Archive for the ‘Ladies’ Homestead Gathering’ Category

Ladies’ Homestead Gathering Retreat – Sunday!

December 16, 2011

To cap off our Ladies’ Homestead Retreat, we hiked the Tennessee Rock Trail on Black Rock Mountain.

Here are those brave hearted ladies, who, though sleep deprived and still full from all the fabulous meals, decided to accomplish this last feat of the weekend!

It was a gorgeous afternoon and the colors of the leaves, glorious.

Once we made the initial ascent, which was fairly intense, we filed through the woods chatting and laughing.

Occasionally, the whole group would stop to identify a plant or tree.

Then it was time to hike UP to the top of Tennessee Rock.  A lot of encouraging words were spoken and hands extended to help one another to the “reward” at the top.

One of the “rewards” was stopping to eat lunch.  We’d all made our lunches back at Foxfire, put them in brown bags and carried them in our back packs.  A few of us also gathered up some of the radishes that were shared at the retreat, putting those too into brown bags.

Poor Julie.  After  all the talk of “can’t wait to get to the top to eat. I made a great lunch with all the leftovers!”  She was sorely disappointed to find she had grabbed the wrong brown bag and all she had were radishes to look forward to!

No worries.  There were all kinds of offers from other brown bags to satisfy her hunger 🙂

The other rewards for all our hiking, were the views!

Crisp mountain air, perfect temps, great fellowship with friends, and the vistas…

Great way to end a fantastic weekend.

We chatted some more, reminisced about the weekend,

enjoyed the sunshine and geared up for the descent to the bottom.

Two of the plants that we identified along our hike-

Rattlesnake Plantain

and Usnea.

We all made it to the bottom in one piece, a little more tired than when we started but exhilerated from the hike and being with friends.

We drove back to the Foxfire Museum and packed up our final belongings.  Kelly had stayed behind to “clean up” a little and  when I took a look around, she’d done everything!  It looked amazing.

As the last car drove down the hill and the sun was beginning to set, Lynn suggested that we sit in the rocking chairs on the back porch to savor our last moments before being thrust back into reality.

Words cannot begin to describe the intense gratitude I felt for all the ladies who had participated in our inaugural Ladies Homestead Retreat.  Everyone had a hand in its success and the comradery that was created will leave lasting memories.

The feeling is mutual – we can’t wait till next years retreat!!

Interested in joining us for the 2012  Ladies’ Homestead Gathering Retreat?

The dates are October 12 – 14, with an option of arriving October 11 for an all day workshop on the 12th.

We are privileged to once again be guests at the Foxfire Museum in Mountain City, GA.

Check the Lazy B Farm website for further details after January.

http://www.thelazybfarm.com

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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.

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????

Inaugural Ladies’ Homestead Gathering Retreat

October 31, 2011

I’m still basking in the memories of the retreat as they filter through my mind while I try to get back to life here on the farm.

When I sat at this table this summer, taking notes and dreaming about what it would be like to actually have a retreat focused solely on homesteading, my dreams couldn’t begin to conceive all the emotional/relational gifts that would be mine after a weekend together with like-minded women.

After my friend and I waved good-bye to the last car as it made it’s way down the mountain, re-checked all the rooms and buildings, and put our own belongings into the truck, my very good friend suggested we sit on the back porch to “breathe” before we headed down the mountain ourselves.

While we sat in the rocking chairs, breathing in the crisp fall air of dusk, surrounded by the incredible beauty of the Appalachian Mountains, we reminisced about the activities and conversations of the last 48 hours.

And then she asked me a very poignant question – Did the weekend meet the expectations I had for a Ladies’ Homestead Retreat?

Moments before we sat together on the porch, I had to make my way up the path to the Guest House to look for a walking stick that had been left behind.  In the quiet solitude and alone with my  thoughts, I had been thinking about all the “firsts” and “victories” that had happened over the weekend for these women and my heart welled with incredible emotion, almost to the point of tears.

This retreat went far beyond my expectations….

As we rocked back and forth in our weather worn rockers, I shared that with all those “firsts”  and “victories” came a sense of accomplishment when a new skill was learned; self-worth when added knowledge was given to a conversation; self-confidence when a fear was overcome or a goal successfully achieved; a belief in who they are as a person, that they matter, when hugs and words of affirmation were given after they shared a part of their “story.”

You can never ever buy or purchase those gifts for another person – you can only offer the opportunity to try and the encouragement and hand holding to let them know you believe in them with all your heart.

The cheering and the clapping resounding in the valley when one of the gals successfully split a piece of wood with an axe; the applause and “atta girl!” for the first time teacher of one of the classes; those light bulb moments when a concept or plant identification  was understood and grasped;  the “come on, you can do it!!” whether they were trucking to the top of the mountain or picking a chicken for the first time – these are the results of sisterhood, friendship, a community of like-minded women.

Time after time this weekend, my heart rejoiced as I watched each woman receive the gift of self-worth, self-confidence, “you matter.”

This was OUR weekend, we all made it happen, we all had a part in its success…

And we all shared in the joy and blessing of friendship.

In May,when I sat at that little table on the porch of a rustic log building and scribbled notes and ideas for a ladies’ homestead retreat, little did I know that the reality of those dreams would far exceed any of my expectations.

Thank you ladies, my friends, for an incredible weekend.