Saturday, December 31, 2005

a day of rest

yesterday was a sorely needed day of rest and i paid for it today.

i climbed on the roof and cut the looming branches over the garage. tabitha tried to help but she is scared of heights and forgot until she was on the roof having vertigo.

i cut split and stacked most of the remaining wood from the mulberry tree that needed to get cut from the area where our orchard will be.

i cut several trees from the fence row that we are removing. the fence row was comprised of nasty old-growth multi floral rose bushes. my arms are so scratched up that i look like i was attacked by a pride of feral cats.

i cut down the over grown rose-of-sharon just in the front yard. that is prime orchard location and it had to go.

i set and burned 4 separate bonfires--the embers are still glowing. there is still plenty of brush to be burned tomorrow.

i cut several hundred little american elm trees from our squatting lot. most of them are still where they fell.

a 77 year old gentleman stopped by to ask if we were selling any of that wood. i said no and told him about mike and that he sells wood for $40 a rick. he went and looked at the wood and decided that the pieces were too short and split down too far. he then wanted to walk around the farmstead. looking at some of the wood that i cut too long for our wood stove he asked how much i'd charge for a cord of that. i told him that it's still green and he insisted that it was ok. i said $75--the going rate is $80 for seasoned wood. he agreed, so i'll cut a cord of wood for him. tabitha saw him and said "why doesn't he cut his own wood?" "i said he's 77 years old," he didn't look a day over 60. i like to see elderly people whom look younger than they are. i showed him my new splitting maul and whacked a big trunk of mulberry in two. i was kinda showing off because i knew that mulberry practically falls apart at the sight of that splitting maul.

we got a huge round bale, from a friend of the family, of wheat hay for nimue. she love love loves it. you'd think we were starving her the way she dug into the stuff. $40 seems a reasonable rate having it delivered. another level of comfort was achieved having her fed with that quality of hay. earlier the entire family hung out in nimues pasture lying next to nimue as she chewed her cud. it was a kodak moment but will have to be just a fond memory.

we moved the allegedly portable chicken coop this morning. the wagon that is used in the process has low tires and made things difficult--near impossible. the two wheeled hand truck that lifts and rolls the coop flipped up and slammed into tabitha (she's fine) tabitha slammed into the side of the coop. all was overcome by brute strength and pig headedness.

the chickens produced 6 eggs today! huevos rancheros baby.

mike & nancy's house warming party was last night. it was great fun and their house looks great.

kassi just came to me and said "pees pees awahr". she wanted some water and was saying please--my little angel.

tristan is successfully weaned going on three days of no may-may. he broke his "new very special chritmas sword" today--there was much crying and gnashing of teeth. it was held together by a flimsy dowel. i dremeled out the handle the shape of the blade and gorilla glued them together. it should be stronger than the original but still has a limited life span ahead of it. i'll have to fashion a better one from a single piece of wood--probably hickory would last the longest. a person would need a table saw to do something like that. hopefully that dilemma will be sorted very soon!!! (fingers crossed)

i'll take photos of the changes tomorrow and post them to this entry.

Monday, December 26, 2005

first official house guests

tabitha's father & step mother came for turkey dinner last night. tabitha made an excellent bird. she makes a classic excellent stuffing that really topped things off. our house is almost too small to have dinner guests especially since the entire place is the kids play room. i cleaned and ran interference against the kids most of the morning. if given the chance, the kids will make a larger mess directly behind you as you clean.

our house is feeling cozy these days. as we hang more pictures and finish more details in the house it gets more homey. we still have loads of work to do indoors--glaring examples are: the trim around most of the bathroom, kitchen drawers and cabinets, fixing broken tiles, and painting the bath and front room. it seems to never end.

the advent calendar ended nicely. the last little doors were of the nativity scene and as tabitha was explaining the little family and special birthday--tristan said "mommy, i'd like to give all those toys to that baby jesus." what a sweet boy. tristan got a new wooden sword--his old one has seen too many battles. when the sword arrived it was a bit too long so i shortened it--it is still broad-sword size for him. a sword might seem a little violent for a three-year-old but it is plain to see that his imagination grows with it in his hand.

wood heat, there is nothing else like it. an extra warm house on a cold day is a nice place to be. i have been planning the chimney re-construction for next summer. i want to have a masonry chamber in the center of the house that heats up its thermal mass then radiates into the bathroom. it should more evenly heat the house. this will be especially important as we add a master bedroom. i'll post my plans when i draw them up.

i really need a table saw, mike has been loaning me his but needs it for his house. i have the radial arm saw but nothing replaces a table saw. i'll have to start looking at garage sales and used ads in the paper. maybe i can get by with a decent skill saw which i also lack. anyway...

i got a new watch for christmas. it is just a simple timex with a normal face, easy to set the time, a digital date display, an indiglo back light and an alarm. what more does a watch need to be? i find that i can get by without a watch except when it is necessary to know the date. there are always clocks around but a calendar doesn't really do you any good unless you know what day it is TODAY.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Happy Holidays

our holidays have been rescued by wonderful and considerate gifts. we were resigned to extremely modest gifts and mostly sharing the holiday spirit. we have been blessed yet another time. tristan is so excited about opening the presents that it is all he talks about. my parents sent us an advent calendar--he loves it. each morning he asks mommy to get it down and open another door. they talk about each little surprise behind the door. it is teaching him about waiting and helping to build the excitement for the big day. we have the presents on the top shelf because they are not safe under the tree. tristan might be convinced to wait but it is beyond kassi to understand the concept of waiting.

i'm usually not big on holidays but these kids are so excited and we have lots of presents for them--clothes, books, educational videos and just a couple toys. it will still be a modest christmas compared to most but it will be perfect for us.

i talked to the electrician that i interviewed with. he was excited to hear from me and is overwhelmed by the holidays and the inability to do normal business. i suggested that i call after the new year. he seemed relived and appreciative. we'll see.

Happy Holidays All…

Monday, December 19, 2005

it broke

my wood splitting has come to a complete halt. i broke the weld on the handle of my missouri splitter (maul). the previous manufacturer and my current employer gave me the maul. i need a new one. my plan is to take it back to him and see if he has another back stock to replace it. i guess i could have mike weld it but he has been a nay-sayer about it and this would only reinforce his position, besides welding certainly would affect the epoxy and fiberglass portion of the handle. i wish this would have happened before i began to really like the stupid thing. i hated it at first but being the only thing available i used it until it has become an extension of my wood splitting persona.

i modified the grip portion of the handle to fit like a glove.

i guess continuing splitting that twisted hickory was a bad idea after all. but the maul seemed so indestructible. i wrongly thought it was only my will and strength against the piece of wood. sadly the maul was the weaker, previously not considered, player in the struggle.

goodbye, missouri splitter (maul) may you rest in peace.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

nimue (the cow) nim-eu-way

she is here on premises. i felt badly for her since we only had scorched earth and the labyrinth of partially split fire wood to offer her as pasture. she is mooing distance from her friends and calls to them. it is so sad. i went out and split wood to try to clear some trotting area. she'd come over and want me to pet her and if i walked anywhere she follow. it's kinda like having a big slow dog. i tried to split that twisted hickory out of her way--i got through about two wheel borrow loads and gave in. it is so trying to split because i have to hit it in exactly the same spot three or four times to get it to crack apart. then when i finally get it to crack it holds its self together with these twisted strands. any way i'm over half way through that trees wood then i get to go back to the white oak easy easy easy. if i set it up exactly right i can get that to split into four pieces with two strikes.

mike (tabitha's father) and i moved one of his bulls to a loaner breading herd. wow that is an adrenaline rush. they are so huge up close and have absolutely no fear. he is considered a mellow bull and mostly just wants to be left alone but man was that ever dangerous and exciting stuff.

we also went and got an old feeder to build nimue's milking shed around. it is huge and heavy 500 lbs plus. it'll be a cool divider between hay storage and milking area. a friend of mikes built it 30+ years ago in high school shop class out of rough cut oak timber. we plan a post and beam structure (cedar trees) as the vertical (posts) supports. there are several to choose from that are close to the intended shed location. i'll probably fell them tomorrow and drag them to their new home. tabitha is in charge of digging the holes for the posts. the farm we got the feeder from has an old barn falling down. tom, the fore mentioned feeder builder, told us we could pillage any of the wood and steel roofing. SCORE instant lumber and roof for the new shed. it's all old oak rough cut. i'll have to pre-drill all nail holes during assembly so it'll be slow going. but it will be strong. the barn still needs toppling but that should just take a couple of logging chains and a tractor. we have an old cast iron tub for the water troth (that is a little too white trash for me to stand for very long)

needless to say our pasture is enclosed--we completed it last week and felt very proud of ourselves. i have been working up that old, very dead, hickory out back for firewood. my lats (laticumus dorci) are getting wing-like and my stomach is in the best shape it has been in years. best of all my aim with that missouri splitter (maul) is deadly. of course i still have the random glancing blow but i could kill a fly sitting on the log with that thing.

the kids have runny noses but are so cool to be around. they accost me with screams and hugs every time i return home. trstan has been hanging out while i split quite a bit. he gets cold and goes into the house to warm by the fire. it is too cold for kassi to spend too much time outside not strapped to mama. tristan climbs around on fell trees and generally pleases me with excellent questions and exclamations. yestereve at dinner i scolded him for putting cabbage, that he didn't want to eat, from his fork onto my plate. he smugly and rightly said "daddy that's a bowl" ohhhh boy does he ever take after his mother. already a sharp whit at 3-1/2.

the chickens are really starting to lay eggs we get one a day and sometimes two. production should get up to ten or so a day by christmas--tabitha is my source here.
i need to affix the final laying box and attach the add-on roof.

the pasture next to our house needs repair next. that'll be much easier since we plan to mostly just prop-up the existing stuff and add as little as possible. there is green grass there right now that nimue could be eating instead of imported bales of hay.

always too much to do and too little time.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

keeping my fingers crossed

i met with an electrician whom, it seems, would be excellent to work for. he said during the interview that he was impressed several times. i hope it works out(fingers crossed).

i'll know more friday evening.

wish me (us) luck....

Saturday, December 10, 2005

a morning of rest

no entire day of rest around here. i worked on web design most of the day yesterday. after the chill melts away i'll be helping mike (tabitha's father) move into their new house. it is a great house built 50 years later than their current abode. it is very cool the yard is all sugar maples and "show trees". a huge barn filled with mikes hay and an almost as large garage. the house has a basement, central air, and integrated carport(all rare for around here). other features include massive front sunroom, whole house fan, two bathrooms, three bedrooms, and a large great room.

we are so happy for them that it is like it's happening to us. they rented their current house. we hope the new tenants are very cool. it is easy to get "pit-bull ranchers" around here. early on, they offered us their current house to live in instead of this one but we love this little house (it is ours). we have put so much blood, sweat, heart and soul into this place it is impossible to imagine anything but our future here.

the fence is very close to being done. we will work on that tomorrow. maybe finish it. that new gate in the upper pasture was the last serious addition--the rest is all fence stretching.

Friday, December 09, 2005

first snow

Tristan standing on one of the fallen trees. this one is an american elm this is near impossible to split (without a mechanical splitter) so we are just burning it over our garden and stumps for nutrients and stump ridding potential.

Tabitha and the kids look like spacemen. the flash makes the reflective material on the winter coats glow.

here is our snowy chicken coop.

this is the upper walk through gate for our pasture

we had our first snow yester morn early. we were so excited that we got up and dressed before sunrise. the kids loved it. the roads were tragically awful. to make matters worse we had to travel the roads to bradleyville. about 55 miles of very curvy icy snowy roads on the first bad road day is one of the more stressful things i can imagine doing. the other day i had a tooth-filling crack and partly fall out. Tabitha miraculously found a dentist that has a low income sliding scale that accepted me on an emergency visit. we also needed to pick up our bulk organic flour and pasta from hodson mill. they are just a mile or so from the dentist.

the dentist was great (cheaper than my last co-pay while insured). she had very tiny hands and skillfully worked fast and with purpose. i'd go to her again even if she weren't sliding scale. i hate dental work--it is my personal-torture. i can take most any other physical pain much more easily then drilling in my teeth. what information do you want to know?

oh driving after Novocain injection was, if possible, even more stressful. the only thing i can imagine that would be even more dangerous and stressful would be to have tabitha drive home. she is an infrequent, at best, driver and never never in the snow.

we arrived home without incident--and i passed out on the rug in front of the wood stove. i can never sleep during the day unless very ill. either the shot or the stress overcame my physical inability to sleep during the day. dental work ruins your day.

one of the bonfire locations is still smoking from the stump this morning 5 days later. the other fire location still has coals glowing but that is just two days since the flames went out.

my parents and sister sent a package for christmas. OH the kids love LOVE the gifts. there were hand-made and so wonderful. Kassiopeia got a doll collection, Tristan a wagon/cart and tractor. we got some lovely ornaments (german bells, i think they are called) for our tree. the tractor hasn't left a 15 foot radius from tristan since it's arrival. the kids were there when we opened the large box and keeping the gifts from them until christmas wasn't possible for their little minds to accept.

work on the homestead has ground to a halt but should pick back up the pace tomorrow. today is for design/web work. besides it's a mere (8 degrees F) outside right now.

Monday, December 05, 2005

frosty morning

it got really cold last night--in the teens. this is some beautiful frost that was on the car--with the sunrise in the background.

these are 8 - 100 liter bags of leca. we plan to put it on the garden to loosen the soil. it is normally really pricey stuff ($35 dollars wholesale per bag). it is used in the hydroponics industry as the substraight for the plants to grow in. ben gets a sea-container of this stuff at a time. he uses it as the insulation between his flue liner and the chimney block. he sells huge quantites of this stuff. he gave me the dreggs that were mixed with part of the parking lot gravel and leaves. i have one more bag to get next time i work.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

cedar shavings

lots & lots of cedar shavings happen from sharpening cedar posts into fence posts. the process is relatively simple cut down the tree or in our case an entire grove. make 6-7 foot length poles, then sharpen them with the chainsaw. take a heavy pointy steel rod and start the holes wobble the rod around in the hole to make it conical and deep. drive the poles into the ground with a big sledge hammer. i used mikes 13lb post hammer. then run the wire fence. it is a simple process but it takes a while.

here is a picture of our chicken coop with the add on egg laying boxes.

this is the christmas tree that we got--it really makes the house smell like christmas.

the wood pile is growing still

this is the big hickory that it takes 3 pieces from this log to fill our porch with wood = 1 week of heat.

Friday, December 02, 2005

chicken invasion

yester morn (before 9am) i split, hauled and stacked three slices from that dried hickory out back next to the hollow. from those three slices i filled the porch wood pile that was almost empty. in the bark lived some hibernating grubs. as i found them i gave them to the chickens. we have been keeping them locked up until afternoon since we are expecting some eggs very soon. they must have seen where i was getting the grubs from because later in the afternoon, after they were released, they mounted the wood pile and were scratching around on it. admittedly, they always climb any new landscape feature i manage to create. the difference is this is located in our front porch and didn't pose any of the usual new vantage points that any of the other piles present.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

thwarted engarde

our fencing efforts were thwarted by looming web work. it appears that our asymmetrical dsl connection is very slow on the back side.

on a more precarious note, the very cool company that has been hosting my website since the 90's has just been bought out by google. i wonder how that will affect my web hosting situation. i imagine things will progress as is for a while at least. i am very glad for them because they are probably extremely wealthy now. and i knew them when...

oops my upload is complete.

no need for an air to air heat exchanger here

from a canadian study, when a house has poor air quality it is one of the main reasons for general illness and fatigue. this is caused by the house being too tight. carbon dioxide builds up in the house and makes people ill. this is not to mention the off gassing of OSB, teflon stain repellant, pvc coating on just about everything, and the list goes on... anyway, it is near impossible to build a new house in non rural canada without installing one of these air to air heat exchangers. they basically bring in fresh air into the house by heating it with the exhaust air leaving the house.

this presents problems with combustion in the house. it affects gas stove operation, wood stoves and especially fire places. they over come these issues by putting a positive pressure on the house. basically the house is slightly pressurized by a big (part of the heat exchanger) fan. then when an exhaust is necessary, like while cooking, there is ample air and positive pressure so that the smoke can easily exit.

well, this is usually only necessary where "air tight" conditions exist. we don't have that problem here in our little house. it is windy and cold outside today and it is all too apparent where all that necessary woodstove combustion air is coming from. we obviously get plenty of fresh air in our little house.

the front door is old and has many window panes. it is fairly attractive and we don't intend on replacing it. the front room window, we'll eventually replace it but for now it's extra ventilation. the broken window panes in the kitchen, which used to go outside but now display our add-on utility room, they are high on our agenda. the sliding glass door at the back of the house, this is where the eventual add-on master bedroom will go. we won't replace that with a new door we'll just build a whole new room there. that is about it. the rest of the house is pretty tight. so worst case scenario if everything were fixed we'd still have the front door, which we plan to keep as is, for ventilation.

maybe well eventually get a heat exchanger but for now it's not needed.

tabitha and the kids are getting better. thanks for the well wishes and good thoughts. i am working on website stuff today. last night i figured out how to get that little icon next the url without designing completely in css. has my test icon it's a little logo for the site that i'm working on. it wasn't really that big of deal except that i'd never done it before.

we'll probably get some fencing done today. engarde....

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

stupid flu

yes we are mostly sick. here some old photos that i missed putting up

kassi really likes to read while she is on the potty

the wood pile is growing

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

tabitha is not feeling well

it is 12:30 am. tabitha woke me up cause she was cold and wanting some flu medicine. i hope she is better by tomorrow. i guess this virus is going around. i can't sleep usually once i'm awake. i have stoked the fire and hopefully this'll get the house warmer. i think that an overly warm house will help. it is cold out there and windy tonight. the kids also seem sickly. it really stinks when tabitha and the kids are sick.

my watch broke yesterday. that stupid watch has been on the verge for quite some time. it was a cool idea being a solar watch. but, i immediately scratched it and the time necessary to re charge it in full sun was gradually getting longer and longer while the days were getting shorter and shorter--stupid watch. finally i took to recharging it in full spectrum light. this seemed to work but it had odd results. the manual dial changer thingy stopped working. i admit it i never really sat down and tried to really figure the stupid thing out. i'd just start pushing buttons until i started to get positive results. this seemed to work for a
whatever........ the stupid watch is now completely gone. the real reason that i lament its demise is it was my only real method of keeping track of what day it is.
sure, while at the computer i have no problem but that usually happens only in the middle of the night and who cares what day it is when it is 1 am.

i've always wanted a swiss army watch but they are too pricey for our budget. especially the version that keeps track of the date also.

so i'll stop babbling about that stupid watch now.

tabitha ground some of that deer meat and made tacos last night. they were pretty good. kassi loved them. i'll probably have them for lunch today also. we are so frugal these days--necessity makes great things happen.

i talked to my family over the holiday. it is great to hear from them. so much has happened since we all last spoke. it is hard to really talk about the kids since they don't see them--and they are my every joy. it makes for awkward conversation. i hope that it gets better as time goes.

Monday, November 28, 2005

field burn

here is a picture of the field that we just burned. tristan is standing on the the same log that i am sitting on in this next photo.

tristan took this photo of me. i think he did a pretty good job.

this is a photo of that missouri splitter that ben gave me. it's grown on me. i was forced to use it, because it was all i had, and now i like it. i've used it to split about 2 cord of wood. i had to modify the handle and swing and miss a whole lot. but now i'm in much better shape, have a big pile of wood to heat the house with and can hit the spot i want almost every time.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

eighteen cedar posts later

we completed the most southerly fence line today. it took a total of 18 cedar fence poles that came from across the road on mikes property. the scale on my illustration is a bit skewed. the eastern fence line is next and is about twice as long. that'll use up probably 40 cedar posts. then we are almost done with the nimue pasture. the road side already had a fence--it only needed a little work(corner posts and re-stretching)

i updated the garden map. it's a bit more accurate. the purple fence lines are alreday completed. we discussed it & decided to move the milking shed to the back of the pasture. i'll need to level the ground in the new location. i wish i had a line level. mine are all gone. obviously they seem like toys to small children.

the to-be-seasoned wood pile is growing and as a bonus will make a nice privacy fence from the road. i plan to extend it the entire length of nimue's pasture. there is about 3 ricks of wood there already and i have yet to split the hickory and all of the big sections from the oak. just these two trees should yield 7 or 8 ricks of very nice wood. but that is for next year since burning green wood is a really bad idea.

we also burned most of the field, we are hoping it killed most of the saplings. we plan to rotationally feed nimue (the cow) across the field. it should seed the field from the stepped-on hay all winter long. then in spring good grass might grow.

i'll take photos of our post apocalyptic pasture and fence tomorrow.

Friday, November 25, 2005

the fence, the fence, the fence....

We have successfully set all the corner posts for nimue's fence. there were five corner posts (of this type) necessary. the three other corner posts are rock rings, as seen below. the pasture is about an acre square with a 40' by 70' rectangle subtracted for our garden from the side closest to the house. the milking shed will be close to the road and have an integrated gate to access front of the pasture. there will also be a gate near the back of the pasture. for vehicle traffic. I can see that a drawing is necessary. I’ll post one later today after consulting the map-master and spending a few minutes with illustrator(tm).

I’m going to take today off. I’m not really feeling well and I hate to work at less than full physical capacity.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Happy Thanksgiving

Kassiopeia is trying really hard to potty learn. She will go pee in the potty most of the time and now does most of her poo there too. Tristan is feeling the need to learn to read. He sits and stares at books for hours. He can recite many of his books but he still brings new ones to me and says "I can't say the words." I usually teach him a word or two and always read the book to him. Tabitha and I are settled in our little house. We love it here in Missouri.
Fencing in the pasture next to us, raising and killing chickens, getting ready for spring (garden, orchard, and cow) and generally fixing things up as we go are our main activities.

These kids are great and I relish every moment with them. They have been helping me (watching & hanging around) cut & split wood. It gives me great nostalgic pleasure. I spent many many hours with my father cutting wood; in fact, some of my best memories of spending time with my father were cutting wood. For me, cutting wood is similar to the affair that sailors have for the sea. Tristan asked "daddy why do we cut wood?" I said "to heat the house." That answer was fine for him. Usually there would be a flurry of other questions that would force me to substantiate my answer but heating the house was obviously also important to him. The relationship between each piece of wood that I split and the heat that it gives to our little house is so easily seen that the gratification of each swing if the maul is incredibly invigorating. Plus, I’m in the best shape I have been in for the past 15 years.

I never thought I’d enjoy having kids as much as I do. They are my every joy! They will wake up here in a few moments and, each in their turn, will come over to me and hug and squeeze me good morning. If there is one thing that kassi has contributed to us--it is affection. She is just a little hugger. Tristan has seen the pleasure that is exchanged and has become a little hugger too. Sometimes I wonder at what age this level of affection dissipates. I hope never. I have some friends that have fully grown kids and still hug and squeeze and kiss them like they were infants. I love that about them. I endeavor that kind of relationship with my kids.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

clear sky

it is a cold morning 4:30 am. the sky is clear orion is directly overhead. there is a strange luminescence radiating from a jet-stream-cloud dividing the heavens. i can see my breath almost freezing and dropping to the ground as i crunch it with every step. cassiopeia is at the horizon.

i love this time of day. getting fire wood, stoking the fire, warming the house. my first cup of coffee is always alone. i get that solitary moment to recharge for the day. there is stirring coming from the bedroom. the silence is broken.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

killing station

the foreground is the remaining fire from all the brush. yes, that is blood on that log. the hatchet wasn't the ideal guillotine i had to hit each chicken's neck twice to sever it. the blood that spewed all over tabitha and myself was ridiculous the first chicken. we inhaled way too many downy feathers while plucking. the wretched plucking was so incredibly tedious. tabitha says "this is just the kind of crap that hannibal the cannibal had to put up with."

i burned all of the feathers and heads in the re-kindled fire. the butchershop is now closed until further notice........

killing chickens

today is going to be about killing chickens. i'll post photos later.

there are four large trees laying in pieces in the field. most of the brush is burned and now we'll just have to split and stack them into piles. the coals were still hot three days later from the original bonfire. i stirred the coals yester eve and restarted the brush burning. i'll go out there this morning before breakfast and work some more of that mess up.

i can't wait for the day to break so i can get started. it is supposed to snow here today!! that would be very cool.

Friday, November 18, 2005

it was F*#k!ng huge

the thorn finally came out with persistant digging. it was huge. 3/8 of an inch long--deep in my hand.

i might have been easier for it to come out the other side.

whew, now i can split wood again and work again, i am so happy the suffering is over. man the puss that came with it was amazing.

oh, happy day!

Thursday, November 17, 2005


i responded to all who posted in my last post. it was long and took most of my "blog-time"

anyway, my hand is getting better. i'm still not splitting wood yet though.

it is really cold here. the house is at sauna temperatures. the kids are stripped down playing thomas the tank engine. the island of sodor is grown to massive proportions (inside joke for those privy to thomas and friends).

the o'melay butcher shop is now open for business so i must get to work.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

disposing of the body

we butchered some of that deer yesterday. what a primal experience. i kept having flashes of some steve buchemi movie where he was trying to dispose of the body. what a gruesome task butchering is. i can see why people pay $80 to have it processed. we simply cannot to afford that luxury. anyway what is the point of hunting if most of your experience is just like buying the prepackaged product from the store? we have to butcher the white chickens this weekend. they are huge and their dinosaur ancestry is very apparent. i told tabitha that after this weekend we'll be able to open our own butcher shop.

it seems as though this web work is starting to move along. i'll probably try and do that most of the day today.

tabitha has had a bit of a tiff with one of her veggie friends. it is, of all things, over my killing a deer. that is not really a big deal--except for some reason tabitha has to test her arguing prowess on me. it was the worst day ever.

i guess there was some sort of make-up yester eve. things should be better today--hopefully.

mike and nancy closed on their new house and mike was busy painting the ceiling most of the day. their new house is great but it needs a bit of work. it has bad 70's deco and wood paneling everywhere. they will make it very cool. the old owners died and their relatives left most of the invaluable stuff there. mike and i rummaged through drawers and closets. it was weird like snooping through someone’s life. as i rummaged, i kept thinking what a great beginning scene for a teenage horror thriller--creepy stuff. i got uncomfortable after a while and had to leave.

we got over three inches of rain lately. the cold weather is finally here. our wood stove cranks this little house to sauna temperatures pretty easily. there is nothing like a wood heated house in the cold winter. it is always a little too warm but cozy because you can always step out into the blustery weather.

i also started building the laying boxes for the chickens yesterday but my hand gave out. what a fiasco this stupid infected thorn is. i have them mostly built and mounted on the coop. now i need to attach the doors and cut the little entrances from the main coop area. i guess there needs to be some sort of perch at the entry to keep non-laying interlopers from sleeping there. i'm going to make a watershed for them from some old corrugated steel. i'll post pictures later it'll make better sense to see them.

our neighbor, pam, brought some cool furniture. normally we'd decline but they have great taste and gave us some very nice stuff.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

septic stob wound

the thorny honey locust tree has very dangerous 2"-3" thorns growing around its trunk. coincidentally these trees allegedly make excellent corner posts. i fell two of them to use for our nimue (the cow) fence. while wrestling one of lengths into proper corner hole position i noticed that i didn't cut every single thorn off the log. i knew this by the massive hole in my leather glove and hence the center of my hand. these thorns have some kind of poison that guarantees that infection is assured. another characteristic of the thorn is it has a break point kinda like a lizards tail. this little tip ALWAYS stays in any puncture wound. i have been soaking my hand regularly and getting loads of puss out of it. yesterday i tried to go to work but i had no strength in my hand and had to leave early due to severe pain. tabitha says it's no big deal and people get them all the time. now my hand is swollen and practically unusable. it's 3:30 am and i can't sleep so i decided to soak my hand again. i plan to lance it later today and dig in there for the little bastard. since my ambidextrous nature has long been driven out of me from years of right handed implements. i'll probably dig around and not actually get the bugger.

my current regimen
sleeping with castor oil poultice
soaking hand regularly
keeping triple antibiotic ointment on it between soaks
seven salve was my first line of defense
taking oral arnica & advil
any other recommendations?

Sunday, November 13, 2005

fell trees

mike came over this morning & offered to fell the larger trees that we need cut for our garden. i happily accepted since i don't care to cut down large trees for the sheer danger of it. also here is a picture of my grooovy new saw. i cut the rest of these trees up with the small exception of part one of the larger trees. mike only hung around for an hour or so i ended up cutting most of the day.

i also stretched the fence row along the road. it is really tight. mike loaned us a wire stretcher. it worked like a champ. now the rest of the fence will cost us some money. we'll probably get to that this next weekend.

tristan loves to help--he is so great. he mostly says out of the way when needed. as you can see we are going to have several brush fires soon.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

actually, i did kill the deer

mike's friend roger came over & heard the story of the deer's hind end coming over the front then running off. roger said "lets go get that deer" they came and interrupted my fencing and asked me to show them where that deer crossed the fence. i said "i looked and there was no blood and it ran off fine. roger wanted me to humor them.

i tentatively told my story thinking i was to soon be the butt of some cruel hunting joke. having to relive my MISSED SHOT one more time we set off. i showed them where i was and where the deer was it was actually about 65 yards a little further than i had thought earlier and was feeling kinda bad about taking a shot at a deer out of recommended range. we saw the scuffle of leaves and no blood. i showed them the path and where the deer crossed the fence. still no blood anywhere. we crossed the fence and followed the scuffle of leaves mike and i went off to the right. roger with his astute tracking skill. found a droplet of blood while mike and i were checking out the old car bodies in the woods. roger said he's right here from off in the distance. i thought RIGHT here begins the cruel hunting joke. mike and i walked over to where he was and sure enough there lay a dead deer. the bullet hole in his side was almost in the perfect spot. mike started to beam with pride and telling that if he'd of shot it it'd been an inch and a half further forward. roger & mike started into an obvious great history of hunting antic dotes.

mike is very funny saying "we don't want to wear the woods out by spending too much time there a huntin'" and "no sense in wasting more than one bullet for target practice"

seriously though, i borrowed the gun last night after dark and left for the woods before sunrise. i never even looked down the sights of the gun until i lined them on the deer this morning. that is why i wasn't surprised to have thought i missed. when i saw the deer adrenaline was coursing through my body and my hands were shaking. i remembered from target practice as a boy 'time the wavering pattern in my hands and squeeze the trigger very slowly'

i must admit that it was incredibly lucky and we are blessed to have the meat for this winter. our kids are incredible carnivores and are eating us out of house and home. animal protein is one of the only things that calms tristan and kassi's activity levels to manageable proportions.

so here are the facts:
we need the meat
i have never hunted deer with a rifle
i haven't shot a gun in over 20 years
i didn't even look down the sights before lining them on the deer
we are very thankful and blessed for the meat.
i was in the woods for less than an hour

here is the most recent corner post that we worked on. the posts are freshly cut black locust that is supposed to last for 15 years. notice the turn buckle to tighten the top brace to the other post and give diagonal support via tension.

check out the matching angle notch pretty sweet huh?

i saw, i shot and i missed

i went hunting with mike this morning. i saw, i shot and i missed. i haven't fired a gun since i was a kid. the buck, maybe three or four point, came along the hollow. my body was frozen still with my butt asleep. he paused and looked around. i raised my gun as he was looking the other way. my hands were shaking a little. i focused on the still deer. bringing my sites to his mid section. sloowly squeezing the trigger. bam, with a puff of grey smoke the deer did this crazy ass over head jump and skittered off. i went up to where the deer ran from to see if there was any blood. none i tracked the path it took looking for blood and nothing.... i missed it entirely.

yesterday, we worked on fencing corner posts. i got a locust thorn in my hand. it really hurts today. we are expecting rain this afternoon. i guess i'll get to work before i get rained out.

i'll post some photos this afternoon.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

woven wire

since cousin bruce threw away our promised woven wire we have been trying to figure out how we'll safely fence the cow and not expose the children directly to barbed wire at the edge of their play area. ben, my boss, has graciously offered his stash of old used woven wire. yeah.

now i have to figure how to get it home. our kia suv doesn't have a large storage capacity. i really need a truck. i'd like a used diesel truck that has two separate tanks. in one i'd put diesel fuel--for starting and stopping on. in the other i'd put used vegetable oil--strained filtered and collected locally. there are modifications i'd have to make on the fuel line, to heat the fuel on it's way to the engine. it would be the perfect alternative to attempting to burn bio-diesel. i know how to make it. i know how to build the bio-reactor--i've done it before. mostly, i know how much it sucks to mess around with methanol and lie. especially when precocious kids are liable to get into anything.

i could borrow mikes truck but he offered to sell it to us and we couldn't afford it. isn't there some social faux-pas that dis-allows the borrowing of a vehicle that you declined to purchase?

anyway, ben has offered to loan me his truck. i feel like i'm taking advantage of his generosity because i have accepted so many of his gracious offers. we are trying to be farmers without a truck. this is silly, we need a truck. i'd sell my car but i've taken excellent care of it planning to keep it until it is a pile of rust in the yard--then promptly dispose of it. this area has far too much "lawn furniture" as tabitha calls it.

i guess my stint as a manual laborer should end soon. i have yet to go on a timber frame job, i haven't mortared stone for anything structural yet. these are two large reasons that i keep working with ben. but we need the income that i can make in other fields. sorry to be boring about money but writing this down and reading it later makes me keep my priorities in check.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Shoes & Kilt

here is a picture of my new shoes & the kilt tabitha got me with her (several year ago)-(they just found her)-(tax return). i have had the kilt for a while but weather hasn't really permitted such breezy attire. besides it is now 2 or maybe 3 inches too big around the waist. tabitha thought it would look nice with my new boots. the boots are snug and rigid (very thick leather) i'll have to break them (or my feet) in very slowly. isn't tristan cute? he chops wood with his sword but mostly likes to ride back down the hill in the wheelbarrow. he'll pick up a piece of wood and put it on the stack and say "i'm a good helper".

farm livin' is the life for me.... da ta da ta

Sunday, November 06, 2005

I love you, dada

kassi has started saying i love you, dada. those are the most endearing words that a child can say to a father. her burn seems OK it still looks really bad but she is healing and it only seems to bother her when we change the bandages.

i got new boots at the redwing outlet. my feet were aching both thursday and friday. we can barely afford it but feet are not a place that i believe that you can cut corners. the old shoes were over two and a half years old. i had them re-soled once and bought new insoles for them last year. it was sad to see them finally completely give out. they were like old friends. the new ones that i got are the kind that have flat soles so i can climb on the timbers while i work for danny and his timber frame business.

yes, we worked on the fence this weekend. i built the first of three corner posts necessary to complete our first fenced cow area. it didn't suck as badly as i had anticipated. the next two will probably happen very quickly (next weekend). we have concluded that we'll water nimue (the cow) in a large hose filled galvanized steel tub. this will be a bit more work making sure the tub is filled but we'll be able to keep a closer eye on her too.

the fence has been a huge source of stress. bruce threw away our wove wire fencing that we were depending on. we have to reduce the size of our pasture by 1/3 because of family politics and it is ridiculous trying to figure out where the lot lines are. next thing after the fence will be a milking shed. i'm sure that that will also be a great source of stress.

walnut hulling

walnuts are messy business. we collected 10 or so feed bags worth of walnuts and they have been sitting around waiting for us to hull them. mike (tabitha's father) has an old hand crank corn husker that he claims works great to husk walnuts. yeah, maybe fresh green ones. cranking this thing seemed easy at first but as things got bunged up inside it ground to a halt. after a break and assessing if this was really a good idea we applied water to the hopper. this seemed to loosen things but the goo coming out of this thing looked suspiciously like shite. i cranked and cranked and cranked on this thing. scooping the sludge by hand with rubber gloves on wasn't pleasant. we (mike fed & i cranked & preformed proctological tasks on the unit) filled two large tubs a wheel barrow and a five gallon bucket. the black sludge somehow got inside my glove and my hand is permanently stained. this is like a henna tattoo.

what a fiasco. we still have to pour them out on the driveway and let them dry. next we'll pick out the surviving dried ran-over nuts. i'm sure that there is got to be a better way. whatever this better way is i think it probably won't involve me next time--making it the best way.

rotting, molding, maggot infested sludge. mikes chickens seemed to like the maggots and were hovering around waiting for their next opportunity to dig in.

never a dull moment here on the farm.

on a better note i cut and split some more wood yester morn. the tree that i'm working on is now larger than the length of my 18" chainsaw bar. i've been coming in from both sides to make the cuts. this is a hickory tree and splitting it is pretty easy when there isn't any branch intersections--sadly that hardly ever occurs. i like working up wood it reminds me of when i was young and cutting wood all the time. i've been getting about 20 pieces of wood from each of these large slices off the tree. admitedly i have been splitting then fairly small but this wood stove cooks out of the house if we put large logs in it and this will make it easier to adjust the temperature having a selection of large and small wood.

fencing has got to happen today. i don't relish the idea of digging out that old rotten corner post but that is next.....

it rained last night and the wood under the porch got a little wet it really isn't starting to burn that well.

i checked our propane tank yesterday it said 32% full. 500 gallons X .32 = 160. we only filled our tank with 200 gallons to start with so we have used 40 gallons since hooking up our drier & stove. that seems about right. the drier runs almost constantly some days and i make plenty of coffee. we filled it around august 20th. that is 20 gallons a month. yikes that does seem like alot.

kassi just woke up and we need some daddy & baby girl time. tristan & mama are still asleep. she claims that she needs to poo we tried to sit on the potty but that got boring. she just climbed the back of my chair and is now hanging on my neck demanding my attention.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

kassi burned herself on the wood stove

my precious angel has burned herself 20% of her arm. i get sick inside thinking about it. we went to the hospital and she is fine. they gave a lifetime supply of silver sullfadiazine--allegedly the most amazing burn treatment available.

so check this out--a hospital visit that was actually a pleasure to be part of. they were so cool, attentive, compassionate, responsive and everything you'd dream a hospital visit to be. i can't believe it. although we were prepared for the worst and our expectations were extremely low it was wonderful. well i'd just as soon have not had any reason to be there but still under the circumstances........

kassi got all hopped up on baby drugs that they gave and was being her most aggressive contrary self to the imaginary foe in the hallway. it was really funny. i hope she sleeps well tonight.

tabitha and i are emotionally spent from the ordeal. the easy-now tea seems to be helping though.

quixotic soul

my current boss is really a great guy. i walked in on him arguing with his mechanic whom he has had for many years. kenny, the mechanic, wanted to buy bens old truck & re-sell it at a profit. ben said that was an old truck and he wants to sell it to someone who needs a truck at a price that they can afford and be able to afford to fix the impending problems that come along with a truck of that high of mileage and age. kenny said it is worth $7000 and ben said he'd rather give it away to a working man that will keep it & then be able to afford fix it. this is really how this guy is in every interaction in business and his personal life.

he can be judgmental but not particularly overboard. he's also a bit racist. his daughter's son has a african american girlfriend and she won't tell ben because she knows he'll react poorly. i usually don't even associate with a person that is even slightly racist. alas, i'm here in missouri and ben is generally one of the most noble people i have met--and i don't think that racial climate change is far off.

we had a water-test/sales-pitch last night. we have really hard water and it is probably the reason why our soap performs poorly here and that tabitha has trouble with making bread. also it probably affects our dishwasher's performance. but we cannot afford the solution that they have presented. i need to research this water softener/filter solution and see if i can install something myself for much less money.

mostly i'd like to get the chlorine out of our drinking water. i guess the cistern/rainwater should come into play here instead of a pricey water filtration system. this kinda puts a different slant on the need for a better rain water collection mechanism. hummmmm........

the kids went to sleep early and tabitha and i got some excellent "alone time" sitting next to the fire and talking. it was really nice it is odd how kids can swindle every bit of "that time" away from a couple. i imagine if we were normal parents and left our kids with other people this wouldn't be as dramatic. but damn-it they are our kids and we are "the parents" and don't want them raised with someone else’s values or lack-there-of. both tabitha and i feel that childhood is such a special time and we want to nurture their every subtle potential. we want to know (really know) our kids and we covet every bit of time with them because they are our joy and some other temporary guardian would certainly not feel the same way about them.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

those crazy stove pipe people

well, the stove pipe fiasco saga continues. after tabitha ranted at the incompetent people of metal fab. they allegedly canceled our order and refunded our money. well guess what arrived on our door step yesterday. yep, the deluxe double wall chimney. bastards--does that mean they aren't going to credit our account? tabitha called again and they swear that the credit has already been sent. have they boldfaced lied to us in the past? YES. i all i know is that i spent the better part of a day making my own double wall pipe and insulated protection mechanism. and it performs wonderfully--it looks good to boot. plus it cost me $169 less than their expensive solution.

i don't want this crap and i want my account credited.

worse yet our cows intended pasture has just seemingly shrunk because of a glitch in the matrix. this one is still unfolding so i'll keep quite but there is never a dull moment here for the pile of o'melays.

anyway we need fence materials, fence posts and barbed wire. we have a bit of woven wire that should do for a while.

on a brighter note. when we moved here i weighed 205 lbs and i just got on the scale and weigh 180 lbs. better yet i'm really strong. no matt i haven't tested myself on any graduated machine. but i can easily curl 75 lbs all day long (because i do) and i don't have any chub anywhere.

Monday, October 31, 2005

"daddy, can we be best friends forever?"

tristan just came to me a little while ago and said "daddy, can we be best friends forever?"

I almost cried. he is such a great boy.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

chicken's new roost

the chickens have taken to the new wood pile for their roost. this little pile of wood besides the wood by the door is the only "dry/cured" wood that we have. this should last until the end of december. i hope to cut some more dry fell trees to last the winter.

kassi is so cute in her little wool diaper cover, pink converse shoes and tibetan dress.

coco, our rooster, has just started crowing. he is one happy bird he usually has half of his harem following him around at any given moment.

this is the area where our garden will be located. we are desperately looking at measures to keep the chickens out after we plant our precious years future next spring. those chickens ate all of our turnip sprouts this fall planting. we are looking at doing "wattle" style walls as in "wattle and daub". we can't really afford any other attractive solution. yes eventually we'll probably do earth-bag cob/lime plastered garden walls but we need an interum solution. i guess we could put in a normal chicken proof fence but they are ugly unless expensive.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

a social life?

a few weeks ago we went to a garage sale and met a home-schooling family. their kids are mostly grown but they are still active in the home-schooling community which i think might be synonymous with deeply religious community. anyway, they stopped by and invited us to a bonfire. it was nice. tristan went crazy finally being let loose with some kids. the little boy ignored tristan and wouldn't reply when tristan introduced himself. tristan didn't understand "daddy he won't hear me." i guess a six year old whom is approached by a younger kid is supposed to be aloof. anyway, after a while they were getting along famously. but as good things go, they all must end. while the other kids were topping out on energy level tristan was just getting warmed up. having months of still pent up energy to be released. then it happened....

stepping back a bit. i had to drive home, a short drive, to put up the chickens that were in mortal peril from the local fox family. i returned 5 to 7 minutes later and tristan had fallen into the fire and burned his hand. he was in the bathroom playing with ice in the sink. basically icing the burn area. then after a bit he wanted to go back out and play on the trampoline. he was acting very frantic and being quite rude. this went on for 20 minutes or so. we decided to leave. he started crying and wanted may-may (to nurse). tabitha refused not sure of the extended breast feeding climate. we got home and inspected his hand. maybe 15% of his hands total surface area was blistered or broken blisters. he was obviously in extreme pain and we were out of "blue vitamins" children’s ibuprofen. tabitha got out her fancy pill splitter and fabricated him a 55 milligram pill. he gobbled it up without hesitation (never happened before). he was shaking his hand and shivering and screaming. i put his hand in a dish of cold water and he kinda relaxed. he would fall into sleep and promptly wake when his hand would move out of the water. this went on for a while. finally, he fell into a deep enough sleep that when his hand came out of the water he didn't wake.

whew, he hasn't woken up yet so we'll see how things go this morning.

on a brighter note they also had a child kassi's age. he wasn't walking yet though. that seems weird to me since kassi has been walking longer than half her life already.

but the brightest note is that we have found a bulk food drop-point-group. they all are part of this illusive group that tabitha has been trying to contact since our arrival. sneaking in through the back door.

but the biggest question is: will they continue to be our friends if we don't attend their religious organization?
wasn't it Groucho Marx who said something like "I don't want to be part of any group that would have me as a member?"

Thursday, October 27, 2005

the first warm morning

last night we brought in 5 or 6 pieces of wood and stoked the fire. that lasted all night and the house was pretty cozy this morning. needless to say it is cold outside. but notice that yellow window on the right of the wood. i can reach out there from inside the house and get a few pieces of wood without exposing my entire body to the frigid temperatures. i don’t know if my lack of coffee contributed to my lack of courage but it was a nice little bonus to be able to just grab more wood from the warmth of our living room.

tristan wants to call the living room "the great room" because that is where his trains will soon get set up. great rooms, i think, need to meet some proportional minimums and ours definitely doesn't have high ceilings or any sort of vast expanse. i guess it is the largest room in the house and it will soon have tristan's great thomas the tank engine collection strewn about it.

the carpet goes down this weekend. we put the nailer strip and padding down yester eve. it changed the whole feel of that room. it will soon be a much more densely populated room having the only real heat source and a cozy carpet. finally, the whole house will be moved into. i'll start doing finishing touches very soon. there are still winterization tasks to be preformed. we need a some rigid insulation to close up the crawl space. the pipes could freeze if i don't get to that soon.

to all friends whom read and don't comment often. this is tabitha's blog too--for that matter it is also tristan's and kassi's blog. don't be shy. i'm not trying to solicit comments but we welcome you and we don't feel intruded upon.

my baby girl just woke and she says "bound bound bound weherup...." there is a cute little animation at the beginning of the incredibles movie. it is the best cartoon i have ever seen and kassi just loves it. she is staring to say sentances like "uh oh, book fell" does that qualify? anyway she is really making herself understood these days. although, tristan still seems to understand her the best.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

fire fire fire

guess why tristan is crying?
does that cat look a little smug

we got the woodstove working but not until after the biggest fiasco from the online stove pipe seller. we learned a lesson in there somewhere. i just need to figure out what it is.

this is the little pile of wood queued for our heating pleasure

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

tristan went to work with me today

tabitha got sick and i took tristan to work with me. what a great, wonderfully behaved boy! he listened (mostly the first time) all day the only exception was when it was time to leave his new friends. there was great gnashing of teeth and capitulating but that is to be expected under the circumstances. my boss was great he even watched tristan for a little while (less than 10 min). there is a huge pile of leca (a mountain) that he climbed and climbed and climbed. then he climbed pallets stacked 6 high and jumped into the edge of the pile. he got so worn out that he slept the sleep of the just in the car ride to the next job.

we went to work on a chimney where there are kids of all ages and sizes. he really liked them they paraded him around their humble farm. he saw and chased baby cows, cats and the BIG dog chased him. he didn't like the dog very much especially since it was bigger than him and would keep him from going anywhere. it would make a U shape out of its body and herd him all the while tristan would be hitting the dog and the dog thought he was petting him.

he really had a great time.

but man was it stressful for me--keeping my eye on him and out of trouble. and worrying that my boss didn't appreciate the imposition. i'll call in (tabitha sick) tomorrow and stay home to watch the kids.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

heat, we need heat

here is a picture of our wood burning stove. notice there is no pipe coming from it for the smoke? the stove pipe hasn't come yet. stove pipe is the pipe between the wood burning stove and the chimney that i re-lined. given the tight confines of our house & placement of the chimney port we are forced to use double wall chimney pipe. it reduces the clearance to combustibles greatly but it isn't available at our local hardware store.

we ordered it online the day we got our stove. i needed everything in place in order to measure out the lengths we'll need. you can't cut this stuff and the adjustable pieces are ridiculously expensive. tabitha called friday and they still haven't sent it yet. i guess it is queued to be sent tuesday from kansas. that should be just a day or so to here. hopefully we'll have it by next weekend. in the mean time we are dressing very warm and trying to keep the kids clothed. both kids would sooner be naked and freezing than keep any kind of clothing on. it is a constant battle.

we bought one of those drier vent adapters that allow drier heat into the house as a interim solution. boy-oh-boy that heat is moist. i changed the laundry and started the drier a while ago and now all the windows are steamed up.

yesterday i cut and split a few loads of wood. ben (my boss) gave me a couple of missouri-mauls (splitting wedge with a handle) to try and choose one from. i didn't really like either of them. the handle while very light and made of fiberglass is perfectly round and doesn't feel right. a normal maul has an oval shaped handle which is surprisingly useful since it by nature of the "feel" informs you if the wedge is aligned perfectly to split the log. mike coined the term "the maul of the glancing blow" and is a perfect description of the design. i might try to get some friction tape and ovalize the handle to see if that solves the problem. modifying either maul would mean that i'd have to choose between the three-inch or the inch-and-a-half model. i might just give both of them back and choose the little kindling splitter instead. although i must admit that on those occasions that i hit the log squarely they usually fell apart like butter.

mike has a hydraulic splitter that we'll use when we go cut wood together but splitting my own wood has such an attractive tactile sense of satisfaction that i plan to split most of the wood around here myself. plus that kind of work is good for the physique.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Farmer Karl

Yesterday I helped mike load bales of hay onto his trailer. mike loaded a bunch the day before & had a sore back. in the morning he drove & I threw 65+ bales up & stacked them. then later that evening mike, nancy (his wife) & I went to the field. mike still had a bit of hay to bale on the other field so nancy drove & I bucked (loaded) 6 layers high 120 bales onto another trailer. mike came just in time to help haul it to the barn. we unloaded (stacked in the barn on edge) the trailer. then we went back to the field this time nancy drove & mike & I bucked the bales. 127 bales 7 layers high. the top layer mike threw the bales up & I climbed on top & stacked them.

needless to say today I am sore and stayed home from work I’ll shift my work week the tues, weds, thurs, & fri instead of having friday off.

today I cut down another fallen tree in our back yard. this one has been there for a while and was an eyesore. the to-be-burned brush pile has grown again to bonfire proportions.

I’ll finish cutting the logs & stacking the brush this weekend.

Sunday, October 16, 2005


my baby girl started going potty on the big girl potty! she is so magical--but rough and tumble. you'd think we beat her by the looks of her. she is just a girl with a big brother that she adores and must keep up with. she is constantly falling but seems to recover quickly--except the remaining scratches, bruises and general scrapes.

she has some strange affinity with animals they seem to love her and she them. the cat although she carries it in the most uncomfortable (sometimes abviously painful) positions the cat is almost always seeking more attention from her. the cows are strangely attracted to her and when ever we come across a dog they both usually fall completely in love.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

on the cover of the rolling stone

well, it's only the journal of light construction. but i did get the cover shot soldering some pipe to a solar collector on the roof of an old army base building in alameda. the funny thing is that it is just a snapshot i just ignored that guy and continued to work.

better yet, my test of the scanner worked perfectly. tabitha hooked it up perfectly.

today is my Friday! i have been working so hard this week that i have been sore every night and morning. tuesday night i had thigh leg cramps that wouldn't quit. i can use the rest. oh wait, i have to work really hard around here too. ;0

my job is kinda like going to the gym for 10 hours except i get paid to do it instead of the other way around. i am getting in really great shape though. i am probably stronger than i have ever been. when i come home more sore than i can remember all i need to do is look into my kids eyes and i can hardly remember the soreness or how i got it.

i like working outside. johnny cash said it best. "give me work that is open to the sky, make me a partner of the wind and sun & i won't ask a life that is soft or high"

this weekend=
fence, fence and general fencing work. oops, the woodstove is coming on saturday. that'll probably take up most of the day.

i need a gas can for my chainsaw to clear the fence rows and garden areas.

Monday, October 10, 2005

i finally finished that chimney liner

the chimney went along without a hitch. luckily i talked to wade about it on friday, he has installed several of these & offered me sage advice. his suggestions helped me side step several potential catastrophic errors. i trimmed the stainless liner "T" to the shortest possible size while still being safe and everything barely fit. in fact when tabitha was at the bottom (helping line things up) she said "it won't work, you'll have to come down and look at it." after some gentle persuading (no matt i didn't use the hammer) everything barely fit.

tabitha moved the fax/printer into it's new home & plugged it in. i'll install a new phone/dsl combo jack at that location later. i'll need to dig through my stuff to find one.

mike & i worked on the heat shield (almost to completion) i need to swing by & get the bricks and bring them here and put them in place. (at the last moment before installation else the kids will likely hurt themselves.

no, the wood stove didn't come this weekend (i was misinformed) i guess it'll arrive this coming saturday. if my source can be counted on this time.

matt, i answered your question in the previous post comments. thank you

Sunday, October 09, 2005

my girl is sick

5:15 am

She has explosive poo. I cleaned her up & gave her a bath which she didn’t want to get out of. She obviously is very sick she even pooed a bit more in the tub. she still wanted to soak after the mini shower and water change. Finally, she slowly got up and I dried her off, diapered her & put her back to bed with her sleeping mama.

She is so sweet even when she is sick. She hugged me really tight once I got her diapered. What is the deal between fathers and daughters? I find that I don’t want to say NO to her as often as Tristan over the exact same stuff. I don’t want to be partial but she is my little girl. She has her own little special heart strings that she knows just how to tug on. Maybe once she can fend for herself a bit more the situation won’t seem as disproportionate.

I love having kids. Tabitha wants another one. She is taking steps to get her cycles back day-weaning Tristan. He seems OK with it. I thought he’d throw a bigger fit. But he is three years old and probably the only people he’ll ever meet that remember nursing are his siblings, sad uh?

Today is chimney day I rue the idea of digging into that cement pipe snout. The liner that I bought is 8” and I have to enlarge the hole from the current 6” opening. This chimney fix should only be for this winter. Next summer I plan to tear down the existing chimney and make a new one with exposed rock in the bath room and living room. This should heat both rooms nicely after the rock warms. I am toying with the idea of incorporating a masonry heat chamber between the wood stove & chimney. This should not affect the draft of the stove but should add to the efficiency of our heating system. If I do this properly the thermal center of the entire system should migrate toward the back of the house. This will be especially important when we add a room (straw bale of course) to the back of the house.

The solar collectors are begging to be hooked up. But the new master bedroom (still dreaming here) will have the perfect roof to mount them on. I guess they will need to be mounted on a rack over the cistern until the addition becomes a reality.

Uncle Matt – here is the Trader Joes list
Lavender dish soap
Natural automatic dishwasher detergent/soap
1 or maybe 2 cases of “two-buck-chuck” he he…
Tabitha will append this list

Setting up the fax/printer should happen today also but it all depends on how the chimney goes.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

the new chainsaw

i purchased a homelite (used but in perfect condition) 240. we need to cut the wood from our fence rows before we re-strech the old wire & patch in new. i am excited about the saw it runs perfectly and will supply us with winter heating supply. it cost $60 kinda high but it came with a guarantee from the local small engine fix-it guy. he seems like a stand-up guy, so i think it'll be a great deal.

we now have dsl (a new development in this area) and i've been researching all the stuff that has been in my queue since arriving here in missouri. i'll get into a better routine of posting once i get caught up. (uncle matt)

we are looking for fencing material "cheap". iron fence posts are about $4 each retail and we need 200-250 of them to get containment we have the woven wire but still need a bit of barbed wire, two rolls should do.

i'm working on the chimney tomorrow HOHW (hell or high water)i have gotten some very useful info on the subtle tricks on how to install the stainless liner. i hope to pull it off without a hitch.

gutters and rainwater collection are next on my priority list. we have 10,000 gallons of storage and i'd like to make sure it is full of excellent quality water by spring.

bath time for the kids & me. gotta love bathing in peeeed water..........

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Tristan & Kassi got their shots

tristan & kassi both had Tetanus shots yesterday. tristan was first , i explained what was about to occur, he sat there and watched her put the needle in his leg, not a sound not even a flinch. then it was kassi's turn. tristan yelled "i told you not to hurt my girl" as the doctor cleaned her leg, he got really mad "don't hurt my girl". kassi cried from the poke and gave ME the look of betrayal. she quickly stopped crying but tristan stayed mad at the doctor and kept giving her dirty looks and saying i'll poke you if you hurt my girl. we nurture his protective behavior. tristan was measured and weighed the results were off the charts for height and weight. his weight is all muscle. his iron count was also off the charts--he is a carnivore. kassi was tall for her age and average for weight. tall and skinny there could be worse afflictions. iron count above average--omnivore, her favorite thing is cheese.

Friday, September 30, 2005

if i had a hammer

and chisel and trowel and a bunch of rock

ben, who is an excellent teacher btw, has been teaching me the masonry chisels, hammers and trowels also loads of rules and how & when to break them. he is such a nice guy i feel lucky to have met him. an example of his generosity is: he owns a tiny lot with a phone and fax machine in the middle of a local amish community just so they can borrow it without hassles.

i rode one of his mules today. it was pretty fun it has been a very long time since i've been in a saddle. it's just like riding a bike (or a horse) no problem.

DSL is coming very soon. i'll be able to get work from outta state.

better yet i'll be able to up-load more photos to my blog

Thursday, September 29, 2005

adventurous day

yesterday ben took me to help detail out a masonry job that they mostly completed. it was beautiful. wendy (walmart) walden had it built. timber frame wonderful stone masonry, three fireplaces, stone foundation, a dry stack ford, a huge retaining wall and wrap around porch with stone piers. i met bens business partners (the amish timber framers). they were very cool and did excellent work. i plant to go on the next raizing (if they want me). it'd be cool to learn.

we also drove through seymore and saw the amish community where most of the workers on the timber job live.

score--i found a raw milk source we'll see how things work out there today when i try to bring the booty home.

i'm off to work....

Monday, September 26, 2005

not much happening

the wood stove has not been delivered yet. i had planned install the chimney liner this weekend but decided that it would be prudent to have the wood stove and all corresponding instructions before i installed the chimeny liner. the yard got mowed thanks to mike. it looks really great real grass and just a nice place to be. the chickens loved the freshly sturred up yard. they were so excited that they flapped around the entire yard for hours.
we got some more rain the pond only went up 5 or 6 inches. i have poison ivy all over my arm and don't feel much like sweating since it seems to irritate it.
the drive to work is too long and i think that i need to find something local even if it is less than ideal. i worked on my resume (for the first time in many years)

here is what my first draft has produced sans formatting:

Karl B O’Melay
223 State Hwy O
Kissee Mills, MO 65680
Sun Light and Power From April 2001
Alternative Energy Company To July 2005
1045 Folger Ave. Immediate supervisor Justin Weil
Berkeley, CA 94710 (510) 845-2997

Electrician – I have experience in photovoltaic D.C. Solar Collector wiring 12 to 600 volt strings, D.C. disconnects, Grid interconnected and stand alone inverters (120 & 240 volt), A.C. disconnects. A.C. – inverter bypass. I also have an understanding of wind and hydro electric systems, including necessary safeguards and application specific components. Installation of critical load-sub panels by either re-pulling existing or running new household circuits to run from a battery back-up. Running heavy gauge D.C. high amperage wire of batteries. Wiring and programming of D.C. charge controller and slave mercury vapor switches for battery charging. Wiring and programming of low voltage disconnects. Calculating voltage drop for distance and wire gauge for A.C. and D.C. lines. Bending and running conduit while pulling multiple wires through it. Wiring 120 and 240 volt pumps and appropriate fuse and switch protection. Wiring low and high voltage relays, zone controls, transformers and boiler controls. Installing and programming thermostats for boilers, heat-pumps, A.C. units and whole house fans. Generally running power to boilers, heat-pumps, tank and instant water heaters, solar thermal differential controls, zone control systems, timed switches, set-point controls and fused outlets. Designing and installing complex relay systems using latching relays, timed relays and interdependent, cascading and simple Boolean logic using standard relays. I’ve installed milivolt controlled auto-vent fans for multiple gas heat devices. I can install any standard service panel, household switch or outlet. I have an excellent understanding of electricity and how to safely harness it.

Plumber – I have experience plumbing using sweat copper, copper/brass compression fittings, black pipe, galvanized pipe, ABS, PVC, PEX (compression and crimp connections) and I am certified to install stainless steel flexible gas line (ward-flex). Pluming of tank, instant water heaters (Rinnai certified), boilers (Monitor, RBI, Munchkin, Baxi), heat exchangers, backflow-preventers, auto-fill and pressure reducers, separate drain back and glycol loops. I regularly plumbed circulators (pumps) and their respective loops through existing houses and new construction while avoiding potential airlocks. Installing temperature mixing valves (mechanical and electronic ‘with outdoor reset’) over-pressure bypasses, check valves, bypass valves and pressure regulators. I can calculate head based on pipe size, fittings and vertical lift. I have plumbed to geothermal wells from heat-pumps, laid many miles of PEX tubing in concrete, gybcrete, staple-up, aluminum transfer plates, warm board and thermal board. Charged systems with glycol and methanol/water mixtures. I have brazed, insulated and installed Freon lines between condensers and compressors but never charged any Freon lines. I have installed examples of almost every household fixture and appliance. I have an outstanding understanding of plumbing, fluid and thermal dynamics.

Carpenter – I have general carpentry skills and regularly use them. I am also able to read blueprints and most schematics.
At Sun Light and Power I installed complete systems start to finish while managing and training my crew. I also oversaw additional crews as necessary. I was the employee that they sent out on service calls for difficult clients and complex problems. I take responsibility for jobs and can be counted on as a “worry free” employee to overcome obstacles and finish the job. I own most of my own tools to accomplish all the above described skills.

Prior to April of 2001 I had a different career. My resume as a designer, programmer, publisher and engineer is available online at

i guess a cookie cutter coverletter is next then back to revisions on this.

Monday, September 19, 2005

the new job

well, what can i say stone masonry is hard hard work. i knew it would be but i didn't think it'd have such a steep learning curve. don't get me wrong it's not like learning radiant heating principles, but ive been at it for 2 days & still am kinda lost. ben is great to work for. he has a gentle peacefulness that is calming yet a distance like he has a shell around him. i'm learning old-school stone masonry at the moment then hope to eventually move to masonry heaters. i feel that there is a place in this adventure where ancient techniques and current technology can be integrated.
the problem with masonry heaters is that the people who can afford to have someone build them one don't like them since their functionality isn't instantaneous. they are super efficient but require baby sitting. my idea is to hopefully integrate some of the thermal dynamic principals that i have learned with this new endeavor. the integration of the two should hopefully find a new market for masonry heaters, that have efficiencies in the 90 percentile range.
the place where ben lives is the most beautiful place i've seen in the ozarks. that is saying something. the drive there is long but meditative and gorgeous. i'll try & take pictures today and post them here.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

get them up before i loose connection again

The fence with new top soil

the pond is really full now. i figure at 17 feet across (at the top) and 6 feet deep (like a bowl-bottom of a sphere) so i'm guessing (after dragging up some long forgotten math skills) that there is 2,500 gallons in ther right now. notice the GUESSING being the most important part of that statement.

this is a great example of the beautiful red clay here. i see some earthen plaster in my near future (cow milking shed)
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