Saturday, October 13, 2018

Feeling blessed at Cascade Pass

On Saturday, I went hiking with two of my kids, and one of my good friends and her daughter.  

We hiked up Cascade Pass, a total of 6 and a half miles of the most gorgeous scenery you'll ever see.

The whole time, our jaws hung open with the beauty, although we all have hiked here many times before.  It never gets old.

Do you want to come along?


Wednesday, October 10, 2018

My terrifying health scare

These past two weeks have been some of the scariest of my life. Usually, I take my health for granted, because I am super energetic and robust.  But when I went for a routine checkup, my doctor hit me with three concerns that made me dizzy and scared.

Two of them have been resolved, and it's fine.

But the third one has been heart stopping. Literally.

When the doctor listened to my heart, she told me that she really wants me to see a cardiologist. ME??? Healthy, vibrant, athletic ME? I thought I would faint right there when she told me my heart has a very concerning rhythm.

I've been feeling my chest thump in funny ways for months, but I've been to busy, distracted, or in denial the whole time.

Long story short, after an EKG and echocardiogram, the authorities established that I have a condition called Bigeminy, which causes my heart to beat irregularly. They want me to do a five-day test where I wear a “Zio patch” that monitors my heart activity the whole time, but my insurance doesn't cover it, so I'm still waiting to hear what the next step is.

Here's what I believe: I have put myself under so much non-stop stress, that my heart is doing this thing. I think that if (or when) I slow down, relax, de-stress and do less, my heart will in time find its normal rhythm. At least that's what I hope, and from my research, this is what can happen.

So I sold my goats.

Having raised goats for 15 years, milking them, making cheese, and basically playing with baby goats as my mental health therapy, these animals have been a part of my identity for a long time. You can imagine how sad I am. But it's nice to not have to go out to the barn every day, deal with the milk, cleanup and responsibility.

It's heartbreaking. Pun intended.

So that's where I'm at right now.

Keeping my head in the right place, knowing that I AM healthy. 

Knowing that I have to slow down.  

I've been working so relentlessly for so many years, and the thing is: I love everything I do!  But with raising three kids, having a varied homestead where we grow a lot of our food, preserving and dealing with all the bounty, teaching retreats, and being a life coach for women, marketing and promoting ... it gets to be too much.

This summer alone I've done more stuff than when I was 20 years old.  And I'm now 46, so age is another factor.

This summer, I canned many gallons of food: applesauce, pickled beets and dilly beans, chicken, peaches, nectarines, jam, tomato sauce ...

I hate seeing food go to waste, so I want to deal with it all.

And then there's the harvesting, wildcrafting, cooking, baking, medicine making...

And the chickens and egg collecting and cleaning out their droppings...

I don't want to sound like I'm complaining about all the chores.  Like I said, I LOVE what I do.  I love it!!!

But I need to start thinking about my priorities.  What is most important to me?  What can I let go of?

One of the stressful things about this summer was the smoke from the wildfires.  Finding time to be outside doing what we love was a challenge.  

So whenever there was no smoke and we had the day off, we hopped on bikes, boats or on our feet and enjoyed our beautiful Pacific Northwest playground.

Mountain biking to Cutthroat Lake, searching for lost hiker Sam Sayers at Vesper Peak, paddling on the Skagit River, going to the Methow Valley...

These activities all restore my soul.  And I realize this is all active stuff, which creates a different kind of stress on the body.  

I guess I'll have to buy me some yarn so I can sit and knit, yes?

Another thing that happened this year was the guys' fishing trip to Alaska.  My husband Steve took our two boys fishing in Cordova on Prince Williams Sound.

They brought back 200 pounds of fish, which will feed us for the rest of the year.

The boys had to miss a few days of school, which was fine with them!

They came home happy, tired and filled with stories.  One of them (and it's not a fishing tale, I guarantee you!) was about a Grizzly bear that got too close for comfort, walked towards them and caused my guys to flee, leaving behind their backpacks and gear. 

When they came back the next morning, the Grizzly had eaten all the fish my boys caught and left on the stringer.  

I'll leave you with these words:

~ Don't worry about me. I feel in my heart that I'm absolutely fine.

If I get any comments like "How dare you sell off your goats! You are cruel!", I swear I will delete and block that person.

~ As part of shifting my priorities, I want to invite you to join my Patreon site. On this site, I create content that's interesting, inspirational and educational to you (movies about homesteading, recipes, tutorials).  It means that you can pay as little as $1 or as much as $20 a month to support my writing, movie making and all the time I put into offering you content.

Check out my Patreon site here <---

Thursday, September 13, 2018

This sure flew by

I am totally in denial, which is hard to do because I'm typing this wearing a wool sweater, snuggled under a fleece blanket. I am going to have to face the facts, namely that it is fall.

When I went through August's summer photos to put them on the blog, I realized how little I shared with you from our most glorious, productive month because we were insanely busy. 

So that's why I want to share the pictures with you now. I look at the images of us swimming in creeks, rivers, and the ocean, while currently shivering under my fleece blanket, and I marvel at how much time we spent by the water in this droughty, hot month.

But don't be fooled.  We didn't just play by the water all summer long.

Oh no! One of the reasons I'm feeling fried is because we packed so much food preserving in.  I have to do a separate post about it, but for now, here are some highlights.

~ Harvesting potatoes with my crew

~ Gathering apples and pressing them into apple cider

~ Collecting eggs from our chickens

~ Picking figs and making them into fig jam

~ Harvesting tons of vegetables from the garden and cooking, pickling and canning them

We also slaughtered our 20 meat chickens.  Our kids have to help with this task every year.

I can't tell you how much social media interaction I got on the photo of Kai dipping a dead chicken in the hot water.

Most people were pretty positive about it, but there were some folks that freaked out and told me I was cruel for making my kids help with killing chickens.

To this I say: we don't run a petting zoo around here.  We raise some animals for meat, and my kids know that they will end up as such. ("They" being the chickens. Not the kids).

Since my children eat, they have to help.  They don't mind at all.  In fact, Luke takes pride in telling people at our homesteading and wilderness retreats in great detail how to pull out guts from a dead, still warm chicken.

We are homesteaders.  We get dirty.  We get bloody.  We grow and raise our food, and our kids know that chickens don't come from the supermarket neatly wrapped in plastic.  There's blood and guts involved, yo!

I will leave you with some fun images in case you are traumatized by dead chicken pictures.

The one below is Luke and me on a mountain bike ride.  He's dragging me up and down some vicious hills and teaches me mountain bike slang, like "Shred the gnar, dude."

I'm trying to shred, people, I really am.

This one was a particularly lovely sunset.  Or it might have been a sunrise.

And lastly, some of our plums.  There's more to come.

If you missed our video highlighting August, you can watch it HERE <----

And if you want to watch the tutorial I made on how to make pickled beets with honey and allspice, watch it HERE <---

How was your summer?

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