Holistically Organized Multidisciplinary Endeavors Farm

Reflections on April, 2024

Cover photo Home Farm Blog Reflections on April 2024

April showers bring wind and more showers! Our garden is loving the mix of rain and sun. The trees are loving it too. One of the first trees we planted, a honey locust, is nearing the top of the tube already! This is the most tree growth we’ve seen in a season at HOME Farm ever. The potential for an actual food forest is so high right now. Our hopes are high too. I can’t wait for windbreak, shade, and fruit!

The Month of Mulch

Most of April was spent mulching trees. Trips to the local dumpsters for cardboard, and trips to the giant pile of woodchips filled our every day. Of all the tree planting jobs, mulching takes the longest. When it’s windy, the much blows off the pitchfork and into my eyes, and the cardboard flies up off the tree before I can dump the bucket. Very frustrating. Other days, it’s a peaceful process, and I say hello to each tree as I spread the mulch around it. “Look at you! You’re looking wonderful, and you’re going to grow so well here,” I like to tell them. Tangential and hilarious article about bullying plants can be found here.

https://www.facebook.com/reel/876143247603319 (A reel I made about planting trees on our new HOME Farm Facebook Page).

row of piles of mulch
One of many rows of mulched trees

The kids helped with mulching several days and we got to teach them about the different types of trees and how each one will benefit the others, the reasons for mulching the trees; keeping the soil cool, preventing weed pressure, and retaining soil moisture. They also got to learn about how to work together as a team; our standard operating procedure which includes having at least 10 inches of cardboard on either side of the tree, and only one person filling buckets while another spreads the mulch around each plant. A great experience for our whole family, but I’m glad that phase is over. Now, as Mark Shepard says, initiate STUN phase: Shear Total Utter Neglect, from his book Restoration Agriculture. This method helps us select for the plants that are best acclimated to our environment. If we baby them, we will all have a harder time keeping them alive. Only the strong will survive.

sunset and cat on pickup truck
Morris hanging out while we mulch trees

Chicken Update

After lots of discussion and research about how to build an incubator, we decided to buy one from Amazon. Wanting to increase our flock rapidly, we needed to get some eggs incubating. After adding several eggs to the machine, and generally trying it out, we sort of remembered that our boxes of chicks from Atwoods were labeled “pullets.” If you don’t speak chicken, this means females who aren’t laying eggs yet. Ha ha. We definitely had eggs, but none were fertile. So, we got a rooster from the marketplace. He doesn’t have a name yet. We are open to suggestions.

Rooster
Mr. Rooster

So far he and the hens get along nicely, but I’m sure the hens appreciate the small “doorways” between fence areas. We have the Aviary; a high tunnel built with hog panel, the Fruit Tree garden, and the Garden-garden. They also have a short chicken tunnel that borders the garden to patrol for grasshoppers. All these areas have small openings in the fences so we can let them into other areas, depending on their dietary needs and how much impact they are having on the ground. Our ladies can sufficiently get away from Mr. Rooster if they want to, for now. He is not proficient at getting through or even finding these openings.

Rooster separated from hens
Mr. Rooster meeting the hens

Styrofoamcrete Progress

Progress on the kitchen floor is slow. Our foam chopper machine was clogged for a bit. That’s fixed now. Mostly we were just too busy getting those trees mulched. I’d say we are nearly half done with the foamcrete portion of the floor. It’s quite an inconvenient obstacle course in there right now. But we have accumulated lots of Styrofoam, thanks to the Home Zone furniture store. While rummaging in the dumpster one day, the manager came out and said hello. Aaron told him about our project and he said he’d be happy to hold the big pieces of Styrofoam for us. Every two weeks we stop by and pick up a load. This way we don’t have to rummage through dumpsters (this is frowned upon by most passerby and many store managers). And the guys there are always accommodating and friendly. Shout out to Home Zone of Lawton!

Morris the cat under a pile of styrofoam Reflections on April
Morris snuggles safely under a pile of styrofoam

If you are thinking of making some foamcrete, but are apprehensive about dumpster diving, here’s a tip. Go into the store and inquire about their foam waste. Ask if you can have a look in their dumpster. Most places don’t really care as long as you don’t throw trash on the ground around the dumpster, obviously. And sometimes you get lucky and the manager will schedule pickup days for you, or get your number and give you holler when they have accumulated a lot. It doesn’t have to be a shady experience where you feel like a criminal. You’re literally deterring waste from the landfill. Thank you for your service!

Schooling/Unschooling

This month, Kyias (7) completed all the levels of ABC Mouse. Now he is focusing on spelling, reading, and grammar with Night Zookeeper Language Arts Curriculum, and a times-tables app on my phone. Even though we unschool, my kids know they must memorize their times-tables. Of all the useless math I’ve drilled into my head, being able to multiply numbers is something I use nearly everyday, so that’s a non-negotiable around here. More on Unschooling here.

Mason (9) is continuing Spanish with Duolingo, and has leveled up to Python on Khan Academy, though they don’t make the lessons fast enough; he is plowing through them. He read a book called The Sea of Trolls, by Nancy Farmer, that involves Norse mythology. He’s taking a break from his usual Greek mythology podcast, Greeking Out. At night time we’ve been reading several books about Ramadan, and Islam in general. The giant world map gets lots of attention these nights, as every time we read about a different country or continent, I ask the boys if they can locate it.

And our big boy, who is now 17, finished work on his motorized bicycle and rode it to Senior prom! He donned a real shnazzy outfit and rolled up to the dance on his super cool bike. was probably the most interesting kid to ride up to prom, not in a traditional vehicle. He’ll graduate high school next month! We are equally proud and terrified of what’s to come next. Sometimes I wish I could apologize to my mother for all the worry I caused her when I was a teen, because I fully appreciate that worry now as the parent of a teen. I’d say he’s done less crazy stuff than I did as a teen, if you can imagine me being wild. I shouldn’t jinx it though. He’s a good kid, and I hope he often comes back to the farm to visit. I pray that he has good memories growing up here, even though most of that experience was in a half-built dirt castle with no running water or internet. I’ll bet he’s stronger and more imaginative for it.

teen on his motorized bike, dressed for Prom
Prom 2024

Whether you’re a homesteader or not, I’d love to hear your thoughts on what it’s like when teens leave the nest in the comments below!

Peace out readers!

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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!