The Summer Rages On But For Us Harvest Season Has Started!

It’s been a while since I’ve blogged as we have been so busy here at HiBar Ranch. June was crazy as we were preparing for family for the fourth of July week. Our theme was “Look Closer”. It was the message my husband’s Grandfather always shared with him when he was young to instill a curiosity in seeing things with fresh and or different eyes.

It is this curiosity that made my husband the amazing man that he is.

June was a month of getting the farm ready for guests. We had to install a bathroom in our shop area which finished up quite nicely. We had to hook up our RV to our septic system so that guests could use that set up easily. Our off grid cabin had to be prepped for kids sleeping in the loft. Not to mention, we had tons of planting to do and a baby mule and baby calf to attend to. We had to renovate the gazebo so folks didn’t fall through the decking. I power washed the whole house and painted all the railings and decking. Laura, our daughter, helped paint the gazebo and helped me weed all the beds (of which we have a lot). All three of us – Mike, Laura and I, put down tons of mulch everywhere so the beds were nice. We also brought in truck loads of gravel for the drive and area where folks would be hanging out by the RV and fire pit. And, simultaneously brought in 1000 bales of hay for first cut along with tons of sand for the riding ring so our new mule and mama could have their own space away from the other horses. Laura and Sandy (Mike’s sister in law) were also over doing tons of baking for food for the reunion. It was truly the hardest we’ve ever worked at the farm. We were exhausted but inspired – so it was awesomely productive. My sister and her husband came out early to help us finish the final set up which was very very helpful.

Our new mule Unalii
Our new calf Stormy
Robin watching her firefly while Erik sets up all the technology for the outdoor movie theater
Mike, Erik and Robin trying to figure out how to set up the tipi poles
Mike and Erik making real progress with the tipi
Chloe sleeping by Mike so she could be by him while he finished up with the tipi
Laura helping her dad (Mike) set up the slack line

Then after two years of planning the reunion arrived!!

The reunion with our family was very special. To have grandkids and grand nephews running around the farm and engaging with nature was a special treat. I am not sure we’ll even really get our head around how destructive Covid was from a standpoint of the children, being inside on tech with masks, for over a year. All the kids seemed to have handled it really well but it was such a blessing seeing them run and play outside like we all used to growing up. Being up in the mountains and in nature is such a special gift. We were so blessed to have such an amazing experience with the people we love most in this world.

Our Davis family reunion overlooking the smoky mountains for a mountain picnic
Our grand nephew riding Odie while true southern BBQ was taking place in the background
Sun setting over the farm with folks celebrating down below and pool time!
Mike took the kids up to his mill to show them how to turn logs into lumber
Movie nights outside by the fire and under the stars – Erik our tech guru setting everything up
Pool time was a hit I must say – it was hot here in the Smokies
Some of the family we took gold panning along the feeder streams into Little River where the gold is
The grandkids got to explore the streams and find stones for indigenous tools (our family is part Cherokee, Powhatan and Melungeon)
Like all great summers – the kids found lots of cool critters
Crawfish – there were tons in the stream
The quilt art design my husband’s son designed for us to paint at the reunion
This quilt art design Matthew also designed and it is a gift from all of us to Laura for her tiny cabin project

The main farm house and grounds were decorated with everything fourth of July. It was so fun to decorate and celebrate our nation. My sister and her husband Erik (who is my husband’s 11th cousin) came out early to help us and it made it so much fun for me to have some time with my sister before everyone else showed up.

Our speak easy we refinished for the reunion (an illicit drinking est. during prohibition era)
Of course we had to have the buntings on the deck railings
Floating balls of 4th of July colors for our outdoor movie theater vibe

Inner tubing down the river, picnic in the mountains, log milling, BBQ’ng, Gatlinburg, the Appalachian Trail, and simple cook outs and camp fires while fireworks were exploding all around us under the night sky – made this reunion very special for us. Oh did I mention the fireflies? They were quite the evening entertainers and all family, especially my sister, were completely enthralled.

Robin completely enthralled with her fireflies – we used to catch them when we were little when we’d go to North Dakota for the fourth of July

We were sad to pick up all the games and toys when everyone left. And, the farm was a great dealer quieter. Mike and I love the quiet here. It is a very peaceful place. But, it just wasn’t the same after all the little kids left. Farm life is better with little ones running around.

Mike and I spent the rest of July catching up on all the farm chores that we didn’t get done while we had 15 people here from 10 days. The lawns needed mowing, the fence lines and edging needed weed whacking. The pool needed a complete refill. The gardens needed weeding and first flight of harvesting. And, the list goes on.

But now, it’s the first week of August and our focus has shifted. Now it is all about food production, food preservation and building more food based structures. We are building two key things now for our food future; a solar powered greenhouse and unground root cellar. I will do another blog on those two projects we have now just started.

For this blog I will close on the busy-ness I am feeling now in the food preservation realm that will take place between now and end of fall. As I wake from my relaxed July vacation with family, I am getting inspired again as I see the bounty coming in from our gardens. I will be dehydrating, canning and freezing all our produce for our winter meals. I rarely go to the grocery store. We raise most everything on the farm – milk, eggs, meat, vegetable, fruit, nuts, lumber and wool.

It’s been hard work for several years getting this farm the way we want it to run with the right infrastructure for productivity but also the right lay out to be beautiful as well. The time with family really topped that effort off with a vacation of a lifetime with family we dearly love. Creating memories is what we believe in.

First major harvest from the garden this year
Tomatoes in to ripen off the vine
Medicinal herbs that went into the dehydrator
Seed corn for next year’s plantings, fresh corn and burdock seed pods for seed saving
I save seeds while I do the food preservation so we have next year’s supply on hand

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