Special thanks to the University of Minnesota Extension office and the Farm Family of the Year committee. We are so humbled to receive the award from our amazing University that supports all levels of farms.
Our book Home School Farm was recently reviewed (see below) by the Old Schoolhouse Magazine. I am super excited about it. Whenever you write something you don’t know if what you intend to convey will actually be accurately received by the reader, but after reading the review I realized I did achieve my goals. It is a coincidence that the review came out at the same time as the physical copies of our book (previously it had only been available through electronic download). You can pick up copies of our book on our website or through our etsy shop.
This spring Unnah joined our family. Unfortunately we also had a subtraction in our family, when we lost Proeun’s brother in a sudden and tragic accident. Long story short it has been a crazy busy spring with a ton of conflicting emotions.
Finally last weekend we decided we needed to get out of the everyday craziness that had become our life and get away to one of our favorite spots–Duluth and the North Shore. We didn’t end up going very far up the north shore. In the morning we had chores, we a couple extras, like iron shots and iodine for a new litter of baby pigs and deworming goats–craziness I tell you. So we got a late start. But it doesn’t matter where in Duluth I go, I have a feeling when I am there that I don’t have anywhere else– a feeling of being absorbed by beauty and that beauty invites me to release pressure and just be.
It was just what we needed. Here are some pictures of our trip, I think everyone agreed it was a great start to a new year. We hope to have many more adventures this year.
This was a new area of Duluth for us–Park Point. Most of the shore is very rocky, but this man made beach was great. We especially loved the grasses.
Time for a little fishing.
Some of us weren’t so patient.
The whole family.
As a child I was all about Christmas, so much so that there just seemed to be a void after it. Now that I am an adult I still love Christmas. I love the build up, the home life, the good food, the songs and smells, the movies but I also love what comes after–the New Year. It is so exciting to plan and dream about a whole new year stretching ahead of you. We have decided to take a sabbatical from vegetable farming for the year and hope to travel a bit over the summer. Yellowstone is in our future. I also want to get more familiar with the animals–especially the sheep. I have always dreamed of having fiber animals and I am excited to explore this option more. I already have some projects I am working on and I will share them soon in a post.
I am also really excited about our new book Home School Farm. This was such a labor of love, both for me to celebrate the life we have built here, and for you to share tips and inspiration for finding your own simple, balanced life wherever you are at. It a chronological guide that just happens to start with January so if you are looking for ways to slow down and enjoy the seasons and connect with your family and the land this book is for you. Right now it is available as a ebook (it is also available as a Kindle edition) but we are taking preorders for print copies for $19.99.
I hope you have a very blessed New Year there are so many things to be excited about a new start. What are you planning on starting this year?
This year we lost my grandma. At 88 she was still a vital part of my life though she had been suffering from ill health for the past couple of years. I remember Christmas at grandma’s most. My favorite Christmas gift is still the very life like baby doll she gave me one year.
Once we moved to the farm I loved sharing what was going on around here with her and she even had some tips from when she grew up on the family farm.
One thing she taught me is Christmas is about family and homemade gifts are best. I normally got something crafted from her own hands or a book she thought I might like. I credit her for my love of simple, handmade things.
And so today we have been continuing that tradition. Now the girls are taking over. Something that is relatively new to me is my love of edible gifts. It is still handmade and such a joy to learn what my family and friends have been creating and eating over the year.
I didn’t have much time or energy this year for crafting, but Avril and Mavis have taken over. They decorated the house and wrapped the majority of the presents and today has been filled with last minute creating and planning. Can’t tell you yet what we have been working on but it has been busy in the best kind of way. And the snow is just starting to come down. Merry Christmas to all of you!
It has been a crazy fall. As the children get older their interests grow. We have limited the activities that they can participate in to one sport. They both chose basketball, which means that we are in the thick of basketball season right now. In addition we have had an unseasonably warm fall (until this week!) which means that we have kind of extended some of falls projects into winter.
And somehow through it all Christmas is upon us. Winter is normally my favorite time of the year. It is a time to settle in to home life. Crafts that I enjoy like knitting, sewing, crocheting, and cooking are well suited for the long evenings and nights of winter. But this year I am feeling abnormally busy. I had planned on letting knitting season pass me by then someone posted this article on facebook about how a new study finds that hand crafts help improve mental health including feelings of well being. If I am honest I have been more then a little stressed out this fall. A little relaxation and mental health activities would do me good.
So I decided I better start knitting.
A couple years ago I was at our local thrift store and saw some of my favorite yarn on sale. While not my favorite color I snapped it up as a deal. It has made its way into various projects over the year but I still had enough left over to make—-a baby blanket! Yes baby number 7 will be joining our family early next year. I have never made a blanket for my babies but it just seemed like the perfect project. I picked out this pattern. It is knitting up quick and fun and while the pattern looks complicated it is a repeating pattern so it doesn’t require a whole lot of concentration.
My knitting inspired Avril to make her own gifts for the baby. She went on Pinterest, found the pattern, yarn and needles and created these all by herself.
It is so fun that my children have shown an interest in handcrafts. I will definitely have to carve out some more time for all of us to work together on this. I am still planning Christmas gifts. One thing Proeun and I agree on is we don’t want to add more “stuff” to our home but I am finding some great kits for kids at Imagine Childhood (see link below).
I am also having great fun looking for inspiration at some of my favorite sites like Ravelry, Soule Mama and Purl Soho. I have been a long time subscriber of Taproot Magazine and a new copy just came in the mail. I have also discovered Making Magazine through them and have a copy coming in the mail soon.
Soon we will be receiving our yarn back from the shearings of our Lincoln Long Wool Sheep last year. I am super excited to get some roving and yarn from our own sheep. Now I am researching felting projects. There is simply too much fun to be had. I am feeling better already. Now I just need to find time to sew.
It is finally here! The book I have been working on for over 3 years is finally live and available for purchase. You can find more about it here. I first got the idea for my book as I was sharing our trials and triumphs here at the farm. It has been such a worthwhile and memorable journey that is far from over. I was surprised to run into people and hear feedback about our blog when I honestly had no idea how they had heard about us.
I am a book person. I love books and I have always dreamed of writing a book. Now I had an idea for a good book. So for the first year I just took notes about what we did each month of the year. What were our activities? and Where was our attention focused? Then the next year I started to flesh it out and continued to revise it for the next 2 years. I added pictures and more fun activities and had a wonderful time writing it. Now it is available for you to enjoy.
The book is divided in monthly sections with a brief introductory essay followed by 4-5 projects for the month. I also intersperse 6 longer essays throughout the book featuring topics like budgets, loss/death, passion, abundance, etc. It is a full color book with pictures taken by me on our farm.
We hope you will pop over to our site and check it out. It has tips for how to incorporate some of these ideas into your daily life whether or not you live on a farm. If you are passionate about seasonal, simple living then this book is for you. There are also guided questions if you would like to incorporate some of these projects into your daily life or homeschool. Thank-you for your support over the years.
This year we were one of the very grateful recipients of the Lakewinds Organic Field Fund (LOFF). This is one of the only grants available to farmers. Other co-ops have grants available to non-profits and organizations but it is so rare to find an opportunity geared to farmers. Jill Holter of the program was absolutely amazing! She understood where we were coming from as young farmers trying to set up systems with limited income.
Our passion is animals–it always has been, but they require a completely different set up then vegetables. But thanks to LOFF we were able to set up fencing for our animals that will provide them with a safe, healthy home where they can enjoy our land as well.
Check out the video of this years recipients at Lakewinds Organic Field Fund. We are the 2nd farm on the video.
This spring sheep joined our farm. Avril has been wanting sheep for awhile and I have wanted a fiber animal as well. Years ago we went to the Shepherd’s Harvest Festival and the Lincoln Longwool sheep caught my eye. So when we were ready to add sheep to our farm we searched high and low for our preferred sheep and 4 little (not so little) ewe lambs joined our farm. They are all January or early February lambs and when the weather started turning really warm they already had quite a coat on them.
We knew it was time to shear them, though finding someone to come out for 4 sheep proved a little difficult. We also enjoy doing things ourselves and so ordered a shearer and planned to do the job ourselves.
We were warned that the hardest part was not learning the proper strokes to produce a high quality fleece in one piece but the hardest part was controlling the sheep. We were not warned about how sharp even the electronic clippers were. I have wounds to match the sheep but I am actually glad to have such a ready reminder to be careful. I also have a great gauge as to how they should be healing up.
After fumbling through 2 sheep we asked a friend from 4H to come out and help. Jane does her own sheep though she does them standing up which is decidedly safer and more comfortable for everyone but doesn’t give the preferred one piece fleece. Oh well, we will learn. And the sheep are much more comfortable.
Bringing the sheep home. We thought they would be much smaller and since we were going a long distance we did not bring the trailer. So it was pretty crowded in our suburban. 4 sheep, 6 children and 2 adults. The sheep were the quietest.
Jane shearing. Notice how beautiful the under fleece is.
All done. Some of the shearing jobs were rougher then others. The sheep are not used to the process either.
I have sent the fleeces off the the mill. I wasn’t sure how usable they would be but they think we can at least get a sport weight yarn out of it. At the very least we should get some roving. I am very excited to see the finished product.
I love history. It was my love of history that brought me to my first job at www.historicfortsnelling.org. It was here that I learned to love natural fibers, wooden toys, and creating things. I am not survivalist by any stretch of the imagination, but I love challenging myself and I love creating things from home cooked meals to hand knit sweaters and hopefully soon furniture and other wooden items.
Camping and being outdoors is a bit of a new experience for me. I am still not completely sold on the whole experience but I do love the peace and quiet.
Recently an experience popped up. Rush City has been put on the map. Larry Roberts, a local man is currently on the History Channel’s reality TV show “Alone.” We watched the show and it is so cool to see the name of our city on the screen.
He is home now and wanted to share his love of the outdoors with his community and taught a basic survival skills class at the local High School. Originally Proeun and Two were going to go, but it was hay making time this weekend and Proeun needed to get the baling done, so I went with Two. It was such a cool experience!
We learned about the 5 C’s of Survival
2. Cutting Tool
5. Combustion Tool
He shared his favorites in each of these categories and showed how to combine cordage and cover to make a simple shelter.
One tip was to carve little toggles out of wood to more evenly spread out the pressure on the grommets from your cover.
Here Roberts shows a safer way to chop kindling–by keeping your hands away from the ax.
He demonstrated how to make char cloth to use with a flint and steel.
It was so fun to spend the afternoon learning with my boy. We are all excited to try some of this at home and continue learning. Many of the things that Larry taught in the class he demonstrates on youtube.