THE HEAT IS ON.

This will be our 5th year of living without electricity – without air conditioning. And truly, it is not so bad. There are always some rough spells during the summers – a few 100-degree days that are just pretty nasty. But when you work outside all day, coming back to a chilly, air-conditioned house makes the outside seem that much worse. Once your body gets acclimated to the temperatures, when your body does the work to cool itself, it is not so bad. Really!

THAT BEING SAID – we are having a hard time adjusting this summer. I can’t exactly pinpoint why, but I have my ideas. First, the past couple of mild summers have spoiled us. We didn’t have 100-degree days, or 100 percent humidity, in June. This past week contained four consecutive scorchers with choking humidity. No thank you. Second, we have never had a summer with a baby before. We have to consider him when deciding whether to tough it out in the blazing sun to try to finish that last row of garlic. Jesse and I can deal with a little bit too much sun or heat, but it’s not just about us anymore. Plus, when it comes specifically to ME, I have a tiny, sweaty, hotbox of a human suctioned onto me for most of the day. If he isn’t literally attached to me, I am wearing him in a carrier or holding him or sleeping next to him– which is just so, so unpleasant when it is this hot.

But of course, as I write this, the heat wave has broken, and we have survived, as we always do. The heat has brought on the tomatoes, corn, and melons, and we employed some new coping mechanisms: we went to the creek every day, I fanned myself with prefold diapers while nursing Further, we closed up the windows and curtains during the day to try to preserve that little bit of cool air from the nights, and we only went into town for ice cream once.

– Hannah.

at the creek.

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FAVORS AND NEIGHBORS.

image

I was standing in the garden cultivating as best I could despite the heat. It was only May, but no one told the weather. The air was blistering hot, lingering somewhere between ninety degrees and fire. I could hear a golf cart coming up the drive, and when it came into view, I realized it was one of my favorite humans, our neighbor Sam. So I stepped into the shade to chat.

Sam’s an old-timer and has done his fair share of hard work over the years. But his son and grandson were putting up square bales of hay and wanted to see if I could come help.

We had a lot to do in the gardens, but if I’ve learned anything living out here, it’s that if someone comes asking for help, they need it. So I put down my hoe, hopped on the golf cart and spent an hour or so heaving large square bales into a barn sweating like crazy in the heavy spring heat. And when it was over, they thanked me and I just went back to what I was doing.

Then the other day Hannah and I had a bulldozer come out and clear some land for next year’s garden (more on this later). There were at least infinity trees in the area, which left infinity roots and I really felt like it needed a discing afterward to break them up, and break up the bulldozing compaction. But we don’t own a disc. Neither do Eric and Cher with whom we often work. I knew Sam and his family, however, did.

So I called Sam and sheepishly told him I needed some help, but we were willing and wanting to pay for it. Despite the fact that it’s June, that no one has a spare second, they were over shortly thereafter with a giant tractor and a disc. Then Sam’s grandkid did the discing while he and I talked about farming. When it was over I asked them how much I owed them, and they laughed. They wouldn’t let me pay them for the work. Out here, you pay in favors. And when someone asks for help, they need it, and you do it not because it helps you, but because this is a community and it helps everyone.

We truly cherish this place. And the community here is rapidly becoming our most prized possession. We don’t know what we would do without it.

– Jesse.

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MONEY FOR FARMING.

cabin.

Farming has never been about money for me. When I think back on to the guy I was when I started farming, I remember thinking very vaguely about money, like it wasn’t really something I did, or really could, care much about. As long as I was farming, and had everything I needed to do that, I was going to be happy. And for the most part I wasn’t entirely wrong.

But there are so many projects on the farm we would love to be able to afford to do, or afford to finish. We still need to skirt our house. We need to build a cellar, a springhouse, a shed, an intern shelter. We just simply don’t have the time or money. And I go out into the woods, after a long day’s work and try and clear the forest so we can have more garden space, so we can make more money, so we can do more farming, but it’s slow going, and a silly, tiring cycle of fatigue.

So we’ve recently decided to pay someone to clear it. This is a big step for us. It could mean that here in a few weeks we would have another half-acre of garden space on our property. It could mean a fair bit more food to sell, thus more money for farming.

Hannah and I are trying to build our dream homestead here, and we’re not doing it on our current budget. And although a half acre is a laughable amount of ground to most farmers, we think we’ll be able to double, but potentially triple, our income on it. Which would mean we could afford more of what we love to do––farm. It’s a bit of a concession, deciding to no longer clear it all ourselves––and ultimately deciding to invest in some light machinery––but it’s also a little bit of relief. I will soon feel like I can save some of that energy I spend felling trees and hauling logs to play with our son at night––to be able to actually hold him without wincing in pain. That alone, is worth hiring out the work.

– Jesse.

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WATER: PART ONE.

ram pump.

On Memorial Day Weekend, our friends Sarah and David, with their two lovely kids, came to visit the farm and help with the RAM pump. We had purchased the rest of the pipe required to get it going and needed someone with some expertise in plumbing to help me figure out what in the world I was doing––someone like David who actively wanted to spend his vacation working like crazy.

David is not only an engineer professionally, and has been building his own beautiful house, but he possesses a really great mind for these types of projects (if you need an engineer for anything, give him a shout!). I cannot tell you how valuable it was to have him every step of the way. I learned a ridiculous amount.

Briefly, to explain how the pump works without electricity, I’m going to adapt an analogy our neighbor’s use for their RAM: Pretend you have a room full of water balloons. On one end is a door, on the other is a small, water ballon-sized hole. Now imagine you open that door and quickly add another balloon, slamming the door back before everything falls out (think: closet full of clothing). This new balloon puts enough pressure on the other balloons that it forces a balloon out the other side. Do that seventy times or so a minute and you’ll have a fair amount of balloons forced out over time. That’s essentially what’s going on inside the pump. The water traveling down hill is the person hoarding water balloons. An air tight tank with a check valve is the room. And the water balloon-sized hole is the pipe leading uphill. No electricity required. (If you have a better analogy for how the RAM works, please feel free to tell us!)

First we had to clean out the spring and build the dam––which was strangely fun. I even got to carve “J + H” into it––you know, like the pros do. Anyway, in the dam we laid a small bit of PVC which collects water. That water then runs into a 35 gallon reservoir tank we situated a few feet away. From that reservoir tank, there are 77 feet of galvanized pipe that lead downhill to the pump.The water travels down that pipe, gathering the momentum needed to make the pipe function. And really, the first half of the day––from seven to noon––was spent just getting all that ready.

(I can write a more detailed rundown of how we did everything if you’d like––and you very well may, who knows––but I’ll just give you the gist for now.)

I had bought some of the wrong fittings so we ventured back to town to swap them out and finish the project. And by the end of the day, we had the pump working––that is to say, we had the pump pumping water through four hundred feet of pipe, uphill over seventy feet of elevation––all powered by water. Unfortunately, that was as far as we could go, because well, we didn’t yet have the holding tank.

But we bought one this weekend! So next, all we need is the piping to get it down to the house––thus the “Part One” element of the title––and we will officially have water in the cabin. And it only took two years! Uh, two years so far.

But big big thank you to David and Sarah. Couldn’t have done it without you! Getting Water: to be continued…. hopefully soon.

– Jesse

ram pump.

ramp pump.

ramp pump.

ram pump.

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SOMETHING SPECIAL.

further in red creek.

When Further was born, we really didn’t have to buy much of anything. First of all, cosleeping, breastfeeding, cloth diapering and babywearing cut out a lot of the big-ticket items all new parents “need.” But mostly, we were very blessed – the beneficiaries of many wonderful hand-me-downs and gracious gifts. When it came to clothes, the few things we personally bought were from secondhand shops or Goodwill. This, I feel, was reasonable. There is little sense in dressing a newborn – essentially a tiny pooping, peeing, vomiting, drooling machine – in organical white lace onsies all the time.

On the other hand, I did spend a chunk of change on yarn – beautiful yarn that I used to make our baby hats, sweaters, mittens, pants and stuffed toys. This is because these things will last and become precious heirlooms that we can use for any hypothetical future children and perhaps grandchildren one day. These things are worth saving. And that is how I feel about Further’s new clothes from Red Creek Handmade. Further was picked to be a brand representative, and we feel like it is a perfect fit. Kate makes all of her clothes with organic, naturally dyed linen – and these clothes are meant to get dirty. They are meant to be worn by tough kids. They are meant to last, to be well-loved, to be passed on to the next generation. And because of this, they cost a little more than a Goodwill onesie.

Supporting makers, artisans and crafters who are doing good work is a goal of ours. It is always a balance, of course. We are dirty, hard working folks who can tear through a pair of jeans or boots in a month. We need a wardrobe of grundgy work clothes, just like Further needs a number of dirty, poop stained Carter’s outfits he can ruin. But we also are trying to invest in a few future heirlooms, some well made, quality products. – from people like Kate at Red Creek, from websites like Etsy, and from craft vendors at our farmers market. The hard truth is, if we are promoters of local, organic food, we should also try to support this same standard in the other things we “consume,” even if it means spending a little more.

– Hannah.

further in red creek.

further in red creek.

further in red creek.

further in red creek.

further in red creek.

 

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