Posts Tagged ‘Foxfire Museum’

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 – 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.

Tennessee Rock Trail – Mountain City, GA

August 22, 2011

Thought it would be a good idea to hike the trail we are recommending for the Ladies’ Homestead Retreat.

Yesterday a friend and I drove up to Mountain City, GA to Black Rock Mountain State Park to hike the Tennessee Rock Trail.

2.2 miles long and an ascent of over 1000′

There is a fee for parking and either you can pay it here or at the Visitor’s Center further on up the mountain.

We chose the Visitor’s Center because they have a bathroom…and a nice gift shop 🙂

Little blue square says “more difficult.”

Little black square says “most difficult.”

We chose the blue…and because that “warning” notice said there were yellow jacket nests in the other trail – no thank you!

Sooooo – the first ascent.  A lot of stairs going up!

To buy myself some “catch my breath” time, I was easily distracted by bugs.

Actually, I’d never seen one of these before.  Anyone know what it is?

It was beautiful!

Obviously this is a popular plant – see all the other bugs on it?

Once we went “up” for a little ways, the trail evened out and meandered through the woods.

It really is an enjoyable hike and in the fall, it should be gorgeous with all the fall colors.

After about 2/3 of the way along the trail, the ascent begins again…

But it was so worth the sweat and grunt…

There are a lot of big boulders at this look out and this is where we will stop to have lunch.

You will definitely have earned the rest 🙂

Is it any wonder why they are called the Smokey Mountains?…

After lunch, the climb back down the trail…all down hill!

If you have knee problems, you may want to take this part of the trail into consideration.

The trail begins and ends at this picnic spot so if you get down the mountain before the others, there’s a nice place to wait.

We did the trail in about an hour and a half.  But taking lunch into account, I’m planning on 2 and a 1/2  hours.

If you’re moderately exercising, you should be fine with this trail.  Most of the trail is very doable and it’s so permissible to take frequent stops on the parts that are a little more strenuous!

Another bonus – it’s minutes from the Foxfire Museum.

Looking forward to hiking this trail again with a lot more friends 🙂