Chicks, Chives, & Grate Steampunk

A rear wheel on the push mower broke today – the plastic frame just gave up. It looks as if its twin is ready to follow suit shortly. I ordered new wheels, but the mower is out of commission until they arrive. We are in a holding pattern, alternately watering and mowing large portions of the property to keep them from drying up and blowing away until we can build the soil more deliberately.

Did some work to finish a raised bed. It already has carrots growing in one end, but the other end is getting closed off so we can fill it completely. The kids continued scooping manure out of the barn stalls and dumping it where more veggie beds are planned.

Since none of this was terribly photo-worthy, I’ll play catch-up with pictures from this spring. I bring you chicks, chives, and a really nifty steampunk iron grating I saw near the river in Spokane earlier this year. If I could salvage something like it, I’m sure I’d find a use for it on the homestead. Perhaps a post-apocalypse jaunt to Spokane would be in order, whenever that is.





Mower Troubleshooting

Yesterday I encountered the ongoing problem of our push mower refusing to re-start after it gets hot. We are already behind on the mowing, since we waited several days for a replacement primer bulb to come in the mail last week. Apparently the hot-start problem is very common in 7- to 10-year-old Briggs & Stratton engines. It can be caused by issues with the valves, the coil, or a plethora of other things – in other words, a two or three day troubleshooting process for a shade tree mechanic like myself. In other words, not something I have time to tackle right now.

I don’t think it’s a compression problem in our case, as you can clearly feel the compression stroke when pulling the starter rope. A common bit of advice on internet forums suggests solving this problem by sitting in the shade with your mower while downing a couple of beers (the beer is for you, not the mower, silly), and then starting it again after it’s cooled down.

I put the mower in the shade and spent about 20 minutes reading up on the problem online. No beer, unfortunately, as I was trying to get this done and get out the door to hike. The shade definitely shortens the refractory period, and it started right up when I was done reading. In the end, I did get the dry grass cut at the top of the hill, so I will no longer get foxtails down my boots when I go troubleshoot the soaker hoses on the caragana hedge.

First Post


My family is picking the neighbors’ raspberries. The neighbors couldn’t get to them and didn’t want them to go to waste. It’s a gorgeous, comfortable summer afternoon in the Rockies, and June’s heatwave has given way to more temperate weather. It’s raining a bit most days now, and we are learning to differentiate between the degrees within the narrow range of humidity that the arid mountain climate serves up. A day we never would’ve called humid back in the old country seems positively sticky compared to the dry weather we’ve gotten used to over the last two years, since we made our break for wide open spaces.

So my family is picking raspberries on this fine day, while I am ensconced at my desk in my cabin office, writing. How could I sacrifice quality time amongst the brambles with my family in exchange for this? I have spent every spare moment over the last few days trying to build the infrastructure for this blog. Gone are the days when I could hack together a minimalist website with my minimal knowledge of HTML code. I finally seem to have beaten WordPress, the Genesis framework, a theme, and Facebook into submission enough that I have a working machine and can get to what I really want to do, namely, writing.

Since before I had a driver’s licence, I’ve had a dream of making my living as a writer, homesteader, and stay-at-home dad in the mountains. We’re getting there. We have an acre in the mountains, with the start of a garden and a lovely array of domestic fowl, and I am raring to write. Due to the current absence of freelance work, the stay-at-home part isn’t hard, either.

We hope to use permaculture techniques to slowly transform this dry, dusty, messy acre into a food forest, a biological machine that will produce a good portion of our diet with decreasing need for maintenance as the years go by. This blog will be our story, as our arid acre becomes a food forest.

Author’s Soundtrack: The Tom Jones Fever Zone on vinyl, in memory of my grandmother.