From dark to light. Blessed Imbolc.

Yesterday evening, leaving my midwife’s house after my 4:00 appointment, I exclaimed, “I think this is the first time I’m leaving when it’s still light out!”.

And this morning, while rising to get Cora ready for Montessori school I was similarly taken aback that we weren’t going through our morning routine in the dark.

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The dark.

It feels like there’s a lot of darkness around lately.  I live a relatively insulated life surrounded by people who value peace, equality, and justice, but the difference between my bubble and what actually exists in the world is hard to accept.

And yet, all things in nature, our world, and our human psychology move in cycles from dark to light, dark to light.

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Just as the winter seems like it can’t get any longer, the light begins to return. I hear birds calling where yesterday there were none.  The tracks of awakening creatures scurrying out of their burrows catch my eye when I walk to the compost pile.

And when my inner landscape looks dark, like I can’t face the realities of this world, the realities of how hard it is for me to parent my 3 year old the way that I imagine, then light returns to my heart, too.  I see her smile and tell me I am the best mother.  I feel new life squirming and growing within me. I see people rallying together for the world I believe in.

 

The world that is coming. The world that awaits when old, outmoded structures of being and doing and seeing from a place of fear are finally put to rest. From dark to light.

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The light is returning once again. We are halfway to spring.

Blessed Imbolc.

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(The photo of Brigid on my altar is by Joanna Powell Colbert)

Read last year’s Imbolc post here.

Gather has some awesome examples of Imbolc fare.

 

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Everyone’s favorite WWOOFer is back!

 

IMG_20160523_122534854_HDRSince the last time I spent some much needed time at Light Footsteps (read about it here), I’ve finally realized that growing things, and teaching communities how to grow things, is actually really important to me. Because of that, I’ve recently started a journey to becoming an urban farmer. Over the past week, however, I’ve taken a break from stressing over the approaching school year to try out a different season at Light Footsteps. You’ll have to forgive me, because the August humidity has all my thoughts jumbled, so I’ll keep the words short and share some photos of this week with you.

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Most of my mornings were spent spreading wood chips on the paths in the Keyhole Garden

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I finally got to meet Pony. I would hate to make him insecure about his size, but in my mind he’s a horse.

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I spent the cooler afternoons picking herbs (peppermint, thyme, oregano, sage, and lemon balm pictured here)

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or beans!

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luckily there were rainy days

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…and there were a lot of sunny days to share with our pollinator friends.

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The bees really love the Rose of Sharon.

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On a particularly sunny day we went to Red Beet Row to see their permaculture farm.

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There was a lot of child-wrangling during the stay. Pictured is another WWOOFers son, Sebastian.

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Cora has grown up so much since I last saw her! (Photo taken at Chardon’s farmers’ market)

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I finished my week off helping Christine share her love of herbalism at a workshop for kids and adults about medicinal plants.

Like always, you can learn more about WWOOF here. Hope to be back soon, but until then, HAPPY GROWING!

Spring updates from the farm

I apologize.  It’s been awhile.

Spring is always this crescendo of activity and energy that can feel overwhelming at times.  There’s so much momentum, growth, doing.

Add to that a family illness nearing its end, a stay in the hospital with little LF, typical spring farm growth, and you have a tiny piece of the puzzle explaining my absence.

However, we’ve still had so much going on around here.  We manage to squeeze projects into any spare moments we can find.

I’d love to share some glimmers of our life around the farm with you!

Continue reading

The Time of Imbolc is Here!

For most of us reading this, we are generations removed from a truly meaningful connection with the land. Gone are the days where stocking a larder meant the difference between life and death. We no longer spend long hours huddled around the hearth, connected to the flame for vital warmth throughout long winter days.

We are no longer wondering if there is enough food and fire to ensure the elders, infants, and breastfeeding mothers can make it through the final months of cold, dark, winter.

For these reasons (and more), we have lost touch with the spirit of this season. We no longer remember why this day (February 1st or 2nd depending on the year) is a time for pause, a time to celebrate, and a time to rejoice.

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Win a Winter Wellness Box! Celebrate Imbolc!

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I’m so happy to share our updated main page for our farm and small business.  It’s a great launching place for people to find this blog, my shop, and learn about upcoming classes.  Please check it out and let me know what you think!

To celebrate, I’m hosting a giveaway where you can win one of the last Winter Wellness Boxes that remain.  (In general, there are very few left, so if you’d like to try one, learn more here.)

If you’d like to try to win one (why not?!), just follow this link to my Facebook page and leave a comment on the pinned post at the top.  I’ll be choosing a winner tomorrow (Wednesday, January 27).

Also, we’ll be having a gathering to celebrate the Earth-based holiday of Imbolc at our farm this Saturday.

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Photo by Joanna Powell Colbert

Imbolc is the halfway point between the winter solstice and spring equinox.  For our ancestors, this would have been a time of great celebration as the signs that spring would indeed return begin to show up now — baby lambs are born, snowdrops might poke their heads up from the snow, and the days are starting to get noticeably longer.

We’ll be discussing the history of Imbolc while doing some traditional crafts and eating seasonal snacks.  I’d like to use this time to gather feedback from the community to see how we can continue celebrating the Wheel of the Year in the future.

Let me know if you can come on this events page.  I hope to see you there!

You can also read what I wrote about Imbolc in a past blog post.

 

Reflections from a WWOOFer

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Madeleine Zimmermann / Allegheny  College Env. Science + Studio Art / Class of 2018

“But ask the animals, and they will teach you,or the birds in the sky,
and they will tell you; or speak to the earth, and it will teach you,
or let the fish in the sea inform you.” [Job 12:7-8]

“Madeleine, have you ever heard of WWOOFing? Makenzie and I want to go to the Southwest over winter break and WWOOF.”

It was early September and I was sitting around a table with some friends at our student-run coffee shop. I was plunging my tea leaves in and out of my hot water. I had never heard of WWOOFing and I didn’t have nearly enough money to travel to the southwest over break but later that night I went back to my house and pulled up the World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms site for the United States.

Three months later and I was packing up a suitcase with a ten days’ worth of clothes. Within those three months I had overcome a stripping case of pneumonia, the death of two of my friends, and the long list of struggles that came with my dad losing his job after 20 years. I was in much need of spiritual rejuvenation.

Driving to Chardon, Ohio was more than a cosmic coincidence. My grandmother lived in a town over and for the first time since her passing in 2011, I drove by the exit to Chesterland. Continuing on to Light Footsteps Farm, I passed the same Marc’s in Chardon she loved to go to every weekend that we visited. It was at that moment that I realized that this was a homecoming for my soul.

After over a week of Michael and Christine sharing their home with me I’ve been given some time to reflect on my experience. In that time I have cleared paths and planted trees. I have butted heads with societal ideologies (metaphorically) and hungry goats (literally). I have witnessed the healing power of the earth in the jars on Christine’s shelves and sun that warms new life. In that time Michael and Christine have shared their honest opinions and advice on everything broad to specific: from general medicine to geriatric health care, childbirth, and vaccinations. They have shown me what it means to be a pioneering family wrestling to spread knowledge and heal the earth while still being genuine. Christine has taught me how to find empowerment in my womanhood, how to establish internal affirmation even when societal norms plant doubts and fears, and how to fearlessly be a caretaker. Michael has taught me how to question reality while still being confident in who I am and my place within the environmental community, and how to be an expert learner above all else.

Ralph Waldo Emerson once defined a weed as “a plant whose virtues have never been discovered.” Spending time with a family who is building their lifestyle around permaculture, I’ve been able to find virtue in every living thing, and even do the same for the “weeds” in my life.

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Mui Mui and Lucky brush noses


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Scooby watches the snow fall from inside the warmth of the barn

 

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the morning sun glowing from behind the treeline


Christine explains how herbal tastes can convey their actions.

Christine explains how herbal tastes can convey their actions.


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the snow didn’t last long / Margaret (another WWOOFer) and Cora’s salutation to the sun


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Vincent poses for the camera


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Vincent and Lena wait to go on a walk


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Margaret and Lena


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the chickens scratch through the new straw


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Scooby proves she is civilized enough to get food for herself


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new product photos


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radish sprouts in a tabletop aquaponics system


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goodbye new friends, until next time

 

 Learn more about WWOOF.

 

 

 

Our Year on the Farm – 2015

I had fully intended to upload these photos to the blog, but mistakenly uploaded them to the main Light Footsteps website. Instead of doing everything all over again, I hope you’ll hop on over to see this post in its entirety – I think you’ll truly be inspired by our 2015 on the farm!
Come join us next year!

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I’ve been taking these last days before the New Year to slow way down, reflect, and dream of what I’d like to manifest in the coming year. After the fast-paced preparation for the holiday season, this time of quiet reflection is essential and has been bringing me a lot of joy.

It makes me wonder — how can I keep this appreciation for quiet reflection alive throughout all of next year?

Today I began going through some of our photos from the year and I have to say: none of the reflecting I’ve done comes close to the way I feel after going through our photos.

Wow –  we have accomplished A LOT.  It’s so hard to realize all that is going on when you’re in the midst of life.  Looking back, I feel such joy at what we manifested this year and the beauty of our life.  I couldn’t…

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Next Hands-On Learning Day & Updates

Next Hands-On Learning Day: Saturday, May 23.

Come anytime after 11 AM.  Potluck at 5:30.  Bonfire to follow!! Free camping if desired! Bring drums, musical instruments, questions, enthusiasm, and your free-spirit!!

Now for what we’ve been up to and what you may find to help with….

With this being our first official spring on the homestead, we’ve been working long hours trying to get Phase 1 of our plans in place.

This year, we hope to have our educational medicine wheel garden up and fully functional, add 2500 sq. ft. of keyhole market garden space, and start our first area of food forest.

Progress with the medicine wheel garden...

Progress with the medicine wheel garden…

Making progress on the keyhole gardens...

Making progress on the keyhole gardens…

We’ve also added chickens and bees to the farm.  A few new barnyard creatures should be arriving this week.

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IMG_1643Ideally, we’ll also be putting in a greenhouse or hoophouse this season.

Why, you ask?

Because we are absolutely committed to being the change we wish to see in this world, and we are more eager and ready than ever to share why we love permaculture, homegrown food, herbs, and simple living with our community. We’ve been studying these ideas for well over 10 years and it’s time for us to share!!

Here’s the thing. This is a LOT for us to handle on our own.  We really need your help and we’d love to share some of our knowledge with you! And of course, we’d love for you to share some of your knowledge with us!!

Are you interested in permaculture? Sustainable living? Homegrown foods?

Bees? Chickens?

Do you wonder why a keyhole garden is preferable to long square gardens with rows?

Have you ever heard of a food forest?  Do you wonder why perennial crops are gaining more attention?

How have we done all this without tilling? Why have we tried to avoid that?

Do you know why this plant is one of the most valuable medicines in Ohio?

IMG_1765Have you ever wanted to grow your own medicine and are you curious about why I would have designed a medicine wheel garden?

Do you want to meet some awesome, like-minded people?

Please come visit us!! We’d love to have you this weekend for this next hands-on help day, but we are TOTALLY OPEN TO YOU COMING WHENEVER YOU’D LIKE!!

You can even stay for a week at a time if you need a country getaway!  We are open to anything!

Also, let us know if there are specific things you’d like to learn about that would help us entice you to our home!  We are open to any and all suggestions.

See you this Saturday, May 23!!

The most wonderful time of year….(spring!)

Each season has its highlights, but I don’t think there’s anything quite so wonderful as Spring.
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Everything has me speaking in exclamation points.

Did you HEAR the spring peepers?!?!” I bound through the house asking Mr. Light Footsteps while doing a few twirls.

“You wouldn’t BELIEVE the plants we saw on our walk today!” I exclaim as I fail to contain my enthusiasm and speak through jumps.

I doubt everyone gets quite so excited about such spring-things, but these are the finer points in life that I believe in celebrating.  Continue reading