Reflections on September, 2016

Delicious tomatoes, the juiciest cantaloupe, and a giant bag of okra kicked off this September of 2016.  They didn’t come from our soil of course, but the Lawton Farmer’s Market where I sold a bit of soap and got to chat with like-minded people.  I fried those okra in the cast iron over a hot fire and reveled in the freshness of that crispy yet satisfyingly slimy southern treat.  That farmer must have picked them this morning.  Did I tell you about his onions?  Aaron doesn’t like onions, but he choked them down when I used an entire one in the morning’s scrambled eggs.  I haven’t heard the last of that breakfast mistake.

I fried up another local treat this month, thanks to Aaron’s creek spearing skills.  He and Julius went down to set up some electric lines across the creek and though it had less than a foot of water in most places, there swam a large catfish.  “Daddy, let’s catch it!” yelled Julius.  “With your hands?” offered Daddy.  “No! Spear it!”  Aaron looked down at the step-in post in his hand and without giving it too much thought, pelted the post into the fish at just the right angle to pierce and trap the fish.

Spearing a fish!

Spearing a fish!

After using trusty old Google to remind us how to skin the sucker, we covered it in flour, breadcrumbs, and Tony Catcherie’s seasoning.  It took longer to fully cook than I had anticipated, (I’m not a big fish-fry kind of chef) but eventually, the 4 of us had a meal.  And Julius got to dissect the head.

Prepping the catfish

Prepping the catfish

On with the subject of food and drink, I got to try something I have been waiting a long long time for.  Way back in college (I’m not really that old) in a sustainable agriculture class, a fellow student described the taste and rich experience of raw milk.  It sounded pretty romanticized to me.  Then I watched a documentary on the stuff, and then I became lactose intolerant for a few months and had to drink lactose-free milk among other substitutes.  After taking some probiotics I was able to drink milk again.  Then I read a lot about the benefits of raw milk in Nourishing Traditions, the Weston A. Price book on healthy eating.

And then, almost a year ago, I started showing signs of the familiar stomach pains, accompanied by gurgling and body chills.  I was miserable.  Forgetting my previous stint of lactose intolerance, I kept a food journal and eventually pinpointed the cause of the nightly stomach misery.  Milk.

This time around, I have tried everything; taking probiotics, eating yogurt, drinking apple cider vinegar and kefir, avoiding processed grains, and drinking plenty of water.  I can’t seem to kick the intolerance.  I miss milk so much!  After hearing a tip from a friend, we drove about an hour away to a little dairy near Blanchard, Oklahoma.

Real. Raw. Milk.

Real. Raw. Milk.

What a novelty!  To buy real, unprocessed milk from a farm where you can see the cows and shake the hand of the owner!  We paid $5 a gallon, one for a grandparent who would surely enjoy the nostalgia, and one for us to try.  Well, first we tried the cream by itself.  Heaven.  We added it to our morning coffee.  No stomach problems.  The next day, I drank a whole cup of the stuff after dinner with some cookies.  No stomach problems!  And, it was quite possibly the best tasting milk I’ve ever had.  Could this really be true?  Could raw milk actually have the living cultures and enzymes required for proper digestion still in it?  It sure tastes better than the homogenized, pasteurized grocery commodity.  We plan to make a trip up there again soon, so I’ll keep you posted.

Now onto the happenings of the house.  Aaron read about S Lime as a permanent protective layer for the exterior cob.  We purchased a bag of the stuff and mixed it with some water in a 5 gallon bucket, leaving a couple inch layer of water on the top.  Now that bucket is just sitting there in the west room until we have time to allocate to once again, cobbing the exterior.  One of the things he read was that the longer it sits, the better it will be.

S-Lime

S-Lime

 

Mixing S-Lime

Mixing S-Lime

We made yet another log run, mostly for the very long overhang pieces, but also for some hinges and a couple of uprights.  Hauling logs out of the woods is one of my least favorite house-building tasks.  We have to listen to the chainsaw and smell its gas all day, sit in the squatting position and get extremely sticky sappy hands while skinning the logs, and then traipse over brush and bramble carrying the heavy wet logs out to the truck.  I honestly don’t know how I mustered the strength to help Aaron get the logs onto the bed.  He does the vast majority of the heavy lifting, but never fails to tell me that he couldn’t have done it without me.  Well, I wish he could.

Another load of logs

Another load of logs

So now that we’ve been steadily erecting the porch, I can see that we’ll need to make one more trip to get a couple more hinges and a lot of long overhang pieces.  Thank the gods it’ll be the last log-haul trip.

The porch

The porch

Working has shifted indoors as well.  I’ve used up all the beer bottles in the gaps above the walls.  We need more bottles!  I think we’ll call around to some wineries and maybe check some bar dumpsters.  It’s been a long time since I climbed in a dumpster.  The bottles look pretty amazing if I do say so myself.  The cob blocks out all the wind, which is getting cooler every night.

Bottle walls

Bottle walls

We’ve also started the bathroom plumbing and even purchased a toilet.  That is a pretty big milestone for us.  It’s a flush toilet, using only 1.28 gallons per flush.  As we get more porch roof complete, we’ll be collecting more of this fall rainwater, which is what fills the toilet’s reservoir.  We may have filtered grey water going in there later on.  Perhaps the toilet will flush into a methane digester which can then feed methane gas to power an absorption-cooling refrigerator and a gas stove?  Perhaps.

Pooping inside the house?

Pooping inside the house?

Ever since we visited my cactus-connoisseur brother in Colorado, Aaron has been on a real cactus kick.  He has purchased a few, but he’s also collected from various “wild” places.  He can rattle off the genus and species of nearly all these succulents and he’s really excited about grafting cactus.  Who knew?

Cactus passions

Cactus passions

Okay, speaking of getting interested in a new hobby, Julius has taken a sincere interest in raising and breeding rabbits.  It’s just like I read about from the homeschooling and unschooling experts; keep the kid out of school for as many months as he’s had years in public school before you begin to homeschool.  He’s had 5 years of public school, so May through September has been his “deschooling” period.  The experts said that as long as the child is given ample freedom, near the end of that time period he will develop an interest or passion that sprang exclusively from his inner self.  Take that interest and use it to your advantage.  Dive in, take risks, talk about the pros and cons and what-ifs and really allow his creative process to meld with the academic and logical world.  This is where real learning takes place.

Passions and interests

Passions and interests

He’s got all his costs figured up and Aaron met a guy who sells rabbits, so we may have some new animals soon.

Julius was very resistant to homeschool earlier, but just the other day, he asked if we could start already.  I’ve got all the curriculum and notebooks.  We made a 20’ long timeline for history, sharpened pencils, stocked up on library books, and organized the homeschool shelf.  We are ready to start this homeschool adventure Monday, October 3rd.  I’ll be writing about this experience every 3 months.  Hop on over to H.O.M.E. School on the main menu to read about preparing for this first year.

shelf with homeschool books

The Homeschool Shelf

What we’ve been reading this month:

For some reason when Aaron is waiting on batteries to charge, he picks up this giant brick of a book by Tom Clancy called Locked On.  I can’t imagine why it interests him, though I suppose Clancy is a bestseller, so he must be a decent writer.

Many moons ago, you may recall, we began our first family read-aloud, The Hobbit.  After putting it on a shelf for a couple of months, we are back at it, hoping it will pick up now that Bilbo and company are drifting down a river in barrels.  I seem to remember the story having a lot of action from here on out.  My mind drifts away to other places when Tolkien goes on about the descriptions of the landscape and the detailed imagery of the craggy rocks and shadowy tree branches.  I sometimes feel I could have picked a slightly easier book for our first read-aloud.

On his own, Julius has read Roald Dahl’s The Witch, The 6th book in The Ranger’s Apprentice, The Siege of Macindaw, and of course, he’s been working through some of those rabbit books.

I dove back into The Writer’s Jungle to refresh my memory on how to approach writing with Julius.  I have some great ideas packed away in my bag of tricks.  I also skimmed through The Well Trained Mind as a refresher.

And, to let you in on a little surprise (2016 seems to be full of them), we’re also reading:

What we're reading

What we’re reading

Berenstain Bears’ New Baby, Ina May Gaskin’s Guide to Childbirth, Tina Cassidy’s Birth: The Surprising History of How we are Born, and Do Chocolate Lovers Have Sweeter Babies: The Surprising Science of Pregnancy by Jena Pincott.  Yes, this spring will be extra busy as we add another member to our home.

Peace.

 

2 comments to Reflections on September, 2016

  • Daniel Way

    A Spring baby! Wonderful! Interesting thoughts on “de-schooling”. Public schooling is, generally speaking, a train wreck. At best it is a crap shoot from year to year. While the the emphasis is on social engineering and indoctrination instead of education, the children are in peril.

    • Agreed, Daniel. John Taylor Gatto has a book called an Underground History of American Education that is all available for free as a PDF. It’s all about the train wreck that is our country’s standardized education.

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