Sunday, October 29, 2006

buying local

the refrigerator went on the blink the other day. i was terrified that it was something serious. it seems that it had simply froze-up the automatic defrost stopped working. we manually defrosted it. things should return to normal but i have been instructed on the next measure to take if it happens again. buying from the local appliance store has paid off quite well. the prices are slightly higher than lowes but the difference in delivery usually makes up for it. but the best thing that happens is when things go wrong, which they aways do, there is someone to hold accountable. the owner of the store has personally came out to fix our washer at no charge--and it was our fault. the other funny thing that is different and better. i went to get a new water filter for the refrigerator and wrote down the numbers and names on the inner tag to be sure if i got the right one. he only asked one question "is it the one that you replace from the bottom grill?" if i were at homedepot i would have spent several minutes looking for a not-helpful employee and he'd have to consult some intricate reference catalog and i'd still end up with the wrong thing.
the kids are enjoying the fall

Thursday, October 26, 2006

morning chores

i am the manual manure spreader at the pile of omelays. each morning i collect the four to seven shovels full of dung (whatever is available). i heap them in one of three compost bins and dutifully cultivate them into the garden after a bit of fermenting. lately the wood stove has been adding another dimension to the concoction. i see it as nutrition for the food that we eat. making the compost makes me feel closer to the beginning of the process.

the broiler chickens are eating twenty five pounds of food every three days. i fill their feeders each morning and refill their water. most of the kinks of the watering system are worked out. i haven't had to do anything except re-fill their water in weeks. no disassembling and cleaning intricate parts or parched chickens every time i check on them.

the cows require grain and attention each morning. they especially like the dried beet pulp. we stopped milking since anatoly but nimue is still making milk and needs nourishment. the laying chickens love it when i feed the cows because there is always plenty of grain for them to snatch. feeding time is always a high energy moment, almost frantic.

i feel a real connection with the earth living this way. the circle of life is very apparent. fulfillment comes from the smallest things--from the beets we grew to the chickens we raised and slaughtered. simply eating dinner has many levels of fulfillment.

Monday, October 23, 2006

day off

last night was the first truly rough night since toly arrived. he woke both kids up and re-confirmed the mighty triumvirate's agenda. a funny thing has occurred with trisan and kassi. they have coalesced into a single force of uber feisty proportions. if the american indians had formed half as strong inter-tribe alliances the white man wouldn't have stood a chance.

we started tristan in a tae kwon do class on saturday mornings. he was very scared until the very end. when he finally got into it, it was time to leave. needless to say tristan felt unfulfilled and we had a little breakdown. tae kwon doe wasn't my first choice for an activity for him but that was all that is available in the area. i thought fencing would be really cool, alas that'd take living in a big city again. soccer will be the next pursuit for him.

i'd like to find something special for kassi too. tristan is the minimum age for tae kwon doe. i might instill a father-daughter night alone for a dress up dinner and pleasant company. i'd like that and she'd probably like it too.

i took the day off partially because of the lack of sleep. although, there were a few other conspiring events that solidified my decision. the guineas were killed, by an owl we suspect, last night. the house was a catastrophe from a weekend of movies and popcorn. i helped clean it the very first thing after chores.

things i did today also included:
-heavily mulch around the swiss chard--heavy frost predicted tonight.
-fixed tristans drawers--they were used as a stairway one too many times.
-turned the compost and queued a completed batch for the garden
-tore down merlins temporary shelter--nimue was trying to eat it.
-went to the P.O. and notary (certificate of live unassisted homebirth)

the garden
turnips are looking great.
swiss chard is unbelievably wonderful.
garlic is up and looking great.
beets are looking tasty.
the tomatoes are dead dead dead
mostly things are winding down.

the broiler chickens are ready to be slaughtered. we have solicited our wonderful neighbor to help butcher them for a share of the bounty. john agreed, so we'll just have to set down a date and do it. tabitha will manage the kids while john and i do the deed.

kassi just woke up and gave me the most wonderful smile.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

getting behind

i didn't do much today.

-loaded the porch with wood, four wheelbarrow loads
-cut down the castor bean trees--the big one had a six inch diameter stump. my chainsaw was insulted that i used it on a mere bean plant but i tried the hand saw and couldn't do it.
-made popcorn, the kids love popcorn and it is such a special treat. i make it old style, over the stove and only used lemon pepper to season it. normally i like to put on some fresh grated parmesan or asiago. alas we have no cheese.
-picked swiss chard and carrots for soup and quiche.
-helped make chicken soup. we have two gallons left over for the weeks lunches. they are outside cooling in half gallon mason jars--yum.
-i fixed my garage door opener. my secret hidden switch got wet in the latest storm system and incapicitated the entire system. i gauged my finger in ther process. i know better than to do anything without gloves but i always try anyway.

this week i met this guy "hot rod" he's a local radiant heat and solar guy. he seemed smart and tapped in to the local scene. i was just slightly disappointed cause i imagined someone of garys caliber. what the hell do i expect this *is* missouri. i guess the disappointment came because his opinions were stronger and his depth was less than garys. gary was my old boss at SLP. i wasn't there looking for a job--just hoping for a kindred spirit. anyway i'll meet him again and maybe things will be a bit different then. you'd think that i'm too old to harbor such idealism.

the wood-stove heater is cranking. the house is too warm. ha, i bite and flick my thumb in the face of the cold weather. i just came back from putting the chickens up. it is really cold out there. i have a huge pile of insulation in the garage that i hope to get some into the attic very soon. the problem is that i need to do some electrical work up there before i insulate. some of the plastic wire insulation was chewed off, by a rodent, while the house was abandoned.

i also plan to run another circuit from the main for a wall fan (between the bathroom and front room), a duct fan thermostatically controlled from the wood stove to the bedroom and the outlet for the refrigerator that isn't grounded.

i toyed with the idea of installing a back porch light, which i now have all the stuff for, but baby-time-warp has stole part of my day again. singing rocky horror time warp song

Friday, October 20, 2006


this is what it looks like when i want to use the computer while the kids are awake.

topsy turvy

top‧sy-tur‧vy  /ˈtɒpsiˈtɜrvi/ Pronunciation Key - Show Spelled Pronunciation[top-see-tur-vee]
1. with the top where the bottom should be; upside down.
2. in or into a reversed condition or order.
3. in or into a state of confusion or disorder.
4. turned upside down; inverted; reversed: a topsy-turvy reflection.
5. confused or disorderly: a topsy-turvy classroom.
6. inversion of the natural order.
7. a state of confusion or disorder.

#7 pretty much sums it up.

i have ended up sleeping with kassi in the front room every night for a few days. the couch isn't really big enough for the both of us. crazier stuff ensues. we seem to have a coalition of the awake. toly has formed a mighty triumvirate aligning himself with his siblings with a specific goal of sleep deprivation for the parents.

Monday, October 16, 2006

new photo gallery

toly's cord fell off yesterday. i say stop growing up!!! is it me or is time flying and kids are growing too fast. toly rolled over yesterday--i thought it was by accident. then last night he rolled over twice to get to tabitha while she was nursing kassi. what is the deal? why can't our babies just stay and stop growing up literally overnight? i'd settle for just slowing to some normal pace. it makes me so grumpy.
athough a welcome growth is kassi has taken to going and getting a pile of baby wipes and stacking them and putting them away. she does this of her own volition. she is amazing. kassi and tristan really love toly. tristan made a funny riddle yesterday. he has been contriving riddles for quite a few months now. i remember his his very first one. "what is round and licky and oh, so sticky?" answer: lollipop
yesterdays was "what is cute and roley and you guys can't stop staring at him?"
it rained all night last night and is til raining this morning. i measured two and an eighth inches a couple of hours ago.

to answer some comments:

i still haven't brought in the sweet potatoes. maybe once the rain slows i'll go get them. i guess they don't really need to dry out just get above 85 degrees for a few days. allegedly they'll need to be covered by damp cloth when next to the wood stove.

the broiler chickens have maybe two weeks left. our neighbor john has offered to help slaughter them. we'll give him some of the bounty when we are done.

thank you pablo for the compliment and yes there is plenty that i cannot do. as for the stuff i can do, i blame my parents. they raised me with a fierce independence and a desire to do everything myself. a person cannot be afflicted thus without the confidence to back it up. i fumble through life my head thick with confidence and some how always manage to follow through after i have leapt head-long into many a complicated endeavour.

yes, matt the salsa is good. you can have as much as you can eat when you come to visit.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

stuff i've still managed to do

i built a silverware divider for the kitchen drawer. we had one of those plastic cheap dividers but it was getting too small and it kept sliding toward the back after every opening. don't mind the front of the drawer it will eventually be sanded, filled and painted. also notice that i used the singular for a normally plural when i referenced the drawer. i still need to make the other drawers. the new boy interupted my production schedule.

i dug up all the sweet potatoes and left them to dry in the garden. i was supposed to pick them up at the end of the day but that wasn't in the stars. i hope they are alright. i will put them around the woodstove today to dry out for a few days.

we have stopped milking nimue the cow. merlin, her calf is chubbing up and looking really tasty. merlin it's what for dinner. i guess we will beable to restart milking with some effort.

we have been burning a fire in the wood-stove. the house is so cozy for toly. this will be the first year that we'll burn seasoned wood. last winter was spent burning wood that only partially dried. i already notice a huge difference. the fire starts easier, it can burn at a smaller size without extinguishing and there is much less ash. having a wood stove means that we can keep the house warmer than we'd normally afford.

i moved the living room around and did a deep cleaning. i even cleaned out the couch. the deep recesses revealed many lost treasures. the kids loved my treasure trove of discovery. all the egg shakers and discs for the movie viewer were recovered. the new vacuum almost completely refilled from the volume of debris.

we plan to go to church today. then anna will come to visit sans older boys. she picked up some gel capsules for us. the trouble with church is it seems to take up the entire day. this is especially highlighted by the baby-moon-time-warp which seems to leave me wondering where entire days have disappeared. we had a killing frost the other night and most of the garden is suffering. the swiss chard, beets and turnips are loving it though.

i also built a system to be able to move the chicken tractor alone. i have two wheels that slide onto two of the corners. then i can lift the opposite end and move it around like a wheel-barrow. it works so well that it makes me wonder why i didn't do it before. i guess i needed the muse of necessity to inspire. i'll take a picture today with wheels on.

Friday, October 13, 2006

things are totally different yet the same

toly is such a wonderfully unique addition to the family. we expected him yet he is unexpected. kassi and tristan feel displaced yet they truely love him. tristan loves to touch tolys feet--can you blame him? kassi would pet and caress him all day long if we'd let her. my world seems up-side-down yet right. new baby energy in a house is glorious and comforting yet slightly uneasy. i have been taking up some of the slack with tristan and kassi as mama dotes on toly. kassi is handeling it better than tristan did but it is still difficult.

things have slowed to a triage maintenance mode here at the homestead. the kids love having daddy home to play with. i have been sealing a few moments here and there to train rosie. she is coming along nicely. if anything she'll mind *me* once i'm done. i have started with bribery and treats and moved to affection to give her reward. she wants to please and pays close attention. she was barking and growling at a deer that was moving through the woods last night. i encouraged and praised her. she is really setteling in here.

the kids love love love the green tomato salsa. i was surprised that kassi likes it as much as she does. i knew tristan would--it is right up his alley. i dream to attempt another batch and put it up, we'll see. i also need to dig and prepare the sweet potatoes for storage. we had a heavy frost last night and all the leaves are dead. this is going to happen the first moment that i can steal away tomorrow morning.

our neighbors have been wonderful. they have been bringing us fully prepared meals. it makes it so much better for these first few days. so far we have had really interesting and delicious meals. we feel so blessed.

thank you everyone for your well wishes. toly is doing marvelous. he is so mellow compared to the other two kids. tristan and kassi have been spending a little too much time in front of the dvd player but both their vocabularies have improved as a result. tristan plays this game on the computer and usually gets above 1000 points. try it it is even kinda fun for adults.

happy friday the thirteenth.

new boy loved by siblings

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

anatoly gustav wren o'melay

anatoly gustav wren o'melay born at 4:01am 10/10/06
8lbs 6oz , 21 inches, 15 inch head
toly is beautiful
tabitha was miraculous
i'm tired

tabitha's labor is starting

it seems like labor has started, maybe an hour ago? i assembled the tub and promptly ran out of hot water--dishwasher was running and tabitha started a bath before she decided that this is probably it. hopefully our hot water heater will heat back up soon and we'll get to use the tub.

tristan is sleeping and kassi is awake and only slightly concerned--she is watching anastasia. things seem to be progressing--she is really positive right now.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

pre halloween fun

kassi in the strawbale maze.

and they are off... kassi in the lead and tristan in a close second.

the tube slide aka the butt buster. at the end of the slide is a big rock right where the tail bone hits.

this box filled with corn was their favorite thing to play.

we opted out of the hay ride to keep playing in the corn.

by the end kassi's underwear were full of corn.

tristan loved it also especially when we buried him.

tabitha is soooo ready for this baby.

green tomato salsa

we harvested roughly a third of our remaining green tomatoes. we pulled the plants and all. the kids enjoyed helping because it seemed so destructive.

the salsa recipe is a farmgirlfare delight. we modified it a little but the brilliant idea is all farmgirl's.

matt this shot is for you. we all know how much you like peppers.

this is the salsa cooking down. peppers and cilantro to be added yet.

salsa fresh from the garden and everyone helped.

Friday, October 06, 2006


tristans jamillion castle.

shy or being coy for the camera? you decide.kassi starting her own jamillion castle.

kassi is going to chub-up in the next few months. she has always been so skinny--i look forward to it.
tristan made up the word jamillion he uses it all the time. we encourage this creative license. in case it is not obvious jamillion means a whole bunch--approaching infinity and, given current technology, beyond measuring. someday he'll invent the device that can count that high?

Thursday, October 05, 2006

the original non-stick surface

did you know that using a teflon coated water dish will kill, parakeets, canaries, or lovebirds? i believe that teflon is bad for human consumption. reports state that teflon is allegedly safe only below 500 degrees F. i make a tofu dish that requires grape-seed oil because of it's high smoke rate. grape-seed oil smoke rate approaches teflons danger zone far too close for my sensibilities.
we use a cast iron skillet. they take abuse far better than teflon and usually provide a more even heat. i have had this skillet nearing five years and water beads up on it like mercury on a mirror. seasoning a skillet takes a bit of effort and gets better over time. unlike teflon pans a skillet requires oil, butter or fat to perform well. the health conscious might find fault with additional calories and other perils involved using oils and fats. my retort is exercise and moderation.
cooking using water based liquid in a cast iron skillet will ruin its seasoning. this doesn't ruin the pan though. so we do own a pan with a non-stick surface. this is a enamel based material and is allegedly inert. every tool has it's true purpose and this is especially true of a cast iron skillet.
so take the canary-in-the-coal-mines advise and don't eat out of teflon.

sore muscles

bob and i moved three refrigerators yesterday. the one in the upstairs needed to go away. the new one needed to replace the one in the basement and the one from the basement needed to go upstairs in the apartment above the garage. we could have used another person to help. i'm sore today!!!

i started the copper plumbing yesterday. the drainage plumbing is almost finished. the final connection to the septic tank will wait until later. the main water to all areas will be one inch copper. the house is large and has two jaquzzi baths plus a swimming pool in the basement. normal ozark-style 3/8 inch flexible lines won't do the job. luckily i have vast experience plumbing one inch copper from my solar thermal days. i'll take photos very soon.

i'm in quest for a water softener for the hot-water in our house. the dishwasher is completely incapacitated from lime build-up and tabitha is doing dishes by hand. this is a time suck especially when time is at such a premium--new baby coming....

tristan has settled into being a complete technophile. his computer skills amaze me. luckily he also is a rough and tumble farm boy.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

can we build it? YES WE CAN!!!

the table saw is a remarkable addition to my reality. sorry about the blog break but i have been playing with my new toy. i built a dog house for the dog. it took me about six hours. the kids love it, the dog is skeptical. i think it's cute.

merlin is looking mighty tasty these days. he is kinda trained to go into his pen when i go get him, usually around 3 pm.

the broiler chickens ar looking tasty too. i'll be killing them alone this time. tabitha has claimed new baby rights and says she'll be busy. maybe tristan can help?
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