Mighty Mountain

I made up this story based on the Mighty Mountain story given in ---. 

Day One and Two, telling and drawing the story of Mighty Mountain:

Many years ago, there was a village that rested at the foot of Mighty Mountain, and the people of the village were grateful to the mountain for bringing them fresh water in the streams that ran down its sides, giving them many foods to eat and keeping them safe from storms.

One time, a sickness fell upon the village, and it seemed everybody became terribly ill. The village medicine man rushed from house to house with his medicine, doing his best to heal the sick and nurse them through their illness.

Adam and Sarah lived with their grandmother, and when their grandmother became sick, Adam rushed out to find the medicine man. Sarah helped her grandmother into bed and placed a cool, wet towel on her forehead to help her feel more comfortable while the waited.

When Adam returned with the medicine man, the medicine man confirmed that their grandmother had caught the illness. But he didn't know what to do, because he was almost out of medicine. The medicine came from a special plant with purple flowers that only grew at the top of Mighty Mountain. The medicine man had to stay and care for the people of the village, and he couldn't go get more medicine.

"I'll go," Adam said. And the medicine man looked at Adam for a moment, deciding whether he could take this journey on his own, even though he was only 7. He saw Adam was serious and knew he was a responsible boy, so he nodded his head.

"I'll go, too," Sarah said. Sarah was only five, and the medicine man was about to say the trip was too much for such a young child, but he knew Sarah was a helpful and brave child. So he nodded again, then told the children where to find the plant.

He also gave them a warning: "When you pick the medicine, you need to bring it to the village right away. It's power only lasts for a day after picking."

After he gathered his tools and supplies, the medicine man knelt down to the children and placed a hand on each of their shoulders. He told them, "Trust to Mighty Mountain, children. It will see you through this journey."

Then he gently squeezed their shoulders in farewell, and left to visit the next house in the village.

The children packed a few supplies and left the next morning. The path was clear, but then suddenly stopped. As it was nearing nightfall, they made camp. Adam fished in the stream and built a fire from the wood Sarah collected. Sarah also picked some berries and they had a meal before sleeping. They felt safe under the sky full of stars on Mighty Mountain.

 On the first day I told the story, and we sat side by side to draw a picture based on the story in the afternoon. This is my picture of the children's camp.

On the first day I told the story, and we sat side by side to draw a picture based on the story in the afternoon. This is my picture of the children's camp.

 Isaac's drawing of the mountain path, with the village at the foot and "x" marks to show where the children camped.

Isaac's drawing of the mountain path, with the village at the foot and "x" marks to show where the children camped.

When they woke up, the path was still not visible. Adam was worried, but Sarah looked up to the peak of Mighty Mountain and said, "Please Mighty Mountain, show us the way so we can bring medicine back to our grandmother and the people of the village."

As if by magic, the vines and trees began to move to the sides and reveal a path. The children followed the clear path up the mountain.

*** Repeat for Day 2 ***

At the end of the third day, they reached the peak of the mountain and saw a field full of the plants with purple flowers. The children decided to camp at the top of the mountain so they could carry the medicine back right away the next morning.

 On day two, I asked Isaac what he remembered from the story and we drew again. This is my picture of the children collecting the medicinal plants.

On day two, I asked Isaac what he remembered from the story and we drew again. This is my picture of the children collecting the medicinal plants.

 Isaac's drawing of Adam at the top of the mountain, Sarah picking berries; he included the path, stream and sunrise.

Isaac's drawing of Adam at the top of the mountain, Sarah picking berries; he included the path, stream and sunrise.

They awoke at sunrise and packed their belongings. After eating a quick breakfast, the children gathered as many of the plants as they could carry, then they rushed along the patch down the mountain to the village. When they reached the village, they found the medicine man and gave him the plants. He was so glad to have the plants, and after thanking the children, he went home to make a medicine from the leaves and flowers while the children hurried home to see their grandmother.

Their grandmother was still very sick, and she couldn't even open her eyes when they came in, but when Adam and Sarah each held one of her hands, she squeezed their hands tightly, and they knew she would get well. That evening, the medicine man came with fresh, powerful medicine, and soon after that, their grandmother was well again. All the people of the village were healthy and joyful again and every day they looked up and said, "Thank you, Mighty Mountain."

 Day three art lesson: coloring Mighty Mountain with block crayons

Day three art lesson: coloring Mighty Mountain with block crayons

 Isaac's block crayon drawing

Isaac's block crayon drawing

Day Three

On Wednesday afternoon, I sat down with Isaac for an art lesson in using block crayons. I had prepared a drawing a few days before, and thought it might be a good way to introduce the crayons. The techniques it includes are:

  • Making smooth, broad strokes to fill a page with a solid color (yellow background)
  • Drawing curved lines with long end of crayon
  • Pressing harder on one side to make a darker edge
  • Blending red and blue to make purple; blending yellow and blue to make green

I had some concern that teaching all these techniques in one go was a little too much, but I was so satisfied with the drawing that I wanted to share it. In retrospect, I wish I had given the art lesson over several days before beginning the Mighty Mountain story. We should have done color blending as a separate lesson, at least. Isaac's piece of art turned out pretty good, though. He understood the technique, but he needs more practice to use the edge of the crayon, not the corner.

 

  • Monday - Tell the story, draw a picture of favorite scene
  • Tuesday - Recall the story (ask questions about what he remembers), draw another picture
  • Wednesday - Art Lesson: Mighty Mountain with block crayons
  • Thursday - See the "M" in Mighty Mountain? Practice writing "M" and "m"
  • Friday - Write sentence about Mighty Mountain

Homestead Report, April 2018

In the Garden

The peach trees bloomed just before the temperatures plummeted to freezing. I'm crossing my fingers that I will still get a decent harvest. The blooms didn't drop prematurely, but the bees were tucked up in their hives, not happily pollinating my trees as they were the day before the freeze.

The Honeycrisp and Arkansas Black apple trees are filled with beautiful, billowy, fragrant blossoms. This is the first year I've seen many blooms on the trees--hopefully we will finally get some tasty fruit from these trees! (They have been in the ground about three years, I think.) The Fuji Apple tree has some leaves unfurling, but I don't see any blooms yet.

Blueberries have just started to bloom. Sadly, the chicken experiment resulted in the early demise of two Sweetheart Blueberry bushes that I hope to replace this summer. The strawberries also took a heavy hit last year. I can see a handful of plants making their comeback, but I fear most were destroyed. I thought I saw some asparagus growing several weeks ago, but it was likely eaten by chickens. I don't expect the asparagus plants to come back--I may plant asparagus again someday, but will probably wait until we move to a more permanent location.

We reseeded grass to cover the dirt patch that used to be our backyard lawn. It's starting to come up, and I'm pleased to see the green on the ground instead of the barren earth our chickens left behind.

The daffodills and tulips are beginning to fade in the front yard. I transplanted a lilac bush to the front, and it's doing swell. It gets more sun in it's new home and may finally produce some blooms. I also sowed a bunch of echinacea seeds and plan to add salvia, lavender, catmint and coreopsis for a pretty flower garden along the driveway.

Seed Starting

I started seeds very late this year! I just started tomatoes, bell peppers, eggplant and basil, and some early broccoli and cabbage. Although I'm starting these seeds about 6-8 weeks behind schedule, our growing season is long enough that I will still get a decent harvest from a late start. I'm choosing to use the seeds and seed growing medium I already have instead of purchasing seedlings to transplant, mostly to avoid unnecessary spending. One of the skills I'm working on is Homestead Economy -- to use what I have instead of going out and buying more.

I've also started some herbs. All the animals in the backyard seemed to conspire against my herb garden, and between dog urine, vole tunneling and chicken foraging, all the herbs were killed. So, in pots now, I have nice rosemary and oregano plants, and seeds started for cilantro, marjoram, thyme and sage. I'll add a few more cooking herbs and fill in the herb garden with some stones and river rock over the next few weeks--the herb garden and some other shade-tolerant plants will surround the brick patio I'm still working on.

Direct Sow

I have a little patch of dirt in the corner of the backyard (about 12 ft x 4 ft) that I plan to install some apple tree guilds in later in the season, but for now, that dirt will be my spring veggie patch.  I've started sugar snap peas, leeks, kale, kohlrabi, turnips, chard, lettuce and marigold, and will plant more in a couple weeks for a continuous harvest until summer sets in.

I also sprinkled some radish, arugula and mizuna (mustard) seeds for a quick-sprouting groundcover and harvest while the other plants get going. I'll need to add some support for the peas once they sprout--I'm planning to build a simple trellis out of the sticks in our yard. 

As I harvest the vegetables, I'll begin planting the perennials and trees that will have permanent residence. I'm planning to get a few more apple trees and a blueberry bush to complete my "permaculture orchard" border along the fence. I'll also tuck in chives, echinacia, catmint and some licorice, anise hyssop and comfrey.

Harvest

Nothing to harvest right now, other than violets (which my son considers a delightful snack). I'm looking forward to harvesting some quick-growing vegetables next month! The cold weather has slowed the strawberries; I don't think I'll see any ripe berries in our yard until the end of May.

The chickens are laying wonderfully. I usually have a surplus of eggs to give away or feed to our lucky dog. I love having chickens and their fresh eggs, in spite of the damage they wrought on my yard last winter.

Skill Building

Right now, I'm really focusing on Plant Tending. It's been my habit in the past few years to have a lot of enthusiasm in starting plants, then fail to tend them well. I would like my plant efforts to bear more fruit this year! 

I also have some projects in store to improve my Building Skills--I need to build a raised bed for my summer vegetable garden, and I also need to build a permanent gate for the chicken run. We have a strip of chicken wire up right now, but the chickens keep finding holes to escape through, and I don't want them finding and gobbling up the plants before I can.

The other skill I am working on is Time Management. Between my professional work, homestead efforts, homeschool/childcare responsibilities and other commitments, I don't have a lot of time to waste on non-productive activities. I recently deactivated my Facebook account, and I've noticed some improvement in project completion. I have plenty of time for breaks and quiet activity, and making sure those breaks are nourishing keeps me from feeling drained. Facebook (and web-surfing in general) are not nourishing for me. For me, nourishing rest is reading, writing, music/singing, light gardening, hiking and knitting, so those are the activities I will try to do when I need a break (not peruse the internet!).

Looking Toward May

Next month I hope to be harvesting some early vegetables, transplanting the seeds I've started into the new raised bed, adding some blueberry bushes and flowering plants to the yard. I will also refill my kiddo's sandbox with fresh sand so he can play for hours outside this summer.

I also hope to save up some money to get a couple of trees cut down behind the garage so I can move the chicken coop to its permanent spot and bring more sunlight into the back yard.

Homestead tasks for the next few weeks:

  • Clean up branches from backyard
  • Continue watering grass and newly planted herbs and veggies
  • Eagerly anticipate sprouting of seeds and explosive growth of strawberry plants
  • Build raised bed planter (like this one)
  • Fill new raised bed with compost mix
  • Continue to work on bathroom remodel (drywall mud, primer and paint)
  • Seriously consider adding a beehive and bees to the backyard this summer
  • Use up strawberry jam from last year! I have several jars of unused jam. I plan to have it on toast, and make some thumbprint cookies. I need more jam plans.