Homestead Happenings

Just another loungey Sunday on the wee homestead.  I’m so grateful I don’t have to go to the grocery store, or venture to town at all or anywhere near where masks are apparently now required, and witness the ‘shitf**kery’ (Decker’s choice expression from Dispatches from the Asylum, highly recommended for anyone who might wish to choose a few minutes of lucid reality) happening all around us, apparently, like a super-creepy episode of the Twilight Zone or Black Mirror.

Here we have problems, who doesn’t.  Even if might be completely unmanageable problems, at least they are sane, rational problems.

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Another 20 pounds of wild grapes, whatever to do with them all?  And melons harvested a bit early due to disease, no where to store them but the living room as they ripen, so problematic.
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Girls gone grazing!  Whatever to do, what if the kids flock with the sheep and forget all about me?  This is what keeps me up at night.
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Why are some of my very favorite plants considered toxic and are pooh-pooed by ‘science’ and most of my modern-day neighbors (and certainly NOT by my ancestral ones!)?  Like this gorgeous castor bean, the ubiquitous pokeweed everybody wants to kill, and especially my most beloved Datura?  These heat-lovers belong in the South!
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A gorgeous volunteer Datura growing here in the background.  No poultry have died from it, though we’ve lost more than usual to something mysterious, about 20 now, one or two at a time, with no clue as to why.

Here’s a wonder: why do Lowe’s, Walmart, and all the other shills of the Corporatocracy sell the same zucchini and yellow squash seedlings that are nearly impossible for organic gardeners to grow according to everyone I’ve talked to, including the Master Gardeners to whom I once was a member?  Get out there with your hand-vac at dawn, they all said, to gobble up all the squash bugs and vine borers they attract, meanwhile this gorgeous heirloom squash (Trombetta) takes it all, virtually maintenance-free, with the stamina of a giant, even in our crazy summer heat?!

Bubba & Buttercup: “How to stay cool in incessantly manufactured weather, we wonder?  Don’t worry, we’ll find a way!”

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And here’s to the countless ninnies and nitwits claiming Trump is solving the weather modification/geoengineering issue.  Come on now, do I have to go back to photographing the sky every damn day?
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“Mamma, we’ll follow you anywhere, just save us from the chicanery and chaos of civilization!”

Spring Chaos to Summer Swelter

The geoengineered ‘tornado’ this spring has been a big setback for us, but we’re adjusting with a blossoming ‘f**k it’ attitude that will surely see us through the misery of the current hazy-swamp setting per the weather controllers.

BE7E2441-5C49-4460-A650-79BE67B77BC1The ‘feels like’ temperature promises to remain in the 100s for a few months, no doubt.  Most folks around here say that’s normal, but that’s because most folks alive today have been living with modified weather for decades without realizing it.  Weathermodificationhistory.com

Since the politicians and select scientists have partnered up to bully the public into buying their global climate change scheme, the few who even notice the atmosphere is different think the technocrats will swoop in and fix it all up again.

 

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Seriously?

The ‘f**k it’ attitude is necessary to maintain sanity currently, but knowing it must be temporary makes it especially bitter-sweet.  Downed trees remain a keen reminder still in looking out through any window of the house. 

But, I’ve adjusted to them now, labeling them in my mind as satanic yard art.

My shoulder injury persists, Hubby’s working loads of overtime, and there’s plenty to do just in maintaining what we can without tackling a difficult clean-up project just now.  Or just about anything else.

As a bonus, the birds love it, we have cardinals nesting, super happy woodpeckers, bouncing bunnies, and the sheep are cooperative enough to take on the garden mess for me.

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85F6D33B-6E44-4ACF-A288-2A82BFCAE4D2Since I can’t make cheese or garden or can, I’ve been trying to foster some new hobbies.  Learning to paint and sew helps to pass the time, but mostly they are too sedentary for my nature.  I’m trying to adjust. 

But, it feels like trying, as does reading, which doesn’t fit so well with the ‘f**k it’ mindset.  For now we join the masses in their preferred great American pastime of apathy, avoidance and distraction by binge-watching movies with a good buzz on.

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Now what bee in her right mind wouldn’t find that to be a pretty home?!

 

The bees are growing fine without my participation, yay!  And, I think I heard Mr. Dragonfly volunteer to help me train the young grape vines.

DF2E3819-B11C-4FFE-BEFF-48AA1D0B61A6The roses aren’t happy suffering through brambles and grasses, but they’re handling their neglect with grace nonetheless.

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But, there should be butterflies all over these zinnias, and that’s cause for concern.

Which then reminds me, it must be cocktail hour.  Like Grandma used to say, “It’s 5:00 somewhere!”

 

The Wisdom to Know the Difference

God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.

Do you have a favorite song?  Did you love it from the first moment, or did it grow on you?

Do you have a favorite hobby?  How did you find it?  Was it passed down to you from a parent or seem to appear from nowhere?

Have you ever doodled, maybe even just randomly while chatting on the phone?  What did you draw? Did you wonder why?

Have you ever pondered what makes your preferences your preferences?

When confronted with your obvious limitations have you ever said, “F*ck off!”?

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When you hear again and again, apparently sold with all the best of intentions the same menu:  You can’t control the weather; You can’t fight the government; You can’t be David against Goliath; You can’t conquer the dragons; You can’t rise above your lot . . . Have you ever said, “Excuse me, why the bloody hell not?!”

Some are most certainly doing it, so why not me?

You can call that a sense of entitlement if you want.  I call it something else entirely.

 

 

 

When the Going Gets Tough

 

We have all kinds of sayings to ward off all kinds of issues, mostly with the intention of bypassing, minimizing, and moving on.  Shit happens, right?  Don’t let the bastards get ya down, eh?  There’s always a silver lining.  Don’t sweat the small stuff. The sun will come out tomorrow.  Look at the bright side.  Don’t cry over spilled milk.  Buck up, buttercup!

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The falling trees missed the roses, and the deck and house, and all the critters, and me, PRAISE BE!

I know, I know, I’ve heard it all and I’ve probably said half of it myself.   Really though, when someone’s truly feeling down, no one wants to hear another ‘pick yourself up by your bootstraps’ slogan.  A friend to cry in your tea or beer with would be loads more helpful, but sometimes that doesn’t help either.

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Thanks to more experienced friends at Melody Acres Ranch the overturned nuc has been righted and it’s doing just swell.

I count my blessings, really, I do.  I’m very good at that.

It’s just that, sometimes, nothing helps, at least not right away.  Sometimes there’s a ‘something’s gotta give’ feeling that lodges itself for a while after a big, bad event, even if everything mostly turning out fine in the end.

The triumphs still feel too short-lived and the setbacks too many.

I remember to remember my favorite things, but the joy in them seems less renewing. This in itself is solemnifying.

Visitors are welcome, yet distracting.

I know nature is resilient and life goes on.  The very morning after the ‘tornado,’ as I was assessing the damages, the birds were chirping, the critters begging for their meals, and Handy Hubby headed back home from work out-of-state to get us back into gear.

Still, despite my usual mood-shifting tricks, my gears still feel a bit stuck.

The snake getting fat on our eggs in the coop, a rabbit devouring the garden.

Oh, just let them be, I think, which is not really like me.

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Sometimes that’s just the way it is.
And, this too shall pass.

 

 

 

A Spring Stroll

Little is finer than a country meandering to wake your spring wellspring!

Playing in the creek is still GOOD TIMES around here!

And to celebrate spring you just might have delicious, unadulterated, natural spring water closer than you think.

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A public natural spring near Frankston, East Texas

Www.findaspring.com

As I recently wrote, ‘taking the waters’ was considered a health and leisure pursuit in this area, and many others around the region. Taking the Waters

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The dogwoods are particularly showy this year

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The grapevines already coming in, this could be a good year for our locals wines!

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The ‘flare’ is part of the trunk, not the root, and should be exposed to air, which is a very common modern myth, according to Malcolm Beck.  The old adage rings true it seems: “Plant too low, it won’t grow, plant to high, it won’t die.”

I learn so much everyday just by traveling in tandem from nature to cyberspace! What miraculous times we have here to explore!

Spring foraging is lovely here, just made a huge batch of chickweed chimi-churri, YUM!

More Foraged Favorites

Happy Spring & Summer y’all!

 

Earning My Mid-Wife Badge

The Girl Scouts was as close as this suburban girl ever got to learning any kind of traditional skills growing up.  I quit it early on, considering ‘badge earning’ to be well beneath my expanding “cool kid” facade.

But if there’s a badge worth earning, midwifery would be up there with the loftiest of them.  I’m humbled and proud to say I got to experience it last night for the first time.

I bit of critical background:  I’m squeamish.  Considering we didn’t have children of our own and I didn’t have my own dog to take care of, let alone any pet previously to our dear Papi, at about age 42, it seems to me squeamishness pretty much comes with that territory. 

It’s because I was well aware of this personal limitation that I NEVER imagined we’d have so many animals.

Chickens, for us and many other clueless homesteaders, are the Gateway Livestock.  Then came ducks, turkeys, sheep, pigs, and more dogs.  But we both swear we’ll never get cows or horses.  (Ahem)

Considering my penchant for ‘Too Much Information’ I’ve now been acclimated to loads of poop, vomit, blood and morbid sounds of all sorts.  It also got me scared, very scared, about all that can go wrong with pets and livestock.  And how painful that is, and knowing this truth in advance is useless.  It does not help the pain by expecting it.  It does help though to be prepared.  So far I give us a C+ on that when it comes to the critters.

My TMI penchant leads also to so much online and in books about serious diseases and awful complications and the myriad very dirty deeds endemic in the farm life.  Talking to others more experienced will also always bring sad stories and sometimes tragic ones.

 Maybe I don’t quite deserve my badge just yet, but I’m fairly certain I saved our ewe and her young lamb last night by being at the right place at the right time and doing my usual C-level work.  🙂

When our ewes have lambed in the past I was not there to witness the actual event, only woke up to find the lambs delivered, sometimes successfully, sometimes not.  On one occasion I found one mutilated by our young puppy and I had to kill it.  I cannot speak about this moment still today a year later without tears.  It was the most confusing, stressful, tragic, sorrowful day of my life.  Like most in the so-called advanced economies, we grew up very sheltered from death and from the act of killing.  Hubby would’ve handled it far better had he been home.  I was alone and a basket case.

I was alone again this time when Buttercup gave an unusual and very loud bark audible from inside the house that clued me in that something was going down.  I went to the stalls and saw mama was in labor.  I was determined to watch it all and learn. 

I was hoping and intending to remain a bystander to nature’s miracle.

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Take a bow, Buttercup!

As it happened I could tell something was wrong right away.  Then I doubted myself.  Then I went back and forth a dozen times, yes, no, yes, no.

Then I concluded, no, something’s really wrong here, get help.  Help?  Like from who?  I called two friends with more experience and they didn’t answer.  I looked through our book on sheep, panicky by that time.  I call Hubby.  He calls his folks and searches online while I pace waiting for the bread in the oven to finish so I can go back to the stalls. 

I muse, even in this stressed state: “Oh, we’re both waiting on buns in the oven.”  Yes, that’s how I cope with stress, and most things really, goofy humor.

It doesn’t occur to me again that the fetus that the ewe cannot seem to push out is in fact dead until hours later.  Yet, I felt it, even considered it immediately, instinctually at the very first moment I saw it.  I just tried to over-ride that feeling with too much doubt and reasoning and wishful thinking.  

On the phone with Hubby we decide there’s really nothing I can do alone in the dark with no experience and no equipment and no nearby vet.  Then he calls back and has changed his mind.  He urges me to go back out, put on some rubber gloves, and see if I can help her.

And he was right!  As soon as I touched the fetus it was obviously dead and my foolishness at waiting hours to “realize” this washed over me.  I strained, along with mama to get it out, knowing if not she would surely die as well. 

At last it came free, followed by another smaller, but wonderfully alive little treasure!

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We did it!

I’m happy to report as of this writing about 16 hours later, mama and babe are doing well, eating and drinking and getting to know each other.

Yes, I was alone, but really, it was very much a team effort.  Thanks y’all!

 

Wins & Losses 2018

A short break from the heavy subject of addiction to share some homestead updates lately as well as highlights and misfortunes from the last year.

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Naughty, naughty!

Starting with the good news, we have two new happy thriving lambs!

They are the first of the year with two more mamas looking full and ready to follow with some of their own any day now.  Or more likely, since today it is beautiful and sunny, it will be the next time it’s pouring rain and freezing cold.

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Their first day roaming the land with the herd.
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Last winter’s model looking great

 

 

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Almost there, so close, but not close enough

That was the weather once again for this rough start.  Unfortunately, our permanent corral space is not yet finished.

I had to cancel a holiday trip at the very last minute and I spent a lot of time stressed and worrying.  I couldn’t handle a repeat of last year, which is such a tragic story for me I haven’t yet been able to tell it publicly.

It was nearly a repeat. Hubby was at work again, and to keep it short and simple, I found one of our not-so-well-trained LGD (Livestock Guard Dog) had jumped the fence, grabbed one just after birth, jumped the fence back and was ‘guarding’ it until I found it barely breathing and injured.

Luckily there was a completely unplanned, last minute visit that cheered me up after my canceled trip.

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Pappa Chop getting friendly!
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It’s hard to think of anything sweeter than kids and animals!

And it’s hard to think of anything worse in the garden than poison ivy and wasps!

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Poison ivy in the same spot 3 times, many weeks of torture.
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And wasp stings 3 different times, miserable.

And my bee colonies didn’t even last the summer.  This is an enormous disappointment.  But I don’t give up easily and have next spring’s bees on order, locally sourced this time.

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Last spring’s packages brought home from Arkansas

Additional misfortunes include the duck that was mysteriously fried by our electric pole in the front yard.  And another incident that shot an electric impulse through my hand, up my arm, and landed in now nearly 2 months of stabbing shoulder pain.  Then there’s the ram that’s butted me 3 times and therefore will meet his demise prematurely ASAP.

I don’t think Hubby shares this sentiment, but in my case, I’ve definitely had better years.

Here’s to better fortune in the coming year, for me, and for all y’all!

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I still love making cheese 🙂

 

 

 

What’s Growin’ On?

We just wanted to share a few updates from the wee homestead, on the winter garden and other news.

Dreary weather whiplash here, hard to say if our holidays will be white, green, gray or brown, but thankfully we still eat fresh, easily, every day.

 

Growin’ on now are: broccoli, lots of lettuces, carrots, cabbage, brussel sprouts, beets, kohlrabi, garlic, onions, kale,  our favorite herbs–dill, chervil, cilantro–loads of collards for us and the critters, planted thick as green manure and spring bee food, too, like hairy vetch.

It’s high maintenance, we cover and uncover the boxes as weather requires, and it’s slow growing with shorter days and an abundance of overcast days.

But, the limited harvest results are DELICIOUS!

Triumph for the season:

I was interviewed about natural living on Crow777, a site I’ve mentioned here many times as a cutting edge, paradigm shifting, life affirming podcast I highly recommend.

https://www.crrow777radio.com/137-leaving-hurricanes-and-citified-chaos-for-self-sufficient-natural-life-free/

They follow my nervous-nelly ramblings patiently and pleasantly and thankfully follow me up this week with a professional, a doctor saying exactly what I’m wanting and needing to hear!

https://www.crrow777radio.com/138-healing-medical-doctors-still-exist-dr-franco-lenna-talks-natural-medicine/

Blessings for the season:

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Thought for the season:

Manufactured outrage?!  They go berserk over a cute old song and meanwhile, Paradise is lost?!

 

https://www.breitbart.com/entertainment/2018/12/11/radio-station-ends-puritanical-ban-of-baby-its-cold-outside/

 

 

 

 

Taking the Waters

Balneotherapy, crounotherapy, the drinking cure, taking the waters–whatever you want to call it–chalybeate pools, hot springs and mineral spas have a very long tradition behind them.  And before I get accused of ‘appealing to tradition’ once again in order to assert the value of these traditions, there’s beaucoup science behind them, too.

But to find this science you typically have to go to the Russians, because in America they call it pseudoscience, at best, hucksterism, at worst.  http://www.texasescapes.com/DEPARTMENTS/Visible_Ink/Waters_in_Texas/Waters.htm

“From the frontier years of the Republic to the postwar years of the twentieth century, people flocked to the state’s mineral waters primarily for one reason–health.  In that sense, Texas springs were resorts in the truest sense, despite their relative anonymity to the rest of the nation.” (Valenza)

From the Journal of the American Medical Association, 1943: “Much of the discussion to follow on the historical background of resort therapy will be concerned with the forces which at different periods have raised this therapy to the central feature of medical care, have reduced it to the status of superstition, have diverted its main features into voluptuous cultural practices, have opposed its use on the puritanical background that its measures coddled the flesh that needed scourging from the sins of disease, have degraded it to a social fad, have allowed it to pass into the hands of the charlatan and enthusiast as a panacea, have obstructed it with the lack of economic provision for care and have brushed it aside with a disinterest that has come from attention fixed on only the novel in medicine.”
(Howard Haggard, MD) sited from “Taking the Waters in Texas: Springs, Spas and Fountains of Youth by Janet Mace Valenza

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“The use of mineral springs for therapeutic purposes declined for several reasons. Many hotels burned or were washed away by floods, and rebuilding them seemed inappropriate because medicine had begun to change. With the rise of “germ theory” and the discovery of sulfa drugs and antibiotics, the belief in the usefulness of mineral water diminished. Many doctors supported water cures, but some began to eschew balneology, the science of bathing, because of some resorts’ extravagant claims. In Marlin the tradition lasted into the 1960s, primarily because the medical profession appropriated the practice and transformed it into a tool for physical therapy. Other factors, such as war and depression, also hurt resorts. The railroad guaranteed the success and demise of some resort.”

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Gentlemen taking the waters in Marlin

“Texas spas were unique among Texas towns and also different from resorts in the East. Daily life at these resort towns revolved around the waters. Architecture reflected the tradition. Pavilions and drinking fountains became gathering places for local citizens, depots attracted bands and drummers to meet trains, bathhouses set the scene for private ablutions, and large hotels employed big bands for entertainment. Other diversions included domino games, burro rides, picnics, and dances. Bathers overcame the fears attendant upon the theory of miasma-that harmful vapors association with swampy waters cause disease-to seek the sanative pleasures of the springs and wells. Osmotic exchanges with the water were supposed to benefit the body. Rheumatism, arthritis, and skin diseases were reportedly relieved more often than any other condition. (Valenza) https://tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/sbm11

Sounds to me like getting cured was a lot more fun back then!

As for the science

It was Europeans like Ernest Kapp, an early geographer who opened the Hydropathic Institute, that brought these practices from their own countries and ancestors to ours. “Dr. Ernest Kapp’s Water-Cure Treatment included not only hydropathy, but also gymnastic exercises.” https://tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fka01

Viktor Schauberger was another early researcher studying the properties of water.

 

For the deep dive into where the science stands now, including references to the numerous studies and on-going research, I’m definitely over my head with this newish publication, Pure Water: The Science of Water, Waves, Water Pollution, Water Treatment, Water Therapy and Water Ecology.

But it’s fascinating nonetheless and certainly convinces me our ancestors knew more than we often give them credit for.

 

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http://store.greenmedinfo.com/product/pure-water-science-water

 

Celebrating Small Steps

Late summer here is my personal version of hell and I bitch about it every year.

What better time to take a break from my current reality where I feel like an indoor prisoner and wake up daily wanting to lash out at all the idiotic Geoengineering causing drought here and weather chaos all around the globe.

I even want to take a break from my last post pondering passivity and violence and just notice for a day, or so, all the little things and little ways we have improved upon since I last felt this level of droughtrage.

I know I am just a bit more blessed this year than last, mostly by my own sheer will and resilience, and that of Hubby as well, no doubt, and that of some inspiring neighbors and cyber-friends, and perhaps if I dwell on that fact just a bit, next year will be just a bit more blessed in turn.

Last year’s late summer garden vs this year’s, not great, but still better!

A new young friend who loves plants as much as I do helps me identify the hardy, native heat-lovers of our area, and diligently and graciously watched our wee homestead so I could join my extended family at a reunion in July.  I look forward to returning the favor when her family vacations in October.  This is the sort of small steps a resilient community is made of, not the top-down control of Rockefeller’s ‘Resilient Cities’, because it’s the neighborly reliance that brings real hope and treasures and peace of mind.

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Collective Border Control, naturally 😉

I still don’t like okra, but I’m harvesting it anyway for the pigs and neighbors!  Every once in a while I throw a few into a meal, along with other traditional Southern favorites we didn’t grow up with, but are learning to appreciate, like collards and Southern peas, eggplant and jalapenos, all which have survived the heat, but would not be here now without regular irrigation.

It’s very hard to keep up with the constant weeding and mulching requirements in such circumstances, but these plants, along with the sweet potatoes, are actually successfully competing with the grasses in some cases.  Amazing!

I won’t mention the melons, because I’m hell-bent on keeping this post positive. So let’s mention instead the ‘mouse melons’, aka sanditas, or, Mexican Sour Gherkins.  🙂

Instead, let’s mention the fact that the young sweet potato vines and okra leaves are edible and quite tasty!

And the fantastic find this summer which I’m most excited to expand next year considerably, the Mexican Sour Gherkin.

Crop of the year, in my humble opinion!

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Even in the dead of summer, of brutal heat and no rain, we enjoy meals raised primarily on this land.  As an added bonus now my raw milk source is 5 minutes away, whereas last year at this time it was 5 hours round-trip!

The aging fridge is full of cheeses we will enjoy all winter: Cheddars, Goudas, a Parmesan and an Alpine, several Brie almost ripe, a Muenster even!  YUM!  Last week I taught a couple of neighbor ladies to make 30-minute mozzarella and we had such a nice time.

Next they will teach me skills they’ve acquired—spinning, dying, soap-making–a few more small steps in our agorism adventures.  Skill-sharing has been such a crucial aspect of our most successful ancestors and I would be challenged to express how rewarding it is for me still, at 50 next month, to be learning so much that is new for me.  It is indeed a sort of middle-age renaissance!

I also foraged for elderberries, mustang grapes and peppervine berries, dried some and made some syrups and preserves.

peppervine

 

And, Another 400 pounds of pears, or so!

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I do believe still that’s thanks to our bees.  For several years we thought it was a weather issue, late frosts, whatever, but I am beginning to suspect it was a pollinator issue all along.

We will see, that’s just a hypothesis so far.  And in any case we continue for another year to benefit from the cider, the preserves, the cobblers, and the pigs are getting their fill, too!

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The Datura remains an absolute favorite of mine, blooming in crazy heat and exhaling the most exquisite fragrance into the evening air.  The thyme, rosemary, sage, oregano are gracefully resilient as well, I appreciate all y’all!

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And our dear Tori, who just as I was typing this post chased an enormous coyote off our chickens!

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Tori, 2 weeks old
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Tori today!  Rewarded Homestead Guard of the Year 2018

The blessings are very close at hand, the frustrations a million miles away.  I vow to maintain that truthful balance deep in my heart as I brave the coming days.

Peace and love to y’all, dear friends.