February, 2010

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Don’t get bogged down by the details…

Friday, February 26th, 2010

I had a great conversation with a friend yesterday about possibilities. Such as: going to Europe with two young children in tow, running on a regular basis, cooking using only locally grown food, making myself and my children a new wardrobe for spring and summer, coming up with a totally cool kids clothing line made from recycled materials, AND having an amazing garden tended by kids. Not just my kids, but kids all around Missoula.

If I think about any one of these things too hard, I get dizzy, too many details. So, I am defying all rational thought and plugging away as if this is all very do-able.  With elation I will do what is required when it is required, and I won't sweat it otherwise.  I don't care that some of this requires money that I don't currently have, or time that I am in desperate need of. I will find the money and the time. The Moon and Randolph families who lived on this Homestead from 1889 to 1995 contended with much harsher economic woes. And time restraints? They GREW most of what they ate, and MADE most of what they had out of old stuff. And they operated a business selling eggs, produce and coal. Emma Randolph mothered FOUR boys, cooked from scratch and kept Bill in line--among the several thousand other things a-mom-a-century-ago did.

And Bill, he kept his dream of becoming an inventor. The photo below is an invention idea Bill had that he actually sent to the Defense Department. It is an anti-submarine defense plan. And although the government didn't take him very seriously, the fact that he followed his passion and sent it to them anyway is so great. 

I recall dreaming about living on a farm someday and having kids running around chasing chickens.  That came true.  I didn't sit around worrying about the details too terribly much.  I just lived with direction.  My dad is an eternal optimist in many ways.  During more skeptical times in my life, I resented that about him.  But now I feel that same sense of possibility.  Maybe I'm just too stubborn to let go of my dreams; I know I've been accused of that.  But if stubbornness gets me there, it's worth the accusation.

      

Things I like to see in the morning…

Tuesday, February 23rd, 2010


Another beautiful day. Crisp, cold, and sunny. Oh my, so exciting..

So exciting we had to make pancakes. We made 'em from scratch, and ate them with real maple syrup. You may be saying, "maple syrup is sooooo expensive", which is so very true. However, my friend Kristen gave me some good advice about how to use less syrup without compromising the pancake-drenched-in-syrup goodness. Melt butter with the maple syrup!!! Like half and half. It really is probably the most delicious thing I've ever tasted.

Butter and maple syrup=amazing flavor experience.

We are all aflutter with gardening thoughts these days. It's going to be amazing. If you are reading this and have kids, and would like them to participate in some amazing Homestead gardening programs this year, please let me know. I'll be posting about it a lot. I will also be posting our schedule for the summer when I get it all lined out. Have lovely mornings everyone!

small spaces and composting toilets

Friday, February 19th, 2010


It is really hard to live in a small space with two young children during the winter months, especially if you like a tidy house, and especially if you have a composting toilet. When we moved in here, I didn't think much about the toilet, and it's impact on our lives. I liked the fact that we were going to be using less water, which is important to me, and important for my children to understand. And, it does feel great when I think about the fact that we are leaving a very light ecological footprint here on the Homestead. We live very simply,and have been for the past 2.5 years. However, that being said, I dream about having a flushable toilet again someday. I love that you can scrub a porcelain toilet bowl until it sparkles, and that you can flush away feces without ever having to smell or see it again. It's nice and complete. The composting toilet we have is finicky. If the solid to liquid ratio is off and it's too moist, it smells. If there is too much solid and not enough liquid it gets really hard to turn the blades that turn the composting material. So, we have to pee in a separate chamber pot, so as not to disrupt that delicate balance. When we poo, we have to add a scoop of peat moss, and then turn the blades at least twenty times to insure that it gets integrated. When the toilet is full, we have to take the tray out from the bottom of the toilet and take it outside to the trench which is about a quarter mile away from the house, where we essentially bury the compost. Our toilet is fairly efficient at producing compostable material, but it is always full or half full of, well, shit. This bothers me. It feels like we have an outhouse for a bathroom. I don't have a pretty, feminine, good smelling bathroom. I have a rustic, old, smelly bathroom that is complicated to use. And trying to get kids to use the toilet takes some serious time and explaining. They usually do not like the warm sensation they get when they sit down, which comes from the heating mechanism used to dry up the material inside. Plus, they don't get to do the exciting flush at the end, which is sometimes the only reason they choose to use the toilet at all. When people come over to visit, I dread it when they ask if they can use the bathroom, especially if it is their kid who needs to use it. The elaborate instructions are tedious to explain, and usually people look at me in slight horror when I tell them their options. Something that is usually so simple, going pee, becomes an actual topic that has to be explained and figured out. And, even though I suppose I should feel proud that we are wasting less water, I usually end up feeling kind of embarrassed about the fact that visitors can see our "leavings" in the toilet. When you look at it with the lid down, and when the above mentioned ratios of moisture are in balance you can't see or smell the shit. But when you sit down and the plastic flaps open, there it is, shit, dirt and toilet paper. And, if the moisture level is off? Well then the smell of burnt pee is a constant reminder that we have, essentially, a bucket full of poo in our bathroom. My husband doesn't really notice the smell too much, neither do the kids, but I have come to realize that I have a very keen sense of smell, and so do most of my lady friends which is why it is super embarrassing to have anyone over when the toilet is being finicky. Maybe it is a litmus test weeding out true friends from the more superficial? I guess that is how I will look at it. If you wanna be my friend, you'll have to accept me for who I am, composting toilet and all.

sun, glorious sun…

Thursday, February 18th, 2010


Today the sun made it's way out from the clouds, and we made our way out of the house. All except one of us that is. Asa decided to stay inside. He was working on some very important ghost sculptures, which I do have to say were impressive. This blue sky scene can completely change my outlook on life. really. I go from a "in the trenches" mentality, to a "I can change the world" outlook, just by stepping outside and letting the sun shine on my face for a minute or two. It's a beautiful thing.
A friend recently posted on her blog about what a let down it was to visit another blog only to find out that it hasn't been updated since the last time you looked. This inspired me to post, even though I don't feel I am a very exciting blogger. I still haven't figured out the cool blogging tricks, like linking words to other blogs, like I would do with this other person's blog I was talking about if I only knew how to. But, like everything else, I will muddle through and slowly (seriously) but surely I will learn through trial and error how to link. And, speaking of trial and error. We are starting a garden of my dreams up here at the Homestead this year. We have some help from some University folks who are wanting to do internships here with us. Friday we will be meeting to draw up plans to build a cold frame to get our seeds going! This is fairly new to me. I grew up on a farm, but like many farm kids, sort of took it for granted. I weeded our gardens, and helped my dad catch run away cows, but for the most part I paid more attention to friends, boyfriends, my bangs, and other teenaged angsty stuff. But deep down, in my roots I have the farming and gardening blood coursing through my veins. I just ignored it for awhile. So yeah, trial and error, we have had our fair share up here in our previous years attempts at gardening. We have had to contend with plagues of grasshoppers, birds that love to eat starter plants, and the very time consuming task of hand pumping water into watering cans and hand watering the huge garden plot a couple of times a day. So, this year I decided to recruit some experts, and some workers! Best of all, they also want to help out with our kids gardening programs that will start this summer. I expect this years garden will be fruitful, and a huge learning experience. And, it will give me lots of great blogging material!