A Place For The Future Past


Another Birthday….
September 22, 2007, 2:13 pm
Filed under: Community On The Earth

….almost slid past with a minimum of fanfare — except for the need for a re-do of my driver’s license (height remained the same, but five pounds more than the last time) — still brought me to a place of self-assessment. How has this year gone? Well, gotta say — pretty darn fine! Now here at Dryad’s Rest for nearly a year, we’ve had the blessed opportunity to watch they seasons turn here and more, be a part of it all. Our first year’s harvest is good — and we are filled with plans for increasing garden beds, greenhouses and plantings. The greenhouse is bursting full of tomatoes, beets (still!) herbs and other tasty bits, the beds outside have towering tomatoes and massive squashes (yellow crook-neck mainly). Apples and grapes are minimal (due to the aggressive pruning we did this year) but should bear heavily next year. The thorn-less blackberry starts have been getting established — they should take off with gusto in the spring — but while we wait for the thorn-less variety to establish, the wild versions in the forest have filled our bowls and baskets. The potato bed was only a starter bed, hacked out of the clay hillside, but it has produced heavily with more to come. All of the fruit trees planted this past winter/spring have survived, the blueberries even managed to produce a small crop, even after getting “pruned” by the local deer and (SIGH) my horse. And we have a barn full of healthy kids and several milking does, still going strong.

The approaching breeding season has our herd sire Walnut in FULL MALE GOATY GLORY. Mind you, he was but a wee young fellow when we got him, with hardly a whiff about him. NO MORE. This boy is boy-oh-boy stinky now! And handsome. We have him separated with Vicky –our lone remaining virgin — in the hopes that this year she will breed and pass along her genes. It is her last chance (are you listening, Vicky??) before she gets put into the freezer. If she manages to produce offspring, she can stay — her dam, Vista was much like her; built like a tank and further milked like a dream — nearly a gallon each time! But also passed along was a very bad attitude, stand-offish, wildish and worse a screamer. A beautiful but very annoying goat. So she has until the end of this year’s breeding season (January) to produce either babies and milk — or meat. And if it’s babies, we plan to pull them at birth and hand raise in an attempt to tame her offspring from the start.

And this year also was our first annual weekend party, which went extremely well, with many plans for years to come. So with this Equinox I light few candles and sticks of incense and say a few prayers for the hopes of blessings to come.

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It has happened to all of us, I am sure. A close and trusted friend betrayed me some years past, during a time of my life when my heart was already broken and bleeding on the ground. I had withstood trials and pain before, but this attack from behind leveled me, to point of my deliberately withdrawing a significant aspect of my life and I took time out to heal. That’s where my beaded buckskin gown came from — a two year project, researched then entirely handsewn with many personal elements (the gown my good friend Richard Stevens calls my “Trail of Tears Dress” and he is so right!). I have found that in times of blackest personal crisis the best way to heal was to turn inside out and challenge my core self, challenge and take stock. So, instead of lighting black candles and wishing bad things upon my ex-friend, I trusted that the Universe would handle things for me while I tended to the task of fixing myself and getting my little family back on track. And where am I now? Had I had then the ability to look forward to now, I would never have believed it, it is so much better than before, and all done by myself — no lottery win, no marrying a wealthy man. And my ex-friend? I have heard that this person recently had been divorced (other betrayals and many infidelities uncovered, alcoholic and now morbidly overweight), and cast out of their personal Eden, so to speak. Now, I am mildly curious what this person will do next — will they come through their trauma a better person? I doubt it.

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September’s here!
September 2, 2007, 5:48 pm
Filed under: Community On The Earth

The summer is flying by, without a chance to write…Lady had her babies, Wallace and Whimsy. Camlann has come and gone with extreme mileage put in, a major part of the experience has been driving. My precious daughter and her husband have bid adieu and moved to the East coast (Baltimore). The shop has been busy as well, with a few enormously complicated custom orders (and it looks like this fall will be very very busy, not one but two full productions are on the books as well as Halloween). And during all of this, preparations were being made for the first (of a hopefully annual event) Dryad’s Rest Open House, over Labor Day weekend…..

The woods were prepped for an orienteering/puzzle game — fresh trails cut and clues set up. It was a new experience playing the gamemaster — but my years with the local mounted orienteering chapter came in handy as the course was set. Granted, this game would be on foot, but it could be easily expanded in the future to accommodate horses for a mounted version. After the first day, I am well pleased. Not only were the first gamers successful at completing the game, they learned a new skill — using a compass and map reading. Hopefully as the years go by, the woods (and trails) will develop and make each successive game more interesting and fun. Besides, it’s the perfect way to give a tour of the property.

And archery course was set up at the Village site — though for now the concept of an actual village is only in the planning stage. Still, brush was cleared and whacked down, a straw bale target set up with a painted bullseye and netting stretched behind as a backstop.

And Emily outdid herself with the menu — roasted goat (Red did a smoked version), assorted goat cheeses and a huge pot of borscht. Most of the guests have not eaten goat before, and they were well served, very tasty (Thank you, Frikka). Marsee and her husband brought some of his fabulous award-winning apple pies — yum! Sunday morning Em whipped up a souffle, yum!

Saturday we had perfect weather and a good turnout, Sunday promises to be quieter, with more folks rolling Monday. A fun time to be had by all…..



Days of Summer, Days of Heaven
July 13, 2007, 7:30 am
Filed under: Community On The Earth

Summer is here, in all its glory…days of hot weather and rapid growth….In the greenhouse, cauliflower has grown faster than we can harvest and eat, the herbs are lush, the cabbage making fast progress, the tomatoes are all thriving….

Outside the greenhouse deer have been nibbling, but since the fourth of July there have been few sightings, they are still out there but not as bold as before.  Which is fine with me, because they can be as devastating as the goats ever were (and still are, if one leaves the garden gate open. Ahem).  The roses have remained untouched but corn and blueberries have suffered.  So, barriers are being built but alas will not reach full effectiveness this year.  SIGH that will be one for next year, at least the blueberries will have a chance to get well established. 

 Speaking of the 4th, I can with great relief report that out here it was far far quieter.  Granted, it honestly could have not been much worse (than perhaps actually living ON a reservation) than the old place in Algona….But around here are farmers who are growing stuff like hay, and a stray bottle rocket could be source of disaster — almost NO family displays of fireworks from my neighbors.  Have I mentioned that all the views from the house are woods? No neighbors in sight.  Heaven.

On the hill, the yurt is making steady progress — the supports have been set and the floor is going up and it’s only one or two paychecks away from being finished.  Once that is done then the official call for all hands will go out, for the yurt will be ready for complete assembly.  One very exciting note, Red’s parents will be investing in a composting toilet for them, which is very wonderful news, in fact the best of all possible solutions to the challenge of septic system choices.

Meanwhile important guests have visited — Judith and Terry (with the kids) who have not been at Dryad’s Rest since when the weather was cold and nasty and muddy.  Now the woods are glorious and perfect for kids to play.  Also one of my bestest costuming friends Richard Stevens and his lovely wife LeAnn; and good friend Jacob Priestley of Camlann — all were given the nickel tour are being encouraged to come back and play, often. 

Goat babies are growing fast, with two of the largest boys reserved for clients.  Milk production is going very well, with regular batches of cheese and gallons of milk being frozen for future use.  In the packing department Wonka made a splendid impression during the Pe Ell fourth of July parade, carrying his adorable packs stuffed with flowers — about halfway through the parade he realized what a charming and yummy load he was carrying and would stop and take a nibble, which the crowd found delightful.  At the end of a very long and hot afternoon when Emily sat down on the curb for a break he jumped up into her lap and put his head on her shoulder — and instantly fell asleep.   Very cute.  Emily herself made quite a stunning picture, in a purpleish burgandy skirt and a black velvet Ren corset and white chemise.  In fact, nobody recognized her — she had to remind them.  

The horses are getting ridden regularly now, though somedays just bareback briefly.  Still, baby steps are best sometimes — big Jennifer is becoming accustomed to us more and more.  Chance is looking magnificent and getting regular exercise and all the grazing he wants. 

SIGH there’s never enough time!  

Time for a cup of tea…. 



Beets and Babies
June 25, 2007, 3:56 pm
Filed under: Community On The Earth

Last week we harvested beets, pulling several pounds worth. The beets Em cooked and canned; the tops I blanched, divided into baggies and froze. A few beets I snagged from the cookpot and chopped up for killer borscht (served warm or cold). We peed bright red for days. The only problem with the borscht was I didn’t make enough, it seemed to melt away as we were all dipping and tasting, snagging a mug here and a bowl there.
Today I made a huge pot of it, hoping to be able to freeze some of it — if we can keep our purple-dyed paws out of it.

Spinach has all bolted, and the old plants cleared to make room for growing eggplant and cauliflower. Some of the growing thyme, basil and sage have been moved out to the little kitchen garden with the wooden bridge. There it joins rosemary, winter savory, lemon balm, mint and dill.
Tomatoes are setting fruit and onions are growing rapidly, as are the leeks and bush beans Lettuce will be soon past its prime, soon it will need clearing and their beds refortified and resown.

In the forest, foxglove, daisy and columbine are blooming, with a very few remaining iris. During a trailclearing session was discovered an orange tiger lily, hopefully there will be more. And wild rose is everywhere, Em has so far been thwarted by the quickly changeable weather in gathering petals — best done on a hot day after a hard rain, the scent is best then for beadmaking. Hopefully today will be the day…..

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In the barn, all babies are eating well and growing like weeds — which is cutting into the milk-for-cheese supply. But soon weaning will begin in earnest, already some of the mothers are starting to cut off their kids after a few moments, and the kids are nibbling at hay, grass and mash. In the house, Wikka and Winnifred are doing very well, little Winni is a far cry from the glassy-eyed rag doll she once was. Still the tiniest, she is gaining on the others in size and strength. Wonka has been getting leash lessons in anticipation for his grand entry into the Pe Ell Fourth of July parade (yes I must make a little goat sized costume). He has already made a few forays in to town with Em and Red, causing quite a few second and third takes. Ladies have been known to leave their registers and customers unattended to come out and gush over the little guy, who is fast gaining the reputation of being quite the ladies man. We occasionally have drop in visitors to visit and look over our “operation”, but no fear — Em has been keeping a spotless barn, and the manure gets raked regularly and put into the gardens and compost piles — next years’ gardens should be double the size and scope of this year……

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Inside, one of my biggest challenges has been to create a working space that helps to keep me on task — previously my sewing area has been a tiny cornet of the living room. However I have come to realize that such a strategy has kept me from my machines — it’s too tempting to follow the call of the outdoors and grab a shovel or loppers or rake or reins and leave my workbasket untouched. So a large area facing the windows and the unparalleled view of the giant maple tree has been commandeered and is slowly developing into a work area. I will just have to make the effort at keeping my projects neat and put away when not working, so it does not get out of control. Easier said than done when my usual method is to work at least four projects at any one time…..



Triumphs and challenges
June 17, 2007, 3:25 am
Filed under: Community On The Earth

Thirteen babies — eleven in the barn, two in the house. Callie, the last holdout (and a first freshener) decided to have hers at 6am instead of sensibly, in the midafternoon like everyone else. And she had three, a boy and two girls. But as she was having the third she laid on and squashed the boy, who had come first. Very sad.

Afterwards, she was cleaning and cooing and apparently nursing the girls, but at some point in the night she decided that this nursing stuff was just too weird and stopped feeding them. Come morning they were cold and unresponsive, laid out flat in the pen. So, into the house they came for emergency revival and care. The spotted girl (Wikka) bounced back and began to eat with gusto, but the tiny one (Winnifred) remained in serious shape for a few days. Now, a week later and she’s finally up and behaving like a goat — even though she’s still very small. Instead of bleating like her older sister, she peeps — or rather meeps. Very cute.

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The deer are getting bolder, coming into the garden yard and poking around brazenly (the former owner Mr Carl had given up on having his vegetable garden — where the greenhouse now stands — because of the deer coming right up and munching veggies). Day before yesterday Em was standing on the porch and watched as a BIG buck came up to the greenhouse and peeked in the door (which we keep ajar during hot days) — he was clearly remembering good things to eat in that very same location years past. He turned to look at her, they had a staredown for a minute or so (she didn’t move for fear of spooking him THROUGH the greenhouse), then he casually turned and walked away. I see does all the time, and a doe with two babies were visiting the horses yesterday. Very interesting!

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The shop continues to chug along, but a shift will be happening soon — school events will cease and summer activities continue, including weddings and fairs. But now my summer duties (Seattle Knights and Camlann) are kicking in and taking over more precious hours of daylight. Actually, Camlann has taken them all over with rehearsals after work three nights a week and soon weekends (Saturday and Sunday, last seven weekends of July and August). Gas is still a concern, with the price hovering around $3 a gallon. At home, we struggle to keep on track with new projects — such as raising baby jumbo chinese ringneck pheasants, they are in the horsetrailer which has been converted to the need in the aviary. And the problems. Tractor is down, and there’s something killing the chickens, we suspect big raccoons feeding families. So projects like clearing new areas and settling up round pens and building quaint sheds and huts is taking a backseat in the ever changing list of priorities. Very challenging.

Solstice is but a day or so away — the longest day of the year, very wonderful……



goat cheese and greens
June 5, 2007, 12:14 am
Filed under: Community On The Earth

Yesterday Judith and Terry and their two youngsters came over to spend a few glorious hours — the kids immediately began exploring (after looking over all the goats and feeding Wonka) while the grownups visited. We discussed upcoming workshop ideas — spinning would be an obvious first as we have locals as well as Judith’s crowd who are eager to have a country retreat class — as well as planned for the local blackpowder group to come down and help transform a sector for private events…… We feasted on fresh garden salad and beets and beet greens with Red smoke-roasting a pork roast with potatoes… They went home with a gallon of fresh goat milk, a huge bag of lettuce and a fresh ball of goat cheese — and a promise that they’ll be back for a campout later this month. 😉

Today dawned cool and showery, a welcome break after such hot dry weather. I was able to get more potatoes planted as well as the outside tomato beds going (those with Em’s help). We are trying an approach I have been studying, laying black landscape fabric across the prepared bed, then planting the tomato starts in holes cut into the fabric at intervals. It should warm and mulch the soil as well as control the weeds and control tomato blight — a problem I was plagued with at the Algona place.

The corn is coming up, and the grapes are sprouting like crazy. It’s time to place the squash and pumpkins and cucumbers……In the forest two more flowers have been discovered — blue-eyed grassflowers and yellow evening primrose. In the garden the roses are in bloom, and delphinium, lavender, devil’s tears and daisies, petunias and carnations and lobilia and love-in-a-mist and poppies and columbines and honeysuckle….



LOTS of baby goats!
June 3, 2007, 3:44 am
Filed under: Community On The Earth

As of this moment, the count stands officially at ELEVEN baby goats, with one last doe yet to kid.  All births fairly simple except for one — Frakka had one big boy (Wonka) that did not get out easily — when finally born, she immediately rejected him. Emilie did a heroic job in bringing him back to life…. He had been stuck for so long his little jaw was out of alignment and his face swollen.  We used a baby medication tube (it looks like a miniature turkey baster) and fed him a teaspoonful of goat colostum and milk at a time.  Now, two weeks later he’s a boisterous bottle baby and doing great!  He even is teaching the other babies that bottles are good things 😉  While the moms are out at pasture we feed them a diluted milk mixture, Wonka is first in line to eat and the other babies got the idea very quickly 😉

Where the future dairy will be (just south of the barn) Emilie has created a marvelous sitting area that Mom travels out to sit and watch them play and bounce and run and bounce and jump and bounce oh did I mention they BOUNCE??? Like they are wearing springs on their feet!

Let’s see, Lana was first (William and Winston) then Lulu (Wendy and Wanda) then Frakka (Wonka) then Frikka (Willow and Whipple) then Penny (Wascal E. and Wabbit) then Lucy (Whisper and Wuanita).  Lastly will be whatever comes out of Callie.  Unfortunately Lady and Vicki did not take this time around…..

and….the first batch of fresh goat cheese has been made and sampled, yum!

My sister Jenny came for a ten day visit and it was too short a time to have her.  She was able to look about and see all that’s underway but most importantly was able to visit with Mom and see she’s doing well. 

The aviary is now ready for the arrival of the jumbo chinese ringneck chicks — who unfortunately their shipment was delayed two weeks because of the hatchery’s computer screw-up ;-(  Two weeks later will come the guinea chicks.

The bit of land just east of the house is getting a facelift into a delightful fairy bower and kid magnet 😉 Emilie has done a fabulous job twining branches and clearing brambles…. The year round spring was cleaned up and flow was restored to the lower pumphouse, enabling us to irrigate with springwater (and save on wear and tear of our master well and pump).  This is a good thing because the days are already hot and very dry — and the growing gardens are thirsty.  Salad, anyone?

In the forest the most wonderful discoveries have been made — little meadows and glens, and multitudes of wildflowers — white daisy and red columbine and purple iris and pink wild roses — enough roses for making lots of rose beads…trails continue to be cut through the woods, fresh deertrack is everywhere…..

The beeboxes have been sorted out and set up, awaiting their first residents…..

The lower pastures and meadows have dried out, leaving the most wonderful areas for camping and playing — we eagerly await the first of many many events…..

The wood for the yurt floorplan is almost all together — soon, it goes up!  HOORAY!!