The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

archives for 11/2016

Anna Dirt
Dirt: Back to the land in poetry

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.

Now's your chance to hear about their journey straight from the horse's mouth. My father's newest poetry collection spans those eleven years and includes gems like Food Rules (showing how strangely obsessive I was at 5 years old), along with many farming verses that are both beautiful and insightful.

Since I know the word "poetry" probably made many of you hyperventilate in a corner as soon as you read it, I thought I'd sweeten the pot this time around. Dirt is free on Amazon today and tomorrow. I hope you'll try a copy and then leave a review if you like what you read. My father would really appreciate it!

Posted Tue Nov 1 06:58:50 2016 Tags:
Protected zinnias

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.

Homestead colors

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.

This is such a golden season --- warm enough to go outside in t-shirts in the afternoon but cold enough to require warm blankets at night. There's something to love about every season, but I think fall is my very favorite time of the year.

Posted Wed Nov 2 06:39:36 2016 Tags:
Love seat Kubota hauling.

Went out looking for a loveseat today and ended up with this 100 dollar bargain.

Posted Wed Nov 2 16:14:36 2016 Tags:
Carrot tops

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.

I could have let the crop go another month or so, actually, until hard freezes are threatening. But I'm running out of the easy-to-harvest, gargantuan carrots in the front garden (right outside the kitchen door), so I figured I might as well dig up the mule garden's more moderately sized haul.

Harvesting carrots

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.

Sorting carrots

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!

Posted Thu Nov 3 06:37:07 2016 Tags:
mark Gravity
Swinging in the park.
We had a fun visit to the big city park today.
Posted Thu Nov 3 16:51:02 2016 Tags:
Low FODMAP lunch

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.

The interesting part is that my symptoms occurred eight hours after imbibing. Which means all of my previous correlation analyses (I ate x and then ran to the bathroom immediately) are invalid.

Time to rest the gut again, then move on to test two. Shall I hit honey (fructose) or garlic (fructans) next?

Posted Fri Nov 4 06:35:06 2016 Tags:
mark Frisbee
Frisbee in the park.
Another picture from our fun day in the park yesterday.
Posted Fri Nov 4 17:04:02 2016 Tags:
Sorting books

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.

Homestead office

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?

Posted Sat Nov 5 06:31:54 2016 Tags:
Tractor Supply bucket.

I think I like the Tractor Supply buckets a little over the Lowes equal size bucket.

Posted Sat Nov 5 16:18:01 2016 Tags:
Old wallpaper

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.

Stripping wallpaperBut before I could start thinking about colors, I had to strip off the old wallpaper. My previous experience with wallpaper removal involved a steamer, some kind of chemical, and a seemingly endless amount of scraping. I wasn't particularly anxious to repeat the process.

To my surprise, when I tested a bit of my office wall Saturday morning, I found the paper easy to remove with only the supplies I had on hand. Rip back the plasticy outer layer, dampen the plain paper below with a wet rag, then scrape. Very satisfying! Looks like step one of the accent wall is well within my reach.

Posted Sun Nov 6 06:21:25 2016 Tags:
Milking stand.

What would I do different on the milking stand we built two years ago?

Make the neck brace out of two pieces of curved solid plywood.

The way I built the neck brace in pieces made for weak points an aggressive goat could eventually break apart after days of banging during milking time.

Posted Sun Nov 6 14:27:07 2016 Tags:
Toe tether

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.

Maverick goat

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!

Goat tongue

You know you've been had when your goats stick out their tongues at you.

Posted Mon Nov 7 07:26:22 2016 Tags:
Refrigerator root cellar carrot storage.

We harvested a good size basket of carrots today.

Yes...we still use the refrigerator root cellar to store most of the carrots.

Posted Mon Nov 7 15:28:44 2016 Tags:
FODMAP testing

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.

If that sounds like you and you turned regular after two to eight weeks on a low FODMAP diet, it's time to start testing which category or categories of FODMAP are bothering you. The idea is to pick foods that have only one type of FODMAP in them, then to test each food at a low, medium, and high level over the course of three days. If you experience symptoms, you note that category down as a no-go (for now), then rest your gut for at least three days until it's back in shape before testing the next round of food.

Here's the information that's harder to find --- which foods are appropriate test subjects. After extensive internet searching, I came up with:

Test food
Amounts (day 1, 2, and 3)
1 teaspoon, 1 tablespoon, 2 tablespoons
Polyols (sorbitol)
1/4 avocado, 1/2 avocado, 1 avocado
Sweet potato
Polyols (mannitol)
3 ounces, 5 ounces, 7 ounces
12 almonds, 16 almonds, 20 almonds
Fructans (vegetables)
1/4 clove, 1/2 clove, 1 clove
Bread or pasta (made with wheat)
Fructans (grains)
1 slice of bread, 2 slices of bread, 3 slices of bread; or 1/2 cup pasta, 3/4 cup pasta, 1 cup pasta
1/4 cup, 1/2 cup, 1 cup

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!

Posted Tue Nov 8 07:35:12 2016 Tags:
Goat mineral feeders

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 her 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.

Posted Wed Nov 9 07:13:01 2016 Tags:
Brussels sprouts.

Brussels sprouts are so loaded with yummy goodness they're leaning over.

Posted Wed Nov 9 14:41:24 2016 Tags:
Sanding wood paneling

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.

Texturing a 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.

Simulating a stucco texture

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.

Posted Thu Nov 10 06:21:40 2016 Tags:
Willow tree.

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.

Posted Thu Nov 10 16:29:03 2016 Tags:
Wall-painting supplies

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.

Painting an accent wall

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!

Posted Fri Nov 11 06:59:13 2016 Tags:
Close up of broccoli.

Broccoli continues to produce for us and is still one of my favorite garden items.

Posted Fri Nov 11 13:54:57 2016 Tags:
Mixing paint

Accent wallSo 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.

Those caveats aside, I think my accent wall turned out really well...even if it doesn't look much like stucco. I really like the texture (wouldn't change a thing there!) and my two-tone bottom half of the wall looks really good up close.

Two-tone 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.

Preparing to dry brush

Stucco paint patternLuckily, 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 to accent.

The result was a very rocklike texture that definitely made the wall work. Tack the trim back in place and I could almost forget my office is located inside a trailer. Now, which wall should I tackle next?

Posted Sat Nov 12 07:38:22 2016 Tags:
mark Super Moon
Super Moon Monday.
The biggest Super Moon since 1948 will be visible Monday and Sunday.
Posted Sat Nov 12 18:18:59 2016 Tags:
Sugar Hill

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.

Posted Sun Nov 13 07:21:32 2016 Tags:
Dormant fig

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.
Posted Sun Nov 13 12:36:26 2016 Tags:
Goat eating oats

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.

Goat hair loss on neckI'm not 100% certain what's going on, but the internet suggests this may be a normal reaction by some does to the hormone changes associated with drying off. Artemesia has been slowly backing off on letting her daughter nurse for a while and now she's pretty close to dry.

It's also possible the issue could be a mineral deficiency or a parasite infection, though. I figure the latter's pretty unlikely since Artemesia hasn't been scratching the bare spots and I've seen no sign of critters. To rule out the former cause, I'm getting some fresh minerals to go with her kelp just in case our doe is unwilling to eat out of Aurora's former sandbox.

Have any of you had a problem with balding does? What, if anything, did you do to fix the problem?

Posted Mon Nov 14 06:54:09 2016 Tags:
Hazel nut bushes dropping their leaves.

We've got four Hazel Nut bushes.

Just as they're dropping the last leaves Anna decided it was okay for Artemesia to nibble on a few.

Posted Mon Nov 14 14:50:57 2016 Tags:
Hay porcupine

I'm trying a different method of winter-protecting our largest fig tree this year. I call it the hay porcupine.

Cutting back fig branches

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?

Hay pyramid

After snipping back limbs that spread past the protection of the hay, I put one final bale on top.

Winter protecting a fig tree

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.

Posted Tue Nov 15 07:15:25 2016 Tags:
Gathering garden hoses

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.

Still, the few things still growing in the garden --- leafy greens, lettuce, broccoli, brussels sprouts --- seem to be doing okay despite the drought. And with nights hitting the low 20s, I was afraid the hoses were going to freeze and split. So I gathered them up and put them away. From now until spring, the garden will have to depend on rain.

Posted Wed Nov 16 06:54:39 2016 Tags:
Goat date 2016.

There was more dancing compared to last year.

We decided to go with Monte Cristo again....he's a sure thing.

How much does a high quality goat date cost these days?

We paid 75 dollars and felt like we got our money's worth.

Posted Wed Nov 16 16:04:56 2016 Tags:
Goat date

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.

"I'm going out of town first thing tomorrow morning," Monte's mom replied.

"Today it is, then."

Goat breeding

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.

Not that we can do anything about it, but we're hoping for two boys this time around. Artie has such prime genetics that it would feel wasteful to eat girl kids, so boys would take that difficult decision out of our hands. Either way, you should mark your calendars for April 10 for the first round of cute goat pics!

Posted Thu Nov 17 07:16:14 2016 Tags:
National Black Cat day.

National Black Cat day is today.

I guess Huckleberry will be expecting an extra cat treat this evening.

Posted Thu Nov 17 16:26:25 2016 Tags:
Winter lettuce

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.

Posted Fri Nov 18 07:41:23 2016 Tags:
Battery powered chainsaw.

The Oregon battery powered chainsaw continues to impress us.

We had to take out this Walnut stump to make the new quick hoop fit.

Posted Fri Nov 18 15:42:51 2016 Tags:

Bloodling teaserThose 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.

To be honest, fiction has always been my greatest passion. Non-fiction serves a purpose --- I love to learn what has succeeded or failed for others and to pass on the favor by sharing my own experiences. But fiction is the treat I look forward to at the end of a long, hard day. In fact, I read about thirty novels for every non-fiction book I open, with genres running the gamut from fantasy to women's fiction --- basically, I read everything except horror and poetry.

When I was in high school, I was astonished to find Isaac Asimov in the non-fiction section with a whole shelf of books to his name. I'd enjoyed his fiction (particularly the Norby series he wrote with his wife) and was astonished to see that he had a line of non-fiction as well.

Shiftless teaserBut when the time came to publish my own speculative fiction, I was too chicken to put it under my own name. So I invented Aimee Easterling, who has since gone on to become a USA Today bestselling author. (Yes, I do think about my fiction persona in the third person. In case you're curious, her last name is my husband's maternal grandfather's last name --- my way of (kinda) taking Mark's surname in the end.)

So if you've ever wondered why I haven't written quite as much non-fiction in the last couple of years --- that's why. Aimee's been busy taking over my fingers and typing out her tall tales instead.

Alpha Underground series

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.

And even if you are sublimely uninterested in fantasy, I thought you might like to see yet another way that homesteading has helped us fulfill our dreams. By keeping our expenses low and growing much of what we eat, Mark and I are able to pursue our passions to the hilt. Who knows what will come next?

Posted Sat Nov 19 07:26:14 2016 Tags:
A very long quick hoop.

Our longest quick hoop ever stretches almost the entire distance of the garden.

Posted Sat Nov 19 12:45:21 2016 Tags:
November rain

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.

Dry earth

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 ground.

Of course, I have to admit that our farm tends toward soggy and I'm actually a little glad for the ease that dryness brings. But I'll be hoping for rain to quench the flames elsewhere and to water gardens for those of you whose soil is now bone dry. Here's hoping the drought is a mere memory by the time spring gardens hit the ground in 2017.

Posted Sun Nov 20 07:13:44 2016 Tags:
Film student project recreation of a scene from the Breakfast club.

My classmate from film class posted one of our projects on his Youtube channel.

One thing we learned was that his video camera was not as compatible with my boom microphone which results in the audio being a little tinny.

The assignment was to recreate a scene from a famous movie and our group settled on the John Hughes classic The Breakfast Club.

Posted Sun Nov 20 15:19:17 2016 Tags:
Anna Zoom out
Painting walls
"Please show the whole finished wall - if you can - it looks nice in snippets but would look even better as a whole finished project?!"
--- Jayne

I was going to wait to take after photos until the room was more in order, but didn't want to leave you hanging too long! So here's the completed accent wall, with lots of clutter in front of it since I had to move furniture to access wall two.

The wall on the left side of the photo is this week's project. It's on the north side of the trailer and is very irregular --- we boarded up absent windows, and the wall beneath what was once a hole was pretty water-damaged when we got the trailer. Rather than replacing large swaths of wall, I'm hoping some roughing up with more texturing will do the trick. Stay tuned for more photos as the project progresses.

Posted Mon Nov 21 07:14:49 2016 Tags:
Goats on oats.

Maybe a lush patch of oats becomes crispy to goats in the cold weather?

Posted Mon Nov 21 16:01:56 2016 Tags:
Mixing paint

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.)

Painting a wall

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.

It's amazing what a difference changing over from dark wood paneling to pale blue makes in the room. I suspect that once I get over having my office space disrupted, this will be another of those projects that I kick myself for not embarking on years ago.

Posted Tue Nov 22 07:34:44 2016 Tags:
Waterline freeze protection

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.

But the weather abruptly shifted at the beginning of this week. A low of 16 means frozen ground, a skim of ice on pools in the creek...and waking up to a waterline frozen where it enters the house.

In large part, I think the problem is that I didn't ever get around to unhooking the outside hose and closing that access hatch. But Mark went ahead and added more insulation to our inlet anyway. Luckily, our freezes don't tend to burst the line, they just mean we have to wait until the sun hits before we enjoy running water once again. A small price to pay for our isolation out here far from any city water system.

Posted Wed Nov 23 07:33:06 2016 Tags:
mark Aurora
Goats in the oats.

It's a struggle to get a cute image of Aurora these days.

Maybe she's going through her sullen teenager phase.

She's been more vocal since her Mom came back last week smelling like a buck.

Posted Wed Nov 23 15:19:27 2016 Tags:

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 else.

Fast forward ahead to this year. I'm not sure whether our current drought has impacted clouds or whether I've just been spending more time peering at the sky. Either way, I've been catching several different types, like the altocumulus clouds above...

Cirrus clouds

...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.)

The tufty cloudlets in this post are higher and presumably drier than the cumulus clouds I'm more used to. So maybe they are associated with the drought after all?

Posted Thu Nov 24 07:22:51 2016 Tags:
Goat crossing sign being installed.

Turns out Thanksgiving was the perfect day to find a good spot for Anna's new sign.

Posted Thu Nov 24 14:50:57 2016 Tags:
Big sweet potato

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!"

"How much do you think it weighs?" I asked.

Mark guessed 2.25 pounds, Mom guessed 2.5 pounds, and I guessed 3 pounds.

We were all wrong. The baby pig weighed in at 3 pounds and 4 ounces, enough to serve as a side for eight people instead of just three.

Posted Fri Nov 25 07:14:57 2016 Tags:
Black Friday shopping WaldenEffect style.

We did some Black Friday shopping today in the form of an 80 straw bale delivery.

Big thanks to Walter and Dawson for their time and a nice Punkin update.

Posted Fri Nov 25 16:10:57 2016 Tags:
Mountain of straw

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).

I eventually had to relinquish control of the project to the tall guy with upper body strength, though. There's a limit to how many bales I can throw over my head and Mark's extra eight inches made a big difference putting away those last dozen bales.

Posted Sat Nov 26 07:26:59 2016 Tags:
Pumpkin new kind.

Walter gave us a Jarrahdale pumpkin as a bonus with the straw.

It has a slate green color with a hard skin and originates in Australia.

We should make a point to save some seeds and see how they grow here.

Posted Sat Nov 26 14:55:53 2016 Tags:
Goats eating broccoli

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 nose.

That sweet spot for broccoli appears to be after a couple of nights in the teens. The plants are droopy and no longer prime for our own consumption, but the girls still think they taste ten times better than oats and honeysuckle.

I think I get the same amount of enjoyment out of watching our does dine as I get by eating vegetables myself.

Posted Sun Nov 27 07:21:39 2016 Tags:
More straw bales.

What was the straw bale load limit of the Kubota X900?

Making the load three layers high maxed us out at 15 straw bales.

Posted Sun Nov 27 15:46:01 2016 Tags:

What do these items have in common?

They're all going to be used in Mark's final film project of the semester, tentatively titled Lemons for Christmas.

It's a big, exciting collaboration for the two of us. I wrote the script, Mark hired actors and a director of photography, then I pulled together props and pre-production checklists.

Now for filming, where Mark will be the big guy on set! Stay tuned for more pictures, then, eventually for a video as the project comes together.

Posted Mon Nov 28 06:58:34 2016 Tags:
Anna On set

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 needs.

Film set

Mike 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.

A huge thank you to the entire team, who turned a student project into an event! Six hours of filming should turn into six minutes of video...we hope.

Posted Tue Nov 29 05:26:27 2016 Tags:
Goat eating oats

Goat mineralsOh the yelling and the moaning! Taking 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.

At first, I assumed the change in behavior was due to the buck scent, which hung on Artemesia's fur for several days after the event. But then, Saturday, I noticed Mama Goat's udder looked very different. I'd thought she was easing Aurora off the milk bar over the last couple of months, but her teats had remained full and taut with liquid. Now, though, they're beginning to shrivel up and one half of her udder is apparently quite dry.

Goat drying off

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.

If I'm right, the other half of Artemesia's udder should go dry in short order and we shouldn't see any sign of heat during the first full week of December. Fingers crossed the goat drama of the winter is behind us and I can now return to my favorite part of caprine management --- spoiling our girls.

Posted Wed Nov 30 07:34:13 2016 Tags:
Film lighting.

A behind the scenes look at one of our indoor scenes from Monday.

Posted Wed Nov 30 17:15:45 2016 Tags:

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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