Posts in homestead

Pepper. Mixed breed. Seven months old. 38 lbs. Champion beggar. Loves belly rubs. And snow. Super cuddler. Quite the flirt. Scared of the vacuum. Runs in her sleep. Loved more than I can ever say.

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HOMESTEAD : Freedom is What You Do With What's Been Done To You

Happy New Year!

Almost every horoscope I’ve seen for 2016, says it’s going to be a great year for us Tauruses. And I believe it. That doesn’t mean I’ll be going blindly into the year, thinking I'm immune and nothing bad will happen. No, there will surely be challenges, hardships, perhaps even tragedies. I just feel more confident in dealing with them, faith in my ability to get through them. So much of how good our lives are, hinges on our attitude and how we react to what life throws at us. A lot like the quote by Sartre in the title. 

I was afraid that the holidays were going to be sad here. Last year we had one empty seat around our table. This year it was two. Instead of dwelling on that, we tried to focus on the full seats, new traditions and, of course, a little pup named Pepper. 


Christmas morning we opened our gifts, not many since we had opted to invest in hardwood flooring for the bedrooms instead. When we got into our stockings at the end, my Mother explained there was a gift in mine, that “it's symbolic, it has a meaning.” I opened a small package and inside was the wee kid and lamb seen above. So, folks, I officially have the green light to get goats and/or sheep in the Spring! (I'm very open to input on one versus the other, specific breed and fiber preferences and opinions!)

Cheers to 2016!

Here is a song. And another, also by The Mynabirds, which may very well be my anthem for 2016.

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When I was younger, I never thought much about why this farm was named 'Buckaloo View.' It’s just what it was called. I’m a little embarrassed to admit, it was only about five years ago that it clicked: We have a view of the Buckaloo swamp! But, in my defense, in the 20 some years I’ve been here, there hasn’t been a grand view, at least not one to warrant naming this farm after it. The view we had was limited to the treeline at the back of a six-acre field and was only visible if you went through an ever-narrowing path behind the barn. 

To me, the view behind the barn has always been beautiful and impressive. But, of course, I'm biased, with a deep familial love for this place. I don't want to go into the whole history of this farm in this post, but I will say that my family has been here for over 100 years. My great-great parents originally started renting and working this farm sometime around 1904 or 1905. Then in 1920, my great grandparents officially purchased the farm. Slowly but surely, in tough times, lots were sold off and now we only have about a tenth of what it originally was. But I do believe we have the prettiest tenth. And that is very apparent now. 

Those of you who follow me on Instagram have no doubt seen that there have been big changes here at Buckaloo View Farm in the last month or so. We had our overgrown field cleared as well as the area behind the barn. Why we had it done isn't really set in stone yet, so I'm hesitant to talk too much about it. But, in the meantime, it's hard to not talk about that view and hard to not get excited about the possibilities (sheep, alpaca, goats, crops!)

There is something really amazing in the thought that turning this place back into an active farm might very well be what saves it. 

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Meet Pepper

Somehow we managed to become a household with no dog and three cats. Don't get me wrong, I like cats, but I love dogs. Last year, we put our almost 16-year-old dog down. Since then, I've been longing for a pup in the house. Our home life this year was very hectic and stressful and introducing a new dog into the mix would not have been smart.

But still, I kept my eyes open, on the lookout. I was getting daily emails about dogs that met my criteria (a lab mix, under a year old, black, female.) One day, this little face showed up in my inbox and I knew. We submitted an application and the next day we had a puppy. It happened quicker than we thought--so quick that we didn't even have time to puppy-proof the house and had to stop to get food and supplies on the way home. But she needed us. And, in a way, we needed her.

Pepper and her siblings were abandoned on the side of the road in Kentucky. Somehow they made their way to NJ.  She is now around 10 or 11 weeks old and is a mystery mutt. Not knowing who her parents are, we can only make a best guess as to what breeds she is. The general consensus is lab / border collie mix, because of her coloring and the fact that one of her sisters has that classic border collie look. I'm hoping she has that natural herding instinct. Our last dog was a lab / spaniel mix and looked a lot like Pepper but they are very different in personality. 

My days are now spent trying to exhaust the puppy without exhausting myself so I can manage to get some things accomplished while she naps. We all have a ways to go, learning the rules and training and settling back into the routine of having an energetic dog around. 

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The Buckaloo View Milk House

First of all, I want to take a minute to say a quick thank you for the response to Friday's post. And thank you for all of your continued support in regards to Buckaloo View. I never cease to be amazed and touched by the love in this community. I've got a busy month ahead of me if I want to stay on schedule.

Last summer, I got it my head that the milk house would make a perfect little dye studio. At that time, I was knee deep in so many other projects, clearing it out and cleaning it up was not a priority. Instead, I stuck with dyeing under a little canopy in the yard on pleasant days.

Then, in December or so, I felt restless and started working in the barn, organizing and rearranging. Slowly but surely, floor space emerged as I cleared things out. I was getting myself prepped (and psyched) to have a little dye space in the barn come spring. The bitter cold of winter swept in and I took a break from working outside. Fortunately, that gave me the opportunity to mull over things a bit more and get a better plan of attack.

Traditionally, a milk house is just what it sounds like, a small room attached to a dairy barn used as a separate place to store the milk. I spent the first eight years of my life on a dairy farm a few miles from here. (We were not the farmers, just tenants in one of the houses.) There was a massive (at least to a kid) tank that took up the whole of that milk house. I remember it being noisy in there and the tank was cool to the touch. Looking back, I was also very lucky to be drinking that raw, rich Jersey milk (and it may have contributed to the fact that I was generally a pretty healthy kid.) Our milk house here at Buckaloo View hasn't been used for it's original purpose for many, many years and even when it was, it was a time before the large tanks and fancy equipment of our day. Instead, it's been serving as storage for tools and various odds and ends.

As I dig through the layers in the barn, I've been finding so many interesting things, like old wooden toolboxes, one of which must have been my grandfather's considering the initial written on the end. More screws and nails than I could ever possibly need. Graffiti from my cousins. Clever storage solutions. Shearers from my when my Dad's parents had sheep. Delicate bird skeletons. Buckets of rusty old things. Even a receipt from when my Dad ordered baby chicks back in the '70s.

There are some pitfalls to using the milk house as a dye studio, but I'm I can work around them. The pros outweigh the cons. It'll be wonderful to have a designated spot out of plain sight (no more buckets and jars strewn about the yard and sidewalk.) It'll also be wonderful to work even when the weather isn't the best. I can set pots to simmer while I work in the barn on other projects. It faces the south which will make solar dyeing more convenient and effective. And the fact that I'll be adding my own work history in the same place my father, grandfather, great grandfather and even great-great-grandfather once did, is pretty powerful. Each of us did something a little different here, but I too will hopefully derive a certain joy from tinkering away in the Buckaloo View barn, particularly in the milk house.

(I'll share more about the dye studio transformation as it happens.)

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