Thursday, May 31, 2007

Simple Beauty

"And out of the ground the LORD God caused to grow every tree that is pleasing to the sight..." Genesis 2:9a
This little beauty pops up everywhere I go. I see it often as I'm driving around town. One day I thought, "When we get to the point of planting flowers, I'd like to have this one in my garden."

However, it was under my nose the entire time! As I was walking our plot of land last week, I found it tucked underneath a pine tree - in full bloom!! I quickly ran up to the house for my camera. The peach-colored blooms are stunning against the green foliage.

Beauty is most often found in the simplest forms, I think. Wouldn't you agree?

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Planting Our Garden

"Then God said, 'Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the surface of all the earth, and every tree which has fruit yielding seed; it shall be food for you.'" Genesis 1:29
After we installed the drip irrigation, we added more dirt and leveled it to within 4" from the top, removing any large rocks we found. We ignored small rocks - too many to remove!

Next on the agenda was amending the soil. We started with one large bag of Miracle Grow every 8'. As you can see, Hubby just dumped it in one big pile. A rake works good for leveling.
Fertilizer and lime came next. Hubby measured out what he needed and just spread it by hand. Nothing too difficult about this process.

Now we can go shopping for plants, seeds, etc!! We found the best nursery and were very excited about our finds. Here's a list of the seeds we purchased: mustard, parsley, basil, coriander, chives, arugula, lettuce, peppers, onion, sweet corn, and fava beans.

We also decided to plant marigolds and nasturtium.

You may recognize the plants: shallots, two varieties of onions, strawberries, seed potatoes, peppers, tomatoes, and rhubarb. Yum, yum!

Now that this project is completed, what's next? Wait, didn't we build the raised bed to hold dirt from the patio area? Of course! Oh my. We still have more dirt to remove. Does that mean another raised bed? Hmmmmm, I wonder.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Living water

"And whoever in the name of a disciple gives to one of these little ones even a cup of cold water to drink, truly I [Jesus] say to you he shall not lose his reward." Matthew 10:42

Hope you all had a great weekend. Back to our landscaping. Let me explain how we installed drip irrigation for the raised bed. The process is fairly simple.
First drill a hole completely through the end 12" from the top, centered from side to side. We drilled our hole at the deepest end, but either end would be fine. Then run a piece of tubing (cut to length plus a few inches) through the hole.

On the inside of the bed, attach the hardware to the tubing. Next, figure out where your lines need to run in order to irrigate the entire bed. Our bed has an interior width of 4' and each line has a 24" spread (12" on each side). So, our lines lay 12" from the edge with a 24" space in the middle. Insert the mounting piece for each line.

On the outside of the bed, attach and adapter/pressure meter for the garden hose. Be sure your pressure meter is in accordance with the manufacturer's recommendation. Our lines are manufactured for 15 psi.

Attach your lines and run them the length of the bed. Drip irrigation is more efficient if the lines are not kinked under the soil so be sure they are flat on the ground. At the far end, slice the tubing to the appropriate length plus 6-8". Cut two more pieces approximately 2" long. Fold the end of one line several times and slip one of the 2" pieces on to secure it closed. Repeat on each line.

The lines are 12" under the surface for a couple of reasons: 1) the water won't evaporate as quickly as if it were near/on the top, and 2) this depth allows us to use the tiller at a maximum 8" depth without interfering with the drip lines.
Now it's time to test the system for leaks. Gently turn on the water and increase pressure until you've achieved the recommended force. In a few seconds, the water should be gently dripping onto the ground. Check all connections for leaks. If nothing is leaking, you're done for the day!

Our reward? One happy garden!!

Monday, May 28, 2007

With honor & dignity

"Train up a child in the way he should go, Even when he is old he will not depart from it." Proverbs 22:6
"I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands; one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."

Are you grateful to be living in a free nation? Teach your children our history. Tell them why they, too, can live in a free nation. Encourage them to be patriotic. Teach them to be proud of the US flag and all it represents. Teach them about the sacrifices that make this nation #1 in the world. Teach them that our freedom is a privilege that must be fought for - on a daily basis. A great place to get the facts is here.

Be sure to thank a soldier, enlisted or veteran, when you're out and about today. I pray their sacrifice puts a knot in your throat and brings tears of gratitude to your eyes.

Sunday, May 27, 2007


The lesson at church this morning made me face the fact that I have a hard time being content. I do not consider myself contentious, though, either. Is there such a thing as being middle of the road? I'm not sure. My husband is much better at being content than I. The events of this past year have proven that.
At one time, I considered myself pretty flexible when it came to change. Until, that is, God decided to change every major thing in my life save finances & health. Within six months, our lives changed drastically: my one & only son moved out of the house; we sold our house & farm land [livelihood & dreams]; we left our jobs; we left our church; we moved 1/2 way across the country [1200 miles]. My entire life was new again. At one time, new things meant excitement. New things meant energy and invigoration. At one time.

Those six months were nothing compared to the nine months that followed. I hated everything around me. Each time I looked outside, I cried. What was I supposed to do with myself? I wasn't working anymore. I only knew four neighbors and they were my only friends. I didn't have a church home. My business had to be built from scratch. My son had his own place now. What was I supposed to be doing now? And once I figured that out, where would I find the energy to get it done?

I was continuing to study His Word, but it became a duty rather than a privilege. Needless to say, I wasn't really learning or hearing His still small voice. The barrier around my heart was becoming thicker and thicker. My husband was so patient with me. However, he would also prod me along when need be.

Then one day it dawned on me that God must be so disappointed with me. He has placed me in a new world with new surroundings for a new purpose. And that purpose was His idea - not mine. I was having a hard enough time remembering why I agreed to come here in the first place.

But can you see my problem? I was using so much energy looking at the past that I didn't have enough left to see the future...His future...His future that He is allowing me to be part of...His purpose that I have a role in...His plan that I get to enjoy.

His future.
His purpose.
His plan.

It's always His. Everything is His. Do I remember that? Not always. However, I am so grateful there is a larger force than myself. Life is too overwhelming without Him.

"I can do [endure] all things through [in] Him who strengthens me." Philippians 4:13

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Filling the raised bed

"And again, she gave birth to his brother Abel. And Abel was a keeper of flocks, but Cain was a tiller of the ground." Genesis 4:2
In order to lay the patio, dirt must be removed first. A lot of dirt. The soil had eroded down the slope toward the house until it was half way up the vent on the wall. After we leveled the soil to below the vent, we had to remove another 5" to make way for the gravel, sand, and stone. That's a lot of dirt. This shot was taken right after Hubby tilled the soil. Tilling makes light work of excavating. All this dirt will be thrown into the raised bed.
Before adding dirt to the raised bed, we removed the walls at both ends. That's why we didn't drive rebar into the end walls. (See yesterday's post.)
When this picture was taken, we didn't have the tractor, yet. Everything was done by hand. We loaded the little wagon attached to the back of the mower, drove into the raised bed, tilted the wagon, and dumping the dirt as I drove out the other end.
Hubby was so wise making the bed 4' wide - everything worked like a charm!
We added enough dirt to fill the bed to within 12" from the top, put the end pieces back in place, slammed in the remaining pieces of rebar, leveled the dirt, and called it good! Tomorrow's post: drip irrigation!

Friday, May 25, 2007

One raised bed coming up!

"For which one of you, when he wants to build a tower, does not first sit down and calculate the cost, to see if he has enough to complete it?" Luke 14:28
We didn't build a tower, but rather a raised bed. And I'm pretty sure we purchased enough materials to complete the job (see yesterday's post). Here's a quick run-through of how we did it.

From the highest point, figure out where the land drops 18" (laser level & yardstick works for this). This determines the length of the bed. Our mower & tiller determined the inside width (4').

From the lowest point, lay timbers - leveling the ground as necessary. When the bottom row becomes even with ground, go back to the lowest point and start a new row of timbers. All the while, use a tape measure to keep the inside width consistently 4', a 6' bubble level to make sure the two outside walls are the same height, and a smaller bubble level to make sure each timber is level in all directions.

From the lowest point, mark every three feet on both sides. Girls, fingernail polish works great for this! Alternating between a 1/2" bit and a 5/8" bit, drill a hole at every mark. A 3' drill bit allows you to drill all the way down the ground. Standing on the timber helps secure it while you drill (I stood on the other end).

(NOTE 8/28/07: We found using the larger drill bit allowed the timbers to pop up. From here on out, we will always use a drill bit the same size as the rebar.)

Next, at each hole, measure from the ground up and add 18". Cut pieces of 1/2" rebar to this length and place next to appropriate hole. On each side wall of the bed, drive the rebar into the holes using a sledge hammer. The holes drilled with the 5/8" bit will be a breeze. However, the holes drilled with the 1/2" bit will be quite a work out! Don't drive rebar into the end pieces - yet.

Here's the finished product! The timbers are stacked and leveled, the pieces of rebar have been driven into place (except on the ends), and we're ready to start adding dirt. See you tomorrow!

Thursday, May 24, 2007

We're starting to dream!

"And they said to one another, 'Here comes this dreamer!'"
Genesis 37:19
Yes, we're finally able to move on from clearing the land to developing the land. First things first, though: patio leading to the front door. But where do we put the excavated dirt? Of course - in a raised bed for vegetables! But what materials will we use to build the raised bed? Of course - landscaping timbers!

We ordered the materials: 2 bags of sand, 3 pallets of flagstone, 1 pile of quarter minus gravel, and 7 units of landscaping timbers. Yes, 7 units of landscaping timbers. Half a semi. 420 pieces. Why, you ask, do we need 420 pieces of landscaping timbers? Simple. Not only are we building several raised beds, but we plan to use the timbers for terrace walls, as well. (You only see 4 units in this pictures.)

It really doesn't matter that we ordered the materials first because the patio is relatively small and won't take that long. Right?

And another thing. Some of those rocks are pretty large - taller than me. How are we going to handle those without breaking each one? Of course - the new tractor!

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

What is it?

"But their eyes were prevented from recognizing Him." Luke 24:16
Don't look at the next photo.

Do you know what this is?

I think it looks like a bone-in spiral ham.

Hubby thinks it's a sea shell.

Wanna take a guess?


it's the...

end of...

a piece of firewood!

Isn't it funny how things are more confusing when we don't see the big picture? Life can be like that at times. Fortunately, He knows everything!

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Hubby's new plow

"You shall not plow with an ox and a donkey together." Deuteronomy 22:10
OK. But what about a backhoe and a scoop together?

Eventhough we live in town, we still have enough land and projects to warrant a small tractor. This little baby was delivered several weeks ago and has been used quite often. It's a 38 HP Kioti with front scoop and back hoe as pictured. However, we also purchased a pallet forklift and blade for grading.

Now we can get some real work done! Woo Hoo!!!

Monday, May 21, 2007

Revealed with fire

"...each man's work will become evident; for the day will show it, because it is to be revealed with fire; and the fire itself will test the quality of each man's work." 1 Corinthians 3:13

Absolutely nothing compares to watching fire. The flame is changing constantly; the wood is transformed dramatically; even the smoke heats to the point of flame. I can be mesmerized for hours, losing all track of time.

Look at this picture. You only see those objects near the flame, revealed by the light. All else is dark. All else is hidden. All else is private.

What's happening in the private areas of my life? How do I behave? What do I think? Am I selfish? Of course, I am. In the private areas of my life, I don't want to think of others. I don't want to be concerned with anything but my own desires.

Incredibly greedy, aren't I? The LORD understands, though. He's patient with me. And He's lighting the way.

He knows my heart does not want to be self-centered. He knows I would much rather live in the light where I can see what's going on - where He can be glorified. Is He always glorified in the private areas of my life? Not completely, yet. But I'm getting there. He's patient with me. And He's lighting the way - through His Word.

He meets with me each morning before I start my day. He walks with me throughout the day as I work. He rests with me at night as I prepare for tomorrow. He's patient with me. And He's lighting the way - through His Spirit.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Tree + Axe = Firewood

"And the axe is already laid at the root of the trees; every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire." Matthew 3:10
Another willing sacrifice for the sake of firewood (and garden). We're talking about the tree in the background with the three main branches. If you look at yesterday's post, this tree would be located directly behind the tall tree on the left. You can't actually see it in the photo, though. The yellow cinch cord is attached to the branch leaning heavily to the right (and even more heavily toward the neighbor's yard).
The chainsaw may be hit and miss; however, the axe is always ready for action. Hubby whacked away until the branch finally gave way. Somewhere in the middle, the cinch cord was moved from the supporting tree to the hitch on the back of the truck. The theory was to persuade the branch to fall toward our property and not over the fence.
Try as we might, the branch was not to be persuaded. However, please take note of its angle. Never once did it actually rest on the fence. The Lord certainly was the Expert Landscaper here. We were able to trim it on-site and get the bulk of it back on our side of the fence with no damage. I'd say that was a minor victory! And the end of our day. The other two branches can wait.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Another one bites the dust.

"A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit." Matthew 7:18

Notice the tall tree on the left. It's located on the western-most edge of our property just in front of the house. This poor thing had to go. The seed pods dropped off like flies and took root where ever they landed. What a mess! This photo was taken the morning Hubby "transformed" it into firewood.

On the right side of the photo you'll notice trees located closer to the house. One day, these will be gone, too.

As you can see from the aerial view, we have no grass. As you come down the driveway, don't you agree grass would be a lovely view?