Archive | Living a Better Life

Bringing Back Balance !

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The past year has been tunnel vision focused to finish renovating the barn and get Shops At Fayrehale opened!  As you know, we accomplished and announced that in my last posting over a month ago!  The last 5 weeks have been spent adding inventory to the Shop and enjoying a short break from painting and renovating.

I am way behind in updates on the other sections of www.fayrehalefarm.com and can not emphasize strongly enough that for the time being – the best way to stay up to date and follow us is with our Facebook pages!  It is easier to make frequent updates there and we have active pages for the Shops At Fayrehale, Fayrehale Chanteclers and Fayrehale Icelandics.  Why don’t you take a minute right now and like the Facebook page for the segment of our endeavors you would like to keep up to date on!  Just click on the links above.

Our lives have been OUT OF BALANCE and it is time to refocus and bring balance back!  Our gardens, usually so abundant and productive, are nearly non existent this year!  Seed staring and planting abandoned for efforts to get Shop open.

We did manage to hatch and ship chicks this season.  Ran the incubator and shipped chicks up until 3 weeks ago when we declared the season over. Predators have been worse this season than I can ever remember them being.  Coons, foxes, skunks and possibly a fisher. We have lost over 100 birds despite taking all possible precautions.

Forced “down-time” right now following abdominal surgery to (hopefully) fix a radiation fibrosis induced situation has me thinking about regaining balance.  With the shop opened, I think we can pull it off.

Next year, the vegetable garden will be abundant.  Next year may be the LAST year we hatch and ship chicks all over the country. The next year will see the house back in order so we can have friends over to eat. The next year will see renovation work on a bedroom so we can have friends stay over. The next year will see us taking some time to smell the roses. All in the flow without a rigid deadline like opening the Shop had. None of these planned endeavors is any where near as massive as the one we just accomplished.

I understand why we had to take life out of balance  and it sure feels good to have accomplished the Shops At Fayrehale —  which we have planned and prepared for, for over 15 years.

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I smile when I pull in the driveway

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My Being Beams When I walk into the Shop and see what we have created!

We worked hard, and succeeded, in presenting an eclectic mix of beautiful Antiques, Christmas decorations, cards, advent calenders and Gifts.  We worked hard, and succeeded, in having a nice selection under $5, under $10 and under $20!  Believe me when I say that is not easy in this day and economy when we need to meet our standards for nice, quality merchandise!

So, I do not apologize for smiling with satisfaction! I am pleased. I deserve to be pleased! Customer reaction is positive and extremely complimentary.

I rest now, as I heal, and think about bringing back balance!  During this forced quiet time (only feeding critters, Abigail and Self plus opening Shop) I will study iMovie so my YouTube videos will be smoother.  I have uploaded two so far and plan a series as we feature and promote ours Artisans and our Products.

Introducing Shops At Fayrehale

Shops At Fayrehale #2

May there be Peace and Balance in all our Lives

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Rolling With Life — Adjusting Priorities

Jim1948 (2)  jim 1966 (2)  buyer 2 jimnow

1948 – 1966 – 2014

For six and a half decades my journey in this life’s experience has ebbed and flowed as necessary for continued forward progression. I have never been accused of stagnating for long. Friends and acquaintances have thought, and some have called, me crazy.  Reflecting as I have this winter and more recently as I shovel out from this snow storm, I think the world would be a better place if more people could roll with life and adjust their priorities.

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Why ??

Pictures like the recent highway scene above (and worse!!!) appearing on the news, drives home how inflexible people, in general, have become.  They accept no deviation in their desired routine!  Mother Nature is not honored. Why would anyone in their right mind be on the road in a major snow/ice storm unless they are Emergency/Health/Fire/Police involved.  What happened to common sense?  What happened to staying put while the storm is cleared? As  I said, the picture I am using is mild compared to many situations out there that have been shown on the news.  Add to this the anger exhibited at airports with flight cancellations and delays!  People have totally lost touch with reality and lost their ability to roll with life and adjust priorities!

Maybe this is in the forefront of my ponderings as I live though this challenging winter having adjusted my priorities.

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The Bathtub This Winter 🙂

Last December during one of the subzero spells, we had a pipe burst.  It was around a corner in a crawl space, so by the time I discovered it, it was coming through the cellar rock wall and flooding the cellar.  Five inches was enough to take out the hot water heater and the furnace!  The sump pump had not been able to keep up with it. Once the water was shut off, the pump removed the water quickly.  I used a torpedo kerosene heater to dry things out with fingers crossed.  Didn’t work.

The frustrating part is that where ever that pipe is (out of sight) that burst, it has been there for the eleven years we have owed the house! Never a problem until this year.

So here we are with some decisions to make. Some priorities to adjust.  The $1000 deductible on our insurance meant we needed to cough up a thousand dollars!  Then do we want a smallish claim against the insurance on the property, the main purpose of which is to protect us from a major disaster/wipe out?

So an assessment of our situation!  We have cold running water to bath & kitchen.

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We have a Vermont Castings Vigilant wood stove and firewood. This can heat the kitchen and, through a ceiling floor register, the bedroom upstairs.  Thus we have running water and a warm area to live in.  Think of the people around the world who do not have that much!

Water can be heated on the wood stove. So life can proceed w/o spending a $1000 plus an insurance claim at this point in time.  Bathing is easily accomplished with a couple pans of water, locally made soap and a couple of cloths.  We have the necessary amenities!

With limited financial resources, we need to establish priorities  and right now the first priority is, and has to be, opening the Shops at Fayrehale the end of May this year. Paint and stain need to be purchased. Some work needs to be done by a carpenter we have been lucky to find. We have antiques galore for the major antiques portion of the Shop!  We need  Christmas, Gifts & Toys to round out the other portions. We have to look complete when we open the doors if we expect people to return and spread the word.

So what little money we can assemble is going towards this first priority.  To do otherwise right now would be like flushing it down the toilet… using it for something we can temporarily do without rather than for something that can start to generate some income.

Using local artisans serves a dual purpose. It means that our hard earned dollars go to other small businesses plus the minimum initial order requirements are usually $50 – $200 so we can, with careful and tasteful selection, assemble a nice and varied range of inventory.

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This priority also means that on subzero and/or stormy nights, I get up at 3am to stoke the stove, run the cold water (which is left dripping – little higher water bill is better than total destruction of the plumbing system!), check and remove snow on the hoop houses etc. It means staying more connected to the real world and to Mother Nature.  It means ice in the toilet bowl in the morning —  I spare you that picture:):) — and tells me to hurry up and start composting our own manure!

This last storm as given me time to reflect.  I shovel the snow and today was day two of a three day shoveling project. No snow blower and no paid plow service.  Again, our priorities, shoveling is good exercise when done carefully and wisely, (acknowledge widow maker snow with shorter sessions at a slower pace)  why spend money unnecessarily.  I was, however, aware as I shoveled the 30″ of plow gifted snow at the end of the driveway of the dozens and dozens of pickup trucks with plows that passed by!  An awareness heightened by a friend who recently slid in to a snow bank and sat there while people just passed by.

If you don’t know me, bundled with layers and with a white beard, I look like an old man! :):)  So these strangers are driving by an “old man” tackling 30″ of compacted, plow gifted snow!  Not one stopped.  The point here, is not that I needed or wanted help. The point is that all these people drove by without awareness or compassion for a fellow human being!  I would have thought someone would have stopped. Not necessarily with an offer of free help. (three passes would have done everything). They could have stopped and said I can do that for you for $10, $20, $30 whatever!  I would have graciously thanked them and declined.

It just enhances my comment above that people accept no deviation in their desired routine. They want no inconvenience, real or perceived. Too many have lost the ability to show spontaneous compassion for people they do not know.  The world has become rigid, fast paced and isolated. Most people can no longer deal with the unexpected and perceived hardships.

Hopefully this gets you to reflect on your own situation in life and your own priorities.  So much stress can be removed, life can be more peaceful and enjoyable if you just roll with life and adjust your priorities!

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Permaculture – The Safe and Sane Way to Proceed! – Learn Along With Me

Last evening, Tuesday, January 28th, I traveled over to Montpelier for the Transition Speaker Series topic ( Home Resiliency: Staying Warm, Fed and Watered in a Very Cold Climate) being held in the Hayes Room, Kellogg-Hubbard Library.

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Ben Falk

Ben Falk was the speaker, discussing the most essential systems needed in our region to maintain a failure-proof source of the basics: heat, hot water, food, light and communications. Ben used his own home systems as a case study and explored the particular resiliency challenges we have always faced in Vermont, and how they are being exacerbated by a changing climate and economic conditions.

I have followed Ben Falk on Facebook for some time now to better know him as a person  and I have studied his website and watched many of his educational videos to be introduced to Permaculture.

I wanted to be in the same room as Ben. I wanted to hear him directly. I wanted to check out and verify his Energy. All is good!  Ben Falk is a young man who is “walking the walk” as he devotes his energy and expertise to educating and helping people prepare for as secure a life as possible in a rapidly changing world.

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Ben Falk’s Recently Published Book.

I have a friend in Maine who received Ben’s book for Christmas!  He talks about it consistently.  It is on my list as the very next book I buy!

“The Resilient Farm and Homestead is a handbook for developing regenerative human habitat systems adaptive to drought, flooding, heat, power outage, price spikes, pest pressure, and the multitude of challenges brought by climate change, peak oil, food system contamination and economic decline. The book also details leading-edge strategies for regenerating soil, water systems and human health through the design and operations of the homeastead and farm.

The book covers the groundbreaking systems Ben Falk, M.A.L.D. and his team have established at the Whole Systems Design research farm over the past decade. The book includes detailed information on earthworks, water systems, rice paddies (likely the first on the planet in such a cold climate), livestock, species composition, site design and management, fuelwood production and processing, human health-soil enhancement strategies, topsoil production and remineralization, nuts, perennial food and medicine crops, and high performance buildings.

The Resilient Farm and Homestead is more than just a book of tricks and techniques for site development, but offers actual working results of agricultural ecosystems and presents a viable home-scale model for food-producing intentional, ecosystems in cold climates and beyond. Real world farm and homestead systems are articulated with gorgeous full-color photography and dozens of landscape architectural drawings.”

For myself, I look for the plants and systems I can use here on our own small .6 acres (remember that point before the 6!) Our small endeavor will involve more layered plantings and perennial edibles.

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Paradise Lot – 1/10th of an acre – Less than our 6/10ths!

“Jonathan and Eric and their families manage a 1/10 acre urban backyard garden in Holyoke, Massachusetts. This edible landscape features little-used edible native plants as well as useful species from around the world. Over forty species of fruit and seventy perennials with edible leaves make for a long season of foraging. Many are arranged in an edible forest garden, an edible ecosystem composed of perennial polycultures of multipurpose plants. Other components include a tropical crop garden, edible water garden, poultry, annual beds, and bioshelter greenhouse with aquaponics under development. The book Paradise Lot tells the story of the development of the garden from a bare slab of ground to a diverse and productive demonstration.”

So with Ben Falk’s Recently Published Book and Paradise Lot, I have my text books for learning what I need to do to maximize the small piece of earth we are taking care of so that it can be left better than we found it.  These two resources located in Vermont and Massachusetts function in my climate.

All you who read this are not fortunate enough to live in New England:):):)  While you can easily Google resources local to your area, I will mention Adam Remkes and his Cedar Springs Farm out in Utah.

I also recommend that everyone with any interest in maximizing food production in a small area like and follow Jonathan Krausert who lives in Salt Lake City, Utah!  He has been a role model and a mentor for me for a couple of years now!

I invite you join me in this important journey and encourage you to share your experiences, your successes as well as the things that did not work well for you.

We can lean from each other.

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Living an Earth Connected Life of Elegant Simplicity – WITH? / VERSUS? – the Internet and Social Media!

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I find myself pondering, all to often, the impact of the internet and social media on my  earth connected life.  Can the two extremes function together?  I  have been going back and forth and back and forth and…………. I think I have finally come to a satisfactory conclusion  *for me* !  They can work together!

I was born on the Family Farm in Concord, Massachusetts. While life has taken me to many places and in many directions, I have always maintained a connection to the soil, to the land. It is in my blood!   As a child, I lived in the country, we had a big garden and I can remember renovating a large shed with my brothers (using lumber from a collapsed barn, salvaged nails, a hand saw and a hammer) to ready for the pair of bottle lambs our neighbor was giving us.

Later as an adult, we raised our own beef, pork, lamb and poultry. Hand milked our Guernsey cow, Molly, and eventually her two daughters Matilda and Martha.

During these years there was only television and it played a very small role in life!  Strictly controlled when we were young ( Black & White) and not that important in later years.

WELL, full disclosure requires that I confess to watching a full week of Betty Davis movies (two per night) when I was in college!

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Now, in my 65th year, the world is much different and more complicated

The world is wired.  Computers and Smart Phones link to the internet, facebook, twitter and on and on.  Many people are “connected” all the time. Separated from real human to human interactions. Families, under the same roof, connect individually to the net while often communicating with each other electronically!   This electronic evolution/revolution seems to isolate and separate from other people and from nature.

Part of me has argued internally for outright rejection. I resisted computers until I decided in 1997 that I needed to learn how to use them or be left behind. At that point they had not become so invasive.  I decided, that in order to understand how they work, I needed to create a webpage from scratch using html codes. I did it and never have had to since as an IT Husband does it for me now:)

I do not have a smart phone! I do not want or need one. I do have a cell phone. I can make  a call, send a text and take a picture. That is all I need.

My being loves having my hands in the dirt in the garden, the poultry, the natural world in general AND my being enjoys and needs nice things – books, art, silver and china. That combination creates what I call “elegant simplicity”

Nothing beats an evening with friends, gathered at a nice table, with good food and conversation and suddenly someone says: “OH my goodness it is after midnight” Those not frequent enough occasions are the frosting on life.  Now, chances are the communications that gathered us together were via e-mail.

SO yes, modern technology fits an earth connected lifestyle if it is managed to enhance and not take over!  I use facebook!  Not for a zillion friends I do not know but to maintain contact with a few friends scattered far and wide.  Friends from my days at Borders. Friends connected to Star Island. Some friends I have connected with because of joint interests in gardening, poultry, food and lifestyle.  I use FB for gardening connections.  How else would I be able to connect with and follow Ben Falk  or John Forti  or, or, or……

I use the internet for this website, where I connect with people around the world and promote our poultry which I hatch and ship.  I maintain a facebook page for our Chanteclers  and our Icelandics.

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Fayrehale White Chanteclers in winter housing.

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Fayrehale Icelandics in winter housing

Currently there are 427 people following the Chantecler page and 75 following the newly created Icelandic page.  That is over 500 people that we have connected with for our poultry sales.  Something that would never have happened without the internet!  Our beautiful small Vermont village is the perfect place to live.  Selective utilization of modern technology allows us to connect across the country and around the world with like minded people.

I am state emphatically that modern technology enhances and expands our simple, earth connected life!  It allows us to be connected with like minded people and thus less isolated in our existence.

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So, as the Hackmatacks turn yellow and prepare to shed their needles, we have moved back into the house for the winter. It is time to dust and clean the dining room  (The incubator ran in the dining room from March to September:) so that we can have friends over for supper.

And YES, we will use e-mail to make the arrangements!

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“IN A CONSCIOUS ECONOMY”

I finished Ben Hewitt’s newest book today and highly recommend it to all of you! We are all in various stages of this journey!!! It will make you think and assess.

In my desire to make you aware of this thought provoking book and to create within you a desire to read this book, I will share from Ben’s site.

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FIRST, a quote from page 201:

“IN A CONSCIOUS ECONOMY, we are wealthy in what matters, and poor (or at least, poorer) in what doesn’t. It is generally understood that what matters is nature, relationships, community, freedom, spiritual fulfillment and overall contentment. Likewise, it is generally understood that what doesn’t matter is the accumulation of money and the collection of anonymous, homogenized goods that, despite all promises to the contrary, only demean and dilute our relationships to that which does matter. This will require many of us to accept a lower “standard of living” as defined by the unconscious economy. However, while divesting ourselves of the accumulated abundance in Things That Do Not Matter is likely to foment a degree of emotional unease, this unease will ultimately be offset by the embrace of Things That Do matter and the simple pleasure of inviting them into our lives.”

SECOND, some background

When Ben Hewitt met Erik Gillard, he was amazed. Here was a real-life rebel living happily and comfortably in small-town Vermont on less than $10,000 per year. Gillard’s no bum. He has a job, a girlfriend, good friends, and strong ties to the community. But how he lives his life—and why—launches Hewitt on a quest to understand the true role of money and mindless consumerism in our lives. By meeting and befriending people like Erik Gillard, Hewitt realized that their happiness was real. What was he—and the rest of a deeply unhappy population—missing?

Saved is the humorous, surprising, and ultimately life-changing result of Hewitt’s quest, a narrative that challenges everything we know about the meaning of money. Hewitt uses his sharp eye for story, exhaustive reporting, and his own experience living below his means to bring what he learned into an even larger context. How does money really work? How can a bankrupt society move forward? The answers are not what you think, and Hewitt has written an important book for our times.

THIRD, an excerpt

In 2009, the year I first met him, Erik Gillard earned about $6,000 from a part-time job at a children’s wilderness camp. And managed to save a good bit of it. In 2010, the year he turned 26, he received a substantial raise, one that would put him on track to earn nearly $10,000 for the year. When he told me this, he sounded almost embarrassed, as if no one person should be entrusted with so much money. “Oh well,” he said. “I guess with the house, it’ll be good to have some extra cash around.” I considered sharing the particulars of my income, but thought better of it.

This may be giving away too much, too early, but I think it’s important for you to know that Erik is not a kook. Nor is he destitute, or desperate, or depressed. Indeed, he is the least of these things of perhaps anyone I know. He is healthy and strong, articulate and obviously intelligent. He does not smoke or consume alcohol, and he is careful about what he eats, in the sense that he does not eat very much processed food (in another sense, one that we will get to, he is not careful in the least). He does not even drink soda, or at least, I’ve never seen him drink a soda. He exercises regularly, though of course not at a health club. He is usually, but not always, clean. Frankly, sometimes he smells a bit ripe, the inevitable result of living without running water. He has a girlfriend, a sweet-faced and even sweeter-natured woman named Heidi. She is from Wisconsin and is the embodiment of northern Midwest charm. Often, she and Erik sing together. Her voice is lilting and ascendant; naturally, his is deeper, with a kind of innocent power. They’ve been together for 2 years now. It wouldn’t surprise me if they got married. It wouldn’t surprise me if they didn’t.

Erik Gillard is a man of many skills. He is particularly good with children (this is good, given that his career, such as it is, depends on his being good with children), and he is tremendously proficient in the wild. He can build a fire with a bow drill, tan a deer hide using the animal’s brains, or construct a weather-tight shelter of twigs and leaves. He is an amazing and versatile visual artist: paintings, drawings, carvings. He does them all, and he does them well. He’s obviously no carpenter, but he built a house, or at least a cabin, anyway. He might have said “I don’t know how to build a cabin,” which would have been fair enough because he didn’t. But that’s not what he said.

The point I am trying to make is that Erik is not a loser. In one sense, he is the poorest person I know. It may already be obvious that in another sense, he is the wealthiest. It is not hard to quantify his poverty; it shows itself in the cold, objective numbers of his salary and bank account. It is more difficult to take measure of his wealth, which does not present itself in such ready terms.

That we carry assumptions about the poor, that we stereotype, generalize, and perhaps even discriminate, likely comes as no surprise. One of those generalizations is that people—and in particular, Americans—don’t want to be poor, that poverty makes them feel bereft, lesser, hollowed out, victimized. One of the things that intrigues me about Erik Gillard is that for him, poverty seems to have the opposite effect. The less he spends, the less he needs to make. And the less he makes, the less money that flows through the river of his life, the more fulfilled he seems to feel.

Why is this? Is there something wrong with him? I’m pretty sure not, but I intend to find out for certain. How did he get this way? Does he ever have regrets?

Or what if I have it exactly backwards: What if it is not his poverty that brings him happiness, but his wealth? Because already it is becoming clear to me that Erik considers himself extraordinarily wealthy. Do not think that he is delusional, or simply contrarian; instead, understand that he does not view money as an emblem of wealth, nor any material asset that would demand he subjugate himself to its accumulation. It’s not that he doesn’t like stuff; indeed, he has possessions that he likes very, very much. Loves, even. But they tend to be things that have been given to him by friends or family, or that he has created himself, and thus it seems reasonable to wonder if what he likes about these things is not the objects themselves, but the relationships they represent.

In other words, they are symbols of their underlying value. Which is rather strange, if you think about it: Because that’s exactly what money is.

If you are not familiar with this Vermont Author, it is time you came to know of and to read Ben Hewitt’s books

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Ben Hewitt’s first book, The Town That Food Saved: How One Community Found Vitality in Local Food, was published in March, 2010.

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His second book, Making Supper Safe: One Man’s Quest to Learn the Truth About Food Safetywas released on June 7, 2011.

May Ben Hewitt’s newest book lead you to understand more clearly the journey you are on as you work to connect with nature, to build healthy and real relationships, to create community, to enjoy freedom, to enhance your spiritual fulfillment and to achieve overall contentment.

Peaceful & Happy Reading !

 

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