Monday, June 23, 2014

Turtle Hill Farm Camp

The girls spent four days last week at farm camp at our favorite farm, Turtle Hill*.  This is the land and the people who grow our chickens and our eggs and many of our vegetables, and they happen to be close friends as well!  I was there for drop-off and again on Friday to have lunch with Eliza on her (gulp) twelfth birthday, so I got to take a few pictures of the amazing things these kids got up to...

campground kitchen
the campground and firepit
Farm chores - gathering eggs, watering and feeding the goats and chickens, milking, harvesting and planting.  They also helped the new baby goats nurse with their surrogate mama (their auntie, Ruth June).
Newborn baby goats, Raspberry and Blackberry!
Eliza and Blackberry

Making salve: identifying and wildcrafting the plants (plantain, comfrey, chamomile, yarrow) and making a salve using oil and beeswax.  Ours is already in heavy use with summer's bug bites.

choosing essential oils for the salve
Building raised garden beds: the kids helped measure the boards, learned how to use a hatchet to make corner stakes and a hammer to pound them in and an electric drill to put it all together. It was hot work, but they did it with enthusiasm!

building raised garden beds

Building rocket stoves: I needed Ani's help with this explanation...they took one large tin can and two smaller tin cans, cut a hole in the large can and fit a smaller can (minus its top and bottom) into the hole.  The second small can was set inside the large can, and fitted to a cut in the first can.  Underneath and around the inside cans are sand and rocks  (see photo below).  Using straw, small twigs and sticks with tree sap on them, the kids built fires and some managed to boil water in a pan set on top! Ani was "so pleased with the whole package!" 

Ani and Riley problem-solving
yes! it's working!!
Building a bridge on the trail: this required a lot of teamwork and communication to get the materials down the trail to the creek.  Ani says, "There were at least three people to a long board. The little boards were carried in a wheelie cart.  Once the materials were there, we lay out the long boards and put the little boards on top, drilling holes, and screwing the boards in place. The hardest part was carrying everything down.  Once it was finished it was SO bouncy but also sturdy. (It could probably hold up to ten people!)"

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And yes, I said that our daughter, Eliza, turned 12 at camp. Holy wah.

last chore of camp: eating a bowl of homemade ice cream!
We arrived on Saturday for a tour of their projects and a potluck dinner to celebrate the Solstice, and guess who met us there?  Dan!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (exclamation points courtesy of Anika) He's finally back from his month away...

Checking out a drawer-full...of baby birds!

the traditional Solstice haircut!

Throw in some slip-and-slide, evening hikes to the cave, and ghost stories around the campfire, and you have a full-fledged summer camp to remember! Happy Summer!

*Our friends at Turtle Hill, Jen and Michelle, just launched a Kickstarter campaign (click link to get there!) to raise funds for a workshop that would house not only tools but classes on sustainability, car maintenance and of course, farm camp projects! Please check them out if you have a passion for this kind of education and community-building. Thank you!

Friday, June 20, 2014

A Congregation of Cousins

I am taking a week-long online journaling "reboot" through Lori Pickert's wonderfully inspiring Project-Based Homeschooling, and the first prompt asked us to write one sentence about something for which we are feeling gratitude.  The girls and I had just returned, hours before, from another camping trip, up at Maumee Bay, Ohio, and I knew immediately what I wanted to write about.  It took more than one sentence.  

I am feeling gratitude for the hours I spent with these amazing women, who I also happen to be closely related to!  My cousins (sisters) from Wisconsin, my sister, and my cousin from the east coast all drove with their kiddos to meet us for a couple nights of camping.  We ate delicious food, hiked, swam, built campfires and played kickball, but the very best part were the conversations that linked those activities together.  (Ok, kickball was pretty awesome, especially this one moment where I was on deck and watched my sister running across home plate, closely followed by two cousins, all running like their lives depended on it, and let me tell you, I was doubled over laughing so hard I was trying like mad not to pee, and it was beautiful and funny but I am getting distracted...)  

One of my cousins commented that it was so nice to feel that even though we might not know each other well, we feel close enough to talk thoughtfully and intimately about the things that matter in our lives. For her it was because we are family, and there is trust and acceptance that she doesn't expect from other people in her life.  It is rich, that sharing and listening, the cackles and the laughter. Ah, I love it.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

photo walks

Ani got a camera for her birthday, and it is quite possibly her favorite present of all (thank you Auntissie!).  She loves going on photo walks with me, or running outside on a scavenger hunt.  Find 10 blue things.  Find curving lines.

fire pink
 We haven't been as good about the follow-up of putting them on the computer and reviewing them.  Heck no, it's much more fun to just take the photos...Here are some from our first photo walk together, hers and mine.

Ani's photo
Ani's photo

Ani's photo

Ani's photo

Ani's photo

Ani's photo. Of Ani.