Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Perfect for Mother's Day, and a little something for you!

May 8th is Mother's day.  Although I have a tiny little prejudice against this holiday, since it's so commercialized, and since I think mothers should be celebrated EVERY SINGLE DAY, I do admit loving the attention I get.  My husband spoils me, which isn't anything new since he tends to spoil me anyway. 

My three kids, however, are typical little humans thinking that their mother will always be around, and that mothers were invented to keep shoving food their way, keeping their laundry reasonably clean, and dispensing bandaids when needed.  They have absolutely no idea what the job title "Mother" entails.  

I won't even mention pushing a baby out of the birth canal, since this act should earn us a gold medal, but I mean the day-to-day things: staying up all night cleaning up vomit and soothing feverish foreheads, reading "The Berenstein's" book for the thousandth time while fighting the urge to either nod off or rip the damn book to pieces, driving the kids to and fro for miles and miles and hours and hours... The list goes on and on.

Mother's Day, though (with my husband coaching them, I'm sure), my three lovely children bring me handmade cards, flowers, kisses, and proclamations of yours truly "being the best mama foreversakes".

Yeah.  It's all worth it after all.

Now comes the fun part for you:  I have kept a little online Etsy shop for years and completely neglected it.  A few weeks ago I decided that I want to close up this shop, since I can't give it the energy it deserves, and since Mother's Day is close, I thought I would offer you a very, very generous sale.

Everything will be 25% off until May 8th.  Click here to go to my online store and enter coupon code at checkout: mamagift

I have all kinds of lovely things that women like, and all these things are either handknit, handspun, felted, or handmade by me.

I have luscious goat milk soaps, felted hats and purses, knit hats, scarves, capelets and fingerless mittens, knitting patterns and tie-dye shirts.

Please buy your mother, wife, daughter, sister, aunt, any female relative an item from my shop.

Thanks for supporting my small business, so I can buy more yarn more goat feed more chocolate more groceries.

Head over to my Etsy store and at checkout, get 25% off with coupon code: mamagift

Sunday, April 24, 2016

You might be shocked when you read this...

How do we teach our children (and ourselves!) not to be scared of the wild? I wrote another article for "Free Range Child" about this topic (I'm on a writing spree!), and this one created some controversy.

In the article, (read it here) I tell the story about our son Luke's solo overnighter in the woods when he was ten years old, equipped only with a sleeping bag (no tent), a fishing pole, a knife and no food.  Doing this was his idea, by the way.  I love the varied feedback I got from my readers - some admitting to being shocked when they read what we let our kids do, but then realizing how vitally important, yet rare, these kinds of rites of passage are.

I don't want to spoil the story by retelling it here, so I urge you to head on over to "Free Range Child" and read it there.

This week has been filled with excursions to our favorite wild creek, where we cooled off in 85 degree (!) weather.  A couple of our friends' kids joined us and watched with fascination as Steve made a friction fire with a bow drill (rubbing two sticks together), no matches and materials he gathered by the river.

Sausage roasting ensued.  It struck me that the food we prepared at the river was all homemade: sausages made from the meat of pigs we raised ourselves, cornbread made with eggs from our chickens and milk from our goats, and asparagus from the garden.

Can our lives get any more wholesome or what?  Now if we could just grow cacao beans for my chocolate addiction!!!

I did sneak a bottle of Bailey's Irish Cream for the adults.  Ahem.

Although I love the wild and thrive when I spend time in nature, my husband Steve is the expert.  Whereas I'm the one teaching people homesteading skills, he's the one teaching wilderness survival skills: making fire by friction, building primitive shelter, tracking, hide tanning, bow making, archery, wild plant ID and more.

I love that he is such an amazing role model for many of us, but especially for boys.  The wilderness is in his blood - he grew up in Papua New Guinnea and has spent his formative years with tribal cultures.  He knows how important it is to let our boys push their edges in the wild, and I am grateful for it.

Boys are a little bit of a mystery to me.  I grew up with three sisters and no brothers, so I often check in with Steve to see if my sons' behavior is normal.  

"Really?  They like wrestling each other down to the ground so their head grinds into the sand? Huh."

"Why do they act like I'm asking them to clean out the goat barn when I request that they take a shower once a week?"

"Is it normal that they are constantly eating and acting like they're starving?"

My heart swelled watching my 6'4 gentle man wrestle with our boys and their friend at the creek.  My daughter Eva and I sat and watched, amazed that the boys enjoy being pinned underneath each other's arm pits, grateful that we don't have to do this.

Eva and I would rather curl up and read under the cherry tree, hang out in the garden and with our animals.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

In the garden - and raising kids on the homestead

I wrote a story for "Free Range Child", which is part of a wonderful movement called "Overgrow the System". Their vision: "to create an effective and compelling platform that can empower and activate people across social spectrums, while also addressing the real issues and challenges that the world faces today. A platform that can inspire people to reclaim their freedom and their power from the cultural mechanisms of control and complacency in order to live more in balance with the cycles and systems of the natural world."

I love that vision, and I love that they recruited me to write for them. You can read my piece here.

It totally ties in with this blog post today: how the kids help us with everything on the homestead, and this week, we planted our garden. I'm so happy with how it looks.

In my article for "Free Range Child" I told a story about how my kids help us on the homestead, so I won't expand on it here.  Let me just say: these children know how to work!  They helped me dig the garden with a broad fork, plant potatoes and transplant brassicas.  

It warms my heart to see them work beside me.  They know where their food comes from, and they know it takes effort to plant and nurture it before they can eat it.

But by Golly, we shall have potatoes for hash browns, and this prospect alone will motivate my oldest son to sweat over digging the potato trench!

I'm especially impressed with Eva.  She's only six, but she's trailing me around in the garden.

"Can I help you, Mama?"

Why, yes, she certainly can.  She loves watering, of course (what child doesn't love playing with water?), but she also willingly hoes, weeds and transplants.  Here is some mighty happy lettuce, nurtured by her little hands.

We've been eating from the garden quite a bit lately: asparagus, overwintered kale, collards and leeks, chives, and bamboo shoots (I will write a how-to tutorial on how to prepare them later).

Kai is helping Steve build a new chicken tractor.  The old one has been around for a decade and is getting tired (I mean the chicken tractor, not Steve).

I gotta feed all these busy helpers, so I made some killer cornbread that disappeared in about two minutes.

I will leave you with photos of things that are blooming in our yard.  There's lots blooming, and the mason bees are happy.

What's blooming in your neck of the woods?

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