Holistically Organized Multidisciplinary Endeavors Farm

Reflections on November, 2016

Nov 2016 treesI need chocolate.  I mean, really need chocolate.  “The struggle is real,” they say, or “First world problems,” they say.  Well “they” actually live in this “first world.”  I know, that was way too many quotation marks.  Such is the real world.  Quote, unquote all the hardships that people must go through in life to get where they are or to become the people they want to be.  Well, I want to be comfortable.  And, I’m not.  This struggle is real.  And I’m going to be real, here.  After 3 years of working on this home, we still have no running hot water.  This is my biggest struggle right now, washing dishes in cold water.  My back hurts at 5 months pregnant, and the hard labor theme of the month is to bend over and take pallets apart.  I am limited in my vices so please reader, send chocolate.

For the first part of the month we were kind of settling into the fall weather with ease.  I have really enjoyed the longer evenings as the sun sets earlier.  We heat up the barrel stove and snuggle with blankets in our camping chairs while we read.  Some nights we watch a movie on the tablet.  The screen is small, but the superior sound quality that comes out of our solar speaker makes up for it.

The days are shorter but they’re still ultra-productive.  I think I’ve taken apart 50 pallets, which were quickly trimmed and placed on the porch roof.  2×8 lengths of 8-12′ are what Aaron decided on for the porch trim.  Previously, the overhang pieces stuck out past the uprights 2-4 feet, making the porch look like a really cool fort, rather than a house.

The veranda, in the fort stage
The veranda, in the fort stage

Aaron has been trimming those overhangs and attaching the trim just outside of the upright posts.  Now, seeing the house from a distance, it has a more finished and professional look.  That finished trim begins at the front door and wraps all the way around the west room and extends to the water catch tank on the back (north) side of the house.  As he added this trim, Aaron made each 2×8 slope down just a little, each board to the rain-catch tank.

The veranda with trim
The veranda with trim

The plan is to apply black plastic tubing on the roof that creates little rain-catch gutters.  These will be placed on the roof from the front and wrap around to the back.  It’s a pretty genius idea if you ask me.  In the couple rains we’ve had, we’ve caught a tremendous amount of water, which Aaron says is still not enough and we’ll catch so much more when we get more underlayment on the porch.  In the mornings, we hear the drip drip drip of dew off the roof.

Trim board gives a finished look
Trim board gives a finished look

Notice all those pallets in the background?  There were 3 piles, each stacked about 5 pallets taller.  Yeah, I’m a badass board-harvester!  The sound of the hammer hitting the pry-bar is quite jarring so I stick my earbuds in and listen to oodles of podcasts and audio books.  They’re not noise-cancelling ear buds, so I can still hear the kids and Aaron, when he beckons for charged batteries from atop the roof.

Also on the roof, the boys began adding to the tallest topper.  It will eventually have operable windows to let heat out in the summer.  I remember my dad’s house having a roof-fan that he would turn on before giving in to the air conditioning in the summer.  It would create quite a pull from the windows up through the roof.  I am excited for that to conspire in our house.  There is also a possibility that we’ll construct a platform inside so that one can look out from the windows up there.

Beginning the window topper
Beginning the window topper

Good news!  We found a secular homeschool group!  We do have to drive an hour and a half to get to it, but their science and geography clubs only meet once a month.  I can time my midwife appointments to occur on one of those days and we only have to make the drive once a month.  The only thing is, we have to choose whether we want to continue with science or geography.  Having a degree in geography myself will play no part in this decision.  It will be entirely up to the 10 year old.  So far, we’ve only been to the geography meeting, but I think next month we’ll go for science.  There is also a facebook book club for the parents, which I am super excited about.  We met some great people that were very welcoming and many of them expressed interest in our earthbag home.  My mind is brimming with ideas for lots of little people making miniature earthbag structures out of clay, building roman arches with cardboard boxes, and playing in cob.

Speaking of little people, the boys had fabulous Halloween costumes this year; Julius was Julius Caesar, and Mason was and a pirate.  It’s the end of November and we still have candy.  Mostly those pathetic excuses for chocolate, tootsie rolls, but a show of a generous Halloween nonetheless.

Little Caesar and Cap'n Mason
Little Caesar and Cap’n Mason

Thanksgiving was a little less exciting, but notable still, because it was our first one in the home we built.  It was just us, while our family has only 4 people.  We had a candlelit dinner with ham, cheesy broccoli rice, a delicious salad with lacinato or dinosaur kale, and local wine.  We talked about Native Americans and some of the real history that occurred around the first Thanksgiving.  I imagine that as the kids get older, we’ll put more emphasis on remembering Native Americans and their struggle in this land of theirs.

Amidst all the exciting news last month, I forgot to mention our new propane tank.  It’s a 500 gallon refurbished tank and Aaron calculated that with our propane fridge consumption, it’ll last 4 years!  When we get an oven range, it will also use propane, so that will take away from the 4 years, but even 3 years sounds good to me.


We dug a trench and buried the line from the tank to the house.  Aaron has it almost ready inside to be hooked up to the fridge.  It comes in through the pantry.  For now, we’ll finish off the small propane bottle that is currently hooked up to the fridge.

In other news, I have completed my research on couples and building unconventional homes.  I didn’t get as many responses to the survey as I would have liked, but I worked with what I had.  If you’re subscribed to the blog, you’ll get an e-mail with that post.  If you’re not subscribed, you’ll be able to access that post from the drop-down menu on the main page of the website labeled Earthbag Build.  That post ended up being uplifting and insightful, I think.  Check it out and let me know what you think.

Also, I was inspired to write a poem about partnership building.  I haven’t written any poetry for years, so I thought I should give it a try.  I called the poem Share the Work and you can find it here or by checking the drop-down menu labeled Musings.

Books we read in November of 2016:

My list: A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle

Between You and Me: Confession of a Comma Queen by Mary Norris

Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life by Anne Lamott

The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate Dicamillo

Pooh: A House at Pooh Corner by A. A. Milne

Julius’ List:

Ranger’s Apprentice books 7: Erak’s Ransom, and 8: Kings of Clonmel by John Flanagan

The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel: Book 3: The Sorceress, by Michael Scott

Percy Jackson’s Greek Gods by Rick Riordan

Aaron’s List:

The Seven Realms series (4 books in all): The Demon King, The Exiled Queen, The Gray Wolf Throne, and The Crimson Crown, by Cinda Williams Chima.

Mason’s List: (Too numerous to list them all.  Here are his favorites)

The Story about Ping by Marjorie Flack

The Ox Cart Man by Donald Hall and gorgeous pictures by Barbara Cooney (Caldecott)

One of Each by Mary Ann Hoberman

Hand Hand Fingers Thumb by Al Perkins.


Looking ahead to next month, we’ll be cutting the remaining logs we need to complete the porch and continue work on the west room topper.  We also have one more double pane glass window to install.  If there is any extra time and the conditions are right, we’ll continue work on our front yard.  Oh yeah, we have a front yard decoration now:

My dad sent this cool solar light peacock spinner for our yard
My dad sent this cool solar light peacock spinner for our yard

Stay warm, readers.  Unless you live in Key West, and then, stay cool.  Happy Homesteading!




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2 thoughts on “Reflections on November, 2016”

  1. Hey Alison, I’m an earth bag builder and chocolate lover also and would be glad to send you some chocolate! I have an unopened stash I can’t eat right now because of stomach problems. I love your blog and really look forward to your updates and pictures! I live in Georgia and if you email me your address I’ll get some chocolate in the mail for you. Do you like dark or milk chocolate? I’m mostly a dark chocolate lover, myself. Cheers!


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Hey.  I’m Alison; author, artist, and off-grid homeschooling mama of three.  I love painting, exploring the outdoors, and a hoppy IPA.  My partner and I work together to bring this website and blog to you.  We hope you enjoy!