Thursday, November 26, 2015

The Blessings and the One who Blesses

Here at Hoosier Country Christian / Hoosier Country Home we have so much for which we are thankful.  We will celebrate the day like most, I suppose, sharing the day and a meal with family and friends.  There will be brothers, sisters, in-laws, in-laws to be, friends, children, nieces, nephews, grandchildren, grandnieces and grandnephews.  Our family Thanksgiving gatherings have always been a place where those among us who have no family near can come and be welcomed, and we have been richly blessed with their company.  There will be talk of family, Church, community, and world goings on.  There will be games, noise, running indoors, shooing outdoors, and lots of laughter.  And there will be prayer.  One more way in which we are blessed is that we have an extended family that not only counts our blessings, but recognizes our most cherished blessings come in proportion to our relationship to the One who blesses.

And thus God has always intended it to be.   Before His chosen people would enter the Promised Land, God instructed them of the connection there would be between the blessings He would send and their relationship to Him. 

Dt.8:6 (NIV) Observe the commands of the Lord your God, walking in obedience to him and revering him. For the Lord your God is bringing you into a good land—a land with brooks, streams, and deep springs gushing out into the valleys and hills; a land with wheat and barley, vines and fig trees, pomegranates, olive oil and honey; a land where bread will not be scarce and you will lack nothing; a land where the rocks are iron and you can dig copper out of the hills. 10 When you have eaten and are satisfied, praise the Lord your God for the good land he has given you. 11 Be careful that you do not forget the Lord your God, failing to observe his commands, his laws and his decrees that I am giving you this day. 12 Otherwise, when you eat and are satisfied, when you build fine houses and settle down, 13 and when your herds and flocks grow large and your silver and gold increase and all you have is multiplied, 14 then your heart will become proud and you will forget the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. 

Many generations, and a virgin birth, a cross, and an empty tomb later, the Apostle Paul reiterated the connection and plainly set into words what a right relationship with Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord looks like, and how is it reflected in our relationship with those around us. 

Col:3:12 (NIV) Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. 15 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. 16 Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. 17 And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. 

So today and every day enjoy that with which you have been blessed.  Count your blessings, thank the One who blesses, and strive to live today and every day like you are truly are grateful for all of it.  We are blessed! 

Col. 1:9-12, 


Monday, November 23, 2015

Chicken Coop Improvements

With winter settling in, pretty much on time, it was time make sure the birds are going to have open water all winter long.  Last year we ran an extension cord down to the coop to power the heater in the heated dog bowl we used.  It worked out pretty well right to the end of the winter where the cold and wet took advantage a nick in the insulation and roasted a 1/2 inch of cord.  This year we wanted to improve on that a bit.  We liked the dog bowl, but wanted something better than the rolled out extension cords we used last year.

 I put together sort of an interim solution:  I purchased a 150 foot (something like 47 meters) of 12/2 (with ground) direct burial electrical cord and cut it to the 120 or so feet I needed.  On one end I put a plug that goes into an outside outlet on the house, on the other went a standard electrical box.  I wired the box so that one outlet is always on and the other is switched with a lighted switch (so you can find the switch in the dark). 

Standard metal box with 'ears' for nailing to a wall stud.

 Right now the line is out on top of the ground (the snow, actually) whenever the snow melts I'll tuck it down in the soil.  It doesn't need to be deep, but it does need to be out of the way of the mower and any digging projects you are even considering doing.  I may directly wire the 'source' end into the house wiring when I either determine I'm not violating any codes or that it's truly safe to do so either way.

The path up to the outlet on the house
Into the bottom, "always on" outlet I plugged the dog bowl.  This provides sufficient heat, even on the coldest days to keep the water open for the birds.

The cord runs right up to the outlet.

As a side note, the new feeders we put in have proven to be almost waste free!

In the switched outlet, I plugged in a set of white outdoor Christmas tree lights I bought after Christmas last year, just for this purpose.  I put fencing staples where I wanted to string the lights, then tie-wrapped the lights to the staple.  This will make them easy to replace when the time comes.

Lights plugged into the switched outlet

Run over the top of the door to where the birds are.
And run around the inside of the coop roofing.
De and I like this arrangement so far.  It's not painfully bright, but there is enough light there to count the birds and make sure all is well before closing up the coop for the night.  We haven't decided yet as to whether we would consider putting the lights on a timer to try a coax a few more eggs out of the girls during the short days of winter.

The other improvement we made was to add another bit of roost.  When I trimmed down a couple of existing branches to make it easier to get in and out of the chicken's area, I reduced the amount of available perch space forcing some of the lower order birds to roost on the perch outside the nesting boxes.   After adding the new bit of perch space, they seem to slowly be working everyone back into the main perch.

They find the flash I used rather disconcerting.  This was before we added the lights.

 In any case, there it is.  Improvements seems to come in baby steps on the Hoosier Country Homestead, but they do come!

Col. 1:9-12,


It's heeereee!

In the spirit of better late than never, I finally got the mower deck out from under my little tractor and got the snow blade on.  Since the weather service was calling for snow (they were right) I could procrastinate no longer. 

Once I got the 3-point hitch blade on, I had one of those (very) rare moments of inspiration.  When I did the last mowing, I intentionally did it so to have my lawn clippings in what amounts to windrows.  Since I see my most of my lawn as a pasture with no critters, it pretty much never looks neat and manicured.  It usually looks like, well, a pasture with no critters.  That means lawn clippings are between 6 and 12 inches instead of the usual '1 inch off the top to keep it even' some of the neighbors who choose a suburb-in-the-country lifestyle.

My intention was to mow it into rows, then pitchfork it into my truck then onto the garden or mulch pile.
Here are my "windrows" ready to be moved into a mulch pile or the garden.

 My brain-flurry (not enough to be a brain-storm) was to use the back of blade to turn the windrows into mulch piles, that will make it much easier to pitch into the truck.
A short blade means multiple passes.
This pile is about 1/2 leaves.  The other four are the same size and mostly grass.
This method scuffs up the grass a bit and still leaves tufts behind.
 It turns out I got this done just in time.  I did this work on a Friday evening.

This is Saturday morning

This is Saturday afternoon!  We ended up with about 8 inches of the white stuff.

What a difference a day can make!!  In any case, all that good stuff is there and ready to be moved.  When ever I can get to it....

Col 1:9-12,


Very Last of the Garden

Ok - It's done.  We'll aaallmmmooossst done.  (I'll get to that in a moment.)
We've had a couple of good frosts and a freeze, so it was time to bring in the last of the last.

We left green beans on the plants to dry down.  It was about as dry as it was going to get, so it was time to bring them in.
Dried beans on the trestle ready to bring in.

The day before we picked them one of our NE Indiana fall winds came up and dumped one of the four trestles over.  It did not take the local opportunist long to figure out this amounted to a 'windfall' for them.  Had I left them down another day, the yield would have been dramatically reduced.  We got about a 5 gallon bucket full of unshelled pods.  We're holding off shelling them until the grandkids get here for Thanksgiving later this week.  They love to shell beans and peas.  I'll get pics.
Didn't take long for the 'chicken helpers' to locate a new treat.

They seemed to be a bit put out when set them up and started to do my own harvesting.

The other 'last of the last' harvests were:

Brussel Sprouts.  A couple of good frosts and even a light freeze really sweeten up brussel sprouts and they get to be just excellent.  We find folks who normally turn their nose up a 'sprouts' find them to be OK, if you pick them after a freeze.  Confession time:  I have three more of these plants out there to harvest, so they will be the last of the last of the last.  (I can't believe I wrote that....)

And Horseradish.  I didn't take a lot out, but there should be plenty once it's processed, since I'm the only one in the house who really like it.

I'll do a post on the processing in the near future.

So I guess I can call the 2015 harvest done!  Once again, God provided an amazing bounty.  And to make it even better, the first of the seed catalogs arrived in the mail!  Woo Hoo!

We are Blessed!

Col. 1:1-12,


Sunday, November 8, 2015

Guess I don't think like a chicken

When we built the coop, we made sure we had plenty of good nest boxes and yet, for some reason, there are apparently shortcomings in the eyes of some of the girls.  I try to keep by barn closed once the barn swallows have moved out but I do have to get in there once in awhile and, when I do, the mob moves in right on my heals.

 And when they do, at least one of the girls heads straight to a shelf: The shelf where I keep my chainsaw.

As you can see, they've knocked over several bottles and such to make the corner more cozy.  When they sit facing out, mostly they just sit awhile then move on.  However if they get up,

 Turn themselves around,

 And sit with their backside out,

 You need to come back later.

 I'm not sure why the chainsaw shelf is better than a laying box, but I guess I don't think like a chicken!

Col. 1:9-12,