November 2022

First off, we are very proud of Riley for opening an Etsy shop where she sells stationary with pressed wildflower arrangements. You can check that out here – Delicately Dressed Co. – Etsy Shop

Recap: Thanksgiving; local high school football game; Christmas decorating; Paige AND Samantha’s birthdays; fishing; smoking bacon; hog butchering; Santa’s Workshop; Adam & Sarah Thompson visit (with Aki); Ron and Donna Guendjoian visit

Week 44, 2022

As we prepare to mark the anniversary next week of our arrival to this “beautiful middle of nowhere” as one friend put it, a little reflection is in order. In the couple years leading up to moving to Tennessee, we experienced a growing desire to put our values and interests into greater action. In God’s providence we had found and purchased our property several years before, and each time we visited we saw more clearly how perfect a place it was to experience the seasons, grow a big garden, raise much of our own food, and be in nature. It is no small thing to have the freedom to order our common affairs the way we desire, and we are deeply thankful for that freedom. And as we could never have expected, we’ve seen how much more God had in store for us here in Tennessee than we could have imagined when we set out on this adventure.

Some Successes – heating with wood, pig pen, a prolific garden, electric fence, garden deer fence, canning, trim carpentry, orchard established, tractor and implements, chicken coop, birding, reduced expenses, wood chopping, chick hatching, seed saving

Some Failures – seed starting, tree grafting, dairy cow not pregnant, poor tomato plant support, poor potato yield, dogs eating chickens, raccoon eating chickens, snakes eating chickens, dog issues

One year in, and our appetite is eager for year number two. We have a list of untried projects and plans, and a number of adjustments to make to things we did try this first year.

Going forward, we are going to try posting monthly instead of weekly. We’ll see how that goes.

Our motto for this first year has been the quote from Picasso, “I am always doing that which I cannot do, in order that I may learn how to do it”, and that curiosity-based approach has opened up whole worlds to us. We pushed ourselves out of our comfort zone, failed plenty, and have found great satisfaction in the whole complex process. What a great gift life is!

Week 43, 2022

October 29, 2022

Weather/Nature

Some pockets seem to be in peak fall color, but much of the forest is past peak, headed toward full leaf drop and bare trees. Even though we’ve had some hard freezes, most days are still mild, with highs in the 70’s and lows in the 40’s. But it has been dry. The lack of rain hasn’t been too serious since the garden is all in, but we would like some rain on the oats and clover seed that is laying out in the garden for our winter cover crop, and we’re getting tired of watering young fruit trees by hand.

I had to fly to Sarasota for a quick work trip this week, and on the way back to TN got to enjoy a sunset.

Down On The Farm

We are in a lull between garden/veggie work, which is all done, and the butchering of our pigs in the coming weeks. The break has been nice, and we’ve used the time to knock out some house projects, clean, etc.

While I was away, Erica and the kids defrosted some frozen pork belly and started the curing process to make it bacon. It will be ready to smoke in one week.

Best Thing We Ate

Riley’s homemade chocolate ice cream with raspberry topping from the orchard

From Family Worship

Our Bible reading finished in James, and we jumped into Daniel. The context of Daniel and his friends being exiles in a land hostile to their religion immediately confronts us. Even though these events took place in 600 B.C., the setting of hostility is familiar. With very few exceptions over the last 2,600 years, God’s people have almost always been the outcast minority, persecuted for their faith by a world of darkness that hates the light.

Christians in the West have generally enjoyed religious freedom the last couple hundred years, but that is in the process of changing. This shouldn’t surprise us if we look at the big picture of history, and we do well to remember that it often takes external difficulties to sharpen and grow our faith. The book of Daniel is timeless, as all of God’s Word is.

Other Happenings

It was a surprise treat to get to see Gigi down in Florida – a remarkable woman!

Week 42, 2022

We were out of town this week, visiting with family at a Georgia meet-up, so nothing to report from the farm. It is always good to spend time with family, and we enjoyed a few days of Georgia “lake life”.

Week 41, 2022

October 15, 2022

Weather/Nature

On Tuesday we had the first frost of the season, and we needed an evening fire to take the chill out of the house. The leaf color is more striking each day, and there’s no doubt we are in the heart of fall.

The hummingbirds are all gone, as expected. We learned they winter in Panama. Imagine such a small thing having the strength and wherewithal to make it that far. We are hoping to spot an American Redstart, which would be a lifer for us, but the window is closing to see one this fall as they migrate through.

Some turkeys make their way through the pasture

Down On The Farm

We finished the well pump house, now just need to get it painted.

The garden is officially done for the year. We harvested the last of the winter squash, storing them underground, and fed the last of the field corn to the pigs. All three plots have been sown to oats and clover as a winter cover crop, the tiller stored in the barn until spring.

The garden was a ton of work through the summer months, and we learned a lot. There are some things we’ll plant more of next year, and some things less, but overall it was a success for us. The winter months will provide time to read through all of my garden notes and strategize for a new year to come. It is highly doubtful we would have purchased all of the food listed below from the store if we had no garden, but it is still insightful to record harvest amounts and their retail value. The more we align our diet and menu to the produce of the farm, the more it will directly reduce our grocery bill.

Best Thing We Ate

Pumpkin pie from our pumpkins…John’s nose approves!

From Family Worship

We’ve been reading through James, a chapter each night. So much wisdom for everyday life: not favoring the rich over the poor, loving our neighbors as ourselves, using our words to give life and not tear down, understanding why we quarrel and argue, and on and on. As the very Word of God, the Bible is matchless in its insights, and most of all, its remedy.

Other Happenings

A harfoot?

Week 40, 2022

October 8, 2022

Weather/Nature

It is impossible to overstate the perfection of October weather. Maples and the Virginia Creeper vine are blazing red and purple in the woods, and other trees are turning from green to yellow. We think the bulk of the color is still ahead, but this season is new for us, so we are learning.

Down On The Farm

Sweet potatoes and various winter squash are coming in heavy now, and we are going to try to store them underground in the storm shelter.

Okra seed has been harvested for next year. This closed loop of saving your own seed from year to year, with the variety becoming more adapted to a particular location, is fascinating and satisfying.

Best Thing We Ate

Ginny’s Chocolate!

From Family Worship

As we wrapped up our reading of Nehemiah, we benefited from the comment we read that just like the walls of Jerusalem provided physical protection for the city, so the precepts of God provide spiritual safety for us. Even in Nehemiah’s time, the rebuilding of the physical wall was always accompanied by the Word of God.

Other Happenings

Riley, Sam, and Paige camped down by the creek Thursday night. We were proud of them for doing everything themselves, making their own dinner over the fire…and making it through the whole night!

John had two friends over one day recently to play

We were also visited this week by one of Erica’s dear college friends and her family, who live just two hours away in TN. It had been maybe 15 years since we’d seen Ginny Braddock, now Ginny Wilson, and it was wonderful to meet her husband Randy and their two sons. Their family business is a chocolate shop they started in their small town, so they lavished us with much chocolate!

Okra walrus teeth

Week 39, 2022

October 1, 2022

Weather/Nature

With the calendar now turned to October, it is fitting that we’ve had cooler weather. Lows have been consistently in the 40’s and highs in the 70’s. The front that brought this cooler weather is the same front that turned the hurricane down in Florida. We are relieved that our loved ones in Bradenton/Sarasota are safe and accounted for, but the damage farther south is terrible.

Morning glory

Down On The Farm

Erica put up quite a bit of pumpkin puree, and we harvested our first sweet potatoes.

John raiding the raspberry patch

Best Thing We Ate

We’ve been enjoying acorn squash stuffed with sausage and rice.

From Family Worship

We were struck by how many elements of our Lord’s Day worship service can be seen in chapters 8-11 of Nehemiah. As the exiled people of God returned to Jerusalem, God’s word was read and taught, they confessed their sin, were reassured of God’s forgiveness, a financial offering was taken, they prayed, the mighty deeds of God were recalled, the next generation was taught, the covenant was renewed and remembered, and in all of this the people worshipped the Lord.

Other Happenings

John and I cleaned out the wood stove chimney, and got the leaves out of the gutters. Getting the creosote out of the chimney each year is important so you don’t run the risk of a chimney fire.

For a long time the girls have been interested in archery, so the time was finally right to get a compound bow for them to practice with.

Week 38, 2022

September 24, 2022

Weather/Nature

The fall weather continues to be beautiful. We’ve been here long enough to see fall turn to winter, winter to spring, and spring to summer. So this last rotation of the year, summer to fall, completes a full rotation around the sun, and is so far our favorite.

Down On The Farm

I’m experimenting in the pasture with different methods of weed control. In one area I have clipped the pasture before the weed plants could go to seed. In another, I sprayed a broadleaf herbicide to kill the weeds, and in another area I am leaving it natural with only cows to (maybe) eat the weeds. We’ll see next year which area has the fewest weeds.

We are also starting to save seed corn to plant next year. The first step is to pick the best ears from the best stalks, from different areas of the corn plot. Then, freeze them for three days to kill any weevil eggs. Last, hang them to fully dry until next spring when we will rub off the kernels and plant again.

Best Thing We Ate

Surprising winner this week – we tried the garden potatoes that Erica canned and they were superb. Not mealy or mushy or overcooked. Perfect potatoes and great flavor. Just wish we’d gotten a greater yield.

From Family Worship

“I am doing a great work and I cannot come down.” Nehemiah stayed focused in the midst of distractions, temptations and challenges. He never doubted the purpose of his life and as a result was able to prioritize rightly. There are myriad ways to order our lives here on earth, especially in our day and age, but will we be a family who orders our affairs according to God’s word, saying to all else, “I am doing a great work and I cannot come down”? May it be so!

Other Happenings

I took Friday off work and we went to a local waterfall about 40 minutes from our house. We hadn’t been there before, and what a place it was! The weather was clear and mild, and it felt good to be adventurous.

Week 37, 2022

September 17, 2022

Weather/Nature

Beautiful weather this week. Mild days with windows open, cooler at night. Days are getting shorter and the angle of the sunlight is changing. Leaves keep dropping and some early color change can be seen.

Dead timber rattlesnake donated his rattle to a boy’s collection of treasures

Down On The Farm

Autumn crops are coming in, which fit the feel of the changing seasons. Our thoughts and work are starting to turn to winter things: cleaning the wood stove, chopping firewood, finishing the pigs.

We have black walnut trees everywhere on our property and in the surrounding woods. They are our most valuable hardwood tree, and drop tasty walnuts for the collecting. We are going to try collecting them for the first time, so more to come, but the green husks should dry out, and then you can get to walnut inside.

Inspired by Anne of Green Gables, the girls made “raspberry cordial” with berries from the garden. The raspberries first soak in lemon juice before adding sugar overnight. Then they get strained through a cheese cloth for the final product.

Best Thing We Ate

100% from our hard work and God’s provision. Pork sausage, roasted winter squash, sauerkraut.

From Family Worship

After finishing Acts, we have begun reading Nehemiah. In exile, Nehemiah had a prominent position as cupbearer to the king, which gave him access to the king. In God’s providence, Nehemiah had opportunity to ask the king for permission to return to Jerusalem to help rebuild the city wall. We learned from Nehemiah’s dependence on God, and how in his fear during that great moment of suspense before he opened his mouth before the king, he took a split second to shoot an arrow of prayer up to God for his help and blessing. Our God is always there, to be turned to in any and every situation.

Other Happenings

We went to Blue Ridge, GA for two days and a night to visit some FL friends who were renting a cabin. It was nice to see a new place and old friends.

And we got out for dinner one night!

Week 36, 2022

September 10, 2022

Weather/Nature

Some warm weather early in the week, followed by a nice 2″ rain that brought in cooler temperatures. Cool mornings and drier air a couple of days. Overall still a dry time of year, but that soaking rain should keep things watered for a while. Soon, we hope to see some fall migrating birds start to appear.

Giant ironweed
Blue mistflower
Red-tailed hawk
Viceroy butterfly?

Down On The Farm

We’ve begun feeding the pigs with the field corn that has ripened. We bring them stalks each day, and they eat the entirety of the plant – ear corn, leaves and stalk. This should help reduce our feed bill as we have about 1,400 corn plants to feed them.

We are needing to build a well house before cold weather comes so that the tank and lines don’t freeze. Last winter we had a temporary covering, and it is time to put up something more permanent. We thought about using leftover concrete blocks, but after watching some Youtube videos on block work, it seemed more than we wanted to get into. So, we are opting for a simple framed structure that will be insulated and air tight. The first step was getting a level base to build on.

Best Thing We Ate

Homegrown mashed potatoes!

From Family Worship

Paul was not ashamed to speak the truth of salvation through Jesus Christ, despite the trouble and difficulty it brought him. The darkness hates the light of Christ because it exposes things that many would rather keep in the dark. It upsets the apple cart and demands a response. Christians know that any difficulty encountered in faithfully following Christ is insignificant compared to all we have in our union with Him.

Other Happenings

Lots of connection with friends this week. Last Sunday we had two families from church over between services, which was sweet fellowship. And on two different nights this week we got together with friends.

We are thankful to God for these and other friendships that have been God’s provision for us here.

Also this week, we traded our passenger van for a minivan. The extra space of the big van was nice when we were making a lot of trips back and forth between FL and TN, but now that we are settled here the better gas mileage of a minivan is more valuable to us.