Saturday, April 30, 2011

Finished!

My youngest child, Sarah, completed her last high school - home school assignment today, a paper on "The Role of Enterprise in the War against Poverty."  Sarah is finished grade 12 now.  (Good job, Sarah!)

Yesterday she enrolled in her courses for the Fall semester in Moody Distance Learning.  Her second Moody course, "New Testament Survey" is in process.  She got on "A" on her first university course, "Old Testament Survey" so she has a good start in her university program.

Sarah decided to enroll in Moody's Distance Learning degree program for several reasons:

1.  They accepted her home school transcript/portfolio without reservation.

2.  Moody's distance ed courses are transferable to an on-campus degree program -- many colleges that offered distance ed degrees didn't transfers course work onto an on campus degree.

3.  Moody had a program that Sarah was interested in:  Sarah wants to work with women, helping to alleviate poverty through small and medium business ventures that promote fiber arts skills and entrepreneurship.  She is pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Ministry Leadership - Woman's Ministry concentration, through Moody, which will prepare her to work with women in many areas -- including developing business projects that will help alleviate poverty at home or overseas.

4.  Sarah wants to spend at least one year on campus to experience all that university life has to offer.  Moody has a campus in Spokane, just 2 1/2 hours from home, and Sarah will be able to attend classes in Spokane in her junior year and continue working toward her degree.

5.  Sarah wants to finish her university degree without going into debt.  Moody's credit hours are reasonably priced -- $165 per credit hour for the Fall semester or approx. $2,500 per semester.  With what Sarah is able to earn working for her dad on the farm and selling her own art work she hopes to be able to earn enough for her four years, while she continues to study.

My homeschooling years are over.  It was fun.  I learned a lot.  I became passionate about local, sustainable fiber and food.  I loved teaching and inspiring passion in my daughter for justice, mercy, and sustainability.  As well as a passion for living out New Testament Christianity, and giving her a reasonable, thoughtful, faith.

Homeschooling my daughter was an exceptional joy.  Homeschooling two sons was not so wonderful.  Although we did the required courses, it was more like war -- small daily skirmishes that left me empty and feeling like a failure.  That's when I prayed for wisdom and the ability to break through their resistance.  I had some measure of success but it never felt easy.  The boys had been to public school before homeschooling became a necessity, due to bullying in the school.  But they never got over their public school disdain and mockery of their mom. If I could roll back the years I would homeschool all 3 from kindergarten -- but homeschooling was barely legal in those years.

Perhaps it was because of those skirmishes with the boys that I was better prepared to coach my daughter through the high school years.   

Now I will be able to pursue my own learning goals.  I've enrolled in an online course to help me tweak my creative goals and hopefully gain some new time management tools for creative work.  More about that in another post.

Monday, April 25, 2011

What's a fibershed?

I came across an interesting blog yesterday that talks about wearing locally grown, milled, designed and sewn clothing -- clothing sourced within 150 miles of home.  They call this 150 mile radius a "fibershed".  Included in the fibershed is every fiber farm, dye plant, textile mill, fiber artist, designer, weaver, felter and seamstress within the radius.  Could you wear locally produced clothing exclusively?  Clothing that was grown, dyed, processed, designed and created within 150 miles of home?



"The Fibershed project is inspired by the need to swing the pendulum of our production- and our consumption to a more balanced state, that supports the health of all humans and the greater ecological system of which we are apart; through the re-integration of organic fibers, natural dyes, and a regional base that supports local communities and economies."



We, Canadians, used to, before the industrial revolution grow our own clothing organically and produce our wardrobes sustainably.  In fact there are still people in the world that create their own clothing from fibers they grow themselves.  My friends in Laos told me of the people that live near them that raise silk worms, weave silk cloth and dye with natural indigo.  The women weave a new garment for every member of the family every year.  Silk for everyday clothing?  I could live like that.

But what of North America?

"In my community (California) alone thousands upon thousands of pounds of wool are composted or thrown into the landfills each year.  We have a 13% unemployment rate, all the while if you go to a store to buy a wool undershirt– the raw material is from New Zealand, and the production from China."

I saw in an issue of Crafts Report (2008) a project called "The 100 mile Suit".  But my impression was that the suit was uncomfortable, stiff, ill fitting and generally an art project with no lasting appeal.  Get a load of the undies?  They even look itchy.  Not a happy thought for a fiber farm and fiber artist like me.  I wondered, are we limited to hats and mitts and sweaters in our quest for a local, sustainable lifestyle?  Does local have to be boring and frumpy?  Or outrageously artsy and illconceived?  Plod forward 3 shearings and 100s of fleeces later, and I came across the fibershed blog.


I have known for a long time that the textile industry is one of the most polluting industries on the planet.  This was the motivation for my daughter, Sarah's woad research and her subsequent science fair medals.



By moving the production of textiles off shore we have not solved this problem but merely shirked the responsibility.  So I opt for fair trade and natural dyes and bought some skirts from Maiwa on Granville Island last year -- artisan made with cert. organic cottons, and traditional block printing with natural dyes -- and almost $100 a piece.  Lovely garments -- slow clothes that I will wear for many years.  But this is not a wardrobe -- just the addition of 2 or 3 pieces.

I wondered as I purused the Fibershed blog if it was possible to truly create a local wardrobe, with local dyes, and local fibers.

The objective (of the fibershed project) is to create and model a bioregional wardrobe that speaks the language of the landscape, through its use and care of local fibers–manipulated by the hands of local artisans, dyed in the botanic abundance of our lands.




But the key -- could that wardrobe be fashionable and functional?  Could that wardrobe be affordable?  This blog answers the question of fashionable and functional with a resounding, "yes".  But each piece is artisan made, one of a kind, and presumably taking many hours to create.  This might be something I could do for myself, but could it be done on a large scale to cloth a community?

The premise of the fibershed blog is that it must be done.  The earth can no longer sustain the pollution and waste that characterizes the covering of mankind.  The developing world cannot sustain the pollution that characterizes the garment manufacturing industries.  Add to that the mass unemployment and economic struggle of the middle class in Europe and North America -- one off designer clothing sourced from local materials might be a trendy option for the rich.  Can the struggling middle class afford this option?  What of the poorer folks struggling to put nutritious food on the table?

Possibly if we can teach the skills necessary -- skills that our grandmothers and great grandmothers learned in childhood.  It might be possible.  The fibershed project hosts regular "reskilling" days where participants learn from each other and experiment with new skills -- natural dyeing on the beach?  Sounds like a guild dye day to me.

I think the first step is to change our relationship with time.  "Time is money" is not a truism any more.  But how do we embrace time with productive and purposeful activity that is not tied to economic advancement -- the GNP?  And how can we redeem the time -- knit our socks while waiting for the kettle to boil, spin our yarn while watching the Canucks lose to Chicago again.  Can time become our friend?  Instead of wanting more time can we use the 24 hours alloted to us to embrace the possibilities.  Fewer meetings perhaps -- less driving perhaps -- less arguing about things that don't really matter -- and more time to work with our hands, hug a goat, stroke a bunny, create art. If "art is the signature of man" as Chesteron states, then beautiful, artisan clothing is the signature of woman -- the thing that distinguishes us from beasts.  (Does grabbing jeans and a t-shirt from the ready wear rack, mean I am less human then?  Or less of a woman?  Hmmm, thoughts for another blog)



I am challenged by reading the fibershed blog to renew my joy in local, sustainable fiber -- to stay the course -- to change the wardrobes of my community -- one sustainable garment at a time.  Will you join me?

My  "fibershed" would include the communties of Salmon Arm to the North, Princeton to the West, Creston and a bit beyond to the East, and Spokane, WA to the South.  That's a huge community with alpacas, llamas, sheep, angora goats, angora rabbits, linen and tons of dye plants.  There are mills, weavers, spinners, felters, seamstresses, designers, brain tanners, leatherworkers, sock and sweater knitters -- are there shoe makers?  Could this be feasible?  Could we have a fashion show?  Can we pull something together for the Joybilee Farm Linen Festival on August 6? What do you think?  Are you in?

Friday, April 22, 2011

Recipe: Lemon Curd or what to do with all those eggs.....

We are overwhelmed with medium eggs.  Not the extra large eggs that the customers want, but the medium eggs that our feral chickens lay.  There has been a surge of warmer, for us, weather, and the chickens have responded by increasing their output, while they devour more and more bugs and fresh spring weeds.

Overwaitea had huge lemons on today at 5 for $2 so I brought home a bag and started cracking eggs.  Lemon Curd is an old brit recipe that my mother use to make. 

You can spread it on toast like jam, use it in lemon tarts or as lemon pie filling, or put it inside cookies and doughnuts, yum.

Lemon Curd:
6 large or 10 med egg yolks, separated (reserve the egg whites for meringue or macroons)
1 c. sugar
Juice and zest from 3 large lemons
1/2 c. butter

Beat sugar into egg yolks until they are light and lemon coloured.  Add juice and zest of lemons.  Stir over medium heat until thick, but not boiling.  Add butter and continue stirring until butter is melted.  It should be thick like pudding.  Do not boil.

Immediately spoon into sterilized jars and seal with 2 part lids.  Will keep in the refrigerator for 8 weeks.

Makes 3 cups of lemon curd. 

Or use to fill tart shells for lemon merigue tarts.  Makes 2 doz. tarts.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Good Friday and Earth Day -- in harmony or "why we do what we do the way we do."

Tomorrow is Good Friday.  The day Christians honour the death of Jesus Christ on a cross.  It is a day to examine our hearts and to pray for forgiveness of God for the mistakes we have made and to receive the unconditional grace and forgiveness that is offered to us freely and only because Jesus Christ, the Son of God, came to earth and chose to die a torturous death in our place.  It is a day of sorrow and a day of wonder.

What has struck me lately is the fact that this death was real -- not a myth.  Jesus was a man who lived in Palestine.  He claimed to be the Son of God and this brought contempt on him from his culture.  He died on April 3, 33AD.  Why do we know this?  It is the only day when Pilate was the governor in Jerusalem, Passover occurred on a Thursday evening to Friday and there was a lunar eclipse.  How do we know that Jesus really lived and died at that time?  There were numerous eye witnesses and they have recorded their testimonies.  We have 100s of copies of these testimonies -- more hand written copies than we have of the Odyssey or the Iliad, preserved in the ancient libraries of the world.  Jesus Christ's death is a matter of historical record  established by eye witness reports.

Because we can see that this man really lived and can know what day in history that he died on, we can also trust the testimony of these same witnesses that he rose from the dead -- the event that we will celebrate this Sunday.  The fact that Jesus lives is what give Christians their hope everyday.  These testimonies tell us that Jesus Christ was seen by 100s of eye witnesses after his resurrection and that some of these people saw him rise up into the heavens and that He promised to be with us always, No other prophet in history has risen from the dead.  No other prophet in history answers the prayers of his followers. 



Does it make a difference 2,000 years later?  Yes, in my life and in the lives of my own family -- we can trust not just in the forgiveness and grace that we receive but also in the daily wisdom that we receive from God when we ask for wisdom and even for help on the farm when we have trouble -- like yesterday when "Ebony", a black angora goat, had a breech presentation and her baby was being born -- already dead-- and almost a month early.  God gave us grace and wisdom to wait, when we prayed and asked Him what we should do.  And she delivered the breech baby without veterinary assistance.  Amazing!

Tomorrow is also Earth Day.  The day when we honour God's creation by covenanting to steward it wisely, to walk in gentleness on the planet, taking new steps to reduce consumerism and increase organic living.  Those of you who read this blog regularly know that we take seriously our commitment to be gentle with God's Earth.

We farm organically and sustainably without chemicals.  We avoid feeding GMOs and grow most of our own food.  We treat our animals like family members and honour their needs above our own -- allowing chickens to be chickens, sheep and goats to be sheep and goats -- protecting them at night from predators but allowing them to free range our 140 acres at other times.  We use their manure as the fertilizer for our fields and gardens and even share it with our neighbors in exchange for excess produce.  We heat our small log home with wood from dead falls and weed trees on our acreage.  Our electricity is renewable hydro power.  We have learned to live on what we can grow ourselves or earn from our own hands, rather than exploit the poor of the earth.  For us Earth Day is about honouring the work of our hands even as we honour God's creation.

Its not about REDUCE - REUSE - RECYCLE for us.  Just like many religious people have coded religion into a series of rules about what not to do, many zealous Earth Day observers have coded earth friendly behaviours into rules about what not to do -- so that Earth Day has become symbolic of another kind of negative spirituality.  For us it is about being productive and using the renewable things that God, in His abundant love toward us, has placed in our hands.  It is about expressing the creativity that is in us because our God is creative and it is about loving our animals and our fellow human beings and enhancing their well being with what we create because God loves them.  Its about inspiring creativity in others by sharing our work and teaching our crafts.  This is our purpose for existence -- to create things with our hands that will enhance and benefit the lives of our animals and our friends.  It is the harmony between Good Friday and Earth Day.


We walk in the realization that God gave us what we need to live sustainably and in harmony.  We live in harmony with Him and our fellow humans through the historical events that happened on Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday.  We live in harmony with the Earth because of wisdom that comes from God and celebrate that on Earth Day.  We have always lived this way -- PRODUCE-PROTECT-INSPIRE is our Homestead code.

See our website to find out more about why we do what we do the way we do.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Moon Gazing Rabbit

I am intrigued by stories.  I love to tell stories about our farm and our family.  I delight to listen to stories being read while I spin or knit.  And I love to read ancient tales -- epic poems, cultural myths, and historic hero stories.  In fact, my Kindle is full of folk tales, fairy stories and heroic tales from many cultures.  My very favorite stories are the tales of heroes, rescue and redemption.

In many cultures in the world there is a rabbit in the moon.  Mexico, China, Japan, and Korea all share the symbol of the rabbit in the moon. The story of how the rabbit got on the moon is a tale of heroism and redemption.

In China this is the story of the "Jade Rabbit."  This is my rendition.



Once there were 3 wise sages who disguised themselves as frail, old men and travelled the countryside.  They became hungry on their long walk and approached a fox.  "Oh, fox, we are very hungry, please share your food with us."  The fox, without hesitation, shared his meal with the 3 old men, a chicken he had stolen from a nearby farmer.

Satisfied, the sages thanked the fox, and carried on their long journey.  Before long, they became hungry again.  The day was hot, the road unpaved.  The 3 men came across a monkey and asked for food.  "Please, monkey, share your meal with us."  The monkey laughed and climbed a tree and tossed down coconuts and mangoes for the sages.  There was more food than 3 frail, old men could eat.  Satisfied the sages thanked the monkey and carried on their journey.

But before nightfall, the 3 sages became hungry again.  There was a rabbit in their path.  "Please, rabbit, will you share your food with us. For we are weak with hunger and tired from our long journey."

"I have nothing to share," said the rabbit, for my food is grass and flowers which you see along the path you have walked all day.  And as he spoke the rabbit began to gather sticks and tinder.  He built a small fire, blowing on the coals until a fire burned brightly.  "I have only myself to give you", he said.  Before they could stop him, the rabbit had leaped, with his strong legs, into the flame.

The sages were so touched by the sacrifice of the rabbit that they took him from the fire and sent him to the moon to live forever.  And to this day, on the night of the full moon, if you look very carefully you can see the Jade rabbit mixing the draft of immortality on the face of the moon.

My new work is a REW angora rabbit looking for her cousin the Jade Rabbit on the moon.



The moon gazing rabbit is a made of wool, silk and bfl locks, embroidered with linen thread.  Her eyes are mother of pearl and garnet.  She is practical, and functional as a tea cosy, insulating your tea pot while she inspires your creative thoughts.  I love how the shape of the full moon is echoed in her body.

She will be on display at Gallery 2 in Grand Forks during the Magnus Opus, great works by the members of the Boundary Artisan Association, show May 14 to August 6.

Bandit


You have made your desire known.  Our little ram lamb will be "Bandit".  He had a half sister born last night and we are going to call her "Oreo".  Thanks for participating on our Facebook page.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Help us name this lamb.

Our first ever spotted lamb?  What should we call him?

What's his name?
We have a new lamb born 3 days ago and he is without a name.  Will you help us name him?  Head on over to the Joybilee Farm Facebook Page and become a fan.  Then add your opinion to the final round poll -- Should he be called Domino?  Oreo? or Bandit?

So far Domino and Oreo are tied for first place, but Bandit is only 4 votes behind.  Tell us what you think.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Lambing Time

Spring's Hope




The day dawns, the night takes flight
The sun rises on wings of light
Out in the barn a plaintive voice
Is heard calling, shepherd rejoice

A wet-born lamb is lying there
White, yolk, fresh, its mother's care
Licking and nuzzling is the ewe
So it will stand, and then suck too

Soon the lamb will walk and run
And then will sleep with a full tum
In a year it will be sheared
Its fleece is soft and fine this year

Next spring another lamb will come
Both to this one and its Mom
More plaintive voices in the air
More lovely fleeces fit to share

copyright Sarah Dalziel, 2011

Friday, April 08, 2011

Artisan Bread in 5 minutes a Day

Don't you love the smell of baking bread? Don't you hate the rising price of manufactured food?  Whole grain and multi grain bread has topped $6 a loaf here.  Time to save money and make my own bread again.

I go through periods of baking bread regularly, or making chiapatis (unleaven flat breads).  But the inconvenience of having to set aside a number of hours to knead bread and set aside the two rising periods and then the baking time discourages me from a regular meditation of bread making.  So we are making chaipatis more often than bread.  That's all changed.  I discovered "Artisan Bread in 5 minutes a Day" through a friend (thanks, Jaime). 

Its an amazing bread making strategy that frees up your time.  You start by making the dough -- depending how much you make, it takes anywhere from 15 to 20 minutes.  The dough is made up of warm water, yeast, salt and wheat flour.  That's it.  The dough is put through the first rising period and then transferred to a container with a lid and refrigerated.  It will keep up to two weeks in the fridge and develops a nice sourdough flavour after 4 to 6 days.  That's a good sign as the souring of the dough removes the anti nutrients in wheat and makes it easier to digest.

Each time you want some bread you break off a piece of the dough, shape, dust with flour and let rise in a warm place for 1 to 2 hours. (the longer time is for whole wheat flour).    This takes less than 2 minutes.  Then you bake it or do whatever you need to for the pastry of your choice.  The baking method is unique as the bread is baked at in a very hot oven with some steam from a shallow pan of water for a crusty french bread texture.  Totally easy and yummy.

Here's a link to the article in Mother Earth News.

So I tried this for the first time on Tuesday and we had fresh baked round loaves a few times over two days.  The loaves were eaten quickly.  Then yesterday, just before running out to do our parttime job, I mixed up another batch.  I didn't have time to let it rise on the counter so I just covered it and put it right in the fridge.

About 6 hours later we arrived home to a power outage.  No problem.  The bread had risen in the fridge while we were gone and I pulled off a grapefruit size piece, punched the rest down and returned it to the fridge.  I rolled out a pizza crust, topped with goat cheese, carmalized onions, red peppers from the freezer and baked it in the wood fired oven at 450F.  Even though the oven temperature dropped during the baking time, it was sensational and all off grid.  We ate by candlelight and power returned just before nightfall.  It was a perfect dinner and we ate the leftovers for breakfast today.

You can make the bread in any size recipe and my version was as much as my Kitchenaid Mixer bowl could hold.  I stored it in the fridge in a 6 l. stainless steel milk pail with lid (Lee Valley) as we are trying to avoid plastics on our food.

For that amount of dough you need:
6 cups warm water
3 tbsp. yeast
2 tbsp. celtic sea salt
13 cups of flour

Dissolve the yeast in the water, Mix salt and flour in your mixing bowl.  Make a well in the centre and pour in the yeast mixture.  Using a dough hook, mix roughly.  It should use up all the flour and make a moist dough.  Cover and let rise until the rising dough caves in.  Punch down, put into your storage container and put it in the fridge.  Now its ready to use whenever you need bread.

See the article for the rest of the method.  The baking period has some unique features that makes this bread perfect.  I've put the book on my wish list on Amazon.  As well as their second book:


A money saving hint:  Food goes on sale at the time when the new harvest is coming in.  So flour goes on sale in August or September, when the new season's wheat is arriving at the mills.  I stocked up last September on Roger's Flour (my favorite high gluten flour for bread making) at $5 per 10 kg. (22lb.) bag -- the price now is $15 per bag.  This rule also applies to canned goods -- tomotoes, corn, peas etc.  So stock up while its on sale and store it under your bed or in your closet.  Prices always go up between January and June before the new produce comes off the fields.

I can see that baking bread this way will give me more time for felting, spinning and weaving.  I like that.

Saturday, April 02, 2011

Farm Fresh 100% wool Baby Clogs

Wet felted baby clogs in 6-9 months, 9-12 months, and 12 to 18 months.  Made with 100 % natural, renewable wool dyed in natural dyes.  Aren't they sweet? 

I wonder if any of these will fit Celia, my grand daughter?  I haven't seen her feet since September 4th.  I wonder how long and wide they are now?

Wool felt is a healthy alternative to vinyl, PVC, and leather shoes.  Even natural leather is infused with the chemicals of the tanning and dyeing process and will off gas for many months -- as long as they fit your child. 

Baby's feet will breath in these clogs.  There are no toxins to off gas with natural wool.  Wool absorbs 30 % of its own weight in moisture without feeling wet.  Wool is naturally antibacterial, resists soiling and will continue to support and shape to babies foot as the clogs are worn for a perfect fit.
Wool will keep baby's feet warm in winter and cool in summer, insulating and absorbing moisture. 
The wool massages baby's feet, too, improving circulation and stimulating muscle development. Wool is the perfect shoe for baby's growth and development.  And wool felt is a traditional shoe material in Scotland and northern Europe.

The Scottish shepherds wore clogs walking over the heath with their sheep.  I had imagined they were wooden, and wondered if they stumbled on the uneven ground.  I now think the clogs must have been wool felt.  Since the wool was nigh at hand and a pair can be made in a few hours -- quicker than a pair of moccasins and more durable.  They would wear well on soft ground and could be washed if they stepped in something unpleasant.  And if they walked through a bog, their feet would stay warm.

I wonder if all the northern European peoples had wool clogs as well as wooden ones.  Or woolen clogs with wooden soles?  Now I want a pair of woolen clogs, too.

See more of these in the studio/gift shop at Joybilee Farm, when you visit this summer.  Or check out our website.