This summer has been challenging here on the little homestead God has given us. We knew this path would not always be easy, and this summer has been no exception. Last week we spent a few dinner times praying and fasting as a family, seeking direction and relief from some of the stresses we have felt. The Lord answered in some special ways, and I feel more positive about the future again, even though some hardships are not yet lifted. But God has promised to help us through our difficulties, not necessarily out of them.
One Sunday recently we had a very special time together. Our church’s worship service was switched to the evening before, so Sunday we had an entire day of rest as a family. It was a day to remember!
A few of the girls got up early with Silver Oak and went fishing at the pond. With all the recent rain the pond level has risen dramatically! They caught three little fish, throwing one back because it was too tiny. It was fun even if it wasn’t overly productive. As soon as we can we’d like to stock that little pond with Talapia. Sound good?
After chores and a good breakfast we took a hike through the front seven acres of the property. We wanted to see the pond that is running over, walk through the beautiful woods, and see the lush green grass growing up there. We admired the new solar-powered electric fence Silver Oak just completed on the north side. The grassiest part of our property has been unavailable to our horses and Buttercup (the Jersey cow) until now because there was no north fence to keep them out of our neighbor’s yard.
The weather was absolutely beautiful! Since the first of September we have seemed to turn a corner. It’s been noticeably cooler at night and the mornings stay cool longer. Sometimes it’s not getting really hot till closer to noon. Lovely!
On our hike we met a gopher tortoise. We also found all kinds of tracks…about three sizes of deer tracks, plus coon tracks, large squirrel-type tracks (fox-squirrel?), and some kind of three-toed tracks. We found various plants and herbs, like horsetail (we think), prickly pear cactus, blackberry vines, blooming lantana (which we sadly chopped up because they are poisonous for cows), wax myrtles, and elephants foot (with properties similar to plantain). There is an old falling apart mobile home we got a closer look at, and took pictures of a bee colony living in one of the walls.
When we reached the grassy area near the front of the property the younger children got carried away doing summersaults. It felt luxurious to play in grass, since everything around our house is still sand. We look forward to progressing enough to put some sod down. I didn’t realize how wonderful grass is until living about 10 months without. Sand is better than the palmettos that were here first, but we are all ready for grass!
As the day got hot the children (and Silver Oak) got this crazy idea to swim in the pond. I didn’t grow up swimming in pond water like Silver Oak did, and it took some convincing to get me to go. I worry about snakes, for some reason! But I gave in and off we went to try it. It ended up being a blast! I took pictures until they convinced me to get in near the end.
One bank of the pond rises sharply out of the water, providing a platform to jump from. Most of us are good swimmers, but Silver Oak and Evensong were the only brave ones to swim across the pond and back. Though the water was quite warm, they felt cold water from below in the middle. We are not sure how deep it is.
The high water level made visibility very clear around the edge where we entered, but lots of grass grew around some edges and extended out into the water, although not very tall or thick. There was so much splashing and thrashing by the children that if any snakes were lurking I’m sure they hastily made their escape. It still made me nervous. We’ve learned that water moccasins swim with their bodies on top of the water and their heads up, making them easy to spot unless there are hiding places, like tall, thick grass. Other water snakes are harmless.
We started pulling on grass growing in the water, and discovered it pulled up easily. Some was rooted near the edge but had runners going into the water about 12 feet long. We stood at one place and pulled out lots of grass. In a little time we easily cleared quite a bit.
Back home we showered and the children kept commenting on how much fun they’d had. It is neat that we have our own swimming hole; another alternative for cooling off when air conditioning may not be available. Everyone wants to go again, but it must be with adult supervision so it may have to wait for another family time.
To the children’s delight Silver Oak hung a discarded semi tire from a tree in front of our tiny house. Our pineapple tops are planted all around the same tree, so a few of them have suffered a bit from the extra activity. We’ll just relocate them or plant more next time we get pineapple tops.
The rest of the day was spent relaxing on the deck in the breezeway, or taking naps. It was a time to reflect on the many blessings God has given us as our dream of a sustainable homestead unfolds.
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