Monday, October 26, 2009

We had a productive weekend this week. Saturday was dry and mild, so I mucked out our buck pen, put in fresh bedding, trimmed the boys' hooves, and cleaned off the buck. He is in rut right now so he is constantly peeing on his face and front legs. Supposedly this makes him more attractive to the does. But the urine irritates the skin on his legs really bad, so I try to spray him off every so often. It doesn't seem to improve the smell.

I also cleaned our milking/ hay and feed house and scrubbed the milking stand, and cleaned out the pig's house and put in fresh straw. Now I just need to finish cleaning the chicken house and get wood chips on the mucky paths.

I have been applying lime plaster on our exterior strawbale walls. Lime over layers of earthen plaster is a good idea for strawbales homes in our climate, as is provides excellent protection while still allowing the bales to "breathe". It is made from limestone which is heated and slaked into a powder form, then made into a putty, and when exposed to air it turns back into limestone, creating a hard plaster. I mix fine sand with lime putty, adding small amounts of chopped straw and wool to act as a binder. I moisten the earthen plaster and trowel on the lime paster. Lime is very caustic, due to it's high PH, so I need to wear gloves to prevent burns, and I should wear googles. This time of year is good for working with lime; it needs cooler, moister weather to keep the drying time slow to help the plaster set up hard. But when it gets too cold (below 45) I will need to move on to the interior walls. We have really large overhangs to protect our bales, but we do get some intense storms with driving rains, so it feels good to know that our bales will be well-protected.

Brian has been working hard on firewood. He has been cutting up downed trees on our property and we should have plenty to get us through the cold season. Of course he will probably keep stacking anyway, just to be prepared. Our house is well insulated with the bale walls, with lots of thermal mass in the floor, earthen plaster and interior cob wall, and we have a passive solar design, so thus far we haven't needed any additional heating. Also I think we tolerate cooler house temperatures than most people. It will be nice when we fire up the woodstove in earnest.

Brian has been clearing an area of rotten wood and stumps to get ready to plant berries, so he built an enormous bonfire. It was the biggest we have had on our property. By now, he is a fire building expert, and he made such a clean, hot fire it made virtually no smoke. The kids love fires, so they spent the day cautiously playing near it's warmth and gathering wood for it. While getting wood they found a salamander, which they found a safer home for.
On the housewifely end of things; I have been working hard on the kids' Halloween costumes, and trying to get some knitting in during the evenings. Brian has been plastering the ceiling, laying tile, and generally making a big mess of our living space. It is worth it though to see our house get closer to completion.

We made some new soap and are getting ready for the November and December markets. We hope to have many items that could work for holiday gifts; like our soap, salves, beeswax candles and more.


  1. Someone deserves a massage and a day at the spa!

  2. Wow you all have been soooo busy! I love the plaster! Fender and Willow thought the salamander was awesome and they can't wait to see the pigs again!
    I agree with the spa day!!! You totally deserve one!

  3. hi, brett. connected to your blog through aubrey's blog. this is april, in mcminnville, with daughter freya.

    i love what you're writing about, your choices and intentions. your farm life is enviable and beauitful.

    be well.