Home Economics

One of the most significant changes my family has been making is trying to establish as much productivity within, or in proximity to, our home as possible.  It was not so long ago that the family home was the economic engine for the family.  We are trying to reconnect to that tradition.

My husband and I both have careers in healthcare management, and the same skills that created success in the corporate settings are not the same skills that will create success on our new path.


Four fundamental ways our new path differs from our management careers are:

*  Successful professionals are skilled at executing and refining existing business models.  In many ways the task at hand for the modern day homesteader is to create new economic models that don’t yet exist.  People who will be successful at retrofitting their modern homes into the primary source of their incomes, will be reimagining ways to use heritage skills in the modern context.

*  Community building will be key in the new economy.  Identifying community needs and testing creative solutions is a priority.  Corporate professionals spend a lot of time with the public engaged in communication to execute specific messaging.  Yet a listen first approach is the only way to build a community and respond to the changing times.

*  For corporate professionals, organizational growth is a big part of the job.  It is hard for experienced managers like Scott and I to not want to find the ‘right’ model and jump to the scaling. The future will be built by people who aren’t just working within one model, but making many models work and integrating models when appropriate.

*  Last, the future holds a high-degree of ambiguity.  That is certain.  Professionals likely rose to the heights of their organizations because they created order out of chaos.  We are entering a world of ‘peak everything’.  Living with, and adapting to, uncertainty is key to success.

Backyard garden

Homegrown Tinctures

Last winter I took an herbal medicine course and fell in love!

With peaceful joy, I anticipated starting my own homegrown healing library of tinctures, honeys, and salves during the 2017 growing season.

Yarrow Tincture


What I used:

* A handful of fresh cut yarrow (top 3rd of plant)

* Pint Mason Jar

* 80 Proof Vodka


After I had Scott correctly confirm my identification of the plant, I chopped the top portion of the plant into a bowl.

Then I transferred the Yarrow to a mason jar and bruised the plant a bit with my pestle.

Last I covered plant completely with 80 proof (40% alcohol) Vodka in a ~2:1 ratio (2 parts Vodka to 1 part fresh plant).

In 6-8 weeks I will strain all plant material out of the alcohol infusion with cheesecloth, and the remaining liquid will be a Yarrow Tincture.

Feverfew Tincture

What I used:

* A handful of fresh Feverfew flowers and leaves

* Pint Mason Jar

* 80 Proof Vodka


For the Feverfew Tincture, I repeated roughly the same process I used with the Yarrow Tincture. This included having my husband independently confirm plant identification.

This is my first year making my own herbal preprations and I am NOT AN EXPERT. Nevertheless, I’m sure having a lot of fun learning and reconnecting with the healing properties of our natural world.

Wild Healing

“Wildcrafting is the practice of harvesting plants from their natural, or “wild” habitat, for food or medicinal purposes.” -Wikipedia

What a beautiful time in the growing season!

The days are so long and after dinner my husband has been escorting me on wildcrafting quests along the river.

What is not to love about this time of year?


(Blanket Flower)


(Bladder Sena)


(Feverfew, Chocolate Mint, and Catnip)

Alaskan Homestead Vacation

We spent last week on a retreat to Scott’s son’s family homestead in North Pole, AK.

Built on 2 acres of peaceful wilderness, their home rests on the banks of the Chena slough. They moved to the property last fall. This is their first growing season and to our delight, we got to assist them in establishing a starter garden. Quickly I realized that I really don’t know a lot about Alaskan gardening, so first step we did some research.

The quick and dirty stats are:

*  97 Day garden season (May 25 – August 30)

*  Zone 1B (only the hardiest of perennials will survive)

As we observed the yard, we noticed that due to their trees, the property has dappled sun exposure near 24 hours a day in June and July.

What about the soil?

Once we understood the general conditions, we wanted to understand the soil.

There are 3 types of soil:

*  Sandy: Larger particles, drains quickly/does not retain moisture, less nutrients

*  Silt: Leaves hands dirty, holds on to water, more nutrients, compacts easily

*  Clay: Doesn’t aerate or drain well, hardens when dry

Was the Alaskan homestead soil sandy, silt, or clay?

The soil at the Alaskan Homestead had a hard clay surface with sandy pockets below the surface. In contrast, on Fruit Hill Farm we have very rocky, silty soil.

The challenge with sandy soil is that it doesn’t hold on to water.  When we went to nursery and I asked about solutions to clay soil with sandy pockets.  The nursery experts encouraged us to to amend with an organic woody nutrient laced soil conditioner.  In the interest of quicker fix for this growing season that is what we did.

homestead soil

What did we plant?

After we were instructed on soil conditioning, Scott’s daughter-in-law and granddaughter picked out the plants they wanted.

They picked:

*  1 Tomatillo

*  2 Peppers

*  7 Snap Dragons

*  3 Cucumbers

*  1 Mellon vine

*  12 Quinault Strawberry

*  1 Pineapple Strawberry

*  2 Dianthus ‘Arctic Fire’

*  1 Dianthus ‘Indian Carpet’

*  1 Rose bush

The finished project

After the soil was conditioned, we planted the plants, and then watered them with harvested rain water.

The finished garden brought such joy to my heart, especial the smaller bed we named ‘Bella’s Bed’.  Scott showed the grandkids how to water the garden. We can’t wait to see pictures and receive progress updates 🙂


Running For Office

I’m going to be the President someday!”, I proudly declared to my mom when I was six years old.

My mom looked up, and then resumed gardening.

After a pause she finally responded, “Being the President doesn’t seem like a very fulfilling job. It’s more a figurehead position than anything. You won’t make the positive impact you want for your community.

Seeing she had captured my interest, she continued. “If you want to make a real difference, you should run for state or local office.

A big smile crossed my face as I ran down to play by the river, “Someday I will!

On May 15th I filed my candidacy for City Council Position #1 for Millwood, WA.

Just imagine if across our nation, citizens who are truly invested in the towns and cities they live in, grew up in, and will likely grow old in, ran for local level leadership.

Can you imagine how city by city, town by town, our nation could be healed?

What if government decisions were made by people wholly committed to living the consequences of those decisions? What if we could trust that governmental officials were acting for the benefit of a community they belonged to, and not in ambitious personal interest?

I believe public service positions at the local level, are the most essential leadership positions in our nation today and that is why I am running for office.

Life, Liberty, and the Right to Farm?

“Can you imagine the outrage if Michigan residents just lost the right to bear to arms?”                      

In June of 2016 the Michigan Commission of Agriculture & Rural Development issued a new ruling that limited the potency of the Right to Farm Act of 1981. That day not one person in my world…NOT ONE PERSON at my work, friends on social media, or even my family had anything to say about it!

These are the same people who catch the faintest whiff of 2nd Amendment infringement in the air and meet it with a tsunami of “only if you pry them out of our cold, dead hands!”  Make no mistake, I am for the unrestricted right to bear arms…but I feel at least equally passionate about my right to establish a safe a secure food system on my own property.

I am willing to bet the average American would be surprised how much food can be grown on a 1/3 acre lot in the suburbs.

*  Food grown cleanly, without unsightly detractions to the neighborhood

*  Food that takes about an hour a day to grow, harvest, and maintain the system

*  Food that arguably tastes better and is more dense with nutrition than anything you can buy from the supermarket

The best part about independently grown food is it blankets your household in resilience to weather almost any storm. Spend just one hour researching the frailty of our industrialized food system and you will quickly conclude that average Americans, good people, who don’t have private food sources are just three days away from not being able to provide for their family’s next meal.


Perhaps by now you have concluded that I am a passionate defender of the Right to Farm Act of 1981 and I am not.

It breaks my heart that our country has veered so far that this legislation was deemed needed to protect small scale farmers.  I am not typically for legislation that increases regulatory code, because it will be twisted to achieve goals that were never intended.

In regards to farming, the USDA has a long legacy of using regulations at its disposal to prop up big agriculture. The USDA tips the scales in favor of major farms citing small farms are too unsophisticated to be safe.

I agree the Right to Farm Act was birthed out of good intention to protect small farms from threats such as state/local regulations and nuisance lawsuits.

The outcome though is it never addressed the cultural undercurrent that was pulling Americans away from a tradition that has been practiced by every generation except one in our country’s history.  Now almost 40 years later, small scale farmers have to contend with the Act being used by big agriculture to limit small farmers, in addition to the cultural migration that put small farms under attack in the first place.

In America, growing food in suburban/urban settings is too often considered a countercultural act and now sadly in many places it’s illegal too.

honey harvest-3

On my family’s 1/3 acre suburban lot I grow a significant amount of my family’s food, just like my grandparents before me and their predecessors before them.

I believe the pendulum is swinging back into favor of backyard and suburban farms. However we have a long way to go. I will know our work is done when threats to our rights to farm are answered by a thunderous resistant choir of voices saying, “only if you pry them out of our cold, dead hands!” 

Canned food

(originally appeared on Shawna’s former blog, Lion’s Thunder, 11/22/16)

Whispers From Eden

No doubt I woke up on the wrong side of the bed this morning.

Our matriarch hen was outside my window trying to wake up everyone within earshot at sun-break. Today it made me especially angry because my son and his friend, who spent the night outside, promised me they would feed the chickens when they started cackling in the morning…they did not.

As everyone slept through the angry symphony in our backyard, I pulled on my robe and went down to feed the chickens. After the chickens were eating I climbed up into the playhouse to ask my son why he was ignoring the chickens after he promised to take care of them so I could sleep in.

I admit, I was not the best version of myself during this conversation and regrettably I dropped an F-bomb under my breath as I walked off 😦

Afterward, I fretted to myself. I was hit with concern, that when my son’s friend tells his family about Zachary’s crazy mom, his parents won’t judge me with grace.

It was 5:20 am, I was wide awake, full with disappointment in myself.  I sat on a bale in the garden and prayed.

‘You’re fearfully and wonderfully made. You cannot hide from me.’  

You have searched me, Lord, and you know me.

You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar.

You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways.

Before a word is on my tongue you, Lord, know it completely.

You hem me in behind and before, and you lay your hand upon me.

Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain.

Where can I go from your Spirit?

Where can I flee from your presence?

If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.

If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.

If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,” even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you.

For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.

(Psalm 139: 1-14)

Our Grocery Garden

When we are sharing our enthusiasm about growing our own food with others, we often hear responses like:

“I have never had a garden before”

“I don’t have a green thumb”

“Our yard isn’t big enough to grow food”  

My family is passionate about growing our own food. We have been suburban farming for 3 years and this year we plan to have a full 4300 sq. ft. (1/10th of an acre) of our yard devoted to growing food for our table. I am the first to admit though, parts of our property definitely yield more return for the invested energy and money spent.

The most productive part of our property is the 250 sq. ft. we call the grocery garden. Most of what is planted in this 250 sq. ft. space is either a perennial that only needs to be planted once and grows for a lifetime; or can be easily purchased as a ‘start’ (mature plant ready to be planted) for less than $3 each.

A garden like our Grocery Garden is extremely feasible in a yard of any size, and can be nurtured by a gardener with any level of experience.

What’s in our Grocery Garden?

*  Kitchen herbs (thyme, sage, rosemary, basil, and oregano)

*  9 Tomato plants

*  Cut & come again salad greens (kale and lettuce mix)

*  A 120 sq. ft. strawberry patch

*  4 Pepper plants

*  8 Cucumber plants

*  2 Blueberry bushes

*  Multiple blackberry bushes

*  Multiple raspberry bushes

*  Chives

*  Parsley

With a reasonable investment and very little effort to maintain, we encourage everyone to start reaping the monumental benefits of a Grocery Garden of their own.

grocery farm4

Whispers From Eden

“We love because he first loved us” (1 John 4:19)

For the past 20 years I have collected every rose I have ever received.  Every rose my husband, old boyfriends, family and friends have given me have been dried and collected in large glass containers all around our house, just gathering dust.  I have long  thought about returning these dried flowers back to the earth but, with all those memories tied to them, I have procrastinated.

Tonight I spent some time laying out all my old roses in hopes they will lovingly mulch an area in my food forest that was bare.  As I sprinkled my roses around I felt a whisper, ‘You have clung to these flowers because they symbolize that you have been loved.  When you are in your garden, let it be a living reminder that you ARE loved!’

The Dollar is Collapsing: Plan Accordingly

“It is difficult to get a man to understand something
when his salary depends upon his not understanding it.”
-Upton Sinclair

There is no reason to question economic conditions that are playing out in our favor.  When I lost my job 5 years ago, it ushered in the most painful period of my life.  Yet it ended up being an unexpected blessing because it forced Scott and I to question commonly believed economic ‘truths’, and what we discovered left us forever changed. 

“Dishonest money dwindles away, but whoever gathers money little by little makes it grow”  (Proverbs 13:11)

The US dollar will eventually cease to be the world’s reserve currency.  Will this happen in 1 month or in 10 years?  We don’t know.  The fact it hasn’t happened yet, is testimony to the extreme lengths the established system will go to prop up a failed economy in order to benefit governments, businesses, and industries that are ‘too big to fail’.

How We Became An Economic Superpower:

*   Non-Interventionalist Stance Post WWI & Early WWII- The US was not engaged during the first half of the second world war. This catapulted the US onto the global scene as an economic superpower for 2 reasons-

– The world turned to us to build manufactured goods not available in war stricken countries, resulting in massive economic growth
– We became a safe haven to store much of the world’s physical gold holdings

*  Bretton Woods System (July 1944)- Since the US controlled ~67% of the world’s gold, the US dollar was set as the global reserve currency because of its convertibility with the gold reserves.

Major Milestones collapsing the US Dollar:

*  Nixon Takes US Off the Gold Standard- On August 15, 1971, President Nixon announced the US dollar was no longer convertible to gold in a fixed value.

*  Morning in America- Under President Ronald Reagan’s administration, supply-side economics tactics were ushered into practice. This stopped “tax and spend” and moved our economic policies towards “borrow and spend”. Supply-side economics is a macro-economic theory where capital investments are made with borrowed money on the promise that the economy will grow due to the capital investments. The issue is, perpetual economic growth is required to chase deferred returns on today’s investments. The federal debt was quadrupled (from 1 to 4 trillion dollars) during Reagan’s presidency.

*  George W. Bush- Under the George W. Bush presidency, with an unfunded war, wall street bailouts, and cash stimulus packages, the federal debt rose rose from $5.73 trillion to $10.63 trillion. The bigger story though is the dollar index dropped from 121.02 in 2001 to 70.69 in March of 2008.

*  Barrack Obama- Under the Barrack Obama presidency, Quantitative Easing (QE2 & QE3) continued, flooding the global economy with unbacked reserve notes. The federal debt rose to $19.9 trillion dollars at the time of this writing. Also, in December of 2014 the ‘Cromnibus’ passed eliminating key protections of the Dodd-Frank Act of 2010.  The result not only puts taxpayers on the hook for future bailouts of the banks, but actually gives banks and their derivative investments priority over private citizen’s deposits.

*  Private US Debt- After decades of unprecedented consumerism fueled by easy to get credit cards, mortgages, auto loans, student loans, and other personal debt, at the time of this writing US citizen’s collectively owe $17.9 trillion dollars in personal debt.

*  The 2015 GDP = $17.9 Trillion (point of reference)

“Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law.”  (Romans 13:8)

Even if the US economy is able to prevent a full blown collapse, 2020 is still on the horizon when the last of the baby boomers will start retiring forcing the economy into the hockey-stick’s bend as retirees draw on their federal entitlements and collective retirement savings (the majority of which is currently held in securities).

The US dollar is collapsing.  At Fruit Hill Farm, we are preparing by paying off our debts, investing in the resilience of our local community, loving our neighbor, and trusting God.

(adapted from post originally appeared on Shawna’s former blog, Lion’s Thunder)