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“The Upper Greenhouse through June, 2021”

A garden gallery for this June’s progress in the new, monstrous greenhouse we affectionately refer to as the Upper Greenhouse (or UGH)! Early June: A view down the UGH from the porch End of June: The tomatoes near the top are coming along nicely! This portion of the UGH was the origina grow space of the first greenhouse. This year it’s tomatillos, tomatoes, squash, peppers, beans, and culinary herbs. As well as a few young…

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“Tips on Choosing a Goat Breed”

Nigerian Dwarf Newborn   I’ve had a lot of people ask me about which goat they should get.  That’s something I certainly can’t answer for anyone else!  But I can lay a few things out that might help someone in selecting a breed they will adore   What do you want from a goat? Milk, meat, fiber, labor, companionship, or just a warm body out in the pasture?  Before all else, it’s important the remember…

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“Foraging in June 2021”

It’s the start of foraging season here on the mountain!  Horsetail and Arnica are cropping in nicely, with many others not far away from prime picking time.  We’ve harvested and dried one large batch of horsetail already.  It’s important to harvest horsetail early in the season when it’s most medicinally active!  Not to mention tender and fragrant!   We had so many folks asking for horsetail by the pound last year that we hope to…

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“A Post About Today, June 15th 2021”

With sunshine and warm weather abound now, it’s hard to find time and motivation to sit at the computer and write!  As the wild world finally bursts forth with green, our first round of leafy greens in the greenhouses are already going to seed.  So thinning the greens beds, drying greens, and replanting are high on the priority list.  Now that  the threat of frost has (theoretically) passed, i’s also time to plant  squash and…

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“Spring of the Broken Broodies”

Throughout the years, I’ve enjoyed dubbing the seasons with the names of events that were memorable.  This spring definitely merits the title “Spring of the Broken Broodies”.   I’ve hatched and raised thousands of chickens now, and even this year I’m seeing firsts.  The first spring broody of this year did something quite strange.  I kept her on golf balls for a few weeks, until a batch of chicks was hatched out in an incubator,…

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“Another Indecisive Spring”

April and May spent their time swinging between near-freezing temperatures, and warm summer temperatures in the 70’s.  With each cold snap we wagered we were done with the cold and moving on towards summer.  However, the two-week cycle of extremes has continued.  Last week, in an unseasonable turn of events, we got dumped with over 20″ of snow.  At best, only about a foot of it accumulated.  We were plunged back into the throws of…

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“Neoma’s Tribulations: The Scalp Wound, Part 2”

So it’s been close to two weeks since Neoma got her noggin’ ripped open. We stitched it shut, and as of the last update in this post here , she had been threatening to scratch the stitches out. Well, she did.  The night she removed the first stitch, we cleaned the wound up really well, softened the scab, and drained the fluids from the mess, but sometime in the night she went to town itching…

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“Spring 2021 is Officially Here!”

After a warm, summer-like day, the mountain got dumped with snow again! It’s been hard to tell whether spring has really sprung or not up here. One minute the sun is shining and it’s 50 or 60º, the next snow is dumping and everything is frozen again. Three days ago it was over 70º up here, then two days later it was frigid and snowing again. So what makes it official? The bears, of course!…

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“Neoma’s Tribulations: The Scalp Wound, Part 1”

A photo from the day before her brawl. Little Miss Danger Dog.  Scar Face.  Scalp Dog.  Neoma has once again won a shiny new battle scar. Unfortunately Neoma got chewed up in a dog fight.  And for once she wasn’t even asking for it!  She didn’t fight back and it was over in seconds (thankfully I was there to stop it), but the fight left her with a grotesque scalp wound and a bum leg.…

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“A Post About Today: May 5th, 2021”

The thawing pond resembles a tiny glacial lake. It’s May now, and the days and nights are growing ever warmer.  Sure, we’ll likely get a few more inches of snow before summer hits, but it won’t stick around for long!  The roads are thawing and drying out.  With such a rapid melt right now, water mitigation on the roads is vital to avoiding mushy, gooey roads and erosion.  So every 2 or 3 days trenches…

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“Website Updates”

If you’ve been one of the many people who visited this site this week and encountered curious visual site errors or visual changes from one page to the next as you explored, you have my apologies!  It’s taken me almost 100 days since switching to WordPress, but I think I’ve got this thing almost where I want it! The new WP site began with lightly colored text atop a solid black background. Not much color…

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“A Post About Today: April 16th, 2021”

It’s been a quiet and productive spring thus far.  2 of the 4 greenhouses are fully seeded/planted for the year.  The upper greenhouse is about 1/3 planted, and only limited to that because we’ve only managed to create grow beds in 1/3 of the whole structure!  Little sprouts are cropping everywhere.  The currants are flowering, and the new kiwis are just putting out leaves.  In another month or 2, the greenhouses will be stuffed full…

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“A Simple Gift from Nova”

It was a restless night, in-part due to one of the cats yowling in the greenhouse all night.  This morning the yowling picked up again.  It was Nova, and her incessant calling is a classic indication that she made kill.  This sweet little cat loves to “feed” me.  Once Upon A Time she used to hunt fruit for me form the orchard.  She’d bring apples and apricots into the house, yowling and calling for me,…

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“Raising the Barn, Part 2: Floors & Roof”

With the posts secured upright and our beams braced in place, it was time to add girders and joists so we could work towards having a solid floor on each level of the barn. Each joist was chainsaw milled with 1 flat side, and the ends were notched so they all rested at the same precise height (regardless of how big/wide the log was) on the girders.  Andy painstakingly measured out the placement of each…

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“Nova’s Tribulations: Poison”

Nova the Cat has the worst luck.  This poor, gentle little soul has endured so much ill fate. It was a particularly frigid winter, I had just moved again and was situated up in the mountains in a very rural area.  I kept an extra close eye on the cats in the sub-zero temps wer were having. It was so cold that I was bringing them inside at night. A day came when I hadn’t…

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“A Goat Update: Kids, Milk, & Cheese”

We are now 2 weeks from Ruma’s traumatic birthing experience and she is doing wonderfully.  At no point did she threaten me with uterine infection or complications.  PHEW!  She’s stayin’ plump and lookin’ beautiful as ever.  Never did I envision myself someday following a female goat around, carefully sniffing her vulva and noting how it smelled each day…   We have each doe down to 1 kid each and are milking the ladies twice a…

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“Baby Goats Have Arrived!”

BABY GOATS!  After 5 months of eager anticipation (the last 2 months of which were even more eager once we stopped milking in late  January and instantly began missing fresh cheese), we have beautiful baby goaters! Tisl birthed first, 48 hours later than her technical due date.  She was stealth-preggers, barely showing any baby bulge right up to birthing.  I expected only 1 kid out of her.  But she produced 2 beautiful kids.  I had…

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“A Post About Today: March 12th 2021”

  Bulbs and leafy greens and peas everywhere! As the warm days continue and the ground thaws, we’ve finally begun  putting seeds in the ground.  Over the last 3 years I’ve been taking notes on the growing seasons, how much we’ve grown and harvested, and how much we eat.   This year the gardening goals are: 100 sq ft or 100lbs of carrots 200 sq ft of beets or 200lbs of beets 100 tomato plants…

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“Mr. Icecream, A.K.A ‘Scarface'”

Icecream was a purebred California rabbit. A breeding buck. He was a neat rabbit, big and incredibly laid back. When I first brought him home, I already had a breeding buck, Hazel. So Icecream lived
in a large open-air pen that shared a side with the rabbit pen in which Hazel and the ladies lived. The fence that contained Icecream was nothing special; 2×4 inch welded wire fencing about 6 feet tall, with 1 inch chicken…

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A Post About Today: March 9th, 2021

March is well underway and spring is in the air!  With daytime highs in the 40’s, the Upper Greenhouse (the new massive one) has gotten well into the 70’s in full sunshine.  The snow is melting rapidly, and considering we’ve had unusually little snow this year, I’m sure it will be gone before we know it.  I highly doubt there will be snow in the draws in June this year. So with the advent of…

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“Sometimes Roadkill’s a Drag”

One fine summer morning I took a drive to the post office.  It was a beautiful day and I felt fantastic.  As usual, I kept my eyes peeled for roadkill deer along the way- however as I turned onto the highway and began my journey, I realized I had no blade in the car with me.  I laughed to myself- “Watch me find one of the biggest deer I’ve ever seen and have no way…

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“Raising the Barn, Part 1: Logging, Footings, & Posts”

It’s time I wrote out our adventure in building our barn!  I will make a video about it at some point, but for now, it shall be a series of blog posts. We spent spring 2019 logging dead and dying trees out of our draws to use for constructing our barn.  The telehandler is a fantastic friend for logging.  We can telescope the boom out to its furthest reach and run multiple lengths of stout…

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“A Post About Today: February 23rd, 2021”

The upper greenhouse just before the big melt and shed. Here Andy is movings some snow around below it whilst I standby listening for any indication that the snow may break loose and come down. With daytime high’s in the upper 30’s and 40’s, brisk winds, and bright sunshine, it’s hard to deny spring is here.  Yesterday the upper greenhouse was 51º!   Our 20 inches of fluffy white powder has melted into a semi-crusty…

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“Elk X-ing: a short animated comic”

I made this little comic because this particular story is a funny, expressive tale I enjoy telling, but it just doesn’t quite fit into text.  Text alone can’t capture the emotions of the event.  To some the humor in this story may seem a bit morbid, but it all depends on your perspective.  We take it lightheartedly- thus is life living in an area loaded with wildlife.  And no, we didn’t go back to look,…

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“Home-Made Liquid Detergent Soap”

I thought I would share a recipe I’ve been using for some time now to make our home-made 4-ingredient grease-cutting dish and laundry soap.  Really, it’s our everything soap.  But some folks prefer to have a different soap for each application.  So for those folks, consider this a dish and/or laundry soap. I initially made the recipe out of desperation.  We had just butchered Bill, the 1,000 pound boar, and we rendered hundreds of pounds…

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“Broken Chicken Feet”

If you live on a farm with chickens and any other livestock over 200lbs, chances are sooner or later you’ll see a limping chicken with a munched foot.  Pigs, mules, horses, and even very large goats can easily crush a chicken’s foot with one step.  Most of the time they are oblivious to the chicken’s thrashing screams and might not lift their foot right away.  When the large livestock is being grained, and thus the…

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“A Post About Today: February 6th, 2021”

I’m going to make my first attempt at adding some fun photos to the blog post.  Does that make it a… plog?!  :B   Edit/update: since it seems to have worked and looks nice, I’ll work on adding photos to more of my previous posts.  We recently got about 12″ of snow, and there’s still plenty more on the forecast.  At last, the snow has come! We’ve hardly had 3 feet of cumulative snow up…

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“The Goat Poisoned Himself”

Aster and Isöl made a jail break, as goats are prone to doing.  They escaped their fenced area and indulged in some free-ranging around the mountainside.  I didn’t think much of it; I know they’re not going very far and I don’t mind them browsing new area.  A few hours later, however, something seemed amiss.  I couldn’t hear the bells on their collars jingling.  They were either very far away or holding very still.  Goats…

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“Nova’s Tribulations: The Eye Wound”

It had been a cold winter.  We were lounging in the upper deck of the ‘upper greenhouse’, as we call it.  We were having a spot of sunshine and it’s always warmest at the top of the greenhouse. My cats Nochi, Nova, and Mario were lounging with me. Without warrant, as he was prone to doing, Mario looked sideways at his sister Nova and began terrorizing her in classic cat fashion. They had a momentary…

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“Xena the Warrior Princess”

This is the tale of how we met  Xena, the Warrior Princess. One day I visited a friend’s farm.  As evening approached, it began pouring rain, so I helped her wrap up farm chores by going out to the back of the property to look for chicken and duck eggs.  Mili the Dog was with me, as usual.  I’m rushing through a literal forest of yellow dock taller than I am, pulling back massive basal…

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“A Post About Today: February 1st, 2021”

It’s a bright, sunny Monday morning.  My orders are in the post and I’m now hiding in front of the computer.  The thermometer says it’s 38ºF in the greenhouse.  The top of our greenhouse today will likely reach 50ºF, whilst the draw below the cabin is likely in the teens or single-digits.  It’s a comfy 70ºF inside after a busy morning of frying up sausage, pancakes, and onions. Why am I indoors in front of…

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“The New Website”

If you’re reading this, Hello!  Welcome to the fancy new website!  Are you enjoying the shiny new blog feature?  I hope so.  I’m still trying to figure out what a blog is, so bear with me… This is my formal acknowledgement of the changes.  I did it!  I finally did it.  I surrendered to the almighty website building technology!   I must admit, the last time I tried to use a website builder was probably…

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“Counting the 2020 Harvest”

There’s something very magical about producing your own food.  I’m not the best at keeping records, but I do try.  So here’s a peek at what we managed to produce in the 2020 season.  Granted, the ‘season’ is not yet over.  We’re still contending with foodstuffs grown last year.  Our food and farming season will not begin anew until the spring! Canned Fruits: 79 gallons of apple, pear, huckleberry, aronia berry, and elderberry syrups, juices,…

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“Herbal Guide: Coral Root”

I wanted to talk a little bit about the medicinal herb Coral Root.  Members of the Corallorhiza family are many, and most of them are endangered.  In our forest we’re lucky to have a variety of coral root that is not state or nationally endangered.  Coral root is an orchid.  It’s entirely parasitic.  It produces no leaves and contains no chlorophyl.  It survives by leeching nutrients from the roots of the plants around it, as…

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“That Wasn’t a Squirrel”

One day Mili the Dog was out barking up a storm.  I assumed she was after a squirrel.  Then the barking changed tone- she had something cornered or trapped.  Curious, I look out the window.  She was running from end to end on a ten-foot length of six inch irrigation pipe, barking excitedly. “Ah ha!  She’s got a squirrel in the pipe!” Hunting rodents is her life passion, I’m not opposed to indulging her hunting…

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“On Self-Advocation and Self-Love, Part 1”

If you live with the aftershocks of trauma, one of the healthiest things you can do for yourself and others is to self advocate.  Speak up about your triggers.  True, over time and with proactive work, you can desensitize or eliminate your triggers.  But in the mean time, learn to speak up for yourself.  This not only helps to stop the trigger from happening, but it communicates clearly with others that you have a boundary…

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“The Boar Has What? WHERE?!”

Ol’ Spotty Wattles the Kune Kune boar was starting to move a bit stiff.  He didn’t want to move around much, and when he did, he did this funny little dance with his back legs.  I thought at first maybe he strained a muscle in a back leg somehow.  A week passed and he didn’t seem to be improving.  He ate and drank well enough, but something was off about him. One day we’re feeding…

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“Neoma’s Tribulations: The Hawk”

I was on the phone when I heard little Neoma yelping on the hill behind the house.   I listened keenly, assuming she was simply distressed upon realizing how far she was from us.  She came running home, whining, but not in a way that alarmed me. I listened, curious about what the issue was.  Then when she got to the front porch she exploded in hysterical screaming. I quickly hung up my phone call…

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“The Journey of the Emotions of Killing”

“Isn’t it hard to butcher an animal you raised yourself, especially if it had a name?” “It was at first” is about the simplest response to that common question. The act of destroying life comes with its own unique and complex emotional journey. For those of us who empathize with the life and suffering of other beings, killing is not a straight-forward affair. I really do think it’s an important conversation to have for those…

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“How Herbal Healing Became and Interest”

People: “How did you get into herbal medicine?” Me: “I cut my achilles tendon open.” Yeah, it was horrible.  I hate that it happened.  But it did.  I should say, actually, “someone’s bicycle cut my achilles tendon open.”… So I had this cut into the back of my foot, parallel with the bottom of my foot, making a 1” flap of my heel, cut straight through, that could open up like a mouth.  I was…

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“The Season of Snow is Upon Us Once Again”

“So… how much snow do you get up there?” The answer depends on the year, but usually between 5 and 10 feet. I used to say “I never want to live somewhere where the snow is deeper than I am tall”. Ha! I didn’t know what I was missing! If anything, the snow makes life up here easier. Winter is the time of hibernation. It’s the months without snow that are a frantic scurry of…

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“The Goat Ripped Her Teat Open”

I put Ruma on the stanchion one morning, as per usual, and knelt down to milk. “Wait- blood? Fresh blood? Where is it- oh wow… Ew.” She had somehow snagged her teat on something and tore it clean open, nearly 2 inches long. A very unsettling mixture of blood and milk was weeping out of the gash. Gross. Super gross. So I milked out her good side, trying not to look at the wound too…

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“Aspen’s Story: Broken Turkey Legs”

Aspen was a black Spanish turkey I purchased.  She was an adult and had grown up semi-wild.  She had very little trust in me. As turkey hens do, Aspen went broody in her first spring with me.  She chose a large wooden cupboard for her nest.  And as turkey toms do, Pip the tom started to get restless after all of the hens disappeared to sit nests.  To my dismay, he found Aspen in her…

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“I Put a Bone in My Foot…”

Yep. I was on a steep slope, unfolding a large sheet of greenhouse plastic, and I stepped on what looked like plain dirt only to hear a grotesque juicy crunch and a surge of pain in the arch of my foot. I sat/fell down and proceeded to uproot a small -something- sticking up out of the dirt. It was the tip of a buried jagged, gnarly chunk of dog-chewed deer vertebrae with old black gristle…

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“Stitches the Chicken”

Before moving to an area with frigidly cold winters and an extended cold season, I kept turkens.  Turkens are a breed of chicken that lack feathering on their head and necks.  I love turkens, they’re fantastic, and I wish I could raise them here on the mountain but that would be cruel to the half-naked birds. So one day I head out into my bird yard to put the birds up for the night and…

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“When Pigs Fly”

  Andy: “Jen, Bill’s stuck.” Me: “What?” Him: “I went to see why ravens were gathering in the pasture.  I thought he was dead, but he’s just stuck.” Me: “How is he… stuck?” Him: “Come check it out.” We go investigate Bill the boar.  Bill the 1,000lb Hampshire boar.  Indeed, Bill was accustomed to sleeping on the steep dusty hillside.  He normally laid down with his feet facing downhill, making it easy to roll over…

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“What Are You Even Doing?” 

“Wow! You guys are really doing it! You’re living the way people lived back in the pioneer days!” I’ve heard that, and similar sentiments, several times over the last few years. I never know how to react. What I want to say is “No, actually, we’re really not. We have comfy vehicles and snowmobiles with heated hand grips, we have a tele-handler, chainsaws, electricity and the internet. It’s nothing like ‘the pioneer days’”. But that…

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