It is so rewarding to see my older children starting to embrace our lifestyle of their own free will. Proeun and I have been talking about how amazing destiny and synchronicity is. We made many of the decisions we are ecstatic for years ago, when it seemed foolish (sometimes even to us), but now our life is sustaining us in so so so many ways. I am ultra grateful we made the decision to follow our heart.
The past couple of weeks we have had some new additions to the farm, thanks primarily to the efforts of our older children.
One task Avril particularly likes is having chickens. We thought about purchasing from a hatchery but the Coronavirus hit about the time we would have had to order so we decided on hatching our own.
We invested in a better incubator. We did get the one with the egg turner but there is a cheaper option. In this case you would have to turn the eggs manually. This is what we did last year. You use a pencil (definitely not pen or marker) and write the date on the egg, put and X on one side, flip it over and put and O on the other. You flip from one sign to the other about every 12 hours, we did at 8:00 am and 8:00 pm. It takes 21 days to hatch chicks. Three days before they are due to hatch you stop turning the eggs. If you are using this incubator you will want to remove the egg turner at this point.
Our first batch didn’t turn out very good. Avril trouble shooted and decided that one thing she needed to do was open the incubator twice a day, a mother chicken will leave the nest sometimes so she started implementing this and the 2nd batch went better.
She has done two batches of chicks and now duck eggs are in the incubator.
A second addition to the farm is Embden Geese. We did order these from Peterson’s North Branch Mill, our absolute favorite store! We had been doing some spring cleaning jobs around the farm. I was feeling overwhelmed and seriously thought about hiring someone to complete the task, but instead I offered to pay the children if they would get the job done without me. They did and Proeun the 2nd (Two) decided to use his money to buy geese, He researched breeds and places to purchase and selected Embdens. Geese are a new addition to the farm.
If you are interested in getting into poultry chickens are a great way to begin. Many cities allow a limited number of chickens. To get started my absolutely favorite books on all things homesteading is Storey publications.
I used to feel like I had a “bad lawn”. Over the years the ratio of grass to dandelion, ground ivy (creeping charlie) and violets has been slowly, maybe not so slowly, shifting. But as we shift our overall farm focus to plant allies (i.e. plants used traditionally for what ails us) I am thankful for this shift. I am thoroughly enjoying learning ways to preserve this goodness and enjoy it during the winter months, though it is actually feeding my soul right now.
I am really connecting with one plant in particular.
Maia Toll says in her absolutely beautiful Herbiary (really for the it is a must have for the visuals of it alone)–
“Violet understands that most of us have forgotten: it’s okay to have a public face that is different from the one we wear in private. In fact, in order to deeply know ourselves, it’s necessary. . . You may think that you are being your true, authentic self by fully expressing each thought and feeling out in the world and sharing well, everything. But overexposure will send truth scurrying. Befriend your truth in the quiet and dark. Become intimate with its contours and inner dimensions before you carry it out into the light.”
Sometimes we struggle with knowing how much to share, who to share it with and how to say no. This is an area I particularly struggle with. The solution is to fully embrace and know ourselves. How interesting that when I was studying Violets I discovered that this plant is ready and willing to help. The Flower Essence Repertory has this to say about Violets–
“The soul forces of the Violet type are highly refined, full of exquisite yet delicate sweetness. Such persons long to share themselves with others, but usually hold back due to a feeling of fragility in group situations, and fear that their sense of self will be lost or submerged. Such a type often gravitates to a lifestyle or occupation where work is done silently and alone. The Violet personality inwardly feels a great deal of warmth, but he/she appears cool and aloof to others; even the body and especially the hands may be moist and cool. Although such persons may find a few others who are able to understand and accept their shyness, they suffer great feelings of loneliness, for they would like to share more of themselves than they actually do. The key to their unfoldment lies in being able to trust the warmth of others. Like the Violet flower, whose essential fragrance cannot be detected until the sun shines upon it and the air wafts it upward, so the Violet type must learn to let its essence flow into others. Violet flower essence helps such souls shift their awareness from fear of losing the Self, to trust that the Self will be warmed and revealed by others, so that their beautiful soul nature may be shared with the world.”
I find that this pretty much describes me. And so the plant I needed came. One huge part of this is finding people that I feel comfortable to share with and give to who do not take advantage of me. So while I was struggling with this dynamic I noticed the flowers asking for attention. That was last year. Violet was one of the first flower essences I made. I learned about flower essences through this book and the Green Wisdom School of Natural and Botanical Medicines. Another resource for making your own flower essences is this book.
Sadly the season for Violets was over before I had a chance to really explore it. This year I have been anxiously waiting for the Violets to come back. I am making a tincture, oil and drying leaves for tea. Note that many sources do not recommend dried Violets and it is very difficult to find to purchase. But Robin Rose Bennett sings the praises of Violets so strongly in The Gift of Healing Herbs I decided to give it a try. So my dehydrator is out and humming away. I use this one. Note that Bennett gives easy to follow instructions for making tinctures and oils with herbs and offers some interesting combinations. Her other book, Healing Magic, is also very good.
In case you need more motivation to try working with Violet this spring Bennett says this about Violet–
“If ever there was a plant that speaks to its connection to your heart, it is sweet blue violet. Not only does violet help your body dissolve cysts, lumps, and bumps, this plant’s soothing nature can help you dissolve the red-hot burn of anger, cool the draining white heat of frustration and resentment, and relieve the simmering roil of felling stuck in separation when ruled by your judgmental mind.
“Violet leaf infusion or tincture is the remedy to use if your head is aching in response to over-thinking, or to feeling angry and frustrated with someone. Violet leaf nourishes the nervous system and provides pain relief due to its salicylic acid, the anti-inflammatory chemical related to aspirin. Violet is one of the sweetest-spirited plants I know.” (Bennett, 2014)
There is also some culinary fun to be had with Violets. Here is a syrup recipe from Erin Piorier, a great local herbalist and teacher.
Have fun working with and enjoying plants this spring! If feels like this spring has been a long time coming.
I had this idea that maybe life on the farm was getting to be too much. In all honesty prior to Coronavirus we thought about moving back to the city, getting a little lot that required very little maintenance. We (Proeun and I) imagined weekends where we would say, “What shall we do today?” Normally our weekends start with a look at our “to-do” list and a sigh.
As our children got older I felt guilty about “making them” live this life that required so much from us and them. We decided to sell our animals. And I was so thankful to find a wonderful family that was excited to move our whole flock of Lincoln Longwool sheep to their farm so they were all able to stay together. We also found really amazing homes for most of our goats. But Miracle (sorry the pictures of her were on the old host for our blog and didn’t transfer) was a different story. Avril thought about it and asked if we could please keep her. We also had a couple of other special goats that will remain on our farm and have since had babies this year.
I didn’t know how much Avril really loved this life. She recently told me that her ideal life would involve raising animals on her own homestead. She has already picked out the name of her farm, but it will be a secret for awhile yet.
It is so rewarding as a parent when your children so clearly tell you that they appreciate the life you have worked so hard to offer them. This of course makes you even more motivated to keep giving for them. So today we are basking in a warm sun, feelings and baby goat cuteness.