The year 2020 was an over the top sensational year for us as a family. We kicked ass and took names! While the world was busy being distracted by a disease that was never isolated or identified, we continued to move forward as a family, building, repairing, organizing, and recommitting our lives to becoming more sustainable.
Sustainability is one of those red flag words used by large corporations to greenwash their products. That’s not the sustainability I’m talking about. Some might call it “primitive” living but that’s a red flag word as well! When we think of primitive, our minds conjure images of living on a dirt floor with no electricity or running water.
Is that really what primitive means? How about technologies from the 1700s? Are they primitive? Dom and I have watched one of our favorite youtube channels for years called Townsends and I love how they have been able to reenact and bring to life American History from the 1700-1800s. Now, I’m not a fan of reenacting and trying to recreate anything historic, however, I’m thankful to those who find it thrilling to geek out when they find obscure historic texts hidden in books long forgotten and then POOF! they bring it to life.
Such, I think is the case with the Townsends. I SWOON over the kitchen they created (pictured below). Not because it rejects modern life, but because it is a truly sustainable kitchen. Would we go without a modernish stove? Nope, we plan on utilizing a stove that was built in the era prior to obsolescence. That’s about how modern I wish to remain.
It’s a melding of different ways of doing things to reach our own specific goals and outcomes.
That’s all we can do really in this life. We have no desire to live fully in some romanticized historical past OR future.
We’re moving forward our way and we’re not interested in maintaining the status quo or just going along with the program. The program sucks and just as the “elite” (I call them bottom feeders) want to push for some great Reset, I would caution against thinking that this is a great idea. Remember it is the World Economic Forum (again, bottom feeders) calling for this reset because they FAILED. They are the biggest failure EVER and yet because most worship money, they think the Klaus Schawb holds the key to a new forged future. No. Just no. He, the biggest bottom feeder of them all has failed so much so that he’s crying for a do-over while blaming the little guy for all the problems. Anyway, the World Economic Forum’s plan I don’t consent to.
But I digress!
Back to my Happy New Year…
We managed to thrive in 2020 emotionally, physically, and even financially. We kicked off last new year with a baby skunk getting to our house, our water heater busting, our toilet needing to be repaired, and some pretty wicked colds. That was just January!
Here’s a recap of our year…
This beautiful little spotted skunk mama kicked off our 2020 New Year with sadness and resolve to save her baby that had died in a trap we had set. The baby, no more than maybe 6 inches from nose to tail found his way into the house and died. Dom buried him out back and she found his little body in a burlap bag and refused to leave the dead baby. She wouldn’t eat or drink and died within three days of exposure to the extreme cold. We heard rustling about a month later only to discover that the baby skunk had a sibling. This little guy thought he was a part of the family. He would come in and out of the pallet walls looking for food or just to sit and watch us go about our business.
We finally caught him and released him a few miles away from our land. That ended the skunk saga of 2020. Haha
With our bathroom out of commission because of a busted temporary water heater and a busted toilet line, it became an opportune time to put walls in, sand and finish the floor, install the new tub, and put in a much-needed window. The windows we found under some garbage that was left on the property.
We started collecting more pallets for future projects. With the price of lumber going through the roof we began to reuse pallets rather than pay through the nose for dimensional lumber, only purchasing it when absolutely necessary. Once insulation, drywall, and exterior siding is installed, does it really matter what the inner wall is made of? Sure we look like hobos for awhile while it is all coming together, but in the end we save thousands of dollars and we get an even stronger structure than if it was just a conventional stick-built building.
This year we will be building out of pallets, a storage shed, a greenhouse, and a large office space off the side of my coffee roastery for my second business, Status Select Professional Services.
Dom started carving spoons. It was something he has wanted to do for years. 2020 was The Year of the Spoon for him. 😉
Our son Noah came home to build his own cabin, save money, buy a car, and go to school to become an EMT and Paramedic. So far, he moved into his cabin not too long ago, and now he’s saving for his car. School starts in the spring! He’s doing fantastic.
The beginnings of the chicken coop was built. However, part of the way through building it, we realized that Noah really needed his cabin first. There wasn’t a reason I could imagine where a bunch of chickens should have a home before my son. So we switched gears and Noah and Dom started building his cabin. See photos of the process below:
We got a very small but productive garden going as well. We didn’t start until LATE, but still, it was good to have my hands back in the soil. Farming and caring for animals is a part of my calling, so to finally be able to grow food again felt like a huge return to my values. We were on such a crazy odyssey over the last five years that no matter where we went, farming was on my mind but it broke my heart that I couldn’t spend the time growing food or raising animals.
We can now! When we first started farming ten years ago, we went all in and bought seed, bought trees, bought animals, and we did so without any infrastructure in place. That meant that we spent a huge amount of our valuable time spinning our wheels getting makeshift housing ready for animals, trying to jerry-rig watering systems, and really didn’t have a full plan in place. Even so, we had a very productive CSA with lots of members as well as retail stores purchasing our produce.
I can’t in good conscience do that to us again. We’ll celebrate our second year on the land in April, and even though we are still putting infrastructure in place, it has been worth the wait!
Below was our tiny experimental garden. I wasn’t expecting much since it was really the first time I was really growing anything on this piece of land, but I was pleasantly surprised by the sheer volume of food produced. We plan on making this little garden area the new Blueberry Sancutary.
As fall and winter approached, we began to shift our thinking a bit. We decided to build the fencing for our ducks and geese. The area would not be used right away for ducks, but instead, we would have dairy goats in the area to take down the weeds in the market garden area. Eventually, we would move the goats to their new area located behind the coffee roastery near where the commercial kitchen would be located.
Dom got busy building the fencing for the goats. We located a farm two hours north of us and planned on purchasing goats from them.
The only thing left to put up are the three gates. Their structure is in place. We need to build them a milking stand, although we don’t plan on breeding the new doelings until they are a year old. We will be purchasing a pregnant Nigerian Dwarf so that we will have milk this year.
Below are our new babies. They were just born a few days ago. We will be bringing them home when they are weaned from their mamas.
We purchased our first cow and helped process it. It was an amazing experience! After we build our walk-in refrigerator, we’ll start processing all our animals on the farm.
I love butchery and now I’m excited to harvest other animals as well. We already process ducks, chickens, and turkeys.
Noah got a puppy from the same people we got our goats. Her name is Zelda. She’s a border collie, blue heeler mix.
Simmi also is getting ready to move into her new bedroom.
Today I’m painting her room. Dom will be laying her carpet soon and putting trim up. We’re getting there…little by little.
Every time something new gets completed, we moved one step closer to gutting the rig. Simmi being able to have her own room is that crucial next part of the plan. It will take a bit of detailed planning to gut the rig because that will involve taking out my office equipment for a few days. I might need to set up my office in my bedroom while the rig is being remodeled.
2021 is looking brighter every day!
It feels like only yesterday that I wrote about compassion, and yet, here I am more than two months later wondering where the time has gone? I’ve written infrequently on my blog because my dance card is quite full these days. I have several projects I’m working on that are a labor of love (I cannot disclose them at this time), homeschooling Simmi has started again, I’ve been working on the backend of this website to create an updated version that will be a magazine-style layout, and we’re moving into the fall/winter mode which means working on the interior of our rig again.
Work continues on Noah’s cabin, and as he gets closer to being able to move in, I can’t help but think of finally getting Simmi into her own room. That in turn leads to us gutting the rig to make it more functional for us to be in. Which then allows us to create a proper living room and dining room space. It has to happen in that sequence. Patience is key to making the transition go smoothly.
Below are photos of progress on Noah’s cabin. He has financed everything himself and he will have a debt-free cabin when everything is finished. Having no debts for his cabin will allow him to buy a newer vehicle without a car loan, pay for school without a school loan, and provide him with greater cash flow. Why pay rent throwing money away when you can own your own home free and clear? Eventually, if he wants to remain here, he will have the opportunity to build a larger home where ever he chooses on the 14 acres. All my children will have that opportunity as well.
Dom and Noah are shooting for the end of October for him to move into his cabin. The cabin won’t be completed until probably the spring, but before then, he’ll have the exterior board and batten, insulation in the floor, walls, and ceiling, drywall up, and flooring down. Trim and finish work will come later. The goal was to get him in his own private space. He can continue to work on the interior through the winter after the walls have been mud and taped, and his loft has been stained. In the spring a covered porch will be added.
The next project after that will be to insulate and put drywall up in Simmi’s room. Currently, Noah is sleeping in Simmi’s room. We’ll be able to fix her space, move her in, and get her comfortable. Right now she’s sleeping in the main part of the rig.
We had a highly productive tiny garden this past summer. I was very surprised and delighted at all that I was able to harvest. I didn’t weigh anything this year, since it was all an experiment to see what would grow well and what would languish or not grow at all.
We’re excited to start planning for next year’s garden. I learned a lot about my region and the ebb and flow of our microclimate. It’s been a great learning experience.
Another thing we’ve been working on is the temporary goat area. I reluctantly decided to finally warm up to the idea of getting dairy goats. I’m more of a sheep person. I could probably write a whole blog post on why I prefer sheep over goats, but it really doesn’t have anything to do with the animals themselves…it’s all because of my personality. Anyway, after careful thought and consideration, I made the decision to go ahead and start planning on having dairy goats.
We’ll be getting Nigerian dwarfs, mainly because that’s all I am emotionally equipped to deal with at this time in my life. Sounds weird, right? They will have a permanent home near our commercial kitchen, however, until that kitchen is completed, they will be living in the area that will eventually become the duck yard.
Dom, being very motivated by my decision to finally acquiesce to having goats, went to work straight away getting the goat area ready. He still needs to build the three gates for the different entrances, but for the most part, it’s nearly ready. We chose this area because we want the goats to eat the weeds in the market garden. They will have access to it throughout the winter months into spring before we start planting.
The fencing for this area was created using felled trees on the property and fencing from other areas. The wood planks were donated last year from a lady in our town who was getting rid of old wood fencing.
I love watching him work and execute plans that I’ve created. It’s always an unexpected treat watching him put everything together shirtless. Haha
That just about wraps up my update. Autumn came quickly and, just like that, it will be spring before I even blink! One thing is for sure, I’m looking forward to finally getting our rig gutted! I’ll try and make a more concerted effort to blog more than I have.
Summer is in full swing and so much is happening all at once. Back in the beginning of June our son came home to save money and go to school to become an EMT with aspirations of becoming a paramedic. Our first goal was to get him set up with his own cabin. Our space is WAY too small for yet another living being. Currently, it’s three adults, one young adult, and three finches all trying to live and let live in the rig. It’s cramped for sure!
Our plans always seem to morph when least expected. I’m cool with it though. We stopped construction on the large chicken coop because we needed to turn all our attention to getting Noah in his own place. He was in the last remaining tent for a while, but it’s ready to collapse and with the monsoons upon us it’s currently flooded with water, scorpions, vinegaroons, ants, and other creepies wanting to stay on a nice warm bed. The photo on the right is of a vinegaroon aka whip scorpion. They’re pretty harmless but look badass, right?!
We brought his bed inside and he’s doing his best to deal with the lack of privacy.
Over the last three weeks, Noah and Dom were able to dig the post holes for the foundation, pour the concrete, set the piers, and get the floor framed out on Noah’s cabin. We’re playing it by ear this weekend. One of Noah’s friends died yesterday and we’re waiting to see when the funeral will be.
If the funeral is this weekend, cabin construction will most likely be put off until next weekend. Trying to work on the cabin during the week when they work all day on other construction projects is a recipe for burnout.
A good portion of our land is a steep slope. It feels more like we’re on the side of a mountain! As I’ve pondered where we want to build our house (we’ve thought of many locations) we settled on using the sloped portions instead of regular flat ground. Noah’s cabin is located about 100 feet from where we will be building our home. The slope is the perfect location for a step up kind of home that moves with the steep incline of the landscape.
They started working on the chicken coop before the cabin. Here are a few photos of that process…
Noah getting sand brought over to the site to make soil-crete.
Dom selecting which trees would be used for the chicken coop structure. There are no straight parts of this coop. Everything is wonky and natural.
Adding welded wire to the outer walls. The walls will be created with a modified straw light clay infill. We’ll get this coop finished. It will only be a matter of time before we have 175 or more chicks peeping in this area!
The cactus blooms were spectacular this year. I love seeing them right before they open.
In the back of the rig is a large cholla cactus. A Curved-Bill Thrasher came and decided to build her nest. We’ve been watching her and can’t wait to see if her babies make it. They are up against some odds with crows and hawks eyeing up the nest just waiting for the mama to leave so they can steal her eggs. She’s been great at protecting them and by the end of this month, we should have three baby thrasher hatchlings.
It’s not the best photo, but there she is sitting on her eggs. I had to take the photo from pretty far away. Any closer and she would have left her nest.
There is a group of trees that we were planning on using to build Simmi’s treehouse. At the beginning of the month one of the main tree trunks that would have been a support for the treehouse snapped and fell down. Simmi was devastated. But as we become more bonded to the land, I have found that they subtly tell us things if we listen carefully. We had intentions of using the tree as the foundation of a treehouse, the tree told us it wasn’t safe and bent down to explain why.
My girl turned 13 at the beginning of June. She’s been enjoying the summer, listening to music, watching tv, and helping out whenever we’ve asked. She’s pretty motivated these days. We told her that after we get our roastery finished she could have a teacup Yorkie, and so she’s been saving her money and helping out to make even more money. Yorkies, Bichons, and Maltese are dogs she’s not allergic to. We’ll start looking for a breeder next spring. She fell in love with one of Dom’s client’s teacup Yorkie and she was smitten.
In the photo, Simmi is prepping horehound for Dom. He’s making a wildcrafted beer that uses a little horehound in place of hops.
This is Princess Bitchslap. Remember how I said trees tend to speak to us as we become more bonded to the land? Well, this girl right here is no different! She is located in the back of the rig near the roastery. Her branches reached all the way down to the ground and you couldn’t see how beautifully wonky she really was. I want her to grow upwards, not to the ground, so I trimmed her lower branches and gave her a bit of a hair cut.
She didn’t appreciate it very much. With every branch I cut off, I was welcomed with a whack to the back of my head, or my butt. At no time was I not in a battle with this tree. If I was taking care of an upper branch, an adjacent branch would whip me in the face. If I was dragging away a large branch, it felt like the branch was hanging on kicking and screaming like she was being murdered. It was like she had claws digging into the earth refusing to leave the spot.
By the time I was finished pruning her, I had twisted my ankle, received multiple facial scratches, my ass was literally kicked and bruised, and my arms were covered in scratches and bruises.
This is why I call her Princess Bitchslap. She’s lively and gave me a run for my money.
I love her. I think she’s warming up to me too.
We decided that even though we’re passed the time when you can plant potatoes, we would take a bash at it anyway! We ordered some of the best potatoes we’ve ever eaten from Wood Prairie Family Farm. We grew their potatoes when we were farming up in Maine. The potatoes I chose are early potatoes so they only take about 90 days to harvest. We’ve built a potato tower made from welded wire to grow them in. They are just starting to come up now. Once it gets too cold, we’ll wrap the tower in heavy clear plastic to extend the season a bit.
I love how the animals and insects that choose to be here find ways of complementing the landscape. If this dragonfly never moved, I wouldn’t have even seen him! His clear wings are amazing.
In the garden, we have radishes, cilantro, parsley, tomatoes, carrots, arugula, snow peas, beans, mint, basil, dill, and cucumbers growing. Well, maybe not cucumbers! Something came and ate them all. But we did get a bunch of mystery squash come up! The one in the photo above showed up and won’t stop growing. I had to remove this particular one because it was right in the way of the sprinkler. However, we have about four other mystery squash plants coming. I never planted them so we’ll see what they are as they set fruit.
Green beans and mint. They don’t seem to mind each other.
Basil, borage, cilantro, and radishes. Also some weeds and grasses all growing together. I took this photo last week, and it’s just about time for me to do the first pruning of the basil. I have about three different kinds of basil coming up. I’ll be harvesting and drying it today.
It’s hard to believe that in just a few short months this tiny fig tree will be at least four feet tall and wide. It took a while to figure out where the little Chicago figs would be planted. Plants, as I’m discovering have a will and spirit all their own. And if we are patient, they might just reveal to us where they want to be planted. It’s a cooperative act…a trust between two living beings.
I didn’t use to think that way. I just thought plants were plants, without an agenda or will of its own. But I was wrong.
I posed the question in my mind while picturing the figs in my mind, “Where do you want to be planted?” and of course I didn’t get any kind of real answer in an auditory way and didn’t think I would get any answer at all. But I felt this pressing to get them into the ground.
The next morning while waking up a picture came into my mind of where and HOW they wanted to be planted. It felt right too.
They are planted in a ten-foot diameter basin. Small stones covering the base going out, and eventually larger stones as we reach the perimeter. Each fig is to be planted in this way.
I told Dom that the figs explained how they wanted to be planted, thinking he was going to laugh at me. But he didn’t. He smiled wildly and said, “Did you know that if we plant the trees with the stones that way it will create a paramagnetic field that will create fertility in the soil?!” How did he know that? He had just finished reading a book about rock dusts and cosmic energy.
I haven’t read the book. I don’t think the figs read the book either, but to me, that was a confirmation that they know how they want to be planted.
In the same area where the figs are growing, rue will be planted. Behind the figs is a trench where we planted tomatoes last year. That area we populated with asparagus crowns this past spring, but the ground squirrels decided it was like a buffet for them. Every crown was gone! So in its place, behind the trench against the fence, I’ll be planting apricot foxglove, milkweed, and hollyhocks. In the trench itself, cardoon will be planted.
Dom built some wooden flats for me and I’ll be starting all the new perennial flowers and plants today.
This morning in the garden, lots of things are growing. Volunteers like squash and sunflowers, grasses, and weeds. With all the delicate cilantro still coming up, I won’t be pulling the grasses out. They can all grow happily together. Our compost is so jampacked full of goodies that there’s more than enough to go around. This morning I got more radishes and basil harvested.
I’m not sure what squash decided to show up here, but I’ll take it! I guess we’ll see once her fruit shows up what kind of squash she is.
The rain has been glorious and very much appreciated. We went through a blazing hot spell where the average daily temperature for around two weeks was 104 degrees. That’s unusual for this area. Once the monsoon arrived, our temperatures went back to their normal 80 degree days with the highs sometimes in the 90’s. We’re almost to the end of July already but this is when we get our rains so it’s one of the most anticipated times of the year.
The rest of this month I’ll be dreading my hair, getting a new septum piercing, and possibly a chin tattoo. Yep, I’m going full-on feral. I’ve been wanting to get a chin line done for about a year now. I ordered my new septum ring from Norway and it should be here in a few weeks. I am trying to honor my authentic self, and at times that becomes drowned out by my own inner voice saying, “What?! Are you nuts? Why would you want to do that?” They’re passing thoughts that have been a part of my life for as long as I’ve known myself. “What?” That one is the word most used by my inner dialogue, even though I already know the answer.
I’ve spent so much time not paying attention to the things I want for myself that I nearly lost the sound of my own soul crying out. In January 2020 I started seriously listening and doing some very intense soul work, to heal the deeper parts of myself that I allowed to become damaged. We can always blame others, but I’ve found that I’m responsible for how my soul is treated, and because I’ve allowed past abuses to take place, I alone can make it right within me.
So I listen careful to her; my inner beautiful soul’s voice. I respond with gentleness and protection making sure she is always heard and always loved by me. It has become my greatest accomplishment within myself.
Things are changing. I’m glad to see the old fade away and the new get embraced with passion and excitement. Life is so damn good!
That’s about all I have to report for this month. If you’d like to follow me daily I post regularly on Instagram. Click here to follow.