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.
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