Eating humble pie

IMG_0772This is a long one, please bear with me.

We often have folks telling us that we must be “living the dream”, and while I absolutely wake up thankful for this crazy/awesome life, we still have our fair share of pretty constant challenges.  It would be inauthentic to pretend otherwise, and so that’s why I am being brave today to tell you that we are eating some pretty large pieces of humble pie right now.

As I’m sure you’ve noticed, we did not complete our house in time to move in this winter.  Even with the generous loans from friends and neighbors, we weren’t able to get it all enclosed before the conditions turned frigid and icy and it just wasn’t safe to be working up on the roof.  That’s OK, it’s not the end of the world.  We have a sweet little school bus to keep us warm.

IMG_3893BUT…because winter came fast, and the ground froze before we could fully landscape the hill behind the house, this meant that the sand bermed on the backside of the house was pushing on it all winter, instead of being sloped away.  The result is that 2 of our trusses shifted forward about 5 inches.

It’s not catastrophic, but it’s enough to mean we couldn’t move forward on building until we dug it out and straightened them.

Oh, the thoughts that go through your head when faced with a failure!  We’ve all got them, right?  Please tell me I’m not alone.  “What were we thinking?!”  “This is too hard.”  “I’m tired of this!”  Etc…etc…

Well, while it’s important to acknowledge the disappointment and sadness about it, wallowing in the upset just takes too much energy.

IMG_3922The fact is we messed up.  We shouldn’t have backfilled until the outer shell of the house was complete.  We thought we could enclose it all quickly before winter set in, but we were wrong.

So…we put on our big girl/boy panties and asked for help.

Many thanks to my dad, who was able to hook up a trade with the local excavators, and yesterday was the big day.

A giant rumbling machine made its way down the hill and spent a good chunk of the day totally carving away the hillside behind the house.  It’s quite a transformation.  It frees up the pressure on the house, so we can get back to building the roof and walls.  And it means we can build our root cellar on the northwest side this year instead of waiting until “Phase II”.

IMG_3947Hopefully this means a lot more action will be happening with the house soon.

And let me tell you, we are so looking forward to this project being complete enough so that we can focus our energy back on the work we are passionate about providing.

It has been a giant conundrum for us to be simultaneously growing our business here, WHILE we create the venue…nevermind building it by hand AND somehow paying our bills.

Oh, I’m not complaining…because we are absolutely choosing this!  I’m just saying that, yes, it’s a little crazy AND we are clear that the commitment that still moves us to tears is helping folks remember their deep connection with the Earth.

Speaking of which…

Our Earth Warriors Nature Club started up again last Friday…on Spring Equinox, the New Moon, and a total solar eclipse.  It was a magical day, to say the least.

Here we are playing a game of “Fire-Keeper”, a kid favorite.  The kids are stalking, trying to steal a small bell (the fire) and make it back to the outer circle without the blind-folded Fire-Keeper in the middle hearing them and pointing at them.  Incidentally, it was actually raining on us during this game, but the kids were so focused on stealing the “fire” that not a single kid complained!

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The best quote of the day came during closing circle:

“My favorite part was digging in that dirt, and my least favorite part is right now because it’s time to go!”  ~Wesley, age 8

Thanks so much for your continued support!  Just keep imagining the amazing space the house will be, both for our family and as a classroom!

We look forward to seeing you on the land soon…
Blessings,
Heidi and Jonathan

Earth Warriors Nature Club

Earth Warriors was a blast today! So much to explore as summer slowly shifts into fall here.

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A game of Cougar Stalking Deer…a kid favorite!

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Gotcha! Back to the starting line!

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And Scarlet gets the deer!

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Practicing stalking and listening skills

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Goldenrod!

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“Woah! The autumn olives are ripe!”

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Yum!

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“I’m gonna pick these for mom!”

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Jonathan taking a rest during sit spot time

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The most perfect mushroom!

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Nature journals

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Sharing our nature journals after our Sit Spot time

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Sharing what they saw, heard, and smelled

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Concentrating on capturing those thoughts

The clean up crew

We thought you’d enjoy this photo from today’s Nature Club.  Our theme today was water and all of its connections.  The kids filled up this WHOLE garbage bag with trash today on our field trip to Perch Lake! They did so great working together and helping to clean up the shoreline. Gib had a great question at the end though…”So how do we stop people from coming here after we leave and dumping more trash?” Very good question, Gib, that is a VERY good question.

Earth Warriors Nature Club

Down to the wire, a miracle occurs

Hi Friends,

Most of you know that this Friday was the deadline for us to pay for the 6 acres of land where we are creating Bluebird Hill Homestead.  Well, a miracle occurred last Wednesday.  A friend and colleague of ours gave us a cashier’s check for $39,000, which we promptly delivered to the lawyer who delivered it to the banker who is sealing the deal.  The land is paid for!  Our friend has generously agreed to give us this loan, on the miraculous terms that we have 2 years before we start paying it back.  This creates the space we need to build some infrastructure and get Bluebird Hill Homestead up and running.  It is such an ideal situation for us.  We are beyond thankful.  Honestly, we are probably still in shock!  Wow!  It’s really happening.  And so we march on…

Our next goal is finding a grant or loan for $15,000 so we can put in a well and build a barn.  Please let us know if you have any insight on this, or know anyone that would like to see our business plan!  We’d love to break ground yet this fall before the grounds freezes.  Yes, this would be a miracle.  And we are becoming believers.

And now for some more exciting news…

With all the uncertainty about the land until last Wednesday, we had been holding onto the money we raised in our Indiegogo campaign in case we needed to use the amount as a down payment for a loan.  Now that the land is handled, that freed us up to take action on an amazing 20′ tipi we found on Craigslist.  We are so excited!  Jonathan and the girls picked it up Sunday and we set it up as the sun was setting.  In our excitement, we skipped over a few details about proper set up for now so please forgive the slightly wonky pictures.  We’ll have plenty of time to perfect it!

Here are a few shots of our fun:

The “Helpers”

Setting sun and the fire pit

Jonathan, Maya, and the tipi poles

The setting sun

Heidi and the spot for the tipi

The poles and canvas cover. The brown on the cover is from the fire smoke.

The “Helper”

The first 3 poles to form the tri-pod.

Wow

Notice Jonathan checking the instructions on his phone to see what to do next. 🙂

Teamwork

See how haphazard those poles look? Yeah. It’s not supposed to look like that.

Stepping out the distance between poles.  20 feet.

The cover, tied to the last pole.

Pulling the cover around the poles.

Final adjustments as the light fades.

Hard to see, but a flock of geese flying straight overhead.

The view the next day!

In the beautiful morning sun!

We are so lucky to have found a used tipi on Craigslist, as this saved us well over $1000, probably $2000!  So with the rest of the Indiegogo campaign funds, we went ahead and got a driveway permit and had the culvert delivered so we can build a driveway from “Old E East” and have access to the land for our classes.  Our street address is 456 Old E East.  How cool is that?

We also had the serendipitous opportunity to invest in 30 hens that are just old enough to start laying!  We have chickens again!!   Here’s Jonathan putting together a temporary coop by stacking straw bales like legos.  We used two old sliding glass doors for windows to let the warm sun in and allow us to have a viewing window.

Reinforcing the bales with some stakes harvested from the land.

The tall windows leaning onto the garage behind Jonathan go into the big opening there in the strawbale wall.

The “Helper”

Weeee! 30 hens in the back of the van!

Home. Inside the coop. Notice how light it is in there with the two big windows!

Happy girls!

So the house of straw isn’t exactly predator proof, and we’ve got plenty of predators out here…raccoon, fox, coyote, opposum, weasel…so we’ve got a solar powered electric poultry fence around the whole area.  So far, so good.  We haven’t had any eggs yet, as they are adjusting to their new home and the days are much shorter now.  We won’t be running any electricity into the coop because of the fire hazard of exposed straw everywhere, so we won’t add any supplemental light to encourage more egg laying.  We can add some cayenne pepper to their feed to encourage laying, but we may just have to wait a couple months until the days get longer again.  It is such a pleasure to have chickens again!  They are so beautiful and really friendly.  We got them from a 13 year old boy who had raised 65 chicks this spring and just wanted to pare down his flock for the winter.  They have obviously been well loved.

With the little bit left from the fundraising campaign, we are working on an architectural design for the strawbale barn/classroom that we would love to start on this fall.  According to zoning, the building plans need to be engineered, so we are working with an awesome architect, Lucas Alm, to create the needed plans.  It’s slow on our end, as we scrounge together the money for this.

So yeah, we are moving forward!  Our Wednesday nature mentoring classes are really developing into something amazing.  We will be starting an after school program and Saturday morning classes in the next few weeks as well.  And we are really excited to bring our tipi on the road to the local elementary school for their annual Bazaar.  We will be hosting Fairy House Building on Saturday, November 10th, from 10am-3pm on the front lawn of the Houlton Elementary School.  (This is the school I went to!)  We are donating all the materials and our time, and the proceeds go to the school.  We are really looking forward to it!

And finally, I’d like to share about something else I’ve been working on.  I’ve been quite shy about it for several years, but it has become more and more obvious that my playing small is serving no one.  What good is to have a gift and not share it?  So, I’m just gonna bust it wide open and declare that “Yes! I do shamanic healing work, and I am now available for booking!”  I’ve had the amazing opportunity to start sharing office space in downtown Hudson with my friend and colleague Heidi Metro.  She has been so gracious mentoring me in starting a healing practice.  So without further ado, please check out my page here about what I do!  You can even book an appointment online!  It is a work in progress, as is everything in our life, and if I waited until I had it all “Perfect” I would never share it at all.  So please check it out and share it with anyone you think might be interested.  Look forward to more content soon with details about what shamanic healing is, what to expect in a session, etc.

Thanks again, everyone, for all your support through this!  Hope to see you out on the land sometime soon!

Love, Heidi