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Archive for January 3rd, 2012

New Experience

Jan
3

It snowed off and on all day yesterday, and a little more overnight, though we didn’t seem to accumulate a whole lot for all the wintry effort. Just enough to say, HELLO, it really IS January!

There was a two-hour delay for school today. At Stringtown Rising, that meant I had a spare two hours to hike down the driveway then creep down the road the mile to the bus stop. Here, it means….nothing! NOTHING!

Though I did learn the winter bus routine for our new country neighborhood today. The hard road whereupon my farm resides ends at the end of our farm (which is some distance past the house and over a hill). There, the road turns into a dirt-rock road and there are a handful of residents out that way. At the end of the hard road is where the bus turns around and is the last school bus stop on this road. This morning I learned that in the winter, though the school bus WILL come, on rough winter mornings like today, one of the dads who lives out there scoops up all the kids and takes them up the road to where there is a small church with a parking lot, which is just an easier/safer place for the bus to turn around when the roads are snowy.

Our neighbor called to let Morgan know what time to come outside.

And off she went. Country “neighborhoods” are the best.

In other news, it’s a cold, cold morning and even the sheep don’t want to come out of the barn.

And Coco, who is smarter than Casper, knows right where to keep her blankie.

On the porch!

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Registration Open for CITR Retreat 2012!

Jan
3

A Hands-On Experience
in the
West Virginia Mountains

September 13th-15th
at
Camp Sheppard, located in
Roane County, West Virginia.

2012 Party on the Farm follows
on September 16th at
Sassafras Farm.


Are you ready for the CITR retreat? Join us for an exciting adventure in the scenic hills of West Virginia!

Learn old-time skills and fresh, new methods in a hands-on way with in-person mentorship from fellow CITR friends. Workshops will include cheesemaking, preserving, soapmaking, breadbaking, candlemaking, natural skin care, spinning, felting and fulling, quilting, container gardening, mushroom log inoculating, apron making, dulcimer playing, painting, goat milking/husbandry, and power tools. Take home fun and functional know-how for self-sufficient living and old-fashioned crafting–and take home what you make, too.

Evenings will be “freestyle” with craft-sharing time and some very special entertainment. West Virginia dulcimer player and maker Jim Good will entertain us with his music on Friday evening (September 14) and Granny Sue, a real live old-fashioned folk storyteller will regale us with her tales on Saturday night (September 15).

We have ALL the information, prices, and details here, but I want to give you a quick rundown of the workshops we’re offering this year.

Preserving Workshops
The art of preserving is neither dying nor lost! Learn how to preserve using boiling water bath and steam canning, pressure canning, dehydrating, steam juicing, and more! Learn the principles of safe home canning, proper processing and storing methods, how to use basic canning equipment along with the ‘magic’ of specialty equipment. (Steam juicing will be “on the menu” in both canning workshops.) Something for everyone – attendees will be polled as to what skill level they desire to learn, from first-timers to advanced, and workshops will be planned accordingly.

In the boiling water bath workshops, learn what can be safely preserved by this method and the most current tips and tricks including low temp pasteurization for pickling. We’ll prep food, prepare recipes, and process. And taste!

Pressure canning workshops will take you to the almost endless possibilities in the world of preserving – meats, soups, stews and more! Learn to preserve low acid foods safely and economically, including meals in jars that are the best ‘fast food’ ever! Move beyond the fear of using a pressure canner and into the confidence of DIY.

Dehydrating is one of the oldest forms of food preservation. This workshop will delve into what can be dried, and how to prepare, store, and use what you preserve. We’ll make jerky and other foods, and use dehydrated foods in recipes. We’ll use and discuss different styles of dehydrators and even learn what else they can be used for besides food preservation!

Cheesemaking Workshops
Dive into the joy of home cheesemaking! In soft cheese workshops, experience making your own mozzarella from start to tasting. Workshops will also include demonstration and sampling of other soft cheeses such as creme fraiche, fromage blanc, and mascarpone. Learn the fundamental techniques to prepare you to make any kind of soft cheese at home.

Hard cheese workshops will prepare you with the basic how and why of milk, cultures, rennet, cheese presses (homemade and spring-weighted), as well as the basic supplies and equipment to set up a home cheesemaking kitchen. In each workshop, we will make a hard cheese from pot to press, and you will learn how to set up a cheese cave at home for aging to perfection. You will leave this workshop with hard cheese demystified, ready to go home and make your own.

Soapmaking Workshops
Take the plunge into soapmaking–step by step!

Take the first step by learning how to make a good old-fashioned bar of lye soap how your grandmothers did–by hot-processing, but with a modern twist. We’ll measure, mix and cook oils and lye together as you watch firsthand the magic as lye, oil, and water is turned into a beautiful, safe bar of soap within just a couple hours. You’ll learn the tricks and techniques of pouring, slicing and drying. You’ll go home with a few special bars made by you!

For those who have already worked with lye and hot processing, learn how to use a different type of lye, create a different type of trace and magically make an all-natural, fast and easy liquid soap. Take it home to use it in your own home as hand soap, shower gel, or even shampoo–another product you can take those unpronounceable ingredients out of. You’ll also learn the tricks to diluting and thickening your homemade liquid soaps.

Want to learn the hows and whys of different oils and additives in your homemade soap? Is the soap calculator giving you fits? In soap chemistry, we’ll take the mystery out of soap recipes by learning the soap calculator and the make-up of different oils working together–so your family and friends can have soap that works with their skin.

Breadbaking Workshops
There are few things more satisfying in life than taking a warm loaf of bread made from your own hands out of the oven. Using simple ingredients, you will learn the steps of mixing, kneading, and shaping to create your own fresh-baked rolls, loaves, pizzas, coffeecakes, and more using the Grandmother Bread recipe. With hands-on experience and individual guidance, you will leave this workshop with the knowledge and skill to make homemade bread a part of your daily life. Say goodbye to store-bought bread!

Cake Candle Workshops
Love those primitive country-style artisan candles? Make your own using a few specialty wax whipping and frosting techniques! Learn how to make a basic cake candle then how to apply the techniques to create cinnamon bun candles, pie candles, loaf candles, and more. This is a hands-on workshop and you will take home your creations. No previous candlemaking experience required.

Natural Skin Care Workshops
Hands-on natural skin care workshops will prepare you with the basic how and why of preparing your own products both for babies and for grown-up skin that needs to be babied. Learn which common ingredients nourish fragile/sensitive skin and which can irritate it. You’ll take home your own green healing salve and baby-safe lotion plus detailed tip sheets on therapeutic herbs, oils, skin nourishing formulas, sensitizers, and common ingredients to avoid.

Spinning Workshops
Learn to spin yarn with a drop spindle. This hands-on workshop includes an overview of fiber preparation and lots of practice with drop spindles, hand carding, and wool combing tools, plus tips and demos on using a spinning wheel, dyeing wool, and choosing fiber for your own spinning projects. Come ready to have fun!

Power Tool Workshops
Don’t know the difference between a drill and a jig saw? This workshop will introduce you to basic power and hand tools, and take the mystery (and fear!) out of using them. The care, maintenance, and selection of the right tool for the job will be covered, and you’ll get hands-on experience with a skilled instructor at your side as you practice using various tools then craft a small project to take home. Gain the knowledge and confidence to take not only craft construction but minor household jobs into your own hands. Specifically geared to women with little or no experience with tools, but men are welcome!

Felting & Fulling Workshops
Dive into an ancient craft! This workshop will introduce you to the history and techniques of felting and an understanding of the art of fulling–and what is the difference. Learn the basics of matting, condensing, and pressing fiber then practice your new skills making soap sweaters to take home with you along with the inspiration and experience to create even more projects on your own.

Quilting Workshops
Take a fun dip into introductory quilt making by machine sewing a small project. Learn the basic cutting, pressing, piecing, and sewing techniques that form the foundation of this creative art. You will leave this workshop with your first quilting creation and a new addictive craft to pursue at home! Some sewing experience will be helpful, but is not required. While fabrics, batting, and other supplies and equipment will be provided, if you have a favorite sewing kit, embellishment, or fabric, feel free to bring it with you.

Container Gardening Workshops
This workshop will focus on the key differences between gardening in containers versus in the ground. Learn about soil dynamics, water movement and retention, proper fertilization, and common mistakes (or “opportunities for learning”) when planting in pots. Learn how to make your own growing mix, how to find the best literature available to the container gardener, how to select fruits and vegetables for container growing, and grab some great ideas for creative containers. Build your own self-watering container, based on the global bucket system, in the workshop and take it home! Leave with the knowledge and ability to grow fruits, vegetables, and herbs no matter where you live or how much room you have to grow.

Mushroom Log Inoculating Workshops
You’ll never find mushrooms this fresh at the store! Learn the different ways to produce, harvest and store shiitake mushrooms with demonstrations and hands-on practice inoculating hardwood (oak) logs with sawdust spawn. Take home a new and rewarding hobby along with your log, ready for your very own harvest!

Apron Making Workshops
Make a very special souvenir to bring home from your retreat that will be both as practical and as decorative as you like. Learn to construct the apron, decorate it, and make it as cost effective as possible using remnants, items you wouldn’t usually associate with sewing, and pure creativity. Whether you are an expert sewer or have never put the pedal to the floor, you will walk away from this workshop with a one-of-a-kind apron! No sewing experience required.

Dulcimer Playing Workshops
This is a workshop for anyone interested in the only musical instrument that originated in the United States, right here in Appalachia. Whether or not you can read music, you can learn to play the dulcimer in a short time. All the basics will be covered–care, tuning, different playing styles and techniques, and learning some simple songs. (Dulcimers for use in the workshop will be provided to students. If you want to take one home, hand-crafted dulcimers from West Virginia artisan Jim Good will be available for purchase.)

Painting Workshops
Think you can’t paint? Let Kelly Walker guide you step by step as you create your very own masterpieces. No experience required! Everything you need will be provided–aprons, paint, brushes, and all other supplies.

In the small canvas workshop, you’ll follow along with an experienced and enthusiastic artist who will give you stroke-by-stroke instructions as you create your painting. Develop your artistic ability and learn about composition, color theory, color mixing, and basic painting techniques. If you’ve ever wanted to learn to paint, this is your chance. Go home with your personal masterpiece and a new-found talent to explore.

The gourd birdhouse workshop is for the birds! Learn to both craft and decorate your own gourd birdhouse starting with a well-cured gourd and using tools and paints to create a one-of-a-kind work of functional art. With a shortage of cavities available to wild birds, your gourd birdhouse will be filled in no time! You’ll choose what size hole to cut based on the type of bird you want to attract, clean the inside of the gourd, and paint the outside with the guidance of a skilled artist.

Goat Milking/Husbandry Workshop
This workshop will focus on the home dairy goat. We will have goats on-site for hands-on practice in conformation assessment, trimming, and milking (not to mention petting!). Topics include: 1) Why goats? 2) How to choose a goat to suit your needs (size, health issues, purpose). 3) Physical traits (conformation) and why it is important. 4) Management requirements (housing, feeding, and health care). 5) Practical instruction on trimming feet, giving shots and oral medications. 6) Milking by hand and machine. Handouts will be provided and by the end of the workshop you will know the basics for keeping dairy goats at home.

Like last year, we’re offering the retreat as a complete package–all workshops, supplies, meals, accommodations, and activities included. If you are local, I encourage you to attend and stay in the cabins for the whole experience. Registration is open to adults only (18 or older). The CITR retreat is a full-on blast where grown-ups are the kids.

This is your time and we are committed to giving you the time of your life.

Ready to sign up? Your adventure starts here!

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The Slanted Little House

"It was a cold wintry day when I brought my children to live in rural West Virginia. The farmhouse was one hundred years old, there was already snow on the ground, and the heat was sparse-—as was the insulation. The floors weren’t even, either. My then-twelve-year-old son walked in the door and said, “You’ve brought us to this slanted little house to die." Keep reading our story....



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