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PNW Homesteader type says "hi"

Posts: 47
Location: 8B ("cheats" to 9A), Western WA
homeschooling chicken food preservation cooking bee homestead
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"Penny" is my lifelong nickname for those who had trouble saying my given name, so if you see me in the street and shout "Penny", I'll turn my head. (I may also respond to "Moooommmyyy!" because I have little kids.)
"Oakenleaf" is my maiden name anglicized. Its original spelling and pronunciation don't seem to match, so it confounds most English speakers.

I was born in Finland, and have always been a country girl, just not always able to pursue my interests. Several years ago, I eloped with an American and have since become a U.S. Citizen.

I've been lurking at Permies on and off for years, when I need an answer to a question, but every now and again, I've seen posts here that I'd like to reply to, but haven't really been able to. I'll still probably mostly lurk.

We live in a 1930's cottage of about 1600sqft on just over 7 acres of sloped lot of which about 1.5-2 acres is a treed area and there's a bit of a soggy spot one could call a "wetland" by a stretch in Snohomish County, WA. The house came with a small outbuilding that's not really very useful for livestock, but great for storage, and as we discovered when clearing out blackberry canes the first year we moved in, an old chicken coop, which we promptly rehabbed and put chickens into.

We have three kiddos, cats, buncha chickens, and I usually maintain at least two beehives. I built my own beehives while heavily pregnant with my middle child, because I'm that kind of crazy. I'm taking 2019 off from bees to focus on other projects after predators nearly completely wiped out my almost 30 bird layer hen flock before we got the chicken run and coop secured like Fort Knox (a housing development replaced their habitat a few properties up the road, and the predators that usually nabbed one or two birds in a season took them from my yard while I was outside with the chickens). I don't have dogs or horses, but I could as well have been raised in a barn, for it is there I'm most at home, and I'll stop and say "hi" to most dogs if their humans let me.

My grandparents homesteaded before it was cool, and they had a hand in raising me when my mother worked in town, but I didn't pay enough attention as a kid, so now I read books, and read the internet, and experiment, and scratch my head at the results, go back to the drawing board, and try again, until something works. I know that there are easier ways to grow my produce than weed the rows under a scorching sun and carry water from the lake in buckets to the vegetable plot like Grandpa used to do (and make all available kids and grandkids do it, too).

After a few years of just using hand tools and trading barn-sitting for tractor help, we finally scraped up enough funds for a tractor, so now my projects are getting a new boost of energy like never before. To not have to haul everything manually feels like heaven to someone who has a permanent back injury. I've spent this past week putting in potatoes and squashes and pumpkin starts in swale beds on the contour of my hillside as a bit of an experiment. Seemed like something to try because of our long dry summers. If I catch the last rains of the season into the swales, I don't need to be irrigating them every 5 minutes and watching the water evaporate. I'm all for "no till", but this property has been pasture (although when we found it, covered in rampant blackberries) for 60+ years, and digging has so far turned up bits of old china, glass bottles, and rusted out farm equipment left by previous homesteaders, so I'm tilling patches up, removing the potentially tetanus-inducing debris, and then hilling and mulching it back together with soil amendments and manure from neighboring barns.

(Edited because I can't write short coherent sentences today!)
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Eight months pregnant beekeeper mucking about semi-confidently in a top bar hive without gloves.
Posts: 1049
Location: Pac Northwest, east of the Cascades
hugelkultur forest garden trees chicken wofati earthworks building solar rocket stoves woodworking homestead
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Welcome to Permies Penny. Glad to have you here.
Posts: 650
Location: Pacific North West
cattle foraging books chicken cooking food preservation fiber arts writing homestead
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Welcome to permies from a “neighboor” PNW homesteader. ☺️
It's a tiny ad. At least, that's what she said.
Building a Better World in your Backyard by Paul Wheaton and Shawn Klassen-Koop
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