The Little Red Barn

This morning I woke with steaming hot buckets of water on my mind.

Crunch, crunch, crunch went the snow under my boots, as I walked towards the barn, breathing in the cold air. It took some extra muscle to slide the frozen barn door, but with one good heave, there I was again. Bright light in my eyes, welcoming hooves clanking on wood, fresh straw, and one deep and comforting breath. I had done this familiar moment hundreds of times, yet I am always surprised by my delight.

As I scooped a little extra grain, I chatted with the goats about the unbearable temperatures and our mutual feelings of being cooped up. I unlocked the wooden gate as I shook the container of grain, and they stepped aside waiting for the ritual to unfold. As they argued over the best side of the dispenser to eat from, I ran my work glove over their fuzzy winter fur and their happy tails flickered back and forth

After several trips back and forth from barn to house, the buckets were clean and full of  hot water. Both goats immediately dipped their mouths into the steam, sucking and slurping, and then shaking off their wet beards and chins.

Pushing away fears of mice crawling in my pants, I plopped down in the straw. I closed my eyes, took in the beautiful quiet, and realized that I was actually warm. I then felt the love nibbles on my hat tassels and jacket buttons, and reached out and scratched their cheeks. Areida nuzzled her face into my arms as I scratched her neck and there she stayed for several minutes. She would occasionally peek out, re-adjust, and then back in her face would go, nestled into my arms. She was just about to settle herself down next to me, when the yipping began.

I jumped to my feet, listening as as a surge of adrenaline rushed through me. Oh my god. There were coyotes very close by. As their calls grew louder, I scrambled to open the locks on the gate, grabbed a broom and peered out the barn door. Nothing…Quiet… More adrenaline. I smacked the broom against a tall metal ornamental rooster  that stands just outside the barn, hoping to scare them off. I again peered around the next corner. There was nothing, so I embarrassingly broke into a full-out crazy run with a flailing broom at my ready. As I approached the house I turned for another look, expecting them to be right behind me. There they were, all 5 of them, running in the field away from me and the barn.

Very suddenly, this all went from frightening to exciting and I defiantly ran back out towards the barn, watching as the pack bounded in a straight line through the deep snow. They all stopped several times, looking towards me and the barn. They quickly ran out of my sight, yet continued to make noises that raised hairs on the back of my neck. I’ll admit I was relieved they were gone, but I also wished I could see more.

The little red barn never disappoints.

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Thank you to the yipping, beautiful and frightening coyotes for making my heart race and for allowing me to see you in your element. And thanks for not eating me.

How To Keep Your Goat Worm-Free Naturally!

If you own goats or are thinking about it, worming is a critical part of keeping your goats healthy and happy. Chemical wormers are one of the options for de-worming your goats, but I have found that I prefer the herbal method, where prevention and health are the objectives.

Benefits of Herbal Wormers

How do herbal wormers work and what are the benefits?

Specific herbs in herbal worming blends aid in boosting your goat’s immune system, which in turn help to fend off parasites. The herbs act as preventative medicine instead of reactive medicine. Keep your goat healthy and happy and they will be much less likely to become infested with worms.

If your goat already has worms, particular herbs help expel the parasites. They do not like being near the herbs, so they leave the body via the goat’s droppings.

My favorite benefit of herbal wormers is that you do not have to stress out and/or pump your goat full of poison. A happy goat is a healthier goat.

Procuring Herbs

I will assume if you are still reading you are considering the more natural approach to keeping your goat worm free. If you are fully on board, you will need to decide how you will procure your herbs. I have plenty of space to grow the herb blend, yet I have chosen to purchase my herbs on-line from a long-time goat owner and herb specialist (http://fiascofarm.com/herbs/wormer.htm). You may decide to grow them yourself, purchase them in bulk on-line, or order them ready to go as I did. If you are raring to grow, you will need the following ingredients to start your herbal blend: Black Walnut, Fennel, Garlic, Wormwood, Stevia, Hyssop, Thyme, Cucurbita Pepo, and Mugwort. Recipes will vary, but those are some of the basics to get you started.

Five Tricks to Mixing and Administering Herbal Goat Wormer:

1) I use a glass-canning jar and a plastic syringe to administer the herbal wormer. Apply a small amount of olive oil to the tip of the syringe’s plunger so it does not stick while you are releasing the herbs into the goat’s mouth. (I am currently using a more effective syringe to dispense any liquids to my goats. Click to see this update). 

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2) Use very warm water to mix with the herbs. Goats LOVE extra warm water.

3) I mix 2 tablespoon of Molly’s Herbals Formula #2 Weekly Worm Formula and Tonic to approximately 8 ounces of water for my two 160 pound goats (I also tried mixing the herb blend dry with their goat chow, but found that the herbs settled to the bottom as they rooted around in the chow. If you do choose to mix your herbs with feed, I like to use the 3.5 quart Little Giant Mineral Feeder. I have several around the barn for feed, mineral, and baking soda. Liquid form does ensure that they ingest all of the herbs). For my goats, if the mix is too strong, the goats turn their noses up to it and shy away from it the next time I attempt to administer it. They have excellent memories. This makes it important to get it right as soon as possible, but no pressure! Molly’s Herbals includes a dosage chart to help find the right amount for your goat. 

4) Add a tablespoon or so of honey to the liquid blend if your goats do not seem to like the herbs. I have had 100% administration success since adding honey to the mix.

5) Remember to keep your goat’s head looking straight up when feeding them the liquid herbs. This will ensure that the blend is heading to the proper stomach.

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It makes me smile to think about how excited my goats are when they see that glass jar and syringe full of “herb tea” heading their way. I imagine that would not be the case with a syringe full of chemical de-wormer. So, fellow and prospective goat owners, cheers to happy and healthy goats!

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Follow up: My goats are turning 6 in February of 2018! They continue to be healthy, happy, worm-free goats! Here is an added list of 5 of my favorite items that I use with my goats.  Some of these products are affiliate links. If you click and purchase, I make a little extra money to care for the farm.Thanks for your support!

5 Favorite Goat Items

  1. I provide baking soda to my goats at all times (sodium bicarbonate). I sometimes use Arm and Hammer, but I prefer to use a higher quality organic version. It is more expensive, but worth it! Baking soda helps balance the acid in the goat’s rumen,  reducing the chance of bloat.
  2. I use Manna Pro Goat Mineral Supplement as my mineral supplement. The goats love it! Every time I freshen my supply in the barn, I grab a handful of the mineral and the baking soda and feed it to them right out of my hand. It’s like a treat! This is to be given free choice, available at all times. I use the Little Giant Mineral Feeder (3.5 quarts). It has two separate areas for the baking soda and the mineral. It works so great! Just make sure to use large screws to secure it to the wall because they will most likely stand in it. They are very durable though, so no worries! Also try to place it at a height not too high that they can’t reach it, but high enough that it isn’t an accidental toilet:)
  3. I also use the mineral feeder for my goat chow. (I get my chow from Tractor supply. I have always used the brand in the link, but I recently changed to a new Organic feed by Nature’s Best that TS introduced. If you need it delivered, Amazon is the way to go.) I have two goats, so they each get their own compartment to eat from, although they always switch sides halfway through! I give them each a cup or two a day. There are feeding instructions on the bag. I use a plastic container/bin to keep the vermin out of the feed. Make sure it seals up well! The bin in the this link is weather tight, which will reduce the chances of mold, bugs and mice.
  4. I bring warm water to the barn everyday, sometimes twice! Goats love warm/hot water. I have two buckets of water available to the goats at all times. One is my heated bucket during the cold months, and one smaller bucket that I re-fill with hot water. I find the larger buckets hard to carry, so I like a smaller one to re-fill the bigger one. My Saanen Luna knows the red bucket is the steamy hot one. I can’t even get it hung up before she starts slurping down the water!
  5. I purchased the cutest goat coats for Luna and Areida on Etsy this past week from a small business called Coat Your Goat. They are wonderful! We chose canvas on the outside and flannel on the inside. They look like they will wash and wear very well. goat photos 159.JPG

Looking for some fun goaty gift ideas? Here are some of my favorites!
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If you have any questions, feel free to message me!

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Curiosity Watered the Goat

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Once we believe in ourselves, we can risk curiosity, wonder, spontaneous delight, or any experience that reveals the human spirit.”
e. e. cummings

I slowly opened the gate and I watched them pause in the doorway, as they always do. It is as if they are asking, “Is this really ok?” and then once again step out to experience the splendor of a world with no walls or electric fences. This is our family’s first walk of spring with our goats, Luna the Saanen and Areida the Alpine.

Shortly after that peaceful pause, it is complete pandemonium. These goats are like two freight trains carrying a special shipment of curiosity and tenacity. It does make you laugh, right before you want to cry, watching all of the chickens scatter as the goats attempt to demolish everything in their path in search of anything that they are not supposed to have. Luna is no angel but she sometimes acts like a giant marshmallow in comparison to her devilish sister. She just lacks Areida’s consistent “pulverize everything in your path to get what you want, all the time” attitude. On top of all of that, goats seem to have the gift of mind reading. Whatever it is that you want your goat to avoid, that will be the first thing that they seek out and destroy (and/or eat). I suppose it is a bit like toddlers, yet these toddlers are 130 pounds.Cleaning the barn day 2013 003

We finally made our way out of the barn and all six of us were walking on the trail next to Coon Creek, which runs through the property. Areida began looking curiously at the rushing water next to us and decided to climb down the embankment and check out the creek herself. Her ears were pointed forward in curiosity, as she explored the weeds and moved closer to the water. Luna watched from the safety of the path as Areida finally made her way to the water’s edge, and took her first drink that did not include a bucket!

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The Art of Poop

“Most people die of a sort of creeping common sense, and discover when it is too late that the only things one never regrets are one’s mistakes.”
Oscar Wilde

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In 2007, my husband and I sold our house near Minneapolis, Minnesota, purchased 11 acres of land right outside of River Falls, Wisconsin, and had a 27 foot Palomino Puma travel trailer dropped into the woods that we decided to call home. 

One of the first things that confounded me about travel trailer living was how we were going to dispose of the “black water”, which is travel trailer lingo for human sewage. We had organized and read about so many things but had not gotten to that incidental. We did have a little time to investigate the best practices of sewage removal, being that the travel trailer tank could take a couple of weeks to “fill”.

After a couple of internet searches, we decided to purchase a black water tote, which quickly became known as the poopy tank (within the confines of our home). Here is a picture of what it looked like:

Poopy tank

We purchased the travel tote at a camping store near Rogers, Minnesota. The wheels were supposed to make getting from here to there easier. I was not quite sure where “there” was yet, but we would find out soon enough. It held approximately 18 gallons of liquid and was on sale for around $125 US dollars.

We came across a dumping station that was conveniently located about 10 minutes from our property, where one could dump black and grey water for the bargain price of $2.50. Now that I was clear on the destination of our tote’s future contents, we were ready to take the plunge and say, “Let it be filled”.

The following are directions by Mark Robinson, ehow.com. on how to empty the travel trailer’s black water tank: (Please skip the bold print unless you are hoping to take a nap sooner than later).

Instructions

  1. Find the black water tank drain port on the travel trailer. This port is normally located underneath the trailer on the same side as the toilet and near the black water tank.
  2. Remove the cap from the drain port. Attach one end of the RV sewer hose to the drain port, making sure that the hooks on the end lock onto the tabs on the drain port.

   3. Feed the RV sewer hose to the dump hole.

   4. Attach the drain fitting onto the other end of the hose and place it into the dump hole. Locate the drain release lever near the black water tank drain port and open it. The tank will proceed to dump its contents. Close the drain after you stop hearing the black water draining from the tank.

   5. Detach the RV sewer hose from the drain port. Use a garden hose to flush out any remaining black water residue from inside the hose. When finished, disconnect the drain fitting and remove the hose from the dump hole.

I am not sure if having those directions could have changed the unfortunate course of events that were about to unfold, but the first couple of fills and dumps were very challenging. The substandard hoses and connections that were included with the tote were not giving us the secure seal you would look for in something that transports “this” type of liquid. We had leakage issues in the car on the way to the dump station and some embarrassing spillage while dumping.

Now we progress to a cold day in mid-November. I do not know the exact date, but time was being noted by how many days we had left to return the poopy tank. It had a 60-day return policy, and we all agreed that the tote needed to go back. We had grown tired of its cheap parts and seeping crevices, but we needed its services one last time.

My husband was once again trying to attach the annoying sewer hose to the drain port while the girls and I watched from the back travel trailer window. The process was proceeding in the usual way; my husband’s tremendous frustration and curse words silenced with the closed windows, while he wielded clamps, hoses, and the tote simultaneously.  And then it happened.. the small cracks and weak seals in the sewer hose finally gave way with an appalling force, spraying everything in its path. The trees,  the windows, the nearby shed, the chicken coop, and my husband were all showered with sewage.  Oh, so very uncivilized.

 

The Shadow in the Dark

“This  suspense is terrible. I hope it will last”   Oscar  Wilde 1-8-08 004

Today I am transporting all of us back in time. We are going back to my families’ 11 acres of land in River Falls, Wisconsin during the year 2008.

It is dusk, and my family and I have just come back from a summer campfire in the woods. We all settle in for the night, in our 27 foot Palomino Puma travel trailer. The outside world does not seem very far away in our plastic home, with the night sounds pressing in through our thin walls, open windows and the woods wrapped around us on all four sides. Mother Nature gently invites herself inside our dwelling with a variety of animal sounds, including hoo- hoohoo’s, and yip-yips, long into the night.

On this peaceful night in the woods, we are all busying ourselves with something, when our daughter Caroline asks, “Is Jemie outside? Jemie is our 80-pound Black Lab. No, Jemie was not outside. Caroline then proceeds to tell us that there is definitely SOMETHING outside. She is peering out the front of the travel trailer into the pitch black. We have no outside light, so whatever she is seeing is just a shadow. We all race over to the window, most likely envisioning a wide range of creatures. Could one of the goats gotten lose? Is there a coyote lurking around? Are the deer looking for a place to lie down for the night? All possibilities, I suppose. Caroline goes on to tell us that this shadow was REALLY big. We all have our noses plastered to the window, looking intently into the dark. Then, we all see it. An outline in the dark, about 40 feet from the travel trailer, moving up and down…stop…up and down…stop. Oh my God,what is that? It is huge! The first thing that I think of is a moose. A moose? What the hell am I thinking? A bear…too small. It moves again, away from the travel trailer. Goosebumps on my arms begin jumping up and screaming, “Run…hide!”

My husband Chris bravely opens the door and heads outside. The gigantic shadow is now on the move up the driveway. We waited to hear screams, growls, flesh ripping (maybe not flesh ripping), but we heard nothing but the rustling of many feet on the gravel driveway. My husband finally yells to come outside and we see the creature in its true form. It was an enormous…cow. Yes, a cow was in our “front yard”. We live in the country, so a cow isn’t that surprising and probably should have been the first thing I thought of. I am not quite used to country living yet, so a cow in the yard is far from a first thought.

It is now halfway up the steep driveway. We all jump in the car and follow it up the hill. By the time we are up to the driveway, we see that the cow is now heading back down the other side of the hill. It is heading into the woods, and towards the road below our property. We wind the car down the driveway and around our property, exhilarated by the possibility of meeting it on the road below ( yes, I know it’s a cow). We arrive just in time to see the beast entering the woods on the other side of the road. Tree branches are breaking and crashing to the ground, and we see the back-end of the cow disappearing into the dense forest. There are no roads into those woods, so the adventure has come to an end, leaving such possibilities for the next. We wish the creature well in finding its way back home safely, as my family and I find our way too.

Birthday Party in the Barn

“Before I can tell my life what I want to do with it, I must listen to my life telling me who I am.”
Parker J. Palmer, Let Your Life Speak: Listening for the Voice of Vocation

Luna; our soon to be champion milk producer

We know we are there…we pass the stone sign that says Poplar Hill Farm and head down the long driveway towards the many red barns in the distance. My anticipation is killing me. There are two baby goats, born just days ago, ready for us to be their new family. Of course, they know nothing of this new family. They are single-mindedly waiting for the warmed bottles of milk to show up again and fill their hungry bellies.

As we pull up near the main house, we see two barns. I notice right away the adult goats peek their heads out of the barn door. They are curious. Despite the frigid temperatures, we roll down the windows and take in the eclectic mawwwww, mawwwww, mawwwww coming from everywhere. There is another barn that is full of younger looking goats and I wonder if our kids are tucked away in there somewhere.

The owner of Poplar Hill Farm meets us by one of the barns and asks us if we want to take a tour. As we wander from barn to barn, room to room, I am listening for our baby goats. He has still not told us where they are. As we enter the last building, where the goat’s milk is pasteurized, I finally hear the first maw that is like nothing I have ever heard. The farmer just keeps talking over the calls, but I am barely able to contain my joy. They are in that room, right there, behind that very door.

He finally grabs two bottles that have been warming in the sink, and we walk through the door into an office and a makeshift nursery. The choir of baby goats begins the second we walk in, each having a distinct and heart-wrenching call. There are 3 kids, two of which will be ours, Luna the Saanen and Areida the Alpine.

He hands Caroline and Sabrina the bottles, and gives them some basic instructions, and off they go. They are feeding their Luna and Areida, a moment I will never forget. It was over in a matter of minutes. We sign the papers, hand over the cash and we are heading to the car. The farmer asks, “What are you putting the goats in?” “Ahhh, we have some towels,” we answer. He tells us that should be “interesting”. We get a clue on the way home and buy a plastic laundry basket that they both fit into with room to spare. They quickly curl up and fall asleep.

One year later…a birthday party in the barn. Carrots, pine tree branches and vitamin C tablets for all! We sit in the straw, scratch their chests, and let them pull our jacket zippers up and down, up and down, up and down…

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Meggie, Moe, Teresa, Eleanor, and Brianna… the goats.

” I am more than I appear to be; all the world’s strength and power rest inside me…within me lies the sun, the moon, the sky and all of the wonders of the Universe and you too…”

 

 

 

I am feeling quite reflective this morning as we get closer to the arrival day of our goats.We are preparing and decorating the “goat box” today and going shopping for goat supplies in Harvard, Il. Harvard is in a direction that I have never been before, so it makes for a new adventure.Nipple and hay shopping are never dull.

No matter how much joy I feel about our soon to arrive goats, I have felt sad about the goats that we had to leave behind in River Falls. If you are not an animal person, it maybe hard to relate to what I am saying.. What I am saying goes beyond being an animal lover. Those goats, especially Moe, were apart of the beginning of knowing myself enough to risk looking like a failure to others and start embracing who I am. All of the long walks through the woods with the goats at my heals was so healing. It reminds me of the quote I love so much:” If a person does not keep pace with their companions, perhaps it is because he or she hears a different drummer. Let them step to the music which he or she hears.” I seem to hear that “Goat Song” that has been written about. I know I am not so unique but I know that I do not always fit with our cultures norms.

There were so many wonderful and frustrating times with those goats. I will never forget when our neighbor Mark came over and told us that the goats had been wandering over to his house when we were not home. He finally had to put his foot down (laughing). Mark said that he used to leave his cigarettes out on his porch and one day he came out and all of the goats had his very expensive cigarettes hanging out of their mouths. Makes me laugh just thinking about it.

Those goats loved to be anywhere they were not supposed to, like on top of my dad’s Fiero, in the garden, ripping the insulation out from under the porch, or eating the chicken feed in the coop. No matter what, it was one of the hardest things I ever did when we packed them in the van and dropped them off at our dear neighbor Marion’s house. They have a wonderful home today, and are loved, so we are choosing not to move them, but I miss them everyday. That is life though, isn’t it? We are open to lots of pain when we feel and love fully.

In this reflective mood, I have decided to add a writing I did several years ago while living on our property.

The Land

My family and I have been living on 11 acres of land in rural Wisconsin for over 2 and

1/2 years. I really count our time here in winters, which is 3, because that is when time and lessons are deeply felt.

The four of us live in a 27 foot travel trailer with an illegally attached porch (which is a whole story in itself), so winter has a more profound effect on day-to-day life. Our travel trailer was supposed to be a temporary dwelling, just until we built our house. Chris lost his job a week after our little home was delivered, at one of the most inopportune times in our nation’s financial history. There was no job to be found, so there was no house to be built. Our situation shrank both our bank account and our egos. All of the plans and designs we had were quickly shoved aside to reluctantly greet many difficult questions about our life. One of those questions was “What is really important?”

There have been many evolving answers to that one question, but there has been one answer that has stood out from the rest for our family: There is such depth in the simplest things of life. The most ordinary, mundane, uneventful things of life hold the greatest beauty, meaning, and mystery. They hold the lesson that the simplest things of life are not ordinary, mundane, or uneventful at all.

Electricity was our gateway into mindfulness here. For our first 6 weeks here, we charged our travel trailer battery with our vehicle. We found out quickly which features used the most electricity, like the television and the fridge. We didn’t want to have to go out into the cold and hook up the car to the battery, so we began to conserve more than ever. It is funny how when something becomes inconvenient, it is taken a bit more seriously. It was amazing to see the drain in power each time we chose to run water, watch T.V., or leave lights on. There would actually be a surge, where the lights would dim, when we were using a lot of power. It was a great visual lesson about a resource we completely took for granted.

During our first two years here, we did not have our own access to water. We started out by buying a 35 gallon tank on wheels that we brought to the nearest RV Park, that had water access, for 2 dollars. Our family actually has very fond memories of what we called “dump station night”. (This was also a place that one could dump the contents of the “black” tank, which we also utilized). We would fill up while the kids played at the park, bring it home, and fill up the travel trailer tank. That water would last for about 3 days, if we conserved well. (I have recently learned that there will inevitably be a water shortage for all of us in the not so distant future. It does matter how much we use!) We got a membership at our local YMCA and took most of our showers there. (I remember once showing up there so embarrassingly dirty because the kids had been playing on our temporary dirt mountain, from driveway construction. I met a man who worked there that noticed that we really only came for showers and commented that he did the same thing. He had no running water, in his old log home. That connection made me realize that we were not alone.)

Once winter was upon us, we had to change our strategy for water because the RV station closed (We did receive a bulk water permit from the nearest large town, but their water source was shut down shortly there after due to freezing also). Our neighbor, who sold us our land, graciously let us come over and fill up our tank weekly. (That neighborly helped make it possible for us to continue to live this adventure) Usually Chris would drive the quarter of a mile, with our little tractor, over to the neighbors and fill up, even when it was 20 below zero. I have to admit there were days that I cried when I heard the travel trailer pump making its loud grumbling noise that proclaimed “I am almost dry!”

That struggle taught me so much though. All of my family realized that water is not something to be taken for granted and that just because one has unlimited access to something does not mean that it should be wasted.

I listened to a lecture, shortly after we moved here at the Unitarian Church of River Falls WI, about women in regions of Africa that have to walk 5 miles to get about a gallon of water that may or may not be clean. I know I really don’t have any concept of what they have to endure, yet I am grateful that I have begun some mindfulness in that part of my consciousness That is one of those core beliefs that I always wanted to align with my actions in our previous life, with heated, running water that came without any thought. I wanted to take shorter showers, wash dishes with more mindfulness, water the lawn less or not at have grass at all, and plant gardens that were native and hardy that did not depend on anything but mother earth’s rain showers. I wanted to do all of those things but did them with half measures. I was inconsistent and sloppy in my thoughts and actions around conservation of water and other resources.

So, after two years of learning about the importance of clean and accessible water, we put in our 240 feet well. We are now able to connect directly to our water source during the non freezing months, and enjoy water without much worry, but not without thought. During the winter months, we have to disconnect our direct connection, and “fill-up”. Our line freezes if we remain connected, so we have to go back to the familiar noises of a water pump.

Chris built an insulated house for our well. (Can you believe our well got a house before we did?) Usually, all of the well’s pressure systems would be routed indoors, where it is toasty warm, but ours was exposed to all of the elements.

Shortly after our well was completed, we had a water celebration with family and friends… The first time that the hose worked, and water came gushing out, it was truly magical. How could it be that I was so in awe of such a regular thing? It is hard for me to look at a lot of things in the same way that I used to. There seem to be gifts in going without. It shines a new and wonderful light on something that once seemed so ordinary.

I do not advocate for misfortune or disaster, yet I would not change anything about the progression of our journey here on this piece of land. To be able to look deeper into what the self-reliant life is really about, is a gift that I hope to never return. The simplest of actions have become some of my favorite moments here. To slow down enough to see the meaning in watching our chickens roam the forest, collecting, washing, eating or selling eggs, noticing and identifying the changing flowers in the woods, creating a bountiful, organic garden and spending almost all of our leisure time in her graces, digging potatoes with my dad, cooking entire meals with only food we have grown, feeling connected to a community who really care about the health of it‘s people, marveling in my joy as I walk with the goats in the woods, walking down to my neighbor Auntie Joni’s little cabin, using the fallen wood in our forest as our main source of heat in the winter, supporting our local grocery co-op through patronage and volunteering, hanging our clothes on the line, feeding the birds, sweeping instead of vacuuming, hand writing a letter instead of using my computer, taking a walk instead of taking a drive, bartering for services so that my family doesn‘t need to make so much money to exist, bringing my own bag to the store, and taking the time to seek out a vocation instead of a career even if the path there is more complicated. The list truly goes on and on …

I need to feel like what I can do, does matter. I can’t afford to buy a Prius, exclusively use solar power, or put up a wind turbine, but I can be mindful. All of these simple actions not only have an effect on our planet, but on me. They are the most grounding things that I have ever had in my life. I truly believe that all of those simple yet meaningful actions have a profound impact on the universe.

I was once asked why we have hung on so hard to living our life here in the woods when our path was so altered from its original plan. I answer by saying there have been many difficult days along our path, yet one thing that has stayed constant. It is our growing love for this piece of land. We can see the importance of conserving her resources, and making her a classroom for ourselves, family and friends. Not having the financial resources we had once become accustom to have created a new awareness of nature’s resources that are so abundant around us.

This is where we continue taking action, and let the resources we do have, mold our new future. We hope that our new future does have the house we once dreamed of, but it will be very different from its original design. We have learned too much to not utilize our new vision and like a dear friend once wrote, “This is when I see the journey is the goal and let the goal find its own way”. The important part is the integrity of the journey. This beautiful, rugged, and untamed piece of earth has permanently changed who we are and how we will forever see the world.