Well hello, Fall. Took you long enough!

After a glorious and extremely busy Indian Summer, as they’re called around here, fall has finally brought us its first frost! So where have I been?

I’ve been rebuilding bee hives for new packages to arrive in spring.

I’ve been getting the last of the winter squash harvested and stored away.

I’ve been overseeing this year’s goat breeding.

I’ve been covering up the new rabbit cages so that the rain and wet can’t drip into the cage.

I’ve been acquiring rabbits.

I’ve been taking the mastiff on her first ever camping trip.

I’ve been acquiring Grinder’s replacement.

I’ve been planning Frost Fest and attending regular meetings and drum circles.

I’ve been attending an amazing goat nutrition workshop.

I’ve been panicking over the last cutting of hay that never got cut and is standing dead in the field.

I’ve been attending craft shows as a vendor.

I’ve been sub teaching.

I’ve been tanning the last of last year’s hides.

I’ve been saving seeds.

I’ve been making my first attempt at pemmican.

I’ve been learning to propagate fruit trees via stem cuttings.

I’ve been busy.

To really go into all of those things is far too much for one post. I’ll try to hit the highlights but a couple of things are going to get their own announcement posts as well.

Perhaps the biggest change is that Grinder is no more. The big bad jerkface of a goat has been sent to his eternal rest and his horns and skull are being cleaned for display, as they are impressive. He’s been replaced by a really spectacular 100% New Zealand Kiko named DAD Red Man, who came to us via Kidding Around Kikos near Raleigh, NC. The girls he’ll be covering are QRR Fred’s 50% daughters and they won’t be old enough until next year but y’all I am SO EXCITED to see what they produce.

Speaking of goats, all of this year’s crop has been spoken for. I’ll have a batch of hides to work with starting next week. We’ve worked out an arrangement with a second local custom processor who can turn your goat into chops and burger for you. (Please note, we’re not selling meat. We can’t. We will happily arrange transport to the custom processor, who also does not sell meat but processes an animal specifically for its owner. Maryland has very strict rules.) This processor will be kicking back any hides to me to tan. I’ve acquired an additional connection in that market as well, and anticipate being able to sell all of the pelts without any difficulty.

This was part of the conversation during breaks at the recent small ruminant nutrition and body condition scoring workshop that I attended (with a few of my does as practice animals) this weekend. I’m proud to say that my does were pronounced to be both beautiful and in great shape by people far more experienced than I am. Knowing something and having it validated are not the same thing, after all. I met some great people, made some good connections, and came out with a much better understanding of the way a goat’s entire feed intake- not just one aspect of it- can be balanced out for efficiency and performance. It was a very worthwhile drive.

I also found out at this same workshop (because many of the same people are also raising other livestock as well. It’s an ugly truth that you simply can’t make much money on small ruminants.) that rabbits fall under the same volume exemption as poultry. Since I sincerely doubt that I’ll be slaughtering more than 2,000 rabbits a year, I think it’s safe to say that yes, you can buy a rabbit from me and I will happily dress it out for you. First batch of kits from the new silver fox rabbits is expected in March, as well as the second batch of kits from the Giant crosses.

Can I just pause for a moment to express how psyched I am to have a breeding trio of Silver Fox Rabbits? They are beautiful, they are hardy, and they are a little bit of American history to add to my hutches. The breed is listed as “Threatened” by The Livestock Conservancy so I am quite honored to have some potential part in bringing them back. I really am very impressed by them. Go here to read up on why. I think I will go looking for a second, unrelated male in a year or so, after I build more hutches, apparently.

It’s the season for building and repairing, after all. Butchering is the last big step in the annual cycle of events, and there is a lot of prep work to do before soil tests/amendments, rabbit breeding, and kidding all start in February. There’s a huge section of fence to go in, garden boxes to be repaired, and better hutches to build. I got the current additional ones as part of the deal but they’re falling apart. The tannery and the Itty Baby Forge are calling my name.

The work never really ends. It’s rough right now because we’re still doing more building than maintaining. It’s going to stay rough until we shift to more maintaining than building, probably in the next three years, give or take. Happy Fall, y’all. It’s its own kind of busy.

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Thoughts and Prayers Do Not Put Food in Bellies.

If I see one more vapid post about ‘my thoughts and prayers are with Texas’ I will probably snap. Thoughts and prayers do not buy blankets, food, diapers, medicines, or dog food.

Put your money where your mouth is.

Here’s a list of Food Banks accepting monetary and item donations:  http://mailchi.mp/ac80c17d9660/harvey-food-banks

These guys are coordinating blood donations: https://southtexasblood.org/

Here’s an awesome one that is focusing on young kids and families:  http://www.texasdiaperbank.org/

Here’s the link to the Austin Disaster Relief Network if you’re feeling more generic:  https://adrn.org/disaster-relief/hurricaneharvey/

These guys are working with the ADRN to provide clothing and other essentials:  http://hopefamilythrift.org/

Here’s one for the animals: https://www.spca.org/news_hurricane-harvey

Go through this organization to sort out the hard working charities from the scams:  http://www.guidestar.org/Home.aspx

Othala is Not a Hate Symbol

I don’t always agree with this individual. (Granted, I don’t always agree with most of the Heathen blogosphere.) This time, however, I really do.

Gangleri's Grove

1200px-Runic_letter_othalanI saw someone on Facebook today opining that the tattoo they’d gotten so proudly to honor their Gods was now being taken over by a neo-Nazi group. No. Many things can be corrupted and coopted but it doesn’t change the inherent nature of those things. It may alter our perceptions, yes, but othala remains othala, a conduit to a rune spirit of tremendous power, one that has nothing to do with our contemporary politics. It is only lost to hate groups if we allow it to be.

This rune is the rune of lineage and tribe, of tradition, of connection to our forebears, of right order. By that latter, I mean sacred covenants (with Gods, ancestors, land) in place and active. It is a rune of protection, of nurturing and nourishing the family, community, and all tribal bonds. It is that which keeps a community healthy, hale, and whole.  Those…

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“They’re allowed to state their opinions. They’re even allowed to assemble and shout their opinions loudly. They’re not allowed to devolve into violence. They crossed a line yesterday. I will continue to piss off all of my associates by maintaining that I’m proud of my heritage, that I don’t hate other cultures, that the corporate/banker oligarchy currently whoring out our country is the real public enemy, and that if you want to chant ‘blood and soil’ you’d better be talking specifically about a patch of dirt somewhere that knows exactly what your blood and sweat tastes like, not inciting a riot on land that has no idea who the fuck you are.”

This was my response on social media after the events in Charlottesville, VA. It’s the only response I could have made since the first part of it is word for word what I said when the BLM rallies became riots.

The reason I decided to write some more is because the statement spawned such an interesting conversation via social media.

One side of my family has been here since 1634. Not ‘in America’ I mean in this county. Right. Here. They’re mostly old Saxon families. The other side is a really interesting blend of German and Scottish immigrants which almost started a riot on its own but they were all Catholic (making them religious minorities in their home countries) so it was ok. Barely. I’m from the same genetic pool that produced staggeringly beautiful art and music as well as damned delicious beer and became something of the butt of their own joke regarding work ethic and punctuality. I feel like I have a legacy to uphold. What makes my pride different is that if someone from a different background wants to acknowledge and celebrate and uphold their cultural legacy I’m much more likely to encourage and support them then tear them down.

Make no mistake. There are real, measurable differences between cultures and ethnicities. There are people who make their living figuring out to which race (yes that’s the word they use, too) a given set of remains belongs, for example. If there were not profound differences between cultures then dignitaries would worry less about accidentally offending people. Do not misinterpret- differences are not inherently bad and they carry ZERO implication of superiority. See, I remember being a kid and being told that it was ok that we weren’t all alike. “It takes all kinds” after all. When I hear people screeching that we all have to be the same I get pretty pissed off, too. We’re not the same. AND THAT’S OK. Hear me? IT’S OK TO BE DIFFERENT.

That’s part of the problem. As a fairly moderate person in many respects, not only political, I DO feel like I’m being lumped in with the goons in the far right whether I identify with them or not. I DO feel like acknowledging that I like and am inspired by my cultural inheritance makes me a target for shrieking accusations. I DO feel like shoving my German and Scottish background under the rug of ‘white’ or ‘American’ or even ‘Marylander’ is a form of erasure and I’m not OK with that. (I’m even less OK with the cheap commercialization of my ancestor culture’s stereotypes but I got literally screamed down last time I brought that up.) I don’t want to wind up lumped in with literal Nazis. I’m not motivated by hatred like they are but I do begin to understand the frustration that makes moderate people start listening to their rhetoric. The far right is a dumpster fire and the left needs to stop backing people into corners. I have been tossing the idea around in my head that what we are seeing right now is, in fact, already a race war. It’s an internal, racial civil war between globalist, leftist whites and nationalist, right wing whites. Those of us standing on the sidelines with broken hearts because everything we love about our German, Scottish, Saxon, Irish, Scandinavian, Slavic and a whole bunch of other European cultures is getting trampled in the process have got no platform and we are beginning to feel the social squeeze.

It’s so bad that I don’t even know if I have the guts to use my own sacred symbols on social media. That makes me angry. I don’t get angry very often. Don’t kid yourselves because I am equally (here, have some irony) angry with both the tunnel visioned, uneducated supremacists on the right and the shrieking mob of indoctrinated mostly upper class youth with hurt feelings on the left. The uneducated manchildren who don’t even understand that the flag they’re waving for “Muh South!” never actually existed have become an embarrassment at best and have crossed into the territory of domestic terrorism at worst. The screeching reactionary brats on the left who would rather scream down attempts to understand their positions than actually talk about them are exactly the same as far as I can tell. Neither represents our nation and I want neither to represent me personally.

And I do want my symbols back. The Sonnenrad is a Migration age (at least) Nordic symbol for the sun. As near as I can tell, the Waffen-SS either found or had done the same symbol inlaid on the floor of a castle they refurbished for their headquarters. They claimed the symbol as their own. Interestingly enough, the symbol wasn’t connected in the public mind to the Neo-Nazi movement until about 30 years ago when it began to surface in groups looking for an alternative to the more recognizable swastika. Guys you are not nor will you ever be the Waffen-SS. That symbol is a lot older than your modern insecurity. Give it back. And you over there screaming that I can’t use it because it’s offensive please grow the hell up. It’s older than you. I love the Sonnenrad. It’s ours and it’s holy and you can’t stop me.

You know why I love the Sonnenrad so much? It’s a sun wheel. It’s a Nordic sun wheel. Just about every ancient culture has some variation of a sun wheel, but they’re all a little bit different. I wear a Sonnenrad because this is how my cultural ancestors did ‘sun wheel’. To me it highlights our cultural uniqueness and our ‘stuck together on the same planet dealing with the same shit’ -ness simultaneously. It reminds me that legends inspire and warn simultaneously. It reminds me that even in bright daylight there are shadows and mysteries and that labels divide as much as they unite. It’s ours and it’s holy and it deserves to be used with respect.

I am not at all pleased with the violent outbursts from the diseased extremities of our increasingly restless society. I can say that on the balance I have been *very* pleased with my clan of blood and heart-friends as we strive to celebrate our faith and our culture with a love and a pride that are free of the stain of hatred. We have enemies, but those enemies are not Blacks or Jews or even Leftists. The enemies are the bankers and megacorp CEOs that are treating our country like a chessboard and manipulating each and every one of us for their profit, whoring out our dollar to foreign countries where humans are treated like trash, and making it increasingly difficult to stay afloat financially. We need to look up for the enemy, not across at one another.

If you need me I’ll be busting up the weed mat in the fall garden before it takes over my baby delicatas. Because *actual* blood and soil.

Out.

Site Updates

In case you didn’t notice, there have been some major updates to the site here. I’m trying to make it easier to find the farm information and also not subject anyone to posts about Heathen stuff if all they’re looking for is the farm info. In my defense, the two are pretty closely connected.

The home page is now a static welcome page with a basic introduction and a quick run-down of “where’s what” for convenience. Posts are now under the ‘Blog’ tab with an easier to navigate “From the Farm” page listing what’s currently for sale. The Calendar is still on its own tab. There is now a dedicated “Contact Us” tab for any and all inquiries about items and animals and upcoming events.

How it works.

It’s been a tiring, fulfilling, and not coincidentally heathen few days here at the farm. That’s kinda how it works around here.

The local friend who cuts our hay was finally able to make it. Turns out the delay was due entirely to Circumstances Beyond His Control and he wasn’t too thrilled about the damage to his machine either but we’re all mowed and raked and baled and stacked just before the rain hit. Timing. And phone calls. By the time he was able to bale everything the rain was obviously on its way. Bales that get rained on usually rot so you may imagine my panic at the situation, especially having just opened the Very Last Hay Bale that morning to feed the penned buck. But you know what happened? I have some freaking amazing friends is what happened. I called a couple of folks to help out and within the hour I had almost a dozen people (including one already there helping with a massive painting job) who got 160+ bales all stacked up in the hay shelters before a single drop of rain could fall. So I fed them pizza and beer because damn that was a lot of work.

Then we went out to offer an assist (and a company) to the Longship Co. and came back with some fresh ideas for fun and mischief as well as a few leftover steamed crabs. I love living on the Chesapeake. Also, look out Earthweavers, we’re bringing more Heathens this year. You’ll love them. We do.

And then today our brewer showed up with leftover peach pulp just as I was finishing up freezing a batch of squash and while the first batch of pickle relish was just going into jars. Now there’s a batch of peach preserves cooling in jars, too. When I took off from the kitchen it was to go return part of the weekend’s earlier gesture and help relocate a small chicken coop and half a dozen chickens.

Because that’s how it all works.

Tribe pulls together. It’s so much more than just getting together around a fire once a month (although that’s definitely one of my favorite group bonding rituals.) It’s being there to help someone practice for a test, or paint a deck, or move furniture, or celebrate a season, or get the hay up, or get multiple uses out of a batch of fruit, weed the garden, weed another garden, plant a tree (no, I haven’t forgotten you!) and be there when we each need some help.

You can honor the gods and the ancestors and the planet on your own. You really can. You can study history and lore and crafts on your own. You can’t be tribe on your own. Having worked this land and walked this path for so many years without anyone to help, to support, to crack jokes or bottles with, let me tell you it stirs me to my soul to know that you are all here.

Thanks. Hail all y’all.

Summer is underway!

It’s a business and a busy-ness, I assure you.

In case you missed it, the workshop had a great trial run at Cecil’s Old Mill Craft Fair last month. Everyone wanted to come over and see the Viking tent and look at the trays of shiny things. I’ve already got myself onto one more list and am waiting to hear back from a few other options. More information will be coming your way as it becomes available.

Most of this year’s critter crop is doing splendidly- all of the goat kids are looking fantastic and the new beehives have steady columns of scouts going to and from the hives. If you or someone you know is still looking for a promising young commercial buck, send them the previous post about Peanut the buckling. He’s looking awesome and still just as friendly as he can be! Most of the meat kids have been claimed but there are still a few of them left also. In fact the only sour note on the livestock front is that our Angora rabbit doe lost her litter. They were looking great and growing well and then she, being a first timer, didn’t think to cover them up the one cool night we had. They were too young to be left out in the cool and they all died. It pretty much sucks, but unfortunately it’s also pretty common especially for first time rabbit mommas. She’s recovering quickly and we’ll let her try again very soon.

This is the busy time of year for a lot of maintenance projects. There’s a deck to be painted, weeds to be kept down, grass to be mowed, firewood to gather, and always water to tote and stock to feed. I’m marking promising berry bushes and canes for cloning as we look to expand fruit production next year. On rainy days I’m working to pad my inventory for upcoming vends. There’s beeswax candles and I’m warming up my old chainmaille skills while I try to figure out a way to break and soften pelts that won’t exhaust me or any of my help.

And of course sometimes I have to pause and put my achey knee up for a while and remind the internet that I still exist!

As always, keep an eye on the Calendar tab for upcoming community events. Send me a message or stop by at an event to talk about sustainable agriculture, the polytheist revival, Star Trek, historical handicrafts, heavy metal, or whatever else we’re up to at the time.