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.

Category: homestead (Page 1 of 12)

Wildfire!

With the extreme drought happening here, everything is very dry. And, around here, that often makes for severe fire potential.

Well, recently one got very, very close to our “backyard”, and it was a little unnerving to say the least.

Above, and these following, is what it looked like from a road about 1/4 mile (maybe a little more) behind the south end of our overall land area. It was pretty windy, which made things difficult. Apparently, 9 fire departments were called in:

Grissom Fire 2022 - From Road Behind Us
Grissom Fire 2022 - Wide Angle

And from our homestead:

Grissom Fire 2022 - From Homstead

And from the roof of our house that first night (the flames are not on the ridge directly behind us; it’s probably the next ridge back). So, you maybe see why we were a little concerned. It did slowly dwindle as the evening rolled on, and I sat on the roof until 2:25am, and by that time thankful the glow essentially could not be seen:

Grissom Fire 2022 - From Roof

By the next day though, with more winds, the fire picked up again. And by the time we got back from Lord’s Day services, the forestry service had a helicopter working on it, one that could suck up water from ground-water tanks and dump it, and by later in the afternoon, multiple planes flying over dropping bright red, we believe, flame retardant.

Their goal was to keep it from jumping that back road I was on when I took the above pictures. I went back there again and asked one of the firefighters if he thought they could keep it from jumping the road, and he said it was iffy. For us, if it jumped the road, it was nothing but forest up the hill, over the ridge behind us, and then down the hill to the back of the land, where there are multiple homesteads.

They worked on it all afternoon, and were still working on it into the evening. Everyone here had already prepped for evacuation if necessary. With all that continued firefighting effort, I was pretty worried.

However, as I watched the smoke billows from the windy roof of our house through the evening, I spent some time with the Lord in His presence in prayer, not just asking for His mercies, especially for the homesteads in the back, which were most vulnerable, and working through making sure I was submitted to His complete will in this situation (especially if it was to be that everything burned down), but just spending it in His presence…just a time alone with Him, even with the winds howling at times and fire somewhat bearing down on us. It was a special time with Him, and one I pray I won’t forget.

As the evening continued, one of the volunteer firefighters from a nearby town who we know some was able to contact our county’s fire chief, and he indicated that they were able to get it settled down for the night, and that it apparently wasn’t going to advance at that point. And so, we didn’t have to evacuate.

The next day, the winds picked up again, but from then on, the crews were able to keep it from moving any further. While we continued to smell smoke, and I think I saw smoke flare up at one point, the Lord mercifully granted it essentially to come to an end. And we are not aware of any loss of human life, most thankfully.

Later that week, we drove by to see how close it got to the road, and you could see burned trees not far in from the road. And here’s a map showing just how close it got, the top of the fire heading toward us. I think part of the reason they were able to contain it was because the forested area actually narrowed down between two fields, which probably helped them isolate it:

Finally, here’s a video of some of the events, including a little more from that Lord’s day evening, and drop aircraft (please forgive the wind noise):

We thank the Lord for His mercies to the firefighters, to other folks, and to us. May we always be submitted to His will in all things.

— David

Texas 2021 Arctic Blast: Our Homestead’s Version

Here’s a little around our homestead at the beginning and end of Texas’ 2021 arctic blast!

This was after the first main night — snow and cold, with forecasted windchills down to -18F. These were I believe our worst temperatures we’ve experienced here, even after the 2011 freeze. The thermometer says about 4F:

4F on the Thermometer

Here’s the homestead:

Frozen Homestead
More Frozen Homestead

I was a little worried about the cattle, given there are some young ones, but thanks to the Lord, they all made it through ok!

Cattle After Freezing Snow Storm
More Cattle After Freezing Snow Storm
Another of Cattle After Freezing Snow Storm

During the week, Sue’s “onesy” (coveralls) in front of the wood burning stove was the favorite for the domestics:

Mimi in the Onesy
William in the Onesy
Tuscan & Leila on the Onesy

On the first day after a week of these freezing temperatures, things started getting back to normal. Here’s our resident stray hanging out on the cistern spigot, which we had double wrapped with blankets the whole time, allowing us to use it too whenever we needed:

Mimi-Dude on the Cistern Spigot

And here are all the goat accoutrements hanging on the fence after Sue took them off:

Goat Coats on the Fence

Those were just a few pictures, but we show a lot more in this video, which has the day after the first main night as above, and then after coming out of it 5 days later (including a surpise from a momma cow!):

All throughout, the Lord was merciful in granting all the animals come through (yes, that missing rooster from the video showed up!), and helping Sue and me with strength to do all the care-taking!

We have no grid electric or water, which actually worked to our advantage, as we always had electric and good water as needed. We pray for those still suffering from the effects, but also hope people might consider their situation and on whom or what they depend for life sustenance.

We also saw how we believe God pre-set up provision before we really knew what was coming, even though they seemed a little “cross” to us at the time: the boy goats had knocked off the top of their hay bale, but Sue just took that hay into the barn, and it ended up being their main food for the week; and I had pre-put out hay bales for the cows, and one had been eaten down a lot and spread out by the time the cold hit, and another spread around some, but those also afforded bedding for the cattle. Also, both the tractor and truck starters went out at the same time a few weeks ago, we needed both for this cold front, and so they were ready to go.

Once again, we are very thankful for God’s help through 2021’s arctic blast, and for the gift of the new little heifer calf!

— David

Movin’ The Hay Roll Old-School

Our tractor and truck recently both wouldn’t start, the tractor with a hay spike for moving hay rolls, and the truck as a backup using a chain to drag them out. And our cows were an hungering, so with some help from the neighbor boys, we did it old-school — rolling it out by hand!

And we take you along for the ride in this video:

We thank the Lord for able bodies to even do this and help from friends, and we thank Him for all His provisions, both temporal and spiritual!

— David

Pesky 2nd Law of Thermodynamics: Outside Wood Boxes Refurbish Time

As built into the natural order, things decay over time. I believe this is a type or a picture of death, which entered the world through sin:

Rom 6:23 – “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

And so, we can learn to see God’s hand in all things, and be reminded of sin and what its due is — death: physical, spiritual and eternal, and then be reminded of Christ Jesus, the only savior from spiritual and eternal death! Thank the Lord for so great a gift! And for designing these things in the physical realm to teach us spiritual realities!

We see lots of decaying things around here, and some end up being beneficial, as in a compost pile. But other things aren’t as helpful as that, and one of those are wood-structures. Through time, they start to fall apart, and recently I went through and refurbished several items around the homestead…

Well Box

We actually did have a well dug on our place not long after arriving. It actually still does push out water, although we need a generator to use it, and it has a lot of, I believe, nitrates or nitrites in it. And so, we stick to our catch water systems.

In order to try to keep the well hose that comes out of the well head from freezing, I built an insulated box to put over it. Well, it’s been a while, and here is where we were with it:

Decayed Well Box Covered with Blanket

Cats would come and go through the blanket holes; chickens would get in there sometimes too. And so, it was time to reconstruct the box.

Here it is uncovered:

Decayed Well Box

And then disassembled:

Disassembled Old Well Box

Here’s what was underneath. Remember about the chickens? 🙂 (Actually, this is a re-stage of the eggs, because I forgot to take a picture initially, but it was basically like this.)

Eggs in Well Box Area
Well Box Area

And then cleaned up, ready for the new box:

Well Box Area Cleaned

Here’s the well box frame. Last time, I had different heights on the ends to allow for water runoff, but with enough of a slant on the ground, I decided to just make it square this time. Also, I shorted dimensions to allow for overlapping the plywood siding at the corners, and also to have the top overlap the side plywood pieces:

New Well Box Frame

I also decided to tack on what was left of the old footer to the new footer to let that rot on the ground instead of the new footer, hopefully buying us a little more time with the new box:

New Well Box with Old Footer

Then, it was caulk the frame before putting on the plywood siding:

New Well Box Frame with Caulking

And then add the siding:

New Well Box with Siding On

And the insulation:

New Well Box Insulated

Put the box in place, ready to lower down:

New Well Box in Place Ready to Lower

And then set it in place over the well head, and caulk the corners, ready for painting:

New Well Box in Place

And then paint it, and then it’s done and ready for hopefully another 10 or 12 years!

New Well Box Painted

Well Hose End Box

Most of the well hose I buried way back when, but we of course needed part of it to stick out of the ground to attach a normal hose for the actual use of it. For that, I also built an insulated box, only just a mini version.

Here is what was left (this is a re-stage too, but it was basically like this, although not quite as cleaned out as here):

Decayed Well Hose Box

And so, here’s little brother — basically the same design:

New Well Hose Box

And painted, and in place:

New Well Hose Box in Place

Generator Box

Once again, here’s what was left:

Old Generator Box
More of Old Generator Box

And the new box. I decided to forego the flat-board insulation I had used last time, to try to help sound proof it. Most if it was gone because the chickens like to peck at it :), and we really don’t need the sound proofing:

New Generator Box

Here’s the lid:

New Generator Box Lid

And the new box and lid ready to go!

New Generator Box in Place

We thank the Lord for granting the resources and know-how to do these types of things! Again, may we learn to see and contemplate God and spiritual things from all the temporal things around us!

— David

The Barn – Update VIII – The Loft – Update VI – First Shelves

The last work we did on the barn loft was putting up the stairs.

We spent a lot of time last year cleaning up around here, and part of that was clearing out the barn. And part of that was wanting to move stuff we were going to keep up into the loft, but there wasn’t much room left, so the plan was to go vertical and add shelves!

And here’s how building the first set unfolded…

Here’s part of the wood stack:

Wood Stack for Barn Loft Shelves

And the first frame. I doubled the long boards because I was planning to span 5 feet between support posts. And I put the cross pieces 16 on center:

Barn Loft Shelf Frame

I set each leg with screws and then bolted them with 3/8 inch lag screws:

Barn Loft Shelf Leg Bolted

I used the speed square to try to square up the leg:

Squaring Leg to Shelf

Here are all 3 legs on one side:

Legs Done One Side of Shelf

And then I flipped it over:

Shelf Flipped to Other Side

And did the other 3 legs:

Shelf's Other Side Legs Attached

And then turned the whole thing upright:

First Shelf With Legs Upright
Another First Shelf With Legs Upright

Then, after building the other 2 shelves, and with the help of the guys here, we attached the other shelves:

All 3 Shelves Attached
Another All 3 Shelves Attached

I also added leg braces at the bottom:

Leg Brace

Several of the turkeys roost in the loft at night, and here are the natural results of their eating! 😀 Straight to the compost pile!

Turkey Droppings Piles

And here are the shelves done:

Final of Barn Loft Shelves

And then loaded with “stuff”! 🙂

Barn Loft Shelves Loaded with Items

Another of Barn Loft Shelves Loaded with Items

We are thankful to the Lord for granting the resources to further organize here and store His blessings of provisions!

— David

A House – Update LII – Bathroom Cabinets & Library Bookshelves

It’s been over a year since our last house update, so I thought we’d catch up everyone as to the latest progress…

We took a little break from doing anything on the house, but earlier in the year added some cabinets to our bathroom area. Sue felt best to have something enclosed as things get dusty around here so quickly, being on a farm:

Bathroom Cabinets

And then recently we finally got the library going as I’ve kind of always wanted. Mostly it was just getting the bookshelves into place, and then we could move the books from the other pre-made shelves into them, and then clear out all kinds of stuff from tubs we brought when we moved here almost 14 years ago!

We had to move out the current portable bookshelves. Here is where they were:

Previous Shelves Wall

And then it was on to making the new permanent shelves. I kind of got the idea from a bookshelf in a thrift store I saw once.

Here’s the base being built:

Bookshelf Base

Then the shelves half done:

Bookshelf Half Done

Foreman William making sure they’re going to be comfortable enough as cat cubbies! 😉

William in the Bookshelf

And here are the bookshelves done height-wise with the sides attached:

Bookshelf with Sides Done

I did have to use a ratchet strap to pull things straight a bit:

Straitening Bookshelves with Ratchet Strap

Since the ends attached from the outside, I added extra braces under each shelf end:

Bookshelf End Braces

And here are the shelves completed:

Completed Bookshelves

And attached to the floor:

Bookshelves Attached to Floor

And the wall on top:

Bookshelves Attached to Floor

And then it was time to start loading!

Books in Bookshelves

And then on to the other wall:

Library Bookshelves on 2nd Wall

With the two bookshelves in place, here is what the library looked like before starting:

Library Storage

And then, needless to say, we have finally purged a lot of things we believe we would no longer use…

Library Cleaned Up

More Library Cleaned Up

Still More Library Cleaned Up

…or stored them in the area above the bathroom/pantry/closet walls, which was part of the purpose of that whole platform:

Upper Storage

As always, we are thankful to the Lord for granting the resources to do these things, and to the folks who have made all of this possible!

May this house be a house of worship to and learning about God at all times!

— David

New Upper Field Fence – Update I

After completing the north section of a new, long fence line we’re putting in, to allow our goats to be able to have access to an 11-acre field, it was on to the southern part.

The south-most end ended up being really interesting. I dug the end post hole without too much issue, but when I got to the second post, I hit rock. I thought, ok, no problem, I’ll just dig it out. Well, I stopped trying to dig it out when I got about 3 feet by 2 1/2 feet (maybe more) exposed and still wasn’t done. I then tried a different post location, but hit another big rock. Ugh…

Big Rocks Where Post Hole Digging

However, when the Lord formed the earth in this area whenever He did, He graciously granted a gap between those two rocks, just about post-diameter size. Ha, what a gift! And so I started digging it out hoping it would work:

Gap Between Rocks

Breaking rock is fun! 😉

Rock Breaking

Well, it did end up working, and I was able to get all the posts set in concrete. I am thankful to God for Him granting that! Again what a gracious gift!

Big Rocks Where Post Hole Digging

And then I put in the posts of the northern end of this southern section:

End of Line Fence Posts

And hung the gate. Whew…just made it! I don’t know how it ended up so close after measuring before digging the post holes, but post hole digging sometimes can drift:

Gate Next to Fence Post

Here are the t-posts and inner wood posts done:

Set Tposts & Wood Posts

More Set Tposts & Wood Posts

And then the twisted wire for more bracing:

Twisted Wire End Post Bracing

Another Twisted Wire End Post Bracing

And all of the barbed wire pulled:

Pulled Barbed Wire

More Pulled Barbed Wire

Again More Pulled Barbed Wire

Still More Pulled Barbed Wire

And lastly, the dividing gateway. Fence line done, thanks to God!

Middle Dividing Gateway

One final step was needed for the field in general, and that was to shore up the north-south end of the western fence line, and so here it is completed:

Western Fence Line New End Post System & Pulled Barbed Wire

New Entrance Culvert Pipe

In order to get ready for using the new road entrance we showed in the last blog post, the county will come and prepare the dirt, but we needed to provide the culvert pipe.

Here is what it looked like getting it home. I’m sure that was an interesting sight when I was driving on the highway! 🙂

Culvert Pipe on Truck

Those things are quite heavy, so I solicited the help of the guys, and they graciously accepted. We were thankful no one got hurt!

Unloading Culvert Pipe from Truck

More Unloading Culvert Pipe from Truck

Still More Unloading Culvert Pipe from Truck

Once they were off the truck, when the road crew came, they dragged them up to the front with a backhoe and chain:

Backhoe Holding Culvert Pipe

Dragging Culvert Pipe with Backhoe

And then they did their thing:

Scraping Culvert for Culvert Pipe

Culvert Pipe in Culvert

Joining Culvert Pipe

Burying Culvert Pipe

More Burying Culvert Pipe

Belly Dumper Dropping Road Base

Scraping Road Base into Place

More Scraping Road Base into Place

And here’s the new driveway into our entrance!

New Entrance Driveway Complete

We are thankful to the Lord for the provisions to continue to work the land in the hopes of getting further sustaining, for the strength to even do the work, and for no injuries; and we always pray He will guide us in these things so they may be used for His glory and blessings of others!

— David

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