Merry Christmas!

Sending Love and Joy from Our Home to Yours

For hundreds of years, groups of singers have gone from house to house singing carols at Christmas time to spread love and cheer. Each of you, our friends, are spread far and wide. This year our family decided to take Christmas caroling into the tech age by caroling for each of you, wherever you are, using the connectivity of our electronic devices.

The Horst Family, 2015
Your Carolers from left to right: Daniel – singing bass and baritone and playing accordion; Kara – singing soprano and alto and playing flute; Nathan – singing tenor and lead and playing violin; Cathy – singing soprano and alto and playing keyboard; Myron – singing bass; Melody – singing soprano and alto; Luke – singing bass; Joel – singing tenor, playing 12 string guitar, recording engineer.


Hear all the Christmas carols:

For optimum enjoyment, be sure to use good-quality speakers or headphones/earbuds!



Individual Songs

Joy to the World

Download MP3


Away in a Manger

Download MP3


Christ is Born in Bethlehem (Hark! The Herald Angels Sing)

Download MP3


Who Is He in Yonder Stall?

Download MP3


We Wish You a Merry Christmas

Download MP3


Feel free to share this with others!

Silvopasture Demonstration Plot

The Forest Service Department of Maryland Department of Natural Resources has asked us to work with them in developing a Silvopasture Demonstration Plot on 10 acres adjacent to the farmland that we are currently farming. It will combine timber/trees with pasture and will give Maryland landowners an example of how they can use their own land to produce timber and at the same time receive income from the land by grazing livestock while the trees grow. The silvopasture will consist of rows of trees planted in a pasture with 50′ grass spacings between the tree plantings. We will provide the livestock to graze the grass and we will also mow as necessary.

The silvopasture concept appears to be an excellent way to increase carbon sequestration on farmland without totally removing the land from food production. We look forward to working with the Forest Service on this project and applying some of the things that we have learned in carbon sequestering to this test plot. There will be some other tree plantings on adjacent parcels that will be used as controls to compare with the silvopasture experiment.

Daniel and Joel cutting up a dead tree at the edge of the silvopasture to get ready to put up a fence for the sheep.

Nathan’s Fiddle

Enough of the bad news and health care stuff. Now for something that you only hear about happening in years gone by, to someone you never knew, and maybe only a story that never really happened. This time it is a true story that happened a week and a half ago to our son Nathan. Nathan had been thinking that he should get another fiddle that had a better sound to it.

He went to an auction at the fairgrounds in Frederick and bought this old fiddle. The case is old and dilapidated. The bow did not have any hair on it and the fiddle did not have all of its strings. I (Myron) looked at it and did not think it was worth much. The auctioneer didn’t see much value in it either. Nathan started the bid at $10 and bought it for $40.

This is a picture of the old fiddle.  There is no date inside the fiddle. There is a paper glued inside, hand written in French stating that it was reconstructed by Arthur Vernier, a violin maker – luthier. In researching on the internet and examining the fiddle, we found some interesting things.

A new neck had been added and the old scroll peg box was grafted onto the new neck. In this picture you can see a small diagonal line on the top edge of the left side of the violin where the neck is grafted into the scroll peg box.

In this picture you can see the splice where the new neck was grafted in. The significance of that graft is that it dates the fiddle as most likely being pre-1760, before the US became a nation! In the Baroque period before 1760, the neck of a violin was shorter and the angle of the peg box was different than on violins after the Baroque period. This fiddle was reconstructed with a longer neck.

Both the top and the bottom of the fiddle are domed up higher, and at a steeper angle from the edges than on a modern violin, giving the body of the fiddle more volume. It has a beautiful sound.

The old fiddle looked like it was of little value to the auctioneer and to the crowd of about 200 people that day. It was God’s blessing to Nathan and an object lesson that, just like the old violin a person’s value is more than what their appearance may indicate. It reminded me of the poem and song, “The Touch of the Master’s Hand”. Check out this reciting of the poem. I think you will enjoy it:

Thankful for an Abundant Harvest

We are thankful for an abundant harvest this year from our two gardens. Cathy, Kara, and Melody canned and froze an amazing 1090 quarts of fruits and vegetables this summer and fall. We also have a bunch of squash, pumpkins, potatoes and sweet potatoes in the cellar and in cool storage. I say amazing because I did not expect that much as we were harvesting things from the garden this summer.

We made a decision at the beginning of the year to try to grow as much of our own nutrient dense food as we could for the health of our family. The fruits and vegetables that you can buy in the stores still look as good and nutritious as they did 30 or 40 years ago. But the nutritional analysis by the USDA shows that the calcium and mineral content has significantly declined and it is showing up in the health of people. 50 years ago there were only a few small drug stores. The “pharmacy” section in the grocery store consisted of basic things such as aspirin, cough drops, and bandaids. Now each grocery store has a full service pharmacy to provide drugs to supplement the poor quality food. Plus, there are a lot of other large drug stores conveniently located around town to keep everyone propped up with their medications. And they keep building new drug stores all over town.

In looking at the statistics for individual illnesses and diseases, the percentage of the population that has a particular illness or disease has significantly multiplied in the last 50 years. Plus there are many new diseases that were unheard of 50 years ago. The health care industry has grown to be the #1 industry in America. People are seriously sick! One Walmart we saw in Virginia had 32 handicapped parking spaces and many of them were filled – a testimony to the poor nutritional quality of their food. Cheap food has led to poor results.

There is a solution, and there is hope. Organic is a step in the right direction, but organic does not necessarily mean that the organic farmer has added any more calcium and trace minerals to his soil than what the conventional farmer has. The solution is to either grow as much of your own food as you can, or buy it from a farmer who you know has added the calcium and trace minerals to his soil.

The open pantry shelves in Cathy’s kitchen hold a sampling of each of the canned fruits and vegetables in the cellar. Everything came from our gardens except for the apples and peaches. A few of the jars are from last year.
Top shelf: Peach Jam, Salsa, Grape Jelly, Grape Syrup, Pizza Sauce
Second Shelf: Pumpkin Butter, Raspberry Jam, Bread and Butter Pickles, Apple Butter, Cucumber Relish, Peach Jam, Pickled Banana Pepper Slices, Pepper Relish, Zucchini Relish, Ketchup
Third shelf: Tomato Juice, Apple Pie Filling, Peaches, Stewed Tomatoes, Dilly Bean Pickles, Pumpkin, Dill Pickles, Pizza Sauce.
Forth Shelf: V8 Juice, Pickled Beets, White Grape Juice, Green Beans, Zucchini, Purple Grape Juice, Pickled Okra, Apple Sauce
Not pictured: Chicken Broth, Chili Peppers, Chunked Tomatoes.

Contrary to popular advice, it is possible to reuse regular canning jar lids if you are careful not to bend the lids when you remove them. We have had a very low failure rate in reusing lids.

Pantry Paratus Radio, Episode 019: Interview at Jehovah Jireh Farm

From homesteading to professional farming
Myron and our son Joel were interviewed for a podcast on Pantry Paratus Radio. It is a good overview of our farming philosophy, teaching children how to work, homesteading, how to produce food in the middle of winter if you don’t have any stored up, principles of growing healthy plants, etc. It runs almost an hour in length and might be something to listen to on your commute to work.

Curatorship Work on the House

We installed new steps and railing on the back porch of the house. Our daughter, Melody, is painting the porch posts.

Our son, Luke, painting the porch posts on the front porch.

Sons, Joel and Daniel, scraping paint on the back of the house.

Historic Reproduction Playhouse

Our youngest daughter has wanted a playhouse. This summer, on Memorial Day and on July 4th, we built a log cabin playhouse as a “historic reproduction” example of the log cabins that used to populate the area around our farm. It is behind the red building where you pick up chickens and it sits beside an old road that probably dates back to 1787. Here is what the sign reads that Melody wrote and posted on the cabin:

Historic Reproduction

This playhouse is like the log cabins that used to be along this old road years ago. This was a main road. To the north was a glass factory and a school, and to the south was another school, a kiln, and an iron furnace. The iron furnace used an acre of wood a day. In the 1800’s the ridge was stripped of trees. Both the glass factory and the iron furnace started in 1787.

They also blasted rock from big boulders for the C&O aqueduct over the Monocacy River and carted it away by a train that ran on a sturdy wooden track. There are also other old roads in the woods. On a walk through the woods along an old road, you might come to a stone wall that surrounded a field, or you might come to a foundation or a flat spot where a house used to stand, or even better, a rotting away house. By the early 1900’s the wood to power the iron furnace was gone; the people, business, and activity were gone and the ridge was covered in grassy fields where cattle roamed. Now everything is once more covered by trees, but evidence still remains that this used to be a very busy active place.

The log cabin playhouse. One of the unit studies that the children will have in our homeschool this year will be on historic preservation. Part of that will be learning how to put mortar between the logs, building a door, and installing the windows.

A small potbellied coal stove sits in one corner of the playhouse ready to cook many imaginary meals.

Daniel’s Blacksmith Shop – “The Village Smithy”

Last school year, one of Daniel’s school projects was to design and build a blacksmith shop on a trailer. He first made a detailed scaled drawing and then built the building on an old International pickup bed trailer. Myron helped some with the framing, but Daniel did most of the work himself and paid for all the materials. This summer he got it completed.

The blacksmith shop. The wood sign over the door reads: “The Village Smithy”

Inside the blacksmith shop, work benches line the sides with storage space for tools on a shelf underneath. The forge sits in a bump out over the trailer tongue area. The forge was custom made from an old cast iron sink. The collector for the chimney was made from an old propane tank. The shop is wired for electricity and the lights are on a dimmer switch. There are times blacksmiths do not want too much light so that they can correctly judge the color of the red hot metal. The project required creativity and thinking through how to make everything work. It was an great learning experience for him.