Breaking Ground

Hello!  Thank you all for the kind words of support after my grandmother’s passing. I was able to spend the weekend with my extended family on the East coast to celebrate her life, and especially to remember her legacy of four children and over 30 grand and great-grandchildren!

Upon our return we hit the ground running with the myriad building details for the “Summer Shanty” (or as a friend suggested, the Summer Cottage – sounds so New England!).  The Shanty will be a 20 x 20 foot uninsulated wooden structure.  Half the structure will be enclosed and screened for a sleeping and living space.  The other half will remain open-sided and will function as an outdoor kitchen, storage and living space. (And when I say outdoor kitchen, I mean a very different thing than what the Sunset or Martha Stewart books mean when they talk about an Outdoor Kitchen!  Imagine a wood-fired cookstove, rather than stainless steel!)

We had already spent some time removing trees, brush, and poison ivy from the Shanty site, and with a little help from a generous neighbor with a tractor, we were able to break ground!  Nine post holes will contain 5 x 5 inch white oak posts, milled by the local Amish mill.  And these posts will hold up the structure, or at least that’s how I understand it!  To say that I am not the builder in our family would be an understatement!

Hole1 Hole2Woodpile1

The woodpile grows!  Ev and I are sitting on the white oak posts, Ella is resting on the red oak beams and floor joists. Next step is to put these posts into the ground!

Woodpile2

Photos don’t quite do the Shanty site justice, but it’s to the left of where I am standing in the photo above.  The living space will extend into the forest a bit, and the outdoor kitchen space will nestle into the northern treeline.

While letting my mind wander yesterday, I was suddenly struck with a feeling of pure joy.  Here we are, doing what we’ve dreamed about for so many years: building our own home (shanty) on our own land.  We have so far to go, but it feels so exciting to be working hard to make this dream a reality.

In June!

A few years ago I was in a community theater production of the musical Dames at Sea (it’s not a very well known show, but was one of Bernadette Peters’ first starring roles!).  One of the catchier songs has a line that ends “on a beautiful Sunday morning in June.”  Well, that line perfectly describes today.  Such a beautiful morning!

I’ve been trying really hard to be more regular with my blog writing, but it seems like life just gets moving, and I try hard to keep up.  There have been dance recitals, grandparent visits, gardens to tend, weeds to pull, vacations to plan, goats to milk, new recipes to try…

So here is a little catch up from the past few weeks:

Everett gets really excited when his mama chops wood!

Pizza cooks in Brian’s homemade wood-fired bread oven.

Yum!

Strawberry Shortcake!!  The shortcake recipe from the book In the Sweet Kitchen is divine!

My sassy daughter.

Everett races to the finish line on Eya the horse.

Awwww.

Have a beautiful Sunday!

 

Tour of the Homestead, Part III

It’s been a glorious week of sun here on the homestead.  Almost makes me think that spring is truly on its way.  Almost.  But the days have been warm and sunny, my seeds in the greenhouse are sprouting, perennials are flowering, bees are buzzing, and grass is growing.  Yes, the green grass is growing. And that makes our goats so very happy.

Our sweet goats.  Currently, we have a herd of six American Alpine dairy goats.  They represent three generations of does.

Nimbrethil is the alpha doe.  She is 6 years old. She is spirited and strong.  Much like my sweet little girl in the background there.

Her sister is Calypso.  Calypso and Nimbrethil came to us as 3 month old kids, when we had to replace a yearling that had been killed by a cougar.  She is easy going and a great milker.

Sable is Calypso’s daughter.  She is 4 years old and so sweet and gentle.  While her dam Calypso is super easy to milk, Sable has been a bit more challenging to milk. She has tiny teats.  So tiny that it’s really hard to even wrap your hand around them.  (Don’t tell any of the other goats, but Sable may be my favorite!)

This is Gilly (short for Galadriel).  She is Nimbrethil’s daughter, 4 years old.  She is the only goat that we bred this year. Can’t you see how gorgeously round and pregnant she looks?  Her kids are due in late April.  She is a fabulous mom and easy milker.  A goat-owner’s dream.

And lastly, we have “Jump in the hayloft Rose” and “Black Black”, our yearlings.  We make it a policy never to name a goat until we’ve decided if we’re keeping them in the herd – too easy to get attached.  But Ella had other ideas!  They are Gilly and Sable’s kids, respectively.

That’s our herd!  Six goats for a small family is a bit overkill, but we do love our caprine friends.  If you have any questions, I love talking about our goats – ask away!

Happy Weekend!

Tour of the Homestead, Part II

Animals are an integral part of our homestead.  Over the years, we’ve cared for ducks, chickens, bees, goats, and pigs to supply us with meat, eggs, milk, honey, and companionship.  These days, we’ve pared it down to chickens, goats and bees.

First off, the chickens!  My handy husband created this awesome chicken house (the blue structure) that is mounted on bicycle tires, and fully movable.  Sticking out of the sides are easy-access nest boxes, and you can access the interior from a big fold-down door in the back, so mucking out the coop is a snap.  They have a little lean-to and a plastic covered tunnel in which to hide out from the rain and snow(!).  And the rest of the time, they are scratching and pecking in their big old grassy pasture.  Pretty sweet digs for chickens.

Our flock was just recently dramatic reduced by a series of kills by hawks and raccoons.  So we’re down to one handsome rooster, and three hens.

 

A Tour of the Homestead, Part I

I’m so excited to share our little homestead with you.  First off, I should give a little background.  We moved here in December of 1999, and never really thought we’d stay!  But the 30 acres of secluded forested land, a sweet cabin, and gorgeous creek captured our hearts, and 12 years later, we’ve created an amazing home in a rental house and property!

So, to begin, my favorite place… the greenhouse!  This was our wedding present to ourselves 5 years ago, and it has been the best investment ever made.  In our narrow hollow, it tends to be cool even in the summer, so the greenhouse gives us extra warmth for successful peppers and tomatoes.  In the winter, it’s amazing to have another dry space.  And we can grow year-round greens and brassicas.

So, come on in!

In case you are wondering, this is an Oregon Valley Greenhouses structure (I believe it’s the Low Profile Quonset), and it is 20 feet wide by 48 feet long.  In the foreground, we have beets and carrots, all overwintered, and to the right, a sandbox (to keep the kids entertained!).

Overwintered kale, chard, broccoli.  We use raised beds because we have very clayey soil.  Beds are amended with compost and a whole lot of goat manure (more on that in a few days).

Arugula!

And here is my seed starting set-up for now.  There is a heat mat under there, giving the temperatures a boost by about 10 degrees.  I hope it’s warm enough as we had snow today!

So there is a quick peek into the greenhouse.  I’ll be spending a lot more time in there in the coming weeks.

Starting now

Why put dreams on hold when you can START NOW?

I’ve been excited about starting a blog for over a year now.  Thanks to some gentle prodding from friends and family, here I go!  I expect to share some photos, get all crafty, salivate over food, and talk about our homesteading, Waldorf-y, natural parenting, handmade life.  Thanks for joining me!

Teri