Hello everyone! The complete restoration of the “Peck House” (named after Captain Augustus Peck) has been finished. Built in Middlebury, Connecticut, in 1783, it was taken apart and moved to Deary last summer where a crew (under Brother Kevin Durkin’s care) restored it to its original beauty. The defining feature of the house, its massive stone chimney, was carefully rebuilt by Brother Gary Moore, along with the brick oven, excellent for baking pizza.
The house features original hand-hewn oak timbers, doors and woodwork, and new 12-over-12 pane windows. The accommodations sleep six, with one king-size bed in the second-floor loft, a full-size bed in the original first-floor bedroom and a queen-size sofa bed. The full kitchen opens to the dining and living area, and the back addition includes a screened porch facing the surrounding pine forest. The house includes two full baths and radiant floor heat. It is available for guests to rent on Airbnb.
Forging an Idaho-Virginia Bond
In late January, the John French family traveled to visit the community in Nickelsville, Virginia. They were away two weeks and shared a wonderful time with the brothers and sisters there. We hope to see more of the Virginia folks here in Idaho. During our peak months of summer, we will employ about five additional bakers, baristas and servers at the bakery. We are always looking for fresh recruits!
Welcoming New Neighbors
The Reed family has joined us in Idaho! Sister Sarah and her son Noah arrived from Texas right after the Tindell wedding and are living in a small house in Deary. A moving truck was rented and driven here with all of their belongings. Upon arrival a group of young people unloaded the truck, helped unpack and moved Sarah and Noah into their new home. Welcome back to cold country! (Sister Sarah is originally from Maine.)
Upgrading Pie Safe, Community Buildings
When the Pie Safe building was first completed, there was room in the back to house the offices for the Pie Safe, Creamery and Quality Contractors. But, as the bakery and creamery have grown, they have run out of space for storage in the back. So the offices moved across the street to the rear of the Heritage Fine Crafts building. The void in the Pie Safe building was quickly filled when the contents of the shipping room next door (which served as a temporary storage room) were emptied into the former office space. The shipping room has returned to its original purpose.
We are in the process of finishing out the upstairs of the community building into a conference/office room. After the building was completed in the fall of 2019, the upstairs was forgotten about until this winter. We began the construction over a month ago and progress on it whenever we get a chance.
The Borman boys are making two custom wood doors, and we have just finished installing shiplap on the walls. The young sisters are making useful furnishings to enhance the space, such as baskets, table runners and a throw for the couch. It will have a small bathroom, utility room, storage closet and main room with a desk and furniture.
Since the building is already somewhat under construction, we have emptied it and are lightly sanding the beams to their original color. The sanding process has created quite a dust bath! We will apply a clear coat of finish to the beams as a final touch.
Celebrating a Wedding
In late February, a few families traveled to Texas to attend the wedding of Brother Joe Tindell and Sister Amanda Nolen. The newlyweds will stay in Texas for a few months and then come to live in Idaho where they will be a great asset. We can hardly wait!
Prior to the wedding, we hosted a groom’s fellowship for Brother Joe. A good time was had by all.
Early in the season we received several big snows, but the cold was not deep enough for it to stay long- term. It took some time, but after a relatively mild early winter season, real winter finally hit northern Idaho. We received 75% of our snow in February. March is warming up, and spring is just around the corner.
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.
The annual rush to get winter tires installed on vehicles at Deary Automotive has passed. Appointments were two weeks out in October and November. The workers stayed very busy swapping out tires along with the usual car repairs and emergencies.
Celebrating a Double Birthday
On November 9 several couples gathered to celebrate the 70th birthday dinner for Brother Tony and Sister Pat. After the meal a group of young folks arrived to sing. In many of our youth singing endeavors we realize that we are not professionals. This particular evening we sang a couple songs that we did not really know well yet. That, along with an echo in the shop where the party was held, created an interesting beat and prompted much laughter. Nevertheless, Brother Tony and Sister Pat felt blessed, encouraging us to continue allowing God to lead us in our music and in our lives.
Continuing with Autumn Projects
A final cleaning took place at the Hendersons’ log home on November 5 once Legacy Contractors completed the 18-month project. They are also nearing completion on the Peck House that we mentioned in the last newsletter. The interior walls are ready for paint. The massive fireplace is near completion as well.
The new shop for Deary Automotive has taken shape in December. The 60-by-80-foot steel-frame building is roofed and nearly dried in.
The Bormans’ new workshop is under construction and advancing. The shop will include a woodworking space and a blacksmithing area along with room for other crafts as well. Every clear day found us hard at work on the roof framing, underlayment, decking and installing the roofing. We continue to make progress inside the building on inclement weather days.
We hope that you all are well as we look forward to all that God will do in us and through us in 2021!
We have participated in much activity this year, from the Northern Hemisphere to the Southern Hemisphere. A good place to start is several months back.
Heading for New Zealand
In early February, some of Brother Webb‘s family, Brother John and Sister Grace, Brother Daniel Anzaldua, Brother Gabe French and part of the Borman family flew to New Zealand to meet and help our brothers and sisters there.
What a full three weeks we experienced! Crossing the equator transported us straight from winter into summer. The abrupt change of seasons took a little getting used to. But that was just the beginning. We also had to adjust to using the metric system of measurement, driving on the left side of the road and piloting vehicles from the right-hand seat. We laughed many times as we sat on the passenger side expecting to find a steering wheel and a gas pedal.
Learning New Vocabulary
We had to master the use of certain words to understand the native speakers. For example, we loved having a cuppa (a cup of tea) anytime day or night. We also learned that mum is the lady who bore us, not a pretty flower; 2×4 boards are 45mmx90mm; a vehicle’s trunk is the boot; a bonnet is a vehicle’s hood; a truck is a ute; new cars are flash; and tea happens at dinner.
If something falls apart, it goes to custard; sausage sizzles take the place of picnics; pudding is dessert; if you cut yourself (have an oopsie), you need a plaster, not a bandaid; and if it is dark, take your torch, not your flashlight.
You fill the car with petrol, not gasoline; tuck in to your meal, take out the rubbish; put on your jumper if you are chilly (not your sweater); wear jandals on the beach, not flip-flops; and eat kiwi fruits, which are delicious, but kiwis not so much!
You cook dinner on the hob, not the stove; sweep the floor with a shovel and brush, not with a dustpan and broom; and kill flies with a fly whip, not with a swatter.
We learned to push a baby in a buggy (after changing his nappy, not his diaper); to feed him biscuits, not cookies; and to clean his face with a flannel instead of a wash rag.
Improving the Campground
We arose early to pray together, cook and start the day. The sisters prepared huge breakfasts and lunches. Each of these meals allowed us to enjoy being together as we told stories, laughed and planned the rest of the day.
We completed various projects while there. Many batches of concrete were poured in several different places at Mohaka River Farm. All of the batches were mixed by hand! We framed a tiny house for the Lattimore family and remodeled two camp kitchens, a cabin and several sheds.
All of the improvements enhanced their beautiful campground. The beauty is not just earthly. Looking up at night revealed the pulsing stars of the Southern Hemisphere such as the Southern Cross, the large and small Magellanic Clouds and the curious Coalsack Nebula. It is little wonder that the campground remains busy. At one Sunday gathering, visitors were present from the Solomon Islands, Samoa, the United States, Holland and Korea.
Seeing the Sights and Relaxing
Though many of the days and evenings required work, we still found time for some relaxation. We enjoyed refreshing dips in the Mohaka River on the hottest afternoons, several horse treks with Sister Fleur, swims in the warm South Pacific Ocean and even a rafting adventure. We toured many beautiful spots on the North Island, including Karangahake Gorge, Whakarewarewa Redwood Grove, Lake Taupo, Huka Falls, and Mount Mairangi Beach.
On most evenings, the youth gathered in the conference center to sing and play music together. We enjoyed delicious meals and meaningful conversation in each home. Five families generously hosted all 16 of us. As we sang and shared, we rejoiced in the unity and love with which God bound our hearts together.
Returning to the United States
What a sad day it was to say good-bye, but the love we feel between us remains, and we cannot wait to see them all again. (We had to tootle on and get going. No worries for sure, we are not gobsmacked that we love the New Zealanders heaps and heaps and chockablock and are keen on them, not just a wee bit!)
Coming Home to COVID-19
The day we arrived home, the United States shut down because of COVID-19. We turned our attention to working together to plant our gardens and make crafts. As we ran behind the plow dropping seed potatoes and corn into the freshly dug furrows, we considered all of the people quarantined at home in the big cities. We gave thanks for the wonderful place God has given us to live and work together!
Adapting to New Circumstances
The Pie Safe Bakery, Brush Creek Farms, and Creamery businesses adapted to the quarantine restrictions. They developed a thriving delivery system each Saturday, providing fresh cheeses, meats, eggs, baked goods, canned goods, crafts and even pre-made meals to a growing number of patrons.
Now that lockdown restrictions have eased, the bakery continues to host customers from around the world as well as many locals. Our special Saturday evening meals each month are filled to capacity. Our aim is to offer our guests the best dining experience possible. Breakfast and lunchtime, on the remaining days, find the bakery full of happy customers who desire cooking made from scratch. Patrons are also pleased to peruse a wide selection of handmade crafts and quilts.
Appreciating Simple Pleasures
The quarantine time has allowed us to deepen relationships in many ways. Our youth are learning to sing and play more instruments together. Our young people now provide a big part of the music for our Friday night shared times. The visitors who gather with us feel the expression of love in the music. We have regular guests from as far away as Japan and Israel and from around the United States, such as California and Oregon.
Simple pleasures such as milking our family cows and teaching our children at home lift our spirits with rejoicing. We gratefully sing for the elderly folks who are unable to venture out. On many Sundays, because large assemblies are restricted, we gather in small groups around a bonfire, singing and sharing together.
Celebrating a Wedding Engagement
Brother Isaac French and Sister Helen Lancaster became engaged in mid July. The entire Lancaster family visited for two wonderful weeks, allowing us all to get to know Isaac and Helen as an engaged couple.
One evening, the community showered them with a shared meal and many presents. We all sat together under the same starry sky that many faithful generations before us have witnessed.
Harvesting a Bountiful Supply
Here in late summer we daily harvest from our gardens and greenhouses large piles of lettuces, chard, spinach, herbs, tomatillos, squash, cucumbers, onions, garlic, broccoli, cauliflower, beets, tomatoes, carrots, cabbages, green beans and fresh-cut flowers. Various fruits are ripening now: raspberries, strawberries, currants, blackberries, blueberries, cherries, plums and apricots.
Other crops that will soon ripen include potatoes, corn, dried beans, sugar beets, melons and eggplants. Following that, the fall cabbages, more greens of every type and Brussels sprouts will grace our tables and fill our larders.
Building More Sustainable Lives
The Frenches recently purchased an old wooden train car built originally in 1908. They cleaned and restored the musty and dilapidated car, both inside and out, with the help of skilled and willing friends. The car transformed into a beautiful destination rental by the diligent hands of many craftsmen. We look forward to hosting guests in the cozy car for the years to come!
Our community has revamped an old, rotting shed into a cozy guest cottage and cleared deep woods to develop homesites.
Several water systems received new aspects, including sand filters and gravity-fed irrigation from our existing ponds. We also built new ponds for several families on their homesteads.
We built a commercial greenhouse to provide food for the Pie Safe Bakery and Brush Creek Farms.
Construction is still ongoing for two new homes, a family workshop and a new shop/office for Deary Automotive.
Feeling Autumn’s Approach
The first mild frost nipped several gardens on August 12, which reminded us of the need to firm up plans on the building of hoop houses and more greenhouses. Brother Aaron never knows whether to call such summer frosts the first frost—or the last. Even the Potlatch River, which borders the southwest boundary of our community property, is cooling from its summer “warmth.”
The summer blessed us with visits by many of our brothers and sisters from other areas. Thank you for lightening our loads and bringing smiles to our faces.
The lines from a devotional song play in our heads:
I love you Lord, for Your mercy never fails me! All my days I’ve been held in Your hand. From the moment that I wake up until I lay my head, I will sing of the goodness of God. ~from Bethel Music and Jenn Johnson “Goodness of God”
So on we go, singing!
Welcoming Abigail Rose
In early March, Jesse and Ariana Cunningham were blessed with their firstborn, Abigail Rose. She measured 21 1/2 inches and tipped the scales at 7 pounds 4 ounces.
Encountering a Big Cat
One night in July, Zack French went to check his sheep, which he had pastured near the community hall. He was startled to discover a pair of eyes glowing in the pen and a dead sheep nearby. Upon further investigation, and with the help of his dog Tip, he treed a two-year-old mountain lion. Thankfully, the ensuing tussle ended with a dead lion and a live dog!
Watching for Bears
This spring, bears have made themselves known like never before since we have lived here. Almost daily we spot them near our homes, community hall and along the roadsides. It pays to remain vigilant with such critters on the prowl.
Looking Up in Wonder
The comet Neowise has been clearly visible for several weeks. Stargazing is a favorite summer pastime here. But finding a truly dark sky is difficult this time of year because dusk and dawn are only a few hours apart!