Holistically Organized Multidisciplinary Endeavors Farm

We’re back after a long blogging break!  If you’re a regular reader and have missed the monthly Reflections blog, thanks for coming back!  If you’re new to the blog, welcome!  Say hello in the comments.  

We have been so utterly busy there has just not been time to sit and write, until December.  Lucky for you, I am an experienced photographer of life’s labors; the lovely and the not so lovely.  It’s either all progress, or learning.  No mistakes are made without great insight.

Hemp

The largest chunk of our time this summer has been the production of 6 acres of hemp.  You can read more about this amazing plant in this post.  Starting from seed and earth, we built a propagation house, or hoop house as we call it.  Aaron and his dad used discarded oil field pipe to build the hoops.  The hoop house was up so fast and then in came the pallet tables that Aaron built with cedar logs. 

hoophouse built for hemp babies, reflections 2019
Hoop house construction

After purchasing trays, we spent a few long spring days planting the babies.  The first round had some disappointing germination rates due to the learning curve of watering and the heat in the hoop house.  The second batch of seeds germinated much better.  Then we spent all of June out there opening the sides to vent the hot air and allow sunlight at the appropriate times. 

Once the plants were the optimal height, we transplanted into the field at night with the watermelon planter machine.  Now, we thought there might be some downtime once we got them in the ground, but behold, they needed pretty consistent watering and fertilization, not to mention mowing between the rows, and checking for hermaphrodites and males. 

mower in hemp field, reflections 2019
Mowing between the rows

Once October rolled around, it was time for harvest.  Aaron and his dad hired a crew of locals to help with this process and met some new friends and colleagues in this way.  Bringing in the harvest was tricky and we tried several methods, all of them involving a pickup truck with a flatbed attachment to get them to the drying and curing facility.  Once there, our new friends trimmed the plants down to the colas, while others hung them on nets to dry. 

harvested plants on truck bed cbd hemp
Bringing in the hemp harvest
harvesting, reflections 2019, home farm
Harvest crew

We used a couple of fun machines to facilitate the trimming process.  The Ultimate bud bucker pulled the buds off of longer stems.  The trimmer, the Twister T4, rolled the buds through a basket and trimmed off the leaves, while also removing seeds and kief.  All the product had to be bagged, boxed, and weighed.  All the boxes had to be labeled and the proper temperature and humidity levels attained and maintained. 

Trimming

Now, experimentation is happening with extracting CBD oil from the plant matter.  Gummies, dog treats, soaps, tinctures, and dabs are very possible products coming in the near future!   You’ll soon be seeing a shopping cart up in the corner of this website where you can purchase our products.  Home Farm Hemp, LLC are very excited for this new endeavor!  

Out With the Old, In With the New

Some of you are wondering about my dream job at the library.  It was such a change of pace to go to a quiet, air conditioned, and clean building everyday, to organize, sort, and order books.  Assisting patrons in finding books was extremely rewarding, and leading the book club made my bookish heart happy.  Unfortunately it was an unhealthy environment for my mental well-being.  I was threatened, yelled at, shamed, and forced to censor my personal blog! 

From the beginning, there were red flags about previous mentally abusive relationships.  I should have listened to my gut earlier on.  In the first month, I thought I’ll try this out for a year.  In the next month, I told myself If I can just stick this out for 6 months….  And later, I will make it through this week!  After only 3 and a half months, I quit. 

It made me look at all the employees in day to day life; the cashier at the grocery store, the attendant at the toll booth, my dental hygienist, the hotel cleaning personnel.  I wonder if their superiors treat them like genuine respected, human beings.  I sincerely hope that you all have the financial independence and courage to walk away from relationships or jobs that no longer serve you or help you grow.  No family member, boss, friend, or lover is worth your psychological well-being.

If you can relate to my issues at the workplace, but you’re not sure whether it’s “in your head” or not, read this article on The Red Flags That You’re Working for an Emotionally Abusive Boss.  And here are options for What You Can Do About It.  If those don’t work, please get out of that environment.  It’s not worth your mental health.

Finding Peace in Books

Bookish environments need not be stressful.  They should be carefully curated places of peace and adventure.  Our built-in book case is finally looking like the cozy organized display shelf I dreamed it would be.  It is central in the living room, grabbing the attention of bookish guests. 

bookcase reflections on 2019 home farm
Evolving home library

I feel so Thoreau-like in writing about my bookcase, but it brings me such simple joy to organize the books by subject, author, and color.  I can add and remove books and decorations as I please and be very thoughtful about my choices.  There are more books still in storage, and so the shelves will evolve overtime, but this bookcase is a shining example of the joy of being intentional about what to keep, what to give away, and what to display.

bookcase reflections on 2019 home farm earthbag build books
Organization amongst chaos

House Progress

It’s nice to have an organized epicenter in the chaos that is building a house out of dirt.  I took the bookcase photo after a vigorous dusting.  In fact, if you see any photos on this blog that look clean, it’s because I dusted the shit out of the area beforehand.  I wonder how much the dust will still be a problem after we install some more substantial flooring.  Our natural building friends online say that the dust can be reduced, but mostly it’s just part of living this way.  I think I can deal with it.

Tiles

At least one floor will be dust free very soon.  We’ve been visiting all the Habitat for Humanity Restores when we drive through major cities.  While on a Dallas family adventure earlier this year, we found some ceramic floor tile for the kitchen!  I have watched enough YouTube videos to be a pro, although none of them explained how to tile over soil-cement.  We’ll just treat the tiling project as if the sub-floor is concrete, laying a self-leveling compound first, and then the mortar and tiles.  These 12×12 ceramic tiles were 24.99 a box. Thanks to the magic of Habitat for Humanity, we got 11 boxes for $100!

boxes of ceramic tile
For the kitchen

Food Storage

Since we last connected through the blogsphere, we purchased a 24 cubic foot deep freeze!  It sits behind the house, in the shade, set up with a photo eye sensor so it doesn’t try to run at night.  The outlet the freezer plugs into is turned on by the photo eye when light is present (i.e. the sun) and automatically shuts off when the sensor tells it the sun is going down.  After watching the internal temperature during the hot days and nights, we feel safe knowing the meat will stay frozen even if we have several hot, cloudy days.

24 cubic foot deep freeze on solar
24 Cubic Foot deep freeze runs on Solar

Window Treatments

We also decided we could afford some blinds for the kitchen and living room.  Because our light source comes exclusively from one side of the room, there is always this problem of shadowy faces during the day.  And squinting to see when you’re facing the windows.  This has always annoyed me, and I know one solution is to install skylights in the kitchen.  Hubby is not into cutting a whole in the ceiling for some reason, so blinds are the next best solution. 

We went with the Home Depot faux wood 2 inch slat blinds, a light color in the kitchen and a dark espresso in the living room.  I love them!  They add to the aesthetic and finished look of the windows, filter the light, and help with temperature regulation.  We installed the espresso blinds in the living room on a hot day and felt the temperature difference immediately.

front of house and blinds in windows
Blinds, from the outside

Summer Camp

Our oldest son ventured out to Oregon in August for Not Back to School Camp.  I heard about this homeschool/unschool camp for teens on Blake Boles’ Off Trail Learning podcast.  It is a two-week camp for teens 13-17 that focuses on the independence and self-direction of the campers rather than a schedule set up by staff.  The teens are encouraged to facilitate workshops set up other campers and to design their own when they’re ready.  Most campers reminisce this experience as the highlight of their teen summers and many return as staff when they age out. 

I got him on the waitlist back in March and they confirmed our spot a couple weeks later.  Julius agreed to pay part of his tuition and helped with flight plans.  First year campers have an option to stay one week to feel it out and stay a second if they are having a blast.  A couple of days into camp, our 13 year old called and said, “I’ve got the money to stay the 2nd week.  Can I?”  Totally. 

unaccompanied minor 13 nbtsc
Delta: OKC to SLC to EUG

The return ride that we had secured from a friend fell through.  It turns out that flying solo as a minor on interstate flights takes quite a bit more fenagelling.  Some airlines require an extra fee for unaccompanied minors and have very particular rules about safety and travel.  An example is that the return flight has to arrive before 6pm and they can’t have more than one connecting flight or layover, in a 24-hour period.  That being said, I felt he was safe the whole time. 

nbtsc 2019 alaska airlines
Julius and some of the NBTSC crew

And because the cheapest and most convenient flight landed in Denver, this allowed an impromptu mini vacation for Mason and I!  We drove up there to pick up our little camper at his Uncle’s house in Colorado Springs.  We get our travelling on even when we’re busy, I tell ya.  We can’t keep our asses in one place for long.  

Colorado Adventure 

The little guy stayed home with Daddy while Mason and I drove up to Colorado.  He was so excited to see the mountains!  My brother and his lovely partner took very good care of us during our stay, of course and treated us to lunch at Streetcar 520 in downtown COS.  We hiked around Red Rocks Outdoor Space as well as Garden of the Gods. 

Red Rocks Open Space boys on fence
Red Rocks Open Space

I have so many happy memories from the 2 years I lived in the Springs and I love sharing this beautiful place with my boys.  We also checked out the new-to-me America the Beautiful park and brushed up on our pinball wizarding at the Manitou Springs Penny Arcade.  And it was just as much fun riding in the car on the way back to Oklahoma, listening to Julius tell us about camp, and listening to audiobooks.  

Garden of the Gods mom and son
Garden of the Gods

Website

This last month of 2019, I was able to spend a significant amount of time revamping the website in preparation for our e-commerce market.  I made some big changes and I’d love for you to peak around at the new format and visuals and let me know what you think.  I changed themes from the old Atahualpa to Generate Press, and set up Elementor as my theme builder.  It has been so much fun learning how to manipulate and customize the backgrounds, menus, posts, templates, and functional elements.  If you are not familiar with web design jargon, that last bit probably made little sense, but I assure you, this new toolkit is the bees knees.  This link takes you to the homepage.

Our Favorite Books of 2019

I admit, 2019 has been a doozy of a reading year.  I sure hope to get my reading life back in order in 2020.  But here are the notable pieces of literature we had the pleasure of enjoying.

Read Alouds

Hello Universe, by Erin Entrada Kelly was our audiobook experience on the way back from Colorado.  It’s a middlegrade novel about unlikely friendships with multiple points of view and a boy who falls in a well.  We started The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street, which I was loving, but the littles just couldn’t get into it for some reason.  We’ll give it another shot later.  They did really enjoy the first book in the Penderwick series.  

We’ve been keeping to our nightly picture books as well.  Big Mama Makes the World by Phyllis Root, and Sir Ryan’s Quest by Jason Deeble standout as beloved re-reads. 

My Picks

The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri and A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith were the bookclub picks I read at the beginning of the year.  James Dashner’s Maze Runner was one I would never pick up on my own (thanks, fleeting library job) but enjoyed the intensity and cinematic feel.  Aaron and Julius also read that one.  I have also had tidbits of time to skim through Rachel Rainbolt’s Sage Parenting Book, which is a great accompaniment to her adored podcast. 

The Real Reader of the Family

Julius joined a teen book club at a different library that he enjoyed a lot and we plan to attend in 2020.  There, he was introduced to Boots on the Ground: America’s War in Vietnam, by Elizabeth Partridge, What the Night Sings by Vesper Stamper.   Outside of bookclub he read: Walk on Earth a S­tranger, The ­Girl of ­Fire and Thorns, The Crown of Embers (Rae Carson), Shadowcaster, Deathcaster, and Flamecaster by Cinda Williams Chima, Theodore Boone: Kid Lawyer by John Grisham, Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech, Tales from the Shadowhunter Academy and Clockwork Prince by Cassandra Claire, Tiger Moon by Antonia Michealis.  I’m sure I’m missing a few.   

Our Last Adventure of 2019

This year we decided to totally ditch Christmas and ventured down to Austin Texas for camping and hiking instead.  We saw Austin’s way-overpriced lights display, visited the Thinkery children’s museum, relaxed at a huge park while the kiddos played, and hiked around Mckinney Falls.  The hike was the best part and just what we needed to get a breath of nature. 

family amongst tree roots texas
Getting back to our roots
austin texas family adventure reflections 2019
Family Adventure

What’s Next

Intentions for 2020:

  • Set up an online shop for CBD sales
  • Grow even a little bit of food
  • Adventures all around
  • More focus on self-care
  • Blog more
  • Continue to invite learning moments for the kiddos
  • Read more
  • Smash those floors!

Thanks for following along guys!  May there be plenty of inspiration to fuel your endeavors in 2020!  

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2 thoughts on “Reflections on 2019”

  1. I love your writing. I admire you and your wonderful family. I hope on my next go round that I am born into a family like yours.
    Much love
    Glena

    Reply

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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!