Here We Come A-Caroling… Again!

The Horst Family

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. Last 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. This year, we are continuing the tradition with some additional Christmas carols!

Merry Christmas!

Download for free on CDBaby

In addition, the music is also available as a CD on Amazon; at music download sites such as Google Play and iTunes; and on music streaming services such as Apple Music, Spotify, and YouTube. The recording contains the five songs from last year and the five songs from this year.


Myron – Bass Vocals
Cathy – Soprano, Alto, and High Tenor Vocals; Keyboard
Joel – Tenor Vocals; Guitar
Nathan – Tenor and Lead Vocals; Whistling, Violin
Kara – Soprano and Alto Vocals; Flute
Daniel – Bass and Baritone Vocals; Accordion
Luke – Bass Vocals; Viola
Melody – Soprano, Alto, and High Tenor Vocals; Bass Guitar

These songs are public domain. Please share them with others.

Life on the Farm In Pictures

Sheep shearing several weeks ago. The sheep were getting hot with their three or four inch thick wool coats still on.

New kittens and their mother on the porch of Melody’s log cabin playhouse.

Sheep grazing in the silvopasture demonstration plot.

What do we do all winter when there is “nothing to do” on the farm?

Joel, our oldest son,  has been busy this winter building building bee hives to expand his honey production. In this picture he is cutting recessed handles into the sides of the bee hives using a jig on the table saw. There is an amazing amount of work that goes into building the hive boxes and assembling all the frames that go inside the boxes. It is a great job inside by the wood stove for those cold rainy days when we don’t want to work outside.

We bought a 2007 Isuzu reefer truck for delivering eggs and pet food to the stores. Our egg delivery van had become too small. The truck has been a wonderful provision. We bought it for 25% of its value at an auction. It had a leaking fuel injector sleeve which is why we were able to get it so cheap. To the left of the truck is the framing for some new lambing pens that our son, Nathan, was building for his sheep.

Daniel, age 16, had diesel mechanic class as part of his homeschool experience. He loves working on motors and is interested in crop farming. It was a great educational experience for him. It took the mystery out of a diesel motor as we took the head off the engine block, had it repaired and reinstalled the head again. The head is a thick heavy metal piece on top of the pistons that has the valves, fuel injectors, and cam shaft. The motor is only a four cylinder diesel with a turbo charger. In spite of it being only a four cylinder motor, it has plenty of power and gets a respectable 11 1/2 to 12 MPG on our egg delivery route which includes driving through the heart of D.C. The Isuzu truck is easy to work on. The cab tilts forward giving easy access to the entire engine. They even provide a “chair” to sit on while you are working on the motor – the front tires. I had never worked on a diesel motor before, so it was a learning experience for me, too. We had a good repair manual and took things one step at a time. It is not as difficult as it appears.

To stay in shape during the winter we work out in the “gym”. The exercise machine is rather low tech, consisting of a 6 pound metal weight fastened to the end of a stick. You swing the 6 pound weight and smash it into a piece of wood, making the wood split in two. It is entertaining and satisfying being able to watch big hunks of wood fly apart while you work out swinging the weight on the stick to get your heart rate up, tone up your muscles and burn the fat. We like our work out machine better than the high tech do nothing exercise machines with their fancy electronic readouts. Not only does it provide entertainment and a feeling of satisfaction as you work out, it will also give us a warm feeling next winter when it is cold – something one of those fancy do nothing machines in the gym can’t do.

So why would we split wood by hand while the wood splitter sits unused in the background? We do use the wood splitter on the harder to split pieces, but we have a lot of straight grained oak wood that splits easy. I timed one of the boys and he made 12 pieces of firewood in 60 seconds with a splitting maul and he was not trying to see how fast he could go. It is much faster than the wood splitter on easy to split wood. Notice how the chunks of wood are set up in rows. We start with a chunk of wood closest to us. We split that one and move to the next and then the next. You can split wood as fast as you can swing the splitting maul. Forget the old chopping block. It takes too long to only set up and split only one piece of wood at a time. We also dislike an 8 pound splitting maul because it tires us out too fast. A 12 pound maul is even worse.

Kara, our oldest daughter, made 50 seedling flats for the greenhouse. They will hold the plastic trays with the individual plant cells. We used plastic flats in the past, but they are flimsy and break easily. These should last a long time if they are stored in a dry place in the off season. The flats were made out of scrap pieces of wood that we had laying around. Kara has a bunch of onions, cabbage, and broccoli started.

We also stay busy all winter taking care of the hens, sheep and cows. The hens have been laying a lot of eggs all winter. What you see is just part of a week’ worth of eggs. The right side of the walk-in cooler is also almost full of cases of eggs. The hens are laying over 1000 dozen eggs each week. That is why we needed a bigger truck!

A Historic and Innovative Northern Virginia Farm – Morven Park

Hidden on the west edge of Leesburg, Va is a beautiful historic 1000 acre farm that was the home of Mr. and Mrs. Westmoreland Davis, Governor of Virginia from 1918 to 1922. Westmoreland Davis purchased Morvan Park in 1903 and put his energies into making it an agricultural show place.  He discovered that most of the farmers around him were using inefficient farming methods that were not as profitable as they should be. He studied and researched everything that he could find about farming. Morven Park became a testing station for new methods of raising crops and selective breeding of livestock. He started with dairy cows. He also bred heavy draft horses and lighter riding horses. In 1912 Davis purchased the Southern Planter magazine where he published his ideas and the results of his experiments.

In the early 1930s, he began raising turkeys on pasture in moveable range shelters, eventually having as many as 20,000 turkeys on pasture! Within ten years, Morven Park had become the largest supplier of turkeys in the United States. An example of his experimentation, Davis heard that Doberman Pinscher dogs were good for guarding turkeys on pasture from predators. He became a breeder of Doberman dogs. All went well until the dogs began doing what dogs like to do with birds – kill them. He realized that people were the best guards for the turkeys and got rid of the dogs.

The Governor’s House at Morven Park. The restoration of the house was completed in 2010.

Tours of the mansion are only $5 for adults. The inside is beautifully restored and furnished with the original elaborate furnishings of the Davis’. Touring the grounds and gardens is free.

Some of the farm buildings.

The property is beautifully landscaped. This is part of the boxwood gardens.

Another part of the garden.

To find out more about Morven Park and how to get there go to

Sawdust Toilet – A Homesteading Solution

Here is an idea to put in the back of your head in case you ever need it. When we first considered being curators for the Maryland State Park system and restoring this house, one problem was that the house only had one bathroom and there are eight people in our family! I looked on the internet about composting toilets and they run $2,000+, are ugly, and take up a significant amount of space. In addition, I did not like the idea of composting that stuff inside my house. Then I came across the sawdust toilet concept. It is cheap, odor free, and the composting is done outside. We have used it for the past six years and are pleased with it.

We use it similar to the old fashioned chamber pot concept and just use it for #1. The difference is that the carbon in the sawdust keeps down the odor. After each use, or in the morning, we add a fresh layer of sawdust to cover everything up. If there is some smell, we just add more sawdust. We have a sawdust toilet for the boys, one for the girls, and one in the master bedroom. When the buckets are full, we dump them on a compost pile.

Can you find the “bathroom”?

Here it is! I built a box to hide the buckets and toilet seat.

A Living Laboratory – Jehovah-Jireh Farm

Our new slogan:
“More than a farm — a living laboratory researching the secrets of food, health and life.”

This new slogan better describes who we are. Our farm took on a new focus after we moved to this farm a little over five years ago. This farm became more than just a pasture based farm. It became a living laboratory where God has showed us many things about food, health and life. Many times it is like trying to drink out of a fire hydrant as we try to process what we are learning, researching, and observing here on the farm. We have only shared in the farm newsletters a small part of what we have been discovering. We have many more exciting things to share with you.

It all began with finding the research of Carey Reams in agriculture and also human health. That has led us to other research. Each puzzle piece that fits together makes a bigger picture. It is not that we spend a significant amount of our time in research like a traditional lab, but things keep dropping into our lap from unexpected sources. Problems on the farm become learning experiences as we look for answers.

The article in this newsletter, “Weeds in the Garden”, is an illustration of research we are doing and answers that we are finding that run counter to conventional “wisdom”.

Please do not get the impression that we know it all and have all the answers. We have many failures as the announcement below illustrates. We feel like we are only peeking through the keyhole and are not yet seeing the full picture. We are here to serve you and to provide you with top quality food, and to help you to be successful in growing your own high quality, health giving fruits and vegetables. We appreciate the many things that you have shared with us and taught us.

The Importance of Having Your Own Garden

With each passing year, it is becoming more important that you have your own garden if you want to be healthy. Acid rain and sulfur and other acid fertilizers are removing the water soluble calcium in the soil. The rain water that I have been testing this year has been running about 6.0 pH. The USDA reports a significant decrease in calcium in our foods over the last 50 years. The calcium in our food is much more available to our bodies than calcium supplements.

Sometime I would like to go into detail about my research about calcium, but for now I will just share this — calcium is required for each cell in our body to be replaced. If calcium is not available, the cell cannot be replaced and degeneration occurs. Calcium is much more important than just for our bones and teeth.

It is important to put high calcium limestone on your garden each year to replace the calcium lost to acid rain and what is removed in the produce you harvested.

Another important reason for having your own garden is to be able to provide food for yourself and your family if our food supply in the grocery stores becomes disrupted. Food is a necessity of life, and we as a nation have become dependent on other countries and states on the other side of the US to supply a significant amount of our food. Knowing how to raise your own food is an important back-up plan. We need to share with each other things that work and things that don’t work in gardening. Gardening is an ever learning process.