Author Archives: Annette Cottrell

The Farm Wife Mystery School

baking day

Sometimes ideas are too good to let them die. Two years ago when I dreamed up the urban farm challenge it was a way to ease people into what might seem an overwhelming task: to completely change the way they approach feeding themselves and their loved ones. It was a great idea but the schedule of coming up with prizes and hosts and challenges while trying to start up my own farm nearly killed me. My own farm is clipping along still but I miss sharing that knowledge with people and I really enjoy physical interaction. Last winter I taught a few cheese classes out of my home and I loved every minute of it.

making cheese

So this year I am partnering with one of my best friends, Patti Pitcher, to offer a nine month course covering much of the same material as the urban farm challenge in an intimate setting, in person and in more depth. We are both incredibly excited about the class, and both bring different skillsets and experiences to teaching it. The classes run from October to June, the second Sunday of each month and I will also be offering classes on the Saturday before separate from this program. These Saturday classes will complement the year-long course, although a few of the cheese classes may duplicate material. I’ll be offering a Saturday stay at my house for one or two people interested each month so you can really get the hands-on and individual attention you may need, or look at it like a mini vacation on a farm with an old friend. Check it out!

churningbutter

THE FARM WIFE MYSTERY SCHOOL

Put yourself on the path to independent, conscious living by reclaiming the lost skills and healing arts of the traditional farm wife. In the old days, the farm wife knew how to grow, preserve, cook, nourish and heal her family. She could take a small leaf from the garden and turn it into a healing salve, or preserve it for a winter’s meal. Wouldn’t it be great if there was one fun series of classes that could teach you all this and more?

It’s the perfect sunny day just begging for a family outing with friends. You grab your picnic basket and load it up with odds and ends from your personal pantry: bits of cheeses, some membrillo, subtly spiced sausage, canned fish, pickled asparagus, crusty bread, dried fruits and kombucha. Your friends pull out their standard grocery store fare and marvel at your lovely spread, every bit of which you made yourself in season from your local foodshed. ”How did you find the time or even know how to do all this, and how can you afford it?” they ask, enviously. You smile humbly. ”Oh, I have some farm wife friends who made it easy,” you answer, keeping the mystery alive.

If this sounds like a scenario you can imagine yourself in then Nelly, are you in luck. Patti and Annette, farm wife extraordinaires, are offering for the first time ever a year-long course designed to put you on the path to farm wife independence and style.

prepare

The Farm Wife Mystery School is the premier 21st century guide to practical home arts that will help you reclaim that old time wisdom of traditional homemaking.

How many times have you wished for the knowledge and courage to plant, grow and use forgotten herbs like horehound, feverfew, valerian, and chamomile? How to clean your home with pantry items instead of caustic agents, estrogen disruptors and carcinogens? How to eat like a king while spending like a peasant?

Gain the know-how to fearlessly:

  • can, cellar, and dehydrate
  • ferment vegetables, dairy and kombucha
  • cure meat
  • make cheese, yogurt, kefir, and other cultured dairy delights
  • grind, soak and bake grains
  • turn those mystery parts the butcher offered you into free yet deeply nourishing meals
  • make tinctures, salves and compresses to create your own home apothecary
  • forage for food and medicinals
  • plan and plant a kitchen garden along with basic seed saving skills
  • master simple home nursing skills
  • develop your own line of homemade body care products
  • employ natural, effective cleaning techniques and products
  • bring back frugal like it’s 1938

This class will fill in gaps and provide the hands-on knowledge you just can’t find online. Farm wives Patti and Annette will invite you into their kitchens and guide you through the material like only old friends and farm wives can do.

It’s January and your wee ones have coughs, ear aches and sore throats Do you know how to turn plants from your medicinal and tea garden (along with a few simple pantry staples) into herbal healing solutions? Patti and Annette will share that old fashioned know-how.

It’s March and the days are getting longer. Do you know which seeds to start when, and how to ready your garden? Patti and Annette do.

It’s June and the flowers and herbs in your garden are blooming and lush. Do you know what time of day is best to pick them so they will be at peak healing powers? The first fruits of summer are coming in – do you know when to look for things so that you don’t miss out? Annette’s calendar of when things ripen will come in handy.

It’s September and summer’s sweet produce is fleeting. How do you know if you have enough of everything to last all year? How can you possibly juggle all those pots, boxes, baskets and canning jars? Can you even find your kitchen counter?

friends canning

Learn to plan, prioritize, and tackle the most important things your family needs, Patti’s secret to slowly reducing fruits into delectable butters without a stove burner, and non-canning methods of preserving produce. Gain the courage and organization you need to plow through September without melting into a puddle of tomato sauce. Patti and Annette know how, and you can too.

One Course to Gain the Skills You Need!

The Farm Wife Mystery School is a comprehensive course packed chock-full of skills sure to amaze your friends and family and improve the quality of your diet and life. Patti and Annette will help you build that all-important farm wife support network of friends who also crave a life out of the norm. As part of each class, there will be time to share collective experiences (both frustrations and joys) as you integrate these skills into your family life, along with a good dose of practice so it soon feels old-hat.

farm wife pie

Patti and Annette will pack each monthly lesson chock-full of skill building while helping you explore how to bring the natural expression of the Earth’s seasons into your home in simple, yet beautiful ways. They will show you how to add healthy self-care to the hectic pace of your modern family, and how all this knowledge works together to reduce your financial burden and footprint on the planet.

You will leave each class with serious skills and goodies to share with your family or friends. It might be a jar of berry jam to top homemade ice cream, sauerkraut for your home corned beef Reubens, kefir to boost your energy, herbal tea mix for sore throats, soothing bath salts that detox, or some other new favorite thing.

The mystery will be how you ever managed to live without this class.

The Details

When: The Farm Wife Mystery School is a hands-on, participatory class that meets the second Sunday of the month from October 2013 to June 2014, from 10 am to 4 pm

Where: Class location will rotate between Patti and Annette’s two farms in Snoqualmie and Carnation

Cost: $1200 plus a $300 supply fee that will cover all ingredients for the year

Questions??? Contact Patti Pitcher at (425) 831-5360 or email pattipitch@gmail.com

Who? Adult and mature teen aspiring farm wives of all genders

To Register: Send a $300 deposit to made out to Patti Pitcher 39819 SE 60th St Snoqualmie, WA 98065

Who are Patti and Annette? Instructors Patti and Annette are friends who have spent years unraveling the mysteries of traditional homemaking in a modern world. They both live on small farms of their own with larders full of things they have grown and preserved.

Patti Pitcher is the mother of four now grown children (ages 32-18). Since she was a teenager, she’s been actively studying and practicing traditional home arts and herbalism. She lives on a small farm in Snoqualmie where she grows, preserves and cooks as much of her family’s food as she can. On her farm there are orchards, berries, herbs, vegetable gardens, bees, cows, goats, chickens, turkeys, ducks and sometimes lambs. Her house is filled with various pots brewing and projects needing finishing. Always interested in trying something new, she loves learning, experimenting and concocting with plants and food and she loves sharing what she knows. She teaches practical home arts classes with Sound Circle Center in Seattle. In addition, she co-authored Under The Chinaberry Tree: Books and Inspirations for Mindful Parenting, Random House 2003.

Annette Cottrell is the mother of two active and curious boys (ages 7 and 10) who pine for sugared cereal and candy. She lives on a small and heavily wooded permaculture farm in progress just outside of Carnation with hugel orchards, silvo-pastures, a large and increasingly perennial vegetable garden, medicinal and tea garden, bees, turkeys, dairy goats, chickens, and rabbits. She breeds Black Copper and Cuckoo Marans (fine French table and dark egg laying chickens,) and Mini Nubian dairy goats that provide high yielding, flavorful cheeses and tasty fluid milk. Annette teaches various farm life classes through the WSU Winter School program, around the Seattle area, and out of her own farm kitchen. She masterminded and co-authored The Urban Farm Handbook: City-Slicker Resources for Growing, Raising, Sourcing, Trading and Preparing What You Eat, Skipstone 2011.

Silencing the Noise

kiwi garden

One thing I realized after getting out here is how much noise there is in the city. It’s not just the traffic and airplanes and throngs of people. It’s the fabricated activities that cause noise too. The endless errands that I seem to no longer have. The shopping that I no longer seem to need to do. The non-stop activities that we don’t seem to miss. The constant, endless noise in life keeping you from doing what you really want to do.

I realized after having a hard time forcing myself to post on this blog that it too had become a source of noise keeping me from spending more time with my family, from getting this farm off the ground, from spending time on myself. So I took a bloggy rest that stretched and stretched into a longer bloggy rest but the noise was silenced. And I got lots done.

I am slightly embarrassed to think just how long ago I left off with regular updates. I may even have left off updating when things went crazy LAST kidding season. I never even updated Mary and Mona’s kids, and now they and their kids are on to new owners. And Val has kidded a second season and I have added a newcomer and sold Bessie and am already planning to breed Val’s second round of kids since I left off updating.

After last year’s mini Dairy Goat Show, I changed directions and got more serious about breeding. Val walked away with 4 ribbons. I had no inkling she would do so well. In fact I never even shaved her or bathed her and she sported a dog collar and I let the kids nurse the whole time. Meanwhile everyone else had matching outfits, fancy collars, kept kids separate so udders would be near to bursting and just milked off enough before judging to make sure the goat didn’t leak on the judge. And yet at the end of the show it was Val and I versus Lacia Bailey and Pegasus for best in show. Lacia took it which made me happy because I didn’t even plan to attend the show. But it opened my eyes to what I had suspected all along made a good dairy goat, and that is what I decided to breed for going forward. So I sold most of my herd, and all the babies, re-bred Val and brought in some new blood from far away lines.

Like I have done with the chickens and bunnies, breeding livestock is addictive. Choosing whom to separate out and combine together to create the perfect conversion rate/temperament/eggdairymeat potential/udder capacity, teat size and opening, mothering instincts, etc. It’s a lot of thinking and you don’t know until several generations later if you are even on the right track. But I think I am.

This time last year the 1/4 acre adjacent the house was newly cut deep forest, with all the topsoil bulldozed into a pile tangled with logs and stumps and branches and rocks, making it all completely inaccesible. Since then I have dug through by hand and pulled out the stumps and logs and branches, woven them into a large hugel and planted an orchard in it. The remaining areas I am landscaping or have painstakingly leveled, cleared branches and rocks, amended and planted new pasture to hay or for meat birds. I started the driveway hedgerow project that will be deer fodder and pollination as well as living fence. I’ve planted living chairs of willow and secret gardens that will take several years to fill in. Where others see sticks I see my vision and it makes me happy.

There has been endless fencing and sub-fencing to complete the chicken rotational paddocks, the turkey rotational paddocks, and the goat silvopasture. There has been constant and deep amending of forest soil in the pasture and the newly fabricated garden area soil. I’ve renovated the extensive flower beds, and attempted to clear the woods of buttercups and Himalayan blackberry.

I’ve learned that you never, ever want to gravel because it’s a trap that begs for roundup. Instead I’ve been hand weeding (over and over) 1/4 acre of legacy gravel so thin it’s mostly dirt. Half of that I will bark over, the other half I will bring in more gravel for the driveway. If you are considering going with gravel – please don’t. It increases surface runoff, decreases organic matter and therefore soil life, and traps you into needing to continue buying more and more gravel and then weeding or spraying or flaming said gravel. Consider that gravel needs to be mined, is usually exploded and then trucked to you. Just say no to gravel.

I’ve raised and processed countless chickens and turkeys, milked countless gallons, made a fridge full of cheese wheels, coordinated countless produce bulk buys, canned or fermented or cellared all the food we needed, strained honey, gathered eggs, learned to spin and knit and repeated the cycle again even without updating this blog regularly.

I’ve buried pet bunnies, dogs and new puppies even, taken up the piano again, built arbors and stairs in the earth and cozied things up. I’ve switched to the Ruth Stout method of gardening whereby I lay a thick layer of straw mulch down, open a hole and plop a transplant in or thin a spot and sow seeds. It’s magical I tell you. Forget weeding ever again. Just invest in lots and lots of Sluggo and grass hay.

I’ve managed to find time to watch tadpoles develop in the garden pond, listen to hummingbirds, chase dragon flies, challenge my kids to see who can pick the most strawberries. I’ve done so many things in the last year getting this place up and running that I can’t even remember most of them but it is up and it is running. It is finally a work in progress enough that I can enjoy the journey and relax without looking around and thinking of everything that needs to happen. The project list is dwindling despite me adding to it daily.

So I want to thank you for your patience – you who never removed me from you daily readers, who followed me on Facebook to get my cryptic updates whenever I managed to log in and make them. You who have followed my journey all the way from the 1/8 of an acre in the middle of the city to this incredible oasis that feeds my soul.

I think this place is finally ready for prime time. I think I am ready to blog again. I think I am ready to handle some noise. Especially the croaking of frogs, the singing of song birds, and the sound of the breeze in the high tree tops far up above our hollow. Now to get my broken camera fixed…

Simple Lives #150

Welcome back to Simple Lives Thursday – a time where we share simple living tips, tricks and projects that we have going.

Please read and follow the Simple Lives Thursday bloghop rules

1. If linking real, traditional and simple recipes, please make sure all ingredients used are whole. Such as whole grains, vegetables, legumes, meats, even sugar. In order to keep the integrity of nourishing food, we will delete any recipes that utilize processed, boxed foods. We are definitely not going to be ingredient policeman, however, please note that this is a hop hosted by advocates of the real, local and sustainable food movements.

2. Please link your posts back to one of the hosting blogs. This is a common blog hop courtesy. This link helps build the Simple Lives Thursday community by sending your readers to all of the other participants posts. We all end up sharing and learning from each other.

Featured Posts - The hosts will be choosing posts from the previous SLT to highlight each week. Those chosen will be promoted and linked on all four host blogs. As a highlighted post you will also have the chance to win in special giveaways that we will be starting soon — another great reason to link up and share all that you do to live a simple and intentional life!

Featured Posts from Last Week’s Submissions

SLT Featured Post Badge
We really enjoy reading your posts each week! Featured post bloggers, please grab the badge above and display it on your site! Link it to one of the host blogs’ posts for the specific week that you were featured.
Here are our picks from last week’s submissions. Thanks to all who participated — it is always hard to choose!

dandelionsyrup

1. How to Make Dandelion Syrup by Mooberry Farm Homesteading Journal. “One thing I am very good at is growing dandelions. It is effort free homestead gardening, really.”

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2. Potato Tower Tutorial by Purposefully Simple. “What’s really wonderful about this idea is that it works for small spaces so if you have a really tiny yard you can still get roughly 25lb of potatoes from just 2 sq ft of land. Not bad!”

lavender

3. Lavender Lemonade with Honey by Small Footprint Family. “Lavender is beginning to bloom now in my garden, not only looking and smelling beautiful, but attracting bees and other pollinators to the rest of my plants. I harvest it for its beauty, and dry it for use as food and medicine.”

The Simple Lives Thursday Blog Hop

Your Hosts

  1. Diana from A Little Bit of Spain in Iowa
  2. Wardeh from GNOWFGLINS
  3. Alicia from Culinary Bliss
  4. Me!

Wherever you choose to post, it will show up on all 4 sites! As a reminder, this blog hop is a way to share with many people your posts on what you are doing to live a simple life. Whether that’s gardening, raising urban chickens, homeschooling, sewing, making your own deodorant, or cleaning supplies – we want to know about it! If you’re into homeopathy, ways to save money by conserving energy or other ways to live frugally – we want to know about it! If you bike, cook real food, homestead or farm – we want to know about it!



Simple Lives #145

Welcome back to Simple Lives Thursday – a time where we share simple living tips, tricks and projects that we have going.

Please read and follow the Simple Lives Thursday bloghop rules

1. If linking real, traditional and simple recipes, please make sure all ingredients used are whole. Such as whole grains, vegetables, legumes, meats, even sugar. In order to keep the integrity of nourishing food, we will delete any recipes that utilize processed, boxed foods. We are definitely not going to be ingredient policeman, however, please note that this is a hop hosted by advocates of the real, local and sustainable food movements.

2. Please link your posts back to one of the hosting blogs. This is a common blog hop courtesy. This link helps build the Simple Lives Thursday community by sending your readers to all of the other participants posts. We all end up sharing and learning from each other.

Featured Posts - The hosts will be choosing posts from the previous SLT to highlight each week. Those chosen will be promoted and linked on all four host blogs. As a highlighted post you will also have the chance to win in special giveaways that we will be starting soon — another great reason to link up and share all that you do to live a simple and intentional life!

Featured Posts from Last Week’s Submissions

SLT Featured Post Badge
We really enjoy reading your posts each week! Featured post bloggers, please grab the badge above and display it on your site! Link it to one of the host blogs’ posts for the specific week that you were featured.
Here are our picks from last week’s submissions. Thanks to all who participated — it is always hard to choose!

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1. Our Windmill– A Sustainable Pump by Live Ready Now! “We dug our well last year with the goal of using a windmill pump. Our idea of living sustainably means we aren’t dependent on the availability of fossil fuels or grid power to exist.”
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2. Kale Paneer (gluten free) by Stealthy Mom. “Saag Paneer is a creamy, spicy dish of green (saag) and homemade cheese (paneer). It was one of my favourites when dining out in college and a rarely seen delight here in the Midwest. ”
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3. How to Plant a Cottage-Style Window Box by Livin’ In The Green. “What brings to mind the cozy look of a cottage more than a window box?”

The Simple Lives Thursday Blog Hop

Your Hosts

  1. Diana from A Little Bit of Spain in Iowa
  2. Wardeh from GNOWFGLINS
  3. Alicia from Culinary Bliss
  4. Me!

Wherever you choose to post, it will show up on all 4 sites! As a reminder, this blog hop is a way to share with many people your posts on what you are doing to live a simple life. Whether that’s gardening, raising urban chickens, homeschooling, sewing, making your own deodorant, or cleaning supplies – we want to know about it! If you’re into homeopathy, ways to save money by conserving energy or other ways to live frugally – we want to know about it! If you bike, cook real food, homestead or farm – we want to know about it!



Simple Lives #144

Welcome back to Simple Lives Thursday – a time where we share simple living tips, tricks and projects that we have going.

Please read and follow the Simple Lives Thursday bloghop rules

1. If linking real, traditional and simple recipes, please make sure all ingredients used are whole. Such as whole grains, vegetables, legumes, meats, even sugar. In order to keep the integrity of nourishing food, we will delete any recipes that utilize processed, boxed foods. We are definitely not going to be ingredient policeman, however, please note that this is a hop hosted by advocates of the real, local and sustainable food movements.

2. Please link your posts back to one of the hosting blogs. This is a common blog hop courtesy. This link helps build the Simple Lives Thursday community by sending your readers to all of the other participants posts. We all end up sharing and learning from each other.

Featured Posts - The hosts will be choosing posts from the previous SLT to highlight each week. Those chosen will be promoted and linked on all four host blogs. As a highlighted post you will also have the chance to win in special giveaways that we will be starting soon — another great reason to link up and share all that you do to live a simple and intentional life!

Featured Posts from Last Week’s Submissions

SLT Featured Post Badge
We really enjoy reading your posts each week! Featured post bloggers, please grab the badge above and display it on your site! Link it to one of the host blogs’ posts for the specific week that you were featured.
Here are our picks from last week’s submissions. Thanks to all who participated — it is always hard to choose!
garden-tip2-600x400

1. Garden Tip: Building Good Soil by 6512 and growing. “It’s mid-April and I’m roaming my property like a fat land baron, bending down to sift the gold of our soil through my fingers, cackling at my riches. Actually, I’m really doing this. ”

Tea-Cup-Pin-Cushion-Tut

2. Tea Cup or Mug Pin Cushion Tutorial by Practical Stewardship. “Here is a super fast no-sew tutorial that you could put together in under five minutes. This would be great project even for a preschooler to make, since it would make a lovely gift with little effort.”

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3. What to do with Extra Eggs? by The Self Sufficient HomeAcre. “So now you have extra eggs on hand and maybe the fridge is filling up with egg cartons. What to do with all these little treasures?”

The Simple Lives Thursday Blog Hop

Your Hosts

  1. Diana from A Little Bit of Spain in Iowa
  2. Wardeh from GNOWFGLINS
  3. Alicia from Culinary Bliss
  4. Me!

Wherever you choose to post, it will show up on all 4 sites! As a reminder, this blog hop is a way to share with many people your posts on what you are doing to live a simple life. Whether that’s gardening, raising urban chickens, homeschooling, sewing, making your own deodorant, or cleaning supplies – we want to know about it! If you’re into homeopathy, ways to save money by conserving energy or other ways to live frugally – we want to know about it! If you bike, cook real food, homestead or farm – we want to know about it!