Archive for November, 2011

LHG Retreat – the rest of Saturday

November 4, 2011

Saturday afternoon, we had a special guest teacher – Patricia Kyritsi Howell of Botanologos/Wild Healing Herbs.  She arrived a little early and was brave enough to immerse herself in our fun-filled group by eating lunch with all of us.

The focus for her class was medicinal herbs and concoctions for winter colds and flu.

After a marvelous, filling lunch, Patricia served us all a calming tea – very calming….

It’s a good thing she’s such a great teacher otherwise we would have all been fast asleep on the floor!

I don’t remember the herbs but I want to know what was in that tea.  I might just serve it to some of the school groups who come visit the farm!!

Photo -op!   Such beauty, such poise ….such hams!

(Dee is sniffing one of the  cough syrups that Patricia made up for us)

Lots of note taking in this class!  I love Stephanie in this pic.

I don’t know if it’s an “Oh no!” or  “Aha!”

After the fun time we had with Patricia – we needed a brain break…

See this peaceful little cabin near the woods?

Not any more!!

The ladies all went out to try their hand, or rather their feet, at walking on stilts.

A chicken fight challenge was thrown out to the crowd.

“HA HA!!,”  said Julie.  “I laugh in the face of danger!!”

Not sure what the outcome was but…

Julie was seen “stilting” her way into the woods.

Another cry for a challenge was tossed to the crowd by Cindy Bee.

“And who dares climb the insurmountable stairs of this cabin!!?”

“Like this!!”

Lynn grabbed hold of the challenge and ascended the stairs…

And soundly claimed her victory by also DESCENDING the stairs!

“Me, me next!!  I wanna try!”

“Ta Da!!!     …Quick take the picture before I fall off!!”

Okay – enough frivolity.  Back to serious business…

The logs had been cut earlier in the day – now they had to be split.

After careful instruction from Lynn, we really did place these dangerous tools in the hands of women!

They did a great job – of course 🙂

A little more instruction…

Which was, even if your axe gets stuck in the log – always look good!

Ah, the sweet feel of success!  I heard tell that these pieces of wood were going to be mounted on the wall, right next to the deer head!

The concentration….

The sheer determination…. (I mean, look at her face!)

The finesse and dexterity…

And of course the fun!  That’s what it takes to split wood with other women!

But beware – don’t mess with the teacher!!

Again, the woods surrounding were saved by the call to dinner.

We had a true Southern dinner and it was amazing!  Still a little full from lunch, I headed to the kitchen thinking I would take a “taste” of each dish.

Oh no – not hardly!  Incredible mashed potatoes, squash casserole, mac and cheese (not from a box!), butter beans, chicken and gravy (the chicken expertly picked from the carcass) and pumpkin pie for dessert!

And as with every evening meal – homemade wine from the Winey Goat (thanks Amanda!)

We talked and laughed some more, rehashed events from the day, wrote down more quotes, cleaned the kitchen and then headed down to the fire pit.

Thanks to the lumber jack crew, we had expertly stacked kindling and wood for the fire.

Anne-Marie had bread dough left over from class that morning and I suggested we get a flat rock and put it on the grate over the fire.

“Let’s put the dough on the rock and see what happens!”

It worked!!  So with a glass of wine or “apple pie”, we toasted the day and broke bread together 🙂

We stayed by the fire for a while, laughing till we cried at times.  Then slowly, the wonderful, intoxicating tiredness of a day well spent began to take over.

One by one or two by two, the ladies ascended the hill to warm, comfy beds.

A good time was had by all and the sisterhood connection of these homesteaders was knit by the learning, laughing and sharing of the day.

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LHG Retreat – First 1/2 of Saturday

November 3, 2011

Saturday morning dawned…

Well, it was before dawn and it was dark and cold!

These faithful, homestead-hearted women showed up for butchering class.

My  “looks way too cute for this early in the morning” assistant, Christy, held the chicken in our makeshift killing cone.

“OHHHH, does that hurt the chicken??”

“Nope, the head is off :-)”

So proud of these 3!  They actually, mmm, how does one put this discreetly?  Sent these chickens on their final flight??

Processing the chickens.  The internal temp of a chicken is 107 degrees.  Our hands were freezing since it was in the 30’s.

They didn’t mind this job so much!

See?

We saved the pelts so we could take off some of the beautiful feathers for earrings.

Trying to use as much as we could.

I also loved looking at the colors of the feathers and the fall leaves on the ground.

Some of my favorite comments from this class:

“Is that all the blood there is?”

“This isn’t nearly as bad as I thought it would be!”

“Oh, it’s so warm in here :-)”

“I can do this!”

After Butchering class, we feasted on an amazing Southern breakfast of biscuits and gravy, sausage, scrambled eggs, and I can’t remember the rest.  I just remember it was so delicious and so wonderful after a morning of processing chickens for the evening’s meal.  We were freezing and this breakfast was warm and tasty.

Best part of all???  I didn’t have to make it!

After breakfast dishes were done, Anne-Marie did a class on making artisan bread.

She was just like the chefs on TV!  She had everything set up – from mixing to finished product.

She was showing us the air pockets in the finished dough which is covered by a crunchy crust.  I love bread like this!

Anne-Marie is such a great cook 🙂

I think the selling point on this bread was the fact that you mixed but no kneading.

And we were told several times “Don’t mess with it!”

Ready to rise…

Ready for the oven…

But first, Anne-Marie scored the bread with quick skillful, stealth-like hands.

Oh yum!!  And the one lesson we all learned…

“Don’t you know how dangerous it is to eat hot bread out of the oven???”

The only danger we could come up with was the poundage gained from eating a whole loaf with butter smeared all over it!

Next, there was some time to visit the Foxfire buildings for a self-guided tour.  It was a gorgeous day!!

This is the grist mill.  It’s amazing to see the grinding stones that had to be moved into place.

Number one spot for pictures is hanging out of the upstairs window.

Second most popular spot?   Lying in the coffin in the chapel 🙂

Some of the ladies actually took that photo opportunity but I don’t have the pics 😦

Because of the rain the previous night, we cut the tour short and Lynn had her Chainsaw Class.

Explaining the inner workings of the chainsaw to the wanna-be lumber jacks.

Demoing how to properly cut a log.  Lynn has taught some of my children and her father is amazing with a chainsaw!  Lynn is also extremely safety conscious because of her occupation so I thought she’d be the perfect instructor…

And I was right 🙂

Such glee on the faces of these women when we put a power tool in their hands!

The roar of the engine, the effortless cut of the wood…

Oh yeah!!!  Don’t mess with them now!!

Okay – so maybe one or two were a little more timid about handling this piece of equipment…

But the joy of success always feels the same!!

All kinds of victories in this class.  There was cheering when the cord was yanked one last time for the sound of the roar of the engine!

And happy anticipation of putting blade to wood.

There was no stopping these women now…

Each successful slice of the log…

The more empowered they felt!

And certainly don’t underestimate the shortest one in the group (yep, just a little shorter than me!)

Anne-Marie certainly held her own with that chainsaw!

I wouldn’t want to mess with her for sure!

It’s a good thing they called us for lunch!!  I fear these woods would have been cut to the ground by these chainsaw wielding women!

With growling stomachs after all that work, lunch was a sight to behold…

Amanda made an authentic Mexican lunch and we all ate way more than we should have!!

3 different kinds of empanadas, tostadas, homemade salsa – more than just one, corn salad, guacamole and more!

We were eating wayyyyy too good on this retreat!

No time for naps today…

There was a lot left on the schedule for the rest of the day!

LHG Retreat – Friday, Oct 28

November 1, 2011

Finally, the weekend for our Ladies’ Homestead Gathering Retreat had arrived!!  I was so excited and couldn’t wait to get to the mountains!

Lynn and I pulled up to Foxfire about 1pm – a little later than I was planning but Lynn assured me she’d help me get everything set up for the ladies.

By the time everyone started to pull into the parking lot, we’d finished getting everything set.

Let the fun begin!

Foxfire had asked the weaver if she would stay a little longer on Friday so our group could come to watch her weave.

A couple of us headed down to her building.

Foxfire has such a rich history – too long to go into here, but I absolutely love all the buildings!

Sharon was a wonderful hostess and demonstrated the shuttle on this particular loom.  I was shocked to learn how long it took just to thread the looms BEFORE she even started weaving!

This loom took 5 hours to thread.  She had another loom that took DAYS to thread!  That’s dedication for you…

 

Sharon is also a spinner and dyes her own wool with natural dyes.  These skeins were beautiful – I loved touching the yarn.  Her favorite wool to spin is Romney – me too! Our Romney, Rosie, has an incredible fleece.

I recognized a lot of the plant names that she’d used in her dying.

I asked Sharon if she ever taught classes on natural dying.  She used to but it was too difficult now because of family issues.

Bummer…

But then Sharon came back around to it later on in our conversation and said she’d be open to doing a class with us at some point!

You can be sure I’ll follow up on that lead for next year’s retreat.  I’d love to learn how to dye my wool with natural dying agents.

I kept thinking of the Knit and Spin group when I was with Sharon, surrounded by such beautiful craftmanship.  They would have loved to see the Weaver’s building 🙂

Just a note – see all those hooks she hangs her skeins on??  That’s one of the first items I want to make in my blacksmith area so I can hang my wool like that in the farm store.

Paulette, who works with Foxfire, graciously agreed to come up to the Longhouse to speak to the women about the history of Foxfire.  The drizzle soon turned to rain and we all went inside.

AND, the Chainsaw Class had to be postponed till the next day.

So we consoled our disappointment by eating the most fabulous Italian dinner!!

Kim, Anne-Marie, and Stephanie put out an incredible spread!

A rainy, chilly night in the mountains of the Appalachians and homemade Italian food with close friends and soon-to-be close friends made for the most wonderful evening.

We all sat around, eating more than we should have, sipping homemade wine, sharing stories and laughing till we cried!

Little did we know, this would be the rhythm of our time together – learning, eating, laughing!

Paulette had specifically told me that no food should be left in cars or on the porches outside overnight….

Guess who slept in the tub  of my shared room that night????