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Oct 2016

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The Power of NowI don't usually review non-homesteading-related books here. But Mark's mantra on the farm is "work smart not hard." And the most powerful tool our species possesses is our a book about using your mind as a tool must be homesteading-related, right?

In the interest of full disclosure, I'm only a quarter of the way into The Power of Now. But there's so much meat that I've been reading it slowly, and I wanted to share while the first part is still fresh on my mind.

The author's thesis (at least in the first quarter) is that our conscious mind is a valuable tool that we should put down and rest when it's not in use. How do you know if you're not using your mind properly? If you're pondering the past or the future rather than focusing on the present, your mind is probably steering you rather than vice versa.

Previously when I've tried meditating, I've found the experience harrowing and frustrating. But using Eckhart Tolle's technique of simply watching my mind and asking myself whether every fleeting thought is past, future, or present, I've finally made a bit of progress in understanding what meditation is all about. And I've seen more mushrooms than usual during the meditation phase of my daily walk too --- proof that resting my mind pays off! If you give it a try, I'll be curious to hear what you think.

Posted Mon Oct 15 06:00:44 2018 Tags:
Rocky Mountain Sleet.

The easy way to photograph someone in a freezing sleet storm is to stay in the car and roll the window down if the wind is not blowing toward you.

Posted Sun Oct 14 06:00:58 2018 Tags:
Install cat door

Okay, so digging wasn't really the first step in creating a wood-stove addition.

With input from Mark's mom (and due to the relative cheapness of large, glass patio doors when compared to double-glazed windows), we decided to make the new room cover the area where our problematic, blows-open-if-you-don't-lock-it, leaky door currently is.

Which means the real step one was moving the cat flap to the other door.

Remove railing

Phase two was taking down the landing and steps we installed just shy of a year ago.

Now we're ready to dig!

Posted Sat Oct 13 06:00:47 2018 Tags:
Using treadmill to load firewood into basement.

If you are loading firewood into a basement maybe a treadmill can make it easier.

Image credit goes to ViralHog.

Posted Fri Oct 12 06:00:45 2018 Tags:
Slab on grade

As you can tell from Mark's post, we've decided to put the floor of our wood-stove alcove at ground level so we can use concrete. This is a new building endeavor for us since lugging concrete back to our old core homestead just wasn't happening! So I spent a while researching to figure out the nuts and bolts.

Words are so important in projects like this, and here are the relevant ones for this project --- we're building a frost-protected shallow foundation (a subset of slab on grade aka monolithic slab). Basically, by insulating the outside perimeter, this type of concrete foundation dramatically reduces the depth and complexity of the required footer.

Frost-protected shallow foundationIn our case, we only need to go down 12 inches and to use insulation with an R value of 4.5 around the perimeter (which equates to 1 inch of Type IV expanded polystyrene). If you live further north, you might need to add horizontal insulation sunk into the ground outside the perimeter of the foundation as well. This document walks you through all of the calculations.

There's lots more to plot out. But this should carry us through the digging stage!

Posted Thu Oct 11 06:00:47 2018 Tags:
Digging foundation for new room addition.

Step 1 of our new project was to remove enough dirt for an 8 inch layer of gravel and concrete.

Posted Wed Oct 10 06:01:07 2018 Tags:
Blanching peppers

I know I said I wasn't going to preserve any food this year. But a little bit of this and that socked away in the freezer while making dinner doesn't count. Right?

Late summer harvest

Freezer tally --- three quarts of eggplant, one quart of red peppers, one quart of tomato sauce. There will likely be some broccoli joining those folks shortly since the addition of manure means the garden is finally beginning to produce.

Posted Tue Oct 9 06:00:59 2018 Tags:
The Shinning at The Stanley which was the Overlook.
We got a chance to see where Stephen King got inspired to write the Shining.
Posted Mon Oct 8 06:00:48 2018 Tags:
Estes Park

I've been feeling the travel bug lately, but Mark and I hadn't been on a plane for over six years. So rather than making all kinds of pie-in-the-sky dreams without knowing how we'd handle flying, we looked for the cheapest tickets to a fun place and ended up taking a last-minute adventure to Denver to explore the natural wonder nearly in our backyard --- Rocky Mountain National Park.

Young male elk

I took more than 300 pictures over the course of three days, mostly of charismatic megafauna like elk and fish. But I've made a real effort to whittle it down for you so this post won't be excessively long. That said, it still won't hurt my feelings if you skip it --- there's nothing homesteading-related below.

Mountain rainbow

So what did tweak my fancy? I spotted at least three rainbows, including this one which appeared in the western sky just as the sun rose over the mountains in the east. Every moment, the rainbow became brighter as the sun rose higher until the band of colors had formed a complete half circle from montain peak to mountain peak.

Cloud mountain

But it was driving up higher beyond our home base at Estes Park that took my breath away, both figuratively and literally. Having been raised in the Appalachian Mountains, I thought I knew what mountains were. I had no idea. Just stopping at a roadside overlook gave me vertigo, the slopes descending so rapidly that land was soon lost in the clouds.

Photographing mountains

And then there was the alpine tundra at the top. As soon as Mark and I got out of the car at 12,000 feet, we knew our two fleeces, one toboggan, single pair of gloves, and lone long johns were only going to be enough for one person to brave the third of a mile of course I ripped Mark's warm clothes off his back and made a run for it.

Alpine tundra

By the time I was halfway up, sleet was punishing me for my disloyalty, the wind blowing ice pellets so hard they stung against my face. The air is so thin at that elevation that walking up a seemingly endless series of steps made it hard to breathe, and the people I ascended with soon scurried back down to seek cover in the visitor's center (where I'd left Mark). I, instead, huddled behind a small rock outcrop in an attempt to survive.

Rocky mountain peak

In case you can't tell, that moment of solitude within a very busy and very cold park was my very favorite part of the trip. (And, yes, Mark forgave me for leaving him behind.)

Shortgrass prairie

Then we returned to Denver, where we spent a short time exploring the Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge, where city and shortgrass prairie intermingle with wild abandon. There was a dust storm and bison and mule deer and prairie dogs...and my best photo was of a fire hydrant. I think I was getting a bit tired by that point.

Sunrise over the mountains

So I'll leave you with one last shot of Estes Park, taken at sunrise just before I turned around to look the other way and noticed the rainbow behind my back. I think there's a lesson there. What do you think?

Posted Sun Oct 7 06:00:33 2018 Tags:
Carpenter bee prevention.

A clever experimental device that might help to decrease carpenter bee damage?

Posted Sat Oct 6 06:00:35 2018 Tags:

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