Reflections on January, 2018

January 2018

Welcome 2018!

This year is going to be uber-progressive, I can just feel it.  Each day and week are going to bring us that much closer to “done-ness,” that milestone that is right around the corner.  Of course it is sunny and 65 outside right now and that always makes me feel positive and ambitious.  There is February, that impending month that is notorious for gloom.  Well that’s what books are for!  Anne has created some lists of excellent reads for winter months that I’ll be diving into.  But for now, let’s reflect on all the important advancements that have transpired in January!

In the first few days of 2018, we had a deer carcass to deal with.  Julius kicked butt skinning and butchering and dehydrating the deer he shot on Christmas.  He and his father tried several different methods of marinating the meat before dehydrating it.  In the end they decided on the pre-packaged bags of Jack Daniel’s meat marinade.  We now have around 10 gallon-sized bags of deer jerky in the food trunk.  A word to the wise: If everyone in your family is snacking on deer jerky several times a day, you can expect some unpleasant flatulence.  Maybe that was too much information.  Maybe I need some sympathy.

All of this butchering took place at the ‘rents house, during the cold spell in which the daily temps didn’t exceed 35.  As we drove out of the pasture, care had to be taken to miss the cow patties; frozen solid rocks of poop threatening to damage the undercarriage of the car.  The warmth and comfort of my in-laws house is always so inviting when we’ve been huddled around our barrel stove.  It is quite ironic that we leave our spartan abode seeking modern amenities, and then find ourselves boiling water on the stove to fill the bathtub because their pipes are frozen.  Ah, the joys of country living.  I busied myself with picking up after the baby and 3-year old, drawing up kitchen cabinet layouts, and bingeing the latest Orange is the New Black season.

When we returned to our little off-grid house on the plains, we cranked up the music and got one of the closets totally cobbed.  The other only lacks about 4 days of work.  The completed one (the kitchen pantry) will soon have a door.  Instead of attaching the door frame with anchors, we used 10 inch lag bolts, screwwed right into the bags.  I also added some cob to the spice rack shelf.  All this area is now ready for manure plaster.

pantry door january home-farm off grid cob earthbag

Light in the pantry. Door on the pantry. Messy kitchen.

Notice the bright light radiating from the pantry?  It has a classic pull-string light with an LED bulb, wired to our house batteries.  And, electricity flows to outlets now!  We have a breaker box in the utility closet, which sends electric juices to the many outlets and light fixtures now strategically placed throughout our home.  Moving on up, I tell ya.

water tank indoor off-grid

Water Operating Module (WOM)

In that same utility closet, hubby has been working on our water works.  A 55 gallon drum is now secured in the floor.  We have this inside so that when the water-catch totes and lines outside are frozen, we have some backup water.  In the future, this barrel may have a sand-bed filter on top of it, so that this water can be potable.  For now, it is just used for washing dishes.

 

Bottom of the tube that sucks water up

 

The other awesome thing that hubby did this month was designing and constructing the pan rack that now hangs above our stove.  He used 1/2 inch black iron, metal unions, a piece of hog panel and some black chains.  I LOVE it!  It definitely fits into the steampunk-bohemian kitchen theme that we’re going for.

steam punk pan rack

Adding hog panel to the pan rack

 

pan rack steampunk bohemian, kitchen

Constructing the pan rack

 

pan rack cast iron steam punk bohemian

We only lack a few hooks for all our cast iron pans

And now…

…for a special installment of the homesteading blog.  I did something like this once before in April of 2014, where I told you what happened each day of that month.  This is a little more zoomed in, on one day in particular.  I call it “Our Daily Routine as of Late,” or “Why it has Taken us Over 4 Years to Build a House,” aka “Living in a House Made of Dirt with 3 Children.”

7:30am  Alarm blares.  Julius gets up, makes coffee (for us) and begins his schoolwork.

8:00am  Baby wakes up, Julius brings us cups of coffee in bed. Aaron starts the fire in the barrel stove and brings me the baby to nurse while we sip the coffee in bed and sometimes read a bit of our novels. This is a pretty sweet deal for me.

9:00am  I get up, make eggs and toast, and change the baby. Mason wakes up and begins asking me to read to him. It doesn’t matter how many times I tell him we don’t read storybooks in the morning, he still asks.

10:00am We finish up breakfast and finish talking about the days’ work. Sometimes we get tangential and talk about ideas until 11.  Baby goes down for a nap.  Mason does his “homework;” lately its an old 90’s GeoSafari learning game.

11:00am We begin work; for me this is making cob or slapping it on the wall, for Aaron it is installing electrical outlets in the middle room. Baby wakes up and gets right to work batting loose dirt out of an overflowing bucket.

Noon  While I am smearing cob on the closet wall, Mason explains how we should build an airport outside the front door so we can land the plane he bought me.  He hands the plane to me.  It is invisible.  I take it with my mud covered hand.  He asks when I’ll be done. The baby crawls up, and with a cry that says I’ve had enough of this, he pulls on my pant leg.  I tell Mason that it is break time.  Aaron goes out to move cows.

12:30pm  I wash my hands, feed and change the baby, help Julius with his Works Cited for his hog research paper, and Aaron explains how the electric box works (for the 4th time) and I try to understand (for the second time).

1:30pm  I fry quesadillas for lunch while holding the baby and making play dough plants for Mason.  As part of my supermom power, I am allowed to use my secret 3rd arm during the hours of 1 and 2pm on Wednesdays.  Luckily this is Wednesday.  We all eat lunch and discuss plans for a hidden underground bunker.

2:00pm  Aaron finishes up some electrical stuff and continues work on the soil cement step. Julius brings in buckets of dirt and dumps them on my tarp for the next batch of cob. Then he plays with baby.  I smooth up the doorway I’ve been working on until I’m interrupted by a request for a butt-wiping.  I wash my hands again.

soil cement step granite pieces home farm

Soil cement step from west room up to middle room

4:00pm  Someone finally realizes there’s no music playing so it gets turned on.  Everyone kicks butt at their tasks: Aaron smoothing the step around the granite pieces, me making another batch of cob, Julius and Mason building Lego guys, and baby Kyias pulling all the board books off the shelf.

6:00pm  I wash my hands again, nurse the baby, and start browning some meat for tacos.  Julius has to wash dishes every night as a consequence for doing silly 11-year-old stuff.  Sweet deal for me #2.  Mason is “starving” so I peel an orange for him.  Aaron sees that I’m “not busy” so he begins explaining how the aluminum angles will be cut and placed in a particular way on the solar array.  I nod and pull the baby away from the wet cement.

7:00pm  We all eat supper and discuss how we will design the boys’ room.  I say it should have an electro-space theme with circuitry patterns on the walls.  Aaron wants the same idea, but with a steam-punk feeling.  Julius wants bunk beds and built in rock climbing walls. Mason wants a train track that goes all around the room with tunnels and an airport.  Kyias wants another bite of avacado.

8:00pm  Aaron makes the evening fire and I turn on the audio book Little House in the Big Woods and we all listen.  Julius whittles his deer antler.  Mason uses his little scissors to cut up pieces of paper into the tiniest confetti a 3-year-old can manage and carefully places it into a neat pile before the baby comes along and bats it all over the floor.  Aaron stares at the smart phone to research and order some little electrical contraptions that we need for the breaker box.  I clean up supper, put laundry away, and check math problems.

9:00pm  The Boys snuggle up in their pallet bed on the floor, just like Laura and Mary, while giggling about Daddy going out to shoot our wild hogs just like Pa.  Aaron changes the baby and then I nurse him to sleep.

10:00pm  Everyone is in bed.  This is a pretty sweet deal for me #3 because it is the quietest time of day when I do a bit of homeschool planning, reading, blogging or making lists of all the things I want to do when we’re finished building our house.

11:00pm  I have no trouble sleeping.

 

Books of the Month

Julius: No books this month, other than school books.  He’s been really into his computer skills studies, working through Get Coding and The Linux Command Line.

Aaron: Flamecaster and Shadowcaster, both by Cinda Williams Chima.

Me: Everybody Lies: Big Data, New Data, and What the Internet can tell us About Who we Really Are by Seth Davidowitz. This is a super interesting read with this basic premise: People lie on surveys, skewing the results.  People don’t lie when they ask Google questions like “How do I make my penis bigger?” and “Flu symptoms.”  These are not surprisingly some of the most common queries.  But the book is filled with surprising truths drawn from Google searches.

Family Read Alouds: Little House in the Big Woods read by Cherry Jones and Buddha at Bedtime.

home farm chicken

Yes, that’s a chicken that sneaked in to eat crumbs

 

 

 

 

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