Five Days on the Farm


We’re just coming down from five workshop days on the farm here. It was a blast. Fun, exhausting, busy, fantastic! The attendees always make these workshops what they are, and this was a wonderful group. Laura, my co-teacher, and I had such a good time with them.

We started out with two days of cheesemaking. Every day starts with milking the cow, of course! We made as many cheeses and other concoctions that we could fit in to two days. Mozzarella, sour cream, cream cheese, ricotta, cheddar, romano, and a few more. The homemade butter was a special hit. I wished I’d had my camera when one attendee licked the butter spoon right after we finished making it. (There is NOTHING like fresh butter! I could have licked the spoon myself!) See below–an attendee did grab a photo of the butter spoon lickin’.

On the baking day, we made biscuits, pies, and various breads including a session grinding grains led by Laura.

I mean, Maia.
Yeah, Maia is a great teacher! Or something! She is very interested in grinding grains, as you can see.

On the soap/herbs days, we started out with a morning nature walk to collect wild edibles (some of which ended up in salads later) and herbs. We made bar soap, and lotion and sugar scrubs along with various herbal medicinals and salves.

During it all, I also served three meals a day. I love to cook for attendees at retreats. I fed them fresh farm eggs and biscuits and French toast with raisin bread. Fried bologna sandwiches, grilled fresh mozzarella, and ham/potato soup with spinach and artichoke. Pizza with fresh mozzarella, chili, and beer-braised brats on the grill. Carrot cake drizzled in maple syrup, apple dumplings, chocolate mousse. All with homemade “Glory Bee brand” ice cream. They went away plumb full, let me tell ya. They also went away with lots of take-home goodies they’d made themselves during the workshops.

Some attendees came for all five days. Some for four, some three, some two. Some came from as close as Charleston, others from hundreds of miles and states away. Every day, they were a fun, chatty, laughing bunch who were a joy to teach. I am terrible about taking photos during workshops because I’m busy during workshops, but this group was a picture-takin’ bunch and I asked them if I could use their photos so you could get a glimpse into a retreat at Sassafras Farm.

These photos are from Debi Ellis.
Some photos from Beth Frampton. (You’ll see a tent in the first photo here–one of our attendees camped all week.)
A few pics from Laurette Guay.
And some milking pics from Cynthia Bledsoe. I demonstrated machine milking, and all attendees who wanted to got a chance to hand milk. The “infamous” butter spoon lickin’ picture is here, too!

Laura and I will be repeating this five-day series of workshops starting August 28. I also have two two-day “Primitives & Pioneers” (arts and crafts with old-time pioneer-style canning and cooking activities and recipes) workshops coming up in September and October with co-teacher Kelly Walker.

See my Retreats and Workshops page for all the information. We’d love to see you on the farm!

And thank you, thank you, thank you to all the attendees here this past week. You were fabulous!

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I Didn’t Want That Bush Anyway


The goats have been super busy cleaning out my gardens of everything living except for the mint. Of course. The mint could use some pruning, but they aren’t helpful like that. Hopefully, I will finish the fencing I want to get done before the summer is over so that in the future I’m not letting them roam quite so freely as I am now. I’ve been letting them out every morning to graze wherever they want, which of course has included grazing down my rose bushes–which weren’t doing very well anyway–and this large bush that is blocking the path of the tractor to the upper pasture.

I’m planning to have all those bushes torn out, along with the two (unused) satellite dishes. Those dishes and that large bush need to go because that is the only path to take the tractor to the upper pasture. The goats might as well enjoy the bush while it’s still standing.

I’ve had a love-hate relationship with the gardens around the house and studio since I moved in. They’re a little high maintenance for my tastes. I finally came to the conclusion this year that I would tear them out and start over with something that suited me better.
I think the goats are really enjoying this plan. Though they might not be so happy when I get the new super-tight fencing installed in their new field between the barnyard and the house!

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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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