Friday, September 28, 2012


A much needed (by my farm) break from school is coming up.  Although I am heading to Oahu for a follow-up to my mammogram scare last March, when I come back I plan to pull all the dried out, sad looking plants from my greenhouse and work on the outside garden and the taro bed, too.  It's just a little early for the broccoli-type stuff, but I can put in a few other brassica and lettuce.  I have quite a few taro huli hanging around in buckets that need to be planted.  I need to come up with more of a routine that works during the school terms, because I lose a lot of productivity during those times. 

I feel somewhat urgent about providing for the food security of my family - at least the ones who still live with me. 

I am sorry for not having written for some time, but I do notice that less weird referrer stats show up when I take a few days off.  I don't really get those weird spikes that seem to be happening because Russian proxies bounce off my site, and I am unable to take the time to navigate through the Google help to figure out how to report or block or even to find out if they are my problem or Google's.  Any other bloggers noticing that stuff? 

Audrey is a lot closer to delivering than I thought - because Elvis was chasing her in June, I thought we were looking at December/January, but he must have been chasing her for nothing, because she is only a few weeks out.  It's definitely at least twins because I can palpate a couple of little heads and she's quite rotund.  Remember she had triplets back on March 2?  I am hoping it is only twins, and I need to keep the rams away from her for a year just to give her a break.  She's not as young as she used to be. 

I hope that we can use the break to get the sheep stall scraped and load that large load of cinder to resurface it as well as move more of the mountain of compost into the garden spaces and around the bananas.  Bananas don't actually need finished compost; they can take manure straight from the barn, but finished doesn't hurt them.  I think the citrus could do with a good dose, too.  There is just a lot to do and we probably don't have a ton of relatively rain free time to do it in. 

Hope all is well with you all. 

Saturday, September 22, 2012

That Horrible Moment...

when you realize that the two ram lambs you castrated 4 months ago slipped their bands and you have four rams and one wether instead of two rams and three wethers.  Sigh.  I think I am going to have to invest in a Burdizzo or learn to castrate with a knife. 

Audrey's limping and I can't figure out why.  Caught her and inspected her hooves and dipped them in hoof solution, but can't see anything.  Hope it works belatedly.  It brings back memories of years of dealing with Ohia's hooves.  I still miss that horse - found a picture of him while cleaning today and hit me kind of hard. 

Our small chest freezer is full of meat - up to the top.  We defrosted a couple of steaks for a barbecue tonight and they look GREAT!  I can't wait to try them. I am a little bummed I wasn't here to help load up the freezer because I don't know what all is in there and I don't think there was any rhyme or reason to how the meat got loaded in.  That's the one drawback of a chest freezer - the digging around you have to do to see what's inside. I do love grass fed beef, so I am happy in spite of the hassles of excavating the freezer. 

I had a great day on Maui - stimulating professional conversation and the long flight back wasn't too bad, because the second leg was on the same plane as the first, so we just all had to move seats.  I know I have mentioned it before - but I really love my job.  I love teaching, I love teacher geek work like yesterday, and I love the organization at which I am so blessed to have a job.  And then I get to come home to sheep (mixed blessing) and Gibby (great blessing) and the dogs and cat and the garden. 

I do feel blessed. 

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Beef Delivery

We decided to go in on a cow with some neighbors.  Tomorrow, our 1/4 will be in the freezer - all grass fed and good.  We'll have to move some items from the chest freezer to the smaller freezers, but it will be worth it!  It's the next best thing to growing your own. 

I am going to Maui tomorrow for a work day with teachers from the other campuses of our school.  I love doing the work, but I am not looking forward to the whole airport thing.  It isn't so bad flying direct from Hilo to Maui, but to get back we have to fly the wrong direction to Honolulu and then back over Maui to the Big Island.  It's asinine and irritating, and I am not looking forward to it. Maui is going to be busy in the evening, too.  (I have to secretly admit I am not fond of Maui - long story). 

I ran into my niece at school today - she was giving a guest talk in one of the classes. I asked her how long my sweet potato slips could sit in the bucket, since the garden isn't done being layered with mountain of compost.  She said, "Forever.  Don't put them on any ground you don't want them to grow on!!!"  (She really did add the three exclamation points, you know, verbally.)  It was reassuring. 

I haven't had much time to exercise, which is making me cranky.  It's the end of a marking period, so the kids are all scrambling and I sat until 4:30 twice this week helping kids finish work for other classes.  I feel like a saint - well, not really, but I do feel virtuous.  At least the mostly rest has let my hamstring heel up a bit. 

Well, that's it for me - not very exciting - except for the beef! 

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

When Farming Hurts

I pulled my hamstring pulling sweet potatoes on Sunday.  I thought I was just sore from squatting and pulling, but nope, it is a genuine strain.  I really strained the muscle nearly 30 years ago in track and it's been a bit dicey since then.  Sometimes, if I am riding after taking a break or even kneeling in church, the muscle will cramp up.  When I was pregnant and still riding, I would dismount and fall to the ground (not gracefully) because the muscle would give out on me. 

I thought since I really do spend a ridiculous amount of time working out each week that I would have avoided something like this - but apparently not.  I am limping around and wincing from the bottom of my wimpy soul.  Thank goodness I work at a school with wonderful athletic trainers who don't laugh at the middle-aged wannabe, but instead hand me ice and compression wraps and apply heat and manually stretch me out (ouch) before I head off to run with middle schoolers (my goal is to up myself to high school next year) or to the cardio room.  I have to do something while waiting for my student athletes....

Beyond the physical trials of doing something at my age that would have been a lot easier 20 years ago, the farm is moving along.  I pulled those sweet potatoes, picked up some seeds for things like greens and lettuce - things that grow better in our winter.  My husband cleared the patch for the bigger greenhouse.  I could, in theory, have made last night's dinner completely from ingredients in my kitchen - although I did leave that homegrown hen in the freezer and used store bought instead - the day's coming (in case any kid is reading - you will not know when we eat her; don't even try to guess) but it wasn't last night.  

Step by step, getting closer to having several meals a day raised and grown on our own land. 

Monday, September 17, 2012

In the Garden

As there appears to be a longish break in the incessant rain (meaning rain just part of the day). we've made incursions into the garden areas.  My husband wants to move the entire manure pile to the garden (there has to be 20+ cubic yards of composted manure there) because it is causing water flow problems in the sheep stall in its present location. The thought is to layer it thick on the "new garden" - which is two years old - because the soil is not as good as we'd like it there. 

Those plans meant that I had to get out into the garden and pull up all the sweet potato slips and dig out any tubers.  Considering I started with 6-8 small slips from my niece, I was impressed with what I pulled - a 5 gallon bucket packed with slips and about 5 lbs of sweet potatoes.  I cut up about a pound of them this morning to throw in the crock pot with beans and chicken.  I had two or three different varieties of slips to begin with and some of them have crossbred so I had some really unique mixtures of the Hawaiian sweet potato and the Okinawan purple sweet potato.  I am looking forward to seeing how they taste tonight. 

We wanted to get the sheep into the taro bed, so my husband made a corridor of emergency fence to the fenced bed - a lot of the taro got smothered by the thick grass, which is a huge shame, but the sheep should clean out the grass and we can see what's left and get it pulled and replanted.  Taro and sweet potatoes are so great, because you can pull the roots and replant the tops (if you can resist eating them - I love both lau and sweet potato leaves). 

My husband also cleared out the area where he wants to put a bigger greenhouse, burning a lot of the brush he'd cut down.  We bought a huge load of six inch minus cinder to layer in the sheep stall for drainage, too.  Hopefully, all this work can lead to greater food production.  I think we're going to need it as gas prices rise.  85% of the food on island shelves, I've read, is imported from elsewhere.  Fuel increases mean food cost increases so the more I can grow, the better it is for us. 

I just wish there were more hours in a day.  Maybe if we put lights in the greenhouses I can spend more hours out there after work. 

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Falling Behind

This could be a bad pun based on the near approach of the season, but since we basically don't have Fall here in Hawaii, it means pretty much what it means.  I got up at 4:30 to do my Rosary and my elliptical thing and to water the greenhouse plants - and once again, I notice that the greenhouse is in sad neglect.  There are weeds and overgrown things and not much production going on.  (Although, I did notice that the jalapenos, which I thought were long gone, are actually producing a second crop of rather nice looking peppers).  Since I basically have to walk through the hanging laundry to get to the greenhouse, I noticed that there is an awful lot of dry-ish laundry hanging out there, too. 

My husband has been making a great effort to finish up some projects around the place.  He put up the glass tile in the coffee corner in the kitchen and finished the grouting on the kitchen bar.  He put up four very sturdy saddle racks out in the tack room and some heavy duty shelves.  I just got several panicked calls from the cinder hauler, so I guess he ordered cinder, too - which is good news for the sheep pen (hope that contractor's check doesn't bounce - because we've had trouble with him before - and that job's where the money came from).  My next wish list is baseboards in the bathrooms, but I don't really get a say - and I think baseboards are inordinately expensive and possibly not terribly important in the scheme of things. 

The outside garden is, as it has been all year, a wash - pretty much literally.  We've just had so much rain, which is sad because just over the lip of the mountain and down into the south part of our island, they've had nowhere near enough.  I wish there was a way to proportion it out - so we could both grow things!  My plants all drowned and theirs all dried up.  The only thing growing well is the thick grass that is choking out the kalo. 

Cross Country season means that most of my weekends are devoted to races and then doing as much catch-up around the house as I can.  It means getting home really late because of practices and having just about enough time to monitor homework and cook dinner.  It means very little time for gardening.  That's probably an excuse that I could find a way around, but to tell you the truth, with the beginning of school, my own exercise schedule and my kid and family obligations, I tend to put it on the back burner.  It is also not as fun to do it all alone, and basically, that's what it means with our family schedule - me being alone in the greenhouse or garden.  Fortunately, we have quite a lot of very accessible and reasonable year-round Farmer's Markets to make up for my lack of effort. 

I am starting a research project on agriculture and food-production, so hopefully it will motivate me to watch the kids get fired up, too!  I hope so.  It's time I stop "falling behind" and start "catching up". 

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

The Best Weekend....

I got to ride with a friend, went to a barbecue.  Went to my favorite race of the XC season (not the kids favorite by a long shot, but I love that course as a spectator), took a long nap and got some perspective on some thorny issues at work.  Make hand pies (pasties) which I can take to my son and didn't stress about anything. 

I need to ride more....