Hello folks! Hope you all are well. One thing that has been on my mind a lot since the pandemic, and I think has been on a lot of minds lately, is mental health. It is so difficult while in the midst of a public physical health crisis to also be dealing with a mental health epidemic. Isolation, technology fatigue, and fear of the pandemic are prolifically affecting anxiety, depression, and stress. One thing I am very supportive of is the prospect of medical marijuana and its effects on holistic health. I used to have a lot of doubt and fear around the idea of cannabis, but was inspired by indigenous farmer, political activist, and politician Winona LaDuke to learn more about hemp and cannabis and their affects on the ecological community, sustainability, and health. Thus I created an embroidery line, Buds for Life. I hope you enjoy this line as it develops more. As always, you can order any of my embroideries, and I can confirm prices by email, @ August.firstname.lastname@example.org. Flowers and buds are $35 each, Buds for Life are $45. It takes me about two hours to do each embroidery, and three to complete a Buds for Life.
Descriptions and price ranges:
Backpack: Cost of backpack + cost of ribbons + $15 an hour
Chickens: $10 each
Sheep: $10 each
Small honeybee: $20, Add flowers and leaves $10, Add honeycomb $10-20 depending on style
Custom Logos: $20 + $15 an hour
Moon/planet (can do any custom planet): $25
Ophelia/Human figure and surroundings: $35
*I cannot do hands besides the type seen on Ophelia, I can embroider on virtually any fabric except knits, but may not be able to accommodate all fabrics.
Moths such as Luna moths, or Butterflies such as spicebush: $20 each
Embroidered wreathes: Price varies on size $3 and up $3 for each upsize +$15 an hour. These can include text of your choice, add ons such as chickens, sheep, horses, etc.
Bridal bouquet ribbon embroidery: Cost of ribbon + $15 an hour
Today in class at the WBFP, Mary Berry asked us a question--an essential question that we’ve been wondering since our first class, Homecoming: Good Work is Membership--How does one become native to a place? Earlier in the past week, I wrote about how the concept of “home” has really been a depressing concept in my life. Once we moved from our first house, I will never forget the isolation I felt, move after move, planning to move, unpacking repacking. Even now that I finally feel I have a safe, creative and uplifting house and household, I know it’s not the forever home--and I honestly don’t want it to be. I need to be somewhere I can connect to nature and my spirit guide, somewhere where the wind flies free and the hills run thick with tall, perennial grasses. Somewhere I can work with the earth, grow my own homeland security, and of course raise woolie wonders for fiber arts. While Mary asks how one becomes native to a place, I sit here in limbo, wondering. I wonder what is the proper involvement for one to have if they know they’re going to leave one day? Ultimately, how does one live this way?
It’s an uncomfortable topic for me, this feeling of homelessness within a home. And thus, in the tradition of procrastinating thinking about uncomfortable things, I think I’ll put it off.
What I do want to talk about is Mary’s question, How does one become native to a place? You might know I just finished reading Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall-Kimmer, and have been raving over it ever since. Whelp, it’s time for some more raving! Braiding sweetgrass is a book of traditional ecological knowledge (Native wisdom) and helps us all find our wild side, our peaceful side. She urges the reader to look within and look without the self, look at yourself from the world’s perspective. I read this book for fun, for its beauty, for research, and to understand. I think understanding others is something we work towards our whole life, and are constantly starting over with. Wall-Kimmer writes of understanding, “Native scholar Greg Cajete has written that in indigenous ways of knowing, we understand a thing only when we understand it with all four aspects of our being: mind, body, emotion, and spirit,” (47). She also writes that in order to preserve this indigenous wisdom, and these indigenous ways, we need to practice them. Wall-Kimmer suggests that we shouldn’t copy the old indigenous ways and ceremonies out of context, and also that we can create new ceremonies. These new ceremonies, of course, need to--no, they have to have a lot of meaning, thought, and selfless good-intentions behind them. They should be meaningful to our culture and our identity and ultimately express gratitude, selfless gratitude.
I feel that of this wisdom come three important themes: understanding, ceremony, and gratitude. Now, we lay the framework for becoming native to a place. Wall-Kimmer covers this topic quite a lot in her book, but most intensely in this section I quote. She writes, “To be native to a place we must learn to speak its language,” (Wall-Kimmer 48). Beautiful. But what does it mean? I’ve been thinking about this all day, and what I think “learning to speak the place’s language” might mean is truthfully understanding. This is good work within the farmscape, work worth doing. It involves listening, identifying species, seeing the nature of the creatures, feeling the changes in the weather and the season, waiting for the right moment to harvest, getting to work, and being thankful for it all. Did I hit all the senses? Oh! Smelling the flowers, the grass, the dinner cookin on the stove and wafting down to your rumbling belly. Tasting your home grown medicine and food, knowing that it is a gift from the earth. These gifts should be given willingly, not stolen by humans. You will know when gifts are at your feet. You will know them by their beauty and love. One thing I really admire is when Wall-Kimmer is describing the sounds that she hears, her own sensory exploration, and something more--something that is not me, for which we have no language, the word less being of others in which we are never alone. After the drumbeat of my mother's heart, this was my first language,” (48). We as humans seem to be quite (and i do mean quite) strict with what we consider to be language.
Wall-Kimmer states this strictness in much more blatant terms than I would venture to use, “The arrogance of English is that the only way to be animate, the only way to be worthy of respect and moral concern, is to be a human,” (57) but her word choice is honest. We really only view ourselves (human beings) as having culture, and even still, often bash those with cultural differences from our own. But what about the whales?! Who swim in family groups, all the while singing ‘songs’ to communicate. We really do recognize whalesong as distinct languages today, as we rightfully should. What about the birds? What about the bees? What about our pets? How do ants organize themselves into lines? Language. It just might have different grammatical rules--very different indeed, “A language teacher I know explains that grammar is just the way we chart relationships in language,” (Wall-Kimmer 57). She goes forward with an unlikely example, “The fact is, maples have a far more sophisticated system for detecting spring then we do. There are photo sensors by the hundred in every single bud, packed with light absorbing pigment called phytochromes,” (Wall-Kimmer 65). Reading the language of the changing of the seasons is in our bones as earthlings. I think when we say earthlings, we often are thinking just humans. We so often forget the other creatures on our planet. Sensing spring by the language of light--what a beautiful thing. I think this is another big key to becoming native to a place, not reducing the existence of life (sentient or not based on your own beliefs) to a commodity, a ‘thing’. “ In English, we never referred to a member of our family, or indeed to any person, as it. That would be a profound act of disrespect. It robs a person of self-worth and kinship, reducing a person to a mere thing. So it is that in Potawatomi and most other indigenous languages, we use the same words to address the living world as we use for our family. Because they are our family,” (Wall-Kimmer 55). I feel this deeply. “They are our family.” Which is perhaps why I am tentative to put down roots at my house, here. I want so badly to feel the familiar relations of my earth, those I felt in the Pisgah Forest and the Blue Ridge Mountains. My heart is torn between wanting to be in two other places than my own place. I am so thankful for the safety it provides, the creative space, the loving memories, but it feels devoid of Life. Yes there is are garden notions, a yard (and I had to let the veggie garden go because of mental health difficulties this summer.) But all these things function under human auspices and human rules. And let me tell you, our rules are strict and our auspices often cruel and dangerously carried out. They do not serve well our lawns, our pollinators, our birds, our native plants and host plants for the base of the food chain? We are high on our narcissistic appearances. We go low with our blows to ecology, to mother earth. Wall Kimmer quotes one of the most important philosophers of our time (And a favorite of mine), Father “Thomas Barry has written, “we must say of the universe that it is a communion of subject, not a collection of objects,” (56). We cannot use and abuse our family, that is bad form, uncalled for, and altogether cruel.
Now, I’d rather talk about something cheerful and uplifting. Yesterday was the tobacco harvest for John Logan Brent, The county Judge Executive for Henry County, my hopeful future homeplace. And boy did I feel connected to the tobacco. You may or may not know, but I am a smoker and if you do not wish to read this part about tobacco, skip to the stars!
Today’s work housing tobacco made me really think deep about its history and cultural impact. I was also thinking deeply about its prevalence in my own life and my own choices regarding it. While I know that it is more often than not fatally harmful health-wise, it really has become a big part of my life and a form of ritual. I also acknowledge and accept the chances of health issues that come with this ritual of mine… Anyhow, I have been thinking a lot about where I get my tobacco recently. I used to use American Spirits, light blue, which are “grown in the US”. Most of our tobacco is not grown in the US, it is mostly grown in China, India, and Brazil. Knowing it is imported for very little, I switched to a loose leaf tobacco with more flavor, Drum Tobacco halfzware shag, which I understood was European. Upon further wikipedia research, I learned that this tobacco was not exactly what I thought it was. It is a mix of dark and light tobaccos, but as far as what kind it is and where it is grown, wiki notes, “The two versions of Drum are made in different locations and have different sensory properties. European Drum is barrel-cured in the Netherlands using a centuries-old process, whereas the American version is made at the Top Tobacco factory in North Carolina.” Inspecting my packaging, it notes that it is labeled as a mix of both foreign and US tobacco. Sourcing tobacco is hard, yall. I feel like for me, something so serious (deadly serious) as smoking tobacco should have the option of knowing what you’re smoking. Especially with cigarettes that are not organic, and with the use of chemical pesticides and such. Which is why I’m excited, come November, to try this locally sourced tobacco--grown and gifted by a friend, and harvested together with some of the finest people this side of anywhere. Not a smart decision, but a decision with a lot of thought and meaning behind it.
Some further Wiki exploration unearthed these cool facts as well, “Tobacco is the common name of several plants in the Nicotiana genus and the Solanaceae (nightshade) family, and the general term for any product prepared from the cured leaves of the tobacco plant. More than 70 species of tobacco are known, but the chief commercial crop is N. tabacum.” Wikipedia lists almost 20 different cultivars and varieties, but it seems the number is different everywhere ya look. John Logan said he grew two different varieties of tobacco this year, burley and a cigar wrapper variety. Now, as a lover of KY, and a lover of tobacco, burley is the one. Wiki says, “the origin of White Burley tobacco was credited to a Mr. Webb in 1864, who grew it near Higginsport, Ohio, from seed from Bracken County, Kentucky. [...] In the United States, it is produced in an eight-state belt with approximately 70 percent produced in Kentucky.” It’s a part of our culture, especially in agrarian and rural communities. John Logan didn’t really say what variety the cigar wrapper tobacco was, but upon further research, I have deduced that it might have been Corojo tobacco. “Recently, pure Corojo seed has been propagated in Western Kentucky as the F1 generation Kenbano tobacco in 2007. Currently the so-called "Kenbano" tobacco seed is being raised for future production of hand-made cigar blends.” I thought this was very cool.
Questions remain. What happens to the tobacco once it is sold? What is its journey from cured leaf to value added product?
Regardless, I sit here, proud of the work I did--the work we did, work worth doing. Another ceremony I want to talk about is my ceremony of writing, my ritual, my passion. I’m debating applying for further schooling in either Linguistics or Creative Writing after graduation from the WBFP of Sterling College (VT). I know that whatever I do in life, wherever I go, whoever I am with, I will always write. I will never tire of learning new words and hearing their stories and meanings. I will never tire of playing with rhythm and rhyme, words, language, and languages.
Wall-Kimmer writes of a speaker of the language group Anishinaabe. She talks about a word in Anishinaabe that in all its technical vocabulary, western science has no such term, no words to hold this mystery. “You would think that biologists, of all people, would have words for life,”(49). Different words in different languages have different meaning and cultural significance.
She continues on about the remaining members of her tribe, who is still speak Potawatomi, “I counted them as they filled the chairs. Nine. Nine fluent speakers. In the whole world. Our language, millennia in the making, sets in those nine chairs,” (Wall-Kimmer 50). This made me think of the geology of linguistics. How many myriad of languages have we lost already? Each had their own meanings behind each word, words for phenomena we don’t have words for today. How many languages are we losing today? What stories then pass on to the stars? It is a very despairing thought for someone who loves all manner of words, story, language. Wall Kimmer continues, “We are the end of the road. We are all that is left. If you do not learn, the language will die,” (50). If we do not use and practice these ceremonies of language, they will be lost forever. But it’s not just the words that will be lost, she says. “The language is the heart of our culture; it holds our thoughts, our way of seeing the world. It’s too beautiful for English to explain” (Wall-Kimmer 50). And thus we make our new ceremonies, becoming native to a place by learning its language, “How lonely those words will be, when their power is gone. [...] So now my house is spangled with Post-it notes in another language, as if I were studying for a road trip abroad. But I’m not going away, I’m coming home,” (Wall-Kimmer 51).
In 10 years, I see...
A farm with a little family.
In 10 Years, what will I be?
A witch living between the trees?
This quarantine is giving me a lot of time to think, about life, about love, about who I am and where I am and why. When I imagine, I like to think, what are my parameters? logically, where will I be in 10 years? In the beginning. We are always beginning, whether it be that I am just beginning my farm, or beginning my store, or beginning a masters. Maybe I'll be beginning writing the books I've always dreamed of writing. Maybe I'll be beginning my family.
But if I had a million dollars! There are so many things I'd want to do. I'd buy my farm and a little yurt and live in the forested part of the land. With any luck I'd be deeply in love with my hubby. These are the things everyone dreams about though... a home, a love.
Where am I right now with those things? I love my sweet Brennen, and thank the stars for him each and every night. Our commitment is just to be good to each other, that's our expectation. As for a home, I love this little house I'm living in and am working hard to make it a bridge between Rural and Urban. This week we started our compost, our garden, and are about to start some sourdough starter. See! Always at the start. 10 years will not be a finishing point for me, it will be a starting point. But dreams, dreams.
In 10 years, I'll have stopped smoking.
In 10 years I'll have made money from my book.
It's funny, I sometimes dream about people arguing over my book, arguing about the points I make. Are they right or wrong? Who's to say. We must all decide for ourselves.
In 10 years, the seed library will be functioning like a dream! People will come from all over the county to get seeds and to trade seeds. We'll always be there to bolster the seed with a special seed garden, but I would hope that people would bring in their own seed or save their own seed for their garden.
In 10 years, Momma will move down to the farm to live in her little cabin and retire.
In 10 years, I'll have finally worked my way up to sheep and will be shearing and dyeing, and making my own yarn. I'll be doing well with my online sales and will start a little store in New Castle. I'll be feeding people with the love that I put into my garden and the love that I put into my handmaid goodies too.
In 10 years, I'll have my own fabric line.
In ten years...
In 10 years, I'll have read all my favorite books.
In 10 years, I'll have written my nonfiction books.
In 10 years, my hope chest will be complete and in full use. Does anyone still make hope chests, except for me?
In 10 years, I'll start filling my daughter's hope chest.
Hi, my loves! I have great news! Many of you know that I raise Leopard Geckos, and currently have three. Well, yesterday, Puff laid her third clutch of the season! I got some really cool pictures that I'll post of her digging, the egg laid, and the eggs buried. Puff lays two eggs at a time, except once she laid three. None of the eggs have made it to hatch time because we don't have proper incubation. However, I am starting up my online store on this site and hope you all will support me so that I can get an incubator and see if we can raise babies!
The past few days have been filled with quilting for me! Figuring out the last dimensions of the quilt before I give it a big push and have a big sew day. So far, we're lookin kinda great! Except, Percy did get to have some fun messing up the quilt all laid out last night. Needed some inspiration to get started on the deep red Yo-yo's.
Other than that, I have been working on the book research a little bit. I need to get more into writing, so I'm thinking about doing a 30 day writing challenge and posting my responses on here! If Y'all like it, maybe I'll post prompts for you to do along with me if you'd like!
For now, I must get to some homework! All my love! AugustLee
Hullo folks! Well, I've been enjoying my quarantine with little Persie and Nimma. We've been quilting and organizing and planting! We started our early seeds two days ago, which seems so late to me after last year. However, I am starting them outside rather than indoors due to Persie, my little soil gnome. She's such a stinker! Last week, she knocked our favorite planter off of my fabric cupboard and onto the glass scale. The Planter shattered, the plant was banged up, and the scale was OK, but wow Perse, smooth, real smooth. Ha ha ha! Now, my next task is to build one of those little fairy homes out of the planter pieces.
In other news, I finished something really cool! I finished a baby quilt for Hannah's little baby boy, Ira Lee! Picture will be in the gallery. So, Since I went ahead and got that done, I'm moving on to two other quilts for the year, one for my sweet little cuz, Elizabeth, and one for the KY STATE FAIR!!! Y'all know the one! I can see the end of the light blue Yo's, only about 90 left! The fair is in August, so by June, I'll start applying and stuff! I'm also working on some embroideries, but those are on the back burner right now. Quilt vision and book vision are my world for the foreseeable future.
So about the book, I'm so thankful to all my folks for motivating me and sharing their love with me. It really helps when I'm having a hard day. My book is very hard to write due to all the pain surrounding the topic. If you know me, you probably know what I'm writing about, but I'm keeping it a secret on here. The book is in the approval process from my advisers for my Senior Year Capstone Research Project at Sterling College. And I am still in the research phase. Right now I'm reading Ceremony, by Leslie Marmon Silko; and Year of the Flood by Margaret Atwood.
Hope you all are feeling inspired during this time, it is so important to find joy in the little things of daily life! Some of the things making me feel joyful are the strawberries ripening on my little hanging basket strawberry plant, watching the sun dry the potting soil of my freshly burrowed seeds, the bee house we put up in our backyard, and planning. I have so many dreams right now, and I think it's important to write down these dreams, to remember them and to plan to live these dreams--to incorporate our dreams into our waking hours, to Dream while we are living. Yesterday Brennen and I were talking on the phone since we can't see each other anymore. We talked for hours planning our future camping trips, planning how to practice camping--since he hasn't been--planning how to move forward with our dreams. We share our dreams with each other, and then sometimes we don't. Brennen thinks that it's really cool to not remember one's dreams, to have that dreaming time with no expectations or reservations. He can come into that time and not have to worry about remembering. It's funny, that I like to remember my dreams and he likes to forget his. But remember your waking dreams.
One of my newest waking dreams has been the Kimono quilt I'm making for Elizabeth. I'll post the first Kimono photo, which was my rough draft and first try. I made up the little pattern from a block that inspired me on the internet. Another thing I'm excited for is my herb spiral and raised bed gardens. I still need to get the lumber for the raised beds, the bricks for the Herb Spiral, and the manure for the plants, also my little plants need to grow grow grow! I also have been dreaming about my room lately. I finally got it all organized and am just putting the finishing touches on it. I'm also working on my altar daily, as it is an ever evolving creature. But, for the time being, I think I need to do more work on the Yo-yo quilt. All my love to all y'all!
Well, folks, it's late late late, and I'm just about to go to bed here in a little bit, but I wanted to give you all a quick update! The geckos are doing wonderful in their little home where they are now completely safe from the cats. Yes, Persephone is living up to her name as Queen of the Underworld, destroyer. Her favorite thing remains to be, god help us all, knocking cups over. Her fave is a full cup, she has yet to master soda cans. Brennen is a great playmate for her and a wonderful new best friend for me. Tonight I told him what a soft soul he is--meaning, how he is kind and thoughtful, well mannered and inquisitive. He really is a light in my life!
But more about the geckos! Dab, my new gecko, is still very skiddish, only coming out at night to bask under the heat lamp. She is orange with a white tail, fancy huh! Brennen and I got her at the reptile expo! Y'all know I was itchin' to buy my first snake, but that shall wait until I have the farm. Momma isn't ok with snakes, but I think I can warm her up to them! Anyhow, Puff has laid five eggs so far this season; a clutch of three!!! and a clutch of two! Go Puff! We figured out how to incubate them next to a heat rock, however, none of the eggs have hatched yet, and I'm thinking an incubator must be the best way to go.
As for me, I'm just reading reading reading, doing research for the book (many of you have talked to me about the book and its topic, but I'm still keeping it a secret on here!) Good good news about the book though! I am able to receive credit for it through college by completing it as my Senior Year Capstone Research Project. Right now, I'm stripping my old college papers apart so I can upgrade them to book chapter quality, because interestingly enough, they all follow a logical pattern! Anyhow, I must be getting to bed! I'll post more tomorrow!
Hello Folks! Thank you so much for reading, it really lifts my spirits, even though my spirits are pretty darn high right now due to this wonderful wonderful program. This week we started with our intensive course, Whole Farm Thinking--which is a course to get us ready for farm planning. We're learning the vocabulary, we're learning the mindset, the resources of how to create a business plan. And right now, that means asking ourselves a LOT of questions.
One of the main questions we are asking ourselves is about quality of life. What do we want to get out of farming? What do we want to give to the community by farming? I am looking for a good family life, a good learning and teaching community of people who like to have discourse--good conversation. Henry County seems like the perfect place to start. Good people, good community, good land. Home.
Today we had a visit with Dalton Brown, the man who The Berry Center bought our school farm from. He's 94 and bought the farm in '64, and has been farming his whole life. We had questions for him, but surprisingly, he also had questions for us! Dalton asked us why we came to the WBFP and what we want to do farmingwise. In my life, when I started reading Wendell Berry, it was like I was awakened. Wendell Berry is, in what I have seen, an awakener. He awakens within people a sense of care, a realization of the self and others. Nowadays, as we begin talking about high technology becoming self-aware, we are losing our own self-awareness, our awareness of others, and that of the earth and the Earth. I wanted to have a life of purpose. You see, when one grows up used and abused--for me, I felt like I had no purpose, no choice, no way of escape. But here, I really do have a purpose. Here, I have the ability--the opportunity to look within myself and to know what I want to get out of life, what I want to give to others. When I talked to that man at the UGA Agriculture Department after reading Home Economics, I saw the light at the end of the tunnel. I saw a pathway to freedom. When I heard about the WBFP and their mission to teach farmers to farm well and affordably, I practically jumped for joy. I remember that evening with my mother, just reading about Sterling College from the internet and thinking, 'Why haven't I heard about this before? Why isn't every college like this?' Well, the truth is, there really are a lot of people still asleep. There are so so so many people that have been awakened, young and old. Even in the time of the word "woke" sometimes the "woke" people really are still asleep to the world and to themselves and to Purpose.
We've been talking a lot about limits lately. Working within limits and Not breaking them. I feel like a lot of people--well, no, most people see the purpose of life as breaking free from limitations. However, there is something freeing about working within human limitations; that is the caveat, human. You see, when we work outside of the human limitations, we press ourselves, we change the things that make us human, the things that make us of this Earth. To be continued...
Well, Folks, it's official! I'm in my second semester of Junior year! Today was retreat day, tomorrow is our first day of classes. This semester I'm taking Whole Farm Thinking, Agroecology, Agroforestry, Literature of the Rural Experience, and Draft Animal Power Systems 2. If you don't know what draft is, that actually entails using horses, mules, and oxen to work on your farm. It's extremely fun! Plus it costs less than gasoline powered farm equipment, plus its better for the earth, and on and on and on. If you're just tuning in to the program, I go to the WBFP, the Wendell Berry Farming Program of Sterling College, Look us up! We're really cool!
So for tomorrow's big dessert, I made a huge pot of chocolate mousse and vanilla whipped cream! We have not only the regular gang, but also four Vermonters, and the Amish Kline family. The Klines are visiting to talk to us about whole farm thinking, and I am very excited. I've been thinking really hard about how I want to run Emerald Garden Farmstead/Homestead lately. Watched some educational (University of Youtube) videos about making hay and corn harvesting --with draft power, of course! Then, two more big steps I made today towards having my business is buying and reading a book on spinning and dying yarn, and watched some videos on how to do it with a drop spindle and with a spinning wheel. Tomorrow is the long awaited day that I am bringing my loom for weaving home! Fiber artists unite! I have just so many ideas for things to create! First day and all my accessible homework is done, extracurricular learning is done! A bangarang day!
Disco Chicken of Love
sTate fair ready!
seed starting 2019
ky state fair quilt
A sustainability major at U of L, beginning farmer, crafter, and writer.