Sunday, September 27, 2009

the end of an era

the electric company came by and cut down one of our two house shade trees. you might recall that it was hit by lightning several weeks ago.

they still must return with a larger saw to cut it down the rest of the way. it looks like the leaning tower of pisa. they left a huge bramble of branches and leaves.

i worked up some of the front to clear the driveway.

i estimate that i have roughly half of it cut up and probably a quarter of it split and stacked.

i'll stack this wood along the fence line by the road. the photo below shows how we had wood stacked  a few years ago and it made a nice privacy fence and sound buffer.

we moved one of our garden fences. henry's boundary moved too. he's still getting used to it.

we also exposed the last two round bales for the cows. i'll keep them in the upper paddock until these bales are gone. they really like mikes new millet hay. but we need to use this up.

we have been working long hard hours all weekend. tristan helps quite a bit.

we tore down most of the remaining tomato trellises.

the turnips seem to be doing nicely in the background.
we also surrounded the barn with a corral with a direct access pass through.

henry respects this boundary so far. the green gate was moved so we could close off the lower paddock separately from the barn corral.

here the barn is completely exposed so we can start working on it in earnest.

it is a neat place for the kids to play.

i also made a pallet pass through. ron should like this one. the bend is too sharp for the cows to pass through but henry passes through easily even at a full-run.

it is our version of agility training.

kassi stepped on a rusty nail while bare footed. her tetanus shots are current but we'll still take her for a booster monday or tuesday.

the pigs are really starting to tear up the their paddock. the tree roots are very exposed. good pigs.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

mid september photos

yesterday evening we went to to japanese fall festival in springfield. we have been wanting to go to it for a while and were half way there because of another errand. it was magical the kids had an incredible time. we neglected to take the camera, sorry. it was at the japanese garden which is beautiful. it might be our favorite place in springfield. we got there early and the booths were still setting up. one of them was selling ginko trees. i noticed the price a mere ten dollars for an extremely healthy four foot tall tree. the only local nursery that carries them would charge over a hundred dollars for it. i said "wow, it's only ten dollars." the guy said "oops that is marked from last year." he took the price off from it and said "i guess you guys could get it for that price." tabitha and looked at each other having always wanted a ginko tree. we couldn't fight it. having just lost one of our house shade trees to lightning sealed the deal.

cute isn't he?

besides as i age i'll probably need to make a tincture from it.

i moved the pigs to their new paddock.

not having a little truck, sniffle, i couldn't get enough pallets to build it. i decided to build it from the garden cattle panels instead. there use seasonally complements these pigs so there is no real waste there. i'll be able to use them in the garden in the spring without conflict.

they are already growing like crazy,

and finally getting friendly.

i moved the waterer over here and will use it for a little while until my fifty five gallon drum waterer can be made. i am still cleaning the chemicals from it. whatever they used as a scent for the stuff is crazy pungent and won't go away.

they are very healthy. these pigs root around much more than our last pigs.
i moved their feeder over too. see that white metal down by the feed doors? that came from our retired clothes drier. the chickens are happy to clean the pig waste feed.

they don't like their little hut yet.

it is supposed to rain tonight so maybe they will use it then.

once the pigs root this area up we will annex this area into our garden.

there is a huge stump that i hope they dig up for me. this will be a true test of their further usefulness.

i removed part of the fence next to the barn.

we hope to start working on it fairly soon. it is funny how our plan changes as time goes on. things aren't obvious until you start living there. as we attempt to use stuff things become obvious that weren't previously clear.

i used the chicken tractors as fence shoots to guide the pigs to their new digs.

henry-the-show-dog is coming to help out.

"how may i be of service?"

soft and fluffy

the cows are inspecting my work

jocelyn is looking great.

i picked up a few wheel barrow loads of rock and put them under the eve of the barn. this will be my materials queue for the foundation. i plan to use slip form rock and mortar technology for the barn foundation.

i'll document my efforts as we make progress.

this is the new millet hay from tabitha's father. they seem to like it. i have them off the upper paddocks to get some grass growing there.

henry checking on his chickens.

everything seems to be in order.

the cat agrees.

hey girls.

well done.

this is our old retired chicken tractor.

i need to tear it apart.

moon flowers are loving this weather.

this okra is crazy and tabitha is done canning.

it has been a long canning season.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

oh my goodness

thank you! it is way too much. we are so blessed and grateful. both tabitha and i are blown away by so much generosity and love. i find it difficult to be on the receiving end and am in a perpetual blush.

we are going to make it through this. we have our community support. thank you.

to answer a few questions;
wendy, tabitha is compiling a list of the kids needs and will post it soon on her blog.

debB, toly is fine, difficult but wonderful and we cherish him.

Renee, i can't put ads on my site it goes against my current position on the matter. my blog has become a labor of love and i like it that way.

how do we save money? in many ways, but mostly try to provide better quality for slightly less money. for example, our chicken raising operation probably cost us more per pound than we could get it in the store. but the difference between our chicken and tysons is vast. we don't buy processed food--only on the extremely rare occasion. we buy most food in bulk but usually the highest quality available. like whole organic grains that we hand crank mill ourselves. the best quality still costs less than processed foods. we raise our own hogs. there is a real money saver. they consume all of our food waste. also, we get their specially mixed and milled feed at a mill. it is almost half the price of the pelleted stuff available at feed stores. plus, we know what is in it. our hens and cows get similar treatment. additionally, the cows eat hay that i occasionally help put up. it is tabitha's generous fathers hay. we still buy it but we get a killer deal. we hope to be milking our heifer in about a year. that usually is a break even deal but the fresh raw milk is like heaven on earth. we sell a little to try to help offset the cost.
i make, install or fix everything myself. outside of warranty work there are no workers here besides us. our garden really kicks it up a notch. garden food makes it possible to eat like kings but cost next to nothing. well, almost nothing. if you were to add our labor at say a mere $5 dollars per hour this would be a deal breaker. luckily we love it and don't mind the considerable effort necessary. tabitha bakes bread and has canned tons and tons for our pantry. we exclusively use our solar clothes drier. so, mostly instead of working out of the the house, we work here on the farm. sure, i miss fatty tuna sashimi but i would trade no aspect of our life for it.

further plans for making ends meet are, we are going to put up an "eggs for sale" sign. we might sell one of our fat hogs. i'll work a bit more for my state job. i plan to try to get some solar work--i've got a couple of leads. i'll probably cut some extra fire wood this winter to sell next year. additionally little packages of campfire wood for the local camp grounds. our fall garden is doing nicely and should provide many many healthy meals. we might raise extra broiler chickens for sale next year. winter is our least expensive season and spring is always full of such hope. we plan to sell a little hope, rather seedlings this spring. we have tons of seed and a nice roomy greenhouse that we'll already be occupying with our own seedlings. we are going to butcher our own hogs and cow this winter. i'll probably try to kill a deer this year also. this will be a home-made christmas this year. our food costs are already extremely low and cannot reasonably be lowered without compromising our health. most of our clothes are from thrift stores or passed through friends. we buy stuff when we need it and discuss every purchase. frivolity is reserved for very special occasions and almost exclusively for the kids.

i almost forgot. tabitha posted her meat ball recipe at her blog. also

Wednesday, September 02, 2009


immediately after work yesterday i left for clever mill. it is about thirty miles from my work. we buy our specially mixed feed from there since they specialize in small batches five hundred pounds at a time. most other mills have a minimum of two thousand pounds. we do this since this quality of feed is not available in prepackaged pelleted products, the only other option.

i took my usual back road shortcut. immediately after i started on the dirt road i came to a sharp curve. i wasn't even going twenty miles per hour yet. ahead of me i saw a red toyota truck coming around the corner in the center of the road. i notice he wasn't looking at the road. in fact he was turned around reaching for something. i slammed on my breaks got even further to the edge of the road and laid on my horn.

eventually, it seemed like hours, his head popped up and he slammed on his breaks. all the while still headed directly toward me. slam, by this time he was only going fifteen or twenty miles per hour.

as you might know we only have one vehicle right now. we were planning remedying that as soon as possible. but times are tough, you know.. today i am stranded at home. our five hundred pounds of chicken feed and five hundred pounds of pig feed are still sitting there at the mill, we called and informed them.

i am waiting to hear from his insurance company. i am not hopeful since the little nissan has almost no perceived value. it was valuable to me. it started every time. it got great gas mileage. it could carry it's weight in feed, wood or whatever. the entire family could legally* fit into it in a pinch.

imagine on our tight budget the worst possible time for this to occur. we just entered a payment schedule for the pricey home school supplies. we just racked up our credit card to go to toly's hospital visit in st. louis. our water heater just went on the blink. the list goes on...

i need a truck, we heat our home with wood. getting wood to and around the farm requires a truck. i travel over an hour from home to get feed for the animals. i use my truck to work from, transporting my tools and supplies. i can easily stop and get building materials that might be set in the cull pile at the lumber yard. which is the kind of thing you'll miss if you don't get it at the time. having a pick-up has become critical to us saving money at every turn.

finally and most poignantly we need a vehicle to get to and from the hospital for toly. that vehicle isn't a truck. even a newer king cab won't legally" do the job. crap, i realize that things could be worse. i could have gotten hurt. or, worse yet, one of the kids could have been with me and gotten hurt. i feel very lucky in that respect. but, being lucky because it could have been worse doesn't salve the soul.

we have plenty of food to eat. i just don't know what to do. i guess i am still too stressed to see my way through this yet.

*abscure missouri law allows the exact criteria of the nissan to legally transport our family of six. this is due to it's age and type of seating.
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