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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.

Then, add the washed pods and peas.

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.

Find more Wordless Wednesday at 5 Minutes for Mom.

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.

Not feeling well. Sorry I'm not the picture of health on such a healthy outing.

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.

Aren't these huge!

 

Purty, purty

 

Meeting the needs of yourself and others through special skills.

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.

hoop house tunnel

 

grass fed livestock

 

garlic drying in the barn

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 is a video that made me so happy to see.  Leave it to Sesame Street to help us all have a positive, pure respresentation in the media of this world.  This clip is of a mailman who delivered mail in our area (not too far from where we live, in the same county) in the 60s/70s.  Roads like we have today are relatively new here.  Most of our parents and grandparents grew up kind of like our girls are growing up on our holler.  No “true” road, or a creekbed for a road.  Because of this, horse was still the most convenient means of gettting from here to there.  In the county where we live, many women were still having their babes at home, doing the doctoring for their families, organizing church meetings, and teaching the children the 3Rs at this time.  It has not been that long ago that many of us lived in intentional communities where most of our needs could be met within a few miles from home.  This was out of necessity, but something that, if you were to talk to the elders in our hills, was a thing of pride.  I think our future will look similar.  Our economy will eventually return to our own two hands, and be ours to create.  The truth is that Appalachia is not urban, and cannot be made urban, and any effort to do so will only continue to bring ruin to our people.  OK, off my soapbox.  I hope you enjoy the video.

This here full moon has taken the place of the peace I had found on Thursday.  It’s gone and left me blue.  When I taught middle school, the teachers would all gather in the halls to discuss the day, and we’d often notice (or at least blame) rowdy behavior on the full moon.  Labor and delivery nurses will often do the same when they have a busy ward.  Same in the jailhouses and on the beat.  Now, that I am a mother, I’m starting to wonder if there might be some truth to it.

Ivy has decided that sleeping is no longer cool.  I mean she is a big kid now, being two and all.  She is getting in bed around 10pm and waking around 8am.  She is not napping most days, and the days that she does, she doesn’t sleep very long.  I am missing my nap time, quiet yoga practice.  Evening alone time with John, that doesn’t require staying up until midnight.  Then, during her waking hours, especially toward evening, she is non-stop and grouchy.  Biting Deladis, climbing whatever she can find to climb, turning sommersaults, using the toilet to get high on shelves in the bathroom to find her “lipstick” (chapstick) so she can put it on with her pretty dress and necklace (Where she gets this, I don’t know.  I don’t wear jewelry or makeup.), lots of crying when something doesn’t turn out just so, and picking the kitten up by the head.  Real nice.  Lots of fun for her mama.

Deladis has “gotten a mouth”.  She simply tells us “no” when she doesn’t like a request or our plans.  I had to chase her all over the playground at the music school on the last day.  She was loudly telling me that “no” she was not going home.  Plain and simple.  Today, during school time, she pretends she doesn’t know things that I know good and well she does.  Picking up her toys is also a “no”.

I’m exhausted.  I’m on the edge.  This is part of motherhood.  The times after you think you’ve gotten it under control – after you feel like things are going to be really good for awhile – when you realize that the next stage is just beginning and you will be adjusting all over again.  I don’t have it all together.  There are times when I feel like what I truly need is a break, and not a short one either.  When I feel like I need to completely change our lifestyle because something is not going right at all, it is so tempting to sit and whine.  To feel bad.  To blame myself.  To accuse myself of not being cut out for the job.  Then, what good does all that do?  Where do you go from here?  Parenting books, self-help, religious texts???  Complaining in online mothering forums.  Praying or meditating, hoping for some divine intervention.  Or waiting.  Realizing that there is nothing wrong with the picture.  It is what it is.  You are who you are, waiting for the full moon to wane.

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.

To be an Appalachian is to exist in the midst of stereotype (we aren’t the only people who do).  You’ve read me going on about it here before.  There’s no escaping it, even in the most unexpected places.  I have lived with watching the perception of who I am change for a person as soon as I open my mouth and speak.  And as much as that can tick me off, I must admit that I believe most stereotypes are made from the misunderstanding of truth.  John believes it too, and it becomes apparent in his paintings.  There is a part of us that is prideful of being in that state of misunderstanding – it is comfortable to us.  It has been our way of life for generations.

Where You Goin' Baby? - John Haywood, 2009 http://www.haywoodart.com

One of the stereotypes that is very prominent in most Appalachians I know – at least in east Kentucky – is our fight.  Our clannish ways.  Our ability to hold a grudge.  Our seeming lack of concern about getting physical if need be.  Our willingness to stand up for what is right even when we know good and well it is wrong.

Every trait develops for a reason.  We are evolutionary beings.  We adapt ourselves to meet the needs of our environment both physical and emotional.  Otherwise we’d have all died out long ago.  I thank the Creator for that.  My people in particular (as with many Appalachians) are Native American and European.  In the specific combination of my family, it is Irish and Cherokee most abundantly.  My native people were here for thousands of years.  Here is there’s.  Simply.  My European ancestors dared to settle the frontier.  They dared to go up in them mountains and stay.  They were looking for home in landscape.  They were looking for respect.  They were looking for freedom to live the life they set out to live by coming to America, when they found in the early cities it was not the promised land and not as welcoming as they had expected.

My people entered the mountains with a fight in them.  I will live by the standards I set for myself – and family, God, and myself is the only answering I am obligated to do. A way of life developed.  We looked out for one another against those who came in from somewhere else.  We fought for what we believed mattered.

In present day, I see our fight regrettably directed at the wrong situations.  I see it serving its purpose in truth on rare occasion anymore.  It is intolerably sad, so I put that in the back of my mind.  But, right now, I am considering my fight.  Physically I’ve been in one real fight, and two almost fights.  I fought a boy in the fourth grade.  My daddy had taught me a trick – see, and I used that trick, so it didn’t last very long.  I had a bloody jaw.  The almost fights were in 8th grade and college and those were fights for honor.  Most of the fighting I did was on the basketball court.  Us mountain girls were terrors on the hardwood.  Not just for playing good ball, but because you didn’t want to get us too mad.  We’d get you out of the way as best we could without a bad call by the ref, but if it couldn’t be avoided, we’d take one.

What normally could be a kind hearted compassionate person woman or man is turned by a speck at the first thought of honor or home being threatened whether it be their own or a family member’s.  Gurney Norman read a story Friday night at the Seedtime on the Cumberland Literary Reading that got me to thinking about all this.  The family of characters disapprove of their daddy’s/grand-daddy’s new marriage, and when grand-daddy also comes to despise it, his daughter goes to run the woman off in her dress, hat, and nice black pocketbook, threatening to get physical with her.  We were all laughing and shaking our heads – get ’em girl.  It was hilarious.  A truly lovely story.

I got to read too!!!

It is this passion about our right to live the life we choose, where we choose, and how we choose that drives so many of us.  A life that is by no means a permanent fixture on this earth or even in our experience – our path.  And sometimes it becomes so personal that we forget there is a bigger picture, other experiences and paths.  A deep ingrained belief in respect for the “person”.  It has most definitely ignited passions in me or at the very least fueled them.  But, sometimes, when used in a way that is not appropriate it is more of a detriment than anything else.  It’s true for all of us in these hills.

Yesterday, I made a decision.  Whether it be a cause I believe in, something I feel I am supposed to be doing for people, or my perceived obligations in life, I’m approaching it differently.  What makes me – me?  How am I sure I’m doing the right things?  It’s one of those things that you can’t really put into words, but, I’m believing it is the difference between fighting through life and flying.  There comes a time when old ways of being leaves us stuck.  They don’t serve us anymore.  Putting them off doesn’t change who we are.  There is always our basis – what we know already, and in relying on that most basic of basic we can take the risk, and open ourselves to something new.  What we are doing right now is the result of the path we are taking, and how closely we are paying attention to where it leads, our mode of travel, and the true distractions along the way.

“Be the change you want to see in the world.”  Ghandi

“And don’t expect it of anyone else…” Kelli (if I might add to Ghandi… :))

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.  🙂

Dots of color through greener grass…

Fairy houses turn glorious with decoration…

The individual asks to be heard amongst all the bloom…

The redbud tree dots pink and purple…

The legend as told by my grandmother (Barbara (Johnson) Mullins Fletcher) is that Judas Iscariot hung himself on a redbud.  Redbuds used to be a large tree with bountiful white blossoms.  Judas chose this tree to take his life after betraying Jesus.  When he did so, the tree withered down and turned pink with embarrassment and thus we have the redbud.

Everyone is curious…

The trees aren’t the only thing budding.  Deladis spends her days creating.  An artist she might make…

God bless her. 😉

I probably won’t be posting or be able to answer comments for the next week or so.  The Haywoods have some work to do.  Hope to see some old friends as well. 🙂  I’ll be back soon.

Hi everyone!  I wanted to invite you to my “birth” blog today to check out a three part series I have been working on.  The first post is on the history of childbirth in eastern Kentucky.  I hope you enjoy it.

http://birthtrueblog.wordpress.com

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About Me

An Appalachian woman born and raised, mothering two little girls in a place that is non-existent to AT&T or UPS. Happily working toward a sustainable lifestyle and writing on the demand of a loud muse.

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