Entries categorized "massachusetts"

if you can't find it, make it.......

I spent a good deal of time this winter trying to find a fresh herb CSA in our area. There is a lovely one in Western Massachusetts, but their drop offs were all in locations over an hour away from us. On Fridays. Which can get pretty crazy in the summer vacation traffic surge we see around here.

My goal this summer was to start a Community Supported Herbalism project. I want to create access for others to fresh organic herbal products. While I do have access to some wonderful land for wildcrafting..... there are also so many lovely cultivated plants I wanted to work with.

Then I had an idea. If I couldn't find a grower, I would become the grower....

Herb seedlings

Herb bed

Herb bed 2

Herb bed 3

Chive flowers

This year in our garden, aside from 4 cherry tomato plants and a row of peas...... the rest is ALL herbs. (we're fortunate to have a wonderful csa that provides us with fresh vegetables all year!) A good handful were perennials that came back from last summer, but the bulk was sourced throughout my area from small farms and friends. And the weeds were free.... goodness I have a lot of weeding to do this week!

This is what we currently grow on our little one-acre plot (wild & cultivated):

Chamomile, comfrey, catnip, echinacea, nettle, goldenrod, lemon balm, jewelweed, red clover, tobacco, yarrow, teasel, horseradish, lavender, calendula, poke, dandelion, violet, elderberry, valerian, st. john's wort, holy basil (tulsi), rue, spilanthes, peppermint, spearmint, white sage, bee balm, mugwort, marshmallow, plus some culinary favorites : cilantro, chocolate mint, pineapple sage, culinary sage, dill, thyme, rosemary, oregano, parsley, chives & basil.

I spent the weekend tucking the new ones into the garden with a little prayer, feeling so grateful to have this bounty to teach me over the next few months. I always learn so much more about a plant when I am able to see it and touch it. I feel grateful to have found such an incredible selection of herbs all grown within an hour of our homestead and can't wait to make fresh herbal products all summer right from my backyard.

I look forward to sharing garden walks and recipes with you as we go along.

xo,

stephinie

PS - Signups for the CSH begin tomorrow. We have very limited membership this year, so if you are interested act quickly!

 


spring homestead notes......

Spring garden

Burdock

Welsummer hen

Easter egger hen

Plum tree buds

Bee hive

Lost hive

Queen bee

Kids bees

 

Mud season has begun. Not that it really ended this winter, I'm pretty sure the ground never really froze, so it's been on the muddy side since October. The chickens are glad the last snow we got has melted. We clear a little spot and open up their door when the snow is on the ground.... but they won't venture past it. They just stay on their straw and squawk at us. I wish I could make a summer snow barrier to keep them out of the neighbor's yard. I'll be coming up with some alternatives this summer to try and let them free range but still keep them in our yard. Especially since we're adding to the flock. (we have eggs incubating right now!)

Our fruit trees are thinking about budding out. Luckily they have not yet, this warm winter hasn't fooled them and I'm glad. It's fooled a few magnolia trees around and I'm so sad to think I might not get to swoon at their pink flowers this spring. We'll see... I'm debating on wether I should move our fruit trees to the farm or not. There is one apple tree for sure up there, and I look forward to seeing it in bloom this spring... and looking for more!

On a sad note, we lost one of our hives. This was a first for us. I can't help but assume we did something wrong, it's only our second winter as beekeepers. This hive was configured differently, so maybe moisture was an issue for them? I know they didn't run out of food. It's frustrating, and sad. This was the large swarm I caught last year for those of you who saw it on instagram

Luke was following me around outside while I snapped these pictures and asked to open the hive up and look inside. I showed him the small cluster of bees and the queen. He carefully picked a few bees up and examined them and ever so carefully put them back down. 

They're so tiny, and beautiful. He whispered. 

I think that in the sadness of losing them, there is a great learning experience had by my boy, to be able to see honeybees up close like this. So I guess there's that.

And before I get this whole post too dark and dreary, we do still have two other hives that are doing well. In fact, I was greeted by bubbling good sized clusters in each hive as I slipped food under the cover on a warm day earlier this week. So there is hope! Luke of course thought we should open up the other hives too. After all, 48 degrees feels balmy this time of year. I told him we couldn't yet, but that I had a trick for checking on them. We wandered over to each of the other hives and I told him to press his ear against the side and gently slap it with his hand. (They'll buzz up - this is my ultra not fancy way of checking on them throughout the winter...)

His eyes widened, I hear them mom! It sounds like they are walking around on little tiny leaves.

Just a few more weeks little bees, the groundhog said spring was coming early....

Happy weekending friends.

xo,

s

 


winter beach wandering......

Gooseberry island

Frozen sea spray

Frozen sea

Sand & boy

Sea kelp

Winter beach walk

Magic

I've lived near the ocean since I was twelve. Well, aside from that quick two year tour in the midwest... but even then we lived on Lake Superior.... which will fool you a bit as trying to be an ocean. I know the smell and sound of her by heart. And while sitting at the beach in the sun is lovely, my true love is walking along the shore. Even better, standing at her edge before a storm. Watching the waves pick up... hearing the wind whip around... the sound of the water crashing onto the rocks and then the sudden sucking noise as it quickly returns to the sea. It's powerful. And since becoming a mother, it always reminds me a bit of birth.

We drove to our favorite beach this week after a good snowstorm. I made the kids wear their new long underwear and packed us all snacks for the way home. We had to park outside the gate and walk in. The cold wind almost surprising after a car ride in a toasty warm car. We huff and puff down the trail and then slip off the side to get a break from the wind. As soon as their boots touch the sand the kids are off. Their usual squabble is replaced by a combination of vast space between them or the two of them shoulder to shoulder looking at creatures in tide pools. Ebb and flow....

They must be so cold, Sophie says. Quickly putting a hermit crab back into the water.

Dad, tell me again why the ocean doesn't freeze, Luke asks. 

We walk and walk. Our bodies warm. The gloves come off and jackets get unzipped. The salty air fills my lungs and kisses my skin.

The kids wander ahead of Joe & I, and we begin to talk. About our plans. The farm. How to get from here to there. How long will it take to save enough money to begin building. Can't we really just build a tiny house and rough it? Would the kids hate us forever? Will there be for four or six of us  by then, how can our big kids be turning 18 & 20 this fall? Is he sure he is opposed to goats? (I'm slowly winning him over on the last one.) I'm a planner, a dreamer. I need details and goals to motivate me. Joe is pragmatic, steady. I'm thinking of what dairy goats would suit us best and he's thinking about fixing up his parent's old tractor so he can keep the front part of our property cleared until we build. I like to think we make a good pair though.

Will you miss this? I ask him. Will you miss being able to hop in the car and drive thirty minutes to one of the most beautiful beaches in New England?

He is slow to answer. I think about all the years he has spent on a ship at sea. His entire career interwoven with boats and salty air. My sailor boy. And then I think about all the reasons we chose the woods over the ocean. It wasn't an easy decision, but it feels right. It feels like us. Still, I wonder, will I miss it more than I think?

I look forward to visiting, he answers. 

And then Luke yells to us, something about icicles at the beach being salty. I am eating the ocean! He shouts. I have a taste. Cold. Salty. Me too, I tell him. 

 

xo,

s

   


wintering......

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We haven't had much of a real winter here. It's reminded me a whole lot of our years in southeast Alaska. Rain. Wet. Dark. Oh yeah, and the mud......

The poor grass is getting thin in spots and the mud piles are growing wider each day. I would love a big snowstorm to come and cover the garden and woods (and mud puddles) with a thick blanket of white. Snow makes everything look so tidy and it has that magical glow that almost makes up for it being dark at 4 in the afternoon.

Of course, the good thing about the mild weather is that we've hardly turned the heat on. The fireplace is doing a fine job keeping most of the house toasty warm. The bees are flying on warm afternoons. I love sitting on a stump outside their hive and watching them fly in and out. They were actually bringing pollen in the other day. I had one calendula bloom in my garden on Christmas Eve and there is a rogue dandelion that pops up every so often. They always find them.

Even though it hasn't felt like winter, our wintering activities are in full swing. There has been cozy fireside knitting and reading. Bread baking. Lots of afternoon popcorn. Hot cocoa and tea. And even though we took the tree down today, I left a lot of the twinkly lights up. I figured a little extra sparkle during these grey days couldn't hurt one bit.

Tell me how your wintering has been......

 

xo,

s