LHG Voices

Welcome to LHG Voices! Here you will find great content about all things homesteading.
From helpful tips to best practices to personal stories of the amazing women who make up this organization, this is the place to find out what is happening with Ladies Homestead Gathering.
We're glad you are here!

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  • 08/10/2018 9:21 AM | Amanda Stephens (Administrator)

    From Cyndi Ball [and Amanda Stephens]:

    I am writing my confession. I am most definitely guilty of fowl play during our NLHG Road Trip 2018. [Amanda: This is unbelievable. And yet not.]

    Before we left Atlanta, Amanda gave Trina and I a list. She wanted specific pictures during our trip so she could use them for Instagram and Twitter. Among all our other duties for this trip, we were constantly on the lookout for the "list" pictures to send to Amanda. [She makes it sound so onerous.]

    One specific request of her's kept eluding us - a 12' tall metal chicken. We looked EVERYWHERE for this chicken! We saw giant metal cows in a pasture that were at least 12' tall. We spotted a HUGE ram's head, complete with horns. (It got dark before Jennifer and I could each sit on a horn so Trina could take the picture.) We saw wooden life-sized black bears, a concrete eagle with a massive wingspan, and a larger-than-life metal pig! But no 12' metal chicken. [IT WAS A JOKE.]

    We were in the adorable town of Sisters, waiting to meet up with Quincy from the LHG of Deschutes County, OR Chapter (we were early) and Trina and I decided to wander the streets a little. We came upon this cute little antique shop with metal chickens on the front lawn. They were about 2.5' tall. We were desperate, and I knew this would be our last chance before we reached the Mother Earth News Fair.

    I succumbed to the pressure of that darn picture list. I told Trina, "If you get real low to the ground and shoot the chicken from below, it will make it look really big." I squatted down low, as low as I could get, and pointed the lens of my iPhone toward that tiny little beak ... and snapped the picture! We snickered like little school girls trying to pull a fast one over on the teacher.

    And phew! - mission accomplished, and the stress of the list was now over. [And yet the chickens always come home to roost. *cackle* Oh, especially when there are pictures of you committing the fowl deed:]

    We WERE going to tell her about it when we got home ... she was so excited, and I thought, "What harm can there be in letting her enjoy this pic of a 12' metal chicken for a little bit?" AND if Amanda had NOT posted that picture while we were IN THE AIR!! as she stated in her Instagram post, we could have said something right away on Amanda's post. But instead, I saw the pic of the 12' chicken as I absent-mindedly looked at a couple of posts on Instagram while taxiing to the runway on our final leg home from Dallas. I needed a little relaxation after Trina's emergency visit with the airport medics. (Don't worry - there's a blog coming for that bit of excitement too, and Trina is doing better!)

    And there it was - the 12' chicken for all the world of Instagram to see and I was helpless to defend myself. And let me note here, we sent the picture to Amanda on FRIDAY morning of last week, and nothing had been done with it and, quite frankly, I'd forgotten about that chicken since we'd been engulfed in the throes of activity associated with our work at Mother Earth News Fair since Friday afternoon. [Cyndi knows better than to think I wasn't sitting on that picture, waiting.]

    So here it is, my confession of fowl play. I will not be a chicken and fly away with my head hidden beneath my wing. I laid an egg when I decided to "alter" the chicken picture. May a thousand pecks of a beak upon my head be my punishment. And may this infraction not come home to roost in further dealings of snapping pictures for Amanda. [Talk is cheep, Cyndi. And we shall see.]

    I am beseeching you all, if any of you have a picture of a REAL 12' metal chicken, would you please send it to Amanda for me?

  • 08/08/2018 3:41 PM | Amanda Stephens (Administrator)

    Quincy Gardener, Cyndi Ball, Trina Reynolds

    From Cyndi Ball:

    Friday morning, after saying goodbye to our Airbnb hosts (they were fabulous, and we highly recommend their place!), Trina and I drove a little way to Sisters, a cute town nestled in the shadow of the Three Sisters mountains. We met with Quincy, the President of the LHG of Deschutes County, OR Chapter.

    We had the most lovely time together - 2 hours chatting about homesteading, LHG, the pros and cons of living in the area, and how the LHG community is growing. Brunch was delicious!! Trina and I, because we try to get to the next place as fast as possible, don’t typically stop for meals when we are on the road. Snacks are our typical fare, and they must be suitable for being eaten in the car while driving.

    Gorgeous views greeted us as we headed up and over the pass toward Albany for the Mother Earth News Fair (MENF). At one point I asked Trina to stop … I saw a river close to the road, and I NEEDED to go to the water. I’ve learned this about myself since traveling over the last year. I’m good for a day or two without being in nature, but after that, I MAY get a little cranky.

    A short climb down the rocky hill, a little walk and I found myself right beside this beautiful running water … so many gorgeous smooth rocks. Breathing deeply, spreading my arms wide, listening to the soothing sounds of the river. As I climbed back up the hill, Trina greeted me and asked, “You doing better?” YEP! See, she knows me, and I’m so grateful she understands.

    While Cyndi found her center, Trina found a La-Z-boy recliner.

    We finally came into town, Albany, the site for MENF. We unloaded our luggage filled with stands, the LHG quilt and all the “stuff” we needed to share the vision of LHG with the ladies in this area. It’s fun now, too, to see familiar faces, the staff who run these conferences, the regular speakers, and the exhibitors who follow MENF around the country.

    After setting up our booth, we settled in at the Airbnb where we had reservations. Trina has done an amazing job of finding us great places to stay. She made me laugh when she called to ask me about this particular Airbnb. She sold me on the home, the views, the sleeping arrangements, and amenities ... then she asked, ”So how do you feel about ghosts?” Umm ... say again?!

    My house in New Hampshire was built in 1806 and was supposedly haunted. A couple of odd things happened throughout the years, and we figured IF there was a ghost, it was a nice ghost and didn’t mind us being there. So no, I didn’t mind going to an Airbnb home that had a ghost.

    The home we stayed in was beautiful!! A restored 1845 farmhouse complete with a friendly female ghost, according to the hostess. She had a particular affinity for this lovely haunted house since she previews horror movies books as her occupation. Her décor? A bit of macabre style. Not sure of macabre style? Look it up, and you’ll understand! Vicki’s yard is immaculate with the occasional gargoyle overseeing the outside of the home and casket filled with flowers. Side note – Trina and I slept great!!!

    That evening, Trina and I met with friends of mine who drove down from WA. They knew me when we only had one child! We had so much fun catching up, and Trina probably learned more about my history than she cared to know!

    Saturday morning, we were up early. I checked over my powerpoint for the day, and then we headed to MENF. And what a great day! We met ladies from all over the Pacific Northwest. So much fun connecting ladies and referring others to existing Chapters. We had a great time at our lunch talk – I asked Trina to share her homesteading journey, and the audience followed suit. The talk at 3:30 packed out the tent! So exciting! Lots of ladies interested in LHG.

    I love hearing the stories (my favorite part) and looking at pictures, swapping info, tips, and tricks about all kinds of subjects. And the community grows, and grows!

    After a full day, Trina and I headed back to the Airbnb. Beyond exhausted, we tried to discuss dinner. To Trina, the only thing that sounded good was ice cream. I had to agree! We stopped by Safeway and picked up a pint each of our favorite ice cream for dinner. We arrived back at the “haunted” house, grabbed a couple of spoons, and settled in to watching the movie, “13 going on 30.” Not much brain power needed for that chick flick!

    After the end of the movie, we each said goodnight and slowly walked to our respective rooms. A fabulous day and we were ready for much-needed sleep.

    (Click here for the next post in the series.)

  • 08/03/2018 7:40 PM | Amanda Stephens (Administrator)

    From Cyndi Ball:

    Good morning from central Oregon where today the mountains surround, and the cool, crisp air invigorates!

    Cyndi studiously working in the morning to send in her blog post

    Yesterday was our longest day of "in the car" travel. We left Miranda's at 8:05am and headed southward. But before we said goodbye to North Idaho, Nicole Hundrup invited us to stop by her homestead. You know me, never pass up a visit to a homestead! Nicole has had an interesting background of locations before landing in North Idaho. She and her husband lived in the Monterey area of California (close to where I used to live) and in Hawaii! What a contrast with the climate of North Idaho! :)

    But our tour of her homestead showed that she was well adjusted to her area and is making great strides in her successes with homesteading. She has three adorable children under the age of five, making her chores outside a little more challenging. Nicole has sheep, cows, chickens, LGDs, and a beautiful garden and orchard. Her husband, quite the craftsman, has finished the loafing shed and fences. They've done a lot of work since acquiring their ten acres of land. They're also trying their hand at tanning hides - can't wait to hear how this turns out! So thankful we had a chance for a quick visit.

    After we said our goodbyes to Nicole and her crew, we hopped in the car to find fuel for the long trip ahead of us. Loaded up with snacks and a full tank of gas, we headed southward.

    Cherry tomatoes to snack on 

    Eight plus hours of driving yesterday, vastly different landscapes, and a few podcasts filled our hours. We stopped in the small town of Moro in Sherman County for a potty break. Trust me, you stopped where you could because some of the stretches between any kind of civilization were looooong!

    Right next to a public restroom was a small local museum. I thought a "walk" break would be good for us, and besides, we both love history, so in we went. Three elderly ladies greeted us, and we chatted for a few minutes. We paid the $5 each (thank you Jill Wolfe!) and started through the museum ... a museum that has won national awards! I loved it! It was very hometown, pertaining mostly to their area and the history there. So many personal items donated to the museum from families. One of the ladies we chatted with donated an entire kitchen from a family home that had to be taken down! You don't get history stories like that at big museums.

    They used to run sheep in this particular area, and now the major crop is wheat. Thousands of acres of wheat and it makes for the most beautiful scenery. In fact, Sherman County along (population 1,765) produces over 5 million bushels of wheat each year! And a bushel is 60 pounds ... 300,000,000 pounds of wheat each ear!! And that is just one area. When you see wheat fields to the horizon and think about your one loaf of bread at home and the loaves on the grocery store shelves, it's a little hard to wrap your head around.

    We said our goodbyes and started down the road again. Only two hours left to travel. We left the fields of corn and wheat and headed back to the foothills of the mountains. Earlier in the day, starting just outside of Kennewick, we drove along the Columbia River. Trains and semi trucks looked like little toys beside it. Around one bend, Mount Hood came into view, a bit hazy because of the smoke from the fires.

    We'd seen all kinds of terrain in those eight hours. After a quick bite at Subway (chopped salad for me and tuna for Trina), we pulled into the driveway of our Airbnb for the night. Owned by the sweetest couple, it is a beautiful home with incredible views of the mountains all around. Anna and Bill (and their little Yorkie and very fluffy cats) greeted us. So peaceful and serene in an immaculate neighborhood, nestled in the foothills of the Three Sisters mountains.

    Anna, Bill, and their Yorkie

    I chatted with them 'til the tiredness from driving all day took over, and I headed to bed ... but not until after tasting their kombucha brews! They had just started making their own, and the ones I sampled were fabulous! I daresay they have a knack for kombucha brewing. :)

    Waking to the rise of the sun over the mountains, flooding my room with its early morning rays, I took my time watching the view and breathing in the mountain air. (I slept with all my windows open!)

    Ya know, these are the times in LHG that I wish I could bring everyone along with me to experience this land and the amazing people we have the privilege of meeting. The soul finds a greater breadth, and the heart finds a greater acceptance of the beautifully wonderful diversity, not just in the terrain of the northwest, but also of its peoples and the stories that have made them who they are.

    (Click here for the next post in the series.)

  • 08/02/2018 3:39 PM | Amanda Stephens (Administrator)

    Visit Instagram for more pictures from these amazing homesteads!

    From Cyndi Ball:

    What a glorious day we had yesterday! All the women here in North Idaho spoiled us completely. We've been shown such kindness and acceptance into their heart-warming LHG community. I can't say enough about our time here with these ladies. I love visiting other homesteads, learning new techniques, seeing new ideas, and learning about the area and how they keep animals according to their environment. North Idaho gets quite a bit of snow and has an extremely short growing season.

    Yesterday morning, we snacked on our "gift basket" breakfast of baked eggs with ham, yummy banana bread, all kinds of fruit, coffee, and other beverages. After breakfast, Trina, Jennifer, and I headed out to visit Cera McIntire's homestead. Cera is the President of the LHG of North Kootenai County, ID Chapter and she's lived at her current place for two years. She's done an incredible amount of work. She has Icelandic sheep, and they're adorable!! So cute and little. They remind me so much of my own Shetland sheep, Sage. Tiny little legs and super fluffy bodies. Cera brought the breed to this area since no one else was raising Icelandic sheep. Her guard dog, Verske, is a hoot! Every time I raised my phone to take a picture, he would photobomb my shot. He's a mess and is so wonderful. He's a cross between two LGD breeds and is so affectionate. Yeah, fell in love with this dog! :)

    Cyndi Ball, Cera McIntire, Nicole Hudrup, Jennifer Reed ... and Verske, the LGD who photobombs in his spare time

    Icelandic sheep ... and Verske

    Cera raises rabbits for meat and pelts. She also tans her own hides - this woman knows a lot! She told me about a technique called the Fermented Suint Method for washing fleeces. Definitely gonna try this! She also has a spoiled potbelly pig. The pig has her own pen (partly because she was a bully to the mixed fowl flock) and is fed all kinds of yummy leftover fruits and veggies from Cera's father-in-law's grocery store chain.

    And then there's the mixed flock! Ducks, chickens (meat and layers), and pigeons all live together in the same area, and it's quite the sight to see, especially the pigeons. Cera had all kinds of "sitting" birds when we were there. Lots of babies soon! Amazing to see them all wandering around together in the barnyard. Her Cochin chickens are huge!

    Nicole, a lady from Cera's Chapter, also joined us at Cera's homestead. Loved getting to meet her and hearing her story. She has her hands full with a busy homestead, lots of animals, and three beautiful children under the age of five. After our tour, Nicole sent us on our way with local candy - Idaho Spud and Brown and Haley Mountain Bar. Seriously yummy!

    We headed back to Miranda's for a bit so I could resend the blog post (you all know how technically challenged I am!). Then we headed out to Lorinda Barnes's homestead in the Priest River area. Lorinda is the President of the LHG of West Bonner County, Idaho Chapter. She's been at her homestead here in Idaho for two years. She moved her animals from their Kansas homestead in 2016.

    The drive out to Lorinda's place was so beautiful! I said to Trina and Jennifer, "How many times can you say "WOW" before it becomes obnoxious?!" Every bend in the road was so picturesque. Lorinda lives at the base of a mountain on sixty acres with her husband and daughter and her livestock. Her biggest attraction? Her mini-Jersey cows!

    After a fabulous lunch of four different kinds of finger sandwiches, two pasta dishes, mozzarella-tomato-basil spears drizzled with a reduction of balsamic vinegar, and other goodies, we toured Lorinda's farm. We walked through her amazing garden with ALL varieties of herbs, flowers, veggies, and fruit trees. Her chicken setup is inspiring! She raises Faverolles chickens - breeding for Faverolles standards. :)

    And then we headed to the barn to see her cows! After a foot wash in bleach water, we went in with the cows ... adorable and so friendly. Yeah - we spend quite a bit of time in the barn petting the dows and "ooooo"ing and "ahhhh"ing over them. Lorinda has to keep halters on her cows so no one mistakes them for deer and shoots them - a real concern in her area.

    She has one Highland female - and oh my word, I'd definitely own this breed if I didn't live in the South.

    We looked at the clock and had to get going because that evening the Chapters had planned a potluck dinner at the waterfront park in Sandpoint. Back to Miranda's to freshen up (aka, remove cow kisses from faces and hands!) and then on to the park.

    I don't know how to put into words the "magic" that happened when we arrived at the park. First - the views were stunning! A beautiful pristine lake surrounded by majestic mountains. A wonderful breeze coming off the water. Second - the warmest welcome from the ladies in the two Chapters. We were embraced and welcomed into their community. Like-minded women with their families, coming together to share a fabulous meal, connecting through stories and the sharing of ideas and knowledge. And we were enveloped into this community as if we'd lived next door to them. It was a moment that I've tucked securely into my heart, and it fuels the fire within to get the word out about LHG. I can't tell you how many women (and MEN!) thanked me for starting LHG, what it has meant to them and their families. I had women share with me what it meant to finally find their "tribe," to truly connect with other women and the amazing friendships they had formed. The sharing of knowledge, the building of a beautiful community, and the growth of lasting friendships. I see this happening over and over as we travel and meet new Chapters.

    Cyndi Ball, Sarah Wylie, Lorinda Barnes

    We have the privilege of being part of a movement, an amazing movement for women. To make a difference in the lives of other women through the foundation of community. To offer empowerment, encouragement, and support through the power of friendships.

    Trina, Jennifer, and I mingled and shared stories. We listened and gained insight into this area of the country. Seasoned homesteaders, new homesteaders, young, old, all gathered for the same reason - the community and friendship based on homesteading. We shared an incredible meal of lamb burgers and all kinds of homemade dishes. 

    Thanks, Cera, for butchering and making the lamb burgers, and to Nicole for the masterful cooking!

    This trip to Idaho, this moment in time to immerse ourselves in an LHG community on the other side of the country, this is what inspires. This is what motivates me to jump the hurdles, to press on through some of the tougher times of growing a nonprofit, to "do it scared" so we can reach other women with the gift that LHG offers.

    I was privileged and humbled by the outpouring of love and energy to make us feel so welcomed. A huge thank you to these ladies of Idaho! There are so many more to mention, to thank them for their commitment to the vision and mission of LHG. Thank you for sharing your stories. Thank you for the efforts you've made to create such a loving and accepting environment in your community. Thank you for sharing the knowledge of homesteading and for embracing ALL who desire to pursue this lifestyle no matter where they are in their journey. You, ladies of North Idaho, are a true inspiration! And we will definitely be back!!

    (Click here for the next post in the series.)

  • 08/01/2018 7:56 PM | Amanda Stephens (Administrator)

    From Cyndi Ball:

    I'm sitting outside under a grove of old maple trees, a cool wind blowing at my back, not a bug to be seen. While I sit here writing this blog, so many thoughts are running through my head.

    Yesterday morning, we met with the gal who owns the Airbnb we were staying in while we were in Yakima. Maria is a true kindred spirit - we knew as soon as we stepped into the guest house. There are herbal books all around, canning jars of dried herbs with labels, and the fridge was filled with all kinds of homemade goodies like yogurt, a jar of whole milk, kombucha, and jams. 

    She took us over to meet the gentleman who farms on her property, organically in the middle of commercial orchards. Come to find out, he's from Marietta, Georgia. Their growing season is from May to October. He said he could start sooner or go later using his hoop house, but he's limited because of the water rights they pay for. And even during the growing season, it's a struggle because when the commercial places run their water, his pressure is really low. It's interesting to me as we travel and talk with others, to hear about other difficulties areas deal with to grow food.

    Yep, Maria was part of our tribe! It was fun to hear her story and the challenges she's had bringing a different perspective to farming in a very commercial area. A lot like my own story. After a lovely visit, we assured her that if we were back her way next year, we'd definitely be staying with her again. She was excited to hear about NLHG and what we are doing. She even mentioned the possibility of starting a Chapter since we had done all the work to establish a structure for the very same goals she had for her area. It was definitely not a coincidence that we were staying at her place. Way to go, Trina, for booking us at this particular AirBnB!

    We hopped in the car and were off to Idaho, continuing the trek across eastern Washington on I-90.

    Yesterday was beautiful - clear skies, a little hazy because of the fires, but you could see forever! The landscape is magnificent. Rugged, desolate, barren, and hot! And then we'd drive over a rise or come down the other side of a plateau, and there would be pockets of civilization. Patches of green, huge irrigation structures, a small town. Such contrast to Georgia ... and so magnificent. Mostly what we saw growing were acres and acres of hay - a lot of alfalfa bundled into huge square bales. Fields of potatoes, sunflowers, and corn. The closer we got to Idaho, the more cornfields.

    Eastern Washington has very few trees being that it's a high desert. We were a little ways from the border of Idaho and trees began to appear, as if to say, "That's eastern Washington, and now you are in Idaho!"

    It didn't take us long, and we were at the restaurant where we were to meet the Boards from our two Chapters in North Idaho. Pretty soon we were all together, and the connection was instantaneous. And we had an extra visitor that evening. Jennifer Reed met us here in Idaho!! She'd formed a connection with Lorinda (President of the West Bonner Chapter) over the months and wanted to meet her face-to-face. This was perfect timing!

    We shared a meal together and shared stories and Jennifer, Trina, and I learned a lot about Idaho and the challenges they face in their homesteading journey. Such a great time together!! I was so caught up in the chatting and sharing and the building of community, I forgot to take a picture!

    After our goodbyes, we followed Miranda home - she graciously offered to put us up for our stay here. The pictures of her place will tell the story better than I can. This home was the original house (built in the 1940s) in this area and occupied 60 acres. The land was sold off, and now there is a neighborhood, but Miranda's home still retains two acres of the original acreage. The old outbuildings are fabulous! And the place where we are staying, above the garage, is just perfect. 

    We have been so overwhelmed by these two Chapters. Lovely gifts and food in our little apartment, such kindness from Miranda and the other ladies. And now we are off to visit some of these ladies' homesteads!!

    (Click here for the next post in the series.)

  • 07/31/2018 3:17 PM | Amanda Stephens (Administrator)

    From Cyndi Ball:

    After a couple of loads of laundry and breakfast with my brother, Trina and I headed out the door for our next great LHG adventure.

    We drove down to the Bremerton Ferry Terminal and got in line with all the other cars headed to Seattle. It's been a long time since I've been on the ferries and this was Trina's first time!

    The day was gorgeous! Hazy skies, high 70's and a very cool wind that came off the water.

    The ferry docked and unloaded people and cars, then it was our turn to load up and head to Seattle! After we parked and put on the emergency brake (as required), Trina and I made our way to the sun deck to watch the scenery as we crossed Puget Sound.

    Stunning. Not gonna lie - really made me miss living in the Northwest, being so close to water and mountains.

    As we rounded the bend of one of the islands, Seattle came into view in all its splendor. Pretty soon we docked and drove off the ferry.

    We had great plans of seeing all kinds of sights in Seattle, but the traffic got the best of me. Well, that and a little less than a quarter of a tank of gas! We tried to get to Pike Place Market and ended up driving through so Trina could at least "see" the Market. We drove down 4th Avenue - an avenue I walked down frequently when I worked in a high rise in Seattle. I filled the tank with a little fuel - at $4.15/gallon, I only needed enough to make it out of the city!

    My one request for visiting the city was to eat at an authentic Vietnamese restaurant. Amanda (Communications Director for the National Ladies Homestead Gathering - aka Amazing Researcher!) and I had landed on the same Vietnamese restaurant for lunch - The Tamarind Tree. The restaurant is beautiful, and it's located in Japan Town. The food did not disappoint!

    With the satisfaction of a great meal and doggy bag in hand, Trina and I headed for the mountains - the Cascades, to be exact. I drove over the Mercer Island on I-90 and headed for Snoqualmie Pass which would take us to Yakima, our final destination for the day.

    I am most definitely a "mountain" person, and the views were incredible. Photos don't do it justice. Over the pass and down the other side into eastern Washington. What a stark contrast in the views!

    The lush green of western Washington disappears and gives way to high desert, rolling hills barren of trees. Beautiful in its own right.

    The closer we got to Yakima, we began to see patches of green ... amazing expanses of apple trees! A lot of apples distributed around the country originate from this area. While finishing up a conference call (Trina was now driving), we arrived at our beautiful little guest house for the night, right in the middle of apple orchards! There was a chicken tractor with chickens in the front yard, all kinds of herbal plants, and lots of herbal books and jars of dried herbs!

    I do believe we are staying in the home of a kindred spirit! 

    (Click here for the next post in the series.)

  • 07/29/2018 4:52 PM | Amanda Stephens (Administrator)

    From Cyndi Ball: 

    Our first LHG Chapter in Washington!

    After a leisurely breakfast with my sister-in-law, Carolyn (yogurt with Oregon blueberries, fried duck eggs, and local bacon ) Trina and I packed up and hit the road. Carolyn gifted us with the use of her Mercedes SUV, and it's fabulous! We are riding in style! :)

    We headed north on I-5 to Castle Rock, a quaint little town with a population of just over two thousand. When I lived here before, we would drive the corridor from Seattle to Portland to visit relatives. With six kids in the car, we didn't have time to stop and explore the cute little towns along the way. Castle Rock has undergone a makeover, and it's so quaint with all its local shops. 

    We were to meet the board of the LHG of Cowlitz County, WA Chapter at Vault Books & Brew, a bookstore/coffee shop. Soon three wonderful ladies walked through the door, and we hit it off right away. We pulled up stools to a cafe table and began to chat, listening to each person's story. 

    We shared LHG's story, how it began, our vision, and what a community of other like-minded women would mean for them personally.

    Every person comes with a story. It's so beautiful to hear the HERstories and how the next piece of our tapestry is woven into the design of LHG. At first, these fabulous women were unsure of their next steps and how to gather other women together while juggling their daily lives. But after two-and-a-half hours of sharing and teaching and answering questions, these ladies were ramped up and ready to go!

    They are our first official Chapter in the state of Washington. We've since had a couple more requests for Chapters here, and I expect more after our time at the Mother Earth News Fair in Oregon this weekend. We're excited! The Pacific Northwest is a perfect spot for the National Ladies Homestead Gathering! :)

    After we said our goodbyes to the ladies of Cowlitz County, we continued north on I-5 to Silverdale, where my brother and his family live. He's lived here in the NW for six years, and I've yet to see his new home. Last time I saw him and his family was in North Carolina at our folks' place in 2014. Such a great time together with them! Trina and I were wined and dined with dinner on their beautiful back deck under a clear sky and cool NW breeze. Grilled chicken, marinated spinach salad, fresh sweet corn on the cob and a fruit salad. The night was so relaxing, and the food delicious.

    We talked long into the night, catching up on lives; Trina hearing a lot of family history. Relationships, family, community. My heart and passion and the privilege of helping others connect with one another.

    I mentioned to Trina after leaving Castle Rock and the ladies of the Cowlitz Chapter, "Doesn't it just blow your mind that we are on the west coast talking with ladies who want to carry on the vision of LHG and reach their local community?!" 

    It definitely blows my mind ...

    (Click here for the next post in the series.)

  • 07/28/2018 7:58 PM | Amanda Stephens (Administrator)

    (this is Portland, OREGON, FYI)

    From Cyndi Ball: 


    So what is the difference between PWM and PDX? 

    About 3,186.4 miles plus stops for bathroom breaks!

    And if you're asking "What's the significance of this fact?" and "What the heck do those letters mean?", well, let me just tell you ... 

    Those letters make a HUGE difference if you're booking flights home from Portland, OREGON!

    My sister-in-law asked to see our arrival times AND our departure times from the airport. I went to my inbox and pulled up the emails from Southwest. I looked over the itineraries since we were leaving the next day. All good for going out ... and WHAT??

    Must be a mistake. I checked through ALL the Southwest emails and yep, I'd accidentally booked our flight home from Portland, MAINE! Which meant, in reality, we'd have to drive 3186.4 miles just to catch our flight home back to Atlanta.

    My heart started racing since we were due to board the plane TO Portland, OR in less than 24 hours. I called Southwest Airlines and waited on hold for 25 minutes - it seemed like an eternity!

    "Hello, Southwest Airlines Customer Service, my name is Sarah, how may I help you?"

    "My name is Cyndi and I've done the most embarrassing thing ever and I really hope you can help me!"

    "Oh, I'm sorry and I'm sure we can help you. What's the situation?" 

    "Well, tomorrow morning my friend and I are boarding the plane TO Portland, Oregon." 

    "Uh, huh ..."

    "And then the next Monday, we're supposed to fly home FROM Portland, Oregon but ..."

    She started to chuckle.

    "And let me guess, you booked your flight home from Portland, MAINE."

    "YES!!! That's exactly what I did!"

    "Not a problem; we can fix that for you."

    I got the feeling perhaps, maybe, I wasn't the only one who'd done such a harebrained thing like this before.

    I wanted to hug the woman through the phone! And the crazy thing was, the flight was only getting in an hour later than the flight from Maine. And at 12:45 in the middle of the night it really makes no difference! It's still really, really late!

    So we will be home on Monday night (very early Tuesday morning) arriving from Portland, OREGON.

    So thankful I don't have to drive those 3,186.4 miles just to catch a flight home. ;)

    (Click here for the next post in the series.)

  • 07/28/2018 10:20 AM | Amanda Stephens (Administrator)

    National Ladies Homestead Gathering heads to the Pacific Northwest!

    This morning, Cyndi Ball (Founder and President) and Trina Reynolds (Leadership Director) are flying to Portland, Oregon to begin a ten-day trip to the Northwest. They'll visit our Washington, Idaho, and Oregon Chapters and wrap up at the Mother Earth News Fair in Albany, Oregon. We'll be posting about their trip on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter so follow us so you won't miss anything (hashtag #NLHGRoadTrip2018)! 

    Check out Cyndi's blog post and our post about their first day of travel!

  • 05/24/2018 9:17 AM | Willa Beth Smith
    2018 International Heritage Breeds Week The Livestock Conservancy

    Heritage Breeds include some of the first livestock brought to North America with settlers.  Barred Plymouth Rock chickens were one of the first breeds raised and bred on American soil. The ancestors of today's Colonial Spanish horse breed came with Spanish colonists and their descendants can still be found in wild herds in the West. With each new generation, these breeds became stronger and more adapted to our climate and our environment. 

    Why Raise Heritage Breeds

    Most of today’s livestock production farming hinge on monocultures or specialized breeds.  Without the diversity of heritage breeds, stronger traits like disease resistance, weather tolerance, mothering instincts and fertility can be lost.  If a disease hits a large monoculture farm, it can decimate our food supply.  It is incredibly important to maintain heritage breeds to avoid their extinction.

    In an article on heritage breeds, Mother Earth News states that, “According to recent studies, within the USA more than 83% of dairy cows are Holsteins, similarly 75% of pigs are one of three main breeds and the majority of chickens in factory farms come from only a few select breeds.” 

    Since most commercial farmers only use a few select breeds, The Livestock Conservancy has long list of heritage breeds on their Conservation Priority List.  Many members of the National Ladies Homestead Gathering recognize the need for conservation - be it animal or plant! - and they have chosen to help save heritage breeds and raise them on their farms or homesteads. 

    Amber Barnes and Lorinda Barnes – North Woods Homestead in Priest River, Idaho - LHG of West Bonner County, ID Members

    Amber and Lorinda wanted to breed chickens on their family farm - North Woods Homestead - to be more self-sustaining.  They quickly established themselves as Idaho’s premier breeders of Salmon Faverolles.  They researched dual purpose breeds best suited for their far northern climate.  Salmon Faverolles stood out and were Amber’s first choice.  They liked their docile nature, hardiness and ability to lay through the harsh winters.  And, let’s admit it, they're pretty cute with their fluffy faces!  But when they learned The Livestock Conservancy included Faverolles on their Conservation Priority List as a Threatened breed, they decided Salmon Faverolles would fit well into their homestead goals.

    Cathy Payne – Broad River Pastures in Athens, GA - LHG of Athens-Clarke County, GA Member

    Cathy became an expert on Guinea Hogs without even intending it.  When she started raising them, she asked questions and sought help from The Livestock Conservancy.  They referred her to others with experience.  Over time, Cathy began compiling everything she learned about Guinea Hogs and started writing about the breed.  Pretty soon, she was the expert, and everyone called her when they had a question!  Even though Cathy is retiring from homesteading, she is still writing books on Guinea Hogs and teaching others about the benefits of raising them. 

    Aimee Dickerson – Thornberry Ridge in Draper, Virginia - LHG of Wythe County, VA Member

    Aimee and her family run Thornberry Ridge and specialize in processing beef and hogs.  Their Dexter Cattle are raised entirely on pasture. Dexter cattle are one of the smallest breeds in the world. They are known for their excellent maternal qualities and are weather hardy and forage-efficient.  They are high producers of milk, making them an excellent dual breed for any homestead. 

    We also have LHG members who raise heritage ducks and sheep as well.  There are too many to name them all!  We are thankful for our resourceful and conservation-minded members.

    An Urgent Need

    To maintain genetic diversity in our farm animals, we need more people to raise heritage breeds.  Some of these breeds are in danger of genetic extinction without swift action by farmers and homesteaders like us.  It is just as easy to raise a heritage breed as it is to raise any other breed.  The Livestock Conservancy can connect you to breeders in your area as well as get you established as a breeder.

    Right now, The Livestock Conservancy is searching for people interested in raising Heritage Turkeys.  If you are interested in joining The Livestock Conservancy, visit their website and browse the information on rare breeds. Director Alison Martin is always willing to talk with future breeders and connect them with the right resources and people.

    A documentary is in the works, too, by Backyard Green Films documenting Master Breeders.  There are also other initiatives like “Shave’em to Save’em” which is all about raising heritage wool. 

    Do you raise a heritage breed? If so, please share your story and experience to help others learn more about it!

    Cultivating Dreams  ::  Growing Communities

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