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archives for 08/2017

Aug 2017
Rinsing tomato seeds

In hot summer weather, it only takes about three or four days for a full scum of fungus to form on top of fermenting tomato seeds. I scoop the scum off with my fingers, pour off the yucky water, rinse a couple of times with clean water, then let the seeds dry. Now we're ready for another year of no-cost tomatoes!

Posted Tue Aug 1 05:55:26 2017 Tags:
Green wagon.

Our reliable green utility wagon made it on the list of tools we can't live without.

Posted Tue Aug 1 15:30:14 2017 Tags:
Fake eclipse glasses

I've been duped...and I hope you weren't too!

After reading a couple of articles about fake eclipse glasses, I performed a simple at-home test on the supposedly ISO certified offerings I bought on Amazon. I placed the glasses on my face and turned toward an ordinary household light.

From what I've read, true eclipse glasses would have showed only total darkness in this situation. Unfortunately, I could easily see the light through my glasses...meaning that I could have burnt out my vision while watching the upcoming solar eclipse.

So if you've bought eclipse glasses, test them today. This test isn't a sure-fire way to tell glasses are safe, but it can definitely pull out the cheapest knockoffs like ours that aren't safe. To be 100% confident, buy only from the approved list of suppliers. Good luck and hope for cloudless skies!

Posted Wed Aug 2 06:53:00 2017 Tags:
Kiwi testing.
Testing a kiwi tells me they need a lot more time on the vine.
Posted Wed Aug 2 15:36:50 2017 Tags:
Beech fern

We've had an offer accepted on just over 16 acres of vacant land 14 minutes outside of Athens, Ohio. After weighing the pros and cons of close vs. far, house vs. trailer, build-it-ourself vs. ready-to-go, we decided to start again from scratch...only this time with slightly more money in our pockets so we don't have to build outwards from a windowless trailer that was literally worthless when we brought it home.

Over the next few weeks, we're doing our due diligence. Making sure the ground will perc so we can put in a septic system, performing a title search so we don't end up with any nasty surprises down the line, and getting our mortgage paperwork finalized. Hopefully it will all go smoothly and we'll be ready for the serious work of the move in early September. Maybe if I start kale seeds in flats now, we can even have a fall garden?

Posted Thu Aug 3 07:19:58 2017 Tags:
Solar oven repair.

Removing some broken pieces of glass from solar oven double glazed window.

Posted Thu Aug 3 15:50:50 2017 Tags:
Saving bean seeds

Next up on the seed-saving docket is green beans. This is probably the very easiest vegetable to save seeds from, although shelling the beans is a bit time-consuming. Just wait until the pods are brown, remove the seeds from the husks, and let the former dry for a couple of weeks until all moisture is gone.

For more details on the easiest vegetable seeds to save, how to process them, and more, check out Weekend Homesteader: August.

Posted Fri Aug 4 06:33:14 2017 Tags:
Mini mushroom log with a fruiting mushroom.

The recent rainfall was enough to jump start some mini-mushroom log fruiting.

Posted Fri Aug 4 15:05:23 2017 Tags:
Tomato blight

In the midst of packing and preparing to move, I've let our garden go. Without pruning and tying up, the tomatoes out in the weather have predictably begun succumbing to blight.

Happy tomatoes

Contrast that to plants only ten feet away that have enjoyed the shelter of the roof overhang. These plants are green and vibrant and covered with ripening fruit.


The second story --- the grapes --- have shown a similar response to the roof overhang. Fruits that stay dry during rains are mostly rot-free while around 75% of the fruits exposed to the weather have succumbed to fruit rot.

Looks like a roof overhang is a very important gardening asset in wet climates...especially if you want to be as hands-off as I've been this year!

Posted Sat Aug 5 07:07:36 2017 Tags:
Anna with her Mom at exit 7.
Anna and Adrianne during our recent rendezvous at exit 7 in Bristol.
Posted Sat Aug 5 14:45:53 2017 Tags:
Light at the end of the tunnel

We haven't posted about it much because the process isn't very photogenic, but we've been spending an hour or two every day packing and preparing for our move. Eleven years' accumulation of stuff was pretty daunting, but we're starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Autumn leaves

In some ways, I had it easier than Mark. I started sorting before the floodplain dried up enough to drive on, so I was able to make some pretty draconian decisions. I'd pick up an item, imagine carrying it half a mile through the swamp...and decide that there was very little that I actually wanted to take with me after all.

Once the Kubota was back on the job, I lowered my standards a bit. Had I used the item in the last year? If not, that meant it needed a new home.

Rock cliff

All of that said, I have a feeling that when I finally unbox some of these sacred possessions a month or so from now, I'll find I didn't miss them in the interim. In which case, I'll expunge a bit more. I always forget how light I feel when I have fewer possessions weighing me down!

Posted Sun Aug 6 07:21:16 2017 Tags:
How to drill a well do it yourself method. sent me their instructions with 2 DVD's.

After watching the DVD's I've concluded that this method could work in most situations if you are willing to follow instructions and keep working at it. It's quite clever. You'll need a good sized air compressor.

The cost savings could be substantial. Especially if you need a well in a remote location that would be difficult to get heavy equipment into.

Posted Sun Aug 6 15:07:33 2017 Tags:
Ripening butternut squash

While I've been busy prepping for our move, the garden has been carrying along without me. Weedy and overgrown, the beds are still managing to ripen up quite a lot of vegetables, most about two-thirds the size of my usual specimens but not bad considering the neglect.

Perhaps the experience of harvesting from an unweeded garden will help me lower my standards when I begin again in a new plot of earth?

Posted Mon Aug 7 07:37:00 2017 Tags:
Stratus rain gauge.

We've gone through a few rain gauges over the years that don't seem to last.

This Stratus professional rain gauge is easy to read and is built to last.

Yes. It made it on the list of items to be moved to the new homestead.

Posted Mon Aug 7 15:17:38 2017 Tags:
Summer raspberries

The grape harvest is starting to slow down, but the midsummer raspberries are luckily right on track to fill in the gap. Before Mark cut me off from further transplanting, I potted up three of these Taylor Red Raspberries to start our new planting. This winter, we'll buy a fresh run of everbearers to extend the season into the spring and fall.

Posted Tue Aug 8 07:13:34 2017 Tags:
Potted plants to take to new homestead.

Is it still considered moving if all the dirt goes with us in the form of potted plants?

Posted Tue Aug 8 16:12:15 2017 Tags:

How is our low-cost, homemade creek crossing holding up eleven years later? I've actually been really impressed by the ability of the ford to withstand dozens of floods, tree trunks washing across its width, and the usual wear and tear of wheeled vehicles crossing over time after time.

Newly created fordThe only big thing we would have done differently is to decrease the slope on the side shown in the image above. The other approach is much shallower, created with the help of a rented bobcat. But when we tried to go up the far bank, the equipment got stuck in the creek and scared us to death, so we opted to dig it out by hand. The result, predictably, was a steeper incline that tends to rub bumpers and create a slip hazard for human traffic.

Other than that, though, the ford has done its job very well. For the sake of comparison, the second photo shows what it looked like when newly created. Not so different from today!

Posted Wed Aug 9 07:10:38 2017 Tags:
Tools and hardware on the Kubota.

Boxed up most of our tools and hardware that luckily fit into a Kubota load.

Posted Wed Aug 9 16:20:10 2017 Tags:
Owl feather

We've had several move-related questions. Let's see if I can sum our answers up in one post.

"What's your time line?" --- various people

Especially with buying raw land instead of a ready-made homestead, there are a lot of hoops we have to jump through before we can settle in up north. Unfortunately, most of them are out of our control, so we don't have an actual timeline. I've been marking fun events to attend down on my planner starting on August 30 (Ecuadorian ethobotany!), but I'll be quite happy if we sleep the first night on our new land by the middle or even end of September.

(Okay, I'm lying. I'm totally impatient and want to be there now, now, now! But I'm pretending to be okay with the slow speed of real-estate deals.)

"How are you two doing the move?" --- Jennifer

Mark's mom and her partner have very kindly offered to bring a covered trailer about six feet wide by nine feet long to transport our stuff, while Mark and I will follow behind in a car full of unhappy cats. That said, I'm tentatively planning to cram every nook and cranny of our car with potted plants when we go up to Ohio for the closing. My floral offspring should (hopefully) survive a couple of weeks on their own as long as the weather isn't too hot and dry.

"Are you still writing in the midst of packing up your entire life?" --- Mom

I'll admit that I was having trouble focusing for the first couple of weeks after deciding to move. But recently, I've actually gotten more done than usual. Most of my move-related tasks are complete, and I don't have a garden to manage. So I'm writing up a storm and actually feel a bit like I'm on vacation. Looks like this change of venue is already a good idea.

Posted Thu Aug 10 06:47:10 2017 Tags:
Close up of a ever bearing raspberry.

Ever bearing raspberries turn a distinct shade of red when they are ready to eat.

Posted Thu Aug 10 14:59:02 2017 Tags:
Cat on a log

With the weather slated to turn wet(ter), Mark and I pushed through several more loads of hauling. Strider, on the other hand, took advantage of a dry hour to nap out on the splitting stump. "Don't push it," he told me before going back to sleep.

Posted Fri Aug 11 06:57:13 2017 Tags:
Bon fire Friday.
Our 4th fire today was the biggest one yet.
Posted Fri Aug 11 15:03:42 2017 Tags:
Brussels sprout seedling

Usually, I like to get baby plants into the ground as soon as possible. But I've been holding over fall crops, trying to decide whether to give them away or save them for our new homestead. And, in the process, I collected some data on how long crucifers can hang out in flats without starting to complain.

Of course, the answer to this question depends not just on the type of plant you're growing, but also on the type of soil and the number of cells in the flat. More cells = smaller root zone = shorter happy time for baby plants.

With that caveat aside, here's some data for you. I started the Brussels sprouts pictured at the top of this post on May 15, nearly three solid months ago. And (using the slow-release fertilizer in the store-bought potting soil), they're still thriving in their 54-cell flats.

Nutrient-deficient broccoli

Broccoli, on the other hand, went into a 72-cell flat with the same soil on June 16...and they were already starting to complain six weeks later. Looks like it would have been much cleverer to use  larger cell sizes for seedlings intended to be held over, especially if they're as hungry as greedy broccoli plants. Live and learn!

Posted Sat Aug 12 07:16:59 2017 Tags:
Load of gravel in the kubota.

I switched from the largest rip rap gravel to the 3-4 inch gravel and it seems to be a better fit for our troubled spots.

Posted Sat Aug 12 15:47:41 2017 Tags:
Joe Pye Weed

Did you ever wonder how Joe Pye Weed got its name? After a bit of googling, I discovered that Joe Pye was a Massachusetts Native American who used the plant to treat fever in the early nineteenth century. (Or so the only page that cited sources suggests.)

I'm not sure that butterflies care what this late-summer flower is called. They seem grateful for copious nectar sources now that their wings are beginning to succumb to wear. Perhaps that's a lesson in mindfulness right outside our back door?

Posted Sun Aug 13 07:16:16 2017 Tags:
Mark and Anna sitting in the Kubota.
Sitting in the Kubota on a Sunday afternoon.
Posted Sun Aug 13 15:20:08 2017 Tags:
Out the window

With a lot of our packing done, this week will be committed to cleaning, mowing, and helping our homestead put its best foot forward as we get in touch with a realtor and prepare to sell. In the process, I'm also taking copious notes on aspects of the homestead I want to replicate in our new stomping grounds.

Front porch

Porches are a biggy, and after having three of them built I finally know exactly what I want. Our front porch --- 12 feet wide by 24 feet long --- is a perfect size, luxuriant and open with lots of space for curing vegetables, drying seeds, and dining.

Unfortunately, we don't use it as much as I'd like in the summer --- prime porch season --- because the structure faces south. So the perfect porch on my opinion would be just like this one...but on the north side of the house for summer shade. As a bonus, the north face of our new place will face into the woods and away from the road, making it a perfect fit for private summer living.

Posted Mon Aug 14 06:54:07 2017 Tags:
Walden cabin site stone marker.

A design team of 8 video game creators have been working on a Walden game for the past 5 years and released it this Summer.

The game uses detailed notes that Thoreau took about his daily routine.

It takes place in a real-time 3D environment which creates the geography of Walden pond and the woods around it.

Posted Mon Aug 14 15:05:21 2017 Tags:

Learned optimismLearned Optimism by Martin E. P. Seligman isn't really homesteading-related. But I've found that mindset is very important in everything ranging from creating a microbusiness to keeping your garden weeded, So I'm going to regale you with highlights from this classic for the rest of the week.

First, though, I wanted to write a little about the book itself. Seligman is considered by many to be the father of positive psychology, and given some of the tripe that fills that field, I wasn't sure what to expect. Imagine my surprise to find that his book reads like a Lorenz- or Tinbergen-style popularization of years of intense scientific research. No woo-woo here!

In fact, the most common negative review of the book can be summed up as follows: too much data. So if you don't enjoy looking behind the curtain and seeing how science is done, you might want to skip the middle half of the book. On the other hand, the beginning and end should still be up most people's alleys. And, personally, I found the middle eminently readable...but I do have a background in science.

I should warn the potential reader about a couple of other problematic aspects as well. First of all, the book is nearly thirty years old at this point, so you might be left feeling like you need to delve into the recent literature for updates. (Not necessarily a problem, although a potential time sink.) More troubling, there are some animal experiments that will make the squeamish cringe (although I didn't find them nearly as bad as I'd thought they would be). So read at your own risk!

Okay, enough about the book itself. Tomorrow, I'll present the highlight of Seligman's research --- the finding that thought patterns developed as children will determine your future success, health, and more. And those patterns aren't set in stone --- you can change them if you're willing.

Posted Tue Aug 15 07:15:34 2017 Tags:
Path of solar eclipse.

It's less than a week before the 2017 Solar Eclipse.

We'll be driving 3 hours that morning to arrive at the path of Totality.

We've been looking forward to this all Summer.

Posted Tue Aug 15 14:39:42 2017 Tags:

OptimismIn Learned Optimism, Martin E. P. Seligman sets out to understand why some people, when faced with adversity, dust themselves off and jump back into the game while others cave in and give up. He concludes that optimists possess a world view that makes them more resilient in the face of life's inevitable problems while pessimists lack that internal resiliency.

The results of a pessimistic world view are startling. Pessimism dramatically increases your risk of clinical depression and it also tends to make you age faster and less gracefully. Pessimistic people --- even if they began with the same or greater talent --- also succeed less often in life (graduating from college, getting raises at work, winning at sports, etc.). Basically, being pessimistic is bad for your health.

So what's the little difference that creates these big results? In some ways, it's a simple mind game. Pessimists believe that bad things "will last a long time, will undermine everything they do, and are their own fault." Optimists, in contrast, tend to use the struck-by-lightning hypothesis --- everything bad was caused by external forces, isn't likely to be repeated, and is only temporary. "The optimists," Seligman writes, "believe defeat is not their fault."

If you're a dyed-in-the-wool pessimist, does that mean you're sunk? Luckily, no. It's quite possible to change your thinking and change your life trajectory. In tomorrow's post, I'll start showing you Seligman's method how.

Posted Wed Aug 16 07:18:34 2017 Tags:
Honda mower in action.

We let the mowing getting a little behind schedule this Summer.

Thankfully the Honda double blades can handle the extra high lawn by going slow.

Posted Wed Aug 16 15:07:20 2017 Tags:

Optimism versus pessimismSo what's Martin E. P. Seligman's recipe for learned optimism? The idea is to focus on the negative thoughts that run through your mind right after you've been slapped the face with a setback.

As I mentioned yesterday, pessimists make every adversity personal ("It's my fault. I'm such a loser!"), pervasive ("This is going to ruin everything!"), and permanent ("The awfulness is going to last forever!"). Optimists do just the opposite, attributing setbacks to external forces, compartmentalizing negative results into a single aspect of their life, and realizing that all bad things pass given enough time.

Okay, I can hear you now --- what about when it really is your fault and the problem really is going to ruin your life forever? First of all, Seligman admits that in some situations, pessimists have been shown to have a more accurate view of the world. "If the cost of failure is high, optimism is the wrong strategy," he warns, citing airplane pilots trying to decide whether to de-ice an extra time and folks contemplating extramarital affairs as people who would be better off staying pessimistic for the near future.

Pessimistic thinkingHowever, in most scenarios, Seligman finds that our pessimistic worldviews are equally skewed in the opposite direction, in which case retraining your brain for optimism will improve your health and energize you to reach your fullest potential. Want to give it a shot? Start out with his first exercise --- every time you experience a setback today and tomorrow, write down what happened, the feelings and beliefs that immediately ran through your head, and how those thought processes skewed the rest of your hour or day.

For bonus points, try to think up alternative reactions that would have felt less personal, permanent, and pervasive. Would realizing that the average test grade in your class was a C make your B look pretty hot? Would remembering how you dealt with a similar problem last week help you realize that there is a path through the awfulness?

Then, when you're done, you might want to check out the other exercises in Seligman's book. Enjoy!

Posted Thu Aug 17 07:03:35 2017 Tags:
Box turtle and his cricket friend riding on top.
I spotted this box turtle today giving a ride to his cricket friend.
Posted Thu Aug 17 15:06:34 2017 Tags:
Instant pot cookery

The Instant Pot achieved the unthinkable --- its tool-likeness tricked Mark into learning to cook. His first batch of chicken enchiladas was a resounding success. The only downside? Now I have to learn to wash dishes!

Posted Fri Aug 18 06:50:33 2017 Tags:
Eclipse glasses at Bristol Library.

All the stores in our area are sold out of Eclipse glasses.

Anna called them all within an hour driving distance.

Thank you Bristol Public library for the free NASA eclipse glasses.

Posted Fri Aug 18 15:40:51 2017 Tags:
Cox's Orange Pippin

Mom brought over one of her homegrown Cox's Orange Pippin apples for us to taste last weekend. Mark wasn't a huge fan, but I loved it. The flavor is like a sourer version of Golden Delicious, with plenty of acid tones to complement the sweet.

Actually, Mom suspects she may have picked the fruits too soon, even though the seeds were quite dark (a sign that an apple is ripe). So maybe we'll try another fruit next year and see if there's a difference?

Posted Sat Aug 19 07:11:46 2017 Tags:
Solarization with thicker plastic?

I wanted to check if our thick solarization plastic failure from last month had done any more weed killing with an extra month of cooking.

There were even more weeds than 4 weeks ago.

It seems like the thicker plastic lets enough light through to function like a greenhouse instead of a weed killer.

Posted Sat Aug 19 14:41:46 2017 Tags:

Mom and Maggie kindly came and sat in line with us for two hours at the library so we could get eclipse glasses to replace the knockoffs we'd originally bought. On the way out the door, Kousa dogwoodMaggie asked if I could ID a tree. "I think that's the edible relative of a dogwood..." I said, peering at the puffy red fruits.

Sure enough, when I got home and looked the plant up, it materialized into a kousa dogwood. The fruits are reputed to taste like strawberries or pawpaws, but are a bit tough to eat. You don't consume the skin or the seeds, just squeeze/suck out the soft flesh.

Of course, I didn't take a fruit home with me, so now I'll have to toss this back to the Bristol contingent for a flavor report. If you're brave enough to give one a try...what did you think?

Posted Sun Aug 20 07:06:39 2017 Tags:
Anna with sweet peppers.
Today was our first day of the year for sweet peppers.
Posted Sun Aug 20 14:44:19 2017 Tags:
Silver maple leaf

I've been avidly reading all of the eclipse-related blog posts hither and yon. In addition to being amazed by people who have seen thirty or more total solar eclipses, I've picked up some interesting tips that go beyond the obvious safety rigamarole. Here are the top two for your entertainment....

Two and a half minutes of totality isn't very long. So some of the smartest eclipse-watchers tell you to set your camera down and not even try to take a shot. I suspect I'll snap one photo to share with our readers, not worrying about its quality, then settle in to watch the show.

Speaking of the show, did you know that some pros wear a patch for fifteen to twenty minutes before totality over one eye? That way, they can watch the partial eclipse unfolding...then open their night-sensitive eye as the Bailey beads fade and enjoy a much more heightened viewing experience of the total eclipse.

How about you? What's your game plan?

(And, as an aside to family readers who check this space assiduously to make sure we haven't been eaten by bears --- it's a long drive, so I doubt Mark will post tonight. Don't worry! The bears will go hungry tonight.)

Posted Mon Aug 21 06:44:56 2017 Tags:
Solar eclipse
All I can really say is "Wow." That two minutes of darkness was well worth the drive!
Posted Tue Aug 22 11:09:37 2017 Tags:
Mark in a yellow tunnel

After baking in the sun for a bit over an hour watching the eclipse, we moved onto the second phase of our adventure --- Lost Sea Caverns. In retrospect, planning to hit a cave in the zone of totality a few hours after the event wasn't such a great move since it meant lots of waiting in line. But I'm still glad we went.

Cave cracks

The highlight of Lost Sea Caverns is a four-acre underground lake at the end of the tour. But the rest of the cave is also huge and beautiful.

Cave flowers

My main point of comparison is Bristol Caverns, and I'd have to say Lost Sea lacks a lot of the intricate formations found there while making up for that lack with a host of intriguing features all its own. For example --- rare cave flowers that resemble sea urchins stuck to the ceiling...

Confederate signatures

...and signatures from Confederate soldiers.

Lost Sea boat ride

I'd have to say the boat ride was my favorite part though.

Lost Sea caverns

As usual when on a guided cave tour, I wished there was an option to travel in silence and spend more time soaking up the wonderousness of the surroundings. Still, we got lucky with an awesome, geology-trained tour-guide (ask for Thomas) and came home with lots of intriguing tidbits to ponder.

All around, an inspiring end to a day begun by staring at the sun. We definitely made this east Tennessee vacation count!

Posted Wed Aug 23 07:23:20 2017 Tags:
2017 Eclipse montage

Our 2017 Eclipse viewing spot was perfect.

The traffic was heavy but manageable.

It was Amazing!

We're already making plans for 2024.

Posted Wed Aug 23 14:57:20 2017 Tags:
Kale cat

We haven't written much about our upcoming move for a while because the adventure has mostly consisted of a mass of unphotogenic paperwork. Still, here's a glimpse behind the scenes in case anyone else is taking notes in preparation for their own land-buying episode.

First of all, we broke up with our original bank. Despite my post on the topic, choosing a local bank doesn't seem to be the be-all and end-all of finding a good mortgage for a plot of land. The bank we chose was on board, but when the loan-estimate paperwork came in they'd more than doubled the proposed interest rate. Too bad we'd already paid for an appraisal --- that's $374 we'll never see agin.

On the plus side, a little sleuthing turned up the fact that you can join the Ohio University  Credit Union by simply making a donation to the library (which means I'll come home with a university library card in addition to a mortgage --- score!). Working with the credit union has been like night and day compared to the other bank. The credit union didn't balk at funding a plot of land with only electric and water on it, didn't bait and switch on interest rates, and each step of the way has been ultra fast. I highly recommend them.

That said, the funder swap has set us back a week or two. So I guess I'll have to let our earliest potential move-in date slide by and instead start crossing my fingers for mid to late September. Here's hoping my kale seedlings (and impatient personality) can handle the delay.

Posted Thu Aug 24 07:12:50 2017 Tags:
Sorghum growing tall.

We grew a patch of sorghum for the goats but they're gone now.

It's not enough to press into a molasses.

What could it be used for?

Posted Thu Aug 24 15:05:07 2017 Tags:
Phone line repair

Troubleshooting month-long phone and internet issues has been a slow process, but we finally nailed the issue. After replacing our router, our phone, and the line out to the box, we proved to the techs that the issue was outside our control. Sure enough, they tracked down a partially severed line over a mile away. Finally, we should be back on track!

Posted Fri Aug 25 07:28:36 2017 Tags:
Okra flower.
Spineless Okra flowers in the sun.
Posted Fri Aug 25 15:13:57 2017 Tags:
Plant hormones

I don't usually post raw links, but this one is an interesting read. Basically, the scientists in question concluded that the hormones in the plants we eat can directly affect both our bodies and our gut microbes.

For example allowing your plants to be exposed to drought conditions prompts those veggies to produce abscisic acid. This chemical has been linked to inflammatory bowel disease and other problems...but at the same time the chemical can help alleviate diabetes. So I guess the upshot is --- consider your own ailments when deciding whether or not to water those brussels sprouts....

Posted Sat Aug 26 07:32:01 2017 Tags:
Eclipse crescent moon shapes from tree.
Solar Eclipse pin hole projection through the leaves of a tree.
Posted Sat Aug 26 14:30:41 2017 Tags:
Anna I can eat!
Bumblebee on goldenrod

After five months running to the outhouse at the drop of a hat then nine additional months on a severely restricted diet...I can eat! I'm a bit giddy with the flavors. Fruit between meals! Dishes seasoned with onions and garlic! Ice cream! It's like walking out of black and white and into color.

So what fixed me? I hesitated to make this post and I'm still going to keep it short. But since so many people deal with irritable bowel syndrome, I thought it was worth pointing out a potential light at the end of the tunnel...even if the light didn't come from the direction I'd thought it would.

Red sassafras leaves

I'll start with the slow-but-relatively-sure approach that did appear to be making a difference over the first year --- lots of rice to rest my gut, a low FODMAP diet to prevent additional irritation, increasing my morning walk to two miles per day, cognitive-behavioral therapy plus major life changes to lower my stress and anxiety levels, and the biggie...time. This combination of treatments really might have healed me eventually even if I hadn't accidentally pulled out the big guns.

But that's not what let me start eating again. Progesterone was.

Tickseed sunflowers

Earlier this summer, Mark talked me into visiting a holistic doctor who ran a battery of tests and concluded that, despite my age, my progesterone levels were at perimenopausal levels. Warily, I agreed to a daily hormone pill...and within a couple of weeks I was getting an extra hour of sleep per night while also feeling relief from tricky women's troubles that had crept into my life over the last few years. Two months in, I began testing the foods that used to mess me up and finding no ill effects. Could my grumpy gut really be as simple as a hormonal imbalance?

I'm a bit leery of staying on progesterone forever, although I have commited to the crutch until our move is complete. In the meantime, I figure I might as well add yet another stress-relieving gun into my arsenal. Time to learn to meditate!

Posted Sun Aug 27 07:07:39 2017 Tags:
Mark and Anna sitting in the Kubota X900.

Will the WaldenEffect blog continue when we move North?

Thanks for asking and thank you for reading and telling a friend.

Yes. We plan to blog about starting from zero and building our new homestead when we move to Athens Ohio within the next month.

In the meantime we will cut back to one post per day until we move and get settled and have something more substantial to share.

Posted Sun Aug 27 14:27:33 2017 Tags:

Step one for selling was to decide whether or not to go with a realtor. After some deep thought, Mark and I opted to the conventional route on our very unconventional piece of property. We did, however, hunt through the agents on Zillow until we found one who looked willing to get his feet muddy.

Enter Chris Ward from Bennett and Edwards Realty. Chris was a pro when he came over to check out the place Saturday, and we look forward to sharing his listing with you soon. Stay tuned!

Posted Mon Aug 28 06:59:22 2017 Tags:
Drawing by Anna.
Would you consider selling the blog with the farm?

Yes. For the right price we would sell the blog and domain name that makes up the WaldenEffect brand.

Our main objective for this blog has always been to function as a journal to record and share our homesteading adventure. We've dabbled a bit in monetizing it with Google ads on the side and the occasional Amazon link when it involved products we used but never really tried to turn it into a full blown money maker.

Stay tuned for more on this after I do some more research.

We would be very interested in hearing what long time readers think of this idea?

Posted Tue Aug 29 10:27:16 2017 Tags:
Blighted kiwi vines

For a decade, our hardy kiwi vines have been disease free. But as soon as they set fruit this year, leaves started to turn brown on the bearing plant. The disease looks strikingly like fire blight, so that's my working hypothesis even though the internet doesn't report that particular bacterial disease affects the plant species.

Hardy kiwi fruits

With leaves no longer pumping sugars into the fruits, we decided to bring some inside as a test harvest. The seeds are black, which suggests the fruits are mature enough to ripen off the vine. I'll keep you posted once we finally get to taste this fruit that's been ten years in coming!

Posted Wed Aug 30 07:21:45 2017 Tags:
Anna with 2017 butternut squash harvest.

Even after a Summer of neglect the butternut squash harvest was still decent.

Posted Thu Aug 31 07:24:44 2017 Tags:

One very unique homestead, $1,500 per acre, the opportunity of a lifetime