Monday, January 8, 2018

Gardening “How To” Series- Grow Lights

Last year we started a YouTube channel to show the progress of our seed starting and garden.  Summer quickly got away from us, so not much material was uploaded however somewhere in the mix of videos we decided to do a “How To” series based on several questions we had received from other social media sites.

One question was on our grow light system.  I cannot take credit for this set up, but please feel free to share if you like what you see!  I’ll let the video do most of the talking, but here is a materials list to help you get started:

1- 4 foot shop light (we purchase the cheap ones from Lowes that take the T-8 style bulbs)

2- 4 foot bulbs, pay attention to lumens (stay around 3000) and the Kelvin scale (around 6500K)

1 1/4” PVC Pipe: 1-50” top rail, 4-6” base pieces, sets of 2 pieces cut a different lengths for the height of your set up off of your plants

1 1/4” PVC Pipe fittings: 2-90 degree elbows, 2- Tee fittings, 4- end caps

In the video you can see how I cut the upright lengths and how to assemble the entire set up:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KHdDXmYl-fY&t=132s

Friday, January 5, 2018

Dreaming of Warmer Days

So it’s the first Friday night of January and I’m thumbing through the latest Stark Brother’s Nursery catalog.  Our strawberry plants were overgrown and worn out, so we decided late fall to redo the beds but ran out of time to get new starts in before winter set it.  So now it has been pushed back to a spring project and that means no strawberries for next summer.  And that really stinks.

We began planting fruit trees, blackberries, strawberries, and blueberries a few years back.  We’ve had decent success with our peach trees, but little to no success with apple trees.. mostly thanks to a neighboring red cedar tree.  Our blackberries do tremendous even though I over prune them every spring.  Our blueberries need work on the other hand.  Their pretty picky and we dont give them the attention they need. 

I’ve also been thumbing through our vegetable seed catalogs from Baker Creek and Seed Savers, deciding on what exactly to order.  I’m like a kid in a candy store.  Our biggest problem is lack of space, something that will take a few more years to remedy.  Our neighbor, and pastor, owns about 5 acres across the street from us and has offered tillable space for a bigger garden, but I always think I need one more year to get better at successes and learn from failures.  So until we are comfortable we opt to stay in our comfort zones.

Last years garden was met with success and failure.  We do tend to stay with open pollinated varieties and a lot of those are just prone to picking up disease quicker than others.  Especially tomato plants, and we had a bad season with early blight.  We ended up pulling our plants and started a second batch in July but had an early frost in October and just never recovered. Needless to say we didnt get much sauce canned.

Most everything else was a success though and our pickles turned out fantastic!

But now its January and we’ve endured a week of sub zero temperatures, so here I sit browsing our seed catalogs and dreaming of warmer weather!

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Social Media Accounts

Probably would have been a good idea to lead with this a few days ago, but at least I remembered it during the first week!

When I began blogging a few years back I decided on Acts 541 based, obviously, on the scripture of Acts 5:41.  As my family and I had walked through some dark and lonely times, our faith is what sustained us.  It was a season of drawing close to the Lord and meditating on Scripture day and night.  Working through the gospels and into Luke’s book of Acts I was particularly drawn to this text and found comfort in its words.  It only made sense that my blog, and eventually other social media accounts, would bear the name Acts 541.

By no means has that season or those intimate times waxed cold, but seasons do change nonetheless.  I’ve always kept the Acts 541 web site and email, but two years ago the Lord began to instill in me a desire to become less reliant on society in areas of my life and instead focus on my family, our lifestyle, and our life goals this side of Heaven.  Out of that was birthed what we have come to call Hands and Feet Homesteading. 

Currently we are urban homesteading with our primary focus on homeschooling, raising and harvesting a lot of our own food through our gardens, and raising chickens for eggs.  We, and more days I than we, dream of owning our own land where we can have bigger gardens, more chickens, some cattle, and wide open spaces for our kids to enjoy.  And in that I also have a passion to help others pursue personal goals of self reliance through understanding gardening techniques and practices that will give them success.  I’ve even tossed around the idea of starting a CSA (community supported agriculture).

All of that to say, our social media accounts (ran right now by me) can be found at the following:

Facebook: Hands and Feet Homesteading

Instagram: handsandfeethomesteading

YouTube: HF Homestead

Pinterest: Hands and Feet Homesteading

Twitter: acts541 (still havent changed this one)

We would be thrilled to have you give us a follow!

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Messy Parenting and the Grace of Jesus

I remember at the birth of our oldest someone cracking a joke about “they don’t send you home with an instruction manual”.  We all had a good chuckle and enjoyed our last few hours under the direct care of nurses and hospital staff before we loaded up our bundle of joy and began the nail biting journey home, convinced every other driver was bent on destroying our 1999 Ford Escort.  With the three of us inside.

I’m not sure the drive got any easier bringing our other three kids home, but I’m convinced the pains and worries during the ankle biter years got easier.  At some point we began to mellow.  Or maybe its that we were just exhausted and ended the day with “thanks for not burning the place down”.

But before you know it you wake up to teenagers… and realize the game has changed again.  You get to experience an entirely new set of challenges.  Not necessarily bad, but somehow you usually find yourself being the bad guy.  Or at least you feel like you are.  And you wrestle in your head with the “I’m not their friend, I’m their parent” lie when in truth we want to be their best friend.  We are all social creatures built on craving love and acceptance.  And we most definitely want these little humans we created to like us.  After all, we are the cool parents.

But sometimes instead of being the cool parents, you just simply aren’t.  And your house isn’t the cool spot either.  And after a while it kind of works on you. You wonder what’s wrong with you.  Or your kid.

Communication starts to suffer and you find yourself either accepting your position and praying your teenager has sense enough to make the right decisions on tough choices that you know are presented to them.  Or you find a way to snoop, willing the right choice to course through their veins.  Either way, they aren’t going to waste time talking to you about it.  The more you push, the more they shut down.

And, possible, this goes on for several years until all of a sudden everyone has somehow managed to survive.  No one died, the world hasn’t ended, your kid never landed in jail, there were no surprises, and your mini me is now at the age where they are sooner or later leaving the nest.  And you’re freaked again, because the world is a dangerous place and Timmy or Sally can’t even do their own laundry or follow the simple  “no more dishes in your room” rule.

And, if you’re like me, you feel the weight of Biblical parenthood resting on your shoulders, knowing that you’ve blown it time and time again on training up your child.  And there is no sugar coating, sorry to say… You will give an account.  There are no excuses.  But that isn’t to say all is lost.  Not even close.

Somewhere in this mix of messy sanctification we find grace that is sufficient for our failures and the blood of Jesus is enough.  So even though you’ve screwed up and won’t win parent of the year…. or saint of the year.… those middle of the night desperate prayers over your kid-whether for salvation, spiritual growth, redemption, safety, etc-.. haven’t fallen on deaf ears.  Your petitions to throne of Heaven have been heard.  They might not be answered in the time you like or even how you like, but they are heard.

So why this rambling?

Glad you asked.  The following article was posted on Desiring God yesterday and I found it very timely on where my heart is as a dad to a teenager that could possibly be close… a year or so… from moving away from my nest.  And as a Christian dad that fails miserably every day, I struggle.  But my hope is not of this world and it is there I find my peace with life’s circumstances.

https://www.desiringgod.org/articles/when-is-my-child-mature-enough-to-leave-home

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

January Reading List

So, to be completely honest, I’m calling a do-over on my reading.  I’ve had 3 or 4 books on my night stand for … let’s just say a while now.  I need to do better.  I will do better!  Positive thinking!

Starting last night, I’m working through two of these books.  I find it interesting as I revisit them to see old highlighter marks and try to remember why that sentence or paragraph struck me at first read.  So what books are they?  In no particular order:

1. Church History in Plain Language by Bruce Shelley51 u7mn33FL._SX339_BO1,204,203,200_

This book came highly recommended from a dear friend and even though I’m just a few chapters in, I can see why.  Dr. Shelley has a keen ability to quickly involve the reader into what he is discussing and does a great job at bringing  the topic of church history to life.

https://www.amazon.com/Church-History-Plain-Language-Fourth/dp/1401676316/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1514945278&sr=8-1&keywords=church+history+in+plain+language+by+bruce+shelley

2. The Purpose of God: Ephesians by R.C. Sproul417q6Su0htL._SX318_BO1,204,203,200_

Even though we recently lost R.C. to ailing health, his legacy continues through his ministry at Ligonier. I very much enjoy most everything Sproul, this being no exception.  A short work, only 160 pages, this book is an exposition on the book Ephesians.

https://www.amazon.com/Purpose-God-Ephesians-R-C-Sproul/dp/1845506383/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1514945505&sr=1-2&keywords=the+purpose+of+god+ephesians

I’ve never been good at writing book reviews, but we’ll see what transpires as I work my way through my reading lists.  Also, the links provided are just for convenience.  I make no money on endorsements or the like.  Just saving the reader some time if there is interest!

Have a blessed Tuesday friends.

Monday, January 1, 2018

And We’re Off

Happy 2018!

Honestly, up until about 3 this afternoon it has been pretty uneventful.  Heck, we were all even in bed at like 10 last night.. except for one 18 year old who was ringing in the New Year with his better half.

So our relaxing day of eating and lounging came to an abrupt halt when my wife discovered the faucet to our downstairs tub/shower would not turn.  Like frozen in place.  Good times.

Luckily a trip to Lowe’s and about 70 dollars later we have a working shower and the water lines in the basement crawl space are freshly wrapped in insulation.  Crossing our fingers…

On a happier note, I’ve put in a bit of leg work deciding on some new pepper and tomato varieties for this summer’s garden.  Well… maybe not so much on the tomatoes.  We’ve decided to scale back the tomato operations here on the homestead.  We’ve traded quantity for quality and are focusing on about 4.. maybe 5.. varieties for fresh slicing and sauce making.

We’ve also decided to table our plans to attend the Great Appalachian Homesteading Conference in May to attend the Baker Creek Seed Company’s Spring Planting Festival at their headquarters in Mansfield, MO!  We… I…. are (am) very excited about the trip. 

So yeah, that’s the day in a nutshell.  Also trying to decide on a 2018 reading list, both Bible study and secular.  Oh, and I’ve started a diet… kind of….