Friday, November 12, 2010

Family Meeting, Ice Cream Sundaes, a Pile of Books from the Hilo Library!

Sounds like heaven - the only thing better would be if my hens would lay just one more egg a day (production down drastically) and if Dodie would have her lambs already (without complications, of course).

The family meeting was about redistribution of chores now that everyone is in "double digits" and now that  Mom is occupied with sheep and chicks.  As usual, my baby girl (11) was volunteering for everything, while the 18 year old was trying to distract us from the fact she wasn't volunteering for anything by her wit and charm (yeah, it didn't work).

We celebrated (or maybe sweetened the bitter pill) by having ice cream sundaes with real whipped cream.  Someday I hope to have my own dairy source, but for now it was organic whipping cream from the store.  Baby girl got out the fancy sundae cups from the top shelf and we pulled out the nuts and the maraschino cherries.

I also got a great big pile of books from the Hilo Public Library - nothing intellectually challenging, but enjoyable stuff.  I still have to read the four chapters of Ivanhoe I assigned my students (almost pau -finished).  Because of my profession, I have to read a lot of young adult novels.  One of the most interesting series is by Susan Beth Pfeffer: Life as We Knew It,  The Dead and the Gone, and The World We Live In.  I found the latter book at the library, and it was perfect timing.  My son and I were talking in the car about how The Dead and the Gone left a lot hanging, and how odd the ending was.  Now I know why, since I found the third book at the library!  My son dived right into the book in the car.  I love talking books with kids - I guess that is why I became a teacher.

I do have to say something about those books - the first one is so convincing, I have never known anyone who read it who didn't want to immediately go out and start growing their own food and stocking up!

The Middle School kids had Pa'ina Day.  Basically, they celebrated the end of their trimester.  There are makahiki games, a huge water slide, special treats.  Makahiki Games were celebrated by the Hawaiians in a season of no work (I always wondered how that worked when you live off the land and sea) between November and February.  There were feats of skill, like ulu maika, huki huki, spear throwing (sorry, don't know the Hawaiian name and there are none of my Hawaiian kids around to ask).  ulu maika is a little like bowling with a disk made out of lava rock, and huki huki is sort of like tug of war, but you stand on one foot on a coconut stump - tricky and more skill and trickery than brute strength.  Spear throwing means throwing sharpened wooden sticks at banana stumps (yeah, they actually let middle school boys do this at school - very brave people).  The kids had regular school and then Pa'ina day.

The good mood that lasted from the good books and the Pa'ina day meant the family meeting went without more than good-natured grumbling.  The ice cream sundaes stopped those soon enough.  Now I am going to go read!


From Beyond My Kitchen Window said...

I am a special eduction aid for learning disabled children in a elementary school. My job is very rewarding and I feel honored to be able to help teach them and help them navigate socially through out their day. Teachers must all be hard wired to love books and to share that passion for reading with their students. I'm enjoying your blog and making my way down your posts. One post I got a chuckle from was your daughter hiding out because she might have to sweep. In my house its raking leaves. I think they are afraid to sweat.LOL

Faith said...

How cool! Homesteading in the islands. I'm very interested in seeing how that goes, especially since that's sort of what one tries to do with year 'round gardening in a greenhouse; create something near a tropical climate.

My sister just moved to Honolulu from the mainland a year or so ago. Health reasons - it was the only place she'd been able to breathe well in for many years. Trouble is, the vog gets her now.

I'm with you. I've always wanted a dairy cow. I grew up with one and I miss that so much. I'd love to have a small one, such as a Dexter, since there are only two of us now. But there is nothing like your own organic dairy products.


Faith said...

Well, I just took the time to read all of your posts. LOL

I had no idea your state had such remote areas. I guess I naively thought that such a small place would be pretty much populated by now. (I'm not well-traveled. lol)

I've thoroughly enjoyed reading about your adventures and subbed. I'm working on a hoop house right now, my current major project at the top of my emergency 'to-do' list.

I was surprised that you would want a hoop house in your climate. I'm looking forward to reading more about how things work and don't work for you in your location.

We get about 45 inches of rain here. I am actually from the much drier western area of the mainland, so this seems pretty wet to me. However we have periods of drought and periods of flooding. Nothing is ever spaced out just right.

I finally went to raised beds to solve the flooding problem in my garden. However, when it's dry, that's a problem as well, so now I mulch thickly. Raised, thickly mulched beds so far has worked the best.


NancyDe said...

@Kitchen Window: I am a high school teacher in an inclusion school. I couldn't live with out my EA! (Well, actually, I do, but when she's scheduled in my classroom, I am happy (:). For my oldest it isn't the sweat, it is the idea that she might actually get muscles in her arm - this discussion was part of our "charm and wit" distracting conversation....She ran cross country for four years and couldn't get away with the sweat thing.

We don't get much in the way of leaves falling. The waiawi leaves fall, but they stick to the forest floor and don't blow onto the land. I would love to see New England leaves.

NancyDe said...

Hi, Faith,

We get about 200 inches rainfall a year. I would like a hoop house to just keep the plants a little dry - it is really hard to grow tomatoes because they rot from too much rain, for example. The only things that grows well without protection are taro, greens, and cabbages. I would like some other things to eat!

I have tried to create raised beds by just piling material and shaping the beds, but they erode. When I ask my husband if I can use some of the materials laying around or suggest we buy materials - he always has a reason those things won't work lol, so I muddle along. He is right: regular wood will just rot in a year or two, and plastic wood is heinously expensive. I think the best alternative would be to get a load of fairly large lava rocks and use those, but it would be a lot of work.

Another issue is the kikuyu grass - it is a runner grass. That grass is so tough it grows under and over everything. We pulled out an old catchment tank and there was white grass growing under it. A green house would help control the kikuyu and the honohono grass which grows right out of horse manure.

I would like a Dexter, too. A few years ago, no one had them here, but I am seeing more on craigslist. Really thinking about it - also want to try the sheep's milk. I read it is really good for some cheese and for yogurt.

Does your sister like Honolulu? We grew up in Kailua on O'ahu. I miss the beaches and my family, of course. Fortunately, she shouldn't have too much trouble with vog - just a couple days a year. It mellows out by the time it reaches O'ahu. We get the raw vog here a few times a year, being only 10 miles or so from the vent.

Most of the other islands are pretty well populated, but the Big Island is mostly lava rock and hard to dig water lines, I suppose. We're lucky we have dirt, half a mile down the road is all rock.

Faith said...

Here's a link for us budget-minded folks.

These are instructions for a 100 by 13 foot hoop house for less than 300 dollars. By the time you do one of those at about 1/4 the size, you might be able to build one for less than 100 dollars.

I've always done my raised beds without border materials. Just costs too much to use them. I mound up wide hills and flatten them across the top. They are about 4 feet wide.

You could raise your beds, put one of these over the top, leaving the ends open, and be able to keep your raised beds.

I've heard that volcanic soil is one of the best soils to grow in. I wonder if you could get a handle on the rain control if you might have one of the best gardens I read about!

The grass is awful. The only way I've heard of to get ride of it is to actually embed a metal sheet wall around the perimeter of your garden area. Bury it a good foot underground, ends well overlapped, and have those above ground nasty edges (maybe you could curl them over) exposed by several inches so you could run around it every day and yank the runners. Then you would need a good diligent spraying to kill what is inside.

If it's like Bermuda grass here, the seeds stay viable in the soil for two years. So you could let them sprout, kill them, let them sprout, kill them...

I've got Bermuda grass beginning to take over here. It's already come down around my figs and my asparagus beds, and heading further south all the time.

I am keeping a perimeter of dirt around my veggie garden eternally clear of vegetation so that I can catch any Bermuda grass that tries to infiltrate.

My sister does love Honolulu. But she's so sick all the time, that often she is just stuck inside. Hard for her because she was very athletic before asthma got her. I don't know if it's her sensitivity or her location, but seems the vog is bothering her a lot more than a couple of days a year.

Funny - you miss the beaches... It's hard for me to picture someone who lives on an island saying that. LOL But I understand. From the sounds of your schedule, you likely don't have a lot of extra time to drive to the coast, maybe an hour away? I used to live near the beach as well. We used to set a day or afternoon aside to go. It's strange to be inland now.

I'm going to have to zoom in on Hawaii and see the terrain around the mountain. I love Google earth. My son and I just spent a few hours last week touring the area around Venice Italy.

I used to have goats and sheep as well. But I didn't' like goat milk. Loved the cheese though. So quick and easy to make it every day!


NancyDe said...

Asthma is a big problem in Hawaii. We had a really dry summer, so maybe there was more vog than would be normal. I will keep her in my prayers.

Thanks for the link. I bet the hoop house would cost more here, just because we have to ship the materials, but worth a try - just to keep my beds from washing away.

Bermuda grass is good for horses, right? Kikuyu isn't really - it is better for ruminants. I think it could double as steel hawser; it is so strong. I was thinking about digging a ditch around the edges and filling with gravel to improve drainage and maybe make a little buffer for grass runners. An acquaintance of mine lined his garden with cinder block and filled the holes with lemon grass. I thought that was cool, but then when I went back to his place, he had just dug these big trenches around all these tiny beds, so I guess the cinder block didn't work for him. I guess it is a perpetual battle. Here's a link to a youtube video about his place:

The Big Island is a newer island, so there aren't that many nice beaches actually, and the ones that exist are quite a drive. There a few beautiful beaches in Kona, but that is a couple hours one way. All the beaches in Hilo are gorgeous to look at but all rocky and nowhere near as nice as Kailua Beach.

I like Google Earth, too. My sister lives in Europe and last time she was here, we looked at her neighborhood! I can't get over there while I am still raising kids (sooo expensive), but I could visit virtually. Check out both Kona and Hilo so you can see the difference - it would be a great lesson on weather for your son. When the regular tradewinds are going, all the moisture gets caught on the mountains, and so we get all the wet and the leeward side is so dry.

Faith said...

Oh, I did check out that link. I loved him in the Jungle Book. Seems like a very nice guy to have as a neighbor. :o)

And Google Earth shows what a difference there is on the two sides of Hawaii. How interesting. And there really is a lot of unpopulated land there. So funny how we get these pictures in our heads...

I experience the same thing. I'm from California and people have this typical picture of CA in their heads, which is so unlike what the the vast majority of the state is like.


NancyDe said...

Hawaii is a new island, so much of it is lava rock. There are places I would rather live than my own area (drier, better grass) on the island.

My oldest daughter used to love The Jungle Book, back when she was three. After you've had Mowgli over for dinner or helping to shovel manure (he helped after I had the flu last year because he wanted some for his garden). Very nice people...

Ohiofarmgirl said...

tell me you had Lappert's Ice cream... just say it....I've been dying for Kauai Pie and of course you cant get it here.

NancyDe said...

Nope, sorry OFG, I had cheap-o Safeway ice cream - the only bucket that lasts for more than a day with my four kids :). I love Lappert's, though - that's for sure. And there is a place in Hilo: Hilo Homemade Ice Cream that is yummy, too!