A nearly unanimous survey of friends/family recommended we get reliable internet at the farm. I use it to keep track of my birth doula clients, stay in contact with friends and family, research wellness information for Casa Maria, and plan the garden. We recently got internet through and iPad at the recommendation of Neal's dad. It was more money upfront than we wanted to spend, but we figured that I could use the iPad for work too. Also, if we ever move into the city again, we are more likely to want an iPad than a bulky satelite dish. We were conflicted about the whole decision to get internet because we would like to live as simply as possible. We've been comparing different options and seeing if we could do without internet for 4 months now. We were able to get a month to month contract with AT&T and we can always discontinue it. So far though, so good!
Another long discernment process has been whether or not to get a second vehicle. Currently, when I need to be on call for work, we drive into Milwaukee and Neal takes the bus to/from work. It means we have to leave the chickens unattended, or ask someone else to help us with them. In addition, only having one vehicle limits how often I can take shifts at work at finish my training. When we need to haul things like sawdust or straw to the farm, we have to wait until friends are coming this way and ask for their help. We were lucky enough to find a great deal on a little pickup truck through a friend of a friend. We're disappointed that it won't get great gas mileage, but after crunching the numbers, this seems to be the option that solves the most problems. We'll see how it works.... we can always sell it and go back to our car sharing or get a different vehicle!
We traveled last weekend to Dubuque, Iowa for the national Catholic Worker farm gathering with Dan, Rachel, and Catherine. It was so fun to see our friends in the Catholic Worker movement, eat delicious food, and sing folk songs. I was able to attend round table discussions on the gift economy, practical growers issues, and new farms. Other members of the group attended discussions on economics, urban farms, and perennial agriculture, and soil remediation. I wanted to go to almost all of them, and was glad we were able to exchange notes. We definitely gained some new ideas to try on the farm and some valuable friends we can contact for support. When it's warmer out, we are hoping to visit some of the Wisconsin catholic worker farmers (we didn't realize that there are at least 2 stable farms and then a few other ones just getting started like us). Here is a link with more information about this movement: CW Farms
Neal will be out of town this weekend for his annual Birkebeiner adventure. This is a 50 kilometer ski race near Cable, WI. Afterwards, he'll stop by the family cabin and place taps in the maple trees. We'll take some friends up north in a weekend or two to make maple syrup. We're hoping this season is better than last season. Even very experienced syrup makers were struggling last year. We wait for days when it's warm during the day (40's or 50's) and then cold at night (below freezing). This year we may even get to tap some trees on the farm. We have less maples available on the farm, but more time to tend them... we'll see how it goes.
While Neal and Catherine are away this weekend, I'll be doing some winter reading. I've got a stash of books from the library that were recommended in the Lehman's catalog. A few of them include Barnyard in Your Backyard, Living without Electricity, and Lasagna Gardening. There are also a couple Sci-Fi books in the mix that I can read without feeling guilty that I'm ignoring anyone. Woo hoo!