Sunday, August 10, 2014

A new home for Joy Bell Farm!

Blaine and I discovered that when you open yourself up to God and don't add restrictions regarding what you're looking for, He provides in amazing ways.

We didn't find a place that was several acres.  It doesn't have a barn.  It doesn't even have a garage.  It's a double wide manufactured home sitting on 1+ acres of a 25 acre hay operation.  

It does have an incredible view of Mt. Rainier.  It's in the target area we desired in Enumclaw ~ Osceola.  It's a beautiful place.  It's a quiet place.  It's a place with possibilities.  It's a place to learn about the climate and soil as we continue walking out our farm dream.  It brings hope and opportunity; a place to plant a large garden and raise chickens.

This is our new home for Joy Bell Farm.  And, we are thankful for our new landlords, Jessica and Kenny.

God is good.  All the time.  

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Seeking a new home for Joy Bell Farm

We've given our notice at our rental house and we have 31 days to find acreage and a new home for Joy Bell Farm!  It's exciting and scary all at the same time.

Our target area is Enumclaw, Washington - about an hour southeast of Seattle.  We've met several farmers in the area already who are part of the Enumclaw Sustainable Farmers Network.  We're excited to become part of this supportive community growing and producing healthy food for the Puget Sound region.

So at 49 years young, why are we embarking on a new farming venture now - as most farmers are retiring around age 55 or so?  Well, we haven't done all that really hard work that others farmers have spent a lifetime doing, our children are all grown and gone now, and we are not willing to give up a lifelong dream!  We are passionate about growing good, healthy, nutrient dense food in healthy, mineral rich soil blending organic farming and a healthy ecological system.  We want to care for the Earth, care for people and be a blessing to our community!

Our first year, we will want to have space for a large garden and a flock of egg laying hens to grow our own food.  Farm development will take time, as we will utilize permaculture principles in designing the farm.  We'll start with a year of observation noting the land conditions, weather, sectors on the land, etc. as well as focusing on building soil health.

So, do we have any experience you might wonder.....

Joanie has done this ~
  • Snohomish County 4-H – club and county leader; sewing and food – multiple projects at the club level.  This is where my farming passion was reignited.  Stepped down in 2005 and moved to King County in 2006.   My hope is to be involved with 4-H again.
  • Seattle Tilth – taken multiple classes over the years (including chicken classes) and completed their Comprehensive Organic Gardener course. Currently, I am a volunteer assistant for adult education classes (Intro to Permaculture and City Chickens 101).
  • Cloud Mountain Farm, Everson – Farm Walk plus a few of their public class offerings (building hoop house, etc).
  • Tilth Producer of Washington (individual member, which enables me to receive their quarterly newsletter and attend Farm Walks) – pruning blueberries, food hub, Cascadia mushrooms, on-farm compost, farm incubator program – and will be attending the GAP farm walk at Local Roots in August and the Burnt Ridge Nursery farm walk in September; just to name a few.
  • Holistic Management International/Allan Savory – attended an all day workshop.
  • Pacific Northwest Center for Holistic Management (Maurice Robinette and Sandra Matheson); financial management class.
  • Mother Earth News Fair – we’ve attended each year since it began in Puyallup.  So many educational workshops; learning from others and networking.
  • Cascade Harvest Coalition (Sheryl Wiser) – Volunteered/Paid for the past couple of years delivering the Farm Guide from Skagit County through Island County and south to Thurston County.  Learned a lot about networking with farmers through my association with CHC.
  • WSU Extension, Small Farms, King Conservation District ~ attended several educational opportunities; continually learning more.
  • Country Living Expo (Cattleman’s Winter School, Stanwood) attended for the past 2 years; a great learning opportunity on a variety of subjects.
  • Focus on Farming Conference (Everett) – attended the conference the past 2 years; also a great learning opportunity.
  • Completed a Permaculture Design Course with Toby Hemenway (author of Gaia’s Garden); a first step in learning what permaculture is and how to look at land and work with the environment and how things work together instead of imposing upon the land.
  • Lots of reading and research plus trial-and-error for several growing seasons in Burien.
  • Annette Cottrell (co-author of Urban Farm Handbook) – learned a little about mini-dairy goats (Nubians) in preparation to show Annette’s goats for a show this past June. 

Blaine attended food preservation classes, built a library of relevant books and has participated in a few farm walks plus attended Country Living Expo and Mother Earth News Fair.  He loves canning and he’s a really good pickle maker too!

TOGETHER, we built our urban farm over 6+ years and I, eventually, managed sixteen raised beds on our urban farm plus additional in ground growing areas.  I grew a variety of fruits and veggies plus herbs. For 18 months, I raised a small flock of backyard chickens and learned so much!

Skills:  gardening, animal care, organic/non-toxic solutions to problems, basic carpentry, painting, baking (gluten-free/allergy sensitive)

Personal:  We don't smoke (anything), we don't drink (maybe a rare bottle of wine for a holiday meal), we don't listen to loud music.  We're quiet, respectful and caring people who love healthy, organically grown, nutrient dense food and humanely raised livestock.  

Every season brings its tasks and hope of a future harvest.  Very early spring pictured.

To the height of the season when you can barely keep up with the harvest and get some sleep too.  Dawn to dusk days... A wonderful time of year!

Integrating chickens into your system to help with the farm work.  Here the girls are helping clean up the area where strawberry plants were removed.

Utilizing a low growing clover in the garden pathways - each time the clover is cut, the plants send out a flush of nitrogen into the soil; benefiting the plants in the raised beds!  Plus, the clover helps suppress weeds, food source for bees and the chickens love scratching in it for bugs.   

 Whenever you're turning the soil, the chickens come running to help "clean" the soil (and leave a little fertilizer behind) - bugs and worms are first rate!

And then..... closing the chickens out of the garden during growing season!

Late fall, the girls are still busy when it's time to plant garlic!

Farm work gives you the opportunity to work as a team and learn new skills too.  
Our first chicken coop we ever built!

Together, we're following our dream and believing God will provide Joy Bell Farm for us!

Blessed to be a blessing to others.

"The Lord has done great things for us and we are filled with joy."  Psalm 126:3

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Actively waiting.....

Time keeps on ticking, ticking....into the future! 

And, we remain waiting and wondering and seeking and looking for our farm dream to be a reality.  We know God is able and continue to believe it is His plan for our lives.

I have come across a number of "signs" lately (the Lord showing me He is in the midst of this crazy journey and is at work all around us - yes, we do believe).  And just yesterday, I received an e-mail from someone I don't know that lives in this area and is seeking housing/farm work (to learn for their young family - initials JMZ - and it nearly broke our hearts to be "in the city" at the moment when part of our heart and vision is opening our home/farm for others to come and learn/live/be restored with us)...  God knows our hearts and we are praying for this precious family.  We believe:

God is good.  All the time.  

We are praying, and believe, Joy Bell Farm will be our reality - soon and very soon!  

We appreciate your prayers and thank you for joining with us in seeking God's provision.

The Lord has done great things for us and we are filled with joy.  Psalm 126:3

A couple weeks ago, I returned to my parked car in a parking lot and this was stuck to the ground next to my car....  Hope.  Love.

A couple of days later, after almost getting rear-ended leaving a plant nursery parking lot near us (I was letting this very van pull out from a driveway across the street), I see this bumper sticker...  Yes, Lord.  You are with us.

About a week or so later, at the end of a challenging evening, I see this heart on the base of a crosswalk sign in downtown Seattle...  I see you and love you.

Last Friday, I met up with my precious cousin and we were walking and talking along Alki. We both were wondering if we'd missed "our calling" - that thing we were supposed to have done in our life - when we looked down and this was in our path!  

Tears of great joy!  We are each on the right path and the Lord is with us...  

Toward the end of our walk along Alki, I felt that I should look down...and saw this.

...with these next to it:  a huckleberry branch and a hammock.

Food and rest.


We did a lot of praising God right there along the beach.  God is good.  All the time.

And last Sunday (after a very discouraging incident with my health on Saturday), Blaine and I ran an errand to downtown Seattle - and while searching for glass loaf pans (which we couldn't find anywhere), we did find these - a wire chicken (at a kitchen store) and a Pickle-ator kit (Britt's Pickles was just closing, but allowed us to make our purchase).

More encouragement that God is with us.  And, we continue to walk out this journey by faith; believing nothing is impossible for our amazing Lord.

This morning, a friend posts this and I feel like the Lord is speaking to me; how my heart and spirit is feeling....  

Please Lord, we are willing and desire to fulfill Your purpose and plans for our lives.  We believe You've shown us where to go.  Now, we wait on Your provision.  There is nothing humanly we can do to make Joy Bell Farm a reality in our lives.  It's up to You!

And then, I see this photo.  This is the verse posted with the Chuck Swindol photo above.  I couldn't believe what I was seeing.  My heart rejoiced and I felt great encouragement.

When I returned home late this morning - after missing my massage appointment, because of a roadway issue on a major highway in Seattle (and the road I travel on became the alternate route for all the traffic detouring around the road issue - backing it up and causing none of us to go anywhere quickly) and my driving foot cramped up, forcing me to pull over to work out the cramp and wanting to stop and get a little treat at Flying Apron Bakery (but again, the roads were all clogged with cars, because of the detours) and I just felt really down.... Blaine reminded me of the Chuck Swindol quote and I praised God.

Then, at home, I see this photo.  Posted by a sweet friend.  She had no idea what it said to me.  So many times, I've asked God if He could just let me know what I should do.  Like a neon sign or something...  This works too!

I Am at work in Your life, Child (says the Lord).  Trust in Me.  Believe.  I am your Provider. 

Joy Bell Farm and JB's Kitchen.  We believe.  We are believing!

God is able.  More than able.  God's timing is always perfect.

And, just after I shared this post on my Facebook page - I see this:

I stand amazed at how awesome our God is!  

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

The value of an egg

There are time when events happen in life and you lose something that you loved and your are greatly saddened by the loss.  But sometimes, you end up realizing HOW MUCH value that thing had in your life and how great your loss is!

Huh?  Could you be a little more specific, Joan?

Certainly.  I didn't eat a lot of eggs before these girls arrived in my life…  Why?  I just didn't feel really good when I ate eggs from the grocery store.  I used them mostly for baking.

Are homegrown eggs really different than organic eggs you purchase at the farmers market or your local heath food store (or even at a regular grocery store).  


They look like regular, ordinary eggs, don't they?

However, I have now discovered that they weren't.  These were a valuable source of critical nutrition for me… and now they are no longer in my diet, as we had to re-home our girls when we moved from our home.

If you knew these type of eggs were a vital nutritional source for you, what would these eggs be worth to you?  $0.99/dozen?  $2.00/dozen?  $5.00/dozen?  

Would you pay $12.00/dozen?  $1.00 per egg?

Are you crazy?  That is ridiculously expensive!!!

Ever purchased one of these?  I understand they cost about $2.69.  If you purchase a white only version, it's $1.00.  If you're willing to purchase one of these (or something similar from another "fast food restaurant"), why wouldn't you consider paying ONE DOLLAR per egg for eggs that are nutrient dense and provide high value to your diet?

I don't think you can say an Egg McMuffin has the nutrient value of organically raised, homegrown eggs.   Why not?  What was so special about your eggs?

 Feed choice!  I paid for a highly quality/locally sourced and milled feed - that was always non-gmo and is now certified organic.  Yes, it does make a difference.

Because I chose a mash chicken feed, a lot of the smaller pieces and nutritional components were left in the bottom of the feeder.  To insure that my chicken girls got everything they needed, I would give them a bowl of the "dust" from the feeder mixed with goat milk kefir every other day.  They loved it and it added to their health and the eggs they produced.

In addition, my girls had fresh water regularly (usually I changed their water every other day - and washed out the gallon water container).  I put approximately 2 Tablespoons of ACV in their water when changing it.  This helped to keep their guts healthy.

They also had oyster shell calcium and grit available at all times.

While it was readily available, my girls also had a trough of non-gmo, unsprayed alfalfa.  They didn't care for the straw (although they loved to scratch through it as I created piles out in their free range area), so I shook off the leaf (which went into the trough) and the straw made great compost out in the garden.  Alfalfa is very bio-available to chickens and increases the nutrient value in their eggs.  Today's challenge:  most farmers are growing GMO alfalfa and it's very difficult to find a source for non-gmo, unsprayed alfalfa.  

I also offered kale and sometimes spinach to my girls - especially on days when I couldn't be home and they had to stay in the coop all day.  Here, Sussy is enjoying spinach.

Depending on the season, they received other food from my garden ~ overripe berries, greens that were too damaged for our table, pumpkins (seeds and flesh), cherry tomatoes...  I had even thrown them bok choy that had bolted.

I kept their coop clean and used white shavings for their bedding/litter and Diatomaceous Earth (DE) to deal with bugs.

Organic Cracked Corn - was a treat only on the coldest of nights, as chickens can easily put on extra weight from too much corn in their diets and disease can develop.  When the temps fell, a corn treat before bed meant they'd burn off the corn all night and be toasty warm.

Organic Black Oil Sunflower Seeds (BOSS) - a morning treat after I had completed my morning coop chores.  They'd all come running at the sound of those seeds being shaken in the glass jar…  And, they would "plant" some of those sunflowers and it was delightful to see a new plant sprout in their free range area.

Free Ranging!  My girls had the ability to seek bugs and worms throughout the property on a daily basis (well, not when there was drenching rains - but most days - even if for a short window of time). 

We have tried purchasing organic, soy-free eggs - but they don't hold the same nutritional value that my girls' eggs did.  The whites are runny - mine were firm.  The egg yolk is not the same beautiful orange either.  And, the biggest test:  I don't feel as good as I did when I ate the eggs my girls produced.  Plus, we don't have that beautiful golden color added to our baked goods.  

Sometimes, you don't realize the value of something until you don't have it any longer.

I may not be eating eggs in my diet right now (as we're living in a rental house that has no chicken space available), but I'm praising God in the midst of this challenging time.  He has taught me a valuable lesson of what He had provided and that He is able to take care of my every need.

As I wait to have my own flock again, this I believe:

God is good.

He's got an amazing plan for my/our life.

I'm/We're going to have it!

Something good is going to happen to me/us.

Blaine and I continue to believe that Joy Bell Farm will be a real place; not just a place we hold dear in our hearts!  

Isaiah 61:7  Instead of your [former] shame you shall have a twofold recompense; instead of dishonor and reproach [your people] shall rejoice in their portion. Therefore in their land they shall possess double [what they had forfeited]; everlasting joy shall be theirs.

Abundant blessings.  God has an amazing plan for your life too!

Thursday, October 10, 2013

A "much delayed" update... (more to come)

What our home looked like in 2006 when we purchased it.

At 10:00 am PST today, our house was auctioned off in downtown Seattle.  The likelihood that an investor purchased our foreclosed home is very high.  

  • Yes, we made the decision to allow our home to return to the bank.
  • Yes, we knew what the outcome of our decision would be:  foreclosure.
  • Yes, we felt that we didn't have a choice in the matter when faced with a financially devastating discovery in 2012; our foundation was undermined by underground water.  

When we purchased this home in 2006, we could not have imagined the 7 year journey ahead of us...  Had we known, we would have said, "Thanks, but no thanks."  And, in reflecting about the purchase of this home ~ had we listened to God and been obedient, we never would have purchased this home.  WHAT?

It's true.  Throughout the years, God has told us to "Get out of debt!"  It's a simple and specific statement.  It's not difficult to understand what is being said to us, but, for some reason, it's nearly impossible for us to make this a reality in our lives.  When we sold our home in Marysville we could have paid off all our debt (from the profit of that sale), and if we had, we would be debt-free today.  But, we listened to the voices of the world around us.  "Re-invest your money, protect the profit made from Capital Gains Tax, you will be better off owning your own home."  And so, we did as the world encouraged us to do and purchased a home outside of our desired neighborhood, at the time ~ and now, we've lost all of our financial investment and still have outstanding debt.  Looking back, we discovered that we learned numerous lessons equal to (or more than) the cost of putting Blaine and I through college (without having an official degree awarded to us).  

This illustration does pretty much sum it up though...  sigh.

Place Your Life Before God

Romans 12 1-2 So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.

It is so easy to get caught up in the world's way of thinking.  Even as a believer in Christ, who is in God's Word and praying, we can get caught up when we don't take every thought captive and we forget to look at our "road map" (the Bible), especially when human emotion is in the mix.  And, God always gives us a choice.  We had one:  get out of debt or choose to buy a new house.  He does not force us to take the road of His choosing and He will bless us when we choose our own path to follow (though the level of blessing will not be what would have been in choosing obedience to Him).  He is a gracious, merciful and loving God.  He truly is.  And, He chose to teach us and help us to grow in His Truth.  Discipline is not easy to live with, but it does make us better people in the end.  For that, I am so thankful!  God has taught us much in our time here:

  • Learning not to "judge" people who live different lives than we do or believe differently than we do.  Everyone has a story and God is at work in each person's life.  As a believer, I am to love other people, as God has loved me.
  • Learning that other believers will treat us badly and inflict wounds; sometimes deep wounds.  Revelation:  we are all human and prone to make mistakes and can cause hurt whether intentional or unintentional.
  • Learning that when things happen in people's lives there is often more to the story than just what is known by others or told to others.
  • Friendship is a precious gift.  Sometimes we don't understand the value of the gift until that person is gone.
  • Blessed to be a blessing to others ~ allowing God's blessings to flow through our lives to others.
  • The greatest difficulties can bring about the greatest freedom and healing in our lives.
  • Learning that no matter how far we may get off the path, God provides a way to get back on the path to Him.
  • The importance of obedience.  

I still have so much to learn, but these past 7 years have been an amazing time of learning and growth in our lives.

Hebrews 12:11

The Message (MSG)
4-11 In this all-out match against sin, others have suffered far worse than you, to say nothing of what Jesus went through—all that bloodshed! So don’t feel sorry for yourselves. Or have you forgotten how good parents treat children, and that God regards you as his children?

My dear child, don’t shrug off God’s discipline,

    but don’t be crushed by it either.

It’s the child he loves that he disciplines;

    the child he embraces, he also corrects.
God is educating you; that’s why you must never drop out. He’s treating you as dear children. This trouble you’re in isn’t punishment; it’s training, the normal experience of children. Only irresponsible parents leave children to fend for themselves. Would you prefer an irresponsible God? We respect our own parents for training and not spoiling us, so why not embrace God’s training so we can truly live? While we were children, our parents did what seemed best to them. But God is doing what is best for us, training us to live God’s holy best. At the time, discipline isn’t much fun. It always feels like it’s going against the grain. Later, of course, it pays off handsomely, for it’s the well-trained who find themselves mature in their relationship with God.

For 6 years we lived in our home, developed the garden, got to know the neighbors and remodeled our home.  We also had many heartaches that occurred during this time too, as never before in our family.  And then, in 2012, we were told by a structural engineer that "the foundation of our house is broken and sinking..."  Believe me, the spiritual significance was not lost on me.  While we were overwhelmed by the great financial loss that was before us, the realization that there was a much deeper and serious spiritual issue at hand was devastating!

We've gone from Bounty...

To Bare!

The countless hours (years) of work, the financial investment, the fruits and veggies and chickens and fertile soil, the wheelbarrow loads of soil and compost, and the harvests...all gone in just a few weeks time.

And, the people ~ one cannot even begin to find words to share about being part of a neighborhood; a community ~ for the first time in our lives.

We have also been in anguish regarding the scale of damage to this house and that someone else will buy it (not knowing) and then possibly cover it up and pass it along to another...devastating their lives financially.  It has been an terrible burden to bear in not being able to warn another of the path that lies ahead of them.  How often I must remind myself that this is God's story, not mine.  

And, once we move next week, it will be as if we had never been here...except for the footprints we have left on people's lives (and they on ours) and our tangled heartstrings.

And yet...  In the midst of great sorrow, beauty remains.  Hope is all around us. I am overwhelmed by His grace in God saying, "Enough and it is finished" with this house.  It's time to rebuild our foundation strong and reinforced in Him.  

Today, this is the beauty I saw in the garden; reminding me of my amazing Creator ~ 

A sunflower planted by the chickens blooms today...

A strong storm passed through the area yesterday afternoon, but the sunflowers continue blooming despite the power of that storm...

A reminder to stop and see the beauty in reflections...

Calendula blooms late in the season despite the maple tree suffering in this hot, dry summer...

My precious maple tree greatly suffering in the heat, but I know that a season of rest through the winter will bring new life in the spring.

Despite being pounded in the storm, the amaranth is still gorgeous!

Revelation 21:5

The Message (MSG)
3-5 I heard a voice thunder from the Throne: “Look! Look! God has moved into the neighborhood, making his home with men and women! They’re his people, he’s their God. He’ll wipe every tear from their eyes. Death is gone for good—tears gone, crying gone, pain gone—all the first order of things gone.” The Enthroned continued, “Look! I’m making everything new. Write it all down—each word dependable and accurate.”

And now, the time has arrived for Blaine and I to move on; to move forward into a new season with God.  We cannot look back, but we must keep our eyes focused on Him.  He is writing an amazing and beautiful story in our lives for His purposes and to share His love with others.  He brings healing and hope.  We lift our eyes toward heaven and say, "Here we are, Lord, use us; send us"  For this, we do give thanks.

And, we rejoice, once more, in knowing that God makes all things new.
He has a plan for our lives.

For 2013:  Hope, Health and a to possibilities!  Jeremiah 29:11

***Update:  The house did not sell at auction (where the starting bid was $210,000 - which was the appraised amount a year ago, but it was noted in the appraiser's report that the value may not reflect the actual value depending on the basement foundation issue.  Sad to see bank greed, but thankful the house did not sell at auction.  The bank must now take possession of the property.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Mother Earth News Fair 2013

WOW!  What a fabulous weekend at the 2013 Mother Earth News Fair in Puyallup.  Two days packed with awesome workshops, a broad range of vendors and wonderful people!

Because I focus on growing and Blaine on food (preservation, value-added products), we split up and made the most of the workshop offerings.

Saturday ~

WSDA Food Licensing ~ started off the weekend with a ton of information to take in.  Thankful there is a website and phone numbers available to ask questions once we have farmland to move forward. And, of course, the first thing you must do is figure out which government agency you need to be working with... 

Put 'Em Up!  The ways and whys of home food preservation ~ Blaine's first workshop.  Good overview of food preservation.  One important thing he learned ~ don't add extra ingredients or do substitutions, etc as recipes are designed for food safety when home canning.

Rebuilding a Local Puget Sound Food Economy ~ I was expecting something a little different than what was actually shared.  No disappointment though, as I discovered rebuilding a local food economy is much more involved than I would have ever thought!  The presenter was from Thurston County and shared that a strong effort was made in the last 70s and into the 80s.  The Agriculture production and marketing cooperative did have a strong impact, but it was purchased by Charlie's Produce in 1991 and became a private company.  We need to rebuild those types of organizations again throughout our region.  It takes time, talking, and lots of cooperation.

Yogurt:  Marvels and Making ~ Blaine's second workshop.  Homemade yogurt will soon be available at our house! 

Finding Good Farmland ~ This was a fast-paced, hold-on-to-your-hat presentation!  And, the workshop  had about 40+ people standing in the back too.  Ton of information and things to consider and questions to ask and much, much more...  

Click on the above photo for assessment forms in considering land for farming.
These forms are extremely helpful.  I have them printed out so Blaine and I can utilize them when we find land to consider for Joy Bell Farm.

Overview of Value-Added Processing (for Washington State) ~ Blaine's workshop, as my state workshop did, contained ALOT of information.  These were overview, introduction workshops with the realization we have so much to learn still. 

Growing Great Garlic ~ Blaine and I both attended this, as we thought we might learn something new. We didn't, but it was great confirmation that we're on the right track with our garlic.  Now to add perennial onions!  *Workshop link will take you to a recommended resource.

Sunday ~

Finding and Transferring Farmland ~ Lots of really great information shared in this workshop.  Sarah Wilcox from Washington FarmLink was the presenter.  I know of her from my volunteer work with Cascade Harvest Coalition (same office/organization).  Much food for thought and there are many ways to get onto farmland.  If one doors closes, open another!  As she said, it's all about finding those hidden carrot treasures.  Gotta dig for them, but someone knows where they are!

Farmstead Chef:  Organic eating on a dime ~ Blaine discovered in this workshop that we are headed in the right direction and we need to DO what we talk about!

Herbal and Critter Forage for Healthy Chickens ~ This was in insightful and interesting workshop for me.  I will definitely begin incorporating more herbs with our chickens.  Presented by a local chicken keeper and hosted by The Wolf College in Puyallup, she has not authored a book and doesn't have a blog to reference (so I linked the workshop title to a blog from Australia with good herb info).

Put "Em Up!  Make and preserve gastriqueGastrique is a thick sauce produced by a reduction of vinegar or wine, sugar, and usually fruit. It is often served over meat or seafood...  Blaine did end up buying her books.  Thank goodness they were 30% off just before the fair ended (or he would have not done so).  *He also got a quart sized jar box from a new company - Jar Box.  We'll let you know how he likes it.

Medicinal Bee Gardens ~ Marilene Richardson from Songcroft Naturals shared an informative, inspirational workshops about building a garden that blesses and strengthens bees health and your own!  I can hardly wait to start planting; adding to what I do have already... Please Lord, enable us to find farmland soon and very soon!

Primary Poultry Health Care ~ Blaine did cross over to the growing side for one workshop, as we plan to expand to an egg laying and meat bird operation once we have farmland.  It was a good overview for him and she was entertaining too!

Grassroots Bioremediation:  Tools to Heal the Earth ~ Very fast paced workshop crammed with information!  Microbes, plants, and mushrooms to help heal the soil. The workshop was inspiring and her book is likely a good resource for all who care about the planet we live on and how you can make a difference too.

Quick and Simple Cheeses ~ Back for Round 2 for Blaine.  From yogurt to cheeses.  I'm not sure he's going to leave the kitchen in his spare time anymore...

Sustainable Living Simplified ~ Our finale workshop together and so appropriate as it was presented by a couple who are living on the land together engaged in a lifestyle that we hope to fully embrace very soon!  Workshop was an overview of 2 of their books:  Rural Renaissance and ECOpreneuring.  While the goal is simplified living, there is a ton of work and creativity needed to get there!  We were inspired and it was the perfect way to end the 2013 Mother Earth News Fair for us.  

...and my treasure from the fair ~ a dandelion digger tool from Fisher Blacksmithing to add to my garden tools.  Tuli gifted me with the tool box that another local craftsman made for him.  Absolutely delighted!

In addition to 14 workshop stages and 6 hour-long sessions offered on Saturday and 5 hour-long sessions offered on Sunday, the vendor/exhibitors were numerous and covered a broad spectrum of interests! Education and goods all in the same place ~ plus a chicken show, herding dog demonstrations, and a number of other demonstrations taking place inside and outside. So much to see and do; so little time... Plus the people!  Such a variety of people that attend the fair.  It blesses my spirit to see people coming from all different walks of life and all different ages.  You cannot attend this fair and not be inspired! We have been so blessed by the Mother Earth News Fair and pray we are able to bless others through what we've learned...  And, it's another step closer to living our dream!

May the Lord bless you to be a blessing to others, as well.  Happy Monday!