It’s been awhile…

Something’s always happening on the farm!  It’s such a creative place to be.  While family was visiting a few months ago, we got a solar dehydrator built by our friend Matt.  It’s been something i’ve wanted for awhile, so i was so excited that he tackled this projectDSC_0091!  DSC_0089o

I have been using it to dry all my herbs for teas, tinctures and salves, and we’re experimenting with drying bananas and poha berries (ground cherries).  It’s so wonderful to have so much space, since before i was using my oven! DSC_0106 DSC_0110

We spent a couple of months early in the year redesigning our central garden area.  After some research i decided that cinder blocks would be best for raised beds…they stand up the best to our wet weather here, and they are pretty cost effective.  So now we are doing our spring planting and it has been so fun!  We’ve got lots of green beans, cherry tomatoes and herbs…Young plants that are growing are cucumbers, tomatillos, cherokee purple tomatoes, watermelon, turmeric and ginger.  We are excited for the harvest!

DSC_0006DSC_0188I’m loving all our herbs…i’m just finding more and more to do with them, and drinking tea made with mamaki, tulsi basil, lemongrass and hibiscus has kept me well through a few colds that were going around!  Also, having culinary herbs right by our kitchen steps has been lovely.  Basil, thyme, oregano, parsley, cilantro, etc.  All just perfect editions to every meal!

And how can i not include our new little chicks?  We have had them for only 4 days now, and are raising them up to be our new flock of egg layers.  The group includes barred rock, black sex link, gold sex link, rhode island reds, white leghorn, and 2 buff orpington roosters…we are giving them lots of love, and they are giving us hours of entertainment!  DSC_0102

We are also due to have one goat give birth in about a week…We are nervous and excited!  We’ve been keeping our goats milking for a long time now, and we’ve come to depend on our fresh goat milk for our health and enjoyment.  We love our goats!

So we are keeping busy as always, and enjoying farm life.  More updates to come on some other projects we’ve been working on!

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Creating Balance

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Ginger cleaned and ready to eat!

There’s never enough time in a day, right?  It seems I always have a list of things to do, and even if I complete some of them, I obsess over the things I didn’t complete as I’m lying in bed at night.  At this time of life, with homeschooled kids, farm animals and pets, gardens in a year round growing environment, extra curricular activities and more, it can seem overwhelming at times.  But, it doesn’t have to.  Because I am trying to focus on creating balance.  Taking more time to relax, and enjoy each moment.  It seems so simple, but actually getting in the habit of noticing the special moments that are happening all the time can be difficult.  Sometimes it’s easier to focus on what’s going wrong instead of what’s going right!  (The phone’s not working, our not water heater is broken, etc)  But really, I have so many blessings in my life!  The beautiful weather, my wonderful family, and the peace that I get from being outside in nature.   This is where I find I get back to my center, when I take time to get outside and get my hands in the dirt.  I love growing things, tending plants, and feeling the elements of nature upon me, whether it’s sun, rain or wind.  Life is short, as everyone says.  So I will do my best to be grateful and hopeful that the difficult times will pass quickly and I’ll be able to focus on the good to create a wonderful balance in my life!

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Beautiful ginger growing out of the earth!

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Bits and Pieces

Once again, it’s been awhile since i’ve made a post.  It’s too easy to lose track of time living in Hawaii!  I’m starting to get more of a grip on the seasons after living here for 10 years, but still….just the other day i thought we were in the month of March!

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So as usual, a lot has been happening since January.  A big one is we have 4 new baby goats!  They are adorable and fun.  We love cuddling them and laughing at their hilarious antics.  Sadly we will not be keeping any of them, but they will be will be going to a farm nearby in about a month.  What we are excited about is the milk we will soon have!  We love making buttermilk, keifer, and cheese!  Oh how we miss our cheese.  It is so delicious and simple.  We just add some garlic chives and basil with a little sea salt, and it tastes divine!  I’m also excited to make goat milk soap for the first time.  I’ve been wanting to try for quite some time, and I’m finally going to make it happen!

Our 3 boys have been loving the baby goats.  We spend so much time with them, and Grandma was here visiting from Maine and got to enjoy them as well!  Since we homeschool/unschool, the kids are free to play for hours in the goat area.  DSC_0131Our oldest, who is 9, doesn’t just play with them, but cares for them so well!  He wakes up most mornings at 6am to help his dad feed and milk the goats, and clean out their barn.  He knows exactly how to care for them.  He gives them all the supplements they need, trims their hooves, checks their eyes for anemia, etc.  It’s not just a chore for him, but something he loves to do!  This is our method when it comes to schooling.  We don’t want to force any lessons, just encourage their passions.  The simple idea is that when you’re excited about something, you learn and retain the information so much better than learning it by rote.  We spend time learning through games, conversation, hands-on projects, etc.  It’s amazing to watch how much they learn naturally, without sitting down to a structured lesson!  So each moment we are available to teach our kids.  Both Mom and Dad are nearby almost always to interact with and support our children.  Just by treating them like our equals we have found that they thrive and learn and enjoy life!

And continuing on with the farming update, Zeoc has been focusing on building rock wallsDSC_0111 all over the place!  Our friend is a very talented rock wall builder, so once a week he comes by to help add these beautiful additions to our farm.  Zeoc has spent hours digging out rocks from all over the farm and lugging them to the various building sites.  It’s an exciting project, and really is making the farm a truly unique place!  DSC_0098

I’ve been working on the central garden again.  Spring time is calling me to plant, plant, plant!  I have a nice spot behind the house to make starts which i can baby, then when they are big enough i can transplant to the garden.  So far we have enjoyed a great green bean harvest (contender beans are the best!), yummy lettuce, swiss chard, kale, and arugula, cucumbers, and lots of herbs!  Now we are waiting on the edemame, more green beans, corn, and more.  I’ll be starting carrots soon, and have lots more things starting behind the house. ( tomatoes, tomatillos, watermelon, more cucs, edemame, corn, basil, parsley, etc)  I just love being in the garden, planting seeds, turning compost, and just tending the earth!  It’s the most enjoyable thing to harvest your own veggies after caring for those tender plants for so long.  I learn more each time i plant and am excited to see more success in the garden.  There are so many parallels to life lessons when working the land.  It’s a rewarding experience no matter how successful the harvest!  DSC_0097

We’ve had some great work traders visiting for periods of time this winter/spring.  We appreciate the help and some become life long friends!  At present we have 3 other people living on the farm, but at times we have had many more!  Inviting people to live and share on the farm with us is such a learning experience.  It creates such an atmosphere for growth when living so closely with others in your day to day life!  We love having friends return to see all the changes that are constantly being made around here.  We put so much time and effort into creating a beautiful, natural place to call our home.  We love when people appreciate it as much as we do!

So between teaching and raising the kids, caring for the animals, tending the gardens, teaching the new work traders, doing regular maintenance of the place, clearing and weeding the jungle, and just taking breaks to enjoy our life, we don’t really find much time to be bored!  There’s always something to be done around here, and we (usually!) appreciate the work!

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Beautiful Winter Days

We recently returned from a 2 1/2 week trip to Maine.  We were able to spend the holidays with family and friends, and my 3 boys were able to experience playing in the snow for the first time!  We had a lovely time and created precious memories.  It was cold and cozy, and so festive!  Our travel back to Maui was long and exhausting…We just barely missed a big east coast storm, and thankfully flights were held for us and we made it home on schedule.  But traveling in the winter is hard!  I was raised in Maine, but couldn’t handle driving in the snow on this visit.  I was in awe of people living on the east coast, and how tough they are to handle such a long, hard winter.

And then we woke up on Maui….and the sun is shining, the birds are singing, and the weather is mild and lovely.  We are enjoying the ease of running outside barefoot, picking lettuce from the garden, and taking a trip to the beach when we feel like it.  And my oldest boy is working on convincing his grandparents from Maine to move to Maui!  There are of course trials that come with living anywhere, it just seems that here there are so much fewer weather woes!

So i visited our central garden right away when we arrived home and saw it covered in 2 foot tall weeds.  But i was still able to harvest green beans and kale, and we have basil bushes everywhere.  But i have started more seeds, so that in a month we will be transplanting again.  I have two lettuce beds that are doing amazing.  Two different types of romaine that are loving the cooler winter weather.  Usually lettuce bolts before we can enjoy it at all, but right now we have lots of lovely lettuce to enjoy!   We also just harvested a good bed of carrots that are tasty and fun for the boys.  I’m so excited to be in the garden weeding and getting ready for another planting.  It really never ends here, the cycles of planting, growing, harvesting, weeding, etc.   Sometimes it’s overwhelming, because there’s never a rest…But these winter days are lovely, with a slight chill in the air and the sun shining down…It inspires us to want to be outside all the time!

Sugar cane flowering

Sugar cane flowering

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Goodbye Summer, Hello Autumn!

Summer in the garden was really great.  We spent a lot of time weeding and harvesting.
I planted a lot of flowers this year, so me and the boys had great fun picking zinnias, marigolds and cosmos to make into arrangements for the house.

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We’re still enjoying the abundance of flowers, and i’ve had to cut back the marigolds because they grew so tall as to cover all my collards and kale!

We harvested lots of green beans, tomatillos, and are continuing to harvest greens and herbs.  My eggplants did pretty well after i helped them out with compost tea, but now the plants are dying.  We were able to harvest a good number of eggplant though, enough to wonder what to do with them all after awhile!  DSC_0276

Now we have quite a few empty beds, and have started some more seeds for our winter planting.  It’s already started raining more every day, so we’ll try to keep it simple in the garden, with some more kale, winter romaine, green beans, cilantro, parsley and calendula.

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Yacon

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Tumeric

We are beginning to harvest our yacon, which is a South American tuber that is watery and slightly sweet, and is eaten raw.  We grow ALOT of it, and now we have alot to harvest!  We will also be harvesting a good sized bed of tumeric soon, which grows well in this climate also.  Another plant that i’ve been enjoying this summer is zinger hibiscus, or Red Thai Roselle.  It’s a pretty plant, and makes a lot of flowers that i can harvest and dry for tea.

Zinger Hibiscus

Zinger Hibiscus

There’s always something growing here, even if it’s not the typical mainland veggies.  I’m learning to enjoy the tropical food that doesn’t take as much work to thrive here, and i’m also realizing how amazingly healthful all these foods are!

Now the garden needs a lot of weeding, with all the rain we’ve been having.  I’ve mulched our empty beds, and will be replanting in a few weeks.  The cycle never ends here, we won’t get a winter break!  But we’ll continue to enjoy fresh food from our garden year round.  What a sweet thing.  DSC_0634

 

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Garden Update

DSC_0114It’s been a busy few months in the garden, and I’ve really been enjoying it.  There’s always so much to do, and I started at the beginning…First, making LOTS of starts.  It’s easier for me to start everything this way, rather than sowing straight into the beds, because i can monitor them more closely.  (birds, weather, soil conditions, etc)  Then, as the young starts got big enough to transplant, I had to prepare the beds…This involved lots of weeding, turning the soil, digging out rocks, sifting compost, and mulching.  So much love and energy goes into making food!

Now the plants are growing, some better than others, buDSC_0146DSC_0136t I’m trying to give them everything they need to thrive.  The tomatillos and green beans are doing amazing, growing at lightening speed, but the eggplants i started from seed are not doing very well.  So i amended the soil with more compost and added some compost/comfrey tea as well…And we’ll wait and see how they do!  

There’s so much growing in the garden now.  I think it’s going to be an abundant summer!

And now some pictures of the hard labor going into the garden…

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Sifting soil with Asher on my back!

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Zeoc taking a (short!) break with the boys.

The green green central valley garden.

The green green central valley garden.

 

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Micah took this picture of me sifting compost!

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Harvesting Herbs For Tea

 

Now that the days are getting hotter, I try to always have some cold herbal tea in the fridge.  Mmm, I do love harvesting from the farm to make these delicious teas.
I usually make it a little different each time, but the basics I like to add are:

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DSC_0026DSC_0025lemongrass or lemon balm,

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

DSC_0033and gotu kola.

 

 

 

 

I also sometimes add ginger, tumeric, passionflower and catnip.  It always tastes even better with some sweetener, either honey or sugar cane juice (which we harvest and juice ourselves!).  The simple pleasures of life, collecting such fine herbs for the health of our family.

I’ve been reading some of Rosemary Gladstar’s books again, and she is so inspiring when it comes to using herbs for health.  There are so many healthful plants growing all around us, all we have to do is become informed and make good use of them!  What many consider weeds have the greatest healing power.  I love these plants that don’t take a lot of care, because with 3 young children and a lot of farm responsibilities, I am grateful to always have plants growing that I don’t have to manage or care for.  We are learning to enjoy these plants that only need a little nurturing from the sun and rain, and nothing more!

 

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