This is our journal of what we pray is our sojourn of life (Hebrews 11:8-10) along the narrow way (Matthew 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: orchard (Page 3 of 3)

The Orchard – Fall 2013

I thought we would catch everyone up with how our orchard is doing.

The Lord in His wisdom decided not to grant much this year, except…

These were our first apples I believe we’ve received! We were pretty excited, and they tasted yummy!

Apples from Apple Tree, Fall 2013

Very sadly though, shortly after this, the tree began to wither and died. We pray that spiritually the Lord sustains us by the power of His Spirit so that the same doesn’t occur with us, and that by His Spirit He brings forth much fruit! (Please see John Gill on John 15:2 regarding this.)

We also have pecan trees, and here is one that made pecans this year!

Pecan Tree with Pecans, Fall 2013
Fall 2013 Pecans

These are our first harvested pecans:

Our First Harvested Pecans

And the final haul — 26 in all! We’re thankful to God for granting this provision!

The Full Pecan Haul, Fall 2013

I guess it was last year, we began mulching the orchard, starting around the trees, just to get the process going, and then filling in the rest of the area with mulch starting at the back. Well, over the past several months, I tried to get back to doing that, because it really looked like those trees in the fully mulched areas were growing better than those not in it. And so, here’s how far it’s been filled in:

The Orchard, Fall 2013, with Mulching
Another Pic of the Orchard, Fall 2013, with Mulching

We lost some trees this year, especially the apples, but most stayed with us, thanks to the Lord.

We are once again grateful for these resources, and humbly ask the Lord grant that these trees be fruitful, as we again beseech Him by His graces and mercies for the same about us spiritually.

— 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

Not Too Mulch of a Good Thing

Recently, someone in the group here came across a video about how a fellow in Washington state had an interesting idea about how to keep moisture in the soil and keep it well-composted for gardens, orchards, etc. He was in the forest and thought about how the trees never need to be watered, but seem to have no problem being maintained by just rain alone. He looked down and noticed the ground covering of leaves, twigs, branches, etc. and reached down below that layer into the soil, only to discover how moist and fertile-looking the soil was. The lights went on and he thought that if he could replicate this for his gardens, his gardens would do very well.

The main theory behind it is that the soil needs to be covered by something that composts, and he thought about it and decided to use wood chips (ie. mulch). Well, his video is a documentary about the success of that experiment, and is called “Back to Eden.” On that website, you can order the DVD or just watch the video for free. It’s quite interesting, although we don’t subscribe much to some of the gentleman’s spiritual beliefs and concepts.

However, this seemed like a great idea; and so, everyone around here is beginning the implementation of this. We’ve looked into trying to get local tree trimming services to drop their chipped wood on the land; but until that is available, the Brownwood land fill allows people to drop their branches and trimmings there, and they chip it into mulch. They have huge, huge mounds of the stuff; and so it’s just a matter of transporting it to the property since they won’t deliver it outside their county.

For Sue & I, we have half a garden that, although planned for, has never been turned into garden
beds; and so, I thought that would be a good starting place for our mulching.

Here is that half of our current garden before the mulching:

Garden 1 Before Mulching

And here’s the first mulch load:

Garden 1 with a Pile of Mulch

I don’t have a flatbed trailer, and have just been using the truck to get the mulch:

Mulch in the Bed of the Truck

As you can see though, there isn’t much back there; and getting the mulch we need would have taken a long time that way. Plus, the cost per load is the same regardless of how many scoops of mulch you can fit in the bed. So, I built a mulch carrier to fit in the bed, which has doubled the amount of mulch we can bring back in a load:

Mulch Truck Bed Carrier

If the mulch ever needs to be covered with a tarp or otherwise, I added some screws to which to be able to attach bungee cords:

Mulch Truck Bed Carrier Tarp Hooks

Here I am throwing the mulch from the bed into the garden. That pitch-fork works great!

Pitching Mulch from the Truck Bed

And here is William, our cat, supervising once again:

William the Cat Supervising the Mulching Process

Here is our current garden complete:

Garden 1 Mulch Covering Complete

And here is the result of the dirt shower you get when you pitch mulch on a breezy day:

Taking a Mulch Dirt Shower

My plan all along has been to have another garden across the way from our current garden, and so I figured it was time to get that going, since we had a quicker way to implement the garden preparation other than digging double dug beds and building raised beds. And so, here is the first pile of mulch for garden #2:

First Pile of Mulch for Garden 2
First Pile of Mulch for Garden 2 Facing Garden 1

After getting a few mulch piles, I began building the garden fencing:

Starting Garden 2 Fence Posts

Here are all of the fence posts in place:

Garden 2 Fence Posts in Place

And here is the fencing up. I just used 2″x4″ welded wire pulled hand tight:

Garden 2 Fencing Up

And since we have had problems with rabbits getting between the 2″x4″ fence squares, I added chicken wire all the way around:

Garden 2 Fencing with Chicken Wire

And this is where it stands today, almost completely mulched:

Garden 2 Almost Mulched

As I mentioned at the beginning, the mulch idea could be applied to orchards; and so, I began the process of mulching our current trees. Here are the piles around some of the trees:

Mulch Piles in the Orchard

And then them spread around the trees:

Mulch Spread Around Orchard Trees

And here is where it stands today, after replacing many of the dead trees from last year’s drought or other years with new ones, and after adding new trees. The idea is to eventually fill-in the entire area with mulch and turn it into another area that can be planted, perhaps with root crops like turnips and/or sweet potatoes:

Mulch in Orchard North View
Mulch in Orchard East View
Mulch in Orchard South East View

We’re thankful to God for this soil-covering idea and for the resources and provisions to hopefully, by His graces and mercies, greatly increase the means of provision available on the land so that we may become less and less dependent on the world and more and more under the direct providence of the Lord.

— David

Mercy in the Drought

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!

Drought 2011 Peaches

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:

Drought 2011 Tomato

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):

Drought 2011 Texas Map in 2009

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):

Drought 2011 Oct Rain Cistern Near Side

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!

Drought 2011 Oct Rain Cistern Far Side

And then it was time to check the pond. Wow! This is one of the fullest times it’s ever been!

Drought 2011 Oct Rain Pond

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. 🙂

Drought 2011 Oct Rain Slopping in the Mud

And I don’t think the goats minded the water either:

Drought 2011 Oct Rain Fields

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:)

Job 36

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.

Job 37

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.

— David

The Orchard – Update II

Orchard Peaches Spring 2010
This Spring we were very excited to harvest our first peach crop! It is still hard for me to believe, having grown up as a city girl, that you can actually grow your own “stuff” and not have to go to the store! Sadly, and as silly as that sounds, it is still such a new concept to me.

We currently have four peach trees in our little orchard; and we were so thankful to see the big, colorful, healthy peaches hanging there, each a gift from God:

Orchard Peaches on Tree Spring 2010

It wasn’t a large harvest, but plenty for us to eat and preserve:

Harvested Peaches in Basket

We cut up and placed some on the solar dryer, which turned out great! They are now in canning jars on the counter to grab when we want a snack:

Orchard Peaches on Solar Dryer

I also found a very easy recipe for canning peaches (I didn’t even skin them, and they came out fine). I also used minimal sugar to create a very light syrup instead of the normal heavy syrup. They were delicious, and I still have a few jars down in the root cellar for winter time:

Orchard Canned Peaches

Lastly, but certainly not least, I have been wanting to experiment with making chutneys; so I found a great peach chutney recipe in the Ball Blue Book of Preserving. I recently mixed it in with a chicken and rice dish, and it was delicious! I have since made other chutneys as well, but plan to devote another blog post to that. But, in short, I am SOLD on chutney!

Orchard Canned Peach Chutney

We are so very grateful to God for His gift of these peaches, among all of the other produce from our orchard this year.

James 1:17: “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.


The Orchard – Update I

Well, it’s been a couple of years since we posted about the orchard we have tried to start (if you click that link, pay no attention to the immodestly dressed person in the cowboy hat 🙂 ). Each year except this one, for which we only did replacements, we have tried to put in at least a few new trees. We now have 35 fruit trees — apricot, plum, nectarine, peach, apple, pear, and persimmon, 7 pecan trees, and 10 grape vines.

Here are the fruit trees:

Our Orchard
Our Orchard
Our Orchard

These are views of the fruit trees down the rows:

Our Orchard Between the Rows
Our Orchard Between the Rows

Here are the grape vines of the beginnings of our vineyard:

Our Vineyard

And our first little grapes! At this point, our plan for any grapes God graciously grants is to dry them into raisins:

First Grapes from the Vineyard

We haven’t really received much fruit up to this point; but this year the Lord has granted some apricots, nectarines and peaches. This is our first year to have apricots, and they are the first ones to be ripe enough to pick so far:

Apricots on the Tree

Here is Sue gathering some:

Sue Picking Apricots

And what we gathered:

Apricots from Our Orchard

In order to preserve the apricots without canning, freezing or having to use a preservative, we put the apricots in the solar food dehydrator. Also, I wanted to save the apricot seeds to be used in moderate quantities for the health benefits of vitamin B17; so they are being dried as well. And, on the lower shelf you can see some plums we were given, which we’re drying into prunes:

Apricot Halves and Pits in Solar Food Dehydrator

And here are a couple of pictures of the pecan trees. They really seem to grow slowly. We lost one last year too — it had been growing nicely, and then one day the leaves dried up, and it just died; and so we replaced it with a new one. Also, in order to allow the goats to keep our main homestead area mowed (thus allowing them access to all of that free food), I fenced off the orchard area, and each pecan tree, as you can see here:

Our Pecan Trees
Our Pecan Trees

We thank the Lord for allowing us to plant perennial fruit-bearing plants; and we pray for His provisions from them for many years, if it be His will.

— David

The Orchard

That first Spring we also began planting fruit trees: 3 apricot, 3 plum, 3 peach and 3 nectarine. Sadly though, the cows (to be mentioned in a future post, Lord willing) got to them and ate them back, and so they were set back probably a whole season.

Last year we planted 3 more apricot, 3 pear, 3 more peach and 3 apple. 2 pear and 2 peach didn’t make it into this season, and so they were replaced with another plum, another pear, and 2 more apple trees. And another pear and 2 persimmon trees were planted just the other day. We plan to add 5 grape vines and 3 pecan trees this year as well.

One thing we didn’t know about but have since learned is that some of these fruit trees require another species of the fruit tree or a special one to be pollinated themselves, or they won’t be pollinated. Apparently a Yellow Delicious apple tree is a “pollinator.”

Here what the orchard looks like now:

And here are some beginnings of fruit graciously granted by the Lord so far this year (2008)!

— David

Newer posts »