May 18, 2014

Painting tethers

We have a pen where the goats sleep at night, it has plenty of shade and cover from rain with enough room to walk around and is secluded enough that it keeps them calm.

In the morning we take them out and tether them around the yard to eat back the jungle.  We started with premade tethers designed for small dogs but they fall apart after a few weeks because these goats a strong! And they like to pull!

From the hardware store I bought vinyl coated steel wire rope. Each end gets an eyelet and cable clamps.  I have 3/8" and 3/16" tethers in use. The smaller diameter the wire rope, the more difficult it is to assemble the clamps.  One end gets a caribeaner to easily attach and detach from a post and the goat end gets a steel link that is more difficult to open and close. 

A loose goat goes straight for the things we just planted and then to the things we planted last week. Iʻve turned my back on a tethered goat only to have it walk past me to get to the sweet grass.  I'm pretty sure they grow thumbs while I'm not looking.

The tethers get dirty and after a few weeks the eyelets, clamps and carribeaners start to rust. A gray dirty cable is difficult to find lying in the woods and late in the evening so we bought some neon orange spraypaint to make them stand out.  I coil the cables up so that when I spray the ends I also hit the body of the cable, this creates stripes to help with visibility and also wastes (a tiny bit) less paint.

I paint in a box to reduce splash damage.

May 15, 2014


We've been in this house about a year.  It was a foreclosure and had been vacant for 2 years so the jungle had grown a lot.  Having our own house and land that needs a lot of work has turned us into homesteaders.

Washing a dog on 2.5 acres of land is homesteading.  Clearing brush on that land is homesteading.  Doing these things in your postage stamp of a yard is not.  I don't know why.

Homesteading means pickling, making our own yogurt, cutting down trees and digging up stumps. Digging up invasive species by the roots and composting on a larger scale.

I have sharpening stones and I sharpened my two machetes, garden clippers, wood chisels.

We get views like this. While this isn't amazing and picturesque Hawaii, it is quiet.  There're no people or cars or buildings.  This is the view from the corner of our property of our neighbor's cow fields.

The jungle is so dense that I still haven't walked from one side to the other through the middle.

Friday is new goat day.  Two new little white ladies will join the herd.  I hope this will make Lani feel a little less lonely with her sister is gone.   It means a lot more grass to eat, which means I need to be on my game for working in the yard, taking advantage of what they clear.  I don't have a budget to build anything on that space but maybe I can put down cardboard and rocks to keep it clear. 

May 4, 2014

Field trip

I went on a field trip to Volcano National Park with ~50 fourth and fifth graders.

It. Was. Awesome.

I drove a van and was responsible for 13 kids over two days.  I finally learned most of their names. It still a challenge call everyone to get them rounded up so we named our van Super Group.  And we had our poop in a group.

I got them to be kind of quiet when I needed and they all came running when I yelled "Super Group hele mai."

When there's no school work and only adventure and exploration then kids are totally peaches.  Put them outside away from kendamas and homework and they behave pretty well.  The only time I had trouble was when they were exposed to a buffet and they started experimenting with food.

We spent the night in KMC, military barracks.  Perfect for kids. Volcano is mostly a tourist destination, so it was awesome go to see touristsʻ faces when the instructors were yelling at the kids in Hawaiian. Itʻs telling to see that tourists have the same sense of entitlement as 4th graders.

We went on hikes and I hoped would exhaust the kiddos but they were still up at 5:30 all on their own.  I told them to keep it down so they played cards. We spent most of both days on our feet, I came home sore, stiff and tired but it really helped stretch out my back and it felt a lot better for about 2 weeks.  My Hawaiian improved measurably.

I spend most days in a computer lab and have peripheral interaction with these kids on a daily basis.

They all know me but until this trip I only knew the names of the bad kids.  Being responsible for them changed the dynamic. I was assigned most of the low key good kids and they were a blast. We had conversations and inside jokes.  I got to hear them sing the lyrics to salacious pop songs.

It was nice to become friends with these kids.

Oh beautiful, prescient Anne. I know just how you feel.