A NEW GREENHOUSE.

further hammering.

Today was a ridiculous 70 degree January day, so it was perfect for getting outside and working on our new greenhouse. We are planning on getting a high tunnel through a NRCS grant, but we won’t be able to put it up in time to start our early seeds. This little greenhouse will mostly be a propagation house for all of our soil blocks. We should be getting the plastic on it next week!

The farm may be a muddy mess right now, but we were all happy to be outside getting a little fresh air on our skin. Further was especially happy to get to use a hammer!

– Hannah.

new greenhouse.

jesse and further.

further.

greenhouse frame.

INDIGO.

A few weeks back, Cher attended an indigo dyeing workshop at the wonderful Hill & Hollow. This week, she used her newfound knowledge, harvesting her own indigo and dyeing some of her own beautiful handspun wool. I helped out, to learn about this magical process and to dye a few skeins myself.

indigo dyeing.

indigo dyeing.

indigo dyeing.

It truly is remarkable – a completely green plant that somehow becomes blue. Even when you take the wool out of the dye vat, it is a light blue and then slowly turns a darker blue before your eyes as it hits the oxygen. So amazing!

indigo dyeing.

indigo dyeing.

indigo dyeing.

It was a magical day – spent in Cher’s gorgeous outdoor kitchen while Further played on a quilt with the Bugtussle kids, the yarn and roving hanging from the kiwi trellis. It was very addicting – since the indigo last week, I have already dyed with tickseed sunflowers, and next up is pokeberry and walnut and maybe goldenrod. If I run out of yarn, I might just start dying all of our clothes or Further’s cloth diapers!

– Hannah.

indigo dyeing.

indigo dyeing.

indigo dyeing.

 

A CASE FOR THE IMPERFECT HOMESTEAD.

chicken.

Comparison is the thief of joy. This is a phrase Hannah once told me that I’ve always loved. Nothing makes me feel like more of a failure than scanning permaculture books like “The Resilient Farm and Homestead,” or “Gaia’s Garden” and thinking, “Man, our farm looks nothing like these.” I know they’re well-established homesteads which have had lots of helpers over the years, but still. Hannah and I are doing our best to have a beautiful farm but farming always seems to get in the way.

We long for a beautiful farmstead, but beauty is just not always all that practical. A beautiful farm takes a lot of work, and we’ve got a lot of that going on already. We work full time and that work sustains us, but little more.

The thing I have to keep in mind, however, is that our farm––in conjunction with our neighbor’s farm––is paying the bills. And that is a beautiful thing in and of itself, but also where the majority of our time goes. So unfortunately our aesthetics often get pushed aside. But if that means our homestead is perfectly functional, so be it. So be proud of it. Even if you don’t get a hundred cans of tomatoes put up. Even when you fail to make your kimchi. Even when the turkeys eat your winter garden, but you still have plenty to eat and are surviving––or could easily survive––entirely off of the farm, that’s something to be proud of. That’s something you should consider successful, even if it looks insane.

In fact I almost prefer it this way––the slow way. Sure, we could take out an equity loan and pump up our farm, build the cellar and barns we need, maybe even get some solar electricity to them. But the way we are going about it now–-slowly––allows the farm to adapt. It makes every new accomplishment that much more ours. We earned it. We built it. We did it ourselves. And when it is finally beautiful––which, by God it will be one day––and perennial plants abound, and the farm takes care of itself, and we have everything we need, we’ll probably still be dissatisfied. We’ll look at the current books and think, “Man, our farm looks nothing like these.” So, really, what’s the rush?

– Jesse.

EASY NATURAL HOMEMADE ROOT BEER.

Persimmon Root BeerI’ll be honest, I like soda (or pop, or cola, or whatever your colloquialism may be), but I hardly drink the stuff. Too sugary, too processed, not my thing. But having grown up with soda I do sometimes get the craving for one, especially around the fall when a good root beer, or root beer float, could really hit the spot.

So here’s our recipe to make your own root beer, only using water, roots, honey and fruit (if desired)—no starter needed (though if you keep a ginger bug, go nuts). IMPORTANT NOTE: this is a fermented product and the end result will contain a slight bit of alcohol, akin perhaps to kombucha. If you don’t let your kids drink kombucha, this may not be your recipe. Also, the longer it ages, the higher the alcohol level will rise, so kids should drink it fresh and in small quantities. OTHER IMPORTANT NOTE: if this post looks funny, it’s because I (Jesse) am doing it all by myself and can’t figure out how to put spaces between paragraphs. You will have to pretend they’re there. And they’re awesome.

IMG_3115

Makes One Gallon

you’ll need:

1-2 lbs dried sassafras root (and/or other flavorful roots such as sarsaparilla)
1 and 1/4 gallons water
2 cups raw honey (if not raw, or if you choose to use sugar––1 1/2 cups––you may have to add some form of starter or unwashed fruit)
1-2 lbs wild persimmons or other fruit (optional)
One 2 gallon glass jar or crock
Small plastic bottles for bottling with lids
 
persimmons.

Chop the dry roots into large chunks. (Our friends at Rolf and Daughters even suggest toasting the roots slightly first to concentrate the flavor.) In a large pot, simmer the roots with 1/2 gallon of water for at least one hour until fragrant and dark. It should reduce slightly, and be a deep red. Add the rest of the water and let cool to room temperature. Once sufficiently cool, stir in raw honey and persimmons whole. Do not crush fruit or the drink will become pulpy (speaking from experience). Place in crock or glass jar and cover with cloth tied on tightly to keep bugs out. Leave at room temperature. Let sit overnight. The next day, stir vigorously two or three times with wooden spoon. Fermentation should begin within 48 hours.

potboiler.

Once it begins to bubble slightly, put it into bottles or jars and put lids on. At this point, allow to sit at room temperature for one day, until carbonation is visible, or until you hear a light “fizz” when you open a bottle. Place in fridge and drink anytime thereafter. Take into consideration that the bottles will become highly pressurized from the carbon dioxide, and if not consumed within few days will need to be “burped” by removing the lid carefully and releasing the gas. The fridge will slow down the pressurization, but keep an eye on them. Otherwise you may have an explosion. For serious. Again, this fermentation will produce trace amounts of alcohol and that percentage will increase over time. Consume fresh and cold.

– Jesse

BIRTHDAY PROJECT.

yarn dyeing. yarn dyeing. yarn dyeing. yarn dyeing. yarn dyeing. yarn dyeing.

For my birthday this year, Jesse got me some yarn specifically for the purpose of dyeing – a project we have been talking about for awhile. We have dreams of having our own wool sheep and shearing, spinning, and dyeing our own wool!

We spent a few days playing with the yarn (following these instructions) and experimented with black beans. Although the yarn did not turn out ANYTHING like what I was expecting – a sage green/blue – I really love it and am excited to try again! This time, we are using goldenrod!

– Hannah.

yarn!

 

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