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.

Week 35, 2022

September 3, 2022

Weather/Nature

On Thursday we had our first morning in the 50’s and drier air moving in. Most mornings have been very foggy, with warm and dry conditions causing things to get a little dusty. August is a dry month here, in general.

Down On The Farm

The last of the watermelon and cantaloupe were harvested, further opening up the area that has now been planted to oats and clover for a winter cover crop. A cover crop offers several benefits including the prevention of soil erosion, aerating the soil via root growth, and adding organic matter, but maybe the best benefit is that it taps into the soil’s fertility, “trapping” it in the plant tissue of the cover crop. These nutrients are returned to the garden when the cover crop is tilled under in the spring, preventing those nutrients from leaching out of the bare soil over winter.

Best Thing We Ate

It was satisfying to see one dinner this week that consisted of our own homegrown sausage, broccoli, sauerkraut, potatoes, onions and pickles.

From Family Worship

As we wrap up the book of Acts, one commentator made the observations that in Acts we see the good news of the gospel spreading outward from Jerusalem, the capital of the Israelites, to Rome, the capital of the world. This worldwide expansion of God’s covenant of grace with His people from every tribe, tongue and nation was God’s plan all along. To Abram God said, “And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed” (Genesis 12:3), and in many other places we see the same thing. This new administration of the covenant of grace that was ushered in by Christ is far superior in every way to the old administration under Moses.

Other Happenings

No much other than a little basketball, a fairly quiet week.

Week 34, 2022

August 27, 2022

Weather/Nature

Warm and muggy again this week; summer hasn’t quite released her grip.

Riley continues to find (and identify) beauty where it is easy to miss:

False sunflower
Carolina elephantsfoot
Yacon

Down On The Farm

The bounty of creation provided us with a fallen tree (cedar) that we cut up and brought to the woodshed. Cedar makes great kindling, so the plan is to chop this into kindling sticks for the winter.

The blueberries that have survived since being planted in the spring are growing well. We lost 8 out of 20, which is unfortunate, and I’m not sure what happened. I think we could have done a better job of watering them. They were originally planted in peat moss because blueberries need acidic soil, and now we mulched them with fine pine bark, which will give their shallow roots room to grow and add acidity as it breaks down. We’ll try propagating blueberries this winter with hardwood cuttings to hopefully have replacement plants for the spring.

Erica’s flower garden is adding some nice color by the house

Best Thing We Ate

Some friends came over who are very good at identifying plants and trees, and pointed out that we have many pawpaw trees growing along the creek bank. Some even had ripe fruit that we picked. They were delicious – a mix between banana and mango, with a custardy texture. I wish I took a picture. The pawpaw is native to North America and is surprisingly tropical for the climate.

From Family Worship

It is satisfying to see the older children becoming critical thinkers, able to consider multiple views on whatever issue, weigh the merits, and make a decision about what they believe. This comes up all the time when we talk about politics, history, science, government, current events, and of course different theological issue that arise as we read and discuss the Bible. We believe that is the most valuable part of the education we seek to provide for our children.

Other Happenings

On Wednesday, Riley, Sam and Paige were picked up by a friend from church to go shopping and play board games at her house down in Cookeville. I then met them at the prayer meeting to pick them up and come home. It was nice to be at the weekly prayer meeting, which we rarely get to do due to the distance.

Week 33, 2022

August 20, 2022

Weather/Nature

The report locally is that this summer was hotter, but shorter, than usual. We had a hot and dry June, a hot and wet July, and in mid-August the heat began to break. We instinctively have been spending more time on the porch throughout the day and in the evenings. It is lovely weather. Some leaves are starting to drop from the early-shedding trees, and all manner of plants, grass and weeds are making their last big push to go to seed and reproduce before colder weather comes.

We put up two hummingbird feeders and are shocked at how many show up every day. They spend the whole day, from sun up to sun down, feeding on the sugar water. We’ve been surprised at how noisy and aggressive they are with each other, and they seem to have no fear of humans. We’ll see up to 10 at a time.

Down On The Farm

The last of the potatoes and tomatoes have been harvested, and the area of the garden is getting bigger that will soon be sowed to oats and clover as an over-winter cover crop.

The green beans have finally started growing. We thought we lost them with such a dry June, but they bid their time until better conditions, and now they’re really taking off. The sturdy stalk of the Tennessee red cobb corn we grow makes a good trellis for them.

As we went out before dusk last evening to pick green beans and raspberries, one of the children said with sincerity, “I just love this life!”

This has been a good batch of pigs, no problems
Digging potatoes

Best Thing We Ate

Garlic new potatoes, roasted potatoes, mashed potatoes, etc. these homegrown potatoes have a creamy and slightly sweet way about them and are delicious.

From Family Worship

We’ve enjoyed connecting Acts with many of the New Testament letters written by Paul. As we read the real-time chronological account recorded in Acts, we see Paul and his associates traveling to Galatia, Corinth, Ephesus, Philippi. We’re given fascinating detail, like Lydia, the first convert in Philippi, or the Philippian jailer who, along with his family, was surely part of the Philippian church who Paul later wrote to. All of this adds color to our reading of these letter that Paul would go on to write. They background given in Acts has a way of rooting the story, making it much more earthy.

Other Happenings

On a sad note, our old pal Presby was run over and killed this week. He had a terrible habit of chasing cars and it caught up with him. After finding him on the brink of death a few months ago, we are glad to have had him for the summer, and are satisfied that we were able to provide him with love and a full belly. The saddest part is that Anya took to him and they’d play all day. She was there for his burial, and that first day would return to the grave and lay down a while.

We had a chicken snake eat one of our newly hatched chicks, that rascal. Everybody has to eat, but it was the last meal for him.

A local Amish family, headed to the same hardware store as me.

Week 32, 2022

August 13, 2022

Weather/Nature

Bats flit and dive in the dusk over our pasture, each one eating an incredible number of flies and mosquitoes. I’ve thought about building bat houses to attract them, but it doesn’t seem necessary. I think they must have plenty of nesting sites in the nearby bluffs and dead trees.

Last night and today have been noticeably more comfortable outside. Today feels like early fall weather.

Down On The Farm

Daisy is getting closer to calving, which means we need to get her milking stall built in the barn. We also need to get a secondary chicken coop built to house the new chicks that are outgrowing the brooder. This second coop will come in handy for raising chickens for meat, raising layers to a size where they can defend themselves with the rest of the flock, etc.

18 more quarts of salsa canned this week

Best Thing We Ate

Fried green tomatoes!

From Family Worship

Continuing to make our way through Acts, we had a good discussion one night this week in Acts 13, specifically v. 36 where the Apostle Paul says that David “served the purpose of God in his generation, fell asleep, and was laid among his fathers and underwent decay”. The context is that Paul was comparing David to Jesus, who did not see decay after death. Jesus is the king that David could never have been.

But the simple phrase that David served the purpose of God in his generation got us thinking. Each generation is handed the baton, to run with it until it is time to hand it off to the next. We are each bound by the time and circumstances that God has allotted to us in His perfect wisdom. What will we do with it? Will we serve the purposes of God, or will we serve the purposes of self? How does this affect our planning and thinking about the future?

Other Happenings

I took Samantha with me on a short business trip to Florida where we stayed with my parents. It was a great opportunity to spend some one-on-one time with her, an amazing young lady.

We were invited to join our friends on their trip to the Ark Encounter and Creation Museum. Not being sure what to expect, we were impressed with the size and detail of the place! We had a great time with our friends and learned a lot.

On our way home through Kentucky, we drove through Wendell Berry’s home town of Port Royal. The influence of his writings on our chosen way of life has been significant, and it was surreal to be there – the setting for all of his fiction, poetry and thought. We went to his bookstore in town and I succumbed to the temptation to buy a 1st edition copy of one of his non-fiction works, signed by him, and…from his personal library.

Week 31, 2022

August 6, 2022

Weather/Nature

Do what we can, summer will have its flies.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

This may have had a deeper meaning for Emerson, but it is true, flies have been our nemesis lately. But flies beware, Erica is lightning-quick with her fly swatter.

Locals say August are the “dog days” because snakes go blind, become more defensive, and are therefore more likely to bite dogs and humans alike. Not sure, might have to research that one more.

Down On The Farm

The hot pepper seedlings we got from our seedling supplier were a substitute because the jalapeños weren’t ready. They came described only as a “wax pepper”, so we put 50 plants in the ground. They have grown beautifully, but we’ve discovered they are HOT. More like a habanero. We wear gloves when we pick them, and the girls have been stringing them for drying and storage. They’ve certainly turned up the heat in our salsa.

We finally got to use our electric incubator we bought last year, but haven’t had the chance to use. We collected 9 eggs from the hens, and got them situated in the incubator for their 21 day incubation period. It worked with 100% success! Sure beats buying chicks at $4-$5 a piece.

I’ve collected a number of old farm books over the years, because I think their advice is much better than any modern manual. In one book, “Farm Management”, published by Cornell University in 1913, Dr. G.F. Warren tells the account of a family who lived on a farm, while the man worked a “city job”. This family kept good records of the retail value of the homestead produce they raised and consumed, and this is what gave me the idea to do the same.

Best Thing We Ate

Homemade toffee: the girls make a caramel and a chocolate sauce, then layer it on saltines before refrigerating.

From Family Worship

In Acts 9, someone introduced only as “a disciple in Damascus named Ananias” was asked to do something incredibly dangerous. He was asked by God to go to Saul who had just been converted on the road to Damascus. He was asked to go to Saul, when most were trying to avoid Saul! Ananias didn’t initially know that Saul had been converted, but only that Saul had been breathing threats and murder against Christians, and imprisoning them. After initially voicing his concern to God, he obeyed. He did what he was commanded to do without knowing the whole picture of what was going on. He walked by faith and not by sight, trusting that God would take care of him as he sought to be obedient in the face of danger.

Other Happenings

A mom and her children came to visit one day this week to check out the farm and play in the creek. They recently moved to the area from Arizona, so it was nice for Erica and the kids to get to know them better. Hopefully we can have another visit as families when the husbands aren’t working.

Week 30, 2022

July 30, 2022

Weather/Nature

Warm and muggy, more rain now than earlier this summer and slightly lower highs. Cicadas humming in the trees, and the sound of distant thunder make late July unique. The uncomfortable conditions outside make you want to be lazy indoors, but you can’t get away with that like you can in late January. Things are busy around here.

Down On The Farm

The okra, tomatoes, hot peppers, cantaloupe, watermelon and potatoes are coming in heavy now. Erica has been amazing as she continues to can, freeze and dry all sorts of produce in all sorts of different forms. We are also trying to keep up with weeding in the berry beds, and the kids have been working really hard both indoors and out. The pigs are growing fat on garden scraps, some firewood is getting split, a few more fruit trees are planted. We imagined that this time of year would be the busiest, and that is certainly true!

Best Thing We Ate

We told the kids that in summer we’ll eat like kings and queens, and so it is. Our garden abundance puts out a spread for breakfast, lunch and dinner that is deeply satisfying.

From Family Worship

After finishing the Gospel of John we moved into Acts, reading and discussing a chapter each night. It is wonderful to hear the older children share thoughts and insights that make it clear they are embracing the Christian faith as their own. In the early chapters of Acts, we’ve all been impressed at the boldness of the Apostles to proclaim the gospel in the face of personal danger and loss. They rightly counted it more important to obey God than to obey man, and were willing to suffer the consequences of being faithful to the Word of God.

Other Happenings

We were able to visit Erica’s parents near Charleston, SC last weekend, which was our first time seeing them in their new home since they moved there from Florida at the beginning of the year.

John and I were able to steal away Friday afternoon to go check out the nearby trout hatchery and dam at Dale Hollow Lake. Any day I can spend time with this guy is a good day.

Week 29, 2022

July 23, 2022

This week we were visiting Erica’s parents in Charleston, SC, so more on that next week.

Here’s some good memories from the six years we spent on our Florida farm prior to moving to TN.

Week 28, 2022

July 16, 2022

Weather/Nature

A good rain pattern has been established, which we are grateful for. Things are healthy, lush and growing again. Mornings are in the 60’s and days heat up to low 90’s. Crickets in the evening have replaced the lightning bugs, although a few can still be seen. Peak summer.

Down On The Farm

We are done harvesting cucumbers, zucchini, onions, broccoli, and kale for this year. We’ll use this space to plant fall/winter veggies once we get it cleaned up. We tried a watermelon and a cantelope, but they are not quite ready yet.

We’re starting to steal some new potatoes from the potato patch
Okra prepared for freezing
Onions cured, braided and hung for future use

A friend who does tree work called to say there was some white oak he was trying to get rid of from a job site, so John and I went and got a pickup full of rounds that we will chop for storage. We’re always on the lookout for good firewood, and hopefully we’ll get up to having 3-4 years worth stored.

We mowed the medium red clover in the fallow garden area for the first time. We will grow red clover there for two years before making it our veggie garden and planting the current garden site to red clover. This two year rotation should add organic matter and enrich the soil, making it better each time instead of depleted.

Best Thing We Ate

A nice “garden soup” with tomatoes, onion, zucchini, and cabbage from the garden, served with a warm loaf of homemade bread.

From Family Worship

John 14 on Monday night was memorable. Comfort for the downcast, tender reassurance for the doubting, peace for the worried, all given lavishly by the One whom we are not ashamed to call “the Way, the Truth, and the Life”. He alone is the gate through which green pastures are found, and the Father is known.

Other Happenings

The Samilian’s were with us last weekend and into the beginning of this week. It did us good to see old friends and their effort to come see us was appreciated. Some pictures from the second half of their visit:

Having fun in our creek after the big rain