Thursday, July 9, 2015

Stay-cation 2015

Stay-cation- a vacation spent at home or nearby; a vacation that is spent enjoying all that home and one's home environs offer; a vacation spent at home involving day trips to local attractions.

It is totally a thing.

With our homestead growing each year, both in terms of animals and gardens to care for and our participation in shops, markets, and fairs, a stay-cation creates the perfect balance for us. When our family visits afar, I feel too worried about what might be falling apart at home to enjoy my time away. Then, too, I carry an inappropriate amount of guilt over the cost of EVERYTHING-whether it be the time away or the money spent. The time we spend lounging at a beach competes with the stalls that need mucking out, the goat fencing to be extended, and the gardens that need attention. The $18.99 I would love to spend on a new skirt weighs against the cost of 2x4's for fencing, cement for posts for the horse pasture, a bag of grain or 6 bales of hay. A skirt is gone without and we make do with what's had already. I don't mind (most of the time), but there are minutes in life when these little things add up and something has to give- just to maintain sanity. Sean knows me well and understands this balance. As I worried about all that needs doing, to help ease my mind, Sean reminded me of a principle explored in a Season 2 episode of The Waltons "The Honeymoon", which we watched together recently:

[Narration as John 'John Boy' Walton, Jr. reading from his journal] Growing up on Walton's Mountain during the Great Depression, we learned early to concentrate on the essentials of life. With many of the necessities so hard to come by, we had little money to squander on extravagances. But there came a time when my father decided another kind of survival was important and, to nourish the human spirit, it was necessary to indulge in extravagance.

Just as we empathize with episodes of The Little House on the Prairie where Ma and Pa fight against the elements to eek out a decent living for their family, watching The Walton's cash poor and family rich lives ring with echos of our own venture into building our modern day homestead with all its ups and downs. It may be summer- the time for traditional family adventures- but these homesteaders need to balance making family memories and caring for daily necessities.

When I remember where we started and compare where we are now, I am proud of the life we are building with good, honest sweat and hard work. Consider this, last year we cared for three CSA shares. This year, we support shares for six families. We doubled the size of our garden space this year and will increase it again before the year is out. Last year, we supplied four goat rentals. This year, we have increased that to eight goat rentals. We welcomed 11 healthy goat kids into our world this season. Last year, you could buy our soaps, massage melts and mosaic eggshell jewelry in Belfast, Searsport, and Brewer. As of last weekend, you can now find us in Camden, Maine at The Maine Gathering and in Bar Harbor at Eden Rising. There is so much still to do, but we have made a good start of it, a place from where we can grow.

As for making those family memories, homestead building projects took a back seat to spending time with our teenagers in spiritual activities and day trip adventures- on a budget that would make the Walton's proud of our thrift. Thursday night, Sean and I set up our booth at the Bucksport Bay Farmer's Market. It is fast becoming our favorite market. There may not be as many people wandering through the stalls, but those that are there, have come to support locally grown food and products. Return customers are becoming friends that we look forward to seeing.

Original pieces available at
The Maine Gathering
After milking in the morning on Friday, Sean and I headed to the Belfast Art Market. We were especially excited to be rolling out our latest product offering; mosaic eggshell Mother~Child Pendants, ready to be made on-site for those who were interested. We were so thankful at the positive reception from shoppers and happy to create FIVE custom pieces! And, we met Margaret Gallagher of The Maine Gathering, a shop in lovely, coastal Camden, Maine. By the end of our short visit, Margaret selected a nice assortment of jewelry pieces to stock in her shop. We ended Friday by driving to Augusta for some supplies and then, to Camden to meet up with friends from whom we were stealing their teenagers for the weekend for a visit. With four teenage girls in the house we anticipated much laughter, loud musical sing-a-longs, and lots of fun. We were not disappointed.

Our group woke early Saturday morning. Sean and I milked the goats while Meaghan and Sierra collected eggs from the coop and Kristen and Sammy fed Chloe her morning bottles of milk. After a home-made breakfast of French toast from our eggs, milk and farm-fresh bread smothered with their choice of blueberries, strawberries, or raspberries, we cleaned up and headed out to preach the word together for the morning. The plan was to spend a few hours in our ministry work followed by an afternoon day trip to the Bar Harbor area. The first stop was a picnic lunch at Bird's Acres in Ellsworth, followed by a hike to "Egg Rock" and "Queen's Chair". From there, we drove up the Loop Road to the summit of Mount Cadillac. Our next stop was to Eden Rising on Cottage St. in downtown Bar Harbor, Maine to deliver mosaic eggshell jewelry, goat's milk soaps, and 2 oz jars of massage melts. We finished the day sharing two $6.99 medium pizzas at Pizza Hut for dinner before coming home. Total cost for our trip= gas money and $18 dinner. Memories made= PRICELESS.

Mount Cadillac Cairns
I have visited with the rescued birds at Bird's Acres for many years. This poor guy is blind in one eye and cannot hunt for himself any longer. That makes me sad, but I am glad he has a safe place to live, warm from the elements, well care for. I have been inspired to create some new owl pieces recently, now I have a model for some new ones.

Views from the top of Mount Cadillac~ Bar Harbor, Maine
Fort Knox Labyrinth
On Sunday morning, Sean discovered that Priscilla's chicks were in the process of hatching. She did such a good job at brooding, that we left her to do her thing with hatching them- though we checked them from time to time. (More details about them further down. ♥) After morning chores, I baked our crew their choice of home-made muffins; blueberry, raspberry, coconut, and cinnamon before our meeting for worship. When we returned home, we had a light lunch together and then Sean left to mow his Daddy's lawn while I worked on making some new jewelry pieces and the girls visited together. After Sean got home, we drove over to Fort Knox to explore and play some hide-and-seek in the dark labyrinth of the fort until we all were ready to go home for some dinner. We stopped at Wilson's Corner Store for 1/2 kiddie cones on the way home. That's right. Half Kiddie Cons each. At Wilson's that means a generous 1 1/2 scoops of Hershey's ice cream- more than enough to savor. If you order the "Large", I strongly recommend bringing a large bowl with you. You'll need it! Total cost for our trip= $25. Tired Teenage Girls= PRICELESS.

Granite for Fort Knox was cut
from Mount Waldo's quarry.

We let the girls sleep in on Monday morning and I had hot home-made cinnamon buns waiting for them when they roused. Sean suggested we take Molly, a few of this year's goat kids, and all the girls to hike up Mount Waldo. It is a nice easy hike with fantastic views made even better with bouncing goat kids romping about the granite. Since this was to be the last day of our Stay~cation, Monday was a "Free Day" of activities with plans to end it with a double feature at the new Drive In in Bangor. Unfortunately that did not happen as we planned, due to some unforeseen issues. As a consolation, we rented Big Hero 6 and made another stop at Wilson's. Total cost for our adventures $12. Weekend Spent With Friends= PRICELESS.

I think John Walton would be proud. ;)
The hike begins. Chloe does not need a leash. She is quite happy to stay with her people.

Anna and Bo
Chloe was a natural at hiking with us. She enjoyed exploring and finding tidbits to nibble on. Anna and Bo were not convinced that this hiking business was fun... until they reached the granite blocks. Their feet knew what to do, even if their brains were stuck on crying for their herd. Within a few minutes, they settled down and began to explore. By the time we were ready to leave, the twins were enjoying themselves and able to walk with us without needing leashes.

If you think hiking with goats would be a fun experience for your family, drop us a message and we would be glad to tell you all about our program. :)

This week on the homestead brought us the birth of more babies. Priscilla did a bang up job of hatching her eggs in the rafters of the barn. All eight eggs hatched into fluffy balls of turkey chicks. Turkey chicks or poults are by far the most docile and friendliest of any of the birds on the farm. Guinea keets are sweet and can be handled easily.... for about the first week. Then, a switch flips in their bird brains and they become aware that they are prey animals. Attempts to hold and play with them become more of a game of capture the keet, which is no fun for anyone involved. It does not dissuade us from holding, petting and handling the keets to help "tame" them, but in our experience, it really is a mostly futile effort, producing guinea hens and cocks that tolerate humans when food is offered and running from them at all other times. Ducks are very similar in nature. Our ducklings happily follow us around for a couple months, but once they are introduced to the other ducks, it is all over for us. Their preference for their own kind becomes clear. Chickens and roosters are considerably better. Ours gladly come running to greet us, especially if treats are involved. They willingly hop up on shoulders or laps. But, turkey poults are by and far the most helpless and friendly of all the chicks. Of course, we don't eat our turkeys. Still, either they don't realize they are delicious prey or they just don't care that you know it, too. They sit calm and still when my hand reaches into the brooder, then trill in my hand softly until they fall asleep content with the knowledge that I have them and all is well in the world.

I love baby turkeys.

Thanks for visiting with us, friends. We're glad you're here.

Sean and Sonja ♥

No comments:

Post a Comment