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An Update from Idaho

Late fall found us all storing hay and feed for our livestock, gathering and splitting the last of the firewood and buttoning up our gardens and greenhouses.
Each family hurried to complete their harvests and plant their garlic for next year. Men and boys, along with a sister or two, took to the fields and forests in pursuit of wild game. Many healthy animals were harvested and prepared and packaged into frozen meals as well as stuffed sausages and pounds and pounds of seasoned jerky. All is snugly tucked away for a long winter’s rest.
The first early snow blanketed the ground on October 23. The first snow always reminds us to slow down and take care—remember, your brakes may cause more hurt than help when the road is slick!
Several young men gathered wild apples, and we assembled near our community hall to press them into cider. Biting fingers of cold wind stabbed us from all sides, it being the first really cold day of late fall. We had propane heaters set about as a welcome relief to thaw purple fingers and faces.
Once the pressing was completed and the operation cleaned up, we warmed up indoors with bowls of hot chili and steaming apple cider before regrouping to decorate the hall and prepare food for the upcoming wedding reception.

Reception for the Newlyweds

Isaac and Helen French were married in Texas on October 10, and since many of our local friends were unable to attend the wedding in Texas, we hosted a small reception for them here in Idaho. This allowed our local friends to meet Helen and her family and to get a small glimpse of the wedding.
Multiple families woke up to a snow-related power outage the morning of October 24, making preparations for the reception more interesting. All of our guest rooms and accommodations were overflowing, with friends and family from all around the country. This made ironing, cleaning and cooking an extra challenge in the absence of power. With a little innovation and sharing we were all able to prepare in time.
Many of our youth served plates of the various finger foods and soups they had prepared the night before. The menu included miniature meat and cheese rollups, muffins, cream cheese and lox on crackers, veggies and dip, baked potato and poblano bisque soup, along with sparkling punch.
Brother Dan shared excerpts from the wedding ceremony, which gave a glimpse of the ceremony in Texas. We watched a video presentation of Isaac and Helen‘s lives and then joined in singing along with family and friends. Dessert included lemon raspberry chiffon cake and steaming cider from freshly pressed apples. Everyone enjoyed the occasion and greeting the bride and groom.

Frozen Ponds Invite Ice Skaters

In early December our ponds had frozen over with ice, thick and smooth enough to skate on. We lit glowing bonfires on the bank, while snow sparkled and winter stars winked brightly in the dark sky. The ice groaned as it adjusted to the extra weight of skaters and as it expanded with the dropping mercury.
One evening nearly 50 people showed up to skate or watch! Christmas carols floated on the frosty air as we circled and cut back and forth around the huge pond together. As the moon rose late and full, we all gathered around the bonfire with a guitar and sang, warming with mugs of hot cocoa.

Pie Safe Business Brisk

The Pie Safe has been busy even though winter has set in. Christmas parties, special meals and the daily influx of holiday shoppers and gatherings have kept us running. Our November dinner of wild-rice-stuffed Cornish game hens, candied carrots, cream of leek soup with fresh sourdough rolls, autumn salad and pie with frozen custard fed 80 cheerful guests, several of them using the occasion to celebrate a birthday.
The following Tuesday morning, an order of 30 pumpkin pies left the bakery with a gentleman who would soon deliver them as Thanksgiving gifts. Throughout that day and the next, the remaining 145 special-ordered pies were picked up by their happy owners. The bakers peeled and chopped nearly 200 pounds of apples alone!
We hosted two dinners filled to our virus-reduced maximum capacity of 85 during December. We began the meal with warmed brie, followed by creamy asparagus soup and piping hot rolls, mixed green salad and then beef wellington, roasted potatoes and spinach Madeline. Somehow the brimming guests found room to enjoy silky smooth pots de créme, crme brûlée and hot drinks.

Youth Group Hosts December Banquet

The youth group hosted a banquet in our community hall on December 19. The night before, we all gathered to clean as well as prepare food. Mini Gruyére gougeres started the Brazilian meal, followed by avocado eggrolls, Brazilian cobb salads, and the main dish of beef tri tip and Frango Churrasco with serrano lime rice and charro beans topped with fried onion.
The servers cleared the dinner plates, and we promptly found our places on the low platform to sing a couple cheery Christmas carols for our guests. Folks showed appreciation with applause. Chocolate tuxedo cake and banana cheesecake followed, along with creamy eggnog and steaming hot coffee.
As the guests departed, we all gathered around the sink, and the dish race was on! Six people lined the sink, scraping, washing and rinsing dishes while many more cleared counters and dried and put away dishes. Eventually we sat around the tables to enjoy the extra food before hauling all the borrowed dishes and utensils back to the Pie Safe.
As Christmas drew near, some out-of-town folks came to celebrate with their families, while others left town to visit family in other places. Several afternoons and evenings we caroled to neighbors in Helmer, Deary, Moscow and Pullman. Our faces glowed in the light of flickering lanterns as our voices joined together in the frosty air with cheerful tidings of the newborn King. It felt wonderful to share the joy and love of Jesus to many whom the bad news and social tensions of the year have left yearning for something fresh and alive.

We hope that you all are well as we look forward to all that God will do in us and through us in 2021!

An Update from South Africa

Merry Christmas to all our friends and family across the world! The first week of December we held our third Christmas program here in the Garden Route. Three weeks before the program, with much excitement on our part, we started designing our invitations and practicing our songs nightly. Within the first day of sending out the invitations we received around six positive replies—then 10, then 20, then 30. Before we knew it, we had 100 people wanting to attend the program!
Given the Covid-19 restrictions and a crowd that size, our cafe/fellowship hall was not nearly large enough. The Christmas program would need to be an outdoor event. The only problem was that every weather forecast showed rain at the time the event was to start. But a weather forecast was not going to hold us back—we prayed and prayed.

On the day of the program everyone was readily lending a hand wherever they could. Six-year-old Emily Macfarlane carried plastic chairs from one end of the garden to the other, placing each one in direct sunlight to dry after some of the sisters had washed them. Sisters Sherry, Disney and Fay (our dearest grannies) cooked and cleaned and made hundreds of snacks to help feed the throng of people who were to arrive soon. Everyone had a part to play. The awe in our hearts resonated together with one another as we shared with others what The Great Composer is orchestrating in our lives.

As the program began, the wind that had been blowing hard throughout the day quieted into a gentle, cool breeze. It stayed that way until the last few chords of our last song rang out. Then the gentle breeze again picked up into a rushing wind accompanied by rain drops. Everyone scurried inside to enjoy a warm cup of coffee and delicious snacks. One guest told us that next year we best prepare to cater for 500 people!

Our Busy Season 

December was everything we expected and more: our hectic, but very blessed, season! We started off each Saturday with our market stalls absolutely filled to capacity with warm baked breads and fresh groceries. We just about sold out within the first few hours of the market being opened! All of our accommodation units were fully booked until after New Year. And with each passing day, the cafe got busier and busier! Sometimes as we get to the end of the day, close the doors and switch off the lights, someone says something like, “If we had any more meal orders or customers come in than we had today, I do not think we would be able to manage.” But sure enough the next day comes with more meal orders and customers with it, and by God’s grace we are able to manage! 

On December 23 we had a special Christmas farmer’s market for which we baked over 100 loaves of bread. We also took 50 processed chickens, fresh eggs, a trailer of fresh produce and a trailer of craft items. We are very grateful for the Lord’s provision!

A Time to Plant, a Time to Reap 

We took on the exciting task of harvesting and threshing our own tiny wheat patch in mid November! The patch of wheat amounted to nothing very impressive in quantity, but it certainly served as a good lesson on harvesting. We look forward to planting a much larger crop someday to harvest enough wheat to supply the needs of each family. 

We have also planted a large crop of mealies (corn) that are to be used as feed for our ducks and chickens and for us to enjoy deliciously roasted corn on the cob! Along with the mealies, we planted 1,000 runner beans and 800 bush beans. The summer heat is playing its part very well to help all the fruit and vegetables ripen. 

Merry Christmas to all our friends and family across the world! The first week of December we held our third Christmas program here in the Garden Route.

An Update from Mexico

What beautiful autumn afternoons we have enjoyed these past few weeks! The weather has been so nice to do everything outdoors. Just about every day we take a walk and enjoy the landscape with the falling leaves. Some of the young sisters and girls have gotten together for different activities, including bread making and sewing classes to learn to make aprons, purses and skirts. In the evenings, our families often enjoy visiting out on the patio, watching the children jump rope and play together.

Crops and Livestock 

The good weather has also helped us be able to continue in our gardening. In one of the garden areas we planted beans, squash and sugar cane. It is such a great feeling to see them growing; knowing that harvest time is coming soon makes us even happier! We look at the gardens and the sheep grazing nearby and feel the privilege of living in a place like this—so different from living in the city. 

A couple of weeks ago, Brother Oscar’s family saw their ewe giving birth to her lamb. The faces of the children lit up as they experienced something completely new! 

Bernal Visit 

On October 17, Brother Eder’s family traveled to Bernal to visit Brother Bernardo and Sister Elsa. They were there for five days and during that time looked for possible properties to rent or buy, suitable for businesses and homes. As was mentioned in the previous newsletter, our community believes that Bernal provides a beneficial location for us. We feel that God is opening more doors to help our community members relocate there. 

Activities shared while visiting in Bernal included cheese making, gardening and spending time together.

Klingensmith, Lozano Wedding 

On November 1, Brother Bernardo and Sister Elsa Badillo, Brother Eder and Sister Sara Badillo, and Brother Jaime Lozano traveled to Waco for the wedding of Nathaniel Klingensmith and Ary Lozano. 

The Texas community also welcomed Sister Ary’s mother, Isabel Perez, of Monterrey. It was her first time to travel to the United States. The community enjoyed a couple of days with her as she toured the craft village, met her daughter’s friends in Texas and experienced the beautiful wedding ceremony. Comfortable weather blessed an outdoor reception for friends and family. The handmade furniture, quilt and pottery crafted especially for the couple were also available for viewing. 

Carreon Birth

On November 3 at about 1:00 AM, we received some wonderful news: Brother Mario and Sister Denisse Carreon had a baby girl! Mariana Hope weighed just over 8 pounds and measured 22 1/2 inches. (See also the family photographs on page 4.)

An Update from New Zealand

Twenty years ago, Brother Ralph and Sister Fleur Lattimore established Timberworks, the first (and for many years only) timber frame company in New Zealand. 

It was through Timberworks that Brother Ralph met Brother Caleb Tittley and the other brothers and sisters in Texas. (That is a rather long story that we will have to share in another article!) After we decided to move to Kimbolton in the North Island in 2015, Brother Ralph felt to sell Timberworks to his former foreman, an English timber framer and craftsman named Martin. When Brother Ralph sold the business, he added a request that if Martin should decide to sell Timberworks, Ralph would be given the first opportunity to buy the business. When Timberworks came up for sale in September this year, an opportunity to purchase it was put before the community. It seemed good to the brothers to proceed with the purchase, so a road trip was planned to Nelson in the South Island. 

We rolled down the hills into Wellington and threaded our ways through the busy streets to the Bluebridge ferry terminal where we pulled into the line of cars. There was no ferry in sight. We were five minutes late when we arrived at the terminal, but when Brother Ralph asked how long it would be before the ferry arrived, he was told that it would be half an hour late. 

Half an hour passed, but no ferry arrived. An hour passed, but still no ferry. It was fully two hours before we were finally on board the ferry and heading out of Port Nicholson, the sheltered harbor of Wellington. The Cook Strait is notorious for being one of the roughest ferry crossings in the world, but the waters were peaceful and placid, not quite as calm as a mill pond, but definitely not as bad as it could have been. 

Once at the workshop, we began packing tools into boxes and disconnecting the heavy machinery from the overhead dust extraction system, which we then pulled down. The massive cast-iron bandsaw posed a problem—it was too heavy to load with the truck’s tail lift. We eventually solved the problem by opening the side doors of the truck and lifting the bandsaw in with a forklift. We made faster progress than we were expecting, and by the end of the day we had most of the workshop packed up and in the truck and trailer. 

At the end of the day, Martin and his wife Leslie showed us through the beautiful little show home they had built at their property just down the road from Timberworks. It is a lovely example of timber framing, with high sweeping trusses and big glass windows on the front, as well as a lovely loft bedroom and cleverly designed kitchen counters made of concrete to reduce cost. The show home inspired us, and has given us many new design ideas for our own tiny houses at Mohaka River Farm. 

Through the whole trip, we felt God’s protecting hand on us. There were no incidents, and we had a number of good connections with people while there. We pray that through this business we will connect with many people as we run woodwork classes and construct timber frames for interesting houses. 

Spring Holiday Program 

It was Sunday evening on September 27 when our spring holiday program for schoolchildren began with a running start. We had advertised a program where families could come and stay, be taught some craft in the morning and have a farm experience in the afternoon. Over 25 young folks with their families arrived. 

At milking time, poor Silky the cow had nearly 20 different pairs of hands squeezing and pinching out tiny streams of milk. She stoically withstood it. Amidst a great deal of laughter, the children asked Zara and Annaliese questions about life at Mohaka River Farm. 

The next day brought a flurry of activity to set up the conference center in time before the kids showed up. By 10:30 AM, both craft rooms buzzed with excited chatter. At the leather work station, Ezra helped a boy situate the stamp correctly on the leather; then Boone held it while the little boy exuberantly swung down the mallet. Thud! Phew! The mallet missed Boone’s fingers that time! 

In the next room, Sister Rachel and Taliah taught others how to make a basket. Annaliese helped two of the girls, Sophie and Ellie, do theirs. 

Later on that week, we tacked up the trekking horses for the kids. Some of the children were so eager to go that they almost danced with excitement as Sister Fleur gave the safety briefing. 

After Annaliese led Jet through the mounting block, Sophie scrambled on, her eyes wide with anticipation. “Jet is a really calm horse,” we reassured her as Annaliese passed the reins to her. It was hard not to chuckle aloud at the varied assortment of riders. Some were clutching the reins almost to their chest, while others had their heels sticking out towards the sky. All of the riders stayed on, however; we lost not a single one! 

During one craft morning, the grandmother of one of the children approached Annaliese and started telling her about Taylah, her eldest granddaughter. “When we first came here,” the grandmother explained with a big smile, “Taylah said, ‘Grandma, I don’t understand how these people can live here together like this.’ But today she decidedly said, ‘Actually, Grandma, I think I understand now! They’re all so close and such good friends. I think I would even want to live here, too!’“ 

Saturday evening came quickly and with it many pizza orders. Brother Eddie had the wood-fired oven burning wonderfully, and the customers seemed well satisfied with the food. At the close of the evening, several girls dawdled by the oven, cooking the last pizza for the staff. Suddenly, Noni, an Israeli girl who was staying in the camp with her family, came bounding down the steps towards us. “I just wanted to say goodbye,“ she said breathlessly. 

Noni joined the other girls as they walked back to the kitchen to finish cleaning up. Taliah and Zara washed the dishes, Noni dried them, and Annaliese put them away. Annaliese felt to connect with Noni but had just met her the day before and knew nothing about her background, such as whether she had a faith or not.  

Later when the girls non-turned out the lights in the kitchen and walked out, Noni said, “I don’t understand how people can believe God is nonexistent, because it’s so obvious that He is real!” Annaliese smiled and nodded in agreement, saying, “Yes, it is obvious.” As part of saying goodbye to Noni, we told her, “Always remember that you have friends here at Mohaka River Farm!” 

As Annaliese and Taliah walked home, Taliah mentioned that Noni’s family were not religious. Annaliese expressed her surprise and how thankful she was for her talk with Noni. 

Later during the program, several of us also met and conversed with a teenage girl originally from Sri Lanka who was Muslim. It is amazing how even on a remote farm in New Zealand, God has given us the opportunity and privilege to meet and serve young people from many different backgrounds.

Anniversary and Labor Day Weekend 

On Thursday, October 22, we celebrated our first anniversary of the camp being open to the public. To celebrate, we hosted a dinner for our whole community consisting of “mighty Mohaka burgers” served with fries and mint lemonade, followed by carrot cake and coffee for dessert. After the meal, we enjoyed singing and conversing late into the night. What a year it has been! 

Our opening weekend last year was Labor Day weekend, a long weekend holiday where we hosted a small number of families and campers. 

This year, we have just said goodbye to our last guests for Labor Day weekend. We were blessed with a full camp; many “tenters” and caravans booked at the last minute. The horses have been used to capacity. Sister Fleur and Brother Rob took horse treks throughout the weekend, and we offered farm experiences and Saturday night wood-fired pizza. Many of the campers came based on someone’s recommendation. Some campers found us on the internet, and others were just passing by. 

Also rewarding was to have many locals who hope to return in the summer. We were surprised and thrilled with how busy the weekend was, and how satisfied our guests were. All indications are that summer is going to be busy! 

A Start on Glamping Tents

As we continue to develop the camp business, we anticipate setting up platforms with glamping-style tents similar to the ones in our South Africa community. Last week, a team of fathers and young folks gathered a huge trailer load of kanuka poles for our tents that our neighbor generously offered to us. 

We all pitched in together to cut the trees with chainsaws and pull them down the heavily wooded hill to where the trailer waited to be loaded. We hope that the glamping tents will add a different dimension to the campground and what we offer here.

An Update from Texas

Because of the many restrictions surrounding the pandemic, we worried that we might have to cancel our Thanksgiving Fair. But the Lord answered our prayers: the county officials have approved our holding this outdoor event. Although we have less time than usual to prepare, we feel a responsibility to bring God’s message of hope to all who have faced the confusion and uncertainty of this year. We are planning for proper social distancing and safety as we prepare displays, food and crafts. We anticipate many visitors this year! 

With the fair just a few weeks away, preparations are in full swing on the farm. This year, we will be offering farm tours with the hope of being able to spend a substantial time showing folks our crops as well as discussing farming methods and techniques. A lot of cleanup is required to spruce up the grounds, and already we have made a lot of headway. We also plan to have some horse-drawn implements for sale via a silent auction during the fair. 

Around the Farm 

Sorghum harvest has been a highlight of our farming seasons for many years, and this year was exceptional. Practically every time we have grown sorghum, we have had a constant fight with aphids, not to mention the endless need for irrigation due to the season in which sorghum is grown. Aphids pierce the stems and suck the nutrient-rich sap from the plant, leaving behind curled or yellowed leaves and off-flavored sap. Yet this year, not only did we receive ample rains, we also enjoyed an aphid-free sorghum crop! 

So far we have harvested the first round of cane, which produced an impressive 25 gallons of syrup. The Brix1 levels of our first cutting were between 18-21. We still have 12 rows to be harvested. This next batch is also looking remarkably good. 

Recently, a local farm store donated several tons of fertilizer as well as a plethora of gardening supplies to our farm. Since now is the time for fall plowing, we are also taking this time to spread the fertilizer on our fields. This fall we will plant 8 acres of wheat, 4 acres of oats and 12 acres of cover crop to build the soil. 

We have a large number of implements that need restoration, including several carriages, discs, plows and so forth. If any young men are interested in the restoration as a wintertime project, please contact Brother Grady. 

As the peak of our farming year comes to a close, here is a short (very short) essay from the farm manager, Brother Grady: 

It is getting colder on the farm, and work is continuing. The end.”

  1. The Brix value, in degrees, tells how much dissolved sugar is in a liquid solution. Each degree of Brix equals one percent sugar. Therefore, the higher the Brix value, the sweeter the liquid solution. Degrees of Brix are traditionally used in the wine, sugar, carbonated beverage, fruit juice, maple syrup and honey industries. For example, the Brix of honey is typically in the range of 70 to 90. 

Ploughshare Barn Renovation 

The Plougshare barn project has made some significant improvements! The barn was never insulated, so we were unable to use it in the summer months, since in Texas air conditioning is a must! So we insulated the entire building and re-sided it. We added a patio to the side facing the windmill and poured a sizable patio alongside it. Large glass doors were installed leading onto the patio, and several brothers built some custom barn doors that slide on a track to cover the glass doors if necessary. 

The rehearsal dinner for the French and Lancaster wedding was planned to be in the barn, but the patio was simply a concrete block a week before the event. Several young men put in some late hours to cover the patio and steps with flagstone and put a beautiful iron railing along the edge of the patio. 

The project was finished within a few days of the rehearsal dinner, and a swarm of young folks cleaned the area, spread dirt, decorated the patio with furniture and plants, and enhanced the surrounding landscape. 

Because the weather was pretty warm for the dinner, we had to install a temporary air-conditioning system to control the climate. The plan is to install a permanent system for future events, but the temporary fix did have a satisfactory effect. For the rehearsal dinner, the barn was literally glowing with light and tasteful decorations, not to mention the love and laughter coming from all who were enjoying their meal. 

We plan to use the barn year-round now that it has been finished out, and there is little doubt it will see a lot more use in the years to come. 

New Housing Construction 

After a few financial speed bumps, the new housing project on the land is once again moving at full speed! Two of the homes are nearly finished with the mechanical (electrical, plumbing, HVAC) stage. 

Exterior siding and windows are now being installed as well as porch framing and roofing. For the third home, we are waiting to purchase the framing package because lumber prices may drop in the next couple of weeks. If we can save a few thousand dollars by waiting a few weeks, we certainly will take advantage of the opportunity! 

The goal is to complete all three homes by the end of January. With the dedicated crew of young guys, we hope to venture into some fundraising projects after we complete the current construction.

Dinner at Cafe Homestead 

Since 1994, Cafe Homestead has been an establishment serving breakfast and lunch, with occasional special event dinners. For a number of years now, the cafe has wanted to begin regular dinner service. With the pandemic, we felt like it was the right time to change, to essentially spread out our dinner events over multiple nights. We have now been doing dinner service for six weeks, and the reception and attendance has been more than we could have hoped for! 

Our dinners begin with complimentary, delectable biscuits, and dinner choices range from top-quality steak to a completely re-imagined meatloaf that has received rave reviews. 

Making this shift has allowed us to serve more people in the local Waco area, as most “destination dining” happens for dinner and not for lunch during regular business work hours. 

Since we started dinner service, our online reviews across all platforms have increased significantly. Here are a few: 

“We had dinner here last night and loved it. Excellent food and amazing service. It is a Christian atmosphere run by Christians and you sense it immediately. Well done Cafe Homestead!” 

“What can I say? Always an amazing delicious meal. I am so glad they added dinner service. We love Cafe Homestead.” 

“My family and I just finished our second meal of the day at Cafe Homestead. Both were amazing and I can’t recommend it enough. All the shops, stores and activity centers are adorable. We came to Waco for the silos and they didn’t disappoint, however, we’ll return to Waco for a place like this.” 

The cafe is open Monday through Wednesday, 11:00 AM to 3:00 PM for lunch, and Thursday through Saturday for breakfast, lunch and dinner from 8:00 AM to 3:00 PM and 5:00 PM to 8:30 PM.

Carlson, Scarbrough Wedding 

Mason Carlson and Hailey Scarbrough were married on September 4. Family and friends worked together to make the couple a beautiful bed and side tables, a coffee table, natural-edge mesquite and iron dining table, a quilt and pillows and many other heartfelt gifts. 

After the wedding, a cousin turned to her parents and said, “This is how I want to be married!” Several relatives went home and shared with others that they had never seen a place where people took initiative to serve because of love. 

An Update from South Africa

Spring has arrived! The gardens are greening up, the vegetables are growing quicker, and the days are getting longer. The time has come to share our first harvest. 

On September 26 we hosted our first farm-to-table dinner at The Bakery. Because it was our first one, the dinner provided us with an opportunity to learn from many new situations. We milled our own flour for our breads and made our own pasta. We made a non-alcoholic cordial from kumquats, a fruit that we had never used before. From 500 grams (about a pound) of gooseberries, we produced a dessert drizzle that had to suffice for what seemed like 5,000 people, but in reality was only 30!

The preparations were great fun! We spent the week before the dinner collecting as much produce from all of our family gardens that our plants could provide. Our spinach patch was cared for and nurtured more than ever before. We even spoke to our gooseberry plants, our lettuces and all our herbs, encouraging them to grow quickly and to provide an abundant harvest. And they did! 

On the day of the dinner our little kitchen was overflowing with heaps of spinach and an excited (and a little nervous) kitchen crew! We had an attendance of around 30 people. Many of our guests stayed late into the night, reluctant to pull away from a delightful evening. 

One of our regular bakery customers, a single lady in her fifties, booked a stay with us for the week. She found herself undecided as to whether to attend the dinner, but finally convinced herself to try it. A smile stayed on her face throughout the whole evening. As we sang the words to the song “Lean on Me,” tears flowed from her eyes as she sang along. “If there is a load you have to bear that you can’t carry, well I’m right up the road, and I’ll share your load, if you’ll just call me.” All that she could say when she left that night was how happy she felt for deciding to attend! 

Readying the Glamping Tents 

Early Thursday morning on October 1, Sister Mariska’s car rolled out of the parking area with the light yellow, box-shaped trailer bouncing behind it. In the Bakery, Sister Jenna and some of the other sisters watched the car and trailer leave. Sister Jenna confided, “This is so exciting; I can’t wait until this afternoon!” 

Afternoon came, finally. We closed the Bakery as quickly as possible and raced up to the glamping tents. Sister Mariska had just returned from the town of George with the little trailer packed with furniture. At last the day had arrived when we could set up and decorate the glamping tents! 

Everyone helped wherever they could. We relocated a 5,000-liter (about 1,300 gallons) water tank from our main water source to the glamping sites. The tank, which we fill with well water, is the water source for the tents. A sense of accomplishment shone forth from each person’s face as we worked together to complete all of the jobs. 

Later in the week, two of our couples spent a night in each of the tents to ensure that everything was as it should be before we marketed the accommodations.

Changing with the Seasons 

Springtime also brings with it a deeper cultivating in each of our hearts as we dig deeper and uproot more entangled roots. Then through our shared struggles and pain, we join closer together to sow seeds that will bear fruit again. In the last few weeks some visitors have asked us what defines our community. One aspect is the daily life itself. A life that allows us to struggle together, work together, cry together, laugh together and grow together. Amid all of that is the knowing that you are never alone. 

October 4 was the day that Brother Adi turned 21 years old. A couple of weeks prior to his birthday, a small group of young people got together and started practicing a few songs to sing for him. We felt a little daunted at this because for the last five years he has been our music leader and teacher! From our first practice we realized that the songs would be great fun, but we really needed God’s help and blessing! 

We celebrated his birthday with some close friends and visitors as well as with all of the community. 

Throughout the whole day we looked back on how far God has brought us and rejoiced in His changes that each of us felt within! What a victorious day it was for us all. 

Carl, one of our visitors, marveled at the sound and beauty of the guitar that Brother Adi had constructed while in Texas. Carl started playing a song that we all quickly recognized. Suddenly all of the different circles of conversation broke up as we all joined together and sang: “How great is our God. Sing with me, how great is our God. And all will see how great, how great is our God.” The music throughout the evening blessed us all. 

Preparing for Holiday Vacationers 

December is generally a hectic month for us. The Western Cape is a very popular tourist attraction for the Christmas season, which for us occurs in summer. People from all over the world flood in for the holidays. So we are gearing up and preparing for what could be called a month-long fair! We will be working on many crafts, songs and baking. 

December is also our time for sowing crops. We intend to plant all of our corn as a community crop. We will also sow some summer pasture with a variety of grasses, such as teff, to use as cow feed. 

An Update from Montana

Greetings family and friends! Our fifth annual Farm Day and Craft Fair occurred on Saturday, August 22. Throughout the week, a steady stream of brothers and sisters arrived from Texas to help with the final push to completion. 

On the day before the fair, clouds skittered across the sky, and a warm sun beat down on Greycliff Creek Ranch. The Heritage Restorations crew raised the skeletal structure of a rustic barn for silent auction the next day. The steady hum of a forklift and skid-steer loader mingled with music floating out from under the red-and-white striped tent as we completed our afternoon music rehearsal. 

A number of families showed up with their dinners and ate at picnic tables in the music/dining tent. We were all in the homestretch together. Around 7:00 PM, everyone who was not already at the fair grounds arrived for the final evening music rehearsal. 

Brother John Mark strummed his guitar enthusiastically and sang, “Are you lost and lonely, broken down? Bring all of your troubles, come lay ‘em down.” This fair, more than ever before, it is our desire to bring a message of hope to the attendees.

Final Preparations 

In the craft barn, a group of young men set up plywood display shelves; then the crafts started rolling in. In one area were a couple of dozen baskets, including pine needle baskets, and Sister Grace’s masterpiece of the year, a three-foot-tall elk antler basket. Sister Camille Palmer and Sister Kelly Palmer, her sister-in-law, set up a kaleidoscope of colorful woven dish towels, hot pads, soft crocheted blankets and beautiful hand-knit sweaters and shawls. 

Brother Ernie and Sister Denise displayed their handmade brooms from broom corn grown last summer on the ranch. Brother Ernie also hand turns the slender twisted broom handles. 

A large collection of sewing projects and quilts filled one corner of the barn. Together we quilted a queen-size quilt that Sister Rachel Lindsay pieced together earlier in the year. Smaller baby quilts and wall hangings hung above the display tables. 

Sister Grace Holifiled and Sister Abigail Bowden, with Sister Renanah Sherman, Sister Abby Woody and Anna Diaz made a collection of aprons with matching hot pads. These were hung for display. Hanging with them were two runs of denim jumpers laced with colorful flowery ribbon, along with various tote bags for ladies. 

Brother Caleb Oakley had a small array of beautiful leather projects he had made. Brother Zachary Dumont set up canisters of wooden spoons and spatulas, cedar cutting boards, rolling pins and coaster sets made by young, eager boys at evening woodworking classes. 

Fair Day! 

On the morning of the fair, Brother Jake and some boys set up A-frame hand-painted signs reading “Farm Day, Greycliff Creek Ranch” with an arrow underneath pointing down the road toward the ranch. They placed the signs near the two exits east and west of the ranch and at various points along the way to guide folks. 

By 9:30 AM a steady trickle of vehicles drove down the road and lined the ranch driveway. The delicious aroma of fresh pretzels and smoking brisket was detectable even from the entrance! Throughout the day a line of hungry guests stood in front of the kitchen ordering food. Warm burritos, pretzels and pastries sold well in the morning. Brother Michael and Sister Deborah Ballerino made their famous fresh-popped kettle corn and Sister Renanah served iced coffee, milkshakes and soft, fresh-crank huckleberry ice cream. 

The shrill voices of goats being held by young children in the petting pen could be heard over the hubbub of human voices. From time to time Brother Micah would announce the next seminar class in the small cabin or one of the demonstrations: milking cows, harvesting wheat, or barn raising, just to name a few. 

As the number of attendants rose, so did the temperature! Many people rested and ate lunch at the picnic tables in the shade under the music tent.

Afternoon Activities 

At 12:50 all of us who were playing instruments gathered on the stage to prepare for the 1:00 PM music. As the first notes of “Cripple Creek” rolled from Isaiah’s banjo, the crowd of people sitting at the picnic tables turned eagerly toward the stage. After we played a few bluegrass pieces, the children’s choir, ages three through nine, took the stage. 

They sang enthusiastically the song “If You’re Happy and You Know It” before the youth choir joined them. A smile lit up every face of our guests as three-year-old Jordan sang the first few lines of “This Little Light of Mine” into a microphone perched on a stand practically folded in half so that he could reach the microphone. Then Brother Abraham Dumont took over the lead as the song medley changed, and together he and the choir sang “Sunshine!” The crowd cheered and clapped loudly as the younger choir left the stage. A group of adults sang a handful of gospel songs to conclude. 

After the music, the demonstrations and seminars continued. Parents brought their eager children to the make-your-own tent where the young folks could make a basket, a jump rope, a soap ball, dip a candle, or build a birdhouse. In the craft barn, a consistent circle of people watched as Sister Abby Bowden demonstrated how to transform a lump of clay into a vase or a mug, and Sister Camille’s try-it-yourself loom never seemed to stay vacant. 

Evening Activities 

Close to dinner time another wave of guests arrived for the evening music and good Texas-style barbecue. The sinking sun glowed orange on the grey cliffs. A slight breeze blew through the fair grounds as we gathered under the red and white tent once again with many close friends and locals for dinner and evening music. 

Brother John Mark opened the evening by thanking everyone for attending and sharing with us in a wonderful day of fellowship and activity. 

The first instrumental was a piece for two pianos. Sister Grace Holifield and Sister Naomi Bowden relearned the lively “Keep On the Firing line” the day before the fair—a song neither of them had played in years! Sweat soaked Sister Naomi’s palms as she and her older sister kept looking at each other, grinning, as they tried not to freeze up at the last minute. The crowd laughed when Brother John Mark warned them that the pianists had not played the song in years and had pulled it out of the hat the day before. He was serious, which they did not realize! 

Grace and Naomi sped through the instrumental, practically holding their breath the whole time. As they rumbled out the last octaves on the bottom row of keys of the keyboards, the crowd cheered and hollered. Whew! The two sisters could breathe again! 

We shared a wonderful evening with the local community of people that we have come to know. At times some cried. We clapped a lot, and sometimes we simply worshiped together. Everyone rose to their feet as we finished the song “Will the Circle Be Unbroken?” Afterwards, a lady with whom we had done business in the past shared with a few of us that, “while the earth all around us is sinking sand, through the music we had been lead to the Rock” (partially quoting a song sung earlier in the evening). She also added that “this is the message the whole world needs to see and hear.” 

Following the evening music, we served peach cobbler and fresh-cranked vanilla ice cream for dessert. Slowly the crowd dwindled until only our community members remained. In a matter of a few hours, a transition occurred that made it hard to tell there had been a fair! The number of attendees totaled 517. 

An Update from Virginia

Autumn is always a welcome change here. Black walnut trees turn the same sunshiny hue as the goldenrod flowers, while the rest of the landscape shifts from summer green into more colorful tones. As much as we love the productivity and abundance of the summer months, the cool mornings and colorful leaves arrive like favorite old friends. 

The arrival of autumn ushers in one of our most favorite crops—apples! We turned 2,000 pounds of apples into apple cider, applesauce and pie filling, and we ate our weight in fresh ones! Dozens of apple trees dot the landscape around Nickelsville and produce so much fruit that many of our elderly neighbors simply cannot use them all. Local residents encourage us to pick the trees and clean the yard of fallen apples. In exchange, we return some to the neighbors as jugs of cider and jars of pie filling. This has been a wonderful way to make new friends that we would not have connected with otherwise, especially during this time of people sheltering in place. For the first time, we are going to try preserving some of the fresh apples through the winter by packing them in a barrel with sawdust. 

In addition to processing the apples, our mothers and sisters have been canning every day, and our shelves and cellars glisten with rainbows of home-preserved food. Some families have experimented with more sustainable alternatives to freezing and canning: dehydration, preserving in vinegar and oils, and salting fresh herbs. Sister Rebekah Connors told me that they made their own pectin for jellies from hibiscus seed pods. 

Brother Miciah found a design for a food dehydrator completely powered by the sun. He has built them for several families and more are in process. The dehydrators have proven very successful, as evidenced by sweet dried apples, leathery wild mushrooms and tomatoes, as well as many spicy herbs and peppers. 

Taking Care of the Pommes de Terre

Several months back, we planted 800 pounds of potatoes which yielded a harvest of over 75 bushels! With this harvest came a fun culinary discovery. Sister Kathy Lee recalled how her grandparents would sometimes cook their potatoes in a cast iron pot filled with pine tree rosin. Intrigued, Sister Lindsay Lee ordered a big bag of rosin chunks and supplied one of her cast-iron pots for the experiment. We built a fire, and soon the golden rosin bubbled and sputtered, ready to receive the potatoes. After cooking for a time, the potatoes began to float, signaling that they were done. The result was a soft and creamy potato that tasted more like a baked potato than a boiled one. One interesting thing about the rosin is that once it cools, it hardens in the pot and can be reused indefinitely, for years, until it is completely used up. 

Turning Sweet on Sourdough

When Sister Anna Borman from Waco visited earlier this summer with her family, she taught a sourdough class for the sisters here, and in doing so revolutionized our bread making! The gift of her time and knowledge has redefined sourdough for our whole community. Now the most beautiful loaves, waffles and pancakes have been emerging from our kitchens and quickly disappearing into the mouths of grateful people. Thank you, Sister Anna, from the bottom of our full hearts and bellies! 

Saving Seeds, Harvesting Hay 

Brother Kevin Borman’s seed-saving endeavors are in full swing. They harvested around 6,600 ears of corn and two 18-foot trailer loads of butternut and yellow squash (not to mention pumpkins, cucumbers, lettuce and other crops waiting to be processed). 

They currently stack trays and screens of corn and squash seeds to dry before packaging for next year’s gardens. The seed packages serve as sustainable seed provision both locally and in our other communities. As Brother Robert Lee puts it, “They are now one weed pullin’, seed pluckin’ family.” 

In turn, we could say that the Lees are “one hay-cuttin’, bale-throwin’ family!” Over three separate harvests, they have put up 325 round bales and 2,600 square bales. As often as possible, a group of brothers (and a sister or two) assembles to gather the hay from the fields and stack the sweet-smelling bales in our barns. 

Virginia’s weather tends to have summer days dotted with passing thunderstorms. One moment brings rain; the next moment brings sunshine. Thus have we learned the wisdom in the old expression, “Make hay while the sun shines.” Plentiful hay harvests are essential for keeping our livestock warm and fed over the winter months. 

Checking on the Chickens 

We raised a batch of over 1,000 pasture-fed chickens overseen by Brother Robert Lee. Forty-five chicken tractors, built by our brothers, protect our flocks from predators and house about 35 birds each. Every morning around dawn a team of brothers assembles to care for the birds and move the tractors to fresh grass. As a by-product, the fields are being enriched with fertilizer as the flocks graze for the eight weeks. At harvest time, many willing hands gather to help early in the morning, and we spend the next few hours processing the day’s allotted number of chickens. After cleaning up, we all share a meal. Through much learning and refining of the process each year, our clean butchering setup has become very efficient. 

Gearing Up the Greenhouse 

Construction on the greenhouse is officially underway. With the warmer, dryer days of summer, Brother John Luker and his four sons have been busy excavating and installing the 320 feet of underground air-transfer pipe. The purpose is to create a geothermal system that will provide 65-degree warm air in winter and 65-degree cool air in summer. Our eight months of cold weather prevents outdoor gardening, so we hope that this large, permanent greenhouse lets us extend our growing season of fresh leafy greens and vegetables to cover the entire year. The foundation is now nearing completion, and we intend to use the facility before November!

Shifting into Four-Leg Drive

Progress continues with the use of our horses. Brother Kevin, for example, uses our Suffolk punch draft horses in the seed-saving fields. Over the years we have continued to acquire a wide variety of horse-drawn equipment. Another milestone was reached when Brother John Lee drove a recently acquired buggy pulled by our horse, Diamond, all the way from our farm into town (40 minutes). Brother John parked the horse and buggy outside of Heritage Square while he attended to business. 

One of our elderly neighbors called and told us how delighted she was to see Diamond standing patiently next to the other parked vehicles as she drove by. She said it brought back memories from her childhood, and the sight “just made the whole town look beautiful!” We hope to take her for a ride soon. 

Earlier this month we were able to surprise Victor Lee on his thirteenth birthday with his own pony and a cart to go with it. He learned how to drive in just a few minutes, and then promptly took each of his family members for a ride. 

An Update from Mexico

As 2020 began and COVID-19 interrupted the lives of many around us, the Lord urged us to respond in many ways, one of which was raising more crops. So we began to prepare the ground to plant. 

In some places, the task seemed impossible. It required a lot of work in ground that was not very cooperative! We dug, pulled weeds, removed rocks and added soil just to reach a point where we could plant. We were very tired during those days, but we felt so encouraged at the same time. 

Reaping the Fruits of Our Labor 

The process of growing our food taught us in every aspect, from the soil to the seeds. As we gathered the harvest from our gardens, we realized that our personal relationships were bearing fruit also. We sensed a growth and maturity in our community. It was as if we had been walking in a rut and suddenly found ourselves in the open, dazzled by what we had not been seeing.

Taking Time to Relax a Little 

We also had a lot of fun, and sometimes that included a swim in the pond after a hot day working together. Fishing was another popular activity. 

Celebrating an Engagement 

On May 22, Brother Nathaniel Klingensmith from the community in Waco, Texas, and Ary Lozano became engaged to marry. Our joy for the engaged couple is overflowing, and we eagerly look forward to the wedding. 

Maintaining a Rental Property 

Some months ago, Brother Oscar Saucedo felt to leave Monterrey. He began to visit some properties in Cadereyta looking for a place to live. Among these was a rental property with a large piece of land (about 35 acres), an inviting lake, a pond and very good ground for gardening. We all agreed that the property was very desirable, but the rent was too high. So Brother Oscar’s family found another place to live, and they moved out of Monterrey. 

Then one day, the landlord of the property in which Brother Oscar had been interested called. He was looking for a family to live on the property and maintain it. Would Brother Oscar be willing to serve as land overseer? Indeed yes! 

This month we have been working on the property, sprucing up the residence as well as performing other renovations.  

Welcoming the Newborns 

On June 22, Brother Enrique Badillo Cepeda’s family welcomed a new daughter, Rebekah. She weighed 8.3 pounds and measured 20 1/2 inches. (See also page 5.) 

On July 22, Brother Eric and Sister Blanca Hipólito were blessed with their fourth child, Blanca Faith. She weighed 7.9 pounds and measured 20 1/2 inches.

Beginning an Exodus to Bernal 

In October of last year, Brother Éder, together with brothers from the Waco community—Adolfo Anzaldua, Benjamin Neikirk and Caleb Gonzalez—visited some other states in Mexico, including Mérida, Yucatán and Querétaro. In Querétaro, in a town called Bernal, they stopped to buy some chocolates. (They had never heard of the village before nor visited it.) In the plaza, they met the Héctor Castillo family. To make a long story short, a close relationship has developed between Brother Héctor and our community. We feel that Bernal itself provides a location that will benefit our entire community. 

At the beginning of July this year, Brother Éder and Brother Bernardo and his wife Sister Elsa made a trip to Bernal. They visited Brother Héctor’s family and were joined a couple of days later by Brother Adolfo and Sister Letty and Brother Caleb and Sister Ana from Texas. 

While they were there, they looked at some properties and houses. On August 28, Brother Bernardo Badillo’s family moved to Bernal, the first of our community members to relocate there. Brother Héctor and his family graciously prepared a house to receive them. 

Exceeding Expectations 

In summary, these last months have been full of blessings, successes and changes that we could not have imagined given the circumstances when 2020 got underway. What we felt at the beginning of the year has been coming to pass and has even exceeded our expectations. We look forward to the rest of the year and whatever comes next!

An Update from New Zealand

Kia ora, greetings from New Zealand! We have been very busy these last few months even though so much of the world has stalled because of COVID- 19. It is probably best to go back several months to get a grasp of what has happened here since the beginning of this year. 

Enjoying Three Weeks of Company 

Major renovation and construction occurred when Brother Webb French and a team from the Idaho community (and a lone Texan) came to help us. 

We had planned a number of projects for several months, but lacked enough people and time to accomplish them. With the help of the Frenches, Bormans and Daniel Anzaldua, we renovated a number of buildings in the campground and built a tiny house for the Lattimore family. Three groups of young men from Texas had arrived last year to help with renovations, so we were familiar with the lingo, such as sheetrock instead of GIB, squash instead of zucchini and butternut pumpkin, and floating instead of plastering. 

Working with the new team was fun, even if we labored later into the night than most of us were used to. While some people renovated and constructed, others harvested our potatoes and corn and gathered plums from our neighbor’s trees. We had plenty of tasks to go around. 

In addition to work, we had time for horse rides and water fun at the nearby swimming hole. We took a few trips, such as visiting the local farmer’s market, going to see Huka Falls and playing on Mount Maunganui beach. We learned many new songs from them, and precious times were spent worshiping together, even if it was in our mechanic’s shed and woodwork shop. We lacked sufficient space anywhere else! 

The three weeks we enjoyed together were productive and filled with fun. We felt a mixture of sadness and joy when we finally saw them off at Auckland Airport. There is no doubt about it, our two little communities are now tightly bound together, and we cannot wait until we can “fly away to Idaho” to visit them there. 

Tending to the Farm during Lockdown 

The day after the Idaho team left, the New Zealand government declared the country to be in COVID-19 level 4, which effectively meant that no one was allowed to enter the country, and everyone within New Zealand was required to isolate for four weeks. Just after lockdown began, our community gardens that we had planted the previous spring needed to be harvested. We split up into family groups and kept two meters apart from one another as we began pulling up the pumpkins and tomatoes that we had planted together the year before. What a contrast to the harvesting time with our Idaho friends! 

Through the lockdown, we have come to see increasingly the need to be more self-sufficient with our food. Consequently, all our families have begun planting home gardens, and our plates have become laden with home-grown beets, corn, potatoes and tomatoes. We have also begun training some of last year’s shorthorn calves to pull carts and harrows so we can use them to cultivate our gardens when the animals are fully grown. 

Practice Improves Equestrian Skills 

Winter began a few weeks after harvest. The weather was mild compared to previous winters we have had, but a nationwide drought during summer had made feed for livestock difficult to obtain. Thanks to our location next to the Mohaka River, we had not suffered as badly as most of the rest of the country. Still, we were short on grass, and eventually we had to buy hay from the South Island to feed our horses and cattle. 

One advantage to lockdown was that our herd of trekking horses were not in use for its duration. The horses needed less food than when trekking, so we were able to feed them much less. It also meant that many of the young people in our fellowship were able to enjoy horseback rides with siblings, parents, other kids and in groups. The practice on horseback has greatly improved our riding capabilities. 

A-Frame Chalets Receive Spruce-Ups 

With no guests in the campground during lockdown, we were finally able to begin some long-needed renovations to our accommodations. These included construction tasks that we had not managed to get to while the Idaho team was here. The four A-frame chalets were first on our list. We all banded together and began staining the outsides a dark color and water blasting the years of lichen growth off of the roofs. Then we grabbed ladders and began painting the depressing chipboard lining inside a fresher white, which almost instantly made the whole place feel a lot bigger and more inviting. 

While some people worked inside sanding the floors, others hopped up on ladders and began replacing the light fixtures above the sinks and tables. It was incredibly satisfying to turn on the new lights that evening and stand back to admire our handiwork once we were finished. 

Returning to Somewhat Normal

Lockdown ended in mid-May, and soon the campground was humming with life as customers once again filled our accommodations. Whatever their walk of life, almost everyone who visits our farm comments on the peace and calm they feel while on the property. We have had many friends and visitors come, ranging from a small family from Seattle, Washington, to a Swedish family from Auckland who recently moved to Napier to be near us. They stay with us every second week. 

Heritage Timbercraft Prepares for Busy Season 

Meanwhile, Heritage Timbercraft has been abuzz with business opportunities as more and more people inquire about the kitset barn options. Apparently, people are concerned that the freedom from quarantine is not going to last. They want to build their own houses before they are forced to self-isolate again, which explains the many inquiries we receive about the barns. 

Just after lockdown, a small team from Heritage Timbercraft journeyed to Nelson for two weeks to raise a restored historic barn frame on the beautiful Kina Peninsula. Despite having to use some rather ancient fork and scissor lifts, everything went according to plan, and the barn frame looked incredible once it was finished. If all goes well, we should have several new barn jobs beginning in early November that will bring in plenty of work for the next several months. This will provide many exciting opportunities for our young people, and we eagerly anticipate the commencement of this work. 

The Cow That Could Not, Did 

The next day, Brother Eddie and Brother Freek were working together on our upper paddocks. Our herd of shorthorn cattle were grazing in a nearby paddock, but in the midst of the herd, two cows stood out from the rest. They were our two jersey cows that we had owned for several years, Silky and Daisy. We had tried to get them in calf the previous year, but neither had shown any signs of being pregnant after the bull had been with them. 

While the men were working, Brother Freek happened to glace up at the herd, and then said to Brother Eddie in his distinctive Dutch accent, “Silky has a calf!” 

Brother Eddie half looked over and replied, “No, Silky won’t have a calf.” He turned back to what he was doing. 

A minute later, Brother Freek said, “Silky definitely has a calf. There’s one standing beside her!” 

This time Brother Eddie took a serious look across the field to where Silky was standing and—sure enough—a little brown calf stood right beside her! 

Later that day, we moved Silky and her calf to the paddock with the other two milk cows and began milking her as well. Silky’s calf was an answer to prayer as far as the milk situation was concerned. Now that the calf has been weaned, we have more than enough milk to go around. Sister Rachel Delong has even made some hard cheeses with the extra milk. But we must wait to find out what those cheeses taste like once they have aged enough! 

Bidding Farewell to Sister Rachel

In mid-August, we bade a tearful farewell to Sister Rachel Delong, who has been with us for just short of two years. She arrived here with Sister Destanie Kuehl in August of 2018 to help us at the cafe in Kimbolton. Sister Rachel thought that she would spend three months with us. God had different plans in store for her though, and those three months kept getting extended for nearly two years! During her time with us, Sister Rachel helped us in many ways, from serving delicious Jamaican chicken tacos at Hansen’s cafe, to milking Silky and Sunshine at Mohaka River Farm. Everyone in our fellowship misses her and we all hope the borders of our countries reopen soon so that she can return to be with us again. 

Anticipating Spring’s Arrival

Spring is just around the corner. Already, a number of ornamental cherry trees and other similar trees are beginning to blossom, a sign of warm weather approaching. Just a few days ago, we had a balmy day where the temperature remained around 19 degrees Celsius (66 degrees Fahrenheit), and 15-degree days are not unusual. The warm weather can be deceptive though. Just a day or two ago, the mercury in the thermometers plunged sharply downward, and next day snow dusted the tops of the nearby Titiokura mountain range. Despite the sharp temperature drops, the days are getting longer (and warmer) and we are already starting to pull up the cover crops in our gardens to prepare for spring planting. 

As we all work together on the blessed earth, a song keeps reverberating in our hearts: 

Along with brothers and sisters, we travel up life’s road, 
A happy band of pilgrims; heaven is our hope. 
And we love this life we’re living, discovering each day 
That the joys of the journey are many on the way. 
And there’s joy in the journey, the good time’s in the going. 
It’s not all in the reaping; yes, there’s plenty in the sowing. 
Taking pleasure in the progress we make from day to day, 
Oh there’s joy in the journey, and heaven’s on the way! 
~from Encore Trax “Joy In The Journey” 

Looking Up, Waaay Up 

On clear nights, the Milky Way spans majestically overhead framed by the mountains and hills on the horizons. According to many astronomical guidebooks and resources, New Zealand has some of the best night sky views of any country. This results from its position in the Southern Hemisphere, the lack of light-pollution caused by major cities and its distance from any other major sources of artificial light. 

Looking up at the pristine night sky from our farm, it is easy to believe the guidebooks. On moonless nights, the Milky Way glows intensely with the light of the countless stars that form it. One of the most simple but enjoyable nighttime activities is just to stand outside and trace the luminous chains, swirls and dust lanes that make up our home galaxy. Thanks to New Zealand’s location, the Milky Way is visible at all times of the year. This gives Brother Oscar ample opportunity to photograph the objects up there with his telescope and camera. 

While the Idaho team was here, the Orion Nebula (M42 in the formal system) was nicely placed to photograph it with the long exposures needed to capture it on camera. 

Another fun activity with a camera at night is to capture the movement of the stars, resulting in what is called “star trails.” (The camera is on a tripod taking a hundred 30-second exposures with a wide-angle lens.) 

Brother Oscar hopes that he will be able to get some of his nighttime photos printed on cards to sell at the Mohaka River Farm reception.