Friday, June 20, 2014

Blackberries or Raspberries?

The berries in what we had thought was a small blackberry patch are just beginning to ripen so yesterday afternoon, I went berry picking. While picking the deliciously sweet berries off of the tangled patch of briers, I remembered someone mentioning to me that the berries might actually be raspberries.

A quick internet search confirmed it! So instead of blackberries, we have black raspberries . . . .

From what I read, one of the easiest ways to tell the difference between the two is that when raspberries are picked, there is no stem/receptacle left inside the berry, but instead, they have a rounded hollow. They look like this . . .

Blackberries on the other hand, have a white receptacle still inside. Another difference is that the raspberry leaves have a silvery undercolor whereas the blackberry leaves are simply a pale green.

The first picking . . . and there are a bunch more ripe and ready to pick today

It's always fun to be able to harvest and use wild fruits right off of our land! And yesterday the above berries were turned into this raspberry crisp . . .

The crisp with goat milk ice cream that Leah made last night

This recipe was a new one, and I made a few alterations to it. The original can be found here, and here is my version . . .

Raspberry Crisp

  -- 4 cups fresh raspberries
    -- A bit less than 1/4 cup honey (I used our milder early spring honey)
    -- 1/3 cup plus 4 tablespoons whole wheat pastry flour, divided
    -- 3/4 cup quick-cooking oats
    -- a little less than 1/3 cup packed brown sugar
    -- 1/4 cup cold butter, cubed

    In a large bowl, gently toss raspberries with honey and 4 tablespoons flour. Transfer to a greased 9-in. square baking dish (I'm going to use an 8-in. next time.) In another large bowl, combine the oats, brown sugar and remaining flour; cut in butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Sprinkle over berries. Bake at 350° for 30 minutes or until golden brown. Enjoy!

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Snippets from June

June . . . the month when spring makes it exit and summer officially arrives. It's been a wonderful month so far full of the simple pleasures of the season . . .

-- Clean clothes hanging on the line and blowing in the breeze

-- An array of wildflowers blooming

-- The summer bird residents filling the air with their songs and catching bugs in our yard and garden

-- Beautiful evenings with crickets chirping, frogs singing, and brilliant stars lighting up the night-time sky

-- Cool mornings with everything heavy-laden with dew

-- A growing garden

I am so enjoying this time of year! Though it has been flying by a little faster than I would like. :)

Here's a little glimpse into some of what has been filling these busy June days . . .

Selling Goats

When we had advertised some of our goats back in May, all of them sold within a week except for Leah's last buckling (above). After re-photographing and re-listing him, he finally sold last week which was a relief!

I have one more doe that I am getting ready to sell now . . .

We have a fairly lengthy waiting list for our does so once we get her tattooed and she's ready to sell, hopefully she'll go quickly!

Soap Orders

I had a couple of bulk soap orders recently, and the one in the above photo was twenty-five Lavender Oatmeal bars that were going to be used as favors at a baby shower (hence why they are all individually tied with twine.) It was fun to make these and get them ready to go!

Making Cheese and Yogurt

When your refrigerator looks like this inside. . .

You know it's time to do something with milk!

So part of today found me in the kitchen turning 2 1/2 gallons of milk into yogurt, mozzarella cheese, and ricotta cheese.

Ricotta in process

And in between steps when I wasn't hanging laundry on the line, washing dishes or doing other various household tasks, I enjoyed some quiet time continuing to read through Job . . .

Harvesting Produce

Bottling and Labeling Honey for Farmer's Market

 (And for the curious, the brown on the labels is simply where I 'painted' over our address. :)

And last but certainly not least . . . 

Enjoying time with Friends . . . 

A number of years ago, a blog reader, Karen, sent me an e-mail and thus began an e-mail correspondence between us. And this month we were able to meet in person! She and most of her siblings were passing through Missouri with their Dad who was traveling on business, and while he was at a workshop, they were able to come visit.

We had a really enjoyable day together! It was filled with: encouraging conversations about anything from cheese making, to witnessing, to goat raising, to growing in Christ and more; going to a nearby trail and walking and enjoying the beautiful scenery; and playing music and singing together. Thank you all so much for coming!

Leah and Victoria on the trail

Swallow nests up on the bluffs

The very full Missouri River

All of us
(photo courtesy of a fence and my camera's self-timer. :) 

An interesting sight . . . trees growing directly out of the rock bluffs!

This father and daughter had been biking the trail, and we passed them twice while there and each time, they really enjoyed petting Kymber!

(except for me who was taking the photo.)

At our place visiting some of the goats

(It was so nice to finally meet you! And your siblings, too :)

 So that's some of what has been filling our month of June thus far!

Friday, June 13, 2014

A Garden Update

The garden is off to a great start this year! It's nearly all planted now with just two pole bean tepees left to plant around, as well as planting the winter squash and succession crops of lettuce. Last evening with having some evening sunlight for the first time in a while (my favorite lighting to photograph in), I went out and took some photos of what things are looking like now . . .

Pole beans - the tepee worked so well last year, that I made four of them this year.

Carrots, onions and potatoes. The carrots are doing really well so far, and it looks like we should have a lot to can!

Some of the onions.

Yellow Squash

Tomato plants freshly mulched (courtesy of my Mom - she's been busy mulching!) and there are beets planted down the middle of the rows. We tried this last year, and it worked really well. By the time the tomato plants are tall enough to be spreading into the beet rows, the beets are ready to be harvested!

Cucumber trellises (that have yet to have the twine put on them) with radishes growing underneath. The pole bean tepees are in the background, and two of those still need twine put on as well.

Some of the peppers

Look who I ended up scaring out of the garden :)

'Grandpa Admire's' lettuce . . . one of our favorites!

One of the few remaining cabbage plants. A couple of weeks after planting out the cauliflower, broccoli and cabbage plants, they began rapidly dying. After a bit of investigation, I discovered that the cause was Cabbage Root Maggots which we've never had before. Thankfully I was able to save some of the plants once I figured out the cause, but due to the little maggots, well over half of the plants died.

A bee on a Borage flower


The volunteer sunflower plants are just starting to form flower heads

Me weeding in the garden last week. 
(Leah had been out taking photos of Kymber so took this one as well.)

One of the photos of Kymber that Leah took . . . she's growing so fast!

The new strawberry patch is doing well!

We're starting to get some strawberries from the everbearers

Wild plums . . . a few more months and it will be time to make more wild plum jelly!

Two of the very few peaches growing this year. The late frost nearly wiped out the peach crop.

We have some apples this year!

Sadly we lost two of our apple trees including this one. We had a very strong wind storm go through recently, and this was one of the causalities. The graft area had been badly damaged in a hail storm we had a couple of years ago, and it must have been too weak to withstand the winds.

Blueberries . . . I see things like Blueberry Streusel Muffins being made in the not so distant future. :)

After not being able to do a lot with the garden last year other than the planting (due to the tick-borne illness), I am especially enjoying it this year and am looking forward to each part of the gardening process still to come . . . continuing to maintain, more planting, harvesting, and then preserving!

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Branson Trip Part 3 - The Conference

 Last year's conference had been so encouraging and edifying that I was very much looking forward to the one this year! Many of the speakers that were going to be there I was unfamiliar with, but some were ones who had been there the year before, and I was especially looking forward to hearing them speak again.

The conference began Friday evening and went through Sunday morning, and there were ten different speakers. Jesse Johnson's two sessions were some of my favorites of the weekend as both were excellent and powerful. He spoke so true to God’s Word, and one could feel his heart and compassion for those he was speaking to as well as his love and commitment to the Lord and His truth. 

 One of his sessions was on persecution and how Christ brought division. A couple of the things that he said that especially stood out to me were these: 

“When the gospel divides families, it proves how precious is the gospel”


persecution for your faith “glorifies God and magnifies the truth of the gospel.” 

Having undergone 'light' persecution before (though it doesn't really feel light when you are going through it!) and some more recently, what he shared really ministered to my heart exactly when I needed it. How good the Lord is! 

If we are persecuted for our faith, mocked, ridiculed, rejected, etc., it truly shows "how precious is the gospel". What's more, it shows how precious our Savior is! I had not thought of it in that light before, but it is very true. We love Him so much that whatever this world sends to us, while it may hurt and cause pain or sorrow, allegiance to the One who died for us and the One who adopted us is stronger. What's more, His strength and love is so strong that He can bear us up through these times.

Mike Gendren, another of my favorite speakers of the weekend, spoke on contending for the faith, apostasy, and much more. It was very good! Although sobering as well.

Here are some of the sections that were in the workbook sheets for his session . . .

Four steps into Apostasy - the departure from the faith occurs from a gradual erosion of biblical truth and practice over a period of time.

A. First step

1. God's Word is neglected as the supreme authority
2. Religious traditions cause confusion and divide loyalties.
3. Evangelism is corrupted by unbiblical methods.
4. The power and purity of the Gospel is compromised
5 People are given what they want instead of what they need

B. Second Step

 1. Scripture is twisted for man's self-serving agendas.
2. Biblical ignorance provides fertile soil for false teachers.
3. Satan sows tares with no resistance
4. God is honored with lips but hearts are far from Him.
5. Legalism and religious bondage trumps sound doctrine.
6. Worship is replaced by entertainment

C. Third Step

1. Religious Pride blinds people from the light of the Gospel.
2. Truth becomes subjective and hearts are hardened
3. Love for God grows cold
4. A form of godliness exists but it's void of the Gospel's power, the offense of the Gospel is removed
5. Biblical warnings to expose false teachers are ignored.
6. Doctrinal error is embraced and discernment is dying.
7. Sin and immoral lifestyles are tolerated.

As he taught and went through these different points, it was again very sobering . . . and sad. How far, how very far, the 'church' and Christianity as a whole have come from what the Lord designed and called it to be! All the more reason why we must "contend earnestly for the faith."

And how do we contend?

A. Use the authority of God's Word as your objective standard for truth and discernment

B. Speak the truth in love as you confront those who are in error

C. Never let a lie of the devil go unabated

D. Make sure your motivation is for the glory of God, the sanctity of His church and the purity of His Gospel.

E. Be bold, courageous and passionate in defense of the Gospel. 

Just like last year, he spoke so gently on a difficult topic, and one could sense his love for the truth and heart for those he was exhorting.

Dr. Henry Morris was another speaker I really enjoyed. He taught on ‘unlocking the mysteries of Genesis’ which was very good. It is always so interesting hearing more about science as it relates to the Bible!

Jimmy DeYoung spoke regarding the end times and while I agree with the basic timeline he gave (rapture before the tribulation, etc.), he made a lot of speculations as facts, saying that something ‘is’ when Scripture isn’t at all clear on it. I wrote down notes on some things that were questionable that I would like to investigate further at some point.

One speaker that I had looked forward to hearing was Usama Dakdok, but unfortunately I only heard the tail end of his talk on Sunday as some of our friends were heading home that morning in hopes of beating the severe storms that were on the way, and we were helping them load up. The bit I heard, though, was excellent! 

Some of the audience at the conference 
(photo from Laura)

Justin Peters shared about hermeneutics and how to study the Bible which had quite a few helpful things in it.

Brannon Howse spoke on “Twisted Scripture, Twisted Theology”, and I appreciated a lot of what he shared and especially in the first session. He examined and expounded on various passages of Scripture that are often taken out of context and then explained the true meaning of them.

One thing that I did notice as he spoke which was disheartening to me, was to have confirmed that he is indeed moving towards Calvinism. I had noticed prior to the conference through various posts, etc. that he has done that he appeared to be leaning that way. Now after listening to him speak, as well as hearing his praise of some of the other speakers who taught Calvinistic doctrines during the conference, it appears that he has become a Calvinist, though seems to still want to be on both sides of the fence so to speak.

As the conference progressed, there seemed to be an underlying theme of Calvinism. Many of the speakers were Calvinist, some openly taught Calvinism while others alluded to it. Beyond that, the tone of several of the sessions just seemed different . . . I am not sure how to say this gently, but there seemed to be an arrogance about several of the speakers as they taught. There was also a fair bit of irreverent humor by some of them, and with at least one of the speakers, I did not sense a true love for the Lord and heart for His Word as he taught.

By the time the weekend was coming to an end, all of us were feeling a little disappointed as the teaching and atmosphere of the conference was different from what we had so enjoyed and been blessed by the year before. Yet even with that, the Lord used the weekend to encourage us in many ways and all of us left edified in the Lord and thankful for many of the speakers we were able to hear!

And one of the sessions left a lasting impression on all of us . . . Michael Furchert gave his amazing and very powerful testimony of first his grandparents during Nazi Germany and then his growing up behind The Berlin Wall. We all sat captivated as he passionately spoke from his heart . . .

It was sobering, and very convicting, to hear how as a little seven year old boy, he stood strong in his faith even amidst ostracism and persecution. And how his strong faith, willingness to be persecuted for his faith and to follow the Lord regardless of the cost, continued through all of his growing up years to the present. I wish you all could have heard him speak! It was an incredible testimony.

Sprinkled in between sessions were enjoayble times spent with many friends who were able to go to the conference. I also had opportunity to meet a family that I had 'met' online yet had not met in person before so that was really nice!

Saturday afternoon was the time we spent the most together with friends as there was a four hour break between sessions so we all met at a pizza place and spent several hours there.

Some of our group
(photo from Laura) 

Sunday morning those of us who had stayed in the same hotel were able to enjoy some time together and had such good and edifying conversations about a wide variety of topics, from the conference, to relationships, to growing in Christ, and much more.

Emily, Valencia and I talking with Mrs. Baker . . . it was so nice to visit with her and learn from her!
(photo from Laura)

All of us
(photo from Laura)

Leah and Emily
(photo from Laura) 

Everyone else headed home either that morning or in the afternoon after the conference, but Leah and I ended up staying an extra day as the direction we would be headed to get home was right into some of the severe storms. In the quiet of our hotel room, we enjoyed talking about the past several days, visiting with our parents on the phone, and finally catching up a bit on sleep. :) The next morning we were up early, loaded up the car, and headed home . . .

Fog rising up from the trees near Branson

The rolling, tree covered hills of southern Missouri

And thus concluded our wonderful time in Branson!