”


Thanksgiving 2013

That time of year rolled around again, and we gathered as a group to enjoy a meal and some fellowship time together; and so, we thought we’d show a few of the sights…

Here are the eating tables decorated very nicely!

Thanksgiving Decorated Table

And here’s the meal table:

Thanksgiving Meal

And the dessert table:

Thanksgiving Dessert

And a very creatively-presented vegetable plate!

Creative Turkey Vegetable Plate

Here’s everyone during meal time:

The Community Group Before the Meal
More of The Community Group Before the Meal
The Community Group During the Meal
More of The Community Group During the Meal
And Even More of The Community Group During the Meal

And everyone relaxing and fellowshipping after the meal:

The Community Group Afterthe Meal
More of The Community Group After the Meal

We are grateful to the Lord for granting us this further enjoyable opportunity to gather in His name, and may we be in CONSTANT thanks to the Lord God Jehovah, King of the universe!

— David