Tuesday, January 31, 2006

the big step

tabitha put most of kassi's diapers away yesterday. our 19 month old girl is done with those things. she had an accident yesterday but that is to be expected. we visited mike and nancy this weekend and kassi wouldn't use a strange potty. the held it the whole time until we got home.

church was a similar story except we left early because we knew she was holding it. tristan was so cute in church, when the pastor said "let us pray" he was standing next to me and tabitha was consoling kassi in the back viewing room, he promptly folded his hands and prayed. my heart melted. tabitha saw him do it too--oh the little things in life.

we hope hope hope that mike will come by with the tractor to turn the garden soon. we want to get the soil the rest of the way prepared before the deluge of pigs, cow, trees, dog and milk in a month.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

how much land do we have?

well the plot that we live on is five acres. the squatter lot just to the north of us is maybe two acres and the pond straddles the line to tabitha's grandmas three plus acres(which she says we can use[fence-in and make shaded pasture]). tabitha's father owns the property directly to the south of grandmas. we will develop the five acres and the very small area around the pond for our little homestead. the squatter lot will be pasture once we get the fence fixed.i left this photo large so you can zoom into it. i am standing at the edge of the pond pointing the camera toward tristan and the house. you can barely see tristan he is standing in the same place as the other photo of him in the woods(see below). i am cutting all the sapling trees from around the walk to and from the pond. our larger trees will appreciate the lack of competition for nutrients and water. this is the first step to making it shaded pasture. burning all the fallen oak leaves and under scrub will be next.
tabitha finished digging the four main holes for the milking shed only two more to go. i have cut three large cedars of the six necessary for our vertical posts. getting them to the shed (up the above path) is another story yet to be experienced.
a mule might come in handy for that or maybe a tractor. we have neither so it'll probably be me dragging all six of them across the property.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

chicken coop laying boxes

this is the path going toward the house from the pond & cedar grove. this whole wooded area will soon be shaded pasture.

these are the laying boxes that needed the add-on roof. they have spring loaded hinges to keep them closed for privacy.

this is the milking shed if you look closely enough you can see the pink leveling string and some of the holes are started for the cedar posts that'll support the roof.

the remaining roots that didn't burn. it takes a very hot fire to burn juicy roots. this pile was taller than tristan before we started the fire.
this is our murky pond. we need to get the water tested since it seems oddly dark. the piles of dirt behind the milking shed location obstruct a trench of bulldozed old house that needs to be burned and dosed back over it. it might have had some toxic crap that ran down hill into our pond--and that would stink.

the tree that was looming over our garage and this new fence is gone. we are glad to have it out of our reality.

it's raining here finally. we are still about a foot short for rain fall this year. our fancy rain gauge tells us that we have an inch since last night.

tabitha has purchased four piglets. they'll arrive in about a month. we need to be ready for them soon. i'd like to electric fence-in the pond if it tests out ok. they'd really like a pond and it'd be good for the pond too.

our dog should also arrive around the same time.

so everything will be happening in about a month. garden, pigs, new calf (milking every day), new puppy and other spring stuff to deal with. my regular blogging might slow down then.

Friday, January 27, 2006


she's all grown up. all but completely potty learned.

she is usually the second person to awake. this morning she ran out to the kitchen barely able to see from the light difference. i picked her up and she clamped onto me a full body hug--legs, arms and head nuzzling into my neck. i love her so much.

i asked her if she wanted to go potty--"uh huh." she always needs a book to read while sitting there.

we had popcorn last night. the kids love it and it seems to calm them. there was much gnashing of teeth over the loss of television last night. we can't see our way clear to return the privilege anytime soon since their behavior has made such a dramatic change. maybe we'll implement a friday-night movie-night or something in the near future.

today will be a big work day. i'll report in later hopefully with photos of progress.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

yes.... we're fencing again

we need to finish the fencing around the yard. we are expecting a puppy in less than a month and need complete containment. although we are isolated, the road that we live on is notorious for being "a dog killer". we have first pick of the litter of a pair of working dogs. they are Australian cattle dog and Australian shepherd mix. we are hoping for a good mix. i have faith that we'll train him well and to be a good dog. the kids are excited to have a puppy.

maybe this weekend we'll get the garden turned and start to finish preparation for planting. i need to get a few bales of hay for the tomato starter box. i aquired two sliding glass doors from freecycle and plan to simply plop them on a rectangle of strawbales--voila instant tomato starter greenhouse. we got most of our seed from baker creek heirloom company. best of all they have forums for growers and gardeners interested in organic and heirloom seeds. they are pretty cool, both tabitha and myself have been posting there to help perpetuate the cool thing that they have going on...

we are listening to Great Days: The John Prine Anthology--magic stuff

the kids are being magical together these days sans T.V. the experiement of no T.V. is turing out to be a success.

Monday, January 23, 2006

the kids are asleep

maybe tabitha & i will have some quiet time alone?

both kids loved church, kassi runs to the car saying "church, church, church"

tristan is trying to figure out the days of the week because church is on sunday.

we are definitely going again this sunday.

pizza for dinner tonight. tabitha is making it from scratch. yum....

work was ok today. i'm hoping for some good news on the job search front.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

this church might just work out

we went to church this morning.
things it had going for it were:
9 am service (time to still get some work done around here afterwards)
lutheran (i know whats going on most of the time)
sound proof room with big window and incoming speakers
kind and not prying luthern behavior (live and let live)
mostly it was older folks that were elated to see us
the kids were well behaved but still noisy and most of them mentioned how well behaved they were and that kids are kids and not to expect too much from them.
we like that perspective.
it's fairly close 8 miles
we'll go back soon. tristan even asked "can we go back to church?"

we have been without TV for a few days. the change in tristan's behavior is nothing short of miraculous. we have also been focusing on as frequent as possible feeding of protein based foods. it is very obvious when he hasn't eaten in a while. or worse yet when he has had too much refined sugar.

i tried to do some web design work today. i got a little done but not enough. i'll try later...

the cat is fixed

our cat is now without reproductive abilities. not that she doesn't come from an excellently long line of polydactyllians and doesn't deserve to reproduce. we just know where all her aunts, cousins and siblings live. in fact she might very well be her own aunt. anyway we know where plenty of kittens are and don't need to be the local kitty farrowing house.
she is a good cat, in my opinion, not worth the "show vet" price. but up until this point only the best for sylvia.
speaking of six toed paws--tabitha got into a semantic argument with the vet's assistant regarding the use of polydactyl versus polydactyly(*). tabitha's argument was; she was using polydactyl as an adjective not the noun. anyway, the girl ended up being her childhood best friend. weird stuff. there wasn't a huge reunion or anything since amanda was very derogatory toward her daughter "the little monster" and doesn't deserve to be called by her real name because she isn't a lady yet. f*%k*ng bitch, i hate her and only met her for 5 min. there should be a law that parents should love their children so much that they are treated like the magical angels that they are. it is the parents fault if they aren't magical angels anyway.
alright, i'm over it... i never have to meet her again. but i still can't help feeling badly for her daughter.

the garden is ready for the tractor--we pulled all the roots, stumps and rocks that we came across. i'm sure that there are plenty more but we need a mechanized turning of the soil before we continue. oh the pile of roots was huge. we burned most of them in a pile in the center of the garden as a threat to any errant roots that might consider invading our precious garden plot in the future.

today we are going to try to go to a church. scary stuff--especially here in the bible belt. i want the kids to meet some local wholesome playmates. personally, i just want to be left alone while at church. God and i have our own personal arrangement and we don't need anyone else involved trying to confuse the situation.

i spoke with my best friend (uncle matt to my kids) last night. i really do miss him. there is nothing else that i left in california that even comes close to how much i/we miss him. we love you matt and wish you were here.

(*) i later found out that polydactyl is the "preferred" adj and noun in modern english. ha, take that amanda--lousy parent....

Thursday, January 19, 2006

thanks to stella i'm doing this

Four jobs you've had in your life-

1. magazine publisher / designer
2. solar energy technician
3. bartender
4. farmer

Four movies you could watch over and over.

1. dune--either version
2. oceans eleven
3. gross point blank
4. harry potter--any of them

Four places you've lived

1. Cologne, Germany
2. Kingston, U.K.
3. San Diego, CA
4. Santa Barbara, CA

Four TV shows you love to watch

What's a TV? we don't have reception. however, i have fond memories of.
1. northern exposure
2. antiques roadshow
3. good eats
4. junkyard wars

Four places you've been on vacation

1. russia, st petersburg & moscow
2. italy, rome
3. france, paris
4. mexico, rosarita beach

Four websites you visit daily

1. blogs of note from my blog site
2. http://www.gotoreviews.com/ they used to be much better but i keep trying
3. http://www.worldchanging.com/
4. gmail.com

Four of your favorite foods

1. garlic
2. bluefin fatty tuna sashimi
3. karl's famous tofu
4. peanut butter

Four places you'd rather be

1. The Hermitage
2. sycamore canyon hot springs
3. snowboarding
4. with my family, whenever i am not!

Four albums you can't live without

1. john prine
2. cat stevens
3. simon and garfunkle
4. morphine

the mystery is solved

it wasn't a broken bone but a huge piece of cedar almost the width of a pencil. it was in my leg and i didn't even know it was there. of course it hurt but i was convinced it was a bruised or broken bone because it felt so deep. yeah, the reason it felt so deep was because it WAS deep--close to two inches long. the gaping hole left in my leg was huge and didn't close up until much later. when it came out it was like a projectile shooting across the bath tub almost hitting tristan who was sitting on the edge of the tub waiting to get in. tabitha tried to take a photo of the wound but they all came out blurry. amazing

i'm going to heal up today and take it easy.

yesterday we dug and pulled a huge pile of roots from our garden plot. probably three wheelbarrow loads. the main stump is gone. tabitha and i were threatening to celebrate with a glass of wine but i started to get physically ill. flue like symptoms. that is one of the reasons for soaking in a really hot bath. the other reason was because i was filthy. plus my leg was beginning to really hurt again even all hopped-up on advil.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

the trees struck back

the other day while cutting innocent cedar trees one of the branches snapped from the weight of the large fell tree. it was 3 or 4 inches around. it hit my shin like a baseball bat. it incapacitated me for a while that day--20 minutes or so. then it continued to hurt but i kinda ignored it with the exception of taking advil. then, a couple of days later i awoke in severe pain and had to get up and ice it, take loads of advil and have tabitha make an arnica salve in the morning. well, i have been taking it easy and convinced that either i severely bruised the bone or maybe have a slight fracture. either way it is getting better but taking its sweet time.
over the past few days i have worked on removing most of that wood from the front yard--tiny wheelbarrow loads. i installed the rest of the kitchen under counter and over the sink lights. they look very cool and light things excellently. i cleaned up the garage a bit organized some of my tools. i also laid out the milking shed. the stakes are in, lines are strung and it is ready to start digging holes. we picked up some of the old windows from behind the garage and put them in the pump house. i posted the stainless steel kitchen sink on freecycle and hope to hear from someone soon. freecycle is very cool and i recommend it to all. there is usually a local chapter and you'd be surprised what useful stuff will come your way.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

if you could burn roots

this afternoon tabitha and i dug up roots from our garden bed. i wish we had the insight to use the sugar creek method (pigs to do the up-rooting and tilling). our deadline is too tight to do anything except dig up the roots by hand. the pile of roots setting next to our garden from this afternoon effort could heat our house for a couple of days if it were dried wood of the same quantity.
the weather has been remarkably warm and spring-like. grass is sprouting in our burned pasture from the warm spell we have been having.
the pastor from the local church has stopped by for the second time. i guess we are considered fresh meat. even though we have lived her for six months. this is the bible belt ya know...

my list:
get fell tree from pasture cut up and converted to fire wood
same as above with two trees in the front yard
milking shed
cut nine cedar trees from back of property for posts
cut & peel a few tall skinny oak trees for beams
layout the posts and subsequent post holes
get a load of gravel for:
french drains around milking shed
rubble trench foundation
get a load of sand for:
mortar for the rock foundation
cob plaster for straw bale exterior
lime plaster for final protection against weather
get 20 or so straw bales to use as
scaffolding and general construction efforts
then for mulch in the garden
get two or three loads of cedar saw dust for mulch for garden
fence row on north side of house:
set corner two corner posts
get cedar posts from across street
set gate posts for drive-in gate


after a week of doing almost nothing except cutting down innocent cedar trees--to be burned in place by the state of missouri. only the government could figure a deal like this one. they could easily have sold the rights to log the area for $20k. instead, they are paying my boss thousands of dollars to cut the cedars for burning later.

home for the weekend of work and being THE ONCE-LER, this morning i fell a large american elm aka:(piss-elm in these parts). tabitha and i cut it up and burned it in a bonfire. it's almost 2 pm and the fire should consume most of it while we work on our garden plot. now i'll be after the tree roots in the garden. there is no stopping THE ONCE-LER.

photos to come.

we use the magnet after bonfires for removing all metal (nails, wire and rusty bits of cans) from the ashes.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

garden roots and cow patties

yestermorn it rained about an inch. after the rain stopped we saw it as an opportunity to attempt to remove the sapling stumps from our garden plot. the smaller ones were comparably easy. there was/is on larger stump 8 inch trunk. oh man, the work involved. tabitha would pull and i'd shovel and vise versa. the roots would trail all around the garden area crossing under and over other saplings and itself. what a tangled mess. our garden plot looks like a mine field. huge holes un furled roots dangling from the earth. just for added effect there are several burn pile remains. we are about half way uprooting the garden.
we also picked up all the cow patties from the pasture. something about the cycle of putrescence that keeps ruminants from eating grass that is fertilized from their feces. we got two wheelbarrow loads. the manure is packaged in heavy plastic bags for composting to end in our garden.
coco is dead, he escaped past tabitha from the cage but we eventually re-caught him. he was easy to pluck compared to the white chickens and smelled a whole lot better during the entire process. i cut my finger on a freshly sharpened knife so tabitha had to help eviscerate him--usually my job. in the end i did most of the cleaning but at least tabitha learned how to do it.
we have a lead on some local downed cedar trees at tabitha's grandma's house. they'll make fine posts for our milking shed. this weekend is slated for retrieving several of them.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

good bye coco

coco our rooster will meet his end today. he attacked kassi the other day and i almost killed him that day. we thought it was a freak occurrence especially since kassi trails after him and tries to pick him up. she learned to stay away from the chickens. but yesterday, coco attacked tristan from behind. tristan even had his wooden sword and was tring to hit him away. the bird kept coming for more until tristan had scratches on his back. meanwhile i was running toward them. i would have killed him then if i could have caught him. today is his last day on earth. he is beautiful and does a good job of herding his ladies around but this kind of behavior is not tolerated around here. he had his chance. he is just a bad chicken and will hopefully taste excellent!
our new plan is to get some cornish cross chicks in the spring and another rooster silver laced wyandot chick. we'll hand raise him like a pet until he can join the mob. then hopefully he'll be nice. the +'s will be our meat chickens to be butchered in early summer.
the goal is to have a sustaining flock where we don't have to buy anymore chicks. eventually we'll butcher the roos of the babys we raise and replace the hens as needed for laying. a little set back but not really a big deal. we'll probably get a turkey or two to raise for thanksgiving and christmas dinners also.
danielle, any advise about mixing the chickens and turkeys in the same coop?

Sunday, January 08, 2006

let's forget it

in the early 90's i worked for a couple of guys whom published a zine in san diego. it was racy, alternative and fun. they were certifiably insane. their first issue was supposed to come out and they didn't have anyone to type the articles in. i didn't type either. but, i did have a computer and they thought if we had a scanner and some O.C.R. (optical character recognition) software we could just scan these submissions into the computer and i could put them in narrow vertical columns so that advertisements would fit next to them. well needless to say that was a huge fiasco. the O.C.R. software of the day was tragically poor and it ended up that it was just easier to hunt and peck our articles in. turning lemonade out of lemons, after having bought a pricy scanner and hard drives to fit the rather large files on, i discovered that we could do our own halftones. halftones were expensive and are how grayscale images are created from photographs to be able to print on a printing press--little black dots that are variably sized and placed to give the illusion of grayscale. hence, this was the beginning of my desktop publishing era. at that time there were no books or schools to explain creating halftones from digital files. photoshop didn't have any numbers next to its name and i was in over my head--and didn't realize it.
before i knew it i was scanning all the photos, digitally retouching them, and laying them out in pagemaker along with the hand typed text. i needed more software, hard drives and please please get me a manual! we published a slick san diego based zine that became hugely popular in the alternative, coffee-house, night-club underground.
chef, who could sell ice to an Inuit, and chris, the money man, became even more crazy--if that were possible. we had our differences and they were frequent. chef was on a psychotropic drug cocktail of prozac and lithium. oh that roller coaster was steep. chris was trying to start his own cult of ravers and other lost souls.
needless to say, eventually, i left and started a design business. but the reason for my story is to explain that although chef had no perceivable redeeming qualities chris had one very large one. he had this ability to forgive and forget. i'm not talking like most people can. this was profound. he would say "let’s forget it" over some huge personal or professional transgression and it would be gone--like it never existed. i didn't have that ability and saw it as such an attractive character trait that i strove to adopt it as my own. i still struggle at times, over fifteen years later. but, by the time i can say "let's forget it" i mean it and harbor no ill or begrudging feelings.
i feel so blessed these days with such a wonderful family and life that it is becoming easier to readily and quickly say "let's forget it"

so, let's forget it....

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Tabitha has been busy while i was gone

first she worked up our garden plan, ordered seeds and planned the other non-garden planting. here is the (work in progress) plan of our garden.

she had the two stumpy powerline trimmed oak trees in the front yard cut down. these were unsightly and obstructive of our intended plum trees. the looming tree over the garage is gone! she sucessfully beguiled the power company workers into removing that too. photos to come after breakfast.

trees, trrees and more trees

after four days my closest estimation is that i have cut over 700 cedar trees down and probably closer to 1200 especially if you count the little scrub around eight feet tall.

most of the cedar is standing alone but i cut a huge patch yesterday amidst deciduous trees. they were much taller and much much more difficult to fell. they were constantly getting hung up in the other trees. the cedars were just as dense just add a bunch of oak and hickory into the fray. most of them were over thirty feet until their first branch. i learned alot about how to un-hang trees. over the past few days my knowledge of falling trees is grown immensely. dan, a real lumberjack who was helping us, gave me several pointers. i had plenty of trees to practice on. i'm getting pretty confident.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

cedar devastation at roaring river

ben got a government contract to cut down all the cedar (non-native) trees on 15 acres of roaring river state park. they plan to burn them in place in june. we fell the trees cut them into manageable chunks and leave them. i cut hundreds and hundreds of trees yesterday. there are thousands of dollars worth of trees that cannot be taken out for cedar closets. the hike is too far, no vehicles allowed, they are trying to take the area back to original pre-settlement status. the fragile native tree species cannot compete with the cedar. it still kinda makes me sick because i feel like a clear cutter. the place looks like a tornado hit.

needless to say cutting dense cedar forest on steep rocky terrain is hard work. i am sore this morning and i'll be back at it today. on a positive note i can judge, wedge and fell trees very reliably. before yesterday the art of falling trees seemed more like guess work--especially on big trees it can be really scary. i fell some huge cedars yesterday. i couldn't reach around the trunk at chest height (that is huge for cedar). not to jinx myself but i'm getting pretty good at it.

oh the beautiful wood that is just sitting there ready to be burned. transport heliocopter anyone?

Sunday, January 01, 2006

the photos

mulberrys are fine trees but we need sunlight to shine on our orchard--we are cutting out the competition for sun and nutrients for our pricy orchard of apples, peaches and cherry trees. the squatter lot is our neighbors land and they have not visited it since the old owner died 30 years ago. they gave mike rites to use it years ago. it has an OK fence and nice grass potential for nimue. we plan to invest the minimum of effort to get it up to grazing status. the fence between us is the fence row that we are working on right now.

the wood that is left from the mulberry
burned fence row
standing in front of our garage looking toward the squatter lot (north)
standing in squatter lot looking toward house (south)
trimmed out trio of persimmon trees on squatter lot
looking south across our back yard toward garden plot and pasture
the fell sapling elm trees
the missing branches over the garage
looking in the back gate toward the pasture
this is where the milking shed will go
same as above
same as above view of old feeder we'll integrate into the milking shed
magnet on a stick--essential for after a bonfire
chicken coop in the new spot facing east standing in middle of garden area
looking south(ish) at chicken coop
mulberry posts to be fence corner posts 7'6" long
facing north from center of garden area
facing west from center of garden area
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