Jul 152012
 

I decided to try to do something creative on those days I feel like I can do nothing but lie down. I can’t really figure out how to explain these days to you – they are very painful and hard. It feels as though your entire body is about four times heavier than usual, you can’t always walk in the direction you are trying to go, can’t always say the words you are trying to say. The more you try to make a normal day out of it, the worse you get, sometimes to the point the cain can’t even help you walk.

When one of these days comes along (too frequently lately), I decided to respect the MonSter and let go whatever small task I thought needed done (it’ll be there tomorrow – and so will I if I take care) and grab my camera. I bought a Cannon Rebel Xsi for my birthday a few years back. I LOVE this camera – it is one of the only things I’d grab if the house was on fire (of course Danny and all the critters are safe, also :)

This is the first digital camera I have ever owned. I wanted to learn everything about this new wonder – but was too busy. Well, guess what? I have fairly often higher authority imposed days that I can’t do much other than read and take pictures (most of these days, I can’t even comprehend much more than a basic crochet pattern – that I’d been working on for weeks).

So, this muggy day when I’d done too much (not much at all by normal standards) the last few days – today was my first picture day. All the pics on this site were taken with this camera. I have a very hard time holding the camera still anymore, so any clear photos make my day!

 

Jul 022012
 

After 12 years of almost daily pain, and several days to weeks each year of utter incapacity – it’s hard to explain really, like life itself has been sucked out of you – I’ve been diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. This lifeless feeling has prevailed since April this time, not letting up ever entirely. This has made the realities of running a homestead a glaring issue to be faced. There is always something to do on a homestead, always weeds to be pulled, produce to be processed, meals to be lovingly cooked, hungry creature mouths to be fed, house chores to be done, fences to fix, the list is endless. There is normally precious little time for the breaks to enjoy what all of us work for – deep peace and appreciation for our natural world. There is really no time for incapacity – no time when ‘nothing’ can be done.

With the mobility and balance issues and extreme, indescribable fatigue – I’ve been able to do very little in the gardens, very little around the house, and consider it a blessed good day if I can make our supper. The stairs in the house have become the most frightening part of my every day. Waiting on starting a treatment, it has been explained to me that the cost will be more than we can pay when my benefits are dropped – the job that paid for the environmental improvements to this home now slipping quickly away. I discovered the Swank MS Diet and have returned to veganism and an extremely low fat diet, following Dr. Swank’s plan, in combination with a lot of factors from Dr. McDougall’s plan. Still researching my herbs, I believe nature has what we need to treat anything – we just haven’t found a lot of it.

Danny has been the greatest support a girl could ask for, but has his own issues to deal with that are doubling the difficulty of keeping this homestead going. Oskar has been my constant companion, and Jet and Bella have become avid hunters and protectors of the property.

Wild Rose Herbs is closed. The domains were sold. Please do not contact wildroseherbs.com in search of my products.

As we struggle to find a new order at Dharma Dogs Farm, we’ll keep you posted.

Peace,

michele

Jun 062012
 

Hello all! It’s been a very trying several months since we last wrote. Let’s see if I can sum up the homestead happenings.

We were very happy to have food in the greenhouse all winter this year. It was a very warm and strange winter, but we can’t complain when beets, carrots, greens, even a few tomatoes and eggplant were with us until January. We tried covering the greenhouse with plastic this year – just gave her a blanket of 6mil over the roof and secured with 1x4s along the sides. We have to think this and the additional water barrels (total of 3 now) helped, but it’s hard to tell when Mother Nature is being so cooperative.

In contrast, the cold spring, and several medical issues, have kept us from getting the summer gardens completely in this year. We finally do have tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, some squash, and melons in – not where we had planned, but they are doing okay. Raised beds are going in to make the gardens a little easier to manage with the limitations now faced. Oh, and how can I forget, the zucchini was started early this year in the greenhouse – so the Zucchini Times are coming sooner than usual!

We are still working on the house – added four new windows and will be beefing up insulation on half the house this summer. We are adding a woodstove this year to see if we can get enough heat to keep the geothermal down. We are selling our Harman Pellet Stove if anyone needs one – just send us an email. It’s a good stove, we just want to reduce the electric draw in winter.

The dogs are all doing well – Bella will always be the ‘baby.’ She cries anytime one of us takes Jet or Oskar (her mom and dad) away somewhere. What ever would she have done if we had sold her? I promise to follow with some pictures soon. I do have to say – for those of you who do not know – the name of our homestead, Dharma Dogs Farm, came from our first German Shepherd Danny and I had together. His name was Storm, and our world revolved around him. So, when we decided to name this little half acre homestead, Dharma Dogs reflected the movement we were trying to make (the right path) and our love of our dog :) Little did we know then, that we would end up with a whole pack! Even so, we don’t sell the dogs, only a few puppies from an unexpected litter. As much as we would love to do German Shepherd rescue, we don’t have the land we would need to be fair to the dogs. We’re just trying to live a peaceful existence, providing for ourselves as best we can, and sharing with all of you to build a community of like-minded friends – just like many of you :)

We hope you all are healthy, safe, happy, and excited to have the Zucchini Times so near! :)

Peace,
michele

Jun 042011
 

Early morning bird songs fill the air
Knelt down in the early morning dew
Face toward Mother Earth – I am free

A faint click of the inverter signals Father Sun is rounding the oaks
Jingle of tags on collars prove my companions-protectors are with me
Grandmother spider scurries in front of me, snatching bugs as I pull up their cover
Daddy bluebird watches over chattering little ones while mommy catches a bite

Peach, pear, cherry, and hazelnuts rustle in the light breeze while almond sways gently
Barn owls who their good night-end as they settle in -
Second totem, after Wolf, before Raven
Pain reminds me my daily path is not true

Tiny yellow flowers dance like faeries over the lady’s mantle
A snap of peppermint floods childhood memories -
Incense and peppermints and strawberry alarm clocks
Pretty red roses remind me of a friend who saved me
Sun-soaked to the core of my soul – I am happy

Charentais flowers unfold their faces toward the sun
Mason bees buzz happily in the tomato forest
A tribe of chipmunks sounds the warning
As hawk settles majestically in the white pine

Cackling hens signal fresh eggs
An old squaw – some say medicine woman – creaks without groaning
Red beet soldiers line up for thinning - the selection process is brutal
Black swallowtail dances effortlessly-carelessly through the air

Strawberries half red, blueberries almost blue
Raspberries are plump with promise
Air heavy with the intoxicating smell of honeysuckle
It must be June at Dharma Dogs Farm

Wanishi
Weli Kishku

Lenape for:
Thank you
Have a Good Day

Apr 182010
 

None of us can be happier to be turning off the pellet stove and getting outside in the sun – and the dirt! We have been eating salad or other vegetables just about every day from the greenhouse.

We have plenty of Kale

and Broccoli Raab, also known as Rapini

and have been eating plenty of salads using Romaine, Kale leaves, Arugula, Endive, and Radish.

We started a pre-sprouted red potato in the greenhouse under the rowcovers back in February. It will soon be flowering, which means we will have baby red potatoes to sneak.

We even have a few nasturtiums started to grow along the support wires and other seedlings are started on the shelves.

The greenhouse has surely proven to be essential to us in the quest to grow our own food. We tilled a new 50 x 16 foot vegetable bed last week. We also planted potatoes and seeded the parsley and chervil. The blueberries have flowers, as do the peach, pear, apple, and almond trees.

The chickens are ready for their new home, which we will be building soon. We struggle with wanting to allow them to roam the yard eating whatever they’d like, which would no doubt include ticks! However, we not only have the two German Shepherd puppies to herd them endlessly around the yard, but also several hawks, a pair of falcons, a pair of great horned owls, and a recently spotted eagle. The girls are best protected in their moveable house, and soon 8×13 foot kennel home.

Sophia

Ursula

The girls have been giving us about 6 eggs per day. We have been using them to make eat, make pasta, and feed the dogs naturally. We also have been supplying our families, and selling a few dozen.

Michele has been beyond busy keeping up with the gardens, Indigo Studio, and working full time. Growing your own food is a big responsibility that takes a great deal of time – the time is enjoyable and rewarding though. She will hopefully be part time soon and able to better keep up with our dreams.

Peace to all,
Dharma Dogs

Feb 112010
 

Hello there – this is our first blog and the beginning of our story about our path toward a self-sufficient homestead. Well, okay, it’s not the beginning – that happened about five years ago, but it’s the first we will tell the story.

First, a little about us – my name is Michele. I have been a traditional herbalist most of my life, and am a self-taught artist. I’ve always dreamed of living a peaceful, self-sufficient life, but modern day life got in the way and I’ve spend a lot of years working for the establishment I care not to really be a part of. I have been deeply in love with my betrothed since I was thirteen years old (not giving away my current age, let it suffice to say that was a very long time ago). Dan is the grounding force here that keeps the rest of us on the right path. I call him the musician, not necessarily because he plays an instrument, but because he knows more than anyone I know about music, artists, instruments – you name it. He also remembers an awful lot about films and foreign, subtitled selections always bring interest.

We share our little half acre farm with a menagerie of domestic and wild critters – yes, small though it be, it’s a farm since we really have nothing growing other than grass that we can not use for something. Our two German Shepherd puppies keep us very busy, as do two cats and six Rhode Island Reds. We welcome most of the wildlife in our area, including a herd of white-tailed deer, a hawk we call Scorsia, a raven we call Kali, a skunk we call Daisy, an opossum we call Penelope, and various snakes, birds, mice, and others I’m sure I’ve forgotten. We do our best to walk softly on the Earth and live in harmony with the visitors to our little plot. We are careful to not use chemicals, choosing organic and biodegradable when needed, but mostly using natural methods and preparations in all areas of our life.

Over the last five years or so, we have planted fruit and nut trees, culinary and medicinal herbs, everlastings, and grown most of the vegetables we need. Our goal is to produce 80% of our own food and this year will be the first we do our best to make this a reality. We are currently planning an expansion that will make the vegetable gardens approximately 170 x 40 feet. We also installed a greenhouse a little over a year ago and we should have our winter veggies in there right now. We took these pictures in December:


Unfortunately, this year we did not get the passive solar heating elements in place that we had wanted to add and our produce froze by January. We have seeded just this past weekend to hopefully get an early harvest started and we will be posting about all of the improvements and details about the gardens in the coming weeks.

Our home is old and needs a lot of work, but we have managed to upgrade it to geothermal heating and cooling and solar hot water. We hope to add solar electric in the near future. We’ve had an unfortunate experience trying to accomplish these and other upgrades, including hopefully building a passive solar sunspace around the southeast corner of the house. More about this later also.

We are hoping to add a lot of useful information here for anyone else setting out on this path to self-sufficiency. We’d love to hear from you if you’re starting, or dreaming about a peaceful life working for yourself and living off the land, even if the land is a container garden on your deck or patio. We also are hoping to share information with all of you who are seasoned homesteaders. We know we always have so much to learn.

Peace,

the Dharma Dogs