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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!!
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