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.”
- 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.