Following our long, exciting, and very productive week at the Kilpatricks, the Lord provided an opportunity for David and I be dropped off at Honey Brook Farm in VA! We were both very excited about spending a week on the farm, and learning practical and useful skills. And what better way to learn, than to live life right along-side some very dear like-minded friends?
The Wilkes sell pasture-raised chicken, non-GMO eggs, non-chemical produce, raw honey, and fresh baked goods! Matthew and Amanda (Wilkes Team 3!) were given some cows as a wedding present, earlier this year, and hope to grow the cattle business in coming years.
The first evening after our arrival, we drove over an hour to visit Wilkes Teams 2 (Josh, Lisa & Josiah) and 3 (Matthew & Amanda) at a campground where they were spending the weekend! Mr. and Mrs. Wilkes had gone to visit another family that evening, so the rest of us set off in the big green van – loaded with camp chairs and ingredients for dinner and smore’s!
Daniel and David built us two incredible fires, in a quiet little place down the road from the camp-sites. We had fun finding fire-wood in the surrounding woods… the air was crisp and cool, and the familiar smell of camp-fire smoke brought back wonderful memories of all the out-door excursions our family has gone on ;-).
The evening was restful and relaxing. We Fixed hobos (a first for David and I!) for dinner, and I played a game of horseshoes with Josh and Sarah (another first for me!). We laughed and told stories, and sang hymns around the fire (Lisa and Amanda played their guitars), while trying to stay warm beneath fuzzy blankets ;-). We roasted smore’s in the black, and watched the stars above us twinkling in the night sky. And then because it was so late, we packed everything up and set off for home…I am grateful for Jennifer, who stayed awake to drive over an hour, while everyone else was sleeping in the back :-).
Another day Sarah and I had way too much fun making soap and lotion. We re-learned the difference between liquid and dry weight measurements just in time 😉 and laughed because our lovely perfect lotion separated into two layers – oils and water (next time, we will FIND a thermometer to get all the temperatures just right!). It’s the thought that counts, right?
And this is the happy group (along with Mrs. Wilkes who took the picture!) that drove to Fredericksburg one day to visit the Hat Barn! The Lord graciously provided matching western hats for David and I, and we so enjoyed wearing them around the farm that week :-)!
The guys played Axis and Allies late into several evenings ;-)… meanwhile us girls played Dutch Blitz, and some other new card games I had never learned. So much fun!
Thursday was baking day – for Thursday and Saturday markets. We baked miniature quick-breads all morning, and delicious granola bars! David and I were able to make some of our special Something Gourmet recipes as well, and were very pleased with the success of sales!
As you may or may not be able to tell, we made a VERY big mess…and that is one of the reasons I felt right at home … because I always make a mess when I bake ;-)!
One of my highlights of the week was working in the vegetable gardens! Whether helping Hannah and Mrs. Wilkes harvest green beans, summer squash, peppers, and tomatoes, or helping Daniel bunch kale and wash the vegetables for market…Sarah and I had great fun harvesting pumpkins, weeding the lettuce bed, and carrying many many melons to the house – how many melons can one person carry…? Meanwhile, we received news from home that OUR melons were growing bigger, and that 2 happy watermelons were almost ready to harvest (we have never had success with melons)!!!
Many delicious treats were packaged and labeled for market, and there was always one more dish to wash 😉 …
Friday was chicken butchering day, along with many other preparations for market! I helped Mrs. Wilkes prepare a big breakfast while the guys set things up outside. We spent most of the morning butchering about 50 chickens. David and I were excited to participate, as we’ve only done deer before :-). It was a whole new learning experience for us both…one that I really enjoyed!
Later the chickens were packaged. Some were left whole, and others were divided into specific parts.
In the afternoon, some of us picked vegetables for market, or baked. It was one of those days where lunch was ready at 3:00PM, dinner around 7:00, and we finished cleaning up the kitchen sometime after 11:00 (although Hannah was still baking, and I never did finish the dishes) ;-).
Saturday morning two teams left rather early for two different markets. I went with Mrs. Wilkes, Kenan, and Mark. David joined Josh, Jenny, and Adam at the other market. Poor Sarah was feeling down during the last couple of days, and was home resting. Dear Hannah volunteered to stay back and do some cleaning in preparation for a family trip the Wilkes were taking that evening.
What a joy and blessing to participate in the farm markets! I loved watching the Wilkes Team work together on their farm – they love the Lord, and they are passionate about meeting people’s needs. Hearing Josh talk about the benefits of coconut oil, or listening to Kenan explain the importance of properly raising chickens…I was very encouraged!
Something else I so appreciate about the Wilkes Team is the way they shine for Christ, whether working together to weed the garden, or selling produce at a market. I heard a quote recently that I think is very fitting: “Preach the gospel always; when necessary use words.” And how true! The way they greet their customers, or interact with each other from day to day, is such a testimony and refreshing example!
Saturday evening Wilkes Teams 1 (with the exception of Mr. and Mrs. Wilkes) and 2 (Josh, Lisa, and little Josiah), left for a family vacation. Our parents arrived and went out to dinner with Mr. and Mrs. Wilkes. David and I enjoyed a quiet evening at the farm house, playing the piano and writing many little notes of encouragement/gratitude to place around the house… but not before taking a few last memorable pictures together!
There are no words to accurately describe all the sweet and precious memories that were made with Wilkes Teams 1, 2, and 3. What a BLESSING and JOY to be a part of this dear family’s life for a week. I so enjoyed all the new experiences, and the many lessons learned.
God taught me many things from our time there. I know that both David and I came away challenged, and strengthened in many ways – both spiritually and physically :-).
Thank you so much dear Wilkes Team for graciously opening up your home to us for an unforgettable week! We are excited about all that the Lord has taught us through our time away, and are already beginning to apply these lessons at home! The Lord richly bless you all for your service and love, to Him and others – we love you so much!
You can see more pictures from our trip here.