Category Archives: Homelife

Ivy & Otis

We are not vegetarian, but we do care where our meat comes from. So last year we decided that if we would be eating bacon, we would try to be sure it was bacon that lived a happy, healthy life. We got some piglets from a nearby farm, and raised them fairly traditionally. They lived in a barn pen with an outdoor fenced area. They rooted up everything green and made wallows in the mud. They ate all of our kitchen compost and lots of garden produce – in fact, my sweet neighbor Inge’s garden went nuts, and we would haul daily 5 gallon buckets of overripe cukes and tomatoes for the pigs! But they also ate bags of grain. Bags and bags and bags of expensive grain. hmmmmmm……

We wondered if there was a better way. So through the long icy winter we did our research, and learned quite a bit. There was another way… Some people were breeding modern pigs to be like more like pigs were a long time ago.

One of these breeds is the Idaho Pasture Pig – bred for three things:

1) To be grazers. They mainly eat grass and forage, but their snouts are upturned so they don’t root as much and destroy the fields. This breed only eats a pound of grain a day – which is mixed with minerals that they don’t get from the Michigan land.

2) To be good mothers. They are hairy and hearty, meaning they give birth even when it’s cold and don’t lose a piglet. You rarely have to help them give birth.

3) To be gentle – they are friendly and like people. They also grow a little more slowly, and they don’t get to gigantically weird sizes. Have you ever seen an 800lb boar?! I have, and decided that is not the breed for us.

Since they are so little, and we have coyotes around, they are in the barn and we are cutting hay for them each day. My introverted Nate loves this kind of work and finds it meditative, like chopping wood.

But pretty soon they will be big enough to leave the barn and live full time in the pasture, (with a little A-frame shelter) where they will eat grass, and live happy healthy lives as a breeding pair. Their offspring will grow up the same way, resulting someday in organic grass fed pork.

Now the story of how we actually acquired the pigs, that is a story for another day. Ask me when you see me, it’s pretty funny. : )

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Lent on the Farm – Hamtramck & Polish Art Center

History. Recently I’ve been going through stacks of old photographs and seeing again the faces of the people that make up my genetics, and the land I came from. I feel passionate about saving the stories that we hear from our 90 year grandmothers, 3 of whom are still with us. But along with the stories are the traditions, foods and crafts that have been passed down.

My mother is Canadian, and I actually have copies of the immigration passports that allowed her grandparents to come from the Czech Republic to Canada. It was this grandmother that taught her how to do Pysanka Eggs. And naturally she taught me, and it’s become our Lenten craft every year. I love to imagine my ancestors, in that country I’ve not yet visited, passing the dark of a long winter evening with eggs, candles, beeswax and simple tools.

Every year I take the kids down to the Polish Art Center in Hamtramck to see the vast collection of imported art and to pick up supplies. Joan, the owner of the shop, always spends time with the kids and tries to pass along some piece of history. (This year is was the legend behind the Polish flag.)

It’s become a tradition to invite friends to join us, and then to eat at some new lunch spot there in Hamtramck – this year it was good Bangladeshi food at Reshmi Sweets & Cafe.

If you are interested in learning a new craft, we will be sharing a potluck dinner and making Pysanka on March 30 here at the farm. This has been our most popular event, so please RSVP – it’s almost full. If we have a ton of additional people that want to try, I may open up a second night. There is no charge, we will have all the supplies for you to use – just please bring something for the potluck dinner. Nate & I will have perogies and potato soup to contribute. We’d love to see you!

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Ann Arbor Creative Community – Free Farm Event

01. January 2019 ~ Greenwood Harvesting and Carving

Our first free farm event was packed, and we had a really great time! We started by harvesting a tree from the woods, and then Nate took us step by step through the process of turning that tree into a handmade spoon. I could not believe how engaged and capable some of the kids were! We ate homemade cinnamon rolls, had bowls of hot chili and made the most of a cold winter day. Join us for upcoming monthly free farm events…

{see the schedule}

…and please RSVP to save your spot as some events are limited in space!

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Ann Arbor Nature and Landscape Photography Workshop

When I think of my camera, I see a way of connecting with others.  But wandering alone with my camera is also one of my favorite ways to connect with myself.

Join me in the renovated barn studio for a Sunday afternoon workshop October 7 from 1-4pm on nature and landscape photography.   Allow yourself to slow down and do something that recharges your creative side.  We will have wine, cheese, fruit & dessert.  You will have time to listen, time to ask questions and time to wander and explore the fall farm.

  • In  small group relaxed environment, we will talk about some of the basics for technical shooting both in close up nature photography and landscapes – the basics of lenses, settings, & filters.
  • We will talk about timing, light and various weather conditions.
  • We will be inspired as we look at the work of masters in this field of photography.
  • Most importantly, we will talk about composition, framing, and about slowing down.   In the words of famed Depression Era photographer Dorothea Lange: “The camera is an instrument that teaches people how to see without a camera.”

~   Reserve your spot   ~

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Summer Musings

I ran into a friend at an Ann Arbor summer festival last week.  She is an adventurous person that backpacks India with her husband and fills her home with art that she collects as she travels.   She’s purposeful as well, and despite of the noise of a nearby stage and beer tent, she unpretentiously began to explain the ways she was intentionally slowing down her summer. 

She was inspiring.  I left and thought about how hard I push during the summer to get things done that I can’t get done during the kids’ school year.  I thought about the lists, the renovations, the planning, the projects.  I thought about the fact that my oldest son, my 6’2″ man-child, is graduating next year.  Graduating.  (He was a chubby thighed, jolly baby yesterday, I’m pretty sure…)  I don’t want to miss what really matters.

Sometimes it seems like the lists, the work, the projects are what really matters…I sure do feel myself pat my own back when I get them done.  But they are not what’s important.  The solitary misty morning walks with the birds and crickets matter.  The sound of my kids laughing on the hammock, the hot hours I pass watching them jump in the pond, the meals shared with friends, the books that alter my course, the rare and precious dates with my husband – these are real life.  I’m determined to not get that backwards.

So this week I did a photo scavenger hunt with my 9 year old daughter.  For fun.  We got ice cream at our favorite spot.  We invited friends over for a spontaneous swim.  I didn’t get my list done, but I put down my phone every morning and picked up the book that is changing me.  I made little pockets of time to think and be alone.

And as my sweet friend asked me, I ask you:  What are you doing this summer to slow down?  Are you doing the things that make life restful or reflective for you?   I’d love to hear your thoughts.

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I walked a slow mile…

I walked a slow mile before breakfast;  there were birds I did not know, and flowers I could not name, and a thousand spider webs hung from every piece of meadow grass like streamers leftover from a grand event I was not invited to. I returned to my world remembering (with thanks)  how small I am, how little I know, how there is an entire reality surrounding me that I forget to see.



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