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homestead happenings: the very small fan club

2014 January 29
by Rachel Turiel

In the last nine years of living with children, coming home after being away from them (even if only a few hours) is a little like walking onto the stage of my own network show. Fans rush the stage, elbowing each other to be first in line to greet me. Col just wants to wrap his arms around me, holding me close for a minute, as if plugging in his rechargeable batteries. Rosie hopes to retrieve every minute we spent apart by re-creating them through headlines from the newspaper staffed by six years olds: We saw a skunk and ate a hot dog! Daddy said we could have coconut water with dinner! Col let me fly his helicopter!

I know it will never be exactly like this again. It doesn’t seem that long ago that coming home meant unhusking a milk-fat boob as I crossed the threshold, while Dan thrust a larval-like baby in my arms, my heart pounding with a something like love and panic. One year later, returning home meant finding the kids streaking naked through the house like the ad for a toddler nudist colony, while child flotsam bred and multiplied in corners.

It seems you could measure something about children’s development by how you’re greeted upon coming home. Someday, my returning will barely register a blip. But now it feels like a call to lay down the arms of my mind (the anxieties, doubts, jealousies, anger) and just let myself be loved.

On the homestead:

:: Recent roadkill elk, butchered entirely by women and children:

butchering babes

I call this: bodacious badass butchering babes.


I call this: child labor. Just kidding. These kids are thrilled to be wielding knives. Notice that Rose hung her necklace on the chair for the dirty work.

After Dan’s dry elk hunting season (though there have been a few deer), depositing this elk in our freezer felt akin to stashing some gold bars under the mattress.

:: In Rose’s homeschool co-op, they’ve been studying non-violent communication and team building. I know. It’s like Free to Be You and Me all over again, millennial style. If reading, writing and arithmetic are educational building blocks, then, articulating peacefully, listening wholeheartedly and responding with empathy are human building blocks. Rose came home from co-op at Fawn’s house with two crayoned pictures of herself: one happy (with leotards, no doubt), one anxious. My heart flipped a few times, because 1) Anxiety is a large and scary beast for a 6 year to wrestle, and 2) You go girl for naming it (correctly) without self-judgment.


Team-building by playing “mirror movements” while the other kids guessed who was leading, who was following.

:: Dan taught Col’s homeschool co-op recently on the topic of handicrafts, helping them make buckskin wallets. He is such a good teacher and should really teach more often. Hint hint. Dan? You reading this?


I have grown so fond of these kids in Col’s co-op, who’ve been learning together for 2 1/2 years. (I find myself composing toasts to give at their weddings). Recently they were all plotting how to save money to buy a plane together. I mentioned that at the rate they were earning, it might take them until they were 50 to purchase it. Silence followed. “Do you guys think you’ll still be hanging out when you’re fifty?” I asked. “Um, yeah,” they responded like I had asked them if kids like to play.

Bonus instruction on how to pull tendons out of an elk leg (which were dried, pounded, separated and used to sew up their buckskin wallets).


Seneca modeling finished wallet:


:: Rose has a jewelry shop which gets dragged out of boxes and then tidied away almost daily. I think it’s a way of subsidizing her propensity to give things away. If you show up penniless—wait!—she will present you with The Golden Ticket, carte blanche to pick up a few items for free.


All this costume jewelry was a gift from my Uncle Sol and Aunt Diane. I don’t think they’ll mind that it’s now well-distributed across Durango.

Rose is not shy about creating the rules and expecting customers to accommodate. Last week Col and Rose’s friend Kai was shopping at “Oodles of Jewelry” for his mom and three sisters. With each necklace he purchased, Rose foisted upon him three free extras. He began backing away towards the door, overloaded with his “purchases,” Rose running after him with slips of paper.

Kai: I don’t really want another receipt, Rose.

Rose: You get one anyway.

:: What’s the current national feeling towards jello? I’m sensing a resurgence, and not just because Col requested a mango jello cake with blueberries and whipped cream for his birthday (no baking necessary. Thank you kitchen gods).


We use this grass-fed gelatin (available locally at Vitamin Cottage), although Dan says he’s happy to boil down some deer hooves for us.

Tell me your mouth isn’t watering for whipped cream topped jello:


Recipe: mix 2 TSBP gelatin with 1 QT warmed mango juice, let set in fridge, add blueberries and whipped cream.

I think we’re all feeling the abundance these days, in jewelry, elk sausage, aspic desserts, and being greeted by a very small, earnest fan club upon returning home. What else could we need? (Okay, maybe a little snow).



ps: I’ve been informed by a few people that when they click on my blog in their “favorites” file, it reverts to a post from 2012. I believe this is happening because the grace period of wordpress rerouting readers to the new (as of Jan, 2013) site has expired. If you change my blog address in whatever system you’re using to you should be all good.


12 Responses leave one →
  1. January 30, 2014

    Dear Rachel, you do have a wide fan club out there, and I’m give certainly not the only one who wishes I could give you a hug every time you come back with a post for us :o)

    More tomorrow, bonne nuit !


  2. January 30, 2014

    Oh Rachel. I just adore every THING about this post. Really, the wallets?! The jewelry sale (I do believe Rose and Margot could take over the west (world?) with crafty, cute sales). The badass mamas. Perfect, happy read before I close my eyes. xo

  3. Andrea permalink
    January 30, 2014

    What a lovely late night read!

    Yes, to gelatin.

    But what I mostly want to talk about is your radiant glow. Your skin. Your shinning health. It reaches right through.

    • Rachel Turiel permalink*
      January 30, 2014

      Thank you. Must be the hooves, I mean gelatin.

  4. Sharon permalink
    February 1, 2014

    I’m a parent of a 7year old, and I like this post so much…recharging batteries, child labor, jewelry store, mirror movements, elk leg, the great sunlight in your house…so good. But especially, especially, the two drawings, the two feelings, the ok of heavy emotions, the laying down of arms and letting yourself be loved. YES.

  5. Ellen permalink
    February 3, 2014

    Speaking of arriving home after being away from kids, when I arrived home from my first ever business trip after four days on the east coast (from California), the kids (9 and 13 years old) greeted me with “My button fell off” and “Erica hit me.” and (most surprisingly) “Whats for dinner?” Enjoy those wonderful hugs and breathless recitations of the day’s activities while they last.

  6. February 3, 2014

    Another fan rushes to the stage! Deer hoof relating makes me smirk.

  7. February 5, 2014

    I love coming home to a little fan club, too, and you’re right, this too shall pass, when eventually they won’t even look up from their digital devices to greet us. And how sad would that be?

    As for women and children buchers, and jello birthday cakes? Awesome. Happy belated birthday to your sweet Col!

  8. September 12, 2014

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    blog and in depth information you present. It’s good to come across a blog
    every once in a while that isn’t the same outdated rehashed material.
    Excellent read! I’ve bookmarked your site and I’m
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