Holistically Organized Multidisciplinary Endeavors Farm

Reflections on February, 2016

earthbag home pallet roof decking

Note: This blog was posted on the day that only exists every four years, February 29th.

Feeling much less like winter than December and January, February has bestowed on us 1 day of rain, 1 day that topped out at 82, and many days with an average temp of 55-65.  Pretty consistently though, it has been windy every other day.

Little green grasses have started popping up in between last year’s tall dry stalks.  Someone told me that the groundhog popped out of his hole and took a little nature walk, so, as ridiculous as it is to base our future weather patterns on the habits of a large rodent, I think the assumption is correct.  Spring is upon us.

This feeling makes me want to do a large number of the following;

devise an elaborate multi-season garden plan,

create itineraries for the many trips I’d like us to take this summer,

build numerous bird houses,

purchase and plant 10 or maybe 80 trees, shrubs, and bushes,

erect a gazebo with a reciprocal frame and plant many different flowers and edibles to trail up it,

order bees, chickens, and more guineas, and maybe a peacock,


draw up plans for an outdoor rocket-stove fueled earthbag hottub.

That’s all.

What will likely happen over the next few months is that we’ll get our roof finished, install our beautiful windows, and begin our “real” indoor bathroom.  Necessities trump creative whims… for now anyway.  A few trees may get transplanted from the creek to up here nearer the house, and at least one summer get-away will ensue, I’m sure of it.

A sure sign of continuing comfort on the homestead is that it becomes more difficult to get out and do work.  Knowing we have a cozy atmosphere in which to lounge makes it harder to see the big picture of our house build.  There have been a few instances where we stopped work early or didn’t go out at all, because we just didn’t feel like it.  There is a bit of guilt that follows, but we’ve decided to chalk it up to February, as if she has granted us a tiny window in which we can hide from the world.  Now March, with her longer days and warmer temps will not stand for that same luxury.  I say her but now I’m thinking March might be a man.  Anyway, when March arrives, we will settle for no excuses!

We have continued our work on the roof and I am pleased to say we are almost done with the decking for the immediate roof and wall cover.  We will extend out with more decking for our wrap-around overhang, but the interior of the house will be completely covered with pallet slats very soon.  We began the underlayment on the middle room in February’s last week.

More underlayment
More underlayment

As we were applying the sticky stuff to the middle roof, I couldn’t help but look at the west roof’s pitch and wonder how in the heck we’ll get underlayment and insulation on there without any of it, or anybody, falling off.

Moving forward with the decking
Moving forward with the decking

In the front of the house, where the windows are, (left and south side) you can see the end-point of the pallet decking.   On the front of the west and middle rooms, there are windows which will allow solar heating in the winter.  These areas will only get about a 4 foot overhang.  The rest of the house will have a wrap-around porch that will overhang approximately 10 feet.

Further along in February’s progress:

earthbag home with pallet decking on roof
Decking and trim
earthbag home pallet roof decking
Making the roof look smooth and sleek.

On one of February’s warmer days, we wandered to an undisclosed location to check on a tree that Aaron believes is a “soap berry tree.”  Sapindus drummondii, or the Western Soap Berry has these little hollow golden berries that contain a natural saponin, or soap.  We collected some of these neat little guys and are eager to try them out in the washing machine.  I have used soap nuts before and they seemed to get the clothes clean, without a scented laundry soap smell of course.  They are supposed to be excellent for people with sensitive skin, and have been used as a lice treatment for centuries in India, where they originate.

Climbing for Soap Nuts
Climbing for Soap Nuts
boy in tree collecting soap nuts
A “grove” of soap nuts trees.

Mushrooms have been on the menu a lot this month.  Pearl Oysters.  Mostly I’ll fry them in butter and add them to scrambled eggs, but I’ve also added them to open-faced sandwiches with melted cheesiness.

Mushrooms on the menu
Mushrooms on the menu

We know it’s time to pick them when they begin to drop their spore-load.  This is a visible soft mist that descends from the hymenium (aka gills) and resembles a fairy’s shower, if you can imagine that.  My husband tells me that this spore-load can have a negative effect on the respiratory system of some people.  We haven’t noticed any ill effects but we harvest them with a quickness.

A whole-new paradigm has been transpiring at H.O.M.E. Farm that I am excited to tell you about.  I believe I may have mentioned it in one of our posts about moving to Oklahoma.  We have come to the point in our homesteading adventure that we feel comfortable with homeschooling our children.  It seems like such a natural progression, to go from a home-birth, to breastfeeding, to being responsible for our children’s education, at home.

Schooling myself to homeschool my children
Schooling myself to homeschool my children

I haven’t been this excited about something since we started drawing up plans for our house.  I have read books, blogs, and forums, subscribed to newsletters and podcasts, as well as facebook groups.  I have compared and analyzed the many styles of homeschooling and have decided on an eclectic mix of Classical Education, Charlotte Mason, and a hint of unschooling.  If these don’t mean anything to you, they will, if you choose to follow along with our homeschooling blog.  This will be added to the menu sometime this spring.  I probably won’t get into this aspect of our lifestyle too much in the Reflections blog.  But I will make posts periodically about our favorite homeschool topics so if you are interested, you can hear about them if you click on the H.O.M.E.-School button on the main menu.

One last positive note I’d like to share is that I am now a Certified Lactation Consultant!  This means that I can work in a county health department, a hospital, or other health-related program aiding mothers in their breastfeeding goals, or set up my own private consulting business.  I think that any of these endeavors will be a part-time basis which means that I can continue to be at the farm, and at home with the kids most of the time.  I have great expectations that I will be able to create a community-centered breastfeeding support group.  This will be a challenge, with my introverted tendencies, but I am personally vested in the goal of normalizing breastfeeding.

certified lactation consultant certificate


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6 thoughts on “Reflections on February, 2016”

  1. Congratulations on the certification! working toward “normalcy” regarding breast feeding sounds odd in the context of mammals everywhere doing that very thing. Westernized mankind has certainly created many false “normals” over the decades.

  2. A rocket-stove earthbag hottub!? What an awesome idea!

    You are a wonderful writer, I really enjoy your blog, thanks 🙂

    • Thank you! Yes, many times on those not-so-windy winter days, I have fantasized about sitting in an outdoor hottub made from earthbags… while admiring my earthbag home of course.


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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!