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: rain harvesting (Page 1 of 2)

Storing Rain VI – West Tank (Pond) – Update I

Initially, when we had our west tank (that’s Texas for “pond”) dug last year, the Lord saw fit to stop the process before we had planned to finish by filling it up quite full — too full to continue.

Since then though, we’ve been in one of our worst droughts since we’ve been here. Since it was dug and filled as it was, there had been very little substantial rainfall. The tank lasted very well though, although it was getting lower, and was the only ground water available at the time for the cows.

But, God in His mercies and graces, saw fit to drop a decent amount of rain here, runoff rain, back in early June. It wasn’t a whole lot, but it was enough to put a lot of water in the other tanks on the land, and, for the first time, cause our west tank to overflow!

Since it was dug, I wasn’t sure if the water would make it around the bend without having to flood the entire area, but the expert diggers felt it would, and sure enough, it worked great!

Here’s looking back at the pond from the overflow side:

West Pond Full

And then it overflowing (the top image shows it too):

And we recorded a video of it too:

The Lord granted a decent amount of grass to grow as a result also, which has taken some of the burden off having to feed the cows manually, and we have been thankful, although there hasn’t been any more rain since, and we are around 100 (give or take several degrees) every day.

We do pray God might have mercy on us again and bring rain soon, as we look to Him as our Provider, but until then, we wait, hopefully patiently, knowing He is good and faithful regardless of what we might see around us.

— David

Storing Rain VI – West Tank (Pond)

While a decent amount of water on average is supposed to fall on our county, it usually comes in spurts, so we are always looking for ways to store more.

Even though I added an extension onto the original tank (ground water ponds are called “tanks” in Texas 🙂 ) that was here, it can sadly dry up, which not only doesn’t really allow for stocking it with fish, it also means less water available for the cattle, and last year we had to start watering the cows off the black water tanks we have, for a few days anyway, after which God graciously granted huge rains and filled up all the ground water tanks again, and we were very thankful!

Still, you can never store enough water around here, and so, after the Lord granting that we be the recipients of a kind and gracious gift of some funds, I thought it a good idea to add another tank.

I had thought originally to put it on our north field, as after good rains we would see standing water, but the ground digging folks who were going to do the job said there wasn’t enough water running through there…that we really needed lots of acres feeding a tank to be good. At that point I wasn’t sure what else to do. But then I thought, you know, we have a pretty good creek going through our place that flows really well with heavy rains. And so, we went back there, and they said that this would be a much better place and would probably work well. Well, great!

Here is part of the area where the creek would flow through before they started:

New Pond Digging Area
More of New Pond Digging Area

After they brought a backhoe out to make sure they could get through the top so-many feet and weren’t going to hit rocks to where they really didn’t think they could dig, they began.

Lots of trees to clear. It was hard to see some of the bigger oaks go down, but now we have stacks of firewood to cut up for quite some time!

Here’s the bulldozer they used:

Bulldozer

The trees were no match:

Bulldozer Felling Trees
Bulldozer Felling More Trees

Here’s the area cleared:

Part of Cleared Tank Area

And then the digging commenced!

Digging New Tank
More Digging New Tank

Between knocking down trees and digging, they didn’t get a lot of dirt moved that first day, but here is the progress after day 2. Sue’s there to give some perspective of the size of the dug-out area:

New Tank After Day 2
More of New Tank After Day 2

And this is the back side of the berm after day 2:

New Tank Berm After Day 2

Here they are back at it again on day 3:

New Tank Day 3 Digging

They’d use the claws in the back to break up the dirt to make moving it more easy:

More of New Tank Day 3 Digging

And here’s after digging day 3:

New Tank After Day 3

And then after digging day 4. We still had planned probably at least another full day of digging:

New Tank After Day 4
More of New Tank After Day 4

This is from on top of the berm:

Still More of New Tank After Day 4

But then, the Lord indicated to us that we were apparently going to be done with the digging, because over night and early that morning, He filled it up nearly to the top!

New Tank After Big Rains
More of New Tank After Big Rains
Still More of New Tank After Big Rains
Again More of New Tank After Big Rains

Well, that wasn’t going be pumped out so they could continue, so we thanked God for the rain and the water stored in the new tank, and submitted to His perfect, wise and good will in deciding when we were done. 😀

All that was left after that was for the digging crew to come with the road grader and “top” the berm, make a spillway off to the side to allow for overflow so we weren’t blocking the water flow entirely from those down stream, and then perform some final clean up.

First, we thank the Lord for the provisions He granted to be able to do this!

And we thank the very nice people who gave us those funds…thank you very much again!

And we thank Him for His graciously granting the rain and directing us in our endeavors with His perfect will!

Prov 16:9 – “A man’s heart deviseth his way: but the Lord directeth his steps.

We pray He always does, and who better to do this than the great Jehovah God, King of all creation!

— David

Storing Rain V – Internal Area Tank & First Field Swales

Out here where it’s very hot during the summer, and rain is intermittent, we’re always looking for ways to keep rain water on the land. On our homestead, we’ve done our first catch water system, the cistern, and a tank (pond) expansion. Recently, most of a backhoe week-long rental payment was donated to the Pecks here, which they graciously then donated to be spread around to the group. Lots of root cellars, tanks, etc. were dug out. At first, for us, I was just going to move a little dirt to the far end of our pond expansion, to allow for some more water to be kept in the pond; but after thinking about it more, and given we have a corner in our inner field that is a water collecting point, we thought it would be good to see if we could get a hole dug down there to create a tank for the goats to drink from, and hopefully the geese to swim in (and maybe be able to actually mate! 🙂 ).

Mr. Stonger here graciously granted his time for the week to be the backhoe digger guy, and so he came down and dug out that area near the southwest end.

Backhoe Digging Inner Field Pond
More Backhoe Digging Inner Field Pond

And here it is, ready for water!

Inner Field Pond Dug Out

He also took the dug-out dirt and placed it as a berm around the lower edge of the field:

Inner Field Lower Berm
Inner Field Lower Berm Other Direction

The Lord granted that our inner field this year grow unplanted grass; and with that happening, and with that 3+ acres being a bit much for Sue and I to try to process some form of planted grain, I decided that we’d just keep the field in grass for the goats, as they are a major focus for our homestead. Lord willing, He will continue the field in grass.

Given that, and after he was done, since he had already done it for some other people, Mr. Stonger offered that if we wanted, he would dig out some trenches as swales, with the purpose of keeping more water on the field. And with him willing, we went ahead with that.

This is the tool Mr. Stonger made to find a level line across the field:

A-Frame Levelling Tool for Planning Field Swales

And here is a line of flags placed. After placing a flag at each placement of the leveling tool, I would look back and find a general trend line and keep the flags at the ends of the trend line and remove the ones in between, which allowed for more flags being available for farther down the line:

Flags for Planning Field Swales

And then Mr. Stonger came back to our place after the tank digging to dig the swales…

Brave rooster! (Look closely)

Backhoe Digging Swales with Brave Rooster

And here are the two swale trenches dug out:

First Swale Trench Dug Out
Second Swale Trench Dug Out

When he was done, I went through the swale berms moving the dirt around trying to fill in some of the gaps, as there was potential rain that evening.

Well, probably within an hour or so, the storms a-came — with a severe one in fact. It brought some of the fastest storm winds we’ve had out here so far. But the Lord granted mercies toward us in the storm, with allowing us to have our animals put away for the night, and the worst of it just missing us, but granting quite a bit of heavy rains. And later He brought some more, although these were much more calm.

And here are the results the next day!

The new tank:

Inner Field Pond Filled After Rains

Swale trenches:

First Swale Trench After Rain
Second Swale Trench After Rain

And lower berm:

Inner Field Lower Berm After Rains

The berm and the swales did wash through…

Inner Field Lower Berm Washed Through

…but I went through and filled up those gaps again, and they did much better two days later after some more rain.

And here are the geese taking advantage of that! Our next job is to try to get them to swim in the new pond. We have gotten them over there a couple of times, but they didn’t seem too interested for any length of time:

Geese Swimming in Inner Field Swale

With the fierce storm winds, one of our older apricot trees didn’t fare too well. Some of our trees over time, and I believe because of the heat and drought, have had the bark on some sides of their trunks dry up and peel away, and my guess is the exposed wood there is dry, and with this facing the wind direction, this is where this tree broke and was knocked over. However, with the bark in tact on the other side, it didn’t completely separate:

Blown Over Apricot Tree
Broken Apricot Tree Trunk

After a little research, we propped up the tree, secured it to t-posts and cinder blocks in three places with a 2×4 brace behind as well, and I bolted the two broken parts of the trunk together — apparently that’s supposed to work. So, Lord willing, this apricot tree will heal and continue on its life.

Broken Fruit Tree Propped Up
Broken Fruit Tree Braced
Broken Fruit Tree Bolted Back Together

And here is some garden damage, but for the most part, the plants were thankfully okay:

Garden Okra Storm Damage
Tomatoe Plants Storm Damage

I did find some tiny pears on our pear tree though too!

Fruit Tree Pears

As always, we are thankful to the Lord for this opportunity to store more rain, and hopefully benefit the fields and the animals! Thanks to Him for the safety He granted Mr. Stonger (and Robert, who did a little) while on the backhoe, and the mercies in the weather! And thanks much to the donator of the backhoe to the group, the Pecks for donating the backhoe time to the group, and Mr. Stonger for all his hard work!

— 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.

Rain

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

Storing Rain II – Update

In a previous blog post, we showed a tank (pond) expansion project we worked on. As I mentioned at the end of that post, it had rained enough at one time to fill it up quite a bit, but much of it leaked out the sides; and since then it hasn’t had much water in it. In doing some other work to help fill the tank, I’ve built up a berm of dirt in a drainage area from our upper field, directing runoff water from it down toward our tank.

Well, recently, the Lord in His graces and mercies brought rain — four to five inches in around a week time period. This really did a lot with filling up tanks in the area, including here on our land. For our tank, God filled it up to about one and a half feet from the top. Again though, some of it is leaking out, but not as much as before, it appears. Hopefully over time the sides will continue to seal up.

And so, following and including the one above are pictures of the gracious bounty of water God has provided:





We thank Him for His abundant provisions, the water here on the land, and the Water of Life in His Son, Christ Jesus.

— David

Storing Rain IV Addendum

I thought I’d add a few things we’re continuing to learn about the cistern project:

– The concrete guys should have used a vibrating device that is commonly used when pouring concrete walls for our cistern when it was poured. They tried going around with a hammer tapping the walls to help the concrete settle, but in some places it didn’t work; and with “misses” when using the sealer, there are leaks. And so I’m having to pump water back and forth between the two sides of the cistern to empty one side at a time so as to patch it. Sadly, as indicated in our Storing Rain Update post, we have more water than will be held by just one side. We’re hoping to offload some of it to people here in the community who need it, and the rest we’ll attempt to get to our pond.

– Even with the “kickers” in place, cross braces, and the forms nailed together, the weight of the concrete still was pushing outward to the point of even breaking the form studs across the long way (I believe they were 2x6s, and they were breaking across the 6″ (5 1/2″) side). For information to the people pouring the concrete, there needs to be extra bracing across the entire siding of the structure and especially at the joints.

– I should have painted the inside of the plywood used for the siding of the cistern’s cover with mold-resistant paint before putting it up because, unlike the treated wood used for the framing of the structure (at least so far from what I can tell), mold was indeed growing on it. I tried spraying it with bleach water, but that wasn’t enough; and so I went back with pure bleach, and that seemed to do the trick. After, I had to get into the cistern to do the painting, which required I bring in a folding chair to stand on while painting. While it’s probably not ideal that I have to swim around in our water, I did get to cool off, and it did allow me to kill a black widow that had made its home in there. 🙂

— David

Storing Rain Update

After several months of drought and near 100 degree temperatures every day, the Lord in His wisdom opened up the heavens over the last several days, and needless to say we got drenched. God graciously granted probably some 6-7 inches.

Well, that kind of rain does wonders for ponds and catch-water tanks. Not only is our 2500 gallon black tank now full, but here are pictures of the first and second sides of the barn cistern:


Those represent probably some 11,000 to 12,000 gallons, which mostly came in during these rains.

Here are pictures of our pond as well:


And of course, Gary now gets to do some “goose things”:


We are most grateful once again for the Lord’s provisions, and His mercies in the weather.

Not only are we grateful for His temporal mercies, but for His spiritual ones as well. Psalms 29:10 starts with this: “The LORD sitteth upon the flood…” John Gill says this refers to “Noah’s flood; which is always designed by the word here used, the Lord sat and judged the old world for its wickedness, and brought a flood upon them, and destroyed them; and then he abated it, sent a wind to assuage the waters, stopped up the windows of heaven, and the fountains of the great deep, and restrained rain from heaven; and he now sits upon the confidence of waters in the heavens, at the time of a thunder storm, which threatens with an overflowing flood; and he remembers his covenant, and restrains them from destroying the earth any more: and he sits upon the floods of ungodly men, and stops their rage and fury, and suffers them not to proceed to overwhelm his people and interest; and so the floods of afflictions of every kind, and the floods of Satan’s temptations, and of errors and heresies, are at his control, and he permits them to go so far, and no farther.

Blessed be the name of the Lord!

— David

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