Tuesday, August 22, 2017

A phenomenal retreat! What a treat!

Our homesteading and wilderness retreat last weekend was PHENOMENAL.  I'm a little speechless about it - not because I feel brain dead at the end of teaching skills for two whole days, but because it's hard to describe the depth of this full immersion experience.

The gist of it is that both Steve and I fell in love with every single one of our eight participants.  There were six people from Canada and a newly married couple who flew in from Texas.  We had one pregnant couple, a mother-and-daughter-duo, and two long-time friends from Vancouver island.

I know people left our homestead Sunday evening inspired, motivated, empowered, nurtured and fed, both on a physical and a soul level.

This year was very different from last year's retreat in October, where a huge storm knocked out power and our ten participants had to stay indoors most of the time due to the high winds.

This time around, people spent plenty of time in the sunshine, picking figs, apples and plums, harvesting cabbage for making sauerkraut, and eating meals on the porch with a chicken or dog in their lap.  In fact, my dog Yoda, who usually is totally focused on only ME, cheated on me by going goo-goo-eyed over one of our female students.

We started out the retreat with Gouda cheesemaking.  Since my goat doesn't give as much milk as usual, because her babies are still nursing on her, and since I sold my second milk goat a few months ago, I wanted to teach people how to make cheese with store bought cow milk.

The milk refused to set up and coagulate, so it didn't go as planned, but everyone assured me they learned a lot anyway, and they got to eat tons of  my different kinds of goat cheese, so they were happy.

What good sports they were!

After that class, I taught how to make goat milk soap and salves.  Part of the class included harvesting calendula flowers in the garden to infuse in olive oil.

Look how beautiful my students are!  Every single one could be a professional model, don't you think?

Back in the kitchen, we mixed oils, lye, goat milk and essential oils, poured this in beautiful molds and then strewed dried calendula petals over everything.

Steve taught some people wilderness skills during this time, and since he didn't take any pictures, we don't have photos to show you.  They learned about making primitive shelter, friction fire, and wilderness survival.

After a full day of learning and teaching, everyone headed down to a magical place by the river, and several brave souls even jumped in.

While they hung out by the water, my sons Luke and Kai helped me clean up  the kitchen and start dinner.  I pride myself in putting on a gourmet meal banquet for our students, including several organic, home-cooked dishes, including plenty of wine.

People loved it, and I loved that they loved it.  It's a win-win, man!

Also, I really want to do a shout-out for my sons.  These guys are so important in running a smooth show here, since Steve and I don't have a team of people to help put on this retreat.  We do it all ourselves, from creating the content to marketing to cleaning the house and homestead to teaching to cooking to cleaning up afterwards.

The next day started with milking goats.  I always love this segment of the retreat, because most people have never squirted warm milk from an animal's teats.  It's a special experience, and there's lots of cheering happening when the milk does flow.

After a generous breakfast and pots of coffee, some of us headed to the goat barn again to learn about raising goats, and others headed to Steve's shop to make their own wooden bows.

My goat people learned everything they need to know to raise goats, including hands-on stuff like trimming hooves.  I also show them videos I filmed on how to disbud (take horns off) and how to help a goat give birth.  It's all graphic stuff, but real-life, important things to know.

After all this, they learned archery and how to shoot their bows, and my group learned how to make sauerkraut.  This involved harvesting all the cabbages from my garden first.

We made 20 pounds of sauerkraut in less than two hours.  It's awesome to have such competent helpers in the kitchen!

I also showed them how to make another fermented super food: beet kvass.  It looks like wine, and we had fun taking some pictures of the Mom and Dad-to-be with this drink.

So there you have it.  I get a little teary looking at these pictures, because we had such fun and adored these people all so much.

One value of offering this retreat is not just in the skills people learn, but in the connection and interactions with one another and us.  There are so many informal chats going on, about our paths, lifestyle, giving inspiration, connecting deeply...  I love it all so much.

If you are are interested in attending next year's retreat, please sign up for our waiting list below.

Sign up for the waiting list for our 2018 retreat

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  1. Wow, its very amazing I really appreciate your efforts, I am also from the homestead and I have to write dozens of posts on homesteading, but your post gives me an incredible motivation.Homesteading


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