Holistically Organized Multidisciplinary Endeavors Farm

Reflections on March, 2018

paint job front door latex valspar earthen paint pillars cat baby gate home farm motivaton

March: Motivation, Baby!

What a fantastic month we’ve had here on the farm and off!  The weather has been steadily getting warmer and so has our interior home and comfort level.  I’ve been kicking ass on the cobbing and plastering and ol’ hubs has been gathering all the materials and preparing for the solar installation.  We went off-farm for some outdoor soul-replenishing, musically-enhanced, motivation excursions.  We also made an important discovery for the longevity of our floors and exterior walls.

Floor Advancements

The Radon Seal we put on the floor inside the middle room seems to be hardening it.  While it can be swept, (I have never felt so satisfied with sweeping in my life!), it is not mopable.  It is less of a sealer, and more of a stabilizer.  Good for exterior floors and maybe windowsills, but not long-term interior floors.  Aaron has been “on the horn” a lot, trying to find another spray-on sealer, with great success!  Behold, PS 101 Siliconate:

PS 101 concrete sealer home farm motivation earthen floor
A new additive for exterior plaster?

So far, we have applied this to a board painted with our earthen paint, and after 2 applications, water beads up on the surface!  It doesn’t absorb.  Like the other stuff, Radon Seal (see last month’s blog) it has no smell or color, but allows breathability.  This is good for earthbag walls.  You want moisture to be able to escape, but not get in.  But PS 101, being a siliconate, penetrates into the pores of the concrete, and actually seals the surface.

We’ve also applied it to straight up cob, or fat plaster (the stuff with straw), and earthen paint.  On both surfaces, after one application, water does stick to the surface, but after a second application, which requires some pushing and smearing with a paintbrush to achieve penetration, it resists water!  Amazing!  Now Aaron is testing different mixtures of this stuff with our Aliz paint (subsoils and wheat flour) and applying it to the exterior walls to get a water-resistant envelope on the house.  This video shows how the water beads up on the surface instead of soaking in.  It should be pretty obvious which bags have the sealer (the ones not absorbing water) and the ones that don’t.

 

Some Crucial Cobbing and Plastering Updates

Remember the giant semi-truck tires we used under the archways?  We felt like bigger tires would better support the weight of the arches and the junctions of the two circular rooms.  They were quite a feat to fill with gravel.  Now that we’re walled up and beautifying the rooms, we still have these exposed tires.

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Remember these giant semi-truck tires?

We’ve weighed lots of different options for covering; granite scrap facades, smoothing over with cob, painting, or simply leaving them bare.

stem wall cob cover earthbag build
How to cover the exposed tire stem wall?

We have brought the arches down to the floor with cob to cover most of the tire.  At this point, I’m liking the idea of sculpting these little block areas to cover them.  Perhaps they’ll get a little pattern or picture sculpted into them?

tire stem wall, earthbag building, home-farm, off-grid, cob, motivation
Creative cover for exposed tires?

 

tire stem wall earthbag home oklahoma cob plaster
Tire stem wall gets a facade

Earthen Paint

For those of you who are texturally stimulated, and can’t make it here to see what all this cob and plaster and earthen paint feels like, I think these pictures give a pretty good feel.  These are all close-ups of the spice rack above the stove.

fresh plaster wheat paste home farm earthen plaster
Fresh plaster (manure, subsoil, wheat paste)
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Manure plaster after 48 hours

At this point, I use scraping tools to get a smoother finish.  Sometimes sand paper does the trick too.  This task can get pretty dusty, but the manure smell is totally gone.

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After smoothing, the earthen paint goes on

It is quite textured.  At this point, sanding or rubbing with another rough surface can smooth the lines.  However, Aaron is convincing me that the lines are desirable.  I suppose if we spent the time rubbing all the surfaces, we would a) be able to see all the little imperfections and b) be really exhausted.

This picture below of the middle room archway shows some varying natural paint colors.  The far left is straight up granite dust with wheat paste.  It is a little too grey-white for our taste.  But we definitely want a light color to brighten the kitchen area and reflect some of the strong natural light from the south windows.  The upper middle color is 75% subsoil and 25% granite dust mixed with the wheat paste.  It is our favorite color for the background of most of that room, excluding the kitchen area.  The archway is 100% subsoil with wheat paste.  We call it red, and it is what our archways and front door pillars are painted.  So, we think a mixture of 50% granite dust and 50% subsoil with wheat paste might be just the right amount of brightness for the kitchen area.  Any thoughts?

earthen paint earthbag building home farm motivation
Archway gets a coat of earthen paint

We don’t limit ourselves to earthen paints around here.  This one is called well water, by Valspar.  Originally, I wanted more of a turquoise.  I just love those adobe homes in New Mexico with those bold reds and turquoises.  However, this door gets so much light (facing south) that at times, you wouldn’t be able to tell it even had color at all.  So Aaron chose this lighter, brighter color and I think it really pops nicely.  Also, in this picture, you can see the front door pillars with the red earthen paint (100% subsoil).

paint job front door latex valspar earthen paint pillars cat baby gate home farm motivaton
Front door paint job with “well water” by Valspar

Here’s another shot of earthen paint color variations:

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Red earthen paint on the archway

This picture shows the nice deep red of our subsoil on the shorter archway, the hanging pan rack that I am so pleased with, and my dad, taking a picture of my son, asleep in the window seat. This was the latest visit from my Illinois parents for Kyias’ 1st birthday.  Which brings me to the books of the month.

Books of the Month

Kyias, who celebrated his first birthday this month on Pi day, got some great little board books.  He is a master at turning pages.

board books, home farm, 1st birthday, kyias, motivation,
Board books for this little one’s first birthday

Mason (3)

Our local library had their annual book sale for a few days and then it turned into a free-for-all book binge.  We came home with more books than we have room for.  Mason picked one book in particular that I almost said no to.  Kat Kong, by Dav Pilkey is quite hilarious, despite it’s hideous cover and title.  I used some very over-the-top voices for all the cat puns in this book.  Very funny.

Julius (11)

I picked out some books from the library give away for Julius that were a hit.  He read the first 2 books in the Clovermead series by David Randall.  He also finished Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of Nimh by Robert C. O’Brien.  He also thoroughly enjoyed The Apothecary and The Apprentices by Maile Meloy.

Me

Gretchen Rubin’s The Four Tendencies is my second self-help-ish book of the year.  Though, it really is more of a personality book, it does highlight some things about each tendency for self-help.  So this framework fits people into one of four tendencies depending on how we meet inner and outer expectations.  I couldn’t quite pin it from her online quiz, but after reading the book, I now realize that I am an obliger.  This means that I am fairly good at meeting outer expectations, but fail to meet my own.  For example, if it weren’t for you readers (my outer accountability) I probably would not be committed to writing this blog every month.  On the same token, I made a New Years resolution to practice yoga twice a week.  Guess how many times I’ve done it?  Three.  Anyway, I love for people to fit into tidy boxes.  If you find yourself categorizing people like I do, this book will tickle your fancy.

We’ve actually been swimming in new books this month.  My Georgia earthbag building friend sent us a care package of book treasures she found at book sales.  One of them that has been on my TBR for quite some time is Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury.  I am halfway through it and am impressed by Bradbury’s concept of the future, especially the little shells that people fit into their ears!  These are of course, our modern day earbuds!

Aaron

This guy has been so busy learning coding with Julius that he hasn’t done much reading.  He has dabbled in Neil Degrasse Tyson’s Space Chronicles: Facing the Ultimate Frontier.

Notes from the Homeschool Desk

As homeschool parents, we uncover certain proficiencies which are overlooked when a child goes to public school for 4 years and then comes home.  For instance, one has to be taught how to take notes.  I have years and years of experience taking notes in high school and college and I completely forgot that somewhere along the way, I had to learn that skill.  I was looking through Julius’ notebooks from science and history and I realized that he had been writing paragraphs (in his own words) when I told him to take notes.  So this month, I sat down with him and we took notes together, making headings and subheadings and underlining important words.  We used different colored pens to make it more fun and he said two things that I wish to remember forever:

“Wow,  you’re really good at taking notes.”

And…

“This is fun!”

Now, for other homeschool parents out there, you realize that this is a payday.  For those who don’t, let me explain.  Being a homeschool teacher is a part-time and sometimes full-time job, depending on varying family dynamics and the age of the children.  Only we don’t get paid.  Not even our country’s unfortunate measly teacher salary.  So, our paydays are when our kids grasp concepts or say things like “This is fun!”

Other Outings

Since we had a special friend visit this month, I decided we should take her to the Museum of the Great Plains.  We love this museum!  There is a giant replica of a bison that has removable parts so you can learn about how native Americans used practically every inch of the animal.  They have an early 1900’s replica of a general store with pretend food, money and grocery lists.  They also have a print shop and a huge crafty area where you can pretty much make-build-glue-color-tape whatever kind of craft you’re feeling up to.  So as always, we enjoyed that off-farm outing as well.

museum of the great plains, home-farm, motivation, off-grid kids,
Museum of the Great Plains

I had heard that Oklahoma’s budget was going to cut out some important tourism activities.  Why must education and nature be the first to go?  Anyway, I was pleased to discover that Red Rock Canyon State Park is not closing.  We made a brief visit up there and got some hiking in.

red rock canyon state park oklahoma
Red Rock Canyon State Park

Motivational Tunes of the Month

Papadosio is electronic mostly, but it has this openness to it, and usually lacks words, so it’s great for cobbing and plastering in a creative headspace.

Dirtwire is new to me.  It’s kind of all over the place as far as genre, but essentially I would call it electronic cowboy music, if you can dig it.  And we’re building with dirt so…

Spotify’s playlists Happy Folk and Ultimate Indie are also fueling our house-building stimulus.

And it is pertinent that I add one of our most important outings to this month’s blog because it was exceptionally motivating to my creativity and overall outlook on life.  We packed up the car and drove 40 minutes away to a free music festival in Medicine Park, Oklahoma for Parkstomp!  It was a blast, even with my 1 year old hip attachment.  We heard Steamboat Bandits from Kansas City, LOTS of bands simply jamming in the campground after hours, and our very favorite bluegrass outfit, Arkansauce.  We came back super tired and slept most of the first day, but awoke the next with a rejuvenated mindset that will surely spill over into April when we will kick more ass on the beautification and functionality of our home.

Medicine Park Oklahoma earthbag build home farm motivation
Mason, hooping at Parkstomp

 

Arkansauce home farm earthbag build oklahoma motivation
Arkansauce at Medicine Park 2018

Peace friends and family!

Happy Homesteading!

 

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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!