Sunday, April 29, 2007

the tomatoes are in

this weekend i:

mowed the yard
worked on the calf pen until my batteries ran low on my drills.
made a bunch of mulch from the old bale of wheat hay.
spread compost in the garden.
roto-tilled the garden.
repaired and installed soaker hoses.
helped tabitha plant a bunch of tomatoes, eighty or so.
turned the compost.
shored up the fence and cut the opening for the calf pen.
delicately put mulch around the new tomato plants.
mowed the winter wheat in the top part of the garden.

we have been eating fresh salad from the garden every night. tristan loves it. he can recognize the different leaves. his favorite is tatsoi. kassi likes the salad too. she is really good at picking the leaves from the row. she is going to be a big help this summer. ahh, the joys of a spring garden.

we have shuffled our garden plan slightly. i haven't had time to make the changes in the document. the beets are starting to make. their little roots are just starting to fatten up--pencil width. the garlic and onions seem to be doing very well. i need to get a soaker hose on them as soon as the spring rains slack off.

the area where we planted the tomatoes has wonderfully rich, loamy soil. compared to last year i hardly recognize it. my composting efforts are really making a difference.

i didn't get new compost bins built. i need a few pallets yet. my current system is too small and i'd like to move the entire process to the outside of the garden. if i manage to build it as planned it will be too large and garden real estate is valuable.

the goats seem to be doing well. the little one is growing so fast. tabitha has been getting about a half gallon of goats milk each day. the kids drink almost every drop. the cow seems like shes getting much closer to calving. i can't wait until we start getting fresh cream again.

we are slacking off from tv. the nightly plop down in front of it until we go to sleep has stopped. the kids still watch some pbs in the morning. there is simply too much to do each day and having such a waste of time using up precious hours seems rediculus. we'll see how we fare this time around on the no-tv merry-go-round.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

welcome home merlin

we picked up merlin at the slaughter house today. our life is full of paradoxes. i couldn't work for bob last week because my injured leg wouldn't allow. so that put us into a financial crunch that was exacerbated by needing a new faucet in the kitchen. our old one fell into pieces and was not reparable nor usable. tuesday we went to lowes and bought a new faucet that i promptly installed. that check for the faucet was going to put us over the available balance. so, friday i came home from work and grabbed all the change in the house and took it to deposit in the bank. kassi and tristan needed to come also--the bank has a popcorn machine. the bankers all loved the kids and fun was had by everyone. i narrowly averted an overdraft with pocket change to spare. the paradox is that we picked up merlin and are eating like kings. we are broke, broke, broke but gorgeing ourselves on grassfed, naturally grown porter-house steaks. our huge freezer is almost not able to close with the all that beef.

the kids loved the steak even toly. tristan asked several questions about how merlin was killed. we explained everything several times and he understood. he really needed to get his mind wrapped around the whole thing better. kassi and tristan each ate an entire porter-house

steak--toly mostly sucked the bones. i thought toly was going to throw a conniption when he momentarily dropped his precious bone.

tabitha and i took a walk after supper. we like to walk around the farmstead and bask in the accomplishments and make strategies for the immediate future. tomorrow morning we will finish planting tomatoes. we have fifteen or so planted and have many more to plant tomorrow. in the afternoon i'll work on the calf pen more. it needs a partial roof over the back corner and the front gate. these are both things we can do without spending any money and are needed to be finished almost as badly as the root-cellar/storm-shelter. i need to purchase a load of chat to finish the cellar/shelter. if it weren't for my stupid leg injury i'd be probably finishing it up tomorrow. safety from the impending spring storms plagues me but things happen as they should. if i have time tomorrow evening i'll build new compost bins. i need a few pallets, tom has some laying around that i'll ask him about when the time comes.

i scattered about 2 yards of composted manure in the garden. the soil is looking so good right now. we have such high hopes for our garden this year.

bitty soccer

click on this photo to see the rest of them.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

one is enough thanks--pay it forward

so i only took one vicodin. i'd rather suffer the pain. it must not be that painful you say? only matt really knows my tolerance for pain. ibuprofen was the drug of choice yesterday. i had a vicodin hangover all day. i hate vicodin.

arnica seems to be the biggest help. the huge ace bandage tightly wrapped afforded me the ability to walk, rather limp, around. i plan to go to work tomorrow. i missed my two days work at bobs this week--that'll hurt.

yesterday we were sitting at a mexican restaurant, the kids were being extra cute.
we were practicing our spanish and devouring the chips-n-salsa at an alarming rate. the most unusual thing happened. a woman approached our table and said we had the most beautiful family. her right fist was tightly clinched around something. she proceeded to tell a little story of how she saw our family and it reminded her of her own tribe many years ago. and, on one occasion she and her tribe were sitting at a restaurant when a woman came up to them and told a similar story and gave them a gift of some money. at this point she relaxed her fist and dropped a fifty on the table. she nervously explained that it was our turn. she repeated that we had the most beautiful children and when they are grown and gone like her own we can pass it on--pay it forward. tabitha and i were dumbfounded. we couldn't refuse because it was too cool--the entire opportunity to pay it forward. we let her leave giving thanks but still in shock.

what she gave us was greater than the money it was embracing that moment. that brief lunch will be forever scorched into our memories by a perfect stranger. when we came to our senses we wanted to chase her down to know her. she was gone. our only chance is to reach into the timelessness of love and find our counterpart in the future.

life is truly beautiful

Sunday, April 22, 2007

hopped up on vicodin

i hate vicodin.

we met some friends at the park today. they have seven kids aging from eight to one. our kids really like them. we were buffeted by the wind. parking lot dust pelted us and i didn't feel much like eating. we brought one of tabitha's "show baked chickens" it was a big hit even during the dust storm. while others ate i got out the car-kite. it is a little kite that is easy to launch but usually only stays aloft for a few minutes. a downed kite means the next kid gets his turn. fun was had by all. then one of the kids wanted an escort to the bathroom so a mini entourage of the full bladder was formed. after the filthy bathroom was observed and spiders were counted we left by way of the playground. a pact was made--if the existing entourage would journey back with me we'd round up the rest of the interested players and promptly return to the playground area.


we returned and announced our intentions and disclosed our continued whereabouts. this time a sizable expedition was formed. then the running began we lost the only other interested adult in the dust. a deep concern slowly overwhelmed me. how was i going to keep track of all these kids? i contemplated the buddy system. then a seemingly miraculous idea popped above me. i would convince everyone to climb aboard the spinny go round really fast and wait for reinforcements. as kids started climbing on board i glanced back in vain for support. assuring that all kids were safely clinging to the bars i yelled "hold on for dear life". the spinning began as i ran along the side and launched them to a whirling doppler affected scream. then a few of them screamed in repeat "hold on for dear life". as i stood there with a heaving chest. i heard the dreaded "push us again". agreed.. then it happened the all started chanting faster, faster, faster. then it really happened, i felt a pop in my hamstring. i hobbled a few more steps and fell to the ground. it hurt like the worst charlie-horse-leg-cramp ever and hurt worse if i tried to move. luckily and humiliatingly shane (the other kids father) arrived to witness my crumple to the ground. kassi rushed over to me and i was briefly touched by her concern--"daddy i need to go pooo." shane took over kid monitoring and i lay there in pain. kassi left to go climb the climbing wall. shane came over to ask if she climbed up there by herself and if she was ok? i yelled for kassi to climb back down. "yeah she'll be fine" shane said "pulled a hamstring?" i said i don't think i can get up. shane sent his eldest son to get tabitha and the car. i forgot to give him the keys. silly me, i must have been distracted or something.

anyway i'm self medicated on some vicodin which still remained from my last injury several years ago. is vicodin shelf stable? ice, elevation, arnica and rest are calendared in for the next few days.

These are the remaining beets. the cedar poles kept the tarp from crushing the little buggers.

view from the garden past the barn to the new calf pen

hardening off the tomato seedlings. these are about eighteen inches tall.

the new calf pen that we built from scrap rough cut oak thin slab.

we are reluctantly letting our asparagus grow out to bush. oh, it took powerful self restraint to not keep eating those perfect spears.

did i mention that i hate vicodin?

Saturday, April 21, 2007

gardening in earnest

the recent freeze two weeks ago was brutal. i only managed to cover five rows of beets or two and a half depending on how you look at it. we plant our rows of beets on either side of a soaker hose as to get the most use from the water-zone. the greens have mostly survived i only covered the arugula--my favorite. the garlic is really coming to the front. tabitha pulled one by mistake while weeding. i promptly ate it--yum. it was about the size of a dime and it was one of the smaller plants. most of the onions have survived with some setback.
i roto-tilled a four foot wide row last night just to kill the weeds. i set the tiller as deeply as i could. this must have been one of those areas that was planted last year before we owned a tiller. i chugged and choked up so many rocks it was amazing. i picked-up five and two thirds buckets of fist or greater sized rock. i hearkened back to when were breaking soil for the first time. one huge difference is the general quality of our soil is much better. all of my composting efforts seem to be making some headway.
today is saturday and farmstead progress will be made, even though i'm a bit sore from my tilling efforts last evening.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

it's funny how things work

almost immediately after we got our cow back from "the bovine rendezvous" we noticed she looked pregnant. impossible you say? well about eight or nine months ago we walked the cow over to mikes for a conjugal visit with his bull "buddy". yes, for those of you that expressed concern over nimue's future and security--we know who the father is. why didn't we notice this earlier? the best answer is: we're lame. in my defense, i did ask tabitha if we could just get a pregnancy test--ya know pee on the stick. she said "they don't make those for cows." besides what would we do, tie it to her tail? logistics aside, it still think there is a business opportunity here somewhere.
so we have a pregnant cow. we have registered at and shower gifts can be sent in care of tabitha.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

crazed baby stands at six months

this photo captures the angst that drives toly to get into the fray with his siblings. kassi had the same burning desire in her eyes, except she was a month older--walking at seven months (NO TOLY IS NOT WALKING YET). a parent always worries that something is wrong when things are out of the normal. what is normal? does this mean that some other aspect of his development is lacking? i try not to think of it. kassi seems fine, she talked a little later than tristan. maybe the normal craziness that consumes my every moment is to keep me from thinking about this stuff? ho hum...

i'd like to go see this the tristan project. npr had a discussion about it and it seems like a worth while event.

lamenting loosing a friend i never met

poring through the news of the past week, i just read a quote of kurt vonnegut's that i want to keep.

"I was happiest when I was all alone — and it was very late at night, and I was walking up the hill after having helped put The Sun to bed. All the other university people, teachers and students alike,were asleep. They had been playing games all day long with what was known about real life. They had been repeating famous arguments and experiments, and asking one another the sorts of hard questions real life would be asking by and by. We on The Sun were already in the midst of real life. By God, if we weren’t! We had just designed and written and caused to be manufactured yet another morning newspaper for a highly intelligent American community of respectable size — yes, and not during the Harding administration, either, but during 1940, 1941 and 1942, with the Great Depression ending, and with World War well begun. I am an atheist, as some of you have gleaned from my writings. But I have to tell you that, as I trudged up the hill so late at night and all alone, I knew that God Almighty approved of me."

it touched me in the same way that his books did ever so long ago.

Friday, April 13, 2007

baby goats do the cutest things

tabitha caught the animals up to some unusual antics. it is linked through her account i hope you can see it. it is a video that must clicked on to see.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

happy Easter

kassi and tristan having their first easter egg hunt. abuelo and abuela hid the eggs up at their house (aka: the big fancy). kassi would scream like a little girl (well she IS a little girl) every time she saw one. it was wonderfully fun. i never thought easter egg hunting was fun until now.

toly fell asleep in my arms after the "easter feast" as tristan calls it. tabitha baked a wonderful ham and made goats milk custard pie. our neighbors were slated to join us also but they had to scurry off to columbia because of a death in the family.

toly, all pleased with himself. crawls like the wind resorts to the bear crawl when true speed in necessary. he climbs up on his chair and stands, yes he stands (while holding on) at 3 days short of six months.

the kids love their new bunnies and presents that my parents sent. they wouldn't go anywhere without them.

Friday, April 06, 2007

asparagus season is upon us

it was anyway. a cold front moved through last night and probably halted all our gardening efforts.tabitha has been milking the new goat and things seem to be going well. the kids both like the milk. kassi took a little more encouragement. i have been using it in my coffee and it seems fine.
i had my first very slight case of poison ivy yesterday. i hope to contribute to, or bust, the old wives tale that drinking the milk from a goat that eats poison ivy will make you immune to poison ivy. the goat has surely been eating plenty of poison ivy. i just need to start drinking the milk. right now there isn't very much extra over what the kids will consume so i'll wait until things stabilize.

bitty soccer is amazingly entertaining. kassi and tristan enjoy it and are so cute. it is like their personae is distilled, intensified and dressed in a cute little soccer uniform.

the whole album as tabitha uploaded it follows:
april3rd, soccer

Monday, April 02, 2007

not enough irons in the fire

we have decided that we need a summer kitchen. this is queued for after the root cellar, after the barn and before the master bedroom addition. this summer kitchen is the old-time answer to canning during the hottest part of the year. the current prerequisites are: completely screened in, location to be at the back gate, and tall enough to block the neighbors winter view of our house. we want a wood-fired cook stove and running water that can be isolated, drained during freezing winters and solar heated during summer. it'll probably end up where we hang out on summer evenings so the barbecue should live out there also. tabitha wants a wood fired bread oven there also. i imagine a nice big hearth would be nice too. my next step is to design it.

this morning is a moon-set and sunrise all at the same time. what a glorious day it will be.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

one of those people

we are now GOAT people. ya know the stereotype. we were most the way there already all we really needed was the GOAT(s) and a fence upgrade to bring it all to a crunchy crescendo of hippie, hillbilly proportions. i made my final capitulation yesterday and the goat arrived shortly there after.

said goat arrived with kid in tow. her name was variety and is now dulcinea of la mancha and her nameless kid is now aliyah of dune. there are many reasons that i could rattle off why we now have a goat (milk allergies, milk supply cycle issues) to name a few but mostly we have a goat because tabitha wanted one (or two as the case may be).

i spent my day fencing (no matt, no sword was involved).
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