Growth When You Least Expect It.

I started and didn’t finish this blog post 100+ times, seriously, no exaggeration. First, a few years ago, it started in my mind. I had been inspired by some observations that I had many in nature of triumph, persistence, and healing. The idea I had in my mind grew. And then life went on and the idea stopped growing, in fact, I barely even noticed it. Later, the idea came back to me, I worked through it in my mind an awful lot, especially while I worked in the garden. In my mind I wrote and rewrote my thoughts. Eventually, I started writing them down, but then the idea grew so big it wasn’t manageable with my writing skill set (or, I just couldn’t get it there, it was daunting), so I just took a step back. But, it nagged and nagged in my mind, I needed to find another way to nurture the idea but I didn’t know how. Then yesterday, while observing my lovely plants growing in our high tunnel, I found my inspiration, my focus – my thoughts came full circle and I understood the lesson I’ve been wanting to share.

I find my busy mind slowing and looking inward much more than it used to when I was younger. This happens a lot when I’m gardening because gardening has a mind clearning effect on me. I just get in a zone (ohhh, it’s such a sweet and savory place). With a major life change in completing the move to White Sky Woods (it was 5 years ago!) and bringing a dream to fruition, it encouraged a lot of personal growth. The change fueled it, and also, a new lifestyle encouraged it through time availability (although I’ve had some up’s and down in this department), lack of outside pressure, new pace, new self-care habits and nutritious food and healthy movement. I have learned that personal growth cannot be forced – that we grow more or less in each season of our lives, much like nature. I found that at times in my past, I really tried to force growth. Sometimes I felt I needed some specific growth and then I was fraught with challenge. When I was feeling challenged, stuck, and confused that awful, ugly, stinky voice in my head would start talking. It said stupid things, and sometimes it was so persuasive I listened, what?! (The brains neuropathways can be so powerful! These super highways can transport negative thinking based on our lifetime of experiences and thoughts, but the great news is we can make new ones, create new routes that transport positive thoughts, and that’s where change and postive growth takes place! I digress within this extra long parentheses.) When I listened to that bully voice, it halted any growth and I intentionally stop listening in order to recalibrate. It could be best described by “getting in the way of myself.” I’ve had a lot of growth, but sometimes I still get in my own damn way. Albeit frustrating, I know now to give myself some grace and compassion when this happens, even when it feels unnatural.

Back to the garden, this year it feels like it is growing very slowly. Each year is different, so you’d think I’d be able to manage my thinking, worries, etc. by now right? But, it’s still a thing for me, and it comes out of my dedication to homesteading, healthy food for us and the community, so much more, and probably a unwelcome dose of perfectionism. I could get lost in this worry about the speed of my garden growing. I could look ahead, project, or panic plant (yeah, sometimes I do this…if I don’t see growth I just keep seeding more and more, it’s a little…..much, but also sometimes useful like when you grasshopper population decimates you entire spring crop – yea, that happened last year, ugh). Or, I could take a deep breath, have confidence in my skills of planting a garden, be sure to listen to my intuition and then respond, or check again in a few days. Growth cannot be forced.

To remind me of this – there is this bit of magic currently happening in the high tunnel. Each year we amend the planting beds by turning compost into the soil. It does a great job adding nutrition the plants will need during their life. About a month ago, I noticed a few sunflower plants growing among my veggies. Well, I legitamtely am incapable of pulling sunflowers like you would with weeds. I just can’t. Plus, these sunflower seeds were growing from two year old compost, meaning they managed to survive a long term decomposition and heat cycle. So, even though growing sunflowers in the high tunnel is unconventional, I wanted them to stay. And they grew. And grew. And grew!

Tall sunflowers, reaching for the sky….errr…..ceiling.

One is growing nearly in our path which is deeply compacted soil from getting walked on. The conditions for it are not right. Today I saw that the first blossom is about to happen. And just like that, all the thoughts I’d been having about that original blog post came to me, which I immediately understood had to be part of the process of learning the lesson I was getting after, for my OWN growth. Growing plants don’t question. They don’t analyze. Growing plants don’t force. They don’t wonder if the conditions are right, or they are growing directly where they want to be or think they should be. Growing plants have the ability to overcome the odds, and they slow down or give space for others when they can’t grow and when the conditions are right, they grow again.

It’s. Freaking. Magical!

And, I have found my own life mimics exactly what the sunflowers showed me. When I’m ready for growth, it happens. It happens unplanned and unexpectedly. Sometimes it happens after a challenge, or when I least expect it. The process isn’t always beautiful, but the end product is! And, I had absolutely everything I needed within me (plus a little bit a “fertilizer” from self-care behaviors, and a great network of love and support). And then much like that sunflower has, the seeds for the next growth are there, but they are unrealized until the time is right again. I can trust that it is all there.

Do you give yourself room to grow?
Do you honor growth you didn’t call-in or expect?
Can you find the beauty in your growth AND non-growth phases, and see the beauty in who you authentically are?
I bet the people who love you see it. ❤

Plus….who doesn’t love a sunflower? They stand out in the garden with a happy, soul shining look. Why not let your soul shine too?

Getting ready to shine! And it doesn’t need to be perfect – note dead insect. 😉

Wishing you peace, love and nature,

-L

P.S. HAPPY SUMMER SOLSTICE!

Travel Bug Infects Homesteading Family

When we started our homesteading life, flexibility was a huge perk we were looking forward to. However, the last few years we had less flexibility since our mission was starting our homestead up from scratch. Our infrastructure and systems are in place now (for the most part) and we knew it was time to do the next thing in the master plan, travel more! While we can’t travel in spring, summer or fall due to our commitments of growing our own food on the homestead, we knew it was time to start utilizing the flexibility we have in winter to travel. I love traveling, seeing new things, experiencing new cultures and expanding my mind through experiences. As a homeschooling family, I also saw the opportunity for the kids to learn on the road, through experiences, rather than at the kitchen table in a book. Several months ago I start planning a winter trip, the timing worked well, having it take place just before we start our seeds indoor (always planning ahead!). A few winters ago Woodland said he wanted to see the desert, so that was our destination! It was quite the road trip! Some things I tallied from our travels:

16 days
2 adults, 2 kids, 1 dog
84 word search puzzles
7 audiobooks
5,000 miles driven, approximately
7 meals out
41 meals packed/prepared (this is no easy feat while traveling with family!)
1 epic hot air balloon ride
10 states
8 National Park properties
4 lizards, 10+ new to us birds
3 AirBNB’s
4 overnights in hotels
0 sightings of Michigan License Plates (c’mon MI, represent!)
Countless new things learned and opportunities had!

We learned so much along the way, and we even learned about homesteading – gathering knowledge about indigenous farming through the last thousands of years in the desert and ranch life from the 1800’s.

Here are some photo highlights from our travels:

On our travels we saw expansive open spaces, tall and seemingly never-ending mountains, and captured knowledge about millions of years of history. While daily life can feel big and overwhelming, through our observations I recognized how small we are in the entire scope of things. It makes daily challenges seem much more manageable, as we are just a speck in the expanse and history of time.

Yet, while we were out and about, so many things remind me of home. Yup, even in the desert! Common plant families – like mallow, hiking over sandstone and basalt rocks – such as those of the Keweenaw, copper mining – albeit a very different style than the Keweenaw region; so much of what we experienced ended with “hey, that’s similar to at home!”. While it was great to be out and about, expanding our minds and having new experiences, arriving home was a welcome part of our trip. Our homestead is where we feel the strongest sense of belonging. Man is it good to have a place to belong.

P.S. There was a lot more snow when we got home! We are so grateful for our neighbors who took care of our animals and homestead while we were adventuring. We have an amazing community who looks after each other.

Wishing you peace, love and time in nature,

-L

5 foot tall girl on snow pile.

It’s Winter and the Beet Goes On.

Today I happily welcome Winter Solstice. I love love love this day. The darkest day of the year – where here in the Keweenaw there are 9 hours and 45 minutes of daylight between the official sunrise and sunset times. Why so happy on such a dark day? Because it’s only going to get lighter from here folks (well, at least till summer solstice)! Yes, we have a lot of winter months left here in the north, but with all this darkness and snow it’s a great time to unwind and reflect, relax and renew. As a family who lives in tune with the earth and seasonality, we have annual Winter solstice traditions. I also like to take time for myself around solstice to look at the dark and the light in the past year, and project into the future my hopes for the upcoming year.

As a Winter solstice tradition, our family plans a book exchange between the 4 of us (what better to do in winter than read?!); we also go on a winter hike. A weather system is moving in with more snow today, so the hike should be filled with snowy wonder! This year I’m adding in a new tradition – HARVEST! It was our first year doing a winter planting in our high tunnel and now it’s time to harvest the beets and carrots. On a cold winter day, what a joy it will be to wash off the soil from our fresh vegetables and prepare them as a family. We’ll roast the carrots and beets with potatoes and herbs we harvested in autumn and enjoy a hearty dinner.

This picture is from a few winter’s ago, but it’s one of my favorite.

There is plenty to reflect upon this year. This past summer we celebrated our 4th anniversary here – it’s really important to us to celebrate the major life change we made, where we went from a typical town-dwelling working family to a yurt living, homesteading family in the Northwoods. Every year we celebrate making this soul-filling change in our lives.

2021 was our first full year with the high tunnel for growing produce. This means we started planting earlier than ever before with seeds going into the ground on March 7th, almost 3 months before much of the outdoor garden. And, in early August a small winter crop was planted. It takes a lot more effort to manage all the garden space for longer periods of time, but the rewards are immeasurable!

Also in 2021 we opened our AirBNB farmstay and had the most amazing response. It was a great way to generate more income for our family business, but more importantly enrich our lives (and hopefully the lives of our guests too). We met so many amazing people, and for those that took the 30-minute farm tour – we we able to share our story and experiences with them and connect them to how food (plants and animals) is grown in sustainable ways.

Our farmstand went on into its second summer and we expanded the types of produce for sale along with having more produce early in the season. The farmstand has connected us to our own community members, and beyond! Plus, my heart is full knowing our farmstand guests are eating nutrient dense, uber-local, organic produce and homemade foods in their own homes.

A challenge of 2021, as usual, is time. I am still learning the balance of work and play (usually losing play to work), and coming to terms with the fact that for homesteaders, summer is more work and less play and it’s okay, as long as I keep tabs on a suitable balance within that.

Another challenge of 2021 was that at the start of summer I started experiencing some discomfort in my leg, ankle and foot. Because I tend to downplay my own need for care, I ignored doing something about it. It became the source of chronic and debilitating pain over the course of the summer and I finally got myself into the doctor who ruled out any major problems and sent me to physical therapy (PT). My mobility has been coming back over the last few months of PT and I have high hopes this lesson sticks: ‘Care for yourself, damnit Lisa!’ I’ve been slowly learning this lesson over the years, but this may have been the most concrete evidence for it yet. And, I’m learning more about why I do this, which is also part of the solution.

Just like any 24-hour day, there are periods of light and dark in our lives. Both are always guaranteed. The question is, what will you make of it? Do you choose dark or light?

Happy Winter Solstice, Friends! May your upcoming days be filled with more light than dark and may you have many things to be grateful for. Thank you for joining us on our journey!

Stop and Smell the Roses

At the end of last year I set a mantra: live a slow, simple, and intentional life – unabashedly. I knew this wouldn’t be an immediate switch from what was happening (busy, overworked, disconnected) but I’m a believer that if you set an intention, the more you focus on it being true, it will happen. I knew that living this mantra wouldn’t just be an easy thing. I see clearly the type of person I am when it comes to keeping busy, and I knew that it would even take work to unlearn allowing my busyness to provide self-worth. It’s the journey, not the destination, right? Well, even though I had removed certain things from my responsibilities (outside of the home things) this summer proved to give more reasons to stay busy, like the following two:

-the AirBNB cabin is/was solidly booked all summer! This was the most amazing and abundant thing that happened all year, far surpassing our expectations! It did create more busyness, but it has been soul feeding. You wouldn’t even believe the level of awesome so many of our guests are!

-we expanded the garden in variety and size. The goal with this is to offer more variety and quantity to our loyal farm stand customers, along with the fun of trying new things, broadening our food preserving for winter, and getting more varied healthy foods in-season. It’s going well, and like always I’m taking notes in what to try different for next year. It’s really always an experiment of sorts 🙂

So yeah, there will always be a “next thing” (disclaimer: especially when you have kids). Commitments (fun ones yes!, but still something add to a schedule), things to do, things to go to, people to see. These all bring so much joy, but sometimes they bring rushing too. Sometimes they bring longing for quiet time at home. Will I ever be the type to just uncommit or be “lazy”, or have no purpose…. Nope. It’s just not possible, that’s not me. But I am finding ways to bring slow, simple, and intentional into my daily life. I have found that it’s small things, every day, that ground me. For instance, everyday I start with making coffee, enjoying a cup and then at least 10 minutes of meditation. I do nothing else before this, especially no phone checking. That way I come to myself, first thing each day, with a clear mind. It sets my tone for the day.

Another thing I have found helpful is to break up my work. It wasn’t an idea that came to me on my own, my body pretty well forced it upon me. I have been having a hard time with an ankle injury, and doing hours of work on it just worsens the damage, so much that by the end of the day I was immobile and in lots of pain. So, I break my work up now into shorter chunks of time. It’s amazing how different it feels when it comes to achievement. Instead of coming out of the garden exhausted and cranky from hours in the heat and sun, I come out thinking “I harvested all that in 45 minutes?!” I hope to keep this new habit going even after my ankle is healed.

Oh, and in between those short bursts of work? I rest. Sometimes I sit down. I. Actually. Sit! Sometimes I even lay in my hammock, in fact that’s what doing right now, while I’m writing this.

You know what else I do? I talk to myself. Yup. I think so many of us need to hear some form of this about ourselves: You are enough. And hearing something like this from ourselves, the most important person to hear it from: “I am enough. There is nothing I need to do to prove myself, but just be me.” In fact, none of us have to prove anything at all, it’s just that faulty programming inside us that says so.

I am part of an amazing community. A small local community. A broader food community. A community of friends and family. I see so many wonderful people around me wearing out over self-imposed circumstances (even if sometimes it’s unclear and we want to place blame on others for this, like a boss for example). I don’t think we need to do this, friends. Let’s be good to ourselves and take just a little bit of time each day to do something that brings a smile to our face, slows our heart rate or raises gratitude awareness. Here’s a few things we’ve done on the homestead:

Stopped and smelled the roses.
Enjoyed a bowl of ice cream on a hot day. (It’s been way too hot this summer).
Spent time in a hammock, even if it’s just 10 minutes!

We even hosted an afternoon herbal tea party by the roses which was a real delight.

I sincerely hope you find something that brings you joy or presses that reset button daily.

Wishing you peace, love and nature,

-L

A Notion About Seeds

Happy Spring! We’ve been over here in the Northwoods riding the wave of Mother Nature’s moods. The last two days were 60 degrees F and sunny in the Keweenaw and as I’m writing this it’s 34 degrees F and snowing enough to accumulate. This time of year really reminds me of how adaptable and flexible we need to be. We can learn this lesson from nature. The migrating birds are either here or moving through, the trees are just starting to leaf out, the daffodils are just about to open and then…..SNOW. Yet, in most cases they just keep right along or making slight adaptations to manage through it. I’m doing a similar thing today. I had outside plans, but this weather and my plans didn’t mix. I made a few changes and now I’m on the couch with a cozy blanket and cup of tea. That’s flexibility, right? 😉

One of my outdoor plans today was to pull the overwintered parsnips and carrots out of the garden. It is such a treat enjoy fresh in April what was planted in summer last year. Fresh is so very appreciated this time of year – from that harvested from last year’s planted, along with fresh greens from seeds recently sown in the High Tunnel.

Fresh Kale picked from the high tunnel!

As a gardener and reader, I come across different sayings and quotes that have the tune of gardening, but carry deeper meaning, as interpreted by the reader. Here’s one of those quotes by a wise unknown.

“The day you plant the seed, is not the day you eat the fruit.”

Unknown.

We’ve recently been planting a lot of seeds, along with harvesting the fruit (or roots in the case of carrots and parsnip), so I get this quote. It’s literal. But, it really gets me thinking about it metaphorically as well. This summer we’ll be celebrating our 4th year as permanent, full-time residents of White Sky Woods, but we started planting the “seeds” long before making this major move to homesteading and yurt life. Maybe the “seeds” were little ideas of what our homestead could be like, or maybe a “seed” was a purchase that allowed us to achieve something more, like fencing the garden so our real seeds could safely grow.

Sometimes we plant “seeds” in the form of positive ideas that we don’t even know will grow. Maybe the “seed” is an idea that you’re passionate about and you do everything to grow the “seed” by learning, practicing, dreaming, and doing. All these efforts help the “seed” grow, but depending on what is meant to be, it may or may not be productive enough to ever pick the “fruit”.

Maybe you plant a “seed” as just a passing thought and it magically grows on its own without much input and then suddenly there is “fruit” and you feel grateful. These “fruits” are surprising and sometimes even go unnoticed because the “seed” was such a passing thought.

Maybe in another case the “seed” you plant is an idea that is critical, damaging, or negative. We can grow these seeds too, and these kinds typically have “fruit” that is more akin to thorns. For some of us, these are the easiest “seeds” to grow, but I’d say that for all of us, the least welcome “fruit.”

Everyday as a family we take time at dinner to say what we are grateful for. It’s such a positive practice. Sometimes we have small things, and sometimes big ones. But, it’s great practice to make note of what “seeds” we are planting and what “fruits” have grown.

What “seeds” are you planting? What “fruit” will they or have they grown? I’d love to hear!

A Slow, Simple, and Intentional Life

When I was 38 years old (I’m 41 now), we made a big change. With a lot (tons really) of planning, we moved our family of four to our land and newly built yurt several hundred miles away from where we were living and working. White Sky Woods Homestead became our new home, starting a whole new way of life. Basically everything we knew, our daily routines, our responsibilities, our income, our overall way of life changed.

A beautiful autumn sunrise over our home.

It took a lot of adapting for me to go from career-driven working mom to a part-time work from home, homesteader, stay at home and homeschooling mom. I’m still adjusting! My way of life is so different now, which is exactly what the goal of this major change was, but it’s been almost like restarting life. Adapting and learning how to live in this new way. This is akin to graduating college and getting your first job, or becoming empty nesters, or retiring.

I had to learn how to find my new “identity”. I had just spent 13 years in a career which fulfilled my quest for learning, personal and professional growth, and gave me opportunities to feel successful and appreciated in my work. Overnight, my new role became managing a homestead, our family’s well-being and security through self-reliance, my kids’ education, and many less significant things. Once I somewhat got a hold on this, I realized I was missing something. I couldn’t quite put a finger in it, but it seemed that although this was all on track with how I wanted it to be, I didn’t really have anything for me. Everything I was doing was for others and parenting especially is one of the most thankless jobs. I didn’t have that outside thing for just me anymore…where I could be successful and get credit and enjoy something for just myself. When I realized this, I started to seek opportunities for me to have a chance to “adult”, specifically doing something that gave me personal purpose. Because my programming is to be driven and successful and seemingly prove myself through work, I kept seeking, kept finding more things to fill this drive. I volunteered, got hired, coordinated groups, taught, got hired more, advanced our own business, and so on. I took on more and more and more. I tried to find worth through the work and the busyness. I was starting to repeat a pattern (I see this now) that I’ve had in my life…the pattern of existence where I’m more of a human “doing” than a human “being.”

Then, March 2020 intervened. At this point in time I was starting to recognize a problem I had created as I was facing burnout. I had just took on two new, great opportunities. Everything I was doing seemed so positive, but, I was stressed out and finding that home/work/me balance was becoming near impossible. When the pandemic shut-down began in mid-March, my calendar started to clear and my eyes started to open to a pace that was more preferred. Basically, a pace where we weren’t rushing or running from one thing to the next. We moved up here to escape the rat race of work and society, but somehow, here I was in it again…I created my own rat race. I had defaulted to my own flawed programming of finding worth or value in being busy. Yuk. It wasn’t good for me or my family.

Some things had to change but I needed time to process what this change looked like. What was in my life that wasn’t serving my wellness and my soul? These were the things that went first. It was really tough to make these choices, because quitting sucks. Another part of my flawed programming tells me that when you quit something, you’ve failed. But that, my friends, is FALSE!

I readjusted after these changes, but it was still challenging. My drive kicked back in and once summer came I was working 10-12 hour days, often 7 days a week keeping busy growing, farming, maintaining, doing my paid jobs, parenting, providing for my family, keeping a home, etc. When you live where you work, work is always in your face. It’s inescapable unless you make a point to not focus on it. I know a lot of people can relate, especially once work moved into the house due to the pandemic. When you have an obnoxiously strong commitment to competence or perfectionism or whatever it is, it is hard to break away and those kinds of hours and days worked are just not sustainable for anyone.

It was time to recognize this, once again, and start figuring out what steps I needed to take to get myself in a more healthy and sustainable place and focused more on what mattered. But wait, what was it that mattered again? Oh yeah, this huge life change was about things being more SIMPLE. A slower life. A life focused on family, friends, self, and community. A life immersed in nature. A life that is not managed for us, but BY us. A sustainable life in all ways: financially, environmentally, socially, personally, emotionally…to name a few. The choices I make for myself and that we make as a family should point back to this. So, I wrote that focus down. Then, I listed the things I’m doing and would like to be doing. I compared them all to the idea of a simple and sustainable life. I crossed things off. I thought about it. I talked with Tim and friends about it. I crossed more things off. I rested on it some more and then I started again to take actions to get myself into a place where I am comfortable and where I’m closer to simplicity. This took some more quitting things, some delegation, some reframing how I choose to let things make me feel, and so forth. It’s dirty work, almost more dirty than mucking the cow shelter.

The end of the year is near, and I’m feeling a lightness from the changes. I see a light toward even more changes. I now have a clear direction and a few specific things to be focused on. I am invested in these things and have chosen them with purpose. They may be overwhelming at times, anything can be. I’m ready to accept that and/or notice when things are out of balance and then do something about it. I also have some new routines that bring balance and self-care to my life. New patterns and habits that make space for me. Having space for me has allowed me to be much more present to my family and the work I do. I haven’t arrived to anything perfect, because perfect is not authentic and is not real. I’m a work in progress, ongoing.

Winter solstice light.

I recently saw a statement that said “joy is an act of resistance.” We are surrounded by so much that pulls us away from who we authentically are and that keeps us from the joy we all have the right to. Society is in constant critique of those who don’t fit norm. But, if the norm is being part of something that keeps joy from people, then count me out.

Our homesteading life brings me so much joy and freedom. I’m am surrounded by friendships that are healthy and strong and allow me to be authentically me. My family supports me even when I’m anxious, stressed, confused, etc. My work here on the homestead is exactly where my heart is. Schooling our kids at home, in nature, academically and eclectically, is allowing them to explore and grow in their own unique way. These things are what matter to me and I am so grateful to have the freedom to live this way. I write this blog for those who maybe have had a similar journey as mine and also to help me be accountable to myself.

I’ve created a mantra for 2021. Live a slow, simple and intentional life, unabashedly. Do you have one? Plan to create one? I’d love to hear about it.

Wishing you peace, love and nature,

-L

Foraging on the Homestead

I love all the seasons of the Keweenaw, but when it comes to foraging, oh my how summer does provide! Recently we had a filming here about Keweenaw foraging – for the show “Discovering” on 906 Outdoors. (We had a winter filming too, maybe you’d like to check it out!) After the filming (I’ll share the link on social when it’s ready!), I was reflecting on how I became a forager. I couldn’t quite put a finger on any specific experience or moment. More so that foraging sorta slowly sneaked its way into my life. It probably started with our move here to White Sky Woods. While the garden and fruit trees were just getting established, we foraged wild berries from all over our property. I probably didn’t call it foraging though, just picking. At the time, I had known through focusing on a natural foods diet, that some plants in nature were medicinal, such as raspberry leaf. I remember this being one of the first things foraged once we moved here, and it was so exciting that I blogged about it!

As we were out picking fruit, I started to see new plants I didn’t know. So, being the naturally curious person I am, I started out learning the identifications of many of the plants on our land – from trees to grasses and all the things between (I met a lot of amazing animal life along the way too). As I became more familiar with the plants we share our home with and developed the ability to identify them in various growing stages, I started to learn more about the properties of the plants and how they could benefit us and what we could do to provide for them. I fumbled a lot in the beginning, having problems with identification retention, but the more I was out with the land, the more it came to me quickly. On hikes out on the woods, I soon found myself looking at all the plants and naming them in my mind as I passed by them. I still do this today, like saying hi to people you know on a busy street.

Hello St. John’s Wort. Your sunny beautiful flower will be a source of mental wellness come the long, Keweenaw winter nights.

Still, after many years identifying plants on our land (going back over a decade now), there are some that stump me every spring when they come up and I have to refresh my memory. But, there are the “old standards” that have become a part of our foraging practice that I easily identify, harvest, and use for various purposes. The kids do too!

We do some foraging and harvesting for medicinal purposes, but for the most part, our focus is finding wild edibles and foraging that benefit our general wellness. Our favorites are the berries, but there is SO much more than that. This past winter we didn’t buy packaged tea because we had foraged enough from the land to provide our own healthy teas. Also, I created a few blends to sell at our farm stand.

When I’m out spending time with the land now, I think about how the land provides. I thank it. I think about what I can do to provide for it in return for its abundance. It’s a relationship of balance and respect and reciprocity. Just like one you would have with a partner or friend.

That is what the land is to me. While the food we forage is healthy for our bodies, the relationship with the land feeds my soul. We feed our body with food, and we can feed our soul with nature (vitamin N).

I thought about sourcing a whole bunch of beautiful pictures of nature for this post, but honestly, writing about the land has it calling to me. Now, it’s time for me to head up in the trees and forage Juneberries while watching my fingers get stained with the juices and listening and observing nature around me.

Peace, Love and Nature,

-L

3 Year Anniversary

Today we’re celebrating our 3 year anniversary at White Sky Woods Homestead. If you don’t know the origin story check out the original announcement, or read a little recap around this time 3 years ago, check it out.

Reflecting on it by looking around the homestead, the amount of hard work we’ve put in and infrastructure we’ve established…it feels like it’s been much longer than 3 years. Yet, memories of what daily life was like prior to the move are still fresh, so it somehow also barely feels like 3 years.

These past few months of pandemic shut downs has, as a friend noted, underlined, bolded and exclamation pointed the confirmation of what the homestead means in our life. We didn’t need more reasons to be thankful for being here, but we found more during this time.

Usually this time of year we have a large gathering of friends for our Yurt Life Celebration, Anniversary party. Because of restrictions and adjusting to the “new normal”, the party is not planned….for now. Past parties have been great food (potluck style), good friends having good conversation, new friendships forming, kids playing (and maybe getting stung by wasps…let’s not have that again), garden tours, ponds and woods hikes, bonfire enjoyment, and last year we even had instruments sing-alongs by the fire.

In reflection of today, I gathered some photos to highlight a bit about life around here as it is today. I’ve taken thousands of photographs over the past 3 years, but I’ll just share a few recent ones ;).

Sometimes I just step back and wonder…how did we get so fortunate?

Drone image of the central homestead area in winter. Image courtesy of Kristin Ojaniemi.

There are many quaint moments.

Witt, one of our oxen in training, grazing near the yurt.

And plenty of WTH moments.

Juneberry the goat, stuck in her hay feeder.

There is beauty across the landscape.

Quarry pond at winter.

And beauty in the little things; you have to be willing to look closely to observe it.

Twelve-spotted Skimmer on alder branch.

There is eating what we grow, make from scratch and forage.

Counter-clockwise L to R: Sauteed stinging nettle and asparagus, homemade rustic bread, and pizza casserole made with garden goods. Our anniversary meal!

There is growing healthy and humanely raised food for others.

Rabbits.

We share this land with our wild friends.

White-tailed deer enjoying a fall snack in our wildflowers.

And what were most thankful for are all the friends we’ve made here on the Keweenaw along with the friends and family who’ve come to visit and enjoy this place with us.

It’s been a grand 3 years! Thank you for following our journey!

Peace, love and nature,
-L

Real People, not Actors. 2 Videos to Watch this Weekend.

As we move into the second month of social distancing, we’re still keeping busy here. In a snapshot: we had a decent snowfall, I’ve been perfecting my rustic bread making skills (see below), also Tim took a break from the cabin and he and Flora built a produce stand (Flora is working on an upcoming blog post to tell you more about the produce stand!).

This kid loves bread!

We haven’t been bored, but I hear rumblings that others out there are. Might I humbly suggest some White Sky Woods entertainment? In the last two years we’ve met so many talented people, including a few that wanted to record and share our homestead journey. I see both of these videos as such a gift to us. Here are two videos you may enjoy watching:

The first program comes from 180 From Average. This video gives a tour of our homestead during our second summer of homesteading and shows a bit about yurt life.

This next one is from Kristin Ojaniemi, freelance videographer and producer at TV 6’s Discovering. It highlights a bit of what winter is like on the homestead, filmed mid-winter 2020. Take a snowshoe tour, forage, and meet the animals on the homestead tour!

Hope our friends, family, and followers are well, safe, and healthy!

Wishing you peace, love and time in nature,

-L

A New Pace

How are you doing? Physically? Emotionally? Well, I hope. In this last week I’ve had the pleasure of connecting with friends and family more than we normally would. Out of concern for one another and also because we have more time to connect. How nice to have more time for one another (even if it’s not face-to-face). I know more time isn’t everyone’s way of life right now, depending on one’s profession or other factors. I also understand that more time isn’t everyone’s thing or that this “new” way of daily life is challenging for many.

During the past 2 weeks and the weeks coming up, I’ve found our number of off-the-homestead responsibilities to drop considerably, and it’s been relieving to watch the schedule clear. Our family has been greatly enjoying having more time to be freely navigating our days. Also, let’s face it, while we are generally very involved in our community and socially, we also are really content just being here on the homestead. So, this social distancing and staying home thing hasn’t really been all that challenging for us. I’m so grateful for that, I know it is very different for others. In fact, it’s been such an unexpected opportunity to just slow down and enjoy a more reasonable pace of life.

Tim has been working diligently on the cabin, the progress is excellent! I keep taking pictures, but it’s hard to convey before and after through them, so I haven’t shared any on social media, yet.

The kids have been playing outside, listening to podcasts, attending so many awesome webinars just for kids and building everything imaginable with LEGO bricks.

I’ve been enjoying a more relaxed approached to my work and homeschool time (I’ve found that I have more peace in these things because I’m not having to rush to perform them within the constraints of all the other commitments). The ukulele I bought 2 years ago? I’m practicing it daily now! I am working through some canning that I didn’t have time to finish in fall, wild plum jelly and chokecherry jelly so far. I’m enjoying baking bread. Preparing our meals also has a much more relaxed approach because I’m not trying to cram it into a crazy busy day. I’ve even had time to just sit and read! This pace has been cathartic.

As a family we’ve spent a lot of time getting fresh air outdoors, and indoors playing games, reading out loud, and building puzzles together. We’ve been keeping busy with homeschool (our normal thing anyhow), but finding ourselves much more relaxed since we don’t have other commitments to run to. We get all the same stuff done, but at a more relaxed pace which puts everyone in a better mood. I thought this photo pretty much sums it up.

Dave (our dog) and Woodland.

Overall, this new pace has been a treat. Yes, we are feeling worry about the impact of COVID-19 on our family and friends and global society – the concern is constant. But I am hopeful that this time where we’re making history will result in some positive long-term change.

Friends, what have you been doing? Read any good books lately? How are you spending your time? Tell us in the comments below. Or find us on Facebook & Instagram to keep in touch!

Sincere wishes for the well-being of your whole self.

Peace, Love, & Nature,

-L