Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Where I am now

There have been long discussions and much thought about what I and Alex wanted to get out of my experience here out west. I think it has turned out to be a much different experience than I had anticipated. I expected to still be on a farm by now and preparing for a bountiful yet exhausting harvest. I expected weekly trips to sell at the farmer's market and to have lovely get togethers, barter parties, and harvest festivals. So, I would be lying if I said I wasn't a little disappointed by the way things have turned out.

However, despite what happened at Westwind Farm I am thankful that I've had the experiences that I've had. I learned so much about how to deal with difficult interpersonal situations and confirmed that I can stand up for myself no matter how nerve wracking it may seem at the time. I have also learned that if I leap, the safety net will appear. I've learned to trust myself and know that no matter what happens I can make the best of a situation.

Being at Sidhehaven, has given me a chance to reflect and become more centered. I've also been able to learn more about plants and permaculture and I've gotten to build something--all things I wanted to accomplish. Then there are things like fermenting foods and making bagels that I didn't expect to learn. I'm thankful for all of these experiences, even if they weren't what I expected. Yet, ultimately, I think I've learned what I can learn here.

Because it's near the end of the growing season I don't think Alex and I will be going to another farm and since we feel our time at Sidhehaven is up we are planning to head home. Minnesota has been calling--it was a faint but persistant call. We need to come home, recharge, regroup, and figure out what our next step will be.

I will miss a lot of things about the West coast and our experiences here, and there's no guarantee that we wont be back, but we're looking forward to our trip home. Well, maybe not the long road trip itself but definitely looking forward to being in Minnesota again.

In the meantime, there will still be a little more from this blog, so continue to check it out!

Building Project: Done!

There's a heat wave that's hitting us here in Washington and it's unbearable to be outside. I was going to finish the bench project yesterday night but it didn't cool off until after dark and I figured handling power tools in the dark is probably not a good idea! So I got up early this morning and went to work, determined to get the bench done today.

Here some pictures of the process:

The bottom and the sides

Attaching the diagonal support for the sides

Alex helpin' me out

It took about three hours to assemble after all the pieces were assembled together. I got to use a table saw, drill, power screw driver, chop saw and my brute strength and creativity.

There were some minor hiccups (i.e., the top piece ended up being shorter than the width of the bench) but that's to be expected since this is my first solo building project and I didn't really know what to watch out for and how to troubleshoot some issues.

But ultimately, I'm really proud and excited to say that I built something useful! And it will be something that stays behind. It will be my legacy at Sidhehaven. Without further ado here are the before and after pictures of the bench spot:



The best part about this bench is that most of it was built from salvaged wood--only the top and the two inserts are new pieces of wood. Using salvaged materials is, as I've learned here, a permaculture principle but it does present a challenge in building. This is perhaps why there were problems with how pieces fit together and why I wasn't 100% satified with my work. However (and this is a big "however") I must remember that this is my first building project and keeping that in mind it turned out wonderfully.

And Sherry liked it! Yay!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Building project: Step 1, planning

Today I decided to start my bench building project in earnest. I'm trying to construct a bench to be used inside as both a sitting and storage area. It will be 15 to 15 1/2 inches tall, about 30 inches or a little over 2 feet deep (from the wall), and about 6 feet long. And I'm trying to construct most of this out of salvaged wood around the property!

My plans thus far.

This seems like quite a task especially since this is my first big building project and I haven't really done any wood working since middle school, but I feel confident in my abilities. So far I have figured out how I want to do the sides of the bench, using some cedar wood planks that I've found (see below: the pile of leaning wood on the right).

I drew out two possibilities for building the sides, which will be 3 pieces of the cedar planks placed side by side. I will need to nail a board across to hold them together--and I could either nail two horizontally across or one diagonally across.

Once I drew out the mock diagrams of each possibility, I realized that I needed to figure out the measurement of the theoretical diagonal board. Suddenly memorizes of geometry flooded my brain--I was staring at a real life math problem. I had to find the hypotenuse!

Below is a picture of my diagrams and my (sucessful!) calculations:

I have to say, though they may be small, I'm proud of my accomplishments today. I look forward to doing more on the bench, as soon as I learn to use the power tools here of course (hehehe).

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Here's a few "thousand words"

I have now taken more pictures, finally. I'm sure my stories are fun but pictures are worth...well, you know.

Here's the promised pictures of bagels (I made the ones on the top and Alex made the ones on
the bottom):

I also got some good shots of the chickens here--there are 4 chickens and 1 fluffy (and largely
ornamental--he's smaller than the hens...if you catch my meaning) rooster.

They are named but Sherry would have to remind me of their names.

Today we gave them some old cherries and they were super happy. Looking forward to seeing
how many eggs we get tomorrow. Today we got 4 and that's a really good day :)

The chickens aren't the only ones that get to snack on yummy, fresh, (very) local produce. If you
get hungry at Sidhehaven you can either eat some cherries (from a friend's tree), snap peas (straight off the vine), or wild blackberries (they taste a bit like cotton candy when they're really

All in all, we are enjoying our time here: we're learning how identify a lot of plants, how to take care of chickens, and getting fed really well. The major perk is that we have plenty of free time to
read, explore parts beyond the land we're on (especially now that my car's fixed--minor glitch), and basically soak up the leisure time. Who knows when we'll get another care free summer like this. It's almost like I'm back in high school! Except that I'm way more mature and way way wiser than I was back then, of course :)

Today, Alex and I took a walk on some trails in the watershed park near Olympia and, while we got a number of really beautiful pictures, the prize jewels of the pictures (in my humble opinion) were these ones of mushrooms that Alex and I found (This was our first wild mushroom find out here so we're super stoked about it, but we're still trying to figure out
what they are--if you can help, let us know).

Alex took this one:
Happy July 16th! Congrats to Mississippi Market Co-op on their new store opening and happy birthday to my (not-quite-so) little brother!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Quick Check-In

Things have a different pace here at Sidhehaven, yet somehow I've managed to post less here than I was at Westwind.

I've been learning a lot about the principles of permaculture but I'm still trying to find a way to articulate it in the simplest terms. In short, it's an eco-friendly way of life. I'm enjoying the new things that I'm learning although most of the time my brain feels like it's about to explode with everything I'm adding to it.

Alex and I have learned to make bagels--I'm going to post pictures as soon as my computer is up and running (luckily one of the guys here used to be a network administrator). We are now making a batch basically every other day. Yum!

Yesterday I decided to dust off my bike and give her a spin, after not really riding for about a year. I over did it I think. I rode for 2.5 miles to a little town down the road called Yelm. By the time I got there I was extremely dizzy and shaky. Doesn't help that I forgot to bring water. So I stopped at the very tiny co-op there and got some water, cinnamon roasted nut mix, and seaweed rice chips. That and some deep breaths and I was well on my way to recovery. Biking back took a lot out of me too. I literally stumbled through the door when I got bag. Suffice to say, I'm out of shape. But hopefully there will be more biking in the very near future because I forgot how great it was. Having a car really makes you lazy!

Ooo, and I'm also learning to make kimchi! Pictures of the final product forth coming!

Things I'm looking forward to:

*Planting kholrabi and kale from seed
*Experimenting with seed pods from the arugula plants on the premises
*Building a bench
*More bike rides
*Hearing about the new Mississippi Market store opening!
*The new Harry Potter movie!!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Latest projects and other stuff

It's been a week since my last post basically because I've been getting settled in and getting into some good books. Currently I'm reading three books: Food Not Lawns (awesome and easy to read), The Revolution Will Not be Microwaved (full of great and sometimes disheartening food history/facts; written by the guy that wrote Wild Fermentation), The Tao of Abundance (Really cool--I'm learning more about Taoism and it's groovy).

Today Alex and I (mostly her, though) decided to make cauliflower pasta and homemade Italian bread...yum!
We also made a deliciously colorful salad with lots of edible flowers from the kitchen garden (I was only able to identify these lovely delicacy after I did the plant identification assignment that Sherry gave us yesterday).

Salad contains: spring mix, pansies, nasturtiums, rose petals, arugula blossoms, and calendula petals

So far we have identified 60 plants (not sure if they're all correct yet) and that's only about 1/3 of the plants that are on this property! I took some pictures of the ones that I just learned to identify today...yay! We also had to identify whether they were edible and/or medicinal.

German Chamomile (Medicinal)

Nasturtium (Edible)

Calendula flower (Edible/Medicinal)--there was an orange and yellow variety.

Then there were those that we couldn't identify--one which Sherry later identified for me--but are beautiful nonetheless and I had to take a picture of them.

All I know about this one is it's not edible.

Dahlia, also not edible
(enlarge and notice the white spider near the center of the flower and the dew drop on the bud to the left)

Alright, I'll stop inundating you with flower pictures but I could continue. Though, they do give you a sense of the beauty that we are surrounded by when we're working in the garden. Everything here is planted with permaculture principles in mind which is also very groovy. Permaculture has been something I've been interested in learning about for a while and it seems we've come to the right place for that. I promise that I'll post more pictures of the overall garden and meditation spaces next time; I just want you to soak up the pictures I've already posted first.

I'll leave you with an adorable picture of one of the cats, Amber, being held by

Monday, June 29, 2009

A safe place

If I didn't already believe in the power of manifestation, I would after coming to Sidhehaven. Alex and I didn't know where we were going to go after our dramatic exit from Westwind Farm. Fortunately the universe saw fit to provide us with a safe place, which is all we really could think about after our previous experience.

When we got here I immediately felt the difference and I felt safe without really needing to be told I was safe (but I was told). We participated in, what Sherry (Sidhehaven proprietor) called 'Circle', which basically ended being a group therapy session and an incredibly healing afternoon.

We've been invited to stay here but we're doing a trial run for a week to make sure that it's somewhere where we actually want to be and that we mesh well with the community here. I don't know how this will go but at least we have a place to be and reflect on what we want to do next. If it's staying here, then great; if not, at least we have time to figure it out and we have people here who are willing counselors and guides.