Monday, August 29, 2016

The Dog Days of Summer


Our summer has been bizarrely mild, with only a handful of really hot days tempered with cooler and even rainy spells.  Now a distinctive nip in the evening air hints at the coming of refreshingly crisp, cool fall days. 

This time of the year, as autumn swiftly approaches, life becomes increasingly hectic.  We are fully immersed in preserving the garden harvest and getting firewood split and stacked as insurance against winter's cold embrace.  The apple press is awaiting the first apples of the season and my pressure canner has taken up permanent residence in the kitchen in anticipation of quart upon quart of bountiful garden produce.   I have school books spread across the kitchen table as I sort through curriculum and write lesson plans for the upcoming school year.  Our shouse is bustling with activity as we enjoy the simple rhythm of life on the homestead.

Freshly canned green beans

What's left of our log deck

Sawed wood ready to be split and stacked

One wood hut almost full

The log splitter ready for the next batch of wood
During the these warm, productive days of late summer I often try to come up with ways I can prepare meals for my family with a minimum of effort.  This past Sunday I didn't really want to cook a big meal and I wasn't feeling particularly inspired to come up with a creative, no fuss, hot weather meal so I fell back on an old world favorite, the Ploughman's Platter. 

Ploughman's Platter

While I heated water for tea, I laid out a tray full of cold cuts, cheeses, crackers, bagels, fruit and herbed cream cheese.  It was a perfect meal for a quiet Sunday - light and simple, but somehow inherently filling.  It was just the thing for the dog days of summer.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Our Summer in Pictures

So sorry for the silence!  Between domain problems and general busyness, I have neglected this poor little blog horribly.  I hope your summer has been delightful.  Ours has been going at a frantic rate, with our children going in so many different directions, our garden growing well for the first time in 15 years and our current lack of generator, adding to normal homestead challenges. 

To catch up a bit, here is our summer in photos.....

Raspberry's ripening on the vine

Raspberry Custard Tart

Garden Fresh!

Potatoes, freshly dug

Green beans, almost ready to harvest

A positive food forest!

Bell peppers



Tea Cakes with Devonshire Cream and Raspberry jam

Tea Time!

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Without Rule of Law

One of the greatest gifts the United States inherited from Mother England was the Rule of Law.  However, the founders were not content to merely recreate English rule in America.   Our forefathers imported English Common Law and then expanded upon it, choosing members from their own communities to serve as lawmakers and then return home to live under the laws they had created.  They had forged a society that truly was "For the People and By the People".

This great pillar of our society, this strength of our nation, is also inherently fragile.  Our societal strength is only maintained through equal administration of law.  Disparity of the implementation of the Rule of Law between public servants and citizens, between lawmaker and taxpayer, between law enforcement and civilian, causes the foundation of society to crack.  As society fails the chasm of unequal application of law grows until finally, the Rule of Law fails and anarchy reigns.

And here was are.  We now live in a country Without Rule of Law.  Law has become something governing the citizen, not the "public servant".  Our lawmakers regularly excuse themselves from the law governing every man.  Government officials commit felonious and treasonous crimes and continue on, unscathed.  Law enforcement officers violate constitutional rights with no consequence.  Building inspectors, tax assessors and other low level bureaucrats bully the public at every level denying even a basic redress of grievances.  And our "leaders" protect each other, while we, the taxpayers, are left footing the bill while enduring a society Without Rule of Law.

In truth, we are completely upside down.  We should expect more from our public servants, not less.  We should expect the people who create the laws to live by the laws.  We should expect those who are hired to enforce the law, to first and foremost, keep the law. 

With a Supreme Court justices that admit  they will ignore the Constitution and vote with their "conscience", a President that enacts illegal Executive Orders, a former Secretary of State that lies under oath and bureaucrats that engage in petty tyranny on a daily basis we are already living Without Rule of Law.  And without rule of law, we have anarchy.

A United State of America Without  Rule of Law - are your ready?

*Joe Nobody wrote an excellent book called "Without Rule of Law".  You just may need it in the near future.  Grab a copy on Amazon - and tell them Enola sent you.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Hugelkultur Update

If you have read of our adventures for any amount of time, you know that gardening has been the bane of our existence!  For fifteen (yes, fifteen) years, we have attempted to grow a garden in our red clay soil with (very) limited success.  We amended our soil with organic material, brought in load after load of manure to enrich the poor clay soil.  We tried raised beds, drip irrigation and potato towers.  We planted fruit trees, berry bushes and cold crop vegetables.  Some years I gave my gardening attempts everything I had, other years I merely threw a few seeds in the ground.  To say that I was discouraged is more than an understatement.

Although I had little to no success with gardening, I kept reading, hoping to find some nugget of gardening wisdom that I could apply to my little piece of ground that would coax bounty from the soil.

During one trip to our local library, I stumbled up a permaculture book by Sepp Holzer and was immediately intrigued.  He spoke of gardening and farming methods that were completely foreign to me but appeared to produce tremendous yields.  After studying Mr. Holzer's books for a couple of years and adding other permaculture books, like Gaia's Garden, to my personal library, I slowly devised a gardening plan.

This spring, Sir Knight and I embarked on a new gardening adventure - Hugelkultur.  Basically, we built raised garden beds using bulky organic material (trees, brush, bushes) as the base and coving it in our clay soil, with sod attached, and finished the beds off with good, rich soil.  We began small, with one bed about 40 feet long and 3 feet wide and 3 feet tall.  After we built the bed, we sowed white clover to act as a cover crop and to keep the soil in place until we could plant vegetables and berries. 

Tiny apples on an apple tree


Beginning to turn blue

Mounds of potatoes!

Potatoes looking healthy and happy

Lettuce, poking up amongst the clover

Our thick clover cover
Although the entire garden hasn't been planted (I was ill prepared for a full fledged garden bed), what has been planted seems to be flourishing.  Our potatoes are thick, tall and healthy.  The green beans are coming in nicely and the lettuce is sprouting.  Our blueberries (planted on the top of the raised bed) are bearing already and beginning to turn blue.  Even the trees that we planted in the Hugelkultur method seem to be doing well! 

In addition to the raised bed, we put in a suntrap using culvert pieces.  We used the same organic material, sod, soil method in the containers and planted tomatoes and peppers.  The containers also seem to be thriving with fruit coming on the bushes and blossoms covering the tomato plants.

Tomatoes making their start

Raspberry Brambles

We've been picking berries every morning!

One of the herb beds

Comfrey growing like crazy in front of "Little Shouse"

Although we haven't made it through a full growing season, we are tentatively excited about our new gardens.  In fact, we are planning another, larger Hugelkultur bed to be built this fall so that it will be ready to plant in the spring.

And so, our adventures in gardening continue - with the first measure of success in fifteen years.  And they say gardening is easy..... 

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Corduroy Roads, Take me Home

Photo from Google Images

This past weekend, my family and I settled into Caer David, our weekend cabin at my parents place.  Our extended family had gathered from afar to spend a few days together visiting and celebrating my grandmother's 90th birthday.  We shot trap, ran 4-wheelers and played spoons.  We ate bountiful meals together and talked into the wee hours of the morning.  We made new memories and recounted old ones while babies slept and children played.

One afternoon, Maid Elizabeth and Miss Serenity and I went for a walk in the wilderness behind my parents home.  As we hiked on old, forgotten logging roads, we came upon a relic of another era - a corduroy road.  The road was little more than a remnant of rotten old growth timber, but it stood as a testament to the ingenuity and tenacity of the men who had built this country.

Corduroy roads are an old-fashioned remnant of the past.  Years ago, when men needed to move freight (or people) through marshy, boggy, low-lying lands, they built corduroy roads.  They would fell small trees, about 8 to 10 inches in diameter, cut the branches off and lay the trees perpendicular to the roadway.  These roads were usually built in small runs, through the boggy areas of an otherwise solid road.  Corduroy roads were an ingenious solution to a real-world problem, invented by men who depended upon their own resourcefulness.

I was 8 years old when I saw my first corduroy road.  My parents and I were walking behind our back creek on the property my folks had recently bought when we stumbled upon decaying logs on an OLD logging track.  My brother and I ran from one end of the small run of corduroy road to the other trying to figure out what it was.  Who would build such a thing in the middle of the woods, in the middle of nowhere?  And what in the world was it?

Soon, we had our answer.  King, our elderly neighbor, who's parents had homesteaded our land, had helped build those roads as a child.  King's father had logged our property, using horses, nearly 100 years before.  The land has creeks and marshy areas, along with bogs and springs.  King's dad had built a bridge over the creek, using his team of horses to skid old growth Douglas Fir to span the distance so that he could access the timber on the other side.  Once he reached the far side of the creek, he realized that the ground between the creek and the timber was marshy and too wet to haul wagons loaded with logs.  And so, with his son by his side, he built his very own corduroy road.  Log by log, King and his father laid a road born of necessity, a road built by pioneers, both in spirit and truth.

I stood, gazing at that long-forgotten road and realized that it summed up the very values that had been instilled in me since childhood - self-reliance, ingenuity, resourcefulness.  That corduroy road, in its decomposing beauty, encapsulated all that was good and true in our country - in our people.

And now I watch the decomposing beauty of our crumbling society and quietly pray "Corduroy roads, take us home to the place we belong".

Monday, May 16, 2016

Highland Hunt & Trap Shoot

This past weekend, we enjoyed our Second Annual Tea & Trap Shoot.  The day dawned beautifully, slightly overcast with a gentle breeze.  Our tent was ready, having erected it early in the week, and all of the details had been carefully arranged.  Onion gravy was bubbling on the stove while potatoes boiled in a stock pot.  I had made scones, roasted bangers (sausages) and whipped up Devonshire cream.  I had just finished heating the teapot when guests began to arrive.

Friends and family came from miles away, wearing their best tartans and tweeds and bearing their favorite shotguns.  Men in kilts drank tea to the music of shotgun blasts and exploding clays.  There was fellowship, friendship and kindred unity in abundance.  It was the best of all things - prayer and tea, food and music, shooting and conversation.  It was a day of memories.

Wash tubs to soak the used dishes

The lounge

Looking out of the tent

Setting up the tea/dessert table

Master Calvin calls this my "GrandmaPhone"

Just waiting on the scones

Chafing dishes with the main entrees

Early yellow roses

Just awaiting guests

Maid Elizabeth preparing the chafing dishes amongst the mess in the kitchen

Sir Knight - posing with attitude

Ready for action!

The girls


Talking strategy

Miss Serenity playing with her grandfather

Master Hand Grenade

Nothing but clay!

My dad - the winner of the shoot!

Miss Serenity and Sir Knight

The view from the front of the tent

Sir Knight at his station

Talking gear

Look at all those shotguns!

Maid Elizabeth, absorbing the recoil

Sisters - Maid Elizabeth and Miss Serenity, surrounded by friends and family

The aftermath