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Archive for the ‘Modern Homesteading’ Category

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A burgeoning dandelion wine farm you ask? Oh no. That is our backyard. And every year I look onto this grassy wasteland of rocks and weeds hoping for inspiration. Every year I seek inspiration from the usual places; Martha, Country Living, Gardener’s Supply, etc. This year, we get serious. Stay Tuned: From Wasteland to Secret Garden in 2012.

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So if you have not yet discovered National Geographic Channel’s new show , Doomsday Preppers you are missing a true guilty pleasure. While I don’t expect that I will be living in a shipping container or fueling my home with my own pooh, I do find it somewhat comforting to be self sufficient and be able to weather any storm or devastating world disaster or zombie attack. Special note Zombies can’t climb stairs so if you don’t have a second story, well, good luck. Regardless of what the “event” maybe I can sort of see where these folks are coming from. It’s secretly why I was drawn to a house with a wood-stove and a big part of the reason why I would like to go solar ( besides the environment and such). It’s what makes me want to be an extreme couponer stockpiler and why I love the idea of growing my own food and prepping it for long term storage. Secretly, I have always been a what-if kind of person. What if a bad guy breaks in. What if everyone gets Purple Blue fever. What if Zombies really do attack? Regardless of the crisis or desire to never leave your home, there is something super comforting and extraordinarily peaceful about knowing you are prepared to carry on. Even though, in the event of total meltdown, I may suffer from complete digital meltdown, I know that upon recovery I will be thankful for what I have. So, I will continue (secretly of course, which is clearly why I am blogging about it) prepping for Doomsday.

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Alpaca

Image by James Preston via Flickr

So when I envision my life as a full fledged farmgirl I picture rolling hills filled with pasture raised sheep and alpacas (they are just so darn cute who doesn’t want an alpaca, especially when they sneeze), perhaps a cow and some pigs.  A few chickens, ducks and maybe a turkey a two.    I imagine a porch swing with hand squeezed lemonade in the summer and warm fires with home baked bread in the winter.  Then I think about winter some more and think of long drives to everywhere:   The grocery store (when the TP’s out, it’s out.  They used leaves 200 years ago, why can’t we?).  Dance Class.  Work.  School.  Daycare.   Well perhaps I will home school and run a CSA.  I make pretty decent Jams, Jellies and Relishes and Alpaca hair can be sold for a decent amount.  After all,  who needs a grocery store when you have your own cows for milk and beef and poultry for eggs?   Our children can learn how to weave and spin.  What kid doesn’t want to learn that?  I can knit and will eventually sew.   I could make all of our clothes.  We could get solar power and live off the grid…Yes, yes it’s a perfect dream, right up until I get tired of using leaves and drive in a blizzard to get real TP and get stranded in town overnight.  While I am gone my kids decide to invite all of their Facebook friends over for a raging party, raid the liquor cabinet to act out their frustration because I have ruined thier lives by turning them into miniature Laura Ingalls’  thus they have Facebook friends named Skunk and Popcorn who come by and next thing you know the porch swing is in the wood-stove, the alpacas all have mohawks, the sheep seem to have been tagged like abandoned train cars and the cow has moved into a neighboring farm just to escape the madness.    As I investigate the damage, I realize that I still forgot the TP and drive another 90 minutes round trip to get it.   Then I wake up, and find myself securely planted in my suburban home with one dog, one cat and 6 chickens, within 5 miles of two major grocery store and I breathe a sigh of momentary relief.   Then I think, OMG (yes, I have gotten to the point where my inner thought bubbles are written in text format), how will I ever make it on a farm?  Then I remember, the dream isn’t all about porch swings and lemonade, but rather creating a better quality of life for my whole family and I can do that now here in Vermont suburbia. Finding and moving too our dream rural farm is a commitment.  A commitment to being far away from the things we take for granted today.  A commitment to  being  totally invested in our home, land and any subsequent animals we decide to raise. A commitment to making sure that we have the resources to do this the way we want too.  So  we will plan and we will execute when the time is right we will have our dream home and farm.  In the meantime, I will perfect the  things I know I can do in this location and give our family the best life we can in the here and now.   We will get the rolling hills and alpacas, but until then, homesteading will be a state of mind and a daily practice.  Whether my children learn how to spin and weave remains to be seen, but either way, we will make sure to keep the liquor in a fire proof safe and place a ban on spray paint.  Happy Homesteading to all and to all a good night!!!

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So I have an addiction to reality TV. I mean the real, reality TV of the TLC, Discovery, and History Channel Variety. No weekend is complete without a little Gold Rush, Ax Men or Dirty Jobs. Don’t even get me going on Moonshiners (or as I call it, Homesteading gone wrong), but tonight’s drug of choice is Hoarders. I am strangely drawn to it because I think there is a little Hoarder Gnome living in my soul. Occasionally, he rears his ugly head when there is a good sale, or when I am certain that a missing sock is engaged in covert operations just south of the boarder and will be home any day. I would’ve thought my newly found love of homesteading and making use of “everything” would turn me into a flea market junkie. On the contrary, I have felt the need to simplify and make do without. Now let’s not get crazy, everyone needs a cake pan for all occasions, and excessive Christmas decorations are fun for everyone, but on the whole I have found that avoiding the hoard has made me feel more secure. So, every week we do a purge. Some are smaller than others. Sometimes the focus is the fridge where waste not, want not can pretty rapidly turn into waste not, eat not if you want to survive. Many times it focuses on our Achilles heal of clutter: paper. Bills, mail, pre- school artwork, etc. I have discovered the joy of the ebill through our credit union which should help. Upcoming, we will be doing a clothes purge ( let’s be honest, there are just things that will never fit again) and a toy purge with our daughter’s full cooperation (she loves the idea of giving her old toys to kids in need). I have even been able to part with books (which as many of you know are my “precious”). Each day I feel a little closer to full simplification, and barring my love of cake pans literature and a little organized grocery stockpiling, a clutter free house that will help us to reach our long term goals. As for 00sock, I expect to hear from him any day now as does his better half.

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I lead an interesting life. Not in a I am more interesting than you kind of way, just interesting, blessed, and full. I traveled the world when I was young and got to see places through the eyes of a kid with little responsibility and full of idealistic hope and big dreams. I have been in love, had my heart broken, and met the person who I cannot imagine life without. I have a big family that have helped shape the person who I am today and who continue to play a major rule in my life. I have had a variety of jobs in the food industry, in healthcare and education all of which have introduced me to some of the most interesting characters in the world. I can say I have worked at a dude ranch and a refugee camp. I was even the bomb pop girl at a fun park. Yup, BOMB POP GIRL. I have dined with doctors and chefs and even call many of them friends. I have been smacked in the face with series crisis’ that I thought I would never overcome, and yet emerged all the better for it. I now live by the motto God will never give you more than you can handle. Even on the days when I firmly believe that curling up in my flannel jammies, with a bottle of wine and a good book should be my career, I recite that motto and find a way through. I have changed my personal definition of family. I have friends who are really my sisters even though we may not talk as often as we should or see each other as often as we could. Yes, Bridget and Kate I am referring to you. Just knowing you are there makes me a better person because you are amazing women who I am so blessed to know and love. And yes I need to call and visit more. I have great friends doing amazing things all around the world and great friends doing amazing things right down the road. My home has served as a rally point for victims of fire and my fire as served as the rally point for friends and family in celebration. Our spare bedroom has served as a home to friends and loved ones in need. My daughter has an extended group of people she knows to be part of her family and who in the event of an emergency she could go to and I would know she would be safe. As I look at the Amish culture who just add on to their homes to make room for the extended family ( fear not I love pants, buttons and pop culture to much to adopt that lifestyle) or the age of Little House on the Prairie when big and even extended families cozied up into a one room house I think I understand the real heart of homesteading. It’s about surrounding yourself with people you love and filling your home and hearth with love and laughter and wholesome delicious food. As a approach the next chapter of my life as a wife, mother, Localvore in training who wants to be a physicians assistant, farmer, writer and politician, my home and hearth will always be open, coffee will always be on, an extra bed will always be ready and our family will always have room for one more.

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1. You look forward all week to the arrival of the Sunday paper and all it’s circulars and coupons.

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2. A Friday night spent with your favorite TV shows, take out and a bottle of wine sounds like a Rockin good time to you.
3. You keep adding animals to your menagerie because you like responsibility.
4. You think a Wine Spritzer is the best thing since sliced bread and you wonder why Red Bull and Vodka ever seemed like the right choice?
5. One of the most exciting things you got for Christmas was a new kitchen faucet.

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Yes it’s entirely possible that this version of adulthood could be synonymous with BORING, but as someone who had wild oats and sowed the heck out of them, I call this contentment!!!

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According to Keirsey, Oprah Winfrey may be a T...

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So we ring in 2012 and yet again here I sit with my “personal life coaches”,  Oprah, Phil, Bob, Martha etc.    And yes by “personal” I mean famous and influential people who I am slightly infatuated with, who through their writings, TV Shows and Websites I find motivation for change and tools to unlock my inner passion and yadayada, become a whole new, transformed “best self”.  Generally speaking, I begin the New Year the same way every year and by about February 1st, lose most of my steam and my “best self” suddenly becomes a vision for the next year, when I might finally find more time for, well, besting myself as it were.  Yet this year I begin with a new sense of direction and motivation. Thanks to some much-needed vacation time spent primarily in jammies with a warm cup of coffee or cold cup of wine depending on the time of day, I was able to really re-evaluate my long-term goals and become re-inspired to pursue my dream of farming,homesteading, writing, cooking and creating as a full-time job.  I also learned, thanks to a handy quiz in the November issue of O (yup that sure is Oprah’s Magazine and no I was not exaggerating about my infatuation) that I need to be influential and a leader.  For those of you who know me best this should not come as a surprise as I thrive on being the center of attention.  After years of denial, I feel that I can finally say that with pride instead of pretending that it’s not true but then attempt to steal the spotlight just the same.  So that being said, I will also be some kind of  lobbyist or political personality striving to influence how our nation thinks about its food sources. Since magazine quizzes will NEVER steer you wrong, and because when I really do  imagine that future it feels good and seems to fit, I think  I will roll with it as the long-term goal that will help influence all the short-term, but long-lasting goals I will set for 2012.  And so here I sit with my Iphone Resolution App (yes, they even make an app for that full of fun little icons, reminders and motivational gems of wisdom), a list of New Year’s Resolutions,  advice filled writings  by my aforementioned “mentors”, and a new-found commitment to making a change.   There are of course the usual suspects: Weight Loss (I will be doing a 30 day no white or refined stuff; Bread, Rice, Potatoes..etc, so that should make for some fun blog posts full of snark, sugar deprived, angry comments so stay tuned), Exercise More (maybe actually use that free gym membership I so wonderfully get from my employer), Blog Daily (also should lead to some fun posts), Get and Stay Organized (also an app for that, although did not actually organize my filing cabinet as I had hoped, just gave me tips on how to do so), Create and Stick to a Budget, and Get More Sleep (off to a great start tonight, what with the fine folks at the NFL and Broadcast TV scheduling the Giants/Cowboys playoff berth deciding game for 8 PM on a Sunday..to you I say thanks for screwing me and my resolution over).   I also added Make Homemade Gifts, Go to Church/Be more Spiritual and my personal favorite: Pretend I am a Farmer in Real Life. Yes you read that right.  This resolution is born of my sharing my renewed drive with my husband and friend (who shall be known as Nathan Negative and Johnny Dream-Crusher for any writing related to this resolution) who believe that I do not fully understand the reality of my dream.  Apparently, since I don’t often (and by often I mean NEVER) clean the litter box or chicken coop and occasionally forget to put food in the dog’s dish, I will never make it as a farmer.   I submit that I CAN do ALL of those things, so in 2012 I will do them, write them and perhaps even photograph them.   So, tomorrow, I will wake up with Stevia in my coffee and a spring in my step as I get in that daily workout, focus and organize at my day job and come home to focus, organize and blog here.   I think 2012 has a lot to offer and for the first time since the birth of our daughter (who by the way has her first REAL birthday in 2012 which is a Leap Year for those of you not in the know) completely turned our world upside down and all around in a super great, but slightly disheveled way, I feel like I have the energy and focus to complete anything I set my mind too.   To all of you I say Happy New Year to all and to all A Good Night!!!

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