Monday, December 31, 2012

In Light of the New Year

 As the days lengthen, we welcome more light into our lives and pause to reflect on the highlights of 2012.
Dancing in the New Year on Jan 1 with caller David Kaynor and music by Still, the Homegrown Band. Our first Saturday dances continue to be a delight for folks of all ages.
The first ever Big Little Kids Dance on February 4 was organized by Rachel Gall and was so successful that we had 4 more. We're looking forward to even more in 2013!
 Thanks to a designated donation, Motherhouse took our bread baking workshop "on the road" to Geer Retirement Village in memory of former resident, Nancy Griggs.
David & Donna Hersh came all the way back from PA to be part of our Feb 23 Family Cow Forum panel and report on their first year as cow keepers. Also at the forum, we met Sisters Carol Bernice and Emmanuel. Helping them bring cows to their Bluestone Farm has led to planning a “Farming & The Feminine” gathering for this March.
As part of our May 12 Wool Gathering, Joe Benete brought his sheep dog and 5 lambs to Local Farm to demonstrate shepherding. We ALL got to participate! This year, we'll be taking the workshop to Lakeville to visit Rhonda Jaack's flock.
Our June 19 PregnanCy Tea and New Moon Gathering in honor of expectant mom's Iris and Rachel, was a lovely gathering of mom's and children. This year we'll continue networking for mom's at our 10th anniversary family picnic on May 25 and of course, through honoring our cycles every New Moon.
Welcoming the Summer Solstice with a pot-luck campfire sing-a-long was so much fun that we've scheduled a repeat.
 Our second week-long Farm Camp adventure included visits to Chris Hopkins' Stonewall Dairy Farm, Ridgway's Family Farm, Debra Tyler's Local Farm, Ben Benjamin's cornlot and Dody Clarke's Strawberry Field. We're hoping to add-in an over-night at the end of this year's program.

Sunday lunch and meditation continues to be a highlight of my week and has grown to 7 regular attenders. Our Monday yoga class has begun learning beautiful vedic chants.

Many thanks to those who have contributed time and resources to make all our programs possible. 
May they all be blessed with the best in 2013!

Saturday, August 11, 2012

we CAN do!

For descriptions of canning procedures see our past blog reports HERE

If you go to, you will find all sorts of printable canning stuff including little invitations if you want to have a canning party! These are all free to be downloaded.
Miss Marie tells her "secrets" for raw chocolate cake:

8 raw organic dates (soaked but not necessary)
1/3 cup of organic raw cocoa powder
1 tsp vanilla extract
dash of sea salt
1 cup walnuts
add water to desired consistency (no more than 1/4 cup usually - but I do this by eye)

blend all ingredients in a food processor. make sure it mixes well. take small scoops of mix and create "cake balls" rolled in additional ingredients (I like to use coconut and/or chopped walnuts). refrigerate until cooled and enjoy.

if too much liquid is added, this also makes a yummy raw chocolate "mousse" - equally decidant. feel free to experiment!

Tal went home to MORE canning! She writes: " I finished 18 pints of salsa from the tomatoes I so generously got from my friends Nick and Linda. And look how many more tomatoes I have! More salsa to come tomorrow night and then some peach jam and chutney next week (to share with N&L)"

Here's the link for the USDA's Complete Guide to Home Canning from Kelli Wyatt says its the most comprehensive resource for canning.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Sticking Together

July 21,2012 preparing for adventure...
For this year's Jam Session, we made green apple pectin and ginger rhubarb jam with Brent Prindle. For his recipes, click on Jamming and scroll to our 2010 report.Tal Hadini-Pease led us in making blueberry-honey jam without sugar. According to reports from our participants, EVERYONE went home to pick fruit and make MORE jam! YUM!Our fearless guides through the Jamberry Jungle were:

Saturday, June 23, 2012

SOULStice Sing

After a veritable pot-luck feast, we shared a melodic pot-luck of song to celebrate the longest day of the year. Thank-you Richard Griggs for the fine fotos!

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Big n Small Fun 4 All

More'n 50 people frollicked in our June 9 Big Little Kids Dance under guidance of caller Tom Hanford.

Miss Marie's EGGS-perience

Miss Marie came to our workshop because she hopes to keep her own laying hens someday. She saw a variety of ways to house, feed and water chickens but chose not to participate in harvesting a broiler to take home. She wrote: I am glad I took your class, even if i could not take a chickens life, it gave me an appreciation for the process of obtaining meat that I had not had before. thank you for sharing that with me... and sent these beautiful photos of Local Farm

Saturday, May 12, 2012


May 12, 2012 - 32 gathered at Local Farm for a first hand experience handling sheep and their wool
Next, arrived 5 Sheep in a Jeep and their border collie friend, Joker
Shepherd Joe Benete and Joker demonstrated "working the flock" and gave us all a spin at herding wayward lambs.
Tal Hadani-Pease gave a New Twist to spinning our wheels and soon we were all turning out our own-made yarn.
WOOL EWE be my friend?
Click HERE for more photos.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Gardin' Guards

 We sanded...
and painted whirligig parts to vibrate the earth to deter moles and mice

...and learned about using ground eggshells to stymy slugs.
marigolds, tansy, and garlic to inhibit insect invaders,
urine, soap, human hair, and blood to discourage deer and ward off wabbits!
AND the watchful eye of a friendly scarecrow/garden goddess!

Friday, March 9, 2012

Bee Candy and Bee Tea Recipes

Many Thanks to Alton Earnhart for sharing the following directions:
I have been warned about offering syrup when it is still too cold, but am just sure they need whatever they can take in when it's warm enough. The bee candy is safer when still cold.

For 1 batch bee candy and one batch 2 qts., Bee tea.

I would offer the following tool list. Four or five quart pan with heavy bottom if possible, measuring cup, a candy thermometer, wisk, two cookie sheets, and parchment paper.

Have on hand 7lbs. Of white sugar, 1 bag chamomile tea, and if possible cider vinegar of good quality or skip this ingredient, dash salt.

1 pint white sugar = 1lb. In the USA, And 1pint H2O=1lb. The world around.

Make yourself a couple of cups of chamomile tea using the one tea bag, and put 4oz. Of the tea in your measuring cup. If you have an ounce of good quality cider vinegar like Braggs, add that to the measuring cup. To the tea and vinegar add 11 ozs. H2O (Should now be 1 pint or 16 ozs. of liquid) and pour into the pan. Add the dash of salt. Situate the candy thermometer so you can read it very accurately on the side of the saucepan. On a med. High heat bring the water to simmer and begin adding the sugar while stirring with the wisk. Allow to boil, with the goal being to dissolve the 5 pints of sugar into the liquid in the pan and bring this to 238 degrees F. No more or the candy is too hard, no less or the candy is too soft, but know this because you will want to learn for the next time to do better, depending on the accuracy of the thermometer. At reaching 238 degrees remove from heat while still constantly stirring, and allow to cool to 190 degrees, and then pour onto the parchment paper on the cookie sheets. I have the cookie sheets on cooling racks with parchment paper ready before starting.

Whether too hard, too soft or just right, determines mostly how you can handle easily or not so easily the candy placement directly over the frames in the top of the hive. The bees of course prefer you get it just right, but they can work the real world as well as you and I. I have made myself 1 1/2" thick hive spacers to place on top of the hives, (this allows the space for the candy, and if you can get ahold of tongue depressors or small sticks to put under the candy) above which I placed the inner cover, and I also placed an empty shallow super to feed bee tea when it gets a little warmer. Then I have a second inner cover over the shallow super, and 1 section of folded newspaper on top of that, and then the outer cover. I think you could get away without the second inner cover at the top, but even a piece of cardboard would help keep the cold metal top and warm inner air from dripping down.

So now you have a sticky saucepan and wisk, and 2lbs. Of sugar and maybe even a little tea left. Make the bee tea to have for mid to late ? May, maybe April this year? You can clean up the saucepan and wisk of the sticky candy left on them. You will make a 1:1 sugar to tea-water mix. That means the liquid portion will be 2 pints or 32ozs. If you haven't already drank the remaining 12ozs. Of tea from before, begin with that, if you drank it make some more as before, 1 bag for two cups. Add 20 ozs. Of water to the 12 ozs. Of chamomile tea. In the saucepan bring the liquid to a boil. If you have a tablespoon or two of thyme you can add that too. Reduce heat to a simmer. Add the 2lbs. Of sugar slowly enough to dissolve well.

All this requires about an hour and a half from the time you have assembled everything until done with making the bee tea. By the time you finish the bee tea the candy should have cooled enough to remove the parchment paper and candy from the cookie sheets and cooling racks so you can clean everything up and be done.
On March 8, Alton sent: "Here is the pix of the hive from this morning with the candy in the hive spacer I made"
lucky bees! Thank you Alton!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Serious Dough at Geer Village

Last summer, Nancy Berry attended our "Rolling in the Dough," Bread Baking workshop with her daughter-in-law, Erin. Nancy found kneading bread dough to be so soothing, she wanted to make that experience possible for the residents at Geer Retirement Village in Canaan, CT. So, she spoke with Geer's recreational director, Scott Zbell and with Motherhouse's Debra Tyler and on February 22, 2012, our workshop traveled to the "Country Kitchen" of Geer Village...

In loving memory of Nancy's mother,
Mrs. Nancy Griggs

First we looked at seed-heads of dried wheat plants and the small kernels of grain called wheat berries. Then, we ground some into flour. Our mill has an extra long handle so two people can work together to turn the crank. Here are Elizabeth and Debra grinding flour together.
Scott took a turn too!
After mixing the ingredients, we all kneaded the dough. Tal and Abi Pease had also been at last summer's workshop and came along for a refresher and to help.
After the dough was well mixed and kneaded to a smooth consistency, we set it to rise in a bowl coated with sesame oil. Abi carried the bottle of oil around so all the residents could smell its delicious nutty aroma.
When the dough had risen to "double-in-bulk," we "punched it down," let it rise a second time, then formed it into loaves. Tal brought pecans, cinnamon, sugar, raisins, and chocolate chips to roll into our loaves if we wanted.
Then we set our loaves aside to rise a third time.
We also made individual bread "sculptures." While waiting for the bread to rise, we talked about the nutritional benefits of home-made whole-grain bread and how to make butter.
A peek in the oven at our sculptures.
As the bread baked, the smell wafted throughout the building and we found ourselves greeting more and more people who had followed their noses to the door.
Finally!!! The moment we'd been waiting for!!!
Scott served tea and coffee, we sliced up a couple loaves to sample, and all the participants went home with their own sculpted dinner roll.
Thank you, Nancy!