Saturday, June 27, 2020

Our new digs - from not much to this

Here we are, in the middle of a pandemic, with social upheaval and heartbreak, and yet... Our family is actively cultivating and holding on to as much positivity, joy, love and hope as we can. And we try to spread these sentiments.

With that in mind, let me share the latest progress at our new digs - the place we moved to before the pandemic hit. We started from scratch... a basic house, a few box-store foundation plantings, and that was it.

In the meantime, we have put in a very productive garden, a shed, a patio, and lots of flowers and plantings.

The view from our backyard - Mount Baker

The chickens moved with us, of course

The new patio Steve made

Most of the flowers I either transplanted from our old place in Marblemount, our friends gave to me, or I bought from the local nursery.  My dear friends gave me a great gift certificate for Mother's Day!

The soil here in the Skagit Flats is great, albeit sandy.  It's famous farmland around here.

And the veggie garden!  There was nothing but grass, and one of the first things we did was plowing up a plot for veggies.  It has already been feeding us grandly with peas, lettuce, bok choy, kale, chard and radishes. The beets, carrots, onions, cabbage, cucumbers, squash, beans and tomatoes are growing happily.

If you want to see a visual progress from the very beginning, HERE is a youtube movie I made in March and April.

And HERE is a movie I made about May, showing the progress as well!

We hope you're doing well!

Friday, May 22, 2020

Starting from Scratch... Here's the progress

Although it's hard to believe, some of you still don't realize that we moved. Yes, that's right... We don't live in the Marblemount wilderness anymore, but moved 55 miles West, right by the salt water in the Skagit Flats. I wrote about it here. Or you can watch the video that explains it here.

I realized I actually never wrote a blog post in the two months since we moved! I'd like to start by showing you the garden progress, and in the next post will show you the progress with the shed and gigantic mountain bike jump Steve and the boys built.

Let me preface this: we LOVE it here. It's so different than our Marblemount homestead, but oh so welcome. There's less rain here, less driving, much more biking, and the beautiful salt water!

Two months ago, we started with a blank slate. Lots of lawn surrounded by huge fields, and a few ugly standard box-store foundation plantings around the house.

Before we had fully moved in, I started digging in the yard.  I had transplanted and potted up some of my favorite plants from Marblemount, and I began finding spots for them here.

Friends gave me plant babies. Other friends gave me gift certificates to my favorite nursery, which happens to be only a ten minute drive from our new house! Dangerous!!!

If you have followed my blog for a while, you know that I like Old English cottage style flowers best, so in they went.

It's much windier and drier here, but my babies seem happy. Below is a picture I took this morning. Not bad from nothing, eh?

There are Old English roses, lupins, lemon balm, irises, California poppies, pulmonaria, chives, and dozens of newly planted dahlia tubers. One of my friends gifted them to me, since he always has lots of babies.  This saved me literally hundreds of dollars!

The other priority for Steve and me was the vegetable garden.  We originally planned on simplifying, and not having a big garden. Ahem. So much for that.

We started rototilling up a plot, and it looked ridiculously tiny compared the huge garden we have in Marblemount.

So the next time Steve had to rent a tractor for work, he brought it in and plowed up another spot.

We ordered a couple of truck loads of compost, which cost $30 each and is totally worth it, and then I made raised beds. The soil down here is much more sandy, and I'll have to water more. But it's good, fertile soil, since this is one of the most famous agricultural regions in the country.

I also put up some of my prayer flags, which our three kids were very upset about. They didn't want other people to think we are all hippies. I tell you, we had a pretty big argument about this, and in the end, Mama won, because I don't care if my kids are embarrassed about this.

Plus, the flags will hopefully act as scarecrows for the birds. Hippy scarecrows. You're welcome, kids.

As of today, the third week of May, our garden is in and thriving. Peas, lettuce, kale, bok choy, swiss chard, spinach, carrots, beets, onions, cucumbers, beans and tomatoes.

We don't have deer problems here, but the @#%^* bunny ate my newly planted Wisteria. I'm letting our big dog Raka chase the bunny, so he'll be deterred by living under the shed and making one hundred thousand babies... I don't think it will work.

We bought and planted three apple trees from Cloud Mountain Farm, because the best time to plant fruit trees is ten years ago.

Although we still have our large orchard in Marblemount, we also want apple trees down here. Not to sound all show-offy here, but our homemade hard apple cider that we made last year with our own apples is better (and cheaper) than store-bought.

So there will be much more cider in our future. Once this friggin pandemic is over, you'll have to come over, sit in the windy yard with us, and admire the view while drinking hard cider.

Next time, I'll show you the progress the boys made with the shed. You'll also see why my hair looks grayer than ever, and not only because my hair dresser is in quarantine. Mostly it's because Luke built a 9-foot high mountain bike jump, and he regularly launches himself off it.

So tell me: what's new with you????

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

You feel so empowered when you know this

As of today we have confirmed cases of Coronavirus in our county (Skagit) and we are encouraged to stay home and avoid the public.  In the face of what's happening right now worldwide and in our state, I'm reflecting deeply, taking stock, and noticing things that I might have taken for granted.

I'm not writing this to show off, but to make a point, so read on.

Yesterday Steve and I sat on the porch, drinking some of our homemade hard apple cider while we shaved Devil's Club inner bark to dry into potent anti-viral medicine.

Afterwards, we washed our hands with goat milk soap that I had made months before.

I cooked dinner with onions and garlic that we had grown in our garden, which is fertilized with compost I make myself.  We have food that we grew, canned, froze, dried or fermented, and medicine that we gathered and made into remedies and preventatives like elderberry syrup, devil's club tea, and dried sage for sore throats.

It's gonna be a while til we run out of the gallons of hard cider, Blackberry wine, Oregon Grape wine and Elderberry wine we made in the last couple of years.

Our crawl space is stocked with home made goat cheddar, gouda and manchego.

Our freezers are filled with chicken we raised and butchered ourselves. 

Currently we are drowning in eggs from egg birds.

Steve makes bows for hunting, and he can harvest meat if need be. My sons know how to hunt with guns. They have fished and provided our family with protein since they were little. We know how to identify and gather super nutritious wild foods.

I can just about knit everything you would want to clothe yourself, and I can spin wool into yarn to knit or felt with. Although woollen underpants don't sound too appealing, if you ask me.

If we ever ran out of toilet paper, we would know which plants make the softest substitute (moss and mullein leaves, y'all!).

What is my point?

My point is that I think it's important to know how to do some of this stuff.  You don't have to be hard-core homesteaders like we are, but you can learn to do one small thing. And then another one. It's so very, very empowering, and lots of it is very, very fun.

Wouldn't it be nice to whip up your own medicine/meals/soap if you run to the store and there is nothing left?

It's not too late. There are so many wonderful people teaching skills.

I have several friends who teach herbal medicine courses, both locally and online.

Many homesteaders and teachers have youtube channels and lots of free content to offer.  

I teach many things, and you don't have to pay for them >> HERE - my tutorials on the blog << or >> HERE - my How-To playlist on youtube <<.

My heart goes out to everyone who is severely affected by the spreading of this virus, either health-wise, economic, mentally, or whatever else is coming up for us.  

Boost your immune system, wash your hands, stay away from crowds, be mindful of not touching your face, and stay positive and away from fear!

Sending much love to everyone!

Let us know how you are coping in the comments below.

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