Thursday, July 31, 2014

Steamed Hardboiled Fresh Eggs

The only draw back I see with fresh farm eggs is that thy are a bear to shell when hardboiled. I usually mutilate the white part with much if it sticking to the shell. Until recently I use to store a dozen eggs in the coldest part of my refrig for five weeks before hard boiling them. Even then I had to peel them under running water. It has such a nuisance that I eventually stopped making deviled eggs. And for making dishes where the eggs would be chopped up anyway, such as egg salad, I just hardboiled fresh eggs. When cooled, I broke the egg roughly in half then used a spoon to scoop out the egg from shell. 

I had tried all sorts of suggestions, but for some reason they never worked for me.
...salted water
...water with vinegar
.,,water with baking soda
...pricking one end with a needle talk about disaster! Should have gotten me on video trying to accomplish this one. I came to the conclusion there must be some sort of kitchen trick involved here that I'm not aware of. Or perhaps the shells on home raised eggs are thicker. Regardless, the few that I successfully pricked still peeled in chunks. 
...placing the eggs into already boiling water
...placing the eggs into cold water then bringing to a boil
...starting out with cold eggs
...starting out with room temperature eggs
...slowly heating to a boil
...simmering instead of boiling
...boil for 7 minutes, let sit in the hit water for 7 minutes, run in cold water, then shake while in the pot to crack the eggs all over
...bring to a boil then turn off the heat. Run in cool water after 20 minutes. 
...bake them in the oven 
...peel them under running water
Yes, none of these worked on my eggs. The shell always stuck to the white. 

I've always been willing to try suggestions, but until right now I've not had good results using fresh eggs. But It surely makes me wonder about those store bought eggs. What the heck to they do to them that they end up peeling so readily? Cold storage? How old are they really? Is it something they treat the shell with to keep the eggs "fresh"? I always wonder what it is they do to our food. It's scary sometimes!!! 

Recently I was given a suggestion that I'm now trying out. Steam the eggs. So here's my first attempt.

........ Room temperature fresh eggs. Bring the water in the steamer to a boil, then add the eggs. Steam for 12 minutes. Immediately cool the eggs in cold water. When cool enough to handle, peel them. 

BINGO !  It worked! I had been prepared to try steaming them in a variety of different ways, but the first time around worked. Wow, I'm impressed. So I guess I'm up for making deviled eggs again. 

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

How To Email Me

For those of you who do not wish to post a public comment, you may email me at 

Emails are NOT private (our government has pretty well established that fact) , so I may and most likely will use tidbits from emails to post on the blog. So if you don't want to see your comment pop up on the blog, don't email it to me. If you don't want your real name used, then sign it with an alias. I will honor your alias. 

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

No Work Gardens

I browse a number of various garden forums and am amazed at the number of wanna-be gardeners/farmers who want no-work gardens. They want to simply cast seeds about, then go back later to reap bountiful food. They advocate no till, meaning zero till. No pulling weeds. No loosening the soil. No soil conditioners or fertilizer. Zero prep. They don't expect to have to do anything else except perhaps water the garden if it hasn't rained for several weeks. Some even want to avoid having to do that. 

I've read several posts where these optimistic types say that they have actually tried this, and a month or two later are bitterly disappointed that their garden didn't thrive. They post pitiful photos of dead or severely stunted plants, or weedy dirt with no veggie plants growing there at all. They ask for advice and ask why they failed. But if someone suggests tilling the soil, they are adamantly against it. 

Then on the other side, I read posts by the same school of people who are claiming that this system works. Having been at serious gardening for 10 years now, I simply cannot believe them that this could possibly work. Come on now, if veggies grew that easy they would be like weeds, filling up vacant lots, growing on the roadsides, coming up in the cracks in the pavement, popping up in lawns and flower beds. It simply just doesn't happen. 

I receive a number of emails telling me to stop rototilling, that I am damaging my soil. I don't think that these people have ever had a real garden, at least not one that they need to rely upon to produce their own food. If they did, they would know that zero tilling doesn't work for vegetables. Most vegetables are annuals and benefit with loosened soil. They do poorly, if at all, in compact weedy soils. 

I've never tried growing a veggie garden anarchy style, with veggies all mixed up just growing wherever the seeds happened to land. I think it might work to some degree if the soil had been tilled or dug, weeds removed, and some form of fertilizer incorporated, all prior to casting the seeds. A lot of the seeds may not germinate successfully. But some might do okay, until the weeds also germinated, that is. How much edible food could come out of such a garden is questionable, especially if it is not watered. But how would you harvest things as they were ready without stepping on others still growing? How would the low plants grow without being shaded out by the larger ones? Then there are the sweet potatoes and potatoes to consider. You can't just simply cast those about and then walk away. 

No, I don't think a no work, anarchy style garden could produce food enough to live on. Not in the real world, to be sure. 

Drivel - Those Socks

On a previous post I had mentioned that I go through three pair of socks on a normal day. Three? Yeah, that's what people have been asking since I made that post. Did I really mean three? Well, the answer is yes. I guess it's because I wear Crocs, but my socks get really muddied when I'm working outdoors. And my work Crocs don't even have the holes along the sides! 
Perhaps if I acted like a lady.....whatever that means......I wouldn't get so dirty. But that surely ain't gonna happen. I'm thoroughly enjoying digging in the dirt, running the rototiller and mower, pulling weeds, making compost, planting stuff. And the socks tell the tale. 
So I change my socks at lunchtime and again at dinner time. They get pretty dirty. 

"Deli Guy" suggested that I forego the socks, just wear the shoes. But there's a reason that I'm wearing socks. The skin on the tops of my feet was severely damaged by sunburn about 12 years ago. Since then it easily gets damaged if I don't wear socks. Any shoes quite quickly can wear a hole in the top of my foot. 

Speaking of wearing a hole.........the soil here is quite abrasive. Hey, I live on a volcano, so it's no surprise that the soil is volcanic. There is a lot of volcanic cinder and ash in my soils. It acts like a polishing grit and is quite good at making holes in my socks. The first spot to fall victim is the heel. 
Next is the ball of the foot. I continue to wear socks with the heels out, but when the hole at the ball section gets bigger than a half dollar, I finally call it quits. The socks get uncomfortable to wear at that stage. Plus they can be a challenge to get on! ......too many holes for toes to get stuck in. But the socks don't get throw in the trash. Some get cut open and used for rags. Other get cut into strips and used as garden ties. 

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Trailer Added to the Homestead

A new piece of equipment added to the list.....a used trailer. I've been looking for a trailer for a while, but everything so far has been more money than I wanted to spend or the wrong type of trailer. Since I wasn't in a hurry, I had the opportunity to be picky. 

The other day, well it actually was two weeks ago, I arrived at the community garden and started working along with one of the early arriving volunteers. While working, a mutual friend of ours drove by with a trailer in tow. The volunteer mentioned that our friend had the trailer for sale. Wow, really? I'll buy it! I know the trailer and it would be perfect. Instantly dropping everything, I ran to hop on the ATV and head up the road to the macnut farm where our friend worked. 

Farm gate already locked. Drats. Back to the garden to see if the volunteer had our friend's cellphone number. She was one step ahead of me, but the call didn't have a good signal. It was one of those "can you hear me now" kind of calls. So it was back to the macnut farm to figure out how to get in. 

Looking at the fence with its two strands of barbed wire atop it, I decided it wouldn't be such a good idea to try climbing over it. So I eyed up the gate. Hummm. Do-able. Yeah, I know I'm in my 60's, but I ain't a cripple yet. So I scaled the 6-7 foot metal gate and over I went, leaving the ATV outside. Hiking up to the barn I was surprised to see our friend coming down the hill on the 6 wheeler. Guess he was just as surprised to see me hoofing it up the driveway! 

Anyway, I successfully clinched the deal. I'm now the proud owner of a flatbed trailer. 
So what do I need a trailer for? Hubby asked that exact question. I would be able to transport a larger load of supplies, meaning less trips to Kona or Hilo. Plus if all my purchases fit in the truck bed, then I'd be able to stop by the recycle yard and load the trailer with composted mulch for the garden. I've often wanted to pick up 20' long lumber or pipe, or 16' hog panels, so with the trailer I could do that. Plus carting the big lawn tractor to a mowing job will now be easily do-able leaving plenty of room to bring home the grass clippings. Yes, I'll use the trailer. 

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Goats N Gardens

A truism --- goats and gardens don't mix. One ends up with a satiated goat, minus a garden. 

Mr. Bucky, who I temporarily wanted to make the guest of honor at a BBQ picnic, broken into the community garden the other day. He apparently was in there enjoying the open buffet for several hours because he was totally stuffed to the gills. Yes, he did a lot of destruction eating things, but I found the pattern of his likes and dislikes to be rather interesting. 

Young cabbage consumption. Not a single leaf survived the orgy. 
Young broccoli, cauliflower, kale, and Chinese kale, 100% consumed, right down to the ground! 
Carrot tops eaten but roots, pulled up, left behind. Turnip tops nibbled, one bite out if each turnip then the rest of each one discarded. Uh, picky goat! The green part of the bok choy leaves eaten, but the white fleshy stems ignored. Radish tops eaten but many of the radishes discarded, some eaten. 
Wow, I went around picking just the best delicacies, from his point of view. He found the young daikon. Must have been getting full because he only ate the leafiest parts. Didn't bother to pull them up out of the ground. 
He hit both beds of the green beans, totally annihilating all the leaves. They now look like a bed of simply green sticks. Odd thing is that when I offered Mr Bucky green bean bushes in the past he totally refused them. But today he striped them 100%. 
He attacked two things that surprised me, passing over others that I thought he would have eaten. He didn't touch the peas. Passed them by to eat the genovese basil. Skipped over the lemon basil. Didn't touch any of the squashes. Ate the sweet potatoes down to the ground. Didn't touch the potato plants but ate every potato that he found near the surface. Somewhere during the feast he found the pineapple plants. He ate the tips off of all the outer leaves. Now THAT surprised me. Pineapple leaves are tough stiff swords. Very fibrous. And he never touched the sifter inner leaves. 
One other thing that I thought amazing was that he sampled the tomato plants. The first plant he striped the leaves off the last 12" of the uppermost stalks, he then moved to the next plant, only eating a few leaves before abandoning the tomatoes entirely. Didn't touch any of the green tomatoes themselves. 
While it was interesting to see Mr Bucky's taste preferences, I was madder than hell that he trashed the community garden. Luckily there is still a lot growing there and there were plenty of starts to replant the decimated areas. 

Mr Bucky has officially lost his freedom status. No more wondering the front pasture at night. He's now confined to one of the back pastures or else on his grazing tether. Goats are little devils......yes, I love goats for that very reason. Don't worry, I have no plans to eat or get rid of Mr Bucky. We love him dearly. But at times a goat can be difficult to own. 

How We Chose The Land We Bought

J Farms asked via email, "How did you decide to buy the particular piece of land for your homestead farm?" 

There were a lot of criteria that the land had to fit before we would have considered it. 

1- We wanted something at least 8-10 acres. More was fine, but less was not. Our farm is 20 acres, so that fit the bill. We had lived comfortably on 7 acres before, so from experience we knew that we wanted about that or more. To be truthful, hubby could have been happy in a condo, but I wanted to farm. 
2- We wanted to be away from the highway. Our place is about one mile above the highway, which turns out to be ok enough. 2 miles would have been better in order to eliminate all highway noise, but we can live with what we've got just fine.
3- It needed to be within a 30 minute drive from a town for basic shopping, banking, medical, restaurant, gasoline, and farmers market. Turns out that we are 10 minutes from town. 
4- Big trees. Not a stringent requirement, but it was a significant bonus that the property had lots of tall trees. Hubby likes trees to look at. I like trees to utilize, besides look at. 
5- Affordable real estate taxes. A must! Planning on being retired, we had to be able to afford to pay the taxes. 
6- Privacy. The more private, the better. Although we are within a few hundred feet of our neighbors, the land offers privacy due to trees and terrain. Our privacy is important to us. 
7- Unrestricted fee simple title. We did not want leasehold land. And no covenants and restrictions. 
8- Unimpeded access. A paved road wasn't a requirement, but we wanted to be able to reach our land without too much difficulty. When we purchased our homestead site, the road was gravel/cinder. It has since been paved. Unpaved was fine by us. 
9- At the time we were looking for land we wanted access to electricity, telephone, and county water. Our land had none at the time we purchased it but the ability was there to acquire them. But since then, we have no desire to hook into the power grid nor hook up to county water. And we've ditched the land line since it cannot provide us with high speed Internet. Dial up is just not acceptable. 
10- Had to be in a low crime area.
11- Had to get adequate rainfall. The area of the homestead farm is always green even during drought years. Average annual rainfall is 60-80". 
12- Had to be suitable for agriculture, especially vegetable production. This particular piece of land turned out to be a guess on our part, but it panned out. Veggies, fruits, and pasture all do well on this land. Drainage is decent. Has enough soil to work with. Temperature range is good for most crops. Amount of sun is adequate. And very important to us, the soil wasn't contaminated by previous owners. Old sugar cane land is notorious for chemical contamination. Any previous crop growing is suspect for chemical residues. Our land had been cattle pasture as far back as the locals could recall. Rumor has it that Kahuku Ranch used it for horses way back. Since I sometimes dig up old style horse shoes, there may be truth in that rumor. 
13- Had to have decent neighbors. Every neighbor we met seemed fine. Perhaps odd, a bit crazy, or downright loony, but all pretty much ok. 
14- The neighborhood had to be halfway decent looking. No line up of junk cars, no mountains of trash. I don't mind stuff laying around, but the abandoned junkyards that we saw over in Puna just weren't our cup of tea. By contrast, we really weren't interested in having one of those ultra compulsive landscaping types next door. They surely wouldn't be happy with my casual farm style, so no need in making enemies from the get-go. Turns out that one next door neighbor was a compulsive lawn mowerer, but he never held it against us that our front field wasn't kept neatly shorn. We hit it off fine and spent many a visit shooting the breeze for hours. 
15- Had to be buildable. We looked at some parcels where we would not be able to build a house, or place the house in the spot we considered acceptable. We wanted no hurdles to have to battle and conquer. 
16- Had to be a location that wasn't going to have adverse changes in the near future. We didn't want to move then discover that a sewage treatment plant was scheduled for next door, or that a highway was planned to go through the center of the land. 
17- We had to be able to buy it and have any loan paid off within 3 years. As a pledge to ourselves, we needed to be debt free in order to move here. We knew that having any outstanding debts would jeopardize our ability to successfully make the transition. By having the seller hold the mortgage, liquidating all our assets, working as many hours possible prior to moving, we were able to achieve this, just barely making our deadline. We looked at plenty of properties that fit all the other criteria except this one. Some were absolutely marvelous pieces. But alas they were beyond what we could afford and still make our moving date target. 
18- And finally, it had to be in Ka'u. This is the spot that we liked the best that was in the affordable range. 

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Lanai - Finishing Touches

Before moving furniture in, we wanted to get the lanai officially finished. That meant making the door thresholds and installing the ceiling lights. So I pleased to announce....ta-da......we're officially done! Yippee! Another room complete. 

Hubby is the one who decides upon the light fixtures. While I don't really care as long as there is light, he's real picky. Oh my,  it can be agonizing watching him trying to decide which fixture to buy. None are "the one", so he has to get the best alternative. I try to find something else to do in the store while he is weighing all the options. It's just too painful to stand there and watch the process. 
He decided on this goody from Home Depot. 

Disclaimer ........ This is not instructions on how to install a light fixture. So I'm not going through the steps for you. But after checking the box to be sure all the parts were present and ok, the next step was to prepare the ceiling receptacle. 
Ready. Next was to prepare the wires on the fixture, lining everything up. And checking to be sure there is nothing wrong with the fixture that we can see.
Now connect all the wires correctly. I helped by holding the fixture up, except when I called a time out to snap a photo. Screwing the fixture into place and the job is just about done. 
The end result turned out just fine. The addition of three small bulbs and it was ready for testing. Yup. Worked just fine. 

The other job to finish was custom making the door thresholds. The openings use to house two big sliding glass doors, but we now have them as open walkways. Being that the lanai was an open porch about two inches lower than the living area, we had to do something about that drop. The easiest thing was making wooden thresholds. 

I had picked up slabs of ash to use for the thresholds. Several people had suggested ash. I checked with David before buying ash just to be sure he could work with it. Thumbs up. Ok then. David went to work in that wood and came up with a decent final product. We're happy with the results. 

Little Porch - Update

David finished cutting and gluing the tiles in place. With the weather being so wet in combination with no wind, the glue took a whole week to set. But finally I was able to get the tiles grouted. Hey, looks pretty good, I must say. 
Just a bit of trim work to finish up and it's done. Check off another one on the job list! 

"Wishfulfarmer" asked via email, "How do you get all those tiles cut on a slant? Do you live near a store to do that?"   I'm using a tile saw that looks sort of like a table saw. It has a water tray under the blade so that the blade stays wet while cutting. Surprisingly it does a good job for a little saw. The cuts are straight and clean. Quite professional looking. Considering that we are laying tile in most of the house, the saw has been an excellent investment. Once I am done using it for floor tiles I plan to keep it for awhile. I'd like to try my hand at some artistic work with cutting coral and lava. 

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Riding Mower Repair

.....Mower deck belt replacement.....

When I was looking to buy a riding mower, several people told me that I had better learn to fix things myself or else plan on spending a lot of money at a repair shop. I took their first suggestion. I've only owned the mower one year but I've already replaced a spindle, mandrel pulley, changed oil and filters, repaired a tire, and generally kept things aligned and clean. Now the mower deck belt broke, so it's my next repair job. 

I had thought myself clever by buying a belt in advance when I had purchased the spindle. But alas, I was ignorant of the mower parts. What I purchased was the engine drive belt. I discovered my mistake when trying to install it on the mower deck. Drats, too short.,....something's wrong. An investigation quickly revealed my error. But hey, I might need that belt anyway and it's good to keep one on hand. So on my trip to Hilo I stopped at Sears and bought two mower deck belts, one for now and a reserve. Since I wasn't 100% sure of the part number, I opted to buy them at Sears. The price actually wasn't bad because I got to use my Sears points I had acquired when I originally bought the mower. 
(The right belt this time!)

Now to do the task....install the new belt. First of all, how does the belt go? No problem. Didn't even have to look at a manual. The diagram was right on the mower deck. I guess that's there for mower owners like me who haven't a clue.
 Looking back and forth between the diagram and the actual mower, it was really easy to figure it out. I didn't even have to drop the deck to get the belt into place. Just loop it around the various pulleys and belt keepers. The hardest part was getting up off the ground afterward. 
(Not a great photo but the space is really tight.) 
I opted not to go to the hassle of dropping the mower deck off of the tractor. Even though the space was right, I didn't have much of a problem treading the new belt into the appropriate spots. 

With the mower back in business I took the opportunity to get a bit of mowing done. The grass has been growing like crazy with all the rain lately, so the mowing had to go slowly. I actually went over the areas three times, bringing the deck a notch lower with each pass. Within two hours I had accumulated 4 jumbo piles of grass clippings. Quite a haul! Then it began raining. Sigh. 

The mower is back in the barn again awaiting another morning of no rain. And that might be days from now. I've got a couple more hours of mowing ahead of me just to catch up with the grass. But this will give me plenty of clippings for mulching, just what I desperately need down at the seed farm. 

Friday, July 18, 2014

Thoughts About Timesavers

Before you get excited, no....this not a list of my favorite timesavers. And no photos either because I couldn't  come up with anything interesting. A photo of a lawnmower just didn't excite me. 

I came inside mid-afternoon to take a hot shower and start up the woodstove. I was thoroughly wet from being rained on while taking care of the animals and a bit chilled. Once the stove was roaring, I thought that a nice cup of mocha would be the thing to do, taking into consideration that I have a bit of a cold at the moment. While sitting and drinking my mocha I got to thinking. For the past 10+ years I've been attempting a less complicated lifestyle, more simple and basic. That included using less modern conveniences....less equipment and power tools, less commercially prepared foods (people and livestock). Those modern conveniences are all timesavers. And sometimes money savers too. 

Hummmm. Time. My time is quite occupied now. I seldom have time left over and never have time to get bored......or watch TV, which I don't happen to own. So wouldn't it make sense to use as many timesavers as possible? Well, my parents and grandparents thought so. They lusted after timesavers -- automatic clothes washing machines, self defrosting refrigerators, no-iron wrinkle free clothing, automatic dishwashers, commercial foods from the store and ready made meals, instant foods like coffee and oatmeal, floor scrubbers, power tools, cars (vs horse cart). Some were work savers, but some were more an issue of saving time. 

Timesavers come with a price. And for some people the price might seem worth it because of other value attached to them. I saw that my grandparents and parents considered timesavers to be status symbols. As a young child I often heard the stories...."Your uncle gave me a new Frigidaire for Christmas, the first on our block." "I had your uncle take the old wringer to the dump to make room for the Bendix (automatic clothes washer). We were the first house in the neighborhood to get a Bendix." But I bet buying those status symbols grieved my uncles, who had to work hard to earn the money to buy them.  Sure, that frig and washing machine were convenient, but pricey. My one uncle was a nurseryman, so I suspect that he had to plant more shrubs and trees, work longer hours, try to find more customers in order to pay the bill. The other uncle had a better job but had to work overtime for extra cash. But status was important to both of them. More important than free time obviously. 

My parents saw timesavers as must-haves. They must have scraped together pennies to save for the next item (or the pay off the Sears credit card). Not just status symbols, they were actual timesavers, freeing them up to do more work. Rather than using the new found free time to relax or enjoy life with a hobby or something, those items just created a compulsive work ethic in my parents. My parents took only two real vacations during their lifetimes, and took maybe only 6 weekends off a year. Buying timesavers caused my parents to have to work harder to earn the money to pay off the debt that last one caused so that they could then go out and buy the next. Though they didn't see it this way, they had become slaves to their timesavers. 

To make things worse, timesavers just didn't cost the initial purchase price. They often broke and needed repairs. My parents, as with most people, never factored that into the equation and were always stressed out if something brokedown. So for them, their timesavers caused stress, worry, frustration, grief. 

What I see with my own life, and when I look around at other people, I notice that people cannot break away from their time saving devices. Either they don't want to or if they do, they don't know how. Get this, I've talked with young people who can't cook food without a microwave! They simply don't know how. Certain timesavers are now such a part of our culture and lifestyle that people no longer can function without them. The know-how just isn't there. I found that to be true when I started to shift to a homestead style life. I had to rediscover or research how to do things without resorting to the very methods I was shunning. 

I have no intention of ditching all the tools and other timesavers. But I have become selective on which ones I'll keep. Over time I've noticed at I'm abandoning more of them as I'm getting comfortable with my simpler lifestyle. No automatic dishwasher. I have a microwave but it seldom ever gets used. I use an automatic clothes washer but often hand wash smalls. For example, I go through 3 pairs of socks in the typical day. It's simple to hand wash them for a week before dropping them into the machine with the rest of the wash. I don't use a toaster and got around that by kicking the toast & jam habit. There's a lot of other kitchen timers savers I don't use because we both opted to change our diet. 

Timesaving building tools I'm not willing to give up. I'm not interested in hand drilling holes or hand sawing wood. But I do operate the farm without a tractor, backhoe, or other heavy equipment. It takes me longer but it's the kind of work I enjoy now. Hubby has often offered to hire a backhoe, but by using that timesaver I'd miss out on the close feeling to nature that I get while working my land. 

Thinking about it, I don't want to go back to ironing my clothes either. I never use an iron anymore. I'm very willing to live without a clothes dryer, but I like the modern fabrics that allow me to just take the clothes from the drying line and wear them. I have no issues with taking the time to hang the clothes out and then retrieve them when dry.

We seldom use a vacuum cleaner, both of us preferring a broom. All carpeting was ditched because of the mold problem in my climate so all our floors are either tile or wood. A hair dryer would get my hair dry faster, but I really don't need it., so I don't use one. A self defrosting refrigerator isn't worth the cost to us, so we use Stecas which are your basic sort of frig and freezer that need defrosting once a month.

Commercial livestock feed is a big, big time saver. I never thought about that until I started creating my own livestock feed. Boy, a LOT of time can be spent feeding animals. So I can understand why most people will never break away from commercial feed. But growing and gathering my own livestock feed was one of my projects, so I accept the time factor. But I do resort to using some commercial feed when time is short, especially on shopping days or when we take time out to hike, hit the beach, or visit with friends. Home-feeding livestock is one of those things that I know how to do, and could do it 100% if I had to, but commercial feed is a timesaver that I'm willing to embrace and pay for in certain circumstances. I find though that I have to be careful. It's so easy to dump feed out of a bag that it's tempting to do it daily. I have to remind myself that this homestead lifestyle isn't about being enslaved to the feed mill. 

Commercial human food is another big, big timesaver. Making all one's meals from scratch is very time intensive, especially if one is growing all the basics. Using store bought food is much quicker. Using "instant" food is even faster -- microwave meals, heat-n-eat meals, ready made foods, instant coffee, etc. But they come with some hefty cost. Not just the money, but all the chemicals, preservatives, contaminations. For us, they are no longer worth it. No time saving food resides in our house. And since we seldom eat bread anymore, I've ditched the bread buying habit too. 

I suppose it comes down to what we are willing to pay and whether we prefer the idea of doing it the old-fashioned way. Perhaps I can't accomplish as much in a day as I could, but I no longer see the need to. I truely enjoy the do-it-yourself old fashioned ways. 

I don't shun all timesavers. In fact I've proven to embrace a few with gusto. The riding lawnmower and ATV come to mind. But there's plenty that no longer fit in my life. 

I would prefer to slow down even more in the transportation department, but it is impossible here. I would truly like to use a pony or horse cart, or ride my horse to go visiting friends. Alas there is no way safe to travel here by horse, at least not from my homestead location. 

For some reason abandoning many of the time saving modern conveniences has been good for me. I voluntarily stopped wanting them, which is different from wanting but not being able to afford them, to be sure. But the mindset of downgrading to a more basic life has not only been acceptable in my viewpoint, but actually preferred. 

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Hawaiian Cultural Festival

I don't know how it is on the other islands, but Big Island hosts a number of cultural festivals throughout the year. Our Volcanoes National Park hosts one each year, alternating the venue between the two park divisions. Lucky for me, this year it was held at the Kahuku Ranch site, just practically next door to the homestead. Couldn't be more convenient! 
(Photo- hale ho'okipa could be translated literally as hospitality house. Most big events I've attended host a hospitality tent or room, so this booth fit that niche. I found it to be quite interesting when I finally took the time to explore the table and ask questions.)

Since I live in Hawaii, I figure I really should become familiar with the Hawaiian culture to some degree. I'm not out to become an expert, but I find the culture to be very informative as it pertains to my own adventure. Hawaiians developed successful ways to grow food here and worked with the local resources to adequately survive. I have been learning a lot studying their techniques. I use Hawaiian techniques for growing many crops and am developing a barter system that is ahupua'a-like. I trade with hunters that bring meat down off the mountain, trade for foods produced within my immediate locale, trade for fish. 

The cultural festivals here vary, depending upon who is hosting them. But they all are interesting. The one held this past weekend has many on-hands educational booths where people could not only get information, but they could sit down and try their hand at various Hawaiian activities. And lots of people really did exactly that, both tourists and residents alike. Pretty cool. A lot of fun. 

I stopped at numerous booths and found them really great in one way or another. Hawaiian games featured types of Hawaiian style bowling and tug of war.

(Hawaiian style bowling balls.)

 The nose flute booth was way cool, where people could make their very own flute and learn how to play it.
 Several kids were in the ukulele tent trying out the ukes. 

The kapa cloth booth was quite informative, with several specimens of modern made cloth.
 The knowledge to make this traditional Hawaiian bark cloth had been lost. Lost! Egads. But through the passion and dedication of one woman (I've forgotten her name), the technique was laboriously rediscovered, now many people practice kapa making and offer demonstrations and information at the cultural festivals. This particular booth has many different kapa beaters (wooden clubs) and lots of design printing sticks. Yeah, I don't know the Hawaiian term for them, but they are cool anyway. It's the designs that attract my eye, geometrics that are very pretty printed onto the cloth. 
I hope to never have to rely upon kapa as my only source of cloth, but I'm glad that the knowledge has been retained. 

Geometric designs are common to early quilting here, though nowadays the quilts have become artistic creations including the play of color upon a theme, or outright picture designs. 

Quilting is extremely popular here with Ka'u residents. Both men and women create some fabulous quilts. Don't need quilts in Hawaii? Are you kidding? They make nice wall hangings, bedspreads, and yes, there are plenty of homes where they are used to keep the occupants warm at night. 

The bamboo stamp tent turned out to be most popular with little children. 
Little tykes created their own stamping sticks then had the opportunity to learn how they worked. 
Even adults it into the fun, experimenting with designs and color. 

Another booth featured lauhala weaving that involves processing leaves from a particular tree, the hala, then weaving them into hats, mats, bracelets and a multitude of other items. Notice that the mats people are sitting on are lauhala mats? Lauhala weaving is a good craft to learn for anyone wanting to exercise their artistic heart or be self reliant on a homestead. One could create all sorts of things. 
The hats on display were awesome and our locale lauhala master was there to help answer questions. She's a real gem of a lady.
Real handcrafted lauhala hats are quite popular. The hats, like the ones pictured here, are real works of art and their price reflects that. Be prepared to shell out big bucks if you want one. I could never bring myself to buy one, only to see one of my dogs get a hold of it someday. Or have the cat sharpen its claws on it. Yikes! I'd have to store it in a glass display cabinet. But I do indeed love these hats. For me, I'll have to either learn to make my own someday or else buy one from a person learning how to weave them. 
I'd be happy with just a plain lauhala hat. But the master weavers are capable of putting all sorts of designs not their weaving, making the hats absolutely eyecatching. Note the feather hatbands on these hats. Kilohana, our local feather crafter, makes them. 
You talk about tedious work! He hand trims, shapes, then sews each feather in place one at a time. That's an art form unto itself. 

 Another weaving booth featured coconut fronds. People were busily making their own bowls and hats and looked like they were being pretty successful with their attempts. 
I have a number of frond woven items about the house. I've yet to create any myself, but I support our local craftspeople. Someday I'll try my hand at this. 

The lei booths were really popular. People were making not just neck leis but wrist and hair adornments too. 
The leis that were on display were beautiful. There were many different kinds and styles. 

Lei making is not just stringing flowers into a giant necklace. Techniques varying.....stringing, plaiting, twisting. Materials vary.....all sorts of local materials including stems, leaves, flowers, and shells. 

Feathers were used in old Hawaiian culture for a number of things. And modern Hawaiian uses include leis, hat bands, mini-kahili for decoration. The feather craft tent was especially popular with the people at the festival this year. 

Hawaiian traditional medicines are making a comeback. Hawaii in general embraces alternative medical treating far more than what I saw on the mainland. Thus Hawaiian medicine is actively practiced here. I've only attended two lectures about Hawaiian medicinals, and I found them to be intriguing. 

Both the gardening, taro, and the food booths saw lots of activity. I, for one, was glad to see both booths featuring Hawaiian foods. It gave me the opportunity to glean a few more tidbits of knowledge to apply to my homestead. And not just knowledge, but plants too. At the gardening booth I picked up some sugar cane, olena (turmeric), and pia. I've never grown pia before but I wanted to give it a try.
At the taro (kalo) tent I really lucked out bigtime. I came away with a half dozen mana ulu hulis. This is a variety I really want to grow but has been difficult to locate. Bingo! Got it!

 Over at the food booth they were handing out samples of several Hawaiian oriented foods for people to try. Sugar cane. Cooked taro and sweet potato. Poke, and more. 

Many festival goers discovered the live entertainment going on at the prettily decorated stage. Hawaiian style music and hula. Always popular here. Yes, us local folk enjoy this. It's not just put on the entertain the tourists. Lots of people around here play ukulele, slack key guitar, and dance hula. If tourists want to watch, fine. But we do these things for ourselves. 

Other activities included info lectures by the park rangers and guided walks & hikes in the park. This year I didn't partake in the hikes because I had other plans for the afternoon. But I do plan to bring hubby back so that we can explore the new trails. 

There were some vendors also set up this year. The requirement was that they had to offer Hawaiian cultural oriented items, so I saw book vendors, medicinals, t-shirts, and of course....poi! What would be a Hawaiian gathering without poi! 

At past festivals I picked up information about plenty of other Hawaiian techniques......plant uses other than food and medicinal, dyeing, sandal making, ti uses, poi pounding, house construction, canoe making, fishing, and more. 

The Kahuku Ranch division of the park is, in my opinion, an great location for a cultural fair. I just wish one could be held here every year.