Sunday, July 28, 2013

Peening The Ol' Scythe Blade

Every so often, my scythe blade gets some pretty big dings in it. This is usually from my not paying attention and swinging it into things like fences and rocks.
So I have to go in and sharpen it. I hope this little explanation can help someone else understand what peening is all about.
The dents in the dings in the blade need to be hammered out in order for the scythe
to perform at its best.
Peening is the art and science of hammering a blade into shape. Usually, for me anyway, this means hammering out the dents in the blade. Dents like the ones shown above. And this one in the middle of the blade:
A big dent like this really reduces the efficiency of the cut.
So on Friday, I took out the blade and the peening jig, headed to the composter, and got hammering.

Quick DIY Guinea Field Waterer

With the surviving guineas now in total free range mode, I wanted to give them a reason to stay close.
I took and old tomato cage and nailed it to some boards. It was the perfect size to support their old waterer.
I took the waterer from their old cage and DIY'ed a lil' stand fer it.
The goal is to spot them by the waterer to make sure they've noticed and used it, then gradually move it back toward the garden, where I want them to be. I hope it works......

Friday, July 26, 2013

Conversation With a Relativist

True story.
So in light of my being a "good person," I though I'd share a conversation I had with a relativist a while back.
Now, mind you, there was a whole lotta wine involved, so this transcript is more of a paraphrase. And, the paraphrase is more of a cobbling together of some of the main themes that made it through the day-after fuzziness.

It was good wine. :)

So here goes:

Relativist: There are no absolutes. Truth is just perception. What's true for you is not true for someone else.
Me: Huh? That doesn't make any sense.
R: Sure it does. You perceive truth for yourself. Others perceive truth for themselves. So truth is just a matter of perception. It's all relative.
M: So does this apply to all truth?

Thursday, July 25, 2013

What Makes a "Good Person"?

If I say it enough, it becomes true...right?
Nah. It's all relative.
I've wanted to write my thoughts on this for a while now, but I never could get going on it. So thanks, Jen. :)
I hear this term thrown about from time to time, and it's usually a justification for something less than ideal going on in a person's life.
"I don't drink or do drugs, so I'm really a good person."
"I'm a good person. I go to Church sometimes and don't steal anything."
"It's not like I hurt people. I buy organic and am against animals being abused. I'm a good person."
The problem here is this:

The "good person" generally selects a narrow, arbitrary, and somewhat extreme yardstick against which to measure himself.

But really...what makes a "good person"? Is there a concrete, set-in-stone, objective definition? Some indisputable criterion for defining what a "good person" truly is?
In religious traditions, yes there is. In general Western society, no there is not.

And that is a part of the problem.

Wild Guineas

On Tuesday, we released the surviving guineas into the chicken pen after clipping their wings. We had hoped to keep them in with the chickens until they were large enough to be released on their own.
Well, they beat us to the punch.
Last night, we went to feed the chicks and check on Meatloaf's wound, and the guineas were gone.
Totally gone. Nowhere in sight or sound.
However, this morning, I noticed a small shape hanging out just outside the electric net. Upon closer inspection, I saw it was really two small shapes.
The guineas!
They somehow got out, but the training seems to have worked. I think the sight of our house is "home" to them, so now they're out in the wild. A few weeks earlier than planned, and half as many, but hey - at least these guys are OK.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Raccoon Attack (I think)

Two more guineas passed on.
This time, it was a bit more gruesome than a simply protozoan infection. They were mauled and eaten.
Two died. Two are alive, one with nasty injuries.
One of the survivors. Poor thing has some serious gashes on its neck and left wing.
I was training them that the garden and orchard area is "home." In doing so, I had them in a dog crate with very narrow slats, thinking they were safe from predators within its confines.
Not so, apparently.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Real People

In doing a project recently, I came across this image:
The image is entitled "Esau Selling His Birthright"
Now, I see a lot of images, and usually it's kinda that, "Hmm, that's nice" response. But this one was different.
I stopped and really looked at it. For a while.
What struck me was how real Jacob and Esau look in this image. How young. How much they look like perfectly normal teenage boys, albeit dressed a modern.
It made me stop and think for a bit about the names and personalities we hear and read about in the Bible.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Meant for More

What better way is there to develop virtue than to spend one's time on a hot, cloudless day than carefully scouting out a shade-free area, shoveling bags full of laceratingly sharp wood over a pit full of decaying animal crap, whilst digging through parched, naked earth, indiscriminately yanking unwanted living things from the soil, and futilely swatting at the innumerable armies of blood-sucking vermin attracted to the gallons of sweat oozing profusely from your sunburned, bruised, and (now) bloody skin?

Ah, gardening.

Two of these zucchini plants have been eaten from within.

Our garden has thus far been a source of exercise, food, fresh air, excitement, anticipation, wonder, pleasure, and most recently, total frustration and defeat followed by good, hard spiritual lessons.
We lost two zucchini plants so far due to the dreaded squash vine borer, or SVB. The others are only a matter of time. All of the patience, all of the waiting for the fruits to mature, all of the careful tending and fertilizing have been eaten away from within, right at the core - literally. We got some zukes before the plants succumbed, sure. But the yield was far less than what we expected, or hoped for, or really even got last year from our one zucchini plant.
All of the SVB remedies seem to fight nature and
put human dominance in the limelight.

In figuring this out and doing some research this week, we discovered several ways to treat and prevent the infestation. One way is to wait for the bugs to show up and then poison them. A second is to inject microscopic parasites into the hollow vine tubes to seek and destroy the caterpillars. Another is to take some fairly severe preventative measures in the form of covering plants with specialized cloth. Still others suggest the "slice and dice" method of cutting the hollow vines open, manually destroying the burrowing caterpillars, and then attempting to repair the vines.
All of these seem to miss the point in my opinion, for one reason or another.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Pickle Party!

In a four-day span this week, the garden gave us 35 cucumbers. There are more forming.
When life gives you lemons cucumbers out the yin-yang, make lemonade pickles.
We added some zucchinis and okra into the pickle mix, too.
Using some very cool recipes Wife found, we made a lot of pickles.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Homestead Update

So besides the quarter of grass-fed cow and the ginormous website project, the homestead has been relatively quiet. The garden is great, the animals are finally stable and healthy, and things are hitting their summer stride.
That is, when the cucumbers are not swallowing them.
I was excited to see the first okra on the stalk today.
HUGE okra coming off the stem. The cucumber vines are sending yellow flowers
to squat in the other squares and devour it all.
But wait! There's more!

Sure, All the Beef

So Wife and I thought it would be a great idea to pool in some friends and buy 1/4 of a grass-fed cow. We opted for the bones for Colt to chew on, too.
My, oh my. That's a lot o' cow.
Thing #3 thought stacking steaks was his job.
We crammed as much as we could into the freezer. We got all of the meat, but not the bones...... It's Done!

I finally finished!
Well, nearly almost finished.
The back-end code for is DONE!
I've been working on re-coding for the last several months. Yesterday was relaunch day, and the flurry activity beforehand was a main driver in the lapse of posts here on Homestead Catholic.
It's finally done.
The family has me back now. :)

Friday, July 12, 2013

Fresh Garden Fruits and Veggies

For some reason, veggies grown right in your backyard just taste better. Maybe it's the freshness - picked and eaten the same day, they don't lost nutrients or taste. Maybe it's that they are harvested AT ripeness, instead of picked a few days early to merely soften during the 1500-mile trip ahead of them. Maybe it's the fact that you know exactly were they were grown, and who they were picked by, instead of trying not to think about which part of China they were imported from. :\
Regardless, they just taste better.
Fresh radishes, cucumbers, and zucchini, picked right at home!
Served with sour cream, these made for an excellent dinner smorgasbord.
We've been feasting on veggies from the garden this week. Due the late planting, we're only beginning to get our yield. But it sure has been tasty!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Too Much


These last two weeks have been insane. From crippling poison ivy on my right hand, to mysteriously dead chickens, to disinfected sheep wounds, to cucumber vines that are TOC, to more green beans than we know what to do with, to pulling late nights finishing up a project, I simply have not had time to update anything.

So when there's too much to do, Homestead Catholic suffers.

The status right now:
The guineas are out of the brooder, and into the dog crate and out by the garden. There's only four now - I think cocci got the best of 2 of them. The rest are being moved daily to prevent a flare-up.
In the span of one week, 5 chickens all departed. Another also nearly went, but I iso'd and nursed her back to health. I have still no idea what happened, but they seem to be isolated incidents of trampling, hypothermia, and a mystery illness with virtually no symptoms.
Sheep are fine. Meatloaf got a big cut on his back from climbing under the chicken coop, so I had to build a quick triangular shelter for them and tape over the coop edges. I stuck him a chain link temporary pen and disinfected the wound with hydrogen peroxide for a few days. It's totally scarred over now.
Donkey is great, and braying happily.
Colt the mastiff is...well...he hasn't drooled on me yet today. :)
Wife and kids are all fine. School year is SOOO close to being done. We're gearing up for unit studies. Yay!
The AC has been out in the van, so it was nice to find out this week that'll it cost way more than we have on hand to get it fixed...right as temps peak 95 outside. Hooray.
And then there's the garden.....

More soon....

Monday, July 1, 2013

Garden Update

It seems our garden has contracted a case of the muffin top.
The green beans keep falling over toward the lettuces. It's not their fault - the cucumbers keep encroaching on the green beans. The cukes are also flopping out of the garden - Wife had to add some bamboo stakes to the grass area outside of the garden to support the extra growth.
The cucumber plants are spilling over the square foot
garden bed edge at every turn.

Field Trip: Stones River Battlefield

Last week, we took a field trip to the Stones River Battlefield.
From top left, clockwise: A  replica cannon from the museum. Things #1 & 2
out of the battlefield site itself. Things #1 & 2 working on the scavenger hunt in
the museum. Thing #3 planning his escape. 
It was incredible. The kids got to learn about the Civil War, and the impact it had on the local communities of Middle TN. Some park rangers took the time out to talk to us, including an absolutely riveting talk by a ranger on the why behind the war and the battle itself. The kids learned a lot from it.
They even had a little project worksheet to fill out. We soaked in the museum at a leisurely pace before heading outside to brave the heat on a half mile tour. Looking at some the intact trenches hand-dug by the soldiers was a sobering experience.
Standing on the site itself put things in perspective for us.
It was a neat experience, and one made all the more educational by doing it in a small homeschooling family setting.