Tuesday, January 31, 2012


Today is butchering day for my neighbor's cow, Uncle Wiggly, who wandered into our yard one morning not long ago and also gave me my first and only cow kiss. Soon he'll be providing nourishment for my neighbors and their wonderful children, transformed by a skilled hand from a living, breathing creature to a freezerful of beef.
It is bittersweet, this knowing the life cycle of your food. Just yesterday we dined on one of my friend's rabbits (which was superb). It is nice to know when my food came from loving homes and lived life fully instead of living a life of cruelty and confinement as so many factory farmed animals do. I only wish I had the means from this moment forward to vow to know the names of all my food, so I can properly thank them for their sacrifice.
Godspeed Uncle Wiggly. Thank you for sharing your cowness with me during your short but happy stay here by the SemiFarm. You will be sorely missed.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Simple Living & Complex Thoughts

I am reading this book right now called Simple Prosperity by David Wann. It's about "finding real wealth in a sustainable lifestyle". It is fantastic and I'd highly recommend it to anyone, environmentalist or not, who seeks to have a more harmonious life. There are some fascinating looks at what really brings us happiness in life and what only makes us feel momentarily better.
I'm struggling with this a lot myself. You see, my medications for the bipolar disorder have helped tremendously with my depression, but at the same time often leave me feeling "flat" or incapable of seeing the unique ways in which life teaches us from moment to moment. I'm left with a feeling of nothing to say, though a lot of basic and important things happen around here on a regular basis. I spent today engaged in making laundry soap for my family- something visceral and real- and it made me happy for a moment that I was doing something so essential. But those moments have become fleeting and I feel like I am searching for simple things all the time. To compound my mental stress, I've begun having anxiety attacks at nearly the same time everyday, which feels both terrifying and bizarre.
I'm not sure anymore that my blog can be just about farming, just covering homesteading topics like making bread rise well and raising hens for eggs. I feel like somehow this ordeal has changed me, and I know it has and does affect the way I see the world around me and relate to it. No- this blog has become more about homesteading with a mental illness and all the challenges that entails. My everyday struggles just to get out of bed and lead this simpler life...seems somewhat impossible to separate the two facets of my life anymore.

So now I am struggling with this sense of forboding as I write this- unsure of how much to share here and what should remain just swimming around in my head.
I want so much for this blog to grow into a community of people who want a simpler life, of people who struggle with these challenges of mind, but don't feel I can do that without being honest- my best writing here was when I was purely myself without a filter.
Should I bravely go there again with my challenges homesteading as a bipolar woman who suffers from anxiety or should I just continue to tell only part of the story and relay only details related to country living? Hoping your comments will help me decide. Please leave them if you've read this and can relate or would simply like to be part of my community.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

GUEST POST: Life as Compost

Many times in our life we are dealt circumstances that aren’t what we would have liked to have happened. We get fired, lose a friend, or have a fight with a family member. Many times we write these experiences off as just negative things that happened to us, focusing on all the bad they brought into our lives without looking for a way to transform it into good. Beneath every challenging circumstance we might endure is a shred of light- an opportunity to learn something about the world around us or ourselves.
When I think of all the negative memories I harbor, I am often able to see how I grew as a person out of the challenges surrounding the negative event. Sometimes it takes years to see what the lesson was I was supposed to learn, but it is there none the less. It seems reminiscent to me of the idea of composting for your garden, when you heap piles of what would otherwise be waste together and in the end after a period of time and decomposition, the same waste turns into some of the most valuable garden soil fertilizer know to man. All this process of decay and time turn something we see at face value as worthless into a completely natural and necessary part of life.
Perhaps the challenges we face with our everyday negativities are in some way fodder for the compost of our soul. Each of these inconveniences or hardships might seem useless or unnecessary, but they in some way transform us over time into stronger, more resilient and more kind and caring individuals.
It is sometimes said that we aren’t able to understand how others truly feel about things until we ourselves have experienced them. Perhaps the “composting” of these unhappy moments allow us the perspective we need to be more cognizant of the feelings of those around us and to be more open to other viewpoints. Maybe these experiences teach us ways to overcome adversity by teaching us what did and didn’t work in a way we will remember and be able to recall for future use. Perhaps the pain of these circumstances isn’t futile at all, but just needs some time to transform into the miraculous gift we can recognize for what it truly is- nourishment for our very souls.
Perhaps then what we need to do in moments of difficulty is remember the kitchen scraps- the eggshells and coffee grounds that make up our garden compost and reflect on ways that this moment of pain can be transformative to us rather than a burden. I have a feeling changing our perceptions this way will help not only in the long term but also in the short term dealing with of the strife as well.

About the Author, C.S.Shride, Author of the Lucy Dakota series of YA fiction (http://lucydakota.com)
    C.S. Shride grew up in the western suburbs of Denver at the foot of the mountains. Like Lucy, she was a chubby, rejected girl during her middle-school years and surprisingly enough, she rarely, if ever, ventured forth into the nearby hills. Her pleasures were derived from armchair and bed-top adventures achieved while reading her favorite novels.
    Like Lucy, Shride’s life took a turn for the better when a group she was involved with in high school started introducing her to the mountains, rivers and wilderness areas of Colorado. At that time she discovered one of her lifelong passions, high-altitude trekking and mountaineering, which led to her first career as the owner of a multi-million-dollar adventure travel company. For the next 20 years, she would orchestrate, conduct and lead thousands of clients through the mountains of Nepal and the wildernesses of South America. She spoke to dozens of audiences each year on the joys and beauty of traveling to remote areas of the world. Although she is no longer an international climber and mountain guide, she continues to hike and explore mountains around the world.
    Shride’s love of learning and her sincere desire to share with and help youth led to her second career as a classroom teacher. Even though she had taught hundreds of people the art of backcountry travel and wilderness trekking through her business and volunteer activities with the Colorado Mountain Club, Shride returned to school for a master’s degree in education and began teaching in both public and private schools. She experienced tremendous satisfaction and joy in teaching children in the classroom setting. It was at that point, while conducting a creative writing class for her students, that she decided to write about Lucy’s adventures.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

A Tribute to Our WIld Winter Weather

A Kid at Christmas

Every day for the past several weeks I have been religiously checking my mailbox every day after work with the fervor reserved normally for children at Christmastime. Today it was there, tucked inside a dirty and tattered manila envelope- the package I'd been waiting for. I squealed, held it close to protect it from the rain than ran through the blustery winds into the garage to gather the rest of my things before I went in the house. It was here. Finally. It was here.
Once inside safe from the wind and the rain I gingerly opened the package after checking the postmark and return address label for Bow Tie Inc.- soaking in all the details of my first time I'd do this, the first time I'd hold in my hands the results of so many days work and so much stress. I tore away at the mustard colored paper and there it was in the upper right corner. My byline: start a fiber CSA. I was holding a pre-release copy of one of my favorite magazines and it it in full color in the center of the magazine were several pages of something I gave birth to, an article about starting and marketing a fiber CSA.
There's nothing like that feeling of seeing your words in glossy print inside a national magazine. I'm swelling with pride and can't wait to show it off to everyone I know. My baby is here, it's arrived and I want to shout it from the rooftops. I did it. I'm a feature article writer for a national niche magazine. It may not be on newstands yet, but will be soon, and people all over the country can see the name of my blog, right there in black and white. I'm in love. I can't wait to do it again.
I'd love for this blog to eventually grow to be a community, to be like my mentor Jenna Woginrich's blog, Cold Antler, where my readers engage in conversations with me about the things I write about. I want this to be a breathing, living extension of my life, something that sees me at the end of each day reflecting over this homesteading life and touching the lives of people around the world. You can help me grow and evolve.
My next endeavor will be to pitch my other favorite magazine, Mother Earth News to write and article for them about a subject I'm unsure of yet. If you have suggestions for something you'd like to read, please shout it out in the comments. I'd love to hear from you. And, as soon as it hits newstands, I'll tell you the name of the magazine so you can pick up a copy.
Blessings to you and your families tonight. Hope everyone is warm, safe and  happy.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Baby It's Cold Outside

Spent the last two days here at the SemiFarm being pelted with the white stuff. To quote one of my customers from work it's "colder than a well digger's ass" out there. (Anyone ever heard that? It was new to me. How cold is that exactly?)
Yesterday I called off from work after spending an hour behind the wheel and not even making it to the nearest town. The roads were all snow covered but what was troublesome was that that snow was layered over ice, which made for some pretty treacherous driving, even with my four wheel drive truck. So, I sat home with my daughter, enjoyed a little quiet time and fell asleep at the end of the day looking over my Randall Burkey catalog that came in the mail. I woke up with the crumpled magazine tangled in my bed covers so my husband didn't even notice what I was lusting over when sleep overcame me as he came to bed.
Since then we've been mostly hunkered down in the homestead, waiting for the lake effect snow to taper off and to plow the driveway a final time when it's time to pick our daughter up from her sleepover at a friend's house. Other than that we've just been enjoying some time to catch up on homesteading chores, and I've rearranged the bedroom to give me some new scenery to look at.
This weekend will likely find me making another batch of homemade laundry soap and perhaps some bread for the upcoming week, then off to visit my chicken friend at her farm on Monday weather permitting.
The dogs and cats are all being lazy as well, finding cozy warm places to sleep near the heaters or freshly folded laundry as we endure some pretty chilly temperatures with winds bringing the temps to where they feel below freezing.
Hope your weekend is filled with warm happy moments with the ones you love.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Getting My Homesteading On

These last few months as I transitioned to a M-F 9-5 sort of job I haven't written much. Much of what I had to say was kind of drowned out by how I was feeling as I adjusted to a few new things- there was a lot of instances where I knew I needed to change my mindset and was having a hard time doing so, especially about my job. Now that I have, things are flowing more easily again and I am trying to reconnect with the homesteading I love so much in some way while I still am waiting to add chickens in the spring. There's just not much happening around the SemiFarm in the winter, you see, not much to write about. There's no vegetable garden, no cold frames, it's too early to start really dreaming about seedlings, and I have been so in a funk in my writing there hasn't been much to tell in that respect either.
So here I am devouring homesteading books. I've already read Jenna Woginrich's Barnheart.which I will say has quickly become one of my favorites- I am so glad I bought it. I commiserate with Jenna on a number of things but mostly it helped me remember how different we are as people in our live experiences and how much I treasure that. I love her words and how they flow from the paper just like a conversation- something I only hope I can do here on my blog.
I am also reading Joel Salatin's "Folks, This Ain't Normal" which is very eye opening about our relationship to food and the natural world around us. Joel's writing style is different than most books in that his also reads like a conversation or lecture but is non-fiction. Took me a while to adjust to it but I just adore it.Great book- highly recommended and will probably get passed among my friends for quite some time.
Other than reading I have begun baking bread from scratch again. I found a wonderful recipe for a honey oat loaf here and with some modifications (quick oats cuz I'm a bit impatient) turned out a very good product my new boss and co-worker were much impressed with.
I'm looking to join a CSA perhaps this spring for meat if I can find one. My article on fiber farm CSAs should be out soon in a national magazine- see if you can spot it! I also have more magazines to query as I learn to balance my writing life and this new work schedule. Hopefully 2012 will be full of new beginnings here.
What I have learned most through all the past few months is that it never feels good to put on airs. Just be yourself and follow your heart in everything you do- genuine and true. Trying to impress others, while important, should never be your primary goal or you will fail and hard and exhaust yourself at the same time. It's something you can't control that is best to let go of- just by being the best you you can be. That has to be enough.
My homestead isn't really ready yet. Not much goes on here right at the moment worth sharing, but we're growing and evolving every day as I figure out who I am and how to cope with how I feel about the world around me. We're a scrappy bunch us Hunters but we do the best we can with what we have and that's all we can do. I'm a damn good me. How good are you at being you? Do you hide behind personas at work than you do at home or are you genuine all the time? How do you balance the two worlds?