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homestead happenings: exclamatory

September 29, 2011

Soon after we  bought our house 13 years ago, my friend Kristi brought her little sister over to visit. Traci, who was probably about 17, jumped around our garden exclaiming, “OHMYGOD, TOMATOES! I LOVE TOMATOES! YOU”RE GROWING CARROTS? YOU CAN JUST PULL CARROTS UP OUT OF YOUR YARD? THAT IS SO AMAZING!”

She even bent down over a patch of dandelions and said, “OHMYGOD, WHAT ARE THESE CALLED? I LOVE THEM!”

It was a little bit like having Dora the Explorer over for a garden tour.


Dan always says his favorite month is from September 15th to October 15th, and really, it is sort of perfect. Warm, but not too hot. Cool nights, but you still want the window open. The garden’s pumping out produce, but it’s close enough to the end that I’m not trying so hard anymore. Even the weeds are endearingly annoying, like Col when he plays this game: “Hey Mama!” And I take the bait:  “What?” “Oh nothing.” One minute later, “hey Mama!”

AND THE CHILDREN! OHMYGOD, THE CHILDREN! They’re so fresh and unselfconscious. So comical and utterly lovely. Recently Rose was looking at Col’s penis through binoculars and just as I was wondering if I should say something, Rose barked, “now open your mouth, Coley, I need to see your tonsils.” Okay, just a routine exam.

One minute their minds are like these tidy canal systems, information pouring neatly from one channel to another, data mingling like water in the pools marked “accurate and correct information.” Col asks, as we’re reading about the Yanomamo tribe, “do they have metal?” And I can see an orderly, historical time line laying itself down in his mind.

The next minute there’s a leak in the canal and water is spilling into the street, flooding their cerebral cities. Col is certain that we’ve been to Alaska to visit his cousin Peter but it turns out he’s remembering meeting up with Peter in Hawaii. Rosie is calling out to me from her room, “excuse you, Mama” after I sneeze. “Do you mean, bless you?” “Oh yeah, right.”

And honestly, as much as I love the mental connections the kids are making daily, I also love how cheerfully confused they often are. Recently, leaving a fundraiser and explaining to the kids why I didn’t use my free drink ticket, I said, “you guys know that it’s not safe to drink and drive, right?”

“Yup,” Rosie replied, “because you might spill your beer.”

On the homestead:

The homeschooling thing is going great. I LOVE HOMESCHOOLING! We’re still feeling it out, which I might say every 6 months, but right now I LOVE IT!!! Er, I mean, it’s a really good fit for us.

You won’t be surprised to know that our style falls in the unschooling camp, or the zenhippie approach, which is something like: if you follow a child’s interests, the path will take them exactly where they need to go.

We’ve been studying bridges, which looks a little like this:

And also like this:

And sometimes, like this:

And we had our first hops harvest! OMYGOD HOPS!

Which means this is the winter of beer brewing. Right? You heard it here. I suppose you also heard here that we were building a root cellar this fall. Turns out I was imagining Dan all shirtless and sexy, digging through September. Meanwhile Dan was calculating the cost of a backhoe, and piles of concrete block…anyway, we’re going to get creative. Maybe sink a garbage can full of potatoes and carrots in the ground…coolers full of apples in our shed?

We love having Dan back, especially so he can fish under the fridge with the kids for lost treasures.

And, have you seen the fall issue of Edible San Juan Mountains? It’s the best yet! (note to locals: due to a printing error, the last sentence of my article was cut. Maybe that clears something up).

And now that I’m done promoting the fermentation class, which was super fun, next up, Writing Your Wild Life writing class. I hear there are a few spots left. It’s GOING TO BE AMAZING!

What are you exclaiming about in these last days of September?

28 Comments leave one →
  1. September 29, 2011 11:40 am

    That’s exactly how I look when I’m trying to fish out the last scrapes of Nutella.

    • 6512 and growing permalink*
      September 29, 2011 3:53 pm

      I hear you. It’s really best to have undies on when working with sticky chocolate.

  2. David Smith permalink
    September 29, 2011 11:43 am

    Hello from North Dakota, Rachel. Those hops look incredible – picture perfect. Were they hard to grow in the Durango climate? I’d love to taste the San Juan brew!


    • 6512 and growing permalink*
      September 29, 2011 3:59 pm

      David, when I asked someone at Native Roots how to best care for our hops vines, she said, “ignore and neglect them.” So I did. And they proliferated! Sending love to North Dakota from all of us.

  3. September 29, 2011 1:17 pm

    Duh, we all know not to drink and drive because we would spill our beer if we did! That’s so awesome. I could eat her up.

    I don’t think I will ever stop gushing about your writing. Every time I’m here, I’m awestruck by how you seamlessly create beautiful metaphors that are just so you and yet so sublime at once. All the while, you’re really just relaying basic information like harvesting, schooling and brewing but I’m giddy with anticipation for how it all unfolds in your posts. On top of that, your kids crack me up and you crack me up. I love this part of the Interwebs! Seriously.

  4. September 29, 2011 1:23 pm

    That Rose is a girl after my own heart. Um, for the Nutella thing, not the penis and binoculars thing. =>

  5. Christy permalink
    September 29, 2011 1:36 pm

    I am so feeling Rose and that nutella. And the spill your beer…I will be smiling over that all day! I am so envious over those tomatoes. Our scorching, dry summer did not make for a good tomatoe crop. Perhaps next year. Oh and good luck on the beer! (We are looking into making some wine.)

  6. September 29, 2011 4:34 pm

    Oh my, if my kids only knew that it’s possible to stay home and do Lego’s for school, they would go bananas. And then go on strike, lying down in the road in front of the big yellow bus. And I love the honesty of that shot of Rose with an empty Nutella jar (industrial size); glad to know it’s not ALL homegrown and wholesome up there at 6512.

  7. Emily permalink
    September 29, 2011 5:36 pm

    flooded cerebral cities. love it. and YES! for the zenhippie approach. :>) Is the co-op up and running? I do believe the imagine childhood blog has an arches (bridges? something in that vein) post that I found useful. cheers!

  8. martha permalink
    September 29, 2011 6:11 pm

    Class sounds great. Too bad I can’t take it from upstate NY. Have a great time and thanks for all the humor and sharing and excellence in terms of frayed edges and imperfection.

  9. September 29, 2011 6:30 pm


    • 6512 and growing permalink*
      September 30, 2011 2:06 pm

      I’m totally hearing you sister, all the way from Brooklyn. Yeah thunderstorms!

  10. Emily J. permalink
    September 29, 2011 11:27 pm

    Rachel, you really need to start a business where you contract yourself out to come and stay with a family and document their children. What they say, their daily activities, their interactions with each other……. it’s your million dollar idea! Seriously though, I need a blog so I have a dumping ground for all the hilarity that spews out of my kids mouths. At least a few times a day I think, “My kids say the funniest things, I gotta write that down so I don’t forget…..” The worst is when I come home from work and my husband has been with the kids all day and he says, ” Ella said the funniest thing today… what was it that she said?…..I can’t remember right now but it was REALLY funny” Aaarrgghh!! Love your blog, my new goal is to stop being a lurker and actually comment when I love a post! So here ya go!

    • 6512 and growing permalink*
      September 30, 2011 2:16 pm

      Emily – keep a notebook handy, even scraps of paper for recording “the funniest things.” Have a drawer/folder to squirrel away the scraps of paper in. You won’t regret it. Also, re: coming out of lurkdom, thank you. Comments are the grease in my writing machine.

  11. September 30, 2011 7:08 am

    Ah yes, nothing better than the harvest months. Best of luck with your root cellar endeavors. Here are a couple good links on root cellars that you might find interesting –

  12. Ania permalink
    September 30, 2011 8:30 am

    “Excuse you” is good. I hear “damn you” when I sneeze (my husband finds “bless you” ridiculous so he came up with something “better” to say,… and it spreads).

  13. September 30, 2011 11:42 am

    “Yup,” Rosie replied, “because you might spill your beer.”

    ahahahahahahahah OLORDYOURKIDSAREGRAND. I also love that Rose is rockin’ an adorable pink necklace while essentially naked. I mean, accessories *matter* people!

  14. September 30, 2011 12:47 pm

    What am I exclaiming over? Well, given some of my past exclamations – don’t laugh at me toooo hard –


    Yup. End of the week. Connor misses his gramma and papa soooooo much. Gonna go live by our boy.

    And Rose?! So smart… spilling beers is dangerous indeed! LOL! Love her.

  15. September 30, 2011 2:39 pm

    The sunsets are amazing lately. I keep crossing my fingers I’ll see the northern lights, but I think that time has passed. Such warm days and such cool air moving atop it at night creates these weird, deep-pastel colors in the early evening sky. I also feel lucky to be coming across the last of the summer blackberries.
    Still getting a kick out of the whole San Juan Mountains, San Juan Islands thing…

  16. September 30, 2011 8:33 pm

    nutella, binoculars, beer… nutella, binoculars, beer… damn, can’t decide which story i like best.

    oh heck. just keep ’em coming!

  17. October 1, 2011 7:08 am

    Hilarious post, there are just too many things to exclaim about!

    I’m exclaiming about our sheep, the beautiful milk they give us and the CHEESE we are finally making. Also looking forward to drying them off and slowing down for the winter, with less farm chores to do!

  18. October 1, 2011 10:11 am

    “You won’t be surprised to know that our style falls in the unschooling camp”

    Nope, not surprised, but happy to hear you’re loving it :o).

  19. October 2, 2011 9:18 am

    I loved this post so much Rachel!! It just feels so free and happy between your harvest and observations of your beautiful children. And your right, the things they say are downright worthy of hollywood scripts. And the nutella, a girl after my own heart ;). Yay for unschooling!

  20. October 3, 2011 12:37 pm

    THIS IS SO GREAT!!! i’m so glad homeschooling is such a good fit (and hops! and tomatoes! OMIGOD!)

    over here i’m all “ELDERBERRIES!” at the moment. and getting my herbal tinctures started, first time ever. i feel healthy just making them.

    • 6512 and growing permalink*
      October 3, 2011 3:30 pm

      I just had an elderberry smoothie and fed elderberry syrup to the snot-drippy kids. I LOVE ELDERBERRIES!!!! ps: what tinctures are you making?


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