Our Eclectic Skillset

Workshops, Demonstrations and Presentations

 

 

We Walk Our Talk

We love our 179 year-old home and have restored it to fit our modern lifestyle while keeping its 19th century quaintness

 

The 420' long riverfront property was a monoculture of grass and few trees in 1991 and now it is one of the more diverse lots in the city

 

 

 

  

 

There's even a bellows forge out back where we occasionally host a daylong gathering affectionately call "Forge and Gorge" where we bang on hot metal and feast afterwards

 

 


 

Urban Homesteading

Any property can lend itself to being Earth-friendly

Let us help you create an environment that feeds your soul - and your bellies

 

 

Backyard Bees

 

Hours can be spent sitting quietly and watching the comings and goings around a bee hive

So much can be learned by observing the precision of these of these super-organisms

 

 

 

Since we're more hands-off than some beekeepers, the combs can get, well, complicated

 

  

If you're a beginner, we'd recommend starting with a Langstroth Hive, which has been around for over a hundred years and is a little easier to care for

 

We have a top-frame hive called a BeePod

 

Top frame-style hives have been around for thousands of year

 

              

 

Bearding can occur because of temperature, but it is often an indication that your hive is ready to split

 

Swarms are NOT dangerous and are incredible to witness

 

The sound of thousands of bees spiraling upwards is awe-inspiring

 

 

 

Children are intrinsically fascinated by bees (not to mention their sweet honey) 

 

Let us know how we can get your kids interested in the wonders of the honeybee!

 

 

       

 

We typically do not harvest honey from our hive- unless the colony dies off

 

Unfortunately this is happening more often with the complications of climate change

 

There is so much to be learned from keeping bees and they offer incredible healing - from the honey itself to propolis to pollen to simply slowing down long enough to observe them

 

 

We purchase our Bee Packages from Heritage Honeybee in Sullivan

 

We also love the folks at BeeVangelists Bee Sanctuary in Milwaukee


 

Backyard Hens

Your community doesn't allow backyard poultry?

 

We were instrumental in getting our community to accept backyard chickens

 

Though there's still more education to do, we have our foot in the door

 

    

Keeping food local and within our control is the only way to know what we're really eating

 

Raising backyard hens is so much more entertaining than you might think!

 

 

 

One of favorite breeds is the Buff Orpington.

 

They love to cuddle and they're great layers

 

 

                        

Believe it or not, hens can be trained to stay in the yard

 

Peter uses hand gestures and vocalizations to keep them in line

 

 

 

Dust baths are quite the spectacle

 

Sometimes hens don't know when to come in out of the rain!

 

 

                 

Another breed that we have is the Black Austrolorp

 

They're not as friendly as Buffs, but they're prolific layers

 

Hatching the eggs yourself or getting one-day old chicks and raising them is a huge part of connecting with them

 

 

When needed, we tend to get our chicks from Abendroth's Hatchery near Waterloo, WI

 


 

 

Growing Food in Small Spaces

 

We can consult to figure out how to best use the space you have

 

 

Growing hops is easy and provides great shade over a gazebo

 

Our Bay Laurel is potted and provides for us - and our friends

 

 

 

Children should be exposed to gardening for the vast health benefits

 

Here our grandson helps harvest potatoes from a 2' x 4' x 4' potato tower

 

Food can be grown in the smallest of spaces - Let us come up with some ideas for you

 


 

Growing and Harvesting Garlic

 

 

Growing garlic isn't difficult with the right plan

 

Wait until it's cold enough that the bulbs won't sprout before early spring

 

Once the soil is prepped, divide the cloves with a blunt knife

 

We trench out a row about 4" deep and lay the garlic cloves pointy-side UP about 4" apart

 

Using tree leaves in autumn, we cover the bed with about 5" of for winter cover

 

Harvest takes place somewhere between August and September for us

 

  

We typically make pesto from the scapes and sometimes we miss a couple!

 

The photo on the left shows the root structure of garlic

   

 

Once it's harvested, depending on the moisture content of the soil, it might have to washed

 

We usually let it sit in the sunshine for a couple of hours

 

 

We braid both hard neck and soft neck varieties, though we usually grow the hard neck varieties

 

  

We can grow a year's worth of garlic in a 4' x 10' raised bed

 

We get our locally-sourced natural garlic from Copper Kettle Gourmet Garlic near Erin, WI

 


 

Spring Clean – Make Your Own Cleaning and Hygiene Products

The typical products that we use to clean our homes are filled with industrial chemicals- many which have been proven to cause illness, including asthma

 

We want to know what's in the products we use and we want to break away from the paradigm of consumerism

 

Products we make include: Toothpaste, laundry detergent, dishwashing liquid, bar soap, shampoo, citrus cleaner, floor cleaner, silver cleaner and deodorant

 

Consider us if you want to host a 'homesteading party'

(like a tupperware party, only different)

 

 

We do all kinds of family-friendly events

 

Make arrangements with us and we'll get the supplies so your guests can bring home their own self-made cleaning supplies and proven recipes

 

 

                       

Learn to make your own laundry detergent. dishwashing liquid, toothpaste, lotions and shampoo

 

 

 

         

 

 

Making your own soap is truly gratifying - and it smells terrific

 


 

Angora Rabbits

 

 

The bunny hutch was built by Peter and you'll find the process he used under the Projects and Installations page

 

Julie acquired two Angora rabbits, sisters named Unut and Ostara, so she could comb out their fur and use it to make mittens and such

 

  

Keeping the cages clean means getting out there every day, even when it's subzero!

 

Unut, the black one, and Ostara, the white one, enjoy apple twigs and branches after our apple trees are trimmed and pruned

 

  

The collection of white fluff on the left is a year's worth of Angora combings

 

The fur is then carded using a drum carder

 

Julie will use sheep wool to blend in with the Angora

 

  

Dyed wool is also blended with the Angora to get the colours desired

 

 

The batting is then spun using a spinning wheel and either knitted or woven using a four shaft castle loom

 


 

Fermentation Fun

We have hosted gatherings where we teach folks how to make their own great tasting and healthful fermented foods and beverages

 

Book us for a workshop and take home what you need to make your own!

 

 

Vinegar

 

  

We peel and core our apples using the juice to make cider and the scraps to make vinegar

 

The scraps are placed in a 5 gallon ceramic crock, topped off with spring water and covered with a linen cloth

 

Fermentation takes about 6 months

 

 

  

When the fermentation is complete we strain off as much liquid as possible and then scoop out the solids

 

We use several layers of cheesecloth to twist the remaining liquid from the pulp

 

The dry pulp is then composted

 

 

  

 

The apple cider vinegar contains its own mother and has a lot of uses and health benefits

 

 


 

Pickles

 

  

We use our own cukes, garlic and dill with salt

 

To make healthier pickles easier, top off cucumbers with spring water in a gallon crock and lay a grape leaf (for tannins and yeast) on top

 

Use a plate submerge the cucumbers for around four weeks or so

 

These fermented pickles are delicious and much better for us since they contain beneficial microbes

 

 


 

Sauer Kraut

 

 

Sauer Kraut is fermented using about a tablespoon of pink salt and caraway

 

The salt is hydrophilic and pulls the natural juices out off the shredded cabbage

 

Let stand for about four weeks in a dark, cool cupboard

 

 


 

Kombucha and Natural Sodas

 

  

Kombucha is delicious and full of beneficial bacteria that improve our gut flora

 

It's simple to make- make a black tea using honey or organic sugar and let cool

 

If you have a mother, called a scobie, the process takes about a week. If you're starting from scratch the process might take several weeks

 

Place the tea into a dark, cool cupboard and let the alchemy happen!

 

 

 

We don't drink soda, but sometimes we miss the carbonation

 

Often the kombucha will be quite fizzy and really satisfying to drink

 

A similar recipe can be used to make a remarkable fizzy lemonade

 

Though there is a ver small amount of ethanol produced in this process, it's no more than you find in a ripe, fresh orange

 


 

Mead

 

Mead is an ancient fermented, alcoholic beverage made from honey, spring water and yeast

 

It's especially satisfying when your mead is made from your own honey collected from your own bees!

  

We use about 4-6 points of honey per gallon of spring water, which iOS warmed up a bit to dissolve

 

Once the honey has been dissolved and the temperature is around 90 degrees or less, add the yeast

 

We often use champaign yeast, but it tends to produce a drier mead

 

  

Fruits and spices can be added, called a melomel which are really fun to experiment with

 

The solution is then transferred into a carboy for the fermentation process

 

  

 

We are pretty careful with sterilizing everything to be used in the process

 

Stop up the carboy using an airlock and watch it bubble!

 

 

Depending on your yeast and other factors, you can have a finished mead in as little as a month, but the process can take over a year before bottling

 

Image may contain: 1 person

 

AH! The famous MEAD face!

 

 


 

Living History

 

 

 

We've done a few Independence Day parades for several different groups and causes

 

Peter's presentation at the North American Voyageurs Council led to two presentations for the Wisconsin Historical Museum in Madison, WI

 

  

 

We ran Rock River Rendezvous, an annual living history camp (French and Indian War to Civil War), in our community focused on education

 

                  

 

Though we haven't been involved with camping for a number of years, we are still prepared to present colonial lifeskill

 

 

Haste ye Back!

 

 


 

Scots History

 

 

 

 

Peter is well known for his in-depth Great Kilt demonstration at schools, historical events and Highland Games

 

 

Peter served as Convener for The House of Gordon Wisconsin for several years and traveled to several state Highland Games, including Grandfather Mountain, in that capacity

 

He is also a founding member of the Wisconsin Highland Games

 

 

 

Peter has been honoured on several occasions by being asked to pay tribute to Robert Burns by presenting the Immortal Memory at formal Burns Suppers for local St. Andrews groups

 

He has also worked with community theater honoring Scotland's great bard

 

 

 

Click here for a list of workshops that Peter and Julie have done

 

 

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