Before summer draws to a close, let me pop up a few shots, beginning where we left off, with the daffodil explosion of March, leading from there through an endless train of beauty as the march of flowers flowed into April, May and June. Here we are in August now with zinnias and sunflowers.

Our neighbor rolled down his truck window. We stood by his drive. He looked over the trees we’d inquired about. “I got no use for ‘dem apples.”  We’ve gone back every year for harvest. They might not look like much, but oh the taste!

We’ve had high losses and heart ache too, with too many members of the chicken and duck flocks decimated by predators, and the loss of Leg because I was so proud of her – and didn’t protect her.  My spouse took to sleeping in the garden with his gun to no avail.  He’s finally home again.   I let her out from her safe enclosure (against my husband’s wise counsel) and we lost all but one of her chicks, and Leg  herself.  She was “Leg” because she survived a vicious attack, and went on to hatch out six biddies.  That was a real loss for me.  I still feel awful about it.  We also lost Doc and another drake.  We did gain six ducklings from a successful hatch, and have a deer in the freezer.  The ducks are almost full size now and look like females.

In between working, and teaching kids to fish, I took my vacation and led summer camps.  They went well, and were full of making; butter, bread, jelly, blackberry syrup, lemon curd, soap, potholders, candles, stories and art.  We dunked for apples and collected eggs, weeded and told stories.  My kids attended games camps and filled their summer with Minecraft and play dates.  We fed the very thin horse next door for the days we were allowed, and are hoping she can come graze at our house.  It’s a process.  My girl found some raccoons over there!  We continue to feed the dog by hand through the day after the tragedy of the deer hide incident last year. he continues to throw up, although raw food seems to make a difference. On October 17, he turns three.

My boy turned 12 and we had an $80 dinner of free-range steak, shrimp and Whole Foods chipotle chocolate cake under the tent together for a very special night. then his friends came for a wonderful all-day nerf battle.  August poured in and the weekly trips to Hillsborough for veggies brought some order to my pell mell weeks.

in a few weeks, Ru and I head for the hills to hike.  Then, it’s three weeks on the river.

Oh, and my husband grew a huge beard and Mom came to visit!

Why Farmschool?

My father was a lot of things. So is my Mom.  But perhaps the most important thing they were for me was challengers. They challenged me, constantly.

Pluck chickens, muck stalls, pick beans, can produce, milk goats, bale hay, collect eggs – sometimes at 6 am, sometimes at 10 below.  Hoe, weed, mulch.

“Head to the barn and do chores.” was never a punishment.  “Yes Mom!” The one punishment was when they said, “We’re sorry. We have to move.” I was 13.

Most at home in high grass among the flowers, in mossy woods, or listening to the sounds of grazing, I followed their faith that I would always listen to my heart.  They are why I have Farm School. I want to offer others what they gave me: learn how capable you are. You can do anything you want. Come on, we’ll do it together. Look at the life awaiting you in the woods and fields of home.


The garden offers gifts.

Shredded zucchini: delicious.  Squash sauteed in butter and garlic: divine.

I love how high the basil grows, from my chest to my toes.
The sage spills over itself and the cucumbers creep up the fence.

Growing makes me happy.


Lovely Memories

We culminated our week with a birthday party.

The centerpiece was a team-made cake representing the whole week’s work:

with our lemon curd between the layers

made with eggs we collected from hens we fed,

iced with home-made icing,

with butter that we churned by hand

in antique churns using local cream,

and flavored with zest we grated

from lemons we hand-squeezed into lemonade.

We drizzled home-churned vanilla ice cream

with home-made blackberry sauce,

from blackberries we picked in the meadow

while picking a bouquet

– because blackberries are her favorite.

Then we decorated the birthday girl’s cake with 11 of our own

hand dipped beeswax (and other wax) candles,

made especially for her cake that morning.

Wow!  What a celebration ceremony!






So many beautiful moments happened this week, we could hardly post them all. But here are a few of them:

We discovered black raspberries, enjoyed them over home made ice cream, and then because someone asked, we strained some, added vinegar and salt, and made ink!

We listed our favorites:

  • making our fort.
  • blue blue hearts – our soap

  • cooling off

  • journal sketches
  • the crayfish
  • water from the well for hot animals and kids!
  • lopping vines
  • muscadine wine
  • nettles omlettes!

  • churning butter
  • making farm cheese
  • making tipi fires

Full days!

There is so much to share from this first “Shake-down Cruise” week.

A tiny tribe has made lots of magic together.

After weeding, these two took some hammock time to make potholders.

The black raspberries…unspeakably good!

Hand-dipped bees-wax candles.

Tomorrow we begin!

 I have fretted (is it camp enough/clean enough/farm enough for them?)….but this thought just bubbled over and I filled with delight: They are going to LOVE our home!!  That’s why we’re having this camp: “The magic is just too good to keep to ourselves.” OK, officially excited.  This is a dream come true.  Welcome campers!!