January 2023

An unusually warm January kicked our laying hens into production
A night on the town with Shirley Temple’s
We all feel much safer with John on the beat
Our hardwood ashes from the stove make an important fertilizer that our fruit trees appreciate
We changed the carburetor on our little generator and got it running
Riley’s 16th and John’s 6th birthdays were this month, so we had a little fun to celebrate
Rootbeer floats!
We’re hoping a grow light system will give our seeds starts a better chance this year. These spring veggies will get planted out in early to mid-March.
We reworked John’s room to now have a loft bed with a slide. This gives him a lot more room to play.

December 2022

We had an extremely cold stretch with sub-zero wind chills and 108 hours below freezing, but it brought a white Christmas and some winter fun.
We couldn’t believe that we got to see sections of our creek ice over, definitely a first!
Christmas morning
Playing “Dutch Blitz”
We shot our first deer! Thankful for the meat it added to our freezer.
Venison backstrap and tenderloin
We got the last of our hogs butchered and in the freezer. Here, Paige is making hot Italian sausage links
Quinn and John handling the initial sausage grind
Someone dumped a young puppy on the road near our house, so we took him in, treated his worms and got him some shots. He’s a boxer/lab mix, and we named him Knox.
This month we had our 18th wedding anniversary and were able to go out for dinner.

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.