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Rural Roadways During Harvest: A Guide

Rural Roadways During Harvest: A Guide

Life is hectic. We all have places to be, people to see, and a revolving list of things to do. Rarely however, are those places, people, and things urgent. Sure, we have schedules to keep as closely as we can. And, certainly, it’d be nice […]

For Every Loss a Lesson

For Every Loss a Lesson

We lost a bottle lamb this week. It hasn’t been a good year for us as shepherds. We lost the bottle lamb we had at easter, too. And last week, the sole remaining ewe from our original flock of four. At least those two were […]

A Few Favorite Things: The Optimism of Never-Ending Summer

A Few Favorite Things: The Optimism of Never-Ending Summer

In Michigan summer can basically be divided in three: June, July, and August. While warm temperatures often begin as early as April or May and stretch out into September and the beginning of October, there is a distinct difference in the way the seasons feel. April and May are spring. September, October and usually the first couple weeks of November are decidedly fall. Summer is bookended by both and the rest of the year is what I like to call Miserable. (Other people call it winter, but they’re wrong.)

June is the beginning of summer; the first third. It’s a time of quick growth and maturation. Pastures and field crops and garden beds shoot up in the beginning, and get right to the process of maturing. Seed heads are set, flowers bloom. And then comes July. July can trick you here. It’s the time of year when you can neither see too much evidence of the newness of the nature around you, nor too many signs of its impending slumber. For a moment somewhere around the middle of the month you can almost forget that this isn’t all there is. July is the January of summer. Where January may fool you into desperation at the never-ending winter, July can fool you into naive exuberance at the seemingly never-ending summer. And that’s how it’s beginning to feel around here right now; like it’s been summer for as long as I can remember without any sign of it coming to an end.

We’re all enjoying and looking forward to the second third of the season for its optimism — no matter how fleeting we know it will be. It’s always nice to settle into that lulled state of contentment; as if it really could go on forever.

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Read: Justin Dillon is a friend of a friend so I was sent an early copy of his new book, A Selfish Plan to Change the World, but the way I came to have this book in my possession does not factor into my recommendation at all. I’m just glad it was on the radar of someone I knew so they could, in turn, put it on my radar. This isn’t a self-help book, it’s more of a how the self can help book. I’m about halfway through now and thoroughly enjoying it. Where many nonfiction books fail, in my opinion, is in their dryness. But Dillon isn’t a dry writer. He’s a compelling storyteller and masterful at connecting dots in big pictures and big problems.

Watch: If you like light-hearted comedy and didn’t catch American Housewife on ABC last fall, you should definitely catch up on the first season before September. Katy Mixon as Katie Otto, the funny-flawed, middle-class Mom raising three kids in a wealthy Connecticut town is all of us. Sometimes cheesy, but always amusing.

Eat: Wild black raspberry season has arrived! (Colloquially called “blackcaps” in our neck of the woods.) The kids have picked several quarts in the past few days — with about half actually making it into the house, the rest downed right there along the edges of the woods — and I’ve got a Rustic Brambleberry Galette in the oven as I type. It’s one of the simplest and most delicious deserts of the summer and that’s saying a lot for a simple dish that has to compete with delicacies such as Michigan Strawberry Shortcakes. You can drizzle with honey as the instructions in the link above indicate, or macerate the fruit with a bit of sugar before piling it up on top of the crust. Your choice. Both are lovely.

Listen: Are you familiar with Shakey Graves? You should be.

On a Rarity of Firsts

On a Rarity of Firsts

We don’t enjoy many firsts here anymore. We’ve raised at least a few of all the common types of poultry, we’ve farrowed thousands of pigs, a couple handfuls of lambs, we’ve been putting beef steers by in the freezer for years, we’ve raised everything from […]

When Pigs Won’t Eat: Keeping Show Pigs Growing

When Pigs Won’t Eat: Keeping Show Pigs Growing

Summer has arrived in Michigan. It’s been in the nineties here for the better part of a week. And, like any time it’s hot in the middle of June and July, I’ve spent a not-insignificant portion of that time begging pigs to eat. Contrary to […]

On Batch Work

On Batch Work

2017 will go down in family history as the year we survived two months without a dryer, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

One day a few years ago our then-eleven year-old washer kicked the bucket. It wasn’t a good time. I was over-scheduled, over-committed, over-everything’d. I probably could have found the plain old time to go washer shopping, but I promise you I couldn’t have found the mental energy. Any moments of not-otherwise-committed time I could find in my days were spent in the quietest room possible. Eyes closed, I tried desperately to shut off the running commentary in my head. Commentary about to-do lists and timelines and how well or not-at-all-well I was handling life in general. Washer shopping was not in the cards for me that year, let alone the very month, week or day the washer quit. Fortunately, I’m married to a capable man. One who promptly, the very next day, went to the local hardware store and crowdsourced our next washer purchase, loaded it into the back of his truck, brought it home, and had it installed before I even emerged from my first meeting that day. (more…)

Of Roosters and Men: Bali’s Livestock Market

Of Roosters and Men: Bali’s Livestock Market

I went to the Livestock Market looking for pigs. I had it on good authority that there would be some, so I rolled out of bed at five in the morning to make the hour drive from Ubud in time to arrive just after the […]

On The Annual Marathon

On The Annual Marathon

I planted peas this weekend. On Saturday night, in a moment of weakness and unrealistic hope, I dumped a quarter pound of seed leftover from 2012 in a mason jar, topped it off with water and left it on the windowsill overnight with the intention […]

Indonesia: Starvation Amid Abundance

Indonesia: Starvation Amid Abundance

The middle of the morning food market in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia is perhaps an odd place to begin a story about malnutrition.

Baskets of fresh fish in beautiful hues of silver and blue line the barely-more-than-one-person-wide footpath through the temporary stalls that pop up here each day. Chicken — pre-roasted or raw, your choice — is snipped apart with scissors in the middle of the hustle and bustle. Eels squirm in plastic bags twisted tightly at the top. Rambutan and Dragon Fruit and Mangosteen are arranged in newsprint-lined baskets at nearly every stand. Tiny bananas in giant bunches are hawked for a few cents here, a few more there. Eggs, unwashed and unrefrigerated, in every hue of brown, white and green, teeter atop flatbed trucks. Buni berries and Snakeskin fruit and Papaya of both local and commercial varieties can be had at every turn.

Abundance is everywhere; bright, beautiful, fragrant, and beckoning. And it doesn’t cost much… by our standards. (more…)

A Few Favorite Things: Lengthening Days

A Few Favorite Things: Lengthening Days

It’s 9˚ here as I type this. We’re at the bottom of another valley in the winter rollercoaster. It’ll be 40˚ again by Wednesday. One evening this week one of our girls noticed the faint blue of the sky at evening chores. “Isn’t it normally […]