Waging a war on two fronts

Last weekend we got to “play” out on our property clearing brush and such. This weekend we were back home getting things ready to try to get our home prepared to sell. My chore for the day was to do some cleaning up of the trees in our back yard in order to let a little more sunshine hit the ground as well as stop the Arizona Ash from crowding out the Texas Ash.

For years I dreaded doing brush work at the house, but I guess all that time clearing fences last week put some fire under me. I got to hackin’ and whackin’ at the trees and before I knew it the back yard was looking more like our property than a clean suburban retreat.

It was a full day’s work, but thankfully the sun stayed hidden behind the clouds most of the day. In the end, the yard now looks much bigger than it did before and I was rewarded with a delicious dinner!

I always look forward to the work we know we have to do on our property, but the reality of having to get the house ready to sell is starting to sink in. Thankfully we kept up with the home while we’ve lived here! There is still quite a bit of work to be done to get it ready for the market, but knowing that the ends justify the means has helped encourage us to “press on towards the mark” and get things done on both ends.

Easter Weekend on the Farm

We took off from work on Good Friday to prepare for a weekend on the farm over Easter weekend. When we arrived at the property I thought it would be a great idea to widen the path to the clearing so we could get our popup camper to it. Getting through all that brush was a bit more work than I had expected, but we did manage to get the camper into the clearing. It was very nice to have a much more secluded campsite with the trailer, but come Sunday evening we realized just how little space was available for turning around and getting out. We’ve all heard about the “three point turn,” but this turned out to be more like about 30 or 40 turns. We did get the camper out, but if we are going to do it again there will need to be a bit more planning.

Some of our family came out to visit us at the farm for the first time around lunch and we enjoyed the visit. Once they departed it was time to get to work.

The bulk of the work Saturday, for me, was continuing to clear a four to five foot path alongside the fence line that borders our woods. I spent several hours hacking and sawing away all the while dodging green briars and the increasing amount of poison ivy that is emerging with the warming weather. Thankfully I am not all that reactive to poison ivy, but WomansWhirld is very sensitive to this little devil of a plant, so I bought some coveralls at the Army-Navy store.

I wasn’t sure if I would be able to make it to the back of our property, but near the end of the day I reached that goal and we were finally able to get to an area we had yet to access. In doing so we did discover that although the fence posts have been put in place, there is no fencing along that side of the property. We had assumed as much considering the number of cow hoof prints we continue to find in and around the creek bed.

As the day drew to a close, we each took our turn under the cold water of our solar shower (apparently I had forgotten to place it in the sun…oops). We sat around the fire and cooked a delicious meal and then put our little man to bed. Just as the light began to fade, I read Luke’s account of Jesus’ arrest, trial, persecution and death. The depth of his love for us was closer that evening as we watched the stars poke through the night sky one by one.

Sunday morning we got dressed for church and visited a local congregation for Easter morning worship. It was a wonderful time of meeting new believers and celebrating the resurrection of our Savior! On a side note, I now know there are at least two indications that a person is visiting a country church: 1) More than half of the vehicles in the parking lot are trucks, and 2) There are hat racks just inside the front door for all the cowboy hats 🙂

We returned to the farm after service and the mood was a little somber because we knew that at the end of the day we would have to leave. We spent some more time walking the property trying to figure out what kind of trees and plants we have and I can tell you it is not an easy task for two people who know very little about trees and plants.

On our return to camp we stoked up the camp fire again and cooked a delicious meal of lamb chops, asparagus and potatoes with a tasty treat of grilled pineapple for dessert. WomansWhirld sure knows how to plan a camping menu!

We let the fire die down a little more and realized the inevitable so we packed up our belongings and (after a laborious effort to get the camper oriented for a safe exit) and headed for home.

It has been quite a busy week so far so we haven’t had the time to process our photos and videos of the weekend, but I will update this post once we have the chance to do so.

Celebrating the Resurrection of Jesus Christ

ResurrectionToday marks the celebration of Maundy Thursday. This is a time in which Christians commemorate the meal Jesus shared with his twelve Apostles known as The Last Supper. During the feast, Jesus interrupted the meal to wash his disciple’s feet. This action is where the term “maundy” is derived from a Latin word, mandatum. When Jesus had washed their feet, they returned to supper and he then resumed his role as a teacher and gave the men words of promise and encouragement. They finished the celebratory supper and left the room.

When Jesus had spoken these words, he went out with his disciples across the brook Kidron, where there was a garden, which he and his disciples entered. Now Judas, who betrayed him, also knew the place, for Jesus often met there with his disciples. So Judas, having procured a band of soldiers and some officers from the chief priests and the Pharisees, went there with lanterns and torches and weapons. Then Jesus, knowing all that would happen to him, came forward and said to them, “Whom do you seek?” They answered him, “Jesus of Nazareth.” Jesus said to them, “I am he.” Judas, who betrayed him, was standing with them. When Jesus said to them, “I am he,” they drew back and fell to the ground. So he asked them again, “Whom do you seek?” And they said, “Jesus of Nazareth.” Jesus answered, “I told you that I am he. So, if you seek me, let these men go.” John 18:1-8

Jesus was taken into custody and for several hours government and religious leaders struggled to decide how to deal with him. After several hours of interrogation, betrayal and gruesome torture, Jesus was crucified. Christians commemorate these events on Good Friday.

All of these biblical events took place in Jerusalem during the Jewish annual celebration of the Passover. During this time Jewish people commemorate the time in Egypt when the Jews, held captive in Egypt, were spared a most gruesome fate that led to their release from bondage.

Jesus died on the cross in the middle of the day on Saturday and was buried in a borrowed tomb.

After these things Joseph of Arimathea, who was a disciple of Jesus, but secretly for fear of the Jews, asked Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus, and Pilate gave him permission. So he came and took away his body.Nicodemus also, who earlier had come to Jesus by night, came bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about seventy-five pounds in weight. So they took the body of Jesus and bound it in linen cloths with the spices, as is the burial custom of the Jews. Now in the place where he was crucified there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb in which no one had yet been laid. So because of the Jewish day of Preparation, since the tomb was close at hand, they laid Jesus there. John 19:38-42

The Sunday following Good Friday is commonly known as Easter Sunday, the day in which it was discovered the the tomb within which Jesus had been buried was empty.

Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene came to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb. So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.” So Peter went out with the other disciple, and they were going toward the tomb. Both of them were running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. And stooping to look in, he saw the linen cloths lying there, but he did not go in. Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb. He saw the linen cloths lying there, and the face cloth, which had been on Jesus’ head, not lying with the linen cloths but folded up in a place by itself. John 20:1-7


 

On a personal side note, I have been contemplating the term used on the day of the resurrection as Easter. I didn’t fully understand the origin of the word Easter and it is a term not used in most bibles. I did a little research of my own and thought I had discovered that the word Easter had pagan origins. This discovery seemed to coincide with the merchandising of the holiday with bunny rabbits, colored eggs, and chocolate candies; none of which I ever really thought of as reverent commemoration of our Savior.

This week however, I decided to to just a little more digging and discovered that it is not inappropriate to use the word Easter at all. Rather than try to explain all of what I found myself, here is a great article on the debate, written by the great people at Answers in Genesis: Is the Name “Easter” of Pagan Origin?

Once I read this thoughtful expose’ on the topic, I realized that the word “Easter” is actually used in the King James Bible:

And when he had apprehended him, he put him in prison, and delivered him to four quaternions of soldiers to keep him; intending after Easter to bring him forth to the people. Acts 12:4

First weekend on the farm

Last weekend we decided it was time to pull our camper out of winter storage and spend a whole weekend on the farm. It was a busy couple of days and unfortunately I didn’t document much of it with my camera. I spent a majority of my time on Saturday trying to push back the tree line from the fence that runs along the Northern edge of our property.

I was fortunate to find a great deal on Craigslist and bought a decent chainsaw for $50 and was able to use it some. It didn’t come in very handy though for clearing the fence line because most of what was there were small diameter trees, shrubs and plenty of thorny green briar; not to mention a sizable amount of poison ivy lurking nearby. Thankfully, I had come prepared with my Fiskars 7860 Brush Axe and Bahco Laplander. They made quick work of those small trunks and limbs! By the end of a few hours work I had cleared a path more than half way to the rear of the property.

We ate a nice, quiet lunch in the company friendly of Cardinals and wildflowers, then it was back to work. I cleared some debris from a section of fence that had seen some pretty bad flooding at some point in the past. I finally got to use my new-to-me chainsaw when I found a very nice sized cedar tree that had fallen. I know I am beginning to get the mindset of a homesteader because as soon as I saw that tree all I really saw was a nice set of fence posts!

Once all that was done it was time to have a little fun so my lovely wife strapped our little guy in his carrier, and put him on my back for a little exploring. The three of really enjoyed the beauty of our little forest. At some point along the way I heard a rather strange noise behind me, but couldn’t figure out what it was, until I realized it was little man snoring away behind my ears 🙂

We finished our short journey and settled in for a nice campfire dinner and met a couple of our neighbors who seem like really nice people. The sun began to set and we put our son to bed then returned to the campfire to watch the sun go down. It had been a busy day and there wasn’t much prompting needed to head to our bunks once the fire died out.

Here’s a few pictures from the day’s adventure:

A full day on the homestead

This past weekend we were finally able to spend an entire day on our property! It was wonderful to get away from the city noises and get our hands dirty in our very own soil. While the plan is to locate the home in the pasture area, our current need was for a location to camp in and operate from. We found a beautiful clearing and our first chore was to cut a trail for easier access.

Once that was complete we put up some shade, carried in the water and started exploring. There are definitely areas that we want to get into, but it is going to take time to cut through the brush to get there. Anyone want to mail me a chainsaw? 🙂

Our youngest son spent the day with us and he had the time of his life (okay, he isn’t all that old yet) playing in the dirt, breaking sticks, watching daddy hack away at tree limbs and in awe at the power of his momma as she toppled a few dead trees.

Here is a short video of the day and there will definitely be more to follow!

Introducing the WhirldWorksFarm YouTube Channel

YouTube videos have served me well over the past many years so it is only fitting that we repay the kindness of so many other folks out there! It’s going to take a little while to get the mechanics down of making great videos worth watching (and re-watching), but the process of learning something new is always enjoyable for me.

For now, here is where you can find our channel:

And here is the video announcing our YouTube commencement 🙂

Towing on a budget – aka DIY Trailer Hitch

We realized long ago that when living so far away from our property, it would be necessary to tow supplies and equipment. Unfortunately the vehicle we purchased recently did not come equipped with a hitch.

nohitch

I called around town and nearly fell out of my chair each time this or that custom hitch shop quoted me a price to have one installed. The lowest of the four places I called wanted $350 and the highest wanted $480. I had priced the appropriate hitch already and new these were some pretty astronomical fees. So, I did what a good and thrifty person does.

I scoured the internet looking for a good deal and found one. I needed both the hitch and wiring assemblies, which together retail for about $200 to $300, but I found them packaged together on Amazon as the Curt 13072-55597 Trailer Hitch and Wiring Package for $130. With a few clicks of the keyboard and mouse, the package was on its way.

Once it arrived, I set to work putting it in myself and about an hour and a half later, WALLA! I often wonder why it is that so many people will just fork over the nearly $500 it would have cost me. The financial savings alone was worth it in itself, but when the project was done, I know that whenever I hook up a trailer, I can take personal pride in knowing I did that myself.

hitch

This is going to be a long year!

© Nodrog7It has now been 10 days since closing on our land and coincidentally it has also been 10 days since we last stepped foot on it. I find it very difficult each and every day to keep my mind from wandering and thinking about the “farm that is to come.” For the past several years my mind would wander occasionally wondering what sort of land we might be able to find. Now that we have land, all I want to do is be there “on the ground.”

They say patience is a virtue, but it seems that even virtues can be put to the test 🙂 We have plans to visit our little piece of Texas again very soon though so we look forward to that day on the calendar.

In the mean time, I have spent a considerable amount of time reading about at watching videos of the Permaculture movement. To be honest, until about a month ago I had never heard of this method of farming/homesteading, but it is becoming much more attractive to me with each passing day.

I cringed each time I sat down with a spreadsheet wondering how I was going to afford all that farming equipment needed for tilling, plowing, mowing and haying. The Permaculture principles bring affordability and productivity together in a much more appealing model to me. Specifically the idea of zoning one’s land to manage it in a more sustainable manner and with much fewer man hours. If you aren’t familiar with this method, here is a great video that discusses the design principles of Permaculture Zoning:

Our First Full Tour

The idea of traipsing around our new property when it was 34 degrees outside with wind gusts of 20 mph seemed ludicrous. But then, it was just 10 minutes after closing on the land and we couldn’t bear to sit in the car and just look at it through the windows. We unloaded ourselves, bundled up, and  we  found that the tree line does indeed protect our future home site from that nasty northern wind.

We chose to walk along the dry creek bed that runs through our property to stay out of the wind. It was a very pleasant surprise how much more comfortable the afternoon felt protected by all those trees and the dirt berms of the creek. We found a few interesting items along the way including a full, unopened bottle of water stuck in some driftwood, an old VCR tape of someone’s New York vacation (at least according to the label), remnants of plastic buckets and even a political campaign sign.

We found a few places where some obvious torrential downpour had carried (and piled) a large amount of tree debris down the creek. In some places the debris piled above our heads and there were a couple of natural dams across the creek. Some things already adding to the “To Do” list!

When we rounded one of the corners, one wall of the creek was covered in the most spectacular patch of moss I have come across in Central Texas. I took a closer look and was amazed at the intricate beauty of the delicate leaves and flowers. Not far from there we found a tree whose roots had been exposed by erosion and some local species had taken up residence inside. We now call it the Hobbit Tree!

We had to leave the creek bed for a short stretch due to the debris, but when we got back onto the “shore,” we were at our rear fence. The property beyond went uphill and a herd of a couple dozen cows came running towards us in their pasture to see these new strangers. They stayed quite a ways away and then decided we weren’t worth further investigation and ran away.

There were some very pretty spots that we will definitely have to check out again another time, but after two hours of walking and taking in the beauty of our new and future home, we decided it was time to say goodnight to the farm.

Creek Tour Collage

Whirl’d Works Farm – Day One!

Today we officially closed on the property that will become Whirl’d Works Farm!

farmsunset

Taking the advice of many a farmer and homesteader, our first goal was to eliminate debt. We set out on a plan to do just that! Several years later, after attacking the debt with greater fervor than we had planned, we found ourselves closer and closer to being in a position to buy. Today marks day one of owning our own small piece of Texas.

How did we get here?

Some people may balk at the idea that God does indeed have plans for His children, but we earnestly believe that is how we ended up where we are today. The entire time we were paying down our debt we occasionally looked at land for sale. We knew we weren’t yet in a position to buy, but we wanted to get a good idea of what was available. Then one Sunday afternoon, our youngest son was in an unusually bad mood and no matter what we tried we couldn’t get him to sleep.

Exhausting all other efforts, mom put him in the car and we went for a drive in the country. There was no end goal other than making sure our little guy got a good, long nap. Just before we turned back for home we found ourselves in a very pretty area that we hadn’t really been looking at. When we returned home we began browsing the internet for land for sale in that area.

We came across a few tracts that looked interesting and zeroed in on one particular tract. The following weekend we drove out to look at it. The area was beautiful, but the lot had issues we couldn’t see from satellite pictures. Disappointed we turned back down the road, but noticed “For Sale” signs on a few other lots. We pulled up next to a tract and both of us just had this strong feeling inside that we were “home.” I opened the gate and with each footstep both of us felt overwhelmed at the amount of peace that fell over us. This would be where we would stake our claim.

We met with the realtor the following weekend and with pen hovering over a contract, we submitted our offer. Hours later we had a signed contract. Going through the approval process took a little longer than we had anticipated, but today Whirl’d Works Farm is no longer a dream. It is real and it is ours!

We walked along the creek bed today and were still in awe that this was now OUR land! Our little man was really excited to get out and walk too! He had so much fun that as we walked back to the car he reached over for something and fell over, then decided that would be a nice place to take a nap.

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