Monday, May 26, 2008

Graduating, Summer School, and Going to the Allergist

Over the past year or so, we here at PotterVilla Academy have known that someday, one of our students would finish school. What we haven't known, however, is whether he or she would graduate. Yes, the student would be done with school, but graduating really a good thing? The question has arisen concerning whether graduation is a human tradition ("since you died with Christ to the basic principles of this world, why, as though you still belonged to it, do you submit to it's rules" --like graduating) or whether it is a legitimate landmark--a standing stone perhaps--recognizing the completion of this segment of life. So, for the past few days, I have been thinking that I would query some of the wise people that traverse the agrarian circles of the internet.

As far as I can tell (from a quick Google search), the graduation ceremony was first practiced by monasteries in the middle ages. From my knowledge of the spiritual state of the middle ages, being practiced by monasteries does not make it a spiritual tradition. However, being practiced by monasteries does not make it a human tradition ether. Another avenue might be that, whether it started as a human tradition or not, it has become one today. Well, I cannot think of (or find) a single high school that doesn't graduate it's students, public, homeschool, private, catholic, or whatever. That still doesn't mean anything, since everybody doing it doesn't make God like it. By the way, I can't seem to find any biblical reference to a ceremony that involved Jewish young men who were finishing their schooling. However, I haven't read through the full bible looking for this, so I might have missed something. :-) I would be thrilled if someone had a reference. The Jews did, however, have such rituals as Bar-Mitzvah.

Over this past winter, I haven't accomplished as much in the way of academics as I intended, so tomorrow, I'm starting voluntary summer school. The plan is to finish up the advanced physics course that I started, but only finished about a third, and to do the last few lessons of my trig math book, then start on calculus. We have grown lax in our verse memorization (which never worked out as originally planned; we never really worked on it as a family), so I would like to start working hard on that again, possibly at the dinner table. We will be reviewing Colossians and starting on Ephesians(?). And then there is art...maybe something we do this time will actually work out.

Last Wednesday, I went to see the local allergist. After doing a skin test (a skin test is to people with allergies as a spinal tap is to people with cancer) he prescribed a nasal spray that seems to be helping. We'll see if it cleans out my sinuses. Of course, he gave the normal allergist speech: 'get rid of your dog and cat, change your bed once a week, take a shower every day, get an air purifier, vacuum every day, don't go out side in the summer, ware a gas mask, etc.' He didn't go as far as the going outside and gas mask, but came pretty close. :-) He also was very complementary to natural remedies--he said that none of them work, practical or not.

Here's a verse:
"Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.

Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you."
- Matthew 5:1-12, NIV

If you get a chance, read the rest of the chapter, and yea, even to the end of the sermon. It's good.

Striving to follow Him--albeit weakly--


P.S. to those looking for a good laugh, check out what the Amish do when no one's looking: The Deliberate Agrarian

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Chicken Tractors, Whizbang Adventures and Growth in the Garden

Well it's been a while since I've posted, but as always seems to happen in the spring, we've somehow become rather busy....not sure how that happens, however it appears to be a common affliction; especially among the more rural (agrarian) segment of the population.

[Note: To aid in organization I am going to insert headers (of sorts) in to this post--hope it's not too distracting :-) ]

Chicken Tractors (and chicks too)

Some time back I ordered the first batch of broiler chicks and they arrived on Monday May 19th. Before they arrived I thought I'd better have a place for them to live, and so, after a trip to my "lumber yard" (which is actually a
pole barn belonging to a very generous gentleman from church who has a little portable sawmill) I started putting a pen together based on Mr. Joel Salatin's. Here are a few pictures that Jonathan took for me:Here you can see the frame is complete, the basswood siding (sure beats the price of steel!) is up, and I've got one of the front doors covered with chicken wire.
The sheep farmer that I was helping several weeks ago, is also cleaning out a barn for his cousin, and has given me a few things from there. Among them is chicken wire. I was able to stretch one piece of 4' wire to cover each front door. There's a certain technique to it, but it worked out quite well. I secured the wire with one inch dry wall screws driven in at an angle.
Here's another shot of the lovely basswood siding. It started out 1" thick, and then we planed it down to about 1/2"--that really made the colors stand out. It's quite pretty I think.
Here it is temporarily installed behind the garage (for brooding purposes)This is the great brooder--repaired after the great smoldering (near fire) of '08, not too much worse for the wear. The dark stuff on to of the plywood is dirt. For insulation. Less flammable than wood shavings. 'Nuff said.And here's the little peepers settling in for the night:The other chickens are doing quite well--eating, growing, and somehow getting out occasionally. The latter adds some spice to life! We at least have Baxter--the super duper chicken dog. (He has helped me catch a chicken on two separate occasions now--both involved the same not-so-smart, soon-to-be-in-the-freezer rooster! He escaped twice within two or three hours. Just another month or so and the roosters will be the first to try out the Whizbang plucker. Except for the two Buff Orpingtons--I think...)

Which leads me to my next topic....

Whizbang Adventures

I finally started on the 'tub-style mechanical chicken plucker'! The same trip for boards for the chicken tractor, I also got enough lumber for the plucker. I'd purchased the hardware back in February, and ordered parts from Mr. Kimball (I wrote about it here) and then got busy. (helping with lambing and other various and sundry things....) My aunt was able to find me a food grade barrel and so now I'm in business. Sort of....

The plans (as laid out in "Anyone Can Build A Tub-Style Mechanical Chicken Plucker") are quite easy to follow (just make sure to read the entire segment about what your doing before you start in on it--just like any good recipe, for ,oh, say, chocolate chip cookies...) I got the frame whipped out and the barrel cut out in one afternoon (as I recall), and by the time I quit for the night, I had pulled fingers and got the feather plate and shaft assembly bolted together. Then I ran out of parts...I forgot to order the pillow block bearings. I also had to order the driven pulley since they're not available locally. Someone had sent through a website on the yahoo Whizbang plucker
They have really great stuff--really cheap. Even cheaper that McMaster/Carr. I found some great tires that I ordered--10" solid rubber with steel hubs and traction tread for only $6.95 each. They come in right and left wheels. I got them to mount wheels on the plucker, because I thought that it was hard enough to pick up and carry around without the feather plate, motor, pulleys and tub --the wheels should make it quite easy to wheel around. (there's also mention of wheels in the plan book) So then one day I stained it and now it looks like this:In this picture you can see the 3/4" rod stock I got for axles: two 3' pieces. One for the plucker, and one for the Whizbang Garden Cart!
Here's a photo documenting the mess :-) That means progress!
Dad and I went to the big consignment sale the first part of this month. I've gone for several years, and every year it keeps getting bigger and bigger. That's where I bought the blue plastic barrels in the background. They make the best movable work tables! Just the right height. I also got three steel barrels, a potato planter (it's really nifty gadget), and a couple of buckets of assorted fencing junk. Dad got a neat little table top drill press (one that you mount a electric drill in) and we also bought 13 boxes of canning jars! 24 1/2gal and 9 boxes of quarts. (now we just need a pressure canner) Not a bad haul. It filled the truck right up. (you'll notice we mostly bought containers!)

Any way, back to the plucker...

My Uncle gave me a motor:
A big old green beast!
I also have some Ideas for a semi-portable butchering station which involves this old slate counter top that another friend gave me....
There's three pieces, and I think that if I put two on one side of an old deep porcelain sink that I can get for free, it should work pretty slick....

Well on to....

Growth in the Garden

The onions are coming along nicely, and the tomatoes are starting to take off again after I transplanted them into the hoop house. One kind of peas are coming up, and we had some fresh lettuce on our hamburgers the other night. The radishes are coming along nicely in two waves, as is the lettuce, and the beans in the hoop house are up two or three inches. Here's a look into the hoop house:
And these are the onions:

Another gentleman from church (the one I cut wood with) is letting us put a big garden in over at his house. The one garden is about 180' long by 80' wide. We can also use part of the spot where is regular garden is. He's very generous. In fact a lot of people are being very generous to us/me. I feel that God it really blessing me through them.

And speaking of blessings, Mr. Shropshire over at Promised Land has recently posted a really great essay on a vital topic. I would encourage you to read and dwell on it, if you have not already. (read the comments too--there's another whole post down there)

Well that's all for now....

Until next time--May He who is able to do more that we can ever imagine bless you and yours, grant your desires and shelter you under his wings.


Saturday, May 24, 2008

Happy Birthday Grama!!!

We want you to know that we didn't forget your birthday--we're just a little late with the flowers :-)

You've had your share of trials and hardships in this life, but you have overcome them. You've been a Mother to your children, a fun loving game-playing Grama to your grandchildren, and now you're also a Great-Grandma. But through it all you've stayed faithful to your Lord and Savior, remaining a good example for your family. Keep on keeping on.

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us [YOU], to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. Eph 3:20-21

Sending loads of love,

Your family

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Fire Rainbow!? & etc...

Well, I finally have something to blog about. Looking south over our house, I believe I have seen a fire rainbow! What a gift from God!

According to Wikipedia,

A circumhorizontal arc or circumhorizon arc (CHA), also known as a fire rainbow, is a halo or an optical phenomenon similar in appearance to a horizontal rainbow, but in contrast caused by the refraction of light through the ice crystals in cirrus clouds.

It occurs only when the sun is high in the sky, at least 58° above the horizon, and can only occur in the presences of cirrus clouds. It can thus not be observed at locations north of 55°N, except occasionally from mountains.[1]

The phenomenon is quite rare because the ice crystals must be aligned horizontally to refract the high sun. The arc is formed as light rays enter the horizontally-oriented flat hexagonal crystals through a vertical side face and exit through the horizontal bottom face. It is the 90° inclination that produces the well-separated rainbow-like colours and, if the crystal alignment is just right, makes the entire cirrus cloud shine like a flaming rainbow.[2][1]

A circumhorizontal arc can be confused with an infralateral arc when the sun is high in the sky; the former is however always oriented horizontally where the latter is oriented as a section of a rainbow, e.g. as an arc stretching upwards from the horizon.[2]

I checked the pictures of infralateral arcs, and this wasn't it. Although I realize that this rainbow in the sky wasn't nearly as bright as some of the ones documented across the internet, I doubt that I will ever see one again--a circumhorizontal arc, the rarest of all meteorological phenomena!

Pretty Cool, huh?

One of our music providers has gone off line, so all we have on the blog right now is bluegrass. Sigh... ;-)

Lets see...there are some flowers out, so here's some pictures of them:

These are just a few of the little wonders God has scattered across our yard.

Here's a picture of our front sign (the one mom painted):
And one of the beloved dog who wishes that I would quit taking pictures and play with him. :-)
Speaking of the dog, I reciently found some pictures of him from before he came to our house:

And here are matthew's chicks (more due to arrive Monday):
Some of those chickens(by my reckoning) have got to be from the weirdest parts of God's creation.

Finally, Matthew's newly revised (and much sturdier [he replaced his 12 1/2" pvc pipe hoops with 6 1" steel pipes {bent to spec--he went over to the gentleman from church's house and curved them on his trailer--and anchored to the ground via fence posts}]) hoop house:

And now I'm running out of pictures.

The DSL Chronicles

Every spring through fall, our DSL internet service becomes spotty. This year, with mom teaching Koreans English, we need better than spotty. So, we(she) have been constantly on the phone with the central office, or shepherding a tech around the house(technically, the service people shouldn't need to be kept track of, but some of the ones we get need to be told where the mouse is at the computer[really, it's true!] even though we keep it on a tray like most people do). One tech even came on the phone with the people at headquarters to tell me to undo what he did when he was here. Good thing I was watching. :-)

There was a really nice, knowledgeable guy (definitely a divine blessing) out from AT&T (the owners of the phone line, but unfortunately, not providers of DSL in this area) who checked all the lines for faults, and came up with no problems. He even told us all the technical information to relay to the service provider to backup his story. However, we still cannot seem to reliably and speedily connect to the internet, like we can all winter.

As their last possible fix(or so they say), the service provider is going to order a new line from the roadside box to our house. There's not much else we can do ether after they throw up their hands, as they seem to be the only DSL provider in this area. The cable line stops up the road, and satellite has too much of a lag. We could look into getting an air card(which gets internet from the cell towers)but that is pretty expensive.

The Close of Band

We had our last band rehearsal on yesterday, and the concert is next Monday. We are playing(not necessarily in this order):

The William Bird Suite(movements 1 and 6)
Abrams Pursuit
Liberty Bell
The 1812 Overture
Marche Hongroise
Salute to America's Finest

I'm not sure what we will do in the way of brass music over the summer, but we might startup the PotterVilla a Capriccio again.

Friends, Children, Countrymen!

We had some friends from the UP (that's the upper peninsula to non-Michiganders--we live in the lower peninsula) come down to visit us for the homeschool conference. We got to look after four of their five kids while they went to the big city for the conference. Compared to 'normal' kids, these guys (actually more girls, as they only have one boy out of five) are very well behaved, and a joy to have over the weekend. When they come is one of the only times we get out the knex(see and build stuff. Since the toys follow basic building principles, it's pretty easy to build some BIG stuff. While they were here, we built a ferris wheel that stood about three feet high (we have built stuff that scraped the ceiling--and higher). There was some smaller stuff to come out of the weekend too, but not worthy of mention. I plan (if I ever get around to it) to make mother a knex spinning wheel out of the pretty hefty circular center. Knex is sturdy enough that I think it could actually be pretty useful. :-) Mother has this thing about standing up (it's a miracle that she can even walk, due to a back problem, and a risky surgery--but more on that another day) so a drop spindle doesn't work the greatest for her. Ether treadled or motorized, I think a knex spinning wheel would do the trick without costing a fortune. Mom doesn't even know if she likes spinning yet, so the less investment the better.

While the kids were here, Matthew and I slept on the floor, him in his little closet/plant growing room, and me in the office/music room. It wasn't the most comfortable, but we managed. That way, the four oldest kids could sleep in our room. Their parents slept downstairs in the guest/exercise room (notice that a lot of rooms have two functions? it's the key to a useful house) with the youngest. We had contemplated sleeping outside, but since the weather was iffy, and we ended up not venturing out.

Current Events

Right now, Matthew is building outside (ether a chicken tractor, a whizzbang chicken plucker, a whizzbang garden cart, or something else I'm not aware of :-), mom is upstairs doing something I'm not aware of, and dad is somewhere I'm not aware of. Our internet is very spotty now, making it difficult to do web programing. Blogger seems to make it through some though.

Self imposed summer school starts several weeks from now, when I can hopefully finish up my advanced physics and trig. Also on the agenda, calculus, art (one of these times, I may finally learn how to draw!) and music should help fill in the time in between doing computer work, helping keep up outside, and operating my brother's and mine lawn mowing business, dubbed PotterVilla Acres lawn care services. We mow about three of four lawns over the summer (mostly for widows from church, so we don't charge much--however the price of gas is beginning to change that :-<).

Concluding Thoughts

I'm afraid I didn't follow my last post's advice very well, and sorry for the long post. We did have a lot to catch up on, though. :-)

Let's finish off with a verse(actually 2):

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

Makes for a nice end of a long post, doesn't it? When the Apostle Paul wrote it, it was in the middle of a letter to the Ephesians. I still like it at the end.

Anyway, we'll talk to you all later (whether by reading your blog or in the comments of blogs or whatever :-) and hope all you mothers out there had a wonderful day devoted to you by people who are always devoted to you.

Thanks for reading,

In His name,

For His glory,

And trying to follow His path,

Jonathan Potter
for PotterVilla Academy

Friday, May 9, 2008

Ecclesiastical Wisdom

The more the words, the less the meaning, and how does that profit anyone?
- Ecclesiastes 6:11

Friday, May 2, 2008

The Desire of the Righteous

This is something that hit me the other day when I was reading in Proverbs the other morning:

"The desire of the righteous ends only in good, but the hope of the wicked only in wrath."--Proverbs 11:23

I read that, stopped and thought wow! The desire of the righteous ends only in good! And then I looked in my footnotes and they said to look at chapter 10 verses 24 and 28:

"What the wicked dreads will overtake him; what the righteous desire will be granted."
--Proverbs 10:24

"The prospect of the righteous is joy, but the hopes of the wicked come to nothing."--Proverbs 10:28

Now if the Bible says something once, it's true. But if it says basically the same thing three times in a row?--God must really want to get the point across. (some days I need that--I didn't really catch it until the third time!) And while all our righteousness is like filthy rags, God looks at us (those who have been sanctified, saved by grace, and redeemed) through the filter of his son's blood--in his sight we are righteous. That means that our desires will be granted. That's huge. The God over all the universe, maker of heaven and earth, is promising to grant our desires.

Now we do need to be careful, while He sees us as righteous, we still have a sin nature and so not all of our "desires" are righteous. We must not think that God will just give us every little thing we want. That would make us lazy and selfish, and God doesn't operate that way--He wants (and acts for) what is for our good.

But if our desires are good and pure, ones that He Himself has implanted into our hearts--they
will be granted.

That means that there is hope for my dreams--and yours. Not that we can just sit back and expect a huge farm or whatever to be dropped in our laps, no we need to keep working to gain our goals, but we can reasonably expect our desires to be fulfilled. Not in our time but in God's time. "He has made everything beautiful in
His time." Ecclesiastes 3:11 So it may not be in our lifetimes, but if we follow His leading, our goals, our dreams, our desires will be accomplished.

What an encouragement! Isn't God good?


P.S. Sorry for the formating--I've fought with it for quite a while now and I'm giving up!