Monday, May 23, 2011

A Special Visit and I Actually Design Something: Green Acres Weekend Update

First, let me say that many of the happenings last week deserve their own posts, and as long as I find an extra hour or five this week, more details will come.  The best way for me to handle this will be chronologically, and in photos, of course.

One of the cool things about homeschooling is the opportunity to ditch The Three R's for the day and take a field trip.   Another mom in our church graciously organized a zoo trip for over 100 homeschoolers, which meant that I got to spend the day asking my daughter the specifics on various and sundry vertebrates, because I'm a fun mom like that.  But after a while I gave up (or ran out of questions - I'm not a biologist) and started taking photos for a lap book we'll make.

Crowned Crane

Is the giraffe a staple of every zoo?
Next up: I got to be a stage mom.  Akea's dance recital was this week, which kept us busy with two rehearsals and two performances.  I was uncertain as to how much she liked dance up until now, but I think the recital won her over.  Or maybe it was getting flowers.  At any rate, on Friday night she intermittently would stop dancing, shade her eyes, and peer out into the audience, looking for us.  Fortunately, she had everyone rolling!

I think the fun costumes were a hit, too.
Finally, back at Green Acres, we got a lot of rain...and then it cleared up on Saturday just in time for a visit from Aunt Dottie, Uncle Hank, Byron's cousin Heinrich, his wife Donna, and his daughter Anna.  It's been a couple decades since any of them had been here, and they recalled how the farm used to look as we walked back toward the barn and before the guys disappeared into the woods...where Heinrich found his initials carved into a tree!  Aunt Dottie also got to again see the room she was born in, which is Charlie's room.  And they left us with this:

Byron's Great-Granddaddy gave this milk container to Aunt Dottie, his granddaughter.  We feel so honored that she and Uncle Hank have passed it on to us! 

Here we are...and this visit deserves - and will get - its own post!
Right now I'm going to let you in on a little secret.  I have that degree in architecture, right?  So I come up with all these cool design ideas for the house, right?  Um, not quite.  Since my brain has been rather preoccupied with children for the past almost seven years, Byron oftentimes comes up with and executes creative ideas in and out of the house.  Does this irk me to no end?  Sometimes.  But then every once in a while, my old muse remembers I exist and pays me a visit. 

First let me mention that with our animals, we are following the Polyface model of rotating birds (chickens) after herbivores (cows) in order to restore pasture, provide food in the form of larva for the chickens, and thus control said larva from hatching into flies.  Joel Salatin of Polyface explains this in great detail in his books, but he primarily follows patterns seen in nature and has been able to mitigate much disease and produce outstanding food.  Have you seen Food Inc.?  Cue it up on Netflix when you're done with this post and when you watch it, look for the part that features Salatin.  Even though we're on a MUCH smaller scale, we're following the Polyface model of using portable electric fencing to rotate our animals.

Since we have such young calves, we decided we needed a light, portable shade device that we could easily move from pasture to pasture.  After discussing various options, here's what I came up with:

Tarp over PVC anchored to bulky landscape ties = portable shade!
I'll share the design details in a post this week; it was very simple to construct!  I also worked a bit on those delinquent rain barrels.

And let's Barn Hop again at Homestead Revival!  Click the button below:


  1. I saw the portable shade on the Homestead Barn Hop and thought it might work for our tomatoes this summer. It gets so hot here in August that our tomatoes get sun scorched and everything but the peppers die. All of that to say that I'm looking forward to your post on how to set them up.

    Also, I wanted to let you know that I almost cried as I read about your guests this weekend. All of that is incredibly special!

  2. Thanks so much for your comment! I have the cow shelter post almost ready to go. You could do the same thing for less $$ by just sticking rebar into the ground and running the PVC over the plants.

    Moving back here has been pretty emotional (in a good way) for many of us!