Dear Family and Friends Near and Far,
Another exciting year is over, and it’s time to look back at the past twelve months again. Each year is successful in its own way, and even if certain aspects of homesteading are more difficult than in previous years, there is always plenty of space to learn. Each year we are getting deeper into modern homesteading practices, learning and teaching as we go, sharing the experiences and knowledge that we acquired and always being open to trying new ways. To see some of our past events and stories, please take a look at our updated website. New events and workshops will be added in the upcoming months.
The year of 2017 started in a positive note by welcoming Kringle and Kathryn back again, our volunteer couple from 2016, that stood out in many ways. They had more stories to share about their travel around the world, you can follow their inspiring experiences here. They are an inspiration to travel in the correct way and with ethical volunteering philosophies.
Together with the two of them and a group of six hardworking volunteers we started our projects early, the snow hasn’t even melted yet, and spring was barely at our doorsteps. Our earliest project was extending the roof of the barn, building new roof windows and working on the building as well as general home improvement projects on the main house.
During these early spring months we also took an old barn apart in the village, and recycled almost all the wood during the summer for various building projects. We have been using recycled wood in most of our natural building plans, lessening the impact on our local forest. The spring months also meant a lot of hours spent in the garden, which is now big enough to provide food for a small family. 75% of our food now comes from the garden.
During the summer time we continued with our yearly workshops, such as ecological construction and some practices of modern homesteading and nature, and once again our most popular workshop proved to be Introduction to Herbalism At the end of this workshop we organized a herb exhibition at the local market. With the help and co-organizing of Sara and Douglas from Kalotaszeg Durabil we showed our local community the many uses of local herbs. The participants of Introduction to Herbalism brought along what they have learnt to create during the workshop, and shared them with the locals at the market. This included herbal vinegars, salts, soaps, infused oils and tinctures, herbal honeys, as well as rare dried herbs that can be found in the mountains and that we collected on herbal hiking tours during the workshop. The herbalism events will continue in 2018 with new and exciting programs.
During the summer months our Nature Retreat program proved to be very busy once again, and we made a lot of new friends from all corners of the world including Europe, Asia, the USA, and Australia. We are grateful for the new connections that we have created and the people who we had the pleasure to host, including Katie and Loren from River Island Apothecary, whom we had a lot in common with, such as the love for herbs and scents. Their project is worth taking a look at!
We collaborated once again with Sara and Douglas, from Kalotaszeg Durabil and Huedin Piata Market. There were two relevant events that we created together, to share our knowledge and inspire the local community to maintain old traditions. Through the initiative of Sara to motivate locals not to forget natural practices and to use local and seasonal products, we had an exhibition and tasting of various types of vinegars, a varied selection of different tastes, colors and flavors, as well as uses. There was walnut vinegar, infused apple cider vinegar with lavender, calendula and other herbs, vinegars with blueberry, elder and other interesting flavors. We are hoping that in 2018 such events will continue.
In the fall we hosted one of our most interesting artist residents of the year, Mischa McPherson, an inspiring and lovely person, singer, music writer and harp player. She was chosen Gaelic singer of the year, and she was also the young folk award winner. The sounds of her harp fitted so well into our little homestead. You can follow her tour dates, her music and watch her videos here. Listen to one of our favorite songs by her.
In the summer we used some of the recycled wood from the barn that we took apart in the spring to build a new woodshed, with the help of volunteers who came from far away. Our biggest buildings project in 2017 started in the fall, it was building a second floor and putting a new roof on the Little House. This project was made using natural materials and old wood notching techniques. It brought a big change, and now we are looking to rename the house, because it is no longer the Little House. It will be a special building, and the new name will be chosen next year.
Our harvest was not as rich as last year, which was mainly due to the cold spring, late frost, and harsh weather conditions, which caused the loss of all our fruit harvest. Sadly this means that we won’t be able to make moonshine from our own apples this year. Regardless of the poor harvest we had plenty of berries and a beautiful garden.
Our homestead grew in 2017 with the arrival of two goats, that we named Lucy and Fur, gifts from the family of one of our previous volunteers and now friend, Darius. It was a great learning opportunity for us to have goats on our small farm, and now that they are in the herd we definitely miss them. Our chickens also increased in number as new chickens hatched.
We had again a lot of volunteers, and most of our experiences were positive. One of the events that we would like to mention was by the initiative of Heta and Nikolas, two volunteers from Finland, who decided to organize a small concert at our local village bar, which you can watch here. It proved to be not only beautiful to hear Finnish songs but it also inspired other people in the bar to starts singing.
Gyöngyi Maroshegyi from MAZAMATA X was another inspiring musician that we had the pleasure to host and listen to, you can see one of her videos here, they are full of life with fun lyrics.
On that note, we wish you a 2018 filled with music, and enjoy the upcoming months as peacefully as we do: “Large feathery flakes made a veil over everything, and if you were alone and held your breath and listened, you could hear the soft tiny sound of their falling.” From Little House on the Prairie, as it is in our little home in the mountains.
Love and Peace,
Zsuzsi and Roger