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homestead happenings: full steam

2011 August 31
by Rachel Turiel

We laugh about this story now, Julia and I. How her toddler son tumbled into a swimming pool, sank like a stone, was rescued immediately by at least 3 fully clothed adults, all while Julia raced around the perimeter of the pool shouting and waving her arms (even after Cedar was fine). Not so helpful, Julia describes it.

This is how I feel from time to time; like er, now. Like I’m running around the edge of my life waving my hands and panicking about all my stones sinking to the bottom when really everything is fine.

It’s like I’m propping up this door, throwing my weight against it while an avalanche of chokecherries and acorns press in. And also there’s the 16# box of peaches in my bedroom, all slated to ripen tomorrow; the basil is flowering; Dan’s packing for an elk hunt explaining how he’d like to take all the eggs in the fridge, while Col is telling me—nascent homeschooling mother—“I don’t want to do any writing. It’s my body and I don’t have to.” There’s 8 boxes of books to sort through that my friend Regina passed onto me from her homeschooling days (Rose is currently reading the book on medieval battle, muttering theatrically to herself: And den he said, I’m not going to be your best friend anymore! There’s the small flock of fall seedlings popping thirstily in the greenhouse, and the sour pickles are a scummy flop oozing stink on our front porch.

But honestly, everything is fine. It’s just a very, very busy time.

On the homestead:

We had our first homeschool co-op meeting at the park. The parents sat around with notebooks and calendars creating schedules and study topics while the kids tried to create a human ladder to reach the fruit on the apple tree, which seemed a portent of good things.

And it all feels a little wildly and wonderfully subversive: riding bikes to the park in the middle of a “school day,” creating our own curriculum, which includes “ancestral ways” as an entire 4-week topic. I am so excited to learn, I mean teach, I mean learn, I mean, chop 16 pounds of peaches.

~the parents, and baby Jonathan~

~the kids~

Last Monday the co-op kids met at our house where we made our own plant dyes with chokecherry, acorn shells, rabbitbrush and mint. These kids are such children of hippies, when they talk about plants they’re all, “yeah, my dad digs osha root with an antler…and we like to grow our own carrots because we don’t like the taste of pesticides.”

They decided that they would like to be president some day and stop war because “it’s really bad and mean” and then they all made a “poison” out of mud, sunflower petals and gravel to feed to Rosie when she got home from preschool.

~work camp: chopping mint leaves and straining rabbit brush~

~fabric in: chokecherry, rabbit brush, acorns and mint~

~fabric out: I think we’ll make prayer flags out of these~

Also, Col gets to go to public school 2 days/week through a partnership between the public school system and the local home-schoolers. He’s in a classroom with 31 other homeschooling kids, kindergarten through 5th grade. His first day was yesterday and he came home thrilled because he sat next to an older boy in the cafeteria who taught him that with one dime and one nickel you could buy milk. He’s already got his 15 cents for Thursday (the jury’s still out on whether this is going to lead to a discussion on gnarly, feed lot dairy or if the boy will just get to enjoy his non-organic, homogenized milk).

I’ve been giving some plant identification walks, which have been super fun and I think my kids are finally seeing me as useful beyond milk boobs and nightly lullabies.

~that’s Rose in the princess dress, always thinking practical~ 

Rose puts down her hula hoop only to eat and sleep, and is totally ready for the next musical touring phenomenon (I’m assuming she missed the Phish boat).

~Rose and I wore matching fluffy, lacy pink skirts to the circus wedding, which I sewed 2 hours before the event~

We had a wonderful, wedding filled weekend. My friend Kati married her beloved with her 3-year old son (barefoot, in batman outfit with undies on the outside) standing at the alter with them. It was gorgeous in the most real-life, real-love sort of way.

And at the circus wedding, the bride had deer antlers on her head and the groom a bone through his nose. Col and Rose were like, ho hum.

Some photos from the vintage circus wedding:

*** ** *** ** *** ** *** ** ***

On his way to lock the chickens in for the night, Dan always manages a few practice shots (not at the chickens, although our two 3-year old hens seem to have stopped laying, which might mean soup-pot if anyone can actually bear to kill and eat Emily and Little Buddy).

Everyday we’re harvesting something; it’s almost obscene, the amount of produce rolling in. If you’re looking for us, we’re home gnawing on carrots and thinking up new uses for zucchini.

Incidentally, we did come up with a new use for zucchini! Slicing strips with a vegetable peeler! Totally appropriate kid-job, and so silky and thin and melty. We’ve sunk the strips in pasta and tucked soft cheese inside the peelings.

~sorry for the weird coloring, I just love Col’s face in this photo, he looks like such a Turiel~

And in old zucchini methods, this: Layer in a casserole dish: mashed potatoes mixed with chopped chives and dill. Next layer cubed and roasted zucchini. Top layer: melted cheese. Side dishes: steamed chard and salad (lettuce is back in the garden!)

This is Sage, he’s the apiarist on the homestead, I’m just the bumbling apprentice who keeps getting stung.

~I think Rose likes the head net as some sort of fashion accessory~

*** ** *** ** *** ** *** ** *** ** ***

How’s your harvest coming?

Off to chop peaches, mash chokecherries, blend pesto, sort books, and love on children…



22 Responses leave one →
  1. August 31, 2011

    Whew, sounds exhausting. I think you should take your box of peaches and go spend a few weeks at Glenwood Springs, till things calm down a little. The homeschool/public school combo sounds neat. Can’t wait to hear how that goes. But wait! Why does Rosie have to go to preschool when Col gets to stay home?

    • 6512 and growing permalink
      September 1, 2011


      Re: why Rosie “has” to go to preschool.

      1) I need to work 2) I need time away from my kids and they from me 3) Rose loves her sweet Montessori preschool and is thriving there (3 mornings/week) 4) I’m not down on school at all. What I don’t like is how when a child turns 5, they are expected to spend the majority of their waking hours at one place, inside most of the day. I am grateful that Col has the opportunity to go to a free, public school 2 days a week, but any more than that feels like too much. He still naps often and thrives off of “downtime” at home with no one scripting his time (as we all do).


  2. Kathy permalink
    August 31, 2011

    What an amazing life you lead, a peek into an alter-ego reality.
    Col’s face is maturing.
    You are sharing with the other children experiences they would never get in school, yet…
    How amazing there is a public school class for home educated children. What will they learn?
    What an idea that never would have arisen in the pioneer days. We were all such puritanical separatists.
    Wish I could be in your school!

  3. Christy permalink
    August 31, 2011

    Sorry to hear the sour pickles are a flop. My first batch didn’t make, but my second batch did. (I changed recipes.) Wow, you are one busy mama! I am feeling totally overwhelmed this morning with a to-do list, so what am I doing? Drinking coffee and playing on-line. I justify this by considering it mental preperation for the day ahead. We are still up to our eyebrows in okra, but the cucumbers have finally stopped. (Oops, did I say that with a hint of glee because I am tired of processing cucumbers?)

    Also, what do chokecherries taste like?

    • 6512 and growing permalink
      August 31, 2011

      Chokecherries taste sweet with a hint of cotton balls inserted between lips and gums (astringent). Cooked and with added honey they are layered like a fine wine: first sweet, then spiced, then nutty, then grassy. Will you share your sour-pickles-that-worked recipe?

  4. August 31, 2011

    We came home from vacation to a garden so full and heavy – made me think of labor and birth. Last night after the kiddos went to bed I got to work. Other than the ocean I was just swimming in there’s not much as great as an entire countertop full of stuff we’ve grown and now get to eat. Good stuff!

    Given all the organic booty in my kitchen right now that I’m staring at and wondering how and when I’ll get around to preparing it, I can only imagine how swamped you must feel.

    I’m loving following along on this new home-schooling journey your all on. Brilliant!

  5. August 31, 2011

    You know, I always thought I was busy until I see the list of things that you have to do throughout your day and it adjusts my perspective a bit. I admire your resolve to home school and feed your family from your own garden – something I would never be able to do myself but have so much respect for those who do. Kudos mama.

  6. Anonymous permalink
    August 31, 2011

    I love the wedding circus photos!

    And I love the quotes from the kids . . .

    Maybe folks in your community need boxed produce if you are overflowing? To sell or trade? You know I like to solve problems . . .

    I really loved the first paragraph or so of this piece, the way you describe everything and end by reassuring us all that everything is okay.

  7. August 31, 2011

    I love harvest busyness. I love making my own way and creating my own… everything. And this is why I LOVE reading posts like this. Thanks for taking time to write out your adventures and inspire.

  8. August 31, 2011

    can’t wait to see col tomorrow…we’re going to have fun. it should be interesting as that class is huge on thursdays! kristin (cyrus’s mom) helps me, though which makes a huge difference! the choke cherries were awesome. i added just enough sugar to cut the bitter and then froze the syrup into ice trays for future use in drinks, smoothies, etc….they are lovely in lemonade, our drink of the week.

  9. August 31, 2011

    wow, sounds so very busy and so very fulfilling. cannot wait to hear more about your school year!

  10. Ellen permalink
    August 31, 2011

    Great post with wonderful happy wedding photos. And I especially liked how Rosie got so dressed up for the plant walk.
    Did Col really say that it was his body and he didn’t have to practice writing if he didn’t want to?

    • 6512 and growing permalink
      August 31, 2011

      Oh yes, he really did.

  11. Dan permalink
    August 31, 2011

    Love your Blog honey, nice chronicling and writing and photos! XXOO Dan

  12. August 31, 2011

    rachel! so much goodness in this post i am nearly speechless. i mean envious. i mean delighting in the abundance that is your life. YUM. you know what is especially yum? seeing a closer-up picture of your sweet face! what a treat.

    in re: to your last post, i am loving your motherload of acorns. what a squirrel you are. i’m still waiting for the acorns to ripen here in SF, my tomatoes are still waiting for sun and the apples next door can’t ripen soon enough. so you might be overloaded with busyness, but i am happy to live vicariously through your box of peaches. xo

  13. August 31, 2011

    I love the sock/hula hoop matchiness. It might start a trend. I always wanted to start a fashion mag, based on my of course fabulous, entirely thrifted, wardrobe, and I think you could be in it too.
    We are harvesting mystery squash, since the planted squash of all varieties invariably gets carted off by ambitious squirrels (where is their garden??), yet they are too snooty for all manner of volunteer squash from the compost. In fact, all my tomatoes are all volunteers (and still green. North facing lot. Challenging. Or maybe it’s my yellowing, slightly brown, thumb that is the problem). Or maybe it’s my heavy reliance on semi;colon and (brackets).
    But I digress.
    My only disappointment is not seeing said 3 year old with underoverpants, and I am deeply enamoured of the 2 days/week of public school, which turn far toward the home/un/wild/schooling bent.

    So loved this post. Am feeling all nostalgic for places with acorns. And chestnuts. And other projectiles, er, edibles.

    • 6512 and growing permalink
      August 31, 2011

      Snooty squirrels are the worst! Are your boys ready for slingshots? They could practice with thieving squirrels.

  14. September 1, 2011

    I bake lots of bread with those zucchini’s and stick them in the freezer. Perfect for breakfast for my “I want carbs for breakfast” girl. Also good to grab to bring along on our winter road trips.

    Full steam here too – I’m overcommitted for the entire school year, having stepped up and joined the board of PTO, still running the girl scout troop AND trying to start my own business…..

  15. September 1, 2011

    “I am so excited to learn, I mean teach, I mean learn, I mean, chop 16 pounds of peaches.” hey if you don’t want to chop peaches, it’s your body, and you don’t have to. ;) this post is so friggin great.

  16. Anonymous permalink
    September 1, 2011

    Sounds like you have the best of both worlds when it comes to early childhood development. As Tim and I approach parenting, every now and then I send one of your posts to him to let him know that “your life is NOT over after kids!” Obviously your life is very rich and full. Better to be busy than have nothing to do!

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