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I Hoard Life

It’s been several years now since I started this process of clearing out.  With a house and farm full of maybe-I’ll-use-someday’s and this-has-been-in-the-family-forever’s, we had the most radical (for me) experience of freeing us from the bondage of STUFF.  We sold things.  We gave things away.  We all but stopped our thrift store shopping-for-a-good-deal.

A good deal is not a good deal if you don’t need it and won’t use it.

When we moved a year ago (can you believe it’s been a year?!  Yet it feels like decades in some ways…), we realized we still had too much stuff.  The move was manageable, but there was still more than plenty.

Last summer our finances were tight.  Scott’s total hospital visit cost just over a million dollars but thankfully our deductible was quite manageable.  Our church and family blessed us with financial gifts.  We hosted garage sales with donated items.  Scott’s co-workers were very generous.

We carried two house payments until the old farm sold, but we didn’t spend much otherwise.  We stayed home a lot.  My Dad and Chris practically lived here for 4 months, and paid for more than they should have – including a new engine for our Suburban when it went out.

I still can’t get over how financially straining it was even with the massive amounts of help.

In February, 9 months after it all began, we officially realized we are on the other side.  We both agreed that we were “back to normal” with our regular financial inflow and outflow.  What sweet relief!  We are still very cautious with spending, which will benefit us in the long run, I’m sure.

This minimizing has continued even still, and now branched into more areas of our life, beyond physical STUFF:

  • We bought a tiny house to learn with & ponder; paid cash with swapping out other things
  • I spent a month getting rid of two things each day on social media (group, page, friends)
  • I’ve compiled all of my tiny notes scattered everywhere to a single notebook
  • We’re limiting our farming activities – maybe the most difficult exercise in self control this year
  • We’ve let go of several weekly commitments to focus on home & hospitality
  • And we finish a project before we start a new one – something we used to not do well

Anything distracting from a life with eternal purpose is up for grabs.  Which is everything, isn’t it?

<3 more time with our family <3

It may not be The American Dream, but it sure is THIS American’s dream.

Ten years ago I would have never imagined I’d be okay with this.  I’d also have never believed the mental clarify that it has brought.  I used to scoff at people who were “so cold” that they didn’t cling to certain things (like family heirlooms, etc).  Funny how time, experiences, and a bit of a nudge will change a person so completely.

Then it hit me. Continue Reading »

This ridiculously contagious 12 hour nasty flu-like bug that has hit the town of Woodland got us this week. Thankfully only the smallest two went down, and with no symptoms for days, we’ve decided to load up on this “medicine” recipe this sunny afternoon anyway…

Everyone should medicate in such delicious ways.

Enjoy the sunshine! I’d invite you over… But you may leave vomiting. And not because the food was nasty necessarily. That’d be unfortunate and possibly detrimental to your weekend plans.

Lemon Nettle Cupcakes

  • 1 goose egg, or 3 chicken eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 1/2 cup sugar of choice
  • 1/2 cup pureed stinging nettles (carefully collect, wash, steam if desired, and puree)
  • handful of lemon balm, pureed
  • 3/4 cup oil of choice (I would be tempted to use coconut next time)
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 cup flour
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 350f.  Cream egg, vanilla and sugar together.  Add remaining liquid ingredients.  Add dry ingredients slowly, mixing completely.  Scoop into tins and bake 22-28 minutes.

Top with:

Lemon Buttercream Frosting

  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup sheep (or goat) cheese, mascarpone, or cream cheese at room temperature
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • zest of lemon

Whip butter and cheese until light and fluffy.  Add sugar, then remaining ingredients, beating until smooth.

You know you’ve heard of these people, right? The ones who save up enough cash to buy their house debt-free?  Despite our lack of specific conviction against home mortgages, we just paid cash for our house.  Crazy, right?

Not only did we pay cash, but it only took us a six months to save for it!

How did we do this, you ask?

  • Well, we worked long and hard.
  • We sold excess things we didn’t need.
  • We purposefully set money aside for this venture.
  • We researched and watched the markets.

Then the right one rolled along.  The first one that Scott was fully onboard with, enjoying being in the drivers seat of this purchase.

Meet yet-to-be-named (currently Mack’s Landing Skool Dist), our new tiny house.

our skool house

our skool house

She came in significantly under budget, leaving us room to be creative and make her our own.  Until then, she’s fully functioning, equipped with all we need and more.

Are we moving or going gypsy, you ask?  Nope.  She’s an investment project and creative opportunity.  A goal we set for 2015 to work on a tiny house as a family.  While finding an excellent deal, we could potentially recoup what we’ve put into her (and significantly more), but for now we want to keep it as a home-away-from-home; an art studio or school room.  We may explore a bit in it.  We may rent it out to the tourists on weekends.  Host a farm apprentice.  House friends or family…  We’re pretty open.

room for everyone

room for everyone

…and there we thought we got away from a mobile home

Slow Food SW WA was so generous to sponsor my attendance to the Nutritional Therapy Association’s 8th annual conference, this year held in Vancouver at the Hilton.  The line up was spectacular.  Altho’ I only attended the full day of Friday, I got to hear from Liz Lipiski, sharing The New Frontier Inside Us: The Human Microbiome.  If you’re not familiar with her, she’s pretty dynamic and well versed on all things digestion.  She’s written several awesome books, and is worth checking out!

A great trade show with literary resources you don't find just everywhere!

A great trade show with literary resources you don’t find just everywhere!

Next up was David Murphy, founder of Food Democracy NOW!  He was, as always, awesome.  Really inspiring and motivating about why would should actively involve ourselves in politics to shape our country, even when we feel discouraged.  Raised in a conservative evangelical family, he’s gone from R to D to “anti-corporate politicians”.  I think we stand on similar turfs.  My favorite line of his: “We can’t afford to be cynical or depressed.”

After Mr. Murphy, Damian Magista, founder of Bee Local, shared how his business began with a neighbor saying: “Hey, want a beehive in your urban backyard?” to planting neighborhood hives all over within (and on top!) of the city of Portland.  Each hive producing small amounts of absolutely extraordinary honey, each with its own terroir.  Each supporting sustainable, healthy beekeeping practices.  No hive chemicals.  No ‘colony collapse’.  As local as it gets.

Camas Davis, founder of the Portland Meat Collective brought to the table (pun intended) her desire for all eaters to have a better understanding of food.  They offer classes of slaughtering, butchering / breaking down animals, and further processing meat.  She also offers an eater-to-farmer connection for her students and members.  Pretty cool stuff.

a place where boiling feet or heads or knuckles isn't far fetched

a place where boiling feet or heads or knuckles isn’t far fetched

We took a lunch break.  I took a nice walk, and landed myself in a quiet nook of Tigers Garden, a thai restaurant just north of Esther Short Park.  With the main room full of up bustling lunch-goers, the waitress was so kind to let me find a nook in the closed backside of their place to quietly focus on getting some work done while I ate.

picked up a new copy of "Folks, This Ain't Right"

picked up a new copy of “Folks, This Ain’t Right”

Returning to the conference, I was ready for the next speaker.  One of my favorites, and who we have a long history with.  One who started out (and continues to be!) one of my farm heroes, he became a friend during our 2005 issues with farm agencies.  Joel Salatin, owner of Polyface Farm in Virginia, had the audience in stitches.  His humor and straight-forwardness are always refreshing and invigorating.  His speech titled Heretics Unite! He debunked many of the orthodoxies of today:

  1. Nature is broken and needs fixed.
  2. Home kitchens are unnecessary.
  3. The U.S. has a divine dispensation that makes us immune to collapse.
  4. Rebels are great everywhere but the U.S.
  5. All problems must be solved at the federal level.

One particular thing that Mr. Salatin said that I found thought provoking was that students who apprentice at his farm who begin their own entrepreneurship solo end up quitting the farm business after 4-ish years (we know many farm businesses that this is true of!).  He shared his theory of the slump that occurs when the romance wears off, the hard work callousing the hands and the heart.  He encouraged folks to push through, for soon you’ll realize and find a richer, long-term fulfillment.  I completely understood and agreed whole-heartedly.

in reference to making it through all we did farmwise in 2005, he penned: thanks for still being around.

in reference to making it through all we did farm-wise in 2005, he penned: thanks for still being around.  it’s good to be a farmer with folks in an industry like this.

“May we all make our nest better than we inherited.” – Joel Salatin

Thank you Slow Food for the excellent opportunity!

 

Scott just asked if we were eating elk droppings for dinner.

trying something new

trying something new

It’s gnudi made out of ricotta and nettle in a sauce of wine jelly and fresh squeezed orange & rosemary. D.I.V.I.N.E.  Gnudi = noodle-esque (gnocchi ‘s cousin).

It definitely looks more like healthy, grassfed fertilizer. The kids are cracking up that Mom’s “gourmet” dinner is more like manure. Win-win for all.  Recipe below.

Kendra and I put on our gloves and went to the task of filling two gallon-sized buckets with spring nettles.  We steamed them down, ending up with 3+ cups of drained (squeezed) nettle.  Then we went to task making dinner, using a bit of our loot, vacuum bagging the rest for the freezer for later.

Nettle Gnudi

  • 1 cup steamed nettles (spinach, or other green), squeezed dry
  • 1 cup ricotta cheese (make your own, below!)
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • garlic (1 clove, or a dash powdered)
  • flour

for sauce:

  • 2 T. butter
  • fresh herb (I used rosemary)
  • 4 T. white wine (I used Garden Delight’s Herbs de Provence Wine Jelly)
  • half an orange

Send first five ingredients through a food processor.  Then move to your bowl and add flour bit by bit, until a nice kneaded dough.  I used about a cup and a half.  Hand form small nuggets and set aside*.  To cook, drop nuggets into boiling water and remove once they float to the top.

In separate pan, melt butter with fresh herb of choice, then add wine and squeeze a half of an orange into your pan.

Once your gnudi are cooked and floating in your boiling water, use a slotted spoon and move to your butter sauce pan.  Simmer in sauce until all of your gnudi are well coated.  We served alongside roasted turkey.

Ricotta

  • 1 gallon of milk
  • vinegar or lemon juice – a large splash

Heat your milk (traditional ricotta is actually made with whey-only, but we use milk to get more yield) to 170f.  I never use a thermometer.  I just heat it to piping hot without scalding.  Then pour in a slosh or two of lemon juice or vinegar and stir.  It will separately immediately.

Line a colander with cheesecloth, pour the pot contents in (save your whey for other uses!), and rinse with cold water.  Voila!  It’s ready for use!  Add cream if you want your curds creamier.

*even the little guy was all over helping with this.

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photo courtesy of Biana Benson

I was hesitant to start this series, but realized rather swiftly that it was not only important, but crucial.

As Clark County has a looming deadline of April 30th to complete their assessment of their Comprehension Plan (schedule here), they are considering some rather concerning options in regard to splitting up farmland.  For one, a newly established committee just revealed the “Alternative Four” in January – one that all types of rural landowners and long-standing citizen organizations are miffed by as it splits rural land down to 5 acre parcels.   This, with only months remaining to get it together, and after numerous attempts from qualified organizations within and outside of the local government to offer proposals that were apparently tossed by the wayside.

Have you heard of a county Comprehensive Plan?  Do you know what the Growth Management Act is?  Are you interested in learning more about the current “Alternatives” that Clark County has been considering?  Look no further.  Kaitlin Gillespie wrote an excellently thorough run-down just yesterday in the Columbian, which can be found here.

This generation and next: farmers, ranchers, beekeepers, distributers, chefs, co-op owners and several organizations - all assemble to show that you don't have to own land to want to preserve it for food, fuel and fiber. We all eat. And we love our farmland! Farming's NOT dead. Stay tuned.

This generation and next: farmers, ranchers, beekeepers, distributers, chefs, co-op owners and several organizations – all assemble to show that you don’t have to own land to want to preserve it for food, fuel and fiber. We all eat. And we love our farmland!
Farming’s NOT dead.
Stay tuned.

Really, there are plenty of things that I’d love to address here, but I have to start somewhere, and so I begin at “How much land do you own?

This question has become a running theme of Mr. Madore’s as he has addressed farmers and foodies alike, starting back in January, at the most recent Clark Cowlitz Farm Bureau (CCFB) general meeting, where Mr. Madore attended in place of the invited county planner (sick at home).

I was able to capture several quotes from Mr. Madores speech at the Farm Bureau meeting, all laying the responsibility of making good decisions/policy on farmland up to the farmers (not the lawmakers – ie. himself and others in his office).  “If you don’t tell me what you need, I can’t help you.”  His insinuation that he was ignorant to our needs was rather disconcerting. That he was offering a platform for discussion, great!

Here are a few excellent and specific recommendations that ag-advocates have contributed to the county’s resources that Mr. Madore is fully aware of, and has not addressed (or acknowledged, apparently) – several that I and other farmers were closely involved with the assembling of:

As Mr. Madore was laying the responsibility on farmers to communicate their needs, he also was clear that the route they needed to go through was through the two ladies that founded Clark County Citizens United that he brought to CCFB’s meeting.  No one in the room was familiar with the group, or the ladies, which begged the question: How do they represent farmers?  We’ll get back to this.

After the meeting, a few of us farmers spoke with these two ladies, Carol & Susan, who cut off questions and concerns condescendingly with the infamous question they apparently launched for Madore: “How many acres do you actively farm?”  Making it clear that, unless you farmed more than 5 acres, your words had no clout to what they were sharing or promoting to the county.

Also overheard at this meeting by this trio was that there wasn’t a “farmer in the room.”

Pause for effect.

This room staged the meeting place for the most schooled and long-term farmers in the county, many farming as a livelihood before Mr. Madore was born.  Many that owned large parcels, as well as small.  This was a meeting of the agriculture trade association.  No farmers.  Huh.

Mr. Madore also stated at the Farm Bureau meeting, elaborating on again last Tuesday, that a farm is not more than a “hobby farm” if either spouse has to work outside of it.  Which again doesn’t make sense.  Does that mean if a commissioners wife works in a department other than her husband (to financially contribute to their family), he’s not really a commissioner?

I’m a full time farmer.  Scott isn’t.  We are a double income family.  Some people have a part-time farm job, and an off-farm job as well.  The fact that my land works for me, and supports my employment is a huge benefit and wise investment.  If my husband works for another occupation, or I also work part-time off-farm, that doesn’t make our farm business less profitable or real or “manageable” (as Mr. Madore stated of farmers that have a spouse working off the farm, and in support of making farms smaller).

plan ahead

don’t leave me in the dust

Continue Reading »

Homestead Moments

Brought to you from the last couple of days.

love

sibling love

herb pasta

herb pasta

unearthing garden veg

unearthing garden veg

garden loot

garden loot

all in a mornings milking

all in a mornings milking

10275936_10206039140195330_88651655513801377_n

cutting curds

 

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