I’ve now read more books than I can count on the topics of gardening, permaculture, orchardry err fruit-growing (see, no clue), and general homesteading. And I still fly by the seat of my pants when it comes to just about everything around here.

I bounce around garden areas, watering, fertigating, thinning, side-dressing with comfrey, and saying things like “We really should prune those fruit trees this winter” and “We could grow a ton of this stuff to feed goats!” As if I know anything about any of that stuff.

We’re in the on-the-job training program around here, and one of the educators we’ve had is a collection of books on sustainability. Every time I crack open the pages to a new book on gardening, sustainability, permaculture, or land management; I think it’ll just be the same-old, same-old. But I am happy to continue to be proved wrong with books like Edible Landscaping with a Permaculture Twist.

I think this books is great for folks like me who need someone to simplify the basics of permaculture with doable small steps.

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I’ve always enjoyed cheese, yogurt, kefir, and ice cream. But not since childhood have I been able to embrace the drinking of large glasses of milk. Even as we began getting fresh unpasteurized cow and goat milk I resisted. Instead, I liked my raw milk cultured, especially in the form of milk kefir.

But one thing I have always embraced fully and lovingly is chocolate milk. Recently I’ve been making it by the pint when a craving strikes. Cocoa powder does not easily dissolve in ice cold raw milk, though, and we don’t keep chocolate syrup on hand, so I’ve devised a little work around using raw milk and (raw, if you wish) cocoa powder.

And sometimes, when I need a little boost, I add a few extra ingredients for added nutrition.

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Everything I’ve done over the past decade or so seems quite mundane when you look at it on paper. I grew up, went to college, got married, started a family – it all sounds quite usual, does it not? These days I am in the thick of raising our little ones, wading through the joy and the struggles and the lessons day-by-day. It is often intense, sometimes exhausting, and quite frequently hysterical.

But one of the most seemingly ordinary things to have occurred during these past eight years of child-rearing is one of the most thrilling experiences I have ever had.

I taught my child to read.

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