Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Old pictures

Quick, everybody hide, she has a camera!!!!!


Playing in the snow is hard work!!!!
Ok Mouse, look deep into my eyes, you want to give me the Bologna sandwich!!!

I ran across these on my old Webshots account

Sunday

I worked on my bent tree chicken coup a little more. I finally got that fourth tree bent over, by myself. I also pulled one of the long thin trees up from the back of the property and got it into place across the top. Now its just a matter of getting enough long thin trees tied onto the sides to make a decent frame.


I didn't move any dirt. The clay is really heavy when its wet and sticks to the shovel and pick ax and everything else. I'll make up for what didn't do today on Tuesday.


At one point I was looking at the flowerbed where I have Hollyhocks planted and noticed some new baby shoots popping up. I didn't plant these. I also cleared some leaves away from beneath a Rose of Sharon and noticed the patch of Purslane I had growing under there seems to have doubled in size beneath the leaves this winter. I pulled up several chunk of it and grabbed a hoe and some newspaper and walked down to Creepy trail. I planted it near the entrance by a fallen log.. I also sprinkled a handful of hollyhock seeds around the base of a large dead tree. Dark and light pink ones and black ones.


Tuesday


Up early, had to drive Coyote to school. Checked seed jars. The onions are doing good. I have two lousy lettuce seeds sprouting. I started a few seeds in a damp paper towel and a bag just to check and see how good they are. 4 of the melon sprouts have leaves so they went into a pot and are sitting in a south facing window. In the evening they will go under a florescent light. There are a few signs of life in the bell pepper jar and nothing in any of the tomato jars. I don’t think the white wonder seeds are any good, but I will keep them on the heat source for a little while longer. I think I have a sprout in the Italian Marzano jar and maybe one in the yellow pear tomato jar.


Bear made 100 dollars yesterday. We are out of supplies so after making this entry this morning I will be off to buy some more. He is not really happy with the mix he has been using He says its weak and thinks our supplier might be cheating us on certain ingredients. I’ve been looking online for a chemical company that will mix it in 55 gallon drums at a reasonable price.


He checked his grades online last night at Mikes house. He took 3 tests last week and did well on all of them. He didn't get 100's, his scores were like this. 2 out of 3 correct, 7 out of 8 correct, stuff like that and he still did better than the majority of the class. There is one he thought he did terrible on and told me he thinks the teacher gave him a good score because she likes him.
A walk in the woods revealed that the beginning of my frame for the chicken coup is still standing. I am going to try and get bear out there with a chain saw this evening and cut down the trees that are standing in the way and maybe cut a few more for me to add to the frame.
I am seriously unmotivated this morning.


Sunday, January 29, 2006

A weeks worth of posts

Another sign of a possible early spring. This lenten Rose Helleborus is nearly in bloom.

Bear and his snuggel buddy

Tuesday

I made 15 banana nut bread muffins, 40 rolls, and 8 dozen peanut butter cookies. I also managed to go to the library, move a little dirt (very little, it was wet and very heavy, do laundry and ironing, and get the shelves in the laundry room I needed cleaned off. I've noticed lately when the end of my day off comes I am completely exhausted. I think for the next few days I need to make it a point do less on my days off.

The dog got shot also, by a kid with a pellet gun. According to the kids dad our dog was taking a dump in there yard and thats why he was shot. Shesh, do they honestly think there is a spot on this planet that hasn't been pooped on by some animal at some point in time. Then it got me to wondering how he would feel I took a shot at him for letting his car sit outside belching poisonousus gases into the air when he lets it sit and warm up for 15 minutes because he is to damn lazy to scrape frost off the windshield I may have to settle with a rotten egg smashed in his mailbox ;)

Thursday
This was a pretty simple day. Bear cleaned Wednesday night so there is no cleaning to be done today. I came home early with a headache from work and did nothing but fall asleep in front of the fire so thats a good thing. I washed and hung two loads of laundry and then took a bag of narcissus bulbs I found while cleaning off the shelves Tuesday and sorted through them. I was surprised to learn that all but one or two had survived. They've probably been stuffed in that plastic bag with no sawdust or anything like that for 9 months. I pulled out my big metal bowl from the cabinets and carried it out to the woods. I planted the narcissus bulbs along creepy trail and then gathered dirt from beneath some tall thin oak trees near the dig site. I did a little searching while I was there. Only 2 of the 3 English ivy plants I planted last year survived. I found no signs of the Shasta Daisies and Toadflax. But I did find one tiny surviving blue spruce sedum and some of the monkey grass I planted. I'm sure with a little digging I could find the blue ajuga I planted also.

Friday
After work I walked out into the woods with my metal bowl while it sprinkled rain and gathered more dirt. I cleaned more jars and started some seeds that I picked uthe wayheway home. I started my white wonder tomatoes, yellow pear tomatoes and tItalianalian tomatoes. I also started a package of mixed color bell peppers. There are signs of life in the onion jars. I bought a package of mixed melon seeds. I've never seen a mixed package of these before. I added some dew melon, cantalope seeds I harvested last year and added them to a damp paper towel sealed in a rinsed and re used plastic bag.

Friday
Bear went out to sell, Mouse is at my mothers and Coyote is at a friends house. I am alone. I walk in the woods with Commodore and the cIts. I ventured on to my absent neighbors property and check out what he has been doing. He's retired military and supposed to be building a retirementment home here. So far all he seems to have done is walk randomly through the woods with a chain saw cutting as he goes. One ofvictim is a 273 year old oak tree. I know its that old because I sat down and counted the growth rings.
I found an old deer stand in my wanderings and climbed to the top. Once I was up there I noticed how rotten the wood holding the thing up was and decided that was probably not such a good idea.

I returned home when the rain began to get heavier and made a big pot of loaded bpotatotatoe soup and made a 4 ounce lump of mozzarela. We drove into town when Bear returned and rented 3 movies. "Cave" which was ok, "Dark Water" which was disappointing, and "Flight Plan," which was awesome!!!!!

Sunday
Bear and Mouse went to church. Mouse have been given a scholarship to go to a summer camstraightenedtened up the house while they were gone. Coyote has been mysteriously absent all weekend. I've mentioned to bear several times I don't think its good for the kid to spend his entire weekend away from home.

Coyote returns home this afternoon and tells us he has been kicked off the bus "again". He says he just "forgot" to tell us until now. Yeah right, he didn't tell us because he knew he wouldn't be spending the weekend at his friends if he told us Friday. We started arguing about his behavior. The kid has a nasty temper, but its been really bad these past few weeks. Sometimes I swear his head is going to explode he gets so mad. There was a bag of garbage in the shed and he had left the door open so the dog had gotten in there and made a mess of it before Bear could haul it off. He was sentenced to cleaning that up and then grounded to his room with no TV, stereo, computer, or anything else requiring electricity. Then Bear comes home and learns what has happened and the fact his son waited until now to tell us, then we find Coyote doing homework he told us Friday he didn't have. Bear adds yard work to his grounding and he really blows up. He has a can of rootbeert in his hand, a full can, and squeezes it in his hands so hard it goes shooting out all over his desk and computer. Now he is in big trouble. The next few hours are spent arguing with him, trying to make him see the logic of what he has done and is still doing but now he is mad and its like talking to a wall. He is told to go out and pick up kindling in the woods and he suddenly has an ear ache and his stomach hurts. Bear starts suggesting summertime Boot camp. Its starting to look pretty good right about LOL, lol.

I don't think the incident on the bus is totally his fault. We have had issues with the bus driver since we moved here. But to be honest everything in the report sounds just like Coyote when he is mad at someone. Sigh, how do you deal with rage in an eleven year old.

22 of the melon seeds have sprouted and there are signs of life in the lettuce jar.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Its raining. Its pouring actually. Bear says it started some time last night. This is not a bad thing, except for the 4 loads of laundry I hung up after work yesterday that are still hanging out there. Most of it can be rung out in the washing machine and put into the dryer, but some of it I am sure is muddy and will have to re rewashed. My dryer takes forever to dry anything.

I don think its supposed to stop raining today. We need the rain. We usually have water in our creeks beginning in the fall sometime and there still is not any water in them. There probably is now though. My foundation is probably full to. I love rainy days, but when the rain stays away its easier for me to dig. I was tempted to try to dig in the rain but learned when I went to pull the laundry off the line it was kinda chilly, LOL.


That subdivision really pisses me off. There uphill from us which means the water in our streams will have to run through there ditches before it reaches us. Goddess only knows what they will do it it.

I am a little jealous of everyone with snow right and cold weather right now. Its been a very mild winter, even for the mid south. But its exactly what I was hoping for. Mild temperatures with at least 1 snow and enough of a hard freeze to keep the bugs under control.

Bear is brainfried after his first week of classes. He has been doing home work all weekend long. But he says the grades he has gotten so far are good.

When I saw the rain I wasn't sure what I was going to do all day. Then I walked into the kitchen. I didn't realize we made such a mess last night. I made 3 loaves of homemade French bread and homemade spaghetti and then we all piled into the kitchen and made "Imbolc" themed sugar cookies with powdered sugar frosting. I had some red food coloring in the cabinet and made the icing white and pink and used my heart shaped cookie cutters and my leaf shaped cookie colors.


Thursday, January 19, 2006

After watching me make 3 pony tail holders while the waffles were cooking Mouse decides its time to try. She made 3 or 4 lumpy chains and gave up. Well she isn't my blood and her mother was definitely not crafty. Maybe she will try again someday.


Well I got this months electric bill. Is everyone sitting down. 267 dollars. Its a good thing bear decided to go back to work for himself.

Now for my most recent blonde moment. My mother bought me a cell phone on her plan that she wants me to carry in my purse. So I have been. I have yet to sit down and read the instructions but I did fiddle with it and get this nice waterfall theme set up on it.

Well the day after Bear cleans out the pipes I am in the bathroom getting ready to leave, purse on my shoulder and I hear this sound that makes me think of bubbles in a metal pipe. I walked around the bathroom bent over trying to figure out where the sound was coming from, but it seemed to be coming from everywhere. It stopped and I left. A short while later I heard the sound in my car. I thought surely I am not going to hear the same sound on the radio that I just heard in my bathroom. I turned the radio down and the sound remained just as loud until it quit. I started worrying at this point. Was the sound in my head? Do I have a brain tumor or something? Well I heard it again last night at work. "Oh my god, there's that noise again, do you guys hear that." Well they did so its not just in my head. Then someone says, "It sounds kinda like water". OMG DUH!!!!!! Its my damn phone ringing!!!!! Heeeellooooooooo, earth to Lucy!!!!!!!! The ring tone is the sound of falling water on the waterfall theme.


I've been giving a lot more thought to my "bent pole" chicken coup and I have changed my mind about the plastic. It would be a lot easier just to cover the frame with plastic, but once again its something I would have to buy. I have decided to cover it with "wattle and daub". Do do this you fasten thin twigs or branches all over the frame and cover them with cob. Since I am using cob I can also add a few windows on the south facing side for passive solar heating in the winter. It will also have to have a roof to protect it from rain though. I am going to try thatch. I've always loved the look of a thatch roof.

well I slept late this morning. To late. I didn't get up until 10am and ofcourse I haven;t stopped since. Mouse is home from school today, she's sick. She isn't handling this topsy turvey weather very well. Monday's high was 40 degrees and we had snow flurries. Tuesday morning I scraped frost off of my windshield, and this morning I have the windows open so the warm breeze can flow through the house. It feels like a warm spring day.

Bear brought home 300 dollars in sales yesterday and along with it some milk and bread and 2 new packages of underwear for me :). I was so overdue on underwear. Every pair I had was stretched out of shape and being held together with safety pins.


Things to do today

Laundry (done)
clean kitchen (done)
Buy flour (done)
Buy clothespins (done)
make a big batch of cookies
upload this entry (done)
make dinner
move dirt at some point
crotched rope out of old pajamas.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

I don't think I am pregnant

I am late though. Two weeks. Its not the first time I have been late and I have been showing signs of starting for 3 weeks. Then I will think I have started and then it quits. Its like mother nature is saying (Just Kidding). Its not the first time I have done this, although it usually happens right after I give blood and I haven't given blood recently. But I think the real deal finally started this morning


Now for my motor oil episode this morning. Driving home last night I noticed my car sounded a little rough. The oil light wasn't on and the engine temp seemed fine so I went ahead and drove home. I asked Bear if he has changed or checked my oil recently and his response was "that's your job, its your car". In my family that is "always" the mans job, LOL. So this morning I checked it and sure enough it was low and it was "black". I found a half a quart of oil in the shed and then stood in front of my car trying to remember just exactly where I was supposed to pour the stuff. I suspected it was that little cap on top of the engine which said "engine oil". But the container said "motor oil" not "engine oil". I sat there wondering if there is any difference. I went in the house and called my dad who didn't pick up (dad is a mechanic) so I asked the lady at the front desk. I said "I know this is a stupid question but . . . ". Well I put that half a quart in there and bought 2 more quarts at the gas station. It runs fine now. Then I got a lecture from my dad when he got home about making sure my oil gets changed on a regular basis. "Just bring it out to the shop" he says. I just put a quart and a half in it, I am not going to change it now!!!.


I got everything done Sunday that I wanted to get done, except for a section of the chicken coup. Bear had orientation for school after work and had forgotten about it so Mouse helped me with it. There was 1 tree we couldn't bend over so we tied tree #3 to the trunk of another one and decided to wait until we could get bear out to help bend that one over. I should have a list of things to do today. Bear cleaned the house before I got home last night so other than laundry, firewood, and moving dirt there isn't much for me to do. Maybe I will make some peanut butter cookies later.

I also made 32 waffles Sunday night. For dinner we had waffles, boiled eggs, and corn on the cob, LOL.

Yesterday it was 60 degrees outside . . . This morning I was standing in my kitchen stirring my coffee and noticed these little while flakes falling paste the window. I thought maybe it was something falling off a tree that the wind was blowing past, but then there were more and more and I realized "is snow". I don't think its below freezing outside, and it seems to have stopped now.

Bear has had enough of "brick oven pizza". Especially since I pointed out to him that 20 hours a week is barely going to equal 100 dollars after taxes are taken out. With a sigh he told me that after work yesterday he had gone searching for a cheap source to get a small batch of chemical supplies from. He is going to mix it up in small amounts and go out to sell on the days he gets out of class early. Thank-you goddess!!!! I have been trying to get him to go back to working for himself again since he quit back in mid 2004. I don't understand why he quit in the first place. Its easy, he has always made excellent money at it, and it doesn't require much time, plus he is his own boss.

Still thinking about the milk issue. I would love to have a goat of my own. I don't have a goat pen though so that would have to be built and knowing there habit for escaping just any of enclosure isn't going to do. I am still concerned about having time to milk it though. Milking every two days would probably not be acceptable to the goat.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Thursday I found a local source of whole unpasturized milk. There is a family in Dover that sells it, no more than 15 minutes down highway 7. This is the link to the website. It list people by location that sell all natural goat or cow milk by the gallon or by the pint. And it ain't cheap either. 5 dollars a gallon for unpasturized and 7 for pasturized. I am going to have to think about paying that much for milk.

About my lemonade. I can't seem to keep enough of it. I can make a two pint pitcher and its gone in 24 hours. I keep hoping the "new" will wear off of it soon. I'm sure everyone already has this recipe but I will include it anyway. It came from a Southern Living Cookbook.

Homemade Lemonade
11/2 cups of lemon juice or juice squeezed from 5 or 6 fresh lemons
1 cup of boiling water
1 cup of sugar
5 cups of cold water
dissolve the sugar in the boiling water. Fill your drink container with 5 cups of cold water and add the lemon juice and then the boiling water with the sugar dissolved in it. Mix and chill.
I cut the lemon juice in mine down to a cup because the kids thought a cup and a half was a little tart You can use the same recipe to make lime-ade. (I love lime-aid)

I got home from work Friday night and had this sudden burst of energy. I cleaned and cleaned and cleaned. I didn't even care that I had to get up an hour earlier. I hung laundry in the moonlight again. I scrubbed down everything in the kitchen and then straightened up both living rooms and the dining area and our bedroom and bathroom. The office is messy, but most of it is bears stuff, he can deal with it when he gets home today. I've decided Bear has to much stuff cluttering up my counters. It was 1:30 before I went to bed.

Bear went with some friend to a cabin up in the mountains and is supposed to be back this morning and both the kids were gone so I had the house to myself for a change. I let in all of the cats while I cleaned so I could have company and then put all of them out but Patch who was curled up in my bed at the time. When I got into bed she walked up and stuck her nose under the covers. I lifted them up and she crawled right under with me. I fell asleep with the sound of a kitty purring in my ear.

Saturday was a long day, even though it was only half the length of my usual work day. It always feels long but this one was particularly annoying because of the holiday on Monday. I will be working Monday. There giving the bank people off but not the mortgage people. For this reason the company I work for has extended its grace period to Tuesday since it would have ended on Monday. I take an average of 185 calls per day in a 12 hour shift and the last few days I have worked 50 percent of them have been asking about when the grace period ends. I am so sick of telling people "We have extended the grace period to the 17th due to the holiday." At one point I swore if another person asked I was going to say "No, we haven't extended it. As a matter of fact were going to shorten yours by a day JUST BECAUSE YOU CALLED AND ASKED ABOUT IT."

We had company last night. Mike the tech guys brother Roddy came visiting with his son from Fort Smith and they both came over and spent the evening at our place. So I made some homemade pizza dough and pizza sauce using my stored herbs and Bear went out and bought some mozzarella cheese. He wanted me to show off and make that to but I said there was no way I was going to spend hours on end in the kitchen cooking last night and I haven't perfected it anyway. I got talked into making breadsticks too. I've never made those successfully, but since I know a lot more about yeast than I used to I decided to try anyway. I rolled them to thin so we had skinny breadsticks, but the kids devoured them. I even made homemade marinara sauce, it was good too. There is a lot left though. Maybe I should pour some into a jar and can it for later. Hopefully next year when I make pizza sauce or marinara sauce it will be with my own canned tomato sauce.

Now for my latest craft project. I saw this online when looking for crochet projects one day. Its a crotched pony tail holder. You take a plain ordinary covered elastic band and make enough single crotched around it to cover the band.. It doesn't matter how many as long as its covered when "not" stretched out. Then in each single crotched you make 3 half double crotched. In the next row you make 3 half double crotches in "each" double crotched. That last row can be hard work, but the finished project is a cute ruffled headband. Picture to come later

Now for a list of what "must" be done today. . .
Gather more firewood. {done}
Start the frame for the bent pole chicken coup when Bear gets home this afternoon
Move dirt at some point
Get the house straightened back up. {done}
Get the laundry off the line and more hung up {done}
Get the ironing done
Make some homemade waffles to put in the freezer for breakfast for next week
Finish using up the dough left over from making breadsticks (they were a little soft, I think I need to add flour)
Clean out the fireplace
Get over to moms at some point to upload this entry and burn what everyone else has written during the week to be read later. {done}

You would think with so much to do on my days off I wouldn't have this big "secretary's butt" sticking out back there.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

This is what I plan to use to tie the sapling trees together for the chicken coup. It used to be the top of Mouse's old mattress. I shredded it!!!
Water in it again, a day after it rained. Its draining very slooowly

I've been looking at my mozzarella cheese recipe . My first attempt at it did not yield the results I thought it would, but after looking at the recipe again this morning I think I missed a step. It was a busy evening that night. Bear had gone to his men's group meeting and the kids stayed home with me to decorate the tree and they were being really horrible. But missing a step might explain why I ended up with something similar to cottage cheese instead of the stretchy mozzarella I wanted.

After draining the curds the recipe says to heat up some water to 170 degrees and then place the curds into a heat resistant bowl and pour the water over them. It says to knead the curds with a wood spoon. As the water grows milky you are supposed to replace it (but not continue heating it to 170 degrees. As the water you are using cools the cheese is supposed to turn into something you can knead, like dough and as you knead and stretch it grows shiny and becomes mozzarella. I just drained the curds and started trying to stretch them. After looking closely at the other recipe's I have gathered I had decided it might possibly be the heating of the curds that causes them to toughen up a bit and look more like curds instead of cottage cheese.

I tried the recipe again this morning using only a half a cup of milk for fear of wasting it. I missed a step again while making it. Your supposed to heat the milk to 88 degrees and then add the vinegar and after it forms curds your supposed to heat it up to 100 to 105. I missed that part and drained if after letting it set at 88 degrees. But it still made cheese. It never reached the shiny stretch stage I was looking for, but I squeezed it into a ball and put it in ice water after finishing as instructed and after it firmed I put it in a plastic bag in the fridge for a little bit while I walked the woods looking for a spot to build the chicken coup. When I returned I pulled out a fairly firm somewhat elastic shiny lump and put it into my hand grater. I think I added a little bit to much salt, but it was definitely mozzarella cheese. The funny thing is the addition of to much salt made it taste like a cross between American cheese and mozzarella cheese. I may practice a time or two more with this recipe and a few others I have collected (which do not include using rennet or fancy starter cultures) before I consider buying milk specifically for this. There is a woman that lives on the other side of the mountain that has goats penned up in her front yard. Several of them. I wonder if she would sell me goat milk at a reasonable price. I guess I can also search the net and see if there is someone in my area that would sell unpasturized whole milk. Even if I had a milking goat right now I probably wouldn't have time to milk it.

Now the question is the cost of buying milk and buying cheese. From my 4 ounces of milk I got 1 ounce of cheese. There are 128 ounces in a gallon of milk which I think equals 32 ounces of cheese per gallon or 4 pounds. I think the current price of whole milk is a little over 3 dollars. I don't remember what cheese such as cheddar and mozzarella cost per pound but since I am on my way to the grocery store now I can find out. But if I can get unpasturized milk from someone with a cow or goat for less than 3 dollars a gallon I think its definitely with the effort .

The woman with the goats has a very interesting house. Its made up of a very small singelwide trailer and two travel trailers that they have sort of fastened together. It looks really awful to be honest, but a home does not have to be beautiful to be comfortable, and with a little creativity even an ugly home can be made into something beautiful.

Lets take cob for example. At first glance I admit I was not very impressed by what I saw, then I ran across this house built on Mayne Island. It was "Pink" and looked like something from the Smurf Village. I fell in love with that at that point. i recently came across another one just a beautiful which is sage green and has some amazing doors and windows. Here is a link The pink one and the green one .

I have managed to exercise most of the days I work. I am constantly moving on the days I don't work so its not as if that's a problem.

I picked up a book at the library called "Rustic Retreats, a build it yourself guide by David and Jeanie Smith which has a much better version of the structure I wanted to build. Instead of having to fine several skinny trees standing in a circle I just have to find 4 skinny trees standing in a square or rectangle. I think that may be easier to do. The I bend them over and tie them together where they cross and build my frame around that. I can use some of the thin sapling trees I was saving for my dining room frame. Then you just cover the outside with plastic and your choice of natural covering. The the trees being bare the only covering I can think of besides grass is cedar branches, but I would have to trim the lower branches off of ever cedar on the property to cover that thing I think. But there is a pasture at my mothers where we used to keep my horse, its overgrown. The weeds are dead but I may still be able to use them. The book calls it a "bent pole hut".

There are some other interesting structures in it. One is a really really cute "cord wood" building with a thatch roof. It was cute enough to make me consider using cord wood for the outdoor pantry rather than cob, but I have time to think about that. They have ideas for small one room tree houses. We had thought about putting some tree houses back there. For the kids obviously, but also for other things. Since during the summer is impossible to see any sky except for what directly above you and the mountains make it impossible to see any great distance you can't really see if there is bad weather coming your way. But if we put something up in one of the taller trees at the top of the hill then we could see for longer distances.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Rain at Last

My chocolate soap. It didn't color as evenly as i had hoped.

As you may have noticed there is now music on my blog. I helped coyote set up a blog a few weeks ago and while surfing at his grandmothers house he found another little girls blog with music in the background. We asked her how she did it and she commented a link back to us. Well while Coyote was at his grandmothers this weekend he followed the link and figured out how to do it. He showed me as you can see. He also showed his friend Panther (that's the name she wants us to use, she is the red headed girl from the party) how to set up a blog . She is linked down there to.

This is not the background music I am going to leave on here though, it will just do for the moment. What I really want to do is record the way it sounds out here in the spring at night and use that as my background noise.

Its time to pull out my seed box and see what I stored last summer. Lets see.

Self harvested seeds
Striped red watermelon
orange watermelon
cantaloupe
Dew Melon
Huge bag of basil seeds
Chinese bird house gourd
Luffah gourd
Left Overs
Common sage
Veronica (medicinal herb)
Chamomile
Sweet Marjoram
Common Chives

Packets never Opened
White wonder tomato
Italian Gold Hybrid tomato
San Marzano tomato

Seeds I need to buy or trade for
Onions
Fennel
Lemon Cucumber
regular cucumber
Sweet Bell peppers (mixed)
Carrots
Sweet Corn
Romania Lettuce
Nastrum
Peas

Plants or trees I would like to Have some day
Apple (any kind)
Pear
Peach
Plum
Persimmon
Blueberry
Pink Globe Grape
Regular purple grapes
Golden Raspberry
Cherry

Plants I used to want and now have
Rosemary
oregano
Ozark Beauty Everbearing strawberry
thornless raspberries
blackberries
sage
thyme
basil (more seeds than I could possibly ever use, anyone want to trade?)
black hollyhock (collected loads of seeds)
Bengal tiger canna lily
black night canna lily ((collected loads of seeds)

I've had the tomato seeds a long time. I don't know if they will grow or not, but I'll try. I'll pick up a package of a drought tolerant species I saw at wal-mart yesterday at some point just in case they don't.

Sundays list of activities.
Bear went to work. I got up at 7:30 and had coffee while reading diary entries I burned at my mothers Saturday written by my fellow bloggers. After coffee I grabbed a garbage bag and went outside to clean leaves out of the flowerbeds. The kids got up and I made some homemade hashbrowns and boiled a couple of eggs. I made some homemade liquid soap (which looks like snot). Then I put them to work pulling leaves out of the flowerbeds while I took the ax and the wheelbarrel into the woods to look for firewood. I made two trips and filled the kindling box as well and returned to find them arguing. Coyote threw a rock and I sent him to his room, no TV, radio, or video games and made him read since he was two hours behind of reading for the week anyway. I made Mouse keep working. We cleaned out several garbage bags full which I made her help me carry to the compost pile in the middle of the woods. She whined and complained the entire time. Later on I made fresh lemonade or as close as I can get using lemon juice, fed my yeast, and made some chocolate soap which I cut into 8 bars this Monday morning and snapped loose Tuesday morning . I never found my recipe so I had to guess at the ingredients. While waiting for the oil and lye to reach the right temperature I ironed. After the soap was mixed we all went to the dig site and moved dirt together. Coyote was being lazy so I sent him to the house and Mouse and I worked. We all wacthed Harry potter and the prisoner of askaban and its special features in front of the fire while waiting for Bear to get home and I made chocolate chip cookies in between the good parts.

I have a trick for getting my soap ingredients at the right temperature faster. Experience has taught me after mixing my lye and melting my lard to put the lye in the fridge to cool down and leave the oil at room temp to cool down. By doing this they both magical hit the right temperature at the same time. When reading the book about the Pioneer Women of Kansas I learned that they added salt to there soap mixture to turn there soap into hard bars. It didn't say how much though. The reason for this is because there homemade lye using ashes and water was much weaker than what we buy at the store and unless salt was added would only make a soft liquid soap. So I added some salt dissolved in water because I wasn't sure if I had enough lye. I had to guess at my recipe last time too. My one bar soap recipe seems to have disappeared completely and it took my lavender soap forever to set up. It never did get good and hard. The chocolate soap I made Sunday did fine though.

The foundation is a mud pit after last nights badly needed storm and its cold. No moving dirt today. I walked to the spot with the tall skinny trees where I had planned on making my wigwam chicken coup and tried to bend them over. But it turns out there not bending as easily as I thought they would. I walked around for nearly an hour looking for thin younger trees that would bend easily but never found any growing in a circle. I discussed the problem with Bear. I've told him several times I wanted to make a "living wigwam" for the coup and he hasn't really paid much attention to me. I told him I thought if I could get a rope higher up into the tree top or had some more weight to help bend them into an arch I could probably go ahead and use living trees. He started asking me why I wanted to use living trees and I explained that I felt over time the structure would become stronger as the trees and vines grew. Saturday he says he is going out into the woods with me to help me bend the trees. Ofcourse that remains to be seen.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Grass fire!!!!!

Pictures from the grass fire below, but first my new years goals . . . This is a very "l o n g" post. Sorry, its been a week and a very eventful one.


Last Years Goals Met
cleared building site of dead trees unhealthy saplings, green bries, and out of control muscudines
formulated a floor plan
Started digging the foundation (by hand)
recycled scrap lumber for forms from a construction site
Stopped gaining weight and started loosing weight
found two TV stands at garage sale to use as bag stands
learned to tolerate the summer heat
planted twice as many bell peppers (but ended up with just as many peppers as last year)
stored numerous medicinal herbs
convinced employer to allow me to work 3 12 hour shifts instead of 5 8 hour shifts

New years goals:
finish the foundation and begin construction of the first earthbag dome
build an earth oven in the foundation before beginning construction
buy burlap bags
exercise every day even days when I work 12 hours
don't eat as much sugar
build a wigwam chicken coup and get at least 1 rooster and 1 hen
get together enough firewood for next winter before the weather turns cold
grow enough veggies to can and store for the winter
get back down to a comfortable size 8
get the mortgage caught up so were not paying after the late date anymore







I took these after work today. The story is below. Those are not shadows from the trees, there burned patches
Sorry, my window was filthy. The chicken house we saved. There are 3 more below it. They replaced the plastic on the sides already.
If you look close enough you can see where the bulldozer broke down the fence to get into the field and make a firebreak The farm house they nearly lost.



Thursday we all went out to run errands. We had our neighbors son Carl in toe so he could put in an application at the brick oven where Bear has been working. On the way home I notice a huge amount of smoke pouring from a nearby hilltop where there are some chicken houses and an old farm house . I pointed it out and bear turned the car around to drive up the hill. We weren't exactly sure what the cause of the fire was but due to dry and windy conditions there is a burn ban on. We were also concerned that no one was up there or that maybe someone's farm or house was on fire.

We arrived to discover and out of control grass fire. An older oriental couple with teen age children and the London chief of police were the only ones on the scene. They only tools they had for fighting the fire were a couple of wet towels, two broken buckets, and a water hose that was way to short. Using the hose and buckets they had directed the fire away from the house but it was rapidly being blown toward the 4 chicken houses on the hillside. The police chief asked us to stay and help them try to keep it under control while they were waiting on the fire trucks. The 3 of us and one other neighbor who had stopped picked up wet towels and started beating away at the flames.

The fire started in a section of grass that had been allowed to grow thick and tall during the summer and wasn't cut before winter so the fire had plenty of fuel to burn. While beating at the flames I said a quick incantation to direct the wind in a safer direction and hoped the wind would cooperate .

The wind did cooperate and instead of blowing toward the chicken coups began to blow the fire harmlessly into an empty field. Well somewhat harmless.

We beat the flames for 45 minutes and ran buckets back and forth for the larger stuff. Bear and Carl suffered from a little bit of smoke inhalation and I nearly got roasted when the wind gusted suddenly and blew up a huge flame over the top of me. We were all covered in suit (those khakies I had on will never be the same) and completely worn out by the time the fire trucks finally did arrive. We saved the farm house and only one chicken house suffered damages and that was just some melted plastic. The only total loss was a telephone pole. The fire burned a total of 5 acres, most of it belonging to the field the wind swept it into when it changed directions. The chief of police commented that the family was fortunate that it had changed directions or the chicken houses would have been destroyed.

The neighbor who stopped asked where we lived and we told her. When she didn't understand Carl explained that we lived across the street from Rhonda the hairdresser who has a beauty shop next to her home. "Oh yes" she said, "she does my hair." Then I said. "We live in the white mobile home set into the hillside across the street."

Rhonda has made it a point to tell all of her customers that I am a Witch and although the woman didn't say it the sudden recognition in her eyes was hilarious. "Her expression seemed to say "OMG Your the Witch!!"

Other than fighting a raging grass fire I also moved part of a dirt pile, hung 3 loads of laundry, and dragged some rotten logs out of the woods to chop this weekend for firewood. Then I gathered kindling by moonlight while bear straightened up the house and made dinner.


I fed my yeast starter culture again. I try to remember to feed it daily but I only seem to remember every two days. I add a little bit of sugar and lots of flour to a tablespoon of water and drizzle it in and then gently mix it with a fork. The first morning I fed it had "some" bubbles in the mix. The bubbles are evidence of the presence of the yeast. But this morning it had "lots of bubbles".

Something has happened to my cough syrup. I kept warning Bear to quit drinking it out of the bottle and use a spoon. I think he introduced something that shouldn't have been in there. I noticed a little foam on the top of it this morning and when I shook it it fizzed. So I opened the cap and it was like uncorking a bottle of Champaign. I had to hold it over the sink as it bubbled out. It smells like Beer. Now I will have to make a whole new batch!!!!

The ingredients are not exactly easy to come by this time of year . Pine needles can be found fresh all year long, but other ingredients such as rose petals and echinacea leaves and black cherry bark cannot. I won't have fresh rose petals until April and cherry bark should only be harvested when the trees are in bloom in mid spring and I can't exactly gather echinacea leaves when the plants are dormant!!!! Fortunately I stashed quit a few of these more difficult to come by ingredients before the cold weather arrived.


I have been thinking more and more about chickens. I've purchased 3 flocks of chickens in the past and local wildlife always ends up having them for Dinner before I can. I have a new chicken coup planned. After taking a look at wigwams online I have decided to build one near the dig site for a chicken coup. I'm still thinking of what I will use to over it. I want some of the trees I use for the frame to still be alive and I've located an area where there are 5 thin tall saplings growing in a near circle. I can bend them all over in an arch and attatch the tops to the ground. Then your supposed to wrap more then saplings around that and cover it with hides. My plan is a little different though. I was thinking of using vines instead of saplings because there is such an abundance of them and since it is a chicken coup I was going to cover the frame with plastic or chicken wire. I am thinking plastic because its cheaper. Then using a techique I have seen used to build temporary shelters I plan to cover the entire thing with bundles of twigs or grass or both, and wrap some living vines around it to. I hope to create a structure that will be cool in the summer, warm in the winter, safe enough for a rooster and hen to raise babies, and be a mostly living structure.

The bird guy I usually buy my birds from will often sell young birds for a piece. There usually mixed breeds and you will get what ever he can catch so you never know how many roosters or how many hens your going to get until he walks out with them.

I do have a few concerns about the bottom of the coup though. I've heard of snakes coming up through a chicken coup floor and taking the babies that way. Maybe an additional layer of plastic voered with clay or gravel will do the trick.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

A section where I have moved back the piles of dirt. You can see the entire pile of rock now. My puppy went walking with me :).
More dirt that has been moved. In this one you can see where the ground is blackened from burning the piles of leaves on the steps. It didn't to much to harden them though. I wasn't expecting a hole lot, but I was hoping it would help protect them from erosion and frost. I probably would have been better off just piling the leaves on them and leaving them there until spring.



Happy new year everyone. Its a grey cloudy day in Arkansas. It looks almost as if its going to rain. I don't know if rain is in the forecast or not. We ended up having a few friends over last night after all. Squirrel and Tammy, Kathy and Jerry, and Sheri. Coyote and Sheri's son Nick went to a party at the skating rink .

Thursday morning after going to my mothers to make my entry I came home and pulled laundry off the line I hung up 3 days ago (still a little damp :( ). Then I washed 2 more loads and hung them. While waiting for each load to finish I worked on the wood pile. There were still rotten logs laying there that Bear pulled out of the woods while I was at work that he hadn't cut yet and I added a little bit more to the pile . . . Sometimes I swear the wood gets harder when it decomposes. I found myself wondering if any of it had been hit by lightening. My dad learned a few years ago that a tree hit by lightening is a lot harder to cut up than one that hasn't been hit. A relative of ours had an enormous oak that was hit by lightening and she called up my dad and asked him if he wanted the wood (which ofcourse he did). He took his toe truck over there and they loaded the large trunk and limbs onto it and brought it back to the house to split. Even his electric splitter has a hard time hacking through it. There are still several large pieces of trunk laying in the back yard he hasn't been able to cut through yet.

Our chainsaw is capoot by the way. There are a few people in town that fix them but we don't have the money to take it in. Its aggravating to spend that much for something and only have it last 3 years before it needs repairs. We use it a lot though. Oh well, now we get the opportunity to use an ax for our cutting, build up our muscles, burn some more body fat .
I moved more dirt Thursday evening. We built a fire and I left bread in front of the fireplace to let it rise while I went to the back of the property to work. I only had about 30 minutes, but when Mouse came to get me to let me know it was time to come back to the house I was pleased with the amount of work I had done. Each day I don't work 12 hours I have to make it a point to go down there and do something, even if its only 30 minutes.

When I got back home I discovered that my bread had not risen like it was supposed to. Then I realized instead of mixing two packages of yeast with my bread like the recipe had called for I had only mixed one. Before I read the earth oven book and learned about the true nature of yeast I would have thrown the dough away. But now I know that yeast is a living thing and will continue to grow and the bread will continue to rise. Its just going to take longer than the 40 minutes recommended by the recipe book. The bread did rise and I was able to cook it a few hours later.

At the currant rate I am going I will probably have all of the piles of dirt moved a few weeks before the spring equinox. I have to remind myself if it weren't for the fact that we decided to make the foundation 3 feet wider all the way around we would be done with it by now.
I have also started growing my own yeast culture. I mixed together the flour and water and a little bit of sugar last night and put it in a bowl inside a zip lock bag last night and put it in the back bedroom. According to the book it will be two or three weeks before I can cook with it as yeast and that I need to remember to feed it every day. The book recommended doing this with organic flour because the pesticides used in regular flour kill off some of the wild yeasts. But I don't have any organic flour so I am trying it with regular flour. Its been 3 days. I feed it a little every day and the flour and water paste always has little air bubbles in it which means the yeast is indeed present and eating and undoubtedly reproducing. My back bedroom is only about 68 degrees but the books says you can grow yeast in that temperature just fine. This project is supposed to take a few weeks before I can use it for bread.

Bear also got a job yesterday. He has given up on Dominic being able to provide him with enough work to get us through. There is a new resturuant in town called "Brick Oven Pizza". Apparently they are corporate so he won't have to worry about them going out of business. At least we hope not. LOL. When Bear said that I laughed and said "I don't know babe, are you sure you won't jynx them?" He only has to bring in a few hundred a month for us to be able to make ends meet. Hopefully that job will keep enough funds coming in to keep us from falling behind , at least until "work study" can find something for him to do. I explained to him Thursday night we were going to have to have some kind of income coming in from him, more than what he has been bringing in. I will only get 4 paychecks in the month of January which means the mortgage wouldn't be mailed off until the 29th and it would have to be overnighted and I wouldn't be able to pay the water or electric on time and I really do not want to fall behind on those again.
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