What uncommon things do we want to become common?

Things like:
our children having mutual love and respect for each other.
our teenage children having love, honor, respect and obedience for their parents.
us continually becoming better friends and lovers.
our family totally trusting God in all things and putting our faith in Him to fulfill his promises.

Saturday, April 30, 2011


by: Creg

What I've Overcome
by Fireflight

I've got this passion
It's something I can't describe
It's so electric
It's like I've just come alive

I feel this freedom
Now that my past is erased
I feel the healing
I've found the meaning of grace

If only you could see me yesterday
Who I used to be before the change
You'd see a broken heart
You'd see the battle scars

Funny how words can't explain
How good it feels to finally break the chains
I'm not what I have done
I'm what I've overcome

I know I'll stumble
I know I'll still face defeat
These second chances will define me

So I'm moving forward
I'm standing on my two feet
I've got momentum
I've got someone saving me

I make mistakes and I might fall
But I won't break
I've got someone saving me

What do you do when Satan steals your childhood? Break the chains, move forward, overcome? That's easy to say. I have 3 friends who can show you.

Jason was 11 when his mom sent him to the boys ranch. At the age of 29 he was sent to prison for the 1st of 3 times. While in prison he was baptized. After his release he lived with us for several months. Now he's in the process of buying 2 homes to use as recovery houses “to the Glory of God.”

Loyd's brother got him high for the first time when Lloyd was 9. When he was 17 he spent 2 years in prison because of drugs. Upon making parole he became a traveling chef for rock groups on the road. He cooked for KISS, Ted Nugent, VanHalen & Pantera. After 35 yrs of consistent drug use his sister tied him to a bed for 2 weeks to get him sober. He's been clean for 7 years now. When a friend at a narcotics anonymous meeting dared him to go to church, he ended up at Hope. He was baptized after a Tuesday bible study and is a faithful member of God's Kingdom.

When Misty was 7 years old she & a friend started cutting themselves. At 10 she was taken to a children's home. Two years later she was sent to a juvenile detention center. For the next 5 years she was an inmate at the Texas Youth Commission. Twice she violated parole for attempted drug overdose. She was finally released when she was 18. That's when we met her. After almost a year of attending worship at Hope and going to Chelsa's bible study she was born again. (That's her in the picture with Chelsa)

Jesus loves stories with a great ending. In fact he's the reason for the great ending.

With friends like these, there's no such thing as an enemy.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Garlic Oil... to the Rescue? Part 3

By: Chelsa

Okay. This is my final post on Garlic Oil...for the moment. I wanted to give one more testimony on it's healing abilities. Garlic oil did wonders on our kitten and horse, but how does it work on people? I have firsthand personal evidence that it works great and I actually have pictures to prove it.

Two and a half weeks ago, our youngest son Steele got a whopper of a bug bite on his lower leg. He didn't tell me about it for a couple of days, but when he began complaining about it, I told him I wanted to take a look. He told me he thought he got an ant bite. Boy was I shocked to see how huge, swollen and infected it was. This couldn't be an ant bite, could it?

I decided to put my trusty garlic oil to the test once again to see if it would work. Could it heal spider bites, if that is what it was? I've seen awful pictures of what spider bites can do to people and I didn't want that to happen to Steele.

I grabbed my golden jar of healing goodness and began to spread the strong smelling oil on the actual bite as well as the swollen infected area around it, since the oil is absorbed into the skin. Not only that, but I wrapped his leg with gauze and saturated it with the garlic oil too, so the wound would be in constant contact with the healing oil.

As you can see in the pictures, I began treating his bite on April 11th. The redness in the middle and the large egg shaped lump on the side of his leg are obvious. But if you look at the last picture, it is taken the next day on the 12th. Notice all the redness is gone and much of the swelling. I didn't take anymore pictures after that because his leg was back to normal by the 3rd day.

I don't know about you, but I'm a firm believer in the healing abilities of garlic oil. What a simple and inexpensive way to save the day!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Garlic Oil... to the Rescue? Part 2

By: Chelsa

If the last post on the powers of garlic oil didn't convince you, I have another true story to tell about it. This one happened last fall, a couple of months after Samantha got her horse Roman. One day he was out in the pasture with the chickens and he must have punctured his leg on the metal corner of their portable chicken house. Samantha came to me a couple of/few days after it happened and said that Roman's leg was swollen. I wish I would have taken a picture of it because it literally was swollen to twice its size. It scared me. I knew there was an infection in it because his leg felt warm and there was yellow pus oozing out of the hole.
Not spending money for a vet on a farm cat isn't that big of a deal, but not taking the horse is a different story. He's worth a lot. You shouldn't play around with horse health issues So, the question is...do I trust my little inexpensive bottle of garlic oil I made that healed the kitten to fix this big problem? Or do I spend the money to take him to the experienced veterinarian who can save his leg? Hmmm....

I thought long and hard about that one, and I almost caved in to take him to the vet. But in the end I decided to try my way first. If he wasn't better in 2-3 days I would take him to the expert. Amazingly, the garlic oil worked! Several times a day I would spray the wound/ hole with the water hose on jet for 5-10 minutes. Then I would smother the entire swollen part with garlic oil. After 2 days you could see a noticeable difference in the size of the leg. By the end of the week his leg was back to normal size and the infection was gone.

I am so thankful we have doctors we can turn to when we need help. But I'm also thankful to God that he has given us powerful things he's created, like garlic, to help us fix some pretty big problems ourselves.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Our Earth Oven

By: Chelsa
We finally finished building our new and improved earth oven a couple of months ago. We tore down the old one and recycled it to make this one. To improve it, we added a brick arch and made the diameter 4 inches bigger. I'm glad we did since we are using it so much on our Farm Days. The arch is much stronger than the clay and protects the oven from accidental bangs with the pizza paddles or pokes from sticks of wood while adding fuel to the fire. I really like the larger size because of the amount of people we're cooking for. Sometimes I need to cook 45 small personal pizzas in it for our guests so I'm thankful for the extra space. We can easily cook 15-20 pizzas at a time or more if we work fast enough. We have to get those pizzas out quick because they're done in 3 minutes! The oven is well over 700*F!

Let me just say...I LOVE THIS OVEN!!! Not only does it work great, but we don't have to heat up the house on hot days. If we plan it right, we can use the oven for all of our meals on one firing. We usually build a fire in it early in the morning and keep it burning for 2-3 hours. The tremendous heat given off by the fire soaks into the oven walls and is stored there. I'm not quite sure how hot it actually gets with the fire going, but after we shovel out all the coals, sweep and mop the oven floor, stick an oven thermometer inside and close the door for 5-10 minutes, the measuring hand in the thermometer is WAY past highest reading of 600*F. I've heard some say it can get up to 750*F. Whatever it is doesn't really matter to me. All I know is that we can cook pitas or pizzas in there in about 3 minutes! And it's perfectly baked pizza too...nice crispy crust on the outside, soft and tender bread on the inside. Mmm Mmm! It also bakes THE BEST bread. What makes it so wonderful to cook in is the fact that it uses all 3 types of heat energy: conductive heat, convection heat, and radiant heat. This causes everything in the oven to cook evenly, which is fantastic! So I can cook several things at a time in my big and roomy oven and I don't have to worry about hot or cool spots. Fancy, expensive high tech kitchen ovens just can't beat that because they only use the first 2 types of heat energy. Not only does the oven cook evenly, but it retains its heat for a long time. If sealed properly, the oven can stay hot all day, all night, and can even be used the next morning (it can easily be over 250* F). It can do this because of the thick layer of insulation surrounding the oven walls and floor.

You might be wondering why or how we decided to build one of these. Well, ever since we first moved out to the country in 2004, I had wanted to build some sort of outdoor oven contraption to use during the summer months so we wouldn't heat up the house cooking meals. I didn't quite know what I wanted it to look like or how to build it even, but I thought we could use our leftover bricks (from building our house) to construct it. We even poured a concrete slab in the back yard for it to sit on. I had lots of ideas and plans drawn out on paper. And I was about ready to begin the project when I thought that maybe I should look on the internet to see if there were any better ideas out there. And that's when I found what I was looking for... beautiful pictures of dome shaped earthen ovens. I read about them and decided that was what I wanted. Something made from our land, from our own soil. Something simple yet beautiful. Something useful as well as inexpensive to make. That's my kind of project!

***The concrete slab we poured for the oven and the leftover bricks from our house are now being used to make a brick grill/smoker directly across from the earth oven. We're in the middle of that project now. I'm really excited about that too!

Here are some pictures of the building process from start to finish.

The foundation has glass bottles imbedded in sawdust and clay for insulation. This keeps the heat from escaping through the floor.

We put a brick form around the outside so we could pack the oven mix on top of the bottles.

Here is Sierra shoveling the oven clay mix. It is 4 parts sand to 1 part clay with some water added to make it stick together.
The oven mix is about 3" thick.

Here I am sifting sand onto the now dry clay mix. It needs to be about a 1/2" thick and level.

Here's the layout I drew of the firebrick floor. It's kind of tricky to get it just right.

The bricks need to slide down slowly and rub the brick next to it to get a tight fit.

Once the bricks are in place, don't wiggle them. If they aren't level tap them down gently with a rubber mallet. They need to be completely smooth and level. Rub your fingers on them to make sure there are no high or low spots.

Next I found the middle and marked it with a pencil. Then I traced the diameter of the oven with the pencil and then later with a permanent marker so I could see it well.

Now I'm deciding on the shape and size I want the brick arch to be and tracing it on cardboard. You don't want the door to be too big because it will let out too much heat. But if it's too small you can't fit cookie sheets and large pots. I measured all of my biggest pans before I drew this out. The kitties enjoyed helping me with this part of the project.

Next, Creg made a wooden form for the brick arch. You need to make it an 1/8" too short so you can fit wooden shims under it. You pull those out after the arch is finished so the form can come out.

I found some rocks to wedge between the bricks. They stay in there even after the clay/sand mortar is filled in. Be careful not to dislodge the rocks.

Now I'm stuffing in the mortar and packing it tightly with the back of an old spoon.

Now it's time to make the sand form. This determines the shape of the oven walls. You want the first 4" to be built straight up, then you can start curving the sand to make an egg shape. This is where you follow the marker drawing on the brick floor. Pack it hard and tight. The sand needs to be damp, but not too wet. The shape needs to look right. Back away from it and look at it from all sides to see that it has a nice shape.
After its packed tight with your hands, use a 2x4 or 2x6 to smooth it out. Rock it back and forth checking the shape often. Be careful not to hit the brick arch. I did and it messed up my arch. Grrr!!! It needs to be repaired now because the middle bricks are loose and sagging.

After its all nice and smooth and beautiful, cover it with a couple of layers of wet newspaper. Tear the paper into strips so there are no wrinkles. ***We forgot this step on the first oven we built and that's why we are redoing it. If you forget this step, you can't tell where to stop when you dig out the sand after the oven walls are built. I dug into some of the oven walls and it caused it to crumble onto our food. When the big chunks started falling we had to tear it down and start over.

Now the kids are mixing the clay and water. This is the fun part....getting DIRTY!!!
The sand is already measured out on the tarp and Sterling is shoveling the clay soup onto it. (See baby Skye helping!) This is the mixture for the oven walls. 4 parts sand/ 1 part clay/ enough water to make a stiff mixture.
The best way to mix this stuff is to dance on top of it for a while, roll it over by pulling the tarp, and then jumping on it some more. Keep on doing this until it is well mixed. **Tip...the more the merrier! And the easier it is to pull the tarp.
You don't want this mixture to be too wet. If it is, it won't pack well. The bottom part will ooze out because it's not stiff enough to withstand the weight of the top part.

Creg and I are building the oven walls. You have to be careful not to push on the sand form. We put the oven wall mixture on about 4" thick and packed it firmly against itself, not against the sand. Because of the wind, we had to put an old sheet on top of the newspaper to keep it in place.

Here we have finished the oven walls by hand. Now it needs to be packed firm with the 2x4 and smoothed by rocking it back and forth. Stop when the shape looks right. In hard to reach places like the bottom and around the brick arch use the back of a spoon to smooth. When finished it should look as smooth as the sand form did.

If the walls are quite stiff and firm, its time to dig out the sand form. Do a little at a time making sure the walls won't collapse. And be careful when you get to the ends. Don't poke the oven walls or dig too deeply. After all the sand is out you can remove the newspaper or just let it burn out later. I wanted to smooth the inside of the walls with the back of a spoon, so we pulled out the newspaper. Our oven is quite a bit bigger than last time and I didn't have to crawl inside that one. But here I am squirming like a worm to get inside. That was a weird feeling! If you are scared of tight spaces, don't try this!!! The entrance was so small I had to wiggle just a certain way to make it inside. It was quite awkward. I put a lamp inside with me so I could see what I was doing.

Now we are slowly drying out the oven walls by building a series of small fires. See how pretty the brick arch looks. It doesn't have any black soot on it yet.

Wait until that layer dries some before adding the next layer which is the insulation layer. It is made of clay soup (clay and water) and sawdust. This layer is 4-6" thick and it allows the oven to hold its heat much longer than if it wasn't there. It works so well, that you can touch the top of the oven when it's well over 800*F and it barely feels warm to the touch. My oven will be over 250*F 24 hours after a firing if I keep the door sealed shut. Here we are packing the insulation on. This layer doesn't need to be packed tight. You want it to be a little loose since its insulation. Supposedly the sawdust eventually burns out and leaves little air pockets where the sawdust once was.

After this layer is finished you can add a third layer which is like the oven mix layer. This is the layer you can decorate to make your oven look pretty. I don't have any pictures of us working on this layer.

If you want complete directions on how to build an earth oven, read Kiko Denzer's book BUILD YOUR OWN EARTH OVEN. That is where I got all of my information. He gives step by step directions.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Garlic Oil... to the Rescue?

By: Chelsa

What do you picture when I say garlic oil? Italian food? Things like pizza crusts, bread sticks, and spaghetti sauce. Garlic is one of my favorite spices for food. I love how it tastes and I love how it smells. But did you know that garlic has powerful antibiotic properties as well? I mean really powerful. A few years ago, kind of by accident, I discovered the benefits of using garlic oil on skin infections, ear aches, spider bites and even staph infections. I was very skeptical at first. I mean, how could garlic save a life? But I just kept reading testimonies from trustworthy people I know on the healing properties of garlic. Their stories peaked my interest and I've been researching and experimenting with medicinal herbs for a couple of years now. And I want to share one of my experiences here.

The first time I experienced the healing power of garlic was on one of our kittens a couple of years ago. (If you are squeemish, you might want to skip this paragraph) Samantha informed me that her kitty, Paint Kitty Phillip, had a big bump on its back. I went outside on the back porch to check it out and saw the huge lump, the size of a golf ball on her small back. The kitten looked weak and sick. She didn't run or play like the others and she wasn't eating well. She just laid there limp. At first glance I thought it must be a tumor of some sort. But as I got a closer look I found that it was some sort of infection; maybe a mesquite thorn poked her or another cat bit her and it got infected. I found the scab, picked it off, and squeezed the lump ever so slightly. Large amounts of green pus came pouring out of the hole. It was nasty. I continued to squeeze until it emptied out completely. Then I tried to find a thorn or some other object that might be inside, but there was none.

The next day the lump had grown back full size and I attempted the same thing again to no avail. The same thing happened the third day. The kitty was sick and she wasn't getting any better. I really thought she was going to die because the infection was so big compared to her small body. The kids wanted to pool their money and take her to the vet, but because of the high number of farm cats at our place I said "No, I'll do a little research on the internet and see what I can find out." That's when I remembered GOURMET GARLIC GARDENS on my favorites. I had read something there about the healing powers of garlic (the man had a staph infection on his thumb and treated it with garlic and the infection went away). After reading about that I decided to give it a try on kitty, it certainly couldn't hurt. So I followed his directions for making garlic oil.
  • Finely chop 5-6 cloves of garlic
  • Let it sit on the cutting board for 11 minutes (time is important because chemical changes are taking place in the opened garlic)
  • Then put the chopped garlic in a small glass jar and add 1/4 cup slightly warm olive oil
  • Stir and leave it in the oil all day
  • Strain out the garlic and use the oil
  • Store the oil in a glass jar with a lid (it will smell very garlicky)
  • Rub on infected area several times a day
Thankfully the kitties lump was between her shoulder blades, so it was extremely hard for her to mess with it. But mother cat had no trouble licking the garlic oil off of her baby, so we quarantined kitty to the red shed. I got the hair clippers, shaved the fur where the lump was, squeezed out the pus, and drenched the spot with the freshly made garlic oil. I repeated this every couple of hours that day. The next morning the lump was half its normal size! I couldn't believe this stuff was really working! It's just garlic, for cryin' out loud! So I squeezed the pus out again and applied the oil again several times that second day. By the next morning, day 3, the lump was completely flat. I couldn't squeeze out any pus because there wasn't any! Not only that, but the kitty began to get an appetite and feel better. By the end of the week all signs of weakness or infection were completely gone. The kitty ran and played with all its brothers and sisters again. I was amazed!!! And excited!!! Ever since that day, I have kept a jar of garlic oil on hand in the medicine cabinet.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Milk Fever!

By: Chelsa
Something was very wrong today. Our milk goat was not in her usual place. It was time to milk her but Samantha could hardly get her to come. She was shaky, wobbly, and wouldn't eat or drink. She just wanted to lay down. Ever since she had her babies she has been super difficult to milk. Creg had to rig up a sling that attached to the ceiling to hold her up while milking because she wouldn't hold still and would try to lie down while we were milking her. I noticed that her milk production was going down instead of up. This was not normal. Last year we didn't have this problem at all. She was easy to milk. She wanted to be milked because she was so full.

After we finished milking her and she laid down in the grass, I ran to the house to get my book, Storey's Guide to Raising Dairy Goats, to see if I could figure out what was wrong. As I skimmed the chapter on health, I came to something that caught my attention. MILK FEVER- symptoms of milk fever include anxiety, uncontrolled movements, staggering, collapse, and DEATH. Usually occurs within 48 hours after kidding.

That sounded like what she had since it had been almost exactly 48 hours since she gave birth and she was staggering and acting odd. The book said it requires immediate care from a vet who must give the goat calcium borogluconate intravenously or the goat will die. So I called my friend Sara for advice on what to do. She told me their family had lost a goat to Milk Fever when she was a child. It was dead the next morning. She suggested to get her to a vet as soon as possible. Of course this happens on a Friday night, after hours, and Creg and Sierra and Sterling are gone on business. It's getting dark and all of our animals still need to be put up. So I tell Samantha and Steele to quickly put up the chickens, sheep, and goats; grab a snack and get in the truck. I call the vet for directions to his place in Clyde and somehow heave the helpless goat into the back seat of the truck.

When we got there she was worse. I hoped this expensive trip wouldn't be in vain. Earlier when I talked to the vet on the phone he thought she might have toxemia instead, which would take months to recover from and even then, he said she only had a 50% chance of survival. And if she had toxemia, more than likely, we would have no milk this year so we would have to find a different nanny goat or buy some milk for the babies. I was rooting for the milk fever because that was easy to correct.

The i.v. the vet gave Milkshake did wonders for her. Within 10 minutes she was not shaky anymore and started acting like her old self, being nosy and getting into things. And her appetite came back and she began eating the alfalfa we brought with us. It was amazing how quickly she recovered. I'm so thankful it was something easily treatable. And I'm thankful we still have raw milk to drink and I'm thankful Milkshake is going to be okay.

This was a stiff reminder to me to keep a closer watch on our animals, especially when pregnant, to make sure they are getting the nutrients they need. Milk Fever is caused by a drastic drop in blood calcium and can be prevented by proper nutrition weeks before delivery. If we had been more attentive to her food intake, this probably wouldn't have happened. I hate learning things the hard way, but I'm thankful for the second chance.

P.S. It's 2 weeks later and she's doing fine. We haven't had to use the sling on her while milking because she is hungry and gobbles down her food as we work. And she is producing on average about a cup more milk per milking than she did last year. Yay!!! We're getting about 5 1/3- 5 1/2 cups of milk each time.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Peaches and Cream

By Chelsa
We just missed the birth! Milkshake, our family milk goat, had her babies today. Samantha and I knew she would have them today or tomorrow. Our friend Sara Dantzler, the goat expert, showed us a way to tell when the babies are due. If you squeeze the top of her tail usually your fingers can't touch, but if they can touch underneath, then she is within 24 hours of delivery. Samantha noticed her milk bag was quite large so we squeezed her tail. And sure enough our fingers touched. We separated Milkshake from the other goats and put her in the corral where she could have some peace and quiet. Samantha went out to check on her every 30 minutes or so to see if there were any babies. Of course the one time she waited almost an hour was when she had them. Samantha discovered them first and yelled for us to come and see. They are sooo cute!!! She decided to name them Peaches and Cream.

After Milkshake licked them clean we took the babies away. Since we want to use the milk for our own use too, we don't let the babies nurse. We keep them in a separate pen away from Milkshake until they are weaned, about 3 months. But we do milk the goat twice a day and pour her milk into baby bottles and feed it to Peaches and Cream. After the 3 months are up, we can put the babies in the pasture with Milkshake confident that our milk is safe. They will not nurse her because they don't know where it comes from.

When we milked her for the first time her milk looked like lemon pudding. It was so weird to watch it come out so thick and yellow. That was the colostrum that is so good for the babies to drink to keep them healthy.

Bottle feeding the babies is so much fun and it makes the baby goats super tame and gentle. They follow us around like puppies. Baby goats are about the cutest thing ever....until they grow up. Then you wonder why you ever got goats in the first place. Hopefully this year our fences will keep them out of my flower beds, grape vines, and garden.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Joel Salatin in ABILENE!!!

By: Chelsa
We had a really nice surprise this week. Our biggest farming inspiration, Joel Salatin, came to ACU to speak at Moody Coliseum on Thursday. He is America's most well known farmer. He's written several books, been interviewed on national tv and his farm has been shown in several documentaries such as Fresh and Food Inc. Many of our farming practices have been shaped by his example. His followers call him the "High Priest of Pasture."

The reason he came to ACU was because of a new Locavore Club that has been started on campus. "Locavore" means eating locally grown food. They invited him to come and speak to help jump start their movement. They had a food fair on Thursday which also included a farmer's market in Moody 30 minutes before and after his presentation that evening.

(Pictures from the Farmer's Market in Moody Coliseum are courtesy of Kristy Fowler)

Our surprise all started when Alisha Sneed, a friend from church, asked if their Locavore Club could come out to take a tour of our farm and get a bread making demonstration. So they came last Thursday, toured, broke bread with us, and learned about our way of life out here. They sampled my homemade herbal skin salve & lip balm, drank our Kombucha tea & herbal medicine tinctures I had made, and got an earful of what we've been learning out here on the farm. While they were here they mentioned that Joel Salatin was coming to speak at ACU and there would be a farmer's market before and after his talk. Creg was visiting with the president of the Locavore club, Matthew Hale, and asked what farmers would be there. He said, "You can have a booth if you want one." Yippee. We decided to take everything we had. Eggs, wild plum jelly, sourdough bread, pitas, Kombucha tea, lip balm and skin salve. We also made information sheets to handout about our farm and the products we sell. The turnout was amazing. In the first 30 minutes we almost ran out of information sheets. I called my mom to come by and make more copies while we listened to his talk. After getting a pep talk on eating healthy and local the crowd was ready to pounce, and before long our table was almost empty. We sold out of bread, pitas, jelly and Kombucha tea (Creg was giving free samples out of communion cups and many were impressed that ours tasted better than what they sell at the health food store for twice the price). We also got a lot of contact information from some who want eggs, bread & tea on a regular basis.

We all had a blast working together. Sierra was keeping a tally of what we sold. Sterling and Samantha were putting the items in bags. Steele was helping make change for the customers. Creg & I were talking to the customers & explaining our products. It was a whirlwind of fun.

After we returned home that night, I told Creg that I couldn't stop smiling. I was so happy that our farmer hero came to town and inspired, encouraged and energized me to want to educate people and share with them about a few of the reasons why we have chosen this lifestyle.