Living in a pandemic is a unique experience for us all, I am sure. And for us, with multiple high risk folks in the house, we are in long-term lockdown, and are still not going into buildings that are not home. This means we have spent the last 8 months living in our rural bubble. It has been interesting, hard, easy, wonderful, panic-inducing, and just something that I know we will look back on some day and tell stories of that year (or years) when the world stopped.
We have always homeschooled (unschooled) and we already worked from home. We had a garden, we had chickens, and we have been a one car family focused on spending these years before our sons are adults as a tight family that enjoys spending time together and focusing on the important things. We already put work away at 5 and eat dinner and spend time together every night. We already take walks together in the evenings, and have conversations as the sun goes down. We already look forward to weekends so we can play board games, spend more time together, and bake together in the kitchen while we listen to music.
We already make sure to take time for the good things. We spend time reading books and talking about them, programming a new chicken coop door, walking the garden at night as the twinkly lights turn on and the cicadas and frogs sing. We already have games we play together and laugh loudly, sing goofily, and lose track of time as we talk sitting in the kitchen at night.
We already spend time planning what to do next summer in the garden, save seeds, harvest food, can tomatoes, make pickles, dry and blend our own teas, and stock up a whole community apothecary to be prepared if we need to be for the unforeseen. We already have a seed library and seed bank in our home, we have an orchard, we wild forage, and we have our favorite stands of nettles, curly dock, cleavers, chickweed, wild grapes, and elderberry.
We already live our lives like our home is our vacation. We already have a home that we all love, that makes us feel good, and that we enjoy spending time in. We already have routines in our life, and rituals that make each day something to mark and remember. We already celebrate life fully where we are, rooted deeply, and committed to being under-scheduled and focusing on our relationships with each other. We already don't take the privilege we have to live this life for granted.
We already listen in wonder to the frogs singing each night, look up to the moon and the stars and breathe in the fresh air. We already look at the clouds and the sky, and enjoy the turkey, squirrel, bird, fox, coyote, deer, racoon, opossum, groundhog, and others that pass through this beautiful place. We already watch the amazing sunsets and sit at the window as the sun sets and the bats swoop through the sky and around the house finding their dinner.
While none of this is easy - which is for another post - and we have times where we long for connection that isn't zoom or discord, or we wish things might be different, we are also so grateful that we have this time together, we have this land and this place, and we have this time with each other. One day when I am old and gray (ok, I'm already old and gray), and my children are adults and we are spread across the world, we will remember this time and how lucky we were to have this time at the cusp of adulthood. That we could pause this moment and find happiness, comfort, and connection even in one single place. That this world and this life as it is is enough, and that we can enjoy what we have where we are.
As summer winds to a close and we look to fall and winter under our lockdown in our little world, we are looking forward to the change of seasons, autumn leaves, first snow, early darkness, a cozy fireplace, cold crisp air, and the moonlight reflecting off the snow. And, each month is one month closer to the end of this when we can resume our place in the outside world, even closer as a family, and, most importantly, still healthy and alive and together.
One of the things I have been saying for the past several years (decade?), even before we had land, was that I wanted to have a botanical sanctuary where we grow medicinals, natives, and restore native endangered plants from our region. The past two years have had big changes moving to this property, and working to create beds, gardens, prairie, wooded areas, and encourage the continued growth of natives and planting even more, particularly of the endangered and at-risk plants.
We have planted hundreds of medicinals from seedlings we started here, we have many food and medicinal beds, we have a woodland area with medicinals, mushroom logs, and wild fruit. We have a greenhouse, perennials that are ever expanding. We have done so much work, but we do always have more to do. We got to a place last winter where I felt we had done enough to qualify for a botanical sanctuary, and get our status out into the minds of our neighbors, so we have an awareness of our goals and vision for the future on this land.
I am happy to say that we found out just last week that Lunar Hollow Farm is now officially a United Plant Savers Botanical Sanctuary, and, a Certified Wildlife Habitat. I feel like that classification ties in well with future educational offerings, projects such as the Open Source Plant Walk Project I am working on, the native nursery I have been creating, and the ongoing expansion of this work and sharing of knowledge regarding medicinal plant growing and native cultivation. We are here to steward the land, and support the ongoing healing of this soil and landscape to supporting plants, wildlife, and microbia that would be here naturally. Living with this in harmony with human interaction and the always present monocropped landscape of the Wisconsin rural areas, we are cleaving out only a small but important space.
Our long-term goal here includes not only growing more self-sustaining foods for our own family, expanding the medicinal and native gardens to include more at risk plants, and to use this space to teach others about herbalism, plants, conservation, and more.
While the pandemic has changed our ability to have people here so far this year - we had planned on having people visit to help plant, learn more about medicinal plant growing, and to help with harvesting plants for Herbalists Without Borders clinic donations -but the land keeps growing and changing, no matter if one or 100 people are here. So, some ideas are in the works for more online offerings and the open source plant walk as app and wiki for all to use.
This summer has been a good one so far with so many new plantings and systems setup. I plan to update the master plant list and share more about some of the work we have started to lead into the future of Lunar Hollow. For now though, we celebrate our status as a Botanical Sanctuary, and think of ways to share the abundance and beauty of this space with others!
Out in the country, property lines are not always perfect rectangles or squares. For our property, I imagine that breaking a few acres off of farmland involved odd surveying from 150+ year old lines combined with when the town added a road that used to be a driveway 100 years ago. So when they cleaved this land it had to be plots legally switched to rural residential. The hard thing about that is a) what in the world do you do with a point, b) add in township easements for plowing and roads and it is a weirder thing, and c) nobody thinks your land is a point and that it must be attached to these farm fields.
I Am lucky that in that pint there are also elderberries in there, Wild blackberries, nettles, ground ivy, white vervain, pineapple weed, motherwort, and cleavers. So I feel protective of that little rocky pile.
So, one of our plans is to create a split fence on both sides of the farmer easement (he gets a 30’ wide slot to pass through our land to access fields), Install signs, and plant into that area native flowers that are clearly intentional.
A future plan also includes plant walks and classes here as well as selling nursery starts of medicinals, so creating an area people can park is important so they don’t block the road. I would also love to Install a yurt if airstream up front as a workshop classroom guest room - maybe with a gazebo and outdoor pizza oven. Wouldn’t that be amazing?
So who has a farm sign? I’m thinking a farm sign up on that split fence would be good - and we can attach our certified wildlife habitat sign to that, monarch way station sign to that, and if we ever hear back on the botanical sanctuary application, the botanical sanctuary sign to that. Who has a good sign company that you are happy with?
Easements, pass throughs, zoning, odd shapes, and 150 year old rock piles is pretty normal in the world of rural living. Navigating that in a way that respects the land and plants living on it is a part of the rural juggling act. Working on it.
Odd shaped plots also makes drawing plans a challenge - the point is so long it is hard to get it to fit on standard paper without shrinking the rest down too much. Here is a plan with only part of the point!
I am a certified aromatherapist, clinical herbalist, organic gardener, plant conservationist, photographer, writer, designer, artist, nature lover, whole foods maker, and mother of two unschooled boys in south central Wisconsin.