random musings and discoveries

It has come to my attention that of the eight families that live in this beautiful valley of ours, we have a Huck and two Finns, which couldn’t be more awesome. Chickens outnumber humans by about four to one — we haven’t gotten ours yet so that will increase exponentially (we’ll soon be starting with 18 but that will likely double). There are two recording studios and a stage for music festivals. Everyone joins together in the summers for potlucks and the swapping of fruit and veggie garden abundance, pies, jams, herbs, flowers, eggs, pickled miscellany and other yummies grown or made with love. All eight families are comprised of musicians, artists or both. 

These are just a sprinkling of the reasons why we immediately felt as if we were coming home the day we moved here, even before we were aware of it. We’re really excited to meet everyone that we haven’t yet met — they already sound like part of our extended tribe. ♡ 

We’re trying not to be such busy home bodies and finally ventured west to Elkton, the next town over. It’s cute, and the drive there is stunning.

In other random new, our red hawthorn tree count has now exceeded our ability to keep up. So many new babies! If anyone wants some berries for seeds to plant their own, let me know. We’ll be adding black and douglas hawthorns to the mix soon too. I think I ought to start a little side “thing” called Heartwood Nursery where I sell hawthorn, oak, western red cedar, doug fir and other native seedlings to spread the tree love (because I have so very much free time with all the rebuilding and remodling, my shamanic/healing practice, the farm, cooking for so many hours a day, my art, teaching shamanic and art workshops, greenhouse building and sales, community planning and creation, etc.). Oh how I love trees though!

Speaking of which, we have yet another addition to the tree family: a strawberry tree. Look up arbutus unedo to see better pictures. It’s an evergreen native to the Mediterranean that produces weirdly cool looking edible berries that kind of but not quite resemble strawberries. (They’re not remotely related to the strawberry family, however.) This was yet another amazing gift. We are in awe and the deepest of gratitude for the abundance of gifts we’ve received since moving here! I can’t wait to share overflowing baskets of fruit, veggies, herbs, eggs, berries and flowers with our neighbors and friends. 

With the crazy rains, we now have a pond in the lower field. The ducks and geese will surely be thrilled, though they don’t come until after the chickens. Finn wants to turn it into a permanent pond (as opposed to seasonal) and grow rice here. He’s such a cool kid.

Little did we know that our creek-turned-river would rise even more. We have some serious white water rapids along part of it. Fun!

This is the 2.5 to 3′ sloped rocky hill that goes to one of the larger beaches. I see no rock hounding for awhile…

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rising waters and pretty views

The past week was so busy with waiting (see previous post) and healing client appointments that it had been about five days since venturing out around the property. Today we had visitors so we got to walk around for a couple of hours. It was wonderful! 

These two photos were taken in roughly the same place. The first was from about 6 weeks ago when we had a lovely meandering creek. The second is the raging river that we will have for the late autum and winter months.

Here is another comparison… the top two being the left and right at the lower creek, and the bottom photo being what the area has become now after the rains. If I were a fisher or fish eater, I’d spend the rest of the day catching salmon. (I’m not really sure when salmon season is though, so maybe I wouldn’t catch any.) We have trout though too, and bass.

I finally got to meet our moss covered Yew tree during our walk. What a magical being! In Celtic tradition, the Yew is referred to as the tree of resurrection or the tree of eternity. It’s associated with Winter Solstice and was often used as protection from evil. 

I’m not kidding when I tell you there are so many magical trees on this property. ♡ Not just in type but in pairings and location, i.e. oak and hawthorn surrounding the original homes and property lines. I seriously wouldn’t have planted things any differently had I been the planter, except I’d add a few English Hawthorn among the Red Hawthorn (which I intend to do).

We walked up to the upper part of the creek near the waterfalls. These two photos are taken about seven weeks apart and in the same location except that the second is from behind the bramble because the space below isn’t accessible. 

This is the path we’d take if we were going to the place where we hunt for crystals and rocks. It’s now impassable, but we may be able to get down there from the road. That being said, it’s quite possibly underwater too. I imagine we will find so many wonderful treasures when the waters retreat back down!

We took our friends down to our secret love area where we had cleared of half a couple of months ago. This is the place with a huge open area, covered in woven branches and leaves, with winding, tangled branches around the edges in the forest floor.

I can’t wait to see how high the waters rise to decide if we should build a temporary seasonal hut or a tiny cob house.

It was such a lovely morning visiting with our friends. They just left to go drive up the coast and we are planting some things. It is stunningly sunny and warm today.

Oh!! I peeked at our garlic under it’s blanket of straw yesterday and it’s growing. I was joking that now we technically have a garlic farm. By the end of the day, with any luck, we will have both a garlic and blueberry farm. We still have 10 blueberry plants to get into the ground. Yum!!

Happy Green Friday! 😉

roof, rocks, recipe

Holy cow, Sunday was amazing! Paul, Brandon, Jake (and Finn for part of the day) pulled off the two old layers of roof on cabin one, replaced all of the rotten sheathing, did the flashing, completed the roof and tacked down the ridge cap before dark. Well, and into darkness while wearing headlamps, but the point is that they kicked massive butt!

We have a roof!! Paul had already cut and framed in the chimney support stuff through the attic crawl space so all that needs to be done now is the roof on the bedroom addition, finish attaching the ridge cap to both main cabin and addition, and install the chimney. Holy cow, we are so close! B is definitely one of the kings of the universe and is coming back on Saturday to help. We are so blessed to have such amazing friends!

We’ll be tending to the porch roof and adding all new gutters later. Originally we were going to go with a red roof and paint all of the cabins totally different bright colors kind of like a storybook lane. But at the last minute we decided maybe it would be better to blend in to nature and went with this sexy green roofing instead. 

We thought we would get the chimney finished and the wood stove fully installed and burned in by this weekend but… nope. I’m annoyed with Lowe’s (really their vendor — Lowe’s has actually been awesome). We had to special-order the chimney pipe which was supposed to be here on the 1st. No call on the 1st so they say it will be here on the 3rd. No call on the 3rd so they say it will be here on the 7th. I called today and I’m told it should be there by the 17th! Seriously!? No heat for another week and a half? Dang.

We got the water heater hooked back up last night though. We’d had heated water for maybe one week out of the past two months we’ve been here. Pure Bliss! I ordered a short shower curtain rod on Amazon and they sent us the wrong one. Oops! And I couldn’t find our shower curtain hooks but we made do with staples and duct tape. How wonderfully awesome hot showers are! I love our funky set-up. It makes me giggle. 

Jake stayed the night Saturday and we all took Sunday off. We usually take at least half the day off on Sundays but this time we decided we were going to do nothing but explore and enjoy each other’s company.

We went down to the creek on the side of the faery pools and much to our surprise, the water was quite a bit lower than the couple of weeks previous. The sun even came out for about twenty minutes. 

The guys ventured off while I was visiting with a tree and taking photos and Paul returned and said “you HAVE to come with me!”

We meandered through paths and bramble, climbed over fallen logs and duck-walked under others.

This was the first treasure I found before we even got “there”…

At first it looked like petrified muscle to me. I still really don’t know what it is but it’s beautiful. 

This majestic fallen oak marked the entrance to “the place”. 

Oh my goodness! A beach of amazing rocks, crystals, minerals and treasures such as tumbled glass and pieces of smooth antique china.

The three of us hunted and rock hounded until the sky opened up and soaked us to the bone.

We left with our pockets full of the most amazing finds!

I can’t wait to go back! I could seriously live there. Oh, right, we do live there. ♡ There is a whole huge second set of waterfalls as well but I was so obsessed with treasure hunting I forgot to take a picture. Don’t worry, we will definitely be going back within the next day or two.

Lastly, Finn wanted me to share a recipe. We have such a sweet boy! It’s not so much a recipe as it is a means of avoiding waste though. When he makes rice, there’s always WAY too much left over, and left over rice isn’t super tasty, at least plain.

1. Stir your leftover rice so it’s not stuck together in a big clump.

2. Whip a bunch of eggs and mix them together. Add finely chopped onion, garlic, cayenne pepper, salt and black pepper… whatever you want. Grated cheese is awesome too.

3. Fry it in some organic olive or canola oil and butter until it’s all golden brown and yummy.

4. Add something to it to make it a tasty sandwich. Here we have two fried eggs, cheese and a whole bunch of sauteed kale for a good sized breakfast sandwich. 

The guys love it. I don’t really eat grains or carbs pretty much at all but these little rice cake patties are so good I always make myself at least a silver dollar sized one. It works awesome with leftover oatmeal too, with a little brown sugar and cinnamon, diced apple and dried cranberries. We make it topped with fresh foraged berries the first time.

humans are adaptable creatures

For so long I’ve quietly watched how disconnected the human race (as a generalized collective) has gotten from nature. I watched our little family do the same for years. Sure, we’d frequently go hiking, took at least one trip a week to the forest, grew some of our own food, picnicked outside frequently and even talked to trees, but it still felt as if there was an ever so slight disconnection. Like we were missing… something. 

Since we’ve moved here and have slept on the earth under the stars night after night, week after week, I’ve felt that connection grow and deepen in ways I can’t eloquently put into words. It’s as if that veil was lifted, thin as it was. Without distracting TV and computers or “easy” things like hot running water or bathtubs, your focus shifts. 

Yesterday we could feel that the waters had risen before we even went down to investigate. 

The sun ended up staying out yesterday after hard morning rains and we wandered quietly around the property, discovering new paths, trees, nooks and crannies. We listened. We felt.

We just sat and observed. Absorbed.

When you listen… really truly listen… you can hear so many amazingly beautiful things. Have you ever heard a tree sing? A hay field whisper? A creek talk? Vision changes when you’re truly quiet. Have you ever seen moss grow? Or the leaves change color ever so slightly right before your eyes? These are such magical things! Taking a few moments every day, or even every week if you’re the busy type, can be so enlightening and rewarding. 

The distractions in modern life are huge. Things like shopping and clothes brands and television and status and wealth and facebook don’t matter. Really. Take all of that away and life, at least for us, is enhanced a million times over. I’m not saying people should sell all their stuff and move to a cave but spending even just one day removing all of the distractions and busyness is so awakening. Life is a million times more than what we actually see.

My point is that adapting to less often equates to thriving in new ways. More. Learning things about yourself and mother earth that you may not have otherwise observed. Living more deeply and fully than you may have done previously. 

Having to work for your bounty makes you appreciate it more: filtering your water before you can drink it, boiling it before you can wash your dishes or clothes or bodies, rebuilding an entire house before you can dwell under a roof. (That is not to say our tent isn’t comfortable! Ours is a palatial retreat which I intend to return to tonight as the days are nearing the seventies again this week.)

I can’t help but think about all of our things we have locked up in a 40 foot shipping container on our property. Things we haven’t seen or touched or utilized in almost 2 months and really haven’t even needed. It makes me wonder why people get so caught up in the buying of stuff. Do we really need any of that? Sure, getting a new stove yesterday was freaking awesome! But food is life so that makes sense. So much else doesn’t make as much sense to me anymore. 

From now on I would rather spend our time in nature and our time and money on things that enhance that. Plants for the gardens and forests. Trips to new lands. The blue elderberries above were forged yesterday, free. Those will become elderberry tea, elderberry syrup and new blue elderberry shrubs on our land. What an amazingly bountiful discovery! 

This is today’s sky… stunningly blue and bright. We spent the morning working hard and now we’re going to have a wee lunch feast under this warm blanket of blue, outside while enjoying our new life, our land and each other before returning to work. Gotta balance the work, rest and play! Tonight will be wonderful as we’re having dinner guests now that we can cook tastier things. Life is beautiful! Enjoy it, my friends and family. 

ugh… and pretty stuff

Well, “the final” march was far from accurate. Let’s rephrase (regarding our previous post)… yesterday’s march of the carpenter ants was just beginning. 

Fortunately or unfortunately, the husb and boy didn’t get a photo of the writhing, watermelon sized mass of huge carpenter ants discovered today. I didn’t see them either, just the aftermath. 

One whole (extra) area is jacked up. Munch, munch, go the ants. Spray, spray go the fellas… and we discover our otherwise amazing organic cedar pest spray doesn’t actually kill them as I was told it would. We used a whole $25 bottle today for nothing. Dang it. (Wondercide is an AWESOME alternative to poison for pets/fleas/ticks, mosquitoes, little house ants, etc. though). Super soapy water with essential oils of rosemary, oregano and lemon worked better, and we’ll be ordering a metric ton of good grade diatomacious earth post haste. And replacement wood.

That is/was our feat for Wednesday. And grocery shopping. And pulling out another few tons of drywall and insulation. And the creation and enjoyment of three huge meals, followed by three huge loads of dishes (still no hot water, but soon). And finishing the deep cleaning of cabin five’s bedroom because nights in the 30 degree range are cold in a tent*. And that cabin doesn’t have any pests or vermin. Or I should say that cabin doesn’t have any *visible* pests or vermin.

*The childman has taken to sleeping inside as of three nights ago. (Internet and privacy. Not warmth. He’s always warm.)

Even after the massive spray downs, they continue their march. Little fuckers.

Much has been accomplished though! This is peering in the front door. Huge progress. Just a little bit of the living room remains, plus the kitchen. 

In more lovely news, we spent about three hours on Sunday forging a new path to a place in the forest that was otherwise only accessible via water. 

Love the new land access! The husb found the majestic secret spot during one of our first days here while walking (and swimming) up the center of the creek and surprised me with it. Go down the path above about fifty feet, turn right to the path below, and you’re more than halfway there.

More trail clearing. (I’ll share the actually spot soon)

In the meantime I’ll say this place is magic! There are arched vines and twigs overhead, about seven feet tall, and a blanket of soft moss, leaves and sand covering the forest floor making it cozy. Along either side of the paths there you can stop to eat blackberries and wild raspberries, then settle in for a wee afternoon nap.

Two fallen trees along the creek make it almost invisible to others, not that “others” traverse this part of our creek. The water sounds are peaceful and mesmerizing. 

If you lay in this area on your back and look up, this is what you see.

And this is the view to the left.

This is where we are going to build our late spring to early autumn “love hut,” which is just a glorified fort for adults. (We’ll have a second one for the rest of the year too, of course.)

There are curved magic wands all over this area, tumbled smooth by the high winter waters. There are butterflies there too, and moths, deer, newts, faeries, elves, a thousand birds… and not a single carpenter ant. It’s perfection.

week one progress (and trusting your gut)

What a productive first week we had on the farm! So productive, in fact, that I spaced writing a blog post. Whoops. We’ll all three try to be better about such things.

We now have running water in the kitchens of cabins 1 and 5 (hot water in cabin 1!). No bathroom water yet, except one toilet, but soon.

We got the roof of cabin 1 totally cleaned and repaired. (By “we” I mean Paul did whilst I cooked and washed dishes like a pioneer lady after boiling my own water.) He and our amazing neighbor almost got the roof of cabin 2 totally done too, but… an illusive hornet’s nest made itself known and our sweet neighbor was stung four times. We felt horrible! So that roof is on the back burner for the moment too.

Cabin 1 is almost totally cleared out. A literal entire car load of paper was recycled today, and we have probably 5 car loads of donations, plus a metric ton of king sized mattresses, entertainment centers, mini fridges, couches, etc. to find new homes for too. We’ll be ready to start ripping out carpet and drywall this weekend  (except we’ll probably hold off until Monday as we have company coming Friday through Sunday). I would have gotten way more done today but I found a dead mouse in advanced decay in the kitchen (not that big of a deal), then made the HUGE mistake of opening one of the fridges that haven’t been turned on in about a year and a half (pretty big deal), and then got soaked from the waist down (in my only pair of jeans) in slimy brown sludge from coffee pot remnants (that’s what sealed the deal for me). I took the rest of the day off from purging to cook, do dishes and clean the crap out of cabin 5.

My biggest lesson of the week: trust your gut. I say “it’s going to rain tonight.” Husband says “check your app.” Weather app says 3% chance of rain. I say no, it’s GOING to rain. Everyone should have just believed me. It rained. And four days later it’s still raining. Our camp spot is now referred to as tarp city. It sounds so lovely, all the pitterpatter of drips and droplets. 

Oh! We now have a functional kitchen! I don’t think I’ve shared that yet. Definition of functional kitchen in this particular case means two burners and cold running water. It’s awesome! A non-1970s stove is our next purchase but in the meantime it’s been a huge blessing to be able to use my favorite huge pan while cooking (the camp stove is too small for its enormity) AND we can heat up our coffee in a water bath when we get distracted and let it grow cold. I really ought to hunt down our coffee maker, but in time that’ll happen. ♡ Boiling water makes me plenty happy for now. 

Every afternoon, rain or shine, we adventure together as a family, looking for new things we haven’t yet discovered…

We found our new favorite picnic spot.

And have discovered more AMAZING trees.

We enjoy finding nature treasures…

And of course at least go pop our toes into the creek if not more.

Bliss!

We’ll get more interior shots of the progress of cabin 1 soon. As of today we have internet!

we live in a faerytale setting

Every morning we work our booties off to get the cabins habitable, cut and trim overgrown paths and respectfully purge the many items that were left behind. Then, every afternoon we explore before dinner.

There is no end to the amount of magic that can be found here and every day, several times, we find ourselves totally in awe of what we have. We were in love with this place long before most of the true magic ever even revealed itself to us.

A short walk through the northernmost edge of the lower field beyond long rows of old oak and hawthorn trees, blackberries and wild flowers, you find an overgrown path through a part of the forest we hadn’t yet traversed. Paul went ahead with his machete to better clear the way for us.

Once you reach the other edge of the forest, you’re greeted by the most amazing rock formations with hundreds of circular holes filled with ludicrously smooth black rocks.

And then you see the magic! This little faery pools with three miniature waterfalls that pour into it, surrounded by wild purple Sayers and decorative grasses.

I could seriously live here. I mean we DO live here, but I could live on the rocks right here, right next to the water.

To the right there are several more waterfalls, all about three to five feet tall, that open up to the creek where an enormous perfect circle hole is. It’s like a cold water hot tub fit for eight adults, where we can sit sipping something tasty at the end of a hard day.

We started to build a sweet little altar to leave our gifts of gratitude to mother earth and all of the nature spirits who inhabit the land. We found some gorgeous agates in the creek and added them after I took this photo. 

This little area has billions of baby salmon so we didn’t walk through it, of course.

Hopefully this video works. It almost makes you feel as if you’re there to watch it.

Right across from those magical faery pools is a perfect little mossy stone area, to lay or relax in with a loved one. It’s sloped so perfectly that you can see the water flow even while laying down.

On The way back home I noticed two more maples that I hadn’t looked up to admire on our way down (the path is still rough so I was paying close attention to my footing). I imagine we’ll have to find out syrup tap soon! In the meantime, I just loved sitting in their shade and huge presence. 

The amount of love, awe, magic and bliss that we have experienced in the first six days of living here are enough to last a lifetime, and the thought that we can live here forever is beyond anything we ever dreamed we could “have”.