Homestead Happenings: Reconstruction and Firsts

How do you put your world back in order after completely ripping it apart? What about your broken down emotional state where you cry at everything? Trying to get back into the swing of things life-wise is hard when you’re empty. Here, I’m having to look to the little things to fill me up.

In my last post I shared what we have been dealing with in our home the past few weeks (ticks) and about the struggles I faced during Dave’s absence. What I didn’t mention was that we are also in a season of change right now on our team and the extra emotional burden that creates. Our MAF team right now is in the middle of a transitional time with many families leaving, some returning, and some staying. Currently one family is already gone (reassignment), another family returned from furlough to take back over leadership, one family leaves tomorrow for a short furlough but will return, another family leaves in about two weeks (minimum two years with possible return), we will hear news on another family’s return, another family leaves in July (our dear friends and neighbors), the family on the short furlough returns and then another family leaves for a short furlough in August. The team is fluid right now; ever-changing and never able to settle and wont until the fall it seems. It’s a tough season.

With so much going on with our team right now home really needs to be sanctuary for us but at the moment it just isn’t. There is still powder everywhere to kill insects, minimal clothes in the closet, disorder, clutter in places, etc. Slowly I’m trying to ease back into daily life here and get back on track, hopefully in time to receive some very special visitors we have coming – Dave’s parents, Dan and Kathy, are coming for a two-week visit mid-June and we are so excited about it. This will be the first time we have had any visitors and family in our home here with us.

So while I try to get the inside of our house back in order and calm the chaos, I’m also continuing to work on all of the other projects and pieces of daily life. I’m looking after Daniel, teaching our kitchen help how to cook (in French), working in our garden, meal prep and cooking, looking after our animals, incubating eggs, animal ministry and more along with all the other smaller pieces of life here that add up. And the endless projects we have on our list, those never end – seriously.

IMG_4768Our garden is doing well and is starting to put out produce again at last. I’ve harvested salad, beets, summer squash, celery and even a couple tomatoes. Many things are still growing and haven’t begun producing yet and some things I have even yet to plant. Can you believe with such a huge garden I have run out of space? It’s true! There are so many things I want to plant but don’t have the room right now. Some of the new things that I have going are Napa cabbage, desi summer squash, local pumpkins, black-purple carrots, purple cabbage and plenty of eggplant and bell pepper seedlings I purchased from the nursery in Bunia. We are also waiting to plant some russet potato starts that Dave was able to bring back with him.

One of our purple cabbages. I’m looking for a variety that does well here to hopefully pass on to the locals for improved nutrition.
My favorite place in the garden at the moment.
One half of the garden with a few beds awaiting corn and russet potato seedlings
Eggplant starts
A piece of the russet potato Dave brought back
Lettuce leaf basil – basil as big as lettuce that’s great for salads, wrapping things and even pesto.

IMG_4793An exciting first for us is our long-awaited pineapple! We started planting pineapple tops right when we moved in almost two years ago and the very first one is finally growing a pineapple. It has been fun to watch the beautiful flowering part of the pineapple form and now turn into a fruit; it will be even more fun to eat the pineapple off of our own bush once it is ripe.

The chickens are doing well and we have lots of babies at the moment. One of our biggest challenges with chicks, now that we have a closed flock and don’t have to deal with other diseases, is Coccidiosis. It kills babies in pens quickly if not treated and we are still tweaking a schedule to prevent this from happening. I found two dead today, only three days from their next treatment, so the schedule needs to be moved up a week or so. I’m treating them now but it’s a shame to loose any since this batch is our first second-generation hatching and is intended for the animal micro-loan program’s first families. Hopefully within a month or so we will be ready to start the program at last with 5 chosen families.

The first batch of second-generation chicks intended for the animal micro-loan program.


IMG_4808Another first that we have now is our first second-generation duckling from our khaki Campbells! We were waiting for our ducks to be of a good age to hatch their eggs and then dry season hit and we struggled for months and months to get good eggs. They were heat stressed and would lay eggs with no shells or weak paper-thin ones that were  impossible to hatch from. Then we magically got 4 with normal shells and two developed and one hatched.  They have been laying well this last week but suddenly stopped again; why is a mystery. Today I made up some more nests for a couple of broody hens to sit on some more of our ducks eggs so hopefully in a month’s time we will have some more ducklings to add to our collection!

The few precious normal duck eggs collected over the last week that will be placed under some broody hens today.


IMG_4800 We also have our first australorp chicks to start improving our chicken lines with! The hatch numbers were disappointing to be sure because of problems with our power system; the power would go out for hours at a time during the night and morning and it caused many deaths in the egg unfortunately. I’m grateful to have any and right now we have 5. I’m praying we don’t loose any but here the odds are just not very great for all 5 of them to make it. I’ll do my very best to raise them special and get them to adulthood if I can. I’m praying for a rooster and a few hens and the odds are more in my favor, obviously, if they all make it.


IMG_4787For the first time we now have two pigs at once. Our larger pig is the pig we bought earlier this year with the goal of raising it all of the way until this coming Christmas for ham and bacon. The second, smaller new pig was a gift from a Congolese friend. They have worked it out and are living peacefully together which is a relief.

IMG_4767One other new project that I’m excited about is my worm bin. I know, I know – I’m excited about worms. It’s truly the most efficient and rewarding way of composting, something we do a lot of here, and it will make the best fertilizer for our garden. We were able to get a small start of red wiggler worms back here along with the bin and have already got it started up and running. I’ll have a learning curve I know but once I get the basics down and our population goes up we will be cranking out amazing fertilizer every few months.

So that’s where we are at as we try to reconstruct our house from the inside chaos and infestation we dealt with and get back on track with normal life. We are eagerly awaiting our special guests as we deal with the difficult transitional times on our team. The precious precious family time together will be a much needed relief and break from the tough season we still find ourselves in. Until then I will continue to find peace and rest for my soul in my garden.

My quiet retreat


  1. Ashley, I know the feeling. I worked for 20 years in the Alaska fishing industry, and if there was anything that could go wrong, it did. Now that I have retired I still find times when I need to lean on God’s Shoulder, and I do that best in my garden with my onions, tomatoes, beets, rhubarb, and strawberries. I also have a pair of wild ducks that come regularly for a snack. None of this would have been possible if I hadn’t let God into my life. I pray that God will lookover you and your family while they are visiting. I took a copy of your last Blog to Bayview Bible Chapel, and even got a coupe of members to start following you online. Well, God bless you
    Stephen Bell

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Ashley, I am so amazed at all you do given the awful home infestations and the challenges with raising your chicks and ducklings. May God pour His grace over you for strength and health to bless you. I am excited for you and Dave to have Dan and Kathy visiting to fill up your family “tank” again. Love in Christ,


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