Aspendale Farm is a ten acre homestead in the Northwoods of Michigan. Farming at this latitude (zone 4) is a challenge. But we have a dozen laying hens, some ducklings, and four horses, monitored closely by the two barn cats, Maple and Jack, and our English Setter, Benson (Spotty Dog). We have friends who raise our beef for us, and my men deer hunt to fill the larder each fall. My husband is not an animal lover, but he is generous and forbearing, hence all the critters about the place. We grow an orchard and multiple kinds of berries, and we heat our home with a wood furnace. We homeschool our four children and take care of the bulk of our health needs naturally.
There is not anything particular about the way we do things or even why we do things, other than my own innate curiousity and independence. My husband would be just as happy without a cultivated growing thing or a single domesticated living critter on the place. But as homeschoolers, we’ve chosen to Lifeschool and part of the educational value of life is doing for yourself, and part of it is learning the value of hard physical work, and the pride of a good job well done. I’ve always valued well-roundedness very much, and wouldn’t be happy knowing Shakespeare without knowing how to chop wood, and wouldn’t be happy with a prolific garden but no love of poetry. So the children follow suit, becoming adept at math, French, piano, and other pursuits of the mind. We delve into things such as cheesemaking (a failed attempt I might add) or experimenting to see which of three ways is the best to preserve excess spring eggs for use in the lean winter months.
Stacking hundreds of bails of hay, getting in the year’s supply of firewood, or mending fence are, every bit as much as memorizing a poem, painting a picture or experimenting with a new recipe, something done not to make a statement, but to make a life. At Aspendale Farm, we are making six lives.