food, farming, friends and family: a meditation on chosen simplicity and (in)voluntary complications – life.

Lessons in Living

The more I realize how continued education in the traditional sense is probably not for me (never say never!), the more I also realize that I love being a student. And that the opportunities for doing so are as varied as the subjects.

I’ve recently gone to a couple of events – a really inspiring ethnobotany talk here in Bellingham that I’ll write about later – and a Country Living Expo in Stanwood (passes for the two of us were my Christmas gift to Neil). The set-up of the expo was a day full of workshops and lectures on self-sufficiency topics of your choice (everything from Livestock Fecal Exams to Bee Keeping to Cover Crops, oh my!)
I wasn’t sure what to expect going into the expo, and it blew me away instantly with 1) it’s size (over 800 people) and 2) the wide range of people that attended. For the most part that diversity existed in terms of age and political beliefs – “the urban liberals” to “the rural libertarians” (to employ some sturdy stereotypes), home gardeners to cattle ranchers, and everyone in between. I watched a group of older women spin wool into yarn on their spinning wheels and listened in as two teenage girls anxiously crossed their fingers, hoping they would be the ones to win the Carhartt jackets in the raffle that closed out the Expo.
It was a great day.
And I went home with a lot of information. I took an Introduction to Weaving workshop and a class on Raising Backyard Poultry. And my favorite workshop by far was Basic Home Cheese-Making, a two-part class where we learned how to make mozzarella, two types of ricotta, and feta cheese. (Blog posts with home trials are certainly coming! And yes, I used to be vegan … again, never say never!) The woman who led the class is Victoria Brown from The Little Brown Farm on Whidbey Island. From what I heard about her work ethic, her dedication to her animals, and her views on both nutrition and food policy, I would love to buy this woman’s milk and cheese on a regular basis.
In the meantime, I’m on the lookout for a milk co-op in Bellingham, some sort of communal tending agreement where everyone benefits from the work he or she puts in with fresh raw milk. I see homemade yogurt in my near future. Yours too?

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