Tag Archives: tomato sauce

Summer 2014

tao-seph-fireWe kicked off Summer with a solstice party that I may try to do on a regular basis.

‘Midsummer Mayhem’ as I called it featured a large bonfire, a pickup truck pool, lawn games, garlands, and me in loin cloth and antlers for fun.


duplex-back-plasteredThe major summer accomplishment was getting the 2nd layer of plaster done on all of the buildings.  The 2nd coat is the most labor-intensive coat, and involves sifting, mixing, and applying a large amount of plaster.   I owe a lot to my volunteers who put in a lot of sweat getting it done this year.

The finish coat won’t take nearly as much effort, though getting it nice and smooth will take a decent amount of time.  I’m excited to get it done at least in the common house next year, it’ll drastically lower the amount of dust that coats everything now.

Holy Shiitakes!

shiitake-harvest4I got a great harvest of shiitakes off of the mushroom logs from the 2012 workshop and a previous smaller batch of logs.  There are usually 2 big flushes of mushrooms each year, one in the spring and one in the fall.  I did some soaking of the logs prior to the logs fruiting to give them some extra moisture and I think it really paid off.

I think the mushrooms will be a pretty big piece of the puzzle when it comes to making Maya Creek financially sustainable.  I helped fund a kickstarter project to product a book called “Farming the Woods”, and I finally got my signed copy in the mail.  It looks to have some other great ideas on how to make a living off of non-timber products in a temperate forest environment.

The Garden Harvest

pasta-sauceFor the last couple months there’s been a weekly routine of harvesting the garden on Monday and then spending the next two days processing the harvest by canning or dehydrating it.  The sun hasn’t been cooperating too much this year as far dehydrating goes so a lot of it has been canned.

The tomato harvest was intense this year.  Despite getting off to a slow start I’ve ended up with 20-25 quarts of tomato sauce and probably another 6 quarts of salsa.  The amount of time and effort that go into it don’t make financial sense, but it’s hard to argue the quality of the end product.

Without my volunteers I’d be spending the vast majority of my time working in the garden and processing food.  I enjoy that work, and I hope that’s how I eventually spend my late summers, but for now I need to spend a lot of time earning money for construction and on the actual construction itself.

The Cistern Pit

cistern-hole-dugThe last part of the Summer was spent digging out the cistern hole. It was originally dug out in 2012, but because of too many things going on, it was covered up and left for the following year.  Unfortunately, the temporary roof collapsed and it filled with water, which then caused the walls to partially collapse in.

Sean, Caroline, Billy, and myself spent several hard days of digging and hauling out buckets of clay from the hole.  The original plan called for simply attaching mesh to the clay walls and spreading concrete on it directly and then building a thick frost barrier wall around the top.

Since the pit is now much larger, I’m planning on essentially building a below-grade concrete box, pouring a rebar-reinforced concrete slab, and the walls will be cinder blocks filled with rebar and concrete.  I’ll backfill outside of the cistern up to the frost line and then build the thick frost barrier wall and use that to help frame up the roof cap when I pour it.

Raising the Roof

The big news is that the roof is going up quickly.  Probably one of the few things that’s going faster than I anticipated.  The weather has been exceptionally cooperative, all the same, we are running out of time before the cold moves in so I’ve strung two large blue tarps over the site so that we could possibly work even if the weather wasn’t great and wouldn’t have to go through the labor intensive process of covering and uncovering the walls every time the weather got bad.

I considered covering the site from the beginning, but ruled it out based on how hard and costly it would be, but looking back on the unusually wet summer we’ve had here, it would have been a good idea to do it earlier.  Who would’ve guessed though?

Tao raising the roof.The flow of visitors(i.e. free labor) has tapered off somewhat and Liz has injured her back somehow.  That left me with the unenviable task of raising the roof mostly alone.  I consulted with Tom Mudd, a family friend down the way, and he filled in a lot of my questions on how to design the roof and what I’d need.  He also informed me I’d need a minimum of 3 people to put the ridge beam on.  I didn’t have the luxury of waiting for volunteers so I pondered and came up with what I felt was a fairly ingenious method and managed to do it all by myself.  I’ve since hung all of the rafters and cross-ties and started putting the purlins on.

It’s now become clear that we won’t be staying in the building this winter, and we’ve decided to try to leave around the last part of October.  At the current pace we should have the roof done and the protective plaster on easily by that time.  Our plans for the winter are to get some sort of used RV and migrate south, visiting other intentional communities, ecovillages, and like-minded people along the way.  We’ll also probably spend some time in Virginia working on Liz’s house there.

Liz stuffing between the balesIn other news, we were in the news last week.  We were the cover story for the Columbia Missourian which you can see here.  They took some nice photos and wrote a pretty good article.  It looks like the same article also got put on a number of news sites in St. Louis.  A guy named Glenn who’s building an earthship in Union, MO called me tonight after reading about us on Yahoo! News.  It’s great having all the cool people come to us without even having to search them out.

The garden has slowed down, but still producing a large number of tomatoes.  The squash are producing a second explosion, which we could probably have done without since we’ve got two large overflowing crates of them as it is.  Liz has canned about 35 jars of pickles as well as a couple jars of pasta sauce.  She’s also discovered  that you can use regular jars from the store to can with.  Jars from things like pasta sauce and pickles will seal shut if you do them just like the special canning jars.  That ought to save some money and what a great way to reuse something rather than recycling it.

The Missouri Department of Conservation provided us with channel catfish and bluegill fingerlings for our pond.  It was more than a small chore hauling the pond water up to the truck to have them put the fingerlings in at the drop location and then hauling them back down.  We haven’t got the road accessible back there yet so I had to make a half dozen trips with the garden cart.  Next spring we’ll be getting the bass fingerlings for free from the MDC as well.

Justin destroying the noobsToday we took a brief break from everything and went to a “Knapp-In” in Booneville, MO about an hour away.  Justin and Melainia, our friends from Fulton invited us out.  Justin knapps flint and makes his own spears, at’latls, darts, arrows, bows, etc.  It was really interesting watching the people knapp arrowheads and knives.  Justin participated in the at’latl contest.  For those that don’t know, an at’latl is a deviced used to essentially extend the length of ones arm allowing you to throw a spear or dart much harder and farther.  Although he’s technically new at the contest throwing, he cleaned the floor with all of the rookies, myself included, although to be fair it was only my first time to ever try to throw one at all. Here’s a video of Justin hurtling a dart with an at’latl.

That’s it for this installment.  We’re in the home stretch and the weather is starting to cool off.  We’ll be working pretty much non-stop except for a brief excursion down to Mississippi for my 10 year high school reunion.