We’ve been quite busy over the last three and a half months. I had hoped to blog more but with the country’s response (for good and bad) to the current events, we felt the need to speed up our plans and reprioritize what we were doing. It’s amazing how clear we can become if we’re motivated enough.
Dom and I have always been on the path to being more sustainable and self-reliant. Not in the sense, however, of us being an island unto ourselves and living like hermits somewhere out in the wilderness. If that were the case, we wouldn’t have chosen the area we’re living in as a place to set down roots.
We believe in community and helping where we can. We want to be productive and provide products and services that can help stabilize our local economy. As we’ve watched our nation and the world go through extremes, we’ve seen the impact it has on us personally.
Having taken care of animals and grown our food in the past, it has become crystal clear that we need to get our asses in gear now. I believe that hyperinflation is inching closer and that things are about to get extremely ugly (they are already ugly) with regards to food security. One thing is appallingly clear…we are NOT prepared!
I hate to sound like a cliche, but I thought we would have more time. We knew this was going to happen. Well, not that there would be a lockdown and all our rights being taken over 38,000 deaths in the United States, but we knew there was going to be a great shaking. It’s one of the reasons we began growing food and caring for animals in the first place.
It feels surreal to watch everything unfold in the world. Worse yet, we are feeling somewhat powerless, marginalized, and unable to help those who are suffering in any meaningful way.
Our goals were to start getting animals and have a little extra to sell. To have a few large gardens and have some produce to sell. But in this season of change, I’m setting my sights much larger.
It’ll start with the chickens…
Originally we planned on having about 75 chickens which would include Brahmas and Croad Langshans as our meat birds, and Cream Legars, Welsummers, Marans, Faverolles, and a few other egg layers. But I’ve chosen to increase the number to between 175-200 birds. The area we’ve been preparing for them is large enough to handle such a large number of birds.
I will also start a breeding program for each kind of bird. I’ll be crossing the Brahma and Langshans eventually to create a new table meat bird.
Our birds will be raised on organic feed and have one of the most important jobs on the farm…making compost for us. No one can turn a compost pile faster and with more efficiency than a mob of chickens.
This system of animal production will be intensive and highly productive. Each section will be multifaceted. For example, the chicken composting yard will have fruit trees, meat rabbit housing (yellow rectangle) and under the meat rabbits will be worm bins. Behind the rabbit row will be an enclosed area for berry bushes.
The fenced-in chicken composting yard will also have an enclosed turkey run with more berry bushes on three sides, and a round turkey coop (green circle). Why a round turkey coop? Because turkeys LOVE round things. They are fascinated by round objects and love round spaces. At least that’s what we’ve observed in keeping turkeys in the past.
There will be an area for ducks. We won’t have as many ducks as we do chickens, but we’ll have at least 30 for egg production as well as meat. Even though I really wanted to get Dutch Hookbills for this area, we have so much land that I decided that I’ll have them in another area. In the duck area we’ll be adding Cayugas, Silver Apple Yards, Pekins, and a few geese.
In the market garden, there is an overlap between the duck area and the garden. This overlap is because of where the large trees are. We won’t be removing the trees. Instead, the duck housing will be on the market garden side. There is an old large water trough that was for cattle. It will be turned into their pond. A spigot will be added to it, and the duck poop water will be used to water the market garden.
The market garden…
Currently, we have rows dug. They can be seen in the plot below. We don’t have the greatest water pressure coming from our well, and in order to save water, we decided to completely rework the market garden.
We’ll be creating inground wicking beds. The wicking beds will allow us to drain the duck pond water directly under each garden row. Think of it like bottom watering your plants. Freshwater will be used once a week to topwater, but the duck pond water is the real workhorse, nourishing all the plants and fruit trees that will be planted there.
Around the perimeter of the market garden we’ll be adding tall posts and electric to keep out the deer.
Last year we started building our little chicken composting run in the market garden. It’s the little green rectangle. This is intended to be our Silkie chicken nursery. Silkies are good mothers and will happily hatch out eggs. They can also be bullied by other chickens, so they get their very own area. We won’t have more than 10 Silkies. They’ll also be making compost in their area.
The outdoor kitchen and meat processing area (turquoise square)…
Last year we had an overgrown HUGE patch of wild grapevines. I cleared it out and burned the area so that they wouldn’t grow back. We have so many wild grapes on the property, that it wasn’t a big sacrifice. Now that the patch is gone, we can build our outdoor kitchen. We will harvest our small animals in the outdoor kitchen. It will also serve as the farm kitchen when we start holding events.
I told you we were busy! Haha
As our plans continue to morph, I will be tucking things into each system. Two things that aren’t on the plans are the post-harvest washing station and the greenhouse. The post-harvest station will be located on the north side of the market garden. In the upper right-hand corner above the market garden is where our tents used to be. That will be the location of our greenhouse.
Everything will be in close proximity to each other. This creates fewer steps. At the center of everything is the water supply. Farms should be run efficiently with as few steps as needed. We’ve worked on farms that weren’t planned out very well. Water that would need to be hauled great distances, needing to walk 10 minutes to a field way out in the middle of nowhere to harvest lettuce, only to turn around and walk another 10 minutes in the opposite direction to collect eggs and yet another 20 minutes to go feed pigs. This is extremely time-consuming. Our systems will not be done that way. There’s no need for it.
To the right of the market garden is the entrance to the pasture. We will be keeping dairy sheep and horses there. More on that another day!
Here are some photos of things that were accomplished from the end of January until this week:
Our little teeny tiny bathroom is nearing completion. Pallet walls are an ingenious way to rooms but if they aren’t sealed up with walls and insulation, animals feel free to make themselves at home in our spaces. That is a big fat NOPE! The walls were finished with drywall and an opening for windows was put in. We found the windows under one of the rigs on the property. They were partially buried in the dirt. I cleaned them up, painted, and reglazed them.
The toilet and bathtub were installed, and we got the cutest little antique Italian Florentine chest of drawers to convert into a sink. We need to purchase a wall-mounted faucet and hopefully, in the next few weeks, the sink will be functional.
We still have shelves, a mirror, and a few other things to add, but it is looking great! It feels glorious to take a long hot bath too.
I love watching him work and get creative. I love how he makes our lives so much better every day!
My girl continues to grow into this stunningly beautiful young woman. She turns 13 next month.
Some cedars and pine were taken out of the chicken compost yard. When completely cleared of dead or dying trees (we had both in that area) fruit trees will be added. The straight branches that were still in good condition will be used to build the chicken coop.
Our supply area is filling up fast. The pallets will be used to build a storage shed for all our things that are currently being stored in the roastery. We have many projects going on all at once. Behind the pallets are a LOT of glass panels. Those are for the greenhouse.
This is the next section of the chicken yard that needs to be cleared. This whole area is one large tree that fell but never died. It is connected at the root by about two feet of tree. It must have fallen at least 5 years ago but refused to die. This is the area where the large chicken coop will go.
We have two entrances to our property. One is on Mineral Creek seen in the photo above, and the other is on a back road when the creek is flowing.
This year we had so much rain that we couldn’t get across. The creek cuts into the banks creating a steep drop off. We need to have heavy equipment come in to fix this each year. What we really need is a bridge!
Once the water subsides the creek bed is a hot mess! We had it leveled on Friday and we can finally cross again.
Much better! There’s only a small amount of water flowing now, and within the next few months, it should be dried up completely until next winter.
The other project I’m currently working on is updating and changing our website. Firelight Farm will still have the blog, but it will be a magazine-style layout and include lots of different sections. Instead of having one blog where I write everything, there will be categories like animal shelters, animal husbandry, growing a garden, building structures, how to lacto-ferment, and more. We want our website to be more informative. I also want to start producing videos again. We started to a few years back, but when we sold our last farm, there was no reason to continue making videos.
My aim is to have the new site launched by the end of May. It’s pretty exciting and it’s all coming together.
January has been a jam-packed and an incredibly busy month for our coffee company. Last weekend we picked up the supplies we need to finish the roastery. I can’t believe I just said that! We’re moving forward and making headway. It feels great.
Our roastery insulation for the pallet walls will be finished using air-crete, drywall, and some good washable paint.
The air-crete was important to me because of its insulative value as well as being fireproof. We live in a wilderness area and I would never want to be the source of a major fire outbreak with our coffee roaster.
Originally we had planned on using straw light clay for the insulation and then plaster the interior with earthen and lime plaster, but when we found air-crete, we knew that would be less energy and time intensive.
It takes a few weeks to get everything, but it was ordered and should be here by the third week in February.
Dom and I (and some help) will be working on the roastery in February and March.
The large open bay door area will be framed out for large double glass doors that we’ve been carting around with us since we lived in West Virginia. The doors were salvaged from Snowshoe Ski Resort where Dom used to work. They are steel, 8-foot high matching exterior doors.
He has been wanting to use these doors for over three years now. The entrance door is a project I’ll be working on in mid-February. I’m pretty excited about it!
Below is a photo of the door at the entrance of the rig. I will be using that door for the entrance to the roastery. The area outlined in red at the center of the door will be filled with a thin layer of roasted coffee beans. Basically inlaying the door with beans and then pouring epoxy on top to keep the coffee beans protected. I haven’t decided if the wood on the door will be stained or left weathered. It will all depend on how the coffee beans look contrasted in the door.
There are a lot of things that need to be shifted around to make working on the roastery possible. We cleaned the roastery out during the summer, removing things that were being stored in there but couldn’t be used. Then we had major stormy weather in October and our storage tent that had all our things began to leak with water so Dom moved everything into the roastery.
Our on-demand tankless hot water heater busted about a month ago, and we’ve been without hot water ever since. We have a larger on-demand tankless water heater to install, but we decided to wait until after we finished our bathroom to install it. I was frantically searching for a proper bathtub and it was elusive for a while. It’s not that there were no tubs around for sale, it’s just that Dom had a particular need for a claw ball tub and not a regular bathtub. Tubs tend to be on the shallow and short side, and because he’s tall, he can’t enjoy a bath unless it’s a claw ball tub. We had one when we lived in Vermont, and it was the only one he truly enjoyed.
So I was looking and looking, and finally, I found one that didn’t break the bank AND the person was willing to accept payment and hold onto it until we could come and get it. Craigslist and FB Marketplace are filled with people who flake out and don’t end up coming to get things, and I needed to assure the people with the tub and our stove that we will come when we say we would.
That has worked out well for us because of our busy schedule and the fact that we only have one vehicle. I could do more and free Dom up if I had my own SUV. Instead, we have to make appointments to pick things up on the weekends when he’s not working which takes away time to work on our home projects. It’s a catch 22, and so frustrating!
Anyway, the bathroom was gutted and the floor was sanded. Yesterday the first of three coats of urethane went on the bathroom floor. Sunday we’re shooting to have the windows and drywall installed. I’m hoping that we’ll have a functional bathroom in a few weeks.
Once the bathroom is finished, the air-crete will be here and the pallet walls and the ceiling in the bathroom will be filled. However, before we can work on gutting the rig, we need to build a storage shed to put all our things. They are being stored in the roastery and we can’t work on the roastery to finish it until all the stuff is out.
When the shed is completed, the next project will be gutting the main part of the rig. The kitchen and RV bathroom will be removed. The new bathroom is a pallet addition off the back of the RV. Our daughter Hannah has converted her own small city bus into her own tiny home, and the RV shower, stove, and sinks will go to her so she can finish her tiny home.
It’s all a big juggling act. We’re positioned finally to start all the work. There were things we needed to purchase new, but the majority of our supplies are salvaged from old buildings, donated from great neighbors, or saved from demolition. It’s been sitting in piles and it is starting to look like a salvage yard, not a place we live.
I started looking for a coffee roaster that can roast more than 12 pounds per hour so that we could scale up production. I found one that will roast 45 pounds per hour and he sold it to us so inexpensively that I couldn’t say no! It will be our in-between roaster that will allow us to roast a larger amount while we’re building our hearth wood-fired coffee roaster.
Our hearth roaster will be a 15-pound roaster that is the prototype for a 30-pound roaster which would produce about 90 pounds of coffee per hour. The 30-pound hearth roaster will go into the new facility that we’re hoping to build in the next five years. The new facility will have not only the large hearth coffee roaster, but also a bottling line and large commercial kitchen for making cold brew.
We’ll be building a GeoBarn here and we’re bursting at the seams thinking about it! GeoBarns are amazing. When we lived in Vermont, Dom worked as a subcontractor building these barns from the ground up, for both residential and commercial applications. When we were trying to figure out what kind of building we wanted for our main facility, he said he wanted a GeoBarn and nothing else would do! That’s how much he loves these barns. Not just that, but everyone at GeoBarns is amazing, caring, and incredible humans. From inception to execution, the elegant and timelessness of a GeoBarn speaks for itself.
Our days seem to fly by! We’ve accomplished a lot since we moved here in April 2019. Our goal is to have the rig and the roastery completed by our one year anniversary of moving here. I think we might be on track to make that happen.
I’ve always been intrigued by living fences and using trees and hedges to create a barrier that animals would be hardpressed to make it through. In the past, farmers often used plants that had thorns to keep livestock in or out of different areas, as well as keeping some wildlife at bay.
We have 14 acres here. When we lived in Los Lunas, we only had about 1 1/2 acres. I find that one acre is far more manageable than 14. Even five acres is a bit daunting to me. Not because of the size of the land, but because of how I plant and grow things. I take small spaces and pack them full of different types of plants, both edible and ornamental. If I am planning a 60’x60′ garden, I can pretty much guarantee you there will be more than 500 different species living and thriving in that space.
Our land has many steep hills that are more like a mountain. There are areas that go straight up to Mineral Creek (a seasonal creek). We’ll be getting a surveyor to give us the official boundaries of our land so we can properly plant our living fence.
I’ll most likely be using black locust to create the living fences as well as finding an area to grow them to harvest wood via coppicing. I chose the black locust because I can get over 25,000 seeds (about a pound) for under $10.00. I know I’ll need more than that, but it’s a good start.
This tree, which has often been given a bad name for its opportunistic rapid growth and robust thorns, is said to be native originally to the Appalachian Mountain range, though it has become naturalized throughout the United States, southern Canada, and even parts of Europe and Asia. The species is incredibly adaptive, growing in many elevations, microclimates, and soil types.
While some have named it an “invasive” tree given its rapid growth and willingness to spread by seed and root suckering, others see these characteristics as advantageous, if only populations are properly managed to harness these qualities. Make no mistake, locust is not a tree to plant and walk away from. It is best when incorporated into managed activities on the farm, of which there are a remarkable array of options and benefits, including:
Because it fixes nitrogen from the atmosphere, the trees grow incredibly fast (3 – 4 feet in a season) and can quickly become windbreaks, shelterbelts, and shade and shelter for animals in silvopasture grazing systems.
The nutritional value of the leaves is similar to alfalfa, making it a valuable feed for ruminant livestock. Some sources claim excessive consumption can lead to toxicity, but many farmers have found their animals naturally limit their intake. (horses excepted)
The tree has been used to support nutrition in other crops, from grains to other trees. Research has shown increases in nitrogen in barley grain crops interplanted with locust, and black walnuts interplanted with locust as “nurse” trees were shown to rapidly increase their growth.
The flowers are important sources of food for honeybees. In Hungary, Black Locust is the basis of commercial honey production.
The high-density wood is the most rot-resistant wood we can grow in our climate, making it an ideal material for fenceposts, hope poles, outdoor furniture, decks, and other projects that require weatherproof materials.
It’s BTU rating is among the highest, making it an excellent firewood in both heat value and coaling ability. At our last house, we actually ruined a woodstove by burning too much locust, which gets extremely hot.
If anything, Black locust is almost too good at what it does. All these attributes have resulted in extraordinarily high demand; both sellers of locust poles and lumber, as well as those in the nursery trade at the meeting, reported not even coming close to meeting the demand for their products. There is a lot of room in the market for more farmers to grow, harvest, and sell black locust products in many parts of the region.
We plan on using not only black locust but also honey locust, Siberian pea shrub, hawthorn, willow, dogwood, sea buckthorn, more sycamores, cottonwood, poplars, aspen, and I’m even thinking of trying my hand at sugar maple. I’m confident we could grow sugar maple here. Our day time temperatures are above 32 degrees and our evening temps fall below freezing most of the time.
It would be an interesting experiment, that’s for sure!
Anyway, knowing that black locust is a pretty rugged pioneer tree, I chose it to be our gatekeepers.
In the future, we plan on also terracing our steep mountain-like hills and planting berries. To do so, we need our living fences in place and doing their job at keeping out bears, deer, and other wildlife that would be hellbent on eating the buffet of delicious goodies we’ll be growing. Trying to fence the perimeter of our property with deer fencing is cost-prohibitive. But two pounds of black locust seeds planted and a few years growth will yield not only the fence we need for almost free, but will also provide us with wood, the bees with food, and a prolific source of new seeds which we can sell in our upcoming online store for Firelight Farm.
It’s coming. We’ve been working on what we’ll be selling in our store as well as on Etsy. I’ve been working on our branding for the last few months and I can’t wait to launch! It won’t be until the end of the summer, however. I have way too many things on my plate right now.
Between scaling up our coffee company, and repairing the rig we’re living in, I’ll go nuts trying to also take on our farm’s products.
This weekend we’ll be ordering the black locust tree seeds, ornamental grass seed for the duck yard, and asparagus crowns. The crowns will go in the ground way before we ever plant the black locust.
It’s an exciting time for me. I only planted a few things last year and spun my wheels doing so. We had chickens and roosters run amuck, big dogs to contend with (they come rambling through the property often with their dog gangs), deer and bear browsing our oaks and juniper berries, skunks invading our personal space, and coati chasing away feral cats and kittens.
But still, it’s amazing to start planning how everything will work together and then taking action and watching things take on a life of their own.
Dom and I have always believed in trying to reduce our use of plastic and things that end up in a landfill. But belief and actions aren’t mutually exclusive. After not really paying attention to how much waste we personally produce, I started looking for ideas of how to transition to a life with less plastic. I knew for sure what I was going to do for my coffee company which took a few weeks to figure out the steps I needed to take to transition. It happened towards the end of the holiday season when we had over 50 orders a day going out. Every time I opened a new tin tie coffee bag that is lined in plastic, or put a label on the front and back of the coffee bag, and then throwing out the label backing, I thought about it.
I thought about how I was missing out on building soil for our farm. None of those label backs can be used. They’re all plastic bound to paper.
I devised a plan for transitioning, and the shipments of new plastic free, compostable packaging have already arrived.
I’ve even started reorganizing and making changes in how I set up my workflow, the materials I’ll be using while working and how I’ll use any leftover materials.
That was fairly easy.
Then I discovered a lifestyle movement called Zero Waste.
I think it broke my brain. I agree with a lot that this lifestyle is hoping to achieve, but I’m unsure if we’ll ever be a zero waste farm and family.
Our biggest concern is Simmi. She has severe life-threatening food allergies to peanuts, most tree nuts, dairy (cow, sheep, and goat), eggs (duck and chicken), soy, and wheat. Simmi was diagnosed with life-threatening food allergies when she was only nine months old. We cannot shop for bulk items from a bin…ever. Everything we purchase for her must be sealed.
Here’s the scenario:
We’re at Sprouts or Whole Foods in the bulk food section. About an hour before we get to the store, someone who was casually walking around the store eating nuts (you’ll see them if you look) decides to get foods from the bulk section. Without first washing their hands which have nut oils and salts from eating, they get a bag and start putting basmati rice into the bag. Then the scooper slips out of their hands, and they pick it up NOT from the handle but from the scoop end and put it back into the bin. We use it next, and the tiny particles and oil residue still on the scooper contaminates rice we cook for her. We thought everything was okay until she goes into anaphylaxis and we need to administer epinephrine.
The bins are being refilled by the clerk who first decides to fill the soy flour, peanut bin, nuts, granola bins, and then without changing his/her gloves, opens the rice and pours it into the bin. With contaminated gloves, they put their hands into the rice to help it along into the bin. The air is still filled with particulates from the other products that went in, and he just contaminated the rice as well.
These are things that happen every day.
When we lived in Vermont, our favorite place to go was the co-op in the town we lived in. One day Simmi started sneezing and couldn’t stop. We were walking past the backroom where they happened to be filling smaller bags with something she was allergic to. It was in the air and she was breathing it in. We had to leave the store immediately. Then it happened in another store we went to. This time she broke out in hives, had a hard time breathing and we needed to leave. We were at an indoor farmer’s market and they were making fresh pies from scratch.
So we cannot under any circumstances use bulk bins for Simmi. I’m a Celiac, so bulk bins are out of the question for me too.
I’ve started to pick apart what we purchase each week. The first item up is Simmi’s pasta. Because her diet is already restricted, I’m not up for removing pasta just because it is packaged in plastic. However, I have found a recipe for making her pasta and a manual pasta machine to cut it into strips.
We can make her pasta and forego the cost of ready-made pasta. This would be a good solution for us, and it would be something she can learn to make for herself.
The cost of bulk flours for her is way cheaper than buying one or two pounds at a time. Bulk flour can be put into a large container and save on garbage.
We can do the same with bulk rice.
I don’t think there will ever be a time when we could consider ourselves a zero waste household, but we can greatly reduce how we purchase products and be mindful of the garbage being produced while making sensible choices.
I also see that people in zero waste are carting their glass jars and cotton bags to the stores in order to not use plastic bags or plastic containers. While this is admirable, I think it is a little bit too much with all the separate cotton bags for produce. Tomatoes won’t mind being intermingled with the other softer veggies, and I don’t think celery and carrots would have a problem being lumped together either. After all, they are often mates when put into a hardy stew.
These are just a few of the things that feel unnecessarily cumbersome. I understand putting bread into a cotton bag, but most things won’t mind being next to each other for a few hours between shopping and home.
The next thing I have a hard time wrapping my head around is all the justifications. We live in this weird world of absolute extremes. I’ve seen it with homesteaders, where one will bicker with another if they choose to work outside the home. Everyone seems to have rules about the proper way of living a lifestyle.
Zero Waste seems to have the same issues. One person will tell someone else they’re doing it wrong. If you’re into eating a keto diet, one will tell you that you can’t eat this or that and be truly keto.
I’ve seen it with those who live off-off grid too. That’s where you choose to live without generating any electricity or regular propane and fuels and basically live in a pre-industrial lifestyle. Then someone will come along and point a finger at the off-off grid person and claim they can’t use a computer.
It’s really sad.
I don’t want that for our family. We don’t fit the mold of an environmental family. I don’t do things to “save the planet.” I do things because I care about the planet, especially how it impacts my family and my community. My desire to be plastic free has to do with the love I have for my community as well as my land. I’m not trying to change other people or how they choose to live.
My desire to farm organically doesn’t lead me to condemn or shame those who don’t.
My need to have compostable coffee packaging is very selfish. It is if we want to call a spade a spade! I want to be able to create soil for our farm. I can’t do it with what I’m using now. If it doesn’t have a past life purpose, I don’t want it, nor do I want others to be burdened with not knowing what to do with the packaging either. I want to put empowering tools into my consumer’s hands that allow them to recycle the packaging or even compost it. If they don’t, it’s okay, but at least I empowered them to make a new choice.
Some people will try and reuse plastic in order to save it from a landfill. I can’t do that either. I HATE seeing plastic containers around. I even despise plastic 5-gallon buckets, but I’ll use them until something better comes along for storing things. I don’t find it attractive to use old Folgers plastic containers to store things either.
But that’s me. Not you. And just because I feel that way about plastic doesn’t mean I would condemn or shame you for using it the way you want.
We’re going to do our best moving forward to be accountable for the waste we produce. That’s about where it ends. I’m not planning on making others accountable for their waste products. We all need to follow our own convictions.
Guess what is going into the landfill that we can’t avoid? The rig we are living in right now. At some point, we will be taking it apart, and it will be put into a dumpster and hauled off along with all the things that couldn’t be recycled.
However, by 2022, our hope is that we no longer will need to bring anything to the dump. At least, that’s the plan.
Are you living a zero waste lifestyle or looking to move in that direction? What are some of the changes you made to keep yourself accountable?
Plastic has become the foundation of our modern life. From simple things like straws and food containers to life-saving devices and commercial packaging, it is here to stay. You would be hardpressed today to find real clothing. Most clothes today are made from plastic or a combination of a poly-cotton blend. People cook with it, store things in it, and find it difficult to live without.
We are no different from everyone else. Sometimes I think we’re worse because we know better! By ‘we’ I mean Dom and me. Back in 2011, we started the process of getting rid of plastic products from our home. Toys, storage and food containers, even clothes. We purchased glass jars and bowls for storing food and made the effort to shop for only cotton, wool, silk and natural fibers for our clothes.
Then we sold our house and moved 10 times over the course of 4 years. When our lives were constantly in flux, it made it difficult to make being plastic-free a priority.
Always in the back of my mind is that gnawing feeling of guilt that we have not kept our commitment to being plastic-free.
Dom and I recommitted to phasing out plastic as much as possible starting in 2020. I was very grieved by the lack of reusable materials I was creating for our coffee company, especially during the holiday rush. Everything from packing peanuts from companies shipping me supplies to my own use of lots of plastic products that are cheap and readily available has made me pause and decide to be accountable for my part in our plastic problem.
This year we’ll be transitioning our coffee company to more sustainable and compostable materials used in the creation and distribution of our products. From coffee bags with tin ties to glassine inner bags and paper bag outer packaging that is still tied with twine. I was embossing every bag I put coffee in which created a very unique packaging with texture and layers. I will be keeping the texture, just not with my own embossing. You see, the embossing powders I use are plastic, which gets melted onto each bag I emboss. I’ve embossed a few thousand bags in the last year and not a single one of them could be taken from the kitchen and put into a compost pile and turned into soil.
I know that not everyone composts. But we do. I don’t want to burden the garbage dump with our garbage because I couldn’t figure out a more clever way to have sustainable packaging. While not everyone composts and farms or gardens, many use recycling. Unfortunately in our rural county, we don’t have a recycling program. Garbage is either sent to the dump or it’s burned. We’ve done both. We’ve also separated plastic, glass, metal and brought it to Silver City where it could be recycled, however, Silver City no longer recycles glass (from what I was told) and we would need to drive our glass recyclables all the way to Las Cruces to dispose of them. I’m sorry, but there is nothing sustainable about spending over $50 in gas to take our glass containers to a place three hours away from us just to get rid of glass.
Sometimes things feel insane to my brain.
I’ve been looking at alternatives for our coffee company, as well as future farm products and things for our personal use. We don’t see how we can be 100% plastic free and maybe its because I’ve been in plastic for so long that I see no way out completely.
As an example, write now as I write this sentence, I’m sitting on a chair that has a plastic foam cushion. My old raggedy gray sweater is acrylic (plastic) and not wool, the keyboard I tap my fingers on…plastic. The modem, plastic. The paint that coats my desk holding my computer? Plastic. The little area rug under me? Plastic. My printers, mostly plastic.
There are so many things that we have that are made from this ubiquitous material. Cutting down and replacing where possible is the only solution we see as being responsible.
So what do we do with the things we are phasing out? If it’s a product that still has years of use, we’ll give it to those who need/want it. If its something that can no longer be used, we’ll recycle it. And that’s where it ends. I don’t want to a part of this problem any longer.
Animals are dying, people are dying. They don’t realize how many chemicals are in the plastic and they’re cooking or warming up food in it. And let’s not get started with the fact that all these products are petroleum-based and polluting our planet while they are being manufactured. Polluting the earth while the petroleum is being extracted.
Here are some of the things we’re looking to incorporate into our lives from now on. We’re not buying everything all at once, but instead, budget it in over the course of a few years. Slow and simple works best for us.
We regularly use Ball jars for storing foods, and we also have flip-top jars for storage, but we’ll be migrating over to jars with a wood top. Mostly because I love the way they look. We would put gluten-free pasta, rice, dried and other non-perishables in them.
We’ll be transitioning away from Ball jars for canning to Weck jars. One of the problems with regular mason or ball jars is that you need new jar lids each time you can something and the lining of the jar has a plastic coating on it. While I’m not condemning those who can using Ball, Kerr, or Mason jars, I’m just saying that we don’t want to use them for our family, or for future farm products that we will be offering. The lids on Weck jars are glass and do not contain any type of poly coating. This summer I canned up peach preserves and thought of giving them as gifts this Christmas to our family, but I changed my mind and decided to wait until after we own Weck jars to give food as gifts for the holiday season.
Plus, I love the way they look. 🙂
Another step we’ll be making to reduce waste is to purchase in bulk or to take our containers to the co-op to fill our jars with what we need. I wouldn’t be bringing jars, but instead cotton or linen sacks so that the clerk can tare the sack before weighing. This can be done with most dried goods. We can also utilize the store’s meat department to have our meat wrapped with paper instead of plastic-lined butcher paper.
For clothing and shoes, I think this is the most difficult for us. Real clothing is expensive. And that’s the rub for us. Organic cotton, 100% wool, real silk, flax linen…all very costly. Especially when you have a man that can wear out a pair of pants in a matter of just a few weeks. He uses everything to its bitter end! Holes in the knees in just under a month, worn thin because he works harder than any man I know.
A daughter who is growing faster than I care to admit! She’s on the fast track to being as tall as Dom in the next few years. She’s tall with these supermodel legs that just won’t stop growing! Her feet? She’s already wearing my size shoes and she hasn’t turned 13 yet. It’s difficult finding clothes that she will wear because she only likes POLYESTER clothing. Yes, that wasn’t a typo. This kid loves all the fuzzy poly clothes. I’ve purchased her merino wool sweaters in the past, and she even thinks those are itchy. I gulp on the thought of buying her leather $75 shoes that she will outgrow in a matter of two months. And that’s just shoes! Boots and play shoes she’s pretty rough on as well.
Simmi sleeps with about 10 blankets. That is not an exaggeration. From greatest to least, every time she gets a new blanket, she adds it to her collection. She even sleeps with all of them in the summer. There is only one fully cotton blanket in the bunch, and that is the quilt I made for her back in 2013.
She’s also not fond of my quilt, although she’s begging for me to make her a new one. When I do, it will be of organic cotton with a real wool batting. I have enough raw wool to last a few years. A friend of ours calls us to pick up the wool when she has her sheep sheared each year. So far I’ve collected about 5 large bags full of wool, just waiting to be processed.
I’m not sure how to get Simmi onboard with our transition. I’ll be purchasing new merino wool blankets next month, and my hope is that she’ll see how much better it is than the acrylic blankets she’s hoarding right now. My goal is to have her (and us) outfitted for the fall and winter of 2020 with organic cotton sheets, merino wool blanket, and a goose down blanket. I’ll also be making pillows for us to sleep on with the wool we have.
I’m taking it slow with Simmi. She’s been through a lot in the last four years and only now has started to understand that we are finally home. No more moving! No more needing to worry about if I am going to get sick again, or watching me suffer losing my hair and not being able to breathe. It’s a lot for a little kid to go through. My older children went through it too.
Personal products such as toothbrushes can easily be replaced with a bamboo toothbrush with natural bristles.
There are so many personal care products we can get relatively inexpensive instead of using plastic products. We’ll get there, and my hope is that by this time next year our family will be a little more plastic-free. It’s a great goal for our lives.
Dom and I haven’t sat down to officially write down our goals and intentions for the new year, but as usual, they are pretty big and exciting. First, I’d love to recap 2019 and touch on our future plans because it was a pretty incredible year for us.
Our initial plans prior to moving here included others who are no longer living on the land. They’ve moved on to new and exciting adventures. As things shifted, for some strange reason, my thinking did not. I still went about working on the land as though the others were still present. It took a good six months for me to plan out how the land would best function with others also living here, which mainly had to do with our planned gardens.
Since everyone has moved on, we’ve finally changed the direction of our plans for farming and living.
Our camping came to an end at the beginning of November. We were hit with a cold snap that went right through Dom and he was unable to handle the cold during the evening. Simmi and I were fine, but since he was feeling it in his bones, we made the transition from our tents to the rig where we have woodstoves to keep warm. We’ve been updating the rig for us to live in since we had only planned on the rig being used for Buffalo Mountain.
It was a good thing that Dom changed his mind about tent living because the tents were old when we purchased them and sun-worn in our high desert climate. About two weeks after we moved into the rig, we had a few very strong storms that ripped the tents to shreds. We had already moved all our things out of the tents, and if we had stayed the course it could have been disastrous.
I think often to what could have happened if we installed our woodstoves and decided to stay put. The tents ripped wide open in the middle of the night. All our belongings would have been ruined, including our mattresses. It would have been a financial nightmare.
Buffalo Mountain Coffee:
Our coffee company has been going through quite a bit of growing pains and I have felt the squeeze. Since we moved into the rig, we needed to move everything for Buffalo Mountain to another section of the rig, separate from our living space. Doing this reduced greatly the amount of room I had to work with. I had three areas originally for work which included an office, an art studio, and the coffee room, but Simmi will be moving into my office, Dom and I are in my art studio, and all our equipment and inventory is in one small space.
In the coffee room (as I call it) I have to work in stages, which really drags out the hours I work. We’ve made it as efficient as possible, however, my workflow suffers quite a bit. The roastery is our top priority but it needs to be balanced with what we need for our family.
From November up to me writing this blog post, we had so many orders come in for the holiday season that there were many nights I never even went to sleep. Dom works in construction and we’re not at a place financially yet where he can work full time at Buffalo Mountain, so I designed the space to be only used by me, and made it impossible for us to hire outside help for the season. This set great limitations on what he could do to help get orders out the door. Buffalo Mountain was severely short-staffed! The fact that we still only have one car adds insult to injury because it would mean that after being up all night filling orders, I had to take him to work each day.
I was exhausted! I still am. However, financially we were able to move Buffalo Mountain forward significantly. I don’t take an income from our company yet because everything is always reinvested back to the company to move us forward. We bootstrapped our coffee company so we wouldn’t have a huge debt load or burden. While it is difficult at times bootstrapping, I’m glad we chose to do it that way.
We have the supplies necessary to finish the roastery and some of the other projects we’re working on. There are some very wonderful people in our community who have donated lumber, windows, and other materials and we will have everything we need to get our plans accomplished in the new year. We chose to use recycled materials because it helps others in the community to get rid of what they don’t need, and it helps us to utilize actual money on things we can’t get recycled, like inventory, supplies, and assets vital to Buffalo Mountain.
In the wake of the holiday rush, I was flabbergasted by the amount of waste that is produced by Buffalo Mountain. There is very little about our company that is environmentally friendly, and that is a problem for us. In building our company, I didn’t really consider using products that were environmentally friendly because they were cost-prohibitive. However, with the mountain of waste products in the form of label backing, plastic tape, and other things that can’t be composted here on the farm, we’ve decided to change our packaging moving forward.
We’ll be phasing out what we use now, by using it up and slowly transitioning to an environmentally friendly packaging. We won’t be using sticky labels any more. I have found a company that sells labels that can be compostable, but they are still quite cost-prohibitive, and I don’t want to pass that cost onto our customers.
2020 is looking amazing for Buffalo Mountain. In 2019 we made three times the amount we did in 2018. It’s great to watch the growth, year over year.
As I mentioned, we are currently living in the rig. For those who don’t know what the rig is, it’s an RV with four additions built onto it prior to us buying the land. It was used mainly for Buffalo Mountain before we moved in. Now that we’re in the rig, we’ve turned our attention to making it more liveable for us over the next year. We want our space to be comfortable, but not too comfortable that we don’t move forward with our house plans.
The addition/rooms put onto the rig were built with pallets. They didn’t have insulation so insulation was added to the office space and where we sleep.
There were places in the rig where wild animals could get in, and we had a very interesting thing happen one night about three weeks ago.
Simmi came into our room saying there was a skunk in the rig in the middle of the night. I didn’t believe her because it just sounded absurd to my sleeping brain. But it was true. It was a baby skunk not more than about 5 inches from nose to tail.
He came up under the rig and found a small hole to climb into. Then he made his way down to our room and got snapped in a trap we had set for mice. He started jumping and trying to free himself and started spraying his little stinky scent everywhere. Dom was able to get him out of the house and by the time he got him outside, the little guy died. Dom buried him in a burlap sack out in our ash pit.
I had a reaction to the smell of that tiny little cutie pie. He didn’t have a full skunk smell, just the smell of onions and garlic. Within about an hour, I passed out for six hours. My body couldn’t handle his scent.
Not everyone was as repelled as I was by his scent…his mother found his scent and tried to dig him up. He was already dead, but she refused to leave the sack. She stayed on the ash pile for three days and died. It was quite heartbreaking. Simmi cried, I was upset, and Dom was disturbed. We have never witnessed such dedication as that of a mother skunk. We brought her food and tried to help, but if we got close to her she would have sprayed us.
Dom found any holes where an animal could climb into the rig and closed them up.
The mama skunk was such a beautiful little creature. I think she was still young herself because she hadn’t reached the full size of a mature skunk.
Anyway, sealing up any small holes in the rig will prevent such a tragedy from happening again.
Rehabbing the rig is going slow, but soon we’ll pick up the pace. For the last six weeks, it has been nonstop work for me with Buffalo Mountain as well as homeschooling Simmi. Not an easy task to do both fulltime. But I made it work!
Our lumber keeps arriving from neighbors and people in our county, and we’re confident we have what we need to now gut the main part of the rig and redo it.
The kitchen will be refinished. All the cabinets and the RV bathroom will be removed and in its place, we’ll have bottom and top open shelves.
We have a full-sized Kohler sink and a white Chambers Stove to install. The stove we will be picking up the end of January when things settle down with Buffalo Mountain. Orders are still coming, so it’s difficult to get away for the day.
I’m so excited about getting this stove. I’ve known about Chambers Stoves for a long time, just didn’t think we’d ever have the money to afford one…especially one that has the pots and pans that go with it! I’m geeking out just thinking about it.
The Chambers Stove we’ll be installing is a model A from the year 1936-1939. It has all the bells and whistles of a classic Chambers Stove, AND the backsplash folds down to create more counter space when not in use. That comes in handy when you’re in close quarters on the rig. We also needed something that was thin enough to fit through the RV door, and the Chambers is just a little slimmer than the RV door opening.
It took a long time to find this model. When I found the seller, we struck up not only a conversation about coming to buy it, but became friends and may even partner on future projects between our coffee company and her catering company. The above photos are not of our stove, but ones I grabbed off the internet. Ours needs a bit of work to clean her up and shine again, but they can be restored beautifully. I’m so excited!
We currently are using the RV stove and oven that was in the rig. While I LOVE cooking on it, it just doesn’t provide the space we need to roast things. It has served its purpose so far, but if we plan on living in here for the next year or so, we need the space to be as accommodating as possible. I know me, and if things don’t start to flow the way we need them to as a family, depression and apathy will set in and Dom and I will start feeling sorry for ourselves. Haha That is NOT a pretty sight!
We’ve learned that when our surroundings aren’t what we need them to be, we become complacent, tired, and even depressed. It happened to us early on in our marriage when we would have to move into a new place that wasn’t optimal for us. Over the years, we’ve learned that we need to make something home before we start feeling homesick. It sounds like an oxymoron, but truly, homesick isn’t just for those who miss being home after being away. It’s also being sick mentally and physically while living in your home.
Neither of us wants to be homesick. No thanks!
As soon as we get our rig completely rehabbed (I’ll do a blog post about it), we’ll turn our attention to the roastery. After the roastery is finished, we’ll turn our attention to working in phases on our new house. We had planned on building a cabin, but since we moved into the rig, we won’t need to build a cabin until we’re ready to get rid of the rig. The new cabin will be designed as a guest cabin and we’ll stay in that after the rig is removed and until our house is built.
A few ideas I’ve grabbed from pinterest for inspiration in how we’ll redesign the main part of the rig. We don’t have a lot of height/headroom so we wouldn’t have as many upper shelves, but painting everything white and opening up the space will help it become more functional for us.
I’m debating whether to use our live edge shelving for the rig. I love the look, but I want to use what we have for our future permanent kitchen space. I’m on the fence about. Nothing is set in stone though.
I love the open shelves and open bottom shelf design. We have what we need to do a new floor as well as all the countertops and shelves.
Between the countertop and the first shelf, I’ve chosen long subway tiles that are a bit wonky. I love the texture and movement in them. They’re a bit expensive, but because the area we’ll be using them is small, we’re willing to invest in my sanity and create a backsplash that will make me smile every day. Investing in my sanity is a real thing, by the way!
We’re unsure of the style we’ll use for shelf brackets. I love the black angle iron but it’s costly. However, because they can be removed when we’re ready to remove the rig, I may want to invest in these, knowing they would be put into our final kitchen.
We purchased a full year of workshops and tutorials for building a cob home as a Christmas gift for each other. Our goal is to build our cob home where the rig currently is. Because of my issues with electricity, this house will not have any electricity or plumbing. The plumbing part has to do with my severe allergy to molds. Our main bathroom will be located on the exterior of the house inside an attached greenhouse. Technically it will be in the house, but the greenhouse makes the bathroom separate. Water damaged buildings create mold that is difficult to get rid of. Having any running water inside a house is inviting disaster to my health.
Our cob house will have bedrooms, a living room, a dining room, an apothecary, and a music room, but the kitchen will be separate and completely outdoors, connected by a porch/overhang. This will not be a ragtag kitchen. Instead, it will be designed with rustic elegance and equipped to handle the winter weather. I’ll share more on that as we finish up our final designs.
We’re redesigning the infrastructure. My plans had to be scrapped when Dom wanted to build a cob home. He wants to play in the mud and sculpt our house. Who am I to deny him such a winsome desire? Building a cob house will require a huge amount of earth for not only the walls but also the plasterwork. I created a plan (it took a long time to design) for our potager garden which is a 60’x60′ patch of earth located right next to the market garden. It was the area the horses were in when we first moved here.
Well, my need for having a pond and Dom’s need to play with mud caused me to change my mind about the location of the potager. We’ll be digging out that area to make cob and the hole it creates will make our pond/living swimming pool.
A living swimming pool is a deep pond with a buffer zone where aquaculture is cultivated. No chemicals are used and the buffer zone filled with plants cleans the water. I’ve seen them done complex as well as simple. We’re going for simple.
I want this pond to be passive with only a solar aerator to keep the water moving. I have seen them done very similar to a pool, where a bog is created and water is pumped from the bottom of the pond to the bog where it flows down back into the pond, but it would drive me up a wall to hear the pump going night and day. It would also create an unpleasant electrical field that I would start avoiding since electrical fields cause hives and heart palpitations in me. I want a system that can clean the water passively while creating habitat and a new microclimate for the area.
Plus, it doesn’t hurt that it would be located about 60+ feet from our house. A pond in front of the house? Yes, please! One that Simmi and our family and friends can swim in? Hell yeah.
We haven’t decided on the shape of the pond yet. We just know we want to start digging it in the next year.
By the way, none of these things will be done quickly. But they will be done! My timeline doesn’t work according to everyone else’s beliefs of when a project should start and finish. We have a lot going on in our lives, and I won’t allow myself or Dom to rush through things just to check them off of some list. We want these things and we are willing to wait in order to do them properly and without killing ourselves in the process.
There are so many things that need to happen before we can even start digging a pond. The pond is a part of the new farm infrastructure.
We have the materials we need to start building our duck yards. We’ll be building fencing, a mini pond with its own bog, and a few duck houses. There will be two areas of the duck yard. On one side, there will be housing, food, and water. On the other side, their pond will be finished. The pond is an old water trough from cows that used to graze on the land a long time ago. It’s hooked up to the well. The two areas are separated because anyone who has ducks knows, these little cute quirky birds love to party all night and spend lots of time mating.
They will be trained to stay in the area where there is food, water, and housing at night, and at mid-morning be allowed access to their pond area. Ducks aren’t like chickens where they go into a coop and lay eggs. No, they walk along and boop! one falls out. From my experience, they also lay at night or very early morning. If they are given access to a large piece of land every morning would become an easter egg hunt. Some ducks will try to hide their eggs, and keeping ducks in a smaller area makes it easier to find them.
Galeno is standing in the water trough in the photo on the right. Half of the trough will be made into a bog, the rest of it will be water. It’ll be lined with a rubber membrane and then rocks will be added. We’ll also have a spigot attached so that we can take the duck poop water and use it on plants that aren’t root vegetables. Plants love duck poop water and it won’t burn them.
In the background, you can see the area that will be turned into a living swimming pond. The ducks will not have access to the pond and will only be in their duck yard. They would put too much stress on the pond.
We’ll be finishing our chicken composting run as well. We’re nearly there, but it came to a screeching halt when we kept putting all our attention on things that kept redirecting us personally. I’ll leave it at that because we had to deal with some pretty disturbing things in 2019.
We won’t be getting animals until after our trip to California. We are planning to take a trip sometime between March and June. We thought we’d go for our 16 year anniversary, but then thought it would be nice to go a little later and celebrate Simmi’s 13th birthday. She’s never been to the pacific ocean, the San Diego Zoo, Sea World or any other place. Her life-threatening food allergies always kept us from traveling by plane. But since we live only about 14 hours from California, we can drive there. We want to do so before we get animals because we don’t want to worry about feeding schedules and things like that.
It will be our first trip ever going on a vacation. It will most likely be the only one we ever take. I don’t like traveling to different places. It stresses me out. I love being at home or taking day trips. That’s about it!
We will start with chickens, ducks, and turkeys in early summer. We would love to plant this year, but I’m not sure yet what that looks like since I have no idea where I’m putting the potager garden. In the market garden, we can get that ready, but again, with our upcoming trip to California, it would be better to wait until after we return home to start planting.
I’ve been recovering very well, but I want to speed up my process. Back in November, I started an elimination diet to see what foods were causing lingering inflammation and autoimmune problems. I have a very high pain threshold, so pain for me is different than pain for others. What causes me to ache might be crippling for others. My body has always been that way. Anyway, there is an underlying discomfort that I’ve had for years that I want to be gone.
I’ve tweaked my health over the last few years since returning to New Mexico. If I were still living on the east coast…I would be near death if not already dead. The mold in buildings triggers an autoimmune response and horrible stuff starts happening to me.
My last big flareup was in August 2018 and it lasted through Christmas. I don’t feel 100% and if I think about it, I haven’t felt 100% in years. So I’ve jumped on the carnivore meat wagon. It’s the ultimate elimination diet. I’ve tried to just eat only animal products like eggs, cheese, dairy, butter, pork, fish and shellfish, poultry, lamb and beef, however, I still had issues that wouldn’t clear up. After seeing many of my fellow autoimmune warriors switch to ruminant meat, salt, and water diet and completely send their disorder into remission, I knew I should try it for at least six months. I will also be mostly consuming my beef raw, which I already have been doing since last year.
It’s not a big deal in that I already eat that way, I’m just removing some of the tasty things I have always loved. That will be the difficult part. I’m committed though to figuring out what foods are affecting my body. I’ll revisit reintroducing other foods into my diet in six months unless I’m feeling fantastic and don’t want to jinx it.
It’s been a while since I’ve done an update on what we’re up to, so I think I’ll stop there. I’m hoping to write more this year. I tend to go quiet during busy times or disturbing times. Long pauses in my posts happen, but I want to make the effort this year to put at least two posts per week out. I don’t know if I can make that happen, but I’m willing to try.
I hope everyone has an amazing New Year, filled with blessings, hope, courage, new direction, and clear vision! It’s the start of a new month, new year, and a new decade, and I’m glad I get to share it all with you. Be safe!
I’ve got to put on my bragging cap for a little bit because this girl of mine continues to amaze me. Hannah has been putting herself through school for the last ten years now. Unfortunately, I passed on to her my crappy autoimmune disorders so she has had to deal with some pretty horrific bouts of illness while trying to work AND complete her advanced degrees. It wasn’t easy for her.
Dom and I have struggled financially for many years, unable to support our kids financially as they went through school. We made the choice when Simmi was diagnosed with life-threatening food allergies, that I would stay home with her since she couldn’t go to school or into daycare. There were so many times we wanted to help our kids, but just couldn’t. It made our hearts swell with pride to see that despite what we couldn’t give to Hannah financially, she was able to pay her own way, and do so with grace and a lot of determination!
Ten years ago she put herself through yoga school to become an instructor. The photo on the right is of her and Dom from that graduation day.
Autoimmune problems started rearing their ugly heads and derailed her for a time. Through it all, however, she fought for what she wanted.
Six years ago she completely redid her education as a yoga instructor, specializing in trauma-informed yoga. She started her own business, Hadassah Wellness, and continued her education. One year ago she was invited to partner with a brand new crisis care unit because her services met their qualifications. Her company is now an official contractor with the State of New Mexico.
She has two Trauma-Informed Certificates, a 200-hour certificate as well as a 500-hour certificate.
Hannah Hadassah first started studying yoga and wellness in her early teens, completing her first 200hr yoga teacher training in Hatha and Raja yoga at age 19 in 2010. In 2018, she took a second 200hr teacher training at High Desert Yoga in Iyengar yoga where she continues her education. She has done several trainings with Sundara yoga in Trauma informed yoga therapy. Applying practical information from neuroscience of the brain to her yoga practice. She has worked in outpatient clinics with specific experience working with individuals who are recovering from substance abuse and managing mental health disorders.
Hannah currently teaches children 5-12 years old at High Desert Yoga and teaches a variety of adult classes at Hadassah wellness.
Through her education of yoga, nutrition, and natural medicine; Hannah learned better ways to manage her own chronic health challenges more effectively. Providing more awareness into her experience of living with a parent with multiple Auto Immune diseases.
Hannah continues to expand her educational background in yoga and holistic medicine to benefit the bodies and minds of all ages. It is her life’s passion to inspire others in their wellness journey while providing educational resources to support it.
Hadassah Wellness was created with the vision of being able to provide an environment that welcomes diversity of race, culture, spirituality, gender identity, ability and orientation. We seek to provide a safe and inclusive space for all. We reject intolerance and any form of degradation hurt, or abuse. We commit in words and actions to uphold the rights of all to feel safe, valued, and respected. Hadassah Wellness’s mission is to provide holistic services to everyone, not just the wealthy. Providing a sliding scale service rate for low income individuals and families.
At Hadassah wellness love, peace, and understanding unify us.
We love you Hannah and we are so very proud of you. Thank you for being such a beautiful light in this world. I can’t wait to see where you soar to from here!
We now officially own our land. One year after deciding that this was where we wanted to set down roots, it finally happened. We had some lag time with the title company and then a few other issues needed to be straightened out but as of yesterday, we closed.
I was looking back on this blog at my entry for October 3, 2018, and that was when we decided this was home to us. A lot has changed in a year. People have come and gone, plans have shifted, time has slipped through our hands, but we’re here.
Now we can set our plans in motion. We have so many things we want to do but chose not to start anything until we knew this was going to be home…for good.
Three years ago when Dom dislocated his knee and was unable to walk for almost a month, he created the above vision board. Nothing causes us to refocus in on our life goals like a serious illness or injury. We have carried this vision board from West Virginia to our new home in Glenwood. It sits in my coffee packaging room to remind us of how far we’ve come and all the things left on the board to fulfill.
In red, I’ve circled all the things that have already manifested…right down to the round tents and the dark skies! We dreamed, we went off the beaten path to get ourselves back on track, we pursued our passions, we found a place with bountiful diversity, we are home in nature, this land is our land, and even the trees circled in the lower left-hand corner of the board looks like our land. I think I’ll repost this board and circle new things that manifest as we move forward!
I also want to create a new board that will be a continuation of the one we started, because we’re always changing and growing.
Four years ago at this time, we sold our home in Los Lunas, and almost to the day four years later we are now in an even better place without a huge looming lifetime mortgage or outrageous bills that would force Dom to work two jobs. That was the ultimate goal for us. We wanted to be in a position where we could build our own environmentally safe house where I wouldn’t get sick from mold. We’re halfway there.
Over this last month, we’ve accomplished a lot!
We got the underside of some of the oak trees trimmed up and removed the huge grapevine bush to make way for our outdoor kitchen. We’ve been cleaning up the wood slash that was in different areas to cut down on fire danger. I think this was the most tedious job I’ve had to do in property clean up. It’s ongoing when you live in a place that is so dry it can easily become a tinderbox and go POOF! in an instant.
We’ve been enjoying BBQs and friends hanging out. We have some friends staying with us for a while and Simmi has been in her glory having kids to play with every day.
We have a White-Nosed Coati living nearby. He doesn’t seem to have any family so I’m unsure how long he’ll stay in the area.
The rock foundation was busted up and the covered porch was removed. I’ve been moving rocks away from the area so that the trailer can be hauled off soon. If you would have told me last year I would be strong enough to haul rocks alone for 4-6 hour time stretches, I would have told you that you were insane. But here I am strong as an ox. It took two years to recover from biotoxin illness but I did it! Every time I go outside and walk around I remind myself of how far I’ve come. From the trees I cut down, to the wood I haul, and the boulders I throw to save our rickety wheelbarrow from certain death, I am strong again.
Every time I procrastinate, it’s because I am still in an old mindset believing it’s going to hurt, or I’m going to have to stop because I’m in too much pain. Then I go outside and start moving my body and I become addicted to the fact that I am NOT in pain and it doesn’t hurt to move…it actually feels good. That’s how I know I’m getting better.
Dom works about 60 hours a week right now. He’s working on a build at the Apache Creek Firehouse, and there are two clients that hired him to do some repair work on their log cabin and deck. He chose to only take one day off, and that time has been spent cutting firewood from branches we cut months ago. In two weeks the firehouse will be finished so his schedule will open up and be a little more fluid again. He’s started designing our cabin and he’s hoping to get that started soon.
The firehouse addition is a monster job. The concrete work, steel framing, metal roof. Oye! He’ll be happy when this job is complete. There are three more roofing jobs after this that are lined up and will take him through the winter months if the weather agrees.
The temperature has plummeted to about 17 degrees at night. What does that mean for us tent folks? Nothing really. Haha
It’s amazing how much living in a home with four walls and a heat source can dull us. We’ve become scrappy creatures over these last six months. When we moved here the temps were hovering at about 22 degrees. We looked at each other and shrugged our shoulders wondering what the big deal was. It was 17 last night and it was fine. We haven’t hooked up stoves or a heat source in our tents yet. We sleep well in the cold. Geez, when I think about it, in Scandinavian countries parents leave their kids bundled up in the cold to sleep during the day.
The key is warmth. Are we warm at night? Absolutely! 17 degrees and toasty warm under the covers. No fear of Simmi being cold either. If she were cold, believe me, we would NOT hear the end of it. The protesting would start and not stop until we got her warm.
When the trailer is removed, we’ll be moving our tents up next to the rig and we’ll install some heaters. Simmi will have a catalytic propane heater and we’ll have a woodstove. I’m still on the hunt for a few of them. A friend of ours gave us a tiny one that was super cute, but not big enough to warm the tent before we go to bed. We’re not planning on heating our tents throughout the night, just an hour or two before bed so we’re cozy and can enjoy the early part of the evening by firelight.
I’m really happy with the way things have progressed and the future is looking bright!
I’ve been observing, listening, and wondering something as I watch this young woman I’d like to call “Greta the Great” take the world stage. What has everyone so nuts? What has caused many of you to lose your humanity and rail against a 16-year-old who is speaking passionately about something that concerns her and all of us? Okay, maybe you’re not concerned about climate change, but I am. Just not in the way that she is. My views are the opposite of hers in that I know we are actually headed into the next grand solar minimum. However, HOWEVER, no matter what my views, my research or even my opinion, I will not under any circumstances dehumanize this young woman.
I am floored by the lack of decency that I have seen in social media as well as articles written against Greta. They are quick to talk about how she’s jetting off here or there, judging every small step she takes. Judging her facial expressions, judging her clothing, judge, judge, judge. Right. Got it.
Let’s talk about her stern-looking face. Would it surprise you to know that she’s on the autism spectrum? I’ve heard terms like “her dead Illuminati stare” or “she’s vacuous and brainwashed by the elites.”
Really? Did you ever consider that maybe many of her facial expressions are due to being on the spectrum? No? Well, the only thing I can conclude from the judgment against the faces she makes is that many are projecting their own feelings onto her. That’s what I see. If from the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks, boy…what does all this hatred say about your heart?
The number of conspiracy theories that come out of the mouths of people surprises me to no end. She has been called “Hitler’s Youth” because she wears a braid. Really? You went there?! I don’t get the connection. But then again I don’t spend my days as an armchair warrior/activist for truth, so what do I know, right? What’s an armchair warrior/activist? Well, that’s someone who is on every conspiracy website, listening to every youtube talking head they can find to confirm their paranoid suspicions that we are being controlled by the rich, that we are being farmed by the elite, that we are being poisoned and treated like animals by unknown sinister half-bred lizard people. And everyone must know this hidden truth right now before it’s too late! Like Henny Penny when the sky was falling (or chemtrails were forming) as they punch the sky and do absolutely nothing at all about it. Passionate about fisting the air and telling everyone to fuck off as they continue to not contribute to the wellbeing of others. That’s some of the greatest idiocracies I’ve seen in my lifetime. I don’t have time to entertain half-wits who sit at their computers all day putting down people doing what they can to heal the earth.
No doubt I’ll be next as someone raises their fist to me claiming me to be in secret cahoots with the elite. Nope. Guess again.
I find it curious that Greta finds the courage to speak up for something she believes is happening in our world, and she is being spoken about as a victim of child abuse. Really? Do you really care about child abuse? If you do, please lead the charge in your very own community against such things instead of dictating from your comfy seat at home that she’s being brainwashed and abused. If you really care, at least have the decency to be like Greta and speak up for those children lost in your own communities.
I also find it curious that many feel she is misinformed about the earth. You don’t have to be a scientist to see that our planet is in terrible trouble because of the actions of humans. I see it every day in the overconsumption of products, the amount of garbage that goes into our landfills, the oil, and gas that is extracted from the earth. Sure she believes something that is on the opposite spectrum of what I believe, but I credit her for passionate action taken on behalf of her generation and those who come after her. I credit her for caring enough to say something. I credit her for caring because honestly, most people I know don’t give a rat’s ass about the environment.
They care not about the plastics that are causing irreparable damage to all life forms on a cellular level, plastics that are everywhere littered on the planet, burning fuels that harm all living things, working to buy things to use things to throw things away. I get it. We all have to live right? But we can live differently. I don’t believe our planet is going to burn up from greenhouse gasses and CO2 emissions, but it is harming us in the here and now. That much is clear. We’re dying a slow and agonizing death keeping our comfy lifestyle status quo, and here’s this little girl made out to be the new boogie man because she sees what’s happening to our planet and us and wants all of us to become uncomfortable with our comfy life.
I get it. You get it too. I don’t think you like a little girl telling you that you’re doing life all wrong.
No one does.
Yet, there she is, larger than life. Greta the Great kicking ass and taking names.
I haven’t been brainwashed. I commend and encourage her to keep going. And as far as other young people following her? I say let them. There are worse things they could be doing like playing video games all day, not paying attention to how much energy they consume, not paying attention to where their food comes from, not being concerned about landfills, not being concerned about the air they breathe, or the unethical products they use. Or maybe they should just go back to taking selfies all day, binge-watching shows on Netflix and being ensconced in celebrity gossip like everyone else so they don’t make you feel uncomfortable about your own life and proclivities. Oh wait, when they do that, they’re called “entitled Millenials.”
No matter what Millenials do, it seems that they are still criticized and treated like dimwits.
Want to know where that comes from? My generation and many in my parent’s generation. My generation is filled with entitled disillusioned people. My father’s generation? Many of them are caught in a revisionist paradise where their parent’s “did the best they could with the little they had” and talk about how life was so much better in the 50’s and 60’s. Right. No, it wasn’t. They have a habit of revising the past to fit an era gone by fantasy world women were compliant and made a man “feel like a man,” where children were submissive and respectful to their parents, and where everyone was so much more kind to each other. I beg to differ. Back then if a child was abused they told NO ONE. They suffered for years in silence. If they spoke out they were branded a liar and the family would protect the abuser. Children WERE being raped back then. They were being abused. Fathers were absent, mothers often in a drug-induced stupor. I know, because it happened to me at the hands of my own parents. I wouldn’t change it for the world, nor will I ever revise my life story to make family members feel more comfortable or for a sense of self preservation and pride.
I grew up under my father’s hand, and I will NEVER revise what happened to me or what I was forced to endure as a child. Yet that generation’s pride is so overweening they must say that their lives as youths were so much better than this current generation. Oh, and then they talk about how they were drafted and forced to fight in a war. Right. So much better back then. I guess that only applies to white men because if you were a different gender, your skin shade or hue darker, it wasn’t so great in the 50’s and 60’s. Forget being a mixed couple back then too. It’s a crock of crap that the 50’s and 60’s were so great.
What I do know is that time is ticking away for that older generation and soon they will be in the grave where all their nonsense will be swallowed up by death.
Let no one in my generation or older ever let the youth of today feel dehumanized by what the older people say. Millennials, don’t lose your humanity. Don’t become embittered and angry because you think that is the only way to get things accomplished. Don’t be like those who lead the charge against you. You’re better than them in every way!
Keep going Greta the Great! I’ll continue to be inspired by your passion and love for this great planet of ours, even if we do disagree on key points.
For those who think I’m full of shit or pissed off at what I have to say…Rise up, take your power and do something amazing in this world…
Just like Greta the Great.
Now, in my opinion about this whole movement for a global strike, I think care must be taken about how it moves forward otherwise our beautiful young activists will be fighting for the status quo in disguise.
What I mean by that, is if the charge is against fossil fuels, let’s not sway in the opposite direction for green technology without first examining our habits in daily living. The thing that drives our use of oil, gas, and coal is our need to travel distances to work, work in places that consume energy, purchase products that use huge amounts of energy to produce, and also fuel us on a very basic level with food. We need to personally examine our own lives and judge our own actions before we make a decision on how we force others to live.
Because of my electrohypersensitivity, I don’t use electricity the way others do. But even before discovering my sensitivity to electricity we decided that we didn’t want to live using much electricity at all. It’s one of the reasons we’re called Firelight Farm.
Striking is not the only way we make change happen. We must also take action every day in our own lives. Plant trees, grow a garden, raise animals. If you’re busy in a consumption vs. production kind of life, begin to make small changes for your life and your community. It’s us who must not only strike in-inaction in front of world leaders but also lead the way in our own communities, in our land, right where we are. We don’t need permission to not litter, or to buy ethical products, or work in a way that values other humans and living things. A global strike until “the powers that be” make decisions for us moves us back into the status quo. We are powerful beings, and if you don’t feel powerful, become knowledgeable in something you’re passionate about and put it to work for you. Not everyone will go on strike, hold signs up for change, or go on a hunger strike. Not everyone will chain themselves to a gate to make a statement. Some of us are doing the work quietly and passionately every day. Some don’t care. This is true too.
The problem is also not as simple as switching to not eating meat either. Again, that becomes a black and white alternative that doesn’t take into consideration the needs of others. In the process of saving the planet and living things, let’s not lose our humanity, because it is one of our greatest strengths as people. People will eat meat. Let’s work to change the narrative about the overconsumption of animal products that are farmed in an unethical and cruel way. I don’t believe that “Meat=Heat” or that cow farts are causing CO2 to rise. This is where opponents to Greta’s work are losing their shit. They don’t believe that the earth is warming. They also don’t believe the earth is cooling, as I do. Interesting right?
In my way of thinking, we cannot rid the world of eating animal products for the sake of the planet. As total solar irradiance continues to fall and we see that cosmic galactic rays bringing more storms and massive floods, those crops we’re growing will need to be planted at later times, flooding will cause mold, and the low solar irradiance causing crops to not ripen when they should, animal products will be important. But just as important is what we choose. We can choose ethical and humanely sourced animal products or factory-farmed big ag products that harm the environment.
The choice is ours. It shouldn’t be taken from us because nothing is gained in doing so. The planet will not heal if we harm our own people by taking away their choices. What I love about Greta’s message is that she is challenging your decisions. Should it lead to our rights being taken from us? That’s a good question, right? It’s not one that I worry about since we will be raising our own animal products and living in a way that heals the earth…not harms it. How about if I lose my right to farm for animal products? Would that happen? It’s possible but I’m not concerned with that since it has nothing to do with the life I live at this very moment. I’ll address that problem if it ever truly arises. Currently, I have larger looming issues, like building a very earth-friendly place for us to live this winter. Taking care of the trees on our property, thinning and doing surgery on those trees that are sick, adding new trees this fall and winter, and getting our gardens finally finished. Yes, we are doing our part, even if I don’t agree with Miss Greta.
But how we live personally isn’t everyone. And I think that is where the squeeze comes in.
Instead of criticizing and judging this young vibrant generation for their ideals and dreams, let’s become a part of the conversation and offer up real solutions for our own lives that make a difference for generations to come.
There is so much fear-mongering going around and it’s hard to watch. Fear is an element that can consume us when we don’t have all the facts. It drives anger. It’s often associated with being marginalized or left powerless. This new beautiful generation is leading the charge partially in fear and anger because their future is truly unknown. We cannot force others to live a certain way, and as the youth see this push back, they become even more afraid of what life will be like in the future.
Will you solidify their suspicions that everyone hates them and therefore they fear the future, or will you come along side them and show them there is nothing to fear because our humanity is strengthened when we inspire and love one another, even if we disagree.
Note: This is my blog and I moderate all comments. I do not allow abusive talk or trolling. If you comment and I feel you’re just causing trouble like a hairy internet troll, it will never post. All comments must be approved by me first before posting or they will end up in spam or trash. I say this because the subject of Greta is a touchy one. If it’s not respectful, it won’t be seen…period. 😉
The months of July, August and now September have been a flurry of activity. With our lives in a constant state of flux (the story of my life) sometimes I feel I don’t have a second to breathe. Our attention and time forever pulled away from us towards something pressing that needs to be done. Property clean up, well and septic inspections, getting rid of things on the property that isn’t needed, and it keeps us in a holding pattern with what we want to do just out of reach!
It’s frustrating but necessary. The one thing that Dom and I learned in walking through this life together is to remove those things that stand like a roadblock in front of us before trying to blaze a new path forward. In the past we would push and push passed something difficult and end up feeling frustrated. Now, we get frustrated as we remove those things that hinder us from moving forward FIRST so we can have a clear vision of how we will proceed.
The weeds are high, the fruits and veggies I planted are still ripening, and little by little the landscape is changing. One trailer is now gone, and in a few weeks, the next trailer will also be gone. Dom had to take down the porch that was connected to the second trailer, and then he has to jackhammer the foundation and remove all the concrete and stones before the trailer can be taken out.
It took most of the day to remove the roof and most of the lumber, which is being reused to build a new area for our washer and dryer and for my coffee roaster.
Some areas of the stone foundation are about a foot thick and the stone and concrete stairs that lead to the door are over three feet thick.
Dom is currently working on three different building projects so his time is extremely limited. We reserve Saturdays for him to rest and take Simmi for some daddy and daughter time down in Silver City where they can play at the park. Most of the time I stay at home with the much needed quiet and catch up on work that might have slipped through my fingers during the week.
We’re under a time crunch with the people coming to take the trailer by the weekend of the 27th. Dom is also going out of town for a few days. I’m often left scratching my head wondering how it will all come together! It’s overwhelming at times.
Not much has happened with the roastery because when we got rid of the first trailer, some of our furniture was being stored in it. We had to move our stuff into the roastery. See, constant flux! We’ll be moving one of our bell tents near the back of the roastery and using it as a storage tent. Once the roastery is completely cleaned out, we can start stuffing the walls with straw light clay.
On the back of the roastery, some of the lumber and roofing from the trailer were used to build an overhang for Ruby my coffee roaster.
This coming weekend Dom will shoot to have another overhang and platform built for the washer and dryer. They were located in the porch that Dom took down. We’ll be moving them to the back where our bathroom is and the washing machine will be plumbed into the hot and cold water. The gray water from the washer will run through a series of brown filters before it empties into the new garden near the roastery.
These are all the little roadblocks that were in the way before we could get down to business!
We were supposed to close on our property the end of August, but the title company was pretty busy, so our new closing is October 1st. We’ve had inspections done. The well inspection passed, and then the septic fun started. Gus Faust was our septic inspector. He did an amazing job, worked with us trying to figure out exactly where the septic even was, and finally unearthing it so it could be inspected. It’s a great system that was installed in the 90’s in perfect condition. The one thing about the system is that there was an addition built onto the front of the rig, and we need to remove it. The septic needs a clearance of 5′ all around it.
That’s another roadblock that needs to be cleared.
Gus removing soil on top of the septic tank to inspect it.
Our shitter isn’t full! Haha Yeah, I had fun putting Cousin Ed on our tank.
Next steps are to remove the front addition. We’ll be reusing all the lumber for a small addition on the side of the roastery. Below is a photo of what would work on the side. To the right of the roastery was where the first trailer was. Now that it’s gone, we can build a patio and the addition for coffee tastings and events.
There have been so many roadblocks but I’m very glad for them. It has caused us to slow down a bit and rethink how we want to move forward. In the process, we have gained new experience as well as insight into what is really important to us. If it wasn’t for the addition needing to be taken apart, I would have never even considered putting an addition on the side of the roastery. Sure, it will take a bit longer, but man, is it going to be fantastic.
I was gonna try and go at breakneck speed to get our market garden completed but then decided that breaking my neck for a few veggies is low on my list of priorities. With the two dogs no longer around, the deer have come and decided that they aren’t afraid of us so they have been hanging out in the garden eating up all my cucumbers. They can’t resist all the acorns that are falling from the oaks. They haven’t touched our peppers…yet! But I feel that one of these days I’ll go out and see all my plants topped.
We’ll finish up the market garden sometime this fall, and start marking the new kitchen garden as well. With our coffee business ramping up and getting ready for homeschooling Simmi in mid-September, I’m still learning how to balance it all. We go at a snail’s pace, but I enjoy every frustrating moment of it all.
We cherish firelight evenings in our tent as Simmi reads to us. The soft glow causes us to calm our brains down and enjoy our time together. After the addition is put onto the roastery, we will be turning our attention to building a winter two room shelter. Most of what will be used will be gathered from our property. Dom has been designing it over the last several weeks. We could go through the winter in our tents, but we’d like to pack them away until late spring and then put them back up for guests in a new location.
I love cabins with living roofs, so that is what we are going to work towards. I can’t wait until we can break ground to start this project.
Our lives have been a flurry of activity…and I love it!
“Givers need to set limits because takers rarely do.” ~Rachel Wolchin
The month of June we’ve summed up with the phrase, “the shit show.” There were a lot personal things that happened to us as a family. Things that I’m not at liberty to discuss because I would never out someone for personal satisfaction. I will, however, talk about us during the shit show.
Dom and I have always felt we had much to give. At times we give until it hurts, and then we give some more. But we don’t give blindly. We give to others based on patterns we see in their lives. If we feel they are doing all they can but just can’t seem to get it all together, we’ll come alongside and help in whatever way it might be. It could be a construction project, helping to pay a bill or two, a listening ear, a meal, or even just some coffee to let them know they’re thought of fondly. We give as we see the needs open up. It’s in our nature.
It led us to Maine and on that crazy odyssey I’ve written about on our website. Helping others. Yes. Being taken advantage…yes, that happened too.
But this isn’t a sob story about how others have wronged us. This is a song of victory about how we find out who our people are and who is just using us. Sob stories always involve someone who was “trying” to help someone and got burned. They got bilked out of their money or life savings or some other story like that. It’s the little old lady who’s pills were taken by the unsuspecting drug addict posing as a kind neighbor. Or the lovely but lonely person who had their things stolen by someone who claimed to be a friend.
Crimes happen most often by people the victims knew.
This is similar to what we’ve been through. However, the difference is that as we came to understand we were being taken for a “ride,” we put our foot down and said no…no more.
But does that work? Nope.
We blame ourselves only and take full responsibility for our actions that led to others taking too much from us. No one else is to blame. As soon as we saw that our time and money have been siphoned away from us, we put a stop to it.
There are patterns that we’ve learned over this last year that I feel have helped us reach the end chapter of our four-year odyssey. These patterns are important to understand especially if we want to move forward in our lives.
These patterns don’t look like patterns because it takes time for them to form. When friends and family are involved, the lines to those patterns become fuzzy, blurred, or missing altogether.
How do we really know who needs our help? How do we help without becoming jaded and losing all faith in humanity when we get burned?
The answer, we discovered, has more to do with their conduct and less to do with how we want to help. We used to help others because we didn’t want to see them suffer. It seems noble right? Well, I’m here to tell you that in our case it was nothing more than not wanting to feel BAD or guilty…especially if it was in our power to help. Did you get what I just said? It would seem that our desire to help certain people was really done out of an alterior motive of not wanting to feel bad. It really had nothing to do with the other person.
Now, add to the mix, someone who has done something terrible to your family. They lied, they stole from you, took all your time, and then cried and flipped it all on its head to make us the bad guys. What do we do in that situation? Do we cave in and just let it go? Or do we love ourselves enough not to do something because we feel “bad.” Emotions are powerful things. When people start using your emotions against you, that should be a red flag.
Let’s talk about red flags!
Red flags are those almost invisible things that warn you someone is trying to pull one over on you or isn’t who they keep claiming to be.
My list of red flags:
Someone who never quite gives you all the details, but claims they were wronged. They need help, but you can’t seem to get the truth out of them.
A person who at first seemed to hit it off with you, but over time they pull away and you are left as the only one who communicates with them, and instead of good communication you get a vague sentence or two about nothing at all. You might be willing to chalk it up to “hey we all get busy with our lives” but don’t go there. Just because YOU get busy, doesn’t mean that person who is always on their phone or computer, is busy.
The time suck. This is a HUGE red flag. If a good majority of your own personal free time is taken up with someone else’s problems, which they refuse to handle themselves, you are being taken for a long hard ride down victim ally. Don’t go there. Examples would include doing hard physical labor for someone who could do it themselves but want you to do it for them for free. Driving them places because they no longer have valid insurance due to nonpayment. Paying their bills because they spent their money on “wants” not needs and don’t even have a job or work schedule is sketchy.
Someone asking you to be responsible for their _________ fill in the blank, because they can’t do it. They don’t want to face the consequences for their actions, they want you to be responsible for their stuff or life in general, and will make you feel guilty if you don’t do it. This has a LOT to do with paying for someone else’s lifestyle choices. BLOOD SOAKED RED FLAG.
Someone who claims they have done so much for you, however, nothing was given freely. Instead, you paid fair and square. It would be like if someone sold you a car for $12,000. The car had great sentimental value to the seller. You purchased the car from them. You go on your merry way, and later on, the seller comes back to you wanting something, and when you refuse, they claimed they did something great for you. What did they do? They sold you a car, you purchased the car. It wasn’t given to you. You purchased it with your hard earned money. Don’t ever let anyone make you believe that they gave you so much when there was a price tag attached and you paid in full.
Someone who claims to be one way and talks all the time about being honest, ethical, moral (fill in the blank), and by their constant actions prove they are liars and the opposite of what they claim. Liars always tell the truth…remember that! They’ll tell you with their actions when their words betray them.
If you’re investing more time and money into a friendship and it doesn’t seem that it’s a reciprocal relationship, it might be time to reprioritize. What is happening is that you are allowing yourself to be used, and it isn’t a friendship at all.
Those are just a few red flags. There are many more that I could write, but this post isn’t about red flags. It’s about understanding ourselves and how we move forward despite having our asses handed to us because of the decisions we made.
I refuse to be a victim. One thing both Dom and I say to each other when we feel wronged is, “Victim is not a good look on you.” That is code for change your attitude, you did this to yourself.
It doesn’t mean that we sweep being wronged under the rug. No, on the contrary, it means that we hold those who have wronged us responsible. To not hold them accountable is to remain a victim. We hold them to account for what they have done to us. We do this because we love ourselves and each other. I would never allow anyone to take advantage of my husband’s generous nature. If I saw it happening, I’d nip it immediately. But when we have together made decisions to allow certain people into our lives or to give when we don’t know the full story, we invite uncertainty and become vulnerable. There’s strength in vulnerability and we’ve learned to embrace it. It says to the new person in our lives, “We have no reason not to trust you, but if you give us a reason we will have no choice but to let you go.”
Letting go of people or situations is difficult for some. In a way, it means giving up. But not to us. Letting go is how we say “I love you” to our own souls. It dares us to allow our souls to shine. It dares us to keep our hearts soft and malleable when all our emotions want us to recoil in bitterness and resentment. Letting go also means that those you’ve invested your time and love into are being released from your life. It’s like grieving the loss of a friend or family member while they are still alive.
For us, letting go of friendships have been difficult. We love deeply and fully, and when we need to say goodbye, we realize just how much we’ve invested. When we realize that we made the right choice in letting go of someone, we get to see what they are really made of.
This brings us to the chorus of our victory song, so to speak….
When a friendship or relationship ends, you get to see their true colors unless their true colors were there all along hiding in plain sight. No, the chorus of our victory song is about making the correct choice in ending a friendship and watching that person become destructive, vindictive, and violent as a consequence of our decision. These are all real actions. The person who says they love peace, truth, and love, but destroys your property and puts your child at risk…which would be more accurate? Their words or their actions? It doesn’t feel good while something violent is being done, but it becomes a solidification that you did the right thing in letting that person go.
I might strike a nerve with some in what I’ve expressed. Mostly because we all want to give. But you are responsible for your giving. You might believe that you are doing it out of good will because your heart hurts for this person in need. Just remember, regardless of the outcome of your giving, you are still responsible for your actions. Giving to others never absolves you from being accountable for your actions. Giving to others is very similar to making an investment in something. Would you invest in a company on the stock market that would lose all your money or would you invest wisely? What would happen if you invested and all your money was lost? Would you blame the company or your decision-making process? I know that I wouldn’t blame the company if they lost money, I’d hold myself accountable for not doing the do diligence it takes to make a wise investment.
Relationships are almost the same as investing in stocks except that with bad relationships if you’re not careful you could end up losing your integrity if you don’t stay true to your soul. And that is more costly than any dollar figure you could throw out there.
As we close the last chapter of Our Nightmare Four Year Odyssey, I can say with all certainty that investing in the right relationships will help heal the wounds from bad investments. Forgive yourselves for making the wrong choices, and love yourself enough to make new friends. Invest in yourself by being a true friend to your soul. You won’t be disappointed and it will help you recover from the emotional pain of being personally accountable.
“The way you do anything is the way you do everything”Martha N. Beck
Getting back into the swing of farm life is more challenging this time around than when we had our organic CSA in Los Lunas, NM. Back 8 years ago, we spent the first six months rehabbing the house (it was a real shit hole!) and then started doing earthworks and planting trees. A little garden in front, fruit trees to anchor the different growing spaces and that was about it until the following year when we laid the work for our farm. I didn’t have work outside the home so I could concentrate on planning and getting seeds and trees. All our time from morning till night was spent advancing our goals. We learned about life and death on the farm. We also learned about loss. About who we could trust and who we needed to avoid, it happens with families. But no matter who we slice it, we have always done things the same way.
The saying, “The way you do anything is the way you do everything” applies so fittingly to me in my daily life. I don’t wait for things to manifest before I’m willing to make something happen. I keep moving, keep striving, keep motivated. It’s in my nature. I still wake up amazed by all the life growing up around me. Berries ripening, invasive plants I try to become friends with, small critters who live among us curious about who we are. It’s how I do life…every day.
Back when we operated Luna Hill Heritage Farm, I ran around all day trying to get everything done. Animals to feed and care for, plants to harvest, seeds to sew, weed pressure, bug pressure, making meals, homeschooling, spending time with my family, trying to maintain friendships.
Can it all be done?
Yes. But there needs to be balance. Daily. If our lives are consumed with putting out fires all day long, that is how our lives will be. One big knot of worry and chaos. I know I always bite off more than I can chew, but this year I’m learning to pace myself.
The list of things that needs to be done in this place grows by the day like a hungry monster. I need to constantly re-prioritize everything according to what’s going on, especially since this time around we are also building our coffee business. With our coffee company in its first full swing of commercial coffee orders coming in (we put our business in a time out while we got settled), weaving in chicken feedings and watering my little seedlings get shifted a bit.
Here’s a list of all the things that need to be accomplished before we can even start our market garden. My hope is to have our first fall crops in the ground by mid-July:
Horse tape needs to be finished
Brush around tape needs to be cleared
Move horses onto pasture full time
Chicken coop/compost run needs to be completed
Set up feeding and water station near the coop for chickens and ducks
Move chickens to the new coop
Turn compost piles
Install a permanent tomato bed on the west side of the compost chicken run and plant tomatoes (by mid-June)
Make new soil from compost for market garden
Finish adding old manure to market garden beds
Finish forming the market garden beds
Weed the market garden
Purchase 150- 1/2″x10′ PVC, 10- 1″x10′ PVC, and rebar to create low tunnels for market garden beds
Purchase 6ml greenhouse plastic for market garden
Purchase two bolts of tulle for market garden
Purchase 100′ hose and high-velocity sprinkler for market garden
Purchase 4-way splitter
Purchase pond liner for the duck pond
Put up new fencing around the duck run and pond
All that has to be completed by mid-July if we’re going to get crops in the ground for the fall. All the warm season fruits and veggies are in the teepee greenhouse waiting for when it will be safe enough to be planted outside. I would like to get them in the ground by mid-June the earliest. We’ve learned living in the high desert that warm season crop seedlings become desiccated by our dry winds, have to tolerate high fluctuations in temperature variations between daytime and nighttime, and can be hit with an unseasonable hard late frost. In my experience, it has always been more than one late frost. The high desert is not the easiest place to grow food, but once you learn how your area of the high desert functions, you can plan accordingly.
One of the biggest mistakes people make when planning a garden is believing that because it might have been unseasonably warm one year or for the last 10 years, that everything will be okay and you can start planting those tomatoes in mid-May. If those crops are covered at night and for freak weather events, then yes, by all means, get those babies into the soil. For me? I’m not so quick to do that. This is our first year growing things in the Gila Forest. The microclimate here is beautiful but just as unpredictable as a college kid on spring break!
Our ongoing holdup at the moment is the chickens. They’re everywhere and until they are contained fulltime in their new space, my hands are tied and I’m limited to what I can accomplish.
I’ve had a few plants sitting outside and so far the chickens haven’t bothered with them. Honeysuckle, trumpet vine, Spanish lavender, and rhubarb. It would be a different story, however, if I were to put them into the ground! The first thing those chickens would do would be to scratch and dig at the base of the plants. They can’t do that when the plants are still in pots. So I wait and work on the endless list of other things that also need my attention. Like property cleanup, cutting down dead trees and branches, painting and rehabbing the business hub, chicken proofing my coffee roasting area. That one was big! I thought I was going to go on a chicken killing spree when they got into the area where I roast coffee and crapped all over the floor. Something about the new set up made them say, “Hey! This is the PERFECT place to throw a party and crap all over the clean stainless steel table and floor! Woohooo!” Yeah, it took me an hour just to clean it all up and sanitize the work table. Then I chicken proofed it. My insane need for cleanliness when it comes to my coffee roasting area almost sent me to the loony bin. We also learned that you can’t leave the door open to the business hub because the chickens will walk right in and make themselves at home. Oh, and forget trying to work with any kind of tools. One of the chickens decided to make Dom’s tool area the perfect place to sit and learn how to build something. I think she’s was mostly entertained by Dom’s work habits. I find him highly entertaining and watch him often. Maybe the chickens got that from me?
Yeah, they need to go into the coop!
“The way you do anything is the way you do everything.”
What are the things you do on a daily basis and end up being the way you do everything in life? What is the reoccurring theme? Are there things you wish could be different? I know I’m always working to improve daily habits. I’m my own worst enemy at times. But still, here I go…full steam ahead!
It has been six weeks since we moved here, and it has been six weeks of being betrayed. Betrayal is a nasty word and one that is only fitting for our situation. Our lives have been filled with joy, happiness, inspiration, and wonder. Simmi is acclimating to life in our semi-wild location. Dom has been busy with work. Sara has been working around the land and taking care of the horses.
And me? Betrayed by my own body. My autoimmune problems have gone away, but in its place comes my clumsy ways where I bang into walls, trip over small sticks, bang my head on corners of cabinets, lose my balance standing on the first step of a ladder, and cramp my hands up so bad that I can barely pick up an ax or hammer without it slipping through my fingers.
It all started when Simmi destroyed the zippers (both sets!) on her tent. The first set is on the outside of the tent, and the second set is on the screen. You see, she LOVES to make a small opening in the tent, and then dive in. There is no time to unzip the tent properly because what’s the fun in that?! No, this child wants to dive through the smallest opening possible. I kept telling her not to do that because she’ll damage the tent, but she didn’t believe me.
And then it happened. Both zippers broke. It’s not like we can take the tent down and just run it through my sewing machine to repair it. I have to sew it all by hand. The key word is hand. I had zippers from the extra tent we have, so I removed them and started sewing. It took four hours to get the first set of zippers properly attached. My hands were so cramped it was difficult to type or do any work. It took nearly a week for my hands to start working properly. Once they were somewhat recovered, I had to get the second set of zippers put on because a storm was coming.
Six more hours of sewing the outer zipper. This zipper was more of a challenge because of the thickness of the canvas. After I finished the second set, I could barely move my hands. I was betrayed by my own body. But I did it to myself. I pushed through and destroyed myself.
Six weeks of being betrayed.
My hands are finally getting back to normal. I still have problems with fine motor skills and typing is somewhat of a problem, but I can use my ax again without fear of it slipping out of my hand and cutting open my head or leg, or anyone standing in close proximity. Being accident prone is something I’ve always had to contend with, but when hands are so cramped they can’t do what they’re told, it makes my issues with banging into things and falling even worse.
It’s kind of like when you bang your toe on something and then all the sudden you keep banging it in that same area. When I fall because I tripped over a small twig or leaves (yes, I’ve tripped over a leaf last week) and my hands aren’t working properly, my fall is even worse because I can’t catch myself.
Beyond my quirky accident-prone ways, things are going great here. Here are some photos of the goings on around here…
Dom built a temporary teepee greenhouse. The poles were taken from trees the horses stripped.
We originally wanted to use our leftover plastic furniture wrap. It kept snagging and ripping so we ended up using some plastic we had laying around.
I sewed fabric straps to anchor onto the outside. Dom will need to attach them where I can’t reach. The straps keep the plastic from moving and provides a way for me to string up the outside and inside of the teepee to prevent the plastic from moving too much in the wind.
We added a door lined with chicken wire to prevent the chickens from getting in. They have been conspiring all week to get in and eat my little sprouts. We’ll be adding bricks to the front since it gets pretty muddy at the entrance.
The door was made from branches and attached with some old cabinet hinges we had. Making this little greenhouse was fun and it didn’t cost any money to make.
The seedlings have been enjoying their new home. We currently have artichokes coming up in the aquaponic system and next week they’ll be moved to the greenhouse.
I’ve had this cutie pie with the most adorable little freckles helping to move the seedlings into the greenhouse.
See what I mean? As I was stripping the bark off the poles, the chickens were plotting the great seedling heist. A few of them managed to get in there and I had to chase them out.
My girl has the best laugh.
She loves playing cards with her dad. She likes to trash talk while playing. It’s hilarious. When I hear Dom and Simmi playing, and she’ll say to Dom as she wins, “Eat it old man!”
I love him.
We started building the chicken compost run. It’s made from wood that was laying on the property, screwed together and lashed with jute. The side walls will have welded wire attached, and chicken wire will line the top. We have a nice stinky pile of compost under that tarp. On the right side is where the horses are (they’ll be moved soon to the pasture full time), when they are out of the area I’ll be putting tomatoes on that side. Tomatoes can handle compost so it will be a good set up and it will shade the compost pile and the chickens towards the end of the day. We’ll also be adding honeysuckle and trumpet vine to the chicken run to shade the girls all summer. They’ll also attract many pollinators for the garden.
At the close of Sunday evening a few weeks ago, Dom was frustrated, hot, bothered, and ready to be done. We pushed through the dehydration and cramping hands during mid-day in the hot sun because we needed to get the chicken run covered with chicken wire to protect the posts from the horses. Yet, even with a torn meniscus and working on the uneven ground all dehydrated and weather-worn, the end of the day scowl was the only thing showing his pain. I feel fortunate to have such an amazing person to walk through this life with. When he came home from work he apologized to me for the way he handled the day. I was unsure why he needed to apologize. He said, “I love that we get to work together, but I know I could have made the whole day more fun for both of us. Instead, I barreled through and made everything a chore.” What he doesn’t understand is that every moment I spend with him is heaven, and the fact that he would apologize and want to make it even better rocks my world.
We have wild grape vines setting their fruit. We’ll be cutting back most of the vines in this area and grafting different types of table grapes to them. We’ll be putting up a pergola for Farm to Table events and the new grapes will grace the pergola.
I got my hands on the last pot of Spanish lavender. I’ll be taking cuttings to make a lot of lavender that will grow down the driveway and in the potager garden and well, everywhere else. I love lavender!
Scored some rhubarb and I’ll be planting it next week.
When the Benadryl hits hard, goofy faces happen.
Sara is loading horse manure onto each of the market garden beds. Soon we’ll dig the pathways and form the beds.
Hopefully, in the next few weeks, my hands will be fully recovered. In the meantime, I’ll be busy creating new plants from cuttings, planting more seeds, continuing to work on the market garden, and working on the business hub. Now that I can type again, I can also start writing more blog posts!
Oh, and in two months we’ll be welcoming some ducklings! I’m so excited about that. We’ll be driving to Arizona to pick up Dutch Hookbill Ducklings. I haven’t decided how many we’ll purchase, yet. This month I’ll be ordering the pond liner and getting the duck area ready. It’ll take a month to get all the rocks moved into their pond.
Pictured above is a Dutch Hookbill Duck. We’ll be getting our ducklings from someone who is preserving this breed in Arizona. She’s an excellent photographer as well!
This unique and very old Dutch breed of duck is thought to have originated in the Netherlands between the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries in the province of Noord-Holland. As the name implies, the breed is characterized by its downward curving beak, setting it apart from other duck breeds. It is believed that this trait was particularly useful to duck breeders in making it easier for hunters to distinguish Hookbills from wild ducks that inhabited the same areas as the domesticated birds. In Holland these ducks were managed in the waterways and canals of the countryside and they were expected to forage for most of their own food. Today they are still among the best foragers of domestic ducks. According to the Dutch Association of Breeders of Domesticated Waterfowl (Nederlandse Vereniging van fokkers van gedomesticeerd watervogels) the Hookbill duck and the Noord-Holland White Breasted duck (also known as the Witborst duck) had similar genealogies. Their exact origin has never been determined but it is speculated that the breeds developed from early importations of Indian Runners. This idea is supported by J. Bonenkamp in the magazine Avicultura (8/1990) where he accounts of finding pure Hookbill ducks among groups of ducks in East India.
The unique appearance of the Hookbill made them desirable as ornamental birds but early on the Hookbill was known for being excellent layers of eggs. That combined with their remarkable foraging capability made the breed widely popular on Dutch farms. In Holland, in the 18th century ducks were provided a place to nest and feed while they were brooding, then ducks and ducklings were all sent out to the surrounding wetlands to forage for their own food and received no further supplemental food. The wings of the ducklings were clipped to make them easier to catch later. By mid-August the birds were gathered and sent to market in Purmerend, where they were purchased by duck keepers who would use them for egg production. The birds kept for breeding were selected to be sturdy and disease resistant, self-sufficient, adaptable to new circumstances, and efficient layers needing less food than other breeds in order to be productive.
The Dutch Hookbill breed declined in the 20th century due to a diminished market for duck eggs and the effect of increasingly polluted waterways that served as their home. By 1980 the Hookbill was nearly extinct, but through a Dutch effort led by Hans van de Zaan, the last 15 birds were collected and used to start a conservation breeding program in the Netherlands.
Dave Holderread was among the first to import the Dutch Hookbill into the United States in 2000. He found that there were three bill types in the population: extreme curve, moderate curve, and straight. In his book Storey’s Guide to Raising Ducks (2011), Holderread outlines that the most effective breeding strategy was to cross birds with moderately curved beaks to each other or an extremely curved beaked bird with a straight beaked bird as the best breeding options. He found that crosses between birds with extreme curved beaks had poor egg fertility. There are still very few primary breeding flocks of Dutch Hookbills in the United States.
Dutch Hookbill ducks have excellent flight capability, especially younger individuals. The birds reach sexual maturity very quickly by around 16 weeks of age. Healthy ducks can be expected to lay anywhere from 100 – 225+ eggs per year. They come in three primary color variations: dusky, white, and white-bibbed dusky. Other colors exist but not in great numbers here in the US. The Hookbill is a remarkable breed that deserves a second look as a viable and efficient egg producer for small scale farming.
There have been a lot of questions about our decision to live in tents, and I thought I would take some time to answer them. Some answers are easy, others are a little more involved and deserve a more detailed explanation.
Before I start, I thought I would share a video from one of our TV shows, Parks and Recreation. This episode scene was about camping. Not as a lifestyle choice like we’ve decided, but I think it gives a funny representation of what different people think of when they get a chance to go camping:
Camping conjures many images to the mind. Some are fascinated by our decision to live in tents, while others say, “Yeah, but why?” As they smirk unsupportively.
I’ve compiled a list of questions that were asked of us over the last six months from family and friends.
1. What’s the point in living in a tent? Did I miss something?
This question is the most obvious but deserves the most attention. There are a few reasons we chose to live this way. Our number one reason…it’s the most economical. It seems like that should be the first thing that people think of when they ask the question, but for whatever reason, it’s not the solution they would come up with. Economically it makes financial sense to not be tied to a massive mortgage! We didn’t want to make a commitment to a bank to spend 30+ years of our lives paying for an overpriced house and land AND that doesn’t even include the interest we would be paying. No. That wasn’t for us. We made the decision to live in a remote rural area where it takes an hour or more to get to a supermarket. There is no major industry in our local area, and to try and get a mortgage requires one of us to have steady 40 hour per week work that is consistent day after day and year after year.
That wasn’t for us. We already went the route of owning a house and land with a big mortgage and it required Dom to work two jobs. His commute time was 40 minutes each way, and when he was done with his main job, he went right to his second job. On the weekends, if he wasn’t on the schedule to be at work, he was digging ditches, doing earthworks, digging garden beds, and laying our farm infrastructure. This is NOT sustainable. He was burning out and exhausted. We live on one income. Our daughter is disabled and very early in her life we made the decision that I would be the primary caretaker during the day. I know that sounds strange since most families with disabled children still work multiple jobs, but due to her food allergies and her neurological disorder, she was most safe at home with us.
Living on land we own in tents while we build our farm infrastructure AND emerging coffee company makes good financial sense. It is a sacrifice of sorts, but not much. We still have a building on the property that contains electricity, running water, and a bathroom, but even if we didn’t have that we were planning on building one from scratch. Having access to the current structure affords us the ability to jump in quickly and be fluid with our coffee company. That was important to us. If we didn’t have the building to work from, we just would have made it happen from a tent. Not a big deal at all.
The second reason for living in a tent is that is completely free of all electricity, the tent can breathe, and it is by far the healthiest environment that we’ve ever slept in. Conventional housing contains some pretty nasty environmental toxins. If there was a leaky roof or water damage and the owner did not address the issue, I suffer. Most (almost ALL) landlords are quick to claim that they have never had a water damaged building. Oh no, they would say, our building is clean! Until I start losing my hair, my breathing becomes labored, and I have an autoimmune flareup. Mold always triggers an autoimmune flare up. Hair dye also triggers an autoimmune flareup, but I haven’t dyed my hair in years. I know my triggers.
Our tents are not moldy, they breathe and provide the best living experience for us to date.
2. Aren’t you cold at night?
It’s chilly right now. We all have different thoughts about what we can handle when it comes to the cold. Living in a regular home with heat, we became accustomed to having the heat set at night to about 70 degrees. However, when we lived in our little place in Reserve, Dom and I didn’t have the heat on at night. We did have a little electric heater for Simmi in her room, but that was set low. Usually, the nightly temperature in our house was about 30 degrees in the winter after the fire died down in the wood stove. We did have propane heaters as well, but we didn’t use them because the odor from the propane bothered us. That sort of prepared us for the cold nights. Until we moved into our tents, that is…
The first night we slept in our tent, the temperature got down to 22 degrees. We were snuggled under the covers (we have a heavy down comforter) and Simmi sleeps under six blankets all year long. Yes, even in the summer. It’s weird, I know. Anyway, while 22 degrees is pretty cold, we were very warm, and sleeping in the crisp cutting cold air was actually refreshing. I never would have thought that especially since most of my life my body temperature has always been low. I freeze even in the summer. I can wear a sweater all year and still be chilly.
The thing that happens when you live outside most of the day, is that you become acclimated to the cold. We as a society are used to being in 70-72 degrees year round. During the winter thermostats are set to 65-70 and during the summer, air conditioning is set to 70-75 degrees. That’s a lot of money wasted via electricity or gas to keep you warm or cool.
We have wood stoves for our tents but we haven’t set them up. It’s spring and it won’t drop below 20 degrees. We can handle that. This year in the fall, we will set up our wood stoves but we don’t intend to feed the fire through the night. It’s not necessary.
The biggest takeaway living in tents during the cold seasons is to make sure you’re properly dressed and that you have warm bedding. That’s about it. If you’re comfortable (not shivering) there’s no need to worry about the cold. I worried a bit about Simmi being able to handle the cold, but she’s proven herself to be far more robust than I gave her credit for. We were prepared to set up a special propane heater (doesn’t give off the propane smell) in her tent at night if she got upset about the cold…but she didn’t. She falls right to sleep in the crisp air and wakes up refreshed and ready for the day. No complaints. Wanna know when the complaints start? When we’re in the business hub starting a fire in the wood stove in the morning. We fire it up while we’re making breakfast, and she sits there like she’s freezing to death while the stove is generating heat. Why does she do that? Well, that’s exactly what she did when we lived in the little adobe in Reserve. Every morning she would sit in front of the wood stove complaining about how cold she was. This was why I worried about her not having heat in the tent in the first place. It turns out, it’s just a habit of hers. She likes to complain about being cold while she’s getting warm. Go figure!
3. Don’t you miss modern technology?
We have all the creature comforts of electricity, internet, phone, heat, bathroom facilities, and running water. We lack for nothing. We live in two worlds currently. Our business hub which is being rehabbed contains all the creature comforts we have been accustomed to. We aren’t interested in living without those amenities, we just want them to be separate from our living space, aka, our camp.
I LOVE technology. Never forget that for a moment. If I could still have an active cell phone in my possession, I would! I am a technology whore. I would do anything for it. It also lead to me becoming electro-hypersensitive (EHS). No more blue tooth devices, streaming wirelessly, cell phones, or wifi. I used to LOVE wifi! No wires or cords anywhere. That was my favorite. But do you want to know what I love more than wireless capability? The fact that our daughter’s learning disabilities are dissolving. Since being in this place without any wifi signals and no cell coverage, Simmi is now reading and comprehending. She used to HATE to try and read, and now she can’t wait to read us a story. That is a huge win, and it wasn’t a coincidence.
4. How do you light your tent up without electricity?
This was a big question. I guess when we’re all used to having technology we never think of alternatives. We currently use taper candles which give off the greatest light and when you combine it with the beauty of the off-white canvas tents, the glow of the candles becomes magical in the tent and from the outside. I love how our tents seem to glow at night. We’ve found that two taper candles light our tent well, three taper candles make it quite bright. We do also have oil lamps, but Simmi and I can’t handle the odor they give off, especially in a confined space. If we’re outside at night, oil lamps work great, but while in our tents or if we’re in the hub after dark, we use candles. Yes, even in the hub we use alternative light source at night if we’re not at camp.
However, one thing that has changed in our habits is that we try to head down to camp at sunset or before. There have been times during these two weeks that we were in the hub after dark, but we’ve made a point to change.
We know all too well what happens with farm life. Before you know it, it takes over. There are so many projects, too many things on the list that still need to be done, that our personal lives start to disappear. It happened to us when we previously had a CSA. We would be up till all hours of the night trying to get personal things done because all our time during the day until night was spent on outdoor projects.
I’m more interested in balance these days.
The funny thing about candles is that nowadays candles are used for “romance.” No one thinks of using them instead of light bulbs. But that’s why we’re called Firelight Farm. We do have a flashlight, but we need to get a red filter on it. Artificial light after dark is really bad for our circadian rhythm. Artificial light at night turns off the body’s ability to use melatonin which helps us go to sleep at night. Also, melatonin is very important in the regulation of female hormones. I wouldn’t be surprised if women who have problems regulating their hormones or go into early menopause do so because of the habitual use of technology and artificial lights after dark. If you’re up all night and can’t sleep, shut off all your devices (unplug and power them down), turn off all lights and use candles instead. Shut down the electric where you sleep and above all shut off the wifi! It raises blood pressure, blood sugar, cortisol levels, and causes all kinds of physical problems.
We are only awake for a little while after we get to camp. So far we have used a total of 4 taper candles in two weeks.
5. You’ve mentioned that you were going to have an outdoor kitchen and full bathroom, but I haven’t seen that yet and I’m so curious? Please post pics!
We are planning on building two outdoor kitchens. The first one is our personal camp kitchen not open to the public. The second is our farm to table outdoor kitchen for events we are planning. We are hoping to start our personal camp kitchen by mid-May after we finish rehabbing the business hub. We currently have composting toilets down at camp, but when we build our full freestanding bathroom at camp, it will be complete with flush toilet. We don’t have a date for when the bathroom will be started.
6. Will you plan on living in tents for the rest of your life?
That would be a resounding no, although, we are well on our way to becoming feral. Our plan is to continue building our coffee business, our farm infrastructure, then build a coffee roastery and commercial kitchen. After that, we will turn our attention to building our house and Sara’s house. Our intent is to build all our structures from the materials on our land or obtained locally and/or repurposed.
7. Are you afraid of wild animals and bugs?
Yes and no. Wild animals are here in the Gila Wilderness. We live in an area that has snakes, bears, mountain lions, skunks, wolves, coyotes, eagles, hawks, scorpions, poisonous spiders, fire ants, and more. Our plans are to build a perimeter around our tents to guard against any dangerous animals, but it has been a low priority. If we start to hear coyotes, foxes, and wolves at night, we’ll step up our game and add fencing.
One of the more pleasant things about camping in fall, winter, and early spring is the lack of bugs…other than flies. When there are farm animals there always seems to be flies. We’re in growing zone 7B which means the winter months don’t get too cold and during the day it warms up nicely here. No need for more than a light jacket during the day in winter. This will be our first summer here, so I’m not sure what kinds of bugs will be active and desperately trying to get into our tents. Haha, We will us diatomaceous earth in the nooks and crannies of our tents as well outside around the base of the tent, but other than that, we don’t use bug spray or other types of chemicals.
Those are the majority of the reoccurring questions we get about our current lifestyle. And make no mistake, this is a lifestyle choice.
Many who have been camping might wonder how we could ever do this. We have our very comfortable beds and bed frames, area rug, and our special chairs, and clothes in our tent. All the comforts we would have had in our past bedroom are in our tent. Simmi has her very comfy mattress, dresser, all her favorite blankets, clothes. What more does one keep in their bedroom? How much room do you need? We spend 7-9 hours per night in our bedrooms. That is a long time each day. That is the same every day of the year, and it’s the same in a tent. I don’t think I would be happy sleeping in a sleeping bag on the hard floor or even on a cot. I wouldn’t be happy waking up and putting my feet down on shifty tarp that’s hard to clean or keep clean. I know that I wouldn’t be happy in a thin vinyl tent that feels like a hobo motel!
That is not my idea of camping full time for the next few years. We live very well here. Anyone that will come to stay with us for the week (family or friends) will stay in a tent like ours, with a comfortable bed, warm blankets, and clean sheets. They won’t be sleeping in a vinyl tent and sleeping bag on the ground. If they visit in the winter, they’ll have heat from a wood stove that they will have the option of using through the night.
Any other questions? Leave a comment, I would be happy to answer them…if I have the answer.
We did it. Finally, at long last, we are getting settled on our land. There were a few things that changed prior to moving onto the land and it worked out really well, but we needed to shift our plans. Originally we were planning on building our coffee company’s business hub along with our bathroom and outdoor kitchen. However, our friends who would have lived right next door to us decided to move and made their three RVs and workshop available to us. This was a godsend. I was under the gun (Dom was too!) to get Buffalo Mountain up and running as soon as possible which would have meant that our coffee company would operate from inside one of our bell tents until the building was finished. But now we will be rehabbing the main RV, it will become the business hub until we build our roastery and commercial kitchen.
The RV was a large Winnabego and four rooms were added onto the RV to give them a bit more space. This was their landing pad for when they build their dream home…but their plans changed. I can relate for sure. I can’t tell you how many times our plans have changed within just a week or two. Anyway, we are super thrilled to have the opportunity to transition our coffee company fairly quickly. One room will be used for my art studio, the second room will be used as our office, the third room was created to make the bathroom much bigger, and the fourth room which is located in the front of the RV will be used for handling coffee, bagging up products.
The way we were operating Buffalo Mountain before was extremely tight. We had only one room to use for EVERYTHING. If I needed to put together coffee wedding favors for 100 guests, the room needed to be cleared out so that I could work on the art for the front of the favors. The largest wedding I’ve done had 200 guests and I needed to get everything done in a room that only fit a 3×6′ table.
I’m also a hardcore introvert, so having two extroverts bopping around (one who is with me 24/7) and only having a small space to work was challenging to say the least.
But we made it work.
And now I have a room for each important part of our coffee company. I no longer need to have my office in our bedroom or trying to teach Simmi a new lesson since I homeschool her at the table that I need to work at. She now has her very own special nook for her art projects, beads, and her little tv.
The front of the hub, pictured above, will be painted and finished. They were in the process of building the rooms which were ingeniously created from pallets. The inside is still unfinished, so we’ll be finishing the rooms and painting everything in the next few weeks.
We have been sleeping in our tent but didn’t get much set up down in camp. We turned our attention to getting the hub ready for all the equipment, supplies, and inventory.
Today we brought down our chairs and rug for our tent. We’ve been living like hobos for the last week. We let Simmi sleep with us while she got used to living in tents. It’s a big change for her…for all of us. Tonight she’ll sleep in her own bed in our tent and tomorrow she’ll be moved to her own tent. All her things were moved into her new space. We need to build low profile shelves for her clothes.
Even though our tents are four-season tents, we decided that because it is already spring, not to bother hooking up the woodstoves. The nights have been chilly, but our blankets and comforters are super warm. Simmi has a habit of sleeping with 6 blankets, even in the summertime. There is no way that this child of ours could be cold! The first night we were here the temperature got down to 22 degrees. Since that first night, it’s gotten much warmer at night.
We have our kitchen tent set up, but we haven’t moved our kitchen supplies in yet. We need to purchase a hose to run to our camp so we can create our kitchen sink. We have an on-demand camp water heater that hooks up to propane. Once we have our sink set up, we’ll be ready to live down there most of the day. For now, we’re cooking in the RV, and catching up with laundry.
Simmi did well going back and forth every few days with more of our boxes of things. She wasn’t happy about being crammed into one seat (she likes to sprawl) but she was a trooper.
The horses are doing well. They’re antsy to get out on pasture. Dom made some strides getting more posts up for them and now they are spending a few hours each day out there. Hopefully, in the next few weeks, we can get the rest of the posts up and the tape going for them.
I love seeing them every morning and throughout the day. They have such a beautiful presence about them.
Our kitchen tent. It’s more for eating and hanging out. We’ll be setting up a separate smaller area for our camp stove and sink.
The photo above was from our time living in Maine. It was the first time we had an outdoor kitchen and it helped to prepare us for living outside again.
Mineral Creek has been flowing. We usually cross the creek to get to our camp, but now we have to take a back road from Mogollon.
We live in such a beautiful part of Catron County.
We’ve been watching a few of our friend’s dogs and Simmi is obsessed with feeding them. They’re fatties, but for some reason, she is always concerned with their nutrition.
Our special guests until May. Puna and Bohdi. These fatties are always ready to attack with lots of love and slobbery kisses.
The round pen is up in the pasture.
There’s a swing in front of the hub and Simmi is on it at least 3 times a day.
One of the things I love so much about the land are all the sprawling scrub oak trees.
In the back of the hub is a shade garden with cactus, scrub oak and juniper.
This photo was taken at midday. The shade is a welcome addition in the heat of the day.
Another structure built with pallets. We’ll work on finishing this building too.
Inside the workshop.
This week we’ll also be working on creating a new coop for the chickens.
This past week my new bible arrived. I’m not kidding you! This book is a treasure trove of amazing ideas. Author Anna Edey created many different systems for managing graywater and blackwater from toilets. The one system I was most interested in was a composting flush toilet where worms are at the heart of the system. I’ve known about her composting flush toilet for a long time, but just ordered her book two weeks ago.
Our bathroom at our camp, along with our graywater will be created using the Solviva method. Eventually we want to convert the business hub over to this system as well.
Things are going well and we’re making great strides.
Thank you for visiting my blog. I just turned 51 years old, and as I enter the next chapter of my life, I’m so pleased to be able to share it with all of you. I am a lifelong artist, writer, vocalist, crazy organic farmer, and own and operate Buffalo Mountain Coffee Roasting Company.