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outdoors — Page 2


Primitive Skills

March 5, 2014

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Primitive-Skills Primitive-SkillsWhen my boys came home to homeschool last year, I was very interested in finding them an outdoor environment in which to be involved. I sent that intention pretty clearly into the universe, in the hopes that it would manifest into something tangible. Little did I imagine that just a few short weeks later I would be writing an article for Rhythm of the Home on a woman who had begun a small, cooperative type farm on her property. Rosemary had been an acquaintance for years, but I had never before heard of the work of that she was doing.

The boys now had a place to learn those things that our home environment simply could not do. Rosemary’s farm, in the past year, has become a second home. The boys attend farm school there once a week, and have recently begun a full homeschooling class with new lessons each month on such things as chicken husbandry, horse maintenance, and learning about a larger garden than our side yard can handle. It is an opportunity to give them skills and knowledge that is being lost in our world today, and also to be able to do so in an environment with a teacher besides myself. Both of those things are very needed.

This past weekend, Rosemary hosted a special class on primitive fire making skills. Using both a bow drill, and flint, the boys had a unique opportunity to learn from two men who have been crafting this lost art for many years. Rico and Alex took three hours to sit with a small group of children, patiently guiding them through the basics of beginning a fire with these tools. I believe that the event was made even more magical by the 12 degree temps and freshly fallen snow that reminded the kids that fire is a very useful tool when it is cold and wet.

Did the idea of, “We have matches now, is this necessary?” cross my mind? Of course. Looking to the past for new skills is not about shunning the technology of today, although it is often referred to as just that. Rather it is a way to connect ourselves and our children to the process of something, and to the world in which they live. Learning this skill teaches them so much about how fire can be created, and the science behind that is awesome. It also connects them to their own hands, and the ability to create like very little else. There is a need to remind our children that they have the tools necessary to survive on very little. That knowledge can’t afford to be lost, no matter how far technology comes.

About half way through the first hour of the class, I looked at the teachers and said, “My kids are going to start building fires in the backyard, aren’t they?” That is exactly what has happened. Bows and flint, wood and rain are all being tackled with a little bit of success, and a lot of heart. It is not an easy skill to learn, but they are keeping with it, and they are more than a little excited at the year’s first camping trip to show off what they have learned.

Primitive skills might not be something that we use everyday, but they are incredible learning tools for adults and kids alike.

To learn more, you can check out this wonderful set of videos from You Tube, and Rico’s blog (Check out these incredible hand carved bowls and spoons as well!) 




First Harvest

Salad Bowl

As the sun is just beginning to warm the earth, the subject of gardening is one that I have been loving daydreaming about. 

I think that I have mentioned before that I live in a fun environment where suburbia and farming mix. My neighborhood is surrounded by a raw dairy and a horse farm, but still has quick access to the joys of our rapidly growing town.

When we first bought this home ten years ago, I am pretty sure that we never thought that we would stay here this long. It was a quick purchase, as we tried to make new jobs and a new baby work while having no idea of what we wanted long term in a home or a life on land. Since we signed those papers, there have been moments of joy and moments of sadness as we tried to fit our desires for our children into our back yard.

Homesteading has become perhaps one of the hottest topics around, and with such subjects as genetically modified foods and pesticide contamination coming into the forefront of social discussions, returning to growing our own food is taking on a resurgence.

Getting Ready to Grow

Gardening is something that I love to do, and homesteading is something that both my husband and I dream of. The idea of raising bees for real honey, chicken for fresh eggs, and perhaps a goat or two for milk is part of a conversation that occassionally we allow ourselves to have. The reality, however, is that our small backyard garden is as much as we will be taking on in the near future.

Two raised beds, one small plot and a 60×10 plot just a few miles away in our local community garden has served our family well, abundantly actually, and has allowed us to teach our kids about the joys of gardening, experiment with growing our own food, and feed our family what we love and need. The garden was the first home repair we ever did, and it was perhaps the best “addition” we could have made.

Would I like to raise my kids on a small farm, or at least a larger piece of land? I would. There is no denying that as I look around the internet at all of the wonderful homesteading blogs, or at friends who are taking on the challenge and moving to small homesteads themselves, I certainly feel a pull to connect my family even deeper to the land we all inhabit. There is something special about taking on the task and diving deep into just how sustainable one can be. It would be a beautiful thing to see my kids get up each morning, and with bucket in hand milk a cow or tend a flock of sheep, but in this present moment, that is not where or who we are.

In this moment, however, we are able to tend our soil each spring, to teach our kids just how important good soil and nutrients are to the food that they grow. In this moment, we are able to peruse seed catalogs, each picking something new to grow in our own back yard. In this moment, we are able to turn the soil, plant those early spring crops, and visit with local farmers to learn what grows best where we live. In this moment, my boys can anxiously run outside each morning and see if any of those spring crops are beginning to push through the still damp and cool soil. In this moment, we can be content with the one bee hive we are able to take on, and learn everything we can about the bees we will be living in harmony with. In this moment we can look at the back yard we are blessed with, and figure out how to grow just a little bit more each season with what we have.

There are always big dreams of doing more, and a small bit of envy for those who do just that, but it is important for me to teach my kids that dreams take time, and that loving what you have in the moment that you are in is a key to living a happy life.

This post is part of the series Get Real, which was created by Adrie of Fields and Fire and Tonya and of Plain and Joyful Living. It is a series that looks at the real ways in which we each deal with the lives we have created. I hope that you will visit each of the participants, and enjoy their perspectives each week. 

Tonya at Plain and Joyful Living
Adrie at Fields and Fire
Lisa at Hullabaloo Homestead
Melanie at Mama Ash Grove
Kyce at Old Recipe for a New World
Aubrey at This Blessed Life