Community

Tonight Trevor and I were talking about what we want our new –and as of yet, undiscovered– homestead/farm to be like. Not just about which animals we want to delve into first, but about the community we want to contribute to. We are lucky enough to have a wonderful food co-op in our town that really supports and encourages local farmers; big, small, and teeny. (Hi Arleen!) They are a huge inspiration to us and so effortlessly prove that this life path is not a competition. One of my favorite aspects of this growing community of like-minded people, is that everyone is willing and happy to share information and experiences. This is how I have come to learn to make sauerkraut, make fermented salsas, make cheese, take and share both water kefir and kombucha, and have also learned to milk goats. Having a real community is amazing.

I never knew what “community” felt like until I joined this little hole-in-the-wall food cooperative. And now, I have been able to watch the local food co-op grow in size and in heart. Every single person there is helpful and encouraging. It is this attitude that makes us want to pay it forward. We may not be able to teach what we do not know or have not mastered yet, but at this new farm, we also want to encourage and inspire others to do more.

• It may take a year or two to get tours up and running again, but in the meantime, Trevor and I want to do mini-workshops at our new place. Ideally, projects we will already need to tackle to expand our new farm.
• We want to start weekly drop-in game nights. We have recently re-discovered how fun board games are and want to share some good ol’ fashioned fun with some fairly unknown board games and card games. No Monopoly or Uno here folks!
• I would like to encourage people to come out for a “day in the life” kind of thing where they can get hands on experience with the livestock and garden. Nothing has taught me more than actually getting my hands dirty with a new project.
• It would also be great to start an annual seed and plant sale. Profits from selling plant starts from our (hopefully gigantic) greenhouse would be donated to promote the arts in our local schools. If there is one thing that is suffering in the public school system in America, it is definitely visual and performing arts. Being a ceramics teacher, I cannot overlook such a thing especially since only one elementary school in our county has an actual art class anymore.
• Another thing I’d like to do is start a pick-your-own plot of flowers.

What kinds of things does your community do to inspire you?

Handmade Gifts for the Holiday Homestead :: charcoal collection

It’s about time I run a series of themed posts around here. Since we are coming up on the gift-giving holidays quickly, now is the perfect time to introduce such a series. Every Friday, I will host a collection of my favorite handmade homestead items from various Etsy shops. This year when shopping for the holidays, shop handmade!

If you are not familiar with the website, Etsy is an online marketplace that features only handmade and vintage items from around the world. It is a great way to support artisans and craftsman and their home businesses and hobbies. “Shops” can be searched by category or even location, so if you rather support artisans from your state, you can! It is a wonderful concept in an age of growing commercialism and mass-production. Let’s support the artists of the world! If you are interested in perusing our own shop, go to: www.LittleFarmShop.Etsy.com

Do you have a handmade item you would like featured? Let us know at: fmicrofarm@gmail.com! Stop by next Friday for another Handmade Gifts for the Holiday Homestead.

Handmade Gifts for the Holiday Homestead :: charcoal collection

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Left: Midnight Clear Goat Milk Soap with charcoal and sea salt by TheNorthwoodsGoat; Right: Black Rutilated Quarts Earrings by aubepine

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Left: Karakul Wool Sheepskin Rug by rawhiderosestore; Right: Felted Mittens Alpaca by elijana

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Left: Handmade Beanie Silver gray with black sheep by Lillyloudesigns; Right: Black and White Photography of a White Hen Dutch Inspired Still Life Photograph by lucysnowephotography

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Left: 84 yds CHARCOAL BARK Alpaca and Navajo Wool Handspun Yarn, No Dye by WovenWoodsGoods; Right: Honey Bee : 2 Archival Prints of Charcoal Drawings – 5×7 – Featured in West Elm by wildpulp

Working Towards Your Dreams

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I’m sure many people before me have said it more eloquently, but a dream is simply a goal that you are still working towards. Just because you have an outrageous wish or aspiration, doesn’t mean that you are unlikely to reach it. For some reason, we are raised to regard dreams as unattainable and childish. Dreams are sometimes even thought of as keeping us from happiness because we are too focused on something that “will never happen”. A thought, a wish, a hope are all the first steps in true happiness. Does happiness need to be a final destination? No. What would be the point of life at all then? I am no philosopher or great guru or even the happiest person on earth, but I have discovered how to get to that blissful moment. We’ve all had it at one point or another. Maybe it was a first kiss, or falling in love, or your child being born, or finally getting that hard-earned degree. It might have even been the last bite of delectable meal. Who am I to say what your moment of bliss has been in the past. Jeez… I just hope you’ve had more than one!

I think the biggest downfall of Western society may be that we believe there to be only one defining moment in our lives. Why is it always about “the” defining moment? Where’s the rule that days we can’t have 1,000? I can name at least two dozen defining moments in my life right off the top of my head and I am but a measly twenty-seven years young. My recent piece of bliss was sitting in a cramped shed on a cold morning milking a goat named Nanny. It was the smell, the thought, the fairytale and the dream of it all passing along slowly right in front of me. In that one moment, I was at my happiest, sincerely and truly. I have had many moments like that and I hope to have many more in my life.

People from all over the country, and sometimes even internationally, email me asking what that moment was that made me decide that I wanted to start my own backyard farm. My answer is always the same: “I don’t know”. I don’t even know that there was one! At the time, I didn’t feel any different, there was no big life event that focused my thoughts, nothing like that. I was simply following my heart.

Sorry folks… no sob story here. I had a perfectly normal and functional childhood. I went to good schools in the city. I went to college and hated it. I worked in retail. I moved out and got my own apartment, got married, had a kid. I am about as run-of-the-mill as a middle-class white girl gets! One day I decided I wanted fresh eggs and coaxed my landlord into letting me keep a few hens on the property. Then I wanted wool because, hey!– learning to spin my own yarn sounded groovy. Sheep would never fit on a tiny rented lot so with a little research I found angora rabbits. The rest is history, but the point is that dreams don’t come in large or small. We shouldn’t think of them that way.

If you start to think of a dream as “big”, then where is the motivation or confidence to achieve it? Stop having big dreams! Just have dreams and journeys to achieve them. If you want a farm, go get one darn it! What the heck are you reading this for? You should be researching and planning and asking around for ideas or help in getting to where you want to go. Nothing is impossible. Nothing. Einstein proved that we do not live in a clockwork universe. Just because trees are right side up and the sky is blue today, does not mean they will be tomorrow. This isn’t just a matter of ‘live like there is no tomorrow’, this is about getting out there and doing something. Don’t give me that “oh, I have no room for a garden” hogwash. Ask a friend to use their yard, find a community garden, build your own community garden! Get out there and do what you want.

Dreams are not for the faint of heart. Dreams are not for the weak. Dreams are for the people who will make the universe what they want it to be with their willpower alone. Put your big girl panties on and buy a damn goat.

This is what a good mail day looks like…

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I just received my copy of Raising Goats Naturally by Deborah Niemann. I can’t wait to dive into this one because, not only do I want to find a less-commercial method of caring for my future goats, but also because I have been hearing so many good things about this book. It certainly doesn’t hurt that it has a Mother Earth News Recommendation seal and a review from Joel Salatin on it. As soon as I’m done with it, I’ll write a review for you other folks out there that haven’t seen it yet.

I also got my custom made Star Trek beanie. That’s right. People out there make Star Trek beanies. It’s awesome and I am totally wearing it right now. It’s not pictured here, but I should also note that I got my latest issue of GRIT magazine featuring an article all about growing heirloom pumpkins. If we find a house by pumpkin planting time next year, I am saving enough pumpkin seeds to plant a mighty respectful pumpkin patch. Mmmm…. pumpkins.

Meet Hänsel!

So… we bought a dog yesterday. We had been looking for the right dog for our family at shelters, breeders, and rescues for about a month. We were looking into English Shepherds, Bernese Mountain Dogs, and German Shepherds. Yesterday we spotted our newest family member on Craigslist, of all places. I am usually not a big lover of Craigslist, but I figured it was worth a look-see. And what do ya know, on the second listing there he was– a beautiful purebred German Shepherd.

He was actually listed with a few littermates, but when we called the owner, he informed us that the dark male was all that was left. Perfect! We sped down to Modesto (about an hour away) to see him. The family was very nice and we were able to see the puppies’ parents. The father dog was a purebred solid white and his mother dog was a purebred, black and tan, ex-police dog. Both were very gentle, friendly, followed commands, and looked clean and healthy. What more could we ask for? We got his vaccination papers and brought the little guy home right after a quick stop by the pet store for a crate and supplies.

Meet Hänsel! Our 11-week old, male, tri-colored, purebred German Shepherd beauty. He is going to be a lot of work to train, but I can already see that he is going to be a great family companion.

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