hands on :: tye dye

Just in case you think that we farmwives ONLY knit or crochet, or spin, or dye wool with awesome homegrown plants…

I want you to understand that now and then, we let our freak flag fly.freak flag

My little sister is an ace tye-dyer.  She took time out to share the craft with us recently, and it was an absolute thrill to see these stained old duds get a new life – new color.

its a spring thing

When we went to bed the sky was clear. The setting moon illuminated the night and the air was balmy. We woke with a start before dawn with a thunder clap resounding through the sky. It rained all day and the wind had an edge to it. Now, its clear again, but frosty.

Oh Spring. What a ride.spring green

There’s so much to do that can’t be done yet. It was still too wet down in this hollow even before the rain. But all the birds, bees, squirrels and even a few butterflies say its time – time to work hard with joy, build a nest, grow some food. Everything quickens and we’re drawn into the whirling tide.

The projects that had to wait through the late cold spell either float up high on the urgent side of the to-do list, or lose relevance and drop away. We’ll fish them out of the depths for re-examination once this spring fever subsides, maybe.

While setting out seeds in little square soil blocks, my Fellow Man and I work out the final details of this year’s garden plan. What to keep. What to discard. Less herbs, more grains. Mulch more, tractor less. Work smarter, not harder.

Our income stream is diversified. We’re still adjusting. We still want to feed more people than ourselves and our extended family, and we do. The group is small, but we really like serving them. We like the relationship, the mutual appreciation. It feels good to keep the economic sphere involved in our homesteading life somehow, even if it is only effective at offsetting the cost of maintaining the garden. That’s fine, in fact, its a privilege.

Adjustments mean questions, such as…. Do we really need to grow one hundred or more tomato plants? One hundred peppers is definitely too many now, but it sure doesn’t hurt to have too many tomatoes. Well, it can be stressful, but its a good kind of stress, mostly, and if its a rough year, than isn’t it better to have a few too many than too few?

Then there are the varieties we grow, to tease apart and consider. How to maintain seed quality – an appropriate sample size. How to space them so that they don’t cross. Keeping them away from the corn so the ear worms don’t feast on both species.

There’s so much we want to do. Social impulses tug. Now that the ice is gone, I want to see my friends and visit in the sweet sunshine. But there’s a greenhouse to tend, chicks to order, and goats to contemplate, which will surely want our company just as much. New opportunities to teach yoga are sprouting like daffodils, giving my heart a thrill. I love to share yoga, but I don’t relish the idea of being away from home any more than I already am. Family, meals, house and garden would really be enough to tend. Maybe more than enough, considering this rocky soil and the state of the laundry pile.spring flowers

I haul my jumbled, tumbling mind out to the garden while the sun shines. The surest way through the spring whirlwind lies with a body in motion. The rake clears the dead overgrowth from the garden and my mind settles and focuses on the work at hand. Piles of dead grass mound up along the edges. What a joy, to see what made it through the winter emerging from the ground. My body will be sore, and my mind restored.

It is just so beautiful, to be overwhelmed by Springtime. The ground, opening with the warmth, frosting over, time and again. Flowers will bloom and fade and feed the forest floor. Some of our questions won’t be answered until Fall, when we see where our pantry stands and what the next winter brings. And some might not be answered at all but simply chosen in the moment. What is necessary becomes clear – that we should do this work. Raise this garden, these children. Tend this house and land, or at least keep trying. Breathe and move and help others do the same.

What else is this life for?

Spring tells the time.  Time will tell the rest.spring hawk

rain + snow = creativity

IMG_5454It’s such a pleasant surprise to wake up in the morning not expecting the world to be white, and to have your breath taken away upon glancing out the window. So it was this morning, when I awoke in the still quietness of the pre-dawn hours to a fresh blanket of snow. Even before the sun rises, there’s a certain glow of light that is unmistakable and unique only to a fresh coating of snow. When in the darkness, sleepy-eyed Ira came to join me by the morning’s fire, I didn’t say anything about the conditions outside. I wanted to see how long it would take him to notice.  About two seconds later he was bee-lining towards the deck and spluttering “what?… did it?… mama?… it snowed!!! oh, man, it’s sooo beautiful!!!” IMG_5452We’ve got to take full advantage of the snow when it falls here, rare and beautiful treat that it has become over the past several years. So little man Ira didn’t waste any time in making a snowman and pummeling Opal with snowballs. By midday, the snow only remained in the shadows and on north-facing slopes. The snowman was not so jolly anymore.IMG_5430Mostly, we’ve had rain lately. Lots and lots of rain. This past week we’ve watched the water in little stream that flows past our cabin rise several times. Up and down, up and down. The big creek, muddy raging torrent that it was, nearly spilled it’s banks. More than once. If all of that rain fell instead as snow, I might not have been able to open the front door! Alas, this is a normal southern Kentucky winter. Rain. Mud. Grey. But I’m not complaining. Oh, no. No complaints here.IMG_5433Because even when it’s raining outside, there is still much to do, both in the outdoor and indoor worlds that we occupy. Ira had a day of racing boats in the first rains and rising waters of the “branches”. He was wearing boots for a while, I promise. But when they were squelching more than he could handle, off they went for his much preferred bare feet. Brrrrr! But, hey, his feet got a good cleaning!IMG_5286 IMG_5290Opal does pretty good at keeping up with her big brother in the outdoor world. But then her artistic creative soul starts feeling hungry, and she finds her way back to the warmth and dryness of the house for her favored “soul-food”: making things. Opal can make anything beautiful. A wild tangle of yarn that had been floating around the house for months and that was driving me crazy, but I couldn’t bear to just throw away, found new life as woven belts. Or headbands. Or whatever part of your body you feel inclined to adorn. She even created her own make-shift loom out of a wooden box. (If you happen to receive one of these creations as a present from her in the coming weeks, shhhhh… don’t tell her that I told what she was making! I might get in big trouble!)IMG_5437 IMG_5293And in the throes of some pretty wild and creative indoor play-time with Ira and Opal, easy-going Olivia allowed herself (while still smiling, of course) to be attacked by the droves of “hungry birds” (aka clothespins) that were flying and screeching through the house. Oh, my. Yes, she is a rare bird herself. IMG_5296Rain or snow. Mud or ice. Wind or cold. Gloomy or grey. Bring it on. Smiles can brighten the darkest gloom and laughter can warm the deepest chills. We’ll take whatever winter weather comes our way, and we’ll do our best to enjoy it! Why not?IMG_5473