Friday, August 9, 2013

Seven Thousand

Think back to the story of Elijah after the Mt Carmel experience, during his flight from Jezebel's wrath. When he finally stops running, he is in Mt. Sinai, and God talks with him there. Elijah, what are you doing here? To this Elijah gives a list of problems, chief of which that Jezebel seeks his life! Then he says, Lord, I am the only one left. No one else serves you! (Read 1 Kings 19:13-18.)

God gives Elijah several tasks, and ends by saying "Yet I have left me seven thousand in Israel, all the knees which have not bowed unto Baal, and every mouth which hath not kissed him." v.18.

When Elijah felt all alone, there were others, many others in God's service. We know that in our day, the close of earths history, God's true followers will feel alone and abandoned. So I think there is truth here in this story that will mirror our experience. There are lessons here that will be relived through our lives today.

Let's be frank. Those who want to serve God have always been a minority. We think of a straight and narrow path leading upward. While on the other hand, there is a broad and easy pathway leading the majority onward. Suffering and persecution is the hallmark of the experience of God's people, and on the surface, this is not the most compelling draw to the carnal mind. In the end times, many will be in lonely and solitary situations. We may not know of another person who is serving God till the very end. We should expect to have the same perception as did Elijah, that there is not another in the whole of the earth who is serving God.

But the Lord gently rebukes Elijah. The very question, "What are you doing here?" indicates God's ideal would have been for Elijah to have been back in Jerusalem. We can imagine there was a lot of work for God to be done in Jerusalem just after Mt. Carmel. But the one man called to that task was no longer there.

Perhaps Elijah made a jump in thinking, that because he was the only one called to represent God on Mt. Carmel, that he was the only one left in  God's service? Let us not make our singular calling equate to the strength of all of God's service. When things look the darkest, God is preparing a dawn. When there seems no way out, God will open a highway right through the middle of a sea. When called to the gallows, God may see fit to use your blood as seed for His kingdom, or He may with miracles rescue you. It matters not to us, but that we stay at our post. To continue at our duty, no matter what happens. Now I am not saying that God's people will not be on the move, as God may direct them. What I am saying, is that we much always be in the center of His will in all we do.

But let's go back for a moment and think of this time period of Elijah. What do we know of some of these seven thousand people? What are their lives like? What lessons can we learn from some of these select followers of God in this time of moral darkness?


There in 1 Kings 19:16, God has told Elijah to anoint Elisha, the son of Shaphat of Abel-meholah to be a prophet in thy room. Surely Elisha is one of these seven thousand! What can we learn about Elisha? Let's read onward in the story.

"So he [Elijah] departed thence, and found Elisha the son of Shaphat, who was plowing with twelve yoke of oxen before him, and he with the twelth:" 1 Kings 19:19. This young man is working. His family has a large farm. For twelve pair of oxen to be working at any one time, tells me this farm is a large operation. Elisha has been groomed as a son to work hard, to organize the servants, to keep the flow of seed time, weeding, harvest, marketing and equipment repair moving along like wheels within wheels. To be a successful farmer, you have to have experience, forethought and organization.

When Elijah finds him, he is out in one of the many fields, planting. Have you thought about how hard the famine would have been upon this Godly family farm? No rain is one of the hardest things to handle, especially when you don't have pumps to move ground water around. Being a true follower of God, perhaps they had been blessed with some rain, but the story makes the drought sound universal.

To rain has returned a few days ago, and Elisha is busy. He had twelve pair of oxen moving. He is organized. He has eleven servants before him, and he is following, directing, organizing and supervising the work. Is this a person who would be a good choice for a leader in God's work? I think so!

And this is the kind of worker you and I must be. I would be remiss in not pointing out that God's best, come from a farm! There are few other occupations where you can be closer to God than by working as a farmer. And not only being a farmer, but a successful farmer at that. A farm large enough that you are required to work hard, to plan ahead. Every foot, every day! And to have time to pray that God will bless the efforts and ripen the harvest.

Little Maid

There is another witness for God in this same time period. Assyria to the north had taken captives, and among these is a young girl, taken to be a servant slave. She was likely under 16 for she is referred to as a little maid, but surely large enough to be useful as a servant. We don't know her age, but we was old enough to work, and therefore was old enough to know what had happened to her family, and why she was now a slave.

Most people today would think of this story as being impossible for a young girl to handle. How could she ever love again? How could she forgive those that took her into slavery and killed her parents? But this young girl shines for God, and demonstrates her belief in His prophets. What do you suppose her home life had been like before that murderous raid? Had her family been part of the seven thousand? I think so!

How else could this young girl have been prepared with a word in season for her masters care and well being? Her master was Naaman, the captain of the king of Assyria, and he contracted leprosy. She says "Would God my lord where with the prophet that is in Samaria! for he would recover him of his leprosy." 2 Kings 5:3.

She shows love for her master, and love for God. She is a beacon of light in a far away land. Her testimony and belief is enough to motivate this high official toward an official delegation visit to the prophet of the Lord, and in the end he is healed. But let's go back a few years. What was the home life of this girl like? How was she raised? The Scripture does not tell us plainly, but we can see the results of this training in the actions and character of this faithful servant. Do you see regular family worships, morning and evening? Do you see a girl who when given a task is able to complete it faithfully? Do you see a girl who has a personal relationship with God, so that when removed from her loving home, God is still with her? God is her God, and God's prophet is still His messenger!

May our homes and our families be ordered like one of these seven thousand!

So, what about today?

"The apostasy today is similar to the one that overspread Israel in Elijah’s day. By exalting the human above the divine, by praising popular leaders, by worshiping money, and by placing science above the truths of revelation, multitudes today are following Baal. Many are substituting human theories for the Word of God. People teach that human reason should be exalted above the teachings of the Word. They declare the law of God to be of no effect. The enemy is working to cause men and women to forget God’s provisions for the happiness and salvation of the human family." – RR 60.5

Let's enumerate these four sources of apostasy:
  1. Exalting the human above the divine
  2. Praising popular leaders
  3. Worshiping money
  4. Placing science above the truths of revelation
Do we see any of these in our day? Notice the end result of these conditions is to declare the law of God to be of no effect. We can see all of these at work in society, and the end result of making the law of God null and void.

I find it interesting that these seven thousand did not know of their true numbers. Some families may have associated together, but largely they were unknown to each other. I encourage you to draw close together with other Christian families and draw from God's Word truth for your daily life. Encourage one another and exhort each other into good works.

Consider starting an outpost where you can draw others into your home circle and give them a glimpse of the sweetness that Jesus wants to impart to all of his children. Draw warmth from the coldness of others, and if possible ignite a few additional coals in the service of God. May we make sure we do not bend the knee or kiss Baal, in all its modern forms.

So how many will there be? I read that there will be 144,000! That is over 20 times the number in Elijah's day. But even with this larger number, I don't think we will have the privilege of knowing each other beyond small groups. I hereby call a reunion in heaven! I am sure we all look forward to that day!

God bless you as you faithfully do your tasks in His service today. Don't worry with numbers, and trust that God's plan is best for your life. Follow his leading, and live entirely for Him.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Recipe: Ketchup

We want to eat home processed foods as much as possible. We want to avoid industrial and chemical processed foods as we are able, so we have started experimenting with creating our own condiments: pickles, ketchup, mayonnaise, etc. We are posting our recipes and experiences for others to stand on our shoulders, and see if together we can come up with something even better!

We prefer to not use vinegar in our cooking. We don't like the taste and I am dubious about the health claims touted about its use. It is created from spoilage, and I don't think rotted food or resulting products need to be a part of our diet. Just my view, I have nothing based in science to back this up.

We do not use a lot of ketchup, but it is nice on baked potatoes and I put a dab on a sandwich. So how to do you make home-made ketchup? Well, I thought it would be easy, but it is not as easy as you would think, especially if you are looking to nix the vinegar.

I tried making ketchup starting with several gallons of tomato puree boiled down to tomato paste. To be completely honest, I started adding ingredients against Sunshine's suggestions, and then I would add a bit more salt to cover the sugar, and so forth. You likely have gotten the idea that it came out a bit stronger than I prefer. I plan to start over with our recipes. Following are four recipes that a close friend shared with us. I hope to try them all, and if possible improve on them. My goal is to end up with a recipe that calls for raw tomatoes rather than tomato juice or paste as referenced in some of these recipes.

Here are the recipes for your review:

Ketchup - Mrs. G. (preferred by our friend who offered these recipes)

6 oz Tomato paste
1 tsp salt
3 Tbsp olive oil
3 Tbsp lemon juice
2 Tbsp honey
1/2 tsp garlic powder or 1 clove fresh
1 tsp onion powder
1/2-3/4 cup water

Place all ingredients in container and stir well

Ketchup - Uncle George

Tomato Juice. 1/2 cup
Tomato Paste. 1/2 cup
Onion pwd. 1/8 tsp
Lemon jc, fresh. 1/3 cup
Brown Sugar 3. tbsp
Salt. 1 tsp
Garlic powder. 1/16 tsp
Coriander. 1/16 tsp
Flavored Season salt. 1/2 tsp
Blend above all together in blender.

Instant clear gel. 1tsp. Add to blender while it is running.

A garden vegetarian sandwich in a pita.
Ketchup- Mrs. B.

2 cups tomato sauce
1-6oz can tomato paste
1/4 cup sweetener
2 1/2 Tbsp lemon juice
2 Tbsp Braggs
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp celery salt
1/2 tsp basil

Blend all ingredients together until smooth.
Place in saucepan. Bring to boil and simmer 20 minutes stirring occasionally.
May be frozen.

Ketchup - Mrs. P.

6 oz tomato paste
6 oz water
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp sucanat
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp basil
1/2 tap oregano
1/4 tsp garlic

Blend well.

Another attempt: (2013)

Well, it is a new harvest year, and time to experiment again with home-made ketchup. My goal is to start with raw tomatoes and not use store purchased tomato paste. Today we started with Roma tomatoes blended smooth, and measured out 4 cups of raw puree.

We boiled down the puree in a large sauce pan to tomato paste. (Take care not to burn it!) I am guessing we ended up with around 1 3/4 cups of tomato paste.

To the tomato paste we added:
  • 1 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp celery salt
  • 1/2 tsp brags aminos
  • 1 tsp Italitan seasoning
  • 1/4 tsp onion powder
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder

Our testimony on this batch is that the entire batch was finished off before the end of one meal. (See pic above as proof. :) I think the mixture had slightly more salt than needed. Also I am not sure the Italian seasoning did much for the mixture. I will try removing it from the next batch.

Yet another try:

Emboldened by the success of this morning, I have enlarged the batch, and used some fresh ingredients:
  • 12 cups tomato puree
  • 3 Tbsp sugar
  • 3 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 Tbsp salt
  • 1 tsp celery salt
  • 1 tsp brags aminos
  • 1 Tbsp fresh onion (blend with tomatoes)
  • 1 medium garlic clove (blend with tomatoes)

Monday, August 5, 2013

Cool Dry Summer

The weather in our neck of the woods has been quite a puzzle this year. We had a cooler and very wet spring, then a few weeks of really hot weather (90's) and Indian summer (pleasant days, cool nights) since then. It has felt like fall for weeks now. The really important factor for gardening has been the lack of rain for the past month. The weather has been so cool that warm living plants have not grown as well we are used to seeing.

Watermelons are a month behind last year. We have planted the melons amid the fruit trees which is wood chip mulched. Perhaps the wood chips are cooler for the vines to grow over, and we wonder if this is a part of their slow growth.

Harvests through August 6th
  • Strawberries, raspberries provided a great harvest.
  • Blue Berries provided a sample crop, which was tasty.
  • Tomatoes are in good supply, though we have not canned any as of yet.
  • We are getting plenty of green beans for fresh eating, but not enough yet for preserving.
  • Peppers seem slow, though there are some that have matured.
  • Beets have been good, but seem a bit small and have been drought stressed on occasion.
  • Potatoes are ready to dig.
  • Okra has been on for a few weeks, an d the supply is increasing as the plants enlarge.
  • Onions and Garlic provided a nice crop. We are not sure how well the onions will store over winter. Some may have been sun burned during curing.
  • Zuchinni squash plants have survived perfectly this year in the green house. No die off from squash vine borers! Pollination is by hand, which is a consistent task. Un-pollinated squash just shrivel on the vine like blossom end rot.
  • We also put our cucumbers in the green house, and they are climbing up a net on the back wall (see pic above). This is working well, but pollination (or lack of it) may be decreasing the volume of harvest. No cucumber wilt seen yet!

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Bee Hive Boxes & Frames

This year we are blessed to have seven active bee hives on our micro farm. We expanded till we had used all of our existing hive bodies and supers. So, we ordered some more un-assembled hive parts, and will post about putting them together.

We get our bee supplies from Mann Lake (, and they have a referral program that pays a small percentage. If you place an order, enter my "BeeBucks" number: 208208. Thanks!

Hive Bodies and Supers

The Langstroth hive dimensions were established in 1852, and I like this stackable system of hive growth and enlargement. There are two outside dimensions: one that will hold 10 frames (the most common) measuring: 16 1/4" by 19 7/8". The other option is the 8 frame body measuring 14" by 19 7/8". I started with the 10 frame size, and the parts are not interchangeable. I would go with the 10 frame size if I were starting out, as I have been able to pick up used equipment on occasion, and all the options I have ever come across are 10 frame.

We have two options for the height of the boxes, with the "deep" being the standard for the brood chambers, and deeps or the smaller "super" being for the honey collection. The only advantage of a smaller height is that the box full of honey would weigh less as you move it around for processing. For several years we only used deeps for all our boxes (brood and honey), but deeps full of honey are heavy! So this year we are trying some smaller honey supers as well.

The deep hive bodies:
  • 9 5/8" tall hive bodies
  • 9 1/8" frames
  • 8 1/2" foundation
The deep bodies and super boxes are assembled with glue and galvanized 7d nails.

The honey supers:
  • 6 5/8" supers
  • 6 1/4" frames
  • 5 5/8 foundation
The frames are assembled with glue at all joints. 1 1/4" nails are used to attach top bars and bottom bars to end bars. 3/4" nails are used to attach bottom bars to end bars or under the frame ear going from the end bar into the top bar.

Hive bases, screen boards, queen excluders, inner cover, outer covers are purchased assembled.

Bee Vacuum

We have made a bee vacuum, which has proved invaluable for swarm capture and hive removal. I will show you how we made ours, and offer to make one for you assembled if you would like. We will build and sell our assembled bee vacuum for $125, shipping included to USA street addresses. (Post a comment on this blog with your email address, and we will contact you for more details and payment info.) If you have the time and materials, it is not hard to make your own.

Our Bee Vacuum is composed of a top box with a connection hole for a standard shop vac to provide the suction. In the center of the unit, you place a standard hive body with frames to contain and occupy the bees drawn into the chamber. Then at the bottom there is a slanted board deep at the front where there is a hole for the bee suction hose, and shallow at the back to encourage the bees to draw up to into the frames. We use pool hose for our bee suction tube, it is smooth inside the hose to ease trauma to the bees in suction. The customer would supply their own hive body and shop vac.

Now let's look at the top and bottom unit in more detail. The top box is 4" in height, and has the outside dimensions of a standard 10 frame hive body (16 1/4" by 19 7/8"). The standard shop vac suction hose has a 3" diameter, and we cut a 3" hole into the back side of the unit. The lower surface, we install a fiberglass screen to keep any curious bees from being drawn out into the shop vac. The upper surface, we permanently install a Plexiglas cover. This allows you to monitor the bee density and activity from the outside, looking down through the screen into the hive body which is collecting the bees. Also into this top unit we install a suction relief valve in case the shop vac is producing more suction than you want. Opening this relief valve will bypass some of the suction.

The lower unit is the same outside dimensions, and 4" in height. This allows us to drill a 2" hole into the front face of this unit that will accept the pool hose. If any of the hose connections are not air tight, we use a round of masking tape which will seal up the mating surfaces. Pool hose can be obtained in 30' lengths, and we cut ours in two for a short suction hose, and the other being a longer suction hose. into the floor of the lower unit, we placed an inclined inner floor, sloping from the intake hole being its greatest height to very shallow at the back end of the unit. This slope gives the bees a convenient way to walk up the ramp and into the hive body and frames. The inner mating surfaces of the units have a weather strip as a gasket to help preserve the suction. The entire unit is held tightly together with a ratchet strap.

We have completed several trials of our bee vacuum with excellent results. After sucking up an entire feral hive, we found only a few dead bees in the lower unit. The bees remained happy and healthy to this day. Installing the bees into the bee yard is an easy process, as you do not have to transfer bees to a new box. We simply remove the vacuum top unit, and then move the bee filled hive body into its final position in the bee yard. The bees are already "home" when you vacuumed them into the hive body. We also really like being able to look into the vacuum and see how things are progressing during the removal, a feature we have not seen in any other bee vacuum out there.

We found it important not to suction bees that are coated with honey. In one occasion, we found this developed into a clump of bees in the middle of the suction hose. The pool hose we currently use is not clear plastic, so other than suction decreasing it was not immediately easy to tell what was happening. With care to not suck in honey covered bees, we have not had this problem again. When finished removing bees, we remove the suction tube from the bottom unit, and close it off so bees do not escape.Then you can turn off and remove the shop vac hose from the top unit. Keep all three units (top, hive body, bottom unit) all tightly strapped together until you are ready to install the bees in your bee yard.

(pics coming soon)

Candles and Soap

This year our family farm has experimented with bees wax candles and soap making. Our soaps contain honey and bees wax. We may consider selling home made bars of soap and candles, dependent on demand. We will make a separate post on these activities in the future.

Hive Activities for August

August is the perfect month to treat your hives for Varroa mites. There are several treatments that can be applied during the honey flow, and by treating your hives now, they will have several generations of strong bees going into winter. Strong bees as winter comes on means a more likely hive survival. I suggest formic acid and hopguard.