The Schwindt Christmas Letter

2022 Edition





We made a fire pit! Theoretically a fire pit is relaxing and romantic, but for little boys it is just a huge flaming circle into which various things must be thrown. For a 10-month old, it is a bright glowy thing to be explored at all costs. Still, it will get some good use in the long run.

General items

It’s that time again. If you missed last year’s episode, you can CLICK HERE to read it, although the plot and characters aren’t complicated and so you will likely have no problem jumping right in.

The good news is that this year’s letter will probably have more pictures and fewer sentences. Thinking has become difficult. Each child that comes along reduces a father’s brain power by a percentage.

I think this is the real explanation for ‘Dad jokes’. Most of us were clever at one time. But once you pass a certain threshold of age + children, it’s nothing but low-hanging fruit in the humor department. Sometimes the fruit isn’t even on the tree, it’s just laying there on the ground half-eaten. I hear sirens in the distance and I am compelled to look at Gregory and say, “Looks like they’re coming for you”. If Theodore stubs his toe, I blurt out, “Well I guess we’ll have to amputate.” I strap something down on the trailer, and I can’t not say, “that’s not going anywhere.”

It’s only a matter of time before I start asking people if they are “working hard or hardly working”—the holy grail of Dad jokes. I haven’t done it yet but I know it is lurking just around the corner. So I’ll try to keep this letter brief, but everyone knows that if a Dad says “It’s just going to take a couple minutes,” you can assume that it’s going to take all day. So maybe you’d better grab a snack.

As for general happenings in 2022, we continue to work on the homestead here in Hope, Kansas. The big outdoor projects this year were the chicken coop and the pasture.

For the chickens, Dad came and helped me construct the fencing for the coop and it turned out great. We assembled a diverse flock of various breeds but our small town is apparently the fox capital of the world, so our first flock was promptly wiped out. Luckily there was plenty of time left in the season, so we re-populated the flock and had a heart-to-heart with the predatory wildlife. The problem as not recurred.

As for the pasture, it is only a couple of acres but we intend to put a few goats or something else small and simple into it next spring, so it is perfect for our plans.

We’ve kept chickens for eggs for years, so that project was nothing new to us, but this time around we bought some meat birds. We wanted to start processing and storing our own meat. They grew very quickly—too quickly in fact. We had to ration their food so that they didn’t develop health problems. The actual processing part wasn’t that difficult. Plucking seems to be the hardest part but we obtained a plucking machine (a spinning drum filled with all rubber fingers) and it takes care of all the feathers in 10-15 seconds. We plan to do a more meat birds next year. The only downside with the meat birds (which was a similar drawback to the pigs) is that they eat constantly. Lots more than standard egg layers. So what you save in meat costs at the store you spend in chicken feed, unless you have a never-ending supply of scraps.

From time to time we ventured out into the surrounding area to see the sights. We had heard about a small waterfall at a nearby lake, and we wanted to try some fishing. No luck on the fishing, but plenty of adventure.

The husband

Now for the individual updates. I’m still here, and not much has changed, really.

I continue to work from home doing web design for a phenomenal company. Lindsey and I are always learning new things about how to take care of a property like ours, and experimenting with our interests. I bought some mushroom spore kits and found some fresh logs for the spores to colonize. Basically you take a bunch of “plugs” which look like small wooden rods, and then you find the right type of wood (shitakis prefer oak), drill a ton of holes in the log, hammer in the plugs, and cover them with wax. We’ll find out this spring if I actually did any of it correctly.

I revised and printed the 2022 edition of my book, this time in three volumes. I plan to pause on the writing for a while, hopefully to return at some point and add an additional volume or two on some subjects I was not able to include. Kids won’t be kids forever, obviously, and writing is quite the distraction. No sense in missing Theodore’s Spiderman antics because I’m preoccupied with Rene Descartes or Postmodernism or whatever.

It was also a good year for my snake hobby. Plenty of hatched eggs and a few new species were added. As always, if any of you ever need snake identification or have any snake questions, don’t hesitate to reach out. If I can’t tell you precisely what species you are dealing with, I can at least tell you with a high degree of certainty whether or not it is dangerous.

Aside from that, it’s all business as usual, for which I am very thankful:

The wife

Lindsey is the real star this year. Not only has she been unbelievably productive with her projects around the property, but she also brought Felicity into the world, which was the biggest event of the year. So I guess you could say Lindsey was more like ‘best supporting actor’ or something, since Felicity definitely stole the spotlight from the moment she was born. More on that below…

Lindsey also turned 40 this year! We had to do something special, so we took a trip to Milford lake and had a blast riding jet skis and just lounging on the beach.

She continues to experiment with homesteading. She makes the most of our garden produce and the berries that grow on the bushes and trees. She preserved peppers, beets, leeks, and 5 gallons of blackberries this year in jams. From the tomatoes she made lots of spaghetti sauce and some AMAZING roasted tomato salsa, which is so good that I am only allowed to open one jar a month or else it would have been all gone in the first 30 days. She also had me construct a 3-bin composting setup.

Another interesting experiment has been something called ‘water glassing’. It is a method of preserving eggs by simply soaking them in a container filled with water and pickling lime. They supposedly last for a very long time, although we haven’t gotten any out to try them.

As for other interests, she continues to explore the nearby antique shops and always brings home cool furnishings and always teaches me about strange old household objects that I never knew existed.

The baby

Felicity Jane Schwindt was born on January 13th at Geary County Hospital.

We used a midwife and overall the birth was truly a wonderful experience.

If I have any complaints (I always do), it’s that the numerous procedural steps that must be followed after the birth were…cumbersome…to put it lightly. We have been accustomed to a birthing center environment for our previous children, which is more self-supported, so we did not know that, post-birth, we would need to be told “DO NOT SHAKE THE BABY” a dozen times by 3 members of the staff, 1 low-budget video, and 2 booklets. Nor did we understand that we needed hospital staff to accompany us to the car at departure to verify that our carseat was…I don’t know…not installed on the roof or something. But we survived and I suppose next time we’ll know better what to expect so we can be mentally prepared to nod our heads and look serious during these somewhat comical proceedings.

Regardless, Felicity was well worth the trouble and is getting cuter by the day, completely dethroning her brothers. She was baptized  at St. Philips Catholic Church here in Hope.

Her favorite things are:

  • Her brothers (pronounced “subjects”)
  • Observing the chickens through the fence
  • Crawling under furniture to turn off power strips, especially the one that controls the wireless router
  • Bath time

She gets more pictures than anyone else, for obvious reasons:

The 3-year-old

For Theodore, this has been the year of pretending. Whether it’s Ninja Turtles or a T-Rex, he spends most of his time ‘in character’.

He uses his imaginary powers for good and evil indiscriminately. He went through a Spiderman phase where, anytime I was reprimanding him for something, he would shoot me with his web-shooter hands, with sound effects.

More recently, he’s been into Iron Man. So when conflict arises I get a few energy blasts from the palm of his hand and then something like: “I didn’t potty my pants! I’m Iron Man, and Iron Man doesn’t potty his pants!” Even though, technically speaking, Iron Man almost certainly does, given the nature of his suit and the amount of time he spends in it.

One of his favorite cartoons is Rescue Bots, which is a Transformers show, so both of the boys have developed elaborate transforming routines complete with lots of sound effects which they deploy in order to transform into various things.

The 5-year-old

Gregory thrives on learning-related activities, which means homeschooling has gone well this year. Lindsey mixes curriculum and resources from various places but one that she enjoys is called The Good and the Beautiful. Gregory has also tackled reading via a book called Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons and sometimes by playing around with the Duolingo ABC app.

Although he hasn’t mastered reading enough to tackle books on his own, he LOVES comic-style books like Captain Underpants and Dog Man. We’ve also recently graduated to things like Roald Dahl and the Redwall series.

Since he’s home all the time he gets to help Mom in the kitchen, and he is a great cook. He can make scrambled eggs on his own and it is only slightly crunchy with shell bits.

Lots of other “firsts” this year for Gregory including the progress he made at his swimming lessons at the city pool, and his first fishing trips. He actually caught one fish with Grandpa, so he’s off to a good start.

I managed to pictures of a few of those events:

The ending

All in all, it was a great year, and we can’t wait for the next one. See you in twelve months!

Would you like to unsubscribe from this newsletter? CLICK HERE. Just kidding. That does nothing. It’s a lifetime subscription.