We’re Expecting! (Not What you Think)

Before the rumors start, NO, our family is not growing. No, we aren’t expecting any cute baby animals (well, yet). I only used that catchy title to trick you. Ha! But now I’ve got you, and I do have something important to share. It’s a big new project that will lead to this: we’re expecting VISITORS!

Welcome Script
We’ll be opening a Vacation Rental / AirBNB!

An unbelievable opportunity arrived, we were given an offer to purchase 160 acres, contingent to and north of our current homestead. The property has some awesome natural features along with a small home that is there from the original family that owned ours and the surrounding land. We had always dreamed of adding this property to our own, but had no idea it would come so soon.

Well, we are excited to say that we are now the official owners of this new property! It will become a beautiful extension of our own homestead, giving us new opportunities for fields, gardens, and places to graze the animals. It also will be a big part of White Sky Woods Homestead, LLC as we will be renovating the home on the property an converting it to vacation rental/AirBNB. Guests will have the option of getting fresh eggs, goods and produce during their stay, grown right from our homestead. A stay will also offer the option of “experiences”. The experiences will be homestead and nature-focused. They will allow guests to grow their understanding and connection to nature (think: guided hikes, identifying wildflowers) and/or the homesteading way of life (think: lessons on yogurt making, bread making, caring for animals, etc.). Families will also be able to choose experiences that are aimed specifically for children.

With some TLC, this unfinished home will be converted into a cozy, quiet getaway.

It may not look like more than an unfinished structure behind a heap of snow, but with some finishing touches and improvements, it will be a place for people to get away from it all (we’re truly off the beaten path) and enjoy the peace, while adding a touch of homestead life experience to their stay…if they like.

As the snow thaws, the work will begin. As with our homestead journey and yurt build, I’ll be documenting it on social media (Facebook & Instagram), follow along! We intend to be open for guests starting in late spring, 2020.

Have you vacationed at a homestead, farm, ranch, or specialized vacation rental or AirBNB? What did you love about it? What could have been better? Please let me know!

Homestead Piku’s

Happy Pi Day! It’s March fourteenth, synonymously know as Pi Day for how it aligns with the date on the calendar – 3/14 also the first 3 digits of Pi, 3.14. The kids and I recently attended an event celebrating the number Pi. They did many activities to understand the number and how it is used. One fun activity was creating Piku’s. Not a Haiku, which is a poem that consists of 3 lines where the first and last lines of a Haiku have 5 syllables and the middle line has 7 syllables. In a Piku, it also is made of 3 lines, but the lines are 3 syllables, 1 syllable, and 4 syllables, 3.14, Pi. Inspired by our homestead and the theme of Pi day, each of us has written a few Homestead themed piku’s. Enjoy!

Some days I
step
in poop a lot.
-Tim

Homesteading
just
where I belong!
-Lisa

Big pink pig in snow
Frannie

Chickens cluck
like
this Bawk Bawk Bawk!
-Woodland

The silly
goats
gasy, gasy.
-Flora

Flora walking Alder, the goat.

Today I ran
from
a very large pig.
-Tim (so, Tim took some liberties with the number of syllables, but that’s poetic license, right? Ha!)

Get a whiff
of
bacon and eggs!
-Lisa

Cucumbers
grow
in the garden.
-Woodland

Bunny is
my
friend – happy love.
-Flora

Have a piku to share? Submit it as a comment or pop over to our Facebook page and comment on today’s post with this blog.

The Making of “Fred” – Being Confident, Independent

A big part of our move here to the homestead was about the opportunity to be more independent, especially in terms of our food and finances. Gaining this type of independence requires some serious drive, sometimes hard work, and an “I can do this!” confidence and grit.

Often it’s hard to reflect on the day-to-day things that happen because you’re just in the mode of moving right along. Today I had a chance to reflect on the idea of being confident and independent. And it wasn’t my own confidence and independence, it’s my kids.

I received a text message this morning with a link to this recently published story by NPR: To Raise Confident, Independent Kids, Some Parents are Trying to ‘Let Grow’.

I’m not going re-hash the article, I hope you just go ahead and read it. After I read the article it reminded me of some play the kids had just the other night. It was dark (cause that’s what it does here after 5:30 p.m. in winter) and the kids wanted to go out and play. My kids, 4 & 9, and a friend aged 9, got bundled up in their snow gear. Each of them were equipped with headlamps for seeing in the dark (their initiative to do so). They also made sure we had a walkie talkie and that ours and theirs were in communication. Off they went, playing in the cold, snow, and dark. While the kids played, it allowed me and my friend to enjoy tea and good conversation by the woodstove. Besides our conversation, the yurt was quiet, which is a real rare thing, ha!

Probably about an hour passed and we heard communication over the walkie talkie – “we’re having fun, but we’re coming in now!” In they came, smiles on their faces, excitedly talking. After dumping their snow gear near the woodstove to dry it, they loudly explained to us that they had “worked on something in the woods” and that we’d have to wait until daylight to see it. We received clues, including that rock pebbles were involved.

The next day we were all together again and going for a hike through the woods. The kids were really excited because they wanted us to see what they had done. A short ways from the yurt, but at a place where the yurt was completely out of sight, we got to where they had been the night before.

There stood a SNOWMAN! Built away from home, in the dark by the light of headlamps, and with absolutely no adult intervention. In my eyes, this snowman is the perfect symbol for raising confident and independent children. I’m sure I had the biggest smile on my face, but the smiles of excitement and pride on their faces was way more rewarding.

Kids Outdoors in Snow with Snowman
The kids with “Fred”.

Parents, perhaps it sounds scary to let your kids play in the dark and cold while you sit inside drinking tea. But I firmly believe that no classroom or lesson can substitute the experience the kids had out there. They were working together, knew to be prepared (well-dressed, in communication, having headlamps), had independence from parents and therefore came up with this entire play time and building of “Fred” completely on their own. They were fully focused in the moment, using creative-play, and creating memories that will be hard to beat. Were these kids building their confidence and independence? Absolutely! Did this experience help me better see my children as the capable and independent children they are? Yup. Will they be better adults because of it? Man, I sure hope so. In this moment, reflecting back on their excitement, independence and joy makes me one happy mama.

Wishing you peace, love, and nature in the NEW YEAR! (Confidence and Independence too!)

-L

Pasture Raised Pork for Sale

Big news from the homestead, we have pigs for sale!  2 ways to buy:

1.) Feeder Pigs for sale.  Weaned and ready to go to their new home around mid-August.  E-mail to get details and reserve your pig. $100 per each.

2.) Pasture Raised Pork for sale. Whole pigs for sale. Our happy hogs are raised on pasture, eating grasses, local vegetation and happily rooting and rolling around. To support their growth they are supplemented with hay and hog feed. The expected date for our 2018 harvest is early December. Butcher dates are reserved for: December 11, 2018 and December 18, 2018.  You can get the details and information on how to reserve yours here:
https://docs.google.com/document/d/15dstxO9mJr3N4hze4HaMeh_nPeLJNMBmAXGcgKNghA4/edit?usp=sharing

FranniePiglets

We are located in the Lake Linden, Michigan area. Feeder pigs will be ready to be purchased by mid-August, but you can reserve yours now, just send us an e-mail.

Projects Reminiscent of Summertime

Today’s is Groundhog Day! The kids and I watched the famous “Punxsutawney Phil” make his prediction. He predicted 6 more weeks of winter! Man, the crowd there in Pennsylvania was disappointed. From our research though, historically he’s only been 20% accurate, so don’t place any bets on his prediction – ha!

Readers to our blog live in various places, so I’m sure there are many differing ideas about what winter has been like and if it would be nice if it continued. I realize this is only our first winter here on the Keweenaw Peninsula (47th parallel north), but we’ve been loving it. It’s nice to live in a place where winter isn’t just cold with a little bit of snow here and there, but a place where it’s mild (okay, cold sometimes too), but has enough snow to truly enjoy the beauty of a white and sparkly snowy winter. The best of our winter has been snowshoeing around our own property, and finding various routes to Lake Superior on snowshoe. Winter has been very busy for us otherwise and we haven’t spent nearly the time we have wanted to snowshoeing.

Our recent homestead projects included a few things that have me thinking about summertime.

1.) We’re still enjoying squash after squash that were harvested from the garden this past Autumn. They are so sweet and delightful and I’ve been preparing them in many different ways. The squash we grew this summer were spaghetti squash and buttercup squash. We are planning on more variety in the upcoming summer. One of my favorite recipes to make is 3 Sisters Soup.

2.) I made a big batch of strawberry jam from a strawberry stock-up this summer that I had froze for just this purpose.

The jam tastes like the summer sun! Maybe I’m exaggerating a bit in saying that, but it’s GOOD!

3.) I pickled carrots. There was a good deal on carrots at the grocery store and I was in the mood for something a little different so I made a few jars of refrigerator carrots. I did an experiment using my simple refrigerator pickle recipe; I tried apple cider vinegar for one batch and regular white vinegar for another. The family favorite was the white vinegar.

4.) Last summer one of our first homesteading project was to pick and dry loads of wild raspberry leaf and wild strawberry leaf. It was great forward thinking on my part, if I might say so. 🙂 We’ve been enjoying tea brewed with the dried leaves. The best combination seems to be raspberry leaf, strawberry leaf, a few dried flowers from St. John’s Wort, and some ground-up dried elderberries.

summertimetea
A taste of summer comes with tea brewed from our own wild harvested leaves.

5.) Another recent project we’ve been working on is our family Nature Journal. It’s part of our homeschooling and we try for at least one entry a week. Today Flora made an entry inspired by Groundhog Day.  It went as follows:

3 things I’ll do if Winter stays:

  1. Build a snowman.
  2. Watch the Chickadees.
  3. Watch the Deer.

3 things I’ll do if Spring comes early:

  1. Watch the Deer fawns.
  2. Watch the baby birds hatch.
  3. Pick flowers!

What’s your list include?

Peace, Love, and Nature,

-L

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Winter Prep – Fail Report! (Success too!)

Winter is officially upon us here in the Keweenaw Peninsula of Upper Michigan!  This week we had our first Winter Storm Warning.

WinterStormWarning.jpg
7-10 inches on the way!

The warning came a day in advance so the morning before we hustled and bustled to get all the final details ready for a big snow. This included mostly:

1.) (Tim) Fixing the steering on the tractor so that it can be used to snowblow. All the parts came in the day before and Tim spent the cold evening in the garage making the repair.

2.) (Lisa) Panicking about how much wood we need to have inside in case the storm hits for days. I hauled in bin after bin.

3.) (Lisa) Completing the bags of winter emergency items to be kept in each vehicle through the winter. This included extra hats, scarfs, mittens, snacks, flashlights, blankets, and rags. Final supplies were sorted and completed the evening before.

The few odds and ends that we had on our minds were completed before the storm – SUCCESS!

Well, the storm came and dumped a whopping inch. Yes, ONE inch. Oh man, I was having such a laugh at myself about my storm prep anxiety. (About 20 miles from here it did snow 7+ inches, we just lucked out!) But, I am also thankful it was only an inch, it made for a slower transition to winter and also some beautiful scenery and bird watching (the birds were busy preparing with many visits to our bird feeders).

The snow stopped, but some fairly nasty weather conditions continued and that’s where the success portion of our winterizing ended. The wind picked up considerably and the temperature dropped to around 15 degrees. No matter what I did to keep the wood stove hot, I simply couldn’t keep myself warm throughout the yurt. The temperature outside was dropping and so was the temperature inside. At 59 degrees inside, I started to panic..how exactly are we going to be keeping ourselves warm this winter?

After the kids went to bed, Tim and I worked together to assess what the heck was going on. The wood stove is performing just fine, so why the super cold? Since we just moved in June, this is our first winter here. Yes, it’s new construction and should be well insulated (which it is), but also we need to keep in mind that living in a yurt is a non-traditional home, so perhaps we’d need to do some better work on winterizing along with coming up with unique solutions for winterizing.

Yurt in Snow
Home Sweet Yurt, nestled in the fresh snow.

First, we felt around for drafts, and yes, we found some.

Second we used our infrared thermometer to check the temperature on varying parts of the yurt: floor, block wall, windows, walls, ceiling and dome.

Doing so, we found 3 spots that seemed to be leaking cold air. The culprits included the threshold on one door, the space where the walls meet the sloped ceiling, and the space where the window dome meets the ceiling.

Time to get to work.

First, the threshold on the doorway is adjustable, so Tim quickly eliminated that draft.

Second, Tim used rope caulk to stuff the tiny space between the walls and ceiling. He also adjusted some pieces in our ceiling planks and double checked for any settling in the insulation that may have left gaps.

Lastly, the space around the dome has been caulked.

The temperature outside has risen about 10 degrees and the wind has calmed , so we aren’t working with exactly the same conditions, but so far we have recognized a much less drafty home, and the ability to hold a comfortable temperature between 66 and 68 has become fully and easily attainable.

We are looking at a few more changes on our secondary heating system, which is in-floor (for more efficiency and cost savings), adding an eco-fan to our woodstove to help push heat around along with implementing some indoor changes to help trap heat in and keep cold out.

These adaptations we’ve had to make the past few days I believe are part of the adventure of yurt living in the Keweenaw Peninsula! With a positive homesteading attitude, simple home repair knowledge, and creative problem solving, we can keep moving ahead rather than getting stuck in a situation we don’t know how to fix. For a moment I had a sort of “the sky is falling” attitude, but then I remembered this quote I had heard a while back: “Have no fear of perfection, you’ll never reach it.” – Salvador Dali.  In other words, there is no perfection. Work with the moment, do the best you can, and relish the fun in finding solutions to problems.

Any low-budget tips you can share with us on keeping warm all winter?  We want to hear! Comment here on the blog or on our Facebook page.

Peace, love, and nature,

-Lisa

 

Cleaning Up The Homestead

One benefit of buying and building on raw wooded land is that it’s growing wild.  One downfall of buying and building on raw wooded land is that it’s growing wild.  We love how untamed and natural our woods are, yet, as we began to wander around the closest areas to our yurt where we need to keep areas and pathways accessible, we started to see certain sections that could use a trim.

At the end of the path to our yurt, there was a huge, gnarly patch of pin cherry growing. This is where we decided to store our wood, so that patch of pin cherry would need to be removed.

The view from our kitchen table to the garden and chickens was a mixed patch of tag alder and pin cherry.  Once we realized how much this obstructed our view, this patch would be better removed.

Once the roses along the path to our yurt came in full bloom, we recognized how many wild plums were growing in that patch. They were not growing in a manner that would allow them to produce fruit nicely, so we decided to thin that out.  The outcome would give us a much more favorable view of the beautiful roses.

There were no large trees in any of these areas, so it was more like clearing out a lot of branches that are growing out of the ground.

It was time for me to get to work, which went like this:

  • put on work clothes, bug spray, and sunscreen (necessary starting point for all homesteading tasks)
  • use chainsaw or use pruners to drop the branches, get Tim’s assistance in areas I was not comfortable with (look, I’m a novice chainsaw operator….at least for now)
  • drag branches out of the area
  • manicure the branches – branches large enough for fire wood were kept, twigs were not saved so I had to pile them up in another wooded area creating a brush pile for wildlife (more on this, keep reading)
  • enlist help from Flora to drag twigs and branches to the brush pile (she was great!)
  • stack any longer logs for further cutting into a size for burning
  • regret not wearing long sleeves, especially after the wild plums were are full of thorns

The outcome?  Cleared space, two heaping brush piles for wildlife, small amount of firewood, and hundreds of small scratches all over my arms.

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Wild Plums cleared out, gives the roses the focus they deserve!

So, what’s with the wildlife brush piles? Instead of burning or chipping up the wood, why not create a little haven for our animal friends? According to yardmap.org: “Wildlife need snug hiding places like those found in log or brush piles, and we don’t just mean birds. Butterflies overwinter in them, rabbits seek shelter there, snakes hunt for rodents and invertebrates in their cover, and chipmunks conceal their seed cache in their depths. If snags are nature’s apartment buildings, then brush piles are her hotels.”

We’ve also seen that deer chew on them in winter and use them to rub antlers.  In just a few years, the brush pile breaks down to a point of barely even being able to tell that it existed.  In the first few days of our brush pile, the kids and I watched a family of chipmunks play in the brush pile and eat the pin cherries that were still forming on some of the cut branches.

The next big project? Start hauling wood from around the property to our new wood storage area. Perhaps I’ll choose long sleeves for this project. 🙂

Wishing you Peace, Love, and Nature,

-L

 

 

Move (mostly) complete!

Hear ye, hear ye.  Or, perhaps since we now live in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan it should be, “Ya Der Hey, Ya Der Hey!” Really, I write that with nothing but love for the stereotypical “yooper” accent.

Well, we made the leap in our decision (read more here if you missed it), and now we are officially moved from Wrightstown, WI to the beautiful Keweenaw Peninsula of Michigan. As with any move, there were a lot of details.  But I’ll spare you.  Here are the amazing highlights:

We had a going away party.  Friends and family showed up.  We ate good food, had good stories, and made new memories.  It was a great send-off.

I finished my last day at work (after almost 13 years) and was surprised with an AMAZING 30-minute “The Office” themed going away video.  What an thoughtful project completed by co-workers.  I was feeling the love, big time – still am.  Thank goodness for technology to keep in touch.  Final day selfie stick photo below.

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I had a great final lunch with Joe and Danica, the owners of Prophit Marketing. They have provided me an amazing experience and wonderful work family over the past 12+ years.

Lunch with Joe and Danica.

Flora finished off her almost 3 year run with Conquer Martial Arts by being part of the Little Chute Cheesefest Parade (yes, this is a festival…..about cheese). She’s excited to start her new karate school here in the Copper Country.

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Our home was sold! Insert HUGE sigh of relief. We hope this home and neighborhood is everything to the new couple moving in that it has been to us. We will miss that amazing Fox River view and access, but we’ve moved on to something better suited for us 🙂 If you need a realtor in the Green Bay or Fox Valley area, call the guy below (Mike Pritzl).  He was so diligent, honest, and organized.  Thank you Mike!

Home Sold

We packed and packed and packed and…..

Ugh.

But it got done, and on Friday, 6/9/17, off we went!

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About 5 hours later we arrived and promptly unpacked.

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We are still finishing up some odds and ends of unpacking, so future post to be made on how our yurt looks inside as our home and not a construction zone 🙂

It hasn’t been even a week yet, but I can say, it feels right. Today, Flora said “I’m so glad we moved here.” Ditto my love.  Ditto.