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I finally got hold of the camera, took some pictures, and then let Deladis take some on her own. I’m going to share our last few weeks with you mostly in pictures.
Easter, Redbuds, and Dogwoods – The Tale not Found in the Bible
Today is Good Friday for Christian believers and others who are inspired by the life of Jesus the Christ.
“Do you refuse to speak to me?” Pilate said. “Don’t you realize I have power either to free you or to crucify you?”
Jesus answered. “You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above. Therefore, the one who handed me over to you is guilty of a greater sin.” – John 19:10-11
Jesus accepted what was for what it was. He lived the Now and He realized the essence of His being protected by Father God. My maternal grandmother taught me that the redbud and dogwood trees represent some significant things in this story. They grow wild in these hills. Many plant them in their yard.
The redbud was once a large tree with large white blossoms. Judas Iscariot, after betraying Jesus, hung himself on one of these large trees. It shriveled up and the blossoms turned pink with their shame.
The dogwood represents the events of The Holy Week. You can read more about how by clicking these statements.Spring has gotten into my being more this year than ever in my life. I have never been fond of rainy up and down weather, but this year the beauty of creation has been recognized as a gift in the core of who I am. The most beautiful part of the redbud and dogwood story is that they bloom around the same time, the redbud a bit ahead of the dogwood.
Deladis Won a Blue Ribbon at the Homeschool Science Fair for her Tree Project!
She worked so so hard! I can’t believe this is a kindergartener’s work!
It’s Electric – Boogie-Woogie-Woogie
The Chickens – Photos by Deladis Rose – Titles by Mommy
And Finally – The Mole Killer – Not for the Squeamish – Photo by Deladis Rose
I’ve been holding out on a new post to wait on getting the camera back from John. He is teaching now and has been doing photography with his students the past few weeks. It doesn’t look like he’ll be done before too long, so I’m going to post anyway.
We got our spring garden in! Cauliflower, Broccoli, Lettuce of several kinds, Swiss Chard, Potatoes, Onions, Garlic, Shallots, Peas, Italian Parsley, Dill, Cilantro, Rosemary, and Chives. It felt so good to be outside in the dirt. There is such peace there in most cases. The girls were much more helpful this time around. They are getting older. All the plants are perked right up and growing. Hopefully the seed will show sprouts soon. I’ve been craving good veggies after a pretty rough winter. It is hard to find good produce in the groceries here.
We also had some homeschool friends give us 5 hens and a rooster in order to make room for their upcoming 4H projects. There were two little bantams – hen and rooster, and some large mixed breed hens. The little bantam hen, we called Little Lady. She had blueish gray feathers along with some tan, and she was so very gentle. We even brought her in the cabin to eat macaroni and cheese. I did away with her body yesterday. The larger hens had pecked her to death. 😦 There was no sign of them bullying her. She stayed in the coop most of the time, but I thought she was just getting used to things. After loosing 4 entire flocks, including all the grown diddles from last year, you’d think I’d be over caring. I’m not. Well, especially when a hen will let you pet her and will sit in your lap like a dog. We are getting eggs daily from our free-ranging flock. They are healthy and roost on the front porch. It makes a mess, but Lars (our dalmatian) sleeps there with them and keeps them safe. It would be nice for these new hens to eventually be free ranging too. It seems we have better luck that way. I told them though, they better start laying or they’ll be in the pot for killing Little Lady – barbarians.
It is so close to warm here. We had a week of 70 degree weather and the girls were so happy. We will be getting new water soon, and I won’t have to take them to my mother’s for baths any longer. Deladis graduates from kindergarten on May 26! Our homeschool group has a great ceremony planned and I’m going to cry like a baby. I just know it. I ordered her 1st grade curriculum yesterday on sale. I can’t believe it. It’s funny that Ivy still seems so small.
I’ll try to get some pictures up soon, and some exciting news. I hope to start hearing from folks again. I’ll do my best to comment back as well. My computer reading time has been kind of limited lately.
I call it just a day. A real day. I spent time away from the computer. I opened and learned the new pressure canner I bought. We have so many tomatoes, and I know I need to learn to put things up. It’s part of it. Though I have heard the stories of pressure canners blowing people up, I know they must be relatively safe, and it is time I got acquainted. Tomatoes are supposedly easy to put up.
I hate reading manuals. I like my reading to have a narrative quality even if non-fiction. I’d much prefer learning my being taught by a breathing being, but time has not allowed me that, and none of my family that lives closer to us cans. I withstood the reading, working through the text step by step, trying to be hands on instead of reading and then doing. I readied 7 quart jars. I knew I’d fill those and have left overs. Yet, when I smashed in the tomatoes as instructed by the manual, I found that I could only fill 4 of those.
As soon as the jars were prepared, the girls and I got the best surprise. At my back door, stood my daddy. He had come just in time to be present for my blowing up the house. But, it all went off without a hitch. The best part is my daddy was smiling and seemed at ease. He has a job that carries with it a huge responsibility, and sometimes I wish he could leave it behind. I always remember my happy daddy fondly. Nobody else can be happy like him. When he is happy he can hold the world on his back and go with simple movements, unhindered, laughing. Oh, the laughing.
Dad helped me fix the air conditioner away from the stove. Our little wall unit blows the flame on my gas stove, so I had turned it off. It was like a sauna in the cabin. He couldn’t stay long and we were alone again. The jars finished processing. I did my yoga practice. Ivy napped. When I got the jars out of the canner, I got this…
Floaters. I should have poured off the juice I got after packing and put in more tomatoes. The jars are sealed though, and John’s Mamaw – canner extraordinaire – says they are going to be just fine to eat. They will be used for soups and sauces this winter. I’m so pleased that the blight didn’t wipe them out this year like our last year’s crop. We are making progress even if baby steps. We’ll eventually walk with few stumbles, then glide.
First, you start with real good garden soil, a set of plant starts, and eventually you will have a gorgeousness that looks like this.
When the first pea pods appear, they will be tender enough to put in the skillet without steaming first. If you like peas in the pod, you’ll leave them on longer, but to make this dish, you’ll need to string them, and/or steam them for tenderness.
Make some bacon. A whole pack is nice because you can eat while you cook. I prefer to buy bacon free of nitrates or nitrites and sugar when I can find it. Sautee some onions in bacon grease until they start to brown.
Cook them over medium to high heat until they are fully greased and tender. The amount of grease you use depends on your tastes. I use the whole pan from making the pack of bacon. When tender, crumble in some bacon and serve.
You’ll notice that this dish is similar to the Appalachian green beans and kilt lettuce and onions. Pork was a mainstay of the Appalachian diet, and used to flavor many dishes from cornbread, beans, to greens. Because chickens provided eggs and cows provided milk, they were not butchered as regularly as hogs. When not eating pork, or chicken for Sunday dinner, Appalachian peoples ate the meat of hunted animals including, rabbit, deer, squirrel, wild turkey, opossum (some folks didn’t care for it), and groundhog (has a reputation for being greasy). In our family we eat rabbit, deer, and wild turkey, as well as fish caught from our lakes and streams. I prepare a traditional foods diet for my family most days. I have found that if we eat foods that we are genetically predisposed to tolerate, then we have better outcomes physically. My family has lived in the mountains for generations. My ancestors were Irish and Cherokee primarily. My husband’s were Melungeon. By keeping the traditional Cherokee and Appalachian food ways we were familiar with, and researching those that had been lost to industrialization we have found healthy eating. Being involved in where your food comes from both animal and plant forms, is extremely rewarding.
Yesterday, we went on a trip spearheaded by illustrious Nathan Hall to tour the Abingdon, Virginia Farmer’s Market and the organic farm of Anthony Flaccavento. He is the director of Appalachian Sustainable Development, an organization that supports local economy, especially in the form of sustainable agriculture and local eating. Flaccavento along with others in the area brought about a change in the local economy of a region of Appalachia that is an inspiration to folks living in the coalfields of eastern Kentucky. Opposed to common thought, not all of Appalachia is filled with coal nor is dealing with the results of surface mining (strip mining or mountaintop removal – all other words for it). The questions for us in the coalfields being whether a coal economy is serving us now, or whether it will provide an economy for us in the future. However, many Appalachian towns are looking to rebuild or redevelop their local economies in order to provide opportunities for their citizens and to keep their towns alive and thriving. Some see the answer as being the urbanization of Appalachia, or the move to a more universal American pop culture for all. Others see Appalachia surviving on a more modern version of going back to its roots, and that is where the Haywood’s fall.
Hello, this is me, and I will be your tour guide for this adventure showing some of the possibilities for a future for the residents of eastern Kentucky.
This is Nathan Hall, the brains and organizer of the adventure without which folks like me would not be able to focus enough to pull this sort of thing off. 🙂
He’s fixing to be a world traveller soon, to learn more about sustainable economies throughout the world. He’ll be leaving the holler on July 22nd and will be blogging about his adventures at There and Back. My greatest wish for the year without him is that John and I can continue to move forward with all the biggness that has come about at The Confluence this year.
Our first stop in Abingdon was the Farmer’s Market. It was lovely to see such a bustling place in a small town. There were about 60-80 vendors. It warmed my heart to see that many of them were family operations with the children fully involved and content to be there.
All of these were area farmer’s, merchants, food businesses, and crafts people. One farmer recently said he makes $30,000 a year off of a little more than an acre of veggies. That would be a nice living for our family. The ownership of your own livlihood is a great thing.
There was a wide variety of things represented there both organic and conventional.
The market is completely ran by the growers/vendors, but is supported by the city. The market is its own entity with its own board.
Next, we took a lunch at Harvest’s Table, a restaurant running on the influence of Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. In the foyer, local artists, writers, musicians, and crafts people are supported through the selling of their wares. The food is all local and seasonal. I had the corn and tomato salad with a garnish of fruit and goat cheese. It was so yummy! I didn’t expect it to be when I saw it, but it was. Another interesting thing was all of the soups were chilled for summer – cantaloupe, cucumber, and gazpacho.
After eating, we went out to Anthony’s farm.
The farm was not tremendously large, but it was much bigger than what we are attempting at this time. Flaccavento has employees and interns on the farm. He is certified organic, and uses methods that I have never seen before to achieve store quality results. I’m used to traditional, personal gardening techniques, and it was all a little overwhelming and intimidating. We are definitely not ready for large scale production, but we can work up to producing for more than just our family, learning as we go and following the market.
Flaccavento and other farmers sell to area grocery stores, restaurants, and at the Farmer’s Market. They have developed a distribution center called Appalachian Harvest that works with grocery stores and some restaurants.
It was most definitely an motivating trip. John says we’ll be old before we see any kind of business result from our work. He insists we must build slowly, and on that point I agree. But, I think with focused work, we can begin to broaden our views sooner rather than later. I have dreams, and a lot of the time they leave me pining for the grass is greener rigormoroar. I see us working side by side on something that brings us even more together. Making our living through our own two hands, enjoying the land, and using our talents in a more relaxed way. Creating something to pass on to our girls. I try to live in the present. I try.
This week John and I are both working at the Cowan Creek Mountain Music School. I am co-teaching Kids on the Creek, and John is the faculty coordinator. Both of the girls are attending this year, and are with me in Kids on the Creek. It’s a busy and exhausting week. So many personalities in one place, lots of music and dancing, smiling, and fun. It is in its 9th year.
It seems though that our family always has a bit of a crisis during the time of the music school. Last year it was our van breaking down. This year, it is the dogs killing the diddles (chicks). They have killed two, and yesterday, we realized that we had to get the mama and the remaining seven into the old coop for safety. They have been totally free ranging since they were born. We hadn’t been able to touch their mother since she left the coop months ago. I figured I’d have to have John to help me catch all of them. In fact, I wasn’t even going to try without him. His duties keep him at the school from morning until wee morning, and we see him in glimpses. I had resigned to grieve the diddles and resent the dogs.
Deladis on the other hand, resigned to get the chickens into the coop come hell or high water last night. After a thunderstorm that knocked the power out, Deladis chased the diddles all around the yard in the steady rain. Ivy was asleep inside. When I stepped onto the front porch to check on Deladis, I realized she was catching them! She had a diddle in her hands. She handed it off to me and I rushed it to the coop. When I returned, she handed me another diddle. “Get the mama,” I said.
They were all huddled under the front porch, and it takes quite a bit for me to maneuver under there, so I wasn’t too hopeful that Deladis could get her hands on the mama, but I knew that if she were caught, the diddles would be easier. “Oh, she’s pecking me!” I hear. Then, I see my four year old turn around, her arms full of hen. “Hang on!” I say. We rush her to the coop, and proceed to round up the last five diddles.
The proud look on her face said it all. Her eyes round and wide. Her smile open and full. “I did it, Mama,” she said. “Are you happy at me?” She was determined to get those chickens to safety with or without her daddy, and that she did. I was beyond joyful at her accomplishment. She did something I thought wasn’t doable. Something I thought it would take our man to help us with. Deladis taught me something last night.
What/Who am I waiting on? I have been waiting on John to have time for barn repairs for months, so we could move the chickens down there once again. I have been working so hard on advertising my birth work that I have neglected my housekeeping and writing. I have been waiting on acceptance to a known literary journal before sending off the collection of stories to small presses for consideration. I’ve been submitting those stories for two years. I have 25,000 words on a novel that I am waiting for time to finish. There’s no waiting. There is just now. Now. Right now. There is nothing that exists to wait for. All that is, is present now.
Miss Angie, over at The Artist, The Mom, and mine and Deladis’s former Parent/Child (Waldorf) teacher told me once that I was exhibiting some sanguine traits. At the time I thought – no way. But, I couldn’t just put it off. She had really studied the temperaments after all. She gave us an article on parenting and temperaments. I thought – sure, I’ll accept melancholic, even choleric, but sanguine? I had always thought, if only I had some sanguine tendencies. I am not the life of the party by any means. I’m lucky if I can approach you for conversation after knowing you for some time. I’m one of those who gets shy and ducks in and out of store aisles trying to avoid eye contact. Not because I don’t love conversation, or crave it even, but when I’m not prepared for it, it is very hard for me to initiate. I want to be assured that someone wants to talk to me before I approach them. I also remember things, and have been notoriously good and holding grudges (though not any more. What a blessing!). I have strong opinions about a lot of things, but I don’t go declaring most of them everywhere, and in most situations my opinions aren’t such that it makes me dislike anyone or confront anyone.
However, I see what she means in that I have my hands in so much at once. My focus changes so often, I don’t think I give anything time to really be what it is going to be. Just go through this blog and you will see that I have this and that then that and this on my mind. Does it mean that I need to find just one thing? Does it mean that I need to give up my little work for the important work of mother and homemaker, so I can do those better than I am now? I don’t think so. I really don’t.
I think it just means that I need to focus on what needs to be done in any given day. What work do I wake to? What work lends itself well to the feelings of the day – mine and the girls? Does it mean that I will take the conventional approach to things? No, I’ve never been conventional. Does it mean that the path I had set out on will be the one that gets me to where I am going? Nope. In fact, I think it is most doubtful. I need to always consider alternatives. Always consider now.
I wonder if I can do the work down at the barn. I wonder. I wonder how much time and advertising to put into my birth work. I wonder which small press I should query first. I wonder what it will be like to pick up my novel again. I’ve been wanting to switch this blog over to one that will allow me to do the Amazon Affiliates program, and post links to my book when it is published by a small press or myself. I wonder if I’m computer literate enough. I wonder. Deladis didn’t sit and wonder. She just did it because it needed done.
And I’m beginning to wonder why…
Why am I wondering why? It has given Lars, our eldest dog of 11 years, a complex. Today, as it has been for the last few days, he has been chasing the diddles, trying to eat them. Add that to Goldie, our pup, chewing everything in site. Add to that, Lars fighting Goldie over both his food and her food. We have a mess on our hands… and we’re adding another baby to the mix in a few days – of the kitten variety.
I’m exhausted today. Above you see Goldie and her mess. She tore up our waders (fortunately they already had holes), the girls’ sidewalk chalk, a toy bunny from the sandbox, and somehow she got the girls’ snow hat from inside and tore it up outside. Oh, and tearing into the food bags. Ugh…
But, you know… I expect that. She’s a pup. They do those things. Lars destroyed our couch and my pewter statue collection when he was a pup. Yes, he chewed up soft metal. What I didn’t expect was Lars to be fine for the first couple of weeks with Goldie around, but now that we have 9 diddles, and they are getting older, he has decided that he is nuts and doesn’t care about the rules. He has turned on Goldie during mealtimes, yelps coming from the front porch as he puts her in her place. And, after the last few days, I’m beginning to wonder if our joy with the diddles (“peeps” as Deladis calls them) will last.
The diddles have a mother. A good mother. She free ranged and set 9 eggs through hatching, and has made it with all 9 babies through a week as of today. They are adorable, and we enjoy them like proud grandparents, giving them back to their mother for the complicated part of rearing. This afternoon, however, as I fell into the peace of yoga, I was interrupted by an upset Deladis. “A peep is under the house and she is stuck!”
“What!” I jumped out of my crescent moon lunge and we were out the door in a second. Then, I see Lars – dirt smeared across his face and I see the evidence of him as the culprit of this mess. Deladis confirmed it, as she had watched it from her swing. The diddle jumped under the house for protection as the hen and the rest of her brood scattered around the side of the cabin. The baby was left under the house without the capability of figuring out how to get back out.
First, I go under the cabin. It’s dark – really dark. Then, I see where the sound of the peeping is coming from, and that the floor joists are so low that I will have to army crawl to get to the diddle. Not to mention the diddle is a black one, and I can’t actually see it, just hear it.
I hunt a flashlight. The only one I find is a toy one of the girls’. Tinker Bell. I go back under and realize that this flashlight won’t cut it. I also realize what I have suspected for some time. I am a little put off by tight squeezes. I go back out and call John for a better light and encoragement. He tells me there are no flashlights within a reasonable proximity to me. The diddle’s cries are louder now, and I know I have to suck it up and save that baby. I take the Tinker Bell flashlight and put Deladis on guard outside one of the vent holes in our cinderblock foundation. I take deep breaths and crawl, only hitting my head once, to the diddle. It jumps and runs to a nearby corner. I catch it between the block and a piece of plastic, pick it gently up, and hand it to Deladis who is still waiting outside the vent hole. She then returns the baby to its mother. We are all pleased after the minor freak out.
Then, I just get plain mad. Lars needs to get over himself! He’s well feed, gets plenty of attention, and has all the room and comfort he needs. He is being a party pooper and is disregarding the rules of this family. I guess he thinks he’s old enough now to do what he wants. Well, you know what happens to grown kids when they get old enough to do what they want… ok, just kidding. I won’t make him get his own place. So, I’m left with having to respect his age and realize we a peers now. And, that leaves me where I started, being mad.
Pictures coming as soon as John comes home with his banjo case where the USB cord for the camera is located. Why? We don’t know. 🙂
It has been quite awhile since I have written anything about our efforts with the homestead. The Confluence (the name of our homestead, homeschool, and educational organization) has grown since last year. Instead of the one garden plot that we had next to the cabin last year, we kept it and added two more down by the barn. The two new plots get full sun, so our corn, tomatoes, peppers, berry bushes, watermelons, peas, broccoli, cabbage, onions, swiss chard, and spinach is there. Here at the cabin plot, I have put in the potatoes, carrots, zucchini, squash, cucumbers, cilantro, basil, and dill. We still have some more tomatoes, lettuce, lavender, pumpkins, several bean varities, and sunflowers to plant. I haven’t decided exactly where they will go. They will be in the ground either this evening or tomorrow. However, I will not be planting while the sun pours down across my back. My shoulders and forehead are sunburned and I have the hot chills. Our planting takes quite awhile, because we do it all by hand, scooting across the ground, pinching and dropping seeds. Someday, we’ll have more equipment.
We hope to have enough produce to sell a bit this year. I am keeping my fingers crossed that John will get a chance to work on the barn so we can get a chicken flock that will be protected from predators, and eventually a few goats. I’d like to be able to sell eggs as well. John has mentioned wanting to spend more of his time on the homesteading, and for it to work as we have dreamed, that will have to be the case. Our friend Nathan has been helping us along, but he will be leaving on a year long, around the world trip in August. Another friend Brett Ratliff has been helping as well. He is a musician and travels quite a bit as John does, so his time exists a bit of everywhere. Both of them are bachelors with nothing tying them down – free spirits those boys, and huge helps as they can be. So, then there is me – mountain mama of two under five. 🙂 I can get a lot done, but not enough. If John is able to be here a bit more, then it will be a huge help for the homesteading dream.
The Confluence in it’s current existence is our home and Nathan and Brett call the cabin at the mouth of the holler home. The four of us are working on this project together as our time allows. We are planning to bring it into a place where we offer workshops on sustainable agriculture and traditional music. John’s art studio is here, and he plans to open that to the public. We may host some small group events as we are approached to do so for traditional music, arts, sustainable living, natural family living, and childbirth preparation. Eventually, when Nathan comes back from traveling the world, we may apply for non-profit status.
So, this year, we are slowly moving forward, and we are happy with that. John is so good for me in that regard. I’m like a wild filly out of the gate. I want to do everything in short order. But, we are moving just as fast as we are supposed to. Any faster would be overwhelming. We have heard rumors of Farmer’s Markets organizing, so my goal is to participate in those as we can. I am prepared to do a lot of preserving food too.
I’m excited about the opportunities this brings to my life. I am scattered all over the place right now, and if you asked me what I wanted personally, the list would be ridiculous. My goals are in some sort of transition period. I started simple when I began this blog, and then at some point realized that something wasn’t working or wasn’t enough. I’m still trying to set on what that something is, and at this point it is taking the form of many projects. I will figure it out. It’ll be a dang good thing when I do. 🙂