Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Not Giving Up

No matter how hard I try to push it aside, it keeps coming back.... I dream of being a farmer, a small-time farmer growing and raising food to feed our community.  I tell myself that our family should make-do with our small holding, that farming is some crazy dream and that owning land will cost too much and we will have to go into more debt.

But, the dream won't go away.  

 So while I learn more both by reading and growing our own food, I am hopeful that we will figure out a way to buy a small farm.  A place where we grow not only enough to feed our family but our neighbors too.  A place with enough forest to heat our home year after year and maintain a small hand craft business from the trees growing on our own land.  A place where we can plant an apple orchard and hundreds of blueberry bushes.  Pasture enough to sustain a small dairy goat herd.   A place where we can build a couple of guest cabins so that we can share our abundance with others.

Do you have a dream?  Are you working on making that dream a reality?

Saturday, August 30, 2014

No Vacation

Our family just returned from a three-day mini vacation that really turned out to not be much of a vacation at all.  You know I thought it would be "good for us" to all get away for a few days, away from our business, the daily work the homestead demands.

While certainly there were many enjoyable moments, what I realized most, is that our daily life is where I find my rest and my joy, right here at home.

I don't think I am the only one in our family that feels this, I think each of our children are more than content right here.   They assure me that my fears of their lives being boring or that they are not being exposed to enough of the "real world" are unfounded.  It made me smile that when we went by a very simple water fountain on our vacation that Abraham thought it was the coolest thing because in his six short years of life, he really hasn't seen a lot more than our rural landscape.

I look at each day as one to embrace, to find enjoyment, to engage my body in the physical work - my senses in the daily cooking preparations and the beauty all around us.  I work to find a little magic in each day right here on our little homestead.  The older I get (I turned 45 this past Thursday) the more joy I find in the ordinary and the more that each day feels like a vacation right here at home.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Dyeing with Spotted Joe-Pye-Weed

These wild flowers are all around our homestead.  The color is really pretty - a pink/mauve color.  
So I made a dye bath with a full pot of the flowers only, used alum for a mordant for the wool yarn, and the color came out a soft green/yellow.

I have been thinking about why God made so many plants that give us yellow dyes.   You know, God, gave us everything we need in his creation and maybe wearing yellow wool sweaters all winter would be a welcome reminder of the warmer days to come.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Canning Tomatoes

Tomatoes are the only vegetable I can each summer.  I don't like to use the energy that is needed to can - specifically heating water for the canning pot, it seems to take so long to get the quantity of water needed to a boiling point.

I keep it really simple - just chop, simmer for about an hour, fill the jars, and put in the hot water bath for 5 - 10 minutes.   Then as I want to use them over the winter, I can either make tomato sauce or use them in various dishes.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Have You Read This?

(The pants Emmy is wearing were made by Liz of The Sitting Tree - from an upcycled merino sweater.) 

If you haven't read this article by Ben Hewitt, check it out.   What do you think?

I have told Mike more than once that when I run for President, I will eliminate public K - 12 education (eliminate all involvement - both mandates and financially - on the federal level and turn it over to local communities) and make higher education highly competitive and free.   No chance, I know.  
Haven't worked out the details yet either.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Give Them Time

We spend so much time at home - with one another. 
Day in and day out... for the most part.
Our business is at home, no bringing the children to public institutions during the school year, very few outside organized classes or sports.

We do not all get along well all the time.  I spend time each day acting as mediator.  My guess is, though, that if they can negotiate their days with these same six people than they are probably learning how to problem-solve and how to compromise.

I think because they have so must time just to "be", to choose how to spend their time, to be bored (in our family if someone says they are bored, someone else will say - "if you're bored, that means your boring") which allows them time to think of possibilities.  Because they have so much time, my guess is that each of our children are developing a secure sense of themselves (something that took me 40 years to develop).  They don't have their teachers influencing them or measuring their abilities according to the prescribed developmental framework of the day.

They also don't have peers influencing them to conform or to be a certain way.  

This, our life, while it isn't without struggles and is far from perfect - gives each of our children time - and this may possibly be one of the most precious gifts we can give them.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

For the Right Reasons

 Green tomatoes from some vines that were showing some signs of blight.

 Sarah's pet toad, Bobby

 Slowly, one perennial at a time, I am hoping to fill the front of our house.  Some are wildflowers, others bought from a farmer's market or shared from a friend.  The house may still need trim finished and a basement window installed, but flowers will make it all look beautiful in the meantime. 

 Planted lettuce, hoping to get some again this fall.

 I'll be making pumpkin pie before long - my favorite.

 No pregnant mamas yet, but we are loving the manure - we even have enough now to get a community garden started behind our church.

My constant helper

Sometimes (well really quite often) I wonder if living this simple life, content with the beauty and miracles of the changing seasons, living day in and day out with our children, sharing the work together -  producing products to sell, producing food to eat - can be easily dismissed as quaint or not success oriented enough by our society's standards.

We are poor by American standards but our comfortable with the material things we have, we are not torn by debt or drained by long commutes.  Some days the hours are long, the isolation may feel lonely, but there is value in a life that allows us to sit together for lunch or stop and pitch some wiffle balls to our six year old, or take the day off to help our twenty year old move into his first apartment.

Much of this would not be possible without thriftiness, modest expectations, faith, and being careful not to take on debt (which can be very tempting at times).  

Instead, we choose to place value on the non material things such as time with each other, the development of relationships, the free time our children have to explore and just "be", the pleasures of eating delicious healthy foods, the time we can make for helping in the community, and the time to learn and read and explore interests and passions either individually or together.  

This is the life we have chosen and I am writing this as a reminder to myself when our life seems overly ordinary and mundane that really it isn't - it is intentional and full of possibilities, beauty, and joy.