Friday, June 27, 2014

A break

We have been reveling in summer, with its lazy days spent at the river, its glorious hot days that make the tomatoes and figs speed towards ripening, its flower scented air.  There has been a little bit of a lull in the workload for me, not because there is less to do, but because I am making a conscious choice to do less.  A month ago, I got some health testing results back.  They showed me that my efficient, hard working, type A German personality finally got the best the worst of me: my cortisol levels (stress hormones) are out of the ballpark low, meaning that I've been running on adrenaline.  No wonder I'm getting so much done!  But this has to change.  If my stress hormones dip any lower, I will get really sick.  I vote for a change!  We all want a happy mama.  So I've been chatting with the young kid in my body who believes that she's not good enough, that she's not worthy.  She believes that she needs to produce, accomplish, and attain in order to take up space in the world.  I lovingly tell her that this belief is a load of crap, and that we will change things from now on.  We'll see how it goes.  

One of the things we'll change is to get rid of the goats in the fall.  I can't even tell you how much this thought freaks me out, how much my identity is wrapped up in being a goat keeper and cheese maker.  I've had goats for nine years in a row.  And although the goats give me lots of joy, they also give me lots of work, extra chores and stress.  So with a heavy heart, I will enjoy the goats this summer, and then... we'll see.  For now, I sold all the baby goats and their mamas, and I'm borrowing my friend's goat to keep my other one company.  That means I'm milking two, getting over two gallons of milk a day.
Here is our new loaner goat Mocha in the minivan, on the way to our farm, and below that picture is my friend and her daughters, who just learned to milk!  And check out our new little chicks!

Other happenings in our lives, aside from all these major life transitions?  Well, there is fire making, of course, since my wilderness man has to keep up his hand drill fire making skills.  And there are flowers, lots of flowers.  The other day, my organic flower farming friend urged me to pick a bucket load of flowers at her farm, and who am I to say no to that?

I will leave you with pictures of my own flower paradise at our homestead.  No matter how turbulent life gets, I feel at peace whenever I stick my nose into flowers.  What gives you peace and joy these days?

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Around the homestead

I just came in from weeding onions, and now I smell like a giant onion. Oh, my goodness, guys, it's a jungle out there! Ever year, we grow two types of onions: walla walla for fresh eating and pickling, and copras for storing. We are still eating our onions stored from last year! With this weather of rain and sunshine, everything is exploding: the garden, and the weeds. Steve and I just had an impromptu date, like it often happens. We move from one chore to the next, and today, we just chanced to walk by the garden, and I sighed about the weed explosion. I meant to just pluck one or two weeds, but pretty soon, my husband and I crouched companionably by the onion bed, weeding away like human rototillers.  A spontaneous onion weeding date.
How romantic, right?


We are eating a lot of food out of the garden now: kale, collards, lettuce, broccoli, peas, chives, beet tops, green onions, edible flowers... The kids like to go in the garden and browse, picking a little of this, and a little of that - just like goats! 

The potatoes are blooming!
The entrance to the garden, with climbing roses and clematis
This morning, I taught my friends how to milk a goat.  There's definitely a learning curve with mastering how to milk, and a lot of milk gets squirted on one's clothes, one's hair, and everywhere else except the milk bucket.  And when the goat is used to being milked by an expert, she might contribute to the fun by putting her poopy hoof in the milk bucket.  This morning, however, went great!  My friends did an excellent job.  I have taught many people how to milk a goat, but those two were my favorites so far - a mother-daughter duo.  In fact, over a decade ago, I stood by my friend's bedsite as she gave birth do her daughter (the same one that is milking in this picture).

Other going-ons at our farm: moving our ingenious moveable pig pen to new pasture.  It takes two adults (and maybe a kid or two) to move it.  When the pigs get new pasture, they act like kids on Christmas.  It's amazing how quickly they convert green grass into a fertilized, rototilled area.  They root around with their strong noses, digging up the grass from its roots, while ecstatically grunting and making other agreeable pig noises.  They are hard at work growing bacon!

Talking about hard work: Kai has a summer job mowing lawns.  He is motivated!  I would be, too, if someone paid me to mow the lawn.  I am proud of this boy, I am.  I drive him to his job, and "supervise" while I get to relax, reading a book and hanging out with the boss' kitty.

I will leave you with images of my loves.  Here is Eva, modeling a dress I knit her when she was only in infant.  It finally fits her.  She loves picking rose pedals.  The boys do what they do best: rough housing and pushing their bodies to the max.
Happy solstice!!!

Sunday, June 15, 2014

42, and getting lost in the mountains

So I turned 42 this week.  Rapidly heading towards 50.  To celebrate we headed to the Methow Valley, where our friend let us stay in his vacation mobile home.   The birthday festivities included hiking, mountain biking, chocolate, burgers, cherries, and getting lost (my fault, of course).  
On the first day, the family headed up Patterson Mountain, where wild flowers and Aspens charmed the heck out of us.  It's only a four mile hike, so Eva marched up mostly by herself, but by the end where it gets a little steep, she needed some help from my 42 year old back, and Steve's as well.  Here's one of my favorite pictures of my three kids walking up the mountain.

There's nothing like spending your birthday with your loves, cherries, and nature.

Mama Mule.
Eva hugging a little Aspen tree.
The second day, my sons and I headed out on our bikes - on a mountain bike trail that had been recommended to us.  It's a system of trails also used by skiers in winter.  We had no map, which concerned me because I know my penchant for getting lost.  I warned Steve about it when he dropped us off, but he shrugged it off, casually saying, "Just follow the trail."  Right.  Okay.
So we did.  Oh, it was lovely!  My boys led the way, charging up, up, up a rugged trail, amidst wild Lupins and Indian Paintbrush.  I followed their delighted squeals, letting rip a few of my own once the endorphins hit.  After one and a half hours, we started getting tired, and thunderheads formed above us, releasing a few gentle rain drops.  We came to a V in the road, and not knowing where to go, we followed one trail, which led up a logging road.  It didn't feel right, so I had us turn back.  It didn't feel right to go on the other trail either.  It seemed to lead us deeper into the wilderness.  So we made a joint decision to ride down the logging road, hoping it would spit us out somewhere closer to the valley floor.
After 45 minutes of rough riding, with screeching brakes and very sore bodies, we made it to a place where I got cell phone reception and called Steve.  We decided to keep following the logging road, and pretty soon came to the spot where Steve had dropped us off!  Phew!  Way to go, Mama, getting your children lost in the wilderness without rain jackets in an approaching thunderstorm.  And way to go using intuition to get us out of it!
We really, really, really loved eating burgers afterwards.  Every single one of those french fries filled up calories we had sweated out on that epic ride!

This photo is totally fakey.  We didn't know we were lost yet.
Waiting for our burgers.  Note my kids' dirty faces.
We came home to a thriving garden cranking out healthy food (and gorgeous flowers), and I made a huge salad for dinner - everything home grown or made by our own hands, including mint-stuffed halloumi cheese.  We really do take great pride in feeding ourselves and being as self-sufficient as we can be!

Let me tell you about another fabulous thing that happened this week.  My enterprising sons started making Tie Dye Shirts and are selling them at our local once-a-month community farmer's market in Marblemount.  I also listed them in my Etsy shop.  You can see them here.  They already sold six!  Here they are with their friend who makes and sells wooden walking sticks.

Since they earned their own money, I allowed them to buy sodas with it.

And since I didn't post a blog entry last week, let me share some of the pictures I took.  Strawberry picking and eating with Eva's best friend, and later hiking up Sauk Mountain with the boys' best friend.  

Last but very much not least:  Happy father's day, Steve!  This man is the best daddy any kid could ask for, and it humbles and overjoys me to my soul what an amazing father he is.  We are so lucky to have you!!!!!!

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