archives for 11/2016
Long before Mark and I moved
back to the land, my parents made the same journey. They stayed just
long enough to get me hooked on the idea then fled to the nearest town
a decade later.
Last week's frosts
nipped back most of the tender summer plants, only missing a few
zinnias nestled up against the side of the house. In the garden, a few
late figs might manage to ripen despite the freeze and a few pepper
plants still have green leaves. Otherwise, though, the summer crops are
a thing of the past.
Leaf colors changed fast
with the wake of the weather change as well. All of the beautiful
yellows of mid October immediately started blowing out of the trees, to
be replaced by hints of red here and there.
Went out looking for a loveseat today and ended up with this 100 dollar bargain.
Harvest date for our
fall carrots varies widely. If I'm on the ball, I dig them in mid
September just in time to put down a fall planting of oats. This year, I've been doing the
bare minimum, so I let them ride until after the first frost sweetened
their orange roots.
Even with the current
mini-drought (1.1 inches of rain in October), the carrots came out of
the ground relatively easily. Only one bed that hasn't received as much
organic matter was hard as a rock --- I felt like I was chiseling those
carrots out like fossils.
Half the harvest (not
all pictured) were easy to dig, wash, and sort in a couple of hours
work Wednesday afternoon. I figure our total yield for the fall carrots
will be around 2.5 bushels...and most of those are going in my stomach
since carrots are one of the few vegetables my body can currently
handle. Thank goodness I overplanted for the sake of the goats!
We had a fun visit to the big city park today.
I'm now officially a FODMAP believer. After months of
awful diarrhea, nine days of a low FODMAP diet turned me 100% regular.
Time to start adding categories back in to see which one(s) were
messing me up.
I started with milk,
which I was pretty sure wasn't going to cause a problem. After all, I'd
never had trouble with lactose intolerance in the past. Day 1 --- one
quarter cup of milk and all's well. Day 2 --- half a cup of milk and
back to the explosive diarrhea.
Another picture from our fun day in the park yesterday.
This year's top
reorganization priority is my homestead office. After finally caving
and buying a comfortable
chair this summer,
my current workspace was no longer working. Which was actually a
much-needed nudge, since I ended up with a lot of books to discard once I
pulled everything off the shelves.
Here's phase two ---
shelves removed and only the items I use at least once a month returned
to the office zone. Mark has promised to build me a storage futon to
continue the renovation into the left side of the photo above, and I'm
pondering that big bare wall on the right with its ancient floral
wallpaper. Am I really to the point in my homesteading adventure where
I'm considering adding a coat of paint?
I think I like the Tractor Supply buckets a little over the Lowes equal size bucket.
I don't usually notice
interior design, but off and on over the last decade I've been drawn to
certain spaces. What have they all had in common? Accent walls --- one
wall of bright, stark color that contrasts vividly with the rest of the
space. I figured the now
shelfless wall could
be my first stab in that direction.
What would I do different on
the milking stand we
built two years ago?
Sometimes when I'm lazy,
I bring the goats to the garden without a tiedown stake. Instead, I
slip their leashes over my foot and settle in to read.
The trouble with the toe
tiedown is that I get engrossed in my book and the goats yank, yank,
yank until they get into something they're not supposed to. Bad,
Artemesia! That broccoli is for humans!
You know you've been had
when your goats stick out their tongues at you.
We harvested a good size
basket of carrots today.
I hope that most of you
have perfect digestion. But I thought I'd share my FODMAP
reintroduction plan anyway since it's estimated that 10 to 15% of the
world population suffers from irritable bowel syndrom and since a
low-FODMAP diet has been proven to mitigate symptoms in 70% of cases,
especially if your problems run toward, well, the runs. In other words,
I expect hundreds of our readers could benefit from this information.
One study following up with folks who had been on the low FODMAP diet a year earlier suggested that wheat, onions, and dairy are the most likely to still be giving people trouble at that late date. So (despite what I did, starting with milk as my first trial food), I recommend testing in the order shown above so you can let your gut heal for an extra month before attempting the real heavy hitters. Good luck!
Our current herd isn't
nearly as destructive as when the ornery and horned Abigail was a
member of the crew. But Aurora is a major climber and never grew out of
childhood obsession with dancing in the mineral feeders. Time for Mark to move one
of the two to a new spot in hopes we can keep our doeling's feet on the
ground where they belong.
Brussels sprouts are so loaded with yummy goodness they're leaning over.
The handy thing about
waiting to do any interior design until I'd written a book covering the topic is
that I can learn from other trailersteaders' trial and error. Turns out
wood paneling is best sanded pre-painting, so I scuffed up the finish
thoroughly in preparation for dealing with the bottom half of the wall.
I'd also gotten it into
my head that I wanted to create a pseudo-stucco texture. So rather than
simply filling in the indented lines of the paneling (so it didn't look
so much like painted panels), I went a little nutty with the joint
compound. As you can see in the image above, I also used mesh tape
along the true seams so the thicker-than-usual spackling doesn't crack.
Here's part of the
texturing on the upper half of the wall. Time to let it dry, then
primer and paint. Fingers crossed my experiment looks good rather than
turning into an eyesore.
The Willow trees we are growing for the building with living trees experiment are well over 6 feet and might be ready for sculpting soon.
I'm getting a rather
absurd amount of joy out of painting my
office wall. I
suspect that if the area was even twice a large, it would be a chore
rather than a delight. But as is, it only takes about 15 minutes to put
on a coat of primer or paint, so I'm always itching for another round.
Here's the top half of
the wall after the first coat went on. The bottom will be an earthy
yellow/orange/brown, simulating a landscape in two blocks of color.
Stay tuned for more photos once the paint dries!
Broccoli continues to produce for us and is still one of my favorite garden items.
So how did my pseudo-stucco
turn out? I have to admit that it doesn't look all that much like
stucco. If I was going to repeat the project, I might follow
Roland's advice and add some sand for fine-grain texture. Alternatively, I might just
try to use stucco itself since even non-glossy paint has a plasticy
sheen once dried on the wall.
I wasn't so sure after I
put down the first coat, though. I
selected the paint colors online then sent Mark to pick them
up, and I wasn't quite expecting my orange-brown to be quite so, well, orange.
Luckily, I'd never planned to
paint the whole wall in one color. After putting down two coats of the
rather neony hue, I pulled out the yellow ochre I'd also selected.
Brushing a very small amount of paint onto the top of a roller tray, I
barely wet a roller in the paint. Then I lightly rolled over the
textured wall, pressing down more firmly in raised areas that I wanted
The biggest Super Moon since 1948 will be visible Monday and Sunday.
I dropped by Sugar
Hill on a frosty Saturday morning for a quick hike.
After spooking a pair of
does, I caught back up to them further along the trail. I didn't take a
photo, but I passed a flock of turkeys too --- unsurprising since I've
seen more of the latter this year than ever before.
We've been waiting until our fig is completely dormant before protecting it for winter.
The last leaves fell today and Anna picked the unripe fruits to give to the goats.
Tomorrow, we'll wrap.
Poor Artie developed a
bald spot on one side of her neck a few weeks ago. I assumed she'd just
scraped it on something, but the patch got bigger over time and then
one popped up on the other side too.
We've got four Hazel Nut
I'm trying a different
method of winter-protecting our largest fig tree this year. I call it
the hay porcupine.
I would have considered
this technique far too wasteful if we hadn't dramatically overbought on
hay in fall 2015. But I'd already decided to mulch with the eleven
leftover bales that our goats would prefer not to eat. Why not use them
first to insulate our fig's many branches?
After snipping back
limbs that spread past the protection of the hay, I put one final bale
Then I topped it all off
with a tarp. Only time will tell whether the hay porcupine trumps the leaf
cylinder as our fig protection method of choice.
I left the hoses out
longer than usual this year because I was debating watering a few more
times. After all, the ground is bone dry.
There was more dancing
compared to last year.
Artemesia keeps going
into heat when Monte's
mom is out of town. This time, I called at the first sign of yelling.
"There's only a little bit of clear mucous, no flagging yet," I said.
Luckily, by the time we
got to the location of our picnic lunch, Artemesia was starting to
flag. And when we brought her to Monte, she was definitely in standing
heat. It took him a few tries, though, to get in position when her tail
was up and out of the way. But we're hopeful Artie now has another set
of buns in the oven.
National Black Cat day is
The uncovered lettuce in
the main garden is finally biting the dust. Luckily, the quick
hoop we erected near the end of October has sheltered our younger
bed. These crisp green leaves are ready to eat now and if the weather
remains mild might feed us for two more months.
battery powered chainsaw
continues to impress us.
Those of you on my email list
will already be aware of the secret I've been hugging to my chest for
the last 2.5 years --- my second life writing about werewolves.
I know most of you don't
read urban fantasy, so I won't bore you with details about her books in
the future. But if you're interested, I'm running a big sale on my 2016
series at the moment with the prequel
free and the other books marked
down to 99 cents apiece. Meanwhile, Shiftless is always
free on all retailers as a sampler of my earlier fiction work.
Our longest quick hoop ever stretches almost the entire distance of the garden.
We feel lucky to have
been unaffected by the wildfires currently burning in North Carolina,
Tennessee, Kentucky, and elsewhere. Even the smoke has mostly passed us
by --- the photo above captured a rainy Saturday morning rather than
the smoky haze it initially appeared to be.
I doubt that extended
sprinkle did much good in the fire-prone regions since it hasn't even
managed to wet our parched soil..and we're officially only in a
moderate drought. This bed where I dug carrots a couple of weeks ago
still looks very much like it did the day I pulled the crop out of the
My classmate from film class
posted one of our projects on his Youtube channel.
"Please show the whole finished wall - if you can - it looks nice in snippets but would look even better as a whole finished project?!"
Maybe a lush patch of oats becomes crispy to goats in the cold weather?
The internet suggested
making the rest
of the walls in a room the same hue but three shades lighter than
the color of the accent wall. I suspect they meant for me to look at a
paint chip and go down three rows from my present color to find my new
color, but I instead got out a clean bucket and mixed a bit of blue
with a lot of white. (Yes, I marked the side of the bucket so I
can recreate the color if I end up wanting more.)
I remembered from the
accent wall that the paint gets a lot darker as it dries, so I went
lighter than I thought I'd want the wall to be. I'll have to take an
after photo later once everything's dry so you can see what I mean ---
this photo shows the paler paint as it's being rolled on.
We've had such a mild
autumn that we're still burning last year's firewood. In fact, we
haven't even split any firewood yet --- we're still working through the
stockpiled bounty we stacked on the back porch while cleaning out the
shed last spring.
It's a struggle to get a cute
image of Aurora these days.
One summer, I decided I
wanted to learn to identify clouds. My new enthusiasm hit a major
roadblock, though --- in our neck of the woods, pillow-like cumulus
clouds are by far the most common and I couldn't seem to spot anything
...and the streaky
cirrus clouds shown here. (Or at least that's what I'm guessing they
are based on five minutes of internet research.)
Turns out Thanksgiving was the perfect day to find a good spot for Anna's new sign.
Mom and I are very
easily amused. I pulled out one of our biggest sweet potatoes of the
year for Thanksgiving dinner and she immediately exclaimed: "It looks
like a baby pig!"
We did some Black Friday
shopping today in the form of an 80 straw bale delivery.
Building a mountain of
straw in the barn was a delight with the hauling assistance of the
Kubota. Using the pyramid approach, I was able to stack most of the
bales (with Mark carrying them in from the outside).
Walter gave us a Jarrahdale
pumpkin as a bonus with the straw.
There's a fine line
between letting the goats eat human-friendly produce and letting winter
kill off the crops so badly even Artemesia turns up her dainty little
What was the straw bale load
limit of the Kubota X900?
What do these items have
Monday, Mark and I
filmed Lemons for
Christmas with the
help of four very amazing people. It was an experience unlike any I'd
ever had before and I felt so lucky to have been able to take part.
Our two actors were
professional, believable, and just plain fun. I wasn't expecting such
nice, down-to-earth people who could also reliably turn into characters
on command. The upshot? I highly recommend Myranda and Jim for all of your filmmaking
Fink was equally
astonishing as a director of photography. Mark hasn't taken a
cinematography course yet...but I think he got about a month's worth of
education in those six short hours.
And don't forget Ken,
who lent us his lemon tree, his greenhouse...and actually his entire
house...for a very long afternoon.
Oh the yelling and the
Artemesia away to be bred seemed to flick a switch in
our seven-month-old doeling. Previously quiet, little Aurora abruptly
found not only her voice but also her temper, head butting her mother
mercilessly when I took the two out to graze.
My new hypothesis is
both simpler and more complex. I suspect that being impregnated changed
Artemesia's hormone balance and she abruptly realized she needed to
stop feeding Aurora and save all of her energy for the new buns in her
oven. Cutting off the ever-flowing milk was a hard pill for little
Aurora to swallow, so she acted out like many of us do when we don't
get our way. With weaning nearly complete, though, our doeling's sunny
disposition is returning.
A behind the scenes look at one of our indoor scenes from Monday.
Powered by Branchable Wiki Hosting.