Wednesday, October 29, 2014

I didn't learn to chop wood until we moved to our first homestead five years ago and lived on wood heat. I was terrified to swing a sharp axe at (what seemed like) a tiny log and hope that I aimed right and not at my knees or feet. It took many days of whimpy pounds with lots of little nicks on the surface of the wood until the day I managed to bring the axe over my head, bring the top hand down to meet  the other and slice in half the wood. 
As we go deeper into fall comes a bit of anxiety that all the projects need to get done before the snow arrives and I can easily feel immobile on these days for lack of not knowing what to tackle first. I'm starting to learn that the power of chopping some kindling eases that anxiety and sets me back on track. It's especially settling and sweet because Lars loves to chop wood as much as the next woodsman and has his own (wooden) axe to help mama and papa on those restless days.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Autumn Ride

Thanks to our friendly neighbors, we are finding out what there is to do around here, which is how we discovered a beautiful train ride along the Pend Oreille river. In a completely, off-the-beaten-path town called Ione, is an old train and tracks that has been re-established as a tour train. This particular day was meant for little one to dress up and had a Halloween theme. We spent a lazy few hours watching the mountains full of yellow tamarack and old homesteads pass by. My mom came equipped with blankets and snacks and we huddled together to enjoy this family outing.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Sacred Sunday

A day of rest, family, connection, friends and relishing in the sweetness of life

Friday, October 24, 2014

Spring Flowers

In a moment of feeling decadent I ordered over a hundred tulip and daffodil bulbs to plant around our home and land for next spring. The one thing I miss dearly is a garden (to be planted in the spring) and the assurance of perennial herbs and flowers with warmer days. So, taking a look into the new growing season, I knew that some vibrant flowers would be much appreciated after a long Idaho winter. It's a plant that I'm pretty sure a moose or deer can't nibble on or destroy before our orchard and garden fencing is complete. Having studied and practiced permaculture principles for quite some time, I'm not sure how flowers for flowers sake fit into the the whole regenerative cycle. However, I do know that brightly colored beauty is much appreciated after the dull ochres and grays of the winter season. I'm hoping to forget some of the far off places Lars and I planted these bulbs and be surprised come March and April. Until then, we'll continue the process of nestling into the cabin and finishing up the final outdoor projects. 

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

My Husband the Hide Tanner

I use the term "modern homesteading" on the title of my blog for many reasons; one being that we don't live primarily live off the land. We have jobs to supplement our homestead harvest, or at least we did. Now, moving to a new state we find ourselves starting from scratch, so to speak. Observing the rural culture here in North Idaho it has become clear that hunting is the main attraction of the fall. So Shaun, being the industrious jack-of-all-trades that he is, has decided to start a custom hide tanning business. It will start small but will hopefully provide a profit some day and also nourish the incessant desire he has to tan hides.

It's hard to believe a person could enjoy the process of scraping rotting fleshy pieces from the skin and submitting to the awful smells that accompany opening the buckets as they are "tanning". But this is Shaun's passion and a significant one for our culture as we slip ever further away from connecting to the abundance that animals provide us. Countless hunters leave the hides from their hunt in the forest or drop it in a road ditch to rot. To see a finished hide, smell the strong smoke emanating from it, touching the soft leather, it's no wonder that our ancestors used this fabric for daily living for millions of years. And continued to do so until fairly recently, in the scheme of human existence.

Shown above are a few pieces of Shaun's art and functional clothing. Moccasins, a dewclaw deer bag, raccoon hat, traditionally stored beaver hide, more deer, elk…This is just skimming the surface of what he has created. Wish this venture luck!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Cozy Breakfast

Waking up this morning to a hazy, foggy morning, a cold cabin, and a leak in the roof that needs to be fixed ASAP (hence the ladder), called for a cozy breakfast. Something to get me going since coffee just never does it. 
I cook A LOT with plantains as the primary starch in our baked goods. Thanks to Paleo Mom and her recipes, my breakfasts have been evolved from the oh-so-common eggs and bacon to more variety. We don't tend to eat too many grains in our family, so the choices can feel limited. This morning, I played a bit with a recipe of Paleo Mom's plantain fritters and here's what I came up with...


Two green plantains (although ripe ones would be fine too)
4 small apples peeled and cored (or 2 larger sized apples)
2 eggs
2 tsps of cinnamon

 1. I shredded the apples with a grater after peeling and coring them.

2. Then, I took the skin off the plantains, cut them into smaller sections and mixed them with the eggs in a blender until the texture was smooth.

3. Adding all ingredients together, including cinnamon, I used copious amounts of coconut oil to oil the pan and let the magic happen!

4. I topped the cooked pancake fritters with maple syrup and added a side of pork sausage- the perfect cozy breakfast!

I guess the meal doesn't look as wonderful as it tasted….but you get the idea...

 This is a paleo-friendly recipe and for those with gluten, dairy or nut intolerances and doesn't taste like a substitute for a "bread-y" treat.

Monday, October 20, 2014


I'm not sure my birthday weekend could have been any better and it's not even my birthday yet! It's tomorrow…My husband said I could have the weekend to form my birthday plans and I oscillated between laying in bed watching some new TV series on Netflix while knitting or doing something creative and new. I'm familiar with women's retreat's with various themes, but a "spin-in" was a new concept that was passed on to me last week at a yarn store I was visiting. In this case, over a hundred women (and a few men, I should say) traveled from all over to stay at the Bear Paw Camp in Pend Oreille, ID for a weekend of spinning, knitting, looming (is that an verb?), eating, and caressing a lot of soft roving.   It really was a lovely sight to behold: a dozen or so circles of women with their fiber arts within a larger circle of vendors selling yarn, roving and other beautiful crafts. Being new to the community and also never having been to a spin-in, I was a bit of unsure of where to start, but a group of women motioned me to take an empty seat near them and settle in. It was great. Sitting there with nothing else to do in the world but spin my roving into yarn, learn a great new plying trick, and gawk at the multitude of unique wheels and colors spinning round and round. 


Sunday, October 19, 2014

Sacred Sunday

                       A day of rest, family, connection, friends and relishing in the sweetness of life

Monday, October 13, 2014

Buggy to Coop: Part I

I love craigslist! If I cultivate patience, I always seem to get the best possible materials for farm projects (and meet the nicest people), which is what this decrepit horse buggy is; my ideal foundation for the (hopefully) ideal chicken coop.
In the past six years, we have built, what seems like, every conceivable chicken coop model out there. Chicken coop with run, chicken A-frame tractor, chicken tractor with wheels, moveable hoop house, ect. For one reason or another, they didn't function as the ideal coop. We are hoping to create something that:

1. Keeps predators out, including those that tunnel and unlatch doors
2. Easy to clean
3. Relatively easy to catch chickens while they roost for wing-clipping and the occasional stew
4. Transportable over large plot of terrain
5. Pleasing to the eye

I stripped it down and Shaun helped me to remove the rusty lag bolts in order to replace the tires with some smaller ones. The frame will be amazingly sturdy which we hope to house 20+ chickens once this is built. So here we are- a blank slate and many ideas on little pieces of paper floating around the house and garage. Tomorrow, the floor will be added, painted for longevity and then the sky's the limit! Stay tuned...

Being With Fall

Thanks to a neighbor, we have recently discovered hundreds of acres of state land a few minutes from our front door. With it being such a short bike ride and even shorter car trip, I've been trying to get away from home every other day for a fall walk with Lars. Although summer is always busy at the homestead, it seems like the October To-Do List accelerates into hyper mode with all of the last minute projects: getting enough hay, storing food, burn piles to burn... The tasks feel endless, but this year I'm not going to miss out on our first fall in Idaho. There is something really refreshing about leaving home to open and quiet land. It centers me and reminds me that slowing down is possible amidst the flurry of trying to get all the fall projects done. It's simple really. Grab some water and head out the door, a sweater for Lars maybe…if I consider all the things I might need or how to fit it into a trip to the library and working around nap time- agh! It becomes just one more task to complete. So, one of my many "works in progress" is to take the time to revel in the yellow aspens against the blue, blue skies, take notice of the scantily-leafed trees becoming more bare by the hour and take early morning inhales of the crisp fall air.  

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Sacred Sunday

                    A day of rest, family, connection, friends, and relishing in the sweetness of life

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Camping Trip

For Shaun's birthday, he wanted to go on a camping trip. Not just any camping trip though…a gathering of sorts, called a "knap-in". Knap as in flint-knapping. A paleolithic method in which to make stone tools for hunting to chopping down trees to everything in between. The knap-in was hosted by a non-profit group called Bridges to the Past. On their website they describe their mission as:

Before meeting Shaun years ago, I wasn't really aware of people still practicing ancient ancestral skills. There is a thriving sub-culture of people who do just this and in style. There are multiple gatherings throughout the year to learn, teach and observe how our ancestors crafted a life without the use of modern conveniences. They are a lot of fun to attend- fires and music at night, lots of interesting people,   lots of shared food (usually grown or hunted by the attendees) and a chance to try out some ancient methods of crafting.
Set up at this gathering were targets to practice shooting an atlatl, an ancient spear-thrower, made by some of the folk attending. I got to try my hand at it after a brief lesson. It's not as easy as it looks...

Apparently, our ancestors from long ago used to take down mastodons with these arrows!!

 Some of the flint-knapping in progress...

 Some amazing final products.

 The scene and how it's done…

I think this is called percussion knapping- using a stone (or antler) to flake off a piece of obsidian. Again and again and again. The flakes come off, quick mental measurements are made of where to strike and the end product is (usually) a completely functional tool, if the piece doesn't shatter from a miscalculation. 

Lars was definitely not allowed in the knapping pit.

And Dad got some much needed free time to knap with friends and sharpen his tools…I'm not sure that's how I'd like to spend my birthday…but to every man his own.

Chilly morning but Lars got to try hot chocolate for the first time and work on his own projects. It was a great trip and we look forward to a similar type of gathering next June, called Between The Rivers. Be there or be square!