Happy International Permaculture Day!

dandelion If you were unaware that today is International Permaculture Day, scoot on over to  www.permacultureday.org and check it out.  They are having 24 hours of permaculture related events, video broadcasts, interviews and more.

So, how are we celebrating?  We’re just doing what we do!  Planting is in full swing here in the Midwest.  We are having great weather for it, for the first time in a few years and the plants are loving it.

lilac

Did you notice the new look we’ve chosen for the blog?  We thought that International Permaculture Day would be appropriate for making some changes in our look.  We’ve also decided to change our name, . . . . just a little.  We’ve gone from ‘farm’ to ‘cottage’ which is more in keeping with what’s up around here these days.  We will still be planting plenty of food and selling or sharing our overabundance as usual.  We’re still raising our beloved chickens for eggs for those purposes as well.  As a matter of fact, we just added another 11 Buckeye chicks to our flock!  They are in the awkward teenager phase at the moment.  They are very friendly; hand-raised by a young man of about 12 years.  We bought them from him at an animal swap flea market a couple of weeks ago.

apple

What’s changed?  As I’ve mentioned before, we have decided after last year’s drought that we needed to make some drastic changes in our long-term plans for the land. We are busy planting trees and bushes, many of them fruiting varieties.  Every thing coming to live on our land, plant or animal must add something.  Plants need to add food, medicine, fiber, fuel or shelter.  Animals should add food, fertilizer or pollination.  Last year’s drought really brought home to us that even though we weren’t practicing the dreaded monocropping that strips life from the soil, we were not addressing the fact that land stripped of trees and brush adds to the dust-bowl problem.  Without trees and brush, the wind blew relentlessly across the sun-baked earth.  We had no shelter for pollinators and very few blooming things for them anyway.  Our gardens perished.  No matter how hard we worked, we simply could not salvage most of what we planted.  So we are busily adding fruit and shade trees, berry brambles, grape vines, and perennial vegetables.  We just finished seeding a 400 square foot wildflower meadow near the fruit trees.  We put in a handful of perennials around our little decorative pond.  We have plans to add a couple of dairy goats next spring.  We’ll enclose the old greenhouse and turn it into a goat shed.  I am inspired by Collette at Bealtaine Cottage and strive to do here what she is doing so well over in Ireland. We will keep adding in trees as money allows.  Which brings me to the next new thing going on around here, . . .

. . . finding more ways to bring money to the table from home.  Jason has grown specialty hot peppers from seed with an eye to creating hot sauces and rubs.  In the meantime, he grew a few more than he needed. (Don’t we always do that!)  He’s had success selling the excess as bedding plants.        So, we are working on adding in a greenhouse that can withstand the crazy winds around here!  The plan is to build a greenhouse out of discarded windows and heat it with a woodburning stove so that we can grow enough bedding plants next year to add to our cash flow.

pear

And that flows right into my (Lisa’s) new project.  I’m beginning a line of handcrafted dog and human soaps made with great ingredients from around the farm and things sourced locally from friends.  Xena will supervise the doggy line of soaps!  Hopefully next spring I’ll be adding a few soaps with our very own goat’s milk.  And the woodburning stove in the greenhouse?  It will supply ash to make the lye to make some of the soaps, . . . and the ‘farm feeds the farm’ (a lovely quote that I’ve shamelessly stolen from Celi over at The Kitchen’s Garden!  She’s an amazing storyteller–pop on over and check our her blog.  I promise you’ll be hooked!)

grimpounce

These are the reasons that we’ve made the decision to change our name from ‘farm’ to ‘cottage’.  We’re going to continue to brainstorm ideas for becoming more of our own self-contained ‘cottage-industry’ business and it just makes sense for everything we churn out to have a common name.  I am busy working on a logo that will represent us well in all of our endeavors.  Watch for it–coming soon!

centaura

In a nutshell, and since it’s International Permaculture Day, we’ve grown very weary of contributing to a culture that is NOT permanent.  Every new step that we take will be taken purposefully to move in a direction of sustainability; not only with the land, but also with the ways that we make our livings, the way that we entertain ourselves, and the products that we choose to purchase.  While it may take us a while to get there in this economy, we will take little baby steps as we are able.  We believe that having the basic necessities of life; good quality clothing, healthy fresh food, a reasonable roof over your head and basic contentment should not be something only the wealthy have access to.

pink

I’ll end with a favorite movie quote from War Games.  Remember at the end when the computer is cracking the launch code and playing out all the different possible scenarios for nuclear war?  And just as he finds the last digit in the sequence, he figures it out–“the only winning move is not to play”.

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