…To Jessica & Daniel’s Homestead We Go

Morning came quickly and everyone was gathered around the kitchen, Jessica had made breakfast and we made coffee on their Moka Pot. Jessica and Daniel invited us to spend yet another night giving us a chance to see the area a bit better in the daylight.  After a few cups of coffee and more talk about every subject imaginable the women and men parted ways. Amanda and Jessica set off to go on a hike around the property and the holler. Daniel had planned to take advantage of the warm weather and finish digging a ditch for the water supply to various parts of the farm. Not having any plans of my own I volunteered to help him, knowing that two would accomplish more than one.

Over lunch we regathered at the house, Amanda and Jessica filled us in on the sites they saw on their hike and Daniel updating Jessica on the progress of the ditch. In the daylight, the house that quickly sparked so many hopefully dreams in Amanda and I truly shined. It was a cozy open floor plan with a loft sleeping area with copious amounts of light streaming through the windows. We were enamored.

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Post lunch the men went back to work while the women parted ways. Amanda relaxed with a book, while Jessica set off to her studio to work on her weaving projects. To describe Jessica as talented would be the very tip of the iceberg, she is an encyclopedia of knowledge about the art and science of textiles, specifically weaving. While gathering more tools for our work on the ditch Daniel and I snuck a peak inside her studio complete with numerous looms, dying supplies, millions of yards of thread and more passion than could be described on this blog. The other side of the barn was the start of what looked to be a commercial butcher shop, Daniel had amassed an arsenal of tools and implements to process his own meats.

The sun started to drop as Daniel and I called the ditch-work quits for the day. Daniel and I had made considerable progress cleaning out the silt that had filled in from the rain after his previous efforts. Unfortunately we only made it past a few large rocks and not the “trail of tears” section. This rocky expanse and the remaining front border of the property will have to wait until another day. Our day was not just toiling in the soil, we discussed and debated the off-grid romantic notion, septic systems, pasture management and rotational grazing, the permeation of myths and half truths sold by the back to the land crowd about the financial sustainability of farming. Quite a day of labor both physically and mentally.

Inside the house Amanda was working on a creation she invented using the random assortment of edibles inside our panniers. A communal effort was made on the finishing touches and dinner was served! While Jessica spun flax, she simultaneously taught us the differences between plant and animal based fibers and the techniques used to spin them. She explained weave and weft and some of the new techniques she is experimenting with and how they affect the finished product. We also learned to our dismay that with the exception of Patagonia all washable merino wool uses hazardous and environmentally destructive chemicals to achieve washable status.

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