Thursday, May 30, 2013

We are watching Malcolm X. We are thinking about the difference between his message and that of Dr. Martin Luther King. And we are thinking about his influence on society.

Given that its impossible to get curious about things completely unknown or obscure, I see it as my job, as an unschooling parent, to point some stuff out.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Yesterday my friend and I put up two different kinds of soda to ferment, strawberry and watermelon. While we were working with the bug, the wort, and the jars Angel Baby came inside for a visit. Hopefully we made delicious naturally carbonated soda loaded with natural enzymes, B vitamins, and probiotics. If the goal is nurturing a rich biome while hydrating, a visit from a little goat can't hurt!

Monday, May 27, 2013

Feeding goats organic grains last year, plenty was spilled in the yard and kicked around by chickens and washed around by rain. We decided to let the resulting grass grow to seed. Here are the results. I think. I'm really not certain what any of it is. I've labeled as best I can according to this USDA chart. But I've never seen a sheaf of cereal grain in my life. I tried to figure out the names of the native grasses. I failed but did learn about green sprangletop, which grows exclusively in Texas and Florida. I just like the name. Green Sprangletop. Please note that all these grasses grew to roughly the same height. I plonked them down thoughtlessly wonky for the picture. Also note: dogs, cats, and chickens apparently adore a good high stand of grass. Which quickly results in a no longer high stand of grass.
native grass,    barley and wheat,    oats,    native grass

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Speaking of fun ecology, after some previous false starts, I'm getting the hang of fermentation. This is pretty much what it always looks like next to my kitchen sink these days: stuff fermenting along side fresh milk jars waiting to get washed. Currently we have a ginger bug, beet kvass, and carrot, beet, garlic, ginger salad all set abrew this morning while my family was asleep. I've tried fermentation before and it never really took. Mostly because it felt scary. Can you really eat this stuff? Aren't we supposed to avoid food that's alive? Take a look around. Our culture has been carefully demanding ever increasing spirals of death from our food, on every level. And that isn't working out very well. Time to change direction.

I've been inspired by our family's participation in the Wildlife of Your Home, current writing by Michael Pollen, Sandor Katz, a new love of kim chi, and not least WholisitcSquid who makes fermentation look like child's play.
I grabbed my camera and snapped a series of shots that illustrate 10 minutes on this Sunday morning. 
 We've borrowed a few goats to eat the brush off our septic field. Funnest ecology ever!
 We're calling this little boy Angel Baby because he's Angel's baby. He is distinctly not afraid of Jackson. 
 Angel is more concerned. Especially since Angel Baby fits through the fence easily. 
Nothing cuter than babies happening this morning. 

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Thursday, May 16, 2013

I had several moles removed a few weeks ago and one of them turned out to be melanoma. Stage 0 - 0 non metatastic in situ. The melanoma never left the boundaries of the mole it was sitting on. Its been removed, the site has been dramatically excised and I may never have another one. But my newly increased risk factor, along with that of my children and my siblings, weights heavily on my mind.

This news scares the ever living bejeezzes out of me. Did I say, last year on this very blog, that the sun is a healthy good thing? So it is. However, you won't catch me basking anywhere ever again. I've bought hats and long dresses, and I cut the collar out one of my husband's old work shirts. I am now, officially, one of those old women who is always covered. It took me a few weeks to come to terms with my new fashion, in a pouty way. I had a lot of time to sit and think about it while the incision on my leg has been healing. Today I went grocery shopping, covered head to toe. Guess what? No one cared. It was fine. I am an old lady who moves in the world covered up. So Be It.

If you have a strange mole: GO TO A DERMATOLOGIST. Get it checked. A general practitioner looked at my mole a year ago and said it was fine. He was wrong. The dermatologist knew at a glance.

Today I bought some plants: an aloe, basil, thyme, and hyssop. My son turned my herb bed and we weeded together. Later the kids set the plants for me. Gardening in a long dress, long sleeves, and a hat felt just fine. I am so lucky and so grateful and so frightened all at the same time. Thank goodness my children have been protected from the sun their whole lives. Take Care <3

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Today my daughter sat in the grass chatting on the phone with one of her homeschooling friends. Maybe she hung up? Maybe there was a lull in the conversation? I'm not sure. But she became aware of a buzzing noise and saw a hummingbird flying low and near over the grass. She watched as the tiny emerald bird appeared to headbutt a dandelion. She realized what it was actually doing just in time to see it fly away with a beak full of dandelion thistledown for its nest.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

They say: begin where you are. I saw one of the creepiest inanimate things I've ever seen, today.

We have decided to buy a second home, keeping the place we have to rent out. This is my grand plan. The bank has not signed off on it yet. I suppose its possible they won't see it all quite as grandly as I do. But they  might and I have always been willing to turn on a dime, or as in this case, a chicken.

My husband just accepted a job in a city much closer to where we live. This is a beautiful thing. He's never gotten a promotion, before, that didn't require us to move out of state. Moving out of state sucks up money, basically negating raises as you go. This time we don't have to move. The house were we live now was a super cheap good deal, a well priced starter home. We don't want to give it up.

But we do want a farm. So Dear Husband and I have been talking in circles for weeks. Do we keep the financially responsible home we have? Do we reach now, while we're still passably youngerish, for farm land? What is the best decision in terms of money, soul, and future plans? Its a difficult choice. Everyone KNOWS I want a place to put a cow. And this place is not that. But it is equally true (which is really saying something) that I want a mortgage paid. I do not want, and have never wanted, a fancy house--even attached to a farm. I want an owned house.

Last week animal control pulled into my driveway at 9 in the morning. As I hurried to meet the officer in my yard, rather than having them ring my doorbell and wake my children, I carefully noted that both of my dogs (perhaps miraculously) were sleeping innocently in their favorite inside spots. If animal control is showing up and my dogs are home, I can not imagine what is about to unfold. I figured the officer was lost.

Long story short, my chickens are not free to range in this neighborhood. They have to be penned on my property or will be considered a public nuisance. I was informed that, apparently for years, my chickens have been a nuisance to my neighbors. Wondering why it took anyone 5 years to complain, especially about something so fixable, I decided the answer is spiritual. The universe says it is time to buy a farm. That is the message I received in my pink flannel nightgown at dawn in my driveway speaking with a very nice young woman from animal control. She might as well have gotten out of her truck and said point blank: I have a message here for you from God. It is time to stop dithering. It is time to get to where you are supposed to be. To do what you're supposed to do.

Where is that? We're looking for the place. Today we saw the wrong place: a stupendously beautiful old farm built in 1902 with a perfect pasture for an affordable price. Unfortunately the house has been empty for at least 20 years. I was not willing to cross the front porch for fear of falling through. Yet, it is so beautiful and so affordable. We looked the whole property over knowing we couldn't buy it. I pulled open a tiny door in one of the back out-buildings. I gasped. I clapped my hands over my mouth. I called my husband.

I had been thinking, as I leaned in to peek around this tiny door, how charming, how like a place children would delight to play. I didn't see anything truly horrible. Yet what I saw creeped me to my depth. I was peering into an old abandoned curing house. I saw hams. Many many hams from many MANY years ago, hanging on old hooks in the gloom, desiccated beyond smell, basically all the way back to wax. They were the color of dust and shredded by vermin. The back wall and exactly what kinds and how much meat were not clearly visible.

I'm grown and worldly. I've seen a lot of stuff in a lot of places. My life so far has not been especially sheltered. Why was old meat left to hang through the ages, from a time forgotten, so disturbing? I think it was the waste. But it was also as if I'd come face to face with the farmer, himself. And his wife. And their life on that hill in that house at that time somehow melded to this time here. Who allows that kind of wealthy and beauty, that kind of grace and fecundity to rot abandoned?

I do not know. But I will do my best to nurture grace and beauty in gratitude and service. And I thank you, God, for our lives.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

I can't believe she is a teenager now! Happy Birthday my sweet brave intelligent beautiful young woman!
One of the most empowered, courageous, and loving mothering stories I've read in a long time. Enjoy:
"Why I Let My Adopted Preschoolers Nurse"  by Zoe Saint-Paul

I posted this article on facebook and my cousin Stephen "liked" it. A whole bunch of women liked it too, of course. And this one lone man. Who also happens to be Head of Public Health for a huge metropolitan hospital. I thanked him for his support, which was even braver because when I linked this article did so with some pro-abortion commentary. He wrote back saying he can't figure out why anyone still makes a big deal about nursing, or giving babies what they need on any level. He knew I breast fed my children, but couldn't remember how long. And his mention of that detail made me cry.

I mean, put my hands in my face and cry. Because I felt enormous pressure to wean my babies early. So one got weaned at a year and half. The next at two years. And I was considered sort of radical, nursing so long. But I lacked the mother wit of Zoe Saint-Paul. Would that I could go back, I would have nursed each of them, and in tandem if necessary, until they self weaned. Which is to say, generally and usually, somewhere between 4 and 6.

Pressure? I felt pressure? Moi? You bet. And my husband and my own mother could not have been more supportive. And I live in a liberal community. Which should say plenty about the pressure upon nursing mothers in our society.

Monday, May 6, 2013

“Seventeen, eh!" said Hagrid as he accepted a bucket-sized glass of wine from Fred.
"Six years to the day we met, Harry, d’yeh remember it?"
"Vaguely," said Harry, grinning up at him. "Didn’t you smash down the front door, give Dudley a pig’s tail, and tell me I was a wizard?" "I forge’ the details," Hagrid chortled.”
“It takes a long time to grow young.” -Pablo Picasso
“The older the fiddler, the sweeter the tune.”

Happy Birthday, my love. Everyday with you is yes and hope and love.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

                                                                                                                                                        Photo credit: Christy Croft
Homeschool Prom. Yeah, they had a good time, alright.