Holistically Organized Multidisciplinary Endeavors Farm

Reflections on September, 2018

Fall is fast approaching.  This September, we’ve had several rains lately of 2 or more inches and much cooler nights.  The air seems so clean and clear, with crystal precision and detail around objects after it rains.

clear blue skies, oklahoma, home-farm, september 2018, flowers
Clear blue skies
butterflies, sunflowers, home-farm, 2018, native wildflowers
butterfly on perennial sunflower, oklahoma, wildflowers, september 2018
Lots of butterflies this season



Aaron has been planting a fall grass seed mix on his dad’s pastures.  The new tractor is much comfier than the previous one, but it still jostles his back around a lot.  I can tell he’s been in the tractor because he’ll be singing and humming pop-country songs from the radio.  We don’t generally listen to the radio.  

I pulled all the giant weeds out of the garden beds and planted a fall mix of brussels sprouts, broccoli, parsnips, rutabagas and some other cooler weather veggies.  I have the hardest time keeping the little seeds wet for germination so it’s a good thing we’ve had all this rain.

rain in distance
Hello, wall of rain

Feathered Friends Update

I was up on the ladder applying some cob on the outside of the east room when I heard some squawking, guinea honking, and terrified flapping.  I ran over to the fenced-in chicken area and all I could find was a pile of feathers.  No carcass, no blood, no signs of any other animals.  A hawk, I am presuming.  And poof!  After 3 years of thriving on our farm, she was gone.  We started with 15, but she was the strongest, who held on for several years with only chickens for companions.

She wasn’t a consistent egg-layer, well maybe she was; we just didn’t find her well-hidden clutches of up to 15 eggs until we randomly stumbled upon them.  Guinea eggs are smaller than chicken eggs, but with even more golden color and richness.  The shells are far superior to chickens’.  Once, Julius found a clutch of them in the heat of summer.  Who knows how long they had been there.  They were all rotten.  He took them over to the big elm tree and used them as target practice.  He had hoped for a big splat with each throw, but instead they dropped to the ground like rocks.  He was only able to break a few of them, with a fierce effort.

Update of that Update

When I took the compost out to the chicken fence this morning, there was the guinea, missing a few feathers, but alive!  Funny how that works.

House Progress

As the sun sets earlier these nights, I’ve been feeling very grateful for our lighting.  In the kitchen, we actually have 3 lights to choose from.  3 lights!  We have the original overhead light which is kind of fluorescent-feeling and dim, a very warm yellow LED up on the wall by the front door, and a generic white light in a lamp by the stove.  And we finally have an outdoor light, just outside the door we most frequently use near the parking area.  It’s like a real home and it feels great!

Our air conditioner was delivered!  September in the Northern hemisphere is hardly the time for a cooling machine.   However, it’s a heater too.  This is Hotspot Energy’s newest model ACDC12C mini-split solar air conditioner and heat pump.

It has an indoor unit, about 1 foot by 2 and a half feet, that will hang on the kitchen wall, above the cabinets, and an outdoor unit, about twice that size that will sit on an elevated rack just behind the house.  A hole had to be drilled through the wall to connect the two, and drill bits are expensive, so Aaron fashioned one himself, out of some old steel plate.  It only took him about an hour to find the material, cut it, and attach it to an older 20″ bit.




Compare that to driving to the hardware store, locating the proper bit (if one was in stock), paying 15 dollars at least, and driving back home.  Efficiency and practicality are included in his bag of tricks.



indoor ac unit, solar air conditioner, homemade drill bit, earthbag walls, DIY, homesteading, off-grid build
Mounting bracket and homemade drill bit

The above picture shows the mounting bracket for the indoor unit and the drill bit about to bore through 18 inches of earthbag wall.  We are still working on all the wires, conduit, and tubing that needs to happen before we get it running.  We have to hire a heating and air specialist to find the right vacuum and pressure and fluids etc.  This will be the 2nd time in all of our 5 years of building our home that we’ve required professional assistance.

Aaron has been busy nearly every day adding a layer or so to the sink island.  He and the boys collected some old concrete rubbish, which is commonly referred to as “urbanite.”  Aaron uses the sledgehammer to bust it up into manageable pieces and uses them like bricks in the soil-cement mix as mortar.  Just the other day he reached the top layer; the island is at the standard height of 34 1/2″ from the floor.  This allows 1 1/2″ of space for the granite slab or poured concrete countertop.  Our sink will fit down into this counter, much like this picture I found on Kerrconcrete.com.

Example poured concrete countertop



It has taken me a while to come around to the idea of poured concrete.  I kept imagining it as a bland grey.  However, if it could look like this one, I’d be happy.  Apparently this look can be achieved with dyes.  I’m not sure on the cost of those dyes yet.  Imagine this one being stand alone, with a bigger sink, and barstools on the outside of the kitchen.





Here’s what it looks like right now:

soil cement, urbanite, sink island, DIY, off-grid build, home-farm, earthbag build
Almost to the top of the sink island


This island is longer than the makeshift sink counter we are currently using.  We presume that once we get the counter-top installed, we’ll have room for 3 barstools along the front, and one at the far end.  It will also have an outlet for a laptop or phone charging, as you can see by the yellow wire at the bottom.







Interesting Science Concept of the Month

In the late 1700’s, Georg Christoph Lichtenberg played with high voltage static electricity in order to study the nature of electric fluids.  In doing so, he discovered some attributes of electricity that led to modern xerography and plasma physics.  Unless you’re studying the principles of plasma, or the history of Xerox copying, Lichtenberg’s discoveries will not pique your interest.  What’s interesting is that by discharging high voltages of electricity onto the surface of an insulator, a fractal pattern “tree” can be etched.  This effect is known as Lichtenberg Wood Burning.

High voltage electricity art



I sometimes wonder what we’ll do with the piles of clutter which seem to breed in distant corners and barns.  One of those piles birthed a high voltage transformer.  Aaron removed it from a defunct microwave no less than 6 years ago.  Way back in the time before time, Illinois.  Attaching an old vacuum cord, the transformer and a lightswitch to a scrap piece of board “makes a really dangerous toy” ~Mason.  Even with our minimal amount of battery, Aaron is able to draw enough electricity to achieve this burn.  We don’t allow the kids to come any closer than 5 feet or so, because, well…Electricity.  So far, Aaron has burned our porch swing, dowel rods, random wood scraps, and even bone!

cow skill, lichtenberg, wood burning, electricity, home-farm
Cow skull with Lichtenberg treatment


Some materials would not allow the electricity to penetrate because of their protective finish.  They have to be stripped first.

As per the intense enthusiasm of Aaron and the boys, they decided they wanted to burn the wooden mirror frame, the wooden train tracks, the door frame, the kitchen cabinets when we get them, the wooden screen door, the cedar pillars, and even the chickens.  The last suggestion was offered by Mason.  In reality, only the mirror frame is a maybe.





Our favorite piece was Mason’s wagon (with his permission and a warning not to burn it up all the way).  After the burn, it received a good sanding and two coats of Behr premium outdoor deck stain.  We think it’s a pretty rad Radio Flyer.  The wagon itself was a gift from Grandma and Grandpa in Illinois.




This Month’s Family Adventure

Alabaster Caverns State Park was just beautiful.  The weather was almost perfect except for a little bit of rain.  No one else camped in the primitive camp sites, so we got the best one with our very own swing set and access to the creek, which our dog, Azaylia loved.  We explored and hiked around a canyon that was once a huge cave!  The actual cave tour was noteworthy as well.  It reminded me of the good old days, working as a tour guide at Cave of the Winds in Manitou Springs, Colorado.  We all had a very relaxing and adventurous weekend.

hubby, boys, oklahoma



Books of the Month

Julius 12yo: Last Descendents, an Assassin’s Creed novel by Matthew J. Kirby.  That was a reread because we just found the next book at the library.  He hasn’t been reading his usual stack of books so much this month as reading his Nintendo Switch screen.  Zelda Breath of the Wild is his jam right now.  He actually works on verbal skills constantly while playing that game, either because he’s explaining Zelda’s quests to us, or because he’s thinking out loud about the shrines, the characters, weapons and map.  I recently listened to a podcast about screen time and youth and it gave me a slightly different perspective on them.  I still think screens should be limited in children under about 8.

Aaron 35yo: Carve the Mark and The Fates Divide by Veronica Roth.  Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer, and Melting Stones by Tamora Pierce.

Mason 4yo: At the library, we stumbled upon Virginia Lee Burton, who wrote and illustrated The Little House. We also picked up her newer book, Life Story, detailed in wonderful pictures, the history of the earth.  She began writing books for her sons to read when they were little and used their “frank critiques” to adjust the books before publishing.  She is very inspiring, and so are her stories.

Kyias 18mo:  As I am reading to Mason at night, Kyias really enjoys skimming through 2 particular books; The Poky Little Puppy, in which he pretends to eat the bear’s honey, and Dog in Charge, where he barks and growls at the 5 mischievous cats.

Alison 34yo:  I read and LOVED Peter Gray’s Free to Learn: Why Unleashing the Instinct to Play Will Make our Children Happier, More Self-Reliant, and Better Students for Life.  If I could carve out some time to sit with this book and write a reflective piece on all that I learned from it, I would make a blog post and share it with you all.  Only nerds have fantasies about writing essays about books.  Seriously though, it explains how children played in hunter-gatherer societies and how play is largely overlooked today.  It uses excellent social scientific studies to back up the claims, but in a very interesting and captivating way.  It’s not tedious or boring.  He has a recent youtube video which gives a simplified thesis of this book: How our Schools Thwart Passions.

free to learn, unschooling, self-directed learning, homeschooling

Our next book club pick is A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman.  I’m only 100 pages in, but it’s like nothing I’ve read before.  It’s sad; the grumpy old man.  And I’m not really relating to the characters around him.  If it weren’t for the book club, I would abandon it.

Next Month

We look forward to beginning our next year of homeschool; 7th grade, as well as 2 big family adventures, and hopefully some air conditioning. The heating kind, not the cooling kind.  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!