Tuesday, March 21, 2017

It has begun

It has begun.  The season when we work outside so much that we stagger inside in the afternoon, ravenous and tired, wondering what the heck we'll do for dinner.

Mud is streaked across the floor from people rushing in with their gardening shoes on, just to retrieve a snack, or the phone, or the camera, an action so fast that it's not worth taking your shoes off.

This is the season when my fingers feel like sandpaper and my fingernails are perpetually stained, since I don't like wearing gloves when I work in the soil.

After record rainfalls for the past two months and not seeing the sun for weeks, it finally came out for a couple of days.  It came out full force, and so did we.

It went from the first picture on Friday to the second picture on Sunday.



On Sunday, we debated if we should take kayaks to Puget Sound and hang out on the beach in the sun, but then we decided that we would rather get some work done at the homestead.  

Lots of bamboo had been beaten down by the snow, and lots of other things needed to be pruned.

So while Steve applied the chainsaw and other sharp things to the bamboo and other overgrown thickets, I started weeding buttercup from my garden beds.

The buttercup campaign turned into a full blown "Wow, this soil can be worked! Let's plant garlic!"

Of course, I enlisted the help of my kids, who are a part of this homestead and know that if they want to eat, we need to plant things.

Eva helped dig and find worms, Luke helped broadfork the garden bed, and Kai separated garlic cloves.  And then all three kids planted them with me.










I am beyond ecstatic.  When all that snow and later on buckets of rain dumped on us, I felt nervous about the soggy state of my soil.  But it has so much organic matter and awesome soil structure after building it up for 14 years that drainage was no problem.

In the endless dark winter days I sometimes forget how much I thrive on gardening.  Burying my hands in the soil, smelling the fragrant earth and growing things make me come alive.  Happy, happy, happy.

Thus, the garlic got planted successfully!  And yes, we plant garlic in the spring, whereas most people do it in the fall, but in our wet climate, spring planting has been more successful for us, since we don't get the mildew or mold issues we otherwise get with it.




In the evening, we built the first backyard bonfire of the year and grilled our homemade pork/goat sausages.

I can't tell you how good it felt to be out there.  To be sure, it did get very cold once the sun went down, but the raging fire kept us warm.  

It also kept my sweet dog, Yoda, warm.  Plus, you can see I knit him another sweater.  He's a great outlet for my knitting passion, since he's so small, and I can knit one of these sweaters in two evenings.

Can you spy the little critter on my lap?


I really love that my kids are old enough to be a real help.  Preparing the garden beds and garlic cloves, broadforking, applying fertilizer, and then planting all these rows of garlic would have taken me twice as long without the kids' help.

I rewarded them by making apple cobbler with whipping cream for our cookout.  Food is a great motivator.

Talking of food, I've been making bread like crazy.  Below is my fermented bread I teach in my virtual fermentation workshop.  It is so, so easy to make and tastes better than the bread you buy at boutique European bakeries, if I may say so myself.

And our very own shiitake mushrooms are growing!  We inoculated a log two years ago, and the suckers are cranking!



Let me leave you with images of last week.

The first one is Eva with the socks I've been knitting for her while I have been teaching her how to read.

The others are from a recent walk, when the sun was miraculously shining for a couple of hours. Check out the one of the eagle I caught on my zoom lens.

I hope you'll have a splendid week!






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Sunday, March 12, 2017

Terribly proud of myself

Last month, I went to see an Ayurvedic Healer to help me get my messed up hormones back on track.  

When she told me I had to quit coffee and chocolate, I stared at her in disbelief and asked, "You got to be kidding me?"

And then she said for the next three weeks, all I get to eat is mung bean dahl, basmati rice, and cooked leafy greens.  No other food at all - no other veggies, no fruit, nothing.  Just dahl for breakfast.  Dahl for lunch.  And dahl for dinner.

You know what I said then?

"You got to be FUCKING kidding me."  

So now you know I have a terrible potty mouth.  I bet you didn't know that about me.

But what would you say if someone told you to give up coffee, chocolate, and only eat dahl for three weeks?  If you want to maximize your health, you need to detox and cleanse your body, so that's what I did.

Did you hear what I just said?  I did it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!




Yeah, that's me smiling, after eating mung beans for 60 meals in a row, and this is a sweater I just finished knitting.  Because when all your pleasures are taken away from you, you gotta hang on to something, and knitting is my life raft.

(In case you're wondering, this is a free knitting pattern from Ravelry).

So, anyway.  I am done with this cleanse, and it did clean me out, if I may say so and leave it at that to spare you the details.

Eating mung beans, rice and greens is super easy to digest so your liver and the rest of the body can rejuvenate and detox.

I'll tell you more about it another day, when I know how much good it did farther out into the future, but for now, I want to show you this:














This is all the snow that dumped on us last week after all the snow that had dumped on us already melted.  So if you saw pictures of green lawn and us pruning roses and stuff, forget it.  It's all white again, although it IS now raining like crazy and the snow is slowly melting.

I just looked at the weather forecast, and it predicts massive amounts of rain for the next ten days.  Hmpf.  At least it's not snow.

You can see why this is the perfect knitting weather, right?  Now that I'm done with the cleanse, I need another excuse to neglect the children laundry, so I'll take shitty weather as an excuse.

On that note, I just finished making another sweater for our new doggie.  Don't make fun of me.











Since the days are getting longer, the chickens have stepped up their egg production.

By the way, did you know that I created a self-paced online workshop/course that teaches everything about raising organic chickens for egg production?

Everything you ever wanted to know about keeping healthy chickens is covered in it, and also an excellent video and plans on how to build a chicken tractor. 

Go get the course here!

And the goats are looking rounder and more pregnant every day.  I can't wait for goat babies!

The dogs are doing well, too.  A little grumpy about all the rain, but they're getting snuggled a lot, so it's all good.









I'll leave you with images of hope.  We went to Bellingham the other day, which is one and a half hours West of us, and spring is happening there.  They have snow drops and other blooming things!  Ohhhh!!!



And the most beautiful sign of hope is our son Luke.  We went to a check-up at Seattle Children's Hospital to see how his heart is doing.  The news is good.  He still has a heart aneurysm, but he's super strong and healthy.  

If you want to know how this all happened, you can read my story about his fight with Kawasaki disease here.








And you know what?  Just for fun, look at these flint knapped arrowheads Luke made.  He's been apprenticing with a master flint knapper, and it shows, don't you think?


Thursday, March 9, 2017

Two in a row!

I'm giving you two videos in a row!

My last post was my movie about how to make nettle pesto, and now I want to show you my monthly "Homesteading in Paradise" series.

This is my short February Highlights movie, showing scenes from our homesteading life in the wild.  I hope you like it!




Wednesday, March 8, 2017

One of the absolutely best foods for you and your family

Although we got hit by a huge snowstorm, and although the earth is covered by ten new inches of snow, things are sprouting and germinating underneath it.

One of my favorite wild foods hiding underneath the blanket of snow are nettles.  You can use nettles like spinach, except nettles are much more nutritious.

If you want to know more about why nettles are such a kick-ass healthy, tasty food, I made a little video demonstrating how and when to harvest them, why they are so good for you, and how to make our favorite food ever: nettle pesto.

Click here to watch my little movie, and let me know how it goes.


PS: Before all the snow dumped on us, I saw nettles two weeks ago.  In fact, I bet they are already up further South, even just one hour away from us!  So watch my movie, get out there and collect yourself some nettles!


Wednesday, March 1, 2017

March!


It's March!!!  Spring and winter have a bipolar thing going on here in the North Cascades, where one day it's warm enough to prune roses in a sweater without a jacket, and the next day, huge snowflakes descend from the heavens.

First, I'll show you the crazy winter thing.  I took the first two pictures below on my way to pick up my son from a sleepover at a friends, along a deserted country road, covered by snow drifts and very slippery.  It's beautiful, though, isn't it?


This is at our friends' farm, where our son had the sleepover
Raka the dog is like "WTF? I thought spring was here?" Exactly my thought.

Now let me show you proof of the spring-like weather, which lasted exactly 8.5 hours, and which I used to prune my Old English rose bushes and weed buttercup from flower beds.

Steve, in the meantime, dismantelled a bookshelf that had been overflowing with books, dust, dead spiders and lost lego pieces for over a decade.  I finally got sick enough of it to make him take it down and modify it so it could fit somewhere else in the house.  Our whole living room looks different now, and I love it!

While Steve and I did our busy beaver impersonations, the kids spent hours building fairy houses out of sticks, cedar branches, ferns, lichen and moss.








Also?  I knit our new rescue doggie a sweater.  How could I not, obsessive compulsive knitter that I am, and knowing that my little toy dog gets cold in this crazy weather?

The little guy (now named Yoda) is loving our family, especially me.  He follows me around everywhere I go and cuddles up on my lap a lot, if I sit down long enough to be sit-on-the-lap-able.

You can imagine the mud around here, what with all that melting snow.  The little guy gets dirty enough that I have to give him baths in the sink.  He's a good sport about it, but he does look like a drowned rat.




What else can I tell you about?
Oh, yes, I started my onions on top of the fridge, since it's warm up there for germination, and they are now poking their heads out of the soil.  Can someone please tell the weather gods to quit this snow business and start on the warming up side of things?

Also: Mardi Gras happened in our little community, which is always fun.  People come all the way from Seattle, because our neighborhood band called "Jumbled Pie" plays danceable tunes on the back of a trailer in the parade, and everyone rocks out, dresses up, and eats candy like crazy.




Let me leave you with images of my goat milk soap that is curing before it can be used, and a beautiful mountain in a neighboring town where we went to watch a friend's Basketball game.

Is spring coming to your neck of the woods?