Monday, November 10, 2014

Rhubarb and Sam, Episode 6

The long lost podcast! This week in Rhubarb and Sam, we reflect on the transformation that Kaleesha has been through over the past two years. From her long hair and modest dress and primary role of obedient wife and mother, all based on her previous fundamentalism, to her short hair cut and changing dress habits to her new role as an author.  Interesting.

Please note that you can subscribe to the podcast in several ways:

At the iTunes store via this link.
If you are using an RSS reader or podcast app use this link.

Thanks and enjoy!

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Autumn at Make-It-Do Farm

You thought you could escape without hearing me blather on about autumn, didn’t you? Ha! 
Photo 10 21 2014 16 58 19
Our place beginning to be covered in leaves.
We hosted our first annual Fall Festival. I suspect this will replace the former annual Box Turtle Race I used to host in the spring. It was always difficult to pull off a big gathering when there was so much garden work to be done, but it was worth it. Now, however, we just don’t have as many other children in our lives to make such a shindig worthwhile. And we’re totally into the autumn scene, with the cool weather, campfires, cozy sweaters, hot drinks, steaming bowls of chili and plates piled high with carbs…   Anyway, we kicked it off this year and I think we’re off to a good start.
Justin helping BeBop check out the fireplace.
We bought a couple cord of decent firewood and had it stacked right quick with everyone pitching in. Our friend Russ was good enough to stop by and sweep our chimney, and my dad came over to help us refigure our stove, which we had piped out through the old fireplace. 
Dad cut out the old damper, we cleaned the heck out of everything (at least 30 lbs. of creosote and ash) with Dad's shop vac, thanked the Flying Spaghetti Monster that we’d never had a chimney fire, and Dad worked some magic on the opening, covering it with cement board and rigging up some new stovepipe. The draw on that baby is remarkably improved. I tell you what, if there’s a zombie apocalypse, I want my dad by my side. The man has more practical knowledge and skill in his little pinky than I’ll ever have (though I like to think it rubbed off on me just a wee bit), more than anyone I know. (My brother is a close second.) He usually has the right tool for the job and nearly every other time we work together I’m introduced to a tool I didn’t know existed. Anyway, he’s our go-to guy, and we definitely needed help with this project.
Photo 10 30 2014 08 49 21
Kids enjoying the fire on the first frosty morning.
Den and I bought new replacement parts as necessary for the stove. I sanded it, washed it, and gave it a new coat of paint (high heat Rustoleum, from the automotive dept—worked great). We enjoyed our first fire a few nights ago. The new catalytic combustor allowed for a clean burn. I couldn’t even see a wisp of smoke coming out of the chimney once it activated and it kept all the heat in the house where it belongs. Most excellent. I’m so tickled Denny is willing to do what it takes to do things the right way. 
Blue & Justin scouting fish
We rearranged our 55 gal fish tank (in above photo) and some of the kids volunteered to spend a couple sunny afternoons wading in the creek, catching some more fish to populate it. 
 Several red bellied daces, spotted topminnows, stone rollers, orange throat darters, a tiny long-ear sunfish, and one banded sculpin. We looked them all up in the Missouri fish book and called it school.
I also did this:

It’s my first rock balancing, but I plan to make it a habit. Our friend Russ turned us on to it. Surprisingly enjoyable, especially while at the creek.

Loving some rainy fall days...
Nice weather for kids

…and bright sunny fall days. 

Photo 10 22 2014 16 53 34The above was taken during one of my and Denny’s daily, 2-mile walks. Well, almost daily. Pretty, eh? We pretty much live in paradise. To the right is another photo from the same walk. Denny is rockin' his solar-viewing glasses, checking out the huge spot on the sun. I had mine on for a bit, too. Wonder what drivers-by thought when they saw us in our geeky glasses, walking and staring at the sun? Hehe.

Photo 11 01 2014 17 42 31
We celebrated our second-ever Halloween by donning costumes and attending our small town’s gathering Halloween shindig. Local business owners and other groups line the courthouse square and hand out candy. Farra dressed everyone (except me & Den. We went naked).
Photo 10 22 2014 14 01 19
Blue & Little raking leaves
Yesterday the weather warmed a bit, up in the mid 60’s. The sun was shining and the yard was covered in crispy leaves, mostly oak. After errands in the morning and a lunch of popcorn, Den, myself, and some of the kids headed out to do yard work. We raked, mowed, and mulched some new garden beds. We buried the less hardy herbs under mountains of mulched leaves, raked pine needles up around the acid-loving blueberry bushes, planted a couple rows of garlic with a hearty helping of composted goat manure, herded the chickens and ducks out of the garden and shut the gates—sorry guys, garden party is over. Can’t have them scratching up the garlic.
Photo 11 03 2014 15 37 16Denny headed to the barn to put the gas can away. Mower battery went dead, so we will have to finish on the next nice day. But it’s sure lookin’ pretty out there.

The afternoon passed so sweetly, if a bit dustily. Working the land with your loved ones in the warm sunshine… is there anything so soul-nourishing? Maybe preparing dinner. Peeling and cutting potatoes and leeks in the kitchen with your family, dancing to Santana’s Oye Como Va, making a delicious soup while the sky darkens outside the windows.
Photo 11 03 2014 17 09 59
I could fill pages with descriptions of our days. The joys, the challenges, the sweet moments, the laughter. Life is good.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014


Photo 09 03 2014 10 21 54I’m quite far behind on this blog, but no matter; I shall dive right in anyway and get caught up as I’m able.

We maybe should have dug up our potatoes a couple weeks ago, maybe even a month ago.  (Am I running behind on everything?)  Well, after an incredibly mild summer, which was more like a New England summer than a Missouri summer, we hit a patch of oppressive heat and humidity that drove us indoors for a couple weeks.  Denny and I only got out when we needed to and tried to keep that to morning hours.  The younger kids played in the hose most afternoons.  The creek had nearly dried up.
Photo 09 03 2014 10 54 01

Now we’re back to something more reasonable.  The sun was shining this morning, the katydids were carrying on like nobody’s business, the bees were busy about the last of summer’s flowers.  Time to head to the garden.

Only the three youngest grew potatoes this year.  Just a small patch each in their small garden plots.  Seth and Blue helped them harvest.  We’d planted what was left of the seed in a bigger patch by our tomatoes.  Royal and Little stayed out to help harvest those while the others went off to play.

Photo 09 03 2014 11 06 45
Rewarded with cold cups of apple cider for their efforts.
(Toasting friends Sponge & Noggin, who, the kids suspect,
would love to have joined us today.)

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to scrub some of these and toss them in the slow cooker with the beef roast, carrots and onions. Ta ta for now!

Monday, August 25, 2014

Rhubarb and Sam, Episode 5

This week in Rhubarb and Sam, discussing community, connecting and not connecting. In particular, feeling connected to our new friends in England even as we feel disconnected locally. Being atheists in a conservative Christian community can often be a strange experience with few community connections. We work to cultivate and nurture the few that we have.

Please note that you can subscribe to the podcast in several ways:

At the iTunes store via this link.
If you are using an RSS reader or podcast app use this link.

Thanks and enjoy!

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Rhubarb and Sam, Episode 4

This week in Rhubarb and Sam, astronomy! We set-up at the Tucker Creek observatory for some time at the telescope only to have a clear night turn into a not-so-clear night due to high humidity. The stars were still pretty bright in our dark skies so we settled in on the moon couch (our disc shaped outdoor couch) to record an episode. From Cygnus to Sagittarius, Saturn to Mars, take a tour of our night sky with us. There's nothing quite like pondering our place in our galaxy and our galaxy's place in the Universe. Have a listen!

Milky Way panorama

Links of interest:
Our Milky Way Galaxy
Our Solar System
Globular Clusters

Please note that you can subscribe to the podcast in several ways:

At the iTunes store via this link.
If you are using an RSS reader or podcast app use this link.

Thanks and enjoy!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Rhubarb and Sam, Episode 3

This week in Rhubarb and Sam a middle of the night discussion of identity, life on earth, feeling small and feeling large. Have a listen!

Please note that you can subscribe to the podcast in several ways:

At the iTunes store via this link.
If you are using an RSS reader or podcast app use this link.

Thanks and enjoy!

Monday, June 9, 2014

Rhubarb and Sam, Episode 2

This week in Rhubarb and Sam we touch on child rearing, aquarium disasters and the evolution of family life. In short, it's a balancing act that starts fresh every day. Have a listen!

Please note that you can subscribe to the podcast in several ways:

At the iTunes store via this link.
If you are using an RSS reader or podcast app use this link.

Thanks and enjoy!

Friday, June 6, 2014

Rhubarb and Sam

We're happy and only slightly embarrassed to release unto the unsuspecting population of planet earth, our new podcast, Rhubarb and Sam. A weekly masterpiece that will both delight and depress you. Recorded live from our studio which in truth is our bed. Please, note this is a family friendly podcast (usually) and all recording is done fully clothed (usually) and we think is in good taste even if it is somewhat absurd!

Here you'll find an assortment of topics ranging from neutrinos to silly goat stories to... oh, what the hell, this is usually the end of our day "musings" which is to say, who knows what it is you'll find. Consider it a weekly mystery, 12-15 minutes in length.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Nine Peas in a Pod - 2013 Family Video

So, for the past few years I've put together a compilation of some of our family's photos and videos from the previous year, with a happy, eclectic selection of tunes. We were a little rushed and a lot late this year, but, better late than never, Denny and I managed to throw together an hour long video for your viewing pleasure. Some of you have received DVD copies of this, but for those who didn't and have some time on your hands, Denny has made a digital copy available.    

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Spring on the Homestead

Spring, as they say, is pretty much awesome.
       Wait, is that what they say?  Oh, no.  Um, yeah… spring is springing.  See spring spring.  Go spring go.

It has taken hours upon hours to clean up the mess left by one of our previous occupants.  No more scrap metal, no more soda pop bottles, no more tools rusting in the rain, no broken down cars or old trailers, and two less ugly, rickety sheds.  In place of these things there are flower beds with native flowers transplanted from Denny’s place, an herb spiral, blueberry bushes, arbors built from cedar branches, a duck pond, low rock walls and borders, safe, debris-free areas for the children to play… and more beautiful things and projects all the time.

Here are some snippets from around Make-It-Do Farm...

Daisy had triplets this year, the two bucks pictured with her and the doe in Blue’s arms in the next.  We’ve been bottle-feeding the doe to make sure she gets what she needs without competing with her brothers.  We’ll sell her in a couple weeks when she is weaned, as we really have no room on the farm for a goat who thinks it’s a human.  =)
IMG 3354
IMG 3617
One of Rochel’s two bucklings.  Little named this one Sniffy and the other Finder.
IMG 3358
Yours truly opening my first shipment of paperback copies of my book.
IMG 3375
A Denny and a Little gardening on a warm day...
IMG 3656
Farra is often doing make-up and costumes just for fun.  I think she and Seth are supposed to be some kind of savages...
 IMG 3397
Filling the duck pond...
IMG 3724
Building the arbor for the raspberries.  Note the duck pond in the background, surrounded by rock.  Denny has been hard at work!
IMG 3729
And as always, we have been hard at work making and selling soap.  Be sure to check out for prices and varieties!

Sunday, March 16, 2014

We Survived Winter!

The daffy-down-dillies are pushing through the mud.  Late, but most welcome.  There's a patch of them a couple miles down the road that are always up a couple of weeks before ours.  The children noticed them the other day, open and yellow and basking in the sunshine.  The sky opened up and dumped a "wintery mix" on them today.  That's just how it is.  The 24 years I've lived in Missouri I can't remember a year it didn't snow on the daffodils at least once.  To all the people who got ridiculously optimistic about those first sunny warm days in March I coined the adage, "Winter's not over until it snows on the daffodils."   Snow on the daffodils does not mean and end of winter, however, just that spring doesn't usually arrive until sometime after that.

It's been a cold winter.  A long winter.  A great winter.  We celebrated the first snow (which was awesome! 10" in mid December!) with our traditional snow party; sledding and fun in the snow followed by cutting out paper snowflakes to tape to the windows while listening to winter tunes and drinking hot chocolate.  We visited with family and friends, we did a lot of school work and found a joyful rhythm with Denny in our lives.  The house is filled with ample conversation and laughter now, as Denny adds his own humor and musings to our mix.

With Denny's encouragement, advice, and the children's patience, and everyone's help around the house, I was able to finish writing and editing my first book and we published it last week.  Wow!  What a lot of work!  What a humbling experience, putting my life out there for others to purchase and take part in.  (You can check the book out by following the link on the sidebar.)  Very satisfying and draining.  Now, I have to get to work writing the second book while marketing the first one... and doing all those things I usually do.

Two of our three goats will be having babies within the next couple of weeks.  That's probably the highlight of the farming year.  Bouncy kids and fresh milk; delightful!  The hens are laying plentifully again and we are finding ourselves working more eggs into our diet.  In the garden, the apple trees have been pruned (another year or two and they will begin producing fruit.  I can't wait!), the garlic we planted in the fall is poking through its winter blanket of mulch.  The wormwood, mugwort and tansy are putting out shoots.  The rest of the garden is dormant.  It's difficult to imagine what a wild green monster it will be in a few months.  We are planning on building some hugelkultur beds with old wood dragged in from the forest, as well as some trellises for tomatoes and beans out of cedar from last summer's observatory-area clearing.  Definitely looking forward to the first big garden with Denny!   The downside is that we both have bad backs.  The upside is that planning is what we do best.  We are going to plan for a garden that we can maintain with the least amount of stress on our backs, the work toward that goal very carefully.  With lots of help from the children.

Planning and dreaming with Denny is one of my life's greatest joys now.  We are always on the same line of the same page, exciting and inspiring one another.  We walk around our house and property hand in hand, discussing landscaping at length.  The kids pick up on our enthusiasm.  The other day, while the sun was shining and promising spring, Atira, Little and Blue formed a garden bed around an old stump.  Little told me, "I want to make a forest garden."  Only she still doesn't pronounce her R's so it came out, "Fowest gowden."  So cute!  Not just any garden, but a forest garden.  She has been perusing Denny's permaculture books.

With some normality to our life, and a wonderful partnership at the family helm, important things are getting taken care of.  The children are getting to the dentist and doctor for check-ups, Farra has gotten much-needed braces.  Even yours truly will be visiting the dentist for the first time since she was a kid. (I'm just as terrified now as I was then.  I just know they are going to frown at me.  I wish I could go to the children's dentist; they are SO nice!).  The vehicles are being maintained, the house is being maintained and improved (just finished putting a roof on the deck--no more tarps!), the children have a more rigorous school schedule (though still very relaxed) and with two critically-thinking teacher-parents they can't turn around without bumping into education.  Ha.

I've added Denny as a contributor to this blog.  I hope that between the two of us we can find a way to keep you a little more up to date!  But you know how spring and summer are...  so much to write about, so little time!