Palestine’s Fine: Introduction

This is a story about when I accidentally went to Palestine in the Winter of 2014.

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“Wait what? This bus is going to Palestine?”

Surprised, yet not utterly shocked by my circumstance, I was both intrigued and alarmed by the situation at hand. How did I get myself HERE? I wondered.

No stranger to pickles, this was definitely my most unnerving to date. What had begun with a free trip to Israel two months earlier now had me alone, astray, and headed straight into the West Bank via minivan.

Remaining calm, I began to speak with some of the other passengers on the bus. Amongst them was Hanan, a beautiful woman I had noticed earlier carrying a US passport. Turns out she was on her way to Palestine to visit her parents and plant olive trees in an act of defiance against Israeli settlers.

“Hm,” I thought, “a twist.”

Everything I had learned up to that point was from the pro-Israel perspective. I had, after all, come to Israel via a program called Birthright, which sends young Jews from all over the world to Israel for an all-inclusive, highly insulated, 10-day bus trip to learn about Judaism.

Palestine’s Fine: Chapter 1

Hay Day, A Near Miss, and Poke Berries (WWOOF Update)

Hello hello family, friends, et al.

The last week at Mountain Hollow Farm has been pretty quiet, but eventful in a way.

Two days ago I accidentally ran over one of the goats! Oh no! I know what you’re thinking…”Kelly, you’re horrible.” I know. It was horrible, but he’s ok! Miracle. Limping a bit, but surprisingly I don’t think anything was broken. Must have just been his hoof.

How it went down: I had left some feed in the back of the truck (meant for the goats in the lower pastures) and walked away. First mistake. When I returned, the goats (from the upper pasture) had knocked it over and were frantically eating it. Eleos was slow to move out of the way as I backed up the truck and…”G’dunk.” Shit. Sheisse. I see him slinking away, leg straight and dragging. That’s how it happened. We quickly gave him a shot of Banamine, a pain killer, checked him for breaks, and let him rest for the day in the pasture with Fiona, the orphaned baby cashmere goat, his friend. Anyway, a little about that poor goat…

Of course it had to be Eleos, the Angora goat. He’s a special one. See what I mean?

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Castrated, scraggly, docile, and sweet–that’s Eleos, named after the Greek Goddess of Mercy and Compassion, which is fitting (if he forgives me). The fiber that comes from Angora goats is called Mohair. Here is a photo of some yarn made with mohair…real soft and fuzzy…

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Alright, moving on…

The week started with a real “Hay Day,” where we went with some local boys to pick up freshly baled hay from a nearby farmer.

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The farmer, an 80 something year old man, is retired and has a pretty interesting gig buying cows in the spring when they’re babies, letting them graze on his large fields of grass, mates them, and sells them before winter so he doesn’t have to buy feed. A pretty clever gig and use of resources if you ask me.

Here’s a photo of his pretty cows.DSCN4565.JPG

The final adventure of the week involved Poke Berries.

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I attempted to dye a shirt of mine that had some stains that I wanted to cover up. So I picked a bunch of ripe poke berries…

DSCN4509.JPG…mashed them up, heated them in a pot NOT used for food (because poke berries are poisonous), and soaked my shirt (which had been pre-soaked in a mordant bath of vinegar).

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But, it turns out my shirt wasn’t 100% cotton like I had thought…because as soon as I rinsed it, all the color went out…blast…all that work for nothing.

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Did have success with dying yarn though. It was 100% wool and turned out like this:

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That’s all for now.

Hope everyone is having a good week and enjoying the shift from Summer to Autumn.

All the best,

Kelly

 

MacGruber Wreath- Step-by-Step

Calling all Crafters and Florists:

What can you do with unbent paperclips, some twine, and stuff you collect in the forrest…make a wreath!

DIY Autumn Wreath

Rita Reinecke Design

If you’re clever, like McGruber, you can make this without spending a dime.

Here’s how:

You will need:

  • the great outdoors
  • clippers

collect:

  • moss
  • ivy
  • hearty foliage (like so…)

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You will also need:

  • wire or string for wrapping
  • straw
  • floral pins (or paper clips, think “MacGyver”)
  • ribbon or twine to hang your wreath

Note: moss is not 100% necessary. If you can’t find it outside, you can buy it at a craft store, or just skip it.

Now, let me explain:

  1. Start with your ivy or twine and make a ring

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2. Cover the ring with hay or straw, wrapping it as you go, handful by handful, with string or wire, tightly. Remember to secure the beginning and end of your wire wrapping. I usually tie it off or twist it around itself. You’ll figure it out. Remember, you are a great ape.

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3. Next, if you can find some, wrap a layer of moss around that.

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4. At this point, the wreath its pretty as is! Make a loop for hanging with rope or ribbon

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5. Next, I’m so sorry made an epic fail and forgot to take a picture of this intermediary stage…take your hearty foliage clippings and layer them starting at the top, working down and counter-clockwise, while wrapping the stems with your wire or string…see how my hands are, that’s how you should layer the foliage. Keep it organized, it will save you a headache later, and try to avoid wrapping the leaves down flat, aim for the stems. This step requires some dexterity but it does not have to be perfect, because you will cover this part with your flowers/etc…

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6. Finally, use floral pins or unfolded paperclips (easier, cheaper, more accessible) to pin your nature walk treasures to your wreath. Remember symmetry generally makes things look good. Work on your wreath while it is hung up, stepping back every now and again to assess your work from afar. Don’t be too critical, it doesn’t have to be perfect. Go with your instincts. DSCN4650.JPG

7. And Voilá! A beautiful seasonal wreath.

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Add ornaments for a season appropriate display

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Rita Reinecke Design

Questions, comments, frustrations to vent? Did I make it seem too easy? Note I made my wreath over a period of a few days because I do not have the patience or attention span to do it all at once. Let me know how it goes if you make one!

I learned this style from my wonderful WWOOF hostess Rita in Berlin last fall. Credit where credit is due. Thank you Rita!

xoxo,

Kelly

Weekend Update – Yarn Store

Hello all,

Just another weekend update from Mountain Hollow Farm over in Tazewell, Tennessee.

This week I spent hours and hours shovelling shit. It was good.

And I finished burning that wood pile…see before and after…(Notice the giant pile of sticks and logs behind the burning pile of wood),

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…and now its pretty close to all gone. See?

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I also spent many hours shelling beans, picked from the LMU Garden Club in Harrogate, the next town over.

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…and made soup beans, nutritious and delicious (click here for recipe)

A note about beans, which I learned from a sort-of strange homesteader girl with a wonky eye: most commercially grown beans (think-canned beans) are artificially ripened by spraying Roundup (or something like that) on the crop, which ultimately kills the plants, but has the benefit of encouraging the plant to make a last-ditch effort at spreading its seed, i.e. ripening the beans. So, the chemicals make the crop ripen all at once, which makes it easier to harvest, since everything ripens at the same time (cost-effective). But, mo’ money, mo’ problems, I say, since the soils and groundwater become contaminated and ain’t no fixin’ that down the line without a pretty penny for clean-up.

Beans grown without chemical additives ripen more slowly, making it more complicated and time-intensive to harvest (more expensive), but I say the trade-offs for human and environmental health much outweigh the extra cost of organically grown beans. Buy organic.

Phew, getting off my soap box meow…

What else, well, the horse started engaging with me more than just eating the hay I bring to her on a daily basis. Its happened two times, where I fake run and then she actually runs and kicks her back legs up…and farts a little bit as she runs off. Its hilarious and I try not to be embarrassed for her since farting is natural.

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Also, here is a cute picture of Fiona, an exceptionally friendly 6 month old Cashmere goat, eating watermelon.

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That’s all for now folks, sorry I forgot to write about the Yarn Store. More on that later. That, and Poke Berry natural dye.

Thanks for reading!

xo

Kelly

 

 

 

Sunday Funday

Hello All,

Happy Sunday, again. Made it through another week, again, with a full moon, woo!

Updates from Mountain Hollow Farm:

The male goats are in “Rut” which to me means smell really bad and are feelin’ frisky. Apparently they do all sorts of gross stuff to make themselves “attractive” to the female goats, who are grazing in a separate pasture for the time being. One thing they do is pee on themselves. If thats not gross enough, they also pee in their own mouths and on their faces…goats are weird, man.

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That goat right there is my homie, he’s from California. He’s a cashmere goat. Pretty creepy looking but has valuable fur, so he’s alright. Yup.

Hm, what else? Well, I’ve been learning to knit, which is a perk of working on farm that raises Fiber Goats. The first week I got here, the farm sent out a batch of unprocessed Cashmere to be spun into yarn by an outside company. It looked like this when we sent it out:

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These are the goats which the fiber above came from:

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The lighter cashmere came from the white goats, and the darker cashmere came from the dark brown goats, which I thought was interesting since the goats are so much darker, but the cashmere comes from their undercoat, which is apparently lighter.

Ok.

So, my first project was to make felted coasters, which was pretty easy to master but I haven’t finished felting them yet, so I don’t have a picture to show you. My second project was a baby hat, which I made for my dear sailor friend Princess, since she’s having a baby in January. Here’s a picture of that project, which I have since completed an am now moving on to socks, my highest knitting goal while I’m here.

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Yay.

As far as work goes, I have been working on the garden, see below. First I weeded it, which was easy since the weeds weren’t very root-bound, thank stars.

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Today I worked on it some more, with the help of the farmers husband, who just got back from a delivery in Texas. (He’s a truck driver and is gone most of the time, much to the displeasure of my hostess).

This is what the garden looks like now, we’re working on the beds.

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Garden project, in progress

 

Other than the garden, I have been working on burning a woodpile, which doesn’t sound very interesting but does require a lot of work, and am almost done with that.

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Gotta go, taking advantage of the fire by having a few local homesteaders over and roasting hot-dogs and marshmellers.

Lots of love to everyone still reading this.

xo

Kelly

 

Ps. a good substitute for swearing: say “curses”…so good.

 

 

 

History Lesson – Cumberland Gap

Don’t worry, I’ve already turned myself in to the fashion police for wearing those socks with those sandals. In other news, today I went through 3 states: Tennessee, the Volunteer state, Kentucky, and Virginia, which apparently is for lovers, all in about 15 minutes.

virginia is for lovers

 

The mission was to visit Martin’s Station, an old frontier fort, which was surprisingly fascinating because there were men in funny costumes talking about frontier trades, such as gun making and blacksmithing. I ate it up, especially because the blacksmith was really cute and made me a nail which I will cherish forever. I swoon.

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Then, to top it all off, a trio of cherubic fiddlers played some 18th Century Irish and American tunes and shared a little info about music on the frontier, which I also ate right up. Too bad I already missed the annual Indian raid reenactment, sounds like quite a show and I wonder how they’ll deal with the scalpings.

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And here’s a not so good photo of the general area I’m staying in. Those are Appalachian Mountains and I was at Pinnacles National Park, which is part of Cumberland Gap, a famous military passage way during the Civil War.

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Then, to top everything off, I went into Walmart for the first time in my life and survived.

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More to come.

LOL (lots of love, according to my grandma Helene),

Kelly

Ps. Hi family! Hi Grandma Pat! Grampa, sorry to hear you cut off all the fingers on your left hand today with a table saw. Love you anyway.

Sunday Funday, WWOOF Update

Hello Readers,

Happy Sunday. We’ve all survived another week. Woo hoo.

Today at Mountain Hollow Farm it was a cheese and goulash making sort of day.

It was a free day, and my farm host Beth and I had been talking about making cheese all week, so we started off by making cheese, Paneer cheese, a soft, simple-to-make kind of cheese.

Here’s the recipe we used

Panir Cheese

  • 1 gallon milk (we used goat milk, of course, fresh, unpasturized, unhomogonized)
  • 2 tsp citric acid (or 8tblsp lemon juice) dissolved in 3/4 cups water
  • cheese salt to taste
  • dried herbs de Provence to taste (1.5 teaspoons)

yeilds – A giant ball of delicious softish/stickyish/melt in your mouth mushyish farmers cheese. Will keep about 10 days in fridge if it lasts that long

Process

  1. Heat 1 gallon milk in big pot until it comes to a rolling boil, stirring to prevent burning
    • Note: a rolling boil means you cant stir away the boiling bubbles
    • Note: make sure the pot you’re using is the kind of metal that wont react adversely with the citric acid (cant remember which kind of metal that is, aluminum?)
  2. Once rolling boil is established, turn down heat to LOW and add the citric acid mixture before all the foam dissappears, stir for 15 seconds and then REMOVE from heat
    • Don’t get freaked out by the color change, that is the cheese separating from the whey, which you can feed to your dogs or use in cooking to make biscuits
  3. Gently stir the couldron, so the cheese curds bunch together
  4. wait 10 minutes
  5. ladel out the curds into a cheese cloth, do this over a colander so the whey can continue to drain. catch the whey if you want to use it for something else. apparently its nutritious.  If you cant scoop all the curds out, pour the rest over the cheese cloth,
    • Note: try not to pour the hot liquid over the cheese you already scooped out because you dont want to have it melt through the cloth…leaving you with less cheese to eat
  6. wring out the cheese
  7. add salt and herbs to taste
  8. let hang for an hour or so, or press to make hard cheese, or just eat it like that. Voilá, delicious!

**I miss you Snickers!**

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***

Also,

Goulash was also quite tasty, here’s that recipe:

…meh, I don’t feel like writing it, but follow this link for the delicious recipe. We used more carrots and some turnips and next time I would add some red wine to the broth. We had no caraway seeds but used marjoram and it was fine. YUM.

Ok, if you’re still reading, thank you, here are some other farm updates:

Things I’ve learned/observed:

  • Llamas have very small testicles compared to goats
  • A horses eyelid can get cut and make it look like the horses eye has fallen out of its socket. Then it can be stitched up, and look like new in just a few short weeks
  • Horses and goats eat a lot of hay and drink a lot of water
  • Giant dogs who chase cars can get hit by those cars, hurt their paw, and still chase more cars
  • Giant dogs are difficult to wash and it is difficult to communicate their largeness in photo
Franz

This was at a dog-washing station at a car wash

 

  • Ladies who knit make for lovely company

 

More to come.

 

All good things,

Kelly