Wednesday, June 28, 2006


we are so blessed. this sunflower is in our little flowerbed just in the front yard. we didn't plant too many things that weren't staple food items. it is nice to sit on the front porch and enjoy--heaven on earth right here on our little farmstead. as we get a handle on our survival tasks we will incorporate more beauty and aesthetic agenda items. our house is still not painted. we started to prime the south wall but new fires usually overturn our plans. the beginning of each weekend is a triage assessment. after we are sure the garden, livestock and ourselves will survive for one more week we look at our long list of things to do. the root cellar, the milking shed and paint the house are weighing heavily on me.

we harvested our first batch of edamame. kassi loves it she couldn't wait until dinner. we have been buying them in organic frozen packages. the kids have always liked them but kassi simply wouldn't stop once she tasted them. she ate most of our first little harvest all by herself. she was making little yum yum um yum sounds the whole time she ate them. tristan ate half of a cucumber straight from the harvest basket. it is a constant struggle to keep the kids from repeatedly eating cherrios for every meal. having fresh fresh food really helps to win the battle. also having a surplus garden harvest means that the kids aren't psychologically hindered by portion sizes or having to finish their plate because of the normal cost of organic vegetables and general waste concerns. besides, the chickens really appreciate the table scraps.

now this is fresh

a little evening harvest for dinner

from the garden to the dinner table within an hour.

farmstead photos

these are the girls

this is romeo and enrique they are hiding from the girls. all those hens gang up on them and they are constantly in hiding.

tasty tasty yellow squash.

yum, tomatoes are forming.

these are from the bean arch. rattlesnake polebeans. they are sweet and tender with little purple streaks.

this is our mole retardant castor bean plant. the leaves are huge.

this just before we picked a mess for dinner.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

yellow squash, and goodbye mayday

our garden is coming on. we have been eating from it for quite some time. john always appreciates my left-overs that i eat for lunch. yesterdays statement was "you really know how to eat." we feel very blessed and wealthy. most people don't eat like this.

on a sad note, goodbye to mayday. uncle matts dog mayday has been very ill and will be put down soon. she has been his companion for many years and it is a sad day to say goodbye to such a good friend.

goodbye mayday...

Sunday, June 25, 2006

weekend garden photo update

this is my compost system. i'd like these to be a bit taller but they seem to work well. they have been keeping up with our needs. the closest bin was full to the brim with partially composted material a few weeks ago. this is how much it settles, rather consumes its self

these are our edamame just to the right of the mulched walkway. then corn then the bean arch. on the left is our squash trellis system. we were just out injecting our squash with BT (an organic bacteria "the worm killer") i hope it kills the squash vine bores otherwise we're ruined.

these are our tomatoes on the right side of the bean arch. this is also recently mulched with wheat straw. tabitha says it releases potash into the soil as it rains. we have four rows of tomatoes in this photo. we have experimented with different trellising methods. from staking each one to letting nature do her thing. we'll see what is the best method for this little farmstead.

these are my wonderful children reading their books instead of watching TV. it is a constant battle to keep the television from them. notice in this photo that the floor isn't strewn with toys and general kids stuff. yeah, it surprised me too.

our weekly panorama of the garden

mulch, meager harvest, broken washer and pig roast

we have harvested our meager tongue of fire beans, onions and red potatoes. none of these groups had a soaker hose. amendments to these areas were also lacking. i tilled in the compost that i strewed across those areas a week or so ago along with the dead plants. we plan to plant some bush beans (our bean arch is not really producing many beans), some more beets, some pumpkins and possibly a different variety of cucumber.
i loaded several heaping wheel barrow loads of wheat straw and mulched the garden rows. the garden looks much better. the weekly panorama will show the improvements. i'll take a the series of shots and paste them together for an update this afternoon.
we went to a little neighborhood party at mikes last night. the kids had a great time. kassi has really warmed up to john and pam, our neighbors. they treat kids like big people. kassi and tristan really like to be treated as equals. kassi is hardly shy anymore. she had some revelation at her birthday party and ever since she has been much more out-going. john and pam both noticed it. john said that it validates the ritual of birthday parties. kassi also got a belated birthday present--a big pink ball. it was a huge hit.
i played an eighth of a game of horseshoes. i stink at horseshoes and didn't get any better last night. we had pig roasts on the barbecue--very delicious. mike uses the webber grill indirect method which takes a while but produces a superior entree.
our washing machine took a dump friday. i disassembled it and discovered that the belt from the motor around the drum pulley had managed to come off. i put it back on and realized that it is no longer aligned properly. the entire inner workings are molded plastic and afford no tracking adjustment. there is no obvious wear or reason for the misalignment. i spent the better part of friday trying to fix it. i am sure that planned obsolescence is the major factor in this break down. we bought the washer at sears and here in the ozarks no one will work on them (kenmore). springfield is the closest repair center and it would cost us a fortune (the better part of a new washer) to get it repaired. tom loaned us a washing machine for the interim--having kids doesn't allow for any down-time on washing clothes. the washer is an old style top loader and uses tons more water. on the bright side our old washer has been doing barely an adequate job for the past few months and is really noticeable having a perfectly working washer--our clothes smell better. the decision to get a new washer is made. i demand something that i can repair myself and cookie cutter plastic crap won't make the grade. we spent a bit of time researching washers and visited the local appliance store. they made a recommendation that we didn't expect and the unit seems to meet all our requirements--water and energy saving are some of our biggest additional concerns. now we just have to compile the necessary funds.

Friday, June 23, 2006


tabitha in our bean tunnel. it is a very nice place to be.

poison ivy

what an evil plant. i have been awake since 3am itchy and miserable. i have taken a few homeopathic remedies but the effects have seemed to have worn off during my brief sleep. i have re-dosed myself and am waiting for my oatmeal/baking soda bath to fill. yesterday i researched poison ivy and remedies. i guess jewelweed (crushed leaves and rubbed on the affected area) is the best known remedy. cortisone isn't an option for me since i have a reaction to that also. jewelweed doesn't grow here (it will soon). i guess it likes better soil than the ozarks normally afford.
general misery has consumed me lately and i haven't felt like blogging about it. i hate poison ivy. it has been too hot to tolerate being in an itchy covering.
we have had a dog stalking our chickens for the past few days. my first inclination is to kill it but i opted for the slingshot method. i had one of these high powered slingshots as a kid. it used surgical grade tubing for the rubber bands and was far to powerful for a teenager. i practiced with that thing almost daily. it was the closest thing to a real weapon that i was allowed.
i bought one while we were out yesterday. it was inexpensive and seemed like the most humane first step. sure enough when we got home that dog was there trying to get into our broiler chicken cage. the stupid slingshot was still in the packaging and the dog ran off during my frantic preparations. after checking the perimeter of the coop i decided to see if i could hit the broadside of a barn with this thing. sure enough ffwhap--the barn didn't have a chance. on to more difficult prey, i set up a piece of roofing tin roughly dog sized(a little bigger). two or three random shaped stones later i realized that there was obviously some muscle memory coming into play--i couldn't miss the thing. i decided to move a little further away--say 12 feet.
just kidding... i got about 70 feet away and was planning on trying again when tabitha came around the corner and asked "what ya doin'?" "nothing" like i was fourteen again and just killed some desireable michigan foul. anyway i picked up another rock and fired it at the offending dog, i mean, tin target. CLACK i got him. i mean i hit the target. she called me out, mentioning something about reliving a childhood machismo fantasy. a few shots later and more than hundred yards between myself and the dog-target i was confident i could reliably hit the dog during our next encounter. alright cujo, you're next.

Saturday, June 17, 2006


kassi waiting for her birthday party. tristan could be a clone of me in this photo. i have a picture of myself that a person couldn't tell which is which.

weekend panorama

click me i get bigger
weekend panorama 6/17/6

kassi's birthday celebration

we expect anna, chuck, peyton, drew and brett from springfield. john and pam will stop by too. we'll have homemade icecream fresh blueberries and a big time. we also expect a storm this morning. our garden would like that. i cleaned the tub, toilet and sink yesterday. i took the drain, toilet seat and faucet escutcheon apart for a deep cleaning. the toilet seat was the worst for obvious reasons. having two small kids with questionable aim means that crud forms where it normally wouldn't. hospitals aspire to the depth of my cleaning.
we have to tie up plants before the high winds of the storm. i'm off... pictures to come, also look for the weekly panorama very soon.

Friday, June 16, 2006

blueberry picking

we took the kids berry picking. they had a blast. it was a huge treat for them. tristan dressed all in blue for the occasion. kassi won't be seen in anything except pink. i swear to God that we have made every attempt to not socialize her to like girly things and she still does. at this point we just go with it.

kassi is offering you a berry, just take it.

this is where all the good ones come from.

see how many i stole from daddys bucket?

geez those blueberry muffins were good. lets go look at our booty.

whew that was a big time.

me too

Thursday, June 15, 2006


this is the chicken tractor. it is made out of electroplate metal tubing (cheap stuff), chicken wire and corrigated steel. it is strong and light, so light that we weigh it down at night with rocks on all the corners.

we have a troublesome automatic waterer that clogs with algae every few days and three wall mounted bin feeders. here is the original description and when it was still clean and chickenless

our bean arch is filling in.

the arch is a nice shady spot in the garden

pig loading fiasco

tabitha's father, mike has been raising us a pig along with three others. they are down at his pond. when he put the hog panels up around the pond there was plenty of room to walk around and manage the pigs a bit. months later the pond has been sealed to the upper brim and most of the enclosure is pond. we tried to get the pigs into the trailer to take to slaughter. no chance, they immediately retreat to the water. mike now has them without food and the feeder in the furthest section of the trailer. they cannot get to the feeder and are hopefully very hungry. hopefully, this morning he'll be able to load them with cat-chow-bribery and hopes of access to their feeder.
we yanked a tomato plant from our garden to perform an autopsy on it. it has strange black veins in the upper stem immediately before dying leaves. we feared we had the great potato famine virus that also affects tomatoes. the only thing that can be done if we had it is, scorched earth and plant somewhere else for the next five years. as far as i can tell we don't have it. the aphids are still rampant and consume tabitha's already too busy schedule. the garden is such a roller coaster for her. each success and defeat is absolute and usually opposite from the last. at any given moment she could be in complete elation or the depths of sorrow over it. this coupled with pregnancy hormones means that the extremes are far greater than usually possible.
the broiler chickens are huge, slow and tasty-looking. we have been moving them daily around our northen adjoining lot. they leave a path of devastation and fertilizer. we hope to clear that lot more thoroughly very soon. mike has offered to brush-hog it as soon as hay season settles down. it is a perfect place to move the chicken tractor around. i'll try and get photos up this evening of the tractor, the huge birds and the aftermath.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

hot weather

i has been very hot and humid the past few days. the garden loves it. the kids are getting used to the heat. i opened that new tarp up further, supported it around the edges and filled it with water. the kids played in "the pool" and had a great time. tristan could tell that it was temporary but still asked "can we keep that pool?" i have already emptied it since it is too white trash. i'll figure something else out for the kids to enjoy that cools them down.
it will soon be time to butcher chickens. as we moved our chicken-tractor yester-eve a few got out. they are easily caught and very heavy. i don't relish the idea of killing, eviscerating and plucking so many chickens. next week we'll go and help a friend butcher some of his. we hope to get ideas to help streamline and ease the task.
tristan has been sick, fever and general suffering. kassi now appears to have the same thing. i hope it is easier on her she cannot simply lay around like tristan can. she needs to be held much more when she doesn't feel well.
i mowed the lawn this past weekend--what a task. i already had to sharpen the blade--did i mention that it is extremely rocky here? i also used it to mulch some of nimue's old hay for the garden. we have some tomatoes with cedar shavings, grass clippings and some with wheat hay mulch. it will be interesting to compare them and see if any one is better than the next. the garden is full right now "baby seeds" give way to huge plants that consume the garden space around them.
we got about fifty mason jars from cousin-bruce. i emptied the contents of roughly half of them into our compost bins. the pickles (from 82) actually smelled really tasty. there was a salsa that also smelled good and it had ocra in it. that recipe is lost to the annals of time.
i am compelled to get the root cellar going. when we can our garden bounty it should go into cool storage immediately. there is no place like that in our farmstead at this point. the door is still my main obstacle. i need to visit springfield and see what options the re-store has.
we put the little roosters in with the big laying chickens. they get picked on and chased around. i hope they survive. they made their way back to the roost with the other hens last night so that was a huge step. their names are enrique and romeo. enrique is the male silver laced wyandotte. he'll hopefully parent a new generation of wyandottes. romeo was our free chicken that came with our order. he is a blue andalusian and very cool but definitely the outsider. he was chased into the garden and stayed there all day. enrique tolerated the dominant hens a little better. we will see what today brings.

Sunday, June 11, 2006


i plan a weekly panorama of the garden while in season. it will show up very skinny and is a link. if you click on the panorama image another larger image will appear. on most windows machines it will automatically size it to fit your open window. click on it again and it will zoom to intended size. if you then use the slider across the bottom you can move back and forth. that will give you the illusion of standing in the center of the panorama and turning left and right as you slide respectively. try it on the last image of my last post.

garden update

tabitha in our bean arch. the beans have mostly reached the top. they just need to fill in and make lots of beans.

my lovely daughter and her true-love, the swing. she likes to have me do an under-dog. i run under her while pushing her really high 9 or 10 feet into the air. after a little while she'll stand up on the swing while still swinging higher than most kids, her age, like to go and say "i not danger." feisty feisty child.

with any luck this will be a tasty pumpkin in a matter of weeks.

weekly garden panorama

Saturday, June 10, 2006


yesterday afternoon i partially unfurled the big tarp i got for the root cellar moisture barrier. it is huge 48' by 20'. the kids were outside playing in the sprinkler and decided that we needed an ozark slip-n-slide. the kids were naked, sorry no pictures. they had a blast kassi was scared at first but i eventually grabbed a piece of soft rope and slowly pulled her down hill at a slow speed. she warmed up to the idea very quickly and soon both kids were careening at break-neck-speed down our sloping back yard. i'll use remaining HUGE piece of the tarp as a temporary roof for the milking barn, fountain pond liner, hay-bale tarp and possibly a liner for a homemade solar storage tank.
tristan came down with some flue last night, fever, aches and pains, and headache. the poor boy. it has been so hot here that the afternoons are better left to sitting in the shade with a huge iced tea and sweating--or careening down a slip-n-slide.
the battle of the organic garden continues. we have had several visitors--you can see our garden from the road. everyone had said "you can't grow tomatoes without seven dust" and "how much top soil did you get hauled in?" our response has been "NONE and we are gonna give organic gardening a try."
we have spent a fortune on soaker hoses. they are so great. i can't imagine watering without them. we have a huge surplus of tomato plants in case organic yields are low. if they are not low we'll be canning like crazy. salsa, tomato sauce, whole tomatoes and tomato paste. we are also going to attempt ketchup and maybe sell some of them at a little stand. our road has plenty of traffic to support a little stand but we have had a few creepy visitors so we might take them to the weekly farmers market the next town over.
cousin bruce has offered us some canning jars but we have to empty them of their ancient contents first. our compost bin will love having the nutrients. i'll have to add extra hay to the process to balance the new influx of green matter. my second batch of compost is almost ready and my bin system is already over loaded. maybe i'll start another pile just for the new addition. this will keep my compost system from bursting at the seams.
the bean arch is coming on--there are several runners that have reached the top (8 feet high). the squash and pumpkins are huge. we have been eating new potatoes. i'll take photos of the garden this afternoon.
tabitha has several friends that i read their blogs. i feel self conscious about posting--so i hardly ever do. and yesterday was a prime example but i would like to make one statement and put it out there. children are a combination of the two parents not only genetically but socially--especially strong character traits. if something about your spouse troubles you to the core you should be able to discuss it and address it, otherwise your children will adopt compensating roles or similar traits. i relish the idea that my kids turn out like tabitha and i--or not. kids are their own person and can rise above adversity but should they needlessly have too?

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

progress on the root cellar

i rented a pipe threading die yesterday. the pipe that ran through the root cellar has been cut, new threads cut into it and re routed. i installed a main shut off valve and hose faucet in the back of the cellar. it will be great for adjusting the humidity in the root cellar.
tom came by and helped. he went and got his loader and filled the the bottom 3-4 inches with the creek gravel that we got the other day. we installed the the drainage pipe and ran it out away from the cellar. i'd like to get started filling the bags with dirt. i have an inspiration to make a combination tube/shovel that scoops and fills the bags in one motion.
i have found an auction house that has steel clad re-enforced insulated panels. i'll use them for the roof of the cellar. i will still use some steel angle as additional support and a three inch concrete steel re-enforced slab on top of that.
my main obstacle is the the door. i'll need to get the door and figure it into my entry. a visit to the habitat for humanity re-store might be my next move. i hope they'll have some insulated steel clad doors that i can cut shorter and install opening inward.

Monday, June 05, 2006


the weeds are just hiding. no really, tabitha is a very diligent gardener. i can't take any credit except purchasing the expensive hoe (mothers day present) that she loves--admittedly it does work amazingly well. we also have started mulching heavily.
the pole bean arch is made from local bamboo and sisal twine. it took a really long time to make but i think it is worth it. it looks very organic--kinda like a giant caterpillar. the aprons were her grand mothers passed along from her aunt. some of them are super cool--funky.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

i get bigger

spring blogging slow down

sorry about the lack of posts lately. work around here has been overwhelming. the garden, cows, chickens, root cellar, yard work, and helping mike buck hay has taken every ounce of spare time. our garden is really looking great. we have some potato blight that really frustrates me. our tomatoes have aphids and nothing but hand squishing them seems to work. our pole bean arch has started to fill in. it looks so organic that it pleases me immencely. we have planted more edamame i hope it grows like crazy. the kids really love it. we have put up fencing to train our squash, pumpkins and cucumbers and suspend them from--any old panty hose can be sent our way.

we got another big bale of fresh hay for the cows from jack--he is such a nice guy (salt of the earth). i got a few yards of creek gravel for the bottom and around the walls of the root cellar. this will be great for drainage. i got a huge piece of vinal to cover the cellar earth/poly bag walls and roof before i cover them with dirt.
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