Tuesday, August 30, 2016

On top of the world!

13 years ago, we went on a canoeing/backpacking trip with our dear friends and their little son, and our own little firstborn.
A few days ago, we went on an adventure with them again, except this time, the tiny toddlers were strapping young teenagers who carried a lot of the weight (most of it food, of course).  

In the past 13 years, we added three more kids to the mix among our two families.

Off we went, to a magical place in our backyard, called Anderson and Watson Lakes.  My heart is still so full of the beauty (and sweat) of this hike, and I'm so tired and sore and sunburnt, that I can't really wax poetically about it, so I shall let the pictures speak for themselves.

This is the way in.  You expect fairies to jump out of every corner, but they were kind of hiding from us.  Five kids are probably too loud for them.

After a three-mile hike, this is what you see.  Watson Lakes.  And then it just gets better and better.  No bugs (maybe a few horseflies, but who's counting?), amazingly warm-ish water, and trillions of wild blueberries.

I've never picked blueberries in a more scenic spot, and that's saying something, because I've been at plenty of scenic spots in my life.

The first afternoon up there, Kai (my firstborn who used to be a toddler, remember?) and I explored around the lake, all the while stuffing our mouths with blueberries. At some point I looked at him and broke out into hysterical laughter because his lips were purple. Apparently, so were mine, and he laughed right back at me. 

 Raka, our dog, found a new hobby: picking blueberries. For real. This dog will poop purple for days.

Boy and dog, gorging themselves on blueberries, while Mount Shuksan looks on
While we explored, the two little girls stayed behind and played in the dirt at our campsite. These two were so filthy at the end of the day, we gave up trying to clean them up. Dirt and dust build immunity, right?

Our friend, who is obsessed with fishing, caught enough trout for dinner. Fish and blueberries, anyone?

Our night was a little bit rough. Raka, who had never slept anywhere else than on top of her sofa in our house, didn't want to stay in the tent with Kai but kept prowling around camp all night long, sticking her nose into everyone's faces. The guys all slept out without tents, so they weren't protected from wet dog slobber by nylon.

The stars were sure pretty though!

The next morning, after enough coffee-fortification, some of us headed out along the lake to explore and pick more blueberries. Little did we know that our relaxing walk would turn into a full-on climbing expedition.

No hiking books mention this route, but it's worth following the little mountain goat trail leading up, up, up, through more blueberry shrubs, past scree fields, patches of wildflowers, snow, and little mountain tarns.

I don't know how much elevation we gained on the steep climb, but Steve guesses it was about 2,000 feet in a mile. Steep. Our little six year old Eva charged on, although I kept begging telling her we could stop. No, no. Onward!

The views and rolling in the snow naked were so worth it!

I will leave you with tired legs, aching feet, and a very happy heart.  And possibly purple poop in the future, but I won't tell you about that.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

August highlights here at Marblemount Homestead

Ohhh, what fun August was!  Lots of harvesting, eating, cooking and putting up food from the garden, we hosted another kids weekend summer camp, spent many hours in glacial creek water to cool off, visits with friends...

Here is a short video recap.  These little movie highlights are becoming a favorite with many people.  I hope you enjoy them, too!

Click here or below to watch the August movie.  My favorite is the scenes with the goats and the dog playing.  Or maybe it's the pigs being sprayed with water?  Or maybe it's the kids jumping off a cliff?

Did you miss the last two ones I made?

Here is the one for July.

Here is the one for June.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Our very exciting announcement

As you probably know, we live in one of the most beautiful places in the world.

And I'm not just saying that.  It's true.  

When we started offering homesteading and wilderness summer-campy kind of events for kids, many adults asked if we ever offer retreats for adults.

We have taught many adult classes at our homestead before, but never done it in a retreat-style, where people spend the night and get fed meals.

But now, we do!!!

We will offer one weekend retreat this year, October 15 and 16, at our beautiful homestead in the Upper Skagit Valley at the edge of the North Cascades wilderness.

This will be a time to...

  • slow down
  • connect with nature
  • unwind in gorgeous scenery
  • learn homesteading skills
  • learn wilderness survival skills 
  • eat healthy, farm-grown food
  • connect with like-minded, earth-conscious people
  • ask us questions about homesteading and wilderness skills

We are offering our homesteading and wilderness skills weekend camp to teach you new skills and empower and inspire you to live a more self-reliant, wholesome, simpler and healthier life.

To some extend, this retreat will be flexible and can be customized to what people most want to learn.

On the agenda this time around: 

Saturday, October 15:

10 am: Tour of our homestead, Orientation of sleeping quarters and accommodations

11 am - 2 pm: Choose between Gouda Cheese Making or Primitive Wilderness Skills (shelter, fire, cordage)

2 pm - 5 pm: Choose between Soap Making or Tracking and Wild Edibles in the Forest

6 pm: Home-cooked dinner

7 - 9: Campfire gathering, at the homestead or one of our wild creeks

Sunday, October 16:

8:30 am: Milking goats

9 am: Farm-fresh breakfast

10 am - 3 pm: Choose between Goat Raising Course or other topic of choice or Bow Making Course

3 pm - 5 pm: Choose between Canning or Sauerkraut Making or Archery

Students have several options for accommodations at our homestead:






... and in hotels, motels, air B and B and campgrounds very close by.

We are located at the edge of the North Cascades Mountain wilderness in the Upper Skagit Valley, Washington State, where the scenery is mind-blowingly beautiful!

We are 2 hours Northeast of Seattle, 1 1/2 hours Southeast of Bellingham, and easily accessible by scenic Highway 20.

You could fly into Seatac Airport and be at our homestead in two and a half hours, spend the weekend with us, and then extend your vacation hiking, sightseeing, or exploring!

For more info or to sign up, please fill out this form, and we'll be in touch!

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Thursday, August 18, 2016

The height of summer!

This is us in the kitchen.  We are harvesting, preserving, preparing and cooking so much food that's coming from our land, these days we need all hands on board.  

In this particular picture, I am blissfully licking raw chocolate for my chocolate truffles, cause it's my medicine, and I need to eat six four of them every day.

Luke and Steve are cutting up apples for dehydrating.  Kai and Eva (not pictured) are picking apples in the orchard.  We are picking apples every single day, and I already made gallons of applesauce.

We are also peach-rich, thanks to a prolific organic grower that sells boxes of them.  We have canned a lot of peaches with honey already (here's the recipe and tutorial), and since there are lots more where that came from, we also eat them fresh with cream.  

Have you ever eaten peaches with cream?  Do it!  Right now!  No, wait - read to the end of this post, and then go get some!

Talking of sweet fruits: we are drowning in figs.  It's not a bad problem to have, really, since I'd rather be drowning in figs than say, goat manure, but it puts the pressure on: what to do with them?  

If in doubt, just add cream (to the figs, not the goat manure, okay?).

And the blackberries?  The BLACKBERRIES!!!  We have already picked and frozen a ton, and every time we walk the goats to pasture, we pick more.  Straight into our mouths.  The goats love them, too.  Of course, we also manage to save some for desert every night, with - you guessed it - cream.

The whole garden is producing veggies of all kinds.  We eat lots of Greek salads with our homegrown tomatoes, cucumbers, basil, my Feta cheese, and Kalamata olives.

Soon, I shall make dilly beans.  And something with zucchini.  Does anyone want zucchini?  No?  I thought so.

Not only food stuff goes on in the kitchen, but also soap making.  I love my goat milk soaps, and I had a bunch of people custom order some.  So here I go.

You can imagine that with all this work, we insist on playing hard.  And we do.  Our local rivers are an amazing playground, with deep, cold, green pools to jump into (or do backflips, as my sons do, to my big dismay).  

Steve took one of his deer hides (he hunts with a wooden bow he made himself) to the creek the other day to stretch it there, and the boys were happy to help.  I sat there with my knitting, watching them proudly.  Not just because my husband is easy on the eyes (isn't he, though?), but also because I love how involved our kids are with these wilderness skills.  A few weeks down the road, they might sew a shirt with this tanned hide.  

All in all, things are going great.  We are getting ready for our wilderness and homesteading summer camp for kids this weekend.  

All the critters are great, too.  Chickens are laying, goats are producing.  What more could you ask for?

PS: I have a very exciting announcement to make, and I will do that in the next post.  Watch for it!

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