Homestead Happenings: Family Conference, a MRI and Holiday Prep *A death

It has been far too long since I’ve written and for that I apologize. Life just got busy and it almost seems overwhelming to look back over the last couple of months and what all has happened. Too much to recount all of the details I’m afraid so I’ll just touch on the basics and the major events.

img_3493Chickens – The chickens are doing pretty well, despite some small outbreaks of cocci and some injuries that have killed a few. I’m learning as I go along and can now spot cocci coming and treat for it ASAP – like just this morning we had a lethargic chick and another with bloody discharge and they are already being treated as of this morning. They are growing well. Last night I was also able to get a new batch of eggs in the incubator. These eggs are nice eggs from a friend in Uganda, in hopes to get a better hatch rate this time around

A chick drinking medicated water
What our sole guinea fowl looks like now

img_3489Ducks – The ducks don’t even look like the same birds any more! They are so huge and grown up it’s hard to remember that just a few months ago they were small fuzzy ducklings peeping around. They have done amazing and we should actually be getting eggs from them relatively soon! They are still finishing out their adult feathers so I will have a for-sure count of male vs. female soon. I’m looking forward to hatching more of their eggs as soon as I can. Unfortunately we tried to do another two incubators full of duck eggs from a remote village here in Congo and not one hatched. This ended up being a big waste of money and time but we blame it on us having to be gone for two weeks during the incubation process. We will probably try again but may just stick to hatching our own eggs for a while.

The ducks with their adult feathers


img_3303Other pets – We have acquired a few other pets in the last few months to round out our homestead, including Sam our African Grey Parrot and Emma our weenie dog to replace the disaster of a dog Susie from last year. Both have acclimated very well and are a great addition to our home and our lives. We got Sam as a small baby, not fully-feathered, and had to hand feed him 4 times a day in the beginning. We got Emma just a couple weeks ago while we were in Uganda for Family Conference and medical things (below).

Sam with his adult feathers
Emma our weenie dog

img_3475Garden – The garden is in an “ugly” stage right now. I’ve been letting most things go to seed (or try to let them go to seed but some are not unfortunately) and have taken a break from heavy gardening for a while. Most of the cool-weather crops that I planted have come up and done relatively well, especially the two kinds of peas – sugar snap and snow. I’ll probably get back out into the garden soon to get things cleaned up and maybe do some light planting. I don’t want to create too much extra work for myself right now with the Holidays upon us.

The sweet potatoes from the garden dug up in preparation for Thanksgiving
Oneof our sunflower plants – they all end up covered in blossoms instead of having just one head
Ou artichoke plants seem to be doing well

img_3461Ministry – Like I mentioned we’ve had some success and failures in this area. The duck eggs failed miserably but I’m not going to give up on that yet. We have another incubator full of Ugandan eggs and hopefully will fill the other very soon with eggs. It’s been a slow start for sure but once we get our own eggs going things will speed up because we will have better hatch rates (compared to 25-50% right now at best).

img_3497Yard – The red papaya trees are doing well and are beginning to flower. They should be setting fruit in just a few months. Our “Panama Passion Fruit” are ready to begin picking tonight actually and we are looking forward to trying one. They took much longer than we expected to become ripe so hopefully the extra wait will be worth it. (Note – we were able to try them and were very disappointed but hey, not everything can be a success. They are very tasteless with the texture of cooked potato. The only thing going for them is our chickens and pig like them so we are growing our own chicken/pig food I guess) Our South American vine has two large fruit on it that have begun to mature. The last one cracked before we could try it ripe so we hope these make it. I also hope they are better than the other experimental vine.

The tasteless Panama passion fruit, now destined to be chicken and pig food
The other vine from Peru has fruit that are maturing

img_3311Projects – Dave has been working on a few different projects around our place, some big and some small. One of the smaller ones was getting a ramp in for our chicken house at last. We did it out of rocks and cement to match the foundation of the house and I love the look of it. Another project was the garden pathway. Though it’s not completely finished yet it is usable and we will eventually get around to finishing it. I’ll do a separate post on this once it’s done, start to finish. Another large project that has started is our rabbit barn on the Eastern side of our place. The barn will be for storage and for our rabbitry. It will have hanging cages for the rabbits, a hay loft and space to store our outdoor furniture, grain barrels and park our 4-wheeler. This will clear off our back porch (AT LAST!) and allow us to begin to transform it into our vision for a screened-in outdoor kitchen and dining area.

The framing for our rabbit barn is up
Our growing pig and Christmas ham.
The pig pen has been having an issue with draining so another project will be to fix this after we’ve butchered the current pig


My brain

Family Conference and MRI – Towards the end of October we traveled to Uganda to attend the annual Family Conference put on by our organization and then stayed behind in Uganda for an extra week so I could get some medical tests done. The conference was wonderful and refreshing and gave us a nice break from the struggles of life in Congo. The following week was rather stressfull as we attempted to negotiate getting a MRI done and get the results. It was suggested I get the MRI done to check for a brain aneurysm because of several very severe headaches I had a while back. I’m happy to report and praising God that the results came back negative. This same week we got our daschund puppy and brought her back with us.


img_3257Other – I’ve also finished our curtains (AT LAST!) for all the rooms in the house except for the spare bedroom and our main bathroom needs one to replace the tattered half-shower-curtain that we use now. I also have plans to sew up some throw pillow covers for our living room to match our curtains in there after the Holidays are over. In September we had a picnic with some of our teammates down at the end of the airstrip and got to see the gold-digging pits, small river and a herd of cattle that was fun.


I’ll get back with the rhythm of life and blog more often hopefully. No guarantee till the Holidays are over though. If not before then, have a wonderful Thanksgiving and a Merry Christmas!!

So I’ve literally been trying to get this post finished and published for over a week now but the internet has been so bad lately that it’s been impossible – I’m only able to do it now because I’m at at 2am working on it, unable to sleep. Something very sad and tragic happened in-between the writing of this general update and being able to actually post it.

A young man of just 17 who worked for a fellow missionary here and was the cousin to our worker died over the weekend. Though I didn’t know him well, he was the nephew to one of the MAF workers, cousin and best friend to our worker and worked for our fellow missionaries/friends. We were the ones who recommended him for the job with them because of how hard-working his uncle and cousin are. Less than a week before he entered the hospital I was instructing him on planting a sweet potato patch in the garden of our friend’s place. He seemed like a very sweet boy.

We along with two other couple brought some food to the family, as is the custom when you pay your respects here, that afternoon after he had passed away. There was much wailing and despair as we walked up to the family home. There were many relatives around and inside their small mud hut. Inside sat his mother, other female relatives and his body. We each in turn entered there to pay our respects to his mother.

What do you say to a woman, a fellow mother, who has just lost her child? How do you communicate the grief and sadness, acknowledge it as a fellow mom, when you speak a different language and even in your own mother-tongue there are no words? What do you say to a woman sitting next to the body of her son who was the hope for their future; he had a good job and wanted to be a doctor one day. He was her son. He is now the 8th child that she has lost. The 8th. There are no words.

Other things seem meaningless right now, petty almost at times, even though I didn’t really know Baraka that well. It reminds us how fragile and short life is and makes me appreciate life that much more. I’ve been hugging Daniel more in the last few days and have a greater sense of patience with him from this. Never loose sight of the important things and please pray for this family.


  1. Ashley, Dave and Daniel
    We remember you in prayer often. As you said in your blog, “life takes over” and that is real life! Your writing is such a vivid story of how missionary life can be. The honest work ethic that you two present to us who are semi-retired is simply amazing to say the least. May your Thanksgiving Day be filled with HIS blessings and knowing that “every good and perfect gift comes from above….”. God Bless.
    Don and Cindy Gardner


  2. Dear Ones, We pray for you almost daily . Your posts help so much to know your struggles and We will start to pray daily now!1 We will pray for this mother and strength for you as you plow this ground for Our Lord Jesus. Love Mary


  3. Thanks for sharing…we will continue to pray for all of you as you live life in the Congo. Our Lord is our only hope and strength. Im so glad we can trust Him with all things and know His plan never fails…I am doing some short stories with our three year old granddaughter and it amazes me that even in the simpleness of Bible stories His hand is so great and powerful. It has been such a good reminder to us…Again…thanks for sharing for we can pray and even in the simpleness of our prayers His hand is great! Blessings, love and prayers dear ones,,,dale and julia moore


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