Wednesday, August 30, 2006

nimue in feeder

this is nimue using her feeder. the hay goes in from the top and she pulls it down as she needs it. it is never obscuring the bottom of the feeder from site of any grain. hence there is never a need to shove the any offending hay out of the feeder in order to see if there happens to be any grain at the bottom.

i set the trap for the second time and it is obviously too small to catch the raccoon. the new wire mesh perimeter seems to be effective. i'll let things settle down and borrow a larger trap and try to catch the raccoon in a few days.

cooler temperatures are a welcome guest. we hope they stay for a while. i have another case of poison ivy--yuck, the afflictions continue...

Monday, August 28, 2006

caster rama

our caster bean plants have grown so much that they obscure most of our garden from this vantage. the bean arbor has started to produce beans again. we continually picked the meager harvest and bore beans in hopes that we'd have a second wind. we'd like to get several more good harvests out of the rattlesnake pole beans. they are tastier than any green bean i've ever had. we'll put them up in the pressure canner and relish in their savory flavor during mid winter.

we have a big row of red swiss chard that i'll attempt some method of extending into the colder months. it'll probably be some form of cold frame or hoop green house. we also have a few rows of beets (my personal favorite). i just came back from the feed-store with a large package of turnip seed. we will attempt to plant them very soon. when the current arugula bolts i'll seed in around the swiss chard in the coldframe/greenhouse--fresh greens well into the fall / early winter.

***** chicken massacre update *****

the wire cloth was effective in staving off the invaders--no more killed chickens. the live-trap on the other hand was tripped with no resident. i'll try that again tonight. there is a easy trip setting that i'll change to the harder setting.

the new puppy is great she is still very scared whenever anyone opens the door but is getting better. she does a few naughty things but we are working on them and she tries to please it's just we need to 'click' on our communication. the kids and tabitha really seem to like her. she tries to herd the chickens which i wish she wouldn't do but that is her nature being part shepard.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

chicken massacre

two more of our broiler chickens were eaten last night. to my best understanding the raccoons reach through the chicken wire and pull the chicks toward them and bite their neck biting part of the wire in the process. i bought 3/8 inch wire cloth and wrapped the entire perimeter of the chicken tractor. they wont be able to reach through anymore. the wire cloth is much stiffer and i left the pointy edge facing down attempting to prevent any attempts at reaching under. i also borrowed mikes live trap and will bait it this evening. hopefully i won't catch our cat. she won't come in the house anymore. she is a fully integrated farm-cat.

on a lighter note here are pictures of the kids.
my princess modeling her sunny glasses

my boy doing his best calvin klein ad pose.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

i built a feeder for the cow

nimue, has been eating out of a galvanized tub since merlin was born. we feed her grain mixed with sea kelp powder and alfalfa. she usually knocks all the alfalfa out of the tub to see if there is any grain at the bottom. then she'll try to reach the ground where she knocked it. tabitha has to get up several times while milking to put it back in the tub. i used several pieces of the rough oak slab to make a trough and hay holder. i'll take photos this morning.
my radial arm saw had bound on a piece of cedar a few weeks ago and needed to be reset. i didn't know how to reset it and had to spend a few minutes to figure it out. the obvious big red reset button didn't do the trick initially. the main switch needed to be in the on position then hold the reset until it starts.
additionally my new circular saw works like a charm. now all i need is a table saw and i can really start working on the trim in the house. the table-saw i want is $500. maybe the next big purchase can go to that. we had to replace our washing machine and vacuum. those stupid appliances and the american planned obsolescence really make me mad. we bought an australian made washer that tauts that i can be repaired by the average handy owner. we also bought an english designed dyson vacuum. unpatriotic you might ask? i'm just sick of this disposable economy we live in and fight back in every way i can. american made used to stand for value and durability now it stands for "buy a new one every few years."
some animal tried to get into our chicken tractor last night. i need to assess the situation this morning.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

tag you're it

stop reading now unless you are willing to do this yourself.

1.My roommate and I once: became best friends.

2.Never in my life have I: gone hang-gliding. the day i went the conditions weren't right. there has to be a prevailing on-shore wind of 12 mph at blacks beach cliffs san diego. i never went back because it was for a story and the deadline passed.

3.The one person who can drive me nuts, but then can always manage to make me smile is: no one fits that criteria. if someone drives me nuts they don't last for long.

4.High school was: just there. i didn't think about it too much then and i don't now.

5. When I’m nervous:
i bite my nails.

6. The last time I cried was: when kassi went to oakland childrens hospital.

7. If I were to get married right now, my bridesmaids/groomsmen would be: matt, dietrich, and craig, no real need for anyone else

8.Would you rather run naked through a crowded place or have someone e-mail your deepest secret to all your friends?
i love to run naked on a cool brisk morning.

9. My hair: is short right now.

10. When I was 5: mrs lemon was my kindergarten teacher and i resented forced naps.

11.Last Christmas: was tristans first one where he really understood what was going on.

12. When I turn my head left:
i have an urge to cough.

13. I should be:
editing photos right now.

14. When I look down I see:
dr. seuss' "are you my mother" and a un-vacuumed floor. our new one arrives tomorrow.

15. The craziest recent event was:
my grandmother-in-law visited and the kids were both wearing clothes when she arrived.

16. If I were a character on “Friends” I’d be:
the naked guy that lives across the way.

17. By this time next year: we'll have a baby almost one year old.

18. My favourite aunt is:
aunt helen on my dads side.

19. I have a hard time understanding: string theory

20. One time at a family gathering: my dad got really drunk and kicked in the side of the car.

21. You know I like you if: i tell you straight out.

22. If I won an award, the first person I’d thank:
my wife.

23. Take my advice: and don't listen to me.

24. My ideal breakfast is:
eggs benedict made with hollandaise that is cooked with the lemon juice.

25. If you visit my home town: you'll wonder where the mill is.

26. Sometime soon I plan to visit:

27. If you spend the night at my house: no more overnight guests!

28. I’d stop my wedding if: it weren't to tabitha

29. The world could do without: monsanto

30. I’d rather lick the belly of a cockroach than:
the belly of a brown recluse

31. The most recent thing I’ve bought myself is: a replacement blade for swinging scythe weed whacker.

32. The most recent thing someone else bought for me is: downy pearls jasmine tea.

33. My favourite blonde is: My childern

34. My favourite brunette is:
My wife

35. My car must have a sign on it that reads:
where am i going and why am i in this hand basket?

36. The last time I was drunk:
a couple of weeks or so ago. my father-in-law makes a man thirsty.

37. The animals I would like to see flying besides birds: bats cause they are eating all the mosquitoes.

38. I shouldn’t have been: driving

39. I should have:
saved 50% of what i made when i worked in europe.

40. Last night I: got some alfalfa for nimue.

41. There’s this girl I know who: loves me.

42: I don’t know: lots of stuff but i'm always eager to learn.

43. A better name for me would be: my name suits me and hasn't always been easy.

44. If I ever go back to school I’ll: expect a full ride including familial expenses.

45.How many days until my birthday?
About 270

46. One dead celebrity I wish I’d met is:
jesus we could straighten a lot of things out.

47. I’ve lived at my current address since:
this is roughly our year anniversary.

48. I’ve been told I look like:
rutger hauer

49. If I could have any car, it would be: dodge sprinter running veggie oil.

50. If I got a new cat tomorrow, I would name it: tabitha gets to name the next cat. i think it will be fair-minou.

if you read this all the way to the end then you are tagged and must complete it yourself--i know who you are.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006


fetching dog is she not?.

this is what we grow around here.

i have never seen such a low need dog.

just the slightest bit of attention and she is focused on you

my kids might like a dog that plays fetch. lets see if this works like a ball.

can i get up now?

kassi and her new best friend. kassi loves rosie. it is so magical to see them together. rosie sees kassi as her pack. they play so well together.

Monday, August 21, 2006

the great cow chase.

friday we took nimue, our milking cow, over to get bred by one of mikes bulls. sadly we had to take merlin also. he needs to be there to take all of nimues milk since we can't milk her while she is there. nimue is easy to get back on lead she loves grain and can be managed by it very easily. merlin on the other hand is a naughty little boy. he integrates into the juniors of the herd and won't be caught by any reasonable means. i chased him around a bit just after church. yes, we might have found a new church--more on that later. he used the bull as interference and i stay away from him because they are ridiculously unpredictable. i gave up and returned home until late afternoon. when i came back, i came packing--a large bag of grain. i managed to bribe the entire herd in the center paddock, merlin and company loose in the other two. the dividing fence between the two larger paddocks is not calf proof. at first he had a few cohorts to foul up the catching process. i somehow, mostly luck, got them into the center paddock also. then the chase was on. i ran merlin, making him run twice the distance as i, around the peninsula of the southern paddock. he went back and forth finally he shot past me. at this point i was getting mad. he then went straight for the closed gate. i creep-ed past him forcing him back into the peninsula he ran back and forth until he was visibly tired. at this point, i was running on sheer anger. finally he ran into the fence leaning against it breathing very heavily. i shot toward him and grabbed his halter. caught... i was dripping sweat dragging an unwilling calf, the quarter mile home. after i got home and the adrenaline quelled, i realized that i hurt my foot. the pain is deep in my foot near the top above the arch. it hurts to walk on but when i stand on tip-toe it seems better. i am sure that nothing is broken but nothing really stops the dull ache and ibuprofen only keeps the sharp pain at bay while walking. needless to say i'm not working at bobs today. i'll do some computer work instead.

anyway, whats up with all the afflictions? today is comparably cool and i could get lots of necessary farmstead stuff done. instead, i'm laid up and running after the kids--probably on my foot way too much for it to get better.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

pound rescue

we did it, we got another dog. we named her rosie. she is a mix with some chow, shepherd and maybe some terrier and is probably her own aunt. she is mellow yet playful--very passive. they had her about a week. she came in almost dead starving and infested. she has recovered fine and seems to just appreciate that we took her home. the kids seem ready for a puppy especially one that is a bit older and much more mellow. she doesn't nip and bite and she is very passive yet already sees kassi as her equal. even in kassi's most commanding voice she isn't taken seriously. that will work out too.

rosie will be an outside dog and seems to prefer it that way. she won't even come into the front porch without coaxing. she kinda wants to chase the chickens a little but they are just fun for her. we'll nip that bud. she tries to please and has a good attention span. hopefully that means she'll be easily trainable.

i think that the whole family is ready for this dog and i am sure that rosie is ready for us.

Saturday, August 19, 2006


the second show canner that we got used and rebuilt had a leak around the press-fit. i called the manufacturer and talked to a technician. he said that i could re-polish the metal to metal seal with '000'-steel-wool. so i cleaned the press fit area and buffed it with some steel wool. it got very shiny and seemed-right. we then tested it on a small batch of tomatoes--it worked.
i have had two smaller allergic reactions since the large one. things seem to be getting better.
we picked a bunch of tomatoes and will do some more canning tomorrow. this is a photo of today's bounty. tabitha does baby-yoga/stretch-flex-bend during picking of the tomatoes. it is the only way she can reach all of them.
tristan and kassi are best friends. they play so well together it amazes me. tristan wrote a bunch of letter like symbols mixed with letters and said that it reads "kassi loves tristan." kassi does love tristan and tristan loves kassi--what more could parents want? the other day they were playing doctors and taking care of a little baby. tristan would call "doctor kassi, doctor kassi" then the rush to the rescue of the baby. tristan made a stethoscope out of a piece of string and a little pot lid. they are both so creative. they make the appropriate toys out of nothing--maybe because they don't really have that many toys. although, tristan is a little technophile. he is trying to play this really complicated game on chase. it is obviously for kids older than ten. i can't keep him away from it. it frustrates him but intrigues him at the same time. i told him he needs to be able to read to answer the questions. they have word scrambles, zoological knowledge questions, fairly complex pattern recognition and problem solving. it requires seventeen points to win and he has only gotten to seven. what could be better than a pregnant woman in a sarong?

Friday, August 18, 2006

allergy reaction

two days ago i went into the barn, moved some hay around and came out with my face turning red and feeling very funny. my breathing felt constricted and my face swelled up. i ran up to the store and got some benedryl. i took a shower and neti potted my sinuses. i then proceeded to be relatively incapicitated for the next two days. this lifestyle isn't conducive to taking a few days off. i have been playing catch-up ever since. benedryl, like all other drugs, really affects me.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

today we are celebrating tristan's 4th birthday

tristan wants a tiered stepped cake--kinda like a wedding cake. i imagine that he has some how calculated that there will be extra frosting this way. the cake should be chocolate and the frosting should be blue. tabitha found natural food color somewhere online. our kids freak-out after artificial coloring.
we are having a little get together. there will be a piñata. i am not exactly sure of all the piñata rules. do you blindfold all the kids and give each of them a bat? just kidding. we only have one bat anyway. i'll try to make a video of some of the event. i know that you hang up the piñata and have a controller holding the other end of the rope at to adjust the height for each child. plus isn't it proper to allow all the kids to miss one time through then let them really have at it? iv'e seen lame piñata events where the kids cannot break the piñata. i doubt that'll be a problem with my feisty son.

i have been working on a design for an uber blogsite that tabitha and i both contribute to. this blog (pile of omelays) will, in essence, remain the same. i have also been researching blog technologies. the hosting service that i use for is integrated with wordpress. there is no hurry since nothing will change until winter--if it does. there are many reasons for this but mostly we need to document our garden better. this will be a shared to the panopticon yet a personal knowledge base. things like avoiding successive plantings in the same location are very important. another example is: to avoid early blight in the tomatoes the soil must be amended before planting with corn meal. a beneficial mold grows and gets established living off the corn meal. allegedly, this mold is pervasive and allows no other molds, including early blight, to grow. this additional blog should logically be married with a kitchen blog since our whole reason for a garden is to eat organically. important kitchen documentation would be: how many quarts of what were put up? which recipes were used for spaghetti sauce, canned salsa and pickles. can acorn squash really replace pumpkin in a pie? to this end, things like categories will become more important. anyway...

speaking of spaghetti sauce, tabitha put up fourteen pints (one pressure cooker's worth). it took an amazing thirty pounds of tomatoes for a mere fourteen pints of sauce. that ratio is roughly two pounds of tomatoes per pint. the kids can eat pasta and red sauce every day. if we were to put up enough pasta sauce for the every day that would be nearing 800 pounds of tomatoes. hence the answer to pablo's question why do we need so many tomato plants?

Saturday, August 12, 2006

homestead progress in photos

these tomatoes are queued for spaghetti sauce. tabitha is making it right now

yummy tomato sauce already for winter sauces.

there are two types of basil growing here. there will be pesto in my near future. some of this basil will be going into the spaghetti sauce that is in the process as i write.

this is a vantage of the tomato jungle. inviting and foreboding at the same time.

our bean arbor is suffering from the heavy rains. this is the second time that i have repaired it. next year it will be much sturdier--live and learn.

i moved this super heavy cast iron bathtub (aka cattle waterer) around to the upper side of the garden. initially i did it so that when we accidentally left the water running when filling it, which happened almost every time, it'd over flow into the garden instead of the woods.

the upper overflow drains to just above the freshly planted beets. the tub drain, needs to be done every week or so, is to keep the mosquito larvae from making more mosquitoes. something miraculous happened as a result. because the tub is in the shade and near her food nimue is now drinking more water. furthermore she is now making more milk with more cream. imagine that....

this is our Georgia flame pepper plant. it is a russian heirloom. it is heavy with fruit. we hope it is good.

we let our spring arugula bolt and it re-seeded this area. i love arugula. it goes perfectly with tomatoes. the larger plants towering above the arugula is okra. the kids love pickled okra.

this is my compost bin with completed compost. it was over half full when i filled this bin from the ones in the background.this is an example of this compost bin just after the transfer.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

canning continues

we have this baaad arse pressure canner. it is pretty large but it's best feature is it has a metal to metal seal and is made by wisconson foundry. there is a very cool safety mechanism that blows fairly easily without fail and it has a rocker type pressure calibration. tabitha's mother got an identical one at a garage sale but sans the rocker pressure calibration. so we found that the new rocker type will retro-fit into the oldschool toggle type port. so we ordered a new nipple-vent and rocker weight. now we have two state of the art pressure canners. they are big enough to hold several quarts but they both still fit on our stove top. henry ford would be jealous of our production abilities.

we went to arkansas and bought three bushel of peaches and tabitha has put up forty or so quarts of peaches--peach pie, peach cobbler, peaches and icecream, peaches and french toast, and just plain peaches.

tomatoes are next she already has done a few batches but we should start seeing them really come-on. the yellow bush beans are threatening to really come-on soon also. we'll can the crap out of them too.

have i mentioned lately that i have a good woman. not only because she is spending countless hours canning but she's just a good woman and mother. the last photo from the left tomatoes, pickled beets, peppers and below is a couple more tomatoes then canned pumpkin. by the weekend i'll have the pumphouse cleaned out for pantry storage.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

weekly panorama 8/9/6

notice the vacant rows from harvesting and culling dead plants.

where am i going and why am i in this handbasket?

the tomatoes are really starting. this is tabitha's special harvest basket. it needs to be soft as to not damage delicate fruit, sturdy able to carry twenty five pounds of tomatoes and rugged to withstand small children riding and playing in it. this one is from africa and made of rope like weave. i must admit it is perfect for harvesting tomatoes.

i made pico de gallo "beak of the rooster" last night. it is a fresh raw salsa. it has few ingredients--like all great garden recipes it depends heavily on the freshness of the produce.
2 cups of tomatoes
1/2 to 1 cup of onions
a nickel sized bunch of cilantro *
1 to 2 pickled peppers "serrano chilies"
1 lime squeezed into the mix
salt to taste.

the first thing to remember it these are just guidelines. the proportions can all be skewed toward personal taste. many other things can be added like garlic, pepper to help the less-fresh produce. corn, papaya, apples, cucumbers are also a good support to the tomato portion of the mix.

* nickel sized group of stalks and their accompaning leaves. kinda like measuring pasta.

tristan loves pico. i made a double batch and he ate a third of it. he promptly said i need to go to the bathroom and make more room for more pico.

Monday, August 07, 2006

garden goddess

this is a representation of good and evil. the luscious ripe yellow pear tomato and their advisary the tobacco horned worm. it is like lady justice and her scales--showing opposites in balance. only in this case it would be the O'Melay garden Goddess of balance, exhibiting the circle of life.

this is a high resolution photo so you can zoom into the horned worm and see this menace up close as to recognize and hopefully illude it in the future.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

edamame aka fresh soybeans

tabitha and co. are picking and freezing edamame. these were a breeze to grow. we planted them, after it was warm enough, next to a soaker hose. we watered them whenever we watered the garden. harvesting them consisted of cutting the entire plant and bringing them inside and sitting at the kitchen table to pick the beans.

the kids were playing with the other garden harvest while we picked the pods. all of these little squash fit so nicely in this egg carton.

stacking the pumpkins is a game of skill and coordination.

romeo is our blue andalusian. he is a smaller breed so he's developing quicker. he just started crowing the other day. he likes to jump up on the fence, being sure that the girls are watching, and crow his best crow

Saturday, August 05, 2006

wholesome fun

tristan was trying to impress this girl with a story of his exploits in his dream last night--flying and doing flips.

ohh, the magical button that makes the caterpillar fly.

this ride was the most fun for all. kassi and tristan both loved it and it was kinda fun to ride as an adult.

tabitha, and her funnel-cake not to be separated at any cost.

Silverdollar city albeit a commercialized theme park was a wonderful time. all of the old-timey ozarks personae was very contrived but well done nonetheless. the kids had such a great time. sorry pictures were spotty. i was mostly busy having fun too.
tristan is 41 31/32 tall and all of the big rides required 42 inches. his shoes were flat and we got measured at every bigboy ride. he was amazing riding everything they'd let him on with gusto. except....

there was this huge roller coaster that launches you into full speed from a standstill then into spinning, flipping and spiraling. he got so scared that he was crying for mama. i held his little hand and laughed and giggled trying to change the tone. during the second climb to greater heights and even more terror tristan whimpered and i regretted going on the ride. as we entered the slow down period tristan stopped crying and was just generally unhappy. we got out of the ride and tristan declared that he did NOT like that roller coaster. in retrospect, he says that he'd go on that ride if we would just go back to silver dollar city.

it was busy and hot but they, unlike all other theme parks i'd been too, had lots of trees and with all of the other cooling measures the heat was very tolerable.

there was quite a bit of this behavior. kassi was pushing tristan over to make room so she could sit in the rented stroller

should i jump? is it too high?

happy girl.

at least both kids are looking at the camera at the same time.
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