It’s taken me awhile to get this posted. I am in the middle of changing my regular blog over to a full fledged website, we butchered over 100 chickens, and took a few days and went to visit friends in Alabama, since the day of the Gathering. But on the 14th of May, we opened up our little farm to guest from multiple areas to come and enjoy fellowship and educational sessions.
We estimate that approximately 60 people attended sessions “pellet free” rabbit raising, natural gardening, introduction to beekeeping, growing herbs, preserving and using herbs, and soap making. Demonstrations were also provided in the area of blacksmithing, slab bowl making, and butchering rabbits, chickens and quail.
Guests attended from several towns in southwest Missouri, including Everton, Ash Grove, Miller, Greenfield, South Greenfield, Clever, Chestnutridge, Hurley, Ash Grove, Walnut Grove, and Lockwood to name a few. Many of the positive comments following the Gathering, included an appreciation of the relaxed atmosphere and the welcoming of children and adults alike.
Joy presented information on how she has implemented a “pellet free” rabbitry. She has taken information from various sources and implemented it at the Beanpost Farmstead. She described how she forages for wild edibles especially for her rabbits, supplements with natural protein sources and also grows things in the garden specifically with her rabbits in mind.
Justin introduced the basics of beekeeping through a very informative powerpoint presentation. He also had some basic beekeeping equipment available to look at, and answered many questions. Justin has gone from one hive last year, to five hives through the process of catching swarms and splitting hives. He has just begun a beekeeping blog to help share what he has learned at Missouri Honey Hill.
Cheryl and her sidekick, Kreo, came from Sudsy Soap to show us how to make a basic lard soap. She explained the basic soap making process, demonstrated the mixing and pouring and discussed how to slice the finished product. Cheryl also shared some other products she makes, discussed some additional essential oils she uses in various soaps and variations of the basic recipes.
Jasmine provided a great overview of herbs and their uses for natural remedies. She covered many of the more common herbs, both cultivated and wild, and explained the various ways of preserving them for future use. She covered extractions, decoctions, infusions, among others. She ultimately made a Chickweed salve with added lavender, by using beeswax, chickweed infused into olive oil and lavender essential oil. There was a huge demand for more information, and we are hoping to convince her to come for a day-long event soon! 🙂
Lance was liked by many, but the neighbors dog seemed to be his biggest fan. 😉 Lance spent his time offering up information about soil pH and nutrients and how to make natural changes with organic ingredients.
Whitney was unable to attend, so I stepped in and demonstrated butchering by dispatching and processing rabbits, quail, and chickens. I utilized the killing cones for the chickens, and explained the lack of stress and adrenaline release on the birds during the killing process. The electric chicken plucker was demonstrated as well. Ultimately, I demonstrated the way I cut up a whole chicken into fryer pieces. We discussed the alternative meat sources that rabbit and quail offer for rapid birth to table meats that don’t require much space. Both of these meats are excellent options for the urban homesteader.
Caleb worked at his forge most of the day, demonstrating his knife-making and blacksmithing skills. He also showed the process of making some wooden slab bowls. Guests were able to hang out in Caleb’s area when there were no other sessions going on that they wanted to attend and between sessions. He was definitely one of the highlights of our event.
All Presenters volunteered their time, which allowed us to keep the Gathering a free event. We hope to make this a semi-annual event and are beginning plans for a Harvest Gathering in the Fall, which we hope will cover various harvest and preservation topics. The idea of hosting the Gatherings stems from what I see as a need to educate and help people in our society get back to the basics of providing for themselves and their families. Since our Facebook group and this blog is growing rapidly, it seemed only natural to take the next step and offer some actual live educational opportunities to anyone who wanted to come. After teaching for 13 years, I knew how to set up the sessions, it was just a matter of finding people willing to share, and I found them all around me. I am truly blessed with friends and acquaintances willing to help with a venture like this and without everyone, it would not have been possible. It truly is just a gathering of people who share the same desires to make their lives simpler and better. It may have been held on our place, as future Gatherings may be, because we have the room to do it, but it was the work of many and without the work and contribution of everyone, it would not have happened.
I believe this first Gathering is just the small beginnings of some wonderful things that we can all benefit from. I’m just thankful to be put in the right place, at the right time, to be able to help it happen. I am also beginning to work on the plans for smaller classes, covering topics in more detail, with more hands on experience. Fees for these classes will be determined as they are developed. I will leave you with more pictures from the day. Enjoy!